Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some Recent Photos Pt. One

First, here are some images of the beautiful manger in the chapel at work.  My camera work is not so steady due to tremors I seem to have developed in my hands, but hopefully, you can still appreciate the serenity of Mary and the strength of Joseph in these photos.

Mary, on one knee, contemplating the radiant beauty of the Christ Child

Next, here is a photo of the family gift I brought back from Italy - a statue of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   I don't know if this photo does justice to the detail in Mary's face and in the cherubs.  I was somewhat disappointed with the statuary offered in Rome, except for this one.  I knew I had to have it as soon as I laid eyes on it.  It's at my mother's for safekeeping right now.  She has it in a china closet with her statue of the Pieta as well as some other keepsakes she has.  I should have shuffled the rabbit out of the way but didn't.  Amateurs!

The Immaculate Conception, my Christmas gift to the entire family from Rome.

Next up is the obligatory photo of the Christmas tree.  Caitlin talked me into doing white lights this year.  The jury's still out on whether I prefer these or the usual multi-colored bulbs, which we do have decorating the lilac bush in the back yard.

The jury is still out on white lights vs colored ones.

Next, here are some photos of the sweet faces that help make up the live Nativity in Old City.   Due to the cruel acts of some miscreant(s), no shots of the actual creche.

Finally, this photo has nothing to do with Christmas.  I was taking a walk back in November and came across this scene outside a funeral home.  It's not a common sight these days.  Before taking the photo, I asked a member of the deceased's family if it was OK and I was told it was no problem.  The casket had not yet been loaded onto the horse-drawn hearse.    Sadly, this was a funeral for a young person.  May he rest in peace.

Benedictine Arrangement of the Altar for the Novus Ordo

I was pleasantly surprised to walk into church for the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass and find this glorious sight.  Father continued to use this arrangement.  Sorry this isn't the best photo - certainly not the quality we've come to expect from Rebecca.  I took it with my cell phone after Mass, doing my best to get it before the candles were extinguished and people started coming in and out of the sacristy.

Annual New Year's Eve Dispute With My Spouse

I want to go to the Monastery late tonight for Adoration and Mass.  Mr. Little Way objects.  He doesn't like the idea of me  driving through such dangerous neighborhoods to get there.  We have this debate every year.  Usually he promises he will stay up late if I forego the trip, and usually he falls asleep before 9pm and goes to bed.  This year, the promise is that he will go to the TLM with Rebecca and I tomorrow.  Will it be empty?  Will I sneak out the door when he falls asleep and go the Monastery anyway?   Stay tuned.

Another Abortionist Charged With Murder

Lost in the attention focused on Kermit Gosnell was another case of a notorious abortionist who apparently had his own brand of murdering hubris.  Dr. Steven Brigham, who has spent most of his "career" in trouble, was charged by Maryland authorities with murdering  viable fetuses at his Elkton, Md. clinic.  An August 2010 raid there uncovered 35 late-term babies in jars in a freezers, some of them very close to being full-term.  The raid was prompted by complaints from a 18-year-old woman who had been critically injured during an abortion performed by Brigham's associate, Dr. Nicola Riley of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Brigham skirted New Jersey law by starting late-term abortions at his Voorhees clinic and finishing them at the secret clinic he operated in Maryland.  New Jersey was the only state where he still had a valid medical license, having had his others revoked in New York, Pennsylvania, and  Florida.  When New York revoked his license in 1994, it called him "under trained" and with "submarginal abilities."

Incredibly, Brigham was never licensed in Maryland, claiming that state law permitted to him practice as a consultant to another physician - in this case, an 88-year-old disabled doctor hired by Brigham.  Maryland rejected his contention.

In 1996 New Jersey tried to revoke his license, only for an administrative judge to reinstate it.  It was subsequently suspended in 2010, when the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners called him " a clear and imminent danger to the public health."

How many more monsters like Brigham and Gosnell are out there?

Archbishop Chaput Reportedly Considering Sale of Palatial Home

According to tomorrow's Philadelphia Inquirer,  Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is ready to downsize his dwelling-place.  The paper reports that in a move driven by the anticipated closing of numerous Catholic schools and parishes, Chaput will place the 16-room stone mansion near Philadelphia's Main Line on the selling block.  Chaput, a Franciscan, took a vow of poverty at ordination and made a similar move when installed as Denver's archbishop in 1999, choosing to move into the seminary.

Chaput's current home, known as the Cardinal's Residence, is but a stone's throw from St. Charles Seminary.  While the seminary is certainly not low-income housing, situated on a bucolic setting that is a stark contrast to many of the urban parishes to which its future priests will be assigned,  it might still be more palatable to the parishioners who will see their schools and/or churches close in the coming year.

The cathedral rectory in Center City Philadelphia is another possible residence where the archbishop may decide to hang up his hat.  This would put Chaput not only among his  priests but among his flock as well.

I have an idea of my own of what Archbishop Chaput could do for digs and it's a selfish one - he can spend a week or so at a time at every rectory in the diocese.  While this is certainly not a practical or realistic expectation, it would, nonetheless, allow Chaput to see first-hand what we have to endure in this diocese with priests insistent on celebrating the sacred liturgy according to their own "rubrics".  My blood is still boiling from the priest this week who skipped the Gloria because he doesn't like having to read the prayers, skipped most of the martyrs in the Roman Canon (why even bother using it) and stuffed a purificator in the chalice rather than purify it with water and thoroughly dry it after Holy Communion.  It would be hard to refuse direct correction from your superior bishop, wouldn't it?  And let me not forget the otherwise obedient  priest who insists on breaking the host during the words of the consecration.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Another Gem From Vultus Christi

I haven't figured out how to log in to Father Mark's blog so I haven't been able to ask him if this series has been written by him or if it's from a book I have not been able to find. ( I am obviously not the brightest bulb on the tree).  Whatever the case may be,  his latest entry under Journal of a Priest stopped me dead in my tracks.  How often do I go to Adoration and simply adore?  Seems like I always have to have an arsenal of prayers ready.  After reading Holiness Through Adoration, I could not wait to return to the Adoration chapel.  Read it there.  And then take it to heart.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday in the Octave of Christmas

I was hoping to have some photos to share with you of the TLM at St. Paul's this past Christmas Day, but the kind gentleman who allows Rebecca to use his camera has not yet had a chance to send them to her.  I am also hoping to get some photos at work tomorrow of the Nativity in the chapel.  It is quite possibly the most beautiful and captivating version of the Holy Family I've ever seen.  I look forward to being able to share it.

I've been trying to set aside time at the end of each day to pray the Rosary in the chapel before leaving for home.  Since I was all alone yesterday,  I sat directly in front of the creche as I meditated on the Joyful Mysteries.  I became conscious of someone sitting behind me, even though I never heard the chapel door open.  I quickly surmised the person was trying to get a photo of the Nativity, so when I finished praying, I quietly asked him if he'd like to have my seat.  I was surprised to see that it was an elderly gentleman who strongly resembled a recently departed friend.  He thanked me but said he was leaving.  He told me it was his birthday, and he just wanted to come into the chapel to say a prayer for his mother.  Judging from the looks of him, I surmised his mother was long gone and I thought it was so touching that on his birthday, he wanted to say a prayer for her in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

Rebecca and I are still considering spending New Year's Eve at the Carmelite Monastery.  Adoration begins at 10pm followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Midnight.  A friend of mine who has gone a few times told me that it's a sparsely attended, dark, very quiet evening, which sounds exactly like the way I'd want to begin the New Year.

Maybe you'll be there too?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas TLM Beauty From Rome

Well, more than that, much more than that.  How I wish we'd seen this church while in Rome.  From the blog New Liturgical Movement.  I don't know who to credit the photos to but the post was by Shawn Tribe of the NLM.

From the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rome
Domine non sum dignus

The Altar before Mass 

Tuesday After Christmas: Feast of St. John the Evangelist

I was blessed to be able to have off from work yesterday and today and although the weather did not entirely cooperate this Tuesday, I made the most of it before the rains came.  I decided not to guilt myself into any early-morning Masses on my days off, mainly because it's Week 3 of the Respiratory Infection from You-Know-Where and I barely made it through Christmas Eve and Christmas.  So I opted for Noon Mass both days.

Yesterday, the abuses I witnessed at the church down the street were too numerous to mention.  The problem is, there are several really good orthodox priests at this church, but you never know who you're going to get until immediately before Mass begins. Yesterday we had a relatively new priest who, although he is young, is infirm, so I make certain allowances for him.  The problem is that his Masses always seem to coincide with people in attendance who are, shall we say off-balanced?

A couple brought a young woman with them who obviously has mental challenges.  They insisted on sitting in the front row where she caused a major disturbance all though Mass that would probably not have been so disruptive had they sat in the back.  I could let this pass but what they did immediately after Mass was inexcusable.  On Mondays, there is a Novena to Our Mother of Good Counsel afterward.  Instead of either staying for the novena or leaving quietly, the couple chose to stand in the middle of the aisle and talk to two other women who had been sitting near them.  The priest patiently waited for them to conclude and when it became apparent that it was going to be a long conversation, a man politely went over and asked them to step outside because the priest was still speaking.

Why do people insist on coming to Mass and making themselves the center of attention?

This church is just a few blocks from my home. It offers Adoration and Confessions nearly every day, with the latter no longer scheduled for Sundays.  It is a blessing to have the sacraments so nearby, yet I almost never leave there without feeling like I've committed a sin.  If it's not the priest who doesn't purify the chalice after Communion then it's the priest who skips over all the names of the martyrs in the Roman canon and adds his own saints instead, whether they're martyrs or not.  Or, it's the priest who, though he is able-bodied, doesn't genuflect when he opens the tabernacle and whose consecration of the Host more closely resembles someone holding up a cue card.  It's so sad and I don't wish to be an accomplice to this abuse, yet as I said, there are other priests there who do play by the rules.

Because of how lousy I've been feeling, I decided I would go there today for Adoration and then, depending on how I felt, head uptown for Mass.  I am so glad I decided to make the walk into town.  I realized when I got to the Center City Church run by the Franciscans that it was the titular feast of their patron, St. John the Evangelist.  Our celebrant was a very joyful but no-nonsense priest who I have come to love both at Mass and in the confessional.  When people made the wrong response to his greeting at the opening of the Mass, he said: "You have your prayer cards, right?  Use them!"  I could have applauded. I am so tired of people not even making an effort to make the proper responses.

His homily was very simple.  John believed, because he saw.

"What about us?  What have we seen?"

Father talked about the thousands of Catholics who have fallen away from their faith, either because they stopped believing or because they don't like certain tenets of the church.  He reminded us that St. John the Evangelist gives us a good picture of what the Final Judgment will look like.

"There's a place for you in Heaven," he reminded us.  "How hard are you willing to work to earn it?"

This morning, before I headed over to St. John's,   I prayed the Rosary during Adoration, and I focused on an image that I have found comfort in ever since Father Galligan passed away.  In the image, the Virgin Mary lays the Baby Jesus in Father's arms, just as she did for Simeon that day in the Temple, and I imagine the joy Father feels as he gazes at the sleeping Holy Child.  I was thinking of how wonderful it will be to one day hear the Lord say "I love you" to me, face to face.

Then came His response.

"Why do you need to hear Me say it?  You have only to look at the crucifix on this altar to know how much I love you.  If you are not convinced by this, you cannot be convinced.  Who else do you know was willing not only to lay down their life for you but to be mocked and scorned in the process?  If this is not love, what is?"

As St. Athanasius wrote and as we heard in Christmas homilies this past weekend,
"Jesus became humanity so that humanity might become divine."

I think humanity, myself included,  had better try a little harder.

Yesterday, I visited the Live Nativity at a Protestant church in Old City.  For years, the same church has sponsored this little oasis of peace in the midst of a broken and chaotic world.  I took my camera with me to photograph the animals but what caught my eye first wasn't the baby donkey and calf, but the creche that had been desecrated.   The mannequins that make up the Holy Family and the visitors were toppled over, and the Baby Jesus was nowhere in sight.  Mary's head had been ripped off.  Miraculously, the animals seemed unscathed and I watched visitor after visitor come up to the scene and not even notice the carnage that had taken place inside the stable.  People were coming to admire how cute the baby animals were without a thought given to the significance of their presence.  I wasn't sure which I found sadder - the destroyed creche or the people who ignored it altogether.

"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."

And they still don't.

St. John the Evangelist, pray for us and for them that we might believe and love as you did.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Eve of Christmas Eve

This has been the most low-key build-up to Christmas I've had in years.  For one thing, I'm not responsible for the annual Christmas repast which is a first in 15 years.  I'm not going to know what to do with myself Christmas Day!  Usually, I come back from Mass in a bust to get a special roast in the oven and other things prepared that we wouldn't normally eat on any ordinary day.  This year, my newly married sister asked to do the honors. I'm responsible for bringing dessert, and I am ashamed to admit to those of you who have been baking furiously that I visited an excellent German bakery and let them do the honors.

This is the first time in many years that I'm working 5 days a week.  Even though I've had to work full-time for years, I always worked 10 or 12 hours shifts.  Working 50 hours a week with a 90 minute daily commute simply hasn't left me time to bake or shop til I drop.  So things are going to be a bit subdued.  The one thing that hasn't been subdued is my prayer life, and that's the preparation most important to me.

I live in an area where people go way overboard at Christmas.  The Griswolds have nothing on some of my neighbors.  The lights are amazing.  As a child, I looked with great anticipation to see these lights and once the magic of being a "believer" came to an end, the lights were never that enchanting again.  Until tonight, as I drove home from Adoration, and I chose to see the lights in a different way.  Like the little town of Moravia that lines the streets and paths with candle-lit sacks on Christmas Eve, the twinkling lights aren't necessarily there to point out someone's house to Santa.  I choose now to see them lit in anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child.

Some people were losing their minds over the winter Solstice this past week.  I'm convinced the only reason they care is because they're so anti-Christian they'll look for any reason to minimize the blessed miracle of Christmas.  However, at work, it was a decidedly different story.  Every day the chapel underwent some slight change as we got closer to the end of Advent.  Finally, the manger made its appearance today, with Mary and Joseph kneeling beside an empty manger, kept company by two sleeping donkeys.  Next week when the Babe is present, I will have to take a photo of this Nativity scene.  I have never seen a more beautiful version of the Holy Parents and I have to believe the pieces probably belong to the nuns and they are generous enough to share them.

Today, there was such excitement in the atmosphere that I almost felt like a child back at school.  I believe it's because for the first time in my career as a nurse I'm working in a place where there is no shame or offense associated with something as beautiful as a Nativity scene.  We wrapped up work in my departments a little early and everyone was able to leave by 3.

When I got home, I decided to try to pick up the last few gifts and as I walked among the other shoppers, many of them puffing cigarettes while attached to cell phones, I thought of how much I don't belong to the world, to the point where it's painful to go shopping.  I also realized that I hadn't gotten my husband a single thing, nor had I gotten any candy for the stockings.  I thought of Louis Martin, remarking with some satisfaction about how it would be the last year to fill a shoe with surprises for Therese on Christmas Eve, and the hurt it caused her.  But it also brought about her conversion, so here's hoping that our subdued, lower-key Christmas brings my family closer to Him in Whose Name we celebrate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What The Catholic Church Could Have Told Newt and Callista

Those of you who are die-hard Gingrich fans probably want to skip this post.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

After reading comments on another blog about how wonderful it would be to have a real Catholic president in the White House, I scratched my head in disbelief.  There are times when my Church, which I love and defend, does things that simply baffle me, like granting Mr. Gingrich and others like him an annulment.  Oh, I've heard the news that Newt has "converted".  Trouble is, I'm not convinced.  Let me explain.

To my way of thinking, true conversion is taking responsibility for your past actions, acknowledging your sin, and putting aside the thing (in this case,  person) that lead you to commit adultery in the first place.  Conversion is not getting your previous marriages annulled simply because this time, you've engaged in  adultery with a practicing Catholic.  (A Catholic who engages in adultery with a married man might think about "practicing" a little harder).

If next week I abdicate my marriage vows and decide to carry on with the postman, I will have committed a mortal sin.  Should I decide to confess this sin and in all sincerity, wish to make atonement even though I'm still attracted to the mail guy, what do you think I will be advised to do?  Will the priest advise me to seek an annulment so I can be with the man of my choice, or will he tell me to ask God's forgiveness and go make things right with my husband?

Where do we get the idea that it's OK to cheat on your wife and then marry your mistress if you weren't "really" married in the first place?  I get it that the Church does not consider marriages outside the faith as valid, but wouldn't it be better and more righteous in the truest sense of the word to have told Mr. Gingrich to put aside his new love interest and go back and make things right with his previous wives, and THEN seek entrance into the Catholic church?   The cart definitely went before the horse.

When it comes to situations like that of Newt and Callista Gingrich, it seems to me that the Church hierarchy is inadvertently contributing to the decline of the sanctity of marriage by effectively sanctioning adulterous relationships through a costly and controversial process known as annulment.   Mr. and Mrs. Gingrich are by no means unique and I know from other cases that his political stature is not the reason the Church was willing to grant the annulments.   I also know that one of the reasons the Church was willing to declare Newt's second marriage invalid is because his second wife had also been previously married.  Fair enough, but where does it end, especially if children were involved?

While the Church does not consider adultery and divorce to be intrinsic evils akin with abortion, they are nonetheless sins which contribute to the decline of the moral fiber of our country.   Furthermore, the rampant divorce rate is symptomatic of our overall throwaway, anything goes mentality.  Don't like your first wife?  Leave her for a newer and more attractive model.  Don't like the opposite sex?  No problem, marry someone of the same gender!  See how that goes?

There are times when divorce is the only option.  For instance, if there is abuse,  or if one of the spouses is a serial adulterer who refuses counseling.   Granting annulments to people who think they should try out as many wives as it takes to get it right, as casually as they would try on a suit, is not the way to bring a person to true conversion.  And it's not the way to protect the sanctity of one of the most disregarded sacraments instituted by Christ.

You may commence throwing darts at any time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Memorial Mass for Father Jim Galligan, OSA

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated for Father Jim Galligan, OSA,  at The National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia on Wednesday evening, January 25th.  The liturgy  will be preceded at 6:30pm by Adoration, Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 7:30pm.  The celebrant will be Father Michael DiGregorio, Assistant General of the Order of St. Augustine.

Father Galligan passed away at age 89 on Saturday, December 3rd.  He was well-loved by the people of St. Rita's and the many visitors who came to know him by his prayerful presence in the Adoration Chapel and the Confessional.

St. Rita's is located on South Broad Street between Ellsworth and Federal and free parking is available in the lot immediately adjacent to the church.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kids singing Gregorian Chant - Kyrie from the Missa De Angelis

Yesterday, we did something we don't usually do at the TLM at my parish - we chanted the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from the Missa de Angelis.

There is probably no other sound in the world I prefer more than hearing the Kyrie from this Mass setting, because it is other-worldly.  This is an especially sweet version because it's chanted by children.

Patient Endurance

On Saturday, the oldest moved back home.  She and her U-Haul and her moving entourage were due here at 2pm and by 4:30 when I left for the Vigil Mass, she still had not arrived, seriously hampering my plans to liberate the tree from its plastic netting.  My prayers were heard because by the time I got home from Mass, all of the furniture was in place and all that was left were bags and boxes of clothes and books.  By the time I was ready to retire for the night, the tree was lit and decorated and all but the stockings had been hung.

Cait's not thrilled about having to move back home, and truth be told, the feeling's kind of mutual - LOL!  The dogs feel differently.  They're in seventh heaven to have her here.

Rebecca has been a bit subdued the past few weeks.  On Saturday, I asked her what was wrong.  She told me she didn't know what to ask for this Christmas.  She hasn't been able to tell me a single thing she'd like to have.  How markedly different from her siblings!

I'd like to believe that she is thinking, as I am, of a family we adopted at work.  Dad lost his job last year, followed by the family home, and Mom is doing her best to put together something for their five children.  The youngest is profoundly autistic.  Our department received a list of things that she wanted to have for them, none of them frivolous or expensive.  The generosity of my co-workers has been awesome.  Mom asked us not to wrap the gifts as she would like to be able to do this herself, so in addition to the wish list, wrapping paper and bows were also donated.

Please keep this family in your prayers.

Matthew is going through some growing pains right now.  It took him some time to get established in his high school and learn how to brush off the insults from bullies and other trouble-makers.  Now that he's got school under control, he's having to face similar situations at work.  He began his job at the bakery by washing the large pots and pans but gradually he's been given more duties.  His employer knows he has "issues" and isn't the quickest learner and he's been very patient with Matt, but the same cannot be said for a hand full of his co-workers.  Not all but some of his colleagues are insulting, impatient and uncharitable toward him.  He didn't help his cause when he dropped a cake a few weeks back but his boss dismissed it as a rookie mistake and told him to get back on the horse.  My husband stopped by the bakery one day when Matt wasn't scheduled to work to talk to his boss and see if there were any concerns we could address.

"Matt is a good kid.  I know some of the guys give him a hard way to go but I let it slide because he needs to toughen up.  I keep an eye on him and I tell him all the time the only opinion that counts is mine and I really like him.  He's a hard worker, always on time and always respectful."

Along with having a regular paycheck, he now has an ATM card.  My husband took him to the bank a few times to show him how to withdraw money, but I think he underestimated how much help Matt needs.  We got a call from the bank of Friday that he had overdrawn his account.   When we tried to talk to him about it, he erupted in anger because he's frustrated.

"I can't do banking things.  I tried but I can't do them."

These are the kinds of things I have known we would have to deal with.  No amount of encouragement can offset the pain of knowing you are different and can't do some of the simple things that others take for granted.  Matt's school offers a vocational program for students with special needs.  He refuses to let me enroll him because he does not want to be identified as learning-disabled or mentally challenged.  Sometimes, I have wondered if it wouldn't have been easier for Matthew to be more profoundly impacted so that he would not be aware of his differences.  He's in a tough place and your prayers would be appreciated.

I'm very proud of him that even though he emptied out his account, he spent the money on others, selecting very thoughtful gifts for his grandparents and friends.  He's always been the kind of kid who enjoyed giving things away more than getting them and for this I'm grateful.  I just wish the rest of the world could see his goodness.

I went to the novenas as I always do on Monday evenings and this week, I offered the Miraculous Medial novena for Matt's intentions.  Who better than the Blessed Virgin Mary to lend a compassionate ear to a mother's plea for her rejected and mistreated son?

These things are but a trifle compared to the difficulties that others face, especially at this time of year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Fruits of Eucharistic Adoration

Ever since I signed up for Friday nights, it seems like quite a few other people had the same idea.  I was hoping to sit with Jesus at a time when no one else would and just when it seemed like perhaps I should choose another time, I found I had the chapel all to myself last night.  I know I should be saddened at the drop off in adorers, but in selfishness, I was glad to have the time alone.  It meant I could sit in the front pew and that I would have very few distractions.

I am keenly aware that when I am in the Real Presence of our Eucharistic Lord, we are not alone.  The angels who are in constant adoration share the chapel with me, even though they do not make their presence known.  Last night, it  struck me how much adoration is like being with the Lord in the garden at Gethsemane.  The only creatures who attended Him were the angels, even though He pleaded with the disciples to stay awake.  Adoration is our chance to act in imitation of those angels who comforted Jesus on the night before His Passion.

I have a poor habit of recounting to myself all of the things I did each day to please the Lord.  I need not bother  because He knows what I will do even before I do.  Like St. Therese, I wish I could perform acts of kindness without Him knowing it was me as anonymous acts seem to me the most fruitful.   But because I'm a weakling, I find myself inadvertently reminding myself of some small thing I did.  If someone who ignored me for years and neglected me to the point of going out of their way to hurt me would suddenly start counting all the nice things they recently did for me, I'd probably be quick to say: "Well, you have a lot of lost time to make up for, how about all the times you ignored me or spoke badly about me?"

But the Lord will never do that.  He will never repay us in kind for our neglect, our ungratefulness, even our coldness toward Him.  Who else would do that for us?  If I treated my mother the way I once acted toward Jesus, she would definitely try to inflict some guilt before taking me back. Not so with the Lord.

Realizing the greatness of His Love, we are compelled to return the favor towards those who do the same to us.

The other day, I was listening to former Philadelphia Flyer Eric Lindros talk about how he would take the ice with his former nemesis, Bobby Clarke.  He said he would shake his hand, and play the alumni game with him at the Winter Classic.  When a caller asked him how he could forgive all that was done to him by Clarke, he simply said: " I can keep looking back, or I can move forward.  I choose to move forward."

When Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque conferred with her spiritual director about the Lord's revelations to her, he ordered her to ask Jesus what the most serious sin the priest had committed in his youth.  The Lord's response to her was: "I don't recall."

Does this mean we will not have to account for our actions during this life?  No.  It simply means what my late friend Father Jim Galligan knew:  When we sit in the Divine Presence, the Lord does not see our sins when He looks back at us.  He only sees how much He loves us.  No one will ever love us more.

What am I prepared to do to return that love?

For one thing, make sure I'm in the chapel every Friday night when I'm scheduled to be  And not let slip one single opportunity to show my gratitude for a King who lowered Himself to reside in a white particle so that I can bask in His Presence whenever possible.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gaudete Sunday at St. Paul Church Philadelphia

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Photography by Rebecca Roman .  Heartfelt thanks to Mr. Thomas Rudolph for  his generosity in lending both his camera and his patient advice to help capture the beauty of Gaudete Sunday at St. Paul's.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Letting Go

I have a confession to make - I am not "feeling" it this Christmas.  I don't mean that in the spiritual sense.  I love this time of year, of making internal preparations for the coming of the Christ Child and the Second Coming of the Messiah at the end of time.  I'm just not in the "spirit" of things as is expected of me.  I simply don't feel like going out and buying things for people who don't need anything, nor do I want anyone buying me more stuff I don't need.  I don't feel like putting up a lot of secular decorations and creating more and more stress for myself.

I have been off from work the past two days getting the house ready for the holidays.  The oldest is moving back in on Saturday so there is no point in putting up the tree until all the furniture is here and has been hauled up the steps to her room, which everyone from the dogs to my husband have been using for storage since she moved out a year ago.  I have mixed feelings about her coming home, but with the economy being what it is, I think it's the right thing for her to do so that she can finish school without the stress of worrying about how to pay her rent.  On top of it, her employer, my former employer, is going to replace her with a volunteer, except they didn't bother to inform her.  She found out the plan through the grapevine when the employee responsible for training the volunteer filled her in.  Because she's a per diem employee, the hospital can do as it pleases and get away with it.  She's been in the position faithfully for 5 years and just like that, they can send her packing with as little as an hour's notice.

This is the same employer that kept my over 300 hours of sick time yet feels entitled to ask me to repay tuition money for a degree it insisted I needed, even when I was entitled to tuition benefits and only used them once.

There is no benefit in trying to get even, so both of us are letting go of our disappointment and frustration and moving on.

We have spent the past two days together, getting rid of stuff we once thought we couldn't live without.  Luckily, our work coincided with trash day and we were able to put quite a bit of it curbside.  My husband, the true hoarder ( I have the name but he plays the game) kept retrieving stuff and trying to bring it back.  He hasn't reached the point that I have of being able to let go.  There are tons and tons of books and records taking up space and collecting dust in this house because he cannot let go of it.

There is something else I've had to let go of concerning my spouse but I will save that post for another time.  It's a heavy one and I'm not prepared to talk about it right now.  

The birds have their nests and the fish have the sea, but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His Head.  It helps for me to remember that often ...

A few weeks prior to this exercise, I went through all of my clothes and even though I'm not one to buy a lot for myself, I still felt like I had way more than I needed.  There were clothes from a different era in my life that I had been clinging to for years, whether out of the false hope that I'd lose enough weight to be able to fit into them again or that they would once again become fashionable. I decided enough was enough and donated all of it.  Whatever it is, I can live without it.  In fact, I'll be better off.

Anyway, it's less than two weeks before Christmas and I haven't bought a single gift.  I wish I could say I miss having "believers" and having to tip-toe around on Christmas Eve sneaking presents under the tree, but the truth is that I don't.  The truth is that Christmas has not been the same for me  since I helped organize a Christmas Eve breakfast for the homeless at a local Episcopal church some years back.  We not only served a wonderful meal of ham, eggs, hash browns, toast and assorted pastries, but we also created care packages for each of the men.  We nearly ran out of food but the loaves and fishes factor was in effect, and no one walked away hungry.  Each of the men received a gift bag with essentials for survival on the street.  You would think we were giving away bags of gold for the reaction.  I received hug after hug, some tear-filled, others simply full of joy at being remembered.

Shortly after, I left to come home to the Catholic church.  I wanted my kids to see how little others have, so the following Christmas, Matthew, Rebecca and I put together care packages to take to men out on the street.  Since Rebecca couldn't do much walking at the time, she helped assemble while Matthew accompanied me to deliver them.  I wanted my son to experience the joy of tending to Christ by showing kindness to the least of our brethren.

Nothing any of us could find under a tree or in a stocking could match the gift of giving hope to those who have none and joy to those who forgot what it feels like to be remembered.  Just like we learned to let go of the clutter and the possessions we thought we could never live without, my prayer is that we can walk away from the hype and the greed that has hijacked Christmas and expect nothing except the opportunity to serve others, seeing Christ in the "distressing disguise of the poor" that Blessed Mother Teresa so often mentioned.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Two People Talking Stop Forty People Praying"

From the blog Caritas in Veritate comes this plea for silence, as written by the Bishop of Aberdeen.  Read it here or there.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We live in a noisy world. Our towns and cities are full of noise. There is noise in the skies and on the roads. There is noise in our homes, and even in our churches. And most of all there is noise in our minds and hearts.
The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once wrote: ‘The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and I were asked for my advice, I should reply: “Create silence! Bring people to silence!” The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. And even if it were trumpeted forth with all the panoply of noise so that it could be heard in the midst of all the other noise, then it would no longer be the Word of God. Therefore, create silence!’
‘Create silence!’  There’s a challenge here. Surely speaking is a good and healthy thing? Yes indeed. Surely there are bad kinds of silence? Yes again. But still Kierkegaard is on to something.
There is a simple truth at stake. There can be no real relationship with God, there can be no real meeting with God, without silence. Silence prepares for that meeting and silence follows it. An early Christian wrote, ‘To someone who has experienced Christ himself, silence is more precious than anything else.’ For us God has the first word, and our silence opens our hearts to hear him. Only then will our own words really be words, echoes of God’s, and not just more litter on the rubbish dump of noise.
‘How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.’ So the carol goes. For all the noise, rush and rowdiness of contemporary Christmasses, we all know there is a link between Advent and silence, Christmas and silence. Our cribs are silent places. Who can imagine Mary as a noisy person? In the Gospels, St Joseph never says a word; he simply obeys the words brought him by angels. And when John the Baptist later comes out with words of fire, it is after years of silence in the desert. Add to this the silence of our long northern nights, and the silence that follows the snow. Isn’t all this asking us to still ourselves?
A passage from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom describes the night of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt as a night full of silence. It is used by the liturgy of the night of Jesus’ birth:
‘When a deep silence covered all things and night was in the middle of its course, your all-powerful Word, O Lord, leapt from heaven’s royal throne’ (Wis 18:14-15).
‘Holy night, silent night!’ So we sing. The outward silence of Christmas night invites us to make silence within us. Then the Word can leap into us as well, as a wise man wrote: ‘If deep silence has a hold on what is inside us, then into us too the all-powerful Word will slip quietly from the Father’s throne.’
This is the Word who proceeds from the silence of the Father. He became an infant, and ‘infant’ means literally ‘one who doesn’t speak.’ The child Jesus would have cried – for air and drink and food – but he didn’t speak. ‘Let him who has ears to hear, hear what this loving and mysterious silence of the eternal Word says to us.’ We need to listen to this quietness of Jesus, and allow it to make its home in our minds and hearts.
‘Create silence!’ How much we need this! The world needs places, oases, sanctuaries, of silence.
And here comes a difficult question: what has happened to silence in our churches? Many people ask this. When the late Canon Duncan Stone, as a young priest in the 1940s, visited a parish in the Highlands, he was struck to often find thirty or forty people kneeling there in silent prayer. Now often there is talking up to the very beginning of Mass, and it starts again immediately afterwards. But what is a church for, and why do we go there? We go to meet the Lord and the Lord comes to meet us. ‘The Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before him!’ said the prophet Habakkuk. Surely the silent sacramental presence of the Lord in the tabernacle should lead us to silence? We need to focus ourselves and put aside distractions before the Mass begins. We want to prepare to hear the word of the Lord in the readings and homily. Surely we need a quiet mind to connect to the great Eucharistic Prayer? And when we receive Holy Communion, surely we want to listen to what the Lord God has to say, ‘the voice that speaks of peace’? Being together in this way can make us one – the Body of Christ – quite as effectively as words.
A wise elderly priest of the diocese said recently, ‘Two people talking stop forty people praying.’
‘Create silence!’ I don’t want to be misunderstood. We all understand about babies. Nor are we meant to come and go from church as cold isolated individuals, uninterested in one another. We want our parishes to be warm and welcoming places. We want to meet and greet and speak with one another. There are arrangements to be made, items of news to be shared, messages to be passed. A good word is above the best gift, says the Bible. But it is a question of where and when. Better in the porch than at the back of the church. Better after the Mass in a hall or a room. There is a time and place for speaking and a time and place for silence. In the church itself, so far as possible, silence should prevail. It should be the norm before and after Mass, and at other times as well. When there is a real need to say something, let it be done as quietly as can be. At the very least, such silence is a courtesy towards those who want to pray. It signals our reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. It respects the longing of the Holy Spirit to prepare us to celebrate the sacred mysteries. And then the Mass, with its words and music and movement and its own moments of silence, will become more real. It will unite us at a deeper level, and those who visit our churches will sense the Holy One amongst us.
‘Create silence!’ It is an imperative. May the Word coming forth from silence find our silence waiting for him like a crib! ‘The devil’, said St Ambrose, ‘loves noise; Christ looks for silence.’
                                                            Yours sincerely in Him,
+ Hugh, O. S. B.
Bishop of Aberdeen
7 December 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thank You St. Therese!

My friend who was hit by a truck last Monday and seriously injured?  She came home from the hospital today and is expected to make a full recovery.  Thank you Jesus and thank you St. Therese for your glorious intercession!

Something Sweet for Sunday

Friday, December 9, 2011

Latin Mass Beauty

Here is a view of the altar with the beautiful antependium used on the feast of The Immaculate Conception at St. Paul's Thursday evening.   Click on the photo to zoom in closer.

Requiescat in Pace

Today was the viewing and funeral for Father James L. Galligan, OSA and it was held  on Villanova's campus in St. Thomas of Villanova Church.  Things are in such a state at work that I didn't dare ask for the day off, so I resigned myself to go in early, leave for 90 minutes or so to get to the church to at least "pay my respects" and then head back to work.  But that's not exactly how the day went.

At 3am I awoke to my husband literally crying in pain.  He told me it felt like a toothpick was sticking him in his eye.  He couldn't even open it to let me view the problem (which is probably a good thing because if there's one thing I'm squeamish about, it's eyeballs.).  From the symptoms it sounded like he had a corneal abrasion, and having had one myself, I knew the pain.  I had to go work, so I told him to call me if he needed me and I would check in on him later.

The next thing I knew he was calling me from the ER to tell me that they thought he had not an abrasion but a cyst.  They weren't sure where it was emanating from and wanted him to see a specialist right away.

I had just arrived at Villanova when I got this call, so I decided to go in the church and make a quick visit.  Then I'd have to forget about going back to work and high-tail it to the ER.  ( I'm happy to report that there was no cyst, it was just a bad abrasion and medication and pain drops should fix it.)

Father's casket lay open in the rear of the church.  He was  clothed in white vestments, with a photograph of the Divine Mercy by his side and his Rosary and Brown Scapular around his hands.  When I finally was able to get up to the casket to see him, I thought immediately of St. Therese.  He seemed to be smiling and he wore an expression of peace that seemed to announce, as my friend described it, "I'm finally here, in Heaven."
I could not help but notice his hands.  I had never paid much attention to them when I was with him, but now they appeared beautiful and seemed to belong to someone many years his junior.  I don't know why I noticed that but I did.

There were a lot of priests in their black Augustinian robes walking around and some folks that looked like dignitaries in suits, etc.  And then there were the little people, the parishioners who grew to love Father so much when he served at St. Rita's.  Outside on the steps of the church was a gentleman who had known Father for years.  I sensed it was a lot for him to grasp, that this stalwart of the faith has now departed from us.  I really had to get to my husband, but I took a few minutes to talk to my friend about his memories of Father. Of all of us who knew him from the Adoration Chapel, I was sure this man was feeling this loss most acutely.   I told him how even on the last day that I saw Father, when he was so weak he could scarcely speak, he still had a reprimand for me, yet our visit ended in gentleness, mercy and love.

"It was right that we should call him Father," my friend said, "because he always acted as a true Father. He was firm when he had to be but always loving."

On the back of the memorial cards that were distributed was an inscription from St. Augustine, where he tells us it is OK to grieve over the death of a loved one, so long as it's not grief without hope.

The grief I feel over Father's passing is nothing to compared to the pain I felt when I realized he would not be returning to active ministry at St. Rita's. I worried I would be lost without my strong spiritual compass, pointing me toward eternal salvation. But  I took those two crutches he gave me - Confession and Adoration - and I used them at every opportunity.  And I tried to get others to use them as well.

Now, there is an added comfort for me in the Eucharist because I know:  Where Christ is, there is Father also.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine. 
Et lux perpetua luceat ei. 

Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per misericordiam Dei reqiescant in pace. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Only Kind of Donation Acceptable for This Catholic Blogger

A colleague I worked with for many years at my former hospital was hit by a car and seriously injured this week.  Please keep her in your prayers.  She has a husband and a young son and seems to have had a run of bad luck with her health these past two years.

Today, I was auditing some charts when I was approached by an elderly lady who was very upset because she had been there the day before with her husband and lost his discharge instructions.  As one of the nurses went to medical records to pull the paperwork she needed, she started telling me about all of her husband's health problems.  She was so frail herself that it seemed impossible she could be caring for anyone but herself but here she was, taking her spouse back and forth for treatment.

"I asked the doctor how long he has and he told me the cancer has grown in the worst way possible in just 3 months.  I don't know if he's going to make it to Christmas and our daughter is coming home from the West Coast for the holidays.  I don't know what to tell her."

This adorable little lady started to cry, and someone ran off to get her a box of tissues.  I listened to her because it seemed like she needed to vent more than she needed to hear anything and she obviously felt safe talking to us.  I could detect despair, confusion, doubt, grief, and resolution all at once.  She dabbed at her eyes and asked me if her make up was OK.

She laughed a little as she said "I can't let him see me like this."

I assured her I would pray for her husband.  Would you please keep him in your prayers too?

Meanwhile, I got a note from a friend last week about the apricot-colored roses that had bloomed with a vengeance in her garden.  She knew I had offered a novena to St. Therese for her dad and she had good news - yes, he was diagnosed with cancer but no, it did not require treatment at this time, just close monitoring.  She was so afraid her father would need chemo and to her, the word cancer struck with less fear than the dreaded medication regimen did.  She know her dad would have a hard time being compliant so what she heard was music to her ears.

This is how I earn my children's livelihood - through prayer.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Traditional Latin Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

St Paul Church at 10th and Christian Streets in Philadelphia will observe the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with a sung Traditional Latin Mass at 7pm on December 8th.  Free parking is available in the schoolyard on Christian Street directly across from the church.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Monastery Walls

Every year, my friend reminds me of the saying I once told her, the one so often used by my grandmother:

"The devil sits on the monastery walls."

I always look with great anticipation to the twice-yearly silent retreats at the Carmelite Monastery, even though I know the worst evil attacks follow it and often happen to catch me off-guard.  This year, the father of lies took another approach:  he made the week preceding it so trying that I nearly didn't get to the retreat at all.

First, I have to say that when I went to work for a Catholic entity, I naively believed that I would see a greatly diminished number of evil people.  Sadly, I was very wrong.  When I shared this observation with a dear friend, she brought me back to reality.  She told me she is convinced that if we had the most simple job in the world, there would still be someone present to test us and to beg, by their behavior, for our prayers and correction.  This is part of what she meant when she told me a few months back that God isn't fooling around with us anymore.  It's time for the rubber to meet the road.

In addition to my trials with difficult personalities,  a hand full of people who come to work each day looking to do as little as possible while making life difficult for others, I had another trial.  The educator who supports my departments made it known weeks ago that he does not welcome my presence.  He is the same person who went so far as to question my Christianity because I dared to hold someone accountable.  He told me that I needed to enroll in a course to earn the required hours in emergency and trauma nursing and I believed him.  I thought it was just going to be a didactic course but I was wrong.  The didactic portion was brief and the rest of the time was taken up by an oral and written exam for which I was not prepared, since emergency nursing isn't my background.  What's more, he gave me the wrong book, so I couldn't even follow the instructor during the lectures.  I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he didn't know any of this when he enrolled me in the course and gave me the book, but it is very hard for me to accept this because of past experience with this person.

On Thursday, at the conclusion of the first of the two-day course, I left with a migraine so severe I didn't know how I was going to drive home without getting ill in the car.  To make matters worse, the setting sun created a glare that seemed barbaric to my throbbing head, and it seemed to me like the sun was mocking me the whole ride.  During the ride, I thought of how I could escape my current fate.  I thought I would go home and collect a few belongings and then go live out on the street, abandoning my family and leaving my kids with no health insurance, no financial support and no mother.  I pictured myself losing all my teeth and being the kind of person others avoid, but it would be ok, because I'd never have to work again.  When I got home, I told my husband how much life insurance I have and how I didn't think I could go on anymore.  What a lovely thing to say to your spouse at any time of year, but especially just a few weeks from Christmas.  What happened to that thing called faith?  What happened to putting all my trust in Jesus?

My husband sent me to bed and told me I'd feel better after lying down for awhile and getting some relief for my headache.  He was right.  When I got up, I decided I would go back to the class in the morning and explain to the instructors that I realized I did not have to take the course and that I was sorry if I had wasted anyone's time but that I was not prepared for this course and I didn't want them to spend too much time with me.

I pulled one of the instructors aside and explained my plight.  She agreed that I did not need the course to fulfill my requirements but since I had come this far, I might as well do the rest.  So with my head still throbbing from the day before, I took the written and oral exam that afternoon.  I passed the former on the first try and the latter on the second.  It was all I could do not to throw up in a trash can.   It wasn't pretty, but I passed.  I drove him again with a pounding headache and the sun continuing to mock me as it blinded me and made the ride that more agonizing.

It was then that I realized that it was the first Friday of the month and that for the first time in over 5 years, I had missed the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart.  I feebly struggled to pray the Rosary on the way home.  I realized that I needed to go to confession but at this late hour, I would never make it in time.

I also remembered the words of my beloved Father Jim, that Christ would never ask me to run myself ragged for Him.  He would not demand that I should drive myself to the point where I was ready to give up.  That kind of thinking comes from the father of lies, disguised as fake piety and unrealistic obligation.   Instead of dragging myself to my appointed Adoration hour at 8pm,  I realized that what I needed most was sleep, so I said my prayers in my room and then went to bed.  I was needed at the retreat early in the morning.

As God would have it, at the retreat the next day, I happened to be helping clean up when the priests who would be hearing confession arrived.  My friend who had organized the day said to me "I don't know if you need to go or not, but if you want, why don't you ask Father to hear your confession first, since you're already up here and the convocation isn't over yet?"  It was music to my ears.  I would ask and receive forgiveness for surrendering to despair.

God gave me another gift yesterday.  Rebecca awoke feeling under the weather, but she wouldn't hear of not going to the retreat.  She took some ibuprofen for her throat and dressed in layers and spent the day with her mother at the Carmel.  She observed the silence perfectly, did not complain once, and wore the look of angelic beauty that endears her to me so much.  It was her first retreat in a place that is full of reminders of the suffering Christ.  I thought of how the Lord had endowed her such patience and love that at 15, she would be willing to give up her Saturday to get up before dawn and spend the day in service of Him, when she was feeling less than fit to do so.  I thought of her siblings and how they would never have agreed to come in the first place, and how if they did, they would have tortured me to leave and plagued me with guilt for the fact that I dragged them out sick.

The other day, the oldest said something to me that reminded me that there is no blade so sharp as a child's tongue.

"Rebecca was raised by a different mother than I was," she said, matter-of-factly, her words stinging in the way they were meant to sting.  She's right about that and not a day goes by that I don't hold myself responsible for the fact that she is again away from the Church and the Sacraments.

The last gift of the day would come when I got home and received word that Father Galligan had passed and gone home to be with the Lord.

Every day after Holy Communion, I pray the Anima Christi.

"From the malignant enemy, defend me".

He will, but only if I permit Him to do so by trusting Him so completely, despair seeks some other place to reside.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Received Into Heaven With Joy

Today, at the conclusion of the Silent Retreat, we were reminded to pray for my priest friend that I went to visit a few weeks ago.  Father had round the clock hospice care and had discussed his wishes for his funeral with his family this week and it was believed by those around him that he would very soon be received into Heaven.  My friend reminded everyone how Father started Eucharistic Adoration at St. Rita's, where he had been stationed twice in his long ministry, and also, of his devotion to the Divine Mercy.

Shortly after praying the chaplet with his family, our beloved Father Jim passed away this afternoon, on the first Saturday of the month, on the feast of St. Francis Xavier, surrounded by many priests and family members.  What a privilege for a wretch like me to have known this very holy man, the only real spiritual director I ever had.

Please remember Father in your prayers, praying not only for his soul, but to him with your intentions.  With the exception of Father Benedict Groeschel, I have never been in the presence of priest so holy, yet so humble and so sweet and generous.

I will write more about Father Jim a bit later.  I cried when I received the news, not with sadness, but with the kind of joy that only comes from God, Who saw fit to call His son home on the First Saturday of the month, a day dedicated to Mary, Mother of priests.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Did One Nun Say to the Other?

This is priceless.

For a few days now, one of the sisters has been using the lame duck responses.  Just when I was sure it was because she was being recalcitrant (there goes that judgment thing again) I overheard this, spoken with charming Irish brogues.

"What's the matter with you?  Can't you get with it?  You've been using the wrong responses all week."

"Look at my face.  What do you see missing?  I misplaced my glasses and I can't read the darn book without them.  I'm doing the best I can!"

Maybe I  have a weird sense of humor, but I thought it was adorable.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Hand-Holding Thing and Other Minor Annoyances

Only once did someone have the effrontery to grab my hand during the Our Father.  I made sure ever since then to adopt the more appropriate posture of folding my hands upright in prayer (I had the down by my side when the sneak attack occurred).

A few weeks ago we were at a meeting when our leader announced the news that one of our colleagues was facing a dire prognosis with cancer.  She asked us to pray and told us to join hands.  I have managed to wiggle my way out of the things that I find wrong (like receiving a "blessing" from someone who is not a priest) but what to do with things that are simply uncomfortable?

Offer it up, what else. I wish I could say I did the same with my next item.

A few nights ago, I ran into one of the "old guard" at my parish.  She wasn't exactly enthralled with the op-ed piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer because, in her words, it gave the impression that "the majority of our parishioners approve of this Mass."  I told her I didn't get that impression at all and besides, that was a very narrow and uncharitable way to view the piece.

"Very few of our parishioners go to that Mass".  It was then that I took the opportunity to remind her that I am a parishioner and I am a regular at that Mass.  I then decided to take things a step further.  I seized this as an opportunity to ask this woman why the loud chatter before and after Mass does not disturb her as much as an article about the Latin Mass.  I was just getting warmed up.  I asked her why she has never complained about the hit and run Catholics who stroll in late and leave Mass directly from the Holy Communion line.  I asked her why she has never addressed her friend who likes to talk in the same volume that she would out on the street. I told her that these offenses never, ever happen at the Traditional Latin Mass.  I also reminded her that little by little, more and more of the older parishioners are coming to the TLM. As for "parishioners", I told her to consider how many new families had joined the parish since the inception of this Mass.

 I left her speechless.

 I'm not sure it was right or charitable for me to respond this way. I felt like maybe I had taken some of my frustration about the abuses I see out on her, but she opened the door and maybe, just maybe, she'll think twice before she decides to chat it up in church or condemn something as sacred as the TLM.

Monday, November 28, 2011

In the Most Unlikely Places

I haven't really heard anyone personally complain about the new translation, but I have to confess that I expected a certain amount of resistance at the chapel where I attend Mass during the week.  I would be wrong!  Not only did the priest use the word "brethren" as indicated, but the usual suspects ceased and desisted from using gender-neutral language when referring to God the Father.  It was music to my ears.

Plus, two days in a row, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a positive article about the Catholic church - yesterday's op-ed about the TLM and today's piece on the new translation.  Today's article even cast the one naysayer as appropriately grumpy.

Encourage  people who think the changes are too difficult to learn to practice often by attending daily Mass.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Op-Ed Piece in Today's Philadelphia Inquirer on the TLM

Latin Mass tradition inspires in S. Phila.

The Rev. Gerald P. Carey gives out Holy Communion during the Latin Mass celebrated at St. Paul
The Rev. Gerald P. Carey gives out Holy Communion during the Latin Mass celebrated at St. Paul's Parish, South Philadelphia.
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 By Frank Wilson
Today is the First Sunday of Advent, marking the start of a new liturgical year. On this particular Sunday, a significant change is taking place for Roman Catholics around the country: A new translation of the 2002 third edition of the Roman Missal will be introduced. From now on, for example, the Latin words Et cum spiritu tuowill be translated correctly as "And with your spirit."

None of this will have any effect on the Mass celebrated at noon every Sunday at St. Paul's Parish in South Philadelphia. That Mass - known as the Latin or Tridentine Mass - follows the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal that had been in use from 1570. It is rarely said because, in 1969, the Mass of Paul VI (sometimes called theNovus Ordo) became what is now referred to as the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, and the English Mass most American Catholics are now familiar with.

The Rev. Gerald P. Carey, 44, the pastor of St. Paul's, is too young to have grown up with the Latin Mass. He came to know it by way of music. An organist, Carey is a graduate of the Westminster Choir College in Princeton. It was there that he became familiar with the great choral settings of the Mass by Renaissance composers such as Josquin Des Prez, Palestrina, and Monteverdi, as well as such modern settings as the Duruflé Requiem. And it is such polyphonic settings of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei that one hears St. Paul's five-member choir singing at the noon Mass.

What especially impressed Carey was the way in which the music illuminated the liturgy and the doctrine underlying it.

"You look at those works and you wonder how the settings worked in the liturgy," he says. "A classic example would be the Sanctus and Benedictus. Why did they compose them separately? The basic idea, I think, is that the first part - 'Holy, Holy, Holy' - would be done after the Preface, and the text 'Blessed is He who comes' would be sung after the Consecration, because Our Lord is then present at the altar. Once the Consecration has been effected, we can say the words of the Benedictus."

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI gave every priest the right to say the Latin Mass privately. In addition, his document Summorum Pontificum stated that "in parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962."
Carey became pastor of St. Paul's in June 2008, and celebrated his first Latin Mass there on Jan. 25 of the following year.

Among those attending that day was Thomas Rudolph, 65. A lifelong Episcopalian, Rudolph had drifted away from practicing his faith. "I visited a good many Catholic churches," he says. "Then I saw an online invitation to Father Carey's first Tridentine Mass. . . . Now, in order for the Tridentine Mass to be ... as glorious as it can be and a real teaching tool, it has to be as finely done as possible, and that includes, obviously, the actions of the priest. Father Carey comported himself in a way that was remarkable."

Over the next few months, Rudolph and Carey became close friends, and in July 2009 Rudolph became a Roman Catholic. "I was received into the Church because of this Mass," he says.
What takes place at St. Paul's usually is a sung Mass. The texts are sung throughout, either in plainchant or polyphony.

I'm a member of St. Paul's parish who is old enough to have grown up hearing the Mass in Latin. But the Masses in those days tended to be low Masses in more than one sense - they were often called "mumble Masses." There's no mumbling at St. Paul's. The sacred texts are clearly articulated throughout, and the sense of the Mass as a drama reenacting Christ's redemptive sacrifice is palpable. The aesthetic factor is not an add-on, but an integral part of the ceremony.
Perhaps surprisingly, at least half of those attending this Mass on any given Sunday are young people. Joyce Roman and her daughter, Rebecca, regularly attend, but both are also too young to have grown up with the older Mass. "For me, this is not about the past," Joyce Roman says. "It's about the world to come. It's the closest thing to heaven I know of." Rebecca, a sophomore at nearby Academy at Palumbo, concurs: "People who say that it's old or outdated should figure out what the right reason is to come to Mass," she says.

Henry and Susan Torrie, both 40, were raised Catholic, but had drifted away from the practice of their faith. However, as Henry Torrie explained in an e-mail, "our concern for our children's formation and the desire for them to grow up within a strong and clear moral framework drew us back to the Church. We'd read about the Tridentine Mass . . . and when we heard [about the Mass at St. Paul's] we went . . . and were floored by the reverence, depth, majesty, and beauty of the rite."

The Torries and their two children, Joshua, 8, and Ani, 6, now drive every Sunday from Prospect Park to attend Mass at St. Paul's. In fact, father and son are both servers at the Mass. Henry Torrie says that "we see a natural reverence growing in our children that we feel is coming largely from their attendance at the traditional Mass." His son apparently agrees. "I like helping the priest," Joshua says. "It makes me feel special, and I love being up close at the altar."
Just as those in the pews are likely to feel close to God.