Monday, December 9, 2019

Bulletin Article: December 8

I hope that each of you are having a Blessed Advent season.

I encourage your frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession. Currently our parish offers confessions Wednesday at 6pm, Saturday at 9am, and Sunday at 1:30pm. On Tuesday, December 10, we will also have our Parish Advent Penance Service which will give us a total of 9 priests to hear confessions.

On Saturday, December 14, we will hold a Rorate Caeli Mass at 6:30am. This is a Mass in the Extraordinary Form and is a Votive Mass for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is taken from the first words of the Introit taken from Isiah 45:8, “Rorate Caeli” which in English means “Drop down dew, you Heavens.” This Mass is to offered by candlelight and thus we will not use any lights in the Church other then that of candles.

In Christ,
Fr. Dustin Collins

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Immaculate Conception Homily

On this Second Sunday of Advent we come to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immacualte Conception. This word “immaculate” means “without stain.” Therefore, what we come to celebrate is the reality that our Blessed Mother was conceived without the stain of sin. That she was the pure and spotless vessel prepared by God to bring forth the Savior of the World.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke the angel Gabriel addresses our Blessed Mother with these words: “Hail full of grace.” These words get to the very heart of what is going on in the midst of this feast. Some of other faith traditions would argue that the word used here should be favor and not grace. Neveretheless, we later hear in Luke 1:30: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.” In this passage the word used is clearly “grace” and not “favor.” With this we must consider what it means to state that Mary is “full of grace.”

For Mary to be “full of grace” there is no room in her for the tendency towards sin. For Mary to be “full of grace” there is not even the smallest drop of evil found within her. For Mary to be “full of grace” sets her apart from other saints who were sinners. For Mary to be “full of grace” she had her full attention always placed upon God. Mary is “full of grace” and thus she never fell into the stain of sin.

In our world it seems that many are led to believe that sin is not real and thus something that is impossible for them to commit. Even among Catholics we see people who have nothing to do with the Sacrament of Confession. Of them there are even some who believe they have not sinned. None of us can be the second coming of the Immaculate Conception because we are all sinners who are in need of the mercy of God. Taking the life of another is a serious sin, but there are other sins are serious too. When it pertains to what constitutes a sin it seems that we have set the bar so low that hardly anything constitutes sin.

It is difficult to grasp the reality of sin if we in return have lost our belief in God. Sadly, many have lost sight of God. Sadly, some never fathom their sinfulness in light of God’s merciful love. It is here that Mary shows us the way for her sight was always set upon God. Throughout scripture we are told that “she pondered all these things within her heart.” 

As we continue our expectant journey towards Betheleham during this season of Advent let us set our sight upon Mary who is found to be “full of grace.” Here may we come to be filled with joy, to set our sight upon God, and to say “no” to sin and “yes” to God. Through her intercession we can come to better welcome God into our life and strive for Heaven. The Immaculate Conception proclaims that Mary is “full of grace” in like manner may we learn how to be humble of heart and to allow her motherly care to come upon us to draw us towards Heaven.

2nd Sunday of Advent Year A Homily

One of the most difficult Gospel selections to read or listen to is that of the genealogy of Jesus which is found in the Gospel of Saint Matthew. Despite its difficulty this is an important Gospel for us to understand. It is even the Gospel which is selected to be read at the Christmas Vigil Mass. The geology of Jesus proclaims to us the lineage of Jesus Christ. From its start we hear: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David.” We later hear: “Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon.” We finally hear: “Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.”

Here we are reminded that Jesus is connected to the line of David. As we heard from the Prophet Isaiah: “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”

One traditional practice for many during the Advent season is the Jesse Tree. It is the Jesse Tree which takes figures of the Old as well as New Testament and leads towards the coming of the Messiah. The Jesse Tree helps children as well as parents that they may come to know these important figures who build up to the coming of Christ. As we see from the genealogy of Jesus as well as the Book of Isaiah this begins with the figure of Jesse who is the father of David and leads to the Christ.

In the doorway of the rectory in Oak Ridge stands a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is very striking. If you would look closely you would see that connected to her lip was a root. This added root to her face was symbolic of this root that we heard from in the Book of Isaiah and comes to represent this geneology of the Lord.

This root is symbolic of the coming of the Lord. The Lord will not simply appear in any way, but will come through the royal lineage of King David. The word Advent comes from the Latin word, Adventus, which means in English, coming or arrival. I hope that we can see the great gift that we now prepare to receive into our life. We not prepare only for our Lord’s coming at Christmas, but we also prepare for His second coming at the end of time. As Saint John the Baptist proclaimed in our Gospel: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

This is precisely what we must do in the midst of this sacred season. We must come to realize the great gift for which we now long. A root becomes symbolic of something which is living. We do not want to be cut off from the root for we will be found dead. Let us now look at the roots of our faith and pray upon what may be doing them harm. Where they have been effected by the reality of sin may we see the need to go to the Sacrament of Confession.

With that we will have our Advent Penance Service on Tuesday where a total of 9 priests will be present. Let us not be filled with pride, but instead radiate towards humility through the confession of our sins. If it has been a long time since you have frequented the Sacrament of Confession despair not, but instust yourself to the infinite mercy of God.

Jesus is truly of the lineage of King David may we make straight his paths.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

St. Mary Men Evening is Recollection Sermon IV: Advent our Hope

Advent is a time of fervent hope.

The Advent wreath serves as a reminder of this expectant hope. From the candles of the wreath the darkness is illuminated with light. On December 13 we celebrate the Memorial of Saint Lucy. Saint Lucy is often depicted with a wreath of candles placed upon her head. This wreath would illuminate the darkness as she made her way to visit Christians in the catacombs.

The Memorial of Saint Lucy is important because it gives way to the light for the coming of the Messiah now draws near. This is the great hope for which we now long.

Saint Josemaria Escriva stated: “That disturbance in your spirit, the temptation which envelops you, seems to blindfold the eyes of your soul. You are in darkness. Don't insist on walking by yourself, for, by yourself you will fall.”

These words are very true because we so often attempt to toil about the issues of life all by ourself. If all by ourself we will toil about lost in the darkness. We are in need of a guide who will light the way for us. That guide for which our soul now longs is Christ our Lord.

With that we must make use of the sacraments of the church. We must make use of the sacrament of confession for it purifies us in order that we may see more clearly. We must receive our Blessed Lord in the state of grace for here we come to not only encounter Christ as He is, but allow Him to enter into our life.

In the words of Saint Josemaria Escriva: “Seek union with God and buoy yourself up with hope — that sure virtue! — because Jesus will illuminate the way for you with the light of his mercy, even in the darkest night.”

Truly the Lord is our fervent hope. Let us never be found downcast. When we feel alone and afraid may we remember the Lord who is our hope. In time we will pass through this season of Advent and will come to rejoice with our Savior born in the manger to the Blessed Virgin. May Christ truly become our fervent hope.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Anniversary of Dedication of Church Homily

19 years ago this parish church was dedicated unto God.

This was made possible through the hands of many parishioners who came together to make this offering acceptable. To this day this parish community is blessed by many parishioners who carry on this concern through the offering of their time, talent, and treasure. To each of you I say thank you for your generosity springs forth from the Lord and His invitation to us to come and follow after Him in order that He may make us fishers of men.

And so since that time of that dedication these hallowed walls could tell many stories of sacraments celebrated and souls who have been claimed for God the Father. Within these hallowed walls people have proclaimed the Glory of God and have been drawn together as a community of faith.

As one walks into this Church they are first of all greeted by the Baptismal font which serves as a reminder of our baptism. Through this sacrament we have been welcomed into the life of the church. It was here that we were claimed for Christ Jesus and sent forth to proclaim His Most Holy Name.

From this Sacrament springs forth the other Sacraments of the Church. With that the Eucharist has been received here, confessions have been heard, people have been anointed, confirmation has been received, and weddings have been offered. Very soon we will celebrate the ordination of a new priest in the form of one Zach Griffith, may we remember to pray for him.

With that this is a house of prayer. It is the purpose of this place to elevate our sight upwards towards Heaven and inspire each of us to get there. May each of us continue to band together under the banner of the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist we become one though we are many. Through the Eucharist we put difference aside in order to follow after Christ who unites us. It is the devil who desires to spread lies which bring forth division, but as instructed in Holy Scripture a Kingdom divided among itself will not stand.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, despite the turmoil which may lie ahead this church will continue to stand. Truly the gates of hell will not stand against the church. The church will always prevail. Let us celebrate with great joy this day as we come to proclaim the glory of these hallowed walls and the stories contained here in. When we enter this hallowed temple of God may we always be inspired towards Heaven and towards an encounter with Christ.