Archives for November 2010
You may have heard about the recent New York Times bestseller, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, S.J. It’s a very readable book and an excellent work on Ignatian spirituality. So, here’s my attempt at “The Jesuit Guide to Advent,” and it begins like this…
Have you ever wondered what God may have been pondering before Jesus entered our world? In other words, nine months before Christmas, what was God thinking about or feeling in his heart? This might be called “the Ignatian/Jesuit perspective” where St. Ignatius of Loyola had a key insight to our preparation for Advent.
In his book, The Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius invites us into prayer by using our imagination. Have you ever prayed this way before? It’s fairly simple. Just close your eyes and imagine the following scene…. Envision the three persons of the Trinity and how they were looking down upon the beautiful Earth. So many people, so much diversity, and one person in particular, Mary, was sitting in a room in the town of Nazareth in Galilee. This is the setting or backdrop for our Advent preparation. So far so good?
Have you ever wondered what God may have been pondering before Jesus entered our world?
At this point of the prayer or meditation, Ignatius invites us to ask for what we desire. Here, it will be the desire to know God better in order to love and to follow God more closely. Advent means we remember that the Word became flesh for all of us. God loves us so much that God desired to cross our border of humanity by physically becoming one of us. Loving God and our neighbor is our response to God’s gift of love.
Going back to our setting…we picture the world and all the people on the different continents. Imagine the different forms of dress, the diverse climates and topographies, and the variety of faces. Notice how some people are at peace and others are at war, some are laughing and others are weeping, some are healthy and some are sick, some are being born and others are dying.
The Trinity notices “a blindness” in how these people fail to properly love one another (and where they are unfortunately heading after death), so God responds by desiring to bring life, love, forgiveness, redemption, and eternal life into the world.
Hence, the angel Gabriel is sent down from heaven, and he greets Mary in the town of Nazareth. Now imagine how this conversation plays out…. If you need some help, here’s one possible version…. Gabriel says, “Hello, Mary. Know that the Lord is with you!” Mary responds with perplexity, and then Gabriel declares, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. With your ‘yes,’ you will conceive in your womb a son that will be named, Jesus. He will reign over all with love, forgiveness, peace, and hope.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be that I am pregnant?!” Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and your child will be called the Son of God. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here I am, Lord!
I am your servant, and let it be done to me according to your word” (quoted text is paraphrased from Lk 1:26-38). Then the angel departed back up to where the Trinity was observing and loving the world. After you have finished imagining this scene, Ignatius invites us to enter into a conversation with either: (a) the three Divine Persons, or (b) the Word that is becoming human for us, or (c) our Mother Mary. Imagine and begin that conversation now…Got the hang of it?
So many people, so much diversity, and one person in particular, Mary, was sitting in a room in the town of Nazareth in Galilee.
This “Jesuit Guide to Advent” hopefully helps us all to remember the biggest gift this Christmas season is remembering the gift of Jesus breaking into our world, as we desire to say “yes” to loving God and one another more deeply.
Fr. Paul C. O’Connor, S.J., is Associate Pastor of Old St. Patrick’s Church.
Just a Thought…
On this holiday weekend of Thanksgiving, I am mindful of the many family members and friends who are visiting Chicago from around the country and indeed from around the globe. Wherever you call home, please know how honored and delighted we are to welcome you today to our home of Old St. Pat’s!
Last weekend in the homily I offered to the Church gathered at 9:30 a.m., I shared an experience of encountering two people (one while I was in the dentist’s chair and the other while I was in line for a sandwich) who freely offered to me that “Church” (at least the Sunday experience) is not a regular part of their life. I reflected on how I felt confused these days as to why so many people in our culture are no longer connected to the Jesus story, or what I would also call the Love story. Later on Sunday night, I received an email that was honest, thoughtful, and one I really appreciated. In the email response to my sermon, this person offered a few insights as to my question: why. She said it seems so obvious; there is much angst, confusion, and frustration with this institution called the Catholic Church. She pointed out the “elephants” in the room: sex abuse scandal, women and leadership, celibacy, relevancy of our “message,” to name just a few. I appreciated her honesty.
At Old St. Pat’s this year, we are centering much of our programming and reflections around this overarching theme: Life Without Borders. With the beginning of Advent today, I believe this battle cry for Life Without Borders is before us once again. In light of the many hardships we face as a Church and as a human family, then it seems to me Advent calls us once again into a consciousness that God’s desire is to break through the barriers and borders that prevent us from being fully alive. The first word you will see today in Liturgy is Awaken! Awaken to that which is possible! Awaken, according to the prophet Isaiah, to the hope of what it is to climb the Lord’s holy mountain. Awaken to what it would be like if we took the swords and formed them into plowshares; or spears into pruning hooks! Awaken to the possibility of how we can creatively live and re-animate the Jesus story in our lives today.
May these holy days of Advent help us to Awaken to the reality that God broke through the borders of our limited humanity and dared to become one of us and one with us. May the spirit of God help us to Awaken once again to the love story of Jesus, despite all the imperfect, tangled ways we attempt to live and tell this story in this Church of ours. I hope and pray these are holy days for you and me.
In the spirit of Life Without Borders,
Fr. Tom Hurley
Another Season to “Try Again”
We are a “seasonal people” — Lent, Easter, baseball, golf, spring, summer, fall, winter, cold-and-flu, tax, etc. None receives more attention than the one that will be ushered in this week. Thanksgiving Day begins what some have generically called the “Holiday Season.” Beginning this Thursday and taking us all the way to New Year’s Day, this is that unusual time of the year many anticipate with great joy and excitement. It’s what they’ve been waiting for! They can’t get enough! Overcrowded malls, holiday decorations, and the frolic of festivities: it’s never too much!
But for many others, Thanksgiving and Christmas are seasons they dread the most. Though tough times and significant challenges often plague us all throughout the calendar year, nothing seems to heighten the awareness of our misfortune than this period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We know many people in our lives who approach this season with more anxiety and fear, than perhaps with joy and anticipation. They hate this time of the year. It stirs pain and recalls their losses. The conditions of their lives just don’t seem “to fit” the season’s agenda: family, togetherness, parties, faith, prosperity, security, a job. For as much celebrating and catching up with family and friends that might happen for many people, there are those for whom this season cannot come and go fast enough!
I BELIEVE WE CELEBRATE THIS SEASON SO WE DON’T FORGET GOD’S PROMISE AND FIDELITY TO US; OF THE GOD WHO’S ONLY DESIRE WAS TO BE AMONG US, TO BE ONE OF US.
Going through my mind today is a litany of people, many from the Old St. Pat’s community, for whom this will be the dreaded “first” Thanksgiving and “first” Christmas without some people in their lives. All of those “first” holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries just seem to heighten the awkwardness and sorrow. I am reminded of those for whom “home” has been so dramatically changed this past year because of death and even divorce. On my prayer list are the names of people who continue to be out of work and some folks for whom that jobless reality has become even worse.
It’s the tragic irony of this whole season. It calls us to be home, yet for many, home this year (and maybe most years) is the place of emptiness and isolation. In our Catholic Christian tradition, Advent is supposed to be that time when we prepare to celebrate the Light that breaks through the darkness; Life in the midst of a dead winter; God life who crosses the border of humanity and enters our world, our home. We proclaim Hope and Thankfulness; yet for many, these words are tough to swallow.
So what do we do?
I see this sacred season, this time of Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas as another invitation by God to try again. I see it as an opportunity. I see it as the way in which I hope God sees it: a time to stand with family, especially family members who are hurting and fear this time of the year. I believe we celebrate this season so we don’t forget God’s promise and fidelity to us; of the God who’s only desire was to be among us, to be one of us.
I AM THANKFUL GOD CALLS ME AND YOU TO STAND WITH EACH OTHER.
As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I am indeed thankful. I am thankful God calls me and you to stand with each other. I am thankful God calls me and you to be God’s Light in someone else’s darkened world. I am thankful for those who have been and continue to be God’s presence to me when my world is not so pleasant. I am thankful for those who have illumined the path of life by their gift of generous Light. I am thankful for the great people of Old St. Pat’s, and for this marvelous opportunity to be a Catholic priest in this vibrant church. I am thankful for this opportunity to keep working hard at inviting the next generation to stay closely connected to the Risen Lord and to this journey of faith. I am thankful for the many young adults who keep us busy with weddings and baptisms, and for this marvelous opportunity to engage with them in this sacred time of their lives.
Despite the many fears we or others may face as we enter again the season, let’s pray we will seize this moment in time as yet another opportunity and invitation to be God’s Hope, God’s Life, God’s Compassion in our world once again.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Advent!
Fr. Tom Hurley
Old St. Patrick’s Church
On Monday, November 1, 2010, eighty-nine of our students from Frances Xavier Warde School and the Old St. Patrick’s Partners Program, along with three adults from the Holy Name Cathedral community celebrated the sacrament of Confirmation at Holy Name Cathedral.
In choosing to be confirmed, these eighty-nine individuals have chosen to live a life of love and to live out the Gospel message of the Beatitudes from last week: Blessed are you… your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:12).
The students have spent the last 13 months preparing for Confirmation — learning about the sacrament itself, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the various saints whom they might like to emulate. They have chosen sponsors who live out their Catholic faith, attended workshops that emphasized the importance of making the decision to be confirmed, have completed at least twenty hours of service in a myriad of ways, participated in a day-long retreat where they explored the actual real life application of being confirmed and consciously choosing to live a life of love.
In the past two weeks, all eighty-nine students have taken part in a Commissioning Service where they stood before their classmates, parents, and some sponsors and gave testimony as to why they have chosen to be confirmed. It’s one of my favorite parts of the Confirmation process. I love listening to these reflections about the past thirteen months and how this is a conscious decision and how certain individuals or experiences have impacted the lives of the students.
Each of the students clearly articulate how the decision to be confirmed is a very deliberate one on their part — a decision to look at and to live life through a lens of love. I’d like to share some highlights with you:
Knox Montgomery reflected on the 13-month process as his personal “God Journey.” This was how he was going to “get” to God. I love the concept of the God Journey. Isn’t it one that we’ve all embarked on?
Francine Almeda expounded on her final decision to be confirmed:
“Through the Conformation retreat I finally knew why I was being confirmed, and what it meant to choose the lifestyle that comes hand-inhand with the Catholic faith.
Terry Nelson-Johnson put such a large concept into very simple terms. He explained being confirmed was not just a onetime deal, but a commitment to lead a life of love, generosity, and sacrifice. I had never thought of it this way, it opened my eyes to the bigger picture. I finally understood how much effort and thought I must put into my actions to be confirmed in mind and body.
The process of being confirmed reminded me to love the little things, and to appreciate the world, and the people around me. Small favors, a kind word or two, can make all the difference in a person’s day. Bringing a little smile into someone else’s life can return the favor tenfold. This level of caring lay dormant and forgotten inside of me, until I was reminded how drastically love and sacrifice could impact my life. Choosing this lifestyle meant not only having the ability to love others, but also yourself. I was becoming a better person.
Confirmation is defined by accepting these virtues, and choosing to live by them. I realize this can be difficult, but that’s what makes it worth it. And I know I’ve made the right choice when I say I want to live by the Catholic faith, and to help others achieve this goal for the rest of my life.”
I loved the enthusiasm of Will Behnke who compared the feeling to the one he gets from snowboarding. It’s all about taking a risk and feeling the adrenaline rush from a successful attempt. In this case we’re taking a risk to live out a life of love. No easy task, but definitely worth the effort.
Joe Dschida found this aspect of the Confirmation preparations particularly rewarding. In choosing his Confirmation name, Joe’s reasons were twofold: one, he dearly loved his grandmother, Francis who passed away a few years ago. She was a compassionate soul who greatly influenced Joe. He attributes the acquisition of the family dog to Grandma Francis’ intervention. Secondly, Joe spent his service hours working with the PAWS animal shelter. The experience reminded of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. The choice was obvious: Joe’s Confirmation name was to be Francis.
On Monday, November 1, 2010, before 700 plus guests at Holy Name Cathedral, Molly Hernandez shared her reasons for choosing to be confirmed:
“Due to the retreat day we all spent with Terry Nelson-Johnson, I am even more committed to becoming an adult in the Catholic Church. We laughed, we cried, we truly bonded with Terry and the snoring bulldog Louise. Although many things stuck with me, one of my favorite things Terry mentioned was this, “Just because you are not dead, is not sufficient proof that you are alive.” This statement is unbelievably powerful. Just because you are not physically dead, is no way proof that you are spiritually alive. To be truly alive, one needs to believe in God for his or her self, and to believe he loves you more than anything.
I have to keep reminding myself that this is just the beginning. This is the beginning of a completely new relationship with God. I understand that this journey will not be perfect, but I will find the strength to make it through, because I know, without a doubt, that God will be there every step of the way, right alongside me, cheering me an. And I know, that he will always be there, no matter what my mistake, telling me ‘It’s okay, come on get back up again, I believe in you.’
I know, that without a doubt, that I am ready to be confirmed.”
The Confirmation preparation has affected all of us involved in the process — the students themselves, their teachers, families, sponsors, the clergy, the staff, and certainly those who were recipients of many service hours.
Twenty hours of service is required of the Partners Confirmation candidates. Their experiences are varied, but all are life-giving.
Ninety-two individuals made that same decision. Please remember the Confirmation students in your prayers this week as they have now made the commitment to live a loving life – one filled and inspired with the boldness, fortitude, compassion, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit – courage, good judgment, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, reverence, wonder and awe.
Bea Cunningham is Director of Family Ministry at Old St. Patrick’s Church.
Do you ever lie in bed at night and mentally go over your To Do list from the day, reviewing everything you have accomplished? I do, particularly at this time of the year. Crazy?? Possibly… but it helps me feel organized. This mental examination probably is not what life or even happiness is all about. Some days, though, it sure feels as if it holds a greater meaning, a magical power of sorts.
The holidays and the weeks leading up to them can seem like one gigantic To Do list. I am thankful for the things I get to check-off on my list… they make me feel productive and accomplished. If fact, truth be told, when I am having a really bad day and nothing on my list seems to have a check next to it, I will sneak something onto it that I have already done, just so I can have that euphoric feeling of crossing something off. Again, crazy? Possibly… but how can I justify being busy for an entire day, while not being able to accomplish anything on my sacred and critical To Do list?
What ultimately is my To Do list for?
Who ultimately is my To Do list for?
All of these items on my To Do list make up a day’s worth of busy activity. But all of these items… things… are in fact, only things. Thanksgiving tablecloths, groceries, centerpieces, dry cleaning, decorations, medication pick-ups, e-mails, cleaning supplies, cleaning routines, laundry, Christmas cards, Christmas presents, wrapping paper, ornaments, lights, Christmas trees, flowers, etc. There is an everyday comfort… a kind of “grace” if you will… in checking off all of these things. That grace is reliable, unfailing, and calming. But as I wake up every morning to create another To Do list, I realize that grace is fleeting and short-lived.
What ultimately is my To Do list for? Who ultimately is my To Do list for? Is it purely self-gratifying that I continue to create and review these To Do lists every day? The other day, I was cleaning out a drawer in my office and came across a big, gray, unmarked file folder. It was filled with thank you notes from coworkers and volunteers, a random catalog of good deeds I have collected during my five years of working at Old St. Pat’s, and quite frankly, a folder that tends to be forgotten and unnoticed, until I catalog my next thank you card.
The cards ranged from, “I just wanted to thank you for finding my purse on Sunday,” to “Thank you for your hard work, energy, patience and enthusiasm on Easter Sunday,” to “Thank you for including my loved one into the Prayers of the Faithful,” to “I am so appreciative of the care and support you have given me these past few months.” Each note made me pause… I reflected on each and every single one of those moments I had impacted a person’s life. I realized the contents of that folder formed a different sort of To Do list, one made up not of things, but of people. I live for organization, for order and control, and for feeling “less-stressed” because I have an action plan in place, with step-by-step instructions for these action items… but is living for order and control really what I should center my life around, and what I should be living for? Instead, isn’t living about being present to the moment, being present to everyone around you, and being present to life? Isn’t life more exciting and more fulfilling, when you are present to the possibilities that lay right in front of you? There is nothing more freeing than making a To Do list and just letting it go…
I realized the contents of that folder formed a different sort of To Do list, one made up not of things, but of people.
Even during such a crazy, fast-paced, chaotic time of year, this important addition (not thing) should be included on my To Do list, and for that matter, everyone’s To Do list: Accomplish something… one thing even… that someone will thank you for. Instead of focusing my mornings on the things in my life I will not remember five years from now, I need to reexamine my To Do list in the morning, and replace some of those “things” with a person in my life. As someone once wrote, “You need to replace your human doings with human beings.” These are the things I will cherish and remember five, ten, and even twenty years from now. This is what life and happiness, especially during the holiday season, is really all about. This is my new To Do list…
Jaclyn Mullooly is coordinator of Liturgy
at Old St. Patrick’s Church.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Just a Thought…
As you read this on Sunday morning, November 14, I am mindful of where one of our members finds herself today: in Haiti. In the face of recent floods and a cholera epidemic, she’s on her way to volunteer her time and services among the poorest of the poor in our hemisphere. Many of you know Barbara Doran from either the 5 p.m. Mass or from a wide variety of Old St. Pat’s missions that she and her husband Paul participate in quite frequently. By profession, Barbara is a nurse practitioner, specializing in women’s health; she spends most of her day at Mt. Sinai Hospital on the Near West Side serving an at-risk population of patients. By vocation, Barb is an energetic disciple whose passion for service and living out the Gospel in challenging situations is undaunted.
Over the summer, Barbara and I, along with Dr. Mark Rastetter, had a series of conversations about Haiti and the absolute devastation the people of this small island country are experiencing due to the ongoing poverty and the effects of the January earthquake. After having visited Haiti in May, I am consciously aware of just how vast and complex the challenges are in this area of the world, just two hours by plane off the coast of Florida. Mark and Barbara are passionate young medical professionals and disciples who are exploring ways of how Old St Pat’s might make a difference in Haiti. We are continuing our discernment about this possibility. I would welcome your feedback.
If moving from the Lord’s Table, the table of mission, is what we are called to do each week as followers of the Risen One, then I know Old St. Pat’s is doing it so very well. I can think of no other Church in this city whose Outreach Mission is as vibrant and alive as ours. Barbara is another wonderful example of the generous spirit moving its way through the hearts and activities of the Old St. Pat’s membership. You only need to take a look at the pages of this Crossroads or the see the directory of possible outreach opportunities listed in the back to get an idea of how mission-driven we have become. It’s not enough to hear the Gospel; our mission is to live it. For all the great ways we express the Body of Christ in the world, from staffing a shelter on the West Side of Chicago to serving at the UIC pediatric unit to LIFTing a glass of wine to support India to partnering with great folks at Horizons for Youth or finding your way to Fabretto in Nicaragua, thank you for all the countless ways we are incarnating God’s presence to those in need.
We pray for Barbara on her trip and for all those who find their way on mission each week. You are a sign of Hope for us.
In the spirit of Life Without Borders,
Fr. Tom Hurley
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL WHO ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE RCIA PROCESS AT OLD ST. PAT’S THIS YEAR AS THEY CELEBRATE THE RITE OF ACCEPTANCE AND THE RITE OF WELCOME ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2010.
Sean Vargas Barlow
James Kallembach, III
Rod Scheele, Jr.
As I reflect today on this feast of our Communion of Saints, I am reminded of Anna Quindlen’s words, “We are defined by whom we have lost.” As we gather to remember all the loved ones who have died, these words can almost become a prayer: we are defined by whom we have lost. As we break down the theme of Life Without Borders this year, I cannot help but think of the border of loneliness that often occurs at times of loss in our lives. Today is a day that respects our love for those who have died, the grief of losing someone close to us, or perhaps the loss in our world due to hunger, poverty, violence and war.
Those we have loved and lost, have contributed to who we are.
And so, who are we? How can we allow the memories and the gratitude for their lives to shape us? Maybe that is the privilege, the blessing of those who have embraced loss: loss reminds us we cannot live as though we have all the time in the world. We cannot let words go unspoken, or gestures of love go undone. Like the disciples, we realize we cannot wear grief like a badge that exempts us from living. No, our grief gently, but firmly, calls us to live and to love as Jesus loved.
“Do this in remembrance of me.”
And we do.
And today at this altar, once again, we will.
These words of Jesus lie at the heart of our lives as God’s beloved children — this act of remembrance. Recalling and reliving this sacred moment, and cherishing what it means. Today, as we remember the gift Jesus shares with us in the Eucharist, let us pause, and think about those beautiful loved ones, those lights that have shaped us, and now have gone home. And let us take a deep breath, and continue our lives, knowing that Jesus, who guided them home, will one day safely guide us home too. May God’s mercy heal us. May God’s love set us free from the Borders that keep us from loving as Jesus loved.
|Arcadio Alarcon, Jr.
Paul Anglin (husband)
Ubaldo P. Beato, Sr.
Reverend Martin Borowczyk
Marine C. J. Boyd
Infant Eamonn John Brennan
Reverend John H. Burke
Jaryn E. Burns
Firefighter Brian Carey
John Michael Carney
Infant Vincent Thomas Carto
Louis James Caruso
Mary Lou Cashman
Mary Barone Colombani
Charles Vincent Cooney
Mary Catherine Corrigan
Violet Mary Dado
Catherine G. Daly
John & Kit Danaher
Richard Paul Dennis
Julie Grossi Dillon
Rita Durkin Marion Enright
Infant Taidhg Feeney
Fr. Aengus Finucane
Mary Clare Ryan-Flynn
Pat Fraley Jr.
Henry M. Gajewski
Louise McDonald Gorman
Mary T. Griffin
Sister Sara Hale
Mary Lucille Johnson
Rev. William Kelly
Raymond Joseph Klees
Cynthia Hernandez Kolski
Judith Machart Kreutz
Roselle LynskeyReverend Byron G. Maher
Elva Berniece Matejcek
Margaret Mary McCarthy
Newborn Daniel McCarthy
Infant Charlie McGinty McGann
Lieutenant James P. McGuire
Reverend Cosmo F. Militello
Guyla Van Moore
James A. Murphy Jr.
Kevin V. Murphy
Jack O¹Donnell Sr.
Sheila May Shannon O¹Hara
Jane Reticker O’Shea
Rev. Henry Pozdol
Reverend Anthony C. Puchenski
Ronald Ronola Sr.
|Fr. Jeremiah RocheSook Chae Roe
Fr. Larry Rosebaugh
Tom RyanHelen Sanoshy
Robert E. Sargent
Fr. Gerry Scanlon
William K. Schuble Jr.
James Miles Shepherd III
Arnold G. Skibinski
Theresa & Harry Sosnowski
Judge Harold Sullivan
Mary Ellen Swae
Infant Beatriz Marie Villarrian
Francis J. Wall
Father Gerry Weber
Reverend Edward Wilhelm
Bernadette Moore Gibson is Director of Pastoral Care at Old St. Patrick’s Church.