Dear brothers and sisters, parishioners and friends,
I hope you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving celebration with your families, relatives and friends.
In November we started the Season of Advent and now, here comes December, the last month of 2021. It concludes another year of surviving this pandemic that transformed the human life, circumstances and conditions. We thank Jesus for protecting us through this year. The Christmas message says: The Light will arise from the darkness and darkness will never defeat the Light, Christ the Messiah, the Savior will defeat the darkness, sicknesses, and weaknesses of our lives and will shine on us with His marvelous Glory. In the meanwhile, we are always invited to read the signs of the time, in prayers, repentance, purification, fasting and sacrifice. This is how we prepare ourselves for Christmas anyway. Don’t forget: Jesus conquered the World and granted health to the sick and even life to dead, decayed bodies. Prayers are powerful and miracles happen. They are happening. Our families feel the power of the protection of Jesus in prayers and in His saving words of life.
I would like to thank all the volunteers who worked so hard for the church bingo, a craft sale and the bake sale, which included those delicious, traditional Lebanese pies, all of which occurred the weekend of November 19 & 20. We continue to thank the generous donors who keep supporting school education for children living in the church families’ towns of origin in Lebanon, and Caritas Lebanon.
With great joy, the Holy Family Choir and the Faith Formation Children will be able to offer to you this year the annual Christmas Concert on Wednesday evening, December 29. It will be live-streamed on Facebook and the Website for parishioners who will be unable to attend physically. Thank you to all of the choir members for their hard work, Faith Formation and MYO members and teachers, who continue to dedicate time and effort to keep on with the programs despite the uncertainty at times. Donations are appreciated as support for covering the choir and faith formation and youth programs and equipment. There will even be a Christmas Santa party again this year. I appreciate the determination of our teams to keep on with all their activities in order to keep our children bonded and active in their church and religious and faith life. This is an essential part of evangelization.
During the last month, we restarted the Maronite Young Adults group, MYA. The coordinators will get in touch with MYA eligible participants, ages 18 to 39, to establish a network group and set an agenda, based on spiritual, religious, community and social activities. All in this age range are invited to get in contact with us so they can receive information about the upcoming gatherings, in a variety of locations. We especially ask the youth benefitting from the Men’s Club college scholarships to participate and be active, no matter where they are physically located. Group texts and virtual meetings will be utilized to facilitate participation once or twice a month. In addition, the MYA, MYO and other church groups will be getting ready to participate in the coming annual NAM convention of the two U.S. Maronite Eparchies. The convention will be held July 13-17, 2022, at the Mall of America. It will gather hundreds of Maronites of all ages, MYO, MYA, and adult families from all over the US, with events, programs and workshops. Thank you to our youth for your beautiful response in taking advantage of this opportunity that only happens in the Twin Cities every 30 or 40 years. The Holy Family MYA is being invited by Saint Maron’s MYA to participate jointly with them in the NAM convention MYA programs and activities.
During this month of December, in addition to Christmas, two feast days come to mind, Saint Barbara, Saturday, December 4, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on Wednesday, December 8. Of course when we say December, it is the Christmas month. Christmas is the focus. The main focus. It is the celebration that involves all ages and generations. In the Creed we say: "He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit from Virgin Mary and became Man" (Catholic Creed).
The Church Theologians describe the Nativity of the Lord Jesus as a supreme act of humility and modesty towards humanity. It is an act that can be compared only to His Passion and Crucifixion on the Cross. According to the greatest Church theologian ever, St. Augustine of Hippo, he invites us to pay special attention to how he focuses on the paradox of the event. It is a Pro-Life message that points to the sacrality of life since conception. May this continue to help us adore and delight in the Christ child while standing in awe of God's Incarnation. Saint Augustine describes the event saying:
"He, who by whom all things were made was made one of all things. The Son of God by the Father without a mother became the Son of man by a mother without a father. The Word Who is God before all time became flesh at the appointed time. The maker of the sun was made under the sun. He Who fills the world lays in a manger, great in the form of God but tiny in the form of a servant; this was in such a way that neither was His greatness diminished by His tininess, nor was His tininess overcome by His greatness". [St. Augustine, Sermon 187 1,1]
Let us pray for peace on earth, especially in these days where violence and terrorism are exploding everywhere. Even in the time of Christmas, Herod the Tyrant, killed the firstborn children of Bethlehem. This shows us that no matter to what degree the evil forces work, the Divine Christ’s Peace (Pax Christi) will reign forever. Let us be, on December 24 and 25, among the poor humble shepherds and the three Magi Kings around the manger, filled with the heavenly presence of the angels in our lives, singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, our Savior.
God bless you all and Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy and blessed New Year for you and your families.
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