Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What Are You Doing on New Year's Eve?

It's nice to know that Catholics who aren't into the whole "New Year's Eve scene" have some prayerful alternatives. At the Carmelite Monastery at 66th Ave. and Old York Road, there will be Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament at 10pm followed by Holy Mass at Midnight. I've always wanted to get to the Monastery on this evening and one of these days I will.

A little closer to home, St. Rita's at Broad and Ellsworth Street will also offer Midnight Mass in the lower shrine chapel preceded by Adoration at 10pm, Recitation of the Rosary at 11:15 followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet and then Mass. Father Bill Rechuitti, OSA is the celebrant. This beautiful tradition was formerly handled by Father Jim Galligan, OSA who is now retired and living at Villanova. It's such a blessing that Father Bill resumed this custom at St. Rita's.

For something a little different on New Year's Day, St Paul at 10th and Christian will offer Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass) at Noon followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

This is the kind of New Year's celebration I can look forward to. How about you?

Happy New Year, whatever your plans!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rest in Peace, Father Clement Kurowski, OFM

I was saddened to hear of the loss of Father Clem on Christmas Eve. Unbeknownst to me, Father had bone cancer, to which he finally succumbed. Whether it was saintliness or a stoic nature or both, Father Clem gave no indication that I could see that he was suffering in an extraordinary way. I am reminded of what happened when a novice came to St. Therese in tears to complain about a particular burden she was silently carrying. Our Saint gently admonished her. "It is because no one knows about your pain that you feel it so acutely." I never knew Father Clem personally but had him for Mass several mornings a week, up until recently. He also heard confessions on Wednesdays until a few years ago at St. John the Evangelist in Center City. When a friend lamented his passing to me today he said "They don't make them like Clem anymore." I'd like to think that if I faced similar suffering in life, that I could make the effort Father Clem did to carry out his duties. He was a diamond in the rough and will be missed. May he rest in peace.

The Ironies of Our God

A most memorable joke told to us by Father Benedict Groeschel a few years back concerned the reaction of a priest upon his arrival in Heaven. Recognizing the cast of characters whose confessions he had heard, he asked St. Peter: "How did THEY get in here?" Nodding his head toward Mary, St. Peter replied: "His mother." You just never know.

At Christmas, it seems people come out of the woodwork, or wherever they've been hiding, to return to the Church. This is a good thing. None of us knows what another person has been through or how it is that they have returned to the Lord. What we do know is the Lord often chooses the weak things of the world to carry out His will. And the person who is a seemingly annoying pest who cannot contain their exuberance at Mass may well have been sent to teach us more about ourselves than we realize. Do we see what Our Lord sees, or what we choose to see? For all we know, the Lord is estatic to see a fallen-away son or daughter return to Him and perhaps He does not care that the person makes it difficult for the rest of us to pray. At times like that, do I complain to myself, or do I offer the lack of quiet as a gift in thanksgiving for a lost soul coming back home?

At this time of year when external charity can come so easily, it seems a good time for me to do some soul-searching about my interior charity and remind myself once again that it's not about me, it's about Him.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Last year for Christmas, my husband took all of his late father's WWII films that he shot during the war and had them transferred to DVD's for his 5 siblings. This year, he took his father's films that he shot throughout numerous Christmastides and had them transferred to DVD. We previewed a little last night and it was like watching episodes of Lassie or Ozzie and Harriet. Little children in their PJ's kneeling by their beds while their older sister lead them in prayer before bedtime. Sleepy-eyed children making their way down the stairs to open packages containing dolls, cowboy hats, holsters and plastic rocket ships. The Nativity scene under the tree which each child acknowledged before moving on to the packages. A homemade Italian rum cake decorated with a single candle for the family to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. The footage from 1960 showed a monstrous snow storm and all 5 siblings joining in to shovel (number 6 had just arrived) amid the backdrop of their picket-fenced home adorned with big old fashioned Christmas bulbs, wreaths and two large candles that sat on either side of the entrance to the house.

It's part of human nature to become nostalgic at times for bygone eras where everything just seemed to be better. In our own household, we tried very hard to make the Holy Family the focus of Christmas, but it wasn't easy. It wasn't just that Santa was coming - it was that on Christmas Eve we'd get together with my 4 cousins, with whom I was practically raised, and enjoy a feast like no other. My grandmother's strufuli. The Seven fishes. The colored lights strewn across Wolf Street. And best of all, it seemed the adults were in the happiest mood ever on Christmas Eve. My uncle would simultaneously entertain us with stories about the time he encountered Old St. Nick on the lawn with warnings about how bad we'd been and should probably expect nothing more than coal in our stockings.

On Christmas Day, we attended Mass as a family and then in the afternoon, headed over to my uncle's diner, where the Banquet Room was transformed into a giant family dining room for about 30 people. His German-born baker would prepare tantalizing sweets ornately decorated for Christmas that were as delicious as they were beautiful. Everyone was dressed to the nines, and there was no shortage of playmates. I'm not sure how much the adults enjoyed it but we kids had a blast. We sang on the microphone, danced and relished one another's company. Believe it or not, for me, one of the most exciting parts of this day was seeing the statue of St. Rita all lit up outside the church named for her. I would think about the nuns in my school and how they probably spent Christmas. I pictured Rosalind Russell carrying a large lit candle into the chapel in the Trouble With Angels.

The best thing about my Christmases past was their simplicity and the joy in family. Sure, we were undeniably excited about our gifts, but there was none of the greed we have today. No fascination with electronic gadgets that have kids typing on keyboards rather than engaging their families and friends. No demands for high-priced items that rack up credit card debt and put families into near-bankruptcy.

Despite the greed that has come to mar the meaning of Christmas, there is no shortage of inspiring stories. My colleague at Pennsylvania Hospital, and her husband, who go out at 4 am on Christmas morning to deliver packages to homeless people living on the streets. Our Jewish friends who volunteer in hospital cafeterias so kitchen workers can spend Christmas at home with their families. The secret Santas that never make the news - cops, firemen and ordinary citizens who make sure children they've never met find something to smile about under the tree. And this infectious generosity is not something that happens just once a year for these folks - it's they way they live their lives every day of the year. Surely, they know the Reason for the Season and they carry Him with them everywhere they go, not just on Christmas Eve.

A Blessed Christmas to all and best wishes for a peaceful and healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waiting With Mary: Purity

Here's what's been on my mind the last few days.

As I have alluded to on this little blog a few times in the past week or so, I've been struggling with some issues in the workplace. I came to the resolution that I need to stop reacting and allow myself to carry out Christ's will by no longer imposing my own. Refusing to act in haste is somewhat easier than thinking about what I'd like to do.

There is no greater model of human purity of body, mind and soul than Mary, the Mother of God. When we refuse to respond to our detractors, we emulate her. When we refuse to dress provocatively, we emulate her. When we treat our bodies as temples of the Lord, we emulate her. When we read, view or say nothing that would stain our modesty and chastity, we emulate her. When we do nothing to lead another into sin, we emulate her. And when we put her Divine Son above all else in our lives, we emulate her.

Consider how many times a day Our Mother in Heaven is approached by creatures less than she is. She does not look upon us and see how inferior we are. She looks upon us with mercy and love and sees children in need of her help. So when the instigator at work tries to provoke me, rather than see someone I can look down on, I must now see a brother or sister in need of my help and lift them in prayer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Reason for the Season

This morning I went to see the youngest of my 3, Rebecca, in a Christmas Posada at Old St. Mary's Church in Olde City. Rebecca's name was drawn out of a hat to play the part of Mary and she was accompanied by Joseph and a well-dressed coterie of angels, shepherds and innkeepers. The children sang in Spanish and moved from inn to inn and finally to the altar, where the Nativity took place. Several readers from the lower school took turns reading the Christmas story while the rest of the school sang carols. It was a very moving little performance.

At some schools, such pageants are topped off by Santa making a grand entrance at the end. Thankfully, that did not happen here, but I've been told about a local church that has a special children's Vigil Mass at 4:30 on Christmas Eve. Shortly after Holy Communion, Santa sneaks in a side door. He says nothing to anyone but quietly tiptpoes to the creche, where he kneels in silent adoration of the Christ Child.

Our children are inundated with the secular meaning of Christmas and it's good to see Catholic schools emphasizing what's most important. As the little ones in kindergarten reminded us this morning as they sang Happy Birthday to the Baby Jesus, He is the Reason for the Season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Here is a little poem I wrote while in high school. It's nothing prolific or deep - just a cute little tribute to snow. English was my favorite subject (despite my poor grammar) and one of my classes required writing haiku and other forms of poetry. Here goes:

Winter is the time
when the angels sweep the clouds.
The dust falls in a bridal veil
and settles in sugar mounds.

It gathers on the window panes
and branches of the trees
And dances on the rooftops
Each time the angels sneeze.

Waiting With Our Lady: Humility

When I was a little girl, I was in love with the movie "Song of Bernadette". I remember being permitted to stay up a little later one Sunday night to watch it and crying myself to sleep because I wanted to see the Blessed Mother so badly. It's no accident that Marian visionaries are so often people like Bernadette Soubirous: simple, unassuming and humble in all things. Had I been privileged to view the face of the Mother of God, I probably would not have been able to get through a doorway for the size of my head.

The first thing Mary does after Gabriel's visit to her is to head for the hill country so she can wait on her cousin Elizabeth. She doesn't take a moment to rest on her laurels, so to speak. After proclaiming herself as the handmaid of the Lord, she goes out in service of another, despite the way she herself may have been feeling. Later, as she and Joseph head to Bethlehem for the census, she says nothing to the innkeepers who turn them away. She doesn't berate them for refusing lodging to the Mother of God, nor does she mention that she is carrying in her womb the Messiah. Rather, she goes quietly with Joseph to the stable where she will give birth.

Mary recognized that any greatness she had came not from within but from God. She did all things in His service. When we are so infatuated with ourselves that we are blinded by our own nothingness, we prevent God from working through us. Mary achieved perfect union with Him not only because she gave birth to Jesus but because she made herself less to make Him more. When we don't get recognized for something; when we are overlooked while others are exalted; when we get our feelings hurt because someone forgot to mention us - we should remember Mary. A most simple girl who was the most privileged woman in history and the least self-seeking.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pro-Life March in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 22nd

Once again, St. Rita's at Broad and Ellsworth Street is sponsoring a bus to the pro-life march and rally in Washington D.C. on Friday, Jan. 22nd. There are a limited number of seats available. The bus departs from St Rita's at 7 am promptly and the cost of a ticket is $41. The day includes Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Last year, to get to the rally after Mass, we took the Metro into downtown D.C. which was very easy to do. We met up back at the Basilica for departure home. If interested, contact Deborah at St. Rita's at 215-546-8333 . The money is not due until after the Christmas holidays.

Why This Blog?

I started this blog as a way to "evangelize" to some of my fallen away Catholic friends and family members. I often link my posts to my Facebook page in the hopes that I can plant a seed in a softening heart. It is so named because of my devotion to St. Therese and her Little Way of gaining souls for Jesus. It was St. Therese who brought me back to the one true faith and in gratitude to her, I try in every little way possible to help her fulfill her wish that her work be continued while she is in heaven. In the meantime, here is a prayer that St. Therese wrote for one of her brother priests and she beseeched him to continue to pray it for her even after her death.

Mericful Father, in the name of Thy Sweet Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, I beg Thee to consume my sister Therese with Thy Spirit of Love and to grant her the grace to make Thee greatly loved. Amen

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Waiting With Our Lady: Trust in God's Plan

It is rare to go to confession and not have the priest advise that I should look to Mary as an example of how to try to live my life. The first we know of Mary in the Bible is when she is greeted by the Angel Gabriel. What a beautiful Gospel passage it is, to think of God sending His angel to see a betrothed virgin of only about 15 years old. There is no shortage of exquisite artwork depicting the image of a terrified young girl in the presence of a heavenly being. It's difficult sometimes not to put ourselves in Mary's position and imagine how we might have reacted.

To me, the most amazing thing is that Mary had complete and total trust in God. Despite her virginal fear, she didn't ask Gabriel a million questions - no what ifs or yeah buts - just the simple yes that changed the world. No other singular consent has ever impacted the human race as her fiat has. Though Mary speaks few words in the Gospels, what is abundantly clear is that she never questioned God's will. She was the perfect instrument of His Divine Plan.

Later, when, the adult Jesus begins His public ministry, the inherent trust she had in God is evident at the Wedding Feast at Cana when she brings the embarrassment of the wedding hosts to her Son. When Jesus admonished her that His hour had not yet come, she didn't question Him and berate Him by asking "What in the world are you waiting for? Do something already". Her perfect trust in God assured her that Jesus would be of help. It was St. Therese who noted that "for those with faith the size of a mustard seed, He moves mountains. But for those with much faith, He makes them wait, like His mother at the Wedding Feast."

In my efforts to keep the Grand Silence in my own way, I look to Mary as a perfect example of one who questioned nothing and accepted all that she was privileged to receive from God. Every one of us can carry the Christ Child in our hearts and present Him to a broken world by imitating His mother in her total acceptance of and obedience to God's will.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Silence is Golden

I have wondered what the purpose of The Grand Silence is in monasteries aside from providing the kind of solitude conducive to the contemplative life. It occurred to me that at least part of the reason is because talk is such a dangerous thing for all of us, even those living the cloistered life. In the secular world, where so many of us feel the need to vent, myself included, I wish we, too had a Grand Silence. It's human to want to discuss our feelings and frustrations. What's harder is to offer those who present challenges to us in our daily lives in prayer and be thankful to the Lord for putting them in our paths. As Jesus said, what good is it if we love only those who love us? The more difficult someone is, the more of an opportunity they present for us to put matters in God's hands through prayer and the kind of self-control necessary to "keep things to ourselves."

It was the poet Emily Dickinson who wrote:

"We must be careful what we say; no bird resumes its egg."

And the less we say, somehow the better off we are, especially in difficult situations. I've made an Advent Resolution to myself today that the next time I feel the need to "vent", I will do so through prayer, and in particular for the person or persons who make life difficult.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just A Thought

I was walking to work this morning and was thinking of how Saint Faustina came to join the convent. She was at a dance when Our Lord appeared to her, bloody from the scourge, and He asked her: How long must I wait for you? She went immediately to seek out a convent and was not received enthusiastically. This lead me to think about how many times I've felt called to do something for Jesus, only to encounter opposition. Obstacles can lead one to believe they are headed down the wrong path and it's only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we are able let God accomplish His will in our lives. Just something to think about the next time you find yourself headed down a rocky path.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Getting Ready

There are two questions that cause me to recoil inside like garlic presented to a vampire: What are you doing this weekend, and, Are you ready for Christmas? Now the latter question has an entirely different meaning when it is posed to me by my friends in the Catholic circles in which I travel but it means something else altogether when put to me by those who scoff at any thing religious. And most of the time this question is presented to me, it's by the latter. Every year, I get a little lazier in putting up the decorations. The folks down the street have their decorations up by the end of the day on Thanksgiving. I manage to find the Nativity scene and place it in the front window, and then everything else just sort of happens.

What does it mean to be ready for Christmas? It means if the end of my life should suddenly come today, I'm as ready as I can be spiritually to make an accounting of my life. That begins with silent contemplation, frequent reception of the sacraments of confession and Holy Communion and a sincere desire for a change of heart. For the past few years, I've done my best to get to the Silent Retreat at the Carmelite Monastery. I go to confession the night before, and then I spend as much time as I possibly can before the Blessed Sacrament. I have never come away from that day without having some sort of Epiphany about myself. I leave feeling strengthened to take on the enemy, or at least be prepared for his attacks. And usually, a day or two later, I fall flat on my face.

The first time it happened, I was caught completely and totally off-guard. A person who could best be described as a pagan asked me what I had done the day before, and when I told her how I'd spent my day, she launched into a vitriolic attack on my religion. This is a person who is well-aware of where I stand on both her beliefs and mine and I'd made the conscious decision to tell her how spiritually-fulfilling the retreat was for me, out of a perhaps misguided desire to defend the faith. I simply wasn't prepared for what was spewed at me. I did the best I could to withstand the attack and then I avoided any conversation with this person for as long as I oould (hard to do when you work someone).

When I relayed what happened to the friend who had invited me to the retreat, she was incredulous that I didn't see it coming. My late grandmother had a saying: the devil sits on monastery walls. I didn't know how true that was, that those striving for holiness are prime targets, but my friend apparently did. She advised me that while it was too late to be on guard this year, next year I could try to do a better job. "You need to prepare to be attacked next time. What are you going to do next time? That's what you have to figure out". In subsequent years, I think I did a better job of withstanding the assaults. Then this year rolled around.

Saturday, a day of great personal progress in my spiritual life. Sunday, on guard. Provoked a bit here and there but nothing major. I'm safe I thought. Silly me. Walked into work on Monday morning and faced a constant barrage of attacks to the point that by 10 am, I had my head on my desk in tears. And the most shameful part of it all is tnat I never once asked for the Lord's help in fending off the attackers. I've had other Mondays where I knew it was going to be an ugly day, but I spent considerable time in prayer beforehand and told Jesus I needed to place everything in His hands because I was incapable of dealing with it. Did I do that this time? No, and worse, I stupidly thought that because I had survived the day after the retreat, that it would be clear sailing from then on.

At Christmas, we hear a lot about peace and joy. What does that mean? Is it sensible, or felt, joy? Not always. It's more of a contentment knowing that whatever happens in the world, there is a better one to come. And we have inner-peace because despite the insanity going on around us - outright greed amid a lack of attention to Jesus, we have Him and we always will. But don't forget, as I seemed to have, that even Our Lord was faced with temptation. Desire to achieve union with Him means undergoing trials. An endless number of silent retreats can't change that. But they can strengthen our resolve to be like Him and to always place our entire trust in Him.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

St. Therese on the Virgin Mary, Whose Feast Day We Celebrate Today Under Her Title Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

"We know very well that the Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen of Heaven and Earth, but she is more mother than queen; and we should not say, on account of her prerogatives, that she surpasses all saints in glory just as the sun at its rising makes the stars disappear from sight. My God! How strange that would be! A mother who makes her children's glory vanish! I myself think just the contrary. I believe she'll increase the splendor of the elect very much..."

Tonight, I was fortunate to be able to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. Paul's, and the celebrant recalled his dearly departed grandmother, who was often the recipient of fine gifts for her birthday or Christmas but who tucked them away in a drawer, thinking they were "too good" for her. How many of us think the Virgin Mary is too good for us? Because she has reached a level not accorded to any other human, we fear we will defile her by asking her help. Because she was free from every kind of sin, we, who commit every kind of sin, recoil at the notion of pleading for her protection. Our Lord, from His agony on the cross, gave His mother to us, as a protectress and an advocate. He didn't tell us to sit her on a pedestal that we dared not approach. The apostle whom Jesus loved took Mary into his home and we are called to take her into our hearts.

Mary is the greatest of the Saints. The Saints did not live to garner glory for themselves but to win souls for Jesus. How could we go wrong if we follow the disciple who was closest to Him, Mary?

Monday, December 7, 2009


Any time I make a retreat at the Monastery, I try, in the silence of the chapel, to converse with the Lord and ask what I can do to be more like Him. Unfortunately, I'm still working on the same issue: Pride. Pride in all its forms. The stealth kind, the overt kind, the insidious kind - pride is a major obstacle between me and the Lord which prevents me from being closer to Him. Actually, it is my stubborn refusal to give up my attachment to pride so I have only myself to blame. I had goosebumps when the retreat master mentioned the damage that pride does to our relationship with God. But it's also reassuring to know it's something so many other struggle with.

It is pride that causes me to become distracted at Mass. It is pride that compels me to mention things about myself in a way that is not obvious; nonetheless, I still manage to pat myself on the back in some way. It is pride that causes me to lose my temper when someone insinuates that I've done something wrong. It's pride that causes me to try and think of something clever to say to the priest after Mass. It's pride that causes me to be unable to say I'm wrong after an argument. It's pride that prevents me from covering my head at Mass. It's pride that lures me into mentioning some devotion I've acquired. The list goes on. What to do?

It's difficult to get in trouble when you keep silence. St. Therese was especially noted for her ability to stand accused of something without jumping to defend herself. More than once she had to run away to keep from defending herself and voicing her innocence, which is one of the many reasons why she is a Saint with a capital S.

It's also a work in progress to catch myself in the act of pride, whether it be in thought, word or deed. It is difficult not to relate a situation to myself and how I would handle it or like things to go. A person who is unattached to themselves would not think of him or her self in this way. Now that I know what my problem is, what am I going to do about it?

Frequent conversation with the Lord, for one thing. How many times do I become lost in my own thoughts, usually concerning some problem or another at work. Rather than dwell on things, why not spend that time talking to Jesus, whether through rote prayer or simple conversation? How many times have I relied on myself to fix one of these problems when His help is just there for the asking?

Fasting is another opportunity I so rarely take advantage of anymore. Some years ago, a priest detected that my confession was a bit too glib and he said "you need prayer AND fasting." He was right. I've gotten away from it and I need to give it another try. That priest and I are good friends to this day.

The last thing I can do, at least for right now, is think of others first. When the Virgin Mary learned she would carry the Son of God in her womb, what was the first thing she did? She didn't send out announcements or gossip to everyone she knew. She immediately departed for Elizabeth's house, where she waited upon her for the next three months. There is nothing to help you forget yourself like immersing yourself in someone else's needs.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Advent: Think Everyday of Jesus*

*Composed by St. Teresa of the Andes, Carmelite Nun

Prepare Yourself for the Birth of Jesus

Think everyday of Jesus, who, though the eternal God, was born as a fragile Child. Though all-powerful, He was born poor with nowhere to go from the cold. He needed His mother to live, though He was life itself. Here is a list of things you can do to prepare a crib for Jesus:

Little Shirts to Keep Him Warm:
Five acts of love a day and longings to receive Him in Communion. "My Jesus, come to my poor heart which wants to beat only for You."

Little Blankets to Cover His Tiny Feet
Since He cannot walk, you will go and do acts of charity to all, sacrificing yourself and setting aside your own comfort.

Swaddling bands to wrap around Him:
Never grumble when you are told to do something you do not like. Just do as you are told.

Little Cap:
Study and do everything for Jesus, thinking of His love.

Do not sleep late in bed. Go to Mass and Communion

Pieces of Straw:
Do some little act. Like giving up candy or eating something you don't like. Do it all for the love of Jesus

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rest in Peace, Mr. Tabasco

Today I was privileged to behold a beautiful sight - a church packed with Catholic schoolchildren, and their parents, to bid farewell to a man who made everyone's life a little easier. Mr. Virgil Tabasco, one of the custodians at St. Mary's Interparochial School, died suddenly on Sunday and today the school was closed, in his honor, so that teachers and students alike could pay their final respects.

When my son had to leave St. Mary's so he could benefit from a special education program for autistic children, Mr. Tobasco continued to ask for him. One day he said, with obvious sadness, " I really miss having Matthew around. He was always a good boy and I miss seeing him everyday. I wish he was still here." It meant the world to my son to hear this. Mr. Tobasco was a constant figure at St. Paul's at Mass and during the weekly Novena. He loved to see my daughter Rebecca, an altar server, at Mass and would always comment to my husband and I that "she serves a beautiful Mass." He was genuinely touched by how attentive she was, especially knowing the physical problems she's had.

One day, I was frantic to discover that Rebecca had left her lunch at home, and I had no way of getting it to her before Noon. I called St. Mary's and the grandfatherly Mr. Tobasco answered the phone. After listening to me carry on about how stupid I was to let her forget it, he reassured me. "It's no big deal. It happens all the time. Is it ok with you if I make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and give her some chocolate milk with it?" I could have hugged him through the phone. Once before when she forgot her lunch, Rebecca was too afraid to speak up, and she went the whole day without eating. That's what made my carelessness all the more painful but the guardian angel who worked at St. Mary's took care of her, and me, with out fanfare.

Mr. Tabasco had no biological children of his own, but every one of those children who came to that church today, many of them in tears, were his. He was the first person they saw when they got dropped off each day and he made sure he gave each one the kind of greeting that would start them off on the right foot. He had some serious health problems throughout the years but you would never know it. Mr. Tabasco had nieces and nephews who loved him dearly, and the last thing I remember about today was the sheer gratitude on his niece Helen's face as she walked behind his casket and saw for the first time how many grieving children filled the church. It was a beautiful testament to a man who exemplified a humble servant of God.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Striving Daily to Be Holy

Today did not exactly go like it should have for a person who is fortunate to assist at Daily Mass. First, Tuesdays and Thursdays are often chaotic and stressful, particularly when just one of our surgeons had a total of 17 cases today. Then, there are the folks who like to make life unpleasant for others for whatever reason. Interestingly, a colleague and I took a minute to reflect together on how challenging it sometimes is to retain our faith in the workplace, and we both agreed that we didn't do a very good job today of walking the path.

What my friend shared with me is something that has been tugging at me for awhile, and that is the tendency to react to things that happen, rather than just accept them and trust God to handle the problems. The workplace can be a microcosm of the world at large, where despite our best efforts, things happen that can really test a person, no matter how religious we think we are. A favorite confessor at St. John's will always ask me this question: Did you lift the person up in prayer? Sadly, there are too many times when I've had to say no. This is another indication of an attachment to myself and my own will. It's my duty to pray for everyone, especially those perceived to be "enemies", and how quickly I can forget this when under attack.

So, in addition to working on impatience this season of Advent, I'm going to do my best to let things roll off my back, so to speak, and ask God for the patience to endure and the wisdom to handle these challenges that often appear in my path. And I'm going to try my best to pray for the person or persons in question. As Our Lord said, of what merit is it to love only those who love us back? That's why at every Novus Ordo Mass we ask Blessed Mary Ever Virgin, all the angels and saints, and our brothers and sisters to pray for us that we may avoid sin and be favored with the mercy of God. It's time for me to make more of an effort to benefit from the grace that is available for the asking.