December 24, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In the poignant words of Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:1). This profound truth resonates deeply as we navigate through a world still yearning for enlightenment. As Christmas approaches, it offers us a precious moment to reflect on this divine illumination. The festive season is not just a time of celebration, but an opportunity to bask in the warmth of Christ’s light, which brightens our minds and fills our hearts.

Our Christmas Masses, a cherished tradition in our large parish family, are a time for collective reflection and joy. We gather to honor and appreciate the sacredness of these holy days. The scripture readings across various liturgies this weekend bring us together in the mystery of the Incarnation. God, the author and sustainer of life, humbled Himself to become one of us. In Jesus, we see “the image of the invisible God,” a powerful reminder that we are never alone in any circumstance—be it joy or grief, faith or doubt. Through Christ, God has intimately shared in our human experience and invites us to share in His divine life.

An extraordinary testament to this mystery is the creation of the Manger Scenes in and around our church. For the last three years, under the dedicated leadership of Father Hung Tran and the combined efforts of our Hispanic and Vietnamese volunteers, these scenes have become more elaborate and stunning. They vividly bring to life the mystery of Christ’s birth, offering a visible and uplifting manifestation of our faith. This has indeed become a highlight of our parish’s Christmas celebrations, drawing many to witness and reflect on the profound simplicity and beauty of the Nativity.

Our parish’s vibrant traditions, like the Las Posadas led by our Hispanic community and the English Choir’s Christmas Eve’s Concert, bring the story of the Incarnation to life in diverse and meaningful ways. The Christmas Pageant by our Religious Education children and the Midnight Mass dramatization by our Vietnamese youth further capture the essence of the Nativity story. These traditions, alongside the personal customs of decorating homes and exchanging gifts, make the Christmas narrative tangible and relevant, inviting many to church.

This year, we are delighted to introduce a new tradition – dedicating Christmas wreaths in honor or memory of loved ones. Over one hundred wreaths now adorn the front exterior of our church and rectory, each bearing the names of those we hold dear. During this Christmas season, we will offer special prayers for these individuals, acknowledging their roles as lights in our lives. What better way to honor and remember them than in this season of light?

The phrase “home for Christmas” often evokes a deep desire to return to our spiritual roots. Christmas is a unique time when many, who may have been distant from the Church, find their way back. This season offers a grace-filled chance to renew our relationship with the Lord and our church community. The Church, like any family, is not without its imperfections, yet it remains our spiritual home. For those who have felt hurt or distanced, let this Christmas be an invitation to return. We extend a heartfelt welcome to everyone: Come home for Christmas!

As we gather under the glow of the Christmas wreaths and amidst the beauty of our Manger Scenes, let us remember the true spirit of this season. It is a time for family, for community, and most importantly, for deepening our relationship with God. Please join me, Father Mike McHugh, Father Hung Tran, and our retired priests in residence, in the celebration of Mass this Christmas. Your presence is a gift to our community, and together, let us make this season a true celebration of God’s light and love.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham