Before starting Mass last weekend the family that was invited to light the Advent wreath asked me, “Why is there a pink candle on the wreath, and all the other ones are purple?”
I told them that we light the pink candle next Sunday because we are “over the hump.” We have journeyed past the half-way mark of the Advent season.
Actually, this Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent, is known as “Guadete Sunday” (from the Latin meaning “rejoice”.) Pink (or rose) is the color of joy. Our hearts are filled with the joy knowing that Jesus is almost here. We light the pink candle on the Advent wreath to represent the joy we feel to welcome Jesus in Christmas.
There is also great joy this Sunday as we welcome Cardinal Blase Cupich to our parish. We are blessed to have him join us at the table of the Lord, and to lead our historic and gifted faith community in prayer. We are grateful for the all the help, support and encouragement that the Cardinal has given to our parish. May we keep the Cardinal in our prayers as he shepherds the Church of Chicago.
Next weekend, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be celebrated before all of our Masses. Fr. McBrady and I will be available to hear individual confessions in church. Consider using the sacrament as a way to help you spiritually prepare for the coming of Christmas. Even if it has been a long time since you went to confession, know that God’s love and mercy is always waiting there for us. As priests, we are committed to making it a positive and renewing experience. We will guide you with care and understanding. What are the things you want to tell God that you are sorry about? Let yourself be embraced by God’s love this Advent. View Reconciliation times here.
The Gift of Giving
Thank you to all who have been so generous to our parish in the past few months.
Thank you to all who participated in our Christmas Giving Program. Your gift will make a huge difference for so many families who are financially struggling this Christmas.
Thank you to all who have been able to make a commitment to our To Teach Who Christ Is capital campaign. I am thrilled to announce that we have reached $1.5M and that 198 familieshave made a commitment. If you have not made a pledge yet, you can do so on line at our parish website: icsjparish.org., or use one of the pledge cards today.
An early thank you goes out to those who will help decorate our churches for Christmas. In the back of church today you can sign-up to help. Our teens have also graciously offered to help get our churhces ready for Christmas (learn more about the Teen Christmas Project & Party).
Come And See Christmas
Today’s bulletin contains our complete Christmas Mass schedule. You can refer to it as you make your holiday plans for church. I hope you and your family will be able to celebrate and worship with us this Christmas season. Our staff has been working hard to ensure that our liturgies are beautiful and sacred events as we praise God for the gift of God’s son.
This Christmas, consider extending an invitation to someone who has been away from the church for awhile. Ask them to come, see and pray with you. Their presence at Mass would be a special gift.
One of the constant refrains in the gospel is “Come follow me!” Mother Teresa of Calcutta heard that call in September of 1948 and she never looked back. Peter, James and John left their nets and boats and pursued Jesus. Seldom do we hear Jesus telling people to stay home.
Like they say …“It doesn’t hurt to ask.”
Recently I was appointed by Cardinal Cupich to serve as the Dean for Vicariate 2-D, while retaining my position as pastor for Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parish.
Our large archdiocese, that covers Lake and Cook Counties, is organizationally broken-up into six “Vicariates.” Each Vicariate is assigned an Episcopal Vicar to shepherd the people of God. Bishop Frank Kane is our Vicar who is responsible to pastorally govern and support the 57 parishes of Vicariate 2.
Each Vicariate consists of several Deaneries that are a group of parishes – similar to how Wards work in the city of Chicago. Our Vicariate 2 consists of six Deaneries. Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parish is in Deanery 2-D that has ten parishes; representing part of the downtown area of the city (e.g. Holy Name Cathedral and Assumption parish) as well as the near north side of Chicago (e.g. St. Clement and St. Josaphat parish.)
Some of my responsibilities as Dean consist of assisting Bishop Kane in overseeing the 10 parishes in our region; to provide liturgical, formational, social and administrative leadership for the Deanery; to link the parishes of the Deanery with the larger Church; act as an advisor to Bishop Kane and serve as a member of the Vicariate Team.
One of the reasons I said, “yes” to the job was that I really have enjoyed working with the pastors and their staff members from our Deanery in the past three years. There is a strong sense of camaraderie and mutual support in carrying on the mission of Jesus Christ.
The reality is that I will have a more than handful of meetings to add to my schedule. Yet, I made a promise to myself that I will be faithful to my “day-off” which is on Thursday. Please keep me in your prayers as I accept this new ministry.
Prepare A Way For The Lord
I came across an Advent prayer last week that was written by Fr. Austin Fleming. I liked it because at this time of year when things get real busy and nutty with lots of things to do for Christmas, this prayer can help to keep us spiritually focused and grounded in what we are actually celebrating. May this prayer bring you some peace this Advent.
Prepare a way for you, Lord?
I’ve got lots of work to do!
Help me prepare a way for you into my home, Lord: help me find a place, a room, a corner, a chair where you and I can meet each day to pray.
Perhaps I’ll put a candle there, with a Bible; maybe a statue or a picture; a rosary or a prayer card: something to mark the spot as the place I keep to go each day to sit and rest, to take a deep breath, to remember your presence and open my heart in prayer.
Help me prepare a way for you on my calendar, an “appointment” each day; even just ten minutes for you and me to get together, to talk about the day, its ups and downs, and get to know each other just a little better than yesterday.
Help me prepare a way for you to enter my thoughts, Lord. When I’m trying to figure things out, nudge me to ask for your guidance and counsel, your Spirit and your wisdom, when I’m making decisions and choices.
Help me prepare a way for you, Lord, in my family and among my friends, at work and at school, in my parish and in my neighborhood Help me prepare a way for you to come into the hearts of those around me who are alone.
Help me prepare a way for you, Lord, in the crazy rush of Christmas all around me.
Help me remember it’s your birthday and that you should get some presents—from me.
Help me remember the poverty of your nativity: make your way into my wallet and spend generously on those whose needs are so much greater than my own.
Help me remember that of all the gifts I might receive, none is greater than the love you have for me.
Help me prepare a way for you to enter my life decisively, Lord.
In the quiet of my prayer, Lord, help me clear the path you walk into my life, into my soul.
In the stillness of my prayer, Lord, help me see you as you make your way towards me, and show me that no matter the roadblocks I put up, you’ll find a way to come, to enter, and to fill me with your presence. Amen.
(This prayer is a selection from Good Morning, Good God! by Fr. Austin Fleming, The Word Among Us Press, 2015).
May these days of Advent be good ones for you and your family.
Where’s The Heat?
I apologize for the lack of heat at St. Joseph’s church these past few cold weeks. I have been wearing the heaviest vestments I could find, and even grabbed more candles to light.
Our 80-year old boiler, that looks like a rusty German tank from World War II, has been on “life-support.” Our engineers been here daily have trying to solve the problem. I thank you for your patience and understanding.
After we pay the parish debt off with the money raised from our capital campaign, a new boiler will be next on the list. As homeowners know, it never ends.