Fourth Sunday of Advent                                      Page Three PADREGQ#260…. MERRY – HAPPY – BLESSED – PEACEFUL CHRISTMAS…This greeting is from my heart. I am writing this ‘padregq’ on Dec 12, a few days before the first anniversary of the Newton tragedy. I will not see everyone at Christmas. I have the 3:00 Children’s Mass, the most crowded Mass of the year. If you don’t like children, stay away from OL MC at 3:00 Christmas Eve. After that Mass, I go to my sister Ellen’s home in Richmond, IL. We have an early evening Mass which I have celebrated 46 times out of 48 years that I have been a priest. I missed twice. Once, it was 20 below zero and my car was not working too well and the second miss was a few years ago when I had endocarditis. So I will miss all of you who will come to the 5:30 and Midnight. I will be here to greet all the others Christmas morning. I will be celebrating the 10:00….. Every Christmas is special.   There is always much joy and peace, intertwined with sadness. Every year that I have been a priest, I have had a child’s or young person’s funeral right before or right after Chris t- mas. We cannot get through the hard and difficult days unless we understand what Christmas really is. It is not just Jesus’ birthday. It is the continual celebration of the ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’, which we are part of. We must take  our part in this love story that will continue until the end of time. As I look forward to Christmas, I think of all the Advent saints that have been part of our Catholic history and all the special Advent saints that have been part of my life. President Obama used a South African word in a trib- ute to Nelson Mandela: I AM BECAUSE OF YOU. This means that we are connected and each person has a part of who we are and who we are becoming. Advent people have helped each of us know, love and serve God. St Joseph is a good example. Joe had dreamed of a perfect life, with Mary, children and grandchildren. He was in love with Mary and thought he was going to live happily ever after. Little did he know that God had other plans. As I like to say, “if you want God to laugh, tell him your plans.” In a flash, it seemed to be over. Mary was pregnant and he knew this was not his child. The door to all his hopes was slammed in his face. But God opened another door. Joe did not know where it would lead. It was still invisible but, like Mary and all the other Advent saints, he trusted the God of the promise. Instead of his dreams, there was Jesus. Imagine being there as part of this mystery of love, becoming  responsible for Jesus and Mary. As Pope Francis has said, he was their ‘tender protector.’ It was truly more than Joseph could ever had hoped for. None of it would have happened if Joseph had said no to God and refused to take the step into the unknown darkness. All too often, life confounds our hopes and expectations. Doors slam shut without warning. We can’t see what God sees. We can run away, wither and die, or embrace the mystery of love. We can walk into the dark, one step at a time, confident that God is there and we will see what he sees and find the good hidden there. Like Joseph, we will trust God who sent His son to be- come one with us so we could become one with Him – forever. We will make it if we always walk with the Lord Jesus, our Brother. Trust Him. Do not be afraid. MERRY CHRISTMAS. SHALOM            FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT  Today's readings remind us that God has been faithful to the covenant promises he made to this Chosen People, Israel. Christ is the long awaited Emmanuel–God with us!                                                                                                                   December 8, 2013                                                   General Fund                                                  $34,366.28                                                   Build Oper & Maint                                              252.00                                                   Needy                                                                 3,340.42                                                     Retired Religious                                               8,507.07                                                     Immaculate Conception                                     2,811.00                   MASS SCHEDULE Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, Tuesday 3:00 pm  Children's Mass 5:30 pm and Midnight Mass (For Midnight Mass Choir begins  at   11:15 pm) Christmas Day, Dec. 25, Wednesday 8:15 am - 10 am - 12 Noon New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31,   Tuesday   5:30 pm New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, Wednesday      8:15 am - 10 am