Daily Mass Project – Goodbye CLE, Hello DET

I haven’t even been in Michigan a month and it’s already been quite the whirlwind. I’ve attended mass everyday since I’ve been here, which is such a gift. It’s also *easy* to attend everyday since I work for a company that has daily mass available 3 times a day in our chapel.  I’m still wishing I could have finished my “project” in Cleveland before moving but physically it was impossible. Altogether I think the final tally was around 65 parishes visited in CLE alone. I’ve already picked up here in Detroit where I left off in Cleveland, and will continue to try and promote daily mass as something to be shared and attended as often as possible to the people here in DET.  Our bishop, Allen Vigneron, recently wrote a pastoral letter called Unleash the Gospel. Upon reading it, I felt further “affirmed” in my calling to move to his great city. I hope other dioceses follow in this Archbishop’s footsteps and start to create “joyful missionary disciples.”

Saint Christopher – Rocky River – Thursday July 27th

I spent my final Daily Mass Project in Cleveland by attending St. Chris in Rocky River where my buddy, the newly ordained, Fr. Jim Cosgrove, has been assigned. He just happened to be presiding at the 11am mass on the day I was moving to Plymouth Michigan so he asked me if I would like a traveler’s blessing during the intercessions. How can anyone pass up a blessing?

So besides a beautiful homily reflecting about answering God’s call, he actually starting talking about me! I’ve never been the subject of someone’s homily. 🙂 After a few words about me moving to “enemy territory” in Ann Arbor, he had such sweet words to say about my passion for Theology of the Body and how I’ve literally answered God’s call to move here. If I wasn’t turning three shades of red as people turned around to look at me, I probably would have started tearing up. He brought me forward to the front of the church during the intercessions and had me face the congregation as close to 100 of these total strangers raised their hand to pray over me. I have NEVER felt such peace from being prayed over before.

Afterwards I had several people there come up to me to ask me where exactly I was moving to, (Plymouth) who will I be working for (Thomas More Law Center) and which parish would I be joining (Our Lady of Good Counsel). As I started to tell them about the DMP and how I was trying to get pictures of their beautiful church, one by one they said none of them actually belonged to St. Christopher! It was pretty funny – they were only there because it’s the only parish in the vicinity with an 11am daily mass. So its very well attended.

Clearly that’s Fr. Jim in the photo above. I just adore him and he’s SUCH a gifted homilist (is that a real word?) and priest. It’s so obvious that he’s going to thrive there. Love you Fr. Jim! Thank you again for the prayer – it worked perfectly! 🙂

Sidenote: I see on their website that they have a video of the art and architecture of St. Christopher. Check it out! Turns out another buddy of mine, Joshua, edited the video. Nice work Josh!


Ste. Anne de Detroit – 2nd Oldest Church in America!

The Young Catholic Professionals of Detroit kicked off their first event in the parking lot of this church in Detroit. After some mingling and drinks, they opened the church up to us all for a mini-tour. I thought it was definitely Gods timing that this was the first church I visited after I moved up here. I had no idea it was the 2nd oldest in our country.

There’s a lot more to say about this place, obviously, but in the meantime, visit their website to learn all about it!


St. Joseph Oratory – Detroit – High Mass – Friday August 4th 7pm

Well now THIS was an experience! I attended my  first High Mass at this newly established parish.

If I could sum up the entire experience in one word it would definitely be reverent. Even though the entire mass is in Latin and you may not understand exactly what is being said, you are still witnessing something extra-ordinary. When there was chanting going on, I would look around at the statues or the stained glass or the side altar. There was so much beauty all around. It didn’t even matte that it was in a different language. If anything, that made it all the more lovely.

We didn’t find out until afterwards, but the priest (actually the Rector and I think you refer to them as Canons) who celebrated this mass was just ordained and this was his very first mass after being installed as Pastor of St. Joseph Oratory.

As my friend Kristen described it, “It was like a dance! A beautiful dance.”  You would watch him and the servers (Pretty sure they are called Deacons) assist him and he went from one side of the sanctuary to the other, as he chanted one part and spoke another part. All the while, you couldn’t help but get this sense that something other-worldly was taking place.

This being my first mass like this I assumed I would have to receive on the tongue at the communion rail. Thankfully a friend of mine whispered to me to *not say Amen after he presented me with the Body of Christ. You simply open your mouth to receive without saying anything. (Good to know!)

I went back to the pew after communion and just reflected on what had just happened to me. Technically, this was no different than any other time I received the Eucharist, right? And yet, it WAS different. I felt this incredible sense of awe and reverence and wonder at the entire thing. I attribute this to several parts of the experience but two in particular: 1. Being on my knees and looking up. That’s a humbling posture to take and it’s what we are SUPPOSED to do, right? Especially to show reverence for God. 2. The bells rang during the consecration. The CHURCH bells, not just the chimes that the servers typically ring. It sounds like no big deal typing it out now, but that’s the most important part of the mass. I almost started crying. I have started crying or tearing up at some masses I’ve attended and it’s usually at the part where I realize I am truly unworthy to receive Jesus. And whether it was the bells or the chanting or the statues or the overall beauty of this place, I left there thinking about how many times I’ve “casually” received communion, without even really thinking about the GIFT that I have just received. I’m sure this has happened plenty of times to me. I don’t know if attending Latin Mass repeatedly will “fix” it, but I do know I have since prayed that I never become complacent in my adoration for Christ.


Next up: The DMP continues in DET.  Our Lady of Victory in Northville, St. Priscilla’s in Livonia and a few homily reflections from our priests at my new home parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Daily Mass Project – Northfield, Macedonia, Akron and Hinkley

Saint Barnabas – Northfield – Thursday July 20th

 

Celebrant: Fr. Ralph Wiatrowski, Pastor

Initial Thoughts: Got there early enough to walk the grounds outside the church to take in all the awesome statues and statute of Our Lady of Fatima as well as the outdoor Stations of the Cross. I even managed to get a little lost, trying to find my way IN to the church. I think I tried every door before I realized if I just went in the FRONT door, that leads to, duh, the church. A very blonde moment for me.

The worship space is all carpet with no kneelers but really large pews. It reminded me of my grade school parish of St. Anthony’s in that sense – very wide. I probably should have taken a seat closer to the sanctuary. I felt like I was in the “cheap” seats at a stadium sitting towards the back.

Homily Reflection: Fr. briefly mentioned St. Apollinaris, who was martyred in the 1st century and who we celebrated (commemorated?) this day. Apparently he was a bishop ordained by St. Peter himself. He had the gift of healing, which caused a fair amount of jealousy among other priests and leaders at the time. But the people listened to him and started to believe in Jesus because of him.

The 1st reading was about the burning bush. Fr. mentioned God’s response of “I AM WHO AM” is almost un-translatable in to English. It means God is omnipresent, all powerful. He’s the one who cares about us and hopefully, we care about Him in the same way.

The Gospel was the popular “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” from Matthew. When we listen to God, this His burden DOES become easy, because it’s what we are supposed to do. Our part is to do our best by hearing His word and putting it into practice and to cooperate with God in order to do His will.

Holy Moments: The walk outside beforehand was really a great way to silence my mind beforehand. I highly suggest, even if there is nowhere to walk outside your church before mass begins, to at least drive without the radio on and try to quiet your mind before entering the worship space. It really helps to focus on what is being proclaimed as well as to enter in to exactly what it is you’re about to receive. (Spoiler alert: Jesus). 🙂


Saint Sebastian – Akron – Saturday July 22nd

 

Celebrant: Fr. Anthony Simone

Initial Thoughts: WOW. I would never have guessed from the outside what this church looks like on the inside. Spectacular! The stained glass, the side altars and statues, the mosaic on the wall of the sanctuary. It was actually a gloomy rainy day when I walked in so to walk in from the downpour to this, was really beautiful.

Homily Reflection: Fr. Anthony is a buddy of mine and I was determined to travel to Akron to hear him celebrate mass. He mentioned the band U2 and the song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” as a way to convey the message of the Gospel. Mary Magdalene was desperately waiting and searching for Jesus at the tomb and when she saw Him she wanted to stay with Him and cling to Him. But He says to stop clinging, because He has yet to ascend. And that’s how it is with us; we are on a journey SEEKING and searching for Jesus. Faith is a journey, NOT a goal.

The Song of Songs from the 1st reading expresses this desire –

On my bed I sought him  whom my heart loves – I sought him but did not find him…I will seek Him whom my heart loves.

If we seek Him at all, He will find us to remind us that He loves us first and to go deeper. Enjoy this moment but don’t stay. Enjoy this moment but keep following me. There’s always MORE!

Holy Moments: The entrance hymn was one of my favorites, “You Are Mine.” And the Responsorial Psalm was my favorite, #63. And hearing my good friend up there preaching = priceless.


Fox 8 Studios – TV Mass

Celebrant: Rev. Robert Marva, OFM Cap.,Pastor of St. Agnes Our Lady of Fatima

Okay so, this really doesn’t count as a DMP, but it’s a legit mass! My nephew was selected to be a server for the TV masses that will air on August 27th and September 3rd here in Cleveland. It was definitely unique to hear a mass and receive communion in a tv studio. IMG_7866

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Our Lady of Guadalupe – Macedonia – Monday July 24th

Celebrant: Rev. Kevin C. Shemuga; assisted by Deacon Dave Govern

Initial Thoughts: I think there’s always something special about a Marian parish. Maybe it’s because I now belong to one in my new home of Michigan, but upon walking up to the doors, I was just taken in by the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and even the glass doors! I myself knew nothing about this apparition until just 2 years ago when I took a Theology of the Body class. I had zero knowledge about the tilma or the story behind it. I felt a little silly for not knowing anything about it but I suppose, if you aren’t exposed to it, how can you know?

Homily Reflection: The Gospel was about the Pharisees asking Jesus for a sign. Jesus says “The Son of man will be in the heart of the earth…” Father reflected that Jesus entered into all of our hearts by embracing the cross. He entered deeply into the sin of our lives. We too must choose to embrace our cross. Then Fr. said something that I didn’t quite write down verbatim but it was in reference to St. Teresa of Calcutta and what she did very well:  “The most splendid skill of the human being is to enter into the compassion and hearts of others.” No one stands above the rest. We’re all supposed to be here for each other. That’s our call, to listen and to be merciful.

Holy Moments: The music. I am always surprised when a daily mass has music accompaniment. I didn’t write down the opening and closing hymns but I just remember the organist/music minister was on point. During the consecration, the “chimes” were manufactured by the organ but I didn’t even mind. It’s really nice just to hear the chimes during that part of the mass. Even if it’s “fake.”


Our Lady of Grace – Church and Shrine- Hinkley (Photos Only)

I pass by this Church and Shrine about 2 times a week and never thought to stop by until recently. I wasn’t able to attend a mass but did manage to walk the Stations of the Cross and pray at the Shrine.

 


Next post: A traveler’s blessing during mass from my friend Fr. Jim at St. Christopher’s in Rocky River for my final DMP in Cleveland; my first High Mass experience at St. Joseph Oratory (Detroit), and a tour of the 2nd oldest church in America of St. Anne’s (Detroit).

Daily Mass Project – How Great Thou Art!

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

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

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

Opening Hymn: Canticle of the Sun

Celebrant: Fr. Leonard Bacik, Pastor

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

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

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

Offertory Hymn: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.

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

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


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

 

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

Celebrant: Fr. Eric Orzech, Pastor

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Celebrant: Fr. Richard Bona (In Residence)

Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

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

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

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

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

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


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

Celebrant: Fr. Terry Grachanin

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

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

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

Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27

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

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

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

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


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

 

 

Daily Mass Project – Michiana Edition

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

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Stunning sanctuary.

Presider: Pastor Spencer Mielke

Gospel: John 6:51-58

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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From their website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. The presider was a visiting priest.

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

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

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


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

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Presider: Fr. John Simoneau

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

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

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

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

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


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

Daily Mass Project – Notre Dame Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

And one of the Responses:

God is my savior and my glory.

-I take refuge in Him.

And one of the Readings from 1 Peter 5:7

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

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

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

 

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Some closing thoughts on the Vita Institute experience:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Start at the 4:57 mark


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