Second Sunday of Advent
Parish Offertory Campaign. I want to thank all of you for your cooperation with the parish offertory campaign. So far we’ve received over 450 “blue cards” responding to our appeal. We’re still trying to project what effect this will have on collections, but I’m confident that with this kind of support our campaign will be a success by any measure. Already we’ve seen a significant increase in our collections in the last 3 weeks since I preached about this.
But again, while money is important to help keep the parish running, there’s much more to being a good Catholic and good parishioner than that. We’re especially reminded of this at this time of year, when it’s so easy to get all caught up in materialism. During Advent we prepare to celebrate the Birth of the innocent Baby Jesus, recalling that He came to earth because we are not so innocent, and to restore that innocence to us. And so let this Advent be a time dedicated to renewing your life with Christ, through prayer, study, and acts of charity.
When I say “acts of charity,” of course I include financial support for worthy groups or people, but above all I mean personally living a life of charity by being kind to the people around you, especially those who are clearly in need or in pain. Being patient with your office mate who’s having a difficult time at home or with the boss, and maybe taking that out on you. Instead of gossiping about people, maybe we can instead come to their defense. Praise someone, instead of criticize, lift them up instead of pushing them down or simply letting them fall under the weight of their problems.
And let this begin at home, with your family. This is a great time of year to remember how much we love our family—but if we love them, why is that we so often don’t act like it? Husbands and wives bicker over so many silly things, forgetting that they love this person. Think of that: most husband and wives tell me that they would readily die for their spouse. But then they refuse to be patient or forgiving over the smallest things, and continue to do things that upset each other, when those things aren’t even that important. They would die for each other, but no way she’s going to get the last word in an argument, no way he’s going to be late for dinner again.
The Lord Jesus came to the world to restore lost innocence, and to do that by dying on the Cross. Let Advent be time of restoration of innocence, of dying to yourself and living for Christ and your neighbor. Especially for your family, your friends. And especially for the poor near to you—the financially poor, the emotionally poor and the spiritually poor.
And let this be a time of evangelization, announcing that the Lord is coming. Bring a friend to church with you one Sunday in Advent. Buy your family and friends Christmas gifts that will help re-kindle their faith—a bible, a rosary, a crèche, a statue of a their favorite saint.
But also, remember that evangelization begins with ourselves, as we try to draw closer to Christ and His innocent love. Take advantage of all the various sacraments, liturgies and other activities made available in the parish this Advent—go to confession or maybe an extra Mass this week.
Also, take time to learn more about Christ’s love, perhaps by joining me as I continue my Advent Series, “Male and Female He Created them: the Catholic Understanding of Marriage,” on the next two Thursdays. This is not at all just for married people, but for all who long to understand more about the mystery of Divine love, especially as it is revealed to us through the gift of marriage and family.
I also encourage you to take advantage of a little known but wonderful asset in our parish—the parish library, located downstairs next to the parish hall. We have a lot of really good books, DVDs, and CDs that is a treasure trove for anyone seeking to learn more about Catholicism. Library hours are Saturdays 1-5, Sundays 9:45 – 1:45, and most Tuesday mornings.
I mentioned three weeks ago in my homily about offertory giving that it’s easy for pastors to think they’re a success if the collection goes up. I don’t ever want to think that way. Rather, my idea of success would be seeing the number of people coming to morning Mass double every week of Advent, or seeing the confession lines getting longer and longer every day. My idea of a great Advent would be having all of you grow in your love for Jesus and your neighbor, and in understanding your faith. Yes, I’ve been praying that the offertory campaign would cause the collection to grow every week, but what good is that if my children don’t grow closer to the Lord in holiness every week?
Second Collections. Even so, charitable donations are an important part of Advent, especially this week with the Little Sisters of the Poor coming to all the Masses. Not all of us can take time from work or family to tend to the needs of the poor who are sick and dying, but we can support those who do. I strongly encourage you to support the work of these holy women by generously giving to our second collection today (and if you’re reading this after you leave, feel free to send a donation to the office and we’ll forward it).
Next week our second collection will be for another very worthwhile cause: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. I’ve written before how pleased I am with the work of CCDA in the last few years, especially in their renewed emphasis on fidelity to Christ and His Church, and in their attentiveness to the needs that pastors see, day to day, in their parishes. One key area they’ve been of assistance to us has been in offering affordable psychological, marital and family counselling, providing good, caring assistance in the context of our Catholic faith. I commend them to you next weekend and ask you to be generous in supporting them in next week’s second collection.
Reminders. Tomorrow (Monday December 8) is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day of obligation. Because it falls on a Monday we can’t have a Vigil Mass for it on Sunday evening, so I’ve added a 5pm Mass on Monday, hoping this will help some get to Mass. I’ll also be celebrating the 7pm Mass on Monday as a Sung High Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass). This is a beautiful form of Mass, especially with the glorious chants sung by our schola of our excellent parish cantors.
Also, don’t forget Lessons and Carols next Sunday! Or the Senior Luncheon and Breakfast with Santa over the next two Saturdays.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles