A word from Pope Francis ~ “How beautiful is the gaze with which Jesus regards us – how full of tenderness! Let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God.”
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.
On this final Sunday of May, we celebrate the Sixth Sunday of the Easter season. 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, Jesus shares two farewell gifts with his disciples. First, his Father will send them the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. While Jesus, their original advocate, will be leaving them immediately after their meal, the other advocate will remain with them always, reminding them of Jesus and his teaching. A second gift that Jesus bestows is peace – shalom – completeness and harmony in every dimension of life. His peace will remain with them even in the face of intense conflict, persecution, rejection and death. Jesus’ promise of the Advocate is a future gift; peace is a gift he gives to his friends even before he leaves the upper room to complete his passing from the world to the Father.
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 homily at our parish celebration of Confirmation last Saturday, I reminded the candidates of our call to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. As I 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. 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 to the Lord’s Farewell Discourse over the next few weeks and appreciate the gift of the Spirit that has been given to us.
This past Wednesday evening we celebrated the Graduation Mass and Commencement for our St. Isidore Grade School Class of 2019. 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 – this class was in Kindergarten when I came to the parish in August 2010! 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, May 31st.
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 30th. Twenty 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.
Memorial Day traditionally signals the beginning of summer. While we still have a few weeks remaining before the “official” beginning of the season on Friday, June 21st, we welcome this time of year. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy