I have no idea if you guys have seen this or not, but when I read this article, I felt sick to my stomach.
Some anonymous women got together and petitioned the Vatican to allow priests to marry because they are already in relationships with priests. They basically played the victim in crying over their secret lives as mistresses.
Ya know what, ladies? You're not victims. There is no real way to "accidentally fall in love with a priest."
You see a collar, you move on. That's common sense. However, much like those women who ignore wedding rings and then complain when their lovers don't leave their families to continue shacking up with them, common sense doesn't really come into play, does it?
Obviously the priests who participate in these sorts of relationships are also at fault, but as a woman, I am always so angry when I hear of other women being stupid enough to do this sort of thing (with married men, priests, etc).
I mean, c'mon now. This is like running a red light because you thought the cops weren't looking. You've officially caused a five-car pile up because you were too selfish to care about anyone else, and now you're demanding that the officer change the law so that the injury and pain you caused is somehow no longer your fault.
My mind is officially blown by such arrogance.
In their letter, they wrote "Very little is known about the devastating suffering of a woman who is deeply in love with a priest."
Actually, quite a lot is known. Ya know why? Because your ridiculous sob story is the same exact one that's played out in every other marriage plagued by adultery. You are "the other woman." Just because he's a priest doesn't make this fact any less true. You purposefully went after someone who was off-limits. Maybe he even made it easy. Maybe he pursued you. I don't care. You're still wrong for allowing yourself to become entangled in such stupidity. You are no better than the woman who knowingly sleeps with a married man (or the man who sleeps with a married woman). You're both committing adultery and you're both causing one another to be unfaithful to yourselves, your communities, and God.
You will find no sympathy from me in this regard. What you are doing and what you have allowed to happen is evil. You are a pliable pawn being used by satan to take down God's representatives on earth. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves.
Maybe one day the Church will allow Her priests to marry. Until then, be mindful of the incredible sacrifices that these men make on your behalf and be charitable. Do not let yourself be a temptation to them- no matter how innocent your supposed intentions are.
Ugh. Seriously. Just... ugh. You love him, you say? Then respect the fact that he took vows and support him upholding every last one of them.
Pray for your priests, people. And pray for women like this.
Does anyone else feel a bit like characters in a Chicken Little book? Instead of the sky falling, I am constantly hearing "The Church is falling! The Church is falling!" from a swelling underbelly of paranoid Catholics and a growing army of gleeful anarchists.
If you take a look at the media, you'd think the Church was at death's door!
Relax, folks. I assure you, the Church isn't going anywhere. Remember that whole business with Peter getting renamed in front of the giant cave that devoured infants?
Let me refresh your memory, then. Since all four of the Gospels were pretty clear about this, it's obviously important enough for folks to understand.
Once upon a time, Simon (meaning "reed") was following a cool guy named Jesus. Simon wasn't super smart, he certainly wasn't very rich, and he didn't hold major sway in the community. That was okay. He wasn't interested in being the smartest guy in the room. Money didn't hold any power over him, and he didn't aim to have folks do his bidding. He was just a guy who loved Jesus and was willing to follow Him wherever He went - up to and including the Gates of Hell.
That's right, folks! Simon followed Jesus to the Gates of Hell! Believe it or not, this place actually existed in his time. It was located in Caesarea Philippi, and today, it looks like this:
What you're looking at is a giant cave that was carved into a massive chunk of stone. In fact, this giant stone mass housed several caves which, at the time of Jesus, would have been temples dedicated to various deities.
This particular one, however, was dedicated to Pan, god of desolate places (being a lonely little farmer / herder dude isn't the best diety-gig to have). Because his temple had a bit of water running through it, folks would come and sacrifice their infants over the cliff to him where they would either drown or die of blunt force trauma. Thus, because of the grisly sacrificing of such innocence, it was likened to the gates of Hades (even by the Romans).
So Simon followed Jesus all the way to Caesarea Philippi to stand before this giant stone structure that signified death and complete desolation. It was here that Jesus asked a series of silly questions. I'll let the Bible talk from here:
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Good old Simon. His birth name meant reed, something easily bent or even broken by the passing breeze.
Now, however, Jesus blessed him with the name that translates to "large rock." Jesus didn't change Simon's name because He was impressed with Simon's knowledge of Scripture. He didn't change his name because He liked how sinless Simon was. He didn't even change his name because of how faithfully Simon followed Jesus all around the known world.
Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter because name changes signify divine inspiration - a deep, spiritual change that dictates a person's destiny. It's part of the reason we are given new names at Confirmation, too!
Jesus specifically changed Simon's name to Peter because He asked a question with an answer that only could've been arrived at through divine inspiration. Simon was open to the movement of the Spirit, and this is why he was chosen as the cornerstone of the Church.
On Peter's shoulders the Church would be built. When Jesus goes on and explains that He will give him (after the Ascension) the "keys to the kingdom," He was referencing Isaiah 22:22-23.
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder;
For those unfamiliar, the "key" wasn't just a symbol of power the king bestowed onto his most trusted servant. The key was an actual key that could open or lock all the doors in the kingdom (grain storehouses, vaults for gold, even the very temple doors). Whoever wielded the key was given the king's authority (with his approval, of course) while the king is absent. The servant then went about doing the king's bidding by opening grain storehouses for the hungry, the vaults to pay for kingdom necessities, making pronouncements, etc.
Jesus was telling Peter that his openness to divine inspiration announced him as this highly trusted servant. And thus, on Peter's shoulders, the glory of his ancestors (the Jews) and his descendants / offspring (the Catholic Church / various sects of Christianity) will hang on his leadership. PETER is the cornerstone on which Christ's Church is built.
If you continue reading Isaiah (and I love this), the original servant spoken of is named Eliakim. Verses 24-25 speak of Eliakim's eventual downfall and the institution of another servant. This servant is Peter, and when the Lord speaks, it is Jesus who does the speaking. How awesome is that?
Anywho, Peter is set as the everlasting servant. The gates of the hell (Death) shall not prevail against the Church set forth under his guidance. Jesus entrusts this destiny to Peter because he has proven his openness to divine inspiration. Peter proves himself as the faithful, humble servant who does not put his own "wisdom" above that of God the Father.
THAT is the sign of a great servant.
So why do I bring this up at all?
Because for all the bellyaching folks are making about Pope Francis, they need to keep in mind that he is a servant. He is a servant hand-selected by divine inspiration to "keep the keys" until Christ comes back for the 2nd Coming.
You trust Jesus, right? You trust that what he said 2 millenia ago still rings true today, yes? Then quit your bellyaching and trust that when He said He wouldn't let His Church crumble, He's not gonna let His Church crumble.
The Church is His eternal bride. He's not going to forsake us. We'll be persecuted and crucified, this is true. We must, after all, follow faithfully in His Footsteps. But we must remember that with a death fashioned after Christ's comes a resurrection as well.
We have been told that the time is coming for this great persecution and crucifixion, but we're not there yet. Even if we were, your job isn't to head for the hills or apostatize. Your job is to keep your oil lamps filled and burning brightly. Your job is to be a beacon of Christ to others. Your job is to continue praying for and supporting the Church.
I am deeply saddened for and shamed by those Catholics who are renouncing the faith simply because this pope doesn't do things the way they expect. Our faith goes beyond a man in a white cassock. Our faith is the Resurrected God-Man who consents to give Himself to us as food in the Eucharist... as mercy in the Confessional... as divine royalty in Heaven.
I'm also saddened for and shamed by those who are gleefully dancing over the tears of those Catholics who mourn the loss of faith in their communities and families. Things may look bleak from where you're standing. You might delight in the passing of laws that deride the Church and force Her members to face fierce punishment and humiliation, but we know better.
We've witnessed Our Lord upon the Cross. We've seen His Divine Face, even as blood and spittle made Him almost unrecognizable. We've recognized that through this torturous sacrifice, evil was conquered and hope for our eternal inheritance was restored. Laugh now, but we are no strangers to persecution.
Know this. We are the Church that Christ founded. We are His Body, we are His Bride. He will not allow us to be destroyed.
So to you Catholic Chicken Littles running around freaking out about the state of the Church, relax. Do your part by praying, sacrificing and being the person God meant for you to be. Do not worry about the pope shirking his mantum or the local priest singing One Bread, One Body. Unless you witness an actual sacrilege or liturgical abuse happening, try not to freak out and just turn to Christ in prayer. Don't spread paranoia and upset by lamenting the terrible state the Church is in because Father So-and-So allows women to distribute Communion.
You folks know I hate that. It's one of my biggest pet peeves. But ya know what? I don't deny myself participation in the one, true and Catholic liturgy because of bone-headed mistakes. Also, even if the priest in question did it PURPOSEFULLY KNOWING he was in the wrong, I'm not going to let his sin cut off my avenue to Christ, because even if he was stained with a thousand mortal sins, Father Pro-Women Eucharistic Ministers is still Christ's representative on Earth and is able to consecrate whereas I am not.
To you Christian Chicken Littles hoping beyond hope that the evil Catholic Church is finally crumbling, sorry. You guys are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We still pray for you at every.single.Mass. You are our offspring. Do not neglect your Mother.
To those of you who are foaming at the mouth waiting to ravage the remnants of a Church on fire, don't hold your breath. Seriously.
Here I go again.
I'm about to gush about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish for the billionth time. A quick search pulled the following entries:
Those are just the ones I found doing a quick search. I know I've written about this parish and its pastor plenty of times. In fact, should MY pastor ever figure out I've got a blog, he might be inclined to think I'm playing favorites. *Grin*
Truth be told, you guys know I love my priests - all of them. And I view each of them as gifts. I adore my pastor, but I try not to write about my actual home parish for privacy reasons.
That being said, I LOVE this priest, and I love the community he has built up in Collingswood. If you're ever lucky enough to find yourself in S. Jersey and in need of an evening Mass, stop on by. Fr. John will welcome you with open arms and an educational homily that stirs both your intellect and your heart.
God bless him, he's a true pastor in this regard. He takes time to teach his parishioners, and he teaches straight from his super-sized heart.
He doesn't just teach during the homily, either. He pointed out the liturgical colors of the 4th Sunday at the beginning of Mass, and also touched on why the readings and music were thematically different from those we hear the rest of Lent.
After all, we've now reached the midway point. Though we still face the night, we see dawn on the horizon. The light of the Resurrection - Christ's triumph over sin and death - is awaiting us should we persevere in His Way just a little longer.
The music director chose an entrance song I'd never heard before. I snapped a photo of the missal after Mass so I wouldn't forget it. Have any of you (barring Frank K. or his wife who, I feel, have a terribly unfair advantage - ha!) ever heard of it?
I thought it was a great balance between the solemness of Lent and the hopeful supplication we offer for the promise of the Resurrection. I absolutely BUTCHERED the music (sorry, Congregation), but I was appreciative of the thoughtfulness put into the selection.
The Recessional Hymn was a favorite from childhood - Lead Me, Lord. All you trads out there, try not to roll your eyes too much at me. I enjoy uplifting songs at the end of Mass, especially when they are warranted and flow with the message of Mass. This was perfect.
Offertory / Communion songs were also fitting. Kudos to the music director - really. In truth, he always does a great job, but last night's selections were just so spot on that I couldn't help but say a prayer of thanks for his subtle highlighting of theme.
But back to the pastor. His homily was STELLAR. He's a homilist who can happily run on for 20 minutes. Best part? He's a homilist you don't mind listening to if he does stretch his time. I love that he's not worried about keeping within a restrictive time limit. He's not afraid to expound or share anecdotes that color God's movements in his life. He shares what's in his heart and what's in his heart is a complete reflection of the Gospel message.
He made a great point about "the poor" last night. So often we talk about "the poor" during Lent, offering prayers and alms for "the poor." We need to shift our view and recognize them as "our poor." These people belong to us. They are our responsibility and God gifted them to us as ways to act in the name of Divine Providence. We can and must reach out with love to these brothers and sisters. I just found that reflection to be beautiful.
Alright, I'm gonna stop now because I'll just wax poetic for another mindless 10 paragraphs. I'll spare you, but be warned... I'll likely be bringing up BTC in the future. BTC and Mary, Mother of the Church (St. Rita's Parish) are my two buddies. If I'm not at my home parish (which I also love), I'm hanging out with one of them.
I'm so excited that Andy (one of our super talented musicians and apparently the photographer for the homily) finally posted this to Facebook. I've now stolen it to share with you guys!
You can see our beautiful nativity scene with all the children crowded around Fr. Piotr as he shared the story of Jesus' birth. The kids can't even fit into the frame. They spilled out a good amount on all sides of this picture.
Vincent is just beyond the bottom right side of the photo, but that's okay. I've got that photo tucked into my memory for years to come.
This photo just makes me smile. My entire heart is happy when I see this. I love our pastor, and I love that he does this with the children each year. We are blessed to have him in our parish. <3
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.
EDIT: I encourage everyone to read through the commentary as well. So many great points have been raised that are worthy of your attention. They are critical of my viewpoint, but deservedly so. I think this is an extremely worthwhile discussion, so please avail yourselves of the various perspectives. And as always - don't forget to ask the Holy Spirit for His Thoughts, either! *Grin*
Some of you may already be aware of this, but for those of you who aren't, Pope Francis made the decision to have the Mass of the Lord's Supper outside St. Peter's Basilica this Holy Thursday.
I'll be honest. I'm not happy about this. I'm not happy about this at all.
Before you start calling me a Pope Francis hater, let me explain.
Holy Thursday Mass is the kickoff of our most sacred season - Triduum. This is the Mass in which we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders - two Sacraments that exist for one another. Without one, the other cannot exist. Priests are ordained specifically to bring the Eucharist to their people, and the Eucharist exists only on account of those men blessed to be ordained for the duty.
Holy Thursday Mass is no thing to trifle with. Being such a sacred and blessed time in our history, this specific celebration deserves to be treated in the most dignified and respectful manner. Offering this Mass in St. Peter's is what has been done as tradition because, frankly, this Mass is worthy of St. Peter's. If no other Mass is offered in St. Peter's for the rest of the year, THIS ONE SHOULD BE.
I mean, if the Church dictates that Catholic marriage ceremonies not take place outside a church, how is it suddenly OK to have THE MOST IMPORTANT MASS OF THE YEAR in a juvenile prison?!
I get what he's trying to do. He's really big into humility and publicly showing folks that it's necessary and important to care for "the least among us. I'm all for that!
I am not, however, all for neglecting to pay Christ and His Sacraments homage in the manner dictated to us by Tradition (one of our three pillars of Church Authority). I feel this is a misstep on the part of our new Pontiff. It is really disappointing to me. As a Church, God gifted us things like the Basilica of St. Peter specifically so we COULD celebrate with splendor the very special graces afforded to us through the Eucharist and Holy Orders.
I can't help but think he's a little too gung-ho with this whole "Let's toss all tradition aside so I can prove to the public that as the newly elected leader of the Church, I turn away from finer things and ignore past traditions" in an attempt to regain the trust of a very jaded and unhappy world.
Again, I don't think his reasoning is terrible. I really don't. I think we really do need someone to stand up and put an end to the ridiculousness going on in the Church. That being said, we should not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
We're talking about JESUS and His institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. This is Holy Thursday Mass.. the beginning of our Triduum - the opening Mass that sets the stage for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. To offer it in a detention center where you'd only fit a handful of people (successfully closing off the service to the crowds that would have been able to gather in St. Peter's) and replacing the retired priests with children to have their feet washed... I just feel like this is going three steps too far on the "Look how humble and willing to buck tradition I am, so don't worry, the Church will be back to its humble and poor-loving self soon" scale.
Holy Father, I'm praying for you because you've got quite the job to do. I pray you're able to clean up the mess you've been left and I'm still hoping your intentions on this are pure and true. Your decision, however, has truly, truly unsettled me. My heart is not at ease.
And I realize I'm the odd man out for calling out this decision since your reasons seem so justifiable. You want to serve the "least among us" and the societal "rejects." You choose troubled children, and how can anyone take issue with such an endearing and gentle display of charity?
I get that I'm in the minority on this, but I can't help but express my discontent, especially given that the washing of the feet is an act Jesus used specifically to prepare and ordain his chosen 12 for their priestly duties. The tradition of washing the feet of retired priests was a beautiful symbol of and testament to this fact!
And also keep in mind Our Lord's appreciation for the woman's actions at Bethany. She poured the entire contents of extremely expensive perfume over Christ to anoint Him. Judas grumbled at her "wastefulness," but Jesus defended her for her actions. She was blessed with something special by God, and she wanted to give back without thought to cost. She simply wanted to offer the finest of what she had to He who had given her so much.
This is a righteous action in the Eyes of the Lord. This is not wasteful and it is not prideful and it is not arrogant. It is taking the gifts God granted and using them to shower splendor and blessings back upon Him. All that we have - all that we are - are meant to honor and glorify the Lord. She did just that, even though some accused her of extravagance.
Oh, Holy Father, my heart breaks at the thought of relegating this most sacred Mass to a jail cell that is barren of sacred relics, sacred artwork, sacred vessels, and even the legions of faithful who would gather to celebrate the Lord's Supper. If we do not allow for such a thing to occur with marriages, how can we allow such a thing to happen for Holy Thursday Mass?
In a place that is already barren of Catholicism, how will those children come to understand the importance of the procession after Holy Thursday Mass where the sanctuary is stripped of its ornamentation, artwork and finery... sentenced to suffer the same death and tomb of Her Eternal Bridegroom? These traditions are in place because they are important... they are educational... and they are pleasing to God because this is the manner in which He saw fit to remind us of His Sacrifice so that we might grow closer to His Heart of Love.
The thought of this brings actual tears to my eyes. This seems wrong. Everything about this seems wrong, wrong, wrong. My heart cannot quiet its echoing cry of discontent.
See that incredibly adorable priest over there? That's Fr. John Wendrychowicz. Well, he was blessed with the title of Monsignor, so he's really Msgr. John.
Anyway, today I learned that Msgr. John passed away.
Working in the Archdiocese means I get the death notices as they are shot off from our Communications office. Seeing his name on the notice felt like a punch to the gut.
I knew Msgr. John from my days as a Dougherty student. I never had him as a teacher, but he was routinely the celebrant at Masses, was ALWAYS around for Confession, and very often found in the chapel during lunch-time Eucharistic services.
He was such a kind, gentle priest. I was always sorta shy around him because he seemed so holy. I'm not shy around anyone, but I was definitely bashful around him. It was through no fault of his own. He was such a sweetheart, but I just felt very, very... I don't want to say unworthy, because that's the wrong word. I guess uncertain of myself is proper. As a result, I just remained silent and smiled a lot at him.
Anyway, he once gave me great advice in the confessional - advice I still go by to this day. He was always a wise confessor, and I appreciated that he was always - ALWAYS - so kind and gentle. Again, though, I kept my appreciation to myself. It slipped out in smiles and nods as we passed each other in the hall, but I never worked up the nerve to tell him how amazing I thought he was.
Until a few weeks ago.
He happened to call into my office, and I was lucky enough to pick up the phone. He introduced himself and I actually felt my heart jump. I blurted out, "As in Fr. John Wendrychowicz from Cardinal Dougherty???"
IMMEDIATELY I felt my cheeks burn as I realized how ridiculous it was for a secretary to blurt out a question like that when the poor guy's attempting to connect with one of his brother priests.
I could hear the confusion in his voice as he prepared to figure out who I was when he answered, "Why yes, I was at Cardinal Dougherty for a time."
I apologized, but then said, "Father, I'm so glad I picked up your call today! I was a student there - graduated class of 2001. I never said it then, but I've always wanted to tell you how wonderful of a priest I think you are. We were so lucky to have you back then."
He laughed and said, "Well thank you! I'm glad I called you today, too."
I felt so good right then because God had let me make up for all those times I hadn't said a word to him. As I passed Msgr. John over to my boss, I actually turned to my coworker Megan - super excited - because I had gotten to speak with him.
So today, when I heard news that he had passed, I was terribly saddened that we lost such a wonderful priest. However, in the same breath I uttered "Oh no... no... that's terrible!" I also said, "Well good for him."
My coworker, Russ, happened to be next to me when I said that and he said, "Wha?"
And I responded, "Yeah. Good for him. Can you imagine the Christmas celebration he's gonna get to experience this year?"
So even though I shed a few tears for him (and his parishioners as he was an active pastor when he passed), I knew that his soul would be enjoying the splendor of Heaven in time for Christmas. So if everyone would be so kind as to offer a prayer or two his way, I'd appreciate it. I really do hope Our Lady came to collect his soul, herself. He was a true representative of Christ, and I'm grateful for the blessing of both knowing him, and being able to tell him just how much I appreciated him before he met his Creator.
Bless the Lord for His goodness.
To the wonderful person who gift-wrapped this for me today - you are amazing. To the priest who braved his congregation to deliver this necessary homily - may he be blessed a thousand-fold. Obviously this message is one that resonates for it to have spread so quickly. Well done, Father. Well done.
I was tasked with calling priests today. Lots and lots of priests.
It. Was. AWESOME!
I actually thanked my coworker for dropping what everyone else thinks is "crap work" into my lap because it meant that I'd be talking to priests. More specifically, though, I'd be saying "goodbye" to these priests.
This meant they'd also be saying "goodbye" to me.
And I dunno about the rest of you, but in my experience, almost every single priest I've had the pleasure of speaking with has typically ended their goodbye with a "God Bless you."
So I happily began making my calls with the excited knowledge that I was about to be inundated with about 50 priestly blessings!!! One of my coworkers actually shook his head and laughed at my enthusiasm saying, "The strangest things make you happy."
*Grin* He's right. But I don't think being excited about a priestly blessing is strange. It might not be "normal" considering society's current disdain for anything religious, but a priestly blessing is still something incredibly special - even if the priest giving it is passing it along mechanically.
So off I go making my calls. Imagine my surprise when the first, second, third... tenth phone call I make is closed with a simple "goodbye."
I was so confused.
Out of the 50 or so phone calls I made, I got maybe 5 blessings.
I voiced my surprise to one of my coworkers. I mean, if I had the awesome ability to dole out priestly blessings to people, I'd be doing it all the time! I love being able to give something to folks that makes them happy. It's the reason why I keep a well-stocked candy jar on my desk.
I've always got SOMETHING to give in order to brighten another's day. My coworkers all thoroughly enjoy my candy jar. In fact, most swing by my desk at least 5 times a day in order to snag a box of Nerds or a Tootsie midget.
If candy makes us happy, how much MORE happy should a priestly blessing make us? How much more excited should we be to receive such a priceless treasure?
And considering how happy and satisfied offering random candy makes me, how much more so would I be to offer a priestly blessing to people? I really WOULD be handing them out like candy!!!
To be able to offer those blessings is a gift. To be able to receive it is a blessing, too. I have to admit being thoroughly bummed by the lack of blessings doled out over those 50+ calls. I wasn't sad that I didn't get to stock-pile blessings, mind you. I was sad at the knowledge that if these priests weren't doling them out to me, they might not be doling them out to others, either.
And that's a whole lot of wasted opportunity to help Divine Providence along.
Maybe I've just been super spoiled by wonderful priests my entire life. My current pastor always closes every conversation with a blessing. My family's main priest-friend always closes every conversation with a blessing. The random sprinkling of priests I've needed to speak with over the years have always closed conversations with a blessing. Even the wonderful man I went to school with (ordained a few years ago) used to close our conversations with a blessing.
I've either been INCREDIBLY lucky to know priests who know the value of their blessing, or I' was incredibly UNlucky in those 50+ calls I made.
I dunno. I admit being slightly unsettled by the thought. That being said, I was super grateful for all those priests who've given their blessings over the years. I actually wanted to call up a few of them, but I decided against it. I didn't want to call attention to the fact and make them feel self-conscious about it. I'm glad their blessings are second-nature. :)
One of my new favorite people in the world asked me a great question this morning.
We had been talking about using three fingers for the Sign of the Cross about a week ago. It's something a lot of people either don't know or have simply forgotten over time.
However, after talking about it, he's more aware. I told him to look out for the priest at the end of Mass to bless with his three fingers raised because the priest acknowledges that the blessing is actually coming from the Trinity (God) and he is simply an instrument of His Blessing.
My friend then said, "Well why do they use their whole hand when they bless the bread and wine at Mass?"
I said, "That's a great question! They use their whole hand because they aren't really blessing the bread and wine; Christ is."
Since the priest acts in persona Christi, we understand (as faithful Catholics) that the priest, though present, is simply a vessel through which Jesus, Himself, comes to Consecrate.
The priest calls Christ from Heaven to consecrate. Only God can make God. Thus, the priest, being endowed with the privilege and responsibility to call forth Christ from Heaven, doesn't create God from bread and wine. He calls forth Christ and gives himself over to Him for the benefit of his people. Thus, when the priest blesses using all of his fingers, we understand that it is really Christ doing the consecration. It is Jesus who creates Himself in place of the bread and wine.
And that, my friends, is why the hand gesture is different during consecration. THAT is why the priest uses his whole hand. It's because he's allowing Christ to utilize the physical form of his body to enable Christ to pass along His Sacred Blessing.
Ah - to be a priest is to consent to a daily form of the Annunciation. Each time he says Mass, he briefly contains within himself a bit of the divinity that Mary must have acknowledged when she said "Fiat" and opened herself to the mystery of the Incarnation. Her consent to allow God to use her physical body for His greatest blessing parallels nicely with that of the priest sacrificing his physical body to allow God to manifest the mystery of the Eucharist.
And upon completion of this mystery, he (again, in persona Christi) offers this Sacrifice up to God the Father to bear forth salvation (or more rightly, bear us forth to the gift of Salvation). This is why the priest lifts the chalice and patten (or ciborium, I guess). Christ, in the person of the priest, offers Himself to His Father at the Last Supper. It's why the priest suddenly changes to first-person pronouns, too.
Our theology is so deep - so beautiful - that I could happily meditate on it for hours. EVERYTHING is meaningful. EVERYTHING is a reflection of our faith.
Never forget that.
Written by a Muslim professor who was friends with this saintly priest, a call for victory comes... but not through violence or retaliation. Instead, this wise man understands that victory comes through prayer... through the unflinching dedication to truth and love.
Bless not only this man and this priest, but all those in Iraq - Christian or otherwise - who cling fast to this hope.
Read the brief letter here, and remember to pray for our Suffering Church in Need.
Long time readers of this blog are familiar with Fr. Trad (short for Traditional). You may remember him from such entertaining posts as "An Impromptu Confession Sans-Stole" and my very first memory of him (and his parish) in "New Church."
Well, you are in for a real treat today!!! Not only am I going to reveal Fr. Trad's identity, I'm going to give you a sneak peek into his beautiful church and tell you how you can experience Fr. Trad in the comfort of your own home!
As is typical for Holy Days of Obligation, I attended this parish for their evening mass (my parish doesn't offer evening mass unless it's a vigil). This is also the parish with the beautiful Adoration Chapel that I usually attend.
Anyway, as soon as I stepped foot through the doors, I was overcome with awe. Everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - was meticulous. Flowers were everywhere, banners for Our Lady were hung high, her gorgeous statue was bathed in candlelight, and Father was already busy censing the church.
I know I've said this about a bazillion times, but I LOVE THIS PRIEST! He's traditional and he's super Marian. He spares no expense attending to Our Lady, and it shows in everything he does. It shows in everything that the parishioners do as a result.
There's an anonymous saying that this blessed priest reminds me of. It goes:
If the priest is a saint, his people will be holy. If the priest is holy, his people will be good. If the priest is good, his people will be fair. If the priest is fair, his people will be mediocre. If the priest is mediocre, his people will be bad.
Priests are meant to be a step above us in their example of holiness. They're meant to draw us closer to God by, in fact, being closer to God through purity of heart. This man exemplifies this for me, and it shows in how reverent his flock acts during Mass.
I'm always struck by how in-sync the lectors / ministers are... how attentive the altar servers are... how unassuming even the choir is (though their music is phenomenal). Considering how many parishes I've been to that have lectors brassly refusing to reverence the Blessed Sacrament, that have Extraordinary Ministers acting like the Communion line is some sort of popularity test, etc, I fully appreciate a cohesive parishioner base that understands the Mass is a prayer meant to worship God... not a place to showcase their presumed skill-set.
Anyway, I decided after Mass that I needed to come back and finally snap some photos of this church to share with you. One day I might do the same for my current home parish, but for issues of privacy I'd rather not at this point.
The reason I'm brazenly posting all of this knowing it will "out" Fr. Trad's identity is because I just learned that he is on YouTube! All of his homilies are there, so I emphatically suggest you check out his page! His real name is Fr. Carmel, and though he uses a cane to get around, he is a true warrior for Christ. I imagine he might try to politely shove St. Michael out of the way when he gets to Heaven so he could serve as Our Lady's personal bodyguard. Ha ha!
I wanted to give you this fuller appreciation for Fr. Carmel before I showcase his beautiful church. Why? Because a beautiful church is just a building. The REAL Church is made up of the priests and parishioners that work to make that building beautiful and holy. So with that in mind, enjoy the slideshow. Keep this priest in your prayers. Keep all priests in your prayers. May they all strive to live their vows faithfully, and may they all rely on the intercession of Our Lady in so gracious and attentive a manner. Bless them.
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