December 21-22, 2019
Dec 17, 2019
Let me first take the opportunity to wish each and all of you a very blessed Christmas. I hope it is a blessed time for you and your families. Thank you for your many kindnesses to me and all the friars throughout the year, and for the gifts shared with us at Christmas. We are immensely grateful for sharing life with you. We are grateful that we can celebrate this great feast of God’s love for us with you.
Very often at Christmas, given the fact that people are visiting family and friends, and that some people who usually don’t go to mass every Sunday do go on Christmas, we may have people in our congregation who are not familiar with the parish or even how we Catholics pray. I would like to encourage every parishioner to be alert to new faces that you might see as you come to Mass this Christmas. Please don’t think that this is the responsibility of just the ushers, friars, or parish staff. Please welcome them with extraordinary hospitality. Introduce yourself; welcome them; thank them for joining us; assist them in any way you can. If they seem to need help, assist them in finding the bathroom or where the songs are in the hymnal. A warm welcome can make a big difference, and might be like “breadcrumbs along the path” which can encourage someone who has been away to return and pray with us again. You may find that they have taken your usual parking place or even the pew you usually sit in! I hope you can kindly adapt so that they feel welcome. It has even been recommended that we leave the best (closest?) parking spaces for them and sit in the center of the pew so that they can fill in the end. It can be a bit awkward if they have to climb over others to enter the pew. We don’t want them to feel as if “there is no room for them in our inn!”
Gracious God, may we be filled this Christmas with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Your name is still called “Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” and “The Prince of Peace.” As Your children, we cry out for a fresh filling, and a new awareness of Who You are. We choose by faith to make the “good news of great joy” a reality in our own lives, so others can see us as lighted trees of life, pointing to You this Christmas. We know one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that You are Lord. And we also know that peace on earth can only come when hearts find peace with You. You are still our Joy. You are still our Peace.. And we still celebrate You — this Christmas and always. Amen.