Archives for February 2012
Monday, February 27
Curiously, it is the Spirit that drives Jesus into the desert. As you begin your journey through the season of Lent, where does it feel like the Spirit is driving you?
Tuesday, February 28
The desert is a wilderness, a harsh environment that can test any of us. What in your life feels like a desert? In what ways are you feeling tested? What are you learning in “the desert?”
Wednesday, February 29
St. Francis is believed to have once said, “Proclaim the Gospel every day, as a last resort, use words.” What is it in your actions, in your decisions, that proclaims the Gospel? Who, by her/his actions most effectively proclaims the Gospel to you?
Thursday, March 1
“This is the time of fulfillment.” There is a sense of urgency in this Gospel. The present moment is charged with the promise of the kingdom of God. What can you do today to make this “the time of fulfillment” and not just Thursday?
Friday, March 2
The kingdom of God is the place, the reality, where God’s will is done. The more we do God’s will, the closer we come to bringing about the kingdom. Today, find that place within you where God is. Know yourself as God’s beloved child. Try to see the world around you with God’s eyes. Now, ask yourself, what needs to be done?
Saturday, March 3
In reviewing your daily reflections on this week’s Gospel, what stands out? Has there been a moment or an insight that especially enlightening, puzzling, or revealing ? Did this week’s Lenten exercise lead you to any new decision or action?
Monday, March 5
This is my beloved Son ….” echoes the words from the story of Jesus’ baptism, affirming his identity as beloved child of God. Where, when, or how have you experienced affirmation of your identity as God’s beloved child? What does that mean to you today?
Tuesday, March 6
This mountaintop experience we call The Transfiguration illumined the minds of Peter, James, and John. They saw Jesus in a new way. Who do you need to see in a new way? How can you come to see more clearly “the beloved child of God” in those around you? What kind of blind spots prevent you from seeing the good in others?
Wednesday, March 7
One might say that the disciples had an extraordinary religious experience on the mountain. William James suggests that we should judge religious experiences by the actions that they inspire. What in your life has felt like an extraordinary experience of spirit? What action came from it?
Thursday, March 8
Who, by her/his presence, can renew your spirit? Who by his/her presence calls you to be a better person? What is it about you that has the power to call out the best in others?
Friday, March 9
We all have our moments “at the mountaintop,” moments that help define who we are; moments, maybe that we don’t want to end; moments of “coming awake.” Think about a time “on the mountaintop” and what it means to you today.
Saturday, March 10
Review your daily reflections focusing on the story of the Transfiguration. How about giving thanks to the Lord, right now, for those moments of grace, hope and love on which you reflected this week. Name them and thank God, one-by-one.
Monday, March 19
Jesus professes God’s love for the world, yet when we see or experience injustice, violence, or suffering the world can feel like an unloved place. Has there ever been a time when you doubted God’s love for you? What did that feel like? How can you help others move from doubt to the mature awareness that God’s love, while ever constant, does not exempt us from suffering?
Tuesday, March 20
Salvation and condemnation are presented in a startling new way in this teaching passage. They seem less the product of God’s judgement and more the real existential consequences of the way we choose to live life. Examine the direction of your life. Are you moving more deeply into life or are you making choices that slowly shut out life? Who are the people, what are the experiences that are drawing you more deeply into life? What can you do to be more receptive to life? How can you be a person that invites others to move more deeply into life?
Wednesday, March 21
In this Gospel teaching condemnation does not appear to be God’s work. Rather, it seems to be more of a “do-it-yourself” project. Think about the day ahead of you. Where are the places, what are the decisions, when are the moments that will present you with the choice; do you turn toward God and move more deeply into life or turn toward the darkness and shut out life?
Thursday, March 23
Thomas Merton, the great spiritual teacher and Trappist monk, once wrote,” Don’t believe that because you are not pleasing to yourself you are not pleasing to God. God does not ask for results. God asks for love.” We have all made choices that we would like to keep hidden in the dark. What are the things that keep you from being free to love?
Friday, March 24
God desires that everyone may have eternal life. Dwell on that statement – God desires that everyone may have eternal life. What does that mean for you?
Saturday, March 25
We are now into the second half of Lent. This may be a good moment to pause and take stock of how we are using this season. What has been good? Have there been any unexpected turns in your journey? How can you use the remainder of this Lenten season to move closer to God and more deeply into life?
Monday, March 26
What is unsaid is just as powerful and provocative as what is said in this Gospel passage. Jesus begins his teaching by drawing on the rhythms of nature. A grain of wheat must first die to produce great fruit. The unspoken yet obvious question for the listener is: what within you must die if you are to produce great fruit?
Tuesday, March 27
A great paradox is at the heart of this passage, i.e., whoever loves his/her life loses it. The unspoken yet obvious questions for the listener are: what kind of loving of your life could cause you to lose it, and what of your life can be lost?
Wednesday, March 28
The second part of the paradox continues as: whoever hates her/his life will preserve it. Again, the unspoken yet obvious questions for the listener are: what in your life needs to be renounced so that you can in fact preserve it, and what of your life can be preserved?
Thursday, March 29
Dying to self, on any level that we understand that to be, is never easy. Along with Jesus we, too, are troubled when the moment of decision comes. Recall and reflect on the power of your own experiences of dying to self.
Friday, March 30
If the Paschal Mystery, the passage of Jesus from life to death to resurrected life, is also the pattern for our lives, what can you do to prepare yourself for this profound transition? Who can you look to in your own life as models for making this passage well?
Saturday, March 31
The Sunday Gospels of Lent have taken us from the desert of temptation to the mountain of illumination. We have seen Jesus consumed with zeal for life lived in God’s presence. We have heard him profess God’s love for the world. And we have listened as he breaks open for us the great mystery of death and resurrection. As you review this past week and your reflections on its profound and challenging Gospel passage, take time to review your journey through Lent. Are you in a different “place” today than the “place” you were when Lent began? What changes have you welcomed? What changes have you resisted? In your prayer today, remember that this journey will not end with Lent and that God never stops inviting us to a deeper, richer experience of Divine Love.
Though tomorrow is Palm Sunday and Lent continues until sundown on Holy Thursday, this is our last reflection page. As we move into Holy Week, we hope that you might come back to some of your thoughts or notes that you have made for yourself and find in them a resource for your prayer and celebration of the Easter Mysteries.
This Lent, consider practicing almsgiving:
- by looking into getting involved in our North Lawndale Kinship Initiative*
- finding ways to support the works for justice going on in our city and neighborhoods
- responding with grace and generosity to requests for your time
- reassess where your time, attention, resources are going and possibly make adjustments so that they are aligned with your deepest values
Easter speaks to us of letting go – of risking the life and the world we know and love for a life and a world of even greater loving. The practice of fasting will:
- train us to RISK letting go of the familiar, to make do without the seemingly indispensable
- heighten our awareness of hunger and poverty in the world
- to overcome our fear of change and to embrace growth
This Lent, consider practicing fasting:
- joining the rest of the universal Church in observance of the Lenten Fast
- choose to add your own day/time of fasting to heighten your awareness for the ways God nourishes you
- abstaining from negative talk (complaining, stereotypes, etc.)
Easter speaks to us of restored relationships, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of people living as sisters and brothers. The practice of almsgiving:
- brings to light our dependence on each other
- calls us to reexamine the hidden roots of poverty and suffering
- challenges us to include justice as a part of all our decision making – in our work, our families, our civic lives, our investment choices, and our financial purchases.
The practice of prayer will:
- lead us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the God who dwells in each of us
- help us to remember our deepest identity as beloved children of God
- nourish us so that we might live our vocation – our life and work in the world
This Lent, consider practicing prayer:
- through nightly 5-minute “overviews of your day,” looking for where God might have been present to you or where you might have missed God’s presence
- by celebrating our Sunday liturgies (7, 8, 9:30, and 11:15 a.m., and 12:45 and 5 p.m.) or our weekday liturgies (7 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.)
- joining us for Wednesday evening Lenten Vespers (Evening Prayer) followed by some quiet time with Christ in Eucharistic Adoration (6:30 p.m. in the church)
- listening to our mid-week Lenten podcast reflection, found on our Old St. Pat’s website
- celebrating the gift, joy, and sacrament of Reconciliation on Wednesday, March 21 (6 p.m. in the church)
While pondering the gospel for today, I cannot help but hear and sing in my head, a Beatles tune. I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends, Going to try with a little help from my friends. When we are going through some emotional or physical trial of life, friends can help to reassure us that God is there with us, and we do not have to face any obstacle life throws on our path alone. The reading from the Gospel of Mark tells us about a friend in need. Here we have friends helping someone find healing in both body and spirit in the presence of their God. St. Mark gives many details when describing the miracles of Jesus, and every detail is significant. The first thing we notice with the healing of the paralytic is that Jesus appeared to be inaccessible. Jesus was boxed in by a crowd. Some of the people in the crowd were there because they were curious about the gifts of Jesus’ healings. Others were there just to criticize and find something wrong, such as the scribes who denounced him for claiming to forgive sins. But none of these obstacles stopped the four men from bringing their paralyzed friend to Jesus. They had to go around the back way, lift him up over the wall, get him onto the roof, to be near the teacher. I am also moved by the urgency with which the friends sought out Jesus. Why not wait until the crowds had dispersed? There was always tomorrow. But these men knew their friend needed companionship, so they did not let the crowd stop them. There were many places they could have become frustrated and given up, deciding it was impossible, but the stakes were too high.
The first step in this man‘s healing was his friends placing him in presence of God. When the man came in the vicinity of Jesus, Mark tells us the teacher — saw their faith. It was the faith of the man‘s friends as well as his own faith that impressed Jesus. The man who was paralyzed was blessed by his own faith, but he was also blessed by the faith of his friends. The faith of friends, who were determined to bring him into Jesus‘ presence. The faith of friends who would not be deterred by the crowds and obstacles. Mark tells us Jesus saw their faith, not just his faith, but their faith and it was their combined faith that opened the door to Jesus blessing. We all are like that paralyzed man with needs we need to place in the presence of God.
Five years ago, the Ministry of Prayer was created at Old St. Pat’s. The members of this faithful ministry were amazed at the response of members of this community asking for prayers of all manners of companionship: physical, emotional, and spiritual. I believe this group was so well received because the prayers were held by a circle of faith-filled folks who joined together seeking wholeness, and drawing confidence through their shared connection. The faithfulness of this ministry has helped me experience a reality I suspect the paralyzed man discovered as well. Even without being free of physical disease, we are offered God’s transformative gift of love that can mean more than healthy bodies. As Paul insists in his letter to the Corinthian church, every one of God’s promises is a yes. Sometimes, the no we hear from elsewhere opens the door to hear a Divine yes with fresh clarity and profound gratitude.
Jesus’ words of forgiveness to the paralyzed man turn out to be God’s most transforming yes, thanks to his friends. And we are invited to be friends who join together and carry others so they, too, can be reminded of the compassion and presence of God.
Bernadette Gibson is the Director of Pastoral Care at Old St. Patrick’s. If you know someone who is in need of prayers, a home communion delivery or spiritual companionship please contact Bernadette Moore Gibson @ 312.298.2389.
Theology and Lunch (or Coffee!)
Do you ever find yourself
pondering questions on God, Catholicism, life, spirituality, theology, morals, Jesus…?
We should talk.
Religion and spirituality are often a huge part of peoples’ lives that are not talked about nearly enough. If you have doubts, questions, thoughts, I would love to hear them. I have often found in my own spiritual journey that the most helpful people were the ones who would listen to my questions and offer guidance/insight. My hope is that I can try my best to offer similar guidance to some of you in the Old St. Pat’s community.
A little about who I am: my name is Erin and I am currently at Old St. Pat’s as a ministry intern. I am also going to graduate school and am in my second year of the Master of Divinity Program at the University of Chicago Divinity School. I am not a therapist, social worker, evangelist, or certified life guide, but I am open-minded, relaxed, and passionate about people/religion. I got this idea because I heard about a similar program working out well in a fellow Catholic community.
If you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time to meet. I am available on Sundays and Mondays. We will meet at the Old St. Pat’s offices, Fr. Jack Wall Mission Center, 711 Monroe, Chicago, or we could even meet for a caffeine boost at the near-by Starbucks. We can meet for 45 minutes. Just bring yourself and your thoughts!
Welcome to the neighborhood of North Lawndale and to St. Agatha’s Catholic Community on the near West Side. I would like to begin the process of acquainting you with this vibrant church. During the last three decades, Old St. Pat’s volunteers have tutored St. Agatha’s students, and filled the church’s food pantry. St. Agatha’s also has been a Sharing Parish Partner for many years.
The North Lawndale Kinship Initiative is a new and bold collaboration, based on camaraderie and Christian love, not just service. As we explore this journey together, we hope to expand our commitment and to become better acquainted with the community of St. Agatha’s. Just like family, we will meet with them; share our stories, our hopes and our dreams. We will worship together, break bread together and weave the threads of our histories together.
St. Agatha’s opened its doors in 1893 and today it is home to 450 member families and includes a grade school. St. Agatha’s hosts the S.A.F.E. Program (St. Agatha Family Empowerment) where the school and neighborhood children have a place to call home after school. Fr. Larry Dowling is the pastor of St. Agatha’s.
A small group of Old St. Pat’s members have been worshipping with members of St. Agatha’s during this past month. Old St. Pat’s members also have been paired with members of St. Agatha’s to become better acquainted. We are taking baby steps in the relationship building process together.
Are you up for for the challenge and reward in getting to know the St. Agatha’s community on a more personal basis? For more information on how you can become involved, contact Beth Marek at email@example.com, or 312.831.9361.
Beth Marek is Director of Outreach at Old St. Patrick’s Church.
This weekend, we celebrate one of those milestone moments in the Sacramental journey of life: First Reconciliation. I am sure many of us can remember the very first time we participated in what we imagined to be the most intimidating experiences of our young lives. I can certainly recall that “fateful” day back when I was in the 4th grade, standing in line with my other nervous classmates of St. Cajetan Grammar School, waiting to enter “the box,” all the while rehearsing in my mind what I was going to tell the priest. I stood with a certain amount of fear as I watched the little light over the door illumine on-and-off as each “first timer” entered and exited this unknown domain. The confessional box was cold, dark, and intimidating; it all seemed to fit just right with my tremendous feelings of dread as I approached this moment. I was very much afraid and not sure how I would get through this scary experience. And yet, much to my surprise, after experiencing the sacrament of Reconciliation for the very first time with Fr. Dillon, I felt great. I did it! I had the courage to admit my faults and where I had “missed the mark.” And ever since that first time many years ago, I have always felt great, or at least a lot better and even lighter (from unloading the burdens) after coming away from the sacrament of Reconciliation.
The approach to Reconciliation is so different today than it was “years ago.” I think one of the messages we kept forgetting to emphasize years ago was the idea of Celebration. It is not celebrating what we have done wrong; but the sacrament of Reconciliation, like all sacraments, is celebrating God’s goodness, God’s grace, and indeed God’s understanding. Celebration is at the heart of every sacramental moment we have in our lives. Even though the “fear factor” will always be present in this particular sacrament, emphasizing Reconciliation as a moment of celebration and joy are paramount to a more healthy and life-giving approach to this time of grace. God and the presence of the Holy is not something to be feared, but welcomed and celebrated.
That is what I like so much about the way in which Bea Cunningham, Clare Hurrelbrink, Brigid Cashman, and the team of catechists and teachers from Partners and the FXW School emphasize in the celebration of First Reconciliation. First of all, there is no creepy confessional box in Old St. Pat’s; we sit face-to-face with good priests who represent the compassionate Christ; we proclaim the story of the Prodigal Son emphasizing the Father’s tremendous party he throws for his son upon his return home; and we light candles that brighten the experience of forgiveness and lighting our path to try again in this thing called life.
I am grateful to our grammar school children and this weekend’s milestone moment for reminding us again of the importance and relevance of not just enduring the sacrament of Reconciliation, but truly celebrating God’s gift of forgiveness and starting over.
Have a great week, and Happy Valentine’s Day….
Fr. Tom Hurley
One of my fellow spiritual directors introduced me to the song, “Love is All Around.” Sometimes it is easy to believe that Love (God) is all around. Recently, while on vacation with my parents in Florida, I got to see a spectacular sunset over the Gulf. The beauty of nature easily opens the heart to a spirit of gratefulness and to knowing God is all around, like the air we breathe.
What about those other times? Like Job in the first reading today who said “life on earth is a drudgery… I have months of misery… the nights drag on and I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.” It was not quite as easy to find the wonders of God after getting sick on the plane and arriving back from the warmth of Florida to a car buried in seven inches of snow. What about all of the people around me who deal on a daily basis with pain, loss and difficult situations? When I am pulled in all directions, how do I find time to notice where God is? I so want God’s grace to flow through me and sometimes I have trouble believing grace is present at all! How is it possible to be aware at all times that Love is all around?
Maybe it is not possible to tune in 24 hours a day. I need to keep stepping back to pay attention. Then I can see with a new perspective that ordinary moments are filled with blessing. It is like pausing to notice my breath that I take for granted most of the time.
Spiritual direction gives me the space once a month to pay attention. I step back with my spiritual director and take notice of the signs of Love in my ordinary daily moments. My spiritual director constantly reminds me, “What if God loves you anyway?” Whatever is going on in my life, however imperfectly I seem to live this life, God loves me anyway.
What if God loves you anyway? Old St. Pat’s offers the opportunity for you to pause each month with a trusted companion in spiritual direction. Contact Tammy Roeder to find out more about meeting with one of Old St. Pat’s spiritual directors.
There are other opportunities through Old St. Pat’s to stop and pay attention to God’s Love all around. For more information or to register for any of the following, contact Tammy Roeder, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 312.798.2350.
- v There are still openings for the Beloved Retreat February 17-19.To dive into the heart of God’s grace today is to be gratefully aware of the abundant love that has fed me from the beginning and to hear the call to participate from the deepest part of who I am.
- Another “Gathered and Sent” mini-retreat (Retreat for really busy people or people who are not sure they like retreats) will be happening during Lent. Be on the lookout for more information about “Being Light in the Darkness.”Taking some time to reflect, contemplate, pause, breathe, weep and laugh… to retreat is very good for the soul.
- The third Ignatian Retreat in daily life will begin during Lent.St. Ignatius wants us to learn how to pay attention because God is always present in our experience. God is incarnate in each of our life stories. The Exercises of St. Ignatius help us to reflect on the experience of God in our story, so we can experience more of God in our story.
Give yourself a chance to step back and be more aware of God’s love all around you, like the air you breathe. Consider connecting with a spiritual companion, or participate in one of the above retreat options.
Laura Field is a Spiritual Director at Old St. Patrick’s Church.
As history continues to be told about Old St. Patrick’s Church in these past 30 years, one of the major components that seem to be a common thread woven through the stories is about the very intentional Outreach this church has made to the young adult population. Thankfully, a marvelous mission with a creative spirit has fostered a place where young adult Catholics can feel at home and be part of a church that is actually relevant to their lives. In 2012, though the landscape of this church has changed and grown in such multi-faceted dimensions, we have thankfully become not only a place of young adults but “seasoned adults,” youth, and growing families.
Just for today, however, I would like to give thanks and praise to a segment of our young adult members who really “knocked one out of the park” last Friday with our first annual Broadway on Adams St! Through the great inspiration of Michael Neary, Mark & Aimee Scozzafave, and Megan Buckley, the young adults of Old St. Pat’s stepped forward, initiated, and produced one of the most enjoyable evenings you will find on a Friday night in January! If you find your way to the 5 p.m. Mass on Sunday at Old St. Pat’s, you will find a tremendously energetic and wildly talented group of young adults who primarily make up the choir for this particular Liturgy. Through their love for song and kinship, this marvelous group put together a cabaret of tunes from 24 different musicals including 42nd Street, Guys & Dolls, Wicked, and Rent to name just a few. I am so grateful to these talented performers and especially to Keara Coughlin on our staff who directs our Young Adult Outreach. Along with our RCIA (of which this year we have another great number of 39 young adults who are preparing for initiation into the church at Easter), Keara and her team of young adults continues to foster a great spirit of welcome and excitement for church through numerous service opportunities, faith sharing groups, socials, book club conversations, and events such as Broadway on Adams.
I am tremendously grateful for the presence of so many young adults who find their way to Old St. Pat’s. When it comes to church life, the practice of faith, and people in those years of their 20’s and 30’s, they can be pretty tough and a somewhat confusing time. While I am well pleased by the many dimensions of Old St. Pat’s, I hope and pray we continue to keep a strong focus on our young adult population. I am particularly excited and grateful to our young adult members who continue to increase and enhance our Liturgical ministries and especially our 5 p.m. Mass on Sundays. Like all of our Liturgies, my hope is to see them grow and flourish. My deep thanks to all of you who create life at Old St. Pat’s and especially our young adults in 2012.
Side note: many people have been asking me about a comedy thing that you may have seen advertized on WTTW. Many months ago, I was asked by a friend of mine (who himself is a young adult; and whose wedding I presided at last year) to participate in what is called The Chicago Stand Up Project, sponsored by WTTW and Zanies Comedy Club. Pat McGann, my friend, is one of the lead hosts at Zanies and he is the one who got me roped in to this thing! After a few meetings, I finally hit the stage back in November and tried my hand at stand-up comedy. The show will be televised on all the Fridays of February and my segment will be aired on Friday, February 24 at 8:30 p.m., Channel 11. It was quite an experience and great fun. But trust me, I am not quitting my day job to pursue a life in comedy! The Chicago Live advertisement you saw in the Chicago Tribune was strictly an interview with Rick Kogan to talk about the project. How do I get myself into these things?
Have a good week and keep laughing,
Fr. Tom Hurley