Thursday, April 9, 2015

Loyola Art Museum

On a recent visit to the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, my family and I made a quick visit to the Loyola University Museum of Art.  Free admission on Tuesday was definitely a bonus.  The museum was very small, consisting of only two floors.  The first floor showcased a Shaker Art display which was beautiful in its simplicity.  The second floor held a display of sacred art from the Renaissance period, my very favorite!  I just have a few snapshots to share of the pieces that moved my heart, without the accompanying descriptions, unfortunately, but the art truly does speak for itself.  For more information about the Loyola University Museum of Art, visit here.  For more on the Martin D'arcy, S.J. Collection, from which all of the images below were taken, visit here.  Martin D'Arcy, SJ, was a Jesuit priest who lived in England from 1888-1976.  This collection is named in his honor.

The head of John the Baptist.  The accompanying description mentioned that those who suffered from headaches and ailments of the head would place their hat upon the face of  St. John to receive healing.

Mother and Child

Nativity Triptych

crucifix and vessels

The Queen of Heaven with four Jesuit saints from left to right:  St. Stanislaus Kostka,SJ,  St. Ignatius Loyola, SJ,
St. Francis Xavier, SJ and St. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ

Ecce Homo (description here)

Crucifixion  Polyptych 

The angel standing below the crucifix is capturing the Precious Blood of Christ in a chalice.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish/the Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy, Chicago

"Along the frenetic Kennedy Expressway, in the heart of Chicago, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church/the Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy, stands as a sign of contradiction, a light to the world, an oasis of life-giving water calling all of God's people to find peace by turning with trust to The Divine Mercy."  ~Fr. Anthony Bus, C. R., pastor

My family and I were blessed to pay a visit St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish/the Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy and home of the world's largest monstrance, Our Lady of the Sign-Ark of Mercy in Chicago.  It was a gorgeous, gorgeous church!  We were greeted at the door by a woman who was mopping the floor.  She was so friendly and welcoming and invited us to come back anytime.  The church is open 24/7 for Eucharistic Adoration.  We will be sure to take her up on her kind offer the next time we are in Chicago.

For more information on St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, visit this link.

greeted by Our Lady in the church vestibule

The confessional looks so welcoming with the open doors!

beautiful stations!

The breathtaking frescoes look like they need some care as the paint is showing signs of peeling.

Isn't the altar magnificent?

altar details

Of course, pictures don't do justice to the beauty of the church.

Adoration is in a side chapel within the main church.

Here I am praying for your intentions.
The image of the Divine Mercy can be seen just beyond the monstrance.  Jesus, I trust in you!

Monday, April 6, 2015

An Honor to be Catholic (or Here Comes Everybody)

Old St. Mary's sanctuary (photo source)

I've been feeling a bit out of sorts in my faith of late.  I've always been very turned off by Catholics who publicly push their agenda for married or women priests or anything that is outside of the official teaching of the Church upon the rest of us Catholics.  And lately, I've begun to feel equally turned off by Catholics who publicly criticize the Pope and who push for only Latin Mass and only male altar servers, and a smaller, purer Church etc.  It's a big Church and we all belong, liberal, conservative and everyone in-between, and yet, it seems to me that we can't seem to stand each other.  Where is the love, I wonder?  Why can't we stop being so pushy?  Why can't we stop being so mean-spirited and small-minded?  Is this what Catholicism is really all about?  Must we constantly fight and criticize and trample upon each other in our efforts to be right and to prove everyone who doesn't agree with us to be wrong?

This dilemma, the constant clash between liberal and conservative Catholics, and people who label themselves as such, instead of simply calling themselves Catholic, and acting in a loving manner toward all, has made for a difficult Lent for me and there were many times when I found myself wondering whether I really belong anywhere in this Church, not really feeling particularly liberal or conservative myself but just loving God with all my heart and desperately wanting to draw closer and closer to Him each and every day.

And then the glorious day of the Easter Vigil arrived.  I had been asked to substitute for a lector and extraordinary minister of the Eucharist at this Mass.  I have been a lector for many years and feel quite comfortable proclaiming God's Word, but I've only served as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist on a few occasions and I have never felt comfortable or worthy enough to offer the very Flesh and Blood of the Lord to others.  But, always wanting to model myself after the Blessed Mother, I said "yes" despite my reservations.

I was so nervous on the day of the Vigil that I actually had asked two different people to take my place and was tempted to ask two others, as well, in an attempt to back out of my promise to help.  NOT like the Blessed Mother at all!  Can you imagine her saying, "Uh, God?  I changed my mind about this whole Mother of Christ thing.  I'm too nervous and unworthy to go through with it.  Can you find someone else?"  Thank God she is so much stronger and braver than I!  But, God's plan for me was clearly to have me follow through on my promise, as those I had actually asked to take my place weren't able to accommodate me.

In the end, offering the Precious Blood of our Lord to the communicants at the Easter Vigil was one of the most beautiful and wonderful things I could have done to have enhanced and strengthened my wavering faith.  As an Oblate of the Precious Blood, affiliated with the Handmaids of the Precious Blood, offering all of my prayers for priests, I felt especially moved and overwhelmed as I stood near the altar and Fr. Mike handed the Blood of Christ to me.  I carefully moved down the steps and waited for the communion procession to begin.

First in line was the woman who was just baptized at the Easter Vigil, followed by the four adults who were received into the Church.  To offer the Blood of Christ to them for their very First Holy Communion, was incredibly touching!  Later, my own family members each bowed to the Lord's Blood and then uttered their "Amen's" as I offered them His Blood to drink.  This was an Easter I will never forget!  This was an Easter where I felt exceptionally proud and honored and moved to be Catholic!

Later, as I spoke with two of the newly received, a married couple, they shared a bit of their story with me about how they had long considered Catholicism and studied it from an intellectual viewpoint before finally committing to it.  Through their story, I realized that even though our Church may look ugly and dismal to those on the inside from time to time, to those on the outside looking in, we are a beautiful Church full of mystery and goodness and the Love of God, sinful and messy and full of complainers though we are.  I feel more blessed and proud than ever to call myself a Catholic and I wouldn't give up the beautiful gift of my Catholic faith for anything in the world!