January 1, 2023 – Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

My Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! We pray you had a beautiful Christmas last week. Our Masses were overflowing as friends, young and old, came to our beautiful church to pay homage to the Newborn King. I must thank everyone who made Christmas Eve and Christmas Day such a great success starting with those who decorated our church to make it look so beautiful to our amazing choir(s) and all the liturgical ministers who helped on such a busy weekend.  Your priests are naturally tired but overjoyed from seeing so many people.  On behalf of all the priests who serve here, we also want to thank all the parishioners who brought us gifts or food to the rectory over the last two weeks.  We cannot thank you enough for your generosity.  And as your pastor, I want to thank all of you who made such generous Christmas offerings last week.  Everyone calls this the season of giving, but as Father Uko rightly pointed out during a dinner last week, generosity is at the heart of being a Catholic. So, thank you! 

As we continue the Christmas season, today we gather to celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  How appropriate that we entrust this new year to our Blessed Mother so that she may guide and protect us over the next 12 months. We contemplate the beautiful words of the gospel today, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart (Luke 2:19).”  We do well in following Mary’s example.  We have experienced such beautiful memories this Christmas that we should hold in our hearts to reflect.  Perhaps we had a profound spiritual awakening with the coming of the Lord realizing that God is truly among us. A few days before Christmas, I was commenting to a friend how quiet the parish the night school let out for vacation, and she responded, “It’s how I imagine Mary and Joseph felt anticipating the birth of Jesus.”  And now that Jesus is born?  Mary and Joseph behold the shepherds and angels coming to adore this Child.  What must they have felt in their hearts? 

St. John Paul II offered a beautiful reflection on what the Church celebrates today:  

After presenting [Mary] as the One who offers the Child to the shepherds who sought him anxiously, Luke the Evangelist gives us an image of Mary, at the same time simple and majestic. Mary is the woman of faith, who made room for God in her heart, in her plans, in her body, in her experience as a wife and mother.  

She is the believer who is capable of understanding the unusual event of the Son as the coming of that “fullness of time” (Gal 4: 4), in which God, choosing the simple ways of human life, decided to involve himself personally in the work of salvation.  

Faith leads the Most Holy Virgin to take unknown and unforeseeable paths, while she continues to keep everything in her heart, that is, in the depths of her spirit, to respond with renewed adherence to God and to his plan of love.  

Help us too, O Mary, always to rethink our lives with a spirit of faith. Help us to safeguard places for silence and contemplation in the frenzy of our daily lives. Orient us constantly to the needs of true peace, a gift of the Nativity of Christ. (Homily, January 1, 2001) 

I echo the saintly pope’s words that we make time for silence and contemplation in this New Year.  It has become customary for me to call on all of you as you make resolutions to make a resolution to spend more time in prayer and adoration in our chapel.  This is what Mary and Joseph did in the
quiet of Bethlehem.  They adored this Child, this remarkable gift of love sent to us by our Heavenly Father.  Help us, Oh Blessed Mother of God, help us to adore your Son as you did.  Teach us to be a people of contemplation and protect us and our families in this new year. 

God bless you all,

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