Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As the days grow darker and shorter and gloomy clouds and rain return in strength, some of us are struggling with seasonal depression and the stress that comes from not being near family members, or because of financial struggles of not being able to give their children the gifts for Christmas that they want. Our singing of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is meant to build up our hope in the second coming of Christ and our joy at celebrating his birth. However, for those who struggle with depression and stress, all the joyful songs and beautiful lights simply remind them of how far short of the fullness of joy their lives are today. Please pray for those who are having difficult Advent and Christmas seasons. If you know a widow, a single/divorced Catholic, invite them to join in your celebration. It is very helpful to single people to know that they are loved and invited to share in the joy of family life.

We have reason for great hope and joy, the angels have announced that to us a child is born, our Savior Jesus Christ has come into the world not only to save us on the last day, but also to manifest the love and mercy of God in the Church, in confession, communion and Christmas.  We are lucky, as Catholics, that our celebration of Christmas is more than just the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Mass. We celebrate the birth of the Christ Child all the way until we celebrate the visit of the Magi on the Feast of the Epiphany.

As we complete the final days of Advent in preparation for celebration of the coming of Christ and his second coming in glory, let’s pause a moment to consider what the birth of Jesus means for me personally and what do I need to work at in order to be purified and ready to greet the Messiah. I invite you to encounter the mercy of God, which Pope Francis is offering us this year. If it has been many years since you have made a confession, be not afraid, it is the mercy of Christ that you will encounter in the priest who in humility hears your confession. Yes, it is humbling for a priest to witness the unveiling of the human soul in confession. Fr. Steve, Fr.  Peter, Fr. Brian and I wish you a blessed Advent and we profoundly desire to make the mercy of Christ present to you in Sacramental Confession.

Your servant in Christ, Father Paul