January 8, 2017
The Epiphany of the Lord
May I express sincere best wishes to all of you for a Blessed and Merry Christmas. Although the stores are filled with After Christmas signs, we who are believers, know that Christmas is so great a mystery that it is not celebrated in merely one day, but it continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which is tomorrow. May I also express sincere gratitude to all of you for your great generosity to both me and to St. Paul’s parish. It is precisely your sacrifices and selflessness which enables St. Paul’s to continue to shine forth as a Light on our little Hill and bear witness to the Light of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless and reward each and every one of you. We are most grateful for all who worked so diligently and with such great care to make the Church look so beautiful. There were parishioners of all ages working on the decorating of the Church: children, teenagers, twenty-something’s and adults. We are so grateful to our parish organist and cantors as well as our guest musicians (provided by a very generous parishioner). The music was so uplifting at Christmas and many remarked it was like being at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I am so grateful for the return of orchestral music to St. Paul’s at Christmas (which I understand was a long standing custom). The 4.00PM Mass had full orchestra, singers, cantor and organ. The 6.00PM Mass had full orchestra, our own parish choir, cantor and organ. The 10.00PM Mass had brass, timpani, organ and cantor. That was also the case for the 11.00AM on Christmas Day. The 8.00AM and 9.30AM on Christmas Day had cantor and organ. It was a glorious Christmas and all this music was provided by a very generous parishioner who wishes to remain anonymous.
I am so grateful to our Altar Guild who worked to make the Church look so beautiful and I am grateful to our ushers, altar servers, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. This year an anonymous donor gave a beautiful Nativity set. The figurines are of fine porcelain and they are hand painted. Each piece is a work of art. My favorite was the camels which had such a charming expression. This year our nativity scene was at the front door of the Church so that all our parishioners, especially the children, could admire it, be uplifted, and pray before it. While it was on Cedar Swamp Road it was inaccessible to our parishioners and the cars speed by with such haste that no one could even pray before it or admire it. This year also saw another change at St. Paul. The Mass in the night was moved to 10.00PM. As many know, this is the custom in many places. Even the Pope himself celebrates mass at 10. It is a realistic accommodation for a one priest parish and I am grateful that so many welcomed the change. At one time, the Midnight Mass was the First Mass of Christmas, but that is no longer the case.
Today we keep the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Although God had become a man on Christmas Day, the mystery was known by very few. It was as though the sun were just rising in the east with its glorious rays shining forth. But on the Feast of the Epiphany, we may say that the sun is shining forth in its noonday zenith and spreading its light throughout the whole world. That is why the Epiphany is the Feast of Light as our six candles on the altar so beautifully attest.
The word Epiphany means Manifestation. On this glorious Feast, the great mystery is made known to all the nations and peoples of the World. For on this day, the three Kings arrived bearing their wondrous gifts for the Holy Infant. In the person of the three Kings all the nations of the earth streamed to the manger. On Christmas we sang in the Liturgy, Christus natus est nobis, venite adoremus! Christ is born for us, come let us adore Him. But today, the Epiphany, we sing, Christus apparuit nobis, venite adoremus! Christ has appeared for us, come let us adore Him!
Actually on the Feast of the Epiphany three mysteries are celebrated: The three Kings come to the manger, Our Lord manifests His glory at the Jordan River, and He reveals His glory in the First Miracle of Cana by changing water into wine. The famous author James Joyce bases his charming short story The Dead from the Dubliners on these three manifestations.
Therefore, the Epiphany fills us with joy. Many of our dear little ones may be interested to know that in Italy, Spain, and the entire Ibero-Hispanic world it is the Three Kings who bring the good children their gifts. Just as American children may leave a snack for Santa and the reindeer, so in those lands the children leave the gift of hay for the camels of the Thee Kings.
TWO ITEMS OF GOOD NEWS; TWO CHRISTMAS GIFTS: BISHOP JOHN O. BARRES AND DEACON RAYMOND P. D’ALESSIO
As many of you already are aware the Pope has appointed a new Bishop of Rockville Centre. His Excellency the Most Reverend John O. Barres has been appointed the Fifth Bishop of Rockville Centre (the others have been Bishop Walter Kellenberg from 1957 to 1976; Bishop John McGann from 1976 to 2000; Bishop James McHugh, 2000; and Bishop William Murphy 2001-20016). This appointment was made on December 9, 2016. Bishop Barres will be installed on January 31, 2017. He is a very holy and humble priest and will lead us all closer to God.
I have known Bishop Barres since 1983, even before he had entered the Seminary. I had the happiness to study canon law in Rome at the time he was doing his canon law studies. Please pray for the New Bishop, for the Pope and for all priests. Perhaps, in your charity, you will say a prayer even for your pastor who is so in need of prayer.
The other item of good news is one that is much closer to us. Bishop Murphy has appointed Deacon Raymond P. D’Alessio to the office of Deacon and Pastoral Associate of St. Paul the Apostle. Deacon Ray will join us at the end of January. Many of you know Deacon Ray because he has been the Deacon at St. Edward’s for over eight years. The Bishop realized that we at St. Paul’s are in need of assistance and has given us a special gift in Deacon Ray. He is a fine preacher, a holy deacon, and a brilliant administrator. He will help us all grow closer to God. I am deeply grateful for this gift the Bishop has given to us and I am certain it has been through the intercession of Our Lady. Please welcome Deacon Ray who will lead us closer to God and His Most Holy Mother. Deacon Ray will be preaching at all the Masses the weekend of the 28th and 29th of January and there will be a reception after each of the Sunday Masses to welcome him. Please make every effort to come and greet Deacon Ray on that weekend.
CAPITAL CAMPAIGN: Soon our capital campaign will begin. This will be a great enterprise for God’s glory. I am so grateful for all those who have worked so diligently in preparation for this. We have recently received the Bishop’s permission to go forward with our capital campaign, the first ever in the history of the parish. In the coming weeks different individuals will be speaking to us about this important work.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda