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The Advent Season

November 19, 2021
By Our Lady of Sorrows School
OLS front office Christmas Nativity Scene

During the blessing given to the mother and father of a newly baptized child at the end of the Baptismal Liturgy, we hear these words: These parents will be the first teachers of their children in the faith, may they be also the best of teachers by what they say and do. The Second Vatican Council called each home and family “the domestic church.” With this in mind, the season of Advent provides an excellent opportunity for parents to nurture the faith of their whole family.

Buying (or making) an advent wreath and then setting up a prayer area in your home (somewhere near the living room or dining room, where it is clearly visible) to place it on is a good first step. Blessing the wreath, and then lighting the candle(s) before or after dinner each evening can become a way of keeping the focus of this Advent season on the coming of the Light of Christ.

Setting up a Jesse tree (especially a homemade one) can be another way of marking the days during Advent until we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Setting up Christmas lights inside or outside the home can be another way of remembering the light of Christ, especially as our days grow shorter and the nights grow longer.

Traditional Posadas or praying the rosary together are another way to fully prepare for the coming Christmas season both as a family and as an extended community. And of course, the best way to prepare is to attend Holy Mass together during the season of Advent every weekend and holy day—it helps to prepare the whole family to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus at the beginning of the Christmas season.

There are several documents you can download as part of this post (below my signature) that have prayers, activities, and ideas on helping families keep their focus not just on the fun of preparing for Christmas, but also on the preparation of our hearts, lives, and homes during the Advent season. In whatever ways your family prepares, remember that Jesus can stay at the center of our lives only with our attention and devotion to him—may we give God the best gift we can give him this Advent and Christmas season: our time.

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III

Files for Download

Advent and Christmas Packet

Advent Wreath Blessing

Christmas Tree Blessing

The Jesse Tree

Journeying Together to a Global Church Synod

October 24, 2021
By Our Lady of Sorrows School
Official logo for the 2021-2023 Synod on Synodality

On October 9-10, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and taking his cues from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965; a worldwide  gathering of cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated religion and lay people), Pope Francis began a two-year process of consultation with Catholics around the world to help shape the flow and form of what Catholicism may look like for many years to come. This consultation process has coined the word "synodality" (from the Greek synodos, "to journey together"),  and Pope Francis has titled this two-year endeavor For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.

This process of consultation evolves through three phases:

  • Phase 1: Local / Listening: each diocesan bishop is tasked with crafting a process where Catholics in the pews can come together and discuss topics of real-world need and importance to their respective communities; of special importance to Pope Francis is that all Catholics in an area should be heard, including people that tend to sit on the margins and fringes of Church society; in our diocese, the opening Mass took place today (Sunday, October 24); the initial gathering of diocesan delegates takes place Saturday, October 30 at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle; mass will be celebrated that day at 11:30 am
  • Phase 2: Continental: bishops from each conference gather together to review the questions, ideas, and issues brought forth in their individual dioceses; for us in the United States, that conference is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
  • Phase 3: Universal: a month-long gathering in October 2023 at the Vatican where each bishops' conference comes together to formally discuss the topics of most importance, then begin the work of implementing any reforms and structural changes that come out of the two-year process of listening, accompaniment, and encounter

Pope Francis is challenging the Catholic church to become a church that emphasizes co-responsibility: where ordained (Pope, bishops, priests, deacons), consecrated religious (monks, nuns, brothers, sisters, etc.), and lay people (the majority of Catholics who are neither priests or consecrated religious) share power, purpose, and responsibility in exercising leadership roles to help in the evangelization of the whole world.

As we journey together these next two years, we're asked to pray the following prayer for the local, continental and universal delegates who, under the direction of Pope Francis and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, will help to shape the way our Church continues to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master.

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever.
(From the USCCB Website)

For more information, visit:

Diocese of Brownsville Synod Web Page

Official Vatican Synod Web Page

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III

Lent 2018

February 11, 2018
By Our Lady of Sorrows School
Lent 2018

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the three ways that Jesus talks about our Lenten preparation in the Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday. These three avenues to holiness are traditionally prescribed for all Catholics, especially during Lent. Here are some ways we can incorporate these disciplines into our daily life, and especially into our Lenten sacrifices.

When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.

Jesus said these words in the context of religious professionals who would pray for human acclaim. They prayed not so much out of a sincerity of heart, but for the sole purpose of having other people see them pray. They thrived on knowing that others thought they were holy and spiritual.

For our Lenten prayer discipline, we would do well to establish a regular habit of prayer. Morning and evening are natural times for prayer. We can rise 15 minutes earlier and spend some time in prayer, or we can wait until our house has settled down and make some time at night. In either case, a simple formula for prayer could flow like this:

  • Take some time to still your body, quiet your breathing, silence your voice, and turn your thoughts towards God. (1 minute)
  • Thank God for at least three (3) minutes. See how many different people, situations and things you can think of to give thanks for. (3 minutes)
  • Acknowledge your faults before God - spend some time confessing your sins, failures, mistakes and regrets, and ask for God’s forgiveness .(3 minutes)
  • Bring your petitions before God - pray for your family and friends, for our nation, for our Church, and for anyone who has asked you for their prayers. (3 minutes)
  • Read Scripture - if you’re not sure what to read, open up Mark’s Gospel in the New Testament and read 1 chapter each time you pray. In less then 3 weeks you’ll have read through one full Gospel. (3 minutes)
  • Listen for God’s voice - after talking and reading, spend the remaining two minutes listening for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. ( 2 minutes)

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden.

Jesus spoke this in the context of people who would fast (not eat or drink) and then make a spectacle of it - they were, once again, looking for human praise. We can fast in secret by trying the following:

Food: We live in a country of such abundance that we sometimes forget that in other parts of our world (and in parts closer to home) some people go without food or live on very little food on a day to day basis. We can limit our intake of food and drink to remind ourselves of others, to stand in solidarity with them, and as a prayer for those who do not have enough to eat.
Electronics: We live in a world inundated with gadgets - cell phones, smart watches,  mp3 players, laptops, computers, gigantic TV’s, etc. A challenging fast would be to go without non-essential electronics for a day, a week or all of Lent. It would help remind us that life is not always fast or convenient, and it would serve as a welcome antidote to the overloads of information and noise we sometimes try to process.

But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret.

Most Catholic parishes will have stewardship drives where we are asked to contribute our “time, talent and treasure.” Lent is a wonderful time for us to make sacrifices of all three of those precious commodities. We can spend more time on family and less on work or individual pursuits; more money on charities and less on frivolous spending; and more talents in the service of the poor and homeless in our midst. It is a great way to expand our self-centeredness into other-centeredness.

In whatever way you mark this Lent, I pray that it draws you closer to the suffering Servant. May we all become imitators of this Servant Messiah in our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III

Advent Reflection

December 03, 2017
By Our Lady of Sorrows School
Advent wreath with lit candles, licensed for reuse, Alex Harden, Flickr

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” - Mark 13:33-37, abridged

Advent is a time to wait in joyful expectation for the coming of the newborn Son. Think of the first few weeks of falling in love with someone: you can’t wait to see them again, you yearn for the intimacy of their presence, you imagine what your time together will be like. This is what the season of Advent brings to us: time to anticipate the birth of Jesus.

The gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent emphasizes this theme of yearning and anticipation. We are reminded that Jesus can come at any moment, and we are commanded to be on the lookout for his appearance.

But this is not just a one time “end-of-the-world” moment that we’re asked to watch for. We are challenged to be watchful for the unexpected encounters where we catch a glimpse of the presence of Jesus: a kind word from a stranger, a smile just when we need one, a word of encouragement when life is difficult, a hug from a child, a kiss from a spouse—in all of these moments of our life we are asked to look beyond the surface to the gentle, watchful presence of the Word made flesh.

May our Advent preparations help us clearly see the presence of God all around us, and may the celebration of the Christmas season find us prepared in body, mind, soul and spirit for the celebration of the birth of the Son.

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III

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Daily Prayers

September 27, 2017
By Our Lady of Sorrows School
8th Grade Students Praying during Holy Mass

Faculty, staff and students at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School pause throughout the day to pray together as a community.

Our first community prayer takes place in the gym (for 1st - 8th grade) or in the classroom (for Montessori). Each classroom (teacher/students) is assigned a week to lead the school in morning prayer in the gym, as well as serve the wider community by taking service and ministry roles at that week's celebration of Holy Mass. Kinder 5 students have the opportunity to serve at Mass at the end of the year as well.

The next time that 1st - 8th grade students pray together is in their classroom, sometimes utilizing their classroom altars. Self-contained classrooms will generally pray at the start and end of the day, while Jr. High classes will pray at the beginning and end of each different class they attend. Montessori students are taught to pray at their classroom altar with a short prayerful ritual at any time they would like, and the rest of the class is taught to be respectful of their classmates when they are in prayer.

Our next prayer pause is the Prayer Before Meals. Each class prays this together before they head out to recess and lunch.

At Noon the whole school pauses for a few minutes to pray the Angelus. It's a prerecorded audio file that is played over the schools intercom system, and it gives us all a chance to invoke Mary's protection and prayers for us as the patroness of the school.

Finally, at the end of the day, the whole school pauses once more to pray part of the Divine Mercy prayer together. It helps bring our school day to a close, and it helps to remind all of us that God is watching over us, and that his merciful love and forgiveness are always with us.

In your own homes, having a set time for prayer will help children understand the importance of prayer, while helping to bond family members together. The prayers we use at school are at the bottom of this article. You may want to use these at home as your children are very familiar with them. Every religion book we use also has a selection of Catholic prayers, either at the beginning or end of the book.

May the peaceful presence of the Holy Spirit lead you ever deeper into prayer this school year.

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III

Morning Assembly – Ending Prayer
Leader:                 We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
Response:           Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Noontime Prayer – The Angelus
Leader:                 The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
Response:           And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace . . .

Leader:                 Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
Response:           Be it done unto me according to your word.

Hail Mary, full of grace . . .

Leader:                 And the Word was made Flesh:
Response:           And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace . . .

Leader:                 Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
Response:           That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we ask you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts; that as we have known the incarnation of Christ, your Son, by the message of an angel, so by His passion and cross we may be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

End of the Day Prayer – 3 O’Clock Prayer to The Divine Mercy
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls and an ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fountain of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You. 

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and the whole world. (3 times)

Jesus, King of Mercy, I trust in You!

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