Letters from a Pastor to His People

Letters from a Pastor to His People

We Always Have A Choice

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 16, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

All the priests of the Archdiocese gathered together with the Cardinal a couple weeks ago for an all-day seminar.  We do this about three times a year.  In the afternoon we heard a talk on forming good habits, and the speaker mentioned "mindfulness training." Basically, if you can pause mentally when you are in the midst of a certain habit (smoking, eating, compulsively checking your texts, etc.), be mindful of what you are feeling and experiencing (something that is actually not that satisfying), you'll begin the neural re-networking process to break the bad habit.

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We Are Salt & Light

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 9, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus, when he calls us salt and light, is saying that we are necessary. He doesn't call us honey; he doesn't call us a neon light—things that are nice, but not necessary.  Salt and light are necessary for the world to function.  There is no life without light (think about how the dinosaurs died) and salt, especially back in Jesus' time, was essential to preserve food.

Now, when I say the Lord needs us, what I'm really saying is that he relies on us to spread the faith.  (By the way, in baptism, we give the newly baptized a candle and say, "receive the light of Christ." In the old ritual, salt was sometimes put into the person's mouth and salt was also sprinkled in water.) Christ has us evangelize: that is, introduce people to God and bring them into Catholicism.

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The Presentation of the Lord

Father James with children at the Catholic Schools Week Mass. Congratulations to Joe and Anne Cisneroz, recipients of the 2020 Sr. Remy Schaul Service Award.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 2, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I came across "The Surrender Novena" a few weeks ago, prayed it, was impacted by it, and wanted to share it with you. 

If you're not familiar with it, a novena is when we pray a particular prayer or set of prayers for nine straight days to obtain graces.  This novena was given directly from Jesus to an Italian priest named Father Don Dolindo Ruotolo, who lived from 1882-1970.  The “special” grace from this novena is to be able to trust in God more completely. 

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We Are the Galilee of the Gentiles...

With the 7th graders. Happy Catholic Schools Week!

Letters from a Pastor to His People- January 26, 2020

 

Dear Parishioners,

 

"He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali..." 

 

Galilee was a sort of melting pot, kind of like Chicago, I imagine.  Think about the people whom Jesus would encounter: fishermen, farmers, tax collectors, Roman soldiers (pagan), Jewish synagogue officials, beggars, rich landowners, Greeks, Syrians, etc.  Only in Galilee could have had the assortment of spiritual experiences.

 

Pope Francis made this comment in an Angelus address several years back:

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Called to Be Holy


Thank you to the church sacristans for their good work preparing for Mass

Letters from a Pastor to His People- January 19, 2020

 

Dear Parishioners,

 

Called to be holy.  That is what Saint Paul says in our second reading from First Corinthians.  He tells the people they have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and are called to be holy.  What does holiness mean?

 

Let me answer by giving you what some folks, far holier and smarter than I, have said about the topic.  By the way, in my reading whenever I come across a definition or description of holiness, I write it down.  This is from my catalogue...

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The Baptism of the Lord


Talking with the pre-school students about baptism

Letters from a Pastor to His People- January 12, 2020

 

Dear Parishioners,

 

On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a quote by Saint John Henry Newman comes to mind.  I used this quote recently in a homily at a wedding on New Year’s Eve, thinking of ends and beginnings.  "Fear not that thy life shall come to an end," says Newman, "but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning."

 

The Sacrament of Baptism, like Marriage, is both an end and an beginning.  It's the end of a former way of life; the beginning of a new life in God's grace. 

 

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The Epiphany

Letters from a Pastor to His People- January 5, 2020

 

Dear Parishioners,

 

Ah, the Epiphany.  Christ's display of divinity; his manifestation to the gentiles.  Jesus Christ is God indeed.  He is God of all peoples.  That is what we celebrate this feast today.

 

But there is something about us that we recognize and celebrate too.  Saint Paul says that we are "coheirs" with Christ (cf. Ephesians 3:6).  Because we are grafted on to Christ, when we celebrate Christ, there is also something we are called to celebrate about us.  That is, we celebrate the divinity within us

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St Joseph the Tekton

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 29, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Joseph is often in the background of Nativity Sets and we know little about him, so let's reflect a little on "the second greatest saint." 

We can surmise Joseph was a man of moderate wealth.  He and Mary could not afford a lamb for the presentation of their son in the temple—they sacrificed two pigeons instead.  And yet, after Joseph's early death, there is no record of Mary working.  Joseph had earned enough in his life so that Mary did not need to work.  Also, they made the trek up to Jerusalem each year for Passover and other festivals.  These trips were not cheap.  But they rode in a caravan, since they could not afford their own protection from highway bandits. 

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Oh Come Oh Come Emanuel

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 22, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

I'd like to "dedicate" this letter to our very own Father Emanuel.  Why?  Well, first of all, Father Emanuel is just awesome, so why not?  Second, because Father Emanuel's birthday is December 25th (that's right, he shares Jesus' birthday!).  And, third, because we hear the name Emmanuel mentioned in our readings this 4th Sunday of Advent and on Christmas.  Isaiah prophecies, "the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14), and Matthew repeats this passage.

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Don't Be Captive to Impatience

Fr. James, Deacon Dolan, Deacon Ryan, and servers on the third Sunday of Advent.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 15, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

I want to say a few things about our second reading, and not only because it's a letter from my namesake, but because the very important topic of patience is addressed.  "You too must be patient," says Saint James.  "Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord."

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Repent and Live Authentically

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 8, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

John the Baptist was a man who was anything but superficial.  He wasn't into appearances or externals. He lived in his Cousin's shadow his whole life, and it didn't bother him one bit.  John was a "no-nonsense" kinda guy.   If you're a person who struggles with appearances and 'keeping up with the Joneses', then perhaps you could think of praying with John.

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The Spiritual Life for Advent

Father James with SJS students lighting the first Advent candle for Hope

Letters from a Pastor to His People- December 1, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Many spiritual writers speak of Advent as a time of purification and penance.  This is why we invoke purple, a color of mourning.  Let me quote from an old spiritual treatise, The Spiritual Life by Adolphe Tanquerey:

The Church invites us to meditate upon the threefold coming of Christ: His advent upon earth through the Incarnation, His entrance into the souls of men through grace, and His appearance at the end of time to judge all mankind. It is chiefly upon the first coming that the Church centers our attention: she recalls to us the longings of the Patriarchs and Prophets, in order to make us long with them for the coming of the promised redeemer and the establishment or strengthening of His Kingdom in our souls. This is, then, a time of holy desires and ardent supplications, a time when we ask God to pour down upon us the dew of grace, and, above all, the Redeemer Himself...these holy desires and penitential practices evidently tend to purify the soul and thus prepare it for the reign of Christ.

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