Monday, April 30, 2012

Sealed Forever

There is nothing like Confirmation in this world, and perhaps it's because the Sacrament is otherworldly. Yesterday we had the privilege of seeing my 17-year-old son confirmed with his classmates at St. Lawrence Seminary High School.  To see those 21 young men receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit was not only a visible sign of their faith, but a magnificent spiritual rekindling of our own.

Of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, Confirmation is probably my favorite, if we are allowed a favorite!  And it is all about personal choice! No one is forced to receive the Holy Spirit in this special way.   The Sacrament of Confirmation is a sacrament of deep spiritual maturity. It enriches the soul of the person with an abundance of graces. It is also the sacrament that calls recipients to witness courageously the gift of faith by word and, especially, by the example of their lives.

 The Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church states that Catholics “are more perfectly bound to the Church by the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and deed, as true witnesses of Christ”

This sacrament brings us back to the great Pentecost event when the disciples were huddled in the upper room and the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had promised them, came upon them in the form of a mighty wind and tongues of fire. The disciples gathered there had been commanded by Jesus to take the good news of his death and resurrection to the ends of the earth. Yet those gathered there, up to that point, lacked a real understanding of what Jesus’ life and death fully meant. But at the Last Supper Jesus assured them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and teach them all they needed to know. They would be strengthened to go everywhere proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior. Pentecost was the moment of their confirmation.

This is the same gift presented in the Sacrament of Confirmation today!

The basic effects of Confirmation are a deeper  relationship with God; a closer unification with Christ and a reminder that each sacrament we receive is an encounter with Jesus himself. Confirmation increases in each person the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord; it strengthens our bond to the Church; and gives us strength to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. 

If we consider what strengths we need to live our Christian, Catholic lives in our present society and to make moral decisions in the face of serious temptation, it is easy to see how we need wisdom and strength. No matter what our vocation, married, religious, priesthood or single, we need the strength of the Spirit in our lives.

May God bless our new confirmants and  congratulations to my son Erin Patrick Joan of Arc!

Gothic chasuble wins princess' favor

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It took 10 yards of Scarlet Dupioni silk, 19,000 sequins, more than 1 million stitches and four months to design and create a gothic chasuble worthy of the scrutiny of a princess.p.9gaspard_monacoLast year, the company won second place in an international contest sponsored by the Embassy of Monaco to design a chasuble in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Cathedral of Monaco. The winning design is pictured at left. (Submitted photo courtesy Gaspard, Inc.)
For Jason Gaspard of the Brookfield-based religious vestment company, Gaspard Inc., the hard work and attention to detail was worth it, as his chasuble won second place in the international contest to design the centennial chasuble under the Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Caroline of Hanover last year.
In January 2010, Gaspard, along with others in the industry, received the invitation from the Embassy of Monaco in Washington, D.C., to design the chasuble in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Cathedral of Monaco.
“This was the first chasuble contest that Gaspard has entered,” said Jason, whose company has been serving the church internationally since 1954. The three finalists were chosen by a jury presided over by Princess Caroline of Hanover. “There were 18 designers from around the world competing for this award, and we were pleasantly surprised to win second place.”
Gaspard often designs custom pieces among their wide variety of religious vestments, paraments, custom banners and other religious garments, including a wide variety of embroidered symbolism to enhance their customers’ worship needs. This design tapped into the talents of Jason and the six-person design team to create a chasuble worthy of royalty.
“We designed the chasuble digitally; however, each stitch was manually placed in order to achieve the finished results,” said Jason. “We designed it to take into account the season in which the chasuble would be presented.

More Info

To schedule a tour of Gaspard, 200 N. Janacek Road, Brookfield, call (262) 784-6800 or (800) 784-6868. The online showroom is also available on the company’s website,
The designers chose scarlet material as a reminder of the blood Christ shed. The flowers that encircle the chasuble and fill the design are dogwood flowers, symbolic of Christ’s crown of thorns.”
While there was no monetary award for their accomplishment, the recognition was prize enough, admitted Jason, who is proud of his design team and the effort that went into creating the chasuble.
“When we entered, we had our doubts that we would win,” he said. “We took a chance by investing as much time as we did, but I felt confident that our work would stand up among the well-known quality of the European makers. Even so, I was still surprised to learn that we had been awarded second place. We are thrilled, and our reward was to have our winning chasuble on display at the Cathedral of Monaco until the end of May 2011, and remain there for use at the cathedral.”
Founded in 1954 by Jason’s father, Robert Gaspard, the company is run by Jason and his wife JoAnn. As one of the nation’s leading vestment manufacturers, Gaspard’s handcrafted items are sold worldwide through their catalog and website, Since receiving the award, the company has enjoyed a surge in business, as well as interest from potential European customers.
p.9JC2_1317Consuelo Delgado works on a design in the workroom of the Brookfield-based religious vestment company, Gaspard, Inc., on Thursday, April 19. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)“Due to the excitement the award has created, Gaspard is offering this exact chasuble in our 2011-2012 catalogue,” said Jason. “In addition, we have a staff of 32 members and this award has really increased the morale of the entire staff. Not only has Gaspard as a company gained recognition, but it has also brought recognition to our staff for their hard work, dedication, and talent that are not often seen first hand.”
The increased business has also been a welcomed boost to their latest venture, the The Giving Tree. Opened in 2009, the The Giving Tree is located next door to the Gaspard facility and features inspirational gifts and religious items.
“It is perfect for recognizing everyday events and special occasions,” said Jason. “We carry a wonderful selection of unique jewelry, rosaries and collectibles like Willow Tree and Fontanini. We welcome visitors to the shop, or to view our gifts online at
As one of few domestic designers of religious vestments, Gaspard welcomes visitors to tour the Gaspard facility to see designers at work.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spiritual Garage Sale

We have all heard it when we are struggling with an issue. Well meaning and the not so well meaning people will tell you that "It is always darkest before the dawn"--it rolls off their tongue without thought, and almost as if they are privy to some secret knowledge of your future. The phrase comes across as trite; and after dealing with so many years of dark and painful days, I had grown weary of that phrase. You could say I have held a resentment to those seven words!

However, through the suffering, through my anger, through the seemingly thoughtless comments of others, I have found an abundance of miracles and purging of those unneeded items in my spiritual garage.

Do I really need to worry about issues that are beyond my control, or leave them neatly packaged in a Ziploc bag?
Should I keep those regrets or put them out on a table to get rid of?
What about my emotional pain? Do I really need that or can I give it away?
Can my anger be used for something positive? If not, shall I box that up as well?

Looking around my heart, I find so many things that need a spring cleaning and should be boxed and labeled with unworn clothing, unused our outdated household goods and put out for sale. However, those intangible items are such that I wouldn't want to sell them or give them away. There is one customer, however, who is willing to take everything and requires no hauling charges.

Jesus, who so freely gave His life for my sinfulness is ready to take it all--every box, every bag, every encumbrance and remove it from my life. All I have to do is ask.

If I am tempted to hold on to these items in fear that I will be nothing without them, all I have to do is look outside.

The verdant carpet of green after a spring rain, the butterflies flitting on the emerging daffodils that come up without any assistance from me, a sweet kiss from my dog in the morning, birds chirping in our feeders, and  friends who call unexpectedly to see how we are doing are all signs of light.

 Light abounds--there is no darkness. We may feel dark, but if we carry the light of Jesus within us, no darkness can overcome us. It is His light that offers my freedom, and increases my sense of gratitude for each new day.

My perspective is slowly changing and perhaps that is part of God's overall plan for us with this period of desert and suffering. Perhaps I wasn't appreciative enough. Perhaps I took God's gracious bounty for granted. Perhaps I failed to thank Him for His most intimate love and care.

Through losing nearly everything, I have realized just how rich and blessed we are-we have everything! We have our Faith, enough food to eat, we have heat and electricity, our marriage has not only survived through this crisis, but thrived, and we have learned who our friends truly are.

I am learning day by day to be grateful for a new dawn, for my husband waking up next to me, for the aroma of fresh coffee,  for the warmth of the sun, the giggles of my grandchildren, and the Light that is thrusting out the darkness!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sisters unveil sacred story of creation

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It’s sweet. It’s nutritious. It was the tasty result of a class offered by Sunseed Eco-Education Ministries to make organic jam with half the sugar. The jam making seminar, held last fall, DSC_0099School Sister of Notre Dame Mary Beck sorts the jars of jam she made during a Jam & Jelly Making workshop last fall at Sunseed Eco-Education Ministries in Mount Calvary. During the Oct. 15 workshop, Sr. Mary instructed participants in organic jam and jelly making using half the usual amount of sugar. More photos from the workshop can be viewed and purchased at (Catholic Herald photo by Sam Arendt)was among a number of educational courses offered to reinforce an appreciation for the beauty and fragility of the Earth, and garner a sense of responsibility for the effects humans have on the planet.  A growing number of sisters in the Milwaukee Archdiocese are rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty to safeguard the land on which they live, tending to animals, growing organic food and preserving what they grow. The mission of Sunseed Eco-Education Ministries is to unveil the sacred story of creation and include it in their daily lives, sharing it with those who wish to find the spirituality inherent within all of creation.
According to Sunseed director, School Sister of Notre Dame Suzanne Moynihan, the sisters are committed to transformative change through holistic education, empowering humans to live on earth in a mutually enhancing way.
“As School Sisters of Notre Dame, rooted in contemplation, we believe the world can be changed through the transformation of persons,” she said. “Basically, we empower people to experience the miraculous beauty of creation while being sensitized to its fragility.”
Sunseed developed after School Sister of Notre Dame Mary Ann Smka was asked in 2000 to become the local leader at Mount Carmel Convent in Mount Calvary. Through the wide-open space, wildlife, fresh air and lush land, she felt the longing of the land to give life.

For more information, contact:

Sr. Suzanne Moynihan, director Sunseed Eco-Education Ministries
13105 Watertown Plank Road
Elm Grove, Wis., 53122-2291
by email or calling
(262) 787-1011

See “Happenings,” Page 15, for several Earth Day observances, including some hosted by religious women.
“Because she knew (School Sister of Notre Dame) Sr. Mary Beck also had a farm background and could assist her in developing the land, Mary Ann invited Mary to come to Mount Calvary,” said Sr. Suzanne. “The two of them developed organic gardens featuring a wide variety of vegetables and flowers. In addition, they also restored a prairie on the property, welcomed a local beekeeper to cultivate his bees there, tended the oak savanna, coaxed along an old apple orchard and added a variety of fruit trees, and also began raising chickens and pigs.” After working the land for five years, the two sisters invited other sisters, including Sr. Suzanne of the Milwaukee province, to plan a summer experience with them at Mount Calvary. Two reflective retreats, called “The Immersion Program,” became the foundation for the current Sunseed Eco-Education Center, which opened in January 2008.
As she was nearing retirement as a second grade teacher in 2006, Sr. Suzanne felt called to continue the ministry of earth spirituality, but was uncertain what path to take. Since 1985, she had been involved in the SSND Milwaukee Province Global Education Office and researched topics associated with justice, peace and integrity of creation.
“I knew I wanted to continue advocacy in the area of ecology, a call which was later deepened in me to focus on the spirituality inherent within all of creation. I made this known to our leadership who then invited me to go to Mount Calvary and help begin Sunseed,” she said. “I was also a strong influence in shaping the education component of the Sunseed program in
contradistinction to the farming aspect.”
While the Mount Calvary Sunseed site will close in June, the Elm Grove site is growing in programming, volunteers and memberships.
Courses are available for all ages, including elementary school age to seasoned adults, religious communities, NAMA spiritual directors, homeschooling groups, and more. A few of the sessions included:
  • The Birds and the Bees: How to Begin a Bluebird Path and a Beehive
  • The Great Lakes Compact
  • Seeing the Stars for the First Time
  • Native American History and Culture
  • The Labyrinth – A Path Within: A Day of Reflection
  • The Web of Life
  • Awakening the Dreamer
  • Rachel Carson and the Art of Wonder
  • Living the Vows in a Planetary Context (for congregations of women religious)

    Grant awarded to Franciscans

    ST. FRANCIS — The Land Use Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi was recently awarded a climate grant from Freshwater Future.
    The $3,500 grant will be used to develop a climate adaptive land use management plan for the motherhouse complex, 3221 S. Lake Drive, home of the congregation since 1849.
    The plan will incorporate climate resiliency, sustainability and best practice models, and will serve as a community teaching tool, according to an April 16 press release from the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi.
    The mission of the congregation’s Land Use Committee is to restore the property to a more mindful, spiritual and natural state that will serve as a model for sustainable urban land use and leave a legacy of best practices so that future generations will be less vulnerable to changes likely to occur due to climate change, according to the release.
    “We were so pleased to see the phenomenal efforts citizens across the Great Lakes region are expending to protect and restore their local rivers, lakes and wetlands,” said Jill Ryan, executive director of Freshwater Future, in the release.
    “A wide array of projects to help Great Lakes communities adapt to the impacts of climate change were proposed, and that of the Land Use Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi rose to the top,” she added.
    Freshwater Future builds the environmental community in the Great Lakes region to protect and restore water quality in the basin by providing financial and technical assistance, and communication and network support to citizens and grassroots watershed groups.
  • Global Climate Change
  • Bread-making
  • Jams and Jellies
  • How To Do Sauerkraut
  • Square Foot Gardening
  • Kid’s Day on the Farm; Garden Plot to Kitchen Pot
  • On-site Classroom Experiences for Children and Youth
  • Programs for special days including Summer/Winter Solstice; World Water Day; World Environment Day; Earth Day; Dandelion Festival
  • A Mindfulness/Meditation Course
“Our participants grew in number from 600 in our full first year to nearly 1,500 the next year,” said Sr. Suzanne. “Many experiences involved students from Notre Dame Middle School and Tyme Out, a center for young people also begun by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. We are confident that as word travels about our new location that our sessions will grow in Elm Grove as well.”
Through caring for the Earth and educating others on the sacredness of creation, Sunseed Eco-Education Ministries lives out the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the mission of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
“To each of us at this moment of salvation history, the words of Christ ring clear: ‘As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world…. May they be one in us … so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.’ We are called and sent,” said Sr. Suzanne, adding, “The mission of Christ toward unity is lived through Sunseed because of our emphasis on the oneness of all creation on a spiritual as well as a physical plane.”
Sunseed advocates that each person becomes more aware of our oneness of all of creation and therefore the choices made regarding the ways in which food, consumerism, home life, and transportation have on the life forces of the planet.
“Our mentor and teacher, Passionist priest (Fr.) Thomas Berry says, ‘What happens to the outer world happens to the inner world. If the outer world is diminished in its grandeur then the emotional, imaginative, intellectual, and spiritual life of the human is diminished or extinguished,’” said Sr. Suzanne.
Without a firm grounding in the authentic Christian tradition and the recognition that we are all to live on the mission of Christ, there is no meaning to life and no real purpose for being, explained Sr. Suzanne.
“What we wish to accomplish, even that desire, is born of the Christ,” she said. “It is what empowers us. Who we are, what we do is an expression of that mission, of his oneness with the Divine Energy, of the oneness he came to restore through a new social order, a new mindset, a new paradigm.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lost and Found by Geneen Roth

In almost a nanosecond it was all gone.
Thirty years of saving, of acting responsibly and doing the right thing—gone in the blink of an eye.
In her book Lost and Found, Geneen Roth realized that she and her husband became one of the many victims of Bernie Madoff, investing nearly $1 million with the con man, who is now serving a 150-year prison sentence for running an estimated $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
A catastrophic loss like this can take down the sturdiest and most stalwart men or women.
And for many of Madoff's victims, the emotional damage may well be irreparable.
In her book, Roth provides a confidential view at how she found her way to a healthy relationship with money by using the skills she developed battling a compulsive eating disorder.
Honest and forthright, she admitted that in many ways, she helped Madoff victimize her because she was oblivious about her finances much like the way she devoured food without thought.
Still in shock, she found momentary solace through crying, feeling sorry for herself and shopping. It wasn’t until she almost purchased a $1000 pair of glasses that she was jolted into reality and learned that overspending or overeating was not the answer to the problem.
The book’s message is that you won't develop better financial habits -- or eating habits -- until you address what's driving your decisions to do what you know isn't good for you. She believes people don't do the work to address their issues -- addiction to shopping or overspending, or fear of anything financial -- because it's comfortable and easier to stay in their misery than the effort it takes to become more aware.
In the book, she unveils her personal revelation, “My relationship to money was no different from my relationship to food, to love, to fabulous sweaters: Because I was never aware of what I already had, I never felt as if I had enough. I was always focused on the bite that was yet to come, not the one in my mouth. I was focused on the way my husband wasn't perfect, not the way he was. And on the jacket I saw in the window, not the one in my closet that I hadn't worn for a year."
Her statement is similar to one from Ecclesiastes 5:10, "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income.” King Solomon, remarks that chasing appetites is often like chasing smoke: once you grab it, it evaporates. We never become fully satisfied by what we consume or overconsume.

Lost and Found is a well written, fast-paced book. This is a great initiation to Roth's life and work, and also a helpful resource for those who want to gain control over their addiction to consumption.
"This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own."
You can read more about this book here BlogHer Book Club Lost and Found

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Vigil

As a child and young adult, the lengthy Easter Vigil brought awe, wonder and hope to my heart--and as I have grown into a middle aged woman, that awe and wonder has only increased. Thanks be to God!

My prayers and welcoming accompany all those who are preparing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church this night, especially my good friend "K," congratulations!


The Easter Vigil

The Easter Vigil is the high point of the Easter triduum celebrating the passion and resurrection of Jesus. With a rich display of symbols, rites and readings, the church in worship expresses her faith in the mystery that brings her into being.

Light conquers darkness

The vigil opens with a service of light. Like the Jewish Passover, our Easter celebration coincides with the beginning of spring, when the sun offers new warmth and earth is ready to flower again. Our words “lent” (from the Middle-English word for spring, “lengthening days”) and “Easter” (possibly Germanic or Anglo-Saxon in origin, signifying “the east”, “the rising sun”) point to the long tradition of seeing this holy mystery through signs of the natural world.

The lighting of the fire and the Easter candle go back to rites that long preceded Christianity. The candle, carried with loving reverence and lyrically praised in word and song, is a sign of Christ, “the light of the world,” and celebrates the victory of light over darkness that humanity has ever longed for.

God’s love endures forever

A series of readings recalls the great interventions of God in history, from creation to the the redemption of Israel from Egypt, and ends with the story of Jesus’ resurrection. The great “alleluia” proclaims with quiet joy the triumph of God’s Son. Those preparing for Batpism then receive the sacraments of initiation. The blessed water sprinkled over others signifies the blessing of new life.
Rejoice! This night says as it brings before us the deepest symbols of our hopes and fears. The darkness, sign of evil and death, has been overcome by light. A lamp, a candle has been lit; a fire is enkindled in our hearts; a nourishing water flows through our lives; a baptism destroys what is unclean and brings to life again.

Rejoice! this night says to all creation. The Word who made all things, as a new Adam, freshly proclaims God’s promise of life. All creation celebrates God’s love.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Racine man 'quite Catholic' before he knew it

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You could say God was calling Randy Sanders to the Catholic faith long before he realized it.randysanders2Randy Sanders’ commitment to the Catholic faith has deepened the couple’s faith, according to his wife, Laura Sanders. Pictured above, the couple belong to St. Rita Parish, Racine. Laura will serve as her husband’s sponsor when he formally enters the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil on Saturday. (Submitted photo courtesy the Sanders family)
The 58-year-old Racine resident grew up in the Lutheran faith, even planning to become a Lutheran minister at one time, but was so impressed by the way Catholic family members and friends treated him after the death of his first wife, Barb, in 1997, that he instantly felt like part of the family.
“When she died, the Catholic mothers’ group that Barb’s mom, Evelyn Jorgenson, was a member of at St. Rita Parish in Racine, all came to the funeral at Emmaus Lutheran Church, as well as (Augustinian) Fr. Joseph Stobba, who was the pastor at the time,” said Randy. “It meant a lot to me that they all came and showed such support.”
The couple had two children, Josh and Katie, now 32 and 28 respectively. Both are married and Randy has two granddaughters.
A couple of years later, Randy met Laura Raymond, also a member of St. Rita Church. The two of them became friends when Sanders coached Katie and Laura’s daughter Becky on a volleyball team.
Easy friendship forms
“It was a nice, comfortable and an easy friendship – everything that a friendship should be,” he said. “She watched from the bleachers; we talked a lot and got along well.”
The two lost touch for a couple of years until Randy was looking to purchase a new home that ended up being about a half mile near his daughter’s home. One afternoon, he took his dog for a walk, and he ran into Laura, who he thought had relocated to Texas. Both were surprised to learn that they now lived in the same neighborhood. The two walked for two and a half hours, catching up and reminiscing.
A few long walks later, the couple knew they were meant to be together, and were married in January 2009. One of the first times Randy met his future mother-in-law, Marie, he was startled by what she said to him.
“She said, ‘Do you remember me? I was active in the Catholic mothers’ group and I came to Barb’s funeral,’” he said. “I had no idea that both of my mothers-in-law knew each other until that day. It was another clue that God’s finger was guiding us along.”
For a while, Randy alternated between Emmaus and St. Rita. He had served as a two-term president of his congregation, and when his time was up, he decided to step away from his church and attend regularly with Laura, who was very involved as a member of the parish council at St. Rita Parish.
“I was going to St. Rita more and more and was appreciating the traditions, the faith experiences and the welcoming atmosphere,” he said. “But I think the thing that made it easiest for me was talking to (Augustinian) Fr. Kevin (Mullins) and seeing all of the people and my relatives who went there, reconnecting and getting re-energized for the faith.”
RCIA a difficult commitment
Randy decided to enter the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program, a difficult commitment considering his schedule as a full-time personal trainer and swim instructor at the YMCA, as well as coaching volleyball on the weekends.
“The transition (to Catholicism) was not difficult for me because much of it was similar to what Laura and I had learned through the pre-Cana classes, and even Fr. Joseph had told me then that I was quite Catholic,” he said.  “There were no lightening bolts that led me to want to join the Catholic Church, but it was an evolution – a really nice evolution.”
While Laura, Randy’s sponsor, was thrilled at his decision to become fully integrated into the Catholic faith, she cautioned him not to do it because of her, that it should be his decision alone.
“Maybe it was natural for him, but for me, I thought he was making a big decision, so I guess I was a little surprised that he wanted to do this,” she said. “If he never wanted to make the change, I would be totally happy and comfortable with that. But he thought about it and made the choice, so it was totally his decision.”
Shared values drew couple together
Their shared beliefs initially attracted Laura to him.
“He has always been a spiritual man, and the faith we share has helped us grow together as a couple,” she said. “Now, seeing him make this commitment to the Catholic faith has deepened my faith and ours together as a couple. He has always been someone incredibly special and important to me. I think this is an exciting time in his life and I am glad it gives us a new way to practice our faith more closely together.”
For Marie Raymond, a long-time member of St. Rita, having her son-in-law join the church is another extension of his strong faith.
“I am happy to have him as a member of my family, and think it’s wonderful that he is becoming a member of our faith family,” she said.
When Fr. Mullins began getting to know Randy, he witnessed his internal struggle as he remained in the pew, while Laura and the other parishioners went to receive Communion.
“He has been part of this community with the association of his first wife being the daughter of a longstanding member of the parish community and then, marrying Laura, who also has a long-standing connection to the faith,” he explained. “When he could not fully participate in the Mass, it was difficult for him, yet it was also difficult for him to walk away from the Lutheran tradition.”
Faiths are similar
From the beginning, Randy noticed the many similarities between the Lutheran beliefs and those of Roman Catholics, but Fr. Mullins was quick to remind him of an important fact.
“I always told him, that despite the similarities, we were there first,” he said, laughing. “I think though, that Randy found the journey much easier than some who are just beginning to learn about faith and that is a good thing in that regard.”
The two often bantered, joking about the number of sacraments in the Lutheran faith as opposed to Catholicism, and the similarities between the two liturgies. The camaraderie between the two seemed to incite a strong desire to learn more about the church, sacraments, traditions and Stations of the Cross.
“I met Greg Petral, who is going through the deacon program, and asked him to explain to me from a lay person’s view a few things and one of them was learning about the Stations of the Cross,” he said. “He took me through the Stations and I just learned how beautiful it is. Things like that are so welcoming and warm and I love the tradition.”
While it was difficult for Randy to be part of the church for so many years, and yet, still set apart from the family, Fr. Mullins believes that Randy’s life will be much richer when he can fully participate and receive the Eucharist.
“He has really gone full circle and we are looking forward to him being a full member of the family,” he said.
Randy said he is looking forward to the Easter Vigil when he can fully participate in the sacraments with his wife for the first time.
“I am very excited as I won’t have to sit in the pews during Communion,” he said. “And I really want to be involved in the parish – this is something I wasn’t able to do before. It is all very beautiful and I am very happy to be entering the church during the Easter season.”

Were you there...

when they crucified Our Lord?

Good Friday

The Good Friday rites center around the reading of the Passion of Jesus. With simple dignity that story is retold, followed by prayers for the entire world, for this powerful mystery brings blessings to the world. According to ancient tradition, an image or relic of the cross is venerated this day, and the sacrament of Christ’s love for his church is received. It is a day of fasting and quiet mourning.

It is a day to remember the death of Jesus.  Mass is not celebrated on this day or before the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. The celebration of the Lord's passion and death takes place in the afternoon. There are three parts to the liturgy of the day: the Liturgy of the Word; the Veneration of the Cross; and Holy Communion with Hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Triduum

Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy. (CCC)

The Easter triduum, marking the days of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, is the most important time of the church year. It begins with the evening Mass of Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes on Easter Sunday evening.

Prepared by the days of Lent, Christians celebrate on these holiest of days the saving work God has accomplished in Christ.

From the events remembered these days, so sorrowful and so joyful, the church learns the deepest lessons. In rites and words the mysteries of Jesus’ final hours are with us again, his passion, his cruel suffering, his rising from the dead. And we discover the answer to age old questions: Does God love us? Is God merciful? Does God care for us?

We have only to look and learn from Jesus Christ.

These are days for fixing our eyes on the holy mystery of his cross and filling our ears with the words of his gospel. Nowhere else does God’s love appear so vividly. In the love Christ showed for a sinful world we find the beginning of our church, the source of our sacraments, the key to understanding the human story, and our hope for eternal life.

Holy Thursday

The Easter Triduum begins with Mass on Holy Thursday evening, when Jesus sacramentally anticipated the gift he would make of himself on the cross.His command to serve others is dramatically recalled this night in the ceremony of the washing of the feet, which he performed in the supper room for his disciples. Like the Paschal lamb, killed and eaten by the people, according to the Old Testament account read from Exodus this evening, he is a sign of God’s salvation.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday of Holy Week

Taking time to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is a wonderful experience to grow closer to Our Lord at any time, but during Holy Week, it is especially incredible. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked his disciples to stay awake while he prayed in the garden. They were not able to keep their eyes open. Jesus still asks us today to spend time with him--just an hour a week, or a month--and see how He changes you!

For those unfamiliar with Adoration:

Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration is the adoration of Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist. In the many Churches that have this adoration, the Eucharist is displayed in a special holder called a monstrance, and people come to pray and worship Jesus continually throughout the day and often the night. Christ’s great love for us was shown when he was crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and give us eternal life. He loves us without limit, and offers Himself to us in the Holy sacrament of the Eucharist. Can we not give Jesus a few minutes of love and adoration in return?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday of Holy Week

Through the eyes of David we see Christ suffering on the Cross. How many times have we read these words, but not felt them as David did? I invite you to pray to the Holy Spirit and allow this description of Christ's suffering to permeate your soul. Open your heart to His precious gift of forgiveness and everlasting love.

Psalm 21:13-22

 Many bullocks surround me; the strong bulls of Basan encircle me. They open their mouths against me like ravening and roaring lions. I am like water poured out; all my bones are racked. My heart has become like wax melting away within my bosom. My throat is dried up like baked clay, my tongue cleaves to my jaws; to the dust of death you have brought me down. Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. They look on and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. Rescue my soul from the sword, my loneliness from the grip of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth; from the horns of the wild bulls, my wretched life.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday of Holy Week

Here we are! The final week of Lent--the Holiest week of the year
How has your Lent gone for you? Were you able to give of yourself? Help someone in need? Right a wrong? Reconcile with a friend or loved one? Confess your sins? Stick to your Lenten sacrifices? If not, don't fear! There is still time! Make this week, a week of dedication, of fasting, abstinence and growing closer to Jesus. Remember His horrific suffering for each one of us and align your days and nights to his on the cross. Place all your burdens at his feet and know that He has done all of this for you!  For today--we pray from the Psalms. 
 Psalm 21:1-12
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, far from my prayer, from the words of my cry? O my God, I cry out by day, and you answer not; by night, and there is no relief for me. Yet you are enthroned in the holy place, O glory of Israel! In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried, and they escaped; in you they trusted, and they were not put to shame. But I am a worm, not a man; the scorn of men, despised by the people. All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: "He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him." You have been my guide since I was first formed, my security at my mother's breast. To you I was committed at birth, from my mother's womb you are my God. Be not far from me, for I am in distress; be near, for I have no one to help me.