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Fr. Ron's Blog

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Dear friends,
And so, Advent begins (as if you didn’t know – Black Friday was only two days ago). Preparing for Christmas, as more than just the usual card-sending, gift-giving, family (and workplace) partying. And, by the way, none of these are bad. God is inviting you to look deep into your hearts this year, to clean it up and to find, anew, a place for Him and for the special gift He has given to all of us – the life of His Son, the life of Himself.

To help us do this, I’m trying something a little different this Advent. On Divine Mercy Sunday (4/11/15), Pope Francis formally proclaimed the an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, a Holy Year, beginning, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015. The Pope has called for a year of special reflection on and celebration of the Father’s Mercy in the gift of Jesus Christ. What better time to begin that reflection than as we prepare for the remembrance of that gift, that coming in the Feast of the Incarnation – Christmas. And so my column for these four Sundays of Advent will be a summary of the BULL of INDICTION, (fancy title for the official document announcing the Holy Year), with the hope that it makes a good spiritual preparation for all of us for Christmas, the document itself being too long to publish, although you may find it on www.vatican.va

“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.” The opening sentence of the document says it all. Though God has shown His mercy throughout the ages, it was in the fullness of time (the Incarnation) that God revealed that mercy in a definitive way. When we see Jesus, we see the Father. By his words, by his action, in his entire person, Jesus reveals the mercy of God. And when we understand this mercy, we find it as a source of joy, serenity and peace, because it is the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. It is the bridge that connects God and man, “opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness,” and, as such, the bridge that connects persons to persons, regardless of race, creed, color and all those things which can separate us. There are times when we should more attentively reflect on this mercy so that our witness to this mercy might grow stronger and more effective for the world.

The pope tells us why he has chosen to open this Holy Year of Mercy on December 8th; (1) because it is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, when God began this definitive action of mercy when Mary was conceived “without original sin,” and (2) because December 8th marks the close of the 2nd Vatican Ecumenical Council. In the Pope’s own words, “The Church feels a great need to keep this event alive…. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The walls which for too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way… The Church sensed a responsibility to be a living sign of the Father’s love in the world.”

Before he goes deeply into what the Father’s mercy really means for us, the Pope concludes these introductory paragraphs with two quotes, one from Pope Saint John XXIII and one from Blessed Pope Paul VI. Both quotes bear repeating. From John XXIII, in his opening words to the Council, “Now the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up arms of severity….The Catholic Church, as she holds high the torch of Catholic truth at this Ecumenical Council, wants to show herself a loving mother to all; patient, kind, moved by compassion and goodness toward her separated children.” Speaking in a similar vein at the close of the Council, Paul VI said, “We prefer to point out how charity has been the principal religious feature of this Council… the old story of the Good Samaritan has been the model of the spirituality of the Council… a wave of affection and admiration flowed from the Council over the modern world of humanity. Errors were condemned, indeed, because charity demanded this no less than did truth, but for individuals themselves there was only admonition, respect and love. Instead of depressing diagnoses, encouraging remedies; instead of dire prediction, messages of trust issued from the Council to the present-day world. The modern world’s values were not only respected but honored, its efforts approved, its aspirations purified and blessed… Another point we must stress is this: all this rich teaching is channeled in one direction, the service of mankind, of every condition, in every weakness and need.”

Pope Francis closes this introduction section with these words, “With these sentiments of gratitude for everything the Church has received, and with a sense of responsibility for the task that lies ahead, we shall cross the threshold of the Holy Door (symbol of the Jubilee) fully confident that the strength of the Risen Lord, who constantly supports us on our pilgrim way, will sustain us. May the Holy Spirit, who guides the steps of believers in cooperating with the work of salvation wrought by Christ, lead the way and support the People of God so that they may contemplate the face of mercy.”

God Bless and a fruitful Advent,
Fr. Ron

PS. More to come.

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Mass Schedule

Weekend Liturgies
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
3 p.m. (Spanish), 6:30 p.m.
Weekday Liturgies
Monday thru Friday,
6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m.,
and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
Holy Days
Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
6:30am, 8:30am, and 12noon 

 

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