Homily — Mary Mother of God MMVIII 1-1-08

Homily — Mary Mother of God MMVIII        1-1-08

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Today we see our Blessed Mother reflecting on all that happened to her the past year.  Reflecting on her marriage to St. Joseph, on the Annunciation the Archangel Gabriel made to her that she would be the Mother of God.   Reflecting on the Holy Spirit’s overshadowing her, on her virginal conception, and how for nine months she carried in her womb the God Man.   Reflecting on her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, and on her surprise trip to Bethlehem with Joseph, and finally on the  miraculous Birth of her Son, Jesus, in the Manger at Bethlehem.

All these things, all these blessings of God over the past year, Mary kept and reflected upon in her heart.

We too should certainly take some time in prayer this New Year’s, reflecting on the many things God has done for us personally this past year — on the blessings and graces God has given us, even the trials God has permitted us to face.   May we keep these blessings and graces and ponder on them in our hearts as we begin 2008, knowing that the Lord has many more blessings in store for us this coming year.

We should also reflect not only on how God has blessed us individually, but on how God has blessed us as a Church community this past year — how God has blessed our parish, our diocese and our universal Church as a whole.

If we reflect on the past year at our parish, it was certainly a most eventful year.  Last March, Fr. Blain announced that he was retiring after 24 years of being pastor of St. Joseph’s.   Then, about a month later, it was announced that the Bishop had appointed me as your new pastor, effective July 1!

In August, Bishop Tobin visited our parish for the very first time, for my Mass of Installation as Pastor.

And in September, we were all pleasantly surprised by the arrival of Fr. Marcin, only 3 months ordained, as our new part time assistant pastor.

Our parish honored Fr. Blain with a Mass and dinner in October;

And finally, our parish this past year embarked upon it’s first major capital campaign since the renovation of the Church 13 years ago, and happily we made our $600,000 pledge goal in a matter of weeks.  May we keep all these blessings in our hearts.

On a diocesan level, the Providence Visitor became the Rhode Island Catholic, and Bishop Tobin could also be heard and seen very frequently on talk radio shows and TV News shows and Sunday newspapers, proclaiming the Gospel and teaching the faith “without a doubt” as he would say.

Our Bishop even made the national news because of a column he wrote in the Rhode Island Catholic criticizing a certain Catholic presidential candidate for his stand on abortion.   When the candidate was asked at a nationally televised debate to respond to Bishop Tobin’s criticism, lightning bolts kept silencing the microphone he was trying to talk into.

The Bishop told the national and local news media it was just a coincidence, but a few weeks later at a priest get together I was at, one of my confrère’s ask him “Bishop, can you really call lightning down from Heaven?”  and he said “Well, I’m tempted to try it on certain football teams!”

Finally, in the universal Church, probably the single biggest event this past year occurred, appropriately enough, on 7-7-7, July 7th, 2007, when our Holy Father Pope Benedict issued a document which lifted the restrictions on the celebration of the centuries-old Traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass.   The Pope did so in response to the growing number of Catholics, old and young, who are strongly attracted to the older form of Mass.

And as I mentioned in the bulletin back in September, I plan by the end of this year to offer the Traditional Latin Mass here at St. Joseph’s, at a time separate from the normally scheduled Masses, for those parishioners who have expressed to me an interest in having it, and for anyone else who wishes to attend.

I’m now currently in the process of training some altar servers to serve the Mass.  I’ve already bought my biretta, the black felt hat with the pom pom on top, which I’m ready to put on and “Go to the Altar of God” with!

And so there are some of the major events that happened in our Holy Catholic Church this past year.  Certainly in countless other ways, God has blessed and guided us in 2007.

As we begin this New Year of Grace, let us entrust ourselves and our families and our Church to our Bl Mother.   May she hold us all in her maternal heart throughout this year, and help us to reflect upon and keep all the great things her Son Jesus has done for us, and be open to all the great things He will continue to do his disciples.

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