As we celebrate the Sixth Sunday of the Easter season this weekend, we continue our reading of the Farewell Discourse from John’s Gospel. We hear a very powerful and encouraging message. Situated at the Last Supper, as Jesus is taking leave of his disciples, he reassures them: “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth…. I will not leave you orphans… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid…. I am going to the Father…. I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”
Anticipated separations can rob us of a peaceful spirit and make us feel troubled or afraid. Change is never easy. Jesus knew the human heart well. And he knew their call to be his disciples would not be an easy one – that they would need someone to strengthen them (the Holy Spirit). As he prepares the apostles for what is to come, he is also preparing us for our celebration of the gift of God’s Spirit among us on Pentecost. We will celebrate that feast in just two weeks.
As the Lord promises to remain with us by sending the gift of the Spirit, we have the opportunity to reflect upon the third of the three Sacraments of Initiation we celebrated at the Easter Vigil – the Sacrament of Confirmation. During the recent interviews with our Confirmation candidates, I discussed with them our call to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. As we explored what being a “disciple” really means, we saw that being a disciple in our day is not an easy path. Since the Lord also knew that, he promised to send us “another advocate” to be our strength and our guide. This weekends Gospel reminded us that advocate was none other than the Holy Spirit – sent to the early disciples and to us to be our strength. One of the ways that the Lord continues to be with us is through the gift of the Spirit, of which we have all received, beginning at our Baptism. Becoming aware of the Spirit’s presence among us is a wonderful way for us to conclude our celebration of the Easter season. Let’s listen carefully during the next few weeks and appreciate the gift of the Spirit that has been given to us.
Next Sunday we will celebrate the feast of the Ascension. Normally this feast is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, which would be this coming Thursday, May 25th. Eighteen 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 decided to make the transfer, which took effect in May 2000. So this Thursday is simply “Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter.” Next Sunday is the feast of the Ascension and the following Sunday will be the feast of Pentecost, bringing our 50-day Easter celebration to a close.
Last Saturday we successfully completed our First Communion celebrations for our parish. Each of the four Masses we celebrated over two Saturdays went very well. Special thanks to our Faith Formation Staff who coordinated each Mass and the Choir Members who led us in song at each Mass. Now we turn our attention to our celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation which will take place next Saturday, May 27, 2017, 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 continue our prayer for our young people who will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 27th.
Also next Saturday, the annual Joliet Diocesan Priesthood Ordination Mass will take place in at St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet. Only two transitional deacons will be ordained as priests for our diocese this year – Mark J. Bernhard and John W. Honiotes. We promise them the support of our prayers as they prepare for their ordination and the beginning of their priestly ministry among us.
Welcome home to our college students who are gradually making their way home following their Spring Semester Exams. Many took their exams this past week. Know that you were remembered in prayer here at your parish. It is great to see you back in the neighborhood. Thank you for joining with us again at our Sunday Mass celebrations.
Earlier this month we held our In-Pew Follow-Up weekend for the 2017 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. The responses for that weekend were sent to the accounting house in Minnesota and most responses have now been tabulated. Thank you to the 913 households who have responded to Bishop Conlon’s request to support the 2017 Joliet Diocesan Appeal. We are very close to our 2017 goal in pledges with $167,258 pledged towards our parish goal $173,968. Thank you for your generous response. The Diocese is finalizing the second follow-up letter which will be mailed to those who made a pledge over the past few years but have not yet made a pledge for this year’s Appeal. I want to encourage everyone who has not had a chance to respond to the 2017 Appeal to do so as soon as possible. We have additional commitment envelopes at both the Parish Office and the Hospitality Desk in the Church. On-line pledges can be made at www.jolietdioceseappeal.org. Thank you again to all those who have already responded and are helping us reach our 2017 goal in pledges. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy