April 8, 2020
Thoughts borrowed for this Lent...
Pope Francis in his message for this year's Lent, which he signed quite early, because in October last year, he probably did not know how different Lent would be. The theme of the message are the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: "In Christ's name, please reconcile with God." The Pope writes that, "one can never take it for granted that the Lord will give us another time conducive to our conversion." This Lent is an opportunity for us; an opportunity that may never happen again. And no one knows if this is not our last chance. Today we know that this Lent has proved to be the last for many of us and was indeed the last chance for conversion. Pope Francis adds: "Therefore, in this favorable period, let us lead by God into the desert like Israel, so that we can finally listen to the voice of our God, allowing Him to resonate with us with greater depth and openness. The more we engage His word, the more we will experience His gratuitous mercy. " So, going out into the desert is for hearing the Word of God. The Pope says that it is a real meeting, a real dialogue; it's not about talkativeness. And the Pope ends this passage as follows: "Let us not, then, let this time of grace pass in vain, in the presumptuous illusion that we are the masters of the times and the way we convert to Him." Today, probably no one of us deludes that we are the masters of times and ways of converting to God. Everything is different. Even if we had ideas, expectations. It is God who chooses times and ways. It is an illusion that we decide everything. We're all doomed to the desert. For each of us lives essentially in some isolation. There are those who live in quarantine. There are those who live in hospitals. There is a desert, because basically many forms of entertainment we are used to are basically closed to us; e.g. we can't go to the mountains. We are actually sitting in the four walls of our apartments. Zero social gatherings. There are no liturgical assemblies because the churches are closed. It would seem that we were all led to the desert without asking for their opinion. But this is not true, because quarantine, because the insulation does not automatically become a desert. An epidemic condemns us to quarantine and isolation. God does not condemn us to the desert, but God invites us to the desert. And entering the desert requires a decision, requires permission. It also requires some movement, some action, some kind of uprising on our part. But I don't have to get up at all. I can sit still, angry, rebellious, angry and not move at all into the desert to which God invites me. So, the desert is a place where God invites us, not condemns us. And then this desert is not a wasteland; quarantine can be wasteland; insulation can be wasteland. But the desert is a meeting place. It is probably the place where the epidemic we are going through is going nowhere, but God does not take away things that are important to us. In the desert, God does not want to talk to us about things, but in the desert, he wants to talk to us about our relationship; not about things, but about Him and us. God introduces us to a conversation in which nothing disturbs us anymore. And this is the meeting that Pope Francis speaks about in his message, "face to face, heart to heart, friend to friend." Only God and us, are in this meeting. God in this desert calls us to return to our youth. How is this possible since time is not going backwards; you don't enter the same river twice? Jesus says to Nicodemus "you have to be born again" and Nicodemus says, "how can I not enter the mother's womb again?" Pope Francis writes elsewhere that "he is young, who can enter his source." Therefore, it is not a matter of age but the experience of what is source in our life, that is the experience of what our life really ejaculates from. Where does our life really start from? There is a moment when we can say "I'm finally starting to live! This is just real life! I've only existed so far. I'm alive now. "We should not be interested in existence but in life. For Israel, it was an exit from Egypt and the discovery that God loves them and loves them selflessly; that he loves them, but they don't deserve, that this love is merciful, that this love is creative, that this love is transforming. The source of our life is the experience of the relationship that connects us with God. It was God who invented life for us and this life abundantly. So, in this desert, to which God invites us, it's about love that is a little crazy love, such love of youth. This desert to which God calls us, this is the desert of youth, this is the first experience that God loves you; that you discovered that God loves you so much, that you discovered that God brings you out, that he sets you free, that he draws you with him, that he tells you to heart and that whatever you do wrong, he still absolves you, because it is so in in love with you. This love on God's part is unstoppable, nothing can break it. And our love is like Israel in the desert, going away again and again, putting God to the test, doubting, rebelling ("let's go back to Egypt").
Fr. Tony - Pastor
March 27, 2020
As we will enter final week before Holy Week, the narrative of Jesusâ€™ life on earth builds to a climax. In the Gospels of the last two weeks, Jesus gave water to those who thirsted and light to those who would not see. Water and light are essentials to life. Today we hear Jesus giving life itself to someone who has died. The giver of water and light is also the giver of his life itself. Let us thank God for the gift of our Savior as we prepare for the final two weeks of Lent. Due to the Corona Virus situation, we live in a totally new reality. We must follow directions given by the authorities, which limit our normal interactions, and activities we might love to do. This situation has impacted our religious activities as well. At the beginning of this health crisis, we were told we should not gather for the Eucharist, although we could come to the church for private prayer and adoration. New orders from the Governor have dictated that from March 21 to at least April 7 the church and rectory must be closed. These are the instructions I have received from the Archdiocese:
Governor Pritzker's mandatory stay-at-home order for the State of Illinois means the following for our parishes effective 5 p.m. Saturday, March 21 through Tuesday, April 7:
- All churches and adoration chapels must be closed and locked until the order is lifted by the governor. Private prayer in any parish building must be discontinued until the order is lifted.
- There can be no live Stations of the Cross or any other gatherings anywhere on parish/school property, nor can any parish personnel be involved in organizing them on any other site.
- All weddings and baptisms must be postponed and can be re-scheduled only once the order is lifted. There are no exceptions to this, regardless of the size of the group. However, in case of an extreme emergency for baptism, please seek the permission of your bishop.
- Funerals and wakes must be postponed until the order is lifted.
(Note: Priests can â€“ and are encouraged â€“ to continue celebrating Mass privately and to livestream their Masses for their parishioners, if possible.)
- Parish offices must be closed until the governorâ€™s order is lifted.
In this difficult time, I celebrate Masses daily at noon, on Sundays at 2PM; you can watch on our website www.stbrunochicago.org or directly on YouTube putting stbrunochicago.org. I keep ALL OF YOU in my prayers when I say Mass and when I pray the Liturgy of the Hours as well. In the 29 years of my priesthood, I have never experienced this situation and I have to admit I miss our congregation and our liturgy together very much.
Although we cannot participate in a Mass physically, we are not separated from the grace of God. In these times, you can watch Mass every day on our website www.stbrunochicago.org or on YouTube putting stbrunochicago.org or on a TV at EDTN. Channel 7 will broadcast mass celebrated by Cardinal Cupich on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. We can receive spiritual communion as well. These are the words of the prayer which may accompany this special act of Spiritual Communion:
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
As faithful, we find ourselves in a painful situation of being unable to confess in the presence of a priest. I remind you that it is possible to make an examination of conscience, to make an act of perfect contrition expressed in relation to God and containing a sincere desire to reconcile with the accompanying promise of confession, when such a possibility arises. Please, let us do this to be reconciled with God and neighbor for Easter.
We do not know how long this situation will last. Although we cannot worship together physically, we are a community of faithful, we are still parishioners of St. Bruno Parish. As a family, we pray for each other, especially for those who are not doing well in this time. Although St. Bruno cannot operate as usual, we still need to pay our bills. Therefore, I encourage you to continue to send your donations, either via U.S. Mail or drop off at the rectory mailbox or using DONATE icon and GiveCentral on our website.
May God bless us in these challenging times. I assure you that you are in my prayers, believing I am present in yours.
Fr. Tony - pastor
March 20, 2020
We had to live in a difficult time, when the whole world is struggling with the coronavirus, which first appeared in December 2019 at the market in Chinese Wuhan. Currently, a coronavirus that is spreading around the world designated as a pandemic. Many of us are asking: if the pandemic lasts longer, what next? People are losing their sources of income, opportunities to travel, they are afraid that the restrictions will be much bigger, that this will be a blow to our economy. In the history of humankind, there were many similar turmoil, wars, disasters, or other crises. Such things have happened to us and will occur. The conclusion is one: those who do not give in to pessimism win, who can accept the loss and accept that it can even be significant, but at the same time focus on what you can to restore what is possible, what can you secure in the future. Just like after the war, people rebuilt houses and bridges after the floods. We do not know how long this situation will last, maybe several months, maybe half a year or longer. There are more and more indications that the virus marked with the code COVID-19 will belong to the group of a rebel. When the plague was dragged from Asia to Europe in the mid-fourteenth century, its appearance looked like the fulfillment of the prophecies of Apocalypse of St. John. In individual parts of Europe, the epidemic killed 30 to 50 percent of the population. Thousands of villages and towns were like deserts. The situation was similar to the Spanish pandemic. An extremely virulent strain of influenza that appeared in 1918 and swept across the world killed 50,000 to 100 million people, according to various estimates. From the perspective of past epidemics, during which 30 to 80 percent of infected people died, Wuhan coronavirus behaves - you can say mildly. However, although statistically only about 3 percent patients die; its impact on destroying the existing order can be huge. What was available until now, all our everyday luxuries, have been taken away. You need to rearrange your life completely, and maybe even the hierarchy of values. You need to think and talk about what is happening now, only as much as necessary, and protect yourself from being immersed in danger all the time. Let's be up to date, but let's also lead a reasonably healthy life. Let's distinguish between what we have influence and what we don't have, and let's focus on the first one. After all, I have the impact that I will watch a movie. I will cook a soup, that I will talk to my loved ones. I suggest devoting this time to, for example, overdue work: general cleaning, reading books that have run out of time before, systematic physical exercises at home. But also, to devote this time to mutual conversation, joint work, prayer and meditation to be closer to God (it is possible to attend the Holy Mass on the Internet every day, which I celebrate on a weekday at 12 noon and on Sunday at 2 pm. All you need is enter stbrunochicago.org on YouTube). There are so many opportunities to get involved to relieve our psyche from anxiety, panic and worry. Calmness, not underestimating threats, looking for activity and meaning in the present as well as faith and hope that the crisis will pass - we need it most now. I am writing this letter to you on the day when we have the Gospel in Mass readings about the most important commandment, which is the commandment of love: One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord, our God, is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12: 28-34). In what sense is this commandment of love the first commandment? It's not just that it's the most important thing. The point is that it is fundamental; it must be first in everything we do, that it is the basis of everything we do. This priority of the commandment of love is not only about what we do, but why, from what motive, what is our direction, we take one or another action. It is essential! For what matters is not what we do or how much we do in life. What counts is what drives us, what is the fundamental motive of our actions. And are you sure that each of our deeds, our various deeds, really loves God and our neighbor? It is good to hear it in such a difficult time in which we are living today, during many regulations and lows: state authorities issue some, the second by sanitary institutions and the third by church authorities; this is not allowed, that is not permitted, and we are to do it: we are to stay at home, to receive Holy Communion on hands, no more than ten people can be gathered in the church, sit side by side at a distance of 6 feet. All these regulations and laws can be made without meaning, i.e., without love. And they can be made with this foundation, the priority of the commandment of love. It is only then that it makes sense, and we function in a completely different way if what motivates us, what enables us, what drives us towards others is love. In the spirit of this love, I am asking you, dear parishioners, for continued financial support for our parish, as before, before the coronavirus pandemic. But if possible, I am asking you at this time to increase your weekly contribution to St. Brunoâ€™s, if you are able to do so, say by an additional $5 more? Your weekly contribution can be mailed to or dropped off at the Rectory. The members of the Parish Finance Committee accepted my request for this at our last meeting of ours. There is also the possibility to do this through our parish website (www.stbrunochicago.org) by clicking on the DONATE icon and following the instructions given by the GiveCentral organization, who is facilitating this for us.
May good God bless us and keep us during these challenging times!
Fr. Tony — pastor