I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I had to write this about a week before Christmas, so I can't tell you how mine went! Instead, I'll tell you a little bit about the Christmas Season.
As Catholics, we believe that some things are so wonderful that it takes a lot more than a day to celebrate them. Christmas is certainly one of those things! That's why, as Catholics, we celebrate Christmas for a season which began at Mass on Christmas Eve and will continue through the Feast of the Lord's Baptism on the Sunday after Epiphany (January 13). While the rest of the world – especially department stores – start taking down decorations the day after Christmas, we continue celebrating the birth of our Lord for nearly three weeks! Keeping your trees up and homes decorated is one way to celebrate this season of joy.READ MORE
I want to begin by thanking all those who took tags and brought gifts for the Giving Tree. Your generosity provided gifts for some 200 children – and many elderly parishioners, too. It is a testimony to your charity and faith!
Thanks also to the Boy Scouts, who kept moving the gifts to Mercy Hall for safekeeping all weekend. Their efforts ensured that the many gifts did not start blocking the aisles and become a hazard! It is also an example of how many groups and people work together to make good things happen here at St. Philip and St. James!
Last Friday I had a great time at our Parish School's Nativity Pageant. The students told the story of Christ's birth – with lots of beautiful singing. They also acted out scenes like the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, and Epiphany – to name a few. It was a wonderful, joy-filled telling of the holy story of Christmas! Thanks to all who were involved!READ MORE
Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. In the "old" days, this Sunday was called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete basically means "be happy" or "rejoice". On the surface, we are rejoicing because Christmas is almost here.
On a deeper level, we are rejoicing because Jesus – Who came as our Savior long ago – is coming again to bring us to the fullness of His Kingdom. In spite of all the troubles in our world, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ and His Eternal Kingdom of Peace and Justice.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
I hope your Thanksgiving was as nice as mine. My sister had a really big crowd of family and friends, and it was a lot of fun. I was able to visit with some relatives I don't get to see very often, which was really very nice. The meal was great – of course – and my mom was happy to have so many of us there.
Today we begin the holy season of Advent. While it's easy to think of Advent as a time to prepare for Christmas, it's really much more than that. The word Advent means "coming" – and Advent is indeed a time to get ready for the coming of Christ.READ MORE
Bulletin deadlines caused me to have to write these words before Thanksgiving – so I cannot yet tell you about mine. I certainly hope that your own was great! I do want to say a special thank you to all those who supported the Thanksgiving Food for the Needy Drive that provided hundreds of dinners for poor families. Whether you donated food, wrote a check, spent time packing, or helped out in some other way – thanks for celebrating this Thanksgiving with a spirit of charity and compassion!
Today, Catholics around the world are celebrating the Solemn Feast of Jesus Christ, the King. It is a day to consider the place that Jesus has in our lives. While we often think of Jesus as our Savior and Lord, today's feast reminds us that He is also our King. The Bible calls Jesus the "King of Kings". This means that everyone, including the "kings" of this world, are ultimately accountable to Him. As we say in the Creed – Sunday after Sunday – "His Kingdom will have no end."READ MORE
Last week the Church observed the Feast of St. Leo the Great – who was pope between 440 and 461 AD. While he lived a long time ago, his influence on the Church continues right down to our own day. Indeed, he was called "the Great" because of the influence of his homilies and writings, especially about the true nature of Christ.
The Mass is one area where Pope St. Leo's influence touches us quite regularly. He did a number of things to promote the use of good music at Mass, and decreed the singing of the Gloria – which until then was only used at Christmas – at all Sunday Masses except during Advent and Lent. Pope St. Leo did these things to ensure a degree of solemnity at Mass.READ MORE
I'd like to start my words today by wishing a very Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans of our parish. We owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude and appreciate the sacrifices you made for our nation. I assure you of my prayers today and each and every day. In our troubled world, I find that I appreciate our veterans more and more. Perhaps you do, too. My experience with veterans over the years is that they tend to be level-headed and ready to help at a moment's notice. I see this in many of the veterans I know in our own parish. For this also I want to thank these fine men and women.READ MORE
"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt 4:19). Whenever I hear those words, it takes me back to the days when I realized God was calling me to the priesthood. I was only a boy – maybe 8 years old – the first time the idea came to me. When I told other people – I think they mostly thought it was a cute idea that would fade over time. To be honest, as time went on, other ideas came to my head. But the priesthood was the only one that kept coming back. By age 14, I was convinced that was what God wanted me to do. Looking back, I can say that God was very persistent.
This week is National Vocation Awareness Week. It's a time to make a special effort to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It's also a time to think about what we can do to encourage young people to think about whether God might be calling them – and to say yes if He is!READ MORE
I read a few years ago that – much to my surprise – Halloween has become the second largest commercial holiday in our society. In other words, people spend more on Halloween than they do on any day other than Christmas! Driving around town and seeing all the ghosts and other decorations, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Halloween today is a far cry from the days when kids of my generation dressed up like baseball players and clowns!
What many people do not know is that Halloween has its roots in our Christian history. As you know, All Saints Day is November 1. At certain times in history, it was customary for Christians to "dress up" as their patron or favorite saints on the eve of All Saints Day – called All Hallows (saints) Eve. From this came the custom of dressing up for Halloween.READ MORE
I had a nice time at last Sunday's Roast Beef Dinner at our parish school. The Knights, Columbiettes, and all their helpers are to be commended for a job well done. I had both lunch and dinner there – and enjoyed both meals! Even better was the time spent with so many good people that day.
As I was looking ahead in my envelope packet, I noticed that it's time to complete our All Souls Envelopes. That being the case, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time explaining why we do that.
St. Monica was a woman of great faith who lived in the 300's. During her final illness, her sons asked if she wanted them to send her body back to her native land for burial. Her answer to them was classic: "Bury this old body anywhere. Don't trouble yourself over it. I simply ask you to remember me at the Lord's Altar wherever you are."READ MORE
I had a great time at my seminary reunion a couple of weeks ago. Not only was it nice to see old friends, it was even nicer to be at the place where my priestly vocation matured in so many ways. I made a point of praying for all of you both at the Tomb of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the National Grotto of Lourdes (a beautiful place of prayer on the mountain behind the seminary). To those of you who gave me special intentions – please know that I made a point of reading each one and mentioning it in my prayers.READ MORE
The Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi will take place today (Sunday) at 12:15 PM. Everyone is welcome to bring their pets (or other animals) to the parking lot next to Mercy Hall for the blessing. As Catholics, we ask God's blessing upon our animals as a way of thanking Him for them, acknowledging the special role they play in creation, and asking Him to protect them. I always enjoy seeing people and their pets at this brief ceremony.READ MORE