Prayer for a Blessing on the New Year

O sacred and adorable Trinity,
hear our prayers on behalf of our holy Father the Pope,
our Bishops, our clergy,
and for all that are in authority over us.
Bless, we beseech You,
during the coming year,
the whole Catholic Church;
convert and unbelievers;
soften the hearts of sinners
so that they may return to Your friendship;
give prosperity to our country and peace
among the nations of the world;
pour down Your blessings upon
our friends, relatives, and acquaintances,
and upon our enemies, if we have any;
assist the poor and the sick;
have pity on the souls of those
whom this year has taken from us;
and do be merciful to those
who during the coming year
will be summoned before Your judgment seat.
May all our actions be preceded
by Your inspirations and carried on by Your assistance,
so that all our works,
having been begun in You,
may likewise be ended through You. Amen.


Rejoice, Rejoice To You Shall Come Emmanuel!

The past Sunday we celebrated the third week of Advent. Boy, did I make an spectacle of myself. No, I didn't fall from a ladder, slip on ice or drink too much. I simply showed up to do Mass wearing pink -- or should I use the correct term ROSE. The compliments from so many women as they departed from Mass took me aback. But what does the rose colored candle in the Advent Wreath or the rose colored vestment mean?
This particular Sunday is known as "Gaudate Sunday." The words "joy" and "rejoice" appear several times in the readings. Joy is an elusive feeling for most of us. We have moments of joy associated with special events in our lives, celebrations, or spontaneous moments of pure fun. But sustaining joy -- for most of us -- seems exhausting or impossible. The joy that the readings speak about, however, is not a temporary feeling that is determined by the circumstances around us. This joy comes from being completely confident that God is with us -- protecting, redeeming, justifying and guarding us. This is the joy that we are hoping and longing for. This is the joy that we hope that will be ours completely one day.


Tearing Down & Building Up

You are God’s household, built on the foundation with Jesus himself as the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19-20
Talk of building up and tearing down can bring tensions to the surface in any group. What is to remain and what should be swept away? Preservation and plans for growth seem to conflict. Strong opinions and deep loyalties begin to surface. This week the former fire struck Saint Patrick Rectory will be torn down in order to make parking lot. One can only imagine all that the walls of the building would say if they could utter a word.

Paul’s words to the believers at Ephesus remind us that God is also involved in demolition and construction. God was in the process of “closing down” the temple that stood in Jerusalem. In fact, in A.D. 70, the Roman siege of Jerusalem ended in the physical demolition of the temple. With it the structure of old loyalties and convictions would fall.

But a new temple is under construction. This temple is the church, and it includes all believers in Christ as living building blocks. This building is magnificent and secure. The glorious structure that comes together fits the intentions of the Lord. Each believer, each building block, complements all the others, and all belong together as they connect to Christ, the cornerstone.

Our lives are often marked by personal building projects. But as wonderful as our own initiatives can be, we know that God’s buildings (us) replace the structures made with our own hands. The products of our earthly lives will one day be replaced by all things made new.


Origin of Advent

The exact time when the season of Advent came to be celebrated is not precisely known. Of course, it was not in practice before the celebration of the Nativity and Christmastide began; the earliest evidence shows that the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was established within the later part of the 4th century. There are homilies from the 5th century that discuss preparation in a general sense, but do not indicate an official liturgical season. A Synod held in 590 established that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from November 11th until the Nativity would be offered according to the Lenten rite. This and other traditions, such as fasting, show that the period of time now established as the Advent season was more penitential (similar to Lent) than the liturgical season as we know it today.

A collection of homilies from Pope St. Gregory the Great (whose papacy was from 590-604) included a sermon for the second Sunday of Advent, and by 650 Spain was celebrating the Sundays (five at the time) of Advent. So it seems the liturgical season was established around the latter part of the 6th century and first half of the 7th century. For the next couple of centuries, Advent was celebrated for five Sundays; Pope Gregory VII, who was pope from 1073-85, reduced the number to four Sundays.