My Dear Parishioners,
I write to you as the eve of Christmas approaches to extend my heartfelt love and blessings to you and your families. I am so honored to be your pastor and blessed to be preparing to celebrate my 16th Christmas with you here on the corner. I feel especially blessed today as I reflect on the weeks past as we accepted our mission to focus on the coming of the Lord by gaining that inner disposition to see what has been hidden from so many and rejected by those who fail to hope. Even amidst the pandemic, while many had to stay safe in the Lord at home, we remained a community of Faith focused on the light of the star more than the darkness of fear and anxiety that could overcome us!!
Each week as I lit the new candle on our wreath, I prayed that we, together, would be ready to welcome the Savior into our hearts, minds, and souls as the source and summit of our lives! Every Mass I offered with you I begged the Holy Spirit to assure us with His Knowledge, Wisdom, and Council that we were among those who were being called from the wilderness into the great light! As I raised the host at the consecration, I prayed that you would adore Him (in person or spiritually) under the appearances of bread and wine that you would see and experience His Divine presence as Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds did on that first night! As I gave the final blessing and we prepared to fulfill our missions for the week in the midst of confusion and distractions of the world, I prayed we would not fall to the effect of secularism but remain with awaiting hearts searching with Hope for the true gift and meaning of this season – Christ Our Lord.
With just a few days left of this most precious season, I mourn the empty roped off pews that would be filled with your presence if it was not for the pandemic keeping you home and safe. I look beyond this reality and I am comforted to know that you are with us at home participating through our televised Mass, wishing that you could be here as well. As I blessed the infant Jesus, which you brought forth from your nativities or raised up at home, I will pray that as it is the first gift you un-wrap, it will be the only gift that you need. I pray that our preparation will be complete and our hearts overjoyed while watching and waiting to see him clearly in the midst of a world busy and burdened with a life of fear and uncertainty like never before imagined.
Still limited by Covid-19 restrictions, Christmas Mass will have an odd feeling of emptiness, the same which we will experience in our homes. What always was an overwhelming crowded experience with many traveling to visit family will be subdued and limited like never before. Instead of the distraction of the crowd and the distraction of travel which mirrored Bethlehem at the time of the census, we may instead experience the quiet and peace of the stable withdrawn from the confusion and noise. I pray that we will not be saddened by this reality but that we may see more clearly the brightness of the star and in the silence hear the Angels sing. Perhaps we can kneel in the quiet with the shepherds and just simply adore our Lady’s gentle kindness to her newborn babe. In the absence of our families, I pray we may remember that we are never alone as long as we have each other in prayer!
What I want for Christmas this year is for all to overcome the fear of the pandemic and live instead in the promised Joy of our Savior! I want the gift of the Christ Child to be extended to those who have lost hope in Him because of fear and the brokenness of our world. That all may see that His birth is the promise that remains above worldly comforts and overpowers the present with the hope, healing, and restoration of normalcy. Peace on earth and goodwill to men needs to be a prayer more than the slogan while so many have forgotten the reason for the season and the purpose of our lives in Christ.
Help me to complete our journey in these last hours! Join me in the desire to make the star brighter than the darkest night of this year! Pray with me that while all may seem lost to the world that we remember a savior has been born to us this day!
I will be praying with you, for you, and especially for your families and the life struggles for which they must endure on this earthly journey. I will be reading/praying the Christmas cards that will be sent my way and rejoicing in the truth that I am the most blessed priest, for I am your priest now and into another year of the Lord!!
Merry Christmas to you!