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".
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
National Catholic Schools Week starts today! Catholic Schools all over the country are hosting open houses and other activities for their students and families throughout this week. All Saints Catholic Academy (ASCA) started early.
Last Sunday, ASCA students from our parish hosted the 9:30 AM Mass followed by a light brunch in the parish Gathering Place. I enjoyed joining the young students and their families for some fellowship after Mass. I wish to acknowledge the great work of the ASCA faculty, staff, and parents. Thank you for providing our children with faith-filled guidance and an excellent education in an academically rich environment.READ MORE
Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. This year's theme is "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service". The celebration starts on Sunday January 29th and runs to February 4th. Catholic Schools all over the country will be hosting open houses and other activities for students and families at their schools.
In preparation for this year's Catholic Schools Week, Holy Spirit Catholic Community is pleased to welcome our All Saints Catholic Academy students who will be serving as greeters, and lectors at the 9:30 AM Mass on Sunday, January 22. We encourage all families with school aged children to visit www.ascacademy.org for more information about their open house on January 29 and other celebratory activities during the week.
On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski
January is Poverty Awareness Month! The U.S. Catholic Bishops invite all of us to join them in taking up Pope Francis' challenge to live in solidarity with the poor by participating in the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). This campaign is a domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, working to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ "... to bring good news to the poor ... release to captives ... sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free." (Luke 4:18)READ MORE
"Arise, shine; for your light, has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you. And His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising".
Starting this Sunday, January 8 to 14th, the Catholic Church celebrates National Migration Week in the United States. This is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for the 2017 celebration draws attention to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us.READ MORE
I hope that you have enjoyed sharing stories and time with your family during this Christmas season. Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and as we listen to the story of how the shepherds were the first to be told by God's angels of Christ's birth, and they were also the first to visit baby Jesus. The shepherds were the poorest and most marginalized of all people in those days, yet they were chosen to bear the good news of what God's angels had announced: The Savior, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born.READ MORE