Dear Friends in Christ:
This weekend we gather to celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, it takes its name from the sign above the head of Jesus on the cross (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). The feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ's royalty over our lives, and over all individuals, families, society, governments, and nations thus becoming an antidote to the secularism of society.
This is not a kingship in the ordinary understanding. Rather Christ is the King of the Universe, a king who came to serve rather than be served, and a king who calls all to follow His example. Rather than executing His opponents, He forgave them; rather than dominating His subjects, He exalted them; rather than calling others His servants, He called them His friends. He died willingly to save His people, and His death was not a battle lost or a plan gone amiss but was a glorious victory planned before the world began. His Kingdom is not of this world!
Don’t let this be just another obscure celebration which we go through every year at this time. Contemplate how Jesus Christ is King of your life…how you are a seed of His kingdom scattered in the world and called to bear fruit…how you are called to a deeper encounter with Jesus our King so that you too can bring others to encounter Him in their own lives. How is Jesus, the King of the Universe, calling you to be His instrument…how is He calling you to bring others into His Kingdom? That deeper encounter…this continual invitation along with all the graces truly needed to live as a member of His Kingdom is what lies at the heart of our Catholic Christian faith. Jesus Christ is King…He is Lord of All…He is meant to become the Lord of our whole lives, and inform the very pattern of our lives. The early Christians, before they were even referred to as Christians, were referred to as the Way; see the Acts of the Apostles chapters 9 and 11. That was because they lived a different way of life. A Way of Life that drew men and women to the ONE whose name they were soon privileged to bear, Jesus the Christ. Do we live in such a way?
A Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your family! This coming Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving Day! Families and friends will gather around tables bursting with good food, sharing stories and memories which are bound to bring some laughs and perhaps some tears at the empty seat where one of our loved ones sat before they passed away. If this is your first Thanksgiving since the loss of a loved one know I am keeping you in my prayers in a special way on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Day has always been a special day for me. I love it. Perhaps it is the food, perhaps it is the gathering of family and friends, perhaps it is the football games on TV, or perhaps it is simply the beauty of setting a day aside each year to reflect on the blessings of God in our lives and to GIVE THANKS.
This past week we asked through our Facebook page and our #beyondthebulletin#beyondthebulletin what is your family’s signature dish for the holidays? So much of what we do centers around food as families at our dinner tables and as a family of faith at the Table of the Lord! As I have shared on past Thanksgivings my early memories of Thanksgiving include the family meal at my paternal grandmother’s home. Grandma loved having the whole family together in her home. We filled every nook and cranny with adults, grandchildren, and friends. It was awesome. Two dishes make my Thanksgiving: my mother’s broccoli bake, and my grandmother’s Lobster Bisque. Oh my mouth is drooling already. Since grandma’s death when I was only in grammar school, my aunts and now my mother continue to make the bisque. Each year when I have that bisque it brings back such memories of Thanksgivings past and loved ones who used to be at the table with us. This year I am looking forward to hosting our annual Thanksgiving meal and to having my parents, my brothers, my sister-in-law, nieces and nephew, Aunt Lynne and Uncle Keith, and maybe a priest friend or two will join us at the table as we make new memories both at the table and around the fireplace.
As we gather at the table I pray you know that you are one of the major blessings in my life for which I will be thanking God at this Thanksgiving. I will thank Him for the privilege I have to serve as your Pastor. I will thank Him for your presence, your faith, your trust in me as your priest, and for your prayers. I will thank Him for the gift of Father Federico who in these early days of his own priesthood strives to share with us his love for the priesthood and his deep love and commitment to Jesus Christ as he works so hard each day to assist me in meeting the needs of those we are fortunate to serve together. I am also grateful to God for the blessings of Sister Patricia, Deacon Paul, Deacon Wilber, Julia Atwood, Donna Yatcko, Marilù Rochefort, and Judy Rowinski, the members of our Pastoral Staff, who work so hard to assist Father Federico and me in proclaiming the Gospel message and ministering to the families of our parishes. At the same time I am grateful to our musicians, office staff, maintenance personnel, and the countless volunteers who serve our parish in so many different capacities, without whom we could not do all that we are doing to be the vibrant presence of the Catholic faith here in Cheshire. I ask God’s blessings upon us all that we may always be found to have a grateful heart, ready and willing to serve the Lord.
We will celebrate a special Mass on Thanksgiving Day for our parish families to come together and give thanks. It will be held in Saint Bridget Church at 9 AM. There is no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to come to Mass and offer thanks and praise to God for all the many blessings He has given us and to pray that He will continue to pour out His blessings upon us. Mass also provides us the opportunity to pray for those in need. We remember those in need of the basic necessities of life, as well as pray for those in need of support and love.
A special word of gratitude to all of you for your generosity to the Cheshire Interfaith Thanksgiving Project…we collected well over 300 boxes of Potatoes and well over 200 cans of Fried Onions. THANK YOU! Thank you also to the many parishioners who gathered at the Food Pantry last Sunday to assist in assembling the bags for the client families. It was so edifying to see our community come together to pray with one another as we worked to assist those in need among us. This really is one of the greatest traditions we have as a Cheshire community. What a testament to our concern and care for our neighbors in need. From the bottom of my heart I thank the parishioners of our parish family who donate so much to this project and to the pantry throughout the year as we strive to serve the Lord Jesus in our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, in their time of need.
In the spirit of giving thanks, I wish to express my profound gratitude to the 434 families who have contributed, as of November 18, 2019, to our Annual Family Commitment. Their generosity of $124,385.00, reflects the generosity of 14.07% of our families. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our parish family.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving with your families, please remember that your parish family is grateful for your participation in the life of our parish and for your support of our parish in so many ways. Each family contributes so much by the gift of their time, their talent, and their treasure to the good of our entire parish family. As we look to address major issues through your generosity to the Annual Family Commitment I remind you that your parish family needs your help! We can meet the needs of our parish family when we all come together and support the parish. Your gift, no matter its size, makes a difference, and 100% of all funds collected will be used here in Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish. We need your help! If you have not given yet please prayerfully consider doing so. We are hoping to address some major roofing projects and we need everyone’s help to do so. Thank you for what you do to make Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish such a phenomenal and vibrant family of faith.
ADVENT WILL BE HERE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT and so will the busyness of the
weeks preceding Christmas. Don’t allow this season, these short weeks of Advent, to simply be a busy time in your lives spending all your time buying and wrapping gifts, decorating your homes, baking Christmas cookies, entertaining and attending Christmas parties. TAKE TIME TO PREPARE FOR JESUS! Our theme as a parish family this year for the weeks of Advent will be Longing for Light? Follow the Star! I pray that each of us, after the weeks of Advent, will be prepared for the coming of Christ.
Here are some suggestions for using this time of Advent to its fullest potential:
1. Stop by Saint Bridget Church during the day to spend some time in quiet prayer with Jesus in the Eucharist.
2. Come to daily Mass once, twice, or more each week. Come on your way to work.
3. Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be freed from the weight of sin.
4. Light an Advent wreath at your home each evening at dinner time.
Use the Little Blue Book…which will be at all the doors of both Churches THIS weekend. These are little blue prayer books which contain short reflections for all the days of Advent based on the daily Gospels of Advent. We hope you will take one and use it throughout this holy season.
Remember it is up to us to make Advent a time of spiritual growth and renewal even in the midst of the busyness these weeks bring. More to come on Advent in next weekend’s bulletin.
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patron, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.