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We thank our musicians, our liturgical ministers, our church decorating crew, our social outreach people, our maintenance staff, and all who have worked so hard to provide a beautiful Christmas celebration in the parish. We are grateful for all of the hours of service, shared in love.

Wednesday is January 1, the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. This is a Holy Day of Obligation. We will have a vigil Mass at 5:30 on Tuesday evening, and Mass at 9:30 on Wednesday morning.

Merry Christmas!

We welcome all of the relatives and visitors who join us this week for Christmas. It is a joy to share together what matters most in life—our faith and our loved ones. As we are surrounded with Christmas activity, we come here to find what Christmas is truly all about. Here, surrounded by people we love, we meet Jesus, our Lord.

For those reading this bulletin before Christmas, please note that there is still plenty of opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Christmas.

The best way to prepare for Christmas doesn't involve baking, decorating or shopping. If you haven't taken part yet in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Advent, please make this your preparation and your gift to the Lord. We have many extra times for confessions before Christmas here in our parish, and our neighboring parishes also have opportunities. If it has been a long time, you will be warmly welcomed. If you have forgotten the prayers, pick up a pamphlet in the rack in the back church vestibule or just tell the priest that you have forgotten the prayers. If you come to the Lord with a humble spirit, you will find great healing and joy in this sacrament.

Reconciliation times at St. Therese, Little Flower
Friday, Dec. 20: noon-1:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 21: 8:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 23: 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrated December 9 — 8:30 a.m. Mass

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated December 12 — 8:30 a.m. Mass

December 8 is, of course, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is a holy day of obligation in our country and the patronal feast day of our diocese. However, since December 8 falls on a Sunday of Advent this year, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated on Monday, December 9, and it will not be a holy day of obligation. We will maintain our regular 8:30 a.m. Mass time on Monday morning.

We have a group of teens offering a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning this weekend, trying to raise money for a mission trip during the summer in upstate New York. It is good to see our young people active in the Church and offering a week of their summer vacation serving the poor. Please support them if you can.

Advent is our time to prepare to meet the Lord. There is a type of preparation which is far more important than shopping and wrapping and decorating ... spiritual preparation. We will have a parish Penance Service on Saturday, December 7, at 11:00 a.m. Several priests will be here to help with the sacrament. This is our chance to confess our sin before the Lord and to receive a new start with the great gift of absolution. I can't imagine a better way to prepare for Christmas. If you have been away from this sacrament for a long time or have forgotten the prayers, please don't let that discourage you. We will have pamphlets in the church which include the format, and we will have friendly priests who are happy to lead you.

Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For those with the disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestine. Over time, this immune reaction damages the small intestine's lining and hinders absorption of some nutrients. A Mayo Clinic-led analysis published in 2012 estimates that roughly 1.8 million Americans have the disease, but around 1.4 million of them are unaware that they have it.

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, marking the end of our liturgical year. This weekend also marks the end of the Year of Faith, declared by Pope Benedict. The Year of Faith was intended as a time for all of us to focus on the great treasure we have in our faith.

I find Thanksgiving to be a very interesting holiday. The very name of the holiday tells us that this is not just a day for eating, football and naps ... it is a day for prayer, a day to thank God. It seems to me an interesting curiosity that this is a civic holiday and not a Church holiday. I am edified that the U.S. government sets aside a day for prayer and for thanking God.

A new movie was recently released called "Mary of Nazareth." It was given a one-time showing in South Bend which quickly sold out. I have heard great reviews.

The Knights of Columbus are sponsoring another showing in Elkhart at the Lerner Theater on December 19 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $9 and can be purchased in advance at www.thelerner.com or by calling 574-293-4469. I'm told that this is a much bigger theatre and it should be easier to get tickets this time.

Deacon Greg gave a beautiful homily a couple of weeks ago about the need to work for justice. He told the story of a young woman with small children who was in crisis because her husband had been stopped in traffic and subsequently deported to Mexico.