July 22, 2018
You probably have been hearing a fair amount about the Archdiocesan renewal program Renew My Church either from details at your home parish or from the Chicago Catholic, our Archdiocesan newspaper. This program is drawing people together in clusters to discuss how our parishes can become more dynamic and thereby not only energize the people who already are attending there on a regular basis but also inviting others to learn more about Jesus Christ through what is being called the New Evangelization. What it really means is making the Gospel come alive for more and more people.
Much of what is happening in these cluster parishes around the Archdiocese is based on a book by Fr. James Mallon entitled Divine Renovation: Bringing your Parish from Maintenance to Mission. Fr. Mallon is a diocesan priest from Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada, who has developed an approach based on the passage from Matthew’s Gospel often referred to as the Great Commissioning (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus spoke to the Apostles thus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Basically there were four goals of this statement: to go, to make, to baptize, and to teach. Fr. Mallon maintains that the most important of these four is to “make disciples.” Here is what he has to say about this essential element of being Church.
“In Church culture we often use terms such as “disciple’ or “apostle” without understanding the meaning of these words, but “disciple” is so key to our mandate from Jesus that we ought to know its meaning….To be a disciple is to be a learner. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be engaged in a lifelong process of learning from and about Jesus the master, Jesus the teacher. The English term “disciple” comes from the Latin discipulus, and provides the connotation that this learning process is not haphazard, but intentional and disciplined. To become a disciple is to commit to such a process of growth.
“But how many of our parishioners does this term honestly describe? We all have people in our churches who are passionate about their faith, committed and hungry to grow and learn, but they are, sadly, a small minority who often are considered a little odd by ‘normal Catholics….’ We have a real problem before us. It is the membership of our churches who are called to be making disciples, but most have not yet become disciples themselves. A further obstacle to this task is that being an adult learner in the faith is viewed as entirely optional and non-essential. We value it for our children and teenagers, but we somehow think that adults do not need to learn, grow or mature. Catechesis in Catholic circles usually means what we do with children. Although the laity of our Church is more educated and professional than at any other time in history, the corresponding literacy in things of faith, theology, Scripture and the spiritual life lags far behind.
“Over the last 50 years, our society has witnessed what can arguably be called the most accelerated social change in human history. As we have moved through several paradigm shifts in the last generation, the pastoral practice of the Catholic Church in the West remains, for the most part, unchanged from what existed prior to this state of flux. Culture supported faith and church attendance. Demographics supported our pastoral development through the birth of children and the movement of migrants. We just had to build it and people would come.
“I do not believe we were particularly good at making disciples 50 years ago, but it was not obviously to our detriment. As long as we would go and open churches, there were always new communities of migrants and new babies. As long as we baptized and taught in our schools, we pumped out good ‘practicing Catholics.’ In a sense, we got away with not making disciples, because the culture propped it all up. Fast forward through the 60s, the sexual revolution, mass media, new media, post-modernism, materialism, relativism, individualism, hedonism and every other ‘ism’ we can think of, and all of a sudden the fault lines are revealed for all to see.
“Hundreds of thousands of faithful, believing Catholics carry the enormous burden of children and grandchildren who have abandoned ‘the faith.’ These faithful Catholics carry the extra burden of blaming themselves for this situation, unsure of what they did wrong: after all, they did for their children what their parents did for them. Pointing fingers is, well, pointless. The fact is that the rules have all changed. We no longer have the cultural props we had before, and the social current has turned against us. The only solution going forward is to return to what Jesus asked of us 2,000 years ago: to not just make believers, or ‘practicing Catholics,’ but to make disciples. To make disciples. That’s it! This is the heart of the matter and the lens through which we are to evaluate all activity of the Church—all pastoral programs, all expenditures, and all use of our buildings.”
If you would like to learn more about what the Renew My Church is all about and what the goals and the means to accomplish these goals look like, I would suggest you purchase a copy of this book either from our St. Peter’s Gift Shop or online at Amazon.com. It is a good read and one that is easy to digest and understand. This program will make a difference for years to come in our Archdiocese.
SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The familiar image of the Good Shepherd pervades our readings today. In the First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah reminds the leaders of God’s people that they have wandered far from the vision God had for them. Instead of acting as true shepherds caring for God’s flock, they have “scattered the flock of my pasture.” Consequently, God presents a vision for the future in which the remnant of God’s flock will be gathered together “from all lands to which I have driven them.” God promises to bring them together with a true shepherd guiding them to live in peace.
Paul proclaims that Christ Jesus went farther in fulfilling this vision by uniting all humanity in Christ Jesus, who is, as Paul says, “our peace, who made all one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity” among all people.
The Responsorial Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd,” is a beautiful commentary on how God’s care shepherds God’s people “near restful waters” and guides them “in right paths.” These images are continued in the Gospel account where Jesus prepares to teach and feed the crowd who are “like sheep without a shepherd.”
When Jesus looks on the crowds as “sheep without a shepherd,” the scene acts as a prelude to the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand that we will hear next Sunday. Jesus’ feelings for God’s people are captured so graphically when Mark says, “His heart was moved with pity for them.” The heart conveys the very depths of the love, compassion, and mercy that Jesus has for those he has come to lead back to his Father. We are the sheep of his flock. The Lord continues to care for us in the Eucharist where he shepherds us, instructs us, and nourishes us.
Even though Jesus needed to rest, he felt pity on the crowd, “who were like sheep without a shepherd.” God continues to watch over the People of God as he calls people to ministry. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1575) explains that Jesus selected the apostles and called them to share in his mission. Jesus continues to protect and guide his flock.
Lumen gentium draws on the images in today’s readings in portraying the Church as a sheepfold and entrance to Christ. Just as the Gospel shows Christ looking after the crowd, the Church continues that work of caring for the People of God. The document from the Second Vatican Council states: “The church is, accordingly, a sheepfold, the sole and necessary entrance to which is Christ. It is also a flock, of which God would himself be the shepherd, and whose sheep are at all times led and brought to pasture by Christ himself, the Good Shepherd and prince of shepherds, who gave his life for his sheep” (#6).
For Your Reflection: Consider this week how you can allow the Lord to give you repose. Do you keep in prayer the shepherds leading your parish flock? How can you seek to increase your hunger for the Word of the Lord?
FEAST OF SAINTS JOACHIM AND ANN
Parents of Mary, the Mother of God
Thursday, July 26, 2018
In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names Joachim and Anne come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died.
The heroism and holiness of these people, however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.
The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past.
Joachim and Anne, whether these are their real names or not, represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.
This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come. They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.
THEOLOGY ON TAP
Attention, Young Adults (20-40)! Theology on Tap at St. Peter’s continues on Monday, July 23—5:30-7:30 P.M.
Our speaker this week is Dr. Mary Deeley, the pastoral associate and Director of the Catholic Scholars Program for the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University. She loves working with young adults in discernment, leadership development, spiritual direction, and education and formation. Mary will talk to us about the power of “story” in Scripture and how it shapes our lives. The title of Mary’s talk is “Finding Our Story in THE Story.”
We hope to see you on Monday in the St. Clare Auditorium for some food, some friendship, and some excellent discussion.
AN EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
Our Director of Activities, Carolyn Jarosz, who has been our Activities Director for the past ten years, has decided to move to Peoria at the end of August, and therefore her position will be open. First of all, I want to thank Carolyn for her service to the people of St. Peter’s and to our friar and lay staff throughout her time with us. She certainly has been a faithful and dedicated associate in our ministry, and we wish her well and send her God’s blessings as she makes this transition in her life.
We are now looking for Carolyn’s replacement. We will need someone who has internet and website skills, someone who will put together the weekly bulletin, prepare the posters for the bulletin board and kiosk, coordinate the activities that take place in the auditorium and assists Fr. Derran with the renewal programs, the person who coordinates volunteers, etc. A/V experience is preferred. If you would like to apply for this position, please either send a resume to Fr. Kurt or drop it off at the Front Office no later than August 6. If you would like additional information about the position, you may contact Carolyn at 312-853-2376.
- PETER’S BOOK AND GIFT SHOP
Do you realize that our Gift Shop is one of only two Catholic bookstores in the Loop? The other is that run by the Pauline Sisters at 172 North Michigan Avenue. We try to stock items that appeal to a wide Catholic audience with gifts for the important celebrations of our Catholic faith: baptisms, confirmations, First Holy Communions, weddings, etc. We also have materials on how to celebrate the liturgical seasons of the year, with particular emphasis on Advent and Lent. You will find religious cards for all occasions, religious articles, statues and crucifixes, as well as a large array of books primarily with a spiritual flavor. We invite you to come down to the store either to browse or to purchase: Monday-Wednesday 10:00-3:00, Thursday-Friday 10:00-6:00, and Sundays 9:30-2:00. You will find wonderful gifts for yourself and for your best friends with people available to answer all your questions.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
A rookie police officer was assigned to ride in a cruiser with an experienced partner. A call came over the car’s radio telling them to disperse some people who were loitering.
The officers drove to the street and observed a small crowd standing on a corner. The rookie rolled down his window and said, “Let’s get off the corner.”
No one moved, so he barked again, “Let’s get off the corner!” Intimidated, the group of people began to leave, casting puzzled glances in his direction. Proud of his first official act, the young policeman turned to his partner and asked, “Well, how did I do?”
“Pretty good,” replied the veteran, “especially since this is a bus stop!”