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from fathers desk

My Dear Spiritual Family,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you! My heart swells with gratitude for us being able to worship together. Easter was such a hole for me, so I look forward to us gathering together, exercising our freedom of religion guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, and paying our homage to the one true God who deigned to take flesh and be born of the Virgin. We who are under her protection, as members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, acknowledge the need to be close to our Mother and to her Son in the holy Eucharist, especially during these days. These are our high holy days. In a normal year between Christmas and Epiphany, we would be coming to church twice a week. Our parish, bustling with activity, shows forth our desire to draw close to the Lord, to love Him and to cherish all Jesus has done for us.

During this season, my prayers are with you and all our families. For those who have discerned to worship remotely, I hope ardently for the chance to gather together soon around the altar. The Mass is the center of our existence; we cannot flourish when the most essential is excluded from our lives. On-line is not a substitute for being in-line to receive the little humble hidden one (who is also the all-powerful one) in the holy Eucharist.

During this long weekend, God gives us extra time to slow down and take stock. These are moments to sit with the Holy Family at the manger. We are invited to meditate on the little humble hidden one wrapped in simple cloths and resting in a feeding trough. Nativity sets are a beautiful and effective way to draw close to our little King, the babe of Bethlehem. Many of us have family heirloom sets or even outdoor creches. I gifted my best friend a manger scene for his wedding, a present the newlyweds could add to year after year. Walking around town with Gracie, we have even seen some blown up ones, along with many other characters festooning front lawns, tethered to the ground.

But the key is the manger scene. Yes, Joseph and Mary encircling their bundle of joy - that is the main attraction. God shows himself to be Emmanuel, God-with-us. All the rest of our holiday cheer and decorations and traditions add up to “a hill of beans” without him. It is the wrapping paper crumpled and discarded in a flash as compared with the present itself. Our greatest gift is that little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger.

More than a week ago now, on December 16th, snow blanketed our landscape, and the manger scene out front of OLPH. What a marvelous moment! I know Bethlehem is in a desert (where it can get cold, but rarely if ever snow) but for me the snow provided an added element of silence that assists with contemplation. The muffled crunch, the silence on the roads, the hush of the night, for me, helps to contemplate the majesty wrapped in mystery, the grandeur hiding in plain sight, the awesomeness of the Eternal Word embracing our human condition in order to show us the way HOME.

This Advent, we have prepared our hearts for his arrival. We have sought him. We have meditated upon his coming and now we are invited to pause at the manger and marvel, ponder, wonder and contemplate. May you have a peaceful and joyous holiday season! May the Christ-child truly be present to you, hidden in the manger with Joseph and Mary every watchful, and the shepherds adoring.

God bless you this Christmas Season!

Your pastor,
Fr. Wilson