Sunday, March 23, 2014

St. John the Baptist -Hot Springs

Evening all!  Just a note, there won't be a post next week as I'll be in St. Louis :)

Spring is in the air and that means there are flowers to be photographed.  Yes indeed.  Another Sunday visit determined by where there are flowers blooming.  This week, I was in Hot Springs and visited St. John the Baptist.  I went to their fish fry a 2 weeks ago and noticed how pretty the church's exterior was and decided to visit today.

The church was built in 1909 and is rather simple on the inside.  I did note with some amusement and some distress that the rectory was prepared to take on an assault by the Protestants.  All the windows had bars on them and the rectory was surrounded by a 6 ft fence with locked gates.  It didn't look like that sketchy of a neighborhood...

The music was provided by a choir and piano in the choir loft.  The male soloist was really good.
Opening:  Jesus, Lord of All Creation
Offertory:  Lamb of God
Mass Setting:  Sanctus and Angus Dei chanted in Latin
Communion:  Jerusalem, My Destiny (sung by soloist); O Bread of Life; Panis Angelicus (sung by Latin!)
Closing:  How Great Thou Art

The Gospel readying shows the gradual way in which Christ entered the Samaritan women's life.  Christ asks for water and bestows His blessing on her, moving her towards water that fulfills soul and leads to hope and joy.  This is the water of baptism, where God pours himself into our souls.  Jesus brings up the woman's sin.  To embrace Jesus she must renounce the sins of the past and set out on a grace filled journey.  We are called.  The proper response is like that of the woman at the well, acknowledge Jesus.  Jesus identified Himself to her as she had an open heart.  The woman's mission was to get water but now her mission is to bring Jesus to the others.  Her excitement and deepening love compelled her and changed her life.  The take away is that Jesus approaches us.  This initial approach is easy to see in Baptism.  We see this in other moments as well:  when we serve him in a particular way and see sins more clearly.  We must repent, grow in love and tell others about Jesus.  Unlimited love of God for us is what allows us to approach Him.  God had a plan.  Jesus loves us.  Showed His boundless love for us in Baptism and in every worthy reception of the Sacraments.  May Jesus see the spiritual furor in us!

Father used Eucharistic Prayer I and there were bells at the Consecration.


St. John the Baptist

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Our Lady of Good Hope - Hope

Instead of going to work today (I worked yesterday), I headed out to Old Washington State Park for the   Jonquil Festival.  (Sense a theme?  I'll give you a guess where I'm going next week...).

On the way to the Festival, I passed Hope, where I attended the 9 am Mass at Our Lady of Good Hope.  Before Mass, there was Eucharistic Adoration.  The Tantum Ergo was sung in Latin (One day I'll learn how to say the first verse in Latin, I've got the 2nd, I can't get the first.)

Music was provided by an organ and a choir.  The music for the Mass Settings were provided by a computer.
Opening:  From Ashes to the Living Font
Offertory:  Shepherd of Souls
Communion:  You Are Mine
Closing:  Forty Days and Forty Nights

Before Mass, we applauded for new members and visitors and then greeted our neighbors.

Father's mini-homily mentioned that the Entrance Antiphon was based on Psalm 67.  Christians have optimistic view despite our struggles.  The heavenly glory is revealed to us in the Gospel, which is the Transfiguration.

This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.  This is the voice of the Heavenly Father.  Jesus says to the disciples "Rise and do not be afraid"  We have entered the 2nd Sunday in Lent, a time of 40 days to take up fasting, prayer and almsgiving as the Church calls us to do.  Our body is made of dust of the Earth.  Some people think it is not useful.  When somebody dies, a preacher says the soul goes up to Heaven but the body turns to dust.  The Resurrection of Jesus will happen to us.  For some of us we have shame, we are burdened by being human.  The Transfiguration is what the body is capable of.. At some moment we will be transfigured.  Humanity may be devalued but the Light of God shines through us.  The devil put his tools for sale:  hatred, pride, envy, etc.  And over in the corner was the box of discouragement.  When it is opened, it brings depression.  Discouragement leads to depression and despair.  (So do chemical imbalances in the brain...) Do not fall into the devil's snare.  This week in Hempstead County, a young girl died.  (I'm not sure what happened.  I found the obituary and the details were sparse....which makes me suspicious.)  Father went over the leading causes of death in 2010.  The 10th most frequent cause of death is suicide, with about 38,000 succeeding that year.  Around 713,000 go the ER because of self-harm.  The Transfiguration has a message for us.  It is an encouragement and radiates hope and the ultimate victory.  We will rise up and have no fear and a new life.  True Christians have an immortal diamond and will never be pessimistic (Guess I'm not a true Christian....)  Christ has robbed death.  Christians are optimists that will smile through troubles (I guess this is where the stories of the martyrs going joyfully to their deaths come in...I plan not to go quietly if I'm to be martyred..but then again I'm not a true Christian...)  We need to pray as often as we can.  We will be transformed on Earth (If I start glowing, somebody get a geiger counter...).

Father used Eucharistic Prayer III and there were bells.  The Our Father was sung.  And while it was sung, we all held hands across the Church.  Well one of us didn't and got huffed at (Feel the community...)

After Communion, as Father was purifying things, he told us to meditate and converse with God.  Converse with God and tell what you have to say.

Then came the Liturgy of the Announcements.  Three difference people spoke.  Apparently the parish has a pledge drive to expand the Sanctuary.  (I think they meant the nave, because the Sanctuary was pretty big, but the nave was full).


Our Lady of Good Hope

View From the Back Pew

Station VIII

Our Lady of Good Hope

Good Shepherd - Fordyce

On Saturday, March 8, 2014, the town of Camden, AR had a daffodil festival.  There was even a civil war reenactment.  I'm still confused as to why they all wear grey....(I'm not's just *jarring* to see grey...and Confederate flags....everywhere...somebody told me that Little Rock was just like St. Louis....yeah.  no and here's some evidence).  Needless to say, the church in Camden did not have Saturday Mass, so I visited a church on the way back that did. 

I ended up in Fordyce, at Good Shepherd for the 4 pm Saturday Mass.  And as luck would have it, I was in time for Stations of the Cross (Oh my poor calf...walked 6 miles and now Stations...I slept until noon on Sunday BTW).

This has to be one of the tiniest actual churches I've been in.  I've been in some small chapels, but not actual parish churches that are this small.  I think there may have been maybe 20 pews....only because they were short and in 3 columns.  It's a contest as to whether my 606 sq ft apartment is bigger or the Church is.  Now they have a divider between the Nave and the parish hall, but it was open when I visited, which essentially doubled the size of the church.  It was really cute, but really small.

The music was a capella, so it was stuff that was easy to sing without accompaniment. Amazingly, all the English speakers sang.
Opening:  Holy God We Praise Thy Name
Offertory:  Amazing Grace
Communion:  Let Us Break Bread Together (I haven't heard this in forever...)
Closing:  How Great Thou Art

The parish has some non-native English speakers or non-English speakers, so to include them, the 2nd Reading and the Gospel Acclamation was in Spanish.  (I'm amused because the priest was from India.)

Lent is a time to look at consequences.  It is a time to look at sin.  Repent so that you can rise with Jesus at Easter.  God's Grace provides a way from temptation:  fasting, prayer and almsgiving.  The first sin was to be like God.  Adam and Eve were given a choice:  be obedient or not.  All of us are tempted to put ourselves in God's place but don't want to be responsible for the consequences of our choices.  Jesus conquered temptation by being faithful to God.  Paul tells us that sin is not private, but it is public.  Sin effects our relationships with others.  To avoid temptation, the Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness. For the Israelites, the desert is a place of testing and renewal.  (For's a place for casinos...)  The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years being purified (hmmm I thought it was so that all the troublemakers with the golden calf were all dead.)  Moses and Elijah spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert praying and fasting, preparing for their mission.  What is close to you?  What keeps you away?  You need to avoid it.  Food and water (I don't remember how this connected...)  Avoid worldly pleasures.  Many people are sad after the worldly pleasure has passed.  It keeps us away from Jesus.  We need to see the consequences to us.  Fasting brings us closer to God (unless it makes you crabby and snarky at people...)  Avoid temptations.  Jesus struggled.  He fell 3 times while carrying the Cross but kept going.  Come closer to God with the Rosary, Stations of the Cross and the Bible.

Father used Eucharistic Prayer III and there were bells.

Everyone was really nice after Mass.  


Good Shepherd Catholic Church

View From the Back Pew


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Our Lady of the Holy Souls- Ash Wednesday - Little Rock

Hello all!
Sorry I'm a bit's been a busy couple of days.

I'm one of those people that believes if you are going to go through the trouble of getting ashes on Ash Wednesday, you should do it early enough in the day so that you wear them for more than an hour.  Needless to say, I'm not a big fan of evening Ash Wednesday services.  It took me a while and I had to cash in some comp time from work, but I managed to find a 7 am Mass sort of near work.  I wanted a noon Mass but that was asking the impossible.

After a brief GPS mishap (the GPS was off...), I finally found the church.  However I found the back of the church, not the front.  When the church is a big square with doors on 3 sides, is there really a front?

There was no music at the 7 am Mass.

A significant part of our Faith is expressed in symbols.  Sacramentals are powerful reminders of God's grace that are imparted in the Sacraments.  They are a reminder of God's presence in our life (another homily about presence?  Really?)  Ashes have many meanings.  They are a way to look at life, renew and give us a greater awareness of presence (Clearly waiting 4 days to write this up was a was coherent at the time).  There is an understanding we need God; a dependence, mercy when asked.  Ash is a symbol of morality and the passing nature of life.  A life with God.  We depend on God.  We are penitent with hope and God is waiting.  There are many uses of ashes.  They can kill moss, melt ice, deskunk pets.  In terms of Lent, ashes are used to make soap, hide stains and clean marble.  In Lent we undertake practices of fast, prayer and almsgiving to help remove the dirt on us and to give luster to our soul (My soul is more diamond like...its *sparkly* not like a pearl).  The Mercy of God.  Ashes clear off the grim and restore the luster to the soul.  Ashes give us traction when we are going the wrong way and not hearing God.  We have a dependence on God.  We need to push away what distracts us.  We are at the beginning of a journey and have a chance to clear away what is not of God.

Father used EP II.


Our Lady of the Holy Souls

It looks like one is sticking its tongue out.


View From the Back Pew!

Eucharistic Symbols

Well I think it is VIII...
I'm going to hell for what I see when I look at this...

The Holy Family

St. Teresa of Lisuax
Venerable Catherine McAuley (Apparently the Sisters of Mercy came here...)
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

St. Andrew
St. Benedict and St. Scholastica

St. Francis of Assisi

St. John Vianney

St. Monica
St. Augustine

St. Martin de Porres

St. Thomas More

St. Theresa
Pope John Paul II ( I think....)

Attack of the Holy Spirit

I want to say it is the Resurrection
It really looks like Jesus is being lynched...

Flaming Star of David

Our Lady of the Holy Souls

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Our Lady of Fatima - Benton

Good Evening All.  I was going to be reporting on a church visit in Tunica, MS (or thereabouts) but as you probably know, the weather turned sour so I went back to Little Rock.  It's currently sleeting while thundering.

I stayed relatively close and attended Our Lady of Fatima in Benton, which is almost like a suburb of Little Rock.  As luck would have it, the Knights of Columbus were having breakfast for the parish after Mass.

Our Lady of Fatima is a more recently built church.  The center of the church looks like an upside boat.  The one thing I didn't like was the clear glass door to the confessional...

Music was provided by a cantor and a guitarist who were up in the front instead of the loft aka balcony.
Opening:  Seek Ye First
Offertory:  Isaiah 49
Communion:  Only This I Want
Closing:  He is Exalted!

Before Mass, visitors and new members were asked to introduce themselves.  Luckily there was a nice column for me to hide behind.  Announcements were also made before Mass.  Additionally, everyone was reminded that Wednesday was a day of fasting and abstinence.

When we give someone a gift, we call it a present.  It is our presence contained within the present.  When we send an email or a tweet, we are present.  When we send a handwritten note, we are even more present.  Think of the difference between shaking hands, holding hands, and kissing.  (No kissing in church!) The more personal the present, the closer the two people.  Being with someone you love is the greatest treasure (awww)  To truly be present involves listening.  You must listen with your hearing and with your heart.  Heart speaks to heart. (Cardinal Newman!)  How is God present to us?  How do we expect His presence?  It is one thing to recite prayers and another thing to pray from the heart.  Our lives are filled with busyness and clutter.  Where do we look for God?  Where is His presence?  The world doesn't like God (that is an understatement...) God is present.  God loves us with a love beyond any other love.  We will never understand.  How do we know?  The crucifix.  God is present in Communion.  What kind of God is God?  What do we expect of God?  What does God expect of us?  To whom do I give my heart?  Where your treasure is, your heart is there (cliche!) In relationships, what do we look for others and what do we expect.  When we are ensnared in the world's treasures and set our heart on them, there is no room for God.  Isaiah 49, the Prophet is speaking to the people who were being lead out of captivity from Babylon.  It is a message of consolation.  The people should be glad.  Yahweh has consoled His people.  The Gospel speaks of God's love for us and that His love frees us from what holds us captive.  There are some ways we can find out what God expects.  We need to spend time reflecting on God and quiet time with God.  We have a Eucharistic Adoration Chapel (which is locked...) We need to spend time reading the Scripture and absorb them.

Father used Eucharistic Prayer III and there were bells at the Consecration.


Bell Tower

View From the Back Pew

Seven Sacrament

And now for everyone's favorite game:  Guess the Windows!  

Three Bags: St. Matthew? 
Saw:  St. James the Lesser

2 Fish:  St. Andrew

Keys:  St. Peter
Shell:  St. James

Scroll:  St. John?
Basket with T:  St. Philip

Book:  St. Paul
Arrows:  St. Philip

Bees:  St. Ambrose

Coins and bag:  Judas????  There are 30 Coins
Book and Axe: St. Matthias

Ship:  St. Jude
Fish with suitcase:  St. Simon the Zealot

Hey!  Where are the fish frys in Little Rock???

Our Lady of Fatima