Dear Friends,

With this Third Sunday in Advent upon us, the tone and the focus of this season of preparation shifts to a more intense and joyful anticipation of our coming celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea which we celebrate at Christmas. We light the third candle on the Advent wreath, traditionally rose in color, and there is the option of wearing rose colored vestments at Masses this weekend. For those of us who are adults, it may take a bit of effort to stimulate a sense of joy at this point in Advent. Most of us tend to be harried by all that has to be done as Christmas nears. The real delight is to see the reaction on the faces of children at this time of year. Their excitement and joyful anticipation know no bounds. It is little wonder, then, that Jesus tells us in the Gospel that we must become like children if we are to enter the kingdom of God. So, let us pray that the timeless eternal God may instill in all of us, no matter what our age may be, just a bit of the joyful anticipation that should be ours at the coming celebration of the Incarnation, the wonder that God would become one like us in all things but sin so as to teach us how to live and lead us to salvation.

In these last two weeks of Advent, there will be additional times for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which should be at the heart of any proper observance of Advent. Confessions will be heard on Monday evening from 6:00-7:15 at St. Mary’s Church and also on Saturday of this week from 2:00 to 4:00 PM at St. Mary’s and from 4:00-4:45 PM at St. Agnes. If you have not made your Advent confession, now is the time to do so. If you have been away from the sacrament for a long time, even for years, now is the time to come back and to discover that peace of heart that God alone can give, that peace that will fill you with the joy that God wants all of us to experience.

The poll of parishioners regarding the new weekend Mass schedule to be implemented in January of 2019 takes place after the homily this weekend. We felt it necessary to postpone it from last weekend owing to the inclement weather that might have kept some from coming to church. In order to avoid confusion, I will announce what the new Mass schedule will be sometime in February or March. Again, I remind everyone that the current weekend schedule remains in effect through next December.

As I announced some weeks ago, we are eliminating the use of vigil candles at St. Agnes in anticipation of cleaning the church of soot and preparing to paint the church early in the new year. To that end, the last weekend candles will be available at St. Agnes will be December 30-31. If the candle supply runs out before that, there will be no more available. I can understand that this will require adjustment on the part of some, but I ask for your cooperation as we seek to make some aesthetic improvements in the church. We will also be responding to some real concerns raised by our insurance company.

Have a good week!