ADVENT PENANCE SERVICES
Advent is certainly one of those times when it is good to check where we are in our spiritual lives. Celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation is a great way to direct our lives more clearly to the ways of goodness and God. Communal celebrations of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance, Confession) will be offered on Sunday, December 11 at Beloved Disciple in Grove City at 2:00 pm, on Tuesday, December 13 at Good Shepherd in West Middlesex at 7:00 pm, on Thursday, December 15 at St. Joseph in Sharon at 7:00 pm and on December 20 at Notre Dame in Hermitage at 7:00 pm. You are welcome to attend any one of these services.
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY
Thursday, December 8, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and a holyday. Masses will be at 8:00 am and 7:00 pm.
CHRISTMAS TREE MEMORIALS
Someone asked about memorializing loved ones with one of the Christmas Trees. There is an envelope in your packet to memorialize your loved ones with Christmas Flowers, but nothing for the Christmas Trees. There are typically 8 or 10 trees in the Church and Chapel. For a $75 donation you can memorialize one of those trees. If you could place your donation and the names of those you wish to memorialize in an envelope and send it to the parish office, we will take the first 10 donors. Names will be listed in the Christmas Flower memorial we publish.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Last year we hosted a comedy night which included dinner and three different comedians. It was truly a night of clean humor and good fun. This year we will hold the event on Friday, January 20, with dinner at 6:00 PM and the show beginning at 7:30 PM. Tickets will be on sale soon.
REFLECTIONS ON THE READING
The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent give us the wonderful image of peace from the prophet Isaiah and the stark reminder from John the Baptist that peace doesn’t come easy, or without change within our own hearts. But even more, this image of peace may seem like just a lot of words when we are experiencing darkness or fear in our own lives. But each week during Advent we light a fragile flame on our wreath as we prepare to welcome the very vulnerable person of Jesus into our lives. His message was one of love, forgiveness, healing and hope for all people, and that is not always accepted on Wall Street, in our places of work, in the international dealings of those with power and those without power; it is at times not even the message we as Christians live by, because it does challenge us to be vulnerable, just as Jesus was. And that is very risky.
Doris Donnelly, a mother and a theologian maybe summarizes this as only a mother can do in this season: “The readings of the Second Sunday of Advent remind me of a sense of concern which pervaded pregnancy for me. It was a concern about the world into which my child would be born. It was a peace wish and a justice wish that made me think (and still think) that if we mothers…black, white, yellow…if all of us would unite and tell the makers of war that we resent and will not tolerate any force that tries to undo what we have knitted together so patiently in the womb for nine months – if we did that, I believe that we would ensure peace from generation to generation. By extension, if we as members of the pregnant mystical body of Christ did this, made known our concerns by our seeds of justice and deeds of peacemaking, the promise of the Second Sunday of Advent would come true… Advent is the only future worth waiting for.”
This Second Sunday of Advent God promises us peace. That means we must look to God, and not merely to our human efforts, for this peace. Maybe John the Baptist’s call to repent, to metanoia, to change, is our way of assisting the process of bringing about God’s peace by turning our lives more earnestly to the ways of God. Maybe we need to put an ax to our resentments and biases that are rooted in our hearts; to ease up on our greed and overindulgence; maybe we need to be more patient with our impatience. John’s challenge may be to let go of our importance, swallow our pride, and refrain from demanding our rights. Maybe the peace of Advent comes when we foster a more genuine concern for others – not just those in our own families, but even more so for our enemies. These are indeed difficult things to do, but they are in fact the things God is encouraging us to do in order to find real peace. A God who is even willing to send us his Son in order to visibly teach us how we can do it and who will be willing to be vulnerable enough to offer his very life in order that we might find the peace God intends for us. May our Advent journey leads us to find this peace.