September 16, 2018
A very important gathering for the Church will take place in Rome in the next couple of weeks, something that many of us may not have heard too much about. On October 6, 2016, Pope Francis announced that the theme of the Fifteenth Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops would be “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” and that this Synod would take place from October 3-28, 2018.
The work of the Synod began immediately with the drafting of the Preparatory Document, which was published on January 13, 2017, together with a “Letter to Young People” by the Holy Father. This document included a Questionnaire, mainly addressed to Bishops’ Conferences, with fifteen questions for everybody and three specific questions for each continent, as well as a request to share three “best practices.”
From September 11-15, 2017, an International Seminar on the Condition of Youth in the World took place, with the participation of many experts and young people, that helped focus on the situation of young people today from a scientific standpoint.
Besides these initiatives aimed at involving the entire Church, there have been several opportunities to listen to the voice of young people themselves, so as to make them key players right from the very beginning. First of all, a multilingual Online Questionnaire was prepared and translated by several Bishops’ Conferences, and replies were received from more than 100,000 young people. The wealth of material collected is remarkable. Next, the Pre-Synodal Meeting took place in Rome from March 19-24, 2018, ending on Palm Sunday, when a Final Document was delivered to the Holy Father. About 300 young people from five continents participated as well as fifteen thousand more through social media. This event, which was the expression of the Church’s wish to listen to all young people, without exception, garnered a great deal of attention.
The material collected through these four main sources—together with the “Remarks” that were sent directly to the General Secretariat of the Synod—is certainly quite extensive. With the support of several experts, it was thoroughly analyzed, meticulously summarized and then presented in this “Working Document.” This text is arranged in three parts and addresses the themes in a way that reflects the program of the Synod Assembly in October, based on the discernment method: Part I, under the heading “recognizing,” brings together, in five chapters with different perspectives, a variety of situations in which we listen to reality and take stock of the situation of young people; Part II, under the heading “interpreting,” provides in four chapters some interpretative keys for the decisive issues submitted to the Synod for discernment; Part III, geared towards “choosing,” gathers different elements in four chapters, to help Synod participants decide on what directions to follow and which decisions to make.
The text ends with a significant focus on the theme of holiness, for the Synod Assembly to recognize this as “the most attractive face of the Church” and to be able to communicate it to all young people today.
It is while this Synod is in progress that Pope Francis will formally recognize as saints Blesseds Oscar Romero, Pope Paul VI, and four others on October 14. Another of those to be canonized is Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio, who was born on April 13, 1817, in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Both of his parents died when he was an infant, and his maternal grandmother, who raised him, died when he was 9. An uncle took him under his guardianship and had the young boy work for him in his blacksmith shop. However, the work was too strenuous for a boy his age, and he developed a problem in his leg, which became gangrenous.
A military colonel took care of Sulprizio, who was eventually hospitalized in Naples. The young man faced tremendous pain with patience and serenity and offered up his sufferings to God. He died in Naples at the age of 19. He was declared blessed in 1963 by Blessed Paul VI, who will be canonized together with the teen. During the Beatification ceremony, Blessed Paul had said, “Nunzio Sulprizio will tell you that the period of youth should not be considered the age of free passions, of inevitable falls, of invincible crises, of decadent pessimism, of harmful selfishness. Rather, he will tell you how being young is a grace.”
It is important that we all pray for the success of this upcoming Synod because it is so timely for the good of the Church and for everyone to underscore how valuable our relationship with today’s young people is both for the good of society and for the Church. We have always recognized that our youth are the hope for the future. We want them to explore their relationship with God and with one another. We want them to come to know their strengths and weaknesses, their gifts and blessings. We want them to become good citizens so that they may take their rightful place in today’s world. This Synod is meant to address all of these elements and hopefully to show our young people how they can contribute in so many meaningful ways now and in the future.
TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“Who do people say that I am?” Jesus poses this question to his disciples on his journey through Caesarea Philippi. It elicits Peter’s acknowledgment that Jesus is the Messiah. For centuries, Israel had looked forward to God fulfilling his promise to King David by raising up another great leader to restore Israel’s kingdom (2Samuel 7). These hopes had become clouded in political and earthly expectations. Peter’s response, in unambiguous terms, “You are the Christ (or the Messiah),” gives Jesus the opportunity to offer a different understanding. Jesus says that he has come not to establish an earthly kingdom in power, but rather a spiritual kingdom in weakness. God’s Kingdom will be established through Jesus’ death and Resurrection.
The First Reading, from the third of Isaiah’s “Servant Songs,” belongs to another tradition pointing to the Messiah’s coming in humiliation and suffering. Jesus draws upon this tradition in referring to his ministry of suffering and death on behalf of God’s people.
Peter fails to take this tradition into account when he tells Jesus not to talk about suffering and death. He is utterly perplexed and alarmed, for Peter believed that the Messiah would come in power and glory. When Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan,” he is referring to Satan in the Book of Job, where Satan, as the name actually means, is God’s adversary. Jesus reinforces this by saying that Peter’s thoughts are human ways of thinking, not God’s way.
A further challenge emerges for Jesus’ followers from his revelation that he is going to suffer and die. His followers’ lives will embrace the same path of suffering, death, and Resurrection. As true Christians, our lives too will share in Jesus’ redemptive suffering.
Peter did not understand that the Messiah would suffer, so he rebuked Jesus for speaking of his suffering and death. Sometimes the faithful are surprised by their experiences and become unsure of their faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out that it is valuable to turn to our ancestors in faith. “Our experiences of evil and suffering can shake our faith. It is then that we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, to the Virgin Mary who walked into the ‘night of faith’ (Lumen gentium, #58) in sharing the darkness of her son’s suffering and death” (##164-65).
By suffering and dying for us, Jesus provides a path of holiness for his followers. When Christians are beset with suffering, they can unite their suffering with Jesus’. Gaudium et spes states, “The Son of God ‘loved and gave Himself up for me’ (Galatians 2:20). By suffering for us, he not only gave us an example so that we might follow in his footsteps (see Matthew 16:24), but he also opened up a way. If we follow this path, life and death are made holy and acquire a new meaning” (#22).
For Your Reflection: When have you regarded the Lord as your help? How do your works demonstrate your faith? Who do you say that Jesus is?
REVERENCING THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
You may remember that some time ago Cardinal Cupich reminded us of the practice of bowing before we receive the Consecrated Host and the Precious Blood at Communion time. Although I don’t pay attention to how many do this on a regular basis, it seems to me that most of the people who come to St. Peter’s do this in order to reverence what we are about to receive. I thank you for observing this practice.
What I do not think we all do so well is genuflecting before we enter the church as we go into one of the pews and doing the same when we are about to leave the church. Perhaps we are just forgetful or maybe we are not as aware that the reason for this practice is our acknowledgment of our belief in the reality of the Blessed Sacrament housed in the tabernacle. Our genuflection (or bow if our knees are not as flexible as they once were) reminds us that Jesus is there even though we do not physically see him. It also is a great sign to others in the church of our belief and of our outward sign of reverence. If by chance you have become somewhat lazy in this regard, now would be a good time to become more attentive. Thank you so much.
ATTENTION YOUNG ADULTS (20-40)!!!
St. Peter’s Young Adults (SPYA) is starting up again, and we would love to see YOU here! We gather every Monday from 5:30-7:00 P.M. in the St. Clare Auditorium (also known as the basement of the church), and we spend some time checking in and praying and doing some faith sharing. We also have some snacks and drinks every week. Throughout the year we sponsor a couple of retreats, and we host Theology on Tap every summer. So what are you doing on Mondays? Come and check us out!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call or text Father Ed at 773-892-4134.
A FRANCISCAN VOCATION?
On Thursday, August 30, twelve young men officially began their discernment and formation as postulants for the Franciscans in the United States. The postulancy is housed in Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. During this year of postulancy these men receive classes about the Franciscan life, the history of the Franciscan Order, basis catechesis of the Catholic faith, doing ministry at various locations in the D.C. area, and living in community.
The new postulants come from various geographical areas throughout the United States, three were born outside our borders (El Salvador, Mexico and Columbia), ten are in their 20s, and all believe that God is calling them to a deeper relationship with the Lord by living the Franciscan way of life. We are most pleased to welcome these twelve new candidates, and we pray that they will persevere over the coming month and years.
Could God be calling one of you now reading about their journey? God calls each of us to a particular vocation in life; it is up to us to be open to God’s call, whether that be marriage, the single life, religious life and/or priesthood, etc. If you would like to learn more about the possibility of becoming a Franciscan, please call Brother Thom Smith at 312-853-2384, or tlk with any of the friars here at St. Peter’s, or visit the vocation website at www.befranciscan.com.
2018 ANNUAL CATHOLIC APPEAL
Today we wish to recognize those who not only support our parish regularly but also who have made a gift or pledge to the 2018 Annual Catholic Appeal of the Archdiocese of Chicago. On behalf of those who will be served by your contributions, thank you to all who have already completed their pledge payments as well as to those who are still making payments. Remember that when our parish exceeds its goal (and we have already done that), any additional funds received are returned for use in our parish.
When each of our individual gifts is combined with the gifts of thousands of other parishioners throughout the Archdiocese, each contributor makes a very real difference in the ability of the Archdiocese to provide ministries and services. Thank you again for your support.
SECOND COLLECTION NEXT WEEKEND
On September 22-23 there will be a second collection in all parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago to help defray the costs of educating and forming diocesan seminarians at all stages of their preparation for the priesthood. This includes those who are studying English as a second language, those at St. Joseph Seminary College on the campus of Loyola University, and those studying theology at Our Lady of the Lake University in Mundelein. Please come prepared to make a contribution for this important work of the Archdiocese.
A CHUCKLE FOR THE SEASON
“Chow looks wonderful,” I told the mess sergeant, a large, intimidating man. “I’d love seconds.”
“You’ll get the same as everyone else,” he growled as he chucked food on my tray. “Now move it!”
After finishing the edible portion of my meal, I dumped the rest in the garbage, accidentally tossing in my silverware. While leaning into the trash can to look for my knife and fork, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
It was the mess sergeant. “It’s all right, son,” he said. “You can grab seconds!”