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Easter 2018

I wish each and every one of you the blessings of the Risen Lord. As we rise from the gloom of Good Friday, may our hearts be filled with the joy and hope of Easter! I have prayed for you during our Holy Week liturgies that the Risen Lord will dispel fear and doubt and fill us with courage and optimism. He has conquered sin and death, and what have we to fear? We are called to be the Easter people who bear witness to the power of His Resurrection.

 

I want to thank all of you for being the community that we are and for celebrating Easter the way we do. I know that many individuals and groups contributed to make our celebration prayerful, heartwarming and life-giving. God bless you all! I have prayed for you and your loved ones during our Holy Week liturgies and our Easter Masses.

During Eastertide we hear many wonderful Easter stories that formed the Early Church and transformed the early Christians. One of my most favorite Easter stories is the one we read on the Third Sunday of Easter from Luke 24:13-35. It speaks of two disciples who left the community in Jerusalem because they were disappointed and disillusioned. They returned to their former life. Interestingly so many of the Easter stories recount that the disciples who had not yet been transformed by the resurrection returned to their former lives. Peter, for instance, went back to fishing (John 21:3). In essence they abandoned the community that Jesus had formed with them. However, once they recognized the Risen Lord in the Breaking of the Bread, the two disciples returned to the community in Jerusalem even though it was very late.

Some time ago the Pew Research Center published a study on religion in America. It released the disturbing statistic that ten per cent of baptized Catholics abandon their faith. Probably there are some in our neighborhoods that no longer attend Church for whatever reason. Just like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they are disillusioned or disappointed. As a result they have left the community. This fact applies also to our parish community. We have over 5,000 registered households and about 16,000 individuals in our parish. On any given Sunday less than one-third of our parishioners attend Mass. It is possible that a significant minority never comes to church.

Many years ago when I was a student at Marquette, I wrote a paper for a course in the Sociology of Religion. It investigated the reasons why people leave the Church and the reasons why they return to the Church. In a sense, the reasons were almost the same for leaving and for returning. It is all about relationships. Most people left the Church because they had a fight with the priest, had a falling out with someone in the ministry, or felt ignored by the community. People came back to Church because either the priest or someone in ministry or a regular member befriended the person and invited them to return.

During Lent we reflected at length on the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Once she recognized Jesus as the Messiah, she ran into the village and brought the people to Jesus. In the same way it was Andrew who brought Simon Peter to Jesus. By our baptism we are called to be evangelizers and missionaries. Probably in our town, in our neighborhood or on our block there is someone who feels distant from the Church. Can we somehow invite them to come and see? Perhaps that person is waiting for your invitation. If they have been hurt by some experience in the Church, can we at least engage them in conversation?

When I lived in Rome I used to see young American men going from door to door evangelizing. Only later I discovered that they belonged to the Church of the Latter Day Saints. I also learnt that Mormons are required to spend two years of their lives as a missionary. We Catholics do not have any such requirement. However, it is our duty to bring people into the Church and help them encounter the Risen Lord in the Breaking of the Bread.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis envisions the Church to be an evangelizing community that takes the first step. Here are his words:

The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The Lord gets involved and he involves his own, as he kneels to wash their feet. (#24)

Let us continue to practice hospitality as we open our arms to anyone who comes through our doors. We do an excellent job of welcoming people who come to our church. How about going out into the streets and inviting them to come in? We are a great liturgical community. We are a praying community. Can we also become an evangelizing community?

May we continue to enjoy the blessings of the Easter season!

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068


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Phone: (847) 825-7605
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Sunday

7:30 a.m. - Upper Church
9 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
10:30 a.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel
12 p.m. - Upper Church
5:30 p.m. - Upper Church

Monday - Friday

6:25 a.m. - Upper Church
8:30 a.m. - Upper Church

Saturday

8 a.m. - Upper Church
4:30 p.m. - Upper Church & Holy Family Chapel