Monday, December 31: New Year’s Eve
Vigil Masses of at 4:30 & 5:30 PM
for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Tuesday, January 1, 2019: New Year’s Day
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God Masses at 8:30 and 11:30 AM
There are no Confessions on New Year’s Day.
May the Lord bless you and keep you!
Today’s feast is new as feasts go, and it sets us this year in a very modern crisis. Amid conflicting schedules and commitments, a young man, testing the limits, has strayed from his parents and gone off to the big city. Mary and Joseph search frantically, only to find the child Jesus in the temple, conversing with the elders and scholars of the law, who are amazed at his wisdom.
In the time of Jesus, the temple was the religious center of Jewish ritual. Outside of Jerusalem, people gathered in the synagogues, centers of learning, for daily prayer and study.
Still, everyone longed to journey to the temple to participate in the offerings, and to fulfill certain obligations of the law that could only be done there. On this feast, we catch a glimpse of the family of Jesus: parents dealing with the normal stresses of raising a child, and yet completely grounded in the ways of faith and tradition.
There has always been an appreciation in Christianity for the value of pilgrimage – the journey to holy places that is a symbol of our life’s journey to God, and a sense of connection to important events in our family history. During the Christmas season, many of us undertake pilgrimages to the family homestead for festival meals, to the parishes where we were formed in the faith, or perhaps even to a beautiful manger scene or festival of lights. There are few better days than this in our calendar for spending time with the family, especially on a short pilgrimage to a favorite place. Just make sure that no one gets left behind!
© J. S. Paluch Co.
Chapter 1: The Call to Holiness
We need a spirit of holiness capable of filling both our solitude and our service, our personal life and our evangelizing efforts, so that every moment can be an expression of self-sacrificing love in the Lord’s eyes. In this way every minute of our lives can be a step along the path to growth in holiness.
Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self. To depend on God sets us free to recognize our great dignity.
Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God. Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God’s grace.
We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family this weekend. The Scriptures don’t tell us much about the day to day life that Jesus, Mary and Joseph experienced in their home. During the past week we heard from the Gospels about the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus. Today’s Gospel focuses of the finding of the child Jesus in the temple. Later, we will hear about the relationship between Jesus and his mother, especially her faithfulness to him during the time of his execution. Their lives were not easy, but God’s love was at the heart of all that they experienced. Family life today can be a challenge. Many families today extend their boundaries to include other people rather than relatives. This can be a blessing for both.
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas with good memories. Thank you for the greetings, the cards, the gifts, your presence. So many people have to travel at this time of the year and many times, it can be taxing. Enjoy the time that you are together. Now, we face a New Year: 2019. Midtown Manhattan will be filling up as it does every year. As we face the challenges of a New Year, it is important to live it day to day. Make prayer an important part of your daily routine. A stronger relationship with God can be a blessing for you. Take advantage of opportunities to be of service to others and to be kind and thoughtful when in public. 2019 can have many opportunities for you each day. Don’t let them pass you by; they could be real blessings for you. Happy New Year!
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
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