From our Director of Parish Life, Shayne Slough…
I don’t know about you, but the weather lately has me feeling completely confused about what season we’re in. It seems we have transitioned from fall to winter to a spring thaw all within the matter of a week! But for us as Catholics, the beauty of our Church year is that we always know quite definitively which season is upon us.
This weekend, with the Feast of Christ the King, we mark the end of our “Church year” and in another week Advent is upon us! The official name of today’s feast is The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Today also marks the end of our diocesan “Year of Prayer,” though we will continue it through to our parish’s consecration to Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th.
We have been praying since last year’s diocesan assembly (Made for Happiness) to become a community of missionary disciples, and this has led us on quite a journey. Using Matthew Kelly’s The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, we’ve been prompted to grow in three areas: our prayer lives, our study of the faith, and our generosity! And the signs are evident that the Holy Spirit is inspiring this growth in us, in many ways throughout our parish…from praying for each other specifically by name during Mass and Marian Consecration as we lean on Mary to draw us closer to her Son; to the many who attend Bible studies and Alpha and workshops, etc. to learn more; to the overwhelming generosity of our parish as we made pledges during the
5-4-1 Challenge and remain on budget during this fiscal year in addition to the many who stepped forward to volunteer in some way during our Come & See Ministry Event this past September. Thank you, Jesus!
This growth lays the foundation for evangelization, more fully becoming missionary disciples, disciples strengthened through prayer, empowered by an understanding of our faith, and equipped to generously give of ourselves to others who may not even know that “It is Jesus (they) seek when (they) dream of happiness” (St. John Paul II).
So, with all of this in mind, this Advent, as we begin the new church year, we turn to Mary, one of the first evangelizers, to lead the way. Mary is known as the “theotokos” (Greek meaning ‘God bearer’) and as that “God bearer,” she not only brings us her Son but longs to bring us closer to Him, in turn helping us lead others to that relationship, as well. Many of you (judging by the way we ran out of copies of 33 Days to Morning Glory!) have been intrigued by this prospect. And it is Mary that we have asked to intercede for us this past year as we’ve prayed: “Through the witness and intercession of Mary, guide me to deepen my commitment as a disciple of Jesus.”
The coming weeks of Advent bring us the opportunity to learn more about Mary and anticipate the birth of Christ by drawing ever closer to her Son that we might “share in his life and ministry.” Join us in doing so by participating in some of the opportunities we have within our parish this Advent season:
On December 8th, St. John will host a movie event, The Blood & the Rose, which tells the complete story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Join us in the parish center for a Hispanic meal after the 5:00 p.m. Mass, with the movie following (see p. 10 for details). Then, later that week, on December 12th, our annual Advent Holy Hour, “O, Come Let Us Adore,” gives us the chance to be with the Lord, praising, praying, and consecrating our parish to the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast day. For those who are preparing for Marian consecration with 33 Days to Morning Glory, this will also be the evening when we consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary. Arrive by 7:00 and enjoy the beautiful prelude music provided by some of our talented St. John choir members and musicians.
With our recent parish priority/focus on hope and healing, we will also be launching our Hope & Healing Prayer Ministry Team
this Advent season. Members of this team will be available before and after “O, Come Let Us Adore” to pray with you for your needs or the needs of someone you love.
Team members will also be available after the 10 a.m. Mass during the Sundays of Advent. Those attending that Mass can receive prayer afterward…or those arriving early to the noon Mass can also take advantage of the opportunity. Being prayed with is a wonderful chance to experience the Holy Spirit and rest in the love and peace of the Lord.
Finally, be sure to check out the Advent Penance schedule on page 5. A huge component of the hope and healing we all desire is present in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our St. John Penance Service is on Wednesday, December 18th at 7 p.m.
The Church makes it clear what season we’re about to enter: Advent–the anticipation of the coming of the Lord, expectant celebration of his birth but looking toward the time when he comes again. In that “in between time” of now, as we await his second coming, we are to become Christ bearers to the hurting world around us. This Advent, learn more about how Mary, the Theotokos, teaches us to do so.
May you have a blessed Advent!
“Father…lead our parish to grow as an intentional community, committed to go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” Amen.