FATHER KEVIN'S "CORNER": a weblog (blog)

Sunday Scriptures HERE!

Fr. Kevin's chronological entries are found after Stable Links for Ongoing Reference.

Fr. Kevin announces: Tuesday, August 4, 2020:

I have received several indications that COVID-19 is "coming home." If you have been tempted to think that it is a matter of fantasy, think again. Cases are up in "central" Illinois -- think Springfield and Decatur. My classmate, Father Joe Molloy, pastor of Decatur Holy Family and dean of the Decatur Deanery, has tested positive; he is in quarantine for a few days and reports fatigue and a loss of senses of smell and taste. In Pana, the pastor has suspended public Masses. Please, for the common good, continue to take precautions.

Please note the above link to reflections on Sunday Scriptures. (I regret that they are not up-to-date.)

I have updated one of the "stable links" below. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a new website, and a new address for daily Mass readings.

CONFESSIONS: Saturday 1:00-2:00 pm at St. James; Saturday 2:30-3:30 pm at St. Jerome. PUBLIC AND LIVE-STREAMED MASSES CONTINUE: Saturday 4:00 pm at St. Jerome; 5:30 pm at St. James. RSVPs for public Masses ARE NO LONGER NEEDED! Sunday 8:30 am live-streamed Mass; Holy Communion 10:00-11:00 am in the parking lots of each church. I will keep offering Masses at home Monday through Friday, fulfilling scheduled Mass intentions. See Facebook.

Anointing of the sick: Anointing is to be administered primarily in case of danger of death. My parishioners may call upon me to administer anointing: 217.494.2555.



Our Sunday bulletin || Our live stream of Mass || Daily Mass Readings || New York Times Free Coverage || Cases in the U.S. (NYT) || Johns Hopkins Covid-19 Map || Coronavirus Pandemic in Illinois (Wikipedia) || "Five Ways to Follow the Coronavirus Outbreak for Any Metro Area in the U.S." || An Act of Spiritual Communion || Diocese || Resources from USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) || Illinois Department of Public Health || Pope Francis's Masses: found each day under "News" || Holy See Press Office || Live Streams of Mass Around the Diocese || My Sunday Homilies since 2005



Thursday, August 27, 2020

Race Conversations: Implicit Bias is a free webinar, coming up Thursday, September 10.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul has amazing architecture and an astonishing history. Read about a decision which changes its status.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

It was 123 years ago today that Father Augustus Tolton died. If you don't know about this most famous figure in the history of the local Church of Springfield in Illinois, who was declared "the Venerable" last year, his Wikipedia page is a good starting point.

I also recommend The Commonweal Podcast with Father Bryan Massingale.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

So: there are warnings that people in churches, synagogues and mosques are letting their guard down. The New York Times reports today that there are dire results. You know that I disagree with those, quoted in this report, who believe that their religious freedom is being curtailed. Furthermore, I disagree with the fatalism of the person last quoted, who forgets that it is not simply a matter of his getting Covid, but of others getting it from him.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Well. I've been away from this page for two weeks! I can't let that happen again.

To those who are looking for my reflections on the upcoming Sunday Scriptures: the page is now up to date.

So, we continue to safeguard one another's health. We are sticking with the schedule of the past few weeks. We are working toward a good livestream experience in the parish churches, since it appears that livestreamed Masses will continue for the benefit of those who cannot get to church. This weekend is our annual "Mission Co-op" Appeal. The Pallottine Fathers are this year's community chosen for us by the Diocese. I will be reading the appeal. We may think that we are helping to build schools in Zambia, and indeed that is the object of this year's appeal. But keep in mind that in our diocese we have several Pallottine Fathers serving as pastors in our parishes! So we help, but we also are helped!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

I am sorry to be failing to put in a number of "signs of life" here. I would like to stress again that I am providing reflections on the upcoming Sunday Scriptures. The link is here.

I feel inundated with new happenings as people reflect on the reality of racism. Especially interesting to me was the report that Merriam-Webster will be updating their definition of racism: story here.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Well, I have been absent from this space for a while. Keep practicing safe habits!

Saturday, May 30, 2020

My sister Kathy Yates is assistant principal of the Risen Christ School, which is co-sponsored by five Minneapolis Catholic parishes, serves mainly the children of immigrants from Mexico and Central America, and is located just three blocks from the corner where the George Floyd incident took place. Many school families live in the area where rioting has taken place.

St. Jerome Parish has sent a gift of $500 from the Outreach Fund to the Risen Christ School, to aid school families affected by the outbreak of violence.

This is what our school president shared with our broader community today.

From: Michael Rogers
Date: May 29, 2020 at 4:42:20 PM CDT
To: All RCCS
Subject: Lifting our community up in prayer / Levantando a nuestra comunidad en oración

Dear Teachers/Staff,

Like many of you, my heart is breaking for our community. As if a global pandemic, mass unemployment and other stressors were not enough, we've now witnessed the horrific death of George Floyd in our own neighborhood, just three blocks from Risen Christ Catholic School. 

The resulting protests and destruction along Lake Street in Minneapolis as people express their anger has been difficult to watch and some members of our community are experiencing this in a very personal way.

I live just a few blocks north of University Ave in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, near where it intersects with Hamline. Last night I saw smoke from burning buildings rising above my neighborhood. Helicopters and sirens were constant, along with occasional booming sounds and possible gunshots.

And yet several blocks insulate my family from the destruction and we wear a coat of white privilege. As a white male I see the police as people who will protect me. But many in our community live in fear of those who are in uniform - whether it be ICE, police, or others.

I will never forget, several years ago, hearing about a Risen Christ student who burst into tears when a police officer visited to speak with his class. He was afraid that the officer would take him and his family away. 

Try as I might, I will never fully understand how that feels.

The toxic stress that many members of our community already experience is now made worse by the destruction taking place along Lake Street where many of them live. We know of one family who is now homeless after their apartment building was burned to the ground on Wednesday evening. Other families have evacuated their homes in search of safety. I suspect there are other traumas we will gradually become aware of in the coming days. 

If you personally need anything, or are aware of students/families who need support, please let me (or any member of the school Leadership team) know as soon as possible. Risen Christ is blessed to have resources from generous supporters to assist those who are in crisis. 

The Archbishop would like you to know that he is praying for the Risen Christ community. Let us join him in raising one another, our students and our families up in prayer. 

Faith, human dignity, justice and peace are at the core of Catholic social teaching. It is these universal values that will see us through. 

God bless you and stay safe,
Michael Rogers, President
Risen Christ Catholic School
1120 East 37th St | Minneapolis, MN 55407
612-822-5329 | risenchristschool.org
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¡Dos idiomas, muchas culturas, infinitas posibilidades!
Two languages, many cultures, infinite possibilities!
From the pastor of my sister’s parish, St. Joan of Arc:

From:  Fr. Jim DeBruycker
                                            May 29, 2020

I’m writing this letter three days after the brutal death of George Floyd and quite honestly I still don’t have the words to deal with it. The video I watched on television showing the police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck plays over and over in my head and it is just incomprehensible. That someone can use his police power to such cruel excess that he kills another human leaves me dazed and shocked.

How – and why - have we come to the point where it’s thought to be okay for some to use color and/or power to show that they are better and in charge?  If you are not of that color you are the lesser. 

When did it become okay to be so angry that kneeling on a man’s neck seems to be the right way to show our power and exert our control? I don’t know the answers but we have seen this play out almost forever and it is getting worse. It’s a flagrant injustice that has to stop and somehow we have to be part of the solution that makes things better – somehow!

It’s my contention that we will solve this injustice by first of all not accepting it. Change will come from people who start by talking to one another. This coming Tuesday, June 2, from 6 to 7 pm, Cynthia Bailey Manns and Julie Madden along with other SJA staff will hold a prayer service online. They will be praying for George Floyd, his loved ones and our city. If you want to participate, call Julie at the Parish Center, 612-823-8205. It’s a place to start the change.

In addition to Mr. Floyd’s death this week we also received a note from our friend, Rabbi Michael Latz, from Shir Tikvah Congregation. He wrote about the graffiti that was found on the bus stop at Shir Tikvah’s corner. Someone had painted swastikas on the bus stop bench and Nazi slogans on the utility case next to the bench. While there was no damage or graffiti on the Shir Tikvah building, such graffiti indicates the hatred and bigotry that they face while trying to be a community of peace. 

Michael closes his note by saying “.. we join with you to work for a day when all human beings everywhere can live and breathe, especially our beloved family of color”. I join with Michael in that hope and commitment. It’s at the core of why SJA pledges to be an anti-racist church.

My prayers are for George Floyd, his family as well as our hurt and suffering city.  Also, I pray that you are safe and well.


Fr. Jim DeBruycker

Friday, May 29, 2020, 6:00 pm

I have drafted a statement on "re-opening" which will appear in today's email to parishioners. You can also view my reading of the statement.

Friday, May 29, 2020, 10:07 am

"I'm going into a zoom meeting then school. I'll see how everything is landing today. Yesterday's concerns have been addressed, today will bring more."

This is the latest from my sister, Kathy Yates. She is assistant principal of the Risen Christ School, co-sponsored by five Minneapolis parishes, and located just three blocks from where the George Floyd incident occurred. Yesterday she told me she was "scrambling" because many school families live in the area where the rioting has taken place. The Risen Christ School is completely bilingual; most students are from families that have migrated from Mexico and Central America.

I am in the process of drafting a statement for the Illinois Conference of Churches. It will be posted on our Facebook page when we have finalized it.

Thursday, May 28, 2020, 3:44 pm

I just finished a meeting with the Leadership Team of the Illinois Conference of Churches (including Gary and Galda McCants). I texted my sister in Minneapolis and it turns out she is quite close (in a number of ways) to the situation. My sister Kathy tells me that the killing of George Floyd took place on a busy corner just three blocks from the Risen Christ School, a completely bilingual school, where she is co-principal. "The area of the city where the riots occurred," she tells me, "is home to many school families and we are scrambling to support them."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

My personal website, kevinlaughery.com, is 24 years old and it has some good things on it. In recent years, I have not had much of an opportunity to keep it updated. And it needs to be updated, particularly in its prime feature, the liturgical calendars through 2038. I had always used a text editor, even as I use a text editor for this blog. Updates are tedious; there have been a number of updates to the liturgical calendars; and life happens in the meantime.

The company that hosts my personal website has migrated it to a new system which includes tools which will be very helpful to me. The HTML editor and the code editor will allow me to make changes more easily, so my calendars, and a number of other pages, will soon be updated and looking better. But it's a hobby, so the changes will be gradual. Still, there are some good things to read on my site; I particularly recommend my 1992 talk on the Second Vatican Council, which I think has held up well over the decades.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Today we remember St. Philip Neri, who instituted the joyful practice of the Seven-Church Walk in Rome during Lent.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

On September 30, 2019, the 1599th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome, Pope Francis issued a motu proprio designating the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as the "Sunday of the Word of God."

Friday, May 22, 2020 EXTRA 3 pm

There's been some confusion about what churches are doing this weekend. We are seeking to practice the great commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself" and stick with necessary health precautions. Holy Communion will be available this Sunday in accord with the arrangements of last Sunday.

Friday, May 22, 2020

A number of diocese and bishop changes have taken place in recent days. The Diocese of Juneau has merged with the Archdiocese of Anchorage to become the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau. There's a new bishop for Belleville, and a new coadjutor bishop with right of succession for Peoria. You can keep track of all such changes by consulting Catholic-Hierarchy.org.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

In 2000, most provinces of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops transferred the Ascension from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. So no "holy day of obligation" has occurred here on Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter for over 20 years. In any event, the current dispensation from attending Mass applies to the five other holy days besides the prime holy day, Sunday.

The state of Illinois is the Province of Chicago. The provinces which did not transfer the Ascension, but still observe it on the Thursday noted above, are Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia. A "province" is a group of dioceses with an archdiocese in it. The Archbishop of Chicago is the "metropolitan" of the "province" of Chicago (composed of the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Dioceses of Rockford, Joliet, Peoria, Springfield and Belleville -- coterminous with the state of Illinois).

It seemed to have disappeared for a while, but it is back! -- the CDC guidelines for "re-opening."

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Recommended obituaries: Ken Osmond and Annie Glenn.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Sunday, May 24, 2020
(End of Civil Week 21)
Ascension of the Lord
Acts 1: 1-11/ Ps 47: 2-3. 6-7. 8-9 (6)/ Eph 1: 17-23/ Mt 28: 16-20

Imagine trying to explain to someone utterly unfamiliar with Christianity our beliefs concerning our Savior. We say that he died, and yet he rose from the dead. The listener might ask us: “Where is he now?” and we find ourselves saying that he ascended to the right hand of the Father, his rightful place. Would our listener be inclined to conclude that the Christian mystery is full of flim-flam? Would such a person suppose that the “convenient” absence of the Son of God is a figleaf for a lack of integrity in our faith?

We understand that the physical absence of Jesus is a necessary element of our faith which introduces us to the idea that all Christians, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are called to form the Body of Christ in this world. It is, of course, more challenging to see the Body of Christ in all believers instead of in a person who bears the marks of crucifixion and yet lives. But this is, in fact, our situation. Jesus rightfully rules from the heavenly throne, and we are called to be the Body of Christ in the midst of this world, in the world’s contradictions and incompleteness.

Every year on the Ascension, we read the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles with its account of Jesus’ being taken up, followed by the exhortation to Jesus’ followers to stop “looking up at the sky” and get busy with sharing their faith in Jesus. And so it must be for us. We must understand Jesus’ ascension as one step in the entire movement of salvation. Jesus is, rightly, at “the right hand of the Father,” and the Holy Spirit brings believers together into the mystical Body of Christ.

It is easy for the lector to start off wrong with the first reading. It must be understood that Luke, in writing his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, uses the literary device of addressing one Theophilus (“lover of God”). When Luke mentions “the first book” he is referring to the Gospel. Many lectors phrase this first line in such a way that it seems that “Theophilus” is the name of the first book. This is yet another case in which we see that a failure to understand the Scripture leads to an inability to proclaim it.

The opening of Acts expresses the disciples’ anxiety over the establishment of Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus must explain that an immediate consolidation and completion of said Kingdom is not coming; instead, the disciples, having received the Holy Spirit and having become apostles, will carry out the task of spreading the Christian faith throughout the world. The described forty-day period of post-resurrection appearances may have a symbolic connection with Jesus’ own forty-day preparation for his ministry. Jesus describes a movement, with the Good News spreading from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to “the ends of the earth,” an apparent reference to Rome, where in fact the narrative of Acts ends. “The ends of the earth” anticipates Acts 13: 47, which cites the second Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah, with its prophecy of a mission to all nations.

Psalm 47, with its mention of “God going up,” is associated with all three sets of readings for the Ascension. The Old Testament image was of the Ark of the Covenant being given its rightful place “up” in Jerusalem. As much as we are influenced in our own day by the awareness that God is not literally “up” somewhere, we limited beings yet harbor a visceral sense of both terror and exaltation as we experience some manner of “ascension.” In both 1972 and 1992, I walked the suspension bridge over Royal Gorge, Colorado, 955 feet above the Arkansas River; the simple memory of being on that bridge can induce fright. We may imagine our God rightfully occupying a high, exalted place, and allowing us to accompany him, all the while knowing that we are safe in the presence of the Exalted One.

The Ephesians passage includes imagery of the risen Jesus being “seated at [the Father’s] right hand in the heavens.” This is an image of “glorification.” The mention of “every principality, authority, power and dominion” refers to supposed angelic and demonic power, thought to impede a direct relation between God and people. The putting of “all things under his feet” alludes to the exaltation of humanity as described in Psalm 8.

The conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel does not narrate an ascension scene such as we find at the beginning of Acts or at the conclusion of Mark or Luke. It does present, however, a commissioning of those who became Apostles. “I am with you always” is the necessary response to anyone who would suppose something suspect in the “absence” of Jesus. Indeed, Jesus is to be encountered in the multiplicity of interactions among the people who bear his name.

If we are looking up into the sky, we must awaken from our reverie. The Ascension of the Lord bids us examine more closely the Son of God’s gracious presence in the Body he is bringing together in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, May 15, 2020/ updated June 9, 2020

Our churches have been cleared to re-open. Confessions have resumed at the regular times, and at slightly different places: St. James Sat. 1:00 to 2:00 pm, meeting room (west door), St. Jerome Sat. 2:30 to 3:30 pm, former Blessed Sacrament chapel. Sunday, June 14, 8:00 to 9:00 pm, St. Jerome Church, Eucharistic adoration resumes.

Bishop Paprocki has granted permission for parishes to offer Holy Communion Outside of Mass beginning this weekend. Fr. Kevin attended a deanery meeting to discuss the safest and most realistic way to implement this opportunity. It is important to remind everyone that the dispensation from obligation to attend mass remains in place and no one is obligated to physically receive Holy Communion. All individuals who fall into a vulnerable or high risk category are encouraged to continue safe quarantine practices as they have been; the Act of Spiritual Communion is still recommended. For those who do desire to receive Holy Communion, we offer the following plan:

· “Attend” mass virtually through FB Live or another live-stream option in prayerful preparation for reception of Holy Communion.

· Communion Ministers will be available at both St Jerome and St James from 10:00 – 11:00 am on Sunday, May 17.

· Upon arrival please watch for visual cues regarding parking and location of the (E)MHC. We are relying on reverence and common sense to make this work and keep it safe for everyone. There will be a brief and familiar prayer exchange before and after communion. Please allow for one individual/family to receive, pray, and walk away before you begin your approach.

· All recommended precautions should be taken including appropriate social distancing and the wearing of face masks up until the moment of reception. Do not congregate in the parking lot. The church building will be locked.

We believe this process will evolve week to week as we take the slow steps to return to celebrating mass together. We will be working out any challenges and thank everyone in advance for their patience as we do so. Updates will continue to be communicated via the parish website, email and the parish FB page.

Collection baskets will be available for those who wish to bring their weekly contributions in person.

Also, Fr. Kevin will be available for confessions at the regular times: 1:00 to 2:00 pm at St. James (west door), and 2:30 to 3:30 pm at St. Jerome (former Blessed Sacrament chapel, off narthex).

Thursday, May 14, 2020

I originally said that my thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings would be posted on Tuesday (in keeping with our parish schedule for "Breaking Open the Word"). I'm running behind this week, but here are my thoughts in preparation for this Sunday:

May 17, 2020
(End of Civil Week 20)
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 8: 5-8. 14-17/ Ps 66: 1-3. 4-5. 6-7. 16. 20/ 1 Pt 3: 15-18/ Jn 14: 15-21

In the summer of 1976, following my first year of seminary, I was taking census in a parish of my diocese, and it may have been on the very first day of my work that I ran into a woman who was very insistent upon baptism’s being done “in Jesus’ name.” Although I have read a great deal since then on the topic of “Jesus-only” baptism, I have not met any more proponents of this form of baptism. I recall reading that Pentecostals, in their interactions with Protestants, by the 1920s were acceding to the general Protestant expectation that baptism be done with the Trinitarian formula. Even with this expectation of uniformity in the formula used for baptism, it is interesting to read that John Chrysostom and other early theologians allowed for baptism in Jesus’ name. The reasoning is that the name of Jesus represents the whole Trinity.

Today’s passage from Acts describes the early Christians’ mission to the Samaritans. There existed some Samaritans who were favorably disposed toward Christianity, but their understanding of the faith had to be corrected by the apostolic intervention of Peter and John; the contact which the evangelist Philip (one of “the seven” of Acts 6) made with them was not sufficient for the establishment of apostolic communion.

This passage is a confrontation with the complexity of the sacramental system in light of the mystery of the Holy Spirit. We know well that our theology of the sacrament of confirmation is bound up with the ambiguity of the relation of the Holy Spirit to baptism. As I tell people I am preparing for confirmation, the Holy Spirit was certainly not absent at baptism; we recognize, however, that confirmation is for the sake of orienting our personal gifts, through the Holy Spirit, toward the kingdom of God.

The passage from First Peter speculates on the ideal attitude of the Christian when people are interrogating her about her faith. We Christians are to witness to our faith through the serenity of our lives. The hope is expressed that the genuineness of Christian witness might be, for those hostile to the faith, a point which they find themselves compelled to ponder in light of their own lives. First Peter continues with a discussion of what Jesus did in the time between his death and his resurrection. Our passage today halts with the observation that Jesus, “put to death in the flesh … was brought to life in the spirit.” Verses 19-22, not included in our passage, describes Jesus “preach[ing] to the spirits in prison” — that is, all the righteous of Old Testament times. I am reminded of dinner-table discussions in seminary regarding “Limbo I” (for Old Testament figures) and “Limbo II” (supposed destination of unbaptized babies). Many theologians have speculated on what was happening between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It seems to me that one of the most important things we can reflect upon is the fact that the conquest of sin and death came about because of Jesus’ submission to these evils. “Put to death” and “brought to life,” of course, emphasize this very thing. All the more, then, might the Christian be at peace in a serene witness to the Savior who has accomplished everything for us through loving endurance.

The command to love is easily misunderstood. It may well be that there is some cognitive dissonance between the experience of love and the idea of a command. There is a well-known distinction drawn by Catholics: that there is no imperative to like everyone, while we are called upon to love everyone. Saint Teresa of Calcutta is supposed to have said that we are called not to love everyone but rather to love one’s neighbor, which is itself a sufficiently difficult task. To explore the cognitive dissonance: we understand love, the feeling, to be a natural attraction, as opposed to love, the virtue, which is a less-than-natural obligation to be lived out. The popular distinction between liking and loving goes a long way toward resolving, in one’s mind, the apparent contradiction between the feeling and the virtue. We like what we are attracted to; but we love in accord with values which transcend mere attraction or revulsion. People every day carry out commands which are of an external character: we do our jobs in the way we are directed, because we are so directed. Our inner dispositions receive little weight or consideration. When, however, we put “command” and “love” together, we see that we are called to a standard which is more demanding than the mere external execution of someone’s directions. When we observe prominent people acting essentially according to narcissism — that is, professing to like or love only people who are appealing to them, who are not “losers” — we develop an appreciation for the radical nature of Jesus’ command to love. We are to love as Jesus has loved us. Every one of us is a “loser” in his sight, since we are, at first, estranged from God. He chose to love us losers. And this awareness of the nature of Jesus’ love for us challenges us to perceive the beauty of the relationships which are set up by the virtue of patience, which must always accompany love.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Today is the 39th anniversary of the attempt on the life of John Paul II in St. Peter's Square. May 13 was also a Wednesday in 1981. I can remember, that afternoon, working on a paper for a theology seminar and preparing to be cantor at our evening Mass at the North American College (very close to St. Peter's Square) when I heard something unusual on a radio in someone's room. The Pope had been shot at 5:17 pm. We went into our 6:30 pm Mass not knowing whether he was dead or alive. Many of us kept a vigil in the TV room of the College, and by morning we had word that a lengthy surgery had been successful.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

OK, the priests of the Alton Deanery have met, and I have processed their directions with the staff of the parishes. So on Sundays, May 17 and 24, we will do the following:

Communion ministers will be available at both churches from 10:00 to 11:00 am. To be more precise, we will be in the parking lots, weather permitting. We ask that, if you intend to receive Communion, you first view a Sunday Mass, either our 8:30 am livestream, or any other Mass online or on television. We ask that you wear a mask and in other ways observe what we might call "supermarket practice." Lower your mask at the point of receiving Communion. We will pray together briefly and then you can be on your way.

I stress that no one is required to receive Communion. We have developed a discipline of self-isolation over the past several weeks, and we have done so for a very grave reason. Remember the great commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself" and keep the health of the world at the forefront of everything you do. Do not come to Communion if you have any risk factors, or if you are not feeling well.

After two Sundays of this practice, the priests of the deanery will evaluate this provision for Holy Communion to the faithful.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monday is my day off.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Today is the 56th anniversary of my First Holy Communion. Every 28 years, the calendar lines up, so my First Holy Communion was on Sunday, May 10, 1964.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Thanks again to Janet Doyle! This is a new, topical take on the aria Nessun Dorma from Puccini's opera Turandot.

Friday, May 8, 2020

OK, I have received Bishop Paprocki's directives. I am taking several hours to absorb them. Tomorrow I will discuss these directives with the Dean (Fr. Goeckner) and the staff. We have no start dates as yet for even a partial re-opening.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

I am expecting from the Diocese some sort of direction toward a partial re-opening. While we wait, here's a report about the concerns of churches across the country.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Do you think things are strange here? Take a look at the border between the Netherlands and Belgium.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Do you remember when I said that we ought to have a coronavirus piñata, so we could beat it? Read this.

Upcoming Sunday readings:

May 10, 2020
(End of Civil Week 19)
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 6: 1-7/ Ps 33: 1-2. 4-5. 18-19 (22)/ 1 Pt 2: 4-9/ Jn 14: 1-12

Today, finally, we hear the stirring words of First Peter, 2: 9, regarding the identity which comes to believers as a result of being adopted by our loving God. I am puzzled by the omission of verse 10 from today’s passage, which I believe resonates with anyone who has been so fortunate as to reach a personal appropriation of Christian faith. “Once you were no people” alludes to Hosea 1: 9 and 2: 23. I smile inwardly over the fact that the Hebrew for “no people,” Lo-ammi, is the name of a town (Loami, Illinois) in one of my old parishes. Locally there are some folk etymologies: either it refers to the rich loam of the soil, or it should be rendered “Low am I.” I shudder inwardly over the meaning of being a “no-people,” in the sense that a “no-people” does not belong to God or anyone.

Regarding the passage as presented today: We have an invitation to come to the Lord Jesus. He is described as “the living stone, rejected by men,” and we are called likewise to be living stones. Imagination can run wild with the implications of being living stones. Presumably they form a union which is deeper and more reliable than a simple juxtaposition of hard, dead objects. First Peter proceeds to the images of “a spiritual house,” “a holy priesthood,” “a chosen race,” “a royal priesthood,” “a holy nation,” “a people for his possession.” A commentary says that these images “designate … a unity transcending all other barriers and distinctions.” The emergence from being no-people to being God’s people is a transition “from darkness into light.”

The Acts of the Apostles presents a practical problem faced by the infant Church. This problem arose precisely because the Body of Christ, from its very beginning, crossed boundaries of all kinds, including nationality and language. (Jim Wallis, in America’s Original Sin [2015], provides a very perceptive discussion of the barrier-breaking character of the Christian phenomenon.) This practical problem highlighted the boundary between Hebrew- and Greek-speakers. The Christian “Way” was fundamentally inclusive, but the process of inclusion and integration could not help but be an occasion for friction. A commentary: “In effect, [this controversy] remotely foreshadows the emancipation of the Church from Palestinian Judaism.” Commentators differ on whether the term Hellenist in this context refers to Greek-speaking Jews or Greeks, plain and simple. “The Seven” are not explicitly called deacons, although diaconal service is their function. We do find a hint of an establishment of the threefold “holy orders” of bishop, presbyter (elder), and deacon. All of the Seven have Greek names. Stephen is introduced as being “filled with faith and the Holy Spirit” in preparation for the account of the martyrdom he soon would suffer. Philip is distinct from the apostle of the same name. It is unclear whether the “laying on of hands” was carried out by the Apostles or the entire community.

How do we know the way? John 14: 1-12 is an especially profound portion of the discourses which are placed by John at the Last Supper. These discourses focus on the “glorification” of Jesus. Since Judas has departed from the Last Supper, the wheels are in motion for the events which will lead to Jesus’ death/ glorification. Jesus speaks as already glorified, and he turns to the heavenly destination which he prepares for his friends. The “many dwelling places” refer to the inclusiveness of God’s eternal kingdom; there is no basis for supposing that these refer to degrees of reward or closeness to God. He assures the Apostles that his departure from them is only for a time, and is for the sake of their being definitively united. When he tells them that “you know the way,” he is of course referring to his way of suffering, which is most difficult for these men to grasp.

We leave it to blunt-speaking Thomas to express the confusion of all. Suffering and death hardly seem to be a way leading anywhere. “I am the way and the truth and the life” carries with it allusions to Jesus’ “I am” of the sixth chapter of John, while “truth” and “life” resonate with the Prologue of the Gospel. Jesus goes on to affirm that, in himself, they have seen God the Father. Philip responds in a way which makes it clear that these men are, as it were, still gazing at a featureless brick wall. Says a commentary: “Philip asks for some kind of extraordinary manifestation, but he must learn that the only vision of God vouchsafed in this world is through Jesus Christ.” Jesus stresses his union with the Father.

We Catholic Christians remain ever grateful for the clarifications of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate on the fact that our Savior carries out his work of salvation in ways which are not necessarily clear to us. I am also grateful for a theology professor who impressed upon me that Jesus’ very act of taking on human flesh is itself an act of personal union with every human being and, therefore, a way of affirming that a human life lived with openness toward the true and the good is a possible opening onto salvation. All that we Christians can do — keeping in mind as well Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae — is to live in ways consistent with what we profess, that human freedom may have something genuine to respond to. Jesus is indeed the Way. How a given individual follows that Way is often beyond our capacity to examine.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Monday is my day off.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Where has Father Kevin been the last couple of days? I have to acknowledge that I have lately gotten sick of looking at screens.

This blog is now quite lengthy, and I am planning shortly to start to archive blog posts. You will see links to an archive before long.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Short story: "The Night We All Had Grippe" by Shirley Jackson.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Fascinating discussion of the difficulties of serious communication on Zoom.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

I have received a request, from readers of this blog, to present some information on the Sunday Scriptures. As it happens, many years ago I received permission from my publisher in Quincy to reproduce for my parishioners the "background" of the Sunday Scriptures. Since, in our parishes, we have traditionally held to a rhythm (with "Breaking Open the Word") of preparation for the upcoming Sunday on Tuesday, I am presenting today last Sunday's Scriptures (about which specific questions were asked) and also those of the upcoming Sunday.

April 26, 2020
(End of Civil Week 17)
Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 2: 14. 22-33/ Ps 16: 1-2. 5. 7-8. 9-10. 11 (11a)/ 1 Pt 1: 17-21/ Lk 24: 13-35

The Gospel gives us what, in my estimation, is the most moving of the post-resurrection appearances: the encounter between two disciples and a stranger on the road to Emmaus. We remember that this incident is referred to in Mark at 16: 12. These disciples, although they have a goal in mind for their journey, are nevertheless completely disoriented because of the loss of their Master. We know practically nothing of Emmaus beyond this mention in Luke’s Gospel. The two disciples have it in mind to go to this place, although the text of Luke reveals nothing about any particular people they might have been intending to meet there. A commentary points out parallels between this incident and the deacon Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8: 26-40) in their shared process of uncovering the meaning of certain Scriptures having to do with Jesus.

They are walking with a place in mind, but they have no compass, since Jesus, on whom they had pinned all their hopes, is no more. We might imagine that these two disciples had been feeling that there was no need for them — their hopes having been dashed — to remain with the other followers of Jesus.

And then they meet a stranger. They explain to the stranger the hopes they had placed in Jesus, and express how dispirited they are. They describe to the stranger the extent of their faith in Jesus; they looked upon him as a “prophet” and as “the one who would set Israel free.” They do not know what to make of the reports that Jesus was seen alive.

The stranger proceeds to explain that the one in whom they placed their hopes had to be a suffering servant, and explains how the Scriptures point to this reality. Certainly the Scriptures alluded to by the stranger must have included the “Suffering Servant Songs” of Isaiah, not to mention many Psalms, such as 22 and 88.

The idea of the “suffering servant” is, of course, a pivotal idea, and also a challenge to the notion, held even to this day, that a “messiah” must usher in an age in which all the circumstances of human existence change from struggle to ease. Whereas in Judaism, a Messiah must bring an age of peace, in Christianity — in a way which is in keeping with our “incarnational” emphasis, that is, our awareness of the companionship of Jesus with human nature in its imperfection — we affirm a Messiah who is active in a world which is yet in transition and manifests traits of the sinful and the graced.

It could be said that the disciples have experienced a “Liturgy of the Word” thanks to the stranger; then they break bread together and they experience a “Liturgy of the Eucharist.” They recognize that the stranger is Jesus, and he disappears; but they realize that he is present in the breaking of the bread. They return to Jerusalem as the followers of Jesus offer one another their various witnesses to the fact that Jesus is alive and has triumphed over sin and death. A commentary offers this note on “he vanished”: “Is this phrase … a liturgical addition to the effect that Jesus’ miraculous appearance is hardly necessary when one has his presence in the Eucharist?”

The passage from Acts, giving us events chronologically before the “summary” of last week (and note that the Scriptural order is reversed from last week), gives us a portion of Peter’s first preaching after the Pentecost event. The commentary on this portion of Peter’s sermon is quite complex. Among the issues: the citation of Joel 3: 5 (omitted from the Lectionary passage) and Luke’s originality in using this text in this context; the use of the accusation against Jews for having had Jesus put to death (which has, of course, contributed to Christian-initiated acrimony against the Jews of our day); concerns over Luke’s non-use of the formula “for our sins” in describing the saving work of Jesus; and the use of Psalm 16 (today’s responsorial psalm) to indicate a premonition of Jesus’ resurrection. A note in the New American Bible, Revised Edition lists Acts 2: 14-36 as “the first of six discourses in Acts (along with Acts 3: 12–26; 4: 8–12; 5: 29–32; 10: 34–43; 13: 16–41) dealing with the resurrection of Jesus and its messianic import.” The NABRE continues: “Five of these are attributed to Peter, the final one to Paul. Modern scholars term these discourses in Acts the ‘kerygma,’ the Greek word for proclamation (cf. 1 Cor 15: 11).”

First Peter bids us consider what sort of treasure really matters to human beings. We live in times in which great wealth is considered a sign of some sort of human quality in those who amass such wealth — never mind that many such people reveal, in their own speech and actions, great crassness when it comes to evaluating human beings. Today’s passage sets up a contrast between the “wealth” supposed to be found in silver and gold, and the pricelessness of “the precious blood of Christ.” We are called to consider how precious the virtue of love is. Love, expressed in the bond of parent and child, in the covenant of marriage, and in faithful friendship, says to the beloved that the lover loves absolutely. There can be no calculation or relativism when one is loved for his own sake. This is the love with which Jesus loves us human beings.

May 3, 2020
(End of Civil Week 18)
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 2: 14a, 36-41/ Ps 23: 1-3a. 3b-4. 5. 6 (1)/ 1 Pt 2: 20b-25/ Jn 10: 1-10

“Good Shepherd Sunday,” the Fourth Sunday of Easter, always includes a passage from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. The common image of the shepherd is that of the “gatherer” and “maintainer” of the flock of sheep. As the Catechism notes (see references below), the clergy in our Church are looked upon as shepherds. We who are in such pastoral positions are, obviously, interested in keeping communities of believers together. Our Church officially recognizes the human right of religious liberty. Our shepherding is not an act of coercion — we know that those who remain with us are exercising their freedom, even as others freely choose another path — and we trust that freedom is fundamentally healthy for all people seeking the true and the good. It is the will of the shepherd that the sheep find the truth about themselves in being united with him.

Contemporary society may well be insensitive to the Christian notion of “shepherding.” The individualism which so many prize these days inherently resists the formation of flocks and herds, which are looked upon as examples of mindless conformity. Today’s “cancel” culture is another example. Certainly, anyone who embraces Christianity must do so for well-considered personal reasons. We would be quite poor shepherds if we were interested only in corralling people who unthinkingly repeated shallow slogans. Even in an age of individualism, there exist numerous political and other groups which are founded upon great shallowness. We must be able to distinguish ourselves from groups which are based on shallow thinking. Perhaps the most effective way for Christians to do this is to allow for healthy disagreement among us. We remember the actions of Martin Luther, who in 1517 began publicly to question how the mass of believers understood God’s work of salvation. We commit ourselves to a process of learning from fellow Christians considered “separated” what they believe about the salvation won for us in Jesus, thereby opening ourselves to an appreciation of the tensions which Luther felt so keenly. We might ask ourselves whether there needs to be room for a healthy pluralism in how Christians express their understanding of the deepest mysteries of a believer’s relationship with God.

We keep in mind that John chapter 10 follows immediately upon the incident with the man born blind; Jesus is still developing the theme of the unreliability of many of the professional religious people of his day. We remember that the Pharisees, in chapter 9, rejected the recipient of Jesus’ healing for his straightforward amazement at the Pharisees’ obtuseness over the undeniable fact of the healing. Today’s portion of John 10 gives us images of both a shepherd and a gate for the use of the sheep. Jesus emphasizes how the sheep know the shepherd because they recognize his voice. Jesus must have been relating a common observation among shepherds. In fact, a commentary explains that a typical Palestinian village of Jesus’ day would have a common sheepfold, from which each individual shepherd would call his own sheep; they did indeed respond to their own shepherd’s unique voice. Jesus makes the point that an inauthentic shepherd, such as a Pharisee, will not be effective in calling the sheep. Furthermore, Pharisees are inauthentic sheep, since they do not recognize the voice of the true shepherd.

The image of the gate, developed from verse 7, stresses a personal bond which is based on true acquaintance with Jesus. Jesus is not calling the leaders of Old Testament times “thieves and robbers”; rather, he is speaking of his contemporaries who fail to recognize him.

It is rare to see a progression through the Lectionary which backtracks within a book of the Scriptures. We see this, however, in the presentation of First Peter, and we also saw this last week in the presentation of the Acts of the Apostles. It may be supposed that today’s passage provides an emotional build-up to the pronouncement of 2: 9, that our identity is to be found in our adoption by God, such that we are the People of God. It has been noted that this passage displays a certain parallelism with Isaiah 53, verses 4 through 12, including even a direct quote (verse 22) from Isaiah 53: 9b. Verses 22 through 25 may be considered a Christian re-working of the Fourth Suffering Servant Song. Note the ovine connection with today’s Gospel: “For you had gone away like sheep.”

Today’s passage from Acts is the conclusion of the first preaching of Peter about Jesus’ death and resurrection. We note the immediacy of Peter’s words relative to Jesus’ death — a mere fifty days or so — and we have an appreciation of the appropriateness of Peter’s saying to local Jews that they allowed Jesus to be put to death. We see clearly that such an accusation does not transfer to other times and places. Around Holy Week and the Easter Triduum, we took care to help our congregations understand that it is wrong for us to blame the Jews of today for the death of Jesus. (It must be clear to us that Jesus had to die — that he came for the purpose of dying — and that therefore blaming a group of people for his death does not make sense anyway.) The proclamation of this passage of Acts may well call for a further reinforcement of this message.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Monday is my day off.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Get acquainted with Brene Brown (there's an accent on the second e and it's pronounced bre-NAY), a psychologist who has directed many toward discovering vulnerability as a personal strength.

Also, consider what Australia and New Zealand are doing to combat the virus.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Today is the feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist. Should the Gospel for his feast carry a listener advisory against ingesting poison? (And why does this concern feel so, I don't know, contemporary?)

The latest parish email has set a very high standard for me. It says I present "thoughts and insights." Well, I'll do my best, as you can see below:

OK, pasta lovers: Now you know all about the Roman love for carbonara (see Apr. 22, below), and now I want to share with you another delight from the same Lazio region of Italy:

Rabbia is the Italian word for "anger," and arrabbiata means "angry." Pasta all'arrabbiata is made with a pepper-laced red sauce which, I am happy to say, I have found on supermarket shelves! Today I bought two more jars of Full Circle Market arrabbiata sauce, which lays the red pepper on thick! (There is another arrabbiata sauce out there, which is interesting because it contains whole cherry tomatoes, but is not sufficiently "angry," in my estimation.) Arrabbiata sauce is traditionally served with penne ("feathers") pasta. Before we went into quarantina, I did have, at a restaurant, some pasta which definitely had the zing of arrabbiata. And it had sausage in it, while arrabbiata customarily is meatless. Well, I feel every justification to break the rules!

Shortly I will try to give you the lowdown on another Lazio dish, pasta all'amatriciana -- the favorite of some readers of this blog -- which I have enjoyed but never cooked!

Friday, April 24, 2020

"Five Ways to Follow the Coronavirus Outbreak for Any Metro Area in the U.S." promises to be very helpful.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

How did the concept of social distancing evolve?

New "deathbed etiquette" in the UK, as reported by The Tablet.

And here you can enjoy some of the musical works of Leroy Anderson.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

More than you ever wanted to know about CARBONARA

Wednesdays at the North American College in Rome were always "carbonara days." At the mid-day main meal, some tables had it worked out with their waiter (a fellow student) to distribute the pasta course rapidly to the six at that table, and then quickly return to the kitchen for "seconds."

Carbonara pasta originated in Rome. It gets its name from coal miners, who were supposed to be able to prepare this dish quickly and easily while at work. Demand for carbonara seems to have impacted all of Italy. After my last visit there, in 2014, I was surprised to find carbonara on the menu at several restaurants in Venice, where pasta alle vongole (with clams, in a garlic sauce) would be the expected local fare.

From 1979 onward, I kept hearing how difficult it was to make carbonara. Supposedly, you had to do something "just right" when the pasta met the egg yolks, or else you'd end up with scrambled eggs.

Shortly after my 2014 trip, I found a recipe for carbonara in the venerable London Catholic weekly The Tablet -- or, rather, I found a recipe, followed by a correction.

In the issue of November 1, 2014, Rose Prince's food column offered this recipe:

"Genuine carbonara, serves 4.

"1 chicken stock cube; 8 egg yolks, beaten; 8 rashers of streaky bacon, cut into small pieces; 400 g penne pasta; fresh ground black pepper; salt.

"Add 400 ml of boiling water to the stock cube, mix and cool to lukewarm, then whisk in the egg yolks. Boil a large pan of water and add a teaspoon of salt and the pasta, cooking it to the desired time on the pack. Meanwhile, fry the bacon pieces gently until crisp. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, rinse and return it to the pan with the egg and the stock. Stir over a low heat until the liquid becomes creamy, but do not let it scramble. Add the bacon, season and serve immediately."

There followed, in the very next issue in the Letters column, this response from Father David Clemens of Saffron Walden, Essex, England:

"While Rose Prince's column is admirable, there are two small errors in her carbonara recipe. First, the chicken stock cube is an aberration. No Italian chef would ever use it in this recipe. Secondly, the eggs should become thick and creamy by the heat of the pasta alone. It should not be stirred over a low heat, but over no heat. Take it from an old Roman!"

And now, as promised, the recipe that's in my head:

Pasta alla carbonara, for one big eater. 8 ounces of any pasta (lately I have been using whole-grain linguine); 4 egg yolks, beaten; 4 rashers of bacon; pepper; salt. Boil your pasta (I have never included salt as it boils). Pasta should be thoroughly cooked yet "chewy" (the Italian term is al dente, "to the tooth"). Keep the beaten egg yolks separate from everything. Prepare bacon (I like to cook the bacon strips before chopping them up; I also like the bacon somewhat undercooked). Once the pasta has been drained, put it on a big plate and stir in the egg yolks to coat the pasta. Add bacon pieces, and salt and pepper to taste. Parmesan cheese is always welcome. Frascati wine (the local white wine of Rome) is preferred, but pinot grigio or any dry white wine will do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

From Pastor Brian Bradshaw of the Pentecostals of Troy, re Ministries Unlimited:

Ministries Unlimited is NOT closed. However, we are trying protect those that we are serving as well as our volunteers.

Here is what is happening:

1. Curbside/doorstep deliveries are being made alternate Tuesdays to current pantry users. However, we cannot add anyone new at this time.

2. The pantry is accepting monetary donations only at this time.

3. The pantry is only using its funds for necessary expenditures. Vouchers have been put on hold.

4. The pantry is full stocked and retaining all its inventory for when patrons are allowed to come back into the building 2 times a week.

This overall plan has been formulated with the input of our Mayor, Chief of Police, the VP of MU, the director of MU and a few board members as well as myself.

Monday, April 20, 2020

I took a day off!

Sunday, April 19, 2020 EXTRA

I recommend the obituary of Paul O'Neill, this profile of a tavern owner in Brooklyn, and, above all, this consultation with some 20 experts on what lies ahead.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Mass intentions for the week ahead:

2020 Apr 20 Mon: Easter Weekday
† Deceased members of the Verharst Family

2020 Apr 21 Tue: Easter Weekday/ Anselm, bp, r, dr
† Tom Cowie

2020 Apr 22 Wed: Easter Weekday
† Erwin & Connie Schmerbauch

2020 Apr 23 Thurs: Easter Weekday/ George, mt/ Adalbert, bp, mt
† Michael Tarjany

2020 Apr 24 Fri: Easter Weekday/ Fidelis of Sigmaringen, p, mt
† Anna Hayden

2020 Apr 25 Sat: Mark, ev F
† Kathy Gremaud

For the People of St. Jerome and St. James parishes

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Here is some analysis of current necessities.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Through Wikipedia I discovered the State of Illinois hub for coronavirus information.

Thursday, April 16, 2020 EXTRA 2:30 pm

It is official: the Guatemala trip is postponed to 2021.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

This appears to me to be proof of the need for more isolation, not less. Let us not be too eager to abandon the discipline we have operated under.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wonderful news! Sister parish San Antonio Maria Claret, Rio Dulce, Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala, has a Facebook page.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

I invite you to the Facebook page of the Illinois Conference of Churches. This is our official means for acting ecumenically on a statewide basis. If you think that seeking Christian unity is optional, think again. Read the Vatican II decree on unity of Christians.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Read the obituary of Stirling Moss, Grand Prix racer. My favorite part of the obit: "Stirling grew up excelling at horsemanship, but said he gave it up because horses were hard to steer."

Sunday, April 12, 2020 EXTRA 10:30 am

Read Pope Francis's spirited Urbi et Orbi (to the City [of Rome] and to the world) message for Easter Sunday.

Sunday, April 12, 2020: EASTER SUNDAY

In the listing of COVID-19 cases by county in Illinois, I see that there is no county in Illinois which has not recorded at least one case.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

On priests in Italy.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Mass intentions:

2020 Apr 13 Mon: Easter Monday
Sanctity of Human Life

2020 Apr 14 Tue: Easter Tuesday
† Deceased members of the Cowie Family

2020 Apr 15 Wed: Easter Wednesday
† Dorothy Holshouser

2020 Apr 16 Thurs: Easter Thursday
† Leon Hubert

2020 Apr 17 Fri: Easter Friday
† Mary Ann Peshek

2020 Apr 18 Sat: Easter Saturday
† Victor Diepholz Sr.

For the People of St. Jerome and St. James parishes

Thursday, April 9, 2020 EXTRA 3:00 pm

I am very sad to read of the death of Mort Drucker, one of the great caricature artists of Mad magazine, which entertained me immensely during my high-school years.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Austen Ivereigh interviews Pope Francis.

Easter Triduum livestreamed to Facebook:

2020 Apr 9 Thu: Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper at 7:00 pm
2020 Apr 10 Fri: Good Friday Celebration of the Lord's Passion at 3:00 pm
2020 Apr 11 Sat: Easter Vigil Mass at 8:30 pm
2020 Apr 12 SUN: Easter Mass at 8:30 am

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Here is a list of recommendations for comforting, escapist books. I've read a very few of them. I'd say that the only one which has really stuck with me is Frankenstein.

Now begins Passover. A few years back in Springfield at an interfaith meeting, I asked Rabbi Barry Marks whether Passover could be referred to by an alternate name, "the days of wine and Moses." He roared with laughter.

CONFESSIONS will be heard Wednesday, April 8, 4:00 to 8:00 pm, in the former Blessed Sacrament chapel off the narthex of St. Jerome. If people are waiting, please observe necessary social distance (wearing a mask is recommended). The room is set up for distance, so please speak in a normal conversational voice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

This Roman dish was my favorite when I lived there. Carbonara is indeed a delightful thing to cook and eat. Can somebody tell me how your attempt at this recipe turns out? Maybe in Easter week, I will share my own recipe (it's in my head).

Monday, April 6, 2020

Click and scroll down to see Queen Elizabeth II's very classy address to her nation. The four-minute address includes clips of the UK's National Health Service carrying out their duties. My history does not go back to 1940, when she and Princess Margaret (also featured, in a photo) addressed the UK. But in the summer of 1982, my deacon summer, I walked the corridors and the wards of two London hospitals as a chaplain. When I revisited London in 2006, the University College Hospital had moved to a new, more advanced building. The Middlesex Hospital stood empty and I assume it was later demolished. (Update: Wikipedia reports that it was demolished in 2007.)

I have read about the British resolve in World War II, and the present crisis calls for similar global resolve.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

On Scams

Saturday, April 4, 2020

PALMS. Drive to either church tomorrow between 10:00 and 11:30 am. (UPPER parking lot at St. Jerome.) You will find friendly people wearing Smurf-blue gloves and giving you palms as you remain in the comfort of your vehicle.

Friday, April 3, 2020 EXTRA 12:30 pm

Pope Francis has appointed Father Michael McGovern of Chicago to be the next Bishop of Belleville, with ordination and installation date indefinite. He succeeds Bishop Edward Braxton.

I salute the Tri-Township Public Library District for letting the community know, by means of their electric sign, that their Wi-Fi is available from their parking lot, should anyone see fit to get online from there.

This might be a good time to take a look at the Library of America. Their Reader's Almanac might be a good place to start.

I thank Janet Doyle for a dispatch on coronavirus in Vietnam. Mainly, it's on their success.

Friday, April 3, 2020

You may find the links in this article on virtual religious tourism to be diverting and enriching.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Mass intentions for the coming week:
2020 Apr 6 Mon: Ceal Hubert
2020 Apr 7 Tue: Larry Schlaefer
2020 Apr 8 Wed: John Astrauskas
2020 Apr 9 Thurs: Eugene Blink
2020 Apr 10 Fri: Good Friday: no Mass
2020 Apr 11 Sat: Deceased Members of the Sorrells Family
2020 Apr 12 Sun: Pro Populo

Wednesday, April 1, 2020: Fool-free zone

Here is a marvelous statement from the World Council of Churches.

I have just learned of an international Orthodox Christian document on a social ethos. I have read some of it. I am grateful for this lengthy and comprehensive statement, which I would compare with some of the documents of Vatican II. I particularly liked the document's denunciations of racism and nationalism.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

We have received word that the worldwide Holy Land collection, usually taken up at the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord's Passion, is being moved to Sunday, September 13. This date is just one day before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which commemorates the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.

Here's some encouraging news: Social Distancing Appears to Be Working

Monday, March 30, 2020

Here is the latest from Shelly Sands of Missions International:

Hello everyone,

I hope and pray you and your families are well. I realize that this trip is probably the furthest thing from your mind right now, but I wanted to inform you what the travel agent and I worked out this week. We will wait until April 15 and see what the climate is of our country and that of Guatemala. (Bishop Cabrera has informed me that the number of those infected with Covid-19 has not increased in Guatemala. Thank God!) [KML: Latest Johns Hopkins figures on Guatemala: Confirmed cases 34; recovered 10; death 1.] On April 15 we will decide if we should release the seats that are being held on AA so we do not get a fee.

I hope you are all doing well and would like to share a message from Bishop Cabrera. Please share his message with your parish.

Por favor cuando pueda, dígales a los hermanos de las parroquias hermanas que estamos rezando mucho por todos. Nos preocupa la situación de Estados Unidos: Nueva York, Chicago e Illinois.

Reciba mis cordiales y fraternos saludos.

+ Julio Cabrera Ovalle.

Please when you can, tell the brothers in the sister parishes that we are praying a lot for everyone.

We are concerned about the situation in the United States: New York, Chicago and Illinois.

Receive my cordial and fraternal greetings.

+ Julio Cabrera Ovalle.

Sunday, March 29, 2020 EXTRA 2:30 pm

At Saturday's Mass, I mentioned Casey Stengel, famous for saying "You could look it up." It appears that he got that expression from a James Thurber story with the same title as the expression. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 29, 2020 EXTRA 12:30 pm

I just went to the Johns Hopkins tally of COVID-19 cases and did a little math re China. Total confirmed cases: 82,122. Total recovered: 75,582. Total deaths: 3,304. Subtracting those who have recovered and those who have died, there are now 3,236 people in China currently suffering from the virus, which is a mere 4% of total cases. Total recovered is 92%. Total deceased is 4%. We keep in mind that a great part of those who have died in China were older men who smoked.

It will take a while before U.S. statistics look this way.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Please heed the request of the Metro East Interfaith Partnership:

The Metro East Interfaith Partnership steering committee in cooperation with religious leaders from all faith traditions is committed (wherever we may find ourselves) at any time during the day tomorrow (Sunday, March 29, 2020) to pray for all affected by the Coronavirus be it victims or those essential personnel fighting the virus and supporting the rest of us.

Although we can’t be in the same sacred space together tomorrow, we ask that everyone's prayer focus be on healing and protection for those sick and gravely ill, and comfort for those persons and their families who have lost their battle to this deadly virus. Our prayers tomorrow are an important sign of our solidarity with those around the world as we all seek healing in prayer and continually practicing safe distancing, sheltering in place, and safe hygiene practices.

We urge you to join us in spending time tomorrow inviting divine intervention and wisdom in our hour of need.

O Creator: Heal us, heal our bodies, heal our world! May it be so! AMEN

Friday, March 27, 2020

To clarify the times for the live stream of Mass: Sunday will be at 8:30 am, reflecting the normal early Mass time, and Monday through Saturday will be at 8:00 am.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

I have changed the link to Mass for St. Jerome and St. James. See if this one works!

OK, live-streaming Mass appears to be a hit! We are going to stick with 8:00 am to keep it simple. If the live-stream time is not convenient for you, you can always view the recording.

It turns out that the funeral home for Charles Spicuzza is Kurrus, not Curtis.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

8:00 am Daily Mass at St. Jerome -- you may need to scroll down a bit

I have received word of the death of Carl Strom, a St. Jerome parishioner who moved to Mission, Texas, some time ago. Arrangements are pending.

Meanwhile, St. Jerome parishioner Charlie Spicuzza has died. A service will be held for him at the Curtis funeral home, 1773 Frank Scott Parkway, Belleville, on Friday at 12 noon; some family members will be present from 11 am. Burial at Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

The USCCB is asking all Christians to pray the Our Father together at 12 noon on Wednesday, March 25.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 EXTRA 12:45 pm

As promised, I am posting here the Mass intentions I am fulfilling at home:

2020 Mar 26 Thu: Special request
2020 Mar 27 Fri: Deceased members of the Bosen Family
2020 Mar 28 Sat: Evelyn Hoyle
2020 Mar 29 SUN: Pro Populo
2020 Mar 30 Mon: Richard Buecker
2020 Mar 31 Tue: Selda Reiss
2020 Apr 1 Wed: Ralph Vesci
2020 Apr 2 Thurs: Deceased members of the Reese Family
2020 Apr 3 Fri: Art Gremaud
2020 Apr 4 Sat: Pat and Joan Davis
2020 Apr 5 Sun: Pro Populo

I have taken a look at Pope Francis's Masses. At first I was startled by an image of the chapel in the Casa Santa Marta filled with people! Looking at today's Mass, I see that in fact there are congregants, widely dispersed, and responding to the normal Mass parts. There is an English voiceover/ interpreter as well.

The Diocese has provided an online hub which includes a number of live-streamed daily Masses around the Diocese.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 EXTRA 12:00 noon

We have the following from the Diocese:

To: All Priests
From: Very Reverend Christopher House, Chancellor
Date: March 23, 2020
Re: Masses and Confessions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the weekend, some questions were asked regarding the offering of Masses at this time and concerning the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation. As Bishop Paprocki has previously indicated, for the time being Masses are to be celebrated without a congregation present. Such Masses should be celebrated according to the Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition, using the section, “Order of Mass with the Participation of a Single Minister.” The General Instruction on the Roman Missal (nos. 252- 254) provides that the “single minister” may be a deacon or one of the faithful.

When offering a vigil Mass, as is normative, the Mass may not begin before 4:00PM. This norm applies to all livestreamed Vigil Masses.

Concerning the sacrament of Reconciliation, as mentioned in previous communication from Bishop Paprocki, you are asked to maintain individual opportunities for the celebration of Reconciliation if you are able to do so safely according to the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while also protecting privacy and the sacramental seal. Considering the concerns for privacy and the sacramental seal, priests are asked not to engage in the recent social phenomenon of “drive-thru confessions” at this time.

Due to concerns for proper health precautions and anxiety among some of the faithful, individual celebrations of Reconciliation may not be possible at this time. In light of this, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have provided pastoral guidance from the Apostolic Penitentiary at the Holy See.

First, “where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).”

Second, “the gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.

• This is a time of suffering, especially for those who have contracted COVID-19. As such, it may be a time for us to ‘rediscover ‘the same redemptive suffering of Christ’ (Salvifici doloris, 30).’

• A Plenary indulgence is ‘granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father's intentions), as soon as possible.

• Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.”

Please do not hesitate to email or call with any further questions concerning situations or needs in this extraordinary time. May the Lord richly bless you as you strive to bring God’s grace to the people under your pastoral care.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

I believe that it's far from polite to try to force one's personal tastes onto others, but now is a very good time to try classical music. Many people suppose that you have to "know" something about classical music in order to appreciate it, but in fact it's enjoyable in itself, without any need to "know" anything. There is a 24/7 classical service, Classical 24, which you can access through this link, or, if you have an HD radio, you can hear it on St. Louis Public Radio, HD3. FM 90.7, channel 3.

Monday, March 23, 2020

OK, so, what is an indulgence?

We cannot understand the concept of an "indulgence" without understanding the concept of "temporal punishment due to sin."

My first-grade teacher explained "temporal punishment" this way: Say you drive a nail into a wall -- not because you are going to hang a picture, but just because you like to drive nails into walls. (As a first-grader, I would have been driving nails too low for the hanging of pictures.) Driving the nail is the sin. So the removal of the nail is the forgiveness of the sin. BUT ... there's a hole in the wall, and the sinner must repair the damage caused by the sin. Hence all sinners have a built-in stock of "temporal punishment due to sin."

How do we "work off" this temporal punishment due to sin?

In the earliest days of the Church, the sins which could lead you to be excommunicated were sins which had become apparent to the Church community and which in fact disrupted the life of the community. These would be things like denying the Christian faith (apostasy), holding to an interpretation of Christian faith, which is peculiarly your own (heresy), or adultery. The sinner could expect to be expelled from the community to do penance, with fasting and demeaning oneself through the wearing of sackcloth and smearing with ashes. This time of penance could last several years before the Church readmitted the sinner to Holy Communion.

With time, and particularly with the Church becoming indistinguishable from civil society as a whole, we began to develop "indulgences." In other words, the Church was "indulging" sinners by reducing the sackcloth-and-ashes to specific pious acts.

European history was profoundly marked by controversy over indulgences. Some people took it upon themselves to sell indulgences for the construction of the current St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In 1517, a German Augustinian monk named Martin Luther objected to this practice, by which people believed they were paroling their dead relatives from purgatory. There followed the Protestant Reformation.

In my view, living an authentic human life is quite sufficient for addressing "temporal punishment due to sin." In fact, following the formula of absolution when I am celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation with someone, there is the formula: "May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and all the saints, whatever good you do and suffering you endure, heal your sins, help you to grow in holiness, and reward you with eternal life. Go in peace." So it seems to me that, in addition to doing the penance prescribed in the sacrament, "whatever good you do and suffering you endure" quite definitively addresses the matter of "temporal punishment due to sin."

To come back to the images of expulsion from the community and driving a nail into a wall, there is in fact much damage done to the human family by the sinfulness of all of us. We make reparation, not because of our fear of purgatory (which I will write about at another time), but because we want to be united with our Savior in truly repairing our world and all human relationships.

See some remarks of the great 20th-century theologian Karl Rahner on these matters.

Sunday, March 22, 2020 EXTRA 3:30 pm

I highly recommend this piece by Father James Martin S.J., editor of America magazine.

Also, Father Scott Snider of Vandalia is sharing video reflections on each day's Mass Scriptures.

Sunday, March 22, 2020 EXTRA 1:45 pm

OK, I actually preached to myself, and the result is here. For the readings, go here and click on the calendar.

And here is some advice on isolation from an International Space Station astronaut.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

By way of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, we have the Vatican Directive on Easter Celebrations.

It's Sunday! Is there a bulletin?

I work for a publisher in Quincy and the typesetter told me Thursday that many of their client parishes were stopping their bulletins. But not in our parishes! We are planning to make hard copies of the Sunday bulletin available to those who want to pick them up. They are at the front door of St. Jerome; St. James has other arrangements. Otherwise, there is always the online PDF of our bulletin.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Thank you for stopping by. I want my parishioners to know, first of all, that, in accord with Bishop Paprocki's directive, I am celebrating Mass privately at home. In fact, I am fulfilling the intentions already published, as follows:

2020 Mar 19 Thu: Leon Hubert
2020 Mar 20 Fri: Sanctity of Human Life
2020 Mar 21 Sat: Valentine Buchmiller
2020 Mar 22 SUN: Pro Populo
2020 Mar 23 Mon: Marlene Krotz
2020 Mar 24 Tue: Kathy Gremaud
2020 Mar 25 Wed: Laureen Jennex

"Pro Populo" is Latin for "for the people"; it is the Mass for the people of the parishes which every pastor is obliged to celebrate on every Sunday and holy day.

Jodi will compile for me a schedule of Mass intentions going beyond those listed above, and I will post the Mass intentions here.

The Apostolic Penitentiary has issued a decree on plenary indulgences during this time of pandemic. Some of you may ask: "What's a plenary indulgence?" I'll answer that question shortly.

Friday, March 20, 2020, 12:45 pm

I am told that Illinois will soon be under a "shelter-in-place" order. I will not have confession hours. Liturgy Training Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago offers a Daily Prayer which keeps us in sync with the liturgy.

Yesterday I celebrated my first private Mass. The intention was the one listed in the bulletin for that day: Leon Hubert. I intend to fulfill Mass intentions as I celebrate these private Masses. Sunday's intention is always "the people of the parishes."

You may find this information to be of interest. It's from yesterday's New York Times.

I see that the federal tax filing deadline has been bumped to July 15.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

As you are absorbing all of this stunning information about how we are to be church for a while, I invite you to ask yourself: How will prayer and worship remain in my daily routine? It's possible that we might offer streaming of my private Masses. In the meantime, I'd like to remind you that I podcast my Sunday homilies, and I may be podcasting some intermittent thoughts as well. Video of Masses at the St. Louis University St. Francis Xavier "College Church" are here on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 EXTRA 10:15 am

I am rethinking the restrictions I published yesterday, believing that we must exercise more restrictions. My current model is the Diocese of Wichita. More directions will be coming soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

We all need to chill. Please see this CDC page on managing stress and anxiety.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 EXTRA 1:30 pm


Effective immediately, no weekday Masses.

[Editor's note: The following, in italics, never took effect.]


Sat. 11:00 am - 1:00 pm Confessions at St. Jerome
Sat. 1:30 - 3:30 pm Confessions at St. James
Sat. 4:00 pm Mass at St. James
Sat. 5:00 - 6:30 pm Fr. Kevin will distribute Communion to those who come to church

Sun. 8:30 am Mass at St. Jerome
Sun. 9:30 - 11:00 am Fr. Kevin will distribute Communion to those who come to church

Tue. (Beginning today!) 6:00 - 8:00 pm Confessions at St. Jerome [Editor's note: This evening confession opportunity occurred only once: Tuesday, March 17.]


Tuesday, March 17, 2020 EXTRA 11:00 am

The Madison County Health Department is recommending the CDC website.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

On Monday I attended a meeting of the Presbyteral Council. Today I will hold a staff meeting. After that, I will have quite a bit to tell you.

Monday, March 16, 2020

There is a Wikipedia page, Coronavirus pandemic in Illinois.

Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map | The Curve (New York Times) | Spiritual Communion

Sunday, March 15, 2020 EXTRA 12 noon

Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map | The Curve (New York Times) | Spiritual Communion

We have cancelled the 50-Plus potluck scheduled for tomorrow. Tonight's 8 pm holy hour is on. PFF is cancelled. We are still planning to hold the Lenten Speaker Series. [Editor's note: It was in fact cancelled.]

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map

Official from the diocese:

Update for March 14


Bishop Paprocki has announced, effective today, March 14, 2020, that all Catholics within the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois are dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.

Bishop Paprocki and the parishes of the diocese remain committed to making Masses and the sacraments available and safe, with precautions previously announced. Catholic faithful who are well are encouraged, but not obligated, during this time to continue to attend Mass.

Those who do not attend Mass are strongly encouraged to replace that time with prayer and devotion, study the scripture readings which can be found here, watch the mass on EWTN or online, and make a spiritual communion in lieu of reception of the Blessed Sacrament, pray the rosary, and to pray this particular prayer for the Coronavirus situation in our country.

These actions are taken as reasonable and responsible measures to help prevent the Coronavirus from becoming a threat in our communities while continuing to offer the sacraments to the faithful. During this time, we trust in the loving providence of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the intercession of our Blessed Mother.

Saturday, March 14, 2020 EXTRA

Official from the diocese:

Update for March 13

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois issued the following updates regarding Masses, parishes, and schools under its jurisdiction in regard to the Coronavirus:


Following Governor Pritzker's directive to the entire state of Illinois to close all schools in light of coronavirus concerns, all Catholic schools under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois will be closed beginning Monday, March 16, through Monday, March 30. This includes the cancelation of all extra-curricular activities, social events, and other school-related gatherings. Teachers will work on plans for remote learning opportunities. Schools will also use the opportunity while closed to disinfect their buildings.


Confirmations are still on but check with your parish for updates.

Parish Activities:

Anything associated with a school or children’s faith formation is cancelled. Adult formation is at the discretion of the pastor at this point, as long as those activities do not have over 250 people at the event.


We will continue to offer Masses and the sacraments throughout our diocese, because it is the Church’s duty and mission to make God’s grace available through the sacraments for the faithful.

In addition to the preventative measures for which the diocese has already given guidance, everyone is encouraged to assess their health status. Those who are sick or feel their health is compromised are not obliged to attend Mass and should remain home.

In keeping with the Governor's request, we have communicated to our pastors to add an additional Mass if they expect a Mass having more than 250 people in attendance. Parishes are following similar guidance as it relates to other parish activities with larger crowds. Given the relatively smaller size of the parishes in our diocese, our Mass congregations are typically under 250 people.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

This page from the Illinois Department of Public Health is helpful.

To summarize what I know about church-related matters: I will have confessions and Mass this weekend. The St. James trivia night has been cancelled. The Archdiocese of Chicago (Cook and Lake Counties, Illinois) has cancelled all Masses, schools and other activities until further notice; churches there are open for private prayer. The Diocese of Wichita has given a dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation. As yet, we do not have such a dispensation, although I urge my parishioners to make their own decisions in this regard. Each of us has a conscience and if it is not right to put oneself at risk, one must not come to Mass.

Friday, March 13, 2020 EXTRA:

I recommend this interactive chart which demonstrates that aggressive measures now will allow for a manageable near future.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Yesterday I informed the St. Jerome staff: "After some consultation and weighing of various factors, I have decided to suspend Communion from the common chalice for the weekends of March 14-15 and March 21-22. After that time, with evaluation of the local situation, I will decide how to proceed.

"I watch the statistics on a Johns Hopkins web page, and apparently the spread of the virus here is slow. But I am also considering two factors: 1) the lag in testing of individuals, with the resultant effect on statistics; 2) the fact that one can be a symptom-free carrier and spread the virus for a number of days. I recognize that communicating the virus through the common chalice is 'unlikely,' but at this point, 'unlikely' is insufficient odds, in my estimation.

"For what it's worth: the models of the coronavirus which we see on TV are kind of pretty. We should make those models into pinatas, so as to 'beat' the virus!"

We have also received further direction from the Diocese (Msgr. Dave Hoefler, Vicar General):

"In keeping with the Governor's request to limit events of over 250 people, we are asking pastors to add an additional Mass if they expect a Mass having more than 250 people. We understand this may be a hardship and remind you that it may be a simple Mass without music and with an abbreviated homily. It appears that we should plan on this until May 1, 2020. Also, if you are in a position to have to do this, please feel free to reach out to me for help with logistics or possible coverage.

"Please also remind your faithful that if they are sick or if their health is compromised in a way that makes them more vulnerable to a virus they are not obligated to attend Mass and they should stay home.

"If you are outside the diocese you are to return home. We are asking all of you, during this time, to remain in the diocese. This is partly due to the potential for a domestic flight ban."

Also, some further directives:

"Since the beginning of 2020, the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has been monitoring developments regarding the Coronavirus, including guidance and information from the Centers for Disease Control, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and other government agencies. We have and will continue to evaluate the practices of our shared faith life across the diocese. Following up on the determinations regarding 'Liturgical Celebrations and Public Health Concerns' that were sent to all priests and deacons of our diocese on February 28, 2020, we have decided to provide the following additional clarifications and guidance regarding precautionary efforts to contain the spread of the virus in parishes, schools, and other institutions:

"• People should not hold hands while praying the 'Our Father' at Mass.

"• The Sign of Peace should be exchanged without any physical contact, for example, by turning to those who are nearest and saying, 'Peace be with you,' with a bow of the head towards them.

"• Regarding the distribution and reception of Holy Communion:

"o For the time being, it is recommended that distribution of the Precious Blood via the chalice be suspended. Offering the Precious Blood to all the faithful at every Mass is not required. It is up to the local Pastor or Parochial Administrator to determine whether or not to offer the chalice with the Precious Blood at any given celebration of the Mass in that parish. Reception via the chalice is optional at all Masses, as our Lord is fully present in both species. It is advisable to remind the faithful of this at Masses.

"o Those who wish to receive on the tongue, which is very sanitary when done properly, should stand still and stick out their tongue and the minster will place the host properly without coming into contact.

"o Likewise, those who receive in the hand, should make sure that the hands are open flat so that the host may be placed in the hand without making contact.

"• The clergy may consider refraining from shaking hands in greeting crowds after masses and other settings in which it is not possible to practice proper hand-washing and hygienic prevention.

"• Those presenting themselves in the communion line and not receiving the Blessed Sacrament should be invited to make a spiritual communion without any physical contact by the minister.

"• Maintenance staff in parishes, schools, and other church buildings will be taking extra precautions to clean and sanitize surfaces, door handles, etc.

"• Catholic Hospitals and Catholic nursing homes with private chapels will be responsible for deciding whether to continue offering public masses.

"• All ministers and employees of the church as well as all the lay faithful are encouraged to follow the basic precautionary guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control to avoid the spread of illness.

"• Meetings, classes, gatherings, and events may continue as scheduled for now, at the discretion of local leadership and with careful application of the CDC guidelines noted above.

"• Further, and with the essential mission and ministry of the Church in mind, the Diocese is calling for the faithful to devote the remaining Lenten Friday fasts for the special intention of healing for those affected by the Coronavirus and for the cease of its spread.

"The Diocese will continue to monitor developments and provide further guidance as needed."

Thursday, March 12, 2020

At the priests' overnight which I just attended, I heard the announcement that we as a diocese are going to transition from ACSA to the tithe over a three-year period. Soon I will have details about interactions between diocesan personnel and parish leadership as we work on our spirituality of discipleship and stewardship.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

OK, so we're officially experiencing a global pandemic. The parish staff keeps discussing the risks and the precautions we can take. Again, we ask all to refrain from handshaking at Mass. No one is required to receive Communion from the chalice. You might think twice about receiving Communion on the tongue. We can gain some perspective from this resource which I provided below, March 3. We do have to consider that it is possible to be a symptom-free carrier for a number of days.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

What's this comic strip I keep talking about? It's Mafalda, from Argentina, which ran from 1963 to 1974. I got to know it in translated reruns in the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero. It exists in English as Mafalda and Friends, but I have only one volume out of perhaps twelve. I do have the entire run of the strip in Spanish and Italian.

Monday, March 9, 2020

A show of paintings and drawings by Raffaello Sanzio, 1483-1520, is opening in Rome. Not that this is the best time to visit Italy. Details here.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

FASCINATING story on youth who do not have Wi-Fi because they live near a radiotelescope.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

For that matter, there are also First Saturday devotions to be explained.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Why do Catholics do special things on the first Friday of the month? Here is a resource explaining the First Friday Devotion.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Don't forget the Metro East Interfaith Partnership. I am in a steering committee meeting right now and there are events being planned for April, June, and August.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Here is a report on the shaping of customs in places of worship as the coronavirus threat looms.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

If you are interested in monitoring the spread of the coronavirus, here are some suggestions from Fast Company:

"Johns Hopkins CSSE: We highlighted this online dashboard and interactive map back in January, but it’s still one of the best out there, including regularly updated data on new cases, death counts, and recoveries. Find it here.

"Esri: The team at Esri’s StoryMaps (with support from Johns Hopkins) put together a series of maps and data that put the virus in perspective, including animated maps showing the early spread of the virus and how it progressed. The data is updated daily. Find it here.

"Kaiser Family Foundation: This group put together a 'COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker,' which includes a map and interactive infographics that let you see new cases in each country. The tracking tool is regularly updated and uses data from the World Health Organization. Find it here.

"CDC: The maps and graphics on the CDC’s dedicated COVID-19 section are not as dynamic as some of the others above, but the section includes a wealth of information about affected countries, virus protection, symptoms, travel risks, and regularly updated case counts. Find it here."

Monday, March 2, 2020

If you wish to stay current on what is happening, and what ought to happen, in the Catholic Church, an excellent starting point is to familiarize yourself with Massimo Faggioli, a prolific theologian who is especially well versed in the Second Vatican Council.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Wondering about the new revelations regarding the late Jean Vanier? I recommend a piece by Michael Higgins in Commonweal.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The talk I gave Thursday evening on the Second Vatican Council has been uploaded and appears on the top of my Sunday Homilies page.

How are you observing leap day? Are you inclined to brush up on your understanding for the need of such "intercalary" days? As is so often the case, Wikipedia comes in handy.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Again, my apologies for not attending to this page on a daily basis.

If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you will find links to various Catholic news sources which I recommend.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

What do you know about St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), whose memorial was January 28 (sorry)? You may know that he wrote and wrote, and we cannot overlook the fact that he lived to be only 49 years old. His Summa Theologica has been considered the apex of Catholic theological thought, but, in fact, his "scholastic method" is far from satisfactory, and he must be considered as one great voice in ongoing theological history. He was comprehensive, and therefore this work of his maintains an attraction as a great example of attempting to address all theological questions.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

I trust that you are looking forward to the St. Jerome & St. James "Lenten Speaker Series." I will be leading off with "Vatican II: The Positive Council" at 6:45 pm on Thursday, February 27 (the day after Ash Wednesday) at St. James, 305 Washington Street, St. Jacob. Here is an online resource which you may find helpful in coming to understand Vatican II: Vatican II Voice, a British site dedicated to continuous study of the Council and its call for renewal.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Wikipedia now has six million articles in English! For years now, I have found Wikipedia to be an invaluable resource, and a lot of fun. Wikipedia is determined never to accept advertising. It is worth supporting financially, as I do monthly with an automatic transfer from my checking account. The management of Wikipedia says that 98% of users do not contribute. I like to think that contributions to Wikipedia are helping bright kids in isolated places where books are scarce.

Friday, January 24, 2020

I'm sorry to be so lax in presenting resources here. Recently someone was discussing with me the electronic option for receiving Catholic Times -- my own preferred way of getting it. All you have to do is visit Catholic Times Go Green.

Friday, Dec 13, 2019

My next Catholic Times column will be on the theologian Johann Baptist Metz, who died on December 2. See his New York Times obituary.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Is intelligence overrated? Emotional Intelligence is in fact what we want more of! Daniel Goleman's 1995 book answers many questions nagging at us, as we ask, "Why can't people collaborate successfully -- or just get along?"

Friday, October 11, 2019

Today is the memorial of St. John XXIII, who on this day in 1962 opened the Second Vatican Council. See the my 1992 speech on Pope John and the Council.

U.S. Bishops' 2019 Labor Day Statement

Monday, September 9, 2019

I'd like to share a secret. This link takes you to an online archive of Catholic Times issues from 2015. Unfortunately, approximately the first 44 issues in the collection are, on their individual links, undated.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Here is a discussion, from Psychology Today, on misconceptions about clergy sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

END-OF-LIFE ISSUES. The Illinois Conference of Churches has created a resource on what we all have to work through when we ourselves, or people close to us, approach death. Go to the Illinois Conference of Churches, hover over "End-of-Life Issues," and find the menu of resources.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Sister Helen Prejean has a new memoir, River of Fire. I have not read it yet, but it appears to be a must-read. She is forthright about the numerous conversions she has experienced. Read about it here.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Here is a report on a priest in El Paso and what he has experienced in attending to grieving families.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Read the biography of Father Augustus Tolton written by the late Father Roy Bauer of our diocese.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, quoted in The New York Times:

“In the last several months, the borderlands have shown the world that generosity, compassion and human dignity are more powerful than the forces of division. The great sickness of our time is that we have forgotten how to be compassionate, generous and humane. Everything is competition. Everything is greed. Everything is cold. Tenderness and the love that knows no borders are crucified in a whirlwind of deadly self-seeking, fear and vindictiveness.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

We all must be aware of the International Catholic Migration Commission, based in Geneva, with a U.S. office in Boston.

Monday, July 29, 2019

It was on this day in 1853 that our diocese, the first suffragan of Chicago, was established by Blessed Pius IX, as the southernmost 56 counties in Illinois, and designated the Diocese of Quincy. In 1857 the see was transferred to Alton. In 1887 the southernmost 28 counties were designated as the Diocese of Belleville. In 1923 the see was transferred to Springfield, and the diocese became known as the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois (Dioecesis Campifontis in Illinois), because a Diocese of Springfield -- in Massachusetts -- already existed.

Monday, July 22, 2019

We remember that Pope Francis recently upgraded St. Mary Magdalene's celebration on this date from a memorial to a feast. In fact, there is a writing on the Vatican site about Mary Magdalene's role as "apostle of the apostles" in witnessing Jesus' resurrection.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

I guess I still have not written anything about my "Sunday Homilies" podcasts. Podcasting was invented in 2004, and in 2005, my dear lifelong friend Brian Noe got me set up in podcasting. My Sunday homilies reside on a site with recordings dating back to 2005. You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes. I generally wait until I have about four weeks' worth of homilies before I upload them. I usually record the homily at my Sunday 8:30 am Mass, since that is the third of four times I give the homily and I trust that by then I really know what I want to say.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

On this 50th anniversary of the first moon walk, you may find interesting this account of the religious ceremony conducted by Buzz Aldrin within the lunar module Eagle at Tranquility Base: Joanna Moorhead in The Tablet: Communion on the Moon.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Another Catholic news source: La Croix International, which began publishing in English a couple of years ago. For $3.90 per month, I get a daily email with links to the latest stories. La Croix is based in France and gives an international perspective on the Church.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

In the August 4 bulletin, you will find a column on the Vatican's efforts to "go green." That column refers to Laudato Si', the 2015 encyclical of Pope Francis on care for our common home, the earth.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Our diocesan site has changed numerous times, and I don't feel especially well qualified to give anybody a tour. Perhaps the most helpful thing you can access is the Diocesan Directory.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

You can find many, many Bibles online. What I would call our "official" Bible site is at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The USCCB holds the copyright on The New American Bible, Revised Edition, the translation used at Mass. You can look up Lectionary readings day by day, peruse the Bible proper, and get podcasts of each day's readings.

Monday, July 15, 2019

I'd like to bring to your attention some helpful materials on basic emotional health. I call them my essays on feelings and the Dr. Margarett Schlientz Notes. When you look at my essays on feelings, be sure to follow the links to anger, fear, and love!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Back to the topic of good things I do not read: Everyone should be familiar with The National Catholic Reporter of Kansas City. I am not a regular reader because some years ago, I found that reading it just got me depressed. It is an excellent source for news of the Church in the United States.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Do you want to explore the worldwide structure of the Catholic Church? One good source is GCatholic.org, with its list of national conferences of bishops. You can drill down from national conferences to individual dioceses and then to individual parishes. You will also find catholic-hierarchy.org to be quite helpful. There is also an extensive discussion of national conferences of bishops at Wikipedia.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Religion, Politics, Culture. You have been hearing a lot about the magazine Commonweal lately. This venerable Catholic magazine, published in New York by lay Catholics, is approaching its 100th anniversary. We have a Commonweal Local Community (discussion group) which tackles tough topics with the help of Commonweal's very thoughtful articles. This publication has been appearing 20 times a year. Beginning in September, the magazine will begin an 11-issues-a-year schedule. Click here to take advantage of a special offer: one year of Commonweal for $9.95.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

I have just read a gem of an article in The Atlantic. Entitled "Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think," this piece by Arthur C. Brooks is essential reading for all of us as we seek to negotiate the inevitable changes coming with aging. We must learn how to understand the meaning of our lives in light of hard-won wisdom and new opportunities for service. Read it here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Our parishes need someone who can serve as an advocate for people presenting petitions to our diocesan tribunal for possible declarations of nullity of past marriages and establishment of freedom to enter a new marriage in the Catholic Church. You can learn the broad strokes of this Church judicial process by consulting the FAQs, the description of the defective-consent process, and a Catholic Times story from 2007 on the Church's tribunal processes. All of these are on our diocesan site. Or just contact me.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

On this day in 1897, Father Augustus Tolton died in Chicago of heat stroke at age 43. Earlier, I posted a link to Fr. Tolton's Wikipedia page. You might also enjoy the material found on the Archdiocese of Chicago site. Fr. Tolton's cause for canonization began in Chicago, where he died. Fr. Tolton served for eight years in Chicago, after three years in Quincy.

Monday, July 8, 2019

In 1992 I gave a speech, before an interfaith audience, about the Second Vatican Council. I find that this speech has held up well as the years and decades have passed. You can read it here: Father Kevin Laughery on Vatican II.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Christian unity is a mandate for all Christians. There is only one Jesus; therefore there can be only one Christianity, and all of us must strive to see to it that the Christian people enjoy the unity which Jesus intends for his people. The World Council of Churches is the international focus for seeking this unity. You may find it interesting to review the Council's efforts to establish a common Easter Day for Christians of the East and West.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

For nearly 40 years, I have been reading The Tablet, the international Catholic weekly published in London. Take a peek at the site and see how this publication embraces the entire world of Catholicism.

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, have a rich history, and they continue to make history. They remind us to care for the earth and to practice justice. Dominicans are the "Order of Preachers."

Thursday, July 4, 2019

On this Independence Day, we might want to look into the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops provides a timeline of their organization from 1917 to 2017, as well as a general history of Catholics in the U.S. We must consider the life of the Venerable Augustus Tolton, priest of our diocese, to be a microcosm of the struggles of our Church and nation.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It is important that we know our way around the Vatican website. Resources in English are gradually being added. People who read and speak English can go to the link at the end of this paragraph. What will we find? First, all things relating to Pope Francis. Second, the entire series of "Supreme Pontiffs" -- the links being the round mosaic portraits of each pope as they appear in the interior of the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Third, "Liturgical Celebrations, Roman Curia, Other Offices, Resource Library" -- of which the Resource Library is of particular importance. Fourth, a variety of Vatican-related things, including "Abuse of Minors: The Church's Response." Start exploring!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

John Henry Newman will be canonized on October 13! This is not St. John Neumann, for whom the school is named. Regular visitors will pick up on the fact that I am a Wikipedia fan. You can read up on both saints: St. John Neumann; Blessed John Henry Newman.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Back to Scripture: You may be interested in a resource which I started working on even before I ever got online. Back in 1993, it occurred to me that text files of the readings assigned for Mass each day would be very helpful to me and others, year after year. So I recommend to you my own web pages of liturgical calendars, which are easily copied and can be kept in the Bible you are reading.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

We may wonder how we Catholic Christians are to keep up with all the news of the Church throughout the world. I have recommendations. In keeping with the idea that this daily entry will focus on one online source at a time, I will give you a variety of good news sources, but spread across the days and weeks.

It seems to make sense to me to ask my parishioners to read things I do not necessarily read. And I may as well start with the magazine America. I have not read this publication in many years, but I do recommend it, not least because of the leadership of Father James Martin, S.J., an outstanding voice for the Catholic Church both in the U.S. and worldwide.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The first thing which you and I need to immerse ourselves in is THE WORD OF GOD -- that is to say, the Bible, Sacred Scripture. It is important for us to prepare for Sunday Mass by reflecting in advance upon the upcoming Sunday Scriptures. One great help to us is the daily lectionary feature on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Friday, June 28, 2019

You have been told about the event being held at the Highland K of C on Tuesday, July 16, 10:30 am to 2:30 pm, regarding the experiences of people of the Springfield and Belleville Dioceses who have traveled to sister parishes in Guatemala. Lunch is free but you need to RSVP. There will also be information on a projected Guatemala trip in 2020. More info. I have been to Guatemala three times myself.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

I am glad you are back here, and I am glad to be able now to provide you, on a quite frequent basis, with online resources which will help us all as we live our Catholic Christian faith in Jesus.

We can never forget our responsibility to establish justice within our human family. We rightly question whether justice is being done in many spheres of human activity. If you are wondering about the southern border of the United States, I recommend this compilation of ways to help. It may well be that contacts at our national bishops' conference will be useful.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

It has taken me some time to get myself oriented toward updating this page myself. I am happy to be back in this "corner," which in fact is expansive and allows us to explore our "big small world" of faith.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dear parishioners and all who are interested,

I want to address “all who are interested.” Traditionally in Catholic documents, we have spoken of “people of good will” — that is to say, people who, though not officially Catholic Christians, are united with Catholic Christians in seeking what is good and true and incorporating this goodness and truth in their lives.

We Catholic Christians are called to promote and celebrate what people of various points of view have in common. We believe that, when we establish and rejoice in what diverse people have in common, we can be a gift to one another and can promote deeper justice and peace in the lives of all of us.

So I am stretching my imagination now. When I started a personal website in 1996, I imagined the web to be, in a sense, the ultimate “bulletin board.” Anyone in the world could, potentially, look at a given website and receive direction from it. Of course, if we think that we are “giving” direction, we must also have the humility to “receive” direction.

It is necessary that we be aware of the efforts of diverse people coming together to seek the true and the good. I have been fortunate, over the last thirty-plus years, to be involved in organizations promoting harmony among people of differing religious heritages. Within the household of Christianity, the Illinois Conference of Churches is the official ecumenical body in our state; I currently serve on its Leadership Team. When I lived in the Springfield area, I greatly enjoyed activity in the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association. Currently I am on the steering committee of the Metro East Interfaith Partnership.

Christians profess a personal bond with Jesus of Nazareth. The word personal is extremely important to appreciate, as it helps to explain our devotion to the Son of God who lovingly saw fit to unite himself with humanity by becoming human himself.

Fr. Kevin