Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Doors Open Milwaukee/Calvary Cemetery Chapel

Milwaukee has so many treasures! When Historic Milwaukee offers Doors Open Milwaukee, an annual event which offers the opportunity to get behind-the-scenes views of the most beautiful architectural gems in the city, including many Catholic churches, it's almost impossible to choose which of the 150 historic buildings to visit.  One site that I definitely wanted to visit was the Calvary Cemetery Chapel.  The Chapel, which had fallen into disrepair and had been badly damaged by vandals, was in danger of being torn down by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1992, but a group now known as the Friends of Calvary Cemetery petitioned to save and restore the building.  What a gift the Friends have given to our city in saving and working to restore this landmark!  After perusing my snapshots below, why not visit the Friends of Calvary Cemetery website for more in-depth details on the project as well as many more amazing pictures?  

The Chapel at the top of the hill

The chapel is surrounded by the graves of local Jesuits.
I love the unique circular arrangement of the headstones.

The interior ceiling.  The windows all need replacing.

The remains of the high altar.

An empty rose window.

This is all that's left of the statuary after vandals destroyed them.

The only remaining grave in the crypt belongs to Fr.Idziego Tarasiewicza,
the first pastor of St. Casimir Church in Milwaukee.

Natural skylights between the crypt and the upper chapel.

A view of the cemetery from the chapel. What unique arrangements of the tombstones!  I love the half-circle!

This was in the cement on one of the steps.  It must be a logo for the construction company.
I just found it to be sweet and photo-worthy.

Following the cemetery we enjoyed a humorous and historical visit to Best Place at Pabst Brewery where we discovered King Gambrinus, the legendary Patron Saint of Beer!  (story)   We also learned that the name Pabst means Pope.  So, should we welcome Pope Francis to the United States with a Pabst?  No, I don't think so.


We discovered over-sized lounge furniture at the Milwaukee City Hall, which at one time had been the tallest building in the United States.  The boys just couldn't resist a photo-bomb opportunity!




We can hardly wait for next year's Doors Open Milwaukee for more historical fun and adventure!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Films That Move the Soul



The talented people at Ahava Productions, under the direction of Erin Berghouse, have created soul-stirring films that "reaffirm the depth and beauty of the Catholic Faith."  Their most recent endeavor is a short film created to benefit Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee.  Original music, written by Erin Berghouse and performed by Luke Spehar, accompanies the breathtaking images that showcase the beauty of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, the surrounding natural beauty of the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the brave and holy men who are studying for the priesthood in Milwaukee.  Take a few minutes to enjoy the film.  Then share it with others!  The creators of the film and the staff at the seminary ask that you pray a Hail Mary for the people with whom you share the film and for the seminary staff and students, as well.  You can be sure that I am praying a Hail Mary for each one of you who read this post!

You can view the seminary film below or at this link.

After you have enjoyed the seminary film, take a minute to visit the Ahava Productions website to learn more about this amazing organization and to order their series of films, Crux, Kenosis and Blaze, featuring Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana.  Each film is beautifully orchestrated to inspire and educate.  It's easy to download or purchase a DVD to share with friends, family and your parish!  You will love them!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Birthday Party for the Blessed Mother-UPDATED

Roses for Our Lady in Milwaukee has an annual tradition of celebrating the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a Mass or Holy Hour and an outdoor Eucharistic Rosary Procession each year. This year that celebration took place at Old St. Mary in downtown Milwaukee.

We are blessed to be joined by the Dominican Sisters, and this year they shared the facebook post with details of the event with the caption "Let's party!"  Doesn't that make you smile?  And it really is a party; a party that sends the devil running, as Fr. Tim Kitzke, Vicar General for the Urban Ministry in the City of Milwaukee and Spiritual Advisor for Roses for Our Lady, told us during his homily.

This year our procession walked right past a downtown location where a gentleman's strip club is being proposed.  Fr. Tim has been working hard to fight against that club being allowed a license, and has been asking for the help and prayers of everyone who attends Mass at Old St. Mary.  As our procession moved past the empty building of the proposed club we paused to pray a decade of the rosary there, and then Fr. Tim blessed the building with Our Lord in the monstrance.  At the very instant that he blessed the building, the church bells rung out.  It was a powerful moment of prayer! Fr. Tim said that he felt that the ringing of the bells was a sign from God.  Let's continue to keep the devil on the run as we invoke Our Lady's assistance in all that we do!

UPDATE:  The Milwaukee Common Council voted 3-2 against granting a license to the Gentleman's Club on September 17th.  Much thanks is due to Fr. Tim and all who worked and prayed to keep it away from our downtown neighborhood so close to Old St. Mary and St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, and most of all, thanks be to God for all of His blessings.  Story here and here.

(All photos courtesy of Jazmin Trujillo)













Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pray With Me-A Book Review



In the work of raising children, I've always thought it best to take all of the help I can get.  I spend an awful lot of time down on my knees imploring the Lord to sanctify my family and recently my prayers became one step closer to being answered through a lovely little book written by Grace Mazza Urbanski, the Director of Children's Ministry for the Apostleship of Prayer.  

In Pray with Me, Seven Simple Ways to Pray with Your Children, Grace reveals meaningful ways to introduce prayer to the children in your charge.  Through humorous and touching anecdotes along with specific suggestions she shows how your family can move one step closer to heaven each day by incorporating different forms of prayer into your daily routine.  I find having several choices to be very appealing because some might work better than others at different stages of my children's lives.

It didn't take me long to read through Grace's inspiring book and when I was through, I felt certain that my family and I could easily work some new prayer routines into our daily lives.  I was most impressed with the chapter on silence because silent prayer, and silence in general, is certainly something that is lacking in my life.  Wouldn't the Lord be surprised to find that the Bender household is suddenly communicating with less commotion?

I found the final chapter, Praying with the Apostleship of Prayer, to be the most inspiring. In this chapter, Grace shares a story about Sophia, a three-year-old girl who sacrificed her juice as a prayer for her grandfather who had surgery.  Grace poignantly points out that "Neither Sophia nor I was present at Jesus' crucifixion, but her sacrifice of juice for her grandpa pulls us back in time.  No matter how microscopic the scale might be, when I watch Sophia walk away from the juice box queue, I see Jesus offering his life for me."

Pray with Me is a beautiful book, from the cover to the very last page, and when you read it you will be inspired and encouraged to work at nurturing a close and prayerful relationship between your children and God.  Pray with Me can be purchased at Ave Maria Press.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Saints of Summer

Where do the summer days go?  It seems as though we blink and they're gone.  The busyness of summer has kept me away from the computer, but it hasn't kept God's saints and holy ones away from my heart.  Here's a few beautiful ways that I found God's grace this summer.

I was blessed to take every Wednesday off from work so that I could spend some quality girl time with my daughter, Mary, before she made the leap into high school.  We spent many a lovely day together riding a tandem bike (it's harder than we'd imagined), searching for sea glass, and rummaging through antique shops.

A bicycle built for two with a lovely Lake Michigan view.


We had a blast trying on vintage hats!


Sweet Mother Mary, I love you!

At one antique shop we found this beautiful statue of my Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe. She had a bunch of purses and junk piled up in her arms so I had to clear that away for her. Then I noticed that the picture propped in front of her was of a man flashing a work of art with the caption "Expose yourself to art." So I had to turn that around to face the wall. My Mother doesn't want to look at that! They were selling the statue for the ridiculously low price of $125. I should have paid it and brought her home with me so she wouldn't have to be treated with so much disrespect. After all, who else tells me "Am I not here, your Mother? Are you not under the shadow of my protection?"  I was so grateful that a friend of mine was able to go and rescue her and is now finding many blessings in her home with Our Mother's presence there.



Marquette Hall mirrored in the stained glass windows of The Church of the Gesu

The Holy Spirit will overshadow you.

I'm blessed to walk the Marquette College Campus every day on my lunch break. The bells at Marquette Hall ring out the Salve Regina and my heart sings along. I marvel at the sight of the Marquette Hall tower reflected in the Gesu windows and each time I see it I tell myself to bring my camera so I can capture the image forever. But when I leave my office I always forget to bring it...until one spectacularly sunny and beautiful day when I was able to capture the image above.  The bonus: I took a picture of the outside of the stained glass window of Our Lady and didn't notice the gull (that looks like a dove of the Holy Spirit) flying in the reflection until I got back to my office and looked over my pictures. A perfect overshadowing!

Source
Schoenstatt Shrine
One day as I was driving home from work, I saw the most beautiful sight and wish I could have pulled over to take a picture. (I found the picture above on pinterest and it looked very much like the scene I witnessed.) There, walking across the busy Wisconsin Avenue bridge, were 12 Schoenstatt sisters carrying the Rosary Campaign flag. Although I couldn't hear it, I imagine they were praying the rosary as they walked. Maybe they were on their way to their beautiful little shrine just further west on Wisconsin Ave! Sanctifying the city! Just what we need!


I'd been looking for a statue of the Infant of Prague ever since last Christmas when my pastor, Fr. Tim Kitzke, told me that everyone should have a statue of the Infant in their homes saying that He is a help with financial situations.  On one of our Wednesday outings my daughter and I paid a visit to a little antique mall and cheese shop (well, we do live in Wisconsin!) and there we hit the jackpot.  We found four statues of the Infant so I bought them all!

Not too long ago I met a woman who told me that she received a blessing from Pope John Paul II, and then later was able to shake his hand after praying a novena to the Infant of Prague.  When I told her that I will be going to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia this month, she recommended that I pray a novena to the Infant for whatever I might want from that experience, and when I found those four statues all in the same place, I took it as a sign that my prayer might be favorably received.

Now naturally I hope to receive spiritual blessings for myself and my family, but I would also want to meet Pope Francis personally.  So I have been praying a beautiful novena to the Infant of Prague with the intention that my traveling companions and I will be blessed to meet the Pope and  have a selfie taken with him.  Then my sister Cindy and I will be able to replace our paper pope picture with a real one!  I know that sounds awfully selfish to pray for a selfie, but Pope Francis is always reminding everyone to be joyful, and thinking about a selfie with the pope sure does make me joyful!  



Here's the prayer I'm saying.  It's so lovely!  Care to join me in prayer?

Novena Prayer to the Miraculous Infant of Prague

Dearest Jesus, Little Infant of Prague, how tenderly You love us! Your greatest joy is to dwell among us and to bestow Your blessing upon us. Though I am not worthy that You should help me, I feel drawn to You by love because You are kind and merciful. (say three times)

So many who turned to You with confidence have received graces and had their petitions granted. Behold me as I come before You to lay open my heart to You with its prayers and hopes. I present to You especially this request, which I enclose in Your loving Heart:

(Mention your request)

Rule over me, dear Infant Jesus, and do with me and mine according to Your Holy Will, for I know that in Your Divine Wisdom and Love You will arrange everything for the best. Do not withdraw Your hand from me, but protect and bless me forever. 


I pray You, all-powerful and gracious Infant Jesus, for the sake of Your Sacred Infancy, in the Name of Your Blessed Mother Mary who cared for You with such tenderness, and by the greatest reverence with which Saint Joseph carried You in his arms, help me in my needs. Make me truly happy with You, dearest Infant, in time and in eternity, and I shall thank You forever with all my heart.  Amen.