IN GOD’S WORLD
This coming Tuesday, November 25, at 7:30pm at the Chicago Sinai Temple, 11 W. Delaware (State & Delaware), Holy Name Cathedral, Fourth Presbyterian Church and the Chicago Sinai Congregation all will participate in an interfaith Thanksgiving service. Sinai’s new head Rabbi, Seth Limmer, Shannon Kershner of Fourth Church, and I will be there marking the first time in my thirteen years at the Cathedral that the head clergyperson of all three congregations has taken part. Each of us wants to brag about how many of our regular worshippers joined us. So let me invite you. Hole Name’s music director H. Ricardo Ramirez, associate music director David Jonies, and the Schola Cantorum Cathedralis will provide the music. Join in this tradition on Tuesday evening as Chicago’s children of God on the Gold Coast give thanks.
Just about every Sunday evening, I write this column for the following weekend’s parish bulletin. Consequently, there is no way I know yet how the installation ceremonies turned out. However, if the amount of work put into planning those events can forecast the outcome, I think we can be proud of Holy Name Cathedral once again living up to our world-famous reputation. Part of that good name is directly related to generous amount of time which both staff and volunteers supplied making the Archbishop’s installation a week-long, beautiful prayer.
With the Christmas season already making noise, we join in by announcing that the Christmas Midnight Mass tickets will soon be available. Since 1969 when the Cathedral re-opened after a 20-month renovation, tickets have been distributed to the popular and televised Christmas Mass. The ticket guarantees a seat before 11:20pm when the Christmas carols are played. At 11:20pm all remaining spaces become general admission. Some worshippers end up stranding; but the good news is that, in my twelve Christmases at Holy Name, no one has been turned away.
How can you get tickets for Midnight Mass? Mail a self-address, business-size, stamped envelope to MIDNIGHT MASS, 730 N. WABASH AVE., CHICAGO, IL 60611. Tickets will be mailed back to you in the order requests are received. Please do not ask for tickets unless you are sure you will join us; not showing up is unfair. We will run out of tickets; so if you want to be here for Midnight Mass, get your request in the mail soon. Remember, too, that there will be six Masses on Christmas Day itself; and there also will be Masses at 4:00pm and 6:00pm on Christmas Eve. Be aware, however, that the 4:00pm Mass is the most crowded Mass of the year, even bigger than Midnight.
Recently I was able to eat lunch with Shannon Kerschner, the new pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue between Chestnut and Delaware. Rev. Kershner has an excellent reputation as a preacher; and I told her I was looking forward to hearing her at the interfaith prayer service to which both of our Churches have been invited at the Chicago Sinai Temple, 11 W. Delaware, on Tuesday, November 25. She was born in Waco, Texas, the daughter of a minister and a school teacher. Her seminary training was at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. Pastoral stops have taken her to Georgia and Texas with her most recent call as pastor of Black Mountain Presbyterian Church in western North Carolina. In one way, I found our conversation to have something in common with my early experiences with Archbishop Cupich. Both he and Mrs. Kershner are newcomers to this part of the Vineyard. Both have a lot of questions; both are not afraid to ask. For example, Pastor Kershner asked me what I thought was the biggest social problem in Chicago. I nominated the gun violence which stains Chicago’s reputation; but I could have listed homelessness, hunger, the continuing weakening of family structures, and a half-dozen others. Neither of us came up with magic solutions. Still we agreed that the issues need attention. She caught me off guard, as we were leaving the restaurant, when she asked me what I personally would want her to pray for. I asked her to pray for our new Catholic shepherd, Archbishop Cupich. In turn, when I asked Mrs. Kershner what I should pray for on her behalf, she quickly answered, “My family, especially my children.” In all my meetings with others in our line of work, since the great majority of those encounters have been with celibate priests, I believe that is the first time a fellow pastor ever asked me to pray for his or her kids. Let me keep my promise by inviting anyone reading this sentence to pray for the grade school-age Kerschner children, too. After a discernment that lasted over two years, Shannon Kershner has become, not the first female minister at Fourth Church, but the first woman to be recognized as the sole head pastor of that historic congregation. I look forward to working with her in the Holy Name of Jesus.
CHICAGO SHARES voucher program enables people to express kindness in giving. Chicagoans purchase SHARES at the Cathedral and other Churches and distribute them to the homeless and hungry on the street. Recipients use the vouchers at participating stores and restaurants for food and other basics, but never for alcohol or tobacco. Learn more about this ministry that was founded at Holy Name by going to chicagoshares.com . This November, CHICAGO SHARES has a chance at a $10,000 grant. You can help. KIND snack will give $10,000 to a nonprofit organization for spreading kindness to those in need. The entry that receives the most “votes” will unlock the funding. Before the end of this month, vote. http://causes.kindsnacks.com/cause/chicago-shares-holiday-vouchers-for-homeless/ The $10,000 award will buy vouchers that can be distributed to the Churches and ultimately the needy.
Whenever you thank someone, you acknowledge the one you thank. Therefore, in thanking God, you acknowledge God. When a nation engages in Thanksgiving, the nation acknowledges God. That acknowledgment at its most shallow point permits God to have one day, the national nod toward the divine with cranberries on the side. However, at its deepest point, Thanksgiving is the understanding that we live in God’s world, not the other way around. Three Masses will be offered at Holy Name Cathedral on Thanksgiving Day – 8:00am, 10:00am, and 12:10pm. The Cathedral will close at 1:00pm Thursday; the office will not be open at all. See if you can swim to the deep end of Thanksgiving realizing that we live in God’s world.
Msgr. Dan Mayall