A word from Pope Francis ~ “Prayer in adoration of God and service to others spreads the fire of God’s love, changing the world one heart at a time.”
On this final Sunday in August, we celebrate the 22nd Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. After our five-week break hearing the great Bread of Life discourse in John’s Gospel, we return to our chronological reading of St. Mark’s gospel. We pick up where we left off five weeks ago. Mark is the primary gospel in the cycle for this year and we will be reading from Mark from now until the end of the church year in November. We return to it at a point of a dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees and some Scribes. These disputes between Jesus and the religious leaders occur with some frequency in the gospel accounts. In this incident the Pharisees and some Scribes were questioning Jesus and his disciples’ faithfulness to the Jewish law. Jesus sees through their hypocrisy in trying to test him and responds in the same way he dealt with their previous challenges. It is good to be back with Mark.
On Thursday, August 19th we received a REVISION TO DIOCESE OF JOLIET COVID-19 PROTOCOLS. As the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has provided a renewed upswing in the number of cases, this revision was issued and is intended to protect the health of others. It stresses “if people do not feel well, they SHOULD NOT ATTEND services, gatherings or come to work.” Specific guidelines for our in-person Masses include:
- Masks are strongly recommended for everyone, vaccinated or not.
- Sanitization of the church is still required, but once a day is adequate per the CDC.
- Hand sanitizer should be available when entering/exiting the church and/or at the reception of Communion.
- No chalice at Communion.
- No physical sign of peace.
- Congregational singing is not allowed. Choirs are not allowed.
- Mass parts are to be spoken wherever possible.
- Reservations are not required.
Additionally, given the new evidence on the COVID-19 Delta variant and the rising infection and hospitalization rates, the state of Illinois has mandated the wearing of masks indoors for all education personnel and Pre-K through grade 12 students regardless of vaccination status.
Providing a safe environment for our in-person prayer and life together is our #1 concern. We are committed to following the directives issued by the diocese as best we can. We are looking for creative ways of dealing with the ban on congregational singing and using this time to an advantage. For those who are hesitant to be with others in a large group setting, we will continue live-streaming the 10:00am English and 11:30am Spanish Mass each weekend. Thank you for your patience as we work together in moving toward our post-pandemic new normal. We have made it thus far in maintaining the safe environment on our parish campus. Let’s patiently continue our efforts to see this through.
Our 5-week journey through the Bread of Life discourse, John Chapter 6, has given us an excellent opportunity to review Jesus teaching on the Eucharist and to come to a deeper appreciation of the tremendous gift we have in the Risen Lord’s physical presence among us in the Eucharist. It has been the consistent belief of our church from the very beginning that the bread and wine consecrated at Mass truly become the Body and Blood of Christ. As the Catholic Catechism states, this “Eucharistic presence of Christ [which] begins at the moment of the consecration … endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.” (CC #1377). In other words, the Eucharistic Christ then continues to be present in our midst beyond the Eucharistic liturgy when the consecrated host is either reposed in the tabernacle or exposed in a monstrance. While we can truly experience the presence of the Eucharistic Lord when we pray before the tabernacle, people report experiencing a greater sense of intimacy with Jesus and attentiveness of mind and heart to prayer when they are able to actually “see” our Eucharistic Lord.
As Roman Catholics, our primary prayer is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Mass. This is our community prayer, a “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.
We have received a number of requests to restore the daily 12:05pm Mass. My initial response had been that we would wait until after Labor Day when the new school year would begin. We are making arrangements to resume this regular weekday Mass on Monday, September 13th in the church. We will suspend it from September 28-30 when the priests of the Diocese will be away with our Bishop for our Convocation. It will return on October 1st as a regularly scheduled weekday Mass.
We are in the final days of August. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy