On this last Sunday in January, we celebrate the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We continue to make our way through this brief stretch of this season between the celebrations of Christmas and the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 14th. We continue our year-long reading of Mark’s Gospel, picking up where we left off last week. Jesus began his preaching calling for repentance, and then began calling disciples to follow him, beginning with the brothers Peter and Andrew, and then James and John. Following their immediate response, Jesus moves on to Capernaum – the center of his ministry in Galilee and the city of his first teachings and miracles in Mark’s Gospel. This first miracle – rebuking an unclean spirit – gives us an important feature of Jesus’ ministry that occurs over and over in the Gospels: Sabbath, teaching, healing and authority. On a Sabbath, he enters the local synagogue, teaches with authority, heals a person troubled by an unclean spirit and confirms that his authority extends to his power over evil. The Kingdom of God has truly come near!
This final week of January is our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. We have a long and proud history of Catholic education here at our parish. This is a good time to celebrate our mission of passing on our faith tradition from one generation to the next. Representatives from the St. Isidore School community will extend a “Thank You” to the parish at the beginning of each Mass for your support of the parish school. They will also serve the larger parish community by providing the Choir for the 8:30am Mass. It is encouraging to see so many of our young people serving the parish in the different ministries of the Mass. They will continue their celebration at their school Mass on Wednesday at 8:15am in the church. Various additional activities are planned for each day throughout the week. We offer our prayers and thanks for our teachers, administrators, staff and all who share in the ministry of Catholic education.
On Friday, February 2nd, the 40th day following Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. According to the Law of Moses (Exodus 13:12-16), firstborn males were to be dedicated to the Lord. At the time of Jesus, this was done by a ceremony in the Temple, forty days after birth. Friday’s Gospel reading gives us the details of Jesus’ presentation. Since the Mass normally begins with the blessing of candles, the Feast is also known as “Candlemas Day.” Blessed candles for home use will be available following each Mass on Friday.
Saturday, February 3rd is the memorial of St. Blasé. He was a bishop in Armenia and believed to have been martyred in the persecutions in the early 4th century. He is associated with the healing of throats. Traditionally, we celebrate this memorial with the blessing of throats. We will be happy to offer this blessing at the end of our Saturday morning Mass.
Congratulations to our parish 2nd graders who celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time this past week. Services were held on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and Saturday morning. It was great to celebrate this wonderful Sacrament of God’s healing with them and their parents. Congratulations also go to their parents and teachers who brought them to this special moment in their lives. We look forward to their First Communion celebrations in early May during Easter Season.
Looking ahead, we have a wonderful opportunity for coming together during the cold winter months. The St. Isidore Gala, “An Evening Under the Stars” – our annual auction dinner and dance benefiting our parish school will be held on Saturday, February 24th at Empress Banquets in Addison. The St. Isidore Gala is a parish-wide event. Everyone is invited! We have many smaller events throughout the year which gather specific groups within the parish, but not a single, unifying event which allows us all to come together and celebrate our St. Isidore Parish community together. Early-bird tickets are available for $75 per person until February 9th. After that date, tickets are $85 per person. “An Evening Under the Stars” begins at 5:00pm with Silent Auction bidding, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Dinner and the Live Auction items follow. It promises to be a wonderful mid-winter evening spent with fellow parishioners. Please consider joining with us or even gathering a table of your friends. Additional information is available elsewhere in the bulletin.
Once we get past the holidays, January seems to be a very long month. It can seem even longer when the Bears end their season before the playoffs, as they did this year. Our recent “arctic blast” low temperatures at the start of the month can wear our spirits down. We begin the shortest month of the year this Thursday. The days are getting longer. Lent will begin in just a few weeks, followed by Easter and spring. Notice the signs of new life all around us and take hope. As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy