Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Lovely Thought

The following was sent to me by a friend who works for a Catholic hospital and sends out a daily reflection via email. Enjoy.

" So Eli told Samuel, 'Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' So Samuel went and lay down in his place. " 1 Samuel 3:9

It would be nice if God's voice broke into our consciousness loudly like a great bell announcing an event worth our attention. But it doesn't. God is constantly speaking to us. We must be quiet so we may hear it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Traditional Latin Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

On June 16th, Father Gerald P. Carey will be the celebrant for the Traditional Latin Mass in honor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. This will take place at 7:30pm at the Carmelite Monastery at Old York Road and 66th Avenue. Last year, the little chapel was crammed with the faithful to the extent that many were forced to stand outside. So if you want a seat inside, be sure to get there early. It is advised that you arrive by 6pm.

At 6:30 pm the Rosary will be recited, followed by the Litany of Our Lady of Loreto, a concert of sacred music, and finally the Mass at 7:30pm. If you are unable to get to the Mass, you have another opportunity to visit the Monastery that day by coming to Solemn Vespers with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament at 4pm.

A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who visit a Carmel on the vigil of this feast up until 12 midnight, with the usual conditions of Mass, confession, and prayers for the Holy Father attached. The Monastery bookshop will be open after Vespers and again after the Mass and all proceeds support the Carmelite nuns.

The Novena to our Lady of Mt. Carmel begins at the Monastery on July 9th. I do not know who the celebrant is at this time but will post once I find out. The Vespers and Mass schedule are the same as I've posted above. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Monastery on 66th Avenue. Street parking is also available.

One word of caution for the frail or physically impaired. Due to the austere lifestyle of the nuns, the chapel is not air conditioned and this feast day always seems to fall on one of summer's most stifling days. The kneelers are wooden and unpadded and the pews are short and upright. There are benches in the rear of the chapel and on either side of the aisles as well as folding chairs at the end of each row of pews. These may be a better seating option for those unable to kneel or sit for long periods of time. The first time I visited this Monastery, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. That was until I had to kneel on the floor and I understood very well why I would never have made it as a Carmelite nun! But, penance is good for the soul and good for the souls in Purgatory for whom we can offer it, so if you're physically able, please be sure to get to Vespers and/or Mass at this beautiful chapel, the Holy Spirit Chapel, at least once.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Nostalgia

When I was a child, our entire family got together for dinner every Sunday at the home of my paternal grandparents. Aunts, uncles, sibling, cousins, all gathered in their tiny rowhouse in South Philadelphia. Dinner was served promptly at 1pm. We kids ate a separate table in the kitchen while the adults sat in the dining room. We were always served first, and then after seeing to our needs, the adults served themselves. My grandmother rose very early on Sunday mornings to roll out the dough for her pasta and make her meatballs and braciole. To this day, I have never been able to replicate the simple dressing she used on her salad.

In the summer, once dinner was over and the dishes were washed and put away (my job was always to dry them) we'd pile into our cars and head out for a Sunday drive, sometimes out to the Parkway, occasionally to Longwood Gardens, and as a special surprise, once a year we'd go to a now-defunct carnival on the Baltimore Pike. A jaunt to a local Howard Johnson's for pistachio ice cream stands out in my mind for no reason in particular. After letting their jalopies exercise their legs, the drivers would return to our grandparents' house for another meal. Around 6pm my grandmother would lay out a spread a cold cuts, roasted peppers, olives and Italian bread. A sandwich never tasted so good as it did on those Sunday evenings. The adults would tell jokes and stories that we barely got. Then we'd congregate in the living room and watch Lassie and the Ed Sullivam show and then head home to get ready for the coming week at school and at work.

I have been feeling a certain nostalgia for those days lately. Perhaps because my own children are reaching the age where our Sundays together don't mean nearly as much to them as being with their friends. So, in homage to my late grandparents, today we're having dinner a little earlier than usual. (To have dinner at 1pm is not possible since the Traditional Latin Mass at our parish doesn't start until Noon). Still, I got most of the dinner together before I left for Mass, and shortly, we'll sit down together for a meal of chicken barbecue, corn on the cob, roasted beets, potatoes and carrots and a salad. Then we're going to pile into the car and head otu to the Creamery in Chester Springs for some ice cream.

My husband and I had a good laugh in the kitchen as he helped me get the grill ready for the chicken. He clearly recalls long Sunday rides and his father turning around to slap which ever of the six of them got out of line while never taking his eyes off the road. Ah, the good old days.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Infinite Value of Each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Today, I give you a letter that our pastor reprinted in our Sunday bulletin. The author says everything that needs to be said. Reprint and pass it on, especially to those you know are away from the church or who perhaps fulfill their minimal obligation begrudgingly.

by Virginia G. Manzo, MD
The Catholic Mass is the center of our interior life. We encounter a
wealth of infinite value every day at Holy Mass where, before the
astonished gaze of the angels themselves, heaven seems to come
down to earth. In this sacrifice, we are closely united with Christ.
The Mass is a memorial of our Lord. "Do this in remembrance of
Me," he said. In the Mass, Jesus continues through time that
offering of himself in Calvary, applying now to our souls the
merits he gained for us in Golgotha.
The Catholic Mass is the renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary in
which the sacrifice of the Cross is rendered sacramentally present.
This means that the priest performing each Catholic Mass represents,
that is to say, makes present once again, in a mysterious
manner, the same sacrifice of Christ offered in Calvary. It is a
renewal of the one redeeming sacrifice, Christ's offering to His
heavenly Father; the only difference being that, at Mass, this is
carried out in a bloodless manner.
In the Catholic Mass, we accompany Jesus to Calvary and witness
His death; in Holy Communion, he nourishes us with His Divine
Flesh. It is as if the twenty centuries separating us from Calvary
have disappeared. How is this possible? With man it is impossible,
but with God nothing is impossible. Time is a condition proper to
man as a wayfarer on earth. Neither God nor eternal life is subject
to this limitation. In the Holy Mass, time and space in some way
''merge '' and the drama of Calvary happens in a living way in
every celebration. It is not that Christ dies repeatedly in each Mass
because he died only once but his death on Calvary is re-presented
in every Mass so that we continue to benefit from the inexhaustible
fruits of his redemption. In partaking of this Holy Feast, God is not
only with us but in us.
The Holy Mass is the greatest treasure of our Christian life. It is
the center and source of the spiritual life of a Christian. But what
gives the Holy Mass an even greater value is that Jesus Christ
himself comes down to the altar at the moment of Consecration to
be with us, not only spiritually but physically, that is, body and
soul, in the fullness of his humanity and divinity. When we receive
him at Holy Communion, we are receiving his real body and blood
and we become living tabernacles of Christ.
What are the numerous saving effects of the Catholic Mass? The
Mass obtains sorrow and pardon for our sins; it lessens temporal
punishment due to sin; it weakens the influence of Satan and the
untamed impulses of our flesh; it strengthens the bonds of our
union with the Body of Christ; it protects us from danger and
disaster; it shortens punishment in purgatory and obtains for us a
higher degree of glory in Heaven. St. Lawrence Justinian adds:
"the sinner is reconciled with God; the just man becomes more
upright; sins wiped away; vices are eliminated and virtues and are
merits gain growth; the devil's schemes are frustrated."
And yet, with all its boundless benefits, how do we treat the Holy
Mass? Unfortunately, many Catholics treat the Holy Mass as a
purely external rite. Oftentimes it is regarded as a tedious duty
which has to be complied with every Sunday. St Josemaria Escriva
the founder of Opus Dei, once commented, ''You find the mass
long? It is because your love is short." The blessings granted to
those who assist at the Divine Sacrifice are beyond
comprehension. St. Leonard once exclaimed: “O, poor deceived
people, what are you doing? Why do you not crowd the churches
in order that you might attend as many masses as possible? Why
do you not take as models the angels who, whenever mass is being
celebrated, descend in legions from Paradise and kneel before the
altar in reverence that they may efficaciously intercede for us?”
What then should be our proper disposition toward the Holy Mass
in order not to waste the superabundant merits that we gain from
every celebration? How much we partake of these benefits depends
on the quality of our interior disposition. The proper disposition
can be summed up in one sentence: Consider that every Mass you
attend is your last one on this earth. Every one assisting at Mass
should therefore be devout, sincere, attentive, contrite, grateful,
and with a heartfelt love for the Lord. Remember that one single
Mass you assist during your lifetime is much more valuable than
many masses said or offered for you after your death.
Since every Catholic Mass is an invitation from the Lord himself
to partake in the Holy Banquet, we come punctually with great
anticipation, even ten to fifteen minutes early, to give us time to
recollect our thoughts. We must be properly attired in clothes that
are not necessarily expensive but clean and most of all, decent.
Tennis shorts are proper in a tennis court but immodest inside the
church. A tube top or a spaghetti-strapped blouse may not raise
eyebrows in a formal ball but are considered indecent and
disrespectful inside the house of God.
At the Consecration when the bread and wine are transformed into
the real flesh and blood of Jesus Christ through the miracle of
Transubstantiation, we remember that we are before the Real
Presence. In Holy Communion, we receive the Lord in the fullness
of his humanity and divinity. It is therefore sacrilegious to receive
him if we are not in the state of grace, meaning we have a mortal
sin. Mortal sins must first be absolved in the Sacrament of Penance
or Confession before we can receive the Lord. Venial sins are not
obstacles to receiving the Sacred Body of our Lord but a sincere
contrition must first be manifested before we can partake of the
Holy Banquet.
Remember that while the Sacred Host is still in the mouth and until
it has completely dissolved in the stomach (about 10 to 15 minutes
according to scientific studies), Our Lord is within us in his real
Body and Soul, as Living Man and God. During these few minutes
that he is with us, we take this precious opportunity talk to him as
we would talk to a friend, a brother or a father who loves us so
much and is willing to listen. That is why it is suggested that we do
not leave the church immediately after Mass but spend a few
minutes thanking and talking to our Lord. After the Sacred Host in
the form of bread has been dissolved inside us, his Body is no
longer physically with us but his grace remains.
Nothing else has any meaning if we neglect the Mass especially on
Sundays or holy days of obligation, or if it is left to be "fitted in'' at
some spare moment while the rest of the day is filled with things
which we reckon to be more important. If we frequently consider
the many beneficial effects of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist on
our soul, we will value receiving our Lord as often as we can, on a
daily basis, if possible.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

By Their Fruits Shall You Know Them

I often think about those who have little or no interest in their salvation and what their legacy will be. ( I am fully cognizant of the need for me to think about my own salvation, but still, it's hard not to be concerned about those who are away from the faith). What are the fruits of my labor? How well does my daily life adhere to the Gospel? Do I reflect Christ in all of my activities and encounters? Does the way I earn my living contradict in any way the teachings of the Church? Is the way I spend my free time indicative of someone who trusts in Jesus and desires union with Him? What is my effect on those around me? Do I abdicate my faith to fit in, or do I make every effort to be a suitable representative of Christ? Do I bring the level of discourse in others to a higher level, or do I allow myself to be dragged down?

A splitting headache caused me to reach over and turn off the alarm this morning instead of going to morning Mass. Even though the headache persisted, by noon I was longing to spend some time in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, so I left work and headed over to Old St. Joe's. I was lamenting how little time I've spent lately in Adoration or simple prayer. It seems like it's been more than a month since I offered a novena to St. Therese, and human weakness kicks in with excuses. I am reminded that I am called to a different life, one of prayer and sacrifice amid the activities of daily living. Do I want my fruits to be those of laziness and sloth? Certainly not. Nor do I want those around me to be sick and diseased trees producing sub-par fruit. Neither do you. How will we help those who are not producing good fruit? By wearing our faith on our sleeves, we can have an unbelievable effect on those around us.

About a year ago, I took to wearing a little pin of St. Therese on my ID badge. It's a great conversation starter. One of the heathen doctors I work with stopped me one day and asked me the significance of the medal, so I gave him a copy of Story of a Soul. I noticed it on the shelf in his office recently. Now if you wanted to prune a diseased tree to help it grow good fruit, could you ask for a better gardener than St. Therese? Last week this same doctor made a comment to me about praying on a particular issue. I nearly fell over, but I shouldn't have. Never underestimate the power of the Little Flower, or your own ability to get someone tangled in her little web of victims of merciful love.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Sadly, there are many children who grow up today with no father in the home. Some may not even know their fathers at all. A father is a vital and necessary part of every family. Look no further than the example of God the Father choosing St. Joseph to be Jesus' foster-father on earth to realize how true that is. Let us ask St. Jospeh to pray for all fathers - that those who have embraced their role as the paternal head of the family will raise their children in accordance with God's will, and that those who have abdicated their responsibilities will realize the gift God has bestowed on them and turn to Him for strength to do what is expected of them.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also

St. Matthew Chapter 6 is probably my favorite of all the Gospels. Our Lord speaks very clearly to us about how we should pray to our Heavenly Father, what we should hold dear and how we should conduct ourselves in accordance with His will. I was thinking about my own children today and relating how I raised them to this Gospel. They are my most precious treasure given to me by the grace of God. The greatest responsibility I have is seeing to it that they remain faithful and live in a state of grace. The best way I can accomplish this is to live as I want them to live and allow them to see my example. Only with God's help can I do this.

When the oldest learned to walk and talk, it was a great source of amusement to watch her imitate everything we did. She would copy the calisthenics my husband did each morning, and she would bring a book to the breakfast table to "read" in imitation of Daddy absorbed in his morning paper.

The youngest has had some physical challenges with which she has coped very well. I remember the time before she was diagnosed with Marfan's Syndrome as a very painful yet beautiful time in my life. I never lost sight of the fact that God gave her to me and He could take her from me any time He pleased. Still, I was hopeful that whatever ailed her would be something we could manage and you know what? It is. She has remarkable patience and has taught me so much about how to handle disappointment. She is kind to everyone she meets, has a very creative sense of mischief, and she accepts life as it comes. When she was a baby, she would beg us to take her to church and she especially loved visiting the grotto of saints at St. Rita's.

On Wednesday, she graduated from 8th grade. She didn't light the world on fire academically but she did well enough to get into the school of her choice. What makes me most proud of her is her faith and reverence. Despite the fact that she is not allowed to play most sports, she is a bit of a tomboy. It took some coaxing to get her to wear a dress anywhere, let alone church. But when I started taking her to the Traditional Latin Mass, she realized there are times we should make a sacrifice of our own comfort to show our love for Jesus in the Eucharist and she decided, on her own, that she needed a long skirt and a pair of flat dress shoes for church on Sunday. And to my absolute delight, she now prefers the TLM over the Saturday evening vigil Mass.

Every so often, I entertain the notion that she might one day decide to dedicate her life to Jesus as a religious sister. The seed has been planted and the rest is up to God. Physically, I don't know that she could withstand the austere lifestyle of the Carmelite but there are other cloistered traditional orders whose rule would not exacerbate her condition. I think of Zelle and Louis Martin giving all five of their living daughters back to God and I can only hope to be so privileged.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hyundai Removes Offensive and Blasphemous Ad

On Saturday, when I couldn't bear watching the Phillies get mauled by the Red Sox for another minute, I tuned in to the soccer game. I was a bit distracted and not paying attention when the sound of Latin caught my attention. I looked up just in time to watch a blasphemous ad from Hyundai. Apparently, there really is a Church of Maradona in Argentina and some people, not only in Argentina, have raised the obsession with sports to the level of idolatry. Still, the ad appeared to me to be a mockery of the Mass and I hauled off a quick email to Hyundai asking them to please remove the ad. Apparently, so did many other thousands of Catholics and on Monday, I received an email from Hyundai apologizing for the ad with the assurance that it would be removed from the airways. I quickly sent another email to thank Hyundai for recognizing the error of their ways and making things right by removing the offensive ad.

I might add that I did not see that it was necessary to drag Muslims, Jews, or any other faith into my argument against the ad, as some other people apparently felt the need to do. The lesson here is that if enough people speak up and do so in a rational manner without needlessly insulting other groups of people, it's possible to see a wrong be quickly righted.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Year of the Priest

As this year comes to a close, let us continue to pray for our priests and seminarians and, for all those young men who have received the call, that they will willingly discern a vocation to the priesthood.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Who would dare to knowingly wound this Heart? Upon realizing the infinite love, mercy and compassion emanating from this Heart, how could I choose to offend it again? As St. Teresa of Avila once said, the only fear we should have in this life is separation from Him. On this day, let us pray that all who know Him may remain steadfast in their faith, may those who don't know Him be open to His advances and may all those who have grown apart from Him realize the enormity of their loss and return to the fold. The Gospel of St. Luke for this day reminds us that in Heaven, there is more rejoicing over one lost sinner who repents and returns to the Lord than for "99 righteous souls with no need for repentance." Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning with love for me, inflame my heart with love for You!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Corpus Christi

Today, in many churches, The Body of Christ is honored and adored in a particular way that speaks to the world of the faith we as Catholics have in the Real Presence under the guise of bread and wine. I sometimes ponder what nonbelievers must think when they see a Eucharistic procession pass through the city streets. I can only hope they stop to consider why such care and reverence is paid to the Host being lovingly carried in the Monstrance by the priest. Our Eucharistic King waits for us in the tabernacle and He is too often neglected and ignored. If He sat waiting in all His might and glory, who could approach Him? Just as He was born into abject poverty and came among us a baby, Jesus remains with us in the simplicity of the consecrated bread.

Many times when I am sitting in Adoration, I will observe someone come in to the particular chapel where I happen to be who will walk right up to the altar and pause as if they have something they are burning to say. How many friends do you have who are simply there waiting for you anytime you need to share your day with them or seek them out for consolation when things aren't going your way? How many friends sit and wait for you day and night, as St. Therese said, "a prisoner of love" in the tabernacle? How many so-called great and mighty figures would allow you to come within feet of them and complain to them when things aren't going your way and beg for their help?

In the humility of our God lies His unsurpassed power. And when we imitate this humility, we achieve union with Him. Nonetheless, despite His overwhelming humility and generosity in remaining with us in the Eucharist, He is deserving of all our love and attention, at every moment. Maybe you can't get to Mass every day. That's understandable when so many of us have to work and have other obligations. Maybe what you can do is stop and pause once a day and consider that somewhere in the world, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered. Consider the words of St. Therese on the Eucharist. "Every day, Jesus transforms a white particle into Himself. With a love that's greater still, He wants to transform you." Let's do our part to help the less enlightened realize the precious gift we have in the Eucharist.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Around the Archdiocese

The Visitation Nuns at 5820 City Ave. (Between 59thStreet and Cardinal Avenue),cordially invite you to their annual Sacred Heart Novena of Masses at 7:30 pm from Thursday, June 3rd through Friday, June 11th, 2010, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Rev. Nicholas Waselin,OFFS, will conduct the novena. Since it was a Visitation Nun, St. Margaret Mary Alaoque, who received the Great Revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,Visitation Nuns throughout the world honor the Heart of Christ in a special manner, particularly by an annual public novena.

St. Paul Parish at 10th and Christian Streets Philadelphia will offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Sunday, June 6th at 12 Noon, followed by a Eucharistic Procession in the streets outside church, with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament immediate after the procession. If you haven't been to a Traditional Latin Mass, won't you consider coming this Sunday to experience what has been described as the closest thing to Heaven on earth?

St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church at 9th and Watkins Street will hold its annual Corpus Christi Procession following the 11am Mass. The Most Blessed Sacrament will be carried through the streets of South Philadelphia in a Eucharistic Procession which will end with Benediction at Epiphany of Our Lord Church at 11th and Jackson Streets. Several stops will be made along the way for Benediction and prayers as well. This is a beautiful way to give witness to our faith and make known our dedication to the Eucharist, which is the Source and Summit of Life in the Catholic Church.