The Birthday of Jesus
December 23, 2012 would like to remember first those in our community who have left this world, and this Christmas are looking at us from above. May these loved ones accompany us today, and may the Lord give consolation to their families, in the certain hope that we will be together again.
The Church is always full at Christmas. Full of people who keep Christ in Christmas, but not only that. People who come to Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, keep not only “Christ”, but they also keep the “Mass”. We have people who understand that Christmas has no meaning if we don’t go to Mass. Most of you are probably so busy today: family coming from other towns or even other countries, the cooking of last things, the last preparations for Christmas Dinner, something you have forgotten, etc.
But today you are here, because it is the Birthday of Jesus. We cannot celebrate his birthday if we don’t come to Church to say “Happy Birthday”. We cannot celebrate Jesus’ birthday if we don’t bring him a present. What is your gift today? Your gift is your presence, your gift is your love for Jesus, your gift is the sacrifice of your time in the middle of so many activities. And Jesus is so happy about that. If I were Jesus I would say “Thank you for coming, thank you for your presence, you really make my Birthday different”.
In the celebration of the birthday of Jesus there is always food. We come to receive communion. That’s why so many people keep the sound custom of making their confession in this time, either before or after Christmas, because they want to be ready to receive Jesus. How beautiful it is to see that more and more people approach with confidence the sacrament of confession!
But this Christmas at St. Michael’s is not only the birthday of Jesus. We are also celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the Parish. For this reason I would like today, as it were, to picture our parish. We will try to realize how many gifts we have received from Jesus in our community this year, and through our thanksgiving, we will give them back to Jesus. This is our present, Jesus, the beautiful community that you have given us.
There are so many groups, and “job positions” for everyone. Young Altar Servers, who are champions in soccer and serve Mass every Sunday. Adult Altar Servers, who help us especially at funerals and other Masses. Catholic Women’s League, Knights of Columbus and Ladies Auxiliaries, who contribute to the parish not only with a variety of fundraising activities, but also in works of charity, promotion of culture, promotion of life, and most of all, the witness of a Christian life lived in fellowship and commitment to the Church. The Legion of Mary, that among many activities visit the sick and the elderly, and also visit the schools to pray the Rosary with our children. Others such as Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, Ushers, who contribute to the beauty and order of our liturgies are part or our parish team, along with the Altar Linen Society, which takes care of the cleaning and renewal of everything in our church. The group of Cursillo, the Third Order of the IVE, the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, groups that foster fellowship and spiritual growing in their members, among other activities, works of charity, etc.
Are you interested in helping the poor and the needy in our community? St. Vincent De Paul Society is your institution. Do you want to become a Sister? We have the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada in our parish. Are you ready to share your faith with others? Join our Catechesis team, for adults and children.
The committees of the Parish are also welcoming new help. The property committee, which last year took care of great projects like the Boiler’s replacement and the restoration of the beautiful stain glass window of St. Stephen, among others. The fund raising committee, who raised money towards those projects, and among other things organized the beautiful Christmas concert and a Gala dinner this year. The Cemetery Board and the Finance Committee, taking care of delicate and important issues for the life of the parish in such a wonderful way. People are welcome. And I have to thank also our staff for all the help received from them.
In our church, there is also a place for the musicians. We have three choirs, Adult, Folk Choir, and the Children’s Choir, who recorded a CD this year. We are so proud of our young people! By the way, we count in our community four Catholic schools, which are so supportive of our initiatives, concerts, and who are so careful in the preparation for the celebration of the sacraments. There is a Youth Group: soccer, movies, trips, reflection, prayer, and pizza…
I will not mention all the activities that all these groups have organized throughout the year, but let me mention two special activities that were taken care by two special committees: a beautiful parish photo album, and a dinner of celebration in Victoria Hall. Many individual parishioners have made also important donations and restorations for the Parish. I am sure I am still forgetting someone… How could I mention all the names…
My Christmas Message is a message of thanksgiving for this 175th Anniversary. It is an invitation to all those who are not yet involved in our parish community to consider all the possibilities of doing good to others in our community. To consider the possibility of entering a new family, the family of St. Michael’s Church, in which all are welcome as brothers and sisters.
The Feast of the Holy Family
Looking at the Holy Family, we see the love, the protection, and the diligent care that they gave to Jesus our Redeemer. Devotion to the Holy Family began in Bethlehem, when with the birth of the Baby Jesus the shepherds came to adore the child and give honour to the family. Later, the three wise men also came from the East to adore and give honour to the newborn King with gifts that would be safeguarded by His family. Today’s celebration demonstrates Christ’s humility and obedience honouring the fourth commandment, and highlights the loving care that His parents exercised in the care of Him. Therefore, the feast of the Holy Family speaks to us of the loving care that we must give the Body of Christ. Almost intuitively, one can recognize that the mysterious, exemplary, guardianship enacted by Joseph was conducted firstly, in a yet more intimate way, by Mary. Consequently, the liturgical feast of the Holy Family speaks to us of the fond and loving care that we must render to the Body of Christ. We can understand this in a mystical sense, as guardians of the Church, and also in the Eucharistic sense. Mary and Joseph took great care of Jesus’ physical body. Following their example, we can and must take great care of His Mystical Body, the Church, and the Eucharist which He has entrusted to us. As Mary and Joseph, withheld nothing, in caring for His physical body we must care for His Eucharistic Body. No amount of attention, love, and adoring respect will ever be too much. We can only ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, for a greater love for their Son Incarnate, who has decided to remain here on earth with us every day until the end of time. –P.F.