Father David’s Letter
Dear Friends in Christ,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.”
When asked by the Pharisees whether it is lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not, Jesus responds with the above enigmatic statement. Interestingly he does not give a simple “Yes” or “No” answer to their direct question, which has to irritate them, but instead challenges them to consider the larger context of their question. Context is always crucial. Whose head is on the coin? Caesar’s. Therefore the coin was minted in honor of Caesar and not of God, and thus it belongs to Caesar and not to God. Certainly the coin can be and often is used to do God’s work, but that is not the point. Why does the coin exist? It exists as an economic currency, for the use of buying and selling goods. Of itself the coin has no inherent moral or religious value. It can be used for good or evil, but such is in the heart and intention of the user of the coin, not the coin itself. If the coin is used to pay a legitimate tax to Caesar (the government), then so be it. If it is dropped in the Temple Treasury to aid in the worship of the people, then so be it. Both are valid uses for the coin, though the latter would naturally seem more “noble” a use for the coin. Yet, the government of a nation does have the right to exact taxes, within reason of course, from its citizens. And if those taxes are used for the common good of the people – i.e. protecting and defending the people, maintaining basic order and harmony in the society, developing useful infrastructure for the citizens, and being solicitous for the poorest and most destitute – then using the coin in such a way could also be deemed as noble. In any case, Jesus does not speak directly to the ethics or morality of the census tax, but puts the onus back on his questioners to consider more thoughtfully what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God.
OF course, when it comes to taxation, the question naturally arises – especially in a hotly contested election season such as the one we are currently in – how much is moral or ethical. When does taxing reach the exorbitant level? When can we truly say we are “Taxed Enough Already?” If Jesus was asked those questions, I do not believe he would give a straight answer as to an amount or a percentage. I have a feeling that, just as above, Jesus would ask us a question, or a series of questions, in return. I think he would ask us questions such as “Are your current taxes an excessive burden for you?” and “Do you know to what uses your taxes are being put?” and “Can you accept that there are legitimate reasons for your taxes?” and “Is your government with the tax income truly being solicitous for the general welfare of all of its citizens, especially the most needy?” and “Do you sincerely believe there are elements of injustice and inequity involved with the collecting and distributing of these taxes?” However he would respond, I do not believe Jesus would give concrete black and white answers. He would rather ask us to ponder, think it through, and make our own best judgment based on our formation in the Commandments, our Love of God and Love of Neighbor, and our desire for all to live as free and responsible citizens. These are not easy questions. They never have been. But Wisdom from above is always available to help us discern what to give to “Caesar” and what to give to God.
Sincerely in Christ,
Hey! Did you order your copy of St. Mary’s 125th Anniversary Cookbook yet?? Better hurry and do it now while supplies last! Go to our About Us Menu then click on Special Events page to download an order form now!!
COVID-19 Mass Directives
As some parishioners do not feel comfortable attending Mass for at this time, you are encouraged to watch Mass on ETWN, local channels, and on St. Mary’s, St. Patrick’s and Holy Apostles’ websites. Bishop Malloy will also offer Masses on Sundays at 9am and reflections on Wednesdays at noon. These will be available on the diocesan website and their Facebook page. Here is the link to Spiritual Communion and Chaplet of the Blessed Sacrament: https://www.virgosacrata.com/spiritual-communion.html
Below is a video that shows how attending Mass in the next few weeks will look like. We are now able to accept 50 people per Mass on the weekends. Some of our parishioners have come back to Church during the week and on the weekends. Many – especially those who are 65 or older or who have compromised immune systems or other health issues – have decided not to attend. That being said, dispensation for non-attendance for Sunday Mass is granted until further notice.
Tutorial for Diocesan Directives: https://youtu.be/GgwAQ6j8Zck
To attend Mass, please remember to bring your face mask! This a requirement to wear a mask during the Mass. You can remove the mask when receiving Communion. Hand sanitizers are available in the church for your use as well. Our highest prioritiy is to keep our parishioners safe! We are following all the directives issued by the Diocese of Rockford and the Archdiocese of Chicago regarding social distancing, sanitizing, etc.
Here’s something to SMILE about! 🙂
St. Mary’s Church is now connected with AMAZON.SMILE! What is Amazon.Smile? Amazon is dedicated to giving back to charitable organizations like our parish. When you buy online at Amazon, you have the opportunity to have .05% of your purchases donated to St. Mary’s by Amazon. When you sign up for AmazonSmile, you’ll be asked to select from over a million of charities to support. But you can skip this step and click on our unique link. Then you’ll be taken to smile.amazon.com and then automatically asked if you want to support St Mary Church. Our unique charity link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/36-2182123
Don’t forget to sign up for St. Mary’s MyParish App today!
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enhance your spiritual life and get updates on what’s happening at St. Mary! Just text App to phone number 88202 or visit myparishapp.com to download. St. Mary’s will not automatically be one of your choices because we are a national parish which means we have no boundaries. Just type in St. Mary 1407 and the site will be available for you to click on and join. Keep yourself up to date on parish events, daily readings, messages, Pope Francis messages, and programs to enhance your faith journey.