All the Alleluia’s – Daily Mass Project Holy Week Edition

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!

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St. Joan of Arc – Chagrin Falls – Monday April 10th 8am

Celebrant: Fr. Gary J. Malin, Pastor

Gospel: JN 12:1-11

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:

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Anything TOB catches my eye so I was pretty jazzed this morning to see this. (For information on how to subscribe to Catholic Update, visit their website: http://www.liguori.org/god-s-gift-to-us.html


Church of the Holy Angels – Good Friday and the Easter Vigil

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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.

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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.

Easter Vigil

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.

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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.

Matthew’s Mystery

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Today is Palm Sunday when we hear the Lord’s Passion from the Gospel of Matthew.

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.

Ummm…WHAT???

After more than 30 Palm Sunday Masses and I just *now* decided to pay attention to these few verses??

I decided to go to a book called Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: The Gospel of Matthew by Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri to see just what in the heck Matthew is talking about here. Because you would have to assume, if we are talking about people OTHER than Jesus being resurrected and walking around, I think I want to know about it.

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.

Daily Mass Project: Intimate Gatherings

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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.

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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…”


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Sacred Heart of Jesus – Wadsworth – Thursday March 30th – School Mass

Celebrant: Rev. Joe Labak, Pastor

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.

 

 

Daily Mass Project: West Side Welcoming

I made the trip to the far west side for one of my many jobs and was really excited to add a few more churches to the DMP. In addition to the parishes listed below, I also attended Adoration at St. Anthony of Padua in Lorain and Benediction/Adoration as well as Evening Prayer at St. Peter’s in North Ridgeville.


back_windowSt.Thomas the Apostle  Sunday March 19th 11am

Celebrant: Fr. Stephen Shields

Gospel: The woman at the well, my all time favorite Gospel story. John 4: 5-42

That window! Gorgeous and ginormous. Even though it had the numbers for a larger daily mass, (maybe 70 people) it made for a more intimate Sunday mass. St Thomas is part of a cluster parish including St. Teresa of Avila and St. Anthony of Padua. We recited the parish prayer at the beginning and the prayer to St Michael at the end.  No kneelers but since it’s carpeted, everyone kneels regardless.

Homily Reflection: On Ash Wednesday, we say, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The Samaritan woman had repented after meeting with Jesus at the well. As she left him to go tell others about him (I’ve heard it said she was the first evangelist) she was starting to believe in the Gospel. During this time in Lent, are we starting to believe? Or do we still need to repent?

Holy Moments: Since there isn’t really a gathering space, Father waved hello to many of us before he processed in. As he preached his homily, he walked up and down the aisles and shook hands with all of the kids who were there. And as he processed out with the servers, he motioned for a few of the kids to join him as well. They all genuflected and walked out holding hands. Very sweet and tender moment!

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Some other beautiful things to look at in this parish…

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St. Jude – Elyria – Monday March 20th – 7am – Chapel

The Feast of St. Joseph

Initial thoughts: As I was driving to mass, I noticed how the sun hadn’t come up yet so it was really dark. I was actually feeling a little sick that morning and thought of skipping it and trying to find an evening mass instead. But I thought I should just tough it out and go. Because any time I think, “Well maybe I just won’t go,” I always notice that there’s a REASON I am there. And this time was no different as you’ll see.

Homily Reflection: The priest mentioned how St. Joseph was declared to be the Defender of the Family and someone we can pray to as the spiritual father of Jesus. Whenever I hear defending the family, for me personally, I always think of how the family and marriage is under attack right now. I also think of the unborn being attacked physically thru abortion. So I must admit, my mind did tend to wander into that realm as Father preached. But I do recall the end as he said we must be obedient to God as Jesus was obedient to his parents before he began his ministry.

As I did more research on St. Joseph I found this prayer from JP2 in Redemportis Custos

“Most beloved father, dispel the evil of falsehood and sin…graciously assist us from heaven in our struggle with the powers of darkness…and just as once you saved the Child Jesus from mortal danger, so now defend God’s holy Church from the snares of her enemies and from all adversity.”

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As I was admiring this beautiful replica of the Pieta there, a man came up to me and hugged me out of the blue! He was hugging everyone goodbye as they left. What a sweet man! He then proceeded to tell me all about their stained glass here. He introduced himself as we walked out by saying his name was Henry, “Henry the hugger,” he said. after I got done talking and hugging Henry, I felt so much better! As we walked out to our cars, I noticed how the sun had come out and it was a beautiful spring day. Very much divine timing. Probably one of the best ways to start a Monday morning.


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Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary-Lorain  Wed- March 22nd – 6:30pm

Celebrant: Fr. Robert Glepko

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19

Initial thoughts: Just pulling up to this Church from the street, you notice how it stands out. I am not that familair with Lorain in general so driving through it I wasn’t sure what to expect. But as I turned the corner and drove down the street and saw the Church, it’s such a stark contrast to the other buildings around it. It felt like I was just in a completely different world.

Homily Reflection: The priest noted that as we gathered, we had heard on the news about the London terrorist attack. Interestingly enough, it was the feast day of Nicholas Owen, an England born saint. He became a carpenter/builder and served the Jesuit priests in England for two decades by constructing hiding places for them in mansions throughout the country, called priest holes. He is believed to have saved the lives of many priests during the 16th century.

Holy Moments:  The mass itself was largely attended for a daily mass. I realized later it was probably because they were going to do Stations of the Cross right after mass, which unfortunately, I couldn’t attend. For this mass, not only did they have a Deacon assisting, they had 4 adult servers (1 was lector and I believe the other was EM).

My favorite part of this church has to be the giant crown of thorns hanging from the ceiling. I tried to get a picture of it as best I could – IMG_6756

It’s somewhat hard to tell from this picture but I promise you it’s there. For more pictures of this gorgeous 120+ year old church, go to their website photo gallery. 


For those that have been following along, you may recall I went out to Valley City to visit the historic St. Martin of Tours.  I heard, what I referred to at the time, as one of the best homilies given by the priest there, Fr. Dunphy. I was told from one of the parishioners that I should make a point to come out on St. Patricks Day to hear Father sing. I made a note in my calendar that I would do this.

I went on Facebook for just a few minutes a couple weeks ago and saw that Fr. Dunphy passed away on March 11th at the age of 86. What a tremendous loss for the community of Valley City and the parish of St. Martin. 

I thought it was incredibly fitting that he was buried just a day before St. Patricks Day. And I feel so very blessed that I was able to hear this man preach and be at St Martin’s when I normally would never have been there if it hadn’t been for this project God put on my heart. May he rest in peace.

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Daily Mass Project: 3 Counties in 3 Days

I was all over the place this past week, attending mass in Berea, Brunswick and Norton.

And yes, that’s 3 different counties 3 days in a row.  Just a day in the life…

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Saint Adalbert – Berea – Tuesday March 14th – 6:30pm

Celebrant: Fr Barry Gearing

Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

Homily Reflection: I heard three distinct messages from Father’s homily: “Get outside your own head during Lent.” Ask yourself “Are you looking out for yourself or others?” And lastly, “We need to be the selfless servants that God calls all of us to be.”  How much of what I do this Lent is about ME and how much of it is about serving others? Is HE at the center of my life? Or am I making this all about ME and MY issues, MY fasting, MY prayer life and no one else?

Holy Moments: I’m so glad to hear the prayer of St. Michael recited at the end of mass. This is a tradition that not many churches do today. And it’s really a shame because we are in a spiritual battle. And we absolutely need to call on St. Michael to defend us.

I also remembered a line from Morning Prayer in the breviary that seemed appropriate to mention, especially in light of this battle: “Lord, watch over your Church, and guide it with your unfailing love. Protect us from what could harm us and lead us to what will save us.”

Ran into some friends after mass that I just love. Another great community there in Berea. Fr. Barry is a fellow Theology of the Body teacher so I’m very grateful the students at the Academy of St. Adalbert are receiving this crucial teaching.

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Saint Colette – Brunswick – Wednesday March 15th – 11am

Celebrant: Fr. William Krizner, my high school chaplain!

Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28

Homily Reflection: Jesus predicts what is going to happen in today’s Gospel: He tells us he will be raised on the 3rd day. The all important feast we celebrate NOW, at this moment in mass, is the Resurrection. Come Holy Week, we remember Jesus’ passion, death and burial. But right now, actually, we remember and celebrate His resurrection.

His homily reminded me of Bishop Robert Barron and one of his video’s about Easter. He says: “We are an Easter people.” If we don’t believe in the Resurrection we’re basically saying that Jesus was just a prophet. This is why we profess in the creed, “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” What is Christianity without Easter? I picture us celebrating Christmas and then…nothing. We’d be talking about this guy who lived 2,000 years ago, who was crucified, died and was buried. And that would be the end of the story! And not a very good one.

Holy Moments: In my search for images to attach to the blog, I went on St. Colette’s website and noticed in the Staff page the most awesome thing I’ve seen on a parish website. No I’m not going to tell you, you’ll just have to click here to see (be sure to scroll down). Notice what every staff member is pictured next to?  I think that’s spectacular. It shows what Church is all about. (Hint:It’s about JESUS.)

I did introduce myself to Fr. Krizner after mass telling him he wouldn’t remember me from (gulp!) 20 years ago. He was as friendly and kind as I remember. I wasn’t involved in my high school ministry at all. I don’t really remember too much about religion in high school either. I remember bits and pieces of what we learned but unfortunately, I just didn’t pay attention as a teenager to that sort of thing. Completely opposite of how I am now, clearly. I didn’t get too much time to chat with Fr. so I am going to have to make it a point to go back again for another mass.

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Saint Andrew the Apostle – Norton – Friday March 17th – 8am

Celebrant: Fr. James Maloney

Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

Homily Reflection: Father did an awesome job of bringing together the First reading about Joseph being sold into slavery with the Gospel of the parable of the vineyard and the tenants. He even managed to speak about St. Patrick at the end to bring it all together. And wouldn’t you like to know exactly what he said? Me too! Except while I’m at mass, I tend to try to listen more than I write. So…my scribbled notes don’t have much to add except Father’s final line: “Be open to what God is planning in your life. May His will, not yours, be done, as we pray in the Our Father.” 

Holy Moment: After communion there was a longer than usual break before the closing prayer.  Usually daily masses seem to be sped up because clearly they are shorter. During this mass, it felt like time stood still. And it was completely silent even though there were easily 30 of us there. And then I noticed an incredible sense of peace in my heart. I was completely content. I just contemplated what communion is: Receiving the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Even someone with the tiniest amount of faith has to admit that that’s incredible and beautiful. And I just sat there in awe.

And here’s one of the prayers from Morning Prayer that again, seemed to echo this same feeling: “Give the fullness of peace now to your faithful people. May peace rule us in this life and possess us in eternal life. You are about to fill us with the best of wheat; grant that what we see dimly now as in a mirror, we may come to perceive clearly in the brightness of your truth.”

Moments like that, I wish everyone was Catholic.  I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to have the flexibility and the freedom to do this project. I just wish I could take everyone I know with me…literally, like pack everyone I know into my little Honda and bring them to every mass I go, so they too can meet all these interesting people in the pews, and hear the homilies and see the beauty of our rituals and the sacraments.

And that shouldn’t be surprising. After all, we experience heaven on earth when we’re at mass. Why wouldn’t I want to bring everyone with me to heaven?


Next week: Sunday mass at St. Thomas the Apostle in Sheffield Lake, an Adoration experiences in Wadsworth and Lorain unlike any other and daily masses in Avon Lake and Elyria. Phew!

Week 6 Daily Mass Project

Before we get to the DMP, I have to share just a few thoughts about this past weekend:

I had the honor of being chosen among 24 other women to be flown to D.C. to be trained in all forms of media as a Spokeswoman on the issues of marriage, dating, sex, religious freedom, abortion and contraception, all courtesy of a grass roots movement called Women Speak for Themselves.  It was incredible and I’ll spend another blog post discussing all that took place. In the meantime, a shortened (much better) version of my previous post about the Women’s March/Planned Parenthood has been published by WSFT.  A huge honor. I do hope to blog for them again soon!

Meanwhile, I took the DMP “on the road” and found an adorable church called Holy Rosary. According to their website, they are the only national Italian parish in Washington, D.C. The Italian side of me was beaming with pride as I walked in to this little historic church…


Holy Rosary Church – Washington D.C. – 1st Sunday of Lent

Celebrant: Fr. Ezio Marchetto (How’s that for an Italian name?)

Gospel: MT 4:1-11

Homily Reflection: I know I took notes on the homily on a small pad of paper. But unfortunately I’m pretty sure I left the pad in the hotel lobby or in my hotel room. So some random person somewhere in D.C. is probably attempting to read my chicken scratch about the 3 temptations of the devil to Jesus in the desert. Oops.

Holy Moments: Be still my heart, I loved it all! From the bilingual bulletin, to the Italian missal, to the teenage lector with the most adorable accent I’ve ever heard, I didn’t ever want to leave. You could tell just by walking in that this place was rich with history. Even though it’s not very large, it had all the aspects of a Catholic mass: chimes, communion plates, a pipe organ, 2 side altars and one of those winding staircases for the pulpit and of course, a Facebook page. Check out this beautiful song being sung for the victims of the earthquake that hit Italy last year.

My favorite part was going to leave the church and coming eye to eye with this beautiful sculpture of Our Lady and Jesus in her arms. IMG_6643

I finally Googled “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” and figured out that it means: “the sorrowful mother stood.” The Stabat Mater is an ancient hymn sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

 


St. Clement – Lakewood – 5:15PM – 3/6/17

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Celebrant: Fr. Joe Workman

Gospel: MT 25:31-46

Homily Reflection: The priest told us about an encounter he witnessed at a recent funeral: The man who died was a Navy veteran. (Any time a veteran passes, representatives from the branch come and perform a flag ceremony and usually play taps a recorded version, usually not live.  It’s really beautiful and moving if you have ever witnessed one.) At the cemetery, the priest saw a few of the friends of the deceased man walk over to the 3 sailors who had performed the flag ceremony and thanked them one by one for coming to the funeral. The priest thought this was a small but very powerful example of the gestures we can perform everyday to make someone’s day a little better. The Gospel mentioned “when I was naked you clothed me, when I was hungry you fed me, etc” and the lesson for us is simply gratitude. The little extra things we do, like a smile and a thank you to someone at the grocery store or saying thank you for good customer service, can go a long way to being a loving neighbor.

Holy Moments: The Preface/Eucharistic Prayer were really beautiful and different. If you go to mass during Lent (I would HOPE you do/are) be sure to listen to the prayers said at the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It’s the most sacred part of the mass and the words the priest says really strike your heart. I don’t know if this was his exact prayer but here’s an example from what’s called Preface IV of Lent. For reference, this is after “It is truly right and just…”

For through bodily fasting you restraint our faults, raise up our minds, and bestow both virtue and its rewards, through Christ our Lord. Through him the Angels praise your majesty, Dominions adore and Powers tremble before you. Heaven and the Virtues of heaven and the blessed Seraphim worship together in exultation.


St. John Neumann – Strongsville – 3/8/17 –Chapel Mass*

Celebrant: Fr. Robert Kraig, Pastor

Gospel: LK 11:29-32

Homily Reflection: The people ask Jesus for a sign, but he’s not in the sign-making business. During Lent, the best sign we can look to is the crucifix. If all we do during Lent is sit at the foot of the cross and look to Jesus, we’ll know that we are valued and loved.

Holy Awkward Moment: So here’s a question for you: When the priest sits down after the opening prayer and it’s time for the 1st reading and he just sits there in silence and no one comes up to read…What do you do?

I lector at my own parish quite often and I was going to go up there but thought I’d better not. But then I thought, “Maybe this is why I’m here tonight?? God wants me to lector?!?” After the longest 45 seconds of my life, a man came up from the back and read. I was so relieved but also really confused. I kept thinking, “Is this typical protocol? Does the priest expect volunteers?” I think I have to go back just to see if it happens again.

Real Holy Moment: A little girl of about 5 years old was in the front row with (assuming) her parents had to sweetest voice. It’s always nice to hear the one YOUNG voice belt out the Our Father or the responsorial psalm amid the adult voices. It really feels like a community at that point because we’re all different. I even had a couple people behind me that spoke a different language. Just reiterates the point that we’re all part of the One Body of Christ.

*The only downside, so far, with the DMP is that many of these masses are held in chapels and not the main worship space. So I don’t get to see the architecture and design of them unless the lights just happen to be on and I can see in. The DMP may have to be the S(unday) Mass Project in coming years.


Next week: Although no plans are solid (are they ever?) chances are I’m going west for masses in North Ridgeville, Avon, Elyria and Sheffield Lake. Expect a post about my friend Fr. Michael Denk and his mission talk at St. Raphael in Bay Village as well. 

 

 

Listen. Learn. Love. Life

 

quote-i-m-norma-mccorvey-the-former-jane-roe-of-the-roe-vs-wade-decision-that-brought-legal-norma-mccorvey-77-30-47This past weekend, the woman known as Jane Roe of Roe vs Wade, Norma McCorvey, passed away at the young age of 69 from heart failure.

Her sad passing puts abortion back in the headlines for a little while. While her death is in no way good news, the fact that people are reading about her life is good. Why? Because people are learning that she never even had an abortion. They are learning that she was deceived by her lawyers, encouraged to lie about her pregnancy, and immediately discarded after the ruling was brought down. She changed her mind on abortion years later and fought to undo the damage.  What an incredible burden to carry for your entire life – to know that your case made abortion legal. I can’t imagine the torment and internal battle that she went through.

“I think it’s safe to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie…I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.” Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe

Thinking about her conversion and how she changed from being pro-choice to completely pro-life, I thought about testimonials and listening to the voices of those we disagree with.

Do we really listen to what they have to say or are we too busy shouting our own opinion and defending our views? Are we so afraid of the possibility that we may actually change our mind too?

This brings me to the Women’s March on Washington.  This march took place the day after the inauguration. And the media covered this in full force. In fact, the media seemed to be spending an unprecedented amount of attention on this march that seemed to have no clear agenda.

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Believe it or not, this picture is actually from the Women’s March on Washington. Students for Life of America ended up LEADING the march for about 15 minutes before pro-abortion activists tried to rip up their signs and scream their slogans of “My Body My Choice “over them. But because of the absolute disorganization of this Women’s March, no one was there to say when it started. Kudos to SFL for actually starting the march with their 3 huge banners. Here’s video of their experience there.

But there was one clear message they sent: No Pro-Life Women Allowed.

As I looked at the pictures of the women and and children marching in D.C. that day, I really only had one reaction: Sadness. It made me feel such pity for these women, young and old, holding up signs with vulgarity and mocking their own gender. You can say these vulgar images were just one part of this Women’s March. And you would be correct. But who got the most attention from the media? The more vulgar or outrageous the sign they carried or the costume they wore, the more attention they got.

Who’s voice was left unheard? Probably women like my friends and family who marched. The ones who say they marched for equal pay for men and women. Those who marched for the abused woman. The ones who marched for paid maternity leave and the rights of disabled women.

I am in complete agreement that these are rights worth fighting for.

But when the organizers of this Women’s March come out and say, “We want to see an end of violence against women” but in the next paragraph of their “Unity Principles” say how they are FOR unlimited access to abortion, how can we stand together in that? What about violence in the womb?

If they hadn’t promoted this event to be a pro-choice feminist event, even more women would have joined the cause! It would have been unprecedented to see all of us standing together. But that didn’t happen. Pro-life feminists were left out.

“I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.” – Ronald Reagan, September 22, 1980.

In complete contrast, on January 27th I had the pleasure of attending my first March for Life in D.C. It was an absolutely beautiful experience. All these people of different races, ages, faiths, (yes, atheists too!) and backgrounds coming together to celebrate LIFE.

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The March for Life has Life Principles. The Women’s March had Unity Principles. The goal of the pro-life movement is clear: To show that all human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is the right to life.

The goal of the Women’s March is not so clear to me. I’m still scratching my head over it.

While I was pursuing their site, I came across something rather interesting under the heading #DayWithoutAWoman. Apparently they are organizing another protest where they are asking women to not show up to work? Again, I’m just confused as to what message that sends. But I would also ask, will abortion workers and women who work at Planned Parenthood not show up to work that day?

But what’s really interesting are the 3 questions they ask that they state are their principles that guide their actions:

  1. Do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities?
  2. Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?
  3. Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?

I decided to play a little word game and replace the word “businesses” with Planned Parenthood. Let’s see what results we come up with:

  1. Does Planned Parenthood support our communities, or do they drain our communities?

Planned Parenthood locations are mostly in the poorer communities. I’m going to say the answer is DRAIN our communities in the form of killing them before they’re born.

  1. Does Planned Parenthood strive for gender equity or does it support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?  

Considering abortion is the ultimate form of oppression, I’m going to have to again say that PP is actually THE leader in the oppression movement.

  1. Does Planned Parenthood align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?  

Oh the irony. I find the language in this particular question almost comical if it weren’t so sad. This clearly parallels the goal of the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood = The destruction of children; children have no future when they enter a Planned Parenthood clinic. Their life ends in that moment. And profit??? Yes, they absolutely profit off of the 320,000 unborn lives they terminate in the womb every year. 


Norma McCorvey isn’t alive anymore to have her voice heard. Let’s make an effort to listen to those who have been there, who have believed the lies and have lived to regret them. I believe it’s our duty to hear what they have to say in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

And then maybe, next January 22nd, when we gather in D.C. to March for Life, perhaps we’ll be joined by newcomers to our movement. We’ll link arms together with these sisters with hope that one day we can say:

“Let us unite our voices to abolish abortion together.”

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