Monday, December 22, 2014

Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Dear Parishioners,

I take this time to wish you and your families a happy and holy Christmas season and a blessed New Year!  Is it my imagination or does every year seems to go by faster and faster? 

In the Church, the Celebration of Christmas lasts for eight days.  The joy of this wonderful solemnity is too great to contain within a single day!  We refer to this time as the Octave of Christmas.  Most people would probably be surprised to find out that the Christmas season actually extends to January 11, 2015the Baptism of the Lord.  Sadly, by then many will not be in the Christmas spirit any longer because of how early the commercial Christmas preparations begin.  By the time Christmas arrives, people are ready to take down their decorations.  They often seem exhausted from all of the things that they feel pressured into buying or doing

With Christmas upon us, please try to keep “Christ” at the center of the celebration.  Society may tell us that we need to shop and exchange gifts, to cook, to clean the house, to party and to do other things.  All of this seems to add to increased tension and lack of peace in peoples’ lives.  Our faith tells us to pray and to ready our hearts for Christ.  This spiritual preparation can bring us peace, happiness and joy that the world cannot give.  What type of Christmas do we want to have?  The choice is always ours to make.
I thank all who work so hard in the parish and continue to strengthen our Christian community.  Christianity is not like a “spectator sport” where we simply watch and cheer from a distance.  Rather, it truly involves active participation and a life commitment:  prayer, attendance at weekly Mass, a sacramental life, Christian service, love of neighbor, etc.  Why not make it a New Year’s resolution to join a committee, become a lector or other liturgical minister, take a bible-study class, assist at PREP (religious education), or volunteer at a parish activity in 2015?  Our parish family will be only as strong and vibrant as the people who faithfully participate in it.

Be assured that all members of this parish are remembered in my daily prayers and Masses.  May I ask a small remembrance in your prayers and Masses as well? 

On behalf of Fr. Larry, Fr. Alvaro, Deacon Bob, our Sisters, parish staff and me, have a blessed and peace-filled Christmas!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Friday, December 5, 2014

Making Sense of Holy Days

Dear Parishioners,

With the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception coming up next Monday (December 8th), I thought that this article might be helpful.

“Why do we have to attend Mass some years on a particular holy day, and on other years there is no obligation to attend Mass?”

Holy Days of Obligation often generate confusion and need clarification. In the universal Catholic Church there are ten of these days. However, each individual country is allowed--through its conference of bishops (the USCCB in America)--to decide which days are to be observed and how they are to be observed.

In the USA, the conference of bishops chose to move the observation of a number of these Holy Days to Sunday (such as Corpus Christi and the Epiphany). Still, six are retained on their actual calendar dates:

  • January 1--The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • August 15--The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 40 days after Easter--The Ascension of Our Lord (Ascension Thursday)
  • November 1--All Saints Day
  • December 8--The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • December 25--Christmas

What is perhaps one of the most confusing aspects for almost everyone is the question: “why are we obliged to attend Mass some years and not others?” Basically, when the Holy Days fall on a Saturday or a Monday—being so close to Sunday—the bishops of the USA removed the obligation to attend Mass on those days.

This is true except for the Immaculate Conception (the Patroness of the USA) and Christmas. We observe these days no matter when they occur.

[Please note, this year (2014) there is no vigil Mass on Sunday evening for the Immaculate Conception. The evening Mass on Sunday is for the 2nd Sunday of Advent.]

Now that you are thoroughly confused, I want to make a few important points for you to consider.

First, if the universal Catholic Church has considered these days holy, then they deserve our attention, consideration and observance no matter when they occur (or whether or not we are required to attend Mass).

Second, I hate to see people become so legalistic that we are constantly looking to observe the bare minimum that we could possibly do for God. We should develop an attitude of generosity toward God and not an attitude resembling something like a minimum daily requirement. What if God had that type of attitude toward us?

Finally, these holy days should be a reminder for us to try to bring the sacred into our daily routine.

There are so many things that can distract us from God in the world today. Recalling and observing these sacred days and the events that they represent are a good way for us to Christianize our lives, family and world.

I hope to see you in Church at Mass on these days because you want to be there, not because you sometimes are obliged to do so.

Fr. Ed Namiotka