Sunday, February 24, 2013

How Well Do WE Know the Shepherd?

Yesterday I went to my customary Lenten retreat at the Carmelite Monastery.  Something the priest said made me think about the polling that took place on someone else's blog this week asking what the minimum education requirement for papal candidates should be.  The retreat-master recounted the time a famous orator stood up and recited the 23rd Psalm before the congregation. In his best orator's voice, he dramatically recited the psalm. He finished and then  pointed to a lowly-looking old man and told him he was next.  The old man got up and haltingly recited the psalm as well.  When he concluded, the orator stood up and told the congregation: "I know the psalm, but is is obvious this man knows the Shepherd."

It is love for the Shepherd that enables us to do what might seem impossible at first.  That same love, which saints like Therese perfected, is what makes it possible for us to endure suffering and trial without seeming to notice the pain.  It is that love which makes humiliation and mortification appear as gifts from God's own hand.

It seems to me our Church is filled with too many people who are so busy trying to make something of themselves that they have forgotten the Master.  They have neglected to make their lives an offering worthy of putting before the altar.  I had a revelation the other day about why some people don't care for the Traditional Latin Mass or even a properly celebrated Novus Ordo.  It is because there is no opportunity  for an individual to single themselves out.  Isn't that why there is so much discord with this faction or that?  In the haste to make ourselves more important than we really are, we have forgotten about the Lord.

Those same self-important people are now falling down over themselves trying to point out the "qualities" they want to see in the next pope.  They are salivating at the possibility of seeing a pope elected who will permit women's ordination, among other things.  They talk about "representation" as though the Church is a government where the majority is permitted to rule.  They insist on having a "voice".  They don't understand the meaning of absolute truths.  They are intent on having a church which reflects society rather than one which resembles its Spouse.

This is folly, the great cost of which will be souls "falling into Hell like snowflakes", as St Teresa of Avila was permitted to see.

We must pray for all we're worth that they don't succeed.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spiritual Riches

I'm quite sure my readers are sick of hearing me complain that I can no longer get to early-morning Mass before work, but at least during Lent, I have somewhat of a reprieve.  A nearby parish,  staffed by some very humble and generous Augustinian priests offers evening Mass during Lent Monday thru Thursday.  I break my neck to get home, get dinner for the family, and bolt out the door.  Evening prayer precedes and then a simple Mass with brief homily takes place afterward.

Mass takes place in the lower church, which resembles so many "fixed basements" that we so often see in South Philly row-homes.  Minimal furnishings but still comfortably and suitably appointed.  No frills, to say the least.

Last night, after nearly giving myself a coronary to walk against the howling wind to rush there, I hurried to my usual pew and genuflected without looking up.  When I knelt down at my pew, I looked up and realized the Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament had been placed upon the altar.  The priest was starting the Rosary and then the Litany of St Gianna Molla was distributed to be prayed following Mass.  Apparently, the parish has a pro-life group that meets one evening a month for Adoration, Rosary and Mass, followed by confessions.  Talk about good fortune!

Tonight, after nearly giving myself a double coronary to get there in time, I was again pleasantly surprised, this time to learn that on Thursday evenings, a novena to St Nicholas of Tolentine is prayed immediately following the Mass for the intention of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

My prayer life has been turned upside down a bit, at least during the week, because the routine that was mine for the past five years or so is no more, at least for now.  Rather than continue to beat myself up and complain unceasingly over something beyond my control, I've simply decided to make the most of everything I can do, which quite frankly, should have already been my approach.  This means taking on menial tasks at work that are not my responsibility but provide an opportunity to practice humility and some measure of mortification.  I try to regard the snoring that takes place next to me every night as music from Heaven.  I must confess to having failed miserably thus far but there is ample time to keep trying.  I try to exert great effort to demonstrate patience with people at work who, through no fault of theirs, possess habits that drive a curmudgeon like me to distraction.

Earlier this week, I received a call, quite out of the blue, that I have been identified as a potential match as a bone marrow donor for a young man who is battling leukemia and is about the same age as my oldest daughter. I nearly forgot that about 20 years ago, I took part in a drive to try to find a match for a young woman in my neighborhood who was deathly ill and needed a transplant.  Sadly, she died before a match was found.  I got a letter once, about 10 years ago, telling me I might be a potential match for someone else  but then a closer match was found and I was off the hook.  This time, it seems like more of a possibility I could be the one who is the closest match.  I've already submitted to a lengthy interview and other paperwork and have consented to further testing.  My concern is that if this comes to fruition, it might happen around the time of my daughter's wedding.  I did ask that if this works out, we could do everything possible to avoid having this coincide with the wedding.

There are two methods for donation. One takes place under anesthesia and the other doesn't and involves daily injections for four days that have some unpleasant side effects, followed by a 4-6 hour process called plasma phoresis.  Part of me is hoping that if donation does happen, it happens during Lent.  I know it's selfish on my part, but how many opportunities do any of us get to do something to directly give life to someone else who is not part of our family?  What joy to be able to offer a little bit of suffering to give someone a new lease on life!

Of course, after all of this, I might not be a match at all.  As God wills.

Can I ask that in your charity, we pray for this young man, whoever and wherever he is, that God may see fit to provide the cure he needs?  If you're part of our on-line Rosary community, please offer this as one of your intentions.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Christ is at the Door

Do you get the Magnifcat?  If so, please read the reflection on the Gospel.  If you don't, here is what you're missing.  Today's reflection was given by Servant of God Catherine deHueck Doherty, Foundress of Madonna's House.  Sorry if it's full of my usual typos.

"When I was growing up in Russia, my father was a diplomat.   One time he and my mother gave a big,fancy tea party at our home for several hundred ambassadors and dignitaries.  We were in the middle of having a formal tea,with everyone using nice china and so forth.  I was about nine years old and carrying little cakes and being polite.  Suddenly, the butler opened the door and announced to my father, 'Christ is at the door.'  Well, the French ambassador's wife dropped her expensive tea cup on the rug.  She was not used to such interruptions! Father excused himself, mother excused herself and off they went.   And whom did they welcome?  A hobo who had come to the door begging.   And what did they do?  My mother and father served him themselves, even though we had fourteen servants in the house.  My mother laid out the best linen, the most expensive silver and the best china and so forth, and she served a hobo.  My father did likewise.  I saw all of this and I wanted to serve the hobo too, but Mother said, 'Oh no.  You were not obedient this week; you cannot serve Christ unless you are obedient."  So in my little mind, to serve the poor was a great honor and a great joy.

Now that's Christianity.  You don't have to have catechism lessons when you see that sort of thing.  That was how my parents treated the poor, so that was what my brother and I learned from growing up in that kind of a household, thanks be to God.

Of course, I was like any other kid too.  I would say, 'Well, do we live in a monastery or something like that?'  My parents would say, 'No.  We live in a family, of which Christ is the head.'  So, in the end, it all seemed quite natural to me to serve the poor.  Christ was in the poor and we must serve HIM."  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Second Appeal for Rosary Participants

As I posted last week, I would like to start an "on-line" Rosary group for anyone inclined to join us.  Only four people have asked to participate thus far, which means we have quite a few Gospel mysteries to dole out before we're set.  Thus who have volunteered thus far may go on praying their assigned decade, to be offered for the private intentions of our little group.

If you read this blog regularly, or only drop in occasionally or even by accident, please consider joining us, especially if you're looking to add a small but meaningful devotion for Lent.

Thank you and God bless you!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Method of Hearing Mass During Lent From St. Francis de Sales

From the blog Ars Orandi is a suggestion for hearing Mass during Lent.  These prayers are intended for use at the Extraordinary Form.  I'm not sure how you could use them at the Novus Ordo.  I am wondering if they are available in a book somewhere as it could be awkward trying to hold a photocopy and a Missal at the same time without a mishap, at least for me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Smoke and Ash

In the past, I have started Ash Wednesday with early morning Mass followed by Adoration, confession, more Adoration, Vespers, and  Mass again in the evening  (without receiving ashes or Holy Communion a second time).  I love the Gospel of St Matthew read on Ash Wednesday, and I love seeing the churches full of people and I pray every year that just one of those lapsed Catholics will have a spark ignited that returns them permanently to the faith.  However, circumstances did not permit me to be observe the day in the manner that I prefer.  The Lord had other plans for me.

I have been feeling sorry for myself of late especially because  there is a Catholic church less than a 1/4 mile from my place of employment, but it does not offer a 6:30 am Mass.  Every morning and evening when I drive by it, I make the sign of the cross and feebly extend my hand in the direction of the rose window, like a starving, weakened person might do when begging for a scrap of bread.

But I am a persistent begger, and short of cutting a hole in the roof of the church and having my friends lower me in, I refused to give up.  The afore-mentioned church does not post its bulletin online anymore.  Apparently, you have to have a log-on and password to view it.  But did that stop me?  No, I discovered that previous years' worth of bulletins were still accessible to schlubs like me.  I went back to the two prior years' Ash Wednesdays and saw that this parish offers a 6:30 am Mass with imposition of ashes.  As I sat in my pew yesterday morning before the Mass began, in that very church that to date had been closed to me, I felt a bit like the woman in the parable who hounded the judge until he gave her what she wanted.

I got to work exactly on time and the black cross smudge on my forehead announced to one and all that it was indeed Ash Wednesday.  While I work with many Catholics, only two of them knew what day it was.  None of them knew it was a day of abstinence.  One of them actually believed it was OK to eat meat, so long as you don't eat it on Good Friday.  Call it a shocking but valuable opportunity to do what was obviously missed when these folks were catechized.  I might have lived in disgrace for a good part of my life but the one thing I was blessed to have gotten was an excellent education in the faith by nuns in habits.

The previous evening I spent at a Mass celebrating the close of Forty Hours Devotion at a nearby parish not my own.  My heart literally ached for the priest, who put so much effort into his excellent sermon on Jesus as the Lamb of God to have not more than 25 people bother to show up.  At the conclusion of Mass and Benediction, he stood in the rear of the church to greet and thank those who came, telling us each we had our priorities in order.  After shaking my hand and exchanging pleasantries, Father shared his sorrow that so few of his parishioners made time to come to such a beautiful Mass.

"I've never seen it this bad." he said.  "The people... they just don't bother to come out anymore."

Lest you think I walked away feeling smug, please think again.  For close to 20 years, I was one of those Catholics who couldn't be bothered to show up.  Sure, I went to church.  I joined one catholic-lite house of worship after another in an endless search for that which had been right before me the whole time.  Far be it from me to judge anyone who'd rather sit home and watch whatever drivel appears on television on Tuesday evening rather than pay some small tribute to our Eucharistic King.

I couldn't help but think of how the destruction of the faith was not an external force but a destruction that came largely from within - the experiment gone horribly wrong known as Vatican II.  However well-intentioned its architects might have been, they did something worse than fooling with Mother Nature.  They messed with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and opened the door to abuse and heresy and yes, even sacrilege.  Does that mean I think the Novus Ordo is a sacrilege? I do not, but the nonsense that goes on at some Ordinary Form Masses would simply never happen at the Extraordinary Form because there is no opportunity for it.  First, you weaken the structure of the Mass, and the rest of the decay just happens, like dominoes.  Next, you have clown Masses, communion "services", heretical preaching and profanation of the Body of Christ.

Following that you have annulments for sale, laxity in the confessional (if its used at all), a wink and a nod for contraception and cohabitation, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Catholics for Choice.  Women's "ordination".

The smoke of Satan could not enter the Church without an open invitation.  For nearly the past 8 years we've had a shepherd who understands this all too well.  For faithful Catholics, he was a sanctuary lamp of hope.  His announcement on Monday, coincidentally or not followed some hours later by a lightening strike on the Vatican, was a blow to those of us who get it that Christ died to convert the world into Himself, not Himself into the world.

I don't know what Benedict XVI's resignation portends, if anything.  I am grateful for the time he spent in the shoes of the fisherman.  I can't blame the liberals or the SSPX or the Anglicans who wouldn't swim.  I can only blame myself, who couldn't be bothered to show up for nearly 20 years and did not do my part to reinforce the foundation.


You've done it again.  Your prayers have moved the Lord to show His incomparable mercy.  The mother contemplating abortion had additional testing and got a second opinion and was told there is almost no chance her unborn child has Downs Syndrome.     Thank you for your prayers but I must beg you again to pray, this time for a little girl not even two-years-old who is in need of a heart transplant.  Please pray that God might grace her with a miraculous cure and if this does not conform with His Holy Will, that He might intercede so that her life, valued so much by her parents and siblings, might be spared.  Her mother told me yesterday she was taking her to Mass to get her ashes for the very first time.  

Thank you and may God reward you richly for your generosity, if not in this life, in the Life to come.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blue Monday

I'm really tired and my late-onset dyslexia seems to be working full-throttle, so I can't promise you much of a post here, but here goes.

I turned on the television at 5:30 AM  to see what kind of commute I was in for and got the shock of my life: Pope Benedict XVI, a German shepherd if ever there was one, resigned.   Then I learned this evening that Roz (Shadowlands) apparently passed away in September.  Then I visited a blog I drop in on from time to time and learned that the author has been in a severe bout of depression, barely hanging on but for the Grace of Almighty God.

I have been approached nearly every single day by yet another person with an urgent prayer request, and there seems to be no let-up in sight of the trials and tribulations that shake our families and our faith.  Lord knows I have a few of my own and I thank all of you for your prayers and am always touched and honored when you ask me to pray for you.

In the meantime, we have first-graders being gunned down by the classroom-full, abortionists writing about the most effective way to keep those pesky babies from surviving a murder attempt, and weather unlike anything  I've ever seen in my lifetime tossing houses about like pieces on a Monopoly board.

What is going on?

It certainly feels as if the plates hidden deep beneath the world's surface have made a seismic shift.  However, that is not for me to speculate on, tempting as it may be.  I wish I had a dollar for every St Malachy prediction sent to me via email today.  Yet another person contacted me about an Irish visionary who claims to have revelations from Our Lord Himself that Pope Benedict XVI was not long for his papacy.

I have no control over any of this, nor any foresight.   All I know is that I am a sinful person who was incredibly blessed to have undergone a profound conversion and despite my attempts at holiness, I fail miserably on a daily basis.  I am also reminded that I am "dealing with the God of Mercy" and that "as often as (I) shall beg for it", God will be pleased to bestow His Mercy on me.

Every Saturday, I go to Mass and Adoration at the same place, and every week, I see the same gentleman in line for confession.   I thought I went to confession often but I don't go weekly as this fellow does.  I was just thinking the other day that if the sacrament is available to us, we should take advantage of it.  If nuns can find something to confess every week, surely I can.  If we knew that a certain fruit or vitamin would stave off cancer, we would indulge in it often, would we not?  So why the aversion to confession?  God already knows all, and the remote chance for less-than-smooth treatment from the priest is inconsequential, isn't it?

Every day in the Morning Offering I pray "Dear God, I do not know what will happen to me today, I only know that it will not have been unforeseen by You and will be directed toward my greater good for all eternity."

One way or another, the end comes for us all.  This brings me so much sadness when I think that some members of my own family may not be headed in the same direction that I pray I am.  I liken it to waking up in the middle of the night with the house on fire and having to watch one of my own children  left behind,  pounding on a window, pleading for help.   Once I'm on the other side of the divide, there will be little to nothing I can do.

Pray unceasingly.  And please remember to pray for the repose of the soul of  Roz.  I believe she suffered in ways unknown to most of us but I also believe she trusted completely in  Jesus.  May her soul and all the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

On a slightly lighter note, I picked this up over at Ars orandi.  You might find it interesting.

As for Pope Benedict, I don't believe he would have taken this step if he wasn't certain it was better for the Church that he did.  I am grateful that he was Pope at all and pray his replacement will be someone who will stay the course on which Benedict embarked.  Please God that it might be Cardinal Burke.

Whatever is in store for us Catholics, it won't be anywhere near as bad as what we deserve.  In the meantime, on the eve of the Feast of the Holy Face, think of Therese.

When St. Therese was in the throes of her worst agony, one of her sisters asked her what she did to pass the time at night.    "Mother, how I was tempted last night, but I made acts of faith and looked at the Holy Face the whole time. "   During her long days of confinement to her bed, Therese passed the hours by adoring the Holy Face and wiping the image she loved so much with rose petals, "in imitation of Veronica".

What treatment have I accorded the Holy Face?  I'm afraid to say, but God-willing, there will be time enough to rectify that.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Interested in Forming a Rosary Group?

A friend contacted me a few days ago and asked me to be the final member in a group of women committed to praying a specific decade of the Rosary every day for the rest of their lives.   Each woman prays an assigned Mystery each day for the intentions of the group.  That got me to thinking a bit.  Could we in our little group of Catholic bloggers not do the same thing?  All of us are asked to pray for one intention or another.  Do you think we could get 30 people to each take a Gospel mystery and pray it each day for the intentions that can either be posted here in the combox or simply kept in the silence of our hearts?  Let me know if you're interested and if you are, which mystery you'd like to have.  If so inclined, please pass the word on via your own blogs.  It's not necessary for everyone to pray at the same time, so long as every effort is made to pray your decade each day.  Thanks for giving this some thought and God bless you.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Something Sweet for Sunday

A rousing version of my one of my favorite hymns, which despite its absence from our churches, can be sung at Catholic Mass.  How I wish we would hear more hymns like this.  For what it's worth, please note that it's impossible to stir the soul in this manner with a guitar.  Only the organ can give the appropriate honor and glory to God in His House.

Prayer of Thanksgiving and a Plea for Protection and Mercy

There is much to be thankful for but the pleas for help never stop coming.  

Almighty God, thank you for hearing the prayers we offered on behalf of your faithful servant Maria.  Thank you for bringing her back to good health and making it possible for her to regain her place as an active member of our faith community.   Father Jim Galligan, thank you for hearing our pleas and interceding on Maria's behalf with Our Merciful Savior.

In your mercy, Lord, we ask you to grant your protection to those law enforcement officers who are searching for a killer in the mountains of California.  Command Your angels to watch over them, guide their steps and enlighten them so that they can apprehend this dangerous man and return safely to their families.  Intercede so that no harm may befall those who have sacrificed their own lives for the protection and welfare of others.  Comfort their families who must bid them farewell each day, not knowing whether or  not they will return to them safe and unharmed.  We ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Lord, we also ask you to aid those who are mourning the loss of loved ones, who are seeking work or who must face anxiety and torment in the workplace at the hands of those who have turned a deaf ear to You.  Guide and enlighten evildoers who insist on making life unpleasant for others so that they may convert their hearts to You, Who are love and mercy itself.  Strengthen those who strive do to Your Will in the face of threats, harassment and ridicule.  We ask this through Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

A Conscience Informed by Politics or Faith?

I saw a link to this over at Father Z's place yesterday.  The comment I left at Crisis was not published.

What I said in my comment  is that I'm not sure what point Father Rutler was trying to make with his article which he wrote on the notion that the death penalty can be "medicinal", as  knowing of one's impending doom may lead the criminal  to concentrate on his sins and beg God's forgiveness.

In this country, the judicial system is not without corruption.  Some time ago I wrote about judges who sentenced barely marginal delinquent juveniles to detention centers owned by political cronies.  The two judges lined their pockets with more than $2.3 million by sending kids as young as ten years old to privately-owned prisons for juvenile offenders.  One teen committed suicide as a result of his unjustly harsh sentence.
 Kids were effectively put up for sale in cases where even the prosecutor argued that the charges were too harsh for the offense committed. One of the judges, nicknamed  "Mr. Zero Tolerance",  had a reason for his toughness - cold, hard cash.

The innocent and the mentally challenged both have been sent to their deaths by a judicial system that favors those who can afford the best defense and puts the innocent as well as the guilty at the mercy of corrupt and evil political hacks like the judges described above.  Even traffic court is not without the kind of "patronage" that favors the politically connected.

I found this an odd subject for a priest to tackle, particularly when the death penalty is seldom applied in this country any more and when the Catholic church in America is in its own crisis, with scores of its members not in a state of grace.  How do we get lapsed Catholics back in the pews and in good standing with the Almighty?  How do you get the stray sheep  to concentrate their minds so that they return to the fold?  Are those who freely engage in abortion, birth control, euthanasia, promiscuity and same-sex marriage fornication in any less danger of Hell than those on death-row?  Only God knows.

And only God has the right to take human life,  with very few exceptions.  Valid cases of self-defense, just wars and police actions that prevent the innocent from harm are some of them.  Capital punishment, at least to this consistently pro-life Catholic,  isn't one of them.

Remember: just because we can do something doesn't mean we should.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I saw this very interesting post on Theresa's blog. Just when I was ready to give up on myself as a complete social misfit, too.  I still think a bit of the first description Theresa offers describes me, minus the ugly behavior.  But she is so right about what charity dictates.  Do take a look if you can.

Last week I met a Maronite-Rite nun who really is a hermitess.  Sister came to a social gathering at my parish following Mass last week and I was so touched by her personal charity in engaging so many people in conversation, perhaps having to answer questions that should not have been posed to her in the first place.  Sister kind of drove Theresa's point home.  There are times when charity dictates that we venture past that place where we are most comfortable and make ourselves fully present to those around us, whether they are family or friends.

Sometimes, I wonder how Our Lord received the sick, the lame and the possessed when He reached the point of physical exhaustion or perhaps wanted to be alone so He could pray to His Father.  At least none of my relatives have ever carved a hole in my roof to lower themselves into my living room to see me.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sparrows Have Nests But Filthy Bums Have Nowhere to Lay Their Heads

Someone referred to one of my favorite bloggers as a "filthy bum" last week.  The blog author said that after his initial surprise, he decided it wasn't a bad thing.

I have heard street people referred to as bums on more than one occasion.  Although homeless is the more charitable and politically correct way to refer to a person who lives on the streets, there are those who persist in their ways.

Last week, we parked the car on the streets of a high-crime neighborhood so we could avoid paying $14  to put it in a garage.  As I exited the car with a large bouquet of flowers in my arms, a homeless man strode up to us, addressing his remarks to my husband.

"Sir, you are a lucky man to have that lady with you. I hope you treat her the way she deserves".

I knew what was coming next, and call me a sucker, because I reached into my pocket before he had a chance to say another word and buried a few dollars in my hand where they could not be seen.

The man walked next to us and began his tale of woe, but in a voice so hopeful and pleasant, it was hard to believe he could be down on his luck.

"I'm a homeless vet", he told us, "and there are a lot of us on the streets.  I've been messed up ever since I came back from that war.  I lost my home and I never did find a job when I came back, but I ain't gonna lose my soul."

He was very clean and except for worn clothes, a shaggy beard and no teeth, he could have easily passed as someone employed and with a house and a family to go home to.  The war to which he referred was clearly Vietnam, as we later learned our escort was in his sixties.

 I told him he was one of the cleanest homeless people I'd ever met, and it wasn't meant to reflect doubt on his story.  I've known a few homeless people who managed to keep themselves immaculate.  Some years back, my friend Eddie, who lived in the subway system of Philadelphia, told me there is no excuse for  homeless people to "go around stinkin' like dirty bums."  He reminded me that "cleanliness is next to Godliness" and with the right motivation and ingenuity it was entirely possible to stay clean.

Our friend told us that he often used the money he panhandled to wash his blankets and his clothes at the laundromat.  He said diabetes limited what he could eat, especially with no insulin available to him, so he didn't always spend what he begged on food.

It was a bitterly cold day with the wind whipping everything in sight at 30 mph or more.  We asked the man if he could direct us to our destination and he offered to walk with us.  He said he was hoping to buy some rice for dinner from one of the street vendors.  I pressed the money into his palm and a look of shock crossed his face.

"I wasn't going to ask you for anything."  Then he said "God bless you" about fifty times.  He got us to our destination and the dark side of me wondered if he would return to our car to try to break into it.  As if I had wondered this out loud, he said he didn't understand street people that break into people's cars.  "Just cos you're down on your luck don't give you the right to bust somebody's window.  If you're lucky, you find 75 cent on the seat and it costs the driver $80 bucks to fix it. "

We said our goodbyes, and I could still hear him saying "God bless you" as we walked up the steps.  Was he for real?  Who knows?

I have to tell you that I was in my glory walking down the street next to that man.  I've always had an affinity for those with no place to lay their head.  I've had a few homeless friends over the years but then lost track of them.  I hope the reason I haven't seen Eddie is because he got a job and a place to live. I hope the reason I haven't seen Tom-Tom and his faithful dog Queenie is because he moved on to another town, and not because he lost his life.  My friend Nate is still around, doing much better than when I first found him but still unable to make it entirely on his own.

The truth is that at no time do I feel closer to the Lord than when I'm in the company of those men who have nowhere to lay their heads or call home.  I feel that every so often, He chooses to grace me with His Presence in the distressing disguise, as Mother Teresa would say, of the poor.

Until it got too risky and I got extremely lazy, I used to hand out care packages to the homeless.  I would pack  little brown shopping bags with a lunch, change of socks and underwear and some toiletries like disposable wash cloths and tooth brushes and discreetly hand them out to those who looked like they needed them.

One day, I had one bag left over and try as I might, I saw no one to whom I could give it.  I walked a few blocks out of my way to find someone, with no luck.  Then I passed a Burger King and saw a shivering shaggy man standing outside, no coat, no socks and no luck.  He wasn't begging for money because he didn't have to.  His eyes pleaded for anyone to take pity on him in any way possible. I watched for awhile as person after person went into the restaurant without so much as a casual glance at this downtrodden man.  I quietly walked up and took his hand and hooked the last care package over it, telling him there was something to eat inside.  He looked inside the bag, took a few of the items out, and cried.  So did I, because the Lord saw fit to humble Himself in this way for me to serve Him in one of the least of His creatures.  As St Therese might have said, I wished the Lord wouldn't know it was me because I did not want Him to feel bound to repay me.

Why don't I do more of this?  The truth is, because I am a lazy bum who can't work up the energy anymore to make even the most minimal effort to help other people.   I often say that if I hit the lottery, I would spend the money helping others.

God bless those who don't wait until they strike it rich to help the less fortunate.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Urgent Prayer Request to Prevent an Abortion

Today, I received a call from a friend begging for prayers.  A family member is pregnant with her first child and wants to have an abortion because prenatal testing indicates the baby she is carrying has Down's Syndrome.  I promised her I would start a novena for this intention and would also reach out to my small but faithful core group of readers to ask them to pray as well.    Further testing is scheduled for next week.

A few years back, a coworker learned that her first grandchild would be born with Down's.  She wasn't worried about it, however, because as she said, children with Down's are "nothing but love" and she was sure that her daughter-in-law would never regret her decision to bring that baby into the world once she held him in her arms.  She was right.

Please pray.  My friend is a faithful Catholic and is just sick over this.

Thank you and God bless you.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Photos from our parish celebration of the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Our Lady's Purification can be seen here    In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, this was once also the day that priests and religious were recognized in a special Mass at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.  I'm not sure if this still takes place on Candlemas and whether Archbishop Chaput has kept up that tradition.

Something Sweet for Candlemas