God is Good!

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

The Favorite Son Of The Town

Angels announcing Christ’s birth to the Shepherds. Govert Flinck
Via Wikipedia

The setting sun cast long shadows across the narrow streets of Bethlehem as the procession made its way to the town square. Once a year, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the town authorities permit a religious, outdoor ceremony to the Christian people of Bethlehem.

We knelt in the dusty roadbed as the priest placed the Monstrance with Its Holy Presence up on the temporary altar. As the cloud of incense rose into the hot evening air, we sang songs of adoration and praise to the Holy Child, born there over 2000 years ago.

By the daily miracle of the Holy Eucharist, the Child remains with His people without turning into a museum piece, a “has been” hero of ancient times. On that June day, of years ago, I thrilled that the Child who made Bethlehem famous rested on the altar a few feet from me.

Just as the shepherds knelt in love for the Little One announced by the angels on the first Christmas Night, I was experiencing the same emotions they felt: peace, a sense of wonder, and thankfulness for the Presence of the Child from Heaven. The Arab bus carried me back to Jerusalem in the darkness, yet my heart was overwhelmed with joy.

This weekend, we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We pray that the truth of Christ, His Love, His Peace, and His Compassion stay with us and we don’t take His coming for granted, as we do the rising and the setting of the sun each day. The Child of Bethlehem remains with us in our daily pilgrimage, strengthening and encouraging us to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind.

Happy New Year!

Fr. George McKenna

December 30, 2017 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , | 11 Comments

Great Expectations

A Memorable Mass
After 73 years of celebrating Mass, I look upon this Mass in Bethel, Alaska, as a memory I will always treasure. Bethel (House of God) sounds like Bethlehem (House of Bread.). . . .
The coldness of the Bethel Chapel, much as it was in the stable of the First Christmas, told me of the hardships the Child, Mary and Joseph went through for my sake. . . .
The rough wooden altar – how similar to the manger where the Child was laid. The presence of the Eskimo mother helped me understand the coming of the shepherds to the place of Jesus’ birth.

Dear Readers – Each year I repost this entry, it is one of my favorite Christmas Memories.

41 years ago, in 1976, a short time before Christmas, I was living in the town of Bethel (pop. 3,500), in faraway Alaska, close to the Bering Sea. Bethel had no roads leading out from it, except one to the airport, three miles away. The only way to visit Bethel was by plane, by way of two jet flights each day from Anchorage, 500 miles away. Not a single road ran between Bethel and Anchorage.

One windy Saturday night I left our Rectory at the Immaculate Conception Mission to drive to the town’s Community Chapel on the other side of Bethel to offer evening Mass. The howling, screeching wind made driving our Chevy Van extremely difficult.

Arriving early, I found it nearly impossible to coax any heat out of the oil stove. Inside, the temperature almost equaled the outside conditions at -10 degrees F and a wind chill of -50 degree F. I pulled the altar as close as possible to the stove and put on my vestments over my great fur parka. To anyone present I looked like a warrior from outer space. That night, my only congregation consisted of a young Eskimo mother and her three little boys, with ages of two, three and four.

With breath coming from my lips in clouds, I prayed the simple, touching words of the Mass . . . “The Lord be with you . . . Lift up your hearts . . . Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.” All through the Mass, the youngest child played under the altar at my feet. At the words of the Consecration, spoken by an ordinary human being, the Lord, The King of Kings, came down on our poor, rough altar. After my own communion, I offered This Humble King to the little mother, with her face almost hidden in the parka. At the finish of Mass, without a word, she and her little ones hastened out into the frightful darkness.

Emmanuel – God with us! How consoling and uplifting to have Jesus, the humble, gracious

A Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
Fr. George McKenna

King of Love, with us. From His place in Heaven, He heard my words, “This is My Body . . . This is My Blood” and came down to the vast wilderness of Western Alaska to be with me and the Eskimo family. What faith this little Eskimo mother had to venture out, with her little ones, on a winter’s night, filled with a gale-like wind, to give worship to the Child of Bethlehem.

What message did she receive in her heart that night to bring her to the Holy Child? The shepherds, on the first Christmas night, heard heavenly voices announcing the Birth of the Savior. Like these shepherds, the young faith filled Eskimo mother returned home, rich with heavenly gifts. The moral of the Bethel story above is to treasure the Presence of the Child of Bethlehem in our lives. On this Christmas Day, 2017, we will make every sacrifice to leave our warm homes to offer worship in our Houses of Prayer!

December 23, 2017 Posted by | Bulletins | , , | 9 Comments