Pastoral Messages from Fr. Rick – 12/19/21

82nd Anniversary – I’ve been told by ‘parish archivist’, Noel Poe, that this Monday, December 20, is the 82nd Anniversary of the first Mass in Kanab, UT. Halleluiah!!  We will celebrate the Monday morning Mass for the special intention of all our St. Christopher families and clergy – past, present, living and deceased. 

Welcome Back and ‘Art Walk’ – After the First we will experiment with reinstituting coffee and bagel hour after Sunday Mass – stay tuned.

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: – Thursdays from 4:00 to 5:00 PM.

Domestic Monastery:  Our book discussion will continue this Thursday at 2:30 PM.  We will be discussing Chapters 4 and 5.

Responding in Haste and Enthusiasm – Mary travels in haste through the Judean hill country to share the news of her pregnancy with her relative, Elizabeth.  What must have been the emotional and spiritual state of these two pregnant women, both of whom conceived in the most extraordinary circumstances?  Consider the sequence leading up to this visitation.  Elizabeth’s husband, Zachariah, had encountered an angel in the temple and then struck mute because he found it hard to believe that his wife would become pregnant in her old age.  Mary’s husband, Joseph, encountered an angel in a dream saying HIS wife was pregnant even though she had not had relations with a man.  Then Mary herself receives a visit from an angel to tell HER that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  In the case of Mary and Zachariah the visiting angel was specifically identified as the Archangel Gabriel. 

Let’s just take that seriously for a moment.  The angels are part of God’s heavenly hosts.  Hosts means ‘army’.  It was God’s hosts that cast Lucifer and his army of subversive angels out of heaven.  It’s likely this group, this heavenly host, was a fairly imposing group.  It’s no wonder that the angels always start with ‘Do not be afraid.’  It is almost expected that a normal person would be afraid and likely terrified at such a visit.  I can imagine myself being shocked, perhaps frozen or traumatized just enough to get through the episode.  All the ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline might be rising to the occasion within oneself.  Mary seems oddly composed despite the otherworldly nature of this whole episode.  It of course helped that she was uniquely prepared for this occasion, but still she was fully human.  I was wondering if there was a pent up or suppressed fear which enabled her to travel with haste in the hill country…while pregnant!  She might have been to some extent holding the sides of her head screaming as she ran through the hills.  Elizabeth saw her coming and she caught the spirit as surely did the infant in her womb.  The two ‘pre-borns’ recognized each other in a way that went beyond the intellect.  They could feel their mother’s excitement and probably even hysteria at this great providential meeting.  They kicked.  They were mission ready.

What is almost equally fascinating is that both women were married (or almost married) to men who had also bought into this whole otherworldly affair. They too had been shocked and fearful at the coming of an archangel and the always terrifying mission that comes with a supreme messenger.  But because they were men of the temple, married to righteous and devout women, they accepted the calming ‘fear not’ and proceeded in faith.  They were as prepared as they could be and they now all bought into the mission… and succeeded!!

Two thousand plus years later this same mission continues and includes all of us.  Are we (clergy, husbands, wives, children, parish communities) prepared to recognize the messengers in our lives?  Are we all hearing messengers from the same God?  How is our fear and anxiety being transformed into enthusiasm for the mission regardless of the cost?  This is Advent and leads to a genuinely HOLY and MERRY CHRISTMAS.