Monday, August 30, 2010

Kudos to This Pastor!

Read the following prayer, and let me know what you think. A friend sent it via email. I think this minister is spot on. Would that more would have this courage!

A Pastor with GUTS!

Thought you might enjoy this interesting
prayer given in Kansas at
the opening session of their Senate. It seems
prayer still upsets some
people.. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open
the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask
your forgiveness and to seek your direction and
guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those
who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we
have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed
our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it
the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it

We have killed our unborn and called it

We have shot abortionists and called it

We have neglected to discipline our
children and called it building self esteem.....

We have abused power and called it

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions
and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and
pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values
of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts
today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free..


The response was immediate. A number of
legislators walked out during the prayer in
protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian
Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than
5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls
responding negatively. The church is now receiving
international requests for copies of this prayer
from India , Africa and Korea .

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on
his radio program, 'The Rest of the Story, ‘and
received a larger response to this program than any
other he has ever aired.

With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep
over our nation and wholeheartedly become our
desire so that we again can be called 'one nation
under God.'

If possible, please pass this prayer on to
your friends... 'If you don't stand for something,
you will fall for everything.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gifts From God

Sister Lucia, the late Carmelite nun and Fatima visionary, was inundated with questions regarding the messages the Blessed Virgin imparted to her in the apparitions at Cova da Iria. With the permission of the Vatican and her superiors, she wrote a book in response to the hundreds if not thousands of letters she received. "Calls: From the Message of Fatima" could only have been written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As I have confided before, I was not always on the right side of the movement to protect life from conception to natural death, and reading the first chapter of Sister's book was an eye-opener for me. Perhaps it will be for you or someone you know, too. Sister is describing the households in which she and Blessed Francisco and Jacinto were raised.

"Like everyone else in the parish, the two families were poor, hard-working Christian, extracting all that they needed to live on from the cultivation of their plots of land.

Their homes had been blessed by the Sacrament of Matrimony, and their conjugal fidelity was absolute. They welcomed all the children that God chose to send them, not as a burden but as another gift with which God was enriching their homes, another life to prolong their own into the future, another flower to bloom in their garden, filling it with the perfume and joy of the many scents and shades of fresh smiling youth, another soul entrusted by God to their care so that, by guiding it in the ways of Heaven, it could become yet another member of the Mystical Body of Christ, yet another hymn of praise to eternal glory."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mother Teresa

On this, the anniversary of Mother's birth, I am reminded that she left this world on the anniversary of my birth. Today I was reading a daily reflection sent to me from my friend who works at a Catholic hospital. It asked the question: how does the work you do benefit anyone other than yourself? I might take that a step further and ask: how does the work that I do benefit me spiritually? I'm not so sure of the answer. Mother Teresa never had to ask herself that question. It's something for me to think about.

St. Monica

My sister was named after this patient and persevering woman and I was always a little jealous that my parents bestowed such a beautiful name on her and such a mundane one on me. Now I pray every morning to St. Monica (along with a whole host of other saints) to lead my sister and others back to the Catholic church.

You can tell by my profile that I have not always been a faithful Catholic. And I'm getting a small taste of what my own mother must have endured while I was away from the Church. My oldest, who was baptized in the Catholic church but raised in the Episcopal church, begged me to let her make her First Holy Communion and receive Confirmation when she was in the 8th grade and about to go to high school. Although I still went to the Episcopal church, I supported her decision. The last time she went to Mass of her own volition was in the weeks after 9/11. She likes to go on Christmas Eve and she did go to Mass a few times while in Peru. But she's one of those "free spirits" who dismisses "dogma" and thinks living a good life and treating others kindly is enough. I gently chide her and frequently invite her to Mass but she always has some excuse. Guilt doesn't work. "If I die," I tell her, "I won't be able to get out of Purgatory until you convert." Good luck with that, right?

I have only to think of St. Monica patiently praying for Augustine to become a Christian and I know I have no right to complain. She is a saintly example of what happens when you persevere in prayer. It may have taken a decade or two, but her once rakish son eventually turned to Christ, and all of us are the better for it.

I have prayed for the youngest, that she might have a vocation to the religious life, but last week I had a brainstorm, and I shared it with the oldest. "Maybe you'll shock us all and decide to enter a monastery one day," I told her. "With your physical discipline and ability to live sparsely, you'd have no problem adapting to the physical demands of cloistered life." "Keep dreaming" was her laughing response.

Nope, I'm not dreaming, but I am going to continue to pray every day for her return to the Church. How could I look at the example of St. Monica and attempt to do any less? With God, all things are possible. St. Monica, pray for us and for our wayward children who, like the lost lamb in the parable, we love all the more.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


This would truly be a wonderful world if the welfare of children was regarded as highly as the rights of animals. Don't get me wrong - there is no excuse for abusing an animal and I do believe there is a special place in hell for those who are unrepentant about cruelty their towards cats and dogs. But doesn't it strike you as ironic that, every day, children wind up in the garbage like so much medical waste and there is no public outcry? How many teenage mothers in denial about their pregnancies have attempted to drown their newborns in the toilet? Have you ever seen an outcry of the magnitude the little kitten in London garnered? And do you see something wrong with that picture?

Care of the planet and respect toward animals is a good thing. But if it's not accompanied by a similar concern for human life, it's all for naught.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mother Teresa on Examination of Conscience

One of the duties of professed priests and religious, in addition to faithfully praying the Divine Office, is to make an examination of conscience each evening. In fact, St. Teresa of Jesus once said that no one should retire for the night without at least making an accounting of their sins that day as well as reciting the Our Father. How to make a proper examination of conscience? Here is some advice from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

"You need only ask at night before you go to bed 'What did I do to Jesus today? What did I do for Jesus today? What did I do with Jesus today?' You have only to look at your hands. This is the best examination of conscience."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A little bit of a let-down

I've been feeling a little melancholy the past few days. I came to the realization that it really does bother me a little that the last child is off to high school. It feels odd not to have to be shopping for uniforms or adding the finishing touches to a summer SOS (which stands for Save Our Skills). No trips to Target to fight off other customers over the last black marble copybook. No excitement over a new schoolbag or lunch box. Sigh.

Adding to the sadness is the news that Flurry, the shelter puppy that Father S of Clerical Reform just adopted, passed away unexpectedly during surgery to spay her. I think Father is probably handling the news better than I am. As he said, the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Still, it's tough losing a pet, especially such a young one. Father S is a fine priest whose blog is primarily for the benefit of his brother priests. However, he is always gracious and helpful to the laity who comment on his posts and I pray for him frequently. I love that he doesn't want his blog to be about him but about the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Keep Father in your prayers, please?

The days are getting shorter. Just a few weeks ago, I could go for my evening walk at 7:30 and still complete most of it in the fading daylight. Now it's dark by 8pm. I don't mind the change of seasons and the older I get, the more I look forward to the Fall. Still, it feels like there are so many things that must be accomplished and less and less time in which to complete them.

Last, this is the first Saturday where I didn't get to Mass in about two years. I know it's not an obligation to go to daily Mass, but still - the Mass is such an untapped treasure that I feel like I need to go for so many who do not realize what we have here on earth. We had last-minute, self-invited company for dinner, my hair appointment lasted an hour longer than it should have, and before you know it, the day was over. We should treat every opportunity to receive Holy Communion as though it's our last.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Passion of the Catholic Church

A few weeks ago my pastor recommended that I check out some videos posted on YouTube called "The Passion of the Catholic Church". With the help of the youngest progeny, I will eventually be able to post them here, but if you want to check them out before hell freezes over, copy and paste this link:

At first, I thought Father recommended the series as a primer on the Traditional Latin Mass, but I was wrong. This is a series of deeply disturbing snapshots of "the Deformation of the Catholic Church." I got the same kind of shiver down my spine watching these what I did when I was in 7th grade and got a first-hand look at desecration of a sacred object. It was Monday morning and I accompanied my friend Violet to the ladies room so she could check out her hair. I saw something out of the corner of my eye and had to do a double-take. Someone had taken the crucifix down from one of the classrooms and shoved it, upside-down, into the Kotex dispenser. I didn't look around to see what else they had done - I ran straight back to my classroom to alert my teacher. There was no sign of a break-in. It was an inside job by someone with a serious problem. It disturbs me that we never found the depraved soul who did that.

The abuses that have taken place in the Sacred Liturgy are also inside jobs, but there is hope, which the creator of the series, bless his soul, clearly recognizes. Take a look and let me know what you think.

And now for something completely different....

Not to worry - no Monty Python irreverence here. Just a YouTube video I came across that I thought I'd share. Dolores Hart was a movie actress who earned bragging rights by giving Elvis Presly his first on-screen kiss. Today, she is Mother Dolores Hart at the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis. The quality isn't the best, but give it a look anyway. What a powerful call she must have received.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Kitchen

Despite the fact that my paternal grandparents were "right off the boat", as the expression goes, my grandmother never canned her own tomatoes. She did make her own sausage, a variety known as soperasato, which hung in the basement by the wine barrel. But for the experience of canning tomatoes, I had to go to our friend Caroline's house.

Caroline's grandmother was so off the boat she even cooked rabbit and spoke less English than my grandparents. At any rate, one Saturday in August was dedicated to the family enterprise of canning enough tomatoes to stock each household with the requisite jars to make "gravy" every Sunday of the year. I have no idea what time they arose, but by 9am the production was in full swing. One uncle was in charge of lunch for everyone and this was usually sausage and peppers on good Italian rolls. Bushels and bushels of tomatoes decorated the backyard. Each person played a part. One cousin washed the tomatoes. Someone's mother dropped them into the rolling water bath that would make it possible to remove their skins quickly, and someone else dropped them into the ice bath that would help them cool. Another aunt was in charge of peeling the tomatoes, and yet another cored and chopped. One of the uncles was in charge of the handmill that ground the tomatoes and collected the seeds. Caroline's grandmother oversaw the cooking of the tomatoes, which involved just the right amount of basil and garlic. Another family member was responsible for the jars, which had to be washed meticulously and kept hot. When enough of the "sauce" had cooked and was ready to be canned, it was time to pour the sauce through a special funnel into the clean, hot mason jars. These jars were then transported to the family's basement kitchen ( at one time in South Philly, everyone had a kitchen in their cellar) and there the actual canning took place. The jars were carefully placed inside a large wire basket that held about 6 quart jars at a time and lowered into the bath, where they would be boiled for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, labels were prepared with the day's date on them, to be added once the jars cooled.

The aroma of tomato sauce filled the neighborhood, and truth be told, more than one neighbor dropped by, more in the hope of getting one of those sausage and pepper sandwiches than for getting a free jar of sauce.

When my parents built a home in the mountains, it wasn't long before we had our own garden. They took a considerable amount of pride in the bounty this garden brought forth and, despite the fact that my father is and always was a flaming conservative who pooh-poohs anything having to do with the environment, he was into organic gardening before most people knew what it was. Soon, he grew more than we could eat and the desire to make use of it all, coupled with the pride that could not bear to see any of it go to waste, meant some other use had to be found for everything. My mother learned to can. We went to Heckman's Orchards in nearby Effort, PA. to buy Mason jars, Ball lids and rings, and a cookbook to instruct her on the fine art of canning.

It wasn't long before my mother was canning her own "gravy" and my father would interrogate her at every Sunday dinner to make sure it had been made with the tomatoes she jarred.

Somewhere along the way, the house got sold, and so did all the canning equipment. One summer, after visiting a farm in Tabernacle, New Jersey to pick raspberries, I got the bright idea to give canning tomatoes a try. First, it's remarkable how many bushels are needed for just a few quarts of sauce. Then there is the equipment. I invested in a large canning kettle which doubles in our family as a crab steamer. I also needed the jars and lids, a food mill to grind the tomatoes and a funnel through which to spoon them into the jars. The trip to New Jersey would take place one day and the canning enterprise on the next. I did this for a few years and then one day decided tomato puree from the can works just fine. It was an exhausting enterprise better accomplished with the work of many hands, and my kids were too small to help.

Fast forward to today. Last Saturday, Bud, my CSA farmer, emailed to see he was sending "paste tomatoes" and that he'd love it if all of us would give making homemade spaghetti sauce a try. Bud puts so much love and effort into his crops that I felt I'd be letting him down if I didn't take him up on this, so guess what's on the stove? A bushel of Roma tomatoes, peeled, cored and pureed, along with some garlic and basil from Bud's farm. The smell is heavenly. I'm going to add a little lump crabmeat right before we're ready to eat dinner.

When we took about lost traditions, this is one I would love to give a new lease on life every August. Some things are easier than they used to be. For instance, I can use a food processer to puree the tomatoes, and the microwave works just fine in keeping the Mason jars hot. Canning is one of those simple activities than can be lovingly performed. It links us to a bygone era when families joined in so that many hands made lighter work and everyone reaped the benefits. Even in the dead of winter, opening a Mason jar full of preserved tomatoes can hearken us back to a beautiful August day where the aroma of sausage and peppers on a roll comes alive, as well as memories of an entire family working together in a tiny South Philadelphia rowhouse.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Since Proposition 8 was in the news again this week, I found today's Gospel from St. Matthew to be timely in a particular way. When asked if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife, Jesus responds that while Moses may have permitted this because he had bigger battles to fight, the Word of God is very clear that "for this reason, a man shall leave his father and be joined to his wife." Jesus never refers to the wife as anything other than a she. He is quite clear that a wife is a female.

It is often said that we should hate the sin but love the sinner. We should embrace our brothers and sisters who suffer from a grave and disordered passion by regarding them with kindness and love. However, which one of us, if we knew someone to be an alcoholic, would feed their addiction to liquor rather than try to stop them from destroying themselves? If our brother or sister became a heroine addict, would we look the other way with a wink or a nod? Should we do no less for our brothers and sisters who are destroying their souls by giving in to the lie that sex with someone of the same gender is ok?

I've heard all the arguments that try to turn the tables on faithful Christians who recognize that God established marriage as an covenant exclusively between one man and one woman. How many times have you heard: "We're not hurting anyone, so mind your business." No, you may not be hurting me, but you're destroying yourself and divorcing yourself from God, and just as I would not let you jump off the ledge of a sky-scraper or kill yourself with alcohol, gluttony or drugs, nor can I stand by in silence while you imperil yourself to the destruction of your soul.

Father Corapi puts it best. When discussing homosexuals, he's concedes that people can be attracted to those of the same sex. That's ok, he says, but, like him, they're called to a life of celibacy. When we decide that men can marry men and women can marry women, we are effectively saying we know better than God. It is not possible for a man born a man to conceive a child by another man. It is not possible for a woman born a woman to impregnate another woman. The natural order of things is that procreation can only occur between two members of the opposite sex. Just as sinful man has tried to usurp God's authority by manufacturing life outside the womb as well as destroying life within the womb, so does sinful man think he can define what lawfully wedding someone means. The more abominations like abortion, IVF, and homosexual relations are permitted to continue unchecked, the further away we spin from God, and the closer we align ourselves to the devil, who will tell you with all the deceitful earnest he can muster that so long as you're not killing anyone else, you can do whatever you feel like doing. No, you can't, and Jesus is very clear about this.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our Father in Heaven

I had to be at work at the uncivilized hour of 5am, so no opportunity for Mass this morning. I made up for it by getting to the Convent of Divine Love just in time for Vespers. As the nuns began chanting the Our Father in their heavenly voices, I had an image of children speaking lovingly of the head of their family. How often do I say the words of the Our Father and address them to a mighty and powerful God without ever stopping to consider the paternal tenderness with which He looks upon His children? As the nuns chanted, I couldn't help but see an image of beautiful little girls singing of the joy of life in their Father's house.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Holy Mother Clare

Today is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, St. Clare. As a child, I enjoyed reading about how she spurned a life of luxury and riches to follow St. Francis into a life of joyous poverty. Up until I graduated from college, I harbored a secret desire to live the life of a Poor Clare. Obviously, that didn't happen, but I thought about it often and found myself infatuated with the liftestyle of women who would rise at midnight and again at 4am to chant the Divine Office to Our Lord.

St. Clare eschewed even the most basic physical comforts. Not only did she go without shoes, she slept on a hard floor every night. She was the first to rise each morning to light the candles and ring the choir bell. She didn't eat meat and fasted for long periods of time. At one time she was ordered by her spiritual director to sleep in a bed and eat at least some bread every day, which she was bound by her vows to obey. St. Clare is often depicted holding a Monstrance. Said one historian, "Clare herself was a Monstrance, living her life in complete devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist."

Gaze upon Christ
Consider Christ
Contemplate Christ as you desire to
Imitate Christ - St. Clare of Assisi

Series on Mother Teresa Pt. 4

Mother was a dimunitive figure, but only in terms of appearance. She dared go where few others would and had no fear about saying what needed to be said, an example being her speech upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here is an amusing excerpt about the time she tried to catch a taxi to one of her foundations in the South Bronx:

"We have a contemplative house in the South Bronx. A taxi driver refused to take me there. The Sisters did not know I was coming, so I had to take a taxi - but he refused to go there. I said, 'But we are living there. Our young sisters are living there.' He said no. 'All right, I will sit near you and you will see that nothing will happen to either you or me.' So I got in the taxi and we went. His mouth when he saw the young Sisters jumping and laughing and the people bowing, those who recognized me speaking to me (they were drunk), taking off their hats and so on. He couldn't get over it, seeing that presence. This is something very beautiful."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Work of the Creator in the Andes of Peru

God, in His goodness, brought my oldest back safely from her trek across the Andes in Peru. Here are some photos she took in Machu Picchu. You can see the hand of God everywhere.

Series on Mother Teresa Pt. 3

I seem to have misplaced my book on the way back from the shore, so today's reflection from Mother will be brief but familiar to you.

"Unless we believe and see Jesus in the appearance of bread on the altar, we will not be able to see him in the distressing disguise of the poor."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Series on Mother Teresa pt. 2

Mother Teresa on the poor and the providence and tenderness of God.

"We cook for nine thousand people every day. One day one sister came and said 'Mother, we have nothing to eat, nothing to give the people.' I had no answer. By 9am that morning a truck full of bread came to our house. The government gives a slice of bread and milk to poor children. That day - no one in the city knew why - but suddenly all the schools were closed. And all the bread came to Mother Teresa. See, God closed the schools. He would not let our people go without food. And this was the first time, I think, in their lives that they had such good bread and so much. This way you can see the tenderness of God."

"One day in Calcutta a man came with a prescription and said, 'My only child is dying and this medicine can be brought only from outside of India.' Just at that time, while we were still talking, a man came with a basket of medicine. Right on top of that basket, there was this medicine. If it had been inside, I would not have seen it. If he had come before, or if he had come afterward, I would not have seen it. But just at that time, out of the millions of children in the world, God in His tenderness was concerned with this little child of the slums of Calcutta to send, just at that time, that amount of medicine to save that child. I praise the tenderness and the love of God, because every little one, in a poor family or in a rich family, is a child of God, created by the Creator of all things."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Series on Mother Teresa

About a year ago, I picked up a great book at St. Rita's gift shop called "Jesus, The Word to be Spoken." It is a compilation of prayers and meditations from Mother Teresa's writings and talks to her third order Missionaries of Charity. The next several posts that I get around to will be excerpts from this book in Mother's own words on the poor, the sacrament of confession, Jesus in the Eucharist and respect for life.

"We are the servants of the poor. We give free whole-hearted service to the poor. In the world, people are paid for their work. We are paid by God. We are bound by a vow to love and serve the poor, and to live as poor with the poor."

"Do we treat the poor as our dustbins to give whatever we cannot use or eat? I cannot eat this food, so I will give it to the poor. I cannot use this thing or that piece of cloth, so I will give it to the poor. Am I then sharing the poverty of the poor? Do I identify with the poor I serve? Am I one of them? Do I share with them as Jesus shares with me?"

"One evening a gentleman came to our house and told me 'There is a Hindu family with eight children and they have not eaten for a long time. Do something for them.' I took some rice and I went straightaway. I could see in the children's faces terrible hunger. And yet when the mother took the rice, she divided it into two portions, and went out. When she came back I said 'Where did you go? What did you do?' She gave me one answer only:'They are hungry too.' She had next-door neighbors, a Muslim family, and she knew that they were hungry. I did not bring any more rice for that day because I wanted them to experience the joy of giving. I was not surprised that she gave, but I was surprised that she knew that they were hungry. Do we know? Do we have time to know? Do we have time to even smile at anybody"?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Milestone Birthday

Today is the Boy's birthday. Matt is 16. I have the grey hairs to prove it. Life has been an adventure with this boy, that is for sure. He does things his way and on his watch. He doesn't have the same concept of time the rest of us do, nor does he have an inner monitor. What pops into his head comes out of his mouth. Sometimes it comes in handy, like when someone's cell phone goes off in church and he turns around and lets them have it. Because of his disability, he can get away with it. He still gets the obligatory elbow in the side, because despite the fact that he's missing a filter, I still have the responsibility to teach him right from wrong. But like I said, there are definitely times when we appreciate his brutal honesty.

When Matthew was 3, his pre-school teacher told me to have his hearing tested because despite how many times she called him, he never answered her. Took him to the pediatrician and his hearing tested just fine. When he got to kindergarten, he couldn't stop talking about Thomas the Tank Engine. At first, the other kids enjoyed it. But as they progressed to other things, it got tiresome, and they let him know it. When it was no longer Thomas, it was Godzilla, and then it was Star Wars and then War of the Worlds. Increasingly, he grew more isolated from his classmates, captured by thoughts of his own mind.

One of the most painfully excruciating moments of my life came at the end of a school day when he sobbed into my shoulder that no one ever invited him to birthday parties. "It's because I'm so stupid," he sobbed. I did my best to keep my own composure and asked him if someone in his class was having a birthday. He didn't answer me. I told him I never got invited to many parties either and though being left out is something that hurts our feelings, we can't let it get us down. I did my best to assure him that he was not stupid either.

We went for counseling to help his self esteem. Then we went for testing. The first psychiatrist I took him to told me he was schizophrenic. I cried all the way home from the appointment, but something told me he was wrong. The pediatrician called me in the middle of a beautiful Saturday afternoon. She, too, had been given the same report and she didn't want me to worry. She didn't agree with the doctor at all. "Give me a week to find someone else for you."

Dr. W was a bit scatter-brained and disorganized, but what she was was right on target with her diagnosis and prescription for help. Pervasive developmental delay. Matt was on the autistic scale of disorders. He had severe OCD, which prevented him from being able to learn anything. We got him into a school with a special autistic support program and watched our isolated, depressed child become transformed into a decent student with some confidence and self esteem. He quickly became the darling of all the teachers, custodians and administrators and when he graduated, they gave him a special award created just for him. "When no one else would talk to me", one of the teachers explained at commencement, "Matt always would, and he listened, too."
Again, I cried.

When he started high school, we worried constantly because we couldn't get him into the school of our choice and he wasn't profoundly disabled, so we couldn't even get him into a private school that would have meant mortgaging ourselves to the hilt. Matt couldn't understand why he couldn't go where he wanted. Counseling helped with the rejection but what helped most of all were the tons of friends he started making. Some of them, like him, are the kind of kids that society treats as rejects. I often wondered why God would give an impatient person like me such a child, but I now know why. Because Matt has taught me to have patience and understanding, not only with him but with the kids he brings home, many of whom do not have two loving parents or the benefit of professional help and counseling. Matthew has also taught me to make the most of mortification and let go of pride.

Anyway, today was his day, so we let him pick where he wanted to go to dinner. He also decided to get his own cake, picking out a Star Wars theme in chocolate, complete with Darth Vader armed with light saber. Matt was pretty excited when he got home from Mass because he'd been asked to help with the collection. "What do you think", I asked him "maybe it's time to lend your help as an altar server."

He beamed from ear to ear. "Maybe" was all he said.