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Advent Preparations

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One of my favorite memories as a child was the two days after Thanksgiving. Of course I was off from school, but this was also the time when the Christmas tree went up and lights were put on the house. There are certain ornaments, even to this day, that my mom leaves for me to put on the tree - mainly the Packer ornaments! For many of us, we are going into "Christmas mode". I'm sure decorations are going up and family events are being planned. These are all wonderful things because as Andy Williams sings, "It's the most wonderful time of year!"

Through all these joys, we have to remember that this is the beginning of the Advent season, not the Christmas season. These next four weeks are a time a preparation, not only to welcome guests into our home, but also Jesus himself into our hearts. In the middle of all the busyness, we must recall why we're doing all of this in the first place. Perhaps this year something won't be as perfect as you'd like. Maybe you didn't have time to make that one extra side dish because you took a break to pray. Maybe there's a few decorations that didn't make it up this year because you came to Mass or Reconciliation instead. I promise you that time spent preparing your heart will make you far happier on Christmas morning than any decoration.

Together, as a family, may we prepare our hearts well this Advent, so that we can join the choir of angels on Christmas morning singing, "Glory to God in the highest!"

We Are All Children of God

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Hindsight is always 20/20. As we look back on history, knowing that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, along with 2,000 years of theological study, the Sadducees can seem a little silly. Yet during Jesus time there was a belief about who the Messiah would be and what he would accomplish. This Jesus didn’t look much like the warrior king that would return Israel to its previous glory. From the Sadducees perspective they needed to discredit this impostor as soon as possible. They devised a plan. They came up with a seemingly impossible and absurd scenario. A woman had married, and before she could have a child, her husband died, so she married her brother-in-law as prescribed by the law. This happened to her not once but seven times. If there were a resurrection how absurd would it be to simultaneously be married to seven men?

How does Jesus respond? He says we are all children of God. There is no need for marriage as a type of estate planning. While that was important in this life it has no meaning in heaven. Instead, we are more like angels and will have eternal life with and in God. In fact to God we have never died. Jesus knows of his upcoming death and resurrection and he also knows that we too, by virtue of our baptism, will rise with him to eternal life. This is the good news! This is the kingdom Jesus has come to create, where everyone has come from God and everyone must return to God. A kingdom of love and mercy vs a kingdom of earthly power and exclusion. A kingdom that somehow exists in our world today but in an imperfect way. It is the kingdom that is tangibly present to us in all the sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist. This, is the resurrection we live for, a life with the Holy Trinity, the communion of Saints and the heavenly host for eternity.

Mother of All People

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I remember as a child sitting in church watching people pray the Rosary and being so happy at my First Communion to receive my own beautiful set of prayer beads. I recall the beautiful May Crownings, as well as one of my teachers asking us to create a shrine to Mary in our homes. That idea did not go over too well, having shared a room with my two sisters. Yet, the statues and the pictures of Mary were very formative in my life. My first visit to the Schoenstatt Shrine in Milwaukee, was unforgettable. Mary has a very important part in the life of our Lord. She was the first Tabernacle, carrying our Lord within her. She accompanied her Son throughout his life until his death on the Cross. Jesus declares that Mary became the mother of all people. Her mission is to lead us closer to her son, Jesus. In 2019, we celebrate the 160th anniversary of the apparition to Adele Brise in Champion, WI at Our Lady of Good Help. This is the only approved apparition of Mary in the United States. Yes, my friends, this important place of grace is only two hours from Brookfield.

I recently made a pilgrimage to Holy Hill, to the shrine of Mary, with a trusting heart in her powerful intercession. Both my brothers were diagnosed with cancer. I knelt in complete dependence and humility begging her help on their behalf. Several days later, we received the amazing news that treatment and surgery would remove all cancer cells. How relieved and grateful I was. Consider making a visit to one of her shrines or praying the Rosary. She is the woman, the mother of all people who pleads with her Son for all of us.

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