I. Family Can Be Messy: Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were a family deeply immersed in rituals and traditions of their people. In today’s Gospel we hear how they kept the feast of Passover by traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate this holy day. In our lives we are given a family and also the family of the Church, the People of God. In both our domestic family and our Church family, life can be messy but our relationships are strengthened through the celebration of rituals (family traditions). How might we invite more “rituals” (praying together, playing together, etc.) into the life of our families?
II. Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God: One of the most outstanding characteristics of Mary is her willingness to listen. She listened and reflected on events that happened. In our busy lives today, we often do not take the time to listen and reflect upon the events/happenings of our lives. Our Mass schedule at St. Stephen for Tuesday, January 1, is 7:00am and 12:00noon. This holy day of obligation (opportunity) is a great festival of Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, who teaches us the value of listening to God, and one another.
III. Migrants and Refugees: “Good Politics at the Service of Peace” is the theme chosen for the Church’s 52nd celebration of World Day of Peace, January 1, 2019. In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘peace be to this house!’ And if there is a person of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you“ (Luke 10:5-6). Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ disciples. That peace is offered through all those men and women, boys and girls, who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history. The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, and all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home“: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate. So let this be my greeting at the beginning of this new year of 2019: “PEACE be to this house!” Again, our Cathedral Masses are at 7:00am and 12:00 noon on Tuesday, January 1, 2019. “Peace to all who enter here.”**
IV. Epiphany Vespers & International Potluck: Everyone is invited to our Sixth Annual Epiphany Vespers beginning at 4:30pm on Sunday, January 6th in church. Please bring a dish from your country of origin! The parish will provide drinks, unless you would like to bring your own bottle of wine! The Magi—the soothsayers, seekers, searchers, wise men, kings —will journey into our midst with a traditional king cake! If you would like to assist in this parish gathering, contact Lupe Ellis (270. 240. 2153), who is coordinating our Epiphany potluck.
V. Influential Convert to Catholicism: born into a wealthy Episcopalian family, Elizabeth Ann Seton lost her husband at an early age, leaving her with five small children. An Italian Catholic family greatly influenced her interest in the Catholicism, which eventually led her to a commitment to the Church, which was not well received by her husband’s family. Aware of the need for immigrants to be educated, she founded a girls’ school in Baltimore, which gave rise to the Catholic Parish school system in the USA. She was canonized a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1975. The Church celebrates her feast day on Wednesday, January 4th. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!
VI. Welcome Back: If you would like to reconnect or deepen your relationship with the Catholic Church, there will be an informal gathering on Thursday, January 3 at 6:00pm in our Media Center (use the back door to our office building). Come with your questions, hurts, concerns to share with us. God works in peoples’ lives at different times and ways—when we are ready! Accompany someone to this session.