Sunday, July 24, 2011
On Sunday morning when I left church, I found a little slip of paper tucked into the windshield wiper of my van, and then noticed that every car in the parking lot had the same little piece of paper in the windshield.
The slip read, "You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" Exodus 20:4
It was clearly a dig on the Catholic faith and the fact that we use statues to remind us of Jesus, the Blessed Mother and the Saints. I doubt that the message on the windshields did very much to change hearts away from the faith. Every Catholic knows that we don't worship the statues, and that we don't even worship the saints that they represent, but simply venerate the saints and use the statues as reminders of the holy people who lead us to God, and we recognize that these holy men and women who have gone before us are deeply loved by God so much and that He will surely listen to their requests, and so we ask the saints for their assistance in praying to God for our needs.
So on that very same day in which my faith was quietly questioned by an anonymous slip of paper, I was very proud to participate in a celebration of Catholic faith where we honored our Eucharistic Lord in union with those very same saints whom we revere with statues, flowers, candles and prayer. Together with my family and Roses for Our Lady I attended Festa Italiana a cultural and faith-filled annual celebration in Milwaukee. At Festa, several Italian Catholic societies bring out the various statues of Italian saints that had been preserved from Our Lady of Pompeii Church before it was torn down in 1967 to make a freeway, and carry them in a Eucharistic Procession to honor our Lord.
Sunday Morning at Festa begins with a beautiful and moving Mass with Archbishop Listecki that is attended by nearly 10,000 people and is followed by the Eucharistic Procession throughout the Festival grounds with all of the statues from the former church, as well as Roses for Our Lady's statue of Our Lady of Fatima, and ends with the Archbishop blessing the statues and then offering Benediction.
Roses for Our Lady is the only non-Italian group that is invited to participate in the procession each year. Our statue of Our Lady of Fatima is not from the former Italian Church but was from our founding priest, Fr. Thaddeus Bryl (+) who founded Roses for Our Lady in 1980. It was a great honor for our group to be invited. But the greatest honor of all was to process with so many devoted Catholics throughout the Festa Grounds while praying the rosary and following our Eucharistic Lord. And although the statues we processed with were made of plaster and paint, the holy saints that they represented were very much there with us in spirit, and together, we were all following Our Lord Jesus Christ in worship and adoration for Him alone. It was a beautiful occasion, a wonderful celebration of faith, and I look forward to participating again for many years to come!