Written on Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
The new liturgical year starts with Sung Vespers at 3:30 pm in the Choir Stalls before the Chancel on Saturday, December 2nd, 2017. This year Advent and Christmas Season is relatively short. There are literally 21 ¾ days of Advent this year, whereas last year we had the full four weeks with 28 days. I say there is only 21 ¾ days because the fourth Sunday of Advent falls on Christmas Eve this year. So, on the morning of December 24th we have the last Mass of the Advent Season coinciding with our Sunday Obligation. Those who prefer the Christmas Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, which we customarily celebrate at 5:00 PM on December 24th for the fulfillment of the Christmas Holy Day, should consider attending Mass on Saturday Evening December 23rd for the fulfilment of their Sunday obligation. This year because of this occurrence we will be consolidating our Sunday morning schedule for the fourth Sunday of Advent with Mass in English at 9:00 AM, and then a traditional Latin Mass at 10:30 AM. The Saturday Mass of anticipation remains at 5:00 PM on December 23rd. The Advent & Christmas Brochure for 2017, which you will have received in the mail has the entire schedule.
When the fourth Sunday of Advent falls on Christmas Eve some people do ask if the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass works like a two for one kind of Mass satisfying both the Sunday obligation and the Christmas Holy Day obligation. We could dig into the minutiae of Church Law aka Canon Law, and truthfully, just as civil lawyers have varying legal interpretations so too do canon lawyers, even on this question. Since the season of Advent is meant to help us in our preparation to meet the Lord Jesus when he comes again it really is the wrong question to ask. The Nicene Creed, which we profess every Sunday and Holy Day puts it this way: “I believe….He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” The Lord will return again in glory, yes, but let us not forget that he also returns to us in every Mass albeit in a hidden way in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. While it might be the case that Christmas Eve Vigil Mass could be a two for one kind of Mass, if we approach Advent and Christmas in this way it defeats the purpose of Advent, and always being ready to meet the Lord when He comes. As the Book of Revelation puts it:
“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Μαραναθα.” Rev. 22:20
In the verse above I used the Greek word using Greek characters. Greek is the original language for most of the New Testament. But even here the Greek is not the original. Like Amen, Hosanna, and Alleluia the word Maranatha is so special that the word is transliterated into Greek from Aramaic, the language that Jesus, the twelve, and many of the earliest disciples spoke. English transliterates it as Maranatha from Greek. It literally means “Our Lord, Come!” or “Come, Lord Jesus!” In Aramaic, it appears this way: מרן אתא. Since it is like Amen or Alleluia the phrase must go back to the earliest days of Christianity. It expresses the faith and hope we all must have. Come, Lord Jesus! This is what Advent and Christmas is all about.
- New Church Website: On Monday evening, November 27, a newly designed mobile friendly website for The Church of the Sacred Heart went live. Not only is this website mobile adaptive, but the site, developed by St. Pio Media, complements the design and look of the new school website that went live at the beginning of 2017. Content will be added as we go forward. One of the new features is an announcement section, which is a good place to go to find out various events happening at Sacred Heart. Our address remains the same so check it out at shrmn.org.
- Stewardship: I want to publicly express my thanks to Bud Heifort, his wife Kim, and Tommy for rearranging their schedules so that Bud could offer testimony at our three main Masses. Your words were moving. Thank you for giving testimony about the importance of Sacred Heart and this community. Thank you for embracing the mission. Thank you for reminding us that we are Formed in His Heart, Serving with His Heart, and Giving from His Heart.