We are now entering one of my favorite times of year – the stretch of the year that runs through Thanksgiving and the end of the liturgical year with the celebration of this weekend’s great feast, Christ the King and the beginning of a new Church year next weekend with the 1st Sunday in Advent, leading to our celebration of Christmas and its Octave and on through the end of the Christmas Season. It is a brilliant and wonderful time of year.
As we move into Advent I wanted to draw your attention to a couple of things as we prepare for Christmas. The first is the Sacrament of Penance. If Advent is a season of preparing to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord, as well as a time to prepare for the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory, then a significant and important part of that preparation is ask for forgiveness for our own failures in living up to the faith that we profess and the sinfulness which too often can mar our hearts. God, in His wisdom, knows that we are weak human beings, but God, in His mercy, gives us a sacrament to restore that which is lost by sin. If you have not been to confession in a while or perhaps even a bit intimidated in thinking about it, I can assure you that there are few things more consoling in life than walking out of a confessional with our sins forgiven and a chance to begin again – there are numerous resources and guides on the internet to help people make a good confession and most Catholic prayer books will have some aid to help people go to confession. Be sure, in the midst of the busyness of this season, to make time to be fully reconciled to God through the Sacrament of Penance. St. Mary’s offers numerous times for confessions – confessions are heard on Saturday mornings at 8:30 after the morning Mass, on Friday afternoons from 2:00 – 5:00 and we will have two Penance Services with Individual Confessions, one at St. Dominic’s at 7:00 PM on Monday, December 11th and one here at St. Mary’s at 9:00 AM on Saturday, December 16th (please note this replaces the normal 8:30 confession time that day). I also will be adding two more opportunities for people to go to confession before Christmas – on Tuesday, December 19th at Noon and Thursday, December 21st, at 7:00 AM (following the 6:30 Mass) and later that same day at Noon.
Secondly, as we look forward to the coming Advent and Christmas Seasons I just wanted to take a moment to share with you some information regarding the 4th Sunday of Advent and the Christmas Mass schedules here at St. Mary’s. As you may have already noticed, December 24th this year is both the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve – this happens rarely and the last time it happened was over a decade ago, in 2006. Because of the convergence of these two days, St. Mary’s, in conjunction with its neighboring parishes, will be adjusting both its 4th Sunday of Advent Mass times, as well as its Christmas Mass times. On December 23rd, we will celebrate the 5:00 Mass as usual for the 4th Sunday of Advent, but on December 24th we will be adjusting our morning Mass times and there will be two Masses, one at 8:30 AM and the other at 10:00 AM, both for the 4th Sunday of Advent. Christmas Eve Masses will be celebrated that afternoon at their usual 4:00 PM and 10:30 PM times (with the regular Christmas Concert at 10:00 PM). On December 25th, we will not have a 7:30 AM Mass, but instead two Masses, the 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM Masses for Christmas.
4th Sunday of Advent
Saturday, December 23rd - 5:00pm
Sunday, December 24th - 8:30am and 10:00am
Sunday, December 24th - 4:00pm and 10:30pm
Monday, December 25th - 9:00am and 11:00am
Thank you for understanding the need to change our schedule in light of so many Masses in such a limited amount of time.