July 29, 2018
No doubt many of you reading this article are familiar with an author by the name of Matthew Kelly. He is also a sought-after speaker at conventions and workshops, a youth minister, a catechist, and a family man. One of his latest books is entitled Rediscovering Catholicism: Journeying Toward Our Spiritual North Star. In the book he analyzes why he thinks many people have become non-practicing Catholics and non-practicing Christians. I believe his analysis is excellent and right to the point, but once that is done, he has a section called “The Cry for Help,” and I would like to offer these few paragraphs for your reflection.
“More than ever, non-Christians and non-practicing Christians are sending you, me, and all of Christianity a message. Though they are not aware of it, they are indirectly giving witness to the Gospel. For within the message, there is a profound challenge for you and me to embrace a life rooted more fully in the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. Their message is clear, unmistakable, and disarmingly simple. Our siblings, parents, and children are sending us this message, as are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. They are saying, whispering, crying out, ‘Don’t tell me, show me!’
“Their plea comes from a longing deep within them and represents their great hunger. They don’t want to see another television evangelist, they don’t want to read another book or hear another tape about Christianity, and they don’t want to hear your amazing story of conversion. They want the real thing. They want to witness someone, anyone—just one will do—living an authentic life. Someone whose words are spoken by the authority of his or her actions. Someone striving humbly but heroically to live by what is good, true, and noble in the midst of and in spite of this modern climate.
“They are not sending us this message merely to sound the childish cry of ‘hypocrite.’ Rather, theirs is a natural cry—a cry for help. They are saying to us, ‘Don’t tell me, show me!’ because they are so hungry for a courageous example of the authentic life, a life lived to the fullest, in this day and age. Seeing the conflicts and contradictions of our lives, they cry ‘hypocrite’ out of their hurt and anger, because the disappointment of discovering that we are not living the life we espouse robs them of their own hope to live an authentic life. They are calling out to us like sheep without a shepherd, wanting to be fed, wanting to be led to the pastures of kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, acceptance freedom, and love.
“I have heard this cry a thousand times, but the words of one man echo in my mind like a bad dream that keeps returning to haunt a terrified child. They are the words of Mahatma Gandhi. He is a man for whom I have great admiration, a man whom I believe strove with all his might to live an authentic life. I have studied his life and writings extensively, but one passage stands out. It speaks to me with a clarity that pierces my heart.
“In relation to the well known fact that Gandhi read from the New Testament everyday and often quoted the Christian Scriptures, a reporter once asked him why he had never become a Christian. He answered, ‘If I had ever met one, I would have become one.’ In his own way, Gandhi was saying, ‘Don’t tell me, show me!’ and simultaneously revealing his yearning for an example of an authentic life.
“With all this being said, I believe there is also a desire within each of us to live an authentic life. We desire not only to witness authentic lives, but also to live an authentic life ourselves. We genuinely want to be true to ourselves and true to God. At times, we have perhaps resolved to live such a life with all the fervor we could muster. But, distracted by the sweet seduction of pleasure, possessions, or power, we have wandered from the narrow path. We know the truth, but we lack the discipline and strength of character to align the actions of our lives with that truth (cf. Matthew 26:41).We have given ourselves over to a thousand different whims, cravings, and fantasies. Our lives have become merely a distortion of the truth we know and profess. We know the human family’s need for kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, acceptance, freedom, and love, but we have divided our hearts with a thousand contradictions and compromises.
“At every moment, the entire modern world kneels before us, begging, pleading, beckoning, for some brave man or woman to come forward and lead them by example of an authentic life.
“Amidst the abundance of this age, which at times may seem all-prevailing, there is a great hunger in the people of today. We have a universal hunger for the authentic.”
I think you would find this book challenging, affirming, readable, interesting, worthwhile, and well worth the time you devote to reading it. It’s not like a novel that you can read chapter by chapter at one sitting. This book is best read small portions at a time and then adequate quiet time to absorb what has been said, taking time to truly apply the message to the honest situation in which you find yourself. Hopefully you can find a copy either at our Gift Shop at St. Peter’s or online at Amazon.com.
SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Last week’s Gospel acted as an introduction to the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. Instead of continuing with the account from Mark’s Gospel, the Church has deliberately chosen to read the narrative from John. The reason is twofold: John gives a longer and more detailed description of the miracle. John also offers an insight into the deeper meaning of this miracle by using specific details to draw attention to symbolism that foreshadows the Eucharist. For the next four weeks John’s narrative is proclaimed, providing a deeper insight into the meaning of the Eucharist.
Jesus, seated on a mountain beside the Sea of Galilee, reminds us of Moses on Mount Sinai. A boy offers Jesus five barley loaves and two fish that Jesus uses to feed the vast crowd. Many of the details of the story remind us of the Eucharist: the miracle occurs just before the second Passover. John uses the Greek word eucharisteo for “giving thanks” (from which comes the word Eucharist). A further interesting point is that the Greek word klasma for “fragment” was used in the early Church to refer to the Communion host.
The references to “young boy” (or “servant”) and “barley loaves” are details that John deliberately uses to connect to the First Reading today, in which Elisha orders the servant to distribute “the twenty barley loaves.” Just as Elisha’s miracle reminded the people of God’s care for them in the desert by feeding them with manna from heaven, so Jesus’ miracle of nourishing God’s people continues today every time the Eucharist is celebrated.
In the First Reading, the servant is apprehensive of giving food to the people, fearing that there will not be enough. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church explains that, from their love, Christians are to look to others’ needs. “Love faces a vast field of work and the Church is eager to make her contribution with her social doctrine, which concerns the whole person and is addressed to all people. So many needy brothers and sisters are waiting for help. How can it be that today there are still people dying of hunger?” (#5).
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church also quotes Matthew 25:34-40 as it notes that those who are blessed are the ones who gave food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty. “The words of Christ will then resound for all people: ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink, as you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me’” (#57).
For Your Reflection: How can you be more willing to rely on God to answer your needs? What does it mean to live in a manner worthy of the call that you have received? How do you understand God’s abundant love through the Eucharist?
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS
THE PORTIUNCULA INDULGENCE
Thursday, August 2, 2018, 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 from noon on Wednesday, August 1, until midnight on Thursday, August 2.
The conditions for gaining this indulgence, either for oneself 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 during the times specified above. The church will be open as usual on Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 A.M. until 7:00 P.M.
To celebrate this feast in a special way, we will have a Festive Mass at 12:15. Please join us if at all possible.
THEOLOGY ON TAP
Attention, Young Adults (20-40)! Theology on Tap 2018 at St. Peter’s concludes this Monday, July 30—5:30-7:30 P.M.
Our speaker this week is Brother Joe Trout, OP, a Dominican, who is head of the Theology Department at Fenwick High school in Oak Park. Brother Joe has been working with young people for quite a few years, and he himself is fairly young as well! He is passionate about engaging people in conversations about values, and he sees the future of our Church as a value-based movement for good in the world. Br. Trout will talk to us about the impact of social media and how it might serve us well after all. The long version of the title of Brother Joe’s talk is “Samson, Snapchat, and Suffering: Being a Young Catholic Today—Engaging Young (and Younger) Adults in the Church.”
We hope to see you in the St. Clare Auditorium downstairs on Monday for some food, some friendship, and some wonderful 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.
We are happy to announce that on July 2, 2018, Franciscan Outreach opened the first shelter in Chicago that is directly focused on the specific needs of men and women who are living in encampments. This new shelter will be a 24-hour, low-barrier facility that is unlike any other shelter in Chicago.
Since Franciscan Outreach runs the largest emergency shelter system on Chicago’s West Side, they have been working directly with the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) to design a facility that would address the needs and concerns of people who live in encampments throughout the city. The City of Chicago has provided Franciscan Outreach with the financial assistance to open this 30-bed shelter at 1856 South Loomis in the Pilsen neighborhood.
Franciscan Outreach will work closely with street outreach workers from DFSS and Featherfist, a homeless services provider, to build connections with people living in encampments and to better understand their specific needs. Teams will conduct intensive street outreach to encourage men and women living there to visit the Franciscan Outreach shelter and consider staying there.
This innovative, low-barrier shelter will provide for the specific needs of these people. It will offer a stable environment that will not only reduce the health and safety risks people have been exposed to while living outdoors but will provide them with access to an array of programs, services and resources they need to make positive changes in their lives.
For more information or to donate to this worthy endeavor, please see the Franciscan Outreach website: www.franoutreach.org/new-shelter-opens-for-people-living-in-encampments.