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Don't forget that Tuesday, January 1st is a holy day of obligation as we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. There will be three opportunities to fulfill this obligation:

Monday, Dec. 31st- 7:00 pm (Vigil Mass)

Tuesday, Jan. 1st- 9:00 am (English); 10:30 am (Tridentine)

It is important, as we welcome in the new year, to begin by asking the Mother of God to watch over us and to interced for us as we begin the new civil year.

* A note about the icon is entitled "Theotokos of the Unburned Bush." I was intrigued by it when I came upon it online. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is often refered to as the new Moses. This icon depicts the Blessed Mother as the "burning bush" through whom God is revealed. In the left corner is Moses who, as we all know, fell prostrate before the burning bush when he realized whose presence he was in.



Mass for the Nativity of Our Lord will be celebrated at the following times:

Dec. 24th at 6:00 pm (Children's Mass)

Dec. 24th at 9:00 pm (Vigil Mass)

Dec. 25th at midnight (Yes, midnight Mass is at midnight!)

Dec. 25th at 10:00 am (Christmas morning Mass)

On behalf of the staff of St. Nicholas Church, I would like to wish all of you a very blessed Christmas. May this most holy of seasons draw us all more deeply into the love of God as we contemplate the Incarnation.

Grant, we pray, almighty God,

that, as we are bathed in the new radiance of the incarnate Word,

the light of faith, which illumines our minds,

may also shine through in our deeds.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.


Give Christ the Greatest Gift Possible--A Clean Soul (Confession)

As we do every year, we are once again offering the opportunity to prepare for the Nativity of Christ by setting aside extra time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). What better gift to give Christ as we celebrate His historical coming and prepare ourselves for His coming at the end of time by cleansing our souls by confessing our sins and asking for His healing mercy to be upon us. While the Church expects that we go to Confession at least once a year, this is simply a BARE MINIMUM!! My suggestion is that we avail ourselves of the Sacrament at least four times a year (with the changing of the seasons) or more if it is needed. Frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation not only allows Christ's grace into our wounded hearts, but also provides us with the strength to be able to more adequately confront and deal with those sins and failings we are prone to.

Opportunities for Confession abound. The following communal Reconciliation Services are taking place in the next two weeks:

Sun (12/09) @ 7:00 pm- Eielson Air Force Base

Mon (12/10) @ 7:00 pm- Saint Nicholas Church (we will have 10 confessors available)

Tue (12/11) @ 7:00 pm- Immaculate Conception Church

Tue (12/18) @ 7:00 pm- Sacred Heart Cathedral

Wed (12/19) @ 7:00 pm- St. Raphael Church

Confession is also available every Saturday from 4:00-4:45 pm. And, as you have all heard me say over and over, "Any time, anywhere, except Monday (cuz that's my day off)!"

In order for the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be fruitful it is important that you prepare yourself ahead of time. There are a number of resources available at the church or online to begin those preparations. A couple of good examinations of conscience can be found here and here. For those of you who are more tech-savy, there is a Confession app that is approved by the Church. It allows you to enter your age, gender, and vocation (i.e., married, single, priest, etc.). The app will then provide a customized examination of conscience AND give you an opportunity to create a list which you can bring into the confessional with you. It is password protected and allows for multiple users to create different accounts. The app can downloaded here.

Whether it has been two weeks or 20 years since your last confession, take advantage of this opportunity to receive God's grace, mercy and love into your life. The priests are there simply to be God's instruments of that love and grace. We are imperfect, sinful human beings who are just as much in need of Confession as anyone else. We are not there to judge, to chastise, or to belittle those seeking God's mercy. Give Christ the best gift you possibly can...a contrite heart seeking his forgiveness!


Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Tonight Through Tomorrow!

Tonight we will celebrate the Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at 7:00 pm. After Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for adoration. Feel free to drop by the parish and spend time with our Lord in the Eucharist any time from 8:00 pm Friday night through 5:00 pm Saturday afternoon. This is an incredible opportunity to open yourself up to the grace and power of Christ truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity. In adoration He will speak to your heart as you make room for him during this Advent season. Take time out of your busy schedule and make ready the manger of your soul for the indwelling of God made Man.


Quotes are taken from The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association.


"The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with Him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in Heaven, and will help bring about everlasting peace on earth,"

- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

"I adore and venerate you as much as ever I can, though my love is so cold, my devotion so poor. Thank you for the good gift of this your holy Body and Blood, which I desire to receive...,"

- St. Anselm (Archbishop and Doctor of the Church)

"When I was in Church waiting for confession, I saw the same rays (that is, as those depicted on the revealed image of the Divine Mercy) issuing from the monstrance and they spread throughout the church. This lasted all through the service. After the benediction (the rays came forth) on both sides and returned again to the monstrance. Their appearance was bright and clear as crystal. I asked Jesus that He deign to light the fire of His love in all souls that were cold. Beneath these rays a heart will be warmed even if it were like a block of ice; even if it were as hard as rock, it will crumble into dust,"

- St. Faustina Kowalska

"My Lord Jesus Christ, who, for the love You bear to mankind, do remain night and day in this Sacrament, full of pity and love, awaiting, calling, and receiving all who come to visit You; I believe that You are present in the Sacrament of the Altar; I adore You from the depths of my own nothingness; I thank You for the many graces You have given me, and especially for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament...,"

- St. Alphonsus Ligouri

"Without [these] lights and [this] little throne our Lord cannot come out of His tabernacle. We give them to Him, and we say to Him: 'Thou are on a beautiful throne. It is we that have erected it for Thee. It is we that have opened the door of Thy prison and rent the cloud that hid Thee, O Sun of Love. Dart Thy rays now on every heart,'"

- St. Peter Julian Eymard

"Blessed be Thou, my Lord Jesus Christ, who didst foretell Thy death before the time, and in the Last Supper didst wonderfully consecrate Thy precious Body of material bread, and also charitably gave it to Thy Apostles, in memory of Thy most worthy Passion,"

- St. Bridget

"Just as the divine Redeemer, dying on the Cross, offered Himself as Head of the whole human race to the eternal Father, so also in this "clean oblation" (Mal 1:2), He, as Head of the Church, offers not only Himself but, in Himself, all His mystical members."

"In this manner [Eucharistic adoration] the faithful testify to and solemnly make evident the Faith of the Church according to which the Word of God and the Son of the Virgin Mary who suffered on the Cross, who lies present hidden in the Eucharist, and who reigns in heaven are believed to be identical."

- Pope Pius XII

If the Word of God is living and powerful, and if the Lord does all things whatsoever he wills; if he said, "Let there be light", and it happened; if he said, "let there be a firmament", and it happened; ...if finally the Word of God himself willingly became man and made flesh for himself out of the most pure and undefiled blood of the holy and ever Virgin, why should he not be capable of making bread his Body and wine and water his Blood?... God said, "This is my Body", and "This is my Blood."

- St. John of Damascus



Would the Real St. Nicholas Pray For Us?

Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra, our patron saint, and the inspiration for the commercialized character who has become known as Santa Clause. While jolly old St. Nick is a fun, elvish character who brings smiles to children's faces as the anxiously await his visit on Dec. 24th, the story of the real St. Nicholas is much more inspiring and consistent with our Christian faith. Not only was he known for his great generosity he was a great defender of Christ's divinity at the Council of Nicea (325). During this holy season of Advent let us pray for his intercession, that we too may be known for the good works that we do in Christ's name and for our staunch defense of God and His Church.

Below is a reflection from Fr. Lawrence Farley on the real St. Nicholas. Father Farley is a priest of the Orthodox Church of America. A link to the original article can be found here.St. Nicholas, the Wonderworker

The Real St. Nicholas

One of the things I hate about going shopping during the season of the Christmas rush is the music that is piped in over the mall sound system.  I would happy with traditional renderings of the old carols, but instead, my ears are assaulted with the latest auditory atrocity, celebrating Christmas as a time of consumerism, indulgence, and fun in the snow.  And often, to make matters worse, we have St. Nicholas forced to preside over all this—or, as he is described by these contemporary songs, “jolly old St. Nick”.

Some of the transformation of St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, into jolly ol’ St. Nick (aka “Santa Claus”) can be laid at the door of the old 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” attributed to Clement Clark Moore.  It is more popularly known as the poem “Twas the Night before Christmas”.  Many details from the poem have become part of the popular mythology of Santa Claus and his secret gift-giving on Christmas eve.  Stockings were hung by the chimney with care, and the children were nestled all snug in their beds.  St. Nicholas appeared on his miniature sleigh full of toys, pulled by his eight tiny reindeer.  This St. Nick came down the chimney with a bound, the stump of a pipe held tight in his teeth, his little round belly shaking when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.  Not a lot of holy reverence here; he was a right jolly old elf, and the householder laughed when he saw him, in spite of himself.

I think it is worth comparing this St. Nicholas, who lives at the North Pole, with the real one, who lives in heaven.  The main contrasts are three in number.

First, the real St. Nicholas, as found in his icons, is a lot thinner.  That is, he points us toward asceticism and self-denial as the prescribed path to fulfillment.  The real St. Nicholas is not portrayed iconographically as having a “little round belly,” nor does he appear as “a right jolly old elf” who provokes involuntary laughter.  He appears as a man of God, a hierarch in the holy Church, someone of a serene countenance who comes from much prayer and fasting.  Jolly ol’ St. Nick calls his followers to eating and spending sprees, to buying more and more, even if they go into debt to pay for it, and his pre-Christmas feast day is known as “Black Friday.”  St. Nicholas the wonderworker of Myra in Lycia calls his followers to take up their cross and follow Christ, and his pre-Christmas feast day is marked on December 6, in the middle of a fast.  It is not characterized by a mad scramble to buy, but by worship of the living God.  But some festivity is allowed at a feast:  we love St. Nicholas so much that even on this fast day we are allowed fish, oil, and wine.

Secondly, the real St. Nicholas carries a Gospel, not a bag full of toys which seem to be liberally distributed whether or not one is naughty or nice.  Santa Claus is rarely without his sack of loot; St. Nicholas is never without the Gospel.  As a bishop, his main task was preaching and rightly defining the Word of Truth, so of course he carries that holy Book.  It contains the words which are the most precious to him, and which he constantly preached to his flock in Asia Minor.  As his icon shows, it is his message to us today as well.  And this message of St. Nicholas is identical with that of his Lord:  “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Finally, the real St. Nicholas knows that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), whereas Santa Claus would have us believe that it is more blessed to receive than to give.  Santa is about receiving—that is why young children do not traditionally ask each other, “What did you give others for Christmas?” but rather, “What did you get for Christmas?”  Santa is the patron saint of consumerism.  The authentic St. Nicholas knows that while it is important to receive graciously, almsgiving still results in receiving more grace.  Obviously Christmas morning knows both giving and receiving, and parents will attest that the real fun is watching their children receive.  There is good in both giving and receiving.  St. Nicholas knows this and can keep the two in balance; Santa tends to forget and focus mostly on receiving.

None of the above meditations are offered in a Scrooge-like spirit.  Contrasting the true St. Nicholas with the false one does not imply that “Christmas is a humbug,” as the pre-conversion Ebenezer thought.  I like Christmas:  the tree-decorating, hearing from long-absent friends through Christmas cards, the Christmas day turkey.  I even like the gift-giving.  I am not much threatened by Santa Claus; I simply don’t mistake him for St. Nicholas.  That is, I think that however much (or little) we enjoy the pre-Christmas season, we must discern that there are in fact two kinds of Christmas celebrated concurrently in our culture.  One is about consumerism and over-indulgence, pure and simple.  Jesus has little to do with it, which is why in some places the public display of a crèche or saying “Merry Christmas” provokes opposition.  The other Christmas is our own Christian feast, the commemoration (as the service book says) of “The Nativity according to the Flesh of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ.”  We can partake of both, so long as we remember which one has priority.  The contrast between jolly old St. Nick and the true St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia reminds us of the differences between the two Christmases