Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Go check out the link http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/columns/story?columnist=hays_graham&id=3372631
I will eventually cut and paste the story, but for now I'm being lazy. I will also add in the quote from Papa B16 that Padre Brian used. It was a comment the Pope made about the Ascension and how we enter Jesus when we enter Heaven. I am doing it no justice, I'm just putting in some key words so I can find it later on. I e-mail Fr. Brian and asked where he got the quote from.
Speaking of Papa B16, his speeches and homilies from his trip to the US are quite easy to read and digest, which I did not expect!
Friday, April 25, 2008
The day went very smoothly considering what could have gone wrong. I guess I should really start with the ticket story, I blogged a few entries ago about maybe having a ticket to the Mass, that was a Monday evening. Tuesday morning I was told it was up in the air and that the lady who was offered the ticket had already said she didn't need it. Anyway she calls me on Tuesday takes my name, social security number and date of birth so they can "make sure I'm not a terrorist." I assured her that my background as far I knew was clean, considering how many times it was check for all the schools I worked at. Anyway she said she'd know by Wednesday probably Thursday if her captain could get the ticket. The logical part of me is thinking there is no way this ticket is still around, but my gut feeling was it's still around. Well Friday morning I got a call from the woman, and not only did I get one ticket, but I got two tickets. So I took my mom with me. It was only fitting considering all she and my father have done for me and how many times they sent me to World Youth Days and to Rome so I could see JP2.
So on Friday afternoon I had to drive to this lady's house, which was a good 45/50 mins away from my house. Thank God for navigation systems, the GPS was awesome! So my mom and I dropped my nephew off at school and continued on our way to get the tickets. Once I got the tickets I needed to plan out our day on Sunday, as we had to make our own way into the city. That was done thanks to NJ Transit's webpage and NYC's MTA's webpage.
Going to the Archdiocese of New York for Mass was a coming home of sorts for me. All of my sacraments, well the ones I have received so far, have been conferred on me via the Archdiocese of NY, so I was coming home to my Church. It was strange as all of my other papal events involved JP2, and I kept wanted to bust out the Giovanni Paulo chant not the Benedicto chant. So that make it a bit strange. I wasn't moved to tears like I thought I would be, I was overly excited to see Papa B16, but it wasn't the same. I must say that even with this this being my 4th papal Mass it was the first Mass I felt was like a Mass. I know the other ones were World Youth Day (WYD) Masses and therefore massive, but there was always a feeling of me being unprepared and other things for Mass. 1 million people vs. 60,000 is a pretty dig difference. The age group was completely different too. Some other reasons could be that we camped out the night before and left before Mass in Paris, so this was really my 3rd Papal Mass, and camped out in Rome and Toronto. Rome was ok, Toronto had a highly spiritual battle going on around me, so I guess this Mass was really the first one I could be calm at, the first one I would have a "seat" for, the first one I could dress "up" for, the first one where I could feel like I was at Mass. That's what I noticed, this Mass felt like a Mass, I was able to block out the annoy things around me, and remind myself that it was a Mass. I think talking to Fr. Brian about perfection helped, I keep reminding myself that I like everyone else am not perfect, and I turned to Cardinal Cooke's, fitting as he was Cardinal Archbishop of NY when I was a baby, example of offering up something for the souls of Purgatory and well they seemed to work.
Looking back on my reactions to the Cardinals I can see the "POPEY POPEY POPEY!!!" person in me. I was literally standing on a chair to see over the people in front of me. My mother did tell me that the people next to us would think I was nuts, so I guess the me from WYD did show up, but I think I was more interested in my mom's reaction. I knew what was going to happen it wasn't my first papal event. I did find it strangely amusing the attitudes of people at the Mass, well before Mass anyway. I know that Mass was at a non-traditional site, but NY did an awesome job of making that skanky stadium look well suited for Mass. I knew I was in a baseball stadium, but I didn't feel like I was. Maybe that was God's grace yet again working in my life, or it comes with practice of being able to focus on what's going on at Mass so one feels like they are at Mass.
Anyhoo, back to the actual event. I had a nagging feeling that we should be on the first train out of Hawthorne aka H-town, and that was at 6:39am, and the damn thing was 2 mins early by my watch. No big deal, when it's something like that I'm actually early for it. We got into Penn Station about an hour later so we stopped for some good ole Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and some caffeine. We decided to actually sit and eat vs. bringing it with us. We had pleanty of time to get to the stadium. We got to Yankee Stadium well before the 9am gate opening, but we were not alone. We were shuffled along by the NYPD, who asked us to have our tickets out so they could tell us where to go and that's exactly what I did and they told us where to go. By getting there then we didn't have to deal with the protesters who were out. There were a few pro-test-ants aka protestants those Christian people. Actually these morons probably weren't even Christian. A few of the signs caused me to be a smart ass. One asked if I knew Jesus and I said yes I did, I was just at Mass with Him. Another said Constantine was the first Pope and I said no Peter was, read your Bible! Yes it was the signs that asked not the people who were holding them doing the asking.
Oh well, I'm starting to babble, I'm trying to kill time while some pictures from the blessed event print, but I'm just going to get loopy so I'll stop for now and let you ponder the crazies that were outside protesting the Holy Father and the Church.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I loved it, and despite the many "I don't want to go back to this" comments I heard, I wouldn't mind bringing back parts of the Mass, like how Communion was received, it was so much easier to receive on one's tongue while kneeling vs. standing. I was quite impressed that I could follow along with the Latin side of the program they gave us. Maybe it's my weekly Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist duties that are finally getting to me, but it was nice to just sit and enjoy Mass vs. having to jump over people to get out to distribute Communion.
Even though we are a Novus Ordo church the women coming to the Mass were asked to wear something on their head. I wore my big purple shawl that also covered the top part of me. I wasn't wearing it on my head when I walked into the Church and some guy in attendance gave me a look, I placed it on my head once I got settled. I might have also gotten the look because I was one of very few "young people" at the Mass. Considering it was a Saturday afternoon Mass I was impressed with how well dressed the majority of people in attendance were. I think I saw two women wearing jeans, everyone else was in skirts, or dress pants and nice tops, most of the men were in pants, shirts, and jackets. I wonder what happens when these same people go to Mass on Sunday.
As you will see in this picture our church still has it's "back altar" in place, and when the comment "I wonder if they will want the back altar" was made to our liturgy committee last Monday I responded with "knowing the fraternity they will want the back altar." I nearly said, what else would they use, but I know better than to be sarcastic with my pastor in those cases. I do find it amusing that the conversation was pretty much ended once I added my comment in.
The altar was very nicely decorated, well undecorated as we had to take the flowers down and honestly the altar is gorgeous on it's own. The tabernacle which is covered by a white cloth, I apologize for not knowing the technical name, and don't feel like looking it up at the moment, is the tabernacle that we use on a daily basics, so it was nice to see it used like this too. As you can see we are still decorated for the Easter season, and normally the back altar has flowers on the top part of it. The altar we normally use is the one in the front. Fr. Brian, our parochial vicar made a comment when we were discussing that the back altar would probably be used and it amused me, while it annoyed others. The comment was "the altar is not a flower holder." I love my vicar and would have loved to see him partake in this Mass, but the Holy Father trumped and he was in attendance with a few teens from the parish at the Papal Youth Rally. I don't think the comment was directed at how our church is normally decorated, I think he was simply stating what the priest from the Fraternity of St. Peter would say and honestly it's true and people need to stop getting their panties in a bunch. I also find it strangely amusing that I was the only one from the committee at the Mass, and that is simply because I got tickets to the Papal Mass on Sunday.
Fr. Joesph Howard FFSP, from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter was the main celebrant of the Mass, considering this is the Mass he says on a regular basis. Our pastor, Fr. George is on the side and I was excited to see him in full cassock and to have his biretta with him. While I have no idea what Fr. Howard was saying or doing at this point, I was able to follow the Schola Cantorum while they chanted. It was a high Mass which was great and I found the way Fr. Howard incensed the altar interesting, ovbiously he couldn't walk around the whole altar like the Novus Ordo Mass allows, but he stopped at the ends and incensed it there. I don't know why I found it so interesting, but I did.
I enjoyed watching Msgr., hence the red on the cassock and biretta, aka Fr. George partake in the Mass because he had to take the biretta on and off and carry it in. Again the simpliest things amuse me and keep me entertained. The young man, the altar boy, next to him was telling us when to sit and stand, that really amused me because at most "big" Masses it's Fr. George doing that. I must add that while I don't have a picture of him, there was one young altar boy who my mom and I both commented on how well he knew what he was doing. I also noticed how reverent this young man was especially when incensing the priest, servers and the rest of the people. I hope that he has a vocation, because that is what I thought when I saw him. I also found it interesting that Fr. George put his stole on for the Eucharistic prayer and took it off if I remember correctly before he went to receive Communion. Fr. George was the second person to receive Communion, the first being Fr. Howard, and Fr. George had to kneel directly in front of Fr. Howard who was directly in front of the tabernacle. Quite an impressive and humbling site.
Fr. Howard during the homily re-read the readings in English and spoke on the traditions of why the reading were picked and explained how we would receive Communion at the rail in front of the Blessed Mother statue, on our knees and on our tongues. I did find it amusing that the picture of Benedict 16th was also placed on that side and if it wasn't for him, the Latin Mass would not have been at our parish as Fr. Howard pointed out. It's also appropriate that it was the Fraternity that said the Mass as they began at the request of then Cardinal Ratzinger.
In this last picture Fr. Howard could be reading the Last Gospel, I'm not a hundred percent sure. Either way it's a great picture of how awesome his vestments are.
Over all the Mass was a great experience, and the only thing that was missing was the people's responses being in our booklet. While those like my parents would remember them, those like me who very rarely have been to a Latin Mass didn't know them. I told Fr. Howard that I know his chapel well because I know a family that goes there and we had a small discussion on how I know them. I dare say some Sundays I may find myself up at Our Lady of Fatima for Mass. There was food afterwards and there was also older vestments on display. The vestments compared to today's are impressive, there was so much detail put into them and it's no wonder that Papa B16 is leading us back to them. To have a Latin Mass one day and then a Papal Mass with the creed in Latin the next day made for an awesome and unforgettable weekend.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I am not a Yankee fan, actually I hate the Yankees, I'm a die hard Mets fan! So this picture was taken simply because I was told to turn my camera on for the security detail check in.
The slightly disturbing yet intriguing pope-cakes as I call them, I couldn't bring myself to eat the Pope's face, so I opted for the Yankee cookie, that in my opinion was hilarous because I was eating the Yankees.
Out of all the pictures I took, I happen to like the Pope-mobile shot the best!
Some of the Cardinals, I know you can see Sean Cardinal O'Malley, I think Mahoney is somewhere behind him because my reaction was OH O'MALLEY, *smile*, oh Mahoney, *smirk*
Pappa 16 on his way to his chair, again out of the shots this is the one I like the best!
Just to whet you appetite for what I could see, we, my mom and I had great seats. The camera is on full zoom, but I never had to look a the big screen unless I wanted to. I'll get some pictures of the view from the seats up later on!
Friday, April 18, 2008
Actually I have 2 golden tickets, and yes they really are gold. It's offical I have tickets to the Papal Mass on Sunday. It's very exciting, and do expect pictures from the Mass and of me actually inside Yankee Stadium. Also expect a blog on the Latin Mass my parish is having tomorrow, I plan on taking pictures of that too.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I am quite impressed with the speed of the nearly 81 year old Pontiff as he came down the stairs from the plane. The smile on his face was great, and I'm quite happy that Jenna (thanks Fox News) to greet him along with President and Mrs. Bush.
I have EWTN coverage taping on the old TV and I sat with the high def tv and flipped the channels and took pictures with the camera of the TV, so expect a picture blog to come. While flipping the channels I turned to CBS aka channel 2 and burst out laughing and screamed as I head them say "Msgr. Joe Chapel." Father Joe as I met and know him was at SHU while I was there and is good friends and quite possibly a classmate of one the priests I know quite well. So I have pictures and video of that too.
Oh well, I am off to make dinner, but I'm so excited the Pope is here. I'm sure my age and growth mentally, physically, and spiritually is helping but it's totally different from JP2 came in 1995, I didn't get it back then, now I do.
Welcome to the US, Papa B16! We love you!
Monday, April 14, 2008
I can't even put into words what just happened. My parish had it's liturgy committee meeting tonight and at the end we sit and have cake and talk about life. Fr. George, our pastor, went upstairs to check his messages before retiring the for evening. I'm standing downstairs where the meeting was and I hear Fr. George saying "blah blah, Mary Woolley... Mary you still here?" Yes I am was my response. The following "conversation: takes place on"I have a woman on the phone who has a ticket for Mass on Sunday, you'd have to make your own way into the city, are you interested." Well my response was YES!
As Fr. George put it, "I guess the Good Lord wanted you there." I said I guess so. I was joking around in my twisted little head yesterday about being on 5th Avenue and having Cardinal Egan stop the motorcade so he could get out and hand pick me to go to Dunwoodie for the Youth Rally, and I'd get to meet the Pope. Nothing more than a nice little day dream that I had well thought out, little did I expect this.
The sheer happiness that is running through my body now is indescribable. I liken it to the time when we came out of the Scavi tour at St. Peter's in Rome and not one of us (college students) could figure out a way to thank the priest who ran the class, because we know that many English speaking tours were hard to come by. The more I think about the idea of being at Mass with the Pope, the bigger my smile is, the tears come to mind. Even Fr. George sounded excited for me, which is awesome, because I was beginning to think he and I were not on the same page on things.
It won't be official until I actually get my ticket, but the woman didn't want to let the opportunity pass by, so I have to call her in the morning to finalize everything. What I can make if it, is that her daughter who happens to be in the NYPD must have had the ticket or gotten the ticket and I think may have to work now, or she works around Yankee Stadium. They will need my drivers license and social security number to do my background check. Thank God I'm clean. ;)
Fr. Brian told us yesterday at Mass about how he felt like Charlie from Willie Wonka when he got his golden ticket to say Mass with the Pope. I had an ear to ear grin on my face because he "was like a little kid" when he opened the letter and literally saw a gold ticket for Mass with the Pope and he showed it. The joy on his face was enough to light up the whole Church let alone a room, I dare say my story will trump his.
So by the grace of God and the wonderfulness of the Holy Spirit I will be at Mass with the Holy Father on Sunday. He is the only person I would set foot inside Yankee Stadium for.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Now onto your regularly scheduled blog.
Why is it that the first article I read in the Bergen Record about the pope's visit starts out with "Yvette Cid is a 52-year-old widow and a practicing Catholic. She also is a lesbian who doesn't want to leave the church." Why they point out that this woman is a lesbian is beyond me, they make no mention of her being a practicing lesbian, but I assume they would like you to assume she is. The Church has no issues with a person being "homosexual" they like a "heterosexual" are called to live a life of celibacy until they are married and well since "homosexual" can't get married they are called to the single life. They are allowed to be Catholic, there is nothing stopping them.
The next paragraph begins with this "As a practicing gay Catholic, Cid is unusual. But her willingness to rely on her conscience, rather than church teachings, is increasingly typical of American Catholics." This statement is disturbing because the reporter is implying that the woman's conscience differs from the Church's teachings. Before this statement is, "The pope and the bishops, they follow the old way, and I understand that," Cid said in a recent interview. "But that doesn't mean I have to leave my faith because I disagree." Well, I'm glad the Pope and the Bishops follow the old way, they are following in the steps of the Apostles, considering that whole Apostolic succession thing, they are teaching Jesus' teachings.
The next section goes on the give some "facts about American Catholics" and it seems like a bunch of gobbledygook to me, but I will go back and try to figure out what the reporter is trying to say.
Following that section is the statement"Pope Benedict, who will arrive Tuesday in Washington, D.C., and travel to New York City on Friday, has a reputation from his days as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as an enforcer of church orthodoxy." I want to know what the heck "enforcer of church orthodoxy" means. I remember 3 years ago sitting on the bed screaming and crying "OH MY GOD THEY PICKED RATZINGER!!!!!" I was extremely happy because I knew nothing would change, the media would treat him like this vicious holier than thou man, and I knew he was no different than JP2. JP2 had the charisma to make the room jump, and the media loved him, but he taught Church teaching the same way Pappa B16 does.
Thinking about it, I find it strangely amusing that my parish is having a "Latin Mass" on Saturday, the 3 year anniversary of Pappa B16's election. I however as much as I would love to be at the Latin Mass have decided it's worth the trip to NYC to wait to see the pope mobile drive past me. As I've said, I can go to the Latin Mass whenever I want, how many times is the Pope going to be in my country and so close. I can never understand why people assume it was Cardinal Ratzinger making the rules or why they blame the Pope for the teachings they don't like. I've said it before, Jesus pissed people off, He got them thinking, He got them angry, He died because people were bothered by Him. It is no different today, the Vicar of Christ is going to say stuff to annoy you if you don't agree with him, the same way that the Clintons and Mr. Obama annoy the hell out of them whenever they open their big mouths.
The next section of the article finds and old person and a young person, a 75 year old woman and a young lady who is a senior in high school. Nothing like covering your bases and getting the middle aged woman who is in the Church but disagrees with and then finding the classic little old church lady and the Catholic high school student.
This sentence/paragraph amused me greatly "His words will be scrutinized carefully." Yes the Pope's words will be greatly scrutinized by you the media, because those of us who have no issues with the Church tend to agree with what he has to say.
What follows next is more gobbledygook to me, people trying to sound smart but it's not working. "Liberal Catholics say they hope that the pope adopts a pastoral approach that emphasizes dialogue, reconciliation and social justice." The terms liberal and Catholic should never go together. The Pope is a pastor, so that would imply that he had a pastoral approach, and I don't know what they want to dialog about, be reconciled with/for, and goodness knows I hate the term social justice. I had to teach a class called social justice and it was the stupidest class every, it should have been called. "The Works of Mercy" but again that's the old version, not this now enlightened version we have today.
Next in the article are two I want to say opposite statements from people, one from "a Midland Park resident and a retired theology professor at Marymount College." I don't know why we need to know where this woman lives, but she says, "I would hope that he would come pointing out that one out of three people globally live on less than a dollar a day and our church needs to respond to that," and "I hope he encourages the American church to be a pastoral, communal church." Why would the Pope come to tell us that one out of 3 people globally live on less than a dollar a day, we see plenty of the "save the starving children" commercials to tell us that, and if people paid attention to their "Operation Rice Bowls handouts, they would know that too. The Pope doesn't need to come and tell us what's going on in the world, he's here to tell us Catholics what to do in areas of faith and morals, and yes he'll tell us to take care of the poor, but we need to care for the poor at home too.
Apparently the only thing that happens in the Church is clergy abuse and the scandal that followed. Last time I checked that was 6 years ago, seriously, it sucked it was a black eye for the Church, but do you need to bring it up every time a prominent Catholic comes to visit. There's a decline in priests because people don't want their children to be "religious: more emphasis is placed on carrying on the family name than calls to vocations. I've said many times if God places the right man in my life and we get married, and I have all sons, I'll gladly foster any vocations, and God can take them all into the priesthood. I know I'm not normal, in the last 6 months 2 priest have called me crazy on separate occasions, one because my friends are married and have more than one child, actually most of them have 2 kids, and the other priest called me "the good kind of crazy, our crazy" I consider both of my parents to be good devout Catholics but I don't remember them fostering vocations or talking about vocations to their children. I don't even remember the sisters who ran my grammar school talking about vocations and they wonder why their numbers are low. Such an emphasis is placed on the decline of priests, and that is because you don't see priests on TV, unless you watch EWTN and if you're watching EWTN, you likely have your head screwed on correctly. ;) When I happen to catch Bishop Sheen's show on EWTN I sit and watch it, and Bishop Sheen died 2 days before I was born and his show captures me, meaning that if one speaks the truth of the Church that it is timeless.
The article goes on the mention the dewindling numbers of Catholics and mentions two parishes in the area, Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, and St. Mary's in Pompton Lakes. Now I know of both parishes, I'm not a 100% sure on Presentation now but when I was church hopping they seemed to have a decent young adult ministry program, and I have yet to hear any bad comments about them, St. Mary's on the other hand I have countless stories on, and I have heard that it's getting better, but when the "not so conservative" complain about the parish you know it can't be good. I don't mind the paper quoting the pastor of Presentation, but my thoughts on St. Mary's were, "of course you'd pick the most liberal Church in the area to be quoted." These two parishes are the largest in the area. I know Presentation get a good few young adults and young people into it, again I'm not 100% sure on what happens as I haven't been there in quite a while. St. Mary's and the dealings I have had with staff members, scared me, to the point where I with a lowly BA would have to correct the person with the Masters and a good few years of experience and of course that was not liked.
There's a quote from one of the Jesuits at St. Peter's in Jersey City, this priest says, "I think he should gather people together, Catholic intellectuals and laypeople, sit down for a couple of hours and say, 'Tell me the truth.' " The Pope doesn't need to sit with the layity to hear the truth, he teaches the truth, he's not stupid he knows what's going on in America and in it's churches. It not like all of a sudden Cardinal Ratzinger magically forget everything when he became Pope, give the man some credit. Of course I wonder what type of lay people this Jesuit wants to have sit with the Pope, I know they wouldn't invite me, simply because I would agree with the Pope.
The article when mentioning the two largest parishes in the area also mentions that laypeople are actively leading many aspects of parish life. This would be why so many people are so damn confused when it comes to the Catholic Church. As a woman who has worked for and would love to work for the Church again, I can see that laypeople don't always know what they are doing. The priest at St. Mary's is worried about a return of clericalism, does that mean he's afraid that he's going to have to do more work that as a priest he should already be doing. Just because you think you found the right lay person means that your off duty Father, come on, you're a priest it's not a 9-5 job and you should have known that when you got into it.
The article mentions of all things the Pope telling the Bishops to tell their priest and deacons that they need to purify the sacred vessels or as the put it, "the special policy that allowed laypeople to clean chalices used during Communion." Do I dare say that Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist are not supposed to be the ordinary ministers, but the priests are, I mean that's true. My parish has the priests and deacons purify the sacred vessels, and then the laity "cleans" them, normally at the Mass I attend it ends up being me, and people look at me like I'm nuts when I slowly wash them and take my time putting them away. Hello, these are the vessels that hold Jesus in them or have your forgotten that too.
The article closes by mentioning that the Pope has not said what he's going to say when he comes to the US other than he is coming to preach the Gospel. Guess what, that's what Jesus did too, do you think Jesus knew weeks in advance what He was going to say to his disciples, no He probably didn't, so if God didn't work that way, why expect a simple human to be any different.
Of course the article couldn't officially close without mentioning Yvette Cid, the lesiban from the beginning of the article and she says she's interested in what the "pope has to say---up to a point." Well what do you expect, most people are interested in what the Pope has to say up to a point, most people just don't want to hear it.
This is the last statement in the article, "God is about love, and that's how I look at it," she said. "If I am going to get condemned on my Judgment Day, all I can do is turn around and say, 'I loved another human being.' " This was said by Ms. Cid. Yes God is love, and that is how we are supposed to look at it, I seem to remember an encyclical titled God is Love written by a Pope Benedict, so she might be on to something there, but nothing the Church hasn't already said. No one speaks of Purgatory anymore, who says you'll be condemned, I know my ass will be in Purgatory with the flames of Hell licking my ass purifying me for Heaven. Jesus did tell us to be perfect as you're Heavenly Father, but God's smart and knows that we're not perfect, and He offers us countless chances to return and repent for what we have done. God is Love and He doesn't want to see His children in Hell, He wants them with Him, so He will do what He can to bring them all home, like any good father would do.
So here is what the article says, and my comments will follow:
When Pope Benedict XVI makes his first papal visit this week to the United States, the 80-year-old prelate will face an American flock that has become increasingly resistant to Vatican authority, especially on the church's human sexuality teachings.
Indeed, the percentage of Catholics who regard church leaders as the final authority on abortion, homosexual behavior and non-marital sex declined from one in three in 1987 to one in four in 2005, according to surveys prepared by Catholic scholars and administered by the Gallup Organization.
That doesn't mean, however, that American Catholics are rejecting their faith. The surveys also show that large percentages of Catholics agree that the most important teachings include helping the poor, Jesus' resurrection, the sacraments and Mary as mother of God.
"They aren't just rebelling," said William V. D'Antonio, one of authors of the book "American Catholics Today," which examines how Catholics have changed during the course of several decades.
One of the more striking findings, D'Antonio said, was that support for church leaders on sexual issues declined among older Catholics — those born before 1940, who generally have high levels of commitment to their faith.
"They may have grandchildren or grandnieces and nephews who have come out as gay," D'Antonio said. "And what they are now saying on some of these teachings is: 'Our lived experience doesn't support the teaching.' "
Friday, April 11, 2008
Planned Parenthood releases Annual Report
· It killed 289,750 preborn babies (24,807 more than last year).
· Its total revenue was $1.12 billion and its total profit was $114.8 million:
o $356.9 million in clinic income (an increase of $11.8 million)
o $258.7 million from private donations (an increase of $46.5 million)
o $336.7 million from taxpayers (an increase of $31.4 million)
· It made only 2,410 adoption referrals – a decrease of three from last year and a ratio of one adoption to every 120 abortions.
In effect, $114 million of taxpayer money went right into PP’s savings account. It is clear that PP does not need all of this money. Taxpayer money represents 33 percent of PP’s income. We must stop the flow of government money into the hands of this baby-killing business. Sign the petition at StopPlannedParenthoodTaxFunding.com to demand that PP does not receive any more money from our pockets.
We encourage you to spread the truth about Planned Parenthood, whether through a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, a blog posting or a MySpace bulletin/Facebook note. Feel free to use any information from the archive of STOPP Reports, but make sure to hit on the following talking points:
· One out of every four abortions is committed in a PP facility.
· PP refers one baby for adoption for every 120 babies it murders.
· PP has total assets of $1.12 billion.
· Taxpayers gave PP $336.7 million in 2006 (an increase of $31.4 million from 2005).
· PP put $114 million of taxpayer money right into its savings account.
· Taxpayer money represents 33 percent of PP’s income.
· PP’s total profit doubled from 2005 to 2006. In 2006, it had a profit of $114.8 million.
My church's youth group is having a garage sale on Sunday, and I'll be wearing my Rock for Life sweatshirt with my PP Kills Babies shirt underneath. I have Confirmation students who keep trying to tell me that PP is a pregnancy center, I told one girl no they make millions by providing abortions, they don't care about pregnancy. A pregnancy resource center cares about the woman who is pregnant and tries to help her. Last week my Confirmation students walked diapers over to the local pregnancy recourse center in town and the director and I had a nice discussion about what the parish can do for them.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Not knowing what to expect except a lot of familiar faces from the "older" members of the church, I was honestly quite nervous about going. Interestingly enough all the candidates had a similar feeling. It being a women's retreat and with all the hormones in the room, it made for a weepy weekend. It was a roller coaster of emotions with all the witness talks, the Sacrament of Confession, and having one of the candidates mother die while we were on retreat. (Her mom was sick and in the process of dying and would have been 90 in September, so it was expected, but still caused a bunch of emotions in everyone else who didn't know about it.)
Typical of the "whoo-hoo Jesus loves me" retreats there was plenty of reassuring that Faith and God will help you through your life and what not. Also typical of these retreats are letters from home or in our case the parish, and knickknacks to remind you of the talks. I've never really been a big fan of these types of retreats and it was honestly hard for me to be in candidate mode vs. team member. Fr. Brian, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite priests, even told me to not use that as an excuse. Fr. Brian plays a big part in the weekend for me, but more on him later. Cornerstone follows the traditional route of a SEARCH retreat or at least that it reminded me of. So my thoughts were going to be loving yet critical, yet critical isn't the right word, because it has such a negative stereotype around it.
My thoughts are going to seem scattered and that's because they are, but I might as well start from the beginning. Cornerstone is marketed to the women of the parish, via announcements at Mass, and by some members of team giving a 2 minute talk on it at the Masses about a month before the actual retreat. Needless to say it wasn't the marketing strategy that won me over to go on the retreat, the constant reminder of it might have helped. As it was I waited until the last possible moment to hand my form it. Actually my dad handed it in to the rectory and somehow it was placed in the wrong box and by chance they, the team, found it the Thursday before the retreat. I don't ask, I just chalk that one up to a bit of some spiritual warfare, and I'll leave it at that, with God winning as usual.
So the time came to go on the actual retreat which takes place at the parish, well in the school. Thankfully we have a youth ministry room which is across the hall from the cafeteria, and a gym. The youth room offered itself as the actual retreat room where all the talks, small group sharing and large group discussion took place. In my humble opinion it was too much time spent in such a small room, well it's not small, but it's not as massive as a gym either. I didn't understand why they had the sound system set up for the talks, I have yet to use a microphone in that room, and everyone seemed to hear me just fine. So I think we could do without the microphone, it would also allow for more animation from the speaker. Seeing as they were constantly adjusting it, I don't see a need for it, but that's just me.
In doing as many retreats as I have for as long as I have, my brain went right to how can I make this better. Yes as Fr. Brian and I discussed I am a perfectionist, and I have to be right all the time, it's a fault and well I'm working on it. The witness talks, while good seemed to have two personalities, those that practiced and those that didn't. For someone who is as well versed in public speaking as I am, I tend to notice things like transitions, speed of speech, and well other little things like that. This is something I can help out with should I "discern" to be on team. Each witness talk picks a song, and they were all classic cheesey songs, even the theme song was cheesey. I know I've been graced with an array of Christian music artists, but I also know how to take a secular song by a band like U2 and give it a Christian meaning, actually I would just take most of Matt Maher's works and use them. He is wickedly talented, and Catholic! I walked in to hear a song we used when I was in high school a good 11 years ago, and that amused me and I pointed out that the last time I heard it in that particular room was when I was in high school, that comment wasn't appreciated by some, but oh well.
The food was AMAZING, it was all home cooked meals, so suffice to say that I've never had food like that on a retreat before, that is reason enough to come back. Cornerstone is one of those retreats you only go on once, so if you're coming back it's on team, and Lord knows they make up enough positions to accommodate everyone. The retreat itself was pretty decent, it was just the little things that got to me, and those are things that if fixed will only make the retreat better. Like I said it's a typical "Jesus loves me" retreat, and while I would have loved to have more Scripture quoted and Catechism quotes in the witness talks, they are what they were, and so be it. I would have loved to have seen time for one to reflect on the talk before moving into "table share" aka small group discussion, but that is something easily fixed, same with the Scripture quotes.
My next biggest issues comes from the closing Mass and the Mass of Thanksgiving. The sharing experiences from the retreat was expected, though not overly enjoyed. The only thing that got to me was Fr. George, our pastor, asking the women who were on the retreat to come and join him in the Sanctuary for the entire Eucharistic prayer. The traditionalist in me had a heart attack about 10 times over and the perfectionist in me said ok offer it up, it is a retreat Mass after all. I would have been fine had he don't done it for the Mass of Thanksgiving too. It's not allowed, and I don't like when you mess with the rubrics, so let's just say Fr. George and I are seeing eye to eye currently. It's nice to have Fr. Brian on board because based on Fr. George has said, Fr. Brian doesn't veer from the Rubrics and that I love, hence why Fr. Brian is quickly becoming of of my favorite priests.
Looking at the retreat this way I thought I was going to be more critical, but alas I really wasn't and everything that I had issues with is easily fixed. I did have a wonderful time on the retreat, and do expect I'll be on team. At one point someone said to me, that I didn't seem affected by the retreat, I said I was, I just sort of knew what to expect with all the retreats I've been on.
So back to Fr. Brian, the first night, we went around the room introducing who the candidates were, and Fr. Brian came to me later and said, "I'm surprised this is your first one, when you introduced yourself I turned to Fr. George and said, I'm surprised this is her first Cornerstone." I told him about MaryKay telling me it was beyond me and he just shook his head and that conversation had to end because the break was over. Later that night the Sacrament of Confession was offered, typically of myself I wondered do I go to Fr. George or Fr. Brian, I actually thought about it and finally caved to the ultimate tugging on the soul to go to Fr. Brian. Let's just say I was never happier to go to Confession, and to be clean afterwards. Thank God for such a wonderful sacrament, as Fr. Brian said we need to use it more. During confession we talked about perfection and I was told to leave some of that behind as I left. And for the first time in my life was given a classic as a penance, 5 Hail Marys. I smiled and laughed to myself as I went to say them, and said, what I don't think I've ever gotten that as a penance. Also typical of myself I was one of the last people to go to Confession, that was not the plan but Fr. Brian's line kept growing, and I just said, fine I'll wait. I think I've found my confessor. ;)
During the retreat we are given letters from home and the parish, the typical palanca (I probably spelled it incorrectly) letters and most of them did make me cry, which is what they do. However I got from from MaryKay which just annoyed me. I sat there appreciating the thought, but thinking how do you tell me one year, that I'm beyond the retreat, and the next year say I'm so glad you went on the retreat. In her letter she says "When you are young it's difficult to watch other people move ahead on their journey while it seems that you haven't moved very much." While I appreciate the thought, it's like she was telling me I was moving backwards. I was so annoyed with what I read that I had to take her letter shove it in it's envelope and reread the letters the deacons in the parish sent me. Yes I totally understand that my friends are in a different place than me, but I have never felt like I wasn't moving. I can look at my life and equate it to the poem Footprints, and "it was then that you carried me Jesus." Yes my friends have what I want, but God's plan works in different ways with each person He's created. Rereading her letter it doesn't seem as bad as I first thought it was, but it still annoyed me. Don't come preaching to me about my life that you know nothing about and don't assume we're alike just because I'm a woman in ministry. I'd gladly take your job, and I know a few others who would love for me to take it. I'm content with what I have right now. It's not what I wanted, but it's working, and I'm slowing regaining my trust in my gut which has been pretty spot on, thanks to being guided by the Holy Spirit.
Overall the retreat was a good experience for me, and I'm glad I went on it. I'll do whatever is asked of me for team, and no MaryKay I'm not writing my witness talk, which you told me to do as you left the coffee and desserts after Mass. If I'm called to do a talk I'll do it, if not so be it.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
During my last resident semester, which was my second to last semester at SHU I decided I needed a retreat away from my friends, like Youth 2000. I found myself back in Kearny, this time on the Living the Lord's Prayer Retreat. It was just what I needed, the ‘in between retreat’, moving away from the 'whoo-hoo Jesus loves me" retreats and heading towards a silent retreat. This retreat rocked, and was just what I needed at the time, I was able to reconnect with old friends and meet some new ones too. LTLP as it became know in the inner circle would become a major part of my life, as I was asked to be on team. Being on team began during my last semester at SHU. Our first meeting was on September 12, 2001, needless to say the day before in etched in my memory. Where was I on September 11th…
I was finishing up my last semester at SHU, and like a good college student I managed to get most of my classes in the afternoon or evening, so I was in bed when my mom came in and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought what type of moron hits a building, thinking in my head it was a student pilot in a small plane. I got up and for some reason decided my car needed to be washed so that’s that I went and did I washed my car which didn’t take too long. I had 95.5 WPLJ on the radio, so ABC was updating me on what was happening. I remember how somber Scott and Todd were compared to their usual antics and my neighbor coming out saying a second plane had hit the towers. At this point, I thought what the hell! As I was cleaning the inside of the car I heard that one of the Towers had fallen, at point I quickly finished what I was doing and went inside to watch the TV. The memories of Jan. 19 just 1 year and 9 months before hand came rushing back. I was home away from my friends, while they were at Seton Hall, where I wanted to me. Much like Jan. 19 I was then glued to the TV to see what was happening.
September 11th for my family has two meanings, two memories. See 9-1-1 is my brother’s wedding anniversary; he being the smart aleck that he is picked 9-1-1 so everyone would remember it, now it carries another meaning. At the time the majority of the extended family lived in NY, the Bronx and Queens, since most of them lived in NY most of them worked in NY, including my father and brother; Dad in the Bronx and Peter in Manhattan, thankfully nowhere near the Towers. September 11th was a little closer to home than it needed to be, add in cops in the family and its closer and it got even closer as the days went on. Calls were made to see how the family was, they all came back clear everyone was safe. It would just take my dad 4 hours to get home instead of the usual 45mins and I don’t remember Peter’s trip I don’t, but I’m sure it took him awhile to get home. Bottom line is they got home safely.
The memories of the days following are jumbled; we went to St. Anthony’s that night for a prayer service. We, St. Anthony’s only lost one person, which surprised me as I assumed that more people from town would have worked in the City. I don’t know if it was at some point that day or the days that followed but we found out that one of my dad’s friends had lost his son. Dennis was a fire fighter and his funeral, well wake is one I will never forget. We also found out that one of our neighbors, John, from the Bronx had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. John’s memorial Mass, seeing as there would be no body happened first. Other than the big picture of John and his newborn son in the front Mass went on as normal, with the addition of a eulogy or two. John’s Mass was a reunion of people my brother had gone to school with and people we knew from Church. The Mass was followed by a gathering in the downstairs gym. It reminded me of a Christmas Eve Mass instead of a Memorial Mass. At the gathering I heard a lot of, Little Mary no way, that’s not you. My response, yes it is, I’m even 21 now. The laughs would follow, so even though it was a sad occasion, John had managed to get people together that hadn’t seen each other in years.Dennis’ wake on the other hand is something that would stand out more than a Memorial Mass, those were normal. Dennis was FDNY so needless to say the line into the funeral home was massive. In front of my parents and I was a member of a fire department from Rockland County. The line snaked it’s way into the funeral home, and familiar faces were seen on the line or in the funeral home, which is normal at any type of Irish gathering for my family. What struck me the most was that there was no body; it was truly a time for people to just be there for the family. I didn’t personally know Dennis, but when I saw the flowers that said Daddy you will always be our hero, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. Dennis left behind a wife, 2 young children. There was a picture of Dennis were the body normally is and I remember the man in front of us, who was a volunteer fire fighter was in dress uniform, stopped and saluted the picture. It was just strange and unreal at the same time. And most definitely something I will not forget. Those images are what will stay in my head, a wake without a body, a Memorial Mass for someone I had gone to visit with my brother many times as he lived down the street. That is why I won’t forget where I was on September 11th; it was too close to home.
Now back to the retreat and being on team. Driving to the first retreat team meeting on 280 East was when it hit me that the skyline that I was so familiar with and almost took for granted was changed forever; it was empty, it was broken, and would never be the same. The following weekend the retreat team went to a service at Liberty State Park. To look across the river and see the empty spot, just took my breath away, it was still smoldering in parts. It was surreal to think of what had happened and little did we know how much it would affect our lives. Evil will not leave, the Evil one is not happy unless we’re not happy, so he makes things happen and God allows it because He gave us free will, but that doesn’t mean God sits back and just lets it happen, while thousands died and were injured that day, many were also spared and saved by being late to work or for a plane or by God’s grace of not being near the buildings. Needless to say with the proximity of the team meetings and our locations to NYC and September 11th it became the topic of choice for a few talks. During these meetings I would develop a special relationship with one of my fellow team members, Brian, of whom I have given the living term, jackass, or the ass. I know a few guys named Brian so I have to distinguish, especially since two of them are priests. So, Jackass Brian brings my journey to the spot it is today, once of confusion, questions, and doubting.Since I haven't really talked about Brian I'm going to have to sit down with the story and work with it, so it coherent and non repetitive. So I leave you here wondering why Brian is a jackass.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Another event that would shape my life was a Youth 2000 retreat in Kearny, NJ. I don't like the Kearny, ok I hate the Kearny retreat center, but it serves its purpose. I like retreat centers in the middle of nowhere, where it's just you and God. I went because Campus min was sponsoring those that wanted to go and I decided to give it a try. It was a strange experience for me, as I knew no one on the retreat. Youth 2000 is a wickedly awesome retreat run by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. I have known the order since I was a kid in grammar school, so I trusted what they did. Youth 2000 is a retreat that covers a large age group, high school- young adult, and the whole focus of the weekend is on the Blessed Sacrament. It would be on this retreat where it would just hit me that, it’s Jesus; it really is God in that piece of bread. Don't ask me how it happened, it just happened, it just dawned on me after 18 years, that it IS JESUS in the Eucharist. Yep, God smacked me upside the head with that one, as I refer to it, “my smack from God.” From here I would begin to realize how important those Monday afternoon trips to St. Helena’s with my mother were, and from here would stem my love for Eucharist Adoration. I went to Youth 2000 because I wanted answers about Gary’s death, why he had to go so young, why would God do that, how could God do that. Those questions were not answered; what I got was much more that what I could have ever asked for. From this retreat, from the experience of having a priest walk through the gym with the Monstrance I felt God's love and came to know Him better. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament became something I looked forward to. I often sit for hours in SHU's chapel because I wanted to, and sometimes because I had to.
My years at Seton continued in a pattern, fall semester meant back to RCIA, retreats, SHUFL, Student Ambassadors, CELEBRATE SCC, EMing, and other campus ministry and school events, Christmas break for which I'd be home and couldn't wait to get back to SHU. It's a far cry from my first semester, when I wanted to run home to St. Anthony's; now I wanted to be away from St. A's. St. Anthony’s just didn’t feel like home anymore, SHU did. Christmas break would end and I'd be back ‘home’ at SHU, spring semester would take place with my usual activities continuing from the fall semester. I switched majors from nursing to religious studies at the beginning of my sophomore year. This was one of those things that stemmed from Youth 2000 and Steubenville; I felt a calling to religious studies and went with it.
Life at SHU would continue in this normal pattern until one eventful morning in January 2000. I was sleeping as most college students do at 5am, we were back on campus a few days. The phone rang and my roommate and I thought who the hell calls us at 5am, what is wrong with them. It was my roommate's mom, asking if we were ok. We said were fine, but the words there was as fire on campus would stay with us. We looked out of our window and saw fire trucks and other emergency vehicles over by Boland Hall, assumed everything was under control and went back to sleep. A few hours later, the phone rings again, this time it was a friend, who asked, “what's going on up there, I hear 3 people are dead.” Those words woke us up and we turned on the TV, we usually turned on Fox 5’s morning show so that’s what we watched. I still remember how somber and sincere Jim Ryan was as he told the story. Seton Hall was all over the news. We got news throughout the day, the first bit being that the fire was on the 3rd floor, which happened to be the floor we lived on as freshman. My exact thought was "Oh God no; no not again; I can't do this, that's where Todd lives." (Todd is Gary's brother). It was morning, and we were hungry so we went to get some food. Calls were made to friends on campus to make sure everyone one was ok, and to see who wanted to go to breakfast. The University understandably shut down for the day, and looking back on it, we were like a herd of freaking cattle moving back and forth between the Main Lounge, the Chapel and the cafe. The Main Lounge was where updates were given; the Chapel was for mass, and the café for food and just hanging out with friends.
When we came down for breakfast I saw as Todd and was happy that I had found him and knew he was ok, and thought. Before I could even think, “thank God,” I heard "Pete can't find his little brother". I knew deep down at the very moment that, Pete's brother was gone, but I held out every last bit of hope that he was still alive. The day continued with us going to the Main Lounge for updates, the Chapel for Mass, back to the Main Lounge, to the cafe for food. Throughout the day we would think of and find more people who lived in Boland, all expect for Pete's brother. Resident students were told to go home, as the campus would be shut down for the next few days. So we each found a way to go home, my friend Kelly lived in Albany, NY, and since she would be driving past my neighborhood, she drove me home. Kelly and I stopped by our friend Bridget’s house, mainly because Bridget as a commuter was away from all of us during the day. Kelly and I were headed home and we had SOU, Seton Hall’s crappy radio station because we were guaranteed updates. Around 7 they released the names of the kids who had died. We heard John Gu… and immediately turned around and found Bridget at her sister's house. We went back to Bridget’s house cried; found out the funeral arrangements and eventually we all went home.
The days that followed were sad ones, January 19th would the 2nd day in January that I would not like. John's funeral and Mass flashed me back to Gary's wake. This was not something I wanted to go through again, I didn't want to have to bury another person my age, but alas I had to. Here I got a part of my answer of how can this help you. Fr. Bill two years before had said, ask how, what can come from this. So I became the ‘you can get through it” person. I knew it hurt, that the pain will not leave, but it gets slightly easier to bear. Both days in January just send me into a dark place, of which I need to go every so often. Both events would change my life, would change my faith. And just because they are sad, doesn't mean that good weren't happening at the same time, these are just the events that stick out the most. One of the highlights for me would be the Easter Sacraments that took place each year after Easter. I would watch my candidates become fully Catholic, the whole RCIA process still brings tears to my eyes, happy tears, as others realize that they want to be Catholic and it just does my heart well to see so many people annoying the Evil One.
Life would continue in the normal college student fashion. Classes were going well; I had lots of friends and was having fun at college. Soon that fun could come to an end, as the dreaded graduation day approached. I wish to not remember my graduations from SHU, yes I did say graduations. Having known people graduating in the classes before me and participating in their “Mass of Academic Investiture”, I knew what to expect, but what would happen, I never expected. I never thought changing majors would come back to well, bite me in the ass. Long story short, as my friends received notices about caps and gowns I wonder why I wasn’t getting anything. Turns out I had 12 credits or 4 classes left before I could graduate. I had a full semesters worth of classes left, somehow this slipped past me and my advisor, though it slipping past my advisor is not too surprising. I was pissed, I had put in my 4 years, I had also failed a class or two, it’s what helped me change my major, as the science classes just weren’t holding my attention, but my religion classes were. So here I was at my graduation Mass, watching my friends graduate, without me. I walked in to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and found Fr. Bill who said to me, “smile Red, you not smiling is unnerving, I don’t like it.” If Fr. Bill only knew how much that comment meant to me at the time and how much my friends and I use it.
I went back to SHU for my last semester which was honestly just me showing up for class and coming back home. I was no longer part of the RCIA program as I was basically told “it’s time to give others a chance.” What really happened was I said I wouldn’t stand up for my last candidate because I didn’t think she was ready to enter the church, and because I had the audacity to stand up for something I was asked to step down. Fr. Bill had been asked to return to parish life and without him Campus ministry and I weren’t getting along. So I was at St. Anthony’s for Mass, which was not what I wanted. I didn’t feel as if I fit in there. This would be the “what am I doing, what am I supposed to do” section of my faith journey.
I think I am going to stop at this point simply because the next section covers Sept. 11th and the events that were happening around it. As someone who spent her grammar school years in the Bronx, has family in the Bronx, has NYPD in the family, and whose father and brother both worked in New York at the time, September 11th was a bit closer to home than expected. For some reason I can't shorten the Sept. 11th story, I've tried but it just doesn't happen. Another thing that would happen would be my time spent with the Living the Lord's Prayer retreat and team. I would start a relationship with a man, and that's a whole blog in and of it's self. What follows after are my jobs and many other things that would make this section way too long. So I leave you with where I was at the time confused and looking for more.