Even though this bulletin is marked Sunday, June 29, 2014, we can’t help but think about our next national holiday—Independence Day—the Fourth of July. This year it occurs on a Friday, which means it probably is part of an extended weekend from Friday through Sunday. Many of you reading this bulletin no doubt have a number of things planned for this three-day holiday. Some may be looking forward to a mini-vacation with relatives or friends, a picnic in the park, swimming in the Lake, in the neighborhood pool, or even in the pool in the backyard, going to a fireworks display, watching a parade, sleeping in later in the morning or staying up later in the evening, watching a baseball game (maybe the White Sox and the Cubs will win for a change), lounging in the yard or even working in the yard. No matter what your weekend entails, it’s a great break in the middle of the summer months to relax and reflect.
There’s no better time to consider what being patriotic means than to do it around the anniversary of our independence back in 1776. I assume we don’t take our independence and our national birth for granted. When was the last time you carefully read the Declaration of Independence? Let me refresh your memory of that document:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes, and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world….
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved, and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.
When you stop to think of how risky and dramatic this Declaration was in 1776, with these assembled gentlemen representing their respective colonies and knowing that Great Britain was not going to take this statement sitting down, we owe a great debt of gratitude to them for making the break with England and setting the course for what was to follow. The Revolutionary War was a hard-fought battle for freedom and independence, for liberty and rights, but the fight was worth the effort.
Then in 1787 another group of statesmen gathered in order to discuss the Constitution of the New Republic and then to adopt its principles and format. It begins as follows: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Even though the Constitution has been amended a number of times to reflect different times and different circumstances, it basically has been the founding document of our nation and has served us well all these years. In some ways, it is a marvel that through thick and thin we have not only survived but thrived due to the foresight and wisdom of these founding Fathers.
It was a tricky situation to allow for the autonomy of each of the states of the Union and still have a strong central government. The Constitution tried to outline how this balance could be maintained while protecting the individual rights of its citizens. However, it was not long before people saw that there was real need to further spell out what these rights were—made into Amendments of the Constitution and now known as The Bill of Rights ratified on December 15, 1791. To this very day we are still attempting to honor what has been said while taking into consideration what the present day dictates. We are not a nation stuck in the past, but a people moving forward with vision and determination.
In light of these foundational documents, we must address things like legitimate gun control, immigration reform, comprehensive health care, affordable and excellent education, respect for religious rights, making sure every citizen can vote in a timely manner and without harassment, honor our veterans who have served their country with dignity, assess our place on the world stage along with our allies, etc. We must do our best to work together to accomplish these goals the way those who came together at the dawn of our nation did—with differing views, yes, but with a common purpose and for the common good with the possibility of compromise except where basic principles would not allow it.
We have so much to be thankful for as we celebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July, but we also have so much more to do. May we celebrate our blessings and commit to the hard work of continuing our quest for a truly democratic society, respecting especially the needs of the poor as Pope Francis reminds us.
We invite you to join us for Mass this Friday, the Fourth of July, at 10:00 A.M. The Church will open at 9:00 and will close by 11:00 so that the friars and the security officer will also be able to celebrate this wonderful national holiday with our families.
FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL
Tradition says that Saints Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom in Rome. Today the Church honors these two great apostles who are especially honored in Rome, but as Pope Francis said last year on their feast, “It is an important feast for the universal Church because the entire People of God is indebted to them for the gift of faith.”
The Gospel text today is unique to Matthew. Simon Peter’s declaration of Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” is not the result of human reasoning but the result of a heavenly revelation. It is at this point in Matthew’s text that Simon is given the nickname Peter, “rock,” and upon this rock Jesus establishes his “church,” a word found only in Matthew.
In Acts we hear about the early persecution of the church by Herod Antipas. James, son of Zebedee, was killed in A.D. 44. Peter’s subsequent arrest and rescue from prison serves to encourage the church because it illustrates that God is protecting Peter from harm. His death occurs some twenty years later in Rome. There is much to be done and many miles to travel before he meets a martyr’s death.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, the apostle writes with a sense of impending death: “The time of my departure is at hand.” Remembering his trials, he affirms that “the Lord stood by me and gave me strength…and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.” The example of his faith in the face of suffering offers encouragement to Christians of all ages who face trials because of their faith. As the preface in today’s Mass says, “Each in a different way gathered together the one family of Christ. And revered together throughout the world, they share one martyr’s crown.”
For Reflection: What does the witness of martyrs mean for my faith? Do I recognize people of faith undergoing a martyr’s death right in our own day? Have I drawn meaning from the suffering of others?
SECOND COLLECTION FOR PETER’S PENCE
The annual Peter’s Pence Collection is taken up worldwide as a means of having the Holy Father be able to respond to the various needs and disasters around the world. Too often through floods, famine, drought, refugees, tornado relief, etc., the Catholic Church wants to be present both in people and in financial resources to let those affected know that the Church is with them in their particular circumstances. Monies collected will be used exclusively for this purpose. Cardinal George writes to us with his thoughts:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Easter Sunday 2013, Pope Francis encouraged each person to be a witness of charity. The Holy Father has continued to remind each of us through his words and actions that we must serve our brothers and sisters in order to be true disciples of Christ.
In dioceses where many are dependent on the Church for social and pastoral support, as well as regions where Catholics are persecuted for their faith, His Holiness extends his charity to those most in need.
This year’s Peter’s Pence Collection provides each of us the opportunity to be a witness of charity. In addition, our financial support of this annual collection will assist Pope Francis in strengthening dioceses, religious orders and struggling communities of faith. I thank you for your generosity.
May Our Lord continue to bless you and your loved ones as you share your faith and charity in your parish, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and throughout the Universal Church. You and those you love are in my prayers; please keep me in yours.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, O.M. I.
Archbishop of Chicago
We often do not have the opportunity to personally thank Pope Francis for his marvelous leadership of the Church. By being generous in this Peter’s Pence Collection, we are able to thank him at least by making funds available for him to represent the Church by a financial gift in many parts of the world. God bless you for your generous response!
RETROUVAILLE—A LIFELINE FOR MARRIAGES
The word Retrouvaille (re-tro-vi with a long i) is a French word meaning rediscovery. This program helps couples heal and renew their marriages and offers tools needed to rediscover a loving marriage relationship. Do you feel lost, alone or bored in your marriage? Are you frustrated, hurt or angry with your spouse? Are you constantly fighting? Have you thought about separation or divorce? Does talking about it only make it worse? Thousands of couples headed for cold, unloving relationships have successfully overcome their marriage problems by attending the program. Some couples come during the initial signs of a marriage problem and others are in a state of despair. The Retrouvaille Program consists of a weekend experience combined with a series of 6 post-weekend sessions. The tools learned here will help put your marriage in order again. The main emphasis of the program is on communication in marriage between husband and wife. It will give you the opportunity to rediscover each other and examine your lives together in a new and positive way.
You can go to www.retrouvaille.org for general information about the program. Upcoming weekends for the Chicagoland area are August 1-3, September 26-28, and December 5-7. For questions or further information contact Robin and Phil Kain (773-544-0498) or e-mail them at [email protected]. Don’t delay; do it today!
Raising Faith-Filled Kids One Word at a Time
One of the things I have learned as a parent is this: when a family member is going through a rough time and I don’t know what to do, I just need to love him or her through it. That’s become a kind of mantra for my wife and me because it works. When we come to the end of our rope and don’t know what the “right” thing to do is, we’ll say, “We can love her through it.” Inviting love into the equation is to invite God into the mix. Bringing our uncertainty and worry into the light of Christ allows us to focus less on the problem and more on the person. God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God. That is my wish for you and your family.—Tom McGrath
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
A substitute teacher is starting her first day at a new school. She is taking attendance when a boy walks in a few seconds late. He says, “My name is Matt. Sorry I’m late. Every morning I go down to the creek and throw pebbles in the water until school starts.” The teacher excuses him. A minute later, a second student walks in. The teacher asks, “Who are you and why are you late?” The student replies, “My name is Ben. I was down at the creek tossing pebbles into the water. I didn’t notice the time. Sorry.” The teacher shakes her head. A minute later, a third kid walks in. “And who are you and why are YOU late?” The kid, out of breath and breathing hard, says, “”I’m John. I was down by the creek throwing pebbles in the water. I like to see how big a splash I can make.” The teacher, flabbergasted, also excuses him but says, “I know throwing pebbles in the creek can be fun and the bigger splashes pebbles make are cool to watch, but please watch the clock next time so you are not late for school.”
A fourth kid walks into the classroom. He is drenched with water, his clothes are wet and muddy, his hair is soaked, and he’s dripping all over the floor. The class bursts into laughter. Without hesitation, the teacher says, “Okay, I know you were down at the creek. I know what you were doing. I don’t have a problem with it. Just dry off, take a seat, and give me your name.” The boy, who is about to hyperventilate, yells, “My name is Pebbles!”