As I write this article, forest fires are raging in thirteen states throughout the Western section of the United States and in several European countries as well. California is the state with the most destruction and the most media coverage, but it is far from the only flashpoint. This has been going on for weeks, with many firefighters attempting to get at least some of these fires mostly under control with little success. These men and women are working twenty-four hour shifts to the point of exhaustion. Already many structures have been destroyed, and we are fortunate that so far only several lives have been snuffed out.
In the midst of all this destruction, there are still some people who question whether climate change is real. There are various outrageous conspiracy theories bantered about to try to explain what is going on instead of climate change. One I heard recently was that the drought had nothing to do with the climate; rather, the fires were out of control because environmentalists have caused too much water to be channeled into the ocean and therefore the firefighters did not have enough water for their hoses. Interesting that I have not heard or read of any firefighters complaining that lack of water was a real problem.
While I am not a trained scientist, I have no doubt that climate change is real and that we have an imminent, serious danger of the earth and the atmosphere soon heating up to temperatures that will cause perilous conditions of all kinds. A very recent scientific study has concluded that the world is at risk of entering “hothouse” conditions where global average temperatures will be 4-5 degrees Celsius higher even if emissions reduction targets under a global climate deal are met. The report comes amid a heat wave that has pushed temperatures above 104F in Europe this summer, including blazes in Greece in July that killed 91 people.
Around 200 countries agreed in 2015 to limit temperature rise to “well below” (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, a threshold believed to be a tipping point for the climate. However, it is not clear whether the world’s climate can be safely “parked” near this agreed point or whether this might trigger other processes which drive further warming even if the world stops emitting greenhouse gases.
Scientists from several different countries said it is likely that if a critical threshold is crossed, several tipping points will lead to abrupt change. Such processes include permafrost thaw, the loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor, weaker land and ocean carbon sinks, the loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the reduction of Antarctic sea ice and polar ice sheets. Some places on earth will become uninhabitable if “Hothouse Earth” becomes the reality.
I cannot help but think of what Pope Francis has written in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home. Pope Francis argues in that letter that as creatures we all have a common responsibility to care for the earth since it has been given to us to protect, not to destroy. He says in so many words that we are to treat it respectfully since it is here on earth that we work out our salvation and prepare to live with the Creator for all eternity. We are to preserve the earth in all its beauty and worth so that generations that come after us are able to enjoy it and live in harmony with it. Here is how he describes what we have actually done and what we need to do to remedy the results:
This sister [Mother Earth] now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted
on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed
her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her
at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in
the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms
of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most
abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have
forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gn 2:7). Our very bodies are
made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from
her waters (#2).
The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the
whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we
know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes
his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work
together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank
all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which
we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the
tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the poorest. Young people
demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future
without thinking of the environmental crisis and the suffering of the excluded (#13).
Now is the time to act; now is the time to cooperate among ourselves to make a significant difference. Let’s not think about how little we can really do to effect change but rather to look to how much we can accomplish together. Time is short, but it is not too late to mobilize in concrete ways to save Mother Earth and to conserve what we have received as a blessing.
TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In life we face many important choices, and today’s readings illustrate some of them. In the Letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks about the foundational choice man and woman make when they commit themselves totally to each other: “and the two shall become one flesh.” In their self-sacrificing love for each other in marriage, we glimpse the depths of Christ’s self-sacrificing love for the Church.
The Book of Joshua presents the foundational choice the people of Israel face on entering the Promised Land: “Decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites?” Memories of God’s faithful love, mercy, and care influence their decision. “Therefore, we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” The people renew themselves to the covenant relationship with God.
At the conclusion to the Bread of Life discourse, Jesus asks his followers to make their foundational choice for or against him. So many were shocked by Jesus’ words and walked away when he identified himself as the “Bread that came down from heaven” and then went further by adding “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” So Jesus asked his own disciples if they too wished to leave. As usual, Peter replies on behalf of the others, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” As God committed himself to his people, Jesus committed himself to us, the new people of God, through his death and Resurrection. The self-sacrificing love in Christian Marriage witnesses to God’s love for us in Christ Jesus.
In today’s Gospel, Peter confesses his faith, saying, “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Peter knew of the anointing of prophets and kings and came to understand that Jesus was the Christ, “the anointed one” who is the Messiah. The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out in paragraph 438 that “Jesus’ messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, ‘for the name “Christ” implies “he who anointed,” “he who was anointed” and “the very anointing with which he was anointed.” The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing’ (St. Irenaeus). His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when ‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power,’ ‘that he might be revealed to Israel’ as its Messiah. His works and words will manifest him as ‘the Holy One of God’” (Mk 1:24).
The Lord continually invites his people to the banquet of everlasting life. As we see in today’s Gospel, not all can accept Christ’s ways, and some will refuse the invitation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1336, quotes from today’s Gospel as it notes how the Lord is always extending an invitation to the Eucharist: “Will you also go away?” The Lord’s question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has ‘the words of eternal life,’ and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.”
For Your Reflection: Do you ever ask yourself, “Whom do I serve? The gods of status and secular society, or the Lord?” What does it mean to love someone as Christ loves the Church? In what ways can you identify with the disciples who found Jesus’ ways too difficult?
- PETER’S GALA
Now that a month has gone by since our 4th Annual St. Peter’s Gala on July 19th, we want to report what all has happened during and after that great event. First of all, I want to thank Fr. Mario once again for his leadership and constant guidance. I cannot begin to tell you all the many ways that he has worked to make this Gala a grand success. The countless letters he has written, the phone calls he has made, the details he has taken care of, etc.—these and many more have guaranteed the success of the Gala. Secondly, my thanks go to the members of the Gala Planning Committee for all their hard work and shepherding over the past year. Had it not been for them, this event would never have happened. A special thank you goes to Mary Ellen Castroverde and the other faithful individuals who sat in the lobby of the church for hours and days at a time and sold tickets to the Gala.
Thirdly, once again our volunteers stepped up to make sure all was in place at the Union League Club and then to be present to ensure that everything went smoothly during the Silent and Live Auctions as well as for the Fund A Need portion of the evening. My sincere thanks to vendors, companies and individuals who donated money to help underwrite the cost of the dinner and drinks, but also to a number of individuals who offered items for the two auctions. Finally, I want to thank everyone who purchased tickets and who came to the Gala to enjoy the evening with us. We certainly enjoyed your presence, and you added so much to the atmosphere of the event.
I am happy to report that the Gala netted $145,000, all of which will go toward reducing the operating deficit for the current fiscal year. This amount is approximately $20,000 more than last year except for the fact that last year we received a very generous gift of $50,000 in addition several weeks after the Gala. Believe me when I say that the revenue from the Gala helps us in all kinds of ways to aid in our cash flow and to pay some of our regular monthly bills. Just last week here in the bulletin I outlined what it costs to keep St. Peter’s open and running on a day-to-day basis, and I feel sure that you noted our regular contributions just scratch the surface in addressing both the needs of the church and the needs of the friars. We very much depend on our Christmas and Easter Appeals, on the Gala, on monies received from wills and bequests that come our way during the year, and on people who surprise us with a special gift through the mail or brought to the front office.
I want to commend Carolyn Jarosz for all she has done for each of these four Galas. Carolyn has been a treasured member of the Gala Committee, but now she is about to move on to a new phase of her life in Peoria. Carolyn, thank you so much and know that you will continue in our prayers.
We invite you to make sure to put the date for our 5th Annual Gala into your appointment calendar—Thursday, July 18, 2019. We had given consideration to perhaps changing the venue next year, but after much thought and research we have decided to remain at the beautiful room in the Union League Club. We look forward to seeing you there next year. . Once again, our profound thanks, and God bless you all!
WELCOME, BRAZILIAN FRIARS
We now have two new Franciscans in our St. Peter Fraternity: Br. Erlison Campos de Almeida Filho, O.F.M. and Br. Vagner de Sena Ferreria, O.F.M. These two friars arrived on August 15 and will soon begin studies to learn English at DePaul University. Once they are proficient enough in English, they will begin theological studies at Catholic Theological Union for the next four years. These friars are from our Custody of Saint Benedict of the Amazon headquartered in Santarem, Brazil, which was begun by our Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart in 1943 and has flourished during the intervening years with many vocations. We are happy to welcome Brs. Erilson and Vagner as they begin these new Franciscan and ministerial dimensions of their lives. If you happen to see two friars whom you do not recognize, please stop and introduce yourself to welcome them as well.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
Two friends went out to play golf and were about to tee off, when one fellow noticed that his partner had but one golf ball.
“Don’t you have at least one other golf ball?” he asked. The other guy replied that no, he only needed the one. “Are you sure?” the friend persisted. “What happens if you lose that ball?”
The other guy replied, “This is a very special golf ball. I won’t lose it, so I don’t need another one.” “Well,” the friend asked, “what happens if you miss your shot and the ball goes into the lake?” “That’s okay,” he replied. “This special golf ball floats. I’ll be able to retrieve it.”
“Well, what happens if you hit it into the trees and it gets lost among the bushes and shrubs?” The other guy replied, “That’s okay too. You see, this special golf ball has a homing beacon. I’ll be able to get it back—no problem.”
Exasperated, the friend asked, “Okay. Let’s say our game goes late, the sun goes down, and you hit your ball into a sand trap. What are you going to do then?” “No problem,” said the other guy. “You see, this golf ball is fluorescent. I’ll be able to see it in the dark.”
Finally satisfied that he needed only the one golf ball, the friend asked, “Hey, where did you get a golf ball like that anyway?” The other guy replied. “I found it!”