Sunday, December 22, 2013

St. Anne - North Little Rock

I had wanted to go out far today for Mass but Noah floated by yesterday and it was a grey, depressing day, so I stayed close to home.  And discovered I need 4 new tires (apparently...I've worn out my tires visiting churches....)

I headed up to North Little Rock and St. Anne.  It's another church that is right on the outskirts of the Air Force base.  It looked pretty decent sized on the outside, but it was tiny on the inside.  It really had the feel of a church hall more than a church.  They were trying but it just felt cramped and basementy.

Music was provided by a cantor playing guitar.  In a strange twist, it sounded like most of the parishoners were singing.  I kid you not.  Men, not the cantor or the priest, singing in church.  It's so rare that I'm remarking on it.  And on that note, the responses were said by everyone and rather loudly.
Opening:  Ready the Way...Ready the Way of the Lord (Thinks this is a Taize prayer...and Cantor went over it before Mass with everyone, even though they sang it last week...see new music can happen!)
Offertory:  Here I Am Lord
Communion:  Taste and See
Closing:  O Come O Come Emmanuel

Father gave us a mini homily before the Penitential Rite.  Basically we should not be afraid and be obedient to the Faith.

When the First Reading came, Father explained the Reading before the Reading.  Strangely he didn't do it for the 2nd Reading or the Gospel.

There are two phrases in today's Readings that stand out:  Do Not Be Afraid and Bring About the Obedience of Faith.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph is followed.  He is visited by an angel 4 times.  Joseph gets up and does what the angel says.  The angels come in times of crises.  Every time an angel comes, the angel says "Be not afraid."  Joseph does what the angel says.  Fear is very powerful but natural.  It is healthy when it gets you into action.  But it can be paralyzing and can push us into denial. All those fears.  Be not afraid.  I am with you.  It is why we have small church groups for support.  We have to get up.  At the beginning and end of Romans, Paul reminds us to be Obedient to Faith.  What do we believe in?  It must be acted upon.  Christ is present among us.  God is present to us in our lives. We must be the Love of God in the world.  Not as slaves but as beloved.  Trust in God.  Ahaz is afraid and decides that he must ally with his pagan neighbors.  But the problem with that is that the pagan stuff will creep in.  Ahaz represents us when we do the opposite of what God wants.  There is a pornography problem.  (I'm up!  I'm awake!) Pornography distorts our sexual gifts.  We need to wake up. We can stop our old habits.   (I'm a little confused as to how pornography relates to the readings but hey, I'll cut Father some slack for mentioning it and for tackling such a topic.)  Ask the Lord to make us like Joseph and to recognize the Ahaz in ourselves.

At the petitions, the last petition invited us to name people we should pray for.  Father used Eucharistic Prayer III and there were bells.  At the end of Mass, Father invited people who were visiting to stand up and introduce themselves.  (Don't worry...I blended into a wall.) Then it was birthday time.


Glitter makes everything better

View From the Back Pew!
What is with all the netting ribbon?  (Stuff wrapped on poles)
It's the go to decorating item.

St. Anne

Special Note:  I'll be in St. Louis for Christmas :) so no post for Christmas.  It is up in the air about Dec. 29 as I'll be driving back.  Jan 1. for sure!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

St. John the Baptist Latin Mass Community

Sadly I had to go to work today.  But as Father said in Confession this morning, there is no excuse (short of death perhaps) to miss Mass.  Ever.  I didn't want to deprive you of snark for a 3rd week, I went to the earliest Mass in the Diocese of Little Rock, that was at 7 am (not at all that early...).  Thankfully it was only 30 minutes away from both job and apartment.

Apparently the only people having 7 am Mass is the FSSP's Latin Mass Community.  They use St. Patrick's Church.  I'm guessing this diocese hasn't had waves of church closings leaving vacant churches for the FSSP to totally take over.

St. Patrick I think was built in the early 1950s.  It's modern but tastefully modern.  The stained glass windows are of saints and are of more traditional designs instead of chunky abstract representational windows.

As expected Father wore rose vestments.

I'm not so sure I like the low Mass.  I still have no idea what's going on and it makes it way easier for me to zone out.  

It seems most homilies have two things in common here in Little Rock 1.  They all start with announcements (which I guess is better than at the end.) and 2.  They seem to be longer than in St. Louis.

Father started off his homily by reading the Epistle and Gospel in English.  Then the announcements.  In July 2007, Beverly Sills died.  She is quoted as saying "Man plans, God laughs."  She often said she was not happy but she was cheerful.  She had troubles but was cheerful...  So what does an opera singer and a Jew have to do with us?  (oh dear...that was a PC fail)  Today is Gaudete Sunday.  It is the first word in the Preface.  That word often defines the Mass and if the word is meaningful enough, the day.  Beverly's life defined joy.  The key is to be cheerful as no one is really happy.  It's measured in degrees.  We can only be completely happy in heaven (Houston, we have a problem.)  Cheer is a disposition.  It's a good habit. (Cheerful people make me suspicious...) It predisposes us to the gift of happiness.  Joy can occur in the midst of sorrow.  Happiness is the satisfaction of desire.  We can never be truly happy here as our desires can never be satisfied (such a ray of sunshine there Father)  A sign of happiness is the eruption of joy (yeah...I'm not going there...)  It is an intense response and we are not capable of sustaining it (snork...I'm so like a teenager here).  Our desires, provided that they are intrinsic and well ordered and well formed, are good.  It is Union with God that gives happiness.  A Greek philosopher remarked that short is the joy from guilty pleasures (which is why I need many pieces of chocolate).  A young priest on the internet discussed how God's salvation is at work among us everyday.  It is the mixture of the perfect and the imperfect.  ...the sparkling wine of joy... (I totally lost what he was saying he was going so fast, but that was a cool phrase) Happiness needs sadness.  Joy needs sorrow.   St. Teresa said joy is prayer, joy is love.  Joy is a net of love.  Let us cast our net and see what we catch.

St. Patrick - North Little Rock

View from the Back Pew

Both in the Old Baptistry
I think that's St. Gerald maybe?  I'm not sure..

The Good Shepherd and the Child Jesus in the Temple


St. Joseph

St. Jude
I think...

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Patrick
Either he or St. Gregory was also in the Choir Loft.

St. Peter

St. Theresa 
(Honestly I never know which one is which...)

St. Anne

In the Choir Loft.


Apparently I live in a mission diocese.  I expected that would involve 
desert, palm trees, tropics, outhouses...not ...well, here.
Although that's pretty cool...I can say I've been to the Missions :P

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Welcome to the South -- Ice-Aggedon

On Friday, it sleeted.  All day.  Like to the tune of 2-3 inches.  I know when I looked at my car, it was a good 2 inches thick.  It took me 45 minutes to get it to driving condition.

When I went to the grocery store on Thursday night, there was no bread, no eggs, and ground meat.  They were calling for the power to be out for 4-7 days...

To make a long story short, this is not St. Louis.  There isn't a parish within walking distance or even within 5 miles.  My apartment complex has not put out anything.  The roads are full of ice patches.

I'm staying home.  Where it's safe.  No Mass today.  I really really wanted to go to...I'm stuck in a 606 sq ft apartment...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Immaculate Heart of Mary - Walnut Ridge

Third and final church of the day :D  Again, my excuse!

St. Paul the Apostle - Pocahontas

This is the 2nd Church I went to today. Here's the excuse in case you cared...  I'm starting to think that the Bible Belt doesn't believe in having unlocked Churches.   This one was so nice looking and I could tell it had good stained glass that I'll probably come back.

St. Paul the Apostle

St. Joseph the Worker - Corning

Here is the first Church I visited on the way.  Click here for a detailed excuse as to why I wasn't in the Church.

This is a cool looking Church from the outside.  It looks like it would fit perfectly in the woods.  It sticks out a bit in farmland but the front with all the trees is perfect.




Bless me Father for I have sinned...
I was too busy having fun with friends and family to go to Mass on Saturday...
I didn't want to get up early to go to Mass at 6 am before I left to go back to Arkansas....and I wanted to get home before dark...and I was hoping there was a breakfast buffet in my morning...and I was like surely I'll make it to a 5:30 p Mass back in Little Rock....then I stopped to take pictures at a river overlook..
So I didn't go to Mass...

I did, however, stop at three churches that I passed on the way back to Little Rock.  I'll post those pictures :D


Sunday, November 24, 2013

St. Rose of Lima - Carlisle

Hello all!
This morning I attended St. Rose of Lima in Carlisle AR.  Mass was at 11 am.  As usual in these small town churches, there was a Rosary recited before Mass.

The organ was in the choir loft.  There was no choir or cantor.
Opening:  To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King
Offertory:  The King of Glory
Communion:  O Sacrament Most Holy
Recessional:  Crown Him With Many Crowns

Father went all out for this Mass.  He recited the antiphons.  Father sang/chanted nearly everything except the Eucharistic Prayer (He used II by the way.)  The Confiter was said and we chanted the Gloria.    Father mentioned that "At the end of Mass you will receive Benediction from the King.  Think very seriously on this."  The Our Father was sung.  However Father did give the peace sign at the Sign of Peace.  There were bells too.

At the start of the homily, Father mentioned the incense was to drive Baptists away.  Incense is used to worship the True God, not to fake gods.  Today we fulfill the Psalm "Let Us Go Rejoicing to the House of Lord."  The best symbol of the House of God is Mary.  She carried the King of the Universe. Father said Mary wore a hijab/burka.  God desired Mary's beauty.  She would not have survived her virginity in this day and age.  Mary is noted as Queen throughout the Old Testament.  The King is here with us always unless you leave.  Your children, your grandchildren, even my nephews and nieces, are all leaving.  They are leaving because they don't know the King.  They don't because the world distracts them from the King (and we are doing a terrible job of passing on the Faith and identity...).  The world doesn't fill them with Joy.  Joy from serving...(he said joy comes from other things but I couldn't keep up).  I have a feeling Rome and Jerusalem will be bombed (uhm...)  We may be the ones to do it, although it will probably be Islam (oh dear...)  Israel knows what to do.  Putin knew what to do to get Iran to do what he wanted.  Putin worked with the KGB (yikes. Somehow I don't think Putin is the example we want to go with...)  Obama told us we must kill.  We must kill our babies in the Affordable Health Care Act (blink.  blink.)  His interpretation of the law (which we had to pass to read...)  He has lied.  Some people think he is king.  If he is king of anything, he is king of the underworld.  (blink blink...well then..let me grab my jaw from under the kneeler here)  The world wants us to sin.  (that is true)  Right here you can be saved.  The Pope is an interesting interesting man to follow (define "interesting" for me...)  Listen.  The Pope is being interpreted many different ways but listen to his words.  The Jesuits, and there have been some good Jesuits this century, are the best educated and the best educators and even they are having problems.  Pray to the King to keep us close to Him, to Mary, to the Saints and to God.

At the Offertory was the time for announcements.  Father mentioned that there was a 2nd collection for the Campaign for Human Development but he'd rather give to Catholic Relief Services as the CHD sometimes give to bad things.  Then Father mentioned he got a letter from the Bishop about a letter from Rome.  Father is going to write to Rome directly as the Rome wants to hear from the priests not the bishops.

At the end of the Mass, there was a procession with the Host around the Church.  Mass ended with Benediction.

St. Rose of Lima

View From the Back Pew

Lamp (I really like this)

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Practically every parish has a Spanish ministry

Station VIII

St. Michael the Archangel
(The prayer was said at the end of Mass)


Sunday, November 17, 2013

St. Boniface - Bigelow

I was feeling a bit homesick and trying to find a church to visit this morning.  As I was looking at the list of parishes, St. Boniface caught my eye.  Perfect!

I attended the 8 am Mass at St. Boniface in Bigelow.  Before Mass, there was Adoration, Rosary and Confession.  There were prayer books in the pew.

St. Boniface is a very cute little church.  It was built in 1906 but the high altar was saved from the fire that build the first church built in 1896.  The side altars were carved by a parishoner to match the high altar.   From what I understand, the parish has a goal to keep the church looking like it did when it was first built.

The music was provided by a girls choir and I understand this was their first Mass singing.  They were very sweet.  The organ and choir were in the front because the seating in the choir loft was needed for parishoners.
Opening:  We Gather Together
Offertory:  Prayer of St. Francis
Communion:  Look Beyond
Closing:  Lord of the Dance

The homily was incredibly short :D
The Bishop of the diocese has asked for a second collection for the victims of the Philippines Typhoon.  Father mentioned that there were a couple of Thanksgiving Ecumenical Services.  An atheist travels down a country road and sees a rabbit and a priest fishing.  Next to them was a sign that said "The End is Near"  The atheist got out of the car and yelled at them and then sped off.  There was a screech of brakes and a splash.  The Rabbi said "I told you we should have just put Bridge Out"
This is the last Sunday in the Church Year.  Next week is Christ the King.  The End is near.  We don't know when.  If we knew when, my ears would burn from all the Confessions.  People waiting to the last minute.  Grease me up so I can slid right into heaven.  Do we really want to live like that?  The people in the Philippines must have thought the end was near.  I saw a picture this morning of a Philippines celebrating Mass.  The Church was packed and it had no roof.  Do you have that kind of Faith?  The End is coming:  Are you prepared?

The Apostles' Creed was said.  Father used Eucharistic Prayer III and there were bells.  And the Church bells were rung right before Mass.



Monday, November 11, 2013

Christ the King - Little Rock (visit #1)

What's better than going to Mass once in a day?  Why going twice of course!

I'll confess.  My new territorial parish is Christ the King in Little Rock.  On the 2nd Sunday of the month, the young adult group does all the Mass things like Lector and Usher at the 6 pm Mass.  For the most part...the group was pretty incognito... The parish is upper middle class.

I can tell you I'm contemplating finding a new parish already.  I just can't go to Mass in some place without windows to the outside and looks like an auditorium converted to a church as an afterthought.  (I understand that has happened but to intentionally build it that way???)

Announcements were read 8 minutes before Mass...before everyone got there...and Mass was full.

The music was lead by a cantor and a pianist.  Apparently the organ was dedicated in 2006.
The cantor only lead the 4 hymns and the responsorial psalm..the Mass parts will all spoken.  I'm not sure how Catholics managed before there were cantors...but I distinctly remember no cantors when I was growing up...(back in the day...)
Opening:  I Am the Bread of Life (uhmmm...this is a Communion song...not a gathering song...)
Offertory:  Shepherd Me O God
Communion:  I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (I head Him say less banal music...)
Closing: Mine Eyes Have Seen (or as it is more properly known:  The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  And don't even get me started on the word change in verse 4 thanks to Gia/Worship/Gather/OCP.  The original line is "As He died to make men holy, Let us die to make men free." It has been changed to "As He died to make men holy, let us live to make all free"  I'm sorry this totally changes the meaning of the song.  This song was written during the Civil War..which was about ... a bunch of people dying to set other people free...why why why....why are we so afraid of our past??? I was actually surprised the Rebels were singing the Union's battle march...)

At the beginning of the homily, Father recognized all the veterans.
We are at the end of the Church year.  December 1 is the beginning of the Church year.  The Readings will speak to us about the End Times.  It is a message of warning and preparation.  It is easy to give uplifting homilies (Oh Father...if only that were true)  It is hard to give a homily about the gate known as death.  The Church remembers the dead in November.  Veterans Day is to remember those who have sacrificed ( it's not...that's Memorial Day or Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth.)  There are seven books in the Bible that only Catholics have.  The First Reading is from Maccabees, one of those books.  Judea was being persecuted.  The Jews were being persecuted and humiliated such as being forced to violate Jewish dietary laws.  The Reading today was preceded by a story about Eliezer.  Eliezer was a very old and respected.  If he would eat pork, he would be spared the sword.  His friends tried to get him to pretend to eat pork.  He refused because it would betray the life he lived.  Why do we care about whether or not Jews eat pork?  The dietary laws were about discipline (and disease prevention...but let's not quibble)  Why do we recall this event?  What are the fundamental questions?  Is there anything in my Faith life I would change before I die?  In these last days of the Church year, it symbolizes the Coming of Christ.  When will He come?  One of you, at least, will be up here (refers to the shrine of the people who have died in the past year that covered the least I assume there is an altar under there...).  Death will come for you.  Not to be scary.  This season is to jar us that now is the time to change.  Not later as there may not be a later.  Death is the gate by which we enter eternal life.  Is the way we live our life going to get us eternal life?  Good news, God is bigger.  God calls us.  What would Jesus say to you to change in your life?  Now is the time.

Father used Eucharistic Prayer III and there were bells.  The congregation stood during Communion, from the end of the Agnus Dei to when Father sat.

Pictures:  (I'm going back...don't worry...)
View From the Back Pew

This is the real reason I can't go to Mass here...
The looks at me...
it examines me...
It creeps me out.... 

I think this is Mary...

St Who Am I???
(I'm Jean Val Jean!)

I actually like this...
Jesus and Joseph

Station VIII

Christ the King

Sunday, November 10, 2013

St. Peter - Pine Bluff

Hello All.  It was supposed to be sunny today so I planned to go visit the swamp  bayou and see otters and run from alligators.  So I picked a parish that was on the way.  Needless to say there were clouds and no otters and praise the Lord no alligators.

I went to St. Peter's in Pine Bluff which is about an hour SSE of Little Rock.  It's a nice little church in what appears to be an economically disadvantaged area.  The church resembled more protestant churches from the outside.

The bell tower was outside and I was arriving the bell was being rung.  Some brave soul needs to clammer up there and put some WD-40 on it. :D  In the parking lot, I realized I had arrived at a predominately African-American parish, as there was a statue of Mary painted to be African-American.  This was confirmed when I entered the church and noticed many of the paintings portrayed Jesus, Mary and the Apostles as African-American.

Music at Mass was accompanied by drums, piano and a choir.
Opening:  I Say Yes Lord, Yes
Mass Setting:  Sing Praise and Thanksgiving
Offertory:  Hush Hush Somebody's Callin' Mah Name (no that's not a also had Lawd)
Communion:  I Am the Bread of Life
Closing:  America the Beautiful

Before Mass (which started at least 5 min late), guests were invited to speak (I declined).  Then there was a greeting free-for-all.  Most of the parishoners were dressed really nice.

Father used the Confiteor and Eucharistic Prayer II.  What was interesting was at the Offertory, that is when the parish did the announcements.  Father also thanked all the veterans that were called up to the altar.  There were bells at the Consecration.  The Our Father was sung.  Everyone held hands at the Our Father.  I got a dirty look for not participating.

This parish does the thing where the put the gift baskets at the foot of the altar and you walk up and put your gift in.  My biggest problem with this is that I feel like that Pharisee who goes and says look what I donated! I wonder how much peer pressure plays into it as well.

Father started his homily with a joke:  A man went to a priest who had a reputation of when blessing people they lived longer.  This man was not Catholic but went to the priest anyway begging him to see his great grandmother.  Father goes and blesses the woman, but she dies instead of lives.  The man is upset and goes back to the priest demanding a reason.  Father was like you should know the difference between a blessing and Last Rites.  (Maybe you had to be there...)
Father asked us to close our eyes and invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts to understand the Readings.  Benjamin Franklin, the great American, wrote his own epitaph.  You can see he believed in the Resurrection.  This renews our Faith in the Resurrection.  The resurrection of the body is based on the Resurrection of Jesus.  Maccabees is only found in the Catholic bible and some Oriental Orthodox Churches.  At the time, the Holy Land was being fought over 2 of the generals that divided up Alexander the Great's empire.  The general that won, implemented Alexander's strategy that there be 1 culture in the country.  The Jews were being persecuted and forced to stop following Judaism.  The 2nd reading is from the Thessolonians, which was the first book of the New Testament that was written.  The Primitive Church was focused on the Coming of Jesus and the End of the World.  When Paul wrote this letter, the Thessolonians were despairing and Paul them not to and to do good work until He comes.  In the Gospel, the Saracees did not believe in the Resurrection and this story shows their ignorance.  There will be no marriage in the afterlife.  Our bodies will have different forms.  In spite of this, the Mystery of the Resurrection is unsolved for us at this time.  The physical death is not the end.  In our life, don't do anything to displease God.  The Catechism says it is better to die or suffer than to sin.  We do not know when.  We must pray.  We are only saved if we let him save us (I can't decifer what I wrote...MW?  who is that?)  Consider your end and you will not sin.  Remember who will judge you.  A life is blessed by the deed's done.  If we put all our trust in the Lord.


View From the Back Pew!


Last Supper

Station VIII

St. Peter