Began with Mary

When I was a young seminarian we used to sing a Marian hymn composed by an Englishman, Kevin Mayhew. I can never forget the first line in the chorus: “It all began with Mary.” That statement is so true. It all began with Mary – indeed! St Bernard, in one of his reflections, pleads with Mary to say “Yes” to Archangel Gabriel. This is what he writes:

And behold, to you the price of our salvation is offered. If you consent, straightaway shall we be freed! In the eternal Word of God were we all made, and lo! We die; by one little word of yours in answer shall we all be made alive.

Certainly we are saved because Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose for us. However, once Mary submitted herself to the Lord’s will, God could write the final chapter. Through the obedience of this humble handmaid, the Word was made flesh and all of created reality could taste the saving power of our God. Yes, it all began with Mary.

The Church places the Mother of God foremost on our minds as we begin the New Year. We do well to begin it in the company of her who initiated a new beginning for humanity. We know if we begin our new year with her, God will bless the work of our hands and make it prosper. She offers us two lessons as we usher in 2020.

First of all, she wants us to live in the present. Whether she was in Bethlehem with the Baby Jesus or in Nazareth in a carpenter’s humble home, she lived in the moment. Every passing day became for her another way of repeating that “Yes” she had uttered at the Annunciation. Second, she wants us to use the time that God gives us to enrich the lives of others. Immediately after the visit from the angel when God’s Son made His dwelling within her, she went to assist her elderly cousin. She did not rest on her laurels as the Mother of God. She undertook an arduous journey as an act of love and compassion.

Following her example, first of all, we need to live in the present. When I celebrate the sacraments – especially matrimony and baptism – I get a little disappointed by the behavior by a few individuals in the congregation. At the beginning of the celebration I invite everyone to participate in the ceremony. And yet, one or two individuals insist on focusing their attention on taking pictures than in participating. It bothers me that they would rather preserve a memory for the future while they neglect to participate in the actual moment. How can you have a memory if you did not have the original experience in the first place? Sometimes that is how we live our lives.

Let us make a resolution that this year we will give our loved ones unflinching attention. Let our relationships become our first priority. Let us find ways to spend time with each other. Let us form a habit of gathering the family every night around the dinner table. Let family prayer become a part of our daily routine. Let us attend Sunday Mass as a family and let that obligation become a non-negotiable in our home. Let us enjoy our children while they are little. Before we realize, they will pick up and leave for college. Let us delight in our spouse. It is easy to take each other for granted. Let us live in the moment. Let us not allow the past or the future to hold us prisoner.

Second, just like Mary, let us use the gift of time to enrich the lives of others. Writing in his First Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul says, “He [Christ] Who was rich, made Himself poor so that through His poverty He may make us rich.” Christ emptied Himself to fill us up. That is what every disciple is called upon to do. We have been given the gift of time so that we can use our talents to make everyone rich – not merely in the material sense of the word.

Over the Christmas season I personally witnessed your tremendous generosity towards the poor and the needy. We adopted over 175 families for Christmas. I was touched by the number of gifts – over 900 - that were distributed to various organizations. In this parish many of us have been given much. Much will also be expected from us. I hope and pray that we continue to exhibit generosity towards the poor. Please insist on this lesson with your children and young people. Giving time and assistance to the poor is an integral part of being Catholic. May 2020 make our parish a haven for the poor and the needy!

May the Christ Child bless you, your loved ones and your home in the New Year! May you enjoy the abundant blessings of the Lord and the love of your family! You are in my prayers.

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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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

Monday - Friday

8:30 am - Upper Church


4:30 pm (vigil) - Upper Church


7:30 am - Upper Church

9:00 am - Holy Family Chapel

9:30 am - Gym

10:30 am - Upper Church

12:00 pm - Gym