December 2, 2018, Advent begins

Gratitude & Farewell to the Currys!  As Doctor &  Deacon Dirck and Chona Curry move to Virginia, Illinois, we are grateful for their ministry and presence in our faith community, and beyond. You are invited to celebrate the 9:00am Mass on December 8, the Feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which is also Deacon Dirck’s 16th Anniversary of Ordination to the permanent diaconate. This Holy Day Mass will be followed by brunch (downstairs). If you would like to make a donation in their honor, your gift to their next mission outreach can be made payable to Saint Stephen Cathedral (please indicate Curry Mission Outreach on the memo line). Donations can be made online or brought to the reception.

I.  Happy New Year! We begin a new liturgical Church year on December 2, the First Sunday of Advent.  The season of Advent is about waiting for Jesus Christ. The Gospel readings of Advent make us mindful of three ways we await Jesus—past, present, and future. First, we remember and accompany Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Jesus. Second, we prepare for the celebration of his birth this Christmas so that the day doesn’t pass us by with just meaningless words and worthless presents. Third, we anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ, who will come in power and glory for everyone to see and establish His kingdom of peace, truth, and justice upon the earth.

II.  Make Advent Count: know that God is present with you and ready to converse. St. Ignatius taught his followers to seek God in all things. Spend an extra 10 minutes reflecting on the daily Scriptures. Going to daily Mass at least once a week. Pray. Make time for meaningful fasting. Write a thank you card to someone who has inspired you in the past. Take a tag from our Giving Tree. Forgive someone who has hurt you. Forgive yourself. Celebrate God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Exercise. Listen to God. Listen to another person. Call to mind the presence of God with you. Recognize a teenager. Create an Advent wreath. Spend time in silence. Plan to go Christmas caroling.

III. Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is Saturday, December 8, and is a Holy Day of Obligation (opportunity), even though it falls on a Saturday. Today’s Solemnity celebrates the Immaculate Conception of Mary (not Jesus), as she was conceived in her mother’s womb. Prepared by God from the very first moment of her life, to receive Jesus Christ, God’s grace preserved Mary from sin, from the womb to the end of her life, because of her role in the mystery of salvation as the Mother of God. Mary’s generous response shows her willingness to place herself fully in God’s hands, even when it promised to be difficult and required great faith and trust. Mass schedule: at Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Friday, December 7 at 6:00pm; at the Cathedral, Saturday, December 8, at 9:00am.

IV.  The Boomerang Giving Tree: take a tag or two so that some families can have a better Christmas. The gifts need to be returned wrapped with the tag attached securely by December 16. Giving cheerfully with an open heart returns to us many times over—the joy of giving boomerangs back to the giver, I assure you!

V.  Our St. Stephen Food Pantry is Restocked! It was inspiring to see how much food you brought to our Thanksgiving Day Mass for our food pantry to be distributed to the needy of our community. Your generosity is awesome and contagious! Thank you!


Did you know?   First Recorded Instance of Antiphonal Singing! Saint Ambrose (c. 340-397) was governor when he stopped the people’s riot that erupted during the selection of a new bishop in Milan. The crowd cried, “Ambrose for Bishop,” and he was chosen, although he was just a catechumen. The Arian heresy—which denied the full divinity of Christ—divided the church of his time. When Empress Justina demanded that Ambrose give his basilica to the Arians, he and his congregation locked themselves in and began singing in what was the first recorded instance of antiphonal singing. We celebrate his feast on Friday, December 7. 

Compassionate & Generous Nicholas! Many stories exist about Saint Nicholas, but one most frequently passed down speaks of a poor man who could not feed or clothe his three daughters. Upon hearing of this man’s dire situation, Nicholas tossed three bags of gold through the man’s window one evening so the man could tend to his daughter’s needs. Nicholas lived sometime during the fourth century and was Bishop of the city of Myra in Asia Minor. There is some evidence that he was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecutions and he later condemned Arianism, the heresy that denied the Son was co-equal with the Father. His feast day is Thursday, December 6; may we imitate the compassion and generosity of this saintly man.