Week 6 Daily Mass Project

Before we get to the DMP, I have to share just a few thoughts about this past weekend:

I had the honor of being chosen among 24 other women to be flown to D.C. to be trained in all forms of media as a Spokeswoman on the issues of marriage, dating, sex, religious freedom, abortion and contraception, all courtesy of a grass roots movement called Women Speak for Themselves.  It was incredible and I’ll spend another blog post discussing all that took place. In the meantime, a shortened (much better) version of my previous post about the Women’s March/Planned Parenthood has been published by WSFT.  A huge honor. I do hope to blog for them again soon!

Meanwhile, I took the DMP “on the road” and found an adorable church called Holy Rosary. According to their website, they are the only national Italian parish in Washington, D.C. The Italian side of me was beaming with pride as I walked in to this little historic church…


Holy Rosary Church – Washington D.C. – 1st Sunday of Lent

Celebrant: Fr. Ezio Marchetto (How’s that for an Italian name?)

Gospel: MT 4:1-11

Homily Reflection: I know I took notes on the homily on a small pad of paper. But unfortunately I’m pretty sure I left the pad in the hotel lobby or in my hotel room. So some random person somewhere in D.C. is probably attempting to read my chicken scratch about the 3 temptations of the devil to Jesus in the desert. Oops.

Holy Moments: Be still my heart, I loved it all! From the bilingual bulletin, to the Italian missal, to the teenage lector with the most adorable accent I’ve ever heard, I didn’t ever want to leave. You could tell just by walking in that this place was rich with history. Even though it’s not very large, it had all the aspects of a Catholic mass: chimes, communion plates, a pipe organ, 2 side altars and one of those winding staircases for the pulpit and of course, a Facebook page. Check out this beautiful song being sung for the victims of the earthquake that hit Italy last year.

My favorite part was going to leave the church and coming eye to eye with this beautiful sculpture of Our Lady and Jesus in her arms. IMG_6643

I finally Googled “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” and figured out that it means: “the sorrowful mother stood.” The Stabat Mater is an ancient hymn sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

 


St. Clement – Lakewood – 5:15PM – 3/6/17

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Celebrant: Fr. Joe Workman

Gospel: MT 25:31-46

Homily Reflection: The priest told us about an encounter he witnessed at a recent funeral: The man who died was a Navy veteran. (Any time a veteran passes, representatives from the branch come and perform a flag ceremony and usually play taps a recorded version, usually not live.  It’s really beautiful and moving if you have ever witnessed one.) At the cemetery, the priest saw a few of the friends of the deceased man walk over to the 3 sailors who had performed the flag ceremony and thanked them one by one for coming to the funeral. The priest thought this was a small but very powerful example of the gestures we can perform everyday to make someone’s day a little better. The Gospel mentioned “when I was naked you clothed me, when I was hungry you fed me, etc” and the lesson for us is simply gratitude. The little extra things we do, like a smile and a thank you to someone at the grocery store or saying thank you for good customer service, can go a long way to being a loving neighbor.

Holy Moments: The Preface/Eucharistic Prayer were really beautiful and different. If you go to mass during Lent (I would HOPE you do/are) be sure to listen to the prayers said at the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It’s the most sacred part of the mass and the words the priest says really strike your heart. I don’t know if this was his exact prayer but here’s an example from what’s called Preface IV of Lent. For reference, this is after “It is truly right and just…”

For through bodily fasting you restraint our faults, raise up our minds, and bestow both virtue and its rewards, through Christ our Lord. Through him the Angels praise your majesty, Dominions adore and Powers tremble before you. Heaven and the Virtues of heaven and the blessed Seraphim worship together in exultation.


St. John Neumann – Strongsville – 3/8/17 –Chapel Mass*

Celebrant: Fr. Robert Kraig, Pastor

Gospel: LK 11:29-32

Homily Reflection: The people ask Jesus for a sign, but he’s not in the sign-making business. During Lent, the best sign we can look to is the crucifix. If all we do during Lent is sit at the foot of the cross and look to Jesus, we’ll know that we are valued and loved.

Holy Awkward Moment: So here’s a question for you: When the priest sits down after the opening prayer and it’s time for the 1st reading and he just sits there in silence and no one comes up to read…What do you do?

I lector at my own parish quite often and I was going to go up there but thought I’d better not. But then I thought, “Maybe this is why I’m here tonight?? God wants me to lector?!?” After the longest 45 seconds of my life, a man came up from the back and read. I was so relieved but also really confused. I kept thinking, “Is this typical protocol? Does the priest expect volunteers?” I think I have to go back just to see if it happens again.

Real Holy Moment: A little girl of about 5 years old was in the front row with (assuming) her parents had to sweetest voice. It’s always nice to hear the one YOUNG voice belt out the Our Father or the responsorial psalm amid the adult voices. It really feels like a community at that point because we’re all different. I even had a couple people behind me that spoke a different language. Just reiterates the point that we’re all part of the One Body of Christ.

*The only downside, so far, with the DMP is that many of these masses are held in chapels and not the main worship space. So I don’t get to see the architecture and design of them unless the lights just happen to be on and I can see in. The DMP may have to be the S(unday) Mass Project in coming years.


Next week: Although no plans are solid (are they ever?) chances are I’m going west for masses in North Ridgeville, Avon, Elyria and Sheffield Lake. Expect a post about my friend Fr. Michael Denk and his mission talk at St. Raphael in Bay Village as well. 

 

 

The Four Nonnegotiable Pillars of the Spiritual Life

Excerpt from The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality

Four essential pillars undergird any healthy Christian spirituality. These are universally prescribed spiritual challenges and are revealed by Christ as being nonnegotiable elements within Christian discipleship. What are they?

We see that Jesus was prescribing four things as an essential praxis for a healthy spiritual life: 

a) Private prayer and private morality

b) social justice

c) mellowness of heart and spirit

d) community as a constitutive element of true worship 

These are not elements we may choose or not choose to incorporate within our spiritual lives. They comprise the essence of the spiritual life. They also supply its balance. Only when all four of these are present in our lives are we healthy, as Christians and as human beings.

We can spend our whole life trying to live out all 4 of these pillars without 100% success. But the point of this section of the book is to understand that if we call ourselves Christians, THIS is what Jesus wants us to strive for. The Christian who has all 4 of these things present in their spirituality, they are the living the ideal Christian life. Chances are, though, that we are lacking in at least one of the 4 areas.  I know I certainly am, especially the part about social justice. But there’s hope! We can identify this absence and work on incorporating it into our lives.

For example, let’s say you’re like me and you do everything listed above except you do not have a passion for social justice. You aren’t the type to sign petitions or stand in front of a courthouse holding a sign or perhaps you don’t feel you are outgoing enough to take a stand. You can fix that by joining a group at your church that holds vigils outside abortion clinics or a group that helps the homeless by taking them meals at local shelters. You don’t have to be on the “front lines” to still take part in social justice. Personally, I was always pro-life in my mind but I never vocalized this opinion to too many people. Recently, and especially after reading Theology of the Body, I am very adamant and quite passionate about preventing abortions in society today. I also look at issues like human trafficking and capital punishment in a different light. Understanding that Jesus wants us to stand up for what He believed and what we as Christians believe has ignited a fire in me to take action.

You might recognize that you are passionate about social justice issues, you have mellowness of heart and spirit, and you pray everyday privately and you obey the commandments. However, you might be the kind of person that doesn’t actually go to church. (Letter D above). You might not “believe” in it. Some people think, “I don’t want to be among all those hypocrites,” or “I prefer to worship in private.”  Here are the authors thoughts on this:

The grounding, earthiness, and necessary pain that only real involvement within a concrete, parish-type family can give you [is what is missing from the life of a person who does not attend a church]. In parishes, we do not get to pick who we will be standing beside as we worship and celebrate various things together. A parish-type family is a hand of cards that is randomly dealt to us, and precisely to the extent that it is truly inclusive, will include persons of every temperament, ideology, virtue, and fault. Also, church involvement, when understood properly, does not leave us the option to walk away whenever something happens that we do not like. It is a covenant commitment, like a marriage, and binds us for better and worse. 

Fit in Your Faith Today: Examine these 4 Pillars  and ask yourself where you are lacking.  Pick up a copy of the book if this peaks your interest and you want to learn more! This exercise isn’t meant to make you feel inadequate or guilty. It’s meant to enhance your relationship with God and examine your spirituality as a Christian. It’s changing my life for the better; think about what it can do for you and for others!

What’s Truly Important

Proverbs 2:1-5

My child, if you will receive my sayings, and hide my commands with you, in order to incline your ear toward wisdom, then you shall apply your heart to understanding. For if you cry out for understanding, if you life your voice for insight, if you seek her like silver and search her out like treasure, then you will understand the fear of Yahweh, and the knowledge of God you will find.

From Rebecca Van Noord  – Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan:

The knowledge of God isn’t just knowledge ABOUT God. It’s also the desire and the process of inclining and applying your heart to understanding. The father encourages his son to cry out for understanding or lift his voice for insight- going beyond just intellectual comprehension.

We might claim to hold a life of worship, but do our actions really reflect that value? Do our efforts and decisions reflect a heart that cries out to God for His wisdom? God has redeemed us at a great price with the death of His son. He desires that we turn over our lives to Him – and that includes pursuing Him with all our being.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Are you pursuing “the knowledge of God” and applying your heart to understanding?

A New Perspective on the Commandments

The key to getting our relationship with God right is the key to getting everything else right in the moral life. – Fr. Robert Barron

Fr. Barron gave a very insightful homily today on our first reading from this Sunday’s mass.

Here’s a summary of his thoughts on each commandment:

  1. I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods besides me. Everybody worships something or someone – the center of gravity for your life. Everyone has the ultimate concern. What is of supreme importance to you? That is what you worship. What is of highest worth to you? The first commandment tells us it has to be God. If He is not, your spiritual life comes apart.
  2. You shall not the name of the Lord your God in vain. It’s one thing to claim that God is the center of your life, but do you speak like it and act like it? Don’t speak so casually about it. Speech matters. Right speech contributes to the building up of the soul. Wrong speech leads to the coarsening of the soul.
  3. Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Unless you incarnate your worship of God in some definite of act of worship otherwise that commitment becomes an abstraction and then irrelevant. It must express itself through action. God does not NEED our worship. WE NEED worship. Fr. Barron points out the falling off of people attending mass on Sundays. Sunday has become like any other weekend day like Saturday. This signifies this loss of focus of our society.
  4. Honor your Father and Mother. Not just your parents but also your family. If you love God but can’t manage to love and honor those closest to you, something is wrong. Family is the building block of society. The foundation will become lost if you love God but don’t love those closest and dearest to you.
  5. You shall not kill. 60 million unborn babies killed since Roe vs Wade. Victims of ISIS, casual murders in our streets/gang violence. God is the giver of life – We have no business interfering with that preogative. Do we enhance life or do we diminish it after meeting someone? In our dealing with people, do they feel more alive after being with us?
  6. You shall not commit adultery. Marriage is in serious trouble. Think of the pain that takes place when infidelity takes place. The family is the building block of society. Husbands and wives can’t stay committed and the sadness and pain that takes place when that commitment is broken.
  7. You shall not steal.  When you start bad mouthing someone, that’s a kind of stealing. You’re stealing the good reputation of someone.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. How we love tearing each other down. It’s a function of the ego’s need to be superior and to feel protected.  Our favorite indoor pastime is critiquing each other. How often do you engage in bearing false witness during the course of the day? Do you lie about someone for your own purposes?
  9. You shall not covet your neighbors goods/ 10. You shall not covet your neighbors wife. We desire what our neighbor desires. We tend to desire things not because their good in themselves, but because someone else desires them. We want someONE or someTHING because someone else wants it.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Take one of the commandments and focus on it and how you are possibly, without even realizing it, comitting one of these sins. Are you honoring your family? Do you covet things just because someone else wants it too? Have you stolen someone’s reputation by bad mouthing them? Do you treat Sundays just like any other day without making it a holy day? There’s so much we can work on spiritually to live out these commandments. We can go through our own transformation this Lent as we make an effort to not only memorize these commandments but live them out as well.

Their Hardened Hearts

Mark 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

From the New Life Study Bible:

Jesus rebuked the disciples for their hard hearts. Today the Hardhearts believe:

(1) that poverty is always caused by laziness; helping the poor only enables them;

(2) that worship is best conducted in one way- our way- which has worked very well for forty years, thank you, and need not be changed;

(3) that evangelism doesn’t apply; people will never change anyways, so we don’t need to do it. Joining the Hardhearts requires only one pledge; you must refuse to listen to Jesus’ questions. Don’t be a hardheart. Be open to Christ’s truth. Let him soften your heart.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you allow Christ to “soften” your heart? It’s difficult to accept new ways of thinking. It’s hard to believe in God all the time. What’s EASY is the opposite: To believe in nothing; to think that change is not possible with any one or any thing; that evangelism can soften a heart or two. Shift your way of thinking and accept that your once hardened heart, is now softening for the love of Christ.

 

Have You Received Your New Heart?

Ezekiel 11:19

Good News Translation

I will give them a new heart and a new mind. I will take away their stubborn heart of stone and will give them an obedient heart.

New Living Translation

And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.

I included the New Living Translation in this scripture passage so we can see how the New Life Bible Study defines singleness of heart:” a unanimous singleness of purpose.”  The commentary goes on to say: “No longer will God’s people seek many gods; they will be content with God. Their stony, stubborn hearts of stone will be radically transplanted with tender, responsive hearts. This new life can only be the work of the Holy Spirit. It is God’s work, but we must recognize and turn from our sin. When we do, God will give us new motives, new guidelines, and new purpose.”

After reading this passage I immediately thought of the church hymn, “Here I Am Lord” by Dan Schutte that we often sung as children during mass growing up. I always get a little smile on my face when I see it listed as one of the hymns during mass these days because it brings back such great memories as a kid.

Here are the verses that came to my mind:

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them, They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak My word to them
Whom shall I send?

It’s a wonderful song but I would get so sad when I would sing it sometimes because it’s almost like a love letter from God to the His people that won’t listen to Him! The people are turning away and worshiping false idols and pagan gods and they won’t listen to the prophets. But finally, God is telling them that indeed, He will take all of this away and they will be content to worshiping just Him. He’s going to give them new motivation. A new heart.

Have you ever hit rock bottom? What does everyone say when you’re at the end of your rope, at the bottom of the pit? “Well, there’s no where else to go but up!” Right? I almost feel like this is similar – We hit the bottom, we have reached our limit and there’s nowhere else to go. We can’t get any more low than we are at this moment. And then…God turns our stubborn hearts into loving ones. We get out of this rut. We turn the page. A new heart, a new life, a new purpose!

The time between hitting that bottom and getting a new heart is probably a lot longer than we care to admit. But it can happen. The Holy Spirit is working inside us constantly to change and form us into the people that God wants us to be. And our hearts are being transformed too!

Fit In You Faith Today: What comes to mind when you hear that God will take your stubborn heart and turn it into a tender and loving one? Do you feel renewed with a greater purpose? Spend some time with this passage and perhaps with the hymn I referenced (or another one!) and study the lyrics and words. Is God trying to get you to turn away from a sin that’s hardening your heart?

Your Body is a Temple

1 Corinthians 10:31

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This scripture passage is my screensaver on my iPad and laptop. Why? I found it one day while searching for some sort of guidance while dieting and trying to stick to my meal plan.

I refer to it when I’m feeling like having a huge binge or having some food that I know will not be healthy for me. So I would read this sentence over and over until it sunk in. I also remembered other passages that remind us that our bodies are our temples and you shouldn’t trash the temple (by eating junk food).

But you can also reflect on this passage a little differently and think that whatever task you do, as mundane as it may be, do it for the glory of God. Does the food you eat and the drinks you consume glorify God? Do they honor your body and your health?

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do your actions throughout the day glorify God, or do they dishonor God and yourself? Are you giving in to tempting foods and drink that you know don’t do honor to God or to your body? Treat your body and your mind as a holy temple. Visualize yourself as this temple the next time you are tempted to engage in behavior or habits that don’t glorify God.