Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rescuing Jesus-A Guest Post by Dawn Meyer

My friend, Dawn Meyer, writes so beautifully about the faith and, from time to time, I am blessed to be the recipient of her writings.  With her permission, I share her words about our Eucharistic Lord.  May they move you deeply and stay with you each time you receive Him in Holy Eucharist.


You've seen this happen from time to time.  A mishap at the most inopportune moment.  But what do you do when it happens to you? 
Morning Mass. Communion time. Souls quietly move forward to receive Jesus.   "Amen," I respond, and open my mouth for the King of kings to be placed on my tongue.  And then, it happens.  How it happened, I do not know.  Somehow, Jesus falls to the floor.  He lies on the carpet, alone.  The minister offers another host, but my heart tells me to pick Him up.  
"Rescue Jesus!  He's on the floor!"
In a split second, He's back where He belongs.  The hand He formed in my mother's womb, picks Him up and places Him where He was supposed to be all along.  In my heart.  In my soul.  His Body and Blood united with my body and blood.  And I can't help but be grateful for the opportunity to rescue Jesus.  It is He who rescued me first, by dying on the cross, to save me from my sins.  It is He who continues to rescue me, through His Eucharistic presence that strengthens and nourishes me and keeps me safe for eternal life. 
Today, in a very small way, He let me rescue Him right back.  That made me think...maybe this isn't the first time Jesus let me rescue Him. 
What if we rescue Jesus...
...every time we choose to do not what we want, but what He wants us to do? 
...when we turn to Him throughout the day in prayer, to acknowledge His presence in our midst? 
...when we care more about His opinion than that of those around us? choosing to love those who are hardest to love?
...when we refrain from gossiping or speaking unkindly? looking at Him when we receive Communion, rather than the person that's offering Him to us?
...when we close our eyes after Communion and speak to Him from our hearts, so that He knows how thankful we are to be with Him? 
It seems that Jesus gives us numerous opportunities to rescue Him each and every day.  When we choose to love others and to unite our will to His will, we rescue Him from the sadness and suffering that our sinful choices cause Him to endure.  So, let's get busy!  How will you rescue Jesus today? 
Loving Jesus, thank you for being my Savior
and rescuing me from my sins by the merits of your Precious Blood.
Please take all the love you have placed in my heart
and let my love console you wherever you are abandoned
or unwanted.  Let my love rescue you when you are wounded by
those who deny you or forsake you.
It is only You whom my heart desires. 
Help me to do your will every minute of every day.  Amen.

You Have Star Power!

"He took him outside and said, "Look up at the sky and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." ~Genesis 15:5

I love Milwaukee!  It's such a great city with so many little known places just waiting to be explored.  My sister invited my family to come to the New Berlin Observatory, home of the Milwaukee Astronomical Society, for a night of star-gazing.  The temperatures were pleasantly cool, the sky was clear, the family was eager and so off we went.

New Berlin Observatory (Photo source:  Milwaukee Astronomical Society)

The observatory was in an open field nestled within scenic woods in the rural part of New Berlin.  The building where they give talks is a former World War II shelter and there are several interesting, small buildings on the grounds.  The flat buildings have retractable roofs that slide over to allow the telescopes to stand upright.  The round buildings, appearing very much like silos, have openings in the roof that allow the telescopes to peek out, and the roofs also rotate so that the sky can be viewed from any angle.  Very cool!

We heard a talk about Mars and how scientists are discovering signs of frozen water that could prove that some forms of life could possibly exist on the red planet; not human life, of course, but microbes or other small forms that can survive extreme situations such as the brine shrimp that live in Utah's Great Salt Lake. It's amazing what we can discover in a place so far from home.

"God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."  ~Genesis 1:16

The sky was so wondrously clear and free from light pollution, making the stars more clearly visible, that with our naked eyes we could see the redness of Mars and the brightness of Jupiter.  But when we peered through the high-powered telescopes we saw storms on Jupiter, the moons of Mars and the ring on Saturn.  It was fantastic!

Photo by Tamas Kriska (source:  Milwaukee Astronomical Society)

One of the club members shared some fascinating information with us about astronomy.  He said that because of the speed of light, when an astronomer is looking at a far-away galaxy, he is actually seeing stars from 200 billion years ago!  He's looking into history and seeing stars that aren't even there anymore!  Of course this made me think of the timelessness of God and of how St. Padre Pio  prays for people to have a happy death even though they had died many years before.  It's such a hard concept to grasp!  But harder still is what the club member shared next.

"Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are built of star stuff."—Carl Sagan, Cosmos

I wish I had my notebook with me, but even if I had taken notes, I wouldn't be able to properly explain or fully understand it all. He told us that the sun consists of helium, hydrogen and lithium.  Everything else in the universe that does not have those three elements in it, is the result of a star exploding, including the human body!  In other words, our bodies consist of the same matter that is found in the stars in the sky!  How's that for a sign of the magnificence of God?  We are meant to shine with His glory at all times!  Shine on, my friends, sparkle and glitter to glorify the Lord!

"I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate.  As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are.  And if only everybody could realize this!  But it cannot be explained.  There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun"  ~Thomas Merton

To learn more about how our bodies contain atoms dating back to the Big Bang, visit this link.
To learn more about what Catholics believe regarding the Big Bang, here's a good explanation.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  ~Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Touching Heaven

In the middle of the night I lay awake, mind racing through the details of an extraordinarily wonderful weekend, wound up from the joy and beauty of it all.  Six young men had been ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and a wonder like this doesn't happen every day!  How could I possibly sleep when I had so much to thank God for?  It would take a year of sleepless nights, I think, to properly pray all of the gratitude that was welling up within me. Through  my prayerful attendance at these ordinations, I felt as though God had given me an opportunity to reach out and touch heaven.

six new priests:  Fr. Nathan Miniatt, Fr. John Gibson, Fr. Justin Lopina,
Fr. Peter Patrick Kimani, Fr. Jose Mario Nieto Restrepo, Fr. Gideon Buya
Photo courtesy of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary

Ordination weekend began with a beautiful holy hour of intense prayer for the six men to be ordained.  St. Robert's Church in Shorewood was filled with the strains of organ, flute and violin as attendees knelt in adoration of the Lord, begging for blessings upon the priesthood of the men who were about to conform their lives to Christ.

I've been blessed to have attended several ordinations in the past few years, but I've never seen the outpouring of joyful support that Fr. Peter Patrick Kimani from Kenya received from his family and friends who traveled to be with him on his ordination day.  Following the ordination Mass, the above photo was taken, and then each of the six new priests scattered to various parts of the Cathedral to offer their first blessings.   Fr. Peter Patrick was followed by a group of about 20 people who were singing, playing the tambourine and bongo drums and swaying in procession as they followed their new priest to the location of his blessings.  Most of the singing was in Swahili with lots of ululations, but the English I was able to sing along with was "Thank you, Jesus!"  St. John the Evangelist Cathedral was alive with happiness and praise for God!  Later, I was curious about the Kenyan traditions regarding ordinations and so I looked for and found an ordination video online.  What most impressed me in the video was the sight of the Bishop blessing the celebration cake and then feeding it to each of the new priests, much like a bride and groom feed the first piece of wedding cake to each other.  How very fitting that is, since the priest is now married to the Church!  You can watch that video here.

As I stood in line waiting for the blessings of the new priests, I noticed two nuns in habits that I had never seen before and I just had to meet them.  I learned that they were Sister Margaret Mary and Sister Louise Marie, Sisters of Saint Benedict Center Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary  from Still River, Massachusetts.   They were both radiantly beautiful and friendly and it was as though we were old friends even though we had just met.  We spoke about relics and saints and the beauty of several Milwaukee churches, and I look forward to corresponding with them both in the future.  Upon a visit to their website, I learned that their order is committed to keeping the beautiful traditions of our Church alive and to living out their total devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  You can visit their website here to learn more about this beautiful order.

The first Mass for Fr. John Gibson, at St. Hedwig's Church on Milwaukee's East Side, was extraordinarily beautiful, and I cried through nearly the entire Mass.  Fr. Luke Strand, the vocations director for Milwaukee, gave a beautiful homily reminding Fr. John that two of the most important things he will need to remain committed to in his priesthood will be constant prayer and devotion to the Blessed Mother.  At the end of Mass, Fr. John presented his parents with the gifts of his maniturgia and stole.

There is no part of ordination that moves me more than watching the mothers of the new priests present the Archbishop and new priests with the offertory gifts, but then, to see the new priest present his parents with these unique gifts at his first Mass touches me even more deeply.  The maniturgia is the towel that the new priest wipes his hands upon after the Archbishop anoints them with oil.  The tradition is that when his mother passes from this life, she is buried with the towel, and when she reaches heaven, she presents it to God as a sign that she had given Him a priest, and as a result, she will be appointed a special place in heaven.  How lovely!

You may be familiar with Fr. John Gibson as he is the priest dancing the Irish jig in the now-viral video of the dancing deacons at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  If you haven't seen it yet, or want to watch it again, you can find it here and at the end of this post.

Join me in praising God for six new priests in Milwaukee and please keep Fr. Nathan, Fr. John, Fr. Justin, Fr. Peter Patrick, Fr. Jose Mario and Fr. Gideon in your prayers, for through these men and their priesthood, we all are able to reach out and touch heaven when our time on earth is through!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Fr. Solanus Casey

"Man's greatness lies in being faithful to the present moment.  We must be faithful to the present moment or we will frustrate the plan of God for our lives.  We are continually immersed in God's merciful grace, like the air that permeates us."  ~Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey
Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey (source)

St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Milwaukee (source)
St. Francis of Assisi Parish on 4th and Brown St. in Milwaukee, a German Church built in 1876 and run by the Capuchin Franciscans, has recently begun to hold a Blessing of the Sick Prayer Service on the first Friday of every month, at 2 PM, in honor of Fr. Solanus Casey.  Led by Fr. Mike Bertram, with the assistance of Fr. Marty Pable, the prayer service includes an opportunity for confession (at 1:30 PM), scripture readings and a homily, prayer intentions of gratitude and petition, an individual blessing with a relic of the True Cross, and the opportunity for Anointing of the Sick.

Fr. Mike Bertram,
Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish (source)

I had the great joy of attending the most recent service with my sister and my son, and we found it to be deeply touching and filled with compassion for all of those present. Following the service and a light social, we were able to spend quite a bit of time talking with Fr. Bertram, who very generously and graciously shared a bit of the history of the church and the organ with us, as well as the story of Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey, for whom the prayer services are dedicated.

Fr. Bertram shared anecdotes about former pastors of the parish.  He told us about the financial savvy of a pastor from the 1980's whom Fr. Bertram credits with saving the beauty of the parish through great resourcefulness and clever bargaining with local painters.  He also told us about a pastor from the 1970's who had tried to sell the historic pipe organ that is now valued at over one million dollars, but his plan was thwarted, which turned out to be a blessing since the organ was built for the church and never would have sounded the same anywhere else.  The Schuelke Organ, built in 1885 for St. Francis of Assisi Parish, is one of only two in the United States from that era that is still in use today.  In 2013  a local organist offered a free recital hosted by the Wisconsin Chapter of the Organ Historical Society and the Milwaukee Chapter of American Guild of Organists.  For a small sampling of that recital as well as some sights of the inside of the church, visit this link or watch the you tube video at the end of this post.

Historic William Schuelke Pipe Organ from 1885 (source)
When it came to sharing stories of Fr. Solanus Casey, I'm sure that Fr. Bertram could have easily gone on for hours. His love and devotion to Fr. Casey was palpable.  He was clearly proud of the fact that Fr. Casey was a native Wisconsinite.  He told us about how Fr. Casey struggled in his seminary studies, and through a friendship with Archbishop Messmer who led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee at the time (sometimes it really is who you know) and who was impressed with Fr. Casey's holiness, Fr. Casey was ordained as a "simplex" priest, which meant that he was not allowed to preach or hear confessions.  When he was sent to Detroit, Michigan for the humble position of porter, he affected many lives through his ability to listen to their stories, pray for them, and somehow, bring about miraculous healings.  Fr. Casey loved the sick, but he also loved the poor very much and had great success in feeding the poor of Detroit, establishing a soup kitchen that still exists today.  Detroit likes to claim Fr. Casey as their own and he is deeply loved in that area.  Thousands of people make pilgrimages to visit his former home at St. Bonaventure Friary where he lovingly ministered to so many.

For more details about Fr. Solanus Casey and the Father Solanus Casey Guild, visit this link.  For more information about  St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the healing prayer services, visit this link.  And reading this link, a Milwaukee Catholic Herald story promoting the prayer services, has some some great information from Fr. Bertram.  Please note that there will not be a prayer service during the month of June as the Capuchins will be holding their tri-annual conference at this time.  The prayer services will resume on July 4th, 2014.  

Are you, or is someone you know, in need of healing? Why not plan to attend the monthly Blessing of the Sick services and pray to Fr. Solanus Casey for healing.  The peace and comfort you will find at the service and the possibility of a miraculous healing through the intercession of Fr. Casey await! 

relic from the Father Solanus Casey Guild given out at the prayer service


O God, I adore You. I give myself to You.
May I be the person You want me to be,
and may Your will be done in my life today.
I thank You for the gifts You gave to Father Solanus.
If it is Your Will, bless us with the beatification of
Venerable Solanus so that others may imitate
and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.
As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,
I ask You, according to Your Will,
to hear my prayer for . . . (your intention)
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Blessed be God in all His designs.”
Imprimatur: Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of Detroit
March 31, 2007   © F.S.G. 3/07