Happy Memorial Day weekend! It does not seem possible that the first of our summer holidays is upon us, especially following our long cool and rainy spring. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was initiated to honor the soldiers for the Union and Confederate armies who died during the American Civil War. Celebrations honoring Civil War heroes started the year after the war ended, but the establishment of a public holiday was meant to unify the celebration as a national day of remembrance instead of a holiday celebrated separately by the Union and Confederate states. By the late 19th century, the holiday became known as Memorial Day and was expanded to include the deceased veterans of all the wars fought by American forces. In 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday and was given the floating date of the last Monday in May. This holiday gives us the opportunity to pray for the dedicated men and women who maintain and preserve peace and freedom for us and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is important day for us to remember. Please note that we print the “Military Prayer List” in our bulletin each week.
Memorial Day Mass will be celebrated in the Church at 9:00am on Monday. Please note the time of the Mass – we normally celebrate one Mass on civil holidays at 9:00am. This is a perfect way for us to observe the holiday. Parish Offices will be closed on Monday for the holiday.
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. 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 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.
Did you know that we have the practice of offering Eucharistic Adoration at St. Isidore on the First Friday of each month, normally beginning at 7:30am on Friday and concluding with Benediction at 8:00am on Saturday? Our next opportunity for First Friday Eucharistic Adoration will be this Friday, June 2nd. While Eucharistic Adoration normally begins immediately after the 7:00am Mass on Friday, we have the final Grade School Mass this Friday at 8:15am. So for this month, Eucharistic Adoration will begin following the 8:15am School Mass and will conclude with Benediction at 8:00am on Saturday morning. Our primary prayer is the Mass, the celebration of the Eucharist, and is a community, “God and us” prayer. Eucharistic Adoration gives us a unique time for individual, “God and me” prayer. In a presentation to teens about Eucharistic Adoration, I once heard it described as “face time with Jesus.” Just as we want to spend time with those we love, Eucharistic Adoration is a great opportunity to spend time with the Lord Jesus. He gave us the gift of the Eucharist because he wants to be with us. Many have found that time spent before the Eucharist is that moment of peace and quiet that we so desperately seek in our lives. It is that time to be quiet and simply be with a good friend. All are welcome to join us to spend some quiet time with the Lord this Friday any time between 9:15am and 8:00am Saturday. Come for as long or as short as you are able.
This past Wednesday evening we celebrated the Graduation Mass and Commencement for our St. Isidore Grade School Class of 2017. Graduation day is always a special day for our Grade School students. Just as the Lord Jesus grew in “age, wisdom and grace,” so too have our young people. We congratulate our graduates, their parents, and our Grade School administration, faculty and staff on a job well done. The Grade School will conclude their school year this Friday, June 2nd.
Yesterday we celebrated two Confirmation Masses during which 166 candidates from our parish were confirmed. Abbot Dismas Kalcic, O.S.B., of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, was with us to preside at both celebrations of this sacrament and to complete the Christian initiation journey with our young people. Congratulations to all of our teens and young adults who were confirmed this year. We are very happy to see you take the next step in your lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Memorial Day traditionally signals the beginning of summer. While we still have a few weeks remaining before the “official” beginning of the season on Tuesday, June 20th, we welcome this time of year. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy