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Advent I

James plays the postlude after the early morning Mass this past Sunday, while some classmates look on.

Daily Sermons
November 20 – Bp. Dolan – St. Felix of Valois
November 21 – Bp. Dolan – The Presentation of Our Lady
November 24 – Fr. Lehtoranta – The Sufferings of St. John of the Cross
November 25 – Fr. Nkamuke – St. Catherine of Alexandria
November 26 – Bp. Dolan – St. Sylvester

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
Blessed Advent Sunday to you. Just following our Thanksgiving holiday, with its mixture of holy thoughts of gratitude, feasting and family and friends, the world has departed into feverish shopping, and will soon begin its month long Christmas celebration. Meanwhile we Christians, somewhat sluggishly perhaps, are just beginning our Advent. It’s hard in a world such as ours to focus on prayer and self denial in this busy season of buying the month long partying and planning and decorating, but focus we must. Anchor down your holy thoughts with definite resolutions. Don’t try for too much, but do tap into the still of this season, in spite of the strife and striving of it, and get yourself the gifts of silence, so you can prepare for the gift that matters, given and received at the Crib of Christmas.

The usual suspects, discarded perhaps since Lent like last season’s toys, should still be hanging around somewhere in your soul. Let’s see, there’s the family Rosary, a family night with no electronics, early rising for quiet prayer or Mass, the Blessed Mother’s Rorate Mass, some set time for reading, Sunday Vespers and Benediction, the straw put in the empty crib for sacrifices….

In addition, some giving up of food or drink or pleas-ures goes a long way in getting ready for true joys, and get-ting rid of resentments, bad habits, and the ultimate party spoiler, sin, is essential. Go to Confession and mean it. Get ready. Christ is coming.

Well, I hope these random thoughts and spiritual sug-gestions help you this First Sunday of Advent to have a good one. We all will be busy of course, there is decorating and shopping (our Craft Sale is even today!) but moderation is the key, as is getting off to a good start these first days of Our Savior’s Advent. It is prayer, and the quiet it needs to take root in the soul, and “bud forth the Savior” which is essential. Summon up some childlike imagination to make it happen.

The Fathers came back from Milwaukee full of trium-phant tales of their first Forty Hours. The faithful received it and participated with the most edifying enthusiasm. This does not surprise me, as they always show great devotion to their church and Faith. The essential is never to lose the first fervor, the absolute and innocent joy which must inspire all we do for Jesus and His Church. This, and perseverance, is the thing.

In this same spirit we are sending Fr. Nkamuke back to Nigeria, loaded with gifts and books and sacred articles for his missions. He surely goes with our full support and prayers. Godspeed, Father! We will keep you informed of his progress, and I know you will not forget him in your prayers.

We had a welcome visit with another missionary over Thanksgiving. Fr. Oscar Saavedra came down from Detroit to spend a little time with us, just before his tenth anniversary of ordination on Sunday. Father is a Mexican missionary to our land, and we are all edified at the excellent work he does for Bishop Sanborn’s church in Fraser, Queen of Martyrs, with the many sacrifices such a work must entail. The missionary leaves his home and family, his language and culture, to heed God’s voice which summons him to service in another land. Fr. Nkamuke is returning home. It is true, the challenges will be many, but he will be home. A Missionary heeds another call, but at great price. I am honored to have ordained him ten years ago. Please pray for all of our priests and bishops, at home and abroad.

A final thought: we have a whole weekend of prayer, and Mass and watching ahead of us. Make use of it, be with us for the first Friday night watch of adoration, our Lady’s First Saturday and her Monday Holy Day, and the Lord’s Day on Sunday. The world out there is truly topsy-turvy, with manipulated race riots and militarized police, Black Fridays and crazy consumerism. What a relief it should be to come to church, not as one more item on the to do list, but a welcome return to the wonderful world of reality. Come Lord Jesus!

May He bless your first efforts this week.

—Bishop Dolan