From the Pastor’s Desk

April 18 – Third Sunday of Easter

Happy Easter! As we celebrate the Third Sunday of Easter, I would like to extend a profound and heartfelt “THANK YOU” to several groups of people who put their heart and soul in serving you, our parishioners, during the Lenten and Easter seasons. I am always hesitant to single out individual people because inevitably, I will forget to include someone,
but I do want to mention Fr. James. Not long after Fr. James arrived, I
told him that I wanted him to preside and preach the three liturgies of the
Sacred Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. He
looked at me like a deer in headlights! What! He exclaimed! I told him I
thought it would be a great experience for him as a newly ordained and
that really the Triduum is one continuous liturgy, spread over three days.
He embraced the challenge and did what I thought was a splendid job.
His next pastor probably won’t be as demanding!

There are three groups that I want to specifically extend my deep appreciation for all the time, effort and energy that they so generously gave to ensuring a prayerful Lenten and Easter Season. First, the Liturgical Planning and Mass Coordinators. A tremendous amount of thought and
energy went in to the details and coordination required to provide worship during the COVID pandemic protocols and limits. Thanks to all
who cleaned, set-up, and took down what need to be done. Great
job….everything went smoothly! Next, the Art and Environment Committee. As usual, we were recipients of their creative talent! The
gradual transformation from the stark environment of Lent to the splendid
beauty of Easter was stunning and beautiful! Thank you for the endless
hours of planning and then preparing and executing an inspiring environment of worship.

Next, the Liturgical and Music Ministers. A big thank you to all our
greeters who so warmly and enthusiastically welcomed our parishioners
and visitors to Masses and other liturgical services. You are our frontline of our mission to provided everyone with a life changing encounter
with Jesus. Thanks to those liturgical ministers who spent time preparing
to serve at Mass as Deacons, Readers, Lectors, Extra-Ordinary Ministers
of the Eucharist. A big thank you to our seminarians too for their assistance during Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter Sunday. Despite the
fact that COVID pandemic protocols still do not permit choirs and brass
instruments, our Music Director coordinated beautiful, inspiring and uplifting music for all our liturgies during Lent and Easter. We are blessed
at OLM to have so many gifted musicians and vocalists. We express our
appreciation to all of them who uplifted us musically and blessed us with
hope during this Easter season. And a huge THANK YOU to our
Livestream Team for keeping those who are unable to be present
physically, to be present in spirit. Hopefully, I haven’t forgotten any
group. If I did, I apologize. Know of my appreciation!

Have a Blessed Easter Season!

Father Don

From the Pastor’s Desk

April 11 – Second Sunday of Easter

Tradition has long characterized poor Thomas as “doubting Thomas.” But, Thomas should not be seen as the great paragon of doubt as tradition has characterized him.  When told about the first appearance, Thomas is skeptical because he was not there and has not seen what the other apostles saw.  All he wants is the same evidence that the other disciples already have.  Jesus seems to have no problem in giving Thomas what he needs.  Seeing the risen Lord is enough for Thomas.  He does not touch the wounds of Jesus.  Instead, he professes a profound faith in his Lord and his God.  The Lord gives us what we need that we might believe in him.  And what might that be?  What do you need to believe in Jesus?

If you need something to believe in Jesus, I suggest it is what the Church celebrates today – Divine Mercy!  The devotion of Divine Mercy is associated with the apparitions of Jesus to Saint Faustine Kowalska.  The primary focus of the Divine Mercy devotion is the merciful love of God and the desire to let that love and mercy flow through one’s own hear toward those in need of it.  Jesus showed mercy toward Thomas by granting Thomas what he needed to believe.  Thomas didn’t deserve mercy – he didn’t believe the witness of his brother apostles.  But that’s the point, mercy is never deserved.  Mercy always flows from a heart of compassion.  In celebrating Divine Mercy, we pray for a compassionate heart like that of Jesus.  In receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, we experience the mercy of Jesus poured out on us, so that we can pour out His mercy on others.  Let us celebrate the Divine Mercy each of us have received from God throughout our life, and be quick to offer mercy to anyone who offends or hurts us!

Have a blessed Easter Season!

Father Don

From the Pastor’s Desk

April 4 – Easter

ALLELUIA! We celebrate another Easter Sunday!  Of course we know what we celebrate – that God raised Jesus from the dead and through our death in baptism, we too will be raised from the dead.  But there is more than that!  How does this reality affect our daily life between our baptism and our physical death?  Jesus had a way of surprising his disciples.  They witnessed how he walked on water, multiplied fish and bread, and turned water into wine.  Yet they are surprised to find the tomb empty though he had told them more than once that he would rise on the third day.  Once again, Jesus shocks them, moving far beyond their expectations.  In our lives we encounter Jesus in surprising ways.  Maybe the most surprising is that others encounter Jesus in each of us!

St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians reminds us that Christ is revealed through us.  Today’s readings encourage us to let go of our feelings of unworthiness and any judgments we have placed on others.  Today we renew our baptismal promises.  Our baptism calls us to step over the obstacles of race, creed, and personal prejudice to build relationship where we encounter Christ with and through one another.

In today’s Gospel we see Peter, standing in the empty tomb, surprised and silent.  Peter, who had denied knowing Jesus three times, must have felt unworthy and fearful.  Like Peter, we may sometimes feel inadequate or undeserving to be disciples in the world today.  Occasionally we may have doubts and questions about our faith.  We can turn to Scripture and prayer to help us grow closer to Jesus.  By our participation in the sacraments, with God’s grace, our faith becomes stronger.  On entering the tomb after Peter, the beloved disciple sees and believes.  We are all beloved disciples.  The tomb is empty; Jesus is with his disciples in a new way.  Like the disciples, we encounter Jesus, sometimes in surprising ways!

On behalf of Fr. James, our Permanent Deacons and their wives, our seminarian Tom Logue, and all our staff, I wish all of you a blessed and joyful Easter!

Father Don

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

March 28 – Palm Sunday

Unlike Holy Week and Easter last year when the Churches were closed and livestreaming was the only option, this year we are able to have a limited number of people present to celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter. The Diocese of Joliet sent a memo on March 4, 2021 to all parishes stating that despite the increase in the number of people being vaccinated and relaxation of restrictions in some Dioceses and businesses that for now, parishes are directed to hold to the current requirements that have been in effect.  SO, IF YOU WANT TO ATTEND IN PERSON ANY OF THE HOLY WEEK SERVICES AND/OR MASS ON EASTER SUNDAY, YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER ON THE PARISH WEBSITE OR CALL THE PARISH BY MONDAY, MARCH 29.  Many of the services and Easter Sunday Masses will still be livestreamed.  Let’s all pray that a return to “normal” will not be far off!

Today we begin Holy Week.  Twice we will hear the account of the passion of Jesus.  In today’s gospel from Mark, and on Good Friday from the gospel of John.  In these readings we focus a lot of our attention, and rightly so, on the suffering of Jesus and all he endured out of love for us, to save us.  I also challenge us with another perspective regarding the passion accounts of Jesus.  Among all the cruel and violent persons we hear about in Christ’s suffering last hours, it is easy to overlook those who were kind.  At Bethany, Simon the leper offers him hospitality, and a nameless to us woman, with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil anoints Jesus.  Since Jesus will soon be executed as a criminal, with the possibility of no Jewish funeral rite or burial place, this was a tender moment of deep meaning.  She put herself in danger to honor him and his sacrifice.  In Jerusalem there was Simon of Cyrene who helped carry his cross, and Joseph of Arimathea who courageously asked Pilate for the body of Jesus and laid him in a new tomb.  All of these people, and perhaps more whom we do not know, were glimpses of light in a day of darkness.  They were peace amidst the conflict.  Joy amidst the sorrow.  Celebration in the midst of tragedy.  With this in mind, we are challenged this week to be in solidarity with someone who is suffering.  Discipleship requires the way of solidarity.  Jesus emptied himself.  Jesus sacrificed.  Jesus gives himself completely for all of us.  What sacrifices might God be asking of us to better live in solidarity with those who suffer across the globe and in our local community?  Solidarity is the God-given ability to love others who are different from us and to see them as our brother or sisters.  Solidarity compels us to work for justice, make sacrifices for the common good, and love our neighbor as ourselves.  Pope Francis writes:  “This word solidarity runs the risk of being deleted from the dictionary because it is a word that bothers us; it bother us.  Why?  Because it requires you to look at another and give yourself to another with love.”  This week, be one of the named or unnamed characters in the passion narrative who showed kindness to Jesus!

Have a Blessed Holy Week!

Father Don

From the Pastor’s Desk

March 21 – Fifth Sunday of Lent

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we enter the last full week of Lent.  Next weekend is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.  Lent ends when we start the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, this year on April 1.  It is time to reflect on how well we have done with our resolutions for this Lent.  If not so well, perhaps a prayer St. Augustine recited resonates with our experience:  “Grant me chastity and self-control, but please not yet” (Confessions 8.7.17).  This prayer probably resonates with some of us.  We admire goodness and righteousness.  We respect them and aspire to them, but we also enjoy our faults.  If they weren’t enjoyable, we wouldn’t keep kicking the proverbial can down the road!  Perhaps the title of St. Augustine’s “Confessions” should be re-titled:  “The Procrastination of Perfection!”  With Augustine, we pray for conversion from our sins, but not yet.

In our First Reading today from the Prophet Jeremiah, there is an astounding message to the people of Israel who kept breaking their covenant with God time and time again.  Jeremiah proclaims that God is going to make a new covenant:  “All, from least to greatest, shall know me….for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”  This is great news for those who truly desire conversion and salvation.  For those of us who relish our sins, however, it is unnerving.  We do not wish to be made perfect yet.  Just a bit longer.  That’s all we ask, right?  But, as Jesus answers in the gospel reading, “The hour has come.”  During this final week of Lent before Palm Sunday, may we not kick the can any further down the road!  Instead, be reconciled to God, go to confession, and pray for a clean heart!  The last confessions before Easter are:  Tuesday, March 23 – 7pm to 8pm; Saturday, March 27 – 9am to 10am and 1:30pm to 2:30pm; Sunday, March 28 – 4pm to 5:30pm; Tuesday, March 30 – 8:30am to 10am and 7pm to 9pm.

May I ask for your prayers on Thursday, March 25.  I will be having surgery to remove part, or all of my thyroid.  Medical tests I had in December when I had my gallbladder removed, and tests subsequent to that, indicate that I have nine granulomas in my lungs that are not cancerous and do not need to be treated.  Two of the granulomas, one being the largest at 3cm, are in my thyroid and causing problems.  So, part or all of my thyroid needs to be removed.  Because this surgery requires general anesthesia, I will be in the hospital overnight and discharged the next day.  I should be just fine, I better be! As I am preaching all the Masses Palm Sunday weekend, March 27 & 28.

Have a blessed last full week of Lent!

Father Don

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

March 14 – The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Have you noticed?  It began on Ash Wednesday.  A change in the conclusion of some of the prayers at Mass.  I bet you didn’t even notice…it’s so small.  I even wondered why the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments made a big deal of it, and why they didn’t catch it before we started using the third translation of the Roman Missal which is a more accurate translation of the Latin, on the First Sunday of Advent 2011.  So what’s the change?  It is in the concluding doxology of the Collects in the Roman Missal and other liturgical books.  Most of the prayers conclude with “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”  Specifically, the Congregation points out that the current translation is incorrect.  There is no mention of “one” in the Latin, and that “one” was added when the texts were published in English, after the Second Vatican Council.  So, now we conclude with “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”  If you ask me, they must have run out of things to do in Rome!

This coming Friday, March 19th is the Feast of St. Joseph.  Pope Francis declared this a year in honor of St. Joseph.  At all the Masses the weekend of March 20 & 21, we will recite the Prayer of Consecration to St. Joseph, and you will receive a holy card of St. Joseph as you leave Mass courtesy of Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home.

Most depictions of St. Joseph show him holding the child Jesus, but sometimes he is depicted holding a church like the statue of him on the wall in our church.  This is because St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Universal Church.  Pope Francis in proclaiming the Year of Saint Joseph wrote:  “Saint Joseph was a father in varied ways; beloved, tender and loving, obedient, accepting, creatively courageous, working, and ‘in the shadows’.”  Pope Francis concluded his letter with a short prayer to Saint Joseph as a synthesis of his teachings.  This prayer will be on the back of the holy card you receive.

In the bulletin today and on our website, you will find a list of what you can do to receive a Plenary Indulgence during the Year of Saint Joseph.

Have a blessed week and Lent!

Father Don

 

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

March 7 – Third Sunday of Lent

Today is the Third Sunday of Lent.  This Sunday and the next two Sunday’s we celebrate the SCRUTINIES with those who will be baptized this year at the Easter Vigil.  And while I write about the Scrutinies every year at this time, a reminder might be helpful.  Even if these rites are not celebrated at the liturgy you attend, it can be wonderful to reflect upon the journey the Elect, those preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil, as an inspiration and source of renewal for us in our journey.  At the Mass the Scrutinies are celebrated, the A cycle of the Sunday readings are used.  This week, the woman at the well, next week the man born blind, and the following week, Lazarus being raised from the dead.

These are ancient rites and they may, at first, seem strange to us.  But they are profoundly rooted in our human experience.  We need to examine (scrutinize) the areas of our lives where we are tempted, or seriously in, in what we do and what we fail to do.  We really need healing and the strength that can come from the support of our sisters and brothers.

Unfortunately this year, due to the COVID pandemic, we have not been able to conduct the RCIA as it usually is done.  Missing has been the group coming to Mass together and after the homily being dismissed to gather together and reflect deeper on the Word of God they just heard.  The formation sessions have been held through Zoom instead of gathering each week in person.  So, you have not had the opportunity to see those who are preparing for baptism and those preparing to be received into the Church.  So, in these final weeks of preparation, I ask you to intentionally keep them in your prayers.

At this time of year, some households get turned upside down for the annual ritual of spring cleaning.  More zealous housekeepers go to great extents.  Bedding is taken outside and aired, bed springs rinsed of the year’s dust.  Floors are waxed, rugs and furniture vacuumed, windows washed, nook and crannies dusted.  Lent is our spiritual spring cleaning.  We are called to go again to the center of our faith – our share in Christ’s death and resurrection.  We are asked to examine how our conviction and practice may have gathered dust during the past year (especially since when have been dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during the COVID pandemic).  It is only human for us to get complacent, to slack off, to compromise with evil, to get comfortable with our sins.  Do we really have to take out all the furniture for an airing?  Yes, we do!

Have a blessed Lent!

Father Don

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

February 28 – Second Sunday of Lent

How easy do you find it to trust in God?  I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life that I have found it difficult to trust in God, believing that He really has a plan.  When I have to conduct the funeral of a parent leaving behind small children, or the funeral of a teen who died by suicide or a drug overdose, I find myself asking God a lot of questions.  Trusting in the paradoxes of God is challenging!  For example, in today’s first reading from Genesis, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac appears to make no sense at all.  The promise to the patriarch seems to be in jeopardy since Abraham can realize the blessing of a great posterity only through Isaac.  God’s command is apparently counterproductive.  In this account however, the author informs us that this entire actions is designed as a divine testing.  It is meant to evoke the patriarch’s wholehearted commitment to God.  Abraham thus emerges as the paragon of faith and trust.  He learns, painfully perhaps, that we are called to trust in the paradoxes of God.

In the second reading Paul also struggles with trust in divine paradox.  He speaks of God as one who did not spare his own Son but handed him over to death for the sake of all humanity.  Paul then quickly adds the human trust component to this paradox of live via death.  If God has acted in this seemingly bizarre way, the “how will he not also give us everything else along with him?”  Paul captures the depth of divine paradox in the death and resurrection of Jesus to elicit human trust in One who apparently does not go by the book!  We are called to trust in the paradoxes of God.

The early Christian community saw Good Friday as the great paradox.  The kingdom so eloquently proclaimed by Jesus was obviously in jeopardy, if not already snuffed out.  However, Mark in today’s Gospel uses the transfiguration to establish the divine paradox.  Jesus had earlier enunciated the plan of passion, death, and resurrection.  In the transfiguration story, the three disciples share in the divine revelation yet come away discussing the meaning of resurrection.  For Mark, the transfiguration makes sense only on the grounds that one presupposes the resurrection follows only after suffering and death.  In Mark too, we are called to trust in the paradoxes of God.

The Eucharist provides a fitting setting for the theme of the paradoxes of God.  It is the paradox that Jesus’ dying can lead to Jesus’ being raised.  The bread and the wine become the symbols of divine paradox.  They challenge us to transcend the world of effort and results to accept a God of concern who writes straight with crooked lines.  In the Eucharist, too, WE are called to trust in the paradoxes of God!

Have a blessed Lent!

Father Don

 

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

February 21 – First Sunday of Lent

This Wednesday I begin a six-week reflection and discussion series “Living Your Baptism in Lent.” It is held on Wednesdays from 7:00pm – 8:30pm. You can participate in person or via zoom. Registration is on the parish website.

So why discuss baptism in Lent? Most people think of Lent as a time of penance, giving up some pleasure, going to confession, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Lent is that, but it is also more. Lent is also a time for the faithful to PREPARE to renew your baptismal promises on Easter Sunday. Most people give little thought to their baptismal promises because most people were baptized as infants and your parents and godparents made the baptismal promises for you at a time you were not cognizant of the meaning of those promises. When you were baptized, your parents and godparents said “yes” for you to the following questions:

• Do you reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?
• Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?
• Do you reject Satan, the father of sin and prince of darkness?
• Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
• Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
• Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

The question then as we have grown up is how well each of us have understood, embraced and lived those promises that were once made for us by our parents and godparents? The Lenten theme of conversion is also an important part of our understanding of Baptism. Conversion is a LIFELONG process and Lent helps us to remember that. Lent is about responding to the grace of Baptism. Lent is a time to intentionally respond to God’s call. At our baptism we were given the Holy Spirit. Lent invites us to consider the movement of the Holy Spirit already in us.

Whether you are able to join my presentations and discussion, use the above questions to reflect on your baptism this Lent, and be PREPARED to renew YOUR baptismal promises this Easter.

Have a blessed week!

Father Don

From the Pastor’s Desk

February 14 – Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In addition to today being the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, it is also World Marriage Sunday.  How appropriate – Valentine’s Day!  I will share with you some points about the day from the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

  • The readings for today highlight our need for Jesus as the Divine Physician. The Old Testament reading from Leviticus lays out the law for those who have contracted leprosy: such persons would be declared unclean, turned out from society, and made to live apart from others in efforts not to spread the disease.  If a person were to touch a leper, they would then be declared unclean as well, facing the same restrictions.
  • Jesus, “moved with pity…stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.” The act of Jesus actually touching a leper would have shocked those around him.  Love reaches out and touches others.  Jesus touches this man, regardless of the risk of being ostracized himself.  True love does not count the cost.  Jesus gives all for all, unreservedly because his love knows no limits.
  • Every marriage is meant to be a little icon of the love of Christ and his bride, the Church. The love shared between a man and a woman in holy matrimony points us to the self-emptying, self-sacrificing love God has for each one of us.
  • The promises that married couples make to each other illustrate what this love looks like lived out in the day to day experience: to have and to hold, exclusively, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, to cherish, to honor until death. A person gives everything to his or her spouse.
  • The continuation of living life amid a global pandemic may have some married couples reflecting that this has been a season of “for worse, for poorer, and in sickness.” There are many married couples who are suffering right now:  marital strain, illness, unemployment, etc.  The sacrament of marriage provides the grace necessary to weather the storms of marriage and family life.

On this World Marriage Day, I thank all married couples for the witness of their sacrificial love “to have, to hold, to honor”!

Have a blessed week!

Father Don