Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!
September 19 – Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
An interesting phenomenon of our times is the emergence of social media. Through websites and mobile applications, we can access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Tumblr, Forsquare, and Pinterest, to name only a few. It’s hard to know how many of these sites there actually are, but it would be safe to say they are in the hundreds. Some of these sites have redefined the very meaning of friendship. It’s possible now to have “friends” whom we’ve never met and might never meet in person. While the ability to “connect” with others during the COVID pandemic through this technology has been helpful, the one thing I hear the most that people have missed is in person contact with other family and friends. Our faith is a community effort requiring “real presence.” Just as Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, we are community of “real presence” to one another. We need to worship with one another. With our safety protocols in place, I encourage those who have not yet returned to Mass to join us. Facemasks are required, there are hand sanitizing stations, and an air filtration system was installed in the church last year and runs continuously. We long to see your face!
I ask your prayers for the success of the radioactive iodine ablation treatment for my thyroid cancer I began last Monday. This past Wednesday, I was given the radioactive iodine pill and have been in isolation since. That’s why you don’t see me this weekend as I am in isolation at the rectory until Thursday, September 30.
I also ask your prayers for the priests of the Joliet Diocese who will be on a convocation with the bishop September 27 – 30. The Joliet priest convocation is held every other year, and this will be the first time with our new bishop. Due to being in isolation, I will not be able to attend.
On the cover Sunday’s bulletin on September 12th was an invite to all Our Lady of Mercy parishioners to celebrate my 40th anniversary of ordination on Sunday, October 10. I will be preaching all Masses that weekend. I was ordained a priest on October 10, 1981. There will be coffee and donuts after all the Masses. I will celebrate a special Mass of Thanksgiving at 2:00pm followed by a reception in the PLC and outdoors weather permitting. You are welcome to attend this Mass and reception at 2:00pm. If you plan to attend this Mass, please RSVP to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we have an accurate count when we order food for the reception. If you are attending one of the regular scheduled Sunday Masses, there is no need to RSVP. I look forward to celebrating this milestone with my Our Lady of Mercy parish family!
Have a blessed week!
September 12 – Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
You have heard the expression “time flies when you are having fun” – well, 40 years of priesthood must have been lots of fun! On Sunday, October 10th I will celebrate my fortieth anniversary of ordination. On the cover of today’s bulletin is an invitation to the celebration. I want to be sure that all parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy know they are welcome and invited to attend. While I will be preaching all our Masses the weekend of October 9/10, I will offer a Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday at 2:00PM followed by an outdoor reception weather permitting or in the PLC. Also attending this Mass will be some of my family, priest friends, and parishioners from the previous seven parishes I have served before coming to Our Lady of Mercy. To prepare adequately for the reception, I need to know how many OLM parishioners plan to attend the 2:00pm Mass and reception. Please RSVP to me at: email@example.com. I hope to see many of you there!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the question, “Who do people say that I am?” There is a great opportunity starting this week for you to find your own personal answer to Jesus’ question. Fall ALPHA starts this Thursday, September 16th. If you have been searching, if you have questions, if you trying to find meaning in your life, then ALPHA is for you! ALPHA is on Thursday evenings starting with a meal at 6:30pm and runs for 11 weeks. There is no charge, just your time. Sign up online at www.olmercy.com/alpha or contact Zara in the parish office.
In light of Jesus’ question in today’s Gospel, a British writer in the 1800’s once said: “Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible a person ever reads!” Many people form their idea of who Jesus is by listening to what Jesus’ followers say and watching what they do. Many years ago, a popular Christian song posed the question, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Today’s readings speak of the kinds of evidence to which true followers of Christ give witness. Faith AND action go hand in hand. What is one practical way you can make a difference this week in your family? In your school? In your workplace? In your neighborhood?
Have a blessed week!
September 5 – The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
This week on Thursday, September 9th we celebrate the memorial of St. Peter Claver. A native of Spain, young Jesuit Peter Claver left his homeland in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World. He sailed into Cartagena (now in Columbia), a rich port city washed by the Caribbean. He was ordained there in 1615. By this time the slave trade had been established in the Americas for nearly 100 years, and Cartagena was a chief center for it. Ten thousand slaves poured into the port each year after crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul and inhuman that an estimated one-third of the passengers died in transit. As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and miserable passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines and food. With the help of interpreters, he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God’s saving love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.
His apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves. He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. The Holy Spirit’s might and power is manifested in the striking decisions and bold actions of Peter Claver. A decision to leave one’s homeland never to return reveals a gigantic act of will difficult for our minds to imagine. Peter’s determination to serve forever the most abused, rejected and lowly of all people is stunningly heroic. When we measure our lives against such a man’s, we become aware of our own barely used potential and of our need to open ourselves more to the jolting power of Jesus’ Spirit. Peter Claver died on September 8, 1654. He was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves.
To continue his work of addressing the sin of racism, I encourage you to participate in a bi-lingual prayer service “Stations of the Cross: Overcoming Racism” which will be held on the memorial of St. Peter Claver, Thursday, September 9 at 6:30PM. The service will be held at our outdoor Stations of the Cross on the west side of church. In the event of rain it will be indoors.
People in our day suffer unjustly simply because of the color of their skin or their national origin. Let us acknowledge the sin of racism and work to combat it in our social structures, our institutions, and our hearts!
Have a blessed week!
August 29 – The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus had little stomach for hypocrisy. Few of us do. “Hypocrite,” is one of the harshest words in our vocabulary and is reserved for people we find particularly two-faced. One observation about hypocrites…they are usually the last to recognize that they are. No one wants to believe they are two-faced or phony. Most hypocrites are convinced they are perfectly honest. When the Pharisees condemned Jesus for working miracles on the Sabbath, they believed with all their hearts they were speaking for God. This should make us suspicious about ourselves. Are we hypocritical and don’t recognize it?
In light of today’s readings, this question merits consideration. In the reading from James, we are warned: “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Practice what you preach, James says, and don’t fool yourself that you are virtuous simply because you’re fond of virtuous teachings. In the gospel, Jesus deplores the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Of what sense is their agitation over the proper washing of hands when their hearts are full of murder and hatred?
Parents often condemn activities in their teenager that they themselves have been guilty of for years. Business people complain about the crime rates among minority groups who wouldn’t have the slightest qualms about cheating on their expense accounts or involving themselves in shady deals. Even in religious circles, we may find some of the most conservative and fundamentalist Christians to also be some of the most bigoted and uncharitable people one could meet. When preachers, for example, passionately put down other Christian denominations “in the name of Jesus,” don’t you wonder what “Jesus” they are talking about?
This is not to serve as a condemnation of others, but to make us aware that hypocrisy is devious and not necessarily a vice only in someone else. When criticizing, chastising, or condemning others, we should first see if our own house is really in order. Better yet, we follow Christ more authentically when we completely give up judging and condemning others. And we have good reason for doing so when we consider the many ways we may be hypocrites ourselves.
The only way to avoid the charge of hypocrisy is to live our lives with integrity. We are one-faced when we act like Jesus, no matter how difficult it might be!
Have a blessed week!
August 22 – Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
This weekend is our parish celebration of “Reunite in Christ” welcoming everyone back to Our Lady of Mercy! It has been a long time since we have been able to gather as a parish family. While variants of COVID remain a concern, under Diocesan guidelines, we are fully open, and we fully implement safety procedures outlined by the Diocese. I hope everyone has taken the opportunity to enjoy some activities of our “block party” celebrating our oneness in Christ. Thanks to Doug McIlvaine who chaired the “Reunite in Christ” committee, along with the members of the committee; Fr. James, Deacon Tom, Zara Tan, Phil Zwick, Miroslava Manzanares, and Alex Baier for their efforts to celebrate our welcoming back events.
Also, I want to extend a great big thanks to EVERYONE who pulled together in meeting the challenges to put on our in-person Vacation Bible School August 2 – 6. Thank God too for the stunningly beautiful weather we had that week! There were 100 campers! Thanks to the 25 adult volunteers and 45 tween & teen volunteers who worked with the kids in their various stations. Thanks to Mary Jo, Jean Palasz, and Len Eickhoff for all the advance preparations and legwork. Thanks to Maybird D’Silva for photography. And a HUGE thanks to our Art & Environment Committee who made all the props and created the jungle/safari/cave environment to enhance our children in discovering that they are treasure – and treasured by God!
Unfortunately, the Mission Appeal scheduled for this weekend has to be re-scheduled. The new date is the weekend of September 11/12. I look forward to my friend Ertha’s arrival and sharing with you her ministry of founding an orphanage and school for impoverished children outside of Duchity, Haiti. Please welcome her and be as generous as your means allow. Thank you!
Next weekend (except Saturday 4pm Mass), Fr. Steven Borello, our Joliet Diocesan Vocations Director will give the homily at all Sunday Masses on the theme of vocations. As we welcome Fr. Steven, please be open to his message on how parishes and families can support vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Have a Blessed Week!