A word from Pope Francis ~ “There is an infallible way to defeat evil: by starting to conquer it within yourself.”
On this first weekend in September, this Labor Day holiday weekend, we celebrate the 23rd Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. We continue our chronological reading of St. Mark’s gospel. Our current chapter, Chapter 7, represents a shift in Jesus’ public ministry. Up to this point, he has taught and healed among his own people. In this chapter he makes a definite turn toward the Gentiles. Mark tells us that Jesus went into the district of the Decapolis, a group of ten cities in Gentile lands. As Jesus heals the deaf and mute man (someone who was a foreigner), we realize that even the deaf hear the message of the dawning Kingdom of God and even the mute can proclaim it. God’s plan for human wholeness extends to Gentile as well as Jew.
Labor Day is filled with many different memories and meanings. For many of us it signals the end of summer and all that is associated with summer. It is the time for the last fling outdoors. It is a time for a BBQ with family and friends. It is the weekend the summer home is closed – the weekend the boat is pulled out of the water and placed in storage. It is the time for moving from one season of the year to another. The holiday itself, “Labor Day,” gives us a chance to take a day off from work and reflect on the meaning of labor.
This weekend we pause to thank God for the ways in which we participate in the act of creation through significant and fruitful work. And we pray for those who are looking for work at this time – especially those who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As is our custom on civil holidays, we will celebrate a single Mass on Monday at 9:00am in the Church. Our parish offices will be closed in observance of the Labor Day holiday.
I suspect that we all remember, and will probably always remember, exactly where we were and what we were doing on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Saturday we observe the 20th anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks on our country. A common reaction at that time was that everyone had to really ask themselves what was most important in life. The normal things that we get so excited about were all cast aside. Again this year, the news coverage of this anniversary gives us ample opportunity to reflect on the many ways the events of this day have changed us. Our individual experiences these past twenty years have been varied. For myself, I believe that we have become much more aware of how fragile human life really is. Despite our efforts to control the circumstances around us, none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. The invitation that comes in remembering 9-11 is to not take anything for granted and to intentionally celebrate the gift of today. We need to do the things we need to do and to say the things we need to say now, today, so that there are no regrets tomorrow. Without a doubt, people are far more important than things.
Our experiences over the past several months with the COVID-19 pandemic have also taught us to appreciate the truly important moments and things in our lives. So many of the losses that we have experienced were really the loss of the relationships associated with the events that were postponed or cancelled. We missed being with the people who are an important part of the fabric of our lives. On the other hand, our pandemic experiences have also helped us to appreciate a group of people that we easily take for granted – especially our first responders and healthcare workers. Next Sunday, on the day following the 9/11 anniversary, our Father John Guiney Knights of Columbus Council will host our annual “Blue Mass” honoring our first responders. This will take place at the 10:00am Mass next Sunday, September 12th. Local police, firefighters, Sheriff’s deputies, Emergency Medical Technicians and rescue workers of all faiths are invited to join us for this Mass and will have a place reserved for them. The “Blue Mass” takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. It is very appropriate that we honor our local first responder heroes as we commemorate the 9/11 anniversary this Saturday. Local police and fire departments have been individually invited. All first responders serving in departments in the larger area are most welcome to attend.
Thank you for your patience in following the COVID restrictions placed upon us by the Diocese and the State of Illinois. As of last Monday, everyone engaging in indoor activity must be masked, regardless of vaccination status. We have been working with the diocesan guideline of no singing at our in-person Masses. These, and the additional restrictions, are intended to help us provide a safe environment for us to gather together. Whether we like it or not, we are a part of a larger whole and what we do individually has an effect on the larger whole. We will follow these guidelines until such time as they are no longer needed. And if you are not vaccinated, please do all that you can to get the COVID vaccination.
Next Monday, September 13th, we will resume the public celebration of our weekday 12:05pm Mass. We are arranging to have Mass captains, Lectors and Eucharistic ministers scheduled for this mid-day weekday Mass. As in the past, this Mass will be celebrated in the main 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.
Please see the other areas of this week’s bulletin for additional news of all that is happening in our parish. Enjoy the Labor Day weekend. God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy