NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Mount Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai, the Mountain of God. Elijah’s experience of the presence of God on this mountain recalls Moses’ encounter with God in the same place. But they are very different experiences. While Moses’ meetings with God involve storms, earthquakes and fire, Elijah experiences the Lord “in a tiny, whispering sound.” Elijah’s experience teaches us that sometimes God’s self-manifestation is not what we would expect.
Paul tells the Romans that the Jews, “my kindred according to the flesh,” are the recipients of God’s continuing grace. “From them, according to the flesh, is the Christ.” God’s promise to Abraham—that God would bless the nations through Abraham’s descendants—is realized in Jesus.
Matthew’s telling of Jesus walking on water has the added episode of Peter attempting to walk on water. This is unique to Matthew, who emphasizes the role of Peter in his Gospel. Jesus walking on water serves as a theophany, revealing his identity as God. Matthew tells us that after Jesus got into the boat and the sea calmed down, the disciples “did him homage, saying, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’” The fact that some of the disciples were fishermen and even they were frightened by the storm heightens the storm’s intensity, which in turn heightens the sense of Jesus’ power. But the episode of Peter walking on water adds another dimension to the story: the importance of faith. Peter begins to walk on the sea, but then, becoming frightened, he starts to sink. Jesus calls him “you of little faith,” and asks why he doubted. In this text God is revealed not in the wind and sea but as the one who, more powerful than the forces of nature, can save us.
For Reflection: Is my experience of God more like that of Moses or Elijah? When has God enabled me to walk on water? Do I realize that God is often at my side to calm the storms that come my way?
THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY
A Holyday of Obligation
Friday, August 15, 2014
The feast of the Assumption celebrates our belief that Mary “was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #966, quoting Lumen Gentium #59). This unprecedented act by God anticipates “the resurrection of all members of Christ’s body.”
In our readings today, we encounter Mary as an expectant mother visiting Elizabeth and sharing with her the joy of motherhood. Tradition locates the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth several miles outside of Jerusalem. This means that Mary’s journey from Nazareth in Galilee to Judea would have taken about three days. There is a heightened sense of joy in Luke’s description of the meeting of the mothers. Even John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb in response to Mary’s greeting and the presence of the Messiah.
The text in Revelation presents an image that has been applied to Mary over the centuries: “a woman clothed with the sun” and who “was with child.” The mother and child are both threatened by a “huge red dragon.” But the child is “caught up to God,” while the mother “fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God.” Ultimately the dragon is defeated by the child and his supporters.
In Corinthians, Paul speaks of Christ as the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Christ’s resurrection is not intended to be unique; it is a foreshadowing of our own resurrection at the end of time. The Bible tells us that death is a result of sin. But “just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.” Mary’s assumption, an anticipation of our own resurrection, is on account of her life lived without sin. Not having sinned, she does not face the consequence of sin and so shares in the resurrected life immediately.
For Reflection: Does Mary’s assumption give me reason to hope? What is my understanding of the “resurrection of the body”? Does the fact that we are required to participate in the Eucharist on this holyday actually make me more aware of my calling to be a disciple and to live as one to the best of my ability in preparation for my own resurrection?
Masses at St. Peter’s for this Holyday of Obligation of the Assumption will be celebrated on Thursday at 5:00 P.M. (Vigil) and on Friday at 6:00, 6:45, 7:30, 8:15, 9:00, 10:00 11:15, 12:15 (choir), 1:15, 4:30, 5:15 and 6:00. Confessions will be heard only from 2:00-5:00 in the afternoon. There will be no mezzanine office hours.
ST. CLARE OF ASSISI
Clare of Assisi was born on July 16, 1194, and died on August 11, 1253. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious Order for women in the Franciscan tradition and wrote their Rule of Life—the first monastic Rule known to have been written by a woman. Following her death, the Order she founded was renamed in her honor as the Order of St. Clare, commonly referred to today as the Poor Clares.
Clare was born in Assisi, Italy, the eldest daughter of the wealthy Favorino Scifi and his wife Ortolana. Ortolana was a very devout woman who had undertaken pilgrimages to Rome, Santiago de Compostela, and the Holy Land. Clare was always devoted to prayer as a child. When she turned fifteen, her parents, especially her father, wanted her to marry a young and wealthy man, but she originally wanted to wait until she was eighteen. But by the time she turned eighteen, she had heard another citizen of Assisi preaching about Jesus Christ and going about rebuilding churches, i.e., Francis Bernardone. His preaching was beginning to change her life. He told her she was a chosen soul from God.
Soon on Palm Sunday, when people went to receive their palm branches, she stayed in her place, and the bishop came down to her with her palm. On that very night she ran away to go to follow Francis. When she arrived, he cut her hair and dressed her in a brown tunic and a veil, with a cord around her waist similar to the one he wore. Clare was at first housed with the Benedictine nuns near Bastia and was almost pulled away by her father, for he truly wanted her to marry. Clare and her sister Agnes soon moved to the church of San Damiano which Francis himself had rebuilt. Other women joined them there, and San Damiano became known for its radically austere lifestyle.
San Damiano became the focal point for Clare’s new religious Order, which was known in her lifetime as the Order of San Damiano. San Damiano was long thought to be the first house of the Order, but recent scholarship strongly suggests that San Damiano actually joined an existing network of women’s religious houses organized by Cardinal Hugolino, who later became Pope Gregory IX. Hugolino wanted San Damiano as part of the Order he founded because of the prestige of Clare’s monastery. San Damiano emerged as the most important house in the Order, and Clare became its undisputed leader.
Unlike the Franciscan friars whose members moved around the country to preach, St. Clare’s sisters lived in enclosure since an itinerant life was hardly conceivable at that time for women. The life of the Ladies consisted of manual labor and prayer. They wore no shoes, had poor clothing, ate no meat and lived basically on what the townspeople gave them. Because of the holiness of their lives, the people of Assisi admired them and wanted them to have all the necessities they needed in order to both survive and thrive.
For a short period of time, the Order was directed by Francis himself. Then in 1216, Clare accepted the role of abbess of San Damiano. As abbess, Clare had more authority to lead the Order than when she was the prioress, who had to follow the orders of a priest heading the community. Clare defended her Order from the attempts of prelates to impose a Rule on them that more closely resembled the Rule of Saint Benedict rather than Francis’ stricter vows. Clare sought to imitate Francis’ virtues and way of life so much so that she was sometimes titled “Another Francis.” She also played a significant role in encouraging and aiding Francis, whom she saw as a spiritual father figure, and she took care of him during his illnesses at the end of his life, until his death in 1226.
After Francis’ death, Clare continued to promote the growth of her Order, writing letters to abbesses in other parts of Europe and thwarting every attempt by each successive pope to impose a Rule on her Order which would water down the radical commitment to corporate poverty she had originally embraced. She did this despite the fact that she endured a long period of poor health until her death. Clare’s Franciscan theology of joyous poverty in imitation of Christ is evident in the Rule she wrote for her community and in her four letters to Agnes of Prague.
On September 17, 1228, the pope sent her letters because she had filled him with admiration. On August 9, 1253, Pope Innocent IV confirmed that Clare’s Rule would serve as the governing Rule for the entire Order. Two days later, Clare died at the age of 59. Her remains were interred at the chapel of San Giorgio while a church to hold her remains was being constructed. On August 15, 1255, Pope Alexander IV canonized Clare as Saint Clare of Assisi. Construction of the Basilica of Saint Clare was completed in 1260, and on October 3rd of that year Clare’s remains were transferred to the basilica where they are buried beneath the high altar. Some 600 years later—in 1872—Saint Clare’s remains were transferred to a newly constructed shrine in the crypt of the basilica, where they can still be seen today.
Pope Pius XII designated her the patron saint of television in 1958, on the basis that when she was too ill to attend Mass, she had reportedly been able to see and hear it on the wall of her room. In art, Clare is often shown carrying a monstrance or pyx in commemoration of the time when she held off the soldiers of Frederick II at the gates of her convent by displaying the Blessed Sacrament and kneeling in prayer.
Here at St. Peter’s we will celebrate the Feast of Clare on Monday, August 11, with a Solemn Mass at 11:40 A.M. We hope many people will be able to join us on this festive occasion. Please note that, because of the length of this celebration, there will not be a Mass beginning at 12:15 on this day.
We also invite everyone to join us for Solemn Vespers on this feast of St. Clare. Vespers will begin at 5:40 P.M.—shortly after the conclusion of the 5:00 Mass—and will last approximately a half hour. What a magnificent way to end the day on this great feast!
COMMUNAL ANOINTING MASS
Here at St. Peter’s we have a tradition of celebrating the sacrament of the sick in a communal way twice a year: around the feast of St. Clare and on the World Day of Prayer for the Sick (February 11). We will therefore celebrate the sacrament of the sick on Wednesday, August 13, within the context of the Eucharist at the 1:15 Mass. Anyone who is about to have a surgery, who is undergoing serious tests with a physician, who suffers from a chronic disease such as diabetes, difficulty breathing, undergoing cancer treatments, or who is over the age of 62 is invited to receive the sacrament during this Mass.
We ask that those who wish to receive the sacrament be present at least five minutes before the beginning of Mass so that you can be properly seated throughout the church in order to allow the priests to come easily for the laying on of hands and for the anointing with the oil of the sick, both of which will take place after the homily. We look forward to seeing many of you here on Wednesday, August 13, at the 1:15 Mass. You might want to alert some of your friends and co-workers of this wonderful opportunity to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick since it brings the healing power of Christ to us in this special way.
GOLDEN WEDDING ANNIVERSARY MASS
If you were married in 1964, this year you are celebrating your Golden Wedding Anniversary. You are invited to participate in a Golden Wedding Anniversary Mass at Holy Name Cathedral on Sunday, September 14, 2014, at 2:45 P.M. This Mass is an annual celebration for those fifty years married throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago.
To register, please call the Marriage and Family Ministries Office at 312-534-8351 or register online at www.family ministries.org.
YEAR OF THE SACRAMENTS
One Word at a Time
The sacraments mark us. Somehow, they make us different and never leave us the same as we were. Certain sacraments—Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders—mark and shape our identity forever. We receive these sacraments only once, and that is once and forever. They impart what is called a “sacramental character” marking us off as belonging to Jesus Christ in Baptism, sealed by the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, and conformed to Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church, in Holy Orders.
The other sacraments mark us on our ongoing journey of Christian discipleship as sustained by the sacrifice of Jesus and our union with him (Eucharist), as forgiven sinners (Penance), as healed (Anointing of the Sick) and as effective signs of God’s love and life-giving power in the world (Matrimony).
Whether clearly obvious or subtly present, whether intensely felt or quietly present, the sacraments do mark us as disciples of Jesus Christ. And we are enriched.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
Bill, Jim and Scott were at a convention together and were sharing a large suite on the top of a 75-story skyscraper. After a long day of meetings, they were shocked to hear that the elevators in their hotel were broken and they would have to climb 75 flights of stairs to get to their room. Bill said to Jim and Scott, “Let’s break the monotony of this unpleasant task by concentrating on something interesting. I’ll tell jokes for the first 25 flights, then Jim can sing songs for the next 25 flights, and Scott can tell sad stories the rest of the way.” At the 26th floor Bill stopped telling jokes and Jim began to sing. At the 51st floor Jim stopped singing, and it was Scott’s turn to begin to tell sad stories. “I will tell my saddest story first,” he said. “I left the room key in the car!”