December 4, 2022

Eighty-one years ago Tuesday, December 7, 1941, shortly before 8:00 am in Honolulu on the island of Oahu many people were in church praying, waking up at home or spending a quiet Sunday morning. That peace and tranquility was dramatically destroyed in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that began a few moments after 8:00 am. President Franklin Roosevelt called it, “…a date which will live infamy…” Over 2,400 people (whose average age was 23) died that day in the attack. Thousands of others (both military and civilians) lost their lives in the resulting Second World War. As we gather this Sunday to worship, I encourage you to keep all those who have died in war in your prayers. Remember especially, to keep the men and women presently serving in the armed forces, in your prayers.

As we recall the attack on Pearl Harbor, we are also reminded that in many parts of our world today, we continue to be a world engaged in wars and facing the assault of terrorism. Though our world today is not the same as events in World War II, we humans continue to suffer the scourge of war. As we remember Pearl Harbor Day, I offer you these words given by Pope Francis speaking of God’s peace. The Pope said,  “The God whom we seek to serve is a God of peace. His holy Name must never be used to justify hatred and violence. All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies. How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect! May the Almighty touch the hearts of those who engage in this violence, and grant his peace to our families and communities.”

As we journey in this Advent season, I encourage you and your family to find ways to bring peace to our world, to our state, to our neighborhoods, and to our families. We live in difficult times with the on-going war in Ukraine, threats from North Korea, unrest in many nations, cities and families. We live in a time of uncertainty trying to find ways to avoid the pandemic COVID, the flu and other dangerous diseases affecting our entire planet. We continue to pray and hope that medical and scientific personnel will be able to provide for all of us a long-term protection against various illnesses. We pray and thank God for the dedication and willingness of so many people who are working in medical areas. We thank God for those who provide food and necessary items, for first responders and those delivery folks who sometimes, at great risk and sacrifice to their own life, are working to keep all of us safe.

Our annual Christmas Concert will be held this year on Friday, December 9 from 12:15-1:00 pm. We hope you will join us as we share this special holiday music and reflection celebration. Details will be found elsewhere in today's bulletin or on our website.

If you are looking for some books to read during the Advent/Christmas season visit our bookstore/gift shop for some good reading materials. If you are wondering what to read ask Lisa or Steve in the store for some suggestions. The gift shop also has a number of Christmas items that would make excellent gifts for someone you know.

In church this weekend you will find an envelope that you may use to provide a donation to the Religious Retirement Fund. The collection is taken up next weekend, December 10-11. In 1988, the Catholic bishops of the United States launched the Retirement Fund for Religious to address the significant lack of retirement funding for Catholic sisters, brothers, and priests in religious orders. For most of their lives, elder religious worked for little to no pay. There were no 401(k) plans or pensions for them or their religious communities. Religious communities are financially responsible for the support and care of all members. Income, earnings, and expenses are managed separately from the parish and diocesan structures of the Catholic Church. According to the National Religious Retirement Office, only 5 percent of the religious communities providing data to the National Religious Retirement Office are adequately funded for retirement; 40 percent have 25 or fewer members. Many small communities struggle to care for elder members due to a lack of financial resources and personnel.

With rising health-care costs and a lack of retirement savings, hundreds of US religious communities struggle to provide for aging members. The additional challenges brought about by Covid-19 have compounded an already difficult situation. Proceeds from the Retirement Fund for Religious collection offer these communities critical funding to help meet their ongoing eldercare expenses.

In a letter about this collection to parishes in the USA, Sr. Stephanie Still, PBVM (National Religious Retirement Office) wrote, "Recognizing that your own parish and parishioners may also be confronting financial difficulties, I ask simply that you do what you can to help address the needs of senior religious and their communities. In good times and bad, senior Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests have dedicated themselves to service and acts of mercy. Today, they pray for an aching world. Yet years of serving for little or no pay have left their religious communities without enough retirement savings. Your gift to the Retirement Fund for Religious helps provide medications, nursing care, and other necessities."

There will be a second collection after communion at Masses next weekend for the Religious Retirement Fund.  On behalf of the many retired women religious sisters and retired religious priests and brothers I thank you for your generous assistance.

This Thursday, December 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of our country. We will celebrate the feast with a vigil Mass on Wednesday, December 7 at 5:00 pm. Masses on Thursday December 8 are at 7:30 am, 11:40 am and 1:15 pm. Next Monday, December 12, is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and Respect Life. You are encouraged to join us as we celebrate this great feast of Mary. Masses are at 7:30 am, 11:40 am and a festive Mass at 1:15 pm.

The Season of Christmas is a few short weeks away. I encourage you to use the Advent-Christmas reflection insert that is found in church each weekend. On the reverse side of the insert you will find the Advent-Christmas Schedule of services for St. Peter's Church. Please note that the church will be closed on Monday, December 26 and back to regular schedule on Tuesday, December 27. The church will also be closed on Monday, January 2 and back to regular schedule on Tuesday, January 3. Please be sure to note the two days when the church will be closed.

May you have a prayerful week reflecting upon the mysteries we celebrate in this Advent Season. And, may each of us continue to pray and work for peace in our city and world.

Fr. Michael