Third Week in Advent

This weekend we celebrated the third week of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word that means “rejoice!” On this day, we lit the rose colored candle of the Advent wreath. In the gospel reading, we read of John the Baptist, the messenger who pointed the way to Jesus. Jesus tells the people of the greatness of John, and he also tells them that those who follow Jesus are blessed and will inherit the kingdom.

As we continue through the Advent season, preparing ourselves for the celebration of Jesus’ coming at Christmas, we are invited to avail of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. There are numerous opportunities for individual Confession, and times are listed in the parish bulletins. Through participation in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, we prepare our hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ coming at Christmas. Our students in Grades 3 through 8 have had the opportunity to participate in a beautiful Reconciliation Service last week and this week where our priests from the three parishes joined together to provide our children with the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. We hope as a family, you will continue to avail yourself of this beautiful Sacrament throughout the year.

With the upcoming hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, the house to decorate and presents to wrap, it is important, as Catholics, to remember that Advent should be our focus. It is a difficult season to celebrate because of the commercialism of the secular world in which we live. At this time, we keep in mind people who are less fortunate in our community and the world. Thank you for all the donations we have received for the Senior Citizen Retirement Home and the coins collected by 2nd grade for the St. Vincent de Paul Warming Center. Our hearts are full as we look at the generosity of our HFCS community. –

According to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year, Advent has a twofold nature: It prepares us for Christmas, when we recall Christ’s first coming among us, and it is also a time when we look forward to His second coming at the end of the ages. Advent is the season of joyful expectation. Our challenge, as Catholics, is to help our children to look beyond the materialism of Christmas and focus on spiritual preparation.

A special thank you to our students and Mrs. Bukowski for the wonderful Christmas program last Friday. And thank you as well to our amazing PIE volunteers for the Cookies, Cocoa, and Santa that followed the program. 

As we wind down the week, we hope that you will enjoy our time off from school, December 19th through January 2nd, when you can gather with friends and family to enjoy the special gifts of Christmas: hope, joy, and most importantly faith.

Eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

“Saints such as Maximilian Kolbe have pondered the intimate relationship between the Divine Mercy and the Immaculate Conception and concluded that the relationship is so mysterious that its brightness overwhelms the intellect. These two mysteries are so intimately connected that it will take a whole host of saintly theologians, mystics and scholars to unveil the wonder. Just as the mystery of the Trinity is that which sheds light on all things, so the mystery of the Immaculate Conception is that which sheds light on the mystery of both creation and redemption.” – Father Donald Calloway, MIC

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in this Advent season, let us focus on the miracle God has set before us. Fr. Calloway goes on to explain that God planned to spiritually renew and elevate all creation according to the pattern of the Immaculate Conception; thus, the Immaculate Conception is not an after-thought but, rather, the instrument through which God sees the world. It is as though the Immaculate Conception were a set of bifocals given to us by Divine Mercy so that we can come to see both creation and salvation as God sees them.

The second week of advent focuses on peace. The peace that the birth of Christ brings over our circumstances, our desires, and our futures. As we continue through this Advent season may the peace of Christ be with you and your family.

Pax et Bonum,

Sue Styren

Advent Prayer for Thursday

Father, thank You for fresh grace and a week full of promise. Lead me in Your way and fill my heart with Your love and joy.

Father, help me to see others as You see them. I ask that you guide every decision, response, effort and conversation I have all for your glory.

In Jesus’ name Amen

As We Begin Advent

I always prepare for Advent with Google searches. I know that may sound odd, but I like to begin Advent with a refreshed sense of prayer. I love looking for resources that will make this the best Advent ever. My search this year took me to Creighton University’s Online Ministries. The site is filled with resources to add to my growing Advent library. I hope you will find that special way in which your family may dive into Advent with renewed faith, hope, and prayer. “We begin Advent, we light one candle in the midst of all the darkness in our lives and in the world. It symbolizes our longing, our desire, our hope. Three “advents” or “comings” shape our desire. We want to be renewed in a sense that Jesus came to save us from our sin and death. We want to experience his coming to us now, in our everyday lives, to help us live our lives with meaning and purpose. And we want to prepare for his coming to meet us at the end of our lives on this earth.”

Each day this week, let’s start with a focus on faith. Take just a moment to remember that Christ is our light. Pause to pray for hope, joy, and love in our ever changing world.

“Lord, the light I choose to let into my life today is based on my trust in you. It is a weak flame, but I so much desire that it dispel a bit more darkness today. Today, I just want to taste the longing I have for you as I go to the meeting this morning, carry out the responsibilities of my work, face the frustration of some difficult relationships. Let this candle be my reminder today of my hope in your coming.”

Remember to take time for prayers as you gather for your evening meal and light the family Advent wreath. Encourage all members of your family to share what this week of Advent has meant to them, how are we all preparing for Christ’s coming.

This Advent, as a school, our Opening will include special Advent prayers, lighting the Advent Wreath, as well as traditional faith filled Christmas carols as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and His coming once again.

We are also making this a December to Remember! See the calendar for our very special 12 (really 13) Days of Christmas HFCS style.

Pax et Bonum,

Sue Styren

Thanksgiving Blessings

On this “secular” holiday, infused as it is with such profoundly religious meaning, we should really take some time to reflect on the fact that the Greek word from which we derive the word “Eucharist” is rendered “Thanksgiving” in English. The Catechism reminds us that, “The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called: Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. The Greek words eucharistein and eulogein recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim God’s works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.” – CCC #1328

How appropriate. In that Sacrament of Sacraments, we receive Jesus Christ in His fullness, the greatest gift of the Father. And, we are called to give thanks. In the words of the Apostle Paul to the early Christians we are reminded to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians. 5:16-18 One of the ways Christians do this is to become people who choose to live our lives for others. When we give thanks we learn to love.

Today, the Church calls her faithful sons and daughters to give thanks in her Liturgy. St. Teresa was fond of saying “We will not learn how to love if we are not grateful.” The Readings for the Mass for Thanksgiving call us to gratitude. Jesus, in His Sacred humanity, shows us how to live a life of gratitude and, through the gift of Himself, makes it all possible.

As we give thanks, we discover how to be faithful to our call to continue the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ, Love Incarnate, in an age hungering for the fullness of God’s love. We are called to give thanks and we are called to love with the very Love of God in which all human love is revealed and through which all human love is perfected.

Please consider joining us in our school-wide service projects and continuing SUCCESS program this coming Advent, in support of those in need (see flier below). May the love of the Holy Family shine through you as we celebrate this Thanksgiving.

Pax et Bonum,

Sue Styren

A Month of Thanksgiving

This November, we pay special attention to our Saints, our Souls in Purgatory, family and friends we’ve lost, our Veterans and for those things we are most grateful for. It’s a preparatory time as we move closer and closer to our very holy time of Advent. Preparing ourselves for Christ to come again. Reflection on our past and planning for our future. Ensuring faith in God is always at the center of what we do. I would like to thank Fr. John and the St. Thomas Parish for the beautiful Monstrance that was presented to HFCS this morning. Adoration was a blessed opportunity for our children and faith family to join together in special reflection on the Blessed Sacrament and the gift of Jesus Christ in our lives. We will continue Adoration after Mass as we move through the Advent season and classes will have the opportunity to gather in prayer in our chapel as well.

As I reflect on this year, I am most thankful for the Holy Family Catholic community. HFCS is steeped in traditions that bind us together as one family in Christ. May your November be filled with love and thanksgiving. Find special time to pray together as a family – remembering what is most important to us all. Please, if ever you have questions, concerns, ideas on how we can make HFCS even better, don’t hesitate to contact my staff and make an appointment to come in and speak with me. My door is always open.

Pax et Bonum,

Sue Styren

Thank You Veterans

Tomorrow we celebrate our Veterans who have served faithfully for our country. We hope you will join us for Mass at 9:30 am. A small reception will follow mass for our Veterans. Thank you so much for your service and sacrifice.

Reading is so very important to all of us. We place reading and books at the centre of the curriculum here at HFCS, as children who enjoy reading achieve highly across the curriculum. Developing a love for reading is one of the most effective ways we can create a love for learning and raise attainment.

We aim for all children to enjoy reading for pleasure. Promoting a love for reading sets children up as readers for life, with all the accompanying benefits that follow. Being able to read well is a key life skill for children, whatever their background and every child deserves the chance to become a reader and have a lifetime of enjoyment.

We believe that reading is a passport to the world. The benefits of reading go beyond the opportunities offered by being well-read with a good command of english. Reading opens children up to ideas, experiences, places and times they might never otherwise experience in real life. Reading for pleasure helps us to enhance opportunities to learn about a multitude of things that may not be covered by a school curriculum. This week our Fall Book Fair opened on Monday. I hope you take a moment to stroll through the selections sometime this week and find some books you may enjoy as a family.

Just a head’s up, next week, November 16th, we will have Mass on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, November 17th. We have the opportunity to take our 4th through 8th graders to the CYT production of “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” and Fr. John kindly suggested that we move Mass to Tuesday, to afford the students the opportunity to see the production. We hope you will join us for Mass on Tuesday next week.

Have an amazing week, stay safe, healthy, and happy.

Pax et Bonum,

Sue Styren

St. Joseph Pray for Us

November is here, how fast the year is rushing by! Today, I met with other principals in the Diocese and discussing things we are thankful for this month. By far the most popular response was for our families and volunteers. You are the ingredient that makes HFCS the very special community it is. And we are grateful for you. As the busy holiday season begins to take a hold of us, it is easy to forget about the importance of prayer in our lives. Please join me in prayer to St. Joseph that we always keep centered in our faith:

Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted.

Full of confidence in your power I fly unto you and beg your protection.

Despise not O Guardian of the Redeemer my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me. Amen.

“From the first moment that a student sets foot in a Catholic School, he or she ought to have the impression of entering a new environment, one illuminated by the light of faith, and having its own unique characteristics.” – The Religious Dimension of Education In A Catholic School (§) 25

Pax et Bonum,

Sue Styren

So Many Things So Little Time

We are quickly approaching the end of October, a time when orange lights and uniquely carved pumpkins decorate our neighborhoods. I was pleasantly surprised by the 5th grade today when they presented me with a very special Prayer Pumpkin. This reminds us that what may be commercially advertised as a “pagan” holiday, in truth holds its origins in the Catholic faith. There are a number of articles on the web with regards to an all but forgotten triduum of Allhallowtide. I encourage you to explore this season. Here’s a short reminder from the Irish Catholic:

“However, what is certain is that Hallowe’en as we know it developed in relation to a feast which is definitely Catholic –
the Solemnity of All Saints celebrated on November 1. There are more than 10,000 canonized saints in the Church, which means that not all of them can be recognized on a calendar of 365 days: All Saints Day commemorates all saints, canonized and otherwise.This feast was first officially established by Pope Boniface IV in 615 as the “Feast of All Martyrs”. In 840, the title changed to the “Feast of All Saints” as saints other than the martyrs were added.”

Have a safe and happy Halloween, blessed All Saints and All Souls Days, and a great week!
Pax et Bonum,
Sue Styren