Advent_WordleDear Parishioners:I hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends.  It’s hard to believe its come and gone already.  Now we prepare to enter in the holy season of Advent.  Unfortunately, the media and much of the commercial world push Christmas far too soon.  Non-stop Christmas music playing on the radio in October, Christmas decorations and  displays in November and  Christmas sales on Thanksgiving Day! Yes, even Thanksgiving Day is being pushed as a “Christmas Shopping Day” rather than a day to gather with family and friends and give thanks to God for our blessings.  Opening stores early on Thanksgiving Day and spending the day shopping for even more unnecessary things really is undermining the purpose of the holiday. So as Catholics what are we to do to keep from being over-secularized in our own lives?? Well, first we can  try to keep the spirit of the season of Advent.   It is a season of joyful preparation and prayerful anticipation of the coming of Christ at Christmas.  Also, it is a season “when minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time.” Perhaps we might take some time away from the all the  shopping, parties, and all the rest of the routine  during this time of year.  Why not consider spending some extra time in prayer before you leave for work or stopping by Church on the way home for a visit with Jesus. Would you consider joining us on the Mondays of Advent to learn more about the scriptures of the season?  On Mondays in December we gather together in Church at 7:00PM to adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and learn more about his Sacred Word. Of course, preparing for Christmas during Advent means preparing spiritually as we call out “Come, Lord Jesus!”  One of the best ways to prepare ourselves for Christmas is going to  Confession.  Each Monday night in December guest priests join us for  Confessions at 6:00PM  and on Monday, December 23rd we’ve  added an extra hour.  Did you know that Pope Francis said he goes to confession every two weeks.  He says  knowing that God never tires of forgiving those who repent and knowing that having a priest say "I absolve you" reinforces  belief in God's mercy. Pope Francis said he knows some people are embarrassed to confess their sins to a priest, but it is the best path to spiritual healing and health. Advent is truly a beautiful, somber and  prayerfully solemn season. However, far too many  Christians skip it and join the mad rush to Christmas.  Too many people including many Catholics do not take the time to truly prayerfully prepare and focus  upon the real meaning of the season, Jesus Christ! We bless the Advent Wreath in Church this weekend and are reminded by the lighting of  its candles of the four weeks of prayer and preparation leading to Christmas.  Maybe you might add an Advent Wreath to the many decorations in your home to remind you of the season.  As the Advent Wreath Blessing reminds us:  “Lord God, your Church joyfully awaits the coming of its Savior, who enlightens our hearts and dispels the darkness of ignorance and sin.  May Christ come quickly and not delay .”  Let’s not let Advent begin or end without joyfully and prayerfully preparing for the coming of Christ in our hearts and in our homes. I hope you like the new landscaping in front of Church.  The design was planned by Kyle Alfred, a landscape designer, who  very generously provided his  expertise with the project.  We also wish to thank OLM  Parishioner John Pontarelli and his crew from ProScape  Landscaping  who helped complete the work.   I am grateful for their hard work in making the parish grounds more beautiful and inviting. I hope you enjoy Fr. Connors new bulletin column, “Fr. Connors’ Q & A”.  If you have a question for him be sure to send it his way. Remember Advent has arrived so “Prepare the way, the Lord is coming!! “ God Bless. Have a great week. Go Pats!!