Answering God’s Call
Today’s readings describe people who respond to the call of the Lord: Isaiah, St. Paul, and the first disciples. There was a hesitant response initially born from a sense of unworthiness. Yet, each of them in time was reassured and ultimately accepted their mission.
In today’s gospel, Peter is busy doing his fisherman’s work. Jesus calls him, totally unexpectedly, by hopping on his boat. Peter does what Jesus asks, only to be asked to do more, to lower his nets for a catch. Jesus is telling Peter how to do his job. Lots of fish were caught. Peter is confused by it all. He didn’t search Jesus out. Jesus found him. Peter can’t ignore the call or put Jesus on hold. He is hooked.
In the midst of the confusion in life that surrounds us, and the noise that envelopes us, we need to listen. Jesus is calling. And it brings us, like Peter, to follow him.
Jesus was a smart man in the sense that he knew he needed people to help him in his mission. Sometimes he felt “burnt-out” when he tried to do it all on his own. He needed to find a quiet place to pray and recharge. That is why he invited, empowered and commissioned others to preach, teach and heal so that his ministry could be shared with others.
A wise priest once gave me some good advice when I first became a pastor. He said that the job of being a pastor is to give other people jobs in the parish. That is the key to a successful and vibrant parish. If a pastor tries to do it all on his own he is setting himself up for failure. A lot will not get done.
I have learned that there are a lot more folks out there who are smarter and more talented that I am. They are capable and qualified to do a better job in certain areas of parish life. A good parish is one where many are able to share their gifts and talents.
Our parish has recently completed the Parish Transformation Program in December. Over the next several months there will be a variety of opportunities for parishioners to become involved; ranging from helping the poor, to teaching children about our Catholic faith, to inviting people who have been away from the Church to join us for our Sunday worship. How might God be calling you to serve in our parish?
“United In Faith”
Please take the time to read through the information that is included in today’s bulletin, and here on our website, regarding the combining of our two parishes. The Parish Transformation Committee has worked hard in the past months to make sure that information was clear and consistent. If you have any questions please call our Parish Office at 312-944-1230 and one of the members of the Parish Transformation Team will respond to your request.
Note that after all the Masses this weekend and next weekend, members of the Parish Transformation Team will be available after Mass to answer any questions. A Q&A can also be found here on our website.
“Renew My Church”
Over the past several months, Archbishop Cupich has been meeting with the clergy of the archdiocese to look at the needs and challenges of the Church of Chicago. It is evident that the archdiocese has changed in significant ways over the past several decades. Demographics have shifted dramatically. Some parish buildings in the archdiocese are in disrepair. We have fewer priests to pastor our faith communities. The result is that we end up spreading our resources too thinly. Archbishop Cupich mentioned that, “we should not be afraid to face these realities, but rather see this moment as a graced opportunity to chart new ways to live out our mission more fully.”
Archbishop Cupich feels that we approach this work at a moment when the Church is graced by the leadership of Pope Francis, who has been quite forthright in sharing his hopes and dreams with us. His namesake, Francis of Assisi, did the same in his time. In an era of menacing challenges within and outside the Church, he was given a dream about what the Church could be and responded to Christ’s urging to renew it.
You may know the story. Visiting the dilapidated Church of San Damiano, Francis came to understand that Christ was calling him to renew the Church, not just rebuild a structure.
In the coming months Archbishop Cupich will continue having conversations with clergy and lay leaders about ways that we can “Renew the Church.”
Welcome Assumption, BVM
This weekend we greet our friends from our Sharing Parish, Assumption BVM. Fr. Perez will preside at the 5:00p.m. Mass on Saturday at Immaculate Conception. It is a great moment for us to pray together around the table of the Lord. Thank you for all of the support that you give to our Sharing Parish throughout the year.
On Wednesday we begin the season of Lent, a sacred time in which we try to unite ourselves more closely to the Lord Jesus Christ as we journey toward his passion, death and resurrection.
Throughout Lent let us keep in mind that the Lord never ceases to have mercy on us. He desires to offer his forgiveness to us again and again. We are invited to return to him with a new heart so that we can take part in his resurrected joy.
Spiritual conversion happens through prayer, fasting and acts of charity. These traditions practices have lead thousands of sinners to the arms of God, our tender and merciful Father. That is why we rely on them year after year. They work.
I hope you will be able to prayer and worship with us on Ash Wednesday (view Mass schedule). Ashes will be distributed at all Masses.
Abstinence from meats is to be observed by all Catholics 14 years old and older on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of Lent. Fasting is to be observed on Ash Wednesday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. Those who are bound by this may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted if necessary to maintain strength according to one‘s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.
The special Paschal fast and abstinence are prescribe for Good Friday and encouraged for Holy Saturday.
The Big Game
We are lucky that the Super Bowl sneaks in before Lent starts. Americans will consume an estimated 325.5 million gallons of beer on the day. This equals about 50 million cases of beer. Just imagine how many chicken wings will be devoured!