A word from Pope Francis ~ “Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up; there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.”
As we gather on this first Sunday of October, we celebrate the 27thSunday in Ordinary Time and the beginning of Respect Life month. With our sequential reading of Mark’s Gospel this year, we see the tension between Jesus and the religious leaders continue to escalate. A Pharisee poses a question to test Jesus. He was not seeking understanding or looking for a clarification, but looking for a way to trap Jesus in his speech. His response is clear and direct. The scene moves into a house and people were bringing their children to Jesus so he might bless them. While the disciples tried to prevent this, Jesus welcomed them. It is a scene that we see repeated every time Pope Francis makes a pastoral visit to a different country. Security personnel try to prevent the children from coming to the Pope, but he welcomes them with open arms. Our Gospel gives us a very compassionate picture of Jesus. He was one who could both speak difficult sayings and welcome the little ones into his presence.
Forty-nine years ago the Catholic bishops in the United States designated October as Respect Life Month. Throughout October, Catholics are called to reflect on the gift of human life, the threats against it and how we can protect all persons from conception through natural death. During this year in honor of St. Joseph, this year’s theme is “Saint Joseph, Defender of Life.” Throughout his life, Saint Joseph was called upon to defend his family and protect the life of God’s Son, Jesus, entrusted to his care. We look to Saint Joseph’s example to inspire us to truly be a people who respect life from conception through natural death.
Whether an individual life lasts for a brief moment or for a hundred years, each of our lives is a good and perfect gift. At every stage and in every circumstance, we are held in existence by God’s love. Pope Francis recently reminded us, “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Jesus proclaimed this belief by what he said, but more importantly by the way he lived and the way he died.
Thank you for your prayers for us and all of the priests of our diocese as we gathered with our Bishop last week for our Joliet Priests’ Convocation. As this was Bishop Ron Hicks first Convocation with us, it was a great experience for all of the priests of our diocese to be together with our Bishop for the three days of the Convocation. Our first Joliet Diocesan Convocation of Priests took place in the early 1980’s. At that first convocation, it was a very powerful experience for all of us to come together with our Bishops and spend time in prayer, brotherhood, conferences, conversation and sharing. Our current practice is to gather every two years. Again this year, the spectrum ran from those newly ordained to those retired. As a group, we have a wide variety of talents and abilities. Despite these differences, we are all committed to doing the work of the Lord, each in our individual place and time.
Personally for me, it was good to see several of the priests I had served with in previous parish assignments. As we caught up with each other and shared our memories, it became very clear to me that each of us had all been in the right place at the right time in our lives.
On a more sober note, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the priests who were the vibrant leaders within our diocese when I was ordained 43 years ago were now moving at a much slower and more deliberate pace – including myself. And there were those who were no longer with us, either through death or those who have left active ministry. Overall, the convocation was good time to be together for prayer, sharing and fellowship.
We are partnering again this year with the Northern Illinois Food Bank in providing Thanksgiving Dinner food boxes for those in need among us. Your $20 donation will provide a Thanksgiving Dinner box for a family. We need to place our order with the Northern Illinois Food Bank by October 8th. Donations can be made at our Masses this weekend or at the parish office. Thank you in advance for your care for those in need among us.
A Prayer to St. Joseph,
Defender of Life
Dearest St. Joseph, at the word of an angel, you lovingly took Mary into your home.
As God’s humble servant, you guided the Holy Family on the road to Bethlehem, welcomed Jesus as your own son in the shelter of a manger, and fled far from your homeland for the safety of both Mother and Child.
We praise God that as their faithful protector, you never hesitated to sacrifice for those entrusted to you. May your example inspire us also to welcome, cherish, and safeguard God’s most precious gift of life.
Help us to faithfully commit ourselves to the service and defense of human life – especially where it is vulnerable or threatened. Obtain for us the grace to do the will of God in all things. Amen.
Enjoy our new autumn season. Much more is happening at our parish. Additional news can be found elsewhere in our bulletin. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.