The humanitarian crisis that we now find on our southern border requires action, but individuals offer quite varying approaches to a solution. Some of our legislators think we should just change the current law about how children in these circumstances should be treated so that they could be deported back to their homelands more quickly. They say such an approach would send a message to others possibly seeking asylum that it will not be tolerated. The hope for them, then, is that this whole thing would go away fairly quickly. Others say that compassion and concern should mark our response and therefore, as difficult as it might seem, we should proceed using our present legislation and find ways to deal with the numbers who are here.
Using words for these unaccompanied children and mothers with babies such as “terrorists,” gang members,” and “disease-carrying vagrants” just causes people who are uninformed to react in non-responsible ways. It appears that the vast majority of those arriving at our border are trying to escape poverty, drug gangs and almost certain murder if they do not do what these gangs want. Apparently many of these children have seen family members killed or raped. Parents were willing to try anything if it could mean a better life for their child(ren).
Try to think of any of us being in similar circumstances—what would we do? If it appeared that there was a possible way out of this horrific place, would we not take it even if it meant severe risks? Hope springs eternal, and we often do not always look at all the consequences. Who knows what dangers these individuals were exposed to along the way? Many trusted so called “coyotes,” who often proved relentless and money mongers. A goodly number of these refugees died along the way.
Recently there was a colloquium in Mexico City on the topic of human migration and development. On this occasion Pope Francis wrote a letter to those gathered which says in part:
“Globalization is a phenomenon that challenges us, especially in one of its principal manifestations, which is emigration. It is one of the ‘signs’ of this time that we live in and that brings us back to the words of Jesus, ‘Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?’ (Lk 12:57). Despite the large influx of migrants present in all continents and in almost all countries, migration is still seen as an emergency, or as a circumstantial and sporadic fact, while instead it has now become a hallmark of our society and a challenge.
“It is a phenomenon that carries with it great promise and many challenges. Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often, die tragically. Many of their rights are violated; they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.
“Faced with this situation, I repeat what I have affirmed in this year’s Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees: ‘A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization—all typical of a throwaway culture—towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.’
“I would also like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence. This is a category of migrants from Central America and Mexico itself who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be in vain. They are increasing day by day. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected. These measures, however, will not be sufficient unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin. Finally, this challenge demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted.”
Kudos to Cardinal George and the Archdiocese who are responding to this crisis. “The Archdiocese of Chicago is asking the federal government to allow us to feed and provide safe temporary housing for the refugee children who are being brought here. The many children on the Mexico-U.S. border who are in danger and without adequate shelter call for a compassionate and merciful response.” Through the goodness of Catholic Charities and Maryville Academy, approximately 429 children will receive this service. Other dioceses are responding accordingly as is the city of Los Angeles and perhaps more urban centers. This situation on our southern border just emphasized even more poignantly why our immigration system needs reform. Merely securing our border with more walls and fences or stiffening our present legislation is not the answer; applying Gospel answers is the way.
Let’s not be too quick to find facile ways of solving this “problem.” We are a nation of immigrants, and we should not lord it over these unfortunate individuals who want nothing more than a decent life. Most of the hostile conditions in their homelands come from issues with the drug trade. Were it not for our monumental use of these drugs here in the United States, things would most likely be very different in these Central American countries.
SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In 1 Kings, Solomon, Israel’s new king, reveals his wisdom by asking God for “an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” The king’s wisdom would enable him to discern what is truly valuable, and we are told, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request.” This led the Lord to bless Solomon so that “there has never been anyone like you…and after you there will come no one equal to you.” We are called to seek a similar wisdom in our own lives.
Paul tells the Romans that “all things work for good for those who love God.” He calls them to trust in God, who has “justified” us through the blood of Christ. In a subsequent verse he reminds us that “if God is for us,” we have nothing to fear. As members of God’s household, we are called to have confidence in God’s love for us.
It was not uncommon in Jesus’ day to bury wealth in a field in order to protect it from theft before going on a long journey or in the face of an attack. Should the owner of the treasure not return to retrieve it, the treasure becomes the property of the next owner. Jesus compares “the kingdom of heaven”—Matthew’s usual substitute for “the kingdom of God”—with a buried treasure; because it is of such great value, the one who finds it “goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” In the parallel image of the “pearl of great price,” the merchant also “sells all that he has and buys it.” The message is that we should seek to “acquire” the kingdom, no matter the price.
For Reflection: How can I grow in wisdom? Do I read good spiritual literature, take time to reflect on what I read, and then put into practice what I learn? Am I willing to “sell everything” to acquire God’s treasure?
THEOLOGY ON TAP
The St. Peter’s Young Adults (SPYA) invite you to join us once again this year for Theology on Tap. The Theology on Tap begins at 5:30 and will run until approximately 7:00 P.M. Refreshments and snacks will also be served. This program is designed primarily for adults 20-40 years of age, but you are welcome even if you are a bit older. Please join us for the following:
July 28: Mr. Wayne Smith, a layman in the Archdiocese of Chicago, will speak on “Mercy—From Blindness to Sight,” sharing his faith journey and inviting us to look at our own.
August 4: Dave and Martha Meus, a young , Catholic married couple, will speak on “Living the New Evangelization,” in which they will help us to understand and then live this call to be Gospel people in the world.
For those who are interested, our St. Peter’s Young Adults meets every Monday evening from 5:30-7:00 P.M. except on holidays and on the final three weeks of August. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call Fr. Ed Shea at 773-892-4134.
BLEST ART AT ST. PETER’S
This weekend Blest Art will be visiting our parish on behalf of the Christian families in Bethlehem. For centuries, the Christians and Catholics of Bethlehem have earned a living by carving olive wood religious art to sell to visiting pilgrims. Fewer pilgrims are journeying to the Holy Land today, making it difficult for Christian artisans to support their families by the dignified work of their hands in the land of Christ’s birth.
Because of the lack of work, there has been a dramatic rise in Christian emigration from the Holy land. Christians once made up more than 63% of the population in cities like Bethlehem and its surrounding villages. Now less than 1% of the people in the Holy Land are active Christians.
Since we started in 2001, Blest Art has helped hundreds of struggling families. Mr. Jeryes Qumseya, the president, through his own experience as a master carver, has worked to make it possible for Christians in the Holy Land to maintain both their livelihood and their ancestral homes in the land of Our Lord. The proceeds from Blest Art’s sales also help support community programs such as schools, elderly centers, churches, and clinics.
Down in the auditorium after all the Masses you will find hand-carved Nativity sets, statues of many sizes, crosses, rosaries, and many other pieces of beautiful olive wood religious art. Please consider purchasing a piece of art from the Holy Land to support your fellow Christians who choose to stay and protect the holy sites where Jesus himself lived. Your purchase will make a difference in the lives of many Christian families. If you are not able to visit the display, you can still help by ordering from their website at www.BlestArt.org.
We gladly accept cash, checks, and all major credit cards. Please note that we do not ask for, nor do we accept, any donation. Thank you for your purchase this weekend.
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS
THE PORTIUNCULA INDULGENCE
Saturday, August 2, 2014, is the Feast of the Portiuncula or Our Lady of the Angels. This name is derived from a little church in Assisi known as St. Mary of the Angels. This chapel, later called the “Little Portion” or Portiuncula, became the “cradle” of the Franciscan Order. It was one of the churches rebuilt by St. Francis when he first began his public ministry.
One night Francis went to this chapel and was graced with a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, surrounded by a multitude of angels. Then, the Lord spoke and asked Francis to seek some special favor of Him. After pondering this request, Francis asked that a full pardon of their sins would be granted to anyone who visited this little chapel and met the proper conditions. This grace, called a plenary indulgence, can only be obtained on August 2.
The conditions for gaining this indulgence, either for yourself or for a deceased loved one, include going to confession and Holy Communion within a period of eight days before or after this feast. In addition, one must pray the Our Father as well as the Creed for the Holy Father’s intentions and pray some additional prayer, e.g., the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, while in church. This plenary indulgence was later extended to include any Franciscan church throughout the world. We invite you, therefore, to visit St. Peter’s on Saturday, August 2, for Mass at noon and to fulfill the requirements for the plenary indulgence. The church will be open from 11:00 A.M. until 7:00 P.M. on Saturday as usual.
Here at St. Peter’s we have always been fortunate to have many men and women volunteer to serve as lectors, acolytes and Communion Ministers at both our weekday and weekend liturgies. In fact, if it were not for these dedicated people, we would not be able to have the well planned and well done worship services that we do day in and day out. We are well aware that many of these individuals go to a great deal of sacrifice in order to make their assignments, especially those who minister at the early weekday liturgies.
From time to time we invite new people to join the ranks of those who already have volunteered, been trained, and now regularly are on our monthly roster. Sometimes work schedules have changed, or someone has been transferred from a downtown location to one in the suburbs. At other times, work-related issues have caused families to move from Chicago to another city. Some people have retired and now no longer get down to the Loop as they formerly did.
We are always looking for new individuals to take their places as these things occur. You don’t have to be a perfect Catholic in order to minister in these positions; often people tell us that they have come to an entirely new appreciation of the Eucharist and their spiritual lives as a result of serving at the altar. We will train you to become a reader, an acolyte or a Communion Minister, and we will try to accommodate your personal schedule and availability. Always remember the proverb, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”
Therefore, I am asking you to consider joining us at the altar in some capacity. We are particularly in need of individuals for the 8:15 A.M. weekday liturgy and for any of the weekend liturgies. If you would like more information or if you are ready to volunteer, please call Mr. James Kapellas at 312-853-2418, and he will assist you. Thank you for considering this invitation and request.
THE YEAR OF THE SACRAMENTS
One Word at a Time
Every celebration of the sacraments begins with a proclamation of God’s Word from the Bible. We may take this for granted, but we need to understand why and how God’s Word is essential in our celebration of the sacraments.
The Word of God tells us the most important truth of our lives. God’s Word, in the first place, tells us what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us so that we could be free of sin and death. Secondly, God’s Word tells us what God’s plan is for us, what is the promise and the hope that God offers us.
Once we hear and accept what God has done for us in Jesus Christ and once we hear the future God offers us, then we are ready to celebrate the sacraments. We are ready to meet the living and saving Lord Jesus. We are ready to embrace God’s promised future.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus. “It’s a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway,” he said. “Actually,” said his guide, “it’s named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation.” The visitor was astonished. “Was Joshua Hemingway a writer also?” “Yes, indeed,” said his guide. “He wrote a check.”