Week 5 CLE Daily Mass Project

This weeks theme should be entitled “All About Genesis.” The weeks 1st readings are all from Genesis and the story of creation. Finally, now that I have a thorough understanding of Theology of the Body, I can actually apply what I’ve learned to these readings and get much more out of it.

Speaking of TOB, this past week I presented, along with our transitional Deacon, a Theology of the Body/Chastity talk to our 8th Grade PSR students. Happy to report it went over very well! And the fact that we spoke for an hour and a half to 13/14 year olds and kept their attention is a feat in itself. They had excellent and thoughtful questions after it ranging from gender issues to gay marriage to co-habitation and vocations. Very smart kids these days!

Back to the Daily Mass Project…

This week: St Paschal Baylon in Highland Heights, St. Noel in Willoughby Hills, and St. Francis of Assisi in Gates Mills. Read on!


img_0383St. St. Pashcal Baylon – Thursday  February 8th – 9am

Celebrant: Fr. John Thomas Lane, Pastor

1st Reading: GN 2:18-25

Gospel: MK 7:24-30

Homily Reflections: My favorite line in all of scripture is in the first reading one that Fr. focused on during the homily:

“When he brought her to the man, the man said:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

I just adore this passage. I told the 8th graders: “Adam looks at her with awe and wonder and exclaims those words, At last! He can see that they were made for one another. That their parts…fit.” If that’s not the most simplest definition of how and why we were made male and female, I don’t know what is.

Father also spoke about the mutual support a husband and wife give one another in partnership. He mentioned the healing power of the Eucharist and how we are all called to receive this healing as we receive the body and blood of Christ in communion.

Holy Moments: The older man sitting behind me received a hug from a woman before mass. She said she was sorry for the loss of a woman named Trudy. I assume it was his wife but didn’t want to be nosy. I thought of him during the homily and wondered if he was thinking of this Trudy woman while Fr. spoke about Eve and the creation of woman, and the spousal relationship. I thought the next best thing I could do was to just pray for Trudy’s soul when the priest mentioned all the faithful departed. I always tend to picture all my relatives who have died and their faces quickly pass through my mind as he says those words. But if I don’t have a face to go with the name, in this case, I just focus on the name itself. So Trudy, whoever she is, got some extra prayers this day.


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St. Noel –  Friday February 10th – 12:00pm – Chapel Mass

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What you see as you walk into the chapel..
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The chapel itself.

I just had to take pictures of this place. Such a unique and interesting design!

Celebrant: Fr. George Smiga, Pastor

1st Reading: Genesis 3:1-8

Gospel: Mark 7:31-37

Homily Reflection: Short and sweet. Glad to hear the priest focused so much on the 1st reading about the serpent and evil entering the world. He made a point to mention that God is not responsible for evil. He has made a good world. The presence of evil is a mystery. But we know in the kingdom of heaven, evil will be destroyed. As we are here on earth, we must oppose evil in all its forms and trust in God’s promise of eternal life and and end to all evil.

Holy Moments: The entire mass was a holy moment – From the time I walked in to this little “cave-like” chapel, I felt like this was a special place. I watched an older man escort his handicapped wife to the front row of chairs. I watched two women in the corner whisper the rosary before the mass began. And as the Eucharistic prayer began, the priest invited us all to gather around the altar. Since it was such a small chapel, we could do this easily. I had the vantage point of being behind and over the left shoulder of the priest as he began the liturgy. Probably not a position I would ever be in ever again. And when it came time for the Our Father, we joined hands. Something I’ve grown to actually like instead of shy away from.

 


11904724_1022030927808132_7009978189862862595_nSt. Francis of Assisi – Saturday February 11th – 8:15AM

Celebrant: Fr. Steve Flynn, Pastor

1st Reading: Genesis 3:9-24

Gospel: Mark 8:1-10

Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

Homily Reflection: Theme was “Grasping vs Receiving.” Couldn’t help but smile as again, this was something we discussed with the 8th graders when teaching them about Lust Vs. Love. Lust always grasps. But Love Gifts, Love Receives.  Fr. asked us to think about the  posture of Adam and Even in the garden. What did they do? They stole what was not theirs. Since today was an optional memorial for Our Lady, Father reflected on her as being the model of receptivity. She openly received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

While we’ll never be exactly like Mary, we can still rest assured that whenever we grasp, (sin) God doesn’t give up on us. Father concluded with a prayer to Jesus we can say when we are in “grasping” mode: “Help me to receive what you desire to give me.”

Holy Moments: Got a piece of the big host. Second time in one week. I think that means I’m pretty special.

Or just pretty crazy about Jesus.


Next week hasn’t been planned yet – Might be time for a quick breather and blog about the March for Life in D.C. Stay tuned!

Week 4 -Daily Mass Project

St. Ambrose – Brunswick – Friday January 20th – 5:30pm Chapel Mass

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Celebrant: Fr. Bob Stec

Homily Reflections: Hands down one of the best homilies I’ve heard for a daily mass. And I believe I was meant to hear it. Isn’t that interesting how God plans that out? I was exactly where I needed to be. Prior to coming to mass, I had been feeling just a little down for some unknown reason. And then Fr. Bob begins his homily by saying how a dying man recently asked him, “Father, if God forgives us, does He forget what He’s forgiven?”  After a few words about forgiveness and confession, Father said it doesn’t matter if God forgets or not. All that matters is that He forgives. It doesn’t matter what we did 2 hours ago, 2 days ago or 2 decades ago. As long as we seek repentance and ask for forgiveness, God forgives. The most powerful moment was, as a congregation of 2o or so people gathered in this chapel, we echoed Fathers words: “God forgives. And so we are forgiven.” I couldn’t even get the words out I was almost crying. It was just exactly what I needed to hear. I think there’s just something really special and intimate about daily mass that you just can’t get at a regular mass..and this particular homily was exactly it. Intimate and warm and inviting and quiet enough that I could hear God speak through Father’s words.

Holy Moments: I was asked to help bring up the gifts which I don’t think I’ve done in at least a decade.

As I went up to receive the wine (blood of Christ) I was the last person so I was asked to finish it off. This was a first for me. I don’t normally take more than a little sip of the wine so to take in a huge gulp was just kind of humorous and somewhat of an honor at the same time. I went back to my seat feeling pretty good, too. 😉


St Mary of the Immaculate Conception – Avon – January 21 8:30am

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Celebrant: Not 100% sure but think it was the Pastor, Fr. C. Thomas Cleaton

Gospel MK 3:20-21  – It’s so short that I can just copy and paste it here:

Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, 
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Homily Reflection: Jesus didn’t fit in. He was different. The crowds were sinners who admired Jesus which caused the Sadducees and Pharisees to become threatened by him. What about us? Don’t we want to be admired? Don’t we seek the approval of others? But that’s not important. The only thing that matters is the approval of God. If we have that, we have everything.

Holy Moments: There was not 1, not 2 but 3! servers for this mass. They were clearly very traditional. It’s a very ornate and sacramental church as you can see from the picture that I quickly took afterwards. (I feel awkward taking pictures of these churches if I’m not the only one in there.Feels like I’m being disrespectful so I try to only use photos from the parishes websites if I can.)

This particular morning was the day of the Cleveland March for Life. I wore my 40 Days for Life Hoodie and someone approached me after mass asking me if I was planning on going to the local March. We reconnected at the march a few hours later. Sidenote: The local march had a really great turnout. The good weather definitely helped! And the speaker, Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League did a fantastic job expressing how far the pro-life movement has come in 44 years since Roe vs. Wade. Very encouraging!


St Mary – Elyria – Monday January 23rd -National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn Child – 5:30pm

 

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Celebrant: Unknown – can’t get on their website to confirm. Forgive me!

Homily Reflection: Given the occasion, the priest discussed abortion and how we can protect the unborn and most vulnerable and weakest in our society. He made a point to mention something that I wish all pro-abortion advocates knew about most pro-lifers: Making abortion illegal won’t change hearts. And making abortion illegal will not end abortion. We know that. So what can we do? We need to help people discover love and see life as a gift. We have the Holy Spirit inside us – we need to bring it out. We need to share love in order to build a culture of life. If not, our efforts are fruitless. Prayer is a huge part of it. But action is needed as well. We need to help people see the that each life has value. And how can we do that? We share the Gospel, we share the message of Christ.

Holy Moments: A lovely woman complimented me on her way out the door about my 40 Days for Life shirt. What can I say, I’m unapologetically pro-life and something like a message on a t-shirt can spark a conversation. You never know who is watching.

Got the big host at communion! Aww yeah. Jackpot.

This begs the question – If I get a piece of the big host at communion 3 masses in a row, is that like the equivalent of a hat trick in hockey or like a turkey in bowling? Because I swear this is going to happen to me during this project. And when it does, I think it should be named after me. Like…the Piccolo effect. 🙂


Next week I hope to have my blog done about my experience at my first ever March for Life in D.C. I was also interviewed (very briefly, about 5 questions) by the New York Times about my feelings on the Women’s March on Washington and my views as a pro-life feminist. So stay tuned for that whenever it publishes!

Week 3 Daily Mass Project

This week took me to Medina and Valley City to visit Holy Martyrs, St. Francis Xavier and St. Martin of Tours. Enjoy!


holy-martyrs-church-medinajpg-bb2f7159550ca2abHoly Martyrs Friday January 13th 8:00AM – Chapel Mass

Celebrant: Pastor, Rev. Steve Dohner

Number of Attendees: 10 including me.

Gospel: Mark 2: 1-12

Homily Reflection: Father emphasized that we are all the friends in the Gospel, the friends who lower down the paralytic to be healed. But we are also the paralytic, in need of healing.

Holy Moments:  The chalice. Sounds strange but I couldn’t stop looking at it. It was this beautiful gold embossed (am I using that word right? Whatever) with wheat imagery all around it. Like the wheat was wrapped around it. I want to go back there just to ask if I can get a photo of it.

At the end of the mass, one of the women turned around and as she was leaving she said, “Thank you for visiting with us today.”  It’s nice to be noticed. Which was pretty easy since there were so few of us.

Our Father Orans Posture: Neither hands clasped Nor Orans posture – These folks went old school and we all HELD HANDS! I couldn’t help but laugh a little as I thought about sharing it on the blog.  I’m sure some people would rather not touch one another, similar to the sign of peace where people literally make the peace sign and don’t shake hands. But I would almost prefer it to the Orans Posture.


sfxcampusSt. Francis Xavier – Medina – Saturday January 14th 8:30am Mass

Celebrant: Rev. Tony Sejba

Gospel: Mark 2:13-17

Initial Thoughts: As I put in “St. Francis Xavier Medina” into Google Maps on my phone, it actually directed me to their old church on Liberty Street. So someone may want to inform Google Maps to fix that. Luckily, Medina isn’t too big so it was pretty easy to find the current St. Francis Xavier Church off of Washington.

Homily Reflection: Fr. Sejba started out by mentioning an unfortunate event that happened with our local Catholic Charities and a woman who had stolen almost 2 million dollars from it. Not a common way to begin a homily. He related it to the Gospel, which was about how Jesus came for the sinners. Specifically for those of us who are broken and in need of mercy. Especially those who are in need of forgiveness. No matter how many times someone may hurt us, no matter who causes us pain, we have to learn to forgive them, because God forgives us. How can we ask God to forgive us for the wrongs we have done and not expect the same in return? Fr. also mentioned the police officer in NYC, Steve McDonald, who passed away and was known for forgiving the man who shot him and caused his paralysis. What a story! I’m so glad I was there to hear him mention this story because it truly is a great example of forgiveness.

Holy Moments: We sung Marian hymns to open and close the mass and I noticed the prayers also mentioned Mary. I was confused because I knew it wasn’t a Marian feast day so after consulting with my super smart priest, I learned that every Saturday in Ordinary Time the priest has the option to do a memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since I rarely attend daily mass on Saturdays, I had no idea. Learn something new everyday!


martin6St. Martin of Tours – Valley City – Sunday  January 15th – 10:30am mass

Celebrant: Pastor, Rev. Thomas Dunphy

Gospel: John 1:29-34

Initial thoughts: One of my favorites so far. Immediately upon arriving I was met with a lovely woman who upon giving me a missal/hymnal, and I informed her I was a first timer to her parish. She was incredibly welcoming and told me to go visit the historic church first, which serves as their chapel for daily masses, weddings and funerals.

Here’s just a few pics I took while in there, but you would be wise to go visit it sometime.

The current “newer” church  (below) is just as beautiful but has a great blend of old/traditional mixed with modern. The choir members wore traditional choir robes. The stations of the cross were just as stunning as the ones in the historic church. There was a good blend of families mixed with older folks and even a few singles such as myself.new_church_inside_400

Initial thoughts: Fr. Dunphy was just terrific. He spoke very eloquently but casually.  Kind. Gentle. Heartfelt and sincere. His microphone wasn’t quite working so he went to fix it, accidentally turning it off after turning it on, and finally getting it to work. He looked over at the Deacon and said, “Where were you on that one? You’re supposed to be assisting me!” which got a lot of laughs from the folks in the pews. You could tell right away this was a close-knit community.

The whole homily had to be one of the best homilies I had heard in a long time. He spoke directly to the people, as if he was looking directly into their hearts. He was speaking to them as a friend. It was truly beautiful. I do think it had to be a 20 minute homily but I hung on every word. There was a time when he asked the congregation a question: “Were you baptized in the Holy Spirit?” to which everyone said Yes. He then asked, “How?” and pointed right to a young man by name in the front pew who proudly answered: “Because Jesus Christ is Lord.”

The initial message was simply: You need to get Jesus into your life. Jesus sent you here today. Simply ask Him: “Jesus, I want you to come into my life today.”

Holy Moments:  I suppose the best moments were spent in the historic church and praying and just taking it all in. I had time to reflect on this project of mine and what it means and how grateful I am to be able to do it.


Heading to the D.C. March for Life this week but the Daily Mass Project continues. Expect a nice long post about the March; it’ll be my first one and I’m very much looking forward to writing about the experience, especially in comparison to the so-called “Women’s March” on Washington last weekend.

As for the DMP in the coming weeks: I keep it local and head to St. Albert the Great and St. Charles. And I finally make good on my promise to bring someone with me to a mass. Also reflections from masses at St Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Avon and St. Mary’s in Elyria.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Week 2 – Daily Mass Project

This week:  St. Gabriel in Mentor, St. Joe’s in Strongsville, and St. Clare in Lyndhurst.

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No this is not a picture from the mass I attended but I wanted readers to see the altar and beautiful cross/design they have here.

Parish #3 – St. Gabriel – Mentor – Sunday January 8th – Feast of the Epiphany 5pm

1st Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

2nd Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6

Gospel: Matthew 2: 1-12

Celebrant: Fr. Michael Denk

Assisted by: Deacon Bob Gurczik

Number of Attendees for a 5pm Sunday mass: Outstanding!

Immediately I feel like this parish is incredibly welcoming. Maybe it just appears to be larger than it is but all I know is I have never seen a 5pm mass on a Sunday so packed! It was awesome to witness. Everyone seemed pretty joyful and happy to be there. As soon as I sat down I noticed the choir was made up of a variety of people as well as a few young girls who happily announced where we could find the songs in the hymnal. I didn’t even care that the little girl pronounced Epiphany as “Effany.” Adorable!

Homily Reflection: Fr. Denk has his own website, The Prodigal Father, and he puts his homilies online. So I can “cheat” on this one and copy and paste my favorite part, which was this: Have you had some kind of experience in your life that makes you want to yearn for more? If you have, are you still seeking? Are you still seeking with all of your heart? Because, ultimately, if we are not thrill seekers or Christ seekers, we are going to lead very boring monotonous lives. If we are Christ seekers, we are going to discover the more and more we experience Him, the more and more we are going to long for Him.

If I’m not a Christ-seeker, I sure don’t know what the heck I am!  Because I think even a blind person could see that I’m seeking Christ everyday. And my life ain’t boring, that’s for sure. It’s truly amazing and I do wish everyone had this longing to seek Him out.

Holy Moments: I recognized one of the Eucharistic Ministers as a young man who was on the team for a TEC Retreat I made exactly a year ago. Totally random and a complete God-incidence.  Also, after every 5pm mass on Sundays, St. Gabriel has Eucharistic Adoration for an hour and 45 minutes followed by Night Prayer and Benediction. It became obvious not everyone knew this was happening, either because they didn’t read the bulletin or just never come to this particular mass. So you could see some confused looks on people’s faces. I am a relative newbie to Adoration (just about a year steady) so I’m happy to see parishes making a point to do this after mass/weekly for people to have some alone time with Jesus.

Our Father Orans Posture: I saw MANY Orans poses and MANY people holding hands. Looks like I’m in the minority once again as a “hands folded” poser.


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Parish #4 – St. Joseph – Stronsgville – Monday January 9th – Baptism of the Lord – 6:30pm mass – Chapel

1st Reading: Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7

Gospel:Matthew 3:13-17

Celebrant: Fr. Anthony Suso

Assisted by: Deacon Robert Lester

I LOVE chapel masses! It makes me think of when my Mom took me to daily mass as a toddler at St. Anthony’s in Parma, before they built the church that is there now. But it’s also nice to be in a small setting with just a couple dozen people.

Homily Reflection: Deacon Robert had the homily and mentioned there are actually 3 Epiphanies: The Epiphany Feast on Sunday of the Magi, the Baptism of the Lord that we celebrate today, and the third is Jesus’ first miracle of changing the water into wine at the Wedding at Cana. He also mentioned to use not just our words but our actions; that our actions are what matter most in trying to build up the kingdom of God. And that how we act is of paramount importance as Christians.

Holy Moments: There was a program for this mass! That’s always a nice touch. But then I realized they chant/sing the Entrance and Communion Antiphons. A very nice added touch, because usually, we just speak these, we don’t sing them. But these folks did a great job. Their chapel also serves as a perpetual adoration chapel, so I went there first for some adoring time beforehand. At 6pm people started to file in and before I knew it, I was praying a rosary with them! A pleasant surprise.


Parish #5 – St. Clare – Lyndhurst – Wednesday January 11th – 8:30am – School Mass

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1st Reading:Hebrews 2: 14-18

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Celebrant: Fr. Stanley Klasinski

Opening Song: Glory And Praise to Our God

Preparation Song: We Three Kings

Communion Song: Rain Down Your Love on Your People

Closing Song: Christ Be Our Light

What’s better than a Chapel Mass? A School Mass! I pull in to the parking lot with 5 minutes to spare but little did I know they began this mass about 5 minutes early, so I walked in to a bunch of kids singing “Glory and Praise to Our God.”  I’m telling ya, if you need a pick-me-up, go find a school mass. The kids will just melt your heart.

These kids, from Corpus Christi Academy, were on such great behavior. And the girls in the choir singing perfectly in tune, especially this adorable blondie enunciating every word. She was very dynamic and quite the singer.

Homily Reflection: The gospel included the line about Jesus going off by himself to pray. So the priest emphasized a prayer life with the children. But he also mentioned how priests pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I have been praying the LOH consistently for about 3 months now and it is awesome and wonderful and literally sets the tone for my day. It’s best to start your day with prayer than by checking your phone to go on social media, check email, or text someone. That stuff can wait! 

Holy Moments: I stayed in the church after mass and as the children were exiting, I made my way over to a kneeler in front of statues of the Blessed Mother and Joseph. All of a sudden the kids who were leaving the church became completely quiet. I think their teacher must have pointed to me as if to say “She’s praying, be quiet,” because I could hear a pin drop. I came to find out after I started to write this blog, that they have a chapel with adoration next door. Duh! I didn’t even bother to ask. Definitely could have used some quiet time but all in all it was a great mass and a great start to the day.

 

Up Next: Heading all the way out to Medina – An early Saturday morning mass at St. Francis Xavier, a weekday mass in the chapel at Holy Martyrs, and a Sunday mass at beautiful and historic St. Martin of Tours in Valley City.

 

Week 1 Daily Mass Project

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#1 – Saint John of the Cross – Euclid – Thursday January 5 6:30pm

1st Reading: 1 John 3:11-21

Gospel: John 1:43-51

Celebrant: Fr. Salvatore Ruggeri, Pastor

Estimated Number of Attendees: 10

So this mass started it all. I was sitting completely alone in this church when I got the idea to start this project. For some reason, I remembered my friend Mike telling me years ago that he has a life goal of visiting every single baseball stadium in America.  He’s clearly a huge baseball fan and I remember thinking how his idea was so interesting to me. What a bucket list item! And then the next thing I know, an idea popped in my head: Why not visit every single parish in the Cleveland diocese as your goal? And so here we are!

Homily Reflection: As Fr. Ruggeri gave his homily, he repeated the following phrase: “Come and see.” What I heard was a repeated invitation to experience all that God has to offer us. Come and see the Word made Flesh. Come and see what God does to those who follow Him. Come and see what He has done and what He continues to do in all of us who open the door to His invitation.

During the 1st reading, I was struck by the line, “Do not be amazed if the world hates you.” This particular week I had read and shared an article which said that Christianity is the most persecuted faith in the world. And that a record amount of 90,000 people were killed because of their faith in 2016 alone. 90,000! I was sitting there thinking how fortunate I am to live in a country where I am free to worship, without fear of being killed. I may get strange looks, I may be called names, and I definitely think I know a few people who hate me because of my faith and strong pro-life convictions. But that’s all the more reason to carry on and persevere.

Holy Moments: As I went up to receive Eucharist, I was given a BIG piece of the BIG host. Not too surprising given the amount of people, but still special.  Fr. also led us in singing opening and closing hymns. This isn’t unusual for a weekday mass but when there are only 10 people, I consider it gutsy. He had a beautiful singing voice which drowned out any tone deaf singers, which I was grateful for. He also chanted and had us sing the responses, which, for me, helps me to slow down and take in all that’s happening instead of rushing through.

Our Father Orans Posture: Mixed. This is completely for comic relief because what I find so amusing is that we all seem to have our typical posture during the Our Father. And ever since they suggested we take the Orans posture, I see NO one being consistent with this. I was told it should be whatever the community does. So as a community, we should be consistent. But I’m one of the stubborn hands-folded people. (I know, you hate me now). But I simply refuse to take the Orans posture. I just don’t feel it. So whenever it’s time to say the Our Father, I always take a quick look around to see what everyone else is doing and I have yet to attend a mass where everyone is the same.  Who knows, maybe at the end of this project I’ll be an Orans-er.

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#2 -Sts Robert and Williams – Euclid – Friday January 6 12:00pm

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1st Reading: 1 John 5:5-13

Gospel: Mark 1:7-11

Celebrant: Fr. Scott Goodfellow

Assisted by: Transitional Deacon Eric Garris

Initial thoughts: Beautiful stained glass in the middle of the church. And do feel lucky that I get to see churches decorated with Christmas still before they take them all down. In the back of the church are various statues of Mary and St. Anne, St. Jude, and St. Therese among others. At the front of the church they have statues of St. Robert and St. William. I’m sure there were more but I didn’t have time to do a complete re-con. 🙂 They have a quaint Perpetual Adoration Chapel which I DID spend quite a bit of time in. What’s really different is that the monstrance is located behind glass. And so when someone leaves and there’s no one in the chapel to stay, you just draw little curtains over the glass to keep Him covered up.

As I looked around at the people for mass, I recognized 2 of the local leaders from the pro-life group 40 Days for Life in attendance. I had no idea this was their parish so it’s always kind of fun to see people you never expected to. I was also excited to hear Deacon Eric proclaim the Gospel. He’ll be ordained a priest in May this year. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten to know quite a few seminarians and priests. This isn’t an easy life these men sign up for and I think we all need to recognize that they all need our prayers because it’s very counter-cultural to discern these vocations. So pray for our priests, and especially those that are still discerning this vocation. We need more good priests!

Homily Reflection: Fr. Scott spoke about faith in his homily. Faith is about knowing and seeing. Faith allows us to know Him and see Him everyday in our lives and in each moment and each person we encounter.  He asked us, “How do we make faith real? And he answered the question by responding that we live “incarnately.” Thats not a real word but, I believe he meant we live as the Incarnation, as the Word was made flesh. We make faith real as baptized Catholics by living the Incarnation, recognizing that Jesus comes in the flesh to live in us and with us.

Holy Moments: No singing or chanting but bonus points for chimes during the consecration. And great conversation after the mass with my 40 Days for Life pals as well as Fr. Scott as he begins his Theology of the Body class with his 8th graders.

2 parishes down, 183 to go!

Up next week: I’m all over the place! I take advantage of a snow-free Sunday and make the trek to St. Gabriel in Mentor; St. Joe’s in Strongsville sings the Antiphons in tune, and a children’s mass in St. Clare in Lyndhurst. Read all about it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CLE Daily Mass Project

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist - Cleveland, Ohio
St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, Cleveland. Photo courtesy of Photography By Francis 

Ahh daily mass. What a gift! There’s something really unique and interesting about this brief encounter with Christ. This 30 minute mass has been instrumental in bringing me back to the Church. 

It may seem difficult to take part in a daily mass due to a busy schedule, but the good news is that is indeed possible. It requires something we don’t like to mention and that’s sacrifice, usually in the form of sleep. Living in a large diocese as Cleveland, I have noticed there’s quite a few parishes that offer daily mass in the evening after work. And they offer it usually early in the morning before work. So most people can attend daily mass if they adjust their schedules. 

I’ve also recently discovered that I know quite a few lapsed and Christmas/Easter Catholics. Reflecting on this I thought:  “What would be a good way to grow in my faith, but also help lead these people back home to the Catholic Church?”

Well, I had an Epiphany during mass (shocker!) and here it is:

I want to attend 1 daily mass at each parish in the Cleveland Diocese, all 185, within the year. And I want to bring people WITH me. That would be the ultimate goal: To help those Christmas/Easter Catholics rediscover their Catholic roots and hopefully bring them back to the Church full-time.


I initially referred to it as a Challenge (because it will be) but I also thought of the word Project, due to the goal of getting others involved. Kind of like a team effort. I’ll then write a short blog about what I experience at each parish I visit. But I want to make it clear that it won’t be a Critique or Review as if I’m going to a restaurant and reporting on the food by rating it on a point system.

Can you imagine?!

I give this priest 3 out of 4 hosts for the Homily but I’m giving 2 hosts for Overall Atmosphere based on that sorry excuse for a nativity scene. And what is up with the design of that tabernacle?  Clearly this church was built in the 60’s, which is probably the same decade these kneelers were installed. Ouch! Will be back again but hoping for a different lector who is a little less monotone and knows how to pronounce “Colossians” correctly.

Yeah that wouldn’t go over too well. 

My Six Commandments

In the meantime, I’m giving myself some rules. Feel free to apply these to yourself if you care to join in:

  1. I can attend a church by myself that can count toward the challenge but only if it’s within a 5* mile radius of my work/home. If it’s outside the 5 mile radius then I must provide a legit reason for attending – This includes: A social event nearby within a 1.5 hour timeframe, a baptism/wedding at the church, having an appointment within the area, etc. If I cannot provide a legit reason for going, then I must follow rule #2.
  2. I need to bring someone to mass. In other words, I can’t just drive to Painesville** for mass to check a parish off the list. I must find a friend to meet me/go with me. If I don’t find someone, I can still attend but it won’t count as a part of the project. I still have to go with someone in order for it to count and to reinforce the point which is to bring people (literally) closer to Christ. 
  3. I must provide a few words/thoughts on the homily and what message I heard during the mass/what I experienced. I can also write about what the church was like and what the atmosphere was, people I saw, any interesting occurrences that might be noteworthy. Of course, only in a positive light because again, the point is to bring people closer to Jesus and not criticize something such as the vestments the priest wore: “Is that supposed to be Rose for Gaudete Sunday? He looks like human cotton-candy coming down the aisle.”
  4. Reflections will be posted on Wednesdays and will include the previous week’s masses attended.
  5. Sunday mass will count for the project but only if I can never make it to a daily mass with a friend/a daily mass is not offered/I can’t find a willing friend to go with me. Most applicable for parishes that don’t offer mass in English and parishes in the far counties like Wayne** and Ashtabula** as I have zero friends in those counties. 
  6. No double dipping. (One mass per day, unless I have a legit reason for going to two. For legit reasons, see rule #1)

*May change to 10 mile radius to expand my territory to make it more do-able.

**Lake, Wayne and Ashtabula Counties will be squeezed into the non-winter months. Because even Jesus wouldn’t live in the snowbelt.

Some Final Thoughts

  • Daily Mass is intimate. That’s the most appealing part of it! But there’s no intimacy if others don’t even know that they can have the same relationship. I don’t seem willing to share the benefits of going to mass with many people besides my fellow Super Catholics. Which is great but I can do better.
  • The most costly part of this will be mileage on my leased car. I’ve had people make jokes that I must drive all over the country considering I’ve put 40K miles on my car in 18 months. But I always respond the same: I’m happy to go where I’m needed and where I’m called. And it’s an honor and privilege to have 3 part-time jobs which take me to all parts of the city. I may as well try and encounter Christ while I’m at it. If the gas/mileage is just too much of a burden at some point, I’ve already have had friends express interest in giving me rides, which helps accomplish the goal.
  • The friend(s) I attend mass with may contribute to the challenge by telling me their responses to #3 and #4, which will make the blog post more of a conversation and dialogue than just my own scattered thoughts. It would also be very interesting to hear what someone heard at their own daily mass at a different parish from a different priest. 
  • The end goal may be an ebook or something, I haven’t quite figured that part out. I just know that God put this idea on my heart and I’m trying very hard to see it through. If you have your own ideas/feedback about this, I’m all ears! Feel free to comment!

So stay tuned! This Wednesday’s post will include reflections from St. John of the Cross and Sts. Robert and William, both located in Euclid.

 

The Gift of Teaching Others How to Pray

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For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.

—St. Therese of Lisieux

I just love the different people I encounter at adoration on any given day.

Just the other day, as I was praying the rosary, a woman in the row of seats next to me seemed restless. She kept getting up and going to the back of the chapel to get some books. She didn’t seem to comfortable just sitting there and looked like she needed something to read.

As I went on with my rosary, the woman asked, “Excuse me, but do you have the Our Father over there by you?”

I rummaged through my bag o’ books and had to laugh: Of all the prayer cards and books I have on me at any given time, how could I not have the Our Father, the most common prayer?!

I apologized for not having it handy but then informed her it was in the Bible. (Matthew 6 for future reference.)

She had no idea and was so grateful that I mentioned this to her.

I went back to my rosary but couldn’t help think: “How sad that this person didn’t  know the Our Father!”

And then I realized the hard truth: There’s no prayer in public schools anymore. There’s no prayer on tv. There’s no one praying out in the open for fear of being sued or ridiculed. So why should I be surprised that this middle aged woman didn’t know the most common prayer in history?

If I hadn’t been raised Catholic I may not know the Our Father, either. But I also didn’t start really praying from the heart until a couple years ago. I started seeing people sincerely speak words from their heart, as they would pray either over me or with me or even before a meal and I thought, “I gotta step up my prayer game. These people are professionals!”

There’s lots of books on contemplative prayer, and meditative prayer and repetitive prayers, novenas, chaplets, devotions, etc. It can seem overwhelming if your goal is just to learn how to pray everyday.

I’m no expert but I thought, if I were to try to help someone learn how to pray, here’s what I would suggest:

Books to Pray With

Two books by Jacques Philippe are great recommendations:

Time for God  And his follow-up book is called Thirsting for Prayer

Both books are under 150 pages, which is why I like them so much. Sometimes I think we say we don’t have time to read about how to pray, but we do. We just have to make the time. And these books can easily be read in a couple of days.

Meditation and Contemplation

There’s also a great way to pray with scripture called Lectio Divina. I’m not too great with this. My poor Spiritual Director had suggested it to me and I really struggle with this one. I can’t quite do this by myself but I have found it to be helpful in a group setting. It’s harder to become distracted with others around, for me at least.

Thomas Merton is probably one of the more widely known teachers of contemplative prayer. His book,  Contemplative Prayer is one of the most popular spiritual books out there. According to reviews, ”

Another great author is Richard Rohr. He has a book entitled, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.  Rohr also has a great website where you can sign up for his daily meditations. Richard Rohr, OFM – Center for Action and Contemplation

There’s an App for that

If books aren’t really your thing and you’d prefer to use an electronic device to pray, I have to mention two that are FREE and worthwhile.

The first is called Examen and it’s my favorite app to use.  Not only is it helpful with your prayer life, it gets you to take a look back at your day for some self-reflection. In our busy day-to-day hustle and bustle, it’s really key to take time to reflect on not only all the good that God provides for us, but the moments when maybe we weren’t really acting or thinking with the mind of Christ.

The second app is called iBreviary and it’s used to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. This is what most priests use and religious as a way to pray for the Church and to mark each hour with prayer and song. I try to pray at least morning and evening prayer and lately I’ve been on a roll praying all 5 times throughout the day. It doesn’t take long and what I like about it is that this forces me to slow down and take a breather to focus on what’s really important. It’s amazing how SANE I feel and how any anxiety I have melts away after I pray this way.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 18:2

Recently, I shared with my 7th graders the 5 Finger Prayer. It was an easy way for them to understand a certain order to pray in because let’s be honest, sometimes we just don’t know where to begin after we make the sign of the cross.

Here’s an easy way to remember that even a kid can understand:

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“But when you pray, go in your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret.” Mt 6:6

I’m in awe of people who create and construct their own home altars. Whoa. That’s a bit advanced for me.

I would suggest trying to find your own “cell” or private space in which to pray everyday. If you tend to become easily distracted, like me, then praying in the middle of a house full of people/kids/blaring tv, etc just isn’t going to cut it. A table or a desk and maybe enough space for a couple of books (the Bible being most important of course) is really all you need!

Speaking of the Word, if there was just one book you need or require to get started praying, the Bible is really the only one you need. And while there are Bible apps, I would suggest an actual Bible. And perhaps a notebook to act as your prayer journal. Because chances are, once you start to really pray religiously (ooooh see what I did there?) you will no doubt want to jot down thoughts that the Spirit stirs in you. Plus it’s a neat way to look back after a few months to see how some of your prayers have been answered!

When all else fails, when you feel overwhelmed by all these methods of prayer, just go back to the beginning and think of the woman I spoke to during Adoration. The most basic prayer you can pray is the prayer Jesus taught us:

Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done

     On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses

    As we forgive those who trespass against us;

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

Amen.