Fr. Steven Voss, our pastor, found himself cringing in the final days of Advent 2014 as he drove by the local mall. “It is absolutely appalling that I still have Christmas shopping to do,” he thought. Fr. Steven’s heart turned to memories of childhood Christmases and memories of his dear, departed mother, who managed to pull it all off. “How is all that possible for a mere mortal?” he asked. What Fr. Steven’s mother did well was not to frenetically aim for perfection in the material details of Christmas, but like Mary, who said “yes” to the Lord in today’s Gospel reading, choose instead to fulfill her vocation. We all can say yes to our true vocation, and open our hearts to the ones we are supposed to love. “Accepting our vocation is always the key to our happiness,” says Fr. Steven, and “it always helps puts us in the right frame of mind.” Fr. Steven’s mother often hummed “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” during Advent. You too, can have a light and blissful Christmas, and every other day of the year, if “you do all things for the love of Christ and share the love that you receive in return from Him with all those you encounter.” Click on the video above or this link to listen to Fr. Steven’s full homily of December 21, 2014.
A PBS special on Christianity more than 10 years ago remains fresh in the mind of Fr. Steven Voss, our pastor, because of the woman who could never forget a certain Advent hymn. Unchurched since childhood, the woman did not understand the hymn, but whenever she was in trouble, she remembered the melody and the words to its first verse. “Every time she sang those lyrics or hummed that tune, she was praying to the only entity who could ever bring her peace,” says Fr. Steven. “I believe she was receiving great grace that would come to help her.”
On Gaudete Sunday we celebrate the truth of this grace, and like the Israelites thousands of years ago, we look forward to being ransomed from prison, be it self-imposed or physical, by the birth of Jesus Christ. Fr. Steven reminds us that we can begin to prepare now in earnest for Christmas and urges us to say to the Lord, “Let my gift to you be the fullness of who I am, both talents and gifts, and brokenness and sorrow. And Lord, I accept your gift of healing love and peace with great joy.” A final gentle reminder from Fr. Steven: The Devil would have us believe the gifts and trappings of Christmas are what make us happy, when in fact they are symbols of enduring love and the great gift we receive in Christ himself. Have you guessed the hymn yet? For the answer and to listen to Fr. Steven’s complete December 14, 2014 homily, click on the video above or this link.