From the Pastor's Pen
From the Pastor's Pen ~ November 29th
Hope all families were able to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner! We rejoice! We remain grateful. Thanks to all of you for the gift you share with the parish family. I am grateful. I thank God for you! Church’s New Year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. As always, we begin each year with hope for something new and even better. Sadly, we are still in the raging Pandemic; the cold winter is around the corner and the continuing political turmoil worries us, too. In times like this, more than anything else, we need HOPE. Our hope, in this time of darkness, rests on the Savior, for whose coming we prepare throughout Advent. The Four weeks of Advent is a time of intense preparation.
Prophet Isaiah has a special place in the Advent liturgical readings. He is the voice of the key spiritual themes of Advent: preparation, conversion, renewal, hope, consolation, joy, justice, peace, harmony, fulfillment, deliverance, redemption, salvation and the restoration of the rule of God. As Isaiah was sent to God’s people in the second half of the 8th century B.C., so he comes to us in the 21st century with the words: “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone… For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, upon his shoulder dominion rests” (Is 9:1-5). May the season of Advent become a season of hope and strength for us.
With restricted outside activities, mostly, we are confined to our homes. This opportunity should be seized by us for a meaningful preparation. Let us give Advent the attention it deserves. As a time of preparation for Christmas, let us decide upon the kind of material and spiritual preparation we can do. We can decide to pray rosary daily as a family; practice fast on some specific days of the four weeks; perform acts of charity in our families and receive the sacrament of Confession during this Advent. In modeling the behavior and life of children, the parents have to take the lead. I thank all the parents for the example and witness they share.
Ms. Joan Cinotto, our DRE, has some fresh Advent ideas, both for students and families. Make this Advent memorable for the family. All families could easily make an Advent Wreath. Light a candle on each Sunday. Each candle represents a virtue: Hope (1st Sunday), Peace (2nd Sunday), Love (3rd Sunday) and Joy (4th Sunday). Give attention to these virtues during each week. The Maranatha Chant (Come Lord Jesus, Come!) signals the purpose of our preparation.
Setting up a Christmas tree is a popular custom in this Country. But let us not forget to have a Nativity Set in our homes. We can learn a lot about life by looking at the Nativity scene— especially, the secret of Joy. On the third Sunday of Advent, I invite families to bring the figurine of the Christ child from their families’ Nativity Set. At the end of the masses, the figurine of Child Jesus will be blessed. Allow our children to enjoy such special moments.
At the Deanery Meeting, it was decided not to hold the Common Penance Service this year. Instead, each Pastor has been advised to offer more time for confession throughout Advent Season. This brings our focus on the spiritual preparation, which is an important part of Christmas celebration. Check the websites of the parishes in EauClaire deanery for confession details. I invite everyone to make use of the opportunity. A happy Advent to you all!
From the Pastor's Pen ~ December 6th
"Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low” (Isaiah 40:4)
A call for Revolution! Isaiah, the key voice of Advent season advocates for a new revolution. Dictionary defines revolution as “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system.” Human history has seen many a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, often made abruptly and mostly accompanied by violence. But Isaiah’s revolution stands diametrically opposed to this popular notion. For, it does not call for violence, nor for an overthrow of some powers. The Advent revolution ushers a response from within: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mk 1:3); and “be found without spot or blemish before him [Lord]” (2 Pet 3:12). This is a revolution of HEARTS! And the reason for this revolution is profoundly clear— GOD is COMING!!!
As we walk into second week of Advent, we are called to embark on this revolution. Setting up the Advent Wreath, Christmas Tree and Nativity scene in our homes, in some way, serve as signs of this revolution. Yet, it is more than all these. As a revolution of hearts, there is more to it: “conducting yourself in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God (2 Peter3:14). Repentance makes the way to our inner life. Repentance is a change of MIND and HEART. The PATH to our hearts need to be prepared well; the entry way has to be made smooth. It includes TURNING AWAY from SIN and TURNING to GOD for forgiveness.
During this Advent, let us make every effort to receive the sacrament of Confession. I have added more hours for confession in this season. Please see the bulletin for details. Other parishes also offer opportunity for confession. Visit their websites. Be a part of this new revolution that Isaiah, John the Baptist and St Paul are calling us on this Sunday of Advent: the Lord is coming; make a path that leads to your hearts. Let us graciously heed to their call. Confession has fallen to the wayside for too long for many Catholics. For the decreasing appreciation of this sacrament among the Catholics, there could be many reasons. So the call for a new Revolution of the hearts is very timely. I have seen here in the Church, the entire families coming to receive the sacrament of confession. I love that scene! It is an amazing moment of grace! What a powerful witness! Certainly that’s being part of this NEW Revolution! With our hearts straightened and relationships reconciled, we can celebrate the Christmas in a fresh way. That joy is something different and truly unmatched. Make that happen for your family this Advent!
Confession is an important preparation for receiving the joy of Christmas.
The surge of Covid-19 in the County has increased pressure on everyone. We take every effort to keep our school and Church facilities safe. Let us keep our school staff and all medical professionals in our prayer as they courageously face these challenges. Let us do everything possible on our part to promote the well being of all. Together, we can overcome the darkness of this time. Begin each day with a smile and the spirit of gratitude!