Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! We come today to the First Sunday of the Church’s New Year of Grace, the First Sunday in Advent. As we know the Church Year does not follow the calendar year but rather it begins, not on January 1st but rather on the First Sunday in Advent. Thus today we begin to place our feet along the way of holiness once more.
The season of Advent is grace filled for it is the time of preparation for the coming of Our Divine Savior on Christmas Day. It is said that in true darkness one can never judge the light in the distance. Sailors have discovered this phenomenon at seas as have travelers in the desert. They may see light in the distance but cannot judge how far away it is…is it five miles or five hundred? For the ancient Jews it was much the same as they awaited the coming of the Messiah.
They had been told on that most tragic day, the day of the ruin of our race, that one day a Savior would come who would crush the head of the ancient enemy of our race, the accursed serpent, the devil. But how long would it be…5 years, 50 years, 500 years? No one was certain. And thus the ancient people of Israel awaited the coming of the Messiah.
Finally, the long wait ended on that first Christmas night when God became a man. In the world of nature we see the nights growing darker and longer right until the time of Christmas. Then suddenly the sun returns and the light shines ever greater on each day. So we are reminded that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light no darkness will ever extinguish.
Let us use these days then to prepare for the coming of the light and to live in intimate union with Our Lady and St. Joseph as they too await the light.
Since this year December 8th falls on a Sunday the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception will be kept on Monday, December 9th. The obligation to attend Mass, however, cannot be transferred to the 9th and thus there is no obligation to attend Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception for this year. Nevertheless, many will want to honor Our Lady on the patronal feast of our country. The Mass will be celebrated on December 9th at 8.00am in our daily Mass chapel.
We are most grateful to some very generous parishioners who have donated a magnificent outdoor shrine of our patron and Father, St. Paul. It is on the north side of the church and will be a beacon to all who pass our church for it is illuminated at night. There will be a solemn blessing of the shrine when the weather is more suitable. Please visit the shrine and pray before the statue of St. Paul. There is a kneeling bench there. When it was completed the landscape architect of the shrine (one of our parishioners Mr. Michael Lynch of Lynch Construction Corp.) and I knelt there and prayed for all of you. May St. Paul’s holy shrine inspire generations of our parishioners for many years. And may God bless and reward the generous family who donated both the shrine and the architectural landscaping.
This Sunday we will begin using the new ciboria that have been donated by our parishioners. They are very worthy vessels to hold the Body of Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. At present we are in need of memorial donations of one altar crucifix and six candlesticks for both our Church and Chapel. (That would be two altar crucifixes and twelve candlesticks altogether). These may be donated in memory of a loved one and a plaque will be placed in the Church and Chapel with the names).
Please save the date of Friday May 16th. It will be our annual parish party held at the Cottage of the Milleridge Inn, our neighbors and parishioners. We are all grateful to Mrs. Paula Maturo and her committee who have already been working for several months so that we may all have a pleasant, enjoyable and grace-filled evening.
Please note that the Giving Tree is on the stage of the Parish Hall. Please be sure to go there after Mass and take a gift suggestion and return the gift to the tree in the Parish Hall.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda