Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a Holy Day of Obligation for the United States. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the patroness of the United States. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates that God had a plan for the Blessed Virgin. From the moment she was conceived in her mother’s womb, Mary was kept free from Original Sin so that she would grow up to be a pristine vessel for the Son of God to come into the world. Back on September 8, we celebrated the birthday of Mary. December 8 is exactly nine months before we celebrate her birthday, an thus we celebrate the Immaculate Conception.
I will have Mass at St. Ann on Wednesday, December 7 at 5:30 p.m. I will have Mass at Sacred Heart on Wednesday, December 7 at 7:00 p.m. Masses on Thursday, December 8 are at St. Ann at 6:30 a.m., Mass at Sacred Heart at 7:30 a.m. The day school student’s Mass at Sacred Heart at 8:15 a.m. is restricted to parents who are authorized through the school entrance or persons who have been approved and received proximity cards which open the magnetic lock doors. The school Mass for St. Ann is at 10:00 a.m. Finally there is a Mass on Thursday at Sacred Heart at 7:00 p.m.
Remember that we have established reciprocity regarding collections so that St. Ann envelopes donated at Sacred Heart are directed to St. Ann, and Sacred Heart envelopes donated at St. Ann are directed to Sacred Heart.
Retired Religious Sisters and Brothers (December 10 & 11)
(Forgive me as this ran in last week’s bulletin a week early! Mea culpa!))
Next weekend (December 10 & 11) we have the annual second collection for the retired religious. Members of religious orders like the Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, Sisters of Mercy, etc, take personal vows of poverty. Their income goes to the religious order to feed and clothe all the members. In the past, they expected to use the income from working members to feed and house the elderly members, but with the decline in religious vocations in recent years, many religious orders have too few active and working and too many retired and in need. Not all religious orders suffer this poverty, but some are in severe need. About thirty years ago a tri-conference committee set up by the USCCB began collecting the funds from this second collection on the second Sunday of December to allocate funds to religious orders according to their need.
At both Sacred Heart and St. Ann, our schools were staffed by religious sisters. For those of us who attended Hamilton Catholic, we remember the religious brothers. Members of religious societies like these across the United States are helped by this collection according to their actuarially determined need.
Every year I am asked if this collection also addresses diocesan priests. It does not! Diocesan priests (like Fr. Adam and me) receive a salary. We do not take a vow of poverty, so we own our own cars and personal items. If we have been frugal, some may have IRA savings. When the bishop allows us to retire at age seventy, we receive a pension from an Archdiocesan fund that has been built up from an annual allocation of monies collected in the Catholic Ministries Appeal (formerly known as the Archbishop’s Fund Drive).
The Advent Penance Service for St. Ann and Sacred Heart will be at Sacred Heart on Wednesday, December 14. Multiple priests will be available to hear confessions.
Both Sacred Heart and St. Ann will carry on the tradition of having “giving trees” this year. Many families use the giving tree as a tradition that teaches their children the meaning of generosity and self-sacrifice. Sharing with those in poverty at this time of the year makes the season meaningful. Thanks for your support in the past and for your consideration of this opportunity this year. Consult the bulletin to determine the date by which all gifts must be returned.
Grocery Certificate and Gift Card Programs
As we approach Christmas, please consider buying “gift certificates” as presents for your friends from the gift certificate program that operates in the Narthex or Vestibule of both Sacred Heart and St. Ann. If every parishioner did this at his or her respective parish, neither parish would ever be worried about deficit budgets again.
St. Ann Church annual “Fr. Tharp’s New Year’s Eve Split the Pot”
This annual fundraiser helps St. Ann to cover budgetary deficits or shortfalls. Tickets are available in St. Ann vestibule after Mass each Sunday. These tickets make great stocking stuffers. As the pot expands, interest in the drawing also increases. Get your tickets early and see if on New Year’s Eve will bring you riches in 2017.
Reflection on Scripture
The theme of the scriptures for the Second Sunday of Advent is peace and justice. Isaiah speaks of the lamb becoming friends with the lion. The child is depicted playing with the cobra (the snake not the car). Isaiah says, “There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD.” The fruit of living by God’s wisdom is peace. In today’s gospel, Matthew depicts John the Baptist chastising those who come to his baptism in the Jordan more for curiosity than out of piety. He says God knows their hearts and God’s justice will reveal their deception.
We live in a world in which peace seems unattainable. Conflicts erupt like brushfires. When you seek with the best of intentions to extinguish one conflict, it spawns two more. Perhaps the problem is in the fire retardant the world seeks to use. Perhaps peace with justice is only attainable when every heart is converted to the way of Jesus. Until every soul is converted to Christ, God’s justice cannot reign; and until God’s justice reigns, there can be no real peace.
Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)
Is 35:1-6a, 10
Theme: What are you seeking?