The Devil Waits Outside the Church

The Devil Waits Outside the Church

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.

devil waits
St. Michael and the Devil

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.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Mother Mary’s Garden

mother marys garden

An invitation

to hear the cousins play at a tiny church festival in San Luis, prompted a leisurely drive back. We took Highway 159 toward Taos, NM, to County Road P, toward Manassa. Mother Mary’s Garden is tucked away on the left. We parked outside the gate and walked in.

mmg rock and flowers

Mother Mary’s Garden

is a non-denominational, spiritual oasis. Susan and Milt Sanderford were inspired to create it after a trip to Medjugorje, Bosnia. Because of its location, in the middle of the high desert of the San Luis Valley, it is peaceful and serene.

statue mother mary

I enjoyed wandering the gardens. Yet I wondered where they got water. I found it noteworthy that this off-grid shrine has a well, with solar-powered timers for watering.

ceremonial firepit

Pathways

radiate from the iconic statue of Mary in the middle of the garden, to each of the 7 gardens surrounding it. Plenty of scattered benches provide room to rest. In addition to 2 labyrinths, the gardens include a stone circle, a fire pit circle, a medicine wheel, a healing grotto, and a star child circle.

labyrinth

Walking the labyrinths

and strolling the paths is refreshing. The wide expanse of Alpine Valley surrounding Mother Mary’s Garden is soothing to the spirit. Vast, silent mountains provide the perfect setting for meditation and centering.

Afterward, I breathe deeply of the fresh, mountain air and soak in the warm sun as I enjoy the covered swing. Such a lovely, secret garden in what can sometimes be a harsh, unforgiving land.

Plan your pilgrimage:

http://www.mothermarysgarden.org/visit.html

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Carrick Ministries – Catechetical Artistry

 

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Theotokos!

Theotokos.  The very word conjures up a fiery, terrifying Galadriel-like image that exudes power.  Not the humble, Middle-Eastern peasant maiden, lying on the hard barn floor, next to a manger in which she has just lain her swaddled newborn, that she may have a few moments rest from the labors of childbirth.

Theotokos, Greek for “God-bearer”, is one of the titles we Catholics give to Jesus’ Mother.  The one we celebrate on January 1st.  Though my own image of Mary is far more human.  

There is a theory that Mary did not experience labor pains, but that Jesus issued forth from her womb painlessly, closing it back up behind Him, angels attending them, while Joseph was off doing something foster-fatherly.  I have a problem with that.  I have far more respect for a Mary who experienced all the physical, emotional and hormonal difficulties that we women do, yet, in her perfection, was able to master her responses and act in a holy fashion.  The Mary who stood in agony at the foot of the cross, dying inside as her son died physically.  The Mary who “pondered these things in her heart” for 3 days and was the first to rejoice in the resurrection.  The Mary whose only goal has ever been to lead us to her Son, not to garner worship and praise for herself.  This is the woman I can call to when I am suffering.  The woman whose life I can meditate on when I need direction in my own.  The queen whom I follow.

My Theotokos.

Happy New Year!!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

The Family Rosary

Lately my 9 year old has been wanting to say the Rosary as a family.  I am thrilled with this new development, as I have been trying to encourage it for years, but I wonder what has brought it on.  Naturally, he has several fairly nice rosaries, as well as some funky plastic ones.  He knows how to say the Rosary, as we frequently say it in the car (with or without his participation) and it is said before Sunday Mass at our church and at the holy hour we attend on Thursdays.  Yet, this family Rosary has been instigated at his request.

He does have a special intention – the healing of his 9 year old cousin who is having open-heart surgery in a few weeks.  But why this particular prayer method?  I can only think that, in addition to divine inspiration at work in his heart, all our family discussions, in which there are many disagreements, seem to meet in agreement on one thing – the power of praying the Family Rosary.  Thanks be to God!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr