Pray For Vocations

As we pray today for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, I’d like to share a poem I read in a book of talks given by Archbishop Tim Dolan, written about the fatherhood of the priest:

Who are you, man of Mystery, our Father? By what arrogance do you approach the Holy – offering your manliness to mate with Sacred Spouse, and vowing with such singular abandonment to wed yourself to Holy Mother Church and so with her, in promiscuity divine, the seeds of Life? Or can it be that, led by ceaseless calling, summoned by the Matchmaker who serves the cause of Love, pursued by the Relentless One, you have succumbed and so it is submission which, to unholy eyes, appears presumption? How is it that, child-free, you are our Father? Is it that you daily bear God’s children? Is it that, with human voice, you speak a Father’s Word? Is it that you, fasting and breaking fasts, call us to supper and gather us at table for meal of Bread and Wine? Or that you celebrate our rites of passage, advising, chastising, baptizing us with water and with fire? Is it that you lift us in prayer, holding, embracing and blessing as only a Father might? Or that you hear our calling in the dark and come to take our hand and light a light – Or, in your priestly parenting, you come anointing, pointing the way past death to life? Who are you, man of Mystery, our Father? You’ve wed yourself to Holy Mother Church and, everywhere, you sow with her, in promiscuity divine, the seeds of Life. You bear and speak and feed, you shape and renew and heal and bless as only a Father can do. And so we, on this Father’s Day, your untold children, grateful, pray, “May life and Holy Spouse and God bless you.”

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Mary and the Month of May

The month of May is the “month which the People of God  has especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady,” and it is the occasion for a “moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world [pay] to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of the home, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance” (Paul VI: Encyclical on the Month of May, no. 1). This special custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose at the end of the 13th century. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of the Church and therefore the example, as well as the guide and inspiration, of everyone who, in and through the Church, seeks to be a servant of God. The Holy Spirit, as Pope Leo XIII reminded us, is the soul of the Church: All the activity and service of the members of the Church, beginning with the supreme participation of the Blessed Mother in the work of the Church, is vivified by the Holy Spirit as the body, in all its activities, is vivified by its soul. The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete, Advocate, and Comforter which Christ Himself sent to be our consolation in the sorrowful mysteries of life, our source of moderation in the joyful mysteries of life, our added principle of exaltation in the glorious mysteries of life. So He was for the Blessed Mother; so also He is for the least of us; so also He is for the rest of the Church, even for those who are its unconscious but conscientious members. Wherever there is faith there is the example of Mary, because she lived by faith as the Scriptures remind us.

Hail Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Family. We honour you and come before your Picture of Grace to place upon it this precious Crown. We crown you in thanksgiving for everything that you have given to us in your motherly care and protection. Accept the Crown, which God has prepared for you from all eternity. Accept the Crown, as a sign of our love. Accept the Crown and give us many graces for the renewal of our Church and society. Accept the Crown and make every family a sanctuary of peace and love. Accept the Crown and call the youth of today to follow your Son. Accept the Crown, Mother and Queen, and teach us to love and serve our Saviour, Jesus Christ, in all things. Accept the Crown and pray for us in all our needs and petitions. Amen.

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Taste and See Mass in May

Welcome to our Taste and See Mass on Sunday 11th May at 3.30pm at the Shrine, St John Fisher’s Kearsley. Mass begins at 3.30pm and after Holy Mass we will share a meal with one another, finishing at 5.30pm. This year we are considering ways to reach out to other families and invite them to become involved in the growth of faith and the growth of the Church. Our theme is from the series Schoenstatt Heats Afire – Evangelisation: The Way of the Schoenstatt Families. This is the fruit of the tree of evangelisation. Please come along and bring your whole family with you! Continue reading “Taste and See Mass in May”

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Living the Covenant of Love Day by Day

Welcome to our Jubilee May Day on Sunday 18th May 2014 . Everyone is truly welcome to celebrate 100 years of Schoenstatt. We start at 12.00 Noon and there will be programme and activities on offer on the whole campus. We will conclude the day with the celebration of Solemn Covenant Mass at 4.00pm in St John Fisher Hall with a pilgrimage to the Shrine Across the region families are coming today with symbols and pictures of Our Lady from home, from their “home-shrine” on pilgrimage to the Shrine at St John Fisher’s Kearsley. Members of the Pilgrim Mother and young people are making their way to plant flowers signifying 100 years of grace in the Covenant of Love. We will spend time in prayer, working together to produce a crown for Our Lady. There will be a talk on “Living the Covenant of Love day by day”. Throughout the day there will be opportunity for refreshments. Young people and children will have their own programme in the Cottage. We will conclude the day with a solemn celebration of the Covenant Mass during which the crown for Our Lady will be passed from person to person giving them a chance to crown Our Lady as Queen of their Lives. Please come and bring your whole family to this wonderful day of thanksgiving.

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Thank You, Lord!

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings. Thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf. Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible. Thank you, Lord, that I can see. Many are blind. Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising. Thank you, Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden. Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, and my children are so loud. Thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely. Even though our breakfast table never looks like the picture in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced. Thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry. Even though the routine of my job often is monotonous. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job. Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest. Thank you, Lord, for life.

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Sparrow at Starbucks

It was chilly in New York but warm inside the Starbucks shop just a skip up from Times Square. For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. During our emotional rendition of “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along. After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked. “No,” I replied. “We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?” To my delight, she accepted my invitation. “You choose,” I said. “What are you in the mood to sing?” “Well… do you know any hymns?” Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. “Name one.” “Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.” “Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?” My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one. She began to sing. “Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?” The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me.” When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin’ to drink, just like you!” But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!”  “It’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said. “Why is that?” She hesitated again, “that was my daughter’s favourite song.” She grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual. “She was sixteen. She died of a brain tumour last week.” I said the first thing that found its way through my silence. “Are you going to be okay?” She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.” Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favourite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it. God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in New York and turn an ordinary day into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything’s gonna be okay.

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A Different Kind of Prayer…

Heavenly Father, help us remember that the “so-and-so” who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children. Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t seem to get his life together is a worried 19-year-old student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester. Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking down-and-out, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares. Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the supermarket aisle and blocking our shopping progress are savouring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together. Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all the people around us. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, let us show patience, empathy and most of all love. Amen.

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