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Advent IV

Above, 5 Short Sermons by Bp. Dolan on the O Antiphons

The closing procession from Bp. Dolan’s anniversary Mass.

The social hall during Bp. Dolan’s anniversary reception.

Zelus Domus Tuae. An original work composed for the occasion of Bp. Dolan’s anniversary celebration.

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
Thanks be to God for the last sunny, sweet mild days of Autumn which cheered us this past week, and prepared us for cold rains and whatever Providence plans for us in the coming days. But I suspect the sun will come again, and it still looks to be a warm Winter in the short term.

Short or long, Winter began Friday evening as we were at Mass for St. Thomas. It was the shortest day of the year. Tomorrow’s Vigil, Christmas Eve, is called “the day which knows no end,” for before we go to bed it will be Christmas, and Christ will have been born in the solemn midnight hour. Come and watch and pray with us. Santa can take care of himself. Good children of the Child Jesus watch for His coming. You have the full schedule in the bulletin. Spare a prayer today for families who will be too busy “doing” multiple family parties to make it for the main event, in church.

Of course, the Christmas Dawn Mass with the String Quartet and Benediction has its own charm, and is very popular as well. Nobody comes to the 11:00 AM Low Mass anymore. We’ve given up on trying to sing carols, but it’s a great Mass if you’re looking for something quiet. There will probably be a number of private Masses around this time as well, each priest being privileged to offer three.

“Christmas,” after Christ’s Mass, during the week, is of course a holiday and family time, “downtime” as they say. But the great feasts continue, and the Holy Mass should not be abandoned. Try to make one or two during the Christmas Novena. Note the special times for Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday, we resume our regular weekend schedule. The Holy Innocents Children’s blessing and party will follow the Sunday 9 o’clock Mass, as in recent years.

An alert Gertrudian, eyeing appreciatively the remnants of last Sunday’s bake sale before Vespers (we always translate them to the Vestibule) exclaimed: It’s not a bake sale but a work of art. Indeed. Thank you who worked so hard, and you who generously participated in its fruits. Ditto, as Rush would say for you who decorated the church for Christmas on Thursday. We had only our two faithful Home Education families (thank God for big families!) some school students for awhile and a straggler or so. But how lovely everything looks. And thanks to the Sisters for the original theme of the Christmas Crèche: Our devotions at St. Gertrude the Great. Let all the prayer and beauty soak in over the forty days of Christmastide.

Fr. Nkamuke reports a Baptism busy arrival in Nigeria, eight I think, and an attempted carjacking. Father didn’t see the gun, or else he would have given up the keys, he says. Oh, there was still plenty of evidence of violence from the recent community war at Boje, where little Mona-Lisa was awaiting the regenerative waters of Baptism. The soldiers did afford protection to travellers, but the steep mountainside almost did in Margarita, Father’s automobile, which started rolling backwards on its own. Margarita is known for this, but a kind passerby knew that high speed up the rough road was the only way. Speed they did, and car and driver held on. Father’s Good Samaritan was amply rewarded by a house blessing and rosaries, the latter being claimed by the whole village as well, exhausting Father’s stock. His plantain supply, however, was replenished by his benefactor, much to Father’s satisfaction. Do support our missionary today.

In Advent as in life, we work and watch and sometimes worry; inevitably grow weary, and wait. But sometimes, we think “wait!” it worked! What a wonder. How could this be? This is a precious moment. Usually we are too busy and distracted to look back and take stock, or too jaded by past problems to believe that yes the tree is up and glowing and beautiful, and that’s that. But it is at these moments that we should dissolve in interior tears of joy and thanksgiving (as the old spiritual writers used to say), for mercies not earned and many days, not even counted. But let there never be a day when we do not give thanks, and count the blessings we receive.

Blessed Christmas!
–Bp. Dolan