Forth Sunday of Advent

The Lord is Near. We are now in the very last hours of Advent, the final time to prepare
for Christmas. I know there’s an awful lot going on in the next few days: last minute
shopping, wrapping and mailing presents, travelling. But don’t let all that busyness
distract you from what’s most important: we are preparing to celebrate the day awaited
from almost the beginning of the creation of man, when God first promised that “the
woman” would bring forth a son who would crush the serpent’s head. The day when God
the Son, Creator of the Universe, to whom all angels bowed in worship, having been
conceived in the womb of His mother Mary, entered the world as a poor, defenseless,
vulnerable baby, to save mankind from sin and to offer us a share in His eternal life and
love.
 
So rather than allowing all the busyness to distract you in the next few days, try to make
real time to prepare yourself for this celebration. Avoid all sin. Try to show charity and
compassion to your neighbor, especially your family members, at every moment—be
helpful, not harmful, to family peace. And love God above everything and with
everything. Take time to pray, and in your prayer place yourself in the company and care
of Mary and Joseph. Imagine them travelling on the rocky roads of Galilee and Judea,
from Nazareth down to Bethlehem, walking all that way or, perhaps, aided by a donkey.
Imagine the cold and even freezing weather over the several days’ journey. Perhaps
today, just 2 days before the birth, they were almost at the end of their journey, just a few
miles away from Bethlehem. Imagine how tired! And every day they were a little closer,
and a little colder and more tired. Think of their struggle, but also their joy. For they were
not traveling alone: their Savior was with them in Mary’s womb. Travel with them these
next few days in prayer. Stop from time to time at work, and wonder, “where are your
now, Mary and Joseph, and Baby Jesus?” Come to church for a quiet visit, and think,
“perhaps you are stopping to rest now—let me rest with you.” Accompany them on their
journey—and do not get too distracted by the busyness of the season.
 
Advent Series. Thanks to all who attended and participated in our Advent Series on
“Looking at the Nativity.” We had an excellent turnout every week, but if you were
unable to attend we’ve posted the audio of two of the sessions and handouts from all
three on the parish website.
 
Giving Tree. Thanks to all of you who gave so generously to the “Giving Tree”. Because
of your kindness over 32 families and 177 people (the most we’ve ever helped), will have
a little merrier Christmas this year.
 
Christmas Schedule: Please take time today to revisit our schedule for this week—found
below in this bulletin—especially the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Sunday
schedules.
 
Let me extend a particular invitation to the Christmas Midnight Mass. I have preached
several times about how such a Midnight Mass many years ago was the occasion of an

important moment in my own personal spiritual life. There is something very special
about that Mass, which begins with the placing of the “Baby Jesus” in the Manger, as we
remember that Christ was born in the “Holy Night.” The choir sings so beautifully, all the
altar servers are so reverent, and we usually get a large (not too large, though) and devout
crowd. Think about joining us this year. (Just a fatherly word of caution: it can be a little
tough on the very little ones, that late; so parents, please be prudent).
 
Volunteer Dinner. Mark your calendars: January 5 is the day for our annual reception in
appreciation for all those who volunteer their time to support the activities of the parish.
Keep your eyes on the bulletin for details, or contact your committee chairman.
 
Accused Priest, Part 2. Last week I wrote about a priest of the Diocese who was placed
on “administrative leave” for “boundary violations” (not “abuse”) “involving a minor and
adults.” This last week, in a surprisingly quick turn of events, the Loudoun County
Sheriff's Office announced that their “investigation has concluded, and there are no
criminal charges.” However, in an abundance of caution Diocesan officials stated,
“Having received this news, the diocese will conduct an investigation of matters that
pertain to its Code of Conduct for Clergy and report its findings in a timely way.”
I can’t say strongly enough how I feel about the absolute need to clean the filth out
of the Church and punish abusive and lying clerics. But good and innocent priests need to
be protected as well. Pray for all concerned in this case, and for a quick resolution by
Diocesan officials.
 
[ Please Don’t Read This Until Christmas!:
My dear and beloved spiritual children in the Lord Jesus:
Blessings and peace to you all as we celebrate the Birthday of Jesus Christ, Son of
God and son of Mary, the Lord and Savior of the Universe! May Christmas be a day of
joy greater than you have ever known. May it renew your faith and hope, that even in this
troubled and fallen world, Christ has come to save us from sin and evil, from want and
oppression, from hate and fear, to fill us with His light and grace and lead us to perfect
happiness and peace. And may you rediscover, in the tiny Babe’s sweet smile, God’s
boundless love for you and yours.
If you are traveling, may the angels carry you on your journeys and return you
safely to us. If you are staying “in town”, I look forward to greeting you at Mass on
Christmas Eve or Day.
On behalf of Fr. Smith, Fr. Daly, the parish staff, and myself, may I extend our
warmest wishes that you and your families have a Blessed and Merry Christmas Day,
Octave and Season! May the Baby Jesus bless you and fill you with His grace, may His
Mother Mary keep you in her tender embrace, and may St. Joseph protect you all the
days of your life!]
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

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