I have been meaning to go to my grade school parish for some time now. I really wanted to go either for my Confirmation anniversary or my First Communion anniversary but it just wasn’t meant to be. But it doesn’t matter because I got there last week and I think we end up exactly where we are supposed to be for a reason. And that reason, I think, was for me to meet Fr. Peter Kovacina, the Parochial Vicar at St. A’s. There’s a really cool story (I think) that goes along with this. I’m pretty sure the place (in this case the chapel) has not changed in 32 years. Very nostalgic for me.
Celebrant: Fr. Peter Kovacina (We’re related! Read below!)
Initial Thoughts: A little history lesson for you – This church was built in 1985 and I am all too proud to tell you that my class of 1992 was the first class to make our First Communion in this church. Yeah, kind of a big deal. 😉 But I think when it was first built, from the outside, I remember hearing words like “Non-traditional” and “really modern.” All I knew, as a kid, was that it wasn’t the gym. That was our old church and this was the NEW church.
Homily Reflection: What God wants from us is a relationship, not just knowledge or data. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and have a deep relationship. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can grow in holiness. Come to know the Holy Spirit who lifts you up.
Holy Moments: I’m related to a priest!! Sort of. Fr. Peter is my second cousin’s brother-in law. Did you get all that? Yeah, whatever I’m claiming him as a relative. He and I had a lovely chat after the mass and little did I know but I actually saw his classmate Fr. John Mullee at St. Rita’s a few days later. (Read on!)
Extra Blessings: Just a few photos from my First Communion. I know there are more but probably tucked away in a box or album somewhere. The sister is Sr. Agnela who was also my 2nd Grade Teacher. LOVED her! (No idea who the chick in the back eating her necklace is) And then there’s the program from my 1st Communion where all my cousins and aunts and uncles came to celebrate.
No mass, just taking in the beauty of this church inside and outside.
Saint Rita – Solon – 8:45AM – Chapel -May 29- Memorial Day
Celebrant: Fr. John J. Mullee, Parochial Vicar
Initial Thoughts: I walked in to hear someone playing America the Beautiful on the piano in the chapel. Turns out it was Fr. John! It was so sweet to “set the tone” for the mass that way. In fact, all of the hymns were patriotic, of course. How can you not get a little choked up singing America the Beautiful at the end of a mass?
Homily Reflection: Father started out making the statement that over a million men and women have lost their lives in service to our country and how easily we take this for granted. He read a story from a book (I should have asked the name!) where a young teen girl didn’t really understand the point or the purpose of Memorial Day or Veterans Day. She disregarded it because she couldn’t understand the concept of living “unfree.” It wasn’t until she heard the National Anthem playing and seeing men and women tearing up and crying at the loss of their friends and relatives in wartime, that she truly understood the sacrifice they made.
Holy Moments: I went across to the Blessed Sacrament chapel after mass (You can see it in the picture above. It’s behind the sanctuary) to pray a rosary on this sunny day when we remember those who gave their lives to serve our country. And from this little chapel you can see in to the church which provided a nice “view.” Once again, I left the church forever grateful that I have the means and the time to continue on with this project.
Next week: A week of “Finals” – My priest and Spiritual Director celebrates his final mass at Holy Angels, my nephew has his final school mass before graduating 8th grade, and I finally get back to Communion of Saints in Solon as promised.
A couple weeks ago I attended my 5th Theology of the Body Course called TOB and Art: The Way of Beauty. It took place at a beautiful retreat center in Malvern Pennsylvania. One of messages of the entire week was simply to receive. Receive the Gift of Beauty from God.
Easier said than done for most of us. This requires us to be still. Be silent. And look. Look up! Look up from our phones, our work, our computers. And just look around and take in all of this creation that God has given us.
We don’t do this very often do we? We’re too busy being human DOERS instead of human BEINGS.
Our instructor for the week, Bill Donaghy, mentioned many of us suffer from “MMC.”
Martha, Martha Complex. We’re all trying to busy ourselves instead of being like Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus instead of being like Martha, who busied herself serving and being a hostess.
In light of wanting to be more like Mary and less like Martha, I tried to just receive more than reflect on the masses this week. Lots of pictures (although ONCE AGAIN, parish websites are in desperate need of photos of their art and design! I’m lookin at you St Mary’s in Hudson.)
So this week’s DMP’s are much shorter than in prior posts.
First up, I have to share the beauty of the Malvern Retreat House. Over 200 acres of statues, stations of the cross, mini shrines, a grotto, and a gorgeous chapel. I got as many pictures of the bronze Stations of the Cross sculptures that captivated me. Then there were Mosaic Stations of the Cross and the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. And on and on it went.
Initial Thoughts: Music! At a daily mass! Shocker! I mean like an actual pianist. I didn’t write down the names of the hymns we sang (my bad) but I do recall very good singing voices. And for a daily mass, it was really well attended. Probably close to 50-60 people. Maybe more.
Homily Reflection: Father discussed what was said the day before to a group of graduating high school seniors from the Youth Ministers around the area. One YM gave the advice of having the students imagine they are going on a mission. Because they are! As they go to college, it is their mission to find Christ.
Another YM said: “Abide in Me,” referring to Jesus’ words. A good reminder if we don’t abide in Christ, we can’t bear fruit. We have to remain rooted, as Paul and Barnabas did as they preached and healed people. They also were attacked and persecuted. But they were on a mission! And as long as they remained rooted in Christ, they could go on.
Father Patricks final point resonated with me the most. He said when we justify our actions, when we talk to ourselves, we no longer remain in Him. (I talk to myself a lot so maybe this was the Holy Spirit speaking directly to me). Father ended by repeating the opening prayer: “O God, restorer and lover of innocence, direct the hearts of your servants towards yourself, that those you have set free from the darkness of unbelief may never stray from the light of your truth.”Restore in us that desire to remain in Him. Return to innocence, confidence and trust in the Lord.
Holy Moments: I had the privilege of witnessing my friend Father Anthony Simone’s first mass as a priest at this church just 4 days later. That entire mass was my holiest moment!
Holy Moments and Initial Reactions: One of the most crowded chapel masses I’ve ever attended. I think it’s safe to say there were close to 80 people packed into this chapel. They also have a perpetual adoration chapel that I went into afterwards.
What I noticed the most is that it clearly lives up to its name as there were at least 3 sets of families with small children in attendance. And what looked to be like a brother and sister pair of altar servers. Complete silence before the mass started which was nice considering there was no tabernacle. It’s always good when people still respect the fact that it’s a chapel even if He isn’t present. Wish I could have gotten more pictures of the chapel with the lights on.
Celebrant: Fr. Thomas Winkel, Senior Parochial Vicar
Initial Thoughts: I walked into the adoration chapel first and see a married couple sitting there whom I have met through being an EWTN Media Missionary. Complete coincidence! We actually prayed together before they had to leave which was a very sweet holy moment as I mentioned I could use some prayers for an upcoming job interview.
Homily Reflection: FINALLY, after doing this DMP for almost 6 months, I attended a mass with a friend! Half the reason I wanted to do the DMP was to either meet up with a friend or relative at a mass or bring someone with me and so finally, my super Catholic friend Jim joined me for this one.
Father Winkel came out with a vestment on that had the initials/abbreviation “IHS.” As he processed in and approached the altar, I had the thought of, “How come I don’t know what IHS means? This seems like something I should know.” And wouldn’t you know it, he mentioned what it means in his homily. It’s actually an abbreviation of the name IHΣΟΥΣ which means “Jesus.” So it shouldn’t be a surprise but the REASON he gave for mentioning it and for wearing the vestment was because that was the feast day of St. Bernardine of Siena. St. Bernardine gave mission talks and preached devotion to the Name of Jesus every place he went. And apparently, Saint Bernardine designed the IHS emblem. (Unless I totally heard wrong but I thought that’s what he said).
Holy Moments: I was distracted a few times just by the enormous mosaic/art on the wall of the sanctuary. (Once again, the distracted by the beauty!) I didn’t get a picture but on the left and right sides of the sanctuary were the words of the Hail Mary inscribed into wooden beams. The mass ended with a novena to the Infant Jesus found at the back of the missal. (Pictured above).
Overall it’s clearly a very prayerful parish. But my favorite part was just walking around the outside and taking photos, especially of the statue of Jesus and Mary as well as the “For You I Died” crucifixion which is just outside the school.
If this week’s DMP had a message, it would be similar to that of the TOB retreat:
Stop, look up, and receive God’s masterpiece. There’s beauty in His creation all around us. We need to take the time to bask in the beauty.
Next Week: A mass for my Mom at St. Charles Borromeo, I visit my old grade school St Anthony of Padua in Parma, and Adoration at St. Anselm in Chesterland.
SJB has a perpetual adoration chapel where I spend a good amount of time. But what I didn’t realize is that they have a 7pm mass on Thursdays. I just happened to be in the area and thought I can mark it off the list!
Didn’t take any notes on the homily or anything since it was a last minute addition. But what I do recall was the music minister was very very good. And the words to not only the songs but the responses were displayed on screens above the sanctuary. Not something you typically see at a Catholic church. Very much enjoyed it.
Initial Thoughts: I came early to go to Confession which was how I was able to get a picture of an empty church.
I took the time to notice little things, like this sketch on the opposite wall.
I walked up to it later to get the picture of it and saw that they have relics of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Oh and these beautiful statues above the sanctuary…
Homily Reflection: Fr. Misenko mentioned a painting of the road to Emmaus and silly me, I thought I could just Google “Emmaus Painting” and all of a sudden figure out which one he was talking about. Yeah. Not possible. (Go ahead and Google it and you’ll see what I mean).
He went on to say that as Jesus was the teacher to these two disciples, and that walking and talking was a form of teaching called Socratic, started by Socrates. Sidenote: I learn so much better by listening while I’m walking or jogging on the treadmill. In fact I know there’s a school in Indiana that has their kids exercise while teaching them and how they performed so much better learning this way. So maybe there’s something to it!
There’s also a sense of peace and tranquility as the disciples were affirmed that they had seen the Lord. And finally they feel joy at recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread. For us, we learn from the teachings in the Liturgy and in the words of the homily. We feel joy as we see Christ in others and as we do His will. And finally, we find peace as we live out our faith.
Holy Moments: I noticed the altar servers seemed incredibly ON POINT. Not sure how else to describe it. But it was clear they took their job seriously for young boys. Beforehand, going to confession, was probably the holiest and most peaceful moment. For a 5pm Saturday mass, it was packed. I know several friends who attend here and really like it. I can see why!
Now someone tell me what those statues mean!
Saint Richard – North Olmsted – 7am – Monday May 1st
Initial Thoughts: SOOOO quiet. As soon as I walked in, I saw that every person that was there was reading. They all had their heads down and were reading (probably the daily readings or the Magnificat or something). No chit chat beforehand. But then again, it was 7am on a Monday.
I wish I had a better picture of the stained glass that goes around the church. Here is one from the stained glass designers. It’s dark but I guess that’s the best way to see the design:
Homily Reflection: To be a disciple of Jesus requires us as individuals to know what our faith is about. We can’t rely just on what we learned in school. We need to develop a sense of knowledge and deep reflection. We need to learn to live what we believe. How are we putting our faith into practice?
He preached a lot more but I couldn’t write fast enough. 🙂
Holy Moments: A nun sighting! In a habit! I should have probably gotten her name. I actually got sad when I realized I was getting elated at the sight of a religious sister in a habit. It made me a little nostalgic for my grade school days being taught by my FAVORITE teacher, Sr. Agnela. (And yes it was Agnela, not Angela)
Saint Agnes – Elyria – Tuesday May 2nd – 9am – Memorial of Saint Athanasius
Celebrant: Fr. Albert Veigas, Pastor
Initial Thoughts: I normally wouldn’t be available Tuesday mornings but a client canceled a session and so I was able to attend this church. It was a total unexpected blessing.
I walked in early to hear the end of a rosary being recited by about 5 women and 1 man. They were all on one side of the church and I took a seat on the opposite side. And while they were still reciting it, I decided to snap a picture.
As I waited for the mass to begin, only 1 other person (another woman) walked in for mass. So in all I think there was maybe 7 of us. ALL ladies.
And then here’s the kicker: The mass started when the priest walked up to the sanctuary from the pews. HE was the lone man among the women reciting the rosary! It was kinda crazy because I wasn’t expecting it and all of sudden he was in our midst.
And then he started talking and it’s clear from his accent that he’s an Indian priest, which I must say I didn’t think we had any in this diocese. Very cool!
Homily Reflection: Father mentioned Stephen from the First Reading. How he was killed in front of Saul, who later became St. Paul. I’m not quite sure WHEN I figured out that Saul from the Stephen stoning was Paul, but I wish more people DID realize this. That God can save even the most fallen away sinners. Father also mentioned Saint Athanasius and his defense of the faith. Saint A is responsible for why we say the Nicene Creed. And how we believe that Jesus and God are the ONE. He used the example of the sun and light beams from it. How can you say that the light that comes from the Sun is separate from the Sun? It’s one and the same. They cannot be separated, just as Jesus and God can never be separated.
I gotta admit here, I saved the best for last:
Communion of Saints – Cleveland Heights – Wednesday May 3rd – Feasts of Saints Philip and James
This is the parish where a young priest friend of mine, Fr. Pat Schultz, is one of the Parochial Vicars. Him and the other PV, Fr. Matthew Byrne, are such energetic and fun priests. They do this video series with their school kids called “Hey Father, Can you explain why…?” where the kids pose all kinds of questions about the Church and our faith and they answer them.
So the picture above is the outside (there’s a school and a church, but couldn’t manage to get/find a good picture of the ENTIRE exterior). Doesn’t matter, because when you walk in:
Initial Thought: Whoah.
But wait…it gets better:
Continuing Initial Thoughts: The whole place is just beautiful and magnificent! Columns and stained glass and that ceiling!! I got to the 5:30pm mass about 20 minutes early and I’m so glad I did because I took the time to take in all this beauty.
This is the first church I’ve been to where instead of a crucifix, they have a painting of a crucified Jesus. My favorite part.
And as of 5:28pm I was the SOLE person there. I thought maybe THIS was the day – the day I get a mass ALL to myself, ha!
But slowly and surely, other people walked in.
Celebrant: Fr. John McNulty, Pastor
Since there were so few of us, I didn’t take notes from the homily. Since it was so intimate, I didn’t want to be distracted by frantically writing down his points. He also came down from the ambo and started talking to us in the aisle and I can’t quite bring myself to take notes when the priest is directly in front of me. 🙂
What I DO remember was that he emphasized that Philip and James were ordinary people, just like us. They sought the lord, and they found Him. May we do the same.
Holy Moments: I got what I will call a “double host.” I’m pretty sure it was the biggest host I’ve ever received. I thought, “Maybe God knows I need a large amount of healing so he caused the priest to give me the two hosts attached to each other.” 🙂
Afterwards, there was Adoration for a half hour which was an unexpected treat. You know how I adore adoration (Pun intended, always).
I had just enough time to pray Evening Prayer and highlighted this Psalm Prayer:
“Grant that those who labor for you may trust not in their ownwork but in your help.” (Emphasize is mine. Seemed to be an answer to a prayer for me at the time.)
COS is just down the street from Nighttown which is where Theology on Tap Heights holds their monthly events. This was the main reason I attended mass since it was the only evening service in the area.
The speaker at this months event was Rachel Benda, the foundress of Bethesda House, a post-abortive healing ministry. She gave one of the most moving and heartfelt talks I’ve heard at a TOT event.
For more information about the Bethesda House, and if you know someone who is post-abortive, be sure to visit their website.
Heading to Elverson Pennsylvania this week to take my 5th course as part of my ongoing Theology of the Body certification. It’s called TOB and Art: The Way of Beauty.
You know what they say: “Beauty will save the world!”
So no DMP’s until the week of May 15th. Although, we will have mass everyday of the course, so perhaps a little DMP roadtrip edition is in the works.
Ever walk into a church and just STARE? That’s what you do when you walk into Resurrection. First of all, it’s circular, which could possibly drive you nuts if you’re not used to it. “Where do I look? Where do I sit so I can see everyone? Will my back be to the ambo? This is awkward!” But once you get past that, you realize it’s SO gorgeous and there’s so much to look at. In fact, there’s so much to look at that I’m refraining from blogging about this one until I go to an actual mass. This was just a communion service (and a very good one) but it is WAY too beautiful to NOT attend a Sunday service. I plan on going back next month. In the meantime, check out their website for stunning photos and a virtual tour.
St. Matthias – Broadview Heights – Sunday – April 23rd – 9am – 2nd Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday
Initial Reaction: I feel like I may get chastised for this but I have just a small criticism: Sometimes I feel like reverence goes out the window when the church is set up like a hall or if it’s just a smaller church or whatnot. It just seemed like I walked in to a bingo hall at first. The music minister/organist was announcing the songs and why he chose them and what to expect and people were still chatting. And pretty loudly. I thought that was a little disrespectful, but perhaps they are just used to that and it’s not a big deal to them. Clearly, this is a close-knit community where everyone knows each other. But I guess I’m a little “old-school” and I would prefer if people would chat in the gathering space and silence themselves once they actually walk into the worship space.
Homily Reflection: The homily was given by Deacon Tom Litwinowicz; He said he felt he HAD to give the homily today of all days because the Gospel was about his namesake. Personally, I love the doubting Thomas gospel because it seems like the most realistic reaction. If it was today, I’m sure there would be people who would say, “Unless their video of this Jesus walking around, I won’t believe.” The Deacon mentioned how he’s analytical and likes to dig deep to ask questions to find out if something is true or not. He looks for the proof until he finds it. He talked about how Thomas didn’t quite “get it.” Thomas needed physical proof, he wouldn’t take the apostles’ word for it. He needed to SEE Jesus in the flesh. Now, after Jesus appears to him and has him touch his wounds, Thomas finally believes and grasps the concept beyond the physical and into the DIVINE. And what about us? Do we accept Jesus without seeing?
Holy Moments: The priest said that in lieu of reciting the Creed, he was going to do what he did on Easter and have us renew our baptismal promises. So he recited the questions having us answer in the affirmative. I liked that!
After the proclamation of the Gospel, no one sat down right away. We waited for the Deacon to place the book in front of the ambo. I also noticed the lectors stood at the ambo for a beat or two before sitting down.
All the music was well done! At some points during the songs, some people had their arms raised. So maybe a little charismatic movement has made its way in. Love it!
During the Eucharistic prayer/consecration, the woman in front of me knelt (no kneelers) so I knelt too. As far as I could tell, we were the only ones. I don’t kneel to show how super pious I am. I kneel because I feel it’s the right thing to do. Plus it’s not comfortable. And I don’t think it should be. It’s a small sacrifice to make to remind us…well, it reminds ME, of His suffering. Maybe I shouldn’t have because this church didn’t have kneelers but it was carpeted. So it’s not like it was kneeling on nails.
I took a seat in the last row but they have the communion procession start at the BACK. The last shall be first and the first shall be last? I was first. That’s almost as good as getting a piece of the big host! 😉
This wasn’t a mass, it was a Divine Mercy Chaplet service. So this includes Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reading, a brief homily and then we pray the chaplet by chanting/singing. I LOVE to pray the chaplet this way. (Click here to hear what I mean)
I attended this last year and was so moved by the Cantor and her singing that I had to come back again. It’s one thing to just pray the chaplet alone, but it’s quite another to sing it in a group. Just beautiful as always.
I first learned the chaplet on the night my mom passed away. We recited it at her bedside as she lay there taking her final breaths, so this has always had a special meaning for me. Speaking of which…this brings me to the last parish, my parents own parish of:
Initial Reactions: I have good memories of attending church with Mom here, who would often say to me when we went together, “I like going to Assumption because I feel close to MY Mom.” Well, the feeling is mutual. I even sit in her usual spot whenever I go.
And since I just wrote about divine mercy, it seems only fitting to say that Fr. Justin was the one to teach me the chaplet. The first time I heard it was when he came to the house he prayed the chaplet over her. I hadn’t really heard of it before this.
Homily Reflection: Nicodemus is “on the fence.” He approaches Jesus in the night because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s a disciple. Nicodemus wants it “both ways.” But Jesus says we must be born again. And Nicodemus doesn’t understand what this means. Jesus means for us to literally change our lives. To live differently. And what about us? We may miss God’s voice telling us to turn around and change our lives because we are too busy living on the fence, listening to the world instead of focusing on heaven. What does the Resurrection mean? It means Transformation. How does the Resurrection change our lives? Am I avoiding change? Am I going where God wants me to go? Imagine the wondrous things that can happen when we allow the Risen Lord in.
Holy Moments: I really wanted to share a picture of their stained glass window of Mary all lit up at night. I ASSUMED (see what I did there?) that they would have one on their website but no. Short of going there at night and taking a photo myself (which I will probably do because I’m THAT crazy person), I found this sub-par blurry photo. It doesn’t do it justice but it’ll do for now.
UPDATE: I did in fact go to the parish at night, in the rain, and took this picture after the rain ceased. And I have emailed it to the parish permitting them to use it if they wish.
For those keeping track, this brings me to 41 parishes attended this year so far. Considering there are 185 parishes in the diocese, the dream of attending all of them before January 1st next year is fading. Like with all goals, you gotta know when to admit you may have been a bit over zealous and scale it back. So I’m re-setting the goal to attend 100 by January. A nice even number and completely doable.
Again, I feel strange for even mentioning it but for those that wish to donate to the Daily Mass Project, please send a donation to Father Michael Denk of The Prodigal Father instead. Include somewhere in the notes section that you’re donating because of this or mention the blog or my name (Michelle) and he’ll see that it gets noted. I would always welcome a “Donation” of your prayers more than anything else.
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
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.
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.
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*
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.
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!
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.
St. Noel – Friday February 10th – 12:00pm – Chapel Mass
I just had to take pictures of this place. Such a unique and interesting design!
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.
St. Francis of Assisi – Saturday February 11th – 8:15AM
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!
St. Ambrose – Brunswick – Friday January 20th – 5:30pm Chapel Mass
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
Celebrant: Not 100% sure but think it was the Pastor, Fr. C. Thomas Cleaton
GospelMK 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
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!
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.
St. Francis Xavier – Medina – Saturday January 14th 8:30am Mass
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!
St. Martin of Tours – Valley City – Sunday January 15th – 10:30am mass
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.
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.
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.
Parish #4 – St. Joseph – Stronsgville – Monday January 9th – Baptism of the Lord – 6:30pm mass – Chapel
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
Reflections will be posted on Wednesdays and will include the previous week’s masses attended.
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.
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!