December 23, 2013

I.  The Mystery of the Incarnation: God sending His only begotten Son to us as a baby, born of Mary; God taking on our humanity so that we can share His divinity. Jesus born 2000+  years ago in Bethlehem, Jesus will come in glory at the end of time, Jesus with us now as Emmanuel, and God with us always. Christmas Mass Schedule at Saint Stephen Cathedral is as follows: Monday, December 24th, 4:00PM and 11:00PM (the choir will be singing some hymns and choral pieces before Mass) and Tuesday, December 25th, 8:00AM and 10:00AM. (There will also be a 7:00PM Mass Christmas Eve at Blessed Sacrament Chapel at 7th & Sycamore Streets on Monday, the 24th). Celebrating Eucharist with our faith community is the best gift of all!

II.  Welcome College Students and Visitors! On behalf of our parishioners at Saint Stephen Cathedral, I welcome everyone home, whether geographically or spiritually, for this magnanimous Feast of Christmas, God becoming one of us through Jesus. It’s always good to celebrate Eucharist with you at our Cathedral!  EVERYONE is welcome!

III. Is It Time To Re-Connect? There are many reasons, I find, why people have left or wandered away from the Catholic Church: some have been hurt, some are disillusioned, some lack information or formation, some simply have grown slothful (spiritually lazy), some are searchers, etc. Whatever the reason, it might be time for you to re-connect with the Catholic Church. If this is good timing for you to join us, do not hesitate to contact Fr. Sinoj (Assist-ant Pastor), Donna Murphy (Rite of Christian Initiation Director), or myself. We consider it a privilege to sit and listen. You are also invited to an informal gathering on Thursday, January 3rd at 6:00pm in our Media Center (come to the back door of the office; enter from the parking lot behind our church building). Think about it. Talk about it. Pray about it. Bring a friend!

IV.  Open House at the Cathedral Rectory: while many folks will take down their Christmas tree and decorations on December 26, we are just getting started! Fr. Sinoj and I invite you to our rectory Open House on Saturday, December 29th from 6:30-8:30PM. We will serve heavy hors d’oeurves and assorted beverages. Drop by 614 Locust Street to celebrate our blessings of friendship, faith, and community!

V.  Sick or Hospitalized: If you have a planned surgery, or know you will be hospitalized, please mention that you are Catholic and belong to St. Stephen Cathedral upon registration. It is also helpful to contact the office, so we don’t miss you—we visit parishioners in the hospital regularly and in the nursing homes often. Furthermore, we also make visits to our HOMEBOUND. Let us know if we can be of service!

VI.  “Keeping Safe and Secure” Porch Project: we still have visitors who remind us regularly of the extraordinary beauty of our church building. Real beauty lifts the heart and mind heavenward!  As John Keats penned in his poem, “Ode To A Grecian Urn”, “Truth is beauty, and beauty truth.” With the culmination of planning, and the outpouring of prayers and financial support, our “Porch” project is racing toward completion!  Your patience is appreciated; your generosity inspires and humbles me! Thank you!

VII. Wedding Bells Are Ringing!  Congratulations to those newly engaged this Christmas season. It’s an exciting time for you!  If you choose to be married within the Sacrament of Marriage, the best response is to call the parish office immediately after you are engaged to ask for an appointment with a priest.  Even though our official Diocesan policy states a six month preparation period, that is the minimum, and it is much better to contact the Church sooner, so that you are not rushed in preparing for this most important commitment in your life. You may also the following website helpful:  Congratulations!

VIII.  Arts at the Cathedral: the original purpose of a cathedral was to draw people to God through the sacred Art and Liturgy. Art is created with imagination and skill, and art that is noble lifts the heart and mind to God, especially music. We have created an Arts at the Cathedral Fund  to sponsor concerts. The next event in our series is Sunday, February 10th, 4:00PM, with the Owensboro Symphony Chamber Orchestra. If you are interested, you can contribute on our webpage through WeShare, or contact the parish office, 270/683-6525 to speak with James Wells.

IX.  “LOVE makes our friends a little dearer.” “JOY makes our hearts a little lighter. FAITH makes our paths a little clearer. HOPE makes our lives a little brighter. PEACE brings us all a little nearer.”  The mystery of Christmas/Incarnation invites us to open our senses to the Word made flesh—Jesus. Let this Christmas not only be a time for family and friends but also a time for the Lord to be born more deeply into our hearts and lives. What a difference it makes to see and experience everything through the lens of faith. Invite a friend! On behalf of the Parish Pastoral Team and Council, and Fr. Sinoj Pynadath, I wish you Joy and Hope that seeps deeply into your soul this Christmas season (officially ends on January 13, the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus)!