Our Advent Season continues as we strive to remain watchful and alert as we prepare for the coming of the Lord. This past week we sponsored our Advent Parish Mission and it was pleasing to see so many of our parishioners and friends in attendance. The focus by our presenter, Fr. Francis Reque, on Saint Joseph, and his important role in bringing about the gift of the Christ Child that awaits us, helped many to more fully embrace the true spirit of Advent.
This spirit continues as we honor our Mother Mary in special ways this month. This Monday we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception and affirm our belief that Mary was blessed among women and was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception. Pope Francis, reflecting on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, stated, “Today, we look at the beauty of Our Lady, who was born and lived without sin, always docile and transparent with God. This does not mean that life was easy for her.” He encouraged Catholics to imitate Mary’s deep trust and openness to God as they encounter the difficulties and challenges of everyday life.
We again honor Mary our Mother this coming Thursday when we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is the patroness of the United States, Mexico and all of the Americas, as well as the protector of the unborn. As mentioned in the past, she is a religious as well as a cultural figure to the people of Mexico. In 1531, she appeared in a vision to a humble peasant farmer named Juan Diego near Mexico City. The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe helped generate the conversion of Mexico and Latin America to Catholicism. Her feast is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm throughout the Americas. Pope Francis, reflecting on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, stated, “…like Juan Diego, we know that here is our Mother. We know that we are under her shadow and protection, which is the source of joy, and that we are in the cross of her arms.”
As we focus on these two great feasts of Mary, we are encouraged to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the Season of Advent. Please be aware that we will have additional priests at appropriate times to assist us during the Season. The Sacrament is here to heal us spiritually and get us closer to the Lord who loves us. Please check the parish bulletin or the parish website for the times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Our Church leaders invite us to maintain a strong spiritual focus during our Advent journey. We are challenged through prayer and works of charity and the Sacrament of Reconciliation to truly prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ Child.