Tassel of the Cloak

The Conversion on the Way to Damascus

The 17th Century painting by Caravaggio, The Conversion on the Way to Damascus, is a brilliant depiction of the monumental moment for Christianity.  Saint Paul lies on his back on the ground, below his horse.  Finely dressed as a soldier, the young man exudes strength and vigor.  His face is calm, his eyes are closed, and his muscular arms are extended heavenward, as if receiving a hug. 

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The Two Popes

I watched the Netflix movie The Two Popes recently and, I must say, I was not impressed.  Aside from it being unhelpful fiction, a profound spiritual lesson was distorted.  Towards the end, Benedict XVI, played by Anthony Hopkins, explains to Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio why he desires to retire.  God has abandoned him.  Benedict feels nothing in prayer.  He asks, he pleads, and "Silence!" is all he receives in return.  This abandonment the pope takes as a sign that God no longer is with him and no longer desires him to lead the Church.  He must resign.

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What Type of Leader Are You?

After I became pastor, I found myself reading biographies.  The stories of the great figures of history gave me just the advice and encouragement I needed.  Biographies on Abraham Lincoln were particularly insightful.  But I also found interesting the stories of LBJ, Napoleon, Douglas MacArthur, Harry Truman, Andrew Jackson, Al Smith, Cardinal Bernardin, George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant, just to name a few that I have read over the past few years.  I have been given many books on leadership and administration from parishioners, but the best I have received have been these biographies. 

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Jesus Christ As Leader

After I became pastor, I found myself reading biographies.  The stories of the great figures of history gave me just the advice and encouragement I needed.  Biographies on Abraham Lincoln were particularly insightful.  But I also found interesting the stories of LBJ, Napoleon, Douglas MacArthur, Harry Truman, Andrew Jackson, Al Smith, Cardinal Bernardin, George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant, just to name a few that I have read over the past few years.  I have been given many books on leadership and administration from parishioners, but the best I have received have been these biographies. 

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The Gift of Peace

In a press conference to announce his cancer was terminal and he would die by the end of the year, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, the Archbishop of Chicago from 1982 until 1996, said to reporters that he was "at peace." Death was his friend and peace was a gift God had given him.  In fact, a compilation of his reflections from the last three years of his life, which not only saw his battle with cancer, but also a false accusation of sexual abuse, was put together in a book titled "The Gift of Peace."

 

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Jacques de Jesus

Lucien-Louis Bunel, a Carmelite friar known as "Jacques de Jesus," was the headmaster of a French prep school during the second world war.  The three Jewish boys he was hiding in the monastery were discovered by the Gestapo and they, along with Bunel, were transported to Auschwitz and executed.  Bunel would be named by the state of Israel "Righteous Among the Nations." The 1987 movie Au revoir, les enfants was based off the life of Julien Quentin, a twelve-year-old student under Bunel.

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Prisoner 22356

For many, the day after Christmas is one of the saddest days of the year.  The thrill of opening presents has evaporated and is perhaps replaced by disappointment in what we did not receive or, even worse, something we did receive but thought would be better.  (Take note: material items never completely satisfy.) Trees and decorations are, in some households, already taken down and we are confronted by the sober awareness that it will be another 364 days before we experience a similar excitement.

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Give Me God What You Have Left

It is that time of year when we ask for gifts for ourselves.  What if we replaced our Christmas List with the following prayer?  It was composed by André Zirnheld, a paratrooper in the British Special Air Service killed in action in Libya in 1942.  This was found among his personal effects:

Prière

Give me, my God, what you have left.

Give me what no one ever asks of you.

I do not ask you for rest or tranquility, neither of soul nor of body.

I do not ask you for wealth or success or even health.

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Ah, Her Smile

Advent is a time, Pope Benedict XVI once said, to retrace the paths of old and "make the light that illuminated the stable in Bethlehem shine anew in our lives."  The world was in a dark place during Mary's pregnancy 2,000 years ago, but God reentered the world and gave it hope.  So too can God reenter our world and our lives, despite the darkness, to give us light and hope.

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Rest on the Flight to Egypt

We who are nervous and anxious about many things can learn from the Holy Family depicted in Rest on the Flight to Egypt  (Merson, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1879).  Mary, holding the baby Jesus, rests in the arms of the father-like sphinx.  Joseph sleeps by the dying campfire.  Though under extreme duress, fleeing from the murderous Herod, Joseph is at peace, knowing the protection of his wife and son are secured, not by his own devices, but by God the Father.   

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The First American Nun

Lydia Longley was a young Puritan from Groton, Massachusetts.  She was twenty years old in 1684 when her village was attacked by Native Americans and her entire family killed.  Taken away to Montreal as prisoner, Lydia was ransomed by a French family and saved, both physically and spiritually.  She not only converted to Catholicism, but entered the Congregation of Notre Dame.  Lydia died in 1758, serving as a faithful religious sister for seventy years, and earning the title, "The First American Nun."

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Mother Cabrini, We Pray For You

On Sunday, September 22, 1946, over 100,000 Chicagoans filled Soldier Field.  They were not present to watch a Bears game.  No screaming or consumption of alcohol occurred.  The large crowd was praying a holy hour; that is, sitting all together in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  The occasion was the celebration of the canonization of Saint Mother Cabrini by Pope Pius XII.

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May We Do God's Will

As D-Day was occurring Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation.  It was not a speech he gave, but rather a prayer.  "And so, in this poignant hour,” he said, “I ask you to join with me in prayer." FDR asked God to give the American soldiers strength and perseverance.  He prayed that the Father would "embrace and receive" those who would be killed in action.  He lifted up their family members and everyone else at home. 

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May God Speak Good Things About You

I hate to be morbid, but I see a profound message in this anecdote.  I heard recently that a man in his thirties committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.  Afterward, his psychiatrist went with the medical examiner to the dead man's apartment where they found his diary.  The last entry, written just hours before his death, read: "I'm going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump."

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Catholic Schools Week 2019

Catholic Schools Week 2020

January 26–January 31

Open House

Sunday, January 26

Family Mass · 11:00am

School Open · 11:00am–2:00pm