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Rejoice in the Lord

With the First Sunday of Advent we move towards the great feast of our salvation. With Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi, we prepare ourselves for the birth of our Lord. In the Gospel of Luke, Mary is presented as the joyful woman of faith who rejoices in God her Savior. Having seen the mighty works of God wrought in her and in her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, she gives praise to God. During this Advent season let us keep before us the words of our Blessed Mother as our focal point: “My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior” (Luke 1:47). We are invited to join Mary in recognizing the presence of God in our lives and rejoice in God, our Savior.

 

Mary is called “blessed” both by Angel Gabriel and by Elizabeth. The Greek word used for this term is “makarios” which is also the name of a Greek island. The Greeks believed that the island was blessed with every type of natural resource that one did not need to go outside for anything. One could be totally filled and content within the island. In English the word, “blessed” is often translated as “happy.” Mary is content because she confides in the God who intervened in her life so remarkably. She is happy because she knows that for “God nothing is impossible.”

During the Advent and Christmas season we are called upon to meditate on the great things that the Lord has accomplished in the History of Salvation. We give thanks to the Father for sending us His Son Who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. We can rejoice because “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” The birth of Jesus fills us with joy because His birth portends hopeful things for humanity.

From the time we were children all of us identify this period of the year as the joyful season. That is why one of the best-known and most-loved carols is “Joy to the world.” Children are happy because they look forward to the gifts that they will receive. Grown-ups become children as they look forward to gathering with friends and family. As Christians we experience a unique joy when we enter into the spirit of the season participating in Christmas Mass, singing carols and praying around the nativity scene.

I invite all of us to take some time to meditate on the mysteries that we celebrate during this season. While we shop for gifts and decorate our homes, let us not lose sight of the heart of our festivities. Without the Savior, our celebrations will have no meaning. When He came the first time, He did not find a worthy place to be born. This Christmas may we prepare a worthy dwelling for Him in our hearts!

We can prepare such a cozy dwelling for Him through our awareness of God’s gifts and our prayer of thanksgiving. We need to join Mary in her canticle of praise. Each of us must find our personal reasons to give thanks. We need to take the time to identify the numerous ways in which God has blessed us and our families. Only then can we rejoice in God our Savior.

One of the great saints of Early Christianity, St Antony of Egypt, has memorable words for us to meditate upon:

So, brethren, “rejoice in the Lord,” not in the world. That is, rejoice in the truth, not in the wickedness; rejoice in the hope of eternity, not in the fading flower of vanity. That is the way to rejoice. Wherever you are on earth, however long you remain on earth, “the Lord is near, do not be anxious about anything.”

Joy is the mark of the disciple who has tasted the love of God in the birth of Jesus. In Baby Jesus we see the tenderness of God, our Savior. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis points out that we lose our sense of joy because we have been duped by the attractions and allurements of this world. Here are some words from the opening section of that document:

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ. (The Joy of the Gospel, #2)

With Mary, our Mother, let us rejoice in the Lord during this Advent season. We have nothing to fear because the Lord is near. As Paul writes in his letters, “We can do all things in Him Who strengthens us.”

During this Advent, our parish presents many opportunities to prepare ourselves adequately for the coming feast. I encourage you to avail yourselves of these great offerings. In particular we have extra opportunities for confession: Monday, December 11, at 7:30 pm; Saturday, December 16, 2 to 4 pm; Monday and Tuesday (December 18 and 19) 6 to 8 pm.

Please pray for me and for the parish!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Sunday

7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church

Saturday

8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel