Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Catholic Snark-Free Zone

I don't know where the word "snark" emanated from, but I hate it AND the lack of charity that goes with it.  If you read anything that even remotely resembles snark, you have my permission to smack me with a metal ruler.  OK?

One more note.  As a rule, I don't have a problem following bloggers that don't follow me. I do have a problem, however, with bloggers who solicit for donations, take my money, and then can't be bothered to lower themselves to visit my blog, even once, let alone click the follower icon out of pity (What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment).  A high-tech blog with lots of pretty pictures and impressionist art is nice, but there are plenty of non-Catholic blogs that offer the same thing, without the pretense of claiming to be Catholic. And, they don't complain about being "bored" by their own blogs. Some bloggers' idea of "playing nice" means tapping their donation button early and often and never, ever disagreeing with them, even though they're wrong.  So, see ya high and mighty fellow bloggers.  Don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to try to highlight less traveled blogs that do a good job representing the Catholic faith.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good Parenting: The Answer to America's Education Woes

I live in Philadelphia.  My kids spent their first 9 years of school, including Kindergarten, at Catholic schools and all have attended or do attend public high school.  One needs the autistic support that Catholic schools simply do not offer  The other two chose magnet schools and received an education we could not afford in a comparable private school.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the education funding crisis in Philadelphia, a crisis which would not exist if parents would simply raise their kids rather than expect the school district, the teachers and the taxpayers to do it for them.  Public schools in Philadelphia can be a violent place to try to learn.  Not all of the schools, mind you. There are some very good ones.  The school my oldest graduated from is competitive on every level with the best private schools in the country.  But not every child can attend a magnet school, so what happens to them?  They are forced to attend school with a generation of children who have practically raised themselves, children who think it's normal to slap an adult or punch someone in the face as soon as look at them.

In one school,  a child was suspended for punching a pregnant teacher in the stomach.  Do you know what one of our lovely school administrators had the nerve to say? "Kids will be kids."

I don't know about you, but if any of us had hauled off and punched any adult in the stomach, let alone a pregnant teacher, my father wouldn't have waited for the cops to arrest us, he would have done it himself.

One day last year while still working in Center City, I had to run an errand at lunch time and I passed two women waiting for the bus with a child no older than 2.  I don't know what happened but I had no sooner passed them when I heard a loud slap and the child wailing his head off.  I don't know what he did, but his grandmother decided it deserved a slap so loud, it made me jump nearly out of my skin.  Again, I ask: what on earth could a two-year old possibly do that would warrant slapping him period, let alone that hard?

Someday, that child will be in school and when he has a disagreement with someone, or someone says or does something to him he doesn't like, I guarantee you he's going to react the way his grandmother did - with physical violence.  Children like him don't need video games because they're raised with violence at such an early age, they cease to recognize it as such.   That's why they commit violence against random innocent people on the streets - because they're so desensitized to it.

I can't even tell you what the statistics are, but way too many children in Philadelphia's public schools are products of single-family homes.  It used to be that grandmothers helped raise the kids while the mother went to work, but as the grandmothers get younger and younger, it happens with less frequency.   A public school teacher whose children swam with mine recounted the heartbreak of watching a five-year-old in her kindergarten class fend for himself each day.  Somehow, he managed to dress himself with whatever he could find in the house and travel to school alone. The meals he got in school were the only meals he got all day. Repeated complaints to the Department of Human Services elicited no change.  All the money in the world spent on this child's education will not amount to a dime so long as he lives in a home environment like that.

The mayor of this city had an idea that putting a tax on sugary drinks would be a good way to raise money for the school district.  I personally had no problem with it. ( If you're going to tax something, it ought to be something that has no health benefit whatsoever, but that's just my opinion.)   The Teamsters Union stopped him, so instead, now our property taxes will go up.  I can't complain too much because at least I use the school district.  How about the parents who don't?  How about the parents who work three jobs to be able to afford a private or Catholic school education so their kids don't have to get beaten up by their fellow students?  How is it fair to them?

What Philadelphia needs more than anything is a program that helps children realize early on the importance of a two-parent home and the consequences of pre-marital sex.  Look at how many children have siblings that do not even call the same man their father.  The cycle perpetuates itself, and the familiar cry is heard time and time again: the schools don't have enough money.  No, what they don't have is enough responsible adults to parent the children they send to school each day. And until they do, there won't be enough money in the world to educate children in a measurable and meaningful way.

It's the truth, and someone needs to tell it.

Relatives Behaving Badly at Mass

My great uncle's funeral Mass was this morning.  There was no viewing, and really no one to come to a viewing, so the church was the gathering place.  Very few of my relatives go to church regularly, if at all, and I have come to be very uncomfortable with funerals because of the behavior.  They were blocking the aisle and laughing and talking loudly so that I couldn't even see the tabernacle to genuflect to it.  I tried to take a seat in the pew as quickly as possible so I could make known by my demeanor my displeasure with all the yukking it up when one of my uncles ran up to me and hugged me.  It's nice to have a family that loves you, but...

"Where are you going before you say hello to your uncle?"

You don't know how hard it was NOT to say: "Did you bother to say hello to HIM first?"

I could tell the priest knew exactly what kind of crowd he was dealing with.  He instructed them when to sit, stand and kneel.  If only he had told them to shut up.  One of my cousins talked during nearly the entire Mass.  Short of giving a good loud "shush!" I didn't know what else to do.  My mother later told me she gave this same cousin two backward warning glances, but to no avail.

My relatives are generally good people who love one another. I just wished they loved the Lord a little more and a little better.  Most likely  these same folks would come if one of my parents or another family member passed.  Perhaps I will include something in the obituary along the lines of the following:

"The utmost silence will be kept in church before, during and after Mass begins out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament."

I really loved how the priest today handled Holy Communion.

"Only those good Catholics in a state of sanctifying grace, who are not in a state of mortal sin, and have kept the minimum fast of one hour may approach the altar for Holy Communion.  The rest of you may remain in your pew where you are to make a spiritual communion, giving thanks to God for all the ways He has blessed you in your life and especially to pray for the repose of George's soul, which is, after all, the reason we are here."

You tell 'em Father!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Heed the Holy Father's Call: Pray for Priests and Vocations

Between today and Friday (the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) the Holy Father has called upon each of us to spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament praying for priests and for more vocations.  Pope Benedict XVI will mark the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this week, and what better way to honor him than by honoring Him.

I'm going to try to spend less time on the computer this week and more time in front of Our Eucharistic Lord.  My motto is going to be: Get Holy and Get Thin Trying.  You see, since I started this job in January, I've put on too many pounds of paunch, so my quest for holiness will have a two-fold benefit.  It's quite a hike to the Adoration Chapel so hopefully while I'm adding my prayers to those of the rest of the faithful, I'll  drop a pound or two.  (Actually, I need to drop much more than that, but I'll settle for a few pounds at this point.)

Plus, it's a good penance, if nothing else.  I keep expecting that the chapel, like other churches in summer, will be nice and cool, but it isn't.  There's nothing like arriving, all hot and sweaty from the walk, and not being able to tell the difference between the temperature inside or out of the chapel. Oh, well, something to look forward to in winter - I'll bet the heat works the same way the AC does.  Just like home.  At least I have something to offer up besides my prayers!

Anyway, don't forget to pray for priests this week.  Pray for those that struggle.  Pray for those who may be discouraged by so many lost souls.  Pray for those who have not been faithful to their vows. Pray for those who persecuted for their orthodox beliefs and faithfulness to the Church.    Pray for those young men studying and preparing for the priesthood.  Pray for priests by name, like Father Corapi and Father Francis Mary and Father Eunteneuer.  Pray for your pastor and any other priests at your parish.  Pray for retired priests and those priests at the end of their journey.

You will run out of time before you run out of men to pray for.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Gift

One of the things I most look forward to when I am finally retired is spending time every day in Adoration. Believe it or not, I started going to Adoration before I made the decision to return to the Church. I would leave services at the Anglo-catholic church I attended for awhile and then stop in to the little Adoration chapel down the street. There were a few things I remembered from my Catholic school days such as making sure I was dressed modestly. That included no bare arms or legs or shorts or other clothing that would be offensive to the Eucharistic Lord.

Once I made the decision to return to the Church, I did everything I could to make it to daily Mass, but I hadn't figured things out yet about how I could do that and so I got to Mass whenever I was lucky, like if the schedule was light and I could leave early enough to get to an evening Mass near where I worked, or if I had the day off and could go in the morning. I liked going to the church down the street because of their Adoration chapel where I could remain behind after Mass to pray the Rosary and my other devotions.

One Saturday, I went to the 8am Mass and the Old Testament reading was from the Book of Tobit, where Azariah revealed himself as the archangel Raphael. I remember at the time of the reading that I had an aura which I could not explain, but it was almost as if a strong wind had entered the chapel. I looked around because I couldn't believe the others at Mass did not notice or feel anything different. The aura (which is the best word I can use to describe it) dissipated and I listened to the words of the reading with chills and the hair standing up on the back of the neck. The notion of Raphael taking Tobit's prayers directly before the Lord's throne was so beautiful to me it left me what I could honestly describe as shaken.

Mass ended, and I stayed behind to pray. I was on the 7th day of my Novena to St. Therese and I had set the little booklet I pray from on the seat next to me and took out my Rosary. I prayed with my eyes fixed on the Blessed Sacrament. When I looked away for a second, I must have first glanced at the wall next to the window where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me because on the wall was the image of someone in prayer, their eyes downcast and a serene expression on their face. I blinked a few times and looked away, thinking perhaps it was some kind of optical illusion for staring so long at the Sacred Host, but the image remained. The image had long hair which was parted in the middle and seemed to be loosely pulled back over their shoulders. I honestly could not tell whether I was looking at a male or female, though at first I was pretty sure it was a woman by the length of the hair. The image had its hands folded upright in prayer. It appeared to be wearing a tunic or gown of some sort with a rounded neckline. It never looked up, but its eyes were downcast in what I can only describe as prayer. All that was visible was what you'd see in a bust of someone, not the entire body. After about a minute, it faded. Needless to say, I was stunned and unnerved.

I looked around at my fellow adorers but no one seemed changed or moved in any way.

At first I had no idea who or what I had laid eyes on. To say it was an apparition would be very wrong. It was more the appearance of an image. I thought about it for weeks. At first I said nothing to anyone, but then I confided in a good friend what I had seen. Neither of us had any clue, especially since the image did not speak or even look at me. However, my friend was convinced it was supernatural and a gift and that I should just accept it without speculation. But months later, I think I figured it out. I think what I was permitted to see was the reflection of the angel who knelt in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Whether or not it was Raphael is not for me to say.

This took place during a very trying time in my life when I was praying in earnest for an intention for myself. When I listened to the Old Testament reading that morning, I imagined St. Raphael taking my plea and bringing it before the Lord. I have to tell you that the prayer was answered in the way that I had hoped it would be shortly after that morning in the chapel.

For a long time I have kept this pretty much to myself, but at this young man's suggestion that I talk about my experiences at Adoration, I felt moved to share it.

Please believe me when I say that I did nothing to deserve this little gift from God, nor would I expect any such thing to happen again. I have to be honest and say that when I am alone in Adoration, I have a fear almost of something similar happening again, so I try not to think about it. I go to Adoration to keep Jesus company and hopefully, make atonement to Him for the neglect He suffers from so many cold and hardened hearts. The last person in the world that would deserve such a gift once twice let alone once is me, trust me.

Letter from Cardinal Justin Rigali

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, will mark his
sixtieth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood
on June 29, 2011. The church throughout the world
has been invited to observe this significant occasion
with a designated period of Eucharistic adoration.
The sanctification of priests and a generous increase
in priestly vocations are the proposed intentions for
this period of prayer before our Lord in the Blessed
Sacrament. A special encouragement is given to
priests throughout the world to participate in this
way of expressing communion with our Holy
I have arranged for several parishes with chapels of
perpetual adoration, including the Convent of
Divine Love (the Pink Sisters), to be the sites for
our archdiocesan participation in Eucharistic
adoration to mark the Holy Father’s anniversary.
All the priests and faithful of the Archdiocese are
asked to spend some time before the Blessed
Sacrament at one of these sites or another one of
your choosing, if possible, from Monday
June 27th
through Friday, July 1st
, the Solemnity of the Most
Sacred Heart of Jesus. I am most grateful to you
for your continued faithful service to the Church
and entrust all our priestly labors to the Sacred
Heart for his grace and mercy. The sites for
Philadelphia South are:
St. Francis de Sales
St. Peter the Apostle
St. Rita of Cascia
St. Thomas Aquinas
Stella Maris

All Going to the Same Place

My great uncle George passed away last week at the age of 91. He was the last of my grandmother's siblings and with him died their family name, Daher (pronounced dare). He was a good egg.

When my grandmother was suddenly widowed and left to raise 5 young children on her own in the early 40's, Uncle George was still in the Army, where he served as a cook. Upon his discharge, he promptly arrived at my grandmother's house to do his best to lend her a hand. He thought cooking was his strong point, so he took over this duty from my grandmother for awhile so that when she came home exhausted from sewing draperies all day, cooking could be one less thing to worry about.

By mother's accounts, Uncle George wasn't as talented in the kitchen as he'd like to think, but beggars can't be choosy, so she and her siblings ate what he put before them. He ran the household like he was still in the Army and the kids were under his command. My mother's most vivid memory is of him mixing the potatoes and meat and vegetables together, at which any normal kid would turn up their nose. "Eat it! It's all going to the same place", he'd bark.

Eventually, Uncle George went back to his own home. By the time I came along, he was a seldom visitor who came on Christmas or Easter. Years later, when my grandmother was dying from lung cancer, Uncle George again came to the rescue and moved in with her and my divorced aunt who had been living with my grandmother since her marriage ended some years ago. Again he did the cooking, but he picked up a trick or two since his Army discharge and he had long age ceased mixing everything together in a porridge. Actually, he became a pretty good chef. He stayed with my aunt after my grandmother passed and when my aunt eventually became ill, he cared for her, as he had my grandmother.

Uncle George sold his house in upstate Pennsylvania and stayed in my grandmother's house. When he himself began to fail in health, my mother started cooking for him and every week, she would stop by his house a few times with care packages of food. My mother is a much better cook than Uncle George and he really looked forward to her visits but more than that, he expected nothing of anyone. He ate whatever she put in front of him as she joked "c'mon, it's all going to the same place, eat it!" On the rare occasions when she sent me in her place, he would answer the door in surprise and chastise me for thinking I had to inconvenience myself for him. He was a humble, simple servant and fiercely independent until the end.

A few weeks ago, his congestive heart failure sent him to the hospital and he was so compromised, he couldn't even go to rehab. God, in His Infinite Mercy, took Him in his sleep.

My mother is taking his death with quite a bit of sadness. "He's the last piece of my mother that I have," she cried. I reminded her he is not really the last tie to her mother, as she has been saying. Her tie to her mother is the Eucharist. If my grandmother is not in Heaven now, she will be one day, so saintly was her life. I pray Uncle George will be going to the Same Place.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Breaking News...

...Mr. Little Way installed the air conditioner today. No chance he's been reading this blog because he doesn't have any interest in the computer. So I credit this miracle to your prayers, dear readers, and to the goodness of the Lord. For now, this aspect of the monastic life has been lifted.

Around The Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Sacred Heart Novena, Corpus Christi Sunday And More

Tonight the annual Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus commenced at the Visitation Monastery.  Go here to read about it.

On Sunday, St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church at 9th and Watkins Street, Philadelphia will holds its annual Corpus Christi Procession following the 11am Mass.  The faithful are invited to accompany the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of South Philadelphia to Epiphany of Our Lord Church at 11th and Jackson Streets, where the procession will conclude with Benediction.  This is a most beautiful tradition at St. Nick's and it would be wonderful to see more people come out to bear witness to the faith and keep Our Lord company on the journey to Epiphany.

Also on Sunday, there will be a procession following the Noon Traditional Latin Mass at St. Paul's. See my earlier post on this for details.

Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Philadelphia Carmel

The annual Novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel begins on July 8th at the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia.  Solemn Vespers with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament take place each day of the novena at 4 pm.  Rosary and other devotions at 6:45pm followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 7:30pm.

On Sunday July 10, Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass).

The celebrant for the novena this year is Father Kevin McGoldrick.

The monastery is located at 66th Ave and Old York Road and is accessible by public transportation.  Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the monastery on 66th Ave.

God Help Me I Do Love It So

Cliff Lee, jogging out to the mound.  It's a constant source of amusement to watch the opposing batters throw their bats and slam their helmets to the ground when he strikes them out.

If there is one thing in this world I am overly attached to, it's sports.  Last night as I was driving to the Adoration Chapel it occurred to me that Cliff Lee was on the mound, and I felt a momentary lump in my throat. I would never give up one of my devotions in order to watch sports, but I do worry that I spend too much time indulging in America's Favorite Pastime.  When you have a dude like this on the mound every 5th game, it's hard to switch the set off and go to bed at a civilized hour.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Unfair Advantages or God's Good Graces?

Please keep me in your prayers.  I'm going on an official interview tomorrow at the Catholic hospital I mentioned last week.  It is eval time at my present job and I can count on one hand the people who haven't begged me not to leave.  I got my own eval today and it was a glowing one, which only increases the guilt. I decided before I went to the eval that if my boss gave me an opening, I would be honest and tell her I'm considering a move.  She never gave me the opening so I was careful not to say anything that could be interpreted as a ringing endorsement of my position.  Tomorrow's  is a quiet schedule and it's the best day to meet everyone I need to meet at the prospective hospital, so it wasn't a problem to take off.  I was a coward and informed her in an email, giving no reason except to say I'd switch tomorrow with a scheduled day off next week.  I can't lie, so if pressed, I would have responded by saying "I was able to schedule an appointment I need to go on sooner rather than later."

There's a line in the movie "The Horse Whisperer" that I've always thought described me pretty well.

"Tom's not too good with goodbyes.  Come to think of it, he's not too good with hello's either"

If I decide this job is right for me, and I think I pretty much have already, I will have to personally say goodbye to all the doctors who interviewed me and gave me the seal of approval.  It won't be easy, but not as hard as having to tell some of the staff, who haven't had a voice to speak for them in quite awhile.

I was talking this over with my husband and he got a big kick out of me telling him that I feel like the Bobby Petino of nurse managers. Oy vay!

It really bothered me that I got such a good eval.  I thought of some of the people I am responsible for who will not be getting such good evals, because I can't take the easy way out and sweep bad behavior and poor practice under the rug.  I keep thinking I have some kind of unfair advantage over them, especially the one who has especially made life miserable for me.  I need to learn to distinguish the difference between being the recipient of preferential treatment and being blessed by God. You'd think by now I'd  have figured it out, but I'm still a work in progress.

Last night the oldest called me in hysterics.  A friend of hers died from a drug overdose.  He was the same age she is and had been the steady boyfriend of one of her friends since high school.  They weren't as close as she'd like to have me believe and I suspect the real reason she's so shaken is because it's the first time she's having to deal with the death of some one so close in age.  Please say a prayer for the boy and his family.  I say a prayer of thanks for having a child who so far, has not succumbed to the poison of drugs or alcohol and I pray she stays that way.  I thought I had a lot to deal with growing up but these kids have it worse.

Last night I went to bed filled with dread and guilt.  I keep thinking of all the people who have spurned the Love of His Sacred Heart, and I can see no reason why I should be so fortunate or blessed to have converted.  I don't think the Lord wants us to be filled with the kind of fear that saddens us or fills us with anxiety. I only hope I have earned every day since my conversion the precious gift He gave me when my faith was awakened and my eyes were opened.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dear Father Corapi: What if Christ Answered His Accusers Like This?

Dear Father Corapi:

It's just a thought, but: Where would Christianity be if Christ chose to answer His accusers like this?  As one commenter notes, not a word about the Eucharist here, just "me, me, me". As they like to say on ESPN, c'mon man!

I don't need to speculate on your guilt or innocence to know this is not the way to defend the faith.  Father, you made more of an effort to fight what you thought was a medical malpractice case committed against you than these accusations.  Does the Church not deserve at least half that effort?

I say these things not to point the finger, but to encourage a man who, if he is wrongly accused, should get up off the mat and start swinging again.  These accusations pale as to be invisible compared to what the Master was charged with and suffered on the cross. No servant is greater than the master, as you often reminded us. What makes you think your reaction to the charges and the process of determining their veracity in any way resembles how Christ would respond?

Coincidentally, in honor of the anniversary of his ordination, Pope Benedict XVI has asked the faithful to make a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament and offer the intention for priests and for more vocations.  Father Corapi, you could sure use our prayers and penance right now. You can count on mine. The last thing the world needs is another former priest.

St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests,  said that the priesthood "is the love of the Heart of Jesus Christ".
Are you so willing to discard this love, a love you were  privileged to receive at your ordination, an ordination bestowed on you by the hands of another venerable priest, Blessed John Paul II?  Of all the former drug addicts and sinners in the world, Our Lady chose you to receive the Love of her Son's Sacred Heart.  What on this earth could be so terrible that you would throw it away without so much as a backward glance?

I remember a lot of things you said.  Let me remind you of one, Father.  Without Good Friday, there is no Easter Sunday.  This is your Good Friday.  Don't you dare lay down that cross.  Pick it up and carry it and know that if He fell down 3 times, you could fall countless times, and He'll still be there to to take the weight off you.  You have only to ask. Jesus didn't refuse the help of the Cyrenian any more than He refused to take up that cross.  He's not asking you to do the same but He is asking you to try.

God Bless you Father and may the same Blessed Mother who plucked you out of the gutter slap some sense into you before you throw away the love her Divine Son saw fit to give you, a gift so very few receive, as you did when you became a priest forever, like Melchizedek.

Sincerely in Christ,

One of the lambs of the true Shepherd

Ask And You Shall Receive

I had the nerve to ask the Lord if He could hurry things about a bit.  I was in the midst of yet another crisis caused by yet another piece of equipment going on the blink when the phone rang and I got the news I was not expecting to get until the end of next week, at the earliest.

God is so good to me.

I don't dare suggest that if He really wanted to be good to me, He'd do something about the archaic equipment we're dealing with at work that breaks on a weekly basis. Today's catastrophe involved a lot of water and a lot of shuttling of equipment between hospitals.  The show must go on, especially when patients have made plans to take off from work and have family members look after them or worse yet, have commenced an extensive bowel prep.  You certainly don't want to cancel someone's case once they've started that.

Perhaps next I will ask the Dear Lord to move my husband to install the air conditioner in the dining room.  Last night he went stomping up the steps barking at my son  to open a window because, and I quote: "It's cold outside."

Seventy-eight degrees with the humidity hovering in the same range does not qualify as "it's cold outside."

Pray for me because some day, I really might throw a pot at him.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Has to Say About Their Most Famous Member

Thanks to Diane at Te Deum Laudamus for this.  Go over to her place and read it.  It answers some questions and of course raises others.  I think we can safely lay to rest the theory that an impostor released that YouTube video.  It gets sadder by the minute.

Overwhelming Sadness

We were at Father's Day dinner at my parents' house and somehow, the most innocuous comment put me in tears.  I would imagine many of you feel the same way. It seems like every time I turn around, another priest is in some kind of trouble.  It just gets to me and I can't put my finger on the reason why.  Is it for myself, for them or for Him that I want to cry?

Sunday morning and I open the paper to read about a father who bludgeoned his wife and son to death and then laid his head on the railroad tracks and waited for the train to finish the horror he had started.   I'm not following the Casey Anthony saga but it keeps barging into the evening newscast.  Dear God why? Why do human beings do what they do to one another?

What is it that makes people go so terribly wrong?  What is it that is so powerful it can overcome the love between a husband and wife or a father and son?  There have been times in my life when I thought I couldn't go on and all I had to do was think of the reaction my parents or my young children would have to me doing something rash and it's always been enough to snap me back to reality.  Since my reversion, those kinds of thoughts do not cross my mind.

Last night I got to ease the loneliness and dread I feel every Sunday evening by going to the Adoration Chapel for an hour.  I wondered what I had done to deserve so rich a privilege - to sit all alone with my Lord on a Sunday evening in a perfectly quiet chapel with no interruptions, no cell phones ringing and no chatterboxes. I realize there is nothing I can do in this life to merit such a reward, so it's better not to wonder about such things and just bask in His Presence. I have to say that I did not run out of people and causes to pray for and on the ride home, I thought of a few more I could have added.

I could not ask the Lord why and expect an answer, but I could pray for those who are struggling and for those who have been hurt by priests who have succumbed.  I will do my part by praying more than I ever have. I hope the priests will do theirs by taking stock of how they are living and answering whether or not it's in conformity with Christ.  In fact, it's not just the priests who need to do this but all of us, myself included.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


From time to time I observe an addition of a follower or two, which is most appreciated.  If you are following me and I haven't returned the favor, please don't be shy - bring it to my attention in the combox and I'll reciprocate.  Same for blog links.  I don't link to anything other than Catholic blogs and I don't link to blogs that contain racial slurs or foul language (yes, I have come across blogs from Catholic authors that do that) so please understand that if that's the nature of what you write, I won't be able to link to you.  I also welcome some of the new commenters and hope you'll be a regular visitor.

Defining the Holy Trinity

The best "explanation" I've read comes directly from the preface of the Canon for Mass on Sundays from  the Roman Missal.  You won't see this at the Ordinary Form of the Mass in its current translation.

It is indeed fitting and right, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give thanks to You, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, who with Your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit are one God, one Lord: Not in the oneness of a single person, but three persons in one single essence. For what we believe from your revelation concerning Your glory, that also we believe of Your Son and of the Holy Spirit without difference or distinction; so that when we affirm the true and everlasting Godhead we worship three distinct persons in a oneness of Being and with equality of majesty. And that God the angels praise with the archangels, cherubim, and seraphs, ceaselessly singing with one voice:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Father Z Post Well Worth Reading

Sometimes he really ticks me off, but he is still a priest and I pray for him as I do any other priest who asks for my prayers.  I think this post is well worth reading, and if you don't already pray for Father, maybe you'll be moved to start.

Playing With Fire: Why Priests are Especially Vulnerable

A friend of mine is heavily enmeshed in the pro-life movement.  When the alleged scandal involving Father Euteneuer broke, she sent me a short email asking for prayers.  She felt her faith had been shaken.  One simple statement that she made struck me like a bucket of cold water and left me with an icy feeling in my veins

The devil got to him.

How? How does the devil get to a holy man renowned for his ability to save souls from the clutches of death?

I just lent the book "Hostage to the Devil" to a priest friend at his request.  Part of me wants to ask him what he thinks so far while what little common sense I have left tells me to mind my own business.  Dealing with the devil is  a risky business.  An entity so cunning as to defy imagination is not to be taken lightly or for granted.

Do priests become so confident, cocky even, that they forget what it is they're dealing with?  Do they forget that all the power that comes to them to drive the devil out is not their own, but solely from Jesus Christ?

I was trying to pray before Mass began tonight ( the Young Miss was lectoring again) and I just kept seeing that awful phrase from my friend over and over again in my head.  I kept my eyes on the tabernacle, where the Prisoner of Divine Love sat, listening to me.  I felt a thrill of fear that made me want to stay in that church forever, with my eyes fixed on Him.  But that's not what life is about.  The gravitational pull of the Eucharist compels us not only to dwell inwardly on Him but to bring Him to others in the world who do not know Him. This means having to walk among the holy as well as the demonic.
The best weapon to safeguard yourself against the devil isn't a gun, it's the Rosary.  

Some of the greatest saints wrestled with the devil, some of them physically.  The Cure d'Ars, St. Pio, St. Teresa of Jesus all were paid personal visits meant to terrify them.  The only way one can combat such a terror is to rely solely on Christ. Not a single one of us solely on our own merit can withstand the attacks.  Did the priests who have succumbed forget that?

I am having a difficult time accepting that someone I considered a warrior in the battle for souls is retiring from the field.  I can't  help but think that even if Father Corapi is completely innocent of all charges (and I pray that he is) if had kept himself solely about the kind of business a priest should be about, he wouldn't be in this boat.

With the kind of pope we have in Benedict XVI, with the emergence of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and with the traditional orders of priests and nuns bursting at the seams, the Father of Lies has a lot to be worried about. He's in an untold frenzy to drag souls to Hell with him.  The holier the souls, the more frenzied he becomes.  The only way we can protect ourselves is to abandon ourselves completely to Christ.  This includes our priests, who by virtue of their ordination,  are considered a particular conquest by the fallen angel.  He would like nothing more than for us to delude ourselves into thinking we're holy enough to be able to tempt fate by indulging in areas of life that do not lead to Christ, like a stunt person who runs through fire without first donning a protective suit.

The Case for Michelle Bachmann

I know - I can't believe I'm saying this.  But there is something to be said for a lady who is a lawyer, a mom to a large brood and then takes on the added responsibility of foster-parenting 23 teenagers.  That 's someone who puts her money where her mouth is and why she may get a second look from me.

When the Man Becomes Larger Than the Mission -The Tragedy Of Fr. Corapi

I have no intention, as I mentioned earlier, of speculating about the guilt or innocence of Father John Corapi.  I do think this saga warrants a pause in the action and a need for all priests to reflect on their ministries.  Father liked to tell a good story.  The one about him risking his life to reclaim a Carmelite nun who left the monastery to return to her life of drugs was a particularly compelling one.  The image of Father being awakened in the middle of the night by anxious Carmelite nuns, concerned about their wayward lamb, breaking into a drug-house like a commando to rescue the sister from the jaws of death, is the kind of stuff you just don't hear priests doing every day.  There were others but I don't want to get into that.  I want to say that there is an inherent problem when priests make themselves larger than the Mission they serve.

There are lot of things about Father that he could and should have left out about himself when he was preaching.  I wonder if this debacle he's in would have happened to him had he taken a more humble stance.  I was also troubled about the way he preached about the abuse scandal, as I am about all priests whose primary concern is themselves and not the children whose lives and faith were taken from them by impostors posing as priests of Jesus Christ.  I would submit to you that this deflection of blame only worsened the crisis and heightened suspicions about all priests by virtue of their collar.  Something Father said has always stuck with me, just as some of the very helpful spiritual advice he gave has stayed with me.  Once when discussing the abuse scandal, he referred to a woman who had accused a priest friend of his as "a nut job."  Whether she was or she wasn't isn't the issue.  It's the reference to someone whose guilt or innocence he does not know with certainty in such dismissive and derogatory terms, any more than we know with certainty his situation, that bothered me.  I had the feeling he just didn't get it, just like the superiors who turned a blind eye to the abuse didn't get it.

Believe me when I say I am in no position to tell anyone else how to live their lives, but the world is not safe for priests in a way unlike it was at any time in the church's history.  The Father of Lies, like a cornered rat, is lashing out with a particularly vicious frenzy at all those who defend the Church.  He needs a portal of entry and the last thing any one, especially a priest should do is give him one.  How?  By engaging in a life that is not meant for priests. Whatever else is true of Father Corapi, I have no difficulty in saying that I think he made himself larger than the Mission and lived more like an adventurer than a hermit.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is meek and humble and we pray for Him to give us that same humility.  Could Father have gotten his message across without puffing himself up as some super action hero?  I have no doubt he could.  And I think if he had lived a life more in imitation of Christ than he did, he wouldn't be in this predicament.  His fall, whether the accusations are true or not, should make every priest stop and evaluate their lives. I pray for priests every day and I feel compelled to raise the following questions, so I apologize to any priest who may be offended.  I'd rather hurt your feelings and have you annoyed with me than sit in silence and observe the following:

-Is my day off so important to me that I don't offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for my parishioners that day? When you're a parent, no day is ever really a day off.  Why do you think we call you "Father"?  I am outraged that some churches have a Communion Service once a week because that's Father's day off.  Jesus healed the sick on the sabbath.  Nuff said.

-Do I dress like a lay person when I go out to dinner or run errands?  And would I have something to say about that if a nun did the same thing?

- Do I do the bare minimum in my parish because I don't really enjoy being a parish priest? Have I refused to provide some devotion because it will be too much trouble, such as hold a public Holy Hour for my parishioners once a week or month?

-Do I drive a sportier car than most of my parishioners?  Yeah, I said it and I'll tell you what: I'm driving  a plain vanilla vehicle with no frills so A) I can live a more simple life in service to Jesus and B) I can give more money to my parish.  I have to shake my head when I see the rides some priests are driving.  A vehicle does not have to be flashy to be serviceable, dependable and long-lasting, which is what most parents look for in a car.

-Do I promote devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary by publicly engaging in those devotions?  Do I allow my parishioners to see me in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, or is that one of those " do as I say, not as I do" recommendations?

-Do I hear confessions at regularly scheduled times, or would it be easier to have an audience with the pope than finding me in the confessional box?

-When a lay person has the effrontery to bring these subjects up, do I angrily point my finger and say: "What about the sacrifices I have made to become a priest"?

Dear and Reverend Fathers, you get to offer a Sacrifice every day that only you can.  Hopefully, the ability to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is what attracted you to the priesthood. Never forget what a privilege this is.  Every vocation in a life committed to Christ has its own sacrifices and the grass is always greener on the other side.  When you're lonely, perhaps you think about what it would be like to go home to a family each night instead of an empty rectory. I can assure you there are those of us who think about what it would be like to go home to a quiet rectory or convent instead of a house full of insanity.  These are the trade-offs we make in life. It's how we carry our cross.

I have read that some think Father Corapi was "brought down" because he's an orthodox priest.  I don't know about that by if you want to do something interesting, Google his name and see the attacks on him as a "Novus Ordo" priest from the extreme orthodox side of the church.

I pray that the same Blessed Mother who plucked him from the gutter will keep him under her mantle and guide him on the right path.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What To Make Of Father Corapi's Statement

Whatever it means, and quite frankly I don't know what to make of this,  I will keep Father in my prayers.  I will continue to make reference to the spiritual wisdom I learned from him.  His message was a good one, regardless of whether he himself is flawed. Only God is in a position to judge that and I have no right or desire to speculate, so I won't.

Ominous Signs, Bad Statuary and Other Rambling Thoughts

For months, I have been meaning to get to the rectory office of a neighboring church which has a perpetual adoration chapel.  For a small fee and the promise of handing over your first-born child (just kidding) you receive an entry key for the chapel so you can visit the Lord any time you wish.  Since I had some time off today, I decided to finally get around to doing this.  I'm going to love it, I know.  More about the chapel in a bit.

Anyway, the weather is on the iffy side.  No rain, but high humidity and a lot of clouds, although the sky is blue and the clouds are white, not dark.  I was about half-way home when out of nowhere, I heard a very loud rumbling of thunder which was a bit incongruous with the appearance of the sky.  In such high humidity, I really wasn't surprised.  But just as I heard the thunder, I happened to catch sight of a statue in the window of the home I was passing.  It was the Angel Gabriel.  In one hand was his trumpet, which he had to his lips, while the other hand pointed downward.  Downward?  Yikes!  If I'm going to walk past the Angel Gabriel during a loud clap of thunder, I would feel so much better if his finger was pointing  upward.

South Philadelphia is a very interesting neighborhood.  The older folks are known for their statuary of Jesus, The Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.  Occasionally, St. Rita or St. Therese will make an appearance.  Right after I passed the house with the Angel Gabriel, I came to another with a statue of the Infant of Prague in the window.  Between Gabriel with his finger pointing downward and this, I started to feel like I was in a bad movie about the demonic.  The face of the Infant was distorted.  One eye was red and looked like something from a horror show.  Could the owner not know how terrible this looked?  Displaying our faith is a good thing, but just like we would never fly an American flag that was tattered or torn, nor should we display distorted images of Jesus and the saints.

One day, a local artist who is renowned for his beautiful bronze representations of the saints, was visiting the gift shop of a shrine a few blocks from here.  He was clearly not pleased with the statuary on display, most of which was made in China.  "Look at this" he said in disgust, pointing at a particularly horrifying image of St. Padre Pio.  "What's this supposed to be? Bela Lugosi Pio?"  It was all I could do not to laugh, but he was right.  When did our images of the saints come to closely resemble bad knock-offs of Barbie dolls?

About this little chapel.. It's called the Little Flower Perpetual Adoration Chapel.  Inside are maybe five short wooden pews with kneelers.  They face a small altar on which sits the Monstrance encased in locked Plexiglas.  There is a veil over the Plexiglas which is to be removed when an adorer is present and replaced upon leaving.  Two sanctuary-type candles burn, one on either side of the Monstrance.  A mosaic of angels in adoration adorns the wall behind the monstrance.  There is a beautiful large crucifix with Corpus, and a statue of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Fatima.  It's dead quiet and very conducive to prayer.  I am so happy to know that when I feel that familiar longing or yearning, I need not fret that the doors of my church are locked.  I can walk or drive down to this little chapel and tell the Lord all I wish to say to Him. Or I can simply sit in His Presence and keep Him company.

I had a little chat with a priest that I know from another parish today.  I asked him to pray for one of my intentions and then I "confessed" to him that I have no patience to wait for the Lord to give me an answer.  He had an interesting take on this. "Then don't just wait, "he said, "ask Jesus to get moving.  Politely, of course, but ask.   He expects you to ask."

We talked a little more about impatience and he made me laugh with something that I have never heard said of Our Lord before.  He said he thinks it was "typical of Jewish males" when Jesus would throw up His hands and ask of the apostles:  "How long must I endure you?"  I think the point he was trying to make is that even Our Lord could get a little impatient at times.

A few months ago, I told you about a woman  who lives such a rough life, trying to bring her sons up in a housing project, alone on her small income.  I found her crying alone in a corner yesterday and I was so worried that something else in her life had gone wrong.

"What is it dear, is it your son?  Is everything OK?"

She put her arm around me and said "Miss Joyce, I don't want you to leave."

She may as well have driven a stake through my heart.  I wish I could take them all with me, really I do. I wish I had the fortitude to stick out it for their sake, but I have to save my strength for other things in life.  The best I can do is do my best for them while I'm with them so that hopefully, the little things I've done to make a difference for them will stay in place, at least until the next sucker walks in the door.

Thanks for listening.

I Will Boast Of My Own Weakness

St. Paul really reached out and grabbed me today.

Brothers and sisters:
Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast.
To my shame I say that we were too weak!
But what anyone dares to boast of
(I am speaking in foolishness)
I also dare.
Are they Hebrews? So am I.
Are they children of Israel? So am I.
Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
Are they ministers of Christ?
(I am talking like an insane person). + 
I am still more, with far greater labors,
far more imprisonments, far worse beatings,
and numerous brushes with death.
Five times at the hands of the Jews
I received forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned,
three times I was shipwrecked,
I passed a night and a day on the deep;
on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race,
dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city,
dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea,
dangers among false brothers;
in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights,
through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings,
through cold and exposure.
And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me
of my anxiety for all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak?
Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

+ (I know that feeling!)

St. Paul, 2 Corinthians

 I look at what St. Paul endured and I wonder how I think I have any right to complain.  It also occurred to me today that it is quite human to long for something better.  I used to think that the Apostles had some gall demanding to know when the Second Coming would occur.  I thought that by virtue of the fact that we are now 2,000 + years past the birth of Christ that we have more of a right to hope the end is sooner rather than later.  Now I know.  Every generation will look for Him.  And it also occurs to me that He longs for the time when we might be with Him in His Kingdom just as much as we do, but because He is divine, He knows what must take place first, for our own good.

Love Is Meaning What You Say When You Say You're Sorry

It does not mean you're sorry simply because you got caught.  

I feel sorry for his wife, who, I understand, is expecting their first child.  The many ways men manage to fall from grace never ceases to amaze me.   There, but for the grace of God go I, even if  I don't always think so.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Does It Mean For God's Will To Be Done?

Matthew's Gospel today has Jesus instructing us on how to address His Father in prayer.  The priest who celebrated the Mass I managed (barely) to get to  expounded in a way I had not heard before. When we pray "Thy Will be done", are we saying we give up all hope of things improving in our lives, of illness being cured, jobs being found, children converting and returning to the church?  Are we telling God that we will willingly wallow in our misery with no hope of things improving?  Of course not.

Trusting in the Lord and accepting the trials He desires to send us is one thing.  Throwing up our hands in despair is another.  Sometimes I think that the further away He seems, the closer the Lord really is.  Did He not cry out to His Father from His agony on the cross?

Jesus does not ask us to bear anything He Himself did not bear on Calvary, including abandonment.  St. Therese often talked about Jesus "hiding His face, as it were" when He sends us some particularly painful trial.  She said He is like a mother who must allow her child to suffer through a painful remedy in order for its life to be saved.

The Will of the Father is all about our salvation.  It's not always easy to grasp the love in this simple truth but it's there for us just the same, the one constant hope in our sometimes seemingly hopeless lives.

This is also the Gospel where Jesus pokes fun, if you will, at the gentiles who love to babble.  I was driving to work the other day, "babbling" the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  When I caught myself in my seemingly growing distracted state, I thought of just quitting, but then I thought that God saw my effort, by not listening to music or something else on the radio, and that was enough for Him.  We never know what merit our prayer and sacrifice might obtain for ourselves or the people on whose behalf we pray, and it's why we should never give up.

When Is The Last Time I Thanked You Lord?

So I am in the midst of giving evaluations to a list of people that seems endless.  I have no luck because I had just finished up nearly 50 evaluations at my former job before I left, and now less than 6 months later I have to evaluate another batch of people, some of whom I barely know.  Each employee is required to complete a self-eval and I come across one with a simple comment that grabbed my attention.

"I am so blessed to work at this hospital with such a fine group of people".

When is the last time I used the words "blessed" and "work"  in the same sentence?

The nurse who wrote this does not know that I know that she is seriously ill. She comes to work every day and has  only missed two days of work since I've been there.  She has a form of cancer that is rarely survivable and which involves a heavy dose of chemo.  One day she appeared in my office out of the blue and pleaded with me to let her go home early because she didn't feel well.  She didn't look well, but I chalked it up to a stomach virus.  I wished her better health and sent on her way.  This prompted one of the other nurses to confide me in about her illness.  I figured if the nurse who is ill wanted me to know about it, she'd say something, so until she does, I say nothing to her. But we are all very protective of her.

Before I knew of the trial this woman was suffering, I remarked to her one day that unlike her colleagues, she never once complained to me.  She is so kind and compassionate to all her patients and goes about her work quietly, never seeking accolades.  If she has a problem, she solves it herself.  If I had to be a patient, I'd want a nurse just like her to take care of me or a member of my family.

I have to say that I have not exactly looked upon my job as a blessing, and shame on me for that.  It pays for the car that takes me to work and allows me to chauffeur my kids around.  It pays for the medicine without which my youngest could not live.  It pays for the service that allows me to write this blog and reach people as far away as Iran.

Here is this beautiful soul, ailing in body but not in spirit, battling a deadly disease and never once drawing attention to herself or her condition in any way.

Shame on me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

If the Lord Loves a Cheerful Giver...

.  ... then why are so many Catholics cranky when it comes to helping the poor in any way shape or form through taxes?  I know, many say they believe charity should come from the home and voluntarily, not siphoned out of paychecks by Uncle Sam. I dunno.  I just don't feel that attached to my money.  Our neighborhood has seen a dramatic influx of immigrants from Mexico.  Thanks to them, some of the Catholic churches have actually had to add Masses to accommodate them.  They bring a welcome family presence amidst the growing number of God-less, rainbow-flag waving people who have invaded the neighborhood.  They're hard-working salt-of-the-earth humble little folks just trying to get by on a modest living.

Some of my fellow Catholics don't see it that way.  They see them as law-breaking poachers taking what does not rightfully belong to them.  Tell you what.  If you think the little Mexicans who empty the dumpsters and bus the tables at the row of chic restaurants around the corner are poaching jobs that Americans want, I've got a bridge to sell you.

I don't particularly enjoy going to work every day.  But work I must.  In all honesty, I've never been one to obsess over a checkbook that doesn't balance to the penny.  In other words, I don't much care about money.  I know there are cheats, but they are by no means limited to the ranks of welfare queens and illegal immigrants.  And if an innocent child or two is helped by a program that has its share of cheaters, oh, well!  I simply cannot begrudge a struggling immigrant family simply because they didn't enter the country through the front door.  It's not like it's made easy for them.

When Christ beckoned the faithful young man who wished to follow Him more closely to give up all he owned and donate it to the poor, He never qualified who the poor were.  When He beckoned the disciples to give to all who asked of them, He didn't admonish them to first determine if they entered the country legally.

I know who most closely resembles Christ, and it's not the politicians who have sought to vilify simple folk satisfied with food on the table and a roof over their heads.

What's the Point?

What do this "punk" and the women's ordination movement have in common? They should be ignored.

If the post-Vatican II crowd clamoring for women's ordination and other acts of heresy is really growing thin, either due to the attrition that comes with age or because people have seen the light, why devote so much time talking about them?  There are bigger threats to sanctity than women who want to dress up and play priest.

For instance, check out this thread at The Tenth Crusade.  The movement that Carol writes about is, imho, far more dangerous than a bunch of old women at a church fantasy convention.  I think such people are to be pitied and prayed for, but I also think they're best ignored.  It's like when the punk movement was in full bloom and young people would walk down the street with their pink mohawks and safety-pinned cheeks.  They wanted nothing more than for people to look at them, so of course, I never did, just as I have no desire to read about, talk about or poke fun of women who have put their own self-worth above the Body of Christ, His Church.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things You Never Have To Deal With in a Monastery

Sometimes I think I may be a little too hard on myself.  I keep trying to compare my faithfulness and piety to women who lived in monasteries and convents.  I know they were tested, but I wonder sometimes.  How does having dirty laundry water thrown on you compare to sleeping with a spouse whose snoring can be heard in the house next door?  I love when St. Therese talked about having the courage to get out of bed and face the day.  The things that happen to me never happened at Lisieux, like the air conditioning unit fails one night during a storm and turns the operating room into a sauna, compromising the sterility of the instruments and supplies to the point where everything has to be pitched or resterilized.  You're up nearly half the night trying to rectify the situation so the next morning's cases can go on.   When the cases have to be delayed for an hour  (as opposed to canceled altogether) while new supplies are shipped in stat,  one of the surgeons badgers you nearly to death to "do something" because he has a date on the golf course at Noon.  At that point, the greatest saint in the world has to be tempted  to take a blunt object and chuck the pest over the head with it.  See, things like that just don't happen in a monastery.

Or how about when you come out to go to work in the morning, and some wiseacre has smashed your  side view mirror overnight, neglecting to take responsibility by way of a note or some other means of contacting you with their insurance information? Or some slob has allowed their dog to relieve itself on your sidewalk and left the mess for you to deal with?  Think those things ever happen in a monastery?

St. Therese never had to deal with a man who couldn't find the orange juice in the refrigerator if the carton itself reached out and tapped him on the shoulder.  St. Teresa of Avila didn't know what it was like to find the seat up, the lights out and the television turned to 96 decibels, day in, day out.  And need I bring up the subject of air conditioning again?  You-know-who still hasn't installed the window unit in the dining room. I don't even want to go there.

I am making light of every day situations that get to most of us at one point or another and taking a gentle push at the sanctity of women I revere.  Who's to say how the greatest of saints would have reacted to the mundane and ordinary trials we face in the world?  There is no question they lived the lives they chose with perseverance and resolve to do God's Will always and that their unselfish example helps me try to live mine the same way.

"He that is faithful in little things is faithful in that which is greater" - St. Therese of Lisieux

Lord, help me in my weakness

That which is sacred and deserves all our attention

I love going to church and being in the presence of Our Eucharistic Lord.  But I am a weak human being, and sometimes, human thoughts supersede my focus on the Holy Sacrifice that takes place at the altar.  Somewhere between the time Father was placing the consecrated Host on the corporal and when he lifted the chalice, I lost my concentration.  I thought I'd go to Mass a little hungry yesterday and add an element of sacrifice, and the result was that I caught myself thinking of what I would have for lunch when I got home.

What a loser.

I wonder sometimes why God does what He does for us. It's bad enough that I lack the discipline to pay Him homage as I should, but then I go a step further in the wrong direction and try to assign human flaws and failings to Him.

I have no trouble believing in the Real Presence, so why can't I accord Jesus in the Eucharist the attention He deserves?  If there is any time to pay rapt attention and adore the Lord, it is during the Canon of the Mass.

So I once again ask for your help.  I'd like to think I love the Lord so much that I don't need help in this regard, but I do.  How do you clear such distracting thoughts from your mind?

I know that St. Teresa of Avila once said we should treat distractions like bees that we wave away.  Bees while you're praying are one thing.  Bees during the most critical part of the Mass are another.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Daily Reflection From St. Therese

At the hospital where I may very well be employed soon, each meeting is opened with a daily reflection.  It is up to the leader of the meeting to provide the reflection, and since it's a Catholic hospital, there is no worry about being "PC" and offending people of other faiths.  Therefore, I thought I'd better start posting a reflection each day to get a head start.

Today's reflection comes from St. Therese.  If you belong to the Society of the Little Flower, you, too, may have received an envelope bearing this message:

"I cannot express in words what happened in my soul, what I know is that the Lord illuminated it with rays of truth, which so surpassed the dark brilliance of earthly feasts that I could not believe my happiness." - St. Therese of Lisieux

"How come you don't ride horses anymore?" someone asked me. How can I explain to someone who does not share my zeal for the Lord?  When I rode, I thought my heart would burst with happiness.  I looked into the face of a horse and saw God.  But it was also an all-consuming sport.  It took hours to care for horses properly.  It's not like a bike where you can ride it til you're ready to drop and then just lock it up  It took hours of travel back and forth because we don't live in the country.  It took money better spent on college tuition and helping those in need.  Riding was not something I seemed able to do in moderation.  It became my religion for a long time and that was just plain wrong.

I stopped riding because I thought I had spent enough time away from the Lord that I should make this sacrifice and also because it brought me a false sense of happiness, what St. Therese might have called felt or sensible joy.  

Our only real joy in life is to do God's will, even when it does not bring us happiness we can feel.

More Extraordinary Happenings in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

On Sunday, June 26, the external Feast of Corpus Christi, Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at St. Paul's at 12 Noon with a short procession with the Blessed Sacrament to follow.  Also, on Thursday June 30th the patronal feast of the parish will be celebrated with a High Mass at 7pm.  I don't yet know who the deacon and sub-deacon will be but part of me is hoping they will be two newly-ordained priests who took part in the TLM at St. Paul's while they were seminarians.  I'll let you know when I know.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Am Not A Saint

Today was the ninth day of my "Joy in Suffering" novena to St. Therese, which I prayed in the silence of the church before Mass began.  I came across a passage that helped me understand the divide between people like me and Saints like St. Therese.  The Little Flower wished to see Heaven, yes, but her more immediate burning desire was to see that God is loved.  It was not enough for her to see God face to face.  She could only be satisfied by working tirelessly to make others love Him.  It is because she loved Him so much that she loves us as she does.

Why do I wish to save souls?  I don't want to see anyone fall into Hell.  Perhaps there is an ulterior motive that the more people I help save, the more I help my own cause in getting to Heaven.  If so, it's a weakness and a short-coming that I must work to overcome.

The other day, I had a minor disagreement with my mother over the phone, so after work on Friday, I paid her a surprise visit.  My sister's black labs were there with her, and whenever they see me, they start begging for treats.  They inadvertently bite your hand when they take the treat, so I toss it to them to catch.  The result is that one of them shoved the other out of the way and gobbled up both treats.  Katie didn't get one, so my mother chastised me for not directly handing it to her and showed me that while the dog would grab it with her teeth, it's not enough to hurt anyone.  My mother is selfless that way.  I wasn't willing to risk the discomfort of having those canines sink into my hand to even the slightest extent, even if it would be accidental.

I have been complaining a lot about my life lately, even if I do so with humor.  That's certainly not what Jesus had in mind when He asked me to carry my cross.   There are times, I am ashamed to say,  when I plead with Him to take me home sooner rather than later.  No one will be called before their time, and for me, that is a good thing, because I have a very long way to go to understand what it means to surrender one's life to Christ, and I have an even longer way to go in being able to love Him as St. Therese loves Him.

Who is This Holy Spirit?

My daughter asked me this question the other day after her little friend told her that Witnesses do not believe in the Trinity.  I told her what a priest once told me - that in every relationship, there is a third person, which is love.  So the Holy Spirit may be seen as the love between the Father and the Son.  Jesus also told the Apostles He would send them the Advocate, the Comforter,  the Holy Spirit by Whom they would be given what they were to say. So once again, despite what the Witnesses want to believe,  there is direct scriptural evidence for the Trinity.

She asked me why the dove is so often used to symbolize the Holy Spirit.  Again, there is scriptural reference to this.  In the Gospel accounts of the Baptism of the Lord, both Luke and Matthew talk about the spirit coming to rest upon Jesus in the form of a dove.

When I made my Confirmation, we spent weeks and months preparing.  The IHM nuns who taught us told us that we would be made soldiers of Christ on this day.  We would not be soldiers who carried guns, but warriors who carried the spirit of God's truth and enlightenment.  I think this was a pretty good analogy considering what happened to the Apostles after Pentecost.  In strictly human terms, I see the Easter season in stages.  The ecstasy of discovering that Jesus had indeed been raised from the tomb.  The sadness in having Him leave the disciples again to ascend to His Father.  And finally, the comfort and strength He promised them to carry out The Great Commission on the day He sent them the Holy Spirit.

In my own life, I can sit around feeling sorry for myself and pining for the day God calls me home, or I can get up off my duff and resolve to carry out His Will, whatever that may be.  It is the love that a Father had for His children that He sent His only-begotten Son to win salvation for us that helps me carry on.  It is the love that a Son had for His Father and for His Father's children that compelled Him to accept and carry the cross to Calvary.  It is the love the Father and the Son have for us that they know what trials we suffer here on earth that They sent Their Spirit to us to comfort us and fortify us for the battle.

When I see a wrong and refuse to take part  in it, I know that it is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that I'm able to recognize this.  When I see a person who is down-trodden and in need of help and I drop what I'm doing to lend assistance, it is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that I'm able to recognize Christ in the face of this hopeless person.  When I embrace suffering in my life rather than retreat from it, it is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that I recognize this trial as having been sent directly from the Hand of God.  When I see my brothers and sisters destroying their bodies and souls by sexual promiscuity and depravity in the name of gay pride, it is by the Grace of the Holy Spirit that I have the courage to tell them they are sinning against God.

There will be no drama at Mass today with tongues of fire descending from the rafters (what a hazard that would be if the rafters are wood!) but we will be served an important and needed reminder that we are not in this alone, and that the courage and fortitude we need to carry out God's Will is there for the taking, if only we  ask.

We do not have a ceiling at church from which rose petals can be dropped upon us, so I was looking for something creative for children for Pentecost and came upon this adorable and aptly-named blog.  Check out the Tongues of Fire cupcakes!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dressing With Respect

All in the parish are encouraged to dress respectfully for
Mass on the weekend.  Our church is air-conditioned and
there is no need for muscle shirts, tube tops, short shorts and
the like.  Some say we should be happy they are coming to
church, don’t worry about what they wear.  The answer lies
in Respect - Respect for one’s self  but most of all Respect
for the Lord in the Blessed  Sacrament.  To those who
continue to complain about the cold we advise you to carry
a sweater or a light jacket.

This look may be acceptable for Joe the Plumber,  but never in the Presence of  the Lord

I saw this announcement (sans cartoon!)  in the parish bulletin of the church where I often attend daily Mass and I wish more pastors would address this issue head-on.  Regardless of whether the church is air-conditioned or not,  one need not dress expensively to dress modestly.  That goes for men as well as women.   Think of the grace added to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by our brief discomfort, which is nothing compared to what Our Lord suffered for us on Calvary.

Men and women alike, please:  Just say no to crack!  No cleavage and no exposure of any part of the derriere.   Rebecca and I made the mistake of sitting a few rows behind Joe the Plumber a few weeks back.  Talk about distractions!

My Budding Catholic Apologist Daugther

Rebecca is finishing her freshman year in high school.  One of her closest friends is a Jehovah's Witness.  I really like this child.  She wears a skirt to school every day as well as a snood (not sure it has anything to do with being a witness, but her modest look is much appreciated in contrast to low-rise jeans and high rise midriffs, etc). She has also being going at  it quite a bit with Rebecca about the veracity of our faith.  Rebecca is not quite ready to stand on her own (who doesn't need a bit of help on occasion when it comes to defending the faith?) so she'll bring an argument home to me and ask me to help her with a good response.  I finally decided to just give her my copy of Patrick Madrid book "Answer Me This!" and she is most happy to report that she has left her little friend speechless, a first.

As much as I do not like that someone of another faith is trying to lure my daughter from the One True Church, I can think of worse things and I like the way their debates are helping Rebecca understand her own religion better.  At least they are not discussing boys or Lady Gaga.  (BTW, the Phillies Phanatic mocked Gaga as well as anyone could last night - the announcer at first thought he was dressed as a "floozy" until his counterpart corrected him.  Sorry, had to mention that!)

Rebecca has been invited to visit a Kingdom's Hall with her friend and I told her I might permit it if her friend will first come to a Catholic Mass with us.  Her friend told her she couldn't do such a thing because she is a Witness and Rebecca told her she would not visit the Hall for the very same reason - that she is a Catholic.

Our home is full of Catholic symbols and devotions and her little friend is welcome here any time.  One of these children may wind up getting converted, and I'm happy it won't be my Rebecca!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Beggars Can't Always Be Choosy!

I know we don't have to go to daily Mass.  I also know that it's usually a greater sacrifice for me to perform whatever duty calls me away from daily Mass than to make the effort to get there.  Just as nearly every Saturday may be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, so it is with Friday and devotion to the Sacred Heart.   While I know that only the first Friday is particularly dedicated to the Sacred Heart, I try my best to do something in reparation and if possible, to recite the Litany.  It had been a long time since I missed Mass on a Friday.  Unfortunately, it happened today.

I got a call last night right as I was going to bed that a catastrophe occurred which compromised the sterility of our instruments and supplies.  I had already taken an allergy pill and did not want to drive in to work, plus I knew the nursing supervisor and others were on the premises and could do as I directed them. My phone did not stop ringing until sometime after 2 am and bleary-eyed, I dragged myself in at 6am to see what else needed to be done. I can't complain because the evening folks didn't make it home until 4 am.  I was scheduled to visit my friend at her Catholic hospital, but that was looking more and more precarious.

At any rate, after running around for 4 1/2  hours, dealing with childish surgeons and staff and noting that my supposed right-hand nurse was enjoying watching me sweat, I decided things were under enough control that I could leave for a few hours.  We decided that this would be a working visit and my friend planned things so that we could review policies in her OR that are plaguing me in mine.  I interviewed some of her staff in the endo lab, which is an area where we are having particular challenges, and brought back some good information to guide us in our facility.

I absolutely loved the hospital I visited though it is admittedly twice the distance from my house as my current position.  The hospital is located on a beautiful campus and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary greets you as you arrive at the entrance.  A modern looking cathedral-type structure is attached to the entrance, and I learned that it is "the chapel".  It's larger than some churches I've been in.  I'm not crazy about the modern statues and the off-center tabernacle, but it's a hospital chapel, not a parish church.  Beggars cannot be choosy!

I have a lot to consider.  On the one hand, it is quite a distance.  On the other, I will be in the same building, all day long, in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.  The chapel is open 24 hours a day, which means that whenever I have the time and the desire, I can pop in for a quick prayer or an hour of devotion at the end of the day before I leave.  It will be less money, but that's never an issue.  Less is more, if you know what I mean.  The time off works differently too, but it won't be a problem.  I will make a list of pros and cons and weigh them carefully for awhile.

When my friend took me into the chapel, I thought that even though I didn't make it to Friday Mass for the first time in a long time, I did get to greet Jesus in person, if only for a moment.  Aside from the visit, this was an extremely difficult day and one on which I found it so difficult to pray.

As I drove in to work this morning at an hour when I would normally be on my way to Mass, I wondered to myself why it appears as though God makes things so difficult.  I have only to think of St. Joseph in search of a place for his wife to bring forth her Child to recall that His plan for us seems not to include clear-cut directions  complete with arrows.  

Some days are going to be better than others.  Only in Heaven should I expect perfection, cos I surely have no right to expect it here on earth.

(I tried my best to edit this, but I am the midst of a sneezing conniption, so please excuse typos, etc!)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Don't Tell Father Z...

... but this morning, I was the quasi-altar server at Mass.  No, not really, but I knew that heading would grab some attention.  Actually, we did not have a server, so Father asked if anyone would be willing to ring the bells at the consecration from the comfort of their pew.  No one else raised their hand, so I did.  Having two kids who are/were servers is handy. My timing was perfect but more than that, I was so touched to be able to herald the Lord's arrival at the Holy Table by sounding the bells.  At first, I wondered how I would acknowledge His Presence as I normally do, but then I realized that by ringing the bells, I didn't need to do any more than I already did.

It always bothers me at low Mass when there is no server and obviously no organist, that there is no peal of bells to call our attention to the Real Presence.  Kudos to this priest who obviously feels the same!

Here We Go Again

The best boss I ever had, who works for a Catholic hospital, is not giving up so easily on getting me to come to work for her.  You may recall back in January she asked me to come work for her at a time when I was struggling with my decision of where to seek employment that would allow me the opportunity to get to daily Mass.  Her hospital offers two Masses a day in their chapel, even more on Sundays.

With all the nonsense I'm dealing with at my current job, I'm ready to give her latest proposition serious consideration.  My family is somewhat opposed to this idea because it involves a longer commute.  However, to me it would be worth it to have the Blessed Sacrament on the same premises in which I'm working and to know that I will never, ever have to deal with abortion or sterilization surgery. I'm fortunate that I don't have to do that now, but if they get desperate enough for more surgical volume, who knows?  Besides, I have to drive at least a few times a week to other hospitals in our health system and if you add those miles up, it might not be that different.  And on top of it all, I would get to work for someone who has integrity in every way.

Please keep this intention in your prayers.  I know there are more important things we can all pray for, so just a brief mention would be more than I deserve.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I AM Living the Monastic Life -Sort Of

OK, so my house is more furnished than this, but not by much!

I first discovered the house in which we now live when I was pregnant with our oldest.  I befriended a woman in my maternity exercise class who was a few weeks ahead of me.  She invited us to her home for the bris, the Jewish rite of circumcision, and I fell in love with the place - the spacious rooms, hardwood floors and large and expansive garden.  When our friends moved away, we expressed interest in buying the house, but they opted to rent it out, not sure if they were going to like living in Teaneck, NJ.  But about 8 years later, they decided to sell. They called and left a message on our answering machine, asking if Jim would like to paint the house.  We called back and said no, we were more interested in buying it.  The people that rented it from them had beat the house nearly into the ground.  The told our friends they had 4 kids.  They really had 11. Our friends would have rented to them anyway, but they would have insisted on more frequent maintenance.   The husband never wanted to bother the landlord with repairs, so he did all the patching himself.  The house was in sad shape but I remembered what it used to look like, and I knew it could be restored.

I thought we should invest in central air.  My husband, who, you understand, lived atop a laundromat for years without so much as a fan, didn't agree.  He thought window units were just fine.  They would be, if they didn't have to wait for him to install them.  There are two times during the year that I advise everyone to hide the women and children - the day he puts up the Christmas tree and the day he puts in the air conditioners.

Fortunately, he got the bedroom units in last week because it's so hot, the devil asked a cab driver for a ride in his air-conditioned sedan. I'm still waiting for hubby to install the downstairs unit.  It's so hot in this house that I hate getting out of my car when I get home because the car is at least air-conditioned.  I no sooner come in the door and into the convection oven that is our house when the question is popped:  "What's for dinner and what time will it be served?"

It's times like these when  I have to remind myself that the Blessed Virgin Mary never threw a pot at St. Joseph.

Lest you think "well, at least you sleep in an air-conditioned room", consider this.  Mr. Eskimo has discovered a nifty trick.  If he opens our closet door to just the right angle, all the air runs into the closet and is blocked by the door from coming into the bedroom.  It's not a big wonder why I never sleep well at night.  It's much easier to get warmer than it is to get cooler and when I suggest he use the comforter, he looks at me like I have three heads.

Sometimes, as we women are wont to do, I think about what might have been had I entered a monastery, and it occurs to me that my life might not be too much different than what it is now.

Rise at an early hour?  Check
Daily Mass?  Check (well, nearly always check)
Simple meals? Check
Modest and simple clothing? Check
Lack of heat in winter?  Check
Lack of air conditioning in summer?  Check
Sparsely furnished dwelling?  Check

All I need is a habit and I'm nearly all set (with a few minor complications, like the husband and kids and job!)

Another Carmelite Monastery!

I was tickled pink to discover that there is another Carmelite Monastery withing driving distance of Philadelphia. The Allentown Carmel is actually located in Coopersburg, PA, just a few miles from A-town. I thought you might enjoy taking a look at their site and reading about the Foundress.  I like what she had to say about daily reception of Holy Communion.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

God Is Where It's At

I am so going to miss the priest who opened his homily this morning with this line.  June is a mighty month, for with it go many fine parish priests, to other parishes, so that others may come to know them.  Father used this line to qualify Christ's prayer to the Father to "glorify Thy Son".  To human ears, this may sound like an egotistical plea, until we stop to think that God does not have an ego.  That is an entirely human flaw.  Our ego gets in the way when we attempt to usurp God's authority or assume we are on the same level with Him.  The Holy Trinity is the Be All, End All of our existence, except It has no end.  So much to think about, yet   impossible for the mind to comprehend.  Well, I tell myself this all the time: I don't need to comprehend it.  I'm not God, so I will never comprehend any of it.  It's a waste of time to try.

There was a shameful time in my life when I feel like I tried to arm-wrestle God.  I questioned my very existence.  I resented the fact that I had no say in coming into the world, was told I had free will, but yet would go to Hell if I exercised that will to do what I wanted, rather than what God asked of me.  This is a classic example of our ego obstructing the path to holiness.  Once I accepted that I am subject to God, I dropped this existential way of thinking.  Once again, I assigned human failings to a Divine Person, Whose ways are not mine.  Rather, I should say, my ways are not His.  I must strive to make His ways mine.