It's good to be dust.

Dear Parishioners,

Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return. That is the more traditional formula used on Ash Wednesday. Though I wouldn't call myself a traditionalist, I do prefer this line. I like being reminded that I am dust. Dust means simplicity and total contingency. It is, by definition, a single particle or grain, and dust is totally dependent on something else to create it.

We are dust. That is we are, or, at least ought to be, simple beings—receptacles to receive the breath of God. This is a good thing, since God's breath is holy, powerful, and wise.

We are dust. That is, we are, or, at least ought to be, totally dependent on God (see the opening line of our first reading from Genesis, 2:7, where we hear man was formed out of the "clay of the ground"). This is another good thing, since God is good and will make us good people.

We are dust! Alleluia! (Oops, strike that from the record...we're not supposed to say that word during Lent.) We are dust! It is good to be dust! So, wear that ash/dust on your forehead, even though it garners odd looks from fellow students in the hallways or from people on the train. Abstain from meat on Friday, though the steak looks better than the salmon. Try going to daily Mass; choose LaCroix over Coors Light; shut off the TV and read; give 50 cents to every homeless person you dust!

Lent is a season that emphasizes our dustiness, that is our simplicity and our contingency. Allow yourself to be dust. In fact, be proud to be dust.

The School Board will meet this Tuesday, March 7th at 7pm in the school library. We will be sending out an application next week to the community for anyone who is interested in serving on the board for the next academic year. A strong and active school board is key, in my mind, to a strong school, so please consider lending your talents to our school if you are able.

The Scout Pancake Breakfast is this Sunday, March 5th throughout the morning in the school lunchroom. Thank you to all those who are involved and who helped sell tickets and prepare the breakfast.

The Coleman Group has awarded our own Director of Operations, Ms. Jeanne Anderson, with the 2017 Resource Renewal Award for Leadership. The announcement for the award reads: “Jeanne has always been an exemplar of thoughtfulness, wisdom and compassion in her ministry as a business manager. She is never afraid to offer feedback, advice and support. She represents the very best of this ministry in her support for her parish, for her vicariate and for the Archdiocese of Chicago as a whole.” Myself and members of our parish finance council will attend a dinner on March 8th to recognize Jeanne, and the three other recipients of this award. Congratulations, Jeanne! We are proud of you!

Last Friday I gave a presentation to our eighth graders on Catholicism in World War II and the Holocaust, since they are currently studying this topic in school. I discussed the Church during Hitler's rise to power, the thousands of Catholics killed in concentration camps, including St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and some general spiritual lessons from WWII. I will accompany the eighth graders on their field trip to the Holocaust Museum in Skokie this upcoming Wednesday.

Please consider coming to the church on Fridays for Eucharistic Adoration. If you are able to sign up for a half hour slot, we'd greatly appreciate it. Otherwise stop in, even if just for a few minutes, to pray with Jesus. Adoration will end at about 5:20pm with Benediction, and Stations of the Cross will follow immediately at 5:30pm. This can be a profound Lenten practice for you! This can help make you dusty. Remember, there is a charm to our dustiness.

Yours in Christ,
Father James

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