RejoiceDear Parishioners:“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.”  So goes the Entrance Antiphon for the Third Sunday of Advent.   The Third Sunday of Advent is commonly called Gaudete Sunday and sometimes Rose Sunday, this Sunday when we light the rose candle on the Advent wreath.   It is called Gaudete from the Latin to rejoice.  It is a command ordering us to rejoice! In these days of repentance and preparation leading up to the feast of our Savior's birth, it reminds us of the joy that is to come, and serves, amid this season of Advent as a kind of 'break' when we recall the hope we have because of the coming of Jesus. So how might we rejoice? We can come to the celebration of Advent Lessons and Carols Sunday night in Church at 5:00 pm.  There we can with prayer and praise prepare the way rejoicing at the Lord’s coming.  It is a wonderful celebration of the season that calls us to prepare with prayer and patience but also with joyful anticipation.  I hope you join us for this great event for our parish.  We will take up a free-will collection for the Diocesan Keep the Heat Fund so those who are less fortunate than us might also rejoice. If you cannot make it on Sunday to rejoice than perhaps you can come on Tuesday night for the OLM School Pageant.  Father Shemek and I are excited about experiencing our first pageant at OLM as we’ve been told it is a great celebration of the season by our schools kids.  So if you can, please join us on Tuesday at 7:00 pm, it should be a great time! You might also come to the OLM School Band Concert on Thursday at 7:00 pm. Try to stop by and rejoice a little in the season. Of course, if you really need some rejoicing in the season I invite you to consider going to Confession.  This week our OLM School children as well as our RE Classes Grades 7-9  have the opportunity to rejoice in the mercy and forgiveness of God as we will be joined by several visiting priests to celebrate the Sacrament of Confession. Going to Confession is truly a Sacrament of joy as it offers to us the chance to experience God’s unconditional love and mercy. P35When is the last time you made a good Confession?  When is the last time you rejoiced that God not only loves you but also forgives your sins?  Confession is available every Saturday at OLM at 3:00 pm.  If you cannot make it on a Saturday afternoon before Christmas, don’t worry.  Father Shemek and I will be in our confessionals on Christmas Eve Day (December 24th) from 10:00 am until Noon.  So why not give yourself the best Christmas gift you’ll ever receive, God’s loving mercy and forgiveness.  Why not make a little room for the Lord before Christmas?  Stop by and visit Him in the Confessional before Christmas comes, He’s waiting to meet you and forgive you! Advent is  truly the time to prepare for His coming into our own lives and reflect upon our own poverty, the poverty of spirit. No one wants to admit to being needy.  It is, after all, allowing someone else to have strength and power to deliver what we are desperate for. When we are well fed and hydrated, healed, clothed and safe in our homes, it is difficult to be considered “needy”.  Yet most of us are ultimately bereft and spiritually impoverished, needing God even when we won’t admit it, or even reject Him. Despite the wealth with which we surround ourselves every day, our need is still great; we stand empty and ready to be filled–abundantly. Only God can fill that emptiness, only God can truly nourish us, and only God can truly save us.  We sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” but Emmanuel means God-with-us.  So we prepare in Advent for God to come to fill the voids in our lives, to nourish us with His eternal presence and to save us from the snares of this world, sin and selfishness.   But we also  rejoice that we that we have a Savior who is with us today! It’s Advent so stop and be silent, prepare and pray!  But also as Philippians reminds us: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” Have a great week. God Bless.