Christmas Schedules are available at the doors of church, but here are the Masses we have for our Pastoral Region: I (Fr. Tharp) have Christmas Eve Mass at Sacred Heart at 3:00 p.m., Christmas Eve Mass at St. Ann at 5:00 p.m., Christmas Eve Mass at Sacred Heart at 7:00 p.m., Christmas (alternative Mid-Night Mass) at 10:00 p.m. at St. Ann and 12:00 a.m. (midnight) at Sacred Heart. On Christmas Day, I will have the regular Sunday Schedule of Masses (8, 10, & noon) at Sacred Heart. Fr. Pucke will take my place for the regularly scheduled 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Masses at St. Ann.
Thus I will celebrate two anticipatory Masses on Christmas Eve at Sacred Heart (3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.) and two anticipatory Masses at St. Ann (5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.). There is only one Mass at midnight, and it is at Sacred Heart. I will celebrate at Sacred Heart (three Masses) on Christmas Morning and Fr. Pucke will cover the 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. at St. Ann.
Every parishioner from either St. Ann or Sacred Heart is free to attend the most convenient time for them at either location. Remember we have reciprocity so a St. Ann donation envelope put in at a Mass at Sacred Heart goes back to St. Ann, and a Sacred Heart donation envelope put in at a Mass at St. Ann goes back to Sacred Heart. Therefore choose your Christmas Mass times based on convenience, not just location.
Confessions before Christmas
I will have confessions at Sacred Heart on Saturday Morning (December 21) from after the end of 8:00 a.m. Mass (8:30 to 9:30 a.m.). Fr. Detenwanger will have confessions at St. Ann on Saturday Afternoon (December 21) at the usual time (3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) I would normally have confessions on Tuesday evening at Sacred Heart, but that is Christmas Eve! Therefore, I will have confessions on Monday Evening (December 23) from 6:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. or until all are heard. Obviously, there are no confessions on Christmas eve.
Candy Canes at Christmas
For the past twenty years or so I have been securing candy canes for Christmas Masses and inviting children too young to receive the Eucharist to come up with their parents and siblings and receive a candy cane from a basket near the communion station, or a server; so that even though the child cannot receive the real body and blood of the Lord; they can receive a symbol of Christ in the form of a shepherd’s staff (the Good Shepherd) reminding us of Christ’s blood (red) shed on the cross and the (white) purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In essence, I wanted to create a good memory for the child that would endure and perhaps enhance their appreciation of the Real Presence when they make their First Communion. Unfortunately in today’s environment, this could be mistaken for me (the priest) giving the gift, rather than the parish giving the gift; which is what I always intended. So as to avoid any misunderstanding, this year the parish will supply candy canes next to the Nativity Scene so that parents may give one to their child (or not) as they visit the depiction of Christ’s birth. This way, it is clear that any decision to accept the candy cane is purely at the discretion of the parent accompanying the child; and it is clear that the candy cane is NOT a gift from the priest.
Reflection on Scripture
The Fourth Sunday of Advent always falls after December 17, and is therefore part of Late Advent. Early Advent which ends December 16, focuses our attention on the Second Coming of Jesus or the Eschaton. Late Advent focuses us on the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of the Incarnation.
Today’s gospel explains the quandary Joseph faced when Mary, his betrothed, was found with child. He was going to divorce her “out of the public eye” without exposing her publically as an adulteress. Had he made the issue public, Mary could have been stoned to death, or at minimum would have reduced her public reputation to that of “sinner.” Of course, the message from the angel in a dream changed all this.
Mary was certainly heroic in the resounding “yes” to God when he calls her to be the mother of the Messiah. Joseph was also heroic in that he listened to the message God gave him to have no fear of taking Mary into his home. Both Mary and Joseph listened to God and did what God asked with little concern that a world full of gossiping relatives and friends would see them as fools. In the final analysis, a true hero is one who pays attention to what God says; and has little concern for his or her own prestige. They do what is right, not what is popular.
During this Christmas Season, listen to the words of Jesus. Don’t listen to the “word on the street.”
Next Weekend: Feast of the Holy Family
Sir 3:2-6, 12-14
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
Theme: If Jesus is head of your household, you are a Holy Family