June 24, 2018
Some of you might be wondering why I haven’t written anything before now concerning our chapter event in St. Louis at the end of May. After all, we had prepared you for the fact that most of us would be gone from St. Peter’s attending this chapter which meant that we would have no Masses, no confessions, no open front office and no one available on the mezzanine for those three days. I can tell you quite honestly that you have heard nothing officially from me only because I had finished all the bulletins before I left for the first three weeks of June and therefore this is the first available space I have had since then.
The chapter experience was exceptional. We spent the first evening and most of the next morning in prayer to prepare ourselves for the vote on whether we, as a province, would endorse the proposal for six of the seven U.S. Provinces to merge into one. We had the vote just before lunch on Wednesday, the votes were counted immediately and the results sent to the central communication headquarters in Albuquerque so that all the results of the six provinces could be announced simultaneously at 3:00 P.M. We were gathered in the chapter room and heard via skype that all six provinces had passed the proposal—with varying percentages of positive votes—which meant that we would begin the process of making this happen.
What actually will take place is that these results will be forwarded to our General Curia in Rome, where they will be examined and discussed. If they accept our vote and how it was handled, then a Delegate General will be appointed who will visit each of the provinces to ascertain the sentiment of the vote. He will report back to the General Definitorium with what he has heard and hopefully they will give the official word for us to proceed. At any rate, it will take most likely up to five years for all the details to be worked out, which would mean the merger would take place probably in 2023. In the meantime, each of the six provinces will have to continue governing themselves and making all decisions in the best interest of the friars during the intervening years.
I want to thank everyone for their patience and for their understanding of the schedule change while we were away. Know that we were praying for all of you, and many of you told us you were doing the same for us. Thank you so much.
THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
As we celebrate the birthday of Saint John the Baptist, the readings focus on John’s role of inspiring people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. The First Reading is one of four “Servant Songs” in the Book of Isaiah. For Christians, these songs expressly prepare the way for the messiah by foreshadowing the coming of Jesus, who fulfilled these prophecies. Here the Servant speaks and describes his call from his mother’s womb, how God empowered him with gifts as a speaker, how difficult his task was going to be, how his task was to bring together the people of Israel while also being a light of salvation to the nations of the earth. The servant trusts God while grieving over the sufferings that he has to face.
The Gospel reading from Luke narrates events surrounding John’s birth—focusing on his name. For the people of Israel, a person’s name expressed an aspect of their identity. The name John, a common one among the people of Israel, was not found in his family’s lineage. It means “the Lord has been gracious” because the elderly parents, Elizabeth and Zachariah, had lost all hope of conceiving a child in their old age. God had certainly favored them. This raised the question: “What, then will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”
The Second Reading answers this question. When Paul speaks in the synagogue of Antioch, he identifies John’s role as preparing the way for the messiah. This shows how well the early Church understood that the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ. Like John the Baptist, our task is to continue his work of enabling the light of Christ to shine out more fully in our world.
John the Baptist did not shrink from his call to herald the coming of Jesus. In our time, Christians are to be enthusiastic in proclaiming the love of God and making others disciples. In Go and Make Disciples, the United States bishops state, “Jesus came to set this fire upon the earth, until all is ablaze in the love of God. We pray this fire will come upon us as disciples as we, led by the Spirit, carry out Christ’s great commission to go and make disciples of all the nations” (#69).
Just as John the Baptist proclaimed the messiah, so should each Christian. The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults explains that the Church has a mission to spread the Gospel. It states, “Of her very nature, the Church is missionary. This means her members are called by God to bring the Gospel by word and deed to all peoples and to every situation of work, education, culture, and communal life in which human beings find themselves” (#501).
For Your Reflection: Do you ever consider how well God knows you? How seriously do you take your call to spread the Gospel? When have you needed to trust completely in God?
SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL
Friday, June 29, 2018
One of the great feasts of the liturgical year is that of Saints Peter and Paul, which this year we celebrate on Friday, June 29. The feast reminds us of these two great leaders in the early Church: Peter, the first Pope, and Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles. They had very different personalities and leadership skills, but both of them made monumental contributions to spreading the Good News after Jesus ascended back to the Father and entrusted the building of the Kingdom to his chosen apostles and disciples. Here at St. Peter’s we will celebrate the feast with a Solemn Mass with choir at 11:40. Due to the length of this Mass, there will be no 12:15 Mass on Friday. We also will honor this Solemnity by singing Solemn Vespers at 5:40 P.M. in church. We hope many people will be able to join us for this beautiful occasion. Don’t be afraid to invite a few of your friends or co-workers to accompany you on Friday.
St. Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: “You are the Messiah” (Mk 8:29). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter’s life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.
The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus’ death. His name is first on every list of apostles.
But the Gospels prove their own trustworthiness by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus. He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, “What are we going to get for all this?” (Mt 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ’s anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mt 16:23).
Now for Paul—if the most well known preacher today suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul’s life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most Pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to
other Jews as a heretical welcome of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate.
Paul’s central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus.
Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God’s chosen people, the children of the promise. And he poured himself out in preaching throughout Asia Minor, establishing communities of faith, revisiting them from time to time to encourage them, and finally suffering death for the sake of the Lord.
- PETER’S GALA
Don’t forget that St. Peter’s is holding its annual Gala on Thursday, July 19, 2018, from 5:30-8:30 P.M. at the Union League Club, 65 West Jackson Boulevard. It’s an evening of great fun and food, along with meeting both old and new friends while sipping a cool drink. We also have some magnificent items for you to purchase and to bid on during the silent and live auctions. The profits from this event go totally to reducing our budget deficit. Last year we netted c. $125,000; this year our goal is to top that amount by a significant margin. Tickets @ $175.00 apiece are still on sale after some of the Masses on weekends and weekdays, or at other times when the front office is open. We hope to see you there.
THE NEW FARM BILL PROPOSAL
This new Farm Bill proposal could mean massive cuts to SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the front-line defense against hunger, enabling 1 in 8 Americans to put food on the table. But, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s recently released Farm Bill proposal puts the program in jeopardy.
Nearly 1.9 million Illinoisans receive SNAP benefits. For every meal food banks provide across the nation, SNAP provides 12. Without it, food banks would not be able to fill the gap in need.
The current proposal calls for radically restructuring SNAP by increasing the age of people who must work to 59 in order to qualify for benefits. It also cuts funding for SNAP, shifting precious resources from food to untested and unproven employment and training programs that state governments will struggle to implement in a way that actually helps people find jobs.
The proposal would also take away state flexibility to simplify and streamline the application process. It would also create a benefit cliff that punishes working households that are trying to save money, work extra hours, or find a better paying job.
These changes disregard the reality of who is currently served by SNAP. Most participants who can work, do work. Among those who don’t, two out of three are children, older adults and people with disabilities.
So what can I do? Visit www.chicagosfoodbank.org/advocacy to sign up to receive advocacy emails with details about upcoming legislative call-in days, advocacy events and other opportunities. Also send a message to your lawmakers letting them know that SNAP is vital, effective and must be protected. Become a Food Depository Champion Advocate and lift your voice with those who are concerned that the poor and the needy are not forgotten or disregarded through this current initiative which seems to be predicated upon the myth that so many who receive assistance are lazy and avoiding work in order to receive this help. Policies and legislation should be based upon facts and good research rather than on suspicions and ideologies.
PETER’S PENCE COLLECTION NEXT WEEKEND
Next weekend our archdiocese will take up the Peter’s Pence Collection, which provides Pope Francis with the funds he needs to carry out his charitable works around the world. The proceeds benefit our brothers and sisters on the margins of society, including victims of war, oppression, and natural disasters. Join our Holy Father as a witness of charity to those who are suffering in many parts of the world by coming prepared to make a generous donation to this Peter’s Pence Collection.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
Little Jenny: Hi, Mommy. Where is Daddy?
Mother: He’s lying on the couch. He’s been watching baseball all day. Why do you ask?
Little Jenny: I wanted to tell him what we learned in school today.
Mother: Oh, sweetie, and what was that?
Little Jenny: Well, the teacher taught us that the human body has 270 bones at birth and 206 by adulthood.
Mother: Wow, Jenny, I did not know that, but I’m afraid your teacher is incorrect when it comes to your father, though.
Little Jenny: Really, Mommy? Why is that?
Mother: Because he has an extra one, for a total of 207. It’s named the Lazy-bone.