Sunday, February 28, 2010

Miracle on Ice Part II?

I probably know the Canadian National Anthem as well as I know the Star Spangled Banner. It comes from years of watching hockey. I can't really call myself a Flyers fan anymore because I don't follow them with any regularity, but I love a good hockey game as much as the next fan. I'll never forget that magical moment in 1980 in Lake Placid. Will it be repeated this afternoon in Vancouver? As my mother used to tell me, we'll see!

The Transfiguration

This mystery is one of my favorite Gospel mysteries of the Rosary. Peter, James and John, who would be present in the garden at Gethsemane when Jesus was taken into custody to face His eventual death, are privileged to see the Lord in His glorified body and to hear the voice of the Father. What the Father says is essentially what the Mother said at Cana - listen to Him, or, do whatever He tells you. The disciples will soon have their faith shaken to the core when the Lord undergoes His unspeakable Passion and Death on the cross. It has been preached that Jesus allowed the three apostles to view His Transfiguration because they would soon see just the opposite. Knowing the human mind, did Our Lord want them to have another image to refer to rather than one of Him in chains or worse, hanging from the cross? And perhaps knowing that they might ask themselves, as so many do in our world today, what kind of father would ask his son to die,would hearing the Father's words affirm for them that Jesus was carrying out His Father's will? Though they would not understand all that was to happen, they were fortified to accept it.

"Lord, it is good that we are here." Yes, perhaps not only because what they had seen on Mt. Tabor would strengthen them for the crucifixion, but it would also prepare them for the Resurrection.

In John Chapter 20, Jesus tells the doubting apostle Thomas "You believe because you have seen, blessed are those who have not seen me but believe." It isn't easy, and no one understood that better than Our Lord. The Transfiguration is affirmation of that.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Different, Not Less

I'm not much for watching movies or shows on television, but my curiousity was piqued a few weeks ago when I came home to find my husband glued to something on HBO. It was a movie about an autistic girl growing up in the fifties and sixties. The apltly titled movie was about Dr. Temple Grandin, who was born in 1947 when not much was known about autism and when the disorder was erroneously blamed on a lack of love and affection from the child's mother. Temple's mother never gave up on her and never accepted the grim advice from the doctors. Eventually, she went on to earn a PhD in animal sciences and today she is a professor at the University of Colorado. According to the movie's credits, half of the cattle in North America are handled in humane systems that she designed. If you can, see the movie "Temple Grandin."

When my son was finally diagnosed as being on the autistic scale of disorders, it was a relief to have something to work with. You can't help a child when you don't know what's wrong with him. At one point, we'd been told that he was schizophrenic and thankfully, we did not accept that diagnosis and went elsewhere for help. His IQ is borderline and at first glance, he appears perfectly normal, but if you talk to him at length or observe his actions, you begin to detect he's different. But what he's not is less. There are times when I am extremely frustrated with him. He is and has always been held captive by his own thoughts. When he was a little boy, it was trains and dinosaurs, then it got to be Star Wars and now it's girls and shoveling snow to make money. He needs constant redirection, but then again, so do I. It's too easy to get frustrated with him and forget that the sweet little boy who spent hours and hours playing with Thomas the Tank Engine is physically growing into a man, but not at the same rate mentally. He curses because in his mind, that's what grown ups do. He nags us about the same things over and over again because that's the way his mind works. I'm not crazy about the people he's friends with, but with them, he's found acceptance and because they're just like him, he feels safe. They're not bad kids - just different, and I've had to remind myself time and time again that they are not less either. I worry because it seems there's not a lick of common sense between the bunch of them, but by the grace of God, they manage to get from point A to point B safely together.

For months, I resisted letting my son be friends with a certain boy at school because I thought he was a bad influence, but then I got to know him a little and I saw how my actions had only exacerbated the painful cocoon this child was living in. Now I see a change in him and my son. Whereas before his friend could not make eye contact or speak to us, he can now come in the house and look at us while he is talking. I realized before when he would turn down dinner invitations at the last minute that it wasn't because of rudeness but because he had such anxiety about social situations with people he didn't know. I had rejected him as being suitable for my son before giving him a chance because my son is my priority and I didn't want any harm to come to him, but it never occurred to me how this was being perceived by this other child, who has had to endure his own unspeakable pain in life. So the lot of them are different, but they're not less in the eyes of God, and may the Lord have mercy on me for having ever acted as if they were.

My son is often seeking my advice and help for his friends and I now know why - because they don't have parents they can go to. I thought it was overwhelming to have a child like my son because I'm not exactly a patient person, and now I see that the Lord, in His wisdom, doesn't think I have enough still, so He has sent me some other kids to practice with. Pray that I do a better job than I have!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How Is Your Lent Going?

Well, we're nearly a week into Lent. How's it going for you? I'm thinking I could be working a little harder. First off, I've been finding it difficult to wake up in the morning with sufficient enthusiasm for getting to Mass. I remind myself of St. Therese, in her extreme illness, exclaiming " I do not consider this (her effort) too much to win one Holy Communion". I also remind myself that it might be my last opportunity to receive the Eucharist, for reasons known only to God, so I'd better get it in gear. Last week, I entertained the idea of getting up a little earlier so I could pray the Liturgy of the Hours before getting out of bed, and instead, I've been tapping the snooze button so I can get up at the last possible minute that will still enable me to get to church in time to pray the Rosary.

A few years ago, when I lamented that I feel I never spend enough time praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, my priest friend asked me to recount how I spend my day. When I finished, he said "Christ does not want you running yourself ragged for Him. When you can't get to Adoration because of work or family obligations, you make those obligations your prayer and you perform them giving your best effort."
This has been an especially productive week at work, with many of God's graces and blessings apparent in recent accomplishments, so it is only fitting to offer it all back to Him. It may not be the Daily Office, but the Lord, in His generosity, will look upon my efforts and find them pleasing, more pleasing than rushing through my prayers and allowing my mind to wander because I have so many practical matters pressing upon it.

Anyway, I have still have over a month to get it right, and tomorrow is another day. God willing, I'll have a chance to do better.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day of Recollection Canceled

Sadly, the Lenten Day of Recollection sponsored by Catholics United for the Faith on March 6th at St. Charles Seminary had to be canceled. The retreat master, Father Augustine Esposito, OSA,PhD, underwent emergency cardiac bypass surgery. Please keep Father in your prayers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jesus Shows Us The Way

There is something about today's Gospel according to St. Luke that sends shivers up my spine - particularly the ominous words at the end "and the devil left Him, for a time." I've always had a bit of difficulty comprehending why the Son of God would allow Himself to be lead to the parapet of the Temple by the devil, but a sermon given by St. Augustine on this topic, which is part of the day's readings in the Daily Office, explains this mystery perfectly. Just as Jesus went into the desert to show us how to fast and pray, He also allowed Himself to be confronted with temptation so He could show us how to overcome it. As I have mentioned here before, it is nearly always after a very holy period of time in my life that I face the worst attacks. Does it not seem the same here for Our Lord, who is weak with hunger after fasting and praying for 40 days, when He is confronted by the Deceiver?

It of often those times when we are at our weakest that we find it most difficult to resist temptation. When life deals one cruel blow after another, it's tempting to question God and why life is the way it is. When life becomes mundane and monotonous, it is tempting to think about something more exciting and glamorous that might not be good for our souls. As St. Augustine noted, Our Lord overcame His temptations because He was both God and man. We can only overcome these same temptations if we look to Him for help because we are not capable of doing it ourselves, and to think that we can is to fall for the greatest deception of all.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Around the Parishes

Reminder that Sunday evening March 7th at 7pm, St. Monica's at 17th and Ritner Streets will hold a Family Holy Hour in the Upper Church. Silent Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, readings from sacred scripture, hymns, chanting of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction will be led by Father Check. I've been fortunate to get to a few of these Holy Hours and I can attest that the music is beautiful and the Hour is very peaceful and conducive to adoration and prayer.

St. Paul Parish at 10th and Christians Streets will hold Forty Hour Devotions starting Sunday, March 14th following the 12 Noon Traditional Latin Mass. Evening Prayer and Benediction will take place at 7pm March 14th, 15th and 16th. The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed on Monday and Tuesday following the 7:30am Mass and the church will remain open all day for silent Adoration and prayer. I was very happy to learn that the homilist each night will be Father Ronald W. Check, whom you may know personally from St. Monica's or from his blog, Seek His Face.

Also at St. Paul Feb. 25th thru March 4th, the relic and an icon of St. John Vianney (patron saint of priests) will be available for veneration at all the weekend Masses. In addition, a special Novena prayer and talk on his life and ministry will be offered on Monday evening, March 1st at the Weekly 7pm Novena.

A Time for Heavy Lifting

What does it mean to sell all we have, give up all we own, and pick up our cross to follow Jesus? I was thinking about this and it dawned on me that Our Lord didn't necessarily want us to sell our house and our car and go around with nothing but the clothes we are wearing. As with so many Gospels, there is much beneath the surface to be discovered.

Carrying the cross requires significant strength. Jesus had the Cyrenian to help Him, but we have Jesus to help us. Sometimes, giving up what we own is not a physical possession, but an idea that we stubbornly cling to. Perhaps it is a habit or weakness that we are attached to, and that attachment is what prevents us from following Christ, Who was completely selfless. It could simply be an attachment to ourselves, and so long as have any attachment to ourselves, we cannot completely follow Christ.

I jokingly refer to my husband as "my cross" and let's face it - some days this has more elements of truth to it than others. How I "carry" him can often depend on my level of patience on a given day. There is perhaps no better demonstration of selfishness than impatience. So, if I become annoyed at the same old things and let it affect how I speak to him and to the kids, I have, in effect, dragged the cross. Some days there are temptations to put the cross down. When that happens, am I any better than the young man who went away sadly because he could not sell all he owned?

St. Therese once observed that she lived the happiest life possible because she had completely given up her own will and wanted only that which God had willed for her. Would this be palpable, or felt happiness? Not necessarily. It is simply the peace that comes with knowing that the more we give up in this life, the greater our joy will be in Heaven, and the closer we are to union with Christ. As many priests and scholars have pointed out, Good Friday comes before Easter Sunday - no cross, no Easter Sunday.

How easy it is to make these observations, and how difficult it is to put them into practice. A priest friend of mine likes to say that Lent is a time for heavy lifting. Perhaps we can use these 40 days as a means of gaining the strength necessary to pick up that cross that we have placed in a corner and make our best effort to carry it. We won't have to carry it alone, but like St. Peter on the water when he began to sink, we need to keep our focus on Christ and the example He left for us.

What are some exercises we can do to give up attachment to self?

1. Don't argue back when accused of something

2. Ignore something someone has done deliberately in an effort to provoke us and say a prayer of thanks for the test they have provided

3. Become indifferent to what we are given or how we are recognized

4. Volunteer for a task that no one else wants to do

5. Let someone else take a seat of honor or prestige

6. Resist any temptation to become angry, whether through thought, word, or deed, at some injustice committed against us

7. Sit in the worst place or near the most objectionable person on the bus or in church, etc.

8. Immediately put any thought out of our heads that in any way glorifies us and do some small act of penance in reparation for thinking of ourselves in this way

9. Resist taking credit for one of our ideas when someone else proposes it as their own

10. Argue with no one. If an angry exchange does occur, seek out the other person as soon as possible and offer an apology or olive branch.

Friday, February 19, 2010

More Than Chocolate

A well-known priest blogger recently admonished that giving up chocolate is something children do for Lent. I don't think he meant to suggest that it's wrong to give something up for Lent, only that we should make more than this kind of sacrifice to become closer to God. Rather than give up something, we can fast by doing something. Do what?

1. One of the hardest things for us as prideful human beings is to take blame for something we didn't do. Naturally, I don't mean to suggest you should take blame for a crime someone else committed, but you could "take the hit" for something small around the house or in the workplace that was the fault of someone else. Think of St. Therese, who had to "run away to keep from defending myself" when blamed for leaving something out of order or creating a mess. Think of the accusations hurled at Our Lord to which He offered not one defense. It's a small thing, but it's the love with which it is done that makes it priceless.

2. We could take this a step further and in the confessional, simply accept any admonitions the priest might give rather than offer any kind of defense. I might have to bite my tongue to accomplish this, personally speaking!

3. We could go out of our way to do something nice for a person we have an aversion to.

4. Personally speaking, I can learn to offer up disturbances and distractions at Mass or Adoration and refrain from showing my displeasure by shaking my head or glancing over at the culprit.

5. We can hold our tongue for that person who really seems to know how to push our buttons. And we can pray for them and thank God for putting them in our path to holiness.

6. We can refrain from offering our opinion on something.

7. We can spend more free time in prayer rather than on the computer or some other form of entertainment. We could also do more spiritual reading, as we are urged to do during Lent.

8. We can have an uncomfortable conversation with someone rather than "venting" behind their back, if what we will say is for their own good and not our benefit.

9. Rather than give up something we like to eat, we can go out of our way to eat something we don't like.

10. We can set aside a few hours on a beautiful sunny day to spend some time in Adoration, especially if we had other plans. We should be glad to do this as there is no one we should like to be with more than our Eucharistic Lord.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Gospel According to St. Matthew

I never cease to be amazed at how many people come to church for ashes. Because I go to Mass very early in the morning, and because I walk to work, Ash Wednesday always makes for an interesting commute. I tend to forget the ashes are there on my forehead and invariably I'll hear more than once "Oh, I didn't know today was Ash Wednesday. Thanks for reminding me, I'll have to get my ashes." Usually, I'm so caught off guard that I don't have more of a response than "oh, ok." Today, however, today was - different.

I made my best effort to evangelize. When a woman noticed my ashes and asked "oh, is today Ash Wednesday ALREADY?" I laughed and said "now, if you went to Mass more often, you would KNOW that today is Ash Wednesday, but that's ok. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Go get your ashes, Jesus will be very happy to see you in church." OK, so maybe she thought I was crazy, but I had to give it a shot. This evening, Vespers was slightly interrupted by a lot of shuffling and whispering in the chapel. As soon as Benediction had concluded, a woman approached one of the friars and asked him when ashes would be distributed. "As soon as we can find a Catholic priest", he joked. Meanwhile, one of the other friars generously went off to get the ashes from the sacristy. I often wonder if priests find it discouraging to see so many people on one day and then hardly again, but the reaction of that friar in dashing off to get the ashes tells me otherwise. I would have been tempted to tell her to come back at the appropriate time. How charitable is that? Not very!

I love the Gospel read on Ash Wednesday, but how I wish the entire chapter was read on this day that sees so many fallen away Catholics return to church, for reasons known only to them. How many of those who came today don't bother to come on Sundays because Mass isn't important to them? How many don't come because God just isn't a priority? How many are too busy acquiring possessions and playing with those possessions to care about their spiritual well-being? How many came today for appearances sake? How many have not been raised well in the faith but with a little encouragement, might undergo convesion? Did I do all I could to make all of them feel welcome so that they might want to come back soon? I certainly hope so!

There is so much here in St. Matthew's Gospel and it is so fitting that we hear it at the start of Lent.

The Gospel according St. Matthew, Chapter 6

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Crucial Conversations

Every year at Lent, our pastor charges each one of us to pray for fallen away Catholics and to invite someone we know has been away from the Church to return. One year I decided to invite a neighbor to Mass and I was shocked when she said yes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Today, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to talk to a sibling who has been away from the faith. She sent me one of those semi-religious chain emails. I said "hey, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, you know, any plans to go to confession or Mass?" The response was that she would get ashes tomorrow (what a friend and I would call an A & P Catholic - ashes and palm) but that is the extent of it. I offered to make an appointment with a priest who I know would be glad to hear her confession and she declined. "I don't believe in confession. I haven't been to confession in years and I don't intend to ever go again. It's not necessary." The rest of the conversation was along the lines of "I'm a good person" "what kind of God would send someone to hell because they don't go to church or confession?" "Church is a crutch for people who have nothing else in their life."

Well, when you knock at a door, you have to be prepared for who might answer it. My sister's response was typical of what I often hear from people when I invite them back to church, but it doesn't discourage me. "Look" I said "I'm just going to say this to you and then you do as you wish - first, if someone doesn't know any better and has never been taught the faith, maybe they can get away with just being a good person. But you do know better, and you should know that for you, there is no salvation without the graces given to you in the sacraments." I felt like I was on a bit of a roll, so I continued, recalling something I read in "Come To Me In The Blessed Sacrament." "Just one more thing - I know you remember hearing about Christ's agony in the garden. That agony wasn't just about His impending passion, it was also about the awful knowledge that so many people, just like you, would close the door on Him and treat His love for you with neglect and indifference. So, no, I don't think it's enough to be a "good person". We're also called to be holy people, and without the sacraments and a regular prayer life, you can't be holy."

Then I ended the conversation. I don't know if it had the desired effect, but perhaps a seed was planted. I won't stop praying for her and for others who have thrown their faith away. I think selfishness has a great deal to do with why people don't go to Mass. God is an afterthought, not the focus of their daily lives. I pray that will change. At Lent we are expected to practice charity by giving alms. Perhaps we can all remember to offer spiritual alms, or little sacrifices, for the intention of bringing a stray lamb back into the flock.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Can't Promise To Make You Happy In This Life

Something else came to mind today when I was thinking about St. Bernadette, and that was something Our Lady said to her: " I can't promise to make you happy in this life, only in the next." St. Bernadette's example of perserverance and humility is one I often think about when I'm having my own struggles, which pale in comparison to what she endured.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes

This being the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, I thought I would share an excerpt from today's meditation in the Magnificat, and which is also recounted in the Magnificat Book, The Miracle of Lourdes


"Later, at the moment of plunging into the pool, Mrs. Louis Martin shivered with all her limbs. How icy the marble seemed! How hostile this clear water seemed despite the warmth of a June afternoon! Lost in the crowd of pilgrims, an anonymous mother of a future illustrious saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, Zelie abandoned herself to the hope of a physical healing for which her daughters prayed with all their might by her side. In the Martin family, prayer was as essential to the soul as oxygen to the lungs.

"Our Lady of Lourdes, protect them, watch over them," she prayed.

Our Lady and her Son would see to it. They would have all these free and happy young women enter convents where they would be able to devote their lives to prayer, in keeping with their wishes."


St. Bernadette is my patron saint - I took her name at Confirmation and every day that I am privileged to receive Holy Communion, I call upon her as well as St. Therese to pray for us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Don't Forget to Pray for Priests

One of the principal vocations of the Carmelites, and of St. Therese in particular, is to pray for priests. Priests are at the forefront of our attention this year because His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI made this the Year of the Priest, but hopefully none of us needs a special year designated for this purpose to remember them in our prayers.

People can be hard on their priests. They can take each perceived slight and blow a mountain out of a molehill. They forget what it is a priest does every day. They forget that priests, like doctors, are on call and the sick and the dying don't make appointments with them. A priest is never going to complain about being up all night with a dying parishioner, but it happens. Can't we give them the benefit of the doubt?

Priests are expected to admininster the sacraments to us and act as administrators, psychologists, and to some people, entertainers. How many times have you overheard someone complaining about a sermon being boring or long? Priests are human. Some are better speakers than other. That is immaterial to the fact that the greatest thing our priests do is bring us Christ in the Eucharist. No priests, no Eucharist.

When is the last time you thanked a priest for, well, becoming a priest? When is the last time you let your priest know he gave a helpful sermon, or that his work is much appreciated by the parish? I often think one of the best ways to show our priests support is by our attendance at Mass and other parish devotions. And it doesn't take but a few minutes to send a priest a note thanking him for his service and assuring him of our prayers. I think it's human nature to assume priests don't need our prayers. In fact, they may very well need them even more than we do. The devil never quits, and a collar will not protect a man from the attacks - if anything, priests are in even greater danger. Prayer, especially the Holy Rosary, is the best spiritual weapon we have against evil. We should make it a habit to every day offer prayers for our priests, and let them know about it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

After The Snow

It was kind of nice not to have to go anywhere yesterday, except by choice. I went to the Vigil Mass at St. Paul's last night, and I couldn't get over how the dusk sky had cast a beautiful blue hue on the snow. It's amazing how everything takes on such a purity, even in the city, beneath the thick white blanket of winter. I like to imagine that when the snow melts, it takes all the filth and pollution with it.

In the good old days before my back problems, I would head out to Kelly Drive as the snow started to sneak in a short run. Nothing is quite like the stillness of a snowfall and the stark bare tree limbs cloaked in white against the grey sky. Even in the city the beauty of God's creation is never so apparent as it during a snowfall. I hope we all take a minute or two to appreciate it before we grumble about the inconvenience it can create.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing Much

Is anyone else amused by the "controversy" over the pro-life ad featuring Heisman Trophy Winner Tim Tebow on SuperBowl Sunday? I cannot believe the tizzy that the pro-abortion groups have worked themselves into over an ad no one has really even seen yet. I'm trying to figure out just what is so controversial or threatening about a woman who opted not to have an abortion. I'm also perplexed by Planned Parenthood's insistence that they be given equal time, as if there is something positive about having an abortion. One thing for sure: the tantrums these groups are pulling mean even more people will see the ad.

Announcements and First Thursday in the Year of the Priest

Please be advised that the February 7th Holy Hour at St. Monica's Church is cancelled due to the impending inclement weather. Please pass the word. I'll post about next month when I hear.

Also, please remember that during the Year of the Priest, there is a plenary indulgence granted to the faithful who, on the First Thursday of the Month:

Devotedly attend Mass and offer prayers to Christ the High Priest for the priests of the Church
perform any good work to sanctify and mould priests to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
2) Receive Holy Communion
3) Offer the usual prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father, ie one Pater Noster (Our Father) and one Ave Maria (Hail Mary)
4) Make a sacramental confession within a week of the day of seeking to obtain a plenary indulgence
5) Be completely detached from all sin, even venial sin

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feast of St. Blaise

I just returned from getting an epidural injection to ease the pressure on my sciatic nerve, so I'm not going to offer too much here except to say this: it's wonderful that people come to church to have their throats blessed. In fact, it's wonderful any time people come to church. But does it occur to some of our lapsed Catholics that they do not need a special feast day to get blessed? Their entire being can be blessed every single Sunday at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So if you know someone who only takes the time to show up to have their throat blessed or to receive Ashes and Palm, please remind them it would be nice to see them more often. Please let them know how comforting it is to Our Lord's Sacred Heart to see all of us at Mass, even those of us who haven't lived as we should. Make sure they know when we come to Mass, He doesn't see our sins but only how much He loves us.

Thank you and God Bless you. I'm feeling no pain today due to the wonders of modern anesthesia. I pray for any of you who may suffer affliction of body, mind or soul. Please keep a young woman who had an abortion in your prayers. She is feeling great remorse and shame. Those who directed her to have the abortion are probably in greater need of our prayers. My novena to St. Therese this month is for the doctor who performed the abortion that he may undergo a conversion or cease practicing altogether. No prayer to St. Therese is ever unheard or unanswered.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Tomorrow marks the Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas, which is also the 40th day after Christmas. Christmastide comes to an end and gives way to Lent which begins in just a few weeks. This feast marks several events - the presentation of the Christ Child, the purification of Mary, and the prophecies of Simeon. For this reason, the feast is seen as being somewhat bittersweet. Tomorrow we are invited to bring candles to church to be blessed so we can use them at home during prayer throughout the year. It is also when we hear the Nunc Dimitis, the Gospel Canticle of Simeon that is prayed nightly at Compline.

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.

Breaking Free of Our Own Demons

Today's Gospel according to St. Mark has a demoniac tortured by a legion of demons encountering Jesus. According to this Gospel account, the man is so possessed that he cannot be contained by any chains or shackles as he breaks them all. What I find so astounding about this Gospel is that the demoniac is drawn to Jesus, even offering Him homage by prostrating himself before the Lord. The Lord, moved with pity, drives the legion of demons out of the man and sends him back to his family in testament to the Lord's mercy and goodness.

Maybe we aren't running around foaming at the mouth or injuring ourselves literally, but whether we will admit it or not, some of us, myself included, have our own demons to exorcise. For myself, I'm ashamed to admit, it was an attachmnet to a not very nice word. Although I didn't use it at home or in polite company, it came out of my mouth all too easily at work. (It's nearly impossible to work in the military or the operating room without hearing some salty language every now and then). I prayed very hard for the strength to resist the use of this word. This month marks a yaer of my freedom from this shackle. It is only through the grace of God and the intercession of the Blessed Mother that I've overcome this demon. And when people use such language in my presence, I let them know that I'm doing my best not to and they can help me by refraining from its use in my presence.

The one thing that always fascinates me is how attacks never stop, no matter how holy I think I have become. The less we expose ourselves to that which is not holy, the less likely we will be to give evil a portal through which to enter. By seeking union with Christ and grower closer to Him through the sacraments, we leave little room for that which is unholy to overtake us. It may not be as dramatic as a demoniac injuring himself against the rocks. but the damage to our souls is real just the same.