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I N T E N T I O N S
Welcome to the Year of Grace 2015. Each liturgical year we recall the events that led to our salvation beginning with the Advent of our God. Yet oddly as we celebrate Christmas the only one not to get a gift is the child born in straw poverty. But then again that is how Jesus works: he turns the world's values upside down. Still we can give the newborn Savior our gratitude for condescending, becoming one of us and changing all of us. So this Advent I propose that we have an Advent of Gratitude. Why not all together come up with 10,000 reasons to be grateful.
This is how it works: take an Advent Calendar (at the Church exits or download one from our website; the same website where you take the ME25 Survey!) and for each of the 25 days of Advent write three things you are grateful for. Each day must have three different things listed, no repeats. By Christmas Day you will have 75 reasons to be grateful and whatever gifts you receive will be icing on the cake! Plus on Christmas when we come together to celebrate the Birth of our Lord, together we really will have 10,000 reasons for our hearts to sing.
This is a lot harder than it looks. The first week may be easy but by the end of the second week you will really have to get focused on those smaller things that we too often overlook. In other words you have to reach down deep (things like self-cleaning ovens, toenail clippers, AC repairmen, antacids, a balanced checkbook). Some might say my life is really tragic and difficult right now, no way can I come up with 75 different blessings in my life at this point. Then it is all the more important for you to do this spiritual exercise. If you do, the perspective on you life, no matter how dark, will turn from seeing the glass half empty to half full. That shift in perspective can often open up your eyes to see solutions you had overlooked or not even noticed. You will certainly notice the presence of God in your life in new and dramatic ways.
Just one word of advice: try to do this each day faithfully. If you wait and try to do a few days at a time it will become really challenging. All in all you will be amazed at how blest your life really is!
In the meantime DID YOU REMEMBER TO TAKE THE ME25 SURVEY? Just go to our website: olmctempe.com, click on the SURVEY banner and enter the access code: D0E2CA6 (please note the 0 is actually a ZERO not the letter O). You can even enter the ME25 Survey as a reason to be grateful on your Advent Calendar!
Also during Advent join us for a wonderful evening of Song and Prayer with the legendary Tom Booth and his brand new CD "Time Stands Still" on Wednesday Evening December 17th. This is not to be missed!
Don't forget that December 8 is the Holy Day of Obligation of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This year it is on a Monday but still a holy day of obligation. (And no the Sunday Evening Mass does not count for both Sunday Mass and the Holy Day Mass!)
And do some of your Christmas shopping at OLMC. Our music ministry has just recorded a new, world class CD of some of the great songs we sing here at Mt. Carmel and featuring Tom Booth and Ike Ndolo. These CD's are a great way to evangelize and sing the praises of your Parish. Also on sale will be my very own Pasta Sauce! Yes it is a family recipe, two versions: Fr. John's Divine Tomato & Basil Sauce and Arriabiata (Spicy) Sauce (for the devil in you) all organic and all homemade at my family's factory! Mangia! (All proceeds go to scholarships for our school). I know after you taste my Pasta Sauce you will want to write it down everyday on your gratitude list!
Finally don't forget your Parish and our School in your year-end giving. The real measure of how successful a year you had is measured in how much you gave!
The Advent season is quick and intense. So use your Advent Calendar to brace yourself and keep focus on the real reason for the season.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Love, Fr. John B.
P.S. Don't forget to take the ME25 Survey!
>>> Want to re-read one of Fr. John's past letters?
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