Catholic Free Press

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Christmas greeting from Bishop McManus

Posted By December 23, 2014 | 3:08 pm | Lead Story #1

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

During this season of joy, our hearts are stirred by the beauty, depth and constancy of God’s love for each one of us. Truly, God so loved the world that He sent His Son as our Savior (Jn 3: 16).
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Christmas Mass, together with our family gatherings and customs, draws us together in the renewal of that comforting realization. Whether it be the words of the Christmas Gospel, the sight of a lowly manger, the sounds of a cherished carol or, above all, our receiving in Holy Communion the same Savior who was born at Bethlehem, we are deeply moved by the wonder, awe and reassurance that our good God has drawn close to us.
In that spirit, families gather to share their joy and love for God and one another. Pope Francis reminds us that the family is a “‘center of love’ where the law of respect and communion reigns and … no one is set apart”  and that  “the family continues to be a school unparalleled in humanity, an indispensible contribution to a just and supportive society.”
As we reflect on the beauty and meaning of Christmas and as the Church prepares for next Fall’s Synod on the Family, the Holy Family is an inspiration and example for us. However, we cannot forget that the Holy Family knew their trials, crises, disappointments and disruptions.   From the news of an unplanned pregnancy, to Joseph’s initial thought of quietly divorcing Mary, to their separation from family and friends to travel to Bethlehem, to their escape from Herod and flight into Egypt, the Holy Family faced severe challenges.  But through it all, they knew that Jesus was with them, and that, by doing God’s will as best they could, all would be well.
Like Mary, we face our personal challenges.  Like the Holy Family, we face family challenges.  We too, at times, may be greatly troubled and ask, “How can this be?”  In those times, let us remember the enduring meaning of Christmas.  God is with us.  He loves us.  His grace will sustain us if we, like Mary and Joseph, strive to do God’s will in our lives for “nothing is impossible for God.”
May the peace of Christmas always be your blessing and may the consolation of God’s presence to you be your strength in times of trial.

With every prayerful best wish I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Robert J. McManus


Bishop McManus will celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Lord with three Masses on Christmas eve and Christmas Day.
The first Mass, at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 24, will be at the Worcester County House of Correction.
He then will celebrate Mass at midnight at St. Paul Cathedral. That Mass will be preceded by a choral prelude concert beginning at 11:30 p.m. It will include motets and choral settings of traditional carols presented by the St. Paul Cathedral Choir, under the direction of interim music director John Totter.
The bishop also will celebrate Mass at 10:15 a.m. on Christmas Day in the cathedral.
He then will host the annual Bishop’s Christmas Dinner  at noon Dec 25 in the St. Paul Cathedral Cenacle, in the cathedral basement. The turkey dinner  is sponsored by Catholic Charities.
Dinners also will be delivered to those who are homebound.
Last year, nearly 180 people sat down with Bishop McManus in the Cenacle at Christmas, according to Robert Cronin, dinner coordinator. He said he expects about the same number this year. He said he expects that about 1,500 meals will be home delivered.
The Worcester Writers Collaborative, with the help of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Westborough, is collecting gloves to be given as presents to the people who attend the Bishop’s Christmas Dinner.
Those who wish to donate a new pair of gloves – one size fits all, or large – may drop them off at the drop-off box in the St. Luke’s Parish Center at 1 Ruggles St. in Westborough by Dec. 23. Those wishing more information may visit the Worcester Writers Collaborative Facebook page.
Buses will provide transportation to and from the cathedral for those who want to dine with Bishop McManus, the host along with Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities is looking for more volunteers to deliver the meals to the homebound this year, Mr. Cronin said. Volunteers who want to help with home deliveries of dinners should report by 9:30 a.m. to the Catholic Charities main office at 10 Hammond St. Volunteers to help serve the dinners at the cathedral should report to the cathedral by 11:30 a.m. Volunteers who want more information may call 508-860-2232.
Those who wish to make donations to help defray the cost of the dinner may do so by sending contributions to: Catholic Charities, 10 Hammond St., Worcester MA 01610.
The season of Christmas will continue with the Cathedral’s Traditional Service of Lessons and Carols for Christmas at 4 p.m. Dec. 28 at St. Paul Cathedral.
On the first day of the new year, the Mass will be celebrated in Latin at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Msgr. Robert K. Johnson, rector of the cathedral, is inviting everyone to St. Paul’s for the 10:15 a.m. Mass on Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
Mass will be celebrated using the ordinary form of the Mass but using an ancient posture, “‘ad orientem,’ facing the East,” he explained.
There has been much interest in experiencing the Mass in Latin, the official language of the Church, he said.
“It will be like celebrating in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, praying in the official language of the Church, the language the Church has used for centuries,” he said, noting that major liturgies at the Vatican are in Latin.
The prayers and words of the Mass are the same as a regular English Mass, except that they are in Latin. The music will include Gregorian chant provided by the Cathedral Choir.