Happy birthday, Church!
I chose to spend Mass this morning at Holy Child Parish. As a seasoned parish-hopper, I was glad for the opportunity to see this one decked out and ready to celebrate the day Christ fulfilled His promise to send the Holy Spirit to guide us in His Ways.
I made a great choice!
This parish boasts several priests and deacons. Though not a "rich" parish, it's very obvious that these parishioners spare no expense when it comes to lavishing beauty upon the Lord's House.
St. Teresa Church (part of Holy Child Parish), is just... it's beautiful in a very simple, quiet way. There aren't thirty thousand statues / icons along the walls... there aren't flowers and banners hanging from every rafter, and there's not an over-abundance of linens or fixtures.
They do, however, have some beautiful statues, beautiful (and VERY educational) stained glass windows, and some of the most magnificent wood-work I've seen in a while. They are also one of the cleanest churches I've ever been in which is just more proof that the parishioners take pride in keeping the Lord's House meticulous.
The way they have set everything up, it seems that the true focus of the entire parish is not on wowing folks with artwork or finery but impressing upon them the real beauty of Who is hidden within the tabernacle. I love that!
The priests at this parish are ALL wonderful. I've heard homilies from each and they all have an intense love for Christ and His Church. They also went out of their way to really teach the parish about the changes that were made to the liturgy as the new wording was being introduced. One, in particular, is a real stickler for "saying the black, doing the red" and I'm always tickled when he points it out. :)
They're also fantastic with children. When I attend Mass here, I tend to go to the 11 o'clock which is right before Vince's bedtime. That typically means Vince is in rare form, and I've never had them shoot me angry laser beams. In fact, a couple weeks ago Fr. Chris caught us in the vestibule with Vince crying his head off and instead of scurrying out of a potentially awkward situation, he tried to soothe both Vince and myself and assured us of his prayers en route to the altar. How sweet is that?
You guys have heard me write of these stellar priests several times, especially when their homilies give me new insights into Bible readings or Church Traditions. I just love that we've still been so blessed to have such faithful, intelligent and charitable priests in our community.
Anyway, I took some photos to share with you lovely readers. This parish JUST attached a new adoration chapel that's opened Monday thru Friday until 8pm. How amazing is that??? So now, in addition to St. Rita's, I have St. Teresa's as well to visit Christ in the Blessed Sacrament!
That means any of you fine folks in the S. Jersey area also have another place to pray with the Lord. Yay!
But yes - St. Teresa Parish is truly a wonderful community. Their parishioners are so very welcoming, thoughtful and generous. I always feel at home in their parish. Their priests are incredible representatives of Christ, and their church is a very serene, clean and simple beauty that I have no doubt pleases God greatly.
May He continue to bless these folks immensely. <3
For more gorgeous parish artwork from my local churches, feel free to follow my "Churches" page.
So yes, I've obviously been in quite the doom and gloom mood as of late.
The issues surrounding the Philadelphia Archdiocese hit home in a big way last week. I was asked to attend a meeting that was to finalize plans for a school farewell. The pastor had asked me to explain a memento book I'd been pushing for since 6 days after the closings were announced. To say the least, I was beyond floored by how unprepared and disorganized everything was.
While trying to get a handle on the situation (I was trying to figure out how to work the tiny number of volunteers we had for the number of stations we needed coverage for), the principal (a sweet, wonderful woman who is doing the best she can in a situation in which everything is stacked solidly against her) misunderstood my attempt to figure out man-power as an attack on her dedication.
Poor Sister. I honestly feel awful for her and all the other people both in our and other schools who are struggling with the same reality. Alumni are knocking down the doors for some sort of open house / farewell, but no one wants to actually take the time to properly plan things out. On top of that, current families and students tend to get shuffled aside.
It's just a sad, disheartening situation all around.
And then in Jersey, in my own parish, there's been an atmosphere of bubbling anger and indignation still seething from the mergers over the last few years. With the last several meetings we've had, I feel like I'm watching our wonderful pastor struggle harder and harder against the overwhelming tide of criticism and ineptitude overflowing from his own superiors (who, in turn, are probably struggling with much of the same). In our last meeting, I couldn't get the image of Atlas struggling to hold up the weight of the world on his shoulders out of my head. Instead of Atlas, though, it's our poor pastor. Eeps!
So yeah... I've been a miserable little bum. Everything was really getting to me because I felt like I couldn't do anything to make any of it better.
Until I remembered the following quote from St. Francis de Sales:
Every Christian needs a half-hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour.
Ha! This quote is wonderful because it reminds us that no matter how busy we are, no matter how stressed or over-burdened we think we are, God never gives us more than we can handle. All we need to do is rely on Him through prayer, and all the craziness takes care of itself.
So I spent some time in Adoration. I normally don't go during lunch because I feel like I can't give Jesus the proper time He deserves. That, I've realized, is an excuse. Any time with Jesus is time well-spent, so I took my spare ten minutes and found myself in the adoration chapel.
I was absolutely miserable, so I wasn't really expecting much to come of it. I then said to myself, "So what if nothing comes of it? Adoration isn't supposed to be for us. It's supposed to be a gift to Jesus. So stop your whining and be grateful for the fact that He allows you to spend time with Him at all."
(I really do have these sorts of conversations with myself... don't judge me! Ha ha!)
So I went. I didn't even bother with the veil. I just went in to the lonely little chapel room and said "Hi" to Jesus. I didn't recite any fancy prayers, and I didn't even turn on the lights. I just knelt before the monstrance and said, "Hi Jesus. I love You. Help me to love You better."
I didn't know what else to say. I really didn't. I was sheepishly grinning at Jesus, because I knew He was enclosed in the monstrance and was probably hoping for something a little more profound than "Hi Jesus" over and over again.
But I quickly realized that wasn't true. Jesus was just glad I was there with Him... that I came to Him when I realized the flood of emotion was too much. Like any good friend, He was waiting patiently (no... EXPECTANTLY) for me to ask for help. As I acknowledged the truth of that, an immediately wave of relief came over me. I felt happiness and love. I actually put my arms out a bit because I knew in that moment, Jesus was hugging me. I don't care how much of a crazy person that makes me. Jesus was hugging me, and darn it - I was gonna hug Him back!
After that, I spent the last couple minutes just "hanging out" with Jesus. I repeated my prayer of "I love You, help me to love You better" a few more times, and then thanked Him for the opportunity to come see Him.
I left with the dopiest grin on my face. I had gone over my Best Friend's house in the middle of the day and snuck in a few minutes of chit-chat. It really made all the difference in the world.
I then took the advice of a dear priest friend who suggested that lunch / dinner might be a good option to cheer up our pastor. Armed with his suggestion, I began making plans to surprise him (Fr. Atlas - I'm totally going to call him that from now on) with a luncheon. After all, Mark Twain said it best: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
Hopefully this will provide a morale-boost to Fr. Atlas in addition to those of us who are able to attend. I sincerely hope we draw a good sized crowd for him. He deserves to know he's appreciated and supported by his community. He's done so much for us, and it's be nice to acknowledge him for his love to remind me that even though he's facing a deluge of criticism, he has a deluge of appreciation to balance it out.
So yeah... Adoration, even for a few minutes, really can make a difference!
This is the most uplifting thing I've read all day. Yay Adoration!
The reason I chose to place an image of the Visitation up here is that, in truth, Elizabeth's reaction to Our Lady and the Child she carried within her was probably humanity's first act of Adoration (aside from Mary, of course). Since the Blessed Mother was the first Eucharistic Procession (being that she was the living Tabernacle / Ark of the Covenant which carried the Incarnate Word), it follows that Elizabeth, being the 2nd person to know of the Savior's coming, would drop to her knees in humble thanksgiving for the gift of God.
Yes, even in her 6th month and on her old, feeble knees, I bet Saint Elizabeth dropped down and wept tears of joy in the Presence of the Messiah. Little John the Baptist, also within his mother's womb, felt the blessing of his Master and leapt for joy at His nearness.
May we all approach the Blessed Sacrament with the same love and joy as Saint Elizabeth. May we all accept and carry the Word Incarnate within us, bearing Him forth to others that they might know something of His Love.
I cannot possibly tell you how high my heart leapt at the title of this piece! How absolutely brilliant that Christ is being brought into the heart of the battle... to where He is so desperately needed.
The lyrics to O Come All Ye Faithful keep repeating themselves in my head:
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
It seems that in so many places we've lost our recognition of Christ's True Presence within the Eucharist. We've lost our understanding and thus, our appreciation, for this gift. Movements like this instill hope that my generation is working to go back to our Catholic roots and seek out the treasures our God has granted us through the Church.
The greatest of these treasures is Christ, Himself, through the Eucharist. O come... let us adore Him. Let us adore He who Triumphs over despair, darkness and death itself. Let us adore Him and beg mercy for our transgressions against His Most Holy Will. His love is all encompassing - He would do nothing but grant us such grace.
This picture is exactly how I felt last night (and this morning... ha!).
I spent about 3 hours cooking for my husband's company party last night. The party was this morning, and I spent the better part of this morning running around like a crazy person.
The pulled pork had been ordered three weeks ago from a place I couldn't remember the name of. I had Googled it weeks ago and couldn't tell you the name or city it existed in. I thought I had saved the info on my computer, but no dice. With less than an hour until the party, I was in a panic. I still had to ready the other food, wrap the gifts, get Vince's daycare stuff in order (he had a party, too), and take care of a work emergency.
I called upon all my Purgatorial buddies and several saints (St. Anthony included) and even the Blessed Mother in an effort to help me remember the name of the shop. I even said, "Okay, Guardian Angel, I know you know what it is! C'mon... please, please, please help me remember!"
Finally, after a morning of dwelling in a half-heart-attack state, I said, "God, I fully know you're capable of something this tiny. I also realize you've probably got way bigger things to take care of. However, you're God, and you can handle it. I know you'll take care of this, too, 'cause I know all those saints / angels are praying, and the Blessed Mother never turns down intercessions. Just help me be patient as you sort through the paperwork."
Seriously - not even five minutes later and the answer comes to me as I'm scrolling through my computer.
I seriously dropped to my knees and started thanking God in every possibly way I could. Man... what a relief! John wasn't going to have to find someone to help covertly bury his murdered wife after all!
Everything else quickly started falling into place.
After picking up the pork and dropping off the food I made, I went straight to the Adoration Chapel I found a few weeks back. Unfortunately, the Eucharist wasn't exposed, but I didn't let a little thing like a tabernacle door stop me from adoring Jesus. :)
I really felt so happy and grateful to be with Him to properly thank Him for His help this morning. I gave shout outs to all my saint / purgatory friends, and spent some time meditating on Our Lady. I offered up couple chaplets for the Holy Souls as a thank you since I know that made both them and Jesus happy.
Mmmmm - even though I'm absolutely exhausted (it's not even 3pm yet!), I'm insanely happy that I was given such a gift today. We've got ourselves one swell God, huh? :)
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