Monday, June 30, 2008

Holy Martyrs

Being on vacation has given me time for some of my favorite things: Daily Mass and Liturgy of the Hours.

Many nights I go to bed with the intention of making 6:30 AM Mass before work. With the price of gas I am back to carpooling which makes that difficult. It also doesn't help that I am terrible at getting out of bed in the morning!

This morning I woke up before the alarm - yea, I set the alarm on vacation - and was able to get to Church about 30 minutes before Mass. This gave me ample time to pray Morning Prayer and prepare for Mass. Both (Mass and today's Office) were celebrating the feast of the "First Martyrs of the Church of Rome". You may recall that yesterday was the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul who were also martyrs. Today we celebrate all those martyrs that died as a result of Nero's persecution of the Christians in 64 AD.

I had a couple of thoughts as Mass went on and as I prayed the the Office throughout the day. The first is that from age 3 to 22 I lived in a parish named Holy Martyrs. I even went to the parish grade school. And today I am pretty certain that the parish was named for the martyrs whose feast we celebrated today but I can't ever recall anyone telling us that when I was there. The feast day didn't fall during the school year so that "teaching" opportunity wasn't available. In Father's homily this morning he stated that today's feast was instituted in the universal church in 1969 but was always celebrated in Rome. Certainly I should have heard at least once between 1969 and 1983 when I moved out of my parent's home the story behind our parish name. Maybe I did and just wasn't paying attention!

The other thought was a comparison between myself and both the martyrs whose deaths we celebrate today and the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul that we celebrated yesterday. What kept going through my mind was how selfish and self-centered I was - and can still be from time to time - before I got sober. And how in sobriety the twelve steps are used to rein in that "self" to the point where I can and must be of service to my fellow man. And what better role models than the two saints and the martyrs that the Church brought to our attention the last couple of days. Today I thank God again for for my sobriety and the AA program that brought me back to the Catholic faith. I will watch what I pray for because to be a saint you must be dead and to be a martyr you must die for the faith, usually a horrible death. Instead I ask our Lord and Savior to continue to work in and through me to help bring me closer to Him and put me in situations where I can continue to be of service to Him and my fellow man, following the example of the saints and martyrs.

TLM (Traditional Latin Mass)

Thank you, Lord, for vacations!

Not only am I getting to spend more time with my family but more time with the Lord!

Yesterday I made that TLM Mass that I was so looking forward to. It was definitely different than anything I have experienced before. I was born in 1961 so I made my First Holy Communion at the altar rail but the Mass was in English and the priest was facing me. Yesterday I again received Holy Communion kneeling at the altar rail. The whole experience was just plain different. It seemed more holy, more mysterious, more like I'm a sinner and really in need of God. I also felt that I was being led in the Mass and that as the priest offered prayers they were actually to God instead of him staring out into space. On the other hand there was very little participation on the part of the people, no interaction (Kiss of Peace), not even an Amen! when receiving Holy Communion.

So for now I don't think it better or worse, just different. Since I haven't experienced it before, I spent (too much) time using the Latin-English booklet which was a great help. So much so that I went to one of my favorite Catholic booksellers, Mark over at ,and ordered a few copies. Paid the expedited shipping and I should have them in plenty of time to study before next Sunday and be able to follow better. Click here to see the Latin-English Booklet Missal they use).

One of the real highlights, though, was the precision with which the Altar Servers assisted at Mass. Their reverence, attention, etc. all reminded me of how much I enjoyed and how seriously I took my role as an Altar Boy many moons ago!

I'll post another update on the TLM experience next week.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Tired......and another blog to check out

Well it took us a little longer than expected to get to our "vacation destination" today. For the first time ever I had the wonderful experience to get out of the car in the middle of I-95 just south of Selma, NC for an hour or so. Unfortunately there was a terrible wreck - we saw the car on the back of a flatbed heading north while we were parked in the soutbound lanes. If the folks who were in that car survived it is a miracle.

Anyway - we took our time and spent about 7 hours on the road today so I am wiped out but wanted to check email, etc. Down the left side of this blog you'll see the blogs I check out and now I am adding to them because those blogs lead to other blogs and, well, you get the picture.

So over on Sober Catholic, Paul put up a link to Adrienne's blog. If you are a Catholic in recovery I think you might want to check out her blog here. She did a 15 part series entitled "12 Steps for Catholics". I only just started to read it myself and already think it's work passing on to others.

Looking forward to hitting the beach for a little while tomorrow before making that TLM Mass at 5:30 tomorrow evening. Michael (our 9-year-old) says he wants to go with me, too!

And now, "Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace". (Antiphon from Night Prayer in the The Liturgy of the Hours".

Theology of the Body

I frequent and support a great Catholic website called Catholic Exchange.

Today I got an email from them about a new "channel" they started with all kinds of inormation and insight into Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body". From the email:

Catholic Theologians have just begun to study and fully understand this rich body of work left for us by John Paul the Great, but it is already bearing fruit in thousands of lives touched by the Divine "One Flesh" vision for men and women. Here is the loving answer of the Church to a society that devalues the human person and tries to pit male and female against each other.

Leading us in this exploration are over a dozen writers and teachers who will be regularly contributing to this channel as well as talented and thoughtful guest columnists.

A list of these outstanding authors can be seen by putting your cursor over the "Columnists" link on the on the white navigation bar at the top of the TOB channel. Coordinating the contributors to this new channel is Steve Pokorny. Steve has an MA in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, received training from Christopher West, and will be completing his studies at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in 2009.

I highly recommend checking it out. Here's the link again in case you missed it above: TOB Channel

Friday, June 27, 2008


Counting down the minutes until we start our family vacation. My mother-in-law was born and raised in and around Charleston, SC and we often spend our vacations on nearby Isle of Palms. In addition to getting caught up with family members we'll be spending two weeks on the beach, fishing, golfing and just plain relaxing.

One of the things I'm hoping to do this year is make the 5:30 Mass at Stella Maris Church on neighboring Sullivans Island. It's a TLM (Tridentine Latin Mass) which I have never attended. I was born around the start of Vatican II and am old enough to remember making my First Holy Communion kneeling at the altar rail but the Mass was already in English and the priest was facing me. So I am really looking forward to attending a Latin Mass.

I'll have the laptop with me (for pleasure only!) so will continue to post. One of the troubling things now is how dependent we have become on these computers for things like directions, movie listings, looking up telephone numbers. But one of the other benefits are websites like that let you get Mass times (as well as Eucharist adoration, confess, etc.) for just about anywhere you travel. That's exactly how I learned about the Mass at Stella Maris.

And one of the other things I hope to do is to read a couple new books that just arrived, in particular a book that contains writings by Tertullian, Origen and St. Cyprian on the Lord's Prayer. Two weeks ago the Office of Readings had excerpts from St. Cyprian's treatise on the Lord's Prayer. The little research I did revealed that St. Cyprian used the Lord's Prayer as a teaching tool in the 4th century when evangelizing non-Christians so I am looking forward to reading it in its entirety along with what Origen and Tertullian have written. Before getting into it though I'll be finishing up "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis which is great reading!

I should also mention that I found a great website to catalog your library ( and then link to it from a blog. Down near the bottom left you'll see some book covers and a link. I'll be keeping this up to date with what I'm currently reading so feel free to drop me a line if you have an interest in or have read what I'm currently reading.

Thanks for reading and the next post will be from Isle of Palms, SC!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

So what became of the project?

Just to bring my previous post to conclusion -

In my attempt to find that article about Catholics and twelve steps program I did various searches. I never found that article and I am 100% certain it was out there! But what I did find was The Calix Soxiety. Here, there were a few laymen and a priest back in 1957 who had the same idea, i.e finding a way to combine the AA twelve-step program with the Catholic faith. Here was an organization that had already gone through the pains whenever an endeavor such as this is undertaken. They had materials, suggestions and some wonderful folks that were ready to help me get started.

We held our first meeting in January of 2007 and 18 months later we have almost 20 confirmed members. We meet on the last Saturday of each month at my parish (St. Luke the Evangelist in Glenside, PA) for Mass at 8:30 AM and then gather for a meeting that usually goes until 10:30 AM. Click here for our unit's website and please send an email or comment if you have any interest in starting a Calix unit in your area!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Am I Getting Myself Into?

I've thought about starting my own blog for some time now and reading a couple others I thought I just might have something to offer. Maybe....Maybe not. But I'm going to give it a shot.

I am a recovering alcoholic and am active in my Catholic faith, AA and The Calix Society (see for details). After being sober a short time I returned to my Catholic roots and I have somehow been able to mingle the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous with the Catholic faith in order to live a happy and sober life. I thank God every day for the Catholic upbringing I had and for every drink I had to drink in order to find AA. It was through AA that I learned about spirituality and the adage, "religion is for people afraid of going to hell; spirituality is for people who have already been there!" And I've been there (and dragged a few others with me)! I have now come to learn and love Catholic spirituality!

So I'm sure you are asking, "Where did you come up with the title for this blog?" Well it's a long story that I'll post later because (at least I think) it is rather interesting. But the short version is that after becoming active in a few ministries in my parish - lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, leading faith sharing groups and a bible study - I wanted to study the Catholic faith. I tried on my own for a few years when a co-worker introduced me to The Church Ministry Institute, a 3-year program offered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for lay Catholic ministers.

Part of the program was to start or get involved in a ministry in your parish with the approval of your pastor. I was constantly getting messages to do something for Catholics in recovery, to the point where I knew I had to do something!

I started attending more Big Book meetings and studying the steps while reading more about Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises. My goal was to come up with a "program" of sorts for these Catholics in recovery. And the name of the program was to be "We Are Not Saints...YET!"

When it came time to get approval from my pastor he let me know that he had other plans for me. I was disappointed to say the least but truly believed that God must have had something else in mind for me. Well the Monsignor's plans also faded and I was given permission to continue what I had started.

Early on in my research I came across an article on the Internet - which I have not been able to locate again - that basically stated that Catholics should not participate in Alcoholics Anonymous primarily because of a line in "How It Works" that states "We are not saints." As Catholics each and every one of us are called to be saints and believe that when we enter heaven we are indeed saints. So it only follows that Catholics in recovery are on a spiritual journey that will hopefully culminate in our spending eternity with God, and thus a saint!

Welcome to my blog and I hope you come back soon! Ken J