November 11, 2018

As we are about to celebrate Veterans Day (Monday this year since the actual date falls on a Sunday), it is important that we all take time to reflect on the meaning of this holiday and to remember all those who have and still do serve in our Armed Forces. This year of 2018 holds a very special place due to the fact that we are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the End of World War I.

 

On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to Americans:

 

“A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggression of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.

 

“With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.

 

“Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.

 

“To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”

 

After the end of World War II, the holiday was changed to Veterans Day so that it would commemorate all men and women who have served our country in times of war and of peace. Many of these veterans still spend weeks and months separated from their families sometimes on bases in our country but often in lands afar for the cause of peace. Many who have served are in VA hospitals because of their physical and mental wounds. Some still suffer from bouts of depression, COPD, and many related illnesses. We pray for, thank, and support all of them not only today but always.

 

At the same time, let us do all in our power to do everything possible to promote peace at home and around the world and to never again enter into a buildup of arms and an abundance of nuclear devices that have the potential to wipe out millions of people if they were ever used. We must lead the way through diplomatic channels in consort with other nations or one-to-one to promote peace through just and moral leadership. We invite you to a special Veterans Day Mass at 12:15 on Monday, November 12, to honor Veterans. It will be concelebrated by three priests who are veterans and sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of Chicago VIC. Everyone is invited.

 

THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

 

“The widow’s mite” would be a suitable headline for today’s readings. True generosity is portrayed through the lives of two widows, the most vulnerable people in society. In the First Reading, a widow, in the middle of a great famine, shares the last of her resources with the prophet Elijah. Elijah’s trust and encouragement—“Do not be afraid”—strengthen her trust in God, and her generosity in sharing her last meal with Elijah is rewarded with a supply of food that lasts throughout the famine.

 

Today’s Gospel Reading opens with Jesus’ remarks about the scribes, and these provide the context for what follows. He is criticizing the Jewish scribes, the legal experts, for being more interested in receiving honor from people than serving them. Jesus singles out the way “they devour the houses of widows”—a devastating criticism! In contrast to their selfishness, Jesus observes a widow in the Temple who provides an authentic example of sacrificial giving. Jesus draws attention to her putting “two small coins worth a few cents” into one of the thirteen collection boxes. Sadly, this translation has lost the beauty of a long English tradition! Literally, the translation should read: “a poor widow came and threw in two mites that make up half a farthing!” The coin referred to here as a “mite” is the lowest denomination of a coin that has ever been struck by any nation in history! And yet she is giving to the treasury what in fact she could not afford.

 

Both readings illustrate the genuine self-sacrificing nature of giving. The widows gave to the extent of hurting! These acts of self-sacrifice by the poorest and most vulnerable offer a beautiful foreshadowing of the genuine self-sacrifice of Jesus whereby he gave his very life for our salvation.

 

Side by side in today’s Gospel Reading is an account of how the scribes both take advantage of the widow and pray. Jesus says, “They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers.” However, as Jesus points out in the Gospel, and as Pope Benedict XVI notes in Deus caritas est, love of neighbor and God are linked. The pope states, “Here we consider the various meanings of the word ‘love’ as it relates to both God and neighbor. How important it is for us to understand that love of God and neighbor is truly one great command of Jesus” (## 3, 10-11, 16-17).

 

The Responsorial Psalm relates the message of the First Reading and the Gospel as it proclaims that the Lord secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, and sets captives free. Our Christian lives are to follow each of these actions of the Lord. In Gaudium et spes, the Council Fathers note our union with others and the mandate to care for those in need, “Here we find a mandate for the Church and society to care for the needy and the poor as human resources increase. The work of charity calls for a pastoral sense of ‘who is my neighbor’ in the universal Catholic Church and ‘who are my brothers and sisters’ in the human family” (#9).

 

For Your Reflection: How could the widow in the New Testament reading give the little food she had to a stranger? When have you given, perhaps with time or emotional support, more than you thought possible? Do we need to do more to help others realize who their neighbor is?

 

SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

 

Frances Xavier Cabrini was the first United States citizen to be canonized. Her deep trust in the loving care of her God gave her the strength to be a valiant woman doing the work of Christ.

 

Refused admission to the religious order which had educated her to be a teacher, she began charitable work at the House of Providence Orphanage in Cadogno, Italy. In September 1877, she made her vows there and took the religious habit. When the bishop closed the orphanage in 1880, he named Frances prioress of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Seven young women from the orphanage joined her.

 

Since her early childhood in Italy, Frances had wanted to be a missionary in China but, at the urging of Pope Leo XIII, Frances went west instead of east. She travelled with six sisters to New York City to work with the thousands of immigrants living there. She found disappointment and difficulties with every step. When she arrived in New York, the house intended to be her first orphanage in the United States was not available. The archbishop advised her to return to Italy, but Frances, truly a valiant woman, departed from the archbishop’s residence all the more determined to establish that orphanage. And she did.

 

In 35 years, Frances Xavier Cabrini founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. Seeing great need among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult education classes.

 

As a child, she was always frightened of water, unable to overcome her fear of drowning. Yet, despite this fear, she travelled across the Atlantic Ocean more than 30 times. She died of malaria in her own Columbus Hospital here in Chicago.

 

The compassion and dedication of Mother Cabrini is still seen in hundreds of thousands of her fellow citizens who care for the sick in hospitals, nursing homes, and state institutions. We complain of increased medical costs in an affluent society, but the daily news shows us millions who have little or no medical care and who are calling for new Mother Cabrinis to become citizen-servants of their land.

 

PRIESTHOOD ORDINATIONS

 

We are very pleased to announce that Br. Dat Hoang, O.F.M. and Br. Edward Tverdek, O.F.M. have completed their deacon internship and now will be ordained to the ministerial priesthood this Saturday, November 17, at 10:00 AM here at St. Peter’s. The ordaining bishop is Most Reverend Alberto Rojas, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. Everyone is invited to participate in the ordination liturgy, especially if you have never been present for an ordination. The ceremony will most likely last about an hour and a half, and there will be a luncheon in the St. Clare Auditorium immediately afterwards.

 

We congratulate both Br. Dat and Br. Ed as they now begin their ministry as friar priests. Fr. Dat will return to St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Saint Louis, where he will serve as a parochial vicar; Fr. Ed will remain at St. Peter’s, where he will join the friar staff as a confessor while also maintaining his position as Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park. We wish them well and promise to keep them in prayer in the weeks and months ahead.

 

The usual noonday Saturday Mass will still be celebrated at the regular time, or as soon as possible after the ordination ceremony is finished and the people attending have exited the church.

 

BRAZILIAN FRIARS COMING TO ST. PETER’S

 

The Custody of Saint Benedict of the Amazon has an inheritance of missionary presence of Franciscan Friars who came from Germany, Northeastern Brazil, and the United States to the Amazon Region of Brazil more than 100 years ago. In 1943, the first American friars from the Sacred Heart Province came to Brazil in order to continue the work of evangelization in this very vast region. It was not until March 10, 1990, that the Custody became an independent entity of the Franciscan Order. Since this time, the Custody has seen an increase in local vocations as more and more of the friars are Brazilian.

 

The Franciscans in the Amazon seek to follow Jesus Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit and, as bearers of the Good News of the Kingdom of God, want to bring the Gospel message to the people of the Brazilian Amazon in the immensity of the rivers, forests and cities. They serve through prayer and contemplation, in pastoral and social services, in the ministry of reconciliation and religious assistance, and in missionary activity with indigenous peoples.

 

On Tuesday, November 13, Franciscans from the Custody of Saint Benedict of the Amazon will be at St. Peter’s to share with you their experiences and ask for your support of their missionary activity. They will speak at all the Masses on Tuesday and in the lobby all day to answer questions and to receive your donations. After the 5:00 Mass there will be a small reception in the auditorium on the lower level for all those interested in learning more about the friars’ lives and work in the Amazon Region. We hope you will be able to join them.

 

CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

 

For over 43 million Americans, there is a thin line: between eviction and home, between hunger and health, between unemployment and work, between anxiety and stability. This line is the Poverty Line. For a family of four, that line is $24,257 a year.

 

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding community programs that encourage independence. You are essential to its success. Your generous donations will give those in poverty the support they need to make lasting changes.

 

Together, we can make a difference in families and communities across the United States. 25% of monies collected stay right here in the Archdiocese of Chicago to fund local programs—some new and some continuing to do good in our neighborhoods and worthy sections of need in Lake and Cook counties. Next weekend please donate prayerfully and generously. Thank you.

 

A CHUCKLE FOR YOUR PLEASURE

 

Four men rode in a car: a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, a chemical engineer, and a computer engineer. As they were driving along, the car stalled out.

 

The mechanical engineer said, “It must be the pistons. Let’s repair them and be on our way.”

 

The electrical engineer said, “It has to be the spark plugs. We’ll replace them and be ready to roll in no time at all.”

 

The chemical engineer said, “No, it’s got to be bad gas. We’ll flush the system and it will be good as new.”

 

They turned to the computer engineer. “What do you think we should do?” they asked.

 

The computer engineer shrugged and said, “Let’s get out of the car, close the doors, then get back in and try restarting it.”