01 Apr

Easter is Cool

From a homily on Easter Sunday, 4/1/2018

Catholicism is not boring. Easter Sunday captures the exhilaration of the faith. There is a great earthquake (cf. Matt 28:2). When Mary and the women see the empty tomb, and the angel inside, they are terrified (cf. Lk 24:5) and utterly amazed (cf.Mk 16:5). Mary, upon seeing the empty tomb, runs to tell Peter. She is overjoyed (cf. Matt 26:8). Peter and John, in turn, run to see it themselves (cf. Jn 20:4). When the two disciples on the road to Emmaus recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread, their hearts burn (cf. Lk 24:32). Earthquakes, terror, amazement, joy, running, and burning—all things inimical to boredom.

30 Mar

Good Friday Moonlight Sonata

From the Homily on Good Friday 2018

Behold a beautifully tragic proposition of our Catholic faith: in suffering and even evil, beauty and good are to be found. “At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon (Mk 15:33).” This Friday is ugly: mankind at our worst. And yet this Friday is beautiful. God died for love of us and mankind was restored.

25 Mar

Those Mysterious Priests

When I was a seminarian I was on a Lenten retreat in a monastery in a small town in Italy. The local stray dogs barked constantly. It was a disruption to me at first, but then I thought of a fable that can help us appreciate what it was like for Christ to become man and to die for us. (Fulton Sheen gives us a similar image in his book, Those Mysterious Priests.)

25 Mar

So Much Duality

Dear Parishioners,

Triumph and Tragedy. I can't help but think of that phrase, the title of the sixth volume of Winston Churchill's narrative of the Second World War, in association with Palm Sunday. There are so many contradictions and paradoxes in the event of Christ's passion. So much beauty; so much ugliness. So much good; so much evil. So much love; so much hate. Yes, a triumphant and a tragic moment in the lexicon of human experiences.

Veronica, Simon of Cyrene, and Joseph of Arimathea—such beautiful, caring figures who supported our Lord. Caiphas, Herod, and Pilate—such ugly, cowardly, and jealous figures who trashed our Lord.

God the Father—such a good figure, the benevolent creator of the universe, consubstantial with his Son, who loved his son and all those given to his son, and loved them to the end. The Devil, Satan himself—such an evil figure who hated the Father so much he would do anything to attack him, even killing his innocent son.

18 Mar

Queen Counselor

Wives do not mind asking for directions. They tell their husbands to stop, pull over, and seek help. Mothers are also good counselors. They encourage their children to obtain tutors, instructors, coaches. They look to problem-solve and not remain condemned to the futility of the present predicament. What could be a negative situation a woman, through her humility and sensibleness, turns into something positive. It is like that time when Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, a 16th century saint, dropped a small statue of Jesus in the chapel while dusting it. Picking it up unbroken, she kissed it, saying, “If you had not fallen, you would not have gotten that.”

18 Mar

An Other Forty Days

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton underwent her own forty day trial. In the early 1800s, she and her husband planned a trip to Italy. It was hoped the Italian climate would improve William Seton's health, for he had tuberculosis. But, as the saying goes, God had other plans. Husband and wife were quarantined in the New York port for forty days, and William died on account of the quarantine. They were basically stuck on a cold, wet, and small ship with little food.

Elizabeth survived and continued on with the journey to Italy. Now, Elizabeth was an Episcopalian from a very wealthy New York family. A "high society" young woman, she was a skilled musician, equestrian, and conversationalist, not to mention both beautiful and highly intelligent, speaking French fluently.

11 Mar

Red Seaside

The geographies in the Holy Land themselves are a sermon. Nazareth, where Jesus was raised, is in the mountains. Capernaum, where Jesus performed his ministry, is on the sea. While mountains are interesting for visitors and passersby, for permanent residents, the mountains are fixtures. The mountain in the distance might as well be a painting on the wall. It is inexorable and secure, and it is predictable. In Nazareth with Mary and Joseph, under the mountains, Jesus had a solid upbringing. He went to synagogue and worked in his father's wood shop. Perhaps he traveled with his father to the nearby towns for business, but he was always rooted in holiness and obedience. Jesus had stability. If we were to characterize this with a color, we would say Nazareth was the color blue. For blue, like ice, denotes resoluteness.

11 Mar

He Who Can End the Fight

Dear Parishioners,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

There we have it. John 3:16. Perhaps the famous line in all of Sacred Scripture. The citation we see on signs at football games and on billboards. Why is this line so remarkable?

We could write a whole book on why. Here is one reason for your consideration: God does not start the fight, but he can end it.

God is blamed unfairly for many things. What is good is that he is God—he can handle the blame. But still, it's not always just, the anger directed at our God. Cancer—why did God do this? War—where is God to stop it? A tragic car accident–how could God allow this? The stray bullet, the divorce, the drug addiction, the teen suicide, and so on. Fingers usually point to God.

04 Mar

Kevin Matthews & Broken Mary

  • 21 August 2018 |
  • Published in Learning

Thanks to everyone who joined us on March 4 for a conversation with Chicago radio legend Kevin Matthews, as he discussed his legendary career and his spiritual journey that led to his book Broken Mary. We had nearly 800 visitors from all around Chicagoland, Wisconsin, Indiana and a great crowd from our own parish. For those who missed the event. the program was recorded and will be posted here soon. We are very grateful for all of our volunteers, including the members of the Saint Juliana Pastoral Council, for making this event possible.

04 Mar

Virgin Most Fruitful

Mary's perpetual virginity is an article of our faith. We Catholics believe that our Blessed Mother was a virgin before and after the birth of Jesus. (The “brothers and sisters” of Jesus we hear about in the Gospels are, actually, his cousins or perhaps half-siblings.) Mary was given to no man so that she could be given to each of us. That is the significance of Mary's virginity.