Dear Sisters and Brothers –
In my homily last weekend, I introduced parishioners to my Sicilian grandmother, Nana, as we called her. The first Sunday each month, she made sure that her and Grandpa’s entire family was around their dining room table for dinner. She would serve us course after course: spaghetti with her homemade tomato sauce and meatballs, Italian sausage, veal cutlets, eggplant and [too!] much more. After dinner, we would adjourn to the living room for Nana’s homemade biscotti (and a bit of Amaretto!). I remember those dinners fondly (and wistfully–many of her recipes went home to God when she did) because, quite simply, all was right with the world when we were gathered together around that table, despite tensions in the family, my problems at school, or the social unrest of the ‘60s outside the walls of their home. To be clear, though, dinner at Nana and Grandpa’s was not an option; rather, it was her “warm obligation” that she imposed upon us.
I also spoke of my experience of our Pentecost Sunday last June. About 600 to 700 people gathered, sitting toward the front of the church with our voices filling our immense church as we sang with the choir. At that Mass, you blessed my father as I anointed him before his shoulder surgery the next day, and you blessed me because I was celebrating 25 years of priesthood. It was a glorious liturgy, and the Holy Spirit was thickly present among us. Like being at Nana’s for dinner, despite all that was going on in the Church and the world outside those walls, all was right in our hearts and among us.
More than a place to fed by her better-than-delicious food, Nana’s table was where we learned to be family, to be able to appreciate and love one another despite our squabbles and differences of opinion. We learned that those ties of family and love are stronger and deeper than the things that seem, sometimes, to want to pull us apart. And our Table at St. Ignatius Church–Jesus’ Table, at which we gather each week–is no different. The world around us begs us to take sides and to disagree. That can be fine, but we need to remember that our fundamental human identity is as children of God. More deeply than any other identity we may have, we are the Baptized, brothers and sisters in Christ. By gathering around the Table each week, we are reminded of that truth. And as that truth is deepened within us, we are knit more powerfully and profoundly into the Body of Christ.
I believe that it is important for us as a faith community to feel more frequently than we do what we felt together last June. In order that we might feel this bond and the Holy Spirit among us more deeply than we might on an ordinary Sunday, I introduced your new Sicilian grandmother (me!) and I laid out for us, St. Ignatius Parish, Nana’s “warm obligation:” Beginning in November and lasting through next April, there will be only one Mass at St. Ignatius the third weekend of each month. Our parish faith community will gather on Sunday morning at 10 o’clock, and, as we did and Nana’s, we’ll adjourn together to have some form of social and fellowship. Next month in November, it will be our annual Pancake Breakfast to benefit our Las Vecinas de El Salvador Ministry and our sister parish in Soyapango, San Salvador, and the pancakes are on me! (To see a video of last week’s homily plus details about Home4Dinner, please visit: www.stignatiussf.org/event/home4dinner.)
So, mark your calendars for November 17 because this Sicilian grandmother wants everyone #Home4Dinner!
Oremus pro invicem.