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Preceding the 10:30 AM Mass on Sunday, December 21, at Sacred Heart, Spring Valley, the children of the parish will present a Christmas Play. The play is in church beginning at 10:15 AM. All are welcome!
Adding to his already impressive and varied resume of service in our Diocese of La Crosse Brother Michael Mandernach, CSPX, recently published a history of his religious community, the Brothers of Saint Pius X. This diocesan community of consecrated life was founded in 1951 by the Bishop of La Crosse, John Patrick Treacy. In his Forward to the book, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Patron of the Knights of Malta writes: "It remains only to express my heartfelt esteem and gratitude to Brother Michael Mandernach for a work well done. Together as Brothers is a worthy record of the action of the Holy Spirit in the community of the Brothers of Saint Pius X. It is an account told with the truth and love of one who, from his youth and now for some 60 years, has cooperated faithfully and generously with the Holy Spirit in response to the call to the apostolic religious life as a Brother. As a native son of the Diocese of La Crosse, who was deeply honored to be a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse and to be its Bishop, I offer heartfelt gratitude to Brother Michael for the steadfastness with which he worked on the history of the Brothers of Saint Pius X, since that day in 1996 when I first asked him to provide for the Diocese and for the Church a written record of this important chapter of her history."
For more information regarding purchasing a copy of the history of the Brothers of Saint Pius X please contact the Central Office (715.778.5519 or email@example.com). Brother Michael is retired in residence at Spring Valley.
The Season of Advent begins a new Church year. In the pagan world of the ancient Greeks and Romans, epiphaneia (the Greek word from which we get our English “epiphany”) or adventus (the Latin word from which we get our English “advent”) meant “coming.” These terms were used to refer to the annual coming of gods into their temples to visit their devotees. In the court of the Roman Emperors these words also signified the first official visit of the Emperor (or other important officeholder) to a city. Our ancestors in the faith – the first Christians – transformed the usage and meaning of these terms applying them to Jesus Christ. Thus, in a twofold sense they spoke of Christ’s epiphany or advent, namely: (1) His coming among us as a man sharing fully our human nature being born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and (2) His coming and manifestation in glory – He who is Lord and Savior – as judge of the living and the dead at the end of time. The Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer for today’s Mass of the First Sunday of Advent reflects this ancient theology.
Developing from this double understanding of the coming of Christ, the word “advent” eventually came to be applied to the liturgical season of preparation at the head of the Church’s year. Thus, the Season of Advent is a time for our preparation (1) for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), and (2) to meet the Lord upon His coming in glory.
Our Advent is the season of the coming of Christ. At the time of the Birth of Jesus of Nazareth and during the course of His earthly life, how many people saw Him with their eyes but did not see Him for who He is – truly God and truly man? And how many people were not even watching for the Savior and missed Him altogether? Christ will come again in glory at a time known only to the Father. Jesus Himself in today’s Gospel (Mark13:33-37) exhorts us: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come!” In an extended sense, Christ already comes to us each and every day. Yet, like the people at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we do not always perceive Him in the persons and events of the drama of our lives. And how many people in our day are not even looking for Him?
In this Season of Advent, let us beg the Lord to sharpen our sense of faith, our ability to perceive His coming in our midst, our preparedness for His glorious return. And let us ask Christ to remove any obstacles we may have erected in our lives and that may prevent us from perceiving His presence or make us unready for whenever He calls us to Himself. These may be accomplished this Advent (1) by our life of prayer allowing God to draw us closer to Himself, coming to know Him as one knows a friend and confidant; (2) by our frequent and worthy reception of the Sacraments, especially Penance (Confession) and the Holy Eucharist; (3) by living an upright life according to the Commandments as we beg the Lord for “the resolve to run forth to meet . . . Christ with righteous deeds at His coming” (Collect, First Sunday of Advent); and, finally, (4) by living faithfully our vocation – to the dedicated single life, the priesthood, the consecrated religious life, or the married life.
By means of an IPad, this past week Pope Francis “flipped the switch” that lit the world’s largest Christmas tree made of lights located in Gubbio, Italy. Via satellite he addressed those gathered in that town in central Italy. His words speak to us as well: “I wish you a happy and holy Christmas! In switching on the light of the Nativity scene, we wish for the light of Christ to be in us. A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in the soul, in the heart; let there be forgiveness to others; let there be no hostilities, which are dark. Let there be the beautiful light of Jesus. This is my wish for all of you, when you turn on the light of the crib . . . I give to you my warmest wishes, peace and happiness. If you have something dark in your soul, ask the Lord for forgiveness. Christmas is a great opportunity to cleanse the soul, eh! Do not fear, the priest is merciful, forgiving all in the name of God, because God forgives everything. Let light be in your hearts, in your families, in your cities.”
There are several additional opportunities for you to take up the Pope’s invitation and receive the gift of the Lord’s mercy through the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. A joint communal Penance Service for our parishes and Saint Joseph Parish is Monday, December 15, in Menomonie with multiple priests hearing individual Confessions following a brief prayer service at 7:00 PM. Besides the usual times, there are individual Confessions 6:00-7:30 PM on Wednesday, December 17, at Elmwood and 7:00-8:30 PM on Tuesday, December 23, at Spring Valley.
In the United States this time of year is characterized by giving and generosity. The roots of this cultural phenomenon, of course, are Christian. We give to others in imitation of our Heavenly Father who has given to us His Eternal Son, Jesus Christ, born in time from the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We imitate the shepherds who came to the newborn child to give Him homage. We emulate the wise men from the East who offered to the infant their reverence as well as gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In the spirit of this season, I invite you to prayerfully consider offering your time and talents to the service of God and our communities of faith as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (at Masses and/or to the homebound), reader (at Masses of the Lord’s Day and during the week), altar server, sacristan, or usher. In the new year we will offer sessions intended to renew those who already exercise these ministries and train those who are just beginning. Keep an eye on the bulletin and here on the parish website for more details in the coming weeks.
Our parishes celebrate the the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord with Vigil Masses on Wednesday, December 24, at 4:00 PM at Spring Valley and 8:00 PM at Elmwood as well as on Christmas Day itself, Thursday December 25, at 8:30 AM at Boyceville and 10:30 AM at Spring Valley.
The angel said to the shepherds: ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger’” (Luke 2:10-12). Indeed, this Holy Infant, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, fills us – and through us the whole world – with joy and hope. When faced with the horrors of our day – the slaughter of the most innocent ones in the womb and those weakened by old age, terrorism and war, material and spiritual poverty, to name just a few – we can be paralyzed by fear. With the birth of Jesus, however, the angel assures us that we need not be afraid! The good news is that “the Word of God, God the Son of God . . . has taken on our human nature to free us from eternal death” (Saint Leo the Great, Sermon 1.2.1). May we who have been given the gift of faith embrace more fully the hope that is ours at the birth of the Savior!
In this mystery of the Incarnation – the Eternal Son of the Father taking on our human nature being born of the Virgin Mary – we believe that Jesus Christ is “the human face of God and divine face of man” (Blessed John Paul II, The Church in America, 67). An encounter with this Jesus of Nazareth – the Incarnate Son of God – “brings about a profound transformation in all who do not close themselves off from Him. The first impulse coming from this transformation is to communicate to others the richness discovered in the experience of the encounter. This does not mean simply teaching what we have come to know but also, like the Samaritan woman, enabling others to encounter Jesus personally: ‘Come and see’ [John 4:29]. The result will be the same as that which took place in the heart of the Samaritans, who said to the woman: ‘It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world’ [John 4:42]” (Blessed John Paul II, The Church in America, 68). If you find yourself having grown lukewarm after that original encounter with the Lord or having closed yourself off from Jesus of Nazareth – for whatever reason – I invite you: “Come and see!” Come to encounter Jesus Christ at Sacred Heart-Saint Luke Parishes! Come to meet the merciful Savior in the Sacrament of Penance! Come to meet the Incarnate Son of God who makes Himself present under the forms of bread and wine at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! Come to meet Him who is the Truth in study of the Word of God handed on in Scripture and Tradition! Come to meet the Crucified Lord in the persons of the young, the needy, the suffering, and the sorrowing!
“Today Christ was born; today the Savior appeared; today the angels sing on earth, the archangels rejoice; today the just exult, saying: Glory to God in the highest, alleluia” (Christmas Day, Evening Prayer II, Magnificat Antiphon). May you and your loved ones have a joyful and blessed Christmas!
This past summer you learned of the crisis facing Sacred Heart Parish in Spring Valley, namely, the leaking church roof. Because these leaks are causing damage to the interior of our church it is important that we solve this problem as quickly as possible. The failure of the current roof is chiefly due to faulty installation of the underlayment and subsequent damage to the shingles. Repairs to the areas where the shingles have failed bought us some time but did not resolve the underlying problem. Now those temporary fixes have also failed.
Much discussion has taken place in our Building and Grounds Committee, our Parish Finance Council, and our Parish Pastoral Council, as well as at the recent parish “town hall” meeting. The fruit of all these conversations is the consensus that we must replace the entire roof in order to prevent further damage to our beautiful church. The new roof – being installed by Kulp’s of Stratford Roofing and Insulation Contractors – will be the Decra stone-coated steel shingle system with an estimated life span of 40-50 years. This will be attached to a wholly new underlayment and insulation. The project also includes new flat roofs over the side entrances.
The price of the new roof is $117,470.00. At present, the Diocese of La Crosse is not able to make any loans to parishes or schools, so we must raise the funds ourselves as soon as possible.
In order to reach this goal, our Parish Finance Council and Pastoral Council recommended that we finally make use of the generous gift made to the parish by Margaret Kuehl who died in 1969. That bequest – which has grown to almost $60,000 – plus the nearly $7,000.00 settlement from the shingle manufacturer means that we must raise $50,470.00 to complete the project. I ask you to consider prayerfully how you can assist us with our new church roof. You may send your contribution to the Central Office or place it in the offertory basket at Mass. Please make sure you clearly mark your check and envelope for the roof project. If you have any questions about this project, please do not hesitate to contact our parishioners who are spearheading the effort: Buildings and Grounds Committee Chair Jack Erickson, Finance Council Chair Kevin Larson, and Finance Council members Greg Buchal, Aaron Hannack, and Chuck Hovde.
Sacred Heart Church is the building in which we gather to hear the Word of God, to pray together, to receive the Sacraments, and to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. It is a most worthy house of God on earth and a house fit for the prayers of Christ’s faithful. We must do all that is necessary to maintain it for future generations. Thank you for all the ways you participate in the life of our parish. May the Lord richly bless you and your loved ones.