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Weekly Bulletin December 17, 2023
by Terrie Evans
On this 3rd Sunday of Advent, we anticipate Christmas on Joy or Gaudete Sunday that is celebrated in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic, the Anglican Communion, Lutheran and other mainline Protestant Churches. It is also called Rejoice Sunday as the rose candle is lit, rose altar cloth and vestments used while we await the joyous event of the Lord’s coming. Pope Francis said in his homily on the Sunday of Joy, Gaudete Sunday in 2014, that we should “Think of all the good things life has given you” and focus on the real meaning of this time of year and forget all the little things that distract us from the true meaning of Advent and Christmas. On this Sunday, we Bless the Baby Jesus’ figurines from our home mangers a tradition that was originated by Pope Paul VI in 1969. The Blessing by Pope Francis will take place in at St. Peters Square in Rome during the Angelus.
In Italy, many cultural festivals will take place leading up to Christmas Day. The winter solstice ritual, Saturnalia will take place from December 17-25, held when the sun is at its lowest. Dating back to Ancient times when people were fearful that the sun would never return, they held ceremonies hoping that the light from the sun would then grow stronger and brighter. The 7-day feast of festivals is also a time spent with loved ones as prayers are said for the protection of winter crops. The Ancient Roman celebration of Saturnalia and the winter solstice traditions continue with some holiday decorations we use within our own homes, the Yule Log, Evergreens and Mistletoe.
On December 21st we honor the feast of St Peter Canisius born in Holland in 1521 who went on to attend the University of Cologne, obtaining his master’s degree at the age of 19. He became entranced by the study of theology and inspired by Blessed Peter Faber (1506-1546) a Jesuit Priest, the 1st Disciple of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Theologian and Co-Founder of the Society of Jesus. St. Peter Canisius joined the Society of Jesuits in 1543 and developed a reputation as a strong supporter of the Catholic Faith at a time of Protestant Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and the British Isles. He practiced a routine he started at an early age of study, reflection, prayer and writing throughout his life. He worked for the restoration of the Catholic Church in Germany while he led the Society of Jesus and became known as the Second Apostle of Germany. His finest work was a Catechism of 211 Questions and Answers that was published in 1555 which went on to 130 editions. St. Peter Canisus wrote Catechism for Middle School age students with a different virtue for each day of the week. For younger children, he wrote a shorter Catechism version with prayers for Morning and Evening and prayers before meals to develop the habit of praying. He died in Switzerland in 1597, was Beatified in Rome by Pope Pius IX in 1864, Canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI with his Major Shrine College of St. Michael in Fribourg, Switzerland. In Jakarta, Indonesia, there is the St. Peter Canisius International Parish for the International Catholic Community residing in Jakarta. Their Parish Community includes the Church of St. Theresia and the Canisius College Chapel with a congregation of 2,500 for Sunday Mass and on feast days the congregation welcomes 3,500 churchgoers for the English Liturgy. A Prayer: “St. Peter Canisius, you saw the good in even the most troublesome of people. You found their talents and used them. Help me to see beyond the behavior of others that may bother me to see the gifts that God has given them. AMEN.”
On December 23rd, we have the feast day of John of Kanty (1390-1473) born in Poland who went on the University at Cracow where after graduation, was given the post of a lecturer in the study of the Bible. He earned his Doctorate in Philosophy and studied Theology for 3 years. When John was ordained a Priest, he was stationed at the Most Holy Sepulcher about 25 miles north of Krakow. He loved the academic life but being a dedicated Priest, he worked for 8 years as a curator of souls at the humble post. He was then recalled as a teacher at the University where he became a Professor of Sacred Scripture. He left an impact on the parishioners he had mentored to for all those years, and they would never forget the man who was a kind, humble, generous Priest who led an austere penitential life. He taught this Philosophy to his students: “Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause.” St. John of Kanty was Beatified in Rome by Pope Clement X in 1676 and Canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XII. He is the Patron of Poland, considered the Benefactor of the Poor and worker of Miracles. The St. John Parish Community located in Buffalo, New York was founded by Polish Immigrants in 1892 and the Christian Community is still dedicated to those early settlers. A Prayer: “Saint John Kanty, though you were a great intellectual, your humility and deep faith, coupled with your genuine love for those whom you ministered to, had a lasting effect upon the people of your community, and upon all of Poland. Please pray for me, that I will learn from your life and imitate your virtues so that I, too, will one day be counted among the Saints. Saint John of Kanty, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You. AMEN.”
Our San Antonio Church Community send condolences to the Franciscan Community on the passing of Fr. Reynolds Garland who passed away on November 30, 2023, at the age of 89. He entered the Franciscan Order in 1952, Professed Simple Vows in 1953, and made his Solemn Profession in 1956. He was Ordained to the Priesthood in 1961 at St. Leonard Church in Centerville, Ohio. His ministry included Fr. Reynolds serving at Roger Bacon High School as an Instructor, Chaplain, and Counselor. He was Treasurer at St. Francis Seraph, Associate Pastor at St. Clement Parish in Cincinnati while ministering as a Child Psychologist with Catholic Charities. In Carville, Louisiana he was a Chaplain at the Hansen’s Disease Center and as Associate Pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary and Holy Rosary/St. Lucy in Houma, Louisiana. He was stationed in Jackson, Kentucky, an Eastern Kentucky town of 2,000 named after former President Andrew Jackson where he served as a Parish Priest at Holy Cross Friary. When returned to Cincinnati, Fr. Reynolds served as a Chaplain at Mercy Community at Winton Woods. In 2023, he celebrated his 70th Anniversary while expressing his deep gratitude to God for his Franciscan Vocation.