October 15, 2017
This fall we have two wonderful events happening in the Catholic world of the United States, namely, the beatifications of Fr. Stanley Rother and of Fr. Solanus Casey, O.F.M. Capuchin. We already have several individuals who have lived and ministered in the United States who are now proclaimed saints, e.g., St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Junipero Serra, and St. Mother Frances Cabrini, but Fr. Rother and Fr. Casey are the first two males who will be recognized as blessed who were actually born in the United States.
Stanley Rother grew up in a farming community in the town of Okarche, Oklahoma, whose population is 1,300 people. In high school he was the president of the Future Farmers of America, but at the end of his senior year he announced that he felt a call to the priesthood and decided to go to St. John’s Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, for his college years. There he struggled with academics, especially Latin. In fact, he failed his first year of theology and was sent home by the rector of the seminary. Stanley’s bishop in Oklahoma City, however, felt this young man deserved another chance and found him a spot at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Stanley was ordained on May 25, 1963, at the age of 28, for the diocese of Oklahoma City-Tulsa, and served the first five years of his priestly ministry in various Oklahoma assignments. All this changed when he answered the call to serve at the Oklahoma mission in Guatemala. This farmer who loved the land and recognized God in all of creation found his heart’s vocation as a priest to the Tz’utujil Mayan people. St. Pope John XXIII requested in the early 1960s that North American dioceses and religious communities send missionaries to South and Central America, and Fr. Stanley’s diocese responded.
From the onset, these Oklahoman missionaries understood that the Tz’utujil are an agricultural people who retain much of their ancient Mayan culture and pride. Father Rother instantly fell in love with the volatile and stunning land of volcanoes and earthquakes, but above all, with its people. Over his 13 years of service to the people he helped develop a farmers’ co-op, a nutrition center, a school, a hospital clinic, and the first Catholic radio station in the area, which was used for catechesis. But perhaps most importantly, whether fixing a tractor or farming the land, the farmer priest was never afraid to dig in and get his own hands dirty, a trait that was deeply loved by his parishioners.
Although he did not institute the project, Father Rother was also a driving force in developing Tz’utujil as a written language, which led to translations of the liturgy of the Mass and the Lectionary, with the New Testament in Tz’utujil being published after his death. And the same young man who flunked because he could not master Latin became, by the grace of God, the missionary pastor who not only learned Spanish but also became fluent in his parishioners’ native tongue, Tz’utujil.
Once Guatemala’s civil war found its way to peaceful villages surrounding beautiful Lake Atitlan, many people, including Father Rother’s own catechists, began to disappear regularly. Father Rother’s response was to show his people the way of love and peace with his life. He lived his life as a self-offering to God in love of his brothers and sisters. He did it through daily work in the mission, teaching agriculture to simple farmers, educating the children, protecting the youth from forced conscription into the Guatemalan military, and through assisting grieving families in burying their dead whom no one would claim. He lived his life in such a way that it was that life which led to his martyrdom.
On July 12, 1981, at 1:30 in the morning, three Spanish-speaking ladino (non-indigenous) men snuck into his rectory, beating Father Rother and shooting him twice in the head. His body was sent back to Oklahoma for burial, but his heart was entombed under the altar in Santiago, Atitlan, by request of his parishioners. When Franz Rother was told about his son’s death, he responded, “We are real proud of him. He felt his people needed him and he went back.” This Oklahoma priest was one of 13 priests—and the first American priest—slain during Guatemala’s 36-year war, a tragedy that claimed an estimated 140,000 lives. No one has ever been prosecuted for his killing.
Fr. Solanus Casey, Capuchin Franciscan, was born Bernard Francis Casey on November 25, 1870, on a farm near Oak Grove, Wisconsin. He was the sixth child in a family of ten boys and six girls born to Irish immigrant parents. Bernard left the farm to work throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota as a logger, hospital orderly, street car operator, and prison guard. At the age of 21 Bernard entered St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee to study for the diocesan priesthood. Five years later he contemplated a religious vocation. When he was invested in the Capuchin Order in Detroit in 1897, he received the religious name of Solanus.
After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Solanus spent 20 years in New York, Harlem, and Yonkers. In 1924 he was assigned to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit where he worked for 20 years. He spent his life in service of people. At the monastery door as porter he met thousands of people from every age and walk of life and earned recognition as “The Doorkeeper.” He was always ready to listen to anyone at any time, day or night.
During his final illness he remarked, “I’m offering my suffering that all might be one. If only I could see the conversion of the whole world!” His last conscious act was sitting up in bed and saying, “I give my soul to Jesus Christ.” He died at the age of 86 on July 31, 1957 on the same day and at the same hour of his First Holy Mass 53 years earlier.
Father Rother was declared blessed on September 23, 2017, and Fr. Solanus will be declared blessed on November18, 2017. May both of them intercede for us at the throne of God.
TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Expanding on the vineyard theme of last Sunday’s readings, this week we hear about banquets, particularly those associated with the messianic age or the end time when God’s power will be fully manifest in the world.
The First Reading is from a section of Isaiah’s writings called the Apocalypse of Isaiah (chapters 24-27). In it the prophet describes how God will destroy all evil in the heavens and on the earth—in essence, wipe the slate clean—and reestablish God’s kingship over a new creation where there is no more suffering or sadness. Only God’s holy mountain will remain, and in that place all God’s people will celebrate with a banquet of rich foods and with song.
The Responsorial Psalm is a psalm of trust in God, the divine shepherd-king, who protects his people and provides a banquet in celebration of the covenant, even in the time of Israel’s exile. Likewise, in the Second Reading, Paul expresses trust in God’s ability to provide for him, even in difficult times.
The parable of the marriage feast in the Gospel is a further elaboration of the end-time banquet imagery found in the first reading. When the intended guests make light of their invitation and choose not to attend, the king invites everyone, even sinners, filling the banquet room to overflowing. This parable can be easily interpreted as an allegory: the king is God, the servants are God’s prophets, and so forth. The man without the wedding garment represents one who is unprepared to participate in God’s reign. What do you need to do to prepare for God’s reign?
Today’s reading from Isaiah presents a vision of the feast that God has prepared for us. At Mass, we look forward to this day. Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia writes, “The acclamation of the assembly following the consecration appropriately ends by expressing the eschatological thrust which marks the celebration of the Eucharist: ‘until you come in glory.’ The Eucharist is a straining toward the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ” (#18).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the parables help us look at ourselves. We have been invited to the banquet of the Eucharist and that of the heavenly kingdom. Today’s parable may help us consider whether we ready ourselves for either. The Catechism states, “Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. The parables are like mirrors for man” (#546).
For Your Reflection: When you are troubled, do you remember to look to the Lord to shepherd you through your trial? St. Paul seems to treat the ability to live in humble circumstance and in abundance as equal. Do you downplay the value of one over the other? The Lord invites many but few are chosen. How does your preparation for the Eucharist ready you for the heavenly banquet?
(re)ENCOUNTER—OCTOBER 20, 2017
The Archdiocese of Chicago invites the young adults of the diocese to experience (re)ENCOUNTER, a Young Adult Faith Night, on Friday, October 20, at the UIC Pavilion.
(re)ENCOUNTER will be a one-of-a-kind experience where young adults will connect with peers, hear thought-provoking speakers, and engage in prayerful worship that will bring them closer to God. Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, will host several special guests at the event including Mark Wahlberg, actor, producer and committed Catholic, Father Paul Mueller, S.J., Vice Director of the Vatican Observatory, Sister Bethany Madonna, Vocations Director of the Sisters of Life, Joe Melendrez, Catholic musician, and Dina Bair, anchor and reporter from WGN-TV.
The invitation is extended to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, for a night filled with live music, laughter, and meaningful conversations. Doors open at 6:00 P.M. For more information and to register, please visit reencounterchicago.org. Hope to see you there!
WORLD MISSION SUNDAY NEXT WEEKEND
Please read the following letter from Archbishop Cupich in which he writes to us about the importance of World Mission Sunday:
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As members of the Catholic Church, we are called to renew our commitment as missionary disciples on World Mission Sunday. Like Renew My Church, mission ad gentes, or proclaiming the Gospel to those who do not know Christ, reminds us that we have a responsibility to those outside our parish boundaries, our Archdiocese, and even our nation. When we support our world missions together, we build bonds among each other, sustaining of life in Christ, and we are transformed through service and solidarity as Christ’s missionary disciples.
The World Mission Sunday collection, held here on October 21-22, and executed by the Society of the Propagation of the Faith on behalf of Pope Francis, is a global effort to provide for 1,111 mission dioceses across four different continents. Next weekend’s collection supports those with the greatest needs and the missionaries who evangelize and accompany them through the Sacraments while providing pastoral care, education, basic health care, and safe housing.
Let this celebration of World Mission Sunday also be a day to honor the many ways we commit to missionary discipleship. God is persistent and generous with the call to go forth. I pray that every parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago uses World Mission Sunday as an opportunity to be renewed in our commitment to prayer, testimony of life, and the sharing of our gifts. With every good wish, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ.
Cardinal Blasé Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago
OPEN HOUSE CHICAGO 2017
Organized by the Chicago Architectural Foundation, Open House Chicago is a free annual event that takes visitors behind-the-scenes to more than 200 great places and spaces across the city. The seventh-annual Open House will be held this weekend of October 15th and 16th. This city-wide festival is a unique, once-a-year opportunity for the public to experience Chicago’s rich architecture, culture and history by participating in self-guided explorations of the city and its diverse neighborhoods.
This year St. Peter’s will again be participating in the Open House by opening our doors to those who are interested on Sunday, October 15, from 1:30-5:00. We would welcome assistance from any volunteers either to welcome people in the lobby or to show them the church and tell a bit of our history. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Carolyn Jarosz in her office on the lower level of the church or by calling her at 312-853-2376. This would be a great opportunity to meet all kinds of people and to tell them about our church and the people we serve.
A CHUCKLE FOR THE FALL
A gorilla goes into a bar and orders a martini. This totally amazes the bartender, but he thinks, “What the heck, I guess I might as well make the drink.” So he mixes the martini. He then walks back over to give it to the gorilla, and the animal is holding out a twenty dollar bill. Well, now the bartender is just at a loss for words. He can’t believe that a gorilla walked into his bar, ordered a martini, and then actually had a twenty dollar bill to pay for it.
So, in amazement, he takes the twenty and walks to the cash register to make the change. While he’s standing in front of the register, he stops for a second and thinks to himself, “Let me try something here and see if the gorilla notices anything.” He walks back over to the gorilla and hands him a dollar change. The gorilla doesn’t say anything. He just sits there sipping the martini. After a few minutes the bartender just can’t take it anymore.
“You know,” he says to the gorilla, “We don’t get too many gorillas in here.”
And the gorilla replies, “At nineteen dollars a drink, I’m not surprised!”