Thursday, October 22, 2009

Benefactors Beware!

Fr. William Paul Felix

I opened up the local Sunday newspaper to discover an interesting article in the religion section. The title of the article read – Heavenly harmony: happy sounds are coming from a long-vacant church near…through efforts by a large group to turn the majestic structure into a recording studio. The picture accompanying the article was that of a barren sanctuary resembling an ancient Roman basilica of the fourth century. It was, in fact, a picture of a 102 year-old parish church built by polish immigrants in 1891. The church sat 1,200 people – a virtual polish cathedral. It is reported to have been the largest rural church built in the country. It closed in 1970 merging members with a nearby Catholic congregation. The entire interior of the church was auctioned, including all of the magnificent imported stain glass windows.

Renovations plans call for all of the intricate artwork to be replicated as accurately as possible, on the pillars, walls, and ceiling of the church. But wait! Don’t get your wallet out yet – not until you understand just exactly what the project is about. You see, this church has drawn the attention of a renowned music studio designer from Chicago and, as the article says, “has galvanized an effort to renovate the 102 year old building” into a recording studio. That’s right – a recording studio! Plans call for the maple-floored sanctuary to be renovated into a large recording studio, with four smaller recording areas under the massive balcony, retaining the majestic 45-foot high ceiling in the nave.

The project was discovered when late one night a rock band was practicing inside the former Catholic church. Neighbors came to check out what was going on. The band told the neighbors they had approval to be there and were practicing. They didn’t believe it. As irony would have it, the local community embraced the project. The article reported that scores of people have volunteered time, money, and materials in an effort to renovate the church – or should I say sound studio. A local heating and cooling contractor donated more than $50,000 worth of furnaces, ductwork and installation.

If you sense something missing from this story you are correct. How did the local Catholic congregation fair in all of this? Did they receive a substantial contribution for their mission and ministry? It was quite the opposite. The Catholic parish actually agreed to a 50-year lease for $1.00 a year! I guess they have the satisfaction knowing that unlike the saints and martyrs of the early church who turned the pagan Pantheon into a Christian basilica, they have the honor of turning a “basilica” into a pagan shrine.

Pardon my intended exaggeration but there is truth in what I say. It simply goes to show how much more easily it is to find benefactors and supporters for such things as a recording studio or a sports stadium, than it is for that which is meant to give exclusive honor and glory to God. I have some experience in this. For twenty years I have been working as a co-founder of a religious community to find a place for a small group of monastics to live, pray, and develop their apostolate of sacred art, in addition to using the place for the spiritual formation of lay and priest members. Only recently did we find a pastor and a congregation generous enough to bequeath us with a small rural parish facility closed in the 1990’s. We still cannot live on the property because of the necessary repairs that have to be done. Progress is being made, slowly but surely. I know how difficult it is to find benefactors willing to support that which is solely for the glory and honor of God.

There is further irony to this story. Before my community was given the property we are now developing, we looked at another closed parish not far from the very church being made into a recording studio. This property was far more plain and simple, and happened to be under the same pastoral care as the other. Were we offered the property on a 50-year lease and for $1.00 per year? No, our offer was $200,000 plus all repairs – what a deal! It only goes to show that God does have a sense of humor. (I guess I should have asked to use the property for a sound studio?)

To faithful Catholic benefactors, here is the moral of my story. There are all kinds of non-profit projects and causes that find sympathy in the hearts of people today. (I recently received the report of a community foundation in which a flag in front of a historic building has its own trust fund!) What is hard to find are benefactors who have a preferential love for that which is done solely for the glory and honor of God. Thank you and we need you!

Fr. William Paul Felix is co-founder of the Institute of St. Joseph, a public association of the faithful in the Diocese of LaCrosse, WI. He can be contacted through the Institute of St. Joseph at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Novena in Honor of Saint Joseph

Each Wednesday our monastic community has Mass in honor of Saint Joseph, when this is possible, according to the liturgical calendar, but the intention is always the enrollment of the Saint Joseph Novena, which we pray after Mass.

You can enroll the living and deceased in our Wednesday Masses for one year. We have an Enrollment Card that can be sent to the one you have enrolled. This is a very good gift for weddings, birthdays, the death of a loved one, and just anyone you would like to enroll, especially if they are sick or are in need of prayers.

You can log onto our website, (also at the side bar) and enroll anyone you would like.

Saint Joseph is a wonderful patron. He is "master of the interior life" and a great patron of families, the sick and dying, and those who are in need of employment.

Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque, Saint of the Sacred Heart

Today we commemorate a great Saint of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque. She is a witness to the profound love that Jesus has for every one of us. Her life is a testimony of suffering, courage, fortitude and sincerity. Read her life and see for yourself how much she suffered in order to make the message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus known and loved.

Saint Margaret Mary is a favorite saint of mine. She did not have an easy life. And yet, she is the one who made possible, through her fidelity and constancy, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and the universal practice of the First Friday Devotion, which involves reception of Holy Communion, and prayer before the Eucharistic Lord in reparation for the indifference, contempt, and sacrilege that so many Catholics commit.

My homily to the school children today centered on the fact that Jesus, as Man, desires friendship with each of us. He is truly God. But in His Sacred Humanity, he desires our friendship, just as we desire to have friendship. He was like us in everything except sin. And so the desire of His, that we be His friends, is not something alien to our understanding.

The First Friday Devotion really is centered in making "reparation" to Jesus' Sacred Heart, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, which is the most vulnerable sign of His Love for us. He puts Himself into the care and the hands of the Priest; He is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity beneath the sacred species of bread and wine, which with our eyes we see, but with faith we know that they are Him. He asks us to show our friendship by honoring this most humble "immolation" of Himself by receiving Him in the state of grace and spending time in loving, adoring, thanking and interceding for His children.

Saint Margaret Mary is a sign to us of the immense love that Jesus has for each and every one of us. Let us repay that love by being willing to spend time with Him in His Sacrament of Love and being willing to repent for our sins. Let us make time to "repair" for the ways we have abandoned, betrayed, or even rejected Him, taking the sins of the world into our prayer, making an act of friendship with Him, Who has loved us so much.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saint Teresa of Jesus, pray for us!

Today at Morning Prayer we sang this hymn in honor of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila):

Teresa, yet a child in years,
You left your home with heart afire,
To spread abroad the faith in Christ,
A martyr, ready in desire.

A death more gentle will be yours,
With pain far sweeter, yet more keen,
For wound divine will pierce your soul
With its consuming flame serene.

O victim of undying love,
Make our poor hearts in fervor grow;
Protect all those who trust in you,
And save us from eternal woe.

O Jesus, Spouse of virgins pure,
Their happy ranks your praises sing
For ever, with that melody
Known but to virgins and their King. Amen.

(From the Mundelein Psalter; Chicago/Mundelein, Illinois; 2007)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Amore Infinito: A tribute to Pope John Paul II

When I was in the seminary, one of our professors told us that the way the Faith was transmitted throughout history was not only in the preaching and correct teaching of priests and bishops, but also in bringing the teachings of the Faith to the "common person"; in other words, through song and ritual. He then said that in this time, the teaching of Pope John Paul II should be put into song, into a popular venue, in order that the core of his teaching about life, love, God, the dignity of the human person, etc. could be made "incarnate" in the lives of "everyman".

This, I believe, has been done in the new release of "Amore Infinito", a collection of the Pope's poetry set to beautiful music and performed by the great Placido Domingo, along with Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Vanessa Williams and Katherine Jenkins. Raymond Arroyo interviewed Placido on "The World Over" last Friday night. He spoke of the inspiration and depth of the Pope's poetry which is now put to music. And it is truly beautiful.

Today, the superior of our Institute of Saint Joseph, Fr. William Felix, gave us a copy of the CD and we listened to it while doing a mailing. Spectacular! There are songs in English and in Italian. And even if you cannot understand Italian, the beauty of the language, in and of itself, will move you. I love Italian. It is so expressive of the human soul. You can read the words in translation but just listening to the music and the words is breathtaking.

Now I am not advocating this for use at Mass. Oh, no. We use Gregorian chant exclusively in our monastic liturgies and some hymns with chant in the English Mass.
But for reflective listening, this is just perfect.

I recommend this CD highly.

It is making the truths of the Faith present in the words of the Servant of God, Pope John II, in a way that will be very positive for everyone, especially those who are searching.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Miracle of the Sun, October 13, 1917

Lucia, 1917
Today is the anniversary of the "Miracle of the Sun" at Fatima, Portugal. It was prophesied ahead of time and there were thousands who witnessed it, including secular and anti-Catholic journalists. There is no question that this happened.

And yet, it still is not something known to the average Catholic, or even an historical event that is recounted in secular situations.

The Call of Fatima, reiterated by all the Popes of the last 92 years (since the apparitions in 1917), is to prayer, penance, and conversion of life. This is the Gospel Message of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And yet, it took a miracle of the sun "dancing" to get peoples' attention. This is only to highlight the words of Our Lady to a call to prayer, penance, love of the Lord, obedience to the Church, prayer for the Holy Father, and especially the Eucharistic message of Fatima, which preceded the appearances of our Lady by the Angel of Portugal who taught the children how to adore our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

We have a great hope; even if things look dark and evil seems to proliferate.
We have the love of a Mother who is so compassionate, so concerned for our welfare, that God allows Her to visit us at the beginning of a century of hell: martyrdom throughout the Twentieth Century surpasses any other time in the history of the Church. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us, that we may be faithful to Jesus and His Church in these times of trial and distress!

Winter Scenes in October

This was the sight behind our house this morning...the snow is still here. For now.
Like I said before, this is Wisconsin. We could have a heat wave tomorrow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sister Petra, Master Artist

Sr. Petra, our Oblate Sister, is not only an accomplished iconographer, but also is a very talented sacred artist with statues. Her studio is our garage, which is unfortunately a place of storage for many other things and is, at this time, not a good place for working, since the temperatures are quite cold and the snow has fallen as of this day (October 12).

Her recent work as been with statues for a local church and a former convent which is now a historical society residence. Here are some photos of her work, which she was also assisted by two lay members of our association, who are also artists.

May the Sacred Heart of Jesus, present in the most Blessed Sacrament, be loved, praised and adored, in every tabernacle throughout the world, even to the end of time. Amen. Alleluia!

It's beginning to look a lot like October!

After our Community Meeting, Noon Prayer, and Dinner, we went outside and saw this most beautiful scene behind the convent. Christmas in October, so to speak.
I don't remember the snow staying like this so early in the Fall.

Then we saw this sight:

We affectionately called her, "Our Lady of the Snow Beret and Muffler".

It'll probably be 80 degrees on Wednesday. This is Wisconsin, ya know.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Important Message

The protection of children is absolutely a part of our duty as citizens and parents.
There is something that you need to be aware of. I am not competent to speak of it in any detail, so I am asking you to log onto
(Video: Protecting Traditional Marriage and Preserving Childhood Innocence)
to read it for yourselves. This is important. We need to be aware of the insidious and pernicious activity of those at the highest level. May Jesus, Mary, and Joseph help and protect us!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Memorial of Saint Bruno, October 6

Tomorrow we commemorate the founder of the Carthusian Order, Saint Bruno.
The life of the Carthusians has been documented in the film "Into Great Silence", which many have become familiar with this most unique form of religious life. I was able, along with Br. Joseph, to see this magnificent work when it was first released in a theatre in CT. The Carthusians are probably the strictest Order in the Latin Church; they practice a complete separation from the world and live their days in the "silence of solitude" gathering for the Divine Office in the middle of the night (when the rest of the world is either sleeping, awake because of illness or trials, or just sinning!) and in the evening for Vespers.
And yet, these monks are the most human in their simplicity, fidelity, and awareness of the human condition.
They remind all of us that "God Alone" is the goal to which all Christians are called.
Their understanding of their life of sacrifice and consecration is "to make Saints, not canonize them."
Very well put.
The American foundation of Carthusians has a website which can be found at the links sidebar (Carthusians in America).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

Today we have the privilege of offering the Mass of Our Lady of Rosary, as an External Solemnity in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The Lady of the Rosary is a very important historical and religious figure: throughout history, the praying of the Holy Rosary has brought about conversions, reversals of historical situations (such as Lepanto where the Muslims were attempting to invade Christendom and even today in the Philippines where a massive Rosary rally with millions in the streets reversed a violent situation).

After Holy Mass in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, we prayed the Litany of Loreto (in Latin), prayed to our Lady of the Rosary, blessed roses that were distributed to the faithful, and ended with the "Salve Regina".

Here are excerpts from today's homily.

Today we celebrate the External Solemnity of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is kept on October 7th. October is traditionally the "Month of the Rosary", where special devotions such as we will have today after Mass are prayed in the family, by individuals, prayer groups, and parishes. Although May is "Mary's Month", October is a particular time to renew our devotion to the Holy Rosary, even if we pray it daily throughout the year.

The prayers that compose the Rosary come from Sacred Scripture: the 'Our Father', the 'Hail Mary', and the 'Glory be' (which although not explicitly from Sacred Scripture, is implicitly derived from it). The 'Apostles' Creed' is the ancient formula of our Faith; the Fatima Prayer, "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins..." is in its essence, a prayer that synthesizes the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ to save sinners and to share this mission with us in our prayers and penances.

The mysteries of the Rosary take us from the Annunciation to the Coronation of Our Lady, making the events our our Lord's life the subject of our meditation as we pray the vocal prayers; Pope John Paul II called this "the School of Mary"--by holding the beads in our hands, praying the words of the prayers with our lips, and with mind and heart 'contemplating' upon the mysteries of our salvation, we are formed interior in the image of the Son by the care of the Mother.

This particular day was instituted by Pope Saint Pius V to thank God for the victory of the Christian forces who prevented a Muslim invasion at Lepanto--a victory attributed to the people praying the Rosary. Other historic events since that time have been effected by the praying of the Rosary by the multitudes...

Padre Pio often called the Rosary "his weapon". He prayed countless Rosaries throughout the day. He was rarely seen without a rosary in his hands.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta prayed many rosaries each day, especially as she walked through the slums, or travelled throughout the world. Her sisters continue to do this, praying countless rosaries as they travel and do the work of the Lord.

The Rosary is a weapon in our spiritual battle. The prayers from our Lord, the 'Angelic Salutation'(the Hail Mary), the Church's Sacred Tradition are sacramentals and can bring grace to the one who prays in faith. The blessed rosary beads have the prayer of the Church and when used in faith and prayer can be the means of gaining a plenary indulgence. The Mysteries of our Salvation bring the soul into contact with the saving mercy of the Lord and teach the essence of our Catholic Faith.

We need the Rosary more now, than ever. Just in the last week, there was an 'International Day of Blasphemy' when people were encouraged to mock, deride, or curse God. The Holy Father has been viciously attacked in the media in Great Britain for his planned visit there. While many graces have been given and the witness of faith is tremendous, the pilgrimage throughout England of the relics of Saint Therese has been ridiculed and even condemned in the media there. And those are just three examples of the evil, unbelief, blasphemy, hatred of God, His Church, His Vicar.

Our Lady of Fatima, the Lady of the Rosary, asked the shepherd children to pray for the conversion of sinners, especially those who had no one to pray for them. This is a great act of charity and mercy: to pray the Rosary for "those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love" the Lord. We can call down God's blessing upon our homes, our families, our communities by the devout praying of the Rosary. Next to Holy Mass, the Sacraments, and the Divine Office, the Rosary is truly one of the most efficacious prayers and means of growth in holiness.

The Rosary, prayed devoutly and sincerely, leads us to a greater participation in the Holy Mass. True devotion to Our Lady, according to the teaching of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, always leads us to Her Son. May the graces of this day fill us with a renewed love for Mary's Rosary and a greater appreciation for this most sublime Sacrifice.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Today in the Extraordinary Form we celebrated the feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. In the Ordinary Form, her feast was on October 1st. One of the advantages of celebrating both forms is that we are able to celebrate her feast twice!

I must give a public thanksgiving and attribution to Saint Therese for my conversion to the Catholic Faith and for my vocation as a monastic and a priest.

From a very early age I was attracted to her. This may sound strange, but when I was first introduced to Catholicism at the age of ten, I found out about Saint Therese, read everything I could find about her, and over the years was influenced and formed by her "Little Way".

She has seemed to adopt me as her own child. Even in the years of difficulty and darkness, she has been with me.

Her "Story of a Soul" has been my spiritual "food and drink"; she has acted, in a sense, as my "Novice Mistress", teaching me to love God in every moment of every day, seeing that difficulties and obstacles are the means to union with God, that "external" religious practices must always be filled with the interior desire to love Jesus, and Jesus alone.

Her "dark night" that preceded her most excruciating death by tuberculosis, when even making an act of faith was a heroic effort, is a great consolation to me, and is a sign of her relevance in this world where so much unbelief, blasphemy, hatred of God and His Church are rife.

She wanted to "eat at the table of sinners"; she was in complete solidarity with those who our society considers "lost": the prostitute, the apostate, the forgotten ones.

This, in my opinion, is the true greatness of the soul of Therese Martin, the "Little Flower", who as one author has put it, is "as strong as steel".

May Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face pray for us; may she bring us to the Heart of Jesus, the Heart of the Church, where we find the peace, joy, and charity that so inflamed her heart!

Friday, October 2, 2009

SS. Angelorum Custodum, The Holy Guardian Angels

I love the feast of the Guardian Angels. What a tremendous gift they are to us. They are there every moment of every day, protecting and guarding, inspiring and guiding us.

There are many stories of how the Guardian Angels have protected, guarded, and inspired many saints and people even today.

Just recently, I was driving home from doing some errands. It was rainy and overcast. I was in a hurry to get home. All of a sudden, from the left lane (I was in the right) a wagon behind a truck hauling it came loose, and a bunch of loose wood and other things came flying at me. Thanks be to God, they missed me. But if they had hit me, they would have hit the windshield, and who knows what would have happened!!

All I said, (I am ashamed to say), is, "Oh, God!" I wasn't afraid but just shocked by the debris flying around me.

I attribute my safety to my Guardian Angel. I could have been hurt or killed by this random incident. Evidently, God still wants me around!

In the Office of Readings for today (part of the Divine Office we pray as religious and priests) Saint Bernard has some very important things to say about our Angel Guardians:
"...the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need."

Pray to your Guardian Angel. Ask for his intercession and assistance. And never let yourself feel alone. You are never alone. His angel is there to guard and protect you!

Color change

I have considered several requests to change the background color (which, by the way, is not meant to be pink but purple in honor of Saint Joseph's color, but anyway)
I hope this is easier to read.
I appreciate the input.
It means people are reading the blog!
I have some planned blogs for later today and tomorrow.
I haven't died or gone AWOL.
I'm still here.
Gosh, that's a lot of "I's",,,I'm supposed to be dying to myself in this vocation...oh well!