An Invitation to Fr. Gary’s Advent Series

This Sunday we celebrate the “Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe,” the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year. This ending of course gives way to the beginning of a new liturgical cycle, with the beautiful season of Advent leading up to the celebrations of the Christmas Season.  Even in our secular culture, we know the celebration of Thanksgiving this week marks the opening of the holiday season with its many opportunities for loving gatherings with family and friends, acts of social charity and kindness, and expressions of our human longings for peace and reconciliation.

Following on last year’s well-attended Zoom Advent Evening Prayer services, we will once again offer an online Evening Prayer on each of the four Wednesdays of Advent beginning December 1.  But this year we will add a new element: learning more about and reflecting on the four Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Jesuits, one each week.  These are the four primary concerns that give direction to every Jesuit ministry – all our schools, retreat centers, social services, and parishes.  The Preferences are the outcome of a multi-year process of discernment within the Jesuit order, in which all the individual Jesuits and local communities throughout the world were asked prayerfully to name what they thought were the most urgent human needs of our times that we should be addressing.  The Preferences were announced in 2019, but the onset of the Covid pandemic rapidly eclipsed them and they slipped into the background.  It is time now for us to renew our acquaintance with them and allow them to shape our self-understanding and our commitments as a Jesuit parish.  Here they are:

  • Showing the way to God: Show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment
  • Walking with the Excluded: Walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice
  • Journeying with Youth: Accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future
  • Caring for our Common Home: Collaborate, with Gospel depth, for the protection and renewal of God’s Creation

After our Evening Prayer each week, I will make a presentation on one of the Universal Apostolic Preferences.  The Evening Prayers are brief enough that everyone can find the time each Wednesday to join together in our parish prayer and reflection. (See details elsewhere in this week’s eNewsletter.) And I invite you to remain online after the Prayer to experience how the Holy Spirit is inspiring our imaginations and awakening our spiritual desires through the Apostolic Preferences.

May your Thanksgiving celebrations be blessed and renewing for you and yours!  Don’t forget to practice Covid safety… and to take a few moments to actually give thanks to God for all your gifts and graces.  They say gratitude is the foundation of all genuine religious experience!