Saturday, January 30, 2010

Events Around the Archdiocese

Next Sunday evening February 7th, there will be a Family Holy Hour at St. Monica's Church, 17th and Ritner Streets in Philadelphia at 7pm in the upper church. There will be Exposition and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament with readings from Scripture, hymns, mediation, Recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction. All are welcome.

As mentioned previously, the Lenten Silent Retreat at the Carmelite Monastery was cancelled. However, here is another option that I was alerted to by one of my readers.

Day of Recollection

Philadelphia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association
Sat., Feb. 20 2010
St. Francis Xavier Church, The Oratory
2321 Green Street, Philadelphia , PA
donations will be accepted

Rev. Joseph Fessio, S.J.
9AM Gathering, coffee & donuts
9:30AM Morning prayer
9:45 - 10:30 First talk
10:30-11:30 Confession
11:30-12:30 Mass
12:30-RSVP by Feb. 12th. Phone or fax 610-352-7672
or mail to Philadelphia CMA, P.O. Box 186, Lansdowne, PA 19050

For directions call 215-765-4568 or go to

On another note, if anyone has any information about the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at Stella Maris parish, can you please post it here or email me the information?

Thank you and God Bless you!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Offer It Up!

This hasn't been the best week for me. I reinjured my back on Monday doing something as stupid as picking a dish-towel up from the floor. My sciatic nerve is on fire and screams every time I sit, stand or lie down. In short, there is almost no comfortable position. I was tempted not to go Daily Mass because sitting in a pew is particularly excrutiating but I recalled the words of St. Therese in the early throes of her illness, before she was forced to take permanently to her bed. "I do not consider it too much to win one Holy Communion" she said, in reference to the gargantuan effort it took her simply to get to the chapel. It was those words that inspired me to get to Mass and spend some time before-hand in Adoration. My concern is in not making a spectacle of myself because despite my best efforts, this simply isn't the kind of pain that is easily masked with a smile, as our great Saint might have managed. So, I have tried to make the most of it, as Therese did, by offering it and the self-consciouness that goes with it for the intention of a priest who is finding it difficult to carry his cross, for those in Haiti still reeling in pain with no respite in sight, and for anyone whose burden can be eased by the anonymous minute sacrifice of another.

Why did I share this? To call attention to myself and garner sympathy? My reasoning was to observe how not too many years ago, I would have thought nothing of skipping out on Sunday Mass. Now I can't stand the thought of a single day without the Eucharist. This is just one of the many "little ways" in which St. Therese has helped pull me along the path of holiness. "I can still stand on my feet",she said, "and so I must be about my duty."

One day, as a novice was dawdling on her way to one of the community's spiritual exercises, Therese chastised her: "Is this how a mother with children to feed conducts herself?" OK, so we're not all Carmelites. Nonetheless, there is nothing to stop us from making every small act an act of love to win souls for God. It's the best way to honor the little Saint who refused Him nothing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lenten Day of Recollection at St. Charles Seminary

Sadly, the Lenten Retreat at the Carmelite Monastery was cancelled due to circumstances that have not been specified. However, there is still a very good retreat open to all that will be held on Saturday, March 6th at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. This yearly Day of Recollection is sponsored annually by Catholics United for the Faith (not to be confused with Catholics United) and the retreat master will be Father Augustine Esposito, OSA, Ph.D. The cost is $35 per person and lunch is included. The day begins with Mass at 9am in the Immaculate Conception Chapel, followed by a morning conference with Father Esposito, Eucharistic Adoration, opportunity for Confession, an afternoon conference and concludes around 4pm with Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

If interested, call 215-247-2585. There is no charge for sisters, priests and seminarians and you may sponsor a priest or religious with a $35 donation if desired.

Unlike the retreat at the Carmelite Monastery, this is not billed as a silent retreat, but there is plenty of time for silent prayer and reflection in the chapel. It is also not as physically challenging as a day at the monastery can be for those who are elderly or infirmed.

Reseravations are required so if interested, call the number above, or you can send your check and reservation directly to CUF at: St. John Neumann Chapter, CUF
183 Hillcrest Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19118-2621

Make checks payable to St. John Neumann Chapter, CUF

Don't miss out!

The Fifteen Promises of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Those Who Faithfully Recite Her Rosary

I am never ceased to be amazed by faithful Catholics who do not pray the Rosary daily. Do you know that I started to pray the Rosary BEFORE I returned to the Church? I can't even remember what the event was that moved me to do so, but I was impacted enough that I prayed it everyday for months before I came back. I'm sure those prayers are what helped propel me in the right direction.

For those who struggle to make the Rosary part of their daily devotions, here are the 15 promises made by Mary that will perhaps give you some of the incentive you need:

1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by recitation of the Rosary will receive signal graces.

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresy.

4. It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from things of this world and lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!

5. The soul that recommends itself to me by recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary faithfully and devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of the sacred mysteries shall never be overcome by misfortune. If he be a sinner, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just, he shall remain in the grace of God. He shall remain worthy of eternal life.

7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

8. Those who are faithful to the recitation of the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces. At the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.

9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of honor in Heaven.

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.

12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall receive be aided by me in their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall for intercessors the entire Celestial Court during their life and at the hour of their death.

14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons, and brother of my son, Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day of Reparation and Penance

I wasn't able to go to the Pro-Life Rally in Washington, DC today but I did my best to observe the day prayerfully and penitently. I have never made an effort to hide the fact that there was a time in my life when I stood on the wrong side of this issue. I tell people this not only as part of the reparation I make to the Lord, but also as an encouragement to those who pray for a conversion of our country to a culture of life that a change of heart is always possible. We should never forget that prayer is our single most powerful spiritual weapon in the battle between good and evil, especially evil that is disguised as something safe and legal. The law may permit this atrocity to take place, but when it leaves an unborn baby dead, rest assured there is nothing "safe" about it.

Sometimes, I like to sit before the large crucifix in St. Rita's lower shrine to contemplate the supreme sacrifice that was made on my behalf. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta once urged that we view Our Lord with His arms extended as an indication of how much He loves us. When my oldest was a baby, I used to play "So Big" with her. She would spread her little arms apart when I'd say "so big" and then she'd wrap them around me in a precious hug. I'd ask her how much she loved me and she'd do the same thing. When she got a little older and could talk she'd say "I love you this much, Mom". And she'd spread her chubby little arms and use them to hug me again. I was thinking about that today in front of that graphic crucifix. No matter how badly I screwed up, and continue to be imperfect, He still loves me, and you, and all of us, that much. And because He promised to be with us til the end of time, He remains with us through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What a consolation it is to know that, especially on a day like today.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Making The Most of Prayer

Has this ever happened to you? You're midway through praying the Rosary when you realize that you've barely given a thought to the Gospel mysteries. It is reasuring to know that it happened to some of the greatest saints, among them St. Therese. Is that an excuse not to make an effort to do better? Of course not! But if prayer is a work-out for our souls, it's not impossible to think that sometimes, we have to shake things up a bit to gain some benefit. Listen to what St. Therese has to say about difficulty praying:

"Sometimes, when my mind is in such aridity that it is impossible for me to draw forth one single thought to unite me with God, I very slowly recite an "Our Father" and then the angelic salutation; then these prayers give me great delight; they nourish my soul much more than if I had recited them precipitately a hundred times."

-from a "Story of a Soul" p. 242

Recently, I a priest I know in passing said to me "Do you mind if I ask you a question? Do you and your famliy pray together." It just so happened that the previous night I had asked my husband, in vain, to pray part of a chaplet with me. Father paused for a moment and smiled and said "Has it occurred to you to start with something smaller, like the "Hail Mary" each night and see where it goes?" It was one of those "duh" moments of "now why didn't I think of that?" We're going to try to say one decade of the Rosary together each night after dinner. No one runs a marathon before they can run a mile, and the same is true for prayer. It's not how long we pray, but the effort we put into what we do pray that matters.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And Oh, By The Way....

Yes, my creche is still up and gracing the front window to our house, along with the candles and small green foil Christmas trees. And there they shall remain until the Feast of the Presentation on Feb. 2nd.

The History of the Chaplet of St. Michael

A few days ago, I promised to provide the history of this powerful chaplet, so here it is, courtesy of "The Prayerbook, Prayers for all Occasions". While I have seen varying versions of this chaplet (some require the Act of Contrition and/or Apostles Crred, others do not) the prayers making up the body of the chaplet are essentially the same.

"This chaplet was given to a devout servant of God, Antonia D'Astonac, in the apparition by St. Michael. To all who, should recite the nine salutations every day, before receiving Holy communion, he promised that an angel of each of the nine choirs would be assigned to accompany them to the altar. He also promised continual assistance during life, and after death, and the deliverance of their souls and their relatives' souls from the pains of Purgatory."

Turing to Prayer In Difficult Times

It seems especially foolish now, but the other evening, I had a stupid argument with my husband that grew rather heated. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I cannot wait to go to confession as even a heartfelt and sincere Act of Contrition will not suffice. When I view the catastrophe in Haiti and try to imagine the suffering of the Haitian people, I know that "sweating the small stuff", as they say, is particularly small-minded and petty. I am so fortunate to live within walking distance of at least two churches that offer confessions every day except Sunday. After going to confession, I went to evening Mass ( I had to be at work exceptionally early that day and could not make my usual 6:30 am Mass at St. Monica's) and as I was paging through my Magnificat, I came to the Meditation of the Day, which was written by St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila). It was poignant because after the silly row I had with Jim, I was almost too embarassed to pray. I had to swallow a bit of pride and anger before I could place myself in the presence of the Lord. The following is an excerpt from the Magnificat which proved the folly of my concerns:

"Now I make the sign of the Cross with amazement, and it doesn't seem to me that I underwent any danger as bad as with this invention the devil taught me under the pretext of humility. He put the thought into my head to question how, since I was so wretched and had received so many favors, I could engage in prayer; and the thought that it was enough for me to recite, like everyone else, my obligatory vocal prayers; and the question about how I could pretend to do more since I didn't even say my vocal prayers well; he suggesting that engaging in prayer showed a lack of reverence and little esteem for the favors of God.
"It was right to think about and understand these things; but to give up the practice of prayer was the greatest evil. May you be blessed Lord, Who came to my rescue."

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Do You Do When Man's Best Friend Has the Blues?

This is a silly gratuitous post about my dogs. A few years ago, my daughter brought home a little chihuahua-daschund mix puppy to join our then 5-yr-old Bichon Frise. This past May, the Bichon developed cancer of the spleen and after a brave effort, passed away in September. The little mutt is still in mourning and we didn't know what to do to help him, so we adopted a little chihuahua-pug female who was found as a stray in Kentucky and shipped to Philadelphia from a high-kill shelter. We thought she would be the salve his little heart needed to heal, but he's still missing his buddy. Yesterday, something remarkable happened. He saw the deceased dog's photo on my screensaver and leaped off my lap onto the keyboard to check it out. His little heart was beating a mile a minute and his tail wagged and I just watched in amazement. Eventually, he realized it was just a photo and sat back down. I wish I knew what the answer to his depression was but I'm hoping that the same is true for dogs as it normally is for humans - time heals all wounds.

The Christmas Season

In South Philadelphia, windows decorated for Christmas have come to resemble elaborate stage productions, most of which have already been taken down. Those that are remaining will nearly all be gone after today, which is the traditional feast of the Epiphany. We are asked to keep physical reminders of Christmas around until at least January 10th, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Years ago, it was traditional to keep the creche up until the Feast of the Presentation on February 2nd
I don't ever recall a church keeping the creche up until then but I'm told this is commonplace in Italy, to the point where there were only a few days between Candlemas and Ash Wednesday (the year Easter fell exceptionally early).

Aside from the cheer that keeping the lights and the tree around for a little bit longer provide, I like the idea of keeping my Nativity scene and candles in the front window until Candlemas for the opening it provides with my neighbors, who will often remark that I "still have my decorations up." It's a simple way of giving public witness to our faith.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Starting The New Year Off Right

Many thanks to dear Father Check for holding a Family Holy Hour this evening at St. Monica's. Father gave a very insightful reflection on how we should attend Mass: as Mary, St. John and St. Mary Magdalene attended Jesus at the foot of His cross. How many devotions do I practice that become routine with a lack of attention to Jesus? How many times at Mass does my mind wander? How many times do I enter church, only to be so distracted by other people that I neglect to properly greet the Lord immediately upon entering church?

Yesterday, my pastor gave a sermon on the meaning of an Epiphany and how we can use every single Mass we attend to become more transformed by Christ. It can only happen if we give Jesus the attention He alone is worthy of at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The altar is not only the Holy Table, it is also the Cross and the Tomb. If the Eucharist represents one Salvific moment commemorating the Last Supper, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it behooves us to give the Lord all our mind and heart at every Mass and every Holy Hour. Easier said than done for me but it's something I certainly know I must work on.

With that said, it's never a bad idea to take stock of our daily devotions and see how much more we can do. If praying the Rosary isn't part of your daily devotions, do try to make it one, even it means you have to recite it a decade here and there throughout the day. Don't waste a minute on idle thoughts or activities if you haven't been successful in praying the Rosary every day. If you do pray the Rosary every day, try as best you can to pray it in front of the Blessed Sacrament every opportunity you get. There is a plenary indulgence gained for a half hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, with the usual conditions attached, of course. Every devotion to Our Lady is not meant for adoration of her but to please her by adoring her Divine Son. What a wonderful way of consoling her by praying her Rosary before her Son in the Eucharist.

I would also highly recommend praying the Chaplet to St. Michael at least once a week, more if possible. In a future thread, I will post the chaplet here. It isn't necessary to pray it on beads, though it does help to keep track of where you are. Along with Daily Mass, the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Chaplet to St. Michael are powerful spiritual weapons at our disposal that we should use every opportunity we have.