Dear Parishioners: On Friday night we celebrated the Annual OLM School Christmas Pageant. It is always a joyful and happy occasion as our talented students gather to sing songs of the seasons. The Church is always overflowing with smiling parents, siblings and grandparents. The highlight of the evening is the reenactment of the Nativity Story by the students. It is always a great event for our parish and school. It really is inspiring to be able to sing beautiful Christmas hymns with the students in a spirit of faith, hope and love. Far too many around us have pushed God out of our culture and removed Christ from Christmas.
The OLM School Christmas Pageant is truly a faith-filled way to rejoice in the season. It is also a great way to kick off this weekend of rejoicing. We celebrate this weekend "Gaudete" Sunday, the Sunday of Rejoicing. We rejoice because Christmas is coming soon. We have put away the dour purple vestments and wear the bright rose vestments. This is a sign of our rejoicing in Christ who was born on Christmas Day. We do not rejoice because we believe Jesus came to bring Heaven down to earth. Rather, we rejoice because we rejoice because we know that Jesus, the Son of God, came to open a path from earth into Heaven. The joy of the Christian is the joy of a hope guaranteed by God Himself. This is true joy, the joy of hope, and Christ is its source.
This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, "Gaudete" being the Latin for "Rejoice!" The given entrance antiphon for this Sunday begins, in Latin, with "Gaudete in Domino semper" or "Rejoice in the Lord always.” Here's the English translation of this beautiful antiphon, a hymn to rejoicing: “Rejoice in the Lord always: I say again, rejoice: let your modesty be known unto all: The Lord is at hand. Let nothing upset you: but in all prayers make your needs known unto God. “ So let us rejoice! This is the instruction we are given at the beginning of Mass today. In these last weeks of Advent, we might become weary and distracted. That’s why the Church tells us to rejoice. Christ is coming! There’s no doubt that the gospel is demanding, but we have the great joy of God’s grace and our community of faith spurring us on toward true repentance and total joy!
One way we can rejoice is by rejoicing in God’s Mercy This week the students of the OLM Religious Education Program and the students of OLM School celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Of course, Confession is a great way to prepare for the coming of Christ. Cleansing our souls of sin and receiving God’s powerful grace of forgiveness and mercy is perhaps the best Christmas gift you can give yourself.
We have scheduled Confessions on Monday nights at 6:00pm and Saturday afternoons at 3:00pm. On Monday, December 19th we have scheduled two hours of Confession from 6:00pm until 8:00pm. There are to be two priests hearing Confessions per hour with the addition of some guest Confessors. I hope you can find the time during this busy season to stop, pray, and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness in Confession. It will most certainty help you to truly rejoice in the season.
Pope Francis teaches: “Advent is a time of rejoicing because it revives the happiest event in history: the birth of the Son of God by the Virgin Mary. Knowing that God is not far away but close, not indifferent but compassionate, not alien but a merciful Father who follows us lovingly with respect for our freedom, all this is the reason for a deep joy.” So let us rejoice for the Lord in coming! Let nothing upset us! Le us pray and make our needs known to God! Go to Confession and prepare the way! Be well. Do good. God Bless. Go Pats!