This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - December 8, 2018


This Week – December 8, 2018

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace and Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mass for the holyday is this morning (Saturday) at 8:35. And in response to the day’s most frequently asked question, especially among the rascals, “No. Today’s 4:45 Mass does not ‘count’ for the holyday and for Sunday.” So there! And if it were mine to grant a dispensation from the obligation, I would do so only for the people who pass the Immaculate Conception quiz (see below)


  • The Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Test your knowledge of the faith. And remember, if you get all the answers right, I might grant you a dispensation to double dip – if I had the juice!

    1. What feast do we celebrate exactly nine months from today?

    2. What do we call the feast that occurs exactly nine months before Christmas?

    3. Who were Mary’s parents?

    4. What scripture passage provides the basis for today’s feast?

  • Advent Penance Service – How long ago was your last confession? Regardless of your answer, Tuesday night is a great moment for your next confession. We have nine priests. Eight have passed the “kind confessor” screening. And the ninth isn’t all that bad. Give yourself a Christmas gift: feel the grace of absolution and true reconciliation. The service starts at 7:30. The eighth graders will be there for their pre-Confirmation confessions. We will have express lines for non-eighth-graders. Extra pitch – if you are a parent of an eighth grader who is going to confession, Tuesday is a great night for you to go to confession as well.

  • Advent Confessions – Remember – on Saturdays December 15 and 22 – there will be an extra half hour of confessions. Saturday afternoon confessions will run from 3:30 to 4:30, rather than from the usual 4:00 to 4:30 

  • Chins up! – Chins up Spiritual Exercisers (aka Exercitants). The transition from the First Week to the Second Week doesn’t happen instantaneously. And yes, the Rules for Discernment are a product of the 16th century. Remember to read them generously and update them in your own mind.

Sunday’s Homily – “December 2, 2018 – First Sunday of Advent, Hope, Part II: Hoping for Safety”

  • To listen to Sunday's homily, click here.

  • To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page


  • Our Advent Giving Tree: The gifts destined for Appalachia headed out on Sunday afternoon. It was quite an impressive collection, a great tribute to your generosity of spirit. The remainder of the gifts are due by Sunday afternoon. If you want to get a sense of just how good are the people in our pews, take a look at the Memorial Hallway before Sunday afternoon. 

  • Ministry Leaders and Ministry Members – This is a good time of year for all of us to wonder about our ministries here at Saint Joe’s. Soon after Christmas, it will be time for our ministry recruiting Sundays. Now is a good time for ministry members and leaders to wonder about what next steps might be good for your ministry to take. It is a good season for all of us to wonder how God might be nudging us to take up a new ministry or perhaps put down an old one. It sometimes helps to wonder about our ministerial commitments in terms of Priest, Prophet and King – i.e., those ministries that help people to pray, those that provide consolation and challenge, and those that build up the community. Discern well.


  • New Parishioners – A hearty and sincere welcome to our newest parishioners. May your years at Saint Joe’s be many and may they be years of blessings for you and, with your help, for all parishioners:

    • Nicholas and Jean Ciampa

    • Vincent and Lorraine Colarusso

    • Jen Hermann

    • Ray and Cara Holzer and their children Stefen and Stasha

    • Christine Leiter (and an additional welcome to Christine’s husband Alan)

    • Nina Napolitano and Rosanna Napolitano

    • James and Mary Ann Polito

    • Irene Tobia and Joanne Tobia

  • Great Pancakes – Dear Knights, You did a completely terrific job on Sunday morning. Everything about the pancake breakfast worked beautifully. Special thanks to Dominick Ferrigno for coordinating the effort and thanks to all the Knights who arrived before dawn and labored mightily.

  • Great Concert – Big thanks to PJ Anderson for yet another wonderful concert. Special thanks to parishioners Mike DeLucia and Pete Macor who were so much more than “doo-wop boys.” And of course, great thanks to our Youth Minister, Bob Ferretti, to all the young people who did the grunt work and to all the parishioners who turned out to enhance the marvelous mood.

  • Great Ornaments – Thanks to all who designed and produced the parish ornament. Remember to purchase one for your tree. They cost only $5.

With blessings for every parishioner and, as we observe Pearl Harbor Day, a special prayer for all who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and an extra prayer for permanent peace. 

Fr Hank

Summary of December 2 Homily:
First Sunday of Advent
Hope, Part II: Hoping for Safety

Who doesn’t hope for safety? We all want it. For ourselves and for those who are dear to us. We all hope for it. Sunday’s readings remind us that God loves and honors our hopes for safety.

Sunday’s first reading (Jeremiah 33) has deep roots in the horrifying story of The Exile. The nation’s leading citizens had been abducted and removed from Jerusalem, Solomon’s temple had been destroyed, and the people who remained fretted about their very survival. The people of The Exile could, at any moment, be abused, sold into slavery or even executed. It was a horrifying time. It is to these terrified people that God tells Jeremiah to declare that, in the future, “Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.” God recognizes their fear and their hopes for safety and God plans to respond.
Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 21) also speaks to some very frightened people, people to whom Jesus was describing the terrible events that would accompany the world’s end. 

Expressing words of hope and possibility, Jesus tells his audience “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand . . . Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” To his original audience and to those who would later hear Jesus’ words, the messages about “standing erect,” “having strength” and “escaping tribulation” effectively say “I care about your fears and your hopes for safety and I want you to be prepared for the scariest parts.” The passage would later be particularly helpful to Christians who were trying to make sense of the desecration of the temple, the destruction of the temple and the persecution of Christians.

So, what about you? Are you seeing the connections between your choices and habits and God’s desire to satisfy peoples’ hopes for safety? The truth is that you constantly help people to feel safe and when we feel safe, we make more inspired choices. Are you seeing the link between (a) your participation in the parish’s seasonal giving projects (food and gifts) and (b) the sense of safety your gifts engender in the recipients, especially the children. Are you seeing the connection between (a) your regular routine as parent or spouse or child or caregiver or care-receiver and (b) the sense of safety that your choices cultivate in others? Students, are you seeing the relationship between (a) your choices to use your gifts – academic, athletic, spiritual, you name it – and (b) the sense of relief that raises in your parents. And students, are you seeing the way that (a) your choices to include people in your groups at school (b) make the included feel safe in ways God wants them to feel safe.

God has built many hopes into all human hearts. One of them is the hope for safety for our loved ones and for ourselves. We hope that we and our loved ones will abide beyond the threats of harm. Ultimately, it is the “big-H-hope” for heaven where we all dwell beyond death’s shadows and dwell secure in God’s presence. Meanwhile, how are you doing in noticing the ways you help God help people to feel safe, to is this that their realities are aligning with their hopes for safety, to feel that the perfect safety of heaven will someday be theirs?