Dear Fellow Parishioners,
I’d like to share a few thoughts about the upcoming celebrations of the last days of Advent, Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and Epiphany. This year, these observances come in very rapid succession, all within 9 days between Christmas and Epiphany. There are 24 scheduled Masses during this time, not counting any scheduled baptisms or funerals that may arise.
First, some practical matters.
Again, COVID-19 in its Omicron variation is back in the news. As of this writing, I see no reason to change our parish’s approach, which I regard as prudent and effective. Blessedly, our fellow Mass-goers continue to mask-up, regardless of vaccination status, if only to promote the common good. What is important is not only reasonable safety, but also the reassurance of those who still feel somewhat vulnerable.
I am careful with language, and hesitate to use the word “require” since, strictly speaking, “require” implies the ability to enforce compliance and impose penalties for non-compliance. I would much rather encourage solidarity with fellow parishioners and common purpose in keeping our parish both safe and hospitable, without resorting to other measures which defeat the whole purpose of gathering as a community of faith in the first place.
I ask that all parishioners continue to “mask up” through the holidays, just as we must when entering any public or semi-public indoor space. The size of our church and the height of the ceilings make it almost like being outdoors.
Masses and Holy Days of Obligation: One week from Christmas is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, celebrated on January 1. “Mother of God” is one of the most ancient names by which our Blessed Mother is known, highlighting her role not only as Mother of Jesus but Mother also of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This year it is not a Holy Day of Obligation because it falls on a Saturday and overlaps with Masses for the Epiphany.
Though January 1 is not a Holy Day of Obligation this year, I received a call earlier this week asking why there were not multiple Masses for the Feast of Mary Mother of God for those who wish to attend later in the day. Removing the obligation to attend Mass on holy days that fall on Saturday or Monday is an accommodation not only for the people, but also for the clergy who must offer more Masses later the same Saturday in anticipation of the full schedule of Sunday Masses. In the 10 days between December 24 (Christmas Eve) and January 2 (the Feast of the Epiphany), Fr. Stuart and I have 24 scheduled Masses to offer, each of them with a different homily and message, and not counting funerals that may still arise.
Finally, the number of gifts arriving for the less fortunate, both from our parish Giving Tree and St. Vincent Elementary School, has been truly impressive. I know that many of you also participate in similar efforts through your employers or other service organizations. If the pandemic has made us more aware of the needs of others, that is one more thing for which to be grateful, a spiritual gift worthy of the true spirit of Christmas.
Fr. Bill Donahue
Dear Fellow Parishioners,