This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - December 14, 2018


This Week – December 14, 2018

Dear All:

Happy Feast of Saint John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church. Any guesses about why we might consider today a feast for people who prefer bare feet?


  • Beautiful Music – Calling all kids! If you are old enough to read but young enough to consider yourself “a kid,” come and sing in the Children’s Choir at the 4:00 pm Mass on Christmas Eve. You need only to attend one of the rehearsals. You can either come to the practice on Monday the 17th or Wednesday the 19th. Both rehearsals start at 6:45 and end at 7:30. Give it a try!

  • Beautiful Silence – Hats off (silently of course) to all who participated in Tuesday night’s penance service. It was the quietest and most prayerful penance service I have experienced here. Frank Viola’s inspiring music, which was particularly easy to hear because of the delightful quiet, was a perfect match for the moment. Thanks to the ushers for keeping us moving and for organizing the express lanes, (based on age, not on volume of sins), to Mrs. Meyer for reading, to all our visiting priests, to Mrs. Valone for arranging the confessors, to the eighth graders for being so well prepared, to the CCD teachers and the parents and all who prepared and transported the eighth graders, and to all who participated in the prayer. It was a great grace to share the prayer with you.

  • Answer to Last Week’s Quiz – 

    • What feast do we celebrate exactly nine months after the Immaculate Conception? 

      • Mary’s Birthday, September 8

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

      • The Annunciation, March 25 

    • Who were Mary’s parents?

      • Anne and Joachim (when is their feast and what do we pray for that day?) 

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

      • None. Several passages allude to the underlying truth but none states it.

  • Advent Confessions – Remember – this Saturday and next, December 15 and 22 – confessions start early. I will be in the Reconciliation Room from 3:30 to 4:25.

  • Prayer Service for Refugees and Migrants – Mark your calendar for Wednesday, January 9. Sister Ruth Bolarte, IHM, Director of the diocese’s Secretariat for Family and Pastoral Life, has invited us to host the diocese’s prayer service for refugees and migrants around the world. This prayer service is part of the nationwide observance of what the U.S. Catholic Bishops have labeled “National Migration Week,” January 6-12, 2019. Come and pray if you can.

Sunday’s Homily – “December 9, 2018 – Second Sunday of Advent, Hope, Part III: Hoping to Matter”

  • 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 – All the gifts are on their way. Shortly after Christmas, we will be able to supply a few measurements of your remarkable generosity. HUGE thanks to all who organized the tags and the 1001 details the project requires. Extra special thanks to Carol Jorgensen and Michelle Laffoon.

  • A Time for Every Purpose under Heaven – Of course we want to remain attentive always to the needs of those around us – i.e., around our county and around our world. But we are not built to drive at full speed in every season. Your giving has been going at full speed since October. May the days and weeks after Christmas be a time of grace-filled restoration. 

  • Ministry Leaders and Ministry Members – Ministries recruiting week will be here before you know it! How are you feeling about your current ministerial commitments? Which would you like to maintain and what changes might you think God is inviting you to make?

  • Food Bank Folks – In addition to the seasonal giving, we have dozens of parishioners who each week donate food for local food banks and a committed bunch of people who deliver that food. Your year-round efforts are appreciated every week of the year.

  • Interfaith Hospitality Network – Blessings for all the St. Joe’s people who chipped in to help the shelter that was hosted by our dear neighbors, the Hillsborough Reformed Church. This week’s guests included four moms and seven kids. Special thanks to all who go the great distance with this work, especially Sue Calamoneri, Alyson Scillitani, Gregory Scillatani, Sid Lentz and Kristen Mazuera.


  • You Are Fine Evangelists – Each November the diocese asks us to count the number of people who come to Sunday Mass. The statistics help them plan. The great news is that the number of people who go to church here continues to grow. In November 2013, an average of 993 people participated in Sunday Mass here. This year that number rose to 1,213 – an increase of 22 percent in five years. As many of the more recently registered parishioners will tell you, it is because you are committed to your parish, you find peace here, you talk about it, and you welcome new folks. You are one fine bunch of evangelists!

  • Buildings and Grounds – The excited preparations for Christmas do not slow our ongoing efforts to maintain and improve our facilities. Since Labor Day, our crew has completed many significant tasks: Installation of WiFi throughout the church, installation of new AV equipment in the CCD classrooms, replacement of the (worn out) office carpet, demolition of a rectory patio that was funneling rainwater into the basement, stabilization of a giant crack in the rectory foundation, creation of a new classroom out of two storage rooms, and, at last, repair of all the parking lot lights – even though one pole still needs to be replaced, but now it has electricity. Great thanks to all who make it happen.

With blessings for every parishioner and a special welcome home to our college students – with a double welcome to those who were not able to be home for Thanksgiving.

Fr Hank

Summary of December 9 Homily:
Second Sunday of Advent
Hope, Part III: Hoping to Matter

Of course, we all hope that we matter. We hope that we matter to others and we hope that we matter to God. We hope for reassurances that God and others care about us and the quality of our lives. The hope can devolve into a slightly neurotic, excessively needy thing, but there is a very healthy version of our hope to matter. That hope comes with being human. 

Sunday’s first reading comes from the book of Baruch, a spokesman for God whose writings appear in the Catholic bibles but not in the Protestant or Jewish bibles. Baruch addressed people whose lives were ravaged by The Babylonian exile. His heart ached for the people who were dragged away, the people who were left behind, and the people who fled when the trouble started. All of them had plenty of reasons to believe that they did not matter to any nation and they did not matter to God. Baruch needed to redirect them. He wanted them to keep hoping that they mattered to God. Sunday’s passage contains the good news that God cared about them very much. Baruch assured the people that, in the not too distant future, “God will bring (the captives) back to (Jerusalem), borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones . . . that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.” Baruch wanted to restore their hope that they still mattered very much to God.

Sunday’s gospel (Luke 3) situates the appearance of John the Baptist in the history of Israel. Luke tells us that John appeared when the area was ruled by Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod the Tetrarch, and the High Priest(s) Annas and Caiaphas. We have plenty of reason to believe that these people cared far more about their own wellbeing than about the nation’s. With the possible exception of Annas and Caiaphas, the children of Israel mattered little to the named rulers. They contrast starkly with John the Baptist who cared intensely and who was sent by a God to who cared greatly. Moreover, John was clearing the way for Jesus, the human who cared more than any other human about all humans. The people who mattered little if at all to the people Luke names in this passage, mattered greatly to John, to Jesus, and to Jesus’ father. John’s appearance signals the start of a new era?

So what about you? God clearly wants people to know that they matter to him and that he cares about them. The readings make that very clear, albeit in a subtle way. Chances are excellent that you are doing a great job of feeding people’s hopes that they matter to others and they matter to God. Chances are also quite good that you play a significant role in justifying the hopes of some people. Without you and your care, they might easily wonder if they matter to anyone, and once that thought settles in, it is easy to suspect that we do not matter to God. Where are you doing a great job, a somewhat Christ-like job of letting others know that they do matter and that people do care? Is it with friends or relatives who are currently feeling pretty lousy about themselves? Is it with kids at school who never get picked for teams and who frequently eat lunch alone? 

God wants us to hope that we matter to others and to God. God also wants us to have moments when we realize the hopes are fulfilled, moments when we know that we do matter and that others care. Circumstances sometimes get in the way of those hopes and convictions. God is using you to feed those hopes and convictions. Name three or four ways in which you are doing a great job and one relationship in which you might up your game – so that one person regains the belief, “I matter.”