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.
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.
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.
No mass, just taking in the beauty of this church inside and outside.
Saint Rita – Solon – 8:45AM – Chapel -May 29- Memorial Day
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Initial Thoughts: I came early to go to Confession which was how I was able to get a picture of an empty church.
I took the time to notice little things, like this sketch on the opposite wall.
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…
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!
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:
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)
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.
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:
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:
Initial Thought: Whoah.
But wait…it gets better:
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 ownwork 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.
Ever walk into a church and just STARE? That’s what you do when you walk into Resurrection. First of all, it’s circular, which could possibly drive you nuts if you’re not used to it. “Where do I look? Where do I sit so I can see everyone? Will my back be to the ambo? This is awkward!” But once you get past that, you realize it’s SO gorgeous and there’s so much to look at. In fact, there’s so much to look at that I’m refraining from blogging about this one until I go to an actual mass. This was just a communion service (and a very good one) but it is WAY too beautiful to NOT attend a Sunday service. I plan on going back next month. In the meantime, check out their website for stunning photos and a virtual tour.
St. Matthias – Broadview Heights – Sunday – April 23rd – 9am – 2nd Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday
Initial Reaction: I feel like I may get chastised for this but I have just a small criticism: Sometimes I feel like reverence goes out the window when the church is set up like a hall or if it’s just a smaller church or whatnot. It just seemed like I walked in to a bingo hall at first. The music minister/organist was announcing the songs and why he chose them and what to expect and people were still chatting. And pretty loudly. I thought that was a little disrespectful, but perhaps they are just used to that and it’s not a big deal to them. Clearly, this is a close-knit community where everyone knows each other. But I guess I’m a little “old-school” and I would prefer if people would chat in the gathering space and silence themselves once they actually walk into the worship space.
Homily Reflection: The homily was given by Deacon Tom Litwinowicz; He said he felt he HAD to give the homily today of all days because the Gospel was about his namesake. Personally, I love the doubting Thomas gospel because it seems like the most realistic reaction. If it was today, I’m sure there would be people who would say, “Unless their video of this Jesus walking around, I won’t believe.” The Deacon mentioned how he’s analytical and likes to dig deep to ask questions to find out if something is true or not. He looks for the proof until he finds it. He talked about how Thomas didn’t quite “get it.” Thomas needed physical proof, he wouldn’t take the apostles’ word for it. He needed to SEE Jesus in the flesh. Now, after Jesus appears to him and has him touch his wounds, Thomas finally believes and grasps the concept beyond the physical and into the DIVINE. And what about us? Do we accept Jesus without seeing?
Holy Moments: The priest said that in lieu of reciting the Creed, he was going to do what he did on Easter and have us renew our baptismal promises. So he recited the questions having us answer in the affirmative. I liked that!
After the proclamation of the Gospel, no one sat down right away. We waited for the Deacon to place the book in front of the ambo. I also noticed the lectors stood at the ambo for a beat or two before sitting down.
All the music was well done! At some points during the songs, some people had their arms raised. So maybe a little charismatic movement has made its way in. Love it!
During the Eucharistic prayer/consecration, the woman in front of me knelt (no kneelers) so I knelt too. As far as I could tell, we were the only ones. I don’t kneel to show how super pious I am. I kneel because I feel it’s the right thing to do. Plus it’s not comfortable. And I don’t think it should be. It’s a small sacrifice to make to remind us…well, it reminds ME, of His suffering. Maybe I shouldn’t have because this church didn’t have kneelers but it was carpeted. So it’s not like it was kneeling on nails.
I took a seat in the last row but they have the communion procession start at the BACK. The last shall be first and the first shall be last? I was first. That’s almost as good as getting a piece of the big host! 😉
This wasn’t a mass, it was a Divine Mercy Chaplet service. So this includes Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reading, a brief homily and then we pray the chaplet by chanting/singing. I LOVE to pray the chaplet this way. (Click here to hear what I mean)
I attended this last year and was so moved by the Cantor and her singing that I had to come back again. It’s one thing to just pray the chaplet alone, but it’s quite another to sing it in a group. Just beautiful as always.
I first learned the chaplet on the night my mom passed away. We recited it at her bedside as she lay there taking her final breaths, so this has always had a special meaning for me. Speaking of which…this brings me to the last parish, my parents own parish of:
Initial Reactions: I have good memories of attending church with Mom here, who would often say to me when we went together, “I like going to Assumption because I feel close to MY Mom.” Well, the feeling is mutual. I even sit in her usual spot whenever I go.
And since I just wrote about divine mercy, it seems only fitting to say that Fr. Justin was the one to teach me the chaplet. The first time I heard it was when he came to the house he prayed the chaplet over her. I hadn’t really heard of it before this.
Homily Reflection: Nicodemus is “on the fence.” He approaches Jesus in the night because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s a disciple. Nicodemus wants it “both ways.” But Jesus says we must be born again. And Nicodemus doesn’t understand what this means. Jesus means for us to literally change our lives. To live differently. And what about us? We may miss God’s voice telling us to turn around and change our lives because we are too busy living on the fence, listening to the world instead of focusing on heaven. What does the Resurrection mean? It means Transformation. How does the Resurrection change our lives? Am I avoiding change? Am I going where God wants me to go? Imagine the wondrous things that can happen when we allow the Risen Lord in.
Holy Moments: I really wanted to share a picture of their stained glass window of Mary all lit up at night. I ASSUMED (see what I did there?) that they would have one on their website but no. Short of going there at night and taking a photo myself (which I will probably do because I’m THAT crazy person), I found this sub-par blurry photo. It doesn’t do it justice but it’ll do for now.
UPDATE: I did in fact go to the parish at night, in the rain, and took this picture after the rain ceased. And I have emailed it to the parish permitting them to use it if they wish.
For those keeping track, this brings me to 41 parishes attended this year so far. Considering there are 185 parishes in the diocese, the dream of attending all of them before January 1st next year is fading. Like with all goals, you gotta know when to admit you may have been a bit over zealous and scale it back. So I’m re-setting the goal to attend 100 by January. A nice even number and completely doable.
Again, I feel strange for even mentioning it but for those that wish to donate to the Daily Mass Project, please send a donation to Father Michael Denk of The Prodigal Father instead. Include somewhere in the notes section that you’re donating because of this or mention the blog or my name (Michelle) and he’ll see that it gets noted. I would always welcome a “Donation” of your prayers more than anything else.
I may have set the bar a tad too high this past week. I had all the intentions of attending 5 different parishes during the week but it just. didn’t. happen. But instead of sitting here feeling pity for myself, I am REJOICING (see what I did there?) in the fact that I DID attend some beautiful services this past week. The message was clear: It’s about HIM, not a project. So I took the pressure off myself and tried my best to be in the moment of Holy Week as best as I could. Enjoy!
Holy Moments: Heard a different Penitential Act than the usual “I confess…” In fact, this was the third or fourth time hearing this version and I finally understand what everyone is saying:
Priest: Have mercy on us, O Lord.
People: For we have sinned against you.
Priest: Show us, O Lord, your mercy.
People: And grant us your salvation.
I get the feeling this is an older version because I have been hearing it at more traditional parishes, although I could be wrong? I’m sure one of my super Catholic readers will comment and tell me for sure.
Homily Reflection: The Gospel was about Mary who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil. Judas makes the comment that it could have been sold and given to the poor. Fr. Gary mentioned that anointing takes a special place in our Church. We anoint the sick, the newly baptised, the confirmed, and use the oil during ordination of holy orders. Our oils are called “chrism” which is named after Christ. This week begins Holy Week. It’s not called Holy just because we label it that way. It’s holy because it’s who we are called to be. More like Christ. We are reminded, especially because of the Coptic Christians recently martyred in Egypt, of this call to holiness. Their blood splattered on the walls reminds us of the one who’s blood was splattered for us.
Bonus Material: Upon leaving the Church, my eye caught this:
In case it’s not obvious from the forthcoming bragging, this is MY parish that I’ve belonged to since moving back to Cleveland in the fall of 2009. I officially joined in the summer of 2010 and continue to tell everyone I know, that “Yes I do in fact belong to a parish 25 miles from my house. Why? Ummm….because it’s awesome!? That’s why.”
How about that Paschal Candle? Is that not beautiful? Our TEENS make that candle. TEENS! How awesome to attend mass and every time you see the candle you can say, “I helped MAKE that!”
Friday Morning Prayer – I couldn’t make it to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday night so after beating myself up for missing it, I made sure to attend Friday mornings prayer service. This was just Morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours but it was so nice to say the prayers of the Church in an actual group instead of by myself as I so often do. We sang a few verses of Were you there, when they crucified my Lord, which ALWAYS makes me tear up. How can you sing that and not get the least bit emotional?
Good Friday – Communion Service – The one day of the year when we don’t celebrate mass.
What a service! The homily was beyond fantastic and I told my buddy Deacon (soon to be priest) Anthony that he knocked it out of the park. I will just share a few lines from it:
His Love for YOU is just as real & passionate today as it was at that moment of His Ultimate Final Sacrifice.
Know, there is NOTHING we can do that will sway Christ’s Love for us.
Jesus wants us to know that This Act of Love Was Personal
When we kiss and touch the cross in just a moment, we are venerating the place & time when Jesus took His final vows to lay down His life for us and love us until the end of time. Let’s take a moment together to gaze upon the cross. To see Love in it, and not stop looking UNTIL ALL we see is Love…then Keep Looking.
There was also stellar chanting by Dcn. Anthony as the cross was processed in. It was probably one of the best services I’ve ever attended at my parish. I just felt such respect and awe and wonder at what Jesus has done on the cross for all of us. I finally had that Holy moment of holy week that I think I was waiting for. Prior to it I think I was just so focused on tasks that needed to be done and appointments that needed to be kept and the overall business of life that somehow made me forget what I should have been focused on.
Speaking of awe and wonder, there’s nothing like the Mother of All Vigils, is there? I only recall attending a few Easter Vigil services as a kid. I’m sure our parents didn’t think we could handle such a long service without being bored or acting out. So I only vividly recall one where people were submerged in the baptismal font at my childhood parish. I don’t think I quite understood that an adult could be baptized. I remember thinking, “But aren’t all babies baptized? Did their parents just forget to take them?” I was clearly very naive to the real world.
The Holiest of Holy Moments: The entire liturgy is a holy moment! The music, the candlelight, the readings and the outstanding job by all the lectors. There’s so much I could write about but for me, personally, my favorite part was seeing someone I got to know become initiated in the Church.
I volunteered as a Catechist for our RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation for Children) program where we had one lovely little girl named Aurora. She was an absolute delight to teach. I only had a few lessons with her but each time she was engaged and eager to learn and had quite the entertaining remarks to make which threw me for a loop at times. She made things interesting, as any 9 year old would. 🙂 It felt good to see someone enter into the Church and to know that in some very small way, I helped.
Although I had high hopes of attending more than just two Churches during this past Holy Week, I know it’s not about how many places I get to. It’s pretty obvious that unless I clone myself, there’s not way I can possibly get to all of the churches by January. But that’s alright. I’m still amazed at the amount of comments and messages I get from all of you saying how much you enjoy following along. That’s motivating in itself for me to keep it going as long as I am able.
*A few folks have asked if they could donate money to the DMP to help me finish this, and while I am totally humbled and thankful for the requests, I don’t see how I can possibly accept money for doing this. If you’d like to make a donation, I would request you make it to The Prodigal Father.I love volunteering for Fr. Denk’s ministry and I’d feel better if any extra money you have could go towards his efforts. Simply put “Michelle from the Daily Mass Project sent me!” or something to that effect in the “Message” window so he knows who sent you. He has a lot to offer in return for your donation whereas I don’t have anything to offer except my thanks and prayers of gratitude. 🙂
Next blog post: Church of the Resurrection in Solon, St. Mathias in Broadview Heights and St. Albert the Great in North Royalton.
I can remember going to Palm Sunday Mass as a kid and getting a little antsy while listening to the priest and narrator recite the Gospel. I always followed along in the missal so I could chime in during the “Crowd” responses. It was always really awkward and pretty devastating to shout, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” as a middle schooler. I always had it in the back of my mind to ask, “Why didn’t they crucify that Barrabas guy instead?” I hadn’t quite grasped the meaning of the Passion.
More recently, I hear the passion and I think of the movie The Passion of the Christ. I read the one line, “and they had him scourged,” and quickly think back to that 30 minute scene in the movie. That gut-wrenching, violent, emotionally wrecking scene. And it’s just one sentence in the Gospel.
Another set of verses that startles me, and I don’t think I EVER noticed it until I was narrating it today at Mass:
And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
After more than 30 Palm Sunday Masses and I just *now* decided to pay attention to these few verses??
Here is the commentary direct from the book, for people as curious, or as crazy, as me:
The most mysterious apocalyptic occurrence is the opening of the tombs and many saints being raised, which for Matthew highlights how Jesus’ death makes the resurrection of others possible. The “many saints” refers to the righteous Jews who had fallen asleep, a metaphor for death. Matthew reports that they were raised from the dead and entered the holy city of Jerusalem, appearing to many. Matthew leaves many questions unanswered in his account of this extraordinary event: the identity of the saints, what kind of bodies they possessed, the duration of their stay in Jerusalem, what happened to them after their appearance. A few points of theological significance can be noted. First, Matthew notes they came out of their tombs after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus, “the first born from the dead” and the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” is the basis for their resurrection as well as ours. Matthew, however, mentions this extraordinary event in the context of the crucifixion scene in order to make the theological point that Jesus’ death imparts life to others.
Some scholars think these details are merely fictional means by which Matthew indicates the significance of Jesus’ death. Yet however mysterious this account may be, it is not the kind of story one would have invented, since there is no record of anyone in first-century Judaism expecting the Old Testament prophecies about resurrection to be fulfilled quite like this. For the Jews, resurrection involved not the rising of one or many, but the general resurrection of all God’s faithful people. Matthew, therefore, would have had no reason to insert into his Gospel this surprising account about some faithful Jews being raised unless witnesses in Jerusalem actually reported the event.
And I suppose that’s as good of an answer as we’ll get.
It’s been suggested by many to watch The Passion of the Christ in preparation for Holy Week. After watching it the other day, I realized something that I haven’t thought about in years. Whenever I was asked as a teenager/younger adult that curious question of:
“If you could go back in time and witness a historical event, which one would you choose?” I always responded with “The crucifixion.” At first I thought I gave this answer because I had doubt on my heart if this ever happened. But as I reflected on it more I came to the conclusion that I’ve always been attracted to the cross. I think I was naturally drawn to this event because I wanted to maybe join Him on there. Not for attention or to be the Savior. I think I just wanted to be near Him. Interesting that I didn’t answer that witness question with “That time Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead,” or “Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.” Nope. I chose the most violent event ever recorded in history to witness. Another mystery…
Concluding this little post with some wise words from a sermon by St. Andrew of Crete:
“Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will towards his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation…Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward Jerusalem, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.”
The Daily Mass Project will be in full effect on the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, specifically St. Joan of Arc, St. Rita’s, my own parish of Holy Angels, Church of the Resurrection, and St. Anselm.
St. Patrick – Ohio City – Thursday March 23rd – Chapel Mass (Rectory)
Celebrant: Rev. Mark DiNardo, Pastor
Initial Thoughts: I’m sure most people find it odd to go to a mass that is NOT celebrated in the church itself, but in the little chapel located in the rectory. But this is the beauty of the daily mass project – attending mass where you normally wouldn’t.
I was early so I was alone in the chapel for a good while so I took the opportunity to take some pics. The whole place reminded me of my grandparents house in Old Brooklyn. Almost like I was back in time and sitting in their living room, except the television is replaced by a tabernacle.
1st Reading: Jeremiah 7:23-28 – Summary from St Joseph’s Weekday Missal: Jeremiah speaks of what God commands his people. Nations are made up of individuals, but when the majority of individuals break away from God, the nation becomes godless even though a few righteous and holy people are scattered here and there. Because of deaf ears, the word of God is not among them.
Gospel: Luke 11:14-23 – Summary from St. JWM: Jesus expels a devil. This text is an appropriate conclusion to the whole argument between our Lord and his enemies: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” There is no such thing as a neutral position in the kingdom of God.
Homily Reflection: Speaking about the 1st reading, Father said we need to acknowledge our own brokenness. Admit it when we break from God, always seek for forgiveness, even when we don’t think we deserve it. We also need to forgive others, even if we don’t think THEY deserve it. In reference to the Gospel, he mentioned that God needs ministers, not Messiahs. The leaders at the time didn’t listen to God. They were blind to God present in their midst, as Jesus performed miracles right in front of them by driving out demons. He concluded his homily by mentioning something I hadn’t really heard phrased like this before: We are not Messiahs, we are servants.
Holy Moments: Many!!! I met a woman named Marge who could clearly see that I was a visitor. She was so helpful in guiding me to the rectory and introduced me to a few others there. Because of the small crowd we were able to give the sign of peace to pretty much everyone in attendance. There was a little boy of about 2 or 3 years old (should have gotten his name!) who provided a truly adorable moment as he started munching on crackers during the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion. We concluded with singing the first verse of “Peace is flowing like a river.”
But my favorite part was the very end: Instead of the typical “Let us Go in Peace,” Father DiNardo said something to the effect of: “Let our lives give expression to our beliefs that we profess…”
Initial Thoughts: As soon as I walked in, 20 minutes early, I saw a bunch of my 7th grade students for the Choose Life class I teach there. (The main reason I went to this mass since the class is right after). They were servers and were so excited to see someone they knew. As I sat down, I heard two young girls singing a beautiful hymn that I later found out is called Pie Jesu. Just hearing them rehearse this song, I had a feeling I was in for a really special mass.
1st Reading: Exodus 32:7-14
Gospel: John 5:31-47
Homily Reflection: In regards to the first reading, as Moses was receiving the commandments from God during the 40 days while he prayed and fasted, the Jewish people molded a golden calf and broke away from God. They became distracted and forgot about all the good things God had done for them. In just a matter of 40 days! As Moses asked God to have mercy on them, they were eventually brought back to the Lord. The priest cautioned the students not to become distracted during their Spring Break. He emphasized the need to remember that we are still in Lent as we are waiting for the Resurrection.
Of course, as he’s talking about not being distracted, I immediately became distracted. But I kept thinking that my 7th graders might be watching me and if they could see me possibly looking around, that might not be the best example. So that helped me re-focus.
Holy Moments: Granted it’s just the final 44 seconds, but these two young girls nailed this hymn. AWESOME JOB girls!
The Holy Holy Holy (Sanctus) was sung completely in Latin and I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know it at all! So now I want to study that and learn it for next time.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra glória tua. Hosána in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosána in excélsis.
After the closing hymn was sung, everyone knelt down and remained silent. A young girl, guessing 3rd grade, walked up to the ambo and announced for us all to recite one Hail Mary for vocations. What a beautiful way to end.
As I left, I couldn’t get over how I saw grade school students show so much respect and reverence for the liturgy and the Eucharist. I think this can possibly be attributed to one main “attraction” smack dab in the middle of the church: A perpetual adoration chapel. More on this in a later blog…but there’s something to be said when Christ is at the center of EVERYTHING. Ministry, catechesis, program development, prayer life, etc. And when it’s in the middle of the church? Pretty sure that’s a win-win.
Before the school year ends, get yourself to a school mass! I can’t guarantee latin hymns and extreme reverence, but you can bet you’ll see the future of our Church is bright.