Dear Parishioners: We did a lot of rejoicing last weekend on Gaudete Sunday! On Saturday our All Day Confessions had hundreds coming all day long to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. There were four priests at all times and a steady flow of people for the entire six hours. We rejoice that so many received the grace of the Sacrament of Confession. It is the best Christmas gift that money cannot buy! I wish to thank Father Connors who organized the entire day and arranged all the priests and volunteers who helped to make the day a great success. We thank the many priests who heard Confessions for hours and the volunteers who helped people feel welcomed and made Confession easy. We hope to have another All Day Confessions during the Season of Lent and also schedule another day next Advent.
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception our Holy Father, Pope Francis, lit the Vatican Christmas Tree. During the ceremony he spoke about Confession. He said: If you have something dark in your soul, ask the Lord for forgiveness. Christmas is a great opportunity to cleanse the soul, eh! Do not fear, the priest is merciful, forgiving all in the name of God, because God forgives everything. let light be in your hearts, in your families, in your cities. And now, with this wish, turn on the light.” This Monday night we are adding an extra hour of Confessions for those who have not yet made a good Confession before Christmas. Two priests are available from 6:00PM until 8:00PM . If you haven’t yet, seize the opportunity to give yourself the best gift of Christmas, a clean soul!
We also rejoiced last Sunday with our twelve new Altar Servers. These fourth graders are all trained and were formally installed at the 10:30AM Mass last week. They begin their service at God’s Holy Altar in January. Keep them in your prayers as they serve our parish in this very important ministry.
On Monday night we rejoiced with Bishop Evans on the fifth anniversary of his ordination as a Bishop. For these five years he has faithfully served our Church of Providence as our Auxiliary Bishop. I thank Bishop Evans for presiding at the Vespers on Monday night and Father Richard Valentine for his inspirational homily. Ad multos annos, Bishop Evans!
Advent is soon to end as Christmas arrives this Thursday! I pray and hope that you have been able to take some time to pray with God in silence and reflect on the true meaning of the great feast of the Nativity of the Lord we soon celebrate. Christmas invites us to pause before the manger and place our aspirations and needs before the Prince of Peace. Christmastime calls us to consider the Word which became flesh, dwelt among us, and freed us from sin. There never has been, is not now, and never will be anyone not saved through the merits of Jesus Christ.
The Christmas Mass Schedule at Our Lady of Mercy is in the bulletin. I invite you to share it with your family, friends and neighbors who may not come to Mass or have slipped away from the practice of the faith. Invite them to come to God’s House this Christmas to experience the joy and peace of the Christ Child. The more the merrier but remember that the 4:00PM Vigil is usually standing room only. You might consider the Midnight Mass or attending a Mass on Christmas Day where there is more seating available. If you are traveling and are to be away from OLM at Christmas, please know that Fr. Connors, Deacon Dowd and I will keep you in our prayers. I ask you to please pray for the sick and shut-in of our parish during this Christmas Season. And also for those who find the holiday a time of grief and sorrow. On Christmas kindness and truth, justice and peace meet; they have become incarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all people. May every heart and home receive the kindness and truth, the justice and peace of Christ. A Happy and Holy Christmas to you and your loved ones!