August 6, 2017

FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD

Sunday, August 6, 2017

 

“And he was transfigured before them.” What awesome, mysterious words! Though unfamiliar to us, early Christians would have recognized the idea of transfiguration. In Jewish apocalyptic tradition, concerned with “revelations” about the end of time, the verb metamorphoo pointed to the miraculous change of form to be experienced by God’s faithful in the age to come after a time of intense earthly suffering. Although that verb is not used in the vision of the prophet Daniel, the scene he pictures bears some similarities to the Gospel scene: one “like a Son of Man” is given glory and kingship by God. The phrase “Son of Man”—in its most generic meaning, a human being—here refers to an exalted figure who comes in triumph at the end of time. The title is commonly used for Jesus in the Gospel accounts.

 

All three synoptic Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark and Luke) situate the event on a mountain. In biblical tradition, human beings usually encounter God on mountains. The Transfiguration account in Matthew (as in Mark) comes just after Jesus’ prediction of his Passion and his teaching that disciples must be prepared to follow the same way. It also follows Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, and so this majestic scene of Jesus in the presence of Moses and Elijah (who represent the Law and the Prophets), his face glowing, as did Moses’ face when he received the Commandments, reinforces Peter’s insight that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is transformed into a glory, or brilliant light, evoking the radiance of God. The transformation experienced at that moment was but a preview and perhaps a preparation for the glory that would be his when he rose from the dead.

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that it was after Peter confessed that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of the living God” that Jesus showed the Apostles the suffering he would face. Just prior to Jesus’ taking Peter, James and John to the mountain, he told his followers of the cost of discipleship: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Contrasting the suffering that was to come, at the Transfiguration the Apostles see Jesus’ dual nature. At the same time, the Transfiguration also confirms Peter’s confession (##554-556, 568).

 

For Your Reflection: When have you felt that the glory of God was revealed to you? Having experienced the glory of God, how did you return to your daily life and routines? How does our faith community help people see God’s glory?

 

FEAST OF ST. CLARE OF ASSISI

Friday, August 11, 2017

 

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 Clare 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 Friday, 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!

 

FRANCISCAN WEEK 2017

 

As we have done several times in the past, once again this year we are having a “Franciscan Week” in conjunction with the celebration of the Feast of Saint Clare, which occurs on Friday, August 11, 2017. We want to make the week of August 7-11 special and to give everyone who comes to St. Peter’s the opportunity to learn a bit more about Franciscan spirituality. Below you will see a short summary of what we are offering with the hope that you can plan to participate to the extent that you wish and are able. Each of these offerings will prove most worthwhile and deeply enriching.

 

On Monday, Fr. Gilberto Cavazos will give a presentation on an Introduction to the Life of St. Clare based on early sources.

 

On Tuesday and Thursday, Fr. Bob Hutmacher will speak about the manuscripts of the earliest hymns about Clare and how contemporary poets writing of Clare reveal how people perceived and honored her.

 

On Wednesday, we will have a communal anointing service in place of the Mass at 1:15.

 

On Friday, the Feast of St. Clare, we will have a Solemn Mass with choir at 11:40 and then Solemn Vespers at 5:40 in church.

 

The presentations on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday will be given in the Saint Clare Auditorium from approximately 12:10-12:50.

 

COMMUNAL ANOINTING OF THE SICK

 

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 9, 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 to ten 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 9, 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.

 

CONGRATULATIONS, JUBILARIANS

 

On Thursday, August 27, 2017, we celebrated the jubilees of seven of our friars who live and minister here at St. Peter’s. We want all of you to know about this event so that you might congratulate them and also pray for them, as combined they have dedicated a total of 400 years of consecrated life to the Church and to the Franciscan Order. Sixty-five years a Friar: Fr. Wenceslaus Church and Fr. Mario DiCicco; Sixty years a Friar: Br. Herb Rempe and Fr. Robert Karris; Fifty years a Friar: Fr. Kenneth Capalbo, and Fifty years a priest: Fr. James Hoffman and Fr. George Musial. May the Lord continue to bless them with a long life and with good health!

 

WELCOME, BR. GUILLERMO MORALES, O.F.M.

 

We are pleased to announce that Br. Guillermo Morales, O.F.M. has joined our Franciscan community and St. Peter’s ministry. Br. Guillermo was born in Chile and came to the United States in 2001, where he first studied English and then began his pursuit of a Franciscan vocation. He spent his novitiate in Burlington, Wisconsin, and his first two years of temporary profession in Hyde Park, Chicago, during which he gained a Master’s Degree in Spirituality from Catholic Theological Union and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the Claret Center. Before making his solemn vows, he spent a year at our spiritual center in Dittmer, Missouri. His last two years before coming back to Chicago were spent as the Coordinator of Spiritual Direction for Spanish speakers for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

 

At St. Peter’s he will be available for spiritual direction on the mezzanine either in Spanish or in English, and he will also assist in the Front Office. If you would like to speak to Br. Guillermo about spiritual direction, you may call the main office number at 312-372-5111, and the receptionist will connect you with him. Welcome, Br. Guillermo—we are glad that you are here.

 

A SUMMER CHUCKLE

 

A pastor’s wife was preparing pancakes for her young sons. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw an opportunity for a moral lesson. She said, “If Jesus were sitting here, he would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.’”

 

The oldest boy turned to his younger brother and said, “You be Jesus!”