Letters from a Pastor to His People

Letters from a Pastor to His People

Jesus Wept


Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 29, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The raising of Lazarus is one of my favorite Gospels.  There is so much to pray with in the account.  On my private retreat I make every year, whenever it is, I spend at least one afternoon meditating and reflecting upon this powerful scene.  In last year's parish mission, I offered an extended meditation on the passage.  There is so much to glean from Jesus' encounter at Bethany that I encourage you to pray with this yourself.  You have time!

Jesus wept.  This the shortest verse in all Scripture.  The Gospel of John, chapter 11, verse 35.  Two words.  Jesus wept.

 Christ shed tears about the death of his friend Lazarus, about the sorrow Martha and Mary and the people of Bethany were experiencing, and about the reality that pain, suffering, and death will always be present as long as the earth exists. 

In the Greek text in the Gospel, the word used for Christ's weeping is different than the word used for Martha, Mary, and the residents' weeping.  Jesus' weeping is silent.  Tears soundlessly poured from his eyes.  The others' was more of a sobbing or        even a wailing out loud.  It's not that Christ's form of weeping was better or worse.  It's he practicing the exercising of silent pain, which he will invoke when he stands before Herod and Pilate, and doesn't speak, and when he carries the cross and then hangs upon it.

There are two other times in the Gospel Jesus soundlessly weeps.  He cries when he looks out over the city of Jerusalem, foreseeing its destruction (cf. Luke (Luke 22:44), and when he has his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Luke 19:41-44).  The Letter to the Hebrews also mentions Christ's crying: "Christ, during his earthly life, offered prayer and entreaty to the God who could save him from death, not without a piercing cry, not without tears" (Hebrews 5:7).

There is another instance in scripture where we find the laconic phrase, "he wept."  It is from Genesis 42:24 and is the scene when Joseph encounters his brothers in Egypt, the same brothers who wanted him dead and sold him into slavery.  Joseph wept about his brothers.

Like Joseph, Jesus never cries for himself.  He cries for Jerusalem when he overlooks the city, for the sins of the world in Gethsemane, and for the reality with which he is confronted by Lazarus' death.

Christ feels your pain.  Christ understands your sorrow.  When you weep--whatever the reason might be—our Lord weeps with you. 

Our world and church is weeping right now.  Christ weeps with us. 

And he will raise us.


Yours in Christ,

Fr. James


Rise to the Top like David and the Blind Man

Fr. James with the Friendship Club during its Saint Patrick's Day Party (prior to the Coronavirus) in the newly renovated parish center.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 22, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

As of the submission of this bulletin for publication, the Archdiocesan mandate canceling all Masses and parish activities, including school and religious education, is still in effect. 

Once again, there will be no daily Masses and no Sunday Masses this weekend and upcoming week.  Because of Governor Pritzker’s shelter-in-place mandate, the church and parish office will be closed. We will not be able to open the Church on Sunday morning for individual prayer, nor will the office be open to receive any calls. In the event of an emergency and you need to contact a priest, such as for Anointing of the Sick, please call the emergency number: 847-507-2585.

You will find online a virtual Mass we recorded for this weekend, for you to prayerfully watch at your convenience.  Please consider also praying An Act of Spiritual Communion:


Temples are in our Hearts and Souls

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 15, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

When Christ traveled north to Galilee to begin his ministry, he intentionally took the route that passed through Samaria, a route most Jews avoided.  Samaritans were despised by Israelite Jews.  When the Assyrians invaded several centuries earlier, they married with Israelites, creating this mixed Samaritan race.  For seven hundred years Samaria was occupied by a foreign ruler that implemented the worship of foreign gods or baals.  The Samaritans thus accepted the first five books of the Torah, but they rejected the historical books and believed the true temple was located on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem. 


Bear Your Hardship for the Gospel

Letters from a Pastor to His People- March 8, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

The Transfiguration is an interesting event in the life of Christ.  It's significant, certainly, but not that significant.  Or, I should say, it's not as significant as the Crucifixion or the Resurrection or the Last Supper or, even, the Sermon on the Mount.  It didn't really "do" anything, the way those other events "did" something, like redeem us or teach us a new way of living.  I suppose we could argue the Transfiguration deepened our appreciation that Jesus is divine.  Or maybe we could also say that it transfigured human nature, making it possible for us to be transfigured.


You Are the Temple of God

Back by popular demand! Fr. James with his niece Addy (2) and nephew Sebbie (3)

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 23, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Paul's letter is pure gold.  First, he gives the monumental line: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16).

This is key for the spiritual life.  This reality—that we are temples—is the foundation for all prayer. 

I'm big into prayer, as you know.  To me, it's the center of a priest's life.  If a priest isn't praying, his life is meaningless.  It's a train wreck.  Why?  Because prayer is relationship with God.  Think of being married and never communicating with your spouse.  Your life would be a contradiction.  Same with a priest.


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.


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.


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. 


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:


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...


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.