Browsing From the desk of Fr. Tharp

December 20, 2020 - Fourth Sunday of Advent

Next Sunday:  Feast of the Holy Family                    Fr. Tharp


Christmas Schedule for St. Ann and Sacred Heart


Fr. Tharp will celebrate all Masses on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve Masses:          

Sacred Heart: 3:00 p.m.

St. Ann: 5:00 p.m.

Sacred Heart: 7:00 p.m.

St. Ann: 10:00 a.m.

Sacred Heart: 12:00 a.m. (Midnight)


Fr. Tharp will celebrate the three (Sunday Schedule) Christmas Day Masses at Sacred Heart.  Fr. Schmitz will celebrate the two Christmas Morning Masses at St. Ann.  Please note that there is no “Midnight Mass” at St. Ann. 


Reconciliation (Confession)


I will continue during the remaining days of Advent to have regular confessions at Sacred Heart on Saturday mornings (8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.) and regular confessions at St. Ann on Tuesday evening from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.  I also hear confessions before Sunday morning Masses on the Sundays I am at St. Ann. 


St. Ann:  Tuesday, December 22:  I will hear regular Tuesday (December 22) evening confessions at St. Ann from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. or until all are heard. 


Sacred Heart: Wednesday, December 23:  On Wednesday, December 23, I will hear confessions at Sacred Heart from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. or until all are heard.    


When I hear individual confessions, I will still require that you go behind the screen (not face to face), that you wear a mask as I will, and that you socially distance in any line formed outside the confessional. 


Donating Stock  (disclaimer: the following is NOT tax advice!)


During this time of the year, I always like to remind everyone of the benefit of donating stock directly by transfer to an IRS classified section 501 (c) 3, like St. Ann or Sacred Heart.  Some have told me that since the “standard deduction amount” has increased (and thus fewer people are filing Schedule A. Itemized Deductions), the incentive to the taxpayer for stock donations has diminished.  But remember that even if you file using the “standard deduction” the relief to you as a taxpayer for giving appreciated equities to an eleemosynary like us, is not just that you can (theoretically) apply it as an itemized deduction if you meet the threshold; but also that if you donate (transfer) the stock directly to us, you avoid paying taxes on the capital gain. 


For example, suppose you bought a stock some years ago as an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at $10 a share.  Suppose it is now trading for $70 a share (or maybe there has been a “stock split” some time ago and you now hold twice the number of shares) and you want to donate some or all of the holding to charity.  If YOU sell those shares, you will get hit with an enormous capital gain calculation on your personal tax return.   BUT if you donate (aka transfer) the “actual shares” to Sacred Heart or St. Ann, you do not have to pay the capital gains tax on the donated shares.  For St. Ann and Sacred Heart as tax exempt entities, the beauty is we don’t have to pay the capital gains when we sell the stock because the church is tax exempt.  You can give more dollar value without capital gains cost to you or the church, but remember that this only works on stocks that have “appreciated” in value


Please understand, I am NOT trying to give “tax advice” but rather want to alert you to possibilities about which you may be unaware.  As always, please consult your professional tax adviser for specifics as they may apply to you. 


Plan for Celebrating a COVID Christmas


Remember that the Bishops of Ohio have extended the suspension of (the precept) duty to attend Sunday Mass or Holyday Mass until at least 2021.  Therefore, no one is obligated to attend Mass this year on Christmas.


Since it appears that this Christmas, we will still have COVID inspired reduced capacity seating and standing room in both St. Ann and Sacred Heart churches, we are planning to live stream the A/V feed from the Christmas Eve Masses in Church through our youtube page.  For the 3:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart, we plan to also set up Fellowship Hall so as to use the projector and smart TV for overflow attendants in Fellowship Hall.  When and if this is also full, the remainder of the overflow crowd both at Sacred Heart and later at 5:00 p.m. at St. Ann (because the church is full) will be directed to stay in their cars in the parking lot and watch the live stream on their personal cell phone or pad.  After the main crowd leaves, then those in their cars will form a line to receive communion in the Narthex or Vestibule.  I had asked for permission to also distribute Communion at other times at both churches outside of Mass, but I have been told by the Archdiocese that it is not permitted.   Using every permissible means, I hope to accommodate the needs of as many as possible for Christmas.  


We do not anticipate overflow crowds at St. Ann or Sacred Heart on Christmas Day.  If this would happen on Christmas Day at Sacred Heart, I will immediately set up to live stream and deliver communion to the overflow from the parking lot after Mass in the Narthex.  Similarly, St. Ann overflow (should this occur on Christmas Day at St. Ann) could watch an earlier Mass from St. Ann on Youtube while sitting in their car in the parking lot and then come into Church for communion at communion time. 


The Masses on Christmas Day will be at the same times as the regular Sunday Masses at both parishes.


Important Note:  If you end up watching Mass in the parking lot at either church, it is imperative that you NOT tap into the church WIFI, while watching the Mass on your phone or pad!  The experts tell us that this would CRASH our WIFI and then no one anywhere could see the Mass!   This is the “Achilles Heel” of the whole attempt to provide Mass for everyone!!!  While we are live streaming at ether of the two parishes, it is imperative that no one use the church WIFI during live streaming.  This would be a catastrophe. 


Communion on the Tongue


Please remember as I stated in recent articles, until the threat of COVID is over; if you wish to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, you must come to me (Fr. Tharp) ONLY and you must be sure you are at the end of my line.  Please do not present yourselves to Fr. Schmitz or any of the Lay Eucharistic Ministers for communion on the tongue!  If on Sundays, you see that I am going to be at St. Ann, then you must come to St. Ann that Sunday if you want to receive ONLY on the tongue.  I am not willing to ask Fr. Schmitz or any of the Lay Eucharistic Ministers to take a risk with which they are uncomfortable.  Be assured, I will follow all the protocols necessary to administer on the tongue safely.  


Live Streaming a precept Mass from St. Ann and Sacred Heart each week 


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



Reflection on Scripture: Fourth Sunday of Advent 


The gospel prescribed for the Fourth Sunday of Advent is the story of the Annunciation.  The Annunciation story together with the story of the birth of Our Lord (aka Christmas) forms the teaching of the Church regarding the “Incarnation.”  The Latin word for flesh is “Carnes.”   Thus the Incarnation references the act of God to become physically tangible in human flesh and blood.  As inhabitants of twenty-first century America, we are so familiar with Christmas as a secular celebration, that we fail to recognize the enormity of the reality!   God, the omnipotent eternal creator beyond our concepts of time, space, and reality has interjected himself “into a temporal world” in order to reveal God’s eternal love for mere humanity.  John 3:16-21 makes the point most eloquently with the words, “God so loved the world……”  


The foundational truth of Christianity is based on this historical reality; namely that God chose to enter into time and space to become part of his creation.   For us as Christians (to quote Walter Cronkite) “And that’s the way it is!”   Let’s make the “reality” of Christmas what we celebrate this year.  We are encouraged by advertisers and the media to embrace the “fantasy” of Christmas.   The fantasy is gone by the time the lights come down.  The reality transcends time and space and is the reason we say, “I believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”


Next WeekFeast of the Holy Family 


Sir 3:2-6, 12-14

Col 3:12-21

Lk 2:22-40


Theme:   Are you part of the family of the Church?


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