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Reections for the Seasons of  Advent and Christmas 2016-2017

From the Worshipping Community of Holy Family Retreat Center


Dear Friends, With the celebration of the Magi we have come to the end of our journey to Bethlehem. Now we go beyond the warmth of the stable into a new year and the beginning of another journey of life and love as a community of faith. Next week with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we will bring the Christmas season to a close and begin a period we call “Ordinary Time” – something we desperately need after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. May our “Ordinary Time” be a respite of sorts, a time to step back and retreat into the “light of simplicity” that we all crave at times. May it be a time of peace for our families and our nation – a time to be quiet and be grateful for the blessings of God in our lives – a time to share those blessings where we find the opportunity. Thank you all for your contributions to this inspiring and heart-felt book of reflections from the Holy Family Community. It is truly an offering of love, a work of art and gesture of our common faith. I am so impressed and proud to be a part of such a vibrant and loving family of faith. Peace and blessings to all of you in 2017! Fr. David Cinquegrani, C.P.   

“Come…Follow Me”

When we reflect on the season of Advent, we often recall the hymns and carols associated with this special time. The word that stands out in many of them is “Come,” as in “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Advent is a time when we ask God to come into our lives bringing the gifts of peace, hope and joy. However, we have to remember that our prayers are really two-way conversations: us expressing our needs, desires and praise to God and God responding to us. While we ask God to “come” to us, God is asking the same thing of us: “Come…follow me.” (see MaHhew 4:18-22)

The challenge for this Advent season is not just to present our requests to God, but also to accept God’s return invitation to us: come, follow my ways as my disciples.

Bill Carroll


November 27 Reading

Ma3hew 24:37-44 Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

January 8

Reflection

Have you ever been somewhere when it was dark enough to see a million stars? It’s breathtaking. The Magi saw that kind of sky almost every night. They had no city lights, no maps. Only stars -- and trust in their own intuition. So it wasn’t hard for them to notice when a particular star was extra bright – and moving! Nature was their guide. They trusted it and their intuition – and let that star lead them to another special source of Light they would adore. They walked in the dark but they were led by the Light and adored. Who or what brings you to a place of adoration? Is it a star? A person? An event? Is it in the dark or in the light? Hopefully it will be breathtaking, too. Sr. Pat Schmidt, DW

Epiphany of the Lord In Epiphania Domini Missa 'Ecce Advenit’


January 8 Reading

Ma3hew 2:1,2,7-12 After Jesus’ birth – which happened in Bethlehem of Judea .… astrologists from the East arrived in Jerusalem and asked Herod, “Where is the newborn ruler of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay homage.” .… In Bethlehem of Judea, Herod was told. Herod called the astrologists aside and found out from them the exact time of the star’s appearance. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, after instructing them, “Go and get detailed information about the child. When you have found him, report back to me – so that I may go and offer homage too.” After their audience with the ruler, they set out. The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child lay. They were overjoyed at seeing the star and upon entering the house, found the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and paid homage. Then they opened their coffers and presented the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their country by another route.

November 27 Reflection

In our 24-7 news cycle, we hear every day of natural disasters, war, killings, accidental deaths and bad things happening to good people. As people of faith, we can and do get through the most trying of times. The key words for us in this reading? Stay awake! Be prepared. The Advent season is a time of preparation. Jesus could return at any time. Also – your time could end suddenly without warning. Live your life well, pleasing to God. Stay awake! Be prepared for this Advent season and for what follows; the birth of our Savior! Tom Drago


January 7

November 28

Reflection

Reading

Ma3hew 8:5-11 When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”

At the wedding at Cana, Jesus’s mother propelled Him forward in fulfilling his Holy mission, telling Him, “they have no wine,” and then instructing the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus replied to his mother, “My hour has not yet come,” which makes me wonder if He was not yet ready to face being revealed as the Messiah, and that which was ahead of Him, His passion and death; or, perhaps He was expecting a prompt from the Father or the Holy Spirit.

Do I listen when I am being called, and do I listen to what I am being called to do? Do I follow God’s Word? This passage reassures me that Mary understands our needs and intercedes for us, and that Jesus listens to His mother. He loves His mother so much, He can’t refuse her. Imagine what this means for us! We have a powerful and wonderful advocate. Jesus does not turn the water into just any wine, but rather the best wine. Mary is directing us to trust and to follow her son’s teachings. In doing so, our reward will be great; Jesus will provide for us, and our wine will be beder than we can imagine. Heather Warren Wedding at Cana, in the Visitation Church Ein Kerem, Israel


January 7

Reading

John 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

November 28

Reflection Today’s gospel reminds us to TRUST in God. The man explains to Jesus that his servant is struggling and needs help. Although Jesus offers His help, the man declines noting He just needs to say the word and the servant will listen. It seems he has his servant well trained to “listen and respond.” How about us? Are we that disciplined when it comes to God? Do we just listen and respond? Not always, and that’s okay! Jesus often speaks the nondualistic language of “both/and.” Things can be both good and bad, simple and complicated, etc. If we just “listen” and respond to Jesus without contemplation, we may “do good things” and could also end up like robots! All too often we listen to what the Church (or other institutions or even scripture) tell us and we blindly follow. I don’t think that is what Jesus calls us to. My favorite writer, Richard Rohr, says: “We come to God not by doing it right but by doing it wrong.” God can handle our resistance, probably expects it! And then, when we tire…we can collapse into the arms of God and say…”I get it now. I can’t do this alone. I need You. I trust You. I want You. Help me.”

Charleen Miele


November 29 Reading

Luke 10:21-24 Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

January 6

Reflection

Jesus' Baptism is one of the epiphanies where God reveals Himself to mankind. Every time we baptize someone, God reveals Himself to us in sacrament by grace through the person being baptized. Baptism is a joyous moment when even witnesses of the sacrament know the power of God and are joyful to see God revealed through a new Child of Christ. The next time you adend Baptism, try to truly witness the Sacrament in all its beauty. Peter DePaola Jr. and Lisa Muscanell-DePaola


January 6 Reading

Mark 1:7-11 This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: "One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

November 29 Reflection

This Gospel reading presents the idea that not just the sophisticated or the intelligent are the ones who see God, but also the less sophisticated and the children. To see God, we can’t look for Him and seek Him out but instead we will be shown Him when we are willing and ready. It’s when you desire to see God that you do not see Him. Jesus said to the disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not want to see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Children signify innocence and purity and as a result, the light of God shines in them and through them. This reading reminds me of Christmases past and my belief in Santa. At six, I didn’t know as much as I know now as a 21-year-old and with that brought pure happiness and no speculation. To children, God is everything perfect in the world. With this, children like myself also believed that Santa was this amazing person; an image of goodness. It’s with such things as social influences and our growing intellectual minds that the extra nonsense creeps into our lives, causing the skepticism that often keeps us from truly seeing God and remaining open to His message. To see God is to see the good in the world and the glass half full. Children are the purest example of those who exhibit this view. Maggie Kenna


November 30

January 5

Reading

Reflection

“I saw you under the fig tree.” Ma3hew 4:18-22 As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

It’s an interchange that doesn’t make sense. Jesus is gathering disciples, has found Phillip, who invites Nathanael. Nathanael responds derisively, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” “Come and see,” says Phillip. When they meet up with Jesus, he calls Nathanael a “true Israelite,” in whom there “is no duplicity.” “How do you know me?” “I saw you under the fig tree.” “Rabbi, you are the son of God.” Huh?? What could this possibly mean? Let’s start with the tree. Certain trees have cultural significance: apple - the fall, evergreen - hope in resurrection, oak - fidelity. For first century Jews, the fig tree was a symbol of Israel and messianic peace, as well as a common place of prayer, especially for young rabbinic students. And what would those prayers have included? – a prayer for the coming of the Messiah. So Jesus implies that Nathanael had been praying for the coming of the Savior, who stands before him now. The True Israelite makes the leap and declares that Jesus is King. What does it mean for us? I was once in Trader Joe’s with my ND athlete son, with legs like trees. A lady came up to us and said, “I was with my grandchildren and we saw you going in. ‘Look at the size of his calves, Gram. And he eats vegetables!’.” Follow your path faithfully, trust in God, be a true Israelite, and Christ will recognize you. And others will recognize Christ in you. You can be a model without ever knowing you have been seen “under the fig tree.”

Pam Hardiman


January 5

Reading

John 1:43-51 Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him." Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

November 30 Reflection

A simple request? I think not! The words of Jesus to the four disciples must have taken them by surprise but yet there was no hesitation in their response…”at once they left their nets” and “immediately they left their boat.” By following Jesus, they came to know his mission and his message. Their faith and trust empowered them to preach the word of Jesus and thereby transform the lives of the early believer and become fishers of men. We, also, must be believers and open to the love of Jesus in our hearts with the same faith and trust. It has been said that faith is a verb and, by that definition, acting on that love is truly faith in action. Our journey, called life, is full of faith experiences if we just look, pray and acknowledge Christ in our lives. Do not be afraid to pass on your beliefs to others and act on them. Demonstrate for all to see how the importance of faith can improve one’s life. We all have doubts but through prayer we can ask for wisdom and guidance. Look for Jesus in scripture, in each other and especially in the Eucharist. Choose faith, trust and love…it’s that simple! May the peace of the Christ child be with each of us! Jacquie Warren


December 1

January 4

Ma3hew 7 24-25 Anyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a sage who built a house on rock. When the rainy season set in, the torrent came and the winds blew and buffeted the house. It didn’t collapse because it had been set solidly on rock.

Just days after the birth of Christ, we already hear in today's Gospel from John, Jesus referred to by other names. Here, we hear that He is the Lamb of God, Rabbi, and the Messiah. We learn that Rabbi means teacher. With Jesus' unceasing love and unconditional forgiveness, there is no greater teacher than He himself. We must be teachers ourselves and teach Jesus' ways to our family and friends through our words and actions. Loving God, we pray that Jesus' teachings will show us the way to compassion, peace, forgiveness, and love throughout our lives. Amen. Christina Cellucci

Reading

Reflection


January 4

Reading

John 1:35-42 John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah," which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas," which is translated Peter.

December 1 Reflection

An Advent Conversation Self: Holy One, today’s Gospel invites me to reflect and to see if my life is wisely built on a strong foundation. On rock. So that I will withstand the inevitable rains. God: And, in New England, the snow and the cold as well. Self: Sometimes it feels like there’s one problem after another. God: I’ve observed that too. One problem after another. Self: But, remember, it’s Advent. A time for hope. God: Hope is good. Self: I have reason to hope. After all, in Jesus, You took on our humanity. You came near. You are with me in in the rain and in the cold. God: I am with you in the rain and in the cold. I am always with you. I am within you and all around you. Always. Self: Is that the strong foundation I need? To know that you are with me, always. God: It is. I am with you, within you, and all around you. In the rain and in the cold. During good times, too, like the Christmas holidays. I am with you. And, I will never leave you. Never. I am within you and all around you, through the rain and the cold, through all the struggles of life. Self: You are always with me. Remembering that is what Advent is about. You are my strong foundation. My Rock. God: Indeed. Mary Beth Johnston and Monica Shea


December 2 Readings

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 27: 1.4 12-14 R. The Lord is my light and my salvation. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? R. The Lord is my light and my salvation. One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple. R. The Lord is my light and my salvation. I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD. R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Gospel Ma3hew 9: 27-31 As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.

January 3

Reflection

“Beloved, we are God’s children now.”

Think about being a child of God. As a child, I remember people who knew my parents making statements like, “Oh, you look just like your Mom or Dad” or “You are so much like your parents.” Even as a parent today, I have heard people say these things about my own children. In a family, you often pick up characteristics and adributes of people in your own family because of the amount of time you spend with them. It is the same with God as our Father. The more time we spend with our Father in worship, prayer, study, caring for others, etc… the more we become like Him, like Jesus. Puding Jesus at the center of our lives means our character and nature will be perfected into the image of Jesus’ perfection. Liz Getz


January 3 Reading

1 John 2:29-3:6 If you consider that God is righteous, you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness is begoden by him. See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him.

December 2 Reflections

Responsorial Psalm “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” We get a bit choked up when we hear this phase, especially when it is sung by our awesome Holy Family choir. Although the word “salvation” is used throughout much of the responsorial, we don’t view it as about the afterlife, as much as a “way of being” in this life. As members of body of Christ, we are called to bring His light to this world by striving to alleviate the suffering of others and being forever grateful for the beauty and bounty of His creation.

The Gospel In the Gospel we see a spiritual awakening fostered by a faith that Jesus can change our lives. The faith that we have in Jesus, His way of life, His forgiveness, His steadfastness and His abiding love for us should propel us to live a life following His example. Loving others as ourselves, caring for the earth, helping when called upon and faithfully knowing that Jesus is by our side. Jim and Beth Malley


December 3

January 2

Mathew: 9: 35B-10:1, 5A, 6-8 Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Shakepeare’s words, “To thine own self be true” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3) echo the messages in today’s readings.

Reflection

Reading

The core message in JN 2:22-28 is to trust ourselves and listen to our inner instincts. Deep inside we all know what is right and who we are. We must always trust our innate sense of right & wrong, a seed planted deep within us by God. Our job in life is to fertilize this seed and grow the God-Christ within us. Tune in daily to God’s messages. Life will challenge us with people and situations aiming to get us off the path of truth and justice. These are voices of deception. We need to listen to, and never give up on our true inner selves. God is the source of our genuine Truth.

Today’s Gospel (JN 1:19-28) builds on this theme. Being true to ourselves also means not pretending to be someone we are not. We must prepare to make room for Christ by opening ourselves up to hearing the Divine message through our own inner voices. As we embody the Truth and Goodness of Christ, like John the Baptist, we will become His reflection in this world. We all encounter the desert in our lives---but we are never deserted by the Lord who hears our cries for help.

As we begin a New Year, the wisdom in these readings can guide us to a fuller, more centered life. Recognize the Lord in your life, open yourself up to embrace and internalize His message, and above all, “To thine own self be true.”

Diana Vigneau & Jake Britt


January 2 Reading

John 2:22-28; John 1:19-28 This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, "Who are you?" He admided and did not deny it, but admided, "I am not the Christ." So they asked him, "What are you then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?" He said: "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said." Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie." This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

December 3 Reflection

The Gospel calls on us to help troubled and abandoned people. As we heard and saw during the recent election cycle, many around us are crying out in need. While it is hard for us to imagine having the power to do the things that Jesus and the Apostles did, all of us can help those who feel marginalized and those who struggle. In this year of Mercy, we have seen and heard how to reach out to each other. We admire those in our community who have really extended themselves to the needy, but still wonder what we could do. Remind us, Lord, that in our own ways we can and do make a difference. Motivate us to take action - to commit the labor needed to reap the harvest. Your grace surrounds us and lifts us up, and your love is evident every day. Betty Ann and Paul Grady


December 4

January 1

Reading

Ma3hew 3:1-12 John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Reflection

‘Amazed’…I have always loved this word. I have just always loved the image it brings to my mind, my heart and my total reality. “All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.” It is the highest of highs – expectations met, prophesy completed. What the angles told the shepherd's became real – and they praised God. It seems odd that when we witness truth, we are ‘amazed.’ We could be expectant of it, and yet, we are amazed, our hearts filled. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” The Good News about Jesus is that He comes to all, including the plain and ordinary. He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept Him. He offers us new hearts that will last for eternity. He loves us just as we are. Through Him all things are possible. Today, may we be like Mary and reflect on the salvation that Jesus brings to the entire world – and be amazed! I pray that this New Year bring us all to a place of amazement that rings out ‘Alleluia!’ Karen Herbert


January 1

Reading

Luke 2:16-21 The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

December 4 Reflection

In the Gospel, John the Baptist was preaching in the desert of Judea. His role was to make people ready for Jesus. During the season of Advent, we are preparing for the birth of Jesus Christ. This relates to the Gospel because John was helping the people get their hearts ready by repenting and baptizing them so they could be forgiven of their sins. John was saying that just being a Jew didn’t make them “okay” with God. Just like for us when we think that just going to mass is enough and that we don’t sin. During Advent, while we await the birth of our Savior, we should show that we love and follow Christ every day! Tristan Buttimer (3rd grade) Edited by Mommy


December 5 Reading

Isaiah 35:1-10

The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water; The abode where jackals lurk will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus. A highway will be there, called the holy way; No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it. No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it. It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk. Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

December 31 Reflection

(Reading continued) because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only-begoden Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him. _______________________________________________

Today is the last day of the year, but a new year is coming. Take some time today to make some action plans to strengthen your relationship with God. What New Year’s resolutions will you embark on that strengthens your faith? When we rely on God and communicate with him daily, our lives are forever changed. John 1:3 says it best. “All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.” If we believe and involve God in every decision, God will make things happen. Without Him, it is a lonely journey and may be a difficult one. Krystina Gilhuly


December 31 Reading John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begoden Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me

December 5 Reflection The Desert

the landscape is dry and barren seemingly lifeless vast and empty harsh and life-threatening

the journey brings me to this landscape now and again

i enter this place of unknowing and uncertainty vulnerability and fearfulness loss and grief

i give my prayerful adention to my desert landscape

patiently observing my heart willing to wait my eyes searching for new life my soul knowing God is present

a rain comes perhaps gently, perhaps a torrent the rain is not of my making i can only receive it

blooms come sometimes in abundance they surprise me with their beauty often they are unexpected not what I had hoped for

new life comes I am astonished by beauty touched by grace what seemed so barren brings new life Andree Grafstein


December 6

Reading

Ma3hew 18:12-14 Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these lidle ones be lost.”

December 30 Reflection

The Gospel story today is a reminder for me that, even as a baby, the leaders feared Jesus and wanted him dead. It is also a good reminder of the important role Joseph played - how he was guided by angels to seek and find a safe home for his family in foreign lands, not once but twice. Jesus was both a refugee and an immigrant. Christmas is such a happy time in our church and in our American culture. I often forget that there was more hardship for that Holy Family beyond giving birth in a stable. On this sixth day of Christmas, I hope we can remember the struggles of the Holy Family as refugees fleeing for their lives in the middle of the night - thankful for the guidance from an angel, praying that God would protect them on their journey, and hopeful that God would help them find a safe place to raise their son. Jenny Cimmino

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December 6

December 30 Reading

Madhew 2:13-15, 19-23 When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son. When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazorean

Reflection

The Lost Sheep: What is Your Opinion?

The Lost Sheep parable immediately poses the question: “What is your opinion?” Let’s unpack the word “opinion.” Opinions – beliefs and/or judgments - are formed from our underlying experiences, feelings, and emotions. The invitation is to become more aware of how we each form our opinions and to then contemplate our opinion(s) from one or all of the differing perspectives:

1). The Good Shepard (responsible to protect and nurture all 100 sheep confronted with the decision to go after the one and leave the 99) - what might the Good Shepard be experiencing? - love, compassion, mercy, guilt, worry, conflict, responsibility… Who is the Good Shepard in your life?

2). One of the 99 sheep (left unadended by the Good Shepard who is out seeking the lost sheep) - are there conflicting feelings among the 99? - compassion for the lost sheep, empowerment by being trusted by the Good Shepard, abandonment, anger, jealousy… Are you one of the 99?

3). The lost sheep (alone and being sought out by the Good Shepard) – what might the lost sheep be experiencing? - confusion, disillusionment, fear, freedom, relief at being found, immense gratitude…Is this you? Someone you know? – gay, divorced, alone…

Consider the meaning of the parable in your life today. Andrea Lombard


December 7

December 29

Reading

Isaiah 40:25-31 To whom can you liken me as an equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these things: He leads out their army and numbers them, calling them all by name. By his great might and the strength of his power not one of them is missing! Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know or have you not heard? The LORD is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Reflection

Luke 2:35 “(And you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

God did not create evil; evil is the absence of good. Nevertheless, the existence of suffering remains a mystery. If God is Love, why doesn’t He spare his mother and us from suffering? Dear God, I do not come to You today to try to understand pain and suffering in the world, especially the suffering of the innocent, as well as my own suffering. I come to You to make an act of faith: I believe that You are good and if you allow suffering it is because You are intending to get a good out of it. I come to You to make an act of hope: I hope in Your goodness, and I believe that it will transform all evil and all suffering into pure joy. I come to You, above all, to make an act of love and trust. I might not understand why a sword pierced Mary’s heart, and why her suffering helps us revel the thoughts of our hearts, but I welcome and cherish her company as I walk through life.

Mary, because you know unimaginable pain, I can sit at your feet and weep when I suffer. Your motherly presence comforts me, and your eternal triumph, reminds me that when I cry the death of a loved one--of a mother, a wife, a husband or a child--I can expect God’s consolations to rebuild my life, and heal my heart.

Elena Sada


December 29 Reading

December 7 Reflection

Luke 2:22-35

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is wriden in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Where do you get your strength? When life gets difficult and challenging, when things are not going well at work or home, when you or a loved one face serious illness, do you look to God? This past summer many of us spent hours watching the Olympics. I marveled at the physical strength of the athletes. But even these strong young men and women occasionally stumbled and fell. But we have a strong and loving God who promises to give us the power to stay strong and not faint. And how is that possible? To help us understand, the scripture writer gives us the image of a powerful eagle soaring. Now I’ve never seen a real eagle in flight, but one day I saw a large hawk in the trees in my yard. It was quite large and what a wingspan! When it flew off, it seemed so effortless. The bird just soared on the wind currents. Once it was in the air, the bird seemed to just trust the wind currents to direct its path and carry it. Mary Marsan


December 8 Reading

Gen 3:9-15, 20; PS 98:1, 2-3; Ep 1:3-6,11-12; Luke 1:26-30 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

December 28 Reflection

This Gospel reading was extremely challenging for us to reflect upon. Should we focus on King Herod's apparent insecurities, which led to the massacre of male children two and under? Or focus on the absolute faith that Joseph displayed by moving his family to Egypt after being told to do so by an angel of The Lord? We felt the Gospel illustrated the power of power. Power, when used the right way, can do so much good. Yet, it can also corrupt and do so much evil. In this Gospel, Herod felt so threatened by the innocent infant Jesus, he basically was willing to do anything to retain his power. Had Herod only allowed Jesus to enter into his life, who knows what could have happened. He may have found that Jesus's power was no threat at all. Ronni and Paul D’Addabbo


December 28 Reading

Ma3hew 2:13-18 When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son. When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.

December 8 Reflection

The readings for today are related in a unique way.

The Genesis narrative lets us in to humanity’s first act of disobedience and loss of childlike innocence. Adam tries to pass the buck but Eve more credibly blames the serpent.

The responsorial psalm testifies that something is up God’s sleeve: Salvation has come through wondrous deeds; God’s kindness and faithfulness is revealed. How has that happened?

The reading from Ephesians, in its lofty and elegant style, tells us of the preexistent Christ. And shares that in “Him we were also chosen”…”so that we might exist for the praise of His glory.” In this way we are swept into salvation history by our birth and baptism.

Then Luke’s Gospel, wriden from Mary’s perspective, we see a complete turnaround from the Genesis account. A virgin birth, a distinct Christian teaching, brings the Preexistent One to share in our humanity. In the face of a scandalous situation, one even punishable by death, Mary is all in. She models quiet heroism, complete obedience and submission to the will of God in her response: “let it be done to me according to your word.” The Lord has sung a new song and has done marvelous deeds, indeed! Donald Da Ros


December 9 Reading

Isaiah 48:17-19 Thus says the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go. If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea; Your descendants would be like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains, Their name never cut off or bloded out from my presence. Responsorial Psalm Psalm 1: 1-2, 3, 4, 6 R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life. Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night.

December 27 Reflection

What’s been on your mind? Our hearts – and minds – are often distracted and troubled. No mader the stage of life, there are many things that vie for our adention – our aging parents, our young children, the election, a grinding job, how to pay for all those Christmas presents… But our Faith is supposed to bring us some solace and peace of mind. Jesus’ reassuring words are our guarantee that it will all work out, that there will be room for all. The trick is finding the bridge between then and now. Perhaps focusing on our interactions with each other – our parents, children, friends, the harried person behind the check-out counter – a hug, a kind word, a smile…keeping in mind that we are not in this alone. How do you slow down and ease your heart’s troubles? Diane and Patrick Klingman


December 27 Reading

John 20: 1A and 2-8 On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.

December 9 Reflection

Thirteen years ago my loving spouse was very ill and lost her fight with a rare disease within a few days. Our children and I came to realize that she followed the Lord in all the wonderful things she did for our large family and countless others so unselfishly. We know and believe she will forever have the Light of Life and we can only hope to reach that very Light someday ourselves and be together forever. Bill and Jan O’Meara

Stephania Dilion


December 26

December 10

Reflection

Reading

Psalm 80: 2AC and 3B, 15-16, 18-19 R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. O shepherd of Israel, hearken, From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power. R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. Once again, O LORD of hosts, look down from heaven, and see; Take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted the son of man whom you yourself made strong. R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. May your help be with the man of your right hand, with the son of man whom you yourself made strong. Then we will no more withdraw from you; give us new life, and we will call upon your name. R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

The day after Christmas – the memories are fresh: the gleam in the eyes of my grandchildren; and, of course, the sheer joy of having my wife, all of my children and grandchildren in one place celebrating a meal.

The joy, the happiness, the love is still with us, but the words of our Scriptures today do not speak of joy or happiness or love. Rather, the words are jarring and foreboding. They tell us of Stephen, the first martyr. “They threw him out of the city and began to stone him.”

The Gospel is equally troubling. “Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.”

How can we reconcile the image of a person being stoned with the celebration we shared with friends and families yesterday? And, how can we understand a father handing over his child to death, or children puding their parents to death? The Gospel tells us that our families will be torn apart. What a horrific image!

But, rather than read those words literally, see them as a warning. Being a Christian is not always easy. A Christian life is not always filled with the joy of this season. Not all family gatherings are cause for celebration.

Sometimes life is hard; sometimes life is painful; sometimes a family is a challenge.

But as the psalmist sings: “You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake you will lead me and guide me.” So let us return to our families and friends to continue to celebrate this very special season. But when the tough times come, as they inevitably will, let us turn to our rock and fortress. Bernard Jacques


December 26 Reading

Acts of the Apostles 6:8-10, 7:54-59; Psalm 31:3; Ma3hew 10:17-22 Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

December 10 Reflection

It is so easy for us to become overwhelmed by life’s everyday burdens and challenges, whether it be stresses in our work, worry over our financial situation, divisions in our families, divisions in our country, or the hatred, oppression and other injustices so present in this world. In these times, do we turn to You? Do we look for Your face? Or are we too consumed by our anger, anxiety or fear to allow us to see You? Where can Your face be found? Can it be found in the face of a loved one? In the face of a stranger? In the face of an enemy? In the sunrise? In a fresh snowfall? You are ever Present. We just need to open our eyes and turn to You to see Your face. Then we shall be saved. Andrea Wlochowski


December 11

December 25

Reading

Isaiah 35: 1-6A, 10 The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

Reflection

The wait is over, He is born! Our Gospel today refers to Jesus as the light of the world. The light that comes into the world, that the darkness cannot overcome. We have been waiting for this moment for the last four weeks. But, are we truly ready to welcome Jesus into this world and into our hearts? John tells us in the Gospel that Jesus was not accepted into the world that he was born. Has this changed much in the last two thousand years? I would like to think so, but I am not sure it has. Take a look around at the society that we live in. The violence, the animosity, the disrespect and lack of understanding towards others. During our Christmas celebrations the world around us sometimes can fall into the back of our minds. This may make it easier to say yes to accepting Jesus into our hearts today. But how will we answer that question in a week? In a month? The challenge of the light of Jesus is that we need to grow and develop that light in order to make it last. I remember as a child receiving gifts on Christmas morning that I wanted to play right away. I begged my parents to let me play with the toy instead of going to morning mass. However, most times that toy ended up in a closet or under the bed just a few days later. We cannot allow that to happen this Christmas season. We need to take the gift of Jesus this Christmas and spread it, and allow it to go. John clarifies in the Gospel that he is not the light. He is not God, he is merely a messenger of the light. We too are called to be messengers of Jesus’ light in the world. Let us, through this Christmas season, use our words and actions to share the light of Jesus in a world of darkness. The Light cannot be put under the bed and forgoden after a week. We must share it with each other. May you be messenger of light this Christmas to all that you meet. Merry Christmas.

Kevin Hadyka


December 25

December 11

Reading

John 1:1-18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him

Reflection

The third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday, the Happy Sunday.

“…rejoice with joyful song!” Sing! It’s the Happy Sunday in Advent! But, why sing? And for whom? “…rejoice with joyful song!” Joy fills the heart and spills over into music for all to hear. The Lord is coming! Well, actually, He’s already here! He keeps coming to us in His joyful messages, and if we listen with our hearts, we will hear His music… the only music we need…ever! So sing to be ready when He comes next week, sing at Christmas, or sing any day when your heart may be heavy with hurt or gossip or pain. Physical pain is zero compared to the hurt of the heart…longing for truth and peace. “…rejoice with joyful song!” “If music be the food of love, play on...” Shakespeare Victor Hugo (one of my favorites) said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” So sing everyone, without fear, with joy! Sing loudly for all to hear! “…rejoice with joyful song” (Isaiah Chapter 35:2)

Sing! It’s the Happy Sunday in Advent! “How can I keep from singing?” (Robert Lowry) Paula DeSilva


December 12 Reading Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Zechariah 2:14-17; Luke 1:26-38 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

December 24 Reflection

Zechariah, as a proud father, speaks to his newborn son of the majesty of God. As the adoring father gazes upon the sight of the greatest accomplishment of his life, his undreamed dream come true, he is filled with joy and hope for all that God can do. Zechariah, in his advanced age, certainly never imagined that he would ever look upon his own child. In this moment, his tongue, which was previously silenced, is given a voice to praise God. He is also given understanding that his own son, John the Baptist, will sound the horn to announce the Great Hope, the coming of our Savior. What greater image of hope and promise have we ever been given in this world than the sight of a newborn baby? Who of us is not moved by this sight? Every time we raise our hands together at Holy Family to bless a new baby, we share this hope for the future. Praised be God, who came to us with all of the promise of an infant. The Hern Family


December 24 Reading

Luke 1:67-79 Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

December 12 Reflection

We are one. We are one in the indwelling of the spirit. Our scripture readings remind us that God indeed is dwelling among us and within us. God is stirring within all things and we are caught in the silence revealing Presence. We wait. Grace filling the void of our unknowing. We wait. Silence making known Presence. We wait. Then Hail Hail, full of grace. Burst forth from your silence “May it be done to me according to your word.” Believe and allow – the Presence of the Most High is overshadowing you, overwhelming you in love. In the present see, feel and be the inconceivable. Ruth Kelly RSM

Our Lady of Guadalupe


December 13 Reading

Ma3hew 21-28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

December 23 Reflection

The Gospel recounts the story of the naming of John the Baptist. He was born to Elizabeth and Zechariah, childless and elderly. In those times a boy would carry on his father’s name and his work. However, God had other plans. Giving John his own name honored his unusual origins and God’s mission for his life. John was the God-ordained messenger proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. When I reflected upon the importance of one’s name, I saw it differently. I considered the impact of being called by name. I reflected upon the hymn, You Are Mine, where God seeks us out, “calling us each by name.” How do we feel when we are the sole focus of another’s adention? Doesn’t it raise our spirits when someone remembers our name? Aren’t we pleased when we feel like unique, separate individuals? Don’t we enjoy feeling cherished and worthy, special and wanted? Isn’t it moving to know, with assurance, that our God calls us by name because He wants a personal, intimate and loving relationship with each one of us? During Advent, in addition to a list of names for gifts, I pray we name all those with whom we will share more time and tender moments. Merry Christmas. Marilynn Cruz-Aponte


December 13

December 23

Reflection

Reading

Luke 1:57–66 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these maders were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”

The Parable of the Two Sons The basic story is of a man with two sons who told them to go work in the vineyard. The first son refused, but later obeyed and went. The second son initially expressed obedience, but actually disobeyed and refused to work in the vineyard. The son who ultimately did the will of his father was the first son because he eventually obeyed. Jesus then likens the first son to tax collectors and prostitutes— the outcasts of Jewish society—because they believed John the Baptist and accepted “the way of righteousness” (v. 32), in spite of their initial disobedience to the Law. While what the ultimately obedient son did was much beder than what the ultimately disobedient son did, neither situation was ideal. The ideal situation would be a son that would say, “Yes Dad, I’ll do it!” and then would cheerfully, without complaining, obey his father completely. This kind of son will no doubt bring immense joy to his father. This passage really makes you reflect: how many times have we gone to church on Sunday, become inspired through music, song, scripture and homily? (Every week at Holy Family!) But how are we following the teachings of Jesus in our lives Monday through Saturday? Time flies by and while our passion to live as we have been taught is still resonating, we become distracted. Yes, we plan on doing it, but somehow time keeps passing, and we still have not followed through. Pray….Lord, Help us to be wise, not foolish, and to be aware that we are ineffective Christians when we “talk the talk” but do not “walk the walk.”

Jane Lefante


December 14

December 22

Luke 7:18-23 At that time, John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” When the men came to the Lord, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. And Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

How grateful we should be for Mary’s example of how to live and how to love. As Mary did, we should always remember the promises of our Lord and His endless mercy. He is with us always. Mary, while humble and gentle, possessed unshakable strength in her faith, devotion, obedience and love of our Lord. In an age where we see a tremendous disrespect for human life at all its stages, all we need to do is look to Mary as an example of how to remain steadfast in our faith while dealing with the absence of God in our culture. May we walk toward the Father in the precious footsteps of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth. Doreen Drago

Reading

Reflection


December 22 Reading

Luke 1:46-56 Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scadered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.

December 14 Reflection

"Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” After hearing reports concerning the works of Jesus, John the Baptist sends some of his followers to question Him about His identity. Many believed the awaited Messiah would be a warrior king who would dispatch the Romans and save Israel. John seems to need some reassurance. Earlier in Luke's gospel, we see Jesus enter the synagogue in Nazareth, as was His custom, and read from the book of the prophet, Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. " He then tells those in adendance that this scripture has been fulfilled in their hearing. When the disciples of John come to Jesus to ask if He is the one they are waiting for, He answers, " go tell John what you've seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the leper is cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news preached to them." His miracles bring to mind the Isaiah prophecy and announce that indeed, the Kingdom of God has come upon them. " In the evening of our lives we shall be examined in love.” -St. John of the Cross Tim Urso


December 15

December 21

Reading

Reflection

Luke 7:24–30 When the messengers of John the Baptist had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.” (All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.)

In today's Gospel, Luke tells us the familiar story of Mary's journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth while they were both with child. Upon hearing Mary's greeting, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaims the words we know so well; "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Today marks the Winter Solstice. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, today is the longest night and shortest day of the year. Darkness prevails. In the time of Mary and Elizabeth, there was oppression from the Romans who ruled their homeland. The Jewish people were in darkness and waiting for the Messiah. That was all about to change. In just a few very short days, we will be rejoicing with all of the angels and saints in heaven, celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World sent by God to free all of us from darkness and death! Lord, we thank you for stepping down into darkness to bring light to our world. You give us hope and the assurance, as Paul tells us in Romans chapter 8, that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from Your love! Vicki Urso


December 21

December 15

Reading

Reflection

Luke 1:39-45 Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

The Visitation, 1640 Rembrandt

The “messengers of John the Baptist,” whose visit prompted Jesus’ words to the crowd came with a question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” John, we learn, is a seeker, still looking for what he has not yet found. Many of John’s followers imagined they had found their Messiah, their Savior, in John. John had gone off into the wilderness to fast and pray, and when he turned around, he suddenly had disciples of his own. Many of these never gave up their cult of John. This sect, known as the Mandaeans, has survived to this very day. They missed the point and so, all too often, do we. 50 years ago, as a graduate student in Chicago, one of my revered mentors was Hannah Arendt, who one day taught a lesson I won’t ever forget. In conversation with my close friend Bill O’Grady, she asked what he most aspired to. He said that his highest ambition was to be a good man, a just man. Her response surprised him, and me. “Don’t ever say that. Don’t ever let the left hand know what the right hand does. The point is to do the right thing, not to be righteous. It isn’t about you.” I hear Fr. Terry reminding us that it’s all about what we do. Bob Meagher


December 16 Reading

John 5:33-36 Stepping Stone Jesus said to the Jews: “You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept testimony from a human being, but I say this so that you may be saved. John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”

December 20 Reflection

Today’s Gospel is the quintessential definition of faith. When the angel Gabriel visits Mary, she is overwhelmed with fear and confusion, yet she perseveres and delivers Jesus. This gospel reading lends insight into what must have been a low moment for Mary, as the angel was telling her that she had somehow conceived a son. But Mary clearly had undying faith in God. How must she have felt when she learned this incomprehensible news? Although we can never truly appreciate what Mary experienced, we can take from this reading and apply it to our own lives. In times of confusion and fear, God’s neverending love for us is a constant. It is that faith that we all must rely upon in our everyday lives. The Conway Family


December 20 Reading

Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

December 16 Reflection

God uses John to deliver the promise of Jesus. At his arrival, Jesus makes it clear that He is the real deal and John was just the preamble. John’s role in the salvation of the people is just a stepping stone. In John’s humanity, in his fumbling insecurities and shortcomings, he touches the lives around him, building relationships strong enough to have influence. That influence becomes the stepping stone to Jesus, the True Savior. What kind of relationships do we build? How much influence do we have with those around us in our everyday lives, with our children, spouses, parents, brothers and sisters? What about coworkers and others we hardly know, who cross our paths once in a lifetime? What do we do to center ourselves in a way that we come across as the messenger, the stepping stone to Jesus for others and for ourselves? Lord, help me to be a stepping stone to You. Use my humanness, my insecurities and weaknesses to invite others to know You and the Glory of Your Son, Jesus. Lorie Campagna


December 17

December 19

Reading

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Uzziah became the father of Christ, the son of David, the son Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. of Abraham. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Abraham became the father of Manasseh the father of Amos, Isaac, Amos the father of Josiah. Isaac the father of Jacob, Josiah became the father of Jacob the father of Judah and Jechoniah and his brothers his brothers. at the time of the Babylonian exile. Judah became the father of After the Babylonian exile, Perez and Zerah, Jechoniah became the father of whose mother was Tamar. Shealtiel, Perez became the father of Shealtiel the father ofZerubbabel, Hezron, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Amminadab became the father Eliakim the father of Azor, of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Salmon the father of Boaz, Achim, whose mother was Rahab. Achim the father of Eliud, Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Eliud the father of Eleazar. Obed became the father of Jesse, Eleazar became the father of Madhan, Madhan the father of Jesse the father of David the Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, king. the husband of Mary. David became the father of Of her was born Jesus who is Solomon, called the Christ. whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Thus the total number of generations Solomon became the father of from Abraham to David is fourteen Rehoboam. Rehoboam the father of Abijah, generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen Abijah the father of Asaph. generations; Asaph became the father of from the Babylonian exile to the Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the Christ, fourteen generations. father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah.

Reflection

Reading (cont’d) believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute. Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.” _________________________________ In today’s Gospel, we have two main characters: Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, both of whom have been called by God to something never thought possible. On the one hand, we have Zechariah, questioning and doubting what the Lord has done: “How shall I know this? I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” On the other hand, we have Elizabeth who said, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”

When God challenges us in our daily lives, who do we resemble - Zechariah, who doubts what is happening or Elizabeth, who accepts the challenge and glorifies God for it?

Gracious and loving God, You, above all, know who I am and what I am capable of handling. Help me to generously accept Your presence in my life and guide me to do that to which You have called me.

Bev Brazauskas and her niece’s family: Jennifer, Tim, Marissa and Amanda Fagan


December 17

December 19

Reflection

Reading

Luke 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not

The genealogy of Jesus Christ Justice shall flourish in his time, the fullness of peace forever - our Responsorial Psalm.

We are, today, midway through Advent...waiting eagerly for the coming of Jesus in our lives. The themes of "patient waiting" and "hope" are ever before us.

People are scurrying as if Christmas were tomorrow! Isn't it a good idea to remember today where we came from - our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. We are part of something greater than ourselves!

"Remembering" is one of our most precious gifts. Just think of the people you remember once a year with a Christmas card - friends who so special to us - friends who continue to bring us the best gifts ever....peace, gratitude and love.

So with the Scriptures today, from Genesis - Jacob called his sons and said to them: "assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your Father."

The Gospel gives us a long record of the History of Jesus. Just as in our own family, only to be cherished and remembered as we prepare to Celebrate the Feast of the New-Born again in our lives.

I wish you a continued Blessed Advent!

Fr. Terry Kristofak, C.P.


December 18

Reading

Ma3hew 1:18-24 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

December 18 Reflection

Madhew 1:18-24 tells us how the birth of Jesus came about. Mary and Joseph are betrothed to each other and Joseph knows he is not the father. He will not let Mary be ostracized and agrees to quietly divorce her. In a dream he is told the Holy Spirit is the cause of this and do not be afraid to take her as your wife. The gospel reminded me of my earlier life when obeying the rules was so important. I can still hear my parents saying, "Keep the rules and the rules will keep you.” It was not until my adult life that I realized that there is more to God's loving message than obeying the rules, though I know at times they are necessary and comfortable. Joseph did not follow the rules and got to know Jesus. His message is not one of abiding by the rules. It is, "What can I do with what God has given me" and to be grateful even when circumstances are difficult because I know God is with me (Emmanuel) and not to allow fear to overtake me. Carole Connolly


December 18

Reading

Ma3hew 1:18-24 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

December 18 Reflection

Madhew 1:18-24 tells us how the birth of Jesus came about. Mary and Joseph are betrothed to each other and Joseph knows he is not the father. He will not let Mary be ostracized and agrees to quietly divorce her. In a dream he is told the Holy Spirit is the cause of this and do not be afraid to take her as your wife. The gospel reminded me of my earlier life when obeying the rules was so important. I can still hear my parents saying, "Keep the rules and the rules will keep you.” It was not until my adult life that I realized that there is more to God's loving message than obeying the rules, though I know at times they are necessary and comfortable. Joseph did not follow the rules and got to know Jesus. His message is not one of abiding by the rules. It is, "What can I do with what God has given me" and to be grateful even when circumstances are difficult because I know God is with me (Emmanuel) and not to allow fear to overtake me. Carole Connolly


December 17

December 19

Reflection

Reading

Luke 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not

The genealogy of Jesus Christ Justice shall flourish in his time, the fullness of peace forever - our Responsorial Psalm.

We are, today, midway through Advent...waiting eagerly for the coming of Jesus in our lives. The themes of "patient waiting" and "hope" are ever before us.

People are scurrying as if Christmas were tomorrow! Isn't it a good idea to remember today where we came from - our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. We are part of something greater than ourselves!

"Remembering" is one of our most precious gifts. Just think of the people you remember once a year with a Christmas card - friends who so special to us - friends who continue to bring us the best gifts ever....peace, gratitude and love.

So with the Scriptures today, from Genesis - Jacob called his sons and said to them: "assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your Father."

The Gospel gives us a long record of the History of Jesus. Just as in our own family, only to be cherished and remembered as we prepare to Celebrate the Feast of the New-Born again in our lives.

I wish you a continued Blessed Advent!

Fr. Terry Kristofak, C.P.


December 17

December 19

Reading

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Uzziah became the father of Christ, the son of David, the son Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. of Abraham. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Abraham became the father of Manasseh the father of Amos, Isaac, Amos the father of Josiah. Isaac the father of Jacob, Josiah became the father of Jacob the father of Judah and Jechoniah and his brothers his brothers. at the time of the Babylonian exile. Judah became the father of After the Babylonian exile, Perez and Zerah, Jechoniah became the father of whose mother was Tamar. Shealtiel, Perez became the father of Shealtiel the father ofZerubbabel, Hezron, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Amminadab became the father Eliakim the father of Azor, of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Salmon the father of Boaz, Achim, whose mother was Rahab. Achim the father of Eliud, Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Eliud the father of Eleazar. Obed became the father of Jesse, Eleazar became the father of Madhan, Madhan the father of Jesse the father of David the Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, king. the husband of Mary. David became the father of Of her was born Jesus who is Solomon, called the Christ. whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Thus the total number of generations Solomon became the father of from Abraham to David is fourteen Rehoboam. Rehoboam the father of Abijah, generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen Abijah the father of Asaph. generations; Asaph became the father of from the Babylonian exile to the Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the Christ, fourteen generations. father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah.

Reflection

Reading (cont’d) believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute. Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.” _________________________________ In today’s Gospel, we have two main characters: Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, both of whom have been called by God to something never thought possible. On the one hand, we have Zechariah, questioning and doubting what the Lord has done: “How shall I know this? I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” On the other hand, we have Elizabeth who said, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”

When God challenges us in our daily lives, who do we resemble - Zechariah, who doubts what is happening or Elizabeth, who accepts the challenge and glorifies God for it?

Gracious and loving God, You, above all, know who I am and what I am capable of handling. Help me to generously accept Your presence in my life and guide me to do that to which You have called me.

Bev Brazauskas and her niece’s family: Jennifer, Tim, Marissa and Amanda Fagan


December 20 Reading

Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

December 16 Reflection

God uses John to deliver the promise of Jesus. At his arrival, Jesus makes it clear that He is the real deal and John was just the preamble. John’s role in the salvation of the people is just a stepping stone. In John’s humanity, in his fumbling insecurities and shortcomings, he touches the lives around him, building relationships strong enough to have influence. That influence becomes the stepping stone to Jesus, the True Savior. What kind of relationships do we build? How much influence do we have with those around us in our everyday lives, with our children, spouses, parents, brothers and sisters? What about coworkers and others we hardly know, who cross our paths once in a lifetime? What do we do to center ourselves in a way that we come across as the messenger, the stepping stone to Jesus for others and for ourselves? Lord, help me to be a stepping stone to You. Use my humanness, my insecurities and weaknesses to invite others to know You and the Glory of Your Son, Jesus. Lorie Campagna


December 16 Reading

John 5:33-36 Stepping Stone Jesus said to the Jews: “You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept testimony from a human being, but I say this so that you may be saved. John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”

December 20 Reflection

Today’s Gospel is the quintessential definition of faith. When the angel Gabriel visits Mary, she is overwhelmed with fear and confusion, yet she perseveres and delivers Jesus. This gospel reading lends insight into what must have been a low moment for Mary, as the angel was telling her that she had somehow conceived a son. But Mary clearly had undying faith in God. How must she have felt when she learned this incomprehensible news? Although we can never truly appreciate what Mary experienced, we can take from this reading and apply it to our own lives. In times of confusion and fear, God’s neverending love for us is a constant. It is that faith that we all must rely upon in our everyday lives. The Conway Family


December 21

December 15

Reading

Reflection

Luke 1:39-45 Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

The Visitation, 1640 Rembrandt

The “messengers of John the Baptist,” whose visit prompted Jesus’ words to the crowd came with a question: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” John, we learn, is a seeker, still looking for what he has not yet found. Many of John’s followers imagined they had found their Messiah, their Savior, in John. John had gone off into the wilderness to fast and pray, and when he turned around, he suddenly had disciples of his own. Many of these never gave up their cult of John. This sect, known as the Mandaeans, has survived to this very day. They missed the point and so, all too often, do we. 50 years ago, as a graduate student in Chicago, one of my revered mentors was Hannah Arendt, who one day taught a lesson I won’t ever forget. In conversation with my close friend Bill O’Grady, she asked what he most aspired to. He said that his highest ambition was to be a good man, a just man. Her response surprised him, and me. “Don’t ever say that. Don’t ever let the left hand know what the right hand does. The point is to do the right thing, not to be righteous. It isn’t about you.” I hear Fr. Terry reminding us that it’s all about what we do. Bob Meagher


December 15

December 21

Reading

Reflection

Luke 7:24–30 When the messengers of John the Baptist had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.” (All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.)

In today's Gospel, Luke tells us the familiar story of Mary's journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth while they were both with child. Upon hearing Mary's greeting, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaims the words we know so well; "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Today marks the Winter Solstice. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, today is the longest night and shortest day of the year. Darkness prevails. In the time of Mary and Elizabeth, there was oppression from the Romans who ruled their homeland. The Jewish people were in darkness and waiting for the Messiah. That was all about to change. In just a few very short days, we will be rejoicing with all of the angels and saints in heaven, celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World sent by God to free all of us from darkness and death! Lord, we thank you for stepping down into darkness to bring light to our world. You give us hope and the assurance, as Paul tells us in Romans chapter 8, that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from Your love! Vicki Urso


December 22 Reading

Luke 1:46-56 Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scadered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.

December 14 Reflection

"Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” After hearing reports concerning the works of Jesus, John the Baptist sends some of his followers to question Him about His identity. Many believed the awaited Messiah would be a warrior king who would dispatch the Romans and save Israel. John seems to need some reassurance. Earlier in Luke's gospel, we see Jesus enter the synagogue in Nazareth, as was His custom, and read from the book of the prophet, Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. " He then tells those in adendance that this scripture has been fulfilled in their hearing. When the disciples of John come to Jesus to ask if He is the one they are waiting for, He answers, " go tell John what you've seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the leper is cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news preached to them." His miracles bring to mind the Isaiah prophecy and announce that indeed, the Kingdom of God has come upon them. " In the evening of our lives we shall be examined in love.” -St. John of the Cross Tim Urso


December 14

December 22

Luke 7:18-23 At that time, John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” When the men came to the Lord, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. And Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

How grateful we should be for Mary’s example of how to live and how to love. As Mary did, we should always remember the promises of our Lord and His endless mercy. He is with us always. Mary, while humble and gentle, possessed unshakable strength in her faith, devotion, obedience and love of our Lord. In an age where we see a tremendous disrespect for human life at all its stages, all we need to do is look to Mary as an example of how to remain steadfast in our faith while dealing with the absence of God in our culture. May we walk toward the Father in the precious footsteps of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth. Doreen Drago

Reading

Reflection


December 13

December 23

Reflection

Reading

Luke 1:57–66 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these maders were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”

The Parable of the Two Sons The basic story is of a man with two sons who told them to go work in the vineyard. The first son refused, but later obeyed and went. The second son initially expressed obedience, but actually disobeyed and refused to work in the vineyard. The son who ultimately did the will of his father was the first son because he eventually obeyed. Jesus then likens the first son to tax collectors and prostitutes— the outcasts of Jewish society—because they believed John the Baptist and accepted “the way of righteousness” (v. 32), in spite of their initial disobedience to the Law. While what the ultimately obedient son did was much beder than what the ultimately disobedient son did, neither situation was ideal. The ideal situation would be a son that would say, “Yes Dad, I’ll do it!” and then would cheerfully, without complaining, obey his father completely. This kind of son will no doubt bring immense joy to his father. This passage really makes you reflect: how many times have we gone to church on Sunday, become inspired through music, song, scripture and homily? (Every week at Holy Family!) But how are we following the teachings of Jesus in our lives Monday through Saturday? Time flies by and while our passion to live as we have been taught is still resonating, we become distracted. Yes, we plan on doing it, but somehow time keeps passing, and we still have not followed through. Pray….Lord, Help us to be wise, not foolish, and to be aware that we are ineffective Christians when we “talk the talk” but do not “walk the walk.”

Jane Lefante


December 13 Reading

Ma3hew 21-28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

December 23 Reflection

The Gospel recounts the story of the naming of John the Baptist. He was born to Elizabeth and Zechariah, childless and elderly. In those times a boy would carry on his father’s name and his work. However, God had other plans. Giving John his own name honored his unusual origins and God’s mission for his life. John was the God-ordained messenger proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. When I reflected upon the importance of one’s name, I saw it differently. I considered the impact of being called by name. I reflected upon the hymn, You Are Mine, where God seeks us out, “calling us each by name.” How do we feel when we are the sole focus of another’s adention? Doesn’t it raise our spirits when someone remembers our name? Aren’t we pleased when we feel like unique, separate individuals? Don’t we enjoy feeling cherished and worthy, special and wanted? Isn’t it moving to know, with assurance, that our God calls us by name because He wants a personal, intimate and loving relationship with each one of us? During Advent, in addition to a list of names for gifts, I pray we name all those with whom we will share more time and tender moments. Merry Christmas. Marilynn Cruz-Aponte


December 24 Reading

Luke 1:67-79 Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

December 12 Reflection

We are one. We are one in the indwelling of the spirit. Our scripture readings remind us that God indeed is dwelling among us and within us. God is stirring within all things and we are caught in the silence revealing Presence. We wait. Grace filling the void of our unknowing. We wait. Silence making known Presence. We wait. Then Hail Hail, full of grace. Burst forth from your silence “May it be done to me according to your word.” Believe and allow – the Presence of the Most High is overshadowing you, overwhelming you in love. In the present see, feel and be the inconceivable. Ruth Kelly RSM

Our Lady of Guadalupe


December 12 Reading Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Zechariah 2:14-17; Luke 1:26-38 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

December 24 Reflection

Zechariah, as a proud father, speaks to his newborn son of the majesty of God. As the adoring father gazes upon the sight of the greatest accomplishment of his life, his undreamed dream come true, he is filled with joy and hope for all that God can do. Zechariah, in his advanced age, certainly never imagined that he would ever look upon his own child. In this moment, his tongue, which was previously silenced, is given a voice to praise God. He is also given understanding that his own son, John the Baptist, will sound the horn to announce the Great Hope, the coming of our Savior. What greater image of hope and promise have we ever been given in this world than the sight of a newborn baby? Who of us is not moved by this sight? Every time we raise our hands together at Holy Family to bless a new baby, we share this hope for the future. Praised be God, who came to us with all of the promise of an infant. The Hern Family


December 25

December 11

Reading

John 1:1-18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him

Reflection

The third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday, the Happy Sunday.

“…rejoice with joyful song!” Sing! It’s the Happy Sunday in Advent! But, why sing? And for whom? “…rejoice with joyful song!” Joy fills the heart and spills over into music for all to hear. The Lord is coming! Well, actually, He’s already here! He keeps coming to us in His joyful messages, and if we listen with our hearts, we will hear His music… the only music we need…ever! So sing to be ready when He comes next week, sing at Christmas, or sing any day when your heart may be heavy with hurt or gossip or pain. Physical pain is zero compared to the hurt of the heart…longing for truth and peace. “…rejoice with joyful song!” “If music be the food of love, play on...” Shakespeare Victor Hugo (one of my favorites) said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” So sing everyone, without fear, with joy! Sing loudly for all to hear! “…rejoice with joyful song” (Isaiah Chapter 35:2)

Sing! It’s the Happy Sunday in Advent! “How can I keep from singing?” (Robert Lowry) Paula DeSilva


December 11

December 25

Reading

Isaiah 35: 1-6A, 10 The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

Reflection

The wait is over, He is born! Our Gospel today refers to Jesus as the light of the world. The light that comes into the world, that the darkness cannot overcome. We have been waiting for this moment for the last four weeks. But, are we truly ready to welcome Jesus into this world and into our hearts? John tells us in the Gospel that Jesus was not accepted into the world that he was born. Has this changed much in the last two thousand years? I would like to think so, but I am not sure it has. Take a look around at the society that we live in. The violence, the animosity, the disrespect and lack of understanding towards others. During our Christmas celebrations the world around us sometimes can fall into the back of our minds. This may make it easier to say yes to accepting Jesus into our hearts today. But how will we answer that question in a week? In a month? The challenge of the light of Jesus is that we need to grow and develop that light in order to make it last. I remember as a child receiving gifts on Christmas morning that I wanted to play right away. I begged my parents to let me play with the toy instead of going to morning mass. However, most times that toy ended up in a closet or under the bed just a few days later. We cannot allow that to happen this Christmas season. We need to take the gift of Jesus this Christmas and spread it, and allow it to go. John clarifies in the Gospel that he is not the light. He is not God, he is merely a messenger of the light. We too are called to be messengers of Jesus’ light in the world. Let us, through this Christmas season, use our words and actions to share the light of Jesus in a world of darkness. The Light cannot be put under the bed and forgoden after a week. We must share it with each other. May you be messenger of light this Christmas to all that you meet. Merry Christmas.

Kevin Hadyka


December 26 Reading

Acts of the Apostles 6:8-10, 7:54-59; Psalm 31:3; Ma3hew 10:17-22 Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

December 10 Reflection

It is so easy for us to become overwhelmed by life’s everyday burdens and challenges, whether it be stresses in our work, worry over our financial situation, divisions in our families, divisions in our country, or the hatred, oppression and other injustices so present in this world. In these times, do we turn to You? Do we look for Your face? Or are we too consumed by our anger, anxiety or fear to allow us to see You? Where can Your face be found? Can it be found in the face of a loved one? In the face of a stranger? In the face of an enemy? In the sunrise? In a fresh snowfall? You are ever Present. We just need to open our eyes and turn to You to see Your face. Then we shall be saved. Andrea Wlochowski


December 26

December 10

Reflection

Reading

Psalm 80: 2AC and 3B, 15-16, 18-19 R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. O shepherd of Israel, hearken, From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power. R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. Once again, O LORD of hosts, look down from heaven, and see; Take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted the son of man whom you yourself made strong. R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. May your help be with the man of your right hand, with the son of man whom you yourself made strong. Then we will no more withdraw from you; give us new life, and we will call upon your name. R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

The day after Christmas – the memories are fresh: the gleam in the eyes of my grandchildren; and, of course, the sheer joy of having my wife, all of my children and grandchildren in one place celebrating a meal.

The joy, the happiness, the love is still with us, but the words of our Scriptures today do not speak of joy or happiness or love. Rather, the words are jarring and foreboding. They tell us of Stephen, the first martyr. “They threw him out of the city and began to stone him.”

The Gospel is equally troubling. “Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.”

How can we reconcile the image of a person being stoned with the celebration we shared with friends and families yesterday? And, how can we understand a father handing over his child to death, or children puding their parents to death? The Gospel tells us that our families will be torn apart. What a horrific image!

But, rather than read those words literally, see them as a warning. Being a Christian is not always easy. A Christian life is not always filled with the joy of this season. Not all family gatherings are cause for celebration.

Sometimes life is hard; sometimes life is painful; sometimes a family is a challenge.

But as the psalmist sings: “You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake you will lead me and guide me.” So let us return to our families and friends to continue to celebrate this very special season. But when the tough times come, as they inevitably will, let us turn to our rock and fortress. Bernard Jacques


December 27 Reading

John 20: 1A and 2-8 On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.

December 9 Reflection

Thirteen years ago my loving spouse was very ill and lost her fight with a rare disease within a few days. Our children and I came to realize that she followed the Lord in all the wonderful things she did for our large family and countless others so unselfishly. We know and believe she will forever have the Light of Life and we can only hope to reach that very Light someday ourselves and be together forever. Bill and Jan O’Meara

Stephania Dilion


December 9 Reading

Isaiah 48:17-19 Thus says the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go. If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea; Your descendants would be like the sand, and those born of your stock like its grains, Their name never cut off or bloded out from my presence. Responsorial Psalm Psalm 1: 1-2, 3, 4, 6 R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life. Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night.

December 27 Reflection

What’s been on your mind? Our hearts – and minds – are often distracted and troubled. No mader the stage of life, there are many things that vie for our adention – our aging parents, our young children, the election, a grinding job, how to pay for all those Christmas presents… But our Faith is supposed to bring us some solace and peace of mind. Jesus’ reassuring words are our guarantee that it will all work out, that there will be room for all. The trick is finding the bridge between then and now. Perhaps focusing on our interactions with each other – our parents, children, friends, the harried person behind the check-out counter – a hug, a kind word, a smile…keeping in mind that we are not in this alone. How do you slow down and ease your heart’s troubles? Diane and Patrick Klingman


December 28 Reading

Ma3hew 2:13-18 When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son. When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.

December 8 Reflection

The readings for today are related in a unique way.

The Genesis narrative lets us in to humanity’s first act of disobedience and loss of childlike innocence. Adam tries to pass the buck but Eve more credibly blames the serpent.

The responsorial psalm testifies that something is up God’s sleeve: Salvation has come through wondrous deeds; God’s kindness and faithfulness is revealed. How has that happened?

The reading from Ephesians, in its lofty and elegant style, tells us of the preexistent Christ. And shares that in “Him we were also chosen”…”so that we might exist for the praise of His glory.” In this way we are swept into salvation history by our birth and baptism.

Then Luke’s Gospel, wriden from Mary’s perspective, we see a complete turnaround from the Genesis account. A virgin birth, a distinct Christian teaching, brings the Preexistent One to share in our humanity. In the face of a scandalous situation, one even punishable by death, Mary is all in. She models quiet heroism, complete obedience and submission to the will of God in her response: “let it be done to me according to your word.” The Lord has sung a new song and has done marvelous deeds, indeed! Donald Da Ros


December 8 Reading

Gen 3:9-15, 20; PS 98:1, 2-3; Ep 1:3-6,11-12; Luke 1:26-30 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

December 28 Reflection

This Gospel reading was extremely challenging for us to reflect upon. Should we focus on King Herod's apparent insecurities, which led to the massacre of male children two and under? Or focus on the absolute faith that Joseph displayed by moving his family to Egypt after being told to do so by an angel of The Lord? We felt the Gospel illustrated the power of power. Power, when used the right way, can do so much good. Yet, it can also corrupt and do so much evil. In this Gospel, Herod felt so threatened by the innocent infant Jesus, he basically was willing to do anything to retain his power. Had Herod only allowed Jesus to enter into his life, who knows what could have happened. He may have found that Jesus's power was no threat at all. Ronni and Paul D’Addabbo


December 29 Reading

December 7 Reflection

Luke 2:22-35

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is wriden in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Where do you get your strength? When life gets difficult and challenging, when things are not going well at work or home, when you or a loved one face serious illness, do you look to God? This past summer many of us spent hours watching the Olympics. I marveled at the physical strength of the athletes. But even these strong young men and women occasionally stumbled and fell. But we have a strong and loving God who promises to give us the power to stay strong and not faint. And how is that possible? To help us understand, the scripture writer gives us the image of a powerful eagle soaring. Now I’ve never seen a real eagle in flight, but one day I saw a large hawk in the trees in my yard. It was quite large and what a wingspan! When it flew off, it seemed so effortless. The bird just soared on the wind currents. Once it was in the air, the bird seemed to just trust the wind currents to direct its path and carry it. Mary Marsan


December 7

December 29

Reading

Isaiah 40:25-31 To whom can you liken me as an equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these things: He leads out their army and numbers them, calling them all by name. By his great might and the strength of his power not one of them is missing! Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know or have you not heard? The LORD is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Reflection

Luke 2:35 “(And you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

God did not create evil; evil is the absence of good. Nevertheless, the existence of suffering remains a mystery. If God is Love, why doesn’t He spare his mother and us from suffering? Dear God, I do not come to You today to try to understand pain and suffering in the world, especially the suffering of the innocent, as well as my own suffering. I come to You to make an act of faith: I believe that You are good and if you allow suffering it is because You are intending to get a good out of it. I come to You to make an act of hope: I hope in Your goodness, and I believe that it will transform all evil and all suffering into pure joy. I come to You, above all, to make an act of love and trust. I might not understand why a sword pierced Mary’s heart, and why her suffering helps us revel the thoughts of our hearts, but I welcome and cherish her company as I walk through life.

Mary, because you know unimaginable pain, I can sit at your feet and weep when I suffer. Your motherly presence comforts me, and your eternal triumph, reminds me that when I cry the death of a loved one--of a mother, a wife, a husband or a child--I can expect God’s consolations to rebuild my life, and heal my heart.

Elena Sada


December 6

December 30 Reading

Madhew 2:13-15, 19-23 When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son. When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazorean

Reflection

The Lost Sheep: What is Your Opinion?

The Lost Sheep parable immediately poses the question: “What is your opinion?” Let’s unpack the word “opinion.” Opinions – beliefs and/or judgments - are formed from our underlying experiences, feelings, and emotions. The invitation is to become more aware of how we each form our opinions and to then contemplate our opinion(s) from one or all of the differing perspectives:

1). The Good Shepard (responsible to protect and nurture all 100 sheep confronted with the decision to go after the one and leave the 99) - what might the Good Shepard be experiencing? - love, compassion, mercy, guilt, worry, conflict, responsibility… Who is the Good Shepard in your life?

2). One of the 99 sheep (left unadended by the Good Shepard who is out seeking the lost sheep) - are there conflicting feelings among the 99? - compassion for the lost sheep, empowerment by being trusted by the Good Shepard, abandonment, anger, jealousy… Are you one of the 99?

3). The lost sheep (alone and being sought out by the Good Shepard) – what might the lost sheep be experiencing? - confusion, disillusionment, fear, freedom, relief at being found, immense gratitude…Is this you? Someone you know? – gay, divorced, alone…

Consider the meaning of the parable in your life today. Andrea Lombard


December 6

Reading

Ma3hew 18:12-14 Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these lidle ones be lost.”

December 30 Reflection

The Gospel story today is a reminder for me that, even as a baby, the leaders feared Jesus and wanted him dead. It is also a good reminder of the important role Joseph played - how he was guided by angels to seek and find a safe home for his family in foreign lands, not once but twice. Jesus was both a refugee and an immigrant. Christmas is such a happy time in our church and in our American culture. I often forget that there was more hardship for that Holy Family beyond giving birth in a stable. On this sixth day of Christmas, I hope we can remember the struggles of the Holy Family as refugees fleeing for their lives in the middle of the night - thankful for the guidance from an angel, praying that God would protect them on their journey, and hopeful that God would help them find a safe place to raise their son. Jenny Cimmino

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December 31 Reading John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begoden Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me

December 5 Reflection The Desert

the landscape is dry and barren seemingly lifeless vast and empty harsh and life-threatening

the journey brings me to this landscape now and again

i enter this place of unknowing and uncertainty vulnerability and fearfulness loss and grief

i give my prayerful adention to my desert landscape

patiently observing my heart willing to wait my eyes searching for new life my soul knowing God is present

a rain comes perhaps gently, perhaps a torrent the rain is not of my making i can only receive it

blooms come sometimes in abundance they surprise me with their beauty often they are unexpected not what I had hoped for

new life comes I am astonished by beauty touched by grace what seemed so barren brings new life Andree Grafstein


December 5 Reading

Isaiah 35:1-10

The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water; The abode where jackals lurk will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus. A highway will be there, called the holy way; No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it. No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it. It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk. Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

December 31 Reflection

(Reading continued) because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only-begoden Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him. _______________________________________________

Today is the last day of the year, but a new year is coming. Take some time today to make some action plans to strengthen your relationship with God. What New Year’s resolutions will you embark on that strengthens your faith? When we rely on God and communicate with him daily, our lives are forever changed. John 1:3 says it best. “All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.” If we believe and involve God in every decision, God will make things happen. Without Him, it is a lonely journey and may be a difficult one. Krystina Gilhuly


January 1

Reading

Luke 2:16-21 The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

December 4 Reflection

In the Gospel, John the Baptist was preaching in the desert of Judea. His role was to make people ready for Jesus. During the season of Advent, we are preparing for the birth of Jesus Christ. This relates to the Gospel because John was helping the people get their hearts ready by repenting and baptizing them so they could be forgiven of their sins. John was saying that just being a Jew didn’t make them “okay” with God. Just like for us when we think that just going to mass is enough and that we don’t sin. During Advent, while we await the birth of our Savior, we should show that we love and follow Christ every day! Tristan Buttimer (3rd grade) Edited by Mommy


December 4

January 1

Reading

Ma3hew 3:1-12 John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Reflection

‘Amazed’…I have always loved this word. I have just always loved the image it brings to my mind, my heart and my total reality. “All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.” It is the highest of highs – expectations met, prophesy completed. What the angles told the shepherd's became real – and they praised God. It seems odd that when we witness truth, we are ‘amazed.’ We could be expectant of it, and yet, we are amazed, our hearts filled. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” The Good News about Jesus is that He comes to all, including the plain and ordinary. He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept Him. He offers us new hearts that will last for eternity. He loves us just as we are. Through Him all things are possible. Today, may we be like Mary and reflect on the salvation that Jesus brings to the entire world – and be amazed! I pray that this New Year bring us all to a place of amazement that rings out ‘Alleluia!’ Karen Herbert


January 2 Reading

John 2:22-28; John 1:19-28 This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, "Who are you?" He admided and did not deny it, but admided, "I am not the Christ." So they asked him, "What are you then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?" He said: "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said." Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie." This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

December 3 Reflection

The Gospel calls on us to help troubled and abandoned people. As we heard and saw during the recent election cycle, many around us are crying out in need. While it is hard for us to imagine having the power to do the things that Jesus and the Apostles did, all of us can help those who feel marginalized and those who struggle. In this year of Mercy, we have seen and heard how to reach out to each other. We admire those in our community who have really extended themselves to the needy, but still wonder what we could do. Remind us, Lord, that in our own ways we can and do make a difference. Motivate us to take action - to commit the labor needed to reap the harvest. Your grace surrounds us and lifts us up, and your love is evident every day. Betty Ann and Paul Grady


December 3

January 2

Mathew: 9: 35B-10:1, 5A, 6-8 Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Shakepeare’s words, “To thine own self be true” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3) echo the messages in today’s readings.

Reflection

Reading

The core message in JN 2:22-28 is to trust ourselves and listen to our inner instincts. Deep inside we all know what is right and who we are. We must always trust our innate sense of right & wrong, a seed planted deep within us by God. Our job in life is to fertilize this seed and grow the God-Christ within us. Tune in daily to God’s messages. Life will challenge us with people and situations aiming to get us off the path of truth and justice. These are voices of deception. We need to listen to, and never give up on our true inner selves. God is the source of our genuine Truth.

Today’s Gospel (JN 1:19-28) builds on this theme. Being true to ourselves also means not pretending to be someone we are not. We must prepare to make room for Christ by opening ourselves up to hearing the Divine message through our own inner voices. As we embody the Truth and Goodness of Christ, like John the Baptist, we will become His reflection in this world. We all encounter the desert in our lives---but we are never deserted by the Lord who hears our cries for help.

As we begin a New Year, the wisdom in these readings can guide us to a fuller, more centered life. Recognize the Lord in your life, open yourself up to embrace and internalize His message, and above all, “To thine own self be true.”

Diana Vigneau & Jake Britt


January 3 Reading

1 John 2:29-3:6 If you consider that God is righteous, you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness is begoden by him. See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him.

December 2 Reflections

Responsorial Psalm “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” We get a bit choked up when we hear this phase, especially when it is sung by our awesome Holy Family choir. Although the word “salvation” is used throughout much of the responsorial, we don’t view it as about the afterlife, as much as a “way of being” in this life. As members of body of Christ, we are called to bring His light to this world by striving to alleviate the suffering of others and being forever grateful for the beauty and bounty of His creation.

The Gospel In the Gospel we see a spiritual awakening fostered by a faith that Jesus can change our lives. The faith that we have in Jesus, His way of life, His forgiveness, His steadfastness and His abiding love for us should propel us to live a life following His example. Loving others as ourselves, caring for the earth, helping when called upon and faithfully knowing that Jesus is by our side. Jim and Beth Malley


December 2 Readings

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 27: 1.4 12-14 R. The Lord is my light and my salvation. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? R. The Lord is my light and my salvation. One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple. R. The Lord is my light and my salvation. I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD. R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Gospel Ma3hew 9: 27-31 As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.

January 3

Reflection

“Beloved, we are God’s children now.”

Think about being a child of God. As a child, I remember people who knew my parents making statements like, “Oh, you look just like your Mom or Dad” or “You are so much like your parents.” Even as a parent today, I have heard people say these things about my own children. In a family, you often pick up characteristics and adributes of people in your own family because of the amount of time you spend with them. It is the same with God as our Father. The more time we spend with our Father in worship, prayer, study, caring for others, etc… the more we become like Him, like Jesus. Puding Jesus at the center of our lives means our character and nature will be perfected into the image of Jesus’ perfection. Liz Getz


January 4

Reading

John 1:35-42 John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah," which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas," which is translated Peter.

December 1 Reflection

An Advent Conversation Self: Holy One, today’s Gospel invites me to reflect and to see if my life is wisely built on a strong foundation. On rock. So that I will withstand the inevitable rains. God: And, in New England, the snow and the cold as well. Self: Sometimes it feels like there’s one problem after another. God: I’ve observed that too. One problem after another. Self: But, remember, it’s Advent. A time for hope. God: Hope is good. Self: I have reason to hope. After all, in Jesus, You took on our humanity. You came near. You are with me in in the rain and in the cold. God: I am with you in the rain and in the cold. I am always with you. I am within you and all around you. Always. Self: Is that the strong foundation I need? To know that you are with me, always. God: It is. I am with you, within you, and all around you. In the rain and in the cold. During good times, too, like the Christmas holidays. I am with you. And, I will never leave you. Never. I am within you and all around you, through the rain and the cold, through all the struggles of life. Self: You are always with me. Remembering that is what Advent is about. You are my strong foundation. My Rock. God: Indeed. Mary Beth Johnston and Monica Shea


December 1

January 4

Ma3hew 7 24-25 Anyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a sage who built a house on rock. When the rainy season set in, the torrent came and the winds blew and buffeted the house. It didn’t collapse because it had been set solidly on rock.

Just days after the birth of Christ, we already hear in today's Gospel from John, Jesus referred to by other names. Here, we hear that He is the Lamb of God, Rabbi, and the Messiah. We learn that Rabbi means teacher. With Jesus' unceasing love and unconditional forgiveness, there is no greater teacher than He himself. We must be teachers ourselves and teach Jesus' ways to our family and friends through our words and actions. Loving God, we pray that Jesus' teachings will show us the way to compassion, peace, forgiveness, and love throughout our lives. Amen. Christina Cellucci

Reading

Reflection


January 5

Reading

John 1:43-51 Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." But Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him." Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

November 30 Reflection

A simple request? I think not! The words of Jesus to the four disciples must have taken them by surprise but yet there was no hesitation in their response…”at once they left their nets” and “immediately they left their boat.” By following Jesus, they came to know his mission and his message. Their faith and trust empowered them to preach the word of Jesus and thereby transform the lives of the early believer and become fishers of men. We, also, must be believers and open to the love of Jesus in our hearts with the same faith and trust. It has been said that faith is a verb and, by that definition, acting on that love is truly faith in action. Our journey, called life, is full of faith experiences if we just look, pray and acknowledge Christ in our lives. Do not be afraid to pass on your beliefs to others and act on them. Demonstrate for all to see how the importance of faith can improve one’s life. We all have doubts but through prayer we can ask for wisdom and guidance. Look for Jesus in scripture, in each other and especially in the Eucharist. Choose faith, trust and love…it’s that simple! May the peace of the Christ child be with each of us! Jacquie Warren


November 30

January 5

Reading

Reflection

“I saw you under the fig tree.” Ma3hew 4:18-22 As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

It’s an interchange that doesn’t make sense. Jesus is gathering disciples, has found Phillip, who invites Nathanael. Nathanael responds derisively, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” “Come and see,” says Phillip. When they meet up with Jesus, he calls Nathanael a “true Israelite,” in whom there “is no duplicity.” “How do you know me?” “I saw you under the fig tree.” “Rabbi, you are the son of God.” Huh?? What could this possibly mean? Let’s start with the tree. Certain trees have cultural significance: apple - the fall, evergreen - hope in resurrection, oak - fidelity. For first century Jews, the fig tree was a symbol of Israel and messianic peace, as well as a common place of prayer, especially for young rabbinic students. And what would those prayers have included? – a prayer for the coming of the Messiah. So Jesus implies that Nathanael had been praying for the coming of the Savior, who stands before him now. The True Israelite makes the leap and declares that Jesus is King. What does it mean for us? I was once in Trader Joe’s with my ND athlete son, with legs like trees. A lady came up to us and said, “I was with my grandchildren and we saw you going in. ‘Look at the size of his calves, Gram. And he eats vegetables!’.” Follow your path faithfully, trust in God, be a true Israelite, and Christ will recognize you. And others will recognize Christ in you. You can be a model without ever knowing you have been seen “under the fig tree.”

Pam Hardiman


January 6 Reading

Mark 1:7-11 This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: "One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

November 29 Reflection

This Gospel reading presents the idea that not just the sophisticated or the intelligent are the ones who see God, but also the less sophisticated and the children. To see God, we can’t look for Him and seek Him out but instead we will be shown Him when we are willing and ready. It’s when you desire to see God that you do not see Him. Jesus said to the disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not want to see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” Children signify innocence and purity and as a result, the light of God shines in them and through them. This reading reminds me of Christmases past and my belief in Santa. At six, I didn’t know as much as I know now as a 21-year-old and with that brought pure happiness and no speculation. To children, God is everything perfect in the world. With this, children like myself also believed that Santa was this amazing person; an image of goodness. It’s with such things as social influences and our growing intellectual minds that the extra nonsense creeps into our lives, causing the skepticism that often keeps us from truly seeing God and remaining open to His message. To see God is to see the good in the world and the glass half full. Children are the purest example of those who exhibit this view. Maggie Kenna


November 29 Reading

Luke 10:21-24 Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

January 6

Reflection

Jesus' Baptism is one of the epiphanies where God reveals Himself to mankind. Every time we baptize someone, God reveals Himself to us in sacrament by grace through the person being baptized. Baptism is a joyous moment when even witnesses of the sacrament know the power of God and are joyful to see God revealed through a new Child of Christ. The next time you adend Baptism, try to truly witness the Sacrament in all its beauty. Peter DePaola Jr. and Lisa Muscanell-DePaola


January 7

Reading

John 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

November 28

Reflection Today’s gospel reminds us to TRUST in God. The man explains to Jesus that his servant is struggling and needs help. Although Jesus offers His help, the man declines noting He just needs to say the word and the servant will listen. It seems he has his servant well trained to “listen and respond.” How about us? Are we that disciplined when it comes to God? Do we just listen and respond? Not always, and that’s okay! Jesus often speaks the nondualistic language of “both/and.” Things can be both good and bad, simple and complicated, etc. If we just “listen” and respond to Jesus without contemplation, we may “do good things” and could also end up like robots! All too often we listen to what the Church (or other institutions or even scripture) tell us and we blindly follow. I don’t think that is what Jesus calls us to. My favorite writer, Richard Rohr, says: “We come to God not by doing it right but by doing it wrong.” God can handle our resistance, probably expects it! And then, when we tire…we can collapse into the arms of God and say…”I get it now. I can’t do this alone. I need You. I trust You. I want You. Help me.”

Charleen Miele


January 7

November 28

Reflection

Reading

Ma3hew 8:5-11 When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”

At the wedding at Cana, Jesus’s mother propelled Him forward in fulfilling his Holy mission, telling Him, “they have no wine,” and then instructing the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus replied to his mother, “My hour has not yet come,” which makes me wonder if He was not yet ready to face being revealed as the Messiah, and that which was ahead of Him, His passion and death; or, perhaps He was expecting a prompt from the Father or the Holy Spirit.

Do I listen when I am being called, and do I listen to what I am being called to do? Do I follow God’s Word? This passage reassures me that Mary understands our needs and intercedes for us, and that Jesus listens to His mother. He loves His mother so much, He can’t refuse her. Imagine what this means for us! We have a powerful and wonderful advocate. Jesus does not turn the water into just any wine, but rather the best wine. Mary is directing us to trust and to follow her son’s teachings. In doing so, our reward will be great; Jesus will provide for us, and our wine will be beder than we can imagine. Heather Warren Wedding at Cana, in the Visitation Church Ein Kerem, Israel


January 8 Reading

Ma3hew 2:1,2,7-12 After Jesus’ birth – which happened in Bethlehem of Judea .… astrologists from the East arrived in Jerusalem and asked Herod, “Where is the newborn ruler of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay homage.” .… In Bethlehem of Judea, Herod was told. Herod called the astrologists aside and found out from them the exact time of the star’s appearance. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, after instructing them, “Go and get detailed information about the child. When you have found him, report back to me – so that I may go and offer homage too.” After their audience with the ruler, they set out. The star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to a standstill over the place where the child lay. They were overjoyed at seeing the star and upon entering the house, found the child with Mary, his mother. They prostrated themselves and paid homage. Then they opened their coffers and presented the child with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they went back to their country by another route.

November 27 Reflection

In our 24-7 news cycle, we hear every day of natural disasters, war, killings, accidental deaths and bad things happening to good people. As people of faith, we can and do get through the most trying of times. The key words for us in this reading? Stay awake! Be prepared. The Advent season is a time of preparation. Jesus could return at any time. Also – your time could end suddenly without warning. Live your life well, pleasing to God. Stay awake! Be prepared for this Advent season and for what follows; the birth of our Savior! Tom Drago


November 27 Reading

Ma3hew 24:37-44 Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

January 8

Reflection

Have you ever been somewhere when it was dark enough to see a million stars? It’s breathtaking. The Magi saw that kind of sky almost every night. They had no city lights, no maps. Only stars -- and trust in their own intuition. So it wasn’t hard for them to notice when a particular star was extra bright – and moving! Nature was their guide. They trusted it and their intuition – and let that star lead them to another special source of Light they would adore. They walked in the dark but they were led by the Light and adored. Who or what brings you to a place of adoration? Is it a star? A person? An event? Is it in the dark or in the light? Hopefully it will be breathtaking, too. Sr. Pat Schmidt, DW

Epiphany of the Lord In Epiphania Domini Missa 'Ecce Advenit’


Dear Friends, With the celebration of the Magi we have come to the end of our journey to Bethlehem. Now we go beyond the warmth of the stable into a new year and the beginning of another journey of life and love as a community of faith. Next week with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we will bring the Christmas season to a close and begin a period we call “Ordinary Time” – something we desperately need after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. May our “Ordinary Time” be a respite of sorts, a time to step back and retreat into the “light of simplicity” that we all crave at times. May it be a time of peace for our families and our nation – a time to be quiet and be grateful for the blessings of God in our lives – a time to share those blessings where we find the opportunity. Thank you all for your contributions to this inspiring and heart-felt book of reflections from the Holy Family Community. It is truly an offering of love, a work of art and gesture of our common faith. I am so impressed and proud to be a part of such a vibrant and loving family of faith. Peace and blessings to all of you in 2017! Fr. David Cinquegrani, C.P.   

“Come…Follow Me”

When we reflect on the season of Advent, we often recall the hymns and carols associated with this special time. The word that stands out in many of them is “Come,” as in “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Advent is a time when we ask God to come into our lives bringing the gifts of peace, hope and joy. However, we have to remember that our prayers are really two-way conversations: us expressing our needs, desires and praise to God and God responding to us. While we ask God to “come” to us, God is asking the same thing of us: “Come…follow me.” (see MaHhew 4:18-22)

The challenge for this Advent season is not just to present our requests to God, but also to accept God’s return invitation to us: come, follow my ways as my disciples.

Bill Carroll


Reections for the Seasons of  Advent and Christmas 2016-2017

From the Worshipping Community of Holy Family Retreat Center

Advent Reflection Booklet 2016  

From the Worshipping Community of Holy Family Retreat Center (West Hartford, CT)

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