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Sunday within the Octave of Christmas

Vesting of the Bishop

Christmas Poinsettia Memorial List

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
I pray your Christmas blessings only increase as we approach the Octave Day and the New Year on Tuesday. It’s remarkable to consider how much has been done since last Sunday’s Advent ended with a full Sunday schedule. The 24th saw the Divine Office and the sung Mass, last minute preparations of the Eve, the long Matins and Midnight watch, the Carols and Pontifical Mass, and a nice reception to close. After a so short night, the many Masses of the day, strings and Benediction, a bite of Christmas dinner, the Vespers. The daily High Masses continued during the week. Wine was blessed and the Health of St. John taken on Thursday, in a very pleasant party with live music! Holy Innocents saw another High Mass, Benediction and the opening of the Infant of Prague Novena. Today it is the children’s turn, another blessing and party. The weather cooperated splendidly with Springlike temperatures withal. Truly, a beautiful Christmas!

In the main crèche in the sanctuary, we have a beautiful gift from the Sisters this Christmas, dedicated to our devotions at St. Gertrude the Great. The banner headline is from of Our Lord: “You shall find Me in the heart of Gertrude,” which were once inscribed over the door of our old church, and still describe the treasures of His Heart to be found within. Thus we see a monstrance with the Sacred Heart (our primary devotion and perpetual novena) over the crib, pointing to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. The Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Pure Heart of St. Joseph are represented, as they are on the altar rerados. Our Lady is crowned, her veil held by a little child, a delicate reference to our great devotion to the Blessed Mother, as well as the annual May Crowning. St. Joseph of course is there, how we love him. The sheep represent the faithful, the lambs, our children, whom we care for with our school, our catechism classes, the Sacraments. The shepherds represent our clergy, and our devotion of the First Thursday, prayer for priests. The poinsettias are from Mexico, representing our devotion to the missions, and their priests. When the Kings arrive, we will think of Nigeria. Of course the Holy Child is at the heart of everything. We honor Him here with many images and great confidence, especially as our Little King and our Doctor of the Sick. Behold Jesus Christ and His members whom you find, at Christmas and all year, in the heart of St. Gertrude the Great Church.

A secondary crèche decorates the Baptistry altar, with very fine European wood carved figurines. Under St. Joseph’s altar is a symbolic representation of the actual spot of the Nativity at Bethlehem, covered in marble and marked with a star, icons, and many lamps.

But you would miss all of this (even if you have very good eyesight) unless you were to visit the shrines, come early say, or linger after Mass. The classic Catholic lack of curiosity always amazes me. Maybe this explains the lack of devotion, especially to daily Mass? New Year’s resolution: take a tour of our church, and return to visit the altars and the shrines often. Devotions
are meant to help you love God more, and save your soul. Love your church, be proud of it. God’s home is open for you, to help open Heaven for you and yours. Don’t be a stranger.

God bless you these final days of the Christmas Octave, and throughout the New Year. Save some strength for First Friday, All Night Adoration and Epiphany, the high point of Christmas. We are honored next week to be hosting Bishop Joseph Selway, who will celebrate the High Mass. Come to the traditional Appreciation Reception afterwards and meet His Excellency.

“Let us go over unto Bethlehem, and see this word that is come to pass.”
–Bp. Dolan