December is a most joyful month as we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth. May your days be joyful and prayerful and peaceful as we prepare!
This Saturday, December 2, our parishioners in Second Grade celebrated their First Reconciliation. To celebrate the Sacrament of Confession is one of the greatest treasures of the Church! To encounter God’s mercy and forgiveness is a gift like no other! May our children, and all of us, turn again and again to the Lord’s love and mercy shown in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Please keep our Second Graders in your prayers as they now prepare for their First Holy Communion next spring.
There are many wonderful saints’ days to celebrate in December, but maybe the most anticipated is St. Nicholas, whose feast is this Wednesday, December 6. When I was a boy, we left a shoe outside our bedroom, and St. Nicholas would come overnight and leave us candy and some small toys. I still leave my shoes out for St. Nicholas! I hope that he visits all your homes this week as he teaches us all about the spirit of generosity. Some other great December saints include St. Ambrose on December 7; St. Juan Diego on December 9; St. Lucy on December 13; St. John of the Cross on December 14; and during the Christmas Octave, St. Stephen, St. John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents, and Pope St. Sylvester.
The Blessed Virgin Mary takes center stage in December, as she should! The feast of Our Lady of Loreto on December 10 reminds us that God made his home with us through Mary, and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12 reminds us that Our Lady is a compassionate mother to all who call out to her in their need. But the premier feast of Mary this month is the Immaculate Conception this coming Friday, December 8. We remember and proclaim that God kept Mary free from sin from the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb so that she would be a holy and worthy dwelling place for the Son of God. Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of our nation, the United States of America, and is a holy day of obligation. Masses for the holy day will be celebrated on Thursday, December 7 at 6:30pm, and on Friday, December 8, at 6:30am, and at 8:15am with our school community.
Of course, the greatest feast this month is Christmas, the Nativity of the Lord. Since the Fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve this year, our Sunday schedule will be slightly altered. Keep in mind there is the obligation to attend Mass both for Sunday and for Christmas; there are no “two-for-ones”! Masses for the Fourth Sunday of Advent will be at 4:30pm on Saturday, December 23, and at 9:00am on Sunday, December 24. Masses for Christmas will be at 4:30pm and 10:00pm on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, and at 9:00am on Christmas Day, Monday, December 25. The following weekend, December 30-31, we will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph with Masses at the usual times. Mass for the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, will be at 9:00am on Monday, January 1, 2024.
Many people choose to make an end-of-the-year gift to the parish in December, in gratitude for the past year and in honor of the Christmas holidays, and also to assist with their 2023 taxes! Please consider an extra financial donation to the parish as 2023 comes to a close. As always, thanks for your generosity to St. Margaret of Scotland Parish!
Pope Francis’ intention for the month of December is for persons with disabilities. We pray that people living with disabilities may be at the center of attention in society and that institutions may offer inclusive programs that value their active participation. We pray to the Lord!