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Vigil of Christmas, Advent IV


Daily Sermons
December 14 – Fr. Lehtoranta – The Loveliest Lady
December 15 – Bp. Dolan – St. Maria di Rosa
December 18 – Fr. Lehtoranta – Antiphons, Little and Great
December 20 – Bp. Dolan – A Few Thoughts on the Annunciation
December 21 – Fr. Lehtoranta – St. Thomas

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
Christmas Eve in the shortest possible Advent finds us ready and rejoicing for the Redeemer. Oh, it is true, so much remains to be done in the soul (although the church looks good), but that must not hinder our joy at Jesus’ Birth. Give Him your sins, as He told St. Jerome, along with all of the love and devotion you can muster. Ask Mary to show you how to make her Son not part of your Christmas, but all of it. The little Child will settle for nothing less.

It’s been quite a week, a busy one but quiet I noted. I’ve never seen before the three days in a row of Rose vestments and rejoicing which we had at the beginning of the week. The repetition lets it sink in, as do the holy forty days of Christmas which begin at Midnight Mass: Christ is born for us, not was. “Is,” as at every Mass. Rejoice.

America was prominent in the calendar last week. Ember Wednesday came first to sanctify Winter, and concentrate our attention on the Annunciation. Then St. Thomas, Apostle of the Americas, with a bright sunny day for the North American solstice, the shortest day of the year. Ember Friday brought us St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, our country’s first canonized saint, who lived the Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation. Friday was the centennial of her death. She died of a heart attack at 67, in one of her hospitals in Chicago, wrapping Christmas presents for 500 children. She made 67 foundations, one for each year of her life. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was her all, and Our Lady her model in everything.

A quiet, cheerful, prayerful spirit made our church decorating seem almost effortless this year, although it certainly is not. God bless our workers. Our outdoor Christmas lights never looked better. Thank you, Young Adults!

An early and continuing thanks to our devoted and growing choir would not be out of place this Christmas Eve. Thank you to Joan Lotarski, Andrew Richesson and of course Fr. Cekada. The same must be said of our faithful and enthusiastic servers, young and old. Oh, let’s not forget sacristans, helpers and cooks. Faithful, too, who earn the name by your loyalty and generous devotion. We will have many guests and part time Catholics this Christmas, and they are welcome. But you make it possible! The Holy Child reward you.

I took a walk the other night in the neighborhood, and was impressed to see homes still lit for Christmas, for the birth of the King. Beautiful.

Fr. McGuire and I made a sad but joyful visit to Christ Hospital on Tuesday. Katie was still in her coma, but comforted us by stirring once or twice during the prayers. Could she hear? Please pray for the repose of her soul. An old time parishioner from Norwood years ago, Vivian Wainright, has inoperable cancer. For years now she’s lived some distance from church, but finally did receive her sacraments. Deo Gratias. She is now in a nursing home in Russellville, Ohio. Please pray for her good death, and for her granddaughter Angela, and family.

One of the great Advent themes is preparation for Christ’s coming at the end, of the world, of our life. The prayers of Advent, hopeful, joyful, intense longing, took on a special meaning for me in the light of the death and dying in 2017. Three priests, five women, two men, and now one dying. “Lift up your heads, for behold your Redemption draws nigh.”

Come, Lord Jesus, Come! A blessed Christmas,

– Bishop Dolan