Sunday, July 27, 2014

St. Mary (Our Lady, Help of Christians) - Altus

Hi-De-Ho!  Hope everyone is having a nice cool Sunday.  It's hot here.  It's humid.  It's awful.  I'm so glad I live when and where AC is available.

Unlike Missouri, Arkansas' grape harvest is starting right about now.  The wineries here don't really celebrate Oktoberfest (the Swiss one does though).  This weekend, the grape growing area had a grape fest.  Free wine tasting.  100 degree heat.  Someone's not feeling all that great.  My co-workers were worried that I would not be in any shape to drive the 2 hours back and I was like I'm going to Mass...I'll be fine by the time it is over.   Yeah.  Except I was not in the best shape for Mass.  My shirt was soaked with sweat.  I'm buzzed.  If you have met me while buzzed, you know that staying quiet is a challenge. So are some other things but I'm good Catholic woman who shouldn't know about such things.

St. Mary overlooks the entire Altus valley.  It's on a hill, up one of the most horrid roads especially considering it is a tourist area.  The name on the cornerstone was Our Lady, Help of Christians.  (I'm really surprised that Churches in wine country aren't named after the patron saint of wine or grapes:  St. Martin of Tours, St. Vincent of Saragossa and St. Amand)

I walked into the Church and nearly cried (It was the wine...honest).  St. Mary's looks like a Catholic Church.  Big fancy high altars and side altars.  Stained glass windows featuring Saints.  Murals on the walls.  The ceiling was decorated as well as the columns and the the archways.  Huge Stations of the Cross.  Old, uncomfortable pews and kneelers.  Painted organ pipes.  It was like I was back in the older churches in St. Louis.  The only thing out of place was the glass confessional.  I kid you not.  Glass --see through walls.  At least they had the decency to hang curtains.  Although I wonder how long that took.

I always forget how much better choirs sound when they are up in the loft.  The music seems to fill the Church without the need for microphones.  Music was accompanied by an organ (with pipes!) and a choir.
Opening:  I Know My Redeemer Lives (apparently there are 2 songs of that title in the book.  The choir sang one and the people the other....)
Mass Setting:  Heritage Mass
Offertory:  Earthen Vessels
Communion:  Shepherd of Souls
Closing:  Lead Me Lord

Mass was said by one of the Benedictines from Subiaco Abbey.  Apparently, the parish has had a hard time getting a full time regular priest.

Homily:
For the last few Sundays, Jesus has been speaking to us in parables.  Today it is the Pearl of Great Price and the Fish.  Parables were very important in ancient times.  It was a way for people to remember the story and the lesson.  We have bad memories now thanks to all the tv and internet in our lives.  (I blame google.)  I'm going to focus on the net collecting fish.  The net collects the fish, both good and bad and then the fishermen keep the good fish and toss the bad (Are you a good fish or a bad fish?).  Fishing was important back then because people didn't eat meat.  (So all those stories about sheep?  what did they do with the sheep???)  The Kingdom of Heaven is like that.  It is a hidden thing that we can't see.  It must be drawn out.  We are called to live and be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven through the Sacraments and by the life we lead.  We must work to pull the good out from the bad.  As we live or try to live the Christian life, we are surrounded by a society that forgets Christian life (and actively tries to destroy it...)  The Angels will separate the good fish from the bad.  We struggle to see this.  We might not see the difference between fish.  (Indeed).  Is it worth the effort?  I try to live a good Christian life yet others are doing better than me.  What use is it?  We are called to do this.  Ponder the 2nd verse from today's Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 119).  We may fall away but as Christians we are called o have this as Your delight.

Father used Eucharistic Prayer III (seems to be a favorite around here) and there were bells.

It was nice Mass.  I even met a doctor from St. Louis.  :)

Pictures:  I know the last couple of churches have been rather, uhm, stark.  This should make up for it nicely.  Some are missing because someone can't take steady shots buzzed.  I'll be going back in the fall for Oktoberfest.



 















 
One of these guys is St. Meinreid.

This is something you rarely see...
St. Raphael!








Link:
St. Mary - Altus

Monday, July 21, 2014

Assumption - Atkins

Hello all.  Sorry this post is late.  My bestest bud is moving and I was making a quilt for a housewarming gift and I'm on a tight deadline.  (It's very lovely :) )

On Sunday morning, I attended the 8:30 am Mass at Assumption in Atkins (home of the Pickle Fest!).  It's a smallish church (but was packed) that is a bit plain on the inside.

Music was accompanied by an organ and choir in the back.
Opening:  Gather Us In
Mass Setting:  Mass of Wisdom
Offertory:  Seek Ye First
Communion:  Take & Eat This Bread
Blessing for Choir Director:  A Blessing
Closing:  O God, Our Help in Ages

Homily:
Whoever has ears aught to hear.  Jesus is telling parables to those who acknowledge them.  Parables are practical stories with deeper meaning.  They tend to be about farming because everyone who was listening was familiar with farming (I will say I get the parables more now that I work in agriculture..).  Our salvation is part of the harvest.  The fruit is our lives.  The devil is a weed that chokes off the fruits of our lives.  We need to live our Faith.  God has planted the seed in us.  We need to grow and bear fruit.  The challenge is that we are surrounded by temptations.  The world tries to choke off Faith: ignore, persecute, ridicule and destroy Faith.  People lose sight and fall away.  No one helps them to bear fruit.  We live for God; life for all eternity.  We see it in the world.  If we don't have a good foundation, we lose Faith.  The Spirit is there even if we don't know it.

Father used Eucharistic Prayer 2 and there were bells.

It was a nice Mass.

Pictures:











Link:
Assumption

Sunday, July 13, 2014

St. Francis of Assisi - Little Italy

Hello all!
Yesterday, I attended the 5 pm Mass at St. Francis of Assisi in Little Italy.  This church had no address. I just drove down the highway until I was there (and didn't get lost).

It's a mission church that was established in 1922.  It was a bigger church then I was expecting given the location.  Relatively plain on the inside but it did have paintings depicting the life of St. Francis on the walls.

Music was provided by an organ in the back.
Opening:  All Creatures of Our God & King
Offertory:  For the Fruits of This Creation
Communion:  Gift of Finest Wheat
Closing:  Let All Things Now Living

Mini-Homily:
The Word of God is seed planted in us, we await the bountiful harvest.

Homily:
Humans we are a beautiful imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world.  It's a car insurance ad.  De we listen to the Word?  That is important to understand.  We are imperfect because we are human.  We have so many distractions take away from the Word.  How we receive is difference.  Keeps us from listening.  If we listen, we produce much fruit. Things keep us from listening.  Right now people are not listening here and now (la..la. la. la)  We have to be attentive in order to listen to Word.  Without distractions we bear much fruit.

Pictures:









Links:
St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, July 7, 2014

Holy Child of Jesus - Dumas

Good Monday to you all.

It was bound to happen.  I've visited over 300 churches and nary an issue, getting lost doesn't count.  While going through a blink and you missed it town, someone (yours truly) got caught in a speed trap.  The fee is my gas budget for the month.  And some of my food budget.  If you'd like to help by buying me some gas so I can keep visiting churches, send me an email. ;)  I've learned my lesson (don't get caught...)

I went to Dumas, AR to the 11:15 am Mass at Holy Child of Jesus.  This is another small church with a small congregation.  There were no more than 25 people at Mass.  I think I might have been the youngest adult.  Thankfully some kids came...cause for awhile...I was the youngest person in the building.  Although Father might have been my age.  He's from Ghana.

There was an organ but everything was sung a capella.
Opening:  Rejoice in the Lord Always
Offertory:  See Us Lord About Your Altar
Communion: Silence
Closing:  Let There Be Peace on Earth

Mini-homily:
Come to Me.  Bring Me your challenges.  I will change your life.

Homily:
If you see someone starts laughing, you ask why.  If they say they are happy you ask why.  Jesus tells us to rejoice.  God has a reason.  I'm coming to you as a King.  When I come, I will reveal Mysteries to you.  How can you read the mind of God.  Jesus tells us the mind of God.  Rejoice.  What God can do for you?  (It's like what can brown for you....except I bet God won't run over my packages....)  The humble are ready to learn from God.  But not the learned.  Knowledge is power.  Jesus says to get up and go.  When your brother calls you on the phone, you may not answer because you know he wants something.  Jesus is always accessible.  Come to Him.  We need rest on Earth.  He gives us peace and joy.  An appointment is an agreement between 2 parties.  Jesus makes an appointment with you.  Anytime I open my doors, come and bring challenge, I will change life.  If Jesus invites you in, you must bring something (brownies!).  A spiritual heart and mind (brownies are better).  Human logic will fail.  Walking on water, Peter was successful until he applied human logic.  Jesus's healing doesn't make sense with human logic.  Just come.  If He invites you, only come with Faith.  Get away from distractions.  The brothers of the paralyzed man had no distractions, they took off the roof to get their brother to Jesus.  What is your problem?  It is not bigger than Jesus.  Get up and go to Him.  Leave your problems here today.

It was a nice little Mass and a nice little church.

Pictures:




Link:
Holy Child of Jesus

Monday, June 23, 2014

St. James - Searcy

Hey All!  No I haven't quit going to Mass.  The week before I was in St. Louis and last week, I went to my territorial parish.

Guess what?  This weekend was the Feast of Corpus Christi.  According to one parish bulletin I read, there are big processions and celebrations in other countries (like St. Louis) for the feast.  After much searching, I did manage to find a Corpus Christi procession at St. James in Searcy, AR.  It's about an hour northeastish from Little Rock (on the way home actually).  St. James and its sister parishes, St. Albert and St. Richard, all came together to celebrate this Feast at one Mass at 4 pm.

Something interesting also occurred during Mass.  The parish has its first priestly vocation.  To celebrate the event, after the Homily, there was a big signing of the letter of intent with the Bishop, almost as if he were going to play football or something.  I've never seen anything like it.

Music:
Opening:  Alleluia! Sing to Jesus.
Gloria:  Heritage Mass
Offertory:  I Am the Living Bread
Communion:  Behold the Lamb (Solo), Panis Angelicus (LATIN!)
Procession & Bendiction:  Lots of songs in Spanish, O Sacrament Most Holy, Down in Adoration (LATIN) Holy God We Praise Thy Name
Closing:  Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

Mass was interesting.  It took an hour to get to the petitions.  The main reason was that most everything was said in English and then repeated in Spanish or vice versus.  That's right.  I heard the homily 2x.  In English and in Spanish.  The Petitions, Procession of Faith and Our Father were in English.  The Eucharistic Prayer (II) and the closing prayer was in Spanish.   The beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist kept switching language.  I'm now more convinced that Latin is the way to go for the parts of the Mass that don't change every day.  I heard non native English speakers and non native Spanish speakers both speak the responses in the other language.  People can be taught.

The homily was given by the Bishop.
Like many of you, I'm dismayed by how our culture has lost its moral bearing.  There is no more living for other or for a higher purpose. Pope Francis talked about an economy of exclusiveness.  We put the self ahead of the family.  We repackage religion to accommodate me.  We want artificial contraception, easy divorce, abortion, and now same-sex marriage.  We have put self-interest above the common good.  We have hardened our hearts to the poor.  We act as if life is a zero sum game.  We have ignored the family as the basic cell of society and have made it instead the individual.  The Church is family.  Sacrifice for the common good.  The result is a religion that wants what is best for us (even if it makes us miserable).  We are building the Kingdom for God.  It is a win win for us.  We have an economy of inclusion (clearly the bishop hasn't been exposed to cliques...)  In the First Reading, we see how God provides.  The Hebrews survived because they obeyed God.  In the 2nd Reading, St. Paul tells us we are made one by the Body and Blood of Christ.  The Gospel tells us the Eucharist unites us and gives us Eternal Life.  In the Eucharist, Jesus provides and shows the path through the moral desert and idolatry of self.  Do not forget God who led you out of Egypt.  Society/culture says Catholics are out of touch. We are counter cultural.  The culture is sick.  Catholics are in touch with the Truth (some more than others...I feel like a comment about truthiness would be good here).  The Lord feeds us to make a difference.  We are called to bring God's Salvation to others (one facebook argument at a time).

One thing I did notice was that the altar servers acted as the ushers for the collections.

The Corpus Christi procession was really nice.  There were Knights and flags and girls in white dresses throwing flower petals.  We walked around the church to an altar set up in a field and then walked back.

The people were really nice!  They invited me to a potluck supper.  It was yummy.

Pictures:  I have more of the windows.  I'm just really tired.  I'll post them soon.







St. James

St. Raphael 
This is a rarity!







Links:
St. James - Searcy 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

St. Richard - Bald Knob

Hello all!
It's hot here in Arkansas.  I'm also working on my ark.

This week I attended the 4 pm Vigil at St. Richard in Bald Knob.  It has a cute exterior and is tiny on the inside.  This is one of the few churches I've been to where I can't "pretend" to kneel by having my butt rest on the pew edge.  The pews were pretty widely spaced.

The music was accompanied by an electronic organ in the back.
Opening:  Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid
Mass Setting: Heritage Mass
Offertory:  Come Holy Ghost
Communion:  One Bread, One Body
Closing:  Go Make of All Disciples

Have you ever forgotten where we were in the Liturgical Calendar?  I'm at Mass last night (before the songs were changed on the board) and I notice that Father is putting on red vestments and I'm like is it Corpus Christi already?  Totally forgot about Pentecost.  I'm never going to hear the Sequence am I?

Homily:
Today is the highpoint of the Easter celebration..Pentecost.  50 days after Passover the Jewish celebrate the law giving on Mt. Sinai.  God gave the 10 Commandments to show them how to be a people of God.  This means behaving in a way God wants, not the way we think is right.  As humans we have a short cycle.  When we try to take the initiative with God, disaster follows, for example, the Tower of Babel.  This is to remind you of the Acts of the Apostles tomorrow...they speak in another language, Pentecost is a reversal of this.  God decided to build a bridge.  When humans build the bridge, you get Babel.  God give us Pentecost. After the Ascension, the task is too big for the Apostles.  They need God's initiative to go out and preach.  What God asks is impossible if we rely only on ourselves.  At the opportune time, God will send out the Holy Spirit to make the lukewarm into the zealous (How about before my next facebook argument about God's existence and morality...because I'm over my head.)  Misunderstanding to understanding.  There was misunderstanding at Babel.  The miracle of Pentecost is they all heard in their own language.  Love is the language everyone understands (eye roll).  Love is the language of the Children of God and Heaven.  At Babel, the human family was broken up.  Pentecost brings the family together.  It is the Birthday of the Church (I had a cupcake!) We benefit from our difference.  Holy Spirit flows through us to inspire us to a more Christian life (any day now...)  the Holy Spirit helps us in the life of Faith (but not in Facebook arguments :P ) Unity.  We are one body united in Faith, cleansed and made holy by the Sacraments.  It keeps the Chancery and the Pope free of error ( I think he meant Magisterium...not the Chancery...or we have some big issues..).

Father used Eucharistic Prayer II and there were bells.

Pictures:







On another note, I'm currently involved in facebook discussions on God's existence, morality and other fun stuff.  I could really use some better background.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Please don't suggest St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.  They are awesome but way beyond me at this point.


Links:
St. Richard - Bald Knob