Assumption Catholic Church
323 West Illinois Street - Chicago IL 60654
(ph) 312-644-0036  (fax) 312-644-1838    Map & Directions


Fr. Joseph Chamblain, O.S.M. Pastor




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4/14/2019 Fr. Joseph Chamblain, OSM



Have you ever been to the Divine Office? No?  Neither have I. The Divine Office is not a back room in the Vatican. The word “office” comes from a Latin word meaning “service”. The Divine Office (or Liturgy of the Hours) is one of the two official public prayers of the Church. The other official public prayer is the Mass. Services like Novenas and Stations of the Cross may be prayed communally, but they are still considered private devotions. The Divine Office is a service of psalms, prayers, hymns, readings, and intercessions designed to sanctify the hours of the day. There are seven distinct “hours” for which psalms and prayers are assigned. The Office follows a four week cycle, except when interrupted by church feasts and seasons, just like at Mass. Early Christians adopted this prayer form from their Jewish ancestors. Why have many Catholics never heard of it? Because for many centuries the Divine Office was prayed primarily in monasteries and convents and read privately by priests and deacons. In recent decades it has become more common to invite the parish community as a whole to participate. While we do not do that very often at Assumption, we do celebrate Morning Prayer in Church on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday when Mass is not celebrated. This year Deacon Zajdel and his Catechism 101 group will be praying the Office of Readings (with Benediction) on Tuesday of Holy Week at 6:00pm. You are most welcome to check out The Divine Office.

What is the Holy Week Question That Won’t Die? Does the Easter Vigil count for Easter Mass? This question harkens back more than sixty years when the Easter Vigil (the blessing of fire and water and an extended Liturgy of the Word) took place on Holy Saturday morning without Mass. Pope Pius XII moved this service to Holy Saturday evening, and it came to be attached and eventually integrated into the first Mass of Easter. So, not only does it “count” but it actually ranks as the most significant Mass of the year. It is at the Easter Vigil Mass that we retell the history of salvation, celebrate our own rebirth in water and the Holy Spirit, and listen to an ancient chant, while the light of our newly blessed Easter candle gradually overwhelms the darkness of sin and death. It is at this Service that we receive new member into the Catholic faith. If all the optional Readings are included and a large number of adults are baptized, this service could easily take more than three hours. However, at Assumption we have kept this Mass to two hours. This year the Easter Vigil Mass should be even shorter because all of the adults in our RCIA are already baptized. They will make their confirmation and first communion at this Mass. If you have been avoiding the Easter Vigil because you were afraid it would be too long, this would be a good year to come!

What is better than nothing? Something, that’s what! It has often been said, “Don’t build your church for the crowd that comes at Easter.” Churches designed to handily accommodate the number of people who come for Easter will be seriously underpopulated the rest of the year. Whereas at Christmas, many of our members head to the suburbs or to extended family gatherings out of town, at Easter families often head downtown. On Easter morning St. Patrick and Holy Name can direct overflow crowds to an adjacent building where an additional Mass can be celebrated. At Assumption we have no such place. It is not possible to have a second Mass in our Parish Hall because the sound carries upstairs. At the 10:30 Mass in recent years, all the pews would be filled, all the loft space filled, all the standing room filled, and there would still be people standing on the steps or sidewalk out front, who could neither see nor hear what was going on in church. Many latecomers simply left when they saw they could not get into the church. So, we have done the best we could with our nineteenth century church. When we upgraded the sound system a year and a half ago, we installed a video feed into the Hall. Mass in church can be viewed on a projection screen in the Hall. Last Easter we were able to direct those who arrived after the Church was filled at 9:00 and 10:30 Mass to the Hall. Special Ministers brought communion to the Hall. It’s not the best possible solution, but it gives everyone the opportunity to see and hear Mass on Easter.     

Have a blessed Holy Week and a wonderful Easter!


                                                                                    Fr. Joe