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Fourth Sunday of Advent - December 22, 2019

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ:

Today we gather to celebrate the Fourth Sunday in Advent. As we light the last

candle of our Advent Wreath, and as we gather on the very heels of Christmas, our Gospel reading prepares us to witness Christ's birth by showing us how Jesus was recognized as Israel's long-awaited Messiah even before his birth.

Today the Gospel reading presents us with Saint Joseph as we contemplate the Incarnation. Joseph was a humble and obedient man, or better as the Gospel says “a righteous man.” Joseph spent his life providing for others, forsaking whatever dreams he might have had so that he could fulfill some greater dream, some greater calling. He

was human and flawed. He was probably, like us, prone to doubt. He likely experienced at some point in life the human conditions of selfishness, sin, and perhaps even anger. He spent a lot of his time, again like us, praying for patience. BUT Joseph also knew trust! And though he never uttered a word in the Gospels, he spoke eloquently with his very actions. He listened and responded to what he heard. He dared to believe the unbelievable and surrender to God’s plan. He took to heart the message of the angel in the Gospel today, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid.” He took a leap of faith trusting in God’s will and plan. And as a result of this trust, a family was formed, which we now call the Holy Family.

The reading today reminds us that we too are called to cooperate with God’s plan and His will. We too are called to fulfill a dream that is God’s dream for us. Doing so requires the hardest thing, namely, TRUST. May the intercession of Saint Joseph help us to place our Trust in God and His plan.

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. It asks us to do what Saint Joseph did: to prepare ourselves for God’s will for our lives.

Pray that we learn from Joseph’s example. Seize these days. Make them matter. Prepare. Get to confession. Find time for quiet reflection away from the noise and the distractions and the stress of the season. Listen. And, above all, trust.

Online Giving Increasing Every Week…I am so very pleased that more and more parishioners are choosing to utilize our online giving! Please consider joining this growing number of parishioners. WeShare can be accessed through our website by clicking on the online giving button. WeShare is a secure web-based system that makes it easy for our parish staff to set up and manage collections and other events.

WeShare is certified PCI Level 1 Compliant as well as SSAE-16 SOC II Type II certified. Merchant of Record is managed by WeShare, not the parish, which eliminates the risk and exposure due to fraud and provides us with the highest level of data security.

I wish to express my profound gratitude to the 644 families who have contributed, as of December 17, 2019, to our Annual Family Commitment, a total of $175,040.00, which reflects the generosity of 20.8% of our families. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our parish family.

As you are aware from my previous letters, this year we are hoping to continue to address the replacement of the roof over the Education Wing of Saint Thomas Becket Church and the roof on Saint Bridget Church as well. These are substantial projects that we could never accomplish without your generosity to the Annual Family Commitment. 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.

Reminder that this Wednesday we celebrate Christmas. Here’s a little encouragement to welcome all who come to worship with us! Pope Francis has called us to “Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven. For with Christ joy is constantly born anew.” Our Parish Mission Statement reminds us that “we, the Family of Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish, Cheshire, Connecticut, building on our rich heritage of Catholic faith, center ourselves in the Eucharist, and honor God in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.” How we fulfill this mission is found in our Parish Vision Statement which reads, “Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish Family is a spiritual home and a center of missionary outreach where all may come to be nourished in the midst of their journey. All who come are welcomed with warmth, harmony, belonging and will know they are home.”

While we gather as a parish family this coming week to celebrate the great gift of God’s own Son, certainly cause for our hope and joy, let us heed these words and put them into practice in the parking lot as well as in the pew. Let us do what we can to ensure that ALL feel welcomed here at Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish.

You never know what effect a smile, a kind gesture, a simple hello, or a kindness in the parking lot can have in the life of the one to whom you extend this kindness. Many will come to be with us this coming week out of habit, whether they are regular parishioners or those who only come from time to time, we welcome them all. Among those who will join us we will find:

· Those who come seeking like the wise men…

· Those who come surprised like the shepherd…

· Those who come distracted like the innkeeper and his wife…

· Those who come kicking and screaming like Herod…

· Those who are searching for meaning in their lives…

· Those who are grieving the loss of their spouse, parent or child and are in need of the peace that only Jesus can give…

· Those who don’t believe that Jesus is for them…

· Those who are hurting and in pain, but are here to give Jesus another shot…

· Those who are not sure why they are here but they are…

Let us welcome them all, no matter what has brought them among us; they are here and deserve to be welcomed, and to know the joy, the peace, the hope, the love, and the mercy this Babe of Bethlehem brings into the world.

Please make an effort to welcome those around you at the Christmas Masses and let them know that our parish family is a place where they are welcomed and loved. You never know, your kindness may be the reason they come back next week. Let’s make that our hope and our prayer.

To all 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 you have safe travels and enjoy time with family and friends. We offer our special prayers for all those who find these celebrations difficult, especially for those who have recently grieved the death of a loved one. Know you hold a special place in our prayers at this time and that we pray the Christ-child may grant you His comfort and His peace. To all we say Merry Christmas! Thank you for making Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish such a vibrant community of faith, and thank you for your love evidenced in so many ways throughout the year.

To all who will be with us for Christmas Masses…I will say Merry Christmas to you at the Masses! PLEASE do whatever you can to make those next to you in the pews feel welcomed.

Be on the lookout at Christmas Mass for a special bulletin. We are in the process of putting together a special bulletin for Christmas Day. Be sure to obtain your copy when you come to Christmas Mass!

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.

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