Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Advent Speaker Series 2017

Come to the Advent Speaker Series starting on Wednesday, December 3, 2017 and on every Wednesday night through Advent as together we “Prepare the Manger.” Break away from the Commercialism of Christmas to focus on the important of the season that we see in the humble manger scene. Every household will receive piece of a creche / manger set that they can keep in their home.  (more…)

Annual Report 2017

The Season of Stewardship began this past Sunday with witnesses from parishioners given at each Mass and the publication of our annual report which includes an invitation to pray and reflect upon the gifts each individual has been given in Time, Talent, and Treasure. This week we are asked to prayerfully consider how we can respond to those gifts by making a return.  (more…)

Tis the Season

From now through November 19, 2017 we are inviting every parishioner to join us in a prayerful and thorough look at the gifts of time, talent, and treasure that we enjoy. In turn, we look to how we can better respond to God for the gifts that he has given us by making a return to God with those gifts. Join us in learning more about our role as stewards and committing to the practice of stewardship as disciples of Jesus.

(more…)

Holy Days of Obligation

Please join us for Mass on All Saints Day, Wednesday, November 1 at 9:00am or 7pm in the main church for the Holy Day of Obligation

We will also have a memorial Mass for all who have died on the Feast of All Souls, Thursday, November 2 at 7pm in the main church.

More than the Minimum – All Saints Day

More than the Minimum

The father of a friend of mine was notorious for saying “All you have to do in life is stay awake, pay taxes and die.” It was a drab and dully honest way of looking at life. I think embedded in his pessimistic proverb was his way of seeing the wondrous potential of life by taking an acute jab at life’s minimal expectations. At least I hope so.

Quite honestly, I find myself crossing sides of his perspective frequently. Sometimes I see how great life is and I want to expand my thinking into a universe with endless creative possibility. Other times I just want to get by with the minimum and get done what I need to get done. The celebration of my birthday is one such example. Sometimes I embrace fully the coming of another year of life and at other times I just want to get it over with. Sometimes it is a full party with dozens of friends and other times it is the more subdued pleasure of just knowing my birthday passed by spending it working, doing what I love.

It certainly is a tendency for human persons to at least identify the minimum expectation that we have to do in order to get what we want. For me, it is not one of our better attributes. I mean, can you imagine someone who would intentionally do the very least they had to do in order to qualify to be your friend? Would they actually be your friend? Well, I guess technically yes, but it isn’t keeping with the spirit of what friendship should be.

What are your “minimum expectations?” What do you put in the blank of your “All-you-have-to-do-in-life-is ___________.” statements? Whether you are on the up side or the down side, what are the obligations you keep in order to define you?

The Church has some answers to that fill-in-the-blank question, though it only does so with tepid caution. The Church well knows that minimum expectations don’t establish the spirit of a loving friendship with God for which we are truly created.
In the coming week, one of the Church’s all-you-have-to-do moments is found in our liturgical calendar, a “Holy Day of Obligation.” These are celebrations which are a lot like birthdays. They mark our calendar as important moments which we must celebrate, at least in a minimal way. The Church teaches that the minimum way is to attend to Mass.

This Wednesday, November 1 is the feast of All Saints and while history may have demonstrated that not everyone has attended Mass on that day, it is our constant reminder that we should. Why? What is so important?

For me, these are odd questions to ask. I mean, why would you choose to go to Mass on Christmas? After all, it is simply a feast day named by the Church just like All Saints Day, just like the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15), The Solemnity of Mary (January 1), and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8). All of these dates are given equal weight and importance in the teaching of the Church. To treat them as an obligation is correct, but how we treat the idea of an obligation is up to us.

We can check obligations off the box just to get done with them. We can ignore them and say they don’t matter (like the stubborn protestation of someone denying their age every year on their birthday). We can acknowledge them but not do anything about it. And we can also embrace them. What we cannot do is deny that the obligation is there.

I would offer that whether you are near to the Church or distant, if you want to grow in closer proximity to God, following the minimum expectations is a good start. It helps set us on the path to friendship with God that we ought to seek. Missing these days by not attending Mass is like missing the birthday party of a close friend or family member. Sooner or later, it starts to affect our relationship with them.
As a reminder, on Wednesday we will celebrate the Feast of All Saints at 9am (with our school community) and at 7pm.

Another wonderful celebration this week is the Feast of All Souls on Thursday, November 2. It is not a Holy Day of Obligation but rather a Holy Day of Opportunity. We will hold a memorial Mass for all those who have died in our parish during the last year at 7pm on Thursday. You are invited to come and memorialize anyone you love who has passed away by bringing a photo of them for our altar of remembrance and lighting a candle for them as well.

May this be a holy week for you! Surrounded by the intercession of the Saints and those who we have loved who have passed on.

David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

What Do We Owe God 2017

What Do We Owe God?

One of my heroines in the Catholic Church is Sister Helen Prejean. You may have heard her story it is the basis for the movie Dead Man Walking in which she is played by Susan Sarandon. She is a strong advocate for the termination of the death penalty in the United States, something the Pope recently reaffirmed as part of the doctrine of the Church. This article isn’t so much a story about Sr. Prejean’s work to end the death penalty as it is something she once taught me. I once was at a church conference and heard Sr. Prejean speak. She delighted the audience with her caddy way of referring to our Lord and Savior as “Sneaky Jesus.”

We get a glimpse at “Sneaky Jesus” this weekend in the Gospel. He certainly rises to the same level of trickster thinking that the Pharisees were using to ensnare him. The Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus betraying core beliefs about Judaism so that they could use his testimony to persecute him. The dilemma they present to Jesus was a commonly disputed problem of the time. In a culture where there was no concept of the separation of Church and State, the observant Jew had a predicament. Participation in the taxation and operation of government was thought to be participation in the belief of the government’s deities as well. Out of pragmatic experience, the Roman occupiers governed the land but allowed the Jewish inhabitants to keep their own religion if they wanted. The compromise was that they still had to pay the Roman tax, but if the Jews participated in the tax, were they not in fact giving money to another god and denying the primacy of the God of Israel?

It was a tricky problem to answer because if they refused to pay the tax, the Romans who would imprison, harass, and do other various and sundry things to oppresses non-compliant offenders. Sneaky Jesus however was able to work his way out of the trap and it at the core of today’s Gospel reading (MT 22:15-21). He said a line that is one of his all-time hits list, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”

Boom. Drop the mic. End of conversation. Jesus hits a home run.

Sneaky Jesus was able to move past the binary choice he was given into a dynamic third option allowing for a religious Jew to participate in Roman society with good conscious. Of course, what most people heard was just the first phrase in his response, “Pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” It is usually what everyone latches onto. Sneaky Jesus says something more however that often gets overlooked. He adds the all important phrase, “Give to God what is God’s.”

Amazing how he slipped that in there and would that we paid more attention to what he said. His statement infers that we should ask ourselves a rhetorical question “What belongs to God?”

The answer comes back to us befalling all hubris. Everything. The wind and the ability to feel it, the earth and our ability to touch it, music and our ability to hear it, light and our ability to see it. Everything we have belongs to God. How shall we make a return?

In the coming weeks, we will be discussing in greater detail the resources of the parish and how we are called to be stewards of all the gifts that are given to us. When we move through that process, I hope and pray we will have the ability to consider the words of Sneaky Jesus. I hope that we can see that everything we have belongs to God. Are we willing to utilize everything we possess so it more closely adheres to the will of God? Are we willing to give to God what belongs to God? Or are will still stuck on Caesar?

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

2017 Running of the Bulldogs 5k

You can now register for the Saint Andrew Parish Running of the Bulldogs 5K & Kids Fun Run!
Sunday, October 22, 2017

Purchase your race registration, sign up to volunteer, and become a sponsor here.

(more…)

Dont Give Up Hope 2017

Don’t Give Up Hope

Another week when the unfortunate events that have unfolded have changed the first page of the bulletin. While the Cubs are in the playoffs and Autumn is in the air, my hope was to reflect on the scriptures with you in a playful subtle way. The “stone which the builder rejected” connection between Jesus-and-Luke-Skywalker-as-the-forgotten-outsiders-who-managed-heroic-feats was the plan for our weekly reflection. I’d have to draw a distinction between the works of history and a narrative of fiction, but that would be easy enough to do. All of those plans changed when last Sunday’s tragedy in Las Vegas hit, an event that we wish was fictional but is more and more part of our country’s narrative.

When trying to find the message from the prescribed readings on any given Sunday, it is my custom to focus on the First Reading and the Gospel. They are usually tied together and selected to reflect a common theme or movement of God’s revelation. As a church, we’ve had several hundred years to get the pairing of scriptures between the First Reading and the Gospel just right, but we have only had around 50 years to get the Second Reading right. The Second Reading was added after the Second Vatican Council and the reading doesn’t always match up as neatly.

But this week, I don’t know if there are any better words to reflect upon than what we find in the Second Reading. It is a messy world and relentless dismay has battered us. From hurricanes to race relations to gun tragedies, there seems to be an onslaught of continuous despair in our country.

And in the fury, we proclaim Saint Paul’s words,

 

Finally, brothers and sisters,

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable,

Whatever is just, whatever is pure,

Whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,

If there is any excellence

And if there is anything worthy of praise

Think about these things. (Phil 4:7-8)

 

Scholars point out that when Saint Paul wrote those words, he was in prison facing trial. He had reluctantly complied to participate in a ritual purification in the temple of Jerusalem at the behest of his friends (the Apostles). He didn’t necessarily agree with them on this matter but afterwards what made it worse was that a violent mob was incited by the ritual purification. Subsequently, the authorities took Saint Paul into prison. He was scorned by both ends of the crossroad that entangled his life. Not exactly the place from which most of us would write such dulcet assurances.

One wonders though, if it wasn’t Saint Paul’s ability to focus on what was true, honorable, just, and pure that got him through? His bold assertion to believe in beauty and gratitude in defiance of calamity may have been the catalyst that transformed his agony into hope rather than transferred it into spite. In the midst of the voracious whirlwind of chaos, Saint Paul was able to hedge off despair by centering his thoughts on what was good and excellent. He was also able to advise us to do the same.

Saint Paul’s message is resilient and purposeful for us today. We cannot give up hope. We cannot yield to the shadowed forces that oppress our world. It is certainly a time to grieve and we should not recoil from allowing ourselves to feel the weight of sadness hovering upon our world, but it is also a time to surround ourselves with beauty, with graciousness, and with the glow of optimism that faith brings. Even in Saint Paul’s darkest hours, his faith anchored him. We are invited to do the same.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

 

What is Your Opinion

The Power of a Question

What is your opinion?
Do you get asked that question a lot these days? If so, that is fantastic, but I find less and less people asking questions like that. (Sans customer questionnaires which are seemingly ubiquitous on customer receipts of purchase. In this article, I’m writing more with an eye to our personal interactions.)
With social media, blogs, and the ability to broadcast your opinion far and wide, it is so easy to offer one’s opinion that society seems to lack a preponderance of individuals interested in asking your opinion. It seems as if everybody wants to tell you their opinion but not vice versa.
I am sure that you have noted that Facebook and Twitter are filled with individuals who have self-appointed omniscience and are arbitrators of everything from “what patriotism really means” to “how smart you are based on your beverage choice.”
But the scriptures from this weekend’s readings present us with a different perspective. We believe that the only one who is truly all-knowing is God but it is worth noting how God’s wisdom is shared. It isn’t by God’s imposition but rather by God’s empowerment through the solicitation of our own ideas.
In the First Reading (Ez 18:25-28) from the prophet Ezekiel, the voice of God asks, “Is it my way that is unfair or rather, are not your ways unfair?” In the Gospel reading from Matthew (MT 21:28-32), Jesus starts off the reading by asking, “What is your opinion?”
To be certain, this weekend’s scriptures are full of wonderful insights about life. Saint Paul instructs us to “Be of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory… etc” (Phil 1”1-11). The prophet Ezekiel says “If someone turns from the wickedness he has committed, if he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.” There are literally hundreds of positive applications to the admonitions presented in the scriptures this week, but one stands out with a daunting boldness that it deserves our greater consideration. What does it look like when the one who has all authority to answer all questions instead asks a question?
What I take from this is the instructional quality of the act of asking. God, the all-powerful and all-knowing enters into a suspended space of unknowing and humility before us. Even as God knows what is ultimately true and just, God pauses to engage us in a conversation. God’s activity is that of inquiry before his creation. God honors subjectivity and freedom. What then does that say about the proper stewardship of our own righteousness? I think something radically different than common perceptions about power and authority.
What if we followed God’s example in our daily life? What if we made a practice of suspending our own self-righteousness to seek out the opinions of others, even if we think we know more than them? If that took root in the hearts of men and women, there would probably be a lot more listening and a lot less arguing. There would probably be a lot more compassion and a lot less conflict.
Maybe it is worth a shot.
Often the “call to action” from the scriptures each week is to go out into the world and do something. Do a kind act. Donate to a cause. Join a service opportunity. What if instead the call to action this week, or this month, or this year is to make a commitment to suspend the arrogance of thinking you have it all figured out. Follow the example of God speaking through Ezekiel and the example of God the Son – Jesus. Instead of knowing it all, ask a question of someone and then… listen.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

Uganda Collection 2017

From Chicago to Lwamata: Parish-to-Parish Support

Next weekend, St. Andrew Parish will conduct a second collection to help the parish of St. Charles Lwanga headed by pastor, Fr. Matthias Kakooza. This annual collection helps Fr. Matthias support the ministries of his community, in addition to the upkeep of the parish church and 22 outstations, where Uganda parishioners experience important Sacraments.

Just as our collections each Sunday keep the lights on – a portion of the support we offer St. Charles Lwanga helps to keep their church operating. This parish-to-parish support is significantly different from the scholarship and school building organizations that also support Fr. Matthias’
community. For one, this support flows from our church through the Archdiocese of Chicago and to the Mityana Diocese in Central Uganda.

Experiencing a Sunday morning Mass in the main parish church of St. Charles Lwanga is a vibrant event – every pew bench is filled, children crowd together to sit on the floor in front and to the
sides of the altar. Joyous music accompanied by drums fills the air. When their offertory collection commences, you’re just as likely to see fruits and vegetables brought to the altar as coins. At the outstations, parishioners must wait weeks for their turn to be visited by a priest and
catechists make due between visits. These parishioners, who live in the remote bush with dirt roads, are too far to walk or travel to the main parish church on Sunday. Their Masses are held in simple structures and sometimes under the shade of a tree.

Our Ugandan sisters and brothers are passionate about their faith. Last year on a special holy day, Fr. Matthias baptized literally hundreds of people young and old for half a day as the line stretched out of the church and across the parish yard.

It is our blessing to play a role in supporting their faith and our great honor to have such a wonderful partner and friend in Fr. Matthias. You can contribute your support both in church next weekend and online through St. Andrew’s website.

Uganda Umbrella of Support

St. Andrew has a history of supporting our brothers and sisters in Uganda. What began 14 years ago with Fr. Matthias’ first visit to Chicago has grown and enriched our community. Through the years, we’ve answered a variety of needs from bikes for Catechists to reach outstations to the construction of water wells, expanded classrooms, and schools.

Currently three main programs support Fr. Matthias and his community:

Parish-to-parish Support: Our financial support keeps St. Charles Lwanga Church, rectory, classrooms and outstations functioning. Your help ensures Uganda parishioners experience important Sacraments in 22 distant outstations.

One Heart Uganda – Scholarships: Education changes lives; currently our community is making that change a reality for 100 students. Often orphaned or at-risk, talented young people are given new hope through annual tuition sponsorships.

Essomero – School Building: A new K-12 school is planned to provide a high-quality education and environment for learning. Fundraising is underway and the school will be built on private property in
Myanzi, Uganda.