Fr. Britto's Blog

Community

On September 6th, 1953, Cardinal Stritch, the Archbishop of Chicago, dedicated our church building and over the last sixty-seven years it has stood tall as an eloquent witness to our Catholic Faith. Within its walls, thousands have received the sacraments of the Church. A clear model of classic church architecture, it has become even more beautiful since we did the renovation three years ago.

Even though the beauty of our church transports us regularly into the realm of the Divine, it is made up of stones. Our parish, however, is made up of living stones, the men and women who have built our parish into a living song of praise to God. Writing to the Early Christians, St Peter calls them living stones. Our parishioners, past and present, have heeded the call of the apostle who said, "Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Therefore, more than the material structure, it is our members who make our community of faith pleasing to the Father.

In our Catholic faith, we know that God calls us as members of the community, and not merely as individuals. The theme of community is central in our Scriptures. God Himself is community - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Whose inner life is love. When God clals men and women, it is always in view of the community. God calls Abraham to leave Ur so that he will become a father to many nations. Moses is called by God to liberate the slaves from under the yoke of the Pharoah. The very covenant between God and His people is defined in terms of community: "I will be your God and you will be my people." Jesus gathers a community around Him and it grows into the Church under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Heaven itself is community. Once we reach our heavenly reward, we will live eternally in perfect communion with the Trinity and with one another.

All of us are aware that our nature drives us to be self-centered. And yet, it is in love that we find true happiness. That is why God has intended us to be in community, to take us away from our natural tendency to turn inwards. Positive psychologists tell us that only those who relate meaningfully to others are truly happy. Researchers have discovered “blue zones” where greater numbers of people live beyond 100 years. They found that all these centenarians have strong social networks and they engage in some form of social ritual almost daily. If community is so important for us, how we can we be more engaged in our own community of faith? I would like to offer two suggestions.

1. Help build up the community with your gifts.

When God calls us into life, He endows us with special gifts. We are given gifts not for ourselves but for others. In his Letter to the Corinthians, Paul lists the many spiritual gifts that God showers on His people. He goes on to say that we form the Mystical Body of Christ. He is our head and we are parts of the one body. Although we are called to play different roles in the community, each of us is significant and irreplaceable. All parts work together for the common good.

There are three types of gifts that we can offer our parish community: time, talent and treasure. For all of us, time is a scarce commodity. Volunteering our time is probably the hardest thing to do. Right now our church could not be open if numerous individuals did not give of their time as volunteers. Whether we have a talent for singing in the choir or for reading in public, we have certain gifts that we can share with the community. Right now this aspect of giving has been put on hold to a great extent. Once our ministries start up again, we will have many more opportunities to give. Finally, we can enrich the community with our treasure. As you probably know, our parish is in need of your treasure as the number of parishioners coming to Sunday Masses is highly restricted.

2. Help strengthen the faith of our brothers and sisters.

The Gospel of Matthew clearly states that we are responsible for each other. We need to support each other so that we can become holy as our God is holy. At the Last Supper Jesus predicts that one of His disciples would betray Him. When Peter protests that he would rather die than deny Him, Jesus utters these memorable words: “Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. I have prayed for you so that when you return you should strengthen your brothers.” Jesus acknowledges that Peter would fail but he should be the source of strength to his brothers who also failed.

In the Church we recognize that we are all sinners. In spite of our sins, we need to engage in the sacred task of strengthening each other’s faith. We can easily forget that the witness of our lives can enrich the faith of others. How many times in my priestly life my faith has grown stronger because I witnessed the work of God’s grace in the life of my parishioners! When we pray for each other, when we are present at the Eucharist, we strengthen each other’s faith.

These days when we are unable to be physically present to each other, let us remind ourselves of our belonging to this community of faith. The Master assures us: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.”

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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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
Fax: (847) 825-5186

Mass Schedule

Monday - Friday

8:30 am - Upper Church

Saturday

4:30 pm vigil - Upper Church

Sunday

7:30 am - Upper Church
9:00 am - Holy Family Chapel
10:30 am - Upper Church