From the Pastor
3rd Sunday of
Advent – B
Gaudete [Rejoice] Sunday
December 17, 2017
By now we have had our fill of commercials showing idealistic and unrealistic images of tensionless, joy-filled, ‘perfect’ Christmases: late-night returning college students who make coffee; new luxury cars parked in snowy driveways; turkeys perfectly carved – at the table no less; Santas who bring everything wanted, already assembled! While we should dream of, hope and pray for a ‘perfect’ Christmas, we must also accept the fact that in our imperfect world, human weakness mars our best efforts. Even the Holy Family had its struggles: no room in the inn; a death-defying flight to Egypt to escape a madman; a child lost for three days …
Just as Jesus, Mary and Joseph endured every trial and challenge, so can we – IF we follow their example of total trust in God and His plan – and imitate their constant prayerfulness. Again, while Votive Masses are not usually celebrated during ‘privileged times’ like Advent, it might be good to keep the following orations close at hand, so we can pray them before family gatherings. Who knows: maybe this will be a more ‘perfect’ Christmas … if we ask for – and use – God’s help to make it so! Here are the Mass orations entitled ‘For the Family.‘
Collect – For Promoting Harmony
O God, who are perfect unity and true charity,
grant your faithful one heart and one mind,
that the body of your Church,
which rests on the confession of the truth,
may flourish in harmony
and be made strong in enduring unity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.
ONE HEART AND ONE MIND.
Talk about a dreamy ideal: make us ‘one heart and one mind!’ Some families, like my own, have ‘set rules’ for family gatherings: no discussions about politics, sports – or even religion. [That last one’s often tough for me to keep!] However, Jesus never ‘beat a dead horse;’ sometimes He disengaged with those whose hearts and minds were ‘dead set’ against His heart and mind. So when it’s a ‘no win’ situation – learn to let go and leave it in God’s hands!
Prayer over the Offerings – For Promoting Harmony
O God, who renew us in your image through your Sacraments and your commandments,
mercifully guide our footsteps in your paths,
that through these sacrificial offerings which
we bring we may possess the gift of charity,
for which you have taught us to hope.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
DIVINE HELP WITH HUMAN STRUGGLES.
So many try to ‘go it alone’ when they deal with stressful family situations … yet God is always ready to help – but we must ask for and use His help! While it’s difficult to keep the Lord’s Commandments as others break them, God never said, “Thou shalt not … unless others do.” Dealing with belligerent, issue-laden, negative family members does not give us the right to treat them as they treat us. And let’s admit it: sometimes we are the offenders. That’s where the Sacraments come in handy: the Eucharist gives us the grace to become another Christ; Penance, Confession or Reconciliation can heal us when we’ve caused the fire, or added fuel to it. Do we use the divine help God offers through the Commandments and Sacraments?
Prayer after Communion – For Promoting Harmony
We have received, O Lord,
the Sacrament of unity; grant us, we pray,
that, living in your house in holy accord,
we may possess the peace we hand on
and preserve the peace we have received.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
PASS ON WHAT YOU RECEIVE.
As members of God’s family, we are beneficiaries of so many gifts: pardon of sin; supernatural grace; community support; time-tested, divinely inspired teachings. Do we invite others to enjoy – and benefit from – what we so freely receive through the Church? Do we take tranquility and peace for granted? For having a holy family does not happen by magic; it requires prayer, sacrifice, patience, a positive attitude – and God’s grace. Are we doing our part to make this the most ‘perfect’ Christmas possible? Jesus, Mary and
Joseph, pray for us!
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS