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Happy New Year everyone! – Liturgical year, that is. This Sunday, as we begin the season of Advent, the universal Church begins anew to unfold the mysteries of Christ. With Advent we beautifully connect the first coming of Christ with His second coming at the end of time. As we heard last week, that judgment at the end of time need not be something we fear, but, if we are living every day of our lives in communion with the Lord and loving Jesus in our neighbor, then we may look with expectant hope upon Christ’s coming. The Parousia (Greek “coming” – literally “being near”) of Jesus is a hopeful thing, which we see so clearly in the restrained but very evident joy of the Advent hymns we hear in Church.

Although I cannot control the radio stations and commercial outlets, I do wish us all to recall that Christmas is not yet arrived. The twelve days of Christmas start on the 25th (traditionally leading to the feast of Epiphany). This beautiful season is the best way to make Christmas fruitful. Various initiatives are available to make sure your prayer does not suffer because of the hustle & bustle of this time. Dynamic Catholic and Word on Fire are good websites to look into, not to mention various resources on Formed.org through our parish access code (I recommend the movie, Mary of Nazareth). A plan for your daily faith practice is an essential first step to achieving it consistently.

Another thing highly encouraged for Advent is Confession. Our children in religious education are going to the Sacrament of Confession this Sunday. At the end of the week is our parish Penance Service. Please make an examination of conscience this week and bring your families & friends on Saturday morning at 11 am to experience the Lord’s mercy through Reconciliation. This is one of the best ways to prepare for the Lord’s Birth.

This year with Christmas (and thus New Year’s Day) falling on a Monday, we will have some different Mass schedules for those Sundays prior. Please consult the schedule and note that some of our typical Masses will not be held, including the morning of the 24th. Please double check before you make plans. I really don’t want you to miss a Mass for these holy days.

Saint Thérèse, Little Flower, pray for us!