• Fr. Daniel Gifford

DO NOT BE AFRAID

“Do not be afraid.” It is often pointed out that these words are spoken by angels nearly every time they appear in Sacred Scripture. There are at least two very good reasons for that. One reason is that angels are truly quite fearful creatures, genuinely awesome, in the most literal sense of the word. However we might feel about various artistic customs, such as the popular Renaissance practice of depicting angels as little babies with wings, no visual representation could fully capture the glory of an angel. Fear is the natural response to the sight of an angel. Although in our broken human condition, we often need help distinguishing between our self-preserving fear of harm and the holy fear that is rightly evoked by the glory of God. So, it's not uncommon that one of their first statements is usually "Do not be afraid." The second reason is that angels are often sent to people in situations that are unusual, confusing or distressing in some way. Thus, the immediate command to not be paralyzed or controlled by fear readies the person to receive the revelation the Lord is bringing, which will enable them to do His will in this difficult situation. Maybe the situation that tempts us to fear or distress is simply comparing the number of days until Christmas to the number of things on our to-do list. Meanwhile, the Church reminds us on this Gaudate (Rejoice) Sunday, that we are not to wait until Christmas arrives to have joy. Perhaps it might be the case that someone might be out and about, chipping away at that to-do list, and might drive down Park Avenue and see the statue of the angel (front cover) that sits in our lawn and might be reminded of this. "Do not be afraid. Don't let fear and the sense of being overwhelmed paralyze you or overpower you, driving you to escape or to thoughtless action, aimed at grasping at control. Remain with the Lord. In Him, you will find the peace and strength to do His will in your given situation." Receiving this Good News that the angel brings, we can discover that Christ is truly in our midst. He promised that He Himself would come. He often uses other people and various images throughout our day, such as passing a statue, hearing the sound of bells, seeing the glow of little lights in the darkness or even noticing the shape of a cross all around you, to remind us and help us recognize Him. But, He is there. May we remember to keep our eyes and heart open to be able to stop and notice Him. Then, we can begin to discover and rekindle a deeper joy than we could ever have dreamed.

ADVENT RECONCILIATION: By the time you are reading this, we have had a number of opportunities for Advent Reconciliation, including 6 days each week, either before or after Mass, and last week’s Advent Holy Hour with Confessions. After the printing of last week’s bulletin and the Advent letter, we learned that the Regional Penance Service, to be held at St. Valentine’s Church in Peru, has been moved up to Tuesday, December

17th. With all of the busyness of the past few weeks throughout the diocese, a change had to be made. May we all take advantage of one of the many opportunities made available to receive God’s Mercy through the Sacrament. The restoration to the grace of our Baptism, which Reconciliation brings, is one of the most fitting ways to receive the Lord’s offer for a new beginning. This fresh start is most fitting for the Season of Advent, in which we begin a New Liturgical Year by returning our focus to preparing our hearts to receive Christ more fully, as we prepare to celebrate His birth in the Christmas Season. We can spend many of the days, weeks, months or even years of our lives talking ourselves out of receiving this gift. But, there is no need not to receive this extraordinary gift that Our Lord is longing to give you. It is a great way to rediscover a deeper joy than anything the world can offer! Be not afraid.

SECOND SUNDAY THANKS: I just want to take a moment to thank Pat Galassi-Carlson and her crew for such an excellent Cookie Walk last weekend. This event is always a treat (pun intended), but their flexibility in merging it with Second Sunday Stay and Play this year was especially a gift. In effect, it gave us the opportunity to offer a "Stay and Play" social four times, once after each Mass. It was great to see a number of families and other parishioners, who don't often have the chance to join us after the 10:30, be able to partake in the fun and fellowship. Thanks to the CCW for making this opportunity possible.

CHECK YOUR BOX FOR SCAMS A'PLENTY (Imagine this to the tune of "Deck the Halls"): In all seriousness, a new trick of scammers was recently brought to my attention. I have shared with you before that scammers love to impersonate priests (and basically anyone that people tend to trust), so you should confirm with me any message that appears to come from me. Usually, it's a good first step to check and see if the return address is actually mine. However, apparently, they now have the ability to mask their email as mine, so that my actual email address will show up in the "From" line. One such email was received earlier this week. So, I just want to offer another reminder to be cautious about what you respond to and especially to promise that I will never ask you for personal information or funds via email, without any prior notice. Be safe.

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Gifford

St. Louis, pray for us!

Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!

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