The month of October is associated with many things: the baseball season is moving through the playoffs zeroing in on the World Series, the season of fall has arrived with the cooler temperatures, beautiful colors on the trees in the parks and forests, and excitement by children (and many adults these days) that Halloween is just around the corner with parties and treats, here at St. Peter’s the great celebration of the Solemnity of Saint Francis with the Transitus, the Solemn Mass, and solemn Vespers, and college football games that often bring great memories for alumni and alumnae about their alma maters.
But October also reminds us that this month is Respect Life Month in the Catholic Church. It gives us a chance to reflect on various aspects of what “Respect Life” actually entails. In the midst of so much going on in our world it is easy to either forget or just to pass over many elements that are fundamental to our faith life. So that we might put all this in perspective, I offer the thoughts of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York City, for your consideration and reflection.
My dear Friends in Christ:
The month of October is usually observed by the Catholic Church in the United States as Respect Life Month. We are called to cherish, defend, and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between.
Yet this year, as we approach Respect Life Month, our hearts are heavy with revelations of how those who should be most trustworthy have not only failed in this regard but have inflicted immense evil. As USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo expressed, “The Body of Christ is lacerated.”
At such a time as this, we become even more aware of the need for messengers of God’s love and instruments of His healing. We realize again, with renewed urgency, our personal call to help others encounter God’s transforming life-giving love and to defend the sanctity of every person’s life, at every stage and in every circumstance.
This year’s Respect Life theme is “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent,” highlighting our call to build a culture of life as missionary disciples. Drawing upon the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego, this theme is briefly unpacked in a short reflection. I humbly invite you to read and reflect on it this Respect Life Month (www.usccb.org/respect-life-reflection). There are also many other resources at www.usccb.org/respectlife that are available for use this month and throughout the year.
In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul tells us, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ….If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it” (1Cor 12:12,26).
We are called and sent to be messengers of God’s love, treating one another as cherished and chosen by Him. In doing so, we help build a culture that respects all human life. The Body of Christ needs you. The world needs you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities
If you know of someone who has had an abortion and is now in need of healing and forgiveness, you might want to read an article entitled “Bridges of Mercy for Healing after Abortion” which you can find on the USCCB’s website under the heading “Pro-Life Activities.” You might also recommend the Project Rachel Ministry, whose national toll-free number is 1-888-456-HOPE (4673) or you may consult www.HopeAfterAbortion.org. Help is always available; we just need to know where to find it.
As we reflect on all aspects of respecting life, let’s also not forget the poor and disadvantaged, the sick—especially those who are homebound, in hospitals and in nursing homes—the elderly, who in particular have so few to visit them and to care for them, those who are estranged from their children, and people who are lonely and forgotten. Those who are depressed, struggling financially because of being unemployed, those who are mentally ill either at home or in a psychiatric facility—all are deserving of our care and concern not only during this Respect Life Month but always to the extent possible.
TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In embracing our human nature completely, Jesus, the Son of God, also had to experience suffering and death. Our First Reading today, from the most well-known of the four Servant Songs of Isaiah, looks to the servant’s future suffering when he will take our guilt on himself for the sake of our salvation.
Today’s Gospel passage shows that Jesus, the Son of Man, fulfills this servant song. In its context in Mark’s Gospel account, Jesus is approaching Jerusalem. Immediately prior to today’s reading, Jesus spoke for the third and final time in great detail about his coming death and Resurrection. The Gospel opens with two of Jesus’ closest disciples, James and John, responding to what Jesus had said by asking him: “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” They are thinking in human terms and are looking for glory. Jesus instructs them that they have misunderstood his whole message. Discipleship entails embracing suffering and service just as he is doing. The hallmark of a disciple is humble service: “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the servant of all.”
Speaking about himself, Jesus demonstrates that his life’s mission embraces giving his life in service, “as a ransom for many.” In a metaphorical way, Jesus states very simply and clearly that the salvation of humanity comes at the cost of his life. Out of love for humanity and at the cost of his life, Jesus brought humanity from sin into a bond of love with his Father. Humanity’s salvation cost him his life. Jesus teaches us a new path to greatness: humble service. True discipleship means following the model of Jesus’ path of suffering and service.
James and John desired that Jesus give them the hope of sitting on either side of him when he is glorified. They seem to desire to bask in Jesus’ glory, but what Jesus offers those who follow him is a share in eternal life. With that hope in eternal life, Christians move forward, no matter what they confront. Pope Benedict XVI states in Spe salvi, “Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope. The present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal” (#1).
In the Responsorial Psalm, the cantor sings, “May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us, who have put our hope in you.” If hope is put anywhere else but in God, it is misplaced, Pope Benedict XVI says in Spe salvi, #27. He states: “Anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope. Man’s great, true hope which holds firm can only be God, God who has loved us and who continues to love us ‘to the end,’ until all ‘is accomplished’” (cf. John 13:1 and 19:30).
The Responsorial Psalm tells of the Lord’s love for justice and right and of his eyes being on those who hope for his kindness. The Aparecida document tells of the necessity of choosing the ways of God over ways that ignore God. “Today a choice must be made between paths that lead to life and paths that lead to death. Paths of death are paths that mark a culture without God, driven by the idols of power, wealth, and momentary pleasure. Paths of true and full life for all, paths of eternal life, are those traced by the faith. This is the life that God shares with us out of his gratuitous love, for ‘it is the love that gives life’” (#13).
For Your Reflection: How could you look to God as your help and shield, as the Responsorial Psalm states? What does it mean to you that Jesus was tested in every way that a human being can be tested? How would you like to respond when you catch yourself looking for honors as James and John did?
A LETTER FROM CARDINAL CUPICH
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In the Gospel reading for World Mission Sunday, Jesus reminds us of His mission “to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Through Renew My Church, we embrace this mission in which He calls us to serve others and give new life in Christ. In celebrating World Mission Sunday, we as members of the Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago proclaim the life-giving presence of Jesus Christ throughout our world.
The World Mission Sunday collection, celebrated worldwide on October 21, provides vital assistance to over 1,000 economically poor dioceses responding to spiritual and material needs across Africa, Asia, and remote areas of Latin America and the Pacific Islands. It also resources churches and religious congregations that accompany people facing poverty, violent conflict, and displacement in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe.
It is my hope that every parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago embraces World Mission Sunday as an opportunity to join with the global Church in making disciples throughout our world as we are called to do during the Renew My Church process. May our witness inspire others in our Chicago community, especially young people, to embrace the call to love and follow Christ.
With every good wish, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Blasé J. Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago
BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE
Once again this year we will have a Book of Remembrance so that you may write in relatives and good friends who have died. This book will be in the rear of church from now until All Souls Day on November 2, when it will be brought up in procession to the St. Joseph Altar during Solemn Vespers on that day. The book will remain there during the entire month of November, and those who are written in the book will be remembered in the Masses celebrated at the main altar throughout November. Please be judicious in deciding the number of names you place in the book so that there will be room for others to also take advantage of this opportunity.
WORDS FOR THE WISE OF HEART
Living a simple life is about minimizing so that you have space to breathe. It’s about doing with less, because you know that doing more is not equivalent to being joyous. It’s about finding happiness in the simple things and being content in the moment. You might want to consider these five possibilities as you plan your future.
- Step out of stress and struggle: Know that you have a choice to do so in every moment. Do not get attached to anything to the extent that instead of giving you pleasure and comfort, it becomes a concern for you. You must know that you are enough and that nothing else outside of you makes you complete.
- Reduce clutter: If you are attached to sentimental items, you won’t be able to let go of clutter. If you are attached to a certain lifestyle, you will not be able to let go of a lot of stuff.
- Do one thing at a time: Be it work, answering a call or message, washing dishes, reading an article, do it with your complete attention. Be fully present as you do it. Drop your multitasking hat and work more on the quality of each task at hand.
- Find happiness in a few simple things: These include painting, doodling, writing and reading, learning something new, meditating, reaching out to loved ones and spending quality time with people you care about. Let go of everything your mind has fixated upon and enjoy the simple activities which involve zero costs and no feeling of possession.
- Know what you want and say no to the rest: Saying no and knowing when to say yes is the key to simple joy in life. Know this—if you are saying yes to or investing your time and energy into something, it must be in alignment with the agenda of your soul. If not, have the courage to deny the same.
CHUCKLE FOR THE FALL SEASON
Three mice are sitting at a table in a pretty rough neighborhood late at night trying to impress each other about how tough they are.
The first mouse turns to the second mouse and says, “When I see a mousetrap, I lie on my back and set it off with my foot. When the bar comes down, I catch it in my teeth, bench press it twenty times to work up an appetite, and then make off with the cheese.”
The second mouse replies, “Yeah, well, when I see rat poison, I collect as much as I can, take it home, grind it up to a powder, and add it to my coffee each morning so I can get going for the rest of the day.
The first mouse and the second mouse then turn to the third mouse. The third mouse lets out a long sigh and says to the first two, “I don’t have time for this. I’ve got a date with the cat!”