Love.

Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.

This Advent we focus on the promises of God. We have provided a handy follow along book of reflections and devotions covering thirty promises of God broken down under the categories of hope, peace, joy, and love. This final week we reflect on God’s promise of love.

Remember that promises from God are things we can absolutely count on. We have perfect assurance that God’s promise of love will be fulfilled. We know this more so because God has shown us by His outward action that His love is perfect and all giving.

St. Paul is reflecting on that very fact in today’s Epistle. He calls our attention, once again, to the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, came to once and for all consecrate us – that is to make us holy and pleasing to His Father. He would do this, not through the sin offerings of people, which God did not delight in, but through the love offering of Himself, the perfect sacrifice as willed by the Father.

It is key for us to focus on the value of offerings. You see, the sin sacrifices of people could never compensate God for what they had done. Rather, its key metric was in the way it forced people to evaluate, in a tangible way, the cost of what they had done. 

Now if a person were really dedicated to loving God, they would say the cost is too high. I must rather turn away from sin and by doing so, not suffer the cost consequences. But the people never did change, they got caught up in paying to play. Their hearts remained hard, not like the hearts of flesh God wished them to have. For them, it boiled down to an equation in the Law.

To change the equation, to fully carry out the will of the Father, His Son, Jesus, had to step up and say yes. He had to give His love totally to the Father in sacrifice. By doing so He carried out the Father’s will for us. 

Jesus carried out the Father’s love mission. He destroyed the old equation of cost sacrifices and says to us, come, live in my love. St. John’s repeats Jesus’ words: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

The choice is clear. We have met our God Who gave Himself as sacrifice. We cannot pay, there is no option for that, so we must choose to dedicate ourselves to Him, to live in His love. If we make that choice, we are among those made holy by God’s perfect love gift.

In the face of God’s love, Mary served, Elizabeth proclaimed, and John leapt. In the face of God’s love, we must also serve, proclaim, and leap, not to pay, but as sign of love in our consecrated lives.

Joy

Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.

This Advent we focus on the promises of God. We have provided a handy follow along book of reflections and devotions covering thirty promises of God broken down under the categories of hope, peace, joy, and love. This week we reflect on God’s promise of joy.

Remember that promises from God are things we can absolutely count on. As such, we have absolute and perfect assurance that God’s promise of joy will be fulfilled.

As I began reflecting on this Sunday and its readings and gospel, the song: “I’ve got joy, joy, joy deep in my heart” kept ringing in my ears. Indeed, that is God’s desire for us, that we would have His joy deep within us.

I would be remis if I did not remind myself and all of us that God’s joy, here on earth, is not giddy happiness. It is not the worldly definition of happiness at all. Rather, it is a deep and profound contentment that all is well in my life. Happiness is an emotion while joy is both emotion and state of being.

Joy means I have an assurance, a promise from God that I can face whatever comes with a feeling of good pleasure, inner contentment, and satisfaction because I am in Jesus, because the Holy Spirit dwells with me and guides me through everything.

God is at work in our lives, and He has shown us a way through, especially through trials. If we have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, there is no question as to our ultimate outcome. We can therefore be joyfully content no matter what.

John came as the Forerunner to preach a message of good news. The Savior, the Messiah, the One Who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire is coming, and we know He is returning. By John’s preaching people came to repentance, a change in their lives that gave them real joy. They were no longer burdened by wrongs they committed, and they were refreshed. They could approach life joyfully.

So too we. Our Advent guide points out, we have (1) Each Day as a Gift, (2) A God Who Gave His Life for Me, (3) Salvation, (4) A God Who Delights in Me, (5) An Approachable God Who Listens, (6) A Choice of Joy Amidst Trials, and (7) God’s Trustworthy Promise. We can live joyful lives in all these promises.

We are called to the knowledge that God is indeed with us. He is present in our everyday lives. He is accessible and open to us. In any circumstance or situation, we can accept comfort and peace, contentment – that is: joy from God.

Paul re-reminds us: The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all. Let us then go forth with joy, joy, joy, deep in our hearts. 

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

We might say that 2021 has been the “Year of Delivery Woes.” The mail, shipping issues, misdirected packages, oops, we had to change the delivery date are all things we heard. They may have caused us some frustration. Did you know that there is one area of delivery that has worked perfectly? No, it is not a matchup between FedEx, UPS, USPS, and DHL – it is the assured delivery of God’s promises.

Look at the verse from 2 Corinthians 1:20 above. It says that ALL THE PROMISES OF GOD have their YES in Jesus. Jesus is indeed the delivery fulfiller. Throughout human history God made promises. He would deliver His people from sin and death. He would bring peace and healing. He would turn people’s stoney/hard personalities into heart centered personalities – they would be people of love. He would show His people the way to true joy – a joy that overcomes circumstances, a joy that is more than momentary happiness. The promises of God have been fulfilled and ratified in Christ. He is the living incarnate “Yes” and “Amen” to God’s promises. The Greek word Ναί translated Yes means strong affirmation; yes.

Jesus therefore delivers on all of the promises of God. There is no delay, there is no unexpected trouble in receiving those promises. He is always on-time and nothing is ever missing or in the way. Throughout Advent we will focus on thirty of God’s promises under the headings of hope, peace, joy, and love. We will see how Jesus has and is delivering His Father’s promises in both our personal and communal lives. God holds promises for us. Come, see how He is intervening to draw us closer to the realization that His promises are real promises for us as a community of faith. Scripture calls us to answer amen to Jesus’ YES. So let us do so this Advent in church. Let our Amen echo our yes to His YES.

Welcome to our December 2021 Newsletter. So much going on. We have Daily Holy Mass, Rorate Holy Mass, Christmas Wafers/Opłatek available, our Parish Vigil / Wigilia Dinner on December 12th, the greening of the church on December 19th, and of course our full schedule for the Christmas Season (as we celebrate for forty days). The Holy Masses of Christmas include 4pm for families with children, Midnight Holy Mass / Pasterka – at Midnight (yes, for real), and Christmas Day at 10am. That and so much more within our December 2021 Newsletter.

Peace.

For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice

This Advent we focus on the promises of God. We have provided a handy follow along book of reflections and devotions covering thirty promises of God broken down under the categories of hope, peace, joy, and love. This week we reflect on God’s promise of peace.

Remember that promises from God are things we can absolutely count on. As such, we have absolute and perfect assurance that His promise of peace will be fulfilled.

Our first reading is taken from the Prophet Baruch The book is a reflection of a Jewish writer on the circumstances of the exiles returning, or yet to return, from exile in Babylon.

We can imagine ourselves set upon by enemies, separated from our homes and those we love, pressed into servitude and in mourning for all that has been lost. We know that our failures and sins have led to this end. We long to return to our God and to home. Our souls seek peace, the peace only God can deliver – how He will bring us back.

Peace is a sweet promise from God. As with those exiles, we live amongst constant chaos. If our homes are seemingly at peace, the news invades. Uneasiness, discomfort, and stress surround us. The world is dissolving but we, by faith, know that God is still on the throne and because of that we have the peace given us through Jesus Christ.

Peace comes when we really trust in Jesus Who conveyed His Father’s promise of peace. God, Who is greater than all people and things, Who is bigger than the universe, Who surpasses all understanding is the only one who can deliver true peace, a peace beyond our understanding. but that we can experience if we accept it. If we accept His peace all is well because we are in God and have His rest on the road to the Kingdom.

God’s promise of peace removes obstacles. It smooths the way to heaven.  It allows our hearts, minds, and bodies to rest peacefully and to walk the way unobstructed by the wild world – on the smooth path.

As our Advent guide points out, we have (1) Peace In Our Struggles, (2) God’s Guidance, (3) A Lord That Bears Our Burdens, (4) Relief From Troubles And Fears, (5) Wisdom Along The Way, (6) Wise Example To Follow and Learn From, and (7) The Ability To Be Peacemakers Ourselves. We can live that.

Peace is more than the absence of conflict or discomfort. It is completeness, health, justice, prosperity, and protection. To have peace we must live fully in the peace promise of God, His gift. Having peace means we know and trust in our spirits that everything will really be better than just ok no matter what. It will be perfect!

Hope.

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.

This Advent we focus on the promises of God. We have provided a handy follow along book of reflections and devotions covering thirty promises of God broken down under the categories of hope, peace, joy, and love. This week we reflect on God’s promise of hope.

First, let us cover what a promise is. A promise is an assurance that what is said will come to be. I am sure we have been assaulted in our lives by unkept promises, whether the kids forgot to clean up or take out the trash, a seller reneges on a guarantee, or more seriously a promise is broken at a level affecting our relationships.

Every broken promise hurts. Each affects our trust relationships. Assurance seems not so assured. But thanks be, we have a God Who provides promises we can absolutely count on. You see, God cannot lie. God, in His perfection, can only utter truth. As such, when God makes a promise, we have absolute and perfect assurance that His promise will be fulfilled.

God promised to give us hope. But what is hope? Hope is not the kind of wishy-washy thing we engage in day-to-day – I hope I win the lottery, I hope my ship comes in, I hope it doesn’t rain or snow. No, the hope God offers is a certainty about the future. In God’s promises of hope we have certainty that the things He said will come to pass and that impacts our lives in the present. If we know our future, how we live today changes.

Our study guide covers seven areas of hope promised by God. It helps us inspect our lives and see if we are living today as our future portends. The hope promises are these:

Light in the Darkness – Jesus is the Light. He helps us inspect those areas of darkness in us that need His cleansing light.

Renewed Strength – we do not have to struggle – God will come through on our behalf no matter the circumstance.

Hope and a Future – for those loyal to God, who follow His gospel way – our current situations are not our always situation. God has a plan and future waiting for us.

A Full Life and Eternal Life – It is life that is a gift now/today and awaits us eternally. This life cannot be taken away from us unless we allow it. This life was won for us in the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Anything is Possible with God – yes, God has no barriers unless we erect them through unbelief.

God Is Our Firm Anchor – He cannot be moved, and He gives us assurance. Let us be confident in our hope.

This week let us focus on our assured hope.

“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

In our Catholic tradition we consider Advent to be a time of fasting, prayer, and penitence. To modern ears that seems weird. Isn’t the whole Advent season about getting ready for Christmas? After all, this isn’t Lent.

Liturgically, Advent may look penitential (at least in some parishes priests use violet vestments). In our parish we use blue vestments, a valid liturgical color in our Church. This more clearly distinguishes Advent from Lent. We focus on the expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and on our own expectation of Christmas, Jesus’ first coming. We also use Advent to focus on the end of the world, Jesus’ triumphant return. Thus the need for readiness. Advent is indeed a period of devout and expectant preparation, getting ready, and does have a penitential character. We all need to take ongoing sanctification (becoming more Christ-like) seriously and both Advent and Lent call this to mind in a very focused way. As Lent is a preparation for the awesome celebration of the Resurrection, so Advent is preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth and return.

We are to spend Advent reflecting on the areas of our spiritual and material lives where we fall short in living up to the standards Jesus set for us; working diligently so we are ready for the Bridegroom’s return. We should not loose the opportunity of Advent, but rather take advantage of it. Throughout Advent, like in Lent, we should be focused on prayer, scriptural reading, works of charity, all part of personal growth as we await Jesus return. We should take time to fast and pray so that Jesus might find us ready to meet Him each day and upon His return.

This Advent we focus on the Promises of God, promises that are guaranteed. We will take steps together to grow in Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Come to church on November 28th for your free book and let us prepare together.

Welcome to our November 2021 Newsletter. Much to read and consider including our schedule for the month, our entry into Advent at the end of the month (free gift included), the return of daily Holy Mass to the parish life, parish history documented, the month of All Souls, our clothing and food drives assisting those in need locally, our discipleship lesson, a prayer for Thanksgiving, a short report out on the clergy conference, and a retrospective on our centennial celebration. That and much more awaits you.

Check out all this and more in our November 2021 Newsletter.

Love!

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

In the first three weeks of Advent we focused on hope, peace, and joy and how those key elements of God’s Kingdom life must be shown in our lives and conveyed by us who are His people, the brothers and sisters of His Divine Son, Jesus.

Our kingdom tasks – what we are to convey – is:

  • An offer of hope to those we encounter;
  • To be peace in the midst of the communities we are involved in – our neighborhoods, workplaces, social groups, and families; and
  • To be promoters and bringers of joy, bearers of a joyous message – Jesus has saved us and is available to each and every person. Come meet Him.

In this final week of Advent (lasting less than a full week), we focus on our responsibility to love.

The Alan Jackson’s song, ‘I Need A Love Like That,’ as certain songs do, conveys what we seek, our need for a love that surpasses time and space, a love that takes hold of us, completes us, and makes us whole. We all need a love like that.

God understands that need, for He Himself is love. So, God determined to act and give His all, His very Son to us. He carried out His plan to show us the immensity of His love by engaging people who would respond in love. We know their names: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachariah, Simeon, Anna, and John. We know their occupations: shepherds and Maji, Levites and prophets.

By the giving of God’s greatest gift, and our acceptance of that gift, we follow in the footsteps of love. We become bearers of the central element of God’s Kingdom – love. 

As with those who responded to God’s plan with love, we respond in love. We show forth the all-encompassing love that surpasses time and space. We bear that love which has taken hold of us, that has completed us, and that has made us whole.

Indeed, God has engaged us because He knows we are people who will respond in love. We know our responsibility is to love and by love to draw people to Jesus. 

Our names inscribed in the Book of Life are known to God. Our professions, whether accountants, civil servants, service workers, business owners, healthcare workers, or even priests give us the opportunity to show love. Our times and circumstances allow us to hear those who say, ‘I need love’ and answer with Jesus, the love that will take hold of, complete, and make them whole.

Joy!

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.

In the first week of Advent, we focused on hope; our very own kingdom task of offering hope to those we encounter. In the second week of Advent we focused on peace, both personal peace and being peace to those we encounter.

In this third week of Advent we focus on joy and rejoicing. Rejoice, the Lord is near! In reflecting on joy and rejoicing we recognize that we are asked to be bringers of joy and rejoicing. St. Paul also instructs us – Do not quench the Spirit. 

Something that rang true for most of us last week was recalling the difference between someone who walks into a room and, well, removes all peace and the person who walks in and we say, ahhhh, I feel at ease now.

Now imagine another person walks in, on fire with the Spirit. They open our eyes to possibilities and fill us with a share of that same Spirit. We feel uplifted, energized, filled with joy, and are ready to go forward with rejoicing. On the other hand, imagine that other person walking in – the quencher, the negative person who sees no joy, who refuses to allow the inspiration of the Sprit in, and wants to ensure no one else does either.

As the faithful we must be careful to be promoters and bringers of joy, to recognize where the Spirit in moving amongst us, where God is among us. Where – Emmanuel – is acting to move us forward.

Indeed, we are bearers of a joyous message – Jesus has saved us and is available to each and every person. The Holy Spirit has infused us with life and His great gifts of praise, song, wisdom, and voices that along with John can proclaim, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’”

What a wonderful message of joyous anticipation – the very heart of Advent, Jesus is near, He is ready to meet you as He has met me. Proclaim that the Spirit is in us and work to bear God’s joy by making the Lord’s way straight, by filling in where people are low and easing the jagged edges in the lives of those we know.

John was confronted by the joy removers, the naysayers, the quenchers. John bore a message of joy, the forgiveness of sin and the opportunity, soon upon the people around him, to meet the Savior, the Messiah Who now lives among us. John’s joy filled message in response to the Pharisees and Levites still rings true – in our age perhaps even more than in the Israel of John’s time – “there is one among you whom you do not recognize.” Wake up and recognize Him. Meet Him and be filled with joy.

To have the fulness of joy, to look forward, no matter what is going on about us, with joy, is to have Jesus alive in us, the Holy Spirit moving within us, and to share the message – Rejoice! 

Peace!

Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

In the first week of Advent, we focused on hope. We learned that we stand in charge, each with our own kingdom task – to offer hope. We asked that on Jesus’ return He would find us expectantly waiting and offering the hope found in His name.

This week we focus on peace, both personal peace and being peace.

In Isaiah we hear of God setting things right by freeing His people from sin. The herald is to come and prepare the landscape for the arrival of the Messiah. All is to be leveled, i.e., brought back to balance in preparation. For His arrival. The herald proclaims the good news – the Savior is near!

So, that is exactly what happens. John the Baptist, the herald arrives to cry out the good news. Through a baptism of repentance, people are forgiven and re-leveled. The valleys and hills in their personalities are leveled out so that they might have peace. The tensions, sorrows, weights and chains, frenzy that urges us to sin is cleared and we are brought back to peace. Our paths are cleared of sin so we may approach and meet the Savior.

Indeed, the Lord is returning, so as St. Paul teaches, we are to be the sort of people who conduct themselves in holiness and devotion so we may be found without spot or blemish. Paul wraps this all up and says we are to be found at peace.

This is a good time, and indeed the right time to consider our own hills and valleys, the obstacles between me and Jesus. What barriers am I putting in the way? What trenches am I digging? Is it anger and pride, my convincing myself I am right over all? Is it placing my trust in people or believing whatever self-serving truths are handed to me? Is it habitual sin or attractions that are unhealthy? There is a lot we can do to destroy peace and accord between each other and in the world and to mess up the straight path between ourselves and God.

Our first step is to get to personal peace with God through proper confession of sin, resolution to resist sin, penance for sins committed, repentance and reconciliation, and prayers for the grace necessary to stay on the level and straight peace-filled path to God. Once our valleys are filled in and our hills are leveled, we are to move to the next step, being God’s heralds of peace.

See, we could live in conflict. We could continue to toss Molotov cocktails in our words and actions, but doing so only burns us, for as St. Paul recounts: the earth and everything done on it will be found out. We will be accountable for our spiritual state and what we bring, and let it always be God’s peace.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

December, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. That’s our secular calendar for December. Whether we get our calendar at the bank, the local liquor store, or online – we can find all those things. But if we happen to have picked up a Home Liturgical Calendar (there’s still a few available), we find a bridge, the start of a new Church Year with the season of Advent. Advent is about hope and expectation of a brighter future. In Advent we at once commemorate the waiting of the Jewish people for the promised Messiah and connect with our urgent expectation of His return. We are first and foremost called to look forward with hope. Henryk Adam Aleksander Pius Sienkiewicz, the Nobel prize winning author, wrote his “Trilogy” of historical novels – set in the 17th-century Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth – in the late 19th century. In this series of books (and I recommend you get the translation by W. S. Kuniczak) he points to people looking to the sky in the midst of Poland’s wars and sufferings, and declaring ’It must be the end.’ Certainly they did. Yet the world did not end in the 17th or 19th centuries. Any among the people of that time expecting the end lost the opportunity to hope forward. For us as Christians, the call is not to sit around contemplating the end, biting our nails and hoping we get to heaven, but to offer hope today, and thus to be heaven, the breaking open of the Kingdom of God, for our brothers and sisters. We all long, that cannot be helped. We have all been challenged, and especially in this year. For us, Advent longing and the challenges of the time must not be met with dour, sad, and forlorn attitudes but rather with hope filled and bright faith looking forward. Each Advent, let us look forward, not in a delusional way, but with ready faith. Let us look forward expectantly, with active faith. Let us never lose the opportunity to live and share hope. Grasp it so we may meet Jesus, the Hope of humanity.

December is here and so is our newsletter. This month we focus on looking forward with hope as we walk through the Advent Season into the new dawn of Christmas.

Read about our Advent charity programs and Pastor Jim’s Christmas greetings as well as his thankfulness on the 6th anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Join us for weekly Zoom calls so we can face these days Together in Faith and Love. Stop by Wednesday mornings for a Rorate Holy Mass (Holy Mass by candlelight only). Offer a Memory Cross for our Christmas trees. Get your Christmas wafers/opłatki. See our Christmas season schedule of Holy Masses. We continue planning for our 100th Anniversary, observed in 2021. There is a great reflection On Holy Communion. Want to be on the Parish Committee? Time to get your name into running.

Read about it in our December 2020 Newsletter.