Beloved Fellow Parishioners:
We are now in the Second week of Advent.  We continue our waiting for the Second Coming of Christ, even as we anxiously await the Christmas celebrations of his first coming more than 2,000 years ago.  Rightfully, we hear in the Scripture lessons last week and again this week the prophesies of judgment that will accompany Christ’s return. The separation of chaff from wheat.  Reward to the just and condemnation to the unrighteous of heart.  It is all about our choices and making ourselves right with the Lord before the Last Day.  That is what Advent is about: anticipating the arrival of the momentous event of the Parousia and the Eschaton (Greek words meaning “the second coming of Christ” and “the end of human time”).
Some ways to help us all to prepare: (1) participate in our St. Vincent de Paul giving tree, (2) contribute to various cold weather clothing drives, (3) give a little money to the Salvation Army bell ringers outside of department stores.  (4) make year-end contributions to religious charities and to your other favorite causes.  Some other ways: (1) remember our Advent Reconciliation service on Tuesday, December 13th at 7:00 pm; be there to shed your sins and be made clean in time for Christmas, (2) make an hour or two for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (every day after the 8:30 am Mass and on Monday evenings following the 6:30 pm Mass), (3) pray the Rosary each day, (4) renew your commitment to morning and evening prayer,  (5) be sure that all your children have the benefit of our parish faith formation classes, not just those who are due to receive a sacrament in the springtime (scholarships are available for this).
In a similar vein, notice, also, the report of our Stewardship of Treasure in this bulletin.  We are trending in the negative, budgeted offertory verses offertory monies received, by more than $12,000.
We MUST get ahead of this trend.  Please dig deeper to help us overcome this persistent shortfall (which we have been experiencing since September).  Personally, I have increased my monthly electronic giving by $50.  I encourage all of you who can do so to increase your weekly or monthly offertory in like fashion.  Similarly, I highly encourage you to sign-up for electronic giving because it takes the pressure off you to remember to write weekly or monthly checks, and it insures that your parish receives your offering even if you are away for a given weekend.  It’s easy to do.  Check the parish app on your phone or the instructions in the bulletin.  Or call the parish office and we can walk you through setting up your periodic electronic contributions.
This is important, especially this year, because Christmas falls on a weekend.  Every pastor dreads this calendar event because people tend to make only one gift to their parish for both the usual Sunday and for Christmas.  Thus, the financial “bump” we anticipate at Christmastime always falls short on such occasions.  Please, make both your usual Sunday offering, and make an additional offering for the Christmas envelope as well.  I know that I can count on you to do both.  The parish counts on the holiday offering to keep us in the black.  And your consistent regular weekly offering as well.
On a positive note, we are doing quite well in completing our individual commitments to the 2016 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.  Please honor your pledges through the end of December, and remember that all pledges for 2016 must be received by the processing company in Minnesota by January 11, 2017.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebrations are coming up in two weeks.  She is the primary patron saint of both North and South America.  All our parish celebrations are bilingual.  Since many of us are not familiar with her apparitions in Mexico several hundred years ago, this weekend celebration (December 10th – 12th) is a perfect opportunity to know more about Our Lady and to prepare ourselves in Advent for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  The festivities are unique and beautiful.  You will be impressed and moved by the devotion of our Masses, native dances and the apparition play, not to mention the talks that will be offered in both languages by our visiting priest, Fr. Michael Saloma.  See elsewhere in this bulletin for the full schedule of events of the three-day celebration.  I’ll be there and hope to see very many of my fellow “Anglo” parishioners as well since this holiday is not just for our Mexican brethren, but for ALL of us.
Chrismon Trees have been set up in the main church since you were here last weekend.  “Chrismon” means “Christ monogram.”  The decorations on the several trees were made by our K-5th grade Faith Formation students over the past week.  They took some home for their family Christmas trees and made others to decorate the trees in our church.  Chrismon Trees are a Methodist tradition that our students are experiencing in the spirit of ecumenism (joining other Christians in their Advent observances) as our Holy Father Francis has asked us to do in these tumultuous global times.  The symbols are all related to the Holy Trinity and to Church worship: various crosses, doves, chalices, and the Chi Rho symbol of a “P” imposed over an “X” (the first two letters of “Jesus Christ” in the Greek alphabet), and the symbol used by us to denote St. Pius X.  The trees will decorate our church during Advent, and will, on Christmas Eve, be decorated with more traditional items as has been our custom here at SPX for many years.
No Shave November is over.  Some men might choose to keep their “winter coat” a bit longer, but for those who found the itching so irritating, we are free to shave again.  Thanks, guys, for joining me to bring attention to the need for all men to have regular prostate exams so that guys can make early detection of that #1 cancer killer in males of many ages.
In closing, know that I pray for all of you every day.  I pray God’s infinitely merciful blessings on each of you and wish you a serene and holy Advent.  Let all of us open our hearts to God’s love for us this Advent that we may be ready for Jesus’ Second Coming.

Your brother on the Journey,

Father Greg