The Month of January 2018


My Friends,

“Everything Changes…”
So soon, and already, our celebration of the Christmas Season concludes with the January 8th Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  But these few days of this season are not enough to exhaust the meaning of the mystery of “God become one with us so that we could become one again with God”.  A good way to end the Christmas Season, then, is to reflect on the words with which we began it.  These are the words of Pope Francis in his homily for the Midnight Mass of Christmas in St. Peter’s Basilica:

“Tonight ‘a great light’ shines forth (Is 9:1); the light of Jesus’ birth shines all about us. How true and timely are the words of the prophet Isaiah: ‘You have brought abundant joy and great rejoicing’! Our heart was already joyful in awaiting this moment; now that joy abounds and overflows, for the promise has been at last fulfilled. Joy and gladness are a sure sign that the message contained in the mystery of this night is truly from God. There is no room for doubt; let us leave that to the skeptics who, by looking to reason alone, never find the truth. There is no room for the indifference which reigns in the hearts of those unable to love for fear of losing something. All sadness has been banished, for the Child Jesus brings true comfort to every heart.

 “Today, the Son of God is born, and everything changes. The Savior of the world comes to partake of our human nature; no longer are we alone and forsaken. The Virgin offers us her Son as the beginning of a new life. The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin. Today we once more discover who we are! Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey’s end. Now must we put away all fear and dread, for the light shows us the path to Bethlehem. We must not be laggards; we are not permitted to stand idle. We must set out to see our Savior lying in a manger. This is the reason for our joy and gladness: this Child has been ‘born to us’; he was ‘given to us’, as Isaiah proclaims. The people who for two thousand years has traversed all the pathways of the world in order to allow every man and woman to share in this joy is now given the mission of making known ‘the Prince of peace’ and becoming his effective servant in the midst of the nations.

“So when we hear tell of the birth of Christ, let us be silent and let the Child speak. Let us take his words to heart in rapt contemplation of his face. If we take him in our arms and let ourselves be embraced by him, he will bring us unending peace of heart. This Child teaches us what is truly essential in our lives. He was born into the poverty of this world; there was no room in the inn for him and his family. He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger for animals. And yet, from this nothingness, the light of God’s glory shines forth. From now on, the way of authentic liberation and perennial redemption is open to every man and woman who is simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the goodness, mercy and love of God the Father, trains us, his disciples, as Saint Paul teaches, ‘to reject godless ways’ and the richness of the world, in order to live ‘temperately, justly and devoutly’.

“In a society so often intoxicated by consumerism and hedonism, wealth and extravagance, appearances and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly, , in other words, in a way that is simple, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what is essential. In a world which all too often is merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a strong sense of justice, to discern and to do God’s will. Amid a culture of indifference which not infrequently turns ruthless, our style of life should instead be devout, filled with empathy, compassion and mercy, drawn daily from the wellspring of prayer.

“Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too, with eyes full of amazement and wonder, gaze upon the Child Jesus, the Son of God. And in his presence may our hearts burst forth in prayer: ‘Show us, Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation’”.

Moveable Feasts
The proclamation during Masses, near the end of the Christmas Season, of the date of Easter and the other moveable feasts, was a tradition dating from a time when calendars were not readily available.  Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the proclamation still has value.  It is a reminder of the centrality of the Resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of our redemption in Christ celebrated each year. Though no longer proclaimed during Mass now, the publication of the moveable feasts for the Year of Our Lord 2018 is still relevant.  It follows:

“As we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so by leave of God's mercy we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection, who is our Savior.

“On the fourteenth day of February will fall Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.  On the first day of April we will celebrate with joy Easter Day, the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.  On the thirteenth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.  On the twentieth day of May, the feast of Pentecost.  On the third day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  On the second day of December, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen!”

Alive in Christ
In the celebration of Mass we not only receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, but we become the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion.  Nourished by the Eucharist to be still more Alive in Christ we are transformed so that, each individually and all together we embody Him for one another, and especially the troubled and troublesome among us.  This happens most effectively when the parish family is gathered together at Mass, in name and in fact, as “one body, one spirit, in Christ”.

Over several months I have included here observations about the numbers of people regularly attending the three scheduled Sunday Masses of Obligation.  The reality is that, over the last year, regularly the attendance at each of the three weekend Masses rarely exceeds twenty-five people.  With some frequency there are fewer than fifteen people participating.  Often enough, of those, the majority are visitors, rather than parishioners.

I have discussed this, several times, with our parish pastoral council.  The members concur that it is appropriate and timely, now, to review and revise our weekend schedule.  Though it is not definite, the First Sunday of Lent, February 18th, could be a reasonable date to implement a new schedule of fewer weekend Masses.

This is a “first word”.  In coming weeks further reflection on the Sunday Eucharist, as well as specific details, will come your way here or by email.
On the Way

Contribution Statements for the calendar year 2017 are being prepared and will soon be enroute to you for your tax preparation purposes.  They will be mailed to all households of record by 31 January 2018.

If you have questions regarding your statement, please contact the parish office. Please do so only by email at: stjohnsae@netzero.net. Our parish staff will offer clarification or correction in a timely way as you begin your 2017 income tax preparation.

Again, too, thank you for your generous support of our mission and our ministry!

In Brief
We keep in prayer Margaret Feldman, Officer Ryan O’Connor, and Sargent John McLoughlin that God give them grace and peace in their ongoing recuperation from recent health challenges.
                                                                                 Faithfully,


Faithfully,
Monsignor Delaney