Our Advent journey continues as we strive to remain watchful and alert as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Lord. This past week we conducted our Advent Mission, and it was well-received as Fr. Paul Dressler helped us to focus on joy during Advent as we strive to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 virus.
During Advent we continue to honor our Mother Mary in special ways. This Tuesday, December 8th, we honor Mary as 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 that Mary, conceived without sin, reflects “the beauty of God who is all love, grace and self-giving.” He also stated that Mary reminds us that “yes, we are sinners, but we are no longer slaves to sin.” Pope Francis prayed that the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception would “help us make our whole lives a ‘yes’ to God, a ‘yes’ comprised of Adoration of Him and daily gestures of love and service.”
Nest Saturday, December 12th, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as we once again honor Mary, our Mother. She is the patroness of the United States, Mexico and all of the Americas, as well as the protector of the unborn. 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 reminded us that like Juan Diego, “we are under her shadow and protection, which is the source of joy.”
As we focus on these two great feasts of our Church and on the words of Our Holy Father, please be aware that we will have additional opportunities during this season of Advent to avail ourselves of the great Sacrament of Reconciliation. 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 additional times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
During this great season of Advent, my hope is that through our devotion to Mary, through our prayers and spiritual reflections, through our acts of charity, and through the healing provided by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we will truly be spiritually prepared as we wait in joyful anticipation for the coming of the Christ Child.