Friday, July 29, 2011

The Latin Mass Explained

Sometimes, I buy books and then I forget I have them.  Luckily, I remembered this one just as we were heading out the door for our mini-vacation.  I had picked it up at the bookstore at the Carmelite Monastery back in December and then never got around to reading it.  Written by the late Msgr. George J. Moorman, The Latin Mass Explained is a must for anyone who simply wants to understand the Mass better, regardless of the form.  However, I think after reading this little gem, you will want to question, as I did, how we ever got from the Mass Msgr. Moorman celebrated to where we are today.

What I found most fascinating about The Latin Mass Explained is that it was originally written decades before Vatican II.  Msgr  Moorman provides such sound explanations for the use of Latin that it makes me wonder if he anticipated the criticisms that would come later, or if perhaps there was a long-standing attempt to have the Mass said in the vernacular.  Even more compelling were his explanations for why an altar is used, the significance of the priest's gestures and the vestments that he wears, and why the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was meant to be celebrated ad orientem.

Msgr. Moorman reinforces throughout the book that the Mass is rightfully called a sacrifice, and he references the rituals throughout the Bible that accompany sacrifice.

For those who are new to the Traditional Latin Mass or who are contemplating going to their first TLM, I highly recommend this book.  Msgr. Moorman even includes an outline of when to sit, stand and kneel, for those who are concerned about adopting the correct gestures.  However, even if you never have any intention of ever setting foot inside a church for the TLM, you should still read this book so that you, too, can gain a new-found appreciation for the Sacred Mysteries that take place on our altars in our churches and which too many of us have taken for granted.

Who Says Dogs Don't Smile?

Gigi, our little pug mix that we adopted two years ago, modeling the new tutu  Rebecca bought for her in Ocean City.

Where Does Time Go?

It seems like only yesterday that I took this photo of my two then-toddlers on the boardwalk in Ocean City,  New Jersey.  Hard to believe it was nearly 14 years ago, if my math is correct.  Rebecca was just recently sprung from her hip spica cast when this photo was taken, and Matthew was approaching his 3rd birthday.  In fact, if memory serves correctly, we celebrated his birthday while we were there on vacation.  He rode the Thomas the Tank Engine Train to his heart's content and we had ice cream and cake afterward at the Carousel Ice Cream Parlor.  A picture-perfect birthday for a little boy in love with trains and ice cream.

This year was quite a marked difference between previous years.  Neither kid had any interest in the rides, much to my relief.  And they were perfectly content to let Mom stay behind and watch the Phils while they played in the game arcade, strolled the boards and took in the sights.  Our family has nearly always chosen Ocean City for a shore vacation because it's a dry town, so you don't see the rowdiness you do in some other shore areas.  Currently there is a push by some business establishments to permit people to BYOB to restaurants, and there is an equally strong push to defeat it.  For years, Ocean City also had "blue laws" which prohibited businesses from opening on Sundays.  Some retail establishments still abide by those laws, though not many.

One reason I prefer Ocean City to the mountains (probably the only reason) is that it is so easy to get to daily Mass.  While the kids are still asleep I can quietly slip out and to to Mass at either of two churches within walking distance.  I recently discovered a third church a little further away that offers a daily "evening" Mass at 4PM.  Sometimes it feels like I'm in the Novus Ordo desert with the number of
Extraordinary Ministers. I was quite dismayed to see priests sitting down at Holy Communion and allowing lay women to usurp their duties of distributing Holy Communion.  But I have to say that aside from that, the Mass seemed more liturgically correct than it had in past years, with the jokes that were told and the one priest's habit of saying his parishioners names before he gave them the Eucharist.  After Mass yesterday morning some folks gathered to talk rather loudly, and they were just as loudly shushsed and asked to leave the church by those faithful who wanted to pray the Rosary in community after Mass.

Anyway, I'd get back just in time to rouse the sleepy-heads from their beds and set on our day's itinerary. (My husband does not care for the shore at all, and also, given the dearth of work he's had, he thought it would be better to forego a vacation this year and work while he had still had some jobs on the calendar.)

I have concluded that without any effort on my part, Rebecca has met the definition some bloggers have set of a "traddie".  Without any input from me, she went on the beach and in the pool with a t-shirt and shorts over her bathing suit and left her Brown Scapular on.  I wish I'd gotten a picture.  At night while in bed, Rebecca asked me to hand her the book she's reading, something about how to defend Catholicism against attacks from fundamentalist Christians.

"Don't you want to pray your Rosary first?"
 "Sure, you want to pray it with me?"

I was very surprised when she began to say the prayers in Latin. I didn't know she knew them.  When I asked her where she had learned them, she said it was from reading the prayers in Latin in her missal during Mass and by saying the Leonine prayers after Mass in Latin as well.  Who would have guessed?  Certainly not me! I do not know them in Latin, and though she didn't say anything about that, I know Rebecca was pleased as punch with herself.

At night when we would walk on the boards, I told Matthew and Rebecca repeatedly how grateful I was to have children like them, who dress and behave appropriately in public.  The display of young women in various stages of undress parading themselves in front of the young men is something I was fortunately spared with all three of my kids.  Really sad.  

Although we eat dinner together almost every single night, I realized how little I know of my son since he has gained some independence and prefers the company of his friends.  Although he continues to have issues related to his pervasive developmental delay, Matt had definitely made some strides.  Although I don't always talk about it, he's a boy upon whom the Lord has placed several crosses.  Aside from the PDD, Matt also has Scheuermann's Disease, which is a chronic deformity of the spine causing kyphosis, or hunchback.  Matt wasn't very compliant with wearing the back brace and honestly, I couldn't blame him.  It  was a contraption that that bound him front and back with the front piece being the most constrictive.  As claustrophobic as I am, I don't know that I would have fared any better.  Although some people opt to have surgery for cosmetic reasons, pain is the only valid reason to undergo surgical correction of this deformity and the procedure involves the insertion of multiple rods and screws.  I would not lightly entertain subjecting my son to this surgery, especially given the high rate of revision when the rods break, etc.  While his back occasionally hurts, we have been fortunate that it's not worse and no where near would it need to be to qualify for surgery.  However, I know he is very self-conscious about the deformity and he doesn't want to go in the water. I offered to get him a compression suit, the kind tri-athletes wear, but I don't push him. I always tell him that these difficulties he has are God's way of letting him know how much He loves him since He sent His own Son here to suffer and has given Matt something in common with Jesus.  

There is something so therapeutic, in my mind at least, about watching the waves roll in and out and listening to them as the crash into the shore.  The three of us sat on a bench at sunset watching surf and the seagulls.  I told the kids how I always picture the Blessed Mother above the sea, dispensing her protection to all who seek it from her.  I told them also how I thought the sea keeps secrets, especially at night when you can't see the fins of dolphins rising above the waves.  I think of all the sea-life withheld from our vision, the remains of bodies and vessels lost at sea that the ocean keeps to herself, never to be revealed on shore by the waves.

In the distance, church bells rang and reminded us it was time to move on, since we had only a limited amount of time left to spend.  As we were walking back, we saw a bench memorialized to a little girl who had died at the age of 9.  The rose on the plaque made me think that either she or her mother had a devotion to St. Therese.  We said a little prayer for the girl and went on our way.  So many benches bore similar memorial markers, though that was the only one I could recall for a child.  

Sometimes, this exile on earth seems like it will never end.  Then I realize how brief it really is.  In the moment of a wave washing along the shore and erasing the foot-prints left by someone now long gone, so it is with our existence here on earth.  When I look back on my life, this sleepy little seaside town and the childhood memories it helped create for my family will be one of the fondest places to visit in my mind.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Holiday

Yours truly is going away with the kids for a few days.  What you'll see in my absence will be re-runs.  Comment moderation will be on.  However, I may not be able to publish comments until my return.  We'll see what happens.

The temperature at the ballpark just dropped 10 degrees this past  hour ( from 100 to 90) so maybe some relief is in sight.  I thought I was going to lose Rebecca at Mass this morning.  I packed some frozen wash cloths in my handbag and we used them a few times to keep from fainting.  The walk home was even worse.  Thank God for cold lemonade.  It revived us both.  I saw this quote the other day and thought it really does ring true.

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it - (Russell Baker)

Hopefully, we don't squander the opportunity to offer it up.  Funny, I rarely find anything in winter that makes me think so much of Purgatory as the heat and humidity of July do.

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

How is it Possible...

... for it to be 93 degrees outside at 10pm at night?  I couldn't drive to the adoration chapel this evening because the Philadelphia Union are playing Real Madrid, and I wasn't up to having my car towed, so I walked there and back.  I felt like my face was in an oven.  For a refreshing pick-me-up, when I got home,  I filled a bowl with ice cubes, poured a little water over them, and then soaked a towel in the ice water and put it on my face and the back of my neck. The relief is perhaps but a glimpse of what Heaven will be like after a stint in Purgatory.

Extraordinary Random Moment of Grace

We in the City of Brotherly Love have a saying: It's not the heat, it's the humidity.  It's the oppressive cloud of moisture in the air that makes taking a shower seem almost fruitless.  Nothing contributes to crankiness and short tempers like the kind of weather we're having now.  I have to say that compared to yesterday, it almost feels like a cold front hit us overnight.  Even though the temperature is in the mid-90's right now, it's nearly a relief in contrast to the 103 degree heat we endured yesterday.

The dearth of food in this house compelled me to take a trip to the grocery store, especially since daughter #1 invited herself to dinner this evening. I reminded myself that I should offer the discomfort up for the souls in Purgatory and it was all I could do not to stop for a lemon ice on the way there.   When I exited the store pushing my shopping cart full of stuff for dinner tonight and beyond, I encountered a homeless man wearing worn-out sneakers, dirty pants and a football jersey that no longer bore the name of a famous running back. I shook my head because I saw him talking to himself, walking back and forth, and I worried that maybe the heat and humidity were getting to him.

Despite what people think, it's this kind of weather rather than the cold which is deadly for fragile people.  I looked around quickly to see if there were any street vendors nearby where I could buy the man a drink, but I  didn't see anyone.  I paused under the shade of a tree to see what kind of money I had with me when the person in question approached me.  He gave me a lecture for going to the supermarket when the Italian Market was so close by.  His speech was rapid-fire and difficult to understand, but here and there I would catch a phrase.  As he started to depart, I asked him if I could buy him a cold drink.  I had four one-dollar bills on me and I handed them to him, asking him to be careful in the heat.  He paused.

"Tell you what.  Let's do the blessing thing," he said, handing the money back to me.

"The blessing thing?"

"You put this in the collection plate at church and say a prayer for me".

"I can do both - I can buy you a drink and pray for you."

"I'd rather you give it to the church."

"God bless you, be assured of my prayers", I said, and he waved and went on his way.

I am very sensitive to homeless people. Not only because it's the right thing to do, to be concerned about a stranger who might  be in need, but also because I know this is often how Christ chooses to come to us, in the least of our brethren.  I've never had anyone refuse money or food and ask me to pray for them instead.  Ordinarily, I will buy someone food or drink rather than give them money, but I didn't like the confused way this gentleman was walking back and forth, talking to himself.  I'd rather have taken the chance that the money would be spent on booze or worse than ignore him.

Perhaps you might in your charity remember this man and those like him in your prayers.


Something made me check my stats just now to see who was tuned in.  My curiosity was piqued when I saw that I had more viewers from India than anywhere else.  So I clicked on the posts to see what was so interesting, and what do you think it was?  A post from a year ago about carrot halwa, a sweet Indian dessert made with shredded carrots.  I hope it passed the test.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Devil's Grip on Priests

A good friend of mine, who does not have cable television, was urged to see Father Corapi speak last Fall while he was still traveling around the country to hold conferences.  She didn't know anything about him except that he was a favorite among some very orthodox priest friends.  She came away somewhat discouraged, feeling like he had spoken more about himself and his personal trainer than he had about the Lord and His Holy Mother.  Needless to say, when news broke about Father's very public fall, she wasn't surprised.  My mother also just learned the details of the accusations against Father Corapi. She is shocked at some of the details have been made public, but not necessarily surprised that yet another priest has fallen from grace.

"The Devil," she said, "does not easily loosen his grip, especially on priests."

I have heard some very disturbing things not only about priests whose names are well-known, but others who toil anonymously.  I received some very shocking news about one in particular yesterday.  The details and diocese are not important.  Suffice it to say it leaves me cold to hear of such hard falls from grace.  This was one I would never have seen coming.

Why?  Why are priests such a valuable conquest for the father of lies?

Because they are the only ones who can confect the Blessed Sacrament.  So-called women priests and Episcopal priests can wave their hands over bread and wine all they want, but they cannot consecrate the elements to become the Body and Blood of Christ.

It's been about 4 years since I made the decision to do everything possible to get to Daily Mass.  Sometimes, I look back on where I was spiritually a year ago, and I'm amazed at the progress I seem to have made.  Then I realize it has nothing to do with me, it has everything to do with Jesus Christ and the graces I have received from frequent reception of the sacraments.   There is no bigger threat to the devil's grip than the Eucharist, so it should come as no surprise that priests are so often his target.

What to do about it?

-Make every effort to get to daily Mass.  At the very least, try to go on Saturday morning, a day traditionally devoted to Mary.

-When you receive Holy Communion, don't forget to lift the priest who celebrated the Mass to the Lord.

-Do not develop an attachment to any one priest.  Believe me when I tell you I am preaching to myself more than anyone else where this is concerned, but priests are priests, they're not rock stars and they don't need groupies and adoring fans.

-Much better to pray quietly for your priest than to inflate his ego with compliments and other words that will contribute, intentionally or not, to his vanity.

Prayer for Priests by St. Therese of Lisieux

O Jesus,
I pray for your faithful and fervent priests;
for your unfaithful and tepid priests;
for your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields.
for your tempted priests;
for your lonely and desolate priests;
For your young priests;
for your dying priests;
for the souls of your priests in Purgatory.
But above all, I recommend to you the priests dearest to me:
the priest who baptized me;
the priests who absolved me from my sins;
the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion;
the priests who taught and instructed me;
all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way
(especially …).
O Jesus, keep them all close to your heart,
and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Blessing of Here and Now

As part of the new-hire process, my new health care system requires background checks and finger-printing prior to my start date.  I was given the name of a website and told to register at one of the offices that I would find most convenient.  Ladies and gentlemen, when the temperature is approaching 100 degrees, there is nothing convenient about a jaunt into center city.  Much of the walk is devoid of shade. I took a frozen water bottle with me and decided to offer the torment up for the souls in Purgatory.  Still, once it was over, I had a welcome sense of accomplishment, like one more notch had been completed.

On my way back, I passed an older-adult center on Broad Street, where scores of elderly people were exiting with fans, still in their original boxes.  I wondered how they were going to get their prizes home but it looked someone with a large van was already working on it.  I can remember back when a fan was all I had to cool off in my bedroom at night.  Now, I'd feel like I was suffocating in this kind of heat if that's all I had.

Although I was practically soaking wet at the end of this venture, I thought I would catch Noon Mass before heading home.  A few blocks from the church, a gentleman stopped me.

"Would you please put in a request for some cooler weather?"

Now, since I was blocks away from the church and was carrying nothing that would identify me as Catholic or anything else for that matter, I was a bit taken aback.  How did this man know I was going to Mass, or was it just coincidence?

He continued, reminding  me how just a few scant months ago, we were buried in snow.  

"We never appreciate what we got", he said, "Remember how we were complaining we couldn't wait for summer?  Wouldn't you love some of that snow today?"  and he went on his way.

How right he is.

Since yesterday, I've gotten a number of calls from the folks I left behind.  For the record, the person who I thought was getting fired was given another chance.  I have a feeling they wanted her fired, but only so long as I was going to do the axing and take the political fall-out for it.  This person probably did deserve to be fired, but she needs her job and given my experience, it would be much easier for me to have to find a new one than for her, so I can't say I'm disappointed that they decided to give her one more opportunity to right her ship.  One of the surgeons called today to express his disappointment that I was leaving, but also, his gratitude for having helped him while I was there. I didn't think I did much at all for him, but I am realizing that whatever I think of my job performance, the folks I served and worked with felt like I did more than anyone else had.

One of the nurses called and told me that I was the best boss she ever had.  It's difficult for me to see that and  the irony of all of this is that I'm going to be working for the person who I think is the best boss I ever had.  What a blessing and a joy to know that people thought that highly of me and that they felt they were helped by my support as their boss.

I am learning to accept these compliments and to give thanks to God for the ability I have to do what I do, which is a blip on the radar in the big scheme of things.  I have to admit it's been nice being home with the kids, who aren't so little any more.  My son seems especially to appreciate my presence at home.  I was tempted to give in to the kind of despair that sometimes grips me when I realize the mistakes I've made in life and how everyone else has had to pay for them right along side of me.  What purpose would that serve and what good would it accomplish?  I'm blessed to have this week off, a brief respite from work in the scorching days of summer, and that I'll also have next week to get away for a few days at the shore with my younger two.  It's too late in life to think I can reverse the previous errors of my thinking, but looking ahead, I can try to impart the values I missed to my own kids, especially my girls.

I was watching a story on the news where they showed children playing in the cool water of a sprinkler.  I am getting a fair amount of playful grief over the fact that I'm going on a religious pilgrimage to Rome in September but the kids aren't.  I thought back to my own childhood, when we scarcely ever went on a vacation.  When one of the neighborhood hooligans turned on the fire hydrant, it was like Christmas in July.  We ran and splashed in the filthy street water like we were on a beach in the Caribbean.  Part of me looks down on the experience now, but for some kids, that's as good as their summer is going to get.  And they're not complaining about it.  They're glad to have the spray of cool water in an urban playground overheated by the July sun and humidity.

I can remember being kept inside by my mother on scorching days like this.  Once evening arrived, she would take us for a  walk to the Five and Dime, to buy some novelty item,  and  allow us to get a water-ice on the way home. Then we'd sit on the steps, listening to the neighbors' gossip and the sound of the Phillies game over the radio.  Simple joys that didn't cost a lot of money and have created some of the happiest summer memories.

A few months from now, it will be January and we'll be in the throes of another ice storm. I hope I remember to be thankful for the summer heat when those days arrive, what always seems like sooner than it should be.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Right to Offend vs The Right Not to be Offended

Confession time.  I wrote this title and then saved it because  life's duties called me away, including Noon Mass.  The priest had just said "Let us pray" when some one's cell phone went off and they answered it.  Now, the offender in this case is an increasingly physical and emotionally fragile creature who looks like the next unkind word toward him might very well cause his demise.  With whatever intelligence and dignity he has left, he seems drawn to the Mass and adoration afterward.  Sure, what he did was wrong, but what followed was worse.

A woman, who, God forgive me, has a flair for drama, came leaping across the aisle, tripping over the other people in her row, to chastise this individual for allowing his phone to ring at Mass.  She was so loud, that I could not hear the words of the collect.  It took every fiber of my being not to leap across the people in my own row and tell her to sit down and shut up.  The priest rolled his eyes but said nothing about the incident.

At the prayers of intercession, the bad habit of opening the floor to input from the congregation lead to another spectacle, with the Drama Queen imploring the congregation to have more respect for the Lord and His Church with appropriate behavior at Mass, as though what she had just done was appropriate.

You don't know how hard it was NOT to offer my own prayer of intercession in response - that those of us carrying logs in our eyes resist the temptation to reach across and pull the speck from our neighbor's.  To do so would surely have reduced this already-compromised Mass into a free for all of people insisting "I'm right, no I'M right, etc"

I have found the fragile offender to be somewhat annoying in the past, but it's clear his engine is no longer running on all 6 cylinders.  The Drama Queen, on the other hand, is someone whose very presence I find repulsive, and I have to keep begging the Lord's mercy for the feelings she provokes in me.   I've never been warm to people who take signs of piety to extremes while at the same time forgetting about charity.   Then again, sometimes I think the Lord  puts people who are extreme in our paths because it's the only way we'll see our own faults.

How many times has some yahoo answered their phone at Mass where I didn't want to leap across the aisle and throttle them, or, at the very least, smash the phone to bits?  When we God's forgiveness for sinning "in thought, word, and deed" does it mean that thinking something isn't as sinful as doing it?


I saw a post on Acts of the Apostasy where a couple who own a Vermont inn are being sued by two lesbians from New York for discrimination. The inn keepers are devout Catholics and it would be a compromise of their faith and of their Church's teachings to allow  the women to hold a "wedding" reception at the inn but also for the inn's owners to profit from it.  As the blog's author rightly pointed out, you can't discriminate against lesbians having a so-called wedding reception, but it's ok to ban children under the age of 6 from eating in a restaurant?

Here are a few things that offend me. Some of these things are chock-full of ironies.

-People who can't keep their butt-cracks and cleavage contained within their own clothing
-People who foul the air while I'm taking a walk with cigarette smoke
-Public displays of "affection" that border on lewdness
-Other people's cell phone conversations that are liberally spiked with profanation of the Lord's name
-Dog owners who don't pick up after their precious pups
-So-called intellectuals who mock Christianity and Catholicism in particular
-"Mothers" who beat and berate young children
-Women who wear lingerie in public
-Able-bodied Catholics who can't be bothered to genuflect before they enter a pew at Mass
-People who are for abortion rights but who foam at the mouth at the mention of euthanizing a dog
-Militant vegans who support abortion rights but won't kill an ant

That's it for now.  That's all the crankiness I can muster in this heat.

What Will Archbishop Chaput's Appointment Mean for Philadelphia and the TLM?

Already, some of the naysayers have weighed in because of this quote from Archbishop Charles Chaput:

“…I certainly want to be faithful to the Holy Father and his teaching about the traditional expression of the Roman liturgy in the Tridentine form.
“I supported that and will continue to support that.
“It isn’t, however, my personal interest or direction.”
I think the larger and more daunting task will be to bring some of our renegade priests in line and get them to celebrate the Novus Ordo according to the rubrics.  I hate to say this, but improvisation seems to happen more in parishes staffed by religious orders, although I've certainly encountered diocesan priests who took liberties with the Mass as well.  I sincerely doubt Archbishop Chaput is going to do anything to hinder celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.  In time, he may come to feel differently about his inclination to want to learn and celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form.  But quite frankly, there are bigger fish for him to fry.  While he may have been brought here because of the previous mishandling of the abuse scandal, it's clear from the commentary in this morning's Philly papers that his name has already struck fear into the hearts of Cafeteria Catholics, who are concerned about his political leanings.    It's interesting to note, however, that the Archbishop has his share of detractors on the more conservative side of the aisle.   His observations about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's views on the death penalty won him much derision and criticism from folks whose Catholicism is often colored by their political leanings.   This is not something that only happens with liberals.   Then there are those who want to force the Church to abdicate her teachings on moral issues rather than abandon their selfish and sinful beliefs.  One commentator has already mocked Chaput's "compassionate conservatism" because he expelled a child from a Denver Catholic school who was being raised by two lesbians. 
When will these folks ever get it?  There is nothing compassionate about watching in silence as  souls fall into Hell.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Walled In With The Lord, Protected by the Virgin Mary

My attempt to quit the sweet water backfired a bit yesterday.  I drank a glass of iced coffee every time I felt the urge to swill down a Pepsi, and the result was that I stared at the clock most of the night. I had to get up early for an appointment and I felt out of sorts the entire day.  Apparently, coffee packs a lot more caffeine than Pepsi so in place of a caffeine-withdrawal headache, I was wired.

Finally feeling like I was coming down to earth, I went, after dinner,  to the Adoration Chapel, where I found the Lord all alone.  After spending the amount of time I had set aside and saying the prayers I had intended to say, I started to hear an unfamiliar sound and I soon realized it was pouring rain outside.  It was too dark for me to read so I just spent the time talking from the heart, the best that I could.  I thought how unfortunate for the Lord that He was stuck with someone so uninspiring, ungrateful and struggling as myself.  What a gift it would have been had He had a St. Catherine of Sienna or a St. Therese of Lisieux to keep Him company.  But He did not complain.  At the moment, I was the only person on earth with Him in that little chapel, the only person who, for whatever reason, had made the effort to visit Him and offer Him some small consolation.

This particular chapel is in the basement of a rectory of a church named for one of Mary's many titles.  There is no shortage of statues on the grounds depicting her in one image or another.  One very large bronze statue stands faces the nearby highway, as if to impart a special blessing of safety to travelers.  It has always been a great comfort and delight for me to happen upon depictions of the Virgin Mary, especially those where she is holding the Infant or Child Jesus in her arms.  I started wondering what she really looks like and what her demeanor would be.  St. Therese often commented that she thought Mary would be more Mother than Queen.  I had an image strike me of Mary gently but firmly getting after her children, and doing so even with a sense of humor, particularly where my son is concerned.

The Eucharist, the Source and Summit of our Christian life and Mary, our life, our sweetness and our hope.

Monday, July 18, 2011

So, What's New in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

I refer you to someone in the know. I have no ax to grind with Cardinal Rigali, but if what we're hearing is true (supposedly his successor is already in town) I think this is good news for us.  The announcement will come from the Vatican at 6am Philadelphia-time tomorrow and we're told that Cardinal Rigali and his successor will celebrate Mass tomorrow at Noon at the Basicila of Sts. Peter and Paul in downtown Philly.  Wow.

Update: The Demise of a Spider

 Not sure if my driving finally took him out or he went to his reward, but my little friend is no more.  No more tell-tale webs, no more peek-a-boo in the well of the side view mirror.  The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh awayeth.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Prayers for my Conversion, The Beatles and Other Random Thoughts

Some time ago, I noted that I do not drink coffee, and someone left me an adorable comment about praying for my conversion.  Well, sweet little anonymous person, your prayers have come true.  In my effort to lose some weight, get more energy and lose some bad habits, I decided today to begin drinking iced coffee.  This, you see, in place of the addictive poisonous beverage (the name of which I won't mention) which has no nutritional value and packs on unwanted pounds in no time, particularly around the mid-line.

I have tried giving up my favorite drink before and I succeeded for awhile, but like sin, it beckoned me to have just one sip, and one sip followed another and before I knew it,  I drifted back into my bad habit and became addicted again.  I have been wanting to give up the sweet sugary drink for months but I just didn't have the fortitude to deal with the caffeine-withdrawal headache that usually comes with that particular effort.  Last week, the oldest left behind her iced coffee drink and it looked so enticing I gave it a sip and I thought: I could do this.  So today, I got up, went for a look hot walk, and stopped by the local donut purveyor for a cold cup straight up.  It wasn't bad and despite the long walk in hot and humid conditions, I didn't have my usual brink of collapse at Mass.  In fact, I felt pretty good, with no hint of a headache.

Anyway, I'm going to try and stick this out.  I just ordered a bag of Carmel-flavored coffee from the Mystic Monks (they spell it Carmel, a fitting play on words) via you-know-who's blog. (I can't help it, I'm a sucker for people when they're down, and he seems very down.) I have a couple of weeks off before I start the new job, God-willing, and there's no time like the present to try to get my act together.

I really do feel like an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  Now it's time to lift some from the rest of me.

Friday, the little miss spent the day in NYC with someone who is like an aunt to her.  She went to her 3rd Paul McCartney concert in as many years.  I saw Sir Paul once, back in the early 90's in Philadelphia, and while it was a great concert, once was enough.  All of my kids grew up singing Beatles' tunes, but only Rebecca has carried her interest into her teen years.  I love that though she is a teenager, she does not care enough about her appearance not to wear Union Jack socks, peace sign earrings and Fab-Four t-shirt topped off by her Beatles shoulder bag.  She was in her glory.

The other day I was listening to the radio on the way home from work and I heard "Norwegian Wood" and noticed some things about it I simply hadn't heard before.  I was a small child when the Beatles came into their own and I spent hours listening to their 45's on a little record player I had.  I often thank God I wasn't a teenager then because I don't know how I would have reacted to their music.  I enjoy their music as much as any Beatles' fan, but there are times when I wonder about their influence on pop culture and subsequently, on morality and social mores.  If the organ is the instrument designated by the Church as the only appropriate accompaniment at Mass, what, then, is the electric guitar?  I might prefer not to know.  I love sacred music, but it would be an enormous sacrifice to give up listening to rock.  If asked, I would do it, but I don't know that I could voluntarily refrain from hearing "Please Please Me" again.  (The harmonica and the vocals make that song, not the evil electric guitar).

I am enormously grateful for the fact that tomorrow is a Monday, and I will be able to spend it away from work.  Now if the Phillies don't completely collapse and give way to the Mets, it will be a pretty good weekend.  God-willing, I will try to finish it off by some time in Adoration this evening.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More Liturgical Abuse Chat

Can't we all just get along?


Sorry, Father Z, I had to borrow your catch-phrase, but I tell you, I've had it.  I want to go to Mass and hear what I'm supposed to hear and see what I'm supposed to see.

I already carried on about the Mass on Monday where the priest completely ad-libbed the entire Mass.  On Tuesday, thankfully, I was at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czesthochowa with Father Frank Pavone and no liturgical abuse took place, aside from the clapping.

Wednesday, the priest did not lift the chalice for the consecration.  He left it sitting on the altar while he said the words.  He also did not add water to the chalice after  Holy Communion, which, although it did not contain enough to drink on its own, still held the Precious Blood.  Rather than purify the vessel, the priest stuffed a purificator in it and left it on the altar.

Next day, my bad luck to get the same priest.  This time he lifted the chalice, but he did not bother to properly see to the remnants of Precious Blood after communion, same as the day before.

Unbelievably, though I went to another Mass, thinking I knew this priest's schedule and could avoid him,  I got him again, and once more, the chalice sat neglected.   I know he's already been told about this.  I have no desire to dime on a priest, but Our Lord is being neglected and I cannot continue to watch it happen.

This same priest often ad-libs parts of the Mass. He makes up his own prayers for the English version of the Kyrie.  He always leaves the line "and the love of God" out of the introductory rite.  And he came out for Mass all three days in shorts, which his alb and chasuble were  not long enough to disguise. I blame the pastor for this because this is a recently ordained priest who obviously needs a little more supervision.  But the pastor can't be bothered to stick to the rubrics either, so what do I expect?  The pastor can't be bothered to lift the Host more than 2 seconds during the consecration. Yet there are other very fine and orthodox priests at this parish who know and do the right thing.  One wonders how much, if any, they have spoken up.

I have concluded that if this is my only option certain days for daily Mass, it would be better to miss and go to Adoration instead.  I don't want to be part of this kind of  outright laziness and neglect for Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Through the Ringer

Yesterday, I received an answer to my latest mid-life crisis prayer, and it was answered as I'd hoped.  This left the difficult task of letting my boss know I would be leaving. I was not prepared for the reaction I got.  She cried, as did her second-in-command.  Suffice it to say I felt horrible, like the worst person in the world.   I kept hearing what a great job I do.  I don't happen to think so, but I also recognize I have a problem realizing my own worth, so I just let it go and accepted the compliment.  I haven't been able to sleep all week, indigestion is now my middle name, and if I don't stop popping Tums, I'll have a kidney stone again in no time.

The director of Human Resources called me later in the day because he wanted to talk, and he sensed I would not be able to level with my boss as much as I would with him.  He said something very nice and extremely helpful.  Rather than try to guilt me into staying, he said he wanted me to leave with a sense of accomplishment because I'd been able to do things in 6 months that were previously thought of as untouchable topics.  He wanted me to know he was going to do everything possible to see to it that my successor would build on what I started.  I have worked with this gentlemen on some very difficult issues since I took this job and I have the utmost respect for him.  I feel confident it's mutual.

I was urged to take a few days off to think this over. At first I resisted, and then I agreed it was a good idea. It won't change my mind, but it will give the news some time to settle in.  What I feel worst of all about is that someone is going to lose their job.  I did all I could to bring them into conformity with the rules, but in the end, she had one too many run-ins with the other nurse managers and supervisors and my attempts to put the fear of God into her have amounted to little.  This person is on a downward spiral of self-destruction.  As a Christian and a Catholic, I know I didn't pray enough for her and spent too much time complaining about her and listening to complaints from others.  Had anyone been minding the shop before I took this job, it would have been abundantly clear that she was unfit for the job she was in and would never have been promoted, but I felt I had a duty to act on behalf of the other employees who had so many issues with her.  I could not in good conscience continue to listen to complaints and not act on them.  In the end, the decision was made not by anything I said or did but by this employee's actions alone.  Her latest escapade made its way to the ears of the executive administrators before I even knew the full story and there was nothing I could do at that point to protect her. She is oblivious to her own bad behavior.

Now, I have to hastily make some vacation arrangements and get the family to agree on our get away destination.  I will start my new job, God-willing, in a few weeks.  I hope I can give my mind a good rest before then.  I look forward to being reunited with my favorite boss of all time and joining a really strong team with wonderful leadership at the top.  Of course, it's not going to be easy.  There's a world of difference between getting to a church in South Philly by 6:30am and getting to one 35 miles away at that hour.  But what would be the sacrifice for so great a privilege, to work in a building never very far away from the Blessed Sacrament, and where Mass is celebrated twice a day, if the hospital was around the corner from my house? I don't consider this too much for the opportunity I've been given.  I pray I make the most of it.  I never feel like I have very much energy these days and it amazes me that I get anything at all accomplished.

It's not easy, because it's not supposed to be.

"My yoke is easy and My burden is light".

Only with Your help, Dear Lord.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Grace-Filled Evening

This is the sculpture of the Trinity behind the main altar at the shrine

When a friend emailed me to ask if I wanted to go to a pro-life Mass celebrated by Father Frank Pavone and attended by St. Gianna Molla's youngest child, I said yes.  Then I started thinking of all kinds of excuses about why I shouldn't go. I'd have to leave work a little early.  Rush-hour traffic would be abysmal.  It would be crowded. I'd have to miss dinner.  I was tired.  All those excuses did nothing except convince me it was where I needed to be.  I was thrilled when my youngest said she'd like to come, too.

I had never been to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czesochowa before.  I was not disappointed.  In fact, I wished we had gotten there a little earlier so I could explore the grounds a bit more.  As it was, we got there about 20 minutes before Mass began and were lucky to land some of the last remaining seats.

Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla walked in the procession, carrying what I believe was one of her mother's reliquaries.  She is a thin, humble woman who strongly resembles her Saint-mother.  Father Pavone told us it was her first ever visit to the United States.

If Father Corapi demanded rock-star status, Father Pavone is the salt of the earth.  He gave a powerful sermon on why we don't have the right to destroy or demand life.  Powerful as his sermon was, it was the presentation given by Dr. Molla that made you realize you were in the presence of the Divine.  Dr. Molla began her talk in a hoarse voice that revealed she might be fatigued.  Her broken English made her more endearing.  But it was the bits of her parents' letters to each other that helped me realize St. Gianna was a saint even before she gave up her life to bring her youngest daughter into the world.

Perhaps most profound of all was the prayer her father composed shortly after her mother's death whereby he urged his children to pray to their mother in Heaven.  Peter Molla died last year at the age of 98. I have been trying to see if I can find a copy of the prayer someplace but haven't had any luck yet.

BTW, I think there were probably well over a thousand people there last night.  We sat toward the back where we enjoyed an endless symphony of babies babbling, cooing and complaining.  Mass ended and we had no sooner gotten in line to venerate St. Gianna's relics when my beeper and my cell phone both started going off.  All I can say is that the answer to my prayers came today, and from the standpoint of an admittedly weak human being, it couldn't have been soon enough.

Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, youngest child of St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Monday, July 11, 2011

Another Reason to Love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass

The priest who normally says the 6:30 on Monday mornings had a replacement priest this morning.  Not sure what his name was or what his order is or where he came from, but I have to say it was the first time I sincerely wondered whether or not I was assisting at a valid Mass.  When I tell you that the entire Mass was ad-libbed, I am not exaggerating.  When that happens, the congregation doesn't know what response to make.  The Mass takes on an awkward, lurching, rambling direction that resembles anything but a sacred mystery.

Quite simply, this doesn't happen at the Extraordinary Form, or Traditional Latin Mass.  The priest does not make himself the center of attention by leaving the congregation guessing :"Well, what's he going to do or say next?"  He says the black and does the red and the focus is rightly on the Holy Sacrifice.  It's not impossible to do the same with the Novus Ordo, but there simply isn't the opportunity to "experiment".

BTW, Happy Feast Day to all my Benedictine friends, especially Caroline.  There was a time when I entertained becoming an oblate of the Benedictines, but I'm not at all fond of unexpected, uninvited guests, which I imagine is a prerequisite given that hospitality is part of St. Benedict's rule.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wrestling With God

I am once again waiting for an answer about something.  Had I realized that the folks who are making the decision are known to procrastinate and prognosticate to the point where it becomes painful, I would have prepared myself, but I was kind of lead to believe that things were happening quickly.  Now it's all come to a screeching halt.  A verbal yes has yet to give way to a written agreement, without which I cannot safely proceed accordingly.  In this economy, I'm not taking anything for granted.

I actually got a little ticked off at God this week as a result.  It's not something I'm proud of and it's the kind of regression that makes me question how I can have the audacity to say: "Jesus, I trust in You."

When I say: "Your Will be done," what I really meant in this instance is: "Your Will be done, so long as it's what I will."

I was having a conversation with the Lord about this sinfulness of mine and I thought how this is the one way in which I struggle with accepting  Christ was fully human, because He is all-knowing and therefore, never had to wait for an answer.  One of the worst struggles I have in life is accepting that not every prayer will be answered my way (at least not those I ask on behalf of myself personally) and that God does not operate by the same clock that I do.

When you think of the worst trials in your life, is it not true that often, it was "the not knowing" that tried you the most?  If I'm going to get bad news, I prefer to hear it right away.  It is a real trial to have the process long and drawn out.  And perhaps this is where the lesson is that God is repeatedly trying to teach His slow-witted servant.  It is exclusively His domain to be all-knowing.  When I insist on being answered according to my own schedule, the result is turmoil and struggle.

When will I ever learn I cannot wrestle with God and win?  And when will I ever learn that the sooner I accept this, the more at peace I will be?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

THE Best Dissertation Yet on the Fall of Fr. John Corapi

Diane at Te Deum laudumus! has what I consider THE best dissection of the Father John Corapi saga.  It's a bit lengthy but well worth reading.  Particularly distressing to me is the pictorial history she presents.

I have been familiar with Diane's blog for several years now as well as her frequent comments on Father Z's blog. She doesn't have an ax to grind with any of the players in this saga which is why I find her commentary so compelling and convincing.

Novena to Bring the Traditional Latin Mass to the Faithful

So many Catholics are want in this form of the Mass but are denied.  I feel for them as I once lived in the desert known as the badly-done Novus Ordo.  I believe prayer had a great deal to do with why our parish now has this Mass.  I wanted to see if there was a novena that might be appropriate for this petition.  I thought perhaps a novena to St. Pius X would be fitting.  While the novena does not mention the EF of  the Mass, we could nonetheless make this the intention for which we pray.

When I did a Google search for the novena, I found that there was an effort to do this last year, starting on August 25, 2010.  So I would propose making August 25 2011 our start date. It would be great if those of you with your own blogs who are so inclined would spread the word.  BTW, given that my mind ain't what it used to be, perhaps someone might, in their charity, remind me a few days before hand that we're going to do this. I could very well forget, given that I have a sieve for a brain these days.

Here  is the prayer:

Glorious pope of the Eucharist, St. Pius X, you sought “to restore all things in Christ.” Obtain for me a true love of Jesus so that I may live only for Him. Help me to acquire a lively fervor and a sincere will to strive for sanctity of life and that I may avail myself of the riches of the Holy Eucharist, which is sacrifice and sacrament. By your love for Mary, mother and queen, inflame my heart with tender devotion to her.
Blessed model of the priesthood, obtain for us holy, dedicated priests, and increase vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Dispel confusion, hatred, and anxiety. Incline our hearts to peace so that all nations will place themselves under the reign of Christ. Amen.
St. Pius X, pray for me.
(Here mention your request).

The Game Goes On

I just back from the Phillies' extra-inning win over the Braves.  I thought for sure the game was going to get rained out.  As it was, we didn't even take our soaking wet seats until 90 minutes past the scheduled start time, and we no sooner sat down than the tarp made an encore on the field.  Some time after 9pm, the game got started, Roy Halladay on the mound, and in the 10th inning, Raul Ibanez got a walk-off homer. Not bad for a game that nearly got postponed.  We had fantastic seats, courtesy of one of the docs I work with, just 5 rows back from the field, behind 3rd base.  In fact, Rebecca and I both noticed that when Doc was getting ready for his wind-up, it seemed like he was staring right at us.  I can tell you it's quite an intimidating glare he has!

There was a noticeable effort by the players not to toss the ball high into the stands.  In fact, a few of the Braves' players opted not to toss the ball at all to waiting fans.  The tragedy of the previous night in Texas was definitely on many people's minds. I don't know the details of how Shannon Stone was killed, but a father wanting to catch a ball for his young son is a familiar scene at the ball park and not one you expect to end in tragedy.  Very sad.

Every time I leave Citizens' Bank Park or the Wells Fargo Center, I think of how our sporting arenas are like cathedrals for fans who have made a religion out of baseball, football, etc.  What are the odds of 45,000 people coming to see Our Lord night after night?  The answer is a very sad commentary on our priorities.  I love baseball, football and hockey, but all in their proper perspective.  And I can't help but feel a little icky after I go to a game knowing Our Lord does not receive the same adoration as our sports figures do.

I love watching Doc pitch, but good as he is, he never walked on water.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Staple

A summer shoe much more suitable for church than the dreaded flip-flop

I loathe flip-flops.  My preferred summer footwear is the time-honored classic espadrille.  Aside from the fact that you can't wear them in the rain (remind me to tell you about the time I did)  they're summery, comfortable and so far as I'm concerned, always in style.  Espadrilles are not so economical as flip-flops in terms of cost ( the pair pictured above sells for about $30) but I make mine last 2 or 3 summers instead of the intended 1. And I can wear them to church with a nice dress or skirt and not look like a slob sloshing down the aisle for Holy Communion in those dreaded rubber things.  I can't even stand the sound of flip flops.  I really can't.  And the fact that my autistic son shares my low opinion of  them is not lost on me.

The Traditional Latin Mass in Delaware

I found this little gem of a video courtesy of Alison at TotusTuusFamily.  For those of you who have not yet been to a TLM, these little vignettes might be of interest to you.   Allison really captures the beauty of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at both the altar and in the faces of those in the pews.  Thanks Allison!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who Is My Co-Pilot?

A few Sundays ago, we were leaving for dinner at my mom's when I noticed a quite elaborate spider web spun from my side view mirror to the door handle.  The creator of this web was not visible, and I was somewhat saddened to see some little critter's handiwork blown to bits when we got on the highway.

I came out the next morning to leave for Mass, and there was another web.  This time, the spider was resting in it.  I thought the jar of closing the door would awaken it, but it seemed content to stay where it was.  Then I thought perhaps it was dead, but alas, as soon as the car took off, the spider scurried up the web and into the well of my left side-view mirror.

It has been about three weeks since that Sunday and every morning, I come out to the same thing  - an elaborate web in which are trapped all kinds of creatures only a spider could find tasty.  I even find myself slowing down to allow my new friend an opportunity to creep into the safety of the mirror well.

Someone told me I should kill the spider, in case it's of the dreaded brown recluse variety. For all I know, that "breed" of spider does not even exist.  Nope, not going to do it.  Any spider that could survive a daily round-trip commute on I-95 with me behind the wheel deserves every chance to live.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Let All The Earth Keep Silence Before Him

Many thanks to Maria for sending me this link.  Read it, you'll be nodding in agreement.

I managed to sneak out of the house tonight for  30 minutes of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  I thought of St. Therese and her trials.  There was a man there with me, one I'm pretty sure spends his entire day going from church to church.  Clearly a man who loves the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  But for the love of Pete, please, stop clacking your Rosary beads and saying your prayers audibly, especially for the sake of those of us who don't have all day to go from church to church.

BTW, I know a lot of people are shaken by the news about the man formerly known as Father Corapi.  I'm not. I don't want to see a soul so imperiled, particularly one belonging to a priest, but he has no bearing on my faith now or in the future.  My focus is and will remain on the Eucharist.   It's my lifeline. I only wish It had been his, too.

For the Love of Money...

...we get this?

Priests who do not want to live like priests.

What are we prepared to do about it?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's So Extraordinary About the Traditional Latin Mass?

Here are a few very simple reasons.

The Mystery

When I was still toying with the decision of whether or not to come home, I went to my first Mass at the Carmelite Monastery.  I was late and walked in during the Gloria from the Missa de Angelis.  It was like being dropped into another universe.  Although this was a Novus Ordo Mass, it was celebrated ad orientem, as are all the public Masses at the Monastery.  I had never experienced a Mass with such mystique.  Try as we might, none of us can comprehend how simple bread and wine become the Flesh and Blood of the Divine Savior.  Why shouldn't the way in which the Mass is celebrated be redolent of mystery?

The Reverence

Every time the newly-ordained deacon at our Novus Ordo low Mass crosses the tabernacle, I want to yell: "For the love of God, man, GENUFLECT!".  This is never a problem at the TLM.  No one ever crosses the tabernacle without reverencing the Divine Presence.  When you allow people to receive Holy Communion in the hand, with as much reverence as you'd dispense a potato chip, isn't it any wonder there is so little respect for the Blessed Sacrament?  When you treat the Eucharist as though it's an every day object to be taken for granted, people soon react that way.  This doesn't happen at the TLM.

The Music

The music we hear at Mass should lift us to the Lord, not attempt to drag Him down to earth.  There is zero chance you will hear "On Eagles Wings" at the TLM.

The Modesty

The ladies who regularly attend our TLM are as well-dressed and beautiful as any I've seen anywhere and they manage to do this without unnecessarily exposing themselves or causing a distraction in any way.  Same for the gentlemen.  Priests have enough trouble with the devil knocking at their door constantly.  Why would any woman dress for Mass in a way that is provocative and could lead others, including the priest, into sin?  The men leave their false idols at home on Sundays. No baseball caps or t-shirts sporting their favorite team.    No sir.  The focus is rightly on the Lord.

The Children

Maybe I'm imagining things, but it's seldom that a parent has to take a screaming or disruptive child outside at the TLM.  I marvel at how quiet the two young children who sit in front of us each week are.  If I didn't see them in front of me, I'd never know they were there.  And their mother never has to pull out Cheerios or a sippy cup or any other amusements for them.

The Silence

Our pastor has taken to celebrating the usual 7pm Mass on the evening of Feast Days in the Extraordinary Form, rather then the Ordinary Form.  Every once in awhile,  Novus Ordo regulars will attend and behave as they do normally, meaning they yak it up before Mass.  But the dead quiet surrounding them soon lets them know they're out of place and doing something wrong and before long, the chatter subsides.  If only they would carry this into the Novus Ordo with them.  People behave as though they're leaving a bingo hall.  This simply doesn't happen at the TLM.  People greet each other outside the church, but they leave in silence so those who wish to make their thanksgiving after Holy Communion and Mass may do so in the sacred silence.

"The Lord is in His Holy Temple.  Let all the earth keep silence before Him".

Could it Get Any Worse?

Than this?

Thankfully, my faith is in the Lord, not in men.  Still,  this simply boggles the mind.  I will continue to pray for Corapi but most especially I will pray that God will lend His help to priests who haven't fallen but are struggling.  Our prayers are the lifelines that may keep them from drowning.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Day After

Sorry I didn't post anything about the wedding but I've had a killer headache all day.  I was hoping to have some photos to post but we're having technical difficulties, so hopefully they'll be forthcoming very soon.

Happy July 4th!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Worth a Visit

Please go over to Patricia's blog to see what is quite possibly the most beautiful post I've read on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the love He has for all of us.

Tonight was the first of what I hope will be many Saturday evenings at the private Adoration chapel.  The hour flew by so quickly. I hate the thought of Our Lord sitting all alone, yet how I love being all alone with Him.  I have to say that the few times someone else was there with me, they were exceedingly quiet and respectful, so no cause for distraction.

Our Sure Refuge: Her Immaculate Heart

Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, help of Christians, refuge of the human race, victorious in all the battles of God, we prostrate ourselves in supplication before thy throne, in the sure hope of obtaining mercy and of receiving grace and timely aid in our present calamities, not through any merits of our own, on which we do not rely, but only through the immense goodness of thy mother's heart. In thee and in thy Immaculate Heart, at this grave hour of human history, do we put our trust; to thee we consecrate ourselves, not only with all of Holy Church, which is the mystical body of thy Son Jesus, and which is suffering in so many of her members, being subjected to manifold tribulations and persecutions, but also with the whole world, torn by discords, agitated with hatred, the victim of its own iniquities. Be thou moved by the sight of such material and moral degradation, such sorrows, such anguish, so many tormented souls in danger of eternal loss! Do thou, O Mother of mercy, obtain for us from God a Christ-like reconciliation of the nations, as well as those graces which can convert the souls of men in an instant, those graces which prepare the way and make certain the long desired coming of peace on earth. O Queen of peace, pray for us, and grant peace unto the world in the truth, the justice, and the charity of Christ.
Above all, give us peace in our hearts, so that the kingdom of God may spread its borders in the tranquility of order. Accord thy protection to unbelievers and to all those who lie within the shadow of death; cause the Sun of Truth to rise upon them; may they be enabled to join with us in repeating before the Savior of the world: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will."
Give peace to the nations that are separated from us by error or discord, and in a special manner to those peoples who profess a singular devotion toward thee; bring them back to Christ's one fold, under the one true Shepherd. Obtain full freedom for the holy Church of God; defend her from her enemies; check the ever-increasing torrent of immorality, arouse in the faithful a love of purity, a practical Christian life, and an apostolic zeal, so that the multitude of those who serve God may increase in merit and in number.
Finally, even as the Church and all mankind were once consecrated to the Heart of thy Son Jesus, because He was for all those who put their hope in Him an inexhaustible source of victory and salvation, so in like manner do we consecrate ourselves forever to thee also and to thy Immaculate Heart, O Mother of us and Queen of the world; may thy love and patronage hasten the day when the kingdom of God shall be victorious and all the nations, at peace with God and with one another, shall call thee blessed and intone with thee, from the rising of the sun to its going down, the everlasting "Magnificat" of glory, of love, of gratitude to the Heart of Jesus, in which alone we can find truth, life, and peace. Amen
(Source: Scott P Richert)

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Goodness of the Lord

My sister's wedding rehearsal dinner was scheduled for tonight, which left me with a lump in my throat knowing I would not be able to get to the Visitation Monastery for Mass on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.  I was fortunate to get to early morning Mass, but I wanted to do more.  Once our schedule finished up, I left work and went to a church which has confessions Wednesday thru Saturday and adoration 6 days a week.  (Every day but Sunday, go figure).

The priest I had is one who struggles with words.  Even when he reads, he forgets things and gets himself all mixed up.  I know it must be so humbling for him.  During  absolution, he forgot part of the words, and he was stammering and stuttering and after an uncomfortable lapse of time that felt like minutes ticking away,  I inadvertently prompted him.

"Thank you" he said and continued.  I wanted to say "you know, Father, if you read the words, it would be easier for you" but I didn't.

I had something on my conscience that I really wanted to confess.  It made me think of how great God is to us.  He takes this fumble-bumble of a priest and empowers him to act in His Name to forgive us our sins.  So even though I could remember the words to absolution better than this priest obviously does, and even though I wouldn't be caught dead ad libbing or saying the words from memory, none of it matters.  This man who listened to my confession is a priest of God, and no matter how badly he screws up, the Lord still acts through him to cleanse me of my sins.

Meanwhile, never second-guess the Lord.  A man who is normally at the 6:30 each morning has been battling cancer for years.  Yet every morning, he drags himself, sometimes literally, to Mass.  Every so often, he has some kind of relapse requiring hospitalization and I wonder to myself if this will be the end of him, and lo and behold, days or even a week or two later, he reappears.  I almost want to call him Lazarus.

A few months ago, he looked like he was on his last legs. I urged him to see his doctor and he told me he had an appointment for that afternoon.  The next morning when I didn't see him, I assumed he was back in the hospital.  Only this time, he was gone for weeks, and the weeks turned into months. One of the other regulars told me had to go into a skilled nursing facility.  Every weekend I had good intentions of taking a walk to see him, and one thing or another would come up and the chance would pass me by.  I actually got to the point where I would glance at the obits each day to see if his name popped up.

God has other ideas.

I looked up the other day, and there he was, looking decidedly thinner, paler and slower, but still able to walk to Mass.  I nearly said what I was thinking, which was: "My God, I thought you were going to die."

Still haven't learned not to second guess the Lord, still making a fool of myself.

This man does not want to die. I don't know when I've seen such a will to live.

God knows that, and He is so good.

God is so good to us.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart

Be sure to pause today in grateful appreciation for and in reparation to the Heart that loves men so much.  I'm going to do my best.  There are the usual suspects who will make that as difficult as they can for me.

May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised, adored and loved, now and forever. Amen