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Christmas 2012


St. Gertrude the Great Church is known for its devotion to the saints.

It is a rare occasion when our sacristans have not set up at least a little shrine to the saint of the day. The long hallway on the west side of our church is filled with hundreds of images of the saints — 80 feet of saints, and over 350 pictures — categorized according to the month of their feastdays.

Every year we try to bring some of that devotional spirit to you with our All Saints Roman Catholic Calendar.

Click image for a sample page.


  • Follows the pre-1955 rubrics and calendar. (Of course!)
  • All feasts, fasts and observances
  • Includes many optional feasts or devotional feasts not on the general calendar.
  • Classic art featuring the saint of the month!

Order several for your home. Spend a year with the saints!

ONLY $9 + shipping


This school year, as time permits, we will be publishing daily sermons from the previous week:

Dec. 18, 2012: A Eulogy for Fr. Martin Stepanich by Fr. Cekada
Dec. 21, 2012: Two Holy Doubters by Bp. Dolan
Dec. 24, 2012: Fear Not Little Flock by Bp. Dolan
Dec. 25, 2012: What to Give at Mass by Bp. Dolan
Dec. 26, 2012: St. Stephen by Bp. Dolan


✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
Not the least of this year’s many Christmas graces was the timing of the white. Everyone was able to come and go for Holy Mass (and it was an excellent attendance, and a most generous collection this year – Deo Gratias!) before the snow came.

Appropriately enough, it was during the High Mass for “the feast of Stephen” that the snow fell “deep and crisp and even.” How beautiful were our grounds that night in the snow light, with the varied Christmas lights highlighting the handsome exterior architecture of our “new construction,” as well as the outdoor shrines. Fr. McKenna took some pictures, which we’re printing.

It is St. John’s day as I write this, and the holiday birdie breakfast buffet is drawing those hungry creatures of God to my snow-covered feeder. The last of the seed is still waiting to be eaten, not flowing out so much because of the damp. Dramatic cardinals, scarlet feathers fluffed out for the chill, wait their turn with lesser birds, chickadees maybe, or finches. Soon I’ll have to refill the feeder. Therein lies a tale.

The last service of the Holy Night is Lauds, when most of you have headed home after Midnight Mass, or to Helfta for some supper. Some years we have sung it, “our last full measure of devotion.” Of late, Bede recites it with me “on one note,” and more prudent clergy take to the bed, in view of the morn and its many activities.

One verse of the Lauds hymn always charms me: “Per quem nec ales esurit.” “He through Whom not even birds go hungry deigns Himself to be nourished with a few drops of milk.” Last weekend I cited the text to the young fathers, asking Fr. McKenna on Saturday to pick up some seed along with our supper fixin’s from Kroger.

He forgot. The bishop reminded him, and he stopped to get some on Sunday (necessary food purchases are permitted on the Lord’s Day; we are not Jews) on his way back from St. Clare. Alas, the seed stayed in the car. Everyone was tired and busy.

On Christmas Eve, Fr. McKenna flew off like a bird (albeit a hefty one) himself for a most successful Christmas visit to Norfolk, Virginia. He vaguely left instructions for Fr. McGuire to unload the feed, but Father was up to his elbows in dalmatics and gloves, and rugs, preparing for the Pontifical. The birds fasted on the vigil. Fair enough, one might say.

Would Bede leave a note for Fr. McGuire about the birds’ Christmas dinner? “Just have him drop it off on my porch.” He did indeed extract the seed, but put it in Helfta Hall, where not that many birds come around for Christmas anymore. “Today,” I thought, “I will get the seed to the can on my porch, before the birds exhaust the supplies.” “Per quem nec ales esurit,” indeed. Bede got the seed to the can. Fr. Cekada opened the bag and filled the can. The next morning before the buffet crowd showed up, the bishop bundled up and actually filled the feeder. A community project. As you can see, our clergy are for the birds!

The cats, having been somewhat reluctantly reintroduced to snow, are cavorting in it merrily, and will probably stake out the bird feeder from behind a snowdrift.

Back to Christmas. It was lovely. How charming were those beautiful choir pieces, so carefully chosen and prepared; the talented young voices soaring! (Even if we didn’t get our 23 rum-pum-pum-pums!) Marlys and her girls created a most elegant stained glass stable scene, with floating angels. The Simpson children decorated the side chapel altar with thoughtful abundance for the wooden crèche. Bede helped me with the finishing touches here and there on Christmas Eve. The servers did a fine Pontifical Mass, and the Quartet was shiningly splendid for the Dawn Mass with Benediction. Les came to play for the 11:00 AM, and sang away from the keyboard like in the old days.

This year, Fr. Cekada celebrated the 9 AM to give me a little rest, and I guided the musicians. Indeed, I have had so much rest of late that I felt in fine form, better than usual for Christmas. When everyone had been greeted and gone, I celebrated my third Mass (every priest may offer three) in the quiet Christmas-lit sanctuary, with only Darlene in attendance. I offered it for Marty Lierl, so he could spend Christmas in heaven, but prayed for all of our intentions and faithful here on earth.

Meanwhile, Fr. Cekada gave all the Sacraments to William Harris, who used to attend our church very devoutly from Dayton, and is now seriously ill. We were also praying for Becky Uhlenbrock who had been hospitalized the Holy Night, as well as for daughter Mary Rose, expecting her first child in Wisconsin.

Bede spent the afternoon with Bischels, lots of Bischels, while Fr. Cekada and I prudently vegged out and ate Mary Brueggemann’s excellent chicken soup and cookies for our Christmas dinner. Vespers closed the day as they should. A good time was had by all. We supped on pierogies and green beans, and more cookies.

We have an early New Year’s Eve “night watch” on offer tomorrow evening. Don’t forget First Friday’s call to “watch an hour with Me” this week. It’s time to make good resolutions!

May our Sorrowful and Joyful Mother bless you all with her Divine Son,

–Bishop Dolan