The Lord Has Done Great Things For Us

“The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” These words of realization and gratitude form our Psalm response this Lord’s Day. How important it is to take stock of the Lord’s active presence in our lives. How readily we forget the truth that more important than what we have accomplished for ourselves is what the Lord has done for us, often through the hands of others.

I invite you to try this exercise in your own lives. As an encouragement I am going to take some space in this weekend’s bulletin to bear witness to a number of gifts and graces received in the last few months:

+ Just this past weekend our parish received a precious first class relic of St. John Paul II. It was accompanied by a young American couple who have been touring through the United States to spread knowledge of the JPII Project and their patron (see more at www.jp2project.org). The relic—a bit of blood—came as a gift from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz who for many years served as the priest secretary of John Paul II. After numerous Masses this past weekend and visits to high schools, colleges and our own St. John Paul II School, I was very moved to realize how a saint is brought close through a relic, because it emphasizes how they were flesh and blood. What an impetus, forty years after his election, for all of us to discover and rediscover the abiding legacy of John Paul II’s pontificate. In due time we will look to more permanently locate the relic at Holy Cross church in a secure and fitting location for veneration. Our thanks are with Joe and Corinne MacDonald and their two young daughters who were such wonderful witnesses to us of the joy of family life during their stay. May they go with God—Idź z Bogiem!

+ Speaking of all things Polish and other gifts that might have been noticed, two beautiful oil paintings have been hung in Kolbe Hall which were a gift from the estate of Joseph Migala, the late Polish Broadcasting executive and community leader who settled in the Chicago area. The two paintings give a window into the beautiful medieval city of Krakow. A number of smaller artistic gifts from his estate also adorn our parish rectory. Thanks to Krista Dinges who gifted these beautiful treasures as a reminder of the deep Polish heritage of our parish.

+ Thanks are due to those who offered such warm hospitality on a brisk Sunday morning last weekend for the first Pancake Breakfast of the school year. The food and fellowship were tremendous and I appreciate the dedication of our NE Holy Name Society, other parish volunteers and our JPII school children and families for making it such a great event for a great cause. If you missed it, or are already hoping for the next one, there will be another similar breakfast in January to benefit St. John Paul II School!

+ God is indeed powerfully at work in our midst. Some of the most profound occasions of graces for our parish are the hidden sacramental encounters of Christ and penitents in confession. While rejoicing that people are responding to the more robust confession schedule we have been seeking to provide, we need to make a couple of adjustments due to scheduling challenges. Beginning in November, confessions at St. Clement will be heard at 10 am ONLY on the 3rd Sunday of the month. We are however adding confessions at 5 pm each First Friday of the month prior to the 5:45 pm Mass, which beginning in November will only be offered on First Fridays. The Lord’s grace for healing, forgiveness and spiritual growth is on offer in abundance. Keep coming! There is no need to wait until Advent or Lent to profit from the Sacrament of Penance.

+ Some of our greatest causes for gratitude are the feast days of the Church’s liturgical year. Certainly in my first year of service in this parish, among my highlights have been celebrating the Holy Days and Sacred Seasons together. This coming week we have a two-fold invitation to joy and prayer in the Holy Day of Obligation on Thursday, the Solemnity of All Saints and on Friday the sacred Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. See the bulletin for the variety of Mass times across our campuses. To round out those two special days, we will celebrate a Mass of Remembrance with a lighting of candles for our departed loved ones at Holy Cross at the 5:30 pm Mass on Saturday, November 3. At 7 pm that evening a fall sacred choral concert led by an ensemble of young singers called Flos Florum will take place at Holy Cross church. They are back by popular demand this year and their repertoire will focus on the somber and moving music of the Requiem Mass and other prayerful polyphonic meditations on the mystery of death and our hope in eternal life. Admission is free, no tickets are necessary, but a free will offering will be taken up after the concert.

+ We remember with great gratitude all of those from our parish and from among our family and friends who have passed during this past year. In a particular way we continue to remember Fr. Don Schwalm and more recently, Sr. M. Gwendolin Koniar, OSF, two servants of the Lord in priesthood and religious life. While Sr. Gwendolin’s funeral already took placed in Sylvania, Ohio, a Memorial Mass for her will be celebrated at St. Hedwig church on Saturday, November 10 at 10:30 am. Indeed, even as we mourn our beloved dead, we can marvel at the great things the Lord has done for us through His gift of them to us.

+ Even as our marriage season more or less comes to a close for the winter, we are grateful that the Lord has sent along a new group of young people who this weekend begin their formation as a cohort of engaged couples. Our prayers are with them and those who have entered into Holy Matrimony throughout this past year.

As I take stock of the last couple of months, these are just a few reasons to acknowledge the great things the Lord has done and is doing in our midst.

God bless,

Fr. Howe

P.S. Many things are coming up in the next few weeks at Holy Cross. Keep an eye on the bulletin for details on what not to miss. Continuing on our momentum from our summer youth nights, one particular invitation I would like to extend to high school youth (grades 9-12) is for an evening of fun, food and a bonfire on Saturday, November 17 at Holy Cross after the 5:30 pm evening Mass at Holy Cross, or about 6:30-9 pm. There is no cost to attend, but please RSVP with Madeline at the parish office.