June 23, 2019

This week we have the privilege of celebrating the priesthood jubilees of three of our friars here at St. Peter’s: Fathers Wenceslaus Church, Mario DiCicco, and Derran Combs. You have seen them many times celebrating the Eucharist at the altar, many of you no doubt have experienced them as confessors for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they have been present for the Communal Anointing of the Sacrament of the Sick, you may have visited with them on the mezzanine, and you have seen them taking their turn as the receptionist in the Front Office. Fathers Mario and Wenceslaus are celebrating 60 years as priests, and Father Derran is celebrating 25 years as a priest. We are grateful to them for these years of priestly ministry, and we wish them well as they continue to serve God’s People.

 

Father Wenceslaus grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, and went on to graduate from Quincy College, where he came to know the Franciscans as his teachers. He felt a call to the Franciscan life and was ordained in 1959. Through the years he has served as a teacher at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago and at Saint Frederick High School in Monroe, Louisiana. He has also served as a chaplain at Mayslake Village. But the majority of his priestly years have been spent at St. Peter’s as a confessor—namely from 1967 to the present. He also spent a number of his summers at Notre Dame attending classes for continuing education.

 

Father Mario grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, in St. Mary’s Parish which was staffed by the Franciscans. He, too, was ordained in 1959 and began his priestly ministry at Padua Franciscan High School in Parma (Cleveland), Ohio. He also taught at Quincy College and for a time was the Interim President of the college. He also served as the President of Hales Franciscan High School and of the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California. For two years he was a formator of the temporarily professed friars in Hyde Park. For the past eight years he has been a confessor at St. Peter’s and for the last five years he has been the inspiration and the organizer of our annual Gala. For over forty years he has lead pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to other Holy Places, where countless pilgrims have found their faith renewed and deepened.

 

Father Derran grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and came to know the Franciscans through meeting Archbishop James Lyke, a friar, who encouraged him to consider a vocation to the Franciscan way of life. Fr. Derran responded positively and was ordained a priest in 1994. He earned a doctorate in religious education from Fordham University in New York City. He has ministered at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Nashville and in Little Flower Parish in Monroe, Louisiana. He has been involved in both teaching and campus ministry at Fisk University (Nashville), Quincy University (Quincy, Illinois), and the University of St. Francis (Joliet). For a number of years he has taught in the summer program at Xavier University (New Orleans) and has used his talents at the diocesan level in several dioceses. He has been a confessor and Director of Programs at St. Peter’s since January 2017. 

 

We are grateful for all three of these friars and for all they have done, especially in their ministry here at St. Peter’s. We invite you to celebrate their jubilees with them on Monday, June 24, at the 11:40 Mass. A reception in the auditorium will immediately follow the Mass. There you will be able to both congratulate them and to spend at least a few minutes thanking them yourselves for their service and assistance.

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

 

The First Reading shows the Eucharist being foreshadowed at the beginning of God’s plan of salvation. Melchizedek, a king and a priest, brings bread and wine to celebrate Abram’s victory over his enemies. This king of Salem acknowledges that “God the Most High” has blessed Abram.

 

Chapter 7 of the Letter to the Hebrews references this event, pointing out that Melchizedek foreshadows Jesus in his role as priest and king. Melchizedek’s feast with bread and wine also points forward to the Last Supper that Jesus celebrates with his disciples and that we continue to celebrate in the Eucharist. Finally, Melchizedek’s feast is a celebration over the forces of evil just as the Eucharist celebrates Jesus’ victory over sin and death and brings peace.

 

In the Second Reading, Paul’s account of the institution of the Eucharist reminds the community that the Eucharist is a sacrament of unity. Reading this passage, we have an insight into how early Christians celebrated the Eucharist some twenty years after Jesus’ death and Resurrection.

 

In describing the miracle of the multiplication of bread in the Gospel, Luke uses language that is contained in his account of the institution: “Then Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.” By describing the miracle with these words, Luke shows that this event foreshadows the gift of the Eucharist. Just as Jesus fed the crowds with an abundance of physical nourishment, so in the gift of his Body and Blood, Christ feeds us spiritually with an abundance of his life and love, uniting us to himself and to one another as the Body of Christ.

 

In today’s Second Reading, St. Paul explains to the Corinthians that he is passing on what he has received from the Lord. The Council Fathers explain in Gaudium et spes that the food Christ left for his disciples would sustain them to continue his work and set their sights on the afterlife. The document states, “Christ left to his followers a pledge of this hope and food for the journey in the sacrament of faith, in which natural elements, the fruits of human cultivation, are changed into his glorified Body and Blood, as a supper of brotherly and sisterly communion and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet” (#38).

 

The Gospel today is not just about filling the stomachs of the crowd. Jesus has been telling the gathered about the Kingdom of God, and he continues to demonstrate the Kingdom as he cares for their physical needs and ministers to them. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis explains that the Gospel is concerned with more than alleviating a need. It has to do with bringing the Kingdom to others. The pope states, “Reading the Scriptures also makes it clear that the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God. Nor should our loving response to God be seen simply as an accumulation of small personal gestures to individuals in need, a kind of ‘charity a la carte,’ or a series of acts aimed solely at easing our conscience. The Gospel is about the Kingdom of God” (#180).

 

As Jesus multiplied the bread and fish for the crowd, he attended to the basic need for food. In the encyclical Deus caritas est, Pope Benedict XVI states that our love for others must address their ordinary, practical needs. Pope Benedict states, “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented” (#14).

 

For Your Reflection: How does the Eucharist lead you to care for others? When do you see abundance in what God has given you? When you are extending to others the love you have received in the Eucharist, how are you passing on what you have received from the Lord?

 

SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

Monday, June 24, 2019

 

Jesus called John the greatest of all those who had preceded him: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John.” But John would have agreed completely with what Jesus added: “Yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Lk 7:28). John spent his time in the desert, an ascetic. He began to announce the coming of the Kingdom and to call everyone to a fundamental reformation of life.

 

His purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. His Baptism, he said, was for repentance. But One would come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John is not worthy even to carry his sandals. His attitude toward Jesus was, “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).

 

John was humbled to find among the crowd of sinners who came to be baptized the one whom he already knew to be the Messiah. “I need to be baptized by you” (Mt 3:14). But Jesus insisted, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15). Jesus, true and humble human as well as eternal God, was eager to do what was required of any good Jew. John thus publicly entered the community of those awaiting the Messiah. By making himself part of that community, he made it truly messianic.

 

The greatness of John, his pivotal place in the history of salvation, is seen in the great emphasis Luke gives to the announcement of his birth and the event itself—both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. John attracted countless people (“all Judea”) to the banks of the Jordan, and it occurred to some people that he might be the Messiah. But he constantly deferred to Jesus, even to sending away some of his followers to become the first disciples of Jesus.

 

Perhaps John’s idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God was not being perfectly fulfilled in the public ministry of Jesus. For whatever reason, he sent his disciples (when he was in prison) to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer showed that the Messiah was to be a figure like that of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. John himself would share in the pattern of the messianic suffering, losing his life to the revenge of Herodias.

 

John challenges us Christians to the fundamental attitude of Christianity—total dependence on the Father, in Christ. Except for the Mother of God, no one had a higher function in the unfolding of salvation. Yet the least in the kingdom, Jesus said, is greater than he, for the pure gift that the Father gives. The attractiveness as well as the austerity of John, his fierce courage in denouncing evil—all stem from his fundamental and total placing of his life within the will of God.

 

Please join us for the celebration of this great feast at the Solemn Mass with choir at 11:40. As mentioned earlier, this will also be the jubilee Mass for Fathers Wenceslaus, Mario and Derran.

 

FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS

Friday, June 28, 2019

 

On Friday, June 28, we celebrate the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the patronal feast of our Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart. The feast is always celebrated on the Friday following the Feast of Corpus Christi, since there is an intimate connection between these two feasts: each of them underscores an aspect of the continuing love of Jesus Christ for the Church and for each member of the Church.

 

We can trace an element of devotion to the Heart of Jesus almost from the first centuries of the Church, although such devotion seems primarily on an individual rather than on a liturgical level. It was only in the 17th century through a vision to a humble Visitation nun in France, Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690),  that Christ chose to reveal the desires of His Heart and to confide the task of imparting new life to the devotion. These revelations were numerous, but it was particularly the one that occurred on the feast of St. John in 1673 that most of the basis for the feast is rooted. In that apparition Jesus permitted Margaret Mary to rest her head upon His Heart and then disclosed to her the wonders of His love, telling her that He desired to make them known to all mankind. He told her that He had chosen her for this work of diffusing the treasures of His goodness and that he had chosen her for this work. He said, “Behold the Heart that has so loved men…instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part of mankind only ingratitude.” He asked her to work for a feast of reparation on the Friday following the Feast of Corpus Christi. It took a long time to actually accomplish the goal of a specific feast, but finally Pope Pius IX in 1856 made it a feast to be celebrated by the universal Church.

 

Here at St. Peter’s we will celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart with a Solemn Mass at 11:40 on Friday, June 28 (no 12:15 Mass that day) and with Solemn Vespers in church at 5:40 P.M.. We hope many people will be able to join us to participate in this festal celebration.

 

SAINT PETER’S MEN’S GROUP

 

You may not be aware that every Monday evening at 5:00 P.M. we have a meeting down in the auditorium called “Saint Peter’s Men’s Group.” You will find it listed every week in the bulletin in the Activities section. This group has been meeting for many years and has played a great part in the lives of many men who have been coming together for support and assistance as they grow and mature. The primary reason for the group’s existence is for men who are dealing with some aspect of sexual addiction: it could be pornography, masturbation, marital infidelity, visiting adult book stores, seeking massage for something other than relief of sore muscles, feeling sexual temptations to be too much to handle, etc.

 

At a meeting you will find you are not alone in what you are dealing with; others have been struggling with the same problems. You will also find individuals who can testify that there is hope because they are now free of their subjection to addiction. There will also be persons who are willing to be your sponsor, and you will find all this done in an atmosphere of confidentiality, spirituality and Christian love of neighbor. We invite anyone to try this Men’s Group who wants to get better. That’s Mondays at 5:00 P.M. in the St. Clare Auditorium. Spending this hour a week could very well save your life and save your marriage.

 

A CHUCKLE FOR YOUR PLEASURE

 

After shopping for most of the day, a couple returns to find their car has been stolen. They go to the police station to make a full report. Then a detective drives them back to the parking lot to see if any evidence can be found at the scene of the crime.

 

To their amazement, the car has been returned. There is an envelope on the windshield with a note of apology and two tickets to a music concert. The note reads, “I apologize for taking your car, but my wife was having a baby, and I had to hot-wire your ignition to rush her to the hospital. Please forgive the inconvenience. Here are two tickets for tonight’s concert of Garth Brooks, the country-and-western music star.”

 

Their faith in humanity restored, the couple attend the concert and return home late. They find their house has been robbed. Valuable goods have been taken from throughout the house, from basement to attic. And there is a note on the door stating, “Well, you still have your car, but I have to put my newly-born baby through college somehow, don’t I?”