December 18th – IV Sunday of Advent

My Dear Friends,

Jesus is coming! In one week, we’ll be gathering to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. The question is, are you ready?

As I mentioned a month ago, we have been blessed this year to celebrate the full four weeks of Advent, but now that we’re getting towards the end, Christmas seems to be creeping up on us. So many details left undone, gifts left unwrapped, cards left unmailed. While all of that is well and good, what are we doing to prepare our hearts? This last week is crucial for our spiritual preparation for Christmas.

Today the Church presents us with the figure of St. Joseph. He had plans and dreams for his new bride, but all of that gave way to God’s plan. All of us probably have big plans for next week, but is Jesus included in them? St. Joseph lived his entire life placing Jesus and our Blessed Mother first. His dreams took a backseat to God’s will for his life. At the end of today’s gospel, we hear that Joseph wasted no time in preparing for Jesus: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home (Matthew 1:24).” He welcomed Mary and in turn welcomed Jesus, the Divine Word, into his new family, the Holy Family.

So let us emulate St. Joseph this final week of Advent and prepare properly for Christmas. On Monday, we will have an Advent night of reflection in our church led by our Archdiocesan Vocations Director, Father Matthew Gomez, at 7:30pm. On Wednesday, December 21, at 7:00pm, we will have our Advent Penance Service with Individual Confessions. We will have multiple priests available that night until the last confession is heard. This is the perfect week to have our hearts cleansed in the Sacrament of Penance. Please take the time to do a good Examination of Conscience. Prepare yourself for this sacrament. Invoke the Holy Spirit to make a good confession this week. It will be the greatest Christmas gift you can give yourself and to others!

Finally, some practical advice: don’t sweat the small stuff. We get so stressed as Christmas is approaching over who’s coming over for Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) dinner, whose gifts are ready, travel plans, etc. Put Jesus first. Everything else will take care of itself. Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, no special Christmas Mass schedule is needed. All the Masses will be celebrated at their normal times on Saturday and Sunday (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Obviously, we add the Midnight Mass on Saturday night which at Little Flower is celebrated as the name says…at Midnight! Come early and listen to our choir’s magnificent Christmas prelude. Yes, Christmas is almost here. We are very much in need of a Savior. Spend the week praying about what you need him to save you from. Ask St. Joseph for his intercession as we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child!

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so prompt, so strong, before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart.
Press him in my name and kiss his fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my
dying breath.
St. Joseph, patron of departed souls – pray for me. Amen.

 God bless you all,

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