Dear brothers and sisters,
No doubt, this past week was very special to us with the visit of Pope Francis to the US, watching him on TV and especially listening to his speeches. There is a lot that we can learn from his words. One of his many teachings which stays with me was to work for the culture of the encounter. He said it both in the context of politics and church ministry.
Let us analyze these two words: culture and encounter. When something becomes part of the culture, it stays; it does not go away. It is accepted by society at large. The pope is asking us to work for and build something which will last over time. The other word, encounter, is certainly not in the meaning of confrontation or unexpected meeting. With Pope Francis, it is quite the opposite. Encounter, in the words of the Pope, is coming together, working together, building community and helping each other.
The Pope’s words are very prophetic and full of hope. We live in times in which international relationships are more hostile than friendly. The other’s difference is a cause for enmity rather than tolerance. Dialogue is not part of this culture. The culture of the encounter, therefore, is a call to the nation’s leaders to be open to listening to their neighbors, even when it is uncomfortable, to keep the dialogue going, and to be able to live in a peaceful environment despite the nations’ differences.
As the Pope addressed the Bishops, acknowledging the many challenges which the church faces locally, he also said, “We are builders of the culture of the encounter.” We are called to build the culture of the encounter in the setting of our parish communities. Any time that we gather in any of our facilities, either to pray, teach, study, or work, we are building the culture of the encounter. The first blessing of any church’s gathering is the fact that people come together.
The culture of the encounter fosters unity and communion. Every encounter of the community is a way of preparing, both personal and communal, to the personal encounter with the Lord; encounter which reaches its climax in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Sunday. I would like to acknowledge those of you who gather here at St. Pat’s to either pray, teach, learn or work. Even more, I take this opportunity to acknowledge your presence every Sunday at the Holy Eucharist. God bless you.
Dear brothers and sisters,
This weekend, we celebrate the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time. The Catholic Church in the United Sates has declared this weekend to be “Catechetical Sunday.” It is an opportunity to pray for and recognized the hard work of all those who are part of this important ministry. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks, on behalf of the community, to our catechists and assistants who offer their time and knowledge to the noble ministry of catechesis through Religious Education, Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and Adult Formation. Only through your dedicated service is St. Patrick Parish able to accomplish its mission. Thank you for all you do for St. Patrick Parish.
The week ahead of us is also special because the Vicar of Christ on earth will visit our country. Pope Francis will arrive in Washington D.C. on Tuesday evening. His main reason for visiting the US is to pray and to close the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. His visit is indeed an occasion to rejoice.
Pope Francis is a great advocate of the Church’s new evangelization, based on the values of family life. He has made an open call to the world’s leaders to make a greater effort in the assistance of the poor. The Pope encourages us to grow in the spirit of compassion and empathy for those who face challenges such as marriage outside of the Church, immigration and homosexual attractions. We need to find ways to help and to make them feel they are part of our Church.
Finally, I just want to say, let us not be distracted by the secular media which will try to displace the core of the Pope’s message. Let us listen directly to his message. Let us make an effort to understand his words and make them relevant in our lives and community. May the presence of Pope Francis in our land be an occasion to renew our commitment with God and our Church.
God bless you all.
Dear brothers and sisters:
Mark, the evangelist, writes that while Jesus and his disciples were visiting towns throughout the region of Caesarea, Jesus asked the disciples: “‘who do people say that I am?’ They said in reply, ‘John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.’ And he asked them, ‘but who do you say that I am?’ Peter said to him in reply, ‘you are the Christ.’” (Mark 8:27-28).
Regarding Jesus’ identity, among the Jews, there was confusion. Jesus was a mysterious and difficult person to understand or to equate with one of the established groups such as the Sadducees, Pharisees or Essenes. People recognized that he was somehow extraordinary in his teachings and deeds. Jesus needed his disciples to have a clear understanding about him, and so He asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter, the oldest among the disciples, took the lead and spoke on behalf of the group; “you are the Christ.” From that very moment on, in the gospel of Mark, Jesus’ identity is revealed.
Notice also the fact that Jesus never declares himself as the Christ. Instead, his words and deeds will hopefully guide the crowd to recognize him as the Son of God. The first ones to realize Jesus’ identity were his disciples. This question, brothers and sisters, has to be answered by us as well. Who is Christ for us?
It is not only the Jews who were confused about Jesus’ true identity. Today, in fact, we may have as many answers to that question as we have people to ask. We can perceive that today people have a vague or wrong idea about Christ. For some, Christ is a distant God whom they do not see in their lives. For others, Christ is the God to whom they will go to in time of danger or fear but not on a daily basis with a permanent commitment. Some people establish an individual/personal relationship with God, thinking that there is no need to be affiliated with the Church. While it is true that we can pray individually to God, we cannot deny the fact that Jesus’ first act in his ministry was to establish the community of disciples. Today, we even encounter people who think that God is a human creation in order to justify a set of values and norms.
I pray and hope that we all can say with Peter, You are the Christ, You are the Messiah.
May God bless you all.
Dear Brothers and sisters,
This weekend I am sharing with you one of many reflections written by our Bishop David Malloy and published in The Observer, the official newspaper of our diocese. He writes,
“In a mere five weeks, Pope Francis will come for his first in his lifetime visit to the United States. He is coming to be part of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. His presence will remind us of another way in which the world and the United States needs his light and ours. That has to do with the sad state of the modern family and the challenges confronting our young people.
According to one set of statistics, since 1965, the number of couples entering marriage in the Catholic Church has fallen by roughly 55 percent. During that same period, the number of infant baptisms in the Church has declined by roughly 45 percent. However, the number of first born children born outside of marriage is now about 40 percent.
In short, the number of marriages is plummeting while the number of young people who choose cohabitation or other arrangements in place of marriage is rising. Further, marriage is being seen more and more as an optional arrangement when having children. And we need to be honest. This is happening in Catholic families at a high rate as well. The decline of the family has profound spiritual consequences for the individuals involved. The passage of time has not made fornication and unchastity any less of a grave sin than in the letters and times of St. Paul.
The consequences in our struggle for life eternal, and the potential loss of life with Christ are not often mentioned, but eternity in hell is dreadful to ponder. For that alone our light is needed to awaken souls. But humanly and for our society, the collapse of the family and its attendant values has tremendously painful earthly consequences for individuals.
Husbands and wives must make the lived commitment that their marriage is the defining part of their faith and their search for salvation. Every other part of life must be in service to their marriage as they search for holiness. Husbands and wives must show each other, the world, and especially their children how to give of themselves fully to the other. Then, as part of the family, both must give themselves fully to their children.” Bishop David Malloy.
Bishop Malloy, as our local ordinary, is always finding ways to connect with us. I encourage you to read his columns published every weekend in The Observer, God bless you all.
Queridos hermanos y hermanas,
Este fin de semana les quiero compartir una de las muchas reflexiones escritas por nuestro obispo David Malloy y publicadas en El Observador cada mes. El escribe,
“El papa Francisco viene a los Estados Unidos por primera vez en su vida. Viene a ser parte del Encuentro Mundial de las Familias en Filadelfia. Su presencia nos recuerda de otra manera que el mundo y los Estados Unidos necesitan su luz y la nuestra. Eso tiene que ver con el triste estado de la familia moderna y los desafíos que enfrentan nuestros jóvenes.
De acuerdo a un sistema de estadísticas, desde 1965, el número de parejas casadas en matrimonio católico ha disminuido en cincuenta y cinco por ciento. Durante el mismo periodo, el número de niños bautizados en la Iglesia ha decaído en un cuarenta y cinco por ciento. En consecuencia, el número de primeros hijos nacidos fuera del matrimonio es ahora cerca del cuarenta por ciento.
En resumen, el número de matrimonios disminuye mientras aumenta el número de jóvenes que deciden la unión libre u otros arreglos en lugar del matrimonio. Además, el matrimonio está siendo visto más y más como un arreglo opcional cuando se tienen hijos. Y tenemos que ser honestos. Esto también está sucediendo en las familias católicas a un ritmo elevado. El declive de la familia tiene profundas consecuencias espirituales para los individuos involucrados. El paso del tiempo no ha hecho de la fornicación y la falta de castidad un pecado menos grave que en las cartas y los tiempos de San Pablo.
Las consecuencias en nuestra lucha por la vida eterna, y la pérdida potencial de la vida con Cristo, no se mencionan con frecuencia, pero la terrible eternidad en el infierno es algo para reflexionar. Sólo por eso es necesaria nuestra luz para despertar las almas. Sin embargo, humanamente y para nuestra sociedad, el colapso de la familia y sus consiguientes valores tiene consecuencias terrenales tremendamente dolorosas para las personas.
Esposos y esposas deben hacer del compromiso vivido en su matrimonio, la parte determinante de su fe y su búsqueda de salvación. Todas las partes deben estar al servicio de la vida de su matrimonio mientras buscan la santidad. Esposos y esposas deben mostrar, al mundo y especialmente sus hijos cómo se entregan totalmente. Entonces, como parte de la familia, ambos deben entregarse totalmente a sus hijos.” Obispo David Malloy.
El Obispo Malloy, como nuestro ordinario local, esta siempre buscando maneras de conectar con nosotros. Te invito a que leas sus columnas publicadas cada mes en El Observador. Dios los bendiga a todos.
20th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Dear brothers and sisters,
As we approach the month of September, all the school and sport activities come back to normal. It is time, therefore, to remind us that catholic education is not only for children. The spiritual life of a person requires continual prayer and formation. Along these lines let me ask, when was the last time you took a class about the sacraments, scripture, church history, moral theology or any other subject pertaining to our catholic faith? St. Patrick does care about the formation for children as well as adults. In doing so, St. Patrick is about to open two programs organized and oriented toward the formation for adults.
Beginning this Sunday, August 30th at 10:30 am at the Learning Center and for about five or six weeks, the Adult Faith Formation Committee will offer classes which will give attendees a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Participants will also learn the Biblical roots of the sacraments and will become prepared, as apologists, to explain and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church.
On Saturday September 12th at 6 pm at the Learning Center we will begin the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Once again, these classes are open to all adults who are interested in learning more about the Catholic Faith. In particular, this program of formation will introduce our new members to the teachings of the church. At the same time, candidates will have proper formation so that they will be prepared to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation at the Solemn Easter Vigil on Saturday March 26th 2016.
I hope that many of our parishioners will take the opportunity to learn more about Christ and his teaching as we began these programs. God bless you.
Queridos hermanos y hermanas,
A medida que nos acercamos al mes de septiembre, todas las actividades escolares y deportivas regresan a lo normal. Es tiempo, entonces, de recordar que la educación católica no es solo para niños. La vida espiritual de una persona requiere continua oración y educación. Con eso en mente, permítanme preguntar ¿cuándo fue la última vez que tomaron una clase sobre los sacramentos, las Sagradas Escrituras, la historia de la Iglesia, la teología moral o cualquier otro tema relacionado a nuestra fe católica? A San Patricio le interesa la formación de los niños así como la de los adultos. Es por esto que San Patricio está a punto de iniciar dos programas organizados y orientados hacia la formación de adultos.
Desde este domingo 30 de agosto a las 10:30 a.m. en el Centro de Aprendizaje y por cinco a seis semanas, el Comité de Formación de Fe para Adultos va a ofrecer clases que le brindarán a los participantes un entendimiento y apreciación más profunda de los sacramentos del Bautismo y la Confirmación. Los participantes también aprenderán sobre las raíces bíblicas de los sacramentos y se prepararán, como apologistas, para explicar y defender las enseñanzas de la Iglesia Católica.
El sábado 12 de septiembre a las 6 p.m. en el Centro de Aprendizaje, vamos a empezar el Rito de Iniciación Cristiana para Adultos. Otra vez, estas clases están abiertas a todas las personas adultas que estén interesadas en aprender más sobre la fe católica. Este programa educativo va a introducir a nuestros nuevos miembros a las enseñanzas de la Iglesia. Al mismo tiempo, los candidatos van a obtener la formación apropiada para que estén preparados para recibir los sacramentos del Bautismo, la Santa Eucaristía y la Confirmación durante la solemne Vigilia Pascual el sábado 26 de marzo del 2016.
Espero que muchos de nuestros feligreses tengan la oportunidad de aprender más sobre Cristo y sus enseñanzas al empezar estos programas. Que Dios los bendiga.
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Continuing formation in our catholic faith is paramount. We are always looking for ways to offer you opportunities to grow in understanding and appreciation of our catholic teachings. I would like to extend an invitation to join the following program offered by the Adult Education Committee.
Father Lopez has formed an Adult Education Committee for the purpose of offering and conducting a variety of classes in faith formation for adult members of the parish. The first of such classes is designed to give attendees a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
Attendees will also learn the Biblical roots of the sacraments and will become prepared, as apologists, to explain and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church. A one hour class will be held at the Learning Center at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays beginning August 30th and will continue for about 5 weeks (not including Labor Day weekend).
Please sign up at the parish office if you wish to attend. If we are to evangelize our families and our community in these trying times, we must first commit to secure for ourselves a deeper understanding of our faith. In Christ, Bob Chadwick.
Brothers and sisters, this is an opportunity for us to help and learn from each other. I pray and hope that after being nourished with the Bread of Life on Sunday you will make time to learn more about our Lord. God bless you and your family.
Es primordial que continuemos la formación de nuestra fe católica. Nosotros siempre estamos buscando formas de ofrecerles oportunidades para que tengan un mayor entendimiento y apreciación de las enseñanzas católicas. Es por esto que me gustaría invitarlos a que se unan al siguiente programa ofrecido por el Comité de Educación para Adultos.
El Padre López ha formado un Comité de Educación para Adultos con el propósito de ofrecer y desarrollar una variedad de clases de formación religiosa para miembros adultos de nuestra parroquia. La primera de estas clases ha sido desarrollada para que los que participen en ella tengan un entendimiento y apreciación más profunda de los sacramentos del bautismo y la confirmación.
Los participantes también aprenderán sobre las raíces bíblicas de los sacramentos y se prepararán como apologetas para explicar y defender las enseñanzas de la Iglesia Católica. Habrá clases de una hora de duración en el Centro de Educación a las 11:30 a.m. los domingos empezando el 30 de agosto y continuando por aproximadamente 5 semanas (sin incluir el fin de semana del Día del Trabajo).
Si quiere asistir, regístrese en la oficina parroquial. Para evangelizar a nuestras familias y a nuestra comunidad en estos tiempos difíciles, primero tenemos que asegurarnos que nosotros mismos tengamos un entendimiento más profundo de nuestra fe. En Cristo, Bob Chadwick.
Queridos hermanos y hermanas, esta es una oportunidad para que nosotros nos ayudemos y aprendamos el uno del otro. Espero que después de haber recibido el Pan de Vida los domingos tengas tiempo de aprender más sobre nuestro Señor.
Que Dios los bendiga a ustedes y a sus familias,
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.