Dear brothers and sistersin Jesus our Lord,
One more year of our lives is history. It was a challenging year. It put everyone under a test and set new priorities in the lives of all of us. Distancing, masks, sanitizers, solitude, quarantine, lock down, drive thru, take outs, all of this became the "new" life style, including masses streaming on Facebook and drive-thru Communion. Virtual meetings via Zoom became essentials for Church life. Many chose to attend Mass virtually surrounded by family, transforming one family room to a small Chapel with a small altar with a rosary, candles, and an icon of the Cross. Not only were liturgies live-streamed, but also funerals, weddings, some baptisms and other occasions. Thank God we started getting prepared for the new technology at the end of 2019, well before last March. We were creative in inventing new ways to preserve our traditions and faith in this sad time of Coronavirus. With your help and assistance, Holy Family was and is able to survive these trying times. We never stopped. We continued with the major activities.
We are asked to pray for all the elderly and the sick and suffering not only from COVID-19 but cancer and all other illnesses and despair due to isolation. They wish they could attend mass at Church. I suggest to our healthy parishioners that they take advantage of their healthy situation, say thank God and attend mass once or twice a month at Church. This may help them stay in touch with friends and fellow parishioners. Our mass attendance is well below the stated limit and very safe.
The New Year celebration brings attention to the concept of time, history, past, present and future. It causes one to think about aging: childhood, teen years, adulthood, and senior age. It reminds us that we are getting older and must wait for the surprises of the future while hoping that the Lord keeps us safe and healthy. New Year reminds us that Jesus is the center of history. He is the reference center. History with Jesus became BC and AD, where BC is before Christ and AD is Anno Domini (The Year of the Lord). All history is based on just one date. All other dates are either before (BC) or after (AD). This one year is the year zero AD of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus. All our birthday, baptisms, confirmations, First Communions, weddings and deaths have their dates, and the common point of them all is that they are all based on the year of the Nativity of the Lord. How blessed are we to have all human kind history based on the date of the Nativity of Jesus.
The question of time and age flashes in our mind when thinking about a lost year. Losing a beloved member of family, makes us think about the reality of life. We remember our departed and beloved ones in our daily and weekend liturgies. As our Lord Jesus said, whosoever eats my Body and drinks my Blood will earn eternal life, and who believes in me and gets baptized will have eternal life. On the other hand, when a new family member is born, he or she brings joy and happiness to the family. We ask Jesus in the New Year 2021 of His Nativity, to keep us in hope and faith to witness His Love and Grace, hoping that this year will be for His glory.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend a word of thanks to all Holy Family parishioners and friends who have showed a great generosity and trust toward me, the unworthy servant of the parish, in this season of Christmas and New Year, by sending me beautiful Christmas cards and gifts. I consider this generosity as a kind gesture and I hope to always fulfill my duties in the service of the parish. I would like to thank all church groups, especially the church councils, the Ladies Society, the Merri-Nites, Faith Formation, the Choir, Men’s Club, the decoration and maintenance groups, and Carolyn, the church secretary, for all the efforts and contributions you constantly show for the church and parish. I would also like to thank our many contributors and donors who made so many church projects possible. God bless you all. A very special thank you to the church choir who, despite the impossibility of holding a Christmas concert, did a wonderful job of recording some Christmas songs for streaming online. I also would like to commend the MYO youth group for making a video production of a virtual Christmas play which included a wonderful message from the gospels, especially the Gospel of Saint Luke. God bless our MYO group. Check the church’s website to view.
Holy Family Maronite Catholic Church has always been known as a place of faith, hope, charity and true love. As one family, the parish works to build these virtues in its members and witness the love and peace of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic Church declared the first day of the year to be consecrated to pray for peace in the world. Let us pray in this day for peace in the world, especially in the tormented countries throughout world such as the Holy Land and the Middle East, and especially Lebanon, the last Christian stronghold in the Middle East, which is still surviving surrounded by an ocean of darkness and extremism and violence. May the Light of the Lord, shine upon this part of the world, and in all countries and nations. May the Lord Jesus keep the USA in peace and prosperity.
On January 6, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. Liturgy will include the ritual of the blessing of the water. During January we also dedicate one week of prayer for church unity. Let us pray for the unity of the diverse and rich traditions and spirituality of the church under one shepherd, the successor of Peter, His Holiness Pope Francis, and his evangelization teachings and guidance. At the same time we pray for his beatitude Maronite Cardinal Bechara Peter of Antioch, and to our bishop Elias and all the bishops of the true faith. May the Lord guide their steps.
On behalf of the entire parish, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Chorbishop Sharbel Maroun whose birthday, Priesthood Ordination and elevation to the degree of Monsignor and then Chorbishop, were all held on January 6 of the respective years.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Copyright (c) 2021 Holy Family Maronite Church, St Paul. (v2102.03)