Happy Mother’s Day! We wish God’s choicest blessings on all of the mothers, grandmothers, Godmothers and stepmothers of our parish. May God bless you for all of the wonderful things that you do. And in a special way we remember our mothers who now live the fullness of life with the Lord. We pray God reward you for your goodness as you continue to pray for us in God’s presence.
We also want to remember those for whom this day brings much pain. Many couples, unknown to others, struggle with infertility and the inability to become parents. Others may be alienated from their parents or their children, and this holiday only intensifies that pain. Please know that you have a special place in our prayer today.
Today we continue our celebration of Easter with the feast of the Ascension. Normally this feast is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, which would have been last Thursday. Seventeen years ago, our Bishops received permission to transfer the observance of the feast to the nearest Sunday. This had already been the practice in the western states of our country. The Bishops of the state of Illinois agreed to make the transfer, which took effect in May 2000. With the feast of Pentecost coming up next Sunday, we now move into the final days of the Easter Season.
During this final week of the Easter Season, we join with the Apostles and Mary as they waited for the Risen Lord to fulfill his promise to send the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit strengthens us in our efforts to be better disciples of the Lord and to put his values and teachings into practice more and more in our lives. St. Paul tells us that the gifts of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity”(Galatians 5:22-23). Wherever these gifts are found, the Spirit of God is present. Conversely, if we are lacking in any of these gifts, we have yet to fully open our hearts to the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives. Notice that St. Paul does not included anger, resentment, bickering, grudges, prejudice, a judgmental or unforgiving heart among the gifts of the Spirit. These all come from another spirit! As we prepare to celebrate the feast of Pentecost next Sunday, it is important that we pray for an outpouring of all of these gifts of the Spirit upon ourselves, our parish and our larger church.
We began our parish celebrations of First Communion this weekend. We celebrated two First Communion Masses yesterday and will conclude with two more Masses next Saturday. Congratulations to all of our Second Grade parishioners who are celebrating their First Communion this year. It is great watching them as they take this next step in their faith lives. Their enthusiasm is contagious. With the Eucharist so available to us every day, it is easy to forget what a wonderful gift we have from the Lord. Our 2nd graders are reminding us of this as they come to the altar for the first time. At the conclusion of each celebration, I invited each of our First Communicants to wear their special clothing when they come back for Sunday Mass today. Please congratulate them when you see them. Congratulations also to their parents for bringing them to this point in their lives. Thank you also to Vera Zielinski, our Faith Formation staff and our catechists who assisted their parents in preparing our young people for this new beginning.
Confirmation will be celebrated on Saturday, May 28, 2016, with two separate celebrations at 10:00am and 1:30pm. Abbot Dismas Kalcic, OSB, of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle will be our celebrant. As we prayed throughout Lent for those entering the church at the Easter Vigil, so now we pray for our young people who will be celebrating Sacraments of Initiation in May.
Last Saturday following the 5:00pm Mass we renamed and dedicated our Church Large Meeting Room to the Father John Guiney Room. As I was putting together the Renaming ceremony, it dawned on me that one of the things in parish life that was not a favorite of Father John’s was meetings! How ironic that we were renaming one of our principle meeting rooms in his honor! It also dawned on me that just as Father John did the things in parish life that he enjoyed in an excellent way, he also did the things in parish life that he did not enjoy in an excellent way! He continues to inspire us today. I am very grateful that we are able to honor his memory this way and for the five years (1983-1988) I lived and worked with him here at St. Isidore’s.
I am sorry that I have to say this again, but if I don’t, things will only get worse. We had some visitors with us a 5:00pm Mass last Saturday. I am not sure what was going on after the 5:00pm Mass (other than renaming the Father John Guiney Room), but we had a massive exodus of people leaving that Mass as soon as Communion began. About one third of the congregation was gone by the time Father Clive gave the final blessing. Visitors notice this immediately and question our practice because it is not the practice at most other parishes. One third of the congregation had left Mass after Communion! While we may think this is a normal practice here, we should actually feel ashamed at our disrespect for the Mass, the Eucharist and each other. I understand that there may be a few legitimate moments when someone may need to leave Mass early, but to make it a regular practice every weekend is not right. While the 5:00pm Saturday Mass is the most notorious for this, it is a practice at each of our weekend Masses. This is a bad habit that has crept into our parish’s culture. Mass concludes when we are blessed and sent forth to bring what we experienced into our world. Thank you to those who remain until we are sent forth. But if your regular practice is to leave as soon as you receive Communion, please break this bad habit now and stay to give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist which we have just received.
As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy