Week 4 -Daily Mass Project

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

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Celebrant: Fr. Bob Stec

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

Week 3 Daily Mass Project

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


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

Celebrant: Pastor, Rev. Steve Dohner

Number of Attendees: 10 including me.

Gospel: Mark 2: 1-12

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

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

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

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


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

Celebrant: Rev. Tony Sejba

Gospel: Mark 2:13-17

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

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

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


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

Celebrant: Pastor, Rev. Thomas Dunphy

Gospel: John 1:29-34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Year In Review – A Yearly Examen

Catholic blogger Philip Kosloski wrote a cool little article about making a Yearly Examen. Most people are familiar with the Daily Examen which is a part of Ignatian Spirituality.  I try to make an effort to do a nightly examen but I admit, I fail a lot at this.

But a Yearly Examen – Brilliant and doable. As much as we are inclined to make New Years Resolutions, how often do we actually review the year that was in order to learn how we can improve ourselves for the coming year?

Here’s Kosloski’s adaptation for his Yearly Examen:

  1. First, give thanks to God for all the many blessings received over the past year. Go through each month, dwelling upon the good and thanking God for it.
  2. Second, ask for the grace to know your sins and failings and renounce them. Go through each month and do this. 
  3. Third, review your year again, month-by-month, and recognize your feelings, thoughts and movements of the heart. There will be certain people and events that strike a chord (for good or for ill). Bring those people or events to God and ask Him why they stand out. Ask God for the grace to see His providence in all things. Nothing happens by chance.
  4. Fourth, ask pardon of God for any sins. Also, do not only ask God for forgiveness, but also ask God for the grace to forgive yourself.
  5. Fifth, look forward to the next year and ask God for the grace to amend your life.

While 2015 is still fresh in your mind, you should make a point to do your own yearly examen. It looks a little daunting but it shouldn’t take you too long.  In the meantime, here are my own little thoughts on this exercise:

As for me, personally, Step number 1 is the easiest part. I made a point this past year to try and remain positive and always be grateful for the littlest things. Someone got me a “Grateful Journal”  where you write something every day that you’re thankful for/something good that happened to you. or an answered prayer for someone else. When you read that every day, it’s hard to remain bitter and depressed.

The second step – A little difficult, I mean who wants to face their sins and failings head on like that? But, I understand why it’s a necessary step. We aren’t perfect, as much as we try to be.

The third step – By far my favorite step. Certain events that “struck a chord” for good were plentiful this year. Pretty sure TOB is at the top of the list. But there were a few that still make me feel sick to my stomach every time I think about them (friendships ending, death of loved ones, betrayal of people I trusted).

The most difficult step though, for me, has to be the 4th. The grace to forgive yourself is far more difficult, I think, than asking God for forgiveness.  Pretty sure this has a lot to do with my self-deprecating humor I adopted a few years ago. It’s easier to make fun of yourself and downplay your successes than to actually believe you’re good at something or are a good person. And when that happens you tend to dwell on your faults a lot more than give yourself some credit for your improvements. Sigh…

The fifth step – Hallelujah!  I AM looking forward to a new year, especially since I have thing for even numbers. 2015 always sounded strange to me. Twenty-sixeteen has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? 😉

Start A Fire: How Song Lyrics Can Spark a Blaze

A couple weeks ago I posted how we are all called to holiness.

How many people actually believe that? Apparently, not many. I have heard from friends/others that to live a chaste life, to live a holy life is “too hard, too difficult. Save that holy talk for the priests and the nuns, and the saints. That’s not for me!”

If you truly believe that all of us aren’t called to a life of holiness and chastity, (yes married people are called to a chaste life too!), then what are you called to be? Just an average person going through life?

Aren’t you feeling called to do a little more with this one life that you have been given?

Because I’m passionate about music, I thought others could relate and so I found some song lyrics that might help start a fire within you to help you see things differently. I put them into some categories.

You Are Not Called to Live a Mediocre Life:

“I don’t wanna go through the motions,

I don’t wanna go one more day,

without your all-consuming, passion inside of me.

 I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,

“What if I had given everything, instead of going through the motions?”

– Matthew West, from his song “The Motions”

I hear this song and I automatically want to change how I live my daily life. I feel compelled to pray daily, I feel driven to spread the Word, I get excited about how I can stand up for my beliefs. I think about the “motions” I go through everyday when I’m not feeling too inspired and how I feel like it’s a waste to sit on my butt and do nothing that brings me closer to God. So I do my best to “give everything” to Him. He gets all the glory, all the praise.

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
-Sidewalk Prophets, “Live Like That”

The message I get from this song is in one of the last verses in this chorus: Never Holding Back. Don’t be afraid to speak up and speak often. Don’t be afraid to tell people you love them. Don’t be afraid to call someone out on something that you don’t think is right or good. Don’t censor yourself. As long as it’s done in an educational and loving way, there’s no way we can’t have a genuine conversation about “hot button topics” and maybe make some changes in this world.

Sometimes the day won’t ever end…some days you just throw up your hands.

It’s the little things sometimes.

Sometimes the world has just gone dark, sometimes you’re praying for a spark.

It’s the little things sometimes.

But if you lift your eyes, see it in a different light, just a cloud up in the open sky, let the rain fall away because today is beautiful!

If you see more than what’s in front of you
You might see more of heaven’s view

– David Dunn, from his song “Today is Beautiful”

I don’t see how ANYONE could NOT feel happy after hearing this song. Talk about powerful lyrics! Don’t we all have days when we want to see things in a different light? It could be the most dreary, dreadful, grayest day. But if we look at things differently, we can see that it’s a new day, we are alive, we have breath.  So let’s be grateful for this new and beautiful day. Look at your problem in a different light, pray about it, and you might get an answer from God that surprises you. Because, as we know, even when we think God doesn’t hear our prayers, He does.

Forgive and Be Forgiven:

I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong
Don’t they know it’s wrong

Well maybe there’s something I missed
But how could they treat me like this
It’s wearing out my heart
The way they disregard
This is love or this is hate…
We all have a choice to make

Oh, Father wont You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)

Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

– Tenth Avenue North “Losing”

Forgiveness is probably one of the toughest things that we as Christians struggle with. We desire forgiveness from God through confession. But we also ask for forgiveness from friends and family when we mess up. But the biggest struggle might be when we observe others sinning with no apologies, with no regard for what they are doing to themselves and to their community. We pray to God to please, please, forgive them because they just don’t know. They don’t know that what they are doing is wrong. They believe in their heart that they are doing the right thing because maybe it’s what society told them to do. Maybe since “Everyone else is doing it, I can too!” Maybe it’s even LEGAL but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Is this action going to bring you/them closer to God? If the answer is no, then we need to forgive them anyways, as difficult as it may be. But do so lovingly, not with hate. As the lyrics mention in another part of the song:

Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not
Freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down

Take Action:

Here they come, we are surrounded
We’re outnumbered with no place to run
So we’re staying here, lifting up a prayer
Deliver us

Hear that voice there “You shall not fear
You shall not fight watch me there.”
Can we really stand fast while the enemies advance
We swore to believe so no matter the chance we sing

Raise the banner high march with I and I
Lift your voices up loud and high
Strength and unity, faith and victory
Let the battle rage on we cry

Whom shall we fear, no one, no one
We put our weapons down
Whom shall we fear, no one, no one
We raise up worship now

– Audio Adrenaline, “20:17 Raise the Banner”

This is obviously a battle cry. Stand together, stay strong. It’s a constant battle within ourselves and with each other isn’t it? We so badly want our voices heard, but if we are together with other Christians, our voice comes across as one loud voice, and that will get our message out more clearly than just complaining and or just a faint whisper. Be proud of who you are and what you believe in. Pray for God to help make our voices heard.

This world can be cold and bitter
Feels like we’re in the dead of winter
Waiting on something better
But am I really gonna hide forever?

Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
Let Your light shine, let Your light shine for all to see

[Chorus:]
Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me

You only need a spark to start a whole blaze
It only takes a little faith
Let it start right here in this city
So these old walls will never be the same

Over and over again
I hear Your voice in my head
They need to know
I need to go
Spirit won’t You fall on my heart now

-Unspoken “Start a Fire”

By far one of the best songs to start your own fire. Let it start with YOU. Too many times we listen to that negative voice or negative external voices that say, “That can’t be done, you’re shooting for the sky, that’s unrealistic!” or “You’re just not smart enough to pull this off.”  You ARE enough. If something is important to you, even if you know it’s going to be difficult or challenging or even costly and great sacrifices will need to be made, seek a way to get it done anyways. No one, not even God, said our lives were supposed to be easy or fair. There will always be a struggle. There will always be despair and setbacks and sadness. But what’s the opposite of all of these? Happiness, joy, love, courage, redemption, peace.

Fit In Your Faith Today:  Find a song and let it speak to you! Sometimes songs speak to us moreso than scripture, although it’s funny because most of these songs contain scripture passages. 🙂 There are countless songs out there than start your spark. Here are a few more that you can listen to today!

Switchfoot – Dare You To Move

Redeemed – Big Daddy Weave

Do Something – Matthew West

Where I Belong – Building 429

Hope in Front of Me – Danny Gokey

Revelation Song – Phillips, Craig & Dean

Day One – Matthew West

 

 

 

Seven times Seventy

Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

From the New Life Study Bible: The rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them – but only three times. Peter, trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven (the “perfect” number) was enough times to forgive someone. But Jesus answered, “Seventy times seven,” meaning that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask.

Fit In Your Faith Today: How quickly do you forgive someone who says they are sorry for hurting you? If they never say they are sorry, do you forgive them anyways? What if you know someone who is a repeat offender, someone who keeps wronging or hurting you. Do you forgive them or do you hold a grudge? It’s not easy to forgive others, especially when you think they aren’t even sorry. But holding a grudge and holding on to that pain will only make things worse. Do as Jesus has told us, and forgive them no matter what.

Bonus Material: 7×70 by Chris August – An awesome song by one of my favorite Christian singers.

A Forgiving Spirit

Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

The amount that we give will determine the amount given back to us in return. How much do you give? For those who give of their time and their hearts and their abilities, this is great news. For all that we give, we’ll be given back in return! And isn’t that usually the case? Sometimes it’s not right away – most times we have to wait patiently for it to come back to us. Some call it karma. I like to think it’s God. 🙂

But what about those times when we don’t do much good? What about those times that maybe we didn’t treat that stranger with respect. Or maybe that time we passed the donation basket down the pew when we knew we had a few bucks to spare? Or, that time we judged someone we just met based on their background or their accent or their clothing. We probably wish we could go back and do differently.

The good news is, it’s never too late. We can put some money in the basket at the next mass, we can give that stranger a smile next time we see them, or we can re-introduce ourselves to that person we misjudged. And for those “bigger” sins? We can confess and ask God to forgive us and the peace to move on.

Fit In Your Faith Today: As Lent continues, take stock of what you’re doing right now that is good. Are you shining your light on to others? Or are you still in the darkness of contempt or disappointment or shame? It’s time to be compassionate just as our Father is compassionate and merciful. Be merciful to others but also to yourself!

Christ-Centered Suffering

1 Peter 3:18-22

Beloved:
Christ suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,
who had once been disobedient
while God patiently waited in the days of Noah
during the building of the ark,
in which a few persons, eight in all,
were saved through water.
This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
who has gone into heaven
and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Focus on the words in bold and let them assure you of Christ’s love for you. Although we are unrighteous, we are saved through our baptism and the fact that Christ died for our sins. Our lives on earth are not easy; we suffer, we sin, we seek repentance and we ask for forgiveness constantly. It’s a process, but as long as we believe and worship our Savior, we can be assured our suffering is only temporary.