Saturday, August 27, 2011

Be Real For Me, God

Be real for me, God.
Let me see you
let me touch you
let me know you.

Be real for me, God.
Move out of my imaginings
and dreams and enter into
my every tangible moment.

Be real for me, God.
Be my only desire
be my only joy
be my only life.

Be real for me, God.
Step out of the painting
on my wall and stand
with me face to face.

Be real for me, God.
Let me forsake all
others and live for
You alone.

Be real for me, God.

Monday, August 22, 2011


My family and I returned to Rock the Lakes at Veterans Park on Sunday afternoon for the close-out of the Franklin Graham Festival/Revival. God blessed the event with gorgeous weather and it was truly an enjoyable and uplifting occasion.

As we were walking from our car to the park where the event was held, the air was thick with dragonflies, in fact, they were a constant presence throughout the evening. It made me feel as if we were surrounded by angels flying through the air.

All throughout the weekend event, people were encouraged to send in text messages that ran across the screen. Many of the messages mentioned certain churches and pastors who might have been in the audience or to whom the audience members were connected. We were keenly feeling the fact that Catholics were in the minority at the revival, so my sons sent in plenty of messages like "Here's a shout-out from the Catholic Church!" and "St. Matthias Parish is in the house!" There's no doubt about it, we are a bit faith-proud!

When Franklin Graham finally took the stage, his talk was powerful. He mentioned specific sins like lying, stealing and murder. He said, "You might not believe it, but some of you here tonight have committed murder. Have you had an abortion? It's murder." Then he went on to share a story of a woman who held the sin of abortion in her heart for 20 years and once she came to Jesus and confessed that sin, her whole life changed, God broke her chains and healed her. He went on, "So you come. There is no sin that God can't forgive." And like the night before, the people moved forward to the counselors to confess the fact that they were sinners and wanted to give their lives over to Christ. They wanted to be saved.

For the evangelicals it seems to be just that easy. They don't have to mention their specific sins, they just have to admit that they are sinners and they believe that Jesus died for their sins and they will be guaranteed eternal life in heaven. It's a done deal.

Well, not quite, because we all know evangelical Christians are some of the most good and holy people around. Once they are saved and their lives are committed to Christ, they live that commitment. They pray and worship mightily, they serve others in need, they live upright and just lives as best they can. There's no doubt that upon their confession of sinfulness and profession of faith they walk the straight and narrow walk and bring Christ to the world and do all they can to bring others to Christ.

The headliner for last night's program was the one and only Michael W. Smith, probably one of the most successful Christian artists around, in fact, he was the reason why we came. People pay hundreds of dollars to see him in concert so when the opportunity arose to hear him play for free, well we couldn't pass it up. We were not disappointed. He was outstanding and easily moved our hearts with his music. Our hearts were so moved in fact, that towards the end of his performance, the emcee took the stage and started to pray and it was easy for us to join in.

He asked us to close our eyes, and if we had never known Christ but were ready to accept him into our hearts, we should raise our hand. And he said that if we had known Christ, but like the pharisees, our hearts had grown cold, our love for Christ had dimmed, we should raise our hands. At those words, my hand went in the air. I've been struggling in recent weeks with the feeling that I don't love Christ as I should but I never imagined that I would admit that publicly at a Christian revival.

So, everybody prayed together for those who didn't know Christ or whose love for Him had grown cold and then Michael W. Smith played one last song. As the song ended I was approached by a counselor who saw my hand in the air and she asked me if I was a Christian. As I was wearing a shirt that said "Living Christ Now" from St. Francis de Sales Seminary I thought it might have been obvious that I was, but I answered her question in the affirmative and she walked away from me. Another counselor questioned me as well and I told him that I raised my hand because my heart had grown cold. He also walked away. They weren't too interested in saving a fallen away brother or sister, only in finding those who had never seen the light in the first place. I suppose that just as there is only one baptism into Christianity, there is also only one saving into evangelical Christianity. Then I saw that counselors were questioning my daughter and two of my sons as well. We had all raised our hands! Because my eyes had been closed during the prayer (and probably much, much longer than that-I'm thinking for most of my life) I hadn't known that my children were suffering from cold hearts as well!

I don't know what John might have told the counselor who questioned him to gain the favor of his continued attention, but they quickly entered a quiet conversation. They shared scripture and a prayer and the counselor gave John a CD version of the bible and asked for some contact information so that he could follow-up on his save. Then he reached to hug John and said, "Welcome to the family!"

I'm grateful for this wonderful opportunity that my family and I had to spend some time with our fellow Christians in praise and worship, but even more grateful for what I learned at the end of the event. I learned that I'm not alone in my weakness and my desire to deepen my love for the Lord-my children struggle and want to grow closer to God as well. What a joy and a blessing it is to know that deep within our hearts, we all have a desire to enkindle those fires of love for Christ and to acknowledge the fact that we have been saved from our sins through our baptism but we still have a long way to go on our journey to heaven. But we don't have to make that journey alone. We are all in this together. My eyes have been opened. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

You Come

There's no doubt that my life is steeped in Catholicism, that my faith is embedded in my heart and I could never imagine practicing any other form of Christianity. Each day of my life I become more deeply involved with others in my community of Catholics and am drawn into a life of faith which shapes and defines me.

This weekend I had the great joy of participating in an evening with 13 other women who are all mothers of seminarians or high school and college students who are discerning a call to the priesthood through St. Francis de Sales Seminary. It was a beautiful occasion which was hosted by my friend Christi who prepared a lovely dinner for us. We had the opportunity to share our common love for the Church and for our sons and to brainstorm ideas about how we can keep the momentum going, to keep the fires burning brightly in the hearts of our children and to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life for our Archdiocese.

I was equally blessed to spend a quiet afternoon with an elderly gentleman who had been instrumental in forming Roses for Our Lady thirty one years ago. Tony was grateful for the opportunity to share his memories of the early days of the organization and I was greatly impressed to learn about all of the work and great love that went in to building this lay apostolate that has withstood the test of time and has now become a major part of my life.

From the genteel ladies dinner and the quiet, reflective afternoon I then entered into an experience that was quite large scale and inspiring, but clearly out of my normal comfort zone of Catholicism. My children had been quite eager to attend a free event at Milwaukee's lakefront called Rock the Lakes. The program was organized by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. I've watched Billy Graham's television crusades in the past, but to actually have the opportunity to experience it first hand under the guidance of his son, Franklin, was really something special.

We estimated that there were about 5000 people in attendance at the event along Milwaukee's beautiful shores of Lake Michigan and the crowd was definitely young. I couldn't help but compare this evangelical Christian event to Catholicism's World Youth Day, only on a much smaller and local scale. God is clearly calling the youth of our society and it's interesting to see it done in a massive way complete with bright lights, loud music and large crowds.

What enticed my children to want to attend the event were the Christian bands that were highlighted throughout the day. We listened to the bands The Afters, Lecrae, The Almost and the headliner, Skillet. I had never heard of any of these bands before but in my children's lives they are quite popular and by the end of the night, after listening to Skillet rock out complete with black outfits, dark make-up, loud screaming music and a light show that included fireworks on stage, I could see why my children were drawn to this event. It was a fun time and the music was great! But the purpose of the event held a deeper meaning than just having a good time, and the lyrics of the songs and the words of the artists were all meant to inspire a life of holiness and a love of God through the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross.

In between each of the musical acts, Franklin Graham came on stage and his message was always the same...

"If God is speaking to your heart right now, I want you to come. You come. You come right up here and talk with one of our counselors. You may say, God knows I'm a sinner, I don't have to tell Him that; but God wants to hear you say it. You won't really be speaking with the counselor, you'll be speaking with God. It's called confession. You tell God that you are a sinner and that you are sorry for your sins. It's called repentance. God will forgive you. You come."

And the people came. Grace was overflowing as hundreds lined up to shake the cloud of sin that weighed heavy on their souls and to receive the knowledge that God loves them and forgives them. It really was a beautiful and moving thing to see. (The picture here is from this year's World Youth Day in Madrid.)

As we began the long walk back to our car at the end of the night, my children were discussing how much they enjoyed the event. Mary said, "I don't understand why they were confessing their sins to a counselor. It should have been a priest." My heart burned for joy at the wisdom of her words. She quickly caught on to the similarity of what was happening at Rock the Lakes to what happens in the quiet of the confessional within Catholic churches throughout the world each and every day. Yet there is a huge difference between the confession of sins that occurs at a public evangelical Christian event and the Sacrament of Reconciliation that is part of the life of Catholics. Without making satisfaction for our sins through penance our forgiveness can't be complete and so I feel more blessed than ever to be Catholic, to have the opportunity to confess my sins frequently and to hear the priest who acts "in persona Christi" utter those magnificent words of absolution:

"God the father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of our sins. Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

We are all being called, whether Catholic or not, to a deeper union with God, to turn our backs on sin, to repent and live a life of freedom in the shadow of the now empty cross which stands in the light of the Resurrected Christ. We are called to lives of prayer and service within the Church and within our communities, and it was only two simple yet powerful words spoken by Franklin Graham that brought hundreds of people to want to commit their lives to that call. You come.

You come.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Tale of Wildflowers

“Wildflowers don’t move to find the sun’s rays.”
Abbot Christian, Of Gods and Men

Last winter when the movie Of Gods and Men first came to the theater, I longed to see it but never had the opportunity; one thing or another always took precedence to a night at the movies. Then, when it was released on DVD this summer, I couldn’t find a copy of it at any of my neighborhood video stores. It was my treasured Salzmann Library at St. Francis de Sales Seminary to the rescue! While browsing for books I glanced at the “new items” bookshelf and found the long sought after DVD in the corner as if it were a hidden gift from God waiting for me to notice it there. Watching it proved to be well worth the wait!

Continue reading my review here, please.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Angels Are With You

When I arrived home from my pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help Shrine last Sunday, I was greeted by my husband and sons with loving embraces, but I was also greeted with several urgent messages. It seemed that I had missed a few important phone calls and emails while I was gone and they all pertained to the same news: a man named George had passed away, and although I knew the name, I had never met George in person. But now, through the mysterious workings of God, I have been brought to friendship with George through his death.

George was a founding member and current trustee of Roses for Our Lady , the lay apostolate for which I had become president last January. In the few months that I have been associated with Roses, I had never met George, because he had been very ill with heart disease and was confined to his home. All of the messages that were waiting for me when I came home from my pilgrimage were asking me to spread the word, to let others know that George had passed into eternal life. The message I received from his wife, Carol, was especially touching:

"...on Wednesday George had a massive heart attack. At first there was some hope but by morning we knew how serious it was. Fr. John Burns blessed him and gave him all of the rites of the Church. Friday, with his mother, all of our children, and myself praying the rosary and his favorite prayers, he very peacefully drifted off. We are sad but the beautiful gentleness with which Jesus called him to Himself was a blessing to all of us."

So I gladly honored Carol's request to spread the word and was pleased that there was a good representation of Roses for Our Lady members at his funeral where we were blessed to lead the rosary before Mass. During the three hours that I my son John and I (my children rarely allow me to leave the house unchaperoned) were at the funeral, I quickly came to realize that George was a beautiful and holy family man.

During his funeral homily, the priest mentioned that George would greet his children each morning by telling them who the saint of the day was. I just had to smile, realizing that I share this very same habit (and here I give a nod to the saint of the day, one of my favorites, St. Jane de Chantal.) After the Mass one of his daughters shared some touching stories about George's life. She mentioned that he would always remind his children that the angels were with them, and as she finished her remarks she looked to heaven and told the angels and saints that they were very lucky to have George there with them now and then she told everyone gathered in the church that the angels were with us. Down came the tears...from my eyes, anyway. And then the beautiful sounds of the organ and violin playing the Ave Maria gave everyone a chance to recollect their composure and focus on the Blessed Mother to whom George was deeply devoted.

I may never have met George in this life, but I know that I would have liked him very much and would have considered him to have been a dear friend. I believe that in the Communion of Saints I've now got one more saint praying for me as I pray for him and we are united in the friendship of our angels who are always with us.

The messages that were on his remembrance card and order of worship were:

George wished his epitaph to read: "I want to be remembered as the man who taught my children how to pray,"

and "George sincerely loved Jesus and Mary with all of his heart and had a special devotion to the angels and saints. He prayed daily for the souls in purgatory. Please honor him by praying for him."

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May George's soul and all of the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who, Me, A Patron Saint?

My sweet friend Mary at The Beautiful Gate has cast lots for a MEME and my name came up in her list of five bloggers to tag.

The rules of this MEME are as follows:

"Assuming you are a saint, and your cause has been executed, your miracles confirmed, your date on the calendar established, all that is required is to select that of which Holy Mother Church will name you Patron (ess) of.

For this meme, you must name your patronage
and then tag 5 other people who would like to play along.

Linking your answer to your nominator's post would make it easier to get your answers."

This all sounds a bit tricky because first of all, you have to be holy enough to make it to heaven and then you have to have done something meaningful enough in your life to inspire others to turn to you in prayer. Mary herself has thought that she would be made the patron saint of those suffering from depression and anxiety and knowing that she has already offered much prayer for me regarding those issues, I'm sure she would make a great patron saint for those who suffer from those afflictions.

I thought about all of the things that are near and dear to my heart like praying for priests and vocations, caring for my family, searching for sea glass, leading Marian Devotion in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee with Roses for Our Lady, making jelly, gathering with my sisters in prayer, writing this blog-there's so much to choose from and so many groups which already have a fabulous patron saint upon which I could never improve (thinking of St. John Vianney here as the patron of priests.) So here's my best shot...

Although the poor have a fabulous patron in St. Vincent de Paul, and a great champion in St. Lawrence whose feast is today, my life's work focuses on a particular section of the poor, that is, young mothers who live in poverty. For the past fifteen years I have spent my working days as a nutritionist for the WIC Program (Women, Infants and Children) where I counsel young mothers about nutritional care for themselves and their young children. I see women who suffer terribly from the effects of poverty and who struggle due to abusive relationships, a promiscuous society, lack of faith, mental and physical illness, drug abuse and so much more. They often wonder where the next meal will come from, they worry about what kinds of friends their children will associate with, they have so much to learn about basic health issues and parenting concerns.

For example, just yesterday I met a young mother of two children who had no place of her own to call home. She was living with friends but would have to move out shortly. I gave her a list of homeless shelters to contact but wished I could have taken her by the hand and led her to a home of her own. As she left my office with the list of shelters in her hand she said how she hated the very thought of staying at a homeless shelter and I assured her of my prayers. My words at the time felt so empty and useless but as I follow through with prayer for her I know that God will see to it that all of her needs are met and He will lovingly carry her through her struggles.

I also met with a pregnant mother who, at the age of 24, already has two lively toddlers and has suffered through a miscarriage and two abortions. Offering my words of sympathy for her losses feels so hollow, but I trust that God will comfort her and lead her to value the life growing within her and to bring that baby to a safe and healthy start in life.

I visit with mothers who are homeless, hungry, tired, overworked and stressed. I see mothers who work and are sorrowful about leaving their children in daycare and mothers who can't find work and aren't able to provide for their children and that causes sorrow as well. These mothers have a lot to worry about! But what carries them through each stressful day is always the great love that they have for their children and the desire to give them the very best life possible.

I can relate to so many of the women that I see each day. So many of their worries are my worries, too. I also fret about finances, the health, education and social lives of my children, and the burdens of caring for my family in a society that makes family life a low priority. I carry all of my stress to the Lord in prayer each day and I bring my clients to Him in my prayer as well. We are all in this difficult life of motherhood together!

So, I pray that the Lord finds me worthy enough of sainthood one day and if I am ever to enjoy the glories of heaven, I would spend that time praying in intercession for young mothers whose lives are weighed down by the burden of financial poverty and all of the problems that surround that particular lot in life. May the Lord grant me the grace of one day becoming the Patron Saint of young mothers who live in poverty.

The rules of this MEME require that after acknowledging the MEME source, (Mary) and having written about which group of people would turn to me for prayer upon my death, I must pass this MEME on to five other bloggers and they are:

Karen at Write 2 the Point
Colleen at Inadequate Disciple
Tiffany at Family at the Foot of the Cross
Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii
Patricia at I Want to See God (you'll want to slow down here and read Patricia's blog post "An Unpetalled Rose" it's gorgeous!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Catholic Heroes on TV

On Monday morning as I was performing my usual multitasking at the gym-running on the machine of torture while listening to upbeat music on the MP3 player, while reading a spiritual book, while glancing at EWTN on the television that is connected to the elliptical machine-I noticed that Archbishop Dolan was a guest on Fr. Benedict Groeschel's program. Quick as quick could be, I unplugged the music and stuck the headphones into the television outlet.

Archbishop Dolan was speaking about his three beautiful nieces who were all getting married this summer and mentioned that he is the proud uncle to twelve nieces and one nephew, Patrick, who is four years old and is already a priest. "Yeah, I ordained him at his baptism," he quipped. Although the topic of the program was quite serious about the valiant battle that Archbishop Dolan is waging to preserve the sanctity of marriage from those who would redefine it to include same-sex marriages, I know that I must have had a goofy smile on my face during my entire workout and even must have laughed out loud several times. I noticed that my son Joe, my workout partner, was doing all he could to avoid me, the embarrassing mother.

After my workout, I asked Joe if he could guess who was on TV that was causing me to smile so much and his answers were proof to me that he clearly understands that the things and people that I care most about in this life are those that bring me closer to God. His first guess was Roses for Our Lady, followed by Bishop Hying. Both worthy guesses, both would have made me happy beyond words, but I told him to think a bit more globally and so his next guess was the Pope. When I told him it was someone just a little less important than the Pope he hit the nail on the head with Archbishop Dolan. Oh, how I love that guy!

My favorite line of the show came when Fr. Benedict mentioned that he knows this battle will drag on for many years to come and because of his advanced age, he's sure that he will have to continue it from purgatory. He said that he knows that many people don't believe in purgatory anymore, but he still does because he lives in New Jersey. Funnier still was Archbishop Dolan's speedy comeback: "I believe in purgatory, too. I watch your program!!!" And, for the first time ever, I was sorry to end my workout; I would have gladly continued running that morning race just for the joy of listening to one of my spiritual heroes share his efforts to bring the world to holiness.

But I have another hero whom I am equally eager to watch on television. My dear friend, Fr. Christopher Klusman, will be featured on a 30 minute program called "Hearing God," which will be aired on Sunday, August 14 at 2 pm on WISN-TV 12 (Milwaukee.) It is a documentary by Bob Dolan (Archbishop Dolan's brother)of Dolan Productions, LLC. According to Fr. Christopher, the program features the last part of his seminary studies at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, his Ordination to the Priesthood, his Mass of Thanksgiving, and a few things he did ministry-wise at his 2 new part-time assignments as a new priest. Tune in if you are able! It's sure to be wonderfully heart-warming!

Transfiguration Prayer

Early morning mist rises
upon still waters
leaving behind a crystal clear reflection.

Transfigure me, O Lord,
into a crystal clear reflection of You.
I want to become a lake of Love.

(This is the morning view I saw on the Feast of the Transfiguration. It was taken from my sister's cottage where we stayed during our pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help Shrine.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It Is Good That We Are Here

"To take time in one's life for a holy journey helps us remember the truth about who we are and where we are going. It helps us think about what is above, to rediscover what it means to be free, rational and spiritual creatures." ~Dr. Anthony Lilles, Beginning to Pray

Last Saturday, on the Feast of the Transfiguration, I made a pilgrimage with my sisters, nieces, and daughter to Our Lady of Good Help Shrine in Champion, WI. I often bemoan the fact that I can count my travels on one hand and have never been on an airplane. I also frequently lament that I have never been and probably never will be able to visit Lourdes, Fatima or Guadalupe. So it's an incredible thrill for me to have had the privilege and honor to visit an approved Marian Apparition that is within driving distance of my home. God has greatly blessed the state of Wisconsin with the visit of the Blessed Mother to Sister Adele Brise in 1859 and has greatly blessed me with the opportunity to visit this holy ground.

I am on a Divine Mercy Prayer Chain list and the night before the girls and I left for our pilgrimage I was surprised to open my Divine Mercy Prayer Chain email and find this prayer request:

"For my sisters and I as we pilgrimage to Our Lady of Good Help Shrine."

Was this a coincidence? How many other groups of sisters were planning a pilgrimage on the same date, I wondered? It turns out that my sister Cindy is part of the same prayer chain and she was the one who sent in the request. Whew! This world would be far too crazy with two groups of sisters visiting the same shrine on the same day, wouldn't it? I'm sure my sisters and I were enough for the shrine to handle on one day!

While I had been reading up about the shrine in preparation for our trip, I noticed that there are quite a few groups of pilgrims who have walked on foot from as far as 150 miles away to visit the shrine. How I would have loved to make a pilgrimage like that! But my sisters decided that it would be enough suffering and sacrifice if I would chauffeur the 100 mile drive in my beat up non air conditioned 2001 Pontiac Montana. My seriously lousy driving skills offered us many opportunities for prayer along the way.

We arrived at the shrine just in time for the 8 AM Mass on the First Saturday of the Month which also happened to be the Feast of the Transfiguration. The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help is nestled deep in farm country and as we walked into the chapel we were greeted by the sound of a crowing rooster from a nearby farm. My thoughts turned to St. Peter and his denial of Christ. But it was the words he spoke at the Transfiguration of Christ that resounded in my heart, "Lord, it is good that we are here," and that became my prayer of gratitude for having safely arrived at our destination.

After hearing so much about busloads of pilgrims coming from all around the world, I was a bit disappointed that although we were exactly on time for Mass, the chapel was not at all packed, in fact, our group of ten women and girls all found seats near the front. The chapel has recently been placed in the care of the Fathers of Mercy, and the young chaplain, Fr. Jewel Aytona, CPM, who was just ordained in June, 2011, said the Mass. I have never in my life seen more reverence at any Mass that I have ever attended. During his homily, he focused on the gospel quote: "This is my beloved Son, listen to Him." In particular he focused on listening to God during the consecration. He said, "When the priest prays the words of consecration, he speaks in the first person...This is MY body, This is MY blood." And later, during the consecration, Fr. Jewel held the body and blood of the Lord in the air for all to adore Him for the longest time I have ever seen Jesus' body and blood elevated anywhere by any priest. It was beautiful!

After Mass we prayed the rosary while we stood in line for confession for over an hour. The length of our time in line was a sign that the crowd of pilgrims was becoming larger as the day progressed. The wait was well worth it and I was sure to offer a prayer of gratitude for the priest who listened to confessions in the stifling hot confessional, for there was a man who truly suffered for his faith! The crypt where Mary appeared to Adele Brise was even warmer than the confessional, but the warmest part of all was the feeling of great love that hung heavy in the air. It was easy to feel the love of the Blessed Mother for all of the pilgrims visiting her on the First Saturday of the month, the day dedicated to her Immaculate Heart.

On the side of the altar, there was a little shrine with the statue of Our Lady of Good Help and it was noted that this was a replacement statue as the original one that was given to Adele Brise had been destroyed by fire. A monstrance contained pieces of the two trees, a maple and a hemlock, between which the Blessed Mother appeared to Adele, and a reliquary held a relic of the veil which belonged to the Blessed Mother. This was my favorite part of the shrine; I could have prayed there for hours!

Although our visit ended far too quickly, the blessings continue as my sisters and I will begin our 33 day preparation to renew our Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Feast of the Nativity of her birth. I eagerly anticipate another trip to this lovely little piece of heaven on earth that is so close to my home that I could easily become a frequent visitor. I know that there are many more riches of faith to discover as I delve ever more deeply into the wonders of a Marian apparition in my own home state.

Prayer to Our Lady of Good Help

Our Lady of Good Help, Mother of God, Mother of Jesus, and Mother of the Church, it is with confidence in Thy tender mercy that we place our petitions before Thee as intercessor to Thy Divine Son. Resting our hope confidently in Thy Immaculate Heart to obtain for us that which will give glory to Thine only-begotten Son, we thank Thee.

O Queen of Heaven, as Thou didst ask Sister Adele to teach the children the holy catechism, so also teach us how to make the Heart of Jesus reign and triumph in us and around us, as it has reigned and triumphed in Thee. Reign over us, dearest Queen, that we may be Thine in prosperity and in adversity, in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness, in life and in death. Amen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Celebrating Longevity and Faithfulness

"The Mass is the most important work of the day."
Servant of God, Dorothy Day

Last weekend my family and I were invited to dinner at the house of some friends of ours from church. They had also invited our former associate pastor who had been reassigned to another parish last month. Someone was asking Fr. Dennis what he most missed about St. Matthias Parish and he responded with two things: he missed the weekly all-school Mass where he had the opportunity to teach the Catholic faith to the children and he missed all of the beautiful people who attend daily Mass. As a daily Mass attendee, the second part of his answer touched me deeply.

I have never in my life met so many wonderful, thoughtful and kind people as those who attend the daily 7 AM Mass. From those who commit themselves to help at Mass as altar servers and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and lectors to those who fill the pews day by day with their physical presence and fill the church with their prayers, the daily Mass crowd is a group of loving and lovable people. It's a rare day when I don't leave church without a hug or a compliment from one of the sweet grandmotherly types who frequent the Mass or find a little gift (usually some type of food treat for my family) waiting for me in my pew when I arrive.

Today happened to be a very special day and Fr. Dan announced at the beginning of Mass that not only were we celebrating the Feast of St. John Vianney, but we were also celebrating the birthday of one of the daily Mass attendees. Charlotte was rejoicing in 97 years on this earth and everyone at Mass was filled with anticipation for this day. A card had been circulating before and after Mass for the past week so that every one could wish her well on her special day and after Mass Sister Doris played Happy Birthday with a verse of "May the Dear Lord Bless You" added to the end. Everyone sang with joy for the woman who has graced us with her loving and prayerful presence for so many years. Then some members of the parish staff arrived with donuts in the outer hallway for a celebratory treat. Sweet Charlotte is a daily Mass celebrity!

A Prayer for the Daily Mass Crowd

My Jesus, as I sit with my children in the back pew of the church, I look upon all of my fellow churchgoers. Although they are much older than me and my family,they seem to have a youthful spirit about themselves. Their bodies may be feeling the aches and pains of old age, but their eyes betray their bodies. For in their eyes a sparkle exists that spreads into a smile covering their entire faces. Those sparkling eyes speak of knowledge and wisdom and maturity which only comes from endurance through trials and challenges. The men and women at daily Mass represent faithfulness and constancy in all circumstances. No matter what happens in their lives,they keep coming back to God. Their wisdom and love attract me and open a desire in my heart to follow in their paths.

We are one as we kneel and pray. We are one as we silently adore the uplifted Host. We are one as we wave to each another in a gesture of peace. Although I am many years their junior, they accept me and fold me into their circle of friendship. Some share their life stories with me. Others share gifts for my children. Some, whose names I don’t know,simply share this daily time of prayer with me. That is more than enough. Lord, I pray for these men and women because I love them so and I love how much they love you. Amen.

"Put all the good works in the world against one Holy Mass; They will be as a grain of sand beside a mountain"
Saint John Vianney

St. John Vianney, pray for us!

(the prayer is a re-post from the archives in honor of Charlotte and in admiration of the wonderful example she sets in her faithfulness in prayer.)