Last Wednesday, February 3 was the feast of St. Blase, Bishop & Martyr of the 4th century. Because many were not able to attend Mass on his feast, today, Sunday February 7, we will have the annual Blessing of St. Blase for diseases of the throat and other illness after the Masses. The formula that will be used this year is the prayer of blessing for everyone gathered in church. There will NOT be individual blessings this year. The blessing will be given at the conclusion of Mass.
It is hard to believe but Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent will soon be here. As I have mentioned in the past couple of bulletins, how we celebrate 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 some very specific description of how we will celebrate Ash Wednesday here at St. Peter's following the directives of the Archdiocese and health protocols.
1) Please note this 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.
PLEASE NOTE: 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 and 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.
6) Lenten Programs are available on either Zoom or YouTube. Details on programs will be found in the bulletin or on St. Peter's web site at: www.stpetersloop.org
Last year in his message for Lent 2020 Pope Francis shared some of his observations of the Lenten season. As we prepare to begin Lent 2021, I offer for your Lenten contemplation a few of his reflections below:
"In Lent, I would like to share with every Christian what I wrote to young people in the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit: “Keep your eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved over and over again. And when you go to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy which frees you of your guilt. Contemplate his blood poured out with such great love, and let yourself be cleansed by it. In this way, you can be reborn ever anew.” Jesus’ Pasch is not a past event; rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit it is ever present, enabling us to see and touch with faith the flesh of Christ in those who suffer."
"It is good to contemplate more deeply the paschal mystery through which God’s mercy has been bestowed upon us. Indeed, the experience of mercy is only possible in a “face to face” relationship with the crucified and risen Lord “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20), in a heartfelt dialogue between friends. That is why prayer is so important in Lent. Even more than a duty, prayer is an expression of our need to respond to God’s love which always precedes and sustains us. Christians pray in the knowledge that, although unworthy, we are still loved. Prayer can take any number of different forms, but what truly matters in God’s eyes is that it penetrates deep within us and chips away at our hardness of heart, in order to convert us ever more fully to God and to his will." (Pope Francis Lent 2020)
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.
Chuc Mung Nam Moi (Happy New Year!) Friday, February 12 is the Lunar New Year. For many people throughout the world this a very important day to celebrate the New Year, to come together as a family and to honor deceased relatives and friends. In Vietnam it is called TET and this year is celebrated Feb. 11-13. The Franciscans in Vietnam will celebrate a special Mass on February 12 for the people and celebrate with their families. Let us all pray for peace and understanding among all people of the world. And let us pray that Catholics throughout the world will be able to worship in freedom and without danger or persecution.
ANNUAL CATHOLIC APPEAL (ACA)
This weekend, throughout the Archdiocese, is the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) Commitment Weekend. This year's theme is "Come, follow me...and bring hope to the world." Many Catholics, throughout the Archdiocese, have already received the Annual Catholic Appeal mailing from Cardinal Cupich.
The Annual Catholic Appeal offers a wonderful opportunity to answer Jesus’ call to “Come, follow me ... and bring hope to the world.” This is especially important during these trying and challenging times. Many in our parishes are affected financially by the pandemic, and we encourage giving at all levels to support this initiative. In addition to providing for ministries and services throughout the archdiocese, the Annual Catholic Appeal funds services in our own area.
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 will not be used this year. As a directive I received recently stated, “This year’s appeal is slightly different from other years because we are not collecting in-pew pledge forms." 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 the note 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.
PLEASE REMEMBER IN YOUR PRAYERS
Br. Leo Geurts, OFM (a member of the church staff) is continuing his rehab after surgery. Fr. Elric Sampson, OFM and Fr. George Musial, OFM recently moved to care facilities due to declining health. Both Fr. Elric and Fr. George spent many hours in offering compassionate words and God's mercy to penitents though the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) here at St. Peter's.
We also received notice of the death of Br. Dan Piasecki, OFM. Br. Dan served here at St. Peter's as sacristan and ministry to the poor. He had been living at the Franciscan Retirement Friary in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. His funeral was celebrated at Bl. Giles in Manitowoc.
Last week we also received news that Theresa Ortiz (who works in the St. Peter Book store) was hospitalized in serious condition. Please keep all those who are ill and especially those suffering from the COVID virus in your prayers.