Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ham Grinders, Milano's style

Bob and three of our boys traveled back home to the "old country" of Dayton Ohio, where we were born and raised. Among the happy meetings with friends and family, there were many happy meals at all our favorite restaurants. Thinks Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives!

A great imitation Milano's Ham Grinder

A list of "must eats" in Dayton/Cincinnati included:

Mamma DiSalvo's
White Castle
Flying Pizza
Skyline Chili
Milano's Subs
Frisch's Big Boy
Tilton Hilton (at Indian Lake, OH)
and of course, Marion's Pizza

Upon returning home, Bob was able to re-create the famous "Ham Grinder" from Milano's. This makes for a great quick dinner or weekend lunch, sandwich for all the bowl games or New Years parties.

Slice a nice hoagie roll in half, length-wise. We think Publix's hoagies are as close to Milano's home made hoagies as you can get in Florida. On one half, spread a thin layer of Hellman's mayonaise on it, topped by some chopped onion and a sprinkle of crushed red peppers (shaker peppers).  On the other half, spoon on some spaghetti sauce (they brought Mamma DiSalvo's home!) then top with cheddar cheese. Chop up a bunch of deli ham and put it on the baking sheet next to the two halves of the hoagie. Put it all in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or so to thoroughly heat. Scoop up the ham from the baking sheet onto he hoagie, put the two halves together and ENJOY!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Musselman Christmas Letter 2010

One went to college.  One went to kindergarten.

That’s the way it was around the Musselman house in 2010.  A year of changes, but familiar feelings that seemed like déjà vu all over again.  Though the first day of kindergarten, and opening day at Little League, sure feel different when you’re 46, not 33.

Bobby, 19, went off to Florida State University, majoring in Chemical Sciences (I think).  We haven’t heard much, but assume he’s doing ok—if you hear from him, let us know what he says.  Over Christmas we hope to get caught up.

Kate, 6, started kindergarten.  She’s a real girly girl, much to Julie’s chagrin and secret pleasure.  Mary, almost 9, is in third grade.  She likes to get up early—like —and walk with Julie.  It’s a chance for her to get some precious alone time with her mother—“Mommy, can we skip the Rosary and just talk?”

John, 16 and a junior, continues to be our family’s maintenance man along with getting good grades in the challenging IB program at St. Petersburg High, being active in service clubs and lettering in golf.  He’s also an excellent cook—his Alfredo sauce is awesome.

Joey, 13, is in eighth grade and blessed with a big social network and a million dollar smile.  He’s getting tall like his older brothers and hopes to graduate from flag football to high school football next year.

Will, 11, speaking of football, is the biggest kid in fifth grade, but his love is baseball.  He rooted the Tampa Bay Rays all the way to the playoffs this year and anchors his little league team at first base.

It’s been a blessed year, in that we’ve gotten through it.  All the good mentioned above, and much more in our hearts, trumps all the bad and ugly of 2010.  We’re looking forward to the joys and sorrows of 2011 and beyond, with faith and trust that God will give us the grace to handle anything that comes our way.

A blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.
Bob Musselman
Julie, Bobby, John, Joey, Will, Mary and Kate
St. Petersburg, FL

See all the Christmas Letters on the "Musselman Christmas Letter" page above right.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas at St. Raphael's

First the "Holy Hoovers" vacuum and clean the church. Then the "Mary and Martha Brigade" follow. They begin by attending mass and praying the rosary. This is the "Mary" part. Then the "Martha" part takes over as these ladies roll up their sleeves and get to work decorating the church.

This year was special as we had four young girls assist. Bella and Selma are sisters who came with their mother Michelle. Mary and Kate came with me. We brought in all the poinsettias, put out chairs, arranged the manger scene, put on the white cape for the Infant of Prague and then decorated the four Christmas trees. Led by a sweet group of "seasoned" veterans, we ladies had a great time transforming the church and serving our parish.
Selma and Mary decorate Christmas trees

Kate, Sharon and Bella decorate St. Raphael's Church

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter at Indian Lake

John, Joey and Will standing on frozen Indian Lake in front of Musselmans' old cottage
 When Bob was growing up, his family had a home on Indian Lake, in Russells Point, OH. I went there for the first time when I was 15. We always rang in the New Year there. We were engaged on a pontoon boat there when I was 19. Until the mid 80s when the house was sold, Bob and I and his family and neighbors spent many happy weekends there. We had happy summer weekends singing "Get Down On It" on the Searay boat. We had many happy winter weekends on snow mobiles running on the ice. We had great neighbors who played cards and board games with us and cooked food in the "pot" for a true pot luck.

This week Bob is back in Ohio, touring the "old country" with three of our sons. They are hitting all the old haunts; Our childhood homes, St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, Marion's Pizza, University of Dayton, Milano's, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Flying Pizza, Mama DiSalvo's, White Castle, Frisch's Big Boy and the Tilton Hilton. (Note heavy emphasis on food--but you can't get any of that in Florida!) Primarily, they are visiting with many aunts, uncles and old friends.

What better way to prepare for Christmas then to reunite with friends and family--all the while having a big, long, snowy drive with your sons!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Advent

"The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us.'"
Is 7:14 and Mt 1:23

In today's first reading from the prophet Isaiah, we have the original prophecy of the sign that God will give to show His faithfulness to His promises to Abraham and David. Ahaz the King of Judah, in the line of David, has not been faithful to the covenant. Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, but he won't. Yet God is ever faithful and to show His faithfulness, God Himself will provide the sign.

St. Matthew's gospel then quotes this passage from Isaiah and shows how in the most difficult circumstances of an unplanned pregnancy, God has now fulfilled the prophecy from hundreds of year before.

Many people today look for signs. Our faith is weak. We want to know for certain. We want a message, a confirmation, a plan, a sign. But Jesus is really the only sign we need. God became Man, Creator entered into creation. He came and fulfilled perfectly all the Old Testament prophecies. He is the sign that God so loved the world that He sent His only son.

And yet, God knows our weakness and so He does give us other signs. Sometimes the sign comes in the form of a phone call, a friendship, a happy event that comes to pass. And sometimes a sign comes in the form of a difficulty, a broken relationship, an illness, a death. When we look at the events in our lives with the eyes of faith, we can see these signs. May we keep our eyes on Jesus, The Sign, and look around for the other smaller signs too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

O Antiphons begin December 17

The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphons  used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent. The importance of the "O Antiphons" is twofold. First, each one is a title for the Messiah. Secondly, each one refers to the prophecy of  Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.

They are:
  • December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David )
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is with us )

December 17
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Isaiah had prophesied: "The spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord." Is 11:2-3  "[...] He is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." Is 28:29

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Catholic Home Recipe

Nora and the Giant Burrito
My younger sister Colleen and husband Jon have 5 children. With a busy household, there is always lots to do each afternoon and dinner is sometimes hard to plan. Colleen is lucky like me in that her husband likes to cook. Inspired by the Food Network and perhaps Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Giant Burrito was created.

Colleen writes,  "Jon took 4 large burritos and overlapped them.  He put ground beef on one side and chicken on the other and layered Mexican rice and refried beans over the meats.  He rolled it up and put enchilada sauce, queso and Mexican cheese on top, and baked for 20-30 minutes at 350.  Each of us had a big slice with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole on top."

During these hectic days of Advent, let's make this simple meal for our families. Let's gather everyone home, light the candles on the advent wreath and use the extra time saved by having a quick and simple meal to pray the rosary (or even just a decade) after dinner.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

St. John of the Cross

Ordained a Carmelite priest at 25 (1567), John met St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and like her vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God!

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John's spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly "of the Cross." He died at 49—a life short, but full.

Thomas Merton said of John: "Just as we can never separate asceticism from mysticism, so in St. John of the Cross we find darkness and light, suffering and joy, sacrifice and love united together so closely that they seem at times to be identified."

--From Saint of the Day by St. Anthony Messenger Press

Fun Fact:
Fr. Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) considered entering the Discalced Carmelite Monastery as a young man, but in 1945 gave up that idea in order to become a parish priest. Fr. Wojtyla was always inspired by St. John of the Cross, so much so, that he taught himself Spanish with the goal to read St. John of the Cross in the original language written.

--from Witness to Hope by George Weigel

Friday, December 10, 2010

Third Sunday of Advent

Pope Benedict XVI
The Third Sunday of advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. The Latin term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, and means "Rejoice". Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.

Today the first reading and gospel reading at mass fit so beautifully together. The first reading is from Isaiah chapter 35. We read in  verses 5 and 6 "then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing."

In St. Matthew's gospel from chapter 11,  the disciples of John the Baptist are questioning Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?" Jesus replies by reference to Isaiah 35:5-6 “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Jesus' answer may seem cryptic to us, why doesn't He just answer the question Yes or No? We have to remember that Matthew was writing to a primarily Jewish audience who would have been very familiar with Isaiah and the Old Testament scriptures. By referring them back to Isaiah 35, which is predicting Israel's deliverance from foreigners, Jesus is very specifically answering them. By referring to the outward healings that Jesus is performing, He is fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would restore and heal. And all of these outward physical healings are pointing to the internal deliverance and healing from sin that Jesus can perform any time for everyone of us.

Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, we all our healed from the sins that weigh us down. Many parishes offer a lot of confession times during advent in addition to the regular Saturday times. Sacramental confession is such a gift of Jesus and His church. In it we are not only forgiven of our sins but we are given grace that helps us avoid sin in the future.  If you haven't been to confession in a while, please "give yourself the gift" of a clean heart for the Christ child for this Christmas.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 9th we celebrate the feast of St. Juan Diego and three days later, December 12th, is the usual feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is preempted this year by the Third Sunday of Advent.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the title of Mary as she appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531 asking him to have a church built in her name. St. Juan told the Bishop of the request and he asked for a sign. Mary sent St. Juan to the top of a hill in mid-December, to gather roses there.

When St. Juan returned to the Bishop carrying the roses in his tilma (a poor quality cactus-cloth) they discovered that Mary's image was imprinted on the tilma.

There are many interesting facts about the apparition one of which is that the image can still be seen today on the actual tilma. The tilma should have deteriorated within 20 years of the apparition but it has not. Another interesting fact is that when scientists use a microscope to look into the eyes of Mary on the image, they can see what was in front of Mary that day in 1531.

But the reason I love this title of Our Lady so much is that at the time that Our Lady appeared and in the  20years that followed it is estimated that more than 9 million native Mexicans were converted to the Catholic Faith. And this all happened at the very same time of the Protestant reformation in Europe, were many there were leaving the Church.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of the United States, of the Americas and of the Unborn. This last patronage is because in the image, she is pregnant (we know this because of the black belt she is wearing.)
All of us working toward an end to abortion need to constantly invoke our Mother's prayers under this title for the unborn and their mothers.

A fun family idea to honor these feast days is to have a Mexican dinner. Tacos, beans, rice, nachos are all easy to make and each member of the family can add their ingredients. (see post on December 15 for Giant Burrito recipe!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Aunt Barbara and the Angel

Decorating traditions bring Central Ohioans comfort and joy

Sunday, November 21, 2010  03:02 AM

By Jim Weiker

Barbara Schmitz poses with an angel given to her by her brother.
Aunt Barbara with an angel from Uncle Johnny

Barbara Schmitz, Dublin, Ohio  
When decorating the family tree in 1972, Barbara Schmitz hung a small, clear plastic angel. The ornament was new that year, but Schmitz didn't mention it to anyone. It was her quiet way of acknowledging the baby she lost to a miscarriage eight months earlier.    The next year, the Dublin woman bought another angel ornament. Each Christmas she added another.   

This angel from Barbara Schmitz's collection of about 75 figurines belonged to her mother."I kept it to myself for a long time," said Schmitz, now 69 and the mother of three. "After I told people, my family, friends and relatives all started giving me angel ornaments."    Schmitz estimates that she now has 75 of the decorations, in all shapes, sizes and materials - glass, wood, pewter, paper, porcelain, steel, even a shell angel from Hawaii and a small plastic red angel once filled with juice that her daughter bought long ago at the checkout counter of a   Gold Circle store. The angel ornaments became so numerous that she bought a larger tree a few years ago to accommodate them all.   

When she decorates this week, Schmitz will place the angels on the tree randomly - except for her first one, which is always front and center.    "I always wanted to believe it was a little girl we lost, and that now she's an angel watching over me."     

See full story at

Sunday, November 28, 2010

With God in Russia by Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.

For several months I had seen his prayer card at our children's school. Just a regular looking older priest. Not a saint (yet), not someone famous (yet), but an ordinary looking man on a prayer card. I turned it over to find out who guy was. Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J., a Jesuit, huh.

Then I read Fr. James Martin's book My Life with the Saints. Fr. Martin refers to Fr. Ciszek several times. He talks about his life and his writings.

Then at Blessed Trinity parish in Ocala, I found his book With God in Russia . This is often how God speaks to me, in small unnoticiable ways. But third time's a charm, same guy-I had to buy it.

I started reading it right away. I could hardly put it down. From the synopsis on the book:

Father Walter Ciszek, S.J.,  tells here the gripping, astounding story of his twenty-three years in Russian prison camps in Siberia, how he was falsely imprisoned as an "American spy", the incredible rigors of daily life as a prisoner, and his extraordinary faith in God and commitment to his priestly vows and vocation. He said Mass under cover, in constant danger of death. He heard confession of hundreds who could have betrayed him; he aided spiritually many who could have gained by exposing him.

This is a remarkable story of personal experience. It would be difficult to write fiction that could honestly portray the heroic patience, endurance, fortitude and complete trust in God lived by Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.

For me, sitting in my comfy bed, reading this book mostly at the end of a warm day in Florida, the contrast of my life and his was extreme. I marveled not only at his deep faith, but his ability to do hard manual labor in the freezing cold year round temperatures of Russia. Although he could not perform the regular duties of a priest throughout the day, he found ways to hear confessions and occasionally say mass. But through it all, Ciszek never stopped praying. We do well to imitate that practice, to pray without ceasing.

This book makes World War II and prison camps come alive. To me this is the best way to learn history, through the stories of the real people that actually lived through it.

I highly recommend this book.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Policing the yard

My mother came to our house three days a week from 2000-2005 to help me with the children. When she moved to Florida in August 2000, we had four boys age 8 years-10 months. Our daughters were born in 2001 and 2004. To say she was an enormous help to our family is an understatement.

Each day, she would come about 7:30 am. Many times I would still be in bed. Mom had been up since 5am, walked, prayed the rosary with dad, showered, etc and walked in our door full of joy and energy. I would do my best to crawl out of bed. Mom would get the boys to start gathering trash and laundry. Then she would get them breakfast, clean the kitchen and then it was time to "police the yard." Policing the yard means waking around and doing anything that needs to be done; picking up sticks, moving the trash cans, pulling weeds, cleaning up toys around the pool etc.

The boys would generally groan when Nana would say in her cheery voice "come on boys, time to police the yard." But she made it fun and they loved to be with her.

Kate, age 6 and Mary, age 8-1/2, "policing the yard"
Today Mary, age 8, was helping me pick up sticks from around the yard. When we came in the house she told the boys we had "policed the yard." I hadn't thought of that phrase in several years. But I am glad she said it and even more glad she did it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What I am thankful for this year

5/6ths of the Musselman children:  John, Joey, Will, Mary and Kate
What I am thankful for this year:

My mom, Kate age 6
My chinchillas, Mary age 8
My beautiful home, will age 11
Sleep, Joey age 13
My car, John age 16
Mom and Dad, Bobby age 19
My wife, Bob
Faith, family and health, Julie

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and vision for tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blessed Miguel Pro

Fr. Miguel Pro right before his death by a firing squad
¡Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King) were the last words Father Pro uttered before he was executed for being a Catholic priest and serving his flock.
Born into a prosperous, devout family in Guadalupe de Zacatecas, he entered the Jesuits in 1911 but three years later fled to Granada, Spain, because of religious persecution in Mexico. He was ordained in Belgium in 1925.
He immediately returned to Mexico, where he served a Church forced to go "underground." He celebrated the Eucharist clandestinely and ministered the other sacraments to small groups of Catholics.
He and his brother Roberto were arrested on trumped-up charges of attempting to assassinate Mexico's president. Roberto was spared but Miguel was sentenced to face a firing squad on November 23, 1927. His funeral became a public demonstration of faith. He was beatified in 1988.

In 1927 when Father Miguel Pro was executed, no one could have predicted that 52 years later the bishop of Rome would visit Mexico, be welcomed by its president and celebrate open-air Masses before thousands of people. Pope John Paul II made additional trips to Mexico in 1990, 1993 and 1999. Those who outlawed the Catholic Church in Mexico did not count on the deeply rooted faith of its people and the willingness of many of them, like Miguel Pro, to die as martyrs.
During his homily at the beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II said that Father Pro "is a new glory for the beloved Mexican nation, as well as for the Society of Jesus. His life of sacrificing and intrepid apostolate was always inspired by a tireless evangelizing effort. Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away (see John 16:22). Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death."

from: Saint of the Day

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Homily of Fr. Gary Dowsey, Feast of Christ the King

One of the distinct privileges I have working with Lighthouse Catholic Media is to visit many parishes around the Diocese of St. Petersburg and State of Florida. Today I was at Our Lady of Lourdes in Dunedin, FL. The pastor, Fr. Gary Dowsy gave a great homily, reprinted below with his permission.

Fr. Gary Dowsey at the consecration of Mass on the Feast of Christ the King
"There has been a lot of royal frenzied activity in Britain since the announcement of the engagement and forthcoming marriage of Prince William and his now fiancée Kate Middleton. You may think that the British are somewhat obsessed by all things royal and you would be somewhat right, though not as much as they were in the past. One media reporter stated that the impending royal occasion diverts attention, if only briefly, from the reality of life in the midst of recession. This comment sparked a discussion on the cost of such an event in the midst of a deep economic downturn that continues to affect us all.

The whole concept of monarchy in a country such as the United States, which swept it from its shores in order to claim independence from a foreign power, must seem very odd. It seems to conflict directly with the truth that all of us have been created equally in God’s eyes and that people should not be honored for a title they bear but for who they are. If titles are given to us they should obviously reflect who we are and not be in conflict with the way we live our lives.

There is always a danger in placing too much trust in people who bear titles of honour. Our hopes and trust can easily be dashed. Today’s first reading is about Saul’s successor, King David. He was young and handsome and daring. He captured Jerusalem as the royal city. He who once shepherded sheep now shepherded, that is, protected, the people of Israel. David was not a king with a stiff upper lip. He was wild and crazy enough to strip down to his boxers and dance before the Ark of the Covenant. The people loved him. David was a marvelous king who restored God’s people. But he had feet of clay like the rest of us. He was vain, deceitful, crooked and lustful. King David drank too much and had affairs with married women. If he lived today he would rival the antics of the British royal family (God forgive me Your Majesty the Queen for such a comment!) and, no doubt, appear on the cover of People magazine.

One thousand years later, when Jesus, the one who called himself the Good Shepherd, rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, they greeted him as royalty by waving palms and crying out hosannas and calling him the Son of David because like David, Jesus was a shepherd king until the end. But unlike David, this King was without sin and restored all of God’s people, not the few, but the many, not one nation but every nation with the gift of salvation.

This feast of Christ the King, which closes the Church’s liturgical year, was instituted only eighty five years ago by Pope Pius XI on December 11th, 1925. Pope Pius was having to deal with a global leadership problem that needed a Gospel solution. It was the time of the rise of dictators. The world had seen Lenin take over Russia and was watching Stalin soar to power. Hitler’s popularity was growing in Germany and Mussolini had already ruled Italy for three years. The sovereignty of Christ was being challenged and replaced by the rise of secularism and communism. People were being forced, coerced, and manipulated to place their trust in the sovereignty of certain individuals rather than that of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who is the image of the invisible God, our Savior Jesus Christ.

It is amazing how quickly we can be swayed by strong, charismatic, personalities with feet of clay and hearts of stone, in rejecting the values of the true and everlasting kingdom. How fickle we are, persuaded by the last argument rather than remaining steadfast in the truth and values of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus was very direct in his conversation with Pilate when he said that his kingdom was not of this world. It was out of this world, it turns the values of this world upside down and inside out. Jesus had no standing army but he did have followers. He wore no crown of gold, but one of thorns. He did not use his authority to take life but to give it. He did not set boundaries or entertain only the nobility; he welcomed prostitutes, tax collectors, foreigners and thieves.

He did not exploit people but spoke sympathetically of widows, prodigals, Samaritans and the poor. He did not wield the sword of punishment but extended mercy and forgiveness: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” He did not coerce; he invited, and rather than tax his subjects to pay the debts of his monarchy, he laid down his own life so that the “debt” of human sin would be forgiven. He did not come to conquer but to save. His throne is not made of gold and precious stones but wood and nails. His throne was cast from a tree and made into a cross. This is Christ, our King, to whom we give all glory, honor and praise. This truly is the image of the invisible God.

The Kingship of Christ does not remove us from reality but makes us face it head on. The throne of Jesus, the Cross, confronts us with so many of the struggles and challenges of today’s world: humility, suffering, death, injustice, torture. All that is destructive of our humanity, of our equality as sons and daughters of God, is embraced on this throne of glory and redeemed by our loving God.
What an amazing promise is given to the criminal who hangs next to Christ, a promise we would all hope to hear as we prepare to die: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” This proves that it is never too late to be rescued by God and forgiven. In taking his last breath this criminal was born into eternal life.

Fr. Gary Dowsey
As Jesus reigns from the cross he teaches us the values that matter, the values that have a lasting consequence: reconciling love, justice, forgiveness and the kingdom of heaven. As we celebrate this beautiful feast, and conclude the Church’s year, let the values of Christ’s Kingdom continue to permeate our hearts and change our lives. Only the values of Christ’s Kingdom can direct us into eternity. No earthly ruler must ever be allowed to have dominion over our hearts for this is where Christ alone must reign. To Him be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Solemnity of Christ the King

This Sunday November 21 is the Feast of Christ the King. This is the last Sunday of the Church Year. Advent starts the new liturgical year and begins Sunday November 28. Each liturgical year in the Church focuses on a particular gospel. We just are leaving the year “C” which focused on the gospel of St. Luke and are entering into year “A” which will focus on the gospel of St. Matthew.

Pope Benedict XVI has said that Christ's kingship is based on loving and serving others. The feast day was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925.

The Feast of Christ the King is very special to me. About 12 years ago, when I first started listening to talks by Scott and Kimberly Hahn, they often mentioned "the Lordship of Jesus Christ." As protestants, they were convicted that Jesus must be Lord of all, if He is to be at all. That means Lord overyour time, Lord over our money, Lord over our heart, mind and soul and all our actions too. This feast celebrates that Lordship. And I pray, that I turn over every aspect of my life, more and more completely to Jesus who is completely trustworthy.

Congratulations to Fr. David Toups who is being installed as Pastor at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa, FL on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Bishop Robert N. Lynch will preside at the installation mass at 9 am.

To read Fr. Toup's blog for the Feast of Christ the King, visit

"Drain Me of Me" by Gus Lloyd

I got a chance to  read through a great blog today and this prayer really hit me. It is similar to the humility prayer. Hope it blesses you on your walk with the Lord today. 

Drain Me of Me

By Gus Lloyd

Father, I am so full of myself.
I know that if I truly wish to serve you,
If I truly wish to share your word and your love,
This must not be the way.
And so today, Father, I ask you:
Drain me of me
Of all the self-inflated ego
Drain me
Of all the harsh judgement that comes so easily
Drain me
Of all jealousy and resentment
Drain me
Of all the desire for attention and adulation
Drain me
Of all attachment to the flesh
Drain me
Of all that is not of you
Drain me
And when I am emptied, unencumbered by
The stuff and nonsense of the world,
No longer weighed down by the heaviness
And burdens put upon me by myself
Or the dark forces of the evil one
Fill me with your Spirit,
For your Spirit has no chains,
Your Spirit recognizes no boundaries,
Your Spirit is lightness and light,
Your Spirit allows me to soar
As on eagle’s wings.
And so, Father, right now, this moment
I give you permission to
Drain me of me,
That I may be more like you
Through your Son, Jesus Christ
In the power of the Holy Spirit.

November 11th, 2010 Posted in Reflections

Gus Lloyd is the radio host of the morning show "Seize the Day" on the Catholic Channel, Sirius 159 and XM 117. Visit for more about Gus.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

By your perseverance you will secure your lives

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives." The last sentence from today's gospel (Luke 21:19) gives us a lot of hope after the predictions of great natural disasters and human betrayal. In his homily for today, Fr. Eric Peters, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Citrus Springs,FL reminded us that through all the trials we may have to face, Jesus has gone before us to show us the way. Since Jesus has been persecuted, handed over, imprisoned and led before kings and governors, we too may have to follow. But we can do so in His strength and with His promise to give us wisdom in speaking.

Fr. Eric rightly pointed out to us that these conditions that we live in today are just the right conditions to make us saints. And that is the goal, that we become saints. As a follow up to this Sunday's gospel, next weekend we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Holy Mother Church reminds us as we close the liturgical year that Christ is the King and has dominion over us and the whole world. Let us persevere then in running the race set before us, with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Bottom l to r Cindy Campbell, Marie Boros, Bill Gauthier, Msgr. George Cummings, Back row Barbara Strickland, Marlene Petellat, Lou Clini, Fr. Eric Peters, Pastor

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The birds helped me pray today.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?" Matthew 6:25-27

I got up early today and had a chance to sit outside on my back porch to say my prayers and read In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez. As I looked at my neighbor's sailboat, I noticed all the birds were flying around and landing on the wires that the sails run on. They look like little black dots in this picture. The image of the early morning birds brought to mind the above quote from St. Matthew's gospel.
God takes care of the birds, he is taking care of me and the birds are my teachers for today!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ave Maris Stella

November 5, My husband and I began the 33 days towards re-consecration to Jesus through Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. We had originally done it in 1997 or 1998. One of the daily prayers for the first 12 days is the Ave Maris Stella. Ave Maris Stella is the Latin for the first line of the prayer. Because the prayer rhymes, it was amazing to me how my children and I had remembered parts of it from over 10 years ago. The children aren't doing the entire consecration with us, but I have been saying the prayer with them at night and they have learned it by heart so quickly! So I share it in hopes that some adopt it as a bedtime prayer or just a great prayer to say after meals, in the car or anywhere. I highly recommend the St. Louis de Montfort consecration. Pope John Paul II calls it one of the turning points of his life.

Hail, bright star of ocean, God's own Mother blest,
Ever sinless Virgin, Gate of heavenly rest.

Taking that sweet Ave, Which from Gabriel came,
Peace confirm within us, Changing Eva's name.

Break the captives' fetters, Light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling, Every bliss implore.

Show thyself a Mother; May the Word Divine,
Born for us thy Infant, Hear our prayers through thine.

Virgin all excelling, Mildest of the mild,
Freed from guilt, preserve us, Pure and undefiled.

Keep our life all spotless, Make our way secure,
Till we find in Jesus, Joy forevermore.

Through the highest heaven, To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son and Spirit, One same glory be. Amen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Breakfast and the Communion of Saints

Bob adding onion rings on top of big breakfast sandwich
As a teenager, before we were engaged, I used to visit my future husband and his family at their house on Indian Lake. Bob's dad loved to get up early and cook a big breakfast: sausage biscuits and gravy, pancakes, eggs and more. He was always cooking up something and delighted in trying to make exactly what each person liked. All the family gathered round to partake of the yummy meal.

Joey showing breakfast sandwich
For years now, Bob has taken up the breakfast torch from his dad. Almost every weekend, Bob gets up early and makes "big breakfast" for me and all the kids. Often he makes sausage gravy, sometimes Eggs Benedict, many mornings of pancakes or waffles.  But last night, he got inspired watching the Food Channel and this morning he out did himself making his own version of "man vs. food."
John taking the challenge

The chef's special was a sausage patty with cheese, topped by two fried eggs, hash browns, four slices of bacon and fried onion rings. All on a "sandwich" of 2 waffles. John, 16 and Joey, 13 took the challenge. They loved it.

How thankful we are to Bob for slaving over a hot stove (and griddle and fryer!) And how thankful we are to Bob's dad who gave such a great example to his son. Bob's dad died 3 years ago, but I felt him present in our kitchen today. As the readings from mass today clearly tell us, those who have died in Christ are alive more than ever. Through Christ we all are united forever. Amen!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Matthew Kelly Conference in Ocala FL

Julie, Lisa and Matthew Kelly
Matthew Kelly gave a full day conference at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Ocala today. Matthew's overriding theme is encouraging everyone to 'become the best version of themselves.' In becoming the best version of ourselves, we become the authentic self, the self that God created us to be. And in doing so, we become holy.

His 12 state tour spanning 9 months is called "Passion and Purpose." His opening question was "What is it that makes some people live with Passion and Purpose while others don't?" He suggests that people that live with passion and purpose have clarity. Clarity is found only in silence. Most of us live in very noisy worlds from the moment we wake up until we pass out at the end of the day. So, let's all step into "the classroom of silence." For me, that is best done in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Venerable Solanus Casey

"Fr. Solanus Casey, Capuchin Franciscan, was born Bernard Francis Casey on November 25, 1870 on a farm near Oak Grove, Wisconsin. He was the sixth child in a family of ten boys and six girls born to Irish immigrant parents. Bernard left the farm to work throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota as a logger, hospital orderly, street car operator, and prison guard.

At the age of 21 Bernard entered St. Francis High School Seminary in Milwaukee to study for the diocesan priesthood. Five years later he contemplated a religious order. Invested in the Capuchin Order at Detroit in 1897, he received the religious name of Solanus.

After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Solanus spent 20 years in New York, Harlem, and Yonkers. In 1924 he was assigned to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit where he worked for 20 years.

Fr. Solanus spent his life in the service of people. At the monastery door as porter he met thousands of people from every age and walk of life and earned recognition as "The Doorkeeper." He was always ready to listen to anyone at any time, day or night.

During his final illness, he remarked, "I'm offering my suffering that all might be one. If only I could see the conversion of the whole world." His last conscious act was sitting up in bed and saying, "I give my soul to Jesus Christ." He died at the age of 86 on July 31, 1957 at the same day and hour of his First Holy Mass 53 years earlier.

The Servant of God Solanus Casey was named Venerable on July 11, 1995 by Pope John Paul II. With the support of the Guild, the Cause is currently pursuing the stage of “Blessed” (beatification) for Venerable Solanus. "

Thursday, November 4, 2010

St. Charles Borromeo

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, St. Charles was the neighboring Catholic Parish. So  "St. Charles" was just a name to me, like the property on the monopoly board. But the patron of that Parish was an amazing man who packed more into 46 years of life than many other who live twice as long.

He was a lawyer at age 21, cardinal-deacon and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan at 22 and ordained to the priesthood at 25, (it didn't hurt that his uncle was Pope Pius IV.) He was instrumental in the Council of Trent (the Catholic Church's response to the protestant reformation) and establishing the seminary system for training young men to become priests.

From "Saint of the Day":
Charles took the initiative in giving good example. He allotted most of his income to charity, forbade himself all luxury and imposed severe penances upon himself. He sacrificed wealth, high honors, esteem and influence to become poor. During the plague and famine of 1576 he tried to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people daily. To do this he borrowed large sums of money that required years to repay. When the civil authorities fled at the height of the plague, he stayed in the city, where he ministered to the sick and the dying, helping those in want. Work and the heavy burdens of his high office began to affect his health. He died at the age of 46, in 1584.

I marvel not only at his accomplishments, but at his "yes" to God in service to the Divine Will.
St. Charles Borromeo, Pray For Us!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

St. Martin de Porres

I first learned about St. Martin de Porres by reading about him in  a Children's book by Mary Fabyan Wyndeatt. He was born in Lima, Peru in 1579, the illegitimate son of a white Spanish Father and a black freed woman. He lived with his mother and was very poor. He studied medicine as a teenager and then joined the Dominicans, professing vows as a lay brother in 1603.

At the monastery, he was placed in charge of the infirmary, where he nursed the sick. He cared for all with tender love. He gave food to all who needed it. He had a special love of the animals and seemed to be able to communicate with them. He was able to bilocate, but this gift was only used in service to God and people.

What this saint shows me is that our background and beginnings do not dictate what we may become as children of God. God has wonderful plans for each of us. He uses our background, our interests and our desires and gives us opportunity for growth. He calls each of us to serve His church in a particular way. St. Martin died in 1639.

St. Martin de Porres, Ora Pro Nobis.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Day

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls. On this day we pray for all the faithful departed. The first reading of today's mass says so much:
 "But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself."
Wis 3:1-6
This is a picture of my beautiful mother. She died June 12, 2006 at the age of 64. She has always been a constant rudder in my life. Thanks be to God that I can know with certainty that her prayers are still made on my behalf.

As part of the Church Militant, we pray for all the souls in purgatory. We ask for all the prayers of the Saints in heaven. How blessed we are to be part of the communion of Saints!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

True Love

Pope to Adolescents: Learn to Love Truly

Warns Against Egoism That Suffocates the Hear

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is encouraging young people to learn what it means to truly love,
explaining that the secret is to be a gift to others.The Pope stated this
Saturday in a question and answer session with representatives of Italian
Catholic Action. Some 50,000 children, 30,000 youth and 10,000 educators of
the organization were present in St. Peter's Square for the meeting with the

The youth, after the meeting with the Holy Father, participated in events throughout Rome focused
on the theme: "There Is More. We Become Great Together."

After a question from a young woman of Catholic Action, Benedict XVI
responded, "It is very important, I would say fundamental, to learn to love,
truly to love, to learn the art of real love!"

He continued: "In adolescence we stop before the mirror and we notice that
we are changing. But if you continue to look at yourself, you will never
grow up!

"You grow up when you do no longer let the mirror be the only truth about
you but when you let your friends tell you.

"You will grow up if you are able to make your life a gift to others, not to
seek yourselves, but to give yourselves to others: this is the school of
love." The Pope added, "This love, however, must bring you into that 'more' that
today shouts to everyone: 'There is more!'"

Pure air

He recalled, "I too, in my youth wanted something more than what the society
and the mentality of the time presented to me."

"I wanted to breathe pure air," the Pontiff said. "Above all I desired a
beautiful and good world, like our God, the Father of Jesus, wanted for

"And I understood more and more that the world becomes beautiful and good if
one knows this will of God and if the world corresponds to this will of
God," he added, "which is the true light, beauty, love that gives the world

"You cannot and must not adapt yourselves to a love reduced to a commodity
to be consumed without respect for oneself or for others, incapable of
chastity and purity," the Holy Father urged. "This is not freedom."

He noted that "much of the 'love' that is proposed by the media, on the
internet, is not love but egoism, closure, it gives you the illusion of a
moment, but it does not make you happy, it does not make you grow up, it
binds you like a chain that suffocates more beautiful thoughts and
sentiments, the true desires of the heart, that irrepressible power that is
love and that has its maximum expression in Jesus and strength and fire in
the Holy Spirit, who enflames your lives, your thoughts, your affections."

"Of course it demands sacrifice to live love in the true way -- without
renunciation one does not find this road -- but I am certain that you are
not afraid of the toil of a challenging and authentic love," Benedict XVI

He added, "It is the only kind that, in the final analysis, gives true joy!"

"There is a test," the Pope said, "that tells you whether your love is
growing in a healthy way: if you do not exclude others from your life, above
all your friends who are suffering and alone, people in difficulty, and if
you open your heart to the great friend Jesus."

Full text:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

All Saints Day Early

Fr. Dominic and all the kindergarten Saints
At the school mass today the kindergarten children all dressed up as Saints in honor of All Saints Day which is celebrated on November 1. The communion meditation song was the Litany of the Saints. As the children sang, my heart leaped with joy over all my "friends", the Saints, who I have gotten to know over the last several years. The Litany of Saints is sung at priestly ordinations when the priest elect lays prostrate before his bishop. I prayed to all the saints that one of my four sons some day would be a priest of Jesus Christ.

Litany at an ordination
For the Litany in Latin go to