29 Jan

God willing, goodwill

Dear Parishioners,

The Beatitudes are the subject of our Gospel today, and instead of focusing on all of the Beatitudes, allow me to hone in on just one: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Before I discuss cleanliness, or purity, of heart, a brief thought on the word ‘blessed.’ To be blessed means that the state of life is good. A blessed person has a good life. Goodness, however, is independent of feeling. We may feel happy. We may also feel sad. But if we are blessed, whether we are happy or sad, anxious or bored, we are good. Jesus tells us that these counterintuitive characteristics or qualities will make us good people.

Purity of heart we think of, I'm sure, as being chaste. There is more to it, though. I would like to quote at length from Father Jacques Philippe's book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart, in which he discusses this beatitude:

22 Jan

St. Paul the Equestrian

Dear Parishioners,

This upcoming Wednesday, January 25th is a very interesting feast day in our Church. We celebrate ‘The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle.’ I'm sure you're all familiar with the story of how Saul fell off his horse on the road to Damascus. If not, read Acts 9:1-22. It's interesting that a feast day is centered around a saint's conversion. Typically a feast day is about the saint's entire life, and is celebrated on the supposed date of the individual's death or birth. Paul does have another feast day—June 29th—but this particular event in Paul's life was so monumental the Church believed it necessary to give it a separate feast. Paul's conversion was a miracle and, arguably, the most important miracle in history. Without Paul Catholicism does not spread to Europe and broaden. It remains a progressive sect of Judaism confined to Palestine. Much of our set of beliefs, not to mention much of our Bible, does not exist without the man formerly known as Saul.

15 Jan

Here I am, Lord

Dear Parishioners,

“Here am I Lord; I come to do your will (Ps 40:8-9).” The responsorial psalm for this Sunday provides both a perfect prayer and a good model for discipleship. What do we "need" to do to be good Catholics, good disciples of Jesus Christ? Simply present ourselves before God and do his will. Check out each of these verses from the psalm.

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.

The ball is in God's court. Simply wait for him (“I have waited, waited for the Lord”) and he will give you what you are to do to follow his will (“and he put a new song into my mouth”).

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”

08 Jan

Rest in Peace, Father Ahearn

Dear Parishioners,

God bless Father Donald Joseph Ahearn!

Love is the most powerful force in the world. It gives life. A man who loves, lives. And a man who loves a lot, lives a lot. Fr. Ahearn lived a good, long life (91 years) because he was a tremendously loving man. He was loved by so many people and it was your love, brothers and sisters, that allowed Fr. Ahearn to live as long—and as well—as he did.

Father Donald Ahearn

Fr. Ahearn (aka,"Nubs") was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, along with 39 other men, on May 3, 1951. His first assignment was St. Gertrude Parish in Franklin Park, where he served as the assistant pastor for eight years. During his tenure at St. Gertrude, Fr. Ahearn also acted as a chaplain at St. Patrick High School on Belmont Avenue, in addition to being a specially appointed confessor for nuns. His next assignment, still as an assistant pastor, was at St. Barbara Parish in Brookfield, where he served for seven years. On the side during this time, the young priest was a Cana chaplain. Remaining an assistant pastor, in 1966 Fr. Ahearn transferred to St. David Parish on Union Street. After four years at St. David's, he was named the administrator at St. Nicholas Parish on State Street for five months before taking over as pastor at the same parish. Upon completion of three years as pastor, the Archdiocese named Fr. Ahearn administrator for a month of Holy Rosary Parish on 108th Street, before making him the assistant pastor of All Saints Parish on South State Street for a year. Then, from 1974-1975, Fr. Ahearn served as the associate pastor of Our Lady of Ransom parish not too far from here in Niles. Our beloved friend finally found his home here at St. Juliana Parish on Touhy Avenue in Chicago. He was named pastor on August 21, 1975 and retired on June 30, 1995, serving the parish for nearly 20 years! Among all the duties he performed in the parish, Fr. Ahearn was a member of the Pastor Review Board, the School Board Advisory Committee, and then an Assistant Vicar for Senior Priests. From 1995 until his death last Sunday, January 1, 2017, Fr. Ahearn lived at St. Juliana as the pastor emeritus.

01 Jan

Have a Mary New Year!

Dear Parishioners,

Today is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God and it's one of our oldest feast days. However, as some of you elder Catholics might recall, January 1st was not always a celebration of Mary's divine motherhood. Originally, today was the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord. Jewish circumcisions occurred on the eighth day after a child's birth (cf. Lk 2:21), hence our Lord's circumcision on the Christmas octave. Celebrating this occasion was a recognition not only of Christ's first shedding of blood for the redemption of mankind, but also of the reality that God allowed himself to be “born under the law,” in the words of St. Paul (Gal 4:4), so that he could be fully united to mankind. The circumcision is a symbolic event in the life of Christ, but the Church found it more appropriate to honor Mary on the first day of the new year. Paul VI changed the feast day in 1974.

I'm grateful he did. To me, it's absolutely fitting that we begin our new year by recognizing in a special way our Blessed Mother. I think we all can agree that we want to experience happiness in our lives. We want 2017 to be a happy year. A New Year's Resolution ultimately has the aim of creating happiness. If we lose weight, we'll be happier. If we talk more with our parents, we'll be happier. If we read more, we'll be happier.