That is the episcopal motto of the new ordinary of Sacramento, Bishop Jaime Soto (it translates as "Joy and Hope" for those who no habla español.) Our previous ordinary, Bishop William Weigand, retired yesterday which also happened to be the fifteenth anniversary of his installation as Bishop of Sacramento. In some ways, I feel like I have to say goodbye to Bishop Weigand right after saying hello. Although I haven't known him as long as some of my brother seminarians have, his concern and devotion to our welfare shone through in the times we have all spent with him at retreats and dinners. The Diocese of Sacramento, and the entire Church, has been blessed to have him as a shepherd. We will all miss him, but after twenty eight years as a diocesan bishop - thirteen years for Salt Lake City and then fifteen for Sacramento - he has certainly earned his retirement! We will all pray that it proves restful and spiritually fruitful.
One thing I like about being Catholic is we get to celebrate New Year's early: yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, the start of a new liturgical year. Advent and Christmas are my favorite times of the year. It seems providential that Bishop Soto became our new bishop yesterday. I believe his motto comes from the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. There certainly are many problems in our country and in our world. But it is important to avoid the two errors one can make here: either throwing up one's hands in despair, or pretending that the problems don't exist through a false optimism. Part of our mission as future priests is to lead souls to the source of all joy and hope: our Lord Jesus Christ, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament. He is the rock upon which authentic joy and hope for the future can rest. Keep your heart and your soul focused on Him, whatever your state of life, and you will be filled with the joy and hope that comes from knowing that the greatest victory has already been won.
I look forward to the day, God willing, when I will be able to serve our new bishop as a priest. Finals are almost here, which means I only have six and a half years to go!