Dear Parish Family,
Happy New year! It is the most wonderful time of the year… Advent; joyfully anticipating the Birth of Jesus.
With the difficult weeks, many of our brothers and sisters have endured it is important to remember to keep our eyes focus on our Lord. I want to share with you one of our many beautiful Catholic traditions and gifts and encourage you this Advent season to pray with our Mother Mary; she too is our Advent wreath leading us to her son, Jesus.
Through our history, we have been sent many messengers; The angels, the prophets and apostles, and the saints. All echo the same Good News, Jesus is the Truth, the Light, and the Way. Our Mother Mary is our most recent messenger sent from heaven. She takes on the likeness of those who she speaks to, making sure we recognize the message is meant for us. Through Mary we reach Jesus, through Jesus, we reach the Father. This month we have two feast days in her honor, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Mary is conceived without sin), and on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Her message in all her apparitions throughout the world is never about her, she always points to her Son. When the bishop asked for a sign, St. Juan Diego presented him with his 'tilma'. It was filled with Castilian roses. When St. Juan Diego opens his 'tilma' to expose the roses, they all saw the image of Santa Maria de Guadalupe was miraculously imprinted on it. It was left on a native fiber, meant only to last 30 years at most; however, it has been hundreds of years and the image is still perfectly intact. This is only the first of many miracles. Her image and words have spoken so clearly to all generations, she has aided in the conversion of millions.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is huge for the Mexican people, not only for having the honor of having Our Mother appear in Mexico but to have been given the privilege to have her image left for us to visit. Her story and her message have earned her the title of Patroness of the Americas (North & South). Her message in all her apparitions throughout the world is never about her, she always points to her Son. The Celebration consists of a novena from December 4 to December 12, every day we retell her story and are reminded of her intentions, to bring us to her son, Jesus:
The Mother of God appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531, requesting a church be built:
“My dear little son, I love you. I desire you to know who I am. I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth. I desire a church in this place where your people may experience my compassion. All those who sincerely ask my help in their work and in their sorrows will know my Mother's heart in this place. Here I will see their tears; I will console them and they will be at peace.”
When the bishop Fry Juan de Zumarraga asked for a sign, Juan Diego presented him with his Tilma which was filled with Castilian roses, previously unknown to the region and mysteriously blooming in winter. When St. Juan Diego opens his tilma to expose the roses, they all saw the image of Santa Maria de Guadalupe, was miraculously imprinted on it. Her image speaks loudly and clearly as her words. These are symbols that spoke clearly to the Aztecs and aid the conversion of millions. Some of the symbols are:
All this left on a native fiber, meant only to last 30 years at most; however, it has been hundreds of years and the image is still intact. This is only the first of many miracles. Her image and words have spoken so clearly to all generations, she has aid in the conversion of millions.
“Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you.
Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain.
Am I not here, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms?
Is there anything else that you need?”
Our Lady of Guadalupe’s motherly love for us is palpable. What a better advocate for us, than someone who understands all our struggles perfectly. Come to her, pray with her, especially in your times of need. She will help us clear the path and take our petitions to her loving son. Let us confidently journey our advent season in hope, joy, and love.
Faith Formation Minister
Those of us who have been Catholics all our lives often take the symbols and rituals of Advent for granted. But for those who are seeking to join the Church, the pre-Christmas season presents an opportunity to immerse themselves more deeply into the Catholic way of life.
They catch the spirit of joyful anticipation as they worship with us on Sundays. They are full of questions about the Advent wreath, the liturgical colors, the Parish Reconciliation Service, and the meaning of the scriptures chosen for Advent. They learn the Catholic way of preparing for Christmas by attending our parish events and participating in works of charity like Angel Tags.
The not-yet-Catholic seekers among us can be models of wonder and awe for those of us who may have become a little less enthusiastic about the season. Invite your non-Catholic friends and relatives to attend mass with you. It may refresh your own sense of this meaningful time of year.
If you or anyone you know is interested in finding out more about the Catholic Church, please contact Catherine Shadduck at (805) 482·6417 x331 or email@example.com
I am grateful for
An odd list, I grant it, but I’m sticking with it and adding to it this week. I pray that your list is long, and quirky and filled with things and people to bring you happiness and closeness to God.
Dear friends on the journey,
Today’s readings give us stories of two women who gave when they had nothing to give.
In the first reading, we see Elijah asking for something to eat and drink from a poor, widowed mom who is sure that she and her son will die from hunger. She does not have enough for all of them at that moment, much less for the days to come. Nevertheless, she does. The poor widow in the gospel was probably no different. Two coins was all she could give, a few cents that could have provided her a meal. Nevertheless, she does.
As I reflected and prayed on these stories, the woman in the first reading really resonated with me. I could imagine the desperation and worry she must have been feeling. Have you ever had a day when you felt like you had left nothing to give anyone, wondered where you were going to find the energy, or you just did not feel like “adulting” another day? I have experienced similar moments, days, and seasons when I did not know how I was going to provide for the needs of my little family of five. My jar was low of food, money, energy, compassion, enthusiasm, or wisdom. I was nearing empty. I think this is just life. Not every day is going to be easy and smooth sailing. However, these women can be extraordinary examples for us of how to get through those rough days and when I think of them, the word that comes to mind is trust.
Had the gospel widow already experienced God’s abundant generosity in her life that now, as a widow, she continues to trust in God’s generosity? How much trust did the widowed mother really have in Elijah’s assurance that if she gives, God will truly provide?
I think we can all see ourselves in their situations. They call to mind moments that I took my worries to God and trusted he would provide for my physical, emotional and spiritual needs, and he did. Recently I came across this quote: So far you have survived 100% of your worst days. In hindsight, we can see it is so true. We are here today by God’s grace, hopefully stronger, better and wiser for the challenge and the gifts that came with it.
These women remind us to trust with our whole heart that our good and gracious God will provide us with the strength, energy, wisdom and grace to give generously, to put one foot in front of the other, and to do the next right thing. Perhaps the hardest part about whole-hearted trust is accepting that the outcome may not be what we want or think we need.
This week let us spend some time reflecting on God’s generous care in the past and on any situations now that we might need to just surrender our will and trust in God’s will.
Faith Life Minister
This is the first Mass of Remembrance where I will be honoring my father who passed away the week before Christmas last year. While I have experienced much loss in my life, I have not felt this kind of emptiness and sorrow before. And to watch my mom soldier on without Dad is absolutely heartbreaking. They were the old school type of married couple. The kind that always held hands and did everything together. She is bravely carrying on, but her world will never be the same…
I know that many of you are going through similar or even worse heartbreak. Please know that I am praying for each of you to have strength and faith that your beloved is well cared for in God’s loving embrace. I pray for you to find the joy in having been blessed to have loved and been loved by someone extraordinary.
As we join together in celebration, sorrow and gratitude, let’s remember God’s promise to us (John 11:2526), “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Yes, amen I do believe this, Lord. And while my sorrow is immeasurable, I have faith that someday we will all be reunited in Heaven. And until we meet again, I will continue to cherish all of our wonderful memories and will try to make you proud, Dad.
Parish Business Manager