Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!