As I mentioned a few weekends ago at Mass, we will not be having our annual rectory open house this year. We usually schedule that on the Sunday after Christmas, but because next Sunday falls on New Year’s Day, we decided to cancel, foreseeing that many people will have plans with family or will be out of town that weekend.
Also pertaining to next weekend, don’t forget to bring your wine to be blessed at the end of next weekend’s Masses! As I already mentioned, the easiest way to make this happen will be to bring your wine in a basket or a bag with your name on it. As orderly as possible, please place it by the St. Joseph altar in Payne or by the baptismal font in Paulding. I will bless them all collectively at the end of Mass.
In case you are wondering where this practice of blessing wine comes from- and so that you don’t think I’m just making it up- it is worth noting that this is not a new practice, even if it is new to us. At the end of John’s gospel, we read: “Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’” (Jn. 21:20-23). Based on these verses, we have traditionally held that St. John the Evangelist lived until an old age. At some point in Church history, a legend developed- and it is only a legend- that on account of Jesus’ own words, St. John survived various assassination attempts, including one attempt involving poisoned wine. Although there is no way to historically prove the assassination attempts, this is why the old ritual books offer a blessing of wine on or around St. John’s feast day, and why the prayer of blessing mentions St. John. If for no other reason, it still makes for a great way to start off the new year!
Lastly, and most importantly, may you all have a blessed Christmas with friends, family, and anyone else. As we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, we thank him for coming to us in the flesh, truly God and truly man, to offer us redemption. Losing nothing of who he was, and taking to himself our human nature, Christ came to renew the earth and open the gates of heaven, the way of salvation, for his people who labored under the ancient curse of sin and death. Let us rejoice together for such a tremendous gift, and for the immense love that God has for us!