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Dear Friends
These last weeks have seen some remarkable moments, things which most of us would have never thought possible. And these events have left us wondering about our future and the future of the country and of the world. Each day the papers and the media are filled with story after story about the condition of the world. Countries mount endless wars. Civilians and especially children die in a relentless effort to gain control of territory, one block, no, one house at a time. Men, women and children die every day in fleeing the violence of their homeland in boats that we wouldn’t put on a local lake. Famine and disease are everywhere. Floods, earthquakes, draught, and fires kill and devastate homes and businesses and lives.

What a world. What a mess. How did we ever get to this point? But what point? Our world is no different than the world that the prophets and ancient authors of our sacred texts offer to us in the season we begin today, this season of Advent. It was a world that left them feeling helpless and hopeless. It was a world filled with human suffering and struggle, human cruelty and hostility. But to this world view, of helplessness and hopelessness, the prophets and sages brought a conviction that even in the midst of these seemingly irresolvable difficulties, their God would always be present. God’s presence in their midst could make all things new, all things right, all things true, just and full of peace. God was present in creation, in the word God spoke through the prophets, in the journey of His people. Though this people failed Him many times, God always brought them back to Himself, with a promise and a hope that somehow, in time; He would come to them in an irrevocable way.

And then came the Incarnate Word, Emmanuel, God-With-Us, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. Jesus has taken the mess we made of ourselves and of our world and shown us that there is a way out. In His life and through His glorification, we find the path to a better world, both in the life to come and as a program for living in the mess of this world. For us as Catholics, there is no other sure way, no other guiding light that can help us navigate and fill us with hope. Because He is the Way and the Truth and the Life, we can be filled with hope.
So, this ADVENT should be for us, the time of hope. And rightly so, this Season of Hope begins the new Liturgical Year in the life of the Church. Literally, advent means “to come to,” to come to that moment I spoke of above, that moment when God would speak to us in an irrevocable way, assuring us of His presence not just at that moment in chronological history (4 BC, when history tells us Jesus was born), but for all time. Advent is the time to remember that irrevocable moment and to prepare for His 2nd Coming in that remembering. It is a time of preparation.

But how to use it, that’s the question. While chronologically it goes hand in hand with shopping, decorating, sending Christmas greetings and socializing, it should be a little more. I would have normally begun this Advent season by going off on my usual retreat, in the secluded woods of far west New Jersey. But I have had to postpone that because I also need to take a trip to the Mission in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The advantage of my retreat was always in the fact that it imitated the 2nd and 3rd century monks who went off into the deserts of Egypt and Palestine to strip themselves all but the basics of life, to remove all the layers with which we encumber ourselves (our concerns, our anxieties, our ambitions, our plans and programs, our relationships) in order to know the true self. To pare down life to its essence, and in the silence and emptiness to be able to know something of the Divine Presence, the tangible murmurings of eternity that penetrate when all distractions are swept away.

This year I will have to look to other ways to accomplish this, without being away in the woods. One way for me will be to deepen the time that I spend in the Adoration Chapel, alone with the Lord in prayer. One way for you might be the use of the Little Blue Books, found at the doors of the church. They are daily Advent reflections. I invite you to take one per family, and to use it – per family. Even with the hectic pace of life today, try to take some time, as a family, to reflect daily on the message of the season, hope. Wouldn’t that help you and your family navigate the mess of the world? I don’t know what time might be best for your family, it doesn’t have to be long, you would have to decide that. But try to do it as a family. See what the Lord is trying to say to you about your life. If your eyes and ears are open, you might be surprised and you might also be surprised about how spiritual this Christmas can become for you – the whole family.
God Bless,
Fr. Ron

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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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