Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Parish Pilgrimage August 2018

Join with your parish family for an afternoon pilgrimage to the Shrine of Christ’s Passion, Saint John IN on Sunday, August 26, 2018 after the 10am Mass. The pilgrimage will be from 11:15am to 5:00pm. To learn more and to register… (more…)

It’s Your Decision

It’s Your Decision.

We see the world not as it is, but as we are. So, if the world seems troubled, what does that tell us about ourselves?
Although it isn’t in this Sunday’s scriptures, one of my favorite quotes from Jesus is “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” (Matt 6:22-23)

Generally speaking, when Jesus preaches, he tends to dwell on practical ways to sustain a relationship with God and not on philosophy, but this little quote reveals something illusively important about Jesus’ philosophy. He isn’t talking literally about your eye or eyesight. Jesus is using a metaphor to teach us that our philosophical lens will determine how we see the world and consequently what the world will become. We see the world not as it is, but as we are…

A fact that I assume is lost on most of us is that before a priest is allowed to study theology, he must first study philosophy. He must work through the foggy dispositions in which we are raised and find clarity of thought. His viewpoint for thinking about things must be purified. Then and only then is he ready to study and preach on the Word of God. I have found that a minister’s success or failure (and all of us for that matter) is usually determined during his ability to ground himself in good patterns of thought and in particular the ability to move from “either/or thinking” to “both/and thinking” — Dualistic thinking vs. non-dualistic thinking.

The difference between the two modes of thinking is where we intersect with today’s scripture readings. In today’s Second Reading, the author of the Letter to the Ephesians provides an important insight that may go unnoticed if we don’t highlight it. He wrote “For [Christ] is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity.” (Eph 2:14) To be sure, not only does this statement reveal practical advice about our relationship to God, but it also emphasizes Jesus’ philosophical view of “non-dualistic thinking.”
In the passage from Ephesians, the author was writing about a debate that occurred in the year 50 AD amongst the Apostles as to whether Jesus came for the salvation of the Jews or the non-Jews. At first, their thinking wasn’t clear and they were imbued with divisiveness. To them there was a group of “insiders” and “outsiders” but in the end, they came to know that Jesus came to “make both one,” the opposite of the devil, the diabolical (which literally means “to split, to throw across.”).

The more we study Jesus, the values he presented and even the way he thought, he constantly dismantled dualistic modes of thought. Jesus didn’t think in “either/or terms.” He preached about unity, bringing all creation into one (Colossians 1:17). He said if you want to see the Father (Creator), look to him (Jesus) for he and the Father are one (John 10:30). These are a few of the numerous examples in scripture of Jesus opposing dualistic thinking.

To be honest, the typical reflection on this Sunday’s scripture is usually about leadership. The First Reading and Gospel Reading are all about finding good leaders and not following bad ones. That is good advice and something to which we are particularly sensitive in this day and age but I think it is important first to reflect upon the non-dualism of Jesus’ message because to Jesus, the world isn’t divided into “leaders” and “non-leaders.” You are the leader. Your decisions impact the world. The mystical eye that is the “lamp” to your body (or put another way “the way you metaphorically see”) is one that either fills your soul with light or encourages the darkness.

It is not God who proposed the idea of “blue states” and “red states,” it is us. We divide people into categories of “legal” and “not legal,” people “with rights” and people “without rights.” We project into the world ideas of inequalities between race and gender. It is our perceptions of the world that divides us. It isn’t God or Christ who creates these divisions. If we begin to clear our minds and let the light in, we’ll find ourselves thinking much more like Jesus did. We’ll be much less consumed about either/or propositions and believe more fully in Christ who… makes both one. (Eph 2:14)

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

What Do You Do

What Do You Do?

Is it possible to radically transform the world by doing what it is that you do? What if you are a salesman, a bar owner, a mailman, a mother, a father a police office, an accountant? Does it matter?

The question strikes me as we approach the readings for this Sunday after I recently saw the movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” This one and half hour biopic on the life of Fred Rogers was nothing short of extraordinary. Here was a guy who did television, children’s television specifically, and while the broadcast range of a television program may be a bit larger than the foot traffic at a retail store, his life was a case study in how, whatever your profession, you can have profound impact on the world.

Case in point is how there are many hundreds of people who did what he did (create children’s television programing) but few who made as much of an impact. I don’t believe it was necessarily what he did but how he did it that is important. The same is true of us.

We hear in the first reading today a reading from the prophet Amos (Am7:12-15), a lesser known prophet from the Old Testament. His real occupation is that of a shepherd, something he probably does well. But God calls him to prophesy and he does so with integrity. We may not recall Amos’ impact as directly today because we live thousands of years later, but by all historical accounts, the prophet Amos was highly regarded in the generations that followed him. He spoke truth a world which was very attracted to falsehoods.

Which is not unlike Mr Rogers.

Fred Roger’s formula was simple. He welcomed people. He treated them with respect. He believed that every person was lovable and loved. He accepted people.

This isn’t to say that he didn’t have detractors. A segment of the film included criticisms that he is responsible for raising a generation of people who felt they were “special” and therefore “privileged.” The critics seem themselves to be struggling with issues of worth and in need of a good neighbor who they could trust and would see the good in them. The critics didn’t seem to live next to Mr. Rogers.

It isn’t lost on me that Mr. Roger’s studied to become an ordained Christian minister. The words he spoke sound like that of a priest deeply connected to his church community. In all his television programs however, he never once tried to convert anyone or bend them toward his religious doctrine. He simply did his job with the same integrity that the prophet Amos did in the Old Testament. One could say he was like Saint Francis of Assisi who instructed others to “preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words.” That type of witness is possible for anyone in any occupation.

That is why a beautician can have integrity in her work and change the world. A teacher can teach with kindness and change the world. A lawyer can let their heart beat with a sense of justice and change the world. Whatever a person’s station in life, it seems like Mr. Rogers is a good example to follow.

In his introduction to the TV Hall of Fame, Fred Rogers surprisingly broke out the four-letter words and said “Fame is a four-letter word and like tape, or zoom, or face, or pain, or life, or love, what ultimately matters is what we do with it. “

None of us are called to be exactly like Mr Rogers or the Prophet Amos or even Saint Francis of Assisi. God doesn’t need us to be those people because he already has them in the manifold of heaven. What God needs is you and God wants to change the world by you being you, loving the world and others as only you can do. That kind of living is extraordinary. And possible for all of us.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom of Past Presidents

During this past school year, the 7th grade of Saint Andrew School had a day trip to visit Springfield IL. At the center of the trip was a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a place I highly recommend for you to visit if you’ve never had the chance. It is almost like an actual encounter with Abraham Lincoln.

To be honest, I would like it if everyone make a trip to the library. In our current era where both sides of the political divide are talking in echo-chambers that lack respect, decorum, and commonality, I think Abraham Lincoln has something to say.
And not because Abraham Lincoln was necessarily the most unifying personality in our history. To the contrary, most of his life he was divisive and stubborn. Thousands of people died at the sword, cannons, and bullets thrown as a result of his decisions. He had all the trappings of a politician and his family was constantly in tragic turmoil. The harvest that came from this chaos however was wisdom rightly won. In the end, I consider Abraham Lincoln a mystic.

To clarify my use of the title, I find these days that I use the name “mystic” to apply to anyone who has gleaned the wisdom of life by living through any type of hardship. Whenever someone speaks through lived experience, I feel they possess a certain vulnerability that give them keys to the fountain from which wisdom flows.

And one person whom I have come to recognize as a mystic is Saint Paul. In his second letter to the Corinthians read at Mass today (2 Cor 12:7-10), he refers to something called “the thorn in the flesh.” Now a lot of ink has been spilled by theologians and authors in reflections about the “thorn in the flesh” that Paul experienced. Was it malaria? Epilepsy? Did he have some sort of disgraced addiction that we would consider scandalous? Did he have permanently broken leg or a personality disorder?

The thing is that no one knows. It just bothered him. A lot.

Which is why I sometimes think it was nothing more than a big splinter that got under his skin and he couldn’t get it out. Based on what we know of Saint Paul, he was a perfectionist. Being “right” about everything was the currency in which he dealt. Even a small imperfection would have troubled him and I imagine a skin blemish was considered a fatal “weakness” to him.

His narcissism may not have been like the cannon ball that struck Saint Ignatius of Loyola (rendering Saint Ignatius a convalescent for several months) or the fatal illness of Saint Therese Lisieux (both of which led to their deep conversion and dependence on Christ). Saint Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” may not have even been the emotional scars of a president who led America through the Civil War, but whatever it was, it was Saint Paul’s weakness that humbled him. And from that place he found wisdom, a mystic’s wisdom, for “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

Perhaps my attraction to figures in history such as Abraham Lincoln, Saint Ignatius, Saint Therese, or even Saint Paul is that there exists within them a profound integration of their whole self. They accept not only their strengths but also their weakness. They are also aware that it is their weakness, not their strength, through which they develop a stronger relationship with God.

I don’t know that the 7th graders with whom I traveled to Springfield had the same experience. They may see Abraham Lincoln as a towering figure who is nothing but strength and heroism. I guess that’s alright. I just hope that we as a society can recapture a sense humility that Lincoln embodied near the end of the civil war. With the war nearly won, he could have bragged with hyperbole about “the great America defeating the South” and how his military “smashed the worthless rebels.” Instead, fatigued and repeatedly haunted by the choices he had to make – his own “thorn in the flesh” – Abraham Lincoln spoke with tender humility.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

He spoke a mystic wisdom we have yet to reclaim.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

I Want A New Drug

Huey Lewis and the News Identified This Problem Years Ago

The scriptures from this weekend proclaim, “The creatures of this world are wholesome and there is not a destructive drug among them.” (Wisdom 1:14) That’s a pretty bold and permissive statement. One which is certainly idealistic and bereft of any of the harms of alcoholism or rising opioid abuse.
I was shocked earlier in the month, after the tragic loss of Kate Spade and Anthony Bordain when I read an article on Reuters that had the headline “Rise in U.S. suicides highlight need for new depression drugs.” It got me thinking, especially in light of the reading from the Book of Wisdom.

It seems odd that after a couple of millennia, the human condition, with its countless societies and cultures across the world, needs one more drug to be able to fix depression and suicide. In the article, there was no talk about environmental factors or breakdown of family systems or social networks as being causes for increased depression or even that maybe what is happening is that we as society are more openly talking about and treating depression even though it’s been part of the human experience for centuries. There wasn’t talk about a need for more counselling, better screening, or even religion as a source of hope. The article simply suggested that if we had more drugs we’d be better. We wouldn’t have to change anything else about us or our society to get well.

Before I write any further, I want to emphasize a sense of propriety in all this. There are good and solid reasons for the use of prescription drugs and anyone who has been prescribed them should follow their doctor’s orders for their consumption. There is no shame in the proper administration of drugs nor shame in the drugs themselves. The Catholic Church teaches that prescription drugs are in fact a compliment to good health. I am more than anything challenging the idea that drugs are the only answer in the pursuit of wellness.

The reading from the Book of Wisdom (where it says “there is not a destructive drug among them”) is a reaffirmation of the First Story of Creation in the book of Genesis. God created everything good. But this affirmation is a prelude to a tragic tale. While the world is good, our choices have brought us into the company of evil, where abuse, dissonance, and disintegration gnaw at us.

We need healing.

Which is why the Gospel reading brings greater context to the story. Jesus heals the daughter of Jairus instructing his family “Don’t worry, just have faith.” (Mark 5:36) It is through faith that Jesus heals.

But Is faith enough? Is faith better than a medical treatment? I have often wondered why “healing preachers” do their work in staged auditoriums rather than in hospitals. It seems that if they have a gift to heal, they should go to where the need is. Now, please don’t take my satirical stance as a rebuttal to faith. In fact, it is just the opposite. I believe in true faith and worry that false pretense before God gives Faith a bad name.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about what happens to your brain during experiences of deep prayer and contemplation. I have also been experiencing it firsthand. For myself, moments of deep prayer have had a far more enduring effect on my ability to relax than taking a drug whether alcohol, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc. I can almost feel the dopamine hit my brain when I am truly tuned to prayer. It has an effect of total alignment within me that is generative of deeper wellness.

There isn’t exactly a “healing miracle” when I pray but in another sense maybe there is. What happens feels like a restoration of my total self and that is pretty incredible. I worry that the business of endlessly outsourcing happiness and fulfilment to temporary fixes while not addressing what is at the core of our being is the bigger problem.

St. Augustine once said, “Each of us created with a hole inside us that only God can fill.” I think he’s right. Compare that to Huey Lewis who once sang the song, “I want a new drug… one that won’t make me nervous, wondering what to do. One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you.” I actually think St. Augustine and Huey Lewis are both onto something quite similar. What I really want is a drug that makes me feel like I feel when I’m united with God. Thankfully, all I have to do to feel that way is allow myself to recognize that God loves me and God is united with me right now.

The same gift awaits you.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

Theology on Tap Summer 2018

Theology on Tap is getting ready to kick off this summer and Saint Andrew Young Adults are getting ready for a great series!

Want to hang out with other Catholic young adults? Want to learn more about faith? Want to meet some of the movers and leaders in the Catholic Church in a low-key environment?

Then join us for any one of the Theology on Tap evenings planned this summer and learn more about all the opportunities at www.totchicago.org (more…)

Religious Education Registration Form 2018-19

Religious Education 2018-19

Looking for a way to teach your children about the faith? We have something for you!

Saint Andrew Religious Education (RE) will offer a family program for families with children from Kindergarten through High School utilizing the Family Catechesis Model. This model has been adopted to the needs of Saint Andrew families after two years of working with families and publishers to have the most flexible and dynamic program we can offer. (more…)

What Biologists Struggle Grasp

What Biologists Struggle to Grasp

Have you ever had a moment when you hear someone talking and they say something erroneous that you know is obviously incorrect? What do you do? Do you shut down and stop paying attention? Do you interrupt? Do you not interrupt and just enjoy the social dissonance?

I tend to interrupt and try to correct the individual, but I wonder if I would have done so if I were with Jesus during his ministry. During the Gospel at this weekend’s Masses, Jesus tells us a parable about “seeds growing in a field” and suggest that no one knows how a seed grows into a plant, bears fruit, and is harvested. If I were a mere casual biologist or a lover of science in general, I would probably hear Jesus’s trope and need to resist the temptation to interrupt. I would want to jump in and say, “Germination! It’s called Germination! It’s not a mystery at all! We understand on the cellular level how mitosis moves through the stages of prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase to create an enduring photosynthetic factory for long term energy storage.”

I think Jesus might have felt like I was a buzzkill, and I would above all, be missing the point.

If we use our common sense, we know that if you plant a seed, it will grow and you can harvest the fruit. If we use more than our common sense, we can be even more specific. Our vault of knowledge has advanced to the point that a scientist can tell us, “If you use a certain kind of seed, with a certain kind of herbicide and pesticide, and have “x” number of sunny days, and “x” amount of rain, you will yield “x” bushels of produce give or take a statistical average.” But all of that information wouldn’t necessarily yield even an ounce of appreciation for the bigger picture.

Jesus is teaching us something and it isn’t about biology. It is a poetic explanation about the experience of gratitude. The parable is meant to help us enter into a disposition which reveals to us the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s important for that singular statement to “sink in” because every time Jesus tries to explain the Kingdom of Heaven, he resists the urge to be direct. He uses parables.

Parables are a lens for seeing the world and while many of us struggle to understand parables, they might be a better fit for viewing the deeper values of life than our typical pragmaticism. To understand a parable, you have to enter into a way of thinking that isn’t built on either/or propositions but rather propositions that unite everything together.

All the understanding in the world of facts and numbers, details and mechanical flow charts are important for the everyday functioning of life, but they don’t help us “tie it all together.” They don’t help us assemble what it all means.

Jesus does.

Jesus helps us make sense in ways that sometimes don’t make sense. To understand him we have to let go of the urge to interrupt and assume that we know it all. We have to find the greater unity. We have to let generosity find its inner emergence so that it may radiate through our entire self, for that is what the Kingdom of Heaven feels like.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

25th Anniversary Reflection

Thoughts on 25 Years of Priesthood 

They say, “time flies when you’re having fun.” As I reflect on the 25 years that have passed since that fateful day on May 22, 1993 when I was ordained by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, I would have to completely agree with that sentiment. These 25 years have really flown by fast! And they have been fun!

As part of the Rite of Ordination, when I laid prostrate on the cool marble floor of the cathedral I had no idea then that time would move so quickly. It had taken me 12 years of seminary formation, and many prayers, questions and even doubts to get to that moment. Those 12 years definitely seemed to have gone slowly. So in a sense, I was lulled into thinking that time would continue to creep by once I was ordained. In reality though, I was in for a surprise.

After a five week break before officially starting at my first assignment, I soon found myself hitting the ground running. Every Mass, confession, wedding, funeral and visit with parishioners in those first few years were exciting moments. The newness of everything during those first few years helped time to speed along.

But once I had gotten a few years under my belt, things were no longer new. And yet, time continued to go fast. In essence I’ve been doing pretty much the same things for 25 years. Conventional wisdom would dictate that with set routines time would slow down. What then has contributed to my perception of time flying by? I’ve come to realize that it’s the Holy Spirit. Like a paper being lifted and tossed about by the wind, these 25 years have been propelled by the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. With every day, and every parishioner I met, and every pastoral encounter I found myself in, the Holy Spirit was prompting, guiding and inspiring me.

Of course, not every day has been a walk in the park. There have been times when time seemed to slow down or even come to a complete stop. These moments have been far and few between though, but they’ve been there. Like when the wind dies down and the paper languishes on the ground, there have been times in my life filled with anxiety, fear and even sadness. It’s in these moments that just like in today’s gospel when the risen Christ breathed on the apostles and gave them the Holy Spirit, so too have I felt the breath of Christ lifting me up again.

With 25 years to look back upon, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude, first of all to Jesus Christ who has called me to be a part of his divine mission. I’m also grateful to my parents for being the first to teach me about God. I’m also grateful to my family that has supported me from the very first days I began to play “priest” as a child and began to give voice to my desire to be a  priest. I’m also grateful to the many priests who inspire and challenge me to be a better priest. I am grateful to the many parish staffs filled with dedicated deacons, lay ecclesial ministers, principals, music directors, youth ministers, secretaries and support staff I’ve had the privilege to work with and who taught me much about parish ministry. And finally, but most importantly, I am thankful to all the parishioners I’ve met at each of my assignments. I feel incredibly blessed to have been invited into their lives.

With so much to be thankful for, it is no wonder then that these 25 years have gone by so fast. I look forward then to the next 25 years going by as equally fast, if not faster!

Fr Sergio