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Within the Octave of Christmas

Our church, as decorated for Christmas Mass

Daily Sermons
December 20 – Bp. Dolan – O Key of David
December 24 – Bp. Dolan – Christmas Eve
December 25 – Bp. Dolan – A Christmas Conversion
December 26 – Bp. Dolan – St. Stephen
December 27 – Fr. McKenna – St. John, ApEv

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
Blessed Christmas Sunday! We pause in the midst of Christmas, with its visiting and outings and games and rest, to return for the Lord’s Day, profoundly grateful for the grace of the Nativity, and the beautiful Christmas granted us.

Our wicked Winter weather, with cold and ice and snow came and went in Advent, leaving us mellow days and sunshine for the Christmas Octave. We sometimes feel almost as though we lived in a protected pocket, warm and safe at St. Gertrude the Great. We do!

The weather certainly encouraged an excellent turnout for Midnight Mass: some 200 souls, with more for the beautiful morning Masses. St. Clare reported a record 32 faithful in its small oratory, assisting at Fr. McGuire’s three Masses.

This is the 30th year of our Christmas morning string quartet Mass and Benediction, an incredibly rich offering for the birthday of the Boy who is God. Midnight Mass was receded by the customary vigil of Matins and Carols, procession and Crib blessing, all accompanied by magnificent music, and sublime texts for meditation. Our choir gave many hours in preparation for this stately Pontifical Mass (and thank you, servers!) rehearsing its beautiful, stirring music. What delights to accompany our devout prayer!

Thanks to all who helped us decorate this year. Many, experienced hands made the work go quickly, and St. Joseph (who decorated the first crêche) did his part as well. Our Crib this year has a Southwestern air, with its cacti and palm trees. Remember the poinsettia itself comes from Mexico, where they call it “el flor de la noche buena,” the flower of the good night. The many angels float in the air adoringly, and the gentle blue drapes allow the Mass, Bethlehem re-presented, to be seen.

St. Hugh in Milwaukee had a terrible nine-inch snowstorm the last Sunday of Advent, but still some 40 souls showed up for Mass, at least half of the congregation. Fr. Lehtoranta blessed the children there yesterday, and gave them a story with his little party for them. Our blessing and party is scheduled for today.

We heard earlier from Fr. Nkamuke, who visited neighboring Ghana first this Advent, for the sake of one soul, before heading home to Nigeria. He is still hopping around his native land, bringing Mass and Sacraments, a true St. Nicholas. Bishop Sanborn returned safely from his missionary journey “across the pond” in England, where he gave two conferences on the current state of the Church.

Tomorrow evening I head off to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for New Year’s Mass at our Morada of St. Gertrude. It will be good to see our little but growing flock there. Their pastor, Fr. Palma, is on vacation with his family in Cordoba, Argentina. Fr. German Fliess, of the seminary, is taking his place at Our Lady of the Sun in Phoenix.

Fr. McKenna reports a good visit to St. Augustine’s outside of Norfolk, Virginia, with many sung Masses, and the office as well. Some 70 souls assisted at Christmas Midnight Mass.

Puccini’s news has a bit of a bump. He got under one of the idling trucks next door, and returned to the convento covered with engine grease! His fine white Winter coat seemed ruined, but he is a phlegmatic feline, and took it in stride. He even submitted to a Christmas Eve pontifical ablution with customary good grace. He looks a bit better now.

I must mention our extraordinary Winter Solstice of Saturday the 21st, St. Thomas’ Day. It was a truly Gertrudian moment, when the dark morning was illuminated by unwonted solemnity, with prayer and preaching and song. Simpsons served and sang, including the O Oriens antiphon, “O Dawn,” for the Novena. The High Mass was sung with incense. There was a little sermon and prayers to St. Thomas. The Apostle of the Americas is the patron of doubters, who sheds the light of faith wherever he goes. The beautiful bright days of chant and prayer continued with the Lotarskis singing for St. Stephen and St. John.

Thank you for all of the gifts and goodies! I don’t know when we received so many! How kind and thoughtful you all are. God reward your goodness! My “Christmas surprise” was the extra “Christmas tree” in the cloister. The unwieldy blue space capsule in the center morphed into a tree with lights, set off by the new Victorian street lamps at the entrance. Excellent! Thank you!

Remember Church this Wednesday, too, won’t you? The Holy Day on New Year’s Day enables us to give God the first fruits of a new year. Remember, too, First Friday with its all night adoration of reparation, and First Saturday with a similar theme. Bergoglio the Big Mouth recently blasphemed Our Lady. At Christmas! Please pray with us in reparation to Her Immaculate Heart.

Mark Monday week, Twelfth Night or Epiphany, when the priests will again offer Solemn Mass. We want to entertain you afterwards at a holiday party, in thanks especially to all of our workers.

God bless you in these continuing Christmas days, the waning ones of 2013. Thanks be to God!
– Bishop Dolan