Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
The diary of St. Faustina, which was written by her from 1934-38, contained her thoughts, prayers and reported visions and conversations she had with Jesus on "Divine Mercy."  In one particular excerpt she is told to write this:  "I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin.  I cannot love a soul that is stained with sin; but when it repents, there is no limit to My generosity toward it.  My mercy embraces and justifies it.  With My mercy, I pursue sinners all along their paths, and My heart rejoices when they return to me. . .   Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart. . . when will it beat for Me."  I thought this would be a good passage to quote and reflect upon in light of our upcoming Advent Reconciliation Service this Tuesday, December 19, at 4:30 p.m.

Whether we have sinned slightly or gravely, the Lord wants to be generous in forgiving us all of our sins.  John the Baptist continues to cry out "Prepare the Way for the Lord.  Make straight his paths." (Mk 1:3).

I pray that many of us will heed the call and give time to join "fellow sinners" in our communal Word service and consider going to individual Confession to the six or more priests who will be with us that day.  If you cannot be there for the start of the service, please come when you can as our priests should be here until at least 6:00 p.m.  The greatest gift you can give yourself BEFORE Christmas is an experience with our merciful Lord and rejoice in the peace that he gives to us through his forgiveness and that of his Body, the Church.

For those who can't join us on Tuesday, I will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Friday, December 22, and Saturday, December 23, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (and the normal times:  8:30-8:50 a.m. on weekdays, 3:15-3:45 p.m. on Saturday, and 7:15-7:45 a.m. on Sunday).
I am the first to admit that I have yet to embrace all aspects of social media including Twitter, tweeting and Facebook.  I am also deficient when it comes to all the things one can do on the computer and Internet.  I can do enough things to be helped in my ministry, especially when it comes to e-mail and "Googling" to get further information on something.  I'm not sure where most of you are when it comes to using the Internet, but I am excited to tell those of you who do use it, that our parish has joined a network called FORMED, which gives our parishioners access to many religious instructional, spiritual and entertainment possibilites.  This will aid in home efforts to grow in your faith as well as continued possibilities to use materials that are offered for group study and reflection here at Sacred Heart Church.

I'm going to turn the rest of my Pastor's Column over to our parishioner Tom Canavan's explanation of this program and hope that many of you will log on soon to see what is possible, especially for those who have internet access.  Please try it soon!

FORMED is an online resource of Catholic materials that supports instruction and independent study in four major areas:  Adult Faith Formation, Youth Formation/Confirmation, RCIA, and Bible Studies.  Today, let's just deal with Adult Formation.

The website provides direct access to many materials useful in adult faith formation.  There are links to group and independent study programs on the Bible, the sacraments, the lives of saints, prayer, and many other subjects.

The resources that parishioners can use independently range from popular movies to documentaries on saints and Catholic leaders, from novels to books on important events in the Church's history, from radio plays that can be downloaded for listening while in the car to more formal studies of church teaching.  In addition, includes on its homepage, a link to Sunday Mass readings and a weekly talk on those readings.  It also has a full liturgical calendar with links to videos, audios, and readings appropriate to the saint or feast of the day.

The parish's enrollment in FORMED gives parishioners access to all of the site's resources and will expand the adult education programs that the parish can offer both for group study or independent study.  Look at the flyer in this week's bulletin to follow the directions to register on
Normally, as we enter the month of December, I start looking ahead, in terms of liturgies to our Advent Reconciliation Service (this year on December 19) and our Christmas Masses (which will be a challenge for priests and congregations this year since the Fourth Sunday of Advent is Christmas Eve).  This, however, is no normal December, since we will be hosting the "First Mass" of Nelson Rubio, our adopted seminarian, on Sunday, December 17 at 10:00 a.m.  I hope many of you will choose to come to this Mass and will sign-up to join us for the reception for Nelson after Mass in the Lower Hall.  Cards and gifts for Father Nelson will be accepted before and after Mass.  We are expecting people from outside our parish to join us, including at least 60 from a parish in Wisconsin where Nelson has been ministering to as a Deacon.

I want to also encourage you to come to Nelson's Ordination Mass at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Saturday, December 16, at 10:00 a.m.  If you have never been to an Ordination Mass, I can testify that it is a moving liturgy with many priests in attendance to pray for, lay hands on, and embrace Nelson upon his Ordination to the priesthood.  We will consider renting a bus to take parishioners over to the ordination if there is enough interest and a need to do so (and if we can get a bus).  Please sign-up if you are willing to drive some people over to the Ordination with you.  The sign-up sheets are in the narthex.

We have supported Nelson over these last few years and it's almost time for us to come together to celebrate his priesthood and continue our prayerful support as he becomes an associate paster in parishes in North Little Rock and Marche.  With all this taking place on Gaudette Sunday weekend with its theme of "REJOICING," we have a special reason to gather and rejoice, the Ordination and/or First Mass of Nelson Rubio.  PLEASE make plans to come!