Weekly Digest - Solemnity of Mary and First Friday

Monday, December 30, 2013

Welcome everyone!  We wish you a holy and happy Christmas season,
and offer prayers that you may experience a renewed desire to respond to God's ardent love for you.

This week at the parish most events are still CANCELLED for the holiday, including playgroup, Fatima Apostolate, and Bereavement Meeting.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Wednesday, January 1st - Solemnity of Mary - Holy Day of Obligation
A fantastic feast day to start your New Year off right.  Dedicate your heart this year to Mary, the Mother of God, asking her help in wisdom and faithfulness in the year ahead.  Mary, magnified and sanctified by her divine Son, shows us the great plans that God has for each of us if we open our hearts to say "yes" to Him.  Saint Agnes Mass times are as follows. All Masses are in the LOWER CHURCH.
Tuesday, December 31st - 4:00 pm
Wednesday, January 1st - 7:00 am, 10:00 am, 12:00 noon, 5:00 pm

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
This Friday, January 3rd, is the first Friday of the month.  On Thursday, January 2nd from 4:00-5:00 pm, there will be the opportunity for confession in the lower church.  On Friday, Saint Agnes will be offering all-day Adoration, concluding with Benediction and Mass at 5:00/5:30pm, in the lower church. Also at noon there will be a Holy Hour to pray for priests and victims of clergy sexual abuse. Adoration is a wonderful opportunity to spend some quiet time with the Lord and gain some focus in our lives - especially with all the busy distractions of daily life. For more background on the long tradition of keeping a First Friday devotion, look here or here.

Due to traveling conflicts, First Friday playgroup is cancelled this month. We hope you can join us in February!




*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Making Music Praying Twice 
Winter Classes: Thursdays at 10:30 am, beginning January 9th
MMP2 session II begins on January 9 and runs through April. Registration is open for the Thursday morning class. Additional classes depend on enrollment but please contact me if you are interested in a different day and/or time. No payment necessary until the first class. Class size limited to 12 children.

Registration for is ongoing and available online at http://www.stjoseph.belmont.ma.us/faithformation/mmpt.htm or by calling the parish office at 617-484-0279. Pre-registration helps to determine which classes will run and allows us to pre-order CDs and songbooks. No payment is necessary until the first class. Classes appropriate for children birth – age 5 with a caregiver. All classes will be held at St. Joseph Parish, 130 Common Street, Belmont, MA.

Weekly Digest - Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Welcome everyone!  We wish you a holy and happy Christmas,
and offer prayers that you may experience a renewed desire to respond to God's ardent love for you.

This week at the parish most events are CANCELLED for the holiday, including playgroup, Fatima Apostolate, and Bereavement Meeting.  Mass times for Christmas are below:

CHRISTMAS EVE MASSES
•3:30 pm - Adult Choir Concert
•4:00 pm – Adult Choir, Mass in Upper Church
•4:00 pm – Lower Church Mass
•4:00 pm – Mass in Arlington Catholic High School
•6:00 pm – Children’s Choir, Mass in Upper Church
•6:00 pm – Lower Church Mass
•7:30 pm – Upper Church Mass

CHRISTMAS DAY MASSES
•8:00 am – Upper Church Mass
•10:00 am – Upper Church Mass
•12:00 – Upper Church Mass
•5:00 pm – Lower Church Mass


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Making Music Praying Twice 
Winter Classes: Thursdays at 10:30 am, beginning January 9th
MMP2 session II begins on January 9 and runs through April. Registration is open for the Thursday morning class. Additional classes depend on enrollment but please contact me if you are interested in a different day and/or time. No payment necessary until the first class. Class size limited to 12 children.

Registration for is ongoing and available online at http://www.stjoseph.belmont.ma.us/faithformation/mmpt.htm or by calling the parish office at 617-484-0279. Pre-registration helps to determine which classes will run and allows us to pre-order CDs and songbooks. No payment is necessary until the first class. Classes appropriate for children birth – age 5 with a caregiver. All classes will be held at St. Joseph Parish, 130 Common Street, Belmont, MA.

Catholic Reading Wednesday and Community Catechesis Tonight

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

With many thanks to our awesome curator, Karen Celano, you can delve into a faith-related news article each Wednesday! Karen writes:

Last week, Pope Francis was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013.  The choice of Francis for the magazine’s yearly issue was criticized by some as being the “safe choice” (also nominated were Edward Snowden and gay marriage advocate Edith Windsor), but I would argue that anyone who thinks Francis is representative of a safe and comfortable Christianity is not paying attention to Francis’ words and actions.

Francis has been accused of being “radical,” but this comes as no surprise to those who have always understood that Christianity is a radical proposition that does not conform to the standards of the world.  When Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium drew accusations by some on the extreme right that Francis was espousing Marxist economics, Francis, with his usual humor, answered: “The Marxist ideology is wrong.  But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

Francis’ response reveals a man who practices what he preaches.  In Evangelii Gaudium Francis wrote that “the Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions, but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability” (EG 172).  Francis acknowledges that many good and well-intentioned people can espouse dangerous ideologies, and he encourages us not to be afraid of speaking out against those ideologies while still seeing the good in the people who endorse them.  When we confront people who disagree with us politically, economically, or religiously, can we do as Francis does – can we be unafraid to be associated with them, can we acknowledge their goodness, can we debate with them in a spirit of charity?

In the wake of criticisms that Francis is drastically altering Catholic economic thought, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI offered a technical explanation that bolsters Francis’ point, which is that, when free-market capitalism is taken to an extreme, it dehumanizes people, making them cogs in the amoral economic machine rather than true moral agents of their own destiny.  Indeed, this criticism of capitalism also holds true of Marxism, which Benedict says is similarly “deterministic in nature” and enslaves human beings to the “centrally administered economy.”  Both Benedict and Francis argue that any economic system which views itself as free from the demands of ethics and morality is not a system which the Church can endorse.  “A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man,” Benedict writes.  “Today we need a maximum of specialized economic understanding, but also a maximum of ethos.”  The Church stands above capitalism and above Marxism – and stands for human dignity.

Benedict speaks an academic language and Francis speaks more in the vernacular, but both are endorsing a fundamental challenge to the way secular society conceives of itself.  Anyone who sees in Francis just a kind and tender-hearted old man is missing Francis’ revolutionary message.  His interactions with children, the sick, and the poor are not isolated charitable incidents, but rather reveal a life lived according to a worldview which proclaims the inner dignity of the least of society’s members – those who are often inadvertently forgotten or left behind by our modern, loud, fast-paced, consumerist, results-driven society.  It is these people, Francis tells us, that any just and ethical economic system must take into consideration. 

But Francis’ awareness of human dignity comes from listening to and reflecting on the Word of God.  Once again, the Church stands above a culture that tells us we can achieve justice without God, or that we can have God without working for justice.  As Fr. Robert Barron points out, we cannot separate Francis’ teachings about social justice from his life of prayer and his proclamation of the Word of God.  If the secular media wants to turn Francis into mere promoter of a secular liberal social agenda, they too are misinterpreting him: Francis wants the world to know that the only way to achieve true justice is to listen to the Author of all justice, through prayer and obedience to His will. 

That is why, this Advent, Francis urges us all to pay attention to God – to offer Him our time in silence, to show ourselves willing to listen to Him.  At this time of year, we Christians must battle the clamorous noise of advertisements and crowds in order to make room for the One who established justice in the world.  I don't imagine the first Christmas was much different from Christmases today: Bethlehem flooded with people coming for the census, merchants excited about the opportunity to sell their wares to the new consumers, innkeepers looking to make extra money from the travelers.  But as we prepare for Christmas, Francis encourages us to slow down, to quiet ourselves, and to listen for the voice of the God who comes with tender love for all His creatures.  Only when we listen to the small, quiet voice of God can we begin to fathom how to create a more just world for all.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Playgroup Activity and Community Catechesis on Wednesday

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Today at playgroup, we read a children's interpretation of the nativity story, in order to help us think about the first Christmas and what happened on that day. As Christmas draws near, if we think and pray about Jesus' birth, the Holy Spirit may help us to think some new thoughts about this amazing event, and understand better the deep love that God has for us. You can also read the nativity story with your family, by either using a children's bible, or looking in Luke 2. Here are some other bible passages, which are related to the birth of the Messiah, and here is a children's video about the first Christmas. Click and print the image below.
Perhaps your children can color it and hang it in a place where they will remember to think about Jesus' birth all week long.
We wish your whole family a blessed Christmas, and a "new birth" in your relationship with the Lord.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Weekly Digest

Monday, December 16, 2013

Welcome everyone!
This week at the parish:
  • Monday  - Sodality of Our Lady (7 pm, Parish Center)
  • Tuesday - Saint Agnes Playgroup (10:30 am), Choir Practice, and Fatima Apostolate (7 pm)
  • Wednesday - Bereavement Meeting and Community Catechesis (7 pm)
  • Saturday - Christmas Music Day at Saint Joe's, Belmont (10 am)
  • Sunday - Advent Collection for SCARVES, Festival of Lights Trip (2:30 pm)
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
We are now moving into "Winter Playgroup" mode, when Fidelity House hosts our playgroup within their building.  We owe them our thanks!  We also are grateful to Father Flatley for helping us to get a small curriculum going this year.  Bring your thinking caps and get ready to pay attention to some short activities about Advent.

Thus, Tuesday playgroup will take place at Fidelity House, right near church: 25 Medford Street, from 10:30 am-12:30 pm.
  • Please remember some behavior guidelines: No running out of the playroom, no kids in the toy closet, respect physical limits, use a time-out chair, please discipline your own children promptly, and be considerate of others!
  • Fidelity House is being very generous by letting us use this space. Please consider a donation to help with their costs. Minimum suggested donation is $1 per person in attendance.
  • Please no food.... drinks in spill proof containers are OK. 
Parking is on the street around Fidelity House. Check the street signs for the rules. Once you walk in the front door, go up the stairs, past the front desk, and to the back of the building. There is a door from the room to an outdoor courtyard, so bring your kids' coats too. We will also teach a brief lesson for the kids.


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Family Mass Advent Projects:
  • The Family Liturgy Advent Collection occurs each Sunday through Christmas, in order to help children in Arlington. Please consider bringing the following items to donate at Mass each Sunday:
    • December 1 - Socks
    • December 8 - Mittens, Gloves
    • December 15 - Hats
    • December 22 - Scarves
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Fidelity House Volunteers Needed
Volunteer needed for part time 2:30-5:30 afternoons answering the phone and light office work at Fidelity House, Site 2. Various other volunteer opportunities are also available. Call Fidelity House at 781-648-2005 for details.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Making Music Praying Twice 
Christmas Music Day: Saturday, December 21 at 10:00 am
This one day/one hour class combines a retelling of the Christmas story with elements from MMP2 and is appropriate for children birth through age 7 with a caregiver. More information and online registration is available on the Saint Joseph Parish website . Class is limited to 20 children.


Winter Classes: Thursdays at 10:30 am, beginning January 9th
MMP2 session II begins on January 9 and runs through April. Registration is open for the Thursday morning class. Additional classes depend on enrollment but please contact me if you are interested in a different day and/or time. No payment necessary until the first class. Class size limited to 12 children.


Registration for both sessions is ongoing and available online at http://www.stjoseph.belmont.ma.us/faithformation/mmpt.htm or by calling the parish office at 617-484-0279. Pre-registration helps to determine which classes will run and allows us to pre-order CDs and songbooks. No payment is necessary until the first class. Classes appropriate for children birth – age 5 with a caregiver. All classes will be held at St. Joseph Parish, 130 Common Street, Belmont, MA.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Mom's Night and Boston Sock Exchange

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Here's a friendly reminder that Mom's-Night-In is: THURSDAY, December 12th

We will get together for a stress-free evening, and play some get-to-know-you games (think: Apples to Apples) . I would rather not publish
the hostesses address, so please email me at saintagnesfamilies [at] gmail.com if you plan to come. Please bring a snack or drink to share!
 We will kick it off at 7:00 pm.


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." Mother Teresa

This Saturday, December 14th is the Boston Sock Exchange at 11:00 am! This ministry helps the homeless men and women of Boston, by distributing gifts of sandwiches and clothes near the Park Street T-Stop on the second Saturday of the month.

Prep and packaging for the day will be held Friday night, December 13th at 7:00 pm in the parish center. Help and/or donations is a wonderful way to put our faith in action!  For more information, see the calendar to the right, or email Jennifer Hermanski at jennifer.hermanski [at] gmail.com.  Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.


The Boston Sock Exchange is currently in need of winter clothing, especially winter coats, SOCKS, long sleeved-shirts, sweatshirts, coats, hats, gloves, and scarves.  We also need rain gear: ponchos and umbrellas.  Thank you!

Catholic Reading Wednesday

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

With many thanks to our awesome curator, Karen Celano, you can delve into a faith-related news article each Wednesday! Karen writes:

A few weeks ago, Pope Francis issued the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – "The Joy of the Gospel."  It’s a weighty document, but it is also very accessible and refreshingly conversational, focused on providing practical guidance for both laity and clergy in fulfilling the Church’s mission of “making disciples of all nations.”

The document provides much food for thought and is worthy of careful reflection.  But as we approach the third Sunday of Advent, “Gaudete”Sunday, a Sunday dedicated to the cultivation of joy, what calls my attention most is Pope Francis’ call to joy.  We as a Church community, Francis says, are called to radiate the joy of Christ!  This joy does not mean the empty pursuit of pleasure, nor does it mean that we will never experience pain or suffering.  Rather, this is the joy that comes from celebrating God's love for us, and from rendering loving service to God and others in return.  This is a joy that endures in the midst of all sorrow, and its focus is always on the "good news" of the incarnate Christ, who was born, died, and rose to give us hope for our own resurrection from all the types of “death,” whether they are great or small, physical or spiritual, that encounter us throughout our lives on earth.

Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and I think if we need an example of someone who manifested the joy of the "good news" in her life despite the sorrows that she endured we need look no farther than Mary, who, as an unmarried pregnant teenager – at risk of losing her fiancĂ©, her reputation, and perhaps even her life – was still able to proclaim: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Almighty has done great things for me.”  To be able to sing this song of joy with Mary in the midst of the uncertainties and anxieties of our own lives is the best witness we can give to our faith in this world.

Francis tells us that such joy-filled hope should be the first thing people think of when they think of the Church.  Sadly, as Francis acknowledges, this is not often the case.  Too often the Church is seen as a dour, old-fashioned dogmatic institution intent on dictating what people can or cannot do.  Sometimes this impression is unjustified; however, Francis encourages us to consider the ways in which we, as individual believers and as a parish community, contribute to that impression.  Do we use our faith as a weapon by which we judge and condemn others?  Do we use our parish community as a tool of exclusion and exclusivity?  Do our personal prayer lives consist primarily of complaints rather than gratitude?  Is our faith expressed through a series of “anti’s” and “don’ts”?  Have we abstracted particular moral teachings of the Church from their true context, so that “it is not the Gospel which is being preached, but certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options” (EG 39)?  If so, Francis calls us to repent and convert our hearts to joy.

Francis tells us that if we want our Church to grow, we must demonstrate in our own lives the “attractiveness” of the Gospel.  During this Advent season, Pope Francis invites us to think concretely about how to express the joy of our faith in our words and deeds in our everyday lives.  How do we make the cultivation of this joy the central feature of our lives as Christians?  How do we, in our speech and actions, testify to and manifest this joy?

Playgroup Activity, Mom's Night on Thursday

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Today at playgroup, we learned that our family is a place where God has put us to learn about Him and love Him.  We can grow in our faith with our families, and then share this faith with others.  Even Jesus, the Savior, was born into a human family.  He was a baby who grew, had parents, rules and lessons.  Mary and Joseph had important jobs, just as all parents do: to teach Jesus about God, his Jewish faith, and charity for his neighbor.  What are you doing with your family before Christmas?  How can you be holy together?  Click and print the image below.  Enjoy working on the Bible Verse and coloring page with your children this week.  Hope to see you next Tuesday!


*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Here's a friendly reminder that Mom's-Night-In is: THURSDAY, December 12th

We will get together for a stress-free evening, and play some get-to-know-you games (think: Apples to Apples) . I would rather not publish
the hostesses address, so please email me at saintagnesfamilies [at] gmail.com if you plan to come. Please bring a snack or drink to share!
 We will kick it off at 7:00 pm.

Weekly Digest

Monday, December 9, 2013

Welcome everyone!
This week at the parish:
  • Tuesday - Saint Agnes Playgroup (10:30 am), Choir Practice, and Fatima Apostolate (7 pm)
  • Wednesday - Bereavement Meeting (7 pm)
  • Thursday - Mom's Night In (7 pm)
  • Friday - Prep for Boston Sock Exchange (7 pm), Jesus in Boston (7:30 pm)
  • Saturday - Boston Sock Exchange (11 am)
  • Sunday - Advent Collection for HATS, Festival of Lights Trip (2:30 pm)
  • Monday - Sodality of our Lady (7 pm)
*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
We are now moving into "Winter Playgroup" mode, when Fidelity House hosts our playgroup within their building.  We owe them our thanks!  We also are grateful to Father Flatley for helping us to get a small curriculum going this year.  Bring your thinking caps and get ready to pay attention to some short activities about Advent.

Thus, Tuesday playgroup will take place at Fidelity House, right near church: 25 Medford Street, from 10:30 am-12:30 pm.
  • Please remember some behavior guidelines: No running out of the playroom, no kids in the toy closet, respect physical limits, use a time-out chair, please discipline your own children promptly, and be considerate of others!
  • Fidelity House is being very generous by letting us use this space. Please consider a donation to help with their costs. Minimum suggested donation is $1 per person in attendance.
  • Please no food.... drinks in spill proof containers are OK. 
Parking is on the street around Fidelity House. Check the street signs for the rules. Once you walk in the front door, go up the stairs, past the front desk, and to the back of the building. There is a door from the room to an outdoor courtyard, so bring your kids' coats too. We will also teach a brief lesson for the kids.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Mom's Night In - THURSDAY, December 12th - We will get together for a stress-free evening, and play some get-to-know-you games (think: Apples to Apples) . I would rather not publish the hostesses address, so please email me at saintagnesfamilies [at] gmail.com if you plan to come. Please bring a snack or drink to share!  We will kick it off at 7:00 pm.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
This Saturday, December 14th is the Boston Sock Exchange at 11:00 am at the Park Street T-Stop.  This ministry helps the homeless men and women of Boston, by distributing gifts of sandwiches and clothes near the Park Street T-Stop on the second Saturday of the month. Prep and packaging for the day is held in the parish center on Friday night, December 13th at 7:00 pm. Help and/or donations is a wonderful way to put your faith in action!  For more information, see the calendar to the right, or email Jennifer Hermanski at jennifer.hermanski [at] gmail.com.  The Boston Sock Exchange is currently in need of winter clothing, especially winter coats, SOCKS, long sleeved-shirts, sweatshirts, coats, hats, gloves, and scarves.  We also need rain gear: ponchos and umbrellas.  Thank you! 

"Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe of what the poor have
to carry, rather than stand in judgement of how they carry it." Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Need a date with your spouse that honors God as the foundation of your marriage?
Why not hire a sitter, hop on the T, and head down to town for a romantic evening of Adoring the Lord, confession, and re-commitment together?  Technically, "Jesus in Boston" is not a marriage ministry, but what a great way to renew your marriage and get time away from the kids!!  Jesus in Boston is a wonderful ministry designed for young adult Catholics in Boston.  Come and spend time with the Lord!

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
Family Mass Advent Projects:
  • Advent Families begin the 9:00 am Family Mass by reading a brief passage and lighting the Advent wreath in church.  This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to be able to participate in the liturgy together. If your family would be interested, please contact Tricia Sheehan at pmksheehan [at] gmail.com or 781-648-7709.
    In addition, the Family Liturgy Group would like to welcome new members who would be willing to work with the children of the Parish once a month, preparing them to read at the 9:00 am Family Mass. For more information, please contact Tricia Sheehan.
    • The Family Liturgy Advent Collection occurs each Sunday through Christmas, in order to help children in Arlington. Please consider bringing the following items to donate at Mass each Sunday:
      • December 1 - Socks
      • December 8 - Mittens, Gloves
      • December 15 - Hats
      • December 22 - Scarves
    • The Giving Tree is up and at the front of the church again this year. If your family is able to take an ornament off the tree and donate the assigned gift to those who are less fortunate, it would be greatly appreciated. Please return your gifts to the base of the Giving Tree before the Noon Mass on December 15th. Thank you!
    *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
    Fidelity House Volunteers Needed
    Volunteer needed for part time 2:30-5:30 afternoons answering the phone and light office work at Fidelity House, Site 2. Various other volunteer opportunities are also available. Call Fidelity House at 781-648-2005 for details.

    *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
    Making Music Praying Twice 
    Christmas Music Day: Saturday, December 21 at 10:00 am
    This one day/one hour class combines a retelling of the Christmas story with elements from MMP2 and is appropriate for children birth through age 7 with a caregiver. More information and online registration is available on the Saint Joseph Parish website . Class is limited to 20 children.


    Winter Classes: Thursdays at 10:30 am, beginning January 9th
    MMP2 session II begins on January 9 and runs through April. Registration is open for the Thursday morning class. Additional classes depend on enrollment but please contact me if you are interested in a different day and/or time. No payment necessary until the first class. Class size limited to 12 children.


    Registration for both sessions is ongoing and available online at http://www.stjoseph.belmont.ma.us/faithformation/mmpt.htm or by calling the parish office at 617-484-0279. Pre-registration helps to determine which classes will run and allows us to pre-order CDs and songbooks. No payment is necessary until the first class. Classes appropriate for children birth – age 5 with a caregiver. All classes will be held at St. Joseph Parish, 130 Common Street, Belmont, MA.


    Second Sunday of Advent - Bring Mittens and Gloves to Church

    Saturday, December 7, 2013

    We wish you a very holy and happy Second Sunday of Advent!  Here is an excerpt from the Magnificat Children's Advent Companion of 2011:

    The second candle of the Advent wreath is lit.  Let us prepare the way of the Lord: every moment of our lives is another step closer to Him.
    The Word of God is sown in our hearts: let us welcome it with love.  Look to Mary: she said Yes to God.
    We, too, can say, "Here I am, Lord!  May it be done according to Your word!  I welcome Your love with joy in my heart!"

    Many thanks to everyone - especially participants - who made the Advent Wreath Workshop a wonderful success last Sunday.  In case you were not able to come an make an Advent Wreath, check out Regina Gifts on Massachusetts Ave. in Arlington, or Wilson Farms in Lexington.  I was pleasantly surprised to find both Advent Wreaths and packs of appropriate candles in the Wilson Farms garden house!

    Furthermore, if you are looking for other ways to prepare for Christmas this year, consider the following events, below.  Each promises to be both fun and prayerful ways to spend time growing in faith with your fellow parishioner.  See below.

    *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
    Christmas Music Day: Saturday, December 21 at 10:00 am
    This one day/one hour class combines a retelling of the Christmas story with elements from MMP2 and is appropriate for children birth through age 7 with a caregiver. More information and online registration is available on the Saint Joseph Parish website . Class is limited to 20 children.  Registration is ongoing at http://www.stjoseph.belmont.ma.us/faithformation/mmpt.htm  Class will be held at St. Joseph Parish, 130 Common Street, Belmont, MA.


    *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
    Saint Agnes Family Mass Advent Projects:
    • Saint Agnes Advent Families begin the 9:00 am Family Mass by reading a brief passage and lighting the Advent wreath in church.  This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to be able to participate in the liturgy together. If your family would be interested, please contact Tricia Sheehan at pmksheehan [at] gmail.com or 781-648-7709.  In addition, the Family Liturgy Group would like to welcome new members who would be willing to work with the children of the Parish once a month, preparing them to read at the 9:00 am Family Mass. For more information, please contact Tricia Sheehan.
      • The Saint Agnes Family Liturgy Advent Collection occurs each Sunday through Christmas, in order to help children in Arlington. Please consider bringing the following items to donate at Mass each Sunday:
        • December 1 - Socks
        • December 8 - Mittens, Gloves
        • December 15 - Hats
        • December 22 - Scarves
      • The Saint Agnes Giving Tree is up and at the front of the church again this year. If your family is able to take an ornament off the tree and donate the assigned gift to those who are less fortunate, it would be greatly appreciated. Please return your gifts to the base of the Giving Tree before the Noon Mass on December 15th. Thank you!

      Baptism Briefing, Playgroup Activity, and God of this City Tour

      Tuesday, December 3, 2013

      Have you had a new baby? We wish you many heartfelt congratulations!

      Don't forget that baptisms for babies at Saint Agnes are held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at 2:00 pm. You must attend Baptismal Briefings prior to having your child baptized.


      Baptism briefings happen once a month, and you can go to one tonight! The briefing session begins at 7:00 pm in the Saint Agnes Parish Center at 51 Medford St., Arlington. The meeting usually lasts under an hour.

      If you would like to learn a little more about Christian baptism and why the Catholic Church encourages infants to be baptized, you can read about it here.

      Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the Godparent is asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The response is: “Faith!” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1253)

      Parenting is certainly not an easy task: it is filled with difficult decisions, personal setbacks and growth, expanding relationships, disagreements, love, AND forgiveness. We offer you our support and encouragement along this journey, and we invite you warmly into our parish and Christian life!

      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Today at playgroup, we learned that God loves us deeply (He made us, after all!), and He wants to be with us so that we can also love Him deeply.  We can tell how much He loves us because He came to earth to live with us, teach us, and even die (and rise) with us, so we can all go to Heaven and be with Him forever!  The start of this love story on earth is Jesus' birthday - coming soon at Christmas.  We are getting ready to love Jesus too, by preparing our hearts during the season of Advent.  We say we are sorry for our sins, and we try extra hard to serve and love our neighbor.  Click and print the image below.  Enjoy working on the Bible Verse and coloring page with your children this week.  Hope to see you next Tuesday!

      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Finally, if you are a young adult, don't for get that the God of this City tour is moving throughout Boston this week.  See the poster below (also can link to website).  Come and be with the Lord!

      Weekly Digest

      Sunday, December 1, 2013

      Welcome everyone!
      This week at the parish:
      • Tuesday - Saint Agnes Playgroup (10:30 am), Baptism Briefing, Choir Practice, and Fatima Apostolate (7 pm)
      • Wednesday - Bereavement Meeting (7 pm)
      • Thursday - First Friday Confessions (4 pm), ACHS Centerpiece Making (7 pm)
      • Friday - First Friday Adoration (all day, Benediction at 5:00, Mass at 5:30)
      • Saturday - Saint Nicholas Party (9:30 am), NFP Class (10:30 am)
      • Sunday - Advent Collection for Gloves and Mittens
      • Monday - Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Noon Mass (not an obligation this year)
      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      We are now moving into "Winter Playgroup" mode, when Fidelity House hosts our playgroup within their building.  We owe them our thanks!  We also are grateful to Father Flatley for helping us to get a small curriculum going this year.  Bring your thinking caps and get ready to pay attention to some short activities about Advent.

      Thus, Tuesday playgroup will take place at Fidelity House, right near church: 25 Medford Street, from 10:30 am-12:30 pm.
      • Please remember some behavior guidelines: No running out of the playroom, no kids in the toy closet, respect physical limits, use a time-out chair, please discipline your own children promptly, and be considerate of others!
      • Fidelity House is being very generous by letting us use this space. Please consider a donation to help with their costs. Minimum suggested donation is $1 per person in attendance.
      • Please no food.... drinks in spill proof containers are OK. 
      Parking is on the street around Fidelity House. Check the street signs for the rules. Once you walk in the front door, go up the stairs, past the front desk, and to the back of the building. There is a door from the room to an outdoor courtyard, so bring your kids' coats too. We will also teach a brief lesson for the kids.

      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Baptism Briefing
      Don't forget that baptisms for babies at Saint Agnes are held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at 2:00 pm. You must attend Baptismal Briefings prior to having your child baptized.

      Baptism briefings happen once a month, and you can go to one on Tuesday night! The briefing session begins at 7:00 pm in the Saint Agnes Parish Center at 51 Medford St., Arlington. The meeting usually lasts under an hour.

      If you would like to learn a little more about Christian baptism and why the Catholic Church encourages infants to be baptized, you can read about it here.

      Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the Godparent is asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The response is: “Faith!” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1253)

      Parenting is certainly not an easy task: it is filled with difficult decisions, personal setbacks and growth, expanding relationships, disagreements, love, AND forgiveness. We offer you our support and encouragement along this journey, and we invite you warmly into our parish and Christian life!

      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      This Friday, December 6th, is the first Friday of the month.  On Thursday, December 5th from 4:00-5:00 pm, there will be the opportunity for confession in the lower church.  On Friday, Saint Agnes will be offering all-day Adoration, concluding with Benediction and Mass at 5:00/5:30pm, in the lower church. Also at noon there will be a Holy Hour to pray for priests and victims of clergy sexual abuse. Adoration is a wonderful opportunity to spend some quiet time with the Lord and gain some focus in our lives - especially with all the busy distractions of family life. For more background on the long tradition of keeping a First Friday devotion, look here or here.

      Due to conflicts, First Friday playgroup is cancelled this month. We hope you can join us in January!


      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Finally, don't forget that this Friday (Dec. 6) is the Feast of Saint Nick!  Taking time to learn about Saint Nicholas can be a wonderful way to help your children make the connection between Jesus' birthday, opening our hearts to Christ, giving gifts, and sharing
      sacrificially with those around us.  You can read Saint Nick's bio here.

      You can also TAKE your kids to a Saint Nicholas day party at the Lexington parishes of Sacred Heart / Saint Brigid on Saturday morning.  See details below, and be sure to RSVP by December 5th!

      Holy Families of Faith of the Lexington Catholic Community invites all families with children ages 6 and under to a celebration in honor of St. Nicholas!

      The celebration is Saturday, December 7th, from 9:30-11:30 am at Sacred Heart Parish Center (21 Follen Rd., Lexington). We will have games, activities, stories and songs, treats, and perhaps a visit from the good bishop himself!

      RSVP to stnicklexington@gmail.com by December 5th.  Siblings and Grandparents welcome! A suggested donation of $5/child ($15 family cap) is appreciated.  Let’s be glad and full of cheer, good St. Nicholas will soon be here!






      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Family Mass Advent Projects:
      • Advent Families begin the 9:00 am Family Mass by reading a brief passage and lighting the Advent wreath in church.  This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to be able to participate in the liturgy together. If your family would be interested, please contact Tricia Sheehan at pmksheehan [at] gmail.com or 781-648-7709.
        In addition, the Family Liturgy Group would like to welcome new members who would be willing to work with the children of the Parish once a month, preparing them to read at the 9:00 am Family Mass. For more information, please contact Tricia Sheehan.
      • The Family Liturgy Advent Collection occurs each Sunday through Christmas, in order to help children in Arlington. Please consider bringing the following items to donate at Mass each Sunday:
        • December 1 - Socks
        • December 8 - Mittens, Gloves
        • December 15 - Hats
        • December 22 - Scarves
      • The Giving Tree is up and at the front of the church again this year. If your family is able to take an ornament off the tree and donate the assigned gift to those who are less fortunate, it would be greatly appreciated. Please return your gifts to the base of the Giving Tree before the Noon Mass on December 15th. Thank you!
      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Fidelity House Volunteers Needed
      Volunteer needed for part time 2:30-5:30 afternoons answering the phone and light office work at Fidelity House, Site 2. Various other volunteer opportunities are also available. Call Fidelity House at 781-648-2005 for details.

      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Making Music Praying Twice 
      Christmas Music Day: Saturday, December 21 at 10:00 am
      This one day/one hour class combines a retelling of the Christmas story with elements from MMP2 and is appropriate for children birth through age 7 with a caregiver. More information and online registration is available on the Saint Joseph Parish website . Class is limited to 20 children.


      Winter Classes: Thursdays at 10:30 am, beginning January 9th
      MMP2 session II begins on January 9 and runs through April. Registration is open for the Thursday morning class. Additional classes depend on enrollment but please contact me if you are interested in a different day and/or time. No payment necessary until the first class. Class size limited to 12 children.


      Registration for both sessions is ongoing and available online at http://www.stjoseph.belmont.ma.us/faithformation/mmpt.htm or by calling the parish office at 617-484-0279. Pre-registration helps to determine which classes will run and allows us to pre-order CDs and songbooks. No payment is necessary until the first class. Classes appropriate for children birth – age 5 with a caregiver. All classes will be held at St. Joseph Parish, 130 Common Street, Belmont, MA.

      First Sunday of Advent, Make your own Wreath, and Feast of Saint Nicholas

      Saturday, November 30, 2013

      How was your Thanksgiving weekend?  Are you wondering what to do, now that the food hangover has worn off?
      Why not start the season of Advent off right, by coming to our parish Advent Wreath Program tomorrow!
      This craft will be held on Sunday, December 2nd in the Saint Agnes School Hall, following the 9:00 and 10:30 am Sunday Masses.
      Join us!

      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Finally, don't forget that this Friday(Dec. 6) is the Feast of Saint Nick!  Taking time to learn about Saint Nicholas can be a wonderful way to help your children make the connection between Jesus' birthday, opening our hearts to Christ, giving gifts, and sharing
      sacrificially with those around us.  You can read Saint Nick's bio here.

      You can also TAKE your kids to a Saint Nicholas day party at the Lexington parishes of Sacred Heart / Saint Brigid on Saturday morning.  See details below, and be sure to RSVP by December 5th!

      Holy Families of Faith of the Lexington Catholic Community invites all families with children ages 6 and under to a celebration in honor of St. Nicholas!

      The celebration is Saturday, December 7th, from 9:30-11:30 am at Sacred Heart Parish Center (21 Follen Rd., Lexington). We will have games, activities, stories and songs, treats, and perhaps a visit from the good bishop himself!

      RSVP to stnicklexington@gmail.com by December 5th.  Siblings and Grandparents welcome! A suggested donation of $5/child ($15 family cap) is appreciated.  Let’s be glad and full of cheer, good St. Nicholas will soon be here!

      Catholic Reading Wednesday and Thanksgiving Mass

      Wednesday, November 27, 2013

      Did you ever stop to think what a wealthy country (even region of our country) you are blessed to live in?
      Of the outpouring of community, health, rich food, social stability, and access to education that we have?
      We all have troubles and crosses in daily life. We also enjoy innumerable blessings.

      Could we find the strength to offer God a "sacrifice of praise" even if we had NONE of these blessings,
      as many Catholics around the world do each day?

      Join our Parish Community tonight at
      7:00 pm for the Thanksgiving Eve Mass

      Let's rejoice and THANK HIM!
      And let's also set our hearts and our praise on the Lord, putting all things in the proper order,
      to draw close to Him and learn how we should use these blessings as He wills.
      Love and generosity always require sacrifice if they are to be truly good and enjoyed, having the power to change hearts and lives.
      May His abundant blessings never fall on infertile ground.

      "The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord is the maker of them all."
      (Proverbs 22:2)
      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      With many thanks to our awesome curator, Karen Celano, you can delve into a faith-related news article each Wednesday! Karen writes:

      Thanksgiving Day is coming! In between your turkey and pumpkin pie, I invite you to take a moment to think about the historical and theological aspects of this national tradition, which has its roots in English Christianity but which is very different from what the Pilgrims of our national myth would have conceived.

      In her article explaining the history of Thanksgiving, Eve LaPlante explains that the Calvinist ("Pilgrim") tradition of declaring days of thanksgiving emerged, in part, as a reactionary response to the Catholic tradition of a set calendar of feasts and fasts. Calvinists felt that the Catholic calendar, with its pre-established "holidays" or holy days, encouraged spiritual laziness and a lack of attentiveness to God's immediate presence in the world. Thus, to have Thanksgiving on a set and established day each year would, actually, be quite upsetting to the very anti-ritualistic Pilgrims, who saw their thanksgivings as spontaneous responses to what they perceived as acts of God on their behalf.

      Our tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on a fixed date every year began with Abraham Lincoln, who sought to cheer up a war-torn nation while also providing a vision of hope that the country could be reunited (as, supposedly, the Indians and the Pilgrims were). It has been argued that Lincoln's presidency inaugurated a new era in American "civil religion" (in other words, America's understanding of itself and its institutions in theological and religious terms), and Lincoln certainly was aware of the power of ritual, symbol, and myth to unite a culture and a people. What is also remarkable about Lincoln's proclamation is that it unites the concepts of thanksgiving and repentance: "while offering up the ascriptions justly due to [God] for such singular deliverances and blessings," he declares, Americans should also express "humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience." This Thanksgiving, perhaps we should follow Lincoln's example, and unite our prayers of gratitude to prayers of repentance for our own sins and the sins of the world.

      Catholics, of course, have long understood the importance of ritual, symbol and shared myth in creating unity, and they have also long understood the relationship between repentance and thanksgiving. For Catholics, every Mass we attend is a Thanksgiving feast, as the word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek for thanksgiving. Even more literally, the word eucharistia in Greek means good gift of grace. In her reflection on the relationship between the Mass and Thanksgiving, Marina McCoy speaks about the Mass as a cyclical giving of gifts: God gives to us, we return to God, God bestows upon us even more. The catch, however, is that we must be willing to give back to God what He gives to us - and to give it back "wholly and without reserve." Giving back to God can be very difficult and distressing, and it can even cause grief and despair - think of Abraham's sorrow when asked to sacrifice Isaac - but through Scripture and the Eucharist we know that in giving back to God we receive from God in abundance again, even if we can't immediately see how.

      The idea of the Eucharist as a cycle of gift-giving puts me in mind of Jesus' parable of the talents, in which the Master bestows gold on his servants, praises them when they invest it wisely, and chastises them when they hide it in fear. Often I feel that in our narcissistic culture we interpret this parable as meaning that we should not be shy but rather let our "talents" shine forth. But I think there's actually a much deeper meaning here. If the gift of gold represents a blessing from God, then the Master is praising those who are willing to risk the gift, to labor and strive with the gift, and perhaps even to suffer for the sake of the gift. The Master condemns the one who clings to the gift, who is not willing to put it to use for fear of losing it. The message is that each of God's blessings - each of His gifts - is also a responsibility and a challenge, and when we give thanks to God for all that He has blessed us with, we must also be willing to return those blessings to God - we must be willing to give up the gifts if God asks us, and we must be willing to suffer and toil with and for the gifts He has given us.

      The person who modeled this dynamic best was, of course, Christ Himself. The irony of the Eucharist is that it is an act of thanksgiving in the midst of great suffering: Christ is unjustly murdered, but His death becomes a thanksgiving gift to God for the sake of those who murdered Him. Alexander Schmemann, a Russian Orthodox priest and theologian who spent his life studying the Eucharist, understood the way in which great suffering can be a vessel to great joy through the Eucharist, and he lived out this understanding in his own life. Though he was dying of cancer, during the last liturgy he celebrated (which providentially happened to be on Thanksgiving Day), he delivered this humble and touching prayer of thanks, which expresses gratitude to God for suffering, which, he says, purifies us and turns our minds towards the 'one thing needed': the Kingdom of God. As we give thanks to God this year, let's also keep in mind those who are suffering, and let's try to pray for the grace to turn our own sorrows into "good gifts of grace": Eucharistic and thanksgiving gifts to God.

      Support Fidelity House, Playgroup Activity, Saint Nick on Saturday!

      Tuesday, November 26, 2013

      Wondering where to eat out tonight?  Each Tuesday in November, you can help support Fidelity House by dining at Not Your Average Joe's (Arlington location is within walking distance of church).  Click and print the coupon below and bring it to your dinner.  Enjoy!

      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Today at playgroup we had our fourth lesson of the winter, talking about Advent as a season of penance and preparation!  Using playdough and (nearly-appropriately) colored birthday candles, the children made their own small Advent Wreaths to remind themselves to get their hearts "cleaned up" and ready to welcome the infant Jesus.  Click and print the handout below, which also goes along with the Advent Wreath Workshop this coming Sunday.  Enjoy working on the Bible Verse and coloring page with your children this week.  Hope to see you next Tuesday!

      *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
      Finally, don't forget that next Friday is the Feast of Saint Nick!  Taking time to learn about Saint Nicholas can be a wonderful way to help your children make the connection between Jesus' birthday, opening our hearts to Christ, giving gifts, and sharing sacrificially with those around us.  You can read Saint Nick's bio here.

      You can also TAKE your kids to a Saint Nicholas day party at the Lexington parishes of Sacred Heart / Saint Brigid on Saturday morning.  See details below, and be sure to RSVP by December 5th!

      Holy Families of Faith of the Lexington Catholic Community invites all families with children ages 6 and under to a celebration in honor of St. Nicholas!

      The celebration is Saturday, December 7th, from 9:30-11:30 am at Sacred Heart Parish Center (21 Follen Rd., Lexington). We will have games, activities, stories and songs, treats, and perhaps a visit from the good bishop himself!

      RSVP to stnicklexington@gmail.com by December 5th.  Siblings and Grandparents welcome! A suggested donation of $5/child ($15 family cap) is appreciated.  Let’s be glad and full of cheer, good St. Nicholas will soon be here!