A word from Pope Francis ~ “Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God.”
I am sure that from the moment we walked into church today, all of us could tell that we were now in a new season of our Liturgical Year. As is the case in our homes, gone are the decorations of Christmas. While the holidays were a wonderful celebration and a welcome break from our regular routines, we have returned to the ordinary, everyday rhythms of our lives. This new season of the Church Year is simply called “Ordinary Time.” We entered into this new season last Tuesday following the final feast of the Christmas Season, which was Monday’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We will be in the first part of this “green season” of the year until Ash Wednesday on February 22. While our Gospel reading this weekend comes from John’s Gospel, the majority of our Sunday Gospel readings for the year will come from the continuous reading of Matthew’s Gospel. The faith challenge now before us is to recognize and respond to the Lord’s presence in the ordinary and everyday moments of our lives.
Thank you to Zaira Defino and all of our Art & Environment volunteers, who joined together in the church last week to transform our prayer space from Christmas to Ordinary Time. Their dedicated work over the past few months made a major difference in each of the Masses and prayer services we held during these special seasons. We appreciate your generous service.
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins this Wednesday, January 18, and concludes the following Wednesday, January 25 – the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. Since 1968, we have joined with other Christians throughout the world in praying as the Lord prayed, “that all may be one.” (John 17:21). This year’s theme for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is inspired by the book of the prophet Isaiah, “Do good; seek justice.” (Isaiah 1:17). Our parish will be joining with several other area churches for an ecumenical prayer service next Sunday, January 22 at 6:00 pm at the Lutheran Church of the Master at 580 Kuhn Road in Carol Stream. All are welcome to join with us. This annual week of prayer gives us the opportunity to recognize that there is more that unites us than divides us. In addition to Sunday evening’s prayer service, we will also keep the cause of Christian unity before us in our community prayer throughout the week.
In most circumstances, anniversaries are happy and welcome celebrations. Not so with next Sunday’s 50th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decision permitting abortion on demand in our country. The new Appendix to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal states: “In all dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 … shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.” As this anniversary falls on a Sunday this year, the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children is transferred to Monday, January 23. We are all invited to remember this intention and to make it a day of penance in reparation for all victims of the violence of abortion. Our daily Masses a week from Monday will focus on this day of penance and witness to our belief that all life is sacred.
Please note that our Parish Offices will be closed this Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. We will reopen at 9:00 am on Tuesday, January 17. Weekday Masses on Monday will be celebrated at 7:00 am and 12:05 pm, as usual.
We are roughly halfway through the month of January. Thankfully, we have experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures in our area. This mid-month milestone is cause for rejoicing. Take care, and keep healthy during this winter and the flu season. God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy