Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Respect Life Sunday relfections

I started to work on this a while ago in October and just remembered that it was here in the edit pile, so I'm attempting to see what I remember out of it.

This past Sunday was Respect Life Sunday, it also happened to be the annual Communion Breakfast for the Rosary Society of which my mom is a member. So when she greeted me with, "but it's Fr. Geno" I couldn't really say no. Fr. Geno was the priest who ran the youth group while I was in high school and he has been quite influential in my life. FG, as he is more commonly known to me and others, happened to be saying the 8:30am Mass so I opted to go as breakfast followed Mass.

FG began Mass by talking about Msgr. Joseph Brestel, who served St. Anthony's as pastor and the Diocese on some level as well, though I am not 100% sure in what capacity he served on the Diocesan level. Msgr. Brestel who as Fr. Geno said "no matter how he felt or what his health was would get up and say Mass, this Mass each week." I had the privilege of becoming a reader and read at the 8:30 Mass and even in high school noticed how traditional Msgr. Brestel was, as in he was "old school" and said "pray brethren vs. pray my brothers and sisters" and even back then I liked that. Now I can see the graces that God gave me by placing this man in my life, and maybe I should start asking him for some prayers for the success of the new translations.

Knowing it was Respect Life Sunday, I was interested to see what the priests were going to talk about. Fr. Geno surprised me as I was expecting the classic younger priest with a soft hitting homily, and that is not what I got. I don't know if it's because FG and I have gotten older or if I just pay attention more to what is said than I did in high school. Fr. Geno's homily did focus on marriage and that is between one man and one woman. I don't remember the homily anymore, that's what happens when you let 2 and a half months go by with out blogging.

I picked up a fellow young adult and brought her to the Rosary Society Communion Breakfast, we were a touch annoyed that seats were assigned so that we couldn't sit next to each other but we worked around that. Fr. Geno was the guest speaker and spoke of how looking around the room he was reminded of how many people had lost loved ones since he was last at St. Anthony's. He mentioned that it is always hard for a priest to come back to a parish he has been at, as you're worried about who will be offended if you show up to something or not show up to something. He spoke about his new project that Bishop Serratelli lined up for him. It was a good explanation of the vow of obedience. Long story short Papa Arty sent Fr. Geno over to Rome for his doctorate and now Fr. Geno is in charge of the Diocesan office of Evangelization and the first and only Catholic evangelization center St. Paul Inside the Walls, a nice play on St. Paul Outside the Walls.

During his speech Fr. Geno reminded me of why I was attracted to him and youth group in high school. He knows how to reach out and bring someone to the Church. Maybe not in the traditional manner, but it works. More on FG in a later blog.

I might have been on as Extraordinary Minister at the 6pm Mass so that could explain why I was back for a second Mass. At the 6pm Mass Fr. Brian gave an excellent homily and I told him as much after Mass too. Fr. Brian had typed his homily and did not seem like his normal self, but that didn't stop the usual homily. (i know now why, all I'm saying is say a prayer for his overall health, nothing major, just a few extra prayers. Said health issue has been resolved, but he could still do with some prayers.)

Fr. Brian focused more on the marriage aspect than respect because as you know with marriage brings kids. Both priests mentioned the two becoming one though I think Fr. Geno focused more on it than Fr. Brian did. Fr. Brian does win for best line: "it's like chocolate and peanut butter, you put two different things together and get a resses peanut butter cup... chocolate and chocolate is still chocolate, it doesn't change or make something new" I paraphrased, but you get the point. He gave a few other similar examples. I thanked him after Mass for his homily and said, it's nice to hear it from the pulpit. He responded with something that I can't remember now, but it was along the lines of being a heavy hitter with the truth vs. being soft.

What stayed with me is that Fr. Geno seemed stronger in his defense of the Church than I would have expected from him while I was part of youth group. Granted he was newly ordained back then and I wasn't nearly as don't mess with the Church as I am now. Fr. Brian has only been ordained 5 years or so to Fr. Geno's 16, but both are around the same age and maybe that's the difference. We're all older, I tend to pay attention to what the priest had to say and making sure it's correct. ;) Either way I was happy with what I heard on Respect Life Sunday. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Prayer for Priests

My parish handed this out a few weeks ago when the relic of St. John Vianney came to visit the parish. People have complained that it's too long, but I think it's fine and beautiful when you thing about what is being said.

Prayer for Priests

Father, we praise and bless Your Holy Name, for by Your Holy Spirit, You have anointed Your only Son, born of the Virgin Mary, our great High Priest of the new and eternal covenant.

In Your love, You graciously give to all the baptized a share in His one priesthood.

And, from these, Christ Your Son calls some men to share in His priesthood in a special way, making them stewards of the Mysteries of God.

We joyfully thank You for our priests who answer His call each day with their lives of generous service to all of Your children. They are a most precious gift of Your Divine Mercy.

Strengthen them in their ministry of Word and Sacrament. Lift them up when they are cast down. Forgive them when they fail.
Enlighten their minds with the Truth of the Gospel. Inflame their hearts with love for Your Holy Church, and fill them with the overflowing joy of Your Grace.

Through the intercession of St. John Vianney, patron of all priests, we humbly ask You to make our priests true shepherd, each one willing to lay down his life for his flock after the example of Your own Divine Son who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

The above picture is one I took at the St. Patrick's day parade in March of 2009. It's at an odd angle as I was trying to take the picture of all the flags, which never really happens. Each year I tend to blog about the same thing, my memories of Sept. 11, 2001 and the days that followed afterwards. This years brings some interesting memories along with it. 10 years ago we all getting ready for my brother's wedding, as he decided that since 9-1-1 was a Saturday, it would be silly and no one would forget their anniversary; 8 years ago in August my family and I were in Ireland. This year we are preparing to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law's 10th anniversary, and this past August my family and I returned from a vacation to Ireland.

I remember 8 years ago flying to Rome in May for a class with Seton Hall and then flying in August for the vacation to Ireland, my gradfather was 90 years old that August, while I was happy to with friends and family, I couldn't stand being on the plane or flying. That was not like me I never had any issues flying or being on a plane. I could never place my finger on why I was so nervous about flying, but I got my answer looking back, somehow, someway I had a feeling deep down that something bad was going to happen.

Sept 11, 2001 went like this:
I was in my last semester at Seton Hall, long story short I was 12 credits short for graduating in May of 2001 like I was supposed to, so I had an added semester of classes, which became me just showing up for classes as I was commuting. So that's how 9-11 begins, I was at home sleeping like most college students would have been, when my mom came in to say " a place hit the twin towers." I thought what dumbass hits a building, assuming it was a little plane, not a jumbo jet. So I took my time getting up and decided to wash my car. What I think really happened was the Holy Spirit took me away from the tv, so I didn't have to see the towers fall, I've watched the replays and it always makes me cringe and cry. I turned on the radio in the car and turned on WPLJ. Scott and Todd, who are the morning DJs, were very somber in their broadcast, normally they are goofballs trying to help the drivers cope with their commutes. I will not forget how somber and solemn they were, it was strange and not normal. While I was washing my car, PLJ allowed ABC to break in and the news that a second plane hit was given. Almost every one in America and probably around the world saw that place hit, I can see the tv coverage in my head as I type this. My neighbor came out shortly afterwards and said, "one of the towers collapsed." That was it, I went inside, watched tv, tried to get on the internet to find my friends, of whom most were at Seton Hall.

Most of my family lived in NY at the time, and my father worked in the Bronx and my brother in Manhattan, both no where near the towers. It would take my dad nearly 4 hours to come home, as the George Washington Bridge was closed, so he had to figure out a way to get home. I don't remember how my brother got home as he usually took the train in. Thoughts ran through our heads as to who worked where and wondering if they were ok. All the family members were fine, and eventually we learned of friends of the family that had near misses that day, and eventually we heard that John and Dennis were among those that had died. More on them later. ;)

I remember finding my "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do" shirt. Again a prompting of the Holy Spirit. My parish had a prayer service that night as we found out one of our parishioners had died in the Towers. I remember my mom and I walked over and I remember sitting in one of the pews, and watching Fr. Kevin go to a few people asking them to read, each said no. Before Fr. Kevin could get over to me, my mom said, "you're next, don't say no." Honestly, being a lector and having read in public quite a few times, I said yes, and I also thought, well at least people will read my shirt. What was done was an evil act, but those men were lead to believe that what they were doing was correct, it is not my place to judge them and yes we are called to forgive. Anyway I read at our service and eventually went home.

The next few days played out in a normal manner of going to school, retreat meetings, and other such things.

Driving to Kearny from SHU, prayer service, John's Mass, Dennis's wake.. all these things are to come, but alas I must get some sleep as I have to work in the morning.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama's speech

My issue is not with the president giving a speech, it was attaching lesson plans to it. Seriously, was there a mention of saving the babies, yes if kids stay in school they will learn, but what are they learning. My mom thinks I'm crazy when I say I don't want my kids, if I have any in public school and I don't want them in a Catholic school that doesn't know how to be Catholic. Oh and Obama probably did change his speech, but hey if he simply said "stay in school." so be it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

go vote...

As Fr. Z asked to have it placed on blogs, I shall. I also posted it on facebook we shall see what happens.

Go to Fr. Z's blog for the story or straight to the page to vote.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Walk to Run

Since I own an iPod and I got it to use with the Nike+ stuff, I've finally started using it again. I've started a "coaching program" on and it's guiding me through a 3 month or 12 week plan to go from walking to running. So far so good, two 15 mins walk and one walk some run are done. As long as I actually stick with it, it should work. The only thing I miss is a treadmill so I could do it at home later at night vs. having to rush, well run, out when I get home from work. I guess I could always do it before work too. We shall see how running works this week and possibly add in daily Mass next week. :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009


So my parents and I spent 3 weeks in Ireland, we were gone from July 13th - Aug. 3rd. I had a wonderful time, and it's nice when you cousins actually do stuff with you. Granted the cousin that did most of the entertaining was the cousin that was out visiting with his family last October and was in essence returning the favor, but I have a feeling he would have done it anyway.

We spent most of the time visiting family, and as my dad got a standard shift car, I couldn't drive. I don't blame him as it was cheaper, but he doesn't like to drive at night, so that can put a damper on things despite it not getting dark until 10:30pm. He also didn't want me driving on the roads over there, which maybe I wouldn't have been so damn freaked out if my father didn't have me thinking my side of the car was going to be in a wall every time he pulled over. I had to laugh when my cousin drove over there and didn't budge when the on coming traffic came. Long story short despite not seeing the Guinness factory like I wanted to, again my dad won't drive to Dublin, and any relatives that live in Dublin were away, but if I had the car I might have ventured it, oh well, I will just have to add that to the plans for a future visit.

My family always asks me would you live in Ireland, and I almost always say, no, I'd need a city, considering where I come from. Though I have thought about this question since returning and maybe it's just the memories of drinking in my cousin's living room and laughing and having a good time, but I'd venture to say I would try it. I don't know how long I'd last living over there, but at least it's an English speaking country.

Last time I was over in Ireland I was in my last year at Seton Hall, so I got asked the what are you going to do question, I don't remember how I answered it, but I was a religion major after all, so that probably stopped any further questions. This time I had to deal with the "what do you do question?" and I usually answered teacher,babysitter/nanny. Which is what I was doing, I stayed away from the oh the kids are going to school full time in September so I don't know what I'll be doing answer. I felt bad as I was in essence lying to my family, but I wasn't, however I noticed that most of then could really care less. I am for the most part "more educated" or shall I say further educated than my cousins. I speak of the older cousins as the younger ones and those my age have probably had a University education, though I could be mistaken.

My cousins Brendan and PJ are a carpenter and a mechanic and I noticed that despite the schedules they keep, Brendan who works for himself has added on 2 weekend jobs and PJ has a repair shop on the side are happy and their families are happy. They make time to go out with each other, granted it's for a few pints, but it got me thinking. I began to think it would be nice to have what they have, a family that doesn't seem to judge them. I mean so I have a BA in Religion, what am I going to do with it, who knows. Everyone is so relaxed and laid back over there, there was no rushing out the door to get somewhere, no one trying to better the other. Maybe it's because of where my dad's family is from in Mayo, and that's where we spent most of our time, but even in Galway City they didn't seem to be rushed, granted Dublin might be a bit different, but it's still not the NYC area.

For so long I've sought that youth ministry, religion teacher, church ministry job and I've watched it slip away or seen it go to someone else, all the while I'm thinking "there I go again being too conservative for the Church." There is something wrong with that statement, I'm not too conservative for the Church, just some of her members and you know what I'm tired of that. I'm tired of being the one who follows the Church, who knows she will be judged more harshly by God than those that didn't know. I want to work for the Church but find that most of those positions are taken by "liberals." When my parish got our new deacon, whom I met once and haven't seen since then, I saw myself thinking, oh there goes my shot at this position, and then it hit me, he's the one who should be doing these jobs, he's the one about to be ordained. It's nice that the laity can work for the Church, but after a while, there gets to be too many people running the Church.

Now I find myself accepting a new retail job at a camera store, and it seems like a great opportunity for me. As I can work for a year or 2 while going to school for my Master of Arts in Teaching from a local school, I am leaning towards Montclair State, but one never knows. I've found myself the more I try to pull away from teaching the more I get sucked into it. I enjoy teaching the CCD classes that I have, and I like the idea of summers off and other such days. I realize that had I actually gotten an education major I probably would still at the 1st school I worked at. All that is missing from me teaching religion is how to make a lesson plan and discipline. I know I'm a softy, I don't like yelling at people. I will tell a child to behave if I see them misbehaving and maybe that's what I'm called to do, to teach the little ones.

This blog turned away from Ireland fairly quickly and into something else. I'm off to go look at local colleges and Post Baccalaureate education degrees. :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's probably the beer talking...

or the fact that I don't feel like going to be yet. There's honestly nothing I want to blog about, unless I get on the topic of the transitional deacon my parish has received. He is AWESOME! He was officially introduced to the parish over the weekend and he preached every Mass. My parents come from the 8:30am Mass (I usually go to the 12pm) and my mom said "I don't want to tell you, but you'll like him." Now when Mom says that I'm going to like the guy, she's usually right.

Let me tell you, I nearly cried tears of joy during his homily. A young man with a few years on myself came out swinging, talking about No Salvation Outside the Church, which threw me a little, but we do have the fullness of truth. He compared the questions asked about Jesus and His "brothers" to people asking about the Church and what they don't like about the Church. The homily was a tad heavy with theology, but I was in love. He spoke about Mary's perpetual virginity, how abortion is an intrinsic moral evil (he won me over with that one, and I had an ear to ear grin and tears in my eyes)and how brothers in the Gospel meant cousin or friend, and how Faith without works is dead.

It was refreshing to hear that from the pulpit. Another thing that struck me was his "conservative" behavior. I use conservative, but it's probably more traditional than conservative. Our new deacon studied at the North American College in Rome and it's easy to see his influences. I know he's a good 20 if not more years younger than our permanent deacons, so to see him kneel at the altar vs. stand next to the priest for the Consecration was a change. I also noticed he received Communion on his tongue. He also sings which is a change from our two priests who don't. When this young man is ordained at the end of August, I pray that he keeps his fiery spirit and runs with it. I hear rumors of him returning to Rome for his Masters for two years and then returning to our parish, however those are just rumors, but it would be a blessing for our parish to have him.

It was a refreshing change from hearing people on the liturgy committee complain about how conservative things are. When our new pastor first arrived he commented on how "more conservative" our liturgies were compared to what he was used too. I don't want to know what went on at his old parish, but I see nothing wrong with our liturgies, as they are from the actual rubrics, which is how it is supposed to be.

I just don't like being lumped into the category of conservative because I like Mass the way it's supposed to be said. I like that our Tabernacle is back in the middle of the altar. Yes it's at the back altar, but it's the focal point of the Church as it's supposed to be. For years it was off to the side and people didn't even know it was there. It was at the "Sacred Heart altar" but it was on the side and most people weren't respectful of it. So our last pastor took the initiative from Rome and moved it back. Someone was complaining that the laity can't go near the Tabernacle any more and blah blah blah. Guess what, the laity shouldn't be up and near the Tabernacle, as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, I an very conscious of how special a ministry it is. I know that I am not worthy to distribute Communion to people, but God has let me, Jesus lets us eat Him, enter into our skanky bodies. I'm not afraid to go near the tabernacle, but we need to remember that the Blessed Sacrament is in there and that we should take care when going to it and in all honesty why would the laity being going near the Tabernacle. I am a woman in the Church and I do not feel powerless because I am a woman, rather I try to model my life after the great disciple, Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

I do not want to be or feel the need for woman priests, and it pisses me off when I hear priests talk about how one day maybe women will be at the altar. NO, as our new Deacon so nicely preached and said, in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. It is no longer Father whatever, but Jesus back there, hence why he says and we hear, this is MY body... this is MY blood. Jesus was a man, I am a woman I can not be in persona Christi. Rather I'd love to find a good Catholic man to marry and give birth to sons who enter the priesthood. I often laugh when I hear Bishop Serratelli say, pray for vocations, give us one of the boys of the parish, give us one of your sons, I often thing to myself find me a Catholic man to marry and you can have all the sons you want. ;)

Oh well, I think our new deacon will be a wonderful addition to our parish and I wish him all the best for his upcoming ordination and subsequent priesthood. He will be one of the good guys, he sticks me as the type who would learn how to say a Latin Mass, which would be interesting. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Back but not for long

I spent the past two week teaching at my parish's "Summer Religious Education Program." I love being able to pass on the faith, but it breaks my heart that a 4 year old knows the "rules" of being Catholic better than most of the 6th graders that I thought.

All that has been on the news over here is that Michael Jackson died, mind you Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and now Billy Mays all died too, but MJ is all over the news. I get that he was a great influence to music and the MTV generation, but I'm not in tears over the man's passing. He was strange to say the least. He needs prayers has he did live a strange and troubled life. Farrah seemed to live a normal life as did McMahon, and well Billy Mays despite his infomercial personality seemed to a private and decent man. May they all rest on peace.

In roughly 2 weeks my parents and I will be off to Ireland for 3 weeks, that means the next two weeks will be spent shopping for stuff, like transformers, clothes (there's apparently a heat wave over there), and other such stuff. It's also the 4th of July over here, which means BBQs and fireworks, if your town isn't too cheap to have them this year.

Oh well that's where I've been and will be. ;)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Where oh where have I been...

Life has been a bit crazy for the past few weeks, meaning I'm not on my normal/regular schedule for babysitting. My mom's sister-in-law (who lives in Ireland) died unexpectedly last week from a massive brain hemorrhage so that threw everything off. I helped my dad with babysitting my niece and nephew. Kerri and Sean, my niece and nephew, loved it as they always love when I do stuff with them. Mom got back from Ireland this evening. She started talking to me about the funeral and the Mass and other things on the way home and I half paid attention.

It's only 5 weeks before I join my parents for a 3 week vacation in Ireland and my brother, sis-in-law and the kids are joining us for the last week. This week should be just as crazy as I'm babysitting tomorrow and Tuesday and on Wednesday I take my Nurse Entrance Exam aka the SAT for nursing school. Then it's the parish feast, which means I spend most of my time, more so this year than in the past, with the youth ministry Ice Cream booth. "The Feast" is the parish's biggest fundraiser with carnival rides, booths and of course the food, the food is mostly home cooked or as close to it as possible. A lot of work goes into it including the time spent behind the tables in the booths.

So I might go missing for a while again, but I'm working on it. ;)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Life in General

It's been a while since I've blogged about myself, that's because not much has been going on. I've been babysitting and am now looking for work on a part time basis as I'm thinking of going to nursing school in September or late August depending on when the program starts.

I'm confused, perplexed and in essence disappointed that I haven't been able to get job in Church ministry. I'm tired of being too Catholic and conservative for the Catholic church and school. Seriously, I'm upholding the teachings of the Church, going to Mass like I'm supposed to and I get shafted for someone who's more ecumenical.

I'm torn between Masters of Theology studies and nursing studies. It's too late for most programs for Theology and I'm very picky about where I would go. Only a traditional Catholic school, by that I mean the likes of Stubenville or Christendom, will do for me. I'm sure I'd fair well in another Catholic school, but I don't know if I'm up for it. I dealt with Seton Hall for the 4.5 years that I was there and I'm honestly getting tired of having to defend the Church to the Church. I don't know the harder I try to get away from ministry the faster I get pulled back by Cornerstone Retreats, teaching CCD over the summer or something else.

Sometimes I wish life would just lay itself out the way you planned after college, but alas that is not how it works.

Bishop Serratelli's weekly column from 05/14/2009

Bishop Serratelli kept his political but not political streak going this week, it really makes me wonder what next week's will be on, I doubt it will be on Notre Dame, but one never knows.

Prayer: Power Beyond Politics

Storefront churches, stone cathedrals, synagogues, temples and mosques break the secular landscape of the United States. Their presence stands as a witness to the voices of believers raised to God in prayer. In fact, recent polls claim that 92 percent of Americans believe in God or an Ultimate Being and nearly six out of ten Americans pray every day. (Jacqueline L. Salmom, “Most Americans Believe in Higher Power, Poll Finds,” Washington Post, June 24, 2008).

Traveling to the Holy Land aboard his Alitalia charter jet on May 8, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the power of prayer. He said, “As believers, Christians are convinced of the power of prayer. It opens the world to God, and we are convinced that God listens and can work in history. And I think that, if millions of believers pray, this is truly a force that can have an influence and advance the cause of peace.”

In the United States, this belief in the power of prayer gave birth to a national day of prayer. In 1952, President Harry Truman first established it. Then, President Reagan signed a resolution in 1988 to make the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer each year. Every president thereafter has done the same. This year, President Obama proclaimed May 7 as our National Day of Prayer. He called “upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God's continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love.” (I don’t know how I feel about this considering yes I do want our military to come home from Iraq but at what cost to the people over there. I don’t get how people can say Iraq was better under Saddam, I just don’t get it. I don’t get the feeling that Obama is a huge fan of our troops, don’t ask me why it’s just a gut feeling.)

Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush used to mark the day with a White House observance. Under previous administrations, the White House hosted an interfaith service. Protestant, Catholic and Jewish leaders were invited for an event at the East Room. This year, the President chose not to have such an event. (Not too much of a surprise, so what type of event did he have for National Day of Prayer, no prayer at all?)

Some people found this decision an occasion to praise the President for distancing himself from our National Day of Prayer. The prayer service at the White House offends some because it is a public act of religion. (Isn’t Mass or any type of religious service a “public act of religion:, is my saying a Rosary in a park, or across the street from an abortion mill (clinic gives the idea of them actually doing something good, mill sounds more appropriate in my crazy brain.) a “public act of religion, how about when I make the Sign of the Cross when I walk or drive in front of a Catholic church, isn’t that also a “public act of religion.” I know I’m being petty about it, but really it makes me think.) It disturbs others because it is not inclusive enough. (Inclusive of what, the major religions are there, there was no mention of Islam, but that could have been an oversight. Do people want Satanic worship and Wicca included, really come on, people can be so strange.) On the other hand, there were those who expressed disappointment that the President did not seize the opportunity to unite people of so many different faiths in a common act acknowledging our need for help from God.

Lost somewhere in the cross fires of the discussion was another decision that the President made. (Bishop seems to refer to our President as President more than President Obama, I just happened to notice that, I wonder why.) Near the end of Bush's second term, members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Madison. They petitioned the judge to put an end to the custom of prayer proclamations issued by presidents and governors. They view the day as disenfranchising the millions of Americans who do not believe in God or do not pray. Obviously, they do not follow the polls about belief and religion in America. (Nice little zinger in there at the end, considering Bishop Serratelli mentions said poll at the beginning of his column.)

The Obama administration has asked U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to dismiss the case against proclaiming public days of prayer. As the President said in his proclamation, “Throughout our Nation's history, Americans have come together in moments of great challenge and uncertainty to humble themselves in prayer.” His words ring true at this moment of challenge and crisis for our country. (Obama’s doing something good and right, wow! He, Obama, might as well have tossed in the whole there are no atheists in fox holes when speaking of great challenges not to mention all the prayers being said for a change of heart for him.)

The real discontent with our National Day of Prayer is much wider than opposition to a public display of religion. The day is too cozy a relationship between Church and State for those who wish to put a chasm between the two. (From what I’ve heard the separation of Church and State was to keep the State out of the Church not the other way around, but I wasn’t around when this started and don’t know if it’s true, but I like the sound of it.) In a word, the opposition to the day springs from the desire to silence the voice of religiously committed individuals from the public discussions of major issues.

Since 1978, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of 12,000 atheists and agnostics, has been working to keep Church and State separate. Nontract #6 of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. states: “ Fundamentalist Protestants and right-wing Catholics (honestly, just say Catholics as if one follows Christ’s teachings one would realize that one should be conservative on certain issues.) would impose their narrow morality on the rest of us, resisting women's rights, freedom for religious minorities and unbelievers, gay and lesbian rights, and civil rights for all. (I always find this one amusing as all should also include the pre-born but obviously it does not as they mention “women’s rights” which if the fancy way of saying, “allow women to suffer as they let someone kill their baby”) History shows us that only harm comes of uniting church and state.”

Such a strong characterization of religious people fails to see that, when it comes to Catholics and the Catholic approach to common good, Catholics offer the wisdom of a 2,000 year tradition of ethical reflection. When speaking to the issues of public concern, Catholics bring their contribution based on the natural law. The natural law knows no religious boundaries. It is open to all. It is gross misstatement of truth to label arguments based on reason as simply the religious convictions of the narrow-minded.

We cannot let some make religion today the dividing social issue that race was in America in the past. We are religiously more diverse today than in the last century. Presently there are more American Muslims than there are American Episcopalians, Jews or Presbyterians. Los Angeles, with more than three hundred temples, has welcomed the largest variety of Buddhists anywhere.

With such religious diversity, a National Day of Prayer is a blessing for our country. Prayer places our country in the hands of the God “who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). Prayer that opens our hearts to God also opens our hearts to others, whatever their religious beliefs or lack thereof. Prayer is truly a power beyond politics. (It does, and I need to start saying some more prayers, not just for our President and country but for other things as well, such as good holy bishops and good holy men to enter the priesthood, and good, holy women and men to enter religious life and marriage. So much to pray for more than likely not enough time to do it.)

Bishop Serratelli's weekly column from 05/07/2009

Bishop Serratelli has taken the past few weeks to make his column not necessary political, but along those lines. He never came out and said Notre Dame was wrong and I am surprised and disappointed in that, but then again maybe he waited to see the whole thing play out and that is what the 5/21/09 column will be about, then again I have not read the column from 5/14/09. From the topic I see that the Bishop has kept the political, but not political stance. As usual my thoughts are in red and I have added my emphasis to it as well.

President Obama and Lady Justice: The Supreme Court and its Judges

In the Old City of Berne, Switzerland, there stands the famous “Fountain of Justice” (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen) . From the 16th century until modern days, Hans Gieng's statue of Lady Justice has graced the fountain. It is the oldest representation of Lady Justice blindfolded.

This image of Lady Justice traces its origins to Themis, the Greek goddess of divine order and law, and to Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice. In her left hand, Lady Justice holds a scale. This signifies duty to measure the strengths of each case, weigh the evidence and then decide the case. In her right hand, she wields a double-edged sword. This signifies her obligation to execute her judgment with precision for one party or against another.

Coins from the days of ancient Rome depict this image of Lady Justice without the blindfold. Her eyes are open and she sees all the evidence before her. But ever since the Renaissance, Lady Justice has appeared with her eyes blindfolded. In the dispensing of justice, there should be complete objectivity. Blind justice. No cowering before the powerful. No trampling of the weak. No favoritism to any party. Complete impartiality.

This symbol of Lady Justice blindfolded is found in our courthouses and halls of justice. Could this symbol lose its meaning? (I think it already has considering most times it’s guilty until proven innocent vs. innocent until proven guilty.) Should the very notion of justice in an era of change be redefined?

With the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, our new President will have his chance at appointing his first Supreme Court judge. Other appointments will surely follow. The President has made clear his own understanding of the qualifications needed for the post. The President has reiterated the tried and true requirements of extensive legal training and experience as well as a devotion to the rule of law and a sound ethical record. But he also has added another prerequisite.

In July 2007, at a conference of Planned Parenthood, the President, prior to his election, had said this about future judges: “We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.”

On Friday May 1, 2009 during the White House press briefing, the President said, “I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation… I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” The President once again is remaining true to another promise that he made during his campaign for the presidency. (Obama’s consistent at least, he mentioned empathy both times. However he doesn’t know my struggles, the pain I have watching him and other politicians drag this country down by allowing abortion to happen. Yes I am a one issue voter I’ll admit that a person’s stance on abortion is what makes me vote for him/her, but I believe that life is one of the most precious gifts we can give someone and it shouldn’t be taken from the most defenseless, the pre-born. Yeah another promise that hurts the babies even more.)

For centuries, Western civilization has tried to achieve equal justice under the law. Does the requirement of empathy in a judge mean Lady Justice must now take off her blindfold? Is this a change for the better or not?

The President’s insistence on empathy as a quality in a good judge can claim biblical precedent. When Solomon began his rule, he prayed at Gibeon. He asked God not for riches and wealth, but for “an understanding heart, to govern [his] people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (1 Kgs 3:9). God granted him his request for empathy and his judgments became legendary. (Of course the Bible scholar would find something to quote and compare it too.)

In 1 Kings 3:16-28, the Scriptures relate an example story of Solomon’s ability to judge because he was empathetic. One day, two prostitutes came before Solomon. They both had a son, but one son died. Each woman claimed that the son that was alive was hers. Solomon was empathetic to the feeling of the true mother. He knew that she would prefer her son to live. And, so when he proposed cutting the live child in half and giving each woman half, the heart of the true mother was revealed. She preferred the other woman to have her son alive rather than each to be given half his dead body. (And he chose a story that most people will know.)

Solomon as a judge was empathetic. It was his “understanding heart” that saved the life of the child of a marginalized woman who was a true mother. “The wisdom of God was in him to do judgment” (1 Kgs 3:28).

Is Solomon the appropriate paradigm for the role of judge today? It is good to remember that the empathy that served Solomon well was not something he acquired on his own through training or experience. It was a gift that God gave him in answer to his prayer. Furthermore, Solomon was not limited to one role in governing his people. He was king and legislator as well as judge and last court of appeal.

Centuries have passed. Today in our democratic society, many people would be very uncomfortable in trusting to one individual, no matter how wise or spiritual, all the power that Solomon wielded in his day. We are in an imperfect world. In such a world, we have a system where the legislator is separate from the judge and where rights are guaranteed by law. ( Only the rights of some are guaranteed by some, the pre-born are forgotten by some laws; not the killing of a pregnant woman, then they are acknowledged. This country is so strange.)

Courts decide between the guilty and the innocent. Courts do not make the laws. They make their decisions on the basis of rights guaranteed in the law. Therefore, in a court of law, economic condition, sexual orientation, educational background can never be the determining factors. If a judge is to give special consideration in his decision to his own empathy, the question then arises, to which party in a case should he be empathetic? Would this be the death knell to impartiality? Will we suffer the tyranny of the courts where judges refashion our society according to their own opinion or political agenda?

Legislators elected by the people make the laws. Judges appointed by the government apply them. The distinction works. Lady Justice is blindfolded. But if the blindfold is going to be removed by a President who makes empathy a requirement for Supreme Court judges, will we have judges like Solomon? Will we finally have judges, as in the case of Solomon, with “an understanding heart,” judges who recognize a true mother always safeguards the life of her child? Will we have judges who protect the life of children, even those not yet born? Without empathy to those most vulnerable, there is no justice for all. (I don’t think I could have said it any better, that last sentence is quite true.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bishop Serratelli's weekly column from 4/30/2009

The second part of Bishop Serratelli's 2 part series on Tolerance. I've been slacking in posting because the pollen and the trees have been kicking my butt.

Tolerance: The Trojan Horse of Secular Liberalism- Bishop Serratelli’s weekly column from April 30, 2009 with my emphasis and comments.

In today’s society, the principle of tolerance has become the clarion call for people of diverse views, moral convictions and religious beliefs to live together with a sense of civility to one another. By its definition, tolerance is inclusive. It seeks to embrace all individuals in a society that does not condemn individuals simply because they are different. In terms of liberal secularists, tolerance is based on cultural diversity. It is a pragmatic way to keep the peace.

Yet, tolerance alone does not always work. The drive to equate same sex unions with marriage and to give them the same legal definition as marriage has also become an occasion for intolerance. Those who are committed to marriage as an institution designed by the Creator for a man and a woman are labeled discriminatory and unjust. (That we are.)

Most recently, this type of attitude surfaced during the Miss USA 2009 pageant. On April 20, 2009, one of the judges, Perez Hilton, who is quite open about his views, asked Carrie Prejean, Miss California, her view on legalizing gay marriage. Miss Prejean was not unaware of the trap that was being set for her. (Of course she wasn’t, this wasn’t your typical “beauty queen” question.) After affirming the freedom of choice (interesting choice of words, then again I’m on high alert with Obama being at Notre Shame next week.) that Americans enjoy, she went on to say, “…I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman.” Some in the audience booed her response, but others applauded even louder.

Miss California did not express an outrageous conviction. But Perez Hilton believes that her answer cost her the contest. His subsequent name calling of Miss California clearly revealed the inability to allow someone to disagree with the agenda that is behind the move to redefine marriage. (These so called promoters of equality for all, are so prejudiced it’s not even funny.)

Miss Prejean should be commended for her honesty and integrity. (I totally agree, God bless this young woman for standing up and not conforming to what society says she should believe and be.) Not everyone agrees. The Executive Director of Miss California USA/Teen USA has stated that he is “personally saddened and hurt that Miss CA USA 2009 believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman.” In a word, there is no room for disagreement. Is this not a form of intolerance? (I dare to say it is.)

The issue of tolerance and intolerance on the issue of marriage is not an academic question. If society labels those who oppose the legalization of gay marriage intolerant and discriminatory, the trajectory is set to curtail religious freedom. Anti-discrimination laws can then be invoked to monitor and control churches in the areas of sex education in the schools, the hiring of employees, the use of church facilities and in many other areas. (Unfortunately, even in our own diocese, this is happening, because children and their parents are in the public school frame of mind and CCD or Religious Education programs leave a lot to be desired when it comes to teaching Catholicism. Often times I feel that I’m too conservative for a Catholic school or church or as I like to say I’m too Catholic for them, which is sad, as I do nothing other than my duty as a Catholic, go to Mass on Sunday and uphold and teach the teachings of the Catholic Church.)

In our culture, tolerance has come to mean different things for different groups. But it certainly does not mean neutrality. This is clearly the case in growing confrontation between the secularist agenda and the Catholic Church in terms of health care. (Yes, which makes my decision to attend nursing school an interesting one, however it is at a hospital affiliated with the Catholic Church. I have yet to hear about my application, in case anyone was wondering.)

The Church has always favored responsible parenthood and has taught natural family planning as the moral means to achieve this goal. (While I am not a fan of natural family planning, I understand why it is used by some, but it is to be used to plan a child not to say we don't want a child right now so we're going to use NFP to not have children.) Based on the objective nature of human sexuality, the Church teaches that artificial contraception contradicts an authentic expression of marital love between a husband and a wife and, therefore, is morally unacceptable. For this reason, Catholic institutions do not include contraception in their health insurance for their employees. (I remember wanted to call him, Bishop Serratelli with an issue I had with my coverage when I worked for the Diocese of Paterson, but I don’t remember off hand what it was. I know the Archdiocese along with Oxford offers Catholic care which falls under this, maybe things have changed since I last had health coverage.) Up until recently, the laws included exemptions for conscientious objections clauses and protected the freedom of Catholics to live according to Catholic teaching in this area.

Today, however, secular liberals are experiencing great success in removing this freedom. At least eighteen states have enacted "contraceptive mandate" laws. The laws bear names such as The Women's Health and Wellness Act or The Women's Contraceptive Equity Act. These laws mandate health insurance plans to cover the costs of contraceptives. Any failure to do is punishable as discrimination.

Without the freedom to express one’s views and not be punished for them, without the freedom to hold to one’s moral and religious beliefs and live according, the dignity of the human person is denied and the common good of society itself is diminished. Government does not have the right to treat believers as a “divisive minority whose rights must always yield to the minority secular agenda, especially when religious people are overwhelmingly in the majority” (Cardinal Pell, “Varieties of Intolerance: Religious and Secular,” Divinity School of Oxford University, March 6, 2009).

Both Homer in the Odyssey and Virgil in the Aeneid relate the story of the Trojan horse. After a long, unresolved 10-year siege of Troy, the Greeks built a huge figure of a horse. Inside the horse, they left their warriors and sailed away. The Trojans took the horse into their city as a trophy for winning the war. During the night, the Greek warriors stealthily crept out of their hiding place, opened the city gates for the rest of the Greek army that had returned under the cover of dark and destroyed the city. What, at first, was seen as the sign of victory actually became the cause of defeat.

Today, our society has happily overcome many prejudices that divide us. We have managed to live in peace with people whose views and religions differ from one another. Secular liberals, however, market a truncated tolerance that leaves no room for those who oppose their secular agenda. If society welcomes such tolerance within its city gates, will it not be the Trojan Horse that brings the demise of a free society? (Oh it probably will be, this country is so far away from where it was with morals, and the sad part is that we, America, are not as bad as other countries.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bishop Serratelli's weekly column from 4/23/2009

As is usually the case for when I actually read the Bishop's weekly column I usually enjoy it and agree with what he has to say. The bold and italics are my additions for the most part there are a few I tried to bring over from the article. My comments are in the parentheses and are red.

Tolerance When Politics Reign Supreme

In 1878, President Hayes and his wife Lucy officially opened the White House grounds to the children for an egg roll event on Easter Monday. Except during the two World Wars, weather permitting, all the Presidents after Hayes have continued this tradition. Each Easter Monday, thousands of young people show up for this fun-filled event. Not only is it one of the oldest presidential traditions, it has become the largest annual event held at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In any event held at the White House, politics is never far from sight. This year, the first egg roll of the new administration was not any different. The souvenir egg was deliberately designed to signal concern for the environment. This certainly is part of the President’s agenda and not without merit. We are caretakers, not simply consumers, of the goods of this earth. (Exactly, we should care for the environment, but you don’t need to go overboard, God did create the Earth.) But there was a second innovation this year that carries with it a message that the White House wishes to give to the country. (One can only imagine what is it!)

The President enthusiastically welcomed the crowd. Mrs. Obama said, “Our goal today is just to have fun. We want to focus on activity, healthy eating. We've got yoga, we've got dancing, we've got storytelling, we've got Easter egg decorating, and we've got basketball, soccer as well.” But there was more to the event that just fun. It was a political statement made in bright colors. (Of course it was!)

The Washington Times (April 14, 2009) reported that same-sex parents wore rainbow-colored leis to the event. They were clearly drawing attention to their sexual orientation. What a sad situation. An event in which people of different religions, ethnic backgrounds and diverse moral convictions come together to have fun with the youngsters became a moment for some to push their agenda of changing the culture. (I wonder what would happen if I showed up wearing a Rock for Life or other Pro-life shirt, stating that abortion is murder, or one saying Proud to be Catholic, or even better one that said I’m a heterosexual, don’t know how much they would like that.)

But this was not a spontaneous demonstration on the part of the participants. It was orchestrated by the White House itself. (How sad, that the White House orchestrated it. I guess people would bitch and moan if something promoting a respect for life as in stopping abortion was started by the White House.) In a studied effort to make a statement about the future of marriage in this country, the White House allotted tickets for the event to gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples. Representatives from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other groups that promote same sex unions as equal to marriage reported that they had been encouraged to have their members come out to the event. (How disgraceful, and I know I’m going to sound bigoted and homo-phobic, but I’m not, you can live your life as you want, just live it chastely as all people are called to live and celibate, like all single are called to. Marriage is a sacrament and we need to start teaching it that way again and looking at it that way, it’s a calling, it won’t be easy and it’s all about just living with each other.)

Events like this are staged, organized and executed on the principle of tolerance. Today’s secular liberalism has espoused tolerance as its foundational truth. But secular liberals do not apply tolerance to every situation with equal zeal.

In the same week that the White House made a point of showcasing its gay- friendly agenda, the White House also issued a request to a Catholic institution that violates the very concept of tolerance. Before the President made his first speech as President at Georgetown, the prestigious Jesuit University, the White House, according to the Los Angeles Times, asked Georgetown University to cover all religious symbols (Guess Obama doesn’t like competition, or just can’t admit that he’s human, and that it doesn’t matter what is written above his head.) at the scene of the President's economic speech.

When President Obama gave his speech on economics on April 14, he spoke on a stage in Gaston Hall. Behind the place where the President stood, there is normally seen the monogram IHS. These letters are the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek. For the President’s speech, the university covered the letters. (It’s just sad how “Catholic” Universities have forgotten how to defend Christ and His Bride.)

Why is it acceptable that the President of the United States can be seen one day with gays and lesbians publicly displaying their convictions, but on the very next day cannot be seen in a Catholic institution with a symbol of its faith on display? (I wish I knew Bishop Serratelli, I wish I knew. It’s a good question that the Bishop puts forth, seems ironic that Obama can’t be tolerant when it comes to the Church.)

One can only wonder about the courage of an institution that hides the symbols of its own faith. Has the symbol lost its meaning? Does the institution value faith as the life-principle of its intellectual pursuit of truth? (This reminds of the first homily I heard Bishop Serratelli give. Seton Hall have the Bishop the honor of saying our Mass of the Holy Spirit, the opening Mass of the year. During his homily, Bishop Serratelli came and said WE NEED TO BE CATHOLIC, not just in our actions, but in how we teach as well. I am paraphrasing as the homily was a good nine or eight years ago, but I do remember how forceful and how poignant it was that the Bishop a professor at SHU was basically telling off his co-workers, and I was proud to call him Bishop then and still am today.)

The White House’s request for a Catholic university to hide a symbol of Catholicism in order to accommodate the presence of the President is a gross example of the intolerance that has infected the relationship of the State to the Church. (Quite true!) At the least, the university’s compliance with the request missed an opportunity to make a statement about a right understanding of tolerance. When partisan politics reign supreme, tolerance for opposing beliefs will quickly vanish. In a just society, tolerance cannot be a one way street.

+Arthur Serratelli

Well said Bishop, well said. He’s been quite on the Notre Dame situation but I’m thinking that might come out next week as I think this is a 2 part series on tolerance. I’m hoping he says something about Notre Dame, it’s not like him to be this quiet about something in the pro-life movement or something that can be used as teaching moment, he’s done it before.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Trip to Madison

Myself and two other adults took 6 of our "youth group teens" to visit our former pastor. I managed to meet the pastoral associate from St. Vincent as Fr. George had her come on our Women's Cornerstone retreat. With her help we were able to keep it a complete surprise and he had no clue to expect us. Samantha, one of the adults, and I were planning our own trip down to see him, and said to him in our recent e-mails hope to see you soon.

As Sam and I walked in first he wasn't too surprised, but one the 7 others came in the smile that came across his face was similar to one he has on in the above picture. I don't remember the last time I saw him smile like that, about a month after our Jubilee Mass for our 100th anniversary at which the above picture was taken, Fr. George was told he was being moved, so November, December, and January were not happy times in the parish. By a complete twist of God's insane humor Fr. George was actually coming to say the 12pm Mass at St. Anthony's, the Mass that Jerry, the other adult, and I are normally at. Fr. George laughed when I said, did you see that I took myself off the EM list for today.

To see his face go from, the classic emotion less face to a smile that couldn't be wiped off as well worth the trip down even if we knew he was coming up to us. He told us where he distributes Communion and that the 1st 4 rows for for the Communion kids, so we sat in the row right behind the Communion kids. Fr. George went to put his alb on and then came back to us. I think we honestly left him speechless and I'm pretty sure with tears in his eyes. He welcomed us as he does all who visit his parish, but we got the special greeting of "a delegation of youth from St. Anthony's." Despite focusing much of his attention on the teens and typical of myself I do the work and get no credit, it was well worth it. Fr. George is missed and most certainly will be for a while. We all commented on how strange it was to not have a deacon at Mass, our parish has 4, Fr. George's has none, and it was also strange to have a priest who chants. Fr. Martin and Fr. Brian both do not sing so in the idea of rather have it spoken than sung badly, they speak the normally chanted parts of the Eucharistic prayer.

Samantha and I happened to be walking around St. Anthony's after we got back, and happened to see our new pastor twice and he said hi girls, and Deacon Dick asked, what are you doing, as he had seen us in the Jubilee Garden and then again as we walked back. We said we were down in Madison this morning visiting the man saying Mass right now. Fr. Martin our pastor laughed and I was glad to see a smile on his face, it hasn't been an easy month for him. My goal now is to bring a smile to Fr. Martin's face. I want to finally have my "we need to talk" meeting with the pastor. With Fr. George leaving I didn't want to bother him with petty issues in the parish he was leaving, and Fr. Brian was just temporary administrator, so I waited to see the new pastor. Now I'm planning on asking/telling I'll take over running the Confirmation program and take young adult ministry from our youth minister, who just had her first child, and I'll take pro=life ministry over too, I just need a pay check. I'll gladly take a part time position so I can go to school courtesy of the Diocese of Paterson. We shall see what will happen and if I have the nerve to say anything.

I forgot to add that at the end of Mass someone turned to us and said "thanks for your pastor." We joked about it and said, yeah yeah it's not like we gave him up or wanted him to leave, you guys stole him from us, we did keep our comments to just our group. But it was nice to hear someone say thank you, I think I shall do the same for St. Ann's.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday

So now that it's almost a week away from Easter, I'll sit and blog about the homilies I heard. So I finished out the Triduum with the Vigil and was quite impressed with my new pastor. While not Fr. Brian's passionate take on the Eucharist and the Priesthood from Thursday night, it was a good homily. Fr. Martin and Fr. Brian are similar yet totally different.

Fr. Martin has seemed semi subdued in his homilies since arriving at the parish, however his homily from the Vigil caused me to remark "I think we got a glimpse of the real Fr. Martin tonight." It can not be easy for a man to pack his bags and leave everything he knew to come to a new country 41 years ago as was asked of Fr. Martin when he left Ireland to come to the States to serve the diocese as a priest, to be asked to do the same thing again shows how much the man loves the priesthood and reminds us of the vow of obedience. As I say the bishop says "jump" the priest responds with "how high?"

Fr, Martin started out his homily by telling us that he was strengthened in his own faith by us, the community of St. Anthony, coming out in great numbers on Palm Sunday, and the amount of people who came for the Triduum. The Church was not packed as it has been in the past but we did have a decent crowd at each of the sections of the Triduum. (Our parish is also 3 times the size if not 4 times the size of his old parish) Fr. Martin went on to thank those that help make the parish beautiful, the staff, Frank (who is in charge of the flowers and decoration of the church), music, servers, readers, Eucharist Ministers, and hospitality. Saved him from having the mention everyone at the end of the Mass, and it was nice to hear in the homily.

Fr. Martin went on to talk about those who have lost a loved one and how Easter is what reminds us that we are buried as a tired body, no soul... that death is a door way to the next life. He went into this by telling us a story of a 4 year old boy who was visiting the cemetery with his grandmother. As he started the story I turned to my friend Jerry and said oh "like Sean" as Fr. Martin mentioned that the young boy was running ahead of his grandmother. While running ahead of his grandmother the young boy stopped by a tombstone and started asking questions, "what's that, what does that say" The boy's grandmother explained that one part was the person's name, the other the date that person was born and the other date the day that person died. A bit further up the graveyard the young boy stopped at another tombstone and asked the same questions, the grandmother responded with the same answers expect this time, there was no date of death, this person was just thinking ahead. The little boy went home and was asked by his mother how he day was and the little boy answered with, "we went to the cemetery and there are people buried there that aren't even death yet." Of course the congregation laughed and
Fr. Martin moves on to how losing a loved one is hard and never easy but that we should remember that we are just a tired body when we are buried, that our souls go to Heaven to be with Jesus, Mary and the Saints, and saints.

Fr. Martin told a second story. He mentioned that we may not know but that he's a huge football fan and he spoke of how a few years ago, when the Giants weren't doing so well, some people took him to a game. He told of how he sat at the game surrounded by Giants fans and how he heard the Giant fans behind him cheering throughout the game. It was strange as the fans would cheer as the Giants would fumble the ball, which is of course not something you normally cheer for. Turns out that the fans behind Fr. Martin had their headphones on and were listening to the Yankee game and the Yankees were playing well in the playoffs. The church erupted in laughter. Fr. Martin finished up his homily with "in the same way that these fans were pumping their fists for their teams, we are to go and pump our fists for Jesus and proclaim that He is Risen."

So when Fr. Brian walked into the gym pumping his fist, I turned to Jerry and said, oh someone took last night's homily to heart. Fr. Brian looked at us like we were crazy but when we said, homily last night fist pumping, he laughed along with us. Easter Sunday was no different for Fr. Brian, he gave another kick ass homily. Like Fr. Martin he spoke of death and resurrection. Fr. Brian spoke of how Easter is reason death isn't bad. He started by having us take a moment of silence for those whom we knew who last in the last year, he had happened to lose his godmother this past year and his mom within 5 years. (Which makes me think that his mom died shortly after he was ordained, he speaks of how her proudest moment must have been when he was ordained, so she was alive for that.) Anyway, both homilies caused me to think of my friend, Katie, and how this would be her first Easter without her son, and then it made me think of her two aunts who had also lost children in the last two years.

After that reminder that Easter is what makes death not so bad, Fr. Brian focused on the Eucharist and that we should be there 52 Sundays not just Easter. He told us that Easter was the time to either commit or recommit to attending Sunday Mass. It was a very nicely put, get your ass to Mass, comment, and that is why I love Fr. Brian, he very nicely said to come to Mass, like you are supposed to. He tells you as it is and is offended if you don't agree.

He went on in his homily to speak about how at Easter "as the risk of sounding like a woman, I buy a new pair of shoes every year at Easter." Fr. Brian's shoes were nice and shiny so I assumed they were either polished or brand new. He spoke of how we should go get new shoes so that every time we put those shoes on we say, I'm going to be a better... priest, son, daughter, mother, father, friend, person. Fr. Brian then added in well in this economy maybe you can't afford new shoes, so get a new toothbrush and pray while brushing your teeth. Saying let no gossip or evil come out of my mouth.

The passion with which Fr. Brian speaks amazes me, like Archbishop Dolan (he's in my head because of his installation.) he is a happy man, a happy priest and that shows. With a last name of Sullivan, I'm assuming there is a fair bit of "Irishness" in him so he can be feisty you can say, but he always preaches to himself first and then the people. You will always hear him say, make me a better person, a better priest, us better people before he says ." make you a better person."

Fr. Brian's priesthood and personality have a tremendous gift to me, I just wish I was able to put it into words. I'm sure that Fr. Martin will have some influence on me in the coming years. I pray that both Fr. Brian and Fr. Martin are granted many years at St. Anthony's and that they continue to be great priests.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Archbishop Dolan

I'm working on my Easter Homilies post but for now I'm going to comment on Archbishop Dolan's installation.

Thanks to American Papist for the link to the picture stream from Archbishop Dolan's installation ceremonies.

These are in no particular order as there was no set order to the way the pictures came up on Yahoo.

In the first picture that comes up, Archbishop Dolan reminds of Cardinal O'Connor. Having lived 14 out of my almost 30 years in the Archdiocese of NY, Cardinal O'Connor was my bishop. I never truly realized what I had until after he died. My mom lays claim that Cardinal Cooke is from the same area of Galway that her family is that that quite possibly we are related. I was honored and grateful to see Cardinal Cooke be mentioned in Archbishop Dolan's homily. Cardinals Cooke and O'Connor were champions of the respect life movement, and it's nice to see their successor seems to have come out with guns ablazin'.

Watching the local New York media coverage of the Mass annoyed me, as I hate when the "reporters" talk about something when I just want to watch the Mass. They talked over the Psalm reminding us that the Hispanic population is growing with in the Church in NY. Channel 5's (the local fox station) annoyed me by not knowing the difference between a catherda and a cathedral. My mom pointed out that it could have been a simple mistake, and I said yes then the priest who was there could have said, it's the seat, the catherda, that allows Archbishop Dolan to speak laws, not the cathedral. I know that I know more than most Catholics so I caught that mistake, but again talking over the Psalm, not translating the readings that were not in English (maybe that was an oversight at the Mass booklet was available on line.

Anyway, having read Archbishop Dolan's homilies and seeing the press releases via the Archdiocese's web page and seeing AMDG and JMJ on the top page of the press release, makes me smile as I have hopes that Archbishop Dolan will not be quiet on matters of a "political" nature and that he will stand up for and defend Holy Mother Church, and I think he will do just that. I switched over to EWTN's live stream on the internet as I just couldn't take the talking over Mass, it was a beautiful ceremony and what I remember is how thankful, humble and sincere the Archbishop was. My mom and I watched the first 30 minutes of the replay on EWTN last night (we only get EWTN for a few hours a day) before it cut over to the Protestants and their "Praise You Jesus, send my church money" show. I had watched these 30s minutes via the local media and you missed a lot about Timothy Dolan. What you saw and heard was the new Archbishop standing watching nearly 900 priests walk past him and you heard him say time and time again "thank you brothers, thank you for being hear, I need you, pray for me." He even commented "what priest shortage" all this was missed because the local media cared about his fancy vestments, things he as to worry about, and commenting that he called the Cardinals and Bishops by their first name(really I don't hear my parish priests calling each other "father", they call each other by their first name, the same way we do with our family, yes it sounds strange to us, but really it was not worth pointing out.) I was deeply moved by how easily the Archbishop said thank you to his priests and how happy he is. He says that he wants to be a happy bishop and I think the pictures below show him to be just that a happy bishop.

The Archbishop asked in his editorial in the New York Daily News for us to pray for him. He asked parents and teachers to have children say a Haily Mary for him daily as he knows children's prayers are more powerful. I will attempt to pray daily for Archbishop Dolan and for the rest of the bishops including my own bishop, Arthur Serrateli, and the many priest who have entered and touched my life over the past 30 years.

In one of these pictures you see Archbishop Dolan reaching out to help the priest who happened to trip up the stairs, I think that speaks for the Archbishop's demeanor and character. I also notice what seems to be a very devout man who loves the ritual and traditions of Holy Mother Church.

WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD ARCHBISHOP DOLAN! May God bless you and grant you many years as the Archbishop of NY, and may that fiery Irish spirit that is within you hearken to the likes of Fulton Sheen, Terence Cooke and John O'Connor.

Archbishop Sheen, Terence Cardinal Cooke, John Cardinal O'Connor... pray for us!

Happy Birthday Holy Father


It does not seem like a year since Pope Benedict was here and I was at Mass at "Old Yankee Stadium" May God continue to bless Pope Benedict with good health and energy for many years to come. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pictures of St. Anthony's during Holy Week

I decided to take pictures of the church during Holy week, mainly Palm Sunday and the Triduum. Our decorations for lent are what you see for Palm Sunday, just take away any thing red or that is a plant. Maybe next year as long as I have permission from my pastor and vicar, maybe I'll take more pictures during the actual services. Most of these shots were taking in my rather quick, let me get the picture and run type attitude. Our church is always decorated wonderfully no matter the season, and Frank puts an awful lot of work and thought into it. It's a large post, feel free to click on the pictures to see the larger image. It amused me to no end that I managed to find 5 pictures from each service to put up here, as that is all I was allowed to upload at once.

Some shots of St. Anthony's on Palm Sunday.

Shots from St. Anthony's on Holy Thursday. Since it was during Adoration that I was taking the pictures I took them without the flash so as to not disturb anyone. The second picture is of the altar stripped, it struck how beautiful our altar is without anything on it. I doubt the picture will do it justice. The forth picture is our Garden of Gethsemane and is always beautifully set up. The last picture was from where I sat during Adoration, pretty much the last pew of the church, and I don't know but my eyes kept going over to the cross vs. the tabernacle that was in front of me.

Shots of St. Anthony's on Good Friday. I took the pictures without a flash as so to not disturb anyone. The last picture was the set up for our Tenebrae service.

Some shots of St. Anthony's at Easter. The last picture is the altar in the gym. We have an overflow Mass at 12:15 this way the church crowd isn't out the door at teh 12pm Mass.

Good Friday 2009

Fr. Martin gave our temporary vicar Fr. Marek the Good Friday service. Fr. Marek gave a very nice homily, but I don't remember it. All that means is that it didn't touch me the way other homilies have and part of that is the Polish accent Fr. Marek has. In the 2 months that Fr. Marek has been at the parish we have been truly blessed to have him and Good Friday reminded me of this.

Fr. Marek is ordained at most 5 years, he was born and raised in Poland so the traditional Catholic shows. He says Mass with the utmost reverence and care. I happened to find out that he could chant when he chanted some of the prayers on Palm Sunday. In my mind since he can chant it made him the logical choice for Good Friday. Hearing Fr. Marek chant the general intercessions brought me back to the days when my family would go to the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion at our parish in the Bronx. Fr. Dervin would always do the chanting at our parish in the Bronx so it brought back some good memories.

It was nice to have the Good Friday service done simply with no extras attached to it, it helped one to focus on what really happened on Good Friday. Fr. Marek's chanting is what touched me that day, because it has been nearly 16 years since I've heard it done correctly if at all. By extras I mean our former pastor, Fr. George, and our cantor Cindy singing the intersessions or whatever they used to do. It was nice to have the simple traditional old school style service.

Our parish has been blessed to have Fr. Marek for these past few weeks, and I understand it is up to Fr. Martin whether or not Fr. Marek stays. If he stays he stays, if he goes he goes, but I'm glad I was able to meet him and get to know him. It's nice to see a young priest who is so traditional.

Holy Thursday 2009

My former pastor, Fr. George, and my current pastor, Fr. Martin, seem to be similarly minded when it comes to the Triduum. They each hand different parts of it to the vicars at the parish, both gave Fr. Brian the Mass of the Lord's Supper, Fr. George last year, and Fr. Martin this year. Much like last year Fr. Brian did not disappoint.

I have always liked Fr. Brian, and he just keeps getting better and better, I said many times I love him, and I truly do. Fr. Brian aka FB is one of the "later vocations" as in he was ordained at age 40 vs. age 25. He speaks simply and sincerely and doesn't hold back, he tells you to get your ass to Mass, not in those words but that's what he means,and he will say point blank this is what it's about, Mass is important.

It's been a few days since the homily so here's hoping the homily pointers I left myself will jog my memory. Fr. Brian started his homily by reminding us that Holy Week calls us to be holy, and that it allows us to ask what makes us holy, how can I be holy, why am I Catholic, what makes me Catholic, and how can I be Catholic. Each question can be easily answered by the Eucharist, and that's what Fr. Brian told us. He mentioned how do I stay Catholic, considering that we became Catholic at our Baptism, and I all I could think of was my Top Ten Reasons to STAY Roman Catholic t-shirt. I kept thinking is he going to mention my shirt, but he didn't he just answered all the questions with The Eucharist is what makes us Catholic and we need to live the Eucharist.

How does one live the Eucharist he asked or how does one be Catholic; by doing more than just showing up. Fr. Brian came right out and said how about you send a letter over to Fr. Jenkins at Notre Dame and tell him it's wrong to have a person speak at a Catholic college who think abortion is right. It goes against what we stand for. Fr. Brian put it much better, but the smile that came on my face as soon as he said send a letter to Fr. Jenkins had to be seen by him. If it would have been appropriate to stand up and cheer for a homily I think I would have. But Fr. Brian didn't just stop there he went on to tell us to defend marriage, true marriage between a man and a woman, and to defend traditional family life.

As I said last year the passion with which he speaks is amazing, and it's heartfelt. Fr. Brian went on the give examples of the priesthood and how our former pastor Fr. George gave of himself in many ways, most notably by giving a kidney to his sister Jeanine (who was at Mass that night with us vs. being at her brother's new parish, and by saying yes to the bishop. "It broke his heart to have to leave this parish, but he said yes like he has done throughout his priesthood." Without missing a beat Fr. Brian pointed out that Fr. Martin did the same thing by saying yes to the bishop and accepting the position at St. Anthony's. After 27 years Fr. Martin left his parish family and came to us, Fr. Brian of course added his humor into it by saying, he does have to live me with now and that's not easy.

Typical of Fr. Brian he does what the rubrics calls for, he preached on the Eucharist and the priesthood. He pointed out that each of the deacons have taken their own ministries up, be it baptismal prep, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick or welcoming people into Church and how they too are living their vocations.

Mass continued as normal for Holy Thursday. Fr. Brian likes things simple as he has pointed out to us, so that is how the washing of the feet happened. 12 people came forward after the 12 chairs were placed for them, Fr. Brian took of his chasuble and stole got down on his knees and washed feet. I don't remember if it was during his homily or if I read it somewhere, but I think it was during Fr. Brian's homily, where we were reminded that the King of Kings, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity got down on His knees and washed dirty smelly feet and we are called to Christ to others, we may not have to wash feet, but we need to be Christ to others. It was during Fr. Brian's homily that I heard it because I can hear him saying it.

It was a beautiful start to the Triduum, and I am truly blessed and quite happy to have such wonderful priests at my parish and in my life.