Archbishop calls for ‘words that heal’ during Infant Jesus of Prague service

Archbishop Blase Cupich meets with the altar servers
before the service Sunday at Infant Jesus of Prague 
Catholic Church in Flossmoor.
(Photo by Tom 
Houlihan/HF Chronicle)

Before the start of Sunday’s service at Infant Jesus of Prague Church in Flossmoor, Archbishop Blase Cupich met with the young altar servers assisting him during the Mass.

He thanked them for their help and asked who would be performing specific jobs during the service – holding the bishop’s staff and hat, carrying candles and books of prayers. Then he gave the junior-high aged helpers presents, pendant-sized crucifixes.

It was an example of Cupich’s hands-on approach to his job as head of the sprawling Chicago Archdiocese. Throughout the 90-minute service he led prayers, gave communion to hundreds of parishioners, sprinkling the overflow crowd with holy water and, in his homily, encouraging the IJP community to become more involved in the lives of others.

Cupich visited IJP on Pentecost Sunday, which according to the New Testament, marks the day that the Holy Spirit first appeared to Christ’s apostles and followers. It is a day on the church calendar, Cupich said, that reminds us of the importance of “words that heal.”

All too often, he said, we hear language that is harsh and divisive: “Every problem is a nail and the only solution is a hammer.”

Instead, Cupich said, we should use language that brings us together. He told a story about a father whose 16-year-old daughter said she was no longer getting anything from going to church. Rather than reacting angrily, the father said, “I see your point,” and then told her that he routinely got up at 4:30 a.m. to drive her to swim practice.

The archbishop quoted the father as saying, “I don’t get anything out of getting up that early. But when I see what you accomplish in swim meets, I know that it is all worthwhile, and important.”

“That’s the kind of language that heals,” Cupich told the parishioners.

God’s spirit is reflected in “an impulse to unify with one another,” Cupich said, adding that we need to fight the temptation to live alone and to isolate ourselves from our fellow human beings.

“I know there is a narrative out there that says freedom means being unencumbered by others,” Cupich noted. “But life is better when we have bonds with others.”

The archbishop said we need to look for opportunities to help others through public service, through the church and even in the workplace. And we need to avoid retreating into ethnic identities so that we do not have to deal with people who are different.

“We cannot talk about ‘us’ and ‘them,’’’ he said. “That is when evil can enter our lives.”

The Rev. Michael Nacius, IJP’s pastor, invited Cupich to the parish. At the end of the service, parishioners gave Cupich a loud round of applause when Nacius thanked the archbishop for coming and presented him with a photo of scores of parish members, some of whom held a sign congratulating Cupich on his 40th year as a priest.

Following the service, Cupich met with parishioners at the church door. A reception followed the service and Cupich promised to attend and meet with community members “as long as you will have me.”

Christian Castagna, an 11-year IJP member, said Cupich’s appearance is an exciting event for the church. Castagna, a former chairman of the IJP Pastoral Committee, attended the service with his family.

“It’s historic for an archbishop to attend a parish the size of IJP,” Castagna said. “You can see that he is bringing a youthful energy to the archdiocese. He shared a positive message with us today, and it is certainly a powerful message with a lot of meaning in our world.”

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