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May the Lord give you peace! That greeting originated with St. Francis of Assisi, (1181-1226). I had the opportunity to visit Assisi on four different occasions during my sabbatical. I love visiting Assisi as it such a space of spiritual nourishment and refreshment. Also, the town is incredibly interesting dating back to several centuries before the birth of Christ.
Another reason that I have such an affinity for St. Francis is because my dad’s name is Francis and my middle name is Francis. Another devotional connection for me is the fact that Francis’ baptismal name was John (Giovanni). Francis (Francesco) was a nickname given to Francis by his father, Pietro, and refers to “the little French-speaking one”. Francis’ mother, Pica, was from France and Pietro used to travel to France as a cloth merchant. That makes St. Francis’ name John Francis and that, my friends, is my name. Okay, now that I have finished my mental gymnastics to establish my devotional relationship with St. Francis, I will share a bit about the tagline, “May the Lord give you peace!”
The Lord revealed to St. Francis that he and the brothers were to greet everyone they met with the words, “May the Lord give you peace!” He said not to be embarrassed by addressing these words to others and that the Lord would greatly bless the brothers for it. When I read the story in the legend of St. Francis, I thought, wow, I could do that and I should do that! Normally, I send an e-mail beginning with a salutation such as Good morning or Good afternoon, but wouldn’t it be a better greeting to pray the Lord’s peace onto the recipient, especially during a time when there is so much conflict in people’s hearts. Peace is what every heart is seeking. The world is impotent to satisfy this desire. We are seeking evangelical peace, in other words, the peace of Christ. The blessing of evangelical peace permeates the Mass. Think of the greeting, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father”; and, the dismissal, “Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life.” And, don’t forget the exchange of the sign of peace before Holy Communion to mention a few occurrences.
So if you wonder why I am now opening my written addresses with the words from St. Francis, “May the Lord give you peace,” it is because there is a great need for this gift.
It’s great to be back with you again. I love my Blessed Sacrament family.
To conclude, my other tagline from St. Ignatius, of course:
Ad majorem Dei gloriam,
Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor
We would love to borrow any of the above by Monday evening. If you text/call Gretchen at 316.207.5107 she would gladly get them from you. All items will be returned after the event.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our new Eucharistic Adoration Lead, Angie Holladay:
“I am Angie Holladay and my family have been members of this parish since we married in 1983. Both my kids attended Blessed Sacrament and KMC; they are now married and living outside of the state, but Mike and I continue to call Blessed Sacrament ‘home’. Fr. Jirak asked me to lead this important ministry as Rose Kuhlman, who has led it for over 20 yrs, would like to take a step back. She did a marvelous job and I have big shoes to fill! Rose will continue as Day Coordinator on Thursdays.”
In addition to our scheduled adorers, Angie pointed out to me that many parishioners are taking advantage of the adoration chapel by stopping in from time to time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. This wonderful!
However, I would like to challenge all parishioners to sign up for an hour of adoration each week. It is a pillar of our Parish Priority Plan, here at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, to Cultivate the Spiritual Life. Making a commitment to an hour praying before the Blessed Sacrament would definitely help you, in Fr. Jirak’s words, to take your spiritual life to the next level! You do not need to be any kind of spiritual expert to have an adoration hour. I know this from experience, as I was somewhat forced to take an adoration hour in college. I didn’t have any direction as to what to do, but I just took that time to speak to the Lord and in a few weeks my relationship with the Lord became much stronger and very personal. When you sign up for an hour you are setting an appointment with God, blocking out time in your week that is just for Him. Trust me, God can use your commitment of time in adoration to bestow the gifts of faith and peace in abundance.
Angie also wanted me to mention that by signing up for an hour, it neither means that you can no longer visit at-will, nor that you can never take a vacation. We have a list of substitutes who are willing to step in when needed. So I challenge you once again to sign up for one hour of adoration each week. Of specific consideration are the multiple hours that have only one assigned adorer. These hours include the very early morning hours, daytime hours, and Saturdays.
To sign up for an hour, please call Angie Holladay at 316-633-6776 or speak to one of the day coordinators listed in this bulletin. God bless, Fr. Adam Grelinger
God bless, Fr. Adam Grelinger
I leave this Sunday for my sabbatical in Rome, Italy. I am very excited for this opportunity to learn more about my Catholic faith and to dive deeper into the spiritual life. My pastoral approach to ministry has always been that the minister must first be alive with the faith before he is able to pass it on to others. Fire comes from fire. I often quote St. Bernard of Clarvoix teaching to those seeking to do good things for God, “If you are wise, you will be reservoirs and not channels.” We have many channels in the Church today but very few reservoirs. My purpose for the sabbatical is solely for the benefit of filling my reservoir that I may come back to you spilling over with water for the furthering of your spiritual life.
While I am gone, Fr. Adam and Fr. Andrew will be in charge of the parish. I have been super impressed with these young men. They are both wise beyond their years, full of learning, committed to the life of prayer and passionate about exercising their priestly ministry. They will be assisted by our outstanding parish staff who many of you know very well.
Before Fr. Adam and Fr. Andrew were assigned to Blessed Sacrament, the Bishop called me into his office to discuss the prospect of Fr. Curtis serving as chaplain to Kapaun and Blessed Sacrament being assigned two new priests. He shared with me that he knows some people will find it problematic to send two brand new priests to a large parish where the pastor is leaving for a three-month sabbatical, but if there is a parish and staff that can handle it just fine, it is Blessed Sacrament. That was a great compliment to both our parish staff and our wonderful parishioners!
During my sabbatical, the Bishop has asked me to keep a low profile in order to focus on drinking in the many blessings of this sacred time. I feel that I am very fortunate to have this time away to enrich and enhance my priesthood. I am passionate about being a priest and I am more than grateful to be your pastor.
Please pray for me during these three months as I will certainly pray for you. And, I will see you on the first weekend of Advent!
Ad majorem Dei gloriam,
Rev. John F. Jirak
"Run for the Poor"!!!! The Oktoberfest route is one of the best 5K races in#Wichita. Run through the scenic and historic College Hill street and finish up smack dab in the middle of our annual Oktoberfest celebration. Featuring live music, inflatables and rides for the kids and of course, German Beer and Food. All runners receive a Brat and Beer(21 and older) Click here to Register.
Come to the Run for the Poor and see if you can beat our Associate Pastors, Father Andrew Bergkamp and Father Adam Grelinger.
To donate or sponsor, click HERE
God’s promises: now or later? Well, the answer is both. The Christian maxim of already but not yet is the scope of the Christian life. For example, when we read the words from this Sunday’s first reading, “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them and bring you back to the land of Israel”, is this promise to be fulfilled at the end of time or now? The answer is both. We know at the final judgment, Christ’s resurrected life will resurrect our own from the grave. At the same time, His resurrected life is already operative so that we experience now, for a moment, as Pope Benedict XVI states, “ahead of time something that will constitute the happiness of paradise.”
God’s promise to “open your grave” and to have us “rise from them” is happening here and now! Of the graves that grieve many of us is the cemetery of dead faith among non-practicing and ex-Catholics. Every week, I hear at least several stories of grieving family members whose children have abandoned the Catholic faith. Most of these children attended our own Catholic schools. The temptation is discouragement and I have certainly succumbed at times. However, the invitation from the prophet Ezekiel is hope. God promises to resurrect these souls. I believe whole-heartedly that the New Evangelization is the Holy Spirit’s effort to have our lost brothers and sisters “rise” from the graves of the cemetery of dead faith and to bring them “back to the land of the Israel” in the Catholic Church.
Living the New Evangelization is one of our three parish priorities. This is certainly appropriate as St. John Paul II himself stated already in 1990, “I sense the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energy to a new evangelization.” And, of course, Pope Francis, “In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers.” There are many New Evangelization efforts happening at Blessed Sacrament and I pray that they multiply. We have created a new page on the parish website to keep everyone engaged with our parish efforts in the New Evangelization. You can check out the page by clicking on the Parish Priority Plan tab on the parish website or going directly here.
Before concluding, I am happy to announce that Becky Meyer will be working part-time at the parish office as our Assistant Stewardship Coordinator. The growth of our parish stewardship has been wonderful, but we are in need of more infrastructure to sustain and continue our growth. A fun fact, Renee Riter, our Stewardship Coordinator, (along with many other responsibilities) met with over 200 families last year! Becky will be serving our parishioners in many ways by assisting Renee in meeting with new families and school families as well as with serving our stewards in leadership positions and assisting ministries in their particular needs.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam, Rev. John F. Jirak
In 1994, members of the Hutu tribe in Rwanda took up arms against the Tutsi tribe. In 100 days, the Hutu tribe slaughtered over 800,000 Tutsis using only spears, clubs and machetes. It was genocide, and few Tutsis survived. Immaculee Ilibagiza was one of the few, but most all of her family and friends were killed.
In the years since the genocide, Immaculee has come to grips with what happened, and what she can do about it. She has written a book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide, and has been telling her story around the world. Immaculee is regarded as one of world's leading speakers on peace, faith, and forgiveness and she will share her message through a retreat at The Church of the Blessed Sacrament, 124 N. Roosevelt, Wichita Kansas. It begins Friday evening, July 14th, (4:30-9:00) and concludes Saturday morning, July 15th, (8:30-12:30).
We look forward to having you join us for this wonderful retreat opportunity.
A friend of mine expressed to me his angst about not being able to remember people’s names as well as when he was younger. In fact, he presently feels a pronounced lag in recalling names. The loss or diminishment of one’s memory is a great fear for many people who are aging. One hears, “take anything, but not my memory.” There is almost an instinctual sense that in losing one’s memory a person ceases to exist and this triggers great fear. Memory is essential to the human psyche as we draw from it in everything that we do. Those of us who have had family members with dementia know this fact only all too clear.
My grandfather Jim passed away in 2007. Grandpa was a very good athlete in his day—I got my wheels from him. I recall reminiscing with grandpa about football. He, too, had played football as a youth. I laughed when he told me that after practice he would fold up his helmet and put it in his pocket. About five years before his death Grandpa began to suffer from Alzheimer’s. During this time he struggled greatly. He fell into fits of anger at time, which was not normal for him; was often disoriented and many times fearful. All the result of losing his memory.
As bad as it is to lose one’s memory, it is much worse to lose one’s spiritual memory. Psalm 103 from this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm speaks of the need to actively engage our memory in recalling God many works lest we forget. King David exhorts himself, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” This Psalm teaches us that we have to stir ourselves to remember what God has done lest we fall into a sort of spiritual dementia. The result of spiritual dementia, like its neurological counterpart, includes disorientation about finding happiness, great fear and, interestingly, bursts of anger. Hmm, this seems to capture the spirit of many hearts in our day and age. People have short fuses, fear is prevalent and there is a hopeless groping for meaning. Maybe the Psalmist is offering the remedy, right here, right now: Remember, “forget not” all his kindnesses!
The hopeful thing about spiritual dementia is that it can absolutely be avoided. We merely need to recall often the many benefits that we have received and to “praise the Lord, O my soul.” Frequently, this will mean giving thanks to God when we don’t feel grateful. In other words, don’t wait for the spontaneous feeling to give praise to God. We will have to exhort ourselves and stir our souls like King David in Psalm 103.
St. Robert Bellarmine comments that David recognizes that because of weakness, he must command himself to give thanks:, “due to our human frailty, a consciousness of human infirmity, that is very apt to cool in matters that do not come under cognizance of the senses, especially such as God, “who dwelleth in light inaccessible” he (King David), therefore, adds, “and never forget all he hath done for thee.”
“Bless the Lord, O my soul. And forget not all his benefits.”
Ad majorem Dei gloriam,
Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor
AND SO IT BEGINS
One fine Saturday morning I decided to wake up around 4:30 a.m. to attend a men’s bible study about “pride.” I had a general idea about what this word meant but soon found out I had a little understanding of the true meaning.
When I read the definition of pride, it stung like swarming wasps on my ear which by the way happened when I was a kid.
The Catholic Catechism defines pride as “an inordinate self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself in competition with God.” A google search defines pride as “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from ones own achievements.”
It hurts because I know it’s a HUGE struggle for me and has affected my life in many ways in the past. I’ve lost jobs, friends, hurt family members and burned many bridges. I’ll give you a few examples in the next blog I will write very soon. This blog is about ways to conquer pride.
How does one conquer pride and all the evil things that come with it? Romans 12-3 says “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” I think this bible verse says it pretty well.
If you think about what God did for us it’s really pretty sobering. He sent His son to die for ALL our sins on the cross. THAT INCLUDES PRIDE PEOPLE! But what I think is most sobering is the fact that Jesus IS God. He was tortured and ridiculed and did this without even the slightest bit of pride. He did ALL of this with humility. He did this because HE LOVES US!
It’s difficult swallowing pride and being humble in such a competitive world. If you have ever traveled to a big city like Chicago, the honking horns let you know how impatient this world is. The next time someone cuts you off or honks at you because they think you’ve cut them off, simply ignore it. That’s not easy for me, just ask my wife Erin. But if you can think about Jesus dying on that cross with so much humility, maybe that will change the way you react. Maybe that pride that gets in the way will one day turn into well, humility.
Thank you for reading my first blog. Please feel free to comment. Gods Blessings!