Fr. Joe's Letter

Fr. Joe’s Letter

Dec 11, 2023

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, and the halfway point of the Advent Season. The word of God today reminds us to rejoice in the Lord always. As we look forward to His coming again, we rejoice because He came among us as a man over 2,000 years ago and He is still with us. Today, His presence can be somewhat hidden because of all the distractions in our world and in our lives. Through prayer and the sacraments, we can see Him more clearly if we take the time to look with our eyes and our hearts. The more we are aware of His first coming, which we celebrate at Christmas, the better we will be prepared to welcome Him when He comes again. The days of Advent are growing shorter, but there is still time to make this a truly holy season by preparing our hearts for the Lord Jesus to enter.

There are still many opportunities to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week.  Please check the bulletin for dates and times. You may also want to go to Mass an extra time during the week or spend some time in the Chapel of Divine Mercy. You can also call your family to prayer at home by saying the family Rosary. You can start by just saying it once a week and then gradually add an extra day from time to time until you are saying the Rosary each day as a family. A family could not spend fifteen minutes of time in a better way than by praying the Rosary.

As we draw closer and closer to celebrating the Birth of Jesus, we should try to be more and more mindful of the presence of Jesus among us.  Sometimes this is very difficult because there are so many distractions around us, especially during this time of the year.  We tend to take on so many extra activities, but how many of these extra activities center on our prayer life and our relationship with Jesus.  We should make every effort to include Jesus in all our Christmas gatherings and celebrations, after all it is His Birthday that we are celebrating.

The sacrifice of the Mass should always be front and center in our plans for our Christmas celebration.  Going to Mass should not just be one activity among many, but it should be at the heart of all that we do.  We should be careful that Mass does not become something that we have to get through so we can do all the other things on our schedules.  Christmas is also a good time to invite family and friends who may not come to Mass any more to come and worship with you, but don’t let it end there, keep inviting them for the Sundays after Christmas too.

Our gatherings at Christmas with family and friends should center on Jesus and ways that we can help one another remember the reason for this season especially our children.  Maybe it would be good to focus a little more on Jesus in our gatherings and a little less on what we are going to eat and drink or how we are going to decorate.  This all takes a lot of effort and at the same time is difficult because it is so countercultural.  It is really difficult when we do it for the first time, but by establishing new and better traditions where Jesus is really at the heart of what we do and who we are we teach ourselves and others some valuable lessons.  The world and our culture needs to be more reminded of what Christmas is really all about and not in just a subtle or superficial way.  We could stand to make it a lot more obvious.

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing because this is what God has done for us and so we seek to imitate Him.  This year we may not be able to give our loved ones all the material things that we were able to give in the past, but we can give them the gift of God’s love through our kindness, patience, and compassion.  Please do not forget to give some of your blessings back to God as you make a gift to your parish community so that the work of spreading God’s love may continue through all that we do in His Name to carry on the work of salvation.  Your Christmas gift to your parish community will be greatly appreciated by many people and God will surely bless you and your loved ones for your generosity and your sacrifice.

Fr. Joe Labak