Bulletin (November 30, 2008)

With this bulletin come special prayers that each of you has a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend. It is a good moment to stop, reflect and pray because gratitude is at the heart of our relationship to God. Sometimes the reasons for gratitude are not so apparent. What I have been praying about is thanksgiving in the face of adversity. Personally I am still reeling from the death of my niece’s husband – Major Robert Lindenau. For our family, the tragedy of Bob’s death has overshadowed everything else. At the same, it has made me more grateful than ever for the gift of my brothers and sister, nephews and nieces – and their spouses and children. Like every family, we have our share of problems and “disfunction,” but the loss of Bob has made me poignantly aware of the blessing that each family member is.

Gratitude in the face of adversity also applies to our parish family. We have certainly been affected by the current economic meltdown. Given our demographics, Holy Family has probably been hit harder than most other parishes. Still, I am grateful for the way people have pulled together in prayer and mutual support. I was afraid that the response to our Stewardship Drive would drop, but just the opposite has happened. We do, however, have a way to go and – in fairness to those who have responded – we will continue to remind and ask those who have not taken a step. Financial Stewardship (your support of the parish in the first collection) makes it possible for Holy Family Parish to achieve its mission of bringing Christ’s love through the sacraments, religious education and service.

Besides your support of the parish in our Sunday collection, I am grateful for the response to a very important project: The Randy Terlicker Endowment Fund. In another part of the bulletin you will see Colleen’s Terlicker’s note of gratitude for those who made possible the November 14 fundraising dinner. At that dinner almost two hundred thousand dollars were pledged for the future of our school and parish. This is truly heartening, especially considering the current economic situation. Besides this long-range endowment, we need immediate tuition assistance for needy families. This weekend we ask your help for our parish school. Once again, Colleen will match your donations, dollar for dollar.

While we pull together to face our parish’s financial challenges, we cannot forget those in our world who have so much less than we do. I am particularly grateful for your contributions to assist the needy in Peru. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I would like to communicate a thank-you note from Sister Maritza Chambilla, the director of the girls’ orphanage in Puno:

“Dear Friends from Holy Family Parish: May our good Lord fill you with his blessings. I want thank you for your donation of $1,848.30 to help our orphanage. This is a great help and it will enable to purchase some solar panels so that the girls will have hot water for showers, washing clothes, etc. May God continue blessing all the families and faithful of Holy Family Parish. Receive fraternal greetings from each one of the Sisters, workers, children and young people at this orphanage. We offer our prayers that you may continue this beautiful sharing.”

The picture shows Sister Martiza pointing to water tank with solar panels below it. This technology is especially effective in Puno since it is only 16 degrees south of the equator and, most days, they can count on sunshine. And speaking of Puno, at our last Parish Council meeting we discussed taking a delegation from Holy Family to visit the orphanage and the Mary Bloom Center. In January we have a meeting to explain more about this and other Stewardship goals of the Council.

A special motive for gratitude this weekend is the beginning of Advent. At the end of the Prayers of the Faithful we will bless the Advent Wreath and light the first candle. It is interesting that although the Advent Wreath has long history, the first modern Advent wreath was made by Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881). Wichern was a German theologian and educator who founded a home for poor children in the city in Hamburg. He designed it because the children kept asking him how many more days before Christmas. The deeper symbolism of the Advent Wreath is the accumulation of light as an expression of the growing anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ - the light of the world. The circular wreath represents God's eternity as it has no beginning or end. The evergreens are a symbol of everlasting life. Three of the candles are violet-colored, and one is rose-colored. The violet candles symbolize faithful expectation, and the rose candle symbolizes joy and hope. These colors mirror the colors of the priest’s vestments used during the Sundays of Advent. In earlier times, the season of Advent had stronger penitential and ascetic aspects, and a relaxation of disciplines was offered on the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin for "rejoice", the first words of the Introit. This turn is reflected in the shift from violet to rose. One violet candle is lit on the first evening of Advent (a Sunday). On successive Sundays, the second violet candle is added, then the rose candle on Gaudete Sunday, and finally, the third violet candle.

As Christmas approaches, you might consider buying a book as gift for a friend or family member. Here are a few suggestions: No One Sees God (The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers) by Michael Novak. Besides responding to recent diatribes from atheists, Novak addresses the question of how we can believe in God in the face of the tragedies, suffering and cruelty of this world. A novel that addresses that question is The Shack by William P. Young. There are indications that in the coming year the media will launch more direct and aggressive attacks on Christian faith. Evidently they already put together a program that recycles all the old assaults on the reliability of the Bible. A good book to have on hand is “Handbook of Christian Apologetics: (Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions) by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli. Finally a great antidote to derision of the Bible is Mother Angelica's Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures, edited by Raymond Arroyo.

Este es el fin de semana de “Thanksgiving.” Es un buen momento para reflexioner y rezar porque la gratitud esta al corazon de nuestra relacion con Dios. En la parte en inglés he mencionado motivos para agradecimiento – y la gratitud que tengo por ustedes. Quisiera agradecerles en forma especial por su respuesta a la Co-Responsabilidad. La respuesta, especialmente de la comunidad hispana, ha aumentado este año – a pesar de la situación economica que nos ha afectado duramente. Es un momento para unirnos y trabajar juntos.

Estoy agradecido que, aun con nuestros propios problemas, hemos podido ayudar a los tienen mucho menos con nosotros. Sor Martiza Chambilla, directora del Ofanato de Puno, nos ha enviado una carta de agradecimiento: “Estimados Amigos de la Parroquia Sagrada Familia. El motivo de esta misiva es para agradacerles por la donación a través del Padre Felipe…Esta donacion de 1848.30 dólares americanos es una ayuda grandiosa y creo una vez mas la Providencia de Dios, este apoyo justamente nos servirá para la compra de una termas solares y garantizará agua caliente para las niñas del orfanato.”

He colocado la carta entera cerca de la entrada de Roxbury. En la parte de inglés hay una foto de la Sor Maritza indicando una terma solar. Aquí hay una foto de ella con unas niñas del orfanato.