Yesterday was Sunday. After getting myself and Vincent dressed for Mass, I put my chapel veil on. As soon as Vincent saw it, he started saying - quite loudly - "NO JESUS!"
At first, I ignored him. This is par for the course with him anymore. I could've been setting up to go to the beach, and he'd be yelling "NO BEACH!"
Anyway, I ignored him until I heard his father (who was upstairs in the bathroom) laugh. He asked, "Is he saying what I think he's saying?"
I immediately felt myself go into defense mode. Remember, John's a proud atheist who takes slight issue with me raising Vincent as a Catholic. So any sort of "Boooooo Religion!" utterance is a victory for him.
Anyway, I pointed out that Vince does this every week and is perfectly fine by the time we get into the pew. He does the same thing regardless of where we're going, so I reminded him not to get too excited that our son was rejecting Jesus.
John swore he wasn't giddy about Vincent's outburst against Mass... but I still have my doubts. Ha ha.
Luckily, as I pulled into the church lot, Vince had simmered down. Since he loves counting so much, I had him count the different windows that frame our doors as we entered. That made him happy. The next hour made ME super happy.
As soon as we entered the church, Vincent was a model little munchkin! He said "Hi" to our usher and pointed to Jesus in the tabernacle. He genuflected - actually GENUFLECTED - for the very first time and said, "Hi Jesus!"
I was so proud!
We placed our bag in the cry room and since we were so early, I took him to the various statues to "run out some energy."
Besides, it's a good learning experience for him, too.
We started with the Blessed Mother - Our Lady of Grace. When we got before her statue, he tried to genuflect again. I picked him up and said, "No no, Vincent. You only genuflect to Jesus." So he looked at the tabernacle (which was only a couple yards away) and said, "Hi Jesus!" again.
I said, "Remember, this is Mary. She's Jesus' Mommy." So he looked back at Our Lady and said, "Hi Mary!" I said, "Blow kisses!" He happily complied, but then wanted to follow it up with a hug. I had to stop him from hopping the altar rail and climbing up her feet. I half apologized to her as we turned to see the other statues because I think she'd've enjoyed having Vincent climb up to give her a hug. :)
We made our way to the mini Lourdes grotto in the back. I pointed out St. Bernadette and Mary. He didn't really care about them because he was looking at the Infant of Prague. So I tried to show him "Baby Jesus." I was unsuccessful because just under that statue were the vigil candles. Vince wanted to push all the buttons (our are electric), and when I wouldn't let him, he got slightly confused. They were buttons, after all. Weren't they made to be pushed???
Instead, I took him to see St. Michael the Archangel. He usually likes St. Michael (what with his awesome sword and soldier gear). He said "Hi" but again, he wasn't too interested. His eye had caught St. Joseph all the way on the other side of the church. So off we went to say "Hi" to St. Joseph.
Our Sacred Heart statue
Along the way, however, we stopped at the gorgeous Sacred Heart of Jesus statue. I might be a little biased when I say this, but we've got the most beautiful Sacred Heart of Jesus statue I've ever seen.
I let him touch the Sacred Heart. Vincent said, "Heart!" And I said, "That's Jesus' Heart. He loves you SOOOOO much!"
Vincent smiled and said, "Jesus love."
Vincent then saw Christ's fingers raised in blessing, so he counted them.
"One, two, three!"
I pointed at them, one at a time, and said, "Father, Son..."
I waited and Vince chimed in with "Holy Spirit!"
Not only was I super impressed, but the group of ladies chatting in the narthex applauded him, too! I was incredulous. This same little boy had been yelling "No Jesus! No Jesus!" only to be "Yay Jesus!" two seconds later.
We finally made our way over to the St. Joseph statue, but we couldn't stay long because Father was processing to the back for the start of Mass. Vincent, however, didn't want to leave his friends and said, "No room! Jesus stay!"
That's Vincent-speak for "I don't want to go into the cry room. I want to stay and play with Jesus!"
I told him that Jesus was coming soon, so we'd have to read some books until we could go back up to see Him.
That contented him. He was fine throughout Mass, reading his little Stations booklet. After reception of the Eucharist, Vincent raised his hands up to kiss me. After Mass, he didn't want to leave! I really wish John could've seen him then. Quite the change from "No Jesus! No Jesus!"
Ah well. When we got back home, John asked me how he was. I told him the truth. That was probably the best Vincent's ever was for me.
And I can't help but wonder if that wasn't God's way of letting me know He understood that Vince was just being a child. All of my prayers of "Please, God, don't let Catholicism become boring or uncool for him" will eventually work themselves out... even if I must deal with the heartbreak of seeing him favor sports or video games over Him for a time. In the end, though John might have his "mini-victories," I trust that God's Love will triumph in Vincent's heart.
I attended St. William's in NE Philadelphia yesterday. They have a unique 8pm evening mass on Sunday which is thoroughly helpful when someone like me has a wedding the night before and can't drag herself out of bed in time for her usual 10am service.
Anyway, I attend St. William's once every other month or so. I'm regular enough that folks sorta-kinda recognize me (especially as I'm the only veiled one present), but irregular enough to where no one really knows my name.
Color me ridiculously surprised, then, when I bumped into several people that I knew from Incarnation (my old home parish) last night.
One scooched in next to me during the Penitential Rite. Neither of us were aware of who the other was until the 1st Reading. She nudged me and said, "Gina?" I turned, surprised to see my old friend. It was a pleasant surprise. She made a motion with her hand regarding my veil. It was a question... a confused, "What's with the veil?" I just smiled and returned my attention back to the Mass.
I could feel her eying me curiously for the rest of Mass. At the end of Mass, after moving to the narthex, I opened the door for the questions I knew she had.
Inevitably, the first one was, "So, what's with the veil?"
I explained, briefly, that I'd had a rekindling of faith and spent over a year returning to my Catholic roots. One of the things I discovered on my journey back to Christ was the custom of veiling. I explained that since the Blessed Mother is my example for all things Catholic, far be it from me to place myself above her example when in the Presence of Christ. If she wears a veil when with her Beloved Son, I feel I, too, should present myself in a similar fashion when accepting Him in the Eucharist.
Then she said, "I saw you cross yourself and mumble something during the Gospel. What was that all about?"
I couldn't figure out what she was talking about at first. It took several moments of her miming an interpretation of what I looked like at the beginning of the Gospel for me to understand what she was referring to.
When the priest said, "A reading from the Gospel of Mark" I made a tiny cross with my thumb over my forehead, my lips and my heart. The mumbling she heard was a prayer I learned in 5th grade to go along with the motion I learned that same day:
"Lord, be ever on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart."
During the Gospel, we are hearing the Word of God. We, as Catholics, should strive always to keep His Word in mind so that we may act charitably towards one another. We also wish to bear forth the Word of Christ to others, either through praise and thanksgiving, or through evangelization. Finally, above all, we wish to love Him with our whole heart by keeping His Word enclosed within.
Thus, the small crosses signifying His Gospel upon mind, lips and heart.
I've done it since learning it in 5th grade, and I've always assumed it's part of the proper movements of Mass. Kind of like "sit, stand, kneel, 'Amen,'" I thought this particular motion and prayer were part of the expected and "everybody knows you're supposed to do that" knowledge that goes along with being Catholic.
However, if you did not know this before, you do now! :)
The Name of Christ is mighty
Apparently the Name of Christ is more dangerous to the public than concealed weapons (which are perfectly legal) in N. Carolina.
I found a seed on Father Z's blog this morning detailing a new policy enacted in N. Carolina regarding police chaplains' ability to use Christ's name while praying at public events.
One chaplain's response was like an arrow to my heart... a beautiful, wonderful arrow of integrity and wisdom.
Pastor Terry Sartain, upon learning of this change, withdrew from the event because, "Jesus is the only thing I have to bless people with."
This man understands what so many others do not. The Name of Christ is one of our greatest blessings. It's why we always ask for everything "in Jesus' Name." Christ left us even the grace of His own Name to help shield us from harm.
Other religions treat the names of their gods / prophets as unspeakable or curse-inducing utterances. Not Christianity. We were blessed to understand that our God is a loving God who WANTS a personal relationship with us. He WANTS us to know Him intimately. Thus, He blesses us with the comfort of His Holy Name.
To remove our ability to call out His blessing through using His Name, this policy effectively steals from us our ability to properly pray. It also forces us to deny the God who gave His Life for our salvation.
And I can't help but know with certainly that the developers of this policy fully understood that. I believe Satan and his demons coated this with the sugar of tolerance and unity, but in reality, this is just one more step towards a global "religion" that is no religion at all.
It is a dismantling of Christianity in lieu of agnosticism. It is a stifling of our faith... another gentle inoculation to prevent the spread of Christ's Name to new generations of souls. This has nothing to do with tolerance. It is INTOLERANCE that has paved the way for this desecration of religious liberties.
But few will see it this way because so many are grateful for the chance to cast aside the trappings of religion. Their own opinions on religion cloud their ability to see beyond the "Don't use Jesus' Name" and realize that it is a tiny cog in a bigger machine that is shooting down a person's individual right to practice their religion as he or she sees fit.
Chaplains are VOLUNTEERS. They are volunteering their time to give comfort to the men and women who serve. At a prayer service (if one is requested by the police force), folks EXPECT to hear names like Jesus, God, Buddha or Mohammad. These words do not point a finger at atheists, Jews or Spaghetti Monster believers in an attempt to say "You're going to a naughty place for not believing!" If you invite a volunteer chaplain to one of these prayer services, you're inviting their brand of religion. If you don't want to be stifled by Christianity, find a volunteer who will speak what you're looking for. But do NOT, NOT, NOT attempt to tell someone how they can and cannot pray (publicly or otherwise!).
These chaplains (whatever their religion may be) are looking to offer comfort in the form of a universal blessing. Christ does not just bless Christians. He blesses all, regardless of their belief in Him.
If someone were to say to me, "May the Spaghetti Monster's blessing be upon you always" I'd say, "Right on, good sir. Thanks for having my back with the warm fuzzies."
I would not respond, "Dude, I believe in JESUS, okay? Stop insulting me with your well-wishes!"
And yet that's exactly what is being done by this policy. It is ludicrous and is once again an attempt by policy makers to stifle the religious freedoms of folks... folks who are VOLUNTEERING THEIR TIME for goodness sake!
It reminds me of this yearly mess... Will this sort of foolishness have no end?
This is a perfect time for the Golden Arrow Prayer. It was given to St. Gertrude the Great by Christ, Himself, who said, "It will wound My Heart delightfully and heal the wounds inflicted by blasphemy."
As I said on Fr. Z's wall, I hope in this case it will heal the wounds inflicted by arrogance, silence and betrayal.
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
Sacred Heart statue at my parish
Today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Plenary indulgences for all! If public recitation is not an option for you, partial indulgences are at the ready.
Please don't let this opportunity pass you by! Spread it to all your friends. We could use a little absolution of our temporal punishments.
How merciful is Our Lord! How fathomless the depths of His infinite Love!
Submerse yourself in His Sacred Heart. Find peace and rest within His Arms.
For the requisite prayers, gain access here! Don't forget to share with friends and family!
Posted on Philadelphia Archbishop Chaput's Facebook page:
It was announced in Rome this morning that Philadelphia's Msgr. Nelson Perez, Pastor of Saint Agnes Parish in West Chester, has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
As Bishop-elect Perez prepares to begin his episcopal ministry, I offer him heartfelt congratulations and pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen him as a successor of the Apostles. I’m confident that he will be of great service to Bishop William Murphy and all of God’s people in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. They are fortunate to receive such a gift from the Holy Father in the person of Bishop-elect Perez. He has a joyful and down-to-earth personality, an obvious love for the priesthood, and a tireless devotion to his ministry.
Please join me in offering him prayerful best wishes. May God bless you.
I'm so happy I could cry. Msgr. Nelson has to be one of the sweetest, most joyous and genuinely loving people I've ever met. Rockville really is incredibly blessed to have him. Please say a prayer for him in his new role. May Our Lady ever shine her smile down upon him and his people. He's in for a bumpy road given the turmoil our Church is now facing. God certainly knows how to pick His warriors. Bless him!
Two women received heartbreaking news today regarding the miscarriage of their unborn children. Please keep them (and their husbands) in your prayers.
Even though their beautiful children did not make it past the bonds of the womb, they made these women mothers. Their tiny heartbeats - their tiny feet - their very souls manifested a significant and unalterable mark on the hearts of these women. They are forever changed because once you become a mother, you remain a mother. Once you open yourself up to accepting a life hand-crafted by the Father, you ever carry a piece of that life within yourself.
May these two mothers find comfort in the fact that their blessed little saints are now acting as their personal intercessors before the Throne of God. May they enjoy the Beatific Vision from the lap of Our Lady, and may their parents feel the comforting embrace of Christ.
Motherhood, as Dymphna put it, is forever. Special thanks to her for sharing this artwork.
Special thanks, too, go out to a woman named Dominique. She shared this reflection that I promptly fell in love with.
My Lord, the baby is dead!
Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?
“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.
You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”
I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity. -- Mother Angelica
The Visitation... the very first Eucharistic Procession of Christ, truly present within His beloved, blessed mother, is celebrated today.
Can you imagine the joy of Mary as she made her way closer and closer to the home of St. Elizabeth? Knowing that she was about to bear witness to another miracle - the fruitfulness of a barren old woman - she must have been singing non-stop praises!
And yes, of course Our Lady was besides herself with joy knowing that she carried God within her womb, but I'm willing to bet she always placed the joy of others before herself.
She wasn't someone who simply clapped her hands and said "Congratulations" only to lose herself in her own life five seconds later.
No. She immersed herself in the joys, sufferings, triumphs and challenges of those around her. She always - ALWAYS - placed others before herself due to her perfect humility. She must have savored the miraculous blessing of her elderly cousin as much as St. Elizabeth, herself, did. It's why Our Lady stayed on to take care of her and help her in her final months of pregnancy. She joyously accepted her role as servant, even while pregnant with the God of the Universe.
How blessed are we to have such a gracious, loving woman as our Heavenly Mother?
And what of elderly Saint Elizabeth? She no doubt dropped to her feeble, creaky knees as Our Lady approached. We are told in the gospel that she was moved by the Holy Spirit and proclaimed Mary's Divine Motherhood as little John the Baptist leapt in her once barren womb.
That's why I love the above statue so much. These two pregnant women, through the power and grace of God, join together in love, support and prayer. This loving example of kinship, faithfulness and humility gave us one of our most beautiful prayers of praise - the Magnificat.
My soul glorifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.
He looks on his servant in her lowliness;
henceforth all ages will call me blessed.
The Almighty works marvels for me.
Holy is his name!
His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear him.
He puts forth his arm in strength and scatters the proud-hearted.
He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly.
He fills the starving with good things,
and sends the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remembering his mercy,
the mercy promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his sons for ever.
by Ron DiCianni (click for info)
I just read a heartbreaking story. I'll link it here with the warning that the image is painful to view. While the child is most certainly at peace, her little body enfolded in the burial shroud while her agonizing mother openly grieves her will sear your soul.
Jesus... have mercy on us.
Please offer your prayers for this woman and all families who are faced with this violence. There are still so many cultures throughout the world that do not value women... so many that cruelly neglect, hurt and murder innocent female children simply because of their sex.
Again, may God have mercy on us. We are victims of ourselves with no way of obtaining relief.
This is Divine Mercy weekend. If you're not already aware, please take the time to learn about the Promises of Divine Mercy Sunday. Make a good confession, and accept Christ in the Eucharist while praying for entry into His Compassionate Heart.
Join us in the Divine Mercy Novena.
Humanity - we truly need His Mercy. We are lost if not for His Grace.
A dear friend of mine (who I think is an atheist) posted the following status update this morning:
All of the international partners I work with have the entire week off for Easter. A lot of them have very generous, mandated vacation packages as well. Why is the USA the greatest country in the world again?
It took all my will power not to respond with:
Must be that whole "Government hates religious expression" business we've been combating.
Since I know he had no intention of sparking a religious / political debate, I held my tongue (or fingers, I guess). Besides, not everyone in our government is anti-religious expression. Just seems to be the top dogs. Le sigh.
St. Peter's Denial
I remember the first time I was stuck working for Good Friday. The previous years I'd planned my vacation days to coincide with the days of Holy Week I wanted to observe. Even as a fallen away Catholic I'd be sure to take off on Good Friday so I could at least spend some time in reflection / prayer.
Anyway, the first time I had to work I felt like I was somehow betraying Jesus. Instead of accompanying Him to Calvary, I was sitting behind a desk updating lesson plans and making phone calls that I knew were absolutely pointless. I stole into the bathroom for a few moments at 3pm, but it just wasn't the same. I was miserable the entire day, because as I said, I really like I was betraying Jesus (and to a certain extent, His Mother).
I'll be keeping folks in the same boat this year in my prayers on Friday (I have off, thank God!). Special thanks to Michelle from Liturgical Time for reminding me that I'm lucky enough to spend my time in prayer this year.
I realized I felt similarly last night. I was trying to pray the rosary, but could hear a conversation going on downstairs between my husband and a friend. I wasn't really praying so much as reciting mindlessly, and I realized that I must've found the conversation between John and his friend more interesting than Christ's Passion. I was subconsciously putting more value on the conversation I was paying attention to than the prayers I was supposed to be participating in.
As soon as that thought crossed my mind, I imagined being presented with two options. Follow Christ along the road towards Salvation and be an active witness to His Mercy, or listen to pointless musings between my husband and his friend that have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on me.
Once I viewed it in this way, I closed the door to block out the sound and was better able to focus on what I was supposed to be thinking about. Sometimes we really do need a swift kick in the pants to set our priorities straight... to take inventory of the things that really matter.
St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!
I just finished reading Father Z's defense of the clergy in the middle of this HHS Mandate mess.
Here is my favorite highlight:
There is only so much the bishops can accomplish in the public square on their own: the rest is your job. Don’t shirk your role even if you think bishops and priests are being lazy or craven. Stand up and get to work right now, even if you are disappointed that bishops aren’t beaming lasers out of their eyes or issuing decrees of excommunication while they levitate to the strains of Verdi’s Dies Irae.
Yes and yes. So many people are complaining about how little they see priests and bishops doing. I'm always confused by this, mainly because I see them doing so much. We can't expect them to hop onto the pulpits and scream bloody murder. We can't have them running around denouncing entire political parties or trying to convince folks that all Pro-Choice candidates are going straight to hell. We can't expect them to fight, fight, fight while we cower in the corner waiting for the spat to be done with.
And yet that seems to be what's happening by and large. I've seen the Church in the US mobilize in a way I've never encountered. Bishops are uniting and are extremely vocal on the issues that face us as a people. Leaders from other faiths are coming out in support of us. Catholic who have been wayward now feel a calling to defend the Church that blessed them with their faith and traditions. They can only do so much, and Father Z is right... we need to pick up the beacon ourselves to carry forth the Flame of Truth.
We can, and we MUST. WE are the Church... all of us. Not just the priests, not just the bishops, and not just the little old ladies praying the rosary after Mass.
WE are the Church, and we really need to start acting like it.
I have two rosaries that I typically use for everything. I used to have three, but I'm waiting to purchase a new Rosary for the Unborn (since I lost mine on the airplane back from Jamaica - bah).
I digress... as usual. *Blush*
The first is my Confirmation rosary. I was given this simple white rosary by my Aunt Bernadette (both my Godmother and sponsor) back in 7th grade when I was confirmed. I had it socked away in a drawer for years, but since my reversion, it's never been far from my side.
I chose that rosary to take with me on my trip to Treasures of the Church, though, which meant I got to touch it to almost 200 1st class relics. From that night on, anytime I pray with that rosary, I feel it's perfectly acceptable to ask all the saints I venerated to pray along with me. I'm sure they're only too happy to oblige.
Anyway, last night I said my prayers downstairs so as not to wake up John (who had gone up to bed an hour earlier). Since I keep my Confirmation rosary next to my bed, I reached into my purse to use the one my mother gave me for Christmas. It's a beautiful birthstone rosary with lavender pearls and amethyst beads. The Crucifix and center piece are by far the nicest I've ever seen.
As I pull the beautiful rosary from my purse, I realize that I can't fairly ask the saints to pray along with me since I don't have "their" rosary. Mind you, I'm fully aware that they'd pray along with me just the same, because they have no care what's in my hands so long as the prayers are coming from the heart, but I still feel as though that something is missing. This is sort of like Jesus being fully present as I accept Him in the Eucharist vs. Him being fully present in the Eucharist at Adoration. In both instances, He is absolutely fully present. There is, however, a different type of intimacy. I feel the same way about praying with the two rosaries. Both obviously help me in my spiritual development, and both guide me through the meditations of the Rosary / Divine Mercy chaplet, but in uniquely different ways.
So instead of asking the saints to pray along like I normally do, I ask my guardian angel to pray along with me. Whenever I make this request, I always picture a beautiful ethereal being solemnly bowed down in prayer, then rolling his eyes at me for such a foolish request. Of COURSE he'd pray with me. He'd do it regardless, and probably tries to coax me into doing it more myself!
But I ask anyway, because I don't want him to feel left out or think that I don't appreciate his presence. So off we begin our prayers when a thought enters into my mind:
"Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in their midst.” (Matt 18:20)
Welp... me and my guardian angel make two, right? So I wondered if Jesus was hovering around us somewhere. As I made my way through an Our Father, I realized that not only was Jesus present, I was SPEAKING HIM!
Jesus is the Word of God, right? He is the Word of God incarnated, but the Word of God nonetheless. The words of the Our Father were given to us straight from Jesus, Himself, so that's about as "Word of God" as it gets. In the state of prayer, in acknowledging His Presence, I understand that I SPEAK His Presence. He really was present with us as not only were His Words being used... His Will was being done through those prayers.
The Holy Spirit was kind to me with that little nugget of illumination. When I acknowledged that, too, I realized that the Trinity does fully exist with, for and in one another. One can never be without the Others. As soon as I realized that I was speaking Christ's Presence, I realized it was the Holy Spirit who placed that thought in my head. I realized then it was the Will of the Father being done through the simple action of reciting His Words granted through Jesus, His Son.
This is another reason why prayer is so important. This is proof that not only do we talk to God, God speaks directly back to us... just not necessarily in the ways we expect or are used to.
So make use of your guardian angels! I hear they like that sorta thing... *wink.*
This sculpture is the first (and as yet only) piece of art that has ever made me weep. I came across it in my travels, and the reaction was instantaneous. The tears were coming before I even understood what it was I was looking at.
The tender love and comfort extending from the child as she reached out to touch her agonizing mother is intense. That flood of intensity was then made into a deluge of sadness as I realized the child was "invisible," the symbolic soul of a child this mother lost. Then, when I realized what the title of the sculpture actually was, I just about died of a broken heart.
Though this sculpture doesn't necessarily have to speak of the post-abortion grief many woman feel, that was what I took it for at first glance. Then I realized this grief could easily be felt by women who suffered miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or even hysterectomies before fulfilling their vision of a family. This sculpture could also encapsulate the grief of a mother denied children through birth control, social pressures or infertility... maybe even a mother who lost her child to illness, violence or trauma.
Such ceaseless pain is perfectly juxtaposed with undescribable love. This ghost child is peaceful, seeking no solace for itself; she is only looking to comfort her stricken mother. The mother, overcome by her emotions, cannot feel the touch of this angel. She wants to... she yearns to... but she cannot.
Oh my heart. I'm actually writing this entry with my "window" scrolled up just enough that the image is not visible on my screen. I can do nothing but weep when I see it.
May the Lord grant us mercy for our transgressions against these innocent babes. May those who seek reconciliation find peace, and may the Holy Spirit alight in the hearts of those who don't understand that life begins at conception.
To all my newly pregnant friends out there...
The Vatican JUST approved the publication of a blessing rite specifically for children within the womb.
Read more about it HERE.
How amazing! I know while I was struggling with the threat of miscarriage, I wanted nothing more than something JUST like this for Vincent!
Pass it along! Our babies need all the help they can get in this new Pro-Death society we find ourselves in!
***Also, if anyone's able to locate the text of this, I'd appreciate it. Someone on the actual article wondered if this could be prayed outside an abortion clinic by the laity. I'll keep an eye out for the answer. Off to ship this to Father Z***
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.
My beloved Archdiocese of Philadelphia... what happened to you?
Have you really succumbed so gently to the false whispers of satan? Have you become pliant through his fiery caress? Have you become so blinded by the gilded treasures of worldliness, power and carnal gratification that the Beatific Vision is completely obscured from you?
God help us. We are lost if not for Your Grace.
For those of you unaware, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia - my home, my foundation, and my heart - has been reaping the fruits of a decades long abuse cover-up. We most certainly have been in the wrong for the reshuffling of priests, the silence of cardinals / bishops, the treatment of victims, etc. We have turned ourselves away from Truth and found an angry, unsettled and disordered home in the filth of sin.
Oh, what agony now befits us! Due to such negligence and willful perpetration of violence against the innocent among us, we suffer! We suffer as well we should, but dear Lord - Mercy!
We are being stripped of our priests. Sinners though they are, we haven't the vocations to fill the holes they leave behind. Sinners that we, the laity, are - we are left with no one to shepherd us via Sacraments and pastoral care.
Oh Lord, this truly is a punishment we bring upon ourselves! Catholicism in Philadelphia is on the cusp of abolition. For years we've allowed this cancer to metastasize, invading all parts of our clergy and administration. For years we've ignored the wounds of our victims - which, left untreated, became mortal and spread to others. As a result, when the blinds were opened and the public saw these festering, horrifying injuries for what they were, trust was lost, faith wavered, and hope for healing became almost laughable.
The pain to those of us who love this Archdiocese! The pain of feeling her members torn, battered and broken! The pain of helplessness as we could do nothing but watch as priest after beloved priest was targeted and accused, convicted and removed... as we saw our friends and family defect, turning away from the Church and even condemning Her due to the impossibly grotesque offenses of Her representatives! Oh the pain of listening to report after report of the ever-increasing details of the accusations... and seeing the devastating pain of our victims!
This ongoing chastisement is necessary, but dear Lord, again I cry "Mercy!" I understand and trust this unparalleled "cleansing of the Temple" is something we brought about on our own, but please guide us to safer waters!
Ugh. I am so beyond heartbroken by this entire mess, and it seems like a never-ending rabbit hole.
Another one of our priests was removed today. News came out yesterday afternoon that he was being investigated for an improper relationship and possible abuse of minors. This priest was someone who mentored me, my siblings, and many of our friends.
I have no idea if the allegations are true or not, but the fact that Archbishop Chaput reacted swiftly and harshly to his case leads me to believe there is some validity to the claims against him.
My prayers are with him, the possible victims, and the families of those he may have harmed or turned away from the Church. May they all find peace, healing, love and forgiveness.
Le sigh... I truly have such a heavy, heavy heart right now. However, even in this hailstorm of folly, I recognize the mercy we've been given in Chaput.
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Archbishop Chaput. No doubt You put him in place to steer this mostly capsized ship to harbor. May You be his strength and wisdom. May You be his beacon. May You be the wind that straightens our mangled sails.
I just came across a beautiful story of courage, hope and love. I want to spread it to others so they, too, can help add to our Spiritual Bouquet!
The story is about a wonderful newlywed couple expecting their first child. They learned that their little girl, Maria Isabella, has Spina Bifida. Instead of despair and revulsion, they experienced a deepening of their love for one another and their unborn child. They found solace in God and as a result, Mom and baby underwent in-utero surgery and are currently resting in bed as they await the results.
Let's rally together, repost, and shoot off our prayers like fireworks towards Heaven for this young family. I, for one, will add a Divine Mercy chaplet and tonight's rosary for their intentions.
Nothing like a communal effort to ensure Divine Providence works its magic!
I was listening to the song We Have Been Told in the car this morning. This is one of those songs that I can listen to a million times and still feel emotionally tackled!
The lyrics of the chorus, for those of you unfamiliar, are:
We have been told, we've seen His Face and heard His Voice alive in our hearts. "Live in My love, with all your heart. As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you."
I always feel a flood of gratitude hearing these words. I'm so thankful to have been given the blessing of knowing Jesus and being a part of the Catholic faith. I'm so happy to know and feel the active love of God in my life - to know that He's not just a guy in the sky sitting on a cloud somewhere uncaring about the adventures of humanity. No - I know and feel His Presence surrounding everything I do. I really do.
Anyway, as I was listening to the song this morning, something my friend had said about a year and a half ago came to mind. She and I were discussing her 'falling away' from Catholicism and my steadfast adherence to it.
Both of us attended the same grade school from kinder through 8th. Both of her parents are staunch Catholics and are highly active in parish ministries. My mother, too, fits that description. We both attended Catholic high schools and universities (hers being more Catholic than either of mine, I think). So we found it interesting that we took such different paths considering our similar foundations.
Anyway, as I've always said, though I left the Catholic Church for a while, I never "left the faith." I've always believed in Catholic dogma, I've always felt the active Presence of God in my life, and I've always relied on the Blessed Mother and saints to guide me in whatever trials I faced. I've never once gone, "Well what if Jesus didn't really exist? What if Heaven is a lie and after death nothing happens?"
Nope - even in my "New Age" phase (8th grade through HS, I guess?), while I was reading books on Buddhism, psychics and past-life experiences, I would attempt to make sense of them through Catholicism.
I would think, "Oh, maybe reincarnation IS what Catholics mean by Purgatory. After all, Earth, itself, could be the place of cleansing since it's where a soul perfects itself through life lessons, right?"
Or, "Well of COURSE God grants some people special gifts like clairvoyance or fortune telling. Maybe it's His way of reaching others who need "proof" of His existence in one form or another."
Seriously - when presented with a radically different theology or new-age theory, I'd immediately attempt to fit it into my Catholic paradigm because I fully understood and believed Catholicism to be the surpreme theology of God, Himself. Catholicism is Truth, and though I may not have fully understood all its Truths, I trusted that if given enough time and grace, I could make sense of it all. (I still do, truthfully - ha!).
She, on the other hand, doesn't have that same intrinsic "certainty" I do. She commented on this and suggested it was the reason we took such different paths. Honestly, that was the moment I really understood what a gift my faith was. When she spoke aloud the echo of the thoughts in my heart, I knew my love for and faith in Catholicism was, indeed, a true gift.
So as I was thinking about that this morning, another thought popped into my mind. I should say "prayer" really. It was more a prayer than a thought.
Anyway, the prayer-thought was:
Thank you, God, for the blessing of seeing Your Face and feeling Your Love in my life. I understand that this gift is not only meant for me - it is meant to be a vehicle for Your Divine Providence. Make me a reflection of Yourself so that I can bear Your Face to others that they, too, might see You, love You and feel Your Love in their lives.
Just as I completed that thought I pulled into work and scribbled down the above thought-prayer because I truly wanted to share it with others. I especially wanted to post it on my wall so I could be reminded of my duty as a Catholic Christian. My calling is to bear the Face of God to all people, regardless of who they are or what they believe. My directive is to be charitable, patient, merciful and kind. I fail miserably at these things on a regular basis, so to have a prayer calling this mission to mind is important.
May all of us who have come to see the Face of God be true reflections of His Mercy and Love.
This image is incredible!
I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I know I promised to answer Laura's question yesterday, but as soon as I buckled down to write, I got a call from Vincent's daycare. Poor little guy has a tummy bug, so I needed to pick him up and take him home.
Today, however, Daddy's with him. That means Mommy can answer Laura in peace!
Anyway, in order to understand the answer, I must first explain what the Triduum is. For Catholics, the Triduum is the holiest time in our Liturgical Calendar. It is the most important part of Salvation History as Christ, in those three days, fulfilled the promise of God when He said He would send a Savior who would reconcile humanity to Himself.
The Triduum, thus, becomes Holy Thursday Mass (when we remember the Last Supper), Holy Saturday (when we remember Christ's descent into Hell), through the Easter Vigil and Easter celebrations (when we remember His Glorious Resurrection and triumph over Death).
Anyway, since this is the most sacred part of the year for the Church - the finite point in linear history that somehow encapsulates the timeless Sacrifice of Christ - our Liturgy reflects our solemn, adoring and anguished spirit. We see ourselves, the Church, as dying WITH Christ.
This is also why throughout Lent, things are slowly removed from our Masses. Statues are draped (or even removed), fewer candles are lit, our beautiful "Alleluia" is laid to rest, and floral arrangements are typically absent.
As I explained to my children, something very special happens after Holy Thursday Mass. The priest removes Christ from the tabernacle and processes with Him to a place of repose. This signifies that Christ has begun His Sacrifice (which truly did begin with the moment of Consecration at the Last Supper - more on that in a bit).
The Mass on Holy Thursday does not "end." There is no "Go forth" or "Thanks be to God." There is only the procession of Christ to His place of repose and the silent, prayerful adoration of the faithful that stay watch with Him as He endures His Passion (akin to the Apostles as Christ led them to the Garden of Gethsemane to keep watch as He began His Agony in the Garden).
In fact, to further this point, after the Procession, the Church is stripped bare. Linens are removed from the pulpit, altar, tabernacle, etc. Furniture (like chairs, microphones, lecterns, etc) are taken into the sacristy. Candles aren't just snuffed out - they are removed entirely. Carpets are rolled away. Remaining statues may be taken down. Every movable object is taken away from our sanctuary and all lights (be they candles, spot-lights or chandeliers) are deadened. Our Church, symbolic of the spirit of all the faithful who create Her, dies with Her Master. He who is the Light of the World is consenting to become obscured and entombed.
As His faithful Spouse, we acknowledge our desolation... our mourning... our grief.
On Good Friday, there is "no Mass." Again, this is because technically, the Mass from Holy Thursday has not ended - nor will it until the close of the Vigil on Holy Saturday. Instead, we continue the Mass through Stations of the Cross, Adoration, communal and private meditation, recitation of the Rosary (specifically the Sorrowful Mysteries), Tenebrae etc.
This is to signify that we, the Church, the faithful Bride of Christ, follow Him on His Path towards Salvation. We consent to die with Him in order to take part in His Resurrection.
This moves us to Holy Saturday. On Holy Saturday, we remember in a special way Christ's descent into Hell, Limbo and Purgatory. We remember His Triumphant opening of the Gates of Heaven that were closed against us as a result of Original Sin. There is actually no "liturgy" for Holy Saturday until the vigil. This is a continuation of Christ's Sacrifice which began during Holy Thursday.
Finally, we arrive at our Easter Vigil. This special vigil is held after sundown. This is significant because this darkness is indicative of the spiritual darkness we are experiencing as we await the Light of the World. Again, this vigil does not start with the typical "opening Mass prayers" we're used to. Instead, the priest blesses a special fire which is typically made of Holy Oils from the previous year, salt, and twigs. This special fire is the first light we see and is symbolic of the Resurrection. This light is what's used to light our brand new Paschal Candle (the Christ Candle), and after the Candle is lit, the light begins to spread throughout the Church, from member to member, as a flame is passed between individual candles all are given at the opening of Mass.
As a sacristan who has been at the front of the Church awaiting the Exsultet (when we flip on all the lights, light all the candles, and bust out all the finery we've got to offer), seeing this light slowly spread throughout the entire Church... it's incredible.
Anyway, this is the point in the Liturgical Calendar in which we celebrate and acknowledge Christ's Triumph over Death. The Sacrifice has been complete and Salvation has been granted to us. Through His Offering, we have become reconciled and all the promises of God the Father to His Creation regarding the Messiah have been fulfilled. We rejoice in being reborn through His Death and Resurrection.
As THIS VIGIL MASS commences, we finally are able to hear again the priest's command to "Go Forth" and respond with a jubilant "Thanks be to God!" We acknowledge that the sacred Triduum that marks Christ's Sacrifice has reached its fulfillment, and we take our charge to "Go Forth" with zeal. We are charged to take the message of Salvation to all people who still "live in darkness."
So that, dear Laura, is why the answer to number 11 on the test was "One." There is but one Mass celebrated over 3 days during the Triduum.
As these three days recall the three long days of Christ's consummation by the Fire of His Love, we, too, offer these three days in solidarity with Him.
Judas, too, was ordained a priest.
So the entry from yesterday was a lot more venomous than I had originally meant for it to turn out. I guess I was still a lot more angry and disgusted than I thought.
Anyway, a comment on one of the articles gave me pause. The woman wrote, "Jesus gave Communion to Judas, even knowing that he had betrayed Him, didn't He?"
He did! And He most certainly knew that Judas had already betrayed Him. In fact, as I mentioned before, Louisa Piccarretta described this scene in The 24 Hours of the Passion. As Jesus knelt before Judas to clean his feet, His Heart was torn in agony as He foresaw the end Judas would meet because of his stubborn refusal to ask forgiveness. In Judas, Christ saw all priests who would fall away from their callings. Yet still, He persisted in His blessings, He persisted in allowing Judas to partake of the Eucharist.
Soon after reading this comment, I came across one of Maria Valtorta's visions in which Jesus appears to 500 followers after His Resurrection. Sts. Peter and John are present, and Jesus teaches them the importance of obedience and perseverance. He says to them:
"And remember also that I did not refuse Myself even to Judas of Kerioth… A priest must try to save, by all possible means. And let love always prevail, among the means used to save. Consider that I was not unaware of Judas' horror… But, overcoming all disgust, I treated the wretch as I treated John [the Beloved Disciple]... One must work even then… always… until everything is accomplished."
Honestly, I have no idea how I came across that particular passage save for Divine Providence. In my own arrogance, I had also disregarded Church teaching by reacting with such anger towards Johnson. I think Christ wanted to remind me that I needed a bit more humility and a lot more charity if I wanted to fancy myself a follower of His.
Well played, Good Sir, well played.
So while I'm still disgusted by Barbara Johnson's actions (those actions being her willful attempt to commit a sacrilege and her subsequent lambasting of Father Guarnizo), I no longer wish that she and her hoard of supporters drop off the Catholic radar. Instead of praying for an early bout of Spring Cleaning that sees them all ostracized or relegated to protestant denominations, I should be praying that the Holy Spirit alights in their hearts so that they can see the error of their ways and return to the faithful, Catholic fold.
After all, in the same vision, Jesus stated to the crowd:
And those that for any reason should separate from the Mother Church, would be members cut off, no longer nourished with the mystic blood that is Grace coming from Me, the divine Head of the Church. Like prodigal sons, separated through their own will from the paternal house, in their short-lived wealth and constant and graver and graver misery, they would be blunting their spiritual intellects by means of too heavy foods and wines, and then they would languish eating the bitter acorns of unclean animals until they returned to the paternal house, saying with contrite hearts: "We have sinned. Father, forgive us and open the doors of your abode to us". Then, whether it is a member of a separated Church, or an entire Church - oh! if it were so, but where, when will so many imitators of Me arise, capable of redeeming these entire separated Churches, at the cost of their lives, to make, to remake only one Fold under only one shepherd, as I ardently wish? - then whether it is only one person or an assembly that comes back, open the doors to them.
And may they all feel the Light of the Spirit. May their minds be opened to His Wisdom, and may their egos be enveloped by His Glory. May mine, too.
However, let not this testimony give anyone the opinion that I will no longer strike out against such folly in the future. I still stand behind my opinion that this woman should be barred from the Eucharist until she reconciles herself to the Church through means of a true confession. I still stand behind my opinion that the priest did exactly what he should have done in preventing the sacrilege to occur. I also stand by my opinion that the superiors who shot out an apology should be ashamed of throwing their brother under the bus when he was only acting in the way our Church teaches he must (in protecting the Eucharist from sacrilege and by refusing to allow the public to be led astray by erroneous pastoral example).
May this brave and blessed priest ever feel the smile of Our Lady upon him, and may his superiors learn the error of their ways, seek forgiveness, and move forward with greater faith and solidarity.
So the last couple days have been a flurry of media activity regarding Barbara Johnson and her incredibly presumptuous attempt to partake of the Eucharist at her mother's funeral.
Unsurprisingly, almost every single news outlet paints Father Guarnizo as a heartless bigot who sniffed a gay and decided to make a political statement.
This woman then went on to whine about how she and her neice couldn't both eulogize her mother and how mean Father Guarnizo was by leaving the Church before she could finish waxing philosophical for her audience.
Pathetic - on so many, many levels - pathetic.
1 - You had just met this priest (for the FIRST TIME according to all accounts), and introduced him to your "partner." In two private accounts, supposed witnesses claim you used the word "lover." Considering you're self-proclaimed "Catholic upbringing" you know full-well living in an active homosexual relationship is a mortal sin. Don't be surprised when he bars you from Communion.
2 - The fact that you'd just met this man for the first time surprises me in and of itself. For being such a "devout" Catholic, how exactly did the funeral get put together without seeing him at least once? Sure, mom could've put arrangements together before her death, and sure, the funeral home may have gotten in touch with Fr. Guarnizo in order to ensure he was scheduled for the Mass, but really? You didn't attempt to meet with him beforehand to go over things like readings, share memories of your mother (for homily purposes) or express your desire for more than one eulogy (since eulogies aren't even a part of Catholic Funeral Masses except in cases where the pastor feels generous enough to allow one)?
3 - You attempt playing the martyr who really loves the Church but was just cruelly treated by one of her members in stating "I have gotten email upon email saying, ‘I’m not going back,’ and I say, ‘Please go back, because that man does not represent the Catholic Church.’"
Let me go ahead and stop you right there. This priest is more representative of the Catholic Church than you will ever be. He is not only representative of the Church, he is a hand-selected representative of Christ! He upholds the dogma of our Church and does not attempt bending the rules to suit his lifestyle choices, opinions or feelings. You'd do well to follow HIS example and not that of your own selfish, arrogant and misguided brain.
I wouldn't be nearly as angry with this if she was a non-Catholic. Non-Catholics wouldn't know any better and may very well assume that being in the Eucharistic line is just "what you do."
This woman KNOWS better but arrogantly defies Church teaching because she simply doesn't believe that her lifestyle is mortally sinful.
Fine - don't believe it. No one is forcing you to. But no one is forcing you to be in the Communion line, either. Find a church that opens its doors to perversions, untruths and errors. Don't expect the Church to bend Her teachings to give you warm fuzzies just because you don't agree with Her 2,000 + year old dogma.
THAT is what drives me up a wall. And the fact that this wonderful priest is now being thrown under the bus by his own superiors (because God forbid we hurt the feelings of the homosexual population!) also drives me up a wall. This is NOT a pastorally insensitive thing to do. Nor is it misguided. His duty is to protect the sanctity of the Eucharist and that's exactly what he did. God forbid he gave her the Eucharist (which would be a sacrilege according to our faith). That would be three-fold sin. First, the woman would commit an even graver sin by sullying the Sacrament. Next, the priest would commit the grave sin of comission by being a party to this sacrilege. Worst of all, the priest would then be sinning by leading those who saw this exchange into moral confusion (because they might think this sacrilege to be perfectly acceptable).
Oh, for shame that folks don't realize that the priest protected not only this woman, but himself and all present at the expense of his own person. Shameful, shameful, shameful!
Instead, this ungracious woman lashes out at him to anyone who will listen. Why? Because her over-inflated ego was bruised. Better her ego than her soul and the souls of those would have witnessed it.
Honestly, I hope that anyone who stands in solidarity with her DOES stop considering themselves Catholic. These types of folks do more harm than the atheists or agnostics who rally against us openly. These "Cafeteria Catholics" are the WORST because they spread fallacy and scandal from the inside.
Our beloved Church is heading for a schism. The more that superiors bend to trash like this, the more we hurt ourselves. Pretty soon, there's going to be a reckoning in which true Catholics stand up and say "NO MORE." We need to clean house and rid ourselves of these cancerous members (laity and clergy included). I wish such a step weren't necessary, but there is no doubt in my mind that this will come to a head within 10-15 years.
We also need to do a better job teaching our members the TRUTH of our faith and punishing those who wish to bend that truth to fit their own warped agendas.
Mother of Sorrows, Pray for Us
***Disclaimer - this entry has the capacity to offend / upset sensible Catholics due to outside content.***
I found the following link through Father Z's WDTPRS page. The link will take you to the Huffington Post for a supposedly "tongue-in-cheek" piece by Larry Doyle (of Simpsons / Beavis and Butt-Head fame).
However, when I followed Fr. Z's link to the article in question, I was floored by the absolute disgust he wrote of Catholicism. I saw nothing "humorous" in his prejudiced, anti-Catholic tirade.
This has nothing to do with me "taking this personally" or "reading too much into it." I'm all for poking fun at stuff, and I've heard (and dished) my fair share of Catholic jokes. This, however, has a tone that is completely inappropriate, hostile and indecent.
Just offer up a prayer for Doyle, the fools laughing at this garbage, and those Catholics who commented bad dogma in a weak attempt to defend the faith. Oh, God... help us. We are in such need of guidance and wisdom!
How folks remain blind to anti-Catholic sentiment is beyond me. If this sort of banter had been leveled against any other group, the media would be all over decrying it (regardless of the false "satire" tag it gave itself to hide behind).
Deplorable. Yet we were warned, and for our part, we must take up the Cross of our Chastisement and move forward. Pray for these people. They truly are in need of the Holy Spirit.
Coolest Statue / Triptych EVER
So I stumbled across an incredible set of Marian art as I was looking for a picture to accompany a beautiful prayer I found. I had originally wanted to share the prayer only, but now I want to share the art with you, too!
These incredible works of art seem to be hybrids of statue and triptych. This style of art was apparently popular (at least for Our Lady) in the 15th and 16th centuries.
These pieces are called "Vierge Ouvrante," which roughly translates to "The Opening Virgin." They are also known as "Madonna Shrines."
Images inside these triptych statues include scenes from the Passion, Mysteries of the Rosary, lives of the Saints, and Old Testament stories.
Seriously - aren't these the coolest things ever? I want to commission a new set for myself. Ha ha.
The idea behind these is wonderful. God - the Eternal - is within each of us. However, He was, is and always shall be fully present within Our Lady because of her perfect Fiat. Our Lady, through the Annunciation and Incarnation, became Mother of the Eternal. Within her womb she carried the Fount of Life which cannot be constrained by place or time. Through her, we can know God. Through her, we can find the path to Christ.
Really - I am in love with these!!! I think they're absolutely brilliant!
And before I forget - here's the prayer!
Hail, Mary, beloved Daughter of the eternal Father!
Hail, Mary, admirable Mother of the Son!
Hail, Mary, faithful Spouse of the Holy Ghost!
Hail, Mary, my loving and dear Mother, my powerful sovereign!
Hail, my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul!
Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am all thine. But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou seest in me anything which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and to make thyself the absolute mother of all that is mine. Destroy in me all that may be displeasing to God; root it up and bring it to nought; place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee. Amen.
--by Saint Louis Marie DeMontfort
The power of prayer, trust and Divine Providence!
A wonderful friend of mine, Jean, lent me a rare prayer book for the year. This book is rare because only a few thousand were printed and you cannot find them anywhere. They're not allowed to be printed again until they get a certain "re-approval" from the Church (this process will take a while because the volumes are so large). As a result, these books are highly prized by the faithful, but they cannot be copied or published in any way until we get that final re-approval.
Anyway, I was given a year's time to properly meditate on these prayers. However, she was coming to collect the book yesterday, so I knew I needed to have the last few completed. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish them in time, so I decided to make a copy for myself.
... sigh ...
Yes, I decided to make a copy for myself, fully knowing that it was disobedient to do so. I'm certainly not proud of that, but it's true.
Anyway, as I was running off copies, my conscience was yelling at me the whole time. I realized that if Jesus wanted me to pray these prayers, He'd figure out an honest way for me to come across the book again - even with it being as rare as it is. He never wants us to sin - even with the right intentions. Sin is sin is sin - regardless of motive. Thus, I said, "Okay, Jesus, I trust You. If You want these prayers completed, You'll find me a way."
I promptly closed the book and shredded the pages I had copied.
For lunch, I went to Adoration and attempted to finish out the rest before I saw my friend that night. I got through all but the final prayer. I had run out of time, so I again said, "Jesus, if You want a completed set, You'll find a way."
She arrived and we had ourselves a great time. I had her book ready to return, because she intended to take it with her on a trip. Right before we had dinner, a friend of hers (who I've never met and never talk to) called and told her she had an extra copy of this book that she wanted to give to me. This woman and I only know of each other through Jean, so while we hear of one another, we've never interacted. Yet she was apparently thinking of me and putting together a prayer package that included THAT BOOK.
I did a double take.
Coincidence is a fallacy. All is Divine Providence. EVERYTHING is provided by the loving Hand of God.
My friend said, "Well look, Gina can keep my copy, and when I see you, I'll just pick up that one."
As usual, my trust in Jesus was rewarded. I immediately relayed to my friend what had happened earlier in the day with what must have been the dopiest grin ever.
God is good. He truly, truly is.
I wasn't able to attend Mass early in the morning like I'd hoped. Instead, I had to wait until evening to go, and I had Vince with me as a result. I didn't mind - he was actually being phenomenal. Thank goodness, too, because there wasn't any room for us in our normal spot on account of the PACERS who dropped by to collect their yearly ashes.
The Mass itself was nice. I noticed, however, that we went from being an over-packed house before the Distribution of Ashes to being about 2/3 full as folks simply exited the Church upon reception of the ashes.
I couldn't believe it!
Folks were willing to wait come for ashes, but completely neglected to stick around for JESUS in the Eucharist?
I have to admit being ashamed for them. I just felt awful that Jesus was witnessing this sort of callousness in His people. Ugh. Makes me feel like a jerk for not shaking them all and shouting "You'll wait for ashes, but not GOD? What is WRONG with you?!"
May God forgive us our foolishness...
Vincent was surprised by the ashes. He's used to Father Piotr blessing him, but when he saw Father bless me, too, he whipped his little head around in amazement. His eyes then did a double take when he saw the cross smudged onto my forehead. He quickly realized that he, too, must've had a cross on his head because he immediately tried to feel around for one. Ha ha.
For the rest of the Mass, Vincent kept looking up at my cross as if trying to figure out what it was for. He only tried to touch it once or twice, but after correcting him, he was content to steal glances and smile at it. He again stooped down as I knelt to receive the Eucharist. His newest thing is to dip his little hands into the Holy Water font on the way out the door. Since I always bless him with a little cross on his forehead when we come in, he tries to dip his fingers into the font to then thumb my face.
Instead, I'm trying to teach him to "flick" the water from his hands onto the floor while saying "for the souls in Purgatory." Obviously he doesn't have those words down just yet, but it's never too early to teach them to use sacramentals for others! :)
So tonight was rougher than a sheet of sandpaper across the backside.
Some parish members had a meeting of sorts and my heart just about broke into a million pieces for my pastor. Then those itty bitty pieces took a trip through a meat grinder as I realized that his predicament is not unique... there are priests all over the country going through similar tribulations as they attempt to keep their parishes above water.
Humpf. All I wanted to do the entire time was give him a hug.
Since I wasn't really able to offer much in the way of assistance throughout the meeting, I kept silent and offered my prayers. As frustration began to build, I reached out to Our Lady of Wisdom (whom Father had invoked at opening prayers). As anger and hurt boiled up, I reached out to the Holy Spirit. Oh, but my heart was a calamity unto itself as I realized just how much stress our dear pastors are burdened with as a result of these haphazard mergers.
May Our Lady hug them all close to herself. May the Holy Spirit comfort them with Divine Grace. May their people open their hearts in understanding - our priests do so much more than we realize! God bless them all.
On a happy note, I'll leave a ridiculous picture of one of my favorite priests and I. He's been a wonderful family friend since his deaconate, and did me the honor of presiding over my marriage to John. He also baptized Vince! God willing, he'll baptize any future children we're blessed with. :)
Anyway, as I was visiting my mom before the parish meeting, he surprised us by dropping by! It's always great to see him!
Yeah - we're about as cool as two 8-Tracks at an Apple convention...
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