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Advent IV

Our altar boys take their job very seriously.

Daily Sermons
December 10 – Fr. Lehtoranta – St. Melchiades and Holy House of Loreto
December 11 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Pope St. Damasus and the Heretics
December 12 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Our Lady Conquers Mexico
December 15 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Mary, Mother of Jesus and Our Mother
December 16 – Fr. McGuire – St. Francis and The Holy Souls

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
Christmas fast approaches, and with it—if we will—the promise of light into the drab misery of our darkness. Sincere thanks to our helpers, great and small, who turned out in force last week, and began the transformation of our church into a richly decorated palace for our King. Many of you are helping still this weekend, or the last days before His birth. God reward you for what you do for Jesus, and for us. Many souls will draw comfort and inspiration this Christmas from the beauty of the church, as well as its heavenly music and ceremonies. If only some put it to profit, how happy we must be. If no one does, well, we do it for God, and how happy we are to be able to.

A good charitable Christmas devotion is to promote a true homecoming for those who have gone off, or wandered far. Already in Advent many have been coming, or coming back, “for Christmas”. Do you know someone who needs to “come to the crib” or coming once, become a regular? It’s free, but there is a price to pay for grace. God wants the present of our presence every Sunday, so that He may load his gifts upon us year round.

This is the very best of gifts. It’s ours just for showing up, and with it the regularity of Catholic life, starting each week with the Sacrifice of the Mass. If not, don’t they worry about their souls, about their children, about passing on the Faith, about living as Catholics, about the hour of their death? All of these problems are solved, and so much more given and received, by Sunday Mass. The exchange of gifts is not just for once a year. Every Mass is Christmas.

What can I do? Well, we need not nag, but to take a persevering charitable approach, humble and matter of fact. Pray. Ask for the return of the fallen away, for conversions among family and friends. Don’t get angry, but know that this patient work will be your crown in Heaven. Some hit and miss Catholics will need that little push, and much prayer and encouragement their whole lives long.

One “penance” you can do for everyone to make Sunday Mass (especially when there are little ones involved) is to make an extra Mass or two yourself during the week. This is a powerful, if neglected, weapon for all of our needs. We whine, we worry, we weep and worse, but we just don’t pray, especially not the most powerful of prayers. Try it this Christmastide, when all is so beautiful, and peaceful in Church.

The poem says that not even a mouse was stirring the night before Christmas. I hope it will be so. But the fortnight before Christmas a mouse in the house of the young fathers had stirred himself right into the fridge. How we are not sure, but there he was feasting away all night long like the priests of Dagon in Daniel. Well, we set a trap, and Gino, a true Dutchman, plugged with a pen the smallest of holes, and the dike is holding. Our tasty leftovers (thank you, Cucina cooks) are again safe.

But Christmas is the season of God’s creatures, isn’t it? Our new patron St. Francis, who put the creatures back into Christmas with the first crèche, would gently insist it is so. The church wall raccoons have sublet, I fear, to even noisier beasts, and are bickering all during Mass and Vespers, roaming all through the house. Animals are territorial, aren’t they? Puccini spotted a feral cat the other day, a dead ringer for Caravaggio, who could have been their brother; about to encroach upon the property. The fearless felines went into full military mode. Puccini was dispatched to pursue into the tall grass, and Caravaggio, ever self-effacing, volunteered to watch the supply lines in the back, Fr. Cekada noted. It was amusing to see him, safely away from the fray, stalking the perimeters with all of his skill. So intent was he on sentry duty that he allowed me to pass without even bringing up the subject of his next meal, at which I wondered exceedingly. Do you know when your next supernatural feeding is scheduled for?

May the Light of the World shine bright in all eyes on Christmas reflecting the love of God made Man. May all eyes take it in, the old and jaded, the bloodshot and weary, the bright and watchful as well as the slothful. Come keep watch with us for Wednesday’s holy night, and Thursday’s coming of the Light.

God bless you and bring you back.
—Bp. Dolan