Viewing entries tagged
Advent

Reconciliation Services this Week

Reconciliation Services this Week

Dear Parishioners,

Advent is a time of preparing for the celebration of Christ’s First Coming (Christmas) and Christ’s Second Coming (The Final Day). What better way to prepare than to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation? This next week, locally, we will be offering two different days for our Communal Reconciliation Services:

St. Patrick of the Forest on Monday, the 17th.  
St. Anne on Thursday, the 20th. 

If those days/times do not work for you, please know that there are two other Communal Reconciliation Service in our Vicariate this week:

Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point on Tuesday, the 18th
Sacred Heart, Medford on Wednesday, the 19th

All of these services start at 7 PM and will have multiple priests available to hear your confessions. Please mark your calendar and make an effort to prepare yourself for this sacrament of being forgiven of your sins, as we draw closer towards Christmas and Christ’s Second Coming in glory.  May these mysteries bring us joy and move us ever closer to our Savior. 

Blessings,

Fr. Wiliam Holtzinger
Pastor

Blessed Advent!

Blessed Advent!

Dear Parishioners,

Blessing to you as we begin the Advent Season (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to"). This time of year is a preparation period for the solemnity of Christmas. Advent colors are traditionally violet, expressing the penitential sense of the season. Advent is also marked with a sense of joy and expectation. 

Along with these underlying currents, the prayers and readings speak about the Israelites hope and expectation for the coming of the Messiah (savior), the Christ (anointed one) who will lead them out of their misery and shepherd them as a great nation. For us Christians, we know that these prophesies revealed that the Father was soon going to give the world his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. This would be Christ’s First coming. So, we are preparing for the celebration of Christ’s First Coming (Christmas) in the Advent Season. But, we are also being prepared for his Second Coming at the end of time.

As a church community, we will be changing our liturgical environments via color and a wreath, omitting the Gloria, adapting our music, and hosting reconciliation services. In addition, please see the Advent/Christmas Calendar that is part of our bulletin this week as well. I pray that this Advent will be one of conversion and joy for us all.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

The End is Near!

The End is Near!

Dear Parishioners,

The end is near! Not likely the end of the world, rather the end of the Liturgical Year. I hope the title of this letter didn’t alarm you, but simply drew your attention.

For those of you who may not know, our liturgical year always ends with the Solemnity of Christ the King and begins with Advent. The Solemnity of Christ the King is an appropriate way to remind us of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It caps off our liturgical year with a recognition that God is in control and he has power and dominion over all creation. As such, it is rightful that we give him our praise, worship, and obedience. Knowing that each of us will someday come to our earthly end in this life, we can turn to the One who has power to save us from eternal death and give us eternal life.

Each Advent begins one of the three Sunday Lectionary cycles. There are three Lectionary Sunday cycles, A, B, and C, which are built around the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke respectively. This is a marvelous addition to the Liturgy as a result of the Second Vatican Council whereby we can hear more of the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass than ever before. “Formerly, Catholics heard 1% of the Old Testament and 17% of the New Testament. Now they hear 14% of the Old Testament and 71% of the New Testament” (At the Supper of the Lamb: A Pastoral and Theological Commentary on the Mass. Paul Tuner. LTP. 2011. p. 26.). This year, we will be in Sunday Cycle C. So, that means we will hear much from the Gospel of Luke during this liturgical cycle.

May the coming end of this liturgical year and beginning of a new one assist you in your walk with Jesus knowing that he will come again with power and might to bring his faithful to himself. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger

Pastor

Advent:  A Season of the Paschal Mystery Honor our Past- Building Our Future, Pt. 5

Advent: A Season of the Paschal Mystery Honor our Past- Building Our Future, Pt. 5

Dear Parishioners,

Advent is upon us!  O Come!  O Come Emmanuel!  In this season, we are to be preparingfor the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord (his first coming) as well as looking head with hope to when he will come again (his second coming). It is a time to reconcile with God and our neighbor when sin and a cold heart may keep us apart.  It is a time to be people of light amidst the darkness. 

This is very likely our last Advent in our current church.  With that comes a sense of sadness as well as hope. We may be sad, as we cling to the memories that are framed by the walls of this sacred space. It may be joyful as we look to a new beginning with a foundation being prepared for the future. We honor all those experiences and people who have dawned our doors.  As we gaze about our church, we are reminded of how it has changed so many times in the past. This is a perfect season to prepare our heart for something new, something that builds on the memories and guides us towards our future. With the process of a new church building moving forward, we must hold close to our hearts the Paschal Mystery (the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus). 

The thought of change causes pain and suffering for most of us. But, as Catholic Christians, we know that suffering can be redemptive if we join it to the sufferings of our Lord.  We do best not to avoid our suffering, but to go head-long into them.  By doing so, a part of us dies—possibly our selfishness or pride, possibly our neediness or sinfulness.  Whatever dies in us, we know that through death, new life—resurrection—comes forth.  Advent is a time to allow our old sinful ways to die so that we may live anew. 

So, let us walk as people of the light amidst a darkened world.  Stare down your fears and sufferings and let go of whatever is keeping you shackled in your heart.  Let us enjoy this final Advent knowing that something new is coming, something that will also give Glory to God.  May we let the light of Christ shine even more brightly in our hearts so that his first coming will propel us to fearlessly head towards his second coming. O Come!  O Come Emmanuel!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Advent Distractions


Dear Parishioners,

Blessed Advent! I hope that this year, Advent will be a time of renewal in faith. Even as we have now closed the Year of Faith, I am impressed with the need to continue the call to deepen our own Catholic Faith within our own church communities and beyond. There are many things that can become obstacles to living our faith, some of which I would like to address here.

Commercialism
Advent and Christmastime have been overrun with a commercialism that can really distract us from what it is all about. On may way back from a visit to the hospital, I was delighted to see the Knights of Columbus billboard which read, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Amen to that! It is not that we can’t enjoy some of the secular festivities that also surround us at this time, but the Incarnation of Christ is truly the reason for this season. During this time, the college football bowl season begins. There is nothing wrong with enjoying such entertainment. We simply need to make sure that it doesn’t become our focus or a distraction from our Christian preparation that is Advent. Personally, I enjoy watching football, but must be clear that it is just a game and not let the outcome of such events determine my mood. In fact, the best part of these games are when displays of faith are made and good sportsmanship is present. Yes, I hope for the Beavers, the Ducks, and other favorite teams, but let us set about being Christians first, especially when with our friends enjoying these forms of entertainment.

Skepticism
Often during this season as well as around Lent and Easter, various TV programs air which presuppose doubt about the things of the faith. Just this past week, Pope Francis called for the public display of the bones of St Peter to be made available for the first time ever. Initial digs below the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1930’s revealed various human and animal remains. There was some evidence of the presence of St. Peter’s bones, but it was not clear at that time. However, when further archeological research was done in the 1940’s and 50’s, it came to light that some skeletal remains were transferred in the initial dig and were then being re-examined. The studies that followed led Pope Paul VI to declare that they had truly found St. Peter’s earthly remains. This discovery was highlighted in the March 17th, 1950 edition of Life Magazine. This amazing discovery was held with high esteem among many scholars at the time and since then. However, with the recent event of Pope Francis’ exposition of these relics, the reports I saw and heard mostly revolved around their dubious identity. It is amazing how far we have come in our culture to become so skeptical. It just reminds me of how we need to be careful of how the mainstream media reports issues of our Catholic Faith. Personally, I have found their ability to accurately report on the things of the Church to be sketchy at best. So, be ever mindful of this assumption of skepticism that so often permeates our culture surrounding issues of faith, especially during this season.


Religious Misdirection
In the coming days, we have the distinct opportunity to give praise to God for the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary on four different occasions: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 9th this year), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec.12), the granddaddy of them all, Christmas itself, and finally, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God (Jan. 1). A non-Catholic visitor may critique us for giving Mary so much attention and even distraction and misdirection in our faith. So, it is very important that we all understand that while these celebrations bring an opportunity to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary for all the roles she has played in salvation history, she is, ultimately not our focus. Yes, Mary is the pre-eminent member of the Church and model for us all. Prayer to her and her mediating support has brought about miracles. However, she is not an end unto herself, nor is she competitive with Christ. Rather, all these festivals involving our Blessed Mother are meant to focus us on the things that are critical. Mary, herself, does not desire misdirected attention to be given to her, but rather through the celebration of these mysteries, we offer greater praise to God.

In a way of speaking, all Marian feasts are essentially christological feasts, meaning they are ultimately about Jesus Christ. And we all know that all christological reflections draw us to the Father and the mystery of the Trinity. We seek out Christ through the aid of our Blessed Mother Mary, the model of the Church. Sometimes, this is offered as, “To Jesus through Mary.” Mary is the most pure and blessed “pointer,” if you will, to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. So, be fervent in your prayers. When offering a Rosary, we know that Mary desires that we imitate her example of focus on her Son. When participating in these liturgical feasts give praise to God, thank Mary for her “yes” to God’s plans, and give God all the glory. And when someone challenges you about all this focus on Mary, be prepared to give a clear christological reason for Mary’s presence in our prayers.

Reconciliation
Advent, as a preparation time for Christmas, is a perfect time to re- move the obstacles of sin in our lives. This month, we have many opportunities to receive this Sacrament. At St. Patrick of the Forest we will be offering a communal reconciliation service on Monday, the 16th, followed the next day at St. Anne’s on Tuesday, the 17th. Both are at 7 PM. We will continue to offer the Sacrament on Saturdays between 4 PM and 5 PM. We will also offer a special time for those who cannot get out when it is dark on the Wednesday, the 11th, from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. Our sins are the biggest and most dangerous obstacles to faith. I urge you to make a concerted effort to come and celebrate God’s forgiveness in your life. With our hearts cleansed of sin, we will be more open to the awesome power of God in our lives. This can be the most dramatic form of preparation you can do next to Mass itself.

Finally, know that I hold you all in my prayers during this time of Advent. I pray that these feasts will help you to prepare your hearts for the Light of the World. Put up your lights, creche scenes, swags, stockings, Christmas tree, and the like. Make all these things remind you that the darkness has not overcome the light, that Jesus has con- quered sin and death, that Mary is a great advocate in our faith jour- ney, and that Advent is a wonderful time to, once again, make room for God to dwell in our hearts even more than before.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Thanksgiving & Advent


Thanksgiving
Give thanks! Being thankful is a key essence of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. This coming Thursday, our country will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. As such, we will have a special Mass of thanksgiving where I will be asking you to share what you are thankful for. Also at that Mass, I will invite everyone to come forward at the Preparation of the Gifts to donate nonperishable food items and money for our local St. Vincent de Paul. Such a gesture is a wonderful way to show God our thanks and express our desire to help those in need.


Advent
Now is also a time to discern what you will be doing for Advent. How will you prepare yourself for Christmas? Many of us put up lights on our homes. Some decorate the interior of our rooms. We put up manger scenes and even the Christmas tree. But, why do we do these things? We do them to show on the outside what we hope for on the inside. We hope that Christ will be born-again in our hearts. We hope that the darkness that can sometimes pervade our hearts and minds will be removed by the light of Christ. The Church has given us Advent in order to simply look at these things and prepare to celebrate the most amazing event in history, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.


Reconciliation
Finally, a way to give thanks and prepare our hearts is via the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We will be hosting the communal reconciliation services at St. Patrick of the Forest on Monday, Dec. 16th at 7 PM and then again at St. Anne’s on Tuesday, Dec. 17th at 7 PM. I expect many priests to come to our Advent service, so there will be many options for all. Please mark your calendars now. Prepare for Christmas by preparing for Advent, the advent of Jesus Christ in your heart.


Blessings,


Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the third Sunday in Advent as well as a feast of Mary that dates back before all other major apparitions of her (ex. Lourdes and Fatima). She is the mother and patroness of all the Americas: South and North America. She is the patroness of the unborn. She is our advocate and protector. She is our mother and helper on our life’s
journey.

In 1531, a newly converted Christian, a man we call today Juan Diego, was on his way to Mass when he was visited by an apparition of a girl who was no more than 14. She was dressed in the indigenous clothing of the Aztecs and identified herself as “the perpetual and perfect Virgin Mary, holy mother of the True God through whom e
verything lives, the Creator and
Master of Heaven and Earth.”
Among many things she told Juan, she asked Juan to go and tell his bishop to build a temple on sight of her appearance. As proof, he was asked to climb a hill whereby he would collect a bunch of roses (which were out of season) and show them to his bishop, Juan de Zumarraga. Juan did as she asked and upon unwrapping his tilma or cloak, he revealed an image of Mary as she appeared to Juan. The religious authorities were astounded and were convinced. Today, Juan Diego’s tilma still miraculously exists and is placed behind the altar in the Basilica of Guadalupe. The image has withstood the test of time beyond expectation and explanation.
This event galvanized the two warring peoples, the Spaniards and Aztecs, and brought them together under one Catholic faith with an intense devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe is the sign of the nation of Mexico, but she has also become a sign of unity for us all. Today, she brings both our Anglo and Hispanic cultures together under one faith at Mass, echoing the call in John 17, where Jesus prays that we all be one.

Do we dare listen to such a challenge? Do we dare come together under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe? And the answer is yes! It is God’s desire and it should be ours too. That means that we are to make efforts to come together and try to talk with each other. It means sharing liturgies and languages. I means sharing spaces and hearts. It means celebrating the Eucharist together. I am so proud of our parish that has embraced both cultures and languages. We will continue to have English and Spanish Masses, but there have been times when we have come together and celebrate as one. Let that be your prayer today. Pray for patience and conversion of heart. Pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe that she will always keep us in her vision and pray to our Savior for us.

Thanks be to God for all He has done. Praise be to God for the miracle of the image of Our Lady. She is our symbol of unity. May she never forget us. May she keep us in her prayers. Finally, I invite you to come again to Church this Sunday (Dec. 12) at 5:30 PM for a bilingual Mass in her honor. Celebrate Mary and all she has done for the Church.
Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor