Saturday, September 15, 2018

one, holy, catholic, and apostolic...

Those are the four marks of the Catholic Church. If you need more background, go HERE for a nice account. The marks are intrinsically linked and they reflect the mission and purpose of the Church.

How interesting, too, that today's reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians would include this:
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one Body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.
Interesting jumping off point for our interesting review of daily Masses this week.


We were at the parish closest in distance to us - we find ourselves here for many daily Masses- because it's a shorter drive/walk than our home parish. It is familiar and welcoming and it's always a good place to find rest and insight. Sometimes, though it is tempting to just go through the motions here because it's so familiar (as anywhere would be after a decade). So, sadly, I can't remember that much of the Mass (forgive me, we were about to embark on a week-long journey) but I do remember chuckling a bit at the first reading:
Your boasting is not appropriate.
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Image result for st bernard mt lebanon
We all struggle with our pet sins and I think the struggle in this parish is often trying not to boast. It is a grand space, cathedral-like in its form, and the temptation is strong to point that out more often that appropriate (a little yeast). Still, Christ was here, present in the Eucharist, and He provided the graces necessary to continue our journey and so we pushed off on our westward adventure.


We were able, after a day of classes, to make it from home to Dublin, Ohio, where we took our rest and rose early enough to make the 4-hour trip to Terre Haute, Indiana, where we attended daily Mass at noon.

This church, building-wise, was pretty traditional. I'm not sure of the history but the inside had that beauty that doesn't come much these days - the virtues painted into the ceiling, the image of the loving God-the-Father looking down over the sanctuary (complete with His triangular halo!)....beautiful worship space.

That's why it was a little confusing when I looked at the non-permanent fixtures, like the banners announcing the prayer meeting for the environment and, later, the priest who trod up the aisle in his tennis shoes. Those giveaways would show, more than the building, what type of Mass this was to be. There were many arms raised during the Our Father and, perhaps, a few eyebrows raised when we genuflected before receiving the Eucharist on the tongue. During the sign of peace, people wandered from pew to pew and Father came out of the sanctuary to shake hands with all the parishioners. Yeah, that last part left me a bit uneasy but, you know, Christ was here, present in the Eucharist, and He provided the graces necessary to continue our journey.


We stayed at an Airbnb in Benton Park, MO on Tuesday night. It just so happened that the St. Francis de Sales Oratory was exactly 3 minutes from our house. I usually scout out places for Mass before we actually show up so I knew this was a Latin Mass community and I knew this:

According to liturgical tradition, and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, Holy Communion is received kneeling and on the tongue. All visitors who are not of the Catholic faith are welcome to join us in prayer, but are requested not to receive Holy Communion. Because the reception of Holy Communion is the sign of Divine and Ecclesial unity, only practicing Catholics who are free of mortal sin, and in full communion with the Catholic Church should present themselves for Holy Communion.
All good, the kids were prepped about the altar rail and we were ready to go. I wasn't quite ready for what we found.

Beautiful edifice

The interior of the church is worn but they are working to restore it.

It's funny because the running joke is that my dh is from the '50s, mainly because of his beliefs about religion, marriage and family. Of course, this kind of extends to me because, well, I'm here too. We're the "weird ones" in a lot of instances because I stay home, we homeschool, have more than 3 kids, etc. Walking into this Mass was like walking back in time and not a little bit like walking into someone else's country club.

I can identify with the "traditional" part. I do think that much of what's wrong with NO is the lack of reverence for the Mass and the Eucharist. I don't think having a veil on your head (to the obsessive point that a mom with her adorable cherub who kept pulling it off spent much of the time struggling to pull it back on) in itself proves that you are reverent. I know people will disagree with me on that, and that's fine. I've never been called to veil (although I may one day) but I have been called to other things (like genuflecting before receiving Communion in NO parishes) and I have also never looked askance at people who do not, in fact, genuflect. It was fairly clear that our unveiled heads were very, very out of place.

That less-than-warm-more-like-frigid greeting (Christ calls everyone, right?) and the fact that we were 10 pews back and could her not word one from the priest (and without the laity response, truthfully, I was lost most of the time) it was less than satisfying. The best part was Communion when you knelt at the rail and had to put your hands beneath the white cloth while receiving so any crumbs of Christ's body could be collected after. That is beautiful.

I'll just sum up with this...I've seen a Latin Mass on tv but never actually attended in person. I'm guessing (hoping) that this was an isolated incident and that daily Mass goers are used to seeing who they recognize and were just put off a bit by newcomers (truthfully, we didn't veil but otherwise, were dressed as nicely as most people there...I know enough not to show up in shorts!). I will reserve an overall reaction until the time comes that I can go to a couple of Latin Masses and see whether this is typical or aberrant. In the meantime, Christ was here, present in the Eucharist, and He provided the graces necessary to continue our journey.


The kids were not that jazzed after Latin Mass to sign up for yet another in a foreign tongue. Still, we were in Peoria and it's not really the Catholic capital of the world (although it has produced at least one notably holy person). So, at 8:00 AM we checked out of the hotel and headed to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. After checking most of the doors, we stumbled on an unlocked side door and proceeded up the hallway into the relic chapel (I knew we were going to a chapel - I research these things - so we weren't tempted to give up when the front doors were locked). We peeked in the door (soooo tiny and beautiful this chapel was! about 10 pews total!) and found a very young Monsignor (he's about 18 months my junior!) sitting in prayer.

Father was so kind in response to our disturbance of his Mass preparation and, after a quick overview of who we were and why we were there, granted us the great treat of opening up the doors to the cathedral. Normally, this would be a fantastic blessing but here it was doubly so. You see, this cathedral is the place where Venerable Fulton J. Sheen became an altar server as a young boy and was then ordained a Catholic priest! The pictures won't do it justice and I can't possibly recount all the amazing pieces of the structure (like the prophets on the ceiling!) so here is a self-tour booklet if you'd like to spend more time here, which I strongly recommend.

the prophet JOEL ;0) (I know you can't see it...crummy phone)

We managed to see as much as possible in the 20 minutes we had, then headed back into the chapel for Mass. Such a small place, I suppose I expected a handful of people but instead there were at least 20, swelling it to capacity. This was Spanish Mass.

It was clear that a. we were ducking in right before the beginning of Mass and 2. we were clearly the only Anglos in the crowd and yet there were smiles from everyone we encountered. Mass was lovely. I love following along in a foreign tongue - it reinforces just how much the Mass is changeless, regardless of language. The sign of peace was as joyful and warm as I would expect (without being liturgically awkward). As had been true in the diverse blend of churches and Masses this week, Christ was here, present in the Eucharist, and He provided the graces necessary to continue our journey.

Oh, immediately following Mass was Exposition and Adoration when, all the people who couldn't even say "peace be with you" in English, were chanting in Latin! I love, love our faith! It is full of surprises!


Parts of Thursday had proved to be extremely trying so it was lovely when we were reunited with dh and could join together for Mass as a family on Friday morning. We were staying in my all-time favorite BnB (because, well, it is in the same building as a huge church!!!) and so it was a bit easier (although not that easy) to wake everyone up and head downstairs for 6:30 AM Mass.

This was no ordinary day so getting up was done with joyful yawning. Today was the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the wonderful Monastery of the Holy Cross (3 years in Minnesota and 27 at this location in Chicago), the wedding anniversary of dear friends, and the 4th anniversary of the baptism of our sweet Godson! Great day to start with Mass!

When we were checking in on Thursday night, I told Fr. Edward that we would be there for Mass on Friday and that the kids would be thrilled because it would be in English for a change. "Well," he said, "the chanting will be in Latin." Indeed it was and indeed it was beautiful to watch these devout men, few in number but abounding in faith, begin this special day by glorifying God. I think God was pleased as well because, right around the Consecration, an amazing "Godray" came through the window and cut down the center of the church. It lasted well beyond Mass and had split into two distinct parts by the time I could take a photo before we left the building. Even without the sunshine, Christ was here, present in the Eucharist, and He provided the graces necessary to continue our journey.

one, holy, catholic, and apostolic...I think this week was by far the most diverse in terms of Masses we've ever attended. Still, even when the Mass looks or sounds a little or a lot different, Christ is there, in His sacrificial love for us, whenever we choose to seek Him. We, though many, all partake of the one loaf. How good is our God? Pretty beyond-words good. We are so blessed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


I was thinking about a tire, then I looked it up to check the spelling and saw the definition:
(of a person or animal) give a loud, harsh, piercing cry.
then I realized, it's a perfect title. So, this first...a recap of some of the last month+
5 weeks of practice then a really wonderful brass camp

my tiny one's prescription for my whining...he's right

we headed across the state to NJ to visit "great" uncle Frank...he's 92 and alone in the world (he has two nephews and a niece...we're the closest) I'm not complaining, at all, about visiting him. I so wish he lived closer. It is so good for all of us to spend time.

he is a dear man

we even had a pseudo-picnic on the turnpike

before U.F., we got to our first game of the season (yes, it was hawaiian night!) we didn't see any baseball. the clouds opened about 15 minutes later.

but it was a great field and the kids meals were served on frisbees ;0)

we've also been looking at houses...many, many houses

some with really, incredible outside space

so, dh& i have begun tearing apart our hopes of selling it for a bit more

down come the plaster and 100-year-old lath

dirty, dusty

difficult job...but, in some ways, cathartic
 we also started school...
hard for me to believe, really

last year of middle school...amazing.
There are many days when I ask God what He was thinking, giving a 40-something five little ones to raise. I will be 50 in just over 4 months and it's crashing down - I don't have the stamina, mental or physical, that I did in the past decade. It's really, really trying around here lately. Something needs to change (or, in His love for me, God will make it change). So, I will do my little bit to draw everyone back to where we need to be...

Starting with me. It's always a fight to get "my time" around here. My kids, thanks to God, come to me for help with almost everything. That's not a bad thing, in itself. I'd rather they turn to me first. Still, they are all capable of staying alive, on their own, for at least an hour (and maybe even more!). It doesn't allow me time to leave and go to the gym but I have begun to disappear to "do work or read" for that short amount of time. I think that's helping us all. 

Lately, I've begun to read the most amazing book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. It's a satire so sometimes my head hurts trying to remember that it's backwards from what it's supposed to be. When I keep it straight, it's really a balm to me. I don't usually turn away from the Bible and Saints for advice but this is what I need at the moment. Just gentle reminders of how I was raised and how it's important now, even if everyone else in society (including those closest to me) say otherwise. So, we'll start again...
walking to a neighbor's home to get some exercise

and spend time with someone who we love very much
impromptu backyard carnivals

I love the thought that they're working together

and creating memories without my directions

family bingo - making a comeback!

and library visits when the weather is bad
There is so much more I need before I can approximate equilibrium around here. Listening to EWTN while I work on this allows me to catch snippets that the Holy Spirit will open my heart to at that moment. Returning to Adoration at least once per week will give me that quiet time with Our Lord to help focus my heart. Daily Mass whenever possible (always with the little ones and hopefully dh on occasion) will bring the grace we need to live together and work to know His will for us. 

It is a veil of tears on many days but it's not hopeless. Dealing with aging, coupled with kids growing at a mind-boggling rate is humbling. Living within a Church that is stained with sin, sometimes as much as the outside world, is something we can't overcome without God in our daily lives. If you feel your life spinning out of your grasp, join me. Let's go back to God first and see if our attitude doesn't change, even if our lives can't at the moment. God is so good and He is always waiting to give us rest. 

We are blessed.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Blessed weekend

We've been trying more actively around here to make Sunday about God and family. It's been a bit easier since school is not in session but, even then, culture has ways of creeping in (trumpet camp on Sunday afternoon - you still get to Mass but it kind of messes up the rest of the day. grr.). Most Sundays look like this - rosary in the car, Mass, family movie, see an open house or three. The last one is decidedly not about God; it's too easy for me to want what society says I should have and not be content with what I need.

This weekend was the first weekend of the month. We've also been making a greater effort to honor and follow the First Friday/First Saturday traditions of the Church. Going to Mass on Friday is a hit-and-miss but we do usually get there on First Friday. This month I took the little two to our local parish and were treated to 1. a delightful homily on God's mercy and Saint Maria Goretti and 2. breakfast with a wonderful priest and his equally wonderful mother following. Even dh took time out of his day to leave the office to attend Mass. I'm guessing those graces combined to make a pretty amazing Saturday.

The four older kids had altar server training/review at our parish Saturday morning. I'm not sure the girls will ever serve at the altar but we believe it a good thing for them to take every opportunity to learn anything you can about the Mass. Normally I would have been eavesdropping, trying to parse out all the knowledge that is transferred to servers but, as luck would have it (ahem) there happened to be confession happening at that exact moment.

I'm not a fan of our parish for confession. I don't like the way that sounded - confession is great anywhere/any time. However, there are priests with whom you connect and those who are less-so. I always think it's funny because I love our priests - their homilies, chatting with them about all sorts of things...the confession experience is kind of, well, meh. Still, it was First Saturday so I was blessed to have the sacrament available with minimal waiting.

Imagine my surprise when I found sitting across from me...not our usual priests, but a lovely retired Father whom we had for Mass earlier in the week. When he began that Mass, I looked at his smiling face and saw, not the priest before me, but a lovely visit from a long-ago friend. Fr. Al was one of the two priests at St. Patrick's with whom I credit keeping me in the Catholic faith. He was a good priest, a good friend and had the most wonderful smile. His passing in 2004, less than a year after marrying us, was devastating to me. In most confessions I sense Jesus and His grace. This time I also saw a dear friend I hadn't seen for over a decade. What a blessed occasion.

We left the training immediately to head south to our monthly date with the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer for First Saturday rosary. We made it with enough time to wander around a bit and visit a grotto that was erected on our wedding anniversary, the feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim.

The sisters were wonderful as always and dh even got to lead a decade this month! It was a pretty funny picture, him and the nuns sitting in the front pew. How God changes you :0) I also got to speak with one of my favorite priests here, Fr. Ed. I do have a soft spot for elderly priests. They have so much wisdom to share.

Back at home, I got a Facebook message from my cousin in Slovakia, reminding me that this was the weekend of the pilgrimage in Lavoca and that she and my cousin, Fr. Peter, would be at the midnight Mass. We watched Fr. Peter concelebrate and wondered at God's amazing feat of joining us with family on another continent. How blessed we are to share this faith across the globe!
He's the big guy on the right in the middle of the photo

There are some amazing cathedrals across the globe but it's pretty spectacular to have that backdrop while you attend Mass ;0)
Sunday was equally blessed with Mass presided over by one of our favorite visiting priests. His homily, as usual, was amazing...speaking of the difference between Lucifer descending to hell out of pride and Christ condescending out of humility. Wow.

And, because God likes to show off His best stuff on Sunday, we followed up Mass with a lecture by an amazingly gifted young priest. Father spoke of Benedictine spirituality and how we must make radical choices if we're to move out of the power of secular society and rejoin God's plan for us. The joy in my heart to hear this young man speak. The hope it gives me for the future. The gift it was for 4/5ths of our kids to be there to listen to his words. Wow.

As I've said before, your mileage may vary...God gives us all amazing experiences of His love and mercy. Yours will be different from mine. The point of this, aside from recording the experiences to remember later when I'm having a dry spell, is to encourage you to just let God do his work in and through you. Free up your schedule; seek Him out in every moment of your day; make an effort to look and listen for Him. You will be amazed.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Getting along...

I think I'm getting old. That or death is moving in quickly. I seem to, as of late, have some of that focused vision that people gain through experience and at the end of life. I put this out as a disclaimer first and foremost...I have, much of the time, failed to master much of this in real life on a consistent basis. There are still moments when loving my neighbor (have you met my neighbors?) is a Herculean task. Still, it's what we're called to and I do believe I'm softening with time (see above).

Someone had posted an article on FB recently. I was something like,"That's really beautiful, but it's not for me" about getting along. There were members of two religious orders sitting on a panel, discussing charisms, when one of them said that exact phrase. The author made the point that if all of us, especially moms, could get to that point...imagine how the competition/depression/comparisons would diminish to almost nothing.

I've had the opportunity to see this in action over the past two days. I've attended daily Mass at a church some distance from my own. I used to call this a "happy-clappy" church but have moved to "waving" as a gentler way to describe it. I can't say Charismatic, per se, because I don't see talking in tongues, jumping, or other things that are sometimes associated with that movement (which I have witnessed at other Masses), just a lot of arm gestures.

I'm grateful for that article because, as much as I felt like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I leaned heavy on that phrase. It's true...waving is not my way to grow closer to God. I prefer Latin, incense, and quiet. I was not in the majority and God was there to sacrifice Himself for all of us. Amazing, huh?

I find myself at that Mass because our kids are attending Maranatha, a Vocation bible school, in which each grade learns about a different Religious Order. God is good to connect the dots because I'm kind of sleep-deprived as of late.

If there are so many different Orders, each with a different Charism, in religious life, why would He have created those of us non-consecrated folk to be any different? Let's look at the Benedictines...there are 100 Benedictine houses across America and most of those are further divided among four major congregations: American=Cassinese, Swiss-American, St. Scholastica, and St. Benedict.

This is why it's difficult to even call someone a "Traditional" or a "Charismatic" because among those are a miriad of ways in which the person may express their devotion to and gifts from God.

So, let's agree to disagree or, better yet, just agree to get along. Perhaps a waving church isn't to your taste. That's really ok. I would challenge you, however, to see the goodness that the people at those Masses bring to the worship. If it's destracting (like it is for me) just find a church that isn't so much or is more to your call from Him. He created so many types of people and expressions to give Him glory...surely you can find one for you.

If not, there's always the opportunity to begin your own. I'm thinking I may know a few people who would like to begin a cloistered family order with my friend and me. If so, contact me through email...there are still a lot of bugs to work out. ;0)

Ultimately, I pray that through your search for God, you will find the way in which He is calling you to praise and follow Him. It doesn't have to be like me. That's not the only way. Your way is beautiful but it may not be for me and vv. Let's just follow Him and His call and see if it doesn't help everyone in the end.

Oh, one last note. If you find yourself in the library trying to work and there is a girl behind you talking non-stop, or in the subway with a bunch of kids running wild while their mom plays on her phone, or even at traditional Mass when you are definitely the waving type...offer up your discomfort and upset. I know for a fact that God can use every ounce of that for good and many of us could use some of those graces. You may even walk away feeling pretty pleased that you could go through it and keep your peace intact.

We are blessed.