Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Hand-Holding Thing and Other Minor Annoyances

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

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

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

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

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

 I left her speechless.

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

In the Most Unlikely Places

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

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

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

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

Latin Mass tradition inspires in S. Phila.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Translation, Same Old Bad Behaviors

I went to the vigil Mass at 5pm at our parish last evening.  Rebecca was lectoring and even if she wasn't, I confess I would have gone anyway just to be able to herald in the new translation of the Roman Missal.  I have to say that our pastor prepared us well for the changes and there were no glitches of which I was aware.  However...

The same old lady who walks around before Mass discussing the most inane topics, going from pew to pew to ask her cronies what they ate for Thanksgiving dinner.  I went to confession, even though I wasn't "due yet",  to avoid having to listen and to resist the temptation of shouting at her: "What part of KEEP A RESPECTFUL SILENCE IN CHURCH OUT OF REVERENCE FOR THE BLESSED SACRAMENT DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?"

That leads me to the next touchy subject - badly-behaved parents who bring out-of-control children to Mass.

Let me say this outright, at the risk of offending some:  Your right to hear Mass with a screaming, uncontrollable child in tow ends where it impairs my ability to hear ANYTHING.  Some of the folks who come to the vigil Mass with children have taken to sitting together, with the belief that if their little darlings have companions readily nearby they'll be more apt to sit quietly.  I have yet to see this theory yield any success.  I think one of the mothers must be totally oblivious because she makes no effort whatsoever to silence her child, who likes to amuse herself by listening to the sound of her screaming voice.  Once this child was wailing in agony over something as her mother wheeled her stroller up  the handicap ramp and into the church.  Anyone else with a lick of common sense would have waited for the tantrum to end before subjecting the entire congregation to this commotion, which prevented us from being able to hear anything. I don't know how the priest manages not to explode.

Last night, the cacophony began with the usual suspect yelling, followed by the children in front of her loudly banging the kneelers up and down (until enough of us shot the parents a look) followed by one of the mothers answering her cell phone DURING THE CONSECRATION.  I thought I was going to lose my mind.  Changing my seat wasn't even possible because the church was very crowded and the only recourse would have been to stand in the back, which is not permitted.

I do not mind the sound of a child cooing, fussing slightly, or even babbling but there comes a point where parents have to draw the line.  You either have control over your kids or you don't.  I'm not going to get into parenting abilities and whether it is possible to silence a two-year-old with a mind of their own.  The point is, if your children behave like the ones I described above, you should not bring them to Mass until they are able to sit without disturbing others.

It strikes me, and I may be wrong, that these parents are the kind that let their kids roam freely in a restaurant, risking injury to themselves and the servers carrying hot food and beverages and disturbing the peace for other diners.  Dining out is not sacred.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is.  Get a sitter, get some control, or stay home.

There were other things to send my blood boiling last night.  A sometime visitor who thinks she can sing, who belted out the Our Father so loudly that she drowned out the priest.  Next, during the Agnus Dei, she bellowed at such volume that we could no longer hear the cantor.  Hey, if you have a nice voice, or rather, if you think you have a nice voice, by all means sing, but DO NOT sing so loudly that you make a spectacle of yourself.

Then there was the crazy guy who skipped back to his pew after Holy Communion.

Was there a full moon last night?

The new translation?  No problem.  The same old "me first" and "hey, look at me" behaviors?  That's a whole other story!

Thank God we have the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, where this nonsense does not take place.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shameless Plug

Yours truly and her youngest progeny were interviewed for an op-ed piece on the Traditional Latin Mass at St. Paul Church in Philadelphia.  It appears on the first page of the Currents section of the Philadelphia Inquirer tomorrow.  We got an advance copy of the newspaper this morning.  This makes observance of the First Sunday in Advent AND the new translation even more exciting.  I'll post a link as soon as the on-line version is available.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time to Make the Brine

Admittedly, this is a much easier traditional task than making fastnachts before Lent but it's still an activity that gives me agita.  I always fret over having a big enough pot and enough room in the fridge to chill the solution that will bathe the turkey tomorrow night into Thanksgiving morning and which will help produce the tastiest and juiciest bird ever.

Shortly, I'll be headed into the kitchen to boil the water and kosher salt.  I always replace a little of the water that the recipe requires with apple cider, but not more than a cup.  The sugar in the cider can cause the turkey to brown too fast so I have to be careful about using just the right amount.   The most daunting task comes tomorrow, when it's time to bag the turkey in the brine and safely get it into the refrigerator.

The first year I decided to do this,  I charged my husband with retrieving the bird from the cellar fridge on Thanksgiving morning.  He had his LL Bean slippers on and I told him to change his shoes first.  Did he listen to me?  Does he ever?  A few steps from the top, he stumbled, badly, and at that moment, I had no concern whatsoever for his safety.  All I could imagine was gallons of brine pouring down the steps along with the turkey.  This was almost as bad as the Christmas Eve when I found him dangling from the attic by one hand, the other securely grasping one of my son's gifts.  Again, the dreaded slippers were to blame.

Now you know why I always ask you to pray for me.


We picked the turkey up last Tuesday from our CSA farmer.  The turkeys he got this year are from the same Mennonite farm that makes the organic yogurt that is to die for.  The turkey came frozen. With a week to go, shouldn't be a problem, right?  What kind of refrigeration could the Mennonites possibly have?  We put the turkey in the cellar fridge the day it arrived and the critter has still not entirely defrosted.  It may have to sit out on the counter for a little while.  I'm not making Thanksgiving dinner this year, but we are going to the home of a cousin who invites a trillion people, so I agreed to go on the condition that we could bring a turkey with us.  Bringing a half-frozen, half-cooked bird would not be cool.

Monday, November 21, 2011

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

No, not really - just some housekeeping notes.

If you are new to the blog, welcome.  If you have a blog and I haven't returned the favor of following yours, please let me know so I can rectify that.

Some of you have sent me personal notes that were not meant for publication.  Please know that I received them and I thank you for your heartfelt words and encouragement.

Always remember this - I am not a saint.

But I intend to get holy or die trying.

God bless

The Last Few Leaves

I had a rare Monday off.  I so love not having to go work outside the house on Mondays and having the day free to do things around the house, etc.  This morning, after early Mass and Adoration, I set out to visit my priest friend that I wrote about a few weeks ago.  My friend gave me the necessary kick in the behind that I needed to get out there and so I made my way to see him.

I will keep the details of our last conversation to myself but I will tell you that I do not regret having visited Father.  He was very weak and unable to say very much, but the smile that crossed his face when I slipped a novena card of St. Therese into his hand was precious.  He once told me that every time he privately offered Mass, he invited the Little Flower to be with him.  The fact that this card was blessed by Pope Benedict when I was in Rome made it even more special.

As I was talking to Father, I looked out his window and noticed a tree.  It had lost most of its leaves except for a few bright yellow ones that stubbornly clung to the branches.  I thought of how fitting it was that this tree should be visible from Father's window because it was so like him, with the last bit of life still there and still gloriously beautiful.  Yet soon the tree will go into dormition to produce an even greater splendor in the spring.

Please keep Father in your prayers.  He is on his cross now and all I can do to help him is pray for him.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Something Sweet for Sunday

I'll Wait

When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who never raised her voice or got angry.  Sometimes, the class would get a little noisy and when she wanted silence, she would simply say "I'll wait".  It was all it took to gain control over the class.

Yesterday, when I got to Mass, I had my usual hundred things on my mind.  Someone asked if they could speak to me after Mass, someone else was struggling to get a kneeler down and needed help and when I finally settled into my pew, it took me a minute to fully realize I was in the Presence of the Lord.

Patiently,  Jesus waits until we collect ourselves and attend to Him as we should.  And I wonder why He continues to send me distractions during Mass and Adoration and I have the nerve to complain about it?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Go in Haste

My mom and I had an outing planned to Lancaster County today, so I went to Mass and Adoration early.  The priest who offered Mass is very devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and whenever possible, he always celebrates her votive Mass on Saturdays.  Afterward, I was meditating on the Joyful Mysteries and I remembered an image of Mary being told by the Angel Gabriel that her cousin Elizabeth was with child and Mary going off without delay to visit her.

I thought of St. Therese's words to Mary, about how Jesus wanted her to be the example of the soul searching for Him in the night.  But Mary was also an example of the soul who receives Him in the Eucharist.  Mary, who was the first human to receive Him, did not bask in the honor given to her.  Instead, she put herself aside and set off immediately to greet and wait upon Elizabeth.

I don't know why I wanted to write about this, except that I recently had to explain to someone who is not Catholic how praying the Rosary, which is made up predominantly of prayers to Mary, can be pleasing to God.  I did my best to explain that it is because it is through Mary's eyes that we contemplate the Gospel Mysteries.  All that she asks of us is never for herself but for us to draw closer to her Divine Son.

Just like St. Therese.

Friday, November 18, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

This has nothing to do with religion, except of course what a marvel of God's creation the human body is.  This is one of my all-time favorite Super Bowl ads, second only to last year's Darth Vader/VW spot.

'Tis the Season

I thought I'd cease talking about myself for once and share a story of inspiration that I heard yesterday.   The health system that owns our hospital is very engaged in the community it serves.  Part of its engagement is an apartment complex it owns where families in need are given a place to live.  One of the nursing units decided last year to adopt one of the families that was being placed in the complex.  The mom, dad and two very young children had been living in their car.  They were most grateful to have a place to live but the apartment was a mess and they had no means to make it habitable.  Enter the nursing staff.

The nurses, assistants and unit clerks teamed together to scour the apartment, paint it, clean the rugs, and decorate it so that it would be a home.  Their work took place over several weeks including weekends.  Not content to simply provide a living space, the group went so far as to buy the children matching pajamas and to add other little touches, like a toothbrush holder complete with toothbrushes and other toiletries.

The little family was overwhelmed with joy when they moved in to their new home.  A year later, they have regained their footing and the nursing unit is now looking for another family to adopt.

There are so many times when I'm exhausted and think I deserve some extra merit simply because I go to work every day, and then I hear about a story like the one above and realize how very much more I can do.
It's easy to write a check or drop a few dollars into a kettle.  But giving of ourselves takes so much more, and yet we should be grateful that those in need give us the opportunity to lend a helping hand on behalf of the Lord, who fed the poor, healed the sick and welcomed the weary and will continue to do so through His people.

How will I answer His call?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

With Grateful Thanksgiving to Charles Untz

As you know, I am hopeful that the cause of this young man will result in his eventual canonization.  Last year, I made a novena to him on behalf of a seminarian who is  battling brain cancer.  While the seminarian has not been cured, he has been called as candidate to the priesthood and his cancer remains stable.

I asked Charles to allow to come to fruition for this seminarian what had been denied to Charles himself when he was taken so suddenly in a tragic accident - that is, the priesthood.  I know Charles is now where Jesus intended for him to be, and that if God wills it, the seminarian will reach ordination some day.  I know in my heart that my prayers were heard.  I will continue to pray to this saint and to make known his cause, but not only in pursuit of canonization.  More importantly, I pray that more people, both young and old, will be moved by his holiness and will aspire to be more like him.

All for the glory of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

In Thanksgiving to St. Therese for Her Glorious Intercession

Last year I made a novena to St. Therese for the fiancee of a former co-worker.  The man was in heart failure and awaiting a heart transplant.  His condition was so tenuous that he couldn't safely leave the hospital until he got a new heart.  When I left, I never heard any more and quite honestly, I pray for so many people that he slipped my mind.  (My bad, I know).

Yesterday, I got a call from the woman and I was shocked to see that the call was coming from within the hospital.  For a moment, I thought "wow, she works here  now, too" but that was not the nature of her call.  Not only did her fiancee get his transplant, but they married soon after and she had just delivered their first child.  She was calling to see if I'd like to come visit the new addition.  She would like to have a copy of the novena booklet and it will be my pleasure to provide it.

Amid the joyous news came a sobering announcement that the son of another co-worker was undergoing treatment for brain cancer while the mother of another co-worker is awaiting direction for treatment of metastatic uterine cancer.  Please remember them in your prayers. I will once again be asking St. Therese to intercede.

Thank you St. Therese, for the veritable deluge of favors with which you have showered the faithful who have recourse to you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If I Could Have Helped You Carry Your Load

My workplace is in the midst of some major restructuring.  The changes were not proposed to punish anyone but to make sure that we're solvent as we go into uncharted territory.  Major changes are coming to the way hospitals are reimbursed.  As you might imagine, there is quite a bit of anxiety.  Sometimes when people are anxious, they lash out at each other instead of banding together.

I especially felt under attack yesterday by someone who I have sensed resents my presence and my authority.  I walked away from a rather tense meeting wondering why I get up so early and drive so far to put up with such abuse.  Part of me just wanted to run out the door and never come back, but I decided this would not be prudent in the least, especially in our current economy.  This is probably also the reaction the offending person was hoping for.  I concluded that I needed to get used to the idea that I'm pretty much on my own as my boss is powerless to do much about our challenges right now and that my only real help comes from the Lord.

There was a sense of peace that came over me.  In a moment of loneliness, I realized that it's times like these that bring us closest to the Lord.  Rather than give in to despair, which I'm sometimes quick to do, I chose to see my situation as way to share in the rejection and anguish of the Savior.  Still, I found myself growing teary-eyed.

I went back to my office to get  ready to leave for the day.  There was a knock at the door and it was one of my nurses, a very pleasant, bright and capable young lady who is mature beyond her years.  She came to deliver some news that I'd sensed would be coming almost from the time I met her.  She will be leaving to pursue her doctorate.  Part of me was hoping she would take a charge nurse position and she knew this, so she wanted to come and talk to me personally.  She told me she wished I had arrived a year earlier so we could have worked together longer.

"The good people here, the ones that put their heads down and do their jobs and never complain - they really love you." , she said.  "I don't know why, but I felt like you needed to hear that right now."

Although I admit to feeling a little heartbroken that I would be losing such a strong ally, I also knew that the Lord sent her as a gift at a time when I needed a lift.  He couldn't help but reach down and find a way to dry my tears.

 I sat in the chapel tonight before leaving for home, and I thought of the challenges that would await me when I return tomorrow.  St. Therese came to mind.  She wrote about degrees of holiness.  She knew that in order to be a saint, we need to offer much.  It occurred to me that rather than look to the Lord to shoulder my burden, I should present myself to Him so He could, if He so chose, to let me carry it myself and thus offer some consolation to His Sacred Heart.

I was not there to help Him carry His Cross.  But if I try to carry my own without complaining, perhaps it might ease the pain of rejection that comes His way from so many neglectful souls.

"I will not be a saint by halves!" cried St. Therese, as she reflected on the ways we can grow in holiness.  I hope I will not be either.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Go in Peace, Glorifying the Lord by Your Life

I asked myself how many times I've honestly done this and the answer is probably "far fewer times than I should have."

Isn't this the reason we go to Mass?  To take the grace and strength we receive from the Eucharist to go forth and bring Christ to others through our words and deeds?

We are sent forth, just as Christ sent forth the Apostles, to make disciples of all men.  Let's never forget it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Missed Opportunity and The New Translation

At the conclusion of the Noon Mass yesterday, at a parish not my own, the priest took the opportunity to talk a little about the new Missal translation that begins two Sundays from now.  I was disappointed in his remarks.  He said if the laity thought it was going to be difficult, imagine what it's like for the priests.  He went on to say how most of the changes were good and then quickly corrected himself and said they were all good, then added "I guess."

Next, he told the congregation it was going to be difficult to learn the changes and it would be a year before everyone was comfortable with them.

If you only go to Mass once a week, it might take you a year, so I think he missed an opportunity.  He should have encouraged people to get all the practice they can with the new translation by going to Mass as frequently as they could.

In my  parish, our pastor has been using the Ordinary Form for the past month or so to introduce a different part of the translation and allowing the faithful to practice it, such as the Sanctus and the Gloria.  I have no idea what they've  been doing in the parish I was at yesterday because I don't go there on Sundays but my guess is that you're on your own.  No wonder the priest thinks it's going to be such a struggle.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Give Me a Break

We can have scantily-clad cheerleaders, but we can't have this

My husband, who has a talent for getting under my skin at just the right time, insists on watching the Penn State-Nebraska game.  The commentators just reported that Joe Paterno hasn't been sighted today, but two young men were seen entering the yard at his home and kneeling down on the ground in prayer with the same reverence they might in a cathedral.

Maybe if more people got on their knees for the right reason, outrages like the one that has Penn State in its grips  wouldn't be so commonplace.

Meanwhile, after the prayers of petition, the priest who said Mass today took the opportunity to comment on the Penn State scandal and to remind us to pray for the victims.  I don't know if this scandal rises to the level of needing special mention at Mass, although it's certainly not wrong to ask people to pray for the innocent who were violated by a pedophile.

The fact that we hold some sports figures as icons on a level with the Almighty tells us all we need to know about priorities.

Meanwhile, in the NFL, there has hardly been a more scrutinized rookie quarterback than Tim Tebow.  You know why?  Because Tebow is not afraid to display his faith.  God forbid, we can't have that in America.  We can have the Kardashian wedding, and the Conrad Murray circus, and we can award a multi-million dollar contract to a dog killer named Michael Vick, but what we can't have is an accomplished young athlete giving God the glory on the football field.  Nope, we'd rather have risque touchdown dances and players taking each other's heads off.

So long as more people remain more committed to football and Hollywood than they are to their faith, this lunacy will continue.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The World Spins Upside Down - Again

I have to make this quick. I have a date at 8pm - at the Adoration Chapel.  Sister called me this week, thrilled that someone had signed up for some of the hours during which Jesus usually sits alone.  I look forward to it.

Some years ago my oldest went to Penn State for the weekend to visit a friend, who had tickets to the football game against Notre Dame.  "Mom, you should have seen the signs.  Those people are crazy about football. "

Apparently, one sign read: "You have Jesus, we have Joe Pa". Another read: " If God is not a Penn State fan, why is the sky blue and white?"

You might think Joe Paterno was some kind of messiah by the reaction his firing instigated.  Forgotten in the melee were the victims of sexual abuse who lost their innocence all too soon to a pervert posing as nice guy.  The sordid details were eerily reminiscent of the Church abuse scandal.  A bunch of men more interested in protecting an institution than innocent children.  Anyway, I think the college should cancel their game against Nebraska on Saturday.  It won't restore the childhood that was stolen by a sexual predator but it would be the one decent thing that could be done.

On the news, we just saw where retailers are planning to open their doors on Thanksgiving, a holiday traditionally meant for families to observe together.  What does anyone need so badly that they can't wait one more day to buy it?  I saw footage of people nearly trampling each other to death to get through the doors at Wal-Mart at 5am last year on Black Friday.  What does this have to do with the Birth of the Savior, Who was born into abject poverty?  How many of those folks would be willing to stand in line all night to receive Holy Communion at 5am?   How many of  them leave before Mass concludes each week?  How many of them even bother going in the first place?

'Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and woodworm destroy them and thieves can break in and steal.
But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworm destroys them and thieves cannot break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there is your heart also' - St. Matthew Chap. 6

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Log, Meet Eye

I have a most wonderful mother. If I were to list all that she does for me, I'd run out breath before the list was complete. She's a very selfless and devoted person.   However, at the time in my life when I needed her most, she wanted no part of me.  It's why I'm so thrilled that Rebecca loves to be around me and why it's so important for me to be there for her.I sometimes wonder if I would have taken some of the wrong turns I did had I gotten a little bit of direction.

I have been thinking about this a bit lately as my youngest grows in years and wisdom.  I feel she is cut from a different cloth than most girls her age and I want to do all I can to foster the goodness and holiness that I see in her.  I sometimes wonder why I took the path I did and it's difficult not to think what direction I might have taken had I gotten a little guidance when I most needed it.

On the other hand, I think if I had done all the right things with Caitlin, she might be on a different path right now than the experimental route she has chosen to take.  So who am I to question my mother?

Log, meet eye.

It is a wonder of God's love that He would give me this child and the opportunity to get things right.  My life went where it did and now it's time to help my children get theirs where they  need to be.  It would be easy to blame my mother for the bad choices I made as a teenager but the truth is that I am responsible for those choices and while my mother might have been able to save me from some of the pits into which I fell, there is only so much any parent can do.  And yet as parents, we're compelled to do all we can.

In a way, God has given me a second chance.  Sometimes I feel like He's saying: "You didn't exactly get it right for yourself, so I have given you this child so you can figure out for yourself what you should have done, without blaming anyone else for your failures."

In a way, He gave my mother a second chance, too.  Grandchildren, as one comedian used to joke, are God's way of letting grandparents earn their way into Heaven.  I don't know of a more devoted one than she is.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Playing Hooky

I'm home today. I've been fighting off some malady since Saturday that seems to come and go and I decided it wasn't doing me any good to keep trying to overcome it while going to work so, here I am, feeling a little guilty because it's been ingrained in me to never, ever  call out sick, unless you're dead, in which case you'd better have the courtesy of phoning in before you keel over. Well, I'm not dead but there have been times these past few days when I didn't feel far from it, so here I am.

I met with a lawyer this week to discuss fighting my case against my former employer.  He was hopeful we had a strong suit that might set a precedent for others to follow.  You know what? I came home and decided the last thing I want to do is fight an Ivy League institution.  Life is too short and there are more worthwhile things to battle, so I'm going to step aside, let them believe they won, and let God sort it out.  In God's grand scheme of things: What do I care?

Like the day I handed over my beautiful icon from Gargano, I don't think it's really me who made that decision.  All of the best that I am comes not from myself but from the One I hope finds a place to dwell within.  What's a few thousand dollars as compared to suffering scorn, derision and death on a cross?

Anyway, my employees are getting a little too spoiled by me, so it will be good for them to imagine what life was like without me and then maybe count their blessings.

Now that I have a job in what could be called "the country", I have been thinking a lot about the days when my oldest and I were so enmeshed in the horse world.  I cannot see a dirt trail in the woods without wondering if it's a bridle path.  There was nothing like the Fall for riding cross-country.  The gorgeous color of the leaves on the trees and underfoot provided a bucolic setting that was unmatched at any other time of the year.  There are times when I miss those days so much, it aches to think about them.  I saw the four seasons and God's creation in a way few people are afforded, on a daily basis.  The problem was that all of it revolved not around God, but around one of His most noble creatures.  The challenge was to appreciate the horse's unrivaled beauty without making him an idol.   Since I didn't manage  that very well, it was best to just move on, so I did.

Have a blessed day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Taking Stock

Last week, I hit a bit of a low. I realized that even though I mostly make God the center of my life on Sundays, I'm still a tad too attached to sporting events, namely American football.   My favorite team was playing my least favorite team on national television last Sunday evening. My favorite team got soundly thrashed by my least favorite team.  For awhile, I held back hope of a comeback.  My son, who is notorious for waiting until 10pm Sunday evening to tell me he needs something for 8am Monday morning, made the mistake of trying to plead his case during a crucial down.  I shushed him.

"Can't you see it's third down and my team hasn't scored a single point yet?"

Actually, he's oblivious to that sort of thing.  Rebecca was not pleased with my reply.

"Stop watching football and start being a mother!"

Well.  I guess I've been told, I thought.

I got up the next morning resolved that it would the last time I'd get so worked up about a sporting event.

Normally, on my drive to work, I pray my Chaplet to St. Michael, and when I'm finished, I turn on the radio and listen to the local sports talk show.  I decided Monday morning that I wouldn't be listening anymore.  I picked out a few of the chant CD's not already in my car.  If my hand went anywhere near the FM dial, I asked God to slap it away for me.  In the scheme of things, it won't matter who won the Super Bowl, who converted on third down or how many times my favorite quarterback threw an interception.  When I snapped at my procrastinating son, I was no better than the nuts who leave the stadium after a loss and engage in games of road rage.

I announced to my family Monday at dinner that I wouldn't be following the Cowboys anymore.  At least not until their next game!

My other resolution was to spend more time at the Adoration chapel.  When I went on Friday evening, the Lord was all alone and had been for hours.  I saw a note urging people to please sign up for a regular hour each week so that they chapel would always be covered.  I signed up for an hour every Friday.  A much more productive way to spend my time than watching sports.

When yesterday rolled around, I did my best to take it all in stride.  Suddenly, I remembered that I had wanted to visit a member of our parish who was recently admitted to a nursing home.  I turned off the television well before the game ended and took Rebecca with me.  She had never been to a nursing home before and I had forgotten to prepare her a bit for what she was going to see.

Our friend is in great shape compared to the others he's now housed with and deep down I hated the thought of him having to spend the rest of his days in so depressing a place.  The residents looked like they were well cared for, but they also looked lonely, bored and out of it.  Every once in awhile we'd hear an outburst when a woman who couldn't speak would yell in frustration.  I had been in places like this many times during nursing school, but I wondered what Rebecca thought.

We found our friend's room and walked past his roommate, who was clearly dying, to greet him.  I looked at the man lying in bed, obviously nearing the end of his days, and said hello and that I was sorry for disturbing him. He nodded and waved back.  Our friend told us to go down to the dining room and he'd meet us there.

It wasn't much of a dining room.  There was a sofa in front of a television tuned to the ABC Family channel. No one was paying any mind to it, even though its volume was set deafeningly loud.  Our friend joined us in his wheelchair and we chatted for awhile.  We made small talk and told him how poorly the church was running without him.  The aides were beginning to wheel some of the residents in for their Sunday meal, so we made it short and sweet. I told our friend I knew this was not easy but that I would pray it was short-term.  I asked him if he was offering this time up as penance and he laughed.  He said he most certainly was offering it up.

 It was sad to leave our friend behind. I have been in many nursing homes and I have to say this is one of the saddest.  It's hard for me to accept that this is the best we can do for people at the end of their lives.

As we made our way through the winding corridor to the exit, a large,  pleasant man pushing a cart passed us.  I surmised the cart contained Sunday dinner.

"I'll bet the food's not very good here," Rebecca said.

"I have a feeling you're right."

When we got back out onto the street, I tried to find out what the score was.

"What does it matter?" my youngest asked me, in exasperation.  Good question.

At the end of my life, the Lord will give no merit for what my favorite football team did on any given Sunday.  He may, however, look with mercy on the way we spent a beautiful Fall afternoon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What Father Knows About Adoration and the Priesthood

Go to Vultis Christi and read it there.  It's short and to the point and right on target.

Thoughts on Priesthood and Adoration

What David Knew About Goliath

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,  I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.  The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine." I  Book of Samuel, 17

The other day, I sat in a meeting with a few other managers and our boss, where we discussed a list of rather daunting tasks that await us.  I hadn't been able to get to Mass before the meeting and it had already been a morning full of challenges that at times seemed insurmountable.  My boss remained very calm  as we vented and complained and gave her reason after reason why we could not succeed unless our load was lightened.  And then she pulled that piece of scripture out and read it to us.  She concluded by saying: "We can do all things by putting our trust in the Lord.  Call on Him to help you, and He will."

Here was  I, the daily communicant, being reminded by an Evangelical Christian that we should never despair or complain because we are not abandoned or left alone to fend for ourselves.

We never know how the Lord is going to help us.  We don't need to know.  We have only to say: I give this all to You, Lord.  Guide me along the right path, strengthen me to fulfill what You will in this matter, and I will put my head down and forge ahead, knowing You are there with me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Infinite Divine Mercy

My elderly priest friend appears to be reaching the final days of his life.  I learned this early this morning before I left for work.  There is a little bit of a story leading up to how I found out.

I was invited to go to a "reunion" of sorts with the group I traveled to Italy with just a month ago.  I was hesitant but I knew it meant a lot to my friend, so I said yes, and then with all the running we did this week with the TLM's and the photography, etc. I was just worn out by the time last night rolled around, so I made my apologies and didn't go.  Part of me thought I really should because it was something that would put me out of my comfort zone and I could offer it up, but I got home so late I decided to just hit the couch.  I could tell by my friend's response that  she was sad I would not be joining the group and I thought, "well, they'll get along just as well without me."

I was surprised to see that it was well after midnight when my friend emailed me with the sad news.  She was still cleaning up from the little gathering and wanted me to know that Father's family had contacted her and thought that he was fading quickly.  She wanted me to know that she and another priest friend would be driving out to see him.  The last words of her email were like a sword going through me:

"Pray for Father.  He always asked for you and thought of you fondly.  Divine Mercy"

Here, I had just disappointed her by begging out of her little gathering, and she still made the effort to temper the news she was delivering by telling me something she knew would help ease some of the sadness I would be feeling upon learning that our friend might be leaving us soon.  Not a petty bone in her body.

It had been a few years since I had driven out to see Father in the Monastery.  I always worried that my visits wore him out. He always looked ready for a nap and he would yawn frequently. He was in his 80's and had multiple health issues so it wasn't like it would be unusual for someone that age to be tired by a visit, but if Father didn't want to see me, he would not have invited me.  Still, I wrote to him all the time and relished his letters back, even as his handwriting became nearly impossible to decipher.  I had sent him a photo of Rebecca, wearing a shawl as she followed the visiting Cardinal down the aisle after Mass, and Father wrote back to me: "Rebecca looks like a nun already.  Just beautiful.  I'm praying for her."

But the last few cards I sent him went unanswered.  A thousand times I thought of calling him, but I knew he took an afternoon nap and that he also celebrated Mass once a day in the afternoon, and I worried about disturbing him. So once again, I let my fear of rejection keep me from doing what I should have.

When I got home today, my friend emailed me to tell me that Father was still awake and while clearly exhausted, he was still mentating normally and talking with visitors.  It was always our custom when visiting him to ask for his blessing.

As my friend knelt by his bedside to receive his blessing, probably for the last time, he began to weep and they cried together with the realization that he was transitioning to life in the world to come.

Father has a great devotion to the Divine Mercy and he passed that devotion along to every soul he encountered in the confessional.  He also said that there were two crutches we all needed:  Frequent confession and Adoration.

All day today, I wondered, as human weakness would entice us to do, about whether or not Father had passed.  He didn't, but before I knew this, I felt a sheer thrill of joy to think that he was that much closer to falling into the arms of the Lord.

I decided the best thing I could for Father, that which would make him most happy, would be to go to Adoration tonight and sit with Jesus.  As it was, I was the only one in the chapel and I know how much Father hated to think of Our Lord sitting all alone and neglected.

I will wait to hear how he is tomorrow and then if his family and circumstances permit it, I will kneel by his bedside and beg his blessing one more time.  And should the Lord call him home before then, I will have another saint to whom to pray in Heaven.

St. Therese: Living on Love

On the evening of Love, speaking without parable,
Jesus said : "If anyone wishes to love me
All his life, let him keep my Word.
My Father and I will come to visit him.
And we will make his heart our dwelling.
Coming to him, we shall love him always.
We want him to remain, filled with peace,
In our Love ! . . . "

Living on Love is holding You Yourself.
Uncreated word, Word of my God,
Ah! Divine Jesus, you know I love you.
The Spirit of Love sets me aflame with his fire.
In loving you I attract the Father.
My weak heart holds him forever.
O Trinity ! You are Prisoner
        Of my Love ! . . .

Living on Love is living on your life,
Glorious King, delight of the elect.
You live for me, hidden in a host.
I want to hide myself in you, O Jesus!
Lovers must have solitude,
A heart-to-heart lasting night and day.
Just one glance of yours makes my beatitude.
        I live on Love ! . . .

Living on Live is giving without limit
Without claiming any wages here below.
Ah! I give without counting, truly sure
That when one loves, one does not keep count ! . . .
Overflowing with tenderness, I have given everything,
To his Divine Heart . . . lightly I run.
I have nothing left but my only wealth:
        Living on Love.

Living on Love is banishing every fear,
Every memory of past faults.
I see no imprint of my sins.
In a moment love has burned everything . . .
Divine Flame, O very sweet Blaze!
I make my home in your hearth.
In your fire I gladly sing:
        “I live on Love ! . . .”

Living on Love is keeping within oneself
A great treasure in an earthen vase.
My Beloved, my weakness is extreme.
Ah, I’m far from being an angel from heaven ! . . .
But if I fall with each passing hour,
You come to my aid, lifting me up.
At each moment you give me your grace:
        I live on Love.

Living on Love is sailing unceasingly,
Sowing peace and joy in every heart.
Beloved Pilot, Charity impels me,
For I see you in my sister souls.
Charity is my only star.
In its brightness I sail straight ahead.
I’ve my motto written on my sail:
        “Living on Love.”

Living on Love, when Jesus is sleeping,
Is rest on stormy seas.
Oh! Lord, don’t fear that I’ll wake you.
I’m waiting in peace for Heaven’s shore . . .
Faith will soon tear its veil.
My hope is to see you one day.
Charity swells and pushes my sail:
I live on Love ! . . .

Dying of Love is what I hope for.
When I shall see my bonds broken,
My God will be my Great Reward.
I don’t desire to possess other goods.
I want to be set on fire with his Love.
I want to see Him, to unite myself to Him forever.
That is my Heaven . . . that is my destiny:
Living on Love !!! . . . 

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
Written during a Holy Hour

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Commemoration of the Holy Souls at St. Paul's Philadelphia

No captions tonight folks as it's already way past my bedtime.  We had a beautiful solemn Requiem Mass.  I can't get around to responding to comments tonight but promise to do so tomorrow.  But know that I feel your pain as I once lived in the liturgical desert. All I can see is keep praying and I will keep praying for you to be able to participate in the most beautiful liturgy this side of Heaven.

I do not know the names of all the servers but the priest is the pastor of St. Paul's, Father Gerald P. Carey, to whom we are all greatly indebted for working so hard to bring us this beautiful liturgy in the Extraordinary Form.  The Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated at St. Paul's every Sunday at 12 Noon.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

(The views expressed on this blog are my own and I do not represent St. Paul's in any capacity other than  as a faithful parishioner.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints TLM at St. Paul's Philadelphia

Another attempt by Rebecca to photograph the TLM, this time for the Feast of All Saints.  We had a very good turnout and a beautiful Mass enhanced by the schola.  Tomorrow, we will observe All Souls Day with a solemn requiem Mass at 7pm.
Our Lady's Altar with the relics of the Saints

Rebecca's Missal, opened to the Mass for All Saints

At the Processional

Prayers at the foot of the altar

The censing of the priest and the altar

The Lesson 

The Gospel

The Offertory

Censing of the Gifts

The Sanctus

The elevation of the Sacred Host

Domine non sum dignus

The faithful come forward to the beautiful altar rail to receive Holy Communion 

As it should be

The recessional