December 18, 2022

Today the four Advent candles vividly remind us that the Christmas Season will soon be here. Whether we are ready or not, the birthday of our Lord and Savior arrives next weekend.  Please read Cardinal Cupich's Christmas letter in the insert of today's bulletin. As we gather for Christmas Mass, you are invited to join in singing with others our familiar Christmas carols. I encourage you to reflect upon the words of those carols and the important message of hope that they give to us in our time. The carol, Joy to the World speaks of a joy of the heart, a joy that calls us to realize we have been visited by God. “Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven and nature sing.”

As we gather to celebrate Christmas, we especially remember in prayer those who have been impacted by the FLU, RSV and COVID viruses. To those who have been ill, those who have lost loved ones to disease, to the dedicated workers in hospitals, health care facilities, essential workers, first responders, the elderly and all who have been impacted by illness I share with you our prayers and the words of the angel to the shepherds in Luke’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid; for behold, 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 for you who is Christ and Lord.” (Luke 2:10)

A few days before Christmas in the year 1223, St. Francis of Assisi asked his good friend, a man named John, who lived in the Rieti Valley of central Italy to come and visit him. St. Francis said to him, “If you would like us to celebrate this feast day of the Lord in Greccio, then go there ahead of me and prepare what I tell you. I would like to portray the Child born in Bethlehem and to see somehow with my bodily eyes the hardship he underwent because he lacked all a newborn’s needs, the way he was placed in a manger and how he lay on the hay between the ox and donkey.” (cf. Thomas of Celano, First Life) And from that humble request, the tradition of the Nativity scene has, down through time, been reminding us of the birth of Christ.

We come together this Christmas 2022 with our own images of the Nativity scene, whether here in church or in our homes, but united with St. Francis and countless others down the ages who have come to adore Jesus Our Lord and King. In the midst of presents and Santa Claus, bringing our laughter and tears, our frequent or occasional practice of the faith we will come on Christmas to worship together Emmanuel, “God become one with us”.

The Nativity scene reminds us how “Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness…. becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:8) As we gather next weekend to celebrate Christmas 2022, may we all bow down in humble adoration of the Lord of the Universe……Jesus Christ! Below you will find a prayer for blessing of your Christmas Tree and a Christmas Blessing for your home.

I remind you that confessions are scheduled at St. Peters this week Monday-Friday from 10:30 am until 3:00 pm. Please note there are no confessions scheduled for Saturday, December 24. If you plan to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St. Peter's before Christmas, please be sure to mark these days and times in your calendar. Remember Friday, December 23 is the last day we have scheduled for confessions.

PLEASE NOTE: THERE WILL NOT BE ADORATION ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23. Our cleaning and decorating crew will begin preparing the church for Christmas right after the conclusion of the 1:15 pm Mass on Friday. The church will close at 4:30 pm on Friday. REMEMBER ALSO , THAT THE CHURCH IS CLOSED ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 26. Regular hours resume on Tuesday, December 27.

The church is closed on Saturday, December 24 until 3:00 pm when we will open for those attending the Christmas Eve Masses. Christmas Masses are Saturday, December 24 at 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm. On Sunday, December 25 Masses are at 9:00 am and 11:00 am.

Due to the increase in our area of cases of the FLU, COVID and RSV you are encouraged to wear masks at large gatherings of people. We continue to ask that in receiving communion you receive in your hands at this time. We will return to the option of hand to tongue once the danger of these viruses is reduced.

As we prepare to celebrate the Christmas Masses, the beauty of the Church, the music, the liturgy and indeed all the wonderful things about St. Peter's Church this Christmas season is due to the hard work and dedication of many, many people. Thanks to our great parish staff, dedicated volunteers, the Franciscan Friars and so many others we are able to continue to provide a strong presence here in the Loop continuing a presence that was begun over 176 years ago.

As we begin our final week of Advent, we give thanks to everyone who continues to support the church by your donations to St. Peter's Church. Your generosity in these difficult times has continued to enable us to provide ministry here in the Loop. During these days before Christmas, may you find some time for quiet and peace to reflect upon the wonders of this feast.....God has become one with us and offers each of his eternal salvation. May God bless you all!

Fr. Michael

BLESSING OF A CHRISTMAS TREE

Lord our God,

we praise you for the light of creation:

the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.

We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son: he is Emmanuel, God-with-us,

the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love.

Let your blessing come upon us

as we illumine this tree.

May the light and cheer it gives

be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.

may all who delight in this tree

come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

© USCCB, 1989

CHRISTMAS BLESSING OF HOME

(The head of the household leads the prayer)

Lord God of heaven and earth,

you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star.

Bless our home and all who live here.

Fill us with the light of Christ,

that our concern for others may reflect your love.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen

© USCCB, 1989