2009 Archive

  1. January 4

    2009: Old myths and fake rights

    Two weeks ago, many of the offices of the archdiocesan Pastoral Center moved from 155 Superior St. to the refurbished Quigley building on Pearson Street. It was good to move to a place that was not built as an office building, for the church is not basically a civil corporation. The Quigley Center is a building that was built to house a high school seminary and has been part of the archdiocese’s life since 1917.

  2. January 18

    St. Paul in America

    “We give thanks to God always for you all…” (1 Thes 1:2). St. Paul’s first letter to the Church in Thessalonika is most probably the earliest of his letters in the New Testament. It was written around the year 50 A.D. The letter begins with a salutation: “Grace to you and peace,” (I Thes 1:1) and ends by turning the salutation into a prayer, “The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (I Thes 5:28). St. Paul is called the Doctor of Grace, because God’s life in us, called grace and won for us by Christ, was at the center of his life, his teaching and his ministry.

  3. February 1

    Married Catholics in the church and society

    Among the seven Sacraments of the apostolic Churches, Marriage and Holy Orders are called “social sacraments.” This means that when a man and a woman are married, or when a man is ordained a bishop, priest or deacon, everyone’s relationship to God in the family of the church shifts a bit; everyone is affected by a marriage and an ordination, whether married or not, ordained or not. Everyone in the church therefore has an interest in strengthening marriage and preserving the integrity of the formation and the lives of the ordained. Neither marriage nor holy orders is a purely private affair. Neither sacrament is a career. Both consecrate vocations that bring holiness of life to the entire church.

  4. February 15

    Whose world is it?

    Part of the discussion about the future of our economy raises the question of what sort of economic base will secure the future for our country and our families. And part of the answer to that question seems to lie in socalled “green” industries created to give energy while protecting the resources of the earth. In the light of faith, how might we reflect on the “green revolution” that is being called for?

  5. March 1

    Lent 2009: On the fast track

    Of the three penitential practices that mark the Lenten season— prayer, fasting and almsgiving — Pope Benedict’s Lenten message this year puts a focus on fasting. Why?

  6. March 15

    Catholics at the capital: The church in public life

    Last week, more than 4,000 Catholic parishioners, employees, volunteers and school children met in Springfield to promote the tenets of Catholic social teaching and express support or disagreement with bills currently being considered by those who represent the citizens of Illinois in the capital. After a rally around schools, we split up to contact various legislators and the new governor. The conversations were mostly pleasant and, I’m told, the day was well received.

  7. March 29

    Is corruption a sin?

    During Lent, most parishes arrange communal penance services, with collective examination of conscience, followed by the individual confession of all one’s mortal sins and the giving of absolution. Priests gather from surrounding parishes, making it possible for many people to make their confession during the service and do so having a choice of confessors. This enables one to approach the Easter sacraments with a clear conscience, free of sin and with the life of grace renewed.

  8. April 12

    How does one live in a risen body?

    Christ is risen, Alleluia! He is risen indeed, Alleluia! This traditional Easter greeting will shape our prayer for the 50 days between Easter Sunday and the feast of Pentecost. How should it shape our thoughts? What does it mean for Christ to be risen from the dead?

  9. April 26

    A better life or a new life?

    The Catholic Church is much engaged in helping many people lead better lives, through education, health care, public advocacy and private counseling, with social services to the aged, the homeless, the hungry and many who would otherwise be without help. Catholic Charities in our archdiocese and in every diocese provides help to people who want to live better lives.

  10. May 10

    Who is our Mother?

    On Mothers’ Day, each of us does something extra to tell our mother that we love her and are grateful for her love. If our mother has died, Catholics remember her at Mass in a particular manner. Mothers’ Day began as a religious remembrance, although it was secularized fairly early, becoming, like most major civic holidays, a commercialized commemoration.

  11. May 24

    The Holy Father in the Holy Land

    From May 8 to May 15, Pope Benedict XVI was on pilgrimage in Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and the State of Israel. The reports of his travels were filtered through the categories of political analysis, as is always the case with such reports, since politics is the highest frame of reference possible for the media. It is good, therefore, to step back and frame the story in the pope’s own terms, as a journey of faith.

  12. June 7

    A year for priests: June 19, 2009 to June 11, 2010

    Reflections on our life in the Archdiocese and plans for its ministries often arise from what I hear from my councils or from the questions people bring up. Recently, I planned to write about foreclosures on homes and the loss of jobs, because many individuals and families now find their lives terribly disrupted. The vision given us by faith and the solidarity of the faith community itself demand that we attend to these great difficulties together. I’ve also heard of the progress or lack of it toward nuclear disarmament from the Peace and Justice Office, and this moral issue becomes more important as the headlines tell us of nuclear proliferation among states and terrorist groups. Our archdiocesan Women’s Committee has discussed with new urgency the prevalence of domestic violence, especially against women and children. The media report about violence on the streets, but violent responses are learned in the home before they are acted out in the neighborhoods.

  13. June 21

    Father’s Day: Loving as a man

    We celebrate Fathers’ Day, 2009, with the news that nearly 40 percent of children born in the United States this past year were not born to parents married to one another. This means that 1.7 million children were born to unmarried mothers last year, a figure 250 percent greater than the number reported in 1980. Most of these children were desired, and their mothers will not give them up for adoption. But the economic and social future for unmarried mothers and their children is statistically bleak. Marriage is not a real possibility, because the men who generated the children are often described as boys: immature at best, irresponsible and selfish at worst.

  14. July 5

    “Crossing Over” to other cultures and to Christ

    For almost 10 years, priests and lay ministers from the Dioceses of Muenster, Essen and Aachen in Germany have been “crossing over” the Atlantic Ocean for a few weeks each year to experience Catholic life in Chicago and compare notes with their counterparts here. Each year, a number of priests and lay ministers from Chicago have returned their visit and spent time observing how the church lives and works in Germany. This year, those who organize and pay for the project asked that I “cross over” with the Chicago contingent.

  15. July 19

    Necessary discrimination: the goal of nuclear disarmament

    Over the years, people in our country have come to realize how morally destructive it is to discriminate against people. But discrimination about the morality of actions remains the foundation for moral theory and for the formation of personal conscience. The recent talks between President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about reducing the number of nuclear arms and eventually doing away with them entirely are a good reminder of how a political issue is also a moral issue, because what is at stake is a question of life or death.

  16. August 2

    Truth, love and justice: You can’t have one without the others

    Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical letter is a dense read by anyone’s standards. It’s called “Charity in Truth,” and is a “social encyclical” in a long line of such letters in modern times.

  17. August 16

    Three paths of discipleship

    Catholicism is first of all not a set of ideas or a collection of causes. It is a way of life, a way of following Jesus Christ. It teaches what Christ expects of us and gives us the sacraments to give us strength for the journey; and it also offers a whole range of ways to follow Christ with others, first of all in our families and parishes but then also in various movements and callings that offer distinctive paths of discipleship. During the first week of August I was with three different groups, each with its own path to holiness, its own way of following Christ.

  18. August 30

    Health, wholeness and holiness

    The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed a week later by the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, are moments to recall our own future with God. Because Christ is risen from the dead in his own body, all of us look forward to rising from the dead when Christ returns in glory. A risen body is a glorified body, entirely suffused with the Holy Spirit, free of all the limitations, the diseases and the mortality that our bodies now suffer under. Jesus’ body, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is glorified, as is the body of his mother. The rest of us, living now or already dead, can only wait in hope to know what life in a glorified body will be like.

  19. September 13

    Captured by the age, lost to Christ

    A week ago, some of the Polish community of Chicago gathered at St. Adalbert Cemetery to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the invasion of western Poland by the Nazi Wehrmacht on Sept. 1, 1939, and the invasion, on Sept. 17, 1939, of eastern Poland by the Soviet Union. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said at the time, Poland had been “crucified between two thieves.” After the Mass, we processed to the monument in the cemetery, facing Milwaukee Avenue, dedicated to the memory of the 22,000 members of the Polish officer corps who, with hands bound by barbed wire, were shot to death on Stalin’s orders in the Katyn Forest in April 1940.

  20. September 27

    Jobs, homes and human dignity

    Even with some encouraging signs of economic recovery in the months to come, for which we can all be grateful, the number of people without work continues to increase and foreclosures on homes continue to threaten families. Joblessness and homelessness are two markers of individual and family distress that affect our sense of who we are as human beings and of what we are called to be as disciples of Jesus Christ.

  21. October 11

    October: Praying the rosary and respecting life

    October started with a lot of people disappointed that Chicago, after so much preparation, was not chosen to host the Olympic Games in 2016. The psychological reaction to the decision might lead one to stoicism or depression. The political analysis of the decision lends itself to guesswork. The practical reaction to the decision entails falling back and re-thinking the neighborhood development plans that were part of preparing for the games.

  22. October 25

    Priest and missionary: St. Damien of Molokai

    Mission Sunday was celebrated on Oct. 18, and I thank all those who contributed to the annual collection for the missions outside of this country. Catholics in Africa, Asia and parts of Latin America are helped through the generosity of Catholics in this country. Pope Benedict XVI calls this exchange “solidarity with young churches.”

  23. November 8

    Living and dying in the Lord

    November starts with our commemorating all the saints in heaven and continues with our praying for all the souls in purgatory. The church celebrates saints’ days on the day of their death, the day of their definitive entrance into heaven, not their birthday on earth, as the secular calendar commemorates the dead.

  24. November 22

    The meaning of priestly, episcopal ministry

    In place of his regular column, Cardinal George has shared the text of his Presidential Address, delivered Nov. 16 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the beginning of their fall general meeting in Baltimore.

  25. December 6

    What St. Joseph does; Who St. Joseph is…  

    My grandfather, Jacob George, died on Dec. 5, 1913, when his son, my father, was only 10 years old. Although I never knew my grandfather, I have a holy card that was printed at the Techny Mission Press and that my father kept in his prayer book. It has the dates of my grandfather’s life and death on one side, and a picture of St. Joseph on his deathbed on the other. It calls St. Joseph the “Patron of a Happy Death.”

  26. December 20

    It’s all in the family…

    The Christmas season brings families together for meals and celebrations. The liturgy of the season brings us into the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Archdiocese is bringing to Catholics who have fallen away from the regular practice of their faith an invitation to come home, to reconnect with the family of the faith.