Pastor’s Corner – January 7, 2018
As we continue to celebrate Christmastide this weekend, we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord today. Traditionally, this feast was celebrated on January 6, ending the “twelve days” days of Christmas. However, we now celebrate it liturgically on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. “Epiphany” comes from a Greek verb meaning “to reveal.” Therefore, the Epiphany celebrates God’s revealing, or manifesting, Jesus’ identity as true God, Messiah, and Savior of the world. It not only commemorates the fact that Jesus appeared to save us, but did it in such a way that we could understand and acknowledge. The Gospel reading for the day is from the second chapter of Matthew, where the magi from the East seek the newborn king of the Jews, and of course, find Him and pay Him homage. This teaches us that Jesus was not only the Savior the Jews were awaiting, but also the Savior the whole world was awaiting!!
Giving Thanks for You and Your Generosity at Christmas!
Last week we celebrated the secular New Year, and at this time of year it is appropriate to reflect and give God thanks for the gifts he has given to us, the first and foremost being His Son, the source of all grace and the source of our salvation. We should also take into account the particular gifts we have received in the past year and thank God for them. Each and every one of us has at least been blessed with the gift of living another year here on earth and given the opportunity to grow in our knowledge and love of God during that time. I want to thank you for your generosity to our parish over the last few weeks and during Christmas. As you can see, we have made great strides over that time in approaching our weekly offertory goal. For your information, we are steadily decreasing the debt incurred for the Valentin Hall renovation, and we are well ahead of schedule for paying off the debt early. This is only possible because of you and your generosity.
The Christmas Season Comes to a Close this Week
We come to the end of the Christmas Season tomorrow when we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. The calendar is a bit unusual this year because Christmas fell on a Monday, so The Baptism of Jesus falls on a Monday instead of its usual place in our Sunday celebrations during the Christmas Season).
The Baptism of Jesus reminds us of our own baptism. By our Baptism the Gates of Heaven are thrown open to us and we received the Grace to live a Christian Life. However, we must cooperate with our Baptismal Grace, that is, we must accept the Grace and act upon it. God never forces Himself into our lives. The heart of our life as Christians is that we freely give ourselves to God for His purpose. Although Grace is a free gift given by God and as such is nothing that we merit or can earn, we can dispose ourselves to receive fully His Grace by undertaking prayer and the study of our faith and by practicing virtue. In this way, we are “formed” into the life of Christ. Christian Formation is a combination of study, prayer and worship (both formal and in the lives we lead) that directs and leads us towards Christ.
Our church parish provides opportunities for such activities. We have two Come, Lord Jesus! groups that meet on Tuesday’s at 6pm and Wednesday’s at 5:15pm. These groups combine prayer and scripture study that focuses on the Mass readings for the following Sunday. For men, we have “That Man is You,” a program directed by Deacon Joubert that meets Wednesday mornings at 5:45am. We also have a formal bible study directed by Deacon Joubert during the day and Regena Stelly in the evenings which meets at 10am and 6pm on Mondays. Also, I highly recommend a yearly retreat for all as part of our continuing formation. It is a time of quiet and reflection, something critical to a good spiritual life. A men’s retreat from our parish is held each year at Our Lady of the Oaks in Grand Coteau, and there are woman’s retreats as well. In addition to these things, we also have charitable and fraternal organizations, such as The Catholic Daughters and the Knights of Columbus who provide plenty of opportunity to put our faith into action. We all should have and active faith to help us continue to learn about Jesus and how to imitate Him in our lives.
Thanks again, and may God Bless you in this Christmas Season and New Year, that you may receive the Grace God the Father gives to you in the Incarnation of His Son, that you may cooperate with that Grace through the power of the Holy Spirit, and that you may come to know Him ever more deeply in the upcoming year.