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December 17, 2023 - Third Sunday of Advent

Next Sunday:  Fourth Sunday of Advent     Celebrant:  Fr. Tharp          


Christmas is on a Monday this Year


We will celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent on the morning of Sunday, December 24, and begin the celebration of Christmas Masses that afternoon at 3:00 p.m.   I realize that asking Catholic people to celebrate two major feast days (the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas) within the course of 57 consecutive hours seems a bit much; but this is precisely what the calendar requires us to do this year. 


Unfortunately this means we cannot celebrate a “two-fer”!   You cannot satisfy the “Sunday obligation” by celebrating the anticipatory Christmas Mass on a Sunday afternoon.  Similarly you cannot celebrate Christmas by attending a Fourth Sunday of Advent Mass on Sunday Morning (December 24).   Essentially, you can celebrate  the Fourth Sunday of Advent by attending a Mass after 3:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon or by attending Sunday Morning (Christmas Eve) Masses before Noon.   Masses starting from 3:00 p.m. or thereafter on Sunday afternoon will be for Christmas, not for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. 


Confused?   Don’t be concerned.  If you intend to go to Mass to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve (Sunday) consider attending an anticipatory Sunday Mass on Saturday, December 23 like the 4:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart or the 5:15 p.m. at St. Ann.  Or similarly, if you always go to Mass on Sunday Morning, consider a Christmas Morning Mass on Monday (Christmas Day).   It may help make the separation between Sunday and Christmas more distinct.  And remember that 2024 is a leap year, so Christmas next year in 2024 will be on a Wednesday which solves the problem.


Preview of Christmas Schedule for the Family of the Immaculate Heart of Mary


Fourth Sunday of Advent Precept Masses on Saturday, December 23 and Sunday Morning December 24 at St. Ann and Sacred Heart will take place according to the usual weekend schedule. 


Christmas Eve (Sunday afternoon and evening) precept Masses for Christmas are as follows: Sunday (December 24) Christmas Eve 3:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart, 5:00 p.m. at St. Ann, 10:00 p.m. at St. Ann, and midnight (12:00 a.m.) at Sacred Heart.   Christmas Masses on Monday morning (Christmas Day) will follow the Sunday schedule, namely 8:00 a.m. at Sacred Heart, 9:30 a.m. at St. Ann, and 11:00 a.m. at Sacred Heart.  


Extra Confession Times for Christmas


The week before Christmas, I will have the usual confession time of 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at St. Ann.  On Thursday, December 21st I will have confessions from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart.  The final confession time before Christmas will be Saturday morning December 23 at Sacred Heart from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.  Nota Bene:  Please do not wait to the last minute for Confession on Saturday Morning!  If I should have to have a funeral that day,  I will have to stop confessions at 9:30 a.m. whether all are heard or not!  


Looking ahead to New Year’s Eve and Day


New Year’s is NOT a Holyday of Obligation this year.  There is NO SUNDAY EVENING Mass on New Year’s Eve.  Liturgically it is still the Feast of Mary the Mother of God (aka Theotokos) but the canonical precept obligation to attend Mass on the Holyday is eliminated. 


Therefore Sunday, December 31, 2023 (the last day of 2023) will be the Feast of the Holy Family as usual, but there is no canonical precept obligation to attend Mass for the Monday, January 1, 2024 Holyday.  On Monday Morning New Year’s Day there will be Mass at Sacred Heart at the usual 7:30 a.m. time slot, and Mass at St. Ann’s at 9:00 a.m.  because the “Holyday is also a Holiday!”   There will not be a 6:30 a.m. Mass on January 1, 2024. 




I keep running this article because there are new scams everyday


Remember I NEVER solicit funds, donations, favors, or any request of any kind over the telephone, text, email, carrier pigeon, drone, etc.   NEVER!  Do not allow yourself to be taken in by scammers.  Even if they have my recorded voice, be assured it is computer generated fake!  It is not me!!!  


Reminder for volunteers who work with or around children


Please be aware that failure to register with and complete the requirements of Safe Parish will result in your inability to continue to work with or around children in any parish and/or school setting.  We have been informed by the Archdiocese that there can be NO EXCEPTIONS.


Live Streaming for Precept Masses


Barring the unforeseen, Saturday evening Mass at Sacred Heart and Sunday morning at St. Ann will be live streamed each week.


Please remember to access the Sacred Heart / St. Ann Pastoral Region You Tube site by clicking on the following link:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVLLqbEY5hKWinwz069MVcg




Reflection on Scripture:


Today is called “Gaudate Sunday.”   Today we lighten up from Advent to rejoice.  We light the pink candle in the midst of purple.  We have climbed the mountain of preparation.  From here on, it is all down-hill.  This is the theme of today’s readings and prayers.  We celebrate being almost there.


In football, you don’t want to stop running until you break the plane of the goal line.  If you slack off at the end, you may be tackled short of the goal line.  But Gaudate Sunday is not a time to brag or act arrogantly.  Rather it is a time to enjoy what comes next.  When what comes next is Jesus Christ it is time to smile. 


Gaudate Sunday begins late Advent.  Late Advent is the time to look forward to the birthday of Jesus.  Others may say, “What’s the big deal about Christmas?”   We smile and say, “If you knew Jesus, you would understand.”


NEXT WEEK   Fourth Sunday of Advent (The day before Christmas)


2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

Rom 16:25-27

Lk 1:26-38



Theme: The Annunciation






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