Updated: Jan 6
Dear Friends in Christ:
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. The very word Epiphany means “manifestation.” The definition can at times be elaborated to say that an Epiphany is: “an intuitive grasp of reality through something simple and striking.” Something as simple as a child. Something as striking as a star, the star of Bethlehem. Remember our Advent theme: Longing for Light?…Follow the Star…this Star is something so simple and yet so striking that brings us to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. The Feast of the Epiphany is an opportunity for us to focus, not on the Magi and who they were, but on Jesus Christ, the mystery of God revealing Himself through the incarnation of His own Son.
History is silent about just who or what the magi in the gospels really were. In some translations, they are astrologers, in others they are kings or “wise men.” And, in fact, we don’t know exactly how many of them there were. But because they brought three gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh – tradition has held that there were three of them. It’s a meaningful number. Three is the number of the Blessed Trinity. It is the number of days Christ spent in the tomb. But it also signifies something more meaningful and, for us, much more important. They are not solitary. They are a group. They are a community.
Again and again, when Christ revealed himself to the world, he rarely showed himself to just one person at a time. This will happen repeatedly. It’s the beginning of a pattern.
· Think of Christmas night, when the news was announced to shepherds not just one.
· At Jesus’s baptism, there will be a crowd of witnesses.
· When he preaches, he will speak to multitudes.
· When he performs his first miracle, it will be at a public gathering, a wedding.
· When he reappears after his resurrection, it will be to a roomful of believers.
· Even on the road to Emmaus, he presents himself not to one person, but to two.
That is part of the great message of Christianity. We are meant to receive the good news together…to live it together…to celebrate it and share it with one another, and isn’t that what we are doing together as a parish family!
We are so blessed at Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish with many ways in which we do just that. We strive hard throughout the year to find new ways to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We have countless ministries seeking to meet the spiritual needs of our parishioners, we have book studies and adult education programs to help us grow in knowledge of our faith and of Jesus Christ, and we have many spiritual programs, activities, and events such as Eucharistic Adoration to bring us closer to Christ.
God is at work in our midst as He brings us together as one family of faith. We see the work of the Spirit manifested each day in the many parishioners who volunteer their time, their talent, and their treasure as we make this journey together. As we begin this New Year, and the beginning of a new decade, we are filled with great joy as we witness the beginning of new ways in our parish family to share the Good News with our Youth and our Young Adults. As the Archdiocesan Synod 2020 theme so clearly states Grow and Go, we, as a parish family, are tremendously excited for the many ways we witness this happening in our parish family day in and day out. It gives me great joy as your Pastor to witness the work of the Holy Spirit in the midst of our family of faith. I am most confident that the year 2020 will be a year of profound blessings on our parish family as we continue to hear His voice and follow Him, and as we continue to find ways to help each other Grow and Go: Grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ and Go make disciples!
Next Sunday the Knights of Columbus, Sante Fe Council #2978, will be holding a membership drive. As you may remember I have been working for almost two years to help build up our Council and truly see our Council be a shining star in the Order throughout the world and of course a very visible and active presence right here in our parish family. In addition to the Tootsie Roll Drive and their traditional Pancake Breakfast, the Knights of our Council have been more and more active in our parish life. We see them helping to lead the rosary before the Saturday Vigil Mass, helping to organize the Clean-Up Days on our Church campuses, actively working to solicit support for our Parish School, and helping with any number of other improvements throughout the year. I am taking this opportunity to personally invite all men of the parish, over the age of 18, to consider becoming a Knight of Columbus, or if they are one already to become active in the Council once again! I am confident that we can accomplish much more for our Parish, our School, and the wider community with more Knights in our midst. Won’t you consider joining? For more information please contact our Grand Knight Ronald Painchaud at email@example.com.
As we have begun this New Year, I take this time to express my gratitude to you all for the blessings of the past year. First and foremost I express gratitude to God, for His guidance of our family of faith and for His love for us. Father Federico and I see God at work in our midst every day and stand in awe at all that He does in the lives of our parishioners.
I express my personal gratitude to Father Federico, Deacons Iadarola and Wilber, Sister Patricia and the entire Pastoral Staff...I can never adequately thank the members of our Pastoral Staff who meet every Friday to collaborate as we seek to continually work with parish volunteers to implement new programs and activities to bring us together as a family of faith both spiritually and socially. I am most grateful to each of them for their love for the Church, their love for our parish, and their hard work and dedication in pointing the way to Jesus Christ.
My personal gratitude also to our hardworking Parish Staff…Our parish staff work so diligently in a variety of ways whether as Sacristan, Office Staff, Custodians, or any number of other positions held here. I am most grateful to all our staff for their daily work in assisting Father Federico and I in our ministry among you. Special gratitude for all their extra efforts in preparation for Christmas!
Gratitude also must be expressed to the many parishioners who volunteer in so many capacities…Each and every day our parish is blessed with countless volunteers who work to truly Go and Announce the Gospel in our parish and community. I wish to express my gratitude to each and every one of them who seek to serve the people of God in our Parish Family. Thank you for sharing your time, talent and treasure in building up our family of faith.
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, for your great generosity, especially financial generosity which enables us to offer the great variety of programs and activities and enables us to maintain our facilities, and I thank you for your presence at Mass both daily and Sundays. We exist as a parish family because of each of you and your relationship with Jesus Christ. God bless you and thank you for all you do for our parish family!
I express special gratitude to all who sent Christmas cards, cookies, and other delicious treats to Father Federico and me during the season. We are most grateful to you for your thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity to us.
As we continue to move into the New Year be sure to stay connected to the parish. Be sure you have visited our user-friendly 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, 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 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 (Italian 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 26th day of February will fall Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season. On the 12th day of April you will celebrate with joy Easter Day, the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the 21st day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the 31st of May the feast of Pentecost. On the 14th of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. On the 29th of November, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.