My heart changed.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 

Thank you for joining as we continue in the celebration of the Christmas Season and in our expectation of the Lord’s return in glory.

This unique Solemnity in our Holy Church dedicates a Sunday in the early Christmas season to the remembrance of those shepherds who first heard of the Lord’s birth from the angels. This Solemnity is so important that it displaces all other Solemnities of the Christmas season excepting the Circumcision, Holy Name of Jesus, and Epiphany should they occur on a Sunday. In most years, this Solemnity occurs on the Sunday after the Nativity. In years like this one with Christmas on a Sunday, this Solemnity is celebrated on the 8th of January.

This Solemnity is wonderful on so many levels for it shows how God interacts with humanity. God sent His angels to the poor workers of the region to announce His salvation, the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament. In fact, He chose the lowest of the low to receive this news.

We can assess their humility from the fact they were not people of pretense. They could not fool anyone about who they were – they even smelled like their work – the sheep, the pastures and woodland.

A lack of pretense is one sign of humility. Oxford notes that humility is: ‘Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance. Of low social, administrative, or political rank.’

Another sign of humility / humbleness is what the Shepherd’s did with the news. They trusted and went, then having seen told people about it directly and honestly. The Shepherds experienced God and didn’t have to think about it, philosophize, theologize, or seek the local descendent of Aaron, a Levite, or religious leader to interpret for them.

In the Letter of St. James (James 4:10) we hear: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. Good advice! The more like these Shepherds we are the better off we will be because God will be holding us up.

If we are hanging on to any pretense, let’s wash ourselves of it in confession. If we are grasping after the straws the world offers, know they will snap and break, and we will be alone. So, if we are grasping, let us stop and grasp onto Jesus. If we are holding off in talking about Jesus or waiting for the advice of philosophers, theologians, priests, or best sellers, let us stop waiting and get to work. Speak of Him.

Last week we spoke of being changed, having changed hearts and lives. Here we see the practical model of people who are transparent, honest, and humble about what God has done. God sent His Son Jesus to save us. Let us live as saved and humble as those Shepherds who declared the Lord.

Pray too for all present and these future humble shepherds of our Church: Alfonsito, Nick, Sean, David, Jason, Todd, Adam, Zach, Kevin, Zach, James, Nick, Rodryg, and all Deacon candidates.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Imagine if you will, an asteroid falls to earth. Upon investigation scientists discover a new element, one unknown throughout history. There is just so much of the element and it is removed and and taken to a lab. The element is found to have a beautiful appearance, an infinite number of valuable uses, and in-and-of-itself is rare. Everyone has heard of the element via the news and social networks and that news causes it to further increase in value. Everyone would love to have it in their possession. With all this going on, people are talking about the new element all-the-time, they are doing all they can to pursue it, and there is no work or sacrifice people would not expend to have it in their possession.

Jesus tells us as recorded in Matthew 6:21 that where a person’s treasure is, so is their heart there.

Eight days ago we recalled the precious gift that came down from heaven, like our imaginary asteroid element one-of-a-kind, filled with light/luminous, rare, and infinitely present and perfect in all situations. That gift is Jesus, God with us, ever present.

Now one thing about our journey through the liturgical year, following in the footsteps of Jesus and the key moments and teachings given to us is how we live because of them. We could consider our experience of Jesus disconnected and one-off, of no more value than perhaps a few hours on a Sunday and a few occasional holidays, but if we see the truth of the treasure we have, its preciousness, we do all we can and even more to fully possess Him. If we do indeed see the value of Jesus and we make His value central in our lives, we will talk about Him all-the-time. We will pursue Him in our reading of Scripture and in times of dedicated prayer. We will count no work or sacrifice too much if we dedicate them to carrying out Jesus’ commands. If Jesus is our treasure then our hearts will be focused on Him alone. Let our continuing celebration of the forty days of Christmas cause us to reflect on the gift we have received and how we treasure it.


Welcome to our January 2023 Newsletter and the ongoing celebration of the Christmas season (all forty days of Christmas which started Christmas Day). As you can imagine, there is tons going on. 

We start by taking a look at all the good we are doing within our community, whether direct assistance to families, empowering the women among us, gathering clothing and food which continues in the SouperBowl of Caring – Let’s Tackle Hunger. There are several events going on including Christmas season gatherings and our hosting of prayer for Christian Unity on Saturday, January 21st at 5pm. It is time to recognize those who have been awarded music scholarships in the past and encourage all to apply for a scholarship. There are plenty of thanks to go around and a schedule of most of this year’s big events.

All that and more in our January 2023 Newsletter.

This week’s memory verse: Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”

Jeremiah 4:4
  • 1/1 – 1 Corinthians 7:19
  • 1/2 – Romans 4:11
  • 1/3 – Galatians 2:3
  • 1/4 – Romans 2:29
  • 1/5 – Philippians 3:3
  • 1/6 – 1 Corinthians 7:18
  • 1/7 – Colossians 2:11

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, You have made me new, reborn to a life of grace. Grant that I might perceive this new reality in which I live and live it more fully. Amen.

My heart changed.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus 

Thank you for joining as we continue in the celebration of the Christmas Season and in our expectation of the Lord’s return in glory.

The question on everyone’s mind – why celebrate this? I mean, think about it. This ceremony performed probably in Joseph and Mary’s home and all it entails – well it seems both minor and kind of gross.

The Roman Church got rid of this celebration and converted it to a Marian Feast. That cleaned it all up, right? They do not have to think about all this, and they thought they made it all pretty. Unfortunately, they lost the point.

So why do we celebrate our Lord’s circumcision? There are several very important reasons to celebrate.

One reason is that it is factual. January 1st is eight days from December 25th, and in accord with God’s instruction to Abraham which Joe so elegantly read, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised.

Another reason, and this is particularly important for us, is that the fact of the circumcision, the pain and loss of blood, was testament to Jesus’ humanity. Indeed, God had become man. Jesus laid down His Deity and took on our flesh so He could deliver on all the Father’s promises to us.

Jesus as man was the only One Who could save us from our sins by paying their penalty, Who could redeem us, and Who could make us new and co-heirs with Him to eternity in the Kingdom now and to come.

How privileged we all are that God became man, that His humanity was one-hundred percent real and full. Many ancient heresies tried to downplay or outright rejected Jesus’ humanity, but without that humanity we could not have been saved, our debt would not be paid, we would remain our old fallen selves.

In the circumcision we are reminded that this baby boy, Jesus, faced all we face. He was not some magical figure, sitting up in the manger and doing calculus, or speaking, or anything other than what 8-day old babies do – eating, crying, and needing a diaper change.

Finally, the circumcision is a sign in the old covenant, the covenant that Jesus, as God, enjoined on the Jewish people and all in their nation.

Jesus took on this sign of the old covenant in His flesh to declare that He was of Israel, its true son, and just as the sign of the old covenant was in His flesh so would the sign of the new covenant be in His flesh – in nail marks, scars, and a pierced side.

For us, the new covenant in Christ’s flesh and blood frees us, as St Paul says, from the Law and its prescriptions. We live a new changed existence in grace.

St. Paul is being very careful in exhorting the Galatians and us so we might perceive our new reality – who we really are as a changed people. The Galatians, and some today, believe that they can do stuff – be circumcised, cook a certain way, carry out lists of activities and be saved. How wrong they are!

Our salvation is in the God/man Jesus. He completed that work. Now we must accept Him, live changed lives, and walk His way in faith working through love.

This week’s memory verse: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14
  • 12/25 – James 1:17
  • 12/26 – Zechariah 9:9
  • 12/27 – Luke 1:14
  • 12/28 – Esther 9:22
  • 12/29 – Matthew 6:19-21
  • 12/30 – Colossians 3:14-16
  • 12/31 – Jeremiah 31:31

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to be wholly Yours and fully committed to the Way which You are. Assist me that I do not stumble in walking the gospel path.  Amen.

Ready!

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.

Thank you for joining as we celebrate, once again, our Lord’s first coming to be God with us, and as we continue to await His return in glory.

On this Christmas I would like us to consider a bit of literature and one character. The literature: Charles Dickens A Christmas Carole, the character, Ebeneezer Scrooge.

A Christmas Carole has been made into a movie at least forty-six times. It has been further adapted, most recently as “Spirited” on Apple TV.

The book really should be read for all the nuance one misses in the movies and stage plays. Its many transformations cause us to not just a loss of nuance, but more importantly the transformation of characters, most especially Scrooge into various personas not at all in keeping with who he was intended to be.

Now my favorite rendition, and you can find it on YouTube, is the 1951 version staring Alister Sim as Scrooge. What you will notice about this Scrooge is that his attitude toward everything in filled with an integrity of character. Almost everything we need to know about who he is and his example for us is in the first minute of the movie.

Scrooge is walking through the halls of the London exchange. The narrator tells us that Marley had died, Scrooge’s name was put on the Exchange, and he was successful in whatever he touched. He meets two men of business. We will see them later. They ask if he is leaving early to keep Christmas. He tells them point blank: “I am not in the habit of keeping Christmas.” They then ask why he is leaving early. He tells them that it is because Christmas keeps men from business. They respond that it is just the nature of things: “Ants toil, grasshoppers sings and play.”

Let’s unpack this. Scrooge is the steadfast one here. He knows who he is, and he lives it fully no matter what anyone thinks or says. We see this in his next encounters with the debtor, the children on the street singing, the men working for charity, and his nephew. 

Scrooge’s opposite are the men of businesses. They could care less about Christmas, it is just a thing, the way things are, so while they would rather be doing business, they go along. They do not believe enough in anything to stand for it. They are hypocrites. I mentioned we would get back to them. They appear several times, but last after Scrooge has died in the vision of the future. The one, when asked if he is going to the funeral, says ‘only if he gets fed.’

People of God, Christ Jesus has come and will come again. He is in or midst, among us. The question for us on this Christmas is: How will we keep Christmas?

At the end of the movie the narrator tells us that Scrooge, now transformed by grace, was better than his word. In this we see our call to transformation. A man 100% focused with complete integrity on the world and business has become a man 100% focused with complete integrity on walking Jesus’ gospel path. 

Can we be that transformed person right now? If so, let us then keep the light that has dawned for us and share that light with 100% commitment and integrity, not just this day, but every day, and God will bless us, everyone.

This week’s memory verse: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

John 13:34
  • 12/18 – Psalm 103:2-4
  • 12/19 – 1 Peter 3:8
  • 12/20 – Colossians 3:12
  • 12/21 – Psalm 37:5
  • 12/22 – Ephesians 4:32
  • 12/23 – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
  • 12/24 – Isaiah 30:18

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that as I urgently and expectantly await Your return I may be filled with and show forth Your love; a love which overcomes all silence, conflict, and evil. Amen.

Ready to love?

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

Thank you for joining as we continue in this time of expectation awaiting the Lord’s return.

Over the first two Sundays of Advent, we considered the cognates of hope and peace. Living expectantly, we are to mark each day as the day of the Lord’s return so that we may stay aware and prepared, living worthy lives, lives that show forth God’s love. 

We have hope which is confidence and surety in Christ Jesus Who delivers on all God’s promises. He gives us His grace, most especially here at Holy Mass, so we may live out His gospel way, being His love. Since we are sure of His promises, we are at peace regardless of what surrounds us.

In our life of hope and peace we achieve inner joy, a state of being wherein we are unaffected regardless of what is happening around us or even to us. We have joy because our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the deliverer of all God’s promises. Our state of joy is the starting point for a life in which we rejoice and share God’s love.

The Old Testament takes us on a tour of expectancy – the path along the plan God the Father is bringing to fruition, His sending of His only Son to save us. This tour lasted thousands of years and was marked throughout by God’s speaking to His people through the prophets. Suddenly there was silence. For about 400 years marked by conflict and great societal change God went silent.

Then…

Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zachariah are caught up in a whirlwind of God ordered events, the start of the New Testament, and the fulfillment of all that was expected. Jesus is revealed, God’s word is declared, sins are forgiven, and freedom from this world is provided for all who choose to dwell in the Kingdom.

God’s loving promise was brought to fulfillment in God’s loving coming to be with us, not just for a moment, for a day or season, but for eternity.

Think of it this way, the hope, peace, and joy we own has its source in God’s love. Our penance earlier and the freedom we now feel has its source in God’s love. Our setting forth from here into the week ahead is replete with the knowledge that God is with us with Jesus at our side and the Spirit at work within us. 

We think there is silence. For about 1989 years marked by conflict and great societal change we perceive God as silent. Brothers and sisters, He is not!

We pray that the Lord return. Let it be so! But if not yet, know that you and I are His voice and presence. His gifts and grace keep us ready to love. Let us then show forth His love in all we say and do as we await Him.

  • Wednesday, December 21st, 7:30am: Feast – St. Thomas the Apostle and Rorate Holy Mass – celebrated in candlelight.
  • Saturday, December 24th, 4pm: Vigil of the Nativity. Holy Mass for Children and Youth.
  • Sunday, December 25th, Midnight: Solemnity of the Nativity. Pasterka/Mass of the Shepherds. A High Holy Mass, offered with incense and chanting.
  • Sunday, December 25th, 10am: Holy Mass of Christmas Day.
  • Monday, December 26th, Noon: Feast, St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr. Holy Mass.
  • Tuesday, December 27th, Noon: Feast – St. John Apostle and Evangelist. Holy Mass with blessing and distribution of wine.
  • Wednesday, December 28th, Noon: Commemoration – Holy Innocents. Holy Mass.
  • Saturday, December 31st, Noon: Solemnity of Holy Family. Holy Mass.
  • Sunday, January 1st, 10am and Noon: Solemnity of the Circumcision. Holy Mass.
  • Monday, January 2nd, Noon: Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus. Holy Mass.
  • Friday, January 6th, Noon: Solemnity of the Epiphany. Holy Mass with blessing of incense and chalk. Epiphany Home Visitations/Kolędy begin.
  • Sunday, January 8th, 10am and Noon: Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Holy Mass.
  • Monday, January 9th, Noon: Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Holy Mass.

This week’s memory verse: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4
  • 12/11 – Romans 5:3
  • 12/12 – Luke 10:20
  • 12/13 – Isaiah 61:10
  • 12/14 – Acts 16:33-34
  • 12/15 – Isaiah 65:18
  • 12/16 – Zephaniah 3:14-17
  • 12/17 – Acts 8:38-39

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that my mind and heart be fixed on You and in seeing You I may live in perpetual joy. Grant also that I may show my joy through my exultancy. Amen.