Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Advent Speaker Series 2017

Come to the Advent Speaker Series starting on Wednesday, December 6, 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…)

Most Wonderful Time of the Year – 2017

Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Just saying the words can cause my mind’s ear to intone the thrilling orchestral sweep of the famous carol currently being played ad infinitem everywhere you go. I think that I had already heard the carol played 15 times before the month of December even started. At this time of the year, Christmas carols are ubiquitous.

Right now however, the constant echo of carols causes in me a rather counter-cultural dissatisfaction that may or not make sense to some of you. The debate started in early November with people saying “Is it too early to play Christmas Music?” Not only was I in the camp that thought it was too early, I still think it’s too early. I’m often in the corner in a chortled tone saying “Christmas carols are for Christmas which starts on December 25!”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be a humbug. This is one of those areas where I am quite comfortable being the lone voice in the conversation and I rarely have anyone agree with me but that’s OK. I love this time of the year. It is a great time! But I also recognize that the way I see this time of the year is different than the rest of the world, especially the secular world.

I see the most wonderful time of the year as the season of Advent. When I hear songs like “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas…” I want to shout out “Wait!” Because that is what we are invited to do right now in the life of the Church. We are invited to wait. To immerse ourselves in the practice of patient preparation. We’re invited to enter into the experience of what it is like to joyfully hope for something. That is the power of the season of Advent. We are asked to prepare. Expect. Anticipate. We are not invited to a season of burnout.

Despite my advocacy for Yuletide canticle postponement, I am quite comfortable that carols are played and sung and celebrated with vigor. What I am not comfortable relenting is the invitation to experience Advent. Year after year I have friends who get to the end of the December and decry “Enough already! I can’t handle this cheesy crass commercial travesty of all that is dear to God.” Year after year, I find people who are burned out on Christmas before it has the chance to touch their heart. I am concerned that we get ourselves trapped in the hustle and bustle of Christmas and not its meaning.

Thankfully, I know of a medicine to this ailment. It isn’t to tune out Christmas carols, it is to make room in your heart for the coming of Christmas. This year, Saint Andrew has a rather unique opportunity to do that. To take time out of the week and join us at the Advent Speaker Series on Wednesday nights from 7 to 8pm in the Church. It is a chance for adults and children to take some time to prepare for the coming of Christ by literally preparing a manger set for your home.

We’re going to take each week and look at the figures that are found in the nativity scene, the angels, the shepherds, the kings, and the Holy Family. With these weekly reflections, each family will get a piece of a small crèche set to take home and keep as a reflection on the true meaning of the season. It’s a little way to remind us that this really is the most wonderful time of the year. It isn’t about a white Christmases or brown-paper packages tied up with string, or even the most stunning Christmas tree you can imagine. It is about Jesus. And we get 3 weeks (and a couple hours) to really contemplate that gift, relish in its significance, and then sing out with joy.
I look forward to seeing you at one or more of the speaker series! Have a blessed Advent!

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

What You Do for the Least – Christ The King 2017

What You Do for the Least…

I can think of two contemporary matters in our purview this weekend that directly relate to this weekend’s Gospel (Matthew 25: 31-48). At first, both of these matters may seem like non-sequiturs so allow me to highlight and explain more about 1) the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and 2) the proposed tax legislation before the United States Congress.

Matthew 25 is a Gospel reading in which Jesus describes the last judgment. He presents to us that the standard for judgment will come not from right worship but rather from right action. If you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, etc. you are doing what the Son of Man wants and will enjoy the kingdom intended for you.

What does that have to do with either the CCHD or tax legislation? After all, the Gospel seems rather simplistic doesn’t it? Last week was the food drive. So if you gave to the food drive your all good. Right? Well not exactly. There is more to it than that.

Since May 15, 1891 with the publication of Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII, there have been reflections on today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 25) and other important works of scripture that have given rise to what we know as “Catholic Social Teaching.” This body of work explains to us that indeed scripture hasn’t changed since the time of Jesus but society has experienced profound changes. Social structures are different, the means of production are different, and the capacity for participation in society are different. Hence the response of the Christian toward those living on the margins must be different as well.

It is important to care for the immediate needs of those living on the margins. We call this “charity.” It is also important to correct the reasons human persons have been moved to the margins to begin with. This corrective action is called “justice.” The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is an organization set up by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to assist us in working on matters of justice, rectifying the wrongs that exist in our society that cause unemployment, poverty, homelessness, etc. So last week we were collecting to help the immediate needs (charity) and this week we are collecting to help the structural need (justice).

Now what about tax reform? When you read Matthew 25, or heard it proclaimed to you today, I am willing to be that you missed something that moved very quickly in the text. Here is the “gotcha” question for the week. “In the Gospel passage… who was being judged at the end of the world?”

The surprise answer is that “the nations” were being judged. In other words, the text does not imply that you and I are being judged separately. Rather the last judgment belongs to the nation to which we belong. Does our nation feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, or welcome strangers? As lovely as it is that there are individuals who do this quite regularly, even in our own parish, the harsh reality from the Gospel is that their work alone is not enough to save our nation.

Now I have to move onto some shaky ground because I am writing this on November 17, 2017 for a bulletin to be published on November 26. I have no idea what will happen in the next 9 days before this reaches the pews at Saint Andrew. However as of today, if you have been reading the news from the United States bishops, you may have read that the leaders of the Church do not believe that the proposed tax bill in Congress is reflective of a Christian nation as exemplified in today’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 25). read more…

It is kind of surprising that the bishops who regularly raise voices in support of conservative measures (for example Pro-Life legislation) sound like bleeding heart liberals in regard to this tax legislation. No matter where your political alliances are or what you feel about getting a tax cut, the bishops have a responsibility for reminding us and our nation what the Gospel of Jesus says.

They remind us that we should always aim towards being a more just nation. A nation that can graciously be recognized by the Son of Man in the final judgment. A nation that works for justice for those on the margins and as a nation, feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, shelters the homeless. I’ll be honest, I don’t know all the ways to get that done in our politics or our tax code, but I do know that it should be a constant effort to try our best to pursue the greater vision. I believe that is what the bishops have done by reminding Congress to do better than the current proposal. Personally, I give thanks that God is constantly reminding us that we can do better and always giving us another chance to do so.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

Giving Tree Christmas 2017

Saint Andrew Parish and School will again be partnering with St. Mary of the Lake and St. Thomas of Canterbury, located in the Uptown neighborhood, with a Christmas service project through a Giving Tree. Last year’s project was incredibly successful and we helped over 550 students ranging from Pre-K – 8th grade stay warm over the cold, winter, Chicago months.

(more…)

Biddy Basketball 2017-18

Sign up has started for Biddy Basketball! If you have a child 3 years of older through 3rd grade, you can enroll them in our winter basketball league designed to promote community, team building, and self esteem.  The deadline for sign up is December 22, 2017. The season will begin on Sunday, January 7, 2018 and end on February 18, 2018.   (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