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Pause and Wonder at the NewBorn King

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This letter carries through the last days of Advent preparation and includes that Silent Night on which Joy was brought to the World! On behalf of the whole faculty and staff of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, I wish you and yours a Blessed and Holy Christmas Season.

As Christmas fast approaches, preparations can draw to a fever pitch. Please set aside some time to pause and ponder during these days.  Look at your creche and stare with great love at the empty crib. Await with wonder the coming of the Christ, that Key of David who unlocks what our first parents locked away.

The last O Antiphon in our series: “O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness.” We address Jesus as the Key of David, the one who unlocks heaven for us, who frees the prisoners of darkness… that’s us. Jesus came to set us free from slavery, a slavery to sin, to place us firmly in the light, in His light. First through Baptism, and then continually through our participation in the life of grace, Christ Jesus frees us from that bondage into which our first parents fell, and which clings to us still through concupiscence, that tinder for sin which keeps us from perfect fidelity to the life of grace. 

Christmas, like Advent, is a whole season. Christmas is not limited to one day...hardly! In fact, we celebrate Christmas as an octave, which means that liturgically for eight days we keep Christmas. Think of Christmas as a feast too grand to be contained in one day; rather the joy bursts forth and spreads to incorporate the whole week! 

Next Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  During this time of celebration in our Church’s year, we will be concentrating our themes on the family.  Beginning with the Feast of the Holy Family, and then Mary the Mother of God, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, and Presentation of Jesus all in succession, it is fitting to focus on the family.

It is also the time of year when - for better or for worse - we spend more time among family and friends. Those momentous gatherings that bring out the best in us: the warmth and strength of our closest ties; they can also bring out old hurts, divisions and rivalries. Foreknowledge at times remains insufficient to thwart strong reactions. Prayer before and after gatherings is so helpful. Wrap the party in prayer. Imagine Mary, the Queen of Peace, at the heart of the gathering with her loving countenance and motherly gaze. Pray 3 Hail Mary’s on the way over. You will be glad you did! 

We commemorate the arrival of Emmanuel, God-with-us, and like the shepherds on that holy night and the holy magi who follow, we come to adore the beautiful Babe of Bethlehem, who humbles himself to be born: homeless in a cave, a refuge soon to be in flight to Egypt, a king of unusual kind whose ministry becomes plainest by his taking the lowest place: the manger, the cave, the footwashing, the cross.

This Christmas, our parish staff extends to you the gift of a Christmas book: Rediscover the Saints by Matthew Kelly. In an approachable style with short chapters and practical lessons, Kelly presents the saints as very human, very much like us, as people from which we can learn a great deal. Not because they are far above us in heaven, but because they lived what we live. They know us. They share our experience. And in the midst of life, the saints made heroic choices. Each day, we have the opportunity to make heroic choices. Small at first: biting our tongue before an unkind word surfaces, then ever greater.

These are women and men who went before us and who now share in the glory of heaven. These heroic figures love us and they offer for us breadcrumbs of virtue and grace that we can follow on our own pilgrim journey home.

Make a friend of the Saints and you make a friend of Jesus. 

Once again, may your Christmas be full of the light of Christ!

With deep affection and prayers,

Fr. Wilson

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