Christmas 2016 was a wonderful celebration in Our Lady Crowned. The church was truly beautiful thanks to all who decorate, maintain and keep it clean so lovingly. The music and singing was wonderful thanks to all our choirs and musicians. Thanks to all our ministers of the Word and Eucharist who serve throughout the year. Thanks to all the church collectors and counters for their dedication and loyalty. Our church was so welcoming thanks to different parish groups who welcome people at the church door. Our church is blessed with so many people who work quietly and voluntarily. Thanks to all our parish groups and parish ministries who give of their time and talents to assist the parish. Everything ‘comes together’ at Christmas time and it is great to see. It is when people gather together in our church that we experience the presence of God with a sense of parish and community. May God bless you and your families.
The words of the first reading on this Sun. Jan 1st and New Year’s Day are beautiful: ‘May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.’ This Sunday’s second reading is equally beautiful: ‘If God has made you a son, then He has made you heir’ These are beautiful words from the scriptures and such a prayerful blessing with good wishes to all in our parish and community. Also, new year greetings to all family members in different parts of the world. May they be blessed with the care and protection of Mary the Mother of God on this, her feast day. Please God, we can all make a fresh start to face our many challenges with faith and courage in 2017.
Dear Father, two thousand years ago, you brought your son, Jesus into this world to teach us the power of love and sacrifice. As we raise this tree, we remember His birth and the meaning of His life for us. Bless this tree as a symbol of our celebration of Jesus' birth and our gratitude for His sacrifice. May the light and joy which this tree brings soften the pain and sadness of those who have been bereaved by the sudden death or tragic suicide of a loved one. May the words spoken and the songs sung here break the silence of suicide and the heartbreak of the those bereaved. We ask your blessings upon our loved ones, this Christmas and always. Amen. (Fr. Michael)
While December has been very wet and dark and while it can be a difficult time for so many, we still hope and pray for better times this Christmas and new year. Please God, we can all celebrate Christmas well next weekend. The presence of the newborn infant in our church crib on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning will put a smile on our faces as well. Our faces can be tired and worn from the events of life and of the past year. Perhaps this year someone is absent from your house? We lovingly remember those who have died during 2016. Perhaps, due to a disagreement, someone will be somewhere else this year and that brings sadness. A member of the family has gone abroad and despite Skype etc, they are away from us. Jesus is the ‘Emmanuel’, God-with-us. Truly believe that God is with you in your sadness and loneliness. Truly believe that God is in your joys and happiness. Perhaps there is a new baby or grandchild since this time last year. Perhaps there has been the joy of a wedding in the family. Perhaps someone has come home as a surprise? This year, we put our lives and hearts in front of the Infant Jesus and we humbly ask God’s blessings. May you all have a happy and a blessed Christmas 2016.
Advent begins on this Sun. Nov. 27th. Indeed, the season of Advent will extend for four full weeks in 2016 as Christmas Day falls on a Sunday as well. Please God, Advent will be a prayerful time this year. During the past week, much of the Christmas excitement has commenced. ‘Black Friday’ has become a major commercial event marking the beginning of Christmas which was once reserved to the Holyday on Dec. 8th. However, many people and families in our community cannot enjoy this ‘commercial season’ because of the stress of life and the challenge to provide for children and family. Certainly, we can do much to help other children and families and particularly through the St. Vincent DePaul Society locally and nationally. Please God, we can use the coming weeks well to prepare spiritually realizing that not everything is immediate and the birth of Jesus is profoundly important for all our families and our parish.