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Blogs

Love

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 25, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Picture the most serious love you have.  I'm not thinking about love for the Bears or for White Castle (ok, maybe that's just me), but love for your spouse or for your child or for your parents or siblings.  Do we love God that way?  We have to.  Jesus says so.  We are commanded to love.

But how can love be a commandment?  You can't be forced to love.  No one forced you to love your husband or wife, and if they did, it probably wouldn't have been love. 

The way we can be commanded to love is by the part of love that involves the will.  For love is not simply a feeling.  It is an act of the will.  You cannot force feelings.  You can, however, force or command your will.

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Spiritual Desolation

"Magnificent Desolation."  Those were the first words spoken by the second man on the moon as he stood on the new terrain.  And more striking than the first man's words they are. True progress for mankind is ultimately in the spiritual and moral realm, and sometimes we advance through desolation and darkness.

Desolation, or desolatio, has the Latin word for sun, solis, in its root.  The sun is darkened or declined in this style of prayer. We do not feel the warmth of God.  Prayer is, instead, flat, dry, and difficult.

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Wives of a Deacon - Marie Dombai

In conjunction with Deacon Tom’s article last week, I thought it might be appropriate to provide some explanation about the roles that the wives of Deacons have in their spouses’ ministry. Although the wives are not ordained, we do share in our spouse’s ministry, yet we are independent laity. 

Since the origin of permanent deacons in the Catholic Church after Vatican II, there have been many questions about the emerging roles of the wife as part of the “diaconate couple.” There are no clear‐cut guidelines or explanation of what the wife’s role is or can be, however, because Deacon formation touches each woman uniquely and individually, we support our husband’s call in different ways.

Women who are spouses of deacons respond to a unique grace of personal mission of their own, that comes as a gift from her baptism. Each woman cultivates her baptismal gifts in service to her family, the world and the church.  

The wife of a deacon is not simply a woman married to a deacon—we are essential for the church as we use our own gifts for the good of God’s people. With the power of the Holy Spirit we are equipped to make a particular and important contribution in supporting the church as well as our husbands.   

Participating in the diaconate is something that Tom and I have decided to do together. During our formation journey we developed a deeper appreciation for each other, our faith, and for God. We learned more about our roles both individually and as a couple and how we would together serve our church and our community.

To echo what Tom stated last week about marriage, we strive to be examples of a Christian marriage, not only for our family but also for all who are witnesses to our union. Our love and our commitment to each other can be seen in our thirty‐ five years of marriage. Like this permanent union, I have willingly and unselfishly given my own commitment to share in Tom’s diaconal ministry.  

It is with much thought, reflection and prayer that I hope Tom and I can continue our ministry, now as a diaconate couple, and that we can continue to incorporate and share our gifts as we serve God, His church, and His people.

Marie Dombai

Gospel October 25, 2020

The First Reading is from the Book of Exodus. This passage illustrates that there is an integral connection between love of God and love of neighbor. It especially underlines the call of the men in Israel to care for three groups of vulnerable people: women, orphans, and aliens. The words “I will kill you with the sword” are not to be taken literally. Rather, they are intended to convey how abominable it is in God’s eyes to fail to care for the most vulnerable in their midst. Therefore, "Neighbor" is anyone with whom we come in contact. "Love" in this usage is meant to include all the components of that word: Respect, Helpfulness, Forgiveness, etc. Finally, Love of God and love of neighbor, especially the needy, are intimately connected.

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Give to God What Belongs to God

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 18, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

This is a fitting Gospel for the election season.  Politics...yikes! I'll do my best to keep it spiritual.  As I've said before, I personally subscribe to the position of St. Edmund Campion, the English priest who was martyred by Queen Elizabeth in the 16th Century.  "I never had mind," he said, "and am strictly forbidden by our Father that sent me, to deal in any respect with matter of state or policy of this realm, as things which appertain not to my vocation, and from which I gladly restrain and sequester my thoughts."

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The Virgin of Macarena

I was reading recently through my old political science notes from college and came across this quote by the comedian Jon Stewart about public opinion. “You have to remember one thing about the will of the people," he wrote, "it wasn't that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.”

Macarena, of course, was the 1993 song by the Spanish group Los del Rios that remained on Billboard's top spot for fourteen weeks and the top 100 chart for sixty weeks.  It was named "the most successful song of 1996," achieved number 7 on Billboard's All Time Top 100, and was called by VH1 "the number 1 Greatest One-Hit Wonder of All Time."

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A Sacramental Sign of Christ

Deacons are ordained as a sacramental sign of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.” In fact, the terms “deacon” and “diaconate” come from the Greek word diakonia which means “service” or “ministry.” The deacon, by virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, participates in his service to the Church and its people through an integrated three-part ministry of service to the Word, service to the liturgy, and service to charity.

As ministers of the Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of the liturgy, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of charity, deacons are to be leaders in identifying the needs of others, and innovative in coming up with ways to address those needs. This ministry involves an outreach to the marginalized and those in most need of care, education and social justice. Deacons may minister in many different settings besides their home parish such as prisons, hospitals, convalescent homes, juvenile detention centers, shelters for the homeless or abused, and soup kitchens. Thus, the deacon’s ministry of charity may take place both within and far beyond the boundaries of the parish in which he lives or where he serves in the liturgy most directly.

Permanent deacons (like myself) are often married men with families and active careers in the secular world. The deacon and his wife strive to be a living example of fidelity and indissolubility in Christian marriage before a world in serious need of such signs. Together, they show how the obligations of family, work and ministry can be harmonized in the service of the Church’s mission. The deacon is called to bring the ministry of the Church—its mission of spreading the Good News and promoting charity and justice—to the workplace, to the community, to the neighborhood, and to all places in which he lives and interacts with others daily.  

Thank you to everyone at Saint Juliana for the kindness and support you have shown to Marie and me as we prepared for my ordination. The greatest gift I received was being able to share my first Mass of Thanksgiving with all of you.  

Deacon Tom Dombai

Gospel October 18, 2020

The First Reading is from the Prophet Isaiah. The Prophet has been given a message from God to Cyrus, King of Persia, who has just defeated the King of Babylonia in the 6th century BC. The great Persian Emperor Cyrus will be made part of   God’s saving plan for His chosen people. Cyrus is told that it was by the hand of God that he was successful in his battles and that God will use him to great advantage if he follows God's instructions. What makes this decree extraordinary is that it is addressed to a pagan king, Cyrus who was not a Jew, but he recognized true authority when faced with it and, in humility, he bowed in favor of the God of the Israelites.

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Moderation is Key in Life

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 11, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Moderation is key in life.  Often the path to holiness is simply finding the mean between extremes.  It is okay to have sweets, but one piece of candy, and not ten.  Okay, maybe two pieces of candy.  The Old Testament acknowledges the permission of delicacies when Isaiah prophesies, "On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines" (Isaiah 25:6).  This isn't permitting getting drunk or stuffed on those rich wines/foods, like that hillside for the overserved at Oktoberfest in Munich, but just recognizing that it is okay for God to delight us.

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Free of Worldly Possessions

I was horrified when we watched a YouTube video during the pandemic on how to make a facemask.  The individual cut and destroyed a tee-shirt.  Other than books, my one material attachment is to tee-shirts.  Chicago Blackhawks championship shirts, a Saint Juliana Men's Club Golf Outing shirt, a Mark Grace Chicago Cubs shirt (he's the real 17), a Grateful Dead tie-dyed shirt, an Archdiocese of Chicago shirt, and so on.  I don't collect knickknacks and I really don't take pictures. The tee-shirt under my Roman Collar that I wear every day is the one way to "express myself," so the prospect of destroying one is abhorrent to me.  Cutting up an old pillow-case would have been more sensitive.

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The Feast of Invitations

One of the biggest privileges of being a seminarian is that it’s part of our daily routine to have direct encounters with Christ. From Adoration and Mass in the campus chapel to cafeteria chats with priests or nuns, we have opportunities to experience Christ firsthand every day. That tremendous blessing is due in no small part to your generous prayers and gifts— thank you!

BUT: the best kept secret in the Catholic world is that God desires for each of us, no matter our state in life, to develop a deep personal relationship with Him. So, it’s time to get the word out about that! The feast invitations we hear about in this weekend’s readings seem to be an analogy for the way that God is inviting us to know Him more deeply. The prophet Isaiah describes that “the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.” The Psalmist mentions how “You spread the table before me.” And then Matthew talks about a significant wedding banquet where many are invited to “come to the feast.” How do we prioritize our “yes” to the generous invitations of Jesus in our life to know him in a richer sense?

The Church provides simple examples through Scripture and the saints that demonstrate a starting point in developing a relationship with Christ. While in Wyoming this summer, Fr. Bryce Lungren emphasized our human nature, lived it by riding a bucking bronco in a rodeo, and taught it by referencing Luke’s Gospel passage about the Baptism of Jesus. In that narrative, the Lord proclaims to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (3:22). St. Thérèse of Lisieux similarly says we are called to commit to Christ with a childlike love. When we boldly live our primary identity as sons and daughters of Christ, simply love Jesus as a child loves a parent, and spend quiet time in daily prayer, we respond “YES!” to the invitation of Jesus to His feast of communion with Him.

Lee Noel

Gospel October 11, 2020

In the First Reading from Isaiah we have a graphic description of the great banquet that the Lord will prepare not only for the people of Israel, but for all people who hear and answer God’s call. The “veil” or all that separates us from God will be lifted and the spider’s “web” that imprisons us in ignorance and isolation will be brushed aside. At this banquet, there will be rich food and fine wines, there will be neither mourning nor death.

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Increasing Our Faith

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 4, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

A pretty grim parable, no?  Yes, but there is hope, especially if we look at the parable with a Trinitarian lens. 

We might think the King is reckless, careless, and imprudent in sending his son to the rebellious vineyard, especially after all of the previous messengers have been killed.  And we might also think the King is distancing himself from the situation, as if he's saying, "Go, figure it out, Son, while I just hang back at the palace."  But the Son is an ambassador—an extension of the King.  When the Son is rejected and killed, it is the Father ultimately who is rejected and killed.

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Remakes of the Soul

Red Red Wine by UB40 came on Spotify recently, prompting a discussion amongst a group of us of what constitutes a good music remake.  The song, of course, was originally written by Neil Diamond.  The UB40 version is totally different and enjoyable in its own way, making it, in my opinion, a successful remake.  The Joe Cocker remake of the Beatles' classic With a Little Help from My Friends, is another example.  All Along the Watchtower, first by Bob Dylan and then Jimi Hendrix, is great as well. 

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