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I am sorry to leave the Christmas season; it flies by much too fast. We are now only 6 ½ weeks from Lent.

Please remember in prayer this week our second graders, who will have First Reconciliation on Saturday. Our youngsters are ready for a wonderful sacrament.

I again offer thanks to all who put so much effort into our celebration of the Christmas season. The liturgies were beautiful and there were many acts of service and charity taking place quietly behind the scenes. I am reminded of our parish service prayer as I see people acting as the hands and feet of Christ.

Let me point out one beautiful act which quietly took place in this parish. Lovability is a group which meets at our parish, serving handicapped adults. This year the group provided Christmas baskets with food and gifts for the families of jail inmates. Deacon Greg was able to identify many such families in the area, and drivers were organized to deliver those gifts to families who were surely having a difficult Christmas.

This weekend we celebrate Epiphany, the showing of Christ to the world. Of course we remember the Wise Men who spread the Good News. We too have a role to play in spreading that news. There is nothing more important than knowing and following the Lord. We shouldn't hesitate to witness our faith.

I continue to discover ministries in this parish which have very little publicity, but involve people quietly serving. I recently learned that we have over 40 people who are regularly cooking and delivering casseroles for the Center for the Homeless. I think that our parish should be proud of that great effort and I offer thanks to all who are involved.

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.