Dear Saint Martha Parishioners,
Blessings on your Advent! Among the myriad challenges Christians face in the current culture, a perennial one is to locate and accept -- amidst all the pre-Christmas hoopla -- the graces that are particular to the season of Advent.
Let us enter into the journey with Mary and Joseph. These young marrieds were summoned to Bethlehem by the Romans, who were looking to update their tax rolls ("In those days, a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken of the whole world." Luke 2:1.) On top of everything else these two young people faced, now they had a late-pregnancy journey through rough hilly country, to a town where lodging would be among the animals.
As we enter into this season, perhaps a family dinner conversation could explore this journey. Find Nazareth and Bethlehem on a map, and note the distance and topography (remember, observant Jews needed to detour around Samaria). Lay out the situation they faced, and ask children and family members what Mary and Joseph might have been thinking and experiencing along the way.
Yet, even as we are mindful to keep our minds in Advent, we do need to begin some preparations for Christmas. Here at Saint Martha Parish, our planning is complicated by the vast uncertainties of this year of COVID. In thinking about our Masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we wonder how many people are coming.
Since there is no way of knowing for sure, and because we intend full compliance with proper safety measures, we are adding two extra Masses on Christmas Eve. Thus our schedule will be:
- 4 pm in the church
- 4 pm in the gym
- 7 pm in the church
- 7 pm in the gym
- 10 pm in the church
- 9 am in the church
The concurrent Masses in the gym will, of course, include beautiful music and the best holy day environment we can manage. Chairs will be arranged at safe distances and must not be moved.
As you would expect, we will continue, at all Masses, to adhere to the safety measures that have been in place. Masks are required at all times in the building, including during Mass. Persons not from the same household are to maintain a safe distance from others. As you have seen throughout these days of COVID, people will not line up to receive Communion -- the Eucharist will be brought out to the pews.
We are not requiring reservations for these Masses but, to help us plan, could you please take a minute to fill out this simple Google form. Answering three short questions would really help us to ensure a safe and blessed experience for everyone. Please respond by December 15, 2020.
Thanks for helping us plan. And know that, here at the parish, we are holding your families closely in prayer.