Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany.
I trust your celebrations of Christmas yielded plenty of comfort and joy and maybe, just maybe, a few minutes to recall some of the many ways God used you to renew the face of the earth in 2017.
This Week in Prayer
This Sunday’s readings, for the feast of the Epiphany, will wrap up the eight weeks of reflections on the choices we make, what entitles us to trust that our choices line up with God’s hopes, and what gets in the way of us acting on those inspired choices.
Our Christmas readings remind us that inspired choices sometimes generate inconvenience but, like the members of the Holy Family (and Rudolph!), we pursue those inspired choices and try not to count the cost. The readings for the Feast of the Holy Family describe people who make inspired choices, even though those inspired choices put them at risk.
The scripture passages for New Year’s Day, the Feast of Mary the Mother of God identify a genre of risk that our inspired choices sometimes activate. Inspired choices sometimes lead us into uncharted territory. That can be a risky and slightly scary place to live. Mary’s “Yes” to God, to become the mother of Jesus, led her into an experience that no human had ever had or imagined. It was completely uncharted territory. The same for Joseph. The Israelites in the first reading said “yes” to God’s invitation to return home. That response led them into territory that their ancestors knew but they had never visited. For them, but not for everyone, it was uncharted territory.
Inspired choices frequently take us into uncharted territory. Catholic missionaries through the ages have ended up in lands unknown precisely because they said ‘Yes” to God. Closer to home, our personal heroes have done the same. All of us have ancestors who came to this country when it was, for them, an unfamiliar land. Inspired choices brought many of them into this strange land.
What about you? Can you recall a time or two when you had all your spiritual ducks in a row when you strove to make the choice God wanted you to make and, as a result, ended up in uncharted territory? Perhaps it was in the school cafeteria when you sat with a lonely kid in a part of the room you had never visited before? Maybe it was when you chose to get healthy and had to live, perhaps for the first time, according to the inspired but unfamiliar guidelines of recovery. Maybe it was when you decided to go back to work or school after raising your children. Can you see that experience as reminiscent of what the children of Israel were up to in the Exodus and what Mary and Joseph were doing in Bethlehem? Surely, most of our trips into uncharted territory are not as consequential as those the Bible describes, but they are our trips and they are part of our story and they matter – especially if, as happened for the bible characters, they lead us to a consoling encounter with Christ.
It was a great happiness to greet so many of you at the Christmas and New Year Masses. A special thanks to those brought neighbors and relatives who rarely go to church. Keep up the great work. Bring them back! And if they didn’t already receive a copy of “Positively Catholic,” pick one up at mass this weekend and give them a copy. They’re on the house! (Special thanks to the parishioner who has again donated 1200 books)
- Read last Sunday's readings
- Read the coming Sunday's readings
This Week in Community
It takes a parish to make it all happen. You are a pretty remarkable bunch. To all those who went way above and beyond to serve our community at Christmas, thank you. Our musicians, servers, ushers, EMs, lectors, sacristans, church decorators and parish staff have outdone themselves again. The Christmas Eve 4:00 pm Mass had nearly 1300 people. The other Masses (except the 7:15 am) averaged about 400 at each Mass. Every Mass was very beautiful – because so many chipped in to help.
The extra special music at all Masses was a great help to our prayer. Thanks to the children who sang so magnificently at the 4:00 pm.Thanks to Laurie and co. at the 6:00. Thanks to Frank and co. at the 10 pm and the concert that preceded it. Extra special thanks to Andrea and Tim who worked marvels at the 9:30 and 11:30. Might some who have gotten in the habit of the 4:00 pm enjoy the special music at the 9:30 and 11:30 next year? Then again, whatever works for you is the way to go!
The numbers are still preliminary, but you clearly gave very generously to the Christmas collection. Your generosity will continue to make good things happen.
Mark your calendars . . . After the holidays, I will soon be offering two programs in Adult Faith Formation – “Meeting Christ in Prayer,” is an eight-week offering that helps people to grow in prayer. The other program, “The Sacraments” is more catechetical in nature. Sign up sheets will be available starting next weekend. Interestingly, there seems to be an especially strong interest in the prayer program. If the interest is extremely strong, I might offer just that program this year and hold off on the sacrament course. Let me know your preferences.
Family Bingo Night is Friday, January 26. Those who attended last year know what a great time it was. We have 25,000 BINGO chips at the ready and a whole lot of great prizes!
The Annual Pasta Dinner will be on Friday, February 9.
On Sunday, February 9 at the 9:30 Mass, we will be honoring married couples. Stay tuned for details.
This Week in Service
January and February will be our time forministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying? Or maybe it is time to renew your commitment to what you are already doing. Check out the BIG calendar in the gathering space for the schedule of ministries that are recruiting.
KNIT YOUR BIT! Join in a parish community project to knit or crochet scarves for veterans. Pick up instructions, yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks in the gathering space, and Knit Your Bit!
Young adults - you asked for a service opportunity and we have a great one for you. A week in Appalachia this summer. If you are between 18-25 years old and are interested, Bob Ferretti for more information.
With all best blessings for 2018.