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! 🙂

 

 

 

Random Acts of Worship – Daily Mass Project

 

Church of the Resurrection  – Solon – Wednesday April 19th – 8:30am

Ever walk into a church and just STARE? That’s what you do when you walk into Resurrection. First of all, it’s circular, which could possibly drive you nuts if you’re not used to it. “Where do I look? Where do I sit so I can see everyone? Will my back be to the ambo? This is awkward!” But once you get past that, you realize it’s SO gorgeous and there’s so much to look at. In fact, there’s so much to look at that I’m refraining from blogging about this one until I go to an actual mass. This was just a communion service (and a very good one) but it is WAY too beautiful to NOT attend a Sunday service. I plan on going back next month. In the meantime, check out their website for stunning photos and a virtual tour.


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St. Matthias – Broadview Heights – Sunday – April 23rd – 9am – 2nd Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday

Gospel: JN 20:19-31

Celebrant: Fr. Ray Sutter

Initial Reaction: I feel like I may get chastised for this but I have just a small criticism: Sometimes I feel like reverence goes out the window when the church is set up like a hall or if it’s just a smaller church or whatnot. It just seemed like I walked in to a bingo hall at first. The music minister/organist was announcing the songs and why he chose them and what to expect and people were still chatting. And pretty loudly. I thought that was a little disrespectful, but perhaps they are just used to that and it’s not a big deal to them. Clearly, this is a close-knit community where everyone knows each other. But I guess I’m a little “old-school” and I would prefer if people would chat in the gathering space and silence themselves once they actually walk into the worship space.

Homily Reflection: The homily was given by Deacon Tom Litwinowicz; He said he felt he HAD to give the homily today of all days because the Gospel was about his namesake. Personally, I love the doubting Thomas gospel because it seems like the most realistic reaction. If it was today, I’m sure there would be people who would say, “Unless their video of this Jesus walking around, I won’t believe.” The Deacon mentioned how he’s analytical and likes to dig deep to ask questions to find out if something is true or not. He looks for the proof until he finds it. He talked about how Thomas didn’t quite “get it.” Thomas needed physical proof, he wouldn’t take the apostles’ word for it. He needed to SEE Jesus in the flesh. Now, after Jesus appears to him and has him touch his wounds, Thomas finally believes and grasps the concept beyond the physical and into the DIVINE. And what about us? Do we accept Jesus without seeing?

Holy Moments: The priest said that in lieu of reciting the Creed, he was going to do what he did on Easter and have us renew our baptismal promises. So he recited the questions having us answer in the affirmative. I liked that!

After the proclamation of the Gospel, no one sat down right away. We waited for the Deacon to place the book in front of the ambo. I also noticed the lectors stood at the ambo for a beat or two before sitting down.

All the music was well done! At some points during the songs, some people had their arms raised. So maybe a little charismatic movement has made its way in. Love it!

During the Eucharistic prayer/consecration, the woman in front of me knelt (no kneelers) so I knelt too. As far as I could tell, we were the only ones. I don’t kneel to show how super pious I am. I kneel because I feel it’s the right thing to do. Plus it’s not comfortable. And I don’t think it should be. It’s a small sacrifice to make to remind us…well, it reminds ME, of His suffering. Maybe I shouldn’t have because this church didn’t have kneelers but it was carpeted. So it’s not like it was kneeling on nails.

I took a seat in the last row but they have the communion procession start at the BACK. The last shall be first and the first shall be last? I was first. That’s almost as good as getting a piece of the big host! 😉


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St. Albert the Great – Divine Mercy Chaplet – April 23rd – Divine Mercy Sunday

This wasn’t a mass, it was a Divine Mercy Chaplet service. So this includes Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reading, a brief homily and then we pray the chaplet by chanting/singing. I LOVE to pray the chaplet this way. (Click here to hear what I mean)

I attended this last year and was so moved by the Cantor and her singing that I had to come back again. It’s one thing to just pray the chaplet alone, but it’s quite another to sing it in a group. Just beautiful as always.

I first learned the chaplet on the night my mom passed away.  We recited it at her bedside as she lay there taking her final breaths, so this has always had a special meaning for me. Speaking of which…this brings me to the last parish, my parents own parish of:

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Church of the Assumption – Broadview Heights – Monday – April 24th – 8:30am

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Celebrant: Fr. Justin Dyrwal, O.S.B.

Initial Reactions:  I have good memories of attending church with Mom here, who would often say to me when we went together, “I like going to Assumption because I feel close to MY Mom.”  Well, the feeling is mutual. I even sit in her usual spot whenever I go.

And since I just wrote about divine mercy, it seems only fitting to say that Fr. Justin was the one to teach me the chaplet. The first time I heard it was when he came to the house he prayed the chaplet over her. I hadn’t really heard of it before this.

Homily Reflection: Nicodemus is “on the fence.”  He approaches Jesus in the night because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s a disciple. Nicodemus wants it “both ways.” But Jesus says we must be born again. And Nicodemus doesn’t understand what this means. Jesus means for us to literally change our lives. To live differently. And what about us? We may miss God’s voice telling us to turn around and change our lives because we are too busy living on the fence, listening to the world instead of focusing on heaven. What does the Resurrection mean? It means Transformation. How does the Resurrection change our lives? Am I avoiding change? Am I going where God wants me to go? Imagine the wondrous things that can happen when we allow the Risen Lord in.

Holy Moments: I really wanted to share a picture of their stained glass window of Mary all lit up at night. I ASSUMED (see what I did there?) that they would have one on their website but no. Short of going there at night and taking a photo myself (which I will probably do because I’m THAT crazy person), I found this sub-par blurry photo.  It doesn’t do it justice but it’ll do for now.

UPDATE: I did in fact go to the parish at night, in the rain, and took this picture after the rain ceased. And I have emailed it to the parish permitting them to use it if they wish.

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Not so great looking photo
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MUCH BETTER PHOTO (courtesy of moi)

For those keeping track, this brings me to 41 parishes attended this year so far. Considering there are 185 parishes in the diocese, the dream of attending all of them before January 1st next year is fading. Like with all goals, you gotta know when to admit you may have been a bit over zealous and scale it back. So I’m re-setting the goal to attend 100 by January. A nice even number and completely doable.

Again, I feel strange for even mentioning it but for those that wish to donate to the Daily Mass Project, please send a donation to Father Michael Denk of The Prodigal Father instead. Include somewhere in the notes section that you’re donating because of this or mention the blog or my name (Michelle) and he’ll see that it gets noted. I would always welcome a “Donation” of your prayers more than anything else.

Thank you again!