Saturday, April 30, 2011

Angelic Faces and Voices

As is apt to happen with those who are patient ( I was not) a better version of this hymn was posted, one that allows you to see the faces.  These are the sounds I expect to hear from the Heavenly Host.  If mere mortals, born with the stain of Original Sin, have been gifted with such voices, what then will we hear when we are finally called home?

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard, what God has prepared for those who love Him."

Friday, April 29, 2011

So Beautiful, It Hurts to Listen

My daughter was watching replays of the wedding, when this sound caught my ears.  I felt like my heart was being squeezed in a vice as I listened. I glanced over at her and I could see that she, too, was in pain.  The hymn is Ubi Caritas.   The composer is the Welshman, Paul Mealor.  I hope not to discover that he is an atheist or some other dreadful thing that would cause scandal.  I would love to hear this at  Roman Catholic Mass.

The Royal Mews

I really couldn't care less about the nuptials at Westminster today, though I wish the newlyweds well.  What interests me are the Cleveland Bays and Windsor Greys - the equines that make up the Queen's Royal Mews.  A long time ago, I rode at a barn that was home to F Troop. No, not the hapless regiment that was the stuff of a hilarious comedy in the 60's.  F Troop actually stood for First City Troop and contained a hodge-podge of horses, most of them rejects, used by the City of Philadelphia for parades and other special occasions.  It was a miracle none of the riders were ever maimed or killed because the beasts that comprised this entourage were nothing like the well-trained, well-bred and perfectly-behaved steeds that live in service of Her Royal Majesty.

The Crazy Things We Do For Love

St. Peter jumped out of a boat and swam to shore, though we're told he was "lightly-clad".  St. Mary Magdalene was prepared to carry Our Lord's Body back to the tomb.  A Roman centurion steps up to Our Lord in a crowd of people and asks Him to say the word and heal his servant.  And how about Our Lady?  She agrees to carry the Son of God, not knowing how her betrothed or anyone else for that matter will react to her news.

The father of the prodigal son?  He not only endures it when his son  effectively says to him "You're as good as dead to me, so give me my inheritance and I will be on my way", but he kills the fatted calf and prepares a feast like none other upon his destitute son's return.

And there is no more dramatic or profound demonstration of love than giving up one's life willingly by death on a cross.

Sitting in church for a brief bit after Mass this morning, I looked up at the massive Crucifix behind the altar and could not believe that scarcely a week ago, we were contemplating Our Lord's Passion and Death and fasting from food and anything visually beautiful (in church anyway).  Today, the priest wore white vestments, the altar was adorned with flowers casting off the scent of paradise,   we said the Gloria and the Liturgy of the Hours continued to come from Easter Sunday.

Our Beloved did some things that the world would view as folly.  Coming into the world in a barn, and leaving it the first time from the wood of the cross.  Remaining with us in the gilded prison of the tabernacle that houses His Body and Blood.  And the world sees the way we try to return that love as equal folly.  Praying before the Blessed Sacrament and knowing that Christ waits for us in the disguise of the bread consecrated by His priests.  Making every effort to receive Him in Holy Communion as often as we can. Longing to be near Him in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  And forgoing all the empty allurements the world has to offer in order to gain admittance into the Heavenly Banquet where He awaits us with great longing, just as He longed to eat the last Passover meal with His disciples.

As St Therese said: "I no longer have any desire except to love Jesus even to folly"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are These the Chastisements?

There seems to be  no end to the unusual and violent natural events.  Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Hurricanes. Floods. Tornadoes. Blizzards. Ice storms.  It's hard not to wonder if these are signs of the chastisements Our Lady spoke of at Fatima and at Akita.  I happened upon a website that talked about the Three Days of Darkness.  I wasn't frightened for myself, but it made me terrified for those I love who have turned away from God and even outright rejected Him.  I would be curious to know what priests think.  I think it's probably neither healthy or advisable from a spiritual standpoint to read too much about such events.

Tonight after dinner I needed to get flowers for the belated secretaries' day celebration we are having tomorrow that became my responsibility by default.  The sky was all kinds of insane colors.  Pink clouds, black clouds and brilliant patches of blue peeking through.  A flash of lightning here, some raindrops there.  I decided to chance it.  And I thought of Christ's words in Matthew's Gospel:

How is it that you can discern the face of the sky, but you cannot read the signs of the times?

I don't have an answer to that question, but I think it would be prudent to keep ourselves in what one of my former OR nurses would call " a maximal state of readiness."

1. Still not praying the Rosary?  There is no time like the present. If you still think it's too rote a prayer, maybe you'll consider that Our Lady herself wants you to pray it.  What more proof do you need?  Make the effort and she will help you with the rest.

2.  Confess your sins on a regular basis.

3.  Go to Mass and receive Holy Communion as often as you can.  Offer them for the intention of fallen-away family members and friends.  I know not everyone lives in area with access to daily Mass.  In that case, pause once  a day and reflect upon the fact that somewhere in the world, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered.  Make a spiritual communion.

4.  Let us continue to pray for one another and for our priests.

Thank You, Welcome, and God Bless You!

I admit that ever since I discovered the "Stats" button, I have taken a peek more than once to see how many people visit, what brings them here, etc.  I can't tell you how edifying it is to report that I've had triple the number of visitors today, all because of Charles Untz.  Tina at Voices for Life decided to link to my post on her Facebook page, which explains the jump in the number of followers and the "spike" in stats.  All because of a very holy young man who departed this world virtually unknown to anyone but his family and friends. And all for the glory of God.

It was never my intention to start a blog to write about myself, although that sometimes happens.  The reason this blog exists is to hopefully bring souls closer to Jesus.  That includes mine.  A special thank you to Tina and all the wonderful people she brought here.  I am very committed to Charles' cause and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your part in helping to further it.

Charles, please continue to pray for us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Divine Mercy Sunday

As previously published, Divine Mercy Sunday will be observed at the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia starting with a Holy Hour at 2pm, followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 3 pm. The faithful will also have an opportunity to venerate a relic of Pope John Paul II, who will be beatified in Rome on Sunday.  The celebrant for the Mass is Father Kevin McGoldrick.  The Monastery is located at 66th Street and Old York Road (nearly the end of North Broad Street) and parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Monastery on 66th Street.   I'm told the Avila Bookstore will be open following the conclusion of the Mass.

St. Nicholas of Tolentine in South Philadelphia (9th and Watkins Streets) will also hold services observing the Feast of Divine Mercy.

3:00PM Procession and Devotions
3:15PM Chaplet and Confessions Begin
4:00PM Rosary
5:25PM Benediction
6:00PM Mass

At St. Peter the Apostle Church at 5th Street and Girard Avenue (which is also the shrine of St. John Neumann) the Archdiocesan Boys' Choir will lead the Divine Mercy Chant, followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

If anyone has information about any other observances of Divine Mercy Sunday in the Philadelphia area, let us know in the comments.  Thanks.

Over the Top

In our house, we have old standards at Christmas and at Easter that we never tire of watching.  At Easter, The Robe is a perennial favorite, and I'm almost ashamed to admit that Jay Robinson as Caligula is a major reason why.  I found this compilation of most of his scenes.    Whenever I watch this movie, the Love Theme plays over and over again in my head for days.  Perhaps I'll post a link to it if I can find it.  In the meantime, take a gander at Robinson's over-the-top performance, but fasten your seat belts first.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More on Charles Untz

I notice that at least once a week, someone in search of information on Charles Untz happens upon my blog.  Here is a repeat of an article I linked to earlier about Charles.  It's deeply moving and nothing short of astounding.

One year ago, I posted a column on our website about Servant of God, Francis J. Parater, an Eagle Scout, who died in 1919 while studying in Rome for the priesthood. I proposed him as a worthy candidate to one day be the patron saint for the Boy Scouts.
This morning, my co-worker, Russell LaPlume, handed me a prayer card for another Eagle Scout, eighteen-year-old Charles Anthony Francis Untz, who died on March 20, 2000, after being hit by a car as he was walking to work.
What you are about to read in this column is a brief account of a life that will leave you saying: “In this day and age? I can’t believe it.”  This is how I felt after reading the story of another young man, from Italy, who died of leukemia a couple of years ago at the age of fifteen. Carlo Acutis, a popular youngster with a heart of gold, never missed daily Mass and Rosary from the time of his First Holy Communion. I wrote about him in our February/March Mancipia in 2008. You can also read about him here.
Charles Untz and Francis Parater lived a century apart, the former was from Minnesota, the latter, Virginia. Parater offered his life for the conversion of Virginia to the Catholic Faith. Carlo Acutis offered his life for the Church and the pope.  Charles Untz offered his life to Mary, whom he called “My Lady.”
He was born to Steven and Ellen Untz on March 6, 1982 and baptized on April 25. He received his First Holy Communion on May 13, 1990, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima.  Soon after his First Communion, an eight-year-old Charles was allowed to become an altar boy at St. John Bosco parish in Stamford, Vermont. For the next five years Charles served the altar at that church, while also doing volunteer work mowing the lawns and shoveling snow for the pastor.  When his family moved to North Adams, Massachusetts, the generous youngster continued serving Mass and helping out with the lands keeping of the parish church of St. Francis of Assisi.  In 1996, the Untz family moved to Andover, Minnesota, where they continued giving their time and service to help out at Epiphany Church, which was about two miles from their small farm.
For all of these years Charles was home schooled by his mother who followed the very successful Seton Home School Study program. So far, you may be thinking, “Well, he is certainly a generous young man, and pious, but what’s so extraordinary about him that would make him stand out above other young men who love to serve Mass, and who are also generous souls?”  I’ll introduce my answer to that question with a quote from what Charles wrote on his entrance application for college, after graduating from the Seton program: “I go to Eucharistic Adoration and Mass almost every morning before school. I think that this sets a better mood for the day.”
Charles Anthony Francis Untz was a very quiet young man, not shy, but quiet. He harbored a desire to become a Franciscan priest or brother, but he also had applied for college. There was a girl that he was close friends with, but that is as far as it went. He had actually counseled her in an email to recite the Divine Office daily, which he had done ever since he was eleven.  He also gave her this advice concerning the things of this world: “Don’t let yourself get caught up in that never ending cycle.  Keep in mind that Heaven is the ultimate goal of life, all other goals and things should be directed in attaining it.”  His other friends thought highly of him, and being males, they did at times jibe him about his piety.  Someone once heard a friend of his ask him if he ever committed a sin — and he wasn’t talking about a mortal sin. The question alone, even if in jest, tells a lot about Charles’ character.
I could not find out at what age Charles joined the Boy Scouts, but he did advance to the highest rank and he was also awarded with the Order of the Arrow. In attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in 1998, Charles penned these words for the “Ambition and Life Purpose” question: “My life purpose is to do the will of God. I feel he is leading me to become a priest or brother in the Franciscan order. My ambition in life is to become a saint. There is nothing harder to achieve than this, but I will continue to strive for it.”
When it came to farming, Charles had mastered all the skills of the entire operation, and he was good with his hands. And strong hands they were.  His father had hung a thick mooring rope, which he had kept from a submarine stint in the Navy, from some beam, and Charles would climb the rope daily for exercise.  His mother, who had studied to be a veterinarian, had taught him much about animals. Charles was especially adept at training and riding horses. But he had other skills as well, including carpentry, electronics, and computer technology.
Everyone that knew Charles, including priests who heard his confessions, remarked about his purity. He was always defensive in warding off any word of impropriety or disrespect concerning the opposite sex.  Because he was pure, Charles could not help but be chivalrous. The Lady of his heart was the Mother of God. He had designed his own brown scapular with Mary’s holy name written on one of the pieces of cloth with twelve stars circled around it and “My Lady” written on the other.
Here we have a young man who three or four times a week (when he wasn’t working at his part time job) attended morning Mass and Eucharistic adoration, recited the hours of the Divine Office daily, prayed the Rosary daily, and also did all kinds of volunteer work at his parish. A particular project that Charles delighted in was organizing youth retreats. He loved to go on retreats and when he did he would spend the whole night in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.  After one of these retreats some people noticed that the face of this young man of prayer seemed to be literally aglow.
Because of all of his work at Epiphany and other parishes Charles got to know many priests. In an article written by Mara Poole, one priest is quoted as saying, “I believe that Charles made me a better priest, because he took the priesthood so seriously.  When you looked into his eyes when he was talking with you, you saw such devotion and respect that it made you want to be better than what you were so you could be worthy of that.  And every priest who met him said the same thing, he just made you want to be even better.”  And another who knew him well proclaims, “I have worked with thousands of souls, and Charles’ was the purest.”  In fact, this writer notes that the priests who heard his frequent confessions are convinced that he preserved his baptismal innocence.
The morning of March 20, 2000, was as typical as any. Mrs. Untz was tutoring her son Bryant, and Charles was in his office doing some school work before going to his nine o’clock job across the street at the turkey farm. When he came out of his room his mother noticed something unusual about his countenance, and, as she rose to say “goodbye, I love you” and wish him a good day “with the turkeys,” as she was wont to do, she found herself unable to say what she always said. Charles went out the door and his mother went back to her tutoring.
A short time later Mrs. Untz heard sirens coming up the road. In her own words this is what happened:
“We heard emergency sirens and they seemed to stop at our house.  I went to our front door to look out and all I saw was an empty ditch.  However, I know now that Charles was there, the car that hit him, the emergency vehicles and the bystanders.  I went back upstairs and Bryant and I prayed for those in the accident.  And then continued the schoolwork.
“A police officer came to our door and asked if we had seen anything.  She said there had been an accident and wondered if we had seen anything.  She wasn’t supposed to go door to door, but something had told her to come to my door.  Charles hadn’t any ID on him.  I ran across the street to the turkey farm in hope that he was there.  Charles had already been transported.  I started to pray Hail Marys.  His employer met me on the driveway and said Charles hadn’t checked in for work.  I asked him to double check while I ran back home.  The police offered to call a priest, and I asked them to call Epiphany Catholic Church and request a priest to come to the hospital.  I left Bryant at home and the officer drove me to the hospital.
“When we got to the hospital, the doctors didn’t want to let us in, but I saw a foot and a hand and said I was 90% sure it was Charles.  Then I asked if they had found a Benedictine crucifix and brown scapular, which they handed me.  It was Charles’.  As I watched, Charles was struggling for breath as one on a crucifix does.  However, all I felt was calm acceptance, there was no mad dash to storm heaven for a miracle.  I asked the officer to bring Bryant to the hospital for me and to contact the grandparents, and I called my husband.  All I got was his answering machine.  I hated to leave that kind of message, but I did.  I kept calling back in hopes I would catch him before he heard the message.
“Fr. Tom Wilson arrived.  I knelt by Charles’ bed as Fr. Tom administered last rites. Charles had not regained consciousness since he was hit.
“As we waited for word from the doctors, I reminisced with Fr. Tom about Charles and I remember saying that I knew he was a gift from God, that he was God’s and that he was only on loan to me.
“Steve and Bryant arrived.  Charles died with all of his family and Fr. Tom around him.  We said our good byes.”
All during the time of the wake and funeral, as guests came and went offering their condolences, Mrs. Untz kept wondering why she couldn’t say “I love you” to her son as he left the house that morning. A man named Daniel stopped by. He said that he was driving by shortly after the accident.  Pulling over, he found the EMT’s treating the driver of the car that hit Charles.  Then he found Charles lying face down in a ditch. He turned the victim over and held his hand until the EMT’s came.  He said that he had to stop by and tell the family, parent to parent, that their son had not been alone. Then he said that as he was holding Charles’ hand he sensed something that he immediately knew had to be the presence of God. The policewoman, who had come to the house after the ambulance took Charles away, also stopped by the farm. She, too, wanted the family to know that she felt God’s presence as she touched their son’s hand in the ambulance. She testified that after that experience her life could never be the same.
Even though she felt a certain peace, and was resigned to God’s will, Ellen Untz could not shake the question that so heavily troubled her.  Why could she not speak to her son as he left that morning?  The answer to that question finally came:
“One day one of my friends offhandedly mentioned to me she saw Charles at Mass on the Monday he died.  I told her he didn’t go that day, since because of the farm chores we only go on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to the 6:30 am.  Monday the Mass is at 8:20 am.  I passed it off as she made an error, but continued to pray about it.  Then it dawned on me.  I contacted her to grill her for information.  How did she know it was that Monday, March 20?  Then she shared her incredible story.  She was lector for that Mass.  She always prepares for reading by asking the Saint of the Day to help.  Monday, March 20, 2000 was unusual because St. Joseph’s Feast Day was moved from March 19th  to March 20th because it had fallen on Sunday.  She looked up as she was reading the scripture and she saw Charles engrossed in the word, totally intent, and immersed.  I had my answer.  Charles had been given the gift of bilocation.  If I had spoken to him, I would have robbed him of this miraculous gift.  And it doesn’t stop here.  With the timing of the accident, He would have received Jesus in the Eucharist at Epiphany [Church], then been in heaven with Jesus and Mary, brought there by Saint Joseph her spouse.  Charles never was there by the side of the road.  He was at Epiphany, then in heaven.  Only the empty shell was hit by the car.”
One day, a short time after Charles death, his mother was looking for something in his room. She came across an envelope addressed to “Mary.” Opening it she found a card, a Mother’s Day card, from Charles to “My Lady.”
This is a brief story of the mortal life of Charles Anthony Francis Untz.  His everlasting and eternal life began March 20 eight years ago as the Church was celebrating the feast of Saint Joseph. Father Constantine Belisarius, a Melkite priest and counselor at the Seton Home Study School in Front Royal, Virginia, has taken up the cause of Charles. He is currently writing the story of his life under the title My Lady’s Knight.

Tell Me Where You Have Laid Him, And I Will Carry Him Away

This reflection is not my own, it was the basis of the homily at Mass this morning.

Father pointed out the impossibility of Mary Magdalene's love.  She is so consumed with love for the Lord that she makes the incredulous statement that if the gardener will just tell her where he has laid Him, she will go get Him, all by herself, and carry Him away.  The greatness of her love would be all she'd need to help in this seemingly impossible feat - a woman carrying a dead man's body all by herself from one place to another.

When we love as we ought to love, we will do anything for our Beloved.  Father touched on a very simple but powerful notion - that we should thirst more and more for Our Lord.  We should pray that our thirst will only grow so that every day, we will seek Him.  I think this is the basis of St. Bonaventure's prayer, which I have permanently posted on my blog and which I pray at the TLM after Holy Communion ( I really ought to print it somewhere for myself so I can pray at daily Mass as well.)

Now that Lent is over, Mass has thinned out a bit.  Perhaps those who came to daily Mass worked out a temporary agreement with their employer to be able to get there during Lent and perhaps now that arrangement has reached its conclusion.  Whatever the case may be, I am so grateful that I can get to Mass most mornings.  There are times when I think I'd like to pick vegetables all day rather than do the job I do with all its aggravation.  But then I remember that my job allows me to get to daily Mass, and when I consider that, the aggravation seems a minute price to pay.

I heard a priest on EWTN discuss the greatest sin of our times.  No, it's not abortion, or homosexual acts or any of the other heinous things that come to mind.  The worst sin is the loss of the sense of sin.


I'm a bit cranky these days.  My sister is getting married in July.  She was raised Catholic as was her fiancee.  Neither of them practice the faith.  My sister is divorced.  She and her ex-husband were like a bottle of gasoline and a lit match.  Things are much quieter in this relationship.  We urged her to seek an annulment so they could get married in church.  She said it was too much trouble.  Her fiancee, who was never married before, said he sees no point in it because he doesn't want anything to do with the Catholic church because of the abuse scandal.  So they found a place to have their wedding, she has a dress, he has his bachelor party planned, the bridal party has been selected, all of the details have been addressed except one major one - they have no one to marry them.  My sister even called a rabbi, who told her she couldn't officiate if any of the readings mentioned the name of Christ.  In the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, anyone can officiate at a civil wedding ceremony, provided the couple has a valid license.  My sister actually asked me if I would consider marrying them.  I wanted to throw up, to be honest.  I told her absolutely not and I asked to consider once again seeking an annulment so a priest could marry them.  Nope, she said.  The arrangements have all been made, and she's not changing the day or anything else to accommodate a priest's schedule.

I just received an invitation to the bridal shower.  It's on Sunday, May 22nd at Noon.  I go to the TLM at Noon on Sundays.  It's also St. Rita's Feast Day.  I am probably not going to the shower.  For one thing, I did my part at my sister's first wedding.  She had a lovely shower at a restaurant on a Wednesday evening.  I really want no part of this wedding, but of course, there's the family peace that must be kept.  I think it's enough that I'll be at the wedding.

Did I mention I'm cranky?



Monday, April 25, 2011

Thankful it's Easter

I don't know about you, but as we approach the end of Lent, it never seems like it's long enough.  But then, by the time we're nearing the last leg of the Triduum, I can't wait for the joy of the Resurrection.   This Lent, I was determined not to miss a single day of Mass.  This did not come easily, especially in the final days.  Palm Sunday and then Monday and Tuesday, I got deathly ill at Mass.  It was only by the grace of God and the saints that I called on that I made it through.  Tuesday was especially dreadful.  Except for the headache on Sunday, the other episodes came on without warning.  Tuesday evening, I nearly crawled home from church.  I think the devil finally gave up on me after that because by Wednesday, I was fine.

At the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, our priest washed the feet of 12 men, six on each side of the altar.  At the conclusion of mandatum, he gathered them, six on either side, and together they bowed to the Blessed Sacrament. At the consecration, Father said the words in Latin, and then as he has done every previous Holy Thursday, the faithful were invited to kneel at the altar rail for Holy Communion.

We were blessed to have an outstanding cantor at both that Mass and again at the Easter Vigil.  When he sang the responsorial, "Our blessing cup is a communion with the Blood of the Lord", I nearly started to cry, it was so beautiful.  Same for the way he sang "Pange Lingua" as the priest processed with the ciborium to the altar of repose.  Thankfully, people left in silence Thursday evening.  We stayed for compline, and then headed to a few other churches for adoration.

Early Friday, we had morning prayer in front of the altar of repose, followed by Stations of the Cross at Noon and then the reading of the Passion, Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion at 3pm.  Unfortunately, the good behavior from the previous evening did not carry over into Good Friday.  At the conclusion of services, one particularly gregarious parishioner was really yukking it up in the back of the church.  Call me rude,  but you will never call me irreverent.  I put my finger over my lip and slipped out the door in silence.  Would people leave a funeral that way?  Never mind, don't answer that question.

Saturday morning we again had prayer and readings from the daily office, and it was with great joy that I entered the darkened church that evening for the Great Vigil.  My joy did not last long as the time I had hoped to spend in quiet prayer was disrupted by the usual suspects who are completely devoid of self-control.  Apparently, the darkness is an invitation for them to talk even more.  I threw my hands up in defeat. It didn't matter.  The Mass was beautiful.   I was happy to see that Father had the assistance of three of the servers from the Latin Mass crew.  I was also very happy that some of the regulars at the TLM joined us for the entire Triduum.  By and large, they do not attend Mass in the Ordinary Form at our parish but I'm hoping they will now do so more often.  I'm also hoping they exert an influence on the well-meaning but talkative regulars.
They made Holy Communion more interesting, that's for sure.  Most of them opted to drop to their knees and receive the Lord kneeling.  I would like to have joined them, but with my back issues, I would have created an awkward and undignified scene trying to get up from the floor.  I really wish Father would arrange some accommodation at the Ordinary Form for those who wish to kneel.

My son served his first Holy Thursday Mass and then his first Easter Vigil at a nearby parish.  My husband went with him, which is just as well. My son was somewhat horrified that there were guitars instead of the organ at the Easter Vigil.  My husband wasn't fazed in the least, which should explain to you by now why we rarely to go Mass together.   I also noticed that at that same parish, an examination of conscience was prepared that listed social justice issues first and the Ten Commandment second.  Interesting, to say the least.  I called my pastor and asked him to please consider accepting my son as an altar server for the Novus Ordo at our parish.  I worry about what else he will see.

Incidentally, the kids know they are expected to keep absolute silence on Good Friday between Noon and 3pm.  My husband, who is really my fourth child,  interpreted this to mean he could go downstairs and play his drums.  He opted not to go to church with us on Good Friday as he normally does and when we returned home, he was banging away . I hope you all pray for me because some day, I really might throttle him once and for all.

I read in the newspaper today where the Chinese are  cracking down on Christian churches.  Apparently, you either join a state-run church or you join nothing at all.  Easter has become more and more tenuous for Christians in Iraq since the war.  And meanwhile, in this country, I have family members who couldn't be bothered going to Mass yesterday.

Sorry for the rambling.

He is risen.  May all of us rise with Him.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Lord's Descent Into Hell

"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.
Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.
The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.
‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.
‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.
‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.
'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.
`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.
‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.
"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."

A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Signing Off for Holy Week

I'm going to let the old laptop collect some dust this week.  Yesterday at Mass I found myself thinking of something I wanted to say on my blog, and I realized that when that happens, I'm being told something and need to listen.  Nothing I can say or think bears so much importance that it should distract me from the Holy Sacrifice.  I have also had a splitting headache that I'm not bearing very well and already, I've done about 50 things that I need to confess to a priest before I would even think of presenting myself for Holy Communion again.  Shameful.

I hope you all have a blessed Holy Week and I'll see you again when He is risen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Doctor Is In

I don't normally give anything up for Lent anymore.  Typically what happens is that I see or think about something I want, and then decide whether or not to deny myself of it, whether that be food, sleep, blogging, etc.  I prefer to try to add a spiritual activity and hopefully, make that devotion part of my everyday practice once Lent is over.  That way, from year to year, my prayer life can grow a little bit at a time.

This Lent, I think the Lord chose my crosses especially for me.  And in His infinite mercy and goodness, He also gave me the grace to accept them a little more readily than I usually would.  It's almost as if He is trying to tell me those areas where I need to grow and so He decided, not me, what I needed to do.

For one thing, I am learning to get by on very little sleep without turning into Dragon Lady.  He has sent a few crosses that make that sacrifice quite possible. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop because I am not someone who does well on too little sleep.  However, when I wake up in the morning, the thought of missing Mass is enough to propel me into action.  That is a longing that can only come from God's grace, and not on any heroism or great sacrifice on my part.

The other cross is being forced to deal patiently with people I would rather avoid.  One of my nurses is going through a terrible divorce.  I'd like to ask her what she thought would happen when she hooked up with man who left his wife and infant son for her. A leopard never changes its spots.   It's all I can do not to say anything about that.  She goes on and on each day about the previous night's drama with him and I know she really doesn't have anyone else to talk to, so I have to listen.  I didn't need her to ask me to pray for her.  I would have figured that out on my own.

Worse than that, a very difficult employee with a flair for drama and controversy had to be put in her place.  She got very nasty with me a few weeks ago about an issue I had to counsel her on and it was difficult not to respond in kind.  Apparently, she's either had a change of heart or she realized that as her boss, I can make life very difficult for her, so she came to me yesterday with a literal sob story.  Not much of it made any sense, but I was compelled to listen.  After she finished crying enough that it seemed like she emptied my Kleenex box, she asked me for a hug.  I felt like Dr. Evil as I forced myself to embrace her.  Thank you Lord.

Last, one of my housekeeping people came to me, completely heartbroken and in despair.  She has two sons.  This past weekend, one of them was picked up for murder and the other just narrowly escaped being shot to death at a party. She lives in a housing project in a squalid neighborhood.  She does the best she can.  When I want to complain about the appointments I have to take my kids to all the time, I think of her, having to schlep everywhere on public transportation, and I count my blessings.  She is desperately trying to move to a better neighborhood through a program meant to help women like her escape the poverty and violence that permeates public housing.  Because of the charges against her son, this is now virtually impossible.  Rather than hide her head under the blankets and stay in bed, she takes public transportation to work every day, wondering whether the youngest is going to come home from school alive.  Of the three, she is the easiest one for me to want to support and embrace.  She doesn't blame anyone else for her circumstances in life.  She takes full responsibility for everything.  I am especially praying for her.

I really didn't take my new job to offer counseling to people I barely know.  But the Lord apparently had other ideas so for now, I, too, am trying to do the best I can, which is, of course, to listen and to pray.

                                                         +  +  +

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Altar Server Chat

I got a charming email today from the secretary at the church where my son is a server.  He is not a server at our parish church because no one ever expressed much interest in having him.  However, at the church down the street, where I often go for Adoration and sometimes confession, he was welcomed with open arms.  The friars seem to have an infinite amount of patience.  This helps, because Matt doesn't learn or think like most of us.   On Sunday, the server who was scheduled didn't show up, so Matt was pressed into service.  This is another good reason why one should never arrive at church two minutes before Mass begins.  Whatever happened, it gave the pastor the impetus to amend the Holy Week schedule and Matthew will now serve, God-willing, on Holy Thursday and at the Easter Vigil.

I saw an interesting thread on Father's Z blog yesterday about a book from Angelus Press called Letters to an Altar Boy.  Just once, I wish I could read a post about altar boys without the mention of altar girls.  The comments weren't too bad yesterday, but in the past, quite a few were totally devoid of charity.  I don't happen to be someone who believes the Church should provide equal opportunities for boys and girls.  But I do happen to be the mother of a once-little girl who served at the Novus Ordo for 5 years with the utmost reverence and care.  I didn't encourage this because I thought my daughter should have the same opportunity as my son.  I encouraged it because I found it heartbreaking that our parish had so many young people and so few servers.  I got tired of hearing the poor pastor beg for boys or girls to help him.

When our new pastor came, I had a suspicion that he would prefer to have boys, so I broached the subject with him.  He was very clear that while he wished he had more boys, he really didn't have an objection to keeping Rebecca on.   Every so often, I would open the door again for him to dismiss her, but he passed.  Rebecca served at the Easter Vigil every year.  She was the appointed bell-ringer on Holy Thursday and at the Easter Vigil and despite her physical problems, she carried out her duties reliably and with great attention and care.  She never complained about being tired or bored.  She always wore an expression of angelic beauty, if I don't say so myself.

One day Father asked me if I had taught her to genuflect when he genuflected when returning the ciborium to the tabernacle.  I told him I had not.  He smiled.  He told me that none of the other servers ever did that except Rebecca.  He asked me if I realized the great privilege she had to be so close to the Lord during the Consecration.  I said yes, but I reminded him that she served at his pleasure, and he was free to dismiss her. The problem was that outside of the TLM, he had no new servers.

Finally, an adorable little cherub-faced boy came along who was willing to serve.  Rebecca trained him as though he was her baby brother.  She did everything she could to both teach him and protect him.  One Saturday evening, Father told her he thought her charge was ready to fly solo.  It was the last time she served.

No one was scandalized, unless they imagined it.  Rebecca found it amusing that some people fear that because she served at the altar, she might want to become a priest.  She spent her years serving in total oblivion of the resentment and even hostility that some people have toward girls serving the Novus Ordo.  I really have no idea how and why girls were permitted to begin serving. To be honest,   I'm relieved that we were insulated from it all. I'm also extremely grateful that not one but two of my children have had this privilege.

BTW, I have not read the book that Father Z featured on his blog, but I have read another excellent book from Angelus Press that a priest lent us.  Know Your Mass, while geared toward the Extraordinary Form,  is a wonderful resource and a charming book to help young people understand what happens at Mass and why.

I respect the tradition of boys only and I know it's the best way to try to groom young men for the priesthood.  I present my story for those who are insistent that girls are easily distracted simpletons who serve merely so they can meet boys and demand equal treatment.  There will always be stereotypes.  And there will always be exceptions.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spiritual Housecleaning

Before I officially returned to the Catholic faith, I decided I should go to confession to see where the Spirit would lead me.  I told an acquaintance who was also a fallen away Catholic of my desire to have my confession heard but that I was apprehensive because it had been at least 20 years.  They recommended a Center City parish run by Franciscans because, as my friend put it, "they've heard it all, so nothing you will tell them can shock them."  In fact, I was amused to learn later that among timid Catholics, this parish is a favorite for confession because of the gentle nature of the friars.

What I didn't know at the time is that the day I chose to make my first confession since approximately 1492 was St. Padre Pio's feast day.  The Franciscan who heard my confession was overjoyed not only for my desire to seek forgiveness but that I had set out on the feast day of one of the church's best-known confessors.  He felt it was providential that I had chosen that day.

A few weeks later, I felt like I should go again, only this time I chose to have an Augustinian  hear my confession.  All I can say is that I didn't know what hit me.  I came closer than I think I ever have of being "ejected" from the box.  I was humiliated and if I am totally honest with myself, I was also angry.  I felt ambushed.  This was nothing like the confession I had made a few weeks earlier.

 "Prayer and fasting  - that's what you need!" Father told me emphatically.  He shoved a Divine Mercy chaplet card through the grill towards me and commanded me to pray it for the souls in Purgatory.   I was about to tell him I had already prayed it before making my confession, but I decided to lessen the blow by just shutting up and getting out.

For months, I did everything humanly possible to avoid ever getting that priest again for confession.

I got over the experience but I also took what that priest told me to heart.  A few months later, I had a stupid argument with my husband.  By then I had decided whole-heartedly to return to the Church, but I was still having issues.  I don't even remember what the argument was about, but I took a plastic spoon that I was using and slammed it on the table, causing it to splinter into a million pieces.  The kids were terrified, and I was once again humiliated.  To make matters worse, this happened on a Sunday.  I wanted to go to confession, but the only priest who heard confessions on Sundays was the Augustinian who had given me my come-upance some months back.  Sheepishly, I entered the confessional and began my confession.

Father listened and there was a long period of silence.  Finally, he asked me how many years I'd been married.  "Twenty, Father".

He chuckled softly, and then went on to talk to me about how to avoid losing my temper like that again.  He asked me a few questions about how many children I had, what their names were and whether or not we prayed together. He lamented that not many Catholics remain faithfully married these days, and he commended me for "doing something right."   After about 15 minutes, he gave me my penance and my absolution and I was on my way.

I tried to figure out what was so different that day from my first encounter with this priest and I later realized what it was - I was not properly disposed.  I was nonchalant in confessing my sins.  I had not been properly recollected or repentant.  That particular Sunday, I was so ashamed of what I had done that  I felt like if I got him in confession and got humiliated again,  it was what I needed.  From the day onward, that priest became my very favorite confessor.  I was heartbroken when he had to retire.

There is nothing  terribly uncomfortable about going to confession.  I'm always grateful for a gentle priest, but that's not always what I get.  I take the attitude that it's ok, so long as in the end, I am truly sorry and receive absolution.  It's a small mortification because while it can sometimes be momentarily painful, it's also anonymous, secret and mercifully brief.  The priest is not going to leave the box and discuss what I did with the rest of the congregation.  I do not have to stand up in front of the congregation and share my sinfulness.  The only discomfort, when you look at it, is minor, especially when compared to being singled out by your boss in a meeting full of your peers for something you failed to do.

If truth be told, I'd rather not have to discuss my sins with a priest in order to receive absolution.  But that's the way Christ intended it, so I accept that my confession may not always go as planned.  If you are struggling with returning to the sacrament, I hope you will take heart and ask the Holy Spirit for the courage you need to make a sincere and thorough confession.  If Christ could allow Himself to be accused of crimes He did not commit, surely we can manage to accuse ourselves of those we have, of our own accord.

I also look at it this way.  I would rather confess to the priest, who is acting in the person of Christ, than have to stand before the Lord face to face and be judged for something I was too proud to confess.

I  had an amusing thought about Heaven.  Have you ever taken an exam and then consorted with your friends afterward to see how they answered certain questions, etc.?  Isn't it shocking sometimes when you discover who did well and who didn't?  Sometimes, I amuse myself by thinking about Heaven that way.  If I get there directly, will I discuss God's generosity toward me with the other souls I meet?  Will we discuss those we thought would be joining us, but didn't?  Or will I be one of those who thought they studied and did everything right, only to fall short?  Somehow I doubt these thoughts will  occur to me once I have slipped from this life, but being a weak human being, I admit to occasionally entertaining them.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Giving In Without Giving Up

Every once in awhile, I will get thrown for a loop in confession, particularly if I go to a priest I have confessed to before.  I find that whether or not I'm prepared for what I'm told, it's just what I need to hear at the time.  After making what I thought was a very honest and thorough confession, the priest, without questioning me,  pointed out another sin I committed but failed to confess.  He gave me a short counsel on how to avoid doing this again and sent me on my way.  Rather than feel the usual incredible lightness of reconciliation, I more appropriately felt humbled and a bit stung.  It was a fitting disposition in which to kneel before the crucifix.

I am determined not to complain and at the very least, to try not to notice when people annoy me.  Instead, I will ask for the grace to welcome these minor trials the same as I would if Christ Himself handed me a thorn from His crown.

It Was 25 Years Ago Today

Sunday, April 10, 2011

VEXILLA REGIS, Inno, Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis, Giovanni Vianini, ...

The offertory motet from our Mass today.

Passion Sunday

"They took up stones therefore to cast at Him.  But Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the Temple" - The Holy Gospel according to St. John for Passion Sunday.

Two very different Gospels for two different forms of the Mass,  but a common thread runs through both.  The Jews could have stoned Jesus to death.  Given what He suffered on the cross, this might have been a less painful death.  But His hour had not yet come, so He slipped out of their midst to die another day.

To symbolize Christ's hiding His Divinity from the Jews, all of the statues were shrouded in purple today and they will remain that way until Easter.  I have a not-so-great photo of our purple-shrouded statues below.

Our church before the start of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass would be perfectly silent were it not for two ushers, who talk out loud to each other before Mass begins, most likely because they are old and hard of hearing.  I reminded myself of this before I gave in to the urge to turn around and dart a look at those disrupting the silence.  These little annoyances which so often get under my skin are a form of mortification. Why has it not occurred to me before that they are for my own good, and that is why I encounter so many of them?  I was annoyed with my daughter because she insisted on wearing jeans instead of a skirt.  I thought I had taught her better.  I was embarrassed because the other girls were dressed up.  When I continue to worry about how things affect me or reflect upon me, I will continue to be mortified by my own overly-developed sense of decorum.  Because in being disturbed by such things to the degree that I am, I have once again put myself and my own will ahead of Christ.

Lazarus, Come Forth!

Rembrand'ts The Raising of Lazarus
Christ commanded Lazarus to come forth from the tomb.  To me, He extends not a command but an invitation.   That invitation is to be raised from the dead and share in the glory of His Kingdom.  Before I can share in His Glory, I  must also share in His Passion.  I  have to detach myself of everything that contributes to my  own decay.  It's a tall order and the state of the world today tells us not too many people are interested in accepting this invitation.  I am, but I am weak.  Christ knows this.  He knows that I need His help.  He is only too glad when I plead with Him to help me.  The beauty of a Catholic grammar school education is how many sayings stay with you throughout your life.  Sayings like:

God helps those who help themselves!

I have to make an effort.  I can't just sit at home on Sunday and say "God knows what's in my heart, I don't have to belong to a church for Him to know I love Him".

I can't continue to wallow in the same sin and say "God made these things for me to enjoy, He does not expect me to deprive myself of this or that pleasure."

I can't carry the decay of sin around with me and say "I know God forgives me,  so I don't have to confess this to a priest, who is a weak human being himself."

I can't spend the bare minimum in prayer and demand God's friendship only when it suits me.

I can't continue to harbor the decay of jealousy, resentment and impatience with others and expect God to ignore my faults simply because He loves me.  It is precisely because He loves me that He wants to help me shed myself of these sins.

I'm always intrigued by the fact that Christ delayed His visit to Lazarus, Martha and Mary, yet wept with the sisters when He saw their grief.  He had to permit things to happen so that the greater glory of God would come from it.  Still, His heart being both human and divine, He was moved with pity by how much they mourned their brother.

There are times when it seems very hard to carry on, when I begin to question whether something I cannot even comprehend is worth the trials and tribulations of this life.  In these instances, the Lord makes me wait longer than I think He should to show me that He is listening.  But when He responds, what relief and what joy!  St. Therese wrote about this when discussing faith in Story of a Soul (p. 142)

"...the One Whose Heart watches even when He sleeps made me understand that to those whose faith is like that of a mustard seed He grants miracles and moves mountains in order to strengthen this faith, which is still small; but for His intimate friends, for His Mother, He works no miracles before testing their faith.  Did He not allow Lazarus to die even after Martha and Mary told Him he was sick?....But after trial, what reward!  ... Lazarus raised from the dead!  Thus Jesus acted toward His little Therese, after having tried her for a long time, He granted all the desires of her heart."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I am Such a Bad Wife

My poor husband.  He missed a step going down the stairs this  morning.  I heard a loud bang and then a certain expletive repeated over and over.  I heard my son ask him if he was ok.  He said yes and proceeded on his way.  Seems he missed a step and knocked his hip out of whack.   Now he's hobbled for the rest of the day. Useless, as Victor Spinelli would say.  I'm giving him the day off, but I'm not helping matters any by laughing at the poor soul for the way he crashed this morning.  Every time I think about the "splat!" sound and the lamentations that followed, I fall into a fit of laughter. The fact that he's a moaner and a whiner doesn't  help.  What kind of wife am I?

The kids are going to be gone all day with their various activities, so I'm going to take him for a ride later on to get a bite to eat.  After the Phillies game, of course.

We'll be married 25 years on Monday.   Laughter is a good thing.


Mr. Little Way is feeling much better today.  No lasting damage was done by his faux pas coming down the stairs.  Thanks for your comments,  they made me laugh even harder.  I never realized what good exercise laughing is for the  abs.  I should try it more often!

To the Foot of His Altar

Ribalta's Christ embracing St. Bernard 

I lifted the following from Vultus Chrisi.  My brief thoughts on this are as follows:

The way in which the Mass is celebrated does matter.

The "style" in which a priest chooses to live his life does matter.

A priest who centers his life on the Eucharist alone cannot go wrong.

A priest who publicly demonstrates his love and adoration for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament will draw not only himself but his timid flock to the Lord's Sacred Heart as well.

Pray for priests.  Pray for priests to be priests as Christ intended them to be.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

My Heart is moved to compassion by the sufferings of my priests,
by those that they inflict upon themselves
and by those that they inflict on each other.
The sins of my priests cause me an immense sorrow.
I grieve over my priests
with a tender and sorrowful love.
I want them to understand
that every trial, every suffering, every humiliation is,
for them, an occasion to turn to me with confidence
and to discover the depth and the height and the breadth
of my merciful love,
of my Divine Friendship for them.
This is the answer and the remedy
for every crisis in the life of a priest:
a return to my Divine Friendship,
a humble and confident return to my most loving Heart,
a return to the foot of my altar
and to the comforting radiance of my Eucharistic Face.
The trials and sorrows that I permit to befall my priests
will serve my designs for their holiness
and for their growth in love.
Everything a priest suffers should send him to my Heart.
And where will he find my Heart,
opened by the lance and still beating with love,
if not in the Sacrament of the Altar,
the abiding sign of my friendship of predilection
for each and every priest?
I am calling my priests back to my altars;
I am calling them into the healing radiance of my Eucharistic Face.
I am calling my priests
into the intimate friendship of my Eucharistic Heart.
Why do so few respond to my call?
It is, in effect, more than a call:
I plead with them to become entirely Eucharistic priests
living from my altar and for my altar,
and abiding as often as they can
in the radiance of my Eucharistic Face.
A priest who spurns my Divine Friendship
is an empty vessel,
a cause of sorrow to my Heart,
a blight upon the Church,
a disappointment to my faithful.
Do what you can, do what you must,
to draw your brother priests . . .
into the radiance of my Eucharistic Face.
There they will taste and will come to know the sweetness of my love
and the infinite treasures of my mercy for them.
From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of A Priest

Update on my Novena to Charles Untz

When so many people are praying for the same cause and to so many different Saints, or saints, as it were, how do you sort out to whose credit a miracle should be attributed?  Regardless of what happens, I just want to say that the news has been promising, and I continue to receive the signs that I asked for.  The signs began as a trickle and now they maintain themselves in a gentle but steady fall.  In the end, they may amount to nothing more than an assurance that my prayers were indeed heard.  That in and of itself will be more than I deserve.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Seeing Opportunities Where Others See Limits

Last night, The Boy asked me for two dollars and to sign a permission slip.  I was interested to see that his school was taking him on a college visit to West Chester University.  In junior year the students are divided into three "academies", one for technical skills, one for restaurant and hotel management and one for teaching.  I was amazed to learn that my son had been entered into the teaching category.  I have been looking into culinary schools for him for after he graduates from high school and here the dear boy has set his sights on becoming a teacher.

When he was first diagnosed on the autistic scale of disorders some years ago, the psychologist freely admitted that she hoped she would be proven wrong but she saw his ability to earn a decent living wage limited to busing tables or building salads in a restaurant.  Now he thinks he wants to go to Penn State.  There is a technical difficulty with this in that he has been resistant to sit for the SAT's because he is convinced he will fail, but we are trying to encourage him to give it a try anyway, because he really has nothing to lose. 

When I was in high school, I struggled mightily with algebra.  I would seek out the top students in the class to help me, and try as they might, they couldn't.  Sometimes when people are on a plane so far above us, they don't know how to relate things in simple terms.  One of the students, determined to help, suggested that I seek out one of the C students instead on the theory that our learning styles and abilities might be closer.  That student was a genius as far as I'm concerned because I instantly connected with my new tutor.  That's why I wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility of this kid of mine going to college and maybe even becoming a teacher.  Maybe he can work with young people who are in a boat similar to his.  The worst thing I could do is tell him he can't do something based on what a psychologist thought years ago.

The youngest has been asked to do another project for our pastor.  He found a series of videos that he'd like her to compile into one DVD so he can use it as a teaching tool for priests who'd like to learn how to offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  She's already busied herself working on this.  I was thinking of how a few weeks ago, the cantor at another church pooh-poohed the TLM because women are not permitted to serve at the altar. Rebecca looked her straight in the eye and told her it didn't bother her one bit.   While it is true that women are not invited to join the altar crew, it's not true that they cannot serve.  There are many ways that a young lady can serve Our Lord and her parish without ever setting foot in the sacristy. I take a certain amount of pride in the knowledge that this little project might enable my young lady, in some small indirect way, to help a priest learn this beautiful expression of the liturgy.

Have a blessed and spiritually fruitful Friday and be on your guard against the Father of Lies.  In the words of Father Dennis, he's walking the streets. 

See you Saturday .