30 Sep

Nothing is Worth More Than Our Souls

Letters from a Pastor to His People- September 30, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

Nothing is worth more than our souls.  Money, our health, the 70-inch flat-screen TV, that Scotch collection in our basement...nothing.  We should be willing to do whatever it takes to protect our souls and strengthen them.  We should be willing to sacrifice and forgo anything that would endanger our souls.

This is what my namesake, St. James, is getting at in the second reading this weekend. "Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days" (James 5:2-3).

This is also what Jesus is getting at when he says, rather extremely, "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off" (Mark 9:43).

What's the best thing we can do for our souls? Pray and worship God.  Those aren't the only things we need to do, but they are the most important (in my opinion). 

We are a spiritual people.  We are built for God.  We are hard-wired to be in touch with Jesus.  When we are not in touch with God, mainly through prayer and worship, we become a hollowed-out version of ourselves. 

There are things that pull us away from the spiritual life.  They don't necessarily have to, but they can, depending on our personalities.  If food or video games or our career become ends in themselves and do not lead us to Jesus, then we need to cut them out, like that hand that causes us to sin in our Lord's example.

30 Sep

The Old War Horse

General James Longstreet was Robert E. Lee's second-in-command.  The "Old War Horse," so named by Lee, played a pivotal role in many battles, including Second Bull Run, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness.  One of the Confederacy's most gifted tactical commanders, Longstreet was highly regarded, particularly by southerners. 

That changed after the Civil War.  When Longstreet became a Republican and supported President Ulysses S. Grant, the once-famed Confederate general was seen as a traitor.  He was rejected and shunned by those around him.  In fact, Longstreet was literally shunned by his Episcopalian congregation.  Shunning is a practice of protestant evangelical churches.  Outcasts are banned from the community.  When the rejected Longstreet wandered into the nearby Catholic congregation, Father Abram Ryan, the priest (and also a former Confederate Army Chaplain), told Longstreet his church shunned no one.  Longstreet found his home.  He converted to Catholicism in 1877.  The "Old Catholic War Horse," in his remaining 26 years of life, was not only the ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, a U.S. marshal, and the U.S. railroad commissioner, he was also a devout communicant.

The Catholic Church's openness to the troubled Longstreet is what brought the general into the faith and made him a champion of Catholicism.  

Something similar occurred with another wandering Civil War veteran.  William Frederick Cody used his marksmanship to kill 4,280 bison to supply meat for railroad workers.  The fame from this feat led him to create his traveling show, "Buffalo Bill's Wild West," which toured for 24 years.  Over 2 million people from all over the world saw the spectacle.  But that wouldn't be Buffalo Bill's crowning achievement.  The day before Cody died in 1917, he asked for a Catholic priest and was admitted into the Church.  Like Longstreet, he found a home in Catholicism.

23 Sep

Come To Me

Letters from a Pastor to His People- September 23, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

In the Gospel of Mark there is a motif known as the "Messianic Secret." Jesus desires his identity as the Messiah to remain hidden.  We saw it in last weekend's Gospel, when Peter calls Jesus 'the Christ."  The Gospel reads immediately afterwards, "Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him" (Mk 8:30).

Jesus keeps quiet in the Gospel this week as well.  "Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it" (Mk 9:30).

Why did Jesus not want people to know who he truly was?  It seems odd, doesn't it?  I mean, we wouldn't today tell people not to talk about Christ. In fact, just the opposite.  We want people to tell the world about the Lord.

I won't go into all the reasons for the Messianic Secret.  The best explanation I recall reading is that Jesus wanted the people to fall in love with him.  Jesus did not want people to be swept up in the grandeur of the 'Messiah.' If people knew who Jesus was, from a title and functional standpoint, before they came to know him as a person, they may not have authentically been attracted to him.

23 Sep

Redemption for the Loyal

The prophets in the Old Testament had to preach very difficult messages to hostile audiences.  They were persecuted. Some were even killed (see Isaiah). The Prophet Ezekiel was no different.  Preaching to the Jews in Babylon, for he had been among the group deported by Nebuchadnezzar, he was not well-received.  He had told his fellow countrymen that they had sinned and deserved this punishment.  He prophesied also that this captivity would not be short, but would last seventy years. 

16 Sep

Christ in Korea

Dear Parishioners,

The cross is the theme this week.  Last Friday the Church celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  This Sunday, the 24th in Ordinary Time, Jesus says, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mk 8:34).  The first reading from Isaiah 50 we also read on Palm Sunday and later this week on Thursday we will celebrate the feast day of the martyrs Andrew Kim Tae-gon and Paul Chong Ha-sang.  A word or two on these Korean saints, as their stories are inspiring and exemplify the Gospel.

Catholicism did not enter Korea until 1592.  Like Japan, the nation was isolated and sealed off from foreign contact.  Somehow Catholic literature from China, brought there by Jesuit missionaries, found its way into the peninsula.  The native Koreans who read the material were so impressed they converted.  When a Chinese priest at last visited Korea in the late 1700s, he found nearly 4,000 Catholics. Remember, these Catholics had never seen a priest. 

16 Sep

The Wedding At Cana

At first glance, The Wedding at Cana by Italian Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese is a meaningless jumble of bodies.  But if one looks closely at the expansive painting from 1563, currently held in the Louvre, many messages are portrayed in the variety of figures.  This, of course, is Veronese's depiction of our Lord's first miracle when, at Mary's behest, Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast (cf. John 2:1-11).

15 Sep

St. Juliana Emerald City Gala

  • 17 August 2019 |
  • Published in Events


--> DON'T MISS THE FUN...HIGHLIGHTS FROM LAST YEAR BELOW <--

 

THE GALA WAS A TREMENDOUS SUCCESS. 

Thank you to all the sponsors. attendees, bidders, gala revelers, friends and families of St Juliana.

It is because of you that the event was a success especially all the heartfelt contributions for the

future of our community and families for generations to come.

John F. McDonough President & CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks Click here for the Live Recording

John McDonough - John F. McDonough Humanitarian Award Recipient Click here for the Live Recording

Jim Cornelison Singing the National Anthem. Click here for the Live Recording

Why help support a STEM Lab for St Juliana School? Hear from the future beneficiaries. 


Thank you to all the St Juliana friends, families and community for you and all you do for the St. Juliana family.


Father James, Michael ad Kim McCauliffe 

Welcome to the Gala!   

  

  

09 Sep

Be Open to Jesus

Dear Parishioners,

"[Jesus] put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, 'Ephphatha!'— that is, 'Be opened!' — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly" (Mk 7:33-35). 

There is a little ritual during the sacrament of Baptism called the "Ephphatha Rite." After the child has been baptized, the priest blesses the child's ears and mouths.  The hope is that the child will one day be able to hear God's word and then proclaim it to others.  Maybe parents hope as well that the child will be able to listen to the parents when the child is told to go to bed or stop fighting with their siblings.  Either way, the priest is asking the ears and mouth to be opened, as that is what the word Ephphatha means.

To be opened.  Pope Benedict XVI, in an Angelus Address several years ago, said that one word, Ephphatha, captures Christ's entire mission.  Jesus came to open us, to free us from anything that would enslave us.  Jesus came to set us free.

09 Sep

Learning the ABCs of Prayer

Watching the children in pre-kindergarten learn about the alphabet made me recall a little parable on prayer. 

A Jewish farmer was not able to return home before sunset one Sabbath and so was forced to spend the night in the field.  Upon his return home he was met by a rather perturbed rabbi who chided him for his carelessness. "What did you do out there all night in the field?" the rabbi asked him. "Did you at least pray?" The farmer answered: "Rabbi, I am not a clever man. I don't know how to pray properly. What I did was to simply recite the alphabet all night and let God form the words for himself."

06 Sep

Janet Gonzalez

“Acorn from God”

Over 20 years ago, I was riding my bike in the forest and noticed an acorn lying in my path.  It was too beautiful to leave behind, so placed it in my bike purse.

One very hot summer day, I stopped to watch a soccer game.   I noticed a parent, her name is Boe.  I had met her once before. We talked about art.  But on this day, she was just shining with God’s light as she was lugging around a very large cooler for all of the children, despite her daughter not playing that day.   The Holy Spirit said to me, “Now that is who I want to be friends with.”  So I approach Boe, inviting her to join me in making an art entry for the ”Niles Art Bench Stop Project.”  Then, with much belief and feeling, I begin to explain that God wants to bless her by doing this project and that I am positive she would be selected.  Despite her doubts, she agreed to try. 

In the weeks that followed, the Holy Spirit was very persistent reminding me to call Boe to be sure she made her entry.  Overjoyed and blessed, we were both selected and we painted happily for hours in the garage. During this time, my husband replaced my old bike, and while emptying my bike purse I found that acorn. Unable to part with it, I placed it by our art supplies.

After our benches were completed, Boe and I had to work on a little bio of our lives, but instead I was filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to confess about the soccer game, God’s love for her, and then boldly expressed why she needs to go to church.  Boe sadly responded that she did not deserve God’s favor; that she is still married yet separated, thus unable to attend church. 

 I resumed working on the bio, asking Boe about her past with art.  Boe explained with much fondness her first art project as a little girl in Poland, making little people out of acorns.  In an instant, it was so clear: that acorn is for Boe from God!  After telling Boe about the acorn’s journey over 20 years to get to her, Boe began to weep. 

Today Boe has her acorn proudly labeled “Acorn from God” in her home.   Boe has returned to church with her children. Thank you God.  ( You can see her 2 bench entries at the Niles Village Hall and in front of the Costco Gas station on Touhy in Niles.) 

Janet Gonzalez is a wife and mother, and has been a Saint Juliana parishioner for 10 years.