On this first weekend of autumn, we celebrate the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We are currently reading from the middle section of Mark’s Gospel which highlights both Jesus’ identity as the Messiah who must suffer and die and the disciples’ failure to grasp this reality. Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus the Messiah (which we heard a few weeks ago) – and his refusal to connect that identity with Jesus’ impending Passion – marks the beginning of this section. Again and again, Jesus announces his coming suffering and death. Each time the disciples give evidence that they cannot or do not wish to understand this message. Last weekend’s Gospel ended with Jesus’ admonition to allow God to act as God chooses in sending a Messiah who appears not as a mighty King, but as a lowly servant. In today’s Gospel, the disciples soon demonstrate that they would still rather dictate to God, deciding who should and who should not serve as a channel of God’s power in overcoming evil. Jesus doesn’t give up on the disciples, hoping that the day will come when they finally “get it!”
I was very happy that Father Michael Lane, pastor of St. Jude’s parish in Joliet, was able to be with us at each of our English Masses last weekend. He shared with us his deep devotion to the Eucharist and his experiences of the blessings that come from quiet, personal prayer before the Eucharist. We normally have an opportunity for Eucharistic adoration on the First Friday of each month, beginning after the 7:00am Mass and concluding on Saturday morning before the 8:15am Mass. Our next opportunity will be this Friday, October 2nd. All are welcome to stop by the church for a few minutes or a holy hour of quiet, personal prayer in the presence of the Eucharist. For some, this type of prayer is a welcome oasis from all of the activity that fills our lives. It is a time to stop, listen and let God recharge our batteries. For others, this prayer can be somewhat trying. A common question is “what do I do during adoration?” We live in a world that emphasizes “doing” rather than “being.” We forget that God made us human beings, rather than human doers. We are always on the run. If this sounds familiar, I suggest that you start small – come for 10 minutes and treat it as a visit with a close friend. Tell the Lord what is happening in your life and then be sure to allow the Lord time to respond. It can be refreshing and powerful moment of prayer.
We’ve had an exciting week as we followed Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Washington, DC – meeting with President Obama, celebrating the canonization Mass of St. Junipero Serra, the founder of the California Missions, and his address to a joint meeting of Congress. New York City – Evening Prayer at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, his address to the United Nations General Assembly, the Multi-religious Service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center, and Mass at Madison Square Garden. Philadelphia — Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, visiting Independence Mall and the Festival of Families Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Today he meets with the Bishops of the United States at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia and visits the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility before celebrating Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families. After he visits with the organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, he will return to Rome tonight. It was a full schedule and a very exciting time for our country. We continue to support Pope Francis with our prayers during his visit among us.
Recent articles in both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times report “Pope Francis’ decisions of abortion and divorce.” Someone recently expressed their concern that nothing was said in the parish about “the Pope’s decisions.” The simple response to this concern is that neither I nor the Bishop have received anything from the Pope to announce – yet. Often reports in the secular press contain inaccuracies. One article reported that the Pope was giving priests the authority to forgive the sin of abortion. What surprised me was that I and all priests in the Diocese of Joliet have the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion at the time it is confessed. For me, this dates back to the time I received faculties to function as a priest in the Diocese at the time I was ordained in 1978. Whenever a person confesses the sin of abortion within the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I am able to absolve them of that sin at that moment. Another article reported that the Pope was changing annulment procedures and policies concerning divorced and remarried Catholics. When I called our Diocesan Offices, I learned that the Pope was instructing Vatican officials to find ways to shorten the annulment process – which often takes 12 to 18 months to complete. It is one thing to report that the Pope is instructing Vatican officials to find ways to welcome and include those among us who are suffering from a divorce and to report that changes are a done deal and have been finalized. One of the most valuable things I learned during my college career is that just because something appeared in print doesn’t mean that it is accurate or true. A contemporary application is that just because something was found on the internet doesn’t mean that it is accurate or true. Please be assured that when we receive anything from the Vatican or the Bishop to announce, especially concerning a change in practice, it will be announced as soon as possible.
Enjoy our new autumn season. Much more is happening at our parish. Additional news can be found elsewhere in our bulletin. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy