Letters from a Pastor to His People

Letters from a Pastor to His People

Pillow-y White Clouds

Letters from a Pastor to His People- May 24, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Clouds are mentioned quite a bit in Sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament, God was manifested in a cloud. We read in the Book of Exodus, "And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud" (Exodus 16:10). A column of cloud led the Israelites through the desert (cf. Exodus 13:21) and then the shekinah was like a cloud or light that was in the temple of Jerusalem, signifying God's dwelling.

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Why Are You Catholic?

Letters from a Pastor to His People- May 17, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Why are you Catholic? Why do you believe in God? Why do you pray and why do you try to live a morally upright life? If you are joyful and peaceful on account of your faith, why?
Don't take offense at these questions. I'm not trying to make you feel guilty or put you on the defensive. And I'm certainly not trying to make you second-guess yourself.

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Let Us Strive for Heaven

 

Letters from a Pastor to His People- May 10, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

This Sunday's Gospel is one we typically read at funerals.  It is meant to be a consoling passage, and one focused on the afterlife.  "Jesus said to his disciples: 'Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places'"(John 14:1-2).

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The Good Shepherd

 

Letters from a Pastor to His People- May 3, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I have a small statue of the Good Shepherd on my bookshelf in my office.  Someone gave this to me when I became pastor.  It is about eight inches or so tall, made of white plaster, and depicts a shepherd (not necessarily Christ) carrying a sheep over his shoulders.  It's an image I'm sure you all are familiar with.

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The Road to Emmaus

Letters from a Pastor to His People- April 26, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The Road to Emmaus.  This road is one we all travel.  "The path of life" as we hear in the responsorial psalm.  We've been walking on this road our entire lives and will continue to walk it until we arrive at our destination in Heaven.  But even then, some say, the road will not end.  In Heaven we will still be journeying deeper into the heart of God.  

This is also the road for the Church.  We see three significant components are present on the road: discipleship, scripture, and the Eucharist. 

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Interior Social Approaching

Letters from a Pastor to His People- April 19, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I brought up last week in my Virtual Easter Mass homily the concept of "social distancing."  We are all familiar with this.  A distance of six feet is to be maintained between individuals, and we are not to shake hands or do other activities that put us in physical contact with one another.  We saw the first instance of "social distancing" with Mary Magdalene and Jesus outside the tomb on Easter Sunday.  Mary, upon recognizing Jesus risen from the dead, embraces him.  Jesus tells her, essentially, to let go and maintain social distancing.  "Jesus said to her, 'Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father'" (John 20:17).

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Be Recollected like the Wise Little Bee

Letters from a Pastor to His People- April 12, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Do you remember last year what we were mourning during Holy Week?  What the great tragedy of our world was?  It was the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. 

Though It doesn't seem as bad now, since the entire church wasn't destroyed, and particularly in light of our current calamity with the Coronavirus, the burning of Notre Dame is still, in my mind, one of the great calamities of mankind. 

As I preached last year on Good Friday, a church building's fundamental purpose is to worship and glorify God.  Thus, a church—something we produce through our own skills—is humanity's gift to God. 

Notre Dame, the most beautiful church in the world, was humanity's greatest gift to God.  Our gift to God, the best we could do, burned.  It was incredibly sad, both for us and for God.

Interestingly, I read in the subsequent months of that tragedy, as life continued forward, about a small miracle associated with the fire. 

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A Flower Sprouted From That Ash

Letters from a Pastor to His People- April 5, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Do you remember what we heard nearly six weeks ago? 

Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.

My God Ash Wednesday seems like an eternity ago.  The church was packed, people were coming in and out of the office and parish center, and the school and other groups were humming along.

And then the Coronavirus hit.

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Jesus Wept

 

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 29, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The raising of Lazarus is one of my favorite Gospels.  There is so much to pray with in the account.  On my private retreat I make every year, whenever it is, I spend at least one afternoon meditating and reflecting upon this powerful scene.  In last year's parish mission, I offered an extended meditation on the passage.  There is so much to glean from Jesus' encounter at Bethany that I encourage you to pray with this yourself.  You have time!

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Rise to the Top like David and the Blind Man

Fr. James with the Friendship Club during its Saint Patrick's Day Party (prior to the Coronavirus) in the newly renovated parish center.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 22, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

As of the submission of this bulletin for publication, the Archdiocesan mandate canceling all Masses and parish activities, including school and religious education, is still in effect. 

Once again, there will be no daily Masses and no Sunday Masses this weekend and upcoming week.  Because of Governor Pritzker’s shelter-in-place mandate, the church and parish office will be closed. We will not be able to open the Church on Sunday morning for individual prayer, nor will the office be open to receive any calls. In the event of an emergency and you need to contact a priest, such as for Anointing of the Sick, please call the emergency number: 847-507-2585.

You will find online a virtual Mass we recorded for this weekend, for you to prayerfully watch at your convenience.  Please consider also praying An Act of Spiritual Communion:

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Temples are in our Hearts and Souls

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 15, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

When Christ traveled north to Galilee to begin his ministry, he intentionally took the route that passed through Samaria, a route most Jews avoided.  Samaritans were despised by Israelite Jews.  When the Assyrians invaded several centuries earlier, they married with Israelites, creating this mixed Samaritan race.  For seven hundred years Samaria was occupied by a foreign ruler that implemented the worship of foreign gods or baals.  The Samaritans thus accepted the first five books of the Torah, but they rejected the historical books and believed the true temple was located on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem. 

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Bear Your Hardship for the Gospel

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 8, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The Transfiguration is an interesting event in the life of Christ.  It's significant, certainly, but not that significant.  Or, I should say, it's not as significant as the Crucifixion or the Resurrection or the Last Supper or, even, the Sermon on the Mount.  It didn't really "do" anything, the way those other events "did" something, like redeem us or teach us a new way of living.  I suppose we could argue the Transfiguration deepened our appreciation that Jesus is divine.  Or maybe we could also say that it transfigured human nature, making it possible for us to be transfigured.

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