Sunday, June 21, 2015

From Whence, Vocations?

As I begin writing this blog entry, there are so many titles I could give to it. Perhaps by the end it will title itself. But for now I will choose From Whence, Vocations? from among a number of fitting possibilities including New Priest's First Mass, Blessing, and Reception, Happy Father's Day, and Congratulations, Father Flanery! 

Any of those titles would be appropriate to sum up this beautiful day. But as I sit here pondering the events of the day over in my mind, the central theme for me is certain: vocations. A quick summary of the day, then I'll follow with my thoughts on this important point.

Today we were among the faithful of Saint Mary's Assumption in Saint Louis who were privileged to assist at the First Mass of the recently ordained Reverend Father Dylan Flanery, son of Dr. and Mrs. Randy Flanery. And what a beautiful Mass it was, with three of the altar servers being brothers of Father Flanery and the cross-bearer his young nephew. 

Following Holy Mass the faithful again approached the communion rail and knelt to receive Father's first blessing, kiss his consecrated hands and receive his ordination prayer cards.

Mid-afternoon many if not all of the faithful gathered once again to celebrate Father Flanery at a lovely luncheon Reception. Such a blessed day, I can only begin to imagine how pleased and proud the Flanery family is to now have a priest among them. Deo gratias!

Which brings me back to the title of my post! During the luncheon celebration there were several speakers including our pastor Father Jackson and resident priest Father Pieroni, Father Flanery's dad, Dr. Flanery, and finally, Father Flanery himself. Each of these speakers in his turn brought warm sentiments, moments of laugh-out-loud humor, as well as thought-provoking ideas surrounding vocations.

Dr. Flanery, with equal parts wit and wisdom, told us how he believed there are three main ingredients in the formation of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. The first two might be somewhat predictable:  first, the family, second, solid traditional Catholic education. The third might not be guessed, though it is of primary importance: the Mothers of Lu prayer. The prayer and its history follows (from catholictradition.org):

Somewhere in northern Italy is a rural area containing the town of Lu with about four thousand residents. Families with six to ten children are the rule. 
In 1881, the mothers of the families of Lu began coming together on the First Sunday of each month to assist at Holy Mass and to receive Holy Communion. What the women brought about by these spiritual exercises is expressed very beautifully in the prayer which they recited together at this Mass. 
O God, grant that one of my sons becomes a priest! I promise to live as a good Christian woman and will lead my children to all that is good, wherewith I hope to receive the grace to be able to give to Thee, O God, a holy priest. 
So have the women of Lu prayed all these years since 1881. The prayer was short yet so powerful that a flood of priestly vocations were bestowed upon the town. In fifty years, the prayers of these mothers have won at least five hundred priestly and religious vocations from out of the relatively small village. But, remember, it was only in the town of Lu that for those fifty years, the good women were assisting together at the First Sunday Mass specifically for the intention of religious vocations! 
Happy, blessed Lu! 

This prayer has been said by mothers at Saint Mary's consistently every first Sunday at the altar rail after Holy Mass for more than a decade now. Those who have been there for all these years say that vocations have truly blossomed since its recitation began.

One other key ingredient for the formation of vocations was added by Father Jackson, and that is sacrifice. Certainly this is easily seen within the three aspects mentioned by Dr. Flanery. He and Mrs. Flanery are the parents of 10 children, they made sure their children were educated at traditional Catholic schools in so far as they were available, and they have been dedicated to praying for vocations. 

Whence vocations? Sacrifice. Sacrifice to be open to all the children with which God will bless your family, sacrifice to give them a traditional Catholic education where daily they are taught and formed as Catholics by holy priests, and dedication to prayer for vocations. The fruits are apparent in Father Flanery, but also in his sister, Sister Mary Bernard of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King in Kansas City, and a younger brother who this fall will enter the Brothers Novitiate at Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, MN. How very blessed is the dear Flanery family! And how blessed and privileged are we, the faithful, to be able to assist and celebrate with them.

I will conclude by keeping the original title of this post, as it is quite appropriate! But as the other possibilities also would work... on this Father's Day Sunday where we heard Father Flanery's First Holy Mass, received his First Blessing, and attended his Reception, I wish to say, Congratulations, Father Flanery! And a very Happy Father's Day to you, to all of our priestly Fathers, and indeed to all fathers!

O Lord, grant us many holy priests and religious vocations!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

On the eve of His resurrection.


Musings on Holy Saturday

It is the morning of Holy Saturday. All is quiet in the house for my husband and the boys just left to go to church where the altar boys have practice for this evening's Easter Vigil. They will be away for a few hours and so I have some time to muse a bit.

We are almost there! We will celebrate Our Lord's glorious Resurrection beginning this evening at 10pm. The first Easter Mass is to be celebrated in the morning of Easter, i.e., just after midnight, so the sacred liturgy with all its glorious ceremony (lighting of the new fire, the prophetical lessons from the beginning of history up to Christ's coming being read from sacred scripture) begins at such time as provides for Holy Mass at midnight. We are all ready!

Ready for Easter Mass, yes. But there are still a few preparations to be made around the house. I have my Easter candles and decorations out. I need to put the spring tablecloths on the tables along with their center pieces. The ham is thawing and I have a few side dishes I want to make today. Among them is Pea Salad from The Pioneer Woman website. It looks just like a salad I used to enjoy years ago at the hospital where I worked. I realize that "hospital salad" wouldn't be a very appetizing description, but our hospital cafeteria was very good and this salad was a favorite!

The boys are excited to have Lent behind them (aren't we all!). They have given up their screen time, so they look forward to having access to MiNECRAFT more often than just on Sunday's. Normal time parameters back in place, of course (ahem). ;) Our boys are getting older, and it is plain to see as they have made good efforts to see their Lenten penances for what they are supposed to be. 

These last few days leading into Easter have been very good. Maundy Thursday found both our boys serving, one as Acolyte, the other as Torchbearer. And my husband was among the 12 "apostles" who had his feet washed. A beautiful evening and Mass.

And yesterday's Good Friday liturgy where we remember Our Lord's death and venerate His cross was, well... I always find it difficult to come up with the right descriptive words for such meaningful times in Church. Enjoy, celebrate, beautiful. Well, sort of, but these words seem too happy for Good Friday. Humbling, thankful, sorrowful, yes, solemn, hopeful, certainly. Suffice if to say, as a former Baptist who 20 years ago this night was received into the Catholic Church, it never grows old. In fact I would say each year it is appreciated to a deeper level, but it is most humbling, too. As we drove home yesterday, just seeing the multitudes of people along the way who have likely gone about their normal business as though there were nothing different about Good Friday, many of them in their heart of hearts wandering through life and wondering what it is really all about, and yet many of them not so interested in the true answers, I am humbled yet again. For I have been given those answers, and not only I, but all who will say yes to Our Lord in His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Kyrie Eleison.

On arriving home from the Good Friday Liturgy we always have the same meal: homemade Lentil Soup and bread. As we sit down to dinner, again, I know my boys are getting older, for what they once turned their noses up at, they now love and ask for a second bowl. They even commented that there is no penance in this pot of soup! Makes Mom feel pretty good! It is a nice tradition that we began many years ago and we do it the same each year. We bring the hot pot of soup to the table and Dad adds the last ingredient, vinegar, as we remember again Our Lord's thirst on the Cross just prior to His death.

However, one difference this year which we hope never to repeat was when we had just sat down in church yesterday and I remembered I that left the pot of lentils simmering on the stove. Oh no! So Dad had to drive all the way home, turn it off, and come back. Man!! But better that than forgetting and coming home a few hours later to something much much worse! And he made it back before the chanting of the Passion from the Gospel of St. John was finished.

After dinner we all sat and watched "The Passion of the Christ", as we do every Good Friday evening. And it always gets me in the same places. I can't watch certain parts, the hearing of it being quite sufficient. But just as those really difficult parts are finished it seems like they are followed by a scene with Our Blessed Mother, and as in real life, what needed comfort she always is. Her part was beautifully and exceptionally well-portrayed I thought. She, the Mother of God, as she watches her Son's Passion, instead of receiving comfort from others, is herself the giver of comfort to Mary Magdalene and John, the beloved disciple. And I love reading the subtitles when not only Our Lord, but John too, addresses Mary simply as "Mother". So beautiful. And as Christ from His cross gave His mother to John, so is she ours. Deo Gratias! Hail Mary, full of grace....

And so we are brought again to Holy Saturday. The boys are still at practice, and their dad is building garden boxes for our good priests at the rectory, where in a couple of weeks he'll plant tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. When they get home we'll finish up preparations here, perhaps give some haircuts and lay out the Easter clothes for later this evening. This is the first year since having the kids that we're not dying Easter eggs. Sniff... yet another sign my little boys are no longer little. But I'll put out the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans after we get home from Mass tonight and the boys are in their beds. Some traditions just stick, whether the boys are getting older or not!

Dear readers, a Happy and Blessed Easter to you all!!
Matthew 28:6
He is not here, for he is risen, as he said.
Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid.
* * *


Friday, April 3, 2015

Look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, upon this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ hesitated not to be delivered into the hands of wicked men, and to undergo the punishment of the cross.


- Good Friday: Tenebrae

Monday, March 16, 2015

Laetare Dinner Theater: Lend Me a Tenor


Emily Crouse, Brian Koehler
You know the evening's entertainment was a big hit when it is all that your family talks about all the way home. Last night was just such an evening: the much-anticipated St. Mary's Assumption 14th Annual Laetare Dinner Theater featuring the Queen's Players under the direction of Mrs. Hilary Flanery. The two weekend performances were produced as a benefit for Queen of the Holy Rosary Academy.

Mrs. Flanery's productions are always delightful, and this year's performance of Lend Me a Tenor, a Comedy in Two Acts by Ken Ludwig, was absolutely no exception. It was quick-paced, quick-witted, well-acted, and it kept the audience in stitches from start to finish.

The story is set in a hotel room in Cleveland in 1934. Opera coordinator Henrietta Saunders, played perfectly by Miss Jane Binsfeld, and her excitable, quick-speaking and star-struck daughter Maggie (Miss Emily Crouse), along with Maggie's boyfriend Max (Mr. Brian Koehler), himself an aspiring young tenor, are all anticipating the imminent arrival of famous operatic tenor Tito Merelli (Mr. Steve Crouse), who is in town to perform the part of Othello for the Cleveland Opera.

Donna Kallal, Steve Crouse
Tito arrives at the hotel room with his wife Maria (Mrs. Hilary Flanery) to the relief of all, but it is only a little while, and many comedic turns later, when Tito finds himself passed out (and thought dead) on the hotel bed, and quite unable to perform. With much arm-twisting by Henrietta, Max suits up as the Othello fill-in, only to be mistaken by many including his dear Maggie, as the real deal, Tito.

The case of mistaken identity plays out with hilarity as the remaining cast members approach the real Tito, "alive" again and in full Othello costume and make-up, all referencing his brilliant performance that evening, which he clearly knows nothing about. Whether it was Miss Lucretia Payne as Diana, an up-and-coming actress begging his positive review for her acting abilities, Miss Violanta Shamija as a hotel bellhop in pursuit of his autograph, or Mrs. Donna Kallal as the over-the-top socialite Julia, who desires every available spotlight on herself, each brought their quick-witted lines with skill and ease to the laughter of the audience.

It would be impossible to single out a star of the show, for the roles were perfectly cast and all played so well. But I must say Steve Crouse was terrific as Tito, the hot-blooded Italian with the Bob Newhart delivery. Dry as a bone and hilarious all the while. And Mrs. Flanery played an equally or more hot-blooded Italian wife Maria with the perfect "out-of-my-way!" Italian accent. And you'd better get out of her way or you might catch a face-full of her disdainful spit! An incomparable pair, those two!

Jane Binsfeld, Hilary Flanery, Donna Kallal
Throughout the play Mrs. Flanery's directorial personal touch kept St. Mary's clergy and parishioners on their toes as cast members were wont to often compare their storyline to life's real actors, the audience members, at every turn. They were all very funny and cleverly placed, but my personal favorite had to be when Max was attempting to throw several adoring fans off his trail when he pointed to the front row of the audience exclaiming, "Look! There's Father Jackson!!", giving him the needed moment to make his getaway.

What an evening! Catered by Genesis catering company, the dinner of roast beef, sides and desserts was delicious, and the company of good friends in the festive Laetare (rejoice!) atmosphere was sublime.

What better way to spend the 4th Sunday of Lent, that Laetare day, breaking the fast momentarily before settling back in for the last penitential weeks before we remember solemnly Christ's Passion! Truly it is His Liturgy in our lives. Deo Gratias!

And so now, dear readers, make certain plans for Laetare Sunday, 2016. Do not miss the Queens Players in their 15th Annual Laetare Dinner Theater weekend. Mark your calendars now, you'll be delighted that you did!

Halfway thru Lent
And we're not spent
It is Laetare Day!

Nor more repent
We make a dent
In fasting, feast away!

Together wine
Together dine
Ambrosia spread so hearty!

Then after nine
All fetes consign to
Lent...after our Cast party!!

By Long-Skirts