With the coming of this First Sunday of Advent, a new Church year dawns and we launch into our annual season of spiritual preparation for celebrating the birth of Christ. This time of year can be very stressful with many demands made on our time. We are called to do our best with the demands made on us, but at the same time not to neglect the important spiritual dimension of Advent. Often Advent is ignored altogether or celebrated improperly or incompletely. A proper celebration of Advent calls for setting aside each day some personal quiet time for prayer, making use of the Scripture readings of the day, which are quite powerful. Another possibility is to pick up your rosary beads and each day pray the Joyful Mysteries in anticipation of the coming feast of the Lord’s birth. Above all, it is crucial that we make time for some introspection, to take stock of our lives, and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There will be additional opportunities for confession as Advent unfolds. To all of you, I wish a holy and peaceful Advent, a time when we can make our own the ancient last words of the Book of Revelation which mean “Come, O Lord!” (“Marana tha!”).
This Saturday, December 8, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patronal feast of the Church in the United States, and a holy day of obligation. Masses to satisfy the obligation for the holy day will be celebrated on at St. Mary’s on Friday evening at 7:00 PM, and on Saturday morning at 7:30 and 9:00 AM. There will also be a Mass at St. Agnes on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM. In these times of scandal and stress in the Church, we can come before the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Church, our Mother, to seek her intercession so that the Church and the clergy will be purified, and those wounded by sexual abuse by clergy will find healing and hope.
All registered parish households will soon receive in the mail a schedule of Masses, confessions and other activities for the Advent and Christmas seasons. Please save it for future reference. You will also receive in the same mailing a refrigerator magnet on which is printed the new weekend Mass and confession schedule that will take effect on January 5-6, 2019. Please keep that handy for future reference. Finally, in the same mailing, you will receive a parish survey form. We want to know how
we are doing and what you think some eighteen months or so into the life of our new parish. Please take the time to fill out the survey and drop it in any collection basket or the mail by the designated return date. We will be compiling the results of the survey and studying them for purposes of future decision- making.
With the dawn of the new year in January, some changes regarding the distribution of Communion will take effect at St. Agnes. The ministers of Holy Communion will no longer vest in robes and sit in the sanctuary. Instead, as lay ministers they will sit in the church among the assembly of the laity and come forth at the “Lamb of God” to the sanctuary to assist in the distribution of Communion. When they have finished, they will return to their place in the assembly. This change stresses the importance of lay ministry in the Church and the rightful place that the laity have in the life and ministry of the Church. Beginning in January, there will be no more than two ministers of Holy Communion assigned to any Mass, and thus everyone in the assembly will be asked to come forward to receive Communion. Ministers will no longer be sent to the back of the church. If there is anyone who has difficulty walking, there are two pews reserved for the handicapped in the front of the church for purposes of convenience.
Finally, the Annual Collection is going quite well. As of last Monday, we have received almost $31,000 in donations, well along toward our goal of $50,000. If you have not yet made a gift, please do so before December 31 for credit for income tax purposes. I thank you for your generous support of this collection and the parish in general.