December 11, 2016

12-11-16

 

The Roman Church has been singing the “O” Antiphons since at least the eighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative “Come!” embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah. You might want to use these daily antiphons for meditation during these final days before the feast of Christmas.

 

December 17:

O Wisdom of our God Most High,

Guiding creation with power and love:

Come to teach us the path of knowledge!

 

December 18:

O Leader of the House of Israel,

Giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:

Come to rescue us with your mighty power!

 

December 19:

O Root of Jesse’s stem,

Sign of God’s love for all his people:

Come to save us without delay!

 

December 20:

O Key of David,

Opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:

Come and free the prisoners of darkness!

 

December 21:

O Radiant Dawn,

Splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:

Come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death!

 

December 22:

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:

Come and save humankind, whom you formed from the dust!

 

December 23:

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:

Come and save us, Lord our God!

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

 

In the First Reading, the prophet Isaiah proclaims God’s coming to save Israel. Isaiah paints a picture of a dry and barren desert coming to life and a prairieland blossoming with flowers. What a joyful song nature sings for us in the prophet’s vision! But there is more—when God comes, God will give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and mobility to the immobile. Those separated from God will be returned. On this Gaudete Sunday, this Sunday of joy that marks the midpoint of our Advent journey, we rejoice, for we believe in the salvation God brings to us in his Son.

 

Together with the psalmist in Psalm 146, we proclaim in joy all the Lord does for his people. The Lord has sustained us in the past and will continue to do so. The psalm refrain is an adaptation of Isaiah 35:4, a verse taken from the First Reading, in which we plead for the Lord to come and save us. This presents a longing within us so that we not only think of the past but also relate the words to our situation today.

 

On this Third Sunday of Advent, we turn from Paul’s Letter to the Romans to the Letter of Saint James. How necessary it is to hear James’ words calling us to patience in our world that upholds the values of immediacy and instantaneousness.  James describes the farmer who patiently waits for the earth to bring forth beautiful fruit. The Lord’s coming is at hand. But, as the adage says, “Patience is a virtue.” Hearts set firm on the Lord make for patient hearts.

 

Already by today’s reading in Matthew, Jesus had called disciples, preached the Sermon on the Mount, performed many healings, and sent the Twelve out on mission. While in prison, John the Baptist hears of Jesus’ works and sends his disciples to seek confirmation that Jesus is indeed the “one who is to come.” Jesus’ response to John’s disciples comes from the prophetic words of Isaiah, some of which are found in the First Reading. As John’s disciples take leave of Jesus, he announces to the crowds John’s greatness as the messenger of the Messiah and his Kingdom. Yet those who reside in the Kingdom possess a greatness John does not know at this point.

 

On Gaudete Sunday, the prayers express the joys of the great salvation we hope to receive. They also focus us on the nearness of the “feast of the Lord’s Nativity” and the “coming feasts” for which we prepare. Halfway through Advent, we can already sense the celebration of the feasts of the Lord during the Christmas season to which this holy season leads: the Nativity, Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord.

 

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

Monday, December 12, 2016

 

On Monday of this week we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. It celebrates the appearance of the Blessed Virgin to now St. Juan Diego, who was asked to go to the bishop and ask that a church be built where she had appeared. When the bishop asked for proof or a sign, Our Lady told Juan Diego to pick some roses from the spot where ordinarily none would have been in blossom at that time of the year. When Juan Diego opened his cloak before the bishop, the roses fell out, but on the cloak was now a beautiful image of the Lady, which we have come to know as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

 

The main celebration of the feast will take place at the 12:15 Mass. That Mass will be bi-lingual (Spanish and English). Fr. Juan Carlos will be the celebrant, Fr. Tom Ess preaching the homily, and Fr. Ed Shea leading the singing as cantor. There will be special music selected for this Mass. Afterwards people are invited downstairs for refreshments and fellowship. We hope many people will be able to come and celebrate with us for the feast.

 

ADVENT COMMUNAL PENANCE SERVICE

 

You are invited to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation with us on Thursday, December 15, at 12:15. This will be our Advent Communal Penance Service as a lead-up to Christmas and will take the place of the regular 12:15 Mass on that day. The service will consist of hymns, Scripture, homily, intercessions, an examination of conscience, then face-to-face confession with c. 12 confessors available. Depending on the number of penitents, the service will probably last approximately forty-five minutes. Celebrating the sacrament in this fashion emphasizes that we are all sinners in need of God’s mercy and allows us to pray for one another as each confesses his/her sins. We hope you will be able to join us Thursday at 12:15.

 

A Reminder: There will be additional confessors throughout the day beginning on Friday, December 16, and continuing on weekdays through December 23. Please do not wait until the last minute to make your pre-Christmas confession and perhaps then find there is no time. Take advantage of these extra confession opportunities so that you will be totally prepared to celebrate the Feast of Christmas spiritually once again this year.

 

THE ANNUAL POSADA

 

St. Peter’s will once again host the final stage of the annual Loop Posada on Friday, December 16. The group march will begin at 7:00 A.M. and will arrive here c. 8:45, when they will knock on the front door and ask for food and shelter, something they were refused along the way. We will welcome them as they express their gratitude for our hospitality and then proceed down to the lower level where there will be food, drink, singing and prayer. The march always reminds us of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem, but it also these days reminds us of the plight of so many immigrants who are fleeing war-torn areas for a place of refuge and hope. Let us remember them all as various posadas are celebrated around the city and open our hearts to their suffering and their need for a safe place for themselves and their families.

 

RETIREMENT FUND FOR RELIGIOUS

 

As we announced last week in the bulletin, the annual appeal for retired religious will be taken up this weekend. Many of us were educated by religious brothers and sisters both in elementary and in secondary schools, and no doubt, if we are honest, we owe them a sincere debt of gratitude for the interest they showed us and for the education they provided, oftentimes with very small stipends given for their efforts and for their benefit. Because of this past situation, many religious communities now have a difficult time financing the costs of assisting their senior members who need either assisted living or full nursing care. This second collection is designed to help communities in this regard.

 

Please read the following letter from Archbishop—now Cardinal—Blasé Cupich as he writes to us about this important need in our Church:

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

 

Reflecting on the fruits of the Year of Mercy, many of us can recall the example of thousands of now elderly women and men religious who, for so many, were a living sign of God’s mercy. These women and men—Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious Order priests—were indeed the hands of Christ as they educated the young, cared for the sick, and ministered to the neediest among us. Through their service, sacrifice and witness, they modeled the compassionate love of Jesus and showed us that we, too, could be instruments of peace and mercy.

 

Today, many senior religious continue to be vessels of mercy, serving in a wide range of volunteer and prayer ministries. Others are frail and need assistance. Most older religious ministered for small stipends, leaving a substantial gap in retirement savings. With the ever-rising cost of health care and the increased number of those needing care, many religious communities struggle to provide for aging members.

 

This weekend, December 10-11, your parish will be conducting its appeal for the Retirement Fund for Religious, an annual collection that benefits nearly 33,000 senior sisters, brothers, and religious Order priests. Your gift provides vital support for medications, nursing care, and more. It also helps religious communities implement long-term retirement strategies that ensure both quality eldercare and continued service to the People of God.

 

The people of the Archdiocese of Chicago have always led the nation in their generous response to this appeal. As not only a matter of justice to care for their needs, but also in thanksgiving for the lessons of mercy senior religious have shared with us, please join me in supporting the Retirement Fund for Religious. With every good wish, I remain,

 

                                                                                                Sincerely yours in Christ

 

                                                                                                Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich

                                                                                                Archbishop of Chicago

 

CATHOLIC CONFEREENCE OF ILLINOIS

 

The Illinois House may soon vote to approve taxpayer-funded abortions. House Bill 4013 does the following:

 

--Removes the ban on state workers’ health insurance from paying for elective abortions.

--Removes the ban on using public money to pay for elective abortions for Medicaid patients.

--Allows taxpayer money to fund grants to organizations that refer, counsel for, and perform abortions.

 

Call your state representative to urge him/her to vote “NO” on HB 4013. To find your state representative, go to www.ilcatholic.org or call the Catholic Conference of Illinois at 312-368-1066 or 217-528-9200.

 

A CHUCKLE FOR ADVENT

 

A woman was getting swamped with calls from strangers. A billing service had launched an 800 number that was identical to hers.

 

When she called to complain, she was told to get a new number. “I’ve had mine for twenty years,” she pleaded. “Couldn’t you change yours?”

 

The company refused, so she said, “Fine. From now on, I’m going to tell everyone who calls that their bill is paid in full.”

 

The company got a new number the next day!