PARISH OFFICE – Due to the concerns with the pandemic and concern with rising cases, our Parish Office will be closed the first two weeks of December – November 30 through December 13th. There will be someone in the office to answer calls and address any business that needs to be attended to. Thank you for your understanding.
January 17, 2021, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Back to Ordinary Time: Thanks are due to those who assisted with the not so small task of disassembling the Christmas environment in the Church in order that we return to the simplicity of Ordinary Time until February 17th when Ash Wednesday will begin our observance of the Season of Lent. As Christmas ends many thanks to the parishioners who took the time to send a greeting card or who shared some celebratory food or drink with the rectory and parish office, your thoughtfulness is gratefully noted. Many thanks again to those who helped the parish provide for those in need during the holidays through your gifts to the Giving Tree and the Matthew 25 Fund. The generosity of so many during the Christmas season and always is impressive and always deeply appreciated. May God who is never outdone in generosity bless you many times over for the way in which you have blessed others.
The Truth Sometimes Hurts: Telling the truth, even when it is unflattering to the one who must tell it, is a principle to be upheld in these days when truth seems often to get twisted for personal advantage. Therefore, although it was certainly humiliating for the Diocese of Fall River to do so, we should commend Bishop da Cunha for his determination to release an accurate list of the names of any clergy known by the Diocese of Fall River to have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors. On January 7th the list, which took over two years of careful research into the personnel files of 650 priests who have served in the Diocese over the past seven decades to compile, was released. The list consists of the names of 75 priests, 44 of them specifically ordained for the Fall River Diocese, who during that 70-year period have either been accused credibly to Diocesan authorities by victims and their families or the accusation has become public through the media or other means. The list may not be easy to read especially if it opens old wounds for victims of sexual abuse, or it shocks and upsets those who have known and held some on the list in high esteem, and understandably it may be considered terribly unfair to those whose names are on it yet who must still insist on their innocence. Yet, the primary aim of Bishop da Cunha’s effort to publish it is so that the church may be as transparent as possible, and through that transparency, may further help those who were victimized and perhaps never revealed it, or who were not always believed when they did, to find greater healing, and if still possible, some justice as well. There will be critics who claim that it is too little too late, and plaintiff attorneys may misuse the list as a means of trolling for larger lawsuits, but nevertheless, it is still best that it be published. The publication is yet one more initiative added to the approaches that the Diocese of Fall River began to take as far back as 1992, with the emergence of the infamous case of serial abuse of minors by Fr. James Porter, to prevent the further possibility of such abuse especially by clergy, and to protect young people involved in our parishes and programs. The Diocese of Fall River became the first diocese in the United States to require criminal background checks of all its clergy, staff, and volunteers who have regular substantial contact with minors and has implemented abuse prevention training programs for staff, volunteers, and young people in its schools, religious education, and youth programs. With the other dioceses of the United States, we adopted a policy of “Zero Tolerance” of abuse and abusers that was mandated by the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops in the document known as the Dallas Charter approved and published in 2002. The Church still tends to receive much of the media’s focus, and not always undeservingly so, in regard to this issue with an emphasis on the ways in which its leaders often mishandled it in the past, however, going forward since 2002 the real truth is that few other institutions and organizations in our country have done as much as the Church to try to honestly face and correct the mistakes of the past. The U.S. Bishops launched a nationwide professional investigation into the scope of this problem in the ranks of the Catholic clergy, became diligent in efforts to identify and dismiss any clergy who were guilty, and has adopted effective practices aimed at prevention. The sexual abuse of minors, though often singled out as if a Catholic problem, is rather, and sadly so, an all-too-common human failing that is potentially present to varying degrees in all situations where minors and adults frequently interact. If other institutions and programs that involve the care, education, or recreation of youth, would also have the courage to thoroughly investigate their own situation in this regard and compile and publish their lists of past perpetrators, then tragically, that truth would be proved beyond any doubt whatsoever. So while the Church must continue to face and make amends for its own shameful history of abuse of minors in its care by clergy, religious, youth ministers, coaches, teachers, and volunteers, and to do whatever is in its power to help victims of this crime receive justice and find healing; the ongoing wider societal problem of the sexual abuse of minors will not be adequately addressed and effectively curtailed until all other churches, congregations, institutions, professions, and programs that serve young people are also willing to confront their own histories and to tell the whole truth even though it may hurt to do so.
Volunteers Needed: The Christ the King Thrift Shop is operating but many of the regular volunteers have stepped back due to their own vulnerabilities in the present pandemic. More helping hands are needed at this time and those willing to step forward to assist should see Mary Daly, who manages the Thrift Shop for the parish, to indicate your willingness to volunteer.
January 10, 2020, The Baptism of the Lord
The Conclusion of the Christmas Season: Today, as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, we conclude the Season of Christmas in the Liturgical Year, but according to long-standing tradition,” Christmastide” continues until February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which is 40 days after the Solemnity of the Nativity on December 25th. During this time until February 2nd, it is appropriate to maintain a simplified creche scene or to keep candles lit in the windows as will be done here at Church. The purpose of the Season of Christmas is not merely to celebrate the infancy of the Christ-child at Bethlehem, but to revisit the early indications in his life up until his baptism at about age 30 which point to the identity of Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah or “anointed one” sent by God as Savior.
As we conclude this official Season of Christmas it is necessary to thank all who transform the Church for the Season most especially acknowledging Sue Preston and her crew who have so beautifully decorated the sanctuary and all who gave contributions for the flowers; thanks are also due to our sexton, Dwight Giddings who assisted by Rick Trask, was able to hang the substantial wreaths in the sanctuary; to express gratitude to the Knights of Columbus who assist with setting up the outdoor Creche and the exterior Christmas lights, to acknowledge Kellie Alliegro who decorates the Advent/Christmas wreaths in the church and chapel and the Giving Trees that become Christmas trees around the perimeter of the church; to thank Janet Trask who takes charge of seeing that the plants in the sanctuary survive the season by daily watering!
Additionally, thanks are due to the ushers who so faithfully serve but also under more stressful conditions at Christmas especially in the midst of a pandemic, and to thank our sacristans, lectors, ministers, and servers who assist with all the liturgies of the season, and in a particular way to complement our able keyboardists and cantors who enhance the Christmas liturgies with beautiful music. We thank Judy Warren who through Live-Stream enables the liturgies celebrated in Church to be accessible to people remaining at home, especially in these unusual circumstances. As ever, our parish staff is to be thanked for all the ways in which they prepare for, assist, and support every activity in the parish at Christmas and throughout the year.
The Completion of the Updating of St. Jude Chapel: As of this writing the refinished pews were being installed in St Jude Chapel bringing the renovation which started with re-painting and continued with the transformation of the former confessional turned closet into an alcove suitable to house the Baptismal Font, and finally recarpeting of the sanctuary and installation of new flooring in the nave. The Icon of the Baptism of the Lord which is on display in the sanctuary of the Church this weekend has been given by Catherine McCarthy in memory of her husband William McCarthy and will hang in the new alcove in the chapel. The construction of the alcove was funded through a gift from the Trust of Ann Dannis, the pews were refinished with the help of a substantial contribution made in memory of Alan King by his wife Barbara and family, the pews are being cushioned thanks to a gift from Robert and Patricia Welch, and the flooring in the nave and recarpeting of the sanctuary was funded by the generosity of Rita P. Reuss who has also given the new crucifix in the sanctuary of the chapel in memory of her husband, Ronald. The remainder of the costs have been met through contributions of parishioners made specifically for the chapel project or through the funds in the buildings and grounds account which receives the contributions from the Annual WE ARE FAMILY CAMPAIGN. So, gratitude is due for the many gifts great and small, and the generosity of all the parishioners who support our annual campaign which has allowed this project to come to its completion. As the Chapel sits about 80 people, and only 25 percent of capacity is allowed under present pandemic restrictions, a blessing and re-dedication of St. Jude Chapel will take place in the future when it is safer to do so and more will be able to attend.
The Baptism of the Lord/Holy Water: As we remember the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan by his cousin John, we also recall our own baptism and the Christian life and work into which reception of that first sacrament has initiated us. As we are baptized by water, and the baptismal and holy water fonts at the entrances of the Church would normally provide a regular reminder of that, yet, under pandemic restrictions, they must remain drained and dry until better days arrive! In the meantime, many parishioners have indicated their longing to have some Holy Water made available, so this weekend small bottles of water have been blessed and are provided at the entrances of the Church for you to take home with you as a final and appropriate gift on this feast day at the conclusion of the Christmas Season!
Sunday, January 3, 2020, The Feast of the Epiphany
20 + C. M. B. + 21
In many places, it is customary for the above inscription to be written in chalk above the main entrance of houses on this day with the year separated by the initials for Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar – names assigned by tradition to the three kings or wisemen whose visitation to the Christ Child after his birth is recalled on this day. The C.M. B is also understood to represent a prayer -wish in Latin –“Christus Mansionem Benedicat” or Christ Bless this House! On this day in various countries, the custom of gift-giving in honor of the gifts of the Magi is observed rather than on December 25th. In Eastern Christian traditions, this is a day on which the true identity of Jesus is revealed to the nations through the adoration of the Magi, by his baptism, and in the first miracle at Cana, themes that also underlie the Epiphany in the West and so still appear in some of the traditional hymns for this feast day even though it is predominantly thought of as a commemoration the visit of the Magi. In order that it not be overshadowed by traditions surrounding the wisemen on Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord has been designated as a separate celebration among Western Christians since 1955 and usually occurs on the Sunday after the Epiphany to conclude the Christmas Season. However, recent trends in Great Britain are reviving the more ancient custom of a 40-day Christmas season ending on February 2nd, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which is why, although in a less prominent place, the figures of Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus are kept in our sanctuary until February 2nd as a nod to this long-standing tradition of Christmastide. Light is the primary symbol of the Epiphany as Christ is revealed on this day as the light to the nations, so rather than take lights down it is much more appropriate to put additional ones up; if not, then we must ask if the lights we put up in our homes as Christians, and some probably since Thanksgiving, have any deeper symbolic meaning or are they merely decorations?
Gifts for the Epiphany: In keeping with a more ancient tradition of gift-giving on the Epiphany – copies of the books DO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD: THE ESSENTIAL TEACHINGS OF MOTHER THERESA and I HEARD GOD LAUGH by Matthew Kelly are available while they last at the entrances of the church. The books were purchased by Peter& Janet Celi as a gift to parishioners who would enjoy a copy; we are grateful to the Cellis’ for their generosity in the true spirit of the Christmas Season.
Dating the Birth of Christ: Having previously written about the assignment of the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord to December 25th because we do not have Christ’s birth certificate to pinpoint the exact day, there is another and perhaps more reliable view on how this day may have eventually been selected that does not have anything to do with the pagan festivals traditionally held at the time of the winter solstice. There is in the Jewish tradition the idea that the death of the great prophets occurs on the day they were conceived, and there is evidence that well before the 4th Century Christians were genuinely concerned to determine the date of Christ’s crucifixion in order to commemorate his death and resurrection annually. Given that the death of Christ coincides with the Jewish feast of Passover in the Spring, some determined that the date of crucifixion was in late March while other Christians held that it was in early April. Ultimately the Christians of the West favored March 25th while those of the East , April 6/7th. Thus, in the West, the feast of the Annunciation was set as March 25th and so when it came time to designate a date to observe Christ’s birth it naturally fell nine months later on December 25th, and for others in the Eastern Tradition on January 6th. These dates were already set apart as holy among Christians even before the Edict of Milan in the early 4th century, and these have remained so until our own day with the Nativity celebrated in the West on December 25th and the Epiphany on or about January 6th. The trend to accommodate the celebration of Christian feasts to pagan festivals that would begin in the late fourth century was a phenomenon that had been greatly resisted by Christians in the second and third centuries when the dates of December 25th and January 6/7th had been discussed and established as the proper time to celebrate the Nativity and Epiphany of Christ. This dating of Christ’s birth is also congruent with the dating of the birth of John the Baptist as the service in the Temple rendered by his father, Zachariah, would have been at the beginning of October in accord with the annual assignment for service of the priestly line of Abijah to which he belonged. John would then have been conceived by Elizabeth in mid to late October and so the celebration of John’s birth in late June is not off base. Thus, when the Angel told Mary that Elizabeth was entering her 6th month of pregnancy that would have coincided with the date of the Annunciation in late March. So, while ultimately it only matters that John the Baptist and Jesus were born and grew to fulfill their divinely designated missions for our salvation, still, it is helpful to understand the deliberations that occurred in determining the days traditionally designated for these celebrations and to question the ever more commonly held notion that Christians merely took over pagan festivals for the celebration of their principal feasts.
December 27, 2020, The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
Watch Your Language: Even though the commercials on television and the Ads in newspapers will try to tell us it is “after” Christmas, nothing could be further from the truth. The real Christmas Season has only just begun and will continue now through this Feast of the Holy Family today, on to the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on this Coming Friday(January 1st) to that of the Epiphany next Sunday (January 3rd) and continue for one week more thereafter concluding with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (January 10th). So, it is only proper to refer to this time as being “during’ Christmas, and not ever even think to use “after” in regard to Christmas until January 11th!
Beginning a New Year: When we think back to a year ago and all that we may have anticipated in the unknown future of 2020, we now know that it was a year not ever to be forgotten, perhaps one of the most unusual and challenging years in the collective memory of all of us. Yet, the best start to that year, like any year, is on our knees before God, not asking for good fortune but for the faith with which to face whatever may come our way. If we are reading this, it is likely that we survived 2020 not only with our health intact but also our faith. So, with the prospect of the widespread availability of effective vaccines before us, and thus hope of a return to “normal” before us, let us begin 2021 at Mass either in person or via Livestream so as to receive the grace and spiritual strength we need to face this new year and whatever it may bring with faith. Indeed, let us pray to continue enduring the pandemic and the limits it still imposes on us with patience until it subsides, not losing hope that things will get better and it will be possible to return once again to the usual activities we long to enjoy with extended family and friends.
MASSES FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD – NEW YEAR’S EVE AND DAY:
Thursday, December 31st – 4 PM, and Friday, January 1st, – 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM
An Important Resolution for Now and the New Year: After the shut down even of places of worship last Spring, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to reopen the Church even under the unusual conditions necessitated by pandemic precautions. It has been heartening to see so many people faithfully coming to Mass on Sundays and weekdays and to have so many generous people taking up their roles as ushers, servers, lectors, cantors, ministers of Holy Communion, and sacristans in Church as well as those who generously volunteer at our Thrift Shop and in our weekly Food Pantry. Yet as much as the presence and service of so many is important to the Parish and deeply appreciated, let us remember that we must all be responsible for maintaining our own health and that of others in what has proven to be a dangerous pandemic. So, while your presence would be missed if you were not present to worship with us or available to fulfill your particular volunteer ministry or role, still, if even experiencing the slightest of symptoms, especially the sniffles, a sore throat, or a cough, please remain home until that symptom resolves and if it doesn’t, please get tested for Covid-19. At the present time, this resolution is one of the best ways to love your neighbor by protecting them until this present pandemic is finally over. It may not be an entirely happy New Year, but it will certainly be a healthier one for many if we all but make and keep that resolution along with wearing masks, keeping safe distances and frequent hand washing for the foreseeable future.
A Word of Thanks: Due to the generosity of Mr. George Logan, who returned his second prize winnings in our annual Summer Raffle to the parish of $2500.00, we have purchased from the Holy Rood Guild in Spencer a purple cope used most recently for the Lessons and Carols Service at the end of Advent, and a celebrant’s chasuble that compliments the set of formal vestments already owned by the parish which will be used at Christmas. Gratitude is extended to George and his wife Thalia for this very generous gift.
The House of the Holy Family of Nazareth: Anton Farah is a well know Arab Christian resident of Nazareth, his family moved there after the Arab-Israeli War in 1948 when the Arab Christian Maronites and the Muslim Arabs who had long populated a village in Northern Israel were not allowed to return there “for security reasons”. Having thus spent his life from his high school years until now in Nazareth, Anton knows every inch of it, and so when in retirement from teaching, he took up guiding, he made sure the groups he led saw some of Nazareth’s hidden treasures. I was fortunate to be guided by Anton on many of my 13 visits to the Holy Land and when our pilgrimage groups would reach Nazareth, in addition to usual sites visited by most pilgrims including Mary’s Well, the Synagogue, St. Joseph’s Church, and the Basilica of the Annunciation, Anton would always bring us to a more unusual site, a visit that it seemed he had to arrange personally with the Sisters of Nazareth, as it was a site underneath their convent and school a short distance up a side street from the Basilica. There a Religious Sister with a German accent would meet us and open a locked door behind which was a staircase which was obviously leading us underground. At the first level once reaching the bottom of the stairs were some ruins of a Crusader Church probably constructed in the 12th century with some of the familiar gothic architectural elements which made it somewhat easy to identify. Yet there were also ruins of a structure over a well that could be identified as having been part of a more ancient Byzantine Church, probably of the 5th Century, and all of this over the remnants of a house from the first century the walls of which were partially sculpted out of the bedrock and the upper portions constructed of stones and mortar. Beyond the front door of the house but on the same level was a cave-like structure that had been hollowed out of the bedrock and served as an original worship site for Christians before the Byzantine Basilica had been built, and below the house was a tomb with a rolling stone probably created in the first century but later than the house above it. All of this was interesting in that when the Sisters came from Europe in the late 19th century to establish a school to serve the local Arab Christians, the land they wished to purchase on which to construct their facilities would demand a higher price because the locals told them that it was the land of the “Righteous Man” which is obviously a biblical reference to Joseph of Nazareth. At the time the Sisters wanted the land but thought that they were being told a tall tale so as to justify having to pay more for it, it wasn’t until 1888, a few years after the convent and school had been built, that a pipe broke in the basement and the force of water did some natural excavation revealed that there seemed to be some more ancient structures located underneath them. The Sisters then had explorations started which led to the discovery of all that can be seen below their property today, but they were uncertain as to what it all meant. A Jesuit archaeologist stationed in Jerusalem, Fr. Henri Senes, worked there on and off between 1936 and 1964, but not having published his findings in a recognized academic journal, the site remained largely unknown and so remained off the beaten pilgrimage path. More recently, A British Archaeologist, Ken Dark, began reexamining the site in 2006, and he has recently published his findings in scholarly journals and in a book, concluding that the ruins of the churches are the ruins of what was once known as the Church of the Nutrition, first built in the Byzantine period, destroyed by the Moslem invasion in the 7th Century, and reconstructed in the Crusader period. The Church of the Nutrition had been originally constructed over what ancient local tradition held to be the childhood home of Jesus in Nazareth. As the archaeologist points out, there is nothing written in the walls to specifically identify it as such, but it certainly is the remnants of a house of the first century around which much had later been constructed, first beside it and then over it, to preserve it and to make it a place of pilgrimage and worship associated with the memory of the hidden years of Jesus in Nazareth. As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family today, the identifiable ruins under the Sisters of Nazareth Convent as well as the other sites traditionally venerated in the town of Nazareth serve to remind us that this was a real family living in a real place according to the customs and in the common circumstances of the time. Let those remains of a house of the first century venerated since that time underscore our belief in what we proclaim each Christmas Season, i.e., that in the person of Jesus of Nazareth the Word truly did become flesh and dwell among us, indeed, growing up in a small town in the Galilee region in the North of Israel and frequently going in and out of the doorway of an ancient stone house that is still possible to see right to this very day!
December 20, 2020, Fourth Sunday of Advent
Sacrament of Penance – Monday, December 21st, 1 PM-3 PM: This is an additional opportunity to receive this sacrament as an appropriate way to conclude the penitential Season of Advent and prepare for the Season of Christmas.
Good News to the Poor: Donations to the annual Giving Tree effort are the main way in which we as a community of faith show our concern for those struggling to make ends meet at Christmas. Households in the wider community have already been identified and vetted as truly in need of assistance this Christmas with food for the celebration and gift cards in the amount of $50 per child to a department store so that presents may be purchased by parents or guardians and placed under the Tree to be opened on Christmas morning. We thank all those who have already contributed to this and encourage those who have not to do so this weekend.
MASSES FOR THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS – THE SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD
Thursday, December 24th, 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM, and 6:00 PM
Friday, December 25th – 8:30 AM and 11:30 AM
DISTRIBUTION OF COMMUNION OUTSIDE OF MASS ON CHRISTMAS DAY
10:00AM – 11:00 AM
1:00 – 2:00 PM
N.B. The reservations already received reveal that the 2 PM and 4 PM Masses are already reaching the present capacity of the Church according to pandemic precautions, so those who have not yet made a reservation are asked to choose the 6 PM, 8:30 AM, or 11:30 AM Masses.
Why We Celebrate Christmas on December 25: Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th! This is the prevalent message of non-believers whose desire is to shock Christians in hopes of getting marginal believers to abandon whatever little faith they may still have. The implication is that the Church is lying to us and if it’s lying to us about this then it can’t be trusted at all! These non-believers are becoming increasingly vocal each year and are given a much wider forum through the various forms of social media available today. The truth is that we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, neither the month, date nor year. We only know that Jesus was born before the end of the reign of Herod the Great, but historians can only approximate Herod’s reign and must admit that they could be off by two or three years. In the 4th century when after the Edict of Milan in 313 Christianity emerged from the shadows to begin to become the dominant religion of the Roman Empire and believers desired to celebrate the Mystery of the Incarnation by commemorating the birth of Christ, they chose the date of its celebration for symbolic and theological rather than historical reasons. December 21st being the shortest day thus this being the darkest time of the year, December 25 was chosen as the light starts ever so subtly to return and will eventually overcome the darkness. This seemed the most appropriate time to celebrate the entrance of Christ “the light of the world” into the darkness, sin, and sadness of the human condition. As Pagan Roman Holidays built around the winter solstice were already celebrated at this time of year it eased the transition to the widespread celebration of the Christian feast of the Incarnation. Therefore, no intentional deception was involved in setting the date to begin the celebration of Christmas as December 25th, and contrary to contemporary anti-religious propaganda never has the Church declared the 25th of December to be the actual birth date of Christ but only the day to begin the commemoration of the truth that he was in fact born (a fact also questioned by some) and the purpose of his birth was to bring divine light to a world in darkness. That is why Light is always the primary symbol of Christmas and displays of lights both before the evening of the 24th of December or those which do not continue through to the end of the authentic Season of Christmas ( December 25th to January 10th this year) truly undermine that symbolism
As we look to the original reason that December 25th was chosen as the beginning of the annual season of Christmas – then we can see the sad irony that those who find life sad or difficult at the present moment often feel most left out of the celebration Of Christmas because non-religious influences insist rather mindlessly that this supposed to be “happiest and most wonderful time of the year”. Consequently, those for whom there is little objective reason to be happy, and their number is not small, can find it painful if not impossible to celebrate Christmas. Yet the real meaning of Christmas reveals that its observance is most especially meant for people who are suffering more than anyone else! The light that the incarnation of God in Christ brings to the darkness of the human condition is the light of the love of God who comes to accompany human beings in their struggles, sufferings, and sadness, and ultimately to be the light of life triumphing over death, Thus in this year of pandemic, when so many are in economic difficulty and now over 300,000 households in our nation alone are mourning the death of loved ones from Covid19, we as Christians should re-examine our own understandings and celebrations of Christmas so as to be able to challenge those influences that truly paganize the manner in which it is observed with all manner of consumerism and suggestions of cheer that is often completely baseless. As Christians let us begin to reclaim Christmas as a celebration of divine love revealed in the Mystery of the Incarnation so that its message can once again truly be a source of comfort and joy to the many who are very much in need of encouragement and consolation especially in these unusual and particularly difficult days in which we presently find ourselves.
KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS BY OBSERVING THE SEASON – (not just one day)
The Evening of December 24th to the Evening of January 10th
December 25 – January 1st = The Octave of Christmas
(meaning every day is as Christmas Day)
Feasts within the Octave of Christmas: December 25 – The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord; December 26- St. Stephen, First Martyr; December 27 –The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; December 28-The Holy Innocents; January 1st – Solemnity of Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God.
Other major feasts in the Christmas Season- January 3rd – The Epiphany of the Lord; January 10th – The Baptism of the Lord.
Blessing and Distribution of Calendars: On next weekend, December 26th/27th, the calendars for the Church year which are provided to us through the generosity of several sponsors including the Chapman Cole & Gleason/John Lawrence Funeral Homes, Carlson Printing, AMR-Asset Management, and The Laurentide will be blessed and made available after all the Masses.
December 6, 2020 -The Second Sunday of Advent
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception: The Blessed Virgin Mary is honored under the title of The Immaculate Conception on December 8th. It is under this particular title that Mary is the patroness of the United States of America. All are encouraged to celebrate this Holy Day of Obligation by participating in the celebration of Mass at either 4 PM on Monday, December 7th, or 8:30 AM or 5:30 PM on Tuesday, December 8th. Certainly, our nation is in need of prayers at this time with the public health and economic challenges we presently face yet as the recent national election has revealed we are not optimally prepared to resolve these due to the deep ideological divisions that presently exist among us. So let us all join in the celebration of Mass on this feast day to ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the United States of America that we will be able to reconcile whatever divides us so that together we may move forward in greater unity and peace out of the ravages of a pandemic toward more prosperous days for all to enjoy in good health.
Schedule of Christmas Masses and Hours for Reception of Holy Communion
December 24th/25th Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
Thursday, December 24th, 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 6:00 PM
Friday, December 25th, 8:30 AM, 11:30 AM
Communion on Christmas Day 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
New time from Distribution of Holy Communion beginning this Sunday, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM in the church.
Confessions: In preparation for the Season of Christmas confessions will be heard on Monday, December 21st from 2 PM to 5 PM in the Church.
Advance reservations are requested for the Masses of Christmas on December 24h/25th as the Church must comply with Department of Public Health guidelines regarding safe capacity at this time. Reservations may be made by calling the parish office or online through our parish website.
Holy Communion on Sundays – Change of Time: Holy Communion will be distributed in the Church on Sunday afternoons from 1:00 – 3:00 PM beginning this weekend on Sunday, December 6th, and continuing through to March 7, 2021, due to it being darker by 4 PM at this time of year.
Caring for Those in Need: It is always our responsibility as Christians to provide assistance to others who struggle to make ends meet or to acquire the basic necessities of life, and we tend to be especially mindful of this responsibility at this time of year as Fall turns to Winter and the annual holiday season arrives. Gratitude is extended to all who participated in the annual “Fill-a-Bag” drive-by contributing gift cards to Stop & Shop in lieu of non-perishable grocery items. When the final total is tabulated over $15,000 in gift cards were contributed and over $10,000 worth was distributed, along with a turkey, to households in need in the larger community to provide them a meal at Thanksgiving. The great generosity of so many parishioners is indeed impressive and has given the parish a bit of a head start as we prepare to provide for needy households in the greater Mashpee area at Christmas. In addition to gift cards to the grocery store, it is our custom, through the annual Giving Tree program, to provide needy families a $50 department store gift card for each child which enables them to purchase gifts for their children to ensure that there will be something under the Tree on Christmas morning. As the parish has already vetted the majority of recipients who will receive this assistance, we know that we need $14,500 in gift cards. So all are encouraged to either take an envelope from one of the Giving Trees at the entrances to the Church and return it with a monetary contribution by December 20th or to go to our parish website and contribute to the “Giving Tree” on line. Monetary donations of any amount as appreciated and will help us toward our goal of raising the total to which we are committed.
December 6th The Feast of St Nicholas: The man who would eventually become famous the world over as Santa Claus is celebrated throughout the Church today. Nicholas, of Greek descent, was born in 270 AD and died on December 6, 343 at the age of 73. Nicholas became Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor and was imprisoned in 310 during the widespread persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian but was then freed in 313 by the decree of Emperor Constantine. Constantine also convened the first Ecumenical Council of the Church a Nicaea in 325 AD at which Bishop Nicholas of Myra is listed as having been in attendance. Saint Nicholas was known for his holiness of life and especially for his charity. It is said that St. Nicholas rescued three poor young women from lives without the prospect of good marriages by secretly dropping three bags of gold coins through the window of their house on three consecutive nights so that their father could provide a dowry for each of them. This secret gift-giving on the part of St. Nicholas became legendary, there-fore, as Sinter Klaas, a Dutch version of his name, which became Santa Claus in English, the clandestine yet generous gift-giving by St. Nicholas is remembered and anticipated by children the world over during the darkest hours of the night before the dawn of Christmas day. St. Nicholas was buried at Myra and within 200 years after his death, a shrine church was built over his tomb. Due to the 6th century conquest of Asia Minor by the Arabs, the relics of St. Nicholas were moved to Bari in Southern Italy where they remain to this day in the Church constructed there to his honor.
St Pius Tenth Youth Award: On this past Tuesday evening in a ceremony that was streamed from the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption in Fall River, Bishop Edgar da Cunha blessed the awards given annually to young people from the various parishes of the diocese who have served the church faithfully and generously during their grammar and high school years. Jack Harney, son of Deacon and Mrs. Paul Harney, who has long been involved in parish ministry here at Christ the King, especially as an altar server, has been selected as the recipient of this award this year. When the award which is being mailed to the parish from the Diocese is available, it will be presented to Jack at a Sunday Mass. Please pray for Jack who is now enrolled as a first-year student at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and for all our young parishioners in colleges and other programs of higher learning during these challenging times.