Christmas is just over two weeks away. Hopefully, in the busyness of the season, you are making room in your schedule for quiet prayer and reflection. Even if it is only fifteen minutes, you will find that it is one of the best times of your day. For many, this is best done very early in the morning or late at night since this is the time of fewest distractions. Set aside your worries and concerns for this short time and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and inspiration. As you focus on the Christmas story, you will discover, little by little, Godly peace and joy.
In case you missed it last week, the Christmas Mass schedule is published again in this bulletin. Please note that there will be Mass in several parishes at the same time for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You are encouraged to arrive early for any of the Masses so that you can enjoy the beauty of sacred music before the manger scene. Remember, Emmanuel means “God is with us!” Make yourself available to be with Him and He will be with you.
In our Scripture readings this Sunday, the theme is renewal through repentance. Jesus praised John the Baptist more than any other person because his life was dedicated to “preparing the way of the Lord”. He reminds me of St. Padre Pio in many ways. They were men of tenderness and compassion, but also at times painfully honest and direct. They had a supernatural ability to know exactly what each person needed. Sometimes we need gentleness and compassion, and at other times, when we are knee-deep in delusion and self-deception, we need to hear the truth without it being diluted or sugarcoated.
One of those truths that we need to hear is the necessity of receiving the Sacrament of Confession. It’s not the most popular sacrament, but it’s one of the most important. Padre Pio said the sacrament of Confession had the power to change the course of a soul from hell to heaven. Pope Francis said the same in recalling how frequent reception of it has heavily influenced who he is today. The Blessed Virgin Mary said we should go to Confession at least every month.
We would do very well to follow the simple spiritual instructions of the Saints. Their instructions are the quickest path to heaven. As a result, we priests make it very convenient for you to receive the sacrament of Confession. It is available to you before every Mass (except school Masses) and whenever you might request it. In this Advent season we will be offering even more opportunities in the days before Christmas. Each of us priests will be present at 12 noon and 6pm according to the following schedule:
Dec. 19 Monday – St. Peter
Dec. 20 Tuesday – St. Mary
Dec. 21 Wednesday – St. Peter
Dec. 22 Thursday – Resurrection
Dec. 23 Friday – St. Peter
Again, three priests will be present each of these days at both 12 noon and then again at 6pm. We will be in the church for at least one hour, or until all confessions are heard. God’s blessings to you in the remaining two weeks of Advent!