Very soon, we’ll celebrate Christmas, the birthday of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This Feast is the dawn of our salvation, so its observance can bring us great joy. I hope all of us who know and love the Lord will experience a very deep joy and peace as we enter into the Christmas season. We’ve been sober and reflective throughout these four weeks of Advent. Now is the time to sing, feast and rejoice in the Good News that a Savior has been born to us.
On behalf of our staff and all who exercise leadership here, I wish you and all families the heartiest of Christmas good wishes. Though our Feast will be scaled back this year in terms of our gatherings and festivities, our faith and gratitude for the gift of salvation should remain strong and alive. The pandemic cannot damper that. The Savior overcame the darkness of evil in our world in whatever form. He’ll overcome the darkness of this pandemic one day soon.
On my mind and I know, on your mind, is the deep concern I have for those who are suffering at this time. Many are in hospitals with COVID. Many have lost loved ones this year and are experiencing deep grief. Our heroic medical personnel are overworked and depleted. Our elderly and infirm languish alone in nursing homes. And all of us are suffering from the social isolation and insecurity about the vaccine and about what’s to come. So let us pray for one another during this unique Christmas. Let’s work hard at solidarity…reaching out more than ever to the needy, many of whom can be lifted up by our generous engagement with them. Break through this isolation in creative and new ways to “touch” others. We can be extremely effective in sharing love whilst observing safety guidelines.
If you are coming to in-person Mass this Christmas, be sure to wear a mask and keep social distance. Please resist the inclination to socialize with others in areas of gathering in and around the church. If someone is coming with you to Mass who may be COVID-compromised, ask them to stay at home and watch us on our live stream. This is especially applicable to out-of-town guests or family members or those returning from school.
I want to thank those who have volunteered to act as pandemic ushers for our Christmas Masses. So many have stepped forward to help Tim McNulty, our Chief Pandemic Officer, with his mission to ensure health safety during services at St. Mary’s. God bless you for your generous gift of self.
I want to offer special thanks to all who have donated gift cards for the needy. Genevieve Ireton, who is coordinating the program, reports an enormous response to the project. Countless gift cards have already been distributed to local agencies which assist the hungry, the financially-challenged, the forgotten. St. Mary’s parishioners have long been known for their generosity, not only to our parish but to the community. Once again, St. Mary’s has responded in a supremely spectacular way.
This pandemic offers us a quieter Christmas this year. This quiet can lead to sadness but it can also make us more reflective. Let’s use the latter to remember what we should always ponder on December 25th – God has entered our world, and He came to save us! Wow!