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Part of the Bigger Church

Just a week ago we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, the day the apostles received the Holy Spirit in the company of the Blessed Mother. On that day the Church was born. As Peter spoke of the mighty works of God in his own language, people speaking various other tongues understood him completely. God was bringing together people of every race, language and culture into His family of faith.

 

Often I marvel at the gift that I have been given. Growing up in India where more than 90 percent of the population is either Hindu or Moslem, I was privileged to be born into a devout Catholic family. Thanks to the Jesuit missionaries (including Blessed John de Britto) who preached the gospel to my ancestors in the second half of the sixteenth century, I too am part of this one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church. I am profoundly grateful for this gift.

Since we identify so strongly with our parish, it is easy to forget that we form a part of a much larger whole. Often we have to remind ourselves that the Church is bigger than our parish, greater than our archdiocese. We are part of the Church that extends beyond our geographic and temporal boundaries. We are part of something bigger than ourselves. We owe much not only to those who came before us but also to those who will come after us. There is an unbroken continuity between the past and the future.

The Church that traces her origins back to Jesus Christ Himself makes herself present in the community of Park Ridge in and through St Paul of the Cross Parish. It is the larger Church that guarantees this continuity. It is not one pastor or the other. It is not the present group of parishioners or some other group from the past. It is the universal Church that ensures that we, as the local church, continue to be Church. It is in being communion with this larger Church that we have legitimacy and efficacy. We are part of a grander history and at the same we are privileged to be making history. Sometimes we may be tempted to consider ourselves to be separate from the larger Church and the detours she sometimes takes in response to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

It is good to remind ourselves that being Church is unlike being part of any other organization. We are not a franchise and we do not just carry the same logo and sell the same products. We are not even branches of a bank that enables its clients to be served more efficiently. We are fully Church and yet we do not stand alone. We are part of the big, universal Church that extends through both space and time. It is the Church of Christ that allows us to continue the mission of Jesus in our time and place.

I am aware that in recent years our faith in the institutional Church has been shaken. Many of her sins have been brought into bold relief, especially in our country. We must remember that our Church is both human and divine, sinner and saint. We are aware of her sins and failures. At the same time, we are also deeply conscious of the holiness and the beauty of this Church. We are proud of her rich tradition, of her long line of saints and sages, of her band of ministers and servants of the poor. We believe in her because Christ is with her and will never abandon her.

Sometimes you may feel upset with the Church, and rightly so. In those moments perhaps you can remember that the Holy Spirit guides the Church at all times and the Lord will never give up on her. Human beings do make mistakes and even commit sins. God, however, works out His plan of salvation in spite of our faults and failures. This is His Church and God will ensure that His plan of salvation continues to be realized in and through this Church.

When we feel upset with the Church, perhaps we will find comfort in the following words written by Carlo Carretto, an Italian spiritual writer, who often fluctuated between his frustration with and his love for the Catholic Church. He writes:

How much I must criticize you, my church, and yet how much I love you. You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet I owe more to you than anyone. I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous and more beautiful.

Countless times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face, and yet, every night, I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms. No. I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even if not completely you.

Then too…where would I go? To build another church? But I could not build one without the same defects, for they are my defects, and again, if I were to build another church, it would be my church, not Christ’s church. No, I am old enough. I know better.

Let us work together to make St Paul of the Cross an even stronger Catholic parish. Hopefully our ancestors and those who come after us will feel proud of us. More importantly, we hope that the Lord will be pleased with our efforts.

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