The Branch - December 30, 2018

Dec 27, 2018

Family Time

I hope that everyone had an amazing Christmas Eve/Day and start of the season!  As I am writing this, it is the first night of Christmas (and not a partridge in a pear tree in sight!).  All of the presents have been opened, the food has been eaten (left overs for days!), the family has all gone home, and A Christmas Story marathon has just about run its course on TV.  This is probably the first year that I spent more time with my faith family than I did with my biological family.

I cannot express enough gratitude to those of you who gave me a card, a gift, or stopped to wish me a Merry Christmas.  Some of you even pulled me to the side to introduce me to your families.  I am honored and humbled to be part of your life, just as you are a part of mine. 

Our families are so important to us, are they not?  All one had to do was look at the congregation to see that it is true.  My parents made the hour long drive to be with me on Christmas Eve for Mass and then turn around and drove back home to be with the rest of the family.  It was a great sacrifice on their part and fortunately there were no weather issues to deal with.  Clearly, they were not the only ones who wanted to be with their loved ones at Christmas.

The moment when Fr. Ben asked the congregation to turn to the person on their left and their right and tell them “I Love You” was especially powerful.  My mother told me that a young girl, probably around five years old, was sitting next to her.  She expected the little girl to be uncomfortable telling a total stranger those three words, but when Fr. Ben said go, the little girl looked up at my mother and said, “I love you, Lady.” 

That little girl is the best representation of our parish as a faith family that I have seen so far.  Simple and innocent, she regarded the person next to her as someone that she should love, just as Jesus taught us, and Fr. Ben reminded us.  I wonder how many of us will continue to the greeting during the pre-Mass ritual of turning and greeting those around us so that “we may worship not as strangers, but as a true community of faith.”  Let’s work together to truly be brothers and sisters in our faith family.

We are fast approaching the New Year; I’m sure that people are starting to craft those ever-popular resolutions.  I would like to offer up a suggestion for a simple resolution:  Pray for help from the Holy Spirit to join one of the ministries at Our Lady of the Woods.  Evangelization, lector, Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, sacristan, music, usher, women’s group, greeter, and many others.

Our parish is only as good as we make it.  Together, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can make it better every day.  May God bless you with happiness, health, and prosperity in this new year of our Lord.

God bless,




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