Monday, May 27, 2013

The Ordination of Fr. Paul Schneider, OFM Conv.

The Basilica of St. Josephat  (for more photos visit this link)

Heaven came down to earth this past weekend, of that I am certain.  My friend, Fr. Paul Schneider, OFM Conv. was ordained to the priesthood at the Basilica of St. Josephat by Bishop William Callahan and it was one of the most perfect, magnificent, holy and beautiful experiences I have ever known.  There is nothing more beautiful than watching a man lay down his life for the Lord, but to witness an ordination in the grandeur of the Basilica, with a choir of what sounded like angels accompanied by trumpets and strings and drums, praying in the company of the sweetest, most wonderful and most joyful of all nuns-The Handmaids of the Precious Blood, whose purpose is to pray for priests, and watching the new priest, in beautiful Marian vestments shed tears of joy while celebrating his first Mass and presenting his mother with a long-awaited maniturgia (Fr. Paul is a late vocation),  all amounted to holy perfection, and I was so blessed to be a humble witness and participant of it all.  I smiled until I thought my face would break and cried until I thought my heart would melt-it was all so incredibly wondrous.

Fr. Paul and I met in the noon hour confessional line at the Church of the Gesu in downtown Milwaukee  in November of 2011.  I had recognized him from my visits to St. Francis de Sales Seminary where he had spent some time studying, and so I introduced myself.  He told me that he had less than two years left before ordination to the priesthood and he asked me to pray for him.  What he didn't know was that very night I was to be enrolled as a candidate for the Oblates of the Precious Blood and would be committing my life to praying for priests along with the Handmaids of the Precious Blood.  I took his request for prayer as a sign from God that what I was about to do was indeed His will for me.  The next month, in a Christmas letter from the Handmaids, I discovered Fr. Paul's picture and learned that he, too, was an Oblate of the Precious Blood!  Since then, Fr. Paul has been a wonderful friend, helping with events for Roses for Our Lady, an organization with which I am involved, and being a confidant and advisor in some of my personal faith issues as well.  Being invited to his ordination was a joy of the greatest magnitude.

Every single part of Fr. Paul's ordination-from the lovely image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the invitation, the order of worship and his holy card, the quiet prayerfulness of the holy hour on the eve of ordination (see Fr. Alejandro Castro's fabulous priestly reflection with personal stories of Fr. Paul's life based on Luke 9 below), having the opportunity to sit next to and pray with the Handmaids of the Precious Blood,  who, although they are cloistered,  were given special permission to attend his ordination,  and the joyful smile and easy approachability of Bishop Callahan, who had formerly been the rector and pastor of the Basilica and who was the bishop who ordained Fr. Paul, to the choir resounding magnificent hymns of praise (a video follows-or visit this link- not of the actual choir but a perfect likeness in sound of the offertory song, Let All the World), to the sweet sight of Fr. Paul bringing flowers to the altar of Our Lady during the Ave Maria-every moment was a treasure I will never forget.

Fr. Paul with my husband and I from my Solemn Resolution of Love as an Oblate of the Precious Blood last October

I praise God for Fr. Paul Schneider, OFM Conv. and I pray that the love and joy that filled his heart on his ordination day and during his beautiful first Mass will remain with him forever as he journeys to his first assignment in Peoria, Illinois, and wherever the Lord may call him to serve in the years to come.


Enjoy this touching reflection on the priesthood based on Luke 9, graciously shared by Fr. Alejandro Lopez OFM Conv.:

Perhaps it was the preaching
of a particularly inspiring, Cuban priest.
            Or a documentary on Mother Teresa or St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Or a rerun on EWTN
of some mutton-chop, side-burned fellow
on fire for the Lord.

Or a pilgrimage or two, to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe…
            Whatever…the Lord uses the moment to kick-started your vocation.
Kick you in the rear.

And suddenly…all those reasons why you’re “not enough
            don’t seem to amount to a hill of beans.
And you think maybe he does want me!

Maybe he really does want me!
         As incredible as that may seem!
And off you go running…as if in love for the first time!

But then…there’s a stumble.
A trip up that comes…perhaps many years later.
When in the midst of your studies. Or as a deacon.
            After years of running well.

When the old, familiar doubts creep back in
like a homeless Gila monster.
 “I’m not smart enough.”
“I can’t sing well enough!”

“I’m certainly not holy enough.”
“I tried before and it didn’t work out.”
            “I’m too old, now.”

And you admit to Jesus in prayer,
            “Dismiss the crowds,
for it’s a deserted place here.”

What you’re saying is what you think you know:
            “I don’t have enough for so many!
            I barely have enough for myself!

But Jesus challenges,
“Give them some food, yourself.”
And this will be your vocation.
As a deacon, you already know this.
As a deacon you’ve already been “preparing meals.”
Not from some “five ingredient”
crockpot cookbook!
But in and through the Holy Spirit.
            At work in and through your life.

Helping you to break open the Word.
            And feed crowds at Mass!
To be an instrument of peace in your friary.

To open doors in the dark
and be a brother to a stranger
whose mind swims with his own alcohol-fed fears.

Tomorrow, and for the rest of your life,
            Jesus will encourage you to make him present to others:
“Give them some food yourself.”

And his command may haunt you!
            If you take your vocation seriously,
I think it must scare you at some time in your priesthood!

For you will fear
that God’s people will go hungry.
            Because you failed to find them some food!
“But five loaves and two fish are all I have!”

Thankfully, Jesus understands!
And he has a plan!
A plan that includes poor priests and their poverty!
That takes into account our pitiful and small humanity
and makes it part of the Feast!

He teaches us by example that life isn’t a solo act.
Insisting that his disciples help.
And in today’s Gospel, the Lord takes what they bring
and gives it right back…to themto us.

Tonight I’m thinking how he gives us, priests,
the Food that will nourish.
How our consecrated lives are part of the meal.

As our Lord takes us and blesses us.
And allows even our doubts and fears to break us open.
            And then gives our lives away.

All the while letting us have the places of honor!
            Letting us appear to be heroes!
Humbly letting folk imagine
we walk a tightrope gloriously without a net.
 (The secret is we don’t!)

For each, alone, is never enough to feed so many!
Yet neither were we, priests, meant to be the meal!
Not by ourselves.

We’re served, by the Grace of God,
            with his Body and Blood!
And we must never forget that!
            Father Paul, you must never forget that!

Each and every day of your life, as a priest,
the Lord will remind you
that you are not the main course!

At this altar…but also in the nursing home…
Or in a parishioner’s home…
Or in your office…or friary.
Or in the back of church after Mass.

As the People of God, the Body of Christ,
lift you up when you are down,
like a consecrated Host!
Helping make your priestly vocation holy!

And when you are proud,
whenever you imagine you can feed them by yourself,
the People of God, the Body of Christ,
will humble you, too.
Helping make your priestly vocation holy!

Paul, tonight we gather with the Lord,
            to pray for you.
Not because we know your musical skills.
            Or how old you are.
Or how much you like “Fiddle Faddle,”
or a trip to Leon’s every now and then.

We pray for you because we know you’re human.
            And we know you are called
to a special role in his Church!
We know that Christ plans to make of you
something new and wonderful…and holy.

And we pray for you because we know
God answers every prayer.
            And will help you…even in your fears.

Way back in the beginning of Genesis
            God beat back the first fear.
The Lord told Adam, wounded by sin,  
            “Who told you that you were naked?”
In other words, “Enough with ‘not enough!’”

And maybe that’s what he says to us.
As we gaze upon him.
            And adore him in the Eucharist.

Mysteriously appearing
in his Glorified, Risen Body and Blood
as something so lowly as a piece of bread.
Something that to our senses seems
not enough” to satisfy even one little child!

By his Grace…By the power of his Holy Spirit…
By His Glorified, Risen and Ascended Body and Blood
present in the Eucharist…
You, and every other priest called to follow him,
will be more than enough!

Tonight we gaze upon the Sacrament of the Mystery of God’s Love.
            In the silence we pray that it will transform you!
See what you are…become what you receive!
            Allow the Lord to consecrate you in your priesthood
as his Body and Blood for the salvation of all the World!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

O Beautiful Mother

On this day, O Beautiful Mother! On this day we give thee our love; Near thee, Madonna, fondly we hover, trusting thy gentle care to prove.

Roses for Our Lady, an organization of lay faithful in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee which seeks to promote Eucharistic and Marian Devotion, celebrated our annual May Crowning and outdoor Eucharistic Rosary Procession on Sunday, May 12th, Mother's Day.  Although the weather was a bit chilly, the sun was shining, and  so many people who love the Blessed Mother came to honor her with their devotion.  We were blessed to have some coverage by the secular media in our area-both the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the local CBS news came to cover the event.  Enjoy the video clip and some photos below:

the crowning of Our Lady of Fatima
(photo credit Kurt Keidl)
our fine priests, seminarians and servers
(photo credit Mary Reindl)
Our Lady's vara follows the First Communicants
(photo credit Mary Reindl)

hundreds of faithful joined the procession
(photo credit Mary Reindl)

a beautiful day!
(photo credit Mary Reindl)

Fr. Enrique Hernandez, Deacon Paul Schneider, OFM Conv.,
Bishop Donald Hying and Fr. Tim Kitzke
(photo credit Stephen Pontus)

Our Lord in the hands of Fr. Matthew Widder
(photo credit Stephen Pontus)

Jesus protected by the Knights of Columbus
(photo credit Mary Reindl)
Kurt Keidl, Roses for Our Lady's vice president
(photo credit Stephen Pontus)

Bishop Hying, Roses for Our Lady's Spiritual Advisor
(photo credit Stephen Pontus)

Fr. Matthew Widder with the Lord at benediction
(photo credit Stephen Pontus)
Our Lady
(photo credit  Stephen Pontus)

 Visit the Roses for Our Lady website to view more pictures.  Click on the first photo to begin the slide show.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Glory to God For All Things

"Thou hast brought me into life as into an enchanted paradise. We have seen the sky like a chalice of deepest blue, where in the azure heights the birds are singing. We have listened to the soothing murmur of the forest and the melodious music of the streams. We have tasted fruit of fine flavour and the sweet-scented honey. We can live very well on Thine earth. It is a pleasure to be Thy guest." ~from Akathist Hymn of Thanksgiving:  Glory to God For All Things, Ikos 2

With the beginning of May I've passed the four year mark in my blogging career.  When I first began to blog I thought that, like many of my other hobbies such as scrapbooking, floral arranging and counted-cross-stitch, this would be a short-lived endeavor lasting maybe a year or two and it would fizzle out.  Except that blogging isn't really like any of my other hobbies.  I don't blog simply to pass the time or to learn a new craft. I blog to share my faith and hopefully glorify God in the process.  And, one of the joys of blogging is that over these past four years I have come across many kindred spirits, blogging buddies, you could say, that are quite gifted at sharing their own experience of faith and who inspire me with their words.  One such blogger is  Amanda Rose who writes at Little Steps Along the Way.

Amanda has recently written two amazing posts that have worked their way deeply into my soul and have made a profound impact upon my prayer life.  I tend to be a melancholic spirit and slip quite easily into depressive episodes, but Amanda has shown me an effective antidote for my moodiness.

In her post, My Portion is the Lord, which was featured on Dr. Anthony Lilles contemplative blog, Beginning to Pray, Amanda reminds us to sing hopefully when all seems dark:

"I hope when my mind says I shouldn’t. I hope while the tears run down my cheeks. I hope when I cannot hold back the sobs of disappointment, grief and exhaustion.  Even when I doubt, my souls sings “my portion is the Lord."  I cling to this truth."

I encourage you to read it all and to remain hopeful.  And on her own blog, Amanda shares a post that not only encourages the virtue of hope, but also the virtue of gratitude.  In Singing Alleluia Through Our Tears, Amanda introduces her readers to a magnificent Orthodox prayer, an Akathist Hymn of Thanksgiving, written in 1934 by an Orthodox Metropolitan while he was held in a Russian prison camp.  I am startled each time I consider a man held captive, enduring the horrors of a prison camp, who can conjure up a prayer to magnify the Lord with such glorious words of praise.  I have since printed out the Akathist Hymn, Glory to God for All Things, and have been praying with it every day.  I encourage you to pray with it yourself and see if you, too, aren't amazed by the beauty of this prayer and uplifted to give glory to God for all things, even in the darkest of times.

"Glory to Thee for the Feast Day of life
Glory to Thee for the perfume of lilies and roses
Glory to Thee for each different taste of berry and fruit
Glory to Thee for the sparkling silver of early morning dew
Glory to Thee for the joy of dawn's awakening
Glory to Thee for the new life each day brings
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age"

~from Akathist Hymn of Thanksgiving:  Glory to God For All Things, Ikos 2

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Three Reasons I Love Catholicism Vol. 2

I think if I were ever to decide that I had enough of blogging and would be tempted to hang it up, I would still hold on to this sweet little meme.  Thinking of the reasons why I love Catholicism brings me so much joy!  Even when I get mad at the Church for her problems, I couldn't imagine being any religion other than Catholic because there is just an endless list of wonderful things about this faith.  So here I am linking up with Micaela at California to Korea  who offers this great meme at the beginning of each month, with a short list of Three Reasons I Love Catholicism...

1)  The Sacred Heart of Jesus

 When anxiety, fear, sorrow, and loneliness infringe upon my peace of mind and soul, I fly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I place everything that bothers me into His pierced side and He burns all my troubles into ash within the fire of His Holy Love.  Then He gently draws me into His Sacred Heart as well and warms my soul with peace.  Nothing can hold me back and I can conquer the challenges of this world knowing that I am always held within the love of His Most Sacred Heart.

2)  The Holy Mass

 I've gotten myself into the habit of attending Mass, not just on Sunday, but nearly every day of the week.  Joining with the community of Catholics at Mass, my prayer is strengthened and my soul is soothed.  Listening to the Word of God and holding on to a small part of it to ponder and pray with throughout the day, watching as a simple piece of bread and cup of wine is converted into the very Body and Blood of my Savior and then receiving Him into my own miserable body in a Kiss of Love, is powerful beyond belief.  I can't imagine life without the Mass, and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to attend so often.

3)  The Morning Offering

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep the command to "pray without ceasing."  The Morning Offering is such a simple way to pray always even when I am preoccupied with the busy activities of the day.  Starting each morning with a few words of prayer and then calling to mind all of those people and situations that are close to my heart as well as remembering Pope Francis and all of his intentions, I give it all to God and my day is covered in prayer.  Simplicity!!!  I am so grateful to my friend, Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ and the Apostleship of Prayer for promoting this easy way of life.  Visit this link to learn more.

Visit Micaela's blog for more reasons to love Catholicism and add your own reasons.