February 21, 2021

On Wednesday we were sprinkled with ashes and once again began the Season Lent walking with the Lord through his Passion, Death and Resurrection. This Lent we continue to face health and political challenges to so many of us throughout the world. But through the tremendous dedication of medical personnel, scientists, health care workers and those following safety guidelines new vaccines and protocols are helping lessen the danger of the COVID pandemic. Now as we begin this annual journey (Lent) with Jesus through his passion death and resurrection we are given this special time to also exam how each of us is living our Christian life. As we have had to do over the past year, we have had to adjust some of our usual ways of celebrating our faith life. But no matter how we celebrate the mysteries of our faith, what above all is important is to always keep before us the Baptismal call we have received to follow the Gospel way of Jesus.

The following are a few opportunities offered by St. Peter's to help you come closer to the Lord in this 2021 Lenten season.

1) Confessions Monday - Saturday are scheduled from 10:30am until 3:00pm.  If you haven't been to confession in some time.......don't worry....... you are always welcome to come and receive the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. Reservations are not required for confession.

2) Weekday Masses during Lent are Monday-Friday at 11:40am and 1:15pm. Please call and reserve a place at one of the Masses. Call 312-372-5111to reserve a space at one of the Masses.

3) We pray a special Stations of the Cross on the Fridays of Lent at 2:00pm. Due to COVID protocols and as with all services in the church you must reserve a place by calling 312-372-5111 to reserve a space for the Stations.

4) 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 Also available on the St. Peter's YouTube channel are recent talks presented by Mr. Gardis Watts, Jr., Fr. Abraham Joseph, OFM and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. Elsewhere in the bulletin you find other information about the Repair My House Program, Little Rock Scripture Study, and Spiritual Direction.

5) 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.

Here are a couple of my suggestions for books you might want to read during Lent. A Fresh Look at Confession by Fr. David Knight, St. Francis of Assisi by Omer Englebert, Thank God Ahead of Time; The Life and Spirituality of Bl. Solanus Casey, OFM, Cap.by Fr. Michael Crosby, OFM, Cap., The Hope of Glory by Jon Meacham, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and Abba Isn't Daddy, and Other Biblical Surprises by William Burton, OFM.

As we mentioned in last weekend's bulletin, 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]

The past three weekends throughout the Archdiocese, we have been talking about the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA). This year's theme "Come, follow me...and bring hope to the world," is most significant in this time of turmoil and pandemic. By sharing our 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 you may still  make a donation to the ACA online. It only takes a few simple steps and is secure. You can visit the website annualcatholicappeal.com to make your pledge online. All funds raised through the Annual Catholic Appeal helps support the ministry of the Church here in the Archdiocese. We here at St. Peter's also benefit from the generosity of gifts to the ACA.

In his Lenten Message for 2021 Pope Francis speaks of how important HOPE is to living our life in faithfulness to Christ. The following are a few excerpts from the Pope's Message. The entire Message is available on the Vatican web site. Pope Francis wrote:

 In these times of trouble, when everything seems fragile and uncertain, it may appear challenging to speak of hope. Yet Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for his creation which we have often mistreated (cf. Laudato Si’, 32-33; 43-44). Saint Paul urges us to place our hope in reconciliation: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor5:20). By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others. Having received forgiveness ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those experiencing sorrow and pain. God’s forgiveness, offered also through our words and actions, enables us to experience an Easter of fraternity.

 In Lent, may we be increasingly concerned with “speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn” (Fratelli Tutti, 223). In order to give hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, to be “willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference” (ibid., 224).

 Through recollection and silent prayer, hope is given to us as inspiration and interior light, illuminating the challenges and choices we face in our mission. Hence the need to pray (cf. Mt 6:6) and, in secret, to encounter the Father of tender love.

 To experience Lent in hope entails growing in the realization that, in Jesus Christ, we are witnesses of new times, in which God is “making all things new” (cf. Rev 21:1-6). It means receiving the hope of Christ, who gave his life on the cross and was raised by God on the third day, and always being “prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Pet 3:15).

May you have a hope-filled Lent this year!

Fr. Michael