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30 Dec

The Perfect Woman

Dear Parishioners,

As last weekend we had a 4th Sunday of Advent-Christmas Eve combo, so too this weekend we have a sort of Holy Family (Sunday)—Mary, Mother of God (Monday) combo. And a great combo it is. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and particularly Mary, are models for us.

If you read consistently my Tassel of the Cloak column, you probably know by now that I have a fervent love for the Blessed Mother. Instead of describing why, let me simply include a poem by William Wordsworth, "The Perfect Woman." Wordsworth had other poems explicitly about the Blessed Virgin Mary. This one, though not explicitly about Mary—it was about his wife and all of her good qualities—still speaks of the Mother of God.

30 Dec

Lincoln and Mary

Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to Mary the Mother of God. He once told the story during a Cabinet meeting of an Italian captain whose ship was punctured when it struck a rock. The captain set his men bailing water while he said a prayer to a statue of the Virgin Mary in the bowel of the ship. The water continued to pour in and it appeared the vessel would be lost. The captain, in a fit of rage at not having his prayers answered, seized the statute of Mary and threw it overboard. Suddenly the leak stopped and the ship was able to sail safely into port. When docked for repairs, the Virgin Mary statue was found stuck head-first in the hole.

25 Dec

Swaddling Clothes

From a homily on Christmas 2017

There are five actions that help comfort a crying newborn: swing, shush, suck, side, and swaddle. The 5 S's are meant to replicate the womb. For example, swinging the baby gently mimics the swaying in the amniotic fluid, which also made a shushing sound like waves. Wrapping a baby in swaddling clothes so that she cannot flay her arms makes the baby feel contained and embraced, as she was prenatally.

23 Dec

Chapter Five

The past several months have been quite busy around Saint Juliana. Several committees have been formed and are currently meeting with architects and contractors for both the back of the church and the courtyard. I hope to have these plans to show you in the next month or so. For the back of the church, we desire not merely to improve our restroom facilities and accessibility, but to create a gathering space. This space, added to the exterior of the church towards Oketo, would allow folks to meet and socialize before and after Mass without disrupting the liturgy, as well as give us the space to hold a Children’s Liturgy of the Word and other functions. The courtyard in the school would give our children a playground and a place for recess when the parking lot is unavailable. It would serve also as overflow for events in the Ahearn Center. A prayer garden, alongside additional green space, will make this a very attractive feature of our growing parish and school. Finally, we are in the process of putting an elevator in the building.

23 Dec

Cave-Man Christmas

Dear Parishioners,

“Father James,” asked the St. Juliana students upon my abrupt entry into the classroom, “are you a caveman?”

Stroking my chin to see if I had shaved that day, I responded, “Um, no, I think not.”

“Ah-ha,” some of the class responded with glee, “we were right!”

I scratched my head and looked at the half of the class that was mournful. “What, you thought I was a beast?”

Everyone laughed and proceeded to tell me what they meant by their inquiry. Was I of the camp that believed Jesus was born in a stable or that which believed he was born in a cave? Was I a "cave-man" or a "stable-man"? Jesus was most likely born in a cave. You can see the actual cave today in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. So, I am indeed a cave-man on that historical point.

23 Dec

Find Your Meaning

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who spent three years in Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau. He survived the war and went on to write, among other books, Man's Search for Meaning. In this classic text, Frankl argues that finding meaning in one's life is the cure for many neuroses.

Logotherapy, the form of treatment that Frankl founded, focuses on the patient's future. Whereas psychoanalysis is retrospective and introspective—trying to discover the cause of a patient's neurosis—logotherapy attempts to help the patient find meaning in his life, for someone who has something or someone to live for lives well.

16 Dec

Holy Days of Obligation

Catholics are expected to attend Mass every Sunday because “the Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practices,” as it is written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2181. Our communal participation in the Sunday Eucharist is also “a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church.” Thus, Sunday is the primordial holy day of obligation. However, there are other days of obligation every year, such as the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of the Lord, Mary Mother of God, the Epiphany, the Ascension of the Lord, Corpus Christi, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and All Saints. Some of these celebrations have been moved to Sunday in order to promote the participation of the faithful, while others remain on the specific dates on which they have been established.

16 Dec

Borderline of Salvation

Dear Parishioners,

John the Baptist, the cousin of our Lord, baptized on the Jordan River, as we all know. What's the significance of, as St. Hippolytus called it, “the Grand Jordan”?

Hebrew for "the descender," the Jordan River flows south from the Sea of Galilee into the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee, the largest freshwater lake in the region, teems with life. It is, of course, where Jesus spent most his time during his public ministry. The river Jordan connects this vivacious sea with its antithesis, the Dead Sea. The lowest point on earth, this body of water is one of the saltiest on earth, allowing nothing to grow, hence its name. The Jordan River is the connection between life and death.

16 Dec

Silent Night

A new title for Mary, and one that is quite expedient, is "The Silent Mother."

Striking in the Gospels is the silence of Mary. After several significant scenes, we find the Blessed Mother rather reserved. When the Angel Gabriel announces to her that she will conceive and bear a son, she simply says, “Be it done unto me.” The angel departs and there are no more words we hear spoken by Mary. Nothing is recorded of her during the birth at Bethlehem, and when Simeon prophesies during the Presentation of the Temple that a sword of sorrow will pierce her heart, Mary does not respond. Likewise in the face of suffering, the Blessed Mother walks silently alongside her son through Jerusalem to Calvary. Nor did Mary ever respond and take offense at her son’s sayings. There is no rebuttal from the Blessed Mother after the finding in the temple when Jesus says, “Did you not know I must be at my father’s house?” At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry during the wedding feast of Cana, Mary ignores the quip, “Woman, what is it to me? My hour has not yet come.” Nor does she retort when, asking to see her son, Jesus responds, “Who is my mother? Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my mother.”

14 Dec

Tax Credit Scholarships

Invest in Kids Act

In August 2017 the state of Illinois enacted a comprehensive education funding law that provides for tax credit scholarships which offer strong incentives for donors to support non-public school scholarships for low-income students. Illinois students from low-income families may use these scholarships to attend a non-public school of their choice.

Has a bright beam of sunlight ever drawn your eye to our stained glass windows, and you found yourself wondering what story they tell? They really do tell a story; we share it with our virtual tour.

Church Windows