Happy New Year!

12-30-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Mary's,

This letter is meant mainly to wish you a Happy and Holy New Year.

It is stunning to recognize that Christmas Day 2020 has already happened. The Church celebrates the Season of Christmas all the way through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (this year – January 10, 2021), but most of us conclude the Season with New Year’s Day. Although this year because of the Pandemic just about nothing was as we wanted, I hope that you and your loved ones shared some moments of laughter and love.

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A Real and Holy Family

12-27-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

Have you noticed as you look at TV, the print media, and also on the social platforms that we always see these absolutely perfect photos and advertisements of stunningly perfect families in perfectly decorated and spotless homes with just the right amount of snow seen through the picture window behind them? We know that we can never have our home and family photographed liked that perfect family. Instead, we are blessed by the invitation from our God to believe and follow Him and that this invitation is to be a family of compassion and understanding, of kindness and forgiveness, not a family of visual perfection.

In our Gospel reading for today we hear the very ordinary story of an ordinary set of new parents who are trying to take their religious responsibilities seriously. They go off to the Temple to fulfill their observance of the holy law of Israel. When they get to the Temple, they bump into Anna and Simeon, both of whom reveal to us an insight into Luke's reason for including this particular story in his Gospel.

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God Is in Charge

12-20-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

Our first scripture passage this weekend tells a most significant story about King David who was the great power in the entire world, at least so he and others thought. He had an impressive military career, which had resulted in a peaceful time for Israel with prosperity for its people. He was at the very pinnacle of success. He had placed the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, the capital city, and now in this passage spoke out loud about how he would like to do something special for God. He decides he needs to build God a worthy temple.

But this is not what God wanted. According to the prophet Nathan, David had gotten his and God's roles confused. God is to care for David in ways greater than David can dream. If we were to count the times, we would learn that God told David that God is the source of strength, triumph, and success. David does not realize that all power comes from God, not a human person such as a mere king. Rather than David building a "house" for God, God will instead give Da-vid a "house," a kingdom that will stand firm forever.

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The Beauty of the Christmas Crib

12-18-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary’s

This past Sunday, the Third Sunday in Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” in Latin and in English it is the command to “Rejoice”. This name is because the Feast of Christmas, the Birth of Jesus Christ is only slightly more than one week away. This year is certainly different for this wonderful celebration for all of us, both religiously and personally. The ways that we cherish and treasure Christmas have to be transformed or suspended for this year. However, the meaning of the Incarnation of God made Flesh still remains for us and can inspire and motivate our lives. The beauty of the Christmas Crib can warm our hearts during these coming days and also provide light for our steps and journey during this coming New Year of 2021.

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Look Closely

12-13-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian Manning

Often when looking at a landscape picture, whether it is in traditional oil or watercolor paint from or now an acrylic or photographic form, we often see a rather pleasant or edifying scene, but when we look much more closely we can discover and recognize all sorts of meaning because of secret symbolic elements in the scene. What you see is often more than what you see if you really observe closely.

The scripture at our Mass on this Third Sunday of Advent also invites us to open our eyes to look much more closely and discover what is really there. Once we have seen what we are asked to discover, it becomes ever so obvious. We may wonder why we did not see it all immediately. We are to see in the vignettes of today's scripture, that although Jesus has come in his incarnation Birth and that He will return again at the end of time, He is also here among us now in the lives of people round about us.

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Christmas Mass Schedule

12-11-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary's,

In this letter I am publishing for the first time our Christmas Eve and Morning Schedule of Services. This year all of us aware that this Christmas and the accompanying holidays are different from the past. In so many ways we will mourn the loss of Christmases past, especially those that we hold closer in our hearts and the one we wish we could have this year. We also know that some folks also mourn a special person who has gone before us. This year all of us are invited by the Child of the Christmas Crib to welcome that special Light which He brings into our world and to share that with others as best as we can. Our celebrations may be different this year, but our faith can be as strong and our hearts can be touched by the beauty of this Season of Light.

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Get Ready

12-06-2020Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian Manning

On this Second Sunday in Advent, the scripture readings at Mass are telling us something very, very important. The message is clear: the soon to be celebrated Feast of Christmas is a celebration that acknowledges that the story of Christ has not come to an end, in that God's love, commitment, and concern for us are no less evident or real than they were over two thousand years ago. The message of the scripture at Mass is very obvious when we read or hear the words and then ponder them. Get ready in the coming weeks for the Birth of Jesus Christ.

we again bear proclaimed in our church in the first reading's powerful words recorded by Isaiah that our mighty and kindly shepherd is coming and we need to ready ourselves for this long-awaited event. As it is directed in this scripture; we must straighten out our crookedness, smooth our rough edges, broaden our narrow-mindedness, and most especially fill in our gaps with grace. Certainly, at that new point, we will be ready to see and receive "the glory of the lord."

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The Season of Advent

12-04-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioner and Friends of Saint Mary’s,

I hope all of you and your loved ones had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. This year is a different year and so we must all make the best of what we have before us. Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Certainly this year we can understand how much we must be grateful for in our lives. The Pandemic has made us think, feel, see, perceive and reflect upon life in many different ways.

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