Resolutions come with the New Year, supposedly, but for us Christians they come any time we repent and resolve (resolution, see?) to do better in the future. This month I have been working to be better at giving thanks, both to God and to people who are good to me.
There is a lot of gratitude to be given now. First I would like to thank everyone who made our Christmas Masses so beautiful. While many folks were working hard just to get themselves and their families to Mass, these people made Mass a priority around which the rest of their Christmas responsibilities had to be arranged. They did it for you as much as for me, and I am grateful.
Not only did the choirs work for weeks under Rob Barbarino to prepare the music that we all love to sing and hear, but also some kids even postponed their presents to serve at the altar, and families rearranged dinner so we could have lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. The latter – along with the ushers who gather your offerings to God – are some of the people who have the biggest impact on how long Mass goes. They all spent a lot of their time to make our sacred time so beautiful!
The rectory staff worked double hard to make sure everything was lined up, and Norma, Dao, Elaine Vining and untold number of helpful hands decorated the church so beautifully. Our Holy Name guys (and friends) got the crèche set up outside so that even passers-by on the boulevard could adore the newborn King. And have you ever noticed -- and appreciated – how clean our church always is? Our cleaners work extra hard before and after Christmas, especially Chief Bottle Washer Mary Konschnik. The counters came in before they even cleaned up their own homes after the Big Day to handle the gifts that you brought to lay before the King.
Mass takes a lot of work; big Masses on big days take lots and lots of work, and lots of people to do it. I am grateful, and thank everyone who brought his or her time, talent, and effort to our worship, and I hope you do too.
But also I want to thank, and direct your thankfulness toward, another effort. In the month leading up to Christmas, we presented to major opportunities to give. I think it was more than just “holiday spirit” at work here among you.
The Giving Tree response this year was awesome as ever. Thanks first to our new Chairman of Social Concerns, Daina Scheider, who led the charge with help from her own Team Scheider, and strong showings too from friends and volunteers, plus emeriti Kelly Hanrahan and Doris Poole. Initial assessment is that it took six vehicles – two of them pickup trucks – to haul all of the gifts to their eager recipients. I thank you for this annual demonstration of your genuine care for people close to home.
Also, when we heard of the horrible typhoon in the Philippines, I quickly announced we would be accepting donations from you to forward as aid, even before I knew whether the Archdiocese would be organizing anything. Your response was immediate and unstinting. So far, we have forwarded a remarkable $6,629.54 to Catholic Relief Services. All of it goes to relief. All of it. I am grateful we have a way we can be sure our efforts result in aid, and I am grateful to all of you for manifesting your care for people far away.
So this weekend that we celebrate the Holy Family, we celebrate also the holiness of our families, where the work of salvation is done first, as the faith and the truth are shared and lived. God bless you for the ways you manifest that faith and that holiness here in our parish, and in the world. Peace to you in the new Year of Grace, and always.