23 Dec

Behold! I Make All Things New

On October 21st, 1892, the United States celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the new world.  The year-long celebration, declared by President Benjamin Harrison, was highlighted by the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, which ran from May 1 until October 30, 1893.  The monumental fair, which drew more than 27 million visitors, was a symbol of America's industry, innovation, and exceptionalism.  And so it was fitting that Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, considered one of the world's greatest musicians, performed at the fair.  Conducting the Chicago Symphony in front of a crowd of 8,000, Dvorak received a two-minute ovation.

Dvorak had recently composed his Symphony No.9 in E Minor. 'The New World Symphony' is a uniquely American symphony.  Dvorak made it for the United States and based it off of American melodies, also having been inspired by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The United States at the time was still considered 'the new world.' It no longer is.  We might be the 'first world,' but we are not new.  Catholicism, which has been around far longer than the United States, is, paradoxically, the 'new world.'  "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1).

We are the new world, and we always will be.  "Behold, I make all things new," says our Lord (Rev 21:5).  This is because our 'old worlds' constantly end.  When an individual Catholic turns away from a particular sin, deepens his prayer life, learns about a mystery of the faith, or matures morally, his apocalypse has come and he enters a new world.  Something similar happens for the Church at large each era. 

We likely will not hear the famous final movement of the New World Symphony this Christmas.  But this feast can, indeed, be the ushering in of a new world.

23 Dec

A Christmas Tree Blessing

Dear Parishioners,

I have discussed the meaning of the Christmas Tree before.  Its origins go back to St. Boniface, who chopped down a giant oak tree that pagans in Germany were worshiping.  He proved to them that the Christian God was more powerful than the fake, pagan gods confined to a tree.  If the local people needed a tree to facilitate their worship of the one, true God, then they should look to an evergreen tree.  Triangular in shape, like an image of the Trinity, the tree points upward to heaven and its evergreen leaves, which are everlasting, represent the eternity of God. 

I'm sure most of your Christmas trees are up already in your homes.  Traditionally, however, the tree was put up right before Christmas and remained in place until the feast of the Epiphany on January 6th. 

Your tree may be up, but have you blessed it yet?  No, this isn't a ploy to invite myself over to your house for dinner.  You don't need a priest to bless it.  Anyone in the family can do the blessing.  Doing the blessing on Christmas Eve, perhaps before you have your dinner, could be the perfect family activity! 

16 Dec

The Three Comings of Christ

Dear Parishioners,

Advent, as I'm sure you are well aware, means 'coming.'  There are three 'comings' of Christ that we recognize during this Liturgical season.  Cistercian monk and (recently deceased) spiritual writer Thomas Keating writes, "The first is his historical coming in human weakness and the manifestation of his divinity to the world; the second is his spiritual coming in our inmost being through the liturgical celebration of the Christmas-Epiphany Mystery; the third is his final coming at the end of time in his glorified humanity."

In other words, there is a past, present, and future coming.  The past is the memorial-aspect of Christ's coming 2,000 years ago.  The future is the apocalyptic-aspect when he will come again at the end of time to bring the earth to final glory.  The present is the grace-aspect of our Lord into our hearts right now.

A good image for Advent, particularly the "present" coming, is light.  By the way, the major liturgical seasons of the year each have an attribution.  Advent/Christmas/Epiphany is light; Lent/Easter/Ascension is life; Pentecost/Ordinary Time is love.

Light is pretty obvious for this present season.  We have Christmas lights and, of course, the candles on the Advent wreath.  The rose-colored candle we light this Sunday, being Gaudete Sunday when we rejoice looking ahead to Christmas. 

16 Dec

Virgin with Porridge

I could not help but chuckle when I came across Gerard David's 1520 painting, bizarrely titled, "Virgin with Porridge." I wonder if Mary and Joseph taught our Lord the fable of the three bears.  I am sure they told him about the story of Esau in the Book of Genesis (cf. Gen 25: 27-34). Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a plate of porridge (or lentils, as some translators have it). 

Whether or not Jesus actually ate porridge is beside the point. The lesson from the painting is about Mary.  Just as Mary nourished her Son, so too are individuals to be fed and comforted by the Blessed Mother.  The Church likewise needs the presence of the Blessed Mother, lest we become too bureaucratic or preoccupied with our own self-preservation.  We cannot feed ourselves.  Only Mary can help us grow the right way. 

Jesus sits on Mary's knee while holding a wooden spoon (carved, perhaps, by Joseph?).  Both Mary and Jesus have spoons.  Mary is the instrument of the grace that comes from our Lord.

There are some other noteworthy aspects of the painting.  The bread near the bowl and the pitcher on the cupboard are Eucharistic.  There is an apple next to the bread, a reference to the sin of Adam and the undoing of that sin.  We also have a glimpse into the world outside through the window in the background.  There is a melding of both the spiritual and world realms, the internal and external.  We are to be both Martha and Mary—active and contemplative.  

There is nothing overtly religious about the piece. This could be any mother and child.  And therein lays the final message.  Holiness is to be found in each one of us in the mundane on goings of life. 

 

14 Dec

Marriage Enrichment

The St. Juliana Marriage Enrichment Ministry strives to encourage married couples to grow in love with each other and remain in God’s love. Married couples from St. Juliana Parish and neighboring parishes are invited to attend liturgies, workshops, speakers and fun events to encourage and enrich their marriages.

If a married couple can form a habit of looking at each other in a sacramental way - seeing the beauty of God in each other's souls - seeking to enhance that beauty by upbuilding each other- mutually growing in the image of Jesus - then that Sacrament of Matrimony bears the stamp of the living God.

Interested in joining the ministry or learning more? Please contact the Marriage Enrichment Team.
Marriage Enrichment Team

Dynamic Catholic Passion and Purpose for Marriage

Join us for a spectacular Dynamic Catholic event on the Passion and Purpose for Marriage. This event has been enriching marriages across the country. Hear live music from George Lower, an award-winning singer-songwriter. Hear Dr. Allen Hunt, a nationally known speaker and bestselling Catholic author on Marriage. As quoted by Dr. Allen Hunt, "Marriage is a partnership and a friendship more than anything else. As spouses building a life together you will mutually influence one another in all kinds of ways." Please join us for this enriching and inspiring event on April 6th - 10am-2pm in the Church.

Are you a PreCana couple? Then this is for you. This event counts as Pre Cana credit for the Archidiocese of Chicago.

 

Watch the Video for More Information

Don't miss the BOGO event (Buy One Ticket Get One Free) only at St Juliana Parish at all Masses the weekend of March 23/24. We have a limited amount of BOGO tickets so don't miss out on this spectacular offer. Cash, Check and Credit Card are accepted. 

Learn More

 
If you are interested in helping out with the event before, during , or after, please email Anastasia at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 773-979-2830. Your time will be greatly appreciated. 

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09 Dec

Linda Moylan

As far as I can remember, God was always a part of my life.

Growing up on the southwest side of Chicago, my siblings and I were raised with a Catholic education. Here, as well as at home, I was taught about God and the importance of having Him in my life.

I must admit though, by the influence of some of the nuns who taught me during my younger years, I first feared Him. I believed, in order for God to love and accept me into heaven when I died, I must be perfect. By ‘being perfect’ I mean obeying the Ten Commandments at all times. However, as I started to get a little older, I realized we are all human and weak. And because of this we are not perfect and will fail at times throughout our lives. But no matter what, God will always love us.

God has always been the center of my life. So much so, that He is a part of everything I do. I talk to Him daily about everything that’s going on in my life.

When my Mother became seriously ill, and was enduring a lot of suffering through the final years of her life, I turned to God, as well as the Blessed Mother, always praying to them both; asking them to help me through this difficult time in my life.

When it was inevitable that my Mother was dying, and we needed to put her in a nursing home, I was overwhelmed with such grief. It consumed my every thought, I worried constantly on how she would adapt to being in a nursing home.

One night, after coming home from work, I laid across my bed, and asked God to carry this burden for me, trusting Him that all will be well. I immediately felt a sense of peace.

Two and a half days later my mother died in the hospital, never making it to the nursing home. I believe now, more than ever, God will never give me more than I can handle….He walks beside me always.

Linda Moylan works for Lurie Children’s Hospital. She and her husband Chet have been Parishioners for 26 years.

09 Dec

Blessed Santia Szymkowiak

Many know of St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), but there are many other female saints who were martyrs during WWII.

Blessed Santia Szymkowiak was a member of the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of Sorrows, also known as the Seraphic Sisters.  The Nazis overran her convent in Poznan in Poland in 1939 and Santia was conscripted as translator for the Germans.  She had a chance to escape, but chose instead to stay with her community, where she made her solemn vows on July 6, 1942. She would die the following month, having contracted tuberculosis in the prison camp.  She wrote in her diary, "Jesus wants me to be a holy religious and He will not be happy with me until I use all my strength for Him and become a saint...I have to become a saint at all costs. This is my constant preoccupation." Santia was beatified in 2002.

09 Dec

I Do!

Dear Parishioners,

When a man is ordained a priest, he kneels before the bishop and promises obedience.  The bishop encloses his hands around the candidate's folded hands and asks him, "Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?"  The candidate responds, "I do."  The bishop then says, "May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment." 

The bishop's line is taken from Paul's letter to the Philippians, the segment of which we have in our second reading this weekend.  "I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil 1:6).

It's a great line.  We could meditate and reflect on just this one line for an hour.  God began some project in each one of us, and the project is fundamentally good.  Each one of us is here for a purpose.  Remember that when you're feeling down, depressed, alone, and without meaning.  As bad as things might seem or be, it does not erase the fact that God began a good work in you.