February 14, 2021

February 14 was for many years known as the feast of St. Valentine. Studies and scholarship of the last few decades have raised enough conflicting stories and uncertainties about the legend of St. Valentine that the Church removed the feast from the Calendar of Saints. However, the tradition of sending greeting cards of warm wishes, flowers to those whom we love and other expressions of care and devotion continue to be a noble and caring gesture towards others. So tell those whom you love of your care and concern for them today, February 14, in the spirit of Valentine’s day original meaning of caring for those whom we love. The Second Sunday of February is also World Marriage Day. To everyone who is married and those preparing for Marriage we ask God's special blessings upon you on this special day. We pray that you will always witness to love and God's presence in all that you do.

This weekend, is Presidents Day Weekend and a holiday for many people. As we remember our Presidents, let us especially reflect upon those presidents whose birthday we remember i.e. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. In the midst of recent and still on-going tensions about our National leadership it would be good to recall the ideals upon which our country was founded. If you haven’t read the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bills of Rights lately, then this weekend would be a perfect time to read again these most important documents for everyone who lives in our country. You can find copies in any public library, in local bookstores, on the internet and in many other places. As Catholics we are called to not only follow and live out the Gospel but also to be good citizens of the country. Now more than ever it is important that everyone who lives in this country participate in our democracy and not take our freedoms for granted

 LENTEN SEASON

It is hard to believe but Wednesday (Feb. 17) is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Season of Lent. As I have mentioned in the past couple of bulletins, this year our celebration of  Ash Wednesday and Lent will be different due to COVID protocols for the safety of everyone. Yet no matter how we celebrate Ash Wednesday, Lent and Holy Week this year of 2021 all of our prayers, rituals and services are all meant to remind us of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord.

Below you will find information of how we will celebrate Ash Wednesday here at St. Peter's following the directives of the Archdiocese and health protocols.

1) There is a very important change for Ash Wednesday this year..........Ashes will only be given at one of the Prayer Services or Masses on Ash Wednesday. The ashes will be distributed in the following manner as directed by the Sacred Congregation in Rome and Archdiocese Guidelines....

After blessing the ashes and sprinkling them with holy water in silence, the priest address those present, reciting once the formula found in the Roman Missal: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." The priest then puts on a face mask and a shield, sanitizes his hands and distributes ashes to those who come forward.

 The ashes are sprinkled on each person's head without saying anything.

2) Due to the danger of the coronavirus we must follow the safety protocols we have been using for Masses the past few months. We will offer a number of prayer services with the distribution of Ashes and three Masses on Ash Wednesday.

REMEMBER THAT YOU NEED TO REGISTER TO ATTEND AN ASH WEDNESDAY SCRIPTURE SERVICE OR A MASS THIS YEAR.

As we do for all Masses & Prayer Services you MUST call and register to attend one of the Ash Wednesday services or Mass. As there is a capacity limit on how many people can attend these services you must reserve a space this year. Please call 312-372-5111 to reserve a space at one of the Masses or Scripture Services on Ash Wednesday.

The Ash Wednesday times for Services and Masses will be found elsewhere in today's bulletin as well as on the bulletin insert, on the Madison Street sidewalk kiosk outside the front of church, on the church web site and Facebook page.

3) Confessions on Ash Wednesday are scheduled from 10:30am until 3:00pm. There will be two priests on duty for confessions on Ash Wednesday. The schedule for confessions during Lent is Monday - Saturday from 10:30am - 3:00pm. Reservations are not required for confession.

4) Weekday Masses during Lent are Monday-Friday at 11:40am and 1:15pm.

5) We will pray a special Stations of the Cross on the Fridays of Lent at 2:00pm. As with all services in the church you must reserve a place by calling 312-372-5111 to reserve a space for the Stations. The first Stations will be prayed on Friday, February 19 at 2pm.

6) Though we cannot offer in person programs you may participate in St. Peter's Lenten Programs as they are available on either Zoom or YouTube. Details on programs will be found elsewhere in today's bulletin or on St. Peter's web site at: www.stpetersloop.org

7) Our St. Peter's Gift & Bookstore has a number of books and pamphlets for the Season of Lent. They also stock a large number of spiritual books and DVD's on many of the saints, especially more recent saints. The staff of the bookstore are very knowledgeable about various aspect of our faith and can help you choose something for reflection during Lent if you are unsure what to purchase. Stop in and browse through the large selection of titles. The store is open Monday - Saturday from 10:30am - 2:30pm. And on Sundays it is open from 8:30am -12:15pm. Ash Wednesday the store has special hours and will be open from 8:00am -4:00pm.

Fr. Ed McKenzie, OFM a member of the staff of St. Peter's and a Vietnam Veteran is in the process of developing a non-denominational group of men and women Veterans, "who come together (at this time due to the COVID virus via e-mail, Zoom, etc.) to raise each other up and support one another, helping each other to move through the obstacles that life throws at folks like us." If you would like further information you may contact Fr. Ed at: [email protected]

We know that some of the ways we will have to journey through Lent and Holy Week this year will be different and perhaps difficult. But with faith in God let each of us resolve, in this season of contemplation on our Christian life, to do all we can to trust in God and be people of hope in the midst of the turmoil of our world and in the face of the COVID virus.

ANNUAL CATHOLIC APPEAL (ACA)

Last weekend, throughout the Archdiocese, was the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) Commitment Weekend. This year's theme is "Come, follow me...and bring hope to the world."  When we financially support the work of St. Peter's Church, the archdiocese and the Catholic Church throughout the world, we experience a feeling of deep gratitude, especially when we contemplate God’s many gifts to us personally. By sharing our wealth through gifts to the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal, we demonstrate our commitment to the Church and each other. Due to COVID protocols and the continuing need to provide safe guidelines at Masses the usual ACA collection in-pew procedures were not used this year. If you were not able to pick up a mail-in giving envelope at Masses last weekend, today you will find envelopes and a pamphlet in the back of the church or in the lobby.

Another alternate way to make your gift to the ACA is online. As letter I received from the Archdiocese indicated, “We highly encourage you to consider making your gift online this year." It only takes a few simple steps and is secure. You can visit the website annualcatholicappeal.com to make your pledge online. The ACA pamphlet, "Come, Follow Me... and bring hope to the world," further explains how funds raised through the Annual Catholic Appeal helps support the ministry of the Church here in the Archdiocese.

I thank all of you for your generosity in helping fund the Annual Catholic Appeal and for all of you who are so faithfully supporting St. Peter's Church through your generous donations and prayers. I especially say THANK YOU to our dedicated volunteers, readers and ushers who give so much of your time and talents to keep St. Peter's going. May God bless each and every one of you!

REMEMBER IN YOUR PRAYERS

Please remember in your prayers, Teresa Ortiz who worked Sunday's in our gift shop. Teresa died suddenly and her funeral was celebrated Monday, February 8. Last Thursday Mr. Robert Mosby (brother of Linda McCaskill who is on the church staff) died after a long illness. His funeral was Saturday, February 13. Julio Perez, an uncle of Frank Roman (on the church security team) died last Friday. Please remember these people and all those who have died recently, especially those who have died due to the COVID virus. May God welcome them to the peace of heaven and offer hope in the resurrection to all who mourn.

Enjoy Mardi Gras (Tuesday) and may you have a prayerful Lenten Season.

Fr. Michael