04 May

Tots & Company

Every Friday morning when Saint Juliana School is in session we host a casual gathering for tots (age 0-3) and their caregivers in the Ahearn Activity Center from 8:15 to 10am. Ring the bell for entry through the silver doors on Oketo Avenue, directly across from the church. There's a ramp for easy stroller access and plenty of room inside to park them.

29 Apr

In Communion with Nellie

Nellie Organ was born in Waterford, Ireland on August 24, 1903. Nellie's father, William, wrote of his daughter, “When only two, she would clasp my hand and toddle off to Mass, prattling all the way about Holy God. That was the way she always spoke of God, and I do not know where she could have learned it.”

Poor Nellie was afflicted with severe scoliosis and would spend much of the nights coughing and crying. The toddler's comfort came, amazingly, from visits to church to see the Eucharist. She would point to the monstrance and whisper, “Mudder, there He is, there is Holy God!” Nellie desired to receive communion, but she was too young, as the age for First Communion at the time was twelve. Instead she would ask those who had just received communion to give her a kiss so she could have some contact with Jesus.

29 Apr

He's a Mind Reader

Dear Parishioners,

The children in school frequently ask me if God can read our minds. Yes, of course! To me it's an easy question (I'm often asked harder ones), and I'm surprised by the students' reactions to that answer. They are taken aback. Really? God knows what I'm thinking?! Yes, he does—he's God. “For God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1 Jn 3:20).

Our second reading is from St. John's first letter (he wrote three). In this letter—actually more of a theological treatise than a letter—John lays out the reality that we are privileged to be sons and daughters of God. When we die, we shall be like God, for we shall see him as he is (cf. 1 Jn 3:2).

John says that we show our love for God and others by what we do and what we believe. What we say doesn't matter all that much. Anyone can say “I love you.” The person who sacrifices and lives for someone other than himself is the one who truly loves.

22 Apr

The Bard

William Shakespeare's original patron was a Catholic and when Shakespeare came into his own he bought a house in London that housed and hid Catholic priests. When he retired to Stratford, one of Shakespeare's few visitors was John Robinson, a Catholic to whom Shakespeare had leased his London house, called the Blackfriars Gatehouse. An Anglican clergyman sighed upon Shakespeare's death that he had “dyed a papist.” All of this in addition to the many Catholic references and themes in Shakespeare's works, from Purgatory to the Mass, seem to indicate the greatest writer in human history was Catholic.

22 Apr

The Good Shepherd

Dear Parishioners,

In the Gospel of John, there are seven “I am” sayings of Jesus. That is, our Lord says he is seven different things. They are, “I am...

  • the Bread of Life
  • the Light of the World
  • the Door
  • the Good Shepherd
  • the Resurrection and the Life
  • the Way, the Truth, and the Life
  • the True Vine
15 Apr

Keep it Short

There are multiple reasons I give brief homilies. It is not for lack of preparation. In fact, it takes me more time and effort to compose a five minute homily than it would a 15 minute homily. I am reminded of what Blase Pascal once wrote, “I am sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I did not have time to write a short one.”

But there is also an implicit message I am seeking to convey by means of a short homily: the homily is not the most important part of the Mass. The Eucharist is. I want you to be filled and satisfied not by my words, but by Jesus himself.

15 Apr

Ghostbusters

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus is no ghost! “But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost” (Lk 24:37).

Our Lord on this third Sunday of Easter is conscientious of proving to the disciples that he is real; that he is not a phantom or some vague spirit conjured from the dead. In the Old Testament the ghost of the prophet Samuel was summoned by the witch of Endor at the request of Saul (cf. 1 Sam 28). Ghosts were not unheard of.

Nor was a resuscitated person. Jesus had raised Lazarus (cf. Jn 11:38-44), the daughter of Jairus (cf. Matt 9:18), and the son of the widow of Nain (cf. Lk 7:11-17) back to life The prophet Elijah in the Old Testament had also brought a person back from the realm of the dead (cf. 1 Kgs 17:17-24). Jesus was not a resuscitated human being. His resurrected body is different than it was before. He has a glorified body. He can pass through walls and appear in two places at once and vanish in an instant (see the Road to Emmaus).

13 Apr

School Mass Homily

From a homily at a school Mass on Friday of the 2nd Week of Easter, 4/13/2018

Boys and girls, do we remember who Jesus appeared to after he rose from the dead? Mary Magdalen, another Mary, Peter and John, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the disciples in the upper room. Very good. Someone guessed Mary, Jesus' mother. Is this true? Well, we do not hear about in the Gospels, but I find it hard to believe that Jesus would not have visited his mother after this great news. Aren't our mothers some of the first people to whom we tell good news? I don't think I'm speculating too much by guessing Jesus would have appeared to Mary. Remember John at the end of his Gospel writes, "There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written" (Jn 21:25).

08 Apr

Baseball Season

Baseball season is underway and the Cubs' home opener is tomorrow, so allow me to reflect on the spirituality of baseball. Francis T. Vincent, Jr., the former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, once said this:

Baseball teaches us, or has taught most of us, how to deal with failure. We learn at a very young age that failure is the norm in baseball and, precisely because we have failed, we hold in high regard those who fail less often--those who hit safely in one out of three chances and become star players. I also find it fascinating that baseball, alone in sport, considers errors to be part of the game, part of its rigorous truth.

08 Apr

Got faith? Have love.

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Thomas! Oh Thomas, how close you were to missing out on sainthood. How close you were to losing your identity and being consigned to an eternity of confusion and limitation, along with Judas, Pilate, and everyone else who could not step out into the beautiful dark and believe. Thanks be to God (and truly, to God, for he mercifully came to you), you were able to see the risen Christ and come to faith.

We know well the story from today's Gospel, the second Sunday of Easter. “Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came” (Jn 20:24). When Thomas, who has missed Christ's appearance that Easter Sunday evening, is told by the ten of the resurrection, Thomas doesn't believe. It is not until a week later, when Jesus appears and allows the doubter to put his hands into his wounds, that Thomas believes, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!” This prompts Jesus' response: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29).