At the 10:30 am Mass on Sunday, February 28, Jessica Navarro, part of this year's Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) group seeking entrance into the Catholic faith, went through the Rite of Sending before heading down to Holy Name Cathedral in the afternoon for the Rite of Election.
There, she was presented to Bishop Grob and recognized alongside other catechumens (unbaptized) in the final weeks of their preparation for entering the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday. Please keep her, Corina Cleja, and Daniel Geihsler, our other RCIA candidates (who have already been baptized), and the RCIA team in your prayers in these final weeks of this important faith formation process.
Over the next three weekends at one of the Sunday Masses, the RCIA group will undergo the Scrutinies where they will be examined about their own desires to turn away from sin and embrace the gospel of Jesus. These Rites invite all of us “old Catholics” to do the same in our lives, as we share the common goal of being ready for the celebration of Easter. The schedule is:
Due to COVID-19, all the Holy Week Services have new protocols. The Palm Sunday Processions, Holy Thursday's Washing of Feet, Lighting of the New Fire on Holy Saturday, and other portions of the rituals have either been removed or greatly simplified. Registration is required for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter. Sign up links are below.
Palm Sunday Masses - click HERE to register
Sunday Vigil, Saturday, March 27 at 5:00 pm
Sunday, March 28 at 8:00 am and 10:30 am (live-streamed)
Weekday Masses During Holy Week
Monday, March 29, Tuesday, March 30, and Wednesday, March 31 - 7:30 am Mass
There are no 7:30 am Masses offered on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, or Holy Saturday.
Holy Thursday, April 1
7:30 pm ~ Mass of the Lord's Supper (live-streamed) - click HERE to register
(Church is open until 10:00 pm for Eucharistic Adoration.)
Good Friday, April 2
3:00 pm ~ Stations of the Cross
7:30 pm ~ Service of the Lord's Passion (live-streamed) - click HERE to register
Holy Saturday, April 3
11:00 am ~ Blessing of Easter Baskets
7:30 pm ~ Easter Vigil Mass (live-streamed) - click HERE to register
Easter Sunday, April 4 - click HERE to register
8:00 am ~ Mass
10:30 am ~ Mass (live-streamed)
Third Sunday of Lent
Anger is perhaps the most misunderstood emotion among not only Christians, but many others throughout the world. Today’s gospel passage of Jesus cleansing the temple by creating a whip and driving out the moneychangers and others who had created a marketplace within the temple itself, is our confrontation with righteous anger.
Anger of any kind rises up within us when we perceive injustice towards ourselves present in the situation. Sometimes, this is, in a sense, a trick, because what has actually happened is our ego has been accurately attacked and we don’t like our frailty and imperfections being exposed. In those situations, we need to reflect on what is it that triggered this response in order to root out the source of our misperception -- it isn’t about changing the world, it is about changing ourselves.
Sometimes anger arises when we perceive we are being treated unfairly, not receiving what we have determined is our due. Oftentimes this is because of the biases or prejudices we have lived within for many years -- sometimes since we were very young children. I suspect a lot of the recent troubles in our own country are founded in this kind of anger. People feel and suspect they aren’t getting something they “deserve” while others who don’t “deserve” it are receiving it or are at least perceived as receiving it. In these cases, it is imperative that everyone move towards the objective truth of the situation. What is wrong in these situations is not the reality of what is present, but the incorrect perception of those who do not like it. Especially in these situations, speaking the truth is of paramount importance.
The anger of Jesus in today’s gospel passage is accurate and appropriate. Probably over the course of many years, everyone got lax about following the religious norms regarding the temple. Now those with business savvy set up the selling of necessary materials for offering their sacrifices (e.g. two turtle doves, etc.) and were able to pay-off or wear down those responsible for maintaining the religious nature of the temple. In so doing, the real purpose of the temple became distorted. Its primary purpose was no longer to adore God and offer appropriate sacrifices. Instead, it had become one more place of business. Jesus’ anger not only reveals his passion for truth but his passion for his Father and His Father’s House! That is righteous anger. He is not only speaking up for himself but for all his fellow believers in order to get things back into their right order so that worship of God may again be pure.
One of the great gifts of so many community organizations and community organizers is that they rouse up the hearts and souls of people to “speak truth to power.” They identify the injustices that are encouraged and supported by those in power enjoying the status quo and demand it be confronted and changed for the good of all the people. Obviously, if everyone has gotten used to the way things are, correcting this injustice is going to cause upset, disorder, change. Most of all, a giant pushback from those who are being challenged. Often when people rise up and speak this kind of truth, the pushback comes in the form of outrage, anger, and fury directed at those who are pointing out the flaws of the current system. At those moments, those who are the greatest supporters of the injustices become the loudest shouters that they are now being treated unjustly. When, in fact, what they are actually protecting, is their place of privilege and superiority.
As we have seen in so many examples in recent years, righteous anger is met by weaponized anger, escalating situations in order to defeat those who have been unjustly treated. Weaponized anger is always wrong and only ever leads to more violence and destruction and injustice. That is the reason so many great leaders, like Gandhi, like Jesus, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have refused to allow violence to be used in that way, demanding that all those who follow their teaching be non-violent in their resistance.
Lent is a good opportunity for personal and societal reflection. It is a good time to consider what “ticks me off?” Do my ire and my bile rise up appropriately because I am being treated unjustly? Or is it because I am one of the privileged and don’t want my exalted status threatened and even taken away? It is at this point we begin to see the interconnectedness of Jesus’ teachings and how he lived his life. Unless I can see every other human being as my equal, the world is unjust. And unless I am a tool for changing that inequality and ushering greater equality, even if I am doing nothing to support the inequality, in fact, I am supporting it. My “take no stand” supports the status quo.
We know from the life and death of Jesus and so many others that the work of our life in serving equality and truth is both exhausting and demands such a high price, even, for some, to the point of death.
M. Scott Peck pointed out in his writings that “life is not fair.” That is certainly the truth of all who live in this world. But the next steps in our response to that truth are hard. Speaking truth, living truth will exact a price. Consider right now how many people are insisting on certain lies because they like that version of reality better than the truth! And they are very willing to pay a lot to maintain those falsehoods. Even if it means destroying foundational values. Even if it means destroying the property and lives of those with whom they disagree.
For each of us this Lent, what is the “it”? What is the inappropriate anger I need to come to grips with? And the other side of that, what are the things about which I should be angry because they are creating or maintaining an unjust reality for me and others? That is the beginning of living the gospel that we are called to every Lent, and every day of our Christian life.
Anger can be a great tool for good when it fuels our passion -- when we know why we are angry and what we are willing to change in ourselves, first, and then what are we willing to fight for in the broader world in which we live.
Even before we get to the story of the Transfiguration in today’s gospel passage, we have that extraordinary opening line in the Epistle reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us?” This profession of faith puts everything into perspective. So we should not be completely surprised when, in the gospel reading, we read of Jesus taking a few disciples up the mountain where he was transfigured before their eyes, and with him appeared Moses and Elijah.
Like every moment of every day since the first Easter, even before the actual event happened, the grace of Easter was already being realized. Some scripture scholars call the Transfiguration a “misplaced resurrection account.” Perhaps “anticipatory” is a better description. But whatever we might title it, the effect is the same. We will always live in a world where the power of God’s love has already been seen and where Our Lord has gone, we are sure to follow.
When we speak of the Christian virtue of hope, this is what our hope is based upon. Through God, His Son was born into our world and lived among us, loving us and suffering and dying for that love which then became the source of everlasting life when he was raised from the dead. Where he has gone, we are certain to follow.
At this time of the liturgical year, I am reminded of the quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who, during the darkest days of apartheid, rallied the people by reminding them, “Don’t give up on hope. I’ve read to the end of the book. We win! We win!” It seems to me the Transfiguration is the embodiment of that hope. Even before the disciples had to face the horror of the cross, Jesus has strengthened them with this experience.
Having begun Lent with Jesus going into the desert, we now see where this journey will take us. Even though repentance is always challenging, creating within us uncertainty about what we might face if we change our behaviors, we are reminded to “Let it go….trust God.” God always is watching over us, loving us, leading us to eternal life.
~ Father Rich
Stations of the Cross will be prayed every Friday during Lent at 3:00 pm in Church. During the Stations of the Cross at 3:00 pm, the priest/minister will not invite any of those in church to walk with him/her. Everyone else must remain in their pew while the minister moves from Station to Station.
No registration is necessary to attend. Please check-in at the greeter table using the door on Granville.
Our Lenten Reconciliation Service will take place on Sunday, March 14 at 1:00 pm in church. Registration is available below.
Our prayer card this Lent features the Lenten theme: “Let it go….trust God!” with the icon of an anchor, the Christian symbol for hope. This symbol made a much greater impact when many early Christians lived close to bodies of water and fishing was a way of life.
Most of the disciples came from a background of being fishermen – probably for many generations. So it is important for us to look back to their daily experience. While we may think of an anchor as something like the parking brake of the automobile – something you put in place once you’ve parked the car, the anchor was far more important in the daily work of the fishermen, especially when the sea turned rough and the storms began to toss their small boats around. The anchor tethered the boat and its inhabitants to the earth. Once the anchor was dropped and the earth “caught” it, the boat was a much safer place to be. When the storm passed, you could still expect to safely be about where you were when it started up – but with a very changed and far more awakened sense of the power of nature and of God.
Hope is one of the three theological virtues, along with faith and charity (love). St. Paul’s reflection of these virtues in his letter to the Corinthians that we often hear at wedding celebrations points out what is most important in our lives if we are followers of Jesus. He concludes that beautiful reflection with these sentences, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Hope is the bridge connecting what we believe and how we live. It is what we cling to in difficult moments when faith is tested and life is threatened. Hope is the constant reminder that God is always with us, caring for us, loving us. It is this foundation that allows us to let go of our self-created truths in search of what God is inviting us to when we set about reforming our lives.
As we begin this Lent, the anchor we drop in the midst of turmoil is resting not on the earth’s foundation, but upon God. We are tethered to God as our foundation. God never abandons us. God is always with us. Let us trust God as we prepare for the new life which is the gift of Easter!
Our culture tells us to be our own persons, that we have to be self-sufficient and in control. But the last thing we have felt for the past year, and especially these past weeks, is “in control.” Our illusion of control can not only cut us off from the people and resources we need to live; it can cut us off from being able to hear the voice of God calling our name, affirming our relationship with God, and opening up the best paths for our journey. ~ Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP President, Paulist Evangelization Ministries
This will be our second Lenten season in a pandemic. As many people have observed, time in the pandemic is different. Parts seem to fly by, while other parts seem to drag on endlessly. So it might seem as if we were here just a few days ago.
Each year, we get this season to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. To do justice to that truth and miraculous event, we first must get ourselves renewed. We have to follow Jesus into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights in order to find our way back home once again.
For many of us, the pandemic has awakened or reawakened us both to how blessed we are, and how we have failed and need to reform our lives. On the blessing side has been a new awareness of the importance of people in our lives. The basic human need for touch, for friendship and love, for time spent together has never been clearer. Social distancing may be excellent for restraining a virus, but it is painful for our hearts. And so we have come to realize, as we were forced to slow down, to settle in, to learn and practice patience, that relationships are not only precious, they require work and attention. Every family member and friend, every neighbor and co-worker gives us a small peek into the presence of God among us. And with that awareness comes floods of gratitude and appreciation.
But this same pandemic also unmasked so much brokenness in our personal lives, in our families, in our communities, in our nation, in our world. It is not accidental that Black Lives Matter finally got a true hearing during these pandemic times. Our lives were finally stalled enough that we actually saw the scenes of violence against Black Americans and were truly shocked and revolted. If once we thought, “This is not who we are!”, now we know -- “This is who we are!”
The injustice of our own systems of justice, the Original Sin of racism is still so active and alive among and within us, the horrendous disparities in our schools, places of medicine, workplaces, and homes. This is the dark side of who we are. We either did not know or did not want to know about this side of ourselves and our nation.
But when we watched the toll of deaths and infection from the virus, we could not deny reality anymore. The Covid-19 virus may indeed sicken and kill people of every race and creed and color, but we now have the proof that in our nation it overwhelmingly strikes the poor, Black, Brown, and Native American -- it strikes all minorities in such aggressively unequal ways.
We are then forced to ask ourselves, “How did we get here?” And perhaps even more importantly, “How can we yet become the people we want to be?”
The Lenten focus we have chosen for this year is, “Let it go…..trust God.” This is a variation on the 12-step expression, “Let go and let God.” We start there because it is clear there is a serious illness in our society. Most of all, it is an illness of the spirit. And like all spiritual diseases, the only solution is spiritual. It has to involve me and my God. So we start at the beginning. We have to let go. We are not strong enough or smart enough or powerful enough to make it all better. We need help. We need God. And as soon as we know that truth, we can begin to identify just what “it” is that we need to let go of. While there may be a commonality for households and communities and even larger groups, what finally matters is the way each of us identifies what “it” is within me that I need to confront in order to let go.
Lent always begins in the desert. To paraphrase one of the Desert Fathers, “Everyone thinks the city is where all the action is. Nope! That’s just busyness. The real action is always in the desert.” The desert is the place we stop and are stripped down to the basics. Facades are pushed away, and we confront our real selves. And in each of us, part of that self is wonderful and beautiful and so hope-filled and loving. And in each of us, part of that self is dark and brooding, on the edge of despair and hostility, insecure and so prone to anger and violence. This darkness is what we have to bring into the light that it might be transformed. We can’t keep it contained anymore. The energy required for that containment is both exhausting and all-consuming. It prevents each of us from the positive, creative, life-giving stuff we could be doing. We have to let it go. We have to trust God.
It is the profound fear that if we trust God we will be punished, or worse, that most works against us living freely in the light of God’s love. But if we let “it” go, we will find ourselves unburdened, forgiven, loved. God never misdirects us. God always guides us on the right paths. Our seasonal psalm refrain says it so well, “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.” (Psalm 25)
Let us begin this new Lenten season with the quiet confidence that God will continue to do what is best for us. Let us commit ourselves to using this time well to confront the darkness that we might expose it to the light. Let us let go of our need to control and to be right and to be in charge and leave that up to God. May each of us have a blessed and holy Lent!
During the Lenten season, we try to simplify all we are doing, including our public prayer, in order to more keenly focus on what is asked of us and what help we are asking from God in our repentance and reformation.
At the beginning of each of our Sunday liturgies, we start the Penitential Rite with a simple statement outlining our focus that week. We are then invited to kneel (the posture of repentance) for a brief time of silent, personal reflection, then we listen to the sung Kyrie, Eleison (Lord, have mercy….Christ, have mercy….Lord, have mercy). We then stand for the prayer of absolution and then the Opening Prayer.
After each of the scripture readings, we have a brief period of silence in which we are invited to collect ourselves in prayer, turning to and relying upon God’s help.
Our Seasonal Psalm after the First Reading each week is Psalm 75 whose refrain is, “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.”
The Gospel Acclamation (replacing the Alleluia) is Praise to you, Lord, Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.
The sung Mass parts will be from the Schubert’s Deutsche Mass.
As we have all learned since last March, the behaviors that keep us safe and healthy in this pandemic also mean that patterns of behaviors have had to change. We no longer shake hands or hug when we greet each other; we isolate ourselves from people we do not live with, and try to bring fresh air into wherever we are, and so on.
Just so, our liturgies have changed. As we enter into Lent, the behaviors of past years are not reliable touchstones for what we do today. The first hint of those changes was probably noticeable on the weekend before the feast of St. Blaise when the final blessing of Mass was the blessing of throats. But there was no allowance for individual blessings.
On the Fridays of Lent, for those praying the Stations of the Cross at 3:00 pm, the priest/minister will not invite any of those in church to walk with him/her. Everyone else must remain in their pew while the minister moves from Station to Station.
There are additional changes to the liturgies of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday). That information will be shared closer to Holy Week.
By the threefold discipline of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, the Church keeps Lent from Ash Wednesday until the evening of Holy Thursday. All of the faithful and the catechumens should undertake the serious practice of these three traditions. Failure to observe penitential days totally or a substantial number of such days must be considered serious.
Our US Bishops issued in 1966 this statement on penitential observance: "On weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and self-imposed observances of fasting. In light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge particularly during Lent, generosity to local, national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part of our abundance.”
As we hear in the scripture readings on Ash Wednesday every year, the three penitential practices we follow in Lent are Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. These three help us to let go of our control over everything we think we have control over in order to place our trust in God. This letting go allows God to help us be transformed.
There is no secret to prayer. It is simply a word that means we are spending time with God. Everything that follows is because others before us have shared their own experiences of prayer as a gift to help those who follow. Like all good relationships, communication requires of us the ability to quiet ourselves in order to listen to the other person.
For most of us, this is the hardest part of prayer. No sooner do we find a time and place to be quiet than we become aware of all the chattering in our own minds. That awareness is a good place to start – for that chattering is our life – and that is exactly what we want to bring to the Lord.
Over many centuries, people of faith have stumbled upon many disciplinary practices that they have found helpful in their own prayer life. The list is quite lengthy! Here are some suggestions for a variety of prayer you might consider during this Lenten season:
All the world’s great religions have stumbled onto certain universal truths. Fasting is one of those truths. One way of summing up all religious truth is to say that all religion is about one thing – allowing us the ability to freely choose to love God with all our mind and heart and soul. Fasting is about addressing the freedom part of that endeavor.
Not unlike our clothes closets and garages and basements, without quite knowing how or when, we discover we have accumulated lots of stuff that was meant to enhance our well-being, but over time, and collectively, have now become burdensome, leaving us unable to act as free agents.
Periodic fasting allows us to step clear of whatever is burdening us. Sometimes it is stuff. Sometimes it is behaviors. Sometimes is it hidden desires in our hearts and souls. For many centuries, the Church has established a set of regulations on food which lead us to how we can address all aspects of our lives. When we fast and abstain from certain parts of our regular diet, for even a few weeks, we become aware of how we become “prisoners” of certain things. Some of what we consume can even become addictive when we are unable to control how much of a certain thing we may partake in. These insights gained from our diet point the way, as well, to other behaviors that can assist us in being freed from other encumbrances.
Besides the Lenten Regulations for Fast and Abstinence, here are some other possibilities for this Lenten discipline:
That ‘Life is not fair” is hardly news. But as old as that truth is, equally old is the Judeo-Christian teaching which informs us that life is also lacking in justice and righteousness.
While no one of us can make life universally fair, each one of us has an obligation to do our part to help restore justice and re-establish righteousness. Giving to those in need helps that re-ordering. Feeding our hungry brothers and sisters produces justice.
The practice of almsgiving during Lent is a way to help us, throughout the entire year, work on justice. In a nutshell – we not only have more than we need, but our excess is also, at least in part, what is missing from the lives of our poor sisters and brothers.
Almsgiving is a way of softening our hearts to be more human and more humane. Here are a few possibilities for your consideration this Lent:
Lent begins on Sunday and the new season will bring about many changes into our liturgies as we try to deepen our faith and grow closer to God. This year, we will strive for a blend/mixture of old and new music as we remember our past traditions and start new ones. Here is a brief rundown:
In addition to these changes, we will also have 30 seconds of silence between the first and second reading and between the second reading the gospel acclamation so that we can truly reflect on the scripture readings that have just been proclaimed.
You will also find each week a mixture of Lenten standards and some new hymns. I hope that you will enjoy the music that has been selected for this season.
~ Mary Clare Barker, Music Minister
Previously, our Almoner’s Program distributed $5 gift cards to McDonald’s to parishioners after Mass. They were then asked to share the card with someone in need and take the opportunity to have a brief and humane conversation with the other person, affirming them and wishing them well.
This year, we have adjusted our program due to COVID and have opted to collect donations to purchase McDonald's gift cards for two local ministries that serve those in our community who arein need - The Night Ministry and Care for Real. Both organizations have seen a dramatic rise in people needing help since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Night Ministry
The Night Ministry was created by local clergy and faith communities in 1976 to address the crisis of homelessness for teens and young adults. Its mission is to compassionately provide housing, health care, outreach, spiritual care, and social services to adults and youth who struggle with homelessness, poverty, and loneliness. They strive to lovingly accept individuals as they are, particularly those in the LGBTQ community who have been ostracized from their families, and offer support as they seek to improve their lives.
Using a bus as a mobile medical clinic, the Night Ministry provides free health care, survival supplies, food, winter wear, and hygiene kits to individuals who have the most difficulty accessing traditional services. Their team regularly visits encampments, expressway viaducts, and street corners across the city, first addressing immediate health needs, then link individuals to case management and medical homes.
They have also created youth housing programs—the Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program (RAPPP); the STEPS Transitional Living Program; the Crib, an emergency overnight shelter for young adults ages 18 to 24; and Phoenix Hall, a residence for North Lawndale College Prep High School students experiencing homelessness.
Care for Real
Care for Real’s mission is to help neighbors in the Edgewater community by providing food, clothing, and counseling services to those in need. They accomplish this through on-site food pantry, deliveries to the homebound, a free clothing closet, a pet pantry, a job readiness program, and a case-management program to help clients connect with other services they may need.
St. Gertrude has been a strong supporter of Care for Real since 1970, providing annual financial support to help Care for Real’s goals of providing loving support for our neighbors and acting as a safety net for the entire Edgewater community.
Donations to our Lenten Almoner’s Program can be made via GiveCentral online HERE or placed in the collection box near the check-in table when attending Mass. Please be as generous as you can!