I was walking along when someone said to me: Murry Krismuss. Another gave a shout out of Happy Holidays—thus covering a gamut of possible happy festivals of which I might be having. Have a Cool Yule was a third greeting said over at the shopping mall, which had me googling to try to remember what a yuletide and yule log was all about! …What was next: Happy Festivus!?
I’ll just say it here— to those of us who believe in it intimately: Merry Christmas to you and yours, for the Day and the Season. A Holy Christmas time to you into a Happy Epiphany!
From Fr. Barry & clergy & staff
There’s many side celebrations, some just secular, for this season, and that’s alright— as many of us like the parties, gift exchanges, decorations, sentiment, songs, snowflakes, hats ‘n caps, the Christmas tree, and such. It’s all part of this time of year. I liked getting my winter’s cap out, and as I posed by the tree (above), the evergreen gives a smell of Christmas and the balls and ribbons show the specialness of this time. It also reminded me as to why it once was added (by the Germans) to Christmas: to have us to look up where the tree points (to the heavens), to pray “Gloria,” and to ponder the eternal, ever-green life God opened up to His children, by His coming in the Anointed, God’s Son, Jesus. That’s the ideal view, but I’m not sure today’s holiday trees decorated in themes of Star Wars, the NFL Ravens, or Superheroes or Disney things lead us in the holy direction. ☺ With all of that going on, I, as a priest, just want to promote and join with you in celebrating the Reason for the Season: Jesus. All of the other Christmassy stuff is meaningless without the honor and praise given mainly to Him. Christmas is a Mass and a Holy Day, and it begins a season that extends at least to Jan. 8th for celebrating the Nativity of Our Lord, ushering in the Mystery of the Incarnation to us, poor needy ones in this world. The Lord Is Come!
If we do let the real Christmas happen, in confirming again our heart’s acceptance of Him, as The Gift of Savior to us, and if we do so in a commitment to live on in becoming His disciples, then Christmas truly IS the great, holy blessing for us. (John 1:12,14)
The Church gathers for the Christmas joy that Jesus is God-with-us and He is Lord over us. We come as the poor-in-spirit, confessing our sins and our selfish pride, with our souls open for what Jesus brings: Peace on earth and His Good Will. As a Christmas card with Bethlehem’s Star on it says: The Wise Still Seek Him. With that, I think of Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things will be added to you.” Like the Magi, let us come as God-seekers. For we Catholics know this–that the celebration of Christmas is chiefly about The Lord Jesus. It was first called the Mass of the Lord Christ’ Nativity—shortened to Christmas (Christ’ Mass). So, I hope to see you at Masses in this Christmas time (it goes up to Jan. 8). It’s how we celebrate Him, the Savior, in His Birth among us at Bethlehem. Or, if you are out of town, may you find a nice Mass where you’ll be, for the blessed reason for the season (and remember to mail us your Christmas donation☺).
Dec. 24 – 4:00 pm 7:00 pm 10:30pm
Dec. 25 – 9:00 am 10:30 am
Christmas Octave weekdays Dec. 26-29 @ 9:00 am Holy Family Sunday Masses
Dec. 30 – 5:00 pm
Dec. 31 – 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am & 12:15 pm
New Year’s Marian Mass
Jan. 1 – 10:00 am
Weekday Masses Jan. 2-5 @ 9:00 am
Epiphany Sunday Masses
Jan. 6 – 5:00 pm
Jan. 7 – 7:30am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am & 12:15 pm
Baptism of the Lord: Monday (daily Mass) Jan. 8 9:00 am.
Christmas Eve Mass 4:00 pm;
Christmas Day 9:00 am.
One of the things mentioned a lot to me in 2017 in sessions with you was the concern to fix the main church parking lot. In some quick action, I was able to get a paving company approved and they’ll have the lot fixed by Christmas. Merry Christmas, everyone! They are feverishly finishing up Saturday 11-23. The office side lot (last part) is seal-coated Friday; so FYI—we may keep that lot closed Saturday but open Sunday. Ok?!
Quick Sum Up
Shortly, here’s a word from me on my half-year just spent with you. I offer thanks to you for your welcome in here, and I am grateful for a staff and fellow clergy who came to my side all through my start here, too, and firstly in gratitude for Cardinal’s Wuerl’s trust in me. I salute you for the steadfast spirit you have shown here and for your witness of The Lord to this community and beyond! I have enjoyed my time with you so far, and you are a nice parish. In 2017, I tried to be present to you, to listen to you, to get to know you casually, to pray for you, to work hard, and to serve you wholeheartedly. I will seek to do the same in 2018, and I am looking forward to it.
Finances: I will need your support to serve this big parish in 2018. I remind you all that my call (and the finance committee’s joined call) stands forth: We need this big parish to be charitable and generous. We fall quite short of an expected tithe amount for our size, so I need each household to be a generous one. I only gave one specific homily in 2017 on money; it was the one when I said that God looks to see where your first $20 bill goes each week, or your first hour’s pay, as He notes our priorities for His mission among us. You’ll remember that I gave the money-homily cheerfully, all the while also posing a challenge to you, to be supportive of your home parish and its mission here. In necessary upgrades under my lead, I added on a necessary finance team to the staff, and a part time cook and food allowance to the clergy (budgeted), and we have an evangelistic effort (mailings) going on out to 6,000 households, to get us on the neighborhood radar. This is where I have had to spend anew.eIn other ways, we have tried to be frugal and wise, while keeping services rendered that are expected of us. (To save a few bucks, this parish Christmas letter was emailed, in the bulletin, on the website, or placed in the commons for you). So– we look to your help.
Thanks, too, for the ongoing giving toward the Debt Relief on our great Parish Center and to the Parish Improvements Fund. In that latter category, you have hopefully noticed things getting done, or heard so, like our upgraded sound system, or WIFI added to the Amadeo Room; doors getting fixed, the Amadeo Room getting painted, and more. I have tried be transparent with all these things, asking for input and with much communication.
Letters to me are appreciated, and emails. firstname.lastname@example.org is an extra email address which I have been using for communication lines. My 35-35-35 went pretty well, too, but I still need to see the numbers of you who couldn’t make it. In 2018, I’ll be making those efforts of contact. Thanks.
Now back to a spiritual word…
The world around us has so much secularism in Christmas, especially in the lead up to it, and then it passes quickly in a few days and out by the New Year. Yet we don’t have to check out so soon! It’s a Season for the Lord and Celebration of His Incarnation. JESUS at Christmas time is the main thing. Our youth in Rel. Ed. and Youth Group just did their Keep Christ in Christmas project (with the K of C), so the thought is on my mind, as I write to you. So—what of Christmas and Epiphany and Jesus and us? Joy to the world, The Lord is Come! That’s what! Can we receive this Reality into our soul again for these Feasts of The Incarnation, of how God would even dare to come into our broken existence and lives on earth, and be manifest (give epiphany) and dwell with us, as one of us?! Wow. Incredible.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ says He so much wants us all to receive His Great Reality more deeply into our souls. This Shepherd of Souls has come for us in love, “that we might have abundant life, all to the full.” (John 10:10) St. Paul echoes this gladness as he says to the church of Colossae that it’s all about coming to be in the possession of The Lord, as we freely give in to The Mystery. It’s “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col.1:27) Mary got to be the welcome for the first Christmas (and The Christ), even months ahead, in that Advent, and she prayed: “My soul proclaims the greatness of The Lord, my soul rejoices in God my Savior.” Yes! That’s the Christmas spirit! We could use such words in our own Christmas prayers to God.
Heaven and Earth rejoice! God has bridged the separation that our sin caused. Jesus is the link anew. He offers the connection, by the Holy Spirit, into the realm of The Kingdom. I will be preaching in Christmas Masses on this Christmas connection. So, I hope you can hear that, or of our other homilists, on what makes Christmas so special.
Fr. John Barry