Thank you to everyone who decorated our parishes beautifully for Christmas and to everyone who helped in some way to help with Christmas Masses. Obviously, the weather made things difficult on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and yet, the Masses were still beautiful, and we worshipped God with devotion and fervor. Thank you also goes to Fr. Nick Weibl for celebrating Mass this weekend. It is always great to have Fr. Nick with us!
We've begun the Year of our Lord 2021, and from a sports perspective, this new year looks good so far: Ohio State defeated Clemson in the Sugar Bowl and will play for a National Championship, and the Browns have gone 11-5, defeating Pittsburgh to finish the season, and will be playing in the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season—I was a sophomore in high school at the time.
I want to share my general thoughts from my homily for the Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God on January 1. While the solemnity ends the Octave of Christmas and focuses on the Blessed Mother, I shared thoughts pertaining to ending a challenging year and beginning a new year.
There is a tradition of ending any year—good or bad—by praying the Te Deum. The Te Deum is a prayer of great and tremendous praise of God, in many ways recognizing that God is God and we are not. After the year that 2020 was, we may find it challenging to praise God; we may not want to praise God after the adversity of 2020; we may even blame God for the difficulties of the past year. Our general disposition may be to praise God only when life is good and things are going well. This presents an invitation to us: to praise God not only in good times, but in bad times as well. Throughout history, the saints faced terrible trials, persecution, and obstacles, and they continued to praise God. God is God, and we are not; praise reminds us of this. Coupled with the tradition of praying the Te Deum at the end of a year is the tradition of praying the Veni Creator Spiritus. The Veni Creator Spiritus is a prayer directed to the Holy Spirit, inviting the Creator Spirit into our lives and into a new year. It asks the Holy Spirit to create us anew, allowing His fire to transform us. Perhaps it may be good to pray both the Te Deum and the Veni Creator Spiritus in the nascent stages of 2021.
Along with praise and inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives, I recommend giving thanks in anticipation of blessings, gifts, and favors we will receive throughout this new year. Blessed Solanus Casey was a Capuchin friar, currently buried at the Capuchin friary in Detroit, where he lived for many years. He was deemed by his superiors as not very bright, so he was a “simplex priest,” allowed only to say Mass, but could not preach, nor hear confessions. He was the friary porter: essentially a greeter, welcoming people and meeting them at the door. He was known for his holiness, his willingness to listen patiently, and for the many favors, healings, and miracles granted by God through his intercession. Eventually, people came to the friary with their needs, asking for his prayers. He did, but he always told people to thank God in advance. Following the advice the Blessed Solanus Casey, let's thank God in advance for the blessings of 2021.
Lastly, Roberto Clemente was one of the greatest baseball players of all time, playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he was an even greater man of charity and faith. A devout Catholic, Clemente died in a plane crash while taking food and supplies to the people of Nicaragua, ravaged by a devastating earthquake. Clemente commented once that God had made him a great baseball player so that he could make a lot of money in order to serve the poor and needy. Like Roberto Clemente, let's discern the mission God has for us this year and live out that mission through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are saints under construction, praising God in all times and circumstances, thanking Him in advance, and living out our mission. Have a great week!