As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family this weekend, I encourage you to pray for all families. The families of our world and Church today are composed of a variety of people and circumstances. No matter what our definition of family, God calls each of us to love and reverence one another and all of life. As we pray in today's opening prayer at Mass, “O God….grant that we may imitate the Holy Family…in the bonds of charity…” As members of the Church we are called to create an environment where all people feel welcome to approach God. That is one of the blessings we can share here at St. Peter's Church…our openness and atmosphere of welcome to all people. Though the restrictions of the past months, due to the COVID virus have restricted our ability to welcome people, we still remain open offering Masses and confessions each day, though with a limited schedule. For over 165 years this church has provided a place for a diversity of families to worship God. May we continue that legacy now and into the future.
Today I offer you a few words to reflect upon as we come to the end of 2020 and prepare to welcome the New Year 2021. These excerpts come from our Northern neighbors, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in their Christmas Message to the people of Canada last year. In the midst of the struggles of the past months I believe their words of hope offer us much to reflect upon as we prepare to end this year of 2020 and begin the New Year of 2021. The bishops wrote:
Reconciliation is a much used word in our present-day culture, but we seldom ponder in our hearts what a treasure and mystery reconciliation really is. In the Christmas season, its meaning and implications are vividly concrete as the birth of Christ brings a new light and a saving grace to our capacity to be reconciled and be reconcilers in our daily life.
Reconciliation is both interior and exterior, personal and social - changing one's own heart and reaching out to others. The community of faith, to be a community of reconciliation, must provide encouragement for both internal reflection and external action. In order to take things to heart like Mary, who is the Mother and model of the Church, the community needs to be an authentic witness to reconciliation. It must connect and be concerned with the lives and experiences of people. Saint Paul reminds the Church and its members that theirs is the ministry of reconciliation. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:18,19, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."
Reconciliation, as an essential dimension to human dignity and human relationships, means reaching out to all who are in situations of division, exploitation, marginalization and rejection. For Canadians in the present day, the ministry and message of reconciliation in a specific way impacts on Indigenous realities, on questions relating to earth as our common home, and on the indignities done to human life and the human person.
Jesus was placed in a manger at birth, a sign of how throughout his mission and ministry the world did not know him, his own people did not accept him, and he had no place to lay his head. In the midst of all the division, exploitation, marginalization and rejection, the Word became flesh and lived among us. It is the lesson of Christmas. Jesus' birth brought great joy to the entire world. We all share in the excitement of knowing about this great event of reconciliation.
On Friday, January 1st we join the entire Church in celebrating Mary as the Holy Mother of God. We will celebrate the Vigil Mass on Thursday, December 31 at 5:00pm and Friday, January 1 at 10:00am. Please note if you plan to attend one of the New Year's Masses please call and reserve a place. In the midst of the busyness of our Christmas celebrations and activities, this Solemnity of the Church calls us to follow Mary’s example. In the light of the visit of the Shepherds and the fulfillment of so many prophecies regarding Jesus’ birth, “…Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) In our very noisy world of I-pods, TV programs, computer games, radios blaring and loud shouting, perhaps we might make Mary’s action of “reflection” a part of our daily life, especially in the midst of the pandemic affecting all of us.
Below you will find the 2020 Christmas Letter of Cardinal Cupich. The Cardinal makes note of the recent encyclical, Fratelli tutti of Pope Francis. If you have not read this new encyclical, I encourage you to read it. You will find a copy on the Vatican web site or if you wish to purchase a printed copy our Bookstore has copies available.
As we begin this New Year why not resolve to spend some quiet time with the Lord each day? May you have a Blessed New Year!
Office of the Archbishop
835 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Each one of us carries treasured memories of joyous Christmas celebrations. This year, the Christmas we are about to celebrate will be different. Because of the pandemic and the changes at work in our society, this season will no doubt have a more somber and restrained tone. And yet the very heart of our Christmas celebration does not change and, indeed, may be more important than ever.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus summons us to remember that the Word became flesh. In Jesus, God became one with us in all things but sin. In Jesus, God understands the joy and grief of our human condition from the inside. The great blessing of Christmas is Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us—the blessed assurance that God walks with us on our joyful and challenging life journey.
In his recent encyclical, Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis reminds us that we are all sisters and brothers to each other, ultimately linked together in Jesus Christ who is Son of God and Son of Mary. As brothers and sisters, let us hold each other in the mystery of the Word made flesh. Let us pray for each other. I will certainly remember you, and I ask you to remember me. And although this may be a different kind of Christmas, it may also be one of the most meaningful.
God bless you and your loved ones and keep you safe in his providential love.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Blase Cardinal Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago