May 13, 2018
This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day, one of the nicest days in the year since we single out our mothers for special attention and memory. Each one of us has unique stories to tell of our mothers, and we do so with thanksgiving and perhaps with a tear in our eyes, especially if our mother has now earned her eternal reward. That is the case with my mother—she died on December 8, 2007, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at the age of 99, and we had her funeral on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, both of which are significant since she always had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother.
My mother chose to be a stay-at-home mother although she had worked until she became pregnant with me. Besides preparing for my birth, she and my dad moved into a brand new home just six weeks before I was born, and she had many stories to tell of that move and the adjustment it demanded in her life. Our new home was on the south side of Indianapolis and on a street with very few homes, although it was just two blocks away from her new Catholic church. Mom had always lived on the east side of town until this move and in developed neighborhoods. She told me often that she felt like she was moving “into the hinterlands far away from anything and anyone she had ever known.” Obviously this was a move that had both its ups and downs, but bringing a newborn into a house that was surrounded by naked earth and mud rather than by green grass and shrubs was one of the downers.
Mom grew to like where she lived, but she had some difficulty getting used to the Franciscans who staffed our parish since she had only known diocesan clergy up to this point. Little did she know then that this very son who was about to be born would eventually become a Franciscan himself. Back in those days a woman stayed in the hospital for a week or two after giving birth, so mom was not even present for my baptism. In fact, she really only had a few chances to see the pastor and speak with him before my birth. I once asked her what it was about this priest that she found so different from the priests she had known earlier. She told me as an example that she was shocked when, after making her confession shortly after she returned home from the hospital, he asked her before she left the confessional, “By the way, how’s that new baby doing these days?”
My mother was always affirming of me unless I goofed up or disobeyed. I’m sure she tried to bring out the best in me by telling me not to be afraid of trying new things. Well, one of the new things I decided to try was smoking cigarettes. I was with some of the neighborhood kids one day while I was in sixth grade, and we were playing at a house down the street that was being built. It just so happened that on this Saturday no workers were present, and one of the older boys asked me whether I would like a smoke. It sounded like a great idea, so I took one of his KOOLs, lit it up, and suffered through my first KOOL. We managed to visit our newly-found hideout a few more times the next week, and the KOOLs continued.
Both my mother and father smoked—CHESTERFIELD was their brand. Before long, I decided that I could really smoke without the neighbors, so periodically I would take a few of my parent’s cigarettes and go into my aunt’s yard which was adjacent to ours but up on a hill where I thought no one would ever see me. That was my mistake. My aunt saw me, called my mom and tipped her off to my escapades. Mom sat me down at the breakfast table, told me to have a cigarette with her, and I declined. It didn’t work. She forced me to smoke in front of her all the way to the end of the cigarette, and then told me I’d better not smoke again for at least a number of years. And I never had another cigarette until I was in college.
I owe so much to my mother. Even after I was ordained and could only get home for a visit every couple of months, she was ever the mother, and I was her son. I remember one time when she was in the nursing home, I had the opportunity to be with her from Good Friday through Easter Sunday. When it was time for the evening meal, we went down to the common dining room and sat with two other ladies who were her table mates. Everything was going fine until the entre arrived: it was a piece of delicious meat. Mom was horrified that only meat was available on this Good Friday when we should be fasting and abstaining. She kept apologizing to me, but I told her God would understand, so we both ate what was served to us. After all, I said, St. Francis said we should eat whatever was put before us and not complain!
She was more than willing to share whatever she was thinking and to offer an opinion on almost any topic. She was an avid reader and very interested in politics, so later, when her eyes were such that reading became difficult, she substituted by watching various news programs on television. This made visiting with her a real pleasure because conversation was never lacking. I am so grateful that God gave me her to be my mother.
There are ANGELS God puts on this Earth
who care for us and guide us.
You can feel their love and gentleness
as they walk through life beside us.
They do great things for us every day,
they whisper in our ears,
they even hold us in their hearts
when we are filled with all our fears.
They are always there to give a hug
and try to make us smile.
They treat us with respect and love,
they treat us like their child.
God blessed me with an Angel,
I’m proud to call my own.
She’s been with me throughout my life,
been with me as I’ve grown.
She’s guided me the best she can,
she’s taught me like no other,
and I’m thankful I’m the lucky one
who gets to call her…MOTHER.
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD
The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated forty days after Easter, commemorating the forty days Jesus appeared to his disciples, reassuring them of his Resurrection and continuing to teach them. His ascent to the Father is the final action of the Paschal Mystery and allows the Holy Spirit to come into the world.
Today’s First Reading is one of only two narrative accounts of the Ascension (aside from the single verse in Mark, part of today’s Gospel). The other appears at the end of the Gospel according to Luke (24:44-53). Both were written by the same author and addressed to someone named Theophilus. In Luke’s mind, Jesus’ Ascension into heaven is further proof that he truly was raised from the dead. He also understands it to be the birthday of the Church—hence the teaching about the coming Kingdom of God.
In the Second Reading, the letter writer describes how the Church should live its calling as one Body and one Spirit, committed to one Lord, one faith, and one Baptism. And just as a body has many parts, the Body of Christ has many different kinds of ministers who contribute to the building up of the body.
Although today’s Gospel is most likely a somewhat later addition to the Gospel of Mark, it provides a fitting closure to the Gospel by recalling the appearances of the Risen Christ and recounting his understanding of the disciples’ post-resurrection mission: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel!”
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles recalls the forty days during which the Risen Lord taught his disciples. These disciples witnessed the one who bore the suffering of his passion and death but also divine life. They lived what we are to continue, Pope John II states in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae: “To look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and the sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father: this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us” (#9).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples to carry on his work, proclaiming the Gospel and curing the sick. They are to continue his work throughout the world. Ad gentes states: “The church on earth is by its very nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, it has its origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit” (#2).
For Your Reflection: Do you look to the Holy Spirit to help you understand your faith? How does our parish help you discover your gifts for ministry? Have you reflected on your call to proclaim the Gospel?
AN IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT THE END OF MAY
Some of you are aware that a very important meeting for our Province is taking place from May 29-31 in Saint Louis. We have been studying and praying about whether six of the seven Franciscan Provinces in the United States should merge into forming one Province. Obviously there have been many considerations to this possibility, and now the time has come for each of these six provinces to vote on that proposal. This is the purpose of our meeting at the end of May.
As a result, all but a few of the friars who live at St. Peter’s will be attending this meeting and voting. Therefore, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—May 29, 30 and 31—the church will be open all of those days at our regular hours, but there will be no Masses, confessions, mezzanine or office hours. People will still be able to come to pray, to visit the bookstore, to make deliveries, to attend programs in the auditorium, etc., but all other services will not be available. Please take note of these circumstances and tell your friends as well.
Next week in the bulletin I will expand on what this meeting is all about so that you are kept informed, but I wanted to get this information to you already now so that you can plan ahead. Please pray for us as we approach this most significant time in our Franciscan life.
A LETTER FROM CARDINAL CUPICH
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Mother’s Day is a day we honor and remember the special women in our lives who have nurtured, loved and shaped us into the people we are today. It is through their unconditional love that we begin to understand the depth of Christ’s love for us and his command to share that love with one another.
On Mother’s Day, each of us will have an opportunity to share Christ’s unconditional love with the poor and vulnerable through our gift to the Catholic Charities Mother’s Day Collection. For Catholic Charities, charity is not just about providing material assistance, but also about acting with the same love and mercy that Jesus showed to restore people’s dignity and give them the hope of a brighter future. Catholic Charities counts on our volunteer and financial support to offer comprehensive programs that get to the root cause of suffering, address multiple needs, and help people rebuild their lives for the better.
Pope Francis has used a powerful image of the Church as “field hospitals.” During war, field hospitals are situated right on battlegrounds—close to the wounded who need help. Similarly, as part of the Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Catholic Charities 150 service locations are very much like field hospitals, helping those who are suffering, and located in neighborhoods that have sadly become like real battlegrounds, plagued with violence and despair. Catholic Charities program sites are safe havens in desperate areas and their staff and volunteers are truly ministers of mercy, providing help through a hot meal, a bag of food, a place to live, the care of a child or elderly relative, counseling, job training, job placement, or all of these things. Serving nearly one million people each year, Catholic Charities brings Christ’s love and mercy to the people and places that need it most.
Please accept my sincere gratitude for your past support of the Catholic Charities Mother’s Day Collection, and please consider being as generous as you can again this year. Contributions can be made during the second collection on Mother’s Day, anytime at www.catholiccharities.net/donate, or mail your gift to Catholic Charities, 721 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL 60654. May God bless you and those you love this Mother’s Day and always.
With every good wish, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago
A CHUCKLE FOR YOU
If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, and dry cleaners depressed?
Laundry workers could decrease, eventually becoming depressed and depleted! Even more, bedmakers will be debunked, baseball players will be debased, bulldozer operators will be degraded, organ donors will be delivered, software engineers will be detested, the BVD company will be debriefed, and even musical composers will eventually decompose.
On a more positive note, though, perhaps we can hope politicians will be devoted.