Thursday, September 30, 2010

Now More Than Ever

It seems that the world has spun completely out of control. I sat down with a snack after work today and opened the paper, only to be sickened by what I read. A college student takes his life by leaping off a bridge because a roommate covertly taped him in a sex act with another man and then posted the video on the internet. A Villanova student is dead and his companion in critical condition after their Jetta was plowed into by a stolen Range Rover traveling at over 100 mph on a suburban road. An abortion doctor who maimed an 18-year-old woman when he dilated her cervix in one state, transported her to Maryland then and extracted her dead baby is arguing to keep his New Jersey medical license. He claims what he did is consistent with standards of "care". After that, I had to stop reading.

So little regard for human life, on so many levels.

If this stuff doesn't convince you to pray the Rosary every day and make some kind of sacrifice for the conversion of sinners, I don't know what will. As we head into October, please? Let's do whatever we can to promote the Rosary, to call sinners back into the fold and to intercede for those who seem to have fallen so far away. But we should also remember, as we read these heinous things, that there is no offense greater than God's mercy. While we mourn the dead and the injured, we should pray and make some kind of reparation for the actions of those who think so little of human life that they engaged in the crimes listed above. The dead are in God's hands, one way or another. The people responsible for their deaths still have an opportunity to see the light and make a u-turn. Yes, they must be punished for their actions, and the tragedy with the first two crimes is that the young people who committed them have not only taken innocent lives but have also ruined their own lives as well as those of their families. But with God, it's never too late. The vineyard workers who showed up at 5pm were paid the same wages as those who worked from 9am.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Feast of the Archangels

Almighty God, grant that your angels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and the whole heavenly host may protect us in this life and after death, lead us into your Divine Presence. Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

And now for something really weird

If you've been over to the outstanding blog, Clerical Reform lately, you've seen the outstanding series Father S. has been running on Spiritual Phenomena. Sometimes I think we have two extremes when it comes to this topic. We have the skeptics that deny there is a devil and then we have those who get carried away and assign demonic possession to any quirky behavior or event. Suffice it to say, I take this stuff seriously, but I'm not given to exaggerations or letting an imagination run wild.

Anyway, I took Rebecca for her tennis lesson today and because the Drive was jammed with crew teams and other athletes, I decided not to go for a walk but to pay Jesus a visit at the Convent of Divine Love. I learned that if I sit up front, I'm less likely to be distracted by a man who likes to pray out loud. Not long after I sat down, someone came in and sat nearly directly behind me. At first I thought it was sweet, if not distracting, that they seemed to be praying out loud for God to bless everyone they knew. But then I started to hear something disturbing. The person would mention someone's name, and then say "that b - - - -" and go on to ask God to bless that person. If I had heard this in any other setting, I might have found it somewhat amusing. When the person completed the litany, they let out a few growling noises, and then left. Honestly, I don't know what to make of it.

Some people really are crazy and there is nothing nefarious about their behavior. I'm not sure where to put this individual's behavior but it was certainly one of the stranger things I've come across.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

St. Matthew

It's funny how God works in our lives sometimes. At Noon Mass, two people who I have been known to let annoy me were working overtime, chatting out loud in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, playing with their cell phones and debating which one of them would do the readings. It struck me that neither of them are playing with a full deck and when it comes to charity, I am seriously lacking in this virtue. I tuned them out and tried to pray. Just before Mass began, she leaned over to him and told him he could do the reading. You would have thought she gave him a million dollars by his reaction. The more I observed, the less worthy I felt to be receiving Holy Communion. Who knows where these two were on the road to salvation and how far they've come? Certainly not me. I have no ability to look into someone's heart and see what God does, so why do I persist in trying?

Father gave an outstanding sermon on St. Matthew, the tax collector turned disciple/evangelist. "Consider," Father began, "that Matthew was already questioning what he did for a living when Jesus called him to follow him. And consider that Jesus knew this, and it was one of the reasons He chose Matthew." This sermon was rather timely as I am struggling with my own occupation and wondering why I do what I do. We help patients regain their mobility, but it's hard sometimes to see the good in what we do when there is so much other negativity and greed around us. I go home more and more with less and less of me to give my family. I don't believe this is God's plan for me.

Last Friday, I got a call out of the blue about a possible job opportunity. It would be a piece of cake compared to what I do now. I felt like someone literally dropped a "good measure" down from Heaven, into my lap. Please keep me in your prayers that if this situation would be more pleasing to God and in accordance with His will, that He will allow this to happen.

And FYI, I wondered if maybe St. Matthew annoyed those around him like the couple I mentioned at Mass today. God chooses the weak things for His greatest accomplishments that "no flesh may glory in His sight." The sooner that sinks in, the holier I can be.

When Life Deals You Carrots....???

Carrots have always had a place in our refrigerator. My husband and my oldest daughter love to snack on them, and years ago, when Caitlin was still riding horses, we should have rented an acre somewhere just to grow enough carrots to satisfy every craving for this favorite equine treat. Somehow this week, I have found myself with more organic carrots than I knew what to do with. Another carrot/potato/beet casserole and they're going to revolt. What to do with the bunches and bunches of organic carrots we have amassed?

For one thing, I made turkey soup with the leftover carcass from last night. The soup had a beautiful golden color thanks to the dozen carrots ground up in the soup. But I still had a couple pounds staring at me on the counter-top. "What's to become of us?" they asked.

Carrot halwa, that's what, a delicious, somewhat healthy Indian dessert that is a staple at weddings and other special celebrations. I was in the middle of doing some school work when the urge to concoct something hit me, so I didn't bother digging out my cookbook. I chose to work from memory and according to taste. I shredded the carrots in the KitchenAid chopper, added them to some melting butter in the saucepan, stirred them about until the butter dissipated, and then added some skim milk and a little bit of turbinado (raw cane sugar). I brought the mixture to the boil, let it thicken and become a nice golden color, and then set it aside for dessert. Ideally the carrots should be grated, but who had time for that today? My carrots were chopped to a fine consistency. Think Cream of Wheat with plenty of milk and sugar absorbed and you have an idea how it came out. Some chefs suggest "sandwiching" some fine vanilla ice-cream between two servings of halwa. That would have been a little too caloric.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

The Carmelite Monastery will hold the annual Triduum to St. Therese commencing September 29th with the Feast of the Archangels and concluding on October 1st on St. Therese's feast day. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Solemn Vespers with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament at 4pm;6:30pm, recitation of the most Holy Rosary followed by the Litany to St. Therese, sacred music, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 7:30pm. The relic of St. Therese will be available for veneration following Mass on her feast day. The Avila Bookstore will be open after Vespers and Holy Mass and offers a comprehensive selection of Catholic literature, gifts and sacramentals.

The Carmelite Monastery is located at 66th Avenue and Old York Road in Philadelphia. There is ample on-street parking as well as parking in the lot adjacent to the Monastery on 66th Avenue.

On Sunday October 3rd St. Paul Church at 10th and Christian will celebrate the External Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary with the Traditional Latin Mass at 12 Noon. Following Mass, the Rosary will be chanted in procession throughout the neighborhood surrounding St. Paul's Church. If you've never been to a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, why not make October 3rd your first time? You'll have an opportunity to bear public witness to your faith in a manner most pleasing to Our Mother in Heaven. And you'll see why Father Faber called this Mass "the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven".

In the sight of the angels, we'll praise Your Name o Lord

UPDATE: The priest celebrant for the Triduum to St. Therese will be Father Phillip Forlano

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dare to Complain After Seeing This

A few days ago, Father Z posted this on his blog. The image of this child has haunted me ever since. I decided I'm printing this photo, taking it to work and hanging it on my office door with the following message:

If you are here to complain about something, please look at this child and ask yourself if your problem compares to hers. If it does, enter. If it does not, go count your blessings.

All day long, I listen to the most inane whining and moaning.

"My next patient isn't here yet"

"My lunch relief didn't show up yet"

"It took too long for the staff to turn over my room"

Then you see a photo like this, and you want to slap them all silly for daring to complain about having what is, in reality, more than they deserve. God have mercy on us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Last night the not-so-little Miss and I assisted at a beautiful Mass in honor of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. As Father Corapi likes to say, there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. The cross is the sign of our redemption. The Church, in her wisdom, follows this feast by recognizing the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who stood at the foot of the cross until her Divine Son breathed His last. We adults know how we get if one of our children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews falls down and skins a knee. When a little one comes home crying because they've been bothered by a bully, our first instinct is to want to go teach the bully a lesson he'll never forget. We don't see the big picture and can get caught up in the moment, where all we know is that we have a hurting child in front of us. One can only imagine what Mary endured watching the passion and death of Jesus. Did she see the big picture? It's not important to know that. What is important is realizing that she accepted God's plan, regardless of what it meant for her. In a favorite hymn honoring Mary on the Feast of the Presentation, the author refers to Mary as "opening wide the portal to the Kingdom in the skies". As the New Eve, she made our redemption possible by giving birth to the Redeemer and standing resolutely at the foot of His cross.

Father Check, who is in Rome completing his studies, once urged us to attend every Mass with the same attention Mary paid to Jesus upon the cross, "her eyes riveted upon the countenance of her dying Son." May our hearts be riveted on Him and may Mary aid us in receiving Him worthily and with our fullest devotion.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How We Spend The Lord's Day

Traditionally, we have Sunday dinner at my parents' house in Swarthmore. The meal almost exclusively consists of some kind of pasta, meatballs, and sometimes, braciole. Occasionally, they will acquiesce to our invitation to come to our house but not very often. There is something about the approach of Fall that makes me want to be in the kitchen, putting what's left of Summer's bounty to good use. So when my mother said yesterday that she and Dad were feeling under the weather, I jumped at the chance to cook at home today.

I had some beef short ribs in the freezer that I defrosted overnight. In the refrigerator beckoning to me were several shallots, some new potatoes, a lot of tomatoes and onions, a few bunches of beets and dozens of carrots, all organically grown. All of the vegetables used for today's dinner were grown by my CSA farmer, Bud, who wrote last night asking for prayers for rain. We awoke this morning to see that his prayers had been answered as a nice steady rainfall soaked the ground outside. I said a special prayer of thanks on Bud's behalf at Mass this morning.

This is the time of year when all of us compete with football for my husband's attention. But even he was overcome by the aroma coming from the oven and we sat down to dinner shortly after the Eagles game began, as opposed to half-time as he originally requested. The kids bickered, mostly good-natured, there was a bit of a disagreement about whose turn it was to do the dishes, and then when I mentioned praying the Rosary after the cupcakes, everyone cleared the room like an alarm had rung. And we wonder why we have difficulties?

I have been re-reading Sister Lucia's book "Calls From Fatima" and I have been thinking a lot about how she and her family were accustomed to spending Sundays. The day began, of course, with the whole family going to Mass, and afterward the young people would gather and talk while the adults played cards or other diversions under the shade of the fig and olive trees in her family's yard. When the Angeluls bell rang at 6pm, the men would rise and remove their caps, the prayer would be recited, and then all the families would return home to have their Sunday dinner. Prayers and Rosary followed. I remember hearing once that Saint Katherine Drexel's mother used Sunday evenings to pray the family Rosary and teach the children about the lives of the saints.

Meanwhile, in our household, there is no shortage of the American redmeat-fest known as football. Don't get me wrong - I love the game as much as anybody. But football should be one of the things we do on Sunday, not THE THING. And that's not all. How many children are missing from Mass because of team sports played on Sunday mornings? How many working mothers neglect their Sunday obligation because it's also the day the food coupons are printed and they've opted to do their food-shopping instead of fulfilling the command to honor the Sabbath? How many Catholics spend their Sunday mornings with the New York Times and an over-priced cup of coffee while the neglected Lord sits and waits for them in the tabernacle? And what are you prepared to do to reverse that trend?

Bear with me one more minute while I vent about something I've been seeing nearly every Sunday at the TLM. A woman enters just before it's time to approach the altar for Holy Communion. She marches right to the front so she can be the first one to kneel at the rail, setting her shopping bags down on the pew. Then she receives our Lord and instead of kneeling down at her pew to thank Him for the privilege, she grabs her bags and heads straight out the door. This was driving me to distraction. I reminded myself that this was none of my business and rather than get worked up about the situation, I realized the best thing I can is pray for this woman.

If you don't already pray the Rosary daily, please start. And if you do, please think about offering your Sunday Rosary for the intention of all the fallen-away and negligent Catholics who treat the Lord like so much of an after-thought, particularly on the one day of the week that He asks only an hour of us. As St. Therese reminds us, we can never love the good God too much!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Maybe you've heard about the fracas in Manayunk about the Angelus Bell at St. John the Baptist Church and the threat of a citation by the city of Philadelphia. All because of one Grinchy neighbor. Last night I was blasted out of my sleep by a screaming teenager being hauled home by her irate father at about 1 am. Not long after that, the charming sound of drunks trying to find their way home after a night of carousing echoed through the street and into our window. This morning, at the once civil hour of 9am, the speakers of a car stereo blared salsa music down Broad Street whether the citizens enjoying the beautiful morning wanted to hear it or not. And some crackpot is worried about church bells????????

One of my fondest memories of my trip to Panama was hearing the bells of Iglesia del Nostra Senora de Carmen each morning at 6am as we made our way down to breakfast. To say that the bells were pealing would be an understatement. I've never heard bells so loud and I actually think that if I'd been on the street while they were ringing, I would have felt the ground vibrating. The bells at St. John's aren't anywhere near that loud.

In an area where public urination and drunkenness threaten to supplant the hills as the hallmark of the neighborhood, you'd think people might find a more worthwhile cause to champion that silencing a 106-year-old bell. As our world continues to spin out of control, you can expect to see more of this type of nonsense. I hope the pastor of St. John's, Father James A Lyons, holds his ground and keeps that bell ringing at 7am (an hour later than it used to ring at 6am).

May Light Perpetual Shine Upon Them

(photo by Dolores Monet)
I don't have too much to say about today that hasn't already been said, so I'll simply remind everyone to pray for those who lost their lives on that September morning as well as those people in our world who have succumbed to evil, whether in the name of religion or against it, and continue to imperil their souls by advocating violence and hatred against their fellow man.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Solemn Mass and Procession on Sept. 14th Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross

Looking for something holy to do next Tuesday evening? The following is from the blog, Philadephia Roamin Catholic. Do plan to join us!

On Tuesday, September 14, at 7 p.m. St. Paul’s Church, Christian Street in Philadelphia will be having a Solemn Mass followed by a Procession & Benediction of the Relic of the True Cross. The guest preacher will be Fr. Andrew McCormick, Pastor of Sacred Heart Polish National Parish in Swedesburg. This Mass will be to celebrate the third anniversary of the implementation of the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, which gave wider access to the Traditional Latin Mass.

Saint Paul's Church is located near the intersection of 10th & Christian Streets in South Philadelphia. If taking the Delaware Expressway (I-95), exit at Columbus Boulevard and travel west on Christian Street. Parking is available in the lot across the street. If you are using public transportation, Bus Route 23 may be taken southbound from the Market East Railroad Station (Reading Terminal).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Meditation for First Saturday of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Image from the Zeferelli film "Jesus of Nazareth")

Oh Mary.. in Jerusalem a bitter sadness
Comes to flood your heart like a vast ocean
For three days, Jesus hides from your tenderness
At last you find Him and you are overcome with joy
You say to the Fair Child captivating the doctors
O my Son, why have You done this?
Your father and I have been searching for you in tears.

And the Child God replies (O, what a deep mystery)
To His dearest Mother holding out her arms to Him
Why were you searching for Me? I must be about
My Father's business. Didn't you know?

The Gospel tells me growing in wisdom
Jesus remains subject to Joseph and Mary
And my heart reveals to me with what tenderness
He always obeys His dear parents.
Now I understand the mystery of the Temple.
The hidden words of my lovable King.
Mother, you sweet Child wants you to be the example
Of the Soul searching for Him in the night of faith.
-the poetry of St. Therese
"Why I Love You Mary".