Planning for the Holy Days

Dear Friends in Christ:

It is now November and soon we will be in the midst of the holidays and Holy Days! Since the Christmas decorations are already going up in the stores, I encourage you to consider how you are going to make Advent and Christmas a holy season for you and your family. Here are a few suggestions: 1.) Come to confession prior to the last weeks of Advent 2.) Invite a friend or family member who normally doesn’t attend church to come with you to mass during Advent. Lots of folks come at Christmas, but the Feast of Christ the King (the last Sunday of the liturgical year) and the season of Advent are really wonderful. 3.) Plan ahead and think how you can make your holidays holy! Select some special prayers or take up a custom (Advent wreath, calendar, novena, etc. to help you and your family keep the focus always on Jesus and not just the trappings of the season. 4.) Consider making a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament once a week. We are blessed with Eucharist Adoration 24/7 here at SJV. Drop by and offer a few minutes. If you can’t make a whole hour at one time, split it up into smaller visits. There is a lot of peace that can come from Adoration.
November is the traditional time for Catholics to visit cemeteries, attend mass and pray for our beloved dead and the souls in purgatory. Please remember to pray for parishioners who died in the past year. As we are approaching the end of the calendar year, I would like to make a special appeal to those who can make a special year-end financial gift to the parish. With the downturn in the energy industry a few years ago and then the floods, many of our parishioners have not been able to support the parish as they once did. If you are able to make a special gift, it would be greatly appreciated. Likewise, we are down by approximately 30% on our Diocesan Services Fund Appeal from where we used to be. Here, I am simply asking that everyone simply make a gift. It doesn’t matter the size, our participation and support is what is important. The archdiocese has suffered a huge financial setback as many parishes were dramatically affected by the floods. To all those who have already given, thank you.
One of the challenges that we face in our contemporary society is the decline in marriage. For a host of reasons, fewer people are marrying. This is a trend that has been going on for the last few decades. Today, only 48% of adults 18-65 are married. Many people choose simply to live together outside of marriage while others simply live alone. This is not good for society, and it has a negative impact on individuals. It is particularly harmful to children living in households where the adults are not married. While marriage has its stresses and challenges, many young adults are unaware of the great blessing of marriage and are fearful. As Catholics, we must encourage in our words and attitudes this beautiful gift. We should not give in to the negative talk and attitude that is so prevalent, and instead speak up and let young men and women hear from us what a blessing marriage truly is! Too often, many people put the emphasis on the wedding instead of the marriage. Too many couples wait until they have the money for the big party or until everything else is settled in their lives. When we wait for the day when everything will be perfect, we discover too late that that day never arrives! The best advocates of marriage are happily (not perfectly) married couples. Let people know and don’t be embarrassed to show how much you love your spouse! If you know someone who has questions about being married in the Church, please invite them to come and talk to me, Frs. Clark, Chuck or one of our deacons.
Lastly, our parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land was absolutely wonderful. You were prayed for every single day and at every mass! Thank you for your prayers for all of us on the pilgrimage. We prayed, we ate, we laughed, saw some incredible sights and had a wonderful experience! If you get a chance check out some of the pictures on our website!

In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately