St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Faith in Him

Just keep an open heart to Jesus. He is the way, te tuth and the life. His very being is associated with the “way”, how we are to live our life. Sometimes we don’t like His way. Just be open to Him and trust in Him. 

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Symbolism in the Church #12

The Patron of this parish is rightfully a figure of prominence in this church. This parish was named after St Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. Our heavenly Father, to whom we address the prayer that Jesus taught us, chose St Joseph to be the father here on earth for His only begotten Son. St Joseph was hand picked by God, of all men throughout all of time, to be the earthly father of Jesus. This alone should make us pause and ponder his importance in the life of Jesus and, therefore, our lives.
Since St Joseph is the namesake of our parish community, it should make us pause all the more and put ourselves individually and as a community under his care to lead us ever closer to Jesus. We are not a community of just Jesus and me; that is not why Jesus founded a church. We need help from each other here below and help from above. If we did not need help from above, why would God make angels and have them serve us, as is well attested in the bible. Continue reading

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Divine Mercy Celebration

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! This day is a more recent celebration. It all started in Poland during the 1930s. We still have some parishioners who were born and lived at that time before World War II. Saint Maria Faustina died in 1938, but before her death, Jesus came to her in many visions teaching her about His mercy, love and compassion He has on those in need. It was right before World War II and Jesus knew that humanity was going in the wrong direction. The feast of Divine Mercy was to be in preparation of Jesus in the second coming so that souls would take advantage of His mercy before He came as the Judge. Humanity would need this as the world was about to undergo the wrath of the NAZI party on top of the suppression of communism.
St Faustina writes that souls caught into worldliness will “burn as an offering before God and beg for mercy for the whole world…and by their entreaties they will obtain blessings for priests, and through their prayers prepare the whole world for the final coming of Jesus.” (Paragraph #1155, Divine Mercy in My Soul). We have had more martyrs for the faith than we have ever had before in history since the time of St. Faustina. During the Nazi reign there were over 60 million people that were killed in the name of progressing humanity. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Since January of 1973, over 60 million babies have been killed because they have been relegated as some sort of sub-human. There are so many other sins that are considered normal behavior. Today we need Divine Mercy as our hope.
Saint Faustina even suffered from the sins of abortion today as she describes it in her diary at length on September 16, 1937: “At eight o’clock I was seized with such violent pains that for three hours … No medicine had any effect on me, and whatever I swallowed I threw up. At times the pains caused me to lose consciousness. Jesus had me realize that this way I took part in His agony in the Garden, and that He himself allowed these sufferings in order to offer reparation to God for the souls murdered in the wombs…I have gone through these sufferings three times now…If only I could save even one soul from murder by means of these sufferings.” (Par #1276) But God’s mercy is greater than any sins or compilation of sins. Jesus tells St. Faustina, “My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of my goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of my mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart.” (Par # 1485)
So how do we receive God’s Mercy? Primarily through Confession and the Eucharist. Confession is where God’s mercy defeats Satan’s hold on us through shame and sin. I suppose that is why Satan tries so hard to convince us not to go to Confession. Our sins are wiped out when we go to Jesus in Confession. According to St. Faustina, it takes complete sincerity and openness, humility and obedience to really benefit much from confession so that it would change our lives (Par #113). Jesus also wants to give us all the graces we need in life through the Eucharist when we receive Him. Jesus says, “I desire to unite myself with human souls; My great delight is to unite myself with souls. Know, my daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. … (Par 1385) When we receive Him with a tender heart, that is when we benefit from communion the most.
Freedom from sins and union with God who is love. This is God’s plan for you for starting on Divine Mercy Sunday. He is inviting you today.

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Symbolism in the Church #6

The high altar does not stand alone like the front altar. Most noticeably, it has what is known as the reredos. They are decorations that extend from the back of the altar to help focus on the sacrifice on the altar, the same sacrifice that lives in the tabernacle. Ours here at St Joseph is very rich in symbolism and teaching moments, more than in most I find.
First, the gold reminds us of the majesty of God. It is most evidently a golden palace. How many grandparents take their grandchildren to church here and the kids get it? It’s a great castle! Yes, a great golden castle for Jesus. That is truly where He lives, at the very center, the tabernacle. And in this majestic castle, we are invited to live, too, because in this castle there are many rooms for us (John 14:2-3). Jesus has prepared a room for you. Which room is it? Are you like the foundation or pillars and sturdy? Are you close to the heart of God, in the center? Has God risen you to lofty heights? Or are you by the arms of the reredos, always in His embrace? Or are you by the slain lamb from the long suffering of this life? … Continue reading