We arrive once again at the beginning of a new liturgical year, the season of Advent, which began last weekend and continues in the days leading up to Christmas. The season of Advent is a most beautiful time in our year, as the days get shorter, darkness comes earlier, and we see lit by the altar the flickering candles of Advent, one for each Sunday of the season, signs of hope as we look forward to the Nativity of the Lord on December 25.
“Stay awake” is the cry of Jesus in last Sunday’s gospel, conveniently following the turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and red wine of Thanksgiving Day – “stay awake!” His words invite us to ask ourselves what we have become numb to, and to keep our eyes open and alert to signs of Christ present among us, even amid the busyness of this time of year. The early Christians themselves were beginning to wonder, in the decades after the death of Jesus, when Christ would come again, and the gospel writers were responding to these early Christians’ flagging sense of belief: “stay awake!” Or as Pope John XXIII once said, “look busy!” Look busy, he meant, in his sharp-humored way,
about the work of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice, peace, forgiveness, and mercy, all in our midst.
A few weeks back, Fr. Jim Sabak and I attended a guardians and pastors meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida. There were about 30 guardians and pastors at the meeting, and much of the discussion was about the upcoming decision by Holy Name Province (of which we friars are a part) on which ministry sites (HNP has about 30 all along the east coast) the province can continue to commit to, and which it cannot. All of this as a result of declining numbers of friars, and the aging of the friars: the province cannot continue
to provide friars to all 30 of our ministerial commitments. In addition, all of this is being done in advance of a merger of six U.S. provinces into one single U.S. province, expected by 2023. No decisions were made at our Florida meeting, but we do know that the decision, to be made by our provincial minister Fr. Kevin Mullen, will be announced to all the friars on Friday, January 3, via video conference. The decision about where the province stays, and where the province does not stay, will be announced to the people the weekend of January 4/5, 2020.
This is obviously big news for all of our sites, and we will keep you informed along the way. While I was there, I did see Fr. Bill McConville who used to be assigned here, and who now lives in St. Petersburg and is doing well.
One final note: December 8 is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and due to its falling on the 2nd Sunday of Advent this year, it has been moved this year to Monday, December 9. ******** It is not a holy day of obligation for this year; ******** we will, however, have Mass on Monday December 9 at 9:00am in the main church (with the school) and Monday evening at 7:00pm, also in the church.
Blessings on your week!