First Sunday of Advent

Weekend of November 26/ 27, 2022 On this first Sunday of Advent Jesus urges his disciples to stay awake and prepare themselves for the Lord’s coming. Good stewards prepare themselves and await Christ’s judgment in joyous expectation. This attitude requires genuine spiritual maturity, of course; the kind that is cultivated by prayer, participation in the sacraments, loving attention to family and one’s communion of faith, and love for one’s neighbor. Are we prepared for the Lord’s second coming? Are we ready to receive Christ? Are we ready to look joyously for Christ’s judgment?

What is the meaning of the candles in the Advent Wreath?

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word meaning “coming.”

The Advent wreath–4 candles on a wreath of evergreen–is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. Three of the candles are purple in keeping with the color of the Advent season and, on the third Sunday of Advent (called Guadete Sunday–meaning “Rejoice“), a rose or pink candle is used to represent joy. There is also a white candle added on Christmas Eve which is the Christ candle.

The Advent wreath is part of the long-standing Catholic tradition that came to be used as part of spiritual preparation for Christmas around the Middle Ages. At that time, the candles had a two-fold purpose: to symbolize the coming of Christ as well as to bring light to the interior of the churches.

During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings to us: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. As an alternative, the lighting of the candles can also symbolize: Expectation, Hope, Joy, and Purity.

The lighting of the Christ candle on Christmas Eve reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world. During the four weeks of Advent, the wreath continually reminds us of who we are called to be as followers of Jesus.

We wish you a Happy Advent Season!

Stewardship Saint for November

Saint Columban is our Stewardship Saint of the Month.

The life of Saint Columban (also referred to as Columbanus) reveals a man who exercised remarkable stewardship over his life of faith and his gifts for evangelizing. He was born into a noble family in West Leinster, Ireland, in about 543; a time when the great Celtic monasteries were being established in Ireland. He received a classical education and as a young man became attracted to the monastic practice of integrating prayer, manual labor and study of the scriptures into one’s daily life. He entered the renowned monastery of Bangor and for many years embraced a life of asceticism.
In mid-life, he believed he was being called by God to preach the Gospel in foreign countries. He responded to this call, becoming one of the great Irish missionary saints. He established a number of monasteries in present-day France and Italy STEWARDSHIP SAINT for November including the famous monastic community at Luxeuil in France, where he served as abbot for more than 20 years.

At age 70 he resumed his missionary journey, traveling to what is now Switzerland and then, over the Alps to Lombardy where he finally settled on gifted land in Bobbio. Here he founded the monastery that has the greatest claim to him. He remained there until his death on November 23, 615.
His followers continued to preach the Gospel in France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, and are credited with founding over 100 monasteries. Saint Columban possessed gifts well-suited for evangelizing. He invariably attracted large crowds who were struck by his enthusiasm for the Gospel, his persuasiveness and humility. He and his monks led the simplest of lives, and their meals oftentimes consisted of nothing more than forest vegetation, herbs and berries. He developed a monastic rule and promoted penitential practices which emphasized private confession to a priest and doing penance. He also wrote a commentary on the Psalms.

In 2004, a portion of Saint Columban’s journey from Ireland to Italy was highlighted in a travel memoir entitled, The Accidental Pilgrim: Travels with a Celtic Saint. The author wrote about his experience of retracing the missionary journey of St. Columban on bicycle. Saint Columban’s feast day is November 23.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Weekend of November 19/20, 2022. In today’s Gospel we hear of the rulers who sneered at Jesus, the soldiers who jeered at him, the criminal who reviled him, and the people who just stood by. At our own parish church the cross stands high. Yet, every Sunday there are those who sit in front of it and are not moved by it. There are people who walk right by the cross, unmoved by it. Perhaps they’ve walked by it so many times they no longer give it a second thought. Could it be they are unmoved because the heart of this unbelieving thief is in them? Good stewards walk by the cross, notice it and ask themselves: “All this you did for me, what have I done for you?”

Giving Thanks for Our Parish Communions

For most of us, the ultimate way we experience Christ’s active presence is in our parishes. It is there that we hear the Word of God and are nourished by the Eucharist. So, this Thanksgiving let us offer prayers of gratitude for our parishes, pastors, pastoral teams, parish leaders and all the faithful who gather together to give witness to Christ’s presence.
What does it mean to be a parish, though, and how is a parish a unique manifestation of the Church? Sixty years ago, when Saint John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962, he urged the Council Fathers to reflect on the mystery of the Church present throughout the world. One of the major descriptions employed by the Council Fathers to describe the Church was “communion.” The very opening words of the first document of the Council, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church proclaim: “The Church is a kind of sacrament or mystery; a sign and instrument of communion with God and of unity among all people.” Note that the Second Vatican Council made a deliberate choice to refer to the Church as a “communion” rather than simply using the term “community.” While the term community refers to independent persons working toward a common goal, the term communion conveys a much deeper reality, persons sharing the same sacramental life. Our communion is literally a “sharing of gifts” as sisters and brothers of the one Christ Jesus whose Spirit brings us into unity not only with God but also with each other. Sacramentally, we manifest the mystery of the divine communion of the Blessed Trinity. Sharing the Trinity’s communion in love, as a Church, we have been called to live together in unity for the sake of following the Gospel and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.

As a communion of faith, as a Church, we are born out of and live within the Paschal Mystery. As a communion of faith we experience and celebrate these mysteries of Christ’s life in and through its daily and weekly sacramental life. All of this means that a parish is not simply a human creation, it is God’s work. The Holy Spirit calls us into being and bonds us together in communion and mission with God and each other. Jesus assures us that we are not left to our own devices when we walk in his footsteps and gather in his name. He has given us the Holy Spirit, who teaches, guides and protects us. And that is accomplished most uniquely through the sacramental life of our parish. This month, let us give thanks to God for our parish and re-commit ourselves to participating more fervently in its life and mission.

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Weekend of November 12/13, 2022. In today’s Gospel Jesus suggests that his disciples must be prepared to suffer ridicule, persecution and perhaps even death if they are to follow him. Sometimes we may wonder if enduring ridicule and scorn are what we really signed up for when we received the sacraments of initiation. Would we not rather sneak through life as painlessly as possible? Good stewards take their faith seriously and find comfort in the closing words of today’s Gospel: “You will be hated by all because of my name but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” Let us make it part of our daily prayer routine to ask the Holy Spirit for the courage to act in Jesus’ name no matter the consequences.