On Tuesday, December 8th, we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which is the patronal feast of the Catholic Church in the United States of America. This feast was celebrated in the Eastern church as early as the seventh century. Some theology on this feast day from the Catechism:
Marvels of Mass
This weekend we celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Advent with the Gospel speaking of John the Baptist as he’s proclaiming the coming of Christ – the one whom he is not even worthy to carry his sandals.
Today we begin a new liturgical year and we’re in Cycle B. We hear from the Gospel of Mark almost in its entirety during this year with a few other Gospel writings added in (Mark’s Gospel is rather short in comparison to the others.) One of the main themes of every Advent is presented in the readings today – Be watchful! Be alert! I think we can add to that – Be pre-pared! As we await Christ’s coming as a commemoration of his birth in Bethlehem, we also await his Second Coming at the end of time.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, more commonly referred to as Christ the King. This feast always occurs on the last Sunday of the liturgical year. It’s a fairly new feast day in the liturgical calendar, being instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
We open our Masses this weekend singing “Table of Plenty” (Dan Schutte, ©1992, OCP): “Come to the feast of heaven and earth! Come to the table of plenty! God will provide for all that we need, here at the table of plenty.” This text reminds us of our earthly time of harvest as we move into winter – gathering all of our garden’s produce for a table of plenty, as well as our impending feast at the Heavenly Banquet at the end of time when Christ returns. Remember that we’re ending our liturgical year in another week!
We gather together once again this weekend, to praise God in our community, singing “In the Day of the Lord” (M.D. Ridge, ©1992, OCP): “In the day of the Lord, the sun will shine like the dawn of eternal day. All creation will rise to dance and sing the glory of the Lord.” We praise our God as we look forward to the Second Coming of Christ as we approach the end of our liturgical year.
This Sunday, November 1, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, a feast day to celebrate all of those saints, known and un-known, who have served the Lord and are with Him in Heaven. This feast is one of the older feasts that we celebrate in the Church, dating back to the 5th century. Due to having more martyrs and saints than days in the year, the early Church instituted a common feast for all of them on the Friday following Easter in the Syrian church.
As we continue Matthew’s Gospel, we hear this week of the two greatest Commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We sing this weekend of various aspects of this love that we are called to – from love of God and Christ in our opening hymn; to love of our neighbor in our closing song, which calls us to love and serve the Lord by serving one another.
We gather together this week, singing ‘Gather us in, the lost and forsaken; gather us in, the blind and the lame. Call to us now and we shall awaken, we shall arise at the sound of our name.’ (Gather Us In, M. Haugen, © GIA Publications) We come to worship together, being called by our God as we hear in both our first and second readings. As we continue to read from the Gospel of Matthew, as we near the end of our liturgical year, we hear another lesson from Jesus’ public ministry.
We begin our Mass singing “Gather the People” by Dan Schutte where we encounter the Gospel message for the first time: “Gather the people! Enter the feast! All are invited, the greatest and least. The banquet is ready, now to be shared. Join in the heavenly feast that God has prepared.” (©2004 OCP) You guessed it – the parable of the wedding feast thrown by the king where no one will come. The idea of being invited to share in a banquet and not choosing to partake is related to God’s willingness to call us to His eternal banquet in Heaven and us having the choice to say yes or no.