Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter-December 16, 2018

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

The third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday.  The Latin word, Gaudete, means literally, “You rejoice!”  It comes from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon for this Sunday. St. Paul, writing to the Philippians, names the cause of this imperative to rejoice—“The Lord is near.”

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser reminds us that “joy can never be induced, cranked up, or made to happen.  It’s something that has to find us precisely within our ordinary, duty-bound, burdened, full-of-worries, and pressured lives.”  And that’s not easy to do when you live with economic insecurity, or your loved one continues to battle cancer, or in a world where children are separated from their parents.

A bit of advice on how to do that comes from the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  I read their book during my annual retreat in June, entitled The Book of Joy.  It’s a chronicle of a week they spent together several years ago during which they tried to discover and articulate what they believe enables them to live with joy in all circumstances.  As you would expect, the book is inspiring.  But it is also practical, especially in this quick three-point summary of the key to living with joy: First is the ability to reframe your circumstances more positively.  Second is the ability to experience gratitude.  Third is the choice to be kind and to be generous.  Perhaps these spiritual disciplines can help us to live authentically, with Advent joy in the midst of the real world–and be the light we await at Christmas.

On another note, we had two of our annual signature parish events over the past couple of weekends, the Las Vecinas Pancake Breakfast (which had been postponed because of the Butte County fire) and the Christmas Emporium.  Both were wonderfully fun events; the first offered an opportunity for fellowship over delicious pancakes and supporting our commitments to our sister parish in El Salvador, San Antonio, and the latter provided holiday cheer and raising funds to help those affected by the Butte County fire.

Such events don’t happen without a lot of planning, hard work and planning.  On behalf of all of us who benefited, I express our sincere gratitude–and admiration!–for the time and care that you gave to us and to those who will benefit.  As one of the volunteers at the Emporium said, “Work ethic + collaboration + big dose of humor = fun!”  Amen!  Again, thank you.  May your generosity bear fruit in the lives of those you sought to serve, and may you experience the 100-fold promised by the Gospel.

Finally, an update on our Archdiocesan Annual Appeal collections.  People responded generously to my appeal a couple of weeks ago, which increased our parish total to about $162,660, but leaves us with about $67,580 to raise.  To reach that goal by January 9, we need everyone’s participation.  Of our 1400 registered households, 368 have participated, so we need your help!  Brochures are in the church or you may pledge online at: www.sfarch.org/aaa.  Remember to select “St. Ignatius Church” in the drop-down menu if you donate online.  I hope you will be especially generous in showing your support for the work of the Body of Christ throughout the Archdiocese.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.

God bless you these remaining days of Advent.

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Greg