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Thanksgiving 2019

Just a few days ago we celebrated the dedication of St John Lateran Basilica which is the cathedral of our Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome. If you have been there you know that the beauty of that church lies especially in its ornate floor. When I walked into that basilica for the first time I was awed by the intricacy and colorful details of the artwork on the pavement. Then a thought occurred to me. Many men and women artisans and artists spent their entire lifetime decorating one piece of that huge floor. No one knows their names and no one will ever celebrate their memory. Yet they gave their all so that millions could enjoy the fruit of their labors for centuries to come.

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No Room for Error

Last week as I was watching the news on TV, one particular commercial caught my attention. It was for a pizza restaurant that was touting their new “delivery insurance” policy. They claimed that they would correct any mistake they made. If their delivery was delayed, or if they gave the wrong dipping sauce or if the topping was mistaken, they would make it up to the customer. I was smiling because I was once again reminded that in our market culture where the customer is king there is no room for human error.

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Respect for Each Other

We are at the beginning of a long, election campaign that is tiring and at times, nauseating. Some of us wonder when it will end. Political candidates who are bent on swaying the voting public will say anything to get attention and support. Some of their comments and declarations exude intolerance and sometimes border on hate. Level-headed citizens are appalled by the heat of the rhetoric employed by both political parties. They pray that there will emerge an America where citizens and leaders will engage in the democratic process without condemning each other or demonizing each other.

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To Be Holy

Four years ago in an unprecedented gesture, Pope Francis canonized a married couple, Louis and Marie-Zelie Martin on October 18 as part of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Rarely have married couples been canonized, especially parents who had children. By doing this our Holy Father once again reminds us that holiness is within the reach of everyone, no matter our state in life. This couple reached heroic holiness in their own life and at the same time gifted a great saint to the Church, St Therese of Lisieux.

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Offering Masses

November is here. When we think of the month of November, we think of our dear departed. On November 2nd we celebrate “All Souls Day”. In many parts of the world Catholics visit the graves of their loved ones on that day and pray for them. As is our custom, we have a special Mass of Remembrance on Saturday, November 2nd for all our family members who passed away this year. As we remember our deceased, we offer not only a prayer of thanks for what they mean to us but also a prayer of intercession in case they still need our prayers.

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Consequences

How often do we realize that our actions have consequences? Most people are not aware of how their individual decisions and behaviors can affect the lives of others. Five years ago – to be precise, on September 26, 2014 – we were all given a dramatic demonstration of how one action of one individual can have far-reaching, dire consequences for thousands of people.

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St. John Henry Newman

This Sunday, October 13, Pope Francis will canonize one of the luminaries of the Church in England. Cardinal John Henry Newman will be declared a saint before thousands of the faithful, and I wish I could be among them. All through my life I have admired him and he has been an inspiration to me personally. Cardinal Newman has inspired Catholics not only in Great Britain but around the globe. Because of his intellectual stature, most universities name their campus ministry after him.

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Culture of Life

During our weekend Masses this month we are reminded that October is “Respect Life Month”. I presume that as Church-going Catholics we align ourselves fully with the Magisterium of the Church with regard to all life issues. God is the Giver of all life and as such, He alone is the ultimate arbiter of life and death decisions. We affirm with the universal Church that we respect life from natural conception to natural death.

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Holy Rosary

What is the one religious article that immediately conveys that the user is a Catholic? I would say, “The holy rosary.” Growing up as a child before the Vatican Council, I viewed the recital of the rosary as a typically Catholic practice. All through my youth we said the rosary everyday. I will never forget my dad calling us for family prayer which always included five decades of the rosary. For two of those decades we had to be on our knees. My brothers would try to find an excuse to avoid family prayer but my dad would always make them kneel down.

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Cost of Discipleship

Over the last few years you might have heard me calling on all of us to become “intentional disciples.” What does it mean to be intentional disciples? Most Catholics are tempted to believe that they have done their duty because they received the sacraments – baptism, reconciliation, communion and confirmation. We can easily conclude that we are following Jesus because we moved from one milestone to another. Becoming Jesus’ disciples does not happen automatically. The famous preacher Johnny Holliday used to say: “You don’t become a Christian by sleeping in the church for ten years any more than you become a car by sleeping in the garage.” We need to make a choice.

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Women and AOW

Every three years during Lent we hear the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. With his usual flair for story-telling, John weaves his theology into this encounter between Jesus and a woman of ill repute. Jesus takes the initiative and befriends the woman. From a casual exchange of pleasantries, the conversation moves on to more serious matters and finally the woman recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. In fact she runs off into the village and invites her fellow villagers to come and meet Jesus. She becomes an apostle of the Good News.

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Embrace the Moment

A few years ago on a busy morning I was driving to Queen of All Saints Basilica during rush hour when I noticed something. We were coming to some construction and the two lanes were merging into one. I am usually a calm person who does not get upset very easily. However, the way some people drive really gets to me. While many of us were in the left lane patiently waiting, some drivers thought they were smarter than all of us. They tried to get ahead of everyone by cutting in. I would have loved to block their progress. Thank God, I didn’t. As I was trying to calm myself down, I wondered why people were in such a hurry.

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Welcoming Strangers

As I sit at my computer writing my weekly column, I am thinking of a story in Luke’s gospel that speaks of two sisters. We heard that story during Sunday liturgy a few weeks ago. It tells us how Martha and Mary entertained Jesus in their home. Martha was anxious about many things because she wanted everything to be “perfect” for Jesus. In certain circles she has been unjustly belittled because Mary had “chosen the better part.” I do not believe Jesus intended to dismiss Martha’s place in the kingdom. I am sure the Lord enjoyed Martha’s hospitality and culinary prowess. We too need to acknowledge the Martha’s that serve among us. Where will our parishes be without the numerous Martha’ s – both men and women – who forget themselves and occupy themselves with a million details?

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Real Presence

A few days ago, the Pew Research Center, which studies trends in faith and religious behavior, published a disturbing statistic regarding American Catholics. It found that 69 percent of those surveyed believe that the Eucharist is only a symbol. In other words it would seem that two-thirds of American Catholics do not believe in the “real presence.” Such a conclusion is devastating for the Church.

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Points of Light

Last week as I was watching the evening news, I was particularly moved by a special story which involved a close-knit family. The two children remembered how their parents had sacrificed much for them and built a happy family. They noticed that in most of the family pictures, their white car, a Ford Mustang, was always prominent. Their dad loved that car tremendously. Unfortunately the mother got ovarian cancer and needed expensive treatment. As the medical expenses kept growing, the father was forced to sell his much-loved Mustang. For years no one knew where the car was.

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St. Ignatius

On July 31st we celebrated the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, one of the greatest saints on the Church’s calendar. He is the founder of the Jesuits, a religious order that has had more influence on the life and mission of the Church than any other. At one point there were more than 25,000 Jesuits around the world, serving in the “army of Jesus” as they are known. Today their importance has grown even greater because our wonderful Pope Francis is a Jesuit.

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Mary Magdalene

Many saints fascinate me, but very few fascinate me as much as St Mary Magdalene. My fascination with her grew even stronger when that infamous novel, The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, was published. As it seemed to lead astray some good Catholics, I was eager to burst many of the myths and falsehoods which that book was propagating. As I was researching for my talk, I drew closer to this great saint to whom there was great devotion in the Early Church. 

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Patience

Summer is a time when we should take it slow. It is the season to sleep a little extra, to have a few unscheduled days and to do the things we love. Summer is the opportunity to get away from the constant stress of wanting to achieve and to be productive. As we have heard it said so many times before, we, Americans, have a hard time un-tethering ourselves from our work-stations and our computers. We all know that Europeans take much longer vacations than we do. We work harder than everyone else.

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Laborers in the Vineyard

Often when I am at dinner with some of my friends or in the company of fellow priests, the conversation inevitably turns towards the alarming shortage of priests. Someone in the group – usually a prophet of doom – will predict that the Church is going to suffer drastic decline because of the shortage. However, hardly anyone suggests ways to stem the tide. I really believe that the scarcity of priests and nuns should not be merely a conversation starter. We must all find ways to address the situation.

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Milestones

I don’t know what you think about milestones. They make us pause, and they sometimes make us sad. Our birthdays are milestones that remind us that time is passing, and passing quickly. They beckon us to give thanks to God for all the graces He has showered on us during the previous year. They also help us remember the times we failed to use the opportunities for good that He sent us on our way. In addition they invite us to look to the future with hope.

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Corpus Christi 2019

There are a few instances in the gospels when the reader can sense the sadness and disappointment of Jesus. The first moment happens when Jesus comes to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. When the Master realizes that His friend has been in the tomb for four days, he sheds tears. The Gospel of John puts it succinctly: “Jesus wept.” The Lord also was disappointed to see His glorious city, Jerusalem, ignoring Him, because “she did not recognize the hour of His visitation.” However, probably the most disappointed plea of Jesus rings out in the Garden of Gethsemane when He addresses His three closest disciples: “Could you not watch one hour with Me?” That painful plea of the Master has touched the hearts of many Catholics down the years and in response they have spent quiet prayerful hours in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord.

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Holy Trinity

Perhaps you don’t know how much I love music. All through my seminary years I played an instrument and/or sang in the choir. Particularly I love the hymns that we sing in most parishes, hymns composed by such well-known composers as Haugen, Haas, Cooney and Joncas. Yet I am always deeply moved by the golden oldies like “Amazing Grace”. There is one classic hymn that always gets me. It is: “How Great Thou Art.” Its solemn melody reverberates in my guts and somehow I palpably experience the grandeur of God.

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Holy Trinity

Perhaps you don’t know how much I love music. All through my seminary years I played an instrument and/or sang in the choir. Particularly I love the hymns that we sing in most parishes, hymns composed by such well-known composers as Haugen, Haas, Cooney and Joncas. Yet I am always deeply moved by the golden oldies like “Amazing Grace”. There is one classic hymn that always gets me. It is: “How Great Thou Art.” Its solemn melody reverberates in my guts and somehow I palpably experience the grandeur of God.

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Minority

I am disheartened by the election news that came out of India a couple of weeks ago. The same nationalist Hindu party that has ruled India for the last five years has been returned to power with a large majority. The ruling party openly declares that India is for Hindus. Therefore Muslims (who are almost 200 million) and Christians (who number around 25 million) are considered outsiders. The framers of the Indian constitution – the group included a famous Indian Jesuit, Fr Jerome D’Souza – guaranteed the rights of minorities and the law of the land even allows minorities to run their educational institutions funded by the government. Now the ruling party (Bharathiya Janata Party) wants to dismantle all these measures and re-write the Constitution.

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Memorial Day 2019

All of you know that I was not born in this country. However, I have been an American citizen for the last fourteen years. A few times a year I feel particularly proud to be an American and Memorial Day is one of those occasions. We just celebrated it a few days ago. I do not believe that any other group of citizens feels greater appreciation and deeper gratitude for those who sacrificed their lives for the country.

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Love as He Loves

From time to time, someone will say to me, “After the Vatican Council everyone talks only about love and how God loves us. We don’t hear much about sin or God’s justice. All this talk about love is diluting our religion.” There may be some justification for their concerns. However, if we look closely at the Gospel message we cannot deny that love is at the heart of our faith. The first commandment demands that we love God with all our hearts, with all our mind, and with all our strength. 

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Vision for the Parish

I can’t believe that in a few weeks I will complete a decade among you as your pastor. Every day I thank God for giving me this privilege of tending God’s vineyard in this part of the world. The Lord has been gracious to me and I have so many blessings to count. It is strange that just a few years earlier I didn’t even know that St Paul of the Cross Parish even existed. Together we have done much over the last ten years. The parish has been a great blessing to me. I hope these years have brought you some blessings also.

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Welcoming Strangers

As I sit at my computer writing my weekly column, I am thinking of a story in the gospel that speaks of two sisters. It tells us how Martha and Mary entertained Jesus in their home. Martha was anxious about many things because she wanted everything to be “perfect” for Jesus. In certain circles she has been unjustly belittled because Mary had “chosen the better part.” I do not believe Jesus intended to dismiss Martha’s place in the Kingdom. I am sure the Lord enjoyed Martha’s hospitality and culinary prowess as well as Mary’s undivided attention and devotion. We too need to acknowledge the Marthas that serve among us. Where will our parishes be without the numerous Marthas – both men and women – who forget themselves and occupy themselves with a million details to serve others?

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Daily Food

When I lived in Rome I noticed a curious phenomenon from time to time. No matter with whom I was conversing, no matter what we were talking about, the conversation eventually, inevitably, drifted to food and wine. I would be talking to some egregious ecclesiastic. Or, I would be joking around with my students. Or, I would be having a relaxed conversation with some of my Italian friends. We might be talking about philosophy, religion, culture, theology, art or everyday life. In about fifteen minutes we would be talking about food or wine. I conducted this experiment many times. Every time the result turned out to be the same.

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Second Chances

As the Church’s liturgy sings today, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it.” This is the greatest of all days because Christ is risen. Because of His resurrection the history of humanity has been rewritten and we have been reconciled with God. The doors of heaven have swung open and we are given entrance into paradise. I have prayed for you and your loved ones during this holy season. May all of us enjoy the peace of the Risen Lord!

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Holy Week 2019

As we are entering the holiest of weeks, let us remove all distractions from our lives and set our hearts and minds firmly on the mysteries we celebrate. At the heart of this week’s liturgies stands the cross, lonely and tall. The empty tomb will be our focus next Sunday, but before we get there we need to stand in the shadow of the cross.

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In His Presence

Ask those who are no longer practicing Catholics what they miss the most. Many of them will tell you that they miss the Eucharist, the Mass. Among the treasures that the Risen Lord left with His Church, none is more precious than the Holy Eucharist because in the Sacrament of the Altar He left us Himself. In giving us this gift, the Lord fulfilled the promise He made to His disciples on the day of His ascension: “I will be with you till the end of time.” While we appreciate deeply the centrality of the Sacrifice of the Mass, we also cherish the presence of the Master in the tabernacle.

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Stop These Bills

Last week I watched a news story that brought home to me the apparent hypocrisy of our mainstream culture. A duck had gotten around its beak a plastic contraption that we use to hold a six-pack of soda. The poor bird as a result could not eat and many well-meaning individuals were very upset. They were calling on animal control to come to the aid of the unfortunate creature. Just then I realized that many of these kind-hearted people see no problem in promoting abortion. Even as we care so much about a bird, many in our society have no qualms of conscience to get rid of the unborn.

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Lesson from St. Joseph

How often we have all said: “Life is not fair. Good guys do not always win. I got a raw deal. I deserve more.” We can find such complaints even in the Bible. When we read the Psalms we see that the just man often laments because the wicked are flourishing while he languishes. In our experience we realize how God-fearing people do not have the easiest of lives. Jesus Himself was innocent and yet He was treated most unjustly. He never complained but we do.

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St. Patrick Chasing Out the Snakes

On St Patrick’s Day everyone wants to become a little Irish. I too! In fact I am very grateful to the Irish people because several wonderful Irish individuals have positively impacted my life over the years. First of all, I think of Fr Sean McFerran, a Salesian priest from Ireland, who nurtured my desire for priesthood and encouraged my vocation. He will always be one of my ideals of Catholic priesthood. Then there was Grace Schneider whose maiden name was Grace Mullen. She was my adoptive mother in Milwaukee and she watched over me with great solicitude. Then there are all the Irish nuns who taught in our Catholic schools and ministered around Madras, my native city. My younger brother, Robert, spent three years in Ireland as he pursued his theological studies at Maynooth outside Dublin. He has fond memories and loving friends from his time in the Emerald Isle. I am always in awe of that little island that has enriched the lives and culture of millions around the globe. For all that we are grateful to St Patrick who brought the Catholic faith to the Irish shores.

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Jesus of Nazareth

A couple of weekends ago over 200 young men and women from our parish received the Sacrament of Confirmation from Bishop Robert Casey. During the Confirmation Retreat in December, I was speaking to the confirmation candidates, and during my talk I encouraged them to study at least one of the gospels as part of their preparation. As Catholics wanting to embrace their faith more fully, I insisted, they should come to know Jesus to whose image they should conform. Thinking about what I said, I realize that the suggestion is valid for all of us. We need to take the time to study the gospels and come to know Jesus personally.

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Confirmation 2019

Two thousand years ago when the hearts of the apostles were in turmoil because the Master was leaving, He told them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the company of the Mother of Jesus they waited in anticipation and spent their time in prayer. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down upon them in the form of fiery tongues. Instantaneously they were transformed. Those uneducated, fearful men threw open the windows and doors of the house as they boldly proclaimed the salvation wrought by Jesus Christ. They became courageous witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and preached the Good News.

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Annual Catholic Appeal 2019

Some years ago I was sitting across the table from a priest who was the pastor of an inner city parish in Chicago. Our conversation revolved around our respective parishes and eventually I asked the inevitable question: “How much do you receive in weekly offerings?” He said that they got on average $3,000 a week. My jaws automatically dropped. I could not believe my ears. I asked him, “How do you manage to run a parish on that amount?” He replied, “That amount is not enough even to heat the church. We would be forced to shut down if the archdiocese did not come to our aid.”

Read more: Annual Catholic Appeal 2019

Sacrifice

When I prepare couples for marriage I make sure that I drive home a particular lesson. In my first meeting I say to them: “Relationships are hard work.” I should actually say, “Marriage calls for sacrifice.” Wide-eyed brides and grooms, all caught up in the frenzy of the wedding reception partying, can easily lose sight of the inevitability of pain and suffering in sharing one’s life with another. Unfortunately most people today appear to be oblivious of the meaning of sacrifice.

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Our Endowment Fund

As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, our thoughts turn to the educational priorities of the parish. We often speak of Jesus as priest, prophet and king. As prophet, He taught people about the Kingdom of God. The gospels relate that Jesus spent much time instructing both the disciples and the crowds. Jesus was a preeminent teacher. Many people called Him “Rabbi” which means teacher. Following the example of the Master, the Church takes her teaching ministry very seriously. All over the world the Church is engaged in education, and in places like India – which is mostly non-Christian – she makes her presence felt through numerous schools, colleges and universities.

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God's Timing

You may or may not know that most marriages in India are arranged by the family. The decision to marry someone is not the privilege of the individual but the result of a collective process in which the family, especially the parents, have the maximum input. After raising their child to adulthood, parents feel it is their duty to find a life partner for their offspring. In fact, mothers and fathers consider it their right to settle their children in life. In some families the child in question has very little effect on the final outcome. Sometimes I jokingly say that I became a priest in order to avoid an arranged marriage.

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God With Us & For Us

We have ushered in another year. Do we realize that we are into the second half of this decade? I marvel at how time accelerates as I get older. And yet, when I look at myself in the mirror I don’t see myself as old. Somehow I think I am as young as I used to be. Age creeps up on us and yet we are lulled into thinking that we still have lots of time.

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Holy Family 2018

Probably you are recovering from your Christmas get-togethers and looking forward to the New Year. Between these two feasts there comes another liturgical celebration, namely, the Feast of the Holy Family. The Church invites the faithful to focus their attention on the holy trio – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Hopefully we can all learn some significant lessons from them.

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Nativity Scene

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The streets are decorated with lights. Radio stations are playing our favorite holiday songs and people are anxious about their shopping. In a certain sense you can say that Christmas is in the air.

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Third Sunday of Advent

Four years ago Pope Francis was in Turkey, a country that is predominantly Muslim even though it is deeply connected to Christianity over the last two thousand years. One of the historic gestures that the pope extended on his visit was to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the head of 300 million Orthodox Christians. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church have been separated for a thousand years and the split came about over the authority of the papacy. Against such a historical background, the pope asked the Patriarch for his blessing. There was a time when patriarchs had to kiss popes' feet. At the end of a joint prayer service, Francis bowed to Bartholomew and asked for his blessing "for me and the Church of Rome," a remarkable display of papal deference to an Orthodox patriarch that expressed the Holy Father’s hope to end the schism. The papal gesture was an attempt at reconciliation between two major Churches.

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St. Francis Xavier

On December 3rd, we celebrated the feast of a great Jesuit saint. He should receive much credit for the establishment of the Christian faith in many parts of Asia, especially India. His indefatigable zeal in preaching the Good News earned him the title, “Patron of the Missions.” He is St Francis Xavier.

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First Sunday of Advent 2018

Many years ago the atheistic existentialist philosopher, Albert Camus, as a young man of eighteen was walking down the main street of Algiers in North Africa. He and his friend came across a crowd of people gathered in a circle around a mom and her wounded little son. A truck had run over the boy and the poor mother was wailing as she was holding on to her bleeding boy. Camus watched the scene silently for a while and then moved on.  After a slight pause, Camus pointed an accusing finger towards the sky and then reprovingly declared to his friend: “Look, heaven is silent!” One of the strongest objections to the belief in God has been atheists’ claim that God is too far away or too quiet in our suffering and pain.

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Christmas 2018

I want to wish each and every one of you joy and peace on this holy day. May the Christ Child fill you with His choicest blessings and may He walk by your side all through the coming year! You can be certain that I will remember you and your dear ones in my Christmas Midnight Mass and in all the other Masses that I will celebrate during this Christmas season.

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Thanksgiving 2018

These days we priests have been quite busy – nothing unusual about that. We have been quite busy hearing the confessions of our children both in the school and in religious education. We are trying to get our hearts ready for the Season of Advent and for Christmas. I firmly believe that getting our children to regular confession is important because they need to form good faith habits at a young age.

One thing always stands out in children’s confessions. Most of what they confess revolves around the family. The majority of the difficulties children seem to have in life originates from conflicts with siblings and parents. As I counsel them I try to explain to them the importance of family. I tell them that right now their brothers and sisters may be annoying but later in life they will become a blessing. I impress on them that as the big brother myself I thank God everyday for my younger siblings and my older sister too. I remind them that it is family that will stick with us through thick and thin.

When we examine our lives we all realize that most of our problems come from our families. At the same time the majority of our blessings come from our families. However, it is very easy to take our families for granted. The Italians have an expression for taking someone for granted. The phrase they use is: “Dare qualcuno per scontato.” We can translate that phrase as “To give someone away on a discount.” In other words, when a husband takes his wife for granted he is saying: “My wife is for sale, 50% off.” Unfortunately it is easy to give away our families on a discount. That is why it is good to have specially designated days when we explicitly express our love and gratitude to those we love.

As we gather around the dinner table this Thanksgiving, let us make a genuine effort to express our heartfelt thanks to each and every member of our family. Someone has said: “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Let us take time to hold on to fond memories in the family. Sadly too many people hold on to bad memories and hurts that were given either deliberately or unconsciously. Let us erase those bad memories and let us mend some fences, if necessary. After all, the God above has forgiven us over and over again, and continues to hold on to only what is good in us.

All of us are familiar with the gospel reading that narrates the story of ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. Nine of them were so taken up with the incredible blessing they received that they forgot the Giver of that blessing. They were happy that they could rejoin the human family again but had no thought for their Benefactor. Only one – a Samaritan – returned to give thanks. We can detect a tinge of disappointment in Jesus’ voice as He asks the grateful man, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"

I wonder whether that story is being repeated in our society and in our time. People gather in their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving and yet the churches are not full for the Thanksgiving Mass. Shouldn’t we start the day by participating in the Eucharist which is the greatest act of Thanksgiving? I would like to encourage all of you to take part in the Mass that will be celebrated on Thanksgiving Day at 10 am. Who deserves our thanks more than our Lord and God? All that we are and all that we have come from His loving hands. We need to gather around the Eucharistic Table to give thanks to God before we can sit around the dinner table to express our thanks to one another.

Let us remember the words of John Vianney who was also known as the Cure of Ars:

Jesus Christ found a way by which he could ascend into Heaven and yet remain on the earth. He instituted the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist so that he might stay with us and be the Food of our soul; that he might stay with us and be our Companion.

I want to thank each and every one of you for all the ways you give to our parish. Thank you for building up God’s Kingdom here in Park Ridge. I want to thank our parish staff who work very hard and serve with great competence and dedication. I thank our numerous volunteers without whom we could not do the Lord’s work. I am grateful to our numerous benefactors, both living and deceased, who have blessed the parish with their generosity so that we may continue God’s work in this portion of His vineyard.

Have a heart-warming Thanksgiving holiday! Do enjoy your family and friends. May God bless you today and everyday!

The Power of Will

As I drive on the highway in summer weather and see a motorbike whizz me by, often a thought crosses my mind. I wish I were riding one of them. Many times I have told my dear friends that I would love to ride across the country on a Harley. Please don’t get me wrong! I don’t want to be a biker in the traditional sense of the term. As a priest and as a young seminarian, my ordinary mode of travel in India was the motorcycle. Of course our Indian bikes were smaller and had much less power. Since gas was so expensive and cars were considered a luxury, priests could only have motorbikes. Once I snap out of my fantasy of riding across the US, I get more realistic. I haven’t ridden a motorbike in decades. Will I still remember how? I know I will remember. You never forget such things. It is part of you and once you get on the bike it will come right back to you.

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Synagogue Massacre

Once again we have been rudely reminded that our world can be senseless. The carnage in a Pittsburg synagogue that left 11 dead and 6 wounded tells us that our world does not make sense. It is senseless not because God made it so, but because some humans choose to make it so. How could anyone be filled with so much hate for a particular group of people that they will murder them in cold blood during their worship? I am totally shocked that someone can walk into a house of prayer with a premeditated intention to massacre? In my mind, this is an act of pure evil. It should be condemned from the housetops. We, as Christians, must reach out to our Jewish brothers and sisters who are mourning the loss of the members of their congregation.

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Purgatory

A year after I came to Park Ridge, I got a new car. As I was driving around in the days following, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I loved the new car smell. However, every now and then the same thought would cross my mind: “How long will I be able to keep this car looking new? How long will it be before I put the first scratch or dent on this new car?” I tried not to pay attention to such negative thoughts. A couple of weeks later I was up in Wisconsin on my day off visiting my brother. They had moved into a new home and it was my first visit to their new place. Their driveway is rather tight and I knew I had to be extra careful in getting out. And yet, as I was pulling out of the driveway I heard a thud. I knew that I had banged into the stone wall on the right side. When I got out of my car to inspect the damage, I was quite upset with myself. I had done it! I had put the first dent on my new car. I was mad at myself.

Read more: Purgatory

Patience

When I started celebrating weddings here in the US more than 32 years ago, most of the church weddings took place over the summer. Now we seem to have more weddings in the fall. If you have been to many Catholic weddings you would have certainly heard a particular reading from St Paul to the Corinthians. We all recall the four sentences in that reading: “Love is patient; love is kind; love always forgives; love never ends.” In this column, I would like to reflect on the first sentence, “Love is patient.”

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Mission Sunday

I owe my priestly vocation to many individuals including my parents. Among them stands out an Irish missionary who served in India for over forty years. Fr Sean McFerran came to India as a young man of seventeen and became a Salesian priest. He was the rector of the Catholic high school that I attended. Drawn by his charm and his holiness, I joined the Salesians of Don Bosco. Thanks to Fr Sean’s initiative and encouragement, over thirty priests work all over the globe in the Lord’s vineyard.

Read more: Mission Sunday

Spirit of Unity

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, the feast that changed the course of history. Twelve men, who had locked themselves in the upper room out of fear for their lives, threw open the doors and windows and boldly proclaimed the gospel. The movement that started on that day transformed the world completely. Jesus and His teachings have been embraced by billions of people and Christianity has remained an overwhelming presence and a formidable force throughout history.

Read more: Spirit of Unity

Resilience & Redemption

In my life I haven’t played a lot of golf. The few times I did play I was reminded that golf is the most frustrating game invented by man. You hit the ball hoping that it would go in one direction and it always ends up in the other direction. The last time I played the game – that was several years ago – I lost four balls in the first nine holes. I wish I would shoot my age rather than my weight. That is why I gave up playing golf. I don’t want to be the reason why my golf buddy engages in violent swearing.

Read more: Resilience & Redemption

Compassion, Not Judgement

In a few weeks the mid-term elections will be upon us. We are already being assaulted by a barrage of political ads which are high on pretense and low on truthfulness. Each candidate is vying with the other as he/she claims to be better than his/her opponent. While I am fully aware of the nature of these claims, I am uncomfortable with their sanctimonious attitude. No matter who runs for public office, the person’s character is scrutinized with a fine tooth-comb and their reputation is dragged through the mud. It is no wonder that so many good people decide not to enter the murky waters of politics.

Read more: Compassion, Not Judgement

Vocations

Over the last couple of weeks we priests have received so many gestures of support and love from you, our parishioners. During the picnic on Saturday, you even made a public gesture to stand with us. In the name of the three of us, I want to say “Thank you!” We feel the love. Not a day goes by when I do not thank the Lord for giving me the privilege to be your pastor.

Read more: Vocations

Exultation of the Cross

This week we will celebrate an important feast that often goes unnoticed because it falls on a week day most of the time. Established to honor the central symbol of the Christian faith, the feast invites the faithful to focus their attention on the tree on which the Son of God died and won our salvation. It is called the Exaltation of the Cross, and is celebrated on September 14. I would like to take this occasion to reflect with you on the role of the Cross in our lives.

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Belonging to the Church

During our lifetime we belong to certain clubs and organizations. Membership in those groups comes with varying expectations and calls for diverse qualifications. In addition, we consider ourselves part of other groups such as fan clubs and consumer groups. We are made to feel part of “a family” because we drive a particular car or use a certain product or watch a particular show. Belonging to such diverse groups may confound and confuse our understanding of what it means to be part of the Church. I hope I can clarify.

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Sins of the Clergy

You have probably seen the devastating story coming out of Pennsylvania last week. The revelations contained in the Grand Jury report on the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in six dioceses in that state were absolutely devastating. The details of the abuse were heart-wrenching and made you want to throw up. How could priests do such awful things to innocent little children? Even worse, how could bishops cover up these crimes and not bring those predators to justice? Greater blame should be laid on the shoulders of bishops who turned a blind eye to these atrocities. Instead of protecting helpless, vulnerable children, these bad shepherds chose to guard the “reputation and image” of the Church. These crimes were perpetrated over a period of 70 years by 300 priests. They are reprehensible, horrible and indefensible. Every Catholic should be outraged.

Read more: Sins of the Clergy

Precious Life

Five years ago I lost a priest friend and mentor. I was thinking about him just today. Fr Tom Enright was our neighbor. I got to know him when I came here to St Paul nine years ago. He was not merely an acquaintance; he was my occasional spiritual guide and trusted confidant. When you are a priest and are used to hearing the confessions of others, you look for a wise, older priest who can elicit trust to be your confessor. He was that priest for me. I used to go to him for confession. He always gave me solid spiritual counsel and encouragement. He had been a pastor in two different parishes and had a lot of experience leading congregations. When I had a doubt or a question regarding my role as pastor, I could always call on him. Over several years, he had been serving as an associate pastor at Our Lady of Ransom in Niles.

Read more: Precious Life

Glory of God

On July 31st we will celebrate the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, one of the greatest saints on the Church’s calendar. He is the founder of the Jesuits, a religious order that has had more influence on the life and mission of the Church than any other. At St Peter’s Basilica the statues of the important founders of religious orders stand proudly bearing witness to the charisms that these saints brought to the Church and to the world. The statue of St Ignatius has the greatest prominence because he looks down on the centuries-old ancient statue of St Peter himself 

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Sinfulness & Forgiveness

On July 22nd we celebrate the feast of St Mary Magdalene who loved Jesus with a passionate love. For a long time in the Church there was this unquestioned belief that she was a prostitute. Even though certain gospel texts may bias us towards that assumption, it was Pope Gregory the great that firmly established this stereotype. In his Easter sermon he applauded her conversion from being a sinner to becoming the “apostle to the apostles.” She was the first one to encounter the Risen Lord and He entrusted her with the earth-shaking truth of His resurrection. We will not know for sure whether she was a sinner or she was a pious woman who ministered to Jesus from her resources. One thing is, however, certain: she loved the Lord passionately. She stood by the cross while His disciples ran away. She sought to anoint his body on Easter Sunday and was distraught because she could not find Him. It is her passionate love for the Lord that made her one of the most important figures of the Early Church.

Read more: Sinfulness & Forgiveness

Family Life

Every time a national tragedy occurs (such as Park Land, FL) and young people are harmed, my heart goes out to the families that lost their loved ones. I cannot even imagine the tremendous sorrow and anguish that those families experience. In those horrible moments, friends and neighbors come together to sustain them. Without the solace of our faith or the support of our family and friends, we cannot survive such horrible losses in our lives. We need to retire to that safe haven that we call home. It is our family that sustains us in difficult times and nurtures us in ordinary times. As we enjoy more deliberate time with our families during the summer, I would like to invite us to enjoy our time together and, at the same time reflect on the importance of family life.

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God's Love

You know that popular saying… Time flies when you are having fun! Indeed, I don’t know where my time goes. On July 1st I completed nine years as your pastor. I want to thank each and every one of you for putting up with me. I am grateful to the Lord for having given me the privilege of serving in this faith community. None of us knows what the future holds. But looking back, I feel content that together we have done much to further God’s Kingdom here in Park Ridge.

Read more: God's Love

Our Father

As we draw closer to the Fourth of July, our thoughts and prayers automatically revolve around our nation. The present political climate and the tenor of our civic discourse give us cause for serious concern. Recently someone told me that last year families canceled Thanksgiving dinner because family members were so divided by their political affiliation that the dinner would turn into a riot. What a sad commentary on where we are! I wonder what the Fathers of our nation must be feeling right now. Everyone decries the animosity and rancor that are so manifest and yet no one knows how to bridge the chasm.

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Sts. Peter and Paul

On June 29th the Church celebrates the memory of two great saints, Peter and Paul, the patrons of the Eternal City. This celebration offers us an opportunity to reflect on the life and mission of these two stalwart apostles on whom our faith and Church are founded. While Peter was the head of the apostolic college who received the faith from the Master Himself, Paul was the great preacher who developed the Christian theology and took the Good News to distant shores. Even though they are two different individuals, on one thing they both concur – their intense, passionate love for Jesus Christ, the Lord.

Read more: Sts. Peter and Paul

Who Goes to Hell

Over the last several weeks I have been mesmerized by the tantalizing images of the relentless lava flow on the main island of Hawaii. While my heart goes out to those who lost their homes to the volcano’s awesome destructive power, I cannot but marvel at the magnificent display of Mother Nature’s might. One day as I was staring at the images of glowing red lava starting fires everywhere set in bold relief against the darkness of the night, one question kept recurring in my mind: “Is this what hell looks like?”

Read more: Who Goes to Hell

Who Goes to Heaven

The three Sundays that followed the Feast of the Ascension placed before us three important mysteries of our faith: The descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church, the Holy Trinity and the Eucharist. Even though these fundamental truths affect us here below, they also remind us of our destiny to be with the Lord in heaven. Just like the apostles on the day of the Ascension, we need to look up to the skies eagerly awaiting our reward in heaven. Because our earthly lives especially here in the US have improved so much in the last few decades, we can be earth-bound and lose sight of our heavenly destiny. We need to remember that we are meant to return to the garden from where we came.

Read more: Who Goes to Heaven

Reverence for the Eucharist

When I first came to America more than thirty-three years ago, I was touched by the profound respect people had for funerals and funeral processions. I still remember being part of the procession for a funeral I had celebrated in church. As the procession passed by, cars would stop and people would pause to let the cars pass. I even saw some men take off their hats and bow.

Read more: Reverence for the Eucharist

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.

Read more: Part of the Bigger Church

Baptismal Font

From time to time someone would remark to me how beautiful our church looks! Ever since we did the painting and the re-decorating, the beauty of our church has been further enhanced. However, there is one piece that needs to be improved.

Read more: Baptismal Font

Mary, Our Model

As we are in the month of May, our thoughts inevitably focus on our Blessed Mother. While He was about to leave this world, the Master gave Mary to us as His parting gift. She is not only our mother and patroness; she is also our model. She can teach us how we can live the Gospel and conform ourselves to the image of Christ. In particular, she can help us become men and women of prayer. In this column, I would like to propose Mary as the model of one type of prayer.

Read more: Mary, Our Model

First Holy Communion 2018

As you know, I try to go to India once a year to visit my family. Even though I look forward to spending time with all my relatives, I am not too excited about the trip itself. The very thought of sitting on a plane for 21 hours exhausts me. I also worry about security, immigration and customs. I wonder whether my luggage will end up in a different continent from me. I prefer to get to my destination quickly and forget completely about the journey itself.

Read more: First Holy Communion 2018

Vocations

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday. On this day the gospel reading always speaks of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Traditionally on this Sunday we pray for vocations – to the priesthood, religious life and lay ministries in the Church. The Church needs shepherds who can tend the sheep. The shortage of priests in recent years makes the need for shepherds even more keenly felt. As more and more priests retire or die, there are not enough young men joining the ranks to fill their shoes.

Read more: Vocations

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.

Read more: Mutual Support

Faith & Doubt

On the Second Sunday of Easter every year we hear the same gospel story that speaks of the Doubting Thomas. The apostle, who according to an ancient tradition went to India to preach the gospel, is identified with his doubts even though he laid down his life for the Faith. We are grateful that he refused to believe without hard evidence, because his refusal has made our faith stronger. By asking to touch His wounds and to put his hand into His side, Thomas ensured for all of us that the Crucified Lord was truly risen.

Read more: Faith & Doubt

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.

Read more: Easter 2018

Palm Sunday 2018

Another season of Lent is almost over. We are now entering into the holiest of weeks when we will celebrate the mysteries of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. We are now ready to witness the end of our sojourners’ journey towards the Easter sacraments. How shall we celebrate our high holy days?

Read more: Palm Sunday 2018

St. Joseph

This Sunday the parish will celebrate “Festa” that enlists the services of numerous volunteers of every age, shape and form. It is a veritable parish celebration. For me it is heartwarming to see so many parishioners sharing food, conversation and fellowship with their friends and family. I am grateful to each and every one of the many volunteers who make this possible. I hate to say this, but it is true. This is our last Festa. After gloriously maintaining a parish tradition for forty-five years, this event is saying good-bye. I am grateful to all those who gave of themselves over the last four and a half decades in ways big and small to make this a truly St Paul of the Cross success. In particular I want to thank Tony and Rita Russo, and Paulette and Jim Marino who have carried the burden of leadership the last several years.

Read more: St. Joseph

Lent Almsgiving

In recent years and months, we have had so many natural disasters that devastate the lives of people – forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. Every time people appeal to us for help and every time you have responded generously. When I look back on the years I have been with you, this parish has given so much to so many to alleviate the needs of people near and far. While I applaud you for the way you attempt to ease the burdens of others, I want us to remember that helping those in need is a Christian duty. Our faith calls us to give and give without expecting a return.

Read more: Lent Almsgiving

Penance

A group of Catholic grade school kids came up with the following definition: “Fast days are those in which you are supposed to eat in a hurry.” That explanation may make us smile but we know that fasting is very Catholic. For most of us, the season of Lent is synonymous with giving up something. Fasting is the second pillar of our Lenten observance. This season resounds with the Master’s call: “Deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow Me!”

Giving up food partially or totally for religious motives is found in virtually every religion. In the Hebrew Scriptures fasting was a means of repentance for sin, of remembrance of God’s deliverance from past sin, of supplication in time of calamity, of mourning for the dead, and of preparation for a great undertaking. In every case, fasting was considered a symbolic act of prayer and humility before God.

Influenced by Hellenistic philosophy, Early Church adopted fasting from food as a way of achieving bodily discipline in an effort to prepare the mind for contemplation and communion with God. When the period of Roman persecution was over, early Christians looked for another way of uniting themselves with the sufferings of Christ. In denying themselves food and drink, they found an effective way of becoming one with Christ on the Cross.

Doing external acts of penance is meaningless if it is not an outward expression of our inner conversion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes this point in the following way:

Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance. (#1430)

The practice of self-denial has a long tradition in our faith. Even though fasting from food is a good way to practice renunciation during Lent, there are many other ways of following Christ’s call to self-denial. For instance, giving up meat is not much of a penance for me because I enjoy eating fish. Giving up sweets or chocolate would cost me more. Giving up my time for others probably will be the greater sacrifice. For some of us, more than giving up food, being kind to those who are not kind to us will be a more meaningful penance. All of us are called upon to seek out ways to unite ourselves with the Suffering Servant of God.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Give up something meaningful.
  • Spend time with someone who is difficult to love.
  • Listen to an elderly person who tells the same story over and over again.
  • Resist the need to talk badly of another person.
  • Be kind to someone who disagrees with you on certain issues.
  • Be patient with a difficult co-worker.
  • Try not to grumble about Chicago weather.
  • Pray for those who hurt you.
  • Refuse to criticize someone who fails to meet your standards.
  • Let someone go ahead of you in traffic.
  • Delay gratification.
  • Refuse to air your complaints.
  • Don’t protest if someone slights you.
  • Be a humble servant when someone treats you like one.

Let us remember that often the best mortifications are not those that we seek out, but those that come our way. As St John Vianney (The Cure of Ars) said, “There are people who make capital out of everything, even the winter. If it is cold, they offer their little sufferings to God.”

By doing these little acts of penance, we attempt to partake in Jesus’ suffering. In some way we are concretely responding to the call of the Master Who said, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow Me!” It is not the size of our penance that matters. What matters is the spirit with which we mortify ourselves. What matters is our heart.

May we partake of Christ’s suffering in some small way so that we can partake fully in His glory!

Lent Prayer

We are already into the Lenten season. The ashes we received on Ash Wednesday remind us of Christ’s call to repentance as expressed in the words said during their imposition: “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel!” Borrowing the words of Paul we can say, “Lent is the acceptable time, a time of grace.” As we begin this holy season I would like to invite all of us to embark on a journey of conversion and spiritual renewal.

Read more: Lent Prayer

Temptations

Every year on the First Sunday of Lent we read the gospel passage that recounts the temptations of Jesus in the desert. The Church wants Catholics to start this holy season thinking of their struggles with temptation and sin so that they will approach the Lord for His forgiveness. I am sure you have wondered: “Why did Jesus allow Himself to be tempted? After all, He is the Son of God and as such, He cannot sin.”

Read more: Temptations

Self-Promotion

Thank God the year 2017 was not a major election year and we were spared the barrage of political advertising. Every time I am relieved once the election season is over. Especially these days, political campaigns seem to be unending. More than the endless stream of ads, what irks me is the negative tone of those TV commercials. As the years go by, we are witnessing more negative and more mean-spirited campaigns.

Read more: Self-Promotion

Martin Luther King

I cannot believe that fifty years have passed since our nation lost one of her greatest sons. Last week we remembered Martin Luther King Jr. Thanks to his tireless efforts not only African Americans have seen a new day. The whole nation has been transformed and a radical consciousness has been awakened regarding the fundamental dignity of every person.

Read more: Martin Luther King

Cognitive Monority

Sometime ago I heard a remark that I have heard so many times before. My friend said, “The one ‘ism’ that is totally acceptable today in America is anti-Catholicism. The one group you can ridicule and get away with is the Catholic Church.” Even though I fully concurred with her observation, my mind went in a different direction. I feel that anti-Catholic feelings will continue to persist because of what we stand for and because of what the world prefers to espouse.

Read more: Cognitive Monority

True Freedom

After my arrival in the US as someone who grew up in another country, I quickly learned that freedom is one of the greatest and most cherished American values. We Americans will not allow anyone or anything to restrict or compromise our freedom in any way. That is why the fight over such issues as abortion and gun control will never end. The prototypical figure of the American ethos is the mythical cowboy who is a law unto himself and who establishes justice on his own terms. The battle lines that are often drawn in the cultural sand are fought over the definition and exercise of our freedoms.

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The Holy Family

I hope that you have recovered from the stress of preparing for and celebrating Christmas. I also hope that the celebration brought you much joy and peace, that it brought your family together. No matter how old I get, I always have a special feeling around Christmas. The Nativity scene, the carols, the Midnight Mass, and the happy faces of people make me want to bottle that feeling and hold on to it for the New Year. 

Read more: The Holy Family

Christmas 2017

On behalf of the entire parish community, please accept my sincere wishes for a blessed Christmas and a grace-filled New Year. May the Christ Child fill you and your loved ones with His peace and joy, and may His gifts stay with you always! I will certainly remember you and your family in my Christmas Masses.

Read more: Christmas 2017

Love & Believe

What better way is there to prepare for Christmas than to reflect on the individuals who were central to the birth of the Lord? Next week we shall look at Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This week I would like to call your attention to that just man, Joseph, who quietly collaborated in God’s plan of salvation. Only the Gospel of Matthew offers details about him. The evangelist contrasts Joseph with Herod, the wicked king, whose sole mission in life was to destroy the New-born King of Israel. In the mind of the gospel writer, Joseph is like his namesake in the Old Testament. Like Joseph of old, he receives God’s message through visions and dreams; and, like Joseph of old, he furthers God’s plan in spite of setbacks and paradoxes.

Read more: Love & Believe

Rejoice in the Lord

With the First Sunday of Advent we move towards the great feast of our salvation. With Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi, we prepare ourselves for the birth of our Lord. In the Gospel of Luke, Mary is presented as the joyful woman of faith who rejoices in God her Savior. Having seen the mighty works of God wrought in her and in her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, she gives praise to God. During this Advent season let us keep before us the words of our Blessed Mother as our focal point: “My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior” (Luke 1:47). We are invited to join Mary in recognizing the presence of God in our lives and rejoice in God, our Savior.

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Have Thine Own Way, Lord

As she sat in a prayer meeting early in the last century, Adelaide Pollard was so depressed that she could hardly concentrate. She had felt a heavy burden in her heart for the continent of Africa and was convinced that God wanted her to go there as a missionary. She had been on the verge of preparing to sail when it was evident that the necessary funds could not be raised and her plans had to be canceled. Into her dark mood a few words filtered. They were part of the prayer of an elderly lady she knew: “It’s all right, Lord! It doesn’t matter what you bring into our lives; just have your own way with us!” As soon as she muttered those words, her burden was lifted. In her submission to God’s will, she had found peace.

Read more: Have Thine Own Way, Lord

His Way

For us Americans kings and queens are as exotic and unfamiliar as are dragons and dungeons. On the last Sunday of the liturgical year we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. Often I wonder how much Catholics understand the significance of this celebration. What do we really mean when we say that Christ should be the king and center of our hearts?

Read more: His Way

Thanksgiving 2017

Some time ago I was in the car with another driver and she was driving. At one point, some other car wanted to get in from one of the side roads. The traffic was heavy and everyone was trying to get ahead. The driver in my car, out of the goodness of her heart, let the car in. After the other driver pulled ahead she just kept going. My friend in the car was quite upset because the other person did not even acknowledge the gesture.

Read more: Thanksgiving 2017

Remembering the Dear Departed

 November 5th we celebrated a special Mass for all those who passed from our parish and entered eternal life. It afforded us a moment to grieve and at the same time to gratefully remember the love we have for all our dear departed. Masses offered for the dead constitute a uniquely Catholic practice that expresses a fundamental Catholic belief. We believe that once they cross the bridge the deceased are unable to help themselves. However, we the living can always intercede with the Lord for them.

Read more: Remembering the Dear Departed

Blessed Newman

Every year, just before the Feast of All Souls the Church celebrates the memory of saints who have not been raised to the honors of the altar. These are the unsung heroes of our faith – our parents, friends, relatives and others – who have lived the Gospel in their daily lives. With this feast the Church wants to remind us that holiness is within our reach and that it comes in several different forms.

Read more: Blessed Newman

Pilgrimage to Rome

From the earliest days of Christianity going on pilgrimages has been a laudable and sacred undertaking. Even in other religions the faithful brave the hardships of travel so that they may obtain forgiveness for their sins. Observant Muslims go to Mecca for that purpose and so do Hindus to the River Ganges. The purpose of a pilgrimage is not merely to see some sacred places but to recommit oneself to one’s faith.

Read more: Pilgrimage to Rome

Why Sunday Mass

Every year in the month of October the archdiocese asks all the parishes to count the number of people who come to Mass on Sunday. I am always a little nervous about the “October Count” because it gives us a clear indication of the level of participation of our parishioners. Just a few weeks ago the number of registered families in our parish crossed 5,000. Even though we are probably the second largest parish in the archdiocese, I wonder how many do come to Mass on a regular basis. It is not enough that we have so many people as part of our parish. They should be active members.

Read more: Why Sunday Mass

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