February 4, 2018
Last Sunday we had an introduction to the Annual Catholic Appeal. You know that the Annual Catholic Appeal involves a request for our financial support to sustain the many good works of the Archdiocese and its many parishes. The Annual Appeal, however, is more than a request for financial support. Each year it offers us the opportunity to reconsider who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ gathered in his body, the Church. As we reflect on who we are, we must also consider how we live out our identity as followers of Jesus.
Our Scripture readings these days offer us two great images of Jesus: he is a great prophet who has arisen to bring God’s word to his people. He is also a compassionate healer of human brokenness. To see Jesus as prophet and healer also means seeing ourselves as prophets and healers. As Jesus’ disciples gathered in his body, the Church, we share in his life and in his mission. The head is never separated from the members of his body. If he is prophet and healer, so are we. And that mission entrusted to us to bring God’s word and healing to a world deeply in need is a great responsibility. In fact, it is the responsibility of our lives. It is a responsibility entrusted to us by the Lord himself.
How do we live out that responsibility to be God’s voice and God’s healing in the world? It begins in the closest zones of our lives—in our marriages and families, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our communities. And it fans out to the world at large. We bring a word of hope and encouragement that belongs not to us but as something that comes from God. We bring the healing of forgiveness and compassionate love that comes from the very mercy and love of God. We are truly entrusted with great responsibility.
With the launch of the Annual Catholic Appeal, we will enter more deeply into the mystery of the great responsibility entrusted to us. And, as a part of fulfilling that responsibility, we will be invited to participate in the Appeal. Hopefully each of us will come prepared this weekend to make a gift or a pledge toward the Appeal so that many of our brothers and sisters might have a better life, a deepening of their faith and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
This weekend we all have the opportunity to make our pledge or gift. Let us try to remember that we understand everything is a gift of God, and God has blessed us in so many countless ways. What we really are doing is returning to this gracious God and to others some of what we have received. Each pledge makes a difference because all parishes participate in the campaign, and the gifts of many enable our Archdiocese to deliver needed ministries and services. Our combined gifts not only signify our gratitude to God; they fund a significant portion of the work of our Archdiocese.
After our parish goal of $13,582.00 is reached in cash, 100% of any additional funds to the Annual Appeal come back to our parish to fund our needs. Every year for the past six years our generous people have contributed so well that each year we have received at least $20,000 from the Archdiocese because of surpassing our goal. Hopefully the same will be true this year as well.
FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Today’s first reading reminds us that we all experience difficulty in our lives; it is part of the human condition. Life can seem like “a drudgery,” filled with “months of misery and troubled nights.” But the Book of Job ultimately calls us to recognize that all we have comes from God and that our destiny is in God’s hands. We are called to hope in God’s goodness.
Paul tells the Corinthians that his mission of preaching the gospel is “an obligation imposed on me” by God. His task is to “win over as many as possible,” both Jews and gentiles, “those outside the law.” In this preaching he is helping to fulfill God’s will of saving as many as will accept the word, “so that I too may have a share in it.”
In the Gospel today, Jesus’ cure of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law serves to illustrate Jesus’ authority once again, an idea we encountered last week. Her response is to minister to Jesus and his disciples. Mark then tells us that when the Sabbath was over, “after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons,” and Jesus continues to exercise his authority by healing them. Jesus does not allow the demons “to speak because they knew him.” This silencing is another example of Jesus’ power, which is superior to that of the demons. We will encounter this theme frequently in Mark’s text.
For Your Reflection: When have I empathized with Job? How did I get through the suffering? Like Peter’s mother-in-law, God has blessed me in many ways. What has been my response? Have I truly tried to be there with others, especially when they have been troubled, ill or lonely?
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE SICK
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
Friday, February 9, 2018
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal, “O Mary, conceived without sin.”
During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was “something white in the shape of a girl.” She used the word aquero, a dialect term meaning “this thing.” It was “a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm.” Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address (tu), but the polite form (vous). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity.
Through that humble girl, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. In 1862 Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes for the diocese. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.
Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and healing, but even more of faith. Church authorities have recognized over 60 miraculous cures, although there have probably been many more. To people of faith this is not surprising. It is a continuation of Jesus’ healing miracles—now performed at the intercession of his mother. Some would say that the greater miracles are hidden. Many who visit Lourdes return home with renewed faith and a readiness to serve God in their needy brothers and sisters. There still may be people who doubt the apparitions of Lourdes. Perhaps the best that can be said to them are the words that introduce the film, The Song of Bernadette: “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”
“Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman, Blessed by the Most High! Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era, we join in your song of praise, to celebrate the Lord’s mercy, to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom and the full liberation of humanity.
“Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord, Glorious Mother of Christ! Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word, Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word, and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit, attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience and to his manifestations in the events of history.
“Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows, Mother of the living! Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve, Be our guide along the paths of the world. Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ, to stand with you before the innumerable crosses on which your Son is still crucified.
“Hail Mary, Woman of faith, First of the disciples! Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always to account for the hope that is in us, with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love. Teach us to build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.
“Holy Mary, Mother of believers, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. AMEN.”
Prayer of Pope John Paul II at his visit to Lourdes, August 15, 2004.
Here at St. Peter’s we will observe the World Day of Prayer for the Sick by celebrating a Communal Anointing of the Sick during the 1:15 P.M. Mass on Friday, February 9. This year we are anticipating the feast by moving the anointing up two days. Anyone who is 62 years of age or older, who has a chronic illness problem, who will be undergoing serious tests or surgery in the near future, or who suffers a mental, emotional or psychological difficulty is welcome to receive this sacrament.
If you wish to receive the sacrament, we ask that you arrive at church five to ten minutes early if possible so that the ushers can assist you in finding a designated place. In order to facilitate the priests coming through the church to lay on hands and later to anoint you, we will have every other pew open for the priests to move easily about. After the priest anoints your forehead, please answer AMEN, and then after your palms have been anointed, also answer AMEN. We would anticipate that the Mass along with the anointing will last about an hour. We hope that many people will be able to participate in this wonderful gift of healing that Jesus has given us in the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
Now is the time to make your plans for Ash Wednesday for how you are going to take advantage of participating in Mass, going to confession and receiving your ashes on Ash Wednesday, which is February 14. Here at St. Peter’s we will be celebrating twelve Masses beginning at 6:00 A.M. and ending at 6:00 P.M. Confessions will begin at 7:00 A.M. and continue uninterruptedly until 6:00 P.M. Ashes will be given in the auditorium on the lower level beginning at 6:00 A.M. and finishing at 7:00 P.M. The Gift Shop will be open from 6:00 A.M.-7:00 P.M. For further information and for the complete Mass schedule, please go to our website www.stpetersintheloop.org.
ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
One of the marvelous gifts we have in the Catholic Church is the fact that we always have the presence of the Lord in our churches due to the reservation of the Body of Christ reserved in the tabernacle. But that presence is even more manifest when the Consecrated Host is placed in the monstrance and then publicly displayed for the veneration of the faithful in what we call the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Here at St. Peter’s we have the opportunity to visit Our Lord in this special way every Monday-Friday for the three hours between 1:45 and 4:45 in the afternoon. I hope you try to take advantage of this devotion at least once or twice a week. You need not stay for a longer period of time; even a short visit allows you to focus, to thank the Lord for blessings received, to acknowledge that you owe everything to His goodness and love, and to praise Him for all he has done and continues to do for you. It also gives you a bit of quiet time to just be in His presence and to give Him a chance to speak with you as He sees fit.
SAINT PETER’S MEN’S GROUP
You may not be aware that every Monday evening at 5:00 P.M. we have a meeting down in the auditorium called “Saint Peter’s Men’s Group.” You will find it listed every week in the bulletin in the Activities section. This group has been meeting for many years and has played a great part in the lives of many men who have been coming together for support and assistance as they grow and mature. The primary reason for the group’s existence is for men who are dealing with some aspect of sexual addiction: it could be pornography, masturbation, marital infidelity, visiting adult book stores, seeking massage for something other than relief of sore muscles, feeling sexual temptations to be too much to handle, etc.
At a meeting you will find you are not alone in what you are dealing with; others have been struggling with the same problems. You will also find individuals who can testify that there is hope because they are now free of their subjection to addiction. There will also be persons who are willing to be your sponsor, and you will find all this done in an atmosphere of confidentiality, spirituality and Christian love of neighbor. We invite anyone to try this Men’s Group who wants to get better. That’s Mondays at 5:00 P.M. in the St. Clare Auditorium. Spending this hour a week could very well save your life and save your marriage.
A CHUCKLE FOR YOUR PLEASURE
Kids have a greater need for speed than classroom computers can deliver.
Impatient to turn in his term paper, one restless student kept clicking the “Print” command.
The printer started to churn out copy after copy of the student’s ten-page report.
The topic? “Save Our Trees!”