December 6, 2020

Seventy-nine years ago tomorrow (December 7, 1941) a little before 8:00am 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 8:00am. President Franklin Roosevelt called it, “…a date which will live infamy…” Over 2400 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 on a visit to Nairobi, Kenya. 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 unrest in nations, cities and families. We live in a time of uncertainty trying to find ways to avoid the pandemic affecting our entire planet. We continue to pray and hope that medical and scientific personnel will be able to provide for all of us protection against this deadly virus. We pray and thank God for the dedication and wiliness 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.

Though we cannot have gatherings at St. Peter's except for Masses and confessions we are offering a number of opportunities during Advent to celebrate this holy season and learn more about our faith. The annual Friars and Friends Christmas Concert will be "Live Streamed" on You Tube this year on Thursday, December 10 from 5:00-6:00pm. We hope you will join us virtually as we share this special holiday music and reflection celebration.

We will offer these Advent reflections via You Tube or Zoom before Christmas. Presenters will be: Advent Week One: Fr. Robert Hutmacher, OFM "Mary in Advent Through Scripture and Art"

Advent Week Two: Fr. Johnpaul Cafiero, OFM "The Real Christmas Story: the Unveiling Truth within the Infancy Narratives"

Advent Week Three: Fr Ed Shea, OFM, "Where Are Your? What Are you Looking For?: Biblical Reflections on the Mystery of Advent"

Advent Week Four: Fr. Derran Combs, OFM "From Virus to Virtue: Finding Hope and Joy at Christmastime"

Fr. Robert Karris, OFM is also offering four sessions on "An Introduction to Mark's Gospel: Sunday Readings in 2020-2021 (Cycle B)." You can access his insightful presentations by going to St. Peter's YouTube channel. You will find more information elsewhere in this weekend's bulletin.

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 this weekend's bulletin 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 12-13. 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."

Due to Covid-19 restrictions we are not able to use collection baskets during Mass. If you wish to donate to the Religious Fund there will be two designated collection boxes at the back of church next weekend that you may use for your donation. On behalf of the many retired women religious sisters and retired religious priests and brothers I thank you for your generous assistance.

This Tuesday, December 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of our country. We will celebrate the feast with Masses at 11:40am and 1:15pm. This coming Saturday, December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and Respect Life. We will celebrate this feast with a special Mass on Saturday, December 12 at 12noon.

As with all Masses celebrated in churches at this time, you are asked to call and reserve a place in church before coming to church. All churches are required to have seating spaces designated with social distance and are capacity limited for the number of people who may attend Mass. Even though St. Peter's Church is a large space we can only admit 25% of our capacity of people for Masses. Please remember that even with the holiday season Masses we can only allow a certain number of people in to church in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. So remember to tell your friends who might be planning on attending Mass during the holidays to plan ahead and reserve a space in whatever church they plan to worship in during the Christmas season.

Fr. Michael