Dear Friends in Christ:
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. While the hustle and bustle of Christmas ends for the majority of people throughout the world on December 26th, for us as Catholic Christians it DOES NOT. Christmas lasts for twelve days! So, during these twelve days it is certainly appropriate to continue to wish one another Merry Christmas!
Today, the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, we must remember that the very word “Epiphany” means “manifestation.” The Epiphany is a celebration of the revelation of God in human flesh. It could also be said that an epiphany is: “an intuitive grasp of reality through something simple and striking.” Something as simple as a child brings us the reality of God among us. Something as striking as a star, the star of Bethlehem, bring us the reality of God among us.
The story of the Visit of the Magi makes an important point about the role of the Messiah. Jesus is called “the newborn king of the Jews” by the magi who traveled from the east. These men were not Jewish yet they paid homage to the King of the Jews. Matthew, who wrote to a Jewish audience, hoped to express the universal role of Christ in this story. These men were foreigners but they honored Jesus as their king. Jesus is shown now to the whole world. God cares about all creation regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity.
Don’t let yourself miss this message! We can be so caught up in everything that we risk missing the simple reality of Jesus—God became man to save us from our sins! Jesus is the Savior for ALL, He is the Prince of Peace for ALL, He is the way to the Father for ALL. May we see in Him the love of God for ALL, remember John 3:16: “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” JESUS IS GOD…the One who became man to save us by His sacrifice and who will rule over all. Jesus transforms history not by some political scheme, but out of love for everyone--one soul at a time. He invites us to conversion and to follow Him!
A Word of PROFOUND GRATITUDE to so many who made our Christmas celebrations such wonderful expressions of our faith…Thank you to Father O’Neill, Deacon Iadarola, Deacon Wilber, Sister Patricia, our Pastoral Staff, and our Parish Staff. Special gratitude to each and every one of them for their extra efforts in preparation for Christmas. IT WAS AMAZING to see the crowds gathering on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of our Lord! I am grateful to the whole staff, both pastoral and parish, who worked so hard the days leading up to Christmas to ensure Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish was ready to welcome so many!
I am likewise thankful to Father James Shanley for his assistance on Christmas Eve. He is a personal and dear friend of mine and I was confident he would offer a beautiful Mass, but it is always good to hear that it was in reality for those who attended. I also was told that he joked if you hadn’t been to church in a few months that he was not Father Romans with hair. Yes, I laughed. Yes, he will pay for such a comment. (SMILE)
A special word of gratitude to our musicians! Thanks to Julia Atwood, Director of Music, who worked so hard to make sure the Masses had beautiful music to enhance our prayer. I heard many compliments from people at all the Masses about how beautiful the music was! Music really speaks to the heart and is so important in the celebration of Holy Mass.
I am also thankful to Kathy Mahmood and Alan Smith who with Julia organized the various music groups and prepared them for our Christmas celebrations. Thank you to all the cantors, instrumentalists, and children who participated in a variety of ways in the music program for our Christmas Masses. We are SO grateful that you have shared your talents with our parish family.
It is truly amazing to see so many come together at the various Masses to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is my hope that each person who came to celebrate Christmas Eve and Day with our parish family felt welcomed, loved, and encouraged.
My gratitude also to all the volunteers who serve our parish family throughout the year as Cantors, Musicians, Eucharistic Adorers, Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Altar Servers, Ushers, of course members of our Parish Decorating Committee (who worked so hard to decorate our Churches and the School for the Christmas celebrations, GREAT JOB one and all), to the Money Counters, office volunteers, our Parish Trustees, the Parish Finance Council, the Parish Pastoral Council, and the Parish School Board, and to the various members of the many ministries in our
parish family, I thank each and every one of you for sharing your time, talent, and treasure to provide for the needs of our parish family.
But most importantly, I wish to thank you the people of our parish family. I thank you for your love and dedication to our Parish Family, for your great generosity—especially financial generosity—which enables us to offer the great variety of programs and activities, and I thank you for your presence at Mass both daily and Sundays. We exist as a parish family because of each of you. This past year has indeed been a year of blessings for us as a parish family and I am most confident that God is indeed at work in our midst. God bless each of you and thank you for all you do for our parish family!
Italy! So many have commented that they are excited we are planning a pilgrimage to Italy. THERE IS STILL ROOM! Want to join us? We are going October 1-10, 2019 to visit the Almalfi Coast and Rome! We will be seeing a lot during these days! We will visit the Floral Gardens of Caesar Augustus in Capri, the Saint Andrew Cathedral along the Amalfi Coast, the excavations in Pompeii, the sites of the life of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio). We will also visit Lanciano, a town most noted for the Eucharistic Miracle which became the foundation for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Finally, we will spend a couple of days in Rome, the Eternal City, where we will see the Vatican Museums, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Catacombs, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and more including plans for the weekly Papal Audience on Wednesday in Saint Peter’s Square.
This pilgrimage includes round-trip air from JFK, four-star hotels in Sorrento, San Giovanni Rotondo, and Rome, 6 dinners, breakfast daily, English-speaking licensed tour escort throughout, private motorcoach transportation, Daily Mass, and more. Cost per person in double occupancy is $3,779.00. Space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Initial deposit of $500 is due at time of registration. To register, please call Candy at Elite Travel at 203-271-0623 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I hope you will join us!
As we continue to move into the New Year be sure to stay connected to the parish. Be sure you have visited our new and improved website at www.stbridgetchesire.org. Through the website you will find out what is happening in our parish family. You can also “like” us on Facebook @stbridgetofswedenparish, follow us on Instagram and Twitter @sboscheshire, and don’t forget to sign-up for our parish app by texting APP to 88202 and searching for our parish through the application. We are really hoping to better utilize all these means of communication as a way to get information out to you in a timely manner. Of course, for more information on the life of our parish family and the many spiritual and social activities and events throughout the year including a parish calendar, simply visit the parish website.
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.
Nota bene (Latin for “note well”) On the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, after the Gospel, the priest or deacon, in keeping with an ancient practice of Holy Church, announces from the pulpit the moveable feasts of the current year: Here is the announcement:
Know, dear brothers and sisters, that, as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so by leave of God’s mercy we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection, who is our Savior. On the 6th day of March will fall Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season. On the 21st day of April you will celebrate with joy Easter Day, the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the 30th day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the 9th of June the feast of Pentecost. On the 23rd of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. On the 1st day of December, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.