Daily Mass Project – How Great Thou Art!

 St. Bartholomew – Middleburgh Heights – Sunday – July 9th

Initial Thoughts: Allow me to share my most favorite part of this church, even before walking in:  IMG_7656

After walking in to the worship space, I immediately thought of Sacred Heart of Jesus in Euclid. They are both very similar in the layout and design. The Stations of the Cross are beautiful. At first I thought there was only one color in each but after looking around, you can see all of them have multitudes of color.

Opening Hymn: Canticle of the Sun

Celebrant: Fr. Leonard Bacik, Pastor

Gospel: Matthew 11:25-30; includes the scripture:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Homily Reflection: During these lazy days of summer, it’s easy to think we don’t have a care in the world. But trouble doesn’t take a vacation and burdens in December are just as heavy as they are in July. Our prayer list can be just as long. Jesus knows all about carrying heavy loads too heavy to lift and anguish that’s too hard to explain. What are the 3 burdens we are carrying now? Which ones would we like to lay down? Father suggested we write down our top 3 burdens, fold that piece of aper and place it in a bible or put it behind a crucifix in our homes and ask Jesus to carry it for us.

Offertory Hymn: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.

Closing Hymn: Quite possibly the most stirring and beautiful rendition of How Great Thou Art I’ve ever heard. All 4 verses sung by all of us and the choir and it sounded just magnificent.

Holy Moments: During the intercessions, I heard prayers for “those who can’t afford vacations with their families,” and “those who are cynical, depressed, and lost,” and for the soul of a young man of 22 years of age who had died recently from their parish whose name was Marcus.  The hymns chosen to be sung as well as the homily and the beauty of this church really made it one of the more memorable ones for me.


St. Stanislaus – Cleveland – Tuesday July 12th 8:30am

 

Initial Thoughts: The pictures don’t do this Shrine justice. I’m so ashamed to admit that it took me this long to finally get to St. Stans. It seemed like almost everyone I told about the DMP would always ask me “Have you been to St. Stanislaus yet?” I knew it was going to be a sight to behold but I really had no idea what I was in for when I walked in.

Celebrant: Fr. Eric Orzech, Pastor

The homily was wonderful and short and sweet and there were only 6 of us in attendance. But what was most interesting was this woman who said her name was “Bets.” (short for Betsy of course). She was awesome. She told my friend Jim and myself all about the church, as much as she could for the short time we were there.

I found out Pope John Paul II visited here in 1969, when he was just Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. He presented the church with a relic of St. Stanislaus, pictured here:IMG_7690

Then, in 2014, Pope John Paul II’s former personal secretary visited and gifted St. Stans with this first class relic of JP2. IMG_7688

It was suggested that instead of rushing around trying to snap pictures, that I give myself a tour when they are open during the weekend using this guide.

Between all the altars and the stained glass and the statues, there’s so much to see; I would want to take my time. So perhaps someday, a self-guided tour is in my future. In the meantime, here’s my favorite part – An Icon of St. John Paul II and St Stanislaus written in Krakow Poland in 2007:IMG_7672


Mary Queen of Peace – Cleveland – Tuesday July 18th – 6pm – Lower Level Chapel

Mary Queen of Peace is the merged parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel and Corpus Christi in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland.

Initial Thoughts: It’s unfortunate I couldn’t make it to a Sunday mass to see the large cathedral-like main worship space because from what I have heard, it’s beautiful. Here’s the outside view:

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But it’s okay because I attended this mass with my second cousin and my Great-Aunt and Uncle. This was ultimately my goal with the DMP – To meet up with people at their own parishes to have mass together. Or to try and find someone to meet up with me. But it’s really difficult to get schedules to match, but this time, it worked out perfect!

Celebrant: Fr. Richard Bona (In Residence)

Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Homily Reflection: Sometimes we think we haven’t been blessed enough by God. We tend to focus on what we lack instead of realizing what we have. We think this gospel doesn’t apply to us. We are the ones who have received many gifts and respond to God’s inviting Word to live a holy life and to love him with all our hearts. Because, despite what we think of our gifts or lacktherof, our God is a generous God.

Holy Moments: Simply being with my family that I haven’t had a chance to see lately was the only holy moment I needed. 🙂 What was really cool was seeing this outside on the fence by the school/parking lot: IMG_7800IMG_7798

So you might be thinking, “What’s so interesting about that? What is that?”

Turns out, some years ago (can’t recall exactly when) the church put up these flowers with the names of the families who went there and what year they graduated from the grade school.  Here is the one representing my cousins: IMG_7799

Simple but a great way to “beautify” a fence!!!


St. Brendan – North Olmsted – Wednesday July 19th – 8:30am – Chapel

Celebrant: Fr. Terry Grachanin

Initial Thoughts: I didn’t get any pictures of the chapel but that’s because I was let in to the church/main worship space itself because, hey, “I know a guy.” 🙂  Fr. Terry is a friend from my nephews parish of St Charles and we also attended the Way of Beauty course in Pennsylvania in May. St. Brendan’s is his new assignment and I wanted to be sure to get to a mass he celebrated.  Fr. Terry and the seminarian (Kevin) gave me a brief lesson on all things St. Brendan (Irish, known as “The Navigator” and…some other stuff I can’t remember, ha! Sorry Father! I should have taken notes!) But the BEST tidbit of info? I now know what TINY SAINTS are! How adorable are these things???saint-faustina-tiny-saint-charm-2054612

I’m ordering several for myself. Or if someone is looking for birthday gift for me (September 9th) I’ll take one St. Michael and one St. Mary Magdalene.

1st Reading: Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12

Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27

Homily Reflection: So in the first reading, Moses sees the burning bush and God speaks to him, telling him that he will be the one to rescue the people of Israel out of Egypt. But Moses doesn’t think he is qualified. Fr. Terry mentioned 4 things happen during these “Divine Calls” from God:

  1. You receive the call from God
  2. The response is usually one of lowliness and unworthiness, or incompetence
  3. God gives the person assurance that they can do this
  4. The specific task is performed

The greatest example we have is of course the Annunciation. Mary’s yes changed it all for us. And even though we are no Virgin Mary, we’re no Moses or prophet either, we cannot refuse to answer when God calls us. We may be fearful or have doubts of our abilities, or lack of trust in God that He has a plan for our lives.

Holy Moments: I will interject my own thoughts here and say I recently had a very long struggle with trusting in God’s plan for my own life. And lo and behold, He showed me that I just had to trust and surrender to Him, and it will all work out. And it has!


The next blog post will sort of serve as a “conclusion” to the Cleveland Daily Mass Project, as I have accepted a position in Ann Arbor Michigan. I MAY have to continue the DMP but with 300 parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit, this could be really difficult. 🙂 Pray for me to continue on with this initiative that I have loved so much. 

 

 

Daily Mass Project – Michiana Edition

Trinity Lutheran Church – Elkhart, Indiana – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ  – June 11th

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Stunning sanctuary.

Presider: Pastor Spencer Mielke

Gospel: John 6:51-58

Initial Thoughts: My first Lutheran service! Very exciting! (This is what excites a SuperCatholic like me these days). My friends Spencer and Christopher are Pastors here at Trinity and having never attended a Lutheran service before, I was invited to come on my way home from Notre Dame/Vita Institute.

During the mass, I really only noticed differences from a Roman Catholic service during the liturgy itself, such as:

The Creed had different wording. I’m pretty sure this is the one we said:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life; Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spoke by the prophets. And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and life of the world to come. Amen.

The Confession of Sins had different wording as we knelt to pray it together:

All-Powerful God, merciful Father, I, a poor, pitiful sinner, confess to You all my sins and unrighteousness. By them I have continually offended You and fairly deserved Your punishment, both now and eternally. But from my heart I am sorry for them, and I sincerely repent of them, and I pray You, in Your limitless mercy for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being.

No need to open a worship aid/missal to follow along because the words were projected onto the screens they had up which was a great help to those of us who were not the “regulars.” 🙂

Homily Reflection: You can hear the whole thing right here under June 18th.   He had projected the icon of Rublev’s Trinity on the screen as he referred to the previous week’s celebration of the Feast of the Trinity.

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And then went into why we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ this weekend, two central doctrines of our faith.

We are invited into this eternal exchange of love, this communion of persons, this family.

And what will it look like? It’s a communion of saints – this is our destiny. Spencer shared this image during the homily at this point:

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We are made for communion! But unfortunately, we live in so much dis-union. Division among our fellow countrymen, our friends, our families. That’s what sin does, it tramples on unity.

We have no way to fix our mess and come back to God, and God knows this so what does He do. He comes back to us through The Incarnation.

The 2nd person in the Trinity came down from heaven for us. In the Flesh and the Blood of Jesus of Nazareth IS GOD!

My favorite part EVER comes around the 9:35 mark in the homily that you can hear for yourself. It’s entitled The Body and Blood of Christ – The Center of Our Lives!

There’s a reason why Jesus’ arms on the cross are spread wide open to us. This is that 2nd person of the Trinity, in that exchange of love, opening His life and His heart to you and to me and inviting us in to that sacrifice. Because you see THAT flesh and blood, as sinless as it is, comes into contact with YOUR flesh and blood, and MY flesh and blood, as sinful as it is, and obliterates that sin and makes us holy and brings us back into that scene.

Holy Moments: Pastor Spencer’s homily concluded by having us sing Down in Adoration Falling which is such a beautiful hymn and very appropriate for the feast. It was just such a pleasure to hear him preach as I’ve never heard a sermon by him or my friend Chris. And now that I have the link to their website, I’m going to gladly feed my homily addiction by listening every chance I am able to.

I was able to meet Spencer’s wife ever so briefly and I was able to spend a lot of time with Chris and his wife Rachel and their three adorable children. It’s always great to reunite with my TOB friends and now that I know that Elkhart Indiana isn’t too far of a drive for me, I will definitely make a point to visit again to get some Lutheran love!


Feast of Corpus Christi Mass – St. Francis Convent – Mishawaka, Indiana – Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

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Prior to making the drive to Elkhart, I first went to Mishawaka to visit the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. They invited all of us who were a part of the Vita Institute (see previous blog post) to come join them for Morning prayer and then stay for mass and  the Corpus Christi procession on their grounds. I’ve never taken part in a procession like that so it was a welcome treat. (They have better pictures on their website from past processions) and much better photos of the worship space itself like this one: SOPA

as opposed to mine that I snapped just about 10 minutes prior to Morning Prayer: IMG_7341

I didn’t get a chance to stop into their Adoration Chapel but here is a beautiful photo of it:

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These lovely holy women dedicate their lives for the Kingdom of God. And they spend hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament praying for all of us. We carry the Eucharist into the world and bring the fruits of our adoration to all our activities. Thus, our whole life becomes a single act of adoration and praise of God.

I was so grateful to have met 3 of these Sisters as they attended the Vita Institute and then to pray and worship with them as a great treat. They are praying for me and they will pray for you too. In fact, you can submit your prayer request to them here.


Christ the King – Ann Arbor, Michigan – 5:30pm – Friday June 23rd

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From their website:

We are a personal parish of the Diocese of Lansing under Bishop Earl Boyea. As a personal parish, we do not have a territory that we are responsible for like most parishes. Instead we are officially called to minister to Catholics who are seeking a deeper presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Our liturgies and overall ministry are oriented to encourage growth in the Holy Spirit and the charismatic gifts that He wishes to provide.

Our spiritual life as a parish is characterized by four elements. We are charismatic, contemplative, Eucharistic, and Marian.

Initial Thoughts: Until I read the website just now, I had no idea they were a diocese of Lansing and not Detroit. But after reading the description of their history, that made more sense. This church sits on land directly located adjacent to the property of Domino’s Farms, the corporate headquarters of Domino’s Pizza, whose founder is Tom Monaghan. This guy! He’s a devout Catholic AND founded a pizza chain? How did I not know this? What a great man of God. Read more about him here and here.

As for the church itself, I stopped in to their perpetual adoration chapel first before heading to the mass. I was told to check out the staircase that leads up to the Sanctuary – The word “Sanctus” is engraved in each of the 3 steps. IMG_7367IMG_7366

Note the Icons of all 4 Evangelists behind the Sanctuary. Stunning!

Homily Reflection: I’m just going to skip over this part and say 2 things:

1. The presider was a visiting priest.

2. We don’t come to mass to hear a great homily, we come for the Eucharist. (That’s my charitable way of saying I didn’t enjoy the homily). Forgive me.

Holy Moments: Seeing my friend AnnMarie lector and not even knowing this was her parish and HER not knowing I was coming to attend. Surprise! And also spying Catholic “superstar” Dr. Mary Healy sitting in the pews. I had the awesome privilege of meeting her at the Seminary the next day. I’m pretty sure I scared her as I babbled on about how her book (Men and Women are From Eden) helped me teach TOB to my non-Catholic friends and how I love her writing style, etc. I admit it, I fawned over her. 🙂

Considering CTK is known for it’s Charismatic liturgy I should probably go back on a Sunday to write a better blog for the DMP. Stay tuned…


Our Lady of Good Counsel – Plymouth, Michigan – Saturday June 24th – 8:30am – Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

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Presider: Fr. John Simoneau

Initial Thoughts: This is my 4th trip to Plymouth to visit this “second home” of mine. I visited last fall and blogged about the Alpha experience I had there and have been addicted ever since. As anyone who attends this mega-church will tell you, it’s unique in that they really try and make you feel as if you are the most important person to walk through their doors. I’ve had 4 people, 2 of whom had met me for about all of 10 minutes, offer their spare bedrooms for me to stay if I ever needed to for as long as I needed to as I try and find a job up there. Radical hospitality? Yeah, pretty sure OLGC gets that part.

Their mission is to offer every person in their community (and even if you’re a visitor, you’re a member of their community!) a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. From their website: We exist to offer every person in our community a life-changing encounter with the person of Jesus so that we can grow evermore as His intentional disciples so that we can offer an evermore credible witness to the difference Jesus alone can make.

So yes, it’s obvious. I have a thing for OLGC. 🙂

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Homily Reflection: I didn’t actually take notes on Fr. John’s homily, thinking “I’ll remember to write down some quick notes afterwards.”  That totally didn’t happen. #SuperCatholicFail. In the meantime, OLGC posts most of the Sunday homilies on their YouTube Channel or Fr. John Riccardo’s podcast library.

Holy Moments: I’m clearly biased because as soon as I get out of my car in the parking lot and make my way to the grotto or the Garden of Gethsemane before heading into the church itself, it feels like a giant holy moment. There’s reverence here. There’s hospitality here. There’s peace here. Maybe because Plymouth itself just feels like Main Street USA, Americana, apple pie and all that good stuff. Maybe it’s the fact that OLGC is a Marian parish. Or maybe it’s just simply that people here in this community exude something that says, “We’re here to help you and meet you wherever you are at in your journey. Tell us how we can do that.”


Next week I’m going to attempt to write a blog about my 3 dear sisters in Christ and their Consecration of Virginity ceremony that took place on Saturday June 24th in Detroit. They are the first 3 women in the Archdiocese of Detroit to consecrate themselves to Jesus as a part of this Rite and it’s something I am discerning as well. There’s plenty of confusion about it, however, from secular to Catholics alike, and I hope my little blog will serve as a good source of information to clear up some of this confusion.

Daily Mass Project – Notre Dame Edition

19092599_10100262755303354_1284647603911676525_oA couple weeks ago I had the privilege to be selected with 46 other people across the world to attend the Vita Institute at the University of Notre Dame. From their website:

The Vita Institute is an intensive interdisciplinary training program for leaders in the national and international pro-life movement. The Vita Institute aims to further enhance participants’ expertise and prepare them to be even more effective advocates on behalf of the unborn. Held for a week every summer on Notre Dame’s beautiful campus, this program is wholly unique: it provides participants with the opportunity to study the fundamentals of life issues with world-renowned scholars across a wide range of disciplines, including social science, biology, philosophy, theology, law, communication, and counseling. No prior knowledge of these disciplines is assumed or required. Vita Institute alumni include the senior leaders of the most high profile and important pro-life organizations from around the world, grassroots activists, and concerned citizens from across the full spectrum of pro-life vocations.

 I met people from all over the world working in all different aspects of pro-life work while being taught by top-notch professors and scholars. Truly an amazing experience and one that I will use in my future work to fight for the rights of the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled.

One of the best parts of the entire 10 day experience was attending daily mass. This was my first trip to South Bend to see ND’s campus and I was just blown away. I didn’t want to leave! I had wished that I went there for college. But since it’s too late for that, no reason I can’t start prepping my nephews to go there. I bought them ND shirts and told my sis to start getting the applications ready. I mean so they’re 9 and 14 years old. Never too early to start, right?

On Sunday, the feast of the Holy Trinity as well as the Saturday Vigil mass of the feast of Corpus Christi, we attended mass at the Basilica. The pictures just don’t do it justice. I highly recommend going there yourself to experience this holy place.

I took a ton of pictures but too many to post here. Suffice it to say, it’s worth a road trip for any of you who live in the midwest.

In addition to those Sunday masses, we had daily mass in the chapel at the School of Law where our classes were held. Fun fact: There’s a chapel in every dorm and (I think) in every major building. Yeah. Super Catholic. LOVE IT!

Our chaplain was Fr. Michael Sherwin, O.P. for all but one of the masses. And all but one of the masses were held in the St. Thomas More Chapel. One was held in the Holy Cross Chapel in the Engineering building.

 

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Holy Cross Chapel
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Holy Cross Chapel
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Holy Cross Chapel
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St Thomas More Chapel
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St. Thomas More Chapel

And the chapel were I spent most of my time in prayer everyday, right there in the dorm where we stayed:

 

While I took many notes from the homilies that Fr. Michael had, I found myself quite distracted much of the week. Unfortunately, I had a hard time detaching myself from the “real world” and distractions at home. As hard as I tried to be present, I found myself crying at mass more than joyful, lamenting more than trusting, and under attack more than feeling loved. It wasn’t until the tail end of the course that I finally surrendered and told God, “Okay I get it! I asked for an increase in trust in You and You answered that prayer. I can’t control the outcome of this situation but I can trust that You have your hand in it.”

In fact, one of the Antiphons from one of the Evening Prayers during the week was:

Doing my Father’s will is the food that sustains me.

And one of the Responses:

God is my savior and my glory.

-I take refuge in Him.

And one of the Readings from 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.

So it was consoling to realize that every time I went to pray my Liturgy of the Hours, I found an answer in prayer to what was distracting me.

Not to mention the weather was absolutely perfect the whole time I was on campus and even when it rained, it was short-lived. Which was really great because it allowed me to take all these amazing photos of the campus.

 

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Some closing thoughts on the Vita Institute experience:

One of the most profound things that was said during the entire week came from one of the participants from the Archdiocese of New York. She said:

“The Catholic parish is the alternative to Planned Parenthood.”

What she meant is that people need an encounter with God first and foremost. Our Catholic parishes do indeed have all the right tools to counter-act the Planned Parenthood message of death.  We, the Church, have the truth, we have the beauty and we have the good. We are indeed the alternative to Planned Parenthood. But we need to actually speak up about this truth as much as we possibly can so women (and men) far and wide know that if they are in a crisis pregnancy, they can come to their local parish and be welcomed and assisted.

I also reflected on conversations with pro-chociers and how I try not to mention God or the Bible or my faith when making the claim that all humans, regardless of size, have a right to life. I try not to mention all of this because I don’t want to turn the conversation into a religious one. And I’ve been there on more than a couple occasions when I’ve been accused of being a “right-wing nut job” or “misogynist” or even when I’m told to “take your prayers and shove them up your sanctimonious a$$.”

So that’s why I have tried to refrain from mentioning anything remotely “religious” as the basis for my pro-life beliefs. But I find that it’s really difficult to keep the conversation going if I don’t credit my God with creating human life. At some point, I have to acknowledge where that dignity comes from in each and every human being (Spoiler alert: It’s given to us by God.)

So as much as I would love to appeal to atheists and agnostics and anti-Catholics when it comes to fighting for the rights of the unborn, the elderly and the disabled, and I will continue to try, I can’t be so quick to strip God and my faith out of the conversation so I don’t “offend” them. None of us in the pro-life movement can afford to worry about offending anyone. We have the truth on our side. And that’s what wins in the end. No matter what Cecile Richards, George Soros, Gloria Steinem or any other pro-abortion advocate has to say on the matter.  This is not a time to be cowards or to be shy. Compassionate speech does change hearts and minds. Speaking the truth in a charitable manner does cause people to pause and think twice about their views.

So to all my fellow pro-life warriors, keep fighting the good fight. We know who wins.

For more on human dignity and abortion, watch this great video from Bishop Barron*: Bishop Barron on Planned Parenthood and the Loss of Human Dignity

*Start at the 4:57 mark


Next blog post will be back to the regular format of the DMP – Two parishes in Michigan – Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth and Christ the King in Ann Arbor. And as an added bonus, I attended my first Lutheran mass ever in Elkhart Indiana at Trinity Lutheran.

Memories, Memorials and Meditations – Daily Mass Project

I have been meaning to go to my grade school parish for some time now. I really wanted to go either for my Confirmation anniversary or my First Communion anniversary but it just wasn’t meant to be. But it doesn’t matter because I got there last week and I think we end up exactly where we are supposed to be for a reason. And that reason, I think, was for me to meet Fr. Peter Kovacina, the Parochial Vicar at St. A’s. There’s a really cool story (I think) that goes along with this. I’m pretty sure the place (in this case the chapel) has not changed in 32 years. Very nostalgic for me.

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Saint Anthony of Padua – Parma – 8am – Chapel Mass – May 24th

Celebrant: Fr. Peter Kovacina (We’re related! Read below!)

Initial Thoughts: A little history lesson for you – This church was built in 1985 and I am all too proud to tell you that my class of 1992 was the first class to make our First Communion in this church. Yeah, kind of a big deal. 😉 But I think when it was first built, from the outside, I remember hearing words like “Non-traditional” and “really modern.” All I knew, as a kid, was that it wasn’t the gym. That was our old church and this was the NEW church.

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Homily Reflection: What God wants from us is a relationship, not just knowledge or data. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and have a deep relationship. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can grow in holiness. Come to know the Holy Spirit who lifts you up.

Holy Moments: I’m related to a priest!! Sort of. Fr. Peter is my second cousin’s brother-in law. Did you get all that? Yeah, whatever I’m claiming him as a relative. He and I had a lovely chat after the mass and little did I know but I actually saw his classmate Fr. John Mullee at St. Rita’s a few days later. (Read on!)

Extra Blessings: Just a few photos from my First Communion. I know there are more but probably tucked away in a box or album somewhere. The sister is Sr. Agnela who was also my 2nd Grade Teacher. LOVED her! (No idea who the chick in the back eating her necklace is) And then there’s the program from my 1st Communion where all my cousins and aunts and uncles came to celebrate.


Saint Anselm – Chesterland – Adoration  – May 24th

No mass, just taking in the beauty of this church inside and outside.

 


Saint Rita – Solon – 8:45AM – Chapel -May 29- Memorial Day

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Celebrant: Fr. John J. Mullee, Parochial Vicar

Initial Thoughts: I walked in to hear someone playing America the Beautiful on the piano in the chapel. Turns out it was Fr. John! It was so sweet to “set the tone” for the mass that way. In fact, all of the hymns were patriotic, of course. How can you not get a little choked up singing America the Beautiful at the end of a mass?

Homily Reflection: Father started out making the statement that over a million men and women have lost their lives in service to our country and how easily we take this for granted. He read a story from a book (I should have asked the name!) where a young teen girl didn’t really understand the point or the purpose of Memorial Day or Veterans Day. She disregarded it because she couldn’t understand the concept of living “unfree.” It wasn’t until she heard the National Anthem playing and seeing men and women tearing up and crying at the loss of their friends and relatives in wartime, that she truly understood the sacrifice they made.

Holy Moments: I went across to the Blessed Sacrament chapel after mass (You can see it in the picture above. It’s behind the sanctuary) to pray a rosary on this sunny day when we remember those who gave their lives to serve our country. And from this little chapel you can see in to the church which provided a nice “view.” Once again, I left the church forever grateful that I have the means and the time to continue on with this project.


Next week: A week of “Finals” – My priest and Spiritual Director celebrates his final mass at Holy Angels, my nephew has his final school mass before graduating 8th grade, and I finally get back to Communion of Saints in Solon as promised.

Distracted by Beauty – Daily Mass Project

A couple weeks ago I attended my 5th Theology of the Body Course called TOB and Art: The Way of Beauty. It took place at a beautiful retreat center in Malvern Pennsylvania. One of messages of the entire week was simply to receive. Receive the Gift of Beauty from God.

Easier said than done for most of us. This requires us to be still. Be silent. And look. Look up! Look up from our phones, our work, our computers. And just look around and take in all of this creation that God has given us.

We don’t do this very often do we? We’re too busy being human DOERS instead of human BEINGS.

Our instructor for the week, Bill Donaghy, mentioned many of us suffer from “MMC.”

Martha, Martha Complex. We’re all trying to busy ourselves instead of being like Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus instead of being like Martha, who busied herself serving and being a hostess.

In light of wanting to be more like Mary and less like Martha, I tried to just receive more than reflect on the masses this week. Lots of pictures (although ONCE AGAIN, parish websites are in desperate need of photos of their art and design! I’m lookin at you St Mary’s in Hudson.)

So this week’s DMP’s are much shorter than in prior posts.

First up, I have to share the beauty of the Malvern Retreat House. Over 200 acres of statues, stations of the cross, mini shrines, a grotto, and a gorgeous chapel.  I got as many pictures of the bronze Stations of the Cross sculptures that captivated me. Then there were Mosaic Stations of the Cross and the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. And on and on it went.


St Mary’s Hudson – Chapel Mass – Wednesday May 17th – 8am

Celebrant: Fr. Patrick Anderson – Parochial Vicar

Initial Thoughts: Music! At a daily mass! Shocker! I mean like an actual pianist. I didn’t write down the names of the hymns we sang (my bad) but I do recall very good singing voices. And for a daily mass, it was really well attended. Probably close to 50-60 people. Maybe more.

Homily Reflection: Father discussed what was said the day before to a group of graduating high school seniors from the Youth Ministers around the area. One YM gave the advice of having the students imagine they are going on a mission. Because they are! As they go to college, it is their mission to find Christ.

Another YM said: “Abide in Me,” referring to Jesus’ words. A good reminder if we don’t abide in Christ, we can’t bear fruit. We have to remain rooted, as Paul and Barnabas did as they preached and healed people. They also were attacked and persecuted. But they were on a mission! And as long as they remained rooted in Christ, they could go on.

Father Patricks final point resonated with me the most. He said when we justify our actions, when we talk to ourselves, we no longer remain in Him. (I talk to myself a lot so maybe this was the Holy Spirit speaking directly to me). Father ended by repeating the opening prayer: “O God, restorer and lover of innocence, direct the hearts of your servants towards yourself, that those you have set free from the darkness of unbelief may never stray from the light of your truth.” Restore in us that desire to remain in Him. Return to innocence, confidence and trust in the Lord.

Holy Moments: I had the privilege of witnessing my friend Father Anthony Simone’s first mass as a priest at this church just 4 days later. That entire mass was my holiest moment!


Holy Family – Stow – 8am – Chapel Mass

Holy Moments and Initial Reactions: One of the most crowded chapel masses I’ve ever attended. I think it’s safe to say there were close to 80 people packed into this chapel. They also have a perpetual adoration chapel that I went into afterwards.

What I noticed the most is that it clearly lives up to its name as there were at least 3 sets of families with small children in attendance. And what looked to be like a brother and sister pair of altar servers. Complete silence before the mass started which was nice considering there was no tabernacle. It’s always good when people still respect the fact that it’s a chapel even if He isn’t present. Wish I could have gotten more pictures of the chapel with the lights on.


Sacred Heart of Jesus – South Euclid – Saturday May 20- 4pm Vigil Mass

Celebrant: Fr. Thomas Winkel, Senior Parochial Vicar

Initial Thoughts: I walked into the adoration chapel first and see a married couple sitting there whom I have met through being an EWTN Media Missionary. Complete coincidence! We actually prayed together before they had to leave which was a very sweet holy moment as I mentioned I could use some prayers for an upcoming job interview.

Homily Reflection: FINALLY, after doing this DMP for almost 6 months, I attended a mass with a friend! Half the reason I wanted to do the DMP was to either meet up with a friend or relative at a mass or bring someone with me and so finally, my super Catholic friend Jim joined me for this one.

Father Winkel came out with a vestment on that had the initials/abbreviation “IHS.” As he processed in and approached the altar, I had the thought of, “How come I don’t know what IHS means? This seems like something I should know.” And wouldn’t you know it, he mentioned what it means in his homily. It’s actually an abbreviation of the name IHΣΟΥΣ which means “Jesus.” So it shouldn’t be a surprise but the REASON he gave for mentioning it and for wearing the vestment was because that was the feast day of St. Bernardine of Siena. St. Bernardine gave mission talks and preached devotion to the Name of Jesus every place he went. And apparently, Saint Bernardine designed the IHS emblem. (Unless I totally heard wrong but I thought that’s what he said).

Holy Moments: I was distracted a few times just by the enormous mosaic/art on the wall of the sanctuary. (Once again, the distracted by the beauty!) I didn’t get a picture but on the left and right sides of the sanctuary were the words of the Hail Mary inscribed into wooden beams. The mass ended with a novena to the Infant Jesus found at the back of the missal. (Pictured above).

Overall it’s clearly a very prayerful parish. But my favorite part was just walking around the outside and taking photos, especially of the statue of Jesus and Mary as well as the “For You I Died” crucifixion which is just outside the school.

 

If this week’s DMP had a message, it would be similar to that of the TOB retreat:

Stop, look up, and receive God’s masterpiece. There’s beauty in His creation all around us. We need to take the time to bask in the beauty.

Next Week: A mass for my Mom at St. Charles Borromeo, I visit my old grade school St Anthony of Padua in Parma, and Adoration at St. Anselm in Chesterland.

A Plethora of Parishes – Daily Mass Project

Doing something a little different and squeezing a bunch of parishes into one blog post. They were all so wonderful in their own unique ways.

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St John Bosco – Parma Heights – Thursday – April 27th

SJB has a perpetual adoration chapel where I spend a good amount of time. But what I didn’t realize is that they have a 7pm mass on Thursdays. I just happened to be in the area and thought I can mark it off the list!

Didn’t take any notes on the homily or anything since it was a last minute addition. But what I do recall was the music minister was very very good. And the words to not only the songs but the responses were displayed on screens above the sanctuary. Not something you typically see at a Catholic church. Very much enjoyed it.


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Holy Trinity – Avon – Saturday April 29th 5pm Vigil Mass

Celebrant: Fr. John Misenko, Pastor

Gospel: LK 24:13-35 – The Road to Emmaus

Initial Thoughts: I came early to go to Confession which was how I was able to get a picture of an empty church.

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Walking in well before mass started…

I took the time to notice little things, like this sketch on the opposite wall.

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Sketch of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta; next to this framed sketch is a glass case with a relic of St. Teresa as well.

I walked up to it later to get the picture of it and saw that they have relics of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Oh and these beautiful statues above the sanctuary…

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Homily Reflection: Fr. Misenko mentioned a painting of the road to Emmaus and silly me, I thought I could just Google “Emmaus Painting” and all of a sudden figure out which one he was talking about. Yeah. Not possible.  (Go ahead and Google it and you’ll see what I mean).

He went on to say that as Jesus was the teacher to these two disciples, and that walking and talking was a form of teaching called Socratic, started by Socrates. Sidenote: I learn so much better by listening while I’m walking or jogging on the treadmill. In fact I know there’s a school in Indiana that has their kids exercise while teaching them and how they performed so much better learning this way. So maybe there’s something to it!

There’s also a sense of peace and tranquility as the disciples were affirmed that they had seen the Lord. And finally they feel joy at recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread. For us, we learn from the teachings in the Liturgy and in the words of the homily. We feel joy as we see Christ in others and as we do His will. And finally, we find peace as we live out our faith.

Holy Moments: I noticed the altar servers seemed incredibly ON POINT. Not sure how else to describe it. But it was clear they took their job seriously for young boys. Beforehand, going to confession, was probably the holiest and most peaceful moment. For a 5pm Saturday mass, it was packed. I know several friends who attend here and really like it. I can see why!

Now someone tell me what those statues mean!


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Saint Richard – North Olmsted – 7am – Monday May 1st

Initial Thoughts: SOOOO quiet. As soon as I walked in, I saw that every person that was there was reading. They all had their heads down and were reading (probably the daily readings or the Magnificat or something). No chit chat beforehand. But then again, it was 7am on a Monday.

I wish I had a better picture of the stained glass that goes around the church. Here is one from the stained glass designers. It’s dark but I guess that’s the best way to see the design:

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Homily Reflection: To be a disciple of Jesus requires us as individuals to know what our faith is about. We can’t rely just on what we learned in school. We need to develop a sense of knowledge and deep reflection. We need to learn to live what we believe. How are we putting our faith into practice?

He preached a lot more but I couldn’t write fast enough. 🙂

Holy Moments: A nun sighting! In a habit! I should have probably gotten her name. I actually got sad when I realized I was getting elated at the sight of a religious sister in a habit. It made me a little nostalgic for my grade school days being taught by my FAVORITE teacher, Sr. Agnela. (And yes it was Agnela, not Angela)



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Saint Agnes – Elyria – Tuesday May 2nd – 9am – Memorial of Saint Athanasius

Celebrant: Fr. Albert Veigas, Pastor

Initial Thoughts: I normally wouldn’t be available Tuesday mornings but a client canceled a session and so I was able to attend this church. It was a total unexpected blessing.

I walked in early to hear the end of a rosary being recited by about 5 women and 1 man. They were all on one side of the church and I took a seat on the opposite side. And while they were still reciting it, I decided to snap a picture. IMG_6894

As I waited for the mass to begin, only 1 other person (another woman) walked in for mass. So in all I think there was maybe 7 of us. ALL ladies.

And then here’s the kicker: The mass started when the priest walked up to the sanctuary from the pews. HE was the lone man among the women reciting the rosary! It was kinda crazy because I wasn’t expecting it and all of sudden he was in our midst. 

And then he started talking and it’s clear from his accent that he’s an Indian priest, which I must say I didn’t think we had any in this diocese. Very cool!

Homily Reflection: Father mentioned Stephen from the First Reading. How he was killed in front of Saul, who later became St. Paul. I’m not quite sure WHEN I figured out that Saul from the Stephen stoning was Paul, but I wish more people DID realize this. That God can save even the most fallen away sinners. Father also mentioned Saint Athanasius and his defense of the faith. Saint A is responsible for why we say the Nicene Creed. And how we believe that Jesus and God are the ONE. He used the example of the sun and light beams from it. How can you say that the light that comes from the Sun is separate from the Sun? It’s one and the same. They cannot be separated, just as Jesus and God can never be separated.


I gotta admit here, I saved the best for last:

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Communion of Saints – Cleveland Heights – Wednesday May 3rd – Feasts of Saints Philip and James

This is the parish where a young priest friend of mine, Fr. Pat Schultz, is one of the Parochial Vicars. Him and the other PV, Fr. Matthew Byrne, are such energetic and fun priests. They do this video series with their school kids called “Hey Father, Can you explain why…?” where the kids pose all kinds of questions about the Church and our faith and they answer them.

So the picture above is the outside (there’s a school and a church, but couldn’t manage to get/find a good picture of the ENTIRE exterior).  Doesn’t matter, because when you walk in:

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Initial Thought: Whoah.

But wait…it gets better:

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Continuing Initial Thoughts: The whole place is just beautiful and magnificent! Columns and stained glass and that ceiling!! I got to the 5:30pm mass about 20 minutes early and I’m so glad I did because I took the time to take in all this beauty.

This is the first church I’ve been to where instead of a crucifix, they have a painting of a crucified Jesus. My favorite part.

And as of 5:28pm I was the SOLE person there. I thought maybe THIS was the day – the day I get a mass ALL to myself, ha!

But slowly and surely, other people walked in.

Celebrant: Fr. John McNulty, Pastor

Since there were so few of us, I didn’t take notes from the homily. Since it was so intimate, I didn’t want to be distracted by frantically writing down his points. He also came down from the ambo and started talking to us in the aisle and I can’t quite bring myself to take notes when the priest is directly in front of me. 🙂

What I DO remember was that he emphasized that Philip and James were ordinary people, just like us. They sought the lord, and they found Him. May we do the same.

Holy Moments: I got what I will call a “double host.” I’m pretty sure it was the biggest host I’ve ever received. I thought, “Maybe God knows I need a large amount of healing so he caused the priest to give me the two hosts attached to each other.” 🙂

Afterwards, there was Adoration for a half hour which was an unexpected treat. You know how I adore adoration (Pun intended, always).

I had just enough time to pray Evening Prayer and highlighted this Psalm Prayer:

“Grant that those who labor for you may trust not in their own work but in your help.” (Emphasize is mine. Seemed to be an answer to a prayer for me at the time.)

COS is just down the street from Nighttown which is where Theology on Tap Heights holds their monthly events. This was the main reason I attended mass since it was the only evening service in the area.

The speaker at this months event was Rachel Benda, the foundress of Bethesda House, a post-abortive healing ministry.  She gave one of the most moving and heartfelt talks I’ve heard at a TOT event.

For more information about the Bethesda House, and if you know someone who is post-abortive, be sure to visit their website. 


Heading to Elverson Pennsylvania this week to take my 5th course as part of my ongoing Theology of the Body certification. It’s called TOB and Art: The Way of Beauty.

You know what they say: “Beauty will save the world!”

So no DMP’s until the week of May 15th. Although, we will have mass everyday of the course, so perhaps a little DMP roadtrip edition is in the works.