By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
Monsignor Clark was the pastor of Christ the King Parish. Being slayed by the Irish curse, Monsignor found his joy in the bottled spirits. One night the archbishop decided to phone Monsignor Clark. It so happened that Monsignor had taken a few too many nips of Jamison. When the phone rang, Monsignor picked up the handset and said, “Clark the King Parish, Christ speaking.”
This weekend we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We also refer to this Sunday as the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. Next Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, it the new year of our Church calendar. The message this Sunday is unchanging. We are reminded that Christ is the Lord of both heaven and earth.
Pope Pius XI established the feast of Christ the King in 1925. The pope noticed that much of the world was becoming secular. He wanted to draw attention back to Christ, especially as we approach Christmas season. Originally this feast was assigned to the last Sunday of October to be as near as possible to Al Saints Day. The feast was later changed to the last Sunday in Ordinary Time to demonstrate how Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the union between heaven and earth.
Today, we begin our journey toward Bethlehem. We join a young husband and wife as they travel toward a stable. Wise men set out to follow a star. It is night time. We stumble though the darkness. We are filled with expectancy for we believe that the Light of the World awaits us. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
Next Friday is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a Holy day of obligation. We are obligated to attend Mass. Mass will be celebrated at 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The Immaculate Conception honors the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ. Since 1846, the Immaculate Conception has been the Patroness of the United States. Mary is the Immaculate Conception. This day does not refer to Mary conceiving Jesus by the Holy Ghost. Rather, it is Mary conceived without sin in the womb of her Mother, St. Anne. From the very moment of her conception, God filled her with grace. God knew in His omniscience, that she would say “yes” to the Angel Gabriel and become the Mother of the Savior. Exactly nine months from now, on September 8, we will celebrate Mary’s birthday.
Next weekend we will have an anointing service after each of the Masses. The celebrant of the Mass will invite the people who wish to be anointed, to remain in the pews. The priests will lay their hands on each person. Then, the priest will anoint each person.
The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament which brings healing graces to those who are suffering. Only Bishops and Priests are empowered to confer the Sacrament of the Anointing. We bring this sacrament to patients in hospitals, to the homebound, to those who are ailing or are aged.
Christ gave us this sacrament as He anointed those who were sick. Through the history of the Church, there has always been the Anointing of the Sick. It is a sacrament for those at the point of death as well as for those who are suffering from sickness or old age, or for those who are preparing for surgery.
On Monday, December 18th at 7:00 pm, we will have a Penance Service at St. Gerard. We will begin with a prayer service, followed by an opportunity to go to confession. Several priests will be available for confession.
The novelist Somerset Maugham said it well. “I have committed follies. I have a sensitive conscience and I have done certain things in my life that i am unable to entirely forget. If I had been fortunate enough to be a Catholic, I could have delivered myself of them at confession and after performing the penance imposed, received absolution and put them out of my mind forever.”
Imagine that, a non-Catholic has recognized the value of the Sacrament. Yet, many of us brush the Sacrament aside as if to say it is old fashion. Forgiveness is not only old fashion but it is also fashionable. It is most important in our lives. The grace of the sacrament awaits you. Let’s not neglect this Godly gift. So, we welcome you on December 18th.
An irate judge in London, disgusted with corporate crime, sentenced a convicted embezzler by saying, “Your parole officer has not been born.”
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.