A word from Pope Francis ~ “Jesus changes our sins into forgiveness and our fears into trust. In His Cross our hope is reborn again and again.”
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 as we gather around the table to the Lord, 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 incredible pain. Many couples, most 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. Nineteen 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.
Since Easter is the primary season of initiation into the church community, we intentionally schedule our special celebrations of the Sacraments of Initiation (First Communion and Confirmation) during the Easter Season. We celebrated two First Communion Masses last Saturday and concluded with two additional Masses yesterday. Congratulations to all of our young parishioners who celebrated their First Communion this year. It is great watching them as they took this next step in their faith lives. Their enthusiasm was 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 reminded us of this as they came 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.
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.
The annual Joliet Diocesan Priesthood Ordination Mass will also take place in two weeks on Saturday, May 26th at St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet. Seven transitional deacons will be ordained as priests for our diocese this year. We promise them the support of our prayers as they prepare for their ordination and the beginning of their priestly ministry among us.
Last Wednesday we had the opportunity to prayerfully remember Father John Guiney, SMA, on the fourth anniversary of his death. He faithfully served our parish as a Parochial Vicar from 1982 to 1990. He was originally assigned to St. Isidore’s for a one or two year term in between missionary assignments in West Africa. But a slight heart attack that led to heart by-pass surgery and the onset of Type II diabetes prevented him from returning to his beloved missions in West Africa. In the end, we were the beneficiaries of that as he served here longer than he had originally planned. Even as his health was failing, he never focused attention upon himself, but always asked how our family members were doing. He continues to inspire us to this day. I am very grateful for the five years (1983-1988) that I was able to live and to serve with him here at St. Isidore’s.
Our recent warm temperatures seemed to have encouraged our spring blossoms into opening. Let us take time to enjoy this beautiful season of the year. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy