Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the final candle on our Advent wreath. Each candle is meant to inspire within us a virtue for each of the four weeks of this sacred season. On the first Sunday of Advent we lit the first candle, which symbolizes the virtue of hope, the kind of which was embodied by our ancestors in the faith. On the second Sunday, we lit a candle for peace. On Gaudete Sunday, we lit the rose candle, symbolizing the joy we feel as we realize that we are closer to Christ’s coming than we were at the start of the Advent Season. This Sunday, the Gospel recounts the story of how our Blessed Mother, having just received the Good News from the Archangel Gabriel that she would bear God’s Son, Emmanuel, into the world, “went in haste” to her cousin Elizabeth, now six months pregnant with John the Baptist, who leapt for joy at the presence of the unborn Christ in Mary’s womb. The fourth candle we light today is meant to inspire within us the virtue of love.
As we approach the end of the Advent, we realize that all of our preparation up to this point, all that we did, or did not do, to engage the holiness of this sacred season is behind us. Now it is time for us to move forward, together, into the Christmas Season, opening ourselves to the gift of God’s love, which is superabundant, overflowing, and freely given. God gives this gift to us (and to all humanity) fully and completely through his Son, Jesus Christ, so that, like all good gifts, we would share that love, unconditionally and without holding back, with all those whom God has brought, or may bring, into our lives. With Christmas just a few days away, are you prepared to receive this gift? Over the days ahead, how might God be calling you to share the gift of his love with those around you, maybe in a new way, and in a way that only you can do?
As we pray in gratitude for the gift of God’s love, and out of love make a gift of ourselves to God and to neighbor, I want to draw your attention to the gifts that the Dominicans have given to this community. On the evening of November 30th, Fr. John Paul, Fr. Jordan, and Fr. Jonathan took me on a tour through the church, the sacristy, the church hall and the priory. We went room-by-room as my brother priests gave me an in depth and detailed orientation which keys opened which doors (or which keyholes needed a bit more finesse while turning the key), where certain special vestments, vessels, and liturgical implements were stored for special occasions, and the structural aspects of the church and the house that would need special, ongoing attention and upkeep. At a certain point we met in the sacristy. And there, the brethren, in the presence of David Crotta, Parish Trustee, presented ten beautiful and spiritual treasures as a gift to the people of St. Mary’s Parish. Here is some of the language from the perpetual loan agreement:
The Friars now serving the Parish wish to acknowledge the profound spiritual bond they and their predecessors have formed with the people of the Parish during the Friars’ 135 years of service to the Parish;
The Friars wish to express their profound Christian solicitude for the people of the Parish by making a tangible expression of their devotion and gratitude to the Parish;
Now therefore, in consideration of the foregoing, the Friars make herewith a perpetual loan to the Parish from their patrimony of the following sacred objects, which have been customarily used in St. Mary Church:
1. The white and blue Marian vestment set from Watts of London;
2. The statue of St. Dominic in the church;
3. The other remaining large statues in the church; (the Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, and Our Lady of Victory)
4. The wooden processional cross designed by Jordan McConway, O.P.;
5. The “great cross”;
6. The “great thurible” and its stand;
7. The Nativity set.
When we see these sacred treasures or pray before them, let us pray in a special way for the Dominican Friars, for their personal intentions, and in gratitude for the many spiritual gifts they have given to our community throughout their history at St. Mary’s.
Peace in Christ,