Everyone, sing!

He admitted it right after Mass.  He named all the Lenten programs and initiatives being offered, after having incensed the Gospel earlier as well as the altar after that (as always): “I intend to make this the holiest parish in the whole state.”

One knows without even thinking about it that his intent is for our benefit, not for his own in any way; every fruit will be for the Lord, not for his human basket.

“That is his job,” some would say –and if so, we’d know exactly how hard his life can be at times!

I have a friend who, even as a small child, slept on the edge of her bed “so that the Holy Family would have enough room.” It was likely no surprise to anyone, except maybe to her humble self, that she became a lifelong (so far!) religious sister. I have a feeling that today’s (Roman Catholic) pastor may’ve gotten the call at a similar age, though it took living secularly before he made the move.

If you’ve guessed his heritage to be Italian, French Canadian, Irish, Nigerian, Kenyan, Polish, Asian…  you’re right. It doesn’t matter that he’s Polish, except in one way. All the above who’ve been raised Catholic, whose relatives are Catholic, whose friends and peers were and are Catholic, who have some consecrated relatives, and who may know of truly Catholic politicians — well, all of that helped! The Lord plants many a seed, but they each need steady light and frequent watering to bloom. We lived in the land of steady Light and frequent Water-ing.

Indeed, as I grew up in the midst of working class ethnicities (all of whose immigrant parents weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms), we had one other thing in common always: Holy Mass (and all the sacraments). Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, Confessionals, Last Rites, wakes and funerals and burials — always someone in the neighborhood(s) was involved in any/all of the above.

In every family, there was always at least one member who had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin and/or to her holy earthly spouse. My grandmother was devoted to both. She had middle-named all her boy children “Joseph” and all her girl children “Mary.” She and an Irish neighbor woman used to gather frequently in the afternoon to pray the Rosary. I might be being half-fanciful in this, but I believe Mrs. Griffin may’ve prayed it in Gaeilge, and Memere, (definitely) in French. The Rosary, too, is like Mass — universal. We all know what is being said and pled, offered and effected, no matter what language it’s in.

Today, because St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Sunday — always the Lord’s day — there was zero green seen in the Church, except for muted colors in shirts and the Aran sweater or vest, and the only green I could handily find: two barrettes that I affixed to a purse flap. I was much too hurried to go dig out the little real-shamrock-under-glass pin, or the aunt’s lapel pin of himself in Bishop attire. I wrecked the Sneem woolen mills scarf long ago, gave away the Connemara marble brooch as well as the socks of Irish sheeps’ wool as gifts to special friends who are Irish, but who may never gain Irish soil itself.

Any items I might’ve accessed to wear are tucked into final giving boxes. Gift boxes for my children and grandchildren on that fateful day when they all gather in church for my sake. In each box is something brought from Ireland herself (mostly by others), something from Memere’s Fr. Canadian/Mi’qmak side, and something from my own life that I loved. I think it might help, on that day, but I know for sure I’d like to have received something like that from any passed loved one.

As for himself’s feast day, not to worry. Standing directly behind the cantor today (and every Mass) is a giant statue of St. Patrick in full Bishop attire! His huge staff rests on the ground but rises to Heaven, and he himself is standing upon a mess of vipers. I don’t know that I’d like to sing before his imposing self, except that in his other hand, he is holding up a small shamrock –to remind us. Not of Ireland, nor of himself. Of the way, rather, he explained the Holy Trinity. One cannot hold a single shamrock of any size and appear unapproachable. I should take to doing that, perhaps.


*I cannot leave this ‘blogpost so bare on this day..



*Maybe you didn’t see this part earlier… I didn’t have it here earlier — that could be why!:  I feel a need to go quiet for a while. You could call it a holy need. (I can’t. It’s always way more complicated than holy!)  Lent is a good time to figure out complications, though. Quietly.  🙂






When shove comes:

I have yet to read von Balthasar’s whole book, “Heart of the World,” but this one chapter has been enough to ease my soul for a number of years. It is Jesus speaking to His church. I read it at the height of the American scandals (Massachusetts) and I was a basket case by the end. A thankful mess. Cried my heart out. He’s GOT this.

When someone has caused me to feel down — be they some other religion, none, or a skewed form of my own — by ravaging my beloved Church Who is modeled on Mary Ever Virgin and literally bears the very Heart of the world, Who has put the holiest people on earth into my immediate surroundings — all of which I can hardly speak well enough to, or I’d have done so by now! — I come back to this.

And you can bet it’s one reason I love Jesuits! Always, the Jesuits — making me nod. Indeed, a re-reading doesn’t make me cry — that was just that once. For all the years since that horrible night, it makes me nod.  I nod, “Amen.”





But Boanerges know what they do

I woke up woundable

Didn’t realize it until

I lay there face down

In the mud of hatred

Ever-fresh as the Jews’

If not for Jesus’ throes



But nameable


In place of all haters–

I would avenge His

Deepest lacerations

And His mother’s

I, too, would hate

Yes, a good reminder

And never welcomed.





Love has one face




Scandals, scandals, scandals..
they’re never over and done.
In the beginning and midway
–we’re always at Square One.

That’s the toughest part of being a Roman Catholic publicly. Scandals. Yet, when haven’t we had them? When in these 2000+ years haven’t we had them?

The Heart of the Church is so amazing, one is almost incredulous that especially one ordained or consecrated could allow him- or herself to profane anything about this furnace of love Who never gives up on us, Who willingly took our place, Who paid our terrible debt, and Who bides with us while He waits.

And yet, even we lay non-molesters/abusers do exactly that. And yet, no one holds a priest’s or pope’s feet closer to the fire of human judgment than do we! We conveniently forget that the Lord handed off His church to Simon barJona. Simon Peter — really?? Why not the deeply contemplative John the Evangelist? Why Peter the laborer — someone so steeped in human weaknesses that we can identify with him immediately? Did I just answer my own question? What is it about Peter’s example we are to follow? A contrite heart. The will to love the Lord rightly. Peter’s own never giving up on the Lord, ‘though he give up on himself a hundred times!

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The spirit is willing to trust the Paraclete, but the flesh says, “The Pope is too weak! Imperfect! He’s wrong. What’s he DOING??”

Or, yes: different but real scandal.

I myself am not a fan of Pius X, never have been, probably won’t be until my soul understands with all its faculties exactly why he has been declared a saint. Meanwhile, I am to trust the Church on this. If that means I have to keep my mouth shut about him so as to not sin against the Holy Spirit, and so as to not give scandal to the Bride of Christ, that is what I must and will do.

The same should apply to all the Popes, especially the living one(s).  There are some who think Francis is profaning the Church. (As if any one of them might replace him, as if any of them could fix “this mess” as they call it.) They will harm no one by keeping quiet about him, as I do about Pius. It will serve to bless the Church we all profess to love. Our terrible words expose only our own human weaknesses.

Part of every indulgence requires prayer for the Pope’s intentions.  There is a very Roman Catholic reason for that, and it will never change! Does anyone really believe that the (any!) Pope’s deepest intentions could be evil? If so, he or she should bring it to the confessional asap. Meanwhile, let’s just hush and do our own best. To love. To keep our eyes on the Prize.

At the height of the scandal in Boston a number of years ago, I read reports of how even Protestant ministers were converting to Catholic (laity). That’s not easy — their congregations supported them financially, and now, they will have to find work no matter what age or skill sets. Right in the middle of raising families! What courage. What great understanding they have of the Heart. And what trust in the Paraclete, yes, Who reminds us of every word Jesus said — and of every healing we are to know of.

A few Sundays ago, I was at Mass at a (personally unbeloved) parish church, here. It pretty much drives me around the bend, but Mass is Mass. I put away my preferences, because I am as sincere a Catholic as I can or must be. Wouldn’t you know, though, that it was there that He showed me something that erased all stupid boundaries? O, He does that often, if our eyes and ears are open.

In this church that is finally becoming one of color (Rwandans, Chinese, Indians), I have seen much that touched me. How the Rwandan women sometimes dress in their native celebratory clothes and headwear; how the Chinese cherish their old granny and will never be without her; how the Indians love their little children so much.

It happened at the Consecration, here in the midst of more clerical scandal. I’d seen it before, and somehow had forgotten! The Indian husband and wife in front of me, beautifully dressed as if in India, removed their shoes. From my kneeler, I saw their bare feet under the pew. Indeed, they were on holy ground!  What courage it takes (anyone) to convert, and not least of all to something so colorless and staid — until they come!  It made me cry, oh, in a good way.. in a very good way.