Dear Friends in Christ:
I hope that you are having a holy Advent. This coming week we will have three evenings for Confessions in addition to the regular Confessions on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and the Confessions twenty minutes before the weekday Masses. Please be merciful to your poor priests and do not wait until the Saturday before Christmas. We will have Confessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the chapel and we will hear Confessions until all are heard.
As Christmas is on a Monday this year, we need to remember that Sunday morning the Masses on December 24 are for the 4th Sunday of Advent and the afternoon Masses are for the Vigil of Christmas. We are obligated to attend Mass for both Sunday and for Christmas. While “Two-fers” may be a great deal when buying French fries, you cannot get a “Two-fer” Holy Mass. If we wish to attend Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve, we still need to attend Mass on Sunday morning (or the Sunday vigil on Saturday night). As I have in the past, I strongly want to encourage you to attend Mass on Christmas DAY. Even if you attend Mass on Christmas Eve, please keep Christmas Day as a Holy Day. Attending Mass on December 25 is the most beautiful way to keep the HOLY DAY – HOLY. We will observe our regular daytime Mass schedule for Christmas Day – 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 12:30 and a Spanish Mass at 2:00 p.m. Celebrate the fullness of the beautiful gift of the birth of our Redeemer by offering Mass with your family on Christmas Day.
This is also the time of year when many who have been away from the Church are open to an invitation to come to Mass. Invite your friends and neighbors to come to Mass with you.
Again, the early Christmas Eve Masses are filled with lots of people and the traffic is congested so try coming either later on Christmas Eve (7:30 or midnight) or, on Christmas Day and invite them to come with you during the Christmas season! You never know what a simple invitation can do to change someone’s life! In our prayers this Christmas, we cannot forget all those who have suffered so much during the year.Please keep those for whom this is a difficult time of year in your prayers. Pray that they not lose hope and may experience the tenderness of God’s all-embracing and merciful love.
This is also the time of year that many make a year-end donation to support the ministry of our parish. Between the downturn of energy industry and Hurricane Harvey, our parish has been impacted financially. Many of our parishioners have lost everything while others are struggling to rebuild and are no longer able to financially support the parish as they once did. Other parishioners have had to move away and some are still struggling from job losses. If you have been spared these difficulties and are able, I ask that you please consider a special gift to our parish. Your financial gift to St. John Vianney Parish is greatly needed and even more greatly appreciated.
Lastly, in these final days before the celebration of the birth of Jesus, take a little time to read the nativity narratives in the Gospel. Consider the birth of the baby in the manger. Reflect on the joy that the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph experienced. Imagine what it was like for the shepherds to encounter the angel and receive a life changing message of joy and peace.
Think about how Jesus has touched your life and how grateful you are for the gift of salvation, the gift of faith, and the gift of his love! Spend a few moments ahead of time to tell Jesus how grateful you are and how much you love him. It is his birthday after all and I am confident that he desires nothing more than a loving, grateful heart.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately