As we celebrate the great season of Christmas, which begins December 25th and ends January 15th, we are presented with many good opportunities to carry the spirit of the season to homes and hearts that are in need of joy and love. We reflect how the Child Jesus once lay helpless upon the hay in the manger while Mary and Joseph nurtured Him through his earliest days on earth and protected Him from some tense moments by their love and affection. Some expressions of that love find their way down through the centuries as we behold the awe shown in the faces of little children standing before the manger scene: innocence fixed upon Innocence!
I witnessed a similar touching event last Tuesday evening in our church when the children of our parish school presented a beautifully Christmas-themed musical program with carols and hymns from around the world, sung in English, Polish, Italian, German, Spanish, French and several native languages of Africa and North America. It was just one more amazing demonstration of how and why a Catholic school education brings out the very best in the formation of our children. Led by Music Teacher, Eric Keiper and capably assisted by Parish Organist, Matthew Emkey, the children didn’t sing of Santa Claus or snowmen or reindeer, but got into the real “reason for the season.” It was awesome! The Keiper-Emkey team is also responsible for bringing the beauty of this season to all of us who come to celebrate Jesus this Christmas while listening to and joining in the music for Christmas Mass.
They will join our volunteer parish choirs and our cantors -Trevor, Chris, Matthew and Dylan – in presenting our best in music to uplift our spirits. How blest we are when we work together to show forth the beauty of our rich and diverse spiritual heritage and treasure the glory of our Catholic Faith!
Understandably, not everyone will feel the joy of this season because of the death of loved ones this past year, especially the more recent ones. I especially want to thank Darin Leuken of our Grief Share Ministry, who assists in leading so many saddened hearts away from gloomy darkness into the light of hope that Christmas is supposed to bring to Christians everywhere. Trying to assuage the grief that wells up at this time isn’t an easy task for anyone. But each of us is given the glimmer of hope when we contemplate the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and its power over all kinds of evil that savages our world. Whether it’s from worldwide terrorism or our private grieving, Jesus came to save us from the power of Satan that tries to overcome us. All tragedies are but part of the same evil force that the Father sent Jesus into our world to conquer. They’re the result of that first sin we call Original. So let’s rejoice in the wonders of the original Christmas story because it is our story!
Since Christmas comes on a Sunday this year, we Pastors again find ourselves in a quandary. Since we count on the generous support of our parishioners each Sunday, technically we’re deprived of a collection this week because of the way Christmas and Sunday coincide. To help stem the shortfall, I’m asking all of our guests as well as our regular parishioners to make their Christmas Offering as generous as possible this year. There is a 2nd Collection on Christmas to assist us in meeting our goal in the annual Diocesan Services Appeal. Our Parish Pastoral Council has been working with me over a significant period of time to address some of the fiscal difficulties that affect our parish budgeting process. A Pastor’s sleepless nights or ulcers won’t solve any problems created by a shortfall, but your generous response to this appeal will do much to keep us on track and continue to move us in the right direction.
In a related matter, the Parish Pastoral Council has approved a plan to cut back on some of the many special collection requests we’re required to make each month. Beginning this January, we will significantly decrease the number of monthly extra 2nd collections we must take up to satisfy diocesan requests, and combine some of them into one special 2nd collection on Easter. We will then portion out the funds to the approximate percent that we have previously given to these “pass-through” collections to be sent to the diocese. In this way, we hope to cut back on the number of times (and envelopes) spent in responding to the diocesan special requests. Your cooperation will go a long way in helping us to help others more efficiently. Again, I thank you for your generous support and kind assistance in these matters. May you and your loved ones be blessed with a Happy, Healthy and Holy Christmas!