Second Sunday of Advent

 

This weekend we celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent.  The key figure in the Gospel this week is John the Baptist.  After spending time in the desert, John goes throughout Judea proclaiming a baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  Using words from the prophet, Isaiah, John calls all to Prepare the way of the Lord.  How are we preparing the way of the Lord today?  How are we making straight his paths?  How are we instruments through which all flesh shall see the salvation of God? As we open our hearts in prayer each day, we are becoming more deeply aware of Christ’s presence in our lives and our world:  Emmanuel, God-with us.  A few years ago, Father Jim gave us the image of “interior decorating and enhancement of our inner selves” as a way of preparing the way of the Lord.  In enhancing our inner selves, Christ’s presence is reflected in our outer selves.  When that happens, others encounter Christ through us.

The Year of Prayer in our parish was initiated last weekend.  Cards with The Prayer Process were distributed.  Hopefully, we will use them each day to help us reflect upon how we are responding to God’s presence in our lives and faithfully living out our call to discipleship.  The Prayer Process and the Little Blue Books are a means of helping us to establish a daily routine of prayer this Advent, and throughout the year.

The first of our Vicariate Advent Communal Penance Liturgies will take place this Thursday at 7:00 PM at Christ the Good Shepherd Parish (Saint Helen Church).  One way in which each of us can prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas this year is by receiving the sacrament of Penance.  Besides this Thursday, there are two more Penance Liturgies in our vicariate this Advent.  Please consult the Prayer, Enrichment, and Outreach Schedule in the bulletin for the other dates.

Special thanks to those of you who took tags from the Giving Tree to reach out to both children and adults in need in our area.  Please remember to return your gifts by next Sunday, December 16.  However, if your gifts are poinsettias, the Christian Service Commission is asking that you return them by this Monday or Tuesday (December 10/11). 

We are still in need of several parishioners to help with enhancing the church space for Christmas.  Please note the sign-up sheets on the bulletin boards at the church entrances for days and times of setting up trees, the nativity set, and placing of the Christmas flowers.

Blessings on your Advent Season!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

First Sunday of Advent

This Sunday we begin a new Liturgical Year with the Season of Advent.Each Advent we reflect upon the three comings of Christ: 1) his Incarnation, when he entered the world as a baby, born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago, 2) his coming in glory at the end of time, and 3) his coming into our hearts and lives each day.Just as we begin a new calendar year each January reflecting upon the previous year and making some resolutions, in Advent we take time to look upon the past liturgical year, and assess how we have grown in faith, how the faith has been passed on to us by those who now share eternal life with Christ, and how we have responded to the call to discipleship.How have we reflected the Incarnate Christ in our lives?In what ways have we failed to show the face of Christ to others?How prepared are we to meet Jesus, should he call us home this day?In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, and us, what kinds of things will happen at the end of time.He warns us not to be drowsy but to be vigilant at all times.The world as we know it will disappear one day and a new day will dawn.As we listen to Luke’s passage this year, what are we feeling and what resolutions will we make in order to be vigilant upon Christ’s return?

Please do take a look at the Advent schedule for Prayer, Spiritual Enrichment, and Outreach in today’s bulletin.  I hope that all will take some time to seriously consider ways to enhance and deepen our prayer life this year, given some of the options presented to us to spiritually prepare ourselves for Christmas this Advent Season.  It may be through daily prayer with the Little Blue Books, attending the Advent Enrichment after Mass this Sunday, weekday liturgy, Bible study, or the opportunities for outreach, including the Giving Tree, Baking and Decorating Cookies at the Parish Center, or Christmas Caroling at the Health Care Facilities in our area.

This past Tuesday, Father Bill Rutkowski, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Saginaw, informed me that with the completion of Father Emmanuel’s assignment in our diocese at the end of November, the rotation of priests (Father Jim, Father Pat, Father Emmanuel, and Bishop Cistone) between our parish and Blessed Trinity Parish Frankenmuth comes to an end.  He also informed me that as of December 1, Father Jim will resume his commitment as Sacramental Minister to Saint John Paul II Parish.  Due to his full-time assignment as the Director of the Office of Liturgy, Tuesday evening and Friday morning Masses will be scheduled when he is available. 

Blessings on your Advent Season!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  On this solemnity, we celebrate and reflect upon the unique kingship of Christ.  His kingdom is not of this world.  It is both a heavenly kingdom and a kingdom in our very midst.  The Kingdom of God transcends both heaven and earth.  We belong to this kingdom by virtue of our Baptism, and daily we contribute to building the kingdom by the ways in which we live and teach Gospel values.  The kingdom of which Christ is King is an “eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (from the Preface of Christ, King of the Universe).  In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus responds to a question posed by Pilate.  Jesus does not admit to being an earthly king.  Instead he says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”  He wants Pilate to understand that his purpose in coming into the world was to testify to the truth.  What is that truth?  Jesus is the Son of God.  When we encounter Jesus, we encounter God – a loving, forgiving, merciful, compassionate caring God who calls all of us to belong to him.  As we reflect further on this week’s Gospel, let us ask ourselves:  Do we seek Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?  Do we listen to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?  Do we follow Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?  Is he first and foremost in our lives?  How do our lives evangelize and draw others into choosing to be part of the Kingdom of God?  

Next Sunday, we begin a new Liturgical Year with the celebration of Advent.  Little Blue Books (with Seminarian prayer cards) are available for our spiritual enrichment this weekend at all the church entrances.  After 9:30 Mass next Sunday, December 2, there will be a gathering in the Parish Youth and Activities Center for individuals and families for “Advent Preparation and Enrichment” in which we will initiate a special year devoted to Prayer.  Make sure you get a bulletin next weekend listing all the opportunities for spiritual enrichment this Advent Season.

Please keep seminarian, Marc Hopps, in your prayers this week.  Marc will be ordained a deacon this Friday.  This is a most special time for him and the members of the Church of the Diocese of Saginaw. 

 

Blessings on your Week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.  In the Gospel passage, Jesus speaks to the disciples about the end times, and he urges them to learn a lesson from the fig tree.  This Scripture passage isn’t meant to make us fearful of the end times nor is its purpose to have us worry about the future.  Jesus makes us aware that he [the Lord] will come again in glory, and that none of us knows when that will occur.  The words of Jesus may make us pause and reflect upon our own death and our own preparedness to meet the Son of God.  In this month of November, when we remember our beloved dead who have gone before us in faith, we know how fragile and short life is.  Let us realize how precious is the time that God has given us, and do our best to use it to respond wholeheartedly to the Gospel.

Thank you to all who gathered for the Harvest “Thanksgiving” Dinner last Saturday.  Special thanks to Chef Zenos Dupuis for overseeing the event, offering his expertise in the kitchen, and creating the beautiful cornucopia ice sculpture.  Thanks to all who helped in any way. The company was great, the food was delicious, and all seemed to have a delightful time feasting together.

Our Parish Thanksgiving Mass this year will be held on Tuesday, November 20 at 6:30 PM.  Please make it a priority to join the parish community in giving praise and thanks to God for all the good things he has done for us.  If you are able, please bring non-perishable food items to the church for the food pantry.  Since our Mass this year is two nights before Thanksgiving, it should give those of who have so much preparation to do on the eve of Thanksgiving, the opportunity to take some time to pray with the parish community.   Also, it is the only weekday Mass we will be celebrating at Saint John Paul II Parish this week.

 

Please mark the following dates on your calendar:

  • Friday, November 30, 2:30 PM, Cathedral Ordination of Marc Hopps to the Diaconate

  • Sunday, December 2, First Sunday of Advent - Parish Advent Enrichment after 9:30 AM Mass

  • Morning Prayer – Wednesday of Advent – December 5, 12, and 19 - 9:00 AM in church

  • Holy Hour, December 6, 7:00 PM, Holy Spirit Church (Shields)

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration with children in Faith Formation – 6:30 PM –Parish Center

Blessings on your Thanksgiving Week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we celebrate the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.  In the Gospel passage, Jesus praises the widow for her generosity in contributing to the temple treasury.  What she gives seems like so little, but for her it is much, for unlike others who are contributing from their surplus, she contributes from her poverty.  This widow has great trust in God; she believes that as he has taken care of her, he will continue to provide for her.  Those of us who practice true stewardship knows that God always make sure that we have enough; sometimes, because of our giving, we find ourselves receiving much in return.  Today is called Stewardship Sunday.  As we reflect upon the widow’s response to God, let us ask ourselves how generous we are in returning to God a portion of what he has generously given to us.

The Book of Remembrance is located in church near the Baptismal Font.  During the month of November, as we remember in prayer our beloved dead, please feel free to write in the names of your family members and friends who have gone before us in faith (no matter the year).  The book is a visible sign for us as a reminder to pray for the dead in a special way during this month.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development Collection will take place next Sunday, November 18.  Please see the flyer in today’s bulletin and come prepared to make  a donation next weekend. The theme of this year’s campaign is: Working on the Margins.  By contributing to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, we are helping people living in poverty have a say in decisions that affect their lives.  Please note that this collection, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, allocates 25% of the funds collected within the diocese to remain within the diocese to support local anti-poverty projects.  Thank you in advance for supporting this worthy cause.

Please take note of the report on the proceeds from the Parish Craft and Bazaar in today’s bulletin.  Once again, thanks to all who contributed in any way to its success.

Our Thanksgiving Mass this year will take place on Tuesday, November 20 at 6:30 PM.  Please plan on joining us to give praise and thanks to God for all the good things he has bestowed upon us.   

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ