4th Sunday of Advent

 My Dear Friends in Christ, 

Last weekend, we had a joyous celebration on our St. Thomas Aquinas campus! Though we were celebrating the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Fr. Charles Ritter joined us for a bilingual Mass which also honored the Virgin of Guadalupe. The El Corazon de Mexico dance group provided beautiful, ethnic dances which are an important aspect of the Guadalupe liturgy. Many thanks to Olga Tucker, Deacon Jose, and others for their planning and organizing of the occasion. Thanks also to Miguel Saucedo for providing liturgical music as well as Horacio Romero and Kataleena Flores for depicting Juan Diego and the Blessed Virgin. 

This Sunday, we welcome members from the local Filipino community, including many of our parishioners, as they attend the 11:30 am Mass as part of Simbang Gabi and enjoy fellowship afterward. Simbang Gabi: A Filipino-Catholic Tradition literally means ‘Night Mass’. A Novena (nine-day series) of dawn Masses practiced by Catholics in the Philippines in anticipation of Christmas. This Simbang Gabi begins every 16th of December and ends on the 24th (Christmas Eve). The nine-day Masses held in honor of the Virgin Mary represents the nine-month stay at the Infant Jesus in the womb of Our Lady leading up to Christmas. These ethnic traditions and celebrations are an important part of our vibrant, parish life. Whether Eastern European, Hispanic, Filipino, or Indian, these special celebrations add to the uniqueness of our Epiphany of the Lord Parish. As we prepare to celebrate the Christ child who comes into the world for all, let us be thankful for the opportunity to include traditions that honor all the various heritages represented within our community. 

In today’s Gospel, we hear that in fulfillment of the prophecy, Mary is favored, she is raised up by the power of the Holy Spirit and through her openness to the Lord in her life. “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Mary and Joseph were both open and placed all of their trust in the Lord. In our own lives, how are we called to be like Joseph and Mary and to trust in the word of the Lord? 

Please do not forget that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is available to you as a way to help prepare your hearts. This Sunday, December 22, Fr. Melwin and I will be at Sacred Heart Church from 1:30- 3 pm to hear your confessions. This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to receive the sacrament and benefit from God’s countless graces. 

Take advantage of these final days before Christmas and continue to look for signs of the Lord’s presence in your life with peaceful hearts. I am pleased and blessed to be celebrating this season of Advent with you, my faithful parishioners of Epiphany of the Lord Parish, with great love and joy. 

May this season of Advent continue to be filled with God’s grace and peace. 

Fr. Gilbert Mascarenhas SAC