Archive for December, 2008

Homily — Christmas MMVIII

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Homily — Christmas MMVIII

Merry Christmas!

St. Luke, in his Christmas narrative, states that There were shepherds in that region, living in the fields just outside Bethlehem.

Shepherds trying to raise a family, trying to make a living, make ends meet.

Shpeherds who, as Midnight approached and the cold began to set in, looked out over those star lit fields to the town that lay in the distance, and began to ponder.

The town was filled with people.  One of the shepherds had to go into town earlier that day, and the sidewalks were filled with people; the muddy roads jammed with traffic.  You had to wait in long lines wherever you went.

And all throughout Bethlehem — in the Taverns, in the Marketplaces, in the places of worship — wherever you went, you could sense in the air a weariness, an anxiety about what the coming months might hold for people.

For as the shepherds and the townspeople knew full well, that this enrollment which Caesar Augustus decreed, which had caused all the inns of Bethlehem to be filled, could only mean one thing:  more taxes to pay to Caesar on top of the many other taxes they were already barely able to pay.

The enrollment of every man in the Empire might also mean that more wars were being planned by the powers that be in the months to come as well.

The shepherds looked out over the fields outside the city of Bethlehem, filled with these cares and concerns, and many other personal ones.

When suddenly, the Angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.

And after hearing the Angel’s message, and experiencing the Lord’s Glory, and after seeing the vast army of God’s Angels all about them, praising God and saying “Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to men of good will,” the many cares and anxieties of those shepherds didn’t trouble them any more, rather, only one care and concern remained:  to seek out and find that infant wrapped in swaddling clothing, lying in a manger, and once they had found them, to worship and adore Him, and offer Him all they had, and then to make known the message that had been told them to everyone they came in contact with.

Oh Shepherds, young and old, my brothers and sisters in Christ, this Christmas Day let us cast off all our worldly cares, and see that the Glory of the Lord is shining upon us!

Let us see how God’s Army of Angels surrounds all men and women of good will, to protect them from all harm.  This Heavenly Host bids you and me to join in their song of praise to God in the Highest with them.

O Baby Jesus, may our one care in this life be to ever seek out, this day and every day, that lowly stable where you can now be found; with your Virgin Mother Mary and St. Joseph beside you, there to adore you as our Lord and God, and to cast our cares upon you, for you care so much for us, and to offer you all we have and are.

May our one care in this life be to draw all our brother and sister shepherds, to draw every human being we meet, to your manger, to kneel with us there, to be fed by you in Bethlehem, the House of Bread, with the Bread of Heaven, your Body and  Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Bless us, Baby Jesus, this Christmas, and by Your Incarnation, bring Peace to all men, women, and children of good will throughout this coming New Year.

Homily — Gaudete Sunday MMVIII Dec. 14, 2008

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Homily — Gaudete Sunday MMVIII            Dec. 14, 2008

When I was in my last year at the seminary, I had the opportunity to take a 10-day pilgrimage to Rome during March of 1999 with 26 of my classmates.  We were all transitional Deacons at the time, and our Vice Rector, who knew lived in Rome for years and was fluent in Italian, accompanied us.

Before we left for the trip, we wrote to the Vatican, requesting a private audience with Pope John Paul II.

You see, for the first 20 or so years of his pontificate, John Paul II would invite about 30 people each day to attend Morning Mass in the Pope’s small private chapel, and after Mass he would greet each person and give them a Rosary.  (The Pope by the way stopped doing this either when he got real sick or after 9/11, and Benedict XVI hasn’t resumed the practice)

It was well known back then, that if you requested to go to the Pope’s private morning Mass and you or your group was chosen, you would be called the night before the Mass and told then.  (not much notice, but that’s Rome for you)

Well, two nights before we were to fly home, we got the call.  The Monsignor who called us told us to be at the Sant’Anna Gate in St. Peter’s Square tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. sharp wearing our cassocks.

We were to prepare hymns for the Mass, and we were expected to sing for the Pope a piece of Gregorian Chant called the Ave Regina Caelorum, which is sung each day to the Blessed Mother during the Season of Lent.  As hardly any of us knew how to sing it, we needed to learn it that night.

We also were expected to provide a Deacon and a Reader for the Mass.  Before we left on the trip, we picked names out of a hat to determine who of us seminarians would be the deacon at Mass and who would be the reader at Mass on any given day of the trip.  It just so happened that I was scheduled to be the reader on that day we were having Mass with the Holy Father!  (Fortunately, it wasn’t one of those Old Testament readings with a lot of hard to pronounce Hebrew names.)

So the next morning all 28 of us are at the gate well before 6:30 with our cassocks on.

And at 6:30, this tall Italian priest comes, and takes us through the gate and past the Swiss Guards, and walks us to the base of this big marble spiral staircase that we can’t see around the corner where it goes.

And he says in Italian “Wait here, I’ll be back” and disappears up the staircase.

So we wait there, it’s 6:30 in the morning and no one’s around.  20 minutes goes by.

Finally, the same priest comes down the staircase, and says in Italian “Follow me.”  And he starts walking SLOWLY up the staircase.  I’ve never seen a person walk so deliberately slow in all my life.  We wanted to run up that staircase like a kid runs down the stairs on Christmas morning, but the Italian priest knew that this wasn’t the way to prepare for meeting the Pope.

Once we got up the stairs, the Priest puts us into this room, and says again in Italian, “Wait here, I’ll be back” and disappears through a door leaving us alone in this room.

Another 20 minutes go by.  Finally, the priest returns and takes us into another holding room, which ended up being the room just outside the Chapel.

Ten minutes later, we’re finally allowed to enter the Pope’s private chapel, a beautiful, high ceiling Baroque Chapel which can fit about 50 people.

And right in front of the altar, almost hidden among the marble and gold and carved angels, kneeling with his back to us in silent prayer before Our Lord in the Tabernacle, dressed in his all white cassock, was Pope John Paul II.

So we celebrated the Mass, and I read the first reading with the Pope sitting 6 feet away from me looking right at me.

And after the Mass, we went back into the big room just outside the chapel, and the priest again said to us “Wait here.”

Our Vice Rector told us that when the Pope came in, we were to line up and he would stand next to the Pope and give our name and our diocese to him as he shook our hand and gave us a rosary.
As the time got closer to meet this great man of God, we all started to get nervous about what we should say to him when he shook our hand.

And one of my classmates, Jerome Koutnick, said “Don’t try to make something happen, just let it happen.”  Which was pretty good advice.

So the Pope comes in, and when when my turn comes to shake his hand my Vice Rector says “Holy Father, this is Deacon Michael Woolley of the Diocese of Providence Rhode Island”

And the Pope looks at me and says “You were the Deacon today”.  And I said to him, “No Holy Father, I was the Reader” and the Pope said “Hmm . . . .”

Later on, when I told my classmates this, they all said “You don’t contradict the Pope!”

I tell this story of waiting for the Pope, because today the Church celebrates Gaudete or “Rejoicing” Sunday.

The Church rejoices, for the Lord is near, the wait will soon be over.  It is not the Pope who calls us to tell us we will meet with him shortly, it is Jesus Himself who calls us and tells us his coming is imminent.

As we say after the Our Father, we “wait in joyful hope for the coming of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The Christmas celebration of Jesus’ birth might not be here yet; Jesus’ coming into our hearts in a new and more powerful way may not have taken place yet; and Jesus’ Second coming at the end of time may not have taken place yet, but nonetheless we wait for it joyfully because of this preparation we have been doing this Advent.

And my brothers and sisters, if we have prepared well this Advent through prayer, through a good confession, and through good works of charity, then Jesus will surely come to us this Christmas, He will surely be born in us in a new and more powerful way.

May we take the advice of my old classmate, now Fr. Jerome, and not try to make Christ’s coming happen, but, having prepared well, to then joyfully sit back and watch it happen.

Immaculate Conception Novena Talk — “Woman Clothed with the Sun”

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena Talk — “Woman Clothed with the Sun”
Note:  this past Sunday evening, I gave the following talk at a nearby parish, St. Brendan’s in Bellingham, as part of a nine day Novena the parish was having in preparation for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

From the Book of Revelation, Chapter 12, Verse 1:  A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

In the Roman Liturgy today,  this verse from Revelation is frequently applied to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is sung as the Introit, or Entrance Antiphon, in the Mass of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven.  It is again read as the First Reading in this same Mass.  Finally, Rev. 12:1 is read at Morning Prayer in the Office of the Virgin Mary on Saturdays in Ordinary Time.

What is rather interesting, however, is that prior to the 1950 Dogma of the Assumption by Pope Pius XII, Rev. 12:1 was not read in any Marian Liturgy.

While St. Bernard in the 12th Century taught that the Woman Clothed with the Sun was Mary, most commentators and Church Fathers before him tended to apply this scripture passage to the Church.

By the 1600s however, Marian paintings began to appear in Western art, especially Spanish art, depicting Mary, the Immaculate Conception, standing in front of the sun, standing on the crescent moon, with 12 stars around her head.

Still, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the Popes began to teach officially in encyclicals that the Woman Clothed with the Sun is the Virgin Mary.

St. Pius X, Ad diem illum. 1904: “Everyone knows that that woman signifies the Virgin Mary”

Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus. 1950: “We frequently find theologians and preachers who, following the footsteps of the Holy Fathers, use words and events from sacred Scripture with some freedom to explain their belief in the Assumption… . And furthermore, the Scholastic doctors have considered the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as signified not only in the various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun, whom the Apostle John contemplated on the island of Patmos.”

John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, March 15, 1987:  Mary is ” ‘the woman’ spoken of by the Book of Genesis (3:15) at the beginning (of salvation), and by the Apocalypse (12:1) at the end of the history of salvation.”

So the 1600s was when the Church began to reflect more deeply on Mary being the Woman Clothed with the Sun; and in the 20th century we see this reflection become part of the official Magisterial teaching and Liturgy of the Church.

I thought that in this talk I would try answer the question of why this Scripture passage has come to the forefront when it did.  Everything in our faith happens for a reason, and certainly this image of Mary Clothed with the Sun must hold some importance for our Church today.

And in reflecting on the matter, it seems as if the emphasis on Mary as the Woman in Revelation is a result of the Church’s reflection on two of the most famous Marian apparitions, namely Our Lady of Guadelupe in 1531 and Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.

In both of these apparitions, the Sun plays a major role.  One could even argue that in both apparitions, Mary appeared as a Woman Clothed with the Sun.  And in the wake of both of these Marian apparitions, a Marian Spirit descended upon the Church which set the faith ablaze and led to an outpouring of missionary fervor in the Church.

So let’s take a look at these two Marian apparitions and the impact they had on the spread of the faith.

First of all, the apparition of Our Lady of Guadelupe, who began to appear to St. Juan Diego on Dec. 9 (now the Feast Day of Juan Diego) and then miraculously left her image on his Tilma, a poncho-like garment, on Dec. 12th (now the Feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe).

As I mentioned, the apparition took place in the year 1531.  It’s rather interesting that this was 39 years after the Catholic Faith came to the Americas.

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.  (And prophetically, his fleet as everyone knows consisted of the Nina (the young maiden), the Pinta (the Spanish word for painting is pintar) and the Santa Maria (St. Mary) — his very ships prophecied the coming of Our Lady of Guadelupe, the painting of St. Mary as a young maiden).  And 39 years later, Our Lady appears to Juan Diego carrying her Son Jesus in her Immaculate womb.  Which of course would mean she would “give birth” to Jesus some time during the year 1532, 40 years after Columbus’ arrival.

40 years is a very significant span of time in the Scriptures.  In the OT Book of Exodus, after being delivered from slavery in Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before they finally entered into the promised land.

Because of their faithlessness and putting of God to the test in the wilderness, God found Moses and his generation to be unworthy of entering the promised land.  Out of all the adults who were delivered from Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to cross the Jordan and enter the promised land along with the children of those Israelites delivered from Egypt.  Even Moses had to die across the Jordan because of his lack of trust in God.

The Church sees this passage as a sign of the incompleteness of the Old Covenant and the Law of Moses.  The law of Moses can bring one to the borders of the promised land, but it doesn’t have the power to bring one to th promised land of Heaven.  To enter the promised land, Jeshua, Jesus, must lead the way.

There’s a famous passage in the Psalms that the priests pray every day in the Divine Office — Today if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts as your Fathers did in the wilderness. . . . 40 years I endured that generation; I said they are a people whose hearts go astray and do not know my ways, so I swore in my anger they shall not enter into my rest.

Whether or not God was angry at the first generation of Catholic Missionaries or settlers, I’m not sure.  But it was 40 years after 1492, in 1532, when in the wake of the apparition of OLG that the faith began to spread like wildfire.

As a little aside, it’s rather noteworthy that the 40th anniversary of the close of the 2nd Vatican Council was three years ago, on Dec. 8, 2005.  One could argue that in the past three years, we have finally started to make some concrete headway in implementing the true reforms called for by the true Spirit of Vatican II, such as reverent and authentic translations of the vernacular liturgy, Bishops exercising their teaching authority (especially seen in the many great statements against abortion this past election), and orthodox catechesis thanks to the Catechism and the Compendium.

This past July 25, we also observed another 40th, Humanae Vitae, on right use of the gift of sexuality and regulation of births, and affirming the 2000 year old teaching on the immorality of artificial contraception.  Over the past 40 years God has endured a generation of Catholics who have dissented from the Church’s teaching.  I find it interesting that just months after the 40th ann. Of HV, the United States and Europe plunged into an economic meltdown of catastrophic proportions.  I think we better wake up people and turn back to God.

But back to Our Lady of Guadelupe.  In Mexico in the early 1500s, the predominant culture was the Aztecs.  The Aztecs were quite an advanced civilization in many ways.   They had barber shops, they took baths 3 times a day (in contrast to the Spanish who hardly ever bathed and smelt like it also), and they had an religion who’s priest’s were celibate like ours is.  Only while we offer the sacrifice of Bread and Wine to the true God, which we celibate priests by virtue of Holy Orders transform into the Body and Blood of Christ, the representation of the One Sacrifice Christ offered for us on Good Friday, the Aztecs offered human sacrifice to their false god.

I tell kids in my Catholic School, just as on High Feast Days, we offer a lot of Bread to God, maybe 1000′s of hosts are consecrated and offered to Him, so on the Aztec high feasts, they offered thousands of human slaves in sacrifice, the priests ripping out the persons heart in a manner of seconds.

Two of the main gods in the Aztec religion were Quetzelcoatl, the Serpent, and  Tonatiuh (Tone-ah-tee-oo), who was the Sun.  They believed that the sun would stop moving if they stopped feeding it with human sacrifices.  On high feast days, such as the dedication of a new temple, as many as 25,000 humans were sacrificed.

But in September 1531, a solar eclipse took place, as if to say that one was to come who would eclipse the Sun god of the Aztecs, who would convert them from their pagan S-U-N worship and turn them to worship of the true Son of the Father, Jesus Christ.

(Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto — he must have had in mind OLG story when he made it.  In the movie there’s Aztecs offering human sacrifices to the Sun,  there’s a solar eclipse which stops them from sacrificing, there’s things painted turquoise,  color of OLG’s overgarment, and there’s a pregnant woman whose the heroinne.  And it’s called for no apparent reason “Apocalypto” — the Apocalypse, which is the Greek word for Revelation.  And it was released on December 8.)

After this miraculous appearance of Mary on the timla of St. Juan Diego, the Catholic faith almost overnight toppled the false Aztec religion and stopped  the large scale human sacrifices.  My seminary Church History teacher, Fr. Ledoux, was one of the most rationalistic Church Historians I’ve met.  I asked him if he had a rational explanation for the spread of the faith in Central and South America and he said “There is none, it’s purely the miraculous work of our Lady of Guadelupe”

Truly the Virgin of Guadelupe is the Woman clothed with the Sun, as the image shows her standing before the sun (although supposedly these rays were painted on to the original image afterwards).

Our Lady of Guadelupe also had a hand not only in spreading the faith, but in defending the faith from the radical Islamic invasion of Europe during the 16th Century.  At the decisive Battle of Lepanto, the Captain of the Spanish Fleet, Andrea Doria, had a copy of the miraculous image commissioned by Pope St. Pius V in the captains quarters during the battle on October 7, 1571.  Pius V declared that Mary’s prayers won the battle, in which the Christians were vastly outnumbered.

This image of Mary, Clothed with the Sun has caused the faith to shine brightly on both sides of the Atlantic these past 5 centuries.  But at the beginning of this past century, the 20th cent., Our Blessed Mother realized that her children were going to need her aid in an even graver way.

Pope Leo XIII is reported to have had a vision in 1884 (according to some sources, it was on October 13, but I can’t confirm the truth of this) in which he saw that the coming 20th Century was to be the century of Satan, where he would unleash the most terrible evils upon the Church.  In reaction Pope Leo XIII is said to have mandated the Prayer of St. Michael to be said after Low Mass, which continued until Pope John XXIII made them optional in 1962.

It wasn’t long into the 20th Century before WWI broke out in 1914.  Then in April of 1917, Vladimir Lenin arrived in Petrograd Russia, the streets filled with communists cheering him on.  He concluded his short speech with the flaming words: “Long live the socialist revolution!”  On November 7, 1917, the Communist Revolution had triumphed in Russia.

So Lenin came to Russia in April of 1917, Mary came to Fatima the following month, in May of 1917, realizing that the Prayer to St. Michael after Low Mass wasn’t going to be enough.  In October of 1917, the Miracle of the Sun occurred at Fatima, and the following Month, November 1917, the Communist Revolution broke out.

The century of Satan was also going to turn out to be the century of Mary, the New Eve who crushes the head of Satan.

Now, I’m assuming you all know of the Miracle of the Sun which took place at Fatima on October 13, 1917.  As thousands of people in that muddy, rain drenched field in the Cova de Ivra testified to later, the sun broke through the clouds, appeared to dance around in the sky, and then began to get bigger and bigger, as it appeared to be crashing down upon the thousands of people gathered there.

Many began screaming out their sins, thinking the world was coming to an end.  Suddenly, it was all over; the sky was clear and blue, the noon day sun shone high up in the sky, and the ground and everyone’s clothes were dry and clean as if it had never poured down rain for the past 3 hours.

We all know of the day the sun fell from the sky at Fatima on October 13, 1917.  But was it just the sun that fell from the sky?  Or was it the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Was this great sign that appeared in the sky at Fatima the Virgin Mary coming down to earth, to impart on the Church of the 20th century a double portion of her spirit to do battle with Satan?

Just a few days after the Miracle at Fatima, on October 16, 1917, hundreds of miles away in Rome, a Polish Franciscan seminarian named Maximilian Kolbe began the Militia of the Immaculata with 6 other Franciscan seminarians.

The Militia has grown to a worldwide movement of millions of faithful, and through this order Maximilian Kolbe became the most successful missionary to Japan in Church History, publishing a very successful Catholic newspaper in the Japanese language and founding a monastery of Friars that continues to this day.

It was also in 1917 that an Irish lay man named Frank Duff read for the first time the writings of St. Louis de Montfort on True Devotion to Mary.  Four years later, on September 7, 1921, Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary, now the biggest lay movement in the Church, with 3 million active members and over 10 million auxiliary members in every country.

The Legion of Mary is a powerhouse for the Catholic Faith.  Thousands of parish based praesida throughout the Church carry out apostolic works, first and foremost being door to door visitation to bring back lapsed Catholics and make new converts to the Church.

One could mention other Marian movements in the 20th Century that perhaps were a result of the outpouring of graces at Fatima.  But probably the greatest grace which the Woman Clothed with the Sun at Fatima gave the Church was our late great Holy Father Pope John Paul II.

The Pope who brought down communism in Eastern Europe; the Pope who brought back devotion to Mary and the Holy Rosary when liberals in the Church were trying to abolish these things;

The Pope who affirmed the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, and all the other infallible moral and doctrinal truths of our holy Faith;

The Pope whose motto was Totus Tuus — I am totally yours, O Virgin Mary; and whose coat of arms was simply a Cross with the letter M (for Mary) under the Cross beam;

The Missionary Pope who traveled unceasingly to any country who would have him to spread the Catholic Faith;

This great Pope wouldn’t have done any of these things had not Our Lady of Fatima saved his life from an assassins bullet on May 13, 1981 — the anniversary of the first apparition of Mary at Fatima.

And so in conclusion, I think this is why the Church in her liturgy and in her papal teaching these past 100 years has emphasized Mary as being the Woman Clothed with the Sun.  For her presence, wherever she is found, whether at Fatima, at Guadelupe, or in that statue or icon or painting hanging in a Church or in a home, makes Christ and the Catholic Faith shine out the brightest.

May Mary clothe us with the radiance of Her Son Jesus, that we might bring the Faith in all it’s brightness to all those we come in contact with.

Homily — 1st Sunday Advent B Nov. 30, 2008

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Homily — 1st Sunday Advent B                Nov. 30, 2008

In this rather short Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent, Our Lord Jesus says the following:

 Be watchful!

Be on the watch.

Watch, therefore.

What I say to you, I say to all:  “Watch!”

The lesson Jesus is trying to convey to us is that we need to “Watch, watch, watch, and watch.”

Now, in our modern world, we watch a movie or a patriots game.  We wear a watch around our wrist.    But these are not what Jesus means when He tells us to watch.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives 3 other definitions of the Verb “watch” which get at what Jesus is speaking about:

1.to . . . .stay awake intentionally, or to keep vigil

2.to be on the lookout for danger

3.to lie in wait for, so as to take advantage of

All these are what Jesus means when He tells us to “watch”

First, we are to keep ourselves from falling asleep.  Jesus isn’t referring to physical sleep; Jesus actually would want us to get more sleep than we do and stop losing sleep over all these things we worry about.  And as the proverb goes, “A good night’s sleep is the sign of a clean conscience.”  Jesus would also want us to not have guilt keep us awake at night.

Jesus rather wants us to be Spiritually Awake, and Morally Awake.  In this world we live in, it is all too easy to grow tired of trying to do good.  We can grow tired of trying to follow Jesus, we can be tempted to want to rest and take it easy like all the pagans we live around.   But Jesus says to us “Watch!”  Stay awake intentionally, rouse yourself, for you do not want to be asleep when I come again.  Advent is a time to rouse ourselves spiritually in preparation for Jesus’ coming at Christmas and on Judgment Day.

Secondly, “to watch” means to be on the lookout for Danger.  We are called by Jesus to be on the watch for things in this world that can wound or destroy our relationship to Jesus, namely sin.  And so Advent is a time to watch how we’ve been behaving lately, and to repent of our sins by making a good confession in preparation for Christmas.  The one thing Jesus wants for Christmas is for us to give our sins to Him in the confessional.  And this Advent we’ll have lots of opportunity to get to confession; which I’ll tell you about in a minute.

Lastly, to watch means to lie in wait for, so as to take advantage of (For example, Christmas shoppers are “watching” for sales in the newspaper these days).  Advent is a time to “lie in wait” for Jesus to come near us, to be “on the watch” for opportunities to grow in Faith Hope and Love.

And this Season of Advent holds many opportunities to grow closer to Jesus and to serve our neighbor, especially here at our parish.

So, here are some things we can do to rouse ourselves this Advent:

First:  We have at the doors of the Church these two little Advent Prayer Books:  Magnificat and the Word Among Us.  (we also give the daily Mass readings each week in the parish bulletin.  In Advent, the Readings for Daily Mass are very inspiring.)

Second: We’re having a Parish Mission this Advent, a week from Monday, Dec. 8 to Thursday, Dec. 11 every night at 7 p.m. in the Church.  We’ve cancelled Mon. evening CCD, girl scouts, Thurs. Legion of Mary, we even cancelled Bingo Tues night December 9, so that everyone can get an opportunity to attend the Mission and draw close to Jesus during these troubled times.

Preaching the mission will be three priests from a the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance, from the Boston Archdiocese.  Four brothers in the order who are studying for the priesthood will also be here.  I’ll be housing seven of them next week.

These Franciscan Friars try to live just like St. Francis of Assisi lived, in total poverty, relying totally on God’s Providence for everything.  They don’t own cars, TVs, computers or phones.

And get this:  they will be coming to our parish from Boston, about 60 miles away, on foot.   It should be a very good mission, try to attend all or some of it, starting next Monday night, Dec. 8 to Thursday Dec. 11.

And each Day of the Mission,  the Friars will be in the confessional All Day from 8 a.m. in the morning to 7 pm in the evening, and they’ll go back in the confessional after the Evening Mission Mass and Talk, so that everyone will be able to have an opportunity to get to confession.

And we are going to set it up like the All Day Confessions, with Big Signs on where to sit, soothing music in the background, literature on How to Go to Confession.  So take advantage of this golden opportunity to give Jesus the gift of making a good confession before Christmas.

We’ll also be having another Traditional Latin High Mass on Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, which if you’ve never been to one I would highly recommend you go.  A Sixth Grader who went to last month’s Mass for the first time said afterward “That was so cool — I was scared to go up to communion!”  Experience the Awesomeness of God as that sixth grader did by attending the Traditional Mass this Advent.

Finally, there’s also a lot of opportunities at our parish this Advent to show charity to our neighbor in preparation for Christ’s coming.   Next Sunday we’ll have our annual Blood Drive in the Fr. Blain Hall, we again have our giving Tree up in the back of the Church this weekend and next weekend, and we’re asking parishioners to bring in new clothing for infants, children, pre-teens and teens who are in need; The School is collection used clothing, and the Bishop is collecting donations to help Keep the Heat on in poor and low income families homes.

So as we begin this grace filled season of Advent, may we rouse ourselves to Watch, Watch, Watch, Watch for the coming of Christ into our hearts this Christmas, in preparation for His coming in Glory at the end of our lives.