From the Deacon’s Desk
1st Sunday of Lent - February 21, 2021
At the beginning of Lent I thought I would share some insight on the cycle of weekday readings used during Lent. Reading the weekday readings and following along with reflections at daily Mass, from the USCCB website ( https://bible.usccb.org/ ), from Bishop Barron’s Daily Gospel Reflections (https://dailycatholicgospel.com/sign-up-daily-gospel ), or some other reflection on the daily readings would be a great form of Lenten prayer for all of us. In the cycle of weekday readings, Lent falls into two parts. The first part runs from Ash Wednesday through Saturday of Week 3. In these three and a half weeks, the Gospel texts are taken from the Synoptics and the Old Testament readings are chosen accordingly. The message running throughout these readings is a call to a life of Gospel conversion. The pericopes speak of beginning anew, of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving; of conversion; of mutual forgiveness; of hardness of heart; of love of enemies; of absolute claims of justice and love over ritual and cult; of the call to holiness, and so forth. The weekday readings of the second half of Lent, are taken from the Gospel of John, beginning on the Monday of the fourth week of Lent at John 4:43 and going through, omitting passages read on Sundays and during Easter, to chapter 13. It is clear that these readings from John do not constitute a kind of ‘crash course’ in the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, of whom John says that all who believe in him will have eternal life. Christ is presented as the healer and life-giver, as the one who gives life through his confrontation with death and gathers into one the scattered children of God. (ORDO 2021, Lent) My From the Deacon Desk columns with active links that will take you directly to the resources noted above, can be found on our parish website here https://www.ssppcc.org/from-the-deacon-s-desk
2nd Sunday in Ordinary time - January 17, 2021
Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I came across an excerpt from a homily of Pope Francis that I thought was a great reminder for all of us, here it is. “Jesus did not need to be baptized, but the first theologians say that, with His body, with His divinity, in the Baptism He blessed all the waters, so that water would have the power to give baptism. And then, before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told us to go into all the world to baptize. And from that day until the present day, this has been an unbroken chain: they baptized their children, and their children [baptized] their children, and their children… And so goes the chain of faith! What does this mean? I would just tell you this: you are the ones that transmit the faith, the transmitters, you have a duty to pass on the faith to these children. It’s the most beautiful legacy that you leave to them: the faith! Only this. Today, take this thought home with you. We must be transmitters of the faith. Think about this, always think of how to transmit the faith to the children.” (Pope Francis, Homily at the Solemn Mass for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 12, 2014) We are the first teachers of our children, they will do what we do. What are you teaching your children and grandchildren?
4th Sunday of Advent - December 20, 2020
Advent blessings and an early Merry Christmas to all of you from Dawn and I, may your Christmas season be filled with many blessings (liturgically the season is December 25 through January 10, Feast of Baptism of the Lord). Several important new things to cover here. First, the virtual Christmas book reading sponsored by our Youth Faith Formation program continues this week, you can view the recordings of the readings here https://www.facebook.com/sppyouthministry . Second, In an effort to facilitate communication and share the Good News of the Gospel more effectively across the diocese, Bishop McGovern has created 3 social media channels, here they are: www.facebook.com/BishopMichaelMcGovern , https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXgMqXBYlM4r0_AbDQH2_8A , and www.instagram.com/bishopmichaelmcgovern/ . Third, on December 8, Pope Francis proclaimed the start of a “Year of Saint Joseph”, here’s the announcement https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-12/pope-francis-proclaims-year-of-st-joseph.html . This is a wonderful well deserved honor for a Saint that fathers, husbands, and all men should emulate, I’ll be sharing more about this during this Year of St. Joseph. And lastly, on December 26 we celebrate the Feast of St. Stephen, one of the 7 Deacons mentioned in Acts of the Apostles and the first disciple to be martyred, the protomartyr. This is a special feast for me because it was at Mass on December 26 many years ago that, after listening to Fr. Paul Wightman’s homily, Dawn and I decided that it was time for me to apply to enter into Deacon Formation in our diocese, the rest is history.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - November 2020
Hopefully you have noticed the contact information in the bulletin and on our parish website about Project Rachel. So what is Project Rachel? It is a ministry of the Catholic Church in the U.S. to those who have been involved in abortion. It is a diocesan-based network of specially trained priests, religious, counselors, and laypersons who provide a team response of care for those suffering in the aftermath of abortion. It was made available in our diocese this year. Abortion is a life-changing event that affects individuals emotionally, spiritually and physically. Society doesn’t provide a public way to grieve this loss and with no way to process this loss, the wound caused by abortion often remains unhealed. Many women and men are surprised at the emotions they experience after abortion. Project Rachel is a program to help women and men with these challenges. It is most important for them to know that they are not alone! Additional information can be found here https://www.diobelle.org/respectlife/project-rachel. If you know anyone in need of help, please have them contact our diocese Project Rachel office.
This week we celebrate 3 great female Saints. On Monday St. Margaret of Scotland, after her marriage to King Malcolm III around 1070, she used her influence as queen in the name of the Catholic faith. She built several churches, she cared for pilgrims and the poor, and she dedicated the rest of her life to the cause of religion and piety. She died in 1093, and is the patron saint of death of children. On Tuesday St. Elizabeth of Hungary, she was a 13th century princess who married Ludwig, the duke of Thuringia. She was very generous, donating many of the couple’s possessions to the poor. After Ludwig’s death, St. Elizabeth joined the Third Order of St. Francis and she started a home for the poor, dying, and infirmed, whom she personally tended. On Wednesday St. Rose Philippine Duchesne who has connections to St. Charles and Florissant Missouri. She died in 1852 in St. Charles Missouri. She founded the first American house of the Religious of the Sacred Heart and opened the first American free school west of the Mississippi. She was known for her courage and desire to serve Native American especially the Patawatomi who called her the “woman who prays always.”
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 18, 2020
One last plug before the elections for the USCCB document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” to help you in making your voting choices, it can be found here https://www.usccb.org/offices/justice-peace-human-development/forming-consciences-faithful-citizenship . Another aspect of making your voting choices is to understand Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and factoring CST into your decision making process. According to USCCB, “CST is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity.” So that is all people, people of all races, all genders, all ages, all faiths, all countries of origin, all abilities or disabilities, etc. More information on CST can be found here https://www.usccb.org/offices/justice-peace-human-development/catholic-social-teaching . And most importantly, please vote on or before November 3. My From the Deacon Desk columns with active links that will take you directly to the resources noted above, can be found on our parish website here https://www.ssppcc.org/from-the-deacon-s-desk .
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - September 20, 2020
The election is just around the corner and once again the USCCB has provided us with the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, with a New Introductory Letter. Now don’t get too excited, it does not tell you who to vote for. The document states: “We bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth”. So while this document is not going to tell you who to vote for, it will give you some tools, some things to think about, and some guidance from our Bishops, to help form your conscience and make those decisions. The USCCB has also created a campaign for civil dialogue called Civilize It to help us model civil dialogue in our families, workplaces, schools, and communities. It’s an opportunity for Catholics and people of good will to commit to honoring the human dignity of those to whom we find ourselves listening through civility, compassion, and clarity. The forming consciences document and reference materials as well as links to the Civilize It resources, reflections, and prayers are all available here https://www.usccb.org/offices/justice-peace-human-development/forming-consciences-faithful-citizenship . We all have the responsibility to form our consciences, to avail ourselves of the resources available, and maybe even pray for guidance, and decide who each of us thinks would best serve us. Please do that and please vote on or before November 3.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 16, 2021
This one was originally prepared to go in the July 19 bulletin but that was when we closed for 2 weeks and suspended bulletin publishing, I think it is still important and relevant so here you go - Bishop Braxton ordained 3 new priests to our diocese on July 11 at the Cathedral in Belleville; sadly Fr. Roger Karban passed on July 10 and Msgr. Ken Schaeffer passed on July 11. Interesting that as we celebrate the joy of those ordinations, we mourn the loss of 2 priests who will be missed dearly. The newly ordained priests Fr. Joel Seipp is assigned to St. Mary in Mt. Vernon, Fr. Carl Schrage is assigned to the Cathedral, and Fr. Nicholas Fleming is assigned to Immaculate Conception in Columbia; they will also serve the parishes in the respective partnerships. Please keep them and all of the priest in our diocese in your prayers and continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood.
In my homily last weekend (i.e. July 11/12) I mentioned I mentioned the good news, at least I thought it was, about the Supreme Court decisions the last 2 weeks on the cases that where the Supreme Court sided with the position of the Catholic Church on 3 out of the 4 cases. No room to capture the details here but USCCB press releases can be found here http://usccb.org/news/index.cfm . It is stories like these and some of the others I mentioned in my homily that give me hope during these challenging times. Remember what Cardinal Cupich said “ … we are always called to be beacons of hope in the world.” And check out the sign in front of the See More Inn on the north side of town – Hope is stronger than fear!
Finally, you may have heard that Pope Francis instituted a new commission to study women Deacons, the commission includes 2 Deacons from the US. I’ve read several articles and listened to a few podcasts about this. Here’s a link to a Vatican press release and an OSV news article regarding this https://www.osvnews.com/2020/04/08/pope-sets-up-new-commission-to-study-women-deacons/ and https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-04/pope-commission-women-deacons.html . I’ll hope to share more on this in the coming months. All of my From the Deacon Desk columns with active links that will take you directly to the resources noted above, can be found on our parish website here https://www.ssppcc.org/from-the-deacon-s-desk .
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time - June 21, 2021
While we are away on a family vacation, Dawn and I have been participating in our live stream Masses. It was great to see everyone back in church at Masses last weekend, I look forward to getting back to celebrate the Eucharist with you. Thanks for your patience with this process and a HUGE thank you to all the volunteers who are making it possible for us to gather together again to celebrate out liturgies. It takes a lot of volunteers for us to safely gather in church for liturgies; it probably takes more volunteers to set up, greet, and clean up for each weekend Mass than our normal volunteer liturgical ministers. Also, many volunteers in our parish are in the higher risk population that are prevented by diocese guidelines from volunteering to set up, greet, or clean up. And in addition to the 3 weekend Masses, the set up, greeting, and clean up also has to be done for daily weekday Masses, adoration, weddings, funerals, etc. So we need lots of new volunteers to continue to make it possible for us to gather in church for liturgies. I reiterate Fr. Osang’s plea to please volunteer to set up, greet, or clean up so we can continue to gather in church and not burn out those who have already volunteered. On June 24 we celebrate the Solemnity of The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. We recognize St. John the Baptist as surpassing all the other prophets. For through St. John, the Holy Spirit completed his work of making a people ready for God’s Son. Also, St. John abundantly welcomed Christ into the world; he leaped for joy in his mother’s womb, foreshadowed Christ’s coming in his preaching, baptized and bore witness to Jesus in the Jordan, and gave his life in holy martyrdom. We celebrate St. John the Baptist’s birth as the threshold opening to the hope and joy present in Christ’s coming.
6th Sunday of Easter - May 17, 2020
I was hoping and praying that by now we would be able to physically gather together as Church, that’s us, the people of God, we are the Church. As we now know, that may take a while; I heard that we should think of the return to normal as a dial that you turn to gradually return to normal, and not like a switch that you simply turn on and return to normal instantly, good analogy. As we continue this journey, I’d like to once again share with you some updates and resources that you might find helpful. On May 1 the U.S. bishops joined the Canadian Bishops in renewing the consecration of the two nations to the care of our Blessed Mother. More info is here http://usccb.org/news/2020/20-65.cfm . Through a collective dedication or entrustment of a nation to Mary, an act of consecration is meant to be a reminder to the faithful of the Blessed Mother’s witness to the Gospel and to ask for her effective intercession before her Son on behalf of those in need. Bishop Braxton prayed in the Cathedral of St. Peter in which he reconsecrated the Diocese of Belleville to Mary, here’s a link to a video of that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyGcfFxTs8U . In the month of May when we would normally gather to pray the rosary as a community, I would encourage you to continue to pray the Rosary regularly. Here’s a resource I recently saw advertised that might help: ‘Rediscover the Rosary’ by Matthew Kelly, https://dynamiccatholic.com/rediscover-the-rosary-hardcover . And lastly, a new book titled ‘Catholicism in the time of Coronavirus’ was just released through Word On Fire. This is what got my attention in an intro by Bishop Barron: “The Church finds itself once again in rough waters. … Our hope is in Jesus Christ … If we look around at the waves, we will sink. But if we keep our eyes fixed on him, we will walk on the water.” I have started reading, it’s only 107 pages, I’m about 1/3 of the way thru it as I write this, so far so good. Download your FREE eBook here: https://www.wordonfire.org/covid/ . Remember, all of my From the Deacon Desk columns with active links that will take you directly to the resources noted above, can be found on our parish website here https://www.ssppcc.org/from-the-deacon-s-desk . If I can be of any assistance to you during this pandemic, or anytime, please contact me at the parish office (618.939.6326 ext. 26) or email me [email protected] .
2nd Sunday of Easter, Sunday of Divine Mercy - April 19, 2020
As I write this on Easter Sunday, it is cool, cloudy, and mysteriously quiet. On a day when our house, like many of yours, would have been full of family and friends, Dawn and I prepared our usual whole ham but instead of joining with our family and friends in lively conversation around the dinner table, we delivered meals to our family members and then Dawn and I enjoyed a nice quiet Easter dinner alone. This quiet Easter has given me some time to reflect on the past few weeks, especially Holy Week, the Triduum, and Easter. First, thanks to all who made it possible for all of us to participate in the live streaming of our Masses and Liturgies, the church looked great and the slideshows, Masses, and Liturgies were beautiful. While I was so glad to be able to participate remotely, I was saddened by seeing the empty pews and the unlit devotional candles. I am quite anxious to be with you all again and look at full pews and celebrate our liturgies together in person.
I’m sure we all have had moments in the past few weeks that have moved us. For me, one of those moments was when on March 27, when Pope Francis celebrated the Statio orbis in St. Peters Square, during which the Holy Father granted to all participants the Plenary Indulgence and imparted the Urbi et Orbi Blessing. Watching the YouTube video of Pope Francis walking up those steps to the podium, in the rain, in an empty St. Peters Square, really moved me. After being in a jam packed St. Peters Square in 2016 for the Jubilee for Deacons Mass with Pope Francis, and walking up those same steps that Pope Francis walked up, and sitting less than 100 feet from Pope Francis at that very podium from which he gave the blessing, sort of took my breath away. You can watch a good narrated version of that Statio orbis here https://youtu.be/JcUqLrbi9Cg .
If you participated in our Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, you heard Fr. Eva proclaim the Exsultet at the beginning of the Liturgy. That was the first time in a while I’ve been on the listening end, rather than the proclaiming end, of the Exsultet and it prompted me to share some additional insight on this wonderful prayer with you. When the Paschal Candle is placed in its prominent candle stand in the church then the Easter Proclamation – also known as the Exsultet, is proclaimed. The Exsultet is proclaimed to praise and thank God for what the light represents: God’s saving activity throughout human history, culminating in Christ’s defeat of death and resurrection from the dead. A very good and more complete insight on the Exsultet can be found here http://usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/easter/commentary-on-easter-proclamation-exsultet.cfm and this link will take you to the Exsultet hymn if you want to reflect on the words of the hymn http://usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/easter/easter-proclamation-exsultet.cfm .
And lastly, I wanted to share with you something that Bishop Braxton recently shared. Some of you are familiar with the Passion Play that is performed in Oberammergau Germany. This play has been performed about every 10 years since 1634 in thanksgiving by those who felt God had spared the village from a deadly plague in 1633! Now, this profound religious tradition has been canceled by the modern day plague, the COVID 19 disease, here’s a link to a very interesting NY Times article regarding this https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/world/europe/germany-oberammergau-passion-play-coronavirus.html .
This and all of my From the Deacon Desk columns with active links that will take you directly to the resources noted above, can be found on our parish website here https://www.ssppcc.org/from-the-deacon-s-desk .
3rd Sunday of Lent - March 15, 2020
I recently saw an email from USCCB with this subject – “New Catechisms of the Catholic Church (CCC) are Here!” It surprised me to hear of a new Catechism, so I set out to figure out what was new about the Catechism and thought you might be interested in what I learned, here it is. In 2018 a revision to CCC 2267 was issued which, in short, made capital punishment inadmissible (I was aware of this but didn’t realize that an entirely new book would be issued). These excerpts highlight the difference. Previous CCC 2267 - “Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor…” New CCC 2267 - “… Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.” To me, the change seems to be more consistent with our fundamental belief in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. According the USCCB website, there are a few other minor additions, it also has been enhanced by the addition of more than 100 pages that feature the following: An analytical index translated from the Latin text and a glossary of terms.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 16, 2020
On Friday we celebrate the Memorial of St. Peter Damien, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. He was born to a poor family in central Italy in 1007, became a professor, joined a Benedictine hermitage eventually becoming its prior, was consecrated a Bishop, and in 1823, Pope Leo XII declared him a Doctor of the Church. On the ACTS retreat last week (BTW, I highly recommend all men and women of the parish attend an ACTS retreat) I learned a bit about St. Bernard of Clairvaux, another Doctor of the Church. This led me to wonder about Doctors of the Church, here’s the Readers Digest version of what I learned. The selection process to become a Doctor of the Church is rigorous. Both the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith get involved: not easy crowds to please. Few Saints measure up – 36 at the last count – but those who do represent a who’s who of the best and brightest. According to USCCB, these Saints are probably best thought of as doctors in the PhD sense of the word. Through their research, study, and writing, they have advanced the Church’s knowledge of our faith. To be declared a Doctor of the Church does not imply that all their writings are free from error but rather that the whole body of their work, taken together, serves to advance the cause of Christ and his Church. On Saturday we celebrate the Feast - Chair of St. Peter, this celebration commemorates the years St. Peter served as the bishop of Rome. As Pope John Paul II explained, “It sheds light on the special ministry of strengthening and guiding the Church in the unity of the faith which the Lord entrusted to the Head of the Apostles.”
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - January 19, 2020
We’re in Ordinary time for the next several weeks, until Ash Wednesday on February 26, make it anything but ordinary “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” (St. Mother Teresa). Piggybacking on what Fr. Osang had in his From the Pastor column in last weeks bulletin regarding Last Sundays Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, here’s a great reminder for all of us excerpted from Divine Office - “In Baptism, we are brought to Christ and united to the mystery of His death and Resurrection. In this effective sign of our purified life and heart, we acknowledge the Messianic identity of Jesus Christ and celebrate His reign. May our baptized lives, nurtured by the Sacraments, testify to those in darkness and confirm the truth of Jesus’ identity, just as the Holy Spirit did in the Jordan. … before ascending to Heaven, Jesus told us to go into all the world to baptize. And from that day until the present day, this has been an unbroken chain: they baptized their children, and their children [baptized] their children, and their children… And so goes the chain of faith! What does this mean? I would just tell you this: you are the ones that transmit the faith, the transmitters, you have a duty to pass on the faith to these children. It’s the most beautiful legacy that you leave to them: the faith! Only this. Today, take this thought home with you. We must be transmitters of the faith. Think about this, always think of how to transmit the faith to the children.”
3rd Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday - December 15, 2019
In my homily a few weeks ago I told the story of St. Dismas and many of you asked about him and had not previously heard of him. There is not much known or written about St. Dismas but according to Catholic Exchange (an independent religious non-profit, part of Sophia Institute Press), all that we know with any authority about St. Dismas is what we have from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Tradition tells us that he was one of two thieves who was crucified next to Jesus on Good Friday. St. Dismas is also known as the penitent thief or the good thief. When I was growing up in St. Louis, there was a St. Dismas parish in Florissant. That parish is now St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, which was formed through the merger of Our Lady of Fatima, St. Dismas and St. Thomas Apostle in 2005. There is a Dismas House of St. Louis that was founded in 1959 by a Jesuit Priest, Father Charles “Dismas” Clark. It is a Halfway House for ex-convicts and the name was derived from the thief, St. Dismas, who died on the cross at the time of the Crucifixion of Christ.
This is Gaudete Sunday (that’s why the rose colored vestments), the midpoint of our Advent journey, “…sets a tone of joyful expectation for the Lord’s birth and Second Coming.” It is a good time for all of us to reflect on how our Advent preparations for this are progressing. This “…time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ Second Coming at the end of time.” (quotes from Ordo) So if you feel as though you could be doing better, do it. If you need some suggestions or need any help, let me know [email protected] or 618.939.6426 ext. 26.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - November 17, 2019
As I write this on November 12, the Bishops from around the country are meeting at the USCCB fall assembly in Baltimore. During the assembly, the US bishops will: vote on several new/updated documents; establish Revised Strategic Priorities for the 2021-2024 Strategic Plan; elect the new Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services; hear an update on progress toward establishing a nationwide, third-party reporting system for abuse or misconduct by bishops; elect a new president, vice president, and new chairmen of six committees. I’ll highlight results in coming months. At the same time Bishops of the US are making their ad limina visits to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis. The Bishops visit in groups, last week a group from NY visited, prior to that other Bishops from the northeast visited, in December Bishop Braxton and other Bishops from the Midwest will visit. During his visit in early November, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, noted how their prayer at the tomb of St. Peter and the earlier celebration at the tomb of St. Paul form “the very essence” of the pilgrimage bishops are required to make regularly to Rome to strengthen their faith and their bond with the pope and to report on the status of their dioceses. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Take some time to reflect and give thanks for the gifts that God has given you and how you can use those gifts to better serve our parish and the Catholic Church and pray for those who are less fortunate. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the 1st Sunday Advent and the beginning of the new liturgical year (Year A Sunday cycle of readings) and we begin using our new hymnals. It will take some time to adjust to using the hymnals so please be patient as we adjust and feel free to ask questions.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 20, 2019
In my homily a couple weeks ago I mentioned the 6 short little stories, or really short statements, that were little reminders to me of what it is to have faith; and also, hope, love, and some of those other truths in life that we sometimes tend to forget about. Many of you asked me for those so I have posted them here https://www.ssppcc.org/from-the-deacon-s-desk
Last Sunday morning we celebrated the Rite of Candidacy at the Cathedral for the 16 men from our diocese who are in formation to be ordained Permanent Deacons, including Dave Miskell from our parish (see picture). Candidacy is a rite in the Church that all people aspiring to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders receive before ordination; in this case about 4 years before ordination anticipated to be in 2023 for these men. The Rite of Candidacy is the Church accepting a person to continue on to receive Holy Orders. It’s the church saying “this person has the qualities we are looking for to become a deacon/priest” and it means they have confidence in us. During the Rite, the Bishop Braxton asked the men – “Beloved sons, the pastors and teachers in charge of your formation, and others who know you, have given a favorable account of you, and we have full confidence in their testimony. In response to the Lord’s call, do you resolve to complete your preparation so that in due time through Holy Orders you will be prepared to assume ministry within the Church? Do you resolve to prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his Body, the Church?” And the men reply I do! When you see Dave and Michelle Miskell please thank them for accepting this call to the diaconate.
Homily Excerpt - 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 6, 2019
...….. Here are 6 little stories that were posted on Facebook last week. These short little stories, or really short statements, were little reminders to me of what it is to have faith; and also, hope, love, and some of those other truths in life that we sometimes tend to forget about. Here are those 6 little stories.
So if you need to be reassured of your faith, or your hope, your love, your trust, remember these 6 little stories and maybe you’ll be reminded that you do indeed have them because of what you see, or what you do, or what you encourage others to do. We set alarms, we make plans, we encourage marriage and having children, we laugh when those babies laugh when they are thrown in the air and their daddy catches them.
25th Sunday Ordinary Time - September 22, 2019
Ever wonder who the Saints and martyrs Cornelius and Cyprian (Memorial was September 16) are other than they are two of several mentioned in that long list of saints in Eucharistic Prayer I? Or what the September 14 Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is? They are all kind of closely related in that they were popularized over a 77 year span in the 3rd and 4th centuries. September 14 we honor the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and Jesus’ triumph upon it. I know we frequently pray the Prayer of St. Michael, and I know that the devil is present and at work in our society, but this Feast should remind us that, as I heard a pries say at a recent conference, WE WON! Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross was victory over evil and we should not lose sight of that. In that Feast, we are reminded of God’s plan of Salvation and His work to raise up humankind through the saving power of Jesus Christ. In Christ on the Cross, sin is overcome and we are offered a new life, with Christ at the center. According to a traditional account, the relics of the holy cross were discovered by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, in 326 when she was on a pilgrimage in Jerusalem. The relics were captured by Persians but later returned in 628 and now reside at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Saint Cornelius was ordained bishop of the Church of Rome in 251. He fought against the Novatian schismatics and with the help of Cyprian was able to enforce his authority. Saint Cyprian was born of pagan parents in Carthage around the year 210. He was converted, ordained, and subsequently made bishop of that city in the year 249. By his writings and his actions Cyprian guided the Church through difficult times.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 18, 2019
Bishop Braxton turned 75 this year and many have asked about, and I have heard lots of rumors about Bishop Braxton’s retirement, or maybe I should say alleged retirement. Here’s what Canon Law says about a situation like this. “A diocesan bishop who has completed the seventy-fifth year of age is requested to present his resignation from office to the Supreme Pontiff, who will make provision after he has examined all the circumstances.” (Can. 401 §1.) So this means Bishop Braxton is waiting for the Holy See (i.e. Pope Francis, Vatican, etc.) to provide direction on what happens next, when, who, where, etc. I was in a meeting with Bishop Braxton last week planning his calendar for 2019/2020 (e.g. Confirmations, special Masses, school visits, etc.) and the Bishop confirmed that this is the case and that when he receives word/direction from the Holy See, the people of the diocese will also be informed. In the meantime, it is business as usual in the diocese and with Bishop Braxton. It was good to see such a great turn out last Sunday to wish Fr. Sebastian farewell, welcome Fr. Evaristus, and thank Angela Atkinson for her years of service to our PSR program. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make that wonderful event possible. As one long time parishioner put it to me in a text message last Sunday evening – “That party today deacon was the most heartwarming from 3 years old to 90 years old that I've ever participated in my 75 years St Peter and Paul you know how to do it thank everybody you can.” Kudos to all who made it possible and best wishes to Fathers and Angela in the future endeavors.
16th Sunday Ordinary Time - July 21, 2019
Lots of Feasts and Memorials this coming week – St. Mary Magdalene, St. Bridget, St. Sharbel Makhluf, St. James, and Sts. Joachim & Anne. Not enough space to cover all of them here but I will highlight two of them: St. Mary Magdalene – disciple of Jesus, present at crucifixion, first to witness the risen Lord (hence called apostle of the Apostles), and it is almost universally agreed today that her being identified as the sinful woman is unfounded; and, St. Makhluf – born in 1828 in Lebanon, monk of the Maronite Rite, ordained a priest in 1859, spent last 23 years of his life as a hermit, taught the value of poverty self-sacrifice and prayer by the life he lived, possessed the gift of performing miracles, canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1977. By way of update on the evil of sexual abuse that has occurred in the Church and steps toward prevention: 1) in May Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio - Vos estis lux mundi (You are the light of the world) containing new laws to be followed in the Catholic Church around the world; 2) at the June meeting of the USCCB, the Bishops of the US voted on several proposals to hold Bishops accountable for investigating instances of sexual abuse and committed to involving and utilizing lay professional experts in the process to avoid ‘bishops policing bishops’. The combination of lay involvement, Metropolitan leadership, and review/judgement of the Holy See will ensure that all complaints are evaluated thoroughly, and justice is achieved for victims and survivors. The USCCB also established New Resource Highlighting Steps to Confront Clergy Sex Abuse https://preventionusccb.org/ , a new website that reinforces the importance of prevention, protection and accountability in response to the ongoing work to eradicate clergy sexual abuse. There are links on that website to the Motu Proprio, the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, FAQs, and other resources. This and all my more recent From The Deacons Desk articles with the active hyperlinks can be found on our parish website here http://www.ssppcc.org/from-the-deacon-s-desk
Most Holy Trinity - June 2019
Happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers out there. This Father’s Day is kind of special for me, I have the privilege of Baptizing our first grandchild today. Almost three years ago, I witnessed our son Nick’s marriage to our daughter-in-law Margaret and now I will Baptize their first child Harrison. Marriages and Baptisms are two of the greatest joys of my Diaconal ministry – when they are for your children and grandchildren, it is even more special. God is good! Today is the Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity, Most of us probably think of the Trinity just like we have the Trinity portrayed in our Sanctuary: Old guy, Bird, Young guy (in our case the crucified young guy). It is natural for us to think of the Trinity this way – it is human. We have a difficult time grasping the concept of a Trinity that is 3 in 1 because we want to think of 3 persons, 3 minds, 3 bodies, etc.; we cannot grasp that in the case of the Trinity, the 3 are 1 – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the divine essence. Here’s a way that helps me - think of the Trinity as the Lover (God), the Beloved (Jesus), and the love between the Lover and Beloved (Holy Spirit). (excerpt from my refection the day after my ordination in 2013) Don’t forget to join us after 10 a.m. Mass next Sunday June 23 for our first ever (or at least first in a long time) Eucharistic Procession in celebration of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (aka Corpus Christi). Then join us again on the following Sunday June 30 for a tour of our church. This past week on June 13 we celebrated the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, do you know where his statue is? Come to our church tour and you’ll find out this and much more.
5th Sunday of Easter - May 19, 2019
Hot topics this month: Pope Francis issues rules regarding abuse, abortion legislation in Illinois, and new appointment for Deacon Tom. From the St. Louis Review (https://www.archstl.org/vatican-issues-universal-norms-for-reports-of-abuse-of-minors-seminarians-and-religious-3995 ) – “Pope Francis has revised and clarified norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable in protecting minors as well as in protecting members of religious orders and seminarians from abuse. The new juridical instrument is meant to help bishops and religious leaders around the world clearly understand their duties and church law, underlining how they are ultimately responsible for proper governance and protecting those entrusted to their care. For this reason, the new document establishes a clearer set of universal procedures for reporting suspected abuse, carrying out initial investigations and protecting victims and whistleblowers. The new document, given “motu proprio,” on the pope’s own initiative, was titled “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), based on a verse from the Gospel of St. Matthew (5:14).” Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter issued “motu proprio” can be found here http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/motu_proprio/documents/papa-francesco-motu-proprio-20190507_vos-estis-lux-mundi.html . Regarding pending abortion legislation in Illinois, don’t forget to join our panel discussion Sunday May 19 after 10 a.m. Mass, see today’s bulletin for details. On May 10, Bishop Braxton appointed me Director of the Permanent Diaconate for our diocese. Don’t worry, my other appointments, including my assignment as a Deacon to our parish remains the same. This new appointment is in addition to my other appointments, not in place of them. This and all my more recent From The Deacons Desk articles with the active hyperlinks can be found on our parish website here http://www.ssppcc.org/from-the-deacon-s-desk .
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord - April 21, 2019
From the Deacon’s Desk……………..
Easter blessings to all of you. We now begin our celebration, with joy and exultation, of the Easter Season, the fifty days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost (June 9). Fifty days of dwelling in the paschal mystery, surrendering in joyful faith and love as the Spirit of God takes possession of our lives. An invitation to awaken our memory of God’s presence and power in our lives. (paraphrased from the Ordo).
Much in the news about abortion but not about the new movie Unplanned. Lots of chatter on social media about Unplanned, I saw it and I recommend you do too (good blog on it here https://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2019/04/unplanned-becomes-the-latest-battleground-in-the-culture-wars/ ). On the political front, states seem to be trying to outdo the other in terms of legislation regarding abortion. On one extreme there are states like New York that now allows full-term abortions and on the other extreme there are states like Missouri where lawmakers have proposed bills to further limit or almost completely ban abortions including a constitutional amendment to define life as beginning at conception (what we Catholics believe see CCC 2270 - 2274). In Illinois our lawmakers are proposing legislation that our Bishops are asking us to take a stand against: Senate and House bills (S.B. 1942 and 1594 and H.B. 2495 and 2467) which would expand abortion rights and increase abortions. In the text of S.B. 1942 are clauses that “(provide) that a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this state” and clauses that “repeal the Abortion Performance Refusal Act,” current law allows physicians to opt-out of providing abortions provided they have moral objections. For more information see https://www.osvnews.com/2019/03/29/bishops-condemn-bills-to-expand-abortion-repeal-conscience-protection/ and https://www.diobelle.org/our-bishop/news/1334-bishop-braxton-s-letter-on-the-catholic-church-and-new-house-bills-expanding-abortion-rights-2 . For how to contact our lawmakers and voice your opposition, go to the Catholic Conference of Illinois website https://www.ilcatholic.org/ . We are planning to host a panel discussion regarding these Illinois bills after the Masses on May 19, keep an eye out for announcements and bulletins notices and plan to attend.
March 17, 2019
From the Deacon’s Desk……………..
Thanks to all of you who shared with me, Dawn, and our family, your condolences, thoughts, prayers, sympathy cards, and your presence at the visitation and funeral Mass for my father; we are truly blessed to have all of you in our lives and have your support at that time of loss. We were blessed to have dad in our lives for almost 96 years and are comforted by our hope in eternal life and that – now he knows. On this second Sunday of Lent, I would also encourage you as a part of your Lenten prayer to read and reflect on the weekday readings (they are listed in the bulletin every week). Paraphrasing from the ORDO - In the cycle of weekday readings, Lent falls into two parts, the first part, runs through Saturday of the 3rd week of Lent. In these 3-1/2 weeks, the Gospel texts are taken from the Synoptics and the Old Testament readings are chosen accordingly. The message running throughout these 3-1/2 weeks is a call to a life of Gospel conversion. The pericopes speak of beginning anew, of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving; of conversion; of mutual forgiveness; of hardness of heart; of love of enemies; of absolute claims of justice and love over ritual and cult; of the call to holiness, and so forth. The readings from the second half of Lent are taken from the Gospel of John. It is clear that these readings from John do not constitute a kind of “crash course’ in the life e of Jesus, so much as a presentation of the mystery of Jesus Christ, of whom John says that all who believe in him will have eternal life.
February 17, 2019
Dawn and I were away on vacation in January so this is the first From the Deacon’s Desk since December 16, so lots to cover here. On Dec. 19 Fr. Osang, Fr. Sebastian and I hosted our Clergy Abuse Crisis Listening Session, it was very insightful to hear the perspectives of the half dozen or so parishioners who attended, thank you for your participation. Here are a few recent updates regarding this. Bishops from across the United States attended a spiritual retreat January 2 to 8 to pause in prayer as the Church seeks to respond to the signs of the times. There were two events in Washington: a lawyers' panel at the Catholic Information Center, sponsored by the Thomas More Society Jan. 31; and, the Leadership Roundtable's Catholic Partnership Summit Feb. 1 - 2. The summit, which included bishops, cardinals, university and college presidents and canon lawyers representing 43 dioceses, is expected to issue a document with recommendations in a couple of weeks. Pope Francis convenes the Presidents of all the Episcopal Conferences of the world for a meeting in Rome Feb. 21 – 24 to discuss the prevention of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. Regarding this meeting, Pope Francis recently stated “First: they must become conscious of this. Second: they must know what they must do — the procedure, because often the Bishop doesn’t know what to do. … What must the Bishop do, what must the Archbishop do, who is the Metropolitan, what must the President of the Episcopal Conference do. But so that it is clear, … protocols that are clear. This is the main <thing>. … I permit myself to say that I have perceived a bit an inflated expectation.” (Full text here https://zenit.org/articles/holy-fathers-in-flight-discussion-with-reporters-full-text/ ) Please pray for these Bishops as they gather this week, and all those affected by clergy abuse. As we heard today in our first reading from Jeremiah, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord.” Have hope and be faithful.
Changing gears a bit, Bishop Braxton has authored many documents. One of the most recent is - The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: What if he were still alive today? It can be found here https://www.diobelle.org/our-bishop/writings or I can provide you a copy. I suggest that you take the time to read this document. Once you have, I would be interested in what you think about it. Please let me know via email [email protected] or I’d be happy to discuss it with you over the phone 618.939.6426 ext. 26 or in person.