Throughout the summer months right up to the present time I have seen all kinds of advertisements on television for vacation packages to various parts of the world for individuals and families to spend time at a certain spot to enjoy the beach and the clear water, the amenities of a great hotel or beach home, and then come back home refreshed from the sunshine and the ocean, lake or swimming pool. I also have noticed more and more Water Parks springing up throughout the Midwest to entice families to choose them as an alternative to the crowds elsewhere. Television channels here in Chicago are consistently showing crowds of people at the beaches and parks along Lake Michigan, while inland swimming pools are filled with tons of people of all ages escaping the heat and humidity by enjoying the water.
Yet countless sad stories can be told about the great numbers of people in large parts of the world today who thirst anxiously for safe water to drink. Here at home where a decent supply of drinking water is taken almost for granted (although more and more we are finding that lead has crept into that water from the corroding pipes through which it flows), it can be hard to fathom these stories. Is there still a need for the corporal work of mercy that calls for giving drink to the thirsty?
The truth about the thirst for water in the 21st century strikes a sensitive nerve in the Christian community, where tradition honors water as a powerful sign of goodness and life. It always is remembered among Christians that Jesus asked the woman at the well in Samaria to give him a drink and then proceeded to tell her that whoever “drinks the water I shall give will never thirst” again (Jn 4:7, 14).
Water is a life-giving force. The water of baptism stands as a dynamic sign for Christians that Christ is a giver of life. Through baptism, his people are mystically joined to his body in life-giving ways meant to influence the entire course both of their physical and spiritual existence in this world. But the water of baptism is more than a sign of new life for baptized individuals. It confers a mandate on them to become life-givers themselves.
The simple fact is that no one lives, grows or thrives without water. So the profound thirst today for healthful water to drink is a confounding reality. It delivers the message that even in these times of stunning advancements in technology, communications, education and medicine, even the most basic of the corporal works of mercy cannot be set aside. No, the thirst for water is not obsolete or even rare today. Pope Francis attests to this in Laudato Si’, on “Care for Our Common Home,” his encyclical on the environment. Giving care to the planet and to the poor requires that close attention be paid to the state of the world’s drinking water (##27-31).
The encyclical turns our attention to the thirst of people living in profound poverty. “Our world has a grave social debt toward the poor who lack access to drinking water because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity. It is a debt that can be paid for partly by an increase in funding to provide clean water and sanitary services among the poor” (#30). He notes that “water poverty especially affects Africa, where large sectors of the population have no access to safe drinking water or experience droughts which impede agricultural production” (#28).
Unsafe water leads on a continual basis to “deaths and the spread of water-related diseases. Dysentery and cholera, linked to inadequate hygiene and water supplies, are a significant cause of suffering and of infant mortality” (#29). The pope regards “access to safe, drinkable water as a basic and universal human right.” He affirms that water is “essential to human survival,” which also means it “is a condition for the exercise of other human rights” (#30).
But life’s sad reality for people who lack access to safe water means that many also lack the chance to enjoy the benefits of other human rights—pursuing an education or looking with hope to the future. Too often, the present, desperate moment consumes them. So thirst is a form of slavery that confines and diminishes human persons. The cry of thirsty people is a cry for life. It starts as a cry for survival. When people lack water or can gain access only to tainted water, they grow weak. Sickness overtakes them, and many will die.
Whether we are talking about Africa, Flint, Michigan, or many other parts of the United States with water problems, all of us who are baptized are commissioned to do our part to make a difference and to actively intervene so that adequate safe water is available to peoples in need.
THE TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The cost of being a follower of Jesus is demanding. The Second Reading illustrates this in the request Paul makes of his close friend Philemon. Paul, in prison, asks Philemon to receive back a slave, Onesimus, who had run away. Paul had converted Onesimus to Christ and so asks Philemon to receive him back “no longer as a slave but as a brother.” Paul asks Philemon to extend forgiveness.
Today’s First reading, from the Book of Wisdom, reminds us that we do not have answers to everything. Even more so, we must recognize that we cannot understand God’s mind. Only through the gift of wisdom and the Holy Spirit can we “know God’s counsel.”
The Gospel continues the theme of the cost of discipleship. Jesus offers a series of sayings that require a depth of commitment—for example, “Whoever does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Jesus is being provocative and demanding. His unsettling language causes us to sit up and pay attention. When he says we should “hate” our family members, Jesus is obviously not to be taken literally. What we hate is what is opposed to our relationship with him. The full meaning of the First Commandment to love God above all things is fleshed out in the example Jesus gives: neither family members or possessions, nor even one’s life can be placed above love and commitment to God. Priority must be given to our relationship with Jesus Christ.
The discipleship that Jesus describes in the Gospel calls for an honest appraisal of regard for others and ourselves in light of our love for God. Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus caritas est notes that love calls for reaching outside of oneself to find the true self and God. “Love is an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God: ‘Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it.’ In these words, Jesus portrays his own path, which leads through the Cross to the Resurrection” (#6).
Jesus shows a way to the Kingdom of God that would be difficult for anyone, since all of us can easily focus our desires on people and things more than on God. In telling the crowds that they needed to hate their own lives and carry their cross, he was saying that their trust needed to be in God. Evangelii nuntiandi explains that disciples need to undergo a change of heart. “This kingdom and this salvation are available to every human being as grace and mercy, and yet at the same time each individual must gain them by force through toil and suffering, through abnegation and the cross, through the spirit of the beatitudes. But above all, through a total interior renewal, a radical conversion, a profound change of mind and heart” (#10).
For Your Reflection: Why is there wisdom in abandoning a desire to determine what God intends? What do you need to give up in order to become a better disciple? Which of your possessions distract you from God?
FR. KEN CAPALBO, O.F.M.
I am happy to tell you that Fr. Ken Capalbo will be returning to Vietnam to teach seminarians for the fall semester. He has received the go ahead from his doctor stating that with the proper medication he thinks he will be able to have the energy and the stamina to spend several months there. Needless to say, Fr. Ken is ecstatic. He will be leaving on September 10th and will probably return to the States just before Thanksgiving. Please keep Fr. Ken in your prayers that he will have a successful and healthy stay once again in his favorite place outside the United States.
SAINT PETER’S YOUNG ADULTS
Returning Monday, September 9th
Some people may not know that we have a very active Young Adult Outreach here at St. Peter’s. We call ourselves SPYA, which stands for “St. Peter’s Young Adults.” There are no dues or fees or registrations—just a weekly gathering of people between the ages of 20 and 40 to share our journey of faith with one another. We meet every Monday (except holidays) from 5:30 to 7:00 PM, and once a month (usually the first Monday of the month) we go upstairs to the Friars’ Chapel for Adoration. Some weeks we watch a video and talk about it; other weeks we reflect on the Sunday Gospel, and still other times we just have some fun with each other. And every summer we host Theology on Tap during the month of July.
SPYA came to birth in the Fall of 2011, and the question that we started with was “What does it mean for US to be Catholic?” That question still applies today. Lots and lots of people have come and gone over the past eight years, and we are delighted to say “We’re still here!”
Are you interested? Please come on Monday, September 9th, and check us out. Once you come, you are always invited back. If you have any questions, please call or text or write to Fr. Ed Shea, OFM at 773-892-4134 or at [email protected]
ST. PETER’S GALA
Now that some weeks have gone by since our 5th Annual St. Peter’s Gala on July 18th, we want to report what all has happened during and after that great event. First of all, I want to thank Fr. Mario once again for his leadership and constant guidance. I cannot begin to tell you all the many ways that he has worked to make the Gala a grand success. The countless letters he has written, the phone calls he has made, the details he has taken care of, etc.—these and many more have guaranteed the success of the Gala. Secondly, my thanks go to the members of the Gala Planning Committee for all their hard work and shepherding over the past year. Had it not been for them, this event would never have happened. A special thank you goes to Mary Ellen Castroverde and the other faithful individuals who sat in the lobby of the church for hours and days at a time and sold tickets to the Gala.
Thirdly, once again our volunteers stepped up to make sure all was in place at the Union League Club and then to be present to ensure that everything went smoothly during the Silent and Live Auctions as well as for the Fund A Need portion of the evening. My sincere thanks to vendors, companies and individuals who donated money to help underwrite the cost of the dinner and drinks, but also to a number of individuals who offered items for the two auctions. Finally, I want to thank everyone who purchased tickets and who came to the Gala to enjoy the evening with us. We certainly enjoyed your presence, and you added so much to the atmosphere of the event.
I am happy to report that the Gala netted $213,000, all of which will go toward reducing the operating deficit for this current fiscal year. This amount is approximately $70,000 more than last year (what a great thing to be able to report!). Believe me when I say that the revenue from the Gala helps us in all kinds of ways to aid in our cash flow and to pay some of our regular monthly bills. Several weeks ago here in the bulletin I outlined what it costs to keep St. Peter’s open and running on a day-to-day basis, and I feel sure that you noted our regular contributions just scratch the surface in addressing both the needs of the church and the needs of the friars. We very much depend on our Christmas and Easter Appeals, on the Gala, on monies received from wills and bequests that come our way during the year, and on people who surprise us with a special gift through the mail or to the front office.
We invite you to make sure to put the date for our 6th Annual Gala into your appointment calendar—Thursday, July 16, 2020. We had given consideration to perhaps changing the venue next year, but after much thought and research we have decided to remain at the beautiful room in the Union League Club. We look forward to seeing you there next year. . Once again, our profound thanks, and God bless you all!
MISSIONARY COOPERATIVE PLAN APPEAL
Our church is a missionary church. From the beginning, it has obeyed Christ’s command to go out and preach the Gospel to everyone in the world. This missionary work involves recruiting missionaries, training and equipping them for their task, maintaining them and supporting the new, young churches until they are established. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith is established in every diocese to organize support for the missions. Each year it appeals for funds on Mission Sunday, and each year it brings to each parish one of the groups working in the missions to speak about their particular work.
This year the St. Patrick Fathers, who work in Africa, Brazil and Grenada, have been assigned to speak at our parish. Next week we will have a second collection at St. Peter’s to support their work. Please come prepared to contribute in this collection so that their missionary endeavors will flourish.
A SUMMERTIME CHUCKLE
A guy goes into a restaurant/lounge wearing a shirt open at the collar and is met by a bouncer who tells him he must wear a necktie to gain admission. So he goes out to his car. He looks around for a necktie and discovers that he just doesn’t have one, but he sees a set of jumper cables in his trunk. In desperation, he ties these around his neck, manages to fashion a fairly acceptable looking knot, and lets the ends dangle free.
He goes back to the restaurant. The bouncer carefully looks him over for a few minutes and then says, “Well, OK, I guess you can come in—just don’t start anything!”