31 October 2009

In honor of the day

"The saints are the true bearers of light within history, for they are men and women of faith, hope and love."

- Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est 40

Relic soon to be enshrined

Ashley, the daughter of my Hawaiian friend Easter, who blogs at, among other places, A Tribute to Our Priests, posted the following picture to her Facebook page:

It shows the location in the Honolulu's Cathedral of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, where the relic of Saint Damien of Molokai will be enshrined during tomorrow's observance of All Saints Day.

Ashley comments that in addition to the expected 1,200 members of the faithful, some 13 Bishops and 1 Cardinal are also expected tomorrow.

The shrine itself appears to be made of koa wood, a highly prized wood on the islands. To either side of the shrine stand two feathered kahili, a symbol of royalty once carried in procession before the Kings and Queens of Hawaii.

I am very much looking forward to returning to the Land of Paradise to pray again before the relic of this holy priest.

Those of you in Hawaii: do take lots of pictures for those of us who cannot be with to celebrate.

Oh, think!

A few moments ago I returned to the rectory from a errand-running trip to Springfield where, it seems, a great many people are not thinking properly today as they run their own errands. I encountered nothing out of the ordinary, just people parking their carts in the middle of the aisle; having lenthy conversations with several shoppers clogging up the crossroads, as it were; and people who have simply forgotten the rules of the road. The difference this morning seemed to be the larger numbers of such people.
Each of these things always annoys me greatly - I'm sure one day I will rant here about it - so I collected what I needed as quickly as I could.

When I sat down at my computer to briefly check my crops on Facebook's Farmville, I noticed an advertisment for a line of Christian clothing: NOTW.

The acronym stands for Not of this World, taken from John 17:16, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

This line of clothing appears rather stylish - at least to these eyes - and seems to imitate much of the kind of the clothing that can be found in shops today. Does anybody else see the irony of this?

It seems someone else wasn't thinking very clearly today either. How is it possible to claim not being part of this world when your very dress says you are quite caught up in it?

30 October 2009

Parishioner registration forms

Looking through the parish office files, we do not seem to have a form for new parishioners to fill out.

If you have such a form for your parish (and wouldn't mind me using part or all of it), would be so kind as it to send it to me at daren[at]servantandsteward[dot]com? Thank you!

On a dreary day, consider this

Charitable giving

The weekend of November 21-22 will see the annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

In a memorandum dated October 2, 2009, The Most Reverend Roger P. Morin, Chairman of the CCHD, assures his brother bishops that although the CCHD has in the past funded groups - such as ACORN - that have contradicted Catholic teaching measures are in place to ensure the CCHD does not fund such groups at the present time or in the future.

Indeed, "you can assure your people," he writes, "that this will be the third CCHD collection in which no funds have gone or will go to any national or local ACORN structures." The CCHD was founded in 1969.

What is more, the CCHD "takes seriously any allegation that groups we fund are not in compliance with Catholic teaching, or are participating in partisan political activity."

Many of the faithful remain concerned about contributing funds to the CCHD.

A friend passed on this suggestion to me for those with such concerns: contribute instead to Aid to the Church in Need, a group endorsed by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II.

Heart to sea?

Thomas, The American Papist, keeps his eyes and ears open to just about everything, including.

This morning he points us to a t-shirt being sold by Old Navy:
This shirt is part of Old Navy's "heraldic graphic tees." Curiously, three other colors of shirts are offered, but their graphic, though identical for the three colors (gray, black and white) differs greatly from this one.

29 October 2009

A day and a half

After spending yesterday morning taking out the trash, I went to the fitness club I recently joined for my initial visit with a trainer to see how healthy I am and to discuss my fitness goals (which basically consist of keeping my arthritis at bay as long as possible).

I wasn't particularly looking forward to the appointment because I knew I was to be subjected to several tests, which I presumed would be unpleasant at the least. My expectations were, I'm happy to say, quite unfounded.

The trainer, Max, was very friendly and did not torture me at all. The tests were simple and I made an appointment to go through the results with him today and to show me around the equipment and offer a plan to strengthen my joints without putting too much stress on them.

Last evening, I went trick-or-treating for canned goods with the high school PSR students (all two of them last night) at St. Patrick's in Girard. It's seems most of the high school students were sick but we did well enough with our collecting, nonetheless.

This morning my secretary and I worked for a good length of time on the bulletin for the two parishes, trying to find a better way to organize the information. She had been doing part of the bulletin and I did another part of the bulletin, without using the same template or format or communicating with each other, really. When we were both finished, we combined our sections together. We both realized how inefficient this process was and that it wasn't working very well.

After getting everything in order I thought I saved the file to my flashdrive, but when I went downstairs to show her, I discovered I must not have saved it and so I started all over. The whole process took a good three hours. Oops.

There is still some work to be done, but it looks much improved over the last couple of weeks. One small step at a time.

I'm not sure if it's stopped raining for more than fifteen minutes today. My knees have been lightly throbbing all day because of it, so I rescheduled my appointment with the trainer for tomorrow afternoon. My knees smply did not want to go outside, much less sit in a car, and past experience has told me exercising on such a day is just unwise. Hopefully tomorrow will be less rainy.

Instead, I spent the afternoon in the rectory sorting through papers and working on the initial set up of a filing system for papers relating to the two parishes. It's getting there. Again, one small step at a time.

This evening I began work for a Kairos retreat I will be on in a little over a week. I've given this talk before, but it's always good to give it a fresh look and revise. This time I decided to start from scratch and am happy with the progress I've made.

I know I've neglected a good deal of correspondence over the last couple of days. I'm sorry, and I promise I will attend to it in the morning.

For the time being I'm going to read a book and go to bed early.

A call to arms

...figuratively, that is.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling upon pastors across the country to publish an insert in every parish bulletin this weekend urging the faithful to tell their elected officials to remove abortion funding from the healthcare bills.

They've even set up a handy page to e-mail your senators and representatives. All you have to do is provide your contact information.

Let's get to work.

Anti-Catholicism? Really?

The Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, highlights the thread of anti-Catholicism running through the media, citing a few recent examples in the pages of The New York Times.

His blog post is a Letter to the Editor he submitted to the Times; it was rejected. I've had a similar experience in the past with the print media.

On Halloween

Over at The Catholic Thing, Sally Thomas comments well on the drama of Halloween:

What their costumes are is less important than the fact that, for a night, my children will be people other than themselves: each of them will be someone who, regardless of real-life fears about the dark, is not afraid to step out into the night. Armored inside their personae, they can laugh at the shadows, as well they should. On the one hand, the powers of darkness are no joke; on the other hand, although Christians have no traffic with these powers, we do not fear them [more].
Be sure to have a read.

Update: The above link has now been corrected. Apparently Sally Thomas wrote this piece not at The Catholic Thing, as I initially said, but at First Things. My apologies.

28 October 2009


While driving around Springfield yesterday afternoon in the course of running several errands I may have found a new favorite restuarant: Hawaiian BBQ at 2355 West Monroe Street.

The restaurant offers traditional Hawaiian plate lunches and even serves mahi mahi. I was very pleased with my meal last night and I fully expect to return there often.

Even the menu looks as though it should be in a Hawaiian mom and pop diner. Be sure to check it out!

All in a day's work

So...what did you do today?

27 October 2009

A brief update

Here's a quick post just to say I'm still around.

I've been busy around the rectory lately, sorting through old things, tossing things out and trying to organize things. A good, solid dent was made yesterday in the secretary's office and in an upstairs closet, but there is still much to be done.

Last week found me travelling to Chatham, Franklin and Carlinville to hear confessions for various retreats in the area. The trees in central Illinois are beautiful right now, though I fear the leaves won't long be on the trees.

This evening I joined a fitness club in the hopes of fighting off some of the effects of winter I can already feel settling in. As I slowly settle into the rectory, a daily schedule or routine is becoming easier and I hope to soon add exercise into it.

This evening I had a delightful time with the parish choir preparing for Sunday's celebration in honor of all the Saints.

Now I'm off to bed and I hope to post more tomorrow. Thanks for your patience, and know that regular blogging will resume soon, I promise. Tomorrow I'll tell you about a new restuarant I found this evening.

22 October 2009

Meetings, meetings, and more meetings

The Pastor of a parish is responsible for a great many things, most of them spiritual and liturgical. The Pastor shares in the ministry of Christ the High Priest in his functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing in the name of the Bishop. Within the governing function is the care and administration of the parish's temporal goods.

Yesterday the Offices for Finance and Insurance hosted a few of the new pastors to discuss these issues. The scheduled four-hour meeting (including a lunch break) turned into a nearly five-hour meeting (working through lunch).

I learned I have much to do here and to set in order. My secretary and I will be devising a filing system and setting to work, a very daunting task. We will certainly be calling upon these offices frequently in the coming weeks.

After these meetings, I met with the Diocesan webmaster who will soon be developing a new web site for the parishes here, once I answer his five-page questionnaire.

Last evening I met for the first time with the high school PSR students down in Girard and spoke very briefly with them about the Saints. I will be teaching their class most Wednesday evenings and used last night really as a time simply to chat. I'm looking forward to working with the group.

Today I have been invited to attend the meeting of the Catholic Medical Association in Springfield. I had planned to do so but the rain that has yet to fall is claiming hold of my hips, making sitting for long periods of time most uncomfortable. So today I think I will begin the process of organizing paper work, and perhaps attend the convention tomorrow and/or Saturday.

21 October 2009

On the air waves

Tomorrow morning (Thursday), listeners in the Effingham area will be able to hear William Bence and I about 8:00 a.m. on WCRA AM 1090/FM 104.7.

20 October 2009

Ut unum sint

On the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus Christ prayed "that they may all be one" (John 17:21). Such unity has been splintered greatly in past centuries and is a cause of scandal for many. The unity of Christians must be in our constant prayers.

The Holy See today announced the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will issue an Apostolic Constitution to create "personal ordinariates" for members of the Anglican Communion who seek full, visible communion with the Catholic Church:

In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.
This is very good news indeed. This morning true ecumenism has taken a large stride forward. You can read the entire text of the announcement - together with Father Zuhlsdorf's comments - here.

Let each of us take up the prayer of Christ the High Priest "that they may all be one," and let us pray for all people seeking union with the Church.

I wonder if this will come up this morning at the meeting of the Virden-Girard Ministerial Association.

Update: Father Zuhlsdorf also comments on the joint statement of the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

19 October 2009

Have relic, will travel

Because of his many years of service to the people of Hawaii, the Diocese of Honolulu is home to many second class relics of Saint Joseph Damien de Veuster, but when His Excellency the Most Reverend Clarence "Larry" Silva returns to the land of rainbows, the Diocese will be in possession of two first class relics of the Hero of Molokai.

There are three classes of relics. The first class is an actual piece of the saint, be it a piece of bone, flesh or a strand of hair. The second class is an object used by the saint, be it a piece of clothing, a pen, a prayer book, etc. The third class is a piece of cloth touched to a first class relic.

Since 1995, when the Servant of God Pope John Paul II beatified Father Damien, the Kalaupapa settlement has been the home of the right hand of the Leper Priest. It is in the grave of the priest on the island of Molokai.

When he was in Rome for the canonization of Father Damien, Bishop Silva was given an additional first class relic of the saint: his right heel bone:

Currently, Bishop Silva is stopping off in a few cathedrals on his way to Honolulu to allow the faithful to venerate the relic.

The relic will be enshrined in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Queen of Peace in Honolulu of the Solemnity of All Saints, November 1st. How I wish I could be there!

Mass, balloons and elves

One of the many things priests often consider is the size of a congregation at any given Mass. Sometimes the number of people attending Mass is consistent and sometimes it is not.

This isn't an issue with which I am confronted, probably because the Catholic population in Virden and Girard is not very large, only about 35% of the total population in the two towns, neither of which is large (I have noticed that, as the week goes on, the attendance at daily Mass contributes a bit, but that is largely expected as few people like Mondays). But it is something a priest in a big city like, say, Cleveland, would encounter from time to time.

Exactly why the size of a congregation at any given Mass on any given day might be largely than usual is anybody's guess. Fr. V., over at Adam's Ale, put it this way:

It is a little like tossing an oblong water balloon in the air that grows large at one end at one moment and the shrinks to almost nothing the next as all the water surges to another part. There could be a game involved, nice weather, or an elf stubbing his toe. Who knows?
My guess is for the elf stubbing his toe.

An uncustomary stop at customs

Before I left for my pilgrimage in honor of Saint Joseph Damien de Veuster, I mentioned to a parishioner (it somehow came up in conversation) that I would probably be looking for a new altar cross for the parish here in Virden. The one in use at the time was small and thin and did not seem to blend well with the overall look of the church. To my surprise - and delight - the parishioner offered to purchase whatever cross I chose.

Wandering through the liturgical shops in the Eternal City, I was surprised to see how few of them seemed to sell crucifixes to place on the altar. I did find one, though, that I liked and purchased.

Before leaving the store with it, it was wrapped first in bubble wrap and then in brown paper.

When it came time to return to the United States, I had to carry the cross onto the plane, both because it would not fit in my suitcase and because I would be receiving a Value Added Tax (VAT) credit and the office might want to see it.

When I arrived in Chicago and finally made my way to the customs counter, I placed the wrapped cross on the counter and produced my passport for the officer. He asked, "What is that?"

"A cross to place on an altar," I answered. "You probably don't see too many of these come through here."

He looked at me and said, "No, not too many," after which he stamped my passport and sent me on my way. It might have been my fastest time through customs yet.

At any rate, the cross was on the altar for the weekend Masses and the parishioners seem to be quite pleased with it:

18 October 2009

Virden in history

While I was away in Rome, a friend sent a notice to me about the town of Virden, of which I am now pastor, in history.

Apparently on 12 October 1898, Virden was the site of a riot involving the coal mines, which apparently resulted in the 8-hour working day. This from Britannica:

African American workers from Alabama who were hired by the Chicago-Virden Coal Company in an attempt to break a strike by local workers affiliated with the United Mine Workers of America. Some 15 people (mostly local miners and guards hired to protect the train carrying the arriving workers) died. The city was under martial law for several days, and the union movement credited the incident as an important milestone, especially in the winning of the eight-hour day.

This might explain a bronze bas relief down in the square.

Can anyone offer more information on this?

The end of a season

Regular readers of these pages will be familiar with my involvement with the soccer team at St. Anthony high school, which began a few years ago.

At the time, I used Tuesdays as my "day off". One Tuesday afternoon I happened into the high school office to drop something off as the soccer team was about to leave for a game about an hour away. One of the boys saw me and asked, "Are you coming to the game with us, Father?" Since he knew I had nothing else to do that day, how could I refuse?

From that question one thing led to another and before I knew it the boys told me I was their "assistant coach," even though they knew I knew very little about the game and nothing about coaching. Since then I've learned a little bit about soccer.

This year's soccer season started off with a great boost of morale to the team with the addition of a new coach, Coach K, who brought with him a new confidence and enthusiasm to the team. Yet after coaching the team for only a week and a half he collapsed on the field at practice and died of heat exhaustion.

His coaching method revolved around a focus of the basics of the game, as I noted in the homily I preached at his funeral liturgy.

The experience of Coach K's death brought the team together in a most profound way, as only the experience of death can do. I was privileged to be there with them that night and to pray with them and journey with them through the season, and for a short time I became, by default, their coach, with the capable and necessary assistance of a few alumni.

We soon found a new coach for the team, Scott Demers, who has proved an excellent fit with the boys. I cannot thank him enough for all that he has done for them. Once he became the coach, I happily reverted to the "assistant."

Scott coached the team to the second round of regionals and submitted the following report on yesterday's game at Olney:

The St.Anthony High School Soccer Team made it to the second round of Regional play against Mt. Carmel after defeating Olney this past week. And as the Olney, East Richland match ended in the third suden-death overtime, today's match ended in similar fashion.

St. Anthony started the scoring with an early goal by John Kay on a feed from Riley Wesendorf at the 4:50 minute mark. St. Anthony scored again when Riley Westendorf passed to Michael Kabbes who drilled a shot past the Mt. Carmel goalie at the 25:24 minute mark.

The scoring favored St. Anthony for five minutes when Mt. Carmel was awarded a penalty kick on a questionable call. Mt. Carmel forward, Pete Condol, converted the penalty kick and that made the score 2 -1 in favor of SAHS. Then in the 39:40 minute mark, Gabriel Tennis of Mt Carmel scored on a misplayed ball by the Bulldog defense and tied things up.

Fans that attended the Regional match in Olney saw both teams not allow a goal for the entire second half and two over-time periods. The SAHS Bulldogs attempted 26 shots in which the Mt. Carmel goal-keeper made 14 saves. Mt. Carmel attempted 19 shots and the SAHS goalie made 14 saves.

It was in the third, sudden-death overtime period that Mt. Carmel ended the match on a shot by Armand Brisard which found the back of the net. Despite being dominated by the Bulldogs, Mt. Carmel players never gave up. St. Anthony had many scoring chances that weren't converted and continued to give the Golden Aces of Mt. Carmel a chance to stay in the match.

SAHS coach, Scott Demers, stated, "If we could have scored on effort, we won by a lot. But, it's goals that count." SAHS defender, Nate Grey, was a player that "left it all on the field." Grey played with a bruised knee that made it difficult to walk but somehow was able to perform exceptionally during game-play. Other players that went above and beyond the call of duty were Michael Nosbisch, Josh Wall, Charles McGuire, Cody Sandschafer, and all of the substitutes that kept pressure on Mt. Carmel throughout the entire match.

"The Mt. Carmel Golden Aces were in the right place at the right time too many times and they took advantage of their opportunities, our hats go off to them," said SAHS Coach, Scott Demers. SAHS would also like to thank all those that made the long trek to Olney to support the Bulldogs, especially the players from Teutopolis.
Overall, the boys played notably better than they ever played last year and have greatly improved. I am certain this is due, in no small part to two things. For much of the season the boys played their games for the team but for Coach K. And after my transfer to Virden and Girard they played their games for me.

I am immensely proud of all they have accomplished this season, and am certain Coach K would be equally proud.

Well done, boys, well done!

A poll needs some help

The illustrious Father John Zuhlsdorf, of What Does the Pray Really Say?, points us to a poll that needs our help.

The poll concerns the statement, "The Catholic church is a force for good in the world." Pollsters are able to answer, "For the Motion," "Against the Motion" or "Don't Know."

At the moment, more pollsters have voted "Against the Motion."

You know what to do. Vote!

15 October 2009

It's amazing what a little paint can do

When I returned to the rectory last night I was excited to see the new paint in the kitchen. You may recall what it used to like.

It now looks like this (well, almost; the blue is a little brighter in person):

I'm very happy with the paint colors.

But the room isn't quite finished yet; the doors have not yet been painted grey and remain orange. Against the blue wall they stand out more than before:

The doors will be painted in the next couple of days.

I don't the room can now be called the "seaside room," but I still like it (minus the orange).

Requiescat in pace

The sad news has come to me of the death of one of my grade school classmates, Michelle, after a battle with cancer that lasted several years. She will be buried Saturday morning.

Please keep her and her family in your prayers.

May the angels escort into Paradise and, where Lazarus is more no longer, may she find everlasting rest.

Good cholesterol, bad cholesterol

I arrived safely back in Virden about 8:00 p.m. last night and was asleep, I think, before 10:00 p.m. I was wide awake at 3:30 a.m. and have been up ever since (we'll see how long I make it tonight, but right now I'm feeling pretty good).

It's remarkable how much work can be done when no one else is awake; I've managed to catch up on the work that was waiting for me already. Phone calls have been made (though not until a reasonable hour); calendar's have been consulted; and many e-mails returned (there are still a few more to do and that will come tomorrow, I think). It's good to be pastor of a small parish, even two of them; the work load is lighter.

I was even able to tidy up the kitchen, which is looking good, though not quite finished yet. I'll probably post a picture or two of it later tonight, as well as a few additional thoughts on my pilgrimage.

One of my doctor's nurses (my general doctor in Effingham, not my rheumatologist in St. Louis) just called to report on some blood work I had done just before I left for Rome.

She said my cholesterol is "excellent," both the good and the bad, and that I should "keep doing" whatever it is I'm doing, which isn't anything at all save only eating the foods I like. I've been thinking about have a hamburger for dinner today, which now I just may do. It's either that of a nice bowl of chili.

13 October 2009

Arreviderci, Roma!

In just under one hour's time I will take a taxi to Rome's Fiumicino airport to return to the United States, arriving at O'Hare around 2:00 p.m., if all goes as planned.

It has been a good trip to Rome -as always - but I think I am ready to return to Virden and set to work.

Please pray for a safe flight.

12 October 2009

Seeking sanctuary

This morning, after a quick visit to what I like to call “liturgical row” to purchase a new alb, I took a taxi to the Basilica of St. John on the Lateran Hill, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome and the “head and mother of all churches” to concelebrant a Mass offered in thanksgiving for Saint Damien of Molokai.

I thought the Mass was to be celebrated by the Most Reverend Clarence “Larry” Silva, Bishop of Honolulu for what one friend has called “the Polynesian influx.” I was mistaken. The Mass was celebrated by a Cardinal with several Bishops, nearly one hundred priests (by guestimation) and a basilica full of the faithful from all over the world.

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Silva was presented with a relic of Saint Damien, which will, in time, be enshrined in Honolulu’s Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace.

I was able to greet His Excellency after the Mass in the sacristy and to venerate the relic, a humbling moment and a great experience.

When I left the Basilica I planned to take the bus back to “liturgical row” near the Pantheon to finishing collecting a few items for me and for others. As I exited the basilica I noticed dark clouds overhead but lighter ones moving in and thought nothing of it. Suffice it to say that Rome is always full of surprises.

As I waited for the bus a few sprinkles began to fall and then seemingly without warning a heavy downpour deluged those of us not under a roof. With a mad dash we all made our way back into the basilica to seek a new form of sanctuary.

A few minutes later I took later I took a peek outside to check on the rain only to find a sunny and blue sky, so back to the bus stop I went.

Within moments I turned around to see a familiar face, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago who was one year ahead of my in the seminary and who lived on my floor. He invited me back to the Casa Santa Maria (the American house for priests in Rome) for lunch, an invitation I happily accepted.

After lunch I made my way back to the Pantheon to finish my shopping, seeking sanctuary in several churches along the way as the rain continue to fall intermittently and I failed to bring my umbrella with me when I left the hotel earlier in the morning.

After taking a quick shower back in the hotel I took the metro to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wall to pray at the recently unearthed sarcophagus of the Apostle to the Gentiles. I had considered taking this little pilgrimage before returning to the hotel, but on the way I found an altar cross I wanted to buy (and I didn’t want to lug it all around Rome). It seems Providence – or perhaps Saint Damien – was guiding my steps.

When I entered the Basilica I was surprised to hear singing in English and suddenly it occurred to me that I had heard that song before; I had stumbled upon that Polynesian influx yet again! I was delighted to have done so, though I wish I would have arrived a few minutes earlier (I arrived after the consecration). Being late, though, provided a good opportunity to take pictures (which have been posted here).

Bishop Silva concluded the Mass blessing the faithful with the relic of Father Damien. The Holy Father has apparently given a plenary indulgence to those who meet the normal conditions and venerate the relic.

After Mass, several of the priests of Honolulu asked me when I was returning to the islands and offered me housing. The Vocation Director told me there is another Aloha Run for Vocations planned for February 15th. When I return to Virden I may well look into this.

It was such a joy to stumble upon the Hawaiians again and it has me wondering yet again if I should not seek to follow in Father Damien’s footsteps and serve them. Time will tell, I suppose. That and, I suppose, my new Bishop when he comes (I’m presuming he’ll be around for a while).

All in all, today was a good day and tonight was a good night, despite the rain and the much cooler weather that blew in this evening.

The newspapers are apparently calling the weather for the next week “bad” because the temperatures will be ten degrees cooler (about 65 degrees), which leads to my favorite quote I’ve heard all week.

As we left the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, one of the ladies from Hawaii caught the chill breeze as she approached the door. She gave a quiet cry and said, “This isn’t Hawaii.” How right she is! Even for me, a native of the Midwest, the temperatures, with the strong winds, are cold. May I be in Hawaii again soon!

I haven’t quite decided what tomorrow will hold yet. Wednesday will see my return to Virden.

Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Damien of Molokai

The good folks at Zenit have posted a translation of the Holy Father's homily at yesterday's Mass of canonization. Referring to Father Damien, the Pontiff said:

Jozef De Veuster, who in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary received the name of Damiaan, when he was twenty-three years old, in 1863, left his home in Flanders to proclaim the Gospel on the other side of the world, the Hawaiian Islands. His missionary activity, which gave him so much joy, reaches its summit in charity. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers who were there, abandoned by all; thus he exposed himself to the disease they suffered from. He felt at home with them. The Servant of the Word thus became a suffering servant, a leper with lepers, during the last four years of his life.

To follow Christ, Father Damiaan did not only leave his native country, but he also risked his health: therefore he received eternal life, as the Word of Jesus that was proclaimed in the Gospel today says (cfr. Mk 10:30).

On the 20th anniversary of the canonization of another Belgian saint, Brother Mutien-Marie, the Church in Belgium has gathered once again to give thanks to God for one of its sons recognized as an authentic servant of God. We recall, faced with this noble figure, that charity makes unity: it gives birth to it and makes it desirable. In following Saint Paul, Saint Damien leads us to choose the good battle (cf. 1 Tim 1:18), not those that lead to division, but those that gather together. He invites us to open our eyes to the lepers that disfigure the humanity of our brothers and today still calls, more than for our generosity, for the charity of our serving presence [more].
Following Mass, during his address at the Angelus, he said:

Remembering the holy Father Damian, I ask you to commit yourselves at the same time to support with your prayer and your works those who generously dedicate themselves to the struggle against leprosy and against other forms of leprosy that are due to lack of love because of ignorance and cowardice.

Consecrated to the Heart of Jesus and Mary, this holy priest was led by God to let a total “yes” bloom in his vocation. May the intercession of Our Lady and the Apostle of the Lepers free the world from leprosy, make us open to the love of God and grant us enthusiasm and joy in the service of our brothers and sisters [more].

11 October 2009

Pictures from Rome

I haven't taken a lot of pictures during this pilgrimage to Rome, in no small part because I've taken pictures of my favorite sites before, most notably when I was in Rome in January two years ago.

I know that many of you have enjoyed following the photos from this trip via Facebook so I will provide links to these albums:

The Canonization of St. Damien of Molokai

The Basilica of St. Peter

Roaming Around Rome
Here are links to the albums I've posted previously (I'm afraid I didn't categorize them):

Rome I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, and XII.


This morning Pope Benedict XVI declared Joseph Damien de Vuester, SS.CC among the Saints and worthy of veneration and imitation by all of the faithful throughout the world, together with Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Francisco Coll y Guitart, Rafael Arnaiz Baron and Marie de la Croix (Jeanne Jugan).

I made my way to the Basilica of St. Peter and arrived there about 7:00 a.m., knowing the "doors" where not scheduled to open until 8:00 a.m.

As I wandered around the outside of the piazza I found a group of the pilgrims from Hawaii which included Fr. Gary Secor, whom I met on my first visit to the islands at the celebration of Father Damien's feastday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace. I visited with him and some of the Hawaiian entourage until the Square opened sometime after 8:15 a.m.
Prior to the letting in of the pilgrims, we shared stories, caught up, watched other pilgrim groups walking trying to determine their countries and the Hawaiians sang several beautiful chants to Damien (I hope they'll make a cd!).

Life in Italy is never boring, to be sure. The Mass of Canonization was expected to be celebrated in the Square itself, but as the faithful were let into the piazza they were quickly hurried inside the basilica, despite the sunny skies and warm temperatures (not to mention the preparations already done). Because the basilica does not hold as many people as the piazza, many pilgrims remained outside for the duration of the Mass.

Once I entered the basilica, I presented my blue ticket and made my way to the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament to receive a surplice and stole. The priests and deacons who would distribute Holy Communion gathered in the chapel to prepare and receive instructions in various languages. Around 9:30 a.m. we were led from the chapel to our places in the sanctuary, less than one hundred feet behind the altar.

At first thought the seats were great, but as the Holy Father sat on the opposite side of the altar and we could see precious little of the actual canonization. Even so, my heart filled with great joy as Pope Benedict XVI pronounced Damien and the others saints.
The seats were next to those for the choir, which provided a close-up look of the direction of the choir. I watched the organized move his fingers along the keys in practice at various times throughout the Mass.

Durning the Creed, ciboria filled with hosts were passed from priest to priest and we were led to the right of the altar at the preparation of the gifts for the Eucharisitic Prayer. I stood not more than thiry-five from the Holy Father!

I was particularly struck by the purposefulness with which he celebrates the Mass, seemingly oblivious to anything else at all. His focus is entirely on the Lord, which is where it should be for every priest. It was moving to watch him so closely.
During the Agnus Dei, the priests and deacons with ciboria were led throughout the basilica and into the piazza to distribute Holy Communion to the faithful. I stayed inside the basilica.
Once the Eucharist was distributed, we returned the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and, our service having been fulfilled, returned our stoles and surplices.
We were allowed to move toward the altar and I was able to take these pictures at the end of the Mass:

The Holy Father left the basilica to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in the Square. Those of us who were in the basilica were not allowed to leave until after the Angelus.

After some time in the basilica were ushered quickly out, which seemed odd given that only a moment before we were required to remain.

As I left the basilica, I saw the piazza flooded with pilgrims:

It was a beautiful experience and I am immensely grateful for the privilege of being here for it.

Saint Damien of Molokai, pray for us!

10 October 2009

Canonization links

A Catholic Mom in Hawaii has saved the trouble of compiling a list of links for tomorrow's canonization. Thanks, Esther!

Sisters need your help

If you are looking for a worthy cause to donate toward, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii passes on the news that the Daughters of St. Paul are in need of a new roof in Honolulu.

Preparations are underway

...for tomorrow's canonization of five Saints in St. Peter's Square, the most well-known of whom is Father Joseph Damien de Vuester, a.k.a. the "leper priest."
In St. Peter's Square workers are seeing to the final preparations for the Mass, for which some thirty thousand tickets have are being distributed:

The "doors" to the Square open at 8:00 a.m. for the Mass which is to begin at 10:00 a.m. I'm told tickets have even been distributed for standing room in the Via Conciliazione, the street leading away from St. Peter's Square.
It is a rainy day here in Rome. Ordinarily, this is not a pleasant thing, but today it is because the rain has cooled the temperatures nicely.

And even on a cloudy day, this sight brings a ray of light pointing heavenward:

If the rain does not let up, today will be a good day to read again a biography of this holy man.

09 October 2009

Greetings from the Eternal City!

I arrived in Rome yesterday late afternoon with my two travelling companions, who are currently out wandering the streets of Rome.

The direct flight from Chicago to Rome, following our six hour and fifteen minute "technical delay," was most uneventful (which is generally the way one would prefer a transatlantic flight). From the airport we took a taxi to the hotel, settled in, refreshed and went out the city on a bit of an "orientation" tour.

The hotel rooms are quiet tiny (much smaller than the Internet hinted at) and, well, cozy. The upside to the hotel is that it has free wi-fi (when you can find it). Ah, Roma! The hotel is about a fifteen minute walk from St. Peter's and maybe ten minutes from a metro stop, which puts it in a fairly good location.

This morning I intended to celebrate Mass in St. Peter's before beginning the day but woke too late. Apparently the buzzer on the alarm clock in the room has a volume control that was turned all the way down. I'd never heard of such a thing. Tomorrow I might rely on a wake-up call.

After readying for the day we took a journey on foot to the Casa Santa Maria, the residence for American priests studying in Rome and the visitor's office of the US Bishops, to collect our tickets to Sunday's Papal Mass at which Pope Benedict XVI will declare five new Saints for the Church, among whom is Father Damien of Molokai and the reason I have come now to Rome.

Today has been a beautiful and sunny day, though a bit humid. I've done a bit of shopping, though oddly enough I cannot find much of what I am in search of. I've also gotten lost a time or two, which is nothing out of the ordinary. I stopped into several churches for a few moments of quiet prayer.

Rome is a city of several contradictions. Walking along the main streets, Rome is rather noisy, not because of the many people who walk the sidewalks but because of the many motorcycles and mopeds. However, if you turn off of the main streets and wander down the side streets Rome becomes amazingly quiet, peaceful and calm.

I was particularly struck by this when I entered the Jesu, the church in which St. Ignatius of Loyola is buried. Despite the number of people inside the church, it was still and quiet, as most every Catholic church is. It was another great reminder of the presence of the Eucharistic Lord.

This is now, I think, my fifth time to Rome and while I am enjoying myself, Rome seems to have lost some of its charm for me. I still enjoy the culture, the sights and the food (of course!), but it is different since my trips to Hawaii, where I a large part of my heart remains.

I have not yet bumped into the large Hawaiian contingent; I will continue to keep my eyes open for them.

Strangely enough, I haven't found very many items relating to Father Damien at all, save a few keychains. I was hoping to find statues and images of the new Saint.

Now I'm going to upload a few pictures from Saint Peter's before joining a priest who was a year or so ahead of me in the seminary for gelato.

07 October 2009

The sunflower room

Currently, the kitchen in my rectory looks like this:

I have taken to calling it, "the sunflower room," but upon my return to Virden I will no longer be able to call it such.
One of the parishioners has very kindly offered to paint the kitchen (cabinets, walls and trim) during my absence in the Eternal City.
The currently yellow walls will be painted "dignity blue." The cabinets and trim will be painted "crewel tan." And the doors will be painted "curio grey."
If you've never played at the Sherwin Williams web site, you just might want to do so. You can select which room you want to paint and then choose a room that looks something like yours. Once you choose your colors the web site can add them to your room and you can get an idea of what it will look like afterwards.
I think I may start calling the kitchen the seaside room.

Romeward bound. Sort of.

One of these days I am going to stop embarking on pilgrimages and simply start taking vacations, just to make life easier.

One of the requirements for a pilgrimage is a bit of difficulty, so as to share in some way, however small, in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We arrived this afternoon about 1:45 p.m. at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport for our 3:40 p.m. flight to Rome. Now are waiting a six-hour "technical" delay. The plane we will take to Rome apparently left Rome for Chicago six hours behind schedule.

We are witing in O'Hare's terminal 5, which has almost no shopping and precious little food.

I am currently typing from a chair by a west-facing window, and since the sun is now going down shining directly in my eyes I think I will go for a walk. And a pizza.

All of this might seem frustrating, but in comparison to Father Damien's pilgrimage to Hawaii, this is nothing.

06 October 2009

03 October 2009

The day draws near

With the upcoming canonization of Blessed Damien of Molokai on the eleventh of October, I thought I might pass along this brief biographical sketch of the Leper Priest.

I am, of course, becoming increasingly excited about the pilgrimage for which I leave on Wednesday, and there is much work to be done here in the parishes prior to my departure.

Blogging over the next few days will likely be - as it has these past few days - spotty. Lately I have been occupied with th continuing settling into the rectory, seeing to various financial details and sorting through stacks of paper. I would like to have all of this finished before my pilgrimage.

At the very least, I want to be settled into the rectory so the priest who will be here for the weekend Masses won't have to shuffle through a disorganized mess. This much, at least, I think I can have done.

Saint Jude, pray for me!

02 October 2009

Web question

Do - or have - any of you dear readers used Word Press for site hosting? If so, what do think of it?

Check this out!

If you're looking for new and awesome furntiture, why not check out Design Toscano's Furniture Blowout Sale?

I am especially fond of the following items:

I know: I have expensive tastes.
Now, if you are looking for something a little less worldly and more spiritual this morning, Abbot Cuthbert Johnson has a good quote from St. John Vianney on the guardian angels, whose memorial we celebrate today.

01 October 2009

E-mail troubles

It has been brought to my attention that my e-mail address (daren[at]servantandsteward[dot]org) has been acting up a bit lately. My secretary only today received an e-mail I sent her a week ago and it seems others have not been able to send e-mail to me. Facebook is telling me that account is no longer a valid e-mail address, but I can still log into it.

If you have e-mailed me in the last couple of weeks but I have not yet responded, please resend e-mail to dzehnle[at]yahoo[dot]com.

In the meantime, I will look into these troubles and hopefully have them soon resolved.