Dear Friends in Christ:
Today we gather to celebrate the Fourth Sunday in Advent. As we light the last candle of our Advent Wreath, as we gather on the very heels of Christmas, and as we hear the scripture readings for this Sunday, I am reminded of something I heard while at a retreat a number of years ago.
You can understand the Bible between two poles: promise and fulfillment. God makes promises and He fulfills them. I have to admit I found this to be so simple and yet so profound.
God is different from us. Truth be told, we make promises but don't always fulfill them. God, on the other hand, always fulfills his promise.
We see this promise and fulfillment in today's readings. God makes an extraordinary promise to King David. "Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever." Our Psalm reiterates this promise "I have sworn to David my servant: Forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations".
So what can we say about God's promise to David? Hear the words of the Gospel, when the angel says to the Virgin Mary, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus." Then Gabriel goes on to say, "He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father."
God keeps his promise, often in extraordinary and surprising ways. This is the mystery we celebrate in just a few days. God always keeps his promise ALWAYS. He often does it in ways that go beyond our expectations. We are now accompanying Mary and Joseph on the road to Bethlehem - the City of David. We greet Mary with the words of the angel, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." Confident that God always fulfills his promise, we join Mary in saying, "May it be done to me according to your word.”
These final hours of Advent offer us an opportunity to make ourselves fully ready for God to enter our world. But Advent also asks us to do something more than prepare the way of the Lord. Advent asks us to prepare ourselves for God’s will for our lives.
I wish to express my profound gratitude to the 778 families who have contributed, as of December 8, 2020, (this bulletin went to print before numbers were received this week) to our Annual Family Commitment, a total of $229,771.50, which reflects the generosity of 25.09% of our families. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our parish family.
Each year, with your generosity, we are able to address the needs of repairs that would simply not be possible without a special collection. These are often substantial projects, such as we will do in 2021 with the refurbishment of our pews and parking lot repairs at the South Campus, which quite simply could not be accomplished without your phenomenal generosity to the Annual Family Commitment. As a family of faith we have a responsibility and an obligation to ensure our facilities are up-to-date and running efficiently. We need EVERY family in our parish family to make a commitment according to their means to help us reach this goal. If you have not yet made a commitment, we invite you to do so today! You can do so by mailing in a contribution, or by using our online giving found on our website www.stbridgetcheshire.org. Thank you for the deep love you have for our parish family.
THIS SUNDAY we invite EVERYONE to CONFESSION and EUCHARIST. There will be four priests in the lot behind the rectory for the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 2-4PM! THIS IS OPEN TO EVERYONE! Enter through Cherry Street and follow the directions of the Knights of Columbus who will be directing traffic! If you are alone in the car, you will be able to do a drive-up confession without leaving your car; and if you have more than one person in your car, you will be directed where to park to enable you to do a walk-up confession (please make sure you remain socially distant for your safety and that of your confessor). After you have experienced God’s mercy, then you will directed to leave the lot by the exit on Main Street!
For our virtual parishioners we will, at the same time, be offering the opportunity for Drive-Up Holy Communion like we did in November…here are the details…
· For those wishing to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, please enter the property by way of Cherry Street and follow the procedures outlined above.
· Once you have gone to Confession, you will be asked to exit to Main Street!
- If you already attended Mass that morning, then you can simply go home freed from your sin!
- If you are a member of our Virtual Family of Faith then you can enter the church parking lot on the other side of the rectory, follow the signs around the church, and receive Holy Communion.
· If you are not going to Confession for whatever reason, you can simply follow the same pattern by entering the church parking lot by the driveway between the rectory and the church and following the signs.
Please be sure to consume Holy Communion before pulling away from us! The whole experience will be as safe as we can possibly make it. You don’t even need to leave the car!
Christmas is an invitation for each of us to discover in ourselves a dimension of goodness, which we call Jesus Christ. It’s an invitation to let that dimension shine forth into the darkness of today’s world. Christmas celebrates that at the birth of Jesus, when God entered the darkened human world in flesh, hope too entered the world. The birth of Jesus brought hope into the darkness of a world immersed in sin and brokenness. That is one of the reasons the Church chose December 25th to commemorate the birth of our Lord: the time of year when daylight lengthens.
He brought light into the world, and calls us by our baptism to also do our part to let that light shine in our words and actions. We must be the beam of light today in the midst of the darkness of this world. We must be the source of hope for those in despair. That is the message of this Christmas.
Given that this year is unlike any other, please keep in mind the following guidelines when thinking about your own plans for Christmas Mass:
· Archbishop Blair has granted a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday and Holy Day Mass for all Catholics in the Archdiocese (including Christmas and New Year’s Day) until Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (February 17, 2021).
· Archbishop Blair has also granted permission for Vigil Masses of Christmas to be held earlier than the usual 4pm hour to try to compensate for the inability to have large numbers gather at any one Mass. Therefore, you will notice Masses beginning at 1PM. That is NOT a typo.
· By Archdiocesan Guidelines and the mandate from the State of Connecticut, we are STILL LIMITED to no more than 100 persons in the building for Mass.
· Those whose physical health is compromised due to illness or advanced age should seriously consider remaining home this Christmas. Please note that the 1PM Mass on Christmas Eve and the 10:30AM Mass on Christmas Day will BOTH be livestreamed. Masses can be viewed at any time after as well. Access to livestream is through our website: www.stbridgetcheshire.org
· For those wishing to attend Mass at Christmas in-person, as on all Sundays since we have reopened, A RESERVATION IS REQUIRED. Please visit our website or call the parish office to make a reservation. As announced last Sunday, with respect to all and in fairness to all, NO WALK-INS WILL BE PERMITTED to any of the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Masses.
I thank you for your patience, understanding, and cooperation as we continue to deal with this pandemic. These are not normal times in any sense of the word. We are doing our very best to accommodate as many people as possible! If the Mass you want to go to is full, consider signing-up for another time, or we invite you to PLEASE join us on our livestream through our website, Facebook, or YouTube.
To all parishioners of Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish…to those who will be with us in-person for Masses, to those of our virtual parish family, and to those who are traveling for Christmas…On behalf of myself, Father Federico, Deacon Iadarola, Deacon Wilber, Sister Patricia, and the entire pastoral and parish staffs, I offer our prayers for a blessed Christmas for you and your family. We pray that no matter what you are doing, you remain safe, and take a moment to reflect on the great mystery of what we celebrate. I offer special prayers to those who have recently experienced the death of a loved one; may the Christ-child bring you His comfort and His peace.
As always, please remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world. Merry Christmas one and all!!!