Sunday, December 30, 2012

Urgent Prayer Request

Yesterday, I learned that a devoted and humble servant of Christ is facing a grave diagnosis.  Her name is Maria and her family has requested prayers.  I felt called to begin a novena for Maria to my beloved late friend Father Jim Galligan, OSA, a most devout and pious friar who passed away last December.    Father was devoted to the Divine Mercy, up until his last breath.  It would be fitting, I think, to ask that if you are willing to pray for Maria, that you do so by offering the chaplet for her and ask Father Galligan to intercede on her behalf.

A most moving aspect of God's infinite mercy is that He hears and answers our prayers, regardless of how faithful or obedient we've been to Him.   May His Will be done!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

True Humility

Gustav Dore's The Publican and the Pharisee
If you listen, Christ  will speak to you.  I heard Him very clearly when He told me what I must do to become truly humble.  The minute you give in to the temptation to judge another, you have squandered an opportunity to demonstrate true humility - that was the message delivered as I sat on a hard pew in a cold chapel before the Blessed Sacrament, early in December.

There is a saying that if a child is raised with criticism, he learns to be critical, and this is certainly true of me.  I won't delve into the particulars but suffice it to say that the only compliments I ever got growing up were of the left-handed variety.  Even now, I am particularly sensitive to the ticking glance of someone in search of any flaw or imperfection they can find in make-up that is not perfectly applied or a haircut that is not entirely even or clothing that does not fit as it once did.  At some point, you either don't want to be around the perfectionist or you choose to ignore the litany of  faults that the person feels compelled to hand you each time you are in the their company.

This past September I endured what was surely one of the more difficult trials of my life.  I survived intact only with the grace and strength supplied by God, the support of family and the never-ending prayers and daily messages of hope sent to me by a dear friend who once experienced a similar trial.  One must  live through such a thing to know what it is like.  Yet as difficult and wholly unexpected as this was, I realized I was being given a special gift, a cross few ever carry,  an opportunity to stand falsely accused, to be despised and unwanted and to stand in silence rather than engage the accusers.  I did not emerge from this trial unscathed, but if it's true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,  this enterprise surely had that effect on me.

In the end, I was able to walk away, vindicated, and the worth that had been overlooked in someone's haze of resentment came to be recognized.  There is nothing quite like being brought low to enable one to see one's own shortcomings.  Rather spending my energy trying to justify or defend myself, I made a conscious decision to turn inward and assume, even if only briefly, that there was an element of truth in the laundry list of faults I was presumed to have.  Admittedly, my first reaction was nothing like this.  My immediate response was to want to return the favor in kind by pointing out the faults of the accuser.  Thankfully, I turned immediately to Christ to beg His help in weathering this storm.  His Presence, while It could not be felt, was assured.

As St. John tells us, if we say we have no fault, we have deceived ourselves.  I know that while I can fool myself for awhile, I cannot fool Christ.  I decided the best way I could honor Him in all of this was to overlook the faults of others - to ignore the speck in their eyes, in other words - and mind the log in my own.    Every single time I felt impatience with someone's slowness of wit or action, I bit my tongue.  Each barb fired at me verbally or in an email was responded to with overwhelming sweetness.  If people were going to think the worst of me, I would do nothing to validate their beliefs.  And I would look for the best in them.

Perhaps the greatest gift that came out of all of this was gratitude for all the things I have taken for granted, from an imperfect husband who loves me unconditionally to a friend I seldom see but whose prayers and words of consolation kept me afloat.  I also came to appreciate exactly what St Therese meant when she said that without Christ, she could do nothing at all but be little and weak.

With God's grace, I chose to accept this trial as an invitation to become a better disciple, one who might, in the end, more closely resemble her Beloved than herself.

It is humbling but necessary to realize that any worth we have comes not from ourselves, whatever the temptation to pat one's self on the back may be.  This trick of pride is most insidious.  We know better, yet we succumb to the temptation to think ourselves superior to someone else because we kneel for Holy Communion or we say our Rosary without fail or have no difficulty getting to Mass every First Friday.  We may not confess to others how much we want to congratulate ourselves every time we think we have overcome some spiritual weakness.  As St Faustine wrote in her diary, without Christ's help, we would not even be capable of accepting His graces.  Why then, would we ever take credit for any spiritual progress we've made?

The greatest threat to humility is pride, and it is pride that leads us to believe we can and should judge another.  I am grateful for this epiphany and beg God's help that I should never forget it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Greetings!

For those who still link to this blog, and those who happen upon it by chance, Christmas blessings to you and yours.  May the peace of the Christ Child and His Holy Mother keep you in the coming new year.

Well, I never did get around to joining the Third Order, and at this point in time, I don't know that I will.  First, I have to go back to school, whether I want to or not.  I simply don't have the job flexibility that I need until I get this done and out of the way.  Second, every time I think I'm ready to take the next step, I discover a new saint that draws me, just a bit, from the Carmelites.  This year, it has been St Magdalene of Nagasaki and St. Nicholas of Tolentino, both Augustinians.  So for now, I think it is best that I continue to pursue a life of prayer and forego becoming a tertiary.

I have decided to resume blogging, though probably not with the same frequency as before.  And I will also be changing the name of the blog.  The term "unprofitable servants" from Luke 17 has been stuck in mind from before Advent began, and so I will be going with that and doing a little work behind the scenes to update the site.

I look forward to the journey.  Please keep me in your prayers and know that you are in mine.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Call


A dear friend sent me this link, which I wanted to share with you.  I believe the videos are narrated by the Mother Prioress of the Philadelphia Carmel.  Enjoy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Prayer Requests

Another good reason not to have taken this site down is the opportunity to appeal directly for prayers.  Ah, where to begin?

My sister, who married last July, accompanied her new husband to a much-dreaded neurology visit on Friday and they were informed that he does indeed have Huntington's Disease, a genetic disorder which attacks brain cells and for which there is no cure.  The disease claimed the life of his mother and his grandfather and it is likely one or more of his four siblings may also have the disease.

A young mother from our Latin Mass community was just diagnosed with breast cancer.  There is some lymph node involvement so both surgery and chemotherapy are indicated.

One of my nurses, who is young and in good shape, has suddenly developed heart failure.  Her heart is functioning way below the level it needs to and she is unable to work or do much until the doctors can figure something out for her.

Finally, and this is something happy to pray and be thankful for, a certain young lady who means the world to her mother confided that she is discerning a vocation to the religious life. Specifically, she believes she's being called to Carmel.    It's early, and lots can happen, but your prayers for this and all the preceding intentions would be most appreciated.

God bless you all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Crossroads

Well, despite what I said a few weeks back, I'm posting something here, but when you finish reading this, you'll understand why I have broken the "fast".  A few details of the last few weeks first.

About a month ago, I was recruited to take a prestigious  job much closer to home. I would no longer be working for a hospital but for a no-nonsense corporation with little patience for non-productive employees.  It would have opened the door to other opportunities and I must say that the urgency with which I was pursued was something I found alluring.  If I took the job, I'd have a two-mile commute instead of  a 60-mile round-trip every day.  I'd get no annoying calls on weekends or nights about cases that had to be done on call.  I would have the title of director and I would have the autonomy and authority to call the shots.  The woman who offered me the position told me she had to pinch herself when she interviewed me because she felt I was too good to be true.  What was there to do except say yes?

The problem is that my heart just wasn't into it.  I have no aspirations in life except spiritual development, for myself, my family and those I encounter in need of conversion.  It occurred to me that if I took this job, I could kiss becoming a secular Carmelite goodbye.  I would have to be totally invested in this job since the center I would be taking over has many challenges in need of resolution.  It would mean not being able to help with an upcoming retreat.  It would mean missing out on the day of recollection with Cardinal Burke.  It would mean getting home late on Rebecca's 16th birthday. It would mean breaking the hearts of the good people I had come to know in my present position.

I was talking to one of my staff members about the new job and I could see she was visibly upset.  I asked her what was wrong and she simply said " I can see that you don't know my story."    She asked to speak to me privately and then told me something so horrific, I don't know how she manages to get up out of bed every day.  She told me that she had lost her oldest child in a fire a few years back and that the anniversary of the death was coming up.  With the trauma of facing that awful date combined with the knowledge that her boss was leaving and the troublemakers were dancing with joy at the prospect of slipping back into their old ways again, she was finding it hard to cope.

That's when the words of the Gospel started ringing in my ears: No greater love than to lay down your life for a friend.

Well, I can't that I've been laying down my life, but I have had to make sacrifices to work where I do.

Those words wouldn't stop speaking to me.

So on Tuesday evening  I shocked my future employer and my family by announcing that I would be staying put.  My boss at my current job told me she knew I wouldn't leave.  She has a philosophy she calls "Let go, let God". I started thinking about that and how if I truly had faith, I would trust that God would see me through the challenges of my current job, not the least of which is the commute.

Now, what to do with this?  For one thing, I will be giving up this blog.  At Rebecca's urging, I will leave it up for awhile, but I won't be accepting comments, checking stats, or any of the other traps we fall into when we blog.  Second, I am going to take the first steps of seeking entrance into the Third Order.  I have not yet decided whether I would like to pursue the chapter at my own parish or the one where our dear Theresa presides. I have to say I am leaning toward the latter.  Finally, I'm going to take my boss's simple advice and let go and let God take over.

When the job that I just turned down opened up, it held very definite attractions for me.  I asked God to grant me this favor if He willed it for me, but we all know what we don't know and that is, how God works. I see now that the reason it was granted so easily is so I could make a choice of whether of I would seek the life He wants me to lead or the one that the world wants me to lead.

Something else has been going of late that is of some concern for me.  People keep coming to me to ask me to pray for them as though I have some special intercessory abilities. I don't.  I just have faith and I think I have not spent enough time praying that those who come to me for help will themselves discover what I have and that is that our faith and all that entails is our  most precious possession.

I won't be "going away" completely.  I will leave my other blog up for news and photos of the Traditional Latin Mass.

I continue to pray for you and your intentions and I know you are doing the same for me.  God bless all of you and thank you for the gift of your friendship and encouragement.  I thank Theresa especially for the courage to take this step.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day of Retreat on The Spirituality of St. Philomena

When: Saturday April 28, 2012
Where: National Center of the Archconfraternity of St. Philomena, St. Philomena Church, 41 E. Baltimore Ave. Lansdowne, PA. 19050
Retreat Master: Fr. Jason V. Kulczynski, Director of the National Center of the Archconfraternity of St. Philomena, USA.
Cost: $35 which includes continental breakfast and lunch

The day will include Mass, two talks on the life of St. Philomena under her various titles, Benediction and Novena prayers to St. Philomena.  Questions?  Call St.Philomena's Church Office at 610-622-2420 or Deborah Binder at 856-425-5714.

To view photos of the retreat center, visit:

Monday, February 20, 2012


Thank you Father John Boyle.  I think I'm going to follow Father's example and let my blog go silent for Lent.  If I have some earth-shattering revelation or reflection that I feel I simply must share, I'll write a draft to be published after Lent.  The only exception will be posting of any happenings in the Archdiocese that might be of interest to my local readers.

In the meantime, let's keep each other in prayer.

I wish you all a holy and spiritually profitable Lenten journey.  I'll see you when He's Risen!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Post the Radical Feminists Don't Want You to Read

The fact that I did not always do the right thing in life is well-documented on this blog.  In fact, one of things that motivates me to write publicly about some very personal issues is the hope that it might lead a stray home.

This morning when I came downstairs, the television had been turned on by Mr. Y Chromosome, who must have constant background noise, and it was tuned in to some political  talk show where people were scoffing at Rick Santorum and the backlash about the recent HHS decision.

I heard women talk about birth control and abortion as healthcare issues.  I heard women talk as though killing your offspring is something normal.  I heard smart, educated, sophisticated women discuss the Catholic church's stand on abortion and contraception as some kind of misogynist plot to kill women.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone was permitted to ask these women, point-blank, what is so normal about murdering our own children?  The Big Lie has so permeated our society that we don't even blink about the fact that so many think it's OK to have a baby torn from the womb in so many pieces.  I feel like I'm listening to a political version of the "Stepford Wives" as these sad, misguided ladies perpetrate the lie that abortion is a "right" women should have.  In fact, it's a horror so beneath our dignity as women and human beings that I begin to believe these women are not very smart at all.  All the education, degrees, and experience in the working world mean nothing if you are willing to throw away your greatest gifts as something to be prevented or destroyed, like cancer or heart disease.

I know this is a question a lot of us have been asking these past weeks, but it bears repeating:  When did pregnancy become an illness that needed to be prevented?

I once got into a spat with a columnist at Huffington Post who aborted her child after learning she'd been exposed to a known teratogen.  She talked about how, prior to conceiving, she and her husband decided that they wanted to limit the size of their family so that they did not take more from the earth than they were entitled to have.  I find this is a prevailing belief among many on the left, that somehow we should limit procreation to preserve the earth's resources.

Of all the wonders God created, nothing means so much to Him as His people.  He didn't send His Only Son to save the whales, the trees or the ozone.  He sent Him to save us, His children.  And yet we have this mindset that thinks we should limit His most precious creation - humans - in order to "save" the planet.

Abortion is the only medical procedure performed that intentionally leaves a human being dead at its conclusion. In America, women have the legal freedom to kill their own children.  It's so horrible it is difficult say it.

Those are the cold, hard facts someone needs to remind these intellectuals the next time they want to mock Rick Santorum or anyone else who upholds the sanctity of life.  Abortion is a sick, demeaning, destructive act that is so beneath our dignity as women that no self-respecting feminist should ever talk about it as anything other than what it is - slavery to sin, the wages of which is death.

Thank You Lord

Tomorrow is the annual Flyers' Wives Fight for Lives Carnival at the Wells Fargo Center.  The players' wives founded this charity years ago after the team lost defenseman Barry Ashbee to leukemia.  The carnival has always benefited leukemia research.

For a year now, Rebecca has asked to be able to go to the carnival to meet her favorite player, Danny Briere (who bears a slight resemblance to Paul McCartney).  A family friend bought  her a ticket so that she could not only meet Briere but have a photo taken with him.  She planned to have him autograph her jersey and she even practiced some French since he's from one of the French-speaking provinces.

On Thursday, my heart sank as I watched him take a hit that really jolted his neck.  He left the game and didn't come back.  Since he already suffered one concussion this season, I was worried that he'd had another.  If he did, the team would not have allowed him to participate in the carnival since the lights, music and other sensory stimulation is not helpful to a player battling a concussion.

Rebecca doesn't ask for very much and I hated the idea of her looking forward to this for so long only to be disappointed, so I asked Jesus for one of those frivolous things I wouldn't normally mention.

As it turns out, Danny B did not suffer a concussion.  He had a minor shoulder injury so insignificant he was on the ice today for the game against the Penguins.  God-willing, Rebecca will get her wish tomorrow afternoon.

I know this is a trifle of little significance, but I thank God all the same for His generosity to His little servant.

For Wives and Mothers Wishing to Deepen Their Vocations

If you're like me, teetering on the threshold  of joining a third order, this post from Vultus Christi is for you.  Thanks again to Father Mark.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Have Given You the Power to Tread Upon Serpents and Scorpions

I had to remind someone of this Gospel today.  They are fearful of the enemy.  I am not.  I am not foolish enough, however, to believe that on my own I have any power over him.  But nonetheless, the only thing I fear is separation from Jesus Christ, who conquered sin and death and will see my friend through this present trial.

Good will always triumph over evil.

New Translation Work-Around

I don't know what the intention was behind this, but it was an interesting way to skirt the new translation of the Mass.  I won't say where this took place because I had not encountered this particular priest before and perhaps this was an anomaly.

Anyway, the responses were "authored" by Dan Schutte and included words that the Agnus Dei does not contain.  We were also instructed to sing a memorial acclamation that was not kept as part of the new translation.

I was cooperative and sang the responses as requested, but I sang the correct responses.  Bad enough they were set to a Dan Schutte melody.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rep. Jackie Speier Is At It Again

We last heard from her when she tried to garner sympathy for herself by trying to compare the evacuation of an already deceased baby from the womb to a partial-birth abortion. No one would take lightly the tragedy that the congress woman endured when she lost a child. With that said, her speech was disingenuous to say the least.   Now, she's making the claim that Catholic institutions provide insurance that pays for vasectomies.  She offered no proof for this accusation as she accuses the Catholic bishops of being hypocrites.

What don't these people get?  Employment at a Catholic institution is an at-will arrangement.  In fact, unless you're in the military or under some other kind of contract, employment anywhere is pretty much at-will.

To paraphrase the favorite motto of pro-aborts, if you don't like the policies of Catholic institutions, don't work for one.

Social Events Should Never Be Scheduled for a Sunday Morning

I am amazed at the number of people, Catholics mind you, who see nothing wrong with scheduling a social event for a Sunday morning.  True, I could go to Mass the evening before, early that morning or even Sunday evening, but that's not what I want to do.  The Sabbath belongs to the Lord, and it is appropriate to honor Him on Sunday morning whenever possible.

Schedule the baby/wedding/engagement showers/parties/whatever for some other time than Sunday morning, particularly if you want me to RSVP yes.  No?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wherein Yours Truly Displays Her Ignorance

My loyal friend Richard Collins of the very fine Linen on the Hedgerow has tagged me for a meme.  Now truth be told, for the longest time, I thought meme was the French word for same.  Funny what things stick in your memory that are of no use.  But anyway, I've been tagged in a meme that originated with Mac at Mulier Fortis. I will tell you of my three favourite religious books that I recommend for Kindle (even though I don't own one, but that's a post for another day).  Next, I have to nominate 5 other bloggers and ask for their three favorite religious books.  I'm sure my readers know how this works better than I do, so here goes.

1. Story of a Soul by St. Therese.  Often dismissed for her sentiment, this autobiography of St. Therese is a road map to Heaven and provides a glimpse of one of the Church's holiest families.

2. The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila.  While this was written to assist her nuns keep perfectly through prayer the rule of their order, it's of great use to laity as well.  Confession time: I tried, but could not get through Interior Castle.  The Way of  Perfection is a beautiful guide to prayer written in more simple language.  As Teresa of Jesus said as she set out to write this book: "I shall speak of nothing of which I have no experience, either in my own life or in observation of others, or which the Lord has not taught me in prayer."

3. The Royal Way of the Cross by Francois Fenelon.  Written by a French archbishop ( of a much longer proper name than I have revealed here) the "book" is actually a series of letters written presumably for the purpose of spiritual direction for those who sought his help with specific problems.

So, Kelly at a Mom for Life, Caroline at the Bell of the Wanderer, Patricia at I Want to See Jesus,  Allison at Totus Tuus and Daniel at Through Vocation, you're up.

Now, lest I forget completely, my dear friend Kathy at Moving on to the Past awarded this me last week.

I have to return the favor by awarding same to 15 other bloggers.  This will require some thought so stay tuned.  Here are the rules, btw, copied from Kathy's blog.

1. Add the award to your blog. 
2. Thank the blogger who gave it to you.
3. Mention seven random things about yourself. (see below)
4. List the rules.
5. Award to 15 bloggers.
6. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog.

As you are all well aware, I talk a little too much about myself.  So I might add a twist to this.  If you're interested, send me a random fact about yourself.  I will take seven random revelations and post them and everyone will have to match the fact with the blogger.  

Remember, you have to play to win, or something like that.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Post-SuperBowl Sunday at Home

In winter, we don't go to the grandparents' house every Sunday and since Grandmom will be making a big dinner for someone's 24th birthday next week, we decided to let her take a well-deserved rest today.

One of these days, I am going to make better use of Saturday evening by getting Sunday's dinner ready then so that I, too, can abstain from servile work.  Hey, we have to eat, but that doesn't mean I can't cook it the night before.

Today's dinner is going to be my homemade gnocchi in a Shitake cream sauce.  Some of the ingredients are pictured below where they have been set out to become closer to room temperature.
I really like the ricotta I'm using as it's made locally ( in Chester County, PA where the Shitakes were grown) and it's the closest I've been able to find to genuine homemade ricotta.  I like gnocchi, or cavatelli if you prefer because these are being made with cheese and not potato, because you don't need any special equipment to make them.  I wish I could give you a recipe, but when it comes to cooking, I shoot from the hip, which drives people who want an exact recipe crazy.

Last year I posted some photos of the finished product.  If we haven't devoured them all, I might get around to doing that again.

One of the reasons I have never been able to persuade my husband to move out of this neighborhood is because of our proximity to some of the world's best food.  We have the Italian Market just blocks away as well as Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian and now Mexican fare.

On Sundays, my husband goes to early Mass, and then he visits Sarcone's Bakery, where he gets us our Sunday loaf and picks up bread for the ladies at Isgro's Bakery as well.  We have several excellent bread bakeries in this section of the city and Sarcone's is probably the most renowned.

Last Sunday, there was a bit of confusion when we left for dinner and someone who shall remain nameless forgot the loaf of bread on the dining room table. I can tell you we were quivering in our boots when we knocked at the door at our destination.  My dad doesn't take kindly to us showing up without the bread.

"You have one job on Sunday, you failed at it", he told us, only half-joking.

Not today.  My work, significantly more involved than just remembering a loaf of bread, is waiting for me on the kitchen counter.

A blessed Sunday to all.

My Grace Is Sufficient For You

For Sexagesima Sunday, a timely and must-read from Vultus Christi. For those of you who are not familiar with the Traditional Latin Mass, there are three Sundays that occur immediately before the first Sunday in Lent that are a kind of pre-Lent to help prepare us for the heavy lifting we will soon be doing. As Father Z pointed out on Friday, no part of the Collect for today's Mass survived the changes of Vatican II, which is unfortunate. It refers to St. Paul as the "Doctor of the Gentiles" and implores God for the saint's protection for us.

St. Paul bore an unrevealed thorn, about which he complained to Jesus, Who told him: "My Grace is sufficient for you."

And for us.

Sufficit tibi gratia mea

CUF Sponsors Day of Recollection With Cardinal Burke

Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) is presenting a Day of Recollection on the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Saturday, April 21st at St. Charles Seminary in Overbrook, PA.  His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect, Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, will be the principal speaker.  The day includes several talks by Cardinal Burke, lunch, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by the Cardinal at 4pm in St. Martin's Chapel.  The Boys Choir of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will sing at the Mass.

For more information, visit CUF's website

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Bernadette Can Teach Us About Perseverance, Suffering, Faith and Judgment

Inspired by Richard Collins' clip, I give you this on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.  The Blessed Virgin Mary chose this simple, humble and suffering young girl to foment belief in her Immaculate Conception and to teach the world the value of suffering and perseverance and concern for the sick.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us and for all who suffer affliction of body, mind and soul.

St. Bernadette, pray for us that we may persevere as you did as humble models of Christian purity, simplicity and faith.

What Did You to Help Them?

There are a lot of difficult personalities I have to contend with in my job, many more than I have ever encountered elsewhere.  Sometimes, I think God assembled a lifetime of difficult people in this one place where it is permissible to use His Name, display a crucifix and pray.  I'm sure this was by design, just as it is by design when you meet a vile, despicable person on the street who does or says something objectionable thing that makes you want to haul off and slug them.  God expects us to react, but not in that way.  He puts such people in our path so we can pray for them, because it's apparent that nothing is else is working to help them.

I have been fearful of a certain person for some months now.  When I see this person, my inclination is to either want to ignore them or run the other way.  Every encounter with this person is an indictment of my abilities, in her mind, to do my job.  Sometimes, I can literally feel her claw marks in my neck and I seriously consider never coming back so as to escape her.  She's not in a position of authority, and I think this is part of why her attacks are relentless.  In her mind, she has tied being in a leadership position to self-worth, and it's apparent she loathes herself every bit or more than she loathes me and the others whose lives she has made unpleasant.

Yesterday, she did something that really set my blood boiling.  It involved a brand new and very vulnerable employee who just started working with us.  It's one thing to go after me, but attack one of my little lambs, and it's quite another.  After protecting the person and reassuring them that what happened was understandable and not unexpected for a brand-new employee with very little time on the job, I sat down and wrote my boss an email detailing what happened and why she must act, now, to intervene.

The offending person has already caused one person to quit, and another young person with a lot of promise and ability has one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel, so tenuous is this situation on a daily basis.  My email was a brief litany of what just happened and a desperate plea for her to get this resolved before another person walks.  Then it kind of hit me that of all the things I've done to make this situation better, the one thing I hadn't done yet was pray for this person.  Not once.

I prayed about her, for God to protect me from her vicious attacks, but not once had I prayed for her.

I still think my boss needs to do more than she has to correct this problem, but I also realized that the offending person has some deep-rooted issues that are causing her to behave this way.  It cannot be pleasant to be who she is right now.  Whether or not her behavior is by choice or rooted in some pathology is not for me to say.  My obligation is to lift her in prayer.

Whenever I peel off a list of offending personalities to Jesus, His first question is: But what did you do for them?

Good question, Lord.  I didn't do what I should have, but I will now.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I picked a time for Adoration for which no one else had committed.  Suddenly, lots of folks started showing up for "my" Holy Hour, some of them not so quiet.   I spoke to the nun who coordinates the schedule for the chapel and asked what other times are not covered.  10pm was available, so she agreed to let me switch.  Well, guess what?  The folks who were coming earlier are now coming later, with me.

Last week, one of the gentleman sat sideways in the pew directly in front of me, so I could not look at the monstrance without seeing this man's face.  And then, he turned around and started talking to me.  I was ready to scream.

If you want me to cry "uncle" Dear Lord, I am!

Maybe this is God's way of telling me I deserve Purgatory, but in His Mercy, He's letting me have it now.


I had the chapel to myself last night, except for  a couple who stopped in briefly and were very quiet.  What a lovely thing for a couple to do together late on a Friday evening, stop in for a few quiet moments of adoration together.

There is no quiet in my house.  I am married to a drummer, for one thing, and for another, he is one of those people who must always have music or television in the background.  And because of that Y chromosome he was endowed with, whatever he listens to or watches must be turned up to 96 decibels.   Sometimes, I go upstairs to pray because it's not always feasible to get to a chapel, and it's impossible to escape the noise.  I plead for silence, and no matter where I go, I can't go any.

Lately, Mr. Little Way has taken to a particularly grating habit of practicing on his drum pad (which is like listening to water drip very quickly and repeatedly) WHILE he watches the auto auction on the Speed Channel.  Can you imagine having to listen simultaneously to an auctioneer's voice AND water dripping?

I tell you, God is doing everything in His Power to get me to Heaven, making sure I do my time in Purgatory while still on earth.

That's why it's so wonderful when I can have the chapel either to myself or be able to share it with like-minded people who can observe the rule of silence when in the Divine Presence.

That's all.

Something to Think About

photo via Liturgiae Causa

This idea came to us in the daily reflection that we receive at work each day, and that is, that God's mercy and forgiveness are like the dawn, coming over and over again.

You know by reading my profile that I didn't always lead the kind of life that a Catholic wife and mother should, but I want you to know, especially those of you struggling, that I never worry about what I've done.  I concern myself with where I'm going.  There are many people I would never have reached had I not gone down the sinful path that I did, and perhaps the same can be said for you.

To everything, there is a purpose.

Sometimes, that includes the darkest, most horrific places in our lives.

One day, we'll know, so for now, our only recourse is to trust.

God is in control.  Always.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

This Year's Lenten Plans

In less than two weeks, our favorite liturgical season will be upon us.  What we will do this year to make our Lenten journey a spiritually profitable one for ourselves and our families?

For one thing, I will not be blogging or reading blogs on Fridays.  I would encourage others to do the same.

Today, a Douay-Rheims edition of the New Testament with a complete set of Psalms arrived in the mail from the friars at Mystic Monk Coffee.  It's a flexible cover edition small enough to tuck inside my handbag.  I don't think I read Scripture enough so I will make a sincere effort this Lent to devote a little time each day to that devotion.  I hope to pray the Psalms more often as well.

As is my routine during Lent, I will try to make the Stations of the Cross each Friday at my own parish, and perhaps on other days during the week if they are offered at other nearby churches.  And I will make a more concerted effort to get some family members other than faithful Rebecca to go with me.

I took the day off on Ash Wednesday.  I like to begin the day with early morning Mass at my own parish, followed by Adoration and hopefully confession later in the day.   Then I will take Matthew to a prayer service at our parish later in the day when he gets home from school.

So far I know of only one retreat for Lent, the silent retreat at the Carmel that I mentioned a few weeks ago.  In lieu of an additional retreat, I will try to spend more time in Adoration, perhaps combined with fasting before-hand.  Who knows what soul might be saved from this effort?  Maybe my own!

The Royal Way of the Cross by Francois Fenelon is one of my favorite picks for Lenten reading.  Does anyone have any others to suggest?  I am a bit of a creature of habit whereby with both spiritual books as well as fiction, I like to go back to that with which I'm familiar, rather than venturing out and trying something new, so I'd like to get out of my comfort zone a bit with something different.

I know some people consider abstaining from certain foods or treats a juvenile way to observe Lent, but I think it's a good thing if you combine it with spiritual practices.  God give me the strength to give up Pepsi for Lent (and  help my poor family during the withdrawal period!).

I Hope That Someday...

.. I will abandon myself unconditionally to God

...I will successfully keep my heart centered and my mind from wandering during Holy Mass

...I will rejoice that others have come to Adore Jesus and not internally react as if they're disrupting my private time

...I will rejoice to be little and unnoticed

...I will not sit in judgment of a priest or others who do not say or do what I think they should

...I will remember the mortification suffered by the Lord on His way to Calvary before I recoil at some small humiliation

And on a lighter note -

I WILL remember to look under the covers before sitting on the bed and nearly crushing my new best friend.  If it wasn't for the growl that came from beneath the sheets, I might have hurt the little guy.  Ah, to be so loved!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why Can't Romney Close the Deal?

I don't much care, so long as Newt doesn't advance.

I totally did not see last night coming and what a delight it was to wake up and find out how well Rick Santorum fared in yesterday's caucuses.   I am convinced that prayers are what helped little Bella Santorum turn the corner and I'm convinced they're what helped her dad emerge victorious last night.

Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Is Nancy Pelosi Still Calling Herself Catholic?

And why isn't some Bishop calling her on the carpet and instructing her not to present herself for Holy Communion?  Seriously, if the Pope summoned me to Rome for a private audience whereby he forbade photographs, I think it would have been more than enough for me to grasp the fact that I was not living in conformity with church teaching on intrinsic moral issues.

There's hubris, and then there's Pelosi.

BTW, the Church should not be shocked that so many of its members support abortion and contraception.  When the institution of marriage was weakened by the granting of annulments like so many M & M's, everything else rooted in that foundation fell with it, like dominoes.  People make mistakes.  People enter marriages in good faith and suffer betrayal and even abuse and they should have recourse. I am not referring to those people.  But marriage is not something to be entered into lightly, like trying on a pair of shoes to see which ones fit.  Perhaps if there were more stringent requirements before granting the sacrament of matrimony people would be a lot more careful about who they marry and why.


 Also, BTW, I will get around to responding to some comments and requests a bit later.  My daschhund is snuggled on the couch next to me, pulling at my arm.  This usually means he wants me to find some canine videos for him to watch on YouTube.  I kid you not.  Usually, I indulge him by finding something featuring a Bichon Frise which was the kind of dog we had that died a few years back, leaving him heartbroken.  He actually leans in close to sniff the screen to see if it's really him.

What can I tell you? The dog is neurotic and I probably helped to make him that way.  It's entertaining, to say the least.

There's another reason I'm his best friend right now.  When I got up for work this morning, I heard him whimpering on the bed.  Somehow, a string from the quilt went through one of his claws, like thread through the eye of a needle.  I managed to get him to calm down while I went off to find a scissor to cut the string.  His little paws were sweating and his heart was racing and when I cut him loose, he wouldn't stop licking my hand in gratitude.

A loyal dog is one of God's most endearing gifts to us.

Monday, February 6, 2012

God Doesn't Demand Anything, We Do!

Please, especially over the next 24 hours, keep my special intention in your prayers.  It would be most appreciated.

I was raised by a sometimes austere father who did not accept failure of any kind from me.  A valuable lesson he taught me early on was never to take the easy road when I could take the more difficult path.  I can, to this day, hear him tell me: " A quitter never wins and a winner never quits."  Later, when I went to high school and thought that algebra and chemistry were going to be the death of me, he not only encouraged me to hang in there, he expected me to excel.  And when I got to college and could choose my professors, my father, a high-school drop-out, advised me to take the more difficult courses with the more difficult professors.

"What good is an A if it's practically given away?  Better to get a B and have really worked for it and learned something."

My dad, who is still with us and is a lot less austere than he was in those days, has obviously had an impact on my life.  The last year has been a difficult one for me and after some introspection and time before the Blessed Sacrament, I see now that a lot of the demands that have left me exhausted were not of God's doing but my own in a misguided attempt to serve Him.

For reasons that I will one day talk about when the time is right, I have never had the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom except for brief periods of time here and there.  If I could live my life over, I would do it so differently, but we only get one shot, so the best I can do is thank God for leading me where He has and do my best to continue to serve Him without killing myself in the process.  I sometimes heard the words of my dear Father Jim telling me: "Christ does NOT want you running yourself ragged for Him."

What one mother does for 6 children, 6 children will never do for her.   So it is with God.  We can never repay Him and He doesn't expect that of us.  He only asks for our love and our gratitude.  And I can certainly give those to Him without making my life unnecessarily unpleasant and difficult.

I have some work to finish before I move on to my next conquest.  God, in His wisdom, endowed me with a sensitive nature that simultaneously recoils from harsh, cruel people while seeking to protect weaker people from their bullying.   I have achieved such a sense of peace since accepting that God wasn't demanding any of the things from me that I thought He was.

He appreciates everything I do for Him.  As St. Therese reminds us, " God does not look at the greatness of our acts but the love with which we do them."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gov. Chris Christie's Stock is Rising


He's a Cowboys fan.  That alone is worth a great deal.  Even Roger Staubach told him he's brave, being a Dallas fan in the midst of Giants and Jets territory (their name says New York, but they actually play in New Jersey).

Seriously, although I've had some concerns about his brashness at times, I would rather have a politician who tells you what he thinks, not what he thinks you want to hear.

Right now he's taking a lot of heat for wanting to put the issue of gay marriage to a referendum.  The Democrats in New Jersey have made the issue their number one priority, which gives you some idea of how upside down the world has become.

A Movie That Brings Back Memories

I am the least fashion-conscious person you'd ever want to meet, so I'm a bit embarrassed to tell you that I am watching Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.  I don't like the movie because of the fashion but because it reminds me so much of my first job right out of college.  Like the protagonist, I too, got a degree in communications and journalism and hoped to get a writing job.  What I found in its place was a position as a go-for in a small advertising agency.  It was owned by a man and a woman who were not married to one another but who had worked together at another agency.  They quit their jobs on a Friday and opened the doors to their new agency  the following Monday, having taken with them most of their former boss's clients.

When I saw the character of Miranda Priestly (played by Streep) I couldn't help but think I had seen the reincarnation of my old boss, complete to the gesture of throwing her coat on my desk and expecting me to hang it up for her.

The man who owned the agency really liked me and demonstrated a lot of confidence in me.  The woman, however, was another story.  I soon learned that she fired every single administrative assistant they had hired for her, and I would be working chiefly for her.  She spoke quickly, didn't like to repeat herself, and expected you to read her mind.  She would also swear she told you to do something when in fact, she hadn't.  This was in the days before email so leaving a paper trail to cover for yourself was virtually impossible.

She had been married three times already and it appeared to me that her current husband was hanging on by even less of a thread than I was.

The agency handled mostly fashion accounts.  What did I know about fashion?  Not much, but I had to learn quickly.  I never knew what I could be asked to do from one day to the next.

"Go out and buy the jewelry for the fashion shoot."

"Call the agent for Spandau Ballet and see if they would be willing to do a photo shoot"

"Take the 7am Amtrak to New York and pick up the clothes from the garment district"

"Come pick up Maggie (her English Sheep Dog) and bring her to the photo shoot"

The last command was one of the most humorous.  Maggie was unruly on the leash and dragged me down Chestnut Street, where the photographer's studio was located.  I remember having to brace myself against a subway alcove to get her to stop dragging me.  The wind was blowing and I had a billowy dress on that nearly traveled with it and by the grace of God I caught it at the last minute without losing my grip on Maggie.

No matter what I did, it was never good enough, fast enough or thorough enough.  The other partner loved me, but he confessed he had been powerless in the past to save anyone he liked from getting fired because eventually, his partner would get around to it.

In August, he came to me and said he was going on vacation and it had been nice having me work for him.  Joan, he explained, had a knack for waiting until he went on vacation to fire people.

"You think she's going to fire me?" I asked incredulously.  I did everything she asked for, including working weekends for special promotions at one of our retail accounts.

"She's done it before, she'll probably do it again."

However, the grace of God was with me again.  While the one boss was away,  the vice president  quit, very suddenly, and there was no one to take his accounts - except me.  So I survived not only that week but the next 7 years.  I went from gopher to senior account executive and got to write copy and even design some ad campaigns.

That partnership was the craziest I'd ever worked for.  After Caitlin was born, I felt I wanted to do something more altruistic with my life, and I made the decision to go to nursing school.  They didn't take the news well and did everything to keep me, including offering me a vice president position and a sizable raise.  Sometimes, when I look back, I think of how uncomplicated my life was when I worked there compared to now.  But it was the right thing to do.  Nothing I did made an impact on anyone's life in a meaningful way.

Anyway, the movie brings back memories of photo shoots in New York, expensive dinners, wining and dining clients and of course, being dragged down the street by a photogenic but ill-behaved dog.  It all seems so shallow and meaningless, because it is, but it's still humorous to remember it all.

Meditation for First Saturday of the BVM

This meditation of the Finding of the Christ Child in the Temple is from Fr. Benedict Groeschel's book Rosary: Chain of Hope.

"Anxiety is a familiar component of human life, and  perhaps it is more common now in more affluent times.  Material comforts and anxiety inexplicably go together.  One often encounters in the poor a certain acceptance of life, with its pain and fear.  The poor live with an inexplicable hope,  born of pain and suffering, that permits them to go on even when disaster has occurred and threatens to strike again.

We all live through anxious moments, and even very dark moments, when our worst fears are realized.  Mary and Joseph were relieved to find the Christ Child in the temple.  In less than half a lifetime Mary would lose her Son at Calvary in the sight of this same temple.  This reminds us that Christianity is very much the religion of a God who suffers."

Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Beat the Father of Lies

Thanks to Richard Collins for linking to this gem at National Catholic Register.  I could not have said this better.

Life's Journey: Can We Compare It To Holy Week?

I missed three days of work this week due to illness which I am sure my own disposition and anxiety helped to bring on. I won't bore you with the details but I have been leaning on the Lord a lot lately. I know He doesn't mind, but I can't help but think of St. Therese who asked her novices if they "would be as the mediocre souls" who, instead of seeking to console Our Lord, sought His consolation instead.

It occurred to me while praying the novena to the Sacred Heart this morning how much life is like Holy Week, at various points.

We have our Passion Sunday, where people smile to our faces and heap praises upon us, almost lulling us into a false sense of security. Just as surely as there is a tomorrow, you can bet that very soon, they'll be trying to nail you to a cross.

Then we go through our passions, which don't amount to a drop in a bucket when compared to what Our Lord endured for us. Here is where the great mystery of the Passion of Jesus Christ strikes me with awe: He didn't have to go through any of what He did, but He chose to do so so that reparation could be made for our sins.

So, He suffered once and for all to conquer sin and death, and I keep going to Him to ask Him to help me carry a load I created of my own free will?

And so we endure our trials and even our mini-passions and then a day of Resurrection happens, where we find solace in prayer and in receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and all seems right with the world, until our personal palm Sunday comes around again and the cycle begins anew.

I was going to complain to Jesus about a betrayal that happened to me in my workplace that has been weighing heavily on me. Then I stopped myself. How do you complain to the Divine Master about some trifle when one of His own disciples betrayed Him with a kiss and 30 coins?

Judas ate with the Lord, journeyed with Him, bore personal witness to the miracles He performed and still, when offered a reward, turned His back on Him and handed Him over to his executors.

I pray and pray and pray for the Lord to give me the grace to endure all suffering gladly for Him and on behalf of sinners and the Holy Souls in Purgatory and then, when He does, I become a weakling and beg for help.

God give me the grace necessary that I may never be as Judas to Your Divine Son.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Is The Tide Starting to Turn?

In the same week that a columnist for the Washington Post told Chris Matthews that the Obama administration "threw Catholics under the bus", it's announced that the Susan G. Komen Foundation has withdrawn financial support of Planned Parenthood. Sure, there's outrage and protest on the part of the crowd that would like us to believe that PP is a benevolent organization, but this is also an encouraging sign. If PP is using this smack-down as a fund-raising mechanism, then it's obvious they don't need our tax dollars or money from the Komen Foundation to fund their nefarious agenda.

What's more, does anyone really believe that PP offers mammograms? If they do offer them, why don't they advertise them? Because this is an organization incapable of telling the truth. Providing a referral for a mammogram is like offering a band-aid to an accident victim and calling yourself a trauma center. And that's all they do - offer referrals that a woman can get from plenty of other sources.

There was a time in my life when I was on the wrong side of the abortion issue, as you well know. Whatever the Komen Foundation did in the past, it deserves our support for the courage demonstrated in telling the merchants of death "no more." I welcome this news and regard this as a victory for the pro-life movement.

Let's pray for more victories like this one.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Even A Columnist From the Washington Post Questions Obama's Mandate

If I didn't hear it with my own ears, I still wouldn't believe it. But I did hear this exchange on Hardball and if THESE people think this was a bad idea, does it possibly stand a chance of survival?
Click on the link to hear how Catholics who supported Obama "were thrown under the bus".

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice ...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Talitha cumi

Request for Prayers

Please continue to pray for Bella Santorum. She is on the mend and her dad, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, has called her recovery "miraculous".

Would you also in your charity remember an associate of mine, a very fine surgeon and a devout Catholic and family man who sustained a devastating head injury last week? I am praying for a full recovery and for him to regain his ability to operate again.

Could I also be so selfish as to ask for your prayers for my own personal intention? I am a weak human being who is struggling with a cross that I've been asked to carry and the temptation to put it down has been great. There are countless people in this world who would love to carry a cross as simple as mine and yet at times, it seems the heaviest in the world. I know that nothing is further from the truth and I ask your help for the grace to accept what God wills for me.

Thank you and God Bless you.

I Hope That Someday...

... When I ask someone to lower their voice in church, they don't berate me for doing so and insist "it's no big deal if Mass didn't start yet"

...I can remember that such insults are not even a drop in the water compared to the jeers Christ endured on the way to Calvary

...I will resist the urge to tell others about some perceived hurt or insult and just absorb it and offer it up

...I will not dwell on the negative but brush it off

...I will stop thinking about everything I did wrong in the past and simply thank God for bringing me to where I am today

...I will make a good Confession and forget about it, rather than think about how I could have done better

...I will remember not to waste a single ounce of suffering, no matter how seemingly small

...I will fear offending God more than I fear encountering the Father of Lies

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Something Sweet for Sunday

Prayers for the Santorum Family

Last night, Rick and Karen Santorum had their youngest child, Bella, age 3, admitted to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for an unknown illness.  Bella was born with Trisomy 18, a rare genetic disorder that claims 90 percent of affected children before or during birth.   Bella had been doing well since her last hospitalization two years ago but something as simple as a cold could be very problematic for her.

Please keep the family and Bella in particular in your prayers.

Philadelphia Catholics, Mark Your Calendars!

Just another reminder that this Thursday, St. Paul Church will celebrate the feast of the Purification of Our Lady, also known as Candlemas, with a Sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form including a procession and other observances at 7pm.  This is the first time in many years of which I am aware that this beautiful feast is being observed in Philadelphia in the Extraordinary Form.  We can't complain about poorly-celebrated liturgies if we don't support the liturgically faithful and correct ones.

On Saturday, February 25th, the annual Lenten Silent Retreat at the Carmelite Monastery will take place with Father Kevin McGoldrick as the retreat master.  Let me know if you're interested and I'll send you a registration/information form.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Responding to the Pagans

You may have seen the profane video making its way around You Tube produced by a pagan who asserts that the "inspiration" for the Son of God was actually plagiarized from astrology and is really based on "the sun of god".  I won't dignify the video by linking to it from here.  There are assertions made such as that the Twelve Apostles were "borrowed" from  the twelve suns and zodiac signs.  It really is quite nauseating and we can only pray for the conversion of such people.

As Catholics, I think we've all heard the insults and insinuations of atheists and pagans that our beliefs are rooted in fantasy and that our most sacred traditions and holy days have been lifted from pagan practices, such as Christmas from Saturnalia.

I was looking for some images of Candlemas yesterday when I came across yet another pagan blasphemy claiming that Christianity sought to gain legitimacy for the Presentation of Jesus in the temple by borrowing from the traditions of Imbolc, another pagan festival that occurs around the same time and was used to look forward to spring.

Because these pagan practices may have preceded our sacred holy days such as Christmas and All Saints, it is easy for the God-less people to make such claims that we merely took what they considered sacred and refashioned it to suit our own misguided purposes.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have some thoughts of my own about why these pagan practices evolved in the first place and that is the innate longing of every soul for God.  In every season the soul longs to pay homage, to embrace the sacred, to distinguish certain days from others in an effort to acknowledge the Sacred Mysteries bestowed by God on His people.  Sadly for the ancient pagans, and sadder still for those of today,  that longing was misdirected in the worship and adoration of false idols and premises.  When some people heard the Word of God, either directly from  His Divine Son or through the writings and teachings handed down from the disciples,  they realized the emptiness of those pagan rituals and converted them for the legitimate religious purpose of glorifying God and commemorating the Gospel mysteries.

In the same way that our good works find their legitimacy and worth only when they are performed out of love for God, so it is with these so-called pagan traditions supposedly  "borrowed" by Christians.   There is a reason the Church, in her wisdom, celebrates Christmas in winter and Easter in the spring.  Although we were given the four seasons and nature by God to enjoy, the seasons by themselves do nothing to help us achieve union with God.  Simple man may look forward to seeing the dormition of winter end with the emergence of bulbs springing forth from the earth.  However, it is  our desire for Heaven reminds us that it is the emergence of Christ from the tomb and the implications that Mystery holds for all of us that is the kind of spring we should first and foremost embrace.

It's one thing to do or believe something because you don't know any better. But once you have  been enlightened and instructed otherwise, it is a grave sin to continue down a dangerous path that seeks to put false idols above The Holy Trinity, and an even more grave sin when you blaspheme that same Trinity.

Pray for such people, but don't let their blasphemy go unchallenged.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Et cum spiritu tuo!

Photo via Catholic Lifeguard
I have discovered a very good cure for my poor habit of  letting my mind wander sometimes during Mass. If I am not paying 100% absolute strict attention, I have a tendency to lapse into the old response.  The embarrassment of doing this is one way to snap my attention back where it belongs.   It's also a disgrace that I am sometimes so "automatic" in my responses that I'm not pausing to think of what I'm saying and whether or not what I'm saying is correct.

I have also found that when I'm sitting next to a Mass Tinkerer, it helps to read the responses directly from the new translation cards.

We don't have this problem at the TLM.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Priest Faithful to the Order of St. Augustine

Last night, the Memorial Mass for our dear Father Jim Galligan, OSA, was held in a packed church.  Father Michael DiGregorio, OSA,  the Assistant General for the Order of St. Augustine, was the celebrant and homilist.  Father explained how Father Galligan had, some years ago,  asked him to be the homilist at his funeral , but at the time of Father's death, circumstances required his presence in Rome and he was unable to fulfill his friend's request.  He summed this up to his late friend's ability to come up with wonderful ideas with not always a practical way to carry them out.

"When I last visited him a few weeks before he died, he reminded me again of his request and I told him if he did his part, it would happen, meaning he would have to appeal to a Higher Power."

Father's homily was a touching look back at the various stages of Father Galligan's ministry, from a busy parish priest and school principal who was constantly on the move to a pastor who sought to bring Christ to Cambodian refugees whose language he never learned ( "I speak the language of the heart, and that's all that matters" he said) to a contemplative living in a monastery in Nova Scotia.  In his final parish assignment in Philadelphia, Father continued to live the life of a contemplative and never left the church property, except for doctor's visits.  He began Eucharistic Adoration and daily confessions at St. Rita's and made himself available for spiritual direction and guidance to anyone who sought his help, at any time.

Father was an extraordinarily holy man.  He was a strong proponent of Adoration and Confession, calling them the two crutches he used to get through life.  I reminded him of this the last time I saw him, and in a voice he could barely muster the strength to emit, he said softly: "You'll need them to get you into Heaven."

He was very close to one of his parishioners and after Father retired from active ministry, his friend would often share stories about his priest friend with me.  For instance, one Christmas Day when the gentleman visited Father in his room, the priest beckoned him to join him for tea and toast.  "We're going to fast," he explained, "to offer reparation for all those who have forgotten that this day is about the Lord."

Father didn't just talk about Adoration and Confession. He walked the walk, too.  He could always be found in either the chapel or the confessional and though he didn't mince words or advice, his only interest was in bringing souls back into the fold.

I brought Rebecca with me last night and she recalled that there were two Fathers - at Rosary and Benediction, he was appropriately serious and reverent and afterward, he was smiling and kind and loved to embrace the children.  We remembered one little girl who was not more than 2 who called him "Fadder Jim" and how his heart would just melt when she greeted him.

The last few years as you know, I was a bit negligent in going out to visit Father, though I wrote to him.  I mistakenly believed that because he was so holy, he had no need of my friendship and because his time was so often in demand, I thought I was being helpful by not bothering him.  When I visited him a few weeks before he died, I saw how wrong I was.  I know that Father has forgiven me.  After receiving his blessing for the last time, I kissed the top of his head and departed, stopping once to glance back at him.  Even in his weakened state, he smiled at me and I knew everything was ok.

The following prayer by St. Augustine was read at the conclusion of the homily, and I agree that it sums up how Father gave his life to Jesus Christ through his ministry.  As the homilist said, though every stage of his ministry was markedly different from the last, Father was always open to God's will, always available to his people, even until the very end of his life.

Lord Jesus, Let Me Know Myself (Domine Iesu, Noverim me)
Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know Thee,
And desire nothing save only Thee.
Let me hate myself and love Thee.
Let me do everything for the sake of Thee.
Let me humble myself and exalt Thee.
Let me think of nothing except Thee.
Let me die to myself and live in Thee.
Let me accept whatever happens as from Thee.
Let me banish self and follow Thee,
And ever desire to follow Thee.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in Thee,
That I may deserve to be defended by Thee.
Let me fear for myself, let me fear Thee,
And let me be among those who are chosen by Thee.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in Thee.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of Thee.
Let me cling to nothing save only to Thee,
And let me be poor because of Thee.
Look upon me, that I may love Thee.
Call me that I may see Thee,
And for ever enjoy Thee. Amen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Now You've Done It"

That's what I told myself when I genuflected before entering my pew yesterday morning and heard an audible pop as something ripped in my left knee.  It can't be my ACL because there is no swelling.  What there is plenty of is pain if I take a wrong step. There's no way to know  if I've taken a wrong step until after I've taken one and an excruciating pain shoots through my knee.  When it's not painful, it's giving way and catching.  Probably a torn meniscus.   Kneeling has been a real challenge.

It's no fun getting old.

I Hope That Someday...

... a nearby parish will offer a weekday TLM

...I will react to the disrespectful act of talking out loud in church for the way it offends God, and not the way it disturbs me

...I will pray for people instead of speculating about them

...I will live long enough to see Planned Parenthood shutter its doors

...People will care as much about unborn babies as they do about shelter animals

...Aborting babies will be as offensive to people as wearing fur

...I will be permitted to see the fruits of my prayer

...I will accept every perceived hurt and insult as a gift directly from the hand of Jesus

...My prayers will win the gift of conversion for someone

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Love This Song and This Ad!

A Sad Memory Worth Sharing Today

A few years back, I had to have minor surgery.  I didn't have general anesthesia, just some very powerful pain medication coupled with Propofol, the drug that gained notoriety after its role in Michael Jackson's death. I had just been wheeled into the recovery room when I became aware of a patient sobbing in the cubby next to me.  The curtain was drawn but I could clearly hear her seemingly inconsolable sobs and the words of comfort that a nurse anesthetist was offering her.

I surmised from the conversation, which it was impossible not to hear, that the woman had just undergone an abortion.  And I surmised from her uncontrollable crying that she realized the enormity of what she'd done.

The anesthesia provided tried to reassure her.  She didn't tell her she did the right thing, nor did she tell her she did the wrong thing.  She simply told her that aside from herself and the doctor, no one else knew what had just transpired in the OR.

Even under the effects of the waning drugs, I thought to myself how wrong that was: God knew what she did, because He knows all things.  But the conversation was none of my business, even though it was impossible not to overhear.  In some small way, I think I was meant to hear it so that I could pray for the young woman.

She went on to explain that she had three kids and no means of support for them and that she felt that she did what was best for all of them.  But you could tell she didn't believe her own words.  I felt heartbroken for her and when I recall hearing her pain, I am still heartbroken.

So today, as we pray for the scourge of abortion to end, I ask you to keep this young woman in your prayers.  Pray that she appropriately sought God's forgiveness and by now, knows that His Mercy is infinite for those who seek it.

On a happier note, I was coming down the hall today and heard a familiar sound, that of a newborn baby wailing.  The baby sounded like she was  not more than a few days old. I have to say that if I was a few years younger, the sound may have induced let-down, a phenomenon that some of the women who read this blog will surely understand.

I just had to catch up to the grandmother who was carrying the little screamer as her daughter pushed the empty carriage so I could get a peek.

"It's been a long time since I've heard that sound," I said as I stopped to admire the baby.

"Me too," she said, beaming.  The mother looked like she was still in her teens.  They didn't look like they came from means, but here they were with this priceless little bundle, just four-days-old.  What a wonderful sight and sound on a day like today.

The Holy Family Captured in Art

As I have written often, I love the Mancini painting of the Holy Family at rest on the flight to Egypt.  While doing an internet search for more information on this masterpiece, I came across this website that I wanted to share with you.  It is a potpourri of beautiful art work depicting the Holy Family in various stages of their life together.  While the Mancini painting remains my favorite, particularly for its unique portrayal of St. Joseph, there are some other works I hadn't seen before that were worthy of further consideration. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Traditional Latin Mass on Candlemas at St. Paul's Philadelphia

The traditional end of the Christmas/Epiphany cycle occurs with the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady, also known as Candlemas, which falls on Thursday, February 2nd this year.  St. Paul Church in South Philadelphia will celebrate this great feast of the Church with a Procession, Sung Mass and Candlemas Observances at 7:00PM that evening.

Free parking is available in the schoolyard directly opposite from the church.  Please spread the word and do make every effort to come, bringing a friend or family member with you.

Something Sweet for Sunday

Thanks, But No Thanks

I copied and pasted the following  from another blog because the priest who authored the comment has articulated exactly how I feel about politics and voting in particular.  Although I have voted for a GOP candidate since 1988, I am feeling less and less certain that I will be voting at all in the upcoming presidential election.  This fear was cemented last night with Newt Gingrich's commanding win in South Carolina.   My comments continue after the following:
" please count me as one of those whose principles have, so far, prevented me from voting for a GOP candidate for President since 1988. I stand by that decision. To argue that I somehow have an obligation to support a candidate, because his opponent is worse, is deeply flawed. Anyone who argues that there is a grave obligation to vote for someone has a high burden of proof.
For that matter, I pointedly deny that I did a thing to elect President Obama. I can prove it. I live in Ohio. The outcome of Ohio’s vote for President did not depend on a single vote. And I am prepared to bet $100 (up to 20 takers) that this year, my vote will, once again, not tip the election.
Make no mistake: I vote; but I vote only for those candidates whom I deem worthy of my vote."
Needless to say, I am disappointed that Santorum didn't fare better and even more concerning is the fact that he sounded like he was auditioning for the role of  running mate last night, which means he realizes the improbability of being able to move forward.   There are two candidates in the field that nothing in this world could convince me to support, and they are Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
Romney blows with the wind and has no real stance on anything except that which he feels will help his chances of getting elected.  This is what is refreshing about Santorum,  with whom I do not agree on every single issue incidentally.  The reason he lost the Senate race in Pennsylvania to Bob Casey is because he would not abdicate his core beliefs for political expediency.  The same cannot be said for Romney.    Is he the first politician to blow with the political wind?  No, but it doesn't mean I have to vote for it.
Gingrich induces a visceral reaction in me that I cannot put aside.  Listening to him talk about food stamps last night did nothing to assuage that feeling.   It is not a Catholic value to want to see people go hungry, and if enough of us took care of our less fortunate brothers and sisters out of our own pockets, there would be no need for Access cards  (which, at least in this state, is what has replaced the food stamp so the stigma attached to public assistance would be removed).   There are many people who qualify for food stamps who do not seek help because of their pride and because of people like Gingrich, who thrive on wedge issues for their own political gain.
Sadly, most of us in this country have no idea how other people live.  We hear stereotypes and then we swear by them, not taking the time to investigate the truth for ourselves.   For some people, the image of a pimp in a feathered hat driving up to the grocery store in a new Cadillac to make his purchases with food stamps is still sadly alive.
 This is the toughest economy I've seen in my own lifetime.  The family my employees assisted at Christmas doesn't  want to be on public assistance, but what is a father of five children to do if he cannot find work because there are no jobs?  Until Catholic social services found housing for them, they were living out of their mini-van.     These were not people living beyond their means and there are countless others like them about whom the Romneys and the Gingriches could not care less.  They will do nothing to help them, but they'll use their circumstances to further their own political agendas which are built on fear and demagoguery. 
This country is in the economic mess that is it because of a few simple facts that I have yet to hear a politician admit.  The culpability for these problems lies with both parties, with the exception of the first which was not a political event but a national tragedy.
1.  The aftermath of September 11, 2001
2. The investment in two needless and costly wars immediately on the heels of 9/11
3.  The refusal to raise the revenue necessary to support these two needless and costly wars
4. Bad mortgages that people could not afford in the first place
5.  The bail-out of the corporate welfare queens on Wall Street

Don't hold your breath waiting for any of the candidates to admit this because if they point a finger about any of it, three fingers will be pointing back at them.  
On the same thread where I copied the priest's comments above,  another commenter observed that the Democrats and Republicans are two wings on the same bird:  a vulture.   
I couldn't agree more.