All of Us – #176

Fr. Larry Lisowski Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish Catholic Church in Chicago

Walking Into Heaven

It was Tuesday afternoon. The elevator bell rang and the squeaky door slid opened. I exited making my way down to my office on the third floor of Immaculate Conception Church to sign a stack of checks. Believe me, this is not the highlight of the day for any pastor.

As I made my way down the long the hallway I heard a bunch of tiny giggles coming from one of the offices. As I got closer I heard: “I got SpaghettiOs!” “I got Oatmeal!” “Look a bag of chocolate bars!” “Wowwwww!”

I quietly peaked into the big office and saw a bunch of third graders and their teacher sorting and packing the food donations for our Thanksgiving deliveries. The room was filled wall to wall with boxes, cans, and bags that came in through our school and parish over the past couple of weeks.

The kids in the room where having a great time pretending they were professional baggers at a supermarket. I asked them to grab their favorite item so that we could take a picture together.

Afterwards I thought to myself, this is what heaven is going to be like, one big feast! Everyone is happy. We have more than what we need. Nobody is in want. Generosity is overflowing. 

Yes, God does surprise us now and then with a glimpse of what heaven is going to be like for us. For now, we just have to keep our eyes peeled.

Thank you to all you who made donations to our recent Thanksgiving Food collection. You helped God bring a little part of heaven to earth for us.

“Being Ready For Christ!”

You will notice that a few things are different today when you walk into church. Why? Well, it’s Advent!

The music and the songs selected have a different style and feel to them. Our church that was once decorated with the color green to reflect summer and the liturgical season of ordinary time, has been flipped over to a blue-ish purple. A wreath with four candles is placed near the altar to help trace the spiritual journey that we start this Sunday. The scripture readings that we hear proclaimed encourage us to be ready, prepared, awake and on the watch for what will happen and for who is about to come.

Our parish theme for this Advent is: “Being Ready For Christ!” 

To say that this is a busy time for folks is truly an under-statement. Lots of things have to get done before Christmas. My guess is that most families shift into overdrive at this time of the year.

For me, the challenge every Advent provides us to not get distracted by all the hoopla and fluff that comes with Christmas. I don’t want to sound like an old Scrooge but I need to remember what this season is truly about. The mystery of the Incarnation can get lost in all the shopping, cooking, gift -wrapping, and entertaining that take place. Celebrating the birth of the Christ-child can be lost among the reindeer, ginger bread houses, snowmen, eggnog shots and jingle bells.

Advent invites us into a spiritual state of “being.” Hopefully our prayer these next four weeks will keep us from being frazzled and stressed-out. May our generosity especially to the poor and hungry keep us mindful of those who are struggling at this time of the year, and put things into perspective.   

May we enjoy all that Advent has to offer. May we “be” in peace. May we “be” filled with the joy of knowing that Jesus enters into our lives. May we “be” ready for Christ when he comes. 

The Gift of Giving

This is a season filled with gift-giving. We will go far to find the right gift for the right person. Sometimes we pray that it fits; that they like it; and that it doesn't end up as "re-gifting" and passed along to the next person. 

Give yourself a gift this Advent -the gift of prayer. Allow yourself the time to not just catch your breath, but reflect and rest in the presence of God's love. It can be a great opportunity for renewal. 

Consider attending morning Mass during the weeks of Advent. Prayer is a great way to begin your day. The scripture readings for this season are filled with lots of hope and a ton of promise. 

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The Cardinal is Coming!

I am happy and excited to announce that Cardinal Blasé Cupich will be coming to our parish on Sunday, December 11th. He will celebrate the 9:30 AM Mass at Immaculate Conception Church. After Mass, a breakfast will be served in our Parish Hall at Immaculate Conception Church. Parishioners will have the opportunity to a “meet and greet” with the Cardinal.

In order to make sure we have enough food, it is very important that parishioners RSVP for the breakfast so that we can have an accurate headcount. Please call Clair Martin at 312-787-7174 to reserve your spot at the reception.

There are many good reasons as to why we are honored to have Cardinal Cupich come to Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph Parish. Even though he lives and works so close to our parish, this will be his first visit to our parish. Secondly, we celebrate his recent appointment to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis. The Cardinal has also been instrumental and supportive in the combination of our two parish communities into one community of faith. Plus, in our recent Jubilee Year of Mercy, he has shown an extreme act of mercy by helping to relieve the majority of our $12 million debt to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Our To Teach Who Christ Is capital campaign has been very successful largely due to the fact the Archdiocese will match $11 to every $1 dollar that we raise in the capital campaign. 

Come and let us pray and give thanks for the many ways that Cardinal Cupich has blessed our parish. 

– Fr. Larry