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First Sunday of Advent

The Advent wreath first appeared in Germany in 1839. A Lutheran minister working at a mission for children created a wreath out of the wheel of a cart. He placed twenty small red candles and four large white candles inside the ring. The red candles were lit on weekdays and the four white candles were lit on Sundays.

Eventually, the Advent wreath was created out of evergreens, symbolizing everlasting life in the midst of winter and death as the evergreen is continuously green. The circle reminds us of God’s unending love and the eternal life He makes possible.

Advent candles shine brightly in the midst of darkness, symbolizing and reminding us that Jesus came as Light into our dark world. The candles are often set in a circular Advent wreath. In Scandinavia, Lutheran churches light a candle each day of December; by Christmas, they have twenty-four candles burning. Another Advent candle option is a single candle with twenty-four marks on the side--the candle is lit each day and allowed to melt down to the next day’s mark.

The most common Advent candle tradition, however, involves four candles around the wreath. A new candle is lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Each candle represents something different, although traditions vary. Often, the first, second, and fourth candles are purple; the third candle is rose-colored. Sometimes all the candles are red; in other traditions, all four candles are blue or white. Occasionally, a fifth white candle is placed in the middle of the wreath and is lit on Christmas Day to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

The advent candles correspond to the themes of each week of advent. Families and church congregations begin lighting a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and they light another candle each subsequent Sunday.

  • The first candle symbolizes hope and is called the "Prophet’s Candle." The prophets of the Old Testament, especially Isaiah, waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival.

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World Day of Prayer

Worship Schedule

What You Need to Know about our Church Reopening

Nini unahitaji kujua juu ya ufunguzi wa Kanisa

Lo que necesita saber sobre nuestra reapertura de la iglesia

Click here to watch Fr. Jim's video explaining the new guidelines for attending Mass.

Mass    Saturday    6:00 pm, Spanish

  Sunday   10:30 am, Multilingual
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        Daily Reflections 
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     Wednesday     7:30 am   English
     Friday     7:30 am   English
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          6:00 pm   Spanish
     Sunday     9:00 am   Spanish
        11:00 am   English
        12:30 pm   Spanish

The Strangers We Meet

Painting in the vestibule of St. Leo's

The work of the late Fr. Jim Hasse, SJ, “The Strangers We Meet” depicts Christ breaking bread at Emmaus. Instead of more traditional representations, it depicts Christt as a man of African descent, sitting with people of various ages and from various ethnic heritages. All the models were St. Leo parishioners.

“Fr. Jim captured spiritual life in his works, revealing the sacredness in everyday people and everyday actions,“ says Fr. Josephh Folzenlogen, SJ, who lived and worked with the priest painter at Claver Jesuit Ministries in South Cumminsville (OH). “Jim’s paintings were mirrors in which people could see their own beauty.”

Models for the 2004 painting were Timaya Smith (the child in the foreground), Amy Egan, Darnell Edwards, Ivy Peppers, and Rick Nohle.

“Since Jim used people from the parishes and neighborhoods where he worked as his models, the paintings were not just images,” says Fr. Joe. “They were connections with people he loved. Those people were also his children.”

St. Leo parishioner Stephanie Sepate describes the painting as “a beautiful remembrance of purpose” in every life.

“In the upper left of our painting is the figure of the angel by the tomb of the Risen Lord, and the women running to share the news,” she says. “What a beautiful remembrance of purpose in each of our lives — we are not really strangers to each other but we are all one universal family in our life’s journey.”

Fr. Jim Hasse, whose paintings appeared in several publications and are held in private collections, including the art museum at St. Louis University, died in 2011. Most of his paintings are of biblical subjects and feature African-American people he worked with. To see several galleries of his works with associated reflections, click here.

A New Life

Michelangelo sculpted the Pietà in 1498–1499,    taking less than two years to complete. His depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion on the rock of Golgatha is one of the most famous pieces of sculpture known by so many across the world.

Showing the "religious vision of abandonment and a serene face of the Son", Michelangelo did not want his version of the Pietà to represent death, but rather a representation of the communion between man and God through Christ’s gift of life.

For the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the Vatican loaned the Pietà for installation in the Vatican pavilion. A conveyor belt moved people, who stood in line for hours, past the sculpture. It is housed in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed.

Several decades ago, St. Leo was gifted with a beautiful representation of the Pietà in memory of the Schuchart Family. Over the years, the wear and tear, fragments of the more fragile areas of the statue cracked or missing, and chipping paint called a friend of the parish to totally refurbish our Pietà. To repaint it with its former colors would have shown the flaws; it was decided to paint it all one color, especially in keeping with the make-up of our parish—all one people. After months and months of prayerful restoration, our Pietà finally came home, quite appropriately, the day before Ash Wednesday.

As we celebrate Holy Week and Easter, we are grateful for Michelangelo’s reminder of the ultimate gift in our midst. The St. Leo Pietà has been given a new life; let us all celebrate a season of renewal in our own lives as Lent ends and as we rejoice in the hope and joy of Easter’s Alleluias!

- Stephanie Sepate

First Sunday of Advent

From Fr. Jim:  
November 29, 2020 

Bivuye kwa Padiri Jim:  
Novemba 29, 2020
(African translation)

de Padre Jim . . .
29 de noviembre de 2020

      Keeping Advent:   Advent is a time of beginning and endings.  It embraces the end of the world’s civil calendar and the beginning of the church’s sacred cycle.  Nature’s changes and the emergence of winter, the passing of the old year, the end of ordinary time through which we read Matthew’s Gospel.  However, a new gospel is opened.  This year we will be reading from Mark.   Each week we light another candle on the Advent wreath.  “Watching” and “waiting” is balanced by “rejoice” and “fulfillment” as the community moves into winter’s darkness with a clear orientation toward the light which is Jesus Christ and in whom all things can be made new.

     At this time of the year, more than any other, we need to see society not as a world that is lost but as the world God refused to be lost; (not as a people condemned but a people beholding of God’s dwelling place of merciful, saving, redeeming love.   Advent is about longing and desire – not for material gifts – though that may be the reality for many- but longing and desire for the full realization of God’s kingdom.  With the first Christians, we long and wait for that day to come and we live in such a way that will build the kingdom of God on earth as we wait for the kingdom to be fully realized in heaven.  We live not as a people who are lost but as a people whom God has refused to be lost.  (We live not in darkness, despair and without hope but in light, forgiveness, and abundance of grace.

     The official explanation of the season defines the spirit that should mark the life of each believer and of every believing community as “devout and joyful expectation.” We can expect that Christ’s first coming and presence has changed and challenged the darkness of sin and death and makes clear God’s intention to refuse to allow the world to be lost.  We can expect Christ’s second coming to bring life to fullness and make the victory over sin and death complete.  As believers, we wait devoutly and joyfully for signs of God’s presence among us in Word and Sacrament, inviting us to become one with the reign of Christ’s love.  Advent asks us to wait and hope with devotion and joy as we await his return in glory.  The waiting that we do has a two-fold nature: “waiting in memory of the first, humble coming of the Lord in our mortal flesh,” and the waiting supplication for his final, glorious coming as Lord of History and “universal Judge.”  (From the Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy.)   

      A Reflection:  What if the Season of Advent were commercialized in our stores just like the Season of Christmas?  What would it look like?   If the stores, radio and television stations were to sell Advent like they do Christmas, what would they sell?  What special Advent songs would you hear on the radio?  What special programs would air on TV?  Who would you interview for Advent?  What acts of devout and joyful expectation for being freed from the power of sin and death and for believing that one day you will be completely free from its power, sells you on the Season of Advent this year?  How is and will God show you that you are someone who he refuses to be lost?  How does the season of Advent speak to pandemic sickness and racial tensions and injustices that we experience today? How can we bring the Good News to others?  Do participating in any of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy reveal how Christ has come, is come and will come again?  Come, Lord Jesus, Come!