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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why We Got Stopped Multiple Times On The Highway

In a recent blog post, I mentioned how I would be visiting a Bendictine monastery on a pilgrimage in reparation for the "Black Mass” that was to be held on September 21 in Oklahoma City.  I finally went on that pilgrimage, and it was absolutely amazing! Rather than bust out a really long blog post recounting my experiences, I decided I'd do a brief series of blog posts highlighting different aspects.

The first half of our pilgrimage was a 4 hour drive to Wagoner, OK. From Holy Cross Catholic Church, we walked all the way to Clear Creek Abbey.

That's about 22 miles. Here's the route:

For safety and to help with keeping fresh legs, we had one of us drive our vehicular device up a few miles and wait for the rest of us to catch up. Once we all caught up, we'd switch out drivers and kept doing this along the way. If you'll look up at the map, you'll notice that we crossed via bridge over the lake. For that, we all hopped in the car and crossed because there is absolutely no pedestrian space and caulking our wagon and fording the lake wasn't an option either. Apart from these times, we walked.

Six guys walking along the side of a highway isn't particularly too interesting.  If anything, we're probably deemed as crazy for walking along the shoulder with vehicular things zooming past at 45-60 MPH! Maybe it's crazy that we were walking in the wind and rain. Maybe people thought we we were hiking. Maybe people got frustrated that they would have to take evasive maneuvers on the highway for our safety.

But a handful of people stopped and talked to us.


Why would these handful of people stop to talk to a bunch of guys taking up space on the side of the road?

The answer apparently was...

...because of the cross.

Seeing guys walking on the side of the road doesn't really compel anyone to stop and talk to them.

Seeing guys carrying a large wooden with drizzle and rain and a cool breeze causes double-takes and prompts questions and photo requests.

It happened multiple times on our 21 miles of walking. Some highlights, in list form:

[1] We stopped to exchange the cross towards the beginning of our march, and a woman pulled up near us on the side of the highway. She was curious as to what we were doing and thought it was cool. Our DRE explained why. She took a picture. We took her prayer intention and wrote it on our cross (her family has a history of some sort of thyroid disease).

 Morgan approves!
[2] Another time we stopped to exchange the cross in front of a convenience store. The owner runs out, yells for us to put the cross down and come into his store. He wanted to offer us free food (fried chicken and potato wedges!) because he loved the fact that we had a cross out there with us. He must've seen us coming up the road... Inside his store, we met a wife and her husband who are trying to get a minstry started because the nearest churches are still kind of far away. We prayed with her and their ministry. The owner and his family were so incredibly nice and their generosity was very much appreciated.

[3] Half-way through, a woman stopped ahead of us, and waited for us to come up. She was curious as to what we're doing and she wanted a picture. After we explained our purpose, we asked for her prayer request. She works at a local nursery, where that very day they were having to lay off a lot of people. We passed by it on our walk and it is pretty huge so I can't imagine how many people had to lose their jobs that day.

[4] We stopped at the last convenience store before the monastery because...well, they stopped us. Apparently someone passing by on the highway had seen us and called ahead to make sure the convenience store employees stopped us. That someone was from their volunteer fire department. She thought it was pretty cool that we were walking with a cross and so she bought us free drinks at the convenience store.

[5] This was more planned and intentional, but our DRE made contact with a mutual friend who lives near the monastery. They made arrangements to meet us and feed us at the aforementioned volunteer fire department where we were fed a delicious tomato basil soup and tuna sandwich meal. Homemade. Absolutely delicious after 15 miles of walking, and with it raining outside. There's a wonderful community of about 100 people who live just outside of the monastery, and they often help the monks out as well as visitors to the monastery.

[7] On the last stretch towards the monastery, a woman who lived on that road was driving past us and stopped to talk to us for a while. Traffic had to evade. She too was curious as to what we're doing and we explained. She also thought it was cool. Her prayer intention was for the football game that night for no injuries.

Oh, and none of these people were Catholic, except for those we met up with in [5]. But that doesn't matter because the cross unites us as Christians.

I mean, in addition to all of these examples, we had a good handful of appreciative/affirming car honks from strangers and passersby.

These experiences made me realize in a very real and first-hand way that the cross is our sign for victory and hope. Our Christian brothers and sisters know very well of this fact so seeing the cross being carried is enough to give pause and wonder, especially for those we encountered on our long, rainy, cold march towards the monastery.

“We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.”
- JD

Pictures courtesy of myself and my companions.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How Satanists Backhand Compliment Catholicism

I just recently visited a Bendictine monastery up in Oklahoma. I found it interesting that, posted in several places throughout the monastery, is the letter of an archbishop asking all Catholics to pray for the Satanic Black Mass to be cancelled today on September 21. Makes sense because the monastery is located in the middle-of-nowhere of Oklahoma and the Black Mass is happening in Oklahoma City.

The temptation right now is to talk about this Satanic Black Mass from an angle of whether they should or should not or whether public/private places should even hold such things simply because that's what's been covered in media. But that's not what I want to talk about. Here's a mass media article to help provide a little insight.

In my very light research of a Satanic Black Mass, I found out that while there can be some variation as to what actions or ceremonies are done within a Black Mass, it essentially is based off of a Catholic Mass. A Black Mass is a mockery and parody of the Catholic Mass. Perhaps for some, this is not a big deal because Mass is long and boring. For Catholics Who Care, that's terrible because it takes our highest form of prayer and desecrates it. But that's not what I want to talk about.

What's often required for a Satanic Black Mass is a consecrated host. In Catholic terms, this is the Eucharist. Our communion bread. A consecrated host means that the piece of unleavened bread has undergone the traditional ritual since The Last Supper which transforms this bread into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. That's a long winded exhortation of theological matters, but that's not what I want to talk about. Just note that Catholics believe that the Eucharist is truly Jesus.

So, they mock the Catholic Mass and desecrate the Eucharist.

They. mock. the. Catholic. Mass. and. desecrate. the Eucharist. They invoke Satan and try to cast out the Holy Spirit. They desecrate the (consecrated) host with bodily fluids. And other things.

See, as terrible and targeted as this is, I think these two facts are, in a somewhat farfetched way, back handed compliments for Catholicism. 

Farfetch'd from Pokémon, to illustrate the point
First of all, it's a Black Mass. Not a Satanic Black Worship Service. Not a Satanic Black Bible Study. Not a Satanic Black Prayer Meeting. A Satanic Black Mass. Very intentional that it mocks the Catholic Mass. Which leads me to think that the Catholic Mass seems to be worth mocking. And our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters should be seriously offended that their forms of worship aren’t the model for a Satanic Black Mass. 

Second of all, while most Christians believe that their hosts are merely symbolic of Jesus’ Body, only Catholics believe in the fullness of truth regardingthat during a Catholic Mass, the host becomes Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity after consecration. Sure, some other mainline Protestants also believe that theirs become Real too, but not with the same full understanding that the Catholic Church has.  Oh, and Satanists affirm the Catholic understanding. They believe it really is Jesus, too. That’s why they strive to steal the Eucharist from Catholic parishes. There’s no way to obtain one unless one goes to Mass, take one, and try to leave with it. Or they attempt to break into a Catholic parish and steal it from the tabernacle. Again, most Christians don’t believe it’s Real. But Satanists do! That’s so crazy! That’s why Satanists want to desecrate the Eucharist because they know it’s Jesus! They would have to settle for a symbolic ritual of desecration by using communion wafers that you can buy leisurely at LifeWay. Or something. Again, our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters should be offended that their form of matter for communion isn’t the first preference.

As they think that they’re doing the right thing by opposing the influence of God and the Catholic Church, they provide some interesting backhand compliments.

So, should I be honored that this Black Mass is happening tonight? Should I be angry because they’re taking two very important things to me (the Mass and the Eucharist) and spitting (literally) on them? 

I’m not honored but perhaps slightly flattered that the elements of my Christian spiritual life are the ones worth targeting. However, I don’t advocate for Black Mass, even for the curious. I’m aware of the realities of opening oneself to the influence of evil is not a good thing. It’s serious stuff. Even they say this is serious stuff. I'm grateful that (allegedly) they're not using a consecrated host this time.

But, our response as real Catholics, isn’t to go beheading those who attack us or who are different from us. If the Satanists want to desecrate our Mass and the Eucharist, our response is to…have special Masses, special gatherings for prayer and adore Christ in the Eucharist all the more. Again, back to the letter of the archbishop of Oklahoma City, he calls for all Catholics to do something for tonight’s Black Mass at the same time it is happening.

That’s where I’ll be tonight. Adoring Christ in the Eucharist. Fellow Catholics (and our Christians brothers and sisters and other people of good will!), come let us harness the power of Google and find out if a local Catholic parish is hosting anything tonight in reparation for the Satanic Black Mass. There are Masses, times of prayer, Adoration, and Eucharistic processions that might be happening, especially around Oklahoma City. 

“Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…”

This post was inspired by Mark Shea's, "Monstrous" post.

This post also linked at Catholic Bloggers Network.

Farfetch'd // Pokemon Wikia

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Going to Visit A Monastery & Taking Prayer Requests!

Sometimes great adventures get proposed over cold adult beverages and 60 cent wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. As Taylor Swift may briefly say, it was just a typical Tuesday night with some guys from my parish, including our Director of Religious Education (DRE) and some visiting seminarians from Albuquerque, NM. 

Towards the end of the night and after the last Thai Curry wing was consumed, our DRE came up to me and my housemate proposing an adventurous idea: a pilgrimage to a Benedictine monastery in Oklahoma. The initial details were basically take a car and drive up, stop 20+ miles away from the monastery, walk the rest of the way, join the monks for their prayer times, stay the night, have a full morning and afternoon of prayer and reflection, then drive back. Oh, and beg for food in order to eat.


...and in my mind I was like..."HEAVEN YEAH!"  My only hesitations in saying yes were some typical annual obligations that fell on this planned weekend of pilgrimage-ing. A week goes by, permissions asked of wives and housemates. It looks like I'm going to be in a car full of other men doing this pilgrimage.

We will leave in the dead of the night (3:30AM) on Friday, drive a long while, stop at a Catholic church in Waggoner, OK mid-morning, then walk all afternoon to the monastery where we hope to have dinner with some friends of the monks at a volunteer fire station. We'll be bringing a large wooden cross to carry with us as we're walking. Then at night, we'll join the monks for Compline (Night Prayer). Saturday will be filled with more Liturgy of the Hours with the monks, times of silence and prayer, a conference/reflection led by our DRE on the Holy Cross (the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is Sunday), hang out with religious sisters, and Mass at some point. Then we return home.

I'm pretty excited. I haven't been on any sort of retreat for my own sake since last year when I went on a silent retreat. I see it as a great opportunity to grow physically and spiritually due to the demands of this pilgrimage. Walking 20+ miles?! In the afternoon in the summer?! I've never done that! And Benedictine monasteries have a certain Catholic cool factor due to the nature of the Benedictine way of life. Challenge accepted.

With all that said, I'll undoubtedly have time to pray. If you would like me to pray for you while I'm on this pilgrimage, please submit your prayer request via the form below.

Thanks and God bless! And please pray for the other men and for me as we go on this pilgrimage that God teaches us what He wants us to know during this time on our pilgrimage. And let's also ask for St. Michael the Archangel's intercession for this time before the pilgrimage because I can already tell that Satan is on the prowl trying to ruin things because he doesn't like this idea at all.

Lastly, please pray for our pilgrimage's general intention (what we'll be praying for during the pilgrimage): for an end to the Black Mass scheduled on September 21 through the victory of the Holy Cross.

- JD

Our Lady of Clear Creek Abby //