December 13th – III Sunday of Advent

My Dear Friends,

As we rapidly approach Christmas, which is less than two weeks away, today we are called to reflect on the virtue of joy on this Gaudete Sunday. The joy that the Lord is near. The joy that Christmas always brings. The joy of our God definitively intervening in our lives to cast out the darkness of sin and bring us closer to his radiant light. 

This is the Christmas joy that the Church wants to share with all her children. Many of you have been asking what plans we have for our Christmas Masses since we are still restricted with COVID protocols. Well, we will have Masses like we do every Christmas except they will not be as crowded as we are used to either because people choose to stay at home or because we are still sitting socially distant in our church. As an aside here, I want to thank all of you for your cooperation in adhering to our protocols since we reopened the church six months ago. We want all of you to feel safe when you come to Mass in our beautiful church. We pray the day will come when the ropes can come down and we can leave our masks at home, but for now, in light of the recent spike in cases, we have been asked by the Archbishop to keep doing what we have been diligently doing since May.

This past weekend, we had our largest attendance for Mass across all our Masses since February! We were overjoyed, and we realized that we needed to finalize our Christmas Mass strategy. As more and more people start to return to church in person, room in the main nave of the church becomes more and more scarce. My advice to parishioners who want to sit inside the church on the main floor: come early! This applies especially for Christmas when we usually get our biggest crowds. The thing is, we do not know how many people will show up, but we are prepared for any eventuality. The 5pm Children’s Mass on Christmas Eve is always one of our largest Masses of the year, but for this Mass, once our church reaches the socially distant capacity of 30%, everyone else will be directed to Comber Hall where Mass will be celebrated in person at 5:15pm there with music. If there is overflow for Midnight Mass, the Mass will be seen on the big screen in Comber Hall and Holy Communion will brought to the faithful gathered. The same applies for the 10:30am Mass on Christmas Day. If there is overflow for the Spanish 12:30p Mass on Christmas Day, Mass will be celebrated in person at 12:45pm. 

I know this is not the Christmas celebrations that we are used to, but as I told a parishioner recently: we are blessed that we can celebrate Mass in person this Christmas, and I ask you to pray for our brothers and sisters in other parts of our country who cannot go to their parish to celebrate this month. May this Gaudete Sunday fill you hearts with joy as we grow closer and closer to the birth of our Savior!

God bless you all,

Fr Manny Signature