A prayer recited at Compline or the Night Prayer of the Divine Office is:
We fly to your patronage, O Holy Mother of God; Despise not our petitions in our necessities, But deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin
In 1917 an ancient, Egyptian text was discovered using this prayer. This was a surprise as many didn't realize how old the prayer was. Because the prayer uses the term "Mother of God" it was assumed that it could be from just after 431 because that's when the Council of Ephesus declared that Mary was the Mother of God or Theotokos. But scientific tests showed the papyrus dated form no later than the 3rd century. Further research showed that Alexandrian Christians were already calling Mary the Mother of God in the third century.
This is an example of how the people of God experienced Mary and grew from her before the Church officially recognized that dogma. The same was true with calling Mary the Immaculate Conception, which was a widespread practice before the Church officially recognized the term. As a Church we grow through our experiences.
Our parish is blessed with many fine musicians including Karly Jurgensen who often is the accompanist at the 5 p.m. Sunday Masses. Karly will be playing at the Holy Family Shrine on the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. with Mass at 2 p.m.
Sometimes Christmas joy can be found in the least expected
places – in the smallest and most seemingly insignificant things.
One of my favorite Christmas memories was one such gift.
Several years ago, my extended family decided to try
something new on Christmas Eve by letting all the children unwrap a few gifts
early. That was a huge hit with the kids, but the next day something unexpected
After the rest of the presents were handed out on Christmas
Day, the youngest child in the room, my son David, then 3, said: “Mom, do I
have any gifts?”
Apparently he unwrapped whatever presents he had the night
before, but no one noticed he had nothing left for Christmas Day. I thought I
could make up an excuse and postpone him while I drove off to a Walgreen’s (the
only store that might be open) to find a gift. My sister asked what I was doing
and told me to wait, that she might be able to find something.
She ran upstairs and came down with two presents: a dog toy
she had bought for her pet that could pass for a stuffed animal and a Charlie
Brown Christmas tree.
And David was delighted.
We have pictures of him standing next to the small, scraggly
tree. And even after a year or so had gone by, he said the chew toy was one of
his favorite possessions. We’ve never had the heart to tell him that it was
meant for a dog. But later, when we had a puppy who became interested in it, he
generously gave it to her.
Christmas, I learned, doesn’t have to be complicated. We set
high expectations and try to make everything perfect. But for my family anyway,
Christmas never turns out perfectly.
And that’s okay.
The best Christmas presents come to us in small packages and
in unexpected ways.
And that includes the ultimate Gift we received more than
2,000 years ago.
by the Year of Faith, Susan Szalewski began writing weekly columns for
us. Although that year is over, we liked them so well that we asked her
to keep writing. Thankfully, she said yes. So watch for these on
Thursdays and see the Year of Faith Blog here.
The digital recorder for our sound system had some trouble. We are delighted to let you know that it is repaired and we were able to record the homilies from last weekend. Click here for last weekend's homilies.