We are happy that our “Spread the Light Christmas Tree” campaign is on track despite some hiccups along the way. Seven parishes, including ours, had decided to collaborate in buying the trees from the same Tree company. But all of us were disappointed at the much smaller size of the trees delivered instead of what we had ordered. We complained to the company and they replaced more than half of our trees that were too small. Hence we are able to do justice to all our parishioners and others who sponsored the trees, though there may be slight variations in size. Thank you for your understanding of a situation beyond our control. Hearty thank you to Jo-Ann Piagentini and Pat Cullen who coordinated the entire project with the help of so many of our parishioners and staff – too many to name here. Enjoy the ethereal beauty of these 300 trees lit for over a month from now, and invite your families and friends to come and enjoy the same.
This first Sunday of Advent reminds us to enter this holy season of preparation for Christmas with hope. Unlike the animals, we are blessed with the ability to think about the future. We need to do it with hope rather than hopelessness. One of the reasons why we read the Old Testament passages during Advent is to learn about the hopes of the people of those times. They longed for restoration of order and peace in a world of division and conflict as they awaited the Messiah. Our hopes are no different from theirs: lasting peace, tranquil lives, sufficiency of food, end to conflicts, suffering and pain. The difference is that we know that the Messiah has come and so we await the anniversary of his coming as well as be conscious of his second coming at the end of time.
The Advent practices are meant to help us welcome the Messiah in our hearts in a very conscious way. The lighting of the Advent wreath is a beautiful practice that happens in our church each Sunday of Advent. But it is a lovely practice that more and more families are doing at home. Please see in today’s bulletin a short prayer service for the families who plan to have an Advent wreath lighting at home.
Jesus is ‘Word made flesh’ and so we need to listen to God’s Word more frequently. In the recent months, many of our parishioners have been taking a copy of “The Word Among Us” monthly publication. Some of you have told me that the daily scripture readings, prayers and reflections in them were very helpful. I am happy that we offered this free for our parishioners even though I was told to follow the practice in some parishes where an offering of a dollar per book is in place. No matter what, growing in familiarity with the Word is truly a great preparation for Christmas.
Let us not forget that receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the best spiritual preparation for Christmas. Both of us priests plan to be available for confessions during the whole season of Advent: weekdays after the 8 am Mass, and a longer time on Saturdays from 3:00 – 4:30 pm. If these times are not convenient, you can call any of us and make an appointment. I would encourage you to plan early to take advantage of this Sacrament that brings so much peace of heart.
Let us all live Advent and make it a fruitful experience.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal