Christmas is here.

Getting to share the last four weeks of Advent with you has truly been a gift this year. With the pandemic still raging on, trying to make my heart and home ready for our Savior, Jesus was very daunting. However, each week as we reflected on the weeks of advent my heart seemed to open more. Getting to have almost 4 full weeks of Advent this year, we truly experienced the HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE of Advent making way for Christmas. Christmas! The birth of our Savior. The Light of the world. A time to be with family. Celebrating the differences and similarities, the traditions, the generations of family just as we see in the Christmas Eve Mass Gospel. This brings me to family. At our home, putting up the Christmas Tree was always a special time. We would go to our “Grandma’s” woods and cut down an old scrub brush tree. My daddy would trim it with colored lights, some bubble lights, some flickering lights, and those beautiful, frosted lights. Then my mom would start opening boxes of old ornaments and decorations. We would hear stories about almost every ornament. It was a special time.

This year I put up my first Christmas tree in my home as a newlywed. When we were on our honeymoon I kept looking for and purchasing Christmas ornaments at all the places we ventured and visited. I try to find the handmade, local ones not the Made in China versions when possible. At the time my new husband, Andy went along with it and got into helping me look for special ornaments to mark this special time in our lives. I don’t think however he knew how these little mementos would be part of something so grand.

So last weekend we went out, Patrick, Andy, and I in search for “THE TREE.” Let us just say it was an adventure. After numerous tree stands, we found it! As we got it home finally, Patrick, my brother, put the lights on it just like Daddy had done so many years ago. Andy and I bought in the boxes of old ornaments. Then just like my mother I started to open the boxes. The spirit of Christmas just rose from those old boxes. Tears came to my eyes as every Christmas I’ve ever spent opened up in my heart. As I told the stories of how this multi-colored ornament was on my grandparents’ tree, this Moose we got on vacation when we were in Canada when I was 9, these painted bulbs were handmade by nephew and nieces, this Santa was from my Jewish family, I made this noodle ornament in kindergarten, all these handmade ornaments from friends through the years, this Angel came from our beloved neighbors the year Daddy passed away… so many memories. So many special family and friends in the heart of this tree. So many precious times spent with loved ones. This is not just a Christmas tree this IS the story of Christmas. This is the HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE of Christmas that Jesus brought and gave to us on Christmas morning. These are the special times shared with loved ones. There is so much LOVE in this tree. I think the angel of God on the top just floats up there guarding the loved ones and memories for future generations. This beautiful German tradition with all its symbolism radiates the spirit of Christmas. The GIFT of Christmas. So thank you. Thank you everyone who have been participating in these emails, as you all are here with me as I gaze at this glorious tree. You all helped me open my heart, making way for the Lord, to come again. This year even through the sadness, difficulties, and uncertainty we were able to find the spirit of Christmas opening our hearts in Advent. It only shows that the gifts of HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE are here always with us. We are as Christian ALLELUIA people. Merry Christmas my friends. J. Geeting
The Angel Ornament from our neighbors the Welchs' the year Daddy passed away.
The Antique Angel of God guarding and protecting.
Why are there three different Masses on Christmas?

Philip Kosloski - published on 12/24/17 - updated on 12/21/20
The custom is centuries old and highlights different aspects of the Nativity story.
Almost every Christian church has their ever popular Christmas Eve service. It is the service everyone flocks to before coming home to host family and friends for a Christmas Eve party.
In the Roman Catholic Church, however, that is only the beginning. The liturgy provides not only a Mass on Christmas Eve night, but also one at dawn and also during the day, each having different readings and prayers.
Why is that? Isn’t one Mass enough?
Historically this tradition of three different Masses goes back at least to the 6th century. One of the reasons for celebrating these separate Masses was to emphasize different parts of the Nativity story. (Note: a Christmas Eve Mass, celebrated in the early evening hours, was not a widespread practice until recently.)
Angel’s Mass
Various traditions place the birth of Jesus at midnight and so the first Mass celebrated for centuries was at midnight. It is sometimes called the “Angel’s Mass,” recalling the announcement of the angels to the shepherds, proclaiming that Jesus Christ was born.

The Collect (opening prayer) for this Mass highlights the contrast between the darkness of night and the light of Christ.
O God, who have made this most sacred night radiant with the splendor of the true light, grant, we pray, that we, who have known the mysteries of his light on earth, may also delight in his gladness in heaven. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Shepherd’s Mass
Following the Nativity narrative, after the announcement of the angels, the shepherds travel in haste to find the newborn Messiah. This Mass is celebrated at dawn and the readings highlight the shepherd’s role in proclaiming the good news of Christ’s birth.

The Collect again focuses on the light that has come to earth as the sun rises at dawn.
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, as we are bathed in the new radiance of your incarnate Word, the light of faith, which illumines our minds, may also shine through in our deeds. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
King’s Mass
Celebrated during the day, this Christmas Mass rejoices in the coming of Jesus and invites all to worship the King of Kings, looking forward to the coming of the Magi at Epiphany.
The Collect focuses on the profound mystery of the Incarnation.
O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature and still more wonderfully restored it, grant, we pray, that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever
Getting Ready for Christmas!

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Vigil Mass

Isaiah 62:1-5
The Lord delights in his people.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 89:4-5,16-17,27,29
The goodness of the Lord is praised.

Second Reading
Acts of the Apostles 13:16-17,22-25
God chose the people of Israel, and from them he raised up Jesus, the Savior for all people.

Gospel Reading
Matthew 1:1-25 (or the shorter form, Matthew 1:18-25)
After being visited by an angel in a dream, Joseph takes Mary as his wife.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today's liturgy offers the option to read a longer or shorter form of the Gospel. If we read the longer form, we hear Matthew recount the ancestry of Jesus. This genealogy sets Jesus' birth within the context of the history of Israel, highlighting two of Jesus' ancestors—Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people, and David, the most important king of Israel. Jesus' ancestral lineage reinforces a central theme of Matthew's Gospel: Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies made to the people of Israel.
The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus from Joseph's perspective. During his betrothal to Mary, Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant. Betrothal in first-century Jewish culture was more than an engagement period; it was part of the marriage contract. A breach of this contract was considered adultery. If adultery was proved, the punishment might be death. Joseph had rights under Mosaic Law, but he chose to act discreetly in his plans to break the marriage contract so as to protect Mary. The way that Joseph and Mary faced these extraordinary circumstances tells us much about these holy people and their faith in God.
The message the angel gave to Joseph in a dream reveals many important theological details about the child Mary will bear and about the child's role in God's plan. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. His name will be Jesus, which in the Hebrew means “God saves.” He will be the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. He will be Emmanuel, “God with us.” This is the mystery we celebrate at Christmas, the Incarnation. God chose to become a human being in the person of Jesus.
Joseph did as the angel of the Lord directed. He took Mary to be his wife and accepted the child in her womb as his own. When Jesus was born, Joseph followed the directions of the angel and gave the child the name Jesus. We often recall Mary's cooperation in God's plan for our salvation. Today's Gospel reminds us of Joseph's important role, which was also crucial to God's plan for Jesus' birth.

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) Mass at Dawn

Today's Readings First Reading
Isaiah 62:11-12
Say to daughter Zion, your savior comes.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 97:1-6, 11-12
A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.

Second Reading
Titus 3:4-7
He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:15-20
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger.
Background on the Gospel Reading
There are four Masses that are celebrated for the feast of Christmas, and each is given its own set of readings to help us contemplate Christ's birth. The Gospel for the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve is taken from the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, the genealogy of Jesus and the angel's announcement of the birth to Joseph. The Mass at midnight proclaims the birth of Jesus through the angels' announcement to the shepherds in the Gospel of Luke. Luke 2:15-20 is the reading for the mass at dawn on Christmas morning. It continues the story of the birth of Jesus as found in Luke's Gospel with the shepherds' visit to the infant Jesus. Finally, the Gospel for Christmas Mass during the day is taken from the beginning of John's Gospel. It is not an Infancy Narrative like those found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Instead, John's Gospel starts at the very beginning of time and presents Creation as the framework for announcing the Incarnation. John's opening words echo the first verse in the Book of Genesis, “In the beginning was the Word.”
The story of Jesus' birth, which begins with a reference to Caesar Augustus, concludes with the shepherds, people looked down on by most of society, visiting the infant. As the angels return to heaven, the shepherds decide to go see “this thing” that has happened in Bethlehem. Their visit confirms everything the angels had told them about the birth of the Savior and Messiah. They then spoke publicly about all they had seen, to the great astonishment of all who heard. Mary ponders all this in her heart, and the shepherds return to their fields praising God. What had been told to them really happened. This account does not tell us very much about the infant Jesus because Luke's concern is that God's action of sending a savior be publicly proclaimed. As Paul says before King Agrippa in Acts of the Apostles 26:26, “None of this was done in a corner.” The picture is simple, two parents and an infant in a stable. But the reality is great, God's salvation offered to all.

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) Mass During the Day
Friday, December 25, 2020

Today's ReadingsFirst Reading
Isaiah 52:7-10
God's salvation is announced to the world.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 98:1-6
A prayer of praise for God's salvation.

Second Reading
Hebrews 1:1-6
God now speaks to us through his Son.

Gospel Reading
John 1:1-18 (or shorter form, John 1:1-5, 9-14)
John announces that in Jesus, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Background on the Gospel Reading
There are four Masses that are celebrated for the Feast of Christmas and each is given its own set of readings to help us contemplate Christ’s birth. The Gospel for the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve is taken from the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. The Mass at midnight proclaims the birth of Jesus through the Gospel of Luke. The Mass at dawn on Christmas morning continues the story of the birth of Jesus as found in Luke’s Gospel, ending with the shepherds’ visit to the infant Jesus. In each of these Gospel readings, we hear portions of the infancy narratives with which we are familiar.
The Gospel for the Christmas Mass during the day is taken from the beginning of John’s Gospel, but this part of John’s Gospel is not an infancy narrative like those found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Instead, John’s Gospel starts at the very beginning and presents the Creation story as the framework for announcing the Incarnation. John’s opening words echo the first verse in the Book of Genesis. This framework invites us to view Jesus’ birth from God’s perspective. Each of the Gospels makes clear that Jesus’ birth was the result of God’s initiative. John’s Gospel, however, emphasizes that Jesus’ birth was the divine intention from the moment of Creation.
As we observe in today’s reading, the Gospel of John includes highly philosophical and theological language. One example that particularly stands out in this Gospel is John’s repeated references to “the Word” in the opening verse. This expression (logos in the Greek) borrows from a concept found in both Jewish and Greek thought. Jews used this phrase to describe God’s action in the Creation story, for example, and in the Wisdom literature. In Greek thought, the logos was understood as an intermediary between God and humanity. John and others in the early Church adopted this language to describe God’s incarnation in Jesus. As the term was used to express the Trinitarian faith of Christians, the Word came to be equated with the Second Person of the Trinity.
In this prologue to the Gospel of John, we also hear the main themes that will be developed in his Gospel. These are often presented as dualities: light and dark, truth and falsehood, life and death, and belief and unbelief. We also hear in this prologue a unique aspect of John’s Gospel, the theme of testimony. John the Baptist was sent by God to testify to Jesus, the light. Others in this Gospel will also offer testimony about Jesus. The reader is invited to accept this testimony, which bears witnesses to Jesus, the Son of God. But even more directly, Jesus’ action and words will testify to Jesus’ identity as God’s Incarnate Word.
Thinking about Jesus’ birth in these theological and cosmological terms is particularly appropriate as we celebrate the Feast of Christmas in the darkness of winter. At this time, nature itself seems to remind us of the darkness of sin. Into this darkness, in the midst of our sinfulness, God comes to dwell among us. John’s Gospel reminds us that through the Incarnation, God saves us from the darkness of sin and makes us his children.

Saints by our Sides
The Story of the Holy Innocents
Feast Day December 28
Herod “the Great,” king of Judea, was unpopular with his people because of his connections with the Romans and his religious indifference. Hence he was insecure and fearful of any threat to his throne. He was a master politician and a tyrant capable of extreme brutality. He killed his wife, his brother, and his sister’s two husbands, to name only a few.
Matthew 2:1-18 tells this story: Herod was “greatly troubled” when astrologers from the east came asking the whereabouts of “the newborn king of the Jews,” whose star they had seen. They were told that the Jewish Scriptures named Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he could also “do him homage.” They found Jesus, offered him their gifts, and warned by an angel, avoided Herod on their way home. Jesus escaped to Egypt.
Herod became furious and “ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.” The horror of the massacre and the devastation of the mothers and fathers led Matthew to quote Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children…” (Matthew 2:18). Rachel was the wife of Jacob (Israel). She is pictured as weeping at the place where the Israelites were herded together by the conquering Assyrians for their march into captivity.
The Holy Innocents are few in comparison to the genocide and abortion of our day. But even if there had been only one, we recognize the greatest treasure God put on the earth—a human person, destined for eternity, and graced by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Sylvester, Pope in the Age of Christian Liberty
Feast Day December 31
St. Sylvester was the first Pope of Rome to reign entirely under the liberty of the Church, guaranteed by the Edict of Milan in 313. Sylvester - a priest of Rome and the son of one Rufinus, according to the Liber pontificalis - was elected to the See of Peter in 314. During Sylvester’s reign, the city began its transition into its Christian era, with the construction of the great Constantinian basilicas - including the Basilica of St. Peter on the Vatican Hill, which was erected above a temple dedicated to Apollo, to mark the burial place of the first Bishop of Rome. St. Sylvester and Emperor Constantine also collaborated on the the Lateran Basilica and Baptistery, which were built adjacent to the former imperial palace where the Pontiff lived, as well as the (Roman) Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, and the Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls. Sylvester’s memory, however, is most closely tied to the church of St. Martin and Sylvester (known as the titulus Equitii, owing to its building site’s having been donated by a priest, Equitius) which still stands in Rome’s Monti neighborhood.
“Confessor of Faith”
It is uncertain, however, what role Sylvester hade - if any - in the negotiations regarding the Donatists at Arles, or over Arianism at the first Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325. According to some, he did not even have the opportunity to intervene. What is certain is that his faith so moved his contemporaries, that they publicly honored him as “confessor”, i.e. one who, though not suffering martyrdom, lived a life completely given to Christ. Pope St. Sylvester also contributed to the development of the liturgy. It was most probably during his reign that the first Roman Martyrology was composed, and his name is associated with the creation of the ancient Roman school of sacred song.
St. Thomas Becket - Feast Day December 29
Thank you to all who donated to provide the beautiful flowers in the church for Christmas. We truly appreciate all your generosity.

The flowers are in special honor this Christmas for:
William and Kirk Coakley by
Ruth Coakley

Eleanor Deere and Paul Hoffman by Eleanor & Arthur Hoffman

George Dunn by Anne Dunn
The Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas
We all are familiar with the 12 Days of Christmas Carol. Sometimes I find it annoying truth be told. However, learning a bit about the song I now have new respect for the carol and its meaning. First of all did you know the 12 days of Christmas start Christmas Day? The first gift our true love gave to thee is on Christmas and the 12 days end with the arrival of the Epiphany. Here is an article with a little more interesting facts. I really think you will enjoy.
Beginning with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1558, the Roman Catholic Church and any practice of the faith was strictly forbidden.  Some of the various penal laws against Catholicism included the following: The Mass was outlawed. Priests were expelled from the realm, and threatened with the charge of high treason with the punishment of being hung, drawn, and quartered for returning and offering Mass.  Any Catholic harboring a priest in the home or allowing him to offer Mass was subject to the same penalty. Catholic citizens were not allowed to vote, to hold property, to be witnesses in court, or to have weapons. Anyone who did not attend Protestant services was fined and imprisoned for repeated offenses. All Catholic schools were closed and instruction in the faith was forbidden. Anyone appointed to a civil office had to take an oath denouncing the Pope and the belief in transubstantiation, thereby in effect preventing any Catholic from holding such positions. These laws remained in effect until April, 1829 when King George IV reluctantly signed the Emancipation Bill, granting political and religious freedom to Catholics. However, to this day the King or Queen of the United Kingdom cannot be a Roman Catholic.
Please note that these same penal laws were enforced in Virginia until the time of the Revolutionary War. Also, the intensity of enforcement of these laws depended upon the particular reign: for example, during the time of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell (1642-60), the Puritan Parliament even outlawed the celebration of Christmas.
Therefore, the song The Twelve Days of Christmas was written in England using seemingly secular images or symbols to help catechize children in the faith. The “true love” mentioned in each stanza does not refer to an earthly suitor, but to Almighty God. The “me” to whom the gifts are presented refers to any baptized Catholic. The purpose of the repetition is not only for the sake of pedagogy, but also emphasizes God’s continual renewal of His gifts to mankind.
The partridge in a pear tree is Christ. In nature, a mother partridge will feign injury to lure predators away from her defenseless nestlings. In the same way, our Lord protects us, vulnerable human beings, from Satan. The pear tree symbolizes the salvation of mankind, just as the apple tree symbolizes Adam and Eve’s Fall from Grace.
Two turtle doves represent the Old and New Testaments. Also, Jewish couples of modest income offered two turtle doves instead of the customary lamb as a sacrifice to God when they presented their newborn child in the Temple. Interestingly, our Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph offered a sacrifice of two turtle doves for the presentation of our Lord (cf. Luke 2:22-24).
Known for their beauty and rarity, the three French hens signify both the gifts of the Magi (gold, frankincense, and myrrh), and the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
The four calling birds are associated with both the four evangelists and their gospels–  Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and the four major prophets– Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
Five golden rings has a two-fold significance. A ring, or a circle, has no beginning or end but is continuous. Thereby, the ring reminds us of both God’s eternity–  His permanent, faithful, and continuous love for us–  and the circle of faith– God’s love for us, our love for Him, and our love for our neighbors. The number five also signifies the first five books of the Old Testament– the Pentateuch or Torah (the books of law for the Jewish people).
The six geese a-laying represent the six days of creative work recounted in Genesis.
However, in Judaism, seven was a number of perfection. The seven swans a-swimming continues the Genesis theme, reminding us that God’s plan included not just the six days of creating but also the seventh day of rest; we in turn must not forget to make Sunday a holy day by worshiping God at Mass, spending time with our loved ones, and relaxing. Moreover, the seven swans a-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven corporal works of mercy, the seven spiritual works of mercy, and the seven deadly sins.
The eight maids a-milking signifies the eight beatitudes and, at that time in our Church, the eight times during the year prescribed for the faithful to receive Holy Communion.
The nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit and the nine choirs of angels.
The Ten Commandments are represented by the ten lords a-leaping.
Eleven pipers piping are the eleven faithful apostles at the time of the resurrection and ascension. (Remember that Judas, one of the Twelve, betrayed our Lord and committed suicide.)
Finally, the number twelve for the Jewish people represented completion and fullness. Therefore, the twelve drummers drumming are the twelve minor prophets, the twelve precepts of the Apostles Creed (still the structure of the first part of the Catechism), the twelve apostles (particularly the original 11 plus St. Matthias who replaced Judas), and the twelve tribes of Israel.
We should keep in mind the significance of this carol. Actually, I used to find the repetition and lengthiness somewhat irritating until I learned of its historical and religious significance. A good practice would be for parents to teach the carol in light of the history of persecution and the catechesis presented.
Two completely different versions of this Christmas Carol for you to enjoy. Merry Christmas.
A very heartfelt THANK YOU to the dedicated volunteers and staff who decorated the inside of our beautiful church for Christmas. A special thank you to Pat P., Pat H, Rebecca, Tammy, Rose, and Maureen. It is beyond spectacular. Thank you for sharing your time and talents.

Thank you also to The Knights of Columbus for setting up our Outside Crèche. It is hard work and we appreciate your dedication to the our parish. It truly is a moving tribute to our Lord and Savior. Thank you for serving our parish with your time and talents.

Christmas at St. Lucy church is always special.
We appreciate all the commitment of our volunteers to our faith community.
Knights Hard at Work