Sunday, Dec. 21
Fourth Sunday of Advent
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Q. I have noticed that when the choir does a piece of music differently or performs a song especially well, someone inevitably starts to applaud, and the rest of the congregation follows suit. I think this detracts from the mood that the music has just created and interferes with the solemnity of the Mass. Is it just me, or should applause be reserved for musical performances outside of Mass?
Q. I understand that, as Catholics, if we choose to be cremated, our cremains are to be treated with dignity and must be buried or entombed. My husband and I have two family members who have asked us to arrange to have their ashes “scattered.” One is a Catholic, one is not. Does our duty to follow Church teaching on this matter override the wishes of our family members (even of the non-Catholic one)? I am uncomfortable with one day having to carry out their request, but I’m unsure as to how to respond.
We are celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Today’s reading reminds us of three important aspects about understanding God’s presence through history: first, salvation occurs within history; second, the mystery has been revealed; and third, God works the impossible.
Each year we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “to rejoice.” In the second reading, we are given the simple command by Christ through his servant St. Paul, “Rejoice always.” These words are part of St. Paul’s final advice to the Thessalonian church in his first letter. He leaves them with a simple theme, which forms the context for the third Sunday of Advent.
Q. Often, I have been at a Mass where the deacon reads the Gospel. But then, sometimes, the deacon goes on to give the homily while the priest watches. Is this a new function in the Church today?
Q. Please help me to know how to answer people who say, “It doesn’t matter what religion or beliefs you have, since we’re all going to the same place anyway.”
We are being called to prepare the way of the Lord through all of the different wildernesses we experience in our daily lives. We need to prepare the way through the desert of our secular society. Most of all, we need to prepare a way through the wilderness of our hearts.
Q. Every year I try to change my relationship with God. I try to start praying more regularly, avoid some habitual sins, and be an overall better person. But I always seem to fail. I just slip back into my old habits. What can I do?
Students, supported by St. Mary’s Center for Spirituality and the college’s campus ministry, organized a national letter-writing response to Pope Francis’ outreach to young people to encourage the millennial generation — those born between 1981 and 1995 — to write to the pope about their love for Catholic tradition and offer ideas about how the Church might better reach their demographic.
On Nov. 23, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. But Jesus did not appear on earth as we would imagine a king to appear. Jesus seems to be saying that he reigns as king somewhere other than earth, and we know the name of his kingdom: heaven.