His Emminence

I’m in Manhattan right now for work and went to Mass at St. Patrick’s this morning at 7, because why not? Didn’t really think Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan would be the celebrant!   So I was pretty excited when he was. 

That’s all. I’m headed to the September 11 Memorial right now. Please join me in praying for the souls that perished that day here in New York. 

I Write Letters to Bishops Now

I feel like I’m living in a Fr. Cheney homily. I write angry letters to the Bishop now. Maybe 12th Avenue in Bismarck is about to undergo a major construction project too. 

I’ve held my tongue about the liturgical “abuses” (in regards to not going to the Bishop, but I have talked about it extensively with my peers), but after a Confession last month in which I received counsel which contradicts clear Church teaching and now finding out that at least one absolution I have received was invalid, and it’s likely that many more from the priest were, and that many in that parish may not have received absolution in a long time, I couldn’t hold it. 

I received a lot of advice on how to handle it and since I’m slightly intimidated to confront a priest who has been so, I don’t know the word for it, unorthodox…, in the Confessional, I felt this would be best dealt with by his direct superior, which is the Bishop. My letter was actually less angry and more expressive of concern than anything else. 

On another note, it made my do over confession a little messy because I have no idea how many invalid absolutions I’ve recieved and where that leaves the confessions between them. I mean obviously had I known I hadn’t received the sacrament I would have taken care of it right away. So after explaining what happened the priest this morning asked me to confess to my sins since my last absolution and then asked if I was sorry for all of my sins. I assume this was to cover any other invalid absolutions I may have received. Andd that’s probably the best we could have done without trying to reconfess all the sins I’ve committed since moving to town in case any were invalidly absolved. 

The priest then told me that he knows of only  one formula of absolution and does not know why another priest would stray from that formula. He emphasized that when he was done I would be absolved. And then he absolved me. I have never listened so intently to the words of absolution in my life. And I don’t know that I’ve ever been so relieved when I walked out of the confessional. 

Can you join me in praying for our good priests this morning that make sure to dispense the graces of the Church lovingly and in praying for the priests who for one reason or another are not shepherding and healing souls the way they should be and are perhaps even placing them in harm’s way?

Rite of Election

It was hard to believe this morning that it’s been six years since I went through the Rite of Election. When I watched the catechumens today be blessed by the priest so that they could later in the day receive the Rite of Election and become Elect, I suddenly remembered my own election within memories I had subconsciously forgotten about. In fact, this Lent I’ve barely thought about my conversion at all, which is strange because all previous Lents have rekindled memories of my Lenten journey while I was in RCIA. I’m not sure why this year has been different so far.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been Catholic so long now? It’s really weird that its been almost 6 years. Or maybe it’s because I don’t feel converted? Maybe it’s difficult for me to see any kind of progress from who I was to who I am? Maybe I don’t see evidence of a life changed by Jesus Christ?

Maybe I feel like this Lent has already been mildly unsuccessful. I thought on Ash Wednesday that this was going to be the most joyous Lent yet, but I haven’t experienced that, yet. Maybe I need to give it more time. Perhaps what it comes right down to is that I don’t feel elect. I don’t feel special. I don’t feel chosen. I don’t feel holy, set apart. I don’t feel known. I feel like a stranger. Again. Even with all I just said, it’s difficult to explain the feeling.

But maybe this is what Lent 2015 is supposed to be all about. Maybe God is going to use this Lent to show me that I am chosen. Maybe that’s where the joy will come from. Maybe my letter writing campaign is the source from which it will flow. So maybe that’s what I will make my prayer be for this Lent, and maybe it’s something you need to add to your prayers too, I don’t know.

God, please help me, help us, to see how you have chosen us. Help us to experience the fact that we are elected, that we are special, that we are chosen, holy, and set apart. Help us know that we are known, and help us to know you in return. Don’t let us feel like strangers in your house, but as the sons and daughters that we really are. Amen.

Lent Day 2

Inspired by the homily at Ash Wednesday Mass, I changed my self-imposed Lenten penance from sleeping on the floor to a 40 day letter writing campaign: 1 letter each day (except Sundays) to someone important or influential to me. I wrote a letter when I got home from Mass yesterday and then one today after work. I’m pretty excited and I have my list of 40 recipients written up, but not in any kind of order. There are quite a few letters that are going to be tough to write for as many different reasons. Those will probably all be pushed to the last couple weeks of Lent.

All-in-all, Lent has been pretty great so far. Yesterday was the first Ash Wednesday that I haven’t spent the whole day being distracted by how hungry I was. I suppose that is one of the fruits of regular fasting, your body becomes accustomed to it. So while everyone was like:

no cheezburger

I was all like:


“I do this every Friday anyway.”

But seriously, I’m not holier than you or anything like that.

I’m just really looking forward to Lent this year. It’s always my favorite part of the liturgical year, but this year I think it is going to be so much more joyful, which is really what Lent is supposed to be!

Let’s all pray together that this will be a season of taking up our crosses and walking more closely and intimately with Jesus, which can have no other effect than pure joy!

Guide to Lenten Fasting and Abstinence

So I mentioned these canonical requirements yesterday for Catholics of the Latin rite, but I’m going to repost them today. This graphic is borrowed from the FOCUS blog (visit the blog if you get a chance), and revisit this graphic if you need a quick reminder during Lent. It will be located at the top of the side bar!

Have a fantastic Ash Wednesday!


Fat Tuesday

Its next to impossible to google search for a mardi gras picture and find one suitable for a Catholic blog header. Just like Valentine’s Day just a few days ago, it seems that the world has forgotten that mardi gras is about Christ, that is, its existence is based solely on the fact that Christians have a Lenten season. So you get face palm Jesus for your header.

Anyway, today is Fat Tuesday, or in French, mardi gras. Back in the day, when Christians were giving up meat for Lent, they would have to eat all their meat on the day before Lent because it would spoil before Easter. Hence, the existence of Fat Tuesday.

Today we should all take a moment to figure out what we are “doing” for Lent if we haven’t done so already. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile, and up until a few days ago I was simply going to add in another day of abstinence to my current fasting/abstaining practices, which are to fast on Wednesday and Fridays, and to abstain on Fridays. I was simply going to abstain on Wednesdays also. But it seems kind of “cheap” at this point considering that its not really going above and beyond what I’m already doing. I thought about removing coffee, but as my coworkers can attest to last week (when I ran out of coffee and was too lazy to go buy more), it was more of a penance for them, than for myself.

So I think that I’m going to do again what I did a few years back: I’m going to sleep on the floor during Lent and offer it in prayer for those who don’t have a place to lay their head, like the Son of Man.

I encourage you not to simply give up pop or give up sweets or something like that. I mean if that’s a strong vice in your life, go for it, but I think that there are probably better things that we Christians can do to 1. prepare our hearts for Jesus and 2. unite ourselves to the members of the body of Christ and those who are “Jesus” to us.

And don’t forget that canon law in the United States of America requires that all persons aged 14 and over must abstain from meat and items made from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all of the Fridays during Lent. Additionally, every person between the age of 18 and their 59th birthday must fast (1 regular sized meal and 2 smaller meals that do not total 1 full meal, with no snacking) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Pregnant women are dispensed from these regulations.

And as a bonus reminder canon law requires that ALL FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR (excepting Fridays on which a Solemnity falls) Catholics are required to abstain from meat, unless they substitute another penance in its place.

Have a Holy Lent!

Strange to Hear Her Name

This morning’s 6:45 Mass was offered for my mother. I knew it would be. I was the one who scheduled the Mass intention many months ago. But it was strange nonetheless to hear her name at Mass this morning. Maybe it’s because I really haven’t heard her name in a very long time. Maybe it’s because saying a name is kind of sacramental. It makes something invisible present to your senses. I say the word “pencil” and it seems real, even though all that occurred were vibrations in the air. The same with my mom’s name. She became real to me again, even if for a brief moment. It was tough, one of the tougher moments in recent weeks.

I hope that the infinite merits of the one, continuous Mass of Jesus Christ on Calvary has aided my mother in final purification, and if for good or for bad, she is not in a state of purification, I hope that the infinite merits of the Mass aided someone in their sanctification.