Letters From a Pastor to His People

  • 12 April 2020 | By

    Letters from a Pastor to His People- April 12, 2020

    Dear Parishioners,

    Do you remember last year what we were mourning during Holy Week?  What the great tragedy of our world was?  It was the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. 

    Though It doesn't seem as bad now, since the entire church wasn't destroyed, and particularly in light of our current calamity with the Coronavirus, the burning of Notre Dame is still, in my mind, one of the great calamities of mankind. 

    As I preached last year on Good Friday, a church building's fundamental purpose is to worship and glorify God.  Thus, a church—something we produce through our own skills—is humanity's gift to God. 

    Notre Dame, the most beautiful church in the world, was humanity's greatest gift to God.  Our gift to God, the best we could do, burned.  It was incredibly sad, both for us and for God.

    Interestingly, I read in the subsequent months of that tragedy, as life continued forward, about a small miracle associated with the fire. 


A Flower Sprouted From That Ash

Letters from a Pastor to His People- April 5, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Do you remember what we heard nearly six weeks ago? 

Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.

My God Ash Wednesday seems like an eternity ago.  The church was packed, people were coming in and out of the office and parish center, and the school and other groups were humming along.

And then the Coronavirus hit.


Jesus Wept


Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 29, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The raising of Lazarus is one of my favorite Gospels.  There is so much to pray with in the account.  On my private retreat I make every year, whenever it is, I spend at least one afternoon meditating and reflecting upon this powerful scene.  In last year's parish mission, I offered an extended meditation on the passage.  There is so much to glean from Jesus' encounter at Bethany that I encourage you to pray with this yourself.  You have time!


Rise to the Top like David and the Blind Man

Fr. James with the Friendship Club during its Saint Patrick's Day Party (prior to the Coronavirus) in the newly renovated parish center.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 22, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

As of the submission of this bulletin for publication, the Archdiocesan mandate canceling all Masses and parish activities, including school and religious education, is still in effect. 

Once again, there will be no daily Masses and no Sunday Masses this weekend and upcoming week.  Because of Governor Pritzker’s shelter-in-place mandate, the church and parish office will be closed. We will not be able to open the Church on Sunday morning for individual prayer, nor will the office be open to receive any calls. In the event of an emergency and you need to contact a priest, such as for Anointing of the Sick, please call the emergency number: 847-507-2585.

You will find online a virtual Mass we recorded for this weekend, for you to prayerfully watch at your convenience.  Please consider also praying An Act of Spiritual Communion:


Temples are in our Hearts and Souls

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 15, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

When Christ traveled north to Galilee to begin his ministry, he intentionally took the route that passed through Samaria, a route most Jews avoided.  Samaritans were despised by Israelite Jews.  When the Assyrians invaded several centuries earlier, they married with Israelites, creating this mixed Samaritan race.  For seven hundred years Samaria was occupied by a foreign ruler that implemented the worship of foreign gods or baals.  The Samaritans thus accepted the first five books of the Torah, but they rejected the historical books and believed the true temple was located on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem. 


Bear Your Hardship for the Gospel

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 8, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The Transfiguration is an interesting event in the life of Christ.  It's significant, certainly, but not that significant.  Or, I should say, it's not as significant as the Crucifixion or the Resurrection or the Last Supper or, even, the Sermon on the Mount.  It didn't really "do" anything, the way those other events "did" something, like redeem us or teach us a new way of living.  I suppose we could argue the Transfiguration deepened our appreciation that Jesus is divine.  Or maybe we could also say that it transfigured human nature, making it possible for us to be transfigured.


Persevere. Be Disappointing.


Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 1, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

You are a disappointment.

If you're still reading...I am a disappointment.

Yes, disappointments.  This is what Catholics are called to be, especially during the season of Lent.  We follow after the who first disappointed—Jesus Christ. 


You Are the Temple of God

Back by popular demand! Fr. James with his niece Addy (2) and nephew Sebbie (3)

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 23, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Paul's letter is pure gold.  First, he gives the monumental line: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16).

This is key for the spiritual life.  This reality—that we are temples—is the foundation for all prayer. 

I'm big into prayer, as you know.  To me, it's the center of a priest's life.  If a priest isn't praying, his life is meaningless.  It's a train wreck.  Why?  Because prayer is relationship with God.  Think of being married and never communicating with your spouse.  Your life would be a contradiction.  Same with a priest.


We Always Have A Choice

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 16, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

All the priests of the Archdiocese gathered together with the Cardinal a couple weeks ago for an all-day seminar.  We do this about three times a year.  In the afternoon we heard a talk on forming good habits, and the speaker mentioned "mindfulness training." Basically, if you can pause mentally when you are in the midst of a certain habit (smoking, eating, compulsively checking your texts, etc.), be mindful of what you are feeling and experiencing (something that is actually not that satisfying), you'll begin the neural re-networking process to break the bad habit.


We Are Salt & Light

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 9, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus, when he calls us salt and light, is saying that we are necessary. He doesn't call us honey; he doesn't call us a neon light—things that are nice, but not necessary.  Salt and light are necessary for the world to function.  There is no life without light (think about how the dinosaurs died) and salt, especially back in Jesus' time, was essential to preserve food.

Now, when I say the Lord needs us, what I'm really saying is that he relies on us to spread the faith.  (By the way, in baptism, we give the newly baptized a candle and say, "receive the light of Christ." In the old ritual, salt was sometimes put into the person's mouth and salt was also sprinkled in water.) Christ has us evangelize: that is, introduce people to God and bring them into Catholicism.


The Presentation of the Lord

Father James with children at the Catholic Schools Week Mass. Congratulations to Joe and Anne Cisneroz, recipients of the 2020 Sr. Remy Schaul Service Award.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 2, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I came across "The Surrender Novena" a few weeks ago, prayed it, was impacted by it, and wanted to share it with you. 

If you're not familiar with it, a novena is when we pray a particular prayer or set of prayers for nine straight days to obtain graces.  This novena was given directly from Jesus to an Italian priest named Father Don Dolindo Ruotolo, who lived from 1882-1970.  The “special” grace from this novena is to be able to trust in God more completely. 

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