Sunday, April 25, 2010

Church of the Good Shepherd - Hillsboro

Happy Good Shepherd Sunday!

For today's visit I attended the 11 am Mass at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hillsboro, which is a more rural area of the archdiocese.  Mass was packed as in standing room only and there still wasn't enough room.  The church is really cute and was nicely decorated.

Before Mass, Father asked us to turn off cell phones and other devices so that we could properly focus.  He then talked about how there could be people in the Church who needed a welcome or a friendly hello, so then we all greeted our neighbors.

The music was accompanied by the organ with the choir and the organ in the loft.
Entrance Song:  Let Heaven Rejoice
Gloria:  Mass of Light
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 23 by Carey Landry (Uhm...the missal reports today was supposed to be Psalm 100)
Presentation of the Gifts:  Our God Reigns (I heard this on XM right before Mass!)
Holy, Holy, Holy:  St. Louis Jesuits
Memorial Acclamation:  Verse 3 and the Refrain from Let Heaven Rejoice (Is this allowed?  Really?)
Amen:  St. Louis Jesuits
Lamb of God:  Peace I Leave Medley
Communion:  Shepherd Me, O God and Worthy is the Lamb
Recessional Song:  Behold the Glory of God (to the tune of Lift Up Your Hearts)

This Mass had a Children's Liturgy of the Word.  Father said a prayer over the children and as they left, the congregation sang "Children, Go to hear God's Word" (What do the adults get to hear?) and "Children, Go to hear Good News!" (Oh no, the homily is going to be bad news...Father's going to ask for money I bet....) The children processed out with the Sacramentary (which did return).  When the children came back, they had made cotton ball sheep on green construction paper. Now this has been a recurring theme on the blog about Children's Liturgy of the Word.  I'm still not buying that it is anymore than glorified arts and crafts time and this just emphasizes my point.

Father's homily was about how we hear His Voice and how sometimes, it is difficult to hear this Voice because of all the other competing voices.  The Voice says "I Love You, I'm With You, and How Are You Doing?"  The voice isn't demanding ( it's the devil demanding I work on my dissertation...good to know.) We know the voice when we hear it.  Sometimes we've been that voice.  "Pretty Wild"  The challenge is to listen to the Shepherd's Voice.  He will always find us; always gentle, never demanding, inviting us to something deeper.  It is the one true voice of real love.

Father used Eucharistic Prayer II and there were bells at the Consecration.  Father encouraged us to hold hands at the Our Father.

Good Shepherd seems like a nice, active parish.

Good Shepherd Church
It was built in 1934.


Painting of the Good Shepherd on the School.

View From the Back Pew!

Saints' Corner
St. Jude, St. Francis, Mary, St. Teresa, Infant of Prague
Oh and the Black Madonna on the wall.
I think the saints used to be on the shelves that line walls of the nave,
which currently hold vases of flower.

St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus.
I think this is the first statue I've seen of this.
It's on top the Holy Oils.

Statue of Risen Jesus
This is a first time I've seen a statue like this as well!

The Eighth Station:
Jesus Meet the Holy Women

Risen Jesus Stained Glass Window

Ascension of Jesus

Jesus, The Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd Website

FYI:  It's time for the Annual Catholic Appeal.  The Archdiocese wants your monies for silly things like education, the seminary, the Newman Centers, and other stuff.  You should give them your monies :) Find more here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

St. Barnabas the Apostle - O'Fallon

Hello again!

On April 18, 2010, I attended the 11 am Mass at St. Barnabas the Apostle in O'Fallon, MO.

When I walked into Mass, the Rosary was being recited and there was a line for Confession. I noticed a chalice veil and a handful of women with their heads veiled.  I also saw a female altar server in cassock and surplice.

The music was accompanied by an organ.
Opening:  Sing to the Mountains
Offertory:  Let Hymns of Joy to Grief Succeed
Communion:  Alleluia! Alleluia! Give Thanks to the Risen Lord
Closing:  Alleluia! Alleluia! Let the Holy Anthem Rise

Father used the full Penitential Rite.  This was the first Sunday Mass I have been to in a really long long time that the Responsorial Psalm was not sung or chanted.

The homily was about following Christ.  Father kept repeating two phrases:
1.  Are you as good as you want to be?
2.  What does God want you to do today?
God may want you to do something that requires changing your behavior in some way.  What does it mean to be a follower of Christ?  Father also brought in Confirmation, and how, in Confirmation, you receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These gifts make us strong enough to follow Christ.

The intentions were forgiveness orientated.

Father used Eucharistic Prayer III and there were bells at the Consecration.  The memorial acclamation was different.  It was the one that starts with "Keep in mind..." which I haven't heard in a very long time.

Over all the parish was more reverent than other parishes and the majority of people were appropriately dressed.  It's interesting that during Communion, some elderly men started having a conversation about the 20 inning baseball game and people kept turning around to shoot them disapproving looks.  One of the ushers even got up to attempt to halt the conversation.

St. Barnabas the Apostle
Front View

He's holding the Gospel of Matthew

In the Vestibule

View From the Back Pew!
The Tabernacle is in front of the guy with the white shirt on the left.
It's an upside down boat.  Seriously.

The Holy Family
I like this.
It actually looks like they are a family instead of 3 strangers,
standing near each other.

The Eighth Station:
Jesus Meets the Women


Vine and Branches Window
St. Jude on the left
St. Michael the Archangel on right.
Each window had a little plaque to tell you what the window 
represented.  Because without it, I was clueless.

Adoration and Veneration

The sacrificial aardvark.
Or the Paschal Mystery if you read the plaque.

St. Barnabas the Apostle Website

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lost (& Found): St. Hedwig

I've already visited my grandmother's church and my father's (and my) church.  It is only fair I visit my mother's old church, St. Hedwig.

St. Hedwig was located in South City and you can see the spires of St. Anthony of Padua from the door.  It was closed in 2005.  My mother was in grade school when they started fundraising and then building the present church.  The fundraiser was called Pennies from Heaven.  My mother wailed for weeks that she wanted her pennies back!

St. Hedwig School
When the parish was started, the Church was the upper floor of the school.


This used to be a Polish parish.
The stone says
Kosciol I Skmola Sw. Jadwigl
St. Hedwig Church and School
The window is above the front door.
You can kind of see an H in the circle on the right.

St. Hedwig

Cornerstone - 1957


Close Up of Window

St. Hedwig from St. Louis Archdiocesan Archives
Pictures (interior too!) from Built St. Louis
Pictures from Rome of the West

Busy Person's Retreat - Day Five and Last Day

Hi all!  Today was the last day of retreat.

Sister and I discussed how the retreat went and what I learned from it.  We also talked about free will and making choices.  Sense a theme?  We also talked about internal motivation.

I'm glad I did the Busy Person's Retreat.  The experience is different for everyone so I hope if you get a chance to do a similar retreat, you do :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Busy Person's Retreat - Day Four

Remind me why I signed up for this again?

I don't know what I was thinking.  I must be really desperate that anything is better than working on my dissertation.

So today we discussed my prayer life, or the lack there of.  We talked about some other stuff too.  A little bit about vocations as well.

My assignment is to think about and reflect (for 30 minutes..for real this time) the question Jesus asks the blind man.

Last night, the retreat had Mass and dinner cooked by the amazing chef Fr. B followed by a talk on vocations.  I missed the Mass because I was in class.  I did make it in time for dinner....  We had a sister from Most Precious Blood and from Daughters of Charity and 2 postulants from the Daughters of St. Paul.  They all shared their vocation story.  Liz, the campus minister, would like to remind everyone that everyone has a vocation, whether it is to the single life, religious life or married life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Busy Person's Retreat - Day Three

Good Afternoon!

Today's retreat session was a little uhm rough.  The best part is when I said something about the Church and a bible fell over.  I kid you not.

We talked a little bit about my choices or lack there of.  Refusing to make a choice is still a choice BTW.  We talked a bit about how I'm not very good at this prayer thing.  Talked a little bit about how I am precious in God's eyes and how I don't really buy into that.  Oh and we talked about the gifts God may have given them and how wasting them isn't such a good idea...

In short, it wasn't sunshine and rainbows.

Today's Assignment (in which I will spend 30 continuous minutes reflecting on):  Isaiah 49:15-16

Above all, trust in the slow work of God

We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages,

We are impatient of being on the way to do something
unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,

and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ

Monday, April 12, 2010

Busy Person's Retreat - Day Two

Good Morning again.

This morning I met individually with my spiritual companion, Sister C.  We started with prayer and a few moments of silence.  I caught her up with my life and all its fascinating (or lack there of) happenings.

We talked about choices and choosing to be clueless to God's plan for me.  We talked a little about God's plan for me.  We talked about trust.  Somehow, we talked about my dissertation.  I have a sinking suspicion God would like me to work on it and finish it...

My assignment:  Isaiah 43:1-4

We ended with Namaste

“Nothing is more practical than finding God,

 that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. 

What you are in love with, 

what seizes your imagination 

will affect everything.

 It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, 

what you will do with your evenings, 

how you spend your weekends

, what you read, 

who you know, 

what breaks your heart,

 and what amazes you 

with joy and gratitude. 

Fall in love,

 stay in love, 

and it will decide everything.”

-Pedro Arrupe SJ

Busy Person's Retreat - Day One

Good Morning!
It was so late last night I wasn't able to blog about the first day of the retreat.

The group met for dinner (tacos...yum) to get to know everyone and the three different retreat guides, or spiritual companions.  Based on the conversation for dinner, you picked your guide after dinner.  There was then an orientation with the whole group.

We talked about how the retreat worked and the six P's for listening to God (prepare, place, posture, passage, pause, pray).  Basically it is a 30-30 retreat. You spend 30 minutes in prayer and 30 minutes with your spiritual companion.  We then practiced reading with the Scriptures using the Gospel for Sunday.

We then met with our spiritual companion to organize the rest of the week.  My spiritual companion, Sister C, created a booklet for us with assignments, reflections and passages for the entire week.  However, this could change based on the direction of our talks.

My assignment for Day 1:  Jeremiah 29:11-14  God apparently has plans for me.  I really wish he would tell me what they are....

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. 
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, 
and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. 
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and 
I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road 
although I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always 
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, 
I will not fear, f
or you are ever with me 
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton

Catholic Newman Center UMSL

Hey guess what everybody?  I'm doing a Busy Person's Retreat this week at the Catholic Newman Center at UM-St. Louis. (Why of course I'm going to blog it!)  So even though I went to Mass at Our Lady of the Presentation this morning, I went again with my fellow students.

It was totally awesome to be back "home".  In case you missed it, I've been a little unsettled about this Church hopping and was starting to get cranky (-er).  Going to the CNC Mass was just the ticket :)

The music (played by the always awesome D. M.)
Opening:  Jesus Christ Is Risen Today
Gloria:  St. Louis Jesuits
Offertory:  We Walk By Faith
Sanctus and Acclamation:  Mendoza, Breath of Salvation
Lamb of God: Matt Maher (the Echo One)
Communion:  As One Unknown
Closing:  Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow

Father B was his usual awesome self (I so missed him...).  I did notice he was wearing new white vestments which were very nice and festive.  He got them for his silver (25!) ordination anniversary in December.  WOOT!

The Gospel Question:  What Was Jesus' Favorite Occupation After the Resurrection? (I know!  Magician! )

Father B started off with how it was the little things that jumped out at him when reading the Gospel.  The apostles were behind locked doors removed from everything.  It was more than doors that were keeping the apostles locked away and removed.  Jesus' 2nd career was a locksmith (rats. so close...).  Jesus appears to us no matter what.  This is the Divine Mercy; to set us free of things that lock us up.  Jesus forgives us no matter what.  When Jesus says "Peace" and shows His Wounds, He means we are forgiven, that it is okay.  We are not sinners but rather forgiven sinners.  God needs us not to be stuck; needs us to go forth.  You and I are called to be locksmiths for the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Chapel Exterior
I have been experimenting with different photography techniques.
It is hard for me to get a picture of the chapel because the space is so tight, the tower so tall
and my camera so small.
I've been taking pictures through crystal balls.  So this is the exterior entrance to the chapel
taken through a crystal ball.

View From the Back Pew
Decorated for Easter!

Easter Candle
I love this Easter Candle.
It's blue!
It has planets and stars on it.
Kind of like a light creation theme.

Link to Previous Post
UMSL Catholic Newman Center website

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Lady of The Presentation - Overland

I hope everyone had a good Divine Mercy Sunday!  Did we all remember to get our plenary indulgence for the day?  I forgot.  sigh.

For Mass today, I had planned on going to St. Clement, because clemency is like mercy, but I discovered Our Lady of the Presentation had pancakes.  Change of plans!  I attended the 11 am Mass on Aprill 11.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Father M as I thought he was at a different parish.  He's really great.  He blessed Jake when Jake was really sick and he has a dog named Brother Tobias.  Is that not cool?

Our Lady of the Presentation reminds me of St. Mary and Joseph and St. Michael architecturally.  The present church was built in 1947 according to the cornerstone.  The sanctuary was beautifully decorated for Easter.

The music was accompanied by an organ.  The choir sat to the front on the side.
Opening Song:  Alleluia No. 1
Offertory:  Easter Hymn Medley (yes...a medley of Easter themed hymns....)
Communion:  Behold the Lamb
Recessional:  Sing of the Lord's Goodness

Father used Penitential Rite B, the one with the response "And Grant Us Your Salvation".  It's used so infrequently that he said it that it took a moment for everyone to respond.  Since we are in the Easter season, Father sprinkled everyone with Holy Water during the Glory to God.  Father also reminded everyone to bow during the Creed.  Father used Eucharistic Prayer II and there were bells at the Consecration.  After Communion, the parish prayed the Anima Christi.

Father's homily was excellent.  Father started off discussing why John mentioned it was the first day of the week.  It's because it is a new creation, a new creation with the risen Jesus.  The apostles were locked in the upper room by their fear and their guilt.  This is why Jesus said "Peace Be With You" It was to let them know that he forgave them and he didn't give up on them.  He showed his wounds because that is what sin did.  Jesus loves us in spite of sin.  Jesus doesn't give up on us or the apostles who were hiding. It was important to Jesus to know this peace.  What do we do to lock out Jesus?  No matter what we do, Jesus still wants us.  This is God's amazing grace.  (sorry if this doesn't do was a really well organized homily...I was really sleepy...I'm blaming the pancakes...)

This was a very lovely parish and the people were really nice.


Our Lady of the Presentation

"O Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy House"

View From the Back Pew!

Stained Glass Windows
Above Choir Loft
Marian themed

Closer View of the Windows
Our Lady of Guadalupe (?) is in the center.
The Birth of Jesus and the Presentation in the Temple are on the side.

I don't think I've ever seen a cross with circles on it like this.
One circle is a moon with stars.
Another is a shepherd's crook.

Baptismal Font

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Infant Jesus of Prague

The Eighth Station:
Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Saint Devotional Area
From left to right
St. Anne, St. Anthony, St. Jude, St. Teresa (little flower I think), St. Francis Cabrini

On the benefits of looking up.
I totally missed this until coming back from Communion, I looked up.
Happily, Our Lady of the Presentation is blessed with a seminarian (in a cassock) who
was more than happy to translate this for me.
"Now Dismiss Your Servant O Lord"
"My Eyes have seen Your Salvation"
According to seminarian Z, this is said in the Church's night prayer.
He suspects the crest might be St. Louis IX

Our Lady of the Presentation Website
Exterior Pictures from Rome of the West

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter - St. Francis Xavier

I hope everyone is having a joyful Easter!  I was really torn about where to go for Easter Mass.  Some suggested Resurrection, but that is the Vietnamese parish, and well, I thought for Easter I'd stick to English.  I finally decided to go to St. Francis Xavier, the College Church on the campus of St. Louis University which is administered by the Jesuits.  I based this decision on reading the bulletin asking for volunteers to help blow up balloons for the 10:30 am Easter Mass.  I was decidedly intrigued.

I nearly left when I saw this:
Deaconnesses. (????)
Whatever they are wearing look suspiciously like dalmatics, which is the vestment for deacons.  Why are they not wearing those alb-like robes?  I understand there is a priest shortage.  I understand that it is sometimes necessary for the laity to assist at Mass.  This is not the middle of nowhere.  This is not a mission diocese.  You mean to tell me, they couldn't dig up a spare Jesuit (or Dominican as they live in the same building across the street from the church no less) to assist at Mass? What does this say about the importance of a properly celebrated Mass? (It's not apparently important..)  Now, last summer and the summer before that, I would somewhat regularly attended the 4:30 pm Sunday Mass.  No deaconnesses at that Mass....

Sprinkling Rite in which the Deaconness helped.
This just seems wrong.  I'm not up and up on all the latest liturgical innovations and rules but I have been Catholic for quite some time now this just seems *wrong*.  Now, it may very well be allowed (I doubt it) and there maybe a case for pastoral necessity ( spare Jesuits?) but I'm not ok with this.  Especially given that many people come to Easter Mass, some of them not Catholic and some Catholics badly taught or ignorant of their Faith.  If I was an outsider, I would say this looks like the rules of about the all male priesthood are being relaxed and changed.  Until I started this blog, I didn't know that the deacon wore a dalmatic; I didn't even know what one was.  Previously if I had seen a man on the altar wearing the dalmatic, I would have thought it was a new style of chasuble and it was simply a concelebrating priest.  Especially if that man was doing things like preparing the altar for the liturgy.  What does this look to someone not of the Household of the Faith?  It looks like the Roman Catholic Church is on the path to female priests, which I believe the Pope John Paul II said would never ever happen.  The other problem I have with this is that it *normalizes* the behavior and gets people used to it.  This is how you make large radical changes.  You can't make large radical changes in one fell swoop without lots of outcry (something that should have been noted when the Mass changed in 1973...) You start with small steps, the steps being so small and inconsequential, that a reasonable person looks ridiculous objecting to them.  Each little step is just slightly more radical than the step before, but it is slow going.  When you look at the whole process, you have gradually moved further from the norm and the people haven't realized it and are now accepting what they would have objected to in the first place.

Update:  I have since been informed that the white flowy cloth shirt/dress things the women are wearing are monastic albs.  Because this is a monastary, that's the first thing that came to my mind.  Right. I posit that the average Catholic would not know the difference.  Furthermore, the average nonCatholic wouldn't either.  I certainly didn't and I've been doing research and stuff.  I know if my mother were to look at these pictures, she would say the women are wearing a chasuble.  Which I think illustrates my point.  
Update 2: While editing this post again, my sister (she's Catholic and went to Catholic School too) walked in.  I asked her what the women were wearing.  She said "Something they shouldn't be".  She's like they are wearing the priest thing.  The prosecution rests.

After talking with Mark, we decided St. Francis Xavier was larger than St. Francis de Sales, which holds ~1200.  However, St. Francis Xavier has pulled out pews in the back and on the sides and has replaced them with chairs (with no kneelers FYI).  We guess that the Church holds in the neighborhood of 1500 people.  I'd have to venture there were ~1500-1800 people at this Mass.  I didn't see the sides so I'm not sure.  I can tell you the back was packed and people were standing up the sides.  It was insane!

The music was lovely with a brass ensemble.  There is no organ which is a shame in such a large Gothic church.
Entrance:  All Shall Be Well
Gloria:  Mass of Light
Sprinkling Rite:  Water of Life
Preparation of Gifts:  Instrumental by St. Louis Brass Ensemble
Mass Setting:  Mass of Creation (I'm starting to wonder if that is all there is....)
Communion:  Now We Remain and O God Beyond All Praising
Recessional:  Jesus Christ is Risen Today
Postlude:  Hallelujah Chorus (you can sing that outside of Christmas??!!??)

The children in attendance were given ribbons so that they could process with Father and wave them.  They stood on the altar waving the ribbons through the Gloria.  As an aside, baptismal fonts that are a foot high and full of water do not mix well with lots of 5 year olds with ribbons milling around it...

No incense at this Mass.  They also skipped the Paschal Sequence which is a shame.  Shockingly, the Intentions were appropriate.  We actually first prayed for the Church.  I thought it was going to be the usual social justice set of intentions.  Oh and Father used Eucharistic Prayer 1.  

Father's homily started out how in this Mass we don't start with needing God.  We are already here.  He then encouraged us to read the 4 Gospel accounts of the Resurrection and notice how each account is slightly different as they were written for different audience, but they all feature the empty tomb.  Father then goes on to talk abut Mary Magdalen and who she was and was not.  The homily then switched gears to how the Risen Christ comes to give peace and a job to do.  We need to ask ourselves where Jesus is leading me and where can I discover Jesus alive?  How, where and with whom should I share the Good News.  Peace is a gift you can't hoard.  

Balloons falling from the upper walkway as the procession winds down the center aisle.
The highlight of this Mass for most people would be the pouring of balloons from the upper walkway as the priest processes out.  I did talk to a parishoner about why this was done.  It's done to illustrate how heaven and the Resurrection are one big party.  What do you have at parties?  Balloons.  Also, to keep people in the pews until the end.  Finally, it is to illustrate how family and child centered the parish is and how important religious education is for this parish and how they have excellent child religious formation.  Unfortunately I will have to disagree.  I went to Catholic school for 12 years and no balloons were involved in the Church and I have to think that I got an excellent religious formation.  I think Sister Mary Anne would have had a heart attack if balloons were in the Church... As an aside, wouldn't a good way to form children in their Faith be to have them, oh, I don't know, learn to serve and serve Mass?  I know learning to serve I learned much more than I did in class.  

Pictures (Note:  St. Francis Xavier was a madhouse and I did the best I could...):
View From the Back Pew!
Update:  The banners are splatter painted rays of the sun.  
You can see the Sun in the first pair nearest the altar.
Oh and there was holographic ribbons hanging from the poles too.
Pretty sparklies twirling in the air currents....

Close Up of High Altar

The Eighth Station

Rose Window

St. Louis University Window

The windows at St. Francis Xavier are very intricate.  They display tiny little scenes of different things.
Many of the windows depict the work Jesuits do.
I'd have to say the overall theme of the stained glass windows is
"Jesuits are Awesome"

Another Window

Odd Window Out!

St. Francis Xavier, College Church Website
Close-Up of two windows taken by me.
Pictures from Rome of the West (takes you to his pictures on Flickr)