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!