July 31, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
Allow me to share with you a short Lectio Divina based on the Gospel’s passage for this Sunday. Lectio Divina is a method to read and pray with Sacred Scriptures. Here I follow four steps: To pray (calling and placing oneself before God), To read (seeking God’s wisdom), To meditate (finding God’s wisdom) and Contemplation (prayer of gratitude).
a. I pray to you good Jesus, that as you have given me the grace to drink in with joy the word that gives knowledge of you, so in your goodness you will grant me to come at length to yourself, the source of all wisdom, to stand before your face forever. Amen. -St. Bede.
2. Reading (Luke 12:13-21)
a. Setting and people: This teaching moment took place on the streets of Jerusalem and therefore it was not a private event between Jesus and his disciples rather it was a public event. The people in the passage are Jesus, the person who made the request to Jesus, the crowd (among them were simple Jewish people, Sadducees, Pharisees, the disciples), the rich man in the parable, and God the Father.
b. Drama and themes: a man in the crowd asked Jesus to be the judge between him and his brother about their inheritance. To whom Jesus replied, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Jesus saw the opportunity to teach not just to the man who asked but to the whole audience present there. The themes are about the sins of greed and laziness, about material possessions, earthly treasures, heavenly treasures among others.
a. By reading God’s word, I find a call to be aware of the proper use for material possessions. It is an invitation to live only with that which is strictly necessary, to avoid accumulation of unnecessary things which makes life more difficult. It is also an invitation to be generous with others by sharing my material blessings. It is an opportunity to make an honest examination of conscience and see whether I have been affected by the sins of envy or laziness and seek forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. I learned that even when we enjoy many material blessings such as housing, cars, and jobs we cannot forget to work for the treasures which endure forever. We cannot forget that which make us grow in holiness such as prayer, sacraments, devotions, etc.
a. Loving God, I praise you for your kindness and mercy towards me. I am grateful for the many blessings you bestow upon me: for family, the community of St. Patrick, good health, the great people you have called me to work with. Make St. Patrick a great family of love and service.
July 24, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
This past Tuesday, we held a meeting with the Adult Faith Formation Committee. The purpose of this meeting was to evaluate the recent programs we have offered to the community and to plan for new programs as we continue to find ways to strengthen the ongoing formation for our parishioner.
As you know, we registered the parish last November for a one year term to FORMED.ORG. It is the best online catholic teaching resource all in one place. We are aware that only those families who have computers and internet at home have full access to this resource. So far, we have eighty nine people registered to FORMED.ORG. It is also designed to organize study groups for gatherings to learn more about their Catholic faith. We have decided that FORMED.ORG is a great program to have, and so we are planning to renew the parish registration this coming November for one more year.
I am looking forward to meeting with the Communications Committee on Monday, July 25th. This will be the second meeting since we began working with this group.
On August 1st, we have scheduled a regular meeting with the Parish Finance Council. Currently we are evaluating the conditions of the parish parking lot.
On Saturday, August 6th, we will host the first meeting with the Men’s Ministry. We pray and hope to create an environment of discipleship and fellowship for the men of St. Patrick Parish.
On August 9th, we will meet with the Parish Pastoral Council. The pastoral council oversees the different ministries and committees and gives advice to the pastor about pastoral initiatives.
I know that it is summer and several of you are taking time off; however, before the busy season of school and fast coming Advent arrive, we need to take time for planning and organizing ministries and committees. I am very pleased to see many of you taking active roles in the different ministries and committees in the parish; and for that, I want to thank you.
God bless St. Patrick’s Church.
July 17, 2016
The Catholic Church in the United States is dedicating July 24th through the 30th as a time for us to be aware and learn more about Natural Family Planning (NFP). Rightly so, the Church needs to stress NFP, because it is the correct teaching/understanding about human sexuality. The Diocese of Rockford, through the Life and Family Evangelization office, offers the Gift of Self: Marriage Preparation Seminar for all couples preparing for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
This event is “a day-long retreat for couples preparing for marriage in the Catholic Church. It is presented at various locations around the diocese throughout the year. The day includes a series of presentations that will help couples grow in their understanding of the sacrament of matrimony, reflect on the gift of themselves that they are preparing to make to one another, and deepen their relationship with God and one another.” (www.rockforddiocese.org)
During my years of theology at KenrickGlennon Seminary in St. Louis, MO, I had the opportunity to receive formation from Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers, MD. Dr. Hilgers is internationally recognized for his outstanding achievements in the field of natural fertility regulation and reproductive medicine. He is the founder of Pope Paul VI Institute (www.popepaulvi.com).
Now in my ministry, I help with the Gift of Self: Marriage Preparation Seminars, sharing with couples the theology of the body. Because these teachings of the Church are unfamiliar to many, I have found it important to share them with you at this time.
NFP and the theology of the body is the counterpoint for all the misunderstandings about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and human sexuality. Therefore, if you have not heard about these teachings of the Church, I invite you to invest time in leaning about them.
God Bless St. Patrick’s Parish.
July 10, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
As we read the book of Deuteronomy, we come across God’s invitation to listen to his voice. What exactly does listening to God mean? I think that if we correlate God’s invitation to listen to him with a particular situation in life, we will know what He meant by that invitation. As you might know by experience, there are times in which we need to make very important decisions. These decisions will bring big changes in our lives; and as we know, we do not feel comfortable with big changes.
But let’s think about it. If we want to be in a better place, in a better situation and in better conditions, then the time has come. We can name a few of those situations; considering married life, discerning the right career and college, moving to a new place, changing a job or planning retirement.
I personally had gone through a few of those decisions which came along with big changes. I was twenty four years old and the time had come to decide whether I would stay in my native country, Colombia, or if I should move to the United States and make my home there. At first there was uncertainty and anxiety. Why should I leave my family, my culture, my language and even the food which I am used to? On the other hand, I knew that if I moved, I would learn a new language and a new culture. I would have a great opportunity to study; I would possibly become a priest and live my ministry there.
When it comes to crucial decisions, there are three steps which I follow. First, I listen to and trust God; and by this I mean that I bring that decision to God in the context of prayer. Prayer, in this case, is an open and honest dialogue with God. I also give God the time to speak to my inner conscience. Second, I listen to and trust my mentors. We all have persons to whom we go for advice; if we don’t, we should. They want the best for us, and they will also be honest with us. Third, trust in yourself, trust in your capacities, and make that decision your own.
God bless you all.
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.