December 18, 2021 News

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 they were almost at
the end of their journey, just a few miles away from
Bethlehem. Imagine how 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.
Eve and Mary. An excerpt from “Against Heresies,” by
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons.
The Lord, coming into his own creation in visible
form, was sustained by his own creation which he himself
sustains in being. His obedience on the tree of the cross
reversed the disobedience at the tree in Eden; the good
news of the truth announced by an angel to Mary, a virgin
subject to a husband, undid the evil lie that seduced Eve, a
virgin espoused to a husband.
As Eve was seduced by the word of an angel and so
fled from God after disobeying his word, Mary in her turn
was given the good news by the word of an angel, and bore
God in obedience to his word. As Eve was seduced into
disobedience to God, so Mary was persuaded into
obedience to God; thus the Virgin Mary became the
advocate of the virgin Eve.
Christ gathered all things into one, by gathering
them into himself. He declared war against our enemy,

crushed him who at the beginning had taken us captive in
Adam, and trampled on his head, in accordance with God’s
words to the serpent in Genesis: I will put enmity between
you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he
shall lie in wait for your head, and you shall lie in wait for
his heel.
The one lying in wait for the serpent’s head is the
one who was born in the likeness of Adam from the woman,
the Virgin. This is the seed spoken of by Paul in the letter to
the Galatians: The law of works was in force until the seed
should come to whom the promise was made.
He shows this even more clearly in the same letter
when he says: When the fullness of time had come, God sent
his Son, born of a woman. The enemy would not have been
defeated fairly if his vanquisher had not been born of a
woman, because it was through a woman that he had gained
mastery over man in the beginning, and set himself up as
man’s adversary.
That is why the Lord proclaims himself the Son of
Man, the one who renews in himself that first man from
whom the race born of woman was formed; as by a man’s
defeat our race fell into the bondage of death, so by a man’s
victory we were to rise again to life.
Giving Tree. Thanks to all of you who gave so
generously to the “Giving Tree.” Because of your kindness,
over 35 families and 210 people 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
Let me extend a particular invitation to 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).
Mark Your Calendars. The Feast of St. Raymond of
Peñafort is on January 7, and this year we will mark the
Feast by having Forty Hours of Eucharistic Adoration on
January 6 and 7. We’ll have more details in the coming
weeks, so be on the lookout for a parish-wide email and sign
up. This is also part of our 3-year preparation for the 2024
celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the
Diocese of Arlington on August 13, 1974.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles