Daily Mass Project – Christmas Day and the Feast of St. John the Evangelist

67842297_2878968618845277_7641602690601975808_o

Our Lady of Good Counsel – Plymouth, MI – Christmas Day Mass – 12pm

Presider: A visiting priest who probably has a lovely name but I never asked so I don’t know. #HugeFail

Gospel: MT 1:18-25

Homily Reflection: Father reflected on how it must have been an exciting time for all the holy people back when Gabriel went to Mary. As they await her answer. And then the unbelievable JOY that took place at the moment of her fiat.  As Mary goes in haste to visit Elizabeth, what does she do but brings Jesus to Elizabeth. Fast forward to the Wedding at Cana. Mary takes the waiters to Jesus. It’s what Mary does – she brings people to Jesus. When talking about the angels going to the shepherds, Fr. said that God “unleashed the angels.” They are glorifying God now at this moment.

He then mentioned to reflect on Joseph and Mary’s journey in these last days, finding no room to have their baby. They are tired and in desperate need. Maybe that’s how we’re feeling right now? Just glad that Christmas has arrived and tired instead of feeling that joy that we should be feeling. God says to let it go and rejoice! Joseph and Mary are at peace as they look at their child and don’t think about that tiresome journey it took to get there. Lastly, he said to go back in Scripture and place yourself at the scene of the nativity. “Open up your heart and soul like never before & invite Him in. Today, we celebrate His birth now and forever.”

Holy Moments: It’s Christmas Day at my home parish – The whole day was a holy moment.


ourladyoftherosary

Our Lady of the Rosary – Detroit, MI – Friday December 27th – 5:30pm – Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist

A true Daily Mass – A random Friday evening with about 7 of my closest friends. 😉

Presider: Fr. Marko Djonovic, Founder and Director of Better Way Detroit – a ministry that provides dignity to the homeless by offering work for pay to help beautify the city of Detroit.

Initial thoughts: I visited Holy Rosary about 8 months ago. (or maybe a year ago by now, I can’t recall). It didn’t have a crucifix and it didn’t have pews – so they’ve made vast improvement since the last time I was there.

IMG_1153IMG_1152

Homily reflection: Short and sweet. Father reminded us that John is the disciple that Jesus loved, that stayed with Jesus at the foot of the cross. He didn’t waiver in his trust and love for Jesus and that’s what God is asking us to do. To stay close and trust and love our Lord. To stand with Mary at his feet and imitate St. John in his spiritual companionship.

Holy moments: Seeing a few familiar faces in the pews. Mass was followed by adoration and confession. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night!

St. John the Evangelist, pray for us!


Up next week – The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God at my friend’s house – Yes, we had a private mass at her house in her chapel and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Daily Mass Project – 4th Week of Advent – Names, Kneelers and Nephews

Aerial of St Albert The Great-11

St. Albert the Great – North Royalton, OH – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Dec 22nd

Presider: Fr. Joshua Trefney, Parochial Vicar

1st Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14

2nd Reading: Romans 1:1-7

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

Initial thoughts: The one thing (besides having the most beautiful adoration chapel) that I always liked about St. Albert’s is that their bulletin has a little Lectio Divina for everyone to do for the following week’s readings. So this way, you aren’t just skimming the bulletin – you could take it home and pray with it.

I’ve been to this parish several times since it’s just down the street from my childhood home and I have met a very dear friend of mine in the pews here too. (Hi Ivi!) It’s a gorgeous parish and it is clearly thriving. They are also celebrating their 60th year which is crazy to think that I attended it as a kid (when we couldn’t make it to our home parish of St. Anthony’s) in the late 80’s in just their 28th year.

Homily reflection: Fr. Joshua preached on our names and how we come to be named. Clearly, our parents make this decision but there’s usually a meaning behind why they chose that particular name for us. (A family name, a unique spelling of your name, maybe they even prayed about it before naming you).

Sidenote: Whenever anyone talks about how they got their name, I tell them that according to someone in my family (this story has been disputed by my parents at separate times but SOMEONE said it was true) but apparently they were trying to come up with names for me and the phone rang, either Mom or Dad answered, the person asked for a Michelle, they told them it was the wrong number, hung up and said, “Michelle, that’s a good name. Let’s name her that!” I like to think the story is true even if they dispute its validity.

Back to the homily – Every name has a meaning. The prime example is Moses and burning bush talking to God and God reveals His name “I AM WHO AM.” I am the foundation of all reality, the Creator of the world and everything in it. God also reveals His heart to His people. Emmanuel has a meaning, “God with us.” God is always present and never abandons us. Jesus means, “God saves,” the Savior of the world. Our names define who we are, too.

Another sidenote: One of my most prized possessions is a little wooden plaque with my name on it that says “Godly One.” My parents had one for myself and my siblings and mine hung on my wall above my dresser and I would just stare at it, wondering, “Godly one? Me???” But I still have it to this day and it’s one of the few things I have kept from my childhood that hangs in my room. Who knows where Mom bought it but I will always treasure it.

Fr. Joshua concluded by mentioning that in the book of Revelation, it says that we will one day know the name GOD calls us.

“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17.

Holy moments: I had to confirm I wasn’t hearing things when, during the Eucharistic prayer, Fr. Joshua added the names of “St. Raphael and St. Dysmas” after St. Albert. Turns out they’re his patron saints. I have recently learned a lot about St. Raphael the Archangel and so I thought that was a little “sign” that perhaps I was really supposed to be at this particular mass. Plus, it occured at a moment when my mind was wandering (oops!) and this was probably God’s way of hitting me on the head to pay attention.

St. Raphael, pray for us!


80258813_1421636631346333_3376098518065217536_n

St. Charles Borromeo – Parma, OH – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Dec 22nd – Noon mass

Yes I double dipped. And I’m not sorry. 😉

Readings: (See above)

I really wanted to go because my nephew was serving and I sat in the pew with my other nephew which was such a treat. Proud, proud auntie!

I did however manage to sit in a cushioned pew!! Ha! Apparently only a few pews have cushioned seats. Wow, what a treat! It’s the little things…

Presider: Fr. Lou Thomas, Parochial Vicar

Homily Reflection: Well finally, someone preached the homily I have NEVER heard before on St. Joseph but always wanted to. I was just talking to someone about the “house of David” thing and how it just baffled me: Jesus is from the house of David…but it’s Mary’s DNA that’s in him, not Joseph’s. Right? So how can we really say He’s from the lineage of David if that’s Joseph’s line and not Mary’s? That has bothered me to the point of tears in praying about it because I felt like I was questioning the entire Incarnation. Fr. Lou explained that in those days, it’s not like anyone would ever question family lineage by DNA. There was literally no difference between a biological father, a foster father, a guardian father, etc. You’re the father? You’re the father. Period. So that really helped me understand it better.

Holy Moments: The sign of peace with my 6’2″ nephew and watching my other nephew serve and carry the cross. “I volunteered to carry the cross for you, Auntie!” My heart was leaping. Also, the Communion Chant was “O Holy Mary.” SO beautiful and one I know I’ve never heard before in my other mass experiences. And kudos to the violinist. I’d love to hear a violinist at every liturgy. Outstanding job!

St. Joseph, pray for us!


holyangels1

Church of the Holy Angels – Bainbridge, OH – 9am – Monday December 23rd (Chapel mass)

My former parish! I saw some good friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time. Always nice to see familiar faces.

Gospel: Luke 1:57-66

Presider: Fr. Max Cole Pastor and Deacon Vince Belsito

Homily Reflection: Deacon Vince gave a great homily about the question in the Gospel, “What will this child be?” He used a real life example of the only child in the chapel for mass that day and asked the mother if she ever wonders what her child will be. Deacon Vince is a teacher so he always wondered that of his students. Heck, I’m still wondering what will become of me and I’m 41!

In the meantime, he asked that we reflect on that question and I remember thinking, “I don’t need to write any of this down because for sure I’ll remember it.”

Well, I can’t recall anything else from that homily so that’s about it. In my defense, I wasn’t preparing to blog about it so that’s my excuse.

Holy Moments: During the prayers of the faithful, the priest asks for the people in attendance to speak their prayers out loud if they wish so it’s always interesting to me to hear what specific prayers people are asking for. There was always one woman when I would attend there who every single mass would pray “For the lost souls and those separated from the church, that the light of God shine upon them.” So even if no one felt like speaking up, she would always say that, without fail. This particular mass was for a gentleman’s mother who passed and so he spoke up and thanked everyone for supporting him and thanked us all for praying for her. So while some may say it’s a distraction to others to hear all of these prayers being said out loud (one at a time of course), I did appreciate hearing from him since I could remember her when it came time for the Eucharist.

Bonus material: So here’s a question to ponder: If you have a chapel with kneelers, should they be used? I noticed that only a few of us knelt during the Eucharistic prayers and everyone else remained standing. Maybe this is because in the Worship Space, there are no kneelers. So it’s what people are USED to. But, I was told by a priest once: “If you have kneelers, you use them.” Why not have the presiding priest simply suggest, “If you are able, please kneel?” That would seem to solve that issue. Speaking simply for myself, it helps me enter in more fully to this mystery that I’m about to take in the precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. I can reflect and think about that much more deeply when I’m in a posture of humility, is all I’m saying. Feel free to comment and tell me otherwise!

In the meantime, my prayer is that someday a tabernacle will be placed in the sanctuary. And maybe some kneelers too. 😉

Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.


 

Daily Mass Project Returns – 2nd & 3rd Week of Advent

Merry Christmas to you all. It’s been almost two months since my last post and as I’ve mentioned before, I despise it when people have blogs and only blog literally a few times a year. Irks me to no end.

I have gone back and forth about completely deleting the site. But then something happens and I’m back to blogging on a temporary basis.

I have also expressed a few times that nothing made me happier than to do The Daily Mass Project almost 3 years ago now. 85 parishes in a year and a half and it was absolutely the most fun, most fulfilling project I have done. And it’s STILL on the bucket list to convert all the blog entries into a PDF or ebook or an actual book. Someday…

It was something that gave this site some purpose and I know a few friends had asked if I would ever start it up again here in Detroit. There’s really no way it can happen on a regular basis, BUT, I am going to try to blog about the masses I do make it to that aren’t at my home parish of OLGC. And it turns out, with Advent and Christmas and New Years, I have already attended a handful that could use a little blog.

So for the next few weeks, I hope you enjoy this temporary resurrection of the DMP.


IMG-8722

St. John Neumann – Canton, MI – Second Sunday of Advent – December 8th 2019, 6pm

Celebrant: Fr. Mark Livingston, Pastor

I first visited SJN almost a year ago and wrote about that mass here.

This time, since it was a Sunday mass and not a daily, the experience was much different.

1st Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

2nd Reading: Romans 15:4-9

Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

Initial thoughts:  It struck me as a parish that’s very similar to OLGC (where I belong) in that there are projector screens that advertise upcoming events and such. There are cards in each pew that encourage you to take notes during the homily, and the cantor announced at the beginning to “greet your neighbor and ask if they have a prayer request.”

Well, I introduced myself to my pew neighbors and asked the people behind me if they have any prayer intentions and they both said, “No. But thanks for asking!” I couldn’t help but laugh a little because I was kind of hoping THEY would ask me what MY prayer intentions were. And I had a big one so I thought well, God knows my heart so I’ll just keep this intention to myself.

So this was the first mass I was using my new Every Sacred Sunday journal and it has been well worth the money. There’s space to take notes for the homily but there’s also space to write prayers of thanksgiving and another space for your prayer intentions. There’s also room to do some Lectio Divina with all of the readings too. So for any hubbies out there looking for a belated Christmas gift for your wives….Just sayin!

Homily Reflection: Fr. Mark emphasized 3 aspects of who we are in regards to the readings: Baptized, Chosen and Temples of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism: Individually and collectively we members of the Body of Christ and John the Baptist baptism was about emptying ourselves. Jesus’ baptism is about emptying completely and being filled up with Him.

As far as being Chosen, all of us have been chosen by God. All are called, but maybe some unbaptized people haven’t placed themselves up for adoption. (I loved that point!)

We know we are all filled with the Holy Spirit and all of the gifts and graces that the Lord has given us. But why? So we can live the life for heaven and be with Him forever. God doesn’t want us to live a quasi-happy life. We are to live the life of heaven, NOW.  Sometimes we don’t feel like we’re living heaven now. So that’s when we need to ask for healing and come back to the Sacraments. To repent and ask the Lord to stir a flame in us. Father then mentioned that he pictures us all with tongues of fire above our heads and to pray to give us MORE of that. “Make the temple shine! Stir a flame in me! Re-inkindle all your gifts in me and help me to live in your light and truth.”

Holy Moments: Right before the Eucharistic preface, Father Mark asked us to focus on what was about to happen; to place all of our petitions and prayers right there at the altar to be transformed and to focus on what God is trying to say to us. I think it may have been one of the best masses as far as keeping my attention fixated on every word he spoke. I think it also helps sometimes, when we are at mass that isn’t our “normal” parish. I find it easier to drift in daydream land when I’m in a familiar place.

He also mentioned in the homily (or at some point because I wrote it down) to picture Jesus before us and ask Him to speak a word of love to us after we receive Holy Communion. I’ll keep mine to myself but let’s just say, that’s now my new favorite post-communion prayer.

Bonus material: 81996270_10218170392868752_2322874916774346752_o

So someone needs to ask Fr. Mark or someone at SJN what the meaning is behind this stained glass window. Inquiring minds want to know. My money is on that it’s an homage to the working class and that’s St. Joseph the Worker. Right? Maybe?


cabrini

St. Frances Cabrini – Allen Park, MI – Third (Gaudete) Sunday of Advent – 8am

Celebrant: Fr. Steve Mateja assisted by Fr. Luis Flores, Permanent Deacon

1st Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10

2nd Reading: James 5:7-10

Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

Initial thoughts: I’ve been here before but not for an 8am mass. The set up is a little odd with rows of pews on all sides facing the sanctuary. And apparently no one likes to sit in the first few rows of any Catholic Church because they were bare up until 10 minutes to 8. And even then just a handful of folks sat in them.  I love the silence of an 8am mass. Literally counted 2 children in attendance. Awesome.

Homily Reflection: (Given by Deacon Luis) I was hoping for a homily given by Fr. Steve since he’s being sent to a parish in Macomb County in town called Armada. I’m told that’s very far away. And looking at Google maps right now, it is confirmed: It’s super far away. So since we wouldn’t be seeing him until a long-distance Daily Mass Project in the spring perhaps, this was my chance to hear him preach. Alas, it was not to be. But, the Deacon gave a nice homily and had I known I’d be blogging about it, I would have taken better notes. Overall, the theme was rejoicing and joy, considering it was Gaudete Sunday. He says (and I’m just guessing that he’s right) that the word “rejoice” appears in the bible over 300 times. He also mentioned the difference between being happy and being joyful. Happiness is the feeling we get whereas joy is based on faith, and faith is a gift from God. Joy comes from the heart and God won’t take that away from us. God has this amazing love for us that should compel us to pray everyday, “Lord, use me in whatever way is needed.”

Holy Moment: Not so much a holy moment as much as just funny that during the sign of peace, I was SO FAR AWAY from people, these pews are ridiculously long and people are SO spread out, that no one made their way over to me to give the sign of peace, we all just sorta gave that look that says, “Oh hey, peace be with you, I’m sure you’re a great person but you are just so darn far away and I just don’t feel like making the effort to take the 10 steps to walk over to shake your hand and you may be sick anyways and I don’t want to catch whatever it is you have so peace be with you okay?” 🙂

I just happened to read one of Fr. Steve’s last bulletin entries a few days before and in it he said that upon his arrival there a year ago, he had asked everyone to pray one Hail Mary a day for him specifically. I guess a lot of the parishioners kept that promise. And so now I am trying to say one Hail Mary for Fr. Steve, especially during this time of transition.

You should all be praying for our priests, by the way. And if you aren’t, get on it. They need them and WE need them.

Here’s a great one from the CLE diocese that’s a prayer for priests and seminarians:

74480989_495207201336305_6893263969952202752_o

St. John Vianney, patron of priests and seminarians, pray for us!


Next week: I visit 3 familiar parishes in Cleveland – Church of the Holy Angels in Bainbridge, St. Albert the Great in North Royalton and St. Charles Borromeo in Parma.

Holidays, Mass, and Memories

The holidays are here and that means it’s time for me to write about my most favorite subject ever – My mama! 🙂

IMG_0015

So holidays for my Mom and my family were simply the best. My Mom could be described as “Festive to the Extreme.” To give you an idea, she decorated our house for Fourth of July and Memorial Day and Labor Day with little flags everywhere. I mean, lets face it, most people will celebrate by enjoying the day off work but my Mom would get out her flags and put them in the potted plants outside and in the yard, she’d get on her Flag sweatshirt and grab her Flag Tote bag and would just LIVE for stuff like that.

Christmas was always a bit over the top, and Mom just made it really special. Her last Christmas was no exception. In fact, we considered it a miracle (and looking back, I think Mom just WILLED herself to get enough of her strength back) to be released from the hospital in time to celebrate Christmas.

One of my last memories of that final Christmas was walking down the stairs to the kitchen and stopping on the landing halfway, to just take in the smell of baked cookies and her famous sweet bread baking in the oven and thinking, “This is the last time this house will smell like this. It won’t be the same anymore. I’ll never hear her fiddling in the kitchen, I’ll never hear her playing her favorite Christmas CD’s, I’ll never see her smiling to present her bread.” And I don’t remember crying or anything, but I remember just inhaling that smell before I walked all the way downstairs into the kitchen. And just saying to myself,

“Damn. That was it. This won’t ever be this again.”

And you know what? That first Christmas was really rough. I won’t say it was awful but it was really hard. We tried to decorate the house like she would have but I had zero desire to even put up the tree or anything.

One day in the fall of the year that she passed, I think around Thanksgiving, I just decided to pick up her digital camera and see what was on it.

And the first picture I see is of the interior of our house…at Christmas…the year before. And then another. And another. And another. She took about 20 photos of the entire house with the Christmas decorations because she knew we wouldn’t know how to decorate quite like her. It was basically a Tutorial of How To Do Christmas Like Mom.

I pretty much lost it and called my sister to tell her about Mom’s picture-by-picture guide and she came over and we began to unpack the boxes and started to decorate the house.

And we found a note in one of them. I can’t recall what it said, but something like “Take care of each other.” Mom wrote it apparently when she was feeling well, in remission. We thought “How neat! Mom left us notes!”

We kinda forgot about it until Christmas time and started to unpack those decorations and found..you guessed it – more notes! (I wrote about this whole thing in greater detail in a blog post here). <—Get the Kleenex ready if you start to read that one.

My point with today’s post was to give some sort of solidarity to those who are about to experience their “first” holiday post-loss of a loved one. The first holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers Day/Fathers Day, etc are not really…enjoyable.

I mean, let’s just be real  – they suck.

I hate that word, but it’s just so true. You’re always thinking about THEIR last holiday and how they looked, what they said, what they wore, what they made, where you went with them. And it’s just not the same. Nothing is ever the same.

And people will always try their hardest to make you feel better by saying, “Their memory lives on forever.”

Gag me.

That’s straight out of a Hallmark Channel Movie! So lame. Yeah yeah, their memory lives on. In our minds. Yes.

But that’s not good enough – we want our loved ones here in the flesh. I want to be able to hug my Mom right now, ya know? I can’t hug a memory. (I had the BEST dream about her the other day where I DID hug her and it was so great!)

I want to smell that bread again (IT’S THAT GOOD okay? Trust me, everyone RAVED about my Mom’s sweet bread. Thank God my sister bakes it now and it’s just as good although she’ll read this and say “No, it’s not as good as Mom’s. No one made it like Mom.”)

I want to hear her play her favorite Christmas music and hear her wrapping gifts and complaining that she had to scour the internet looking for that one obscure rare gift my brother always asked for every year, and couldn’t find (but she always found it! Sometimes at the last minute, but she did.)

I want to see her, in her recliner, reading her little devotional books, ask her how she’s feeling, and hear her voice and talk to her.

Last week we celebrated All Saints Day and All Souls Day. All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation but All Souls Day is not. I feel like they both should be obligatory.  All Saints Day mass was exactly what I needed. The incense, the chanting, the lighting…it was incredible. All Souls Day had the same feel and although it’s a solemn mass and lots of tears are shed, the homily filled me with hope.

I LOVE going to the mass and feeling my Mom there with me.

After all, mass itself is heaven on earth. It’s where we encounter Jesus and it’s where we pray to the Saints and to Mary and it’s where I feel closest to my Mom and all of my relatives and friends who have passed on. They are where I want to be someday (hopefully not soon) but I know it’s where I’ll see her again and hear her laugh and see her smile and give her the biggest hug ever!

And when I’m on my knees in prayer after the Sanctus (the Holy Holy Holy…) I really try to envision all of the saints right there and my Mom too, hovered around the altar, kneeling with us before God on His throne.

I know it can be a chore and really tough to picture this when you’re at mass where there’s crying babies, fidgeting kids, people’s cell phones going off (come on people, it’s been 10 years can we please learn how to turn them off!?) or an off-key singer in the choir or just distracted by your random thoughts, but if you shut your eyes and just listen to the priest, you CAN do this.

Even if it’s just 10 seconds of being truly present at mass, it’s a game-changer. It may be the most peaceful moment you’ll have that day. And if you keep experiencing that peace, I would be willing to bet you’ll want to keep coming back to get those peaceful experiences again.

My prayers are with all of my friends and family members who are experiencing their “first” holidays without your favorite person in your life there with you this year. But you’ll see them again. And it won’t be from a memory.

It’ll be real. 

Can’t wait to see you again, Mom! Save a slice of that bread for me will ya? 😉

When We Love The Least of These…

IMG-8884

St. Francis of Assisi – Ann Arbor – March 3rd – 40 Days For Life Mass, Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction, Rosary Rally & Rose Procession

Celebrant: Fr. James Conlon, Pastor

Initial Reaction: Another parish, another giant baptismal font! 🙂 IMG-8883

So I originally had plans to pray outside the Planned Parenthood in Ann Arbor this day at 10am. But when I went to sign up, it said on the website that a special event was planned at nearby St. Francis of Assisi. Never one to miss an opportunity to attend a different parish for daily mass for my Daily Mass Project, I made sure to change my plans so I could go to this.

Upon walking in, I actually saw the pipe organ first. (The picture below is from Wikipedia): Saint_Francis_of_Assisi_Catholic_Church_Organ_Ann_Arbor_Michigan

And then made my way to the center to get a picture of the sanctuary and altar, where a statue of Mary was placed surrounded by the roses, which we carried later to Planned Parenthood.

 

You may also see a basket with rosaries hanging out of it; those were also provided for the Rosary rally, as we recited the rosary as we walked.

As I waited for mass to start, I just sat in silence and prayed for the priest to give us some inspiration as this was clearly a mass centered around the pro-life movement. I thought about how I hear from people in the pews who are passionately pro-life like me and wish “Fr. So and so would talk about this from the pulpit more often!” I understand this argument because I too have sat there and wished that more priests would talk about tough topics more often – divorce, same sex “marriage,” contraception, abortion, pornography. And there are priests who do in fact preach this from the pulpit and I do commend them. But I think we all have to admit – aside from the anniversary of Roe in January, do you ever hear a priest talk about abortion? Do you ever hear them mention Rachel’s Vineyard? Do you ever hear them mention the men who regret lost fatherhood?

I have a feeling people will respond to this by saying, “It’s not the time or place for a priest to talk about those subjects during a homily. Give them a break.”  And I would tend to agree with that. But, when you consider that 70% of women who are post-abortive call themselves Christian, and 1 in 4 in women in the USA will have an abortion by the time they are 45, maybe you want to say something about that? And you may be right, a homily is when the priest breaks open the Gospel and the readings and makes it relevant to our lives. How can he possibly link abortion to a Gospel? I agree that’s not such an easy thing to do. That’s probably really unfair to ask a priest to do that.

On the other hand, we can’t just keep ignoring it. It’s happening in our world. Right now. Today. 3,000 babies are killed every day in the United States. I for one, think, that’s worth discussing.

I understand the risk of “losing” parishioners if they hear a message they don’t agree with and walking out. I was one of them! I heard the most ridiculous mission talk from a priest when I was 22 that made my blood boil. What was the subject of his talk? SIN. I was too stubborn at the time to realize that he was speaking the truth.

I thought to myself, “I can’t believe that I attended a church with all these hypocrites!” Looking back, obviously, I was convicted. And we can choose to stay or we can choose to leave in those moments. And I “left” (meaning I didn’t go to mass the following Sunday, had a particularly heartbreaking chat with God shortly after, and came back).

But I didn’t really acknowledge what I had heard from that priest until a decade or so later. I stayed in denial about sin for a LONG time and avoided confession because of it. And finally, 15 years later, I was in a place where I was ready to hear the truth (again) and this time, I embraced the faith, instead of running from it. And I pray for the conversion of those who haven’t stepped foot into a church because they fear condemnation. I pray that they will be led back to the fold and the laity will embrace them as a fellow sinner and lead them into the light. That doesn’t require a passionate and amazing homily from the priest (although it would be great!) – that requires love and compassion from us in the pews. So it starts with us.

Homily Reflection:  Fr. started by thanking us for our witness for the unborn. It was the feast day of St. Katherine Drexel, who was a very wealthy socialite turned religious sister. She was determined to bring love and hope to a world so full of hate and evil. Her family had a great heart for those who were seen as the “lowest.” She saw them as her brothers and sisters in Christ and grounded all of her work in prayer. And prayer is what Fr. said we ourselves, as we set out to process to Planned Parenthood to stand up for the unborn, prayer is what we needed first and foremost.

He also mentioned that we all have gifts from God. And we can use these gifts to promote a culture of life; we can use our voices, our presence outside clinics, our writing skills (holla!), our time, our talents, to promote the kingdom of God.

He said as the baptized, we bear the stamp “Property of Jesus Christ,” on us at all times. We may tarnish it, but we wear it. Ain’t that the truth? I can relate to that. How many times have I tarnished this “stamp?” But I still wear it, messy as it is!

As for abortion and the culture of death, Fr. James said that there are many who promote choice, who try to silence the Christian message, to put it to the side and so, make it a private matter because then it can be controlled and not visible.

But the Saints never did that! We will find ways around these clever maneuvers that abortion advocates will try in order to silence us!

We need to remember that it is God alone who creates and ends life.

Life does not end in butchering. It ends in the promise of eternal life.

The witness of love is always greater than the witness of death


Can I get an amen people!?

After mass there was Exposition and Benediction and Father read some beautiful prayers centered around the unborn, family, motherhood and fatherhood and pro-life efforts.

IMG-8887

We then processed out singing Hail Holy Queen, as the servers carried the statue of Mary the ENTIRE way to Planned Parenthood. What a great witness to see young men carrying Our Lady and leading us as we prayed the Rosary!

IMG-8888

Many people honked their horns in support of us, a few gave us the middle finger (As an Ohio gal, I wish I could just say it’s a “Michigan thing,” but we all know that’s not true) 😉  And one beautiful daughter of God shouted at us from her car. I couldn’t make out what she was saying but it was something along the lines of, “Why don’t you pray for the children already born?”  To which I would tell her, We do.

As we arrived at PP we chanted the Salve Regina. We then placed roses on the island outside Planned Parenthood, which I later found out is public property.

 

I just want to thank 40 Days For Life Ann Arbor Chapter for putting this awesome event on. What a gift to be able to spend part of our day marching and praying and worshiping on behalf of the unborn.

It’s not too late to get involved in your local 40 Days for Life chapter. It’s NEVER to late to stand up for the unborn. Click this link to find your local chapter and sign up for an hour to pray outside the clinic or find out to get involved in other ways. You could literally save a life!

 

 

 

 

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: Long Overdue

I feel like I’m turning in a homework assignment two months late just to receive a passing grade.  I have zero excuses for not blogging about these masses earlier. Although moving to a different city and getting a new job are two pretty good reasons.


St. Priscilla – Livonia, MI- August 10

IMG-8077

Celebrant: Fr. Theo D’Cunha, Pastor

Feast Day: St. Lawrence

Homily Reflection: Fr. Theo told an incredible story of St. Lawrence’s influence in his native country of India (Fr’s native country, not St. Lawrence, duh). Apparently, Fr. grew up near St. Lawrence shrine and everyone would go to this church on his feast day and it’s been said that numerous favors have been granted and prayers answered by the faithful. I took this from Wikipedia: “St. Lawrence of Attur is known for his astonishing power of intercession with God. Over the past years the patronage of St. Lawrence over Attur has been remarkable. Not only the residents of Karkala and the pilgrims flocking there in great numbers, but also devotees who invoke St. Lawrence of Attur without visiting the shrine have experienced his powerful intercession. The number of pilgrims to the place throughout the year and specially those during the feast days in the month of January is an evident proof that St. Lawrence does not disappoint those who come to him in faith and devotion.” 

Holy Moment: Just one. I won’t say it was really a holy moment as much as it was kind of an awkward moment and one I want to ask any Extradordinary Ministers to clarify for me: The EM holding the Blood said to me, “This is the Precious Blood of Jesus.” To which I WANTED to reply, “And this is not the time for improv.” What happened to just the universal standard, “The blood of Christ.” I get thrown off if it’s something else. My only “complaint.”


St. Hugo of the Hills – Bloomfield Hills, MI – August 26

1

Celebrant: Fr. George

Initial Thoughts: I’m the youngest one by far. But that’s also because I’m 20 minutes early and there are a large number of senior citizens filing in. I see the tabernacle is in some corner with stained glass around it. Kind of like an atrium. It’s a little confusing but, hey, at least I can see it. The pipes of the organ are STUNNING. Who looks at the pipe organ pipes and describes them as stunning? I wish I would have gotten a closer picture of them but as you can see from the pics below, they are not your standard silver pipes. I’d love to know more about the design on them if anyone knows.

Before mass begins, the commentator recognized the name of everyone involved with the liturgy – the names of the lectors, the servers, the cantor and the EM’s.

Homily Reflection: All the homilies are online, so I was able to listen to it again and compare it with my notes. I really liked how Fr. George mentions the humanness of Peter. He’s the only one who answers correctly, “Who do you say that I am?” yet he denies knowing Jesus 3 times. A few lines that stuck out: “Peter wants a Messiah that will conquer the world without getting his hands dirty. His expectations are not in sync with Jesus. Have we ever been there in our failings?”  Jesus doesn’t reject Peter and He doesn’t reject us.

Holy Moments: My favorite part was the blessing/renewal of vows for Delores and Raymond (Pictured below) of 50 years of marriage. I was tearing up and I have no idea who these people were. It was just so special to witness it.

I wore my “Let God Plan Parenthood” t-shirt to this mass. One woman comes up to me and tells me “You are so bold for wearing that, You go girl!” I’m bold for wearing a pro-life shirt to a Catholic Church? Nope, I’m actually a coward for wearing it at Church knowing the chances of encountering someone who disagrees with it won’t confront me. But I was gracious for the compliment.

 

Afterwards, I went around and took pictures of the place and literally walked outside and wondered “What’s that other church-looking building?” Duh, it’s the Chapel. I had this entire chapel all to myself for an hour.


St. Isabel – Sanibel Island, Florida – September 2nd

saintisabel

You can’t let vacation stop you from receiving Jesus, right? There’s one (literally) Catholic Church on Sanibel Island and this is it.

 

Celebrant: Fr. Joseph Gates

Initial Thoughts: The music minister HAD to be a classically trained pianist. He was playing beautifully as people filed in. Magnificent!

A baptismal font in the shape of a shell is something you don’t see everyday but I think it’s so Florida. The outside with the palm trees and the water and the statue of our lady was definitely different. Would be interesting to see if other Florida churches are designed in the same way or if this is just unique to this area.

Homily Reflection: Probably one of the best homilies I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. Fr. Joseph gave what he called almost like a Good Friday homily. He mentioned St. Peter, he mentioned Jeremiah and St. Paul and Adam and Eve and Mary and John and he even threw Our Lady of Czestochowa in there in reference to this incredible image on the cover of their bulletin: sanibelbulletin I was dizzy with information. This priest was fantastic and I wish I could tell you just one line from his homily that struck me but honestly you just had to be there. 🙂


Old St. Pat’s – Ann Arbor, MI September 5th 7pm

Some historical background: Old St. Patrick is the oldest English-speaking Catholic church in the state of Michigan. Although the parish may have actually begun around 1829, the earliest records refer to its first building. In the spring of 1831 the parishioners erected a log church on a small plot of land where the rectory currently stands. In its more than 175 years of existence, the parish has had 31 pastors, at least two names, and has come under the jurisdiction of three different dioceses: Cincinnati, Detroit, and Lansing. 

Celebrant: Fr. Tom Wasilewski

Initial Thoughts: Working in Ann Arbor for a couple months now, I am still amazed at the amount of dirt roads that are in Michigan and especially AA. There’s literally no reason to wash your car, it’s just going to get dirty the next time you drive. What does that have to do with this post? Nothing, I just wanted to mention it. Oh! But actually this church is located off a dirt road. So yes, I did have a point after all.

To make things just a tad awkward, the church was in the middle of some renovations so when you enter, you actually enter by going through a door which takes you right to the sanctuary. So for those who are late, the entire congregation sees you. 🙂 I was way early, thank goodness.

Homily Reflection: The lord will come like a thief in the night. We all have a day of a judgment and we don’t know when that is. This is a warning not to be complacent. We may not have all the time in the world to convert, to improve ourselves. He ended with a quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta that reiterated how we don’t (and shouldn’t try to) belong to the world. “I belong to Jesus. He must have the right to use me without consulting me.”

Holy Moments: They actually use their altar rail and so I received on the tongue at the rail. As I’ve mentioned previously, I love to receive this way. It’s incredibly reverent and humbling. Something I need to be reminded of often.


Holy Family – Novi – Monday October 9th-9am

Celebrant: Fr. Bob LaCroix, Pastor

Initial Thoughts: I heard they have renovated the main worship space and wanted to get pictures of it but because it was a daily mass, I couldn’t quite get the best pics (we were in the chapel). But you can see renovation pics on their website.

I love little chapel masses. Very quaint. And I was super excited to get to a daily mass because I had the morning off to get to an appointment by 10am less than 10 minutes away. Daily masses never take longe than 30 minutes.  Or so I thought. 🙂

We sang an entrance hymn which was handed out to all of us beforehand: IMG-8516

We then sang the Responsorial Psalm which I wasn’t expecting but the cantor/lector had a great voice. However, and this is kind of funny and not meant to be a criticism because this has happened a few times to me as well. But when she sang the Responsorial Psalm for us, she actually left out a couple words (I think O, Lord or something). So we responded back an incorrect reply. But then, after singing the first verses, those of us who were probably following along in the Magnificat or a missal, proceeded to respond back the CORRECT response, completely confusing those who were trying to follow what she initially sang. Then, she must have noticed her error and sang back the correct response but those who were NOT following along were still singing her initial response without the O, Lord. So it’s safe to say, all 4 responses were totally different, ha! It’s all good though, God was being praised, I’m sure He didn’t mind.

Homily Reflection: The first reading was about Jonah and the whale and spending 3 days in the whales belly. When Jesus refers to Jonah, He’s making 3 points that can be applied to our lives:

1. Don’t run from God.

2. You can’t even if you try!

3. It’s never too late to call on the Lord’s mercy.

Not-So-Holy-Moments: As much as I loved all the singing, I had to leave after communion, which I don’t think I’ve done in years. I feel like the bad Catholic if I ever do. But I couldn’t be late for my appointment. The entire mass took a good 50 minutes, and we should never be in a rush to receive Eucharist but unfortunately, I found myself a little distracted because I could sense it was running late.

There was another distraction and this one is actually becoming quite common and probably something that should be addressed by…someone. Talking during mass. But no, not talking to your neighbor, or your kids. No, I mean talking out loud during the Eucharistic Prayer. Speaking the actual words that the Priest (and ONLY the Priest) is supposed to say.

The woman next to me, God Bless her, was whispering loud enough for me to hear, most, if not all, of the Eucharistic prayer.
This is something only the priest says. He has his part, we have our part. But apparently that was not what this woman learned and I, being the easily distracted creature I am, could not focus.

A peek into my mind at the time: “Oh no no no no. NO PLEASE STOP PLEASE STOP PLEASE STOP WHISPERING THE PRAYER. Okay maybe she was just whispering the preface. I’m sure she won’t whisper the prayer, I mean how can she possibly know which one he’s going to use, and oh yeah she’s saying it all, every single word. But not the prayer of consecration, Please lord tell her not to whisper the consecration and OH DEAR LORD SHE JUST SAID DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME…I’m going to lose it. I’m going to lose it and I’m trying to be a good Christian here, I’m really trying, I need to be charitable in my thoughts and actions but GOD SHE’S DISTRACTING ME! I should say something to her. Right? If I was doing something wrong I’d want someone to tell me. But when? How? Should I say something at the sign of peace? How would that go?

Peace be with you and please stop whispering loudly you’re very distracting and I’m losing my mind.

Peace be with you and your tongue, can you maybe take it down a notch?

May the peace of Christ be with you and can we chat after mass?”

Needless to say, because I had to leave early, I didn’t get a chance to say anything. And honestly, I am not the type to do so. I am gutless when it comes to correcting people, especially total strangers. I simply prayed that someone will eventually inform her about the mass, about the role of the congregation and the priest, simply so she can understand and appreciate our parts more fully.

And then I chastised myself for being so distracted during the most important part of the mass. I should be able to tune everyone out. If it had been a crying baby next to me would I have been that distracted? I should be able to focus solely on my own unworthiness at what I’m about to receive and forget the issues my pew neighbor is having at the moment, right? Sigh…


In two weeks I’ll be going on a Church Tour through the Archdiocese of Detroit to see Sweetest Heart of Mary, Sacred Heat Major Seminary, St. Joseph Oratory, and Old St. Mary’s in Greektown. The tour ends with a Vigil Mass with Archbishop Vigneron at Sweetest Heart of Mary.  I’m SUPER excited about this and cannot wait to blog and share pictures of this most blessed event.