Dear brother Knights,
As we approach the liturgical season of Advent – the beginning of which marks the Church’s New Year – I want to take this opportunity to reflect on its purpose.  Although Advent is meant to be, among other things, the preparatory season for Christmas (as Lent is for Easter), it’s important to remember that the season of Advent has its own purpose, distinct from that of Christmas and its proper season (and yes, there is a Christmas season, starting on Christmas Eve and running until the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord).  Of course, we’re not helped by the perpetual impatience of society, resulting in the premature celebration of holidays.  
Right after Thanksgiving, some radio stations will begin playing only Christmas music, shopping centers will be decorated for Christmas, and people everywhere will go to “Christmas” parties, all during the season of Advent.  And then, as if that weren't bad enough, come December 26, all of that ends, and society goes back to “Ordinary Time,” while we, the remnant few, are only beginning to celebrate the actual Christmas season.  So, then, what do we do?  Aside from wishing people “Happy Advent” instead of “Merry Christmas” (which I wholeheartedly recommend), let’s educate ourselves and those around us on the true purpose of Advent, respecting it as a season in its own right.
As per its name, Advent focuses on the coming of Christ (“advenire” is the Latin verb for “to come,” “to arrive”), but there is more than one “coming” of Christ.  In fact, the season of Advent reflects this in its liturgical readings.  The first half of Advent focuses on the second coming of Christ, in power and glory:  the end of the world, the Apocalypse, when Christ returns to earth to judge the living and the dead.  Thus, even now, before Advent begins, we notice that the readings are already very eschatological, preparing us for this first theme of Advent.  About halfway though Advent, however, the focus switches to the first coming of Christ, in weakness and humility.  We prepare for the birth of the Messiah promised by God through the prophets, the one who would come to save us from our sins and eternal death.  But guess what?  There’s a third “coming” of Christ too, a “middle coming” of Christ, after the first coming and before the second coming:  the coming of Christ into our hearts and souls.  This middle coming of Christ occurs through prayer and the sacraments, and requires our invitation and cooperation.  
You see, none of us were there when He came the first time, and God only knows how many of us – if any at all – will still be alive when He comes again in glory, and so it is really only through this middle coming that we are to encounter Him, in the here and now, on a daily basis.  In this middle coming, His power and glory are mixed with His weakness and humility:  He veils His unbearable divinity under the lowly appearance of bread and wine, He cures and forgives sin through His priests who are frail human beings and sinners themselves, and He chooses to show the world His love for His Bride, the Church, through the sacramental bond of married couples who are called to be symbols of that selfless love despite their own shortcomings and failures.  
During this Advent season, may each of us be open to the coming of Christ into our hearts, recognizing how much Christ depends on us to prepare the way for His coming to others.

Come Lord Jesus!
In the Word made flesh,
Fr. John

Knights of Columbus
Archbishop Neale Council, No. 2279
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Former Chaplain
Rev. John F. Reutemann
My Brother Knights,

As a brand new priest, I am very thankful to the Knights of Columbus for the financial and prayerful support given so generously not just to me, but to all seminarians, and so I am more than happy to get the chance now to serve you all as your council chaplain. 

I joined the Knights in my senior year of high school, shortly after making the life-changing decision to go into the seminary immediately after high school, rather than go to the Air Force Academy as I was ready to do. During those eight years of seminary, the Knights from my home council, and indeed throughout the archdiocese, provided me with not just financial support - as vital as that was - but with a prayerful, masculine presence which is so often lacking in both society and sometimes even the Church. 

The Knights are known internationally for all of the good that they do - and you certainly do a lot of good, not just for the Church but indeed for all society - but without wanting to sound like I'm diminishing the importance of those good works - because they are quite important - that which is even more important is simply to "be" those models of prayer and holiness which are so needed. 

Having been assigned to this parish for only 2 months, I have already been impressed at the number of times I see Knights at the noon Mass, taking time away from a lunch break to pray, or when I walk into the church late at night and see a Knight kneeling in prayer. Therefore, I want only to encourage you to continue your prayerful presence in the parish, recognizing  that our relationship with the Lord is the fountain from which we draw inspiration and strength to do whatever good works He calls us to do for His Bride, the Church. 

Rev. Fr. John F. Reutemann 

The entrance to the Nativity Basilica in Bethlehem is about 4 feet high. It is said that the opening was made this way in medieval times so the horseman could not ride disrespectfully into a church. What ever the reason in the past, today pilgrims have to bow before entering. Next, steps on the tour of the Basilica of the Nativity lead into a crypt of Nativity through yet another narrow and low doorway while descending on a winding stone staircase. 
It could make you think that one can not enter the mystery of the Nativity with unbowed heart. This could be something to keep in mind as we celebrate Advent season. This is a special time of reflection on coming of Christ not only in the past at Bethlehem, or in the end of time but also in the present in our personal lives.  
Advent is a time for a renewal of our relationship with God when we bow our hearts before the mystery of the Son of God becoming a man. A bow is a sign of respect. It could also signify a gesture of a humble submission. In this gesture Christians reflect humbleness of the Lord for Advent reminds us that Jesus “humbled himself to come among us as a man … to open for us the way of salvation.”  The eighth century Evening Hymn for Advent reads:
At your great Name, O Jesus now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things on earth, with one accord, 
Like those in heav’n, shall call you Lord.
Advent can be a truly valuable time preparing us for Christmas celebration of God’s boundless love with contrite hearts. After Advent spent on renewal of our relationship with God we will be blessed with a solemn blessing at the end of the Christmas Mass.We will hear a deacon giving the invitation: “Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing.” Then the priest will extend his hands and the threefold prayer of blessing will fill our minds and hearts:
May the God of infinite goodness scatter the darkness of sin and brighten your hearts with holiness.
May he fill you with joy and make you heralds of his gospel.
May he give you his peace and good will and fellowship with all the heavenly host.
Chaplain's Christmas Message
In Bethlehem
A low and narrow entrance into the Basilica of the Nativity.
In Bethlehem.
A painting from the Basilica.
In Bethlehem.
A silver star on the floor in the Crypt of the Basilica of the Nativity marking a site where Jesus Christ was born.
Photos I took on my visit to Bethlehem.
Click on the thumbnail photo for 
a larger view with captions.
Dear Brother Knights,
There is a place where people say Jesus was buried. It is called a Holy Sepulcher, a small shrine within a bigger church in the heart of an old town of Jerusalem. It is a crowning point of pilgrimage to Holy Land. Those who went there write diaries, memoirs, to capture their experience and to put it in words for others to read. A pilgrim, Jerry Ryan wrote in his article "The Tomb of Christ": 
"As I knelt in the tomb of Christ, prayer came spontaneously. I left everything there: all those whom I know, have known and will know, asking mercy for us all, giving thanks for all we have received and entrusting all to the power of the Resurrection. I returned several times. On benches facing the tomb of Christ, I spent many hours in silence, in the shadows. ... pilgrims gathered around in front of me and began to sing quietly, in English, what I think were antiphons from Holy Saturday, a peaceful and powerful chant. They sing of myrrh-bearing women hastening to the tomb, the angels amazed at the burial of their creator, the Virgin lamenting her only begotten, as though these mysteries were frozen in time.”
The mysteries are frozen in time indeed. But even better, they are timeless and could be found alive from generation to generation. They are source of faith and piety. They are mysteries engaging our lives.  As Knights of Columbus we want to continue our formation in faith so that the mysteries of our salvation stay in the center of our lives in this generation. I believe that forty days of Lent and the Holy Triddum provided an opportunity for the renewal of our lives. We had a chance to reflect on the meaning of Passion of Christ in our life.  Now, the significance of our accomplishment lies in our ability to maintain a spiritual atmosphere.  One way to do it is through more faithful participation in the Eucharist.
A couple years ago, I attended The Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. The last scene, when Jesus was placed in the tomb, was concluded with a prayer recited by the congregation. It professed a belief that the story of Jesus did not end in the tomb. But what I found inspiring in that scene was that the altar was used as a tomb of Christ. It was a fortunate choice pointing out to the very place from where Jesus continues his story. It is the Eucharist where he remains with us till the end of days. In words of the pilgrim, mentioned earlier:  
“The empty tomb is itself a sign of the Eucharistic presence - even its source. Somehow, out of the obscurity ... of the Holy sepulcher there shines forth the feeble, fragile light that illuminates the ages."
During the Easter Season we are all invited to reflect on the Mystery of Resurrection in our lives. The Eucharist gives us the best opportunity to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord as God’s family.  In faith we gather every Sunday to praise God for all the works of Christ and we bring to the celebration our joys and sorrows, our happiness and our worries. To pray- like that pilgrim- for those whom we know, have known and will know, asking for mercy, giving thanks and entrusting all to the power of the resurrection. 
Alleluia! Let the life of the Risen Christ reign above all else in our hearts, homes, and parish! May the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, bless you, and your loved ones, with the hope and grace of the Eternal Spring in the Kingdom of God!
Easter Reflection
Fr. Jerry Gamrot
Fr. Jerry Gamrot
After a Mass at Sacred Heart Church, celebrated by Chaplain, Fr. John Reutemann, Rev. Msgr. Karl Chimiak, Father Robert Buchmeier, Father Mark Smith and assisted by Deacons Albert Graham and Anthony Barrasso, a reception was held in the Friendship Room for the new seminarians Gregory Portner and Jonathan Teeney. 
Brothers Gregory Portner and Jonathan Teeney 
Mass and Reception
Sacred Heart Church, Friendship Room
See slide show images at bottom of this photo
Annual Seminarian Picnic
at the home of PGK Michael  and Tina Raymond
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Rev. Lawrence C. Swink
Father John's Farewell Mass and Reception
Sunday, 17 November 2013
    The weather was great, the Mass was packed as was the reception. Lots of good food and memories of a young and popular priest headed for a new and challenging journey with the United States Air Force. 
    May God continue to bless you and keep you safe.
New Evangelization
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A "Full House" in a game of 7 card stud poker is a winner and Father Scott Holmer had a "Full House" tonight  at the Greene Turtle Restaurant in La Plata. He gave an interesting and spirited talk on "God and Evolution" to an enthusiastic crowd. Well done!

Recommended reading for more information on "God and Evolution" . 

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