Monday morning greetings from hot and steamy Chicago, where the temperatures today and tomorrow are supposed to reach the mid-90's.
Yesterday morning I went to Mass at Notre Dame de Chicago parish. Two things occurred, which bear mentioning. When the lector arrived at the ambo for the second reading, instead of saying, "A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to Philemon," he confidently proclaimed, "A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to Philomena." I quietly chuckled.
The second and main thing that stood out for me was the homily. The homilist explained that instead of delivering his own homily, he wanted to heed Pope Francis' call to pray for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the war-torn areas of the world. He brought it home by inviting us to pray for peace in our own Chicago neighborhoods where, each weekend, people are being murdered on our city streets. Then he told us how moved he was by Pope Francis' homily during the Angelus the Sunday before in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. I posted that text last week. He then asked us to listen to those words. The priest then spoke Francis' words as if they were his own; he spoke with eloquence and passion as he read the pope's address. Hearing it "live," so to speak, really touched my own heart as I prayed fervently for peace.
During the homily, I happened to glance up to the ceiling just above the altar, and this is what I saw:
Here is a closeup:
There it was, one simple word: PAX.
After Mass, when I took these photos, I couldn't help but remember a day back in the late 1970's, when I was privileged to join in with a group of Pax Christi members in a peace march in New York City. There were leaders from all of the world's religions in that march. We listened to prayers lifted up by Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, and Protestants as we moved from one house of worship to another, praying for peace. It was a day forever etched in my memory and Catholic consciousness.
Let me echo Pope Francis' words from Saturday's prayer service for peace:
“Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world!”
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.