Dear Parishioners: bethlehembgChristmas is coming once again. Our Advent Season of prayerful and patient preparation, along with its sense of joyful expectation is drawing to a close this week. Soon we are to rejoice at the Good News that a Savior has been born! Christmas arrives this Friday! Let every heart prepare Him room!

One of the best ways to make room for Christ’s coming is to cleanse our hearts. Making a good Confession before Christmas isb1d1e1c231e9a4cf35e90e645b730883 the greatest gift you might receive this year! So to help you “prepare Him room” we are adding an extra hour this week to our regular Monday Night Confessions. Confessions will be heard this Monday, December 20th, from 6:00PM until 8:00PM. Fr. Connors and I are to be joined by visiting priests for Confessions.The recently begun Jubilee Year of Mercy calls us to seek out God’s mercy. Pope Francis speaks of this mercy in his homily for the Year of Mercy Mass, he states: “Yes, dear brothers and sisters, this Holy Year is offered to us to experience in our lives the sweet and gentle touch of God’s forgiveness.”

Black-Friday-at-Target_1280x960This week before Christmas Day is traditionally a busy time for many people. They hurry to finish up the last minute things like writing cards, baking cookies, shopping for special gifts, preparing foods, cleaning houses and trimming the tree! It is also a busy time at the parish as we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. The Church is cleaned, sacred vessels are polished, linens are starched, plants and flowers arranged, the crèche set up and choirs and altar servers rehearse! Yes it is undoubtedly a busy week ahead of Christmas! We have been preparing during Advent for the great feast of our faith, Christmas!

bethlehem1-4dSo a midst the busyness and the frenzy of the final days before Christmas, let us stop, pause, pray and reflect. Stop to remember the reason of the season, God gave us His Only Son on Christmas. Pause to ponder Christ’s real presence here at Mass and in our lives today! Pray to the Lord for his coming especially for those who suffer because war and terror, violence and poverty, those who struggle with addiction and isolation, loneliness and grief. And finally let us truly reflect in our lives and in our words and deeds, the great gift of God’s love given to us on Christmas!

So before Christmas Day take some time to stop by Church to simply pause and pray, ponder and reflect. In a Christmasshepherds_abiding_in_the_fields__Block homily, Pope Francis reminds us: "The shepherds were first to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness.”

We have five scheduled Masses for the Celebration of the Nativity of the Lord. Our celebration of Christmas begins with the 4PMNativity-Christmas-Window Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. Where we are joined by the angelic voices of our OLM Children's Choir. This is perhaps one of the most crowded Masses of the year at OLM. So to ensure yourself a seat you might consider attending one of the four other Mass times. We celebrate the Solemn Mass of Christmas Night at 12:00AM along with the OLM Adult Choir and a Brass and Timpani Ensemble. Midnight Mass is preceded by a Concert of Christmas Carols at 11:30PM. The celebration of the Solemn Mass of Christmas Day is at 7:30AM, 9:00AM and 10:30AM.

Merry-ChristmasOn behalf of Fr. Connors, Deacon Dowd and the OLM Parish Staff, I wish you and your family, a truly Happy and Holy Christmas! You remain in our prayers as we humbly ask for yours. If you are traveling at Christmas or away from the parish, know our prayers for your safe travel. May Christ, the Son of God, born on Christmas Day renew our hope, faith and love, and bring peace and joy to our world, our homes and our lives. Gloria in Excelsis Deo! A very Merry Christmas!