I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It’s hard to believe that November has been breezing past us. Christmas will be here before we know it! Today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent! Today we begin to make preparations for the coming of our savior at Christmas.
I think as we’ve walked through this pandemic for most of 2020, we’ve all become a little more aware of our own mortality. As we walked through the lockdown and all of the restrictions in our world, it’s easy for tensions to run high and for our patience to be tested. In short, it’s easy for us to see our own human weakness and temptations when we’re in the midst of something like this. At the same time, if we’re paying attention, that should also clue us in on just how much we all need a savior. The good news is that we not only have one, but he’s on his way. That’s the sense I’d like all of us to really reflect on this advent season. There’s so many ways to think of Advent, but this year, with all that the world has been through, can we recognize that we not only need a savior, but we have one, one that we can turn to when we’re in trouble, one that can actually help us. He’s given us his word and Sacred Tradition to instruct us, the sacraments to strengthen us on the way, and the Holy Spirit to empower us. As we walk through advent, I’d encourage you to take advantage of a program offered through FORMED that we subscribe to called “The Road to Bethlehem”. To sign up, go to their website https://advent.augustineinstitute.org/. You’ll receive a daily reflection in email, a weekly video and action item to help put advent into practice.
G.K. Chesterton once said that the Catholic Faith has not been tried and found wanting, but has been found difficult and left untried. Let’s together, this Advent, work to really dive into our faith. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this year, especially during the shutdown, it’s that while it’s easy to use to use the excuse that “I’d pray more if I had more time” when we suddenly were stuck at home with all kinds of time….did we pray more? If not, it’s ok...but why not start now? I know for myself, I’ve found that when it would be easy to put on music in the car, or when I’m working out, I find that after putting on one of those FORMED talks, really listening to something about the faith, I walk away with a deeper sense of my relationship with God. I’d challenge you to do the same this Advent!
In parish news, please make sure to stop by our Basket Party this weekend, during the week, or next weekend. We have 111 amazing baskets, many of which would make great Christmas presents.
We’ve also settled on our Christmas Schedule. I had wanted to leave the decision to parish council, but unfortunately, I had to get the schedule out this weekend before we could organize a meeting. Especially with the holy day coming up, I needed to make sure we got everything out there. Please take a look at the schedule that will be in the bulletin from now until Christmas.
Due to COVID, Advent Confessions this year will be a little different than previous years. Rather than have a single penance service with a lot of people and 6-7 priests, each church in our area will have 2-3 nights of confession with 1-2 visiting priests each night. Here at Prince of Peace, we’re going to have 3 nights of confession, December 16th, 17th, and 20th, each at 7pm. Each night will have myself and a different visiting priest. Once we work out the schedule, I’ll let you know who’s coming each night. Please take advantage of these opportunities for the sacrament!
This year, our Bishop has allowed us to celebrate an earlier Christmas Eve Mass than normal. Since our 4pm is usually the most crowded, we’ve decided to take advantage of that. Our Christmas Eve masses this year will be 2pm at the Chapel, 4pm at the Church, 6pm at the Church, and 9pm at the Church. Christmas Day will be 9am. Our Choir will sing for the 9pm Christmas Eve Mass. Sadly, we cannot do a children’s pageant this year. Our hope is that the large crowd who normally come for the 4pm Christmas Eve Mass will divide themselves between the 2pm and the 4pm. The 4pm and the 9pm Masses will be Livestreamed. Click here to see the full schedule.
I know everyone wants to come to Church for Christmas, so I ask that we work together to make sure that everyone can attend, and that we can do our best to keep everyone safe.
May God bless you now and always,
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.