My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: PRAISED BE JESUS CHRIST. NOW AND FOREVER.
With each passing December day the sun races more quickly across the southern sky. Buildings cast longer shadows over the streets of Middletown. Street lights and headlights come on earlier and shut off later. The economy during the past few months vied with early Winter in the race to deepen our darkness. Stocks plummeted, businesses failed, families lost homes and jobs, cities cut back spending on essential programs.
With money tight and the future uncertain, numbers of people increase seeking assistance of charitable organizations. Yet, despite the economic gloom, Christmastime is here! Stores and radio stations now play Christmas music, garlands of lights hang across Main Street, Middletown and choirs practice carols. All Christians joyfully prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth into His and our world.
Devout Christians remember that the first Christmas was not all angels singing. Our Blessed Mother and good St. Joseph had to leave home at the command of an emperor bent on taxation. In Bethlehem, the only shelter was a smelly stable, the only cradle for the Christ Child a manger! Yet that Babe of Bethlehem was a LIGHT shining in the darkness, LIGHT that drew shepherds out on the hillside keeping night-watch over their flocks to His manger bed.
As Christmas 2008 nears, that LIGHT still shines, piercing our darkness with His hope and His Divine Love. This Christmas, let us welcome Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, born into our darkened world. Let us kneel together with the Most Holy Virgin Mary and dear St. Joseph, the humble shepherds and the adoring angels, at Jesus’ manger bed. At the Christmas Creche we pray for our own problems, pray for others who are suffering, and pray for the world so much in need of Jesus Christ, our newborn King! Pray that Christians reach out to others and to one another with understanding and love.
Please join us for the Christmas Masses, here in beautiful and historic St. John Church. As you prepare to come to Church this Christmas, reach out and bring back a “lost sheep” of the flock. Perhaps a relative, a friend, or neighbor who does not regularly assist at Holy Mass. Invite them to come to Christmas Mass with you.
Like other parishes across our nation, St. John Church has suffered these last few months from the financial crisis. Please be most generous in the Christmas Collection. Last year, your generosity to the parish totaled a little over $11,000! Both spiritually and financially, your prayers and gifts have supported us and our ministry here in the “north end” among the poorest members of our city of Middletown.
With gratitude, I will remember you at the altar this Christmas time. On behalf of Deacon John, the Sisters of Mercy on High Street, our School Administration and Staff, may the Newborn Christ Child bless you, your families, and your homes.