Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"It's cool to be Catholic"

A few years ago my dad stumbled upon these bracelets and bought a bunch for my siblings, myself and my other catholic friends. Although, we haven't been wearing them until recently when I stumbled upon them in my room. So now my friends and I are wearing them everyday! It's pretty awesome.




What's better is the other student's reactions when they ask/find out what it means. =D

It IS cool to be Catholic!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thank you all!

Thank you all so much for giving me your input into college's seminaries that I should look into. Your help has been greatly appreciated!

For now I will keep looking and talking to people/vocational directors about what I should do. I have time. But it's never too early to start. All I know is that I long to become a priest and to get some schooling in Sacred Music and Theology. Whether I go to college then seminary, or seminary that sends me to college (And where I would be!) is what I will be looking into now.

Please keep me and my discernment in your prayers! Know that you all are in mine!

God Bless-

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Love of Confession

One of the blessings for which I thank Jesus is the Sacrament of Confession...because even as I struggle with all my sins, I know He is there through His chosen representative, and offers me mercy in a very personal way. Whether I'm behind a screen or sitting in a chair, I know I am in the presence of Christ...such that my heart has been converted on the spot.

I love this sacrament, yet I still struggle with it. But it is something that we shouldn't struggle with at all! It should be something that anyone could go do on a moments notice. It can be difficult, at times, to go to confession. We fall behind on it so it all builds up and we're afraid, or we commit something mortifying and the thought of telling a priest is embarrassing! But confession should be embarrassing!

I'm absolutely convinced that, among other reasons, the Lord instituted this wonderful Sacrament to give us an opportunity to practice humility. Pride is the root of all sin. Humility conquers pride. In order to get the grace of humility, we must practice it. Stepping into a confessional takes courage and humility. There are graces which come with absolution to help us fight sin and build holiness in our life. Anyone who goes frequently can tell you that with time it gets easier. The building of humility and the reduction of pride is what makes it easier. The Angel of Darkness may fool us into thinking that we just can't confess something out of shame or that we don't "need to go today" it wasn't "that bad." We should put him in his rightful place by making an act of humility and stepping into that confessional anyways.

Whatever the reason, we must always remember that God's mercy endures FOREVER! No matter what! "Peace to people of good will!" -- Peace to those who want it!

I believe the problem is rooted in our culture's loss of the sense of sin. Our culture is relentless in telling people that there are no absolute truths, and that what's true or good or evil depends on the situation -- or that it depends on the opinion of the individual. So, a lot of people are morally confused -- deceived, really. And we have to reach out to help these people to come back to the sacrament.

The beautiful truth is that the more we go to confession, the more we grow in holiness. We experience real conversion every day. We are less absorbed in material things. We find we have the grace to see the world differently and to think and act differently. We have real intimate friendship with Jesus.

Confession becomes even more "catchy" when you learn to use it for the purpose of building virtue. This is where priests can really help a soul on a personal level to build holiness. There can be no growth in holiness while we are in a state of mortal sin because it weighs a soul down like an anchor. Really, it is in working on the small things - the venial matters, that we learn to tame our appetites on the heavy hitters - grave or mortal sin.

We've forgotten that confession isn't a conversation with a priest; it's a dialogue with God. The priest has been chosen, ordained to serve "in persona Christi," in the person of Christ -- to forgive sins in Christ's name. No one else but the priest has been given this power on earth.

Confession is an amazing and wonderful grace given to us from God. One of the BEST works offered by the Church no doubt! All we need to do is have the humility to walk into that confessional! Then, miraculously, all of our sins confessed are forgiven! What a beautiful and indescribable event takes place all within 15 minutes!

The only sin not forgiven is the one not confessed. No matter how horrible, no matter how humiliating, we must ALL seek God's forgiveness and mercy in Confession.


Our obligation...

Being a 15 year old high school student, I am surrounded by drama and gossip. Normally I try to avoid these situations/conversations and block them out, or simply walk away. But lately I've been reminded that this is not what we as Christians are called to do.

We all have an obligation to stop the rumors and gossip. Not to just walk away, or ignore it. Who are we to judge those person's personal lives and actions? We aren't God! We have no right to judge others. We wouldn't want to be judged ourselves if gossip were to be spread about us, would we?

If I encounter this, I need to remember to say, "I don't participate in gossip." Then I should leave if people continue. People will quickly learn not to do it around me or to not try to draw information out of me. I know I will constantly fight the devil on this. That's really what that is, the devil trying to drag us down in ways that do or do not look like a trap, or a "bad situation."

The Catechism states that;

"2492: Everyone should observe an appropriate reserve concerning persons’ private lives. Those in charge of communications should maintain a fair balance between the requirements of the common good and respect for individual rights."

"Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbour?” (James 4:11-12).

That pretty much says it all.

This is, no doubt, a HARD task/habit to break. But I am confident it can be done. With prayer and patience. Each day we should all try to break this terrible habit. If we fail, we confess it and move on. That's all we can do.

May God give us all the strength to stand up against those who spread evil against another's name. Whether it be gossip, calumny, or merely rumor. We all have an obligation to stop it.

Cardinal Newman Poised for Beatification

You can read the article HERE at New Liturgical Movement.

Praise God!

May the soon to be Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s writings bring many to the font of the Catholic Church!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

College/Seminary

More and more I've been leaning to going to college before seminary. I think I want to get my bachelors in Sacred Music, and Theology (liturgy). I just don't know of a good orthodox Catholic college that offers this. I am going to be talking to the vocations director sometime soon, but I thought I'd ask you for your input. Anyone know of a good college (anywhere, not just in the U.S.) that I should look into for this, or for ideas?? Then, after I graduate, I think I will go into the seminary. What I'm praying/thinking over now is whether I am called into a religious order (such as the FSSP) or to go into parish work. Whatever one would best benefit from my strengths.

I know I'm only a sophomore. But I want to have some idea as to where I want to go, and I want to be prepared for it. Both financially, and spiritually. It's never too early to start looking, especially when it's over entering a lifetime service in the priesthood.

God will deliver. I just need to be patient. We all do.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Discernment

Every so often I have to post on vocational discernment because it's one of the reasons I founded my blog and a topic that I will constantly ponder my whole life, for my vocation to God will never be complete.

So much to my frustration, I learned that just because the Lord was calling me to greater union with Him did not mean he was going to show me the way so easily.

Occasionally I would be hit with an especially difficult problem/situation and so I went to Jesus to ask for help, or insight, or strength. Or simply that His will be done. And Jesus got me through those times and will get me through those rough times to come.

I came to realize that my previous attitude of driving myself to success at any cost does not work with God; he works on His time, not mine.

Over and over, I have crashed and burned. And will continue to crash and burn. Yet He continues to show me such mercy and patience. Perhaps God has something waiting around the corner, which is often the case. I have resigned myself to His will...I can do nothing without Him.

I dream of solitude, and the time to praise and sing and to dedicate myself to God, yet I cannot do this as long as I must endure the torment of this world. Sometimes I just want to get rid of everything I own so as to have the freedom to exist with God, but I realize that these feelings are often out of selfishness, not selflessness. Maybe the suffering God wants me to endure is being stuck in the ignorance and pain of each day and all of it's challenges. To be where God wants me to be, not where "I" want to be. Now I have to make myself content to depend upon God's will, where I can see no future for myself other than the presence of God and God alone.

Only time will tell. God will reveal himself when He desires, and until that point I will continue to pray, and worship, and to seek holiness in the simplicity of life without worrying about things of this world.

So for now, I am simply myself, and hopefully becoming the young man God wants me to be, whether as a priest, or a father of a priest. "Let it be done to me according to your will!"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today is Pope Benedict's 4th year after being elected the 265th Successor of Peter.

Divine Mercy Sunday

During the course of Jesus' revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

Devotion to The Divine Mercy involves a total commitment to God's Mercy. It is a decision to trust completely in Him, to accept His mercy with thanksgiving, and to be merciful as He is.

Mercy is the perfection of love. What Jesus wants from us is that we should love the same way that He has loved us. His love goes far beyond forgiving our sins, He becomes the sacrifice that takes away our sins.

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion-- inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Missing It...

Now that Lent is over, and the Divine Mercy Novena done, I'm going to really miss being at the church everyday.

During Lent, I had vespers, and morning Mass, and stations, and other Masses, and benediction, and so on. But now it is all gone. Which is sad. I'm going to put more effort into staying close to the church and what it has to offer outside of Lent. Lent shouldn't be the only time we suffer, and pray, and are devoted to the Church's liturgy--but year round! I want to always be in that state.

Easier said than done..

The Church

We speak of people "converting to Catholicism," but more accurately, one "enters into full communion" with the Church. To say that one enters into "full" communion shows that one is already in some manner, in communion with the Church. Which is exactly what the Church teaches.

Lumen Gentium, which means,"light of the nations!" (Catholic Matters-Neuhaus) The Church says that all Christians who are baptized and believe in Jesus Christ are "in certain but imperfect communion" with the Church. That "light" holds the nations together and is the foundation of them all throughout time. Anyone who understands this can't argue invalidity. The Catholic Church has been around since the beginning from which all other denominations have branched .

In this view, entering into full communion is a matter of perfecting the imperfect. This is hard for both other Christians to take, and Catholics to explain. In today's culture, one is supposed to say that all religions are more or less equal to one another. Whatever religion "works for you." But then the Catholic Church "breaks" society's "rules" by talking about the perfect and imperfect.

But what is the Church to do when we believe that we are the Church of Jesus Christ? Most fully connected and ordered through time. Not everyone accepts this however. Not by a long shot!

Another example of this is when we state that, "the Catholic Church is the body of Christ. There is only one Christ and so there can only be one body of Christ." There are many churches, and many denominations but there is only one Church.

I do not mean to argue that all Christians should become Catholic. The point of this is to show how Catholics view those outside of the church. I didn't know how this all worked out, and I just stumbled upon this in my reading, and thought I'd share it with you. It makes sense... Just like a lot of things about the Catholic Church. =D

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wise Words From a Holy Man

Pray, Hope and Don't Worry


St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Divine Mercy Novena

Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. Showing himself to a young nun, named Sister Faustina, with two beams of light coming from His heart, one red and one white. The red being His blood and passion, the white being His purity, and love.





He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:

"These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy."

The different souls prayed for on each day of the novena are:

DAY 1 (Good Friday) - All mankind, especially sinners

DAY 2 (Holy Saturday) - The souls of priests and religious

DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) - All devout and faithful souls

DAY 4 (Easter Monday) - Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him

DAY 5 (Easter Tuesday) - The souls of separated brethren

DAY 6 (Easter Wednesday) - The meek and humble souls and the souls of children

DAY 7 (Easter Thursday) - The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy

DAY 8 (Easter Friday) - The souls who are detained in purgatory;

DAY 9 (Easter Saturday) - The souls who have become lukewarm.

He is Risen!

… The Lord has Indeed Risen, Alleluia! Glory and kingship be his forever and ever!

Easter is the feast of feasts, the ultimate joy and gladness of all Christians.

Easter means, the Redemption obtained — sin destroyed, death overcome, divine life brought back to us, the resurrection of our body which is promised immortality. With such a certitude, we should banish all traces of sadness.

"Haec dies quam fecit Dominus" (This is the day which the Lord has made.) Throughout the octave we shall sing of the joy which throws open eternity to us. Every Sunday will be a reminder to us of it, and from Sunday to Sunday, from year to year, the Easters of this earth will lead us to that blessed day, which Christ has promised that He will come again with glory to take us with Him into the kingdom of His Father.

“Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor 5:6b-8)


The Easter Masses went beautifully. The church was decorated in a very holy and beautiful manner. All went smoothly, and we welcomed into the Church 3 new adult Catholics and 3 young babies. =D Don't let anyone tell you that the Church is dying! At the vigil we had 6 altar servers, 3 sets of two brothers! It was a beautiful Mass.

This Easter I have a lot to be thankful for. God has bestowed MANY graces upon me and my family. Ones that are both easy and hard to accept.

Along this past year I have really grown in my faith. It seems as each year goes by I fall more in love with God and His Church. I've also become closer to my family and God. They are the only things that matter to me. Whereas before I relied on others, and the material happiness of this world. Now, understand this is all a work in progress, one I will be working on my whole life. It's just that this past year I have really felt longing for God, and He has indeed answered my prayers.

Praised be Jesus Christ, Now and Forever! Amen.

I wish you all a most joyous and blessed Easter!

God Bless-

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Our Trip to the Smoky Mountains

















How could one not think about God's greatness, and His love for us in a place such as this! This is only a few pictures of what we saw there. Look at what He has created for us! Look at what beauty there is in this world!

--"For eye has not seen, nor ear has heard, what God has ready for those who love Him."

Tenebrae

This past week my family went on vacation to the smoky mountains, coming back we stopped in Cincinnati to see the Cathedral St. Peter in Chains. While there we attended both a Mass, and their Tenebrae service. The Tenebrae service was absolutely sublime. I broke into tears about three times throughout it.

At the cathedral they have an amazing choir of 9 men and 9 women (professionals). Here's what they sang at the service;

Hallock: Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts
Poulenc: Timor et Tremor
Chant: Lamentations of Jeremiah
Victoria: Eram Quasi Agnus
Casals: O vos omnes
Bach: Passiontide Chorale
Allegri: Miserere
Arr. Proulx: Lord Jesus Christ Humbled Himself
Ingeneri: Tenebrae Factae Sunt
Bruckner: Christus Factus Est
--The music and atmosphere there was sublime. I keep using that word, but it seems to be the only word that fits.


THE OFFICE OF TENEBRAE

The word tenebrae comes from the Latin word for "darkness" or "shadows." Monks chant psalms in the darkness of the night called "Matins" or "Lauds." These offices of during the Sacred Triduum began to be anticipated the evening before Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Tenebrae then started being sung on only Wednesday evening and is officially restricted to the Cathedral.


As the chants and readings progress, candles are gradually extinguished until only one is left.

For a brief time, during the Lord's prayer, the church remains in complete darkness, meditating on Christ's death and victory of darkness and evil in our lives. Until you are startled by a loud noise, the "strepitus," symbolizing the earthquake at the time of the Resurrection. Then the candle reappears and we all depart in silence.



(The Strepitus)

btw: Thanks Diane for letting me borrow this picture!

--The "Miserere Mei" was indescribable! So haunting. I think that's where all the emotions hit me the hardest. Hearing that soprano hit that high note head-on, so pure and easy, so exact, gave me goose-bumps! I have it playing now on here. It is the song playing when you first come to the Blog. My dad said that the music he heard there was some of the best performed live music he's ever heard in all of his musical experience. It was truly amazing. What a gift God gave my family and me that evening before the Holy Triduum. Many graces have been observed throughout this Lenten season. Praised be God! Now and Forever! Amen.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Refraining from posting

I'm going to refrain from posting today. I feel as though I should be meditating, and praying throughout today in reflection of our Lord's passion, rather than be posting. I have much to write. But it will all come in good time. God Bless-

Good Friday

On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the sacred ceremonies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, in the chanting of the 'Reproaches', in the reading of the Passion, and in receiving the pre-consecrated Host, we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord.



The Church - stripped of its decorations, the altar bare, and with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open - is as if in mourning.

The liturgical observance of this day; of Christ's suffering, crucifixion and death, evidently has been in existence from the earliest days of the Church. No Mass is celebrated on this day, but the service of Good Friday is called the Mass of the Presanctified because Communion which had already been consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the faithful.

Traditionally, the organ is silent from Holy Thursday until the Alleluia at the Easter Vigil , as are all other instruments, the only music during this period being unaccompanied chant.

The omission of the prayer of consecration deepens our sense of loss because Mass throughout the year reminds us of the Lord's triumph over death, the source of our joy and blessing. The desolate quality of the rites of this day reminds us of Christ's humiliation and suffering during his Passion.

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us hast willed to be crucified and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood for the redemption and salvation of our souls, look down upon us here gathered together in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death, fully trusting in Thy mercy; cleanse us from sin by Thy grace, sanctify our toil, give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our daily bread, sweeten our sufferings, bless our families, and to the nations so sorely afflicted, grant Thy peace, which is the only true peace, so that by obeying Thy commandments we may come at last to the glory of heaven. Amen.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I'm back!

I just got home about two hours ago, and got done unpacking all of my stuff. It was an AMAZING trip. Very much needed! It was beautiful down there in the mountains...



I have much to write about later on: changes in the diocese and the parish, about my trip (more in detail) I will have a slide show of some pictures, the tenebrae service I attended in Cincinnati, what I've been thinking about, and much more. But I don't have time to write right now, I have to go prepare to serve at Holy Thursday Mass, and am still busy with other things.

Auxiliary Bishop Paul Bradley Named Bishop Of Kalamazoo


Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop Paul J. Bradley, 63, Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh, as Bishop of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Bishop Bradley succeeds Bishop James A. Murray, 76, whose resignation from the pastoral governance of the Kalamazoo Diocese was accepted by Pope Benedict, April 6.

Paul Bradley was born October 18, 1945, in Glassport, Pennsylvania. He studied at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and was ordained a priest for the Pittsburgh Diocese in 1971. He served the next 12 years as parochial vicar in the parishes of St. Sebastian in North Hills, St. Paul in Butler and St. Kieran in Lawrenceville. He earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1987.

From 1983 to 1988 he was director of the diocesan Office for Family life, then Secretary for Human Services (now Secretariat for Social Concerns.) In 1994, Bishop Bradley was appointed pastor of St. Sebastian Parish where he remained until January 2001, when he was named rector of St. Paul Cathedral and pastor of St. Paul Parish.

He was named General Secretary/Vicar General for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2003.

Bishop Murray, who was ordained a priest in 1958 for the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, was named Bishop of Kalamazoo in 1997. Before becoming bishop, he had been chancellor of the Lansing Diocese, moderator of the curia and rector of St. Mary's Cathedral. He holds a licentiate in Canon Law from The Catholic University of America.


(article from "metro catholic"---More to come later)






Praise God...

...from whom ALL blessings flow!



I just needed to say that right now. =D

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Patriarcha Antiochenus Maronitarum

I was watching EWTN when it came to a Mass of the Maronite Rite. I've never heard of them before! So I looked them up on "Catholic Encyclopedia" and this is what I got...

The Maronites are the descendants of the Aramaean Christians of ancient Syria. The Maronites (Syriac Marunôye; Arabic Mawarinah) number about 300,000 souls. The Maronite is a Syrian Rite, Syriac being the liturgical language, though the Gospel is read in Arabic for the benefit of the people. Like the other Catholic communities of the Turkish Empire, the Maronites are under the protection of France, from French interventions in Lebanon. Many of the priests, who are not sufficiently learned to perform the Liturgy in Syriac, use Arabic instead. The Maronites consecrate unleavened bread, they do not mingle warm water in the Chalice, and they celebrate many Masses at the same altar. Maronite priests can validly absolve Catholics of all rites.


The picture shown above is of the Maronite's dearst founder and patriarch, St. Maron. Who was a monk in the fourth century who left Antioch for the Orontes River to lead an ascetic life, following the traditions of Anthony the Great of the Desert and Pachomius. He soon had many followers that adopted his monastic life. Following the death of Maron in 410, his disciples built a monastery in his memory and formed the nucleus of the Maronite Church.

Wednesday and Friday of every week are days of abstinence; a fast lasts until midday, and the abstinence is from meat and eggs. Lent lasts for seven weeks, beginning at Quinquagesima; the fast is observed every day except Saturdays, Sundays, and certain feast days; fish is allowed. There are neither ember days nor vigils, but there is abstinence during twenty days of Advent and fourteen days preceding the feast of St.'s Peter and Paul.

Latin devotional practices are more customary among the Maronites than in any other Uniat Eastern Church -- benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the Way of the Cross, the Rosary, the devotion to the Sacred Heart, etc.


--Very interesting.. Anything you could add?

I'm no Rocco Palmo...

The word on the street is that a new Bishop is being appointed for Kalamazoo Diocese. It won't be announced until Monday of Holy week, and sadly enough I won't be in town for all of that week. So I won't be able to post who it is, or what's going on until I get back. Interesting no doubt!


You didn't hear this from me! ;)

Goodbye!

I won't be posting anything on here for the next week as my family is going down to Tennessee to stay in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. I can't wait! We really need this vacation!! Anyways- I am leaving 3 a.m. Saturday morning and won't be back until Holy Thursday (which I'll be sure to post MUCH when I return, about the new Bishop, Holy Week, our trip, etc. There will be much to write about).

When we are driving back we are going to stop in Cincinnati Ohio overnight, to attend Mass and a Tenebrae service at "St. Peter in Chains Cathedral." They're doing AMAZING music at it. Stuff like; Bruckner, Bach, Vittoria, Allegri, and Poulenc.

My prayers go out to you all, and to all that are traveling over spring break. I hope you'll keep my family and I in your prayers as well.

Pax Tibi-