August 19, 2018

8-19-18

 

By this time you no doubt have heard that Pope Francis earlier this month made a statement indicating that the teaching of the Church concerning the death penalty had been updated. He did so, building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment. Now the Catechism of the Catholic Church will state “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and he committed the Church to working toward its abolition worldwide.

 

The Catechism’s paragraph on capital punishment (#2267) already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life. In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) the Pope John Paul II recognized “the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.”

 

Pope Francis makes it clear that “today there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the human person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.”

 

The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, he has said, “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor.”

 

Cardinal Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, commenting on the Pope’s statement, made reference to a letter Pope Francis wrote in 2015 to the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, noted that the pope called capital punishment “cruel, inhumane and degrading” and said it “does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge.” Furthermore, in a modern “state of law, the death penalty represents a failure” because it obliges the state to kill in the name of justice. On the other hand, the pope wrote it is a method frequently used by “totalitarian regimes and fanatical groups” to do away with “political dissidents, minorities” and any other person deemed a threat to their power and to their goals.

 

In addition, Pope Francis noted that “human justice is imperfect” and the death penalty loses all legitimacy in penal systems where judicial error is possible.

 

No doubt this change will be considered controversial by many people throughout the world, and some will say that the Church has no business trying to eradicate the death penalty where it is the law of the land. In fact, 63 countries, including the United States, still allow it in some form. However, perhaps this new formulation, along with its rationale, may cause some legislators to rethink its use and to bring a new way of thinking about it into being. If so, it cannot be anything other than helpful and fruitful in the discussion about life and death issues.

 

TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

 

Proverbs opens the Liturgy of the Word with the image of Woman Wisdom calling us to share in her banquet. Begotten by God and helper at creation, Woman Wisdom promises to feed us with insight and knowledge. For Christians, her banquet foreshadows the gift of the Eucharist.

 

Today’s Gospel continues the Bread of Life discourse with some of the deepest theological and sacramental insights in the Gospel of John. With Jesus’ statement, “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world,” John connects the Incarnation with the events of salvation: “The Word became flesh” for the purpose of giving his life for the salvation of the world.

 

This is also a reminder of the words of the Institution of the Eucharist: “Then he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you’” (Luke 22:19). The connection between the Eucharist and Jesus’ death is further strengthened by the words “unless you drink his blood.” As Jesus is “the living water,” he is also the “living bread.” As the Sacrament of Baptism confers the life of God, the Sacrament of Eucharist nourishes this life. For John, the purpose of the Incarnation of the Word was more than becoming flesh to take on our human nature.

 

The Incarnation also embraced Jesus’ death and Resurrection—the Paschal Mystery—whose life-giving effects would nourish believers in the celebration of the Eucharist. Jesus’ words culminate by saying that “the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Unequivocally, Jesus tells us that in the Eucharist we share in the very life of God.

 

Jesus emphasizes in today’s Gospel that the food and drink he gives are real. Pope John Paul II writes in Ecclesia Eucharistia that the Body and Blood of Christ are not symbolic. The pope states, “When for the first time Jesus spoke of this food, his listeners were astonished and bewildered, which forced the Master to emphasize the objective truth of his words: ‘unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you.’ This is no metaphorical food: ‘My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed’” (#16).

 

Pope Paul VI began his encyclical on the Eucharist, Mysterium fidei, by noting that the Eucharist “stands at the heart and center of the liturgy” (#2) since it strengthens and cleanses us to live for God and to be united with each other. Quoting from today’s Gospel in his teaching on the Eucharist, the pope states: “At the Last Supper our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood. Those who participate in it through Holy Communion eat the flesh of Christ and drink the blood of Christ and thus receive grace, which is the beginning of eternal life, and the ‘medicine of immortality’ according to Our Lord’s last words: ‘The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood enjoys eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day’” (##4,5).

 

“The Father in heaven urges us to ask for the bread of heaven. Christ himself is the bread who furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2837, quoting St. Peter Chrysologus).

 

For Your Reflection: How does the Eucharist help you see what is eternal and forsake what is not? Could you begin to make it a habit to give thanks to God for everything, even difficulties? What difference does it make to you that God gives you eternal life through the Eucharist?

 

ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT – ST. PETER’S CHURCH

Fiscal Year 2017-2018

 

The Archdiocese of Chicago requires all pastors to publish in the bulletin a summary financial report at the end of each fiscal year. Even though such a report does not go into detail about individual receipts and expenses, it does give parishioners a good idea of where income has come from and where monies were spent.

 

Receipts:

 

Donations to Franciscans                               279,261

Parish Offertory Collections                          310,461

Christmas Appeal                                             50,000

Easter Appeal                                                    27,135

Donations by Mail                                          166,452

Wills and Estates                                            329,599

Gala Income                                                   174,583

 

Total Income                                               1,337,491

Beginning Cash                                                  8,921

Total                                                            1,346,412

 

Expenses:

 

Franciscan Stipends, Housing and Food        279,261

Lay Salaries                                                    222,326

Benefits for Lay Employees                           210,483

Utilities                                                           137,132                                                          

Maintenance and Repair                                231,175

Administration                                                 31,263

Altar and Liturgical                                          90,795

Insurance                                                          58,563

Archdiocesan Assessment                                57,875

Speakers and Education                                     7,729

                               

Total Expenses                                            1,326,603          

Ending Cash                                                     19,809

Total                                                            1,346,412

 

We want to thank everyone who has contributed in any way to make this past fiscal year possible. We absolutely depend on you to keep the doors open, the programs going, the friars fed and housed, and the liturgies alive and meaningful. You are the mainstay of our existence, and we appreciate your generosity and your continued support.

 

Please note in the figures above that our regular weekend and weekday collections only cover a small percentage of our expenses. Our Christmas and Easter Appeals, those who have remembered us in their wills, the many people from near and far who send us occasional donations through the mail, those who contribute monthly through the Friars Legion, and those who made the Gala a grand success —all these are sources without which we could not exist. If you have not yet remembered us in your will, please do so in a generous way so that those who come after you will benefit from what St. Peter’s has to offer for the Loop community and the thousands of visitors who come to our city yearly and join us for Mass and confession.

 

On the expense side, our main outlay is for the support of the friars and for the salaries, health insurance, retirement, and social security of our dedicated lay staff who contribute so much to making our ministry what it is. Our building is now sixty-five plus years old, so maintenance and repair is an ongoing issue (last year we had to spend over $250,000 doing extensive repair work on several of the compressors that run our air conditioning for the church and friary). We value the quality of our liturgical celebrations and make every effort to make them beautiful, sacred and timely. This also means that art and environment must be well done also.

 

We are required to pay all archdiocesan assessments like every other parish (a percentage of the ordinary income). However, St. Peter’s has never been subsidized by the archdiocese in any way. We will continue to do all we can to lower our expenses and to expand our income while maintaining the quality of our ministry in every way. In the meantime, I ask you to seriously consider increasing your regular contribution at the offertory (even a daily cup of coffee at Starbucks can run close to $5.00) to assist us in paying our bills and honoring all our commitments. Our estimated operating deficit each year runs about $500,000 and can only be made up by fund-raising efforts such as the Annual Gala and by people who have remembered St. Peter’s generously in their estate planning.

 

FAREWELL, CAROLYN JAROSZ

 

Carolyn Jarosz has been our Activities Director for the past ten years, and she has been a faithful and dedicated staff member of St. Peter’s all these years. We have relied upon her for many aspects of our ministry, often working behind the scenes to make sure that many of our events and activities go smoothly. She has worked with Fr. Bob Pawell and now with Fr. Derran Combs to ensure that our programs in the auditorium were publicized and ready at the appropriate time. She also put the bulletin together and shepherded each one to completion. Carolyn has decided that the time is right now for her to move on to something new. She is relocating to Peoria, Illinois, so she will be at St. Peter’s only until August 31. We thank her for all she has done and wish her well in her new endeavors. You might want to stop down to tell her goodbye and thank her sometime this week as she prepares to leave. God bless you, Carolyn.

 

A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE

 

A trucker came into a truck stop café and placed his order. He said, “I want three flat tires, a pair of headlights, and a pair of running boards.”

 

The brand-new waitress, not wanting to appear stupid, went to the kitchen and said to the cook, “This guy out there just ordered three flat tires, a pair of headlights, and a pair of running boards. What does he think this place is—an auto parts store?”

 

“No,” the cook said. “Three flat tires mean three pancakes, a pair of headlights is two eggs sunny side up, and a pair of running boards is two slices of crisp bacon.”

 

“Oh, OK!” said the waitress. She thought about it for a moment and then spooned up a bowl of beans and gave it to the customer.

 

The trucker asked, “What are the beans for?”

 

She replied, “I thought while you were waiting for the flat tires, headlights and running boards, you might as well gas up too!”