My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
How is it possible that this weekend we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent with Christmas following next Friday? Maybe it’s because this whole year has been so confusing and, at times, time itself seems to either be dragging or rushing furiously past us. Whatever may be going on around us, it’s still a season in which we can rejoice for the good things which we enjoy. It has been a special joy to me this year to have already received so many beautiful and encouraging Christmas cards filled with special, personal Christmas messages of support to me as your pastor. Thank you so very much to all of you for your care and love shown in so many ways.
Since having to close the parish to in-person attendance for Mass on the weekends, the response to our drive-through reception of Holy Communion has wonderfully exploded! Word apparently has gotten out to some of the other parishes that we’re continuing to have our drive-through because there were a number of folks who showed up last weekend whom I know to be parishioners elsewhere. That’s fine; all are welcome at St. Frances Cabrini! Having said that, we noticed that people are lining up on both sides of Presidio Rd. to come onto the parish campus, and this could turn into a dangerous situation. Therefore, I’m asking all of you who come for drive-through to now come onto the campus using the driveway closest to the parish office. Proceed through the open gateway to the back (north) parking lot, turn west, and just line up along that parking lot until you come to the west-side parking lot. Turn left to line up on the west side of the church where I’ll be standing to distribute the Eucharist to you. I hope I’ve made that as clear as possible. I believe this will make things safer and more efficient. The far west gate to the west parking lot will be closed, and we’re planning on having signage in place to help with the flow of traffic. I remember the first weekend that we had drive-through. You all were so cooperative, and it actually went very smoothly. I believe this change will work out well too.
I’ve been asked to forward a couple of messages from our St. Vincent de Paul Conference. First of all the Conference deeply thanks all of you who contributed both food and money to the Vincentians so that they could help those in need during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. Your assistance has made a world of difference in so many lives, and your open-hearted generosity will certainly be met with great rewards both now and in the future.
The second message that our Vincentians have asked us to share with you is that starting in January, the blue barrels for the collection of non-perishable food will be made available only on the first weekend of each month. The Vincentians end their message by writing, “Your continued support in helping our Conference assist families in need is very much appreciated. Thank you!” If you have any questions about this, please feel free to call the Vincentians weekdays at 881-3075 between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. If you reach their voicemail, please leave a message for them to return your call; they are very good about responding to each and every call.
One final news item before sharing a little reflection with you. My Christmas letter to the parish was already prepared to be sent out when we received word that we had to close the parish to in-person celebrations of the Mass. When you receive your copy of the letter, it will have a paragraph that gives our tentative Christmas schedule. Please ignore it! As I wrote in my previous email, I will be distributing Holy Communion via our drive-through on Christmas Eve at 5:00 p.m. There will be neither Masses nor drive-through reception of Holy Communion on Christmas Day. I will again be distributing Communion on Saturday, December 26, via drive-through at 5:00 p.m., but again, for the foreseeable future, there will be no public celebration of Mass here at Cabrini.
How many of you remember the old television show “Mission Impossible?” Every episode began with the leader of the Mission Impossible team getting a very cryptic message about a seemingly impossible mission for the team to accomplish. That part of the message always began, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is .…” And, of course, the team not only accepted the mission, they were always successful in accomplishing it. The thought of having been given a choice to accept a wonderful mission for our own lives came to me as I was reflecting upon our Gospel message for this weekend, which is the account of the Annunciation in Luke 1:26-38. Mary, having listened to God’s message to her through the angel, Gabriel, and as she accepted this almost unspeakable, seemingly impossible mission, that young woman made her commitment to her God-given mission in her historic fiat, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” By definition, a fiat is a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort. In Genesis 1, God spoke the universe into existence. He spoke, and all of Creation came about without further effort. He created by fiat. The Lord spoke through His angel to Mary, and without further action or thought, Mary embraced her life-mission. It sits on my heart today that we are all being called, in this season, to reflect on our own acceptance of our mission to bear Christ to the world in our own time. Are we still willing to give our wholehearted “yes” to the Lord even in times when it just seems impossible to do so? Perhaps the very best gift that I could give to the Lord in this season is my own unreserved “yes” to His will for my life, my “yes” to the mission to which He continues to call me. Could that possibly be what He is looking for from your life as well?
Please accept this little note today, not so much as “Covid 19 Letter #35”, but, more importantly, as my little Christmas wish to each of you that you will find this to truly be for you a most holy season of joy and renewal of your faith.
With deepest gratitude for the gifts that you are to me, I remain
Your brother in Christ,