Sunday, 09 February 2020 17:19

The necessity of Sunday Mass

Do me a favor and please read this all the way through, not stopping until you get to the end.

Growing up, there were two basic rules at home (there were more than two but two in particular really stick out in my memory). One was that you were to get a job when you turned 16; the second was that you went to Mass every Sunday and holy day. If you were too sick to go to Sunday Mass, then you were obviously too sick to do anything else. When we would go on vacation, the first thing my dad would do when we got to our hotel was to find out where the nearest Catholic church was and what their Sunday Mass schedule was. You can take a break from work, school, and many other things in life, but you can’t take a break from God. Imagine for one moment if he took a break from us (and you think this world is messed up now?); it would be cataclysmic.

Sunday Mass is an obligation. The Third Commandment handed down by God to Moses is that the Sabbath Day is to be kept holy. In our Christian tradition, the church understands this as participating at Mass on Sundays. Sunday is the Christian Sabbath (the original day being Saturday) because it was on Sunday that our Lord rose from the dead to new and everlasting life. Participation at Sunday Mass is a precept of the church and to willfully miss Sunday Mass, without serious reason or without a dispensation, is a grave sin according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2181).

When an act is determined by the church to be gravely sinful and the act is done freely and knowingly as being gravely sinful, then it is mortally sinful. What does this mean? The church teaches that mortal sin that is not repented of excludes a soul from heaven. Having said this, in the same section of the Catechism, the church teaches that final judgment ultimately belongs to the justice and mercy of God (CCC 1861). For those who willfully miss Sunday Mass or Mass on holy days of obligation, the Cathedral offers daily opportunities to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation.

So why am I bringing this up? Last weekend Mass attendance dropped significantly. This happens from time to time, sometimes due to holiday weekends and sometimes due to reasons known only to God. Last weekend I suspect it was due to the cold weather. It’s not fun going out in the cold. For some, they should not venture out in extreme weather due to the necessity of not endangering their personal well-being. For others, it is not so much about necessity but convenience or preference.

At times, we can fall into the trap of misplaced priorities or false judgments about what is good and what is better: vacations, kids’ sporting events, too much “fun” on Saturday night, personal comfort, etc. If we are contemplating missing Sunday Mass (not including being sick or caring for someone who is, or having to work for the sake of being able to live), we have to honestly ask ourselves if there is a duty or serious reason that necessitates our absence; put another way, is what I am doing instead of going to Mass going to deepen my relationship with the Lord or weaken it and possibly break it? Furthermore, if I am responsible for others getting to Mass, like children, how is this judgment going to help or hinder their relationship with God?

Am I casting judgments or aspersions? No; but I am trying to fulfill both my sacred duty as a shepherd of souls as well as fulfilling the prophetic call that we all have by virtue of baptism by calling folks back to right relationship with God. Like the prophets of old, I may be risking having stones thrown at me but I care enough about the salvation of those who come to this Cathedral that I am willing to risk the displeasure of some.

I have focused on the “negative” aspects of missing Mass but the positive reasons should be our greater motivation. First and foremost, we come to Mass for love of God and in gratitude to him for his graces and mercies; even here, the goodness of God cannot be outdone because when we come to Sunday Mass not only do we encounter him but we are able to receive him truly and totally in the Eucharist. If we truly want to be disciples, holy Mass is where that desire should be strengthened and renewed each week: “the Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice (CCC 2181).”

Sunday Mass is far more of an opportunity than an obligation. Faithfully coming to Mass on Sunday will not necessarily make your life easier nor will it make your problems and crosses disappear. It will, however, draw you closer to God and give you graces to push forward through challenges and difficulties, and families that worship together at Sunday Mass will find their bonds strengthened. Absence from Sunday Mass is absence from the divine presence in the Eucharist; removing ourselves from the Eucharist puts us, spiritually, on a dangerous and slippery slope.

So, literally, for love of God, come to Sunday Mass (and on holy days too). God in his goodness has given us 168 hours each week; rendering one hour back to him in praise and thanksgiving is truly not too much to ask. Sometimes it may not be convenient, but so goes life. By faithfully participating at Mass you will find that the Lord will offer you more than you can offer him and you will be all the better for it … we will be all the better for it because together we are the Mystical Body of Christ, called to be his presence in the world.

Father Chris House is rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield and Chancellor for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. This column appeared in Cathedral Weekly Jan. 26.

While many of us have been contemplating and beginning to carry out our New Year’s resolutions for 2020, Father Daniel Bergbower spent several weeks in 2018 and 2019 fulfilling his own personal pilgrimage resolution by completing the Camino de Santiago, known in English as the Way of St. James.

The pilgrimage is an epic journey of 500 miles, leading pilgrims to the Shrine of the Apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where the remains of St. James are buried.

CHARLESTON — Angie Buescher didn’t go looking to be a youth minister. She actually called St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Charleston to see if they needed help with teaching religious education. After being told all the spots were filled, she learned there was one opening: youth ministry. Fast forward 22 years and Buescher would have never guessed she would be the youth minister, and it would become her passion.

“Although I told them I had no idea what a youth minister’s role was, I got the job and was guided by the priest,” she says.

An incredible story of the true Presence

A story from 1995 reports that when St. Pope John Paul II was visiting the United States, on his last day in Baltimore, the pope said that after greeting seminarians outside St. Mary’s Seminary, he wanted to spend some time inside, to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

Sunday, 12 January 2020 10:44

Keeping Christ in Christmas

EFFINGHAM — The Effingham Knights of Columbus Council held its 13th annual Keep Christ in Christmas Poster Contest this year and 340 posters were submitted. In addition to the age groups that go on for higher level judging, the Council also has a contest for children age 4 and under. The first-place winners of the other age groups were submitted for judging at the diocesan and state levels. The Council winners were presented their awards at a ceremony held on Dec. 18.

In December 2017, Springfield Right to Life moved into a new space, next door to Planned Parenthood. Since that move, Laura Colantino, who was hired as their new executive director last November, says Springfield Right to Life has become more active.

Sunday, 22 December 2019 10:18

Are you receiving the Eucharist correctly?

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus this Christmas season, let us remember he is always present to us in the Eucharist.

Here are some things to keep in mind when participating in Mass and when receiving the Eucharist:

On Dec. 3, Msgr. David Hoefler, vicar general of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, was one of the speakers at the 12th annual Nativity dedication ceremony at the Illinois State Capitol. Several dozen people from various Christian churches were on hand in the rotunda to pray and sing together and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

PEORIA — In the last edition of Catholic Times, there was an article announcing that Pope Francis had approved the Beatification Mass of Archbishop Fulton Sheen to take place Dec. 21 in Peoria. Hours after Catholic Times went to press, it was announced Dec. 3 the Beatification Mass would be postponed.

Sunday, 22 December 2019 10:13

The Magic of Christmas

What makes Christmas magical?

What makes Christmas magical? Is it the clever elf that flies around from shelf to shelf? Or is it the big jolly guy squeezing down the narrow chimney with a bag of all the greatest toys?

Sunday, 22 December 2019 10:02

Give the gift of education

How you can help our students, receive a tax credit, and provide Catholic education

Student demand for Illinois’ tax credit scholarship is at an all-time high. This school year, 377 students in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois received scholarships valued at $1,073,290.31 thanks to generous donations to Illinois’ tax credit scholarship program. When you learn, however, that 1,326 students in our diocese applied, it’s clear the demand is far exceeding the supply.

Sunday, 22 December 2019 09:36

Nine kids. One bus.

Central Illinois family to liveCentral Illinois family to liveout radical discipleship

By traditional measures, I was always a good Catholic. I went to Mass every Sunday and on all Holy Days. I observed the laws about fasting and abstinence. I regularly sought the sacrament of reconciliation. I paid my church support and observed the marriage laws of the church. But 25 years ago, on a quiet night, with tears of pain rolling down my face, I got down on my knees and asked God to come into my heart and to heal my brokenness. For the first time in my 35 years as a “good” Catholic, I asked God to truly become the Lord of my life.

Why Catholics need to believe in gift in front of them

After Mass on Aug. 15, 1996 at a parish in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a woman approached the priest saying that she found a consecrated Host in the church. The priest — following proper procedures in such a case — placed the Host into a glass of water so it would dissolve and put the Host into the tabernacle. Days later, to the priest’s amazement, the Host appeared bloody and had a flesh-like appearance.

Sunday, 08 December 2019 18:28

Diocesan Planning Study coming to close

Next steps to be determined soon

The process of gathering feedback from clergy, lay leaders and parishioners about a potential diocesan-wide capital campaign has been completed.

INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly 180 students, chaperones, and priests from all over the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois joined more than 20,000 people from across the country for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis Nov. 21-23.

“If there is ever one event a high schooler should attend, it’s NCYC,” said Tony Cerveny, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the diocese. “The work of the Holy Spirit was profound — from adoration to the speakers, to the music to the message, NCYC was an incredible experience and left a positive impact on our students.”

As Sabrina Carter works with students in the Ball-Chatham School District as a psychologist, a job that brings her joy and the satisfaction of personally helping the lives of young people, it’s not uncommon for her to think about her own life and the selfless gift given to her. What would her life be like today if it weren’t for this gift? How much pain would she be in? Would she even be alive?

It all started in 2015. After going to her doctor with stomach pains, tests determined she had Stage 3 kidney disease. Over the next year and several visits to doctors in places like Chicago and St. Louis, no one could determine why her kidneys were failing and getting worse by the day.

Sunday, 24 November 2019 08:38

Annual Nativity festival tells many stories

 The Chiara Center is hosting their 13th annual Franciscan Nativity Festival — a display of more than 100 Nativity sets, a majority of which are new to the annual event. The event is free and open to the public on Friday, Dec. 6 from 2-7 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 from noon-4 p.m., at Chiara Center, 4875 LaVerna Road, Springfield — on the grounds of St. Francis Convent.


The annual novena honoring the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary begins Dec. 1 this year, because the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is transferred this year to Dec. 9. The novena will be celebrated each evening from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., except on Dec. 9 when the novena will conclude with the 5:15 p.m. Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. All are welcome to attend the novena, which will be held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield.

Sunday, 24 November 2019 08:32

Diocesan native observing silver jubilee

TRAPPIST, Ky. — Brother Aaron Schulte, OCSO, celebrated his Silver jubilee with the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly called Trappist at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky in May of this year.TRAPPIST, Ky. — Brother Aaron Schulte, OCSO, celebrated his Silver jubilee with the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly called Trappist at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky in May of this year.

Sunday, 24 November 2019 08:31

Soup ministry celebrates decade of giving

GREENFIELD — With chilly weather already here and Thanksgiving just around the corner, our thoughts naturally turn to warm meals, good fellowship and counting our blessings. This year St. Michael parishioner Martha Rawe is giving thanks that in Greenfield, a soup ministry that she helped to start has been warming people’s stomachs — and hearts — for 10 years and counting.


Veterans are the backbone of our great nation. Their sacrifice, dedication to freedom, and helping the people of the world — we are forever indebted to their service.

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois is blessed to have several priests who also served our country. One of those is Father Stephen Thompson, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Mt. Sterling and St. Thomas Parish in Camp Point.

Father Thompson embodies honor, courage and commitment, values that have deep meaning to him as a Marine. He served our country for four years in the early 1990s as an E-4 corporal as a data communications operator. He served in the Persian Gulf War under Desert Shield and Desert Storm with the 1st Marine Division and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit under the United States Navy on the U.S.S. Okinawa.

ST. JOSEPH, MICH. — During 22-year-old Amber Robinson’s senior year at college at Northern Illinois University, she knew she wanted to do missionary work but didn’t know where. Today, the Glen Carbon native who attends Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Collinsville finds herself in St. Joseph, Mich., working directly with youth, challenging these vulnerable Catholics “to love Christ and embrace the life of the church.”

Sunday, 10 November 2019 10:21

Diocesan planning study under way

Parishioners encouraged to attend Focus Group meetings and/or participate in online survey

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has launched a planning study to determine the level of support for a diocesan-wide capital campaign.

Representatives from the Steier Group, a Catholic development and fundraising firm, will be conducting interviews in the diocese until mid-November. They are seeking feedback on support for seminarian education throughout the diocese.

In 1988, Springfield’s Christ the King’s (CTK) Over 50 and Dinner Club had 20 members. Today, they boast 200 with members coming not just from Christ the King Parish, but several other parishes in the area. While the club is a great place for those who passed the half-century mark to meet other Catholics, eat a delicious meal every month, and hear from interesting speakers, the club has put most of its resources and generosity toward one thing: the church’s future.

On Oct. 30, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was filled with enthusiastic students and faculty members who traveled from all over the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois for the annual Mission Mass. Since many of the students had never been to the Cathedral, some of the groups took tours of the church before Mass and waited patiently afterwards to have photos taken with Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, who was the main celebrant.

There is an interesting form of biblical scholarship that focuses on the meaning of numbers known as numerology. One that we might be most familiar with is the number 40, which is a number that signifies trial, testing and waiting. The great flood was 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before beginning his public ministry. And 40 days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven.


Sunday, 13 October 2019 09:22

Using his talent for the church

Springfield teen learning to play organ at Cathedral

Visitors from Ohio were at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield one afternoon this summer, admiring the stained-glass windows and striking beauty of the church. They were also given a rare treat: beautiful organ music, filling the church with rich sounds. Little did they know it was a 14-year-old playing, who had just picked up the organ in February.

EDWARDSVILLE — On April 20, 2019, 42-year-old Deegee Kienstra of Edwardsville officially became Catholic, receiving three sacraments at the Easter Vigil at St. Mary Parish in Edwardsville: baptism, confirmation and Communion. The road to that powerful day is filled with moments where the Holy Spirit planted seeds of inspiration.


Springfield Catholic schools are big winners

It became a spectacle in Springfield week after week this past summer as thousands of people packed the Knights of Columbus Hall on Springfield’s west side and other satellite locations, hoping to be the big winner in the Knights of Columbus Council 364’s Big Raffle, which grew to $625,000. This, after the fund had been growing for two years because week after week, the person selected never correctly picked the jackpot square. (The game originally started with 100 squares, and each week one would be eliminated until the jackpot square was correctly chosen.) Finally, last month, Cindi Fleischli’s ticket was drawn and she picked the jackpot square.

Sunday, 13 October 2019 08:59

Family Camp celebrates 30 years

CARLINVILLE — The 30th annual Family Camp for persons with special needs and their families and friends, was, as usual, a fun time for everyone involved, reports Elaine Vonderheide, who directs the weekend every year. This year’s camp took place Sept. 21-22, at Lake Williamson Christian Center.

Attendees and their guests participated in a variety of activities, including swimming, square dancing, playing mini golf, creating crafts and singing. The camp closed with Sunday Mass, celebrated this year by Father Chris House, rector of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Parish and vicar judicial in the Office of the Tribunal.

Page 10 of 77