Monday, July 28, 2014

Why I Avoid People

My husband and I left Mass (novus ordo) yesterday just as soon as the priest said “Mass is ended”…because, really, that’s when Mass ends. I don’t enjoy sitting through a “recessional hymn”, and I do not enjoy chit-chatting with other parishioners afterwards.

But yesterday, I found myself wondering why I don’t enjoy the latter. Why do I avoid people I know who attend (the novus ordo) Mass? They are fellow Catholics, right? Hmm.

That is the problem, I guess. I know too much. I know that many of these fellow Catholics who attend the novus ordo Mass on Sunday are Catholic in name only. How do I know? It’s because I have chit-chatted with them previously. It’s because they have complained about me behind my back when I was in charge of the music at Mass. It’s because they have said offhand things that indicate to me the lack of understanding of the faith. It’s because I am painfully aware, from a variety of sources of evidence, that their faith is shallow and their Catholic identity is practically non-existent.

So why not hang out with them, make friends with them, and slowly lead them to a more Catholic understanding of who they are?

Well…you see, I’m not very good at that.

What I see when I look at one of these parishioners is a soul about to fall off a precipice into the abyss. Seeing that, it is difficult to engage in mindless chit-chat about the weather.

Various analogies have come to my mind as I have thought about this.

Suppose a mother was distracted for a moment, and her child started to run into a busy street. Would you stand there and talk about the weather, waiting for that moment when it might be tactful and gentle and caring to say, “Excuse me, but your child is about to die”? No, of course not. Well, that mother’s soul is about to fall off the precipice! Do I wait around for the “right moment”?!?!

Or suppose you are talking to an acquaintance, and you realize with a start that a large rattlesnake is coiled right behind him. Do you gently suggest that he move away from that area? Or do you say with some urgency, “Watch out!”

I thought of other scenarios, but I can’t remember them now. (I think it’s an age thing. Ha ha.) But you get the idea.

It seems to me that we need to have a sense of urgency about saving our Catholic brothers and sisters from apostasy and heresy. They might go to hell if we don’t say something! (And to his credit, our pastor actually talked about the possibility of hell in his homily yesterday! That may be a first in that parish!)

But I have found that no one wants to hear that they are on the road to hell. No one wants to think about being a hard-core Catholic, because it’s just not really all that “nice”, ya know. 

And so people don’t really want to talk to me, because they know how I feel about my faith, about the need for Catholic identity to be revived, etc., etc.

So I avoid them at Mass.

But I pray for them at home.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Overcoming Violence with Violence...and Prayer

The horrifying events going on in Iraq thanks to ISIS are showing a lot about the “leaders” of the various nations and religions of the world.
To me, it seems like all the people who should be saying something are just sort of yawning. "Oh yeah. Christians being evicted and/or killed. Such a shame." And as someone somewhere pointed out, where are the imams and all the more "moderate" Muslims? Why aren't they decrying the actions of this group?! (Duh. They'll be killed!)

I mentioned this to a friend, who responded by sending me an excerpt from the Holy Father’s statement that appeared on the VIS email the other day. After decrying the whole situation and assuring the persecuted ones of his prayers, Pope Francis

…urged them to continue their prayer for the situations of tension and conflict that persist in many areas of the world, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine. “May the God of peace rouse in everyone an authentic desire for peace and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is defeated with peace! Let us pray in silence, for peace; all of us, in silence. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”.

My friend added: “It seems to me that, if Pope St Pius V had taken that tack in 1571 when the Muslim navies were threatening an invasion force, the latter would have completely annihilated any trace of Christianity from the Mediterranean and most, if not all, of Europe - and you'd be wearing a burka today. Instead, he rallied the Catholic kings of Europe to organize an counter-force that effectively stopped the advance of the Ottoman Turks at the famous Battle of Lepanto. Deo gratias! He overcame violence with violence...and assiduous prayer.”

Really, the world seems to be full of weak-kneed (and limp-wristed, as my father would have said) so-called leaders who just wring their hands and wish everyone would get along. And the Church has just as many of the same serving as “shepherds”.

Think about what Fr. Z wrote on his blog yesterday about St. Lawrence of Brindisi, from the Catholic Encyclopedia.  Lawrence urged the emperor to get violence with those Muslims, and he exhorted the German princes to get with it, and they responded appropriately. There were battles. People died. That happens in war.

This line is the clincher:

It was always the chaplain who was at the head of the army. “Forward!” he cried, showing them the crucifix, “Victory is ours.”

 Where are the men, the leaders, the warriors, who will lead us against the violence of the militant and rabid Muslims who are evicting, terrorizing, and killing Christians? Sometimes it seems like another victory of Satan that he has so thoroughly emasculated and feminized the men of today.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Who Cares?

On the Vortex today, Michael Voris put words to some vague thoughts I’d been letting drift through my mind the last few weeks.

Regarding the World Cup thing, he asked... “Who cares?”

Ha! I’m not a soccer fan, I’m not a World Cup fan…in fact, I’m not really a sports fan of any type. But I used to be. I was even a cheerleader in high school! (Now THERE’S a confession!)

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a sports fan, of course, as MV was quick to point out. But the world reveres sports in a way that we should reserve for God! I see this, too. Even in our own small community, sports is king. Parents will travel great distances to see their child play in a game, but they won’t go 50 miles to the next parish to attend a theological conference or a pro-life event or anything else to do with their faith.

MV points out that generally speaking, the people are not thinking so much about Heaven or Hell these days. They are not thinking about any heavenly matters. That’s reserved for Sunday (unless their child has an out-of-town game…). But the heavenly things matter all the time, and the sports matter not at all, in the big scheme of things.

Once I was at a rodeo, and before the event got underway, I cast my gaze around the stadium at all those people. I was struck by the fact that they all have a different story, they all had brought different “baggage” to the game that no one else could see, they all had their own spiritual journey, and they all were thinking something at that moment related to their personal lives. How many were thinking of God? I wondered. How many were even aware of the state of their souls? I felt like I was feeling the weight of their problems, and that I was feeling Our Lord’s sorrow that so many were not turning to him. The moment came and went very quickly, but the memory of it has lingered for years. I occasionally have the same experience in the grocery store.

This past week, I confronted a long-time friend about his failure to accept Catholicism (again! We’ve been having this conversation off and on for several years!). I get pretty intense when we talk about the truths of the faith, and I get frustrated when he refuses to listen to logic and reason. But we are still friends, and I hope he will be converted one day.

In the same time frame, I also confronted a new friend who has very traditional views of Catholicism, wants the EF Mass, and wants the truth to be told…but who thinks now that it would be better to make the switch over to the Orthodox church. “The one that’s in schism?” I asked her. And I added, “Friends don’t let friends go to hell!” Well, she took offense at that! But if she were truly accepting Catholic teaching, she would know why I said it, and she would see the truth in it. I am not sure if we are still friends or not, but I won’t change my tune or my tone just to appease her. I care about her soul!

And finally, during this past week, my daughter went to confession. I won’t say that I badgered her into it; she knew she needed to go, and she wanted to get it taken care of, but she didn’t quite feel the urgency about it that I did! She had to work on Saturday mornings a few weeks in a row, which conflicted with the confession time; she didn’t see the urgency in her situation that really demanded that she make an appointment with the priest in order to accommodate her schedule and to cleanse her soul! But she did finally make it, and I heaved a sigh of relief.

So I agree with MV. Those three things that occurred in my past week are the kinds of things that matter. The World Cup? Who cares! Time is short, I told my new friend who wants to leave the Church; that is why I am blunt. Some will hear, some will not, I guess. Maybe I should use more tact, but really, all I know how to do is to say truthfully what the Church teaches. Tact is not my charism!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chapel Changes

I posted a while back about giving my chapel a new coat of paint, and what a project that was! 

I made some other changes, too. First of all, the back wall of the chapel went from looking like this:

to this:

There has to be some sort of "cover" on the back wall because there is a rather unsightly door there, and in addition to being unsightly, it is not centered. I like the new look - clean and bright and uncluttered. Also the screen makes for better acoustics than the long draperies did.

The biggest and most wonderful change has been the recent addition of a tabernacle! I mean a real tabernacle instead of the little wooden collection box that was serving in that capacity before. I bought it on ebay, and I got it for an unbelievably excellent price. Here's the photo from ebay:

Now, to be perfectly clear, I do NOT have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in my chapel. Many years ago, I tried to convince the bishop to allow it, but I was unsuccessful. One problem is that a priest must come and say Mass to refresh the Blessed Sacrament quite frequently, and that is an issue where I live. And at this point, I would really want the priest to say the EF Mass, and that's become a pipe dream at this point. 

Nevertheless, I now have a suitable resting place for Our Lord, should He decide it is time for His Real Presence to abide in my little chapel. 

At first, I didn't know exactly how I would mount the tabernacle. Here it is in the initial stages:

 This is actually the second generation of the project. I had trouble finding a circular platform, and had another improvised arrangement. Then one day, as I doing chores in the house, my eye fell on our bar stools. I realized immediately that the seat was exactly the right diameter to hold the tabernacle. It was a simple matter to take the top off the stool and turn it into the platform for the tabernacle. I thought the brackets would be heavy-duty enough to support it, but there was still too much play with the weight of the tabernacle. I added the candlestick to keep it from dipping too low. That was only a temporary solution till I figured out something else.

The "something else" also came from ebay. It is a wall sconce/shelf. It finally arrived yesterday, and I got everything set up. But prior to that, I decided that I would veil the tabernacle even though the Blessed Sacrament was not reserved there. I figured the Lord would know I was really ready if I did that, and since I'm the only one here, no one will object to the veil. Here's one shot:

And here's the tabernacle, with a veil, mounted on the wall sconce (I will need to lengthen that veil!:

The sconce is actually just a "false front". It's not big enough to actually support the whole tabernacle. The bar stool/bracket arrangement remains in place, and the sconce takes over the job of supporting the outer edge of the platform. It's not pretty from "behind the scenes" but it will have to do for now!

I'm pretty happy with my little chapel, and I do believe Our Lord is pleased, too.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Just Some Pretty Pictures

I resumed my morning walks a while back. I'm such a fair-weather walker...

At any rate, here are a few photos from those early mornings.

Here are a few from this time of the year at other places:

It is good to venture out into God's creation! 

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Byzantine Adventure - Edited

Yesterday, a friend and I made an exploratory trip in search of a Ruthenian Rite (Catholic) Postenia, which I think is a term for a proto-monastery – a small community in the initial stages, but on its way to becoming a full-fledged monastery. But I’m not positive about that word!

I had heard about this little monastery from a priest friend who has spent some time there. Knowing that the monks had no internet presence, he gave me their physical address and phone number, and suggested I write or call and arrange a visit.  I did write, expecting an answer within a week or two…but I heard nothing.

That was months ago. But my friend and I decided to go and find the place anyway. Interestingly, we had never met face-to-face! We’ve been emailing for a couple of years or so, and we only live about a 3-hour drive apart, but had never arranged a face-to-face visit before. We met at the half-way point between our respective towns, and that “just happened” to be about a 30-minute drive from the “postenia” – according to Google maps. So off we went!

The monastery is in a rural area, just heading up into the mountains. Fortunately, there were quite a few properties with signs announcing their addresses, so we knew when we were in the right vicinity. We missed the monastery driveway on the first pass, though, and had to turn around and come back to it.

We pulled in, and saw no activity – no humans, but there were a couple of sheep and some chickens, as well as a very healthy-garden. We parked rather awkwardly behind two cars that were already there, since there really wasn’t much in the way of a parking lot.

There was a large house with a bright red front door, but there was no doorbell, and for some reason we decided knocking there wouldn’t do. Around the side of the building we saw a little bell rack – you couldn’t really call it a bell tower – with a couple of bells mounted on it.  And there was another door right there.

I am really a rather shy person, and having not met the monks, nor heard from them in response to my letter, I was hesitant to knock. But my friend wasn’t nearly as reticent, and when I said, “Should we knock?”, she said, “Sure, why not?” So I did – rather timidly.
There was some indication of activity behind the door, and after a few seconds, the door opened to reveal a gray-bearded monk. He smiled as I stammered out some sort of introduction, and then opened the door wider to invite us in.

“We’re just about to start the Divine Liturgy,” he said.

WOW!!! My friend and I were ecstatic! Who would have dreamed that we would show up announced – not even knowing if we would be able to find this place – just in time for the Divine Liturgy! Well…God knew, of course. But we were amazed. I asked if we could attend, and he said yes. We weren’t dressed for the occasion at all, but in we went.

[Edit/Addition:]Before the Liturgy began, the priest asked us where we were from. When I mentioned my city, he said, "I wrote to you!" I told him I had never received anything from him, and he said he had included some literature with his letter. God only knows where that envelope went on its journey through the postal system!

The monk provided us with books so we could follow along. Almost everything was in English, but it was all sung/chanted. There was plenty of incense, too!

After the Liturgy, the priest and the two brothers insisted that we come into their parlor and visit for a bit, and then they insisted that we stay for lunch. We had a wonderful time with them, and left with each of us carrying a large packet of literature about “Byzantine Christianity”.

And my friend and I felt like we’d known each other forever. Well, after all, there's nothing like going to Mass together to cement a friendship, eh?

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.