The Bells Are Tolling

This month’s issue of the Liguorian (July/August 2012) has an interesting article about bells. I never gave them much thought until our parish put bells into our belfry at the kind bequest of a parishoner.  All of our bells have names and are used regularly. When my mother-in-law died, I particularly remember them tolling mournfully which was actually very moving.

The article says that bells were used to call monks to prayer (c. 400) and people to mass (c.600). Later they were rung during consecration alerting people in the fields of the miracle taking place on the altar so they could make an act of adoration or come to receive communion. Holes sometimes cut out of the floor of the bell tower allowed the priest bell ringer to see what was going on. Bells are still used today in the form of the small Sanctus bells rung by altar servers. Church bells are not rung from the Gloria at the Mass on Holy Thursday until the Gloria sung at the Easter Vigil.

One of the most common uses of the bells was to alert people to say the Angelus (see famous picture left). Usually it was a triple stroke repeated three times. (Click here to hear a sample from Wexford, Ireland) Appropriately enough, the bells were often dedicated to St. Gabriel.

The Catholic Cathedral in Cologne Germany has the largest free standing bell in the world at 24 tons. It’s name is St. Peter. Click here if you want to hear the bells of St. Peter’s in Vatican City tolling when a new Pope is elected. We are fortunate to hear the bells of Marytown tolling  through the walls of the IRL office. They are tolling right now announcing the ten o’clock hour.

Daughter of Mary

While “nuns on the air conditioned bus/van” are getting a lot of attention in the press these days, I couldn’t help but the notice the contrast between this event and the work of a Salesian sister whom I had never heard of until today.

On November 24, 2012, Ven. Maria Troncatti (1883-1969), a Salesian Sister, will be beatified in Macas, Ecuador. Sister Maria made her first profession in 1908 and left for Ecuador in 1922 where she worked among the Shuar people.

She and two other sisters “faced dangers of every kind, including those caused by the beasts of the forest and by fast-flowing rivers that had to be waded through or crossed on fragile “bridges” made from creepers or on the shoulders of Indians. Sr. Maria was nurse, surgeon, orthopaedist, dentist – but, above all, catechist and evangelizer, rich in the wonderful resources of her faith, patience, and fraternal love. Her work for the promotion of the Shuar woman bore fruit in hundreds of new Christian families formed, for the first time, on a free personal choice on the part of the young couple.”

Sr. Maria died in an airplane crash in Ecuador in 1969. Her works bore fruit that will last for all eternity, something that escapes notice of the secular press but not of our Heavenly Father. Her community, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesians) was founded by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Domenica Mazzerello and came to the US in 1908. They are the largest congregation of sisters in the world with over 15,000 sisters and growing!!

Sisters Speak Out on the HHS Mandate

The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church are an IRL Affiliate Community who besides professing the typical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, profess a fourth vow to perform works of charity.  They operate nursing homes, elementary schools, a boarding high school, food pantry and shelter, wherever there is a need to  serve God’s people.

On their website, they have a beautiful write up re: the HHS mandate and why they cannot support it. Here is just a small excerpt:

We joyfully serve the poor and are deeply concerned about the need for universal healthcare for all Americans, rich or poor, working or unemployed, young or aged. We are, nevertheless, firm in our conviction that no law, even one purportedly aimed at the “common good,” can be seen as “good legislation” if it opposes the moral law, requires persons of faith to betray their consciences, and is in flagrant violation of the freedom of religion clause of the Constitution of the United States….We ask all who cherish the freedom of religion given to us by the Constitution, and who stand in opposition to a federal mandate to provide insurance that covers most forms of contraception, to join the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church in earnestly beseeching Almighty God, Source and Protector of all created life that He will inspire our legislative and executive leaders to reverse this onerous decision that threatens the very soul of our nation.
Praised be Jesus Christ.

For the full writeup, click here.

Priestly Vocations Guidelines

The Vatican has issued new guidelines for the recruitment of seminarians with the aim of increasing vocations to the priesthood. I thought the reasons for the decline in vocations was worth noting:

  • having parents who have different hopes for their child’s future;
  • living in a society that marginalizes priests and considers them irrelevant;
  • misunderstanding the gift of celibacy;
  • being disillusioned by the scandal of priests who abused minors;
  • and seeing priests who are too overwhelmed by their pastoral duties to the detriment of their spiritual life

The solution as every one knows lies within the family. Children need to be taught to pray and to see the priesthood as a gift. Obviously, too, involvement in good, solid, orthodox activities for boys are important – altar serving, good Catholic schooling, solid CCD, charity work, introduction to good priests and religious men and women.

For more information, see the Catholic News Service.

One Billion Catholics in Adoration!

The Holy See has unveiled the logo for the Year of Faith which kicks off on October, 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II. What a beautiful image showing the barque of Peter representing the Church as well as the IHS in the sails, the mast as the cross and the sun representing the Eucharist.

The Year of Faith is a beautiful complement to the New Evangelization which calls for all Christians to deepened their relationship with Jesus Christ and to be a witness of that faith with others.

What a beautiful time to rediscover the history of the Catholic Church in America. In October, two of our most illustrious blesseds will be canonized: Kateri Tekakwitha and Marianne Cope. One special event that caught my eye will occur on June, 2, 2012, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, when the Blessed Sacrament will be adored at the same time all over the world. Wow! A billion Catholics adoring Jesus at the same time! If we can muster this strength, we can change the world!

Archbishop Rino Fisichella says, “The crisis of faith is a dramatic expression of an anthropological crisis which has abandoned man to his own devices. We must overcome the spiritual poverty affecting so many of our contemporaries who do no longer perceive the absence of God from their lives as a void that needs to be filled. The Year of Faith, then, is an opportunity which the Christian community offers to the many people who feel nostalgia for God and who desire to rediscover Him.”

St. Romuald Intercedes For Soccer Team?

We are used to sports figures thanking mothers, coaches, wives and sometimes even God after big wins. However, this appears to be somewhat unique in the current annals of sport – an Italian coach who makes a pilgrimage to a Camaldolese Monastery to thank a group of monks after unexpectedly reaching the Euro 2012 (soccer) quarter-finals in Poland.

The Italian team met with the monks whose historical origins are Italian but have a foundation outside Krakow, Poland, before the tournament.  Their coach, Cesare Prandelli, promised to make a pilgrimage to the monastery if the team got out of “Group C.”  After their big win, the coach and his staff, at 3:00 AM in the morning, left their team HQ and walked 13 miles to the monastery which took 3 1/2 hours.

The Camaldolese were founded by  Saint Romuald (11th C.) and trace their heritage to the 6th century monastic traditions of Saint Benedict and the reforms of Saint Romuald.

The Holy Hermitage of Camaldoli commemorated the 1,000th anniversary of its foundation by St. Romuald on June 19, the saint’s feast day. Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, Pope Benedict’s special envoy for the commemoration, was the principal celebrant at the hermitage’s June 19th Mass.

Drawing upon the Desert Fathers, St. Romuald encouraged some monks to live in solitude as hermits. “Saint Romuald, the father of the Camaldolese monks, striving for eremetic life and discipline, wandered through Italy for many years, building monasteries and tirelessly promoting the evangelical life among monks,” Pope Benedict recalled in his letter for the anniversary.

Franciscan Family Photo

I have a soft spot in my heart for the friars at the St. Francis of Assisi Novitiate in Mishawaka, Indiana, so I am happy to post this photo of the novices and friars and Friar Thomas’ parents who came for a visit.  I am also happy to report that the number of novices in their new “class” will be almost double that of the prior class. The Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of young men!

The Conventual Franciscans of the St. Bonaventure Province are an IRL Affiliate Community. We are fortunate that the IRL’s HQ (modest though it is) is located on the grounds of Marytown, a beautiful perpetual adoration  shrine and retreat house run by the Conventuals in Libertyville, Illinois. It is also the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Come for a quiet holy hour or come for a stay at this most beautiful oasis of serenity and prayer!

The Fruit of Silence

The latest issue (6/17/12) of Our Sunday Visitor cites a study whose findings indicate that nearly a quarter of millennial Catholics will leave the Church by age 24. The study also states that a majority of them believe in abortion rights and same-sex “marriage.”

In the midst of these gloomy findings, however, are the stories of 6 young, committed Catholics evangelists, each doing it in his or her own way. I highlight here the story of one of them: Sr. Evangeline Suprenant, OP, from the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, because she is the daughter of one of our Advisory Board members, Leon Suprenant.  Sr. Evangeline (now age 24) entered religious life immediately after high school. Why wait, she said, when the call was so clear?

Here is her beautiful advice to young women discerning a vocation. “I recommend cultivating a spirit of silence. Go to daily Mass as often as possible and sit in the presence of the Eucharist. Get to know Christ. Develop a friendship with him. Also make sure you know your Faith, who you are, and the truth about the world around you. In the end, it comes down to what Blessed John Paul II said: ‘Be not afraid.’ When you’re looking in a perfectly open way, with no fear, to fall in love with God and enter whatever vocation he calls you to, he’ll lead you to it. He’s already placed the call on your heart. You just have to listen for it. It really is that simple.”

Fortnight For Freedom

The US Bishops suggest that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country.

Maybe at a minimum we can join the bishops in saying this urgent prayer for religious liberty.

Almighty God, Father of all nations,
For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1).
We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,
the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good.
Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties;
By your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,
and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click here for the full document on religious liberty and the threats against it in our country.

The Hidden Life of Ephesus

On April 15, 2012, 4 novices of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, professed for the first time their vows of stability, obedience and conversion of life. Sr. Assumpta of Jesus Christ the King, Sr. Jean-Marie of the Merciful Love of God, Sr. Columba of Jesus Crucified and Sr. Philomena of the Sacred Wounds of Our Lord form part of this young community that was founded under the aegis of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in 1995. In March 2006, they moved to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri.

Their Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus takes it name from the city of Ephesus where, according to Tradition, Our Lady lived and perhaps died (though some believe that may have happened in Jerusalem).  Having received a call to emulate Our Lady in her final, hidden years, they offer their lives in prayer and sacrifice for priests. The entire 150 psalms with their hymns are chanted throughout the week and they use the 1962 Monastic Office, with its traditional Gregorian Chant, in Latin.

In addition to recording some beautiful CD’s of sacred music, the sisters also sell altar cloths, vestments, and sacred linens.