I just spent a very short weekend at home in CLE to celebrate my Dad’s 75th birthday. This morning, I found myself at our neighborhood parish of St. Albert the Great for 9:30am mass which was not in my “plan” at all. I actually thought I’d attend 5pm mass here in Plymouth but something, or someone, nudged me to go to Albert’s this morning.
I do tend to feel better when I go to a morning mass on Sundays. I don’t know what it is about evening masses that make me feel all “off.” I think it’s like how I felt growing up: If I was up late on a Sunday night, it felt weird because I knew I had to be up early for school the next day. And no one wants to think about school on a Sunday night. That’s the worst. feeling. ever. (Did I get all my homework done? What if there’s a Math test tomorrow? Please let there be a snow day!)
So as I walked in, I actually took a bulletin and sat down, which I don’t normally do. I find reading the bulletin distracting for me but something compelled me to reach for one.
As I knelt in the pew, I actually started to pray a slightly different prayer than I normally do. I felt compelled to write it down afterwards:
“Help me to remember that everyone is here is loved by You. Help me remember they are created in your image and likeness and that they are created to love and to be loved. I need to remember that and I pray that they know it too.”
The reason I am sharing is because this is very closely related to the Gospel this Sunday, which was from Matthew when Jesus answers the Pharisees’ question about which commandment is the greatest: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And then Jesus says the 2nd is like this one: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
So that was my first sign that perhaps I had actually been “quiet” enough this weekend to allow the Holy Spirit to help me remember the message of this Sunday’s readings before I even had time to open the missal, hence the prayer.
I decided to open the bulletin to read it, which again, something I rarely do, when I saw the note from the pastor that a seminarian friend of mine named Joe was invited to be the guest speaker before mass. He was going to talk because this was Priesthood Sunday and he was going to share his story of his vocation.
He spoke before mass started (Excellent idea, by the way, most people are attentive before mass begins than after it’s over, in my opinion). He gave such a wonderful testimonial of his journey to the seminary. It was also very timely for me as Joe emphasized to everyone there, not just young men, but for everyone to discern their vocation. So this isn’t just for religious or priests, it’s also for marriage.
“We need more vocations in our Church,” he said. And he’s so right! We don’t just need more priests and religious sisters but we also need more marriages. More joy-filled marriages! And I would add, more vocations from women to consecrated virginity but that’s very rare that Joe would even mention it. But it just struck me as being so timely that I was there to hear a talk on vocations, as I have been discerning consecrated virginity for a couple years now.
Joe asked for prayers as he is halfway through the seminary along with 79 other men in Cleveland. 80 seminarians is huge! And I must say I’m pretty proud of the Cleveland Diocese for being in the top 3 or 5 (not sure exactly?) of number of men in the seminary. Now that I’m in Detroit, I feel like I need to pray even harder for these young men here at Sacred Heart. And we need to pray overall for an increase in vocations. The priests in my own life have been instrumental in my spiritual journey. So please thank your priest/pastor next time you see them. Thank a religious sister too, while you’re at it. They need our prayers but they also need to be thanked. They sacrifice a lot and I don’t think many of us truly give them the acknowledgement they deserve. And of course, thank God for them most of all.
Speaking of great priests, Fr. Joe Kim celebrated this mass and had a really great homily. He’s a sweetheart of a priest. I was blessed to attend his first ever mass (a daily mass) at St. Albert’s when he started a year (or has it been 2?) ago. He’s from Korea so he has a very noticeable accent but it really doesn’t deter him from delivering a heartfelt and sincere message.
He asked us to think about how much do we love God and how much do we love our neighbor?
He said when we love something, like our favorite sports team, we usually have a lot of gear/apparel like hats and jackets and t-shirts with their logo on it. But how much do we love God that we are willing to accessorize for Him to show others that we are Christian? Maybe we wear a crucifix or a cross, or maybe we have a rosary or a statue of Mary in our yard. But is that enough?
What about time? Mass on Sunday is 1 hour. But if we love our football team we’re probably watching all day on Sunday, and then again on Monday and Thursday night.
What else do we love? Fr. mentioned how much he loves ice cream. The man confessed to having it 4 times a day! I don’t know if he was exaggerating to prove a point but it was hilarious to think about this priest indulging in ice cream for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a dessert at night time. He also said he loves sleep. And working out. So the point was all this other stuff that we love adds up.
And soon we realize, “Where and how much time in the day am I spending loving God and my neighbor?”
He offered just a small piece of advice: Spend small amounts of time in prayer frequently instead of trying to pray for a long time at one point during the day. For example, saying a prayer in the morning when you wake up, before meals, and before you go to sleep at night. It’s easy and simple and most of all, attainable. Then (and he didn’t say this but I would suggest) that you can add in more prayer times as you get into a routine. Even praying in the car during your commute is preferable.
He also suggested spending time in the adoration chapel. He said, and I strongly agree, that the St. Albert’s adoration chapel is probably the most beautiful one in the diocese. I spent many many hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament there and it’s just so needed because it’s peaceful and quiet and, you know, Jesus is there.
Today, in our noisy, loud world, we are in desperate need of silence. It’s perpetual, which I REALLY miss here in Detroit. There’s not one perpetual (24-7/365) chapel in this diocese. 😦 However, there IS one in Ann Arbor, which is the Lansing Diocese and it’s right where I work so I’m very lucky. (And if there is a Perpetual Adoration chapel in Detroit, someone let me know!)
I wanted to share a photo of our seminarians in Cleveland and here in Detroit but could only find the one of my CLE boys.
The best thing I ever heard from someone was to take these posters and bring them with you to a chapel to pray individually for these young men. I think it helps to have names and faces as you say a Hail Mary or an Our Father for them. And then, God-willing, one day you may meet them in person and say, “Ahh! Joe! I prayed for you when you were just a seminarian. Congratulations on being ordained a Priest!”
Just so people don’t think I’m giving my hometown of Cleveland all the praise, here’s a very recent article from Sacred Heart Major Seminary on how they are having one of their best years for enrollment. So Thanks be to God for them too! 🙂