Next Sunday: Second Sunday of Advent Fr. Schmitz
Season of Advent
Today is the First Sunday of Advent. It is for the Catholic Church “liturgical” New Year’s Day. The vestments worn by the priest will be purple or violet. There are three cycles of readings for Sunday Masses; cycle A, cycle B, and cycle C. During year “A” (2020) we usually read from the Gospel of Matthew. As we move to year B (2021), we are more likely to read each Sunday from Mark. Obviously, cycle C is Luke.
The first half of the season (until December 17) focuses our attention on the Second Coming of Christ. That is why we call it Advent. From the 17th to the 24th we focus on preparing to celebrate the Birth of the Lord.
Advent Reconciliation (Confession)
The St. Ann / Sacred Heart Pastoral Region typically has a communal penance service during Advent for those wishing to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Christmas. Many of our priests who traditionally help with our penance services are older and very susceptible to COVID. Also many who frequent the communal penance services are by age or medical condition also very susceptible to COVID. The Archdiocese has made it clear that we are NOT to do general absolution. For these reasons, I will continue during 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 Masses on the Sunday mornings I am at St. Ann. As we get closer to Christmas, I will try to expand times when I will hear confessions, but there will NOT be a communal penance service during Advent for our pastoral region.
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.
Plan for Celebrating a COVID Christmas
Remember that the Bishops of Ohio have extended the suspension of 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 that it is not permitted. Using every permissible means, I hope to accommodate the needs of as many as possible for Christmas. I will give more specificity in the weeks to come. I just wanted everyone to know we are “thinking ahead” so as to be prepared.
The Masses on Christmas Day will be at the same times as the regular Sunday Masses at both parishes.
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
It appears we are now able to live stream a Mass from Sacred Heart and a Mass from St. Ann EVERY SATURDAY!!! 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
This year we will not have request cards and collect donated gifts as such, but we will be asking for donations of gift cards (which do not need to be sanitized as gifts would.) See additional information elsewhere in this bulletin.
Reflection on Scripture: First Sunday of Advent
“Be watchful.” Being alert means you are expecting the Lord to return. Since you don’t know the day or the hour; don’t presume you know what you cannot know, but stay alert since you know it will eventually take place. Live the expectation.
When I was growing up, we had our own pond with bass, bluegill, and crappie. On Sundays, we would head to the woods about 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, bait our hooks, put our line in the water, and wait. As the days grew longer and then shorter, the time of day they would start feeding would vary a little; but as sure as clockwork, about 3:00 to 3:30 p.m. they would start to bite. We fished with cane poles and you could not keep your hook baited. We would release anything not huge, and put only the biggest and best on our stringers. We would clean them and put them in the freezer. We could hardly wait for the next Friday.
This is how we are to wait for the coming of the Lord; not with fear or dread, but with the confortable excitement of knowing what is going to happen. Recently a friend said he was worried about things to come. I said I also had concerns, but I know who wins. He said, “How do you know?” I said, “God the Holy Spirit always wins. Just keep your tackle box ready, your pole at hand, and be alert.”
Next Week: Second Sunday of Advent
Is 40:1-5, 9-11
2 Pt 3:8-14
Theme: John the Baptist