Having just celebrated one of the biggest American holidays—Thanksgiving, it is appropriate that I take this opportunity to thank all the people who come to St. Peter’s either on weekends or weekdays for Mass and for the many others who stop by for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to see a priest on the mezzanine, to have a spiritual direction session, to visit our Gift Shop, to attend one or several of our fine midday renewal programs, or perhaps just to duck in for a few moments of quiet and prayer. We are so pleased to be open Monday through Friday from 5:30 A.M. until 7:00 P.M. and for most weekend hours for anyone to come in and get away from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. St. Peter’s has been doing this since Labor Day 1953 until the present.
Of course we could not have done this ministry throughout all those years were it not for the dedicated friars who have lived their lives here, ministered indefatigably, given witness to their profession of the Franciscan life through words and actions, and been present to be available to the people of Chicago and beyond in whatever capacity was needed. I am so fortunate to live with a group of friars who truly share all they have and who they are with one another and who work so well together to make our schedule work despite any number of interruptions and surprises. However, our friar staff is aging considerably, and we need younger men to take our place. Might God be calling some who read this article to the Franciscan life? Never count yourself out as a possible candidate to religious life and priesthood. Br. Thom Smith and Fr. Paul Gallagher are just a phone call away to answer your questions: 312-853-2384.
We have a great staff of lay people who come to work day after day and offer their dedication and professional skills so that this ministry runs with few problems. We need the wonderful security personnel: Gilbert, Beau, Bernardo, Tony and Michael, those who work in the Gift Shop: Elisa, Br. Leo, Jim, Theresa, Kathy, Br. John and Br. Jim, Carolyn and James, who keep the programs going in the auditorium, Linda in the business office, as well as Phil, Greg and James in the liturgy department, and Paul, our social worker, who assists the homeless and those in need downstairs. People who many of you do not know but who make our lives so much better in the friary: our two cooks, the chefs’ assistant, the housekeeper, and several individuals who help in the maintenance department. It takes many hands to keep everything running smoothly at least most of the time.
And then there are the hundreds of volunteers who offer their time and talent: the readers, acolytes, thurifers, Communion Ministers, who make our liturgies so meaningful and timely. We could not begin to bring it all together without each and every one of you. We also depend on volunteers to serve as ushers, greeters, those who gather up the worship aids especially after each of the weekend Masses. Our hospitality on the third Sunday of each month works because of the dedication of Bill and Madeleine. Our Annual Gala would never happen unless we had those who serve on the committee, sell the tickets in the lobby, and assist with the setup and the coordination during the event itself. And I cannot forget the men and women who answer the call to clean the church several times a year. With everything each of you does, we ought to be thanking you much more often, but please know that we value you first of all as persons but also for what you contribute to our ministry.
It is true that St. Peter’s is not your traditional parish. We ordinarily do not have weddings and funerals. We do not have a registry of parishioners, nor do we have some of the usual parish committees that are part of most parishes. But we probably have one of the largest groups of Mass goers for miles around when you consider all the people who regularly are here from the suburbs, those who consider this their parish from Chicago proper—near and far—the people from throughout the United States and literally around the world who visit us on weekends, holydays, holidays and on occasion as business, pleasure, vacation or special events bring them to our fair city. We love to think that all of the people mentioned above help each and every one who come through our doors to be welcome, to spend some time with the Lord, to give praise and thanks to God in worship, and to find a place—at least for a little while—to allow God to touch their hearts with love and forgiveness. May God be praised!
SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING
Today, on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate Christ as King of the Universe. The readings are replete with images of God and Christ as shepherd and king of all creation. The reading from the prophet Ezekiel begins at verse 11, after a fiery condemnation of the religious leaders earlier in the chapter. God announces that he will shepherd the people of Israel. He will rescue the lost and heal the broken, but he will destroy those he judges to be bad, because he is the defender of justice and protector of the disadvantaged.
In the Second Reading, Paul is teaching about the resurrection of the body. He likens the resurrected Christ to the first fruits, which the Temple priests offered as a dedication of the entire harvest to God. Thus, as Christ was raised from the dead, we too will be raised. When the end comes, Paul says, and Christ has destroyed all of the forces of evil—even death itself—he will hand over the Kingdom to God, who is Lord of all.
In the Gospel, Matthew portrays the returning Christ as a shepherd-king who will separate the good sheep from the bad ones. The imagery is most likely borrowed from Ezekiel 34, but clearly this is a scene of end-time judgment. And what is the measure by which we will be judged? What we did or did not do for the least of God’s little ones, Jesus says, we did or did not do for him. Truly, love of God is love of neighbor.
Through today’s parable in Matthew’s account, Christ tells his followers that he is found in those we serve. Pope John Paul II referenced today’s Gospel in Ecclesia in America as he spoke of the ways to encounter Christ. The pope stated, “The Scriptures and the Eucharist are places of encounter with Christ….The Gospel text concerning the final judgment (cf. Matthew 25:31-46) indicates that we must not neglect a third place of encounter with Christ: ‘the persons, especially the poor, with whom Christ identifies himself’” (#12).
Caring for others is to be done both locally and globally. We are not only to care for those in the community where we live but to consider systemic causes to hunger, Pope Benedict said in Caritas in veritate. In that document, the pope states: “Feed the hungry is an ethical imperative for the universal Church. Hunger is not so much dependent on lack of material things as on shortage of social resources. The problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed within a long-term perspective, eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries” (#27).
For Your Reflection: Do you seek out the Lord when you feel lost? Are you able to see Christ in the stranger? How does our faith assembly help the Church address root causes of poverty?
‘TIS (ALMOST) THE SEASON
Remember getting ready for Christmas when you were a child? From decorating the tree to baking cookies, each moment brought excitement and joy. Preparing for Christmas can be just as joyful as it was then. Don’t let this be just another Advent where you get distracted and busy.
Rediscover the joy of the season with Best Advent Ever, a free email program that will help you prepare for Christmas in a way that will allow you to have a Christmas as memorable and joyful as when you were a child. You will receive short inspirational videos, practical tips, and real-life stories of hope sent to you each day at your email address.
This is a completely free program. Sign up at DynamicCatholic.com/SignUp, but do it as soon as possible because the beginning of Advent is only one week away. I think you and your family will benefit greatly from this experience.
IRA CHARITABLE ROLLOVER
Don’t miss this opportunity to make a difference with a tax-free gift from your IRA to St. Peter’s Church by year’s end. If you are 701/2 or older, you can contribute up to $100,000 directly from your IRA to St. Peter’s, without including the amount in gross income. For your gift to qualify this year, the gift needs to be made by December 31, 2017.
For stocks held more than one year that have increased in value, you will avoid capital-gains taxes by gifting all or a portion of the stock to St. Peter’s. If you would like to get more information about a stock transfer, please contact either your tax professional or Mr. Peter Wells at St. Peter’s regarding the tax savings.
We would appreciate you thinking of either of these possibilities as the end of the year approaches. We are dependent upon this kind of charitable remembrance as well as a mention of St. Peter’s in your will or estate since it costs c. $25,000 a week to keep our doors open, yet our regular weekly contributions seldom reach more than $10,000.
FOR OUR ONLINE DONORS
You should have received a notice from WeShare, our new online giving program owned by Liturgical Publications. Any questions, changes or requests for information regarding your former Parish Pay account should be directed to Liturgical Publications at 800-950-9952. They have been very helpful during our transition period, so feel free to contact them.
YOUNG ADULTS AT ST. PETER’S
We invite young adults between the ages of 20-40 to come to the weekly sessions of Saint Peter’s Young Adults on Mondays beginning at 5:30 P.M. with some refreshments and continuing with some input and discussion at 6:00 P.M. Once a month the group meets in the friars’ chapel for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and reflection on a passage from the Scriptures. Often there is faith sharing and discussion of topics current in the group. Other times there are elements of fun, e.g., an outing in the city such as a baseball game or skating at Millennium Park. Periodically there are also service opportunities at Franciscan Outreach. We promise that each session will conclude by 7:00 P.M. so that you can plan the remainder of your evening according to your needs. Coming to these meetings is a great way to meet new friends and to deepen your Catholic faith. You may stop down to the Saint Clare auditorium at any time; you don’t have to be a member of the group from the very beginning.
It may be that some people are unfamiliar with the fact that we have a priest on call Monday through Friday from 10:30-6:00. What this means is that if you have any reason to talk privately with one of the priests, you may stop at the Front Office and ask the receptionist to do so. He will then get in touch with the friar assigned for that time, invite you to go to the mezzanine via the stairs off the lobby, and the friar will be there shortly. The only time you might have to wait is if someone has just come before you, and the priest is already occupied.
What are some of the things that people might want to see the priest on the mezzanine? Some wish to go to confession face-to-face rather than behind the screen in the confessional. Others have a problem they wish to discuss, and the confessional is not the appropriate place to talk about it. Some might have a theological question, or there might be an issue in their family they want to discuss, or they are having a difficult time due to a death in the family. Sometimes we are asked to fill out a witness form for an upcoming Catholic wedding or to help someone learn a bit more about the annulment process in the archdiocese. At any rate, we want to be of service, and we will try to be there for you if we can possibly help.
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 this 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. The next weekend for the Chicagoland area is 12/1-3, 2017. 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!
A CHUCKLE FOR YOUR PLEASURE
Little Pete came home from the playground with a bloody nose, black eye, and torn clothing. It was obvious he had been in a bad fight and lost. While his father was patching him up, he asked his son what had happened.
“Well, Dad,” said Pete. “I challenged Larry to a duel. And, you know, I gave him his choice of weapons.”
“Uh-huh,” said the father, “that seems fair.”
“I know, but I never thought he’d choose his sister!”