Dear Sisters and Brothers –
This weekend we begin a new liturgical year, and we do so with Advent, a brief four-week season of preparation to enter into the mystery of the Incarnation, of Emmanuel, of God with us. An important season, many of us find it challenging, if not impossible, to enter into its spirit. Why is that?
There may be more, but I would suggest two reasons. The first is that Advent feels more like an obligation than an invitation; it feels like one more thing to do. Asking ourselves to be a bit more reflective than usual on top of Christmas shopping to be done, office and other parties to attend, cards to be sent, and meals to be prepared is a tall order, one more thing we ought to do; and our lives are already full.
The second reason Advent can be difficult to enter into is that it is a season of waiting, longing, and hoping; and it isn’t easy for us busy, over-taxed, and not-always-good-at-delayed-gratification people to wait, long, and hope.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer for any of us, including myself. But, I can promise that a bit of extra spiritual discipline these four weeks will pay off. Perhaps not on December 25th, but the practice of looking–and waiting–for the ways that God meets us in our longing and hoping makes us better at noticing it in the persistent busyness of our lives, even outside the Advent and Christmas seasons.
A Jesuit friend shared this verse written by Susan Werner and made popular by the group, Red Molly; it’s entitled “May I Suggest,” and it gets to the meaning of Advent.
May I suggest,
May I suggest to you,
May I suggest this is the best part of your life.
May I suggest
This time is blessed for you,
This time is blessed and shining almost blinding bright.
Just turn your head
And you’ll begin to see
The thousand reasons that were just beyond your sight.
The reason why,
Why I suggest to you,
Why I suggest this is the best part of your life.
To help you in your Advent journey, the parish is once again offering a small book, Daily Reflection of Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope. I hope you find it useful.
On another note, I attended the ordination of Alex Llanera, S.J. last weekend. Alex has preached at St. Ignatius as a deacon a few times this semester, so he is already familiar to many of you. A graduate of Jesuit High School in Sacramento and Loyola University Maryland, Alex entered the Society in 2008. Since then, he has lived, studied, and worked in Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Toronto. He has earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and theological studies and master’s degrees in political science and divinity. He is currently working on his Licentiate in sacred theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.
As part of the ordination rite, a former colleague of his, when Alex worked St. Ignatius College Prep as a scholastic, gave testimony to the bishop on Alex’s readiness for Holy Orders. Dr. Christiansen noted that he is characterized by joy and generosity; that to know Alex is to know–or better, he said, to hear–joy, especially in his smile and his laughter; and he shares generously two of the greatest assets each of us has: our time and our emotions. I am happy to tell you that Alex will be on our Mass and confessions rotation for the rest of the year (at least!), beginning this weekend. Welcome Alex and God bless you in your new ministry!
Oremus pro invicem,