Monday, November 30, 2009

Novena to the Immaculate Conception

For the past several years, St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Chicago has hosted a Novena to the Immaculate Conception.

The Novena consists of a nightly Rosary and a Mass in which the homily focuses on a particular aspect of Our Lady—Cause of Our Joy, Health of the Sick, Mother of Fairest Love, etc. And, as is the custom at SMA, other priests hear confessions before (and, as it inevitably happens, during) Mass.

This Advent custom is something we always look forward to, as Jocelyn and I attended most nights of the Novena—shortly before we started dating—during our senior year of college ten years ago, when it wasn't nearly as well attended as it has been in recent years. (St. Mary of the Angels is also the church where we were married.)

This year's celebrants include Cardinal George, Bishop Joseph Perry, Bishop Francis Kane, Fr. Frank ("Rocky") Hoffman, and the one and only Fr. Richard Simon.

With our increasingly large family, it's harder for us to go as often as we'd like, but we're always able to make it at least one of the nights. If you're in the area, I'd encourage you to do the same—or, better yet, to go more often.

The Novena starts today, November 30, the feast of the holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle Andrew the First-Called.

The full schedule is here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

A few weeks ago I discovered that dialing a phone number within the 773 area code now requires dialing 1-773 before the number.

I totally missed the memo on this.

Still now I only remember to do it about half the time, and thus my ear is not infrequently subjected to a really annoyingly loud beep that reminds me of my memory failure.

Apropos of this, I can't help but call to mind a scene from the Simpsons episode, "A Tale of Two Springfields".

You can watch it here — the scene runs from about 2:25 to 3:15.

In Honor of Tomorrow

...because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Eucharist means "Thanksgiving":

(HT: The Ironic Catholic via Catholic and Enjoying It!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Well, Not Quite...

So yesterday afternoon, Lucy (our four-year old) was in the kitchen, and wanted to tell something to Cecilia (our five-year old), who was in the dining room. So she asked Joey (our two-year old) to go and get her.

To which I asked, "Lucy, why don't you just go and tell her yourself?" She replied, "Because big people are supposed to tell little people what to do. That's what Mommy said."

I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the discrepancy between what she remembered about what she had been told and what she had actually been told.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Do Something Beautiful about Death

Yesterday, we attended the visitation for one of Jocelyn's relatives who died suddenly while visiting family in the Philippines.

The week before last, we attended the funeral for the brother of a friend of ours who had been sick for some time.

I always have a hard time talking to surviving family members at times like these, because I'm never sure what to say. It's for this reason that I was particularly touched this morning when I read Father Anthony Brankin's reflection in this week's bulletin [PDF], because it's exactly what I needed to hear.

Our local parish, St. Odilo, is the National Shrine of the Poor Souls. And, this being the month of November—the month of the Poor Souls—Fr. Brankin wrote about how and why we pray for the dead.

These thoughts in particular spoke to me:

We can actually do something for those who have died. Rather than stand by helpless and mute in the face of the death of our loved ones, Our Lord has provided a means for us to help them.

Has your father or mother died? Your spouse? Your grandparents? Your best friend? Perhaps (or probably) they are in Purgatory. Can you imagine their joy in Purgatory when Our Lord comes to them and tells them that you gained a plenary indulgence for them and they can now enter heaven. That’s how I imagine it.

And not only did we help them get to heaven by our prayers and indulgences, we help ourselves by feeling their very living presence in the very act of praying!

What a great month - November - a month that provides us so much opportunity for meditation on death, as well as an opportunity to do something beautiful about it.

These thoughts are what I needed to hear because they reminded me about what the Catholic Church is all about—namely, that there is really only one reason why the Church exists, and that is to help her children get to heaven.

And we, as her children here on earth, have it as our calling to assist her in her duty, despite any feelings of unease (or worse) we may encounter along the way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"What Does It Mean, Really, to Be a Catholic?"

Reading Bishop Thomas Tobin's letter to Rep. Patrick Kennedy, I couldn't help but call to mind this comment posted a few years ago by Dale Price on Amy Welborn's old blog in regard to a column by another member of the American episcopate:

Holy Deus Lo Volt, Batman!

Usually I need coffee reading a bishop's column. This is like eating the beans straight from the bag.

To see a bishop publicly rebuke a Catholic elected official in his diocese who blathers that it's no big deal that he disagrees with the Church about abortion is, to say the least, a breath of fresh air. All the more so now that one of his congressional colleagues has floated the idea that the Catholic Church should be stripped of its tax-exempt status.

Here's hoping there will be more shepherds like Bishop Tobin who will lovingly yet firmly tell the pro-choice elected officials in their dioceses that they need to go to Canossa.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I said last week I'd be posting pictures of the kids in their Halloween costumes.

And so:

The oldest four, as you can tell, are the four seasons. Joey, on my lap, is wearing a sun for Summer; Cecilia, as a flower, is Spring. Teresa is a Snowman for Winter, and Lucy is a tree with leaves-in-the-process-of-changing-colors for Autumn.

Jocelyn did an admirable job making their costumes, no?

And I'm Frankie Valli. Get it?

Mine was not exactly the world's best costume — all I did was search for some Frankie Valli pictures, and, with the help of a wig, tried to appear not entirely unlike him.

Jocelyn resurrected one of her costumes from yesteryear — to wit, Super Joce. And A.J. was a pumpkin:

And here's a picture of the kids in their costumes — once again, made by Jocelyn — at the Saints Party they attended last week: