2011 Archive

  1. December 18

    Spiritual balance sheets: loss and gain

    As the church moves through the weeks of the Advent Season, the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary comes into the foreground, first, in celebrating the feast of her Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, nine months before her birthday in the liturgical calendar on Sept. 8 and, closely following, in the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12. On both feasts, the Gospel passage proclaimed at Mass is taken from the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke. We hear the angel call Mary “full of grace.”

  2. December 4

    Living in faith: anticipating Christ’s return in glory

    During the four weeks of Advent, we prepare to celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ birth 2,000 years ago by looking forward to his coming again at the end of time. Faith in what God has revealed in Christ brings us into a world that now interacts uneasily with the everyday world of sin and corruption. The world of faith will become the everyday world when Christ returns in glory at the end of time; but in the meantime, in our time, things aren’t always crystal clear. Our vision, now shaped by faith and lived in love, will be perfectly clear only in the Beatific Vision of heaven.

  3. November 20

    Bishop Rojas thanks God for his blessings

    Editor’s note: At press time, Cardinal George was attending the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Baltimore. He requested that new Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Rojas fill in for him as columnist this week. Bishop Rojas offered the reflections he gave Aug. 10 at Holy Name Cathedral at the end of the ordination Mass for himself and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Wypych. The cardinal will return to his column in the next issue.

  4. November 6

    Young people and the new evangelization

    Because this is the Year of Teens and Young Adults in the Archdiocesan Strategic Pastoral Plan, the speaker for Priests’ Day last week was invited to address how young people can be helped to participate in the church’s concern for a new evangelization in our day. Basilian Father Thomas Rosica came from Toronto and combined his expertise as a Scripture scholar with his experience as a university chaplain, the director of the 2005 World Youth Day in Toronto and the CEO of Salt and Light, the Canadian Catholic Television Network.

  5. October 23


    Conscience rights” and their defense in civil law are currently the cause of many protests against proposed government rules on “reproductive services” and health insurance that would drive Catholic hospitals out of health care and Catholic universities out of education. Already the outreach of Catholic Charities in this and other states has been curtailed by a change in the marriage laws.

  6. October 9

    The month of the Holy Rosary: awards for our schools, religious freedom, respect for life

    October is usually a good month for weather in Chicago. It is always a good month in the Church, because it begins with commemorating a popular saint who is a doctor of the church and patron of the missions: St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower.

  7. September 25

    Marriage: a school of sanctity

    Marriage is in the news for many reasons, in part because the nature of marriage as a natural institution is contested, even in law, and also because the contemporary breakdown of marriage is having enormous personal and social consequences.

  8. September 11

    Labor Day 10 Years After 9/11

    The image of the collapsing towers in lower Manhattan continues to haunt our history and our psyche. The anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country falls this year a week after we celebrate work and workers on Labor Day. If we move beyond the image of collapsing buildings, we realize that 9/11 is a story of workers. If we begin with people, as we always should, we meet again and remember prayerfully those who went to work that day in those office buildings: the executives and secretaries, the accountants and analysts, the building cleaners and repairmen. We remember even more vividly those whose work brought them into collapsing buildings: firefighters, police, medical personnel, priests.

  9. August 28

    The church in history; the church today

    World Youth Day, a festival for young Catholics from around the world, took place this year in Madrid, Spain, from Aug. 16-21. The World Youth Day celebration is held every two or three years in a different city. The first World Youth Day I participated in was held in Denver in 1993. A few years before that event, I had become bishop of Yakima, Wash. When I saw the great spiritual impact the five days of catechesis, prayer and celebration with the pope had on the young people who attended from Washington State, I was much encouraged. When the young people returned home and reformed youth ministry in that small diocese, I was grateful to God and to them. I have gone to almost every World Youth Day celebration since Denver.

  10. August 14

    On the front line of the faith

    During the first week of August every year, the Knights of Columbus hold their Supreme Convention. This year it took place in Denver and, as I try to do every year, I was there for the opening Mass and for the “States Dinner” at the end of the first day of the meeting. Many bishops come from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, the Philippines and Poland to show their appreciation for the life and work of the knights.

  11. July 31

    The Church as parable

    The Sundays of summer have us listening at Mass to stories called parables from the Gospel according to St. Matthew. They are parables of the kingdom of God as proclaimed by Jesus in his preaching ministry. They need explanation because they are often marked by paradox.

  12. July 17

    Time away, time apart

    The summer months are marked by vacations, which are time spent away from regular work. The priests of the archdiocese took time away two weeks ago to come together in convocation. The days of convocation were spent considering our mission, our hope and our identity. Our mission is to introduce the world to its savior. The Christ proclaimed in mission is the basis of our hope. The identity of ordained priesthood within that mission of the church is to pastor, to govern the people the Lord gives us to love and care for.

  13. July 3

    Freedom and the Faith

    At times, our national discussion about freedom makes it seem that laws create freedom. But Christ tells us, “…the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:32). God has created us with free will and minds open to truth. Freedom, like life itself, is a gift. Laws can and do protect freedom, or they can destroy it. Both situations have been the case in history. In this country, however, when American Catholics encountered various forms of anti-Catholic prejudice, we could generally rely on the laws to protect our religion, and its truths, as well as our freedom. For this, we have been grateful.

  14. June19

    Are women and men interchangeable at will?

    Much in discussion these past few months are two subjects that might not seem to be related, but they are.

  15. June5

    Mary: Mother most chaste, Virgin most holy

    Two weeks ago I went to St. John, Ind., to help dedicate the permanent shrine to Our Lady of the New Millennium (see photos in the Summer Guide, Page 5a). In the last decade, this great statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary has stopped at over 300 of our parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago and some in the Diocese of Joliet as well. Everywhere, the statue’s presence was the occasion for a renewed devotion to the Mother of God.

  16. May 22

    The month of Mary and Blessed John Henry Newman

    May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary were a prominent part of Catholic prayer life and still are in some places. The recent beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman creates a moment to examine the place of devotion to Mary in Catholic life, because he had to think himself into such devotion when, as an Anglican clergyman, he moved toward entering the Catholic Church.

  17. May 8

    Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday 2011

    “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him” (Jn 20:2). We don’t know…

  18. April 24

    Easter 2011: God sets us free, even when laws enslave

    Two weeks ago, I joined Bishop Joseph Perry and others from the archdiocese in a pilgrimage to the grave of Father Augustus Tolton (1854- 1897), who accepted Archbishop Feehan’s invitation to found St. Monica’s Parish in Chicago in 1891. (See story on Page 7). Because the archdiocese has introduced Father Tolton’s cause for sanctity, we had to recognize officially that he is a historical personage by visiting his grave. It is marked with a large cross in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Quincy, Ill.

  19. April 10

    Lent, 2011: Love and freedom

    Charity or almsgiving is the third component of the discipline of Lent, along with prayer and fasting. Almsgiving is a way of expressing our love of neighbor, coming to his or her help in response to their needs. Love of neighbor is the second great commandment. The first commandment, of course, is to love God with all our hearts and minds and souls. Since God is not needy, we can’t give him alms. We can, however, return to him what he, in his infinite love, has given us: everything we have and are. We can also daily demonstrate our love for God by doing his will, by following his way, marked out by the commandments, the beatitudes and the natural moral law written in our hearts. Obedience to the way of the Lord is a source of joy for those who love him and a source of resentment for those who don’t.

  20. March 27

    Lent 2011: Praying and Preparing to Pray

    Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the activities that shape the church’s observance of Lent. Fasting is an obviously penitential practice, and almsgiving, even though it is of positive help to someone else, involves sacrifice and is penitential. When we pray, we also “give up” something precious to us: our time. People often don’t pray because they are too busy to do so, but they are too busy to do so sometimes because prayer can make us uncomfortable.

  21. March 13

    Lent 2011: ‘I thirst’

    Lent, a time for spiritual renewal, is a time for spiritual reading. This week, “Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two” by Pope Benedict XVI is being published (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011). Since the book covers the Holy Father’s reflections on the last week of the life of Jesus, from the entrance into Jerusalem to the resurrection, it is ideal spiritual reading for Lent.

  22. February 27

    Why doesn’t God love everyone equally?

    On May 1, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI will declare that his predecessor as bishop of Rome and universal pastor, the late Pope John Paul II, is “Blessed.” This means that we can believe that Pope John Paul II lives with the Lord in heaven and we can pray to him publicly. It is not as authoritative an action as canonization, when someone can be called a saint, but it is nonetheless an important event in the story of sanctity in the Church. A pilgrimage, sponsored by New World Publications, will be going to Rome for the beatification ceremony (For information, see Update on Page 4.).

  23. February 13

    Celebrating St. Valentine's Day, 2011: Do love and marriage "go together?"

    Valentine's Day celebrates romantic love, which used to be the theme of many popular songs and movies. It is beautiful to see a loving attraction bud and develop into a deep emotional attachment. It begins to transform the lovers' world. It's the heart of a happy Valentine's Day.

  24. January 30

    In whose interest?

    This past weekend I was in Washington, D.C., with almost 40,000 young people from around the country. About 500 were from the Archdiocese of Chicago. We were there to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that removed the protection of civil law from those members of the human race still in their mother’s womb.

  25. January 16

    What God has joined together...

    As a New Year’s present, an Augustinian priest who is a very effective pastor in the archdiocese gave me a book of short readings from St. Augustine for each day of the year. When I was younger, I used to read St. Thomas Aquinas quite regularly, but St. Thomas died when he was only 49 years old. As I grow older, I tend to turn to St. Augustine more often, since he was a monk who became a bishop and died when he was 76 years old, an age I still hope to attain. Both were theologians and saints. Aquinas was a professor in the Middle Ages who continues to instruct the world in every age; Augustine was a pastor in the fifth century who watched the Roman Empire dissolve violently and tried to understand what God was telling us as the ancient world came to an end. As society came apart around him, St. Augustine saw everything put together in the light of faith.

  26. January 2

    Starting the New Year with a good conscience

    In a recently published lengthy interview with a German journalist, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the sexual abuse of minors by some priests and asked himself a question not often considered in public discussion: How could men trained theologically and spiritually to serve the Lord in his people have committed this crime? He was not reflecting on the weakness of our sinful nature, which is common to all. In that general perspective, anyone of us is capable of any sin. Instead, he was asking how someone with a priestly vocation, whose conscience was formed according to the instructions of the church and the demands of moral living, could have done this terrible deed.