A Holy Year of Mercy
This Advent is a special one for us because we will enter into a Jubilee of Mercy that has been proclaimed by Pope Francis. It begins with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th and concludes with the feast of Christ the King on November 20, 2016. The humble Pope Francis desires all believers to encounter the mercy of God. He states, “It is indeed my wish that a Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.” (On our parish website, icsjparish.org, you can read Pope Francis’ letter of introduction to the Year of Mercy.)
The Jubilee of Mercy is a graced opportunity for all of us to appreciate more deeply how the mercy of God has taken hold of our lives and, at the same time, how we can bring that same mercy into the world through our own actions and the way we live our lives.
What can we spiritually do during this Year of Mercy to better know God’s love? Well, in a very practical way, Pope Francis has asked the Church to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Pope Francis reminds us that, “The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us.” These are simple opportunities to live mercy every day.
The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are actions we can perform that extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need. These kind acts help our neighbor with their material and physical needs.
Corporal Works of Mercy
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead
Spiritual Works of Mercy
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion by which we help our neighbor with their emotional and spiritual needs.
Counsel the doubtful
Instruct the ignorant
Convert the sinner
Comfort the afflicted
Bear wrongs patiently
Pray for the living and the dead
The Jubilee of Mercy will be celebrated in the Archdiocese of Chicago with a full schedule of events. The first will be the commencement of the Jubilee with the opening of the Holy Door on Sunday, December 13th at Holy Name Cathedral.
Come To The Feast!
Note that Tuesday, December 8th is a holy day of obligation as we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The complete Mass schedule for the day is listed in today's bulletin.
As a way of fostering parish unity, all are invited to our evening Mass that will be celebrated at 6:00 PM at Immaculate Conception Church. Note that before Mass, at 5:00 PM, there will be a reading of the Papal Bull of Introduction to the Year of Mercy. Parishioners can gather to reflect on the letter from Pope Francis that is filled with wisdom and encouragement. A reception will take place after Mass as we celebrate our parish’s feast day. Come and share in the fellowship and hospitality.
God's Love Never Ends
Congratulations to the children from our Religious Education Program and Parish School who celebrated their First Reconciliation with their parents on Saturday. The small white candles burning in the sanctuary represent the children who received God's love and mercy offered through the sacrament. The most important thing that they have learned is that God never stops loving us! That is the good news that Jesus proclaimed.
The Word Is Mercy
Fr. Larry McBrady will be offering an Advent Day of Prayer on Saturday morning, December 12th at St. Joseph Parish Center, from 8:45 am to 12:00 noon. Fr. Larry is a gifted and experienced spiritual director. You will enjoy his presentations. Set aside the time for yourself to reflect on God’s loving presence in your life. Please register on-line here if you plan to attend the Day of Prayer so that we can plan accordingly for the day.
Christmas Giving Tree
Thank you to all who have participated in our Christmas Giving Tree program. Your gifts will bring hope and joy to the families that are in need. Your generosity is a great hallmark of our parish.
Parish Transformation Program
The Parish Transformation Committee has completed all 10 meetings. I thank everyone for their time and contributions to the committee over the past weeks. The steering committee members will be meeting on December 9th to talk about our next steps more in depth with the members of the Parish Council, Finance Committee, and Pastoral Staff; and prepare our plans to share with Bishop Kane in January. Upcoming information and opportunities to become involved will be shared with parishioners in the coming weeks. In January, the committee will also share our completed mission narrative and action plans.
Each committee has worked hard to develop an action plan. The themes of the action plans include continuing to build community, encouraging participation by all ICSJ students and staff members of the school. We want to work on reaching out to our teen and young adult community specifically. It is important to identify ourselves as one parish community and have a holistic identity. Financially we are looking at ways to create operating efficiencies and designing ways to increase financial stewardship and continue to address the debt. Ultimately we want to build the foundation for a sustainable future and enduring future that supports both current and future parishioners.
This is the time of the year when we receive many worthy requests from various charities asking for our financial support. There are many great organizations serving those is serious need. I personally try to respond to a couple of charities; the ones that I have become most fond of their mission over the years.
As we approach the end of the year, please remember Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph in your Christmas giving. Our current deficit for Sunday collections is $46,449. Hopefully our Christmas giving will help us to pick-up where we are running short.
The parish offers many practical and helpful ways to make an “End of the Year Gift.” Your generosity is greatly appreciated.
May these days of Advent be filled with the grace and blessings of God .