Weekday Mass, Saint Catherine of Siena and Judging Others

Saint Peter Chanel Catholic Church adoration chapel in Roswell, Georgia

Saint Peter Chanel Catholic Church adoration chapel in Roswell, Georgia

Whenever I have a lot of little things in my head that I want to write about, I title my posts like this. Just a series of unrelated topics.  First I wanted to say I love weekday Mass.

Recently the mother of the family we carpool to school with and I switched so that now I drive mornings and she drives afternoons. So, I’ve started stopping in for a quick adoration moment in the chapel after I drop the children off.

The adoration chapel at Saint Peter Chanel is beautiful, with statues and stained glass and wooden pews and a beautiful monstrance which holds the Blessed Sacrament. There’s a large crucifix behind the altar and stained glass windows on either side of Mary and Joseph.  To the right is a large painting of Jesus of the Divine Mercy and a kneeler beneath with candles ready to be lit for special intentions. To the left of the altar is — I can’t remember what is to the left.  I think it’s Mary. I’ll have to check tomorrow and get back to you on that.

Anyways, so I’ve been stopping in for a quick adoration–15 minutes. It’s so peaceful.

Lately, however, my quick adorations have extended into the time the group of parishioners spontaneously start reciting the Rosary as a group. This first happened last week when I was sitting there reading from one of the spiritual books on the shelves in the back. An older gentleman launched into the Rosary and every body else joined in — sometimes another lady would start the decade and another would chime in with the mysteries.

I LOVED IT. And I keep coming back and they do it every morning at 8am. It’s so beautiful. And I don’t participate in it. Not because I’m an awful person but because I love sitting there and listening to it. It’s like beautiful chanting. It’s rhythmic. It’s calming and brings me a lot of peace. And so I started staying through the whole Rosary.

Then Mass was starting and I left because I have “too many things to do.”  Right?  But then last week I started staying through my quick adoration, through the beautiful public chanting of the Rosary and on through for Mass.  And I leave walking on air, light and at peace.  It’s amazingly uplifting.

Wouldn’t it be great if I did this every day for the rest of my life?

Unfortunately, knowing myself and that summer is coming (no carpool for two months) I will inevitably let life get in the way and lose this beautiful practice of weekday Mass.  For now, though I’ll enjoy it one day at a time and not worry about tomorrow or forever.

I’ll write later today about Saint Catherine of Siena (my patron saint whose feast day was YESTERDAY and I didn’t even acknowledge it!) and judging others (I read a cool article in OSV by Mark Shea about this today).

3rd of Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Chastity

10 evangelica virtues of maryHere is the third article in a series I’ve been writing for Catholic Mom about the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.  This piece is on “chastity.”

According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?

The first Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Chastity.

Then Mary said to the Angel, “How shall this be done, since I do not know man?” Luke 1:34

The word “chastity” is difficult to pronounce in the modern world, hardly evident except within religious circles.  Our children are exposed to all sorts of immodest dress and behaviors through media and through their companions. How can we teach our children the importance of being chaste? Why is this important?

Instilling the virtue of chastity in our children must start first with taking a look at it in ourselves.

Are we chaste? Do we follow the Church teachings on artificial birth control? Are we careful with the way we dress? Do we “like” immodest posts on Facebook? Do we “share” celebrity relationship gossip through our social media channels? Did we read Shades of Grey and recommend it to others?

You can read the rest of the article over at CatholicMom.com here.  Enjoy!

Evangelical Virtues of Mary: Prudence

Virtue

Virtue (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

This is my article that ran on CatholicMom.com this week. I like to post them here, too. To view it over there, click on this link and voila!  Happy Holy Saturday!

According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character.

The ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actual qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization: chastity, prudence, humility, faith, devotion, obedience, poverty, patience, mercy and sorrow.

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in virtue are a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize with virtue in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?

The second Evangelical Virtue of Mary is Prudence.                                           

But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

And he descended with them and went to Nazareth. And he was subordinate to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. Luke 2:51

Mary “ponders” these things in her heart. She discerns. She doesn’t react, debate or take any action right away. She simply ponders things first.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us (1806), “Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.”

The prudent woman looks where she is going. Prudence is “right reason in action,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas. The prudent woman determines and directs her conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles without error and overcome doubts about good and evil in our everyday circumstances.

Prudence is also one of the four cardinal virtues, which means it can be practiced by anyone. The cardinal virtues are not, in themselves, the gifts of God through grace but the outgrowth of habit.

Prudence, as explained by Fr. John A. Hardon in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, is “Correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of thing that ought to be avoided.”

So how do we know when we’re exercising prudence and when we’re simply giving in to our own desires?

How do we know if we are acting prudently or not?  As an act of virtue, prudence involves three stages of mental operation: to take counsel carefully with oneself and from others; to judge correctly on the basis of the evidence at hand; and to direct my actions accordingly.

When faced with a dilemma, we first pray, ask God to direct our thinking.  Next we ask for advice from someone of good character, someone we can trust, of good moral character. We look at all the evidence at hand, the facts in front of us. We never rush. We ask God for his will for us. Then, finally we make a decision and act upon it.

And we must always keep in mind that the definition of prudence requires us to judge correctly. If our judgment is proved after the fact to have been incorrect, then we did not make a “prudential judgment” but an imprudent one, for which we may need to make amends.

One way to integrate these virtues into your life is by praying the Chaplet to the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.

7 Quick Takes Friday: 7 Role Models for Catholic Alcoholics

matt talbot

Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

7 Role Models for Catholic Alcoholics

1. Venerable Matt Talbott

Matt Talbott was born in the poverty of Dublin’s inner city. He began drinking at twelve years of age and became a chronic alcoholic. It was the drug culture of the 19th century. Matt was an addict.

After a horrendous sixteen year struggle, he found sobriety.  He decided to ‘kick the habit’. A priest helped him, giving him a rehabilitation program, which providentially incorporated aspects and principles of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. With the help of this Priest friend Matt modeled his life on that of the monks, who lived in Ireland in the 6th and 7th centuries.7quicktakes

He remained sober for forty years until his death. His life story has been an inspiration for alcoholics and addicts throughout the world. He is a candidate for canonization in the Church and has achieved the title of “venerable.”

Matt’s program of recovery was built around devotion to the Eucharist, love of Mary, Mother of God, spiritual reading, self-discipline and manual work. But he never forgot his struggle with his addiction.

“Never look down on a man, who cannot give up the drink”, he told his sister, “it is easier to get out of hell!” (Matt Talbott)

Here is an 8 minute YouTube video telling the story of Matt Talbott.

seeds of grace book2. “Sister Molly Monahan” (not her real name), author of Seeds of Grace

Sister Molly Monahan” wrote a wonderful book a decade or so ago about her experiences with alcoholism and recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous. She had been drinking, quietly and compulsively, for years when she finally decided to attend her first AA meeting. There she found the emotional support that AA is famous for-but she also found a surprising source of spiritual strength. In this unique book, she reflects on how a nonreligious group brought about such a powerful reawakening of faith-and explores gratitude, community, forgiveness, prayer, and many more subjects of interest not only to alcoholics but to anyone on a spiritual quest.

“Monahan’s unique understanding of both the human and spiritual side of alcoholism forms an important, personal understanding of theology in action.” (Library Journal)

Sister “Molly” was trained in the methods of Ignatian Spirituality, had made week-long retreats annually, had studied spirituality and obtained a graduate degree in theology, yet as she writes, “None of this prevented me from becoming an alcoholic.” And she claims that without Alcoholics Anonymous’ spiritual program of recovery she would be “spiritually bereft.” That is a big statement!  She had all the spirituality and knowledge of Catholic sacramental life yet still couldn’t break the alcoholism cycle until she made it into AA.

I wrote a review of her book here.

Vogt3. Father Emmerich Vogt, “12-Step Review”

Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P. is a Dominican priest of the Western Dominican Province. Educated by the Dominican Order at its seminary in California, Fr. Emmerich went on to receive a MA degree in Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and a graduate degree in Near Eastern Religions from University of California.

THE 12 STEP REVIEW is a publication of the Western Dominican Province, a nonprofit organization of the Dominican Fathers and Brothers, and is founded and edited by Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P. It is published four times a year through donations. Father Vogt travels around the country giving retreat talks on Christian principles within 12 Step spirituality. Sober for 30 years, Vogt wrote a book published last year The Freedom to Love and continues to make his talks and retreats available on CD and DVD.

The site 12 Step Review is maintained by volunteers and offers a wonderful resource for today’s recovering Catholic alcoholic. My mother attended sessions of his retreat in Johns Creek, Georgia a couple of weeks ago and said they were wonderful and appealing to all types of relationship dilemmas, with the focus on 12 Step process of recovery.

father jim4. Father Jim McKenna (1953 – 2006)

Fr. Jim’s lifelong dream to become a Catholic priest came true in 1960. At that time he took a pledge to refrain from alcohol for five years. In 1965, while he was fulfilling his priestly duties he started enjoying occasional cocktails.

He later went for an evaluation and it was decided that while he was a good priest, he was also an alcoholic. After three months in Guest House in Minnesota, an addiction treatment rehab for Catholic clergy and religious, he returned to Bergen County and attended AA meetings.

Fr. Jim was assigned to Oradell’s St. Joseph’s R.C. Church where he started the recovery mass for anyone affected by the disease of alcoholism, with the hope of giving more people an opportunity to leave the “Hell” of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction and perhaps find the “Heaven of Sobriety.” The Third Saturday mass began with 18 people and quickly spread to over 500. Fr. Jim began each mass with, “Hello, my name is Jim and I am an alcoholic”; and all felt welcome.

This is a special Mass for all who are affected by the disease of Alcoholism. The Recovery Mass continues on even after Father Jim’s death and is held on the third Saturday of every month.

“Alcoholism is a disease, not a bad habit.” (Father Jim)

FatherCanavan5. Father Francis Canavan (1917 – 2009)

An author of more than 10 books and a political philosopher who inspired and encouraged many students at Fordham, Father Canavan taught for 22 years in the Department of Political Science. He wrote prolifically about liberalism and Catholic social teaching, and, during the 1960s, served as associate editor of America magazine. He was also a member of the advisory board of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

During the 1980s, Father Francis Canavan had given inspirational talks to members of the Calix Society, which were compiled into a pair of books, The Light of Faith and By the Grace of God. I haven’t read them but intend to. They are both available via the Calix Society website.  He was the spiritual director for the Calix Society for many years.

Here is part of the talk he gave on the topic of the 2nd Step “Coming to Believe:”

“[Coming] to believe is a process that goes on all our lives and is never completely finished. No matter how deeply we believe, we can always believe more deeply, and God will lead us to a steadily more profound faith through the experiences of our lives, if we will let Him. But what is of immediate interest to us here is the coming to believe of the person who has little or no faith in God. “Acting as if” is the way in which he begins the process of coming to believe.” (Father Canavan)

fathermartinpicture6. Father Joseph Martin (1924 – 2009)

Father Joseph Martin, after ten years of priesthood, was encouraged to get help for his alcoholism. He was treated at the Guest House in Orion, Michigan. After getting sober he presented the “Chalk Talk”- a blackboard presentation that helped earn Father Martin national recognition as an authority on addiction.

“Chalk Talk” was filmed by the U.S. Navy for use in drug and alcohol education around the world. Father Martin later received multiple awards for his work with addiction in various branches of the military.

Father Martin and Mae Abraham (an alcoholic who was helped by the “Chalk Talk.”) sought resources to open a chemical addiction treatment center based on Father Martin’s philosophies of treatment, including his heartfelt belief that every addict is worth saving. A 20-acre property, the Oakington estate in Havre de Grace, Maryland was the perfect location for a treatment center.

Finally, Father Martin’s Ashley opened its doors to the first group of patients. The center was named for co-founder Father Martin, as it was his treatment philosophy that would be the basis of patient care. Soon he helped establish the Ashley Relapse Treatment program, which incorporates the Gorski Relapse Prevention Model, 12 Step approaches and Father Martin’s treatment philosophy.

Father Martin’s published a book No Laughing Matter, compiling three of his talks—”The Chalk Talk”, “Guidelines” and “Alcoholism and the Family.” The Rainbow of Hope Children’s Program was started at FMA. Held one Saturday each month, the program is open to all children who live in homes with addiction.

“He (Father Martin) is the master mentor who teaches and touches at the same time.” Robert Ackerman, Ph.D.

pfau7. Father Ralph Pfau (1904 – 1967)

He is believed to have been the first Roman Catholic priest to enter Alcoholics Anonymous and is affectionately known also as “Father John Doe.”

He was a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, ordained at St. Meinrad Seminary, and received an MA in Education at Fordham University.

In the opening paragraph of his autobiography, “Prodigal Shepherd,” Father Pfau wrote:

“All my life, I will carry three indelible marks. I am a Roman Catholic priest. I am an alcoholic. And I am a neurotic.”

He had never a drink until about a year after his ordination. But by 1943 he was sufficiently worried about his drinking to investigate A.A. While responding to a call from a woman who said her husband was dying, he learned from the doctor that the man was not dying, but merely passed out from a combination of alcohol and barbital. As Fr. Pfau was leaving the house he noticed a book on a shelf and asked if he could borrow it. It was “Alcoholics Anonymous.”

AA history recalled by a member who attended the first International A.A. Convention in Cleveland in 1950, speaks of how Father Pfau helped insist that AA remain non-religious.

In this first Convention in 1950, at the ‘Spiritual Meeting’ the main speaker’s topic, “dealt with the idea that the alcoholic was to be the instrument that God would use to regenerate and save the world. He expounded the idea that alcoholics were God’s Chosen People and he was starting to talk about AA being ‘The Third Covenant,’ when he was interrupted by shouted objections from the back of the room. The objector, who turned out to be a small Catholic priest (Father Pfau), would not be hushed up. There was chaos and embarrassment as the meeting was quickly adjourned.” As the member recalls Father Pfau’s objections:

” How well we shall always remember that A.A. is never to be thought of as a religion. How firmly we shall insist that A.A. membership cannot depend upon any particular belief whatever; that our twelve steps contain no article of religious faith except faith in God — as each of us understands Him. How carefully we shall henceforth avoid any situation which could possibly lead us to debate matters of personal religious belief.”

***

So there you go! This is a great list but where are all the Catholic alcoholic women?  “Sister Molly Monahan” on this list but she remains anonymous.  hmmmm..  I am going to have to scout out Google (or Bing, if I’m feeling counter-cultural) for women Catholic alcoholics.  Where are we?

Young and Catholic and Alcoholic

ImageWow!  If only I had been as wise as “Mary” from this Young and Catholic blog.  I am so happy to have discovered this blog and am adding it to my blogroll.  Dear God, please let my children grow up with the wisdom of the author of this post.

A little bit of the article (Blame It On The Alcohol by Mary Lane) and then a link to read the whole thing.  Be sure to read through the comments as they are as moving as the post itself.

***

Alcohol is bad! Except, ok—it’s not. It’s actually inherently good. Even Jesus was a fan. We see him drinking wine as part of the Jewish feasts and even performing a miracle transforming water into wine at a wedding (taking “open-bar” to a whole new level). There’s no basis anywhere in Scripture for a Christian to say that God is against people enjoying alcohol.

That being said: there are many places in Scripture that condemn drunkenness.

Unfortunately, the reality for our age group is that knowing that getting drunk is “a sin” is not usually enough to keep most of us from putting ourselves into situations that tend towards drunkenness, i.e. – that party on Saturday night, “Thirsty Thursdays,” or sneaking out into the woods to drink if your college has a dry campus. These are just things people our age do—and God understands, right? For the most part, we’re not hurting anyone by getting more than a little bit tipsy, or even a little bit drunk, when out with our friends.

So then why is getting drunk “wrong,” if we’re just having fun?  Continue reading here…

Book Review: Recovery Rosary for Alcoholics and Addicts

Book Review: Recovery Rosary-Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts
By Paul Sofranko,
Published: April 01, 2012, Words: 12,824, English, ISBN: 9781476307558
Review:  A+

RosaryCoverWhen I first started to be “public” with this blog–yeah, I was a little nervous about being openly alcoholic–I surfed around for kindred spirits before “coming out.”  I found one in Paul Sofranko (Paulaholic) via his resourceful blog Sober Catholic.

My New Year’s resolution was to pray the Rosary every day.  When I discovered he had written a book, Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts, I naturally purchased it on the spot.  Impulsivity is one of my character defects, but in this case it boded well for me! The eBook version for my iPad mini was only $3.99, so I wasn’t taking much of a risk.

It’s simply wonderful!

From the Smashwords description: “The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts” helps people to reflect on their recovery and relationships with others, and ultimately with Jesus Himself. Whether people are still struggling with their addictions, or have been clean and sober for a few weeks, months, or years, the reflections will lead them to meditate on the spiritual growth they have achieved so far.”

Loving the Rosary as I do, I was pleased Sofranko strikes the delicate balance between protecting and honoring the format and mysteries of this most holy spiritual practice, but at the same time providing a fresh take for recovering alcoholics to meditate alongside Jesus and Mary.

Contrary to popular belief, the Rosary is not about the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is about Jesus. Catholics believe Mary points the way to Jesus; and through Mary we are able to develop an even closer relationship with our Savior.  What was it like to give birth and raise the Son of God? Luke 2:1-7.  How happy must Mary have been when she and Joseph found the child Jesus praying in the Temple after having lost him for three days? Luke 2:41-52.  What’s the mother-son dynamic at play during Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding at Cana? John 2:1-11. What would it have felt like for Jesus when he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane? Matthew 26:36-45. Why was it so important to Jesus to give us his mother before he died on the cross?  John 19:25-27.

All these things we ponder as we meditate on the holy Scripture passages while fingering the delicate beads and repeating the Hail Mary prayer over and over..  Through the Rosary, we go deep into the life of Jesus and contemplate these things.

And Sofranko points out to us, “The Rosary is Twelve-Step-friendly.”

The 11th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous states:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.”

As we understand Him.”

Sofranko continues, “You want to know God’s will for you?  The Bible is a good place to start looking. You want a great role model for following the will of God?  His own Mother is a perfect example. By praying the Rosary you will be meditating on the Scriptural passages that each section (mystery) is based. You can nicely combine Mary’s submission to God’s will with direction from Sacred Scripture.”

Jesus in the Temple Luke 2:46-50In the Introduction, the author explains to the unfamiliar exactly what the Rosary is and what it means–in simple terms even non-Catholics can understand.  He clears up some common misconceptions as he explains how Biblically based and how in line with 12 Step Recovery the Rosary truly is.

As he takes us through each of the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries, Sofranko explains a mystery, “is something divine that we cannot fully understand with our limited human intellect.”  He then for our reference provides precise Bible verses where each mystery is highlighted in the Word of God. At the end of each chapter he offers a meditation for the recovering person, suggesting we consider each of his meditations in light of where each is in his or her recovery walk. He explains that the meditations are meant to be personalized for the individual in order that the reader ponders his or her own step on the path.

rosary1I wholeheartedly recommend Recovery Rosary certainly for all Catholics in recovery, but even for all Christians who wish to expand their meditation practice of the 11th Step to include the Scriptural passages and the life of Jesus.

To purchase (seriously guys–just $3.99!), please visit the order page on Sofranko’s blog here.  Or, you can find it in all the major online booksellers:

on Amazon
on Smashwords
at Createspace

I look forward in this time of Lent especially to diving into Paul’s second book, “The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics.”  Thank you Paulaholic for these recovery treasures!

Check out this other review of Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts on the Phoenix Diocese newspaper:
The Catholic Sun

7 Quick Takes: 7 Pilgrimage Sites in the Southeast

7quicktakes

Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs. Since my sisters, my mother and I made an accidental pilgrimage (read about our trip here) last weekend, I thought I’d look nearby and see what other pilgrimages I could take within driving distance from Atlanta. My 7 Quick Takes are on my findings.

There has never been a better time to make a pilgrimage! During the Year of Faith, October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013, a plenary indulgence is available to the faithful for making a pilgrimage.

 

shrineShrine of Our Lady of La Leche St. Augustine, FL
This is where my sisters and I were last weekend.  Here is my post about our “Accidental Pilgrimage.”  Founded in 1565, Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, the nursing Madonna, was the first Mission and the site of the first Mass in America. Located at the shrine is the Mission of Los Nombres de Dios, a 208 foot cross, a museum, the Prince of Peace church, outdoor stations of the cross, and a cemetery. The devotion to Mary as Our Lady of La Leche, patroness of Mothers and Mothers-to-be was brought from Spain in 1603. The intercession of Our Lady of La Leche is often sought by those looking to conceive and have a successful delivery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAve Maria Grotto Cullman, AL
Alabama’s first and only Benedictine Abbey is home to the Ave Maria Grotto. It was built by Benedictine Monk, Brother Joseph Zoettl O.S.B. beginning in 1934 and consists of 3 acres of miniature reproductions of historical building, shrines, and places such as Lourdes and St. Peter’s Basilica. The Benedictine Abbey produces a variety of candles that are available for sale. There is a small entry fee for the grotto, please check the website for details.

ourladyoftheangelsalabalaOur Lady of the Angels Monestary Hanceville, AL
In 1995 Mother Angelica traveled to Columbia on business for EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network). She visited the Sanctuary of the Divine Infant Jesus to attend mass and she prayed at the small Shrine which housed the miraculous statue of the Child Jesus. As Mother Angelica stood praying at the side of the statue the miraculous image suddenly came alive and turned towards her. “Then the Child Jesus spoke with the voice of a young boy: “Build Me a Temple and I will help those who help you.” Thus began a great adventure that would eventually result in the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, a Temple dedicated to the Divine Child Jesus, a place of refuge for all”

grand coteauShrine of St. John Berchmans Grand Coteau, LA
In 1866, through the intercession of St. John Berchmans, a young novice of the Society of the Sacred Heart, Mary Wilson was miraculously healed. St. John Berchmans appeared to Mary on her deathbed after her prayer for intercession and told her he came by the order of God. The infirmary where the miracle took place was converted to a shrine and is the only place in the United States where the exact spot of a miracle and apparition has been preserved as a shrine. Visit the website to read excerpts of Mary Wilson’s diary where she recorded the details of the apparition and her miraculous healing.

sacred heart basilicaThe Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Atlanta, GA
This is where my husband and I were married!  Not sure if I understand the rules of the USCCB on whether or not this would count—but I think “basilicas” count for receiving this plenary indulgence in the Year of Faith...The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was founded in 1880. The original church, known as Saints Peter and Paul, was a small wooden building located at the southwest corner of Marietta and Alexander Streets, twelve blocks west of the present location. In 1897, an Atlanta architect, W. T. Downing, was commissioned to design the new church. In keeping with the then popular devotion to the Sacred Heart, the name of the church was changed to “The Sacred Heart of Jesus.” The architectural style is basically French Romanesque, with some variations and additions.On May 13, 1976, the Church of the Sacred Heart was entered in the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition of its “artistically significant architecture.”  On February 22, 2010, Sacred Heart was elevated to the dignity of minor basilica by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and is now known as The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mother Theresa of Calcutta came to Sacred Heart for a Mass on June 12, 1995.  She was present in Atlanta for the blessing of the Sisters of Charity AIDS hospice, the Gift of Grace House, which is within the boundaries of Sacred Heart parish

shrine immac concThe Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta, Georgia
Located also in my hometown, this is where the local archdiocesan Mass for the Unborn is held each year on the anniversary of Roe v Wade.  Atlanta’s most historic church was founded in 1837 and was first called “Terminus” because it was the end of the railroad line. A large number of the railroad workers were Irish Catholics. and a wooden church was built in 1848, the Church of The Immaculate Conception, with Father Thomas O’Reilly as it’s pastor. Father O’Reilly was a Confederate Chaplain and he persuaded General William Tecumseh Sherman to spare his church and that of his neighbors. Legend has it that Father O’Reilly told Sherman, “If you burn the Catholic Church, all Catholic’s in the ranks of the Union Army will mutiny”. The present Shrine was rebuilt after a fire in 1982 and is open for tours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMonastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Georgia
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit (MOHS) is a Roman Catholic contemplative religious community belonging to the world-wide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.) – more commonly known as Trappists. This monastery is the first native-born Trappist foundation in the United States of America and the first daughter-house of Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, USA. Founded in 1944, we are currently a community of 36 monks spanning several generations, who live, work and pray at the Abbey.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website a plenary indulgence will be granted under the normal circumstances when:

“Each time they visit, in the course of a pilgrimage, a papal basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral church or a holy site designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith (for example, minor basilicas and shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles or patron saints), and there participate in a sacred celebration, or at least remain for a congruous period of time in prayer and pious meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, depending on the circumstances, to the Holy Apostles and patron saints.”

The other ways to earn a plenary indulgence during the year of faith include: “Each time they attend at least three sermons during the Holy Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of the Council or the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in church or any other suitable location. Each time that, on the days designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith, in any sacred place, they participate in a solemn celebration of the Eucharist or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding thereto the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form. On any day they chose, during the Year of Faith, if they make a pious visit to the baptistery, or other place in which they received the Sacrament of Baptism, and there renew their baptismal promises in any legitimate form.”

Intimacy Between Mother and Son

Jesus at Wedding of CanaLast Sunday’s Gospel reading is one of my all-time favorites.  So many good things in it–and there was wine!

Jesus performs his very first public miracle.  How cool is that?

And his mother Mary is involved. She instructs them to, “Do whatever he tells you.” Simple advice for all of us!

But mostly in this Gospel I especially love the interaction between Jesus and his mom–having two sons of my own, I imagine the underlying messages in Jesus and Mary’s exchange.

Woman, how does your concern affect me?”

This makes me laugh. I LOVE THIS.

“Woman.”  Many writers have made note that at first glance this sounds a little disrespectful.  But not willing to concede that Jesus was ever disrespectful to his mom, thankfully, more context is given which shows how the norms of the culture and language of Jesus’ day makes this address make sense.

To me, a mother of two sons ages 10 and almost 13, I don’t see disrespect at all—and I’m not an ancient culture or language scholar. I see humor, intimacy, a little sarcasm and a knowing smile behind Jesus’ chosen words to his mother in Cana.

Humor?  Sarcasm?  Where do I get that?

So, for example, my boys joke around with me all the time as a sign of affection.  I think they get this from their father.  When a boy teases a girl, it’s his way of showing her he likes her.  It starts way back in grade school.

The other day I mentioned to Ben, “Ben, we really need to rake the yard or the grass isn’t going to grow this spring.”

Ben answered, “Yeah, Mom, we really do. (pointing) The rake is right over there.”

Of course, he grins when he says this and we both know my little phlegmatic-sanguine child will comply with my request.  But he’s got to mess with me a little bit first.

Little boys—including Jesus—-love their mamas.

Jesus also uses, “Woman,” to address Mary Magdalene in John 20:15, saying, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  He knows why she’s weeping — she came to the tomb and his body was gone.  Next thing Jesus says in John 20:16 is “Mary!  Like, “Hello?  It’s me.  I’m here. It’s okay.”

Last Sunday’s Gospel John 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew —, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.