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Advent IV

✠ The Bishop’s Corner ✠
The weather as well as the feasts these days remind me of a favorite verse of Crashaw:

Welcome all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter, day in night
Heaven in earth and God in man.

So Sunday night for Our Lady’s Octave, “the city was surpliced in white.” The so beautiful heavy hanging snow, silent because it said it all, fell so thoughtfully after the last Mass, and closed the feast of the white robed Virgin Queen.

Our first snow. It was so beautiful I did not have the heart to draw the drapes and shut it out that night. Then came the cold, and very cold, and with it the dark. Never mind, light is coming! Last night at 11:19 or so we marked the Winter Solstice.

Ember Friday brought mild sun, which is promised us now for Christmas week. Excellent. Oh, there are some who’d like the picturesque white Christmas, but mellow late December days are a blessing from God for those who need to go over to Bethlehem, and Josephs who need to have everything in readiness. But Sunday night… Ah yes, remember the splendor of the hanging snow. It may come again, man’s bane and God’s gift, but one which melts in humble homage before the Mother and Child.

The Rorate Masses are done for the year, for the dew is about to drop down from the heavens above. Only a few souls showed, the regulars mostly, but how we were rewarded. Still, the daily Masses at their now pretty much fixed times draw a much better attendance than before. Christmas Octave has its own schedule, but at the regular times. Try to come, lest the angels’ song go unheard by men. Though the Little King loves it, every note of it, as does His Mother Queen.

Fr. Soliman of the Philippines writes that they maintained the ancient Catholic custom there of a novena of 4:30 AM! sung Rorate Masses. That means that the “Misa de Aquinaldo” requires Father to be up at 3:30 AM, like the monks of old. The intention of the Novena is always “For the Filipinos’ constancy in the Faith and the conservation of religion in these parts.” Excellent intention for today, and a beautiful devotion on the part of priest and people.

Fr. McGuire reports a good response to their new Milwaukee two Mass Sunday schedule. Fr. Lehtoranta will be again their “Christmas priest.” He is looking forward to Christmas vacation, as I am sure do all of our devoted teachers. But our students, well, I know they’ll miss it. As will I them. Miss Florence’s kindergarteners have been visiting me of late to offer one of their fresh baked chocolate chip cookie or a lovely Christmas drawing.

Fr. McKenna is always happy to be with us for Midnight Mass but early the next morning heads out to Grand Forks to bring them Christmas, a true Santa on his flying sleigh, offering the Gift of gifts. Fr. Caleb Sons, ordained only in June, is spending Christmas with us, and we are so happy to welcome him, as well as the return of Messers Thomas Ojeka and John Okerulu, our Nigerian seminarians.

Thanks to all of you who turned out yesterday to help us decorate the church, a work of loving art each year. Invite somebody to come. You never know. Don’t forget to come yourself, and celebrate the dearest day of the year, Christmas with Christ’s Mass.

If you’re coming to Midnight Mass, look lively when the opening procession with the Baby Jesus passes by. Have your fervent petitions ready. It is an hour of grace, as is the elevation of the Christmas Masses, and the Blessing of Benediction on Christmas morning.

May blessings galore be your gift for His Birth. He only asks your heart, someplace to place them, for He comes loaded down with gifts.

Merry Christmas!
–Bp. Dolan