On the Journey

Weekly messages from Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Third Sunday of Easter

04-30-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

One can only imagine the uncertainty, fear, remorse, and perhaps guilt, the disciples must have felt after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Think about it, and try to relate to the two disciples traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Place yourselves in their shoes.

They were walking along, immersed in conversation trying to understand all that had happened in the last three days, and along comes a stranger who apparently had no idea of the recent events. So, they eagerly shared their story with the stranger.


Second Sunday of Easter

04-23-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Jesus is alive! Jesus conquered sin and death and reopened the gates of heaven. His victory and our rebirth in baptism make it possible for us to share in everlasting life. Now we begin the Easter Season: the fifty days that follow from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. We celebrate this season as one feast day, sometimes called "the great Sunday".

Today's first reading sets the tone for the season. As we listen to the teachings of the apostles, we are reminded that even though we have not seen Christ, we believe and rejoice. During this season we are called to come together, each week, as a community to give thanks to God, to break bread, and to strengthen our faith. Let us pray for one another and open our hearts to this season of joy.


Palm Sunday

04-09-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Today's readings offer a wide view of what we will contemplate during Holy Week: the Eucharist, the passion and death of the Lord, and the prediction of His Resurrection. When you listen to the readings take notice of the many words and expressions that have become part of the Sunday liturgy. Most importantly, listen to how each event of the Passion of Christ reveals what the prophets and Christ himself had announced.

I hope the posters and props placed around the parish during the past five weeks, served to motivate you to experience your Lenten journey as an exciting trip to celebrate the grace of forgiveness, and the joy of the Resurrection.


Fifth Sunday of Lent

04-02-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Today is the Sunday of the Third Scrutiny for those in our community who are preparing to enter the Catholic faith. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program (RCIA), designates three Scrutiny Rites as a major component of the Lenten journey for the catechumen (the elect) and candidates.

What are the scrutinies?

The scrutinies are described as an opportunity to examine (scrutinize) how we are tempted, how we fail in what we do and in what we fail to do (sin), and to strengthen all that is strong and good in us. The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good. "These rites are celebrated to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life" (Scrutinies #141)


Fourth Sunday of Lent

03-26-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Spring is here and soon the trees will recover their leaves and flowers will bloom. Many people say spring is the happiest time of the year. Perhaps this feeling has something to do with spending more time outdoors, admiring God's creation. Though there is surely a common desire for happiness in the hearts of men and women of all ages, there are people who seem to avoid happiness because they feel it is too hard or impossible to achieve.

"God has placed in the heart of every man and woman an irrepressible desire for happiness, for fulfillment".

Pope Francis

Third Sunday of Lent

03-19-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Last Monday, March 13th, Pope Francis celebrated his 4th anniversary as Bishop of Rome and leader of the Global Catholic Church. The Holy Father's first four years have been driven by mercy, service and humility. Reading about the pope in the media one confirms that his message and actions have clearly captured the world's attention. An important theme during the first four years of his papacy has been "forgiveness".

I want to share some experts taken from an article published by Loyola Press: Pope Francis on the Parable of the Merciful Father. This reflection speaks to the people who might feel their sins are too great to ask God for forgiveness.


Second Sunday of Lent

03-12-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

As we come to the second Sunday of the Lenten season, I hope you have noticed the direction signs, travel posters and the suitcases that we have placed around our parish building and worship space. The intention of placing these objects is to evoke some reflection and inspire people to approach their Lenten journey with the same kind of interest and passion they approach a vacation trip.

Most people take the time to plan an upcoming trip whether they are traveling overseas, across the country or just a few hours away from home. We spend time planning our trip and we make sure all things are in order so we can enjoy our trip without any problem.


First Sunday of Lent

03-05-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Our Catholic Lenten Practices: Prayer – Giving - Sacrifice

Giving up something for Lent, eating fish on Fridays and fasting from meat, almsgiving and penance throughout the forty days of lent —are some of the practices for which Catholics are known. The Catholic Church calls each of us to renew our discipleship in Christ each year during Lent through our commitment to pray, give alms and sacrifice.

Prayer it's important to understand the meaning of prayer in our lives—as individuals, as families, and as a community. Prayer is especially important during the Lenten season, because it is a way of personal reflection, evaluation, and repentance. Lent calls us to a personal conversion and renewal so that we might not just celebrate Easter at the end of the forty days of the season but also feel the risen Christ alive in us and in the world.


Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-26-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

The Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1. As Catholics, we are all called to renew our baptismal commitment and asked to dedicate ourselves to spiritual and corporal acts of mercy.

Give Up, Take Up, Lift Up! is the Lenten theme for 2017 presented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I wish to echo the bishops' invitation to take inspiration for your Lenten journey from the words of St. Paul (2 Cor 8:9), and to consider his invitation to live a life of evangelical poverty. Embrace the Lord's call to being the blessed poor by "giving up" material things, "taking up" charitable actions to help and care for others; and by "lifting up" people in need through giving alms.


Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-19-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Sometimes the simplest words and teachings are the hardest to understand and live by.

Today's first reading comes from The Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament and offers several rules of conduct rooted in the Ten Commandments. Just as God is holy so too must his chosen people be holy. "You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart...Take no revenge and cherish no grudge...You shall love your neighbor as yourself".

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of the true wisdom of God and how that wisdom is seen as foolishness by the world. We belong to Christ and as "temples of God" we are called to embrace the wisdom of God and not the "wisdom" of the world.


Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-12-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Pope Francis' Lenten message -The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift, was recently released by the Vatican. The message centers on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) and highlights this meaningful story as an inspiring call to conversion. The Holy Father reminds us that "Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ's victory over death." He invites all of us to listen to the word of God and ponder it more deeply and to approach the season of Lent as a unique opportunity to strengthen our spiritual lives. I hope all of you will take a few minutes to visit this link and read his message.

Some people worry about choosing the right thing to give up for Lent, mainly because they want to make sure they can keep their commitment. If you are looking for ways to follow the Holy Father's lead, I encourage you to approach Lent as if you are planning a very special trip to a wonderful destination. Think about what you need to bring on your trip and what you should leave behind.


Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

02-05-2017On the JourneyFr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Today, it pleases me to welcome Deacon Carlos Rubio and his wife Cecilia to our parish community. Carlos and Cecilia moved to Naperville a couple of years ago, so they could be close to their son and grandchildren. They moved here from El Paso, Texas, where they were active parishioners of Our Lady of the Valley for many years, and both served as liturgical ministers. Carlos' example in parish life, pastoral leadership, and his dedication to God and Church were recognized by his fellow parishioners who nominated him for the diaconate program in his diocese. Carlos was ordained in 2008 and was assigned to his parish where he served for several years.