She arrived during the homily. Walking right up to the statue of Mary Help of Christians, crowned with May flowers and lovingly arranged her small spray in the Virgin’s arms. She genuflected, then crossed to the altar and prostrated herself, before proceeding to sit on the other side.
I recognized her from 6:30 am daily Mass and from the food pantry. I had suspected for some time that she had some kind of mental illness and was perhaps homeless. Though of late, she had been fixing herself up and dressing with more dignity.
My dad, who suffers from dementia, had had a rough week, which I attributed to the heavy overcast. Therefore, I also attributed her strange behavior to that as well. It was the first time I had seen her exhibit such a level of inappropriateness during Mass.
When she went up to serve as a Eucharistic Minister, there was more bowing and prostrating. She held the chalice on the crown of her head and then kissed it. She did offer the Blood of Christ appropriately to the faithful. But when she returned it to the table at the side of the altar, there was more show, and putting it on her head and such. Finally, Father spoke a few quiet words to her and removed the vessel and cloth from her hands. She submissively returned to her seat, with no further exhibition.
All this was difficult for me to observe. I wanted it to end, to not distract me from the Mass. I was irritated. It was wasting my time and distracting me. I was not feeling loving or kind. I realized this and forced myself to be patient.
It was the comments I heard after Mass that angered me. “Someone needs to get that woman off the altar. It was sacrilegious!” Yes, I believe she does need to be gently corrected, perhaps guided into some other area of ministry. Nevertheless, I must take issue with this.
For years now, I have watched this congregation shunt its elderly, disabled, and mentally ill to the side. Even out the door. Making them feel unwelcome and unwanted. Shame on you.
You boast of a school to form young Catholics but then you disrespect the ones who worked for decades to build this church and that school. Who gave of their time, their talent, and their money. Shame on you.
You too will be there. How will you feel when people push you further and further to the door? Did the patron of your parish love his boys but not his parents? Did he tell his mother that he did not need her anymore because her abilities were lagging? Is it only the children and youth who are welcome in the kingdom of God? People can serve many different ways. It is sad when the community only selects the bright, the beautiful, and the young and then complains that there is not enough help.
I have not seen her since the incident. I hope she has not shaken the dust of this community from her shoes. But I fear she has. May she find the love and acceptance she deserves.
The devil does indeed await us just outside the church. We must strive to continue to be the Body of Christ to the world, starting with each other.
Just in time for the holidays, Joan of Arc joins Saint Therese Lisieux in the Dolls From Heaven Collection. Presenting the Catholic answer to American Girl dolls, each 18″ saint has her own storybook and accessories, which can also be ordered separately. These dolls are a great way to help teach your children, godchildren and grandchildren Catholic values and immerse them in Catholic culture.
Flaxen-haired Joan comes ready for battle, dressed in armor. What a role model for young girls today, who must fight to maintain their dignity and self-respect in a hedonistic culture. Joan’s commitment to the Sacraments, clean language, and decent living is refreshing in today’s culture of pleasure, foul language, and self-importance.
Joan’s cape, flag, medal and prayer card are also available. She also has a cloth body and moveable vinyl head and limbs.
Parts of Joan’s story appear on the Dolls From Heaven blog. So do parts of Saint Therese’s. We study the saints to learn how and become inspired to live better lives. What a fantastic tool to help not only our children but ourselves, to become stronger and more faithful Catholics.
Dolls From Heaven is a Catholic mom and pop business. Although most of the doll itself is outsourced, some of the product is manufactured by the Kiczek family, themselves. They are avid participants in the pro-life movement and practicing Catholics. You can read more about them and what inspired them to create Dolls From Heaven on their website.
Dolls From Heaven are special gifts. With Christmas coming up, now is the ideal time to order yours. Don’t forget Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, and Birthdays.
My home church has been welcoming itinerant musicians for as long as I can remember. St. Anne’s is a small mission church, 50 miles from everywhere in Northern Arizona. When I arrived here, there was a choir and an organist. Within a few years, that entire group had moved on and I became the organist and choir director. I was able to recruit a guitar player who handled the Spanish speaking music. We work well together. He holds the music together now, and graciously welcomes me to join him whenever I am back in town. For years, we have welcomed any musicians traveling through to join us. We have been blessed with some beautiful voices and instruments through the years. We are so hungry for beautiful music. Our pastors have graciously smiled upon this. In such a small community, we are totally dependent upon God’s merciful provision for our spiritual needs. There was even a period of a few years that we relied upon visiting priests only, as we didn’t have a pastor assigned to us. Even then, the Sunday without Mass was rare.
I miss my music ministry when I am on the road. So I am eternally grateful to join in whenever I can. And eternally grateful to step back in as though I never left, when I am home. There are times when I need to sit back and soak in the music ministry of others. But a musician sings and plays, a writer writes, an artist creates because they must. We are driven. It is life to us. We must share or die. And if we die sharing, then life has been good.
In the few years since I last reviewed Carrick Ministries, their focus has broadened and evolved so much that I thought it was worth another mention. Julie is still singing, writing songs, touring, and doing parish missions. Carrick Ministries has also teamed up with a number of other artists, such as Leighton Drake, another fantastic artist/minister I reviewed previously. This enables Carrick Ministries to offer a number of parish missions, events, and even a diocesan Catholic Women’s Conference, coordinated by the team.
Event choices offer themes of: Divine Mercy, Discipleship, Using the Sacraments in our daily lives, “Living Our Creed”, “Living the Mass”, and Marriage. All events are elevated by Julie’s inspirational music and exquisite voice. Dates are still available for Memorial Day Weekend, through October 4th. See Carrick Ministries website for further information and to schedule your event.
An interesting addition to the offerings is the “Gathered in Grace – Women’s Conference”. This is fully coordinated and presented by Carrick Ministries, who will work with your diocese in scheduling, managing and promoting it. The conference offerings include: 2 presenters, Julie and one other; music; materials to help get your conference set up and print ready materials for promotion, as well as a broadcast-ready Public Service Announcement. For more info, testimonials and to schedule your conference, see Carrick Ministries website.
Finally, I cannot help but recommend Julie’s amazing music. Her recordings include Catholic favorites as well as her own compositions. Her voice was exquisite before her bout with a rare and insidious form of lung cancer, and she came back even better than ever. Her personal struggles, reflected in the songs she has written, touch every one of us who have experienced the same or similar struggles. Her faithful reliance on Jesus and “Mamma Mary” is a light of hope for all of us looking for the answer to making it through the trials of this life. Carrick Ministries is now offering Julie’s music in 10 CDs, 3 DVDs, a songbook, and a complete boxed set.
2016 is starting out with sunshine and mid 60’s in Southern California. Not as warm as I’d like it, but not as cold as we’ve been. We’ll be heading back to sub-zero temperatures soon enough, so time to soak up that sun!
We’re enjoying time with family and friends; reviewing what worked and didn’t last year, and making plans for new projects this year. Two things in particular for Catholic Traveller: the first is to start offering “Pilgrim Guides” to specific areas. The first will be “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Grand Canyon”, currently in the works. Sign up for updates via our FREE newsletter, Catholic Travels, in the box to the right, or on any page of the website.
Our other major project for the year is to start posting short, travel related videos on our long, inactive youtube channel. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but it is a lot of work shooting, editing, and polishing videos! Updates on that will also be included in Catholic Travels newsletter.
We hope you, too, are enjoying time with family and friends, and making exciting plans for 2016! Don’t forget to plan time to make a pilgrimage, even if it is just to the Holy Doors of the nearest consecrated “pilgrimage church”.