If you see my dad, take him to church to see my Father!

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I had a conversation with some parishioners yesterday about how the Baptist church has so much better music than our church does, and that is why so many people are leaving the Catholic church and going over there to worship.  It happened while I was showing them my post from yesterday, because I wanted them to see the music that came to me yesterday as I was writing my blog.  It is funny how I don’t remember a time that I was writing and a really good chant or liturgical piece came to my mind to share.  I think the point is, that this blog is not for me, it is for the people that may one day read it, and for that reason I am led to share the music that God thinks will move others.

For me, I must remember that even though I do not think that we should see the Mass as a performance that needs to cater to the needs of those that need to be entertained, it is incumbent on me to make sure that the worship space is a place of transcendence.  The liturgy is not meant to be a performance piece that appeals to the masses, excuse the pun, but a living part of the revelation of Jesus.  What I mean is, the Mass is an extension of Jesus that should transform us, and it can do that through the grace of God in any space.  However, if the space we worship can transport the people who worship there to another place, it may be easier for them to give up their will in favor of letting God do his trans formative work in them.

Photo: First Friday Adoration yesterday was a success for those that were able to schedule some time to enjoy the company of their Savior!

As for the title of my post, if you made it this far you probably want to know why I chose to write that title, when I clearly wrote about the appearance of the sanctuary in the church vs. the music and sounds of the church.  Well, I guess I am still holding out hope that someday my dad will make the short but painful trip from his heart to his head and make a decision to follow Jesus in more than just words, but in deeds too. I pray for my salvation too, and I would very much appreciate your prayers, as well…God bless you!

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us!

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English: Painting of Maria Goretti.

English: Painting of Maria Goretti. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Father Ron was so inspiring this morning at Mass at Saint Mary Catholic Church.  I am abandoning my normal format to make sure this message gets through.  As I reflected on the readings that were chosen specifically for her optional memorial, as well as the story of her life that Father Ron had read for part of his homily, I realized that if we took the attitude of this 12-year-old girl towards the virtue of chastity, we would have very few young people who struggled with purity before marriage.  It may have been an inference that Father Ron made to the fact she is a model of purity that is much-needed in this world today, but I think the thought I had expounds on his inference.

The thought was that if every person would consider death over impurity, in other words that they would prefer to die than violate the commandment of God to save sex for the Sacrament of Matrimony.  Imagine the young man who is trying to pressure the girl he is dating to take this relationship to the next level that is told that his girlfriend would prefer that he just kill her and not violate her purity.  Understandably, this sounds crazy for those parents that have daughters that are dating the guy that might actually take her up on it.

However, if we look at this from the other side, maybe it might shine some light on the wisdom here.  What if every time a woman, young or old, was to offer her purity to a man in a way that incited his flesh to desire to take her as his own in a way that was meant for the marriage bed, he informed her that he would rather that she were to kill him, and not cause him to desire to violate her purity.  I imagine myself preferring to be stabbed in the heart with a knife, rather than ever be incited to violate a woman’s purity.

If you look at the life of Saint Maria Goretti, you may understand this line of thinking a little better.  For my part, I will probably develop this idea just a little better before I ever share it with our youth, but if we look at this line from the gospel chosen for the memorial of Saint Maria Goretti, it might shed an even brighter light on the purpose and meaning of the reference I made above to preferring death to sin.

(John 12:24-26) :  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

Furthermore, in the first reading, Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians…

(1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a):  The body, however, is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.* Do you not know that your body is a temple* of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.

Finally, the collect prayer from the beginning of Mass is the best prayer to encapsulate my hope in the intercession of Saint Maria Goretti in my life and the conversion of the whole world…

O God, author if innocence and lover of chastity, who bestowed the grace of martyrdom on your handmaid, the Virgin Saint Maria Goretti, in her youth, grant, we pray, through her intercession, that, as you gave her a crown for her steadfastness, so we, too, may be firm in obeying your commandments. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen!

God is searching for lost souls…

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Sto Antônio de Pádua

Sto Antônio de Pádua (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we lose something, we might call on the intercession of Saint Anthony to pray to God for us to help us find it. Yesterday, I attended Mass with Father Ron at Saint Mary Catholic Church, and he mentioned that sometimes he has used this intercessory prayer and it hasn’t worked. He suggested, I think correctly, that God, in his infinite wisdom , must have decided that he didn’t need to find the thing that he was searching for, so the power of the intercessory prayer was usurped by the will of God.

He also shared with us this part of the Office of Readings for yesterday, that came directly from the Second Reading from the words of Saint Anthony of Padua. I was moved by them, when I had read them earlier yesterday morning. Here are those amazing words, that, I think relate to me and this blog…

“The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.”

As we finished Mass, before we were sent out to be living examples of the grace we received in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Father Ron told us that he has a relic of Saint Anthony that he wanted to offer us a blessing with, before we are sent out. It was quite incredible that the whole church waited, very few people left right after Mass ended, so they could receive this blessing. Now, it wasn’t like we went up and kissed the relic and received tongues of fire, but it was a healing blessing that Father Ron used, and it had a great effect on me when I heard it.

Now, to my point, when our souls are lost, it is usually because we have allowed some darkness to take over our lives, where the light wants to shine through. It is my hope and I give thanks today for the deliverance I received from the evils in my life that comes as a result of this healing blessing that I received yesterday, through the intercession of Saint Anthony. I am not sure how this original prayer goes, but this is my new version that I will try to use, at least on Saint Anthony’s Feast Day, from now on.

Saint Anthony, patron saint of lost causes, thank you for interceding for me and dispelling the evil that surrounded me, and helping God find my lost soul…Amen!

Have you heard of the prophecy from Saint Malachy?

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220px-St._MalachySo, it was this mornings daily Mass readings that is prompting me to discuss the prophecy and the implications to Our Mother Church.  If you read about the prophecy, you will see that its veracity can not be verified, but it is interesting to see how many people have spent countless hours, I am sure, rationalizing the names given by the prophecy to a somewhat endless list of popes that would lead us to the 112th one, that should be the last.  If I am hearing the interpretation correctly, many people believe that Pope Francis is the last pope that is called, “Petrus Romanus” or Peter the Roman.  I won’t bore you with the reasons that I have read for the justification for Pope Francis being him, but suffice it to say that many people will be talking about it being him, partly because they hope he is the last pope, and so do I.

Why?  You may be asking yourself, why would someone be hoping for Pope Francis to be the last pope.  You may just as well ask yourself, why do we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” at every Mass that we use Eucharistic Liturgy 1.  The truth is that we know from science that the earth is passing away, and some scientists say it could last a couple 1000 more years and others say we are on the brink of destruction, at least as far as the climate is concerned.  The point is, we know that the time we have to live our own lives is short, and as believers in Jesus Christ, we would rather start spending our eternity with our God who loves us, than a world that hates us.  However, that should not concern us or cause us to despair to the point of inaction, because the world first hated Jesus, as he reminds his disciples. (See John 15:18-19)

So, for me, I love talk about the prophecy and what it all means, as long as we keep in perspective that it should be calling to live our lives more fully for Jesus Christ, in this moment and every moment for the rest of eternity.  As Our Mother told Saint Bernadette, and I’m paraphrasing, that she did not promise her comfort in this world, but in the next.  Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

How does Mom remember the story?

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Madonna by Raphael, an example of Marian art

Madonna by Raphael, an example of Marian art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gift:  Knowledge – With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God’s Revelation, especially as expressed in the life and words of Jesus Christ. A person with knowledge is always learning more about the scriptures and Tradition.

Reading:  And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. (Luke 4:22a)

Observation:  As I read the gospel reading from the Mass readings for today, I remembered that I had heard that Luke had gotten part of his gospel from listening to testimony of Mary, the Mother of God.  It should not surprise us then that in his gospel we hear of how people spoke highly of him and were amazed at his gracious words, before they got irritated at the fact that he was just the son of Joseph, the carpenter, and they could not accept what he had said of himself.  It is true for me, that my mother would usually tell a better version of my story than even I remember from growing up, and for that I am truly thankful to have her for a mother.

Personification:  Love  I hope that I can remember to focus on my mother version of the events that make up my life, and only see the bright spots of where God was trying to form me into a disciple.  As for Mary, I hope that I can see her as my spiritual Mother, so I can start to understand what pure love is and how to put the fruit of love on display to the people who I meet today.  I have to give my testimony again tonight at Saint Peter Catholic Church about how I suffered through my girlfriend’s abortion, without having any say in the decision, and as I finish this post I will call my mother to ask her to pray for me.

Prayer:  Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

 

She did it…Purged the sin from my life…At least for today…Remember, tomorrow!

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Русский: Феодоровская икона со сказанием Кострома

Русский: Феодоровская икона со сказанием Кострома (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Gift:  Knowledge – With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God’s Revelation, especially as expressed in the life and words of Jesus Christ. A person with knowledge is always learning more about the scriptures and Tradition.

 

Reading:  Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,* but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.  She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.  (Matthew 1:18,21)

 

Observation:  Why do we Catholics make such a big deal about Mary?  For me, after today it will be because she finally purged me from a sin that I was struggling with.  Before today, I did the “33 days to morning-glory” retreat, and read about how the indwelling of the holy Spirit in Mary makes her flesh worthy of honoring.  We know that she intercedes for us as our spiritual Mother, at the right hand of God, alonside her son as the queen in Heaven.

 

Personification:  Gentleness. I will display the fruit of gentleness by remembering the gentleness of our Mother, the Virgin Mary when she intercedes for me in Heaven.  She would not implore God in haste and anger, because she is in union with Him through the incarnation of His Son, Jesus.  I hope to display the same gentleness when imploring God’s people to more closely follow His will in their life, while remembering to pray for the indwelling of the holy Spirit in me, because of the consumption of His Son’s flesh in the Eucharist.

 

Prayer:  Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary, that anyone who fled to your protection, or sought your intercession, was left unaided.  Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother.  To you do I come.  Before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.  O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me…I ask for the continued grace over my family to grow into the family that God intends it to be and to be a beacon for all people displaying the love of God…I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

 

 

Imagine Paul’s teaching from Rome…It might look like this…

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Of course, this is what our imagination is fed by today…At least, I am willing to admit mine is…

Or maybe like this…This is more directly from the first reading for Today’s Mass Readings!

Prayer:  Lord, help me to see the fruit that comes from Paul’s teaching in Rome both historical and what his death is saying to us today.  Saint Paul, pray for us.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen