Sunday morning visit

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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).

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Call of service

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Outdoor scenes

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Parish hall

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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.

smv10916-23My 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.

[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.

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, CSsR

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Prayer from SMV church bulletin

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).

December 15, 2016

The Christian heart has always known Mary as the essence of compassion and love, to whom man can turn with particular and unreserved confidence.  This is expressed so well by the intimate name that was given her from the beginning, the name of mother (Fr. Romano Guardini, The Rosary of Our Lady).

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Links of interest…  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos: aboutbiography (more) / healernational shrine (more) / prayersprofileten tips / wonderworker…  Criticism of Pope Francis rooted in misunderstanding of Vatican II: parts one, two, & three…  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

Second looks

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My junior high school science teacher, Mr. Beimler, always insisted that second looks allow not just for comparing and contrasting, but also for enrichment.  So, over the course of my lifetime, I’ve tested and tweaked that notion, adding depth and complexity as well as enjoyment and perspective.

Do-over

When Steven emailed from his Wednesday evening ACTS team meeting that we’d be returning to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), I was relieved.  One of my posted photos of the stained-glass windows looked fuzzy, so I was glad for the opportunity to replace it.

Still, what I’d really hoped (and longed for) since our first visit to OLPH was to indulge my third eye in its post-Lent unveiled statues.

Second looks

Attending Saturday evening Mass presented a slight dilemma, however.  The lighting was different.  But I took my time, made lens adjustments, and hoped for the best.

As Steven recruited for the men’s ACTS retreat, I moved about capturing not only what I’d missed during our first visit, but also what the church community holds dear.

The all-white angels on either side of the all-white Madonna and her child dazzled me.  Who thinks to have uncolored statues in church?  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph reminded me of the original statues from the old St. Joseph Church in Port Aransas.  They resemble collectible prayer card depictions.  And Mary, featured prominently near the altar, emotionally transported me to daily Mass as a first-grader at Immaculate Conception School.  Even now Mary is celebrated with floral bouquets in May.

All in all, Our Lady of Perpetual Help was just as insightful the second time around!

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Prayers

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying.  O purest Mary, O sweetest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips.  Delay not, O blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on you; for, in all my needs, in all my temptations, I shall never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary.  O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fill my soul when I pronounce your sacred name or even only think of you.  I thank God for having given you for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name.  But I will not be content with merely pronouncing your name.  Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you, mother of perpetual help.  Amen.

My powerful Queen, you are all mine through your mercy, and I am all yours.  Take away from me all that may displease God and cultivate in me all that is pleasing to him.  May the light of your faith dispel the darkness of my mind, your deep humility take the place of my pride, your continual sight of God fill my memory with his presence.

May the first of the love of your heart inflame the lukewarmness of my own heart.  May your virtues take the place of my sins.  May your merits be my enrichment and make up for all that is wanting in me before God.

My beloved Mother, grant that I may have no other spirit but your spirit  to know Jesus Christ and his divine will and to praise and glorify the Lord, that I may love God with burning love like yours.  Amen.

V.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
R.  I give you my heart and my soul.
V.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
R.  Assist me in my last agony.
V.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
R.  May I sleep and take my rest in peace with you.

June 9, 2016

“Most people have no idea what God would make of them if they would only place themselves at his disposal” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).

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Links of interest…  ACTS Missions…  Immaculate heart of Mary…  Mary: Indispensable to the gospel…  Never be afraid to take the same photograph again…  OLPH: facebook / Mass timeswebsite…  Our Lady of Perpetual Help: about / devotionshistory / image (elements – icon) / meaning / prayers: novena – safeguard – thanksgiving (petitions) – video / who is…  Time to free Mary…  Your blog is your mothership…  Why priests (& all evangelists) need Mary

WP posts…  Building community…  Call of service…  Church time blues…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Notre Dame revisited…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Undeniable familiarity

Undeniable familiarity

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When Steven announced that St. Paul’s would co-host the men’s ACTS retreat together with Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), I was over the moon at the prospect of visiting the church for the very first time.

Entering OLPH Sunday morning, March 13, 2016, I fully understood why Rosie, firstborn daughter of mom’s older middle brother and my dearest playmate growing up, was such an ardent parishioner.

Thanks to the ceilings, the walls, and the lighting, the church ambiance resonated with such intense familiarity that its spirit tugged at my heartstrings, evoking long-ago memories of our families’ church, Christ the King, founded in 1953, that Uncle Ray helped build (twice) in Brownsville, TX.  Yet the look and feel of the bare pews, maple stained, ultra smooth, perfectly curved, provided the welcoming embrace that took me home again the moment I sat for eleven o’clock Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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Prayer

Mother of Perpetual Help, woman of eternal hope, your wordless gaze tells us so much about you.  Knowing eyes look upon us with tender love.  The slight bend of your head reveals such maternal concern.

While your left hand supports the Child, your right hand is ready to receive us, too.  Just as he feels the beating of your heart, so you encourage us to lead a life of hope and holiness.  Just as his sandal will fall on your lap, through your intercession may God pick us up as we stumble and fall.

Never let us be parted from you and your son, Jesus.

Lady of love, you invite us to place our hand where his fingers touch yours— near a heart of endless hope— so that we may be united often in prayer here on earth and joined forever with you in heaven.  Amen.

May 19, 2016

With Mary live joyfully, with Mary bear all your trials, with Mary labor, with Mary pray, with Mary take your recreation, with Mary take your repose.  With Mary seek Jesus; in your arms bear Jesus and with Jesus and Mary fix your dwelling at Nazareth.  With Mary go to Jerusalem, remain near the cross of Jesus, bury yourself with Jesus.  With Jesus and Mary rise again, with Jesus and Mary mount to heaven, with Jesus and Mary live and die (Thomas à Kempis).

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Links of interest…  ACTS Missions…  Called to be living stones…  Christ the King Church: diocesan page / facebook / Mass times…  Lent: should statues/pictures be covered / veiling (more) / why crucifixes & statues are covered (more)…  Mary: Indispensable to the gospel…  OLPH: facebook / Mass timeswebsite…  Our Lady of Perpetual Help: about / history / image (elements – icon) /  meaning / novena / prayer (video) / who is…  Stations of the cross for children & families: download / fifteen candles / illustrated / prayer / printables / puppet show (YouTube) / resources / virtual walk / visuals

WP posts…  Building community…  Call of service…  Christ’s passion…  Church time blues…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Full circle…  Gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Notre Dame revisited…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  Second looks…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s…  Today’s Beatitudes

Notre Dame revisited

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After Mass in Fort Stockton I asked Steven if we could take a detour in Kerrville.  “I’ve longed to revisit Notre Dame since we met Gloria and her little girl our first time there, August 30, 2008.”

I didn’t push the issue, though.  Highway traffic had been frantic on Interstate 10, and Steven was tired.  All he wanted was to get us home safely.

Heartfelt wish

We might not pass this way again, I pleaded wishfully in silence as I kept my gaze on the road and my thoughts to myself.

“Sure,” Steven replied, despite the stormy weather looming ominously, waiting patiently to overtake us with torrential rain predicted days before.

Notre Dame revisited

Once we found the church we turned off our travel cares.

In the vestibule I met a young mother with a little girl, so reminiscent of Gloria and her little girl.  In Spanish I briefly shared the story of our first visit.  The woman was very nice, all smiles.  She didn’t know Gloria (whose last name I didn’t know) or anything about the Cursillo group that Gloria had invited us to learn more about but, from the lilt in her voice, I could tell that she understood how happy I was to be back after almost eight years.  We wished each other well before they departed for home.

I proceeded to the heart of the church where Steven was already taking photos.  A woman, sitting very still in a pew near the altar, seemed lost in meditation as we moved about, delighted in our very own (unexpected) concert: forty-five glorious minutes of music practice before evening Mass.

Steven and I spoke quietly here and there about angles, lighting, and the stations of the cross but, mostly, we savored every heavenly note and sang along as we grinned nonstop.  We were ever so grateful for God’s precious gifts at Notre Dame Church!

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Prayer

O ever immaculate Virgin, mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comfort of the afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy.  By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal.

I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession.  Obtain, O loving Mother, the grant of my requests.

I will endeavor to imitate your virtues that I may one day share your glory, and bless you in eternity.  Amen.

May 7, 2016

“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a mother” (St. Therese of Lisieux).

May 8, 2016

Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them.  They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy, and strong (St. Gianna Molla).

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Links of interest…  Behold your Mother: This Mother’s Day, this month of May, & beyond…  Can we endure the light…  Don’t compartmentalize your faith (audio)…  Faith connected to everythingin the gospels / through love / what is…  Hear God speaking to you…  Introduction to the devout life: ebook (St. Francis de Sales)…  Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: aboutbook / consecrating the hours / hymns, psalms, & readingsintroduction / prayers (more)…  Notre Dame Church (Mass times)…  Our Lady of Lourdes: about / novena / prayer…  What is Cursillo…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: e-book…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Christ’s passion…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Dear God…  Faith and prayer…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  In good time…  Lady of Sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Little gifts…  Lourdes novenas…  Making meaning…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Agnes Church…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

Unexpected detours

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For more than five years I held onto a heartfelt wish: to revisit Our Lady of Consolation in Vattmann, TX.  Only I had no idea where the town was other than off Highway 77, which we travel to and from Brownsville with regularity.

Our Lady of Consolation

On one of our trips south to the valley, I asked Steven if he would treat me to lunch at King’s Inn.  And he agreed. 

From the road I spotted a red brick structure.  “Is that Our Lady of Consolation Church?”

“It must be.  I’m surprised it’s on the way to King’s Inn.”

Happy day!  What a perfect opportunity to take photos after lunch.

Unexpected detours

And the best part about stopping at church?  We met Maria, a sweet, soulful woman with connections to Sr. Maxie at Mother Julia’s Chapel and Museum in Kingsville.  Absolutely amazing, considering that we had no idea then that we’d take an unexpected detour to Kingsville (where I took more photos) on our way home three days later.

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Prayers

Consecration to the Blessed Virgin…  My Queen and my Mother, I give myself entirely to you; and, in proof of my affection, I give you my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart, my whole being without reserve.  Since I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession.  Amen.

Morning offering…  O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your sacred heart in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world; in thanksgiving for your favors; in reparation for my sins; for the intentions of all my relatives and friends; and, in particular, for the intentions of the Holy Father.  Amen.

May 24, 2016

“As a mother feels no disgust in dressing the sores of her child, so Mary, the heavenly infirmarian, never refuses to care for sinners who have recourse to her” (St. Alphonsus).

June 4, 2016

Dearest Mother, please look on your people who confidently honor you as their mother [and long] for your help and consolation.  Bless us in your heart, comfort us in our pains, stand by us in all distress, show us Jesus after our death (St. Hildegard of Bingen).

June 10, 2016

“Let us ask Our Lady’s help today in living our own dedication to the full, in whatever state God has placed us, in accordance with the specific vocation we have received from the Lord” (Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal).

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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 / shrine (about)…  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
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God’s lovely gifts

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Steven and I arrived a whole hour before Saturday evening Mass and, thanks to the recent time (light) change, Our Lady of Guadalupe looked picture perfect in its palm greenery; so how could I ignore God’s impromptu invitation to bask in the windows and the stations that I’d last photographed in 2012?

And I discovered something new!

God’s lovely gifts

Among the exquisite stained-glass windows are sixteen— not fourteen or fifteen, but sixteen— stations of the cross!  Amazing.

I can understand the fifteenth station, the glorious resurrection; but to depict Jesus in the garden before his way of the cross?  Extraordinary.

As for the Last Supper?  When one glimpses the back altar from either side of the front altar, one can see the lit portion below the mantle.  Stunning.

What lovely gifts God has in store when we make time for him!

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We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last

0OLG4816-71OLG4816-2 Through her heart his sorrow sharing,
all his bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword had passed.

Oh how sad and sore distressed
was that mother highly blessed
of the sole-begotten one!

Christ above in torment hangs;
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying, glorious son.

3OLG31916-442OLG31916-45Is there one who would not weep,
o’rwhelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain
in that mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of his own nation
saw him hang in desolation,
all with bloody scourges rent.

5OLG51912-394OLG51912-50Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender child
till his spirit forth he sent.

O, sweet mother, fount of love,
touch my spirit from above;
make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ, my Lord.

7OLG31916-406OLG31916-41Holy mother, pierce me through;
in my heart each wound renew
of my savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
mourning him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live.

9OLG31916-298OLG51912-140By the cross with you to stay,
there with you to weep and pray,
this I ask of you to give.

Virgin, of all virgins blest,
O refuse not my request:
let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying son of yours.

10OLG31916-28Wounded11OLG31916-27 with his every wound
steep my soul till it has swooned
in his very blood away.

Be to me, O virgin, nigh
lest in flames I burn and die
in that awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shalt call me hence,
be your mother my defense,
be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
may my soul your goodness praise,
safe in paradise with you.

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Contact information

Stabat Mater, a thirteenth century hymn that tells the story of Our Lady of Sorrows during the passion of Christ, was translated by Fr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878) from Liturgia Horarum.  (See links below.)   An abridged version accompanies the stations in Behold! The Way of the Cross (Gouin, Creative Communications for the Parish, 2001).

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Links of interest…  Bearing our own cross: A fiat for Easter…  Betrayal…  Catholic Harbor of Faith & Morals (website)…  Final hours & death…  Garden of olives: agony (more) / prayer of Jesus / story…  Holy Saturday: looking back & peering ahead & twelve things to know…  Incarnation & the Pietá…  Last supper & betrayal…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (Brownsville, TX): about / facebook…  Palm Sunday: about / date / facts / history / prayer (biddingblessing of palmsmorereflections) / traditions…  Passion Sunday (nine things to know & share)…  Personalizing the passion of Jesus Christ…  Stabat Mater (hymn): aboutAll the women of the Bible / iBreviary / Preces Latinae / video (YT) / Virtrus Online…  Sermons of St. Francis de Sales: On our Lady (preview)…  Sorrowful mysteries of the holy rosary…  St. Vianney sermons: Beware if you have no temptations & Temptations…  Stabat Mater: hymn / liturgical sequence / seven sorrows / more / YouTube (more)…  Stations of the cross (YT)…  Trusting in God completely & in uncertain times…  Via Crucis: Walking the passion with Jesus: one & two…  Way of Holy Week

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  Disquieting moments…  Father’s roses…  Full circle…  Growing pains…  Guadalupe Church…  In the pink…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Living one’s gifts…  Mercy and justice…  Our Lady’s church…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Recollections…  Sacred Heart Church…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Anselm Church…  St. Mary’s…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Venerating St. Anthony

God’s loving mercy

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Saturday evening we attended the Santo Niño celebration at St. Pius X in Corpus Christi, TX.  Well, the Mass, actually.

Since our Bible study group had engaged in a thoroughly invigorating discussion on the Sunday readings— the “Wedding at Cana” in particular— Steven and I had anticipated that Bishop Mulvey’s homily was sure to be the icing on the proverbial cake.  For this reason, I recorded his homily (below) to share with the group.

Setting the tone

SPX11616-StoNA marvelous story of Santo Niño and so many other stories of protective help from the saints, from Mary, from God.  We’ve moved them back into history.  When you think about the feast, the miracle of Santo Niño back in the 1600s, you look at the life of the people, probably very simple.  Very simple, simple life.  They had the elements of the earth.  They depended on the rain to water their crops.  They depended on the water to produce fish.  They needed the elements of the earth.  They needed the help of God.  They relied upon the help of God.  And we see that notion throughout the scriptures.

As we rise every morning in the Office that we pray as priests, religious, and lay people in the church, the opening psalm is the psalm of praise to God that he has created us, at heart that we should not harden our hearts against him but [be] open to God’s help.

I say that because we might, each one of us, think of this morning and yesterday morning and the morning before.  [What was] the first thing you did when you got up?  What did you think of?  If you try to examine yourself, say, “As I get up each morning, who do I rely upon?”

I think, if we’re honest, we’re going to rely upon the TV— turn it on first, get the news.  Gotta get the news.  Gotta go to that computer.  Gotta go to that iPhone.  Gotta go to that text message.

We have become dependent on all of these things.  And the question for us is [this]: In the midst of all this relying on news and media and connection with my friends on facebook around the world and all these things that I need to exist, where is [my] God?

Have these things become our gods because God is what is beyond us?  God is the one who is superior to us. But God is also the one who loves us, tenderly, gently.  And so, if we examine ourselves, sisters and brothers, and we think about just the very simple act of getting up in the morning, do we get up with a grateful heart and say, “Good morning, Lord Jesus?”  “Good morning, Father of mercies?”  “Good morning, another morning, so that I can rely on you?”

How we get up in the morning sets the tone for the day.  Sets the tone for the day.

If I get up immediately relying upon technology, then my day will be technological.  And, when I get exhausted by the end of the day, I’ll say— gasp— “Oh, I forgot!  Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women—  In the name of the Father and the Son—  Goodnight, Lord.”  But that’s not who we are as a people.  The beautiful faith of the Filipino people and so many other rich, rich cultures of faith rely from the very beginning on the love, the mercy, of God.

Goodness and hope

SPX11616-83I had a pastor that I worked for as a deacon in England.  He was part of the Apostleship of the Sea, which is very close to our seamen here in the Port of Corpus Christi and probably many of your own family members.

He told me one thing as a young deacon.  He said, “Michael, the people who are closest to God are the ones who are closest to the elements of the earth.  They, too, are those who work with the land and those who work at sea because they rely and depend upon God’s goodness.”

In the Philippines, especially in the past years, you know that the weather and the elements of the water have brought great destruction.  But the faith of the people grows even more.

So many farmers in this area with the drought have really felt devastation, and yet there’s that hope that continues to live in them.  No machine can do that for us.

Finding meaning

And so as you celebrate— as we celebrate— this evening, I think it’s important to go back to those rudimentary principles of who we are as human beings, created not manufactured, created not in a laboratory but in the image and likeness of God in our mothers’ wombs.  Simple.  Thank you very much.  And it’s because of that human nature that we rely upon the divine.

Look at Jesus. In the gospel of John, several times, he said, “I have not come to do my own will, but the will of my Father.”  [He tells] us, “I’ve not come to do my own thing.  I rely upon, I depend upon, I find my meaning and my fulfillment in God’s will for me.”

What did that mean?  He had to stay in close contact with him.  And he didn’t have an iPhone.  He didn’t have facebook.  He didn’t have all these mechanisms we have to stay in touch with his Father.  What he had was prayer.  What he had was a secluded place in the mountains or in the back yard to be silent and listen to the Father.

That’s how Jesus got up every morning, giving praise to the Father.  That’s how he lived the day.  And that’s how he returned to a night’s sleep, depending on the will of the Father in all that he did.

Seeking God’s will

And so we find ourselves saying sometimes, “You know, WWJD.  What would Jesus do in this moment?

Well, there’s a bigger question.  There’s a bigger context.  What does Jesus want?  What does God want of you, especially the young people?  Have you ever thought—  What does God want from you, not what you want to do [or] what your parents and your grandparents want you to do?  What does God want of your life?

We see St. Paul in the reading today lining out [the] different ministries.  There are different ways to serve God.  That’s what the body of Christ is all about.  Different ways.  Nothing’s I invent, but how God calls each one of us forth to do his will.  And to do his will, I can’t put a magic formula in somewhere.  I’ve got to listen.  I’ve got to be able to pray and listen with silence.

I would’ve never thought, ever, of being a bishop.  Many of you probably would not have ever thought of doing some things that you’ve done or be someone that you are.  But it’s by God’s grace, and so we have to listen.

Making connections

SPX11616-98We have today in the gospel a marvelous story of listening to one another, a story that you all know.  If I were to ask you— as adults or people who go to religion class, CCD— [to] tell me the story of the wedding feast of Cana, you could tell it, probably.  No problem.  Still ain’t right?  You know it.  The familiar story, we know it.  But what really was happening there?

What was really happening there?

Jesus was invited to a wedding feast.  He was not a religious stuck-in-the-mud, you know, kind of guy that had a long face and didn’t enjoy being in people’s homes or enjoy being at a wedding.  He went!

Some scholars say it may have been one of Mary’s in-laws that was getting married, so she was there as kind of a hostess.  And she saw that the wine was missing.  So she went over to Jesus, who, by the way, brought some uninvited guests.

You ever been to one of those parties where somebody brings five extra people with them that you weren’t planning?  We’re not saying that they drank the wine and made it go bad or made it go away, but they were out of wine.  Probably other people brought extra guests.

They were in need.  And there was Mary.  She saw that because, perhaps, she was kind of the hostess of the day.  So she went over to Jesus.

“Son, they have no wine.”

Language of the day

Now the response many of us will say is, “Wow.  I wouldn’t treat my mother like that.”

“Woman, what does your concern have to do with me?”

We always have to go back to the language of the day.  Many scholars say that language— “woman, what does your concern have to do with me”— basically says “Mom, I’ll take care of it.”

I’ll take care of it.

Not the way she thought or not the way other people were taught.  “Well, you have to go down to the grocery store or to the wine store and get some more.”  You know, all those kinds of things.  How did that ever happen?  But, remember, Jesus came to do the will of the Father.  And that’s why he said, “My hour has not come yet, but don’t worry.”

Fulfilling God’s will

And so he just took the simple jars of water— six jars, thirty gallons each— and changed water into wine.  A simple gesture to take care of people’s needs so that the party could continue.  But look at the relationship of Mary and Jesus.

Mary depended on Jesus.  Jesus depended on his Father so that this miracle could happen.  But, in other parties, he said, “My hour has not yet come.”  In other words: “It’s not time for me to do that first miracle.”

The hour that Jesus is speaking of is the hour on the cross.  That was the miracle of miracles.  That’s why he came.  That’s why the Father sent him.  That’s what he was anticipating.  That’s why, whenever he did a miracle, he said “don’t tell people” because that’s what [they were] waiting for— redemption.  But Jesus was so in tune with his Father and so in tune with his mother that he did what was needed at the time.

This happened, friends, at a wedding.

So many times today I think people— we’ve— lost a sense of the dignity and the sacredness of a wedding feast in the Church.  Jesus went to a great wedding feast where everyone participated, where it was part of his faith.  He went there.  But the other beautiful thing was that it was at somebody’s home.

You know, when people think of miracles, they’re always looking for some big bash, some big splash somewhere.  This was at somebody’s home!  Something that was needed right there in front of them, something simple.  And it was Jesus responding in that simple way in simple people’s lives to bring about a simple solution to a need.

Living the gospel

SPX11616-103And so what does all that say to us today?  How do we bring that gospel of two-thousand years ago into our own lives?

We all have needs.  We all get disappointed.  Things happen to us in a given day.  Things happened today.

Who do we rely upon?  To whom shall we go?

Remember when the people left Jesus after he transformed the bread.  He multiplied the loaves so that everyone could eat?  He said, “I am the bread of life.”

And people left!

So, to his disciples standing there, he said, “Will you leave me, too?”

And they said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

When things don’t go our way in life— we have a bad day— [or] when something tragic happens in our lives, to whom do we go?

Do we go and kneel down and offer our life to the Father, depending on him?  Or do we try to resolve every situation that we have the way we think it should be resolved?

If we do that, sisters and brothers, we close the door to Santo Niño.  We close the door [and] say, “We don’t need you.  I’ll take care of it.  I’ve got a computer.  I’ve got a TV.  I’ve got all these things.  I’ve got a car.  I’ll take care of it.”

But that’s not who we are.  That’s not who you are as men and women of faith.  Stand there and say, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words. You have the resolve for everything.”

God’s loving mercy

SPX11616-104Those stone jars, sisters and brothers, I think for this Year of Mercy represent the abundance of God’s mercy.

You know, [like] St. John, you can’t just [think], Okay, there’s six jars, thirty gallons each, one-hundred eighty gallons.  You can’t look at it that way because St. John always had a symbol [for] what [he] saw.

In this Year of Mercy, we can definitely see those six jars, water becoming now wine, richness.  Those represent God’s mercy coming to a difficult situation.

During this Year of Mercy, let us look at those jars and say, “That’s God’s merciful grace overflowing in my needs.”

Whatever happens to you today, tomorrow, the next day— let’s not limit it to this year but the rest of our lives— but [for] the rest of this year, make a resolve tonight.  Whatever happens today, whatever happens this year, depend on the grace of God.

Don’t try to solve it yourself.  Go to your knees.  Stand in front of the Lord and say, “Your will be done.”  Not just as a saying that your grandmother or mother taught you.  Say it from the depth of your heart.

“Your will be done.  I don’t understand.  I don’t know why this happened.  I don’t want this to happen.”

And, just as Jesus stood in front of that couple that needed something— it would’ve been a shame in the culture of the time to run out of wine— his abundant grace [will flow] over and [come] to [your] aid, [too].

And so, sisters and brothers, as we rededicate ourselves to Jesus Christ in the figure of Santo Niño, praying for all the needs of families in the Philippines and people throughout the world, let us do our part to be men and women of faith who love God so much that we depend not only on the technology of today but, first and foremost at the beginning of every morning, on God’s grace and loving mercy (Bishop Michael Mulvey; January 16, 2016; transcribed audio recording, edited).

Evening prayer to God by St. Macarius

O eternal God and Ruler of all creation, you have allowed me to reach this hour.  Forgive the sins I have committed this day by word, deed or thought. Purify me, O Lord, from every spiritual and physical stain.  Grant that I may rise from this sleep to glorify you by my deeds throughout my entire lifetime and that I be victorious over every spiritual and physical enemy.  Deliver me, O Lord, from all vain thoughts and from evil desires; for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.  Amen.

January 23, 2016

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

January 24, 2016

By turning your eyes on God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God.  Begin all your prayers in the presence of God (St. Francis de Sales).

January 27, 2016

Turn your eye to God’s will and see how he wills all the works of his mercy and justice in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  Then, with profound humility, accept, praise, and then bless this sovereign will, which is entirely holy, just, and beautiful (St. Francis de Sales, Roses Among Thorns).

January 30, 2016

“God gives each one of us sufficient grace ever to know his holy will and to do it fully” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).

June 1, 2016

We set forth our petitions before God not in order to make known to him our needs and desires, but rather so that we ourselves may realize that in these things it is necessary to turn to God for help (St. Thomas Aquinas).

June 11, 2016

“Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to his love, and the future to his providence” (St. Augustine).

November 18, 2016

Let us never lose courage or despair of God’s mercy.  We have only to humble ourselves before God in order to obtain grace to become all that we ought to be (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

November 21, 2016

Humility is the virtue of our Lord Jesus Christ, of his blessed Mother, and of the greatest saints.  It embraces all virtues and, where it is sincere, introduces them into the soul (St. Vincent de Paul).

November 28, 2016

We shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God; for, beholding his greatness, we realize our own littleness.  His purity shows us our foulness; and, by meditating upon his humility, we find how very far we are from being humble (St. Teresa of Ávila).

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Pdf file…  Child Jesus chaplet prayers

Links of interest…  Apostleship of the Sea…  Are your decisions born of fear or love…  Bringing back what is true & good…  Child Jesus: devotion / infancy & childhood / meditations / miracles (books) / photos / questions & answers / reverence / solemnity…  Diocese of Corpus Christi (office of the bishop – videos)…  Divine Child: about / devotion…  Forgiveness & contemplation in prayer…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / artifacts / chaplet / feast / history / league / novena / of good health (more) / petitions / prayers…  Office: about / breviary / liturgy of the hours / universalis…  Saintly former slave a model of mercy…  Practice of the presence of God…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about / chapel / history / miracles / origin / prayers / story (more)…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / feast (more) / history / homily / novena / origin / perpetual novena / song (YouTube)…  Signs & symbols (Mary McGlone, CSJprayer request app)…  South Texas Catholic…  St. Pius X: facebook / Santo Niño devotion / schedule of services / website…  Word to life: Sunday scripture readings (Official Catholic Directory – Catholic News Service)…  Year of Mercy makes sense only if you haven’t lost the sense of sin

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