Heartfelt traditions

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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 as well.

Happy anniversary, darling!

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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).

Sunday reflections from the OLPH bulletins

olph112616-141st: Hope…  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come (Matthew 24:42).

People who have had health issues or near-death experiences generally have a greater appreciation for each day being a gift from God.  The rest of us usually take for granted that we will be around tomorrow.  But when you start to look at each day as a gift, you realize all the little miracles that happen daily and grow in gratitude for all that we have been given (November 27, 2016).

olph12316-342nd: Love…  Therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 3:10).

Do you bear good fruit for Christ?  Or do you spend your time, talent, and treasure constantly acquiring more toys, clutter, and junk?  Our time, talent, and treasure are gifts that God has given us.  What we do with them is our gift back to God.  What gifts are you planning to give to the Lord during this upcoming Christmas season? (December 4, 2016).

olph121116-553rd: Joy…  You, too, must be patient.  Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:8).

Patience is… one of those things many of us struggle with.  We want things to go according to our plan and our schedule.  Any change brings anxiety and fear.  Through daily prayer we better align ourselves with God’s will and his plan, which is far better than anything we can come up with on our own (December 11, 2016).

olph121716-43a4th: Peace…  When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home (Matthew 1:24).

Putting our complete trust in the Lord without expecting anything in return.  Striving to put God first in all things and follow him wherever he may lead us.  As we prepare for the birth of our Lord, pray for the strength and courage to be a model of discipleship, just as Joseph was (December 18, 2016).

November 28, 2016

“Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of divine love growing in silence” (Caryll Houselander).

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 (Bishop 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).

This Christmas, when Christ comes, will he find a warm heart?  Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern (St. Teresa of Kolkata, Love: A Fruit Always in Season).

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).

December 5, 2016

“With faith I await this blessed day, on which you will receive the name of Jesus, the day on which you will be my Emmanuel, always with me, amid so many temptations and peril” (Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Advent).

December 9, 2016

Pope Francis reminds us again and again that we bring the Word to life each and every day in the way we reach out to others with the love and mercy of God, the way we bring the light of Christ to a world too often shrouded in clouds and darkness, and the way we show to others a face that mirrors the face of God (Diane M. Houdek, Franciscan Media, The Joy of Advent).

December 10, 2016

“Advent is a time for renewal… because God brings his forgiveness to us in the shape of his Son” (Catherine Doherty).

December 21, 2016

Mary sustains our journey toward Christmas, for she teaches us how to live this Advent season in expectation of the Lord.  For this time of Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord who will visit us all on the feast, but also… in our own heart.  The Lord is coming!  Let us wait for him! (Pope Francis).

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Links of interest…  Advent: announcing the coming / anticipation & hope / blessed & brokendaily prayers /  deeper meaning in Latin / four attitudes & comings of Christ / from fear to faithGaudete Sunday (not pink, rose) / history / how can this be / lift up your headsmaybe you’re doing it wrong / meditating on Mary & keeping me from being a slackerO antiphons (hope – retreat – soothing balm) / one who is to comeour hope not in this world / passion for the possible / pregnant with expectationspreparing our hearts / real meaning of Christmas lights / reorienting ourselves to a slower paceseason (forgotten repentance) / seven counter-cultural ways / song of trust & acceptance / St. Joseph’s teachings & kissing him / time: for greater silence & prayer & of waitingtradition / what is / when it’s not yet Christmas / wreath (about – history – prayers – symbolism) / yoke that is easy & light…  Awake from your sleep…  Difficult art of being present…  Enchanted faith…  Faith is not a philosophy, but an encounter with Jesus Christ…   Holy Communion nourishes your supernatural life... Homilies: Christ is the solutionlighting candles in the dark / recipe for readiness…  Make a resolution to start being brave…  OLPH: facebook / Mass timeswebsite…  Open to dreams…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals…  Reflections of family & faith…  “Rorate” Mass…  Seven endearing books to read to children at Christmastime…  Signs of salvation…  Six ways to tune out distraction & be more attentive…  Slouching toward Bethlehem…  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…  Gifts…  Letter to Santa…  Oh, happy day…  On being Christian…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Second looks…  Sweet Jesus…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Twelve candles…  Undeniable familiarity

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

For all time

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A church for all time, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) draws on its many resources, including the outdoor stations of the cross and the sweet Schoenstatt adoration chapel, to build community within God’s kingdom.

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

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Prayers

After the stations…  God, our heavenly father, we raise our minds and hearts to you in praise and thanksgiving.  Though weak and sinful, we wish to follow your only son, our Lord Jesus, on the way of the cross.  May your Holy Spirit help us use our savior’s strength effectively in our place in life.

We ask the special aid of our blessed Lady, ever virgin and mother, in following Christ and in making his way of the cross our way of life.  Amen.

Anima Christi…  Soul of Christ sanctify me.  Body of Christ heal me.  Blood of Christ drench me.  Water from the side of Christ wash me.  Passion of Christ strengthen me.

Good Jesus hear me.  In your wounds shelter me.  From turning away keep me.  From the evil one protect me.  At the hour of my death call me.  Into your presence lead me to praise you with all saints forever and ever.  Amen.

May 14, 2016

I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus; but, on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others.  And Jesus has this message for us: mercy.  I think— and I say it with humility— that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy (Pope Francis).

May 15, 2016

“One loving spirit sets another on fire” (St. Augustine).

May 20, 2016

“Jesus, crucified for me, with the nails of your love fasten my whole self to you”
(St. Bernardine of Siena).

June 30, 2016

“The glory of God is the human person fully alive” (Irenaeus of Lyons).

January 7, 2017

Look then on Jesus, the author and preserver of faith: In complete sinlessness he suffered at the hands of those who were his own and was numbered among the wicked.  As you drink the cup of the Lord Jesus… give thanks to the Lord, the giver of all blessings (St. Raymond of Peñafort).

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Links of interest…  Adoration: Blessed Sacrament prayers / St. John Chrysostom  (hourly) / Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle (hours & half-hours; Lasance, 1898)…  Disciples’ diary (Peter & Judas)…  OLPH: facebook / Mass times / website…  Pope Francis: daily reflections (more) / forgiveness / mercy / wisdom…   Stabat Mater: hymn / liturgical sequence / seven sorrows / more / YouTube (more)…  Sinner’s way of the cross…  Stations of the cross (YT) & prayers…  Ten lessons from the agony in the garden…  Triduum chant playlist…  Trusting in God completely & in uncertain times…  Via Crucis: Walking the passion with Jesus: one & two…  Way of Holy Week…  What Jesus saw from the cross

WP posts…  Call of service…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  Church time blues…  Full circle…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Making meaning…  Notre Dame revisited…  One prayer…  Picturing God…  Quiet prayer time…  Second looks…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sorrowful redemption…  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).

March 3, 2017

God, you are my strength and my song.  You are the reason for my joy.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and drive away the forces of discouragement and despair.  Jesus, I trust in you!  St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us! (Heidi Hess Saxton in Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta).

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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