Dear People of Saint Anne,
We all love the beauty, warmth and joyful spirit of Christmas with its wonderful holiday traditions. However, our Advent Scriptures this week invite us to not get so ahead of ourselves and call us to a change inside before we celebrate this great feast of beauty. The Living Word of God is calling us to take stock of our hearts this Advent season. It encourages us to move our lives around a bit, rearrange our priorities internally and be willing to make some changes from the inside-out.
Our Scriptures on this Second Sunday of Advent begin with the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah calls us to this inside-out change in order to make room for God’s Messiah. He declares, Prepare the way of the Lord. In other words-get ready, for the Savior is on his way. Then Isaiah tells us that when the Savior comes, things are going to get rearranged as he draws near. Every valley will be filled in … the mountains will be made low … the crooked things will be moved around so that they are straight … and the rough country will be broad and smooth.
Then, we hear from John the Baptist that the time of salvation is at hand. John tells us we must change in order to make room for him in our lives. Things cannot remain the same. We hear John call us to repentance-a change from the inside-out. He challenges us to be shaken up, become uncomfortable and unsettled by the arrival of the Savior.
In other words, what familiar routines and spiritual ruts do we find ourselves in during this Advent season 2017? He seems to tell us there should be some discomfort or conversion necessary for us to make room in our lives for the Savior. Have we settled for a mediocre Christianity? Have we developed patterns of sin in our lives or have our lives become cluttered with angers, old hurts or selfishness? The message of the Gospel we hear today is to repent and change in order to make true and real room for the Savior.
Comfort, says Isaiah in the very first line of our First Reading, give comfort to my people, says your God. Comfort God’s people, especially bring comfort to those who suffer … those who are alone … comfort those who are in need, who are poor or experience injustice.
So, the Advent questions this week are straight-forward. Are we willing to rearrange some of the clutter and chaos of our lives in order to make room for Christ? Are we willing to be inconvenienced by the demands of the Gospel? Are we ready to accept the fact that the Savior calls to repent-to make the changes necessary-so that we can open the hearts of our lives to make some room for Christ and let him in where he longs to be born anew within us and among us?
A few weeks ago, our parish staff had a wonderful lunch with Father Chris Ciastoń. We had the opportunity to hear about his four-month health leave from our parish. It was a wonderful time for us to gather together and reconnect with Chris as he prepares to make his re-entry into our parish community. Chris will return to full-time ministry here at Saint Anne on Friday, December 15th. Next weekend, Chris will preach at all the Masses to share his journey. I am sure that you join me in welcoming Father Chris back among us.
I trust that you heard or read that Cardinal Cupich was visiting Puerto Rico this past week. The Cardinal was meeting with storm victims on behalf of Pope Francis who asked him to visit the island and extend the Holy Father’s personal concern and prayers for them as they attempt the great challenge of rebuilding and recovering from the hurricane. I hope that you felt a great sense of solidarity with the Cardinal as he visited Las Hermanas Dominicas in Mayaguez, our Lenten Alms cause last year, and presented them with a $40,000.00 check from the donations we raised last year in our partnership with the Extension society.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your ongoing support of the Legacy of Faith Campaign. Of the roughly $7 million in pledges, we have received nearly $3.2 million in gifts! We have been providing you with periodic updates on all the projects undertaken as part of the campaign and will continue to do so in the coming months.
In addition, we want to be responsive to your questions and requests for information, especially as we approach the end of the calendar year. Here are some that we have been receiving most often.
- If you would like to change the credit card used to make your pledge payments or your card has expired, please call 312.534.8500with a new card number.
- If you would like to change the form in which you are making your payments (credit card, personal check, GiveCentral, etc.), for the Legacy of Faith Campaign, please call 312.534.8500.
- If your pledge was for a gift to be made annually or semi-annually at the end of the calendar year, you can expect to receive instructions for fulfilling that pledge several weeks before the requested gift date.
The Archdiocese of Chicago arranged for Saint Anne and the other 340+ parishes in the Archdiocese to hold their respective campaign funds in separate interest-bearing accounts managed by Northern Trust Bank. The Archdiocese has agreed to assume many of the related costs, including sending tax receipts and instructions for the fulfillment of pledges. With the large number of donors designating gift dates at the end of the calendar year, there may be a delay.
If you would like to verify the terms of your pledge, make a pledge to the Legacy of Faith Campaign or have other questions, please contact Andrea Wirt, Campaign Coordinator, at 312.218.5312 or LegacyofFaith@stannebarrington.org.
As we wait upon the ever new coming of the birth of the Savior,
Father Bernie Pietrzak