Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
There's an old saying, I believe, that speaks a truth.  "If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you get."  I have come to the unhappy conclusion that such is the case when it comes to the times I make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available to all who recognize the need for us to be reconciled to God and His people, the Church, on a regular basis.  I can attest to more than a few people who tell me that they don't come to Confession more often because:  "At my age, I don't sin like I used to."  I want to analyze such a statement.  I will say that sin happens through our thoughts, words and deeds which covers much ground for all of us to ponder if our entire being is continually giving praise to God and doing good in the name of Jesus for others.

I challenge all of us to consider going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often in this new year and be blessed with the graces we receive from God, the opportunity to practice humility (especially as we confess our sins), and the opportunity to do our part to make the Body of Christ whole and healthier than it is.  To that end, I have decided to change scheduled times for the Sacrament as follows.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I will offer the Sacrament after the morning Mass until 10:00 a.m.  On Wednesdays and Fridays (and Mondays when we have Mass), I will continue to offer the Sacrament from 8:30 a.m. to 8:50 a.m.  On the weekends I will offer the Sacrament on Saturday from 1:00-2:00 p.m. and 3:30-3:45 p.m., and on Sunday from 7:30-7:45 a.m. and 9:30-9:45 a.m.  Finally, the Sacrament will be offered on Tuesdays when we have one of our Sacred Heart Men's meetings - from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m.  If I need to increase those scheduled times by some minutes, I will gladly do so.

I promise to make your experience of Reconciliation a positive and helpful one.  Also, if you are at the stage of life when your memory is not so good, I encourage you, if you would like, to have your sins written down before you come and/or be ready to say a general confession that you have sinned and want the blessings of forgiveness and peace that God and the Church are so ready to give.

I hope those who agree to participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often (at least monthly or bi-monthly) will come out and go around echoing the words of a song which say:   "Peace is flowing like a river, flowing our of you and me. . ."
Firstly, I want to take time to thank all those who took a service roll in our Christmas Masses, especially our music people led by our organist and choir director, Lynne Border.  Those who partiipated in the 4:00 p.m. Vigil Mass or 10:00 a.m. Christmas Mass were treated to the beautiful opera-quality voice of Bill and Kathleen Nosek's grand daughter, Natalie.  She was simply wonderful in the two songs she sang solo.  I also want to thank those who helped in ALL that went in to our Angel Tree efforts to help needy families.  I applaud and thank you for your efforts.  Ed and Claudia Keearns coordinated this effort and along with others, make it run seemingly like clockwork.  Thanks to all!  Lastly on things related to Christmas, I thank all those who donated to the Clergy Welfare Fund that provides the funding to support our diocesan priests in their retirement as well as our sick and infirmed priests.

I also really appreciate those who take the time to bless me at Christmas with beautiful Christmas cards, novena prayers, material gifts, and kind, supportive words of thanks.  You are such a special blessing to me.

As I had in mind what the rest of my pastor's column would be about this week, I noticed that right across from where my column would be when it is finished, are images of the Holy Family and another picture of a baby.  My topic was to be, and  still is, about the importance of the most innocent and fragile of human beings, babies both inside and outside of their mother's womb.  As we contemplate Jesus when He was born to Mary and the earliest times of His life during the Christmas season, we give thanks and praise to God for His life and what He ultimately did for us (through His passion, death and resurrection), we are urged and encouraged to keep the focus on babies, especially those of our time, and protect and support them in ways that we can.  To that end, I would encourage not only attendance at the March for Life on January 21, (see announcement to the right of this column), but also to consider giving to "Arkansas Right to Life" which advocates for legal protection of children in their mother's womb.  Thier address is 1515 South University Ave, Little Rock, AR 72204.  I also ask everyone to participate in our parish baby shower by bringing baby items to church (see announcement to the right of this column).  These will be given out to moms who need help to care for their children.  Please don't just look at the babies on this page and smile.  Do something for them in your name and in the name of Jesus Christ, the author of all life!
I can honestly say that I, and more than a few of our parishioners, received an early Christmas present in attending the Ordination and/or First Mass of "Father" Nelson Rubio.  In the beautiful setting of the Cathedral of St. Andrew  in Little Rock, some witnessed Nelson receiving the priesthood through prayer and the silent "Laying on of Hands" by Bishop Taylor than by all the priests who were concelebrating the Ordination Mass.  We watched the bishop anoint his hands with the Sacred Chrism and be vested with a priest's stole and chasuble.  Finally, Father Rubio joined with other priests in praying the words of consecration along with Bishop Taylor and took a solo part of the Eucharistic Prayer.  At the end of the Mass, Father Rubio offered his first blessing to the bishop who knelt before him and then to the rest of the congregation.

Speaking of "Consecration," those who participated in Father Rubio's First Mass were touched, and will long remember Father Rubio's cracking and tears coming down his eyes as he spoke the words of consecreation with the priests concelebrating, saying the words with him.  His long journey to the priesthood that was delayed for awhile in Venezuela and which brought him to Arkansas to be a priest for our diocese and included a serious sickness which still weakens his body at times, has ended, and his new life as a priest of God has begun.  He thanked everyone, especially you, our parishioners, for your love and support these past few years as his adopted parish family.

I also thank you for helping to get Father Nelson to this "life-changing" point in his life.  Continued prayers for him as he begins serving the people of God with Father Rueben Quinteros in Marche and North Little Rock are needed and will be appreciated.

I want to thank our Ladies of the Sacred Heart, our Knights of Columbus, and our Men's Club for the support they have given to Father Nelson, and our parishioners who gifted him.  Finally, for those who were not at the First Mass reception, I want you to know that the parish gifted Father Nelson with four beautiful chasubels for him to wear as he celebrates Mass in the future.

Thanks to Parish Life coordinators Sherrie Nichols, Jennifer Rivera, as well as Cathy Silk, and all those who brought food for the reception.  It was nicely set-up and the food was delicious.

Let's remember Nelson at Christmas as he celebrates his first Christmas Masses and rests before his new ministry begins.

Finally, a Blessed Christmas Season from me to all of our parishioners and your families.  May God's love and peace fill your hearts in a special way on these special days.