Letters from a Pastor to His People- August 23, 2020
I love Saint Peter. He has to be my favorite saint. I know I joke with the daily Mass crowd often in my homilies about how I have hundreds of "favorite saints"; how my "top five" list of saints contains about 50. But this I really mean, and I really mean that. Beside the Blessed Mother, Saint Peter is my favorite. The kids in school often ask me who my favorite saint is, and my response is always Peter.
I find it easy to pray with Peter because we see his humanity and, particularly, his imperfections on full display in the Gospels. It's easy, thus, for me to relate to Peter. When I'm impetuous and mess up, as I'm wont to do and as Peter did, it's easy for me to bring that to Jesus and pray with the Lord about it. Peter's my mentor in that respect.
We might see the confession at Caesarea Philippi as Peter's crowning moment. "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God," Peter responds when Jesus asks the apostles who people say that he is (Matthew 16:16). And Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
And we might see the subsequent passage as Peter's low-point. This is when Peter rejects Jesus' prediction of his passion and Jesus says to Peter, "Get behind me Satan! You are an obstacle to me" (Matthew 16:23).
But what if, for fun, we were to argue the opposite? That Peter messing up and being called Satan was actually the highlight, and receiving the keys the lowlight? How could we make this case?
First, if Jesus were to appear to you right now and ask you, "who do you say that I am?", I would hope your response would be something a bit more personal than, "the Messiah." I hope you would respond something like, "Jesus, you're my friend, my lover, the savior of my soul, the God to whom I can bring anything and receive grace, the meaning of my life, the fulfillment of all my desires." Not that Peter was wrong in what he said. It was groundbreaking and the necessary threshold of a response. Peter opened the door for us. But we can respond better to that question.
Second, if Jesus were to appear right now to you and tell you that he was going to go away from you for a time and that you would be alone, how would you respond? I would hope it wouldn't be something, "oh, okay, Jesus, whatever...no big deal." Could you really survive without God, even for a day? I know I couldn't. No, I hope your response would be exactly what Peter said, "God forbid, Lord!"
Tomorrow our students return to school in person with an e-learning option. I'm grateful to Ms. Scotkovsky and all who have worked with her—parents and staff—to implement the plan provided by the Archdiocese of Chicago so we have a healthy and successful school year.
For obvious health and safety reasons, Religious Education will be completely virtual in the fall. Students will not be attending classes in person in the school building. Again, I'm grateful to Mrs. Collins and the catechists for their flexibility, as well as to the RE families for their support.
First Communion and Confirmation, which were postponed in the spring, have been rescheduled. This is for the current 3rd and 8th graders—those who would have made their sacraments last academic year. First Communion will be Sunday, August 30th, with SJS students attending a noon Mass and RE students attending a 3pm Mass. Confirmation will be Sunday, September 13th, with SJS students attending a noon Mass and RE students at 2pm.
A reminder that tomorrow, Monday, we will have Eucharistic Adoration in the church from 6pm-8pm. Confessions will be offered from 6:30-7:30, and I will give a 20-25 minute talk on prayer and the spiritual life at 7:30. We will conclude the evening with Night Prayer (Compline) and Benediction. This is a great chance to be alone with the Lord and deepen your interior life.
As I mentioned last week, we have finished the renovation of the school hall (the lunchroom). And thanks to many donations, in the next month we will be putting bells in the bell tower and moving the new tabernacle to the center behind the altar. And we also will be repainting the church ceiling in October.
Yours in Christ,