botticelli45Dear Parishioners: We mark the last Sunday of Advent this weekend.  Now we begin the final preparations for Christmas.  No doubt for many that includes some decorating, last minute shopping, baking goodies, sending out cards, and cleaning the house.  At OLM the coming of Christmas means cleaning the Church and getting the beautiful decorations ready for the great feast of God made Man!  It also means an additional hour of Confessions on this Monday night from 6:00PM until 8:00PM.  Fr. Connors and I will be joined by two guest priests and  we encourage you to give  the best gift you can give this Christmas, namely God's mercy and   forgiveness!  What a great way to truly celebrate the coming of our Savior by cleaning our hearts and souls from all that keeps us from drawing ever closer to Him!

It also means a full schedule of Christmas Masses at OLM.   On Christmas Eve we celebrate the Vigil Mass at 4:00PM and our wonderful Choir is singing the carols of Christmas with us.  If you plan on coming to the Vigil Mass, I suggest you come early as it fills up quickly and we usually have what you might describe as an above average sized crowd!  I urge you to please be welcoming to all those good folks visiting OLM for the Vigil Mass! Perhaps even invite them to join us again next Sunday!!

The Nativity of the Lord couldn’t be a celebration without Midnight Mass!  Many other parishes have moved away from the tradition of a Midnight Mass, even Pope Francis  moved it to 9:30PM!  At OLM we celebrate Midnight Mass at Midnight (that’s 12:00AM)!  At 11:30PM a concert of orchestral and choral music with our OLM Choir begins the Midnight celebration.  On the day of Christmas itself we  celebrate the Lord’s Nativity with Masses at 7:30AM, 9:00AM and 10:30AM.  Christ is coming and we plan on celebrating with great solemnity, joy and faith!!

Christmas is always a great opportunity to invite that friend, family member or neighbor to join you at Mass.  I cannot image celebrating Christmas without going to Holy Mass.  But sadly many do not celebrate the great feast of our Savior by coming to adore Him at Mass.  Perhaps if you offer a kind invitation or even provide a ride to that individual or family who have been away from the Lord it might make a  difference for them this Christmas! There's plenty of room in the stable at OLM for everyone!

This last week before Christmas has seen a flurry of  activity around OLM.  Our  Religious Education and OLM School children made good  Confessions this past week.  Our OLM Decorating Committee led by Cecilia Franzone have been working tirelessly to ensure Christmas is celebrated with great beauty.  Our OLM Musicians, Jeff Allard and Deirdre Donovan, and the Choirs have been rehearsing with gusto the great sounds of the season.  All this to prepare the way for Christ’s coming at Christmas here at OLM. Perhaps we all need to take a short break or time out  before Christmas this week .  A little time to pray and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas for  ourselves, our families and our parish.  Let’s not let the flurry of activities and the last minute to do lists take over the authentic reason for the season.

The Irish have a wonderful Christmas tradition of placing a candle in the window of their homes on Christmas Eve.  It is offered as a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they  travel looking for shelter.  The candle is lit by the youngest in the family and extinguished after Christmas preferably by a young girl named Mary (there are lots of girls named Mary in Ireland!).  We might light such a candle in our own homes this Christmas Eve as we  proclaim with the Prophet Isaiah that “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light! Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone!”

Christmas is coming! Light the candles! See the star over the manger! Acclaim the Son of God as the light of the world! Let Him banish the gloom and darkness from our world and our lives!  Fr. Connors and I offer you our  prayers and best wishes for a Happy and Blessed Christmas!