Dear Friends in Christ:
Quí Ông Bà và Anh Chị Em thân mến trong Chúa Kitô:
Estimados Amigos y Amigas en Cristo:
I remind you that Thursday, Dec. 8 is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. The Mass schedule is above and on p. 11. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is the patroness of the U.S. and specifically of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Last weekend, I preached stating that a good teacher will emphasize the basics over and over. Therefore, I am teaching once again about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as a refresher for many and a correct understanding for others. It is important to understand what the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some think it refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father, but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think it means Mary was conceived "by the power of the Holy Spirit," in the way Jesus was. Though it is true of Jesus, Mary was conceived in the normal human way by her parents. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds that Mary was preserved by God from original sin or its stain from the moment Mary was conceived—that is what "immaculate" means: without stain. From the first moment of her existence, Mary was full of grace, that is, free of any alienation from God caused by original sin. Because of Mary’s special role in God’s saving plan, she was graced with this divine favor in anticipation of her son’s death and resurrection. Mary also was so attuned to God that she was free of all personal sin. This was God’s perfect act of purification to prepare Mary to bear the Son of God in her womb. This doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is more of a statement about Jesus than about Mary. It proclaims that Jesus was someone so unique and holy that God would even prepare his mother for his birth by preserving her from sin. St. Ambrose spoke of Mary as “free of every stain of sin.” Refer to the Catholic Catechism, #490-493.
All are invited to the 7 pm Mass Monday, Dec. 12 for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness for all the Americas. Next week, I will run an article that explains the rich symbolism of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Bring to the Church (or parish office) the unwrapped Share Your Blessings present with the ornament attached no later than next weekend, Sunday, Dec. 11. Our Christmas Gift List is on p. 13. Please remember the parish in your Christmas “shopping.”
The Knights of Columbus are holding their annual clothing drive for Magnificat Houses. Please clean out your closets and donate your gently used winter coats, jackets and clothing. Magnificat Houses offer faith, hope and help to the neediest by providing housing, food, work, spiritual and emotional support while the residents–of all races and creeds–rebuild their lives in community. Their 16 structures dot the map of Houston. Most are residential homes in near-town neighborhoods. Others target specific needs, such as the popular Loaves & Fishes soup kitchen (easily accessed by street populations in and around downtown and the adjacent areas). Their two largest complexes, the St. Joseph House Clubhouse and the Dona Maria Clubhouse, are dedicated to the special needs of our community's mentally ill, assisting with their reintegration into society, where possible. Others provide emergency housing for women living on the street, pregnant girls, victims of AIDS, the homeless, the destitute and the mentally ill, struggling to reenter society.
Mark your calendars for our parish Lenten mission with Fr. Jeremiah Shyrock, CFR, preaching the Masses for the weekend of March 11-12. Then on Monday-Wednesday (7 pm-8 pm), March 13-15, he will preach on God’s Love, Mercy & the Eucharist respectively.
The challenge is not to get so busy that we forget the purpose of this Advent Season. Research demonstrates taking time out of every day to reflect on what we are grateful for has an impact on our physical and mental well-being. It can be as simple as a daily gratitude list – write down 3 things you are grateful for. In a week’s time, you will likely see the difference.
Use the Advent booklets to assist you in prayer.