Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. In the "old" days, this Sunday was called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete basically means "be happy" or "rejoice". On the surface, we are rejoicing because Christmas is almost here.
On a deeper level, we are rejoicing because Jesus – Who came as our Savior long ago – is coming again to bring us to the fullness of His Kingdom. In spite of all the troubles in our world, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ and His Eternal Kingdom of Peace and Justice.
The brightly colored rose candle we light today, like the rose-colored vestments the priest wears today, are a reflection of this joy. They are also a reminder that – as we wait for Christ and the joy of His Kingdom – we should bring joy to others by our works of charity and compassion. I want to thank all who did so by bringing gifts for the Giving Tree!
Last weekend was a busy one in our parish. The School hosted a Breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning. Parents cooked and served a great breakfast, and Santa came to see the kids. The school choir caroled for a while, and there were even reindeer rides! In deference to those who don't like to fly, the reindeer refrained from flying! Special thanks are due to the Home School Association and everyone else who took part.
On Sunday there was a wonderful celebration honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Spanish Mass at 1 PM featured a special procession with her image. After Mass, a spirited celebration in Mercy Hall – with dancing, singing, and food, was filled with parishioners and visitors. The Guadalupe Committee worked very hard and are to be congratulated for a job well done!
Remember that there will be a Penance Service this Monday (December 17) at 7 PM in our Church. At least 10 priests will be there to hear Confessions, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. We will hear Confessions as long as necessary that evening.
The Confessions will be preceded by a very brief prayer service to help everyone examine their conscience and prepare for Confession. If you missed the Examination of Conscience in last week's bulletin, you can find a good one in the "How to Make a Good Confession" pamphlets near the Church doors. Read it over prayerfully in preparation for Confession.
Please remember that the 4 PM on Christmas Eve is generally very crowded. If you need a good parking spot, or a little more space in Church, it might be wise to go to Mass on Christmas morning – when there is generally a lighter crowd (especially at the 7 and 9 AM). Of course, the main Mass of Christmas is the Solemn Mass at Midnight. I love to celebrate this joyful and beautiful Mass, and hope many of you will join me at it. If you can go to Midnight Mass, please do. There is something very moving about celebrating our Savior's birth at Midnight on Christmas Eve!
Have a great week – and pray a Hail Mary for me!