Dear brothers and sistersin Jesus our Lord,
Here comes December, the last month of 2020, to conclude this mysterious, enigmatic year that transformed human life, circumstances and conditions. Can you imagine how different this December and Christmas are from December and Christmas of last year and all the years before? But as 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, weaknesses of our lives and will shine on us with His marvelous Glory." In the meanwhile, we are invited to read the signs of the time, in prayers, repentance, purification, fasting and sacrifice. This is how we prepare for Christmas. These days our priorities have changed. Even the vocabulary has changed with the emerging of words like lockdown, safety, distancing, masks, sanitizing, due to contagious Coronavirus and other sicknesses, essentials, basics, Zoom, virtual meetings or Mass attendance. Our priorities changed from wealth to health, from comfort to safety, from spending and investing to survival and prevention, from entertainment and outside partying, to more family life or solitude, from physical work to more online work, and so on. What a change! Don’t forget: Jesus conquered the world and granted health to the sick and 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 devoted so much time and effort for the last church take out dining event the weekend of November 21-22. The food, which included traditional Lebanese meat & spinach pies, was, to quote a customer: "awesome!" We also thank the generous donors who continue to support Caritas Lebanon and education for children in Lebanon.
During this month of December, two major feast days come to mind: Saint Barbara on December 4 and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Tuesday, December 8. As the feast of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day, liturgy will be held at 6:00 PM on Tuesday and broadcast live.
Of course December is the Christmas month. Christmas is the focus. The main focus. It is a 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). 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 Church’s greatest theologian ever, St. Augustine of Hippo, who 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 its 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]
With great regret the Holy Family choir and the Faith Formation children will not be able to offer to you this year the annual Christmas Concert and play. Instead, a virtual Christmas play will be recorded by the Faith Formation children and will be streamed on Facebook and the Website. I extend my appreciation and thank everyone who unfailingly dedicated long hours and many efforts to keep on with these programs despite the difficult times. Christmas donations and giving are appreciated as they serve to support the choir, faith formation and our youth programs and equipment. A modified Christmas Santa party will be held within the confines of the safety and distancing guidelines. I appreciate the determination of our volunteers to keep on with all the 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.
Let us pray for peace on earth, especially in these days when violence and terrorism are exploding everywhere. Even in the time of the first Christmas, Herod the Tyrant killed all 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.
Of course, most of our Mass and Christmas-related services will be streamed live. This way you can attend Mass, receive spiritual Communion or even a physical Communion should you choose to come to the Church parking lot after Mass. Please contact the church in advance if you would like to receive communion after Liturgy. A Mass attendance signup on the website and Facebook will be required this year for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses in an effort to stay within the attendance limits. We thank you for your understanding and compliance and respect of the safety and health measures.
God bless you all. Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and blessed New Year for you and your families.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Copyright (c) 2021 Holy Family Maronite Church, St Paul. (v2101.01)