Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shhh....It's a Library Post!

Photo Credit:   John Bender

I've always been a lover of libraries and was blessed to work as a "Page" at the Manitowoc Public Library during my high school years.  My favorite library, The Salzmann Library, on the campus of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee, has been the subject of many blog posts here, and I've enjoyed reading other's library posts, as well, such as a post on the world-famous Kansas City Library, One of the Most Unusual Libraries in the World, by Christi Jentz and Milwaukee's Sublime (Public) Library by Cream City Catholic.  (Please do take the time to visit both of those posts and the links they provide as well-you will love them!)

Recently my children and I had the great privilege of visiting a library that completely took my breath away.  I was astonished by it's beauty and saddened that my time there was far too short.  Much to my chagrin I was equally saddened that, although I took many photos of my favorite parts of the library, they were accidentally deleted from my camera.  Thankfully, my son, John, took a few photos which he generously shared with me, and I found lots of google images as well, so I have shared some of them here, but you can find so many more with a simple google search.  It may be a while before I find another opportunity to visit the Feehan Memorial Library and McEssy Theological Resource Center at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, which is renown as one of only 250 of the world's greatest libraries, so I will try to put the missing pictures into words and share the beauty of that magical place of learning here and now without waiting for another trip to Illinois to capture more photos.

If you are ever afforded the opportunity to visit St. Mary of the Lake Seminary at Mundelein, after enjoying the beautiful grounds, lush with lakes and gardens and statues, and perhaps after bending your knees in prayer in the bright and spacious chapel, do pay a visit  to the Feehan Memorial Library, and, like a book that you just don't want to finish and return to the library, be renewed.

Photo Credit:  John Bender

Photo Credit:  John Bender

Photo Credit:  John Bender

Silenced by the Wonder

Open the door to hush and coolness and beauty, leave the natural and architectural feats behind, and bask in the wonder of books towering three floors high.

Stack after stack of knowledge is waiting to be imparted to those seeking the treasure of wisdom and learning that is available here.  I can't help but ponder whether the knowledge found in this library will be shared in future homilies.

For in a building not too far away, bishops and priests and seminarians still in training find that this source of knowledge is theirs for the taking.  And it's not only men of the cloth who can take advantage of this wonder, but anyone who thirsts after meaning and understanding in this world today and is eager to find that which they seek in the written word, in the wealth of timeless books written across the centuries. Who would not be overjoyed by this gift to be had for free?

Climb the metal spiral to the furthest hidden away corner on the third floor to find rows of Civil War history books wrapped and tied with cloth. Best to leave them wrapped and tied, I suppose.  Why loosen the wounds of war in a world already besieged with too many battles?

Just below another spiral stair, a quiet lounge awaits, immaculately clean and inviting, with relics and statues of Our Lovely Lady to enchant the visitor and accompany the student working quietly nearby.

Oh, blessed librarian, who quietly sits in waiting for those who come to explore the written words held within the hallowed walls of this magnificent library, may you long bring the joy of knowledge to those who enter your world of silent wonder!

google images
google images/Mundelein Seminary

google images

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Sisters of St. Rita Rosary Walk

The Sisters of St. Rita, Augustinian Sisters in Racine, Wisconsin, whose charism is to care for the elderly at St. Monica's Senior Living, have completed a gorgeous rosary walk behind St. Monica's. The garden walk, made with natural elements and breathtaking works of art by Aichim Klass from Ontario, Canada, is a perfect place to meditate.  Just behind the large crucifix there are two small, flowering bushes and a brand-new statue of the Blessed Mother with the infant Jesus, which was recently dedicated by Bishop Hying.  The bushes and the statue represent the beads upon which we pray for an increase in faith, hope and charity.  Behind the statue, visitors may walk the circular rosary path.  Each bush on the path represents one bead of the rosary.  The mysteries of the rosary are displayed on cement plaques that are also the work of Aichim Klass.  The entire rosary walk is beautiful and a great way to honor our Lady in prayer and to find some peace for your heart as well.  Visitors are always welcome, no need to call ahead.  Perhaps, until you can find an occasion to visit, you would enjoy praying with the pictures below which were all taken by my daughter, Mary.  Yet, as beautiful as the pictures are, they can't compare to praying with the images in person, so please do plan to pray at the Sisters of St. Rita Rosary Walk soon and often!  For more information about the Sisters of St. Rita Rosary Walk, visit their facebook page here.

Faith, Hope and Charity

the walk
A Hail Mary Bead
The First Mysteries

The Second Mysteries

The Third Mysteries

The Fourth Mysteries

The Fifth Mysteries

Thursday, August 14, 2014


"There he was transfigured before them.  His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no fuller on earth could whiten them."  ~Mark 9:3

The late evening sunshine filters through the lace of the curtains casting floral patterns of light and shadow upon the bedroom door.

Worn from the busyness of the day, I pause from my activities, enchanted by the simple beauty of the curtains revealed in a way I'd never before considered, not hanging on the window keeping the light out, but reflected upon the door bringing the light in.

Is my tired mind playing tricks on me?  For I'm certain I see an image that wasn't there upon first glance. Could it be Christ peeking out of the curtain's reflection?  Has my Lord come to visit me?  Is it Him standing there, white garment shining as if it had been touched by the fuller's lye, transfigured for my eyes alone?

Is He watching me, watching over me, drawing me into His light?  I can't take my eyes off of Him, and long after the sun sets and the shadows disappear, I watch for Him, hope for His return, not in a shadow on my bedroom door, but within my heart, where He will forever live.

Shine in my heart, Lord.  Illuminate my soul.  May the simplicity of Your beauty show forth with my every word, gesture and movement.  Let me be the curtain through which the world may see You.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fragments

"Even if you aren't good, God will love you into goodness, if you allow it.  And God will love you into generosity, and He will love you into honesty, if you open your heart to Him."  ~Bishop Richard Sklba

Retired Auxiliary Bishop Sklba
At Old St. Mary Parish we are blessed to pray with retired auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba two mornings each week at daily Mass and on some Sunday mornings as well.  My family has come to love him and my children often comment that they think it would be great if he were a grandfather to them.  His gentle, quiet style makes for peaceful prayer and he never fails to leave his homily listeners with a nugget or two of wisdom that can draw us closer to the Lord.

On a  recent Sunday morning when the Gospel reading was about the loaves and the fishes (Matthew 13:14-21), Bishop Sklba shared a story about a now-deceased Carmelite Sister at the Carmel of the Mother of God in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, who had written a poem called The Leftovers, and dedicated it to him.  I immediately lit up with excitement knowing that he was speaking about one of my favorite poets, Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit, also known as Jessica Powers.

Although I have read quite a bit of Jessica Powers' poetry, I could not recall reading The Leftovers.   I was unable to find it online so I finally broke down and purchased every book of hers that I could find. I am so glad to have made those purchases because I will be relishing her poetry over and over again for years to come.  The Leftovers, copied below, has much food for thought, pardon the pun.  I especially love the last line, "the fragments, too, were miracles of love."
Jessica Powers-
Sr. Mirian of the Holy Spirit

The Leftovers by Jessica Powers

With twenty loaves of bread Elisha fed
the one hundred till they were satisfied,
and scripture tells us there was bread left over.
Jesus did more:  with five small barley loaves
and two dried fish he fed five thousand men,
together with their wives and children, all
neatly arranged upon the cushioned grass.
The awed disciples, when the crowd had eaten,
gathered up what was left:  twelve baskets full.

Who then received these fragments?  Hopefully,
the least (though not less favored) and the poor.
I think of those who always seem to get
the leavings from the banqueting of others,
the scraps of bread, of life, that goodness saves.
I pray that they come proudly when invited,
make merry at their meal, and have their fill,
and rise up thankfully, remembering
the fragments, too, were miracles of love.

How often do we find ourselves getting by on fragments-cleaning out the last bit of food in the refrigerator before shopping for more, wearing an old pair of threadbare socks before finding and taking the time to do the laundry, scrounging around in our wallets to find the last dollar to give to our children for bus fare or school lunch, running out of energy and dozing off while reading a bedtime story to a toddler; giving the very last of who we are and what we have in service to the Lord and to others.  We use our resources and our very selves completely in our efforts to follow the Gospel.  Very often the ordinary moments of our entire lives are the fragments that God uses to reveal His love. And we ourselves are fragments when we are tired, hungry, over-worked, and low on funds.  We are miracles of God's love, each and every one of us, miracles meant to bring His deep love that dwells within our souls to the world around us, sharing all that we have, even though it might not be very much, with one another, so that all might know His love.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beautiful Churches in Wisconsin and the Midwest

Old St. Bruno Dousman, Wisconsin-photo credit:  Roamin' Catholic Churches
Last year I wrote a post about the Seven Most Beautiful Churches in Milwaukee which has become one of the most popular posts on Imprisoned in my Bones.  It seems that a beautiful house of worship is quite important in bringing about deeper prayer in the hearts of those who worship.

With a hat-tip to one of my favorite Wisconsin bloggers, The Badger Catholic, I have found a fairly new Wisconsin blog that is completely dedicated to beautiful churches.  Roamin' Catholic Churches is "A site diving into the architecture, decor, and geography of Roman Catholic churches and other noteworthy places, mostly in Wisconsin and the Greater Midwest."

The blogger keeps a map of all of the churches he's visited and includes his own photographs as well as a little background on the churches.

It's well worth a visit to the blog and perhaps to the churches themselves if you are able!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Profess Courage

"Courage daughter!  Your faith has saved you!"  ~Matthew 9:22

"Do not panic, but look to Christ."  ~St. Francis de Sales

"Be not afraid."  ~Pope St. John Paul II

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for You are with me."  ~Psalm 23

You are not powerless.
Fear is powerless.
Fear was crucified-
crowned and pierced
by the blackest of sins.
But our God rose above
the pounding of the heart
the sweating of the palms
and the terror of the imagination.

He faced fear head-on
and conquered it.
And now He holds your hand
and gently guides you
as you face your own fears.

What is there to fear?
Put your trust in Him, child of God.
Kick the shackles of fear aside
and profess courage.
Look deep inside and find
His strength thriving within your soul.
Believe in His love for you
and live.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Defending the Eucharist

"Lord, it is good for us to be here." ~Matthew 17:4

Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Sheboygan, Wisconsin (photo by John Bender, Go Forward, Make Noise)

 With a Black "Mass" pending in Oklahoma City, Catholics in Oklahoma are asked to participate in a nine-day novena of prayer and fasting to bring about a cancellation of those plans.  The prayer and fasting includes Eucharistic Adoration and abstaining from meat from the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6th through the Feast of the Assumption on August 15th. Bishop Slattery from Tulsa has joined in the calls for prayer and fasting from Archbishop Coakley stating, "I am also asking that you consecrate your hunger with a daily recitation of the rosary and the familiar Prayer to Saint Michael."  Read more here and here.

My family and I want to do all that we can to defend the Eucharist and join in the novena for Oklahoma City with additional prayer and fasting.  My son Jack and I made a one-hour pilgrimage to Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Sheboygan today for their  Chaplet of Divine Mercy Holy Hour with Fr. Matthew Widder.  The holy  hour is held every Wednesday at 4:30 pm.  In his homily, Fr. Matthew spoke about the need for Catholics to pray for an increase of faith in the Eucharist and reaffirmed the call for prayer from Archbishop Coakley and Bishop Slattery.   With the talented organist Jake Heidel leading the music, and the very holy and humble Fr. Matthew Widder leading the prayers, the well-attended holy hour was extremely beautiful and surely effective at bringing honor and glory to Jesus and, God-willing,  the demise of the Black "Mass" plans.  

From the holy hour prayer booklet:

Act of Faith in the Divine Eucharist (Saint Gregory VII)

I believe in my heart and openly profess, that the bread and wine which are placed upon the altar, are by the mystery of the sacred prayer, and the words of the Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and life-giving Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ Our Lord, and of Christ which was born of the Virgin Mary, and offered up for the salvation of the world, hung upon the Cross, and now sits at the right hand of the Father and there is present the true Blood of Christ, which flowed from his side. They are present not only by means of a sign, and of the efficacy of the Sacrament, but also in the very reality and truth of their nature and substance. Amen.

Christ's Mercy

My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world.  Who can measure the extent of My goodness?   For you, I descended from heaven to earth, for you I allowed Myself to be nailed to the cross;  for you I let My Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you.  Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain.  I never reject a contrite heart.  Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My Mercy.  Do not argue with Me about your wretchedness.  You will give Me pleasure if you hand over to Me all your troubles and griefs.  I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace.  (Words of Jesus given to Sister Faustina.)  St. Maria Faustina, through your earnest prayers obtain God's mercy for us and the whole world.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Funeral for a Priest

As an Oblate of the Precious Blood, I feel compelled to pray, not only for living priests, but for the souls of deceased priests as well.  Last May I attended a funeral for a good and holy priest, Fr. Joseph Baran.  According to his long-time friend, Fr. Norbert Kieferle from Indiana, "Fr. Baran was the oldest Polish priest in the Badger State.  He was 92 years old when he died from a sudden heart attack, although he didn't have heart disease, and his mind remained sharp until the end."  The funeral Mass was sparsely attended which made me sad.  I've always imagined that people would be spilling out of the church at the funerals of priests as a witness to all of the lives that they have touched, but perhaps, due to his advanced age at passing, most of the lives he had touched had gone before him.  Hopefully the few people there prayed all the more for Fr. Baran's soul and made up in fervor for what was lacking in physical presence.

I didn't know Fr. Baran personally, although he had sent me a letter with a donation for Roses for Our Lady a few years previously.  His letter and donation gave me great encouragement in my work with Roses for Our Lady. When I heard of his passing I wanted to pray for him at his funeral in gratitude for his kindness to me and the organization that is so dear to my heart.

Fr. Baran had pre-planned his funeral and chose his friend, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz from Nebraska, to preside and preach.  Bishop Bruskewitz drove through the night to reach Milwaukee in time for the Mass as his flight had been canceled.  He gave a beautiful and brilliant homily.  He said, "We're not here to canonize Fr. Baran, but we are here to pray for him, to shorten his time in purgatory.  Any dust that has collected on his garments through the years, any mud that gathered on his shoes, we are to pray that clean so he may hurry to the moment when Christ will meet him and say ''Well done my good and faithful servant.'"  He spoke about the dignity of the priesthood and the great role that the humble parish priest has in the lives of his parishioners, and then shared just a few memories of the great friendship that he shared with Fr. Baran when the bishop was still a priest in Milwaukee.

I was especially grateful for Bishop Bruskewitz's comments about purgatory and the necessity of praying for Fr. Baran's soul.  In the words of the Purgatory Lady, Susan Tassone, "No one is more dead than a dead priest because no one prays for him.  We tend to leave off too soon praying for our deceased priests and religious. We tend to "canonize" our clergy and loved ones immediately after death. They are the most abandoned souls in purgatory including those souls whose families do not believe in the doctrine of purgatory and  our protestant brothers and sisters.  We say  they have suffered enough, they are in Heaven. We determine the state of their soul at death. Only God can judge their souls. If they are in Heaven, praise God! Our prayers are never wasted.

There is a great shortage of priests. We do not know whether we will have the privilege of having a priest at our side at the hour of our death. Pray for our deceased priests in purgatory. Beg them to intercede to grant the grace of final repentance for you and your whole family and all future generations until the end of time and in exchange you will pray for them. At the hour of your death, you will be surrounded by all the priests for whom you opened the door to Heaven.  

In turn, they will escort you to the heavenly banquet."

Not only did I pray for Fr. Baran at his funeral and continue to pray for his soul daily, but I also pray to him, certain that he now has a special place in the heart of God and can intercede ever more strongly for those who pray to him.  On the Feast of St. John Vianney, patron of priests, won't you join me in praying, not only for living priests, but for the souls of all of those priests who have passed this earthly realm, as well as to ask for their intercession on your own behalf and on the behalf of your loved ones?

The Holy Cure of Ars by E. Cabuchet
A Prayer For Priests  from the Sanctuaire D'
(my words in italics)

Lord Jesus, with Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, we entrust to your care all the priests we know, those we have met, those that have helped us, those you give to us today as fathers, and those who have passed from this life.

You have called each by name.  For each one, we praise you and we beseech you:  keep them faithful to your Name.  For you consecrated them so that, in your Name, they might be our pastors.  Give them strength, confidence and joy in accomplishing their mission.

May the Eucharist that they celebrate nourish them and give them courage to offer themselves with you on behalf of the lambs that we are.  Plunge them into your heart of Mercy, so that they always bear witness to your forgiveness.  May they be true worshippers of the Father, so that they teach us the true path to holiness.

Father, with them we offer ourselves to Christ for the Church:  may She be a missionary Church moved by your Spirit.  Teach us quite simply to love our priests, to respect them and to receive them as a gift that comes from your hand, so that together we accomplish better your work for the salvation of all.


O God, you raised Your servant, 
to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, 
according to the Order of Melchisedech, 
giving him the sublime power to offer the Eternal Sacrifice, 
to bring the Body and Blood of Your Son Jesus Christ down upon the altar, 
and to absolve the sins of men in Your own Holy Name. 
We beseech You to reward his faithfulness and to forget his faults, 
admitting him speedily into Your Holy Presence, 
there to enjoy forever the recompense of his labors. 
This we ask through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord.