Offertory Commitment Sunday. Last Sunday I preached on the importance of parishioners giving to our offertory collection—the source of almost all our funding in running the parish. In many ways it was a hard homily to give and to hear. Thank you all for listening so intently and patiently.
During my homily I talked about the need to recognize the many gifts God has given each of us, and our need both to be grateful and to use those gifts for the good purposes God intends for them. And I asked you to spend time praying and discerning about how He wants you to use those gifts for the good of our parish family.
After each Mass a parishioner also spoke (thanks to them!) and mentioned that you should receive a brochure about this in the mail. I hope you received that brochure, and that it was helpful. If you did not receive that brochure you should be able to find copies near the exits to the church today, or you can call or email the parish office and we’ll send you a copy. They also asked you to come back this week prepared to make a specific commitment as to how much you would give weekly to the offertory in the coming year. Today is the time for commitment. Thank you and God bless you for your generosity.
Hopefully, in the next week or so we will be sending a letter to you confirming the amount of your commitment, and reminding you of the various ways you can pay, especially encouraging you to use the offertory envelopes mailed to you each month, or by using Faith Direct, which securely and automatically charges either your bank account or credit/debit card every month.
Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving—isn’t it at the root of your generous giving to the parish? God has given us too much to be thankful for. For myself, I am particularly thankful for the amazing gift of priesthood. I also thank the Lord Jesus for His saving love and grace that He continues to shower on me, and for my family, and my brother priests, especially Fr. Smith, as well as Fr. Daly and Fr. Scalia. But most of all this year, I thank Him for entrusting me with this parish, and with all of you, my spiritual children, my parish family.
A blessed, happy and safe Thanksgiving to you all of you and your families!
Advent. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, as we prepare spiritually for the celebration of the birth of our Saviour at Christmas. In the very good busyness of Thanksgiving week, please take some time to plan ahead for Advent so that it will truly be a time of holiness, not merely the shopping time between Black Friday and the day Santa Claus comes.
Next weekend we will have an insert with the full schedule of Advent events but please plan on you and your family taking particular advantage of the increased confession opportunities (every weekday evening from 6:15 to 7:00) as well as the many existing opportunities for weekday Mass.
Also, I invite you all to attend the two-part Advent Series on “Grace: God’s Gift at Christmas and Throughout the Year,” that I will be giving on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays in Advent, December 1 and December 15 (the 2nd Thursday, December 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, so we’ll have Mass instead of a talk). The first talk is entitled, “Grace: God’s Action and Our Response,” and will discuss, among other things: the definition of grace, actual and sanctifying grace, and grace and justification. The second talk is entitled: “Hard Questions about Grace,” and will discuss: the effect of sin on grace, inequalities of grace (does Mary have more grace than you?), merit and grace, and merit, freedom, and predestination. I’m really looking forward to teaching this series and to seeing all of you there!
I also ask you to put “Lessons & Carols” on your calendar right now. Please join me, the lectors and the choir on Sunday, December 11, at 7:00pm for a program of beautiful Advent music and Scripture readings. Every year the crowd gets bigger (last year it doubled to about 250!) because everyone who comes loves it.
“Baby” Sofi’s Birthday Party Today. “Baby Mary”: Our Sofi. It’s hard to believe that 6 years have passed since November 14, 2010, the day the Lord miraculously delivered a newborn baby to the care of our parish. I quote from what I wrote 6 years ago, about little “Sofi”:
“Last Sunday morning, right before the 7am Mass, a parishioner noticed a small gym bag that was laying unattended by the light post near the Groveland Drive entrance to the parish parking lot. After dropping his family off at the front of the church, something told him (perhaps a guardian angel?) to investigate. Much to his surprise when he opened the bag he found a tiny new born baby. He immediately picked up the baby and raced into the church to get her out of the cold fall air and to call for help. Soon paramedics and police arrived and the baby was rushed to the hospital, where she was reported later to be in fine health.”
Within a few days little Sofi was given over to the care of a very fine and loving couple, who were eventually able to legally adopt her. But every year since that wonderful morning Sofi has returned “home” to St. Raymond’s on or near her birthday, as she does today. I am happy to report that she is a lovely, vivacious and healthy 6-year-old little girl.
Sofi will always be a special part of St. Raymond’s—a unique gift of God’s love to us, and a reminder to us of the love of God made manifest in the life every baby, born and unborn. Because of this, she will always be, in a certain way, our special responsibility, so we must always keep her in our hearts and prayers in a special way. We should also keep her family in our prayers, as they generously love and nurture her. And we must always remember to pray for Sofi’s birth-mother: though her identity is still unknown to us, the Lord Jesus knows her well; may He bless and keep her in His loving care all her life. We thank Him that in what must have been a very confusing time for her, she defended her baby’s life, and entrusted her to our care.
Today (Sunday, Nov. 20) we give thanks to the Lord for Sofi’s life, and celebrate with her at her birthday party in our Parish Hall after today’s 12:15 Mass. All parishioners are invited and encouraged to come and say hello to our little Sofi!
Thanks. Thanks to all who were so concerned about my health last week. Sorry for any inconvenience my “bad cold” caused. God bless you for your kindness.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles