A word from Pope Francis ~ “Thanks be to God, throughout the history of the church it has always been clear that a person’s perfection is measured not by the information or knowledge they may possess, but by the depth of their charity.”
On this final Sunday in April, we continue our celebration of the glorious season of Easter with the Fourth Sunday of Easter. This Sunday is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This came to be because in all three cycles of the Lectionary, the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter gives us one of the Good Shepherd sayings from John’s Gospel. “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” “The sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Besides being a very comforting and reassuring saying, it also helps us to continue our Easter reflection on the gift of the Eucharist – one of the Sacraments of Initiation we celebrated at the Easter Vigil.
Now that the octave (1st 8 days of the season) is past, we settle into a gradual reflection on the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation & Eucharist) that were celebrated at the Easter Vigil. We began the second week of the season with a reflection on Baptism and found our daily Mass gospels coming from John’s Gospel, Chapter 3. In his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus taught him of the need to be born again. We were led back to the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday when we renewed our Baptism Promises. In Baptism, we were buried with the Lord so that we might rise with him from the grave of Baptism to new life. We are invited to appreciate the gift of our Baptism in new ways. A week ago Friday, we began reading from John’s Gospel, Chapter 6 – the Bread of Life discourse. It began our reflection on the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Following a miraculous feeding of the crowds who were with him, Jesus begins to teach them that he himself is the Bread of Life. This is a major teaching section in John’s Gospel. Hearing it now in the middle of the Easter Season gives us a chance to truly appreciate that Jesus is the living bread that has come down from heaven. It was his body that gives us a new birth in our baptism. Now that same body nourishes that life through the Eucharist. This Friday we will begin hearing from the Farewell Discourse (John 14 and following) in John’s Gospel. It will invite us to appreciate the gift of the Spirit, given to us in Confirmation, as our source of strength as we follow Jesus as his disciples.
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 yesterday and will conclude with another First Communion Mass on this Saturday. Congratulations to all of our young parishioners who are celebrating their First Communion this year. It is great watching them as they take this next step in their faith lives. Their enthusiasm is 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 remind us of this as they come to the altar for the first time. At the conclusion of each celebration, I invite 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 have assisted their parents in preparing our young people for this new beginning.
We will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at three individual Masses on Friday, May 7th and Saturday, May 8th. Bishop Frances Kane, retired Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago will be with us for the May 8th 10:00am celebration. Bishop Hicks has delegated me to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at the 7:00 pm Mass on May 7th and the 1:00pm Mass on May 8th. As we prayed throughout Lent for those entering the church at the Easter Vigil, so now we pray for our young people who are/will be celebrating Sacraments of Initiation in May.
This weekend we will have the opportunity to join with the other parishes in our diocese to support the annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal. The U.S. Bishops established this appeal in 1998 to support the missions here in America. The appeal is taken up in most parishes on the last weekend in April, which falls on the 25th this year. This is one of the ten additional appeals made in our diocese throughout the course of the year for needs outside of our diocese. Envelopes are included in the packets mailed to our homes. Or use an envelope marked “Catholic Home Missions” at Mass this weekend. Online donations may be made on our parish website. Thank you in advance for your generosity and support.
Next Sunday we will begin the busy month of May with a parish May Crowning at the beginning of the 10:00am Mass. May has traditionally been dedicated to honoring Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Our parish May Crowning will be led by representatives of our St. Isidore Catholic School 8th grade class and representatives of our Council of Catholic Women. Our CCW Women of the Year for both 2020 and 2021 will also be honored.
Please see our Flocknote and other notices on our parish Facebook page for additional news. We try to use as many social media vehicles as possible to keep everyone up-to-date with all that is happening here. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy
Home missions video: https://youtu.be/5yRFzOukJbA
Online donation: https://www.osvonlinegiving.com/1119/DirectDonate/20543