Blessed Gaudete Sunday!
This Sunday we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete literally means “Joy” It’s a Sunday of hope, as we walk through this Advent together. This week, as we come to December 17th, the tone of Advent will change. During all of Advent, we prepare for the coming of the one true king. During the first part of Advent, we’re focused on the reality that Jesus will come again in glory someday. We’re focused on preparing ourselves for that day, so that we’re ready when he comes again on that last day. Then, on the 17th, things change a bit, we move out of that long-term preparation, and into what we normally think about in our preparations for Christmas, preparing to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world those 2,000 years ago. Beginning the 17th, at daily mass, the entrance antiphons change, we begin the “O Antiphons” ancient names for Christ that we hear most commonly in the song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. Names like “O Wisdom of God most high”, “O Root of Jesse’s Stem”, and “O Key of David”. As we hear those, it’s a reminder to us that Christmas is quickly approaching, that the Lord is on his way.
This Saturday, we also celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. It’s an amazing story, of a native Aztec man, Juan Diego. He was one of the few converts to the Catholic faith in the early days. Yet, one day, as he was walking, a beautiful woman appeared to him. She asked him to build a Church in her honor. When he told the Bishop his request, the Bishop didn’t believe him and sent him back. The woman asked him to gather roses in his tilma and show them to the Bishop. When he did, they found that on the tilma was an image of the Blessed Mother. The symbols in that image, quickly convinced nearly the entire Aztec nation to convert to Catholicism, so that even today the vast majority of Central and South America is Catholic. That same tilma is still visible at Our Lady of Guadeloupe shrine in Mexico City. It wasn’t words that convinced the people, but the faith of one man, that God took and multiplied. Whenever we’re worried about where the world is going, the single most important thing we can do, is pray and work to become the sort of Christian that God wants us to be, to work on honestly asking God’s help and working toward becoming a saint. He’s capable of taking that and doing miracles with us too!
This week in our parish, we’ve got some exciting things starting to happen. First of all, we’ll be beginning our evening Confessions this week which will be available on the 16th, 17th, and 20th, at 7pm with an additional visiting priest each evening. Please join us as we get ready for the coming of our Lord.
We also had some exciting repairs happen this week. Our new heat pump for the church has finally been installed! Hopefully that should save us some electricity this winter, help the Church get up to temperature quicker, and help with the air conditioning in the summer. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our monthly collection. The money from our monthly collection goes toward major updates and repairs to our Church, like the new heat pump. This enables us to save up over time for those major purchases that sometimes have to be fixed at a moment’s notice.
On a smaller note, we just got a new storm door for the front door of the office. The old door had been a cheaper model and in one of the last windstorms, it hadn’t latched properly and the wind quite literally ripped it off it’s hinges! Please, if you stop by the office, on your way out, help us out by making sure that door closes tightly. I don’t want to lose another door to the wind!
I look forward to seeing all of you this week at one of our evening confession times! I’m very thankful as a priest for the opportunity to hear confessions. It’s so good to hear so many folks who while they struggle with their own temptations, really are dedicated to looking to the Lord for help to make changes in bad habits, to grow in their faith, and to work toward living the sort of life that Jesus calls us to live. Regular confession is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us. Imagine that no matter how far we may have strayed off the path, all we have to do is step into Church, confess our sins, and Jesus can pick us up, turn us around, and point us in the right direction! That one little action can mean the difference in where we will spend all of eternity. Let’s not ignore that amazing gift that Jesus has given us, let’s make use of it!
See you Wednesday, Thursday, or Sunday Night at 7pm!
Father Matthew Baum is the Parish Administrator at Prince of Peace Church in Northern Cambria, PA.