Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lots of well-wishes and "goodbye's" today, even though I was barely around the parish for people to do so! I went to the food pantry in the morning, visited Mary Anne Kufner in the afternoon, and went to bingo in the evening. Anne wished me good luck, Darlis made sure the whole bingo hall gave me a round of applause of appreciation, and Marge and Krista gave me a card with a monetary gift, as well - I'll probably return the money if I get the chance tomorrow.

It's unbearably hot tonight (by my standards, anyway), so I'm gonna end this blog tonight - and forever - quickly and efficiently. Dear Lord, thank You for the summer of prayer and work that has brought me ever closer to You. May the memories I have, the friends I've made, and the love that You have shared with me through the people of this parish remain as a reminder to me of the unceasing and boundless love you have for me. May I always be an instrument of that love you share with the world through Your Son, Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with You, Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

A rather shocking amount of mail was delivered from the school to the rectory by yours truly; Marge, Christa, and Mrs. McCue are already preparing for the coming school year! I can't believe it's less than a month before the kids are all back; too bad I won't be around for the fun, as I'll be back in school, myself. GRRRRRRrrrrr...

Marge and Christa also somehow knew I was leaving this Wednesday. They thanked me for my help around the office and wished me well. It's so strange having to say "goodbye" to everyone! I wonder how the Bingo crowd will treat me tomorrow...

I went back to St. Peter's today and met a friend of mine who also happens to be one of my on-again, off-again followers of this blog! Tim, if you're reading this (is there any question that you eventually will?), thanks for your prayers and ESPECIALLY for your commentary! I'm glad that somebody is finding something worthwhile to glean from the records of my spiritual endeavors of the past summer!

Dinner tonight was truly something else; Anne tells me tomorrow's should be something even better. I ate so much that, for the first time in my tenure at St. Ben's, I was UNABLE to finish the dessert entree (brownie pie...YUM!). Fr. Beaven, whose dietary restrictions prevent him from eating such delectable decadent delicacies, was visibly longing that he could have finished off what I had left behind. Another cross for him to bear, I guess.

Lord, bless Fr. Beaven and all your priests, that they may be the "alter Christus" they have been ordained to be. Grant that I may, too, one day, join their ranks, if it is your will, that I may follow You forever in a particularly Christ-like way. Whatever your will is for my life, let me never be so anxious that I may overlook the gifts you have given to me or the people you have placed in my life to both aid me in my journey (and them in their own personal conversion) to You. Through Jesus, my Savior and best friend. Amen!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Well, today was my last Sunday at St. Ben's, and looks like it somehow got leaked to everyone in the parish, as a parishioner I never met before greeted me after mass thanking me for everything I had done over the summer. Very gratifying, but also kinda frightening. How the heck do these people figure these things out so fast? Deacon Phil, Rahul, and

Lunch with Kyle, Bernie, Luciano, Anne (a parishioner I hadn't met until today, but one with whom I had delightful conversations with). I also met Levi, Luciano's friend and roommate, who is, wouldn't you know, quite the accomplished vocalist. I got something of a headache after lunch, so Luciano dropped me off at St. Ben's at about 4-ish. I managed to get in about 45 min. - 1 hr. worth of sleep, but I'm still feeling a bit "out of it."

Anyhoo, news blurb of the day: apparently someone at the high school here is trying to get the rights for the students to perform "Chicago."

And I thought Notre Dame/Obama was scandalous.

In all seriousness, I hope THAT rumor, if it's true, spreads faster than the news of my imminent departure from St. Ben's. The high school here, low on enrollment and funds as it is, does not need a stunt like this to attract negative attention. How about putting on a play that actually reflects the integrity of a Catholic institution? It's pretty clear that a play condoning murder, prostitution, and other evils that even secular society finds abhorrent is NOT something Catholic teenagers should be performing.

Jesus, don't let my pride overcome my love for you. AMEN!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Slow week, to be sure. Confession at St. Peter's was wonderful, though I fear (should I really "fear" meeting the Lord in the Sacrament of Confession, or any Sacrament for that matter?) I may have to visit sooner rather than later.

I'm actually quite positive my necessary visit has something to do with the lack of work I've had. Even with a funeral this week, there's something about lonely rectory living that fosters sin, especially sins of impurity. I've written before about how I couldn't understand how the priests here managed to do it; even without the danger of sin, loneliness is, well, LONELY. As an introvert, I appreciate my "alone time," but the amount of time Fr. Beaven and Fr. Steve spend/spent alone here shocked me! When you add the danger of sin to mix, well...not cool. NOT cool!

Anyway, beyond that lovely little anecdote/reflection, I've been doing the normal routine of praying, reading, working, and playing. Hard to believe that as of this coming Monday I will have been at St. Ben's for 11 weeks! Incredible! I remember telling Luciano and the choir members that I was moving out on Wednesday. They seemed genuinely sad that I was leaving! Hopefully it's not patronizing; just like Anne, the rectory cook, they also asked if I'd show up on the odd Sunday here or there. Naturally, I said yes, as I have EVERY intention of coming back to St. Ben's in the future, both near and far.

Pray for me, everyone! I need it, especially as this internship (and, consequentially, this blog) comes to its end...as all things inevitably do, in God's good time. Lord, protect me! AMEN!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pretty much the opposite of yesterday. Busy, busy, busy. I pushed myself to the food pantry to find a food delivery of gargantuan proportions; Scott, the director of the pantry, said that he hadn't seen so much food in that little pantry in months.

As if the food shipment alone did discourage me (I DID NOT want to be around there past noon), I was put on "apple duty" - placing apples in wired baskets. Sounds easy enough, but it wasn't long before the apples were tumbling out of the baskets onto the floor (the baskets were placed in an slightly inverted position, so I had to be careful not to overstock them all). I'd estimate that this went on for a good hour; thank God that other volunteers showed up (including two St. Ben's parishioners: one regular morning mass attendee, as well as another frequent Bingo-goer). Despite my own incompetence and the colossal amounts of food, we finished shelving everything by 20 to 12! A new record!

I had made an appointment with Mary Anne Kufner for about 2 PM, so I got myself a little hydration and finished off that dratted final paper for this internship. Glad to have that off my chest!

Mary Anne Kufner was all smiles today, as usual. Though initially I was a little more impatient than I should have been, at some point things kinda picked up and we had another illuminating conversation about God that I really can't hope to summarize in this blog, either in one entry or in a series of entries. Suffice it to say that I am glad I have her praying for me. I actually was nearly in tears when I left; she gave me a little book of "minute meditations" from the Popes (PERFECT for me and my 2-second attention span that is just too typical for my generation!). She even told me about a special way to get a plenary indulgence: on your birthday, pray the meditation in the booklet that is listed for the date of your baptism. Beautiful. And if that wasn't enough, she gave me $10 and told me to say my first mass for her (I then asked for her label-maker so that I could put a sticker on the Hamilton to remind me what it was for!). God willing...I will do exactly that. Now, to actually make it through the next 6 years of seminary...

Dinner was fantastic, as usual; the brownies I had for dessert made me nostalgic for the "Mr. Schuman" brownies every Quigley student knows so well. :) To top it off, I finally made up my mind to go to Bingo after a quick e-mail exchange - and it turns out I was needed tonight more than ever! God works in mysterious ways, indeed, indeed. If I manage to make it to adoration tomorrow, I might something more insightful to say on that topic. For now, though, Lord, just guide me through the dark night to the morning light. AMEN

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

SLOW Monday. Mass @ 8:30, as usual, but knowing full well that absolutely nothing was happening anywhere around the parish today, I decided to have breakfast at McDonald's (which is also conveniently close to a Gamestop where I could pick up a birthday present for my brother, Martin, whose birthday is in just two weeks!). Sadly, I overspent, overate, and bought myself a game along with my brother's gift; I was determined to avoid all three of those little temptations, so I was a little disheartened to say the least. On the other hand, I have yet to play video games today; I spent the rest of the morning and the early afternoon writing a paper for school (and doing a little too much web-surfing, though less than I usually do when I've got homework on my hands!), and I spent the early afternoon reading. I did my usual "holy hour" during the Hour of Mercy, and I spent some time in the evening working a bit more on my paper, since there's no meeting tonight to speak of. I DID have the intention of speaking to Steven, the St. Benedict high school's very own receptionist (and son of the Protestant maintenance man!), but as Providence would have it, I spent a good chunk of time talking to Ann, the cook. More theology/social commentary from both of us. Sadly, I wasn't able to talk to Steven before he left, but alas, as the Jesuits say, Ad majorem Dei gloriam. All things for the greater glory of God. ALWAYS!

Tomorrow should be a little more lively if only because of my evening plans; either I go to bingo (as per my usual routine), or I accept Kyle's invite to go to St. MAry of the Angels for an evening of recollection. I actually like the latter idea more, and I don't think the folks at Bingo truly need me there, but I can't help but wonder that I'm doing too much of the "recollection" type of prayer as it is. I spend quite a bit of time in prayer and spiritual reading, but very little in ministry now that things have slowed down so much (though, on the other hand, with the food pantry being open tomorrow, I'll at least have recourse to that in the morning). Fr. Ted Ross told us seminarians on our retreat in January that we risk losing our faith if we don't exercise it. He told us the story of a young Jesuit who, despite spending hours in prayer, was beginning to suffer severe doubts about the Divinity of Christ. The solution? "Go volunteer with the Little Sisters of the poor." Problem solved.

So what was the problem there (and here with me right now)? Faith is, as the great Mark Shea says, incarnational. Faith without works is dead. Whatever happened to Jesus' commandment at the ascension to "go out to the all the world," and all the jazz? Maybe if I spent a little more time in true sacrificial ministry, I'd learn a little more about the authentic meaning of the priesthood in the process.

On the other hand, I've done bingo for just about every week I've been here; most of the time I'm either chit-chatting or handing out prize money. It's not that I dislike it or even resent it, it's just that it's completely familiar territory where "sacrificial ministry" is there in a rather vague sense.

It's all in God's hands, though. That's the number one thing I gotta keep in mind as my internship draws to a close. He died for me, rose from the dead, and is in in heaven eternally. Why the heck am I worried about petty little decisions like this?

Dear Lord, may my hope in You never waver. AMEN!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Well, it was the usual Sunday, minus me actually serving a mass for a change. I gotta admit, I KINDA only did it because I didn't want to sing (we had a visiting choir member who just kinda...overshadowed me, I guess?) and with no servers in sight, I figured I might as well put that cassock and dirty surplus to good use. Oh, and it was used, all right: one of the buttons fell off when I was putting it away after mass, meaning that I'll have to bring it to the tailor's as well as the dry cleaners' now.

I had a good breakfast with Luciano, a nice chat with Deacon Phil, and a fairly prayerful afternoon. My initial dissatisfaction with Fr. Beaven's homily (using the gospel as an excuse to tell people to "relax" seems a bit farfetched, don't you?) reached its peak when Fr. Jim from St. Mary of the Lake giving a similar homily at the 6:30 RCYA mass; after struggling with scrupulosity all afternoon during prayer (should I or should I not go to Laboure House? Have I spent too much of the Lord's Day glorifying myself on Xbox LIVE rather than glorifying God? Should I write that e-mail, or should it wait?) well, I was about ready to wring the necks of both of them.

Then it hit me: I'm a spiritual "prayer-aholic." In my quest to make sure that I'm thoroughly detached from all worldly things, I've forgotten that some good ol' fashioned R&R is what's prescribed as part of the 3rd Commandment. Instead of saying an additional Divine Mercy Chaplet, I went over to the tabernacle and just...sat there. I think it's exactly what I needed.

Sometimes I think I take St. Paul's admonition to "stay sober and alert" to be an excuse to think I can "climb a spiritual stepladder of good deeds" to heaven. This is, obviously, contrary to Catholic teaching (and exactly the kind of false work-based soteriology that Protestants accuse Catholics of believing all the time). Bored as I am right now (it's just about 9:00 PM as I type this), it is, at the very least, a good thing if I've got time to spare, especially on a Sunday afternoon. All the more time to quietly and peacefully give to God the glory and the honor and the power he rightly and justly deserves. To Him, the only One who actually deserves to be identified with such magnanimous adjectives - To Him be honor, glory, and power forever and ever. AMEN! St. Benedict, ORA PRO NOBIS!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

So Friday was technically my last day of paid internship here at St. Ben's, meaning that I could move out and screw around for the rest of summer without any repurcussions. Knowing that I have absolutely nothing worthwhile planned for the rest of the summer, though, and knowing full well that St. Ben's (maybe just rectory living in general?) keeps me on my toes, spiritually speaking, I'm sticking it out for another two weeks. Fr. Beaven has given his approval, so I'm good to go!

Didn't write an entry for Thursday, obviously, which really is inexcusable. Apologies for shirking that duty, everyone. Today's entry will cover a bit of that day AND today - how's that for compensation?

The thing is, I don't really have much to say about Thursday; I did my first Communion Service (think Mass without any consecration/orans prayer positions and/or gestures), and despite my attempts to keep myself calm throughout the duration of the service, the organist at the nursing home told me multiple times to "keep me cool." Best advice a Lutheran has ever given me!

Friday was my day off, and, as usual, being away from the rectory made me realize just how much I depend upon easy access to the Blessed Sacrament for my prayer life. Whether it's my brothers begging me to play video games or my dad asking for help around the house, I find precious little time to pray during my days off, and I usually oversleep to the point where I miss daily mass, too. At least I didn't forget to say the Liturgy of the Hours!

Today was slightly busier, though, with another Committal in the late morning and the usual 5:00PM mass in the evening. I talked with John Eckhardt again; turns out my hunch wasn't far off; not only is he from a Protestant background, he's STILL Protestant. He DID, however, mention that his son, Christopher (who I had given a Quigley Scholars brochure at 8th grade graduation in May), was certainly someone who would at least give the program a look-see, as it were. W00T! Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Luciano was busy tonight, so I've been at the rectory by myself for the evening; no "night on the town" this weekend, I'm afraid. Ces't le vi. Talking to the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion after mass was a delightful and enlightening experience I probably wouldn't have had otherwise, anyway.

Dear Lord, may allmy days be filled with Your finest blessings as You see fit to grant them. Feed me with Your Son's body and blood all the days of my life so that I may only rely on Your love. May the Eucharist, the foretaste of heaven, guide me to You in heaven one day. AMEN!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Got back to St. Ben's at about 10:00 AM this morning - it was just enough time to shower and get on the "black" to don my cassock in the sacristy later. The funeral today was scheduled for 10:30AM, meaning that I didn't have much time to dilly-dally; as it turned out, I was ready with enough time to spare, but I misheard Mike O'Malley and Fr. Egan (the visiting priest who was saying the funeral mass) in the sacristy; I thought they had both lectors and cantors with them, and alas, Luciano was caught all by his lonesome for the opening song. I managed to cantor for the rest of the mass, though Fr. Egan needed my help come communion time. Not a problem, of course, but I still wish I had managed to clear this stuff ahead of time. I don't do well with surprises.

As it turned out, the committal was a wash; the burial isn't until next week (?!?!?!), so I was free immediately following the mass. I did some reading, praying, and some video gaming in the afternoon, and after dinner (Anne really outdid herself tonight with the mac and cheese! YUM!), I had managed to drag myself away from my Xbox long enough to check out what I THOUGHT was a Theology on Tap session in the high school. Alas, I got caught by Draydyne along the way, and before I knew it, I was unlocking the church for a visiting Ohio family (and a very devout one at that! They asked me if I knew any Toledo seminarians! Matthew Frisbee, if you are reading this, Tammy says hi!). It turns out there wasn't any Theology on Tap tonight, anyway, so I guess I'll chalk up tonight as another example of God's little ways of grace working in and through the minutiae of day-to-day living. With my first "official" communion service tomorrow (here's hoping the scripture reflection I wrote does the job!), I'll need to catch up on the sleep I missed last night (Harry Potter is worth missing sleep over, but getting only 4.5 hours or so just doesn't cut it for the this 20 year-old seminarian). I did have plans to play a bit of HALO online with some friends, but perhaps that should wait...

Dear Father, don't let me forsake you in the name of convenience, "fun," or anything else I do or happen across in my life. Let my every action proclaim your glory forever and ever. AMEN!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So I woke up late (again), in part because I was tired/lazy, and in part because I knew the funeral and committal immediately following wouldn't demand that I be ready to go by my usual 7:15 AM rise-and-shine routine. Instead, I basically did what Idid on Sunday: sleep in till about 10 to 8, then shower, make the bed, have breakfast, say morning prayer/Office, etc. Despite what I thought would be more than ample time to get ready for the day ahead (I had a communion visit with Mary Anne Kufner after the committal today), I STILL had barely enough time to vest into my cassock and surplus. Fr. Beaven wanted me to lector, and Luciano wanted me to cantor. All of it came so quickly! Under different circumstances I probably would've wanted to duck out and run away!

By the grace of God, I got through the mass without a hitch, and the committal went as well as could be expected (as usual, my cassock and collar led the attendees to call me "Father" after the ceremony - makes me wonder if I'm getting too close to the whole "impediment to orders" thing). To top it off, my cassock REALLY needs to get to the dry-cleaners; there's a nasty stain on it, and the thought of doing another committal tomorrow is really kind of off-putting. I skipped out on the lunch the funeral party offered (I didn't want to go under any circumstance, but it helped to have a decent excuse) to take some time to change and clean it a bit; I went to good ol' Chicago Joe's for lunch, then went to visit Mary Anne Kufner for her weekly time with the Lord. She wanted some help with her computer, too - I'm not much with that kinda "techy" stuff, but I did try my utmost to get that darned USB drive to work. Ah well.

It was after 4PM by the time I got back, so my usual 3PM holy hour was delayed a bit; since I didn't bother to try to get into the church or chapel, I nearly fell asleep in the middle of my rosary. Note to any and all aspirant prayer warriors: stick to your scheduled prayer commitments as much as possible. It doesn't help to make things "easier" on yourself by skimping on your daily time with Christ; au contraire, it just means you'll have a harder time doing everything else. I found that out when I tried to check my e-mail after dinner. It quickly turned into blogging/facebooking, news reading, and everything else. Fortunately I ran downstairs in time (after realizing I wa 30 minutes late for bingo) to see Fr. Steve (AGAIN!). We chatted with Anne, the rectory cook, for a good 30 minutes. Anne and I also had a nice chat about various topics (including theology! Hooray! I have someone else besides John and Kyle to talk theology with!); I'm glad she's had the gumption to broach the subject. I like to talk about it, I really do!

Bingo was fun, but Harry Potter tonight should be even better (3 1/2 stars in the Trib, for anyone who cares about the reviews)! Midnight debuts are not exactly my kinda thang, but I'll make an exemption for Harry Potter, especially considering I'll be able to meet up with some Loyola friends who are eager (I think?) to hear what's going on at St. Benedict. Pray for me everyone!

O God, I am heartfully sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because of your just punishments, But most of all, because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of ALL my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to avoid the near occasion of sin. AMEN!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Well, today was fairly uneventful. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that I spent so much time writing up a reflection for a communion service I'm doing at a nursing home come Friday, I wouldn't have done much minstry-related activities at all. I saw Alex, a discerning young man at the parish who wants to start a religious community (After meeting him at Benfest, I told him that he's free to talk to me after mass or contact me at the rectory. Neither happened today, which is fine. I just hope he wasn't planning to talk to me only to have me disappear before he was finished praying!)

I also talked to John Eckhardt, one of the maintenance guys over here at St. Ben's (we've got quite a few of 'em here on the block!). He's always happy to entertain philosophical and theological conversations; today we had a short but sweet follow-up talk about death and purgatory (we spoke about soteriology briefly at Benfest). I get the sense that John is of a protestant background; I here little "hints" of sola scriptura and sola fide whenever I talk to him. I may ask him about that before I leave in the coming weeks.

I still can't believe my internship is over this week! It feels all at once like I just started yesterday AND as if I've been here my whole life. I'm glad Fr. Beaven's letting me stick around for a couple of extra weeks; I'll appreciate the "cool-down" after the tumultuous schedule I'm in for these coming days (two more gravesite committals and a communion service, not to mention a visit to a homebound parishioner!). Pray for me, everyone! I need it!

On a side note, I finally set up Xbox LIVE today! It works perfectly well with the St. Ben's wifi network, for which I am, needless to say, quite grateful. Only problem? Even with the prayer and fasting and working I did before I started, I STILL found myself thoroughly frustrated when my playtime was interrupted by a phone call and then later by dinner. Heck, one of the reasons I'm writing this entry earlier than usual is so that I can spend some time perusing through the confines of the Xbox LIVE community(ies)...perhaps it should be foregone for some spiritual reading instead. Then again, I only get the Gold membership for LIVE for so long without a fee...St. Isidore, pray for me! All you saints in heaven, pray for me! All you members of the church militant and church triumphant, pray for me! Mary, mother of God and mother of the church, pray for me! AMEN!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm tempted to make this entry the "Discernment Diary: Post-Benfest Edition" post, but after all the kerfuffel and craziness (both organizational and spiritual!), I doubt I could really type something that could adequately describe the various goings-on of those two days. I did manage to write a bit in a private journal, so I'm content with knowing that I did everything my class obligates me to do. Ces't le vi.

I woke up at 7:50 or so today and didn't get to mass until the closing song...or rather, right before it, where a pro-life missionary from Crossroads was giving a quick talk. I couldn't believe that I didn't know they were coming beforehand...it happened to coincide with the parish sparechange/baby bottle collection fundraiser for WomenCare, so they picked a good day. Holy Spirit in action, anyone? I think so. I made sure to write a prayer intention or two in their prayer journal they use as they trek across America as pro-life witnesses. More spiritual support for priests and seminarians (including yours truly, O Lord!) incoming! And just in time for the year of the priest, too! w00t!

Coming back from retreat and Benfest left me without my usual access to internet, news commentary, video games, etc. I managed to catch up a bit on that this afternoon, but I deliberately held off on it until after I had spent the afternoon over at Luciano's to see 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, a Romanian film (and a critically lauded one at that!) that depicts...abortion. In retrospect, that was quite the "theme" of today for me. Shame I binged on pizza at the Ravenswood Catholic social after the 6:30 mass today...but I did get to chat with Kyle, and, as I told him I would, his blog is *officially* added to my blogroll. I will not lie in saying that I very much hope he does the same. MY worry? That he's the first St. Ben's parishioner to come across this blog. There's stuff in here about him and many others that...well, let's just say it's probably not the kind of stuff I'd say out loud outside of a fairly private setting. I do my best to keep this blog as if it WERE a diary (as impossible as that is both practically and "spiritually," for lack of a better term). The mission of this blog is as stated, and I hope it accomplishes just that. God Bless everyone who reads this blog, and, as Fr. Beaven said today in his homily, may it, like all things, work to bring God glory. AMEN!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Food pantry was BUSY today! I'm surprised that I got out of there by 10 after 12! I though I'd be in there until 1 or later!

Lots of people at the pantry, too, most of whom area jobless and are looking for something to do. A few instances arose where my humility was tested, too, but obviosuly, that's all for the better. I managed to extend my holy hour a bit, too. All for the greater glory of God!

Bingo was particularly tiresome today. I fear that my "fast" prior to the retreat is demonstrating to others just how addicted I am to the comforts of life; I think I'm suffering withdrawal from games, the internet, news, something...maybe all three. It's strange, because I've gone without all three for long stretches of time before, without any noticeable "withdrawal" side-effects. It's especially strange considering all the extra sleep I got last night...or does that have something to do with it?

Dear Lord, may I always do what you want, when you want, because you want it. Grant me peace in doing this and everlasting joy as my eternal reward. May my retreat during the coming few days be filled with your abundant blessings. Through Christ, my Lord, AMEN!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Benfest meeting tonight; there's no "calm before the storm" here, folks, that's for sure. I talked to Mrs. Marge this morning about the volunteer situation; she was confident that she had someone scheduled for nearly every shift. That is NOT the impression I got at tonight's meeting, and I'm only disappointed that I couldn't be of more help to Draydyne and the others whoare pulling their hair out trying to sort this out. Deacon Phil asked if I was learning anything (Fr. Beaven wasn't at the meeting tonight). I'm learning how to NOT freak out, NOT run meetings, and NOT stress (thanks Carla!). To top it off, Fr. Steve STILL isn't moved out of here yet. Incredible!

This morning I had a short talk with Fr. Beaven about the EMHCs purifying sacred vessels. This quickly led to him divulging his other opinions about liturgy and other church teachings (here's a hint, without being too calumnous: he's not all that "hardcore" about church teaching on burying people in the ground). At least Celeste was pleased to have actually made it to mass.

I made it to Gamestop AGAIN today; the wireless adapter is finally mine! Now, if only I could find time to set it up...not likely, given the situation of this week (retreat + Benfest). We'll see.

I spent most of the day working on my talk/presentation for the retreat, though I did manage to visit Mary Anne Kufner again. After all the meditation I did yesterday, I wasn't going to let this opportunity slide me by! Too many good things come out of these visits to simply neglect them!

I ate dinner alone at the rectory for the first time tonight. Anne made some great pasta, though, as always.

Dear Lord, help me to only do what You want and need me to do throughout the course of the day. Let me not become proud and arrogant over having accomplished many things throughout the day, but let my weakness be Your strength. Give me courage, grant me wisdom, and above all, bestow upon me a loving heart so that I may be that which You created me to be. AMEN!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The usual Sunday rush, but a little less busy than what I've come to expect. Breakfast after the 8AM mass with Luciano, and a little bit of relaxing in the afternoon. I called my parents to talk a bit, and I also scheduled a communion visitation with Mary Anne Kufner again. St. Benedict, ora pro nobis!

The authentic struggle of human freedom ("not what I want, but what you want, oh Lord") became something of a vocal point in my meditation today. I think I should really give St. Benedict's writings a shot now; for all the talk I spout off about humility, one would think I'd bother to read the writings of the Saint whose rule for monastic life did more to elucidate the authentic meaning of humility than possibly any other Saint throughout history. I snagged a little biography of him from home a few weeks ago; after nearly finishing it today, I'm glad I did. Now if only I could emulate his life...THAT would be a boon to my vocation, that's for sure!

After last night's festivities at the Senior home demonstrated to me just how rewarding the "little things" we do really are. Instead of lounging around playing video games during the always-iminent downtime here at the rectory, why don't I say an extra rosary for the souls in purgatory? Why not start a fast of some sort to supplement my prayer diet during the hour of mercy? All of these things, if done correctly (with authentic humility - not the "do it because I'll fear better about myself if I do it" type of self-pity), foster a genuine realization that, as St. Paul said in today's second reading, that in our waekness in strength. We are only truly strong when we allow God to run our lives, even in (especially in!) the minute, little opportunities for sacrifice that appear in our day-to-day living. I only wish I had the gift necessarily to elucidate this; I think Fr. Beaven did a pretty good job of it in today's homily, though. Kudos to him!

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of life. Never let me forget that this gift is always to be dedicated to your glory. Rather than seeking out ways to glorify myself, may I always recognize that Your grace is sufficient for all of the tasks that are appointed to me throughout the course of the day. My Mary, my mother and Your mother, intercede with all of the saints on my behalf in order that I may be brought ever closer to you. AMEN!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

St. Benedict had a little "Independence Day" mass at 9:00AM this morning; I butchered the psalm (and I mean REALLY butchered it), but everything else went pretty well. At least I didn't hear hardcore American Exceptionalism preached from the pulpit. In fact, I was surprised at how tasteful the liturgy was. If only the flags had been taken down for the 5:00PM mass later today...I just don't see the point in shoehorning this stuff into the liturgy. We have our liturgical calendar courtesy of the USCCB; why not, you know, USE IT? I realize why people WANT something like a "patriotic mass," but it's coming at the expense of the usual feast of the day. We don't need yet another reminder of the secular feast of the day during our sacred liturgy, do we? If anything, we need a reminder that there's something more important than what's happening outside amidst the fireworks and parades. Am I the only one who thinks this way?

Anyway, in between the masses today, I went to Gamestop, spent $100 on new games (for which, I will gladly admit, I am somewhat...uncomfortable. Am I so attached to video games that my relationship with Christ and my vocation is suffering? I can't help but think that I had to drag out the debit card rather than choose between two games means that the answer to this question is "yes.") To top it off, I forgot to inquire about the item I actually wanted to get from the store in the first place. It slipped my mind once I saw the games on sale! UGH!

I felt far more at ease, however, on my way back. An elderly woman asked for my help with her groceries. At least I was of some use to someone after that hideously gluttonous spending spree!

As a way of reminding myself of the temporality of this world and the futility of expending all my wants and "needs" in things like video games, I spent some time in prayer and spiritual reading in the afternoon. I found this conversion story, which I promptly forwarded to a friend who, I am sure, will absolutely love it. I also read a bit about St. Benedict and his struggles with "worldly" things; I was particularly struck by his insistence that one be careful that daily sufferings and hardships are not purposely sought out to increase one's pride; oftentimes I feel that I have some "alterior motive" in my daily fasting (as much as one can consider it "fasting," anyway) that fits more into the mold of the vice of pride than the virtue of humility. I still need to learn the difference between the redemptive suffering as described in the essay I linked to above (and as described by St. Benedict, among many other holy men and women) and the ego-driven self-esteem boosters I often find myself engaging in. I ask for as much spiritual assistance as possible in this endeavor! Readers: Please spare me any extra prayers you have! I NEED THEM!

5:00PM mass was interesting; Barb, from St. Bart's, was the cantor, and I had to e the "emergency substitute" Extraordinary Minster of the Eucharist today. I think I successfully dodged any possible sacrilege, so here's hoping God found this unworthy servant to be a suitable vessel for His work today!

After mass, Luciano invited me out to a nursing home for some "charity work." Initially, I didn't want to go (those new video games seemed like a mighty attractive time waster after mass...), but recalling all the praying and reading I had done in the afternoon, I decided that at the very least, the boredom I suffered would be of use to saving some soul in purgatory (even, perhaps, my own). So I went to Vernon Hills with Luciano to sing a few Patriotic songs (again) to some senior citizens.

Little moment of grace: I narrowly dodged a peanut allergy attack on the way to the nursing home. Luciano stopped at a local Jimmy John's for some soda and potato chips. Just as I was about to take one, I noticed an odd smell emanating from the bag. Turns out the chips are cooked in peanut oil! YIKES! Thank You Lord for letting me dodge that bullet!

The nursing home was surprisingly packed. It's quite the affluent neighborhood, and the residents have their own "tropical getaway" within the building itself. In all honesty, the building is more like a hotel than anything else. I'm glad they enjoyed the rather muffled singing amidst Luciano's piano-playing. I was actually complimented by the seniors afterward in what APPEARED to be more than a patronizing manner; still another teared up as we sang the Army Air Corps theme, as she recalled her husband raising the flag at Iwo Jima (!!!!). All good gifts come from heaven above, so I must not let such moments turn into some opportunity for Satan to strike more pride into my heart. God help me!

We concluded the evening with a late dinner at a local Italian place. Luciano was visibly and audibly tired. I hope he "catches some Z's" to get his voice back on track for tomorrow. I doubt we'll get the usual choir members to show up considering the holiday weekend! There's also the possibility of no servers for the 8:00AM mass, meaning I'll have to fill in. God, I trust in Your Son and His saving power! AMEN!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Friday adoration today! Two masses (I missed the readings for the first mass, so I went to the second one at 8:30AM) to discover that, yes, St. Benedict's was having First Friday adoration, and I stuck around for about a good hour.

Fairly uneventful day after that; I did my best to make the first Friday a very holy one. I ran a few errands for Ms. Marge and Krista at the school (as usual), and I did sort of "wimp out" of a bit of work in the afternoon, but I did some reading, some praying, and even a little video game-playing. By evening, I was helping Fr. Steve and his family with the packing-up and moving out (round 2!) to St. Alphonsus.

That turned out to be a very worthwhile affair. His parents, Frank and Judy, as well as his brother (whose name, alas, I never discovered, despite our chitchat about World of Warcraft and the like), were very warm and welcoming; they seemed very pleased to have me help out with the moving and were also more than tolerant of my table manners during dinner (Lou Malnati's pizza...mmmmmmmmmm). We also got to see the fireworks from downtown Chicago atop the rectory building; a newly-accepted Mundelein pre-theology student, Julio, joined us. Because of the way the pre-theology program works, he'll be ordained the same year I will be (God willing!), so I can say I met another classmate today, as well! God works in mysterious ways.

Dear Lord, keep me safe and always in Your care. Never let me stumble into the ways of Satan. I ask this through Christ, my Lord, through whom all good things come. AMEN!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Well, today was interesting. Early mass (I finally woke up in time!), and Imanaged to make a quick phone call and deliver some mail for the good folks over at the school. Not bad for a morning's work, and I managed to check up with Fr. Steve to make sure that he was still ready and able to do some packing and moving to St. Alphonsus today.

I had lunch with one of my high school latin teachers and a fellow classmate; a jolly time was had by all, though I wish I could have said "hi" to the rest of the family, too. Oh well...prayers for all of them.

Speaking of prayers, I think I did a mighty fine job working on my spiritual life presentation for the seminarian retreat next week! Not even closed to finished, but it's a start that I'm glad I have. Too bad tomorrow is already Friday! After the brief Wednesday Six-flags getaway (I also did a few errands at the school and rectory that morning, as well), I'm not ready for the long weekend ahead! Yikes!

Fr. Steve's moving-in, moving-out meant that I had to do some MAJOR heavy lifting. I earned my dinner tonight, I'll say that. Enjoying some ice cream with Mike and Brad afterwards was a nice way of finishing off the day. I'll be praying for them as they get ready for the retreat as well!

I still can't believe it's been over 7 weeks at this internship now! I'm out by JULY 18! Truth be told, I'm not sure if I WANT to leave yet. I was already under the impression that I was finished by the end of July (not the middle of the month), and frankly, I think I'll keep it that way if possible. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. AMEN!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So today I went over to the Common Food Pantry at the Protestant Church again. Same crowd, and we finished at roughly the same time, too. Well worth it. One of the gang over there just found a job and consequently won't be returning to volunteer; another has been out of a job for a month and a half and is still looking. Prayers for her! St. Anthony, intercede on her behalf!

I returned to St. Ben's to play video games for a good 2+ hours, then helped Fr. Beaven and a St. Ben's high school student with some heavy lifting; we had to move some supplies up to the high school weight room. It only took about 20 minutes, so I had plenty of time to say a rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. In fact, I finished before the 4:00PM hour.

Dinner was an quick and quiet affair: leftovers from yesterday (and Sunday's pizza). Fueled me enough for the LONG night of bingo ahead; there were no meetings tonight (happens about twice a year, according to Fr. Beaven), so I was at bingo from the very outset all the way to the closing. Got out of that auditorium at around 10:20 - just in time to get my clothes out of the dryer, and write up this journal entry. May God Bless everyone, especially those in most need of His Divine Mercy - including my own wretched and sinful self. May He make me more worthy, day by day. AMEN!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Today was the day of the Chicago Young Republicans Grand Old Party - but I didn't go. In fact, as much as I would have liked to go to it (not to mention the meeting of the township GOP of Berwyn, my hometown), I found myself doing things here at St. Ben's that really clarify the vocation I am currently discerning and the deep sacrificial meaning of the priesthood.

I didn't make 6:30 Mass, and I got a late start after that, as well. By the time Ihad finished breakfast/lauds/Divine Office it was a quarter till 10:00AM, and I rushed over to the school only to find out (as expected) that I was not going to help anyone by hanging around there. Content to know that I had at least tried my earnest to make myself useful, I checked back at the rectory to see what the others were up to. I found a note in my mailbox - not exactly typical of a Monday morning, so I promptly opened it up to read it. Turns out that Anne, the parish grounds gardener, is out of town. She wants me to water the garden for the next two weeks! So much for lazy mornings - Mary Sue, the receptionist on Mondays, remarked that I had quite an easy job if my chief concern for the morning is flowers! I gotta admit, she's right. Anyone reading this blog knows that, too. For crying out loud, I actively lament the lack of activity at the parish to parishioners, too, so I'm sure they're getting quite sick of my complaints, as well. Time spent complaining is time not spent praying - or is it? If my 3:00PM Holy Hour is any indication (not to mention numerous psalms, the book of Ecclesiastes, etc.), "complaining" IS prayer, and perhaps some of the best prayer we can offer to God. Maybe if I did a bit more of that complaining to God instead of directing it at parishioners, I'd actually develop a deeper prayer life worth bragging about, not to mention writing about. Pray for me, everyone!

Anyone, Fr. Steve graciously invited me along to his errands for the day once he had finished checking his e-mails. By 11:30, we were off to my favorite little religious goods store (and, from what I can tell, something of a "best-kept secret" as far as lay Catholics are concerned) - House of Hansen, just a few miles west of St. Ben's on Irving Park Road. It is renowned amongst seminarians and priests for the handmade liturgical vestments; Fr. Steve was just getting his own refitted in time for his new assignment, which, if he is to be believed, starts in only a few days!

After Hansens' (I bought a book on the Latin mass! w00t!) we went to yet ANOTHER religious goods store - Morrow's, which offers a bit more in the "non-vestment" category of religious goods that Hansens' generally lacks. Didn't but anything - nor did I buy my own lunch at Panera, because Fr. Steve absolutely refused to let me do it! "You can repay the favor when you pay for another seminarian's lunch after you're ordained." Well, ok...

Our last stop of the afternoon was St. Alphonsus parish - about 2 miles south of St. Ben's. Turns out Fr. Steve is MOVING IN HERE. It's apparently the only location that "works"; I can certainly say that it terms of his living arrangements, he's got something that "works" (understatement of the year!). He's going to be living in an old former convent with all the comforts of home; let's just say that "opulence" doesn't describe it. At least he's got a beautiful chapel with a high altar and icons EVERYWHERE. He's got it made! Lucky guy...

Anyway, I also found out that a soon-to-be St. Joseph's seminarian is working at St. Alphonsus, though I didn't get to meet him. Alex, if you are reading this, good luck and God bless!

We got back to St. Ben's in time for me to finish a Divine Mercy Chaplet and a rosary before dinner; Anne, the cook, also had us help out with the leftover cake from yesterday's reception. Note to self: never trust Fr. Steve with cake. He placed the box lopsided in the fridge and the whole thing collapsed in on itself! At least Anne salvaged it; heck, I'll probably grab some before I head off to bed tonight...

Monday also means Benfest meetings, and tonight's was a doozy. Over an hour of chitchat on topics in which I can offer nothing of use; even when I try, it turns out I'm better off staying quiet (it's a good exercise in humility, though!). Dear Lord, keep my humble throughout my tenure here. Let me honor and respect the Way, the Truth, and the Life that has created all things, including ME! AMEN!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Well, it's been the usual busy Sunday. Masses throughout the morning lasting until early afternoon, with the added bonus of having Fr. Steve's reception interspersed throughout the entirety of the day. The high school was either very smart or very stupid to host its rummage sale after all the masses, as well. They set up just outside the gym entrance on Bell Street; I can't help but think that they could've done better if they had "mooched" off of the Benbuck/Benfest volunteer recruiters standing outside the church main entrance. Hopefully some of the stragglers to Fr. Steve's sending off managed to catch the rummage sale as they entered/exited through the back door to the Ackerman/Social Center, where the reception was being held.

For my part, I didn't really get to talk much to either one of the priests here at St. Ben's today, and I didn't really help much at the receptions, either. I decided to pray Morning Prayer and the Daily Office in between one of the masses, so that naturally kept me busy and away from the partying. I caught the rummage sale after helping Luciano clean up after the noon mass, and that kept me from helping out with the clean-up for the reception.

The Choir was fantastic today, or at least as fantastic as we've been for quite some time. I know on my end I was actually subpar (I can now say with some certainty that I am NOT a tenor! Baritone, maybe?), but the choir as a whole actually got some compliments from parishioners after the mass; I've actually never seen that happen before, though I don't think today is the only day our little schola deserved it. Nonetheless, I was glad to be a part of the "farewell to Fr. Steve" choir. Too bad the "farewell" for me will likely be a quiet postlude to packing away boxes in his car when he moves out later this week...perhaps taking him out to dinner is in order! I can't wait to see what Anne has planned for him in the kitchen this week...

Anyway, the rest of the afternoon was spent with Luciano and Lauren, another cantor and friend of Luciano. We went to lunch at Giordano's, which was certainly well worth it (though I will admit I was a bit too gluttonous, as usual...and to think I just confessed that sin yesterday in confession...ARGH!), but the follow-up of having to endure the hullaballoo following the Gay "Pride" parade was much worse. Lauren lives close to the parade route, so trying to drop her off was a PITA. One particular awkward moment: some parade watchers were being dropped off at a curb in front of us after Luciano had just dropped off Lauren. These two ladies, once they saw us, immediately waved their rainbow flags in glee and cheered at us. I cocked an eyebrow in my confusion to Luciano, who was immediately to my left
(I was in the front seat next to him); it didn't occur to me until after we hit the next block that they might have (and gauging by their reaction, "probably" is the better term, here) thought Luciano and I were a gay couple! I snickered a bit, then thought about the potentially scandalous situation I was in. Now, I realize that two guys together hardly constitutes scandal, and it's not like I'm running off to the confessional to confess this as some mortal sin, but this definitely stands as a reminder for the future. It's an unfortunate side-effect of my vocation that I need to be careful of what I do and say even in what appear to be innocuous circumstances. It's the same reason why priests now have to be extremely cautious when they're working with youth. One wrong step and it's lawsuit time! A few bad apples really have spoiled the barrel for the whole bunch. Pray for priests, everyone! They need it!

After watching a bit of "24" at Luciano's place (I still don't get why people like this show, BTW), we made our way over to St. Sylvester's church, where I had earlier in the day reluctantly agreed to visit with Luciano. He had a gig there as a substitute music minister; he told me that the liturgy and the priests there were wonderful. Knowing Luciano's rather refined liturgical sensibilities, I was willing to trust him, and I forewent my Sunday afternoon to attend the 6:00PM mass.

Let's just say I didn't regret it! I had heard of St. Sylvester's before, and I quickly recalled why once I walked inside: the associate pastor there was an intern at my home parish of St. Leonard while he was a seminarian at Mundelein! He remembered me, too, I think, and he asked me if I'd like to serve mass. I declined, though, once again, in retrospect, I probably should have. I did manage to get a head start on my rosary (I LOVE saying the rosary during mass!), but there seems to be little point in avoiding serving the mass I will eventually have to "say"/pray (the latter is the better term, I think!). If the sacrifice of the mass is the essence of priesthood, I should naturally desire to be as close to it as possible. Avoiding it because of fear of messing up/looking silly/wanting to do something else is NOT conducive to my vocation.

I managed to talk to Fr. Jose after mass, and some of the other parishioners gladly handed out cupcakes, bulletins, and advertisements for Theology on Tap (!!!) at the parish in the coming months. They also have Eucharistic adoration on Fridays; looks like I have another alternative to Our Lady of Lourdes for my devotional life! W00t! Thank you Lord for priests like Fr. Jose and Fr. Paul! They will be instrumental in the fruition of what JPII called the "springtime in the church," I am sure of it! They will attract converts by the truckload!

After mass, Luciano brought along Eric, a Seattle native who recently moved to the city. He cantored for the mass at St. Sylvester's, and he appeared very happy to see St. Ben's and get the "grand tour" with Luciano. He seems like a fairly devout fellow; he gives off what I would call the "Franciscan University Catholic" vibe; it's similar to what I see in the Ravenswood Catholic Young Adults group. Basically, it's my euphemism for a young, devout, but not quite "mature" Catholic. I hope that doesn't come off as too patronizing...as a 20-year-old, I probably fit into this mold myself as it is. "Don't judge lest ye be judged" knows no better recipient than yours truly! I must do better to heed it; perhaps it will lead me to solve my problems with courage and humility (there were plenty of those opportunities with Luciano, Lauren, and many others today and on Saturday). For now, however, I'll say Night Prayer and catch some shut-eye...I won't have the luxury of 6:30AM mass for much longer, as Fr. Beaven is canceling it once Fr. Steve moves out.

Lord God, never let me forget how much You love me. I love You dearly in return. May nothing ever be as precious to me as You. Keep me forever in Your warm embrace that You gave to me on the cross. May I live my life in a way that attests to this trust. AMEN!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Went to confession at my "home parish" of St. Odilo back in Berwyn, IL at 11:30-ish or so, then got on the Blue Line to get back to St. Ben's in time for evening mass at 5:00PM. I arrived at around 1:30PM, which was, unfortunately, too late to help out for the set-up for Fr. Steve's "Auf Wiedersehen" reception (I still can't believe it's his last weekend here!). I did get a chance to chat with him a little before mass; looks like the conference with the FOCUS missionaries went very well! He's going to be in good company when he starts his new assignment at the Newman Center at UIC!

My singing voice was practically non-existent for the 5:00PM mass today. I think it gradually improved as the mass went on, though. Throughout the entire mass I kept wondering if singing in the "choir" (which for tonight was just me) is really the best way to be a witness for Christ during the mass. There was no need for extra servers, Eucharistic ministers, or lectors tonight, but I wonder if just sitting in the pews would actually be a BETTER witness. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just being an attention-seeking neo-clerical seminarian; other times, I think of the excerpt from "Diary of the Country Priest" where one of the "old school" priests chastites the main character for being part of the "choir boy priest" generation. It reminds me also of the priest character from Gran Torino, a character I find to be far from the ideal priest (even if he is leagues beyond the idiot malcontent passive-aggressive, sexually perverted depictions the media tends to bestow upon priest characters in movies and TV shows these days); when I saw the movie in theaters, I saw a character that reminded me scarily of myself - in all the wrongs ways, and for all the wrong reasons. Miss Marge actually said something to that effect a few weeks ago, when school hadn't quite finished for the summer yet. She didn't mention the association in the same negative light I just did (in fact, I'm fairly certain she wanted to compliment me, for which I thank her!), but I made no secret of my displeasure in being compared to the "Father Gran Torino."

The whole "am I doing the right thing?" was especially prominent in my discernment today for other reasons, as well. Having just received the sacrament of Reconciliation, I was determined to "sin no more," which naturally turns on the "scrupulosity alert" to its maximum setting; having just arrived back at St. Benedict after a day and a half off of work didn't help things, as I felt obligated to get some meaningful work done after accomplishing virtually nothing during my time off.

Luciano invited out to ANOTHER priest's "farewell" reception at another parish after mass; I thought about it, and I fear that I did so for the wrong reasons, but I decided to stick around for Fr. Steve's reception here at St. Ben's instead. I'm glad I did, as I was able to help out with the take-down and various other odd jobs that inevitably result from these kinds of parish events, but I still wonder if I declined Luciano's invitation simply because I didn't want to go to a parish function where I:

a) didn't know anybody
b) wouldn't get back home until late;
c) wouldn't be able to enjoy the company of other St. Ben's parishioners
d) wouldn't get much to eat

As I said, it's probably just scruples. Dear Lord, protect me from the scourge of this spiritual disease! St. Louis Du Montfort, pray for me! Grant that I may find my solace and strength within the comforting caress of the Blessed Mother, as you did! AMEN!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ok, today was OFFICIALLY the shortest work day EVER. I went to the earlier mass only to be left with nothing to do after 9:30! And I actually LOOKED FOR WORK TO DO! There was absolutely nothing I was able to help out with today!

At least I got in some quality time with the Lord. It's never a waste of time to be in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus, I trust in You! Help me to relax and enjoy my (official) day off of work tomorrow! AMEN!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday, June 23, 2009

It's my brother Tim's birthday today! I gave him a cheery (albeit obligatory) facebook birthday wish, but I'll be calling him just to rub it in. Happy Birthday, Tim!

My day at work was considerably shortened today due to the second "Day of Recollection" for the seminarians involved in this "Discernment Internship" thing. Since our location for the event was St. Thomas of Villanova parish in Palatine, I had to wake up early to catch the Brown line just to get to St. Joe's in time. All in all, everything went really well; everyone seems to be doing well, though if I had to guess, everyone else, whether they are saying so or not, are suffering from the "routine" syndrome I've described so much in my blog. One, however, mentioned his particularly sticky circumstances dealing with church teaching and its implemenation in the parish. His description of the events made me happy to be at St. Ben's. Heterodoxy exists here, but it's covert. When the enemy is so obnoxious as to use in-your-face tactics in the church itself, well, you know you've got an uphill battle on your hands. Prayers for courage, Pollo! Good luck!

Anne, our cook here three days a week, made a wonderful pasta dinner tonight. Filled me up and primed me for the long but satisfying High School Board meeting. My Quigley experience compelled me to chime in on more than once occasion; however, just being an observer and NOT an official board member, I was a silent listener the whole time, with the exception of the under-my-breath guttural mutterings that I'm sure those next to me heard. At least the meeting wasn't boring (I'm looking at you, buildings and grounds committee!)

Overall, a very satisfying day, although I wish I could have remembered to pray a bit in the high school chapel after the meeting. It was probably too hot anyway...oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Dear Lord, grant me the courage to stand up for Your truth and follow it whereever it leads. Thank You for the gift of life and love; keep me grounded in You forever. AMEN!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today I:

-Went to Mass early (6:30AM!)
-made phone calls/e-mails to potential Benfest volunteers
-had lunch with the Vice Rector of St. Joseph College Seminary, Fr. Peter Snieg
-went to an incredibly long-winded and overly extensive meeting relating to the buildings and grounds of the parish
-helped out at Tuesday night Bingo (as usual)

Highlight of the day: Mrs. Marge, the secretary at the school, commented, "You're good at the phone, you're good with the computer, and you're not afraid to talk to people. I think you're going to make a good priest!" A very gratifying moment!

Lowpoint: Joe, a volunteer at bingo, called me "big guy" again today. Hrmm....

Lord, help me to take both the good and the bad of everyday and glorify You with ALL of it. Never let any moment You have given me go to waste. Jesus, I trust in You! AMEN!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

What I thought was going to be another lazy Monday turned out to be quite the clock-stopper. Even with a 45-minute nap in the afternoon, I was so famished and fatigued that I thought I was going to fall asleep at the dinner table!

Morning brought mass at 8:30AM, and I elected to have breakfast at McDonald's after chatting with Barbara at the rectory. I was curious about the nearest Gamestop location; I wasn't sure if she would even know what Gamestop is, but after she responded with details and directions of two different store locations, she confirmed to me once again that she is the "go-to gal" at the parish for directions. Thank you Barbara!

I did spend a LONG time in the shop, though. I bought one game for myself and one for my brother, whose birthday is this week. I agonized over what game to get him for a good 45 minutes. Here's hoping he likes it!

I got back to the parish in time to grab a snack and check e-mail. I decided to give Mary Anne Kufner a call and try to schedule a communion visit again. I will admit that I really didn't WANT to do it; I knew that it would easily take up my entire afternoon if I did, and I wasn't looking forward to venturing out into the hot weather again! At the same time, I knew that Mary Anne absolutely craves the Lord in a way that even this Catholic seminarian finds unfathomable. I was not going to deny her the chance to receive our Lord if she truly wanted it!

After sorting out some business with the seminary, I gave Mary Anne a call. She told me that afternoon visits would be fine, even on weekdays! Slightly disappointed (and also slightly inwardly pleased!), I managed to get the tabernacle key from Fr. Steve and head out to the Senior Center to visit Mary Anne.

I spent a good 2+ hours there. I met her housekeeper, Tiffany, who mentioned her own relative's time in the seminary. Looks like she gets alone with Mary Anne pretty well, though not in a "best friend" kind of way. Mary Anne herself mentioned something to the same effect in our conversation over the course of the afternoon.

It would be quite futile to try to recall every ounce of chitchat I had with Mary Anne, but I do think it is worthwhile to write down that I think that she is a very holy woman. Perhaps not QUITE as holy as she lets on, but this woman is doing quite a bit for the poor souls in purgatory, let me tell you! God bless her! Lord, please keep her, your servant, safe as she suffers for your greater glory!

Dinner was, as I mentioned earlier, strangely tiring. The afternoon heat combined with my time spent visiting Mary Anne left me ready to collapse; being sleep-deprived from the night before didn't make things better. At least I still managed to finish my daily rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet before I fell asleep. God is good!

Anne, our cook, seemed slightly fatigued today, as well. She didn't seem quite like herself; maybe it was just me. Her cooking was excellent, as always. God bless you, Anne!

Now, the Benfest meeting - THAT was interesting. Just when I thought that I was about to catch a break (only 4 people showing up to the meeting scheduled for 7PM? 7:15, and only 5 people are there? Can you say "cancellation?"), the people there essentially chatted amongst themselves about everything Benfest-related. Looks like I'm helping out with volunteer check-ups tomorrow; Mrs. Marge is going to need even more help than what she originally told me she would need when I saw her this morning. Hmmmmm...here's hoping she isn't stressing about this TOO much. God help her and all of us!

Lord, keep us safe from all that could harm us. May your Eucharist satisfy every longing of our hearts and keep us firmly united to You forever. AMEN!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Since I forgot to write an entry in after last night's course of events, today's entry will actually cover TWO days - hopefully it won't be too long. Given that Saturday's particular happenings weren't too time-extensive anyway, I doubt I'll be typing this entry much longer than I normally would. We'll see! Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful! Lead the way!

AFter an extended leave of absence into Saturday afternoon, I arrived at St. Ben's about 40 minutes or so before the 5:00PM mass. I felt slighty...awkward. My left ear was filled with wax and I couldn't hear myself sing! To make matters worse, this continued all weekend. Good thing I had other parish activities to keep me busy; For one, Kyle, an active parishioner (and, as I found out, a relatively recent "revert") started a "baby bottle collection" for a local Crisis Pregnancy Center. I got to help with the distribution of the "bottles" (the idea is that the parishioners will fill them with loose change and bring them back in three weeks' time)after all the masses; I gradually devised a slick "marketing" campaign, too: "Help Women! Save Babies! Just take a bottle!" turns quite a few heads, especially when a little tyke is standing with mommy just a few feet away. Now, how do we make sure they bring the bottles back? Well, we'll worry about that when we come to it.

Dinner with Luciano following the mass at 5 was...a little different. Mexican food (hadn't had that in awhile), and though things were never really "hostile," we began talking about homosexuality/gay marriage as we finished dinner. We ended up talking about it all the way to his apartment, where he was showing "Slumdog Millionaire" (great movie!) to a group of friends. I'm going to have brush up on effective ways of arguing the Catholic position on this. It's very hard not to resort to "it's spiritually/physically dangerous" or "bodily complementarity," neck-deep in theology arguments when speaking about this subject. Thank God his cat greeted us at the door, promptly changing our conversation (I've got a cat allergy, and Luciano told me that I had nothing to worry about. He was right!). The company was also quite friendly (God Bless Barbara of St. Bart's parish. From what she tells me, Fr. Jason needs prayers, too!)

Now the night out left me with little time for writing, and as I hadn't said my rosary for the day at that point, I figured that "chaining myself to God" could scarcely be a worse way of ending the day. So the rosary culminated my Saturday. I think it was a good decision! I woke up fairly refreshed despite the slight sleep deprivation, and I sang as well as I could given my condition. I probably should've served that mass, instead, though. I need to clean that cassock! It's not fair to me or anyone else that it just sits in the sacristy closet taking up space. TO THE CLEANERS IT GOES!!!

Luciano invited Rahul (the cantor) and myself out to breakfast at his favorite little joint, The Lincoln. Being Indian, Rahul had a little to share about Slumdog; but this time the "controversial" topic of the moment turned out to be abortion. Gotta say, I think I was a much more effective witness to the Truth in regards to this topic. Rahul threw out the usual "no one is pro-abortion" and "they just wanted people to make up their minds for themselves" quips, which I thoroughly rebuked. Luciano, though a slightly tougher nut to crack (he's made illusions that he's pro-life already), was speechless at my commentary about voting for a pro-abortion political candidate. After admitting that he would never vote for a pro-slavery candidate, I asked him why, using that standard, why he WOULD vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Speechless. Time to divert the subject to Sarah Palin. Le Sigh.

Anyway, the rest of the day was helping Kyle and Luciano with their respective errands. The heat of the day left me tired; when one of my gradeschool teachers, Mrs. Covington, made a surprise visit (she lives only a few blocks away from St. Ben's!), I didn't know if I was gonna collapse from the heat or the shock of the moment. By God's grace I made it through this day as all days. Bless the Lord my Soul!

I tried in the afternoon to make a communion visitation with Mary Anne Kufner again; no luck this time. She called me back later in the evening; I'll try to reach her again tomorrow. At least I was able to chat with my dad for Father's Day! Yay! I'm still praying for you, Dad!

After the 6:30PM "Youth" mass, Kyle invited me to dinner with another parishioner from the elementary school board. Being dedicated converts and reverts, Kyle and this other woman (What's her name?...Sharron?!?! I can't remember!) chatted up a storm about Notre Dame, their own peculiar "church teaching" moments (an aunt who's living in a homosexual relationship with two daughters from in-vitro fertilization...both from the same donor, but each with a different "mom." YIKES! Maria Goretti, pray for us! :/ ) Kyle also talked about his experience with Men's CHRP (the "Christ Helps Renew His Parish" initiative from the diocese). Finding men to join the group is getting harder and harder; we ended up chatting long after dinner was over, and after "Sharron" had left, too. Both of them left, from what I can tell, at least not being offended by my company, even though I didn't pay for dinner (they refused to let me pay! ARGH!!! It happens every. single. time!).

Dear Father in heaven, bless Kyle, "Sharron," the priests, and all who came to St. Benedict's for mass today. May our voices not drown out your munificence, but only serve to magnify your greater glory. Through Christ our Lord, AMEN!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nothing muh to report today whatsoever (it's my weekly day off!), but as today does mark the beginning of the Year of the Priest:

O Jesus, Eternal Priest;
keep all Your priests within the shelter of Your
Sacred Heart, where none may harm them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands
which daily touch Your Sacred Body.

Keep unsullied their lips purpled with Your Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unearthly their hearts sealed with the
sublime marks of Your glorious priesthood.
Let Your holy love surround them and shield them
from the world's contagion.

Bless their labors with abundant fruit,
and may the souls to whom they have ministered to
be their joy and consolation
and in Heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown.

O Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us;
obtain for us many holy priests.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Woke up for mass at 8:30AM, and I managed to pray the Office a bit beforehand for once. At least I managed to get back into the rectory before 9:30AM!

Breakfast today marked the last time I'm likely to see Fr. O'Boyle for awhile; he's going to Ireland for vacation for a month or so, and he's arriving back in the states just after I'm scheduled to leave!

Ah Well. Fr. Steve, Associate Pastor who is also soon-to-be-gone (less than two weeks! *sadface*) took me out to a nursing home for mass today. First time I'm seen a mass at a place like that, though I'm not too surprised how it all "turned out." I've been to nursing homes before, and I've even seen ecumenical "services," but seeing Fr. Steve trying to pray in the "orans" position with a microphone was certainly...well, novel. To think that I will have to be his replacement now that he's leaving is very humbling. The plaque the residents and managers of the nursing home bestowed upon Fr. Steve after the mass clearly does not show their gratitude sufficiently. They will miss him dearly. You are a good priest, Fr. Steve.

Afternoon turned into a few errands (both personal and church-related), and everything was relatively quiet until evening, when Fr. Steve invited me out to dinner. Italian - yum! We talked about politics, the church, the priesthood, and...wait for it...Saturday Night Live. You name it, we covered it.

Suffice it to say that I think Fr. Steve is more than a good priest. I'm not sure he's on the verge of "greatness" yet - the essence of sacrifice is there (he paid for my dinner :P), but sometimes I think he lack the courage of the Saints I'm hearing about more and more these days. More likely, it is my own lack of prudence that is causing me to reach this judgment (and I'm no model of bravery, either), and although it is with much sadness that Fr. Steve leaves St. Benedict, it will be with much rejoicing that the Catholics at UIC receive him into their "parish." I wiash Fr.Steve the best and will certainly be praying for him earnestly. I owe him that and so much more just for the dinner alone!

God, never let me forget all that has been given to me, both directly by you and through your creation. As the Year of the Priest begins tomorrow, bless all seminarians, priests, bishops, and the Holy Father with your most powerful graces. Lead us all ever closer to you. AMEN!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I must confess that I thought I would have for more to write about today than I did yesterday. One would think that meeting a politician is worth spilling ink/typeprint over - especially when that politician is the infamously pro-abortion and self-identified "Catholic" Illinois State Representative John Fritchey.

Mary Fitzgerald (the St. Ben's Parish Nurse) and I scheduled a "political tour" of the Irving Park/Ravenswood/Uptown/St. Benedict Parish area on Monday; Alderman Gene Schulter's office was the first stop on the whirlwind tour. He was and is still a parishioner at St. Benedict, though being a politician has naturally led him to attend just about every church (Catholic or not) in the area for *COUGH*pandering*COUGH* - I mean, public service purposes. I'm told he's still a member of the St. Benedict High School Advisory Board, and Helen Schott, an elderly parishioner, recalls how active he was in the parish only 2 decades ago before his Aldermanic candidacy. He's currently the Democratic committeeman for the city's 47th Ward; his office is a "triplex" of sorts that's shared not only by his staffers (he's rarely in the office, and today was no exception), but the staff of Commissioner Forrest Claypool and Senate President John Cullerton. In short, it's the political bigtime here in Irving Park, and as a pro-life Catholic who has nothing but disdain for the way in which Fritchey, Cullerton, and Claypool have acted, I was eagerly trying to find out how the political climate here allowed these guys to get elected (this neighborhood is also the political home of Rod Blagojevich and Rahm Emmanuel, as well as the newly-elected congressman Mike Quigley).

Fritchey's office is a tad farther from St. Ben's than I thought it would be (in fact, Greg Harris, the State Rep. from the next district over, has his office closer to St. Ben's than Fritchey does), and he quickly proved himself to be a schmoozy, cynical politician that I already knew he was. We arrived at his office in the midst of a demonstration; various groups protesting proposed cuts to human service programs (youth programs, senior benefits, etc.) were all gathered outside his office protesting his recent "no" vote to Gov. Quinn's proposed income tax hike. He did his best to play the crowd with lines like "we need an income tax hike" (!!!) using the excuse that the proposed property tax hike is what made him a "no" vote on this issue.

His chief-of-staff also struck me as a bit of a "tool," so to speak. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I don't buy the story of "I'm actually a chef, and I just wanted to help other people, so here I am with John, just trying to do the right thing, you know?" to be convincing. I'm sorry, buddy, but "John" just recently ran for the 5th U.S. congressional district open seat. He's not a nobody. He's a powerful politician with connections to some rather unfortunate political lobbies (like Planned Parenthood, for example). I'm not willing to buy the idea that he just recruited a chef to be his chief-of-staff. Something else is at play here.

Anyway, Fritchey himself was all too happy to speak with the non-confrontational guests such as Mary Fitz and myself (with a cameraman setting up a nice shot angle just off to the left side of us, naturally). "Oh, I love St. Ben's!" he said. "I've got Alphonsus over here, but it don't beat Ben's!" John Fritchey really turns me off. I can smell that political patronization from a mile away, buddy. You can fool your constituents, but you can't fool me.

And that's why I made sure to pray for him during my holy hour today. I realized that my disdain for this man's behavior is certainly qualified, but that disdain can't sit still - otherwise it becomes resentment and hatred. Fritchey, like so many other Catholics of all occupations, really just needs a conversion of heart. He is just one of many who lost his moral bearings and his sense of objective justice a long time ago. He needs to be renewed, just as I do. Praying for him as I meditated on the 5th Joyful Mystery was probably the most prayerful part of my day. It was worth meeting the scumbag if only for that reason. May God bless him and heal him!

The follow-up to Fritchey was a short tour of the "mothership" Senior Center. Despite the fact that the St. Vincent DePaul Senior Center dwarfs this other center in size, it seems to me that the "mothership" still offered far more in terms of service. It once again confirmed to me that Seniors in this part of the city are indeed well-off. But another question came to my mind, and Mary Fitz's comments certainly didn't eliminate the question from my mind: Why do all these Seniors need this simple, basic care? The obvious answer: they have no family willing to help them out! Just another example of the degenerate state of the family here in Westernized, consumer-driven, "Christian" America :(. May God have mercy on us!

I'm relieved that they have the care, though, even with the obvious implications of the collective failure of the faithful to obey the fourth Commandment. At least the Elementary School Board Meeting injected a bit of hope into me. I'm continually impressed by Rachel Gemo, the principal, in particular. She knows her stuff, and she's tireless in her efforts to make St. Ben's elementary as great as it can be. Many of the Board members are, as well. What's really needed at this point is some extra grace to push them along. They're not doing badly at all, but a little push on the spiritual side of things, and St. Ben's could really skyrocket! Is it a bit presumptuous of this 2nd-year seminarian to be saying so? Well, yeah. But even a second-year seminarian can tell when parents have put the cart in front of the horse, and the business "focus" of these meetings is leaving everyone there spiritually decayed. Dear God, through the intercession of Christ's Blessed Mother, show to them the glory that only you have! Take away the obsession with the minutae of business life and give to them the pure joy of You! They need You. I need you. We ALL need You! For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Jesus, we trust in You! AMEN!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nothing new to report today that I haven't written about before (Bingo, various Parish Organizational meetings, and the like occupy just about any Tuesday of any given week), though I must admit that bingo left me a bit bewildered tonight, if only due to the heat. The one "new" thing I get to write about today is my volunteer hours at the Common Pantry, located at the United Church of Christ on Damen Avenue. While I can't brag about any sort of ecumenical accomplishment (the only thing I told any of the other volunteers there was that I knew Al, a regular volunteer at the pantry hailing from St. Ben's). Long story short? I spent the better part of my morning at the pantry, sorting canned goods, shelving bread, and crushing cardboard boxes. Tedious? You bet. A little strenuous? Well, just a tad. Worth it? Absolutely!

Though I am no stranger to the world of Food Pantry volunteerism (like many other Catholic high schoolers, I spent time doing (mandatory) service hours (?) in order to graduate), I still find it strangely fulfilling. I won't pontificate about the deep theology of serving the poor and whatnot, as it is something I still need to "work out" before I can effectively elucidate it. I can say this, however: the authentic JOY of some of the volunteers at these places should be enough to make any non-believer sweat. I certainly saw that joy at the Common Pantry today in the volunteers; I can only imagine how many converts and reverts the church would gain if each of her members had this joy. Just some food for thought (no pun intended!)

I managed to sort out some tensions between the maintenance staff and the rest of the "Bingo gang" tonight, as well. I've mentioned before how they don't always see eye-to-eye; without going into unnecessary detail, let's just say that the gymnasium full of Bingo devotees will finally have it's exhaust fans working next week!

The other "bonus" of being the go-between (or, perhaps, perceiving that I'm the go-between) is that I get to do some genuine "ministry." At one point tonight one of the maintenance men started doing what I wish everyone at this parish was more willing to do: talk! And not just talk as in socially acceptable chit-chat (which seems to dominate everything and anything we do these days) Before I knew it, this guy telling me his life story!

I really dislike the formalities that come with the "conversion" process. No one ever wants to be honest! No wonder the sacrament of Reconciliation is never utilized - everyone's afraid of actually saying what's on their minds (and, consequentially, their souls are virtually impossible to get to.) I do not see how intellectual honesty can be separated from a conversion of heart. Are they the same thing? No. But I cannot have the latter without the presence of the former. How can I effectively minister to people that can't take the "baby steps" needed to walk in the reign?

Well, yeah, I know I'm part of the problem. The fact that I have to resort to writing about these issues here instead of a private diary is probably someway symptomatic of this problem. This will not keep me from begging God for the graces needed bring more souls to His side. May my own soul be saved alongside the countless others that need his mercy! I should be so privileged as to bring even ONE soul to Him; Lord, may you grant me the graces necessary to bring many souls to you, including my own! AMEN!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today was possibly the most uneventful day I've had at St. Ben's thus far. I realize that I sound like a broken record on this subject, but Mondays are quite possibly the most boring days in the life of an interning seminarian. I had literally NOTHING to do. I tried the schools, the rectory, the church...anything to get me off of my computer and help out in any way possible.

I found absolutely NOTHING, anywhere. I managed to run a few personal errands in lieu of the actual "business" of working. I thought I might actually have something to do when Fr. Steve invited me along to the Vicariate "cluster" meeting of the parish priests from the immediate area, located in the social center. I was there for all of 20 minutes before I was asked to leave (Brotherhood of Priests and all that, ya know). Even a seminarian isn't privy to that inner sanctum of information, though I don't begrudge them for not including me. My presence would've undoubtedly "censored" certain topics of conversation, anyway, so hopefully everything that needed to be said at the meeting was said. God bless our priests!

I was slightly miffed that I had to hightail out of the meeting; it's not that I'm bitter about not being able to hear anything, it's just that I was, once again, left with absolutely nothing to do! At least my 3:00PM holy hour was made all the more prayerful. Nothing like a dull and dreary Monday to make one crave the Eucharist!

6:00PM brought some much-needed changes. The St. Benedict Holy Name Society was holding a cookout; not only did this 3-hours affair keep me out of the scheduled Benfest meeting, but I got to hear some hilarious wedding stories from Fr. Steve and Dradyne (a woman from the group who coordinates the events inside the church building). Bridezilla's got nothing on the "Attack of the Wedding Paparazzi," the drunken grooms puking in the parish garden, or the nervous stepfather hiding out in the choir loft hoping to avoid the mother of the bride's wrath at his very appearance at "mommy's little girl"'s wedding. Eye-opening stuff, to be sure! It sounded like a book deal in the making - I wonder what kind of weddings I'll have to "preside" at? I'm not so naive as to believe everyone that gets married is a saintly image of heaven, but I'm also hopeful to avoid some of the awkward and embarrassing situations I heard about tonight. Fr. Steve's been a priest for all of 5 years, and he's already got "wedding stories" for any occasion. Hmmmm...well, whatever God gives me, I receive. I pray that any couples that get married on my watch realize that.

God, give me the grace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. AMEN!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another busy Sunday! I sadly woke up VERY late for the 8:00AM Mass; fortunately, servers and cantors were in no short supply, so my absence wasn't TOO conspicuous, even with the Eucharistic Procession at the end of Mass (it is the Solemnity of Corpus, after all!) The servers all did a fantastic job - including the man who had to do an emergency substitution for yours truly at the 6:30PM Mass. I had to make a quick "Communion call" to the Senior Center again. A deeply devout woman named Mary Anne hadn't received the Blessed Sacrament in quite some time and was very, very eager to finally receive Him again. She chewed my ear off for a good 90 minutes; it's not that I mind the time I spent (this woman has had 5 surgeries. That alone means that she's got some interesting stories to tell!); on the contrary, she really is probably the closest I've ever met to what many Catholics would call a "suffering soul" - someone who is, in effect, doing their time in purgatory here on earth she actually has a second-class relic that promises EXACTLY that to whoever owns it; don't take this "superstitious Catholic" stuff lightly, folks!). Between the various surgeries, constant pain, difficulty walking and using the bathroom, living with a severely mentally-handicapped daughter in need of constant care - all of the pieces are there. Yet she is HAPPY! She offers every ounce of this pain and suffering for the greater glory of God, and it shows! I felt absolutely privileged to be able to bring the Body of Christ to her on the Solemn Feast that celebrates precisely that!

Deacon Phil Bertolani wins the "best homily" award for this weekend; Fr. Steve takes second place with his excellent delivery during the 6:30PM mass, but Deacon Phil covered all the bases. Emphasizing the importance of the Real Presence and not shying away from the church as "bride of Christ" imagery makes for truly excellent homiletics. The fact that Deacon Phil lent me his "101 Questions & Answers on Deacons" book was just a bonus! :)

Lunch was pretty good today, as well - Luciano and Fr. O'Boyle took me ought to a local restaurant for a brunch buffet following the noon Mass; we stuck around till about 3:00 PM, and I got a nice little Holy our before napping at 4:00PM - I was actually very nearly late for my aforementioned Communion visit; having to track down the tabernacle keys didn't help things!

After the 6:30 mass came the real deal of the day, though - a party for Fr. Steve for his last 6:30 Mass, courtesy of the Ravenswood Catholic Young Adults Group! Pizza, pop, and cake. YUM! Having Sue, a blind parishioner, for dining company, was even better. I managed to advertise my gaming blog to a fellow parishioner, as well - here's hoping the game enthusiast finds something worthwhile!

And here's praying that God finds my conduct of this past Sunday worthwhile. May I do everything for His greater glory. Body of Christ, be my sustenance. AMEN!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Didn't get back to the rectory today until about 1:30 or so. Had traffic not been so awful (thank you torrential downpour!), I may have arrived a bit earlier, but as it turns out I really didn't have much to do until 4-ish anyway. I scheduled a Communion visit, had a bit of chit-chat with a brother seminarian, and updated my other blog a tad...but 4:00 came FAST, and with a vengeance!

Being the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and all, Luciano, the music Director, and Fr. Steve, the celebrant for the 5:00PM mass, were naturally quite busy trying to figure out how to work in the Eucharistic procession with the mass. Fr. Steve had his hands full; I'm sure he was more than a tad disappointed when I told him I was cantoring (meaning that I couldn't be Thurifer/incensor). To top it off, only 1 server showed up, and the candles we had planned to use literally fell apart when we tried to set them up! NOT cool.

But hey, I got to sing Pange Lingua, and Wyatt, our lone server, did a pretty good job being thurifer for a first-timer (and, seeing as I have yet to be a thurifer myself, I REALLY gotta give him props!). Hopefully I didn't scare him off with my accolades and constructive criticisms afterward. His dad seemed content, as well - the family recently suffered the death of a loved one, and I'm sure it's still on their minds. To any who read this blog: Please offer a prayer or two for Wyatt and his family!

I had a fairly prayerful evening till about 8:00Pm or so, when the aforementioned Luciano and Ursula, a cantor at St. Benedict, invited me out to a carnival at St. Bartholomew Parish. He introduced me to Fr. Jason (who I had met at a party the week previous), and I took the opportunity to ask him about a certain Fr. Dave Sadjak, a priest who, after a brief two-year stint at my home parish of St. Leonard, did another two-year term at St. Bart's immediately following. There have been all sorts of rumors about what exactly happened to him after that - though I was fairly close to Fr. Dave (he was my "priest sponsor"/spiritual director at my high school, Quigley) even I wasn't sure of his whereabouts since then. Fr. Jason told me what everyone had feared to be true: his father had passed away (requiescant in pace!) and that he was currently residing in Vancouver, British Columbia. He told me he'd send me Fr. Dave's e-mail; unfortunately, I didn't get Fr. Jason's contact info, so looks like I might have to do a little digging AGAIN. Ces't le vi.

God almighty, may everything I do be a testament to Your glory, power, and love. Never let me stray from you! Keep me close to You and keep me safe from all that can harm me. AMEN!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another late start today - mass at 8:30AM, followed by Lauds and a quick breakfast. Mary Fitzgerald, the parish nurse, had scheduled a tour of the St. Vincent Depaul/Catholic Charities Senior Center for 10:00AM, so I couldn't afford to mess around too much.

It turns out that Liza, the Secretary at the Senior Center, is a St. Ben's parishioner who worked at the rectory for 10 years. She was more than happy to show me around the place with Mary Fitz, and I learned enough to know that the low-income seniors in the Irving/Lincoln Park area now have a very nice to live - and there's quite a few of them! Between St. Ben's very own Laboure House, the Martha Washington home, and this particular building, you'd think there would be enough living space for any and all Seniors in need (pardon my ignorance, but I like to think that in a town so Catholic, finding suitable living with FAMILY for the elderly wouldn't be so difficult). At any rate, seniors of all varieties and incomes have housing that is structured to fit their needs at all of these locations; rent is charged according to their own income, and the facilities make me wish I was 55 or older, that's for sure. There's even the Advocate Health Care Clinic right next door. The only problem? Even with all of these locations for seniors (and more less than a mile away!) There's actually a 2-4 year waiting list for applicants already! That's how many needy seniors there are in the city?!?!? I couldn't believe it!

A few minutes before we left (Mary Fitz was filling in Liza on all the parish gossip) Liza managed to give me her business card in case I could volunteer in the future. Though I'm sure volunteering here would be a bit of a tall order (and having volunteered at a nursing home just last summer, I do know a thing or two about it already), my schedule as of late has been freed up now that's school's out. I will have to seriously consider it alongside the other option of visiting patients at Resurrection Hospital, where I visited with Mary Fitz just last week.

I had lunch with two more college buddies (thank you Melissa and Christina!), and got back to the rectory just in time to find out that I had BARELY MISSED Kevin Walsh, the high school recruitment director. We had been trying to find each other for the past few days in regards to a LAN party for high school recruitment that's scheduled for tomorrow. I went to the high school to look for him. No luck. My voicemail was also empty when I got back. NOT good. I hope I can find him tomorrow, as video games and high school recruitment is familiar turf for me. I hope he didn't decide to cancel at the last minute!

Dinner came (salmon, with a side of zucchini and potatoes pancakes...not bad!) and went, with choir practice afterward. Looks like I'm filling in for the cantor on Saturday this weekend. It's nice to have the forewarning this time, that's for sure. Bonus: We're singing both the Tantum Ergo and the Pange Lingua for Corpus Christi (There's going to be a procession, too! w00t! Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!!!), though only the latter will be in latin. No matter, the music is beautiful regardless of what language the lyrics are sung in. Lord, have mercy on me and keep me in your radiant love forever. AMEN!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

8:30 Mass again today, with nothing else following after; I had a quick breakfast and got ready for the "Day of Recollection" over at St. Hillary parish in Edgebrook, where about 8 other seminarians met with our supervisor, Fr. Paul Cao. I was glad to see all my brother seminarians again. I won't go into deep detail here, but after spending 4 ours or so I was, needless to say, very edified to hear about how everyone was surviving and discerning at their respective summer apostolates.

The rest of the day was fairly simple: A Wedding Music Rehearsal in the church began at around 8:00PM, and with the usual Tuesday night Bingo occupying the High School Gymnasium from 7 until 10PM or so. I bounced back and forth between the two, finally getting back to the rectory at about 10:30PM.

Not sure what else to write about tonight, despite the many goings-on...tomorrow looks to be another "slow" day, even with my scheduled visit to the Senior Center. Dear Lord, just help me to show up and get the job done. All things for your greater glory, ALWAYS. AMEN!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

After a very busy Sunday, I was very glad to have what was, for all practical purposes, a virtual "day off." I purposely slept in, knowing that there really wasn't going to be much for me to do early in the morning, especially now that school is no longer in session. After mass and morning prayer, I went off to the school to run some errands. I tried to find Kevin Walsh, the Recruitment Director for the High School, about the upcoming LAN party scheduled for this Thursday. He wasn't around, at outside of the regularly-scheduled mail pick-up, I really had absolutely nothing to do with my morning. I prayed a rosary and attempted to update my video game blog for the remainder of the morning. I also scheduled a visit to the St. Vincent Depaul/Catholic Charities Senior Center with the parish Nurse for Wednesday morning; I'll deal with that cross when I come to it.

At around 11:30 or so Fr. Steve knocked on my door with an invitation to come along to the Women's Center on Elston Avenue. Having been to this crisis pregnancy center once before, I was all too happy to oblige.

Fr. Steve said a beautiful mass at the chapel at the center (they recently expanded their adoration hours - it's now a perpetual adoration chapel, meaning, among other things, that the closing of the nearby abortion mill that spurred the creation of the Women's Center in the first place shouldn't be too far off. Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

I prayed a decade of the rosary with a group of volunteers after the mass, and then Fr. Steve and I went back to St. Ben's just in time to catch the tail-end of lunch with the Elementary School teachers, who were busy in their post-school year evaluation with the principal, Rachel Gemo. We mooched off some of the leftover food, stuck around for about 20 minutes or so, and headed off back to the rectory.

I had the rest of the afternoon free; I once again attempted to read "Diary of a Country Priest," but fell asleep AGAIN after only 10 pages of reading (and this during the Hour of Mercy no less!). At least I have a good sleeping aid for the lonely nights now...

The Dinner bell (yes, we have a dinner bell here at the St. Ben's rectory!) rung at about 5:30, as usual. Tonight was the first night every priest here at St. Ben's was actually around for dinner! I felt like taking a photo or something. I still don't understand why the priests here don't spend more time together. It can get awfully lonely as a parish priest, even in (especially in!) the midst of city living, which fosters a certain kind of spiritual isolation courtesy of our individualistic culture. Just how do these priests do it? Is the day-to-day contact with parishioners really so taxing as to demand some "alone time" that even other priests dare not interfere? I don't get the impression that the priests here particularly dislike each other, unless they're putting up a facade because of me. But why would I make that kind of substantial difference? Besides, I would have seen at least SOME indication by now if the priests here had any bad blood between them. St. Benedict, Ora Pro Nobis!

Following dinner, I met Fr. Beaven over a Benfest meeting (the annual fundraiser/block party for the parish and schools); lots of interesting exchanges, but my favorite comes from a woman remarking about managing the scheduled outdoor mass with the scheduled appearance of a clown for the younger ones in another area of the parking lot. The group was trying to figure out just where exactly the clown could be during the celebration of the mass. "Can the clown help out at mass?" was her semi-facetious query. Deacon Phil, who was sitting right next to me, immediately burst into a bout of nervous laughter. I have a feeling both he and I were sharing the same pretentious anxiety about the liturgical nightmare that could envelop with or without the clown's participation. Oy!

In the midst of the automatic volunteering that inevitably becomes a part of being the parish's resident seminarian for the summer, I'm apparently signed up to help out with the "water and pop" tent at Benfest; Deacon Phil gave me some good pointers, as did a couple of the other attendees at the meeting. Not being particularly big with manual labor and checklist-variety maintenance work, I gotta admit that this particular job looks like it could be more than I bargained for. Already the butterflies are soaring in my stomach at the thought of having to deal with rude drunkards and noisy kids, with my hands chaffed with freezerburn as my skin boils beneath the sweltering summer sun. No doubt I'm going to have to learn to "let go and let God" in this situation and many others throughout the course of my life; trust in the Lord (which is really just a layman's way of citing the theological virtue of Hope) must take deeper root within me if I am to be an effective priest, or an effective ANYTHING, for that matter.

O God, I am heartfully sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because of your just punishments. Most of all, because I have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love, I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin. AMEN!