Twice a month the staff of St. Gregory the Great Church send out a spiritual reflection to all parishioners for whom we have an e-mail address. What follows are the most recent of these reflections. If you would like to have your name added to our e-mail reflection list, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will add your name to our listing.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – FR. BRIAN FISCHER – FEBRUARY 12
A Winter Reflection
Several months after my Mom died my brothers and sister and I persuaded my Dad that it was time to give up their home. They had lived there nearly sixty years. They had raised their family of seven there. My father had lived there longer than anywhere else in his 91 years. But we didn’t like the idea of him living there alone. His joints have become wonky, and there were just too many stairs.
So we found him a small apartment in a retirement home in Oak Park. He’s on the twelfth floor, and so has a great view. It’s only a mile from my brother and sister-in-law’s, and my siblings who are still ‘in town’ try to get there to see him at least once a week.
But it’s not an easy drive from Andersonville. Whichever way Google Maps sends me, traffic always seems heavy, and the drive always seems to take 15 minutes longer than I’ve planned for. And as I’ve gotten older, I increasingly find all driving stressful.
So for the past 5 or 6 months, I’ve been taking the L. I walk over to the Red Line stop at Bryn Mawr, and take it down to Lake Street in the Loop. Then I take the Lake Street L to the end of the line at Harlem Avenue. My Dad’s apartment is only two blocks from there. I find it much less nerve-racking, and some days, almost contemplative. While the majority of passengers seldom take their eyes from their phones, I mostly just watch the world pass by.
I haven’t used public transportation in any regular way since I was a high-school seminarian at Quigley. I had forgotten how much opportunity it affords for ‘people-watching.’ Those of you who use busses or the L every day might think me goofy, but I also love the perspective that public transit offers of our city. The L, especially, offers a prolonged view into Chicago’s back yards. One sees the backs of buildings --- homes and apartment buildings and businesses. And of course, the ninety minute journey presents one with a panorama of human diversity. A snapshot of Chicago’s poverty and wealth.
Along the lakefront, and especially downtown, there are blocks and blocks of new high-rises. 40 and 50 and 60-story buildings that weren’t there ten years ago. Each one costing millions --- or many millions --- of dollars. Some of this new architecture is beautiful, or at least striking.
Much of it, though, is forgettable.
There is a bit of graffiti on the back of a building near Wilson that offers a ‘memento mori’ to a dead friend: RIP, 1994 – 2018. Only 24 years old.
Nearly every time I make the round-trip I encounter panhandlers begging for change. I wear an overcoat with deep pockets, filled with quarters that I had been setting aside for years, for parking meters and tolls.
It’s a grace, sometimes, to simply watch the world pass by.
To simply watch the world pass.
~ Fr. Brian Fischer
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION - CHERI DAHLEN - JANUARY 25
The Frank Capra film, "It’s a Wonderful Life" is one of my Top 5 Favorite Movies of All Time, and every time I watch it, I notice something new. This past Christmas season, I picked up on a new theme: "Then what?". The first scene with these words is when George and Mary walk home from the party after falling in the pool. They stop and look at the moon, and the scene continues like this:
What do you want, Mary? You want the moon?
Just say the word, and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.
Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.
I’ll take it. And then what?
The second time we hear that phrase is after George and Mary’s wedding. They’re in Ernie’s cab, and George is telling Ernie about their honeymoon plans:
A whole week in New York. A whole week in Bermuda.
The highest hotels, the oldest champagne, the richest caviar,
the hottest music, and the prettiest wife!
That does it! Then what?
Then what, honey?
It seems that now that the Advent and Christmas seasons are behind us and we’ve entered into Ordinary time, many of us might be asking ourselves, "Then what?", and the potential for a trip through the spiritual doldrums is pretty high (of course, the weather doesn’t help with that, either!). Ordinary time inspires neither the eager anticipation of Advent, nor the joy and wonder of Christmas. Ordinary time is, well, ordinary. Ho-hum…dull…commonplace…mediocre…uneventful. We might as well just go into spiritual hibernation and wait for Lent to arrive.
But, no! The answer to the "Then what?" question during Ordinary time doesn’t have to be "the usual". Ordinary time has the potential to be EXTRA-ORDINARY! To transform something drab into something exceptional, we only need to open our eyes and ears and hearts and set ourselves on a path of greater awareness of, and appreciation for, the surprising and remarkable ways in which God makes Himself known to us. Then, our answer to, "Then what?" can be something truly wondrous that connects us more strongly to God and to each other.