December 11, 2016

Parish Advent Program
Wrap your Gifts in Prayer

Unwrap the gift of God in Prayer. In the midst of Advent and Christmas busyness, we offer you a way to pray and to discover our God who is with us. Each season the preparation for gift giving can be a source of stress. This year can be different. Our Christmas practice of gift giving is intended to be a visible symbol of love and Christian service in action. Why not use our gift giving as a form of prayer? Wrapping your gift in prayer can add a spiritual dimension to an ordinary task.

Wrap Your Gift in Prayer

As you choose your gift, ask for God’s guidance and bring a prayerful awareness to the exchange. When you actually wrap your gift, whether in wrapping paper or in a gift bag, pray for the recipient. Ask God to fill them with light, love and the peace of Christmas. Cards and electronic greetings may also be wrapped in prayer.

Prayer Method Choices
Imagine – visualize the person for whom you pray. Picture the Lord blessing them.
Speak – pray out loud, “Lord surround (name) with your light; fill him/her with your peace.”
Sing – a Christmas carol.
Gesture – dedicate the use of your hand motions in wrapping as your prayer.
Hear – simply repeat the person’s name knowing that the Lord hears our every word.
Recite – a pre-written prayer, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Rosary…
Act – reach out to someone in need of the gift of your care.
Bless – For difficult relationships pray: Lord bless (name) and transform me to set me free.

Sharing your Prayer with a Gift Tag

After wrapping your gift in prayer attach a gift tag that will be provided for you.

Witnessing to your prayer by means of a Gift Tag is like giving an additional gift because it may lead the receiver to become more aware of God’s presence in her or his own life.
This weekend Gift Prayer Tags will be available at the doors of the church. Attach the Gift Prayer Tag to a gift, group of gifts or gift bag. You may also wish to duplicate the gift tag sheets on your own computer by visiting our website www.stphilip.org.

Reflection On Prayer

God desires to be in a close and personal relationship with us. Prayer unwraps God who is always with us. Prayer directs our attention to God who can be found in all things. The Spirit of God dwells within us; prayer is the inner journey to discover the gift of God within. St. Paul challenges us to rejoice in God’s presence in all circumstances, (1Thessalonians5:16). William S. Barry S. J. in his book Praying the Truth (2012) gives a simple definition of prayer:
“By prayer I mean what occurs when I am conscious in some way of God’s presence. Ignatius of Loyola is known for wanting to find God in all things – that is, to be able to do all things while, at the same time, being conscious of God’s presence. In other words, he wanted to be prayerful at all times. A tall order, you might say, but Ignatius believe that a person could come close to this with the help of God and by the regular practice of paying attention to what happens in daily life. He could hope for such a state because of his Christian belief that God, the Creator of the universe, is never absent from any part of this universe. Hence, whether we are aware of it or not, we are always in God’s presence no matter what we are doing. All that is required (for prayer) is that I am conscious of God’s presence and whatever activity I engage.”
Our Advent Program, Your Gift is Wrapped in Prayer is an opportunity for us to encounter God in our daily lives.

Reflection Questions and Prayerful Activity

• When have I felt closest to God?
• What does God’s desire to be in a personal relationship with me mean? What does this invite me to do?
• What people, places or things awaken my awareness of God?
• The gifts in my life for which I am grateful are… Share your thoughts and feelings about these gifts with God.
• One way that I will share the gifts that God has given to me with another person this week is…

The Giving Tree

Pope Francis challenges us to answer God’s call for us to be protectors “showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.”

The holidays give us the perfect opportunity to answer this calling to help people in our very own community in need of help. After Mass today, please make a stop at our Giving Tree in the vestibule. Participating is simple!
• Pick a tag from the tree.
• Purchase the specified gift.
• Wrap the gift in prayer.
• Pray for the recipient of the gift.
• Attach the same gift tag to the wrapped gift.
• Place your wrapped gift with the specified gift tag back under the tree.

All gifts need to be returned by the 12:00 PM Mass on December 18.

Advent Opportunities

Sacrament of Reconciliation:
Saturday, December 17 – 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Christmas Pageant:
Sunday, December 18 – Auditorium following 8:00 AM Mass with refreshments

Lessons and Carols
The Youth Choir, Adult Choir and Handbell Choir of St. Philip the Apostle will present the Annual Service of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 18 at 3:00 PM in the Church. Admission is free; however, a free-will offering is appreciated to help support the efforts of the Music Ministry program. Please join us for an afternoon of readings from scripture and singing of hymns and carols in celebration of this most joyous season.

Bible Study
Bible Study continues during the Advent Season on Mondays at 11 AM in the Molloy Center. Our final session for this year will be on Monday, December 19th.

RCIA

Right of Christian Initiation of Adults
Please pray for and support our catechumen as they accept to continue their journey toward full initiation into the Catholic Church.

Our next session of the RCIA is Monday, January 9th at 7 PM in the Russo Room. All are welcome and invited to join us. For more information about RCIA please call Donna Scancarella at (973) 779-6200.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

Grade One students will sing at the 8:00 AM Mass on Sunday, December 18. Please arrive at 7:30.
The Confirmation and Youth Group students will present a Christmas Pageant for our students on Sunday, December 18 in the auditorium following the 8:00 AM Mass. Grades One and Two students are invited to dress as angels, shepherds, or stable animals for both the Mass and Christmas Pageant.
Parents, please remain with your child/children for the duration of the Mass and Pageant. It will not be a full class session.
All are invited! Refreshments will be served.

Religious Education Classes schedule

Grades 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6: December 18, January 8
Grade 2: December 11, 18, January 8, 25
Grades 7, 8: December 11, January 22
Confirmation Grade 9, 10: December 11, January 22

MINISTRIES AND ORGANIZATIONS

Widow/Widowers

• The Monday Night Group: December 12th at 6:30 PM in the Left Conference of the Molloy Center.
• The New & Recently Bereaved Group: Wednesday, January 11th & 25th at 7:00 PM.

Rosary Society

The next meeting of the Rosary Society will be our Christmas Party on Monday, December 12, 2016 in Marian Hall. The meeting will begin with the Rosary at 6:30 PM followed by Mass. Bring your favorite Christmas mug or cup. All are welcome!

Columbiettes
Christmas Party

All Columbiettes, our Brother Knights and your guest are invited to come to celebrate the birth of Christ on Friday, December 16, 2016 at 6:30 PM in Marian Hall. A light dinner will be served at 7:00 PM followed by a homemade dessert table. Due to popular demand, we will play LCR. (Come prepared.) Admittance to the party is three items of food for local school food pantries: unsweetened cereal, peanut butter, juice boxes, canned meat and fish. Please RSVP by December 11, 2016 to Sharon at 973 742-0926 or sfbeanie@aol.com.

Columbiette Blanket Ministry

The next meeting will be on Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 9:45 AM in the Molloy Center. All crafters are welcome. Blankets are donated to hospitalized children, chemotherapy patients, needy children, and the homebound of the community. For donations or further information, call Cathie Murtha at 973-471-1265.

ST. PHILIP PREPARATORY SCHOOL

The students of St. Philip Preparatory School performed at their annual Christmas Show on Tuesday, December 6. The performances took place in the school auditorium for family and friends. All grades from Pre-K3 through 8th were involved. While the primary grades sing and dance to fun and happy Christmas tunes, the middle school grades were responsible for representing Advent through Christmas Day with the birth of our Lord, Jesus. The performances were well received, and a joyous start to our Christmas season.

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