January 14, 2018
We made it through Bombogenesis or bomb cyclone or whatever nasty storm that was last Thursday followed by the arctic blast. It is January; I just hope the first week is not a predictor for the remainder of the month. I have learned from the past couple of winters with you February and March and be just as “exciting.”
Speaking of exciting, quite a few of our younger parishioners were excited last weekend. First graders carried on a decades-long tradition of staging the Christmas/Epiphany pageant during the 8:30 a.m. Mass. Second graders scoped out the confessionals in church looking forward to their first of many opportunities to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Saturday, January 27th. Tenth graders attended their Confirmation retreat anticipating becoming fully initiated Catholics when they receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on Sunday, April 8th. Fr. Jim commented to me that when he visited the third grade faith formation classes last weekend they were reminiscing about both being in the pageant two years ago and making their First Reconciliation last year.
It is very exciting and a spiritual responsibility to be guiding the young people of our parish through the sacramental milestones of their lives with the help and dedication of their catechists, parents, parish staff and others who deeply care about the future of the Church. However, many of us who work with the young people and their families are also concerned about what happens between the sacramental milestones and attending faith formation classes. I didn’t ask Fr. Jim and he also didn’t comment about if there have been second or third or other reconciliations for the third graders. I made a comment at the end of my time with the second graders and their parents while reflecting in church that I pray their second reconciliation doesn’t happen eight years from now preparing for Confirmation. Unfortunately that was the reality for a majority of the tenth graders Saturday night during a time of adoration and the opportunity for reconciliation on their retreat. I know that was likely the most nerve racking part of the retreat, but I also know almost everyone there took the opportunity and made their second confession. The Spirit is a movin’ in our hearts if we but invite God in. I was moved by the sincerity, honesty and contrition that our tenth graders expressed as they trusted God once again. Many of them realized they need God in their lives and have hope for the future.
We finished the Christmas season this past Monday with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and are still meditating on that momentous event in Jesus life this weekend in the gospel as John the Baptist points out that Jesus is the Lamb of God and life moves on. We have four and a half weeks until we begin the season of Lent on Wednesday, February 14th. I don’t mean to rush things, but life is moving on. During these weeks of ordinary time between Christmas and Lent amid wintery days, hopefully each of us finds some quiet time to pray and reflect on how we are spiritually living between the seasons, between the sacramental moments in our lives. Most of life happens during ordinary time, but with God there is nothing ordinary about it if we take the time to hear God’s call and have the courage to respond.
Let us keep in our prayers the intention of ending racial tensions and getting to know people beyond the color of their skin as we nationally celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tomorrow.
December 31, 2017
Happy New Year 2018! Aside from usually going to Mass to honor and ask for Mary’s intercession as the Mother of God, I have always loved ringing in the New Year watching the ball drop in New York City and watching the Rose Bowl parade from Pasadena, often a great difference in temperature between the two. I am a night owl by nature, although that may be changing the older I get! The daily Mass crowd knows this by how often I’m still yawning and talking about coffee after Mass. There is something fun and inspiring about being part of a global celebration time zone by time zone. I don’t know if I will have the stamina to stay up this year to celebrate with family and friends in the Central, Mountain and Western time zones but we’ll see. I’m grateful Fr. Jim has the morning Mass on New Year’s Day!
Looking forward to the unfolding days of 2018 with the hope and joy we have bolstered through Advent and now celebrate in the Christmas season gives us spiritual grace to know that God truly is with us each and every day. We know that the New Year will inevitably bring challenges along with beaming sunrises, gentle breezes and peaceful sunsets. There will be newborn eyes wide open and giggles from toddlers amid aching bones and ears hearing less and less. Some people will receive a paycheck for the first time with smiles while other people will wonder in desperation where the next one will come from. There will be baptisms and birthdays, first communions, confirmations and graduations, weddings and anniversaries all blended with doubts and fears, failures, separations, addictions and accidents, and saying the final goodbyes to those we have lived with and loved the most. That is why we need to hear Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the second reading on the Feast of the Holy Family (3:12-17) about putting on God’s love and to let the peace of Christ control our hearts. Doing whatever you do, with the words you speak and the actions you do, do everything in the name of Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Jesus in their Spirit dwelling in you since baptism. It is this deep and abiding faith in God with us that will see us through everything coming our way in the days to come. Similarly, we are called to do what Mary did in Luke’s gospel (Luke 2:16-21) and keep all these things we have heard and celebrated in our hearts as we walk by faith day by day. I look forward with hope and humility to walk with you as we continue journeying into the Year of Grace 2018 together.
I know God is with us by also remembering the past. Our faith has seen us through all the ups and downs. We might have had our doubts or nervously wondered how it would all turn out, but day after day, week after week, year after year, God graced each day with what we have needed to remain faithful. I am confident that though life changes for each of us and those around us in varied ways that God will remain with us always.
December 24, 2017
I hope you are enjoying the shortest 4th week of Advent this year. It reminds me of last weekend’s second reading about God’s sense of time, “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8). In our case this year one day is like a week. The 4th week of Advent is only 24 hours long from the 4pm Vigil Mass on Saturday to the 4pm Christmas Vigil Masses on Sunday. Happy end of Advent!
As we shift gears from preparation to celebration between Advent and beginning the Season of Christmas, this year lasting from the evening of December 24th through the celebration of the Lord’s Baptism on Monday, January 8th, I would like to highlight something new this past year that some parishioners might not know about yet, our new online giving platform. It is easily accessed through our parish website simply by clicking on the icon found on the homepage. Clicking opens a new window that offers first time users to register, anyone to make a quick gift without registering and previously registered users the ability to securely login. You can choose the “use check” feature on the top right to directly debit your checking account or add credit card information. The site uses the highest level of security. You choose from various parish funds to give one time (special collections or parish fundraisers) or to make recurring gifts (regular Sunday collection, building fund/debt reduction or pledged amounts for Parish Special Appeal or Catholic Charities). Many parishioners are used to online methods of banking and paying bills. This is now a convenient and hopefully regular way to support Holy Cross Parish. You can also still use envelopes or cash. However, this giving platform makes it much easier to support the parish weekly whether at Mass here or not. Parish income is severely affected during vacation periods (especially during the summer) and weekends when Faith Formation does not meet. The parish needs your regular financial support throughout the year. We are almost half-way through this fiscal year and collections are already almost $16,000 dollars under budget. Please consider using online giving in the New Year. I sincerely thank the many parishioners who already give generously and regularly to support the mission of the Gospel at Holy Cross Parish.
A very Merry and Happy Christmas to you all! This is my third Christmas at Holy Cross Parish but my first one as your new pastor. I definitely can say it has truly become a home-away-from-home. It is a blessing and honor to serve you and your families throughout the spectrum of life from birth to death and every milestone and challenge along the way. I can’t thank enough the parish staff and many faithful volunteers who also respond daily, weekly and seasonally to your needs as well. A healthy and happy parish is the best Christmas gift as pastor. I pray during these Christmas Masses, the Feast of the Holy Family, Epiphany and all the Christmas weekdays in between, that you experience the joy, peace, light and love that Jesus brings into our lives anew remembering and celebrating his unique and life-changing birth in Bethlehem. Enjoy the lights, laughter, moments making memories and the mystical grace of these holy days. You all remain in my prayers, especially quietly sitting in church during adoration and times of personal prayer. I look forward to being with you and serving your families throughout 2018. Tiny Tim from Dicken’s Christmas Carol says it best- “God bless us, every one!”
December 17, 2017
This third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday using the Latin word for rejoice. The word comes from the introduction for this Sunday’s Mass in the Roman Missal taken from Philippians 4:4-5, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.” The liturgical color changes to rose this weekend signifying it’s time to rejoice, and there is much to rejoice about as a parish!
Many parishioners of Holy Cross Parish spread joy in so many ways throughout the year, especially in responding to the needs within and beyond the parish. Your generosity toward the Catholic Charities Appeal in the spring supports the Diocese of Fall River in its pastoral and social outreach to so many people in need. Similarly, through our annual collections for the Mission Appeal, Home Mission for Native Americans and Black Catholics, Catholic Relief Services, Peter’s Pence, Propagation of the Faith, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Retired Religious Fund all support the needs of fellow Catholics and others in need in our country and around the world. Additionally your generosity in responding to disaster relief near and far is commendable.
Joy is palpable closer to home as many parishioners respond to requests for various parish fundraisers throughout the year. Whether it’s making chili for the Fall Festival or donating items for the Holly Fair and Golf Tournament, taking a chance on October Raffle, responding to the Parish Special Appeal or Sponsoring a Day, many parishioners generously give of their time, talent and treasure to support the great mission of making God Known, Loved and Served from 225 Purchase Street. I am particularly moved and humbled when the parish regularly responds to the needs of the homeless at Main Spring, families facing challenges at Louison Shelter, Family and Community Resource Center and My Brother’s Keeper, and mothers in need at Birthright and Abundant Hope. One of the most impressive scenes each year happened last weekend when the church vestibule was filled with hundreds of gifts donated by you in response to our Giving Tree. The sight of those gifts and the realization that they were donated by parishioners wishing to assist others in need during the Christmas season, was a powerful reminder of the true spirit of Christmas. It is the concrete living out of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is the parish putting into practice Jesus’ teaching, “What you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me.” Thank you on behalf of the many people who will benefit from your generosity this Christmas and who have throughout 2017.
Next weekend, after celebrating the fourth Sunday of Advent, only a few hours later we will conclude our Christmas Eve masses singing, “Joy to the World.” Not only do we express our joy in knowing Jesus was born for us, but also knowing that Jesus truly is Emmanuel, God with us now as we continue living out the Church’s mission of sharing God’s love with the world around us. Thank you for all the joy you bring to life in and around the parish. Let us continue being joyful in the Lord as we soon welcome the New Year 2018 with many opportunities ahead to bring joy to others. God Bless you and your families as soon and very soon we once again welcome the newborn King.
Peace and all good things,
December 3, 2017
Happy New Year of Grace 2018 as the Season of Advent beings this weekend. The first two weeks of Advent continue the eschatological theme of the end of the year, looking toward the end of time when Christ comes again. In two of the three memorial acclamations sung or recited during Mass after the words of consecration we pray, “…until you come again.” The Sunday readings for the first three weeks of Advent speak about what to get ready for when Christ comes again and how to get ready, especially the second and third weeks with St. John the Baptist shouting, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and John’s appearance fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, “A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord.” There is only a brief mention of Jesus’ first coming in the Advent I preface to the Eucharistic Prayer: “For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to salvation.” That’s it about Christmas until the 4th Sunday when we hear mention of Emmanuel and how the birth of Jesus came about with Mary and Joseph. So even though secular society rushes things, especially this year this past week before even Advent began with: CMA’s Country Christmas, Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, the lighting of the Copley Square, Boston Common and Rockefeller Christmas trees (yes, I confess, I watched them all!), let us challenge ourselves to patient waiting, prayerful preparation and vigilant expectation not only for our annual celebration of Jesus’ birth, but especially for whenever he comes again- are you ready if it happens before Christmas this year?
This year the Season of Advent is the shortest it can be, three weeks and a few hours for the 4th “week” which leads into Christmas Eve on the evening of Sunday the 24th of December. We will have a regular Mass schedule for the 4th Sunday of Advent: 4:00 p.m. Mass on Saturday, December 23rd and 8:30 a.m. & 10:00 a.m. Mass on the morning of December 24th. Christmas Eve begins with two simultaneous 4:00 p.m. Masses on the evening of December 24th followed by an 8:00 p.m. and Midnight Mass beginning Christmas Day itself. There is also a 10:00 a.m. Mass on Christmas morning. So we have three weeks and a few hours to live into the Season of Advent. The first resource if the Five Minutes with the Word daily prayer booklets available at the doors of the Church. Each day there is one line from one of the readings for the day and a brief reflection to help guide your thoughts and actions for that day. Another daily resource is online at dynamiccatholic.com/advent where you can sign up to receive daily short inspirational videos, practical tips and real-life stories of hope to guide you through Advent in preparation for Christmas. The Stonehill Chapel Choir will present Lessons and Carols on this Tuesday evening, December 5th beginning at 7:00 p.m. in church. Each of the three Wednesday evenings (Dec. 6th, 13th and 20th) there will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 7:00-8:00 p.m. each evening (6th– Fr. Jim, 13th Fr. Brad, 20th visiting priest). We will also have our regular Saturday afternoon opportunity for the sacrament on Saturdays from 3:15-3:45 p.m. You can also always call or email Fr. Brad or Fr. Jim to set up an appointment to receive the sacrament. Also think about checking availability on the LaSalette and St. Anthony’s shrines and other local parish websites. I spiritually guarantee if you balance parties and preparation for Christmas with prayer and penance, you will have one of the most rewarding Advent and Christmas seasons you have ever had. Remember, the celebration of Christmas only begins on the evening of December 24th and continues through January 7th and 8th with the feasts of Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord.
I look forward to praying with you through this year’s short Season of Advent as we prepare for Christ’s second coming and our annual celebration of the Season of Christmas. Know of my prayers and the prayers of the entire parish staff as these blessed and hopeful days unfold in the weeks ahead. May we all prepare ourselves well in order to welcome Jesus into our hearts anew.