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Mutual Support

Over the last few months we have celebrated three funerals of young people. I had to do a couple of those difficult funerals. I could not find the right words to console the grieving spouse or parent. Nothing I could say could lessen their sorrow or fill the hole in their hearts. In fact at one of those funerals I broke down. I could not remain emotionless while everyone else was in tears.

In those terrible moments something that gave me comfort was the support extended to the grieving families by our entire community. Friends and neighbors gathered around. They brought meals. They drove the children to school. They did everything in their part to help the grieving family navigate the difficult days of the funeral. It is during painful moments like these we discover ourselves as community. I know that we are privileged to live in a great community. When we traverse rivers of sorrow and loss, we hold on to each other and show ourselves as true brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunate as this is, perhaps we will emerge from all this as a stronger community and a more loving parish.

When I celebrate any funeral, I say to the congregation that two things will get the families through their moment of loss. They are: the love and support of their family and friends; and, their faith. Over the last eight years I have witnessed time and again how our parish family rises to the occasion. We are very good at helping our friends and neighbors to get through their bereavement.

I am sure you remember Fr John Chrzan who was the associate here for five years. One day when Fr John was talking to the students at our Catholic school, he shared with them a helpful image. He said that he loves to hike. When you hike, you are told that you should never hike alone. You should always hike in the company of others. If you hike alone and you have an accident, it could turn fatal. You could lose your way and no one may find you. You may run out of supplies or be exposed to the elements. Right now, Fr John said, we are trying to climb this mountain of sorrow. We can’t do it alone. We need the support of others. We need to hold on to each other. 

When I was about twenty, I was a freshman in college. For the first time in my life, I saw someone die. We were playing a game of cricket. The freshmen team of which I was the captain was playing the faculty team, captained by Fr Joseph Murphy, our rector. Fr Murphy played a great game that day. Then suddenly when the competition had reached its frenzied height, Fr Murphy collapsed in front of 600 disbelieving students and expired. Even after all these years, that image is still seared into my soul. All of us were in utter shock.

In the months that followed I sank into deep questioning and doubt. I began to question everything: “Why am I studying physics? What does it matter because we are all going to die? Why do I want to be a priest? What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What are we supposed to do?” No one gave me any easy answers. Then one day as I was shaving, getting ready for class, it finally dawned on me. I was given a simple insight and to this day I hold on to it. The insight is this: “All of us carry heavy loads of pain, hurt, rejection, loneliness, sadness, and loss. If I can wipe away a few tears, if I can lessen someone else’s burden of pain, then my life has meaning.” That day I discovered a simple but profound truth. God put us on this earth to love and support one another.

St Paul expressed it differently: “Carry one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.” It is during moments of sadness and pain that we hold and comfort each other. It is in caring for each other that we grow as a Christian community. Please continue to pray for and support these families that are still struggling with their sorrow. Let us reach out to every one in our community who is hurting in any way. Let us embrace especially those who have lost a loved one. That is what Christ would want us to do. As the opening lines of a 70’s hymn go, “And they’ll know we’re Christians by our love; Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

In these turbulent times people get angry at each other because of the political beliefs they espouse or social causes they subscribe to. We forget that pain, sorrow and death are great levelers. Sickness and death do not care what political party we belong to. They do not play favorites. In moments of sorrow we need to set aside our differences and lean on each other. I hope and pray that we will continue to grow as a caring, loving community.

May God heal all those who are hurting! May the Lord make St Paul of the Cross Parish a great haven of solace and support for those who suffer!

 

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