Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!
Today we start the most solemn and wonderful week in the Christian calendar – Holy Week! It is not only a week to remember historical events, but to enter into the mystery of what God has accomplished through these historical events and what God is doing NOW in our lives. They celebrate God’s taking possession of our hearts at their deepest core, recreating us as a new human community, broken like bread for the world’s life – a community rich in compassion, steadfast in hope, and fearless in the search for justice and peace. So I invite you to share in the mystery of God’s love that is so much a part of this week. Come and celebrate the Liturgies of the three sacred days – the Paschal Triduum. While these liturgies are lengthy, when you enter the mystery they celebrate, time stands still! Come and be transformed!!
Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:00 PM is rooted in the Jewish feast of Passover which celebrates the historical event of the Israelites’ freedom from political slavery in Egypt. Jesus transforms this celebration into a new covenant, celebrating freedom from our slavery to sin and death for those who believe in Him. The bread of ancient freedom Jesus transforms into His very self – body, soul, and divinity – as food for the journey as his disciples. The priesthood of Jesus is rooted in the “mandatum” the command to be of service as He washed the feet of His disciples. That priesthood, shared with ALL the baptized, calls ALL his followers, not just the ordained, to be of service to others.
Holy Thursday also celebrates the institution of the ministerial priesthood shared by the ordained priests of the Church. Following Mass, the Eucharist will be processed to an altar of repose (this year in the PLC) where people can spend time in prayer and reflection, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, assenting to the will of the Father. Church will be open until midnight. Good Friday is the only day of the year when Mass is not celebrated anywhere in the world. The Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion on
Good Friday at 3:00 PM will start with readings from scripture, a homily, Universal Prayers, then veneration of the wood of the Cross. The Church instructs that only one cross should be used for the veneration, as this contributes to the full symbolism of the rite. I realize this adds to the length of the service, but I believe the symbolism is worth it. The Liturgy concludes with the reception of Holy Communion using hosts that were consecrated at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening.
The Easter Vigil Mass is the most important Mass of the entire Church year! It is even more significant than Christmas!! Starting in darkness we begin with the lighting of the Paschal candle – the symbol of Christ’s Resurrection and triumph over the darkness of death. We hear several scripture readings recalling our connection to our ancestors in faith. New members will be Baptized and Confirmed in the Church. We will renew our own baptismal promises, and be reminded that in Baptism we died with Christ, and because of that, we will share in His Resurrection. We will share in the Eucharist and become once again an Easter people! Join Us!
This weekend is the Men’s CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) retreat, and next weekend is the Women’s CRHP retreat. Please keep the retreatants in your prayers these two weekends that they will have a life changing encounter with Jesus. Thanks and may God bless the teams that are leading the retreat weekends. The fruits of your labors will be seen in the new enthusiasm for Jesus and his Church that the retreatants will leave with.
It is hard to imagine that Lent will soon be over! Next week is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. Lent will end with the beginning of the celebration of The Sacred Paschal Triduum, starting with the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening. The Sacred Paschal Triduum ends at the conclusion of the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday evening. Even though Lent ends on Holy Thursday evening, we begin the Paschal fast that goes through the celebration of the Easter Vigil.
So, what you gave up for Lent is to continue until the conclusion of the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday evening. Then you can have that chocolate!! So what does the Sacred Paschal Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil – celebrate? While we recall the events of salvation history, the Triduum celebrates not what once happened to Jesus, but what is NOW happening among us as a people called to conversion, gathered in faith, and gifted with the Spirit of holiness. The liturgies of the Triduum celebrate God’s taking possession of our hearts at their deepest core, recreating us as a new human community broken like bread for the world’s life – a community, rich in compassion, steadfast in hope and fearless in the search for justice and peace. I invite and encourage you to celebrate all three liturgies of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil) with us as one single seamless three-day celebration. And then, be bathed in the light of the Resurrection as you renew your baptismal promises on Easter!
At the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening we will begin using new communion cups. The cups that have been used for many years are ceramic and some have chipped and the gold plating inside is wearing off. In the past, only cups made of precious metal were used for communion. After Vatican II the Church affirmed the goodness of vessels made of other materials such as pottery, wood, and glass. At my ordination in 1981 my cousins presented me a set (chalice, paten, cruets) of hand-made ceramic with their names on the bottom of the paten. After the experience of many years of using these materials, the Church has returned to the use of communion vessels made of precious metals. This is not to say that other materials are not dignified to hold the Body and Blood of Jesus, but that these materials are susceptible to breakage and spillage. As I mentioned, we will start using our new cups on Holy Thursday.
Have a blessed Lent!
Congratulations Deacon Senovio Sarabia, Jr.! Our seminarian intern who has been with us since the fall of 2017 was ordained a transitional deacon yesterday. We are thrilled to have been a part of his preparation for ministry and this special day. His first Mass to serve as a deacon is today at 9:00AM here at Our Lady of Mercy. He will continue to be with us on weekends until school is out for the summer. This summer he will be living with Fr. Mark and myself. He will have some responsibilities here at the parish and at various diocesan events for youth during the summer. When he returns to school this fall, he will continue to be with us on most weekends and will deacon a weekend Mass and occasionally preach. Assuming Deacon Senovio passes his final courses and is recommended by the seminary, he should be ordained a priest in May 2020. We pledge our prayerful support as Deacon Senovio embraces this final period of preparation for the priesthood. And we look forward to his diaconal ministry with us!
Because we have adults to be baptized at the Easter Vigil, we use the ACycle scripture readings for Mass today even though we are in the C-Cycle readings this year. The Scrutiny’s are celebrated on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent with those to be baptized at the Easter Vigil and the prayers are based on the A-Cycle readings. Today we celebrate the 2nd Scrutiny at the 9:00AM Mass. The 3rd and final Scrutiny will be celebrated at the 10:45AM Mass next Sunday.
The C-Cycle gospel you won’t hear today is the story of the prodigal son. So, I would like to share a few thoughts about this familiar gospel. This being the 4th Sunday of Lent or “Laetare” “Rejoice” Sunday, there is much to rejoice about! Jesus addressed this story to the scribes and Pharisees because of their efforts to undermine his message. The story is of two sons who had a falling out with their father. Neither son had a grasp of his true relationship with the father. Each operated out of his own desires and suppositions. And neither was filled with joy. The younger son didn’t see what he had. He imagined that he could find a better life away from his father and family. That son broke away after demanding his inheritance. The older son also did not see what he had. However, this son stayed at home and did what was expected of him. But his heart was not in it. Inside, he may have been jealous of his brother, who had the nerve to ask for his inheritance and then skipped out to squander it on loose living. Both sons needed to return to the father – and so do we. Jesus addressed this parable to the scribes and Pharisees – and to us. We are all sinners. We are in need of God’s loving kindness, God’s ever-available mercy. Like the father in this parable, the God of love and mercy is always waiting for our return! And THAT is worth REJOICING about!
Have a Blessed Lent!
We welcome Deacon Keith Strohm to Our Lady of Mercy Parish! Deacon Keith is a Deacon in the Archdiocese of Chicago and Executive Director of M3 Ministries. He will be leading our parish Lenten Mission March 25th through 27th. I attended a workshop given by him last summer sponsored by our Diocesan Religious Education Office. I was very much enriched by his presentation on the five paradigm shifts parish leadership must undertake to transform parishes into a culture of discipleship and mission. This transition has begun at Our Lady of Mercy.
I invite and encourage you to attend our Lenten Mission. Invite neighbors and family who don’t belong to OLM to join you. The Good News is for EVERYONE! I am sure you will enjoy and be enriched by Deacon Keith’s presentations: Monday’s presentation is “The Father’s Delight”, Tuesday’s presentation is “Breaking the Power of Sin” and Wednesday’s presentation is “Unleashing the Spirit”. I urge you not to miss this opportunity!!
Even though we are in the “C cycle” scripture readings for Mass, we will be using the “A cycle” readings this weekend and the next two weekend at all the Masses. This is because we have adults to be baptized at the Easter Vigil this year and on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent, a liturgical rite called “Scrutiny” is celebrated with the Elect – those to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. The scrutinies are based on three specific gospel stories that are found in the “A cycle” readings. The scrutinies solemnly celebrated on Sundays, are rites for self-searching and repentance and have, above all, a spiritual purpose. The scrutinies are meant to uncover, and then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. The scrutinies are celebrated in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Because they are asking for the three sacraments of initiation, the Elect must have the intention of achieving an intimate knowledge of Christ and his Church, and they are expected particularly to progress in genuine self-knowledge through serious examination of their lives and true repentance. In order to inspire in the Elect a desire for purification and redemption by Christ, three scrutinies are celebrated. By this means, first of all, the Elect are instructed gradually about the mystery of sin, from which the whole world and every person longs to be delivered and thus saved from its present and future consequences. Second, their spirit is filled with Christ the Redeemer, who is the living water (gospel of the Samaritan woman in the First Scrutiny), the light of the world (gospel of the man born blind in the Second Scrutiny), the resurrection and the life (gospel of Lazarus in the Third Scrutiny). From the first to the final Scrutiny the elect should progress in their perception of sin and their desire for salvation.
While the Scrutinies will be celebrated at a different Mass each weekend, we ALL join with the elect in praying to be delivered from the power of sin and to be renewed in our baptismal promises at Easter. Thus, the “A cycle” readings will be used for all Masses the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent.
Have a Blessed Lent!
We’ve all learned some useful things sitting in a classroom. How to read and write, add and subtract, name the 50 states, and random facts about the history of our country and the world. If we went to a Catholic school, we also memorized prayers, lists of sacraments, and definitions of heavy mysteries like the Trinity and the Virgin Birth. You can learn a lot in a classroom. But there are some things we’ll never learn from a book, teacher, or memorized fact. Some things have to hit us right between the eyes, or bull’s-eye straight into our hearts. We have to experience these things to know them – like falling in love, being forgiven, or receiving grace in a perilous hour. People can tell us what those things are like. Poets describe the delirious feeling of seeing a loved one’s face. In confession you are told by the priest that you are ritually forgiven by God. The definition of grace in the Catechism states: “the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies.” But we still don’t know what any of those words mean until we have the personal, visceral, soul-shaking experience of love, forgiveness, and grace.
It’s the same with knowing Jesus. Everybody knows Jesus right? We know He’s the Son of God, and Mary’s boy, and that He was born in Bethlehem and died in Jerusalem and rose in glory and ascended to heaven. But what does all that tell us? Maybe not as much as we think it does. Actually nowhere near enough!! There’s a difference between the classroom lesson about Jesus and the actual encounter of Him. Even the disciples, who hung around with Jesus all the time, didn’t really know Him.
That’s why the Transfiguration (today’s gospel) comes as such a surprise, a shock really. The three friends who knew Jesus best – Peter, James, John – literally “wake up” to the knowledge of who Jesus really is. He’s the fulfillment of every story from the law of Moses to the prophecies of Israel! He’s God’s every promise come to earth and in the flesh! He’s the one they’ve been waiting for! He is the light of the world, shinning dazzling white be- fore their own eyes!!
One minute they see Jesus this way. The next minute they don’t. Is it be- cause they fall back asleep? Is that why they remain the ignorant disciples who run from Jesus and deny Him in his hour of greatest need? If so, we can’t blame them. Most of us only see Jesus in little flashes of light, tiny glimmers of understanding that come and go.
Lent is an opportune time to stay awake and open ourselves to those trans- figuration moments. Some will have that moment in or after an ALPHA session. Some will experience that moment during Eucharistic Adoration. Some, during or after a pilgrimage to a religious site. Some in a stunning display of nature. So, the most important thing is to realize that all we “learned” about Jesus isn’t enough. Pray for a “transfiguration moment” this Lent and be open to however that may come!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from your Irish pastor