This weekend’s Second Sunday of Advent’s first reading comes from the Book of the prophet Isaiah who summons us to “prepare the way for the Lord.” St. John the Baptist echoes these words in our Gospel reading. God comes to us and desires to give us every blessing from the heavens—his very self, his gift of love and eternal life. How do we prepare for Jesus? What are the things in our life that are in the way from welcoming him? Perhaps a way to think of this is a plane needing a runway to land. If our hearts are that runway and Jesus is the plane, what are the things in our life that are in the way of Jesus being able to come to us?
Recently, a friend of mine was reading the journals of a great aunt of hers who was a religious sister that passed away a few years ago. My friend passed on to me a reflection that her aunt wrote about Advent, and I would like to share it with you. “Lord, tell me what you desire of me during this time in my life. I want to do what is most pleasing to you. This will be my theme during Advent. A simple rule: live simply, serve generously, care deeply, speak kindly.”
On the third Sunday of Advent, I am looking forward to going to St. Boniface Parish in Vincent. They have a beautiful custom of the children of their parish creating a beautiful nativity scene. Stop by if you get a chance.
On Tuesday, Dec. 8 is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. “You are all beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you” (Song of Songs 4:7). The Church applies this biblical text to the Virgin Mother of God. We rejoice in knowing that God has chosen a woman, our Blessed Mother, to be conceived without sin to give birth to the one who is sinless but saves us from our sins.
On December 12, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness of the Americas. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe always amazes me. When Our Lady appeared to Blessed Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531, she told him, “Do you not know that I am here, your Mother.” After this visitation, more than eight million people converted to the Catholic faith. We especially rejoice with our growing number of Hispanics in our diocese on this day.
This past week I received the following from Ascension Via Christi Hospital: “Health systems across the country will be receiving the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines within the next couple of weeks. You should know that neither the Pfizer nor Moderna vaccine, the first to be distributed, entails any use of aborted fetal cell lines. This has been confirmed by multiple scientific groups and Catholic organizations, including The Catholic Health Association of the United States, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and the Charlotte Lozier Institute of Science & Statistics for Life.”
I also had a meeting with the leadership team of Ascension Via Christi this past week. One of the many positives of what is happening is that hospitals from across the state are working together more than ever to help those who are sick. They are sharing their resources, including nurses and staff with places that are in need of help. As the cases of COVID continue to rise and with more and more hospitals full, please continue to do the best you can to keep yourself and others safe. COVID has no boundaries. Most of all, please continue to keep those with COVID in your prayers.
I can’t thank the teachers and staff—and students too—who are doing a remarkable job of doing everything possible to have in session classes at our schools. Thank you! People outside of the diocese are in awe of the ability to have students in the classroom five days a week.
Speaking of schools, our student athletes and coaches recently completed their fall sports season. There was much success around the diocese. Hanover High School was crowned State Champs in 8-Man Division 2 defeating another town in our diocese, St. Francis. Oakley High School was runner-up in Class 1-A. Additionally, many schools in the diocese had great seasons and qualified for the state tournament. In Cross Country, Southeast of Salina won both the boys and girls team titles in class 3A. Multiple individuals from the diocese placed, including Caleb Eilert (2nd) and Jane Letourneau (6th) from St. John’s in Beloit. The Sacred Heart girl’s tennis team won the title in 3-2-1A, with Lily Perrin won the single’s championship and Isabella Matteucci and Katherine Weiss placing second in doubles. Finally, multiple individuals from the diocese qualified for state for girl’s golf.
KSHSAA’s Board of Directors, which is made up of administrators from every league across the state, voted to not allow fans for the next couple of months as they manage through the pandemic. Many schools are streaming their events.
Many people have told me how much they enjoy having Catholic radio in Salina, Hays and surrounding areas. This week, Divine Mercy is having their Fall Care-a-thon to support the costs of having a radio station. Thank you to all of you who generously support Divine Mercy Radio.
Last evening, I went to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Junction City to celebrate their patron saint. I was fascinated to see the parish have a display in their Church of 109 Eucharistic miracles that have happened throughout the centuries. If one of your parishes would ever like to borrow this display, please contact the parish.
This evening, I will be in Victoria to celebrate Mass and be with those who have made a Cursillo retreat. Cursillo means “small course.” Those who make the retreat learn about Jesus with the goal of “making a friend, being a friend, and bring that friend to Christ.” I made a Cursillo retreat 22 years ago.
This year, the #iGiveCatholic campaign did extraordinarily well! 826 donors raised a total of $492,558 for 32 ministries in our diocese. We even had a few organizations rank nationally in the top 100 of dollars raised. In a time when many of our parishes and schools are in need of financial assistance, the faithful of our diocese continue to be extremely generous and kind. Thank you so much for your support.
This morning in the Office of Readings, I read the following which I wanted to pass on to you. I found it helpful to focus on the “one thing necessary.” It’s from St. Anselm. “Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him. Enter your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him; and when you have shut the door, look for him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: I seek your face; your face, Lord I desire.”
Over the past seven weeks, our diocesan staff has taken 30 minutes weekly to watch the Search series on FORMED. I highly, highly recommend it. Perhaps families can watch it during the Christmas holidays. It’s especially made for those who are searching for meaning in their lives. What we discover is that God is searching for us!
May you and your family have a blessed Christmas season! As we near the end of this year, I want to take a moment to thank each of you for all that you do for others. Be it through volunteer work, financial gifts or your prayers, thank you for all that you do. I appreciate your faith and generosity toward your parishes and our diocese.
In Christ’s love and peace,
Inspiration from Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
“Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving others with God’s own love and concern.”
“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you…yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother or sister and offer them your hand.”