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Repent and rejoice! Who would've thunk? Synonyms? Joy and repentance? Yet that is the "Good News" our faith
offers you and your family this early in the "new year" of Grace. One of the major figures of Advent - literally the
coming of Jesus of Nazareth - is his cousin, John the Baptizer.
His hard-hitting message - already half-way through these precious short days of preparation for a rebirth of Christ,
in ourselves, our loved ones and the world, breaks four-hundred years of silence among the prophets sent, then, to
the Chosen People of Israel. The poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins surely read this weekend's Gospel when he penned
his lasting words, "I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am." We are a forgiven people called to be
forgiving. Christmas is the beginning of the Redemption - of the whole world.
Our extraordinarily beautiful new Pope told us recently to read "The Joy of the Gospel." I hope you do! In folksy
but frank terms he wonders with you and me about many things including the simple act of contrition. At a point
worth your reading, he observes that WE turned our confessionals into "torture chambers (I know, you’re saying
the Latin must have been mistranslated)," and who'd want to go there.
But, then, as only a true teacher ever dares, he tells the world that he goes to confession every two weeks!
As your pastor, I hope that Francis can inspire you to repentance twice a year, then twice that and... All I can assure
you is that whomever is your confessor - at Our Lady of Hope, Our Lady of Assumption or Our Lady of Victory -
will be compassionate, understanding, sympathetic and ready to rejoice with you, and members of your family. You
will be loved into a new beginning, into a second chance.
Our secular culture has all but written us off; Christmas carols have been playing since late October; yet, Verizon,
among other corporate elites panders: "Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays," but let us not be
led into temptation. Bring your family to confession - and on the way home, sing the final verse of one of the best
of our hymns, "Then let us all with one accord sing praise to our Lord, that hath made heaven and earth of nought,
and with his blood mankind has bought. Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, born is the King of Israel!" Enjoy Advent, Christ