Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent 2014

So begins Lent 2014. This year I'm giving up junk food aka actually sticking to my weight watchers program and giving up the idea of drinking just for the hell of it which is really drinking to forget how crappy life can be at times.  As usual I will add in Liturgy of the Hours and reading books. This year's books are Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promise by Scott Hahn and Lent With Pope Benedict VI: meditations for every day.  This also means I might attempt to read the book that Scott Hahn's reflections are taken from but I might read any one of the books I have sitting in my room.  I know it's a lot to add in but it's stuff I should be doing anyway.  Of course there will be my Friday daily Mass and stations of the cross to follow that Mass. Our parish is offering Theology Tuesdays so I'll go to those and also attempt to to to Mass and the Lenten presentations at St. Paul's.  Most of this is stuff I would and should be doing anyway so it's a lot of getting back to where I was.  Mainly this Lent I want the dark cloud that seems to have a hold on my soul to go away but I know that's easier said than done. I also know that I have opened myself up to fail and I am fine with that as I know that Jesus fell while carrying the Cross but He got up and kept going so that's what I will do should I not be perfect at what I plan in doing. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The tale of two, I mean three Popes

This was initially written when Francis was elected, but I never got around to finishing it. I am not updating the first paragraph as I am lazy. The last update comes after an interesting comment was made a parish meeting I was at.  

 I wanted to write/type this shortly after Benedict abdicated from office, but never got around to it and today with the election of Pope Francis I can't help but think of all three of them, because I can't not think of JP2 when I think of pope.  One of my co-workers is wondering when my next trip to Rome is, because as you know I have to go see the Pope.

I am the JP2 generation, people forget that Pope Francis is only the third pope I have ever known and the conclave that elected him is only the second of my lifetime.  There were marked differences between my reaction to the last papal election and this one.  When John Paul the second died, I didn't know what to do or think.  The man that had been Pope for 28 years was gone, the only Pope I had known was gone.  The man I had been to three World Youth Days with and seen on a trip to Rome was gone.  There would be nothing that could compare to him or take his place.  Then along came Pope Benedict and I cried tears of joy when I heard Joseph Cardinal.... I knew my Church was save and that nothing would change.

When I head  "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum" and while translating the Latin in my head I thought, who, who did they elect.  At first I thought oh Francis, they elected a Franciscan and I thought, no I would have heard "Ioannes" and known it was O'Malley, so until EWTN said who it was I was still wondering who the heck is our Pope.  I didn't have tears of joy in eyes as I watched this at work, later that night when the sound was on and I could hear and see everything I cried just like I did when Benedict was elected. Why, because now I know that my Church will always be the same, because God's in charge.

Fr. Derek, whom I met on my last trip to Rome and who has quickly become one of my favorite priests spoke of his reaction to being in Rome for Benedict's election and how he didn't know what to do with out John Paul the Second, but all of a sudden it hit him, that this is Jesus' Church, that God is in charge, and that He will take care of it.  Thanks to this homily from Fr. Derek and the grace of God, I can now say the same thing.  What, Fr. Derek does have a few years and an extra degree on me, lol.

The above picture is from my second trip to Rome and it is one of my favorite JP2 memories because it was here that I felt the love and peace that came from this man. Nothing seemed to stop him especially when it came to the youth and for that I will forever be grateful as I was one of those youths that he brought closer into the Church.  My favorite JP2 memories have to do with me seeing him and the overwhelming feeling of joy that came over me when I saw him.  

This picture is from my favorite Pope Benedict memory.  I consider myself a papal event veteran aka a snob, I know what I'm doing and I know how to do it.  There was something about this Mass that just spoke to my heart.  It was a Sunday Mass in the den of the devil,  I mean Yankee Stadium (I'm a Mets fan in cause you couldn't tell) and it felt like a Sunday Mass it didn't feel like the crazy massively large World Youth Day Masses.  I guess this was were my love of Pope Benedict was fostered, see I never saw the man as this hard hitting teacher, just a man who loved his church and the liturgy that went with it.  I admit that I am a liturgy snob and if the slightest thing is off it irks me, yes I am a traditionalist aka a don't mess with the Roman Missal type Catholic.  I saw Benedict when I was in Rome  as you can see below.  In Rome I looked for the same feelings I got with JP2 and didn't get them and I wondered why; what was  different.  See in Rome this time I did something I have never done before I put my camera down and away in my bag and watched Pope Benedict drive within touching distance of me.  While the felling of "stupid Asian woman with the damn flag" was the most present thought it wasn't until later that I realized what a blessing this trip was.  Seeing Benedict many not have given the same feelings as when I saw JP2, but now looking back on both events that took place in the Eternal City, well technically it was the Vatican, the same ear to ear grin comes to my face and a sense of peace comes over me and a few tears come to my eyes too.  

I love both of these men, JP2 make the Church young and friendly to me, ok the priests I met and got to know along the way have helped with that too.  Benedict helped to love the traditions of the Church and kept the liturgist and traditionalist in me happy.  

I've watched with joy and trepidation what Pope Francis is doing.  I know that he's teachings are what the Church teaches, but I can't help but wonder as my pastor put it, does he know what he's doing.  There are so many aspects of Pope Francis that I love, but there are aspects that I don't like as well.  The media seems to love him like they have loved no Pope before and that scares me because I don't trust the media. 

 Everything that Pope Francis says and I mean everything is being published via the internet or some other thing. The most recent comment directed towards the pro-life movement or the heavy focus on abortion; bothers me.  I don't like hearing people say "abortion is not a litmus test to being Catholic."  They are right it's not a litmus test but I can not comprehend how someone can say they are Catholic and support anything that claims killing an innocent child is ok.  I get that we need to think about the teaching of the Church and we are allowed to question them but I can't help but wonder what is Francis' plan here.  I am in a country that is now forcing me to pay taxes under the guise of universal healthcare where I have to pay for something that I am morally opposed to.  I am called a hater and a bigot because I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.  I am now hearing the media say that my Pope is telling me to stop focusing on abortion, and marriage, but I can't as those are my issues.  I am Catholic and I have no other church to run to because I am not leaving the Eucharist or the Church that Jesus Himself started but I can't help but wonder what will happen the moment the leader of said Church finally says something ex-cathedra.

My bishop puts it this way, "He is reforming the way the world sees Catholicism." For everyone's sake I hope my bishop is correct.  Francis is reforming the way the media sees Catholicism, but I can't help but wonder if that's a bad thing.  Fulton Sheen said something along these lines, "There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believeto be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing."  As I thought before, the Church does not kick people out or turn people away; those that leave the Catholic Church have done so on their own because there is something that they don't agree with it.  Those doors are always open as they always have been.  Our first vocation is to love one another and maybe that is what Francis is getting at.  God has a plan and I know everything will work out but I am left here wondering what is the plan.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent 2013

I was initially going to blog about the tale of two popes and that will come later but for now I'm going down the "oh it's Lent, let me blog about it" road.

Every one seems to ask me "What did you give up for Lent?" or "What are you giving up for Lent?" I usually answer with a I don't know yet, because I don't normally give something up. I did give up candy and sweets as a child, and I often gave up something like soda during college. It worked I don't drink as much soda or eat at much candy as I have, but when it boils down to it, I go right back to that which I gave up on Easter Sunday. As in years past I looked to add something this year. I will once again try to say liturgy of the hours every day, I did try this as a New Year's resolution as well and it worked well, until I got lazy and stopped for a week and then Lent came so I added it back in. This year's Lenten promise to myself and to God is to get back to Adoration of sorts. Not in the formal way, which I would love, but in the informal way of just walking into a Catholic Church and sitting there with the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. As my bishop, Bishop Serratelli, says, "just walk in and spend five minutes with the Blessed Sacrament." 

Recently I spent 3 wonderful days on retreat with the parish youth group teens and told them that this is what I plan on doing for Lent, walking into the church and spending time with the Blessed Sacrament.  Easier said than done, but I've decided that I will just show up early for Mass, or Fr. Ray's presentations and spend time with Jesus that way.  Then again going to daily Mass is also something I add in each year.  Yes I take the easy way out and go on my days off, but I'll make more of an effort to actually get to St. Paul Inside the Walls for daily Mass on the days that I have something down there.  

I also plan on the eating better thing, but I've been doing that for a few weeks now; mainly actually watching what I eat and how much I eat.  I do plan on starting Couch to 5k again and I'm usually pretty good at it when Lent is involved.  I feel as if there is something else pushing me to do it as well. Granted the idea of adding extra point to eat (I'm doing Weight Watchers) is almost enough to get me running again.  

I've also decided to re-read The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis and to read The Gargoyle Code by Fr. Dwight Longnecker.  I've wanted to read Father's book and found the digital version of it, so it is now on the iPad and I read a "letter" a day as it's set for Lent.  I'm enjoying both books and watching both men make fun of the Devil and his evil spirits.  It also opens my eyes to how Evil works in the world and makes me more aware of what I an doing and what might be influencing me. 

So I guess for Lent I am giving up being lazy and adding more in spiritually.  I'm often reminded of Fr. Bill telling us while at Seton Hall about his nephew who would ask "Uncle Billy, did you give up yet?" instead of what did you give up, granted this nephew is probably now in college or out of it. Not an Ash Wednesday goes by where I don't think of this comment.  As Fr. Bill said, "no I haven't given up yet."  I'm also reminded of something else Fr. Bill said to me years later.  "Mar, we're not perfect, do something extra for Holy Week, just make an extra effort to do it."  

We're not perfect and I don't expect my Lent to be perfect nor should I.  I know I will probably fall and fail at what I plan as now that I look at it I've opted for a lot of things to do.  I didn't give up anything but I am adding in more to better me as a Christian and most especially a Catholic. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Is there really a "choice"

As a way to start blogging again, I decided to partake in Ask Them What They Mean by Choice Day. It seems the pro-abortion side while trying to move away from using the work choice is laying claim to it today. I guess the pro-lifers have gotten to them over the past 40 years. I mean nothing, nothing stops the pro-life side from marching on DC even if it means moving the March for Life to another day because of the Presidential Inraguation.

Before I get into the whole why am I pro-life story, I want to share the wisdom of my 8 year old nephew and 10 year neice. They happened to stay over a few days ago and when it was time to go to bed they asked me to pray with them as is our little tradition. So I lead them, well my niece joined in, in the traditional prayers of the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Angel of God. I follow those up with the "who do we want to pray for question and my niece responds with "everyone and everything, that should cover everybody." I said, "ok, and added in "for safe travels for those going to DC this week." Of course that illicted the "What's in DC this week?" question. They knew about the inraguation or I just skipped over it and I said the March for Life. Of course "what's that?" was asked. I explained it as "that is when thousands of people who think abortion is wrong get together in DC." Yes, "what's abortion?" was asked and I said "the killing of an innocent pre-born child." Both my niece and nephew were confused by this and I tried to explain that sometimes someone doesn't want a baby. Then came the words of wisdom from the 8 year old, "who wouldn't want a baby?"

I took the lazy way out and said I'll explain what it is when you are older, but I realize that they both understood what I meant and that it was the idea of someone not wanting a baby that confused them. Granted I said "well mommy and I made it, others didin't it." They asked why are we here, I answered with because your mom chose life and because we love you.

What I don't understand is how a young child can get it, "who wouldn't want a baby" and a grown adult claims there is a choice in the matter. Well yes, there's a choice to have sex, there is no choice in killing your child.

I will chose to march on DC this Friday, along with two teens and two adults from my parish. The two teens have become my pride and joy this year. Both are so strongly Catholic and pro-life that it makes me burst and I can't wait to experieine the March with them.

We are chosing to be a voice for the voiceless, we are chosing to take a trip to DC. Those are choices, killing your child is not a "choice."

I continue to pray for those affected and tramuatized by abortion. I will also contine to pray for an end to abortion and a respect of life in all stages.

March for life 2013, here we come.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I haven't disappeared, I'm still around

Fr. Jim's most recent homily ( sparked in me part of why I've been away from my blog for so long.  I know that not many out there read it and those that do I probably don't even know, however one of these that used to read it along with most of her family have "unfriended" me and they honestly made up most of the audience who actually read it. Long story short I went to a wedding that the former best friend had decided that I didn't need to or should go to so she and half of her family no longer talk to me, some do and they probably hear about it all the time, but whatever.  I'm no longer hiding behind what happened.  Yes, most of the fault probably does fall with me, but I do no regret what I did.  I was the bigger person.

Fr. Jim's right it's a shock to find that you've been unfriended especially when it was left that you might actually be able to talk to the person and they just up and click a button and end a friendship.  Fr. Jim's homily adds to Fr. Derek's comment of God gives and He takes away what isn't good for us.  See I was such a horrible friend by going to the wedding that the countless trips and sleepovers and free babysitting I did for the former best friend was all forgotten.  Being there for her at her wedding and the insanity that surrounded it, doesn't matter anymore.  The 13 years or whatever it was wasn't matter because I disagreed with her on something for the first time in what was a best friendship.

I've had a lot of priests be a part of my life.  Fr. Jim's is mainly an internet friendship as it's on Facebook and blogs that we interact however I've come to realize that the world between Diocese of Paterson and Archdiocese of Newark is quite small and Fr. Jim and I have many mutual friendships as Facebook calls them.  Oddly Fr. Geno makes that an international world now as he's working on the Council for Evangelization.  Fr. Geno is one of these priests that no matter how hard one tries to shake they can't.  I will forever "blame" Fr. Geno aka FG for who and what I am.

FG started the youth ministry program that I was a part of in high school and am now proudly helping to run at the parish.  When he left the parish I was at Seton Hall, so I wasn't overly attached to the home parish, but I still looked forward to FG's homilies and masses when I came home on the weekends.  We in essence went our separate ways after my freshman years at SHU until our worlds reconnected a few years ago at a "small" place known as St. Paul's Inside the Walls.

Bishop Serratelli tasked FG with building an Evangelization Center, and that they did.  Through St. Paul's I got to see the crazy priest that I knew in high school acting in much the same way as he did back then.  Before he left for Rome and the Vatican FG had an overnight retreat for certain young adults that were hand picked to be there.  The topic was friendships in Christ and how they affect our lives.

During the retreat Fr. Geno talked about trust, friendships, prayer, and of course God.  Looking back on it, God was giving the grace to finally say goodbye to the 13 year friendship that maybe one day will return but for now it won't.  Fr. Derek in one of our "classes" on catechesis as Evangelization talked about the Dark Night of the Soul and how the further away God seems the closer we are to Him.  During one of these sessions he said something along the lines of "God gives us friendships and sometimes He takes them away.  God takes away things that might seem good for us but may not be."  I thought of the former best friend and said yes yes He does.  Fr. Derek's comment came before Fr. Geno's retreat, but they all tie into me reading Fr. Jim's blog and saying, yes it is odd and a shock when you get de/unfrieneded on Facebook.

I've been busy with St. Paul's and learning more about Evangelization and ways to get people back to and into the Catholic Church.  I'm spending my Sunday evening with the greatest joys in my life, the parish teens, showing them that being Catholic is serious but it's also alot of fun.  I'm one again teaching in the Confirmation program, I'm still an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and active at the parish on a few committees, so yes I'm busy and don't usually have time to sit and blog. Work is work and keeps me busy from 9am-7pm.

I'm still around but when I'm not in front of the computer (or iPad and wireless keyboard) I'm at work, or at the parish or at St. Paul's sharing and learning more about the Catholic faith.

So with the drama of the last year and a half finally out on the internet I hope to return to blogging but I know it won't be conssistent.

Friday, August 31, 2012

election 2012

I wrote the following 4 years ago during the last presidential campaign season my thought have not changed just that I failed in not electing Obama as president.  I will start pryaing earlier and more often for the outcome of this election.  God help us if we have 4 more years of Obama in office, I fear for Catholic hospital, school, parish and other organizations as they will no longer exist with him in office, but no one seems worried about that.

Dear Mr. Obama,

I wish to tell you, that I find your stance on abortion deplorable and utterly offensive to women. When you speak for and to the youth of this country and the women who you wish to give national coverage too, I want you to know that you do not represent me. There is no way in hell that I would vote for a person who believes that killing babies under the guise of abortion and women's rights is correct and morally acceptable. Rest assured that I will do everything in my power to not, that's right NOT get you elected. I will pray that your Christian heart is turned so that you can see how evil abortion is. Don't expect me to believe a word that comes out of your mouth. It is insulting to believe that someone who was given the right to live by his own mother would turn and tell a woman what to do with her body. That's right I'm turning the classic pro-abortion argument back on the movement, Planned Parenthood was created to get rid of "your people" aka the blacks in this country. Yes, Margaret Sanger was a racist and wanted to see the African-American population killed off, hence why Planned Parenthood killing centers are usually found in inner-city neighborhoods.

I also find it absurd that one day you would be behind your pastor and the next day resign from your church as if it was some political office. Religion is not something to toss around lightly, especially a belief in Christ and His teachings.

May God have mercy on you, me and this country for what it is doing.

A concerned 28 year old female

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Confirmation and part of why I heart my Bishop

Confirmation was about a month ago at the parish and yes as I do with most of the blogs, I type the highlights of what I want to talk about and then step away from the computer.

I've known my bishop for awhile.  I still remember my first encounter with Fr. Serratelli on that March for Life Bus in January of 1998.  I remember when he became Msgr. Serratelli and I certainly remember taking a summer session week long course with him my junior year so I could have enough credits to be a senior and get the hell out of Seton Hall.  Yes, I was insane enough as an undergraduate to take a graduate level course with a man who knows Scripture like the back of his hand.   Wonderfully for me, I was naive enough to not realize what I was really doing and when it came down to it, then Msgr. Serratelli was very nice, and kind and maybe it was because I was an undergraduate but I enjoyed that class and was not one bit scared of the oral exam he gave as a final.  I remember sitting in the Seminary dinning room and hearing him say "It's like Daniel entering the lion's den. Imagine we're over in Campus Ministry having a conversation."  Thus began my personal interaction with the man who is currently my bishop.

I take great joy in saying I know the Bishop of Paterson and I take even more joy in knowing that he knows my name and hasn't forgotten it like he usually blames his miter for.  Fr. Geno's comments at his Mass of Thanksgiving about our Bishop, well it's a sort of lack of comments, because FG didn't say much, but his reaction while mentioning Bishop Serratelli showed his love and passion for the man he calls "boss" (for a few more weeks) and the man I call "Pappa Arty, I mean Bishop" This action reminded me of how much I love my bishop and how much it pains me to hear people talk disparagingly about him.  I know Bishop moves the priests around a lot and that my parish seems to get the brunt of it, but that doesn't mean he doesn't like us.  I'm tired of people complaining that this one doesn't do this and this one doesn't do that.  Own up to your actions and thoughts, get to know the person, attempt to get to know the person before you just say he doesn't like us so I don't like him.

I know my personal connection makes it for a lack of better terms, personal, when someone attacks Bishop.  I know it's that time of year and we're bound to have yet another change in staff at the parish, but we just have to deal with it.  Maybe Bishop only wants the guys to have a year or two at a bitchy parish and then move them on, I mean really nothing can be worse than a place that complains about everything.

Oh well before I get totally off topic the original intent of the blog was about the homily Bishop Serratelli gave at Confirmation.  I only remember portions of it, but Bishop does not preach for long but he gets his point across.  Bishop started his homily out with the legend of Quo Vadis, where Peter while leaving Rome meets Jesus and asks "Lord, where are you going?" to which Jesus replies, "To Rome to be crucified again." Of course Peter gains his confidence and returns to Rome to where he faces his eventual martyrdom.  This story always reminds me of Seton Hall and my Latin class, so Bishop had hooked me in.  The basis of his homily is that we should always be living our lives as a follower of Jesus, meaning that the sacrament doesn't end at the ceremony but that it continues on.  The comment live your life as a follower of Jesus struck me as yes Bishop was preaching to teens who face far more issues than I did at their age, but it's true for all of us.  It reminds me of the question "Is there enough evidence to convict me of being Christian, or in my case Catholic?"

That is what stayed with me from Bishop's homily. It's not in his preaching, though it is good, that Bishop excels, but at his questions and answers session. In the question and answer session you get to see Bishop's passion for teaching come out, you get to see the personable side of him come out.  It always leads to the vocations speech, but hey he's the bishop, he's got to talk about vocations. This time it wasn't the vocation to priesthood or religious life that he spend his time on, but the vocation of marriage. Bishop spoke about how one is called to marriage in the same way that one is called to religious life and how each vocation comes with it's ups and downs.  He spoke of how no vocation is easy, but that there is joy in the vocation.  I remember thinking this is what he was talking about at the Chrism Mass of how if the priests are on fire and are full of joy that the lay people will follow suite.  I sat there as he said the vocation will not be easy, you'll have to do things you don't like, give things up, but there will be joy.

Joy seems to be a buzz word right now.  Fr. Geno mentioned it, Bishop has mentioned it and our Holy Father speaks of how there is a poverty of joy in the world.  As I type this I keep looking down and seeing the memorial card for Fr. Jim Sheehan, who passed away last August after a battle with cancer.  The picture on the card shows the joy in which Fr. Jim served the Archdiocese of Newark.  Looking back on all the priests I have meet in my life, the ones that I have come to know and love have much joy in what they do and in life.  Bishop Serratelli may not always enjoy his job, but he is a joyful person, same goes for the pastor of the parish.

I can't help but think that some day soon I'll be doing work for and in the Church.  I know it won't be easy but it is joyful work.

May God continue to bless and watch over my wonderful Bishop, priests and of course the Holy Father.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I heart my Pastor

I realize that I jumped from we're getting new priests to my pastor's homily from Ash Wednesday.

Fr. Ray is my favorite pastor, mainly for his I don't give a damn attitude.  I know he cares he just seems able to let the annoyances roll of his back the way water rolls off a duck's back.  I love that he says Mass and does liturgy correctly as in from the Roman Missal and doesn't care what others think about that.

Let me start from the beginning as that is a good place to start. When Fr. Ray first came I was torn because the man has a very thick exterior and I couldn't actually tell if he liked me or not and I couldn't tell if I liked him or not. I was leaning towards liking him, but I wasn't a hundred percent sure. I try to always look for the bright side and aspects of the new guys who come to the parish. I was constantly fighting the majority of the parish in liking the poor man and I still am. I finally got the chance to sit and talk with him on our youth ministry  retreat.

I was starting to see myself join the ranks of those it liking him, but I understand the man is busy running a parish, working as the archivist for the diocese and also as a professor at the seminary at Seton Hall.  So as someone who has had a church job and also multiple jobs at once, I know it is not easy to focus on one job all the time, so I was desperately looking for that one on one time and got it in the form of the Sacrament of Confession at our retreat.  I had finally seen the personal side of the pastor and loved it.

I was tasked with promoting my pastor when he first came to the parish by a priest in the diocese whom I love dearly.  So I took on that task and continue to do so today.  I will defend my pastor and his "lack of being at everything the parish does" because I know deep down he actually likes what he does and that he likes me. 

This was the first year I was able to partake in the Triduum fully at the parish and it was amazing.  Everything was done out of the Roman Missal and it was the first time in quite a while that I enjoyed being at the parish for said events.  At the Triduum and after our Lenten Tuesday night Catechism meetings I realized that all it took to get to know the pastor was to go to the events he was running.  He much like our dear Bishop is a teacher and full of knowledge, a knowledge that I one day would love to have.  I'm on the parish Liturgy Committee and I took those minutes I had in the "confessional" to finally get my say out about how annoyed I was with some of the things the committee was saying and how I felt about the state of the Confirmation program and about evangelization at the parish.  I laid it all out including the story of how I came to be on the Liturgy Committee and how I was the only one who would sit next to the pastor, and oddly at the next meeting Fr. Ray sat next to me and I know he wanted to sit next to me at the last meeting too, but the Committee is much like Church, your seat doesn't change and no one moves from their said spot.  So when Fr. George left and Fr. Martin came in Fr. Martin sat in the corner which is now Fr. Ray's spot whether he wants it or not.  

I'm tired of hearing people bitch and moan about the pastor, I keep wanted to say have you asked him to come over, he's not a mind reader.  He can't know what you're thinking of that you want him at everything.  We can't expect him to be at everything, it's just not possible. 

I know where I stand as at the end of Easter Vigil I make a point of saying hello and Happy Easter to the priests and deacons. I had talked to both vicars, and seen my top two deacons so I decided I should go say hi to the pastor as I probably won't see him tomorrow. I walked out and as he was talking to two of the Sisters who teach in the school, he turns and says, "Happy Easter Mary" and leaned in for the classic greeting/kiss.  It had taken 9 months but he finally used my name and despite all my joking of "oh no he actually knows my name" it was great.  The conversation then followed about the light that was on me as lector during the Vigil, it was a touch blinding as no other lights were on.  

The next day, other wise known as Easter Sunday meant that I was lector and EM at our gym Mass.  I got there early and no one, other than the choir, was in the gym which was weird but I went with it.  I was going over the prayers of the faithful as there was no deacon at the Mass and I would have to read them.  I apparently forgot how to read and just skimmed them as I didn't notice that one was repeated, I just noticed that it was crossed out, I asked our vicar if he knew why it was crossed out and he said no, maybe Msgr. knows.  Fr. Ray, in cassock and surplice, looked at me and said "it's repeated" I said, oh guess I should have read the whole page.  He followed up with she changed what I had written, I said I'm not surprised and went to but the binder back.  Fr. Ray was over to greet the people who were at Mass, a first for a pastor of our parish to actually do.  

A few weeks later we had Confirmation,  I as a catechist in the program was there to support my teens from youth ministry and those I actually taught.  I had gotten a random email asking me if I would serve as a "cup bearer" at Mass.  I said I'm around to serve as EM if necessary.  I walked into the sacristy and Fr. Ray greets me with "Miss Woolley, what can we do for you?"  I was thinking oh no he knows the last name too.  All kidding aside, I knew he knew my name, he just never called me by it.  The conversation continued with me asking about the set up for EMs and we discussed what would happen.  

I've found that since the youth ministry retreat Fr. Ray and I are both more friendly to one another, maybe it's the I understand your issues with the parish Father, I have the same ones or it's that I said but I like your ideas.  

His homilies are excellent, I haven't blogged about a homily since Fr. Brian was here.  For me it's just nice to have a pastor I feel comfortable being a smart ass around, I certainly couldn't do that with the last pastor, and Fr. George and I was friendly but we didn't see eye to eye on everything, I have a feeling that Fr. Ray and I would and do see eye to eye on everything.  

At the Triduum it just dawned on me that he had very quickly become my favorite pastor and that was a spot long held by Fr. George, who do a lot for me and to keep me in the parish.  I nearly walked away from the parish while it was under the last pastor, but I kept at it and because of Fr Ray I stayed.  When Fr. Ray came I had heard you're going to love him, he's great for your parish, and all of that good stuff from people who knew him.  I tried and keep an open mind and heart about it and sure enough I got to know the man slightly and lo and behold he is great for our parish and I do love him, now I hope he stays. He's not afraid to come and say and teach Church teaching.  He'll call out the New York Times on an ad, he'll tell you why abortion is wrong.  Maybe that's why I like him, he's authentic Catholic and not afraid to teach and defend Holy Mother Church.  

Hear that Bishop Serratelli, no moving my pastor, you can take one of the vicars, just not the one I like and send us the awesome deacon we had over the summer.  ;)  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ash Wednesday

So I started this post back on Ash Wednesday so I wouldn't forget Fr. Ray's homily.  I didn't forget the homily  but I am glad I wrote it down so I can blog slightly about it.

Let me back up a touch seeing as I have been away from here for nearly a year.  See a fair bit has happened over the past year and most of the stuff (read: blogging, crocheting, watching tv) brought with it good but sad memories, friends have come and gone.  Now that a year has past since that eventual day and there seems to be no returning to that friendship, why not at least try to get back to what I enjoyed.  The lack of blogging also stemmed from the lack of quality homilies at the parish as I used to blog about that the priests spoke about.

Our new pastor is amazing, I love him dearly, he has become my favorite pastor of all time and he's only been here 9 months.  It's like we had to give birth to the friendship or something.  More on him later, literally as I'm sure he'll play a big part in this blog.

I've been busy with work and more importantly youth ministry at the parish.  The teens of our parish are truly a gift to the parish and most especially the 3 of us "adults" who work with them on a weekly basis.  The teens can make me smile no matter my mood.  Anyway, I'm going to turn this into an Ash Wednesday, Triduum, Easter blog of sorts.

So Ash Wednesday I went begrudgingly to Mass, mainly because I knew I was going to surrounded by those that show up simply to get something and no matter how many times I say to myself, "at least they are here, maybe they'll return to the church." the bitch in me wins out and I grumble to myself and whine about how badly   people don't know the responses, how crappy the music it and over all how annoyed I am.  Then our pastor comes along and gives a homily about 3 types of people.  Now the homily was a while ago but I'm going to try and remember it as best I can.

So he talks about one of his first assignments as a priest and how there was a fire at the parish that gutted the church building.  He spoke of three types of people who came that night to see what was going on.  The first group of people were spectators, those that just show up to see what's happening, the next group are those that show up and lament over what they don't have anymore and don't come back, and the final group are those that show up and start planning the future and how to rebuild. I sat there thinking, how the hell is he going to get away with calling out those who are apart of groups one and two without pissing them off and I told him as much afterwards and that I was impressed with how well he got his point across.  He compared us to the groups: group number one those that just show up for the ashes, group number two those that come one or twice and don't come back and the third group those that come week after week. I sat there knowing that there were plenty of people there that only showed up to see what was going on, and plenty more who were out because they were getting something from the Church, I also knew that there was a good portion of group number three there too, as I and a few others who are very active in the parish were there.

Fr. Ray did a great job of saying while we all should fall into group 3 we don't always and he went on to explain how we fall into those groups.  Seeing as that homily was over 40 days ago and I still remember the basic idea of it I'm pretty damn impressed with his homily skills.

Ok I lied, I'm tired so this is only going to be an Ash Wednesday blog.  Hey at least I'm actually typing again.  ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Somethings never change, damn spiral staircase

I wrote this seven years ago and par for the course not much has changed as I am on that damn spiral staircase constantly going through and over the same old shit. Yes, I have "updated" it to add what has happened over those seven years but the sentiment is still the same.

I look around my room and see things and books that remind me of a faith I once had and wonder where it has gone. Where has my child-like-ness gone? I see "My Life on the Rock" and wonder how many rocks I have to climb and fall over. I see "Witness of Hope" and wonder where my hope has gone, and what could I possibly be witnessing to. I see "In the Presence of the Lord" and wonder where that Presence has gone. What was once so close seems and is so far away. I see "Lord Have Mercy" and "A Father Who Keeps His Promises" mutter a short prayer and wonder where and what those promises are knowing that God's mercy is there somewhere but is hidden to me. I see "First Comes Love" and think of all the different types of love out there and wonder if they are worth it. I see pictures of friends who are no longer friends and wonder was it worth it. Is it worth opening the wounds so freshly made to simply know you are not alone? Is it worth bearing one's soul and wearing one's heart on one's sleeve so that someone else does not have to go through or know the pain?

There are signs and glimpses of a faith that was once there, but they often fade away as quickly as they come. I am constantly reminded of what could have been, what should have been. I will forever be that black sheep who never seems to fit in. I am on the outside looking in trying to find my way back in and wonder if it will ever happen.

A Dark Night of the Soul is not something often if ever talked about because most do not and will not understand it. To know and see God, to feel His Presence and then lose it all only to see tiny glimpses of it return is not something easily forgotten or gotten over.

Questioning who and what one believes is normal. I believe what I believe because I believe, I just miss that child-like faith. One day I will understand.