The Vision of Isaiah
During these Advent weeks we hear from the prophet Isaiah who describes a new age when the promised Messiah comes. It will be a time of unprecedented peace and harmony the world over: “the wolf shall be the guest of the lamb… the lion shall eat hay with the ox… the child shall play at the cobra’s den… and the earth shall be
filled with the knowledge of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11).Yet we are painfully aware that violence and warfare continue unabated. Even within our own borders and at times within our own community we see violence.
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School is only one of the places in recent years where there has been mass killings. Invariably when these incidents occur, the topic of gun control comes to the forefront. In the past year 8 states strengthened restrictions on guns and some 14 states weakened restrictions on guns and gun ownership, indicating that much controversy still surrounds this issue. But the numbers reveal that guns proliferate in our society with some 30,000 deaths attributed to gun use in the past year alone, more than half that number the result of suicides.
In a rare example of bi-partisan cooperation on gun control, this past week the House of Representatives voted to extend the prohibition on the manufacture of “plastic guns” that can go undetected in x-ray machines at airports and other facilities. This seems to be a step in the right direction and a sign that gun owners themselves can see the validity of certain safeguards. Requiring background checks as well as restricting large capacity assault weapons may be other steps that can be taken to make our homes and our communities less violent. The vision of Isaiah is just that – something that has not yet been realized but is longed for. During these Advent days amidst our many activities we would do well to ponder the vision of Isaiah and to foster a sense of peace within our world, our homes, and our hearts.
The New Bulletin
It seems that our new bulletin has been well received. In fact we actually ran out of bulletins before the last Mass on Sunday. We will increase the number we receive; we also plan to issue a special Christmas bulletin. We hope you have found the new bulletin informative and interesting. We also welcome anyone would like to assist the Communications Committee in this undertaking.
A New Look for a New Season
On this First Sunday of Advent we begin a new liturgical year and prepare for the Feast of Christmas. We are also introducing our new parish bulletin. You will discover that some items in the bulletin have been retained but new items have been added such as a children’s page, new columns, color photographs, and the use of two- color layout. The aim is to create a more readable and attractive bulletin and also provide more information. We hope you like it. Special thanks to the Communications Committee for their efforts.
Parishioners approach the bulletin in a variety of ways : some people read it from cover to cover, others look at items of particular interest, still others skim the contents, and finally some take it home and toss it. Thus the familiar refrain, “Honey, did you see the church bulletin anywhere?” With print media in decline we realize that the bulletin is a more traditional means of communication and younger generations are more apt to depend on digital sources such as a website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. With that in mind the Communications Committee next will be evaluating our website and updating it as well. Of course the entire bulletin and all previous issues can easily be found at our website: goodshepherdonline.com. Please note, however, that we will changing our web address to goodshepherdrcchurch.org starting this December.
The Advent Season goes by very quickly; this year it is less than four weeks. And it is a time of year when people are busier than usual with shopping, sending cards, decorating the home, gathering for social events, etc. Yet there are simple ways that we can slow down, be more reflective, and prepare for the birth of the Savior.
Some possibilities are:
- reading a passage from our Advent Reflection Booklet
- lighting an Advent Wreath at the family supper table (see insert)
- making good use of the Advent Insert in the bulletin
- adding a personal note in a Christmas card
- choosing simpler less costly ways of gift-giving
- purchasing a gift card for a needy family or making a charitable donation
With some planning and some time for peace and quiet, we can arrive at Christmas not with exhaustion but with satisfaction that we have prepared well for the birth of Christ.
Attention Walmart Shoppers
Yes, it’s that time of the year when “Black Friday” looms ever larger on the horizon. Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, has announced that stores will offer its super holiday deals starting at 6:00 P.M. on Thanksgiving Day and continue through the night into Friday. Businesses anticipate a staggering 602 billion dollars in sales this holiday season.
It seems retailers can’t do enough to get us out there and start buying, even if that means luring people from the Thanksgiving table and into the local mall. And in case you are a stay-at-home, you can spend hours on line searching for those super sales. It seems ironic if not a sad commentary on our consumer saturated society that we can’t spend a few more hours giving thanks with family and friends for all of our blessings before bolting out the door with credit card in hand. Will Thanksgiving become just another major shopping day?
No matter how attractive the bargains, it might be worthwhile for each family to set aside all of Thanksgiving Day to do what President Abraham Lincoln declared in 1863: that the fourth Thursday of November would be a national holiday so that “the gracious gifts of the Most High God…. be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with heart and one voice by the whole American People.”
In a similar vein families might also consider a more modest gift-giving this Christmas and set aside a portion of that money for the neediest or donating to a charity of whatever kind. Except for the children, more and more families choose to buy just one gift for one other adult member of the family- much to the relief of all. Others make a charitable donation in the name of the person for whom they might otherwise purchase a gift. Living in a consumer culture calls for taking some counter measures to offset the pressure to “shop ‘til you drop” in order to enjoy the holy season of Advent/Christmas and appreciate its true meaning.
New Bulletin to be Launched
Next weekend on the First Sunday of Advent you will receive the first issue of the newly revised parish bulletin. The Communications Committee headed by Fr. Rufus has been working together for the past several months to make various revisions of the bulletin including a revised layout, new items of interest, a children’s page, color photographs, and a more attractive appearance. After evaluating some 20 bulletins from various parishes in the diocese, the committee worked with George Keenan of the Church Bulletin Company in West Babylon to enhance our bulletin and make it more appealing. The committee welcomes your feedback and any suggestions you may have regarding content and/or appearance. Special thanks go to the committee members for all their efforts.