In my View, I often reference ‘our parish family’. During this season from Thanksgiving through Christmas I am reminded of some of our ‘family’ traditions.
Again, this year for Thanksgiving, our Saint Casimir Thrift Shop provided complete meals for 182 families (including over 700 adults and children) and the Church of the Resurrection Food Pantry did the same for 99 families, including over 320 individuals.
Our Knights of Columbus at Resurrection Church (9113) continued their Feed the Needy Project that began in 1986, and has continued every year since, to assist families in need at Christmas. Approximately 200 families are included in the special deliveries each year, the Saturday before Christmas. This family number often encompasses between 400 and 500 children. Included in this special delivery is a Christmas morning breakfast and a full dinner for Christmas day. It is our parishioners who volunteer to make deliveries to each home. Additionally, the Knights coordinate with the Cape May County Toys for Tots and the Knights of Columbus Women’s Auxiliary to provide gifts for all the children. Some of our students in our Parish Religious Education Program will assist the Knights in choosing appropriate gifts.
The parishioners of Saint Casimir Church coordinate with Holy Family Parish, Sewell, to support two Giving Trees that provide Christmas gifts for children in our Woodbine community. In addition to a Christmas meal, the Thrift Shop also provides gift certificates that enable families to obtain additional items they may need.
What is most encouraging to me is not only these traditions of service that endure, but in a particular way, to note the traditions of service beginning through our younger parishioners.
In addition to the many food items donated by the almost 400 hundred students and their families in our Parish Religious Education Program to our Thanksgiving food baskets and Christmas meals, our students have also initiated during this season the 1 Million Good Nights Pajama Program to provide pajamas for children in need. They have also collected and donated items to the Philadelphia Chapter of the Cradles to Crayons drive in order that other children less fortunate will have items they need for home (i.e., diapers, bibs, rattles, bottles, bedding . . .) and all types of school supplies. During Advent, our students made sandwiches for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and they are going Christmas caroling to home-bound parishioners. These are just a few of the many examples of service being embraced by the width and breadth of our many parishioners.
And yes, it’s not all service . . . We are again gathering before Christmas all our Confirmation candidates and youth group member for the annual bonfire, Christmas caroling, hot dog eating, gaga ball playing festivities. And hopefully, we will restore skiing (stay tuned).
I am grateful to you for inspiring and encouraging me during these days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While many may bemoan the commercialism associated with Christmas, you don’t have to look farther than our parish family to see that the true spirit of Christmas in alive and well (and in good hands for generations to come).
This week we meet, or rather, are confronted by John the Baptist who looms large on the horizon during Advent. Why John? Isn’t this after the birth of Christ? Why would we read this before Christmas?
John’s ministry was to prepare the way for Christ, which is what we are doing during Advent. You may remember a beautiful story of the baby who leapt for joy…
Well, this baby grew up… now he is this very odd man. He lives in a cave. He eats locusts dipped in honey, he wears a scratchy goat’s hair shirt, and preaches in the middle of nowhere. He was not married (which may explain his eating, dressing, and housing habits).
John the Baptist is the one who shouts “WAKE UP!” He is the last prophet of the Law. The law is anything that shows us that our world is distorted and fallen from what it was created to be.
Why do we need to hear Law? Church Father Chrysostom says, “You don’t know to repent unless you know that you are off the mark.” Kind of similar to how we sometimes aren’t aware we are sick until the doctor explains the test results.
John’s message was: “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand… Prepare the way of the Lord . . . Bear the fruit of repentance . . .”
Few voices today are like John the Baptist’s. Yes, we hear many cries to “repent” but so often they are aimed at the others: If those liberals would just repent . . . If those extreme fundamentalists would repent. . . If those nominal Christians would just repent . . . If those atheistic materialist secularists would just repent . . . If those self-righteous people would just repent . . . If those other people in my family and in my church would repent . . .
But what about us? Have we truly repented if we are still waiting for others to repent?
As John was announcing, there is one coming, Jesus was about to step on the scene in John the Baptist’s day. This weekend in John’s words, we are reminded that this process is not over. For we know, that He will again step on the scene at the end of this age. John the Baptist was helping people realize that they needed a Lamb from God to take away their sin, with its guilt and shame. They needed Jesus.
What about us?
Advent, we anticipate telling anew the story of the message of an angel who proclaims to the awe-struck shepherds: “I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born who is Messiah and Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11). At the same time, as we recall the coming of our Savior as an infant we also prepare ourselves for the day, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit upon his glorious throne and all the nations will be assembled before him.” (Mt. 25:31-32) How these powerful images of the humility and grandeur of our God stand together remind me of the words of Saint Francis de Sales:
Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.
This theme is picked up so beautifully this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah:Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins.. . Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord GOD who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care. Is 40:1-5, 9-11
No matter the messenger, the message is the same, the birth of He who is to save us from our sins. I truly believe that the most genuine and authentic way to approach this foremost feast of our faith is to entrust our sins to our Savior who comes in the power and tenderness of the cross which is foreshadowed in His birth.
On Tuesday, December 9, at 7pm in the Church of the Resurrection we will celebrate a Communal
Penance Service in order to honestly and humbly approach this great feast of God’s love for us.
Church of the Resurrection
200 West Tuckahoe Road
Marmora, NJ 08223
Daily Mass 8:30am, Mon.-Fri.
Sunday 8:00am, 9:30am, 11:00 am, 5:00pm
Wednesday 5:30 pm to 6pm
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament First Friday of every month 9am to 4:30pm with Benediction
Saint Casimir Church
304 Clay Street Woodbine, NJ 08270
Daily Mass 7:30am, Mon.-Fri.
10:30am Communion Service (Hispanic)
Confession - Saturday 5:15pm
(Third weekend in May to Second weekend in September)
Bishop McHugh Regional School 2221 Route 9 South Ocean View (CMCH), NJ 08210
Saturday 4:00pm Sunday 10:00am
Confession - Saturday 3:30pm