Feast of the Holy Family

Posted by on Dec 28, 2016 in Announcements

On December 9th Pope Francis offered his annual blessing of the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. In his remarks he encouraged the faithful to remember today’s migrants when looking at the crèche. He drew a familiar parallel between the experience of a refugee and the birth of Jesus. “In the painful experience of these brothers and sisters, we revisit that experience of the baby Jesus,” said the Holy Father, “who at the time of his birth did not find accommodation and was born in a grotto in Bethlehem and then was brought to Egypt to escape Herod’s threat.” Today many immigrant families live in vulnerable situations. Like the Holy Family, they face rejection and often have to flee dangerous threats. Many of us come into contact with these families who live in the shadows, fearing separation, detention, deportation and limited participation in our communities.  And on this feast we remember that all families are holy in God’s eyes. When we hear of the violence and turmoil that a few have provoked around the world, it is understandable why some seek policies and protective measures to calm such fear. But Pope Francis challenges us never to act solely out of fear. Earlier this year he said, “We must not allow misunderstanding and fear to weaken our resolve . . . we are called to respect the foreigner, the immigrant and the people of different cultures as worthy to be listened to.” And we witnessed Pope Francis live out this message when he brought three refugee families home with him after a visit to Greece. In so doing, he lived out 1 John 3:18, “Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” The Jesuit parish has always been a home to the immigrant and the foreigner.  Many of our churches were built to care for immigrants, and they remain one of the few Jesuit ministries that serve the public on a daily basis. The provincial assistants for Jesuit Spiritual and Parish Ministry, who serve the nine Jesuit provincials in Canada and the U.S., have convened from across North America to respond to the plight of migrants. On this Feast of the Holy Family they are asking parish communities to take Pope Francis’ message to heart and discern how they can best respond to the plight of migrants, remembering that love must be shown in deeds and in words. There is so much good that a parish can do for the most vulnerable in our communities – from sponsoring refugee families to lifting our voices in the public square, calling for greater protections for our brothers and sisters who are suffering. As a family united...

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From the Pastor-December 25, 2016

Posted by on Dec 28, 2016 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Peace of the New Born Savior! We all know well that our celebration of Christmas, as difficult as it may be for some, can bring people together and help us to appreciate the love in our lives that we can often take for granted. During this holy season of giving and receiving God’s love, manifested for us in the birth of Jesus Christ, let us make every effort to take the time to slow down and to enjoy and savor the simple gifts that give real meaning to the season and to our lives: loved ones, community, experiences and, of course, our beautiful faith in Christ Jesus born in our hearts this day. To help us to reflect on these great gifts of God, I offer you these beautiful words of a stirring Christian prayer that you may be inspired to use as a “grace before meals” at your Christmas gatherings this year: A CHRISTMAS GRACE BEFORE MEALS Lord of light, giver of all gifts, we thank you for the many ways you have blessed us this day. We are grateful for each of those who are gathered around this table. We ask you to bless us and our food and to bless those we love who are not with us today. In our gratitude and love, we remember your Son’s humble birth in our hearts and pray for those who are  without enough to eat. We remember Christ’s birth in a lowly stable and pray for those who have no place to live. We remember Jesus’ challenging message of caring and giving and we pray for peace in families and nations throughout the world. We bless you and give you thanks through your Holy Spirit, who brings our hearts to life this Christmas Day and forever. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen. On behalf of the Jesuit Community, the Parish Staff, our devoted committees and councils, volunteers, and liturgical ministers at Old Saint Joseph’s, we pray that the message of Christmas and the gift of Jesus Christ fill your life and your new year with enduring joy, happiness, and peace. We pray too that our gratitude for these gifts will impel us to extend our hands and our hearts in even greater service and care for those most in need within our communities! May the blessing of the Christ Child, born in our hearts this day, be with you and yours! Blessed Christmas! Fr Phil Florio, SJ...

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From the Pastor-December 18, 2016

Posted by on Dec 28, 2016 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, In this fourth and final week of Advent, I draw our attention to what is probably the most beautiful and poignant symbols of this holy season, the crèche or nativity scene. At OSJ we are blessed to have two crèches—one in the sanctuary (on Christmas Eve), and the other in the courtyard. Both are beautiful and treasured religious articles of the parish. The crèche is the most prevailing religious symbol of Christmas. It is central to every Catholic Church and chapel (and hopefully every Catholic home!) and is still, during the holidays, displayed and honored in many public places as well. Our Church incorporates this powerful symbol at the forefront because, as with all of our religious symbols, the crèche help us to better grasp the spiritual reality that it represents—the Incarnation of Our Lord. This great mystery and dogma of our faith is the embodiment of God the Son in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. John 1:14 As we have seen these past few weeks, Advent and Christmas in the Roman calendar are particularly rich in symbols. Today, in anticipation of the great celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas, we look at the history and meaning of the crèche. This beautiful symbol was popularized in 1223 in the Italian hillside village of Assisi by Saint Francis, and later diffused throughout the Catholic world by his Franciscan friars and sisters. The first crèche was “a living nativity scene.” It was made up of living persons representing Our Lady, Saint Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, and even the infant Jesus. Added to this were live barn animals. It was only after St. Francis had visited the holy site where our Lord was born in Bethlehem that he decided to re-create a crèche at Assisi to cultivate adoration of the Holy Child. As this devotion began to spread throughout Europe, churches and chapels replaced the costly “living nativity” with figures made of clay, wax, stone, ceramic and wood. Today this enduring symbol of God’s great love for us deserves our continued reverence and veneration. Please take a moment to visit one of our OSJ crèches and while there offer a prayer and draw inspiration! If you do not already have a nativity scene or crèche in your home, I encourage you to consider getting one. I’d be happy to bless it if you bring it to church! I have a very small crèche that I bought while serving in El Salvador and its ceramic...

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From the Pastor-December 11, 2016

Posted by on Dec 14, 2016 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Today we arrive at the Third Sunday of Advent known as “Gaudete Sunday.” Its name is taken from the entrance antiphon of today’s Mass: Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near. This beautiful antiphon is taken directly from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians chapter 4, verses 4-5. The word “Rejoice” in Latin is Gaudete. A fair question would be, why the great emphasis on our need for rejoicing at this point in Advent? As we have learned, and hopefully appropriated in our spiritual lives, Advent is the season of preparing for the arrival of the Lord Jesus (both his first coming and his second coming), and by the third Sunday of Advent we are most of the way through this holy season. With each lit candle of the Advent wreath, the “light of the world” is growing stronger, the darkness is dispelling, our joy is building, and the King, Jesus Christ, is closer to coming! Consequently, it is appropriate to rejoice at the midpoint of Advent as we see the goal of the season approaching: “Indeed the Lord is near.” You will note that the third candle of the wreath lit today is rose colored (not violet) as are the liturgical vestments of the priest.  On Gaudete Sunday the color for the priest’s chasuble is either violet (which signifies waiting and anticipation) or rose, which is only used twice year and represents great joy. We at OSJ in keeping with time honored tradition (which I have learned is so central at our parish!) use the rose vestments. So today OSJ, “Rejoice: The Lord is near.” As Christmas draws closer let us stay focused on the real meaning of the season and hold fast to what the Church emphasizes. The joy which should be in our hearts is all of what the birth of our Savior means for us and our salvation! The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing near when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom. This alone is reason enough to Rejoice! Blessed Advent, Fr Phil Florio,SJ Pastor...

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From the Pastor-December 4, 2016

Posted by on Dec 14, 2016 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, During this second week of Advent, we look to what has become one of the most familiar symbols of this Holy Season—the Advent Wreath. Although Advent Wreaths are popular among Christians, many are not aware of the actual meaning and symbolism embedded in this ancient tradition. As with all symbols, the more we learn about them, the more we understand and draw inspiration from their rich meaning and significance! The Advent Wreath has been a part of our long-standing Catholic tradition. We see them in our churches, chapels, schools, retreat houses, and homes. However, the actual origins of the wreath remain unclear. Gretchen Filz, in her article called The Advent Wreath Tradition & Meaning, writes “There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic peoples using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring. In Scandinavia during winter, lighted candles were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn ‘the wheel of the earth’ back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth.” During the Middle Ages, Christians adapted the idea (like so many of our customs) and began to use a lighted wreath as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas. The principle is that Christ is the light of the world and that with each passing week, as a candle is lit, the light grows stronger and brighter, like the love of Christ. The scriptures tell us that Jesus is “the Light that came into the world” to dispel the darkness of sin and to radiate the truth and love of God, John 3:19-21. Notably, the wreath is made of evergreen branches which represent eternal life. The wreath itself, like the pagan wheel of old, is a continuous circle and a reminder that God has no beginning and no end. It is also a reminder that our lives are to be rooted in Jesus, our Alpha and Omega “I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord (Rev 1:8). Altogether, the wreath of evergreen depicts the immortality of our souls and the new eternal life promised to us through Christ born at Christmas. Also of interest are the four candles which are lit one at a time on each of the four Sundays representing the four weeks of Advent. An old European tradition maintains that each week represents one thousand years adding up to the 4,000 years that we have waited from Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior. As we see, three of the candles are violet, which is the liturgical color that represents...

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