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.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dear Reverend Fathers: Please Say Something to the Mass Tinkerers

Tinkering is a past-time for children and men with time on their hands and should never be attempted by misguided women at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Who are the Mass Tinkerers, you ask?

They are those people, usually grey-haired women, who INSIST upon not only referring to God the FATHER in gender-neutral language but in absolutely drowning out everyone around them who try to say the words prescribed by the GIRM.

I have asked this question before:  What do those of you committed to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass do on weekdays?  Do you feel it's better to attend no Mass at all rather than one where people take liberties?

Our Lord is the same no matter what.  If the priest offering the Holy Sacrifice sticks to the book,  the Mass is valid, period.  But what do you do with people who make up their own words? 

I don't think the responses of the faithful during Mass are an appropriate place to pick a fight, but some days...

I can't believe for one minute that our orthodox priests are immune to hearing this abuse take place, so for the love of all that's good, please speak up!  The New Translation provides an excellent opportunity to address this nonsense by reminding people that we're not at liberty to make up what's not there.  Now that nearly every parish and chapel has prayer cards, it's the perfect time to remind those who wish to invent their own liturgy to stick to what's there or zip it!

Choice, Free Will, & The Line Drawn in the Sand

No one is forced to work for a Catholic hospital, or for any company or institution for that matter.  When you sign on to work at a Catholic hospital, you understand that you won't be asked to participate in abortion, so-called sex change surgeries or sterilization.  You accept that your benefits will  (or should) reflect Catholic values.   You accept that if you choose to be a patient at a Catholic hospital, you cannot seek these so-called "services" because they are in direct opposition to what the Catholic church believes when it comes to the sanctity of life and the preservation of morality.  It is made abundantly clear at orientation that health benefits do not cover immoral procedures and they are not extended to "same sex" couples.

There has been much on other blogs about the edict issued by the Obama Administration that the Church and other institutions have one year to figure out how to offer coverage for birth control and sterilization under their health insurance plans.   I honestly don't know if other religious denominations own and run hospitals. I do know that the Catholic hospital I work for not only provides health care to the indigent and marginalized but goes beyond that by helping with food, housing and other necessities of daily life.  If our hospital was forced to close, the impact on the surrounding community would be enormous and not just from the perspective of providing in-hospital charity care.

When I signed on to work where I do, I knew what it meant.  No one put a gun to my head and said "You'd better work here or else!"   It's a choice I made of my own free will.

What about other Catholic institutions?  They're not holding a gun to anyone's head either and saying "Work here or else!"  Those of us who choose to work for Catholic institutions know exactly what we're getting.  For me, the ability to work in an environment that provides health care in a manner consistent with  Catholic teaching was what persuaded me to drive 60 miles a day, take a significant pay cut and take on a whole new set of problems and people.

For years I worked for the same hospital.  I ran the operating room for a large orthopedic practice that was extremely busy.  I didn't pay much attention to what else went on around me because I was so engrossed in our own schedule.  But then I was told I was going to have to take on another service because our jobs were being restructured and this opened my eyes to the reality of what else was going on in this hospital.

One day, I went in to one of the surgical suites to talk to a staff member when I took note of the patient on the table.  What looked like a woman from the length, style and color of the hair was indisputably proven to be male by the genitalia that lay exposed, waiting to be draped.  When I looked at the schedule to see what procedure was about to take place, I saw that the patient was going to be voluntarily castrated, among other things, as part of the steps in their "sex-change".  It was enough to make me want to throw up.

As if this wasn't bad enough, the hospital had also made the decision to allow a late-term abortionist to begin practicing in our OR.  Even though I wasn't going to participate, I knew I  couldn't work there anymore.

I earned a lot of money at my job, was within walking distance of my house, and had excellent benefits.  I could take time off whenever I wanted,  got excellent performance evaluations and was well-liked and respected.   What I didn't have was peace of mind, fearing that I could be complicit in some way with the rampant immorality taking place under the pretense of "health care."

No one held a gun to my head and made me work there.  Three months after my job was restructured, I got out.  I don't make enough money now not to have to worry about the bills, and I don't enjoy driving on a dangerous highway every day to get to and from my job, but I felt I had to make a decision, not just one what would impact my present life but more importantly, one that could determine where I spent eternity.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops should remember one simple fact in their fight against the Obama Administration's agenda:  no one is forced to work for a Catholic institution.  It is an at-will arrangement.  Some of the benefits are intangible. We know what we're getting when we sign on.  It's what attracts many of us in the first place.

What right does this president or any other have to deprive me of those benefits by trying to force an immoral agenda on Catholic hospitals and schools, etc.?

And people wonder why the so-called religious right is "hijacking" politics?

Maybe it's because the government has hijacked religion and seems intent on trampling on our ability to exercise our freedom of conscience.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why Do You Send Me Lord?

Lord, why do I keep running in to the same situations, with the same kind of people who are unkind, calculating, spiteful and sometimes downright mean?  Why do I keep encountering the same personalities over and over?  Why do You never send me, as fragile as I am, among lambs?

Well, Lord, I know I have some nerve to complain.  A mission is a mission.  True, the people You sent me among do not look different from me or speak a foreign language.  Yet, they need You as much as the heathens and savages among whom You sent the greatest martyrs.  They do not torture with me with flogs or fire.  Instead, they use their words and unkind acts to inflict their barbs.

The mission You have given me is not as great, because I'm not as great, yet I know You want this work done.  I should be pleased that You want me to have a microscopic share of what You suffered on this miserable earth when You were rejected, scorned and reviled.   Knowing that should give me the strength to do as You ask, but alas, I am a coward.  I want the easy way out.  I want to be surrounded by nice people.  I want my work to be easy.  I am impatient and so easily forget how brief is this trial when compared to the joy of eternity.

So when I forget, please remind me, Lord, that in Your Infinite Wisdom, you place me among those most in need of Your Merciful Love.  Help me to remember that I am never alone and that You are always with me.

Not my will, but Yours be done.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Useful Pet Tricks Part I

So, Sunday morning as I'm getting ready for Mass, putting on make-up to be exact, Rebecca comes charging into the bathroom at the kind of speed that tells me throwing up is imminent.  Only, it's not Rebecca that has to put her face in the porcelain, it's the daschhund she's got in tow.  I watch in amazement as she lifts the lid and the seat and sets him on the floor. The  four-legged bugger stands up, puts his paws on the rim and heaves into the bowl.  Not a drop on the floor.

Occasionally, our little monster sleeps too late and wakes up nauseous because he's gone so long without eating.  Since he is very faithful to his Rebecca and is usually in her room when this happens,  she is the one apt to have to deal with the aftermath.  So, she got wise one day and figured out that if she hung him over the toilet when the dry heaves started, there'd be nothing to clean up.

Clever girl.  And WTMI, I know!

I Hope That Someday...

...I am as enthusiastic about thanking God for the crosses He sends as I am for the favors I receive

...I can pray an entire Rosary without a single thought about myself

...I can find the resolve to pray the Daily Office, the only real obstacle between me and the Secular Carmelites

...I can work up the nerve to tell people who insist on chatting in church that they are preventing others from praying

...My daughter will return to the Church and to the sacraments

...I can have the kind of job that permits me to spend an hour a day in Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament

...I will do a better job of glorifying God through my every thought, word and deed

...I will never have a serious sin to confess again

...I will think the best of people, always, until proven wrong

And on a lighter note, I hope that someday I will...

... be the person my dogs think I am

... bake the Italian rum cake my late mother-in-law used to make

...be able to say I visited Lourdes, Lisieux and Nevers

...get over my addiction to Pepsi

...resume distance running

...live to see the Dallas Cowboys win another Super Bowl

Monday, January 16, 2012

Miracles Happen for Non-Catholics, Too

Recently, medical miracles were the topic of a conference at my hospital.  People shared case studies of patients who made recoveries so miraculous they could not be attributed to science alone.  It got me to thinking about all the medical miracles I've seen in my own practice.  One especially comes to mind.

At a hospital where I worked long ago, I had to take care of a patient who was a Jehovah's Witness. She had a blood disorder which made her prone to bleeding more heavily than the average person.  She was undergoing major spine surgery which  could involve a heavy blood loss.  In fact, only the first part of the surgery could be completed because of the bleeding and the second part had to be postponed until the patient's condition was stable.

The surgeon who did the first part of the surgery was going to be out of the country, so another surgeon was going to have to do the posterior portion.  The patient's spine was unstable and the nurses were unable to get her out of bed, so it was important that the second part of the surgery take place as soon as possible.  The second surgeon did not have the compassion or the empathy of the first surgeon, and he bluntly told the patient that if she didn't consent to getting blood, he would not perform the surgery and, as an added charm, informed her it would probably result in her death.  While pneumonia was a very real threat, I didn't think it was necessary to speak so harshly to her.

The patient, against the wishes of her community, agreed to a transfusion but only as a last resort.  On the morning of her surgery, I had to interview her and make sure her consent and paperwork were in order.  I noticed she was teary-eyed and when I asked her what was wrong, she said her mother was going to disown her if she accepted a blood transfusion, and that she was going to die if she didn't because the doctor refused to do her surgery otherwise.  The nurse I was paired with that day called me aside, telling me she had a bad feeling about the case and felt we shouldn't do it.

The patient continued to talk about how her mother was going to disown her.   Not knowing what else to do, I called the representative from the bloodless care program and asked him if he could speak to the mother.  He was very nice and came right away.  Meanwhile, the surgeon was steaming because we were holding him up as we tried to resolve the situation.  The representative came to me and told me that the mother understood that her daughter could die if she needed blood and refused and that she had no intention of disowning her daughter, whom she loved very much.  I asked him if he could bring the mother to pre-op to talk to her daughter and he was happy to oblige.

We brought the mother to her adult daughter's side and I listened as her mother assured her that she was free to do what had to be done, and that it would not change anything if she had to accept blood.  There were a lot of tears, probably none so much as from the nurse I was working with that day!

Once again, we left it that the patient would get blood if necessary and only if her life truly depended on it.  Before we went back to the OR, I prayed in earnest to St. Therese to intercede on behalf of this poor woman who was so sick and so consumed with doing the right thing by her faith and her mother.  My partner in the OR was still insistent we shouldn't go ahead with the surgery, that all of this was an "omen."

"I don't believe in omens", I told her.  I continued to pray silently to St. Therese.  I'm sure you can guess the outcome of this surgery.

Not only did the patient not need blood, but she hardly bled at all.  The loss of blood was so minimal as to be nearly immeasurable and there wasn't a person involved in the case who wasn't astounded, except me.

I understood that nothing is impossible with God, even when it comes to non-Catholics.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Mid-Winter's Sunday at Home

My parents are getting up there in years and I always have some guilt on these Sundays when we decide to have dinner at home.  They are always welcome to have dinner here but they always say no, and it's just not possible to go to their house every single Sunday, so here we are.  The house smells almost heavenly with the scent of my Italian meatloaf baking in the oven.  We'll start off with a little rigatoni marinara, followed by the meatloaf, and finish off with a salad dressed with the last of the olive oil from Assisi.   My husband picked up a cheesecake for dessert.

A few weeks from now, we're having a little reception after Mass so our TLM community can have an opportunity to share some food and some company.  I was amused that my pastor asked my daughter if she thought I would be contributing any food.  As if I wouldn't!   What he didn't know is that the gracious woman who coordinates these quarterly events had already contacted me to ask me if I could help.  A tray of sandwiches and a dessert are something easy enough for me to put together.

I like to give the TLM crowd a little taste of Italy or at least of South Philly when we have these gatherings. Many of our regulars are not from the immediate area and I think it must be tantalizing to travel to the Italian Market area every Sunday without ever getting to sample its wares, so it's my little treat.  For our last one, I made Italian hoagies which are, for the uninitiated, sandwiches made of prosciutto, salami, provolone, mortadella and other cold cuts on a roll dressed with oil, oregano, lettuce, tomato and onions.    For our next get-together, I'm thinking chicken cutlet sandwiches with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe.

The tree is no longer with us, but the Christmas lights on our banister and on the lilac bush in the backyard are, as is the Nativity.  The Wise Men have made their appearance and the entire ensemble will be left up until just after the Feast of the Presentation on February 2nd.

We had a visiting pastor at the TLM today.  He gave a thought-provoking homily on the miracle at the wedding at Cana.  The water had no choice but to be transformed by Christ.  By the free will with which we were endowed by God, we do have a choice about whether or not we will let Him transform us.

What will our answer be?

I hope I never forget that this is not a one-time proposition but a life-long process.

What If All The Protesters Went to Mass Every Week?

There are a lot of protests going on in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Ever since Archbishop Chaput announced which schools would be closing and/or merging,  there has been a flurry of activity on Facebook and elsewhere imploring alumni of these schools to band together, protest and even donate money toward the cause.

A letter writer to the Philadephia Inquirer posed a simple question, and I think it's one that begs to be asked:

How many of those protesting these closings can be bothered to go to Mass every Sunday?

Not just Christmas or Palm Sunday, but every Sunday?

Perhaps if those filling the streets had bothered to make more of an effort to fill the pews, they wouldn't be facing the agony of losing their schools.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The World Loses Another Long-standing Faithful Priest

Father Anselm Martin, OFM Cap, was a long-time fixture at St. John the Evangelist in Center City Philadelphia. On January 1st, his 93rd birthday, he entered the hospital, where he was soon called  home by the Lord on January 11th.  Father Anselm continued to celebrate Mass and hear confessions until his health declined this past year.  He was a gentle, holy presence for whom we gave thanks to God for his long and faithful ministry.   This is  the link to the obituary released by his order.

May he rest in peace.

The Feast of the WHAT??

Oh, the traditions that have fallen by the wayside.  Can't even blame the loss of this one on Vatican II.  Go over to Southern Friend Catholicism and see what we've been missing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Catholic Tebowing

From The PulpIt, via Father Z.  I love it!

If Only We Had This Kind of Sympathy for Babies

This heart-breaker of an ad has been running during the evening news.  It tugs at my heartstrings, which of course is its purpose.  The Shelter Pet Project wants you to think twice before buying or breeding and instead, adopt a homeless animal.  I think that's an admirable thing.   Still, it saddens me that we seem to think more of shelter animals than we do of human babies.  If the pro-life movement could come up with an ad like this, I wonder what impact it might have?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Priests and Social Media

I find this so amusing - my first invitation to "friend" someone on Facebook came from a priest.  I didn't even have a Facebook account at the time and months later when I finally caught up with the rest of the world, Father was the only friend I had - at least until other requests came along.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email last week from a well-known priest blogger inviting me to follow him on Linkedin.  I didn't have a Linkedin account either, but I couldn't very well let Father down , could I?  I have an account now and what I'm supposed to do with it other than just let it be, I'm not quite sure.

I wonder if my priest "friends" will return the favor by clicking the Follow button on my blog? 

Incidentally, if you are new to the blog and have been kind enough to join me as a follower, please let me know and I'll be sure to return the favor.  If you have linked to my blog and I haven't returned the favor, please let me know and I'll rectify that right away.

As a rule, I only link to blogs that are authentically Catholic. 

Intercession: A Work of Love from Vultus Christi

A must read for everyone, not just for priests, who have ever struggled with prayer or wondered if they were heard. Thank you Father Mark.

Intercession: A Work of Love

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Love the Smell of Cantica in the Morning

Or any other time of day, for that matter.  I saw a post on Father Z's blog about incense and an interesting discussion arose about the proper way to swing the thurible and keep the coals stoked.

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to incense.  My beloved Father Jim used to fill the censer with some blue crystaloid stuff that looked and smelled like Vicks Vapor Rub.  He really liked to pour it on thick.  I shouldn't laugh about this, but I can't help it.  There were a few occasions when he caused the smoke detectors to go off.  He would chastise us to "keep going" and then he'd scurry into the sacristy to try to figure out how to switch the alarms off.  I bought him some Svir incense from Holy Cross Monastery  that I had  lying around the house. (Who has incense lying around the house?  I do, always!)  He thanked me and started using it and that was the end of the smoke detectors going off.

The very first time I ever visited the Carmelite Monastery, they were burning Cantica incense from St. Joseph's Monastery in Massachusetts.  It took some doing for me to find out what the name of the stuff was.  Then I discovered that my pastor also preferred using Cantica because it's what they had used in the seminary.  I contacted St. Joseph's to try to order some and I was bluntly informed that they stopped making it, they didn't have any to sell me, thank you very much goodbye!

To my great delight, Monastery Greetings started selling Cantica and Laudate not too long ago. I find it difficult to believe that the monks suddenly decided to start making it again and I wonder if they didn't work out an agreement with Monastery Greetings to have the company make it and sell it for them.  Whatever the case may be, I not only love the scent but it's one of the few kinds of incense that doesn't provoke laryngospasm in half the congregation!  My present pastor doesn't love it the way that I do, but he still uses it along with some other very fine incense from a nearby orthodox religious gift shop.

I am rarely in this house by myself anymore, but when I am, I don't want to watch so-called "chick" movies or have "the girls" over for coffee or anything like that.  Nope, my idea of an evening to myself is to fire up the censer and listen to chant or pray.  I tried using the censer a few times when Mr. Little Way was around, but that doesn't go over very well with him.   The kids could always tell too, when I  "lit one up".  One of their friends remarked one day that our house smelled like church. I feigned shock, saying "I don't know what you're talking about."

All joking aside, the use of quality incense at Mass is a beautiful way to remind us that we are in God's Holy Presence.  Like the organ and the schola, it is an essential part of our worship that is too often cast aside.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Staying the Course

Some days, it is harder than others to remain focused while in prayer.  There are times when I catch my mind wandering during the Rosary that make me stop and think that this isn't exactly what Mary had in mind when she asked us to devoutly pray daily her Rosary.

Things are not going well at work, and I don't mean for me personally but for our management team as a whole. Some necessary changes took effect today and the place was swarming with anger like a bee hive that had just been poked with a stick.  While I know this too, shall pass, it took an enormous effort to get up this morning and face the angry troops.  I was so weary I half considered missing morning Mass, but when you have to deal with the kind of stress that I do, the worst thing would be to succumb to fatigue and make excuses.

When I am tried in this manner, finding it nearly impossible to find the strength to face the enemy, I always picture little St. Therese, laying her crucifix on her pillow while she dressed and encouraging Jesus to rest and allow her to fight for Him that day.

Once you make the initial effort to get yourself upright, Jesus does the rest.

At times like these, I think that Jesus and Mary will not judge the "quality" of the prayer I offer but the sacrifice made in trying to pray them, such as getting up when I would rather sleep another half hour or reciting the Rosary when I am in the mood to have music blaring from the speakers.  At Mass, it was very hard to focus on the Holy Sacrifice, but some benefit is better than none, and given my faithfulness in other matters, I believe with all my heart that Jesus will overlook these moments of human weakness and look with favor on my offering to Him, no matter how seemingly small.

Some day, if we are deemed worthy by God, we will be shown the value of all that we offered Him and we may be amazed at the difference some small sacrifice we were ready to abandon made to a  poor soul, including our own.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Broncos Beat the Steelers and Tebow Silences His Critics

Photo courtesy of TheBlaze.com

He is the same whether he wins or loses.  It drives the God-less people crazy.  What a gift Tim Tebow is to a sport that is often devoid of anything good and decent.  Funny how this sight offends some people, but half-dressed cheerleaders and dirty dancing in the end zone do not.  When I see this young man, I see hope.

Five Things I'd Do To Clean Up The Political Process in America

This is what would happen if I ruled the world, or at least the United States of America.

1. Term Limits
An idea whose time has come. I've heard arguments against term limits for fear that it will increase the control lobbyists have over the Congress but we'll never know if we don't try.  It's high time the career politicians that think they have squatting rights in Washington discover what it's like to try to live in the real world.

2.  BYOB
Bring Your Own Benefits!
I find it nothing short of hypocritical that those who are most vocal about  government-funded health care are themselves feeding at the trough.  Time to put your money where your mouth is.  Get off the teat and live according to the same standards as the people you represent.

3.  No Government Pension for Congress
It is a privilege to serve, not a right.  And anyone who tries to tell me that being a member of Congress is a real job would have better luck trying to sell me that bridge to nowhere.  Come do my job for a day and then we'll talk.

4.  Make Prior Military Service a Condition of Running for Office
And then let's see how many more Iraq wars we have.

5.  No Political Endorsements While In Office
Members of the military are not permitted to make official endorsements or appearances in uniform on behalf of any candidate.  The same should apply to Congress.  Your job is to represent the people of your district, not help your cronies get elected.

Sigh.  I can dream, can't I?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meditation for First Saturday: Love of the Mother and Son for Us

This meditation is not my own.  It was the sermon given at Mass today on the Gospel of St. John, where Jesus performs His first public miracle at Cana.  It is retold in my words because as I said, the synapses are not all firing today and even if they were, I couldn't possibly remember it verbatim.

So how did the mother know what the Son could do?  How did she know He could come to the rescue of the embarrassed hosts of the feast?  Perhaps a better question would be to ask:  If Mary knew, why did she never ask Jesus to turn the water on her own table to wine, to double the loaves of bread in her oven, to increase the coins in her purse?  If you knew that your child had miraculous abilities, wouldn't you be tempted to ask him or her to do you some great favor, such as double the money you had in your bank account? This thought never crossed Mary's mind.  Why?  Because the great lesson of this Gospel isn't just that Our Lord was the Son of God, and that we should listen to Him.  What we see here for ourselves is a Mother who loves us so much, she never asks anything for herself but always, for us.  She asked for the humiliated hosts.  She asks for us when we come to her in our sinful and sorrowful states.  She asks for us when we are without all other hope.  She asks on our behalf no matter how far we have fallen into sin, despair and faithlessness.  This is perhaps the greatest message of this Gospel.

Many Thanks

Our dear and gentle friend Kathy at Moving on to the Past has chosen five of her favorite blogs for a Liebster Award, which is designated for those blogs with 200 or less followers.   I, in turn, award a Liebster to her blog where she shares with her readers her daily activities of homesteading at its finest.  Don't read this blog when you're hungry.  Kathy and her husband Bob are always turning out something delicious from their own-grown bounty.  My kind of next-door neighbors.

Since the intention of the award is try to bring notice to up and coming bloggers, I have limited my other four choices to those I know have fewer than 200 followers.  They are:

Caroline at the Bell of the Wanderer, a brave and gentle presence who gives witness to Christ in all things.

Patricia at I Want to See God, whose love for Our Lord spills over into some of the most beautiful prose and prayer you might find on the blogosphere.

Daniel at Through Vocation for the glimpses he shares with us of life in the seminary and for the opportunity for all of us to pray and connect with a priest in the making.

Theresa at Carmelitemom for her honest, moving and beautiful accounts of simple every day life dedicated to God in the Carmelite tradition.

One of the things I dislike about awards is that it's not possible to recognize all my favorites, so again, I limited this to those I know have 200 or few followers and to those who blog on a regular basis.    I had my druthers, I'd have included Linen on the Hedgerow even though I think Richard's following is quickly going to surpass Father Z.  Our favorite Mom for Life, Kelly, was one of my very first followers and a dear friend both on the blogosphere and in "real life".  Terry Nelson was the first major blogger to link to The Little Way.  I still have a hard time knowing when he's joking and when he's serious, but so long as Terry knows the difference, it's all good.  There are so many others and please forgive me for not having the synapses firing adequately to remember you all.

Thank you dear friends and God bless us all.

Hide the Felines, Linen on the Hedgerow is at it Again!

Cat-lovers who are easily offended  -  beware!  I haven't encountered anyone on the Catholic blogosphere with more wit than our friend Richard who authors Linen on the Hedgerow.   Of course, we poke in jest, but we know that liturgical "dancing" and other abuses that are permitted to take place during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are no joke in and of themselves!

BTW, I can assure you that though my friend Mr. Collins is not fond of cats,( a quality I share with him, BTW) no felines were harmed in the production of this photo.  But why take any chances?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

I picked these up from the parish bulletin of the church where I go to Adoration on Friday evenings.  I've had a horrid week at work and there is nothing like a little levity to lighten the load.

1. Dear God, I am HARDLY sorry

2. Dear God, I am heartily sorry for having TO OFFEND YOU

3. Our Father, Who art in Heaven, HAROLD be thy name

4. Dear God, when my mom makes leftovers, do I have to pray for the food again?.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rosaries for Rick!

Anthony at A Tiny Son of Mary has issued an appeal for people to offer at least one Rosary for Rick Santorum, a Catholic candidate for the Republican nomination who has come under fierce attack for his strong adherence to Catholic principles, especially those that protect life.

True confession time:  I was never too fond of Santorum when he was our senator, until I became aware of the ordeal he and his wife Karen endured to try to bring their son Gabriel into the world.  I don't agree with him on torture or immigration, and I wasn't too happy when I heard him say he'd like to raise the minimum age for Social Security, but I most certainly agree with him and admire his courage for his commitment to life and other moral issues.  The fact that he takes the wife and seven kids to a Latin Mass every Sunday doesn't hurt either (we're still not sure if it's a Novus Ordo or Mass in the Extraordinary Form, but it doesn't matter to me).

I have to say that some time ago, I would not have thought he had a prayer.  While it's still early, I am feeling rather more hopeful, that perhaps someone who is reasonable and articulate and unafraid can not only bring attention to these issues but also encourage the American public to face facts:  Abortion is murder and homosexuality is our Sodom and Gomorrah.  And that is the truth, whichever way people try to spin it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different

My sister sent me the link to this video of an exquisite dressage horse performing at the 2006 World Equestrian Games.  If you've never seen a horse moonwalk, here is your chance.  Don't mind the hokey music.   Still don't know how anyone can look at a horse and insist there is no God.

Hypochondria Strikes Again

Last night I was awakened by a noise, and when I realized what the sound was, I found it even more difficult than usual to go back to sleep.  What woke me up was the sound of my right hand,  shaking so badly that as it rustled against the sheet,  it made enough noise to cause me to awaken.  I have been having difficulty of late steadying my hand so I guess this little episode was truly a wake-up call telling me it's time to see a doctor.

Now, every nurse I know, myself included, is given to bouts of hypochondria, and truth be told, we really can't help it.  Same for many physicians.  We are so bombarded with information about every ailment known to man that it's inevitable - at some point, we will convince ourselves we have any number of diseases including cancer.  We Google our symptoms and then we let our imagination run wild.   Either the "symptoms" disappear, or we actually seek medical advice and are assured "it" is nothing serious.  Time goes by and the next ailment comes along.

When I did a search of Parkinson's, I discovered that coughing and choking are common symptoms of the disease.  Did I mention I have been given to bouts of choking and coughing for nearly a month now?  Meal-time has been a real joy for the family of late. So far, no need for the Heimlich.

I keep thinking of Elaine in the Seinfeld episode where she convinces herself she has rabies.

Parkinson's disease is not something I find funny.  My mother-in-law had it and a friend also has it.  

What I do find funny is how easily I can let my imagination run away with itself.  Like another celluloid hypo.

(This post is in no way meant to make fun of those who are seriously ill, or to minimize the seriousness of these conditions.  It's meant to poke fun at ME)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

If You Like to Check Your Traffic Sources, Be Careful

I got fooled into clicking onto a referring website today and the result was an explosion of pornographic images I could not click away fast enough. The devil will use any trick to launch an assault and this was a particularly vile one.  Normally, I will just ignore suspect sites, but this one seemed harmless enough.  Not so at all.  Fool me once...

A Parent's Heartbreak

A friend of mine called last week and asked if we could get together to talk.  I could tell by her voice something was up.  We met, and I tried to gauge by her appearance what the reason was for the request.  After some small talk, she asked me how my Christmas was.  I told her it was low-key and quiet and I then I asked how hers was.  That's all that was needed to open the floodgates.

My friend is not Catholic, but she is a very faithful Christian who tries to abide by God's will in every facet of her life.  And it is knowing what God asks of us that has her distraught about the child who came home for Christmas and told her what no parent in their right mind wants to hear:  Her child is attracted to a member of the same sex and would soon be moving in with their "partner".

"I cannot stop crying", she told me.  I did what I usually do with someone who is inconsolable, and that was to just allow her to vent.  When it seemed like she had cried herself out for the time being, I asked her what she told her child in response to this revolting announcement.

"I told X that I will always love them and part of my love means that I'm not OK with this.  It's not God's will and I can't pretend it is."

I don't know what she's going through, so I can only imagine the gamut of emotions.  There is the despair of knowing that your child is engaged in a lifestyle that could send them to Hell.  There is the grief as you mourn for the child you thought you had.  There is the guilt, that somehow, something you did caused this.  There is the doubt, that you didn't do everything possible to steer the child in the right direction.

Hopefully, the realization will come that nothing my friend did contributed in any way to her child's choice.

There was another reason she wanted to talk to me specifically.  She knows I'm Catholic, and a few years ago, her child converted to our faith.  She wanted to know how a faithful Catholic could possibly reconcile their beliefs with the notion that there is no harm in homosexuality.  I wanted to tell my friend that no priest worth his salt would ever tell someone it was OK to be gay, but I know better. I know there are churches where priests look the other way when it comes to homosexuals.  I know there are churches where code words like "inclusion" and "diversity" signal that no one will be denied Holy Communion,  whether they're in a state of grace or not.  So the best I could tell her was that hopefully, her child belongs to an orthodox parish with a priest unafraid to speak of the evils of immorality. I suggested that she ask her child if they had spoken to a priest about their orientation.  It might backfire if the priest chosen isn't orthodox, but it might not. If her child is as devout a Catholic as they say they are, there's a chance the priest they encounter will be orthodox and courageous enough to steer them in the right direction.

My friend also agreed that she needs to talk to someone, but she was emphatic that it had to be a Christian counselor and not some humanist-type who would try to delude her into thinking there's nothing wrong with two people of the same sex lying down together like man and wife.

I assured my friend of my prayers.  I ask you to kindly remember this family as well, for as we heard the angel Gabriel tell Mary,  nothing will be impossible for God.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fed Up And Not Going To Take It Anymore

We're all home today because the New Year holiday fell on a Sunday this year.  I had a few Mass options:  Get up early and go to my own parish, get up a little later and go to the parish where I used to attend weekday Mass, or get up even a little later and do some things around the house and then go to Noon Mass.  I opted for Noon Mass.  I had some items on the agenda with the kids for this afternoon, so the question was now did I want to walk into town again or did I just want to go down the street and take my chances?

I have pretty much decided I don't want to take my chances anymore.  There is another neighborhood church that offers Noon Mass and the priests are on the up and up so that's what I decided to do. It was wonderful.  The faithful kept the sacred silence before and after Mass and the priest stuck to the black and the red.   I can still go down the street for Adoration and sometimes for confession, depending on what priest is assigned to the box.  But I don't have to subject myself to a near occasion of sin by lazy, sloppy and sometimes just downright disobedient priests.

Yesterday, my husband kept his word and came to the TLM with us.  He loved it.  I told him that if our pastor is reassigned and God forbid we get someone who is liturgically incorrect, I will be strongly tempted to visit a nearby SSPX church on a regular basis.  He laughed, except I'm not kidding.  I may not fit the definition of a traddie and I may not always use the right terminology or be "in the know" but I am less and less tolerant of the shenanigans that are passed off on the unsuspecting and unknowing as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In the meantime, let us continue to pray for priests who try to do the right thing in the face of criticism and opposition as well as for seminarians in formation.

On a related topic, I saw this on Father MacDonald's blog Southern Orders  and I thought it was worth a read.  I'm sure Father will appreciate the spike in his stats.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Liturgical Dance At Its Worst

Around these parts, New Year's Day means one thing: The Mummers Parade.  The parade has evolved through the ages, kind of like the Novus Ordo.  At one time women were banned, now they're not.  What's not banned but should be are the antics that take place at the annual Mummers Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.   I think it's a good thing that the parade strutters, many of whom come from a long line of proud tradition, should want a blessing, but why does it have to take place in this manner, at Holy Mass, complete with parasols and the faithful doing the Mummers' Strut down the aisle?    Why not leave Mass and do the revelry outside?  

Observe the "dancer" at the front of the church behind the priests.  I'd be in need of confession if I had personally witnessed this.

You'll never, ever, ever see this kind of abuse at the Traditional Latin Mass.

Christmas Part Two

Still waiting on TLM photos from Christmas Day.  In the meantime, here are some from my girls' adventures in NYC on the day after Christmas.  I was supposed to join  them, but I was still reeling from whatever illness hit me on Christmas Eve, so Caitlin was kind enough to take Rebecca for me and ensure that she had a good time.  They took the Chinatown bus to get there but were unable to take it home due to the chaos that ensued when more people than the bus could accommodate sought to board it, so they hopped on the train to Trenton and picked up the connection there to Center City.

First up are some photos of the magnificent Nativity outside the Church of St. Anthony of Padua.  I hope they leave it up til the Feast of the Presentation.

Notice St. Francis of Assisi in the background

You can an idea how expansive the scene is

The lowly shepherds come to pay homage to the Newborn King

The Magi en route, bearing gifts
Rebecca told me that when they got to St. Anthony's, it was 6 PM and the Angelus bell was ringing.  She recorded the sound on her cell phone and it was magnificent.  Next is another Nativity, this time from the Church of the Most Precious Blood.

Another beautiful Creche by more Franciscan Fathers.

Seems like the friars here really get into the Christmas spirit

Here is a gratuitous photo of my girls.  One is a pious little girl and the other is a heathen but she has a good
heart which we will pray will ignite with love for God through the practice of the faith handed to her.

My girls on the Chinatown bus

The Great Mystery That Brought Salvation

Every time I look at a Nativity, I cannot wrap my mind around the great mystery of an all-powerful God sending His Son to be born of a woman.  Once, I got into a debate with an avowed atheist, and I started asking him if he'd ever heard anything about Mary and the apparitions and messages from Fatima.

"Mary who?" he asked me

"Mary, the Mother of God!" I said, in exasperation,  What other Mary is there, I thought.

I'll never forget his voice, dripping with sarcasm: " You mean God has a mother?"

I wanted to say yes, you idiot, she is the mother of Jesus Christ, the second Person in the Trinity.  He at least promised me he'd read up about it, but when I later asked him if he had, he hadn't.  I still keep this person in my prayers.

Is it a lot to accept?  I don't think it is. But  is so against our  nature, which often seeks our own comfort,   this all-powerful Creator lowering Himself to earth, that I think it's a mystery that  could only come from a Benevolent Supreme Being.  The overwhelming generosity and love is what I cannot wrap my mind around.

The second part that baffles me, but that I whole-heartedly accept, is that a young virgin, meek, humble and trusting, would bear the Son of God and remain throughout her life to be completely without ego.  What's more, that this Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, could only become human by being born of a woman.  When I look at Mary's "enraptured gaze" as she contemplates the Christ Child she just brought forth, I think of the great mystery of Jesus having to take His Flesh from her.  I think of this also when I contemplate an image of the Sorrowful Mother holding the battered and lifeless Body of her Son.

What other faith is centered on so great a love and the lowly handmaid who brought it to fruition by her fiat?