Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!
On this Second Sunday of Advent, I would like to share with you a brief reflection from Pope Francis. “Life is a journey. It is a path, a journey to meet Jesus. It is for the Christian to continually encounter Jesus, to watch him, to let himself be watched over by Jesus, because Jesus watches us with love. He loves us so much and he is always watching over us. To encounter Jesus also means allowing oneself to be gazed upon by him. And the most beautiful gift is to meet Jesus. We meet Jesus every day. How? Our whole life is an encounter with Jesus: in prayer, when we go to Mass, when we do good works, when we visit the sick, when we help the poor, when we think of others, when we are not selfish, when we are loving – in these things we always meet Jesus. “But, Father,” you might say, “you know that this journey is horrible for me, I am such a sinner, I have committed many sins. How can I encounter Jesus?” But remember that the people whom Jesus most sought out were the greatest sinners. And those who believed in themselves righteous criticized him for this saying: this is no true prophet, look what kind of company he keeps! And Jesus said: I came for those in need of salvation, in need of healing. And along the way Jesus comes, heals us and forgives us-for we are all sinners.” So, with this in mind, and with the urging of John the Baptist in today’s gospel to repent, I invite you to our Advent Penance Service this Tuesday, December 11th at 7:00PM. This communal prayer service with the opportunity for individual confession is a great way to prepare for Christmas!
I would like to share with you a report on MercyFest 2018 held October 4th through 7th. Despite the rainy weather, the net profit was $20,538 which was a $2,562 increase over the previous year. Like last year, we will donate $1,200 to Hesed House. The remaining proceeds this year will go toward improving the sound system in the church. I would especially like to thank those who were chairpersons. General Chairs: Tony Leazzo, Tom Martin, Jennifer Leazzo, and Greg Sondag; 5-K, Spencer Coyle & Jennifer Sullivan; Sponsorship, Jennifer Sullivan; Pizza Dinner, Drew Eddy; Music, Bruce Daratta; Food, Mike Peluce & Jeremy Cairney; Security, Rob Pellegrini; Volunteers, Karen Schwartz; Silent Auction, Ann Marie Stone; Basket Raffle, Christine Harvey; Raffle, John Shea; Grounds, John Shea; Kids Activities, Carol Shea; Spaghetti Dinner, Felipe Chavez & Carol Chavez; Beverages, CJ Cox; Fun Fair, Michael Leazzo; Light the Night, Cindy Hapke; Mass in the Tent (didn’t happen due to weather), Phyllis Anderson. Thanks as well to the support of our Business Manager, Bob Gancarz. Also thanks to OLM staff Diane Reiter, Zara Tan, and Len Eickhoff for the many ways they assisted in preparing for MercyFest. Thanks to the over 400 volunteers, and thanks to all those who baked, donated items, and attended MercyFest! Your support was appreciated!!
On November 14th I met with representatives from the MercyFest Committee, Parish Pastoral Council, Finance Council, Fr. Mark and parish staff to discuss the future of MercyFest. I had some concerns and questions I wanted to express. I am happy to report that there is strong support for continuing MercyFest, but with some changes and modifications. The MercyFest committee invites your suggestions, ideas and input. Also, we determined that the main goal for MercyFest is to strengthen the bonds and friendship of the parish community through volunteer service; to pre evangelize our local community by inviting and welcoming them to our campus; and finally to have FUN!!! And if we make some money that would be great too! So mark your 2019 calendar now! MercyFest 2019 will be October 10 – 13. If you have any ideas you would like to share, contact the Chair of next year’s MercyFest, Tom Martin at: firstname.lastname@example.org
December 2, 2018 – First Sunday of Advent C
So where is the Advent Wreath this year? I don’t see it in church! That’s where it’s always been! What’s going on? In an attempt to prepare you in advance, I explained the placement of the Advent Wreath in my November 17th bulletin article. The directives for the placement of the Advent Wreath state: “The Advent Wreath, a popular symbol in many churches, may be placed in the narthex or gathering area, or near the ambo.” And that “other creative uses are encouraged.” This year we are going to display the nativity scene at the baptismal font. Sources for liturgical art & environment suggest that the Advent Wreath be placed near where the nativity scene will be placed. Thus, that is why the Advent Wreath this year is in the narthex at the baptismal font.
The gospel today for the First Sunday of Advent certainly turns our thoughts to the end times, which seems a little strange in Advent. But the Advent season does have a two-fold character. It is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered. This is the focus that most of us put a lot of time and energy, often to the point of exhaustion, into preparing and celebrating. The decorations, the gifts, the parties, the family gatherings, the traditions. But, the other character of Advent is to lead our hearts and minds to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. I dare say, that most of us don’t give much thought to the end times and Jesus’ second return during Advent. We prefer to remember the baby in the manger, not the man on the cross! But it was the man on the cross that gives meaning to the powerful signs we hear about in the gospel. These powerful signs are not mean to frighten us, but to remind us that what we hope for is yet to come. The Gospel makes clear that the foundation of our hope is not what has happened to us in the past, but what God intends to do for us in the future. Today’s gospel shows great turmoil on the earth and distress among the nations, but its message is that underneath that turmoil, God is working to change things. God is working to establish the Kingdom. It is God’s action which is the foundation of our hope. That is why Jesus says that we should stand up and raise our heads because our redemption is at hand. We can always stand in hope because we believe that God is always working to change things and to bring about salvation. So, the Advent season calls us not to just remember sentimentally a historical event of the past, but to live in expectant hope of what is yet to come! No need to die of fright as the gospel says some will. Instead, stand erect and rise your heads because your redemption is at hand!” What a Christmas gift!!
Saturday, December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. Masses for the Immaculate Conception are on Friday, December 7th at 7:00pm and on Saturday morning, December 8th at 9:00am. The 4:00pm Mass on Saturday, December 8th does not count for the Immaculate Conception, as the 4:00pm Mass will be the vigil Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus, Christ the King! But what is the point of calling Christ “the king”? After all, we gave up on kings a long time ago. In America we fought a revolution to get rid of kings. It can seem an antiquated image. But did you know that the feast itself was instituted less than a hundred years ago? Pope Pius XI formalized it in 1925. With the rise of secularism, nationalism, and global strife, he sought to remind us that Christ is the true sovereign of all. It is in Christ that peace shall reign. Certainly we need that reminder today! It would be an understatement to say we live in “divided times.” Warring political philosophies, economic upheaval, and shifting global climates are signs that not all is right with the world. Taken up with anxiety and fear, we are often tempted to blame others or fall prey to ideology. It is only in trusting the one who has made us that we can ever hope to overcome such conflict. Christ has taken everything into himself and sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world. It is in such divine love that all will be healed. It is by such love that God will reign in Christ. So, perhaps we DO need a King! The kingship of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior needs to be invited and accepted in our lives and world! Let’s pray for that as the feast of Christ the King brings our liturgical year to an end.
Next weekend, the First Sunday of Advent, begins a new year in the liturgical calendar of the church. The scripture readings for Sunday Mass are arranged in a three-year cycle. Year A we hear primarily from the Gospel of Matthew. Year B Mark’s gospel, and Year C Luke’s gospel. During the Easter season every year we hear primarily from John’s Gospel. The weekday Mass readings are arranged in a two-year cycle. So, on December 1st & 2nd this year, the First Sunday of Advent, we start cycle C, primarily Luke’s gospel. The weekday readings will be year 1.
So, what might we expect to learn about Jesus and his mission from Luke’s telling of the story? First, in his account of the birth of Jesus, he places the event squarely into the flow of history: Caesar Augustus was the emperor and Quirinius the governor. At a particular time and place God’s Son comes into the world and into history to redeem the earth and all of the people in it. However, this understanding of Jesus and his mission was at odds with another, extremely popular understanding of Jesus in some of the ancient Churches. These Churches understood Jesus to be a divine, not human, revealer who suddenly appeared in the world as an adult in order to teach people the means by which they might escape from the world to a higher, more heavenly existence. Those who understood Jesus’ teaching in this way would claim that this world was not worth saving and that only the heavenly or spiritual world mattered. These Christians joined sectarian groups that would set themselves apart from the concerns of this world and their fellow Christians. Thus, when Luke tells the story of Jesus being born as a baby in a manger in a particular place and time, he has in mind both the full humanity of Jesus and the face that Jesus will care about, and ultimately redeem creation and all the people in it. Oops! I’ve run out of space, so more about Luke’s theology in future articles!
Have a Blessed Week!
On November 1st the bishop of our Diocese, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon published his first ever pastoral letter to the people of our Diocese. Bishop is keenly aware of the challenges that face the church today. He writes about an important topic facing Catholicism today: how does the Catholic faith community within the seven counties of the Diocese of Joliet grow in the months and years ahead when statistics are showing that many are not attending Mass, and many are not celebrating the sacraments. In a world that seems less interested in God, and in a society wounded by many divisions, in what ways can the Catholic Church reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ? In other words, how can we carry out, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s Great Commission to go and make disciples. Bishop writes about the way things were, the way things are, and the way things might be. Entitled, “Go, He Said”, the letter is published in the November issue of the Diocesan magazine Christ Is Our Hope which every parishioner receives, it is available on the parish and Diocesan websites in English or Spanish and on our parish APP. I encourage EVERY parishioner to read Bishop’s letter. His insights and questions will become areas of discussion among our staff, pastoral council, and other ministries.
The season of Advent begins in two weeks. One of the traditional symbols that is popular in many churches is the Advent wreath. The directives for the placement of the Advent wreath state that the Advent wreath may be placed in the narthex or gathering area, or near the ambo. One of the sources we consult for the liturgical environment suggests placing the Advent wreath in the area where the Christmas crèche will be placed. Last year was my first Christmas at OLM.
While directives state that the crèche is not to be placed in front of the altar, I thought the placement of the nativity figures, some on the steps of the sanctuary to the left, and others on the right, made it rather awkward to view and spend any time in prayer. So, I suggested to our Art & Environment Committee that we cover the baptismal font in the narthex and place the Christmas crèche there. That way all the figures can be together, the crèche will be higher so people can see it, and we can place a kneeler in front so people can stop and pray. So, following the suggestion that the Advent wreath be placed near where the Christmas crèche will be, this year the Advent wreath will be in the narthex at the baptismal font. I am sure the Art & Environment committee will display the wreath as elegantly and beautifully as they have in the past. Our baptisms scheduled during the Advent and Christmas seasons will take place in church using a large bowl for the actual baptism. Those parents who may be planning a baptism in January are encouraged to consider this option….The weekend of January 12 & 13 is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and concludes the Christmas Season. That weekend we are offering the opportunity to celebrate baptism DURING the Sunday Mass. If you are interested in doing that, please contact Diane in the parish office. We will baptize only one child at each Mass.
On behalf of our all staff, I wish you a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends this Thursday. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
In today’s gospel the poor widow is honored by Jesus because “she contributed all she had, her whole livelihood!” Our nation pauses today to honor our veterans who gave their very selves to protect and preserve the freedom’s we enjoy as a nation. So, on this Veteran’s Day, we offer our thanks and gratitude to all our veterans living and deceased, and we pray for the safety of all who are serving in the armed forces today, putting their lives on the line. Thanks for your service!
November is a time in which we remember our deceased loved ones. All Saints Day was a celebration of those who lived the Christian life in such an inspiring way in their time, that their story gives hope for us as we try to live a Christian life today. All Souls Day was a day we remembered and prayed for all our departed loved ones. I especially want to thank our Hispanic Community for familiarizing the rest of the parish community with “Altar de Muertos – Day of the Dead Altar” that was displayed in the church narthex. The poster board and sheets with the explanation of all the symbols was so helpful to understand this custom and tradition. I was personally touched by seeing a picture of Fr. Donald Kenny included on the second level of the altar with the pictures of so many deceased loved ones. Nice to know he is not forgotten for his mission work in South America. Thanks also to our art & environment committee for the lovely display of our Book of the Deceased. Placed by the baptismal font and near the Paschal candle, we are reminded that “if we have died with Christ in baptism, we shall also rise with him.” The Book of the Deceased will be there through November. Please feel free to write in names of deceased loved ones to be prayed for as we remember our faithful departed this month.
And so, as the next couple of Sunday’s wind down the liturgical year, our focus will move to the reality that our live on this earth will end. In our heads we know that. But when I hear someone say “Oh well, no one lives forever” my response is “Oh yes we do!” Those who believe in Jesus Christ and His resurrection do live forever! So, while our heads know the reality of death and our hearts may fear it, our minds should be at peace because eye has not seen, nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love Him!
Have A Blessed Week!