December 28, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Merry Christmas! As the Octave and Season of Christmas continues, I want to wish all of you a Blessed and Holy and Merry Christmas. I hope that your Christmas Day was wonderful and filled with holiness and good cheer, and that you were all able to spend time with your family and friends. Most of all, I hope it was a day of recognizing and experiencing the love of the Omnipotent God the Son, born in human nature and flesh, the Baby Jesus.

Thanks. I’d like to say “thanks” all those who worked so hard to make Advent and Christmas so special this year. In particular, the choir, cantors, musicians (especially Denise Anezin) and Elisabeth Turco for all the beautiful music. All the volunteers, young and not so young, for their work on Breakfast with Santa and the Senior Lunch (particularly the American Heritage Girls and Trail Life boys). The Knights of Columbus for all they did in so many ways. Nena Brennan and her family, and all the other sacristans, for all their work in preparing the sanctuary. Julie Mullen and her family and the rest of the flower committee, for decorating the church so beautifully. To the ushers who helped make everything run so smoothly, especially Patrick O’Brien. To all those who contributed so much in time and treasure to the Giving Tree. To all those who assisted in special ways at the Mass, especially the altar boys, lectors (led by Phil Bettwy), extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (led by Barbara Aldridge and Christine Spengler). Also thanks to our custodial workers from Spring Cleaning, Luis Tapia and Dania Ochoa, for keeping the church so clean. A special thanks to the rest of our dedicated parish staff, Kirsti Tyson, Virginia Osella, Joe Marquart, Mary Butler, Vince Drouillard, Mary Salmon, and Jeanne Sause, who all work very hard during Advent. And finally, to my brother priests, Fr. Edward Horkan and Fr. Robert Rippy, as well as Msgr. Patrick Dempsey, for their dedicated service to the parish. I know I’ve left out lots of groups and names; my apologies. Thank you all, and God bless you all.

New Year’s. I look forward seeing all of you on New Year’s Eve or Day, to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Since it falls on a Saturday this year, it is not a holy day of obligation, but I still encourage you to come Mass. Maybe I’ll see some of you at Midnight Mass: we keep things simple at this Mass, but it’s the perfect way to bring in the New Year. May the Christ Child bless you in the New Year, and may His Blessed Mother keep you in her care. Blessed and Merry Christmas, and Holy and Happy New Year!

Pope Benedict XVI, Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Angelus Address, Saint Peter’s Square, December 30, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In the liturgy the passage from Luke’s Gospel presents to us the Virgin Mary and St Joseph. Faithful to the tradition, they go to Jerusalem for the Passover taking the 12-year-old Jesus with them. The first time that Jesus had entered the Temple of the Lord was 40 days after his birth, when his parents had offered on his behalf “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Lk 2:24) on his behalf, that is, the sacrifice offered by the poor.

          “Luke, whose entire Gospel is shot through with a theology of the poor and a theology of poverty, is once again making it abundantly clear that Jesus’ family belongs to the poor of Israel, and that it was among such as them that the promises would be fulfilled” (Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, p. 81).

          Today Jesus is once again in the Temple, but this time he has a different role, which involves him in the first person. He makes the pilgrimage, with Mary and Joseph, to Jerusalem as prescribed by the Law (cf. Ex 23:17, 34:23 ff) even though he was not yet in his thirteenth year: a sign of the Holy Family’s deep devotion. Yet, when his parents set out on their return to Nazareth, something unexpected happens. Without saying a word Jesus remains in the city. Mary and Joseph search for him for three days and find him in the Temple, conversing with the teachers of the Law (Lk 2: 46, 47); and when they ask him for an explanation, Jesus answers that they should not be surprised since this is his place, the house of his Father, who is God (The Infancy Narratives, p. 123). “He”, Origen writes, “professes to be in the temple of his Father, the Father who has revealed himself to us and whose Son he says he is” (Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, 18, 5).

          Mary and Joseph’s anxiety about Jesus is the same as that of every parent who educates a child, introduces him or her to life and to understanding reality. Today, therefore, it is only right to say a special prayer to the Lord for all the families of the world. Emulating the Holy Family of Nazareth, may parents be seriously concerned with the development and upbringing of their children so that they grow up to be responsible and honest citizens, never forgetting that faith is a precious gift to be nurtured in their children by their own example.

          At the same time let us pray that every child be welcomed as a gift of God and be supported by the love of both parents in order to increase, like the Lord Jesus “in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man” (Lk 2:52).

          May the love, loyalty and dedication of Mary and Joseph be an example to all Christian couples who are not the friends or masters of their children’s lives, but rather are custodians of this incomparable gift of God.

The silence of Joseph, a just man (cf. Mt 1:19), and the example of Mary who kept all these things in her heart (cf. Lk 2:51), usher us into the mystery of the Holy Family, full of faith and humanity. I hope that all Christian families will live in God’s presence with the same love and the same joy as the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles