Happy New Year! Today we begin a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent. It is easy to tell the change in seasons: The church is adorned with a different dominant color (purple), the Advent wreath with the four candles for each of the Sundays is visible for all to see, and for the first time in almost two years, we have “Breaking Bread” books in our pews!
What does Advent mean to you? Is it about buying Christmas gifts, decorating your home/yard for Christmas, and listening to Christmas music? That may be a part of it. I don’t want to sound like Scrooge, but there is much more to Advent. Maybe this year we can prayerfully prepare for the coming of Jesus through our Advent worship. The color of purple in the vestments worn by Father and the deacons signifies a penitential season. To prepare for Christmas, it is my sincere hope that we prepare our hearts and souls first. One of the simplest yet most effective ways of doing this is to experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Advent. This year, we have a Community Penance Service scheduled for Thursday, December 9 at 6:30pm. We will have several priests on hand to help each of us to experience the incredible forgiveness of our sins through Jesus’ love and grace in this Sacrament. I hope you will block off that evening to be here and feel His forgiveness! There will also be other opportunities here throughout Advent to experience this wonderful Sacrament.
The readings you will hear on these four Sundays leading up to Christmas will have a common theme: Preparing the way of the Lord. Maybe this Advent we can prepare for Christmas as if it were the first Christmas over 2000 years ago. Doing so can’t help but make celebrating the birth of Jesus so much more meaningful! May we get ourselves into the “Christmas spirit” by first getting ourselves into the “Advent spirit”!
- Deacon Jeff
A Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!
This is a weekend of thanksgiving because of what we celebrate this week and because as we end the liturgical year we celebrate the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Notice that: King of the Universe! Not king of Heaven and earth, but the King of Everything!
How many times do you look at your life and think you have total control of what is happening? It happens more than we realize. We necessarily plan for the future; sometimes, we plan for many decades away. That’s not a bad thing. But ultimately are we in control of what may be happening even tomorrow? Of course not, but we sure think we are so many times!
Maybe a way to look at the future is this: Here is my plan (whatever it is), God willing. If God wills it, your plans may very well come to fruition. But if God wills differently, it is that lack of control that we must consider and understand that Jesus is truly the King of the Universe! God’s plans are not always our plans, as I’m sure many of you understand.
It is my sincere privilege to serve everyone here at Prince of Peace and I consider it to be one of the great blessings in my life. I hope you can take time to thank God for the blessings you have in your life, even if it seems the struggles outweigh the blessings. We are all blessed by God in some way. So take the time as you gather with others to thank God this week!
- Deacon Jeff
As many of you already know, I was quarantined for 10 days recently, having been tested positive for Covid-19. My symptoms were very similar to a minor cold, which normally would not have curtailed any daily activities. However, in the environment which we currently live, quarantining is what I needed to do to keep this parish at large safe. Being tested in the first place was done only because of all of you; I certainly did not feel ill enough to be tested but thought it would be in the best interest of each one of you.
Anyway, all of this gave me pause to reflect during this time on a lot of things and I’d like to share just a few of those thoughts with you. First, I am very grateful to God for my health and for Mary’s health as well. We all know of someone who has been very ill from Covid; I happen to know lots of people just because of my duties here. For neither of us to be ill speaks of three things to me: 1) Being reasonably healthy for our age, 2) being vaccinated and 3) most of all, trusting in God that IF we do the right things regarding this virus God will indeed take care of us. I have said this last point right from the onset of Covid last year and I continue to believe it with all my heart. We cannot shut out God from our lives, which also includes so intricately the reception of the Eucharist.
Second, I am so very blessed to be able to serve all of you here at Prince of Peace! In all my years of work, this has been the most labor-intensive job I’ve ever had, yet you have made it the greatest joy of my life! For that I am very grateful and blessed by our Lord!
Finally, although my frustration level was at an all-time high during that 10-day period (being stuck at home even though I felt fine), I am so very blessed to be a part of the wonderful group of employees and volunteers who serve you here at POP. There are lots of friendships we develop during our school/work years, but the friendships I have made here will most certainly be life-long!
May we all continue to pray for an end to this virus, and most of all have an unfailing trust in our God of the Universe!
- Deacon Jeff
In my opinion, we live in a society today where we are ultra-judgmental of everyone and every situation. Yet “sin” is apparently not a part of our lives. We have a wonderful, powerful sacrament in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Yet very few people take advantage of God’s healing forgiveness. So why is that?
First of all, what is sin? I believe it is simply turning away from God or separating ourselves from God for at least that moment. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen had this to say on the topic of sin back in the 1970’s: “Sin is not the worst thing in the world. The worst thing in the world is the denial of sin.”
If we deny there is sin, or say to ourselves, “Well, I don’t do anything too serious; I’m sure God forgives me,” we are making us and not God the Judge. What is it that keeps us away from asking God for forgiveness? Is it pride? Well, that’s a sin, too! And what about our loved ones who have gone before us? Do we believe they are with God and all the saints in Heaven? If you are like me, you would certainly say a resounding “yes”! Yet, we need to pray for them as well! If they are in Heaven, our prayers will be redirected to someone in need; they won’t be wasted!
Sin is most definitely a part of our world. Satan is a part of our world. The sacraments are here for us to receive God’s grace and they are a true gift. Do you want to ignore, or worse yet reject God’s love for you? Think about it and open yourself to God’s incredible grace!
- Deacon Jeff