Friday, August 31, 2012

Sanctuary Lamp

When the sanctuary lamp
of my soul grows dim
and my prayer feels dry
and hope seems slim

I drag through life
on little sleep
heavy with worry
my constant keep

For reasons uncertain
this trembling heart
fails to accept
the love You impart

Your wise and holy wisdom
Your will meant just for me
is cast out by sinful desires
they are all my mind can see

What I want is not what You want
nor can it ever be
for all my frantic grasping
will keep me far from Thee

But there's nothing to fear
for all is surely well
I've only to remain steadfast
and my spirit will swell

With joys and with love
from your beautiful source
Your most Sacred Heart
in the Eucharist, of course

So Jesus stay near me
no matter how hard
I push You away
Your will to discard

I sit before your tabernacle
Your holy house of life
please remove my lack of fervor
ease my relentless strife

O sanctuary lamp of my soul
forever burn bright and strong
reminding me of God's constant presence
deep within me all along

Thursday, August 23, 2012

St. Ignatius Church, Chicago

Rogers Park neighborhood
 In the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, just a few short blocks from Loyola University and St. Joseph's College Seminary, there is a magnificent church hidden away among the well-manicured lawns and red brick homes (which I believe are simply called "Bricks") of the quiet, shady residential area just off of bustling Sheridan Avenue.  St. Ignatius Church was built in 1906 and is a marvelously artistic and beautiful house of worship.

 Last November when my family made our first visit to Chicago, I was left with just a few minutes as we were leaving town to literally trip up the church steps and fall into the middle of a Spanish Mass.  I took a few quick glances at the gorgeous frescoes on the church ceiling from the back of the church before racing back down the church steps to my family who were waiting for me in the van so that we could return home.
St. Ignatius

ceiling fresco

stained glass window of the Presentation

Ever since that day I was determined to return and get a more in-depth view of the church, so last May when we made another visit to St. Joseph's College Seminary, my husband Paul and I took a  leisurely walk through the neighborhood and found that the church doors were open in the middle of a weekday.  We wandered in and caught the end of a tour given to school children.  During this brief visit I fell in love with St. Ignatius Church, and eagerly looked forward to my next visit.

Finally my opportunity arrived!  When we brought my son John down to St. Joseph's College Seminary to begin the fall semester, my family and I had some time to walk back to St. Ignatius Church.  The church doors were locked, so Fr. Matthew Widder, who had joined us on our trip to Chicago, suggested we check in the parish office to see if someone could let us in.  And someone could!  We met the pastoral assistant, Kathy Morris, who kindly offered to give us a personal tour of the church. Kathy explained that Milwaukee's Archbishop Jerome Listecki had been the pastor of St. Ignatius during some major renovations and she had many fond memories of him.  So she was especially glad to give us the tour based on our association with the Archbishop.

One of the things that I was eager to learn more about was a painting of the crucified Christ that was surrounded by silver medals hearts.  Kathy explained that St. Ignatius has a large Peruvian population and the painting is part of a Peruvian tradition called The Lord of the Miracles.   According to Peter Holderness at Medill Reports Chicago, "The original Lord of the Miracles is an icon painted by an African slave who was converted to Christianity by Spanish authority in Peru in the 16th century.

The mural depicts a dark-skinned Jesus on the cross, and is also known as Jesús Moreno.  When successive earthquakes destroyed Lima in the 17th and 18th centuries, the mural survived and a growing number of Spaniards and mestizos joined Afro-Peruvians in revering the image.

Lima’s citizens sought the icon’s protection from deadly earthquakes, and it became an intimate part of their daily lives, according to Paerregaard, who writes that a Peruvian immigrant in Europe explained, “El Señor always accompanies us, we just have to bring his image with us and take it to the streets wherever we are.”

There is a wonderful pictorial slide show of the 2007 Chicago procession of Peruvian-Americans from St Ignatius Church taking The Lord of the Miracles into the streets at this link.

Lord of the Miracles Procession in Lima, Peru

Another highlight of the church was a relief on the altar of Christ, the Blessed Mother and St. James.  Our guide wasn't sure why St. James was chosen to grace the altar at St. Ignatius but she did know that Archbishop Listecki had chosen this relief so it may be a good future topic of conversation with the Archbishop, trying to learn the secret of the relief's portrayal.  Last spring when Archbishop Listecki confirmed my son Justin, he spent a great deal of time questioning each confirmand about their choices of saint's names.  If any young man had chosen St. James for his confirmation name, the Archbishop was sure to ask him "Which St. James, the greater or the lesser?"  Now I will have to ask that same question of the Archbishop!

the altar at St. Ignatius
The great altar with its baldacchino was made to be a replica of the baldacchino at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  It's hard to fathom the size of St. Peter's Basilica when I'm told that just the baldocchino in that church is three stories high!

By far the biggest surprise was a wonderful chapel hidden away behind the large church.  The Blessed Virgin Mary Queen of the Angels Chapel was no small chapel, but was as large as any other church!  Because this chapel sits beside the altar, the pews have an interesting feature like that found on old trains-the backs move so that the chapel can accommodate overflow crowds during Mass in the main church.
The Blessed Virgin Mary Queen of Angels Chapel

I really admired the painting of my favorite station of the cross, the sixth station, that was inside this chapel.  I wonder why St. Veronica was painted as an angel and who the two angels are beside her.

The Sixth Station, Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
And of course, I just had to take a picture of the statue of one of my favorite saints, St. Margaret Mary, and right beside her, The Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I highly recommend a visit to St. Ignatius Church in Chicago, you are sure to be inspired by the beauty!  My next goal regarding this beautiful church will be stay and pray at Mass while there!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


" When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord."  ~Luke 2:22-23

The time has finally come when, following the example of St Joseph and the Blessed Mother, Paul and I were called to make our own presentation of our first-born son to the Lord.  Early on Tuesday, August 21st, we packed up John's belongings and together with John's four siblings and our dear friend, and in our hearts, a sibling as well, Fr. Matthew Widder, we traveled from Milwaukee to Chicago to "present" John to the Lord for the beginning of his seminary career at St. Joseph's College Seminary at Loyola University, where he will prepare for the diocesan priesthood in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. 

John and his entourage

Our pilgrimage, as Fr. Matthew called it, began with daily Mass at our home parish.  Following Communion, Fr. Dave offered a special blessing for John as he begins his seminary career. Armed with the prayers of family and friends and the protection of a first-class relic of St. Pius X on his feast-day, a gift from my oldest sister Diann which she had received from our friend Fr Jim Kubicki, SJ, all eight of us climbed into our battered van, loaded with a few boxes of John's belongings, and we prayed the rosary as we began the two-hour drive to Chicago.  We were blessed with beautiful weather for the drive and move.

in his room with the relic of St. Pius X

When we got to Chicago we went out to lunch and then moved John into his room.  He didn't have very many belongings so it took about 15 minutes to get him settled.  With a few hours to spare before some scheduled meetings for the seminarians and families, we walked over to nearby St. Ignatius Church.  We were blessed to meet Kathy Morris, the pastoral associate, who kindly gave us a personal tour.  She was pleased to share the magnificence of St. Ignatius with pilgrims from Milwaukee since our Archbishop Listecki had been the pastor at St. Ignatius during some of the major renovations done to maintain it's beauty.  And it is so gorgeous!  I will be posting more about the tour in another post.

John and Fr. Matthew at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Shrine on the Loyola Campus

Then we walked along Lake Michigan and all around the campus.  We stopped at the Madonna del Strada Chapel for some silent prayer before returning to the seminary. After the welcoming meetings the families and seminarians joined each other for Mass in Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel.   We sat right by the stained glass window of the Presentation.   I was struck by the gospel passage from Matthew 19:23-30 that read:  "And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life."  It seemed very fitting to reflect upon these words on the day when Paul and I were "giving up" our son to service for the Lord and our son was also "giving up" so much of himself for the love of God.

Following Mass all of the seminarians and families enjoyed a fine dinner and before we left, Fr. Matthew blessed John and his room.   We all offered a tearful and emotional goodbye.  Everyone, including me, was surprised that I didn't completely break down in tears.  Maybe it's because we were all so chatty during the day and I didn't get a chance to think too much about how I was feeling.  But as we left John's room, I realized how quiet his life at the seminary will be compared to our noisy home life and I wondered if the silence will intensify feelings of loneliness in his heart.  When we finally left the seminary just as twilight was overcoming the city, John walked us to the gate and he leaned over it, watching us walk all the way down the street until we turned the corner and with a final wave he turned and walked back to the seminary.

"And a sword will pierce your very soul."  ~Luke 2:39

the new seminarian

  Please pray for John and for all of the seminarians at St. Joseph's College Seminary as they begin their studies this year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Few Assumptions About Mary

On August 15th we have the great joy of celebrating our Blessed Mother’s Assumption into heaven, the moment when her Son lovingly carried her within His arms to her eternal glory.  Although Mary was the Mother of God, she was also blessedly human and so many of the struggles and feelings which we endure were hers as well.  In honor of the Feast of the Assumption, I would like to make a few assumptions about our lovely Mother to whom every parent can look as a role model of perfection.

Please continue to read this post at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee homepage here....

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Like the Dewfall

“Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Epiclesis of the Mass from Roman Missal revised translation

"Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust.
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the land of shades gives birth."  ~Isaiah 26:16-19

What could possibly be more mysterious than dewfall?  I go to bed at night, the sky is clear, the stars are shining and there is no rain in the forecast.  When I arise in the morning, every single blade of grass, every flower, every weed, is damp, nourished and enriched through the mysterious and unseen work of God who blesses all growing things with moisture through the loving work of His hands.

Follow me to Suscipio to read more....