Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Saint Pius X - July 15, 2012 - Eric

What's Happening:
Hello again. Mass Chaos is back after a six month absence. In some ways it seems like a different world. In December we were all worried about the changes to the Mass and how it was going to affect our church experience. Now, Catholics find themselves squarely at odds with the government. Pressure is mounting on American Catholics to compromise ancient teaching and conform with what the world has to offer. All these challenges can seem overwhelming.

Lost in all this is that nothing has changed as far as our calling. We are presented with the same challenges that we have had since the moment we decided to live our faith. We still have to approach every person with love and respect. Although this is simply said, it is hard in practice, and it calls for prayer, faith, and God's word.

We do need one more thing, we need each other ... for encouragement. I was reminded of this while writing this, because I read something that was pretty hateful and discouraging. My first thought was to contact someone, anyone, who I know prays for me. While I did not do this, having the assurance that someone would be there for me raised my spirits up immediately. If you're one of those people that lift me up, thank you. Encourage your family, encourage your friends, encourage all.

Frank, Teri, me, Marilou, Sarah, and Joe.
We're standing in the same spot we were in week three of the original Mass Chaos.

The Church:
IMG_6701 IMG_6702

What a fabulous remodel! The new interior is warm and intimate, the sound system is state of the art (Father gave us a tour), and it retains a few elements of the old to go with the new. It was my first church with the new camera, so I'm not sure if everything came out well, but here are all the pictures.

"He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts.” Mark 6:8

I'm not this brave. I would be terrified walking out the door without means for eating and shelter, without a map, and without a plan. Is this too much to admit? Terrified is exactly the right word. I had enough of an issue trying to keep my head together from doing the original Mass Chaos tour and not panicking.

I don't know how I'd ever get over myself and my own issues to be able to go on a journey somewhere. I bet the apostles felt the same way. The lesson here is trusting in God's plan. Not everything went well for the apostles, in fact, it didn't end well for them on this earth. Our goal is heaven, and this is God's goal for us as well ... this is God's plan for everyone. The apostles fears and doubts were blessed, and they were able to overcome them by trusting in Jesus by simply putting one foot in front of the other. They didn't just journey by themselves to heaven, they brought millions of people with them.

I pray that I am brave enough to just make it out the door.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Saint Philip Neri - December 18, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
I spent the past weekend, Monday, and Tuesday with a four and a half day migraine. I hate migraines. Unfortunately, they are a fact of life for me, and while I appreciate the people who are empathetic towards me, and those who pray for me when I'm in the middle of one, it is I who have to deal with them and overcome them.

Those who are close to me can see when I have one, I'm sure I look like I'm unhappy or some other external sign that I'm not getting along too well. Or maybe I'm just crabby to them. People who don't know me probably think I'm an idiot, a jerk, or both when I'm in pain. If I've treated you like this, I'm sorry, please have patience with me.

It's not always easy to see when someone is in pain or suffering. Consequentially it is not always easy to deal with them. Our call is still the same, to help without enabling, to lift up, and to help to bring everyone closer to Christ. Pray my friends that we can be ready to help, regardless of how we feel when hear the call.

Maggie, me, Beth, Sarah, Joe, and Marilou.

I wasn't the only one, but I stayed out too late the night before, so I went right home after Mass, everyone else went out to eat. I'll be compiling all of the photos from this mini-tour here.

"Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. ” Luke 1:30

God knows the plan, but he needs to communicate it to Mary. He sends his angel to visit her. Surely a visit from an angel is going to be perplexing, and probably might cause a little fear. The angel announces to Mary that she has been found with favor by God. The angel speaks to Mary, but it we who have our fear removed, the miracle of Jesus birth is coming, and it is we who are saved. Our fear turns to hope, then to joy.
"...a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices"
This part of the tour is finished, and I'll be stepping back from blogging for a little while. I hope to see you all at Mass. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holy Family Shrine - December 17, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
This past Wednesday I had dinner with a friend of mine from high school. We went to Marian Central Catholic in Woodstock, Il. Tony and I were two of four friends who hung out all the time. We talked about church, and we talked friends and family, and we talked about some the dumb things that we did as kids. We were your typical suburban teens; full of pride, listened to no one, didn't care about anyone's feelings, and did what we wanted to do ... yet somehow we made it through. My friends, I was an idiot, and I'm sure I wasn't alone. Do I want to be remembered for the stupid things I did almost three decades ago? No, I don't. Not everyone responds to God's call with change, but we have to encourage them to do so, to give them the opportunity to do so. Does this mean that we should put ourselves in harms way? Probably not, but it isn't always the safest thing to deal with people living in sin and/or crisis, but it is still our calling to help. God offers redemption to all, let us be remembered for choosing Him and helping others, rather than being remembered for the sins of our youths.

Me, Marilou, Beth, Ronny, Tom, Frank, and Joe.

I love Holy Family Shrine, it is so easy to feel at peace there. It is also easy to get very good pictures. It's not so good if you want to pay attention at Mass; I get caught up in watching the cars go by on the highway, or looking at the wonderful view of the Platte River valley. You can see all the pictures from our Advent Mass Chaos tour right here.

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham...” Matthew 1:1

God is thorough. His son could have been born to any person in any generation and still made the difference in the world. However God wanted to make certain that we, frail and question humans that we are, had no way to point away from, or question the authority of Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of the all the prophets and kingship of David. Saint Matthew wants this to be obvious from the very beginning of his gospel. Jesus is the heir of David, the king above all others, and our Lord.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Boys Town - December 12, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
Back in the late 90s I went to Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception on Boys Town campus quite a bit, I worked nearby, and I went on Holy Days and when I worked on weekends. I hadn't forgotten how beautiful the church was, but I did forgot how crowded it Mass is there. Yes! Standing room only, the way it should be, like people crowding around Jesus, Lazarus climbing the tree, the woman yearning to only touch his cloak to be healed. We all should be clamoring to see Jesus all the time.

Father started the homily with "Don't be a grump at Christmas." Father illustrated the story with examples and practical advice. Boys Town sees its fair share of tragic stories, but it also sees a few miracles. I'd like to further what Father said, nothing has changed my life for the better than this; a good attitude. I'm not certain that my life situation is better than it was ten years ago, but I can tell you this, I am so much happier.

Rich, Frank, Joe, me, Teri, Sarah, and Maggie.

Location and Architecture:
The Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, on the campus of Boys Town, is a traditional church, with the kind of design touches that I like so much. It is not unlike Saint Margaret Mary in design, but with an airier feel to it, like Saint Joseph, but smaller than both. The feel is both light and intimate. The majesty of God is reflected in the details in stone, glass, woodwork, and the organ. When walking in the main entrance, if one turns immediately to the right, there is an alcove with the tomb of Father Flannagan, where you can pray or read about his life. Alone, the church is worth a visit to see it's beauty, but given the history and importance of Boys Town, it's as much of a must visit as there is in the Omaha area.






You can see all the pictures from our Advent Mass Chaos tour right here.

"John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” ” John 1:26-27

He is amongst you, but you do not recognize him. This declaration is straight forward and, given who John the Baptist was speaking to, not a really good option politically. God is unlikely to be interested in human politicking, He's more interested in His children being with Him forever, and John the Baptist was sent to declare His coming. John is speaking to the Pharisees here, they were expecting the Savior to look in a certain way. They were even willing to stretch enough to ask John if he were the one, even John lived in the desert and had strange clothing. Even with their willingness to make this stretch, John is clear, He's here, you aren't getting it.

We too are confronted by John's words. Make no mistake my friends, Jesus is here and available to us. He is present in Eucharist, He is listening when we confess our sins, He is there in the faces of everyone we meet. One of our biggest challenges as Christians is to recognize Jesus when we see Him. Merely stretching our concepts of who our Savior is may not be enough, we have to be ready to seek Him with our whole being if necessary. We are told if we seek, we will find, I pray we will recognize Him when we encounter Him.

Next week:
Sat, Dec 17 @ 10:00am - Holy Family Shrine - 23132 Pflug Road, Gretna
Sun, Dec 18 @ 10:30am - Saint Philip Neri - 8200 North 30th Street, Omaha

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saint Margaret Mary - December 8, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
As I've remarked before, happiness + peace = joy, it's easy to understand this formula. Happiness comes from the enjoyment of God's creation. Peace comes from being close to God. Joy is not the normal state of humankind, although we can certainly seek happiness from God's creation (although we tend to mess it up), our sinful nature keeps us from peace, so it's hard for us to get to joy. I find it easiest to overcome myself and enter into joy by keeping the moment I am having right now in front of me and thanking God for it.

I encountered joy in the parking lot of Saint Margaret Mary Thursday after Mass. I was running through the snow with Marilou and her daughters. I'm sure some might call my childlike behavior 'undignified' or 'immature', but I know joy when I encounter it. Do not be afraid to love the life that is right in front of you, right now.

From our visit to Saint Margaret Mary on September 26, 2010.

I took no pictures ... who knew it was possible. We had Rich, me, Joe, Sarah, Patrick, Jen, Marilou, Rebecca, Morgan, and Chad there, I'm going to throw in Ronny just for good measure, 'cause she says she wants to go, and she was there. I'll be compiling all of the photos from this mini-tour here.

"Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38

The Old Testament is full of crotchety, sinful men who crankily get to do God's will in a roundabout way, or only after repenting from their sins. Mary, in contrast, is none of that, merely saying yes. Mary is the example, for every generation, of how to respond to God's call. Without regard for our own desires and without regard for what others may think, but only trusting in God. Our reward is not here, but it is in Heaven and being with God forever, where our joy will know no end.

Next week:
Sat, Dec 11 @ 11:00am - Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Boys Town

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saint Bridget - December 3, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
Giving up is not an option. I have to laugh every time I give people advice like this. Indeed, giving up is not an option, however having the wherewithal to change your goals is an excellent ability. I find myself at a fork in the road, and really don't particular like either path. One is familiar, but apparently loops around back to this same spot, the other path means going into the unknown. I'm not particularly frightened, but choosing the unfamiliar path means letting go of something I have wanted for a long time, and I already know where the familiar one leads.

I had a close friend that used to to say "I'm not selling out, I'm buying in." It's a phrase about attitude, and there in lies my issue. I don't necessarily have the best attitude about the whole thing. In fact, it can occasionally be really crappy. I feel like I letting go of what I want is being disloyal, that I'm selling out.

In fact what I'm doing is adapting. My plan A didn't happen, so I should be on to plan B. My inability to let go means two things, that I'm putting more value on loyalty than doing what I think is right, and more importantly, I am not trusting God and the path He wants me to go on. The former should probably be well thought through, the latter, however, should not be. Change is not easy, but we should be ready to turn away from what we're doing, and towards what God wants for us.

From our visit to Saint Bridget on December 3rd.
Me, Patrick, Jen, Sarah, Maggie, Nancy, Beth, Marilou, Luke, and Joe.

I only took a few photos, because we have been to this church before. I'll be compiling all of the photos from this mini-tour here.

"A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” Mark 1:3

Why is a voice crying out in the desert? Why not a dense woods, or a lush field, or beautiful coast. A voice cries out in the desert because that is where we are. Without God, we exist in a desert, we are without water, we are without nourishment, we are without shade. Without God, not only do we not have anything, we don't even know what we are missing. Saint John the Baptist came to herald the coming of God's son, our Savior, the one who will lead us out of the desert in to a life of abundance.

Suddenly in the midst of our wanderings, we hear a voice, and we follow it. The voice is that of Saint John, the other saints, angels, and even each of us is capable of making this call. We suddenly realize there is more, so much more, than we are capable of imagining. How do we react? Some, out of fear, or pride, or jealously, react poorly, and reject the call. Some of us however, are drawn towards the voice. We encounter Jesus, and we follow Him. As we travel, our mountains are made low, our valleys are filled in, our paths are made straighter. The voice leads us to paradise, my friends, follow it.

Next week:
Thu, Dec 8 @ 7:00pm - Saint Mararget Mary - 6116 Dodge Street, Omaha
Sat, Dec 11 @ 11:00am - Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Boys Town

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saint Bernadette - November 27, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
The long discussed changes to the Mass are upon us with the beginning of Advent 2011 and we, the Mass Chaos group, gathered again as a group to support each other through these changes. There will be people who don't like the changes, and those of who are living should and do have a say in the ways of the church, but we belong to the church, not the other way around. The church belongs to God and all generations of believers. I like the ancientness of the church. I like that changes take place and are tweaked on century long time frames. Forty years has passed, and two generations of believers got to try out the changes coming out of Vatican II to see how it works. A good amount of time has passed, and now is the time to check the translation against the original document, and improve on the way we do things.

My first thought is: I appreciated the cue cards in the pews to help us through the Mass, now if I actually read them. I don't think that the changes are that significant, other than trying to get through saying "and with your spirit" instead of the old way. I really like the ending to the Nicene Creed.
"...I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

Beth, Ben, Maggie, Nancy, me, and Joe.

I only took a few photos, because we have been to this church before. I'll be compiling all of the photos from this mini-tour here. I also added a visit to the Holy Family Shrine on Saturday, December 17.

"What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” Mark 13:37

Jesus tells us to watch.

As I read through the Gospel, I ran through what I have been taught about this reading, but then I considered something a little different. We need to be ready to watch for Jesus in every encounter that we have, in every person. He will come again in glory, but we can encounter him in the here and now in Communion and in the people we meet. We treat everyone else with dignity and respect because Christ came to save those people equally as much as He came to save us. He is here. Are we watching? Are we ready?

Lord Jesus, help me to be watchful for you in all that I do.

Next week: Sun, Dec 4 @ 11:00am - Saint Bridget - 4112 South 26th Street, Omaha

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mass Chaos Returns!

Mass Chaos returns! Since there may be some trepidation with the changes to the Missal starting the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, we figured what better way to feel foolish and lost than if we all felt foolish and lost *together*. Brilliant, eh? This tour will cover five churches in the four weeks of Advent plus the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The Plan:
Sun, Nov 27 @ 11:00am - Saint Bernadette - 7600 South 48th Street, Bellevue
Sun, Dec 4 @ 11:00am - Saint Bridget - 4112 South 26th Street, Omaha
Thu, Dec 8 @ 7:00pm - Saint Margaret Mary - 6116 Dodge Street, Omaha (subject to time change)
Sun, Dec 11 @ 11:00am - Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception - BoysTown
Sun, Dec 18 @ 10:30am - Saint Philip Neri - 8200 North 30th Street, Omaha

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hello...Yes I waited until now to post

My first post to the weblog. Let me introduce myself, I am Joe. I was there on the steps of St. Margaret Mary’s when this whole idea came about in the first place. Bri made the the spreadsheet from the Archdiocese website, the next day, and Eric started the planning. I figured I would just go along. I was going to church anyway. I really did not think that this would amount to anything. I thought this would be over in a couple of weeks when our own lives would get the best of us.

Eric kept planning and decided this weblog was a good idea. Bri usually knew someone at the early churches and was our best spokesperson. People joined the Facebook group, over 80 people in the end. We got a story about us in the Catholic Voice. Then other people starting joining us. Maybe just once, but our numbers grew. Those of you that did join us, even if it was just once, thank you. Some of you we already knew. For those who did not, that was really brave of you to join us and share with us. The signs of support and blessings we received from of the churches we visited energized me.

Before going into this, I went to church every Sunday. Either out of guilt or obligation. I would then buy a newspaper and gasoline. During our mission, people held me accountable to the liturgies. We would talk about homilies. Probably, the most important thing was that we were, and hopefully continue, to be there for each other. I would challenge any to say that all you need is to have a personal relationship with God. When you share your faith with others, it not only allows you to grow with God, it strengthens your friendships, here on Earth. Mass is a celebration of our lives together with God.

Probably the thing that really motivated to type something, was the St. Peter’s incident. It was mentioned by Eric and Bri. Eric also mentioned it on the weblog post for St. Peter’s. There is no reason to retell it, you can read about it. I just want to give some of my feelings about it. It was healthy discourse. I felt the need to speak out to defend the theme of the homily. Will Bri and I really ever agree on it? The answer is probably no. We listened and understood. So did everyone around us. I have never been so vocal about my Catholic faith. That discussion really allowed me to stand up and be accountable to God. I appreciate that Bri was willing to listen. At the end of it all, I need Bri to help me get to heaven as much as I want to help her. You know what, to anyone who reads this, I want to help you to.

Lastly, was there a favorite church. I really didn’t have one. Some were ornate. Some were simple. Some were full of parishioners. Some had a handful. Some were in other languages. I will remember moments with my friends at these churches more than anything else. Not sure yet if the pictures will help.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Saint Bernard - Easter Vigil 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
The end of Mass Chaos. The stats are easy to recount: 56 churches visited in a liturgical year, 48 of different people went with us, there was an average of 7.6 people per visit, just a few over a hundred blog posts, about 14 tons of food consumed, and a whole lot of time socializing with old friends and new ones.

Each church has it's own flavor, and it's own beauty. My thinking was affected by the surroundings of each parish and it's congregation. The most amazing thing was the cultural differences, it was not something I was expecting, and it was uplifting to see how the Catholic church is the same ... but different.

I am not the same man I was one year ago today. I believe that my friends would agree about this. This was not a 'tough' thing to do, but it was not easy for someone like myself. I am not the only one who thought it went too long, but we got through, and the difficulty added to the delight of the journey, or at least the end. I also see how my friends are not the same either.

The journey had two defining moments, the first was at our fourth visit, Assumption (22nd & U), we were still a little unsure whether we were really going to do this or not, when the Father Keiter set us all on fire with his Homily, "your job is to get each other to Heaven." The second was at Saint Peter's (28th and Leavenworth), our 28th parish. Father Cook's Homily on the new Missal caused a sharp divide amongst the Mass Chaos'ers, but instead of breaking us apart, we all shared, we all listened, and we all respected, though we did not agree ... I will not be surprised if, in retrospect, it wasn't the one of the most important events that occurred to me in my life.

Ben, Nonnie, Paul, Frank, Marla, Joe, Marilou, Maggie, me, Lindsay, Frank, and Brianne.
Since it's the last post, we should feel free to express our normal selves.

Location and Architecture:
Saint Bernard 3601 North 65th Street, Omaha. What a pretty finish to our journey. The church was decorated for Easter and painted beautifully. I loved the moment of the lights going down (pitch dark), then one flame in the back, and the church being slowly lit by the candles each of us was holding. The way the interior was painted gave a feeling of space and (I thought) the ancientness of the (big C) Church.






If you'd like to see the rest of my pictures from Saint Bernard, you can click here.

"Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified." Matthew 28:5

It's a lot of fear, finding the tomb empty. What does it mean? The thrill of the Ressurection, dare we even hope that we too can join Jesus in eternal life. Just three days prior He took our rightful place on the cross, like Peter we are prone to deny Him when convenient, and it was our sins put Him there. Yet here we are facing an empty tomb, just as the Marys were, and wondering what does it mean.

I, too, seek Jesus the crucified, I seek Jesus the raised, I seek Jesus the son of God. Though this is what I do, I am often afraid. I'm afraid because I do not know what it means for my future. As a human, and a sinner, I know that I have every right to expect harsh judgment before the throne, and I know that I will have nothing to defend myself with, since I'm not even sure on some days that I'm doing the best I can do. I have reason to fear justice.

However to borrow a phrase from a song from a different season "a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices". OMG, the tomb is empty! I get goosebumps when I consider that instead of my just punishment, I will receive mercy and redemption. Indeed the last part of my life has been just that. My life is redemption. The tomb may be empty, but my life is full.

Peace, Eric

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An ending... and a new beginning...

As the Mass Chaos journey (the "official" one, anyway) ends, I want to take the chance to reflect not on the parishes we've visited, the readings we heard, or the experiences we've had, but instead, on the PEOPLE who made this such a special and unforgettable experience.

Eric - Mass Chaos wouldn't exist without Eric's dedication. With the tumultuous year I had personally, I don't think I would have made it through the Mass Chaos journey without Eric's steadfastness. He was my cheerleader and my friend. He was the one who kept us focused on the journey - remembering that we were here to celebrate our "3 F's - Faith, Friends, Food." Eric was the one who took the lead - scheduling our visits, keeping the blog updated, tracking our attendance. What began as a silly idea that three friends came up with a year ago became something so much more than an idea, but a reality thanks to his hard work.

Joe - I think I've learned more from Joe than anyone on this Mass Chaos journey. Where my faith is loud, Joe's is quiet. Where my faith is liberal, Joe's is conservative. Where my faith falters, Joe's has been steadfast. (Joe, I apologize if I'm taking too many liberties with assuming your beliefs.) One of the moments I will remeber from Mass Chaos more than any other was the conversation (or arguement, some will say) that transpired on the sidewalk in front of the 11Worth Cafe after attending mass at St. Peter. If you were there, you'll remember. What impressed me most about this conversation was how well spoken Joe was - so firm in his faith and able to articulate his beliefs. I gained a whole heap of respect for Joe that day, and think our friendship has deepened as a result of our experiences together.

Frank (O.) - Coming into this adventure, I know I wasn't the only one who thought of Frank (and Joe)... or Joe (and Frank) as one unit. Not fair, at all, to either one of them. It was fun, learning to see Frank as Frank! I liked sitting near Frank at mass, because I never felt bad saying what was on my mind, no matter how silly or irreverent. We absolutely had quite a few "giggle" moments in the past year. I think Frank and I took a liking to a lot of the same churches, so it was nice to share that with someone.

Frank (I.) & Lindsay - I am going to keep Frank and Lindsay as a unit, because they do come together! I met Frank and Lindsay for the first time the week before I filed for divorce... the week where I went to the wrong church and ended up 30 minutes late to mass... The week where I showed up crying (and cried through the whole mass). That week was not at all representative of my relationship with Frank and Lindsay. Usually, when we are together, it is all laughs, goofy faces, and fun! I wish I had met them sooner, and look forward to continuing a friendship with them.

Teri - My favorite story about Teri is the very first time she came to Mass Chaos. Not knowing any of us, she opened her home to us and made us breakfast. I consider myself an outgoing person, but to invite a group of "strangers" home with me would be way outside of my comfort zone. I think Teri is one of the warmest, most welcoming people I've ever met. I was really glad she took a chance by coming the first time, and has become one of the "core" group who made Mass Chaos possible.

Jen & Patrick - Jen and Patrick are another "Mass Chaos couple," though I've had the chance to get to know them separately. Jen was one of the original "creators" of Mass Chaos - having been there the Holy Thursday night where Joe, Eric, Jen and I came up with the crazy idea. With her move to Lincoln, we have missed her presence some near the end of the journey! Patrick and I got a chance to rock out the "Mass Chaos/More Massive Chaos" bowling league together (he's an excellent bowler!), and it was fun to see him outside of mass.

Ron - Ron was another one of my partners in crime... we spent quite a few masses laughing under our breath (or sometimes out loud). He always knows what to say to make me smile or laugh, and I loved sitting next to him at mass and hearing him switch from English to Spanish and back again. We appreciated his ability to help us out at the foreign language masses, and willingness to let us say "what?" and "huh?" every two minutes, and still answer us every time.

Marilou - Meeting Marilou has been an adventure - we had a lot of stories to share together about our experiences in the Catholic church, and I feel blessed she was there with us through the latter half of this journey. Also, I got to see her grow as a person (and as a bowler!) in the past few months.

Beth - Beth not only brought us a connection to Theology on Tap, she brought her bowling skills (or lack of) to the Mass Chaos league! I love that Beth came across as very serious at first, but I got to see her open up, laugh a little, and smile a lot!

There are so many people who made this journey amazing, blessed, silly, fun, full of growth, exciting... so many things cross my mind when I think about the "cast of characters" of Mass Chaos (my apology if I've forgotten anyone):

Marcus, Maggie, Ben (P.), Ben (C.), Kat, Kit, Katie, Kevin, Julia, Vesper, Mandi, Anna, Vivian, Matt, Merinda, Beth, Tom, Andy, Amy, Shannon, Ruth, Karen, Mark, Jenna, Morgan, my family (mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, Nonnie)...

It is amazing how many people we've met along the way, and how each of them have touched my life. Thank you, each and every one of you, for being my friends on the journey. I will continue to keep each of you in my prayers, and look forward to further developing our relationships!

Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor.
If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion.

Woe to the solitary man!

For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up.
So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm.

How can one alone keep warm?
Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist.

A three-ply cord is not easily broken.

~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Christ the King - Good Friday 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
Although Good Friday was the first 'official' Mass Chaos visit of the week, it was not the first trip to church I made during holy week.

On Tuesday Joe, Frank, and I met at a Reconciliation service at Saint Mary's of Omaha. It was my first confession since Tuesday of Holy Week last year ... I know, too long. In the past I have had my confessions much better planned, written out, and ready to go by the time I hit the confessional. This time I was not so prepared. It turned out to be a much more emotional experience than it has been in the past. Father was quite specific about me meditating about God's mercy for me, it's quite easy for me to consider His mercy for others, but more difficult for me.

On Thursday, myself, Brianne, Frank, Joe, Beth, Maggie, and Teri went to Holy Thursday Mass at Saint Margaret Mary. This was where and when the idea for Mass began, so we had to go there. Considering the interior of every church we have seen, I think Saint Margaret Mary may be my favorite. It captures the majesty of God in a very comfortable manner. After church we went to a local establishment where Marilou joined us.

I took Friday off of work. I arrived at Christ the King early to get a picture of the outside of the church in the 'golden hour', and then inside to enjoy the stained glass in the late sun. The Passion of the Lord was sung, rather than spoken as I am used to. It was an enjoyable experience.

Frank, Frank, Joe, me, and Maggie. Maggie chose an interesting time of year to find out about the Catholic faith.

Location and Architecture:
Christ the King, 654 South 86th Street, Omaha. The building is quite unique, and the acoustics were wonderful. You can read about the church design on this page. The character of the church itself changed as the building went from colorful when the sun was streaming through the stained glass, to earthy as the light faded. Both looks worked.






If you'd like to see the rest of my pictures from Christ the King, you can click here.

"Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews." John 19:19

Did Pilate know? Or was he just thumbing his nose at the Jewish leaders knowing of their feelings? The Gospel of John says Pilate was afraid, and surely he was caught in a bad spot. He had the Jewish leaders wanting Jesus dead, but not by their own hands. Pilate was in charge, he was supposed to keep the peace. Regardless of whether Pilate believed that Jesus was the King or not, he had the power to change events, he says so himself, but he did not.

We have opportunities in our lives to do the right thing, but we face pressure to do nothing. What excuses us from doing the right thing? The esteem of our friends? Holding on to our jobs? Money? Power? Greater good? The answer is nothing. Doing what is right is occasionally very difficult, unpopular, and may cost you ... dearly. But it is the right thing, and when you know what is right, you are called to do what is right.

Lord, grant me the grace to consider, and do, what you would have me do when I am faced with difficult decisions.

Please pray for:
The people of Japan.
The people of the countries in Southwest Asia and Africa in this time of revolution.
Tom who is deployed to Afghanistan, and his wife and two daughters.
Amy and Shannon for protection on their missions.
Kevin as he prepares for his final year of seminary and the priesthood.
Marcus as he has been accepted into seminary and will be discerning the priesthood.

Peace, Eric

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Saint John Vianney - Palm Sunday 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
Since what has seemed like the beginning of Mass Chaos, I have been asking people to pray for my friend M who was pregnant. She finally had her baby last Thursday, thank you for all who prayed about it, baby D is home, healthy, and huge (9lbs 14ozs at birth).

I've been watching the slowness of this spring and watching everything develop at a pace that I'd like to hurry up ... a lot. I looked at the dates on pictures I took of spring flowers last year, and things are a lot more developed at the same time last year than they are this year, and last year was a nasty, long winter. Monday morning while I was driving to work I was thinking about how I'd just like to be so warm that I couldn't stop sweating.

Lent is a season of denial and self examination. There have been moments over the last six weeks when, quite frankly, I didn't much care for myself. Many people would wonder why anyone would put themselves through a stressful self examination.

I wonder if a flower would put itself through winter? Does my friend regret the uncomfortable changes to her body and painful delivery? Should I avoid Lent because I don't like the process of self examination and denial? The process is as important as the journey. God wants us to grow, and although growing is sometimes, at best, awkward, it is still what is best for us. Trust in His process, and receive the result.

Ron, Frank, Frank, Joe, Beth, me, Marilou, Brianne, Patrick, Jen, and Lindsay.
Look, we're all palm readers ... ha ha ... ha.

Location and Architecture:
Saint John Vianney, 5801 Oak Hills Drive, Omaha. Saint John Vianney is (tall) Frank's home church. I've been to Vianney several times, but never to Mass before. We crowded the entire Mass Chaos crew into one pew, and I had a nice view into the chapel. The baptismal font is amazing, in particular, the woodwork over the font. The choir has a nice area over to the left (altar right). The worship space is bright and comfortable, and the chapel is very cool. Just as a note from a tall person, the seats had lots of leg room.






If you'd like to see the rest of my pictures from Saint John Vianney, you can click here.

"The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest." Matthew 21:9

I wonder, did Jesus the man enjoy this? He was the one man who deserved these kind of accolades, could He enjoy the moment, enjoy His rightful praise? I'd like to think so. This moment was one in which will be repeated in heaven when we sing forever to His glory. He should have ridden in to Jerusalem and had all crowns placed on his head, but instead, we placed a crown of thorns on Him.

He lived a perfect life. We cannot. Jesus knew what was coming, but it did not deter Him from doing what God had planned for Him. Let us do the best we can to be His disciples.

Please pray for:
The people of Japan.
The people of the countries in Southwest Asia and Africa in this time of revolution.
Tom who is deployed to Afghanistan, and his wife and two daughters.
Amy and Shannon for protection on their missions.
Kevin as he prepares for his final year of seminary and the priesthood.
Marcus as he has been accepted into seminary and will be discerning the priesthood.

April 22nd @ 7:30pm Christ the King, 654 South 86th Street, Omaha

Peace, Eric

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Saint Patrick Omaha - April 11, 2011 - Eric

What's Happening:
Beautiful weather! I'll keep this short this week so you (and me) can get out and enjoy it.

Thank you God not only for creating the beauty of the earth, but for giving me the ability to enjoy it also.

Brianne, me, Teri, Ron, Marilou, and Vesper. They are all smiles despite the fact that I got the Mass time wrong.

Location and Architecture:
Saint Patrick's, 1404 Castelar Street, Omaha. I was waiting to come to this church with much anticipation, I heard it was very pretty and it didn't disappoint. I was so excited, in fact, that I had the Mass time wrong, and got there an hour early ... oops. The church is indeed beautiful, the stained glass is extraordinary, as is the mural behind the almost unbelievably detailed altar. To me, the most amazing part is the painting of clouds behind the statue of Mary.






If you'd like to see the rest of my pictures from Saint Patrick's, you can click here, I included some flower shots from the church grounds and a couple of the Mass Chaos group.

"So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go to die with him." John 11:16

I love the parts of the Gospels where it shows that Jesus just picked a bunch of regular Joes to be His apostles. Thomas cannot be accused of not following Jesus, he clearly states that he is going with him, but Thomas is not exactly cheerful, or hopeful about the outcome of this adventure Jesus is leading him on.

This reminds of the parable of the two sons.
"What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' He said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did his father's will?" They answered, "The first."... Matthew 21:28-31
My friends, if there is one being in the universe who can handle all of our negativity, all of our defiance, all of our impetuousness, it is our Father in heaven. God made you, and if anyone knows you, it is He. Like the defiant son, we sometimes go against the will of God, and like Thomas, we are sometimes unhappy about where God is leading us. Don't fret your negativity, remember that God wants us all; He knows we are closer to being regular Joe's than we are to being saints. Work through your bad moments, learn to do His will, and follow Him down the road that He will lead you.

Please pray for:
The people of Japan.
The people of the countries in Southwest Asia and Africa in this time of revolution.
Tom who is deployed to Afghanistan, and his wife and two daughters.
Amy and Shannon for protection on their missions.
Kevin as he prepares for his final year of seminary and the priesthood.
Marcus as he has been accepted into seminary and will be discerning the priesthood.
My friend M., who is pregnant, please pray for her and her baby (seriously overdue).

April 17th @ 11:30 Saint John Vianney, 5801 Oak Hills Drive, Omaha.

Peace, Eric