I want to thank all those who took tags from the Giving Tree and purchased gifts for poor children. My thanks extend also to those who took tags for senior citizens and those who made cash donations. Your generosity helps many local families! It also gives evidence of your faith in Jesus – Whom God generously sent to save us from our sins and lead us to Heaven!
After today's 1PM (Spanish) Mass there will be a special celebration in Mercy Hall. It is in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is December 12. There will be food, music, and lots of fun. Everyone is welcome to join the fun in honor of our Blessed Mother. For those who wish, Fr. Leo will celebrate a special Mass in Spanish on Wednesday, December 12, at 7PM.
For those who don't mind driving a bit, our bishop will lead a special Evening Prayer Service at 7:30PM at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral in Metuchen that same evening. He will be kicking off a year long process of prayer which will culminate in the dedication of our whole diocese to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our own parish will host various activities as this year unfolds, including an opportunity for each of us to personally consecrate ourselves to Our Lady of Guadalupe (We will make that our parish Lenten project!).
Like today – the Church was going through a rough time in 1534. The sins of too many clergy and religious had sparked the Reformation, which divides Christianity to this day. In South America, the cruelty of many conquistadors was making it impossible for the dedicated missionaries to preach among the native population.
Then Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego – one of the few Aztec converts to the Faith. Several miracles convinced the doubtful that Our Blessed Mother really had appeared. The end result was that the missionaries were re-energized and millions – literally millions – of natives were converted over the next several years! You can learn more about her story on FORMED – which can be accessed through the parish website.
As Christmas gets closer, please be sure to think about which Christmas Mass you will attend. Remember that the 4 PM Mass on Christmas Eve – preceded by a Children's Nativity Pageant – gets pretty crowded. The other Masses are much less crowded – making it much easier to find a parking space and a seat!
My favorite Christmas Mass is the Solemn Midnight Mass. I encourage everyone who can to attend this beautiful Mass. The choir will start singing about 11:30 PM, and Mass will begin promptly at 12 midnight (yes – we have a real midnight Mass that really starts at midnight in our parish!!). For those who are wondering, Midnight Mass lasts just under an hour in our church. It is an inspiring and beautiful way to celebrate the birth of Christ – and I hope to see many of you there.
Remember to make a good Confession this Advent. Examinations' of Conscience have been inserted in this bulletin to help you identify any sins you may want to bring to Confession. There will be a Penance Service with 10 priests to help hear Confessions on Monday, December 17 at 7 PM. I hope that many people will take advantage of this opportunity to experience God's mercy and grace that evening.
Please remember to say a Hail Mary for me each day – and be assured of my prayers for you. Let's also be sure to pray that many more people will open their hearts to Jesus, the Prince of Peace – and so bring His peace to our troubled world.
Have a great week!