Within this Second Week of Advent, the Church presents two marvelous opportunities to reflect on the person of Mary, the Blessed Mother, and to recognize that she is truly “The Woman for All Ages.” First, there is our patronal feast day, The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Under this title, she is Patroness of the United States— hence, the name of the national shrine in Washington D.C.. Among the diverse images of Mary in our church, the beautiful statue just above the votive candle rack is that from Lourdes, where Mary declared to St. Bernadette: “I am The Immaculate Conception.”
Because December 8, 2019 is celebrated as the Second Sunday of Advent, this year the Church observes Monday, December 9 as the solemnity. Here at Saint Mary, two Masses will be celebrated— at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. A dessert reception will be held after the 7 p.m. Mass, in the parish hall. As noted in our Advent/Christmas flyer, which was mailed out to our households, Saint Agnes, our neighbor to the East, will offer Mass at 8:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.
The second Marian feast is Our Lady of Guadalupe. Under this title, Mary is the Patroness of the Americas. While the St. Agnes celebration will already have taken place by the time of reading this column (Saturday night, December 7, beginning at 10 p.m.), we will celebrate the feast in the 7 a.m. Mass on the actual day— Thursday, December 12.
There are numerous articles available online, related to the sacred image of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe that appeared on the tilma (a simple cloak) that was worn by Saint Juan Diego, when he took the roses he had collected at the site of the apparition of Our Lady to present to the bishop as a demonstration of the truth of the message the Blessed Mother had given Juan. The image is now visited by pilgrims from around the world who visit the basilica in Mexico City. While there is a range of viewpoint— usually dependent on whether the author is coming from a faith perspective or not—the miraculous nature of the image is fairly irrefutable, even if limited to the fact that it has survived so much time and adverse circumstances.
Once again this year, next weekend, the Third Sunday of Advent, we will observe Bambinelli Sunday, a beautiful tradition that was started by Pope St. John Paul II. Bambinelli is Italian, the plural of bambinello which means "little baby [boy]." Each year, thousands of people come to St. Peter's Square bringing the Baby Jesus figurines from their creches and nativity scenes; then, at the time of the Pope's Angelus address, he blesses all the little figures of the Child Jesus. While Pope Francis will not be in Wooster on that weekend, we will nevertheless extend the blessing over any Christ Child figurines that are brought to church on Saturday evening and on Sunday.
I will close this column by relating a wonderful recent experience in which I was privileged to share. The Faith Formation ministry of St. Mary hosted a “Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (aka potluck) Feast” on Saturday evening, November 23, for our young people currently preparing for Confirmation, and their families. Not only was the meal portion enjoyable, but additionally it was so delightful to see teens enjoying each other’s company and playing various board and card games, engaged to the level of not needing to consult their phone devices every couple of minutes! It was a good lesson for all the adults who were present.
Peace in these days of Advent,
To go directly to the complete December 8 bulletin online, go to: https://www.parishesonline.com/find/st-mary-of-the-immaculate-conception/bulletin/file/December%208th%20Bulletin