My apologies for an administrative installment, but I want to let you know where we as a parish stand with regard to our finances and fundraising. Part of the Experience Jesus restructuring is meant to facilitate your involvement. It is also meant to make us as economical as possible. I take very seriously the call to be a good steward of your resources.
Father James Wallace
At the end of June two members of our staff, Pam Francisco and Joyce Browne, will be retiring. Pam and Joyce have served our parish with such dedication for so many years. Pam arrived here in 1974 and has served both as Director of Religious Education and as Pastoral Associate, helping with the liturgies and working with a variety of groups. She originally taught at our Catholic school and quickly endeared herself to the community.
On Easter Sunday I unveiled a vision for our parish: Experience Jesus. People are attracted to good experiences in life: a Cubs game, a movie, a concert. Well, Jesus is the best experience there is, better than any movie or game. Putting Jesus front and center is how we will be strong as a parish. St. Juliana is being restructured so that we can best Experience Jesus. If you missed the announcement about Experience Jesus, and how Sunday, School, and Service are our three means to experiencing Jesus, please click here to read about it.
Attending Chicago's priesthood ordination last week had me thinking of piety, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Piety means we love God with such a childlike love that we are willing to make offerings for him. A pious person makes the appropriate gestures in church and says his prayers and devotions, like the rosary, because he has a deep love of God. The pious person then respects his neighbor because he sees Jesus in his neighbor. We are all sons and daughters of God, therefore to be pious to our neighbor is to be pious to God.
Our Lady of the Whey. This is a title I have created for Mary, not to be confused with Our Lady of the Way, or Santa Maria della Strada. Mary brings us directly to her son, thus the Madonna della Strada is the fastest way to heaven. That feast day is celebrated on May 24th. Mine does not have a feast day (yet) and it deals with the process of making cheese.
A Chicago Tribune article earlier this year (January 12, 2017) reported on the elevator boom in China. The country is rapidly urbanizing and, with it, immense skyscrapers are being constructed. Businesses not only want elevators, they want fast elevators to arrive at their destination as quickly as possible. The elevator at Shanghai Tower, in fact, is the fastest in the world, traveling at a speed of 45 mph. If only the Chinese knew that the fastest way to the heavens is not an amusement-park-like elevator, but Jesus Christ!
This 10-inch statue of Mary and the child Jesus was found by workers underneath the floor of a cloister in Boulaur, France. It dates back to the 13th Century. Despite the statue's mutilation and missing limbs, she is called the "Belle Dame", or Beautiful Lady. I'm grateful to a priest friend of mine who took this picture.
There are several takeaways from this simple, yet elegant piece. Notice the smile of Mary. If you want to know what joy is, look at Mary's smile. She displays deep peace and contentment. When we are in possession of Jesus, we might not be jumping with elation, but we do have joy.
“But you, O Lord, laugh at them” (Ps 59:7-8).
To have a sense of humor means to be able to "see through things," as Fulton Sheen once put it. Think about it. Jerry Seinfeld points to the mundane experiences of life, like grocery shopping, and we laugh because we realize there is something behind the mere obtaining of food. Comedians see through ordinary events.
“The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” I wonder if people following the NFL draft this past weekend noticed the application of this spiritual principle. The whole concept of the draft is based on the saying from Christ. (I'm taking this image, by the way, from a little book by James Penrice called Goal to Go: The Spiritual Lessons of Football.) The idea behind the draft selection is to create parity in the league. Teams select in reverse order of how they finished the previous season. A team that was once bad can, in theory, become good by adding quality players through high draft picks.
The Road to Emmaus. What a fascinating story from the Gospel of Luke (Lk 24:13-35)! The two disciples, walking away from Jerusalem downcast, do not realize they are speaking with Jesus Christ until the breaking of the bread. “And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.”
The two disciples were unable to recognize Jesus in the discussion of the scriptures. Even though Jesus explained clearly the meaning of what was prophesied and what happened—“then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures”—they still did not understand. They needed to receive Jesus in the Eucharist to be moved. “He was made known to them in the breaking of bread.”