San Rocco Oratory

of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Sign outside San Rocco church
This sign is posted in front of the church building.

Sunday assembly at San Rocco Oratory
Sunday Assembly at San Rocco Oratory. Above, first row, from the left, Jean, Rosanne, & Greg Ciambrone, Maria & Ray Planera. Second row, from the left, Nick Markionni, Donna & Rick Thiernau, Pat & Bob Barker, Gene LaBelle, & Annette Nordstrom (obscured).

Cardinal George
Here is Cardinal George, processing through the congregation, on August 26, 2001. It is the beginning of the liturgy.

St Francis of Assisi Church in Orland Hills
A parish of 2400 families, with five Sunday Masses: St. Francis of Assisi, Orland Hills, Illinois.

The Leader family et al.

Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Iesum Christum, Filium tuum, Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus ac petimus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas + haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata,

in primis, quae tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta catholica quam pacificare, custodire, adunare et regere digneris  toto orbe terrarum:

una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro [Benedicto] et Antistite nostro [Francesco] et omnibus orthodoxis atque catholicae et apostolicae fidei cultoribus.

For detailed study of this phrase, orthodoxis cultoribus, see the historical work of  Father Joseph Jungmann.

Sunday Mass: 10 a.m.

What is the Church?

Each Sunday, there is only one "assembly," one gathering of the people of the San Rocco community.  That is the ideal of the Sunday Eucharist, the Mass, especially inasmuch as it gave rise to the word "ecclesia" in both Greek and Latin, as well as "chiesa" in Italian.  The word means much the same thing as "assembly" in a grade school, namely, a gathering of all the students.  In this case, the Sunday gathering, also called a congregation, is the very name of the people, that is, the "ecclesia," the "Church."  In this sense, then, the Church is primarily the Sunday gathering, in communion with the bishop of the diocese, Cardinal George, who is in communion with all the bishops of the Catholic Church and especially the bishop of Rome, Pope John Paul.

Many Roman Catholic parishes in the U.S. are too large to accommodate all the people in one gathering; so, they have to schedule two or more Masses on Sunday.  To the disadvantage of the community, the people therefore become separated and do not know each other.  While often necessary, this situation is less than ideal.  When there is more than one Sunday Mass in a parish, it is impossible to compensate for that, for example, by having coffee and donuts after a celebration.  There is no substitute for the Church itself, the normal Sunday gathering of all the people in a given community.

In contrast to general practice in the U.S., Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches still maintain the norm of only one Eucharist per day, on one altar.  In the West, since ancient times, we compromised this norm by having more than one Mass on such feastdays as Christmas and Easter, when there were more people present.  In time, we came to expand the number of Masses on more and more Sundays.  As time went on, we in the West came to forget our own tradition, which is still in force in the Eastern Churches.  So, we came to go to Mass as individuals rather than as members of a family.  Sadly, in many Western churches, there is no Sunday assembly, no single celebration of the Eucharist, and hence no community in the traditional sense.

Sunday Mass at San Rocco

The Archdiocese of Chicago has its own set of policies for Sunday Mass.  In general, these policies reflect the general law and customs of the Roman Rite; these policies all apply to the Eucharist celebrated at the oratory.

At San Rocco, as in many small parishes, people do know one another.  When someone is sick, all the members pray for that person together.  When someone recovers, all the members rejoice together.  When someone is away, that person is missed.  In his epistles, St. Paul spoke of this kind of unity, as that of the Body of Christ, member for member.  It can be expressed sacramentally, in a single Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, often called the Mass.  Through that sacramental expression, the Church, the ecclesia, is built up and made strong.

If you are a visitor to San Rocco, you will notice that people sing much of the liturgy by heart.  They know the songs from memory.  That's because most of the Mass is familiar to the people, especially the normal acclamations and responses:

  •  Kyrie, eleison.
  •  Thanks be to God.
  •  Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
  •  Praise and Honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
  •  Glory to you, Lord.
  •  Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
  •  Lord, we beg you, hear our prayer.
  •  To you, O Lord our God.
  •  Blest be God. Blest be God.
  •  Blest be God forever.
  •  And also with you.
  •  We lift them up to the Lord.
  •  It is right to give him thanks and praise.
  •  Sanctus.
  •  Christ Has Died.
  •  Great Amen.
  •  Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.
  •  For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are  yours.
  •  Agnus Dei.
  • Thanks be to God.
  • Thanks be to God.  Alleluia, Alleluia

 From Sunday to Sunday, these songs are much the same, so that everyone can join in, easily and freely. Since these songs are acclamations, they are never recited; they are always sung.

Fully Catholic

As Catholic, the San Rocco community is in communion with its bishop, Cardinal George; in this way, the Oratory is part of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the local Church, and therefore of the universal Church.  This communion means that we do our best to understand the teaching and the leadership of our bishop and to implement his intentions for our benefit.  He is the one who sends a priest in his stead, whether that priest is Most Rev. Joseph Perry or Father Gilligan or someone else.

He is the one who locally fully takes the place of the apostles and sustains for us the tradition of the apostolic faith.  He is the one who maintains our communion with the wider Church, including the Pope of Rome.  The bishop is the first minister of the three sacraments of initiation, baptism, confirmation, and first holy Communion; either he or someone he sends is to preside at these sacraments.  An auxiliary bishop or priest, then, cannot act except in communion with his bishop, who is the chief shepherd of the flock.  Whenever the sacraments are celebrated, they are always carried out in communion with our bishop.

We are called Roman Catholic for two reasons.  First, our bishop, Cardinal George, is in communion with the Bishop of Rome.  Second, we use the Roman Rite, the liturgy of most of the Western Church.  Episcopalians and Lutherans, for the most part, use the same rite; but they are not Roman Catholic and do not so identify themselves.  Although their liturgy is much the same as ours, they are not in communion with us or with Rome; there are still doctrinal differences that need to be resolved. 

Fully Orthodox 

As Orthodox, the San Rocco community treasures its tradition of the faith given to us by the apostles, preached and recorded in the New Testament, expounded by the Fathers of the Church, and proclaimed in the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils.  Especially in the first seven councils, the bishops of the whole world gathered and, in response to challenges, clarified the Orthodox faith.  It is this common inheritance, guided by the Holy Spirit, that today unifies the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches and helps bring them to a deeper communion as time goes on.

For example, Catholic and Orthodox Churches share the same texts of the Bible, the same teaching of the Fathers of the Church, the same sacraments, traditionally counted as seven, and the same articles of faith, expressed in creeds and in doctrinal statements of the Ecumenical Councils.  These Churches, together, share similar veneration for the Virgin Mary, pray for the dead, and esteem the intercession of the saints.  They hold in reverence icons, statues, and other objects of devotion.  As a matter of custom, varying from place to place, they make the sign of the cross, professing belief in the Trinity; they use incense, holy water, candles, blest palms, and other sacramentals.  They respect monastic life, for both men and women, people who live in community and dedicate their days to prayer and work.  They do penance, fast, and promote justice for all. They consecrate the world by dedicating their daily work to Christ, living in accord with his Gospel. They support the pro-life cause, defending unborn children, elderly people, and those who are disabled in any way. Most important of all, from the rising of the sun to its setting, they celebrate the Eucharist, Sunday after Sunday, so that a perfect offering may be made to the glory of God's Name.

In the ancient Roman Canon, which dates in large part from the fourth century, we pray explicitly for the Orthodox bishops who "cultivate" the Catholic and Apostolic faith, who preserve it, preach it, and pass it on.  We know this prayer today as the first Eucharistic Prayer; it bears witness to what we believe and what we celebrate, down to the present day.


San Rocco Oratory

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