Fearlessly Faithful

I had the awesome privilege to hang with some 400 Catholic women a couple of weeks ago in Cleveland for their First Annual Cleveland Catholic Women’s Conference called Fearlessly Faithful.

I knew several women who were part of the team that brought this conference together and being from the CLE, I was excited to support it, even before I knew who was going to be there, where it would be held, and who would be speaking.

It was well worth the 2 hour and 45 minute drive for some sisterhood time, a time of rest and to be fed spiritually, and to hear from some amazing speakers.

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The day was emceed by Brooke Taylor, who has an awesome podcast called Good Things Radio. She’s a speaker, writer, radio personality and super Mom. I love listening to her show as she interviews guests from all different states of life – religious, ordained, single, married, husbands and wives, authors, etc. She’s been hosting pilgrimages to the Holy Land for a couple of years and hosts a women’s retreat called Arise, which I am very stoked to attend for the first time next year in June. (Ladies, if you’re interested, I think there are still some spots left —> Click here to read more about it and purchase a ticket).

The first speaker of the day was Mary Bielski whom I did NOT manage to get a photo opp with nor did I get a chance to speak with her to meet her, but, alas, it’s a #FirstWorldCatholicProblem.  I had heard her name from some of my Theology of the Body friends years ago as a popular national speaker and youth minister. So I was really excited to hear what she had to say.  Her talk was called Fearlessly His and it was all about our identity. It wasn’t your typical, “Hey ladies, you’re a beloved daughter of God, dontchaknow?” She went deep, she got personal, she got raw and it was really good to dive deep into these waters.

She also talked about the Model of Identity, which is SO needed today in our culture which is clearly having an identity crisis. This 3 step model looks like this:

  1. Relationship – We come to know each other in an interpersonal relationship. We don’t look inward to “find ourselves,” we look up.
  2. Identity – Jesus received His identity from the Father. We received our identity from Him.
  3. Mission – He was sent to live it out right after His Father identified Him as His beloved Son. We are sent on mission as well.

Mary pointed out that today, in our culture, the model is reversed:

  1. We move/take action
  2. We declare our identity
  3. We try to form relationships

Another way to say it is: “I do, I have, I am.”

It’s very much an American thing to identity someone by what they do for a living instead of who they ARE; a beloved child of God.

The Good news is that we have been rescued, we’ve been adopted and we have the power that comes from the Father to rebuke the lies that the world feeds us.

She also said something that was very similar to something I had recently read in my Women’s bible study and that was this:

Jesus didn’t come to make bad women better. He came to make dead women fully alive again. 

I think I want to put that on a t-shirt.

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The second speaker was Fr. Pat Schultz and there’s no need to even try to summarize his awesome talk entitled Fearlessly Forgiven and Restored because he recorded it (YAY for technology!) and you can listen to it here:

Fr. Pat’s talk was similar to Mary’s in that he really wanted us to know that God is saying to us: “You are a beauty to be revealed.” We were encouraged to expose and silence the voice of the accuser, to unleash love no matter our state in life, to nurture life and live out our feminine genius whenever possible. Beautiful and inspiring! I would encourage you to explore Fr. Pat’s Vimeo channel to hear his homilies and other talks as well. They are stellar.

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The final talk was from Laura Mary Phelps. I did miss the first part of her talk, entitled Fearlessly Sent, but I did manage to catch the bulk of it. She had encouraged us to check out one of my FAVORITE books called “Into Your Hands Father”  by Wilfred Stinnison. It’s all about doing the will of the Father and how to know IF you are doing that, because, let’s face it, it’s difficult to discern if we’re really doing what God the Father wills for us or following our own selfish desires. I have half of that book highlighted – it’s THAT good.

I also loved her point about suffering and how it’s not written in the Bible anywhere, “This too shall pass.” That’s something we say to one another in difficult and challenging times of trial and suffering, but it’s not really…true.

An actual scripture to cling to is 2 Corinthians 4:17 which says:

“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” which Laura “translated” into: “The suffering you’re in now is necessary to get you to the place of awesomeness that’s coming.” 

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In between speakers was what I considered probably the BEST part of any Catholic Conference and that’s Adoration and Confession as well as Praise and Worship.  I think 17 priests from around the diocese made themselves available to over 400 women who wanted confession, while we were divided into groups to sit in front of Jesus while the lovely and talented Taylor Tripodi blessed us with her beautiful voice and musical gifts.

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To wrap up, I wanted to share this I Declare card that I received at a Holy Hour for women at my parish over a year ago and I’ve kept it in my Bible ever since and refer to it daily. It’s from the women’s Bible study Walking With Purpose and the image is from the chapel in Magdala of the hemorrhaging woman called “Encounter.”

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Those declaration statements are so powerful when we not only pray with them, but we need to actually believe them and take hold of them in order to live these truths out in our daily lives. Because speaking from experience, we have a lot of women (and men) believing the lies. The lies of “You’re not good enough, you’re afraid, you’re weak, you’re not pretty enough, you’ll never belong…” etc.

These declarative statements are the antidote to those lies. I would encourage any woman struggling with her identity to pray with these often.

When we trust in God’s providence, when we believe that God is a good Father, and when we are receptive to what the Holy Spirit is telling us about the truth of our identity in Christ, that’s when we can live truly Fearlessly Faithful.

Until next time…be blessed!

Daily Mass Project Wrap Up 2017

The final tally is 82 parishes/masses that I made it to in 2017. 58 of those were in the Diocese of Cleveland, the rest were in Detroit and then a few in cities that I was visiting including East Lansing, Notre Dame, Elkhart, Sanibel, D.C., and Toledo. Of course, I went to daily mass more than 82 times in the year, but only blogged about 82 of the experiences.

In talking to some friends just yesterday about the DMP, they remarked that it was amazing that I could remember details about each one. They asked how was I able to retain all of that information. I responded that it helped that I wrote it all down. But the best memories I didn’t really need to write down, but I’m glad I did! From meeting Henry the hugger at St. Jude’s in Elyria, to crashing a wedding with my friend Kristen at Sweetest Heart of Mary, to finding out that I heard one of the last homilies given by Fr. Dunphy at St. Martin of Tours, and witnessing my friend’s Fr. Jim and Fr. Anthony say their first masses as newly ordained priests, this was quite the year and quite the project. And it’s one I’m happy to continue for as long as I’m able.

I took it upon myself to make a little Wrap-Up/Best of the Best post. I’m sure those who have visited other parishes will have a different opinion on my “awards” and to those people I will say, “My blog, my rules.”  🙂

Top 3 Holy Moments:

1. Receiving a traveler’s blessing from Fr. Jim Cosgrove – St. Christopher – Rocky River

On the day I was leaving to move to Plymouth, my dear friend Fr. Jim gave me a blessing in front of the whole congregation.

2. Two 7th grade girls singing Pie Jesu –  Sacred Heart – Wadsworth –

Thankfully I was able to record a good portion of it. I get the goosebumps listening to it. These young girls did so well. I would bet they will grow up to be gifted cantors.

3. St Hugo of the Hills – Bloomfield Hills, MI– Witnessing the Renewal of Vows of Dolores and Raymond, two people I’ve never met. But what a beautiful witness of 50 years of marriage!

Best Singing/Hymn:

St. Bartholomew – Middleburgh Heights – “How Great Thou Art”

All 4 stanzas and every single one sung with the same enthusiasm as the first. And this is coming from not only the choir, but the congregation. No one left early. My all-time favorite singing moment.

Best “Flatware:”

Holy Martyrs – Medina

I don’t know if anyone ever notices the chalice and the ciborium but I’m telling you, if you would have seen these at Holy Martyrs, you’d be impressed. You’ll have to take my word for it.

The Breathtaker:

Sweetest Heart Of Mary – Detroit

Best Homily Reflection:

St. Martin of Tours – Fr. Thomas Dunphy

Best Exterior Design:

Cathedral of the Holy Rosary – Toledo

Best Interior Design:

Category – Chapel – Holy Angels – Bainbridge

Category – Worship Space – St. Michael – Independence

Category – Stations of the Cross (Indoors) – St. Martin of Tours – Valley City

Category – Stations of the Cross (Outdoors) – Malvern Retreat Center – Malvern, PA

Category – Baptismal Font – Resurrection – Solon

Category – Best Use of Stained Glass – Assumption – Broadview Heights

Category – Best Stained Glass DesignSt. Sebastian – Akron

Category – Best Use of a Small Space – St. Patrick- (Bridge Ave) – Cleveland

Category – Best Sanctuary – Communion of Saints – University Heights

Category – Most “Awe”-some Crucifix – St. Albert the Great – North Royalton

Best Small Town Feel:

St Thomas the Apostle – Sheffield Lake

The Church I Wish Was In My Backyard:

St. Martin of Tours – Valley City

The Once-In-A-Lifetime Mass:

Ford Field – Beatification of Solanus Casey

The One Where I Felt Closest to God:

All.


There you have it! DMP 2017 wrapped up and now we are on to 2018.

I’ll be attending the churches of all churches as I travel to the Holy Land for EASTER. It’s going to be life-changing, no doubt.

As for the future, I’m so excited to continue on this little project of mine here in Detroit. But CLE will always be my home. I do plan on making frequent visits back so I can check a few more parishes off the list.

Happy 2018!

Daily Mass Project: MisADVENTures

Saint Columbkille – Parma, OH – Saturday 12/9

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I don’t think it would be fair to do a tried and true Daily Mass Project blog post on dear St. Columbkille because I took zero notes on the day I attended. I have fond memories of this parish growing up. I seem to remember attending an evening mass or two here or maybe we went when our parents just wanted to go someplace different than our home parish? I just know I would stare at that back wall behind the hanging crucifix. I couldn’t find a picture of the interior but you can tell from the outside photo here…

colum2…that the roof slopes. I would just look up and be mesmerized by it. It was unlike anything I had seen.

I also remember thinking it was a little strange to see the Gospel writers names unevenly placed on the wall. And “Matt??” Really?

Other than that, the last time I went to mass here was when I graduated high school in 1996. And it has stayed pretty much the exact same. 🙂

One nagging question remains:  Just who the heck was St. Columbkille anyways? What kind of a name is that?

His name, Google tells me, was Columb. He was born in Ireland. And he was a gifted poet and musician. After he became a monk…

…he had founded no less than 27 Irish monasteries, including those at Derry, Durrow, and Kells, as well as some 40 churches. His work for the Church gained him the addition of “kille” to his name. Columb means “dove” in Gaelic and kille is “church”, so he came to be known as the “church’s dove.”

The more you know…


Saint Michael – Independence, OH- 4th Sunday of Advent

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It’s probably not fair to attend churches during Advent because I really want to crown this one as my favorite in Cleveland that I went to this year. It’s just the perfect size: Not too small, not too big, just the right amount of decor, the stained glass is in these muted colors and not super “rainbow bright,” (just checking to see if my buddy Dennis is reading this). The stations of the cross were simple but really beautiful…IMG-8689

The only thing I noticed is that for a church that is named St. Michael, I didn’t see any actual statue of St. Michael. Unless I am missing it?? I did see this icon:

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But I’m partial to statues. 🙂  He may have been in a Stained Glass window that I didn’t see. I was particularly in love with this one:

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Celebrant: Fr. Peter Colletti

Initial Thoughts: Besides what I just said, I was greeted by this super friendly priest who as he walked up and down the aisle before mass; Overall it has a family and warm vibe from the get-go. I suppose it could have just been because of the occasion but I got the sense it’s always like this.

The bulletin was the hymnal and the missal! Innovative! And no worries about people scrambling to find the page numbers for songs. IMG-8696

And the tabernacle…Assuming those angels are always there? Beautiful! IMG-8698

Homily Reflection: Despite having almost no voice to speak (not a good thing for a pastor to have the flu/get sick for Christmas!) Fr. gave a great summary of the first reading from 2 Samuel about King David and building a house for God. I gotta say, I probably would have zoned out but this is the number one reason people should read the readings a week ahead of time before going to mass: I had listened to Bishop Robert Barron’s podcast for this Sunday and heard his explanation of this 1st reading. It really helps because he puts it in plain language. If I hadn’t, I think I would have tuned out this first part of his homily because let’s be honest – We hear the first reading and if we have no clue what it means, we will lose interest within seconds (at least I do, especially if I haven’t read them ahead of time).

Long story short: David tells God “I’ll build you a house” and God is like, “You’re gonna make a house for ME? No. I’m going to make a house for YOU!” No one outdoes God on His gifts to us.

Fr. Peter then went on to talk about the Annunciation (the Gospel) and how he used to picture Mary “bowing” to the Angel Gabriel. But as he came to understand the Annunciation, he now believes Gabriel bowed to Our Lady.  He brought God’s proposal to her. “Can you imagine God proposing to a human being,” he asked.

He continued:

“The angel is here today and through Mary’s intercession we have a few more hours until Christmas. God bows before you and me, mere sinners, and asks “What about you?” Will you let religion go beyond something mechanical and allow yourself to be taken by God? He offers Himself to us as His very food. He waits…and Mary prays.”

And he concluded his homily leading us in a Hail Mary.


Saint Kenneth – Plymouth, MI – Tuesday – 12/26 – Feast of St. Stephen

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Celebrant: Fr. Tom Belczak

Initial Thoughts: A whole church to myself? Don’t mind if I do!

I arrived 45 minutes before mass started. Got some of these great pictures and proceeded to sit down and have some alone time with Jesus.

After awhile, a woman slid down the pew behind me and asked if I was new to the parish. “Nope, I just go to OLGC and live down the street and thought I’d give St. Kenneth a little visit today.”

She informed me that they say the rosary before mass and it looks like it’s just her and I so would I mind praying with her? Came to find out her name is Betty and she was SUCH a God-send. Of course, everyone has a story. I loved meeting her and talking to her after mass. Turns out she attends OLGC a couple times a week so she and I will see each other again.

We began the mass with the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help; again, something I had never heard of until I moved here and started at OLGC. Parishioners at OLGC do this every Saturday morning after mass. Fr. Tom mentioned this in the homily…

Homily Reflection: Jesus isn’t just a baby; there will be suffering and trials and separations of families over the Lord.

The first reading is like a teaser/cliffhanger – Who is this Saul person and why should we care? Well, obviously, we’ll find out later that Saul is Paul after he has his conversion. We know that St. Stephen prayed for his persecutors, and that means Saul was being prayed for in that very moment.

How do we put Jesus’s journey of faith into our lives so that when obstacles come, can we still have the peace of Christ in our lives?

Referring to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Fr. Tom remarked that this was a popular Tuesday night devotional for him growing up. He said it was the only thing that was in English, so they went to it all the time!

But the best explanation of why we would pray this devotional, he said: “You know how when you’re little and you want to do something, you ask Dad and He says no? So what do you? You go and ask Mom for help.”

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!


I may do a 2017 Daily Mass Project “Wrap-Up” post so stay tuned!

 

Screaming Babies, Losing Breviaries and Bishop Wisdom – Daily Mass Project

Assumption Grotto Church – Detroit, MI- December 8th -Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Tridentine Mass

Founded in 1832, this is the second oldest parish in the city of Detroit.

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Celebrant: Fr. Perrone

Initial Thoughts: Ahhhh I love a good Latin mass. I was recently gifted a chapel veil so I was happy to have an excuse to wear it. I didn’t get any close up shots of the sanctuary or the stained glass but I remember just staring at those two windows up in the front and thinking what vivid colors! They reminded me (and yes this is a silly memory) but they reminded me of Rainbow Brite. And that reminded me of my childhood. And THAT reminded me of being a child at mass. Just made me feel nostalgic for the past. When the mass is being said in a language you don’t understand, there’s probably no better time than to have some of these “holy moments.”

I never tire of the reverence at these masses. It’s such an experience. I wish I could adequately put into words how these masses make me feel but I suppose that’s not really the point. It’s an experience of God that really can’t be articulated.

Homily Reflection: The only part in English. And it was stellar. I don’t know if you can call it a homily as much as you can call it a Exegesis. I was furiously taking notes but re-reading them now, they don’t make sense so I’m not even going to try.

So how about you just take a look at the pictures of their Marian shrine? 🙂

Apparently this is the oldest outdoor Marian shrine in Michigan:


St. Ambrose – Brunswick, OH – 12pm – 2nd Sunday of Advent

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Celebrant: Fr. Adam Zajac

Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

I realize I’ve already blogged about this parish already but this was my first SUNDAY mass.

Quick Notes: Lots of singing at different parts that I wasn’t used to. Of course, I didn’t take any notes on that so now I can’t remember. But I believe they sang “Alleluia” AFTER the Gospel as well as before. And they sang “Lord hear our Prayers” (unless I’m getting my churches confused) after each petition.

Holy Moments: A man and a woman sat down directly behind me in the pews with their two granddaughters. They warned me ahead of time saying: “This is the first time we’ve brought the little ones to mass. So we’ll see how it goes!” The girls were adorable. Probably around ages 18 months and maybe 3. I categorize it as a “Holy Moment” because somehow, God gave me the patience to endure a total meltdown by the smaller girl right at the Eucharistic prayer. I felt worse for the grandparents who did a terrific job but couldn’t possibly have foreseen this little one tripping and falling in the pews (probably got stuck between the kneeler and the pew like so many kids do). They were troopers though. Gratefully, she calmed down by the time communion came around. I always think of how, although we would all admit that we can easily become distracted by “all those crying babies” at Church, the real kudos goes to the parents and grandparents who bring them. I will never give an eyeroll or a nasty look to a parent trying to wrangle their kids at mass. We should be happy and overjoyed to see the pews filled with babies and kids! I’ve grown to enjoy it. (The babies and the kids, not the crying or screaming part). 😉

Homily Reflection:  I wrote down a couple of lines that stuck out to me although you can read his entire homily here.

God is coming into our lives in a new and radical way, in a real and meaningful sense. We must realize that we pushed him out in a real and meaningful sense. Now is the time to acknowledge that we need him. We were made for more than the brokenness of this world.  

Amen Father!


St. Basil – Brecksville, OHClaimed by Love Young Adult Conference – Saturday Morning Mass with Aux. Bishop Roger Gries; Lunch and Adoration with Bishop Nelson Perez – December 17th

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I was honored to be asked to be a part of this Young Adult Conference called Claimed By Love. It was the first YA conference in many years in the Cleveland Diocese and over 130 YA’s ages 18-35 attended. I was asked to be on the vocations panel as a Breakout session. I represented the Single vocation although I did answer questions on my discernment journey of Consecrated Virginity since it’s not well-known vocation. There was also a brother, a seminarian, a married couple and two religious sisters. A great opportunity to hear other vocation stories as well as answer questions from the “kids,” as I call the young adults.

Before all of this, Bishop Gries led us in the Saturday morning mass. Sadly, I didn’t take any notes on his beautiful homily which was a shame because he really had some great reflections on the gospel. (Bad job outta me!)

Fortunately, I did have some great things to write down from a mini-reflection from newly installed Bishop Nelson Perez later on that afternoon during some time of adoration:

He reflected on the 2nd reading for that Sunday which was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, which says:

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

Bishop Perez said we could spend an entire day just praying with that reading. He mentioned that no matter what our vocation is, we need to continue to listen to the Lord. To let God do the talking as we listen and wonder “What is God asking of me?” Because it’s not what WE want. It’s what God wants for us. As a baby, one of the first things we learn to say is “I want.” We’re always reaching as babies for what it is we want. But we have to grow out of that as adults. We can’t always say “I want, I want.” Because it might not be what God wants for us.

There was a lot grace poured out at this conference, including a really emotional and powerful testimony from the keynote speaker, Ron Nowak. I would say their first conference was a success and I know they intend to do more in the future. Our Young Adult community in the Catholic Church is very much overlooked, I feel, so it was really great to see them appreciated and to see an event *just* for them.


St Basil the Great – 7:30am – Gaudete Sunday

Nope, that’s not a typo. I went to the same church the following day for the Sunday mass. Honestly I went because I thought (and still believe) I left my breviary there in the pews the day before. Alas, no one turned it in. It was really bothering me because all 4 volumes were gifted to me by my good friend Ivi a year ago and they’ve made such a difference in my prayer life. I like PAPER and BOOKS. Praying with the iBreviary App is just not the same. It’s okay though because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all my “precious books” are gifts. Everything is on loan. None of it is mine. So, whoever has my Breviary, I pray you find it to be fruitful for you. (I still have the other 3 volumes, so this isn’t the end of the world). But it’s the principle of the thing. I hate losing anything, especially when it was gifted to me.  Moving on…

Celebrant: Fr. Walt Jenne, Pastor

Initial Thoughts:  “Why am I here so early?” I don’t think I’ve ever attended a Sunday mass earlier than 9am in my life.

Two things that were of interest to me: A monthly prayer from Fr. Walt is prayed before each mass. This one was for Family Healing. The rest are listed here:

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And the names of those in the military and those who are sick are on a banner!

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I noticed they weren’t listed in the bulletin which is my personal preference because you can easily pick it up and read the names to pray for them. But, it is pretty special to see a name on the banner in the worship space, especially if it’s someone you know personally.

Before mass we were asked to stand up and greet one another. My pew neighbor was a man by the name of Scott. Super friendly and hospitable. In fact, Fr. Walt noted that many of the parishioners who join St. Basil’s say it’s because they are drawn to the hospitality of its members.

A little bit on that: Yes yes yes! The past two parishes that I’ve joined since my “reversion” I joined in part because they made me feel welcomed and appreciated from the moment I stepped into the door. I can’t tell you how key it is to have greeters at the Church doors. It sounds so minor (we don’t go to Church to be greeted) but it’s just like a company. I’ve had a ton of receptionist jobs where I was told over and over “You are the face of the company. The way you answer the phone or greet the client/customer when they walk in the door sets the tone for the rest of their experience.” When compared to a Church where no one looks you in the eye and there’s zero “warmth,” not even an acknowledgement of your presence, I’m joining the one that acknowledges my dignity as a child of God.

Homily Reflection: “God uses the anointed. God chooses to work thru those who are anointed (we are all baptized, therefore we are anointed) to accomplish great things. But this is totally dependent on what we DO with what we are given.”  Fr. proceeded to tell the story of the barber who cuts the hair of autistic and disable children. His story went viral when the mother of an autistic boy took a photo of him on the floor with her son.

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The barber, Franz Jacob was quoted as saying,  “I’m taking great pride doing this. It’s really an honor.”  Fr Walt said that this is a story of what what we do with the gifts we are given to be instruments of God. 


I have officially lost count of the parishes I made it to in Cleveland. I will attempt to get a final count after next weekend when my final one for the year (in CLE) will be the Spanish mass at Sacred Heart in Lorain. My buddy Fr. Mike is the celebrant and having yet to attend a mass in a language other than English (or Latin) I thought why not!

And finally, a shout out to my buddy Brian in Brecksville who has hit the 100 Churches mark. Well done my friend! Only 85 more to go to hit all of them in Cleveland!

 

 

 

Time Well Spent on Priesthood Sunday

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I just spent a very short weekend at home in CLE to celebrate my Dad’s 75th birthday. This morning, I found myself at our neighborhood parish of St. Albert the Great for 9:30am mass which was not in my “plan” at all. I actually thought I’d attend 5pm mass here in Plymouth but something, or someone, nudged me to go to Albert’s this morning.

I do tend to feel better when I go to a morning mass on Sundays. I don’t know what it is about evening masses that make me feel all “off.” I think it’s like how I felt growing up: If I was up late on a Sunday night, it felt weird because I knew I had to be up early for school the next day. And no one wants to think about school on a Sunday night. That’s the worst. feeling. ever. (Did I get all my homework done? What if there’s a Math test tomorrow? Please let there be a snow day!)

So as I walked in, I actually took a bulletin and sat down, which I don’t normally do. I find reading the bulletin distracting for me but something compelled me to reach for one.

As I knelt in the pew, I actually started to pray a slightly different prayer than I normally do. I felt compelled to write it down afterwards:

“Help me to remember that everyone is here is loved by You. Help me remember they are created in your image and likeness and that they are created to love and to be loved. I need to remember that and I pray that they know it too.”

The reason I am sharing is because this is very closely related to the Gospel this Sunday, which was from Matthew when Jesus answers the Pharisees’ question about which commandment is the greatest: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And then Jesus says the 2nd is like this one: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

So that was my first sign that perhaps I had actually been “quiet” enough this weekend to allow the Holy Spirit to help me remember the message of this Sunday’s readings before I even had time to open the missal, hence the prayer.

I decided to open the bulletin to read it, which again, something I rarely do, when I saw the note from the pastor that a seminarian friend of mine named Joe was invited to be the guest speaker before mass. He was going to talk because this was Priesthood Sunday and he was going to share his story of his vocation.

He spoke before mass started (Excellent idea, by the way, most people are attentive before mass begins than after it’s over, in my opinion). He gave such a wonderful testimonial of his journey to the seminary. It was also very timely for me as Joe emphasized to everyone there, not just young men, but for everyone to discern their vocation. So this isn’t just for religious or priests, it’s also for marriage.

“We need more vocations in our Church,” he said. And he’s so right! We don’t just need more priests and religious sisters but we also need more marriages. More joy-filled marriages! And I would add, more vocations from women to consecrated virginity but that’s very rare that Joe would even mention it. But it just struck me as being so timely that I was there to hear a talk on vocations, as I have been discerning consecrated virginity for a couple years now.

Joe asked for prayers as he is halfway through the seminary along with 79 other men  in Cleveland. 80 seminarians is huge! And I must say I’m pretty proud of the Cleveland Diocese for being in the top 3 or 5 (not sure exactly?) of number of men in the seminary. Now that I’m in Detroit, I feel like I need to pray even harder for these young men here at Sacred Heart. And we need to pray overall for an increase in vocations. The priests in my own life have been instrumental in my spiritual journey. So please thank your priest/pastor next time you see them.  Thank a religious sister too, while you’re at it. They need our prayers but they also need to be thanked. They sacrifice a lot and I don’t think many of us truly give them the acknowledgement they deserve. And of course, thank God for them most of all.


Speaking of great priests, Fr. Joe Kim celebrated this mass and had a really great homily. He’s a sweetheart of a priest. I was blessed to attend his first ever mass (a daily mass) at St. Albert’s when he started a year (or has it been 2?) ago. He’s from Korea so he has a very noticeable accent but it really doesn’t deter him from delivering a heartfelt and sincere message.

He asked us to think about how much do we love God and how much do we love our neighbor?

He said when we love something, like our favorite sports team, we usually have a lot of gear/apparel like hats and jackets and t-shirts with their logo on it. But how much do we love God that we are willing to accessorize for Him to show others that we are Christian? Maybe we wear a crucifix or a cross, or maybe we have a rosary or a statue of Mary in our yard. But is that enough?

What about time? Mass on Sunday is 1 hour. But if we love our football team we’re probably watching all day on Sunday, and then again on Monday and Thursday night.

What else do we love? Fr. mentioned how much he loves ice cream. The man confessed to having it 4 times a day! I don’t know if he was exaggerating to prove a point but it was hilarious to think about this priest indulging in ice cream for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a dessert at night time. He also said he loves sleep. And working out. So the point was all this other stuff that we love adds up.

And soon we realize, “Where and how much time in the day am I spending loving God and my neighbor?”

He offered just a small piece of advice: Spend small amounts of time in prayer frequently instead of trying to pray for a long time at one point during the day. For example, saying a prayer in the morning when you wake up, before meals, and before you go to sleep at night. It’s easy and simple and most of all, attainable. Then (and he didn’t say this but I would suggest) that you can add in more prayer times as you get into a routine. Even praying in the car during your commute is preferable.

He also suggested spending time in the adoration chapel. He said, and I strongly agree, that the St. Albert’s adoration chapel is probably the most beautiful one in the diocese. I spent many many hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament there and it’s just so needed because it’s peaceful and quiet and, you know, Jesus is there.

 

Today, in our noisy, loud world, we are in desperate need of silence. It’s perpetual, which I REALLY miss here in Detroit. There’s not one perpetual (24-7/365) chapel in this diocese. 😦 However, there IS one in Ann Arbor, which is the Lansing Diocese and it’s right where I work so I’m very lucky. (And if there is a Perpetual Adoration chapel in Detroit, someone let me know!)

I wanted to share a photo of our seminarians in Cleveland and here in Detroit but could only find the one of my CLE boys.

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The best thing I ever heard from someone was to take these posters and bring them with you to a chapel to pray individually for these young men. I think it helps to have names and faces as you say a Hail Mary or an Our Father for them. And then, God-willing, one day you may meet them in person and say, “Ahh! Joe! I prayed for you when you were just a seminarian. Congratulations on being ordained a Priest!”


Just so people don’t think I’m giving my hometown of Cleveland all the praise, here’s a very recent article from Sacred Heart Major Seminary on how they are having one of their best years for enrollment. So Thanks be to God for them too! 🙂

 

 

 

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.