According to Luke's Gospel, after their purification, the parents of Jesus "brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord" (2:22). After offering all the required sacrifices, they gave Jesus to Simeon and " he took him up in his arms and blessed God" (2:28). The blessing also extended to Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family is a model for all Christian families. To thrive and play their God-appointed role in the world, families need graces of blessings, and families should seek blessings from God. We need blessings imparted on them so that they may receive special graces to live a life dedicated to Christ and his Gospel. Also, our families need blessings to ward off the influence of the evil one. In the birth of Jesus, God sets in motion the victory over death, sin, and the devil. Our families must respond to God's invitation to receive from Him blessings that support and protect our families.
The solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, falls on the octave of Christmas. Ordinarily, it is a holy day of obligation, but we will NOT observe it as a day of obligation this year because it falls on a Monday (you are highly encouraged to attend mass nevertheless). We will, however, honor our Mother with a recitation of the Holy Rosary before mass. We will offer our rosary intentions for God's manifold blessings on our family. On New Year's Eve or New Year, it is customary for families to gather at "the table or at the Christmas tree or manger scene for a Blessing of the New Year" (Ordo 25). We will carry out these blessings at masses this weekend and on Monday. Please find time as a family to offer these blessings together at home. Please do the blessings around your Christmas tree or nativity set.
Traditionally, at mass, the priest offers the family's blessing at the Feast of the Holy Family. Thus, it shall be for our parish. However, I have adapted and elongated this pious act by scheduling an Eucharistic adoration for the Evening of Epiphany when, in a more significant and solemn way, the Eucharistic Jesus Himself would impart solemn blessings on all families in our parish and beyond as we wrap up the Christmas season, which ends officially on the Baptism of the Lord, the following day. There will be an Epiphany of Blessing on January 7 at 7 pm. You would want to take advantage of this opportune moment of grace. So, save the date.
We have come to the end of 2023 and look forward to the beginning of 2024, the year of Grace. We must approach it with faith, hope and love. May God bless us with all the necessary graces to live for Him continually. I am thankful for all you have done to support me and the parish this year. My gratitude goes to everyone and church societies who gave gifts of money, talent, and time in the service of our beloved parish. May God reward you generously.
I again renew my blessings upon you; may you continue to have a Merry Christmas season and a grace-filled New Year!
In His Grace,
Fr. Alayode Bernard Oniwe, OP