Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spy Wednesday

Is there any worse feeling than entrusting someone with all that is dear and precious to you, only to have them betray you? How many of us would invest ourselves in such a person if we knew the day would come when they would sell us for 30 pieces of silver? For me, this is one of the great mysteries of this awesome week, the unconditional love even in the face of betrayal and death.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sometimes, it pays to be the Boss

The alarm clock that I've had for at least 30 years decided to die in the middle of the night. Usually, I'm already at Mass by the time the kids are getting up for school, so when I awoke to hearing my husband call them down to breakfast, I knew something was wrong. I can't remember the last time I overslept, and what an inauspicious start to Holy Week. I had to be at x-ray rounds at 8am, so no chance of making it to Mass before work, and some catastrophe always happens on a Monday to ensure I can't get there at lunchtime. So I decided, because I'm the boss, I was calling it an early day. When people ask me why I do the job I do, which is a job no one else wants and which went unfilled for six months the last time I got fed up and left, it's days like this which are the reason. It's why I put up with surgeons, some of whom I like and others I can only describe as an early Purgatory. So I can go to daily Mass. If you've never known surgeons or worked in the operating room, imagine a daycare for highly skilled, highly intelligent children who need to be told "no!" a hundred times a day, and it's still not enough. OK, so not all of them are that bad. But enough of them. Someday, perhaps, someone will come along who is better at saying "no, because I said so!" than I am, but until then, I'll stay put. I have the better end of the deal, because it's the one job where people are so happy to have me show up at all, they usually don't care what time that is.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail

As we enter the most solemn week on the Church calendar, the mainstream media is swarming around the Pope, His Holiness Benedict XVI, like sharks who think they smell blood. The Holy Father needs our prayers now more than ever, and what's more, so do our priests, of whom we do not have enough and for whom we should thank Almighty God every day of our lives. Whatever happened in the past, it has nothing to do with good and holy priests who strive every day to bring us the Gospel, the Eucharist and other sacraments and who have a hard enough job without the constant drumming of those intent on the destruction of the Church.

Let's make sure, going into Holy Week, that we not only pray for our priests but that we also let them know how much we support them, how much we need them and how much we love them for the sacrifice they make for us and for the love they have for Jesus Christ carried out in their priestly duties.

Prayer for Priests

Keep them; I pray Thee, dearest Lord.

Keep them, for they are Thine

The priests whose lives burn out before

Thy consecrated shrine.

Keep them, for they are in the world,

Though from the world apart.

When earthly pleasures tempt, allure –

Shelter them in Thy heart.

Keep them and comfort them in hours

Of loneliness and pain,

When all their life of sacrifice

For souls seems but in vain.

Keep them and remember, Lord,

they have no one but Thee.

Yet, they have only human hearts,

With human frailty.

Keep them as spotless as the Host,

That daily they caress;

Their every thought and word and deed,

Deign, dearest Lord, to bless

- by the late John J Cardinal Carberry

Friday, March 26, 2010

Concert of Sacred Music

No post today except an excerpt from last night's Concert of Sacred Music to celebrate the Year of the Priest. I unfortunately missed it but it's nice to be able to see this small bit. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rolling Back the Stone

At tonight's anticipated Vigil Mass, the Gospel was about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead when he'd already been in the tomb four days. Martha warns Him "already there is a stench." I started thinking tonight that perhaps those words do more than serve to illustrate the seemingly impossible - raising a corpse from the dead. Perhaps they are also meant to reassure us that no matter how badly we've allowed our souls to decay, anything is possible through the mercy of God. Jesus will go wherever we are to find us and call us into the light, even in the most unthinkable places.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is It Me?

I can't tell you how many times a day I pray: "Dear Lord, grant me the strength to deal with this person who is driving me insane!" I can't tell you how many times I've prayed that prayer in church. Today was a good example.

I sat down to pray the Rosary before Mass began and after a few minutes, I started hearing someone whisper their prayers out loud behind me. With very little sleep on board, I just couldn't do it today. I am very sensitive to sound and noise, to the point where I don't wonder where my autistic son got this same sensitivity! I got up with the pretext of checking out the line for confession and when I returned, I sat somewhere else. Not such a good idea.

Not long after I found my new seat, a couple sat down directly behind me and continued to talk out loud. It grew to the point where I had to turn around and look at them. The Eucharist was exposed as their conversation was taking place and once again, I struggled with the fact that this disrespect was only part of why I found this so offensive. Even when Mass began, the chatter continued. Not long after the homily began, a cell phone went off and its owner made no effort to silence it. The ringtone was some annoying rap tune. And then it went off during the Consecration and I thought I was going to lose my mind and my temper.

Why is it so difficult for people to be quiet in church? How will we ever hear what Our Lord is saying if we don't have the silence necessary to hear Him, and not just exteriorly? Chances are if someone is causing others to be distracted by incessant chatter, fiddling with plastic bags or a cell phone, they themselves lack interior as well as exterior silence.

One thing I have learned is that if someone is hard of hearing, they really have no concept of how loud they may be talking. Usually these are elderly folks, so even if they annoy me, they get a pass. The other thing I try to remember is that people don't set out to go to Mass to be annoying to others, and since their intentions are good, I must learn some patience. But there is no excuse whatsoever for cell phones to ring or be answered in church. People make mistakes, but twice in the same Mass is beyond the pale. Am I wrong?

I promise not to complain about this topic again but be forewarned: my next rant will be people who don't allow the priest to lead the prayers and pray louder and faster than Father does.

St. Joseph

Any time you are struggling to make sense of God's plan for you, think of St. Joseph and the challenges he faced. It was his enduring faith and trust in God that enabled him to see God's plan for him brought to fulfillment. How fitting that such a man would be chosen as the chaste spouse of the Mother of God, as both of them had the faith required to obey without question.

Every morning that I'm privileged to receive Holy Communion, I ask St. Joseph to pray for us. Remember that he is a most powerful intercessor. As one of the popes (forget who) pointed out, if our Lord obeyed him on earth, surely He will obey him in Heaven and answer our petitions if they be for our own good.

When I think of St. Joseph, I think of my own father, who is the sort of person commonly referred to as "the salt of the earth" - a very humble man with simple needs and interests. I know that he often looks to St. Joseph for guidance and it's a good example for me to follow.

On a more frivolous note, I am reminded that I forgot to get St. Joseph cakes for my mother. She looks forward to enjoying this special treat on his feast day every year, and even though zeppoli are availabe year-round, she wouldn't feel right eating them any time but now. And I wouldn't feel right not seeing to it that she has her special treat, so I'm off to the bakery to get some!

Happy Feast Day!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Great Debate

To be clear, I do not and will not support health care reform that includes funding for abortion. But with that said, if this current bill is defeated, something MUST be done about the thousands of people who cannot afford health insurance. To my mind and to my conscience, I do not see how it is pro-life to consider adequate health care a privilege and not a right. Some opponents of the bill have flippantly suggested that the uninsured seek care in emergency rooms, which are already badly overcrowded and understaffed. Is this compassion?

What about children born with birth defects who grow to be adults and then can't get coverage because of pre-existing condition clauses. You know, if the insurance companies were losing money, I could perhaps understand why they'd need to be prudent about covering everyone and anyone but the fact is that they are raking in record profits. I find this obscene.

So dear Catholics, if this bill is defeated and our bishops have urged us to voice our opposition so long as abortion can be funded, will we get another bill that we can live with, or will health care reform go back on the dust heap for another decade or so?

My first job after I became a nurse was in a medical/respiratory ICU that is renowned throughout the city for caring for some of the most critically ill patients.
Often times, I was required to care for prisoners who had become sick in prison and could only be cared for in an ICU like ours. With armed guards posted outside their rooms, we would provide the same care to them as we did any other patient. Many were intubated and on ventilators. When you have a sick and suffering human being in front of you, there is no time or place for making judgments. If prisoners, some of whom murdered people, could get compassionate care, shouldn't everyone? Homeless people were also among our clientele. Should we have allowed a man to suffocate to death because he didn't have insurance or even a job? Is this our idea of protecting life from the moment of conception until natural death?

I have not read the bill, and I trust that if the bishops have voiced concerns, that it should suffice. But the issue is too important to simply let die. Here are some simple reforms that can happen right now that everyone should be able to agree upon:

1. Get rid of the pre-existing condition clause
2. No caps on coverage (which is in and of itself a "death panel")
3. Allow competition between insurers across state lines to bring down costs
4. Demand that doctors police themselves along with tort reform measures so that malpractice is approached from both angles.

None of this should cost the taxpayers a dime. Abortion will not be an issue, and meaningful measures to address spiraling costs and limited access will be something nearly everyone with a conscience can agree on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I must admit - this is not a custom to which I gave a great deal of thought. That is, until I went to Mass at the Carmelite Monastery and saw many women wearing mantillas. At first, they did appear as anachronisms to me, but then I started thinking more and more about it. I'm old enough to remember when a woman wouldn't dare be seen in church without a covering on her head, whether with a hat, a mantilla or a chapel veil. I'm also old enough to remember what happened to girls who forgot their "doilies" at home. We wouldn't think of going into church without something on our heads, so the sisters improvised and bobby-pinned tissue to our heads. I won't say I was necessarily disappointed when it was no longer required for us to cover our heads and in hindsight, I can see why maybe I should have been.

When I was first introduced to the Traditional Latin Mass, I again saw many women wearing mantillas. I also started reading more about this custom, that some women never lost, along with refraining from eating meat on Fridays or receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. I also realized I had sitting in a closet upstairs a beautiful black lace mantilla from Andulusia. My husband had gotten it for his late mother, and one Christmas, not long before she passed away, she wrapped it up and gave it to me. I didn't know what to make of it at the time and said a polite thanks and then tucked it away. Now that I was thinking of making it to the TLM on a regular basis, I felt it was time to dig it out.

So, why veil? Some women do it to bear public witness to their Catholic faith. Others do it out of deference to St. Paul, and still others do it as an act of piety and respect to Jesus in the Eucharist. At first, I considered doing it so I wouldn't look out of place, and then I decided that wasn't a very good reason. So I went back and forth. Did it make sense to wear it to the TLM but not to the Novus Ordo? And as I suffer from extreme self-consciousness, could I pull it off without becoming distracted about it falling off, not sitting right, etc?

I decided to try a chapel veil first. I settled on a simple little black doily with a comb sewn into it so it stays on. The first time I wore it, it wasn't to the TLM but to Adoration. I forgot I had it on my head. Then I wore it to the TLM, but it seemed inadequate, and I felt more comfortable with a hat than a veil. A few weeks ago, I took the plunge and decided to give the mantilla a try, tho not the Andulusian lace because it is very fancy and could cause someone sitting behind me to become distracted. I chose a simple brown lace veil that I ordered from a woman who homeschools and sews veils to help her family. It was a bit of a challenge putting it on in the vestibule with no mirror but I was resolved to put it on my head and forget about it, extreme self-consciousness or not! I thought it might be a nice added practice for Lent.

Now, I'm thinking that I should make a habit of doing this all the time, maybe not always with a mantilla but with a hat or even the little chapel veil. It's a small sacrifice to make, it gives me an opportunity to squelch my vanity, and practically speaking, it helps minimize distractions.

So, if you think you might want to give this a try, let me know. Can we ever have too much reverence around Jesus in the Eucharist? When so many people are intent on tearing our faith down, this small symbolic gesture just might go a long way in reversing that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Apologetics 101

Any time the Church exerts Her authority on a moral issue that can be in the least way construed as discriminatory, someone will offer the canard that Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors. Indeed He did, but after their encounter with Christ, the sinners underwent conversion, they did not continue their sinful ways, and this is what we need to remind the critics. The Church invites everyone to encounter the same Christ, who forgave the most wretched creatures in society, so that they too can be transformed in His love. At the same time, the Church has a responsibility to speak out against evils that will imperil us to eternal damnation. Sometimes it's uncomfortable to talk about these evils for the risk of offending someone. To paraphrase a priest blogger, we can be sure Hell will be very, very offensive. True Christian charity compels the Church to speak out against evils despite what public opinion demands.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Forty Hours Devotion at St Paul's

This Sunday at the conclusion of the Traditional Latin Mass at Noon, St. Paul's will begin their annual Forty Hours Devotion with Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The celebrant for Sunday's Mass is Father Ronald Check of St. Monica's parish and Father Check will also be the homilist for each of the three nights of Evening Prayer and Benediction at St Paul's at 7 pm Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings. Tuesday evening's service will conclude with a Eucharistic Procession and many priests will be at St. Paul's to participate.

Father Check is a humble servant of God who is overflowing with love and reverence for Jesus in the Eucharist. Father has truly been blessed by God with the ability to speak to our hearts and open them completely to the Holy Trinity and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from him but most importantly, to spend some quiet time with Jesus and to deepen your Lenten devotions with one of the Church's most beautiful traditions.

St. Paul's is located on Christian Street between 9th and 10th and there is parking available in the schoolyard directly across from the church. Please spread the word!

St. Joseph

In this month of March when we honor St. Joseph, the foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, remember that we have in this humble servant of God an intercessor in Heaven and a model of Christian life here on earth. How many times was the path God asked St. Joseph to follow obstructed with obstacles yet he never lost faith. I do not remember to whom to credit this thought, but I once read the words of one of our popes that when we are in dire need, we should think to ask St. Joseph for help because Our Lord obeyed him on earth and will continue to do as he asks if what we pray for is compatible with God's will and for our salvation. Here is a little prayer to St. Joseph, courtesy of Father S:

Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We Wish to See Jesus

This was the theme of the homily given by the priest at Mass this afternoon. Four simple words but Father said they have guided his entire Lent. Why else do we do what we do at Lent, or any other time of year for that matter? Because we want to see Jesus!

Until that day, we have the Eucharist so that we know we have His presence here on earth. And when we contemplate His passion, we do what we do not only for our own gain ( as everything we do for Christ will benefit us in the end ) but in reparation for the cruelty that put Him on that cross and continues to wound His Sacred Heart with blasphemies, insults and lies.

Last year, Father Ronald Check was the retreat master at a Lenten silent retreat at the Carmelite Monastery, and he talked about some of the visions that Blessed Catherine Emmerich had concerning the Passion and Death of Our Lord. One phrase that really stuck with me was the vision Blessed Catherine had of Our Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross - "her eyes rivited on the dying countenance of her Son." This lead me to read about her visions and I had the same feeling that I get when I read about the terrible torture of an innocent victim of crime. It gets to the point where I have to put the paper down because I can't bear to think of anyone suffering so. And that's how it was reading these visions of the Passion. And every year at Lent, I come to the awful realization that it wasn't just the executioners who put Jesus on the cross, but every sin I commit and will commit in my life. What will I do to repay so great a Friend that He laid down His life for me?

I wish to see Jesus. And so I must now see Him in everyone I meet, no matter how repulsive or obnoxious I find them to be. And I must see Him in every person rejected or marginalized by society and I must do this not out of love for myself but out of the desire to make reparation to Him. While it's not possible to ever repay Him in kind, He does not expect this of us. Still, imagine the consolation it will bring to do what He asks with no expectation of Him at all.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Prodigal Son

Today's Gospel is one that assures us of the infinite love and mercy of God. During this time of Lent, when we especially pray for our estranged brothers and sisters to return to the Church, let's remind those who we are trying to persuade to return the Church of this beautiful Gospel. God is so loving and generous to us that He sees not a wicked and sinful people but the children He dearly loves. He will not lecture us, or withhold His graces from us in a measure commensurate with our sins. Everyone is a child of God and no matter what we've done or how long we've been away, the welcome remains the same, for all of us.

Keep plugging away at those wayward Catholics who think they've been away so long that it's too late to come back. Maybe you can't convince them to go to Mass. Ask them to go to Stations of the Cross with you, or invite them to Forty Hours Devotion. Last night, a young man who has been away from the sacraments came to Stations at the behest of his parents. The next thing you know, he was in the confessional seeking reconciliation with God. Never give up on those to whom much was given and much is being squandered. It's never too late and our task to convince those around us of this truth never ends.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


When I was a child and would lament the passing of the Christmas season, my mother would always tell me that Christmas was something you kept in your heart all year long. Her words came to me while I was leaving Mass this morning and saw the increased number of people in the pews behind me. Wouldn't it be something if all those who made an effort to get to weekday Mass during Lent would keep up the practice year-round? And wouldn't it be something if I kept up all the little things I try to do during Lent year-round? Can you imagine how holy we might finally become if we kept Lent in our hearts year-long, and how much closer to Christ we would be drawn?