This weekend in Chicago is very special due to the fact that the March for Life Chicago will take place on Sunday, January 13, 2019. This event has been celebrated in the city now for a number of years to coincide with the National March in Washington, D.C. which is held in conjunction with the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court on January 20 each year. We are pleased to note that the Chicago event has grown in status and numbers each succeeding year; therefore we would hope that the March in 2019 will follow along that same path. Allow me to share with you why this all came to be and then some of the pertinent facts of the 2019 March in particular.
We mark with deep sadness the great tragedy of the legalization of abortion in the United States along with the devastating social, moral, and legal consequences that have followed. Our vision is that, marching together in hope, we call upon religious, civic, and community leaders to renew every effort to build a nation that affirms the authentic dignity of women and men, the gift of children, and a culture dedicated to protecting life at every stage of development in law and love.
Our purpose is to provide an annual public event composed of people from diverse ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds dedicated to defending and protecting all human life.
“The fight for the right to life in not the cause of a special few, but the cause of every man, woman and child who cares not only about his or her own family, but the whole family of man.”—Dr. Mildred Jefferson, Pro-Life Activist and Heroine
You are invited to consider participating in any or all of the following events for March for Life Chicago on Sunday, January 13, 2019.
There will be a Youth Rally at Holy Name Cathedral at 8:00 A.M. and then a special Mass at the Cathedral at 11:A.M., at which Cardinal Cupich will preside and preach. Here at St. Peter’s we will host participants of the March to our 12:30 Mass and afterwards invite everyone for coffee and refreshments in the auditorium served by the Secular Franciscans.
The March itself will take place at the Federal Plaza from 2:00-4:00 P.M. with the following speakers:
--Kevin Grillot, Vice-President of March for Life Chicago
--Rt. Rev. Paul, Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest, Orthodox Church in America
--Pat McCaskey, Chicago Bears co-owner
--An Aid for Women Client
--Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago
--Dr. Matthew Harrison, President, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
--Jeanne Mancini, National President, March for Life
--Ryan Bomberger, Radiance Foundation
--weDignify College Student Leader
Hopefully God will provide good weather for this day so that many people will be able to participate in the various events planned as well as to do so without suffering through extreme cold and snow. I certainly invite as many people as possible from St. Peter’s to participate in this great opportunity to witness to one of the fundamental values of our faith, namely the dignity and respect for each and every person and for the protection of those most vulnerable, especially the unborn and aging seniors.
FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
On this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, today’s Scriptures invite us to be confident in and mindful of the presence of the divine in our midst. In the First Reading, the prophet urges personified Jerusalem to shout out from its place on the mountaintop, “Here is your God,” because its peoples long exile in Babylon is about to come to an end. Note that God is depicted as a shepherd carrying the lambs in the fold of his garment, close to his heart and carefully leading the nursing ewes as they make their way to God’s holy city.
Today’s Gospel juxtaposes John the Baptist with Jesus in a most remarkable scene. The crowds were listening to John, who was preaching a baptism of repentance and were eager to learn whether he might be the messiah. Yet John tells them that he is only the messenger. Someone greater was coming, he said, one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. The scene quickly shifts to the crowd, who had participated in John’s ritual of repentance and to one in their midst who is manifest to the world through a heavenly voice and a descending Holy Spirit as God’s beloved Son.
The Second Reading invites us to reflect on our Baptism, which the author describes as a “bath of rebirth” and a “renewal by the Holy Spirit.” He reminds us that it was given to us as grace (Greek charis, meaning “kindness” or “gift”), not because we earned it, but because God is merciful, generous, and loving.
The Gospel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord shows God’s love for his Son, who is about to take up his ministry. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission. The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to ‘rest on him.’ Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind” (#536).
John tells of Christ baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire, and many visualize the Holy Spirit in the tongues of fire in which he descended on the Apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2:3). In describing the term “fire,” in the Holy Spirit’s work, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions” (#696).
At all the Masses this weekend we will renew our Baptismal Promises in order to remind ourselves and to recommit to living those promises to the best of our ability in our particular circumstances.
For Your Reflection: How might your spiritual life be enriched by imagining God as a shepherd feeding his flock and leading them with care? The Second Reading states that the Lord saved us because of his mercy. How is that mercy reflected in your life? When you are praised, do you give thanks for the work God has done in your life?
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
January 18-25, 2019
“Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue”
The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity finds its origins in Deuteronomy 16:20. It was chosen for its powerful message of promoting truth, equality and unity. The initial work for this week’s prayer and reflection was prepared by a group of representatives from different parts of Indonesia, including the Communion of Churches in Indonesia and Indonesian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The Christians of Indonesia found that the words of this passage from Deuteronomy spoke powerfully to their situation and needs, and they recognized this common need throughout the world.
Fr. Tom Orians, SA, Associate Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, has noted, “Every year, Christians across the world gather in prayer for growth in unity. We do this in a world where corruption, greed and injustice bring about inequality and division. We are called together to form a united witness for justice and for Christian Unity that becomes a means of Christ’s healing grace for the brokenness of the world. Only by heeding Jesus’ prayer ‘that they all may be one’ can we witness to living unity in diversity.”
The traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 18 to 25. Those dates were proposed in 1908 by Servant of God, Fr. Paul Wattson, Founder of the Society of the Atonement, to cover the original days of the Feasts of the Chair of St. Peter (January 18) and the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25) and the observance still today of those dates has a symbolic significance.
I would suggest that each of us try to pray for greater understanding and respect for all Christian peoples and churches during this Week of Prayer and that we reflect daily, if possible, on the suggested passage from the Book of Deuteronomy chapter 16, verses 18-20:
You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes to administer true
justice for the people in all the communities which the Lord, your God, is giving
you. You shall not distort justice; you must be impartial. You shall not take a bribe;
for a bribe blinds the eyes even of the wise and twists the words even of the just.
Justice alone shall be your aim, that you may have life, and may possess the land
which the Lord, your God, is giving you.
During these days let us try to apply these words to how we are living and to how we may be challenged to change our ways. Let us also pray for our brothers and sisters in other faiths that we may more and more act in faith together to make these words the standard of our actions.
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.
Some of our bulletin readers may not be familiar with Chicago Shares, a way that you can help the homeless but not actually give them cash. You can purchase Chicago Shares in our Front Office anytime the office is open. They come in packets of five (each slip worth $1.00) and they can be used to purchase food, toiletries, and other basic items at a number of stores in the Loop and in the South and North areas beyond the Loop. These shares cannot be used to purchase liquor and tobacco, nor can they be redeemed for cash. If you would like more information about Chicago Shares, you may go to www.chicagoshares.org, or you may stop at the front office to pick up a list of the stores that honor these shares.
SECOND COLLECTION NEXT WEEKEND
Next weekend we will be taking up a second collection for the Church in Latin America. The people there are faith filled, but the needs and challenges that the Church faces in Latin America and the Caribbean are great. There are few catechetical and pastoral resources as well as a lack of ministers and poor infrastructure throughout the region, but with your help we can support our brothers and sisters and share our faith with them in a prophetic and bold way.
Let me give you an inspiring example of this bold and prophetic solidarity. In northeastern Ecuador, in the Amazon jungle, live hundreds of thousands of people. Many of these people are Catholic and have a strong and indigenous culture, and most speak only their native language, Quechua. The first missionaries arrived to this area many years ago and provided basic material for evangelization. Through the Collection for the Church in Latin America, an updated devotional book was produced and adapted to the Quechua culture based on feedback provided by the ingenious people. The book contains prayers, songs, and basic teachings of the faith. News of the latest edition was spread through radio programs, and over 10,000 books were handed out. Your support made it possible for adolescents, adults, and elders living in the Ecuadorian jungle to deepen their faith and to grow in the love of Christ.
Please come prepared next weekend not only for your regular contribution but also to make a donation to help the peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean to meet the needs there for evangelization and catechesis.
A CHUCKLE FOR YOUR PLEASURE
A tourist parked his car in downtown Washington, D.C.. He said to a man standing near the curb, “Listen, I’m going to be only a couple of minutes. Would you watch my car while I run into this store?”
“What?” the man huffed. “Do you realize that I am a member of the United States Congress?”
“Well, no,” replied the tourist. “I didn’t realize that. But it’s all right. I’ll trust you anyway.”