From the Pastor’s Desk

News from P.I.T. (Pastor in Training)


November 18, 2018 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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!

Fr Don

November 11, 2018 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

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!

Fr Don

 

November 4, 2018 – Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 lives 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!

November 4, 2018 – Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

As you know, election day is this Tuesday, November 6th.  Voting is one of our most important responsibilities as citizens and as Catholics.  Often times I hear some Catholics say that the Church should keep out of politics.  There couldn’t be anything further from the truth!  When our nation’s founders sought to “separate church and state” they did so to prohibit the establishment of any particular denomination as the official religious body of the nation – not forbidding religious organizations to address matters of grave importance to human welfare.  Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, No. 183 states: “An authentic faith always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it….if indeed the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics, the Church, cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.”  Also, it must be made very clear that the Church does not tell us whom to vote for.  The Church does not (and cannot) endorse any particular candidate or political party.  The Church can however, (and must) speak to the issues facing voters, and provide voters with information on candidate’s positions.  The Church also exhorts Catholics to study Scripture and Church teaching to gain and understanding why the Church takes a particular stance on an issue.  This is something that I suspect many of us don’t take the time and effort to do.  But our faith teaches us that “conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good while shunning what is evil.” (U.S. Bishops 2015 document on forming conscience and faithful citizenship).  It is our responsibility as Catholics to form our consciences by developing the virtue of prudence to discern true good in circumstances and to choose the right means of achieving it by maintaining a willingness and openness to seek what is right.  There are four key principles to keep in mind:  1) Promoting and defending the dignity of the human person; 2) Supporting the family and subsidiarity in local, state and national institutions; 3) Working for the common god where human rights are protected and basic responsibilities are met; 4) Acting in solidarity with concern for all as our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and must vulnerable.

There are many moral issues facing us today, but the most important is the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and must always be opposed.  At the same time, issues such as war, the death penalty, racism and care for the poor and the immigrant are enormously important – they are not optional concerns which can be dismissed.  The moral teaching of our Church is about more than prohibitions.  We Catholics are encouraged to respond to the basic needs of human beings – food, shelter, health care, education and employment.  We are called to welcome refugees and immigrants, defend religious freedom, support marriage and family and protect the environment.

In today’s political environment, voting as a Catholic is hard word.  It takes serious reflection, knowledge of Church teaching, awareness of who the candidates are and where they stand on the issues.  But most of all it takes prayer!  Then get out and vote!

Have a Blessed Week!

Father Don

October 28, 2018 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

With Halloween coming this Wednesday, every year I get asked if it is OK for Catholics to celebrate Halloween?  My response?  ABSOLUTELY YES!  However, there is a caveat to my endorsement.  Celebrate Halloween as a Catholic holiday, not a secular one!!  There are plenty of ways that we can celebrate this occasion without violating any of the teachings of the Catholic Faith. Here are three practical ways to do this.

Remember the saints! Instead of focusing only on just fun and merriment, let us emphasize that Halloween is short for All Hallow’s Eve. Halloween is the vigil to the celebration of All Hallow’s Day or All Saints Day – a holy day of obligation. The word “hallow” means holy.  So the origin of Halloween is holy! It is a meaningful celebration of the lives of all the saints and these saints include our loved ones who are now in heaven. Halloween is an opportune time to remember the saints with our family and friends.  Celebrate Halloween by coming to our 7:00pm Mass on October 31st, the vigil of All Hallow’s Day!

Talk about spiritual warfare! Halloween is full of references of evil spirits and dark forces. The occasion is an opportune time to evangelize others about the reality of these evil elements. We can talk to our friends and family about spiritual warfare. More importantly, we can share with them that God is powerful and He will faithfully protect us from harm. Halloween is a day to reflect on Christ’s triumph over sin, death, and Satan.  It is our day to laugh at Satan!

Dress appropriately! There is nothing wrong with wearing a costume to join in on the merriment but we need to keep in mind what the Bible says about dressing modestly. We can still participate in the fun without having to wear something that is shameful in the eyes of God. Similarly, we must be careful about costumes that glorify supernatural evil or superstition. Catholic parents can counteract the costumed characters of violence and darkness by sending their children dressed as one of the saints. Imagine that!  A saint showing up at your door instead of a gross bloody Dracula!!

It is true that Halloween has been badly corrupted and hyper-commercialized just like Christmas and Easter, but, just as that should never stop Catholics from fully celebrating the great feast of the Church, neither should it stop Catholics from enjoying Halloween as a celebration of the great feast of All Saints.  So, have some fun – and Happy Eve of All Saints!!

Have a blessed week!

Father Don