November 12, 2017
Some months ago Pope Francis created a World Day of the Poor, which beginning this year and continuing into the future to be celebrated on the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. For the current year that would be on November 19th. He also declared in that announcement that he wanted every parish, if at all possible, to have several events in the week before in order to prepare the people for the actual celebration. Let me quote just a small part of his letter for this occasion:
“We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our occasional volunteer work, or of impromptu acts of generosity that appease our conscience. However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people’s needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life. Our prayer and our journey of discipleship and conversion find the confirmation of their evangelic authenticity in precisely such charity and sharing. This way of life gives rise to joy and peace of soul, because we touch with our own hands the flesh of Christ. If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist. The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. Saint John Chrysostom’s admonition remains ever timely: ‘If you want to honor the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honor the Eucharistic Christ with silk vestments, and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness.’
“We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.
“Let us never forget that, for Christ’s disciples, poverty is above all a call to follow Jesus in his own poverty. It means walking behind him and beside him, a journey that leads to the beatitude of the Kingdom of heaven. Poverty means having a humble heart that accepts our creaturely limitations and sinfulness and thus enables us to overcome the temptation to feel omnipotent and immortal. Poverty is an interior attitude that avoids looking upon money, career and luxury as our goal in life and the condition of our happiness. Poverty instead creates the conditions for freely shouldering our personal and social responsibilities, despite our limitations, with trust in God’s closeness and the support of his grace. Poverty, understood in this way, is the yardstick that allows us to judge how best to use material goods and to build relationships that are neither selfish nor possessive (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, ## 25-45).”
What we have decided to do this week in order to prepare for the World Day of the Poor and to follow Pope Francis’ request for each parish to assist people to get ready for the celebration next weekend is the following:
On Wednesday at all the Masses we will use prayers from the Roman Missal “For Persecuted Christians.” You probably are aware that in many countries throughout the world Christians are being persecuted either by becoming victims of violence such as their lives being threatened or the churches are being burned. They are facing all kinds of horrible situations which are putting their lives in danger. As a result, many are asking to emigrate to other countries where they will find welcome and safety. The homilies on this day will focus on immigration reform as a result and what our bishops have stated about this necessity going forward.
On Thursday, at all the Masses we will use the prayers from the Roman Missal entitled “For Refugees and Exiles.” To some extent this is similar from the above, but the focus will be on the importance of trying to be open to the needs of people who have been forced from their homelands due to war, drug trafficking, etc. These refugees are in dire straits and are in need of at least temporary housing, food and health care. What is our Christian response?
On Friday, we will have a presentation down in our auditorium from 12:10 to 12:50 by Paul Guthrie, our social worker who works with the homeless on a daily basis. He and several of his colleagues will share with us some of the statistics of homelessness in Chicago, what he has learned from his personal experience dealing with the poor and needy, what is available at our homeless shelter—the House of Mary and Joseph—and the various services at the headquarters of Franciscan Outreach called the Marquard Center. You may even meet one of the clients of the Center who will tell his story of how his life has changed as a result of the help he has received.
We hope that all of these opportunities will prepare us to benefit from the World Day of the Poor next weekend. Do join us for any and/all of the events above.
THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In contrast to last Sunday’s readings that call us to take responsibility for our wrongdoings, this Sunday’s readings invite us to contemplate the resplendent wonder of one day being able to stand in God’s presence. The First Reading is King Solomon’s description of Lady Wisdom, a personification of the Spirit of God that animates all of life and makes it possible for creation to be at one with God. Those who seek Wisdom will find her very near to them, he says, and those who allow themselves to be found by her will discover perfect understanding.
In the Second Reading, Paul consoles members of the Church in Thessalonica who fear that their deceased loved ones are lost because of the delay of the Parousia (Greek, “coming,” referring to the return of Christ at the end of time). Paul had a vivid idea of the Parousia and paints a delightful image of what awaits the faithful—a marvelous celebration in the sky where all the faithful, living and dead, revel in Christ’s presence forever. Like many early believers, he expected the Parousia to occur during his lifetime.
Today’s Gospel recounts the parable of the ten virgins or bridesmaids. Often in the Bible, wedding imagery implies the messianic banquet at the end time. Here the bridegroom represents Christ, and the virgins likely represent Jesus’ followers, who are awaiting his return. Some are wise and have kept themselves ready, but others are foolish, failing to be prepared for the bridegroom’s return. While we might feel sorry for the foolish virgins who are barred from the celebration, everyone must take responsibility for their readiness.
Wisdom, we hear today, is “readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.” Seeking wisdom is encouraged through careful reading of the Bible. Quoting Dei Verbum, #112, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #133, explains that the Church “exhorts all the Christian faithful” to learn about Christ through reading the Scriptures.
In the parable from Matthew’s account of the Gospel, the Lord tells the virgins knocking at the door that he does not know them. The opportunities to come to know God through prayer, the sacraments, and Scripture are plentiful. Since no one knows the “day nor the hour,” as the parable states, coming to know the Lord should not be delayed. The Catechism teaches that Christ, the great teacher, gives us important lessons to which wise readers of the Bible must pay attention (##110-119).
For Your Reflection: How do you seek wisdom? Do you show God appreciation for the kindnesses you have received? Where does your relationship with the Lord fall on your priority list?
COMMUNAL ANOINTING OF THE SICK
You may recall that we recently announced that we would be offering this sacrament four times a year instead of just two. We now we will celebrating this sacrament during the months of February, May, August and November. The November date is this coming Friday, November 17, during the 1:15 Mass. Anyone who is about to have a surgery, who is undergoing serious tests with a physician, who suffers from a chronic disease such as diabetes, difficulty breathing, undergoing cancer treatments, or who is over the age of 62 is invited to receive the sacrament during this Mass.
We ask that those who wish to receive the sacrament be present at least five to ten minutes before the beginning of Mass so that you can be properly seated throughout the church in order to allow the priests to come easily for the laying on of hands and for the anointing with the oil of the sick, both of which will take place after the homily. We look forward to seeing many of you here on Friday, November 17, at the 1:15 Mass. You might want to alert some of your friends and co-workers of this wonderful opportunity to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick since it brings the healing power of Christ to us in this special way.
CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Next weekend there will be a second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. CCHD was founded in 1970 by the Catholic bishops of the United States as their domestic anti-poverty program. Designed to address the policies and structures that perpetuate poverty to create sustainable solutions, CCHD empowers poor and marginalized people to join together and make decisions to improve their lives and neighborhoods.
For example, with your support of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, El Pajaro Community Development Corporation is empowering Latino and Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs like Marleny. Marleny came to the United States from El Salvador, escaping violence and an unsafe situation. She had a dream to start a pupuseria restaurant and to serve traditional Salvadoran food and support her family. She entered the Business Education and Loan Program at El Pajaro CDC and in October 2014 opened Pupuseria Marleny’s. With the support and education she received, her business has been so successful that she has already opened a second restaurant. The restaurants have allowed Marleny to provide gainful employment to five new workers and help revitalize her community.
To learn more about the Collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, visit www.usccb.org/cchd/collection.
A SINCERE THANK YOU
The Brother Jacoba Community, one of the Secular Franciscan fraternities at St. Peter’s, had a bake sale on the 12th of October for the benefit of the victims of the many recent natural disasters that have taken place. They raised $422.00, which is being sent to Catholic Relief Services for distribution to where it is needed most. They thank the many people who stopped to buy some goodies, and a special shout-out goes to those who donated something without buying anything. God bless all.
Also the Franciscan Friars from Brazil, who were here this past Tuesday to tell us of their ministry and the challenges they try to address in their part of the world, want to thank everyone for your kind words as well as for your donations. They were pleased to meet so many of the people who regularly come to St. Peter’s and who are so generous in their response to missionaries working in other parts of the world.
If you have not yet sent in your gift with the envelope you received from them in the lobby, please do so as soon as possible. God bless you for your generosity.
MINISTERS AT THE ALTAR
St. Peter’s would never be able to function without wonderful people who volunteer for our ministry, serving as readers, acolytes, thurifers and Communion ministers at weekday and weekend Masses. Many people who come to St. Peter’s may never have considered serving at the altar in some capacity, but I want to invite you to look at that possibility. Even though it may seem that we have plenty of ministers already, we could use more. Individuals go on vacation, have work responsibilities that take them away, become ill, are transferred from the Loop workplace, or retire and therefore do not get downtown as regularly. When any of those circumstances come into play, we must try to find a temporary or a permanent replacement.
We are very much in need of additional ministers for the 12:30 and 6:00 P.M. Sunday Masses. If you volunteer, it does not mean that you would have to be here every Sunday. You may wish to only serve one or two Sundays a month and, if so, you would be scheduled accordingly. Usually one who serves as an acolyte, a reader or a thurifer would also be trained as a Communion Minister as well.
If you would like more information or are ready to volunteer, please contact Mr. James Kapellas at 312-853-2418. We appreciate you considering this possibility, and we think you will come to an even deeper understanding of the Eucharist as a result.
PRAYING VESPERS AT ST. PETER’S
We invite you to join us for Vespers (Evening Prayer) in church on most Mondays and Wednesdays shortly after the conclusion of the 5:00 P.M. Mass. This is a common prayer with both the friars and laity together praying this liturgical hour of the Church. We provide the book in which the prayer can be found; all you have to do is bring yourself and a desire to join with people around the world who pray this prayer every single day. We are always finished by 6:00, so you should be able to make your train or your bus if you decide to join us. Just come up to the front of church by the St. Joseph altar, and we will show you how the prayer is recited. We hope many people will consider this way of ending your day on a pleasant note.
A CHUCKLE FOR THE FALL
A Buddhist monk walks up to a hot dog vendor and says, “Make me one with everything.”
After a brief chuckle at the monk’s joke, the vendor hands him his hot dog with everything and says, “That’ll be $4.00 please.”
The monk hands over a $10.00 bill and waits for his change, but the vendor just stares back at him, Awkwardly the monk asks, “What about my change?”
“Ah,” replies the hot dog vendor. “Change must come from within!”