This weekend we celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent. The Gospel passage highlights John, son of Zechariah, who “went throughout the whole region of Jordan proclaiming a baptism of repentance.” Luke reminds us that he is the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths.” Then Luke recalls the promise made, that every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill will be made straight, the rough places will be made smooth, and “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” We know that God has accomplished our salvation through the person of his Son, Jesus. We also realize that God continues to work in our world and that we share in the mission of both John the Baptist and Jesus. We, too, prepare the way of the Lord. We, too, share in Christ’s ministry of proclaiming the Good News to all. As we further reflect on the Gospel, we might ask ourselves the following questions: How do we prepare the way of the Lord? How do we help make rough places smooth? How do we live our faith in such a way that when people meet us or engage in conversation with us, there is no doubt that, at times, they truly encounter Christ through us? Last week Father Jim gave us a prayer as we concentrated on our own “interior decorating and enhancement of our inner selves.” How has that prayer: Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! helped us to be ready to prepare the way of the Lord this week?
Tuesday, December 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a holy day of obligation and the patronal feast of our country. There will be two Masses celebrated in the parish on Tuesday: 8:30 AM in Saint John Paul II Parish Church and 6:30 PM at the Saint John the Baptist Church site. Please join us for Eucharist.
The celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe will take place on Wednesday at 6:30 PM at the Saint John the Baptist Church site. All Children in the Faith Formation Program will arrive at church by 6:00 PM to prepare themselves for prayer. The celebration of the Liturgy of the Word will begin at 6:30 PM. Each year, on the Wednesday nearest the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the children of our parish who are part of the Faith Formation program take an active role in the planned prayer experience. Please see further details from Amy in today’s bulletin. All parishioners are invited to the liturgy.
I encourage you to take a tag from the Advent Angel Giving Tree if you have not yet had the opportunity to do so. Please return gifts the weekend of December 12/13 (next weekend) to Church. If you will not be in town that weekend, you have until Monday Noon to return them.
Caroling to the Homebound and those in Nursing Homes will take place on Sunday, December 20. This is a joint effort between Youth Ministry and the Christian Service Commission and is being coordinated by Amy Dupuis and Tina Cook. There are sign-up sheets on the Church bulletin boards so that they know how many are participating and, thus, have enough vehicles designated to transport individuals to the various houses and institutions. This activity is open to all age levels. There is more information in today’s bulletin.
For the last two weeks, and this weekend as well, the Vicariate Advent Communal Penance Liturgies have been listed. I received a question as to whether or not we will be having a Penance Liturgy in our parish. And the answer is: not during Advent, but we will have one in Lent. Since last Advent, the Vicariate has been planning Penance Liturgies together. The churches that seat the most people are used, and the various priests, including the Senior priests, are given the dates and invited to take part. A common liturgy is prepared, and the same priest preaches the homily at all the liturgies. Our Vicariate is divided into the east and west. For Advent, two Communal Penance liturgies are taking place at west side parishes (Saint John Vianney Church and Saint Dominic Parish: Saint Stephen Church Site) and one is taking place at an east side parish (Holy Family Church). So, please check your calendars and plan on attending the one which fits best into your schedule. During Lent, there will be five Communal Penance Liturgies in our Vicariate (two at east side parishes and three at west side parishes, one of which will be Saint John Paul II Parish: Saint Matthew Church Site).
Our Christmas Mass Schedule is as follows:
December 24 – 5:00 PM
Saint Matthew Church Site
Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord
Prelude Music and Caroling begins at 4:40 PM
December 24 – 7:30 PM
Nativity of the Lord
Mass During the Night
Saint John Paul II Parish Church
Prelude Music and Caroling with Adult Choir begins at 7:00 PM
December 25 – 10:00 AM
Nativity of the Lord
Mass During the Day
Saint John Paul II Parish Church
Prelude Music and Caroling begins at 9:40 AM
Liturgical Ministers are needed for each of these Masses. Sign-up sheets are available this weekend and will be taken to the Parish Office during the week and then will be returned to church again next weekend. Please feel free to call the Parish Office to let us know of your availability. Lectors, please note that there are different sets of Scripture Readings for each of the above listed liturgies.
Blessings on your Advent days!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ