St. Andrew in Saline, Patrick Coffin, and The Rose Mass for the Unborn

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Saint Andrew the Apostle – Saline, MI – Wednesday – 7pm – January 17th

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Celebrant: Fr. Francis

Initial Thoughts: I walked in just as some sort of youth group was concluding with what seemed like 2nd or 3rd graders sitting and listening to a catechist tell them, “We need to be quiet because people are coming in for Reconciliation and Confession.” Very sweet (and humorous) to see about 50 kids turn around and stare at me as I was the only one there.

Homily Reflection: Fr. made a great humorous comment about the 1st reading which ends with these words:

Then David ran and stood over him;
with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath
he dispatched him and cut off his head.

To which the lector then says: “The Word of the Lord” and we respond “Thanks be to God.” 

…he cut off his head – Thanks be to God! What a thing to say!

He had a few more things to say about 1st and 2nd Samuel being about this desire for God – this passion that the people at that time had to say “I’ve come to do your will.” Fr. remarked that maybe we’ve lost that passion today. Most of all, the people wanted to be faithful. And he concluded by challenging us to reclaim that desire to be a faithful people.

Holy Moments: Confession before mass was a wonderful gift, but I actually enjoyed the quiet in between the time that confession ended and mass began. They played some Gregorian chants and dimmed the lights while people went to Reconciliation. I took the time pray but I also looked around at the folks waiting in line. You had a Mom with her kids and having them line up and sit as quietly as they could as she ushered them in to go to the priest. Then she took her turn. There was the young man who sat and waited with his head and his hands. I prayed hard for him. There was the older man who seemed to be at peace and joyful as he exited the confessional. It just made me feel so blessed to be Catholic and to have access to this Sacrament, where we hear Jesus say, “You are forgiven.”

And this actually serves as a great transition to my next Chuch on the list…St. John Vianney.


St. John Vianney – Shelby Township, MI – January 21 – Patrick Coffin

Celebrant: No one, (duh) since it wasn’t a mass but I’m checking this one off the list for the Daily Mass Project since I made the 53 minute trip, in the dark, in the fog, just to see one of my favorite speakers, Patrick Coffin.

His talk entitled, “Ignite!” was about an hour long and was meant to inform and educate those of us in the Catholic church on how we are called to be disciples, that we are meant to live lives of holiness, and that we need to work on spreading this Good News. But, too often we are “lukewarm” about the faith and therefore, a ton of people are leaving it! Not good. But the Good News is that Jesus did indeed instruct us, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the gifts necessary to speak the truth in love to those who are open to hearing it. We aren’t going to convert anyone. But we can begin to help them see that there is a God who loves them, who created them, and wants them to be happy. In fact, it’s a great summary of Unleash the Gospel from Archbishop Vigneron, which you can read here.

You can listen to the talk here.

Some of my favorite talking points from Patrick:

“We [Catholics] have access to the God of the Universe as present in the tabernacle as He will be at the end of history when He returns. As present in the tabernacle as He was when He walked on this earth, when the most beautiful Jewish woman in the world said Yes to an angel’s marriage proposal at the Annunciation. We have this amazing gift.”

” The last words of Blessed Solanus Casey before he died are the words that we should be saying everyday. That should be our prayer. “Lord I give you my soul!”

“You can’t give what you don’t have. If you don’t have this indispensable amount of understanding about who Jesus is, you’re not going to be an effective disciple. It doesn’t mean you have to read big fat books, it doesn’t mean you have to be Thomas Aquinas. It just means you have to be willing to say Yes to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through your life.”

“Nothing here below lasts forever. So we have to be careful about whom and what we hitch our horse to. We have to belong first and foremost to Jesus Christ.”

There was a time for Q&A afterwards which brought up a number of different topics like  how to handle family members with SSA, to how to bring back lapsed Catholics to the Church, and the difference between being repentant and being forgiven through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. <—-this was my favorite part because it prompted Patrick to speak these words which I love to reflect on:

“When we confess our sins, we are obeying what Christ wants for us and what we’re made to do. We want to confess our sins. We’re just chicken to. We’ve done things we can’t undo. We’ve hurt people…We need a Savior. We need someone to take those sins away. To delete them.”

“Our Lord knows us quite well. He knows what we need and we need to hear the words: “I absolve you.” And that I is not Fr. Smith or Bishop so and so, that’s Christ Himself. “I absolve you from your sins.” There’s no more beautiful words. That’s the most exquisite form of I love you, “I absolve you from your sins.”

Indeed. The most exquisite form of I love you. Indeed it is.


The Rose Mass for the Pre-born – OLGC- January 24th

IMG-1774Most folks know me as unapologetically pro-life, no exceptions. And this Rose Mass has always intrigued me. I had heard about it over a year ago, hoping to do something very similar at my church in Cleveland. Well, God had some pretty big plans in mind because not only did I get to witness this mass this year, I was an active participant. Click here to watch it (already queued up for you to watch the “Rose Walk.”) IMG-8804It was such an honor to be asked to read the reflections for each year abortion has been legal in this country. As I read each reflection, a walker came up to the sanctuary and placed a rose in an empty crib. Walkers choose the year for a number of reasons – it could be the year they were born, it could be the year they were married, for some, it’s the year their aborted child would have been born. We never know the reasons they choose the year, but it’s not necessary to know. What’s important to see and to hear the impact legalized abortion has had on all of us. IMG-8789(1)It was quite emotional towards the end, as it’s tradition to have a pregnant woman walk up for the final year. I couldn’t help but choke up as I read the final words as 45 people stood at the front of the worship space next to a crib with all 45 roses placed in it. Representing the 60 million unborn babies that didn’t get chance to live. It should cause us all to stop and think of how we can be a voice for the unborn.

 

In the words of Fr. Prentice, who was the celebrant for this mass, “Let us ask the intercession of Our Lady to put an end to abortion. This must stop.”

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Matthew’s Mystery

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Today is Palm Sunday when we hear the Lord’s Passion from the Gospel of Matthew.

I can remember going to Palm Sunday Mass as a kid and getting a little antsy while listening to the priest and narrator recite the Gospel. I always followed along in the missal so I could chime in during the “Crowd” responses. It was always really awkward and pretty devastating to shout, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” as a middle schooler. I always had it in the back of my mind to ask, “Why didn’t they crucify that Barrabas guy instead?” I hadn’t quite grasped the meaning of the Passion.

More recently, I hear the passion and I think of the movie The Passion of the Christ. I read the one line, “and they had him scourged,” and quickly think back to that 30 minute scene in the movie. That gut-wrenching, violent, emotionally wrecking scene. And it’s just one sentence in the Gospel.

Another set of verses that startles me, and I don’t think I EVER noticed it until I was narrating it today at Mass:

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Ummm…WHAT???

After more than 30 Palm Sunday Masses and I just *now* decided to pay attention to these few verses??

I decided to go to a book called Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: The Gospel of Matthew by Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri to see just what in the heck Matthew is talking about here. Because you would have to assume, if we are talking about people OTHER than Jesus being resurrected and walking around, I think I want to know about it.

Here is the commentary direct from the book, for people as curious, or as crazy, as me:

 The most mysterious apocalyptic occurrence is the opening of the tombs and many saints being raised, which for Matthew highlights how Jesus’ death makes the resurrection of others possible. The “many saints” refers to the righteous Jews who had fallen asleep, a metaphor for death. Matthew reports that they were raised from the dead and entered the holy city of Jerusalem, appearing to many. Matthew leaves many questions unanswered in his account of this extraordinary event: the identity of the saints, what kind of bodies they possessed, the duration of their stay in Jerusalem, what happened to them after their appearance. A few points of theological significance can be noted. First, Matthew notes they came out of their tombs after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus, “the first born from the dead” and the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” is the basis for their resurrection as well as ours. Matthew, however, mentions this extraordinary event in the context of the crucifixion scene in order to make the theological point that Jesus’ death imparts life to others.

Some scholars think these details are merely fictional means by which Matthew indicates the significance of Jesus’ death. Yet however mysterious this account may be, it is not the kind of story one would have invented, since there is no record of anyone in first-century Judaism expecting the Old Testament prophecies about resurrection to be fulfilled quite like this. For the Jews, resurrection involved not the rising of one or many, but the general resurrection of all God’s faithful people. Matthew, therefore, would have had no reason to insert into his Gospel this surprising account about some faithful Jews being raised unless witnesses in Jerusalem actually reported the event.

And I suppose that’s as good of an answer as we’ll get.

It’s been suggested by many to watch The Passion of the Christ in preparation for Holy Week. After watching it the other day, I realized something that I haven’t thought about in years. Whenever I was asked as a teenager/younger adult that curious question of:

“If you could go back in time and witness a historical event, which one would you choose?” I always responded with “The crucifixion.”  At first I thought I gave this answer because I had doubt on my heart if this ever happened. But as I reflected on it more I came to the conclusion that I’ve always been attracted to the cross. I think I was naturally drawn to this event because I wanted to maybe join Him on there. Not for attention or to be the Savior. I think I just wanted to be near Him. Interesting that I didn’t answer that witness question with “That time Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead,” or “Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.”  Nope. I chose the most violent event ever recorded in history to witness.  Another mystery…

Concluding this little post with some wise words from a sermon by St. Andrew of Crete:

“Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will towards his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation…Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward Jerusalem, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.”


The Daily Mass Project will be in full effect on the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, specifically St. Joan of Arc, St. Rita’s, my own parish of Holy Angels, Church of the Resurrection, and St. Anselm.