Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:
Advent! Can you believe it is Advent? This year has just flown by, and now we are only three and a half weeks away from Christmas.
This weekend marks the beginning of a new liturgical year, and a new journey for us as people of faith. Today also begins the great season of Advent, that period of time given to us to prepare for both the celebration of the Birth of Christ at Christmas, and His promised return at the end of time. Advent is a season that is often not given much attention partly because of the commercialization of Christmas, the holiday songs, the seasonal sales, and the decorations for Christmas. But Advent is often overlooked because of the busyness of preparing for family gatherings, the many parties that are occurring during the coming weeks as family and friends gather for pre-Christmas celebrations.
Though stores seem to put the items for Christmas out earlier and earlier each year, this year it seems to me it was earlier than ever before. I even saw people had Christmas lights in their yard before Thanksgiving!
But what about Advent? Each year the Church gives us this incredible opportunity to have a personal encounter with Jesus. Each year, in this holy season of Advent, we are provided the chance to step back and look at who we are, what we are doing, and what is our relationship with Jesus looking like these days. Where does Jesus fit into my life right now? This Jesus whose birth we are preparing to celebrate came into the world to bring meaning to our lives, to show us the way to the Father, to offer us everlasting joy ultimately with Him in heaven. So, Advent gives us a chance to ask ourselves: Am I ready to meet Jesus? Am I ready to truly celebrate the gift this baby Jesus brings into my life?
We prepare for everything we consider important in life. Professional sports athletes don’t show up for the game without properly training, you don’t show up for a presentation at work without properly preparing, students don’t expect to achieve good grades without studying prior to the exam, and you don’t have a dinner party without preparing the home and a menu ahead of time. Important things take preparation.
The preparation of Advent is not simply the typical Christmas preparations of buying and wrapping gifts, baking cookies, having Christmas parties, putting up the decorations, decorating the tree. No the preparation of Advent is really preparing our souls through prayer and sacrifice. When was the last time you prepared your heart to welcome Jesus at His birth at Christmas? Take a break from the list of thousands of tasks you have ahead of you in the next three and a half weeks and get your hearts ready for the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God is with us! Prepare your hearts for Jesus!
During the past few months we as a Pastoral Team have been praying in preparation for this season. We have been asking ourselves what we can do to make Advent a spiritual journey for our parish families. We have thought about all that Advent entails as we await the coming of the Lord; preparing, watching, waiting, and rejoicing. From this prayer and many discussions we have established our theme for this Advent journey: Longing for Light? Follow the Star! How our hearts long for light! How we long to see Christ shine His light on us! We live in a world that is often filled with darkness and negativity. We need the light of Christ in our lives. As the words of the Hymn Christ be our Light so beautifully say: “Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness. Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today!”
A word of gratitude to the many students who submitted artwork for this year’s Advent Banner Contest. Congratulations to Maddie Uluski, grade 4, whose artwork is seen here and on the banners in front of our churches. Well done!
Don’t allow this season, these short weeks of Advent, to simply be a busy time in your lives. I urge us all, as a parish family to reflect on what it is we celebrate in this holy season of Advent, the coming of our Lord Jesus in His birth on Christmas, and in His second coming in glory! Here are some suggestions for using this time of Advent to its fullest potential:
1. Stop by Saint Bridget Church during the day to spend some time in quiet prayer with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Church is open each day from 7AM until 4:30PM.
2. Come to daily Mass once, twice, or more each week. Come on your way to work. Daily Mass usually takes about 20-25 minutes (there is no music and the Liturgy of the Word is shorter) so see it as a great way to start your day!
3. Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be freed from the weight of sin. On Thursday, December 12th we will have the opportunity for Confessions from 6-7PM in Saint Thomas Becket Church. We will have additional priests available in the classrooms of the Education Wing while prayerful music is playing in the Church. Come experience the mercy of God!
4. Light an Advent wreath at your home each evening at dinner time. If you do not have one but would like to purchase a kit please visit Maryheart Crusaders in Meriden or Patrick Baker & Sons in Southington.
5. Use the Little Blue Book. These are little blue prayer books which contain short reflections for all the days of Advent based on the daily Gospels of Advent. We hope you will take one and use it throughout this holy season.
6. JOIN ME AND FATHER FEDERICO…we are asking you to join us in reading the Scriptures. WOW! So go home, get the family bible off the shelf, dust it off if need be, and be ready to be spiritually renewed by God’s Word! Luke’s Gospel, more than the others, brings about the advent themes. We see in his Gospel how Luke was clear in Jesus’ coming and mission, which were to seek and to save the lost (19:10). This is evident throughout Luke’s Gospel, which he emphasizes in the birth narrative in the first two chapters. Grounded in the history of Israel, Jesus is referred to as the “Christ,” and the “Messiah.” Luke also points out that Jesus’s ministry is not limited to the Jews in that although he is the Savior who comes from the Jews, he is the Savior for the world, including outcasts and Gentiles. So join us in reading this Gospel. There are 24 chapters in the Gospel of Luke and there are 24 days before we celebrate Christmas. JOIN US in reading one chapter of Luke’s Gospel each day of Advent! Use #lukeatsbos to post insights on social media or email any insights to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear how the Scriptures are speaking to you during this journey.
7. TUNE IN EACH DAY…OUR OWN IN-HOUSE VIDEO SERIES…We are offering you a video series with a minute reflection for every day of Advent. We will be hearing from a variety of people who make up the life of our parish family. Parishioners of all ages have been asked and are willing to help us reflect on this Advent Journey. We are very excited. We will post the videos on our parish Facebook page as well as on our website. Don’t miss hearing from fellow parishioners about their experience on this Advent Journey.
Remember it is up to us to make Advent a time of spiritual growth and renewal even in the midst of the busyness these weeks bring. Longing for Light? Follow the Star! If we do then we will be ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior!
A BIG, BIG THANK YOU to all those involved in the annual No Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner which was held last weekend. It was such a wonderful evening as our parish family came together to share a meal and give thanks to God for His many blessings. Thank you to Pam Guglielmino and Jennifer Pestritto for their efforts in coordinating this parish event and making it such a wonderful experience for all who attended. Thank you to all the children from the parish who wrote about what they were grateful for! Three students were chosen to share their essays with those in attendance. Thank you to Charlotte Ferrie, Luciano Della Porta, and Amelia Hawkins for sharing their essays with us. It really is great to see our family of faith come together and give thanks for all of God’s blessings!
I wish to express my profound gratitude to the 498 families who have contributed,
as of November 22, 2019, (this bulletin went to print before numbers were received this week) to our Annual Family Commitment, a total of $138,555.00, which reflects the generosity of 16.16% of our families. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our parish family.
As I am sure you are aware, the added expense of doing projects to your family home can be overwhelming. Now imagine the buildings and the size of the buildings we have to care for. It gets quite costly when major repairs need to be made. But 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. Thank you for the deep love you have for our parish family.
As always, 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 united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.