12/10/22 Advent Gathering
It was a star filled evening with Christmas lights illuminating the path to the Mary Mother of the Light Maronite Catholic Church Parish Hall. As we entered the hall, we were greeted by the sounds of Christmas music and colorful lights on the wall (compliments of Patrick Osetek) and all of the tables were beautifully decorated with maroon and gold mini Christmas trees, floating candles, and raffia wreaths (compliments of the Perez Family).
There were 50 Community members gathered and Rector Jake Marroney began the evening with a prayer. There were many delicious foods to savor, desserts to give us a sugar rush and beverages to cleanse the palette. Speaker Mary Anne Gioia spoke from the heart about how her world was turned upside down when her husband, Mike, approached her to change from St. Therese Parish to St. Rita Parish. She had so many friends and memories, that she did not want to give up; however, was obedient to her husband and his spiritual guidance. They began attending 7:00 a.m. mass together, and soon made new friends and began to evangelize to them. It was a fresh start and their ministries are blooming.
Spiritual Advisor, Deacon Pete DelValle, spoke from the heart and commended Mary Anne for being a faithful woman and following the spiritual prompts of her husband. Their story reminded him of John 15: 1-11.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."
There were five echoes that affirmed that although sometimes it's difficult to let go of the familiar, the Lord will always shower you with blessings for being obedient and following Him wherever he leads you- even if you don't quite know where that may be. A great example is when Mary and Joseph, after Jesus was born, promptly traveled from Bethlehem to Egypt- without knowing anyone and living among strangers- until the Lord called them back to Nazareth to raise Jesus and fulfill God's plan for their lives and the salvation of the world.
May the Light of Christ always be in your heart, mind and spirit and may you and your family have a blessed Advent and Christmas Season.