“Hope & Anticipation…Forward in Faith” and “Hope, Peace, Joy & Love” were our all too quickly passed themes for Advent. These words are as appropriate as we now move into our Christmas Season!
Where have you and I been in our relationship with the Lord these past few weeks of Advent? I know I have been praying and trying to focus on my relationship with the one whose birthday we acknowledge and even more importantly on the expectation of His Second Coming. I’m always praying I am going “forward in faith.”
When I was a bit younger and attending my home parish of Holy Ghost, my high school friends would always join me for Midnight Mass. It was a time we wouldn’t think of missing. It was truly a night of prayer, blessing and having such good people around one another. Being young, after mass we would usually gather at my parents' home and continue our Christmas celebration and love for one another.
As a college student at R.I.T. and commuting from home, I became more engaged in parish life. One ministry I embraced was being a Lector. For a time I was spoiled because every year, or let’s say for many, many years, I was a Lector for our Midnight Mass. I was able to proclaim the first reading as we celebrated the Nativity of the Lord.
You do not know how proud I felt and humbled at the same time to proclaim the sacred text from the first reading. “They named him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” I get chills even writing this now thinking how fortunate I was able to stand at the Lectern and proclaim these words. I was blessed. When I eventually became a transitional Deacon and then a Priest, I was a bit disappointed I wasn’t the one who could proclaim this phenomenal reading from the Book of Isaiah.
But, I still have the blessing to proclaim these words. I may not be the Lector who shares them at mass but I am one fortunate soul who can integrate these sacred lines along with our other reading and Gospel.
This past several months have been a profound time in my life. I have been so blessed by the Lord to have been named Pastor at Saint Catherine of Siena which to me seems like yesterday by Bishop Matthew Clark . And, I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to have built upon this grace to have been named Pastor of the Church of the transfiguration this past June by Bishop Salvatore Matano.
I have not taken these ministries for granted. I thank Jesus Christ everyday of my life that I am able to serve each and everyone of you. I told all of you in my homily the first weekend we were beginning our shared journey that on my arrival at Saint Catherine’s I sat alone in the church and couldn’t believe I was there. I still have that special grace and feeling. When I was named Pastor of the Church of the Transfiguration, that same overwhelming grace filled my heart and soul. Each time I conclude a liturgy at the Church of the Transfiguration, I look up to the resurrected Christ and feel like I do at Saint Catherine’s, I cannot believe I am here.
I have so much to be grateful for.
Maybe some of you have people who ask you what you want for Christmas. That’s not so much part of my life anymore. That is fine as I need nothing materially. I do not often ask for something.
But, I did ask the Lord awhile ago, if it is meant to be, might I come to Saint Catherine of Siena. It happened!!! I did ask the Lord if it is meant to be, might I come to the Church of the Transfiguration. It happened!!!
This Christmas I could not have better gifts than all of you who faithfully worship, support and are faithful stewards to our two faith communities.
AND, I can not be more blessed in knowing each of you that together joyfully we praise Him, who is “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father- Forever, Prince of Peace.”
Merry Christmas to all of you and your loved ones!
You’re in my heartfelt prayers and love,