I’m pleased to announce to you that the long-awaited relic of the blood of Pope St. John Paul will be brought to our parish next weekend. A promised gift from my friend, the Most Rev. Mieczylaus Mokrzycki (Latin-Rite Archbishop of Lvov, in Ukraine and the last priest-secretary to the late Pope St. John Paul), it is being brought to us by one of his priests, Father Karol (Charles) Nedza, currently working in Washington, D.C. We will have a ceremony after the Saturday 5:30 p.m. Mass, marking the occasion.
In less than a month, we will have the Advent-themed musical performance of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” in our church (set your calendar reminders for Sunday, December, December 3rd at 3:00 p.m.). Based on a legend of the 3 Kings’ journey to Bethlehem, it follows the style of the medieval mystery plays that were originally performed in the great cathedrals or major churches, beginning as early as the 5th century and developing more fully by the time of the Middle Ages. In some places, the mystery play developed into a series of plays dealing with all the major events in the Christian calendar, from the Creation to the Day of Judgment. A few of these, such as “Herod,” “The Nativity” or “The Passion of Jesus Christ,” originally were interwoven into actual liturgical services. By the end of the 15th century, the practice of acting these plays in cycles on festival days was established in several parts of Europe and travelled from place to place to allow more people to view them. Our “Amahl” performance is actually one-hour in length and is considered to be the greatest work of the 20th century Italian-born composer, Gian Carlo Menotti. I hope you will make time to see this in-house performance, directed by our own Director of Liturgical Music, Eric Keiper, and featuring members of our excellent parish choirs and our cantors par excellence! You won’t be disappointed! Tickets are available at the parish office ($10 for adults; $5 for students from 6-18; children 5 and under FREE), and invite a friend along as your guest!
In this world where good and evil vie to occupy the same space, we must be wise and vigilant. In this world where stately roses and disruptive weeds can share the same garden, we must be wise and vigilant. In this world where the foolish and the wise can sit together at the same table, we must be the wise and prudent. The question is: how often are we prepared to be the wise one? As we children were growing up, my maternal grandmother would tell us stories in trying to explain why it was not right to tell a lie, or why it was wrong to steal, and so on. I used to hear her stories and say to myself, “Why does she have to tell us these stories?” As I got older, it occurred to me that not only did she just enjoy using stories to convey life lessons but, the life lessons made more sense once digested, and became nourishment for my soul. Our Sunday Gospel reminds me of my grandmother’s stories, a little thought provoking (with moments that make you want to ask a question, but hold back) – yet, are open to interpretation. Like any parable, we are invited to do more than just read it. Let the words digest, and relish the total effect at the moment when we realize that we are being enriched, and awakened by the words, by the parable, by the story.
As Christians, it seems we are always waiting for Jesus to reveal Himself to us. We tell ourselves that we will see Him at the end of our lives. It also seems that in our anticipation to be part of the Kingdom of God, we forget what is necessary: we forget that we need the light of Christ. We need that light when we’re baptized; when called to show compassion. That light exudes from us when we live out the Gospel and is fueled by our faith, perseverance, and good works. That light illuminates our path to see and experience the Kingdom of God. We don’t need to wait for the end of our lives to prepare ourselves; the Kingdom of God is with us everyday. But, we need the light: the light that shows the way, and lights the path for a stranger, for a friend, or an outcast; the light that is also a guiding compass for those seeking mercy and understanding. With Advent soon upon us, we can once again take time to remind ourselves of our ultimate destiny in life. May we stay spiritually awake and be prepared with our light. Let’s not forget what is truly necessary to experience the fullness of the Kingdom of God!