Heartfelt traditions

olph112616-3

Mid-afternoon Saturday, Steven asked, “So where would you like to go for Mass?”

My response was quick.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) beckoned, so we arrived early enough for me to photograph the altar.

Request

How delightful to see a priest conversing with a woman outside the south church entrance as we drove up.

“Are we going in that way?” I asked, motioning toward the priest donned in purple.

“No, let’s go this way.  It’s closer,” Steven said, already making his way across the parking lot.

Opening the door, we were totally taken aback.  Father Darryl was waiting for us!

How did he do that? we wondered, eyeballing each other with stifled amusement and disbelief.  Who is this man that he can be there and here so effortlessly?

“I remember you,” Father Darryl said, extending his hand to shake Steven’s.  “I haven’t seen you since the men’s ACTS retreat.”  Then he asked us to carry the Advent candle in the opening procession.  “Will you do it?”

Steven and I, still grinning from dumbfoundedness, didn’t respond quickly enough.

“It’s not difficult,” Father Darryl insisted, telling us what was expected.

“Sure!” I smiled.

But how did he know we’d say yes?  And what else did God have in mind?

Heartfelt traditions

Wholly immersed in the ritual before Mass, I observed every little movement through perfectly timed photographs that only my third eye, sans Coolpix, could capture.

From the confident, knowing hands that filled the incense cup in the wreath’s center to the graceful, attentive hands that received the candle, every moment was recorded mind, heart, and soul.  In the swirling incense permeating the air, I instinctively affirmed as heartfelt traditions renewed Father’s prayers, the altar server’s lighting of the candle, and all blessings bestowed not just for the Advent season, but for our continued faith journey as a married couple, too.

Happy anniversary, darling!

olph112616-2a        olph112616-7        olph112616-45a

olph112716-1        olph112616-12        olph112716-2

Prayers from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

God of a thousand years and the blink of a millisecond, grant me the willingness to cast aside the demands of this world, now in the days of these weeks before Christmas, that my heart may be humbled to receive more fully the gift of the Christ-child and my life enlarged to await more hopefully the return of my Savior and Judge.  Amen (Rev. Dr. Cathy Brall).

Almighty God, it is truly good to spend time in your house praising your name.  We give you thanks that you do not stand far off, but that you enter into our suffering.  Teach us to be advocates for peace in this restless world, in Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen (K. J. Norris).

Precious Lord, it is with great humility that we turn our attention from the demands of this season to focus on you.  We need you, we trust you, we hope in you.  Let your steadfast love be upon us.  It is in your most holy name that we pray these words.  You, the alpha and the omega, from ages unto ages.  Amen (Dr. Michelle Keane Domeisen).

Come, holy savior, Jesus Christ, God with us.  How we need you!  If our night is dark, shine all the more with the radiance of your light.  Amen
(Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner).

Lord God, the well waters of poverty are rising around us while a select few sit on the perimeters with full water buckets in their hands, poised to add to the misery of others.  Grant relief to the suffering and the hearts of those inflicting pain.  Remind us all of why it was that you came.  Amen
(Rev. Dr. John Welch).

O God, you “are enthroned forever, and your name endures to all generations.”  But our days are “like an evening shadow.”  Therefore, we lay before you our every weakness— the brevity of our lives are but signs of our failure to live as your people.  We trust ourselves to you, O God; and we pray that, by your grace, we might live securely in your presence now and forevermore.  Amen (Psalm 102:12, 11; Rev. Dr. Jerome F. D. Creach).

Lord, we thank you for the wonder of this season.  We thank you that you are our refuge and strength, and we ask you to help us follow you even when it is difficult.  Amen (Rev. Derek Davenport).

November 28, 2016

From the gospel we learn the happy news of our salvation.  Learning it, we rejoice in it.  We behold God’s glory, and we glorify him.  Let us rise to the high places, to the sublime part of ourselves; let us rise above ourselves to seek God in himself and, with the angels, to rejoice in his great glory (Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Advent).

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives” (Russell M. Nelson).

November 29, 2016

The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again.  When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace (St. Charles Borromeo).

December 3, 2016

Where do you look for your life?  Forward or behind?  May the Lord grant you the grace to leave things behind, even those which you consider precious in this life; and may he allow you to look ahead, where Christ is waiting for you for a glorious meeting that will open the gates of eternity
(Gus Encino, Aleteia).

olph112616-16

olph12316-32c

Links of interest…  Advent: announcing the coming / anticipation & hope / daily prayers / four attitudes / history / maybe you’re doing it wrongO antiphons (retreat – soothing balm) / our hope not in this world / passion for the possiblepreparing our hearts / real meaning of Christmas lights / season (forgotten repentance) / seven counter-cultural waystime for greater silence & prayertradition / what is / when it’s not yet Christmas / wreath (about – history – prayers – symbolism)…  Awake from your sleep…  Faith is not a philosophy, but an encounter with Jesus Christ…  Homilies: Christ is the solutionlighting candles in the dark / recipe for readiness…  OLPH: facebook / Mass timeswebsite…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals…  Reflections of family & faith (videos)…  Six ways to tune out distraction & be more attentive…  Want to know what God wants from you?  Try total immersion

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  For all time…  Letter to Santa…  Oh, happy day…  On being Christian…  Our Lady…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Second looks…  Sweet Jesus…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Twelve candles…  Undeniable familiarity

Vattmann Thanksgiving

olc112416-73

Some stories, like seeds planted in fertile ground, become more real, more memorable after the first telling.  Then, thanks to curiosity and subsequent experience, they flourish with each revisiting, becoming finely woven tapestries with depth and complexity.

First visit

Such were my thoughts regarding Our Lady of Consolation in Vattmann, TX since January 11, 2011, when, thanks to the Texas Tropical Trail Region (TTTR) monthly outing, we were treated to the history of this quiet, little church community southeast of Kingsville.

Our hosts came across as a hardy lot: resilient, independent yet mutually supportive of each other, and wholeheartedly invested in their rural hamlet.  Their rich family histories were fascinating; but church was their life-giving core, honored above all.

Listening to the presentations, I gleaned that Vattmann’s mission in life (imbued innately, it seemed) was to know its history by heart and support its cherished sacred space— the latter through an annual fundraiser, the Thanksgiving picnic and country store— to keep the tiny unincorporated town alive and well for future generations.

Naturally, I wanted to experience this incredible, almost century-old tradition, but Steven wasn’t too keen on foregoing his very own turkey with all the trimmings at home.  So my wish quietly percolated as I patiently waited.

Second visit

Between 2011 and 2016, I thought about Our Lady of Consolation Church a lot.  Since we travel regularly to and from the Rio Grande Valley, I asked Steven if we could stop by King’s Inn for lunch “the next time.”

Thursday morning, March 31, 2016, we discovered that the road to the restaurant went past the church, too.  So, after lunch we stopped, took photos, and chatted a while with Maria, who takes Communion to the homebound in the parish.

“I hadn’t planned to come by church today, but I’m glad I did,” she said.

We talked about prayer and God’s wisdom.  “He placed us on each other’s paths for a reason.”  We agreed and exchanged email addresses to stay in touch.

On our drive back from the valley Saturday afternoon, we stopped for lunch in Kingsville.  “Do you think Mother Julia’s chapel is nearby?” I asked.  “I’m curious to see how the Sisters’ project turned out.”

Never mind that I took photos through the holes in the chain-link fence because the chapel and the gift shop were closed.  The place was totally different from six years earlier when Sister Maxie had shared her dream with the TTTR group, December 21, 2010.

We were so impressed!

Within three days’ time, Steven and I had visited two sacred spaces that I’d previously written about.  “I have so much to email Maria about when we get home.”

Only I was even more amazed by her response.

Maria volunteers at Mother Julia’s gift shop, so she works closely with Sister Maxie.  And now we have more in common than before, thanks to our impromptu meeting at Our Lady of Consolation.

Third visit

Bill and Robin invited us to their family’s Thanksgiving gathering, but Steven held out hope that our youngest son would join us for dinner.  Still, we knew that we’d do our usual— attend morning Mass; spend a leisurely day at home; watch football; and enjoy a quiet, intimate meal all by ourselves.  But that was before viewing Michael Gibson’s “Vattmann Thanksgiving picnic” on the evening news (KIII, November 21, 2016).

“I’ve wanted to attend for the past five years,” I reminded Steven.  “It’d be great to go, even if just once.”

Knowing Steven, he had his heart on fixing Thanksgiving dinner at home.  No rush, no fuss with traffic or lines, lots of football viewing, and eating to his heart’s content at will.  He’d started his pre-planning in October and had been adding to his grocery list day by day.  So he was ready to take on the bird and all the trimmings.  Never mind that these other delectable options had cropped up.

Still, I really, really wanted to experience Vattmann on Thanksgiving Day.  And Michael’s piece three days before had to have worked its magic because Wednesday afternoon Steven suggested that we “stop by St. Paul’s for ten o’clock Mass on our way south.”

Vattmann Thanksgiving

During Mass I thought about Father Stembler, pastor at St. Paul’s before his transfer to St. Gertrude’s in Kingsville.  I wondered how he was doing, especially since his dad had passed away late September.  We’d been out-of-state so hadn’t attended the memorial Mass in October.  But I had every intention of writing to him, so I mentally penned a letter to our beloved joyful priest on the drive to Vattmann.

And whom should I see as we approached the path to turn left onto the church parking area?  Father Stembler, all smiles, waving us along!  Unbelievable!  

If this was God’s way of letting me know that we’d chosen wisely in attending the picnic at Our Lady of Consolation, the rest was bound to be unforgettable.

I was able to spend a bit of time with Father Stembler as we all stood waiting in line.  He even hammed it up for my Coolpix!  And Bishop Carmody was there, too.  We love that he married us at the cathedral.  How special was that?  Two for one.

What an uplifting experience!  So many wonderful parishioners heeding the call of service!  So many happy faces engaged in outdoor activities, feasting on Thanksgiving dinner, buying all kinds of goodies at the country store, and just-plain conversing with each other in little clusters here and there.

For Steven and me, the ladies at the country store made our day.  Gwen told us the story of Jan’s husband, Stan, who made all the wooden crosses on display before he died November 8, 2016.  “He wanted to vote more than anything, and he did.”

Then she gave us a very special pass to the workroom where the ladies meet, February through November, to turn cast-offs into treasures.  And, while there, we met Jan and Betty, sweet ladies whose smiles and stories delighted us beyond imagining.  “Santa’s magical elves in Santa’s workshop,” Steven called them.

Of course, the ladies behind the pay-out counter were very nice, too.  One in particular smiled so blissfully— like a kid in a candy shop— that I wished I could’ve gotten to know her better.

Above all, however, I was grateful for my not-so-alone time spent in church.

As I took photos of the beautiful sacred space for the third time, I was taken by the perfectly lit stained-glass windows; the cheerful ambiance graced by impeccably painted walls and icons; and the thoughtful visitors who came and went, paying their respects lovingly as they sat, knelt, or walked about lightly in total reverence.

What a gift to be in the presence of God with these joyful hearts!

I melted within as I gave thanks and praise for my gifts and talents shared with others.

olc112416-4        olc112416-87        olc112416-136

olc112416-21        olc112416-39

olc112416-33        olc112416-32        olc112416-29

olc112416-19      olc112416-22a      olc112416-20

l1olc112416-41        l2olc112416-43        l3olc112416-45        l4olc112416-44

l5olc112416-47        olc112416-57        r5olc112416-18

r1olc112416-27        r2olc112416-26        r3olc112416-25        r4olc112416-23

1olc112416-135        2olc112416-130        3olc112416-129

4olc112416-126        5olc112416-125        6olc112416-123

olc112416-69      olc112416-118      olc112416-138

Country store

olc112416-11a      olc112416-12a      olc112416-137

olc112416-167      olc112416-139      olc112416-169      olc112416-165

olc112416-170        olc112416-178        olc112416-180

olc112416-142    olc112416-153    olc112416-158    olc112416-177

olc112416-160   olc112416-163   olc112416-166   olc112416-141

olc112416-173        olc112416-171        olc112416-172

olc112416-150   olc112416-144   olc112416-152   olc112416-151

olc112416-143      olc112416-149      olc112416-145

Thanksgiving picnic

olc112416-74      olc112416-77      olc112416-84

olc112416-89        olc112416-90        olc112416-92

olc112416-93      olc112416-95      olc112416-97

olc112416-112      olc112416-107      olc112416-117

olc112416-116      olc112416-105      olc112416-109

olc112416-113        olc112416-114        olc112416-115

olc112416-86      olc112416-91      olc112416-120

Afterthoughts

Seeing the posted photos from our Thanksgiving in Vattmann, Steven typed a comment for the blog.

“Ooh!  Nice!  May I include your thoughts in the post itself?”

“Sure!”

“So,” you may say, “you had Thanksgiving dinner with a few thousand total strangers is a crowded parish hall and you call that a good time?”

The answer is a resounding yes.

The long line moved fast, and everyone was friendly, chatting with each other, interested in how far each had come.  The priest who facilitated our marriage and the now-retired bishop who performed the ceremony at the Corpus Christi Cathedral were there, too.

The picnic was incredibly well-organized, and the family style serving worked better than anyone could expect as helpers in high-visibility orange vests waved new arrivals to empty seats.  And the food kept coming!  If you left hungry, it was your fault.

There was the rattle of constant gunfire at a skeet range set up behind the hall.  We saw several sharpshooters carrying away prize turkeys.

The Knights of Columbus were there with a raffle, and the kids had another one going.  Lots was going on, but the real deal for us was the country store, which displayed ornaments of all kinds, pot holders, statues, wall crosses, and other delightful items in an irresistible Christmas setting.

Since we were friendly and Deli was taking photos, we earned a very special pass to Santa’s workshop where the ladies shared some of their stories.  To prepare for the annual fundraiser, they work their Christmas elf magic February through November every year.

So, next Thanksgiving, why not do something different?  Head on into Texas brush country for a fun, friendly, bountiful dinner.  Help the fine folks in Vattmann, TX raise money for Our Lady of Consolation Church.

You’ll be glad you did! (Steven M. Lanoux, Ph.D.).

olc112416-3

olc112416-186

Links of interest…  Annual Thanksgiving fundraiser: 100th dinner / 2014 / giving thanks / holiday tradition / King countrypicnic (about) / special report (KIII; more)…  Father Edward J. Vattmann: about / chaplain (more) / more / photos: 1 / 2…  King’s Inn Restaurant: food / fried & true / website (contactevents)…  Manual for spiritual warfare…  Kleberg County (roots web)…  Our Lady: feasticon (more) / litany / novena/ prayers (more/ shrine (more)…  Our Lady of Consolation Church: diocesan map / facebook / one-room school house / photo / website (contact – events – history)…  TX Tropical Trail Region…  US Genealogy Web Project…  Vattmann: about / cemetery
(find a gravelocation – photos) / history / photos: wedding (c. 1910) & “where I grew up”…  The visitation & Mary, the walking tabernacle…  What does God want? A practical guide to making decisions

WP posts…  Beloved joyful priest…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Then and now…  Unexpected detours…  Vattmann church…  Venerable Julia Navarette

Comforting thought

slcb10816-7

During our weekend stay in St. Louis we strolled down Lindell Boulevard to the cathedral basilica to see for ourselves what Deacon Frank at St. Paul’s (back home) had so excitedly shared about his visit years ago.

Massive edifice

Regarded as one of the largest mosaic installations in the Western Hemisphere, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is also known for its burial crypts and its outdoor sculpture, The Angel of Harmony, that epitomizes racial accord.  The massive stone-grey edifice, visited by Pope John Paul II in 1999, is topped by a striking green dome that boldly proclaims its undeniable presence in the neighborhood even from afar.

Bigger than life

For me, entering the dimly lit vestibule was like stepping into a medieval masterpiece, only dark and foreboding for lack of white space.  I felt stifled by this looming sense of something bigger than life waiting past the inner doors.

Nothing prepared me for the sensory overload that blinded my third eye, rendering it useless on site (sight) the moment I entered the colossal nave.

My little Coolpix could never do any of this justice! I thought.  I’ll have to rely mostly on Steven’s shots with the big camera.

Comforting thought

I didn’t know what to do.  Steven kept insisting that I “pick a spot.”  But there was so much— too much, really— that, after standing there counting the pews to determine the middle, I chose an outer aisle seat on the left and simply sat.

Immersed in my quiet solitude, I just knew that Sunday morning Mass at St. Mary of Victories would be more in keeping with who and what I am than Saturday evening Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

slcb10816-1      slcb10816-4      slcb10816-5

slcb10816-13      slcb10816s-3      slcb10816s-7      slcb10816-16

slcb10816s-41      slcb10816-12     slcb10816s-39

slcb10816-32     slcb10816-34     slcb10816-35     slcb10816-40

slcb10816s-42        slcb10816s-34        slcb10816s-43        slcb10816s-40

slcb10816s-18       slcb10816s-19       slcb10816s-22       slcb10816s-23

slcb10816s-13      slcb10816s-27      slcb10816s-28      slcb10816s-44

slcb10816s-30    slcb10816s-49    slcb10816s-54    slcb10816s-33

slcb10816s-12     slcb10816s-46     slcb10816s-14

slcb10816-37      slcb10816s-16      slcb10816s-17      slcb10816s-24

slcb10816s-50     slcb10816s-32     slcb10816s-26

Prayers from A year of daily offerings (James Kubicki, SJ; 2016)

Fortify me with the grace of your Holy Spirit and give your peace to my soul that I may be free from all needless anxiety, solicitude, and worry.  Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to you so that your will may be my will (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini).

Loving God, I give myself to you.  Take my day with its sorrows and joys.  Give me what you wish.

November 14, 2016

When does God speak to us?  He speaks at all times, especially in prayer.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  But it is not a monologue.  When we pray, then, we should also listen, because a good conversationalist is also a good listener (Fr. Kilian J. Healy, Awakening Your Soul to Presence of God).

slcb10816s-38

slcb10816-50

Links of interest…  Cathedral basilica of St. Louis: about / facebook / historyMass / photostours / videowebsite…  Heavenly St. Louis (tours)…  Mother Cabrini’s first miracle…  Prayer: devotions (pdf) / lexionarylitany / novena…  St. Louis, king of Franceabout / admirable kingAug 25 / life (1903 ebook) / patron of barbers & grooms / servant of the poor (more)…  Year of daily offerings (p. 254)…

WP posts…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Noon visit…  Old cathedral…  Sunday morning visit…  Two angels

Sunday morning visit

smv10916s-39a

I’m grateful for having found St. Mary of Victories (SMV) online because God planted the seed thentwo or three years ago, that he harvested today.  His playfulness is uplifting.  I’ve learned that listening to the voice leads me to discover the Holy Infant waiting for me.  His peek-a-boo antics are delightful.  Most of all, I love that God places wonderful folks on my faith journey (My email to Cathy and Bill Saccente, parishioners, who welcomed us sweetly before nine o’clock Mass; 10.9.16, edited).

smv10916-57        smv10916-59        smv10916-60

smv10916-71        smv10916s-11        smv10916-72

smv10916-34a      smv10916-7      smv10916-53a

smv10916s-20        smv10916s-38a        smv10916-67

smv10916-44        smv10916s-57        smv10916-46

fxs112113-1a        smv10916-65        fxs112113-1b

smv10916-49        smv10916s-53        smv10916-52

smv10916-42        smv10916s-21        smv10916s-9

smv10916-26        smv10916-27        smv10916-29

smv10916-30        smv10916-38        smv10916-39

smv10916a        smv10916s-50        smv10916b

Call of service

smv10916-9      smv10916-11      smv10916-21

smv10916s-3        smv10916-14        smv10916s-7a

smv10916-15        smv10916-17        smv10916-18

smv10916s-2      smv10916s-4      smv10916s-6

Outdoor scenes

smv10916-80        smv10916-83        smv10916-85

smv10916-82      smv10916s-62      smv10916-97

Parish hall

smv10916s-68        smv10916-100        smv10916-101        smv10916-103

About the church

After Mass, Max Kaiser, acolyte and lector who serves at St. Mary of Victories “most of the time,” spoke to us about the church and, afterwards, shared a bit of family history and service to the community (October 9, 2016; transcribed audio recording, edited).

smv10916-24This church was dedicated to our Blessed Mother.  It was the first ethnic parish of the archdiocese established by the Old Cathedral in 1843 by the Germans who immigrated to the United States in large numbers.  It was the home for the Maronite community when they came over in 1890s and established St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral here.  And it was yet a third spiritual home to the Hungarian expatriates who fled the Communist revolution of Hungary in 1955 and 1956.  Today it is an indulgence church.  You’ll note that the altar was dedicated with the consecration by Pope Leo XIII [1878-1903], granting a plenary indulgence.  That means [that,] at the time of death, if an individual is in a state of grace and makes a worthy Holy Communion, they get four hundred days’ remission off their stay in purgatory.  And that is a specific request by Leo XIII to this specific church.

One of the other things I might note is [that the church] was consecrated at the behest of Pope Pius IX… in 1866.  That’s why we have the brass candelabra on the wall.  Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick [1843-1895] anointed each pillar with chrism oil— the oil of kings and bishops— to consecrate and dedicate this church formally to Roman Catholic worship and to no other purpose.

Consecrations are specifically governed by canon law.  They are not easily bestowed; they are not easily revoked.  We’ve had twenty-six consecrated churches in the archdiocese.  In the three-hundred-year history of the diocese, only one has been closed; and it took twenty-six years for the Vatican to lift the consecration of St. Liborius Church on Hogan and Market [North 18th Street], which some of you may remember.

You may also be interested to know about these triangular reliquaries and the large red ones and other relics we have embedded in the altars.  We are the third largest repository of relics in the archdiocese after both cathedrals and the CSJ motherhouse.  That’s the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet down on [Holly Hills] and Minnesota Avenue and, itself, worth a visit to see the remarkable chapel where they have the body of a child saved from Roman times entombed.

You’ll also notice the wonderful organ we have in the back choir loft built in 1856 by [?] Jacob Pfeiffer.  And, immediately above it, we have the crest of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger, the first German pope in seven-hundred years.  As the first German church of the diocese, we’re honoring him [by using], at his request, the emblem of his office using a mitre rather than the tiara which is on Pope St. John Paul II’s coat of arms here.

As an overture ecumenically to our East Orthodox brethren, he switched to the mitre for his coat of arms and incorporated elements of his see in Munich-Freising, Germany that he was promoted by them to become pope.  And, having ancestors from Bavaria, that means a little something to me.

The stained-glass windows were made between 1846 and 1896 by two firms: the Hoffman Company and the Emil Frei Art Glass Company.  The Hoffman Company went out of business in 1890; the Emil Frei Art Glass Company is still in business.  And you might have seen the article in the Post-Dispatch last week on Erin and Nicholas Frei who have been down to this church as visitors along with their dad and granddad, Robert Frei, who was the gentleman who inherited the studio from Emil Frei, Sr., himself a Bavarian immigrant who came first from San Francisco in the 1890s, then to St. Louis and really developed the art of stained glass for Roman Catholic, Lutheran, evangelical, and many other denominational churches.

And the thing that means something here also is [that] these pews, this remarkable communion rail, that baptismal font were all fabricated along with most of the altars by Professor Maximilian Schneiderhahn.  And, even though Maximilian is my first name, we are not related.

He was the first liturgical artist brought from Germany by Archbishop Kenrick to make church interiors for Catholic churches that were being built.  This was his first church interior; St. Pius V on South Grand Avenue was his last.  And he worked in stone, wood, marble, plaster, all sorts of media.  He made these pews in 1846.  He made that baptismal font in 1834.  More than fifteen-thousand people have been baptized.  And, our most recent addition, in terms of liturgical history, is the statue made of Father [now] Blessed Francis Seelos, a nineteenth-century Bavarian priest, in the Vatican statuary foundry in Italy.  I was privileged to uncrate it twelve years ago.

We also have a copy of Blessed Francis Seelos’s death mask on the side altar.  You’re welcome to take a look at it.  We have a portion of his sternum bone, which is locked in our safe in one of the reliquaries that honors him.  And we’re hoping the second miracle gets validated so he can be canonized— the second saint in the metro St. Louis area after Mother Philippine Rose Duchesne.

The church is remarkably churched.  As I said, it’s a granddaddy of all the ethnic parishes of the archdiocese, of all nationalities.  It is especially loved by many of the Marian Catholics in the St. Louis area.  And the Germans, the Hungarians, and the Lebanese all revere this church.  St. Raymond’s, even though it’s Maronite Rite, is very supportive of our continuance.

Something the guys and gals in this day and age might want to know, is [that] the archdiocese allows churches like ours that are historic to be open for Catholic weddings from Catholics outside parish boundaries.  Many of you grew up in the suburbs and, if you choose to hold your wedding here, you can.  And you can even bring your own priest, if you so choose.

Father Harrison, who is our chaplain— we are a chapel of ease of the archdiocese— will do the final paperwork; but the priest who will marry you will have responsibility for the preparation and the actual ceremony.  And we’ve done that many times.

I invite you to walk around and see all the remarkable artworks in the church.  And, when you realize that this church is 174 years old, in this type of condition, it’s pretty obvious Our Lord wants St. Mary of Victories Church to continue.

So, welcome, and thank you all for coming today.

Max is a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, an honor bestowed on him by Cardinal Ratzinger for his part in preserving historic churches.

My dad, my uncle, and, to a lesser extent, myself were German liturgical craftsmen who fabricated and plated the bronze, gold, and silver textures in the churches for the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, Lutheran, and some of the Reform churches.  Many of the Reform churches use rather notable metal ware, believe it or not.  We’ve had our business for more than 118 years.

smv10916-23[My dad and my uncle] volunteered down here in the 1930’s, [and] I’m glad to keep the tradition going.  I really like the German, the Hungarian, [and] the Lebanese who settled this church because… they [were] more flexible.  You could join the parish even if you weren’t that ancestry, [and] now we have all nationalities represented.

Come back anytime and have a great visit.

Prayer from the church bulletin (SMV)

Our heavenly Father, long ago you inspired our… forefathers in the faith to raise this beautiful house of prayer and sacrifice in honor of your Son’s most holy mother, Our Lady of Victories.  Your providence then brought many… here under the co-patronage of this holy king, St. Stephen.  We humbly place before you today the spiritual and temporal needs of our historic church and its present-day community.  Grant us the grace to discern your holy will and to fulfill it zealously as faithful witnesses to the gospel here in the old heart of our city for as long as it may please your divine majesty.

St. Mary of Victories, pray for us.  St. Stephen of Hungary, pray for us.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

November 9, 2016

“The world tells us to seek success, power, and money; God tells us to seek humility, service, and love” (Pope Francis).

smv10916-5

smv10916-89b

Links of interest…  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos: aboutbiography (more) / healernational shrine (more) / prayersprofileten tips / wonderworker…  Hidden heart of Catholic St. Louis…  Palm Sunday (2016)…  St. Louis Mass mob: aboutfacebook…  St. Mary of Victories: about / archdiocese page / early historyfacebook (landmark) / help save the churchmediaphotos / relicswebsite…  St. Stephen: about / Aug 16 / devotion to Mary / Hungarian apostlememorial / prayerprofile / quote

WP posts…  Comforting thought…  Faces of Mary…  Familiar yet new…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Marytown shrine…  Old cathedral…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s

Old cathedral

sloc10916-17

October was a good month for travel and heartfelt wishes realized.  While in St. Louis, Missouri, we delighted in sunny daylight hours, lots of friendly folks, and three sacred spaces— the last of which was “the old cathedral,” the Basilica of St. Louis, King, in the city’s historic downtown area.

sloc10916-1      sloc10916-5      sloc10916-8

sloc10916-9      sloc10916s-6      sloc10916-12

sloc10916-98      sloc10916s-17      sloc10916-62a

sloc10916-22  sloc10916-26  sloc10916-45  sloc10916-43

sloc10916-39   sloc10916-42   sloc10916s-22   sloc10916-64

sloc10916s-27      sloc10916s-2      sloc10916-118      sloc10916-24

sloc10916-110      sloc10916-78      sloc10916-82      sloc10916s-9

sloc10916-20  sloc10916-36  sloc10916-67  sloc10916-77

sloc10916-25    sloc10916-55    sloc10916-90

sloc10916-21    sloc10916-92    sloc10916-94

stoc1 stoc2 stoc3 stoc4a stoc4b

Prayer

O God who called your servant, Louis of France, to an earthly throne that he might advance your heavenly kingdom and gave him zeal for your Church and love for your people, mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works and attain to the glorious crown of your saints through Jesus Christ, our lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

November 24, 2016

“In prosperity give thanks to God with humility and fear lest, by pride, you abuse God’s benefits and so offend him” (St. Louis IX).

sloc10916-109

sloc10916-122

Links of interest…  Fire of 1849about / Laclede’s Landing / more…  Gateway Arch…  Heavenly St. Louis (tours)…  Old St. Louis Cathedral: abouthistory / hours / Mass / parkingphotos / restoration / video…  Prayer: devotions (pdf) / lexionarylitany / novena…  St. Louis, king of Franceabout / admirable kingAug 25 / life (1903 ebook) / patron of barbers & grooms / servant of the poor (more)…

WP pages…  Meditations…  Prayer…  St. Joseph

WP posts…  Comforting thought…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Noon visit…  Sunday morning visit…  Two angels

Marytown shrine

NSMK4814s-52

After exploring Mundelein that very frigid morning, Martha, Steven, and I drove a little more than two miles— just seven minutes— to the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe and arrived in perfect time for noon Mass.  We were beside ourselves with joy!

NSMK4814-2    NSMK4814-4    NSMK4814-8    NSMK4814-9

NSMK4814-21   NSMK4814-38   NSMK4814-39   NSMK4814-40

NSMK4814s-32  NSMK4814-64  NSMK4814-66  NSMK4814s-80  NSMK4814-47

NSMK4814-44      NSMK4814s-24      NSMK4814s-25      NSMK4814s-3a

NSMK4814s-10     NSMK4814s-82     NSMK4814s-6     NSMK4814s-11

NSMK4814s-35        NSMK4814-1a        NSMK4814s-34

NSMK4814s-12     NSMK4814s-20     NSMK4814s-41     NSMK4814s-43

NSMK4814s-45     NSMK4814s-55     NSMK4814s-57     NSMK4814s-59

NSMK4814s-67       NSMK4814s-68       NSMK4814s-69       NSMK4814s-70

NSMK4814s-13       NSMK4814s-19       NSMK4814s-18       NSMK4814s-56       NSMK4814s-53

NSMK4814s-42        NSMK4814s-39        NSMK4814s-40        NSMK4814s-44

NSMK4814s-66       NSMK4814s-48       NSMK4814s-23       NSMK4814s-58       NSMK4814s-62

Prayers

Immaculata, queen and mother of the Church, I renew my consecration to you this day and for always so that you may use me for the coming of the kingdom of Jesus in the whole world.  To this end I offer you all my prayers, actions, and sacrifices of this day.  Amen.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you and for all those who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of holy Church and all those recommended to you.  Amen.

O God, who gave the Church and the world the priest and martyr, St. Maximilian Kolbe, burning with love for the Immaculate Virgin Mary and with apostolic zeal for souls and heroic love of neighbor, graciously grant through his intercession that, striving for your glory by eagerly serving others, we may be conformed even until death to your son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen (Companions of St. Anthony, 2016).

Our Lady of Czestochowa…  Mother of God, immaculate Mary, to you do I dedicate my body and soul, all my prayers and deeds, my joys and sufferings, all that I am, and all that I have.

With a joyful heart I surrender myself to your bondage of love.

To you will I devote my services of my own free will for the salvation of mankind and for the help of the holy Church whose mother you are.

From now on my only desire is to do all things with you, through you, and for you.  I know I can accomplish nothing by my own strength, whereas you can do everything that is the will of your son and you are always victorious.  Grant, therefore, helper of the faithful, that my family, parish, and homeland might become in truth the kingdom where you reign with your son.  Amen.

Quotes from St. Maximilian Kolbe

The most deadly poison of our times is indifference.  And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits.  Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.

Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much.  You can never love her more than Jesus did.

No one in the world can change truth.  What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it.

“Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to the Immaculata who is queen even of God’s heart.”

August 4, 2016

How sweet and full of comfort are the moments spent before the Blessed Sacrament.  Are you in trouble?  Come and throw yourself at his feet
(St. John Vianney).

August 5, 2016

Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love.  To pray and love, that is the happiness of man on earth (St. John Vianney).

August 18, 2016

“The guest of our soul knows our misery; he comes to find an empty tent within us — that is all he asks” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

August 22, 2016

“God placed Mary far above all the angels and saints and so filled her with every heavenly grace from his own divine treasury so that her innocence and holiness exceeded every creature but God himself” (Pope Pius IX).

October 28, 2016

From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things.  From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone (St. John Paul II).

NSMK4814s-1

NSMK4814s-17

Adoration & Mass: Marytown chapel schedule

Links of interest…  Come, pray the rosary (virtual)…  Enter the world of devotion to Mary…  St. Maximilian Kolbe: 9 things to know (more) / about (more) / biography (more) / Conventual Franciscan / lessons from / martyr of charity (booklet) / moral heropoor weaver’s son / prayers: consecrationfreedom from addictionnovena / profile (more) /  quotes / relics / saint of Auschwitz / story (anecdote) / timeline / writings (Immaculate Conception – more)…  Life for life (movie)…  Marytown: about / chapel live streaming (Mass & adoration) / facebook / video…  Mission of the Immaculata (Niepokalanów)…  Practice of silence for lay people…  Prayer library…  Spiritual reflections

WP posts…  Call of service…  Honoring Joselito  Lady of sorrows…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  May flowers…  Today’s beatitudes…  Twelve candles

Twelve candles

CSJC122714s-41

For the past two weeks I’ve been maintaining, editing, and adding to my blog behind the scenes; so I’ve had ample opportunity to think about my next post.

Treasures

Opening the “churches” folder on the external drive this afternoon, I wondered which of the many files-in-waiting I should peek into.  Then Martha came to mind.

Thanks to our beloved friend, we shared an incredible adventure in Mundelein before driving to Marytown for noon Mass at the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  The church, managed by Conventual Franciscans, hosts a multitude of statues everywhere and a seemingly endless array of holy relics.  I thought my heart would burst! 

Connections

Viewing the photos again after two years of dormancy, my thoughts ricocheted from one post to another to another.  I added St. Anthony Mary Claret’s relic photo to Kylie’s story and then—  Oh, my gosh!  Providential!

Earlier in the day, I’d happened across the “twelve candles” draft from last December.  Not sure when I’ll get to that, I thought, dismissing any effort to get it published.  And here, out of the blue, in the photo files from our day with Martha was a photo of a prayer posted at the shrine.  Oh, perfect sentiment!  Who says the Hallmark Channel owns Christmas in July? 

Twelve candles

December 27, 2013, Steven and I started an annual tradition.

For our anniversary we gift ourselves with a day trip to the St. Joseph Chapel in Alamo: Steven makes a special contribution to the Capuchin Poor Clares, and he lights twelve candles.

We remember “everyone and everything everywhere”— most, specifically by name— and we give thanks and praise for “all God’s blessings in the new year to come.”

December 2015, we visited St. Joseph’s twice, the second time on Christmas Eve.  And, because it was our first time attending Mass at the chapel, we chose to light our candles in the spirit of the Holy Family.

So, twelve candles, twelve months of blessings.  When we say “you’re in our thoughts and prayers daily,” we really mean it.

God bless you sweetly!

CSJC122714s-38        CSJC122415-1        CSJC122415-43

CSJC122714s-52        CSJC122415-15        CSJC122714-64

Prayers 

I don’t know how to pray.  I don’t know what to say.  I haven’t much time….

The light which I am giving is a little of what I have— a little of my time, a little of myself— which I am leaving before the Lord and the Virgin Mary.

This light symbolizes my prayer, which I continue even as I go my way.

Lord, may this candle I am lighting be the light with which you enlighten [us in our] difficulties and decisions.  May it be the fire with which you burn away the selfishness and impurity in [us].  May it be the flame with which you warm [our hearts].

I cannot remain for long in your church.  By leaving this candle burning, I want to give you something of myself.

Help me to continue to pray in the midst of my daily activities.

Amen (National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe, n. d.).

Xmas2015a        Xmas2015b

Quote

We often think we receive graces and are divinely illuminated by means of brilliant candles.  But from whence comes their light?  From prayers, perhaps, of some humble, hidden soul whose inward shining is not apparent to human eyes (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

CSJC122415-17

St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery – 725 E. Bowie Avenue – Alamo, TX 78516-5500

CSJC122415-35

Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Eleven Chrsitmas hymns & songs (video)…  How beeswax candles opened my eyes to the beauty of Mass…  Light a candle…  Like a moth drawn to the flames of church candles…  Living an unending Christmas…  Mary Page: Marian prayers / one’s special intentions / prayer circlecorner…  Our Lady of the Rosary Library: prayers to the Blessed Virgin for every day of the week…  Prayer: & devotions to the Blessed Mother / & seasons / daily sacred spacefor all occasions (AMM) / four daily habits / free booklets & CDs (more) / healing / librarylittle book of caregiver prayers / more / morning & new beginnings / novenas made easyten ways to grow in prayer (more) / treasure of 3,569 / why we must pray…  Praying to the saints: gracious advocates / heavenly intercessors / intercessory prayer / litanies / novenas (221) / why pray novenas /  why pray to the saints…  Reasons to request prayer on social media / why writing is good for you…  Spiritual reflections…  Ten reasons to be filled with hope…  Time to put out electric votive candles…  What do you think of me, Lord

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Budding relationships…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas scenes…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  Marytown shrine…  Oh, happy day!…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Slice of heaven…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Felix…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret