Better Known as Heidi Howls!
In today’s Gospel Jesus continues his teaching that he is the Bread of Life. In my homily for First Eucharist, I ask the children why it is necessary to eat every day? And of course they know the answer: to help us grow, be strong, and keep us alive. Then I tell them there is another part of us that needs to grow, be strong and kept alive – and that is our spiritual self. I tell them that the Eucharist is the original “soul” food! That Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine to feed our spiritual self. What do you believe about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? A 2010 Pew Forum study found that 45 percent of U.S. Catholics did not know that Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, yet 63 percent of Catholics said they believed in it. Only 46 percent of Catholics know the teaching about the Real Presence and believe in it. Yet, from 800 AD to less than 25 years ago, over 175 Eucharistic miracles have been recorded and recognized by the Church. And while we are not obliged to accept them as matter of faith, they can certainly bolster our faith and strengthen our belief in the Real Presence. Here are just two of the miracles recorded:
Lanciano, Italy around 750 AD: A priest, who had doubts about Christ’s real presence, was celebrating Mass. When he consecrated the host, it transformed into flesh and blood. Over the years, samples of the tissue have been scientifically tested. The last testings were done in 1971 and 1981. The flesh was found to be from the myocardium, the heart muscle that pumps blood. The blood was human and the type AB positive. The white blood cells showed that it was from living flesh. Moreover, the sample indicated that the person had been in trauma consistent with a person who had been beaten about the chest. The scientist performing the study did not know the source of the sample. You can see this miracle in Lanciano, Italy today.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, St. Mary Church, 1996, in the diocese of our present Pope Francis. A woman brought an abandoned host to the priest after Mass. He put it in water to dissolve it so it could be disposed of properly later. When the priest checked the next day, the host had not dissolved, but he saw a bloody substance there. He contacted the bishop. The matter was kept silent, and the host was kept in water until October 5, 1999, when samples were taken for testing. Findings were the same as with the Lanciano sample, including heart muscle, blood type and living tissue, indicating that the Eucharist was still bleeding.
The Church teaches that at consecration, the substance of bread and wine do not change, but the essence does. These Eucharistic miracles are testimony that we do receive the living Christ in the Eucharist. In Communion, we receive the bread of life from heaven. We receive Christ – his strength, his love, his compassion. We share in his divine life. And in doing so, we shall not die!
Have a blessed week!
Hurray! It’s Vacation Bible School Week!! Welcome to all the children who will attend and be Shipwrecked only to be rescued by Jesus. A big thank you to all the adult and teen volunteers who will lead our children through a week of fun, games, and learning about Jesus. VBS takes place from 9:00AM to 12:00Noon this Monday – Friday.
Today is the annual Seminarian Send-Off sponsored by the Serra Club of DuPage County. Founded in 1958, the members of the Serra Club encourage and affirm vocations to the priesthood and religious life through prayer and active fellowship. Though a member of the international vocation apostolate Serra International, the DuPage club devotes most of its energies to fostering and promoting vocations in the Diocese of Joliet. For 41 years, they have proudly sponsored the Diocese of Joliet Annual Seminarian Sendoff each August before the men return to the formal studies, priestly discernment and formation. Nearly 400 people attend including the seminarians and their families, bishops and priests of the diocese, Sarrans, and many others who support vocations and the priesthood. Today’s event is held at the Krasa Center on the campus of Benedictine University in Lisle. If you are interested in joining the Serra Club, contact: jmatyasik@SerraDuPage.com for more information.
So today we send-off parishioner Dave Diesem, who spent part of his summer in the Holy Land, to begin his 2nd year of theology at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein. Also, our intern seminarian, Senovio Sarabia, Jr. will be returning to St. Mary of the Lake to begin his 3rd year of theology. While seminarian Ramon Sida didn’t have any ministerial responsibilities at OLM, he lived here this summer while he and Senovio did a chaplain intern program at Northwestern Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield. He will begin his third year of theology as well. We wish Dave, Senovio and Ramon all the best, along with all our diocesan seminarians, as they continue their studies and discernment for the priesthood.
I hope you all enjoyed the Newman Singers with their director Joe Mattingly from the University of Iowa who led us in song at all the Masses on the weekend of July 14/15. And their concert on Sunday evening was truly beautiful and inspirational! I want to especially thank parishioner Carrie Nadziejko who arranged for them to be here and took care of all the details surrounding the Newman Singers visit. Carrie sings in our choir, but has a special fondness for the Newman Singers, as she sang in the choir back when she was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. As St. Augustine said….those who sing pray twice!! And as I say….if God gave you a rotten voice, give it back! SING!!
Have a Blessed Week!
This weekend I am celebrating Masses at St. John the Baptist parish in Healdsburg, California and will be back in the office on Wednesday, August 1st after my 10-day vacation. It’s hard to believe that June and July have passed by so quickly. With August on the horizon, kids will soon be heading off to college and high school – some for the first time. Grammar schools will be starting mid to late August, and it seems that summer will be gone! But wait! Let’s not rush it! We still have Vacation Bible School coming up at Our Lady of Mercy August 6th through 10th. We look forward to welcoming our children for “Shipwrecked – Rescued By Jesus” for a half day of fun, games, music, crafts and learning about Jesus. Thanks to Jill Levine, Mary Jo Trapani, and all the adult and teen volunteers for making VBS an enjoyable experience for our children.
In today’s Gospel reading we remember that most famous picnic in religious history. How many people were there? Some say 5,000. Did that include women and children? We know there was at least one child – girl or boy, nobody knows for sure – who was vital to the story. This event wins the prize as scripture’s number-one picnic because the New Testament narrates a version of it six times: twice each in Matthew and Mark, once in Luke and once in John. Today we hear John’s rendition. John’s story involves a variety of characters. First, Jesus looks at the mass of people. Then he brings Philip into the action, asking him where they can buy food to feed that crowd. Philip responds as a pragmatist, not-so-gently reminding Jesus of the limitations of their funds. Then Andrew enters into the conversation, saying that there’s a child who has five barley rolls and two fish. Altogether that adds up to seven morsels – the number symbolizes completeness, but in this case it seems more like complete inadequacy. Now we are at the heart of the story. Just when the disciples have pointed out the absurd limitations of their ability to respond, Jesus has them tell the people to recline in preparation for a feast. While thousands look on, Jesus take the food and prays. John says that Jesus “gave thanks.” That implies that he acknowledged that the food he held came from God and belonged to God. Once the child handed it over and Jesus gave thanks over it, it was recognized as God’s food, and it was therefore God’s goodness that the crowd was going to share. No evangelist describes how the bread multiplied and the how is not the point John wants to make. The point is that God met the hunger of the people, beginning with the unstinting generosity of one of the least among them – a child. So what does this story mean for us today? Some understand it like the miracle portrayed in the movies when bread shoots out of baskets like popcorn. That interpretation gives God the responsibility to do everything. Many people who know poverty see it a different way. People who have passed the end of their rope and still survive, recognize this as an example of God’s providence. They can tell story after story about how God sent someone at just the right moment; how someone found the money for rent on the morning before eviction, how a donation came in on the day the orphanage ran out of food….how God comes through again and again, through some often unsuspecting, usually unexpected, generous soul. This story reminds us that God can work wonders with the little we have if we are willing to give it all – like the child in today’s Gospel.
Have a Blessed Week!
This weekend and next I will be away on a 10-day summer vacation to where else but Sonoma County California! I visit and stay with a friend Tony who lives in Santa Rosa. He works in the tasting room of Ferrari-Carano Winery outside of Healdsburg. I’ve certainly enjoyed learning about wine from listening his “spheel” as he pours for the guests at the several wineries where he has worked over the years. And I have certainly enjoyed the “perks” of his wine industry discount when we visit other wineries throughout Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. And in the many years I have visited, some of Tony’s friends have become mine as well. I look forward to spending some time with Fr. Sean Rogers, pastor of St. John the Baptist parish in Healdsburg and seeing some of the parishioners I’ve gotten to know. I will be celebrating Mass there on July 21st and 22nd and July 28th and 29th to give Fr. Sean the opportunity to get away for a weekend, as he is the only priest in the parish. Fr. Sean graduated from the University of Notre Dame and played and was on the football team. He has been a priest 11 years. His family owns a fruit and veggie stand with a small market in Santa Rosa. Always a great place to stop for fresh fruit, sandwiches and snacks before heading out for a day of wine tasting! I look forward to seeing Vernon and his two Chiweenie dogs. They are the cutest little things! A cross between a Chihuahua and a Dachshund. Vernon, originally from Hawaii, manages a Starbuck’s Coffee Shop in Windsor and last time I visited we went whale watching. I hope to catch up with Travis and learn about his new position promoting tourism in Mendocino County. Previously he worked at Handley Winery in Philo. I hope to catch up with Michael (originally from Chicagoland and a Cubs fan) and his wife Rose. Michael sells wine barrels. During my visit last summer, he gave me a tour of the cooperage. Really interesting how wine barrels are made! My favorite will be spending time with Anne Vercelli. Her father Joe was part of the beginning of the wine industry in California. Back in the day he worked at Italian Swiss Colony. A name revered by old-times. Anne teaches culinary arts at the Santa Rosa Junior College, organizes several prestigious wine tasting events, judges wines and bakery competitions at the Sonoma County Fair and other events. Some of her classes are taught at Shone Farm where the kitchen is named after her father. In addition to all that, Anne works as hostess on Sunday at a delightful bakery/breakfast/lunch place, Costeaux in Healdsburg. But the BEST is that whenever I come out for a visit she hosts and prepares a 6 to 8 course meal at her house with different wines with each course and invites all my CA friends! It’s an amazing evening!! So that diet that Fr. Mark announced I was going to start a couple months ago will just have to wait to August 1st! I look forward to hiking in the Armstrong Redwood grove in Guerneville and walking the oceanfront. Perhaps a canoe trip down the Russian River. Oh! Did I mention the wine tasting??
Whatever you and your family are doing to enjoy summer, please be safe and enjoy God’s wonderful creation!
Have A Blessed Week!
Today 71 teens and 14 adult chaperones along with Fr. Mark are leaving for a week long mission trip to Troy, Missouri. They will be part of a group of 400 teens and adults from churches all over the country, along with 60 teens from St. Raphael in Naperville. During their time there they will be repairing homes of needy seniors and low income residents. I ask that you keep our teens and adults in your prayers this week for a safe journey there and back, and that they truly encounter Jesus in the people they meet and the ministry they do.
This year we are participating in the Diocesan Mission Cooperative. Next weekend we welcome Father Jevic Pendon from the Diocese of Romblon in the Philippines who will preach all the Masses making a mission appeal to help the poor in his Diocese. A second collection will be taken. Since the second collection will go through our accounting system, checks should be made out to “Our Lady of Mercy” with Philippine Mission in the memo line. This way your donation will appear on your year-end contribution statement from the parish. If you give cash, put in in an envelope with your name and envelope number so that your donation can be accounted to your contribution statement. Thank you in advance for your support of our brothers and sisters in need.
You’ve heard the saying….want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans! Think about your life 20, 40 or even 60 years ago. What were your plans? What did you envision for your future? What did you hope to be when you grew up? Did you achieve your hope, or are you doing something with your life that you never imagined? Questions like these encourage us to consider the paths our lives have taken and find the hand and heart of God in the midst of it all. In that way, we become open to new paths and to new calling we might never have dreamed of answering. Most of us have to work to make a living. So we educate ourselves and get a job. Amos in our first reading had two jobs. He was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. While at his Job, Amos was called by God to speak for God, to be a prophet. Judging from his conversation with Amaziah, being a prophet was never on Amos’ to-do list. On the contrary, he did not even want to be associated with the guilds of prophets whose frenzied ecstasies were very strange and difficult to discern. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, Amos prophesied, and as a result, his words continue to challenge God’s people to uphold God’s justice and be defenders of the poor and downtrodden. Jesus had been a carpenter and was called by God to leave that safe and relatively comfortable life behind in order to call people to “repent and believe, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). So closely attuned was Jesus to God’s call that he suffered rejection, torture and mockery, and in the end, he gave his life. When Jesus called the Twelve, each already had his own means of livelihood. But at Jesus’ invitation, each was willing to set aside his job and share in Jesus’ vocation. His instructions to them were simple – they were to preach repentance, heal people and continue Jesus’ battle with the powers of evil. What has Jesus called you to do and to be?
Have a Blessed Week!