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Monday Musing

It makes me so sad to say that I did not muse enough for a Monday musing today… So I will pose a question that I would ask you to pray about and ponder, maybe leaving your thoughts in the comments.

How do you think of the Eucharist? Something you get or something you give?

Saturday Song – Litany of the Saints

All Saints Day is coming up on Tuesday, November 1, so I am posting this video of the Litany of the Saints by John Becker. I love this version so much.

Of course I love the saints – the whole notion of a Communio sanctorum, that we as Catholic Christians treasure. So for our Saturday song this week, The Litany of the Saints.

The Saints Came Marching In… Snow and all! Plus book giveaway notice and Blog Tour Update for Lisa Hendey!

Thank you to one and all who braved the sleety snow of October (of October?!) to attend our Amazing God evening, Meeting the Saints, presented by yours truly. I am personally very grateful for all the attendance and support shown by this community. Your parish secretary tries to use her gifts of over-talkiness and for good in this way and I figure if my over-talky is about God, may all things be in order, thanks be to God! Or as my Jesuit priest friends say, AMDG!

The talk was a lot of fun to prepare and I dived head first into many great books that I am blessed to own or have access too. I drew heavily on two books written by Fr. James Martin, SJ – read more about him at one of the two Jesuit links from the prior paragraph – My Life With the Saints and his most recent work, Between Heaven and Mirth.  I highly recommend both volumes and hope to have a review of the latter published very soon!

Let me stop and offer a little color commentary, if we can take a minute for a story about My Life with the Saints.I  have purchased many copies of this book. They either get given as gifts or loaned out and never come back. Which is basically fine with me! It is like grace received and shared!

In any case, the other Jesuit mentioned in the links from the first paragraph is Paul Campbell, SJ. Fr. Paul is the Publisher at Loyola Press and a beloved online friend. Paul was going to be in Syracuse this summer and told me that he wanted to meet for lunch; I explained that there was no way that I could get to Syracuse or even halfway there… It was the day of our IC Parish Picnic, so I did not have the time.  No worries offered Paul, with all of his Irishy, Jesuity exuberance – I will come to you. And he did just that, drove all the way to Clifton Park to meet me for an early Sunday brunch. He came bearing a bag o’ books from Loyola Press, God bless him, and one of those books was another (thank you Jesus) copy of My Life With The Saints, which I was going to get another copy of anyway. Imagine my joy to find it. When I opened it to do some research for my talk, I realized that not only did I have a new copy, but I had one autographed by James Martin! God is very good.

In any case, I was grateful to have both volumes at my disposal for my research and recommendation. And thanks again for a fun evening, snow and all, with a very lively and inquisitive crowd!

A third book came my way late in the week and I wish I had had my hands on it earlier, but I did not. This fine book is called, A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey, Catholic author, new media queen and the force behind the Catholic Mom website! (I am a Catholic step-mom, does that count?!) This book is wonderful and Catholic mom or not, a great resource about saints along with some fine catechesis and activity.

Sound good? Well great – then I invite you to try to win a free copy, generously given to us for giveaway by the publisher, Ave Maria Press. How can you win? I will collect the names of everyone who leaves a comment on Pastoral Postings from midnight until 11:59pm on November 1, 2011 and draw a winner. This is an excellent book. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, which is All Saints Day, which is also the day that the “blog tour” for A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms will be here. Please learn a little  more about Lisa Hendey and her new book, come back and visit. And leave a comment, or two or three! You’ve got to be in it to win it!

In any event, those who came also got treated to a lovely prayer card. If you are ever in the market for holy cards or medals or other religious items, I cannot recommend Catholic Prayer Cards enough! They have an amazing selection, great prices and honestly – some of the nicest prayer cards that I have ever seen. You will find amazing and interesting saints, beautifully done and quite affordable. I discovered them in a “felix culpa” or happy accident recently and I am so delighted that I am connected with them. Please take a look – from household to parish to catechetical use, there is something for everyone on that site! (And delivery is super fast!) I hope that it is OK that I post some of their images so that you can get a sense of their work. (Sorry I am not that great at WordPress, so photo layout is questionable at best!)

Parting Question: Who is your favorite saint?

Meet The Saints, The Great Cloud of Unlikely Witnesses. An Amazing God Presentation

Ah, the great tradition of Catholic sainthood –  Communion of the Saints!  We are literally surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” as St. Paul tells us in Hebrews.

If you want to hear some thoughts about the saints and to meet some that you never imagined, come to an Amazing God presentation on this topic, presented by me. We will gather here at Immaculate Conception in Glenville, at 7pm on Thursday October 27 in the Flicker Room, in the Parish Center.  All are welcome!  Admission is free, non-perishable food or free will offerings are always welcomed with gratitude.

In the meantime – all you holy men and women, canonized and not canonized, in heaven, pray for us!

Monday Musing – Letter of the Law, Spirit of the Law

I read today’s Gospel from Luke and my breath caught in my throat…

“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”

Rules and law exist for a reason – they create order. However, there is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The spirit of the law? In the first reading, from Romans, St. Paul says:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Of course we need the law, but we need the Spirit too. The law and the not-law lead us into either rigidity or chaos. Jesus comes and makes manifest the great both/and of the Gospel. The law matters – yes! But should we not be healed, healed by Christ – because of the law? Imagine being completely “out of order” for 18 years, like the woman in the Gospel. The day you encounter Jesus, just happens to be the Sabbath – what tough luck. Maybe they can meet up tomorrow?

It is of course, ridiculous to think this – Jesus sees her, calls to her, heals her.

On. The. Sabbath.

As someone obsessed with balance – probably because of my own inability to stay balanced – I grow weary of those who are dug in about the law. I also grow weary of those who are dug into going far outside the law. No – not civil or criminal law – Church law.

I often find myself wondering if Jesus would be as painstakingly nitpicking with us, as some of His detractors were to him? I can’t imagine that he would be.

I’d like to believe that is the idea of letter of the law and spirit of the law – yes, the law matters, but without love, mercy and compassion it is as cold as stone tablets without life.

The word – the law – came to Moses from God, on cold stone tablets. Jesus is the Word and Law – brought to life.

I remember once when dealing with a canonical issue in my life, finding out the true meaning of the great both/and of letter and spirit. And that is what I think about when I hear this Gospel.

I am also acutely aware are set free with Jesus – can we accept that?

What about you? What do you think about the both/and? Can we accept our freedom and then share it with mercy and love?

Saturday Song – Salve Maria

As we continue our Marian month, I wanted to post this video of some Dominican sisters singing the Salve Maria. These nuns are in an enclosure in Estavayer-le-Lac, Switzerland, where they have lived and prayed for over 700 years!

In the early 90’s, I felt deeply called to a Dominican cloistered life and spent a lot of time at the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace, in Guilford, CT.  I loved being part of all the prayers of the daily office, sung by the nuns, but I most loved Compline, or Night Prayer. It was here that we would end the day with the Salve Maria and then the Great Silence would begin. It was a wonderful time in my life and it was how God led me to my real vocation, being lived out here and now. Thanks be to God!

Parish Anointing Mass – October 2011

Twice a year, in October and in May, our parish hosts an anointing (or healing) Mass. This mass is coordinated by Rachel Winters, our pastoral care coordinator. She works closely with her team of volunteers, who assist her with the homebound parishioners, hospital and nursing home visits. Another key component of this day is our Parish Nurses, headed by Betty Parks. The nurses are also vital to all visitation ministry. The nurses also coordinate all of the food for the luncheon that follows the mass.

I remember the first time that I ever attended one of these, in May of 2009. It was one of the most deeply moving liturgies that I had ever been to at the time. I have not missed one since then, and they continue to truly move – as well as heal and transform, all who are a part of this.

Sometimes people say that they’d like to go, but that they are “not sick.” I always say, do come! All are welcome and who could not use some healing?

Most of the attendees are elderly and/or infirm. I say and/or because many of our parish elderly are so vital and some people who are infirm are not so old. Again – all are welcome. Volunteers bring many people, small buses come from Glendale Home and Baptist Rehab. It is all very moving to see everyone arrive. The gathering space is alive with greeters and people, generally Jennie Grecco and her daughter Darlene Polsinelli Grecco, taking care of the name tags. Father Jerry is there, saying hello and welcoming people and Rachel seems to be in several places at once making sure everyone is welcomed and that all things are in place. Most faces are familiar, but there are new ones also. It is so beautiful to behold.

People are seated with an empty pew in between each occupied pew. When it is time for the anointing with oil, Father Jerry (and this time with Fr. Leo Markert, but it could be Father Tom Connery, our retired pastor or Fr. John Hunter who assist) and the other priest make their way from one person to another, anointing their forehead and then their palms. I also remember the first time that I received this… It is hard to find the words, but the Spirit was so profound – that I can tell you.

You see each person blessed – well I see a lot as I am taking the photos. It is so moving and really remarkable to behold. God is so good and so very present! For example, this time around, I was able to take this picture of Father Jerry anointing our prior pastoral care coordinator, Sister Betty Hunter. Sister Betty – although infirm herself – is still ministering to others at her home at Teresian House. With her we see Ed and Ann Grega, who always go pick her up and bring her to the mass. We all take care of each other, we all meet Christ in one another and we are Christ for one another.

Again, when it is time for communion, the priests, this time with cup ministers, make their way from pew to pew, so that those who have a hard time moving, can just be where they are.  I am always struck by the imagery of Christ as servant as I watch the priests come to each person in each pew.

When the liturgy ends we all make our way over to the parish center to enjoy refreshment together at the lunch table. We have sandwiches and salads followed by cake and ice cream. It is always a joyful social event that follows the beautiful mass.

We are very blessed to have such a strong visitation and healing ministry at Immaculate Conception. If you can ever attend one of these, I urge you to do so. You will be truly blessed to be there!

Here are some other photos from Monday’s Mass…

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Monday Musing – New Media Musing

This blog, like all of my other internet ministry, is a real labor of love. My belief in the power of the internet as a powerful place of evangelization, catechesis and community building is deeply rooted. In my experience, there is so much to be learned and so much to be shared.

Our Roman Catholic faith is never about just quiet time with Jesus for me. Oh yes – quiet time with Jesus is essential and frankly, a potential negative about the internet. Perhaps we all lack silence and contemplation time, even when we think we are having some of it.

In any case, I am prompted to write this for today as I consider this ministry through prayer and work and as a result of a book that I am reading.

The book is called “The Church and the New Media” by Brandon Vogt. In full disclosure, I received this book for review some time ago and began to read it. In the craziness of the fall, I lost track of it and then could not find it. Well it did (thank you God and St. Anthony) eventually turn up again – and wouldn’t you know, at the right moment? This book is striking me so powerfully right now, that the Spirit knew that this would be the time for me to be open to the transformation that it brings.

There is so much good work to be done through this new media and I personally have been transformed by such work. When we are transformed – something that happens over and over again if we allow cooperate with God – Jesus really commands us to transform others. The last lines of the Gospel According to Matthew, chapter 28.

When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.  Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

It is not about just staying with ourselves in our Catholic communities, and I don’t think it is about sitting alone in the quiet of the sanctuary. It is about those elements being a part of it, but not all of it. How can we transform the world if we are not in the world?

This community is so supportive of this work, but I hope we can all grasp hands and do this work together.

Back to Brandon’s book again, I am so moved by this collection of essays by contemporary Catholics addressing how online presence has transformed them – and how they continue to work to transform the world through Christ.  I have not finished the book and hope to publish a review when I do. I won’t say much more than I have already but I do urge you to read this important volume.

And as you read and consider the power of the internet, for both good and evil, I ask you to join the conversation at the blog. Please send me any thoughts or ideas you have, if you want me to write about a particular matter, I will attempt to do so and if you wish to write a guest post – let’s talk and see what we can do.

Let us see what we can do together. We are formed and transformed in community – and this community is such a powerful one. Let us go forth and make disciples of all nations, both within and outside of all of our boundaries.

Here is the video trailer for Brandon’s book – have a look, it is less than two minutes long, but like the book itself, in brevity is quite powerful.

Saturday Song – Nada Te Turbe on the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

Today is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Carmelite sister and Doctor of the Church. She was quite a remarkable woman and someone who truly lived in ways that changed the our Church. She faced the Inquisition and was actually the first woman designated as a Doctor.

One of her most famous utterings was “nada te turbe,” which means, let nothing disturb you and was at the heart of her remarkable faith and works – and ultimately pointed to God. That is easier said than done, but that is our call to faith, is it not? It is our reminder that Jesus reconciles all things and that all will be well.

The text reads (the image above shows it in Teresa’s own writing):

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

The Heart of Christ – An Amazing God presentation by Fr. Bob Longobucco

All are welcome to the Heart of Christ, an Amazing God presentation, offered by Fr. Bob Longobucco, here at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Saratoga Road, Glenville, NY, tonight at 7 pm. The presentation will be in the Parish Center, in the Flicker Room. (Click here for info on all of our Amazing God efforts at IC!)

“The Heart of Christ” is the second-year theme of this three year evangelization program and is focused on Year two: The Heart of Christ – and is focused “on the person and the work of Jesus as the ultimate gift of God’s love to the world.”

Fr. Bob Longobucco is a well-known priest and pastor of St. Helen’s in Niskayuna, NY.  He blogs occasionally at Bobblogolucco.” He is also part of the diocesan Amazing God team. If you know Father Bob at all, you know that he laughs often and loudly and lives his vocation with a remarkable sense of joy.  He is very involved with the local Catholic Worker movement and Emmaus House.

We hope that you will join us for what promises to be a great presentation!

Upcoming events for Amazing God Glenville include:

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn (your humble blogger!) on  Meeting the Saints: The Great Cloud of Unlikely Witnesses – October 27

Fr. Tom Berardi on Native American Spirituality – November 3


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