Assumption Catholic Church
  323 West Illinois Street - Chicago IL 60654
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Fr. Joseph Chamblain, O.S.M.


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Assumption Catholic Church - Latest Message from our Pastor


3/18/2018 Fr. Joseph Chamblain, OSM    


There was a time in history when the Liturgies of Holy Week were not just activities in church that some people managed to attend. In Christian times, these church services and processions often took precedence over secular activities. Now Holy Week in Chicago is just like every other week. If we want to come to church on Holy Thursday or Good Friday, we may have to do a lot of juggling with work and family activities. We know why Holy Week is holy. This is the week we recall the central events of our faith:  the institution of the Eucharist and the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That is reason enough to make the effort to attend; but let me suggest that there is still another reason to relive these events with Jesus. These services also form the central story of your life.

We begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday. Jesus entered Jerusalem surrounded by cheering crowds. Maybe we have never been named the Super Bowl MVP or a finalist on American Idol, but we have all had our moments of being cheered. Fame, though, is fickle. The crowd soon turned against Jesus. How well do we handle the highs and lows in our life?  Do we stay as centered on God the Father as Jesus did? He never took easy praise or unfair criticism too seriously, and he never let the promise of popularity steer him away from his identity or mission.

On Thursday Jesus had his last supper with his disciples. Last Suppers are a fact of life. Perhaps we notice that especially when the extended family gathers for ritual meals like Thanksgiving, and we are struck by the absence of someone who we shared this festive meal last year. That was their last supper with us. Sometimes last suppers are more personal. Jesus knew this was his last supper and he had some very specific instructions to give his disciples. Sometime we are having a meal with someone who is in frail health and realize that this might be our last meal with them. Sometimes we have no clue.

This past weekend one of our friars, Fr. Robert Warsey, died after a lengthy illness. Bob and I were in formation together and twice after ordination were assigned to the same community. Outside of that, we remained friends; and over the course of forty years we had lots of meals together. For many of the years I was in Chicago, his family home was my home for Thanksgiving. I got to thinking Monday morning, “When was our Last Supper?” Then I remembered. It was just about a year ago and we were both fine. Bob was fully involved in being pastor of Annunciata Parish on the East Side. Then, one Sunday in June he began feeling weak during Mass and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. When I spoke to him the next day, we joked about the ambulance, because I had had to leave Mass early under similar circumstances in March. I pointed out, though, that they released me after a few hours and they had kept him overnight for more tests. There must be something more going on. It turned out that he had a rare blood disease for which all known treatments failed. What last suppers do you remember?

Good Friday is about Jesus’ suffering and death, but it is also about how we make sense of our suffering and death. Good Friday describes our entire Christian journey—a dying to sin and selfishness and embracing the way of Christ, which is also the way of the cross.  What is the cross I am carrying? Do I carry it willingly or do I carry it resentfully? Do I feel any kinship with Christ on the Cross? In part of the Good Friday liturgy, we line up to reverence the cross. At the noon service, because we are under time constraints, we use multiple crosses; but at the evening service everyone processes down the center aisle to reverence a single large cross. How should one reverence the cross? Some touch it, some genuflect before it, some kiss it. Once, in another parish, a man who had led a very active life had just recently had both legs amputated because of diabetes. He was wheeled up to the cross. He hugged it and started weeping. He held on for two or three minutes. No one minded that he was delaying the service. This was his Good Friday.

                                                                                                    Fr. Joe


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