Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pilgrimage... Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For our next excursion we are going to travel to the “city of brotherly love” Philadelphia.  There are many nationally historic places to see there but did you know that there are also many Catholic things to see there as well.  For this pilgrimage we are going to go to three shrines, see two saints, one uncorrupted body laying in the altar and get a real Philly cheese steak.

In the city...

National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia
Our first stop on the tour will be at the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia.  The hundred year old church is a good first stop into south Philadelphia.  Learn more about the life of St. Rita as well as why she is the patron saint of impossible causes.  See the relics and statues in the shrine and light a candle for your own impossible cause.
The St. Rita shrine is located at 1166 So. Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19146

National Shrine of St. John Neumann

The National Shrine of St. John Neumann is located in the lower church of St. Peter the Apostle Church at 1019 North 5th Street.  The church is historic, beautiful and ornate in design having been built in the mid 1800’s The best part about this shrine is that you actually get to see St. John Neumann, he is in the glass altar in the lower church.  Having visited this shrine before it seems like a nondescript lower church until you realize there is a saint in the altar.  Next to  the lower church is a small museum, which displays exhibits relating to the life of the saint. There are very few places in the United States that you can see the body of a saint if you are in Philadelphia this is worth the trip.

The National Shrine of St. John Neumann located at 1019 North Fifth St. Philadelphia, PA 19123

Miraculous Medal Shrine
The Miraculous Medal Shrine is located in northwest Philadelphia.  This is a beautiful shrine devoted to Mary and the miraculous medal.  

Miraculous Medal located 500 E Chelten Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Outside town but worth the drive…

National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel

Located outside of Philadelphia about a 20 minute drive up 95 is the Mission Center and national Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel.  The shrine tells the story of Katharine Drexel thought artifacts and photos of her life.  St. Katharine Drexel’s remains are also entombed at the shine on the lower level below the altar of the St. Elizabeth’s Chapel above.   

National Shrine of St. Katharine Drexel 1663 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, PA 19020

How ‘bout a cheesesteak

No trip to Philly can be complete without a authentic South Philly Cheesesteak.  There are two main landmark establishments to get a Cheesesteak sandwich and the argument over which is better goes on and on.  I will state they are both delicious and you can’t go wrong with either Though they are geared for tourist to eat and tell other that they ate there (or where Rocky ate in the movie)

Geno’s Steaks
1219 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Pat's King of Steaks
1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147


Friday, February 21, 2014

When is too sick for Mass?

I was recently asked a question about when is ok to miss church for sickness.  The person in question was physically able to get to church but was getting over a recent illness and was worried about infecting others. He had grown up that you should only miss Mass if you're physically unable to attend.  So when is it ok to miss Mass and what obligation do you have to protect the health of your fellow parishioners?

I am not an expert on this but neither is anyone else.  You could ask 10 people and get 10 different answers and a lot of them are dependant on how you feel, which only you can decide.

First and foremost 

If you are physically ill and cannot get to church PLEASE STAY HOME

Otherwise conscience is key

With borderline illnesses or getting over something recently you need to follow your conscience.

What are your motivations for not going.  Are you skipping mass but still plan to go out shopping later this afternoon?

If it were Monday instead of Sunday would you call out of work for the same thing?

Does your church have an area (lobby, vestibule etc.) that you could not be close to others but could still hear the Mass.  

Many people would say if you might be sick stay home and spare the rest of the congregation the chance of getting sick.  

This problem is compounded when you have children.  Children catch germs and spread them easily so if your child feels ok but has a runny nose is he leaving that in the pew after you leave.  But with some children having a runny nose from October till March it is not feasible to take a six month hiatus from Mass. So plan and pack accordingly. 

Hand sanitizer is your friend

Many churches are installing hand sanitizer dispensers right by the front door.  This helps to stop the spread of germs to hands.  Using this can help kill germs.

No peace for you

If you are, were or are becoming sick.  It is ok to not shake hands during peace.  People would rather be offended than sick.  If you mumble something about a cold they will be glad to not shake your hand.

Bottom line

If you are sick stay home.  If you are borderline sick follow your conscience on your motivations and abilities.   The Mass should be the pinnacle of your week and missing it should never be taken lightly.  But we should also be aware of those around us especially the young and the elderly who if they caught something could be deadly to them more than a normal healthy adult.     

Friday, February 14, 2014

Do Angels have wings?

Recently I was posed a questions about if angels have wings and what the Bible has to say about it and if they don’t have wings why are they always depicted as having them in art and culture?

So i am going to try and answer from purely a biblical perspective but I also need to contextualize my answer with some outside references such as Thomas Aquinas for additional context.

So the meat of the question is do angels have wing?

The short answer is yes and no.  In scripture there are nine choirs (or levels) of angels mentioned.  The problem is that the Bible itself leaves out detailed descriptions of the angels themselves in many cases. 

 It would be nice if the Bible provided detailed description of all of the characters but we know that the Bible is a book about salvation history rather than a modern day documentary with vivid details for every event.  

 Arguments for wings…

The idea that angels have wings is scriptural

When instructing the construction of the Ark of the covenant God makes explicit reference to Cherubim with wings:

The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat.(Ex 25:20)  

As well as in Ezekiel when he encounters Cherubim

The cherubim appeared to have the form of a man's hand under their wings.(Ez 10:8)

Isaiah’s vision of the kingdom includes Seraphim with wings

Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (Isaiah 6:2)

Thomas Aquinas places Seraphim and Cherubim at the top of the angel hierarchy. 

So we can see evidence in the Bible of certain angels with wings.

Arguments against wings…

the book of Hebrews express that Angels are spiritual beings

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?(Heb 1:14)

Many of the arguments against wings also come from logical deductions.  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah mistake the angels that come to help Lot for men.(Gn 19:5)  A being with wings would not be mistaken for a man.  

Also recall when Jesus rose from the dead the in the end of Mark a “Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.”(Mk 16:5)  Possibly having wings could have caused amazement but there is not elaborations on the description of the young man.  


So according to the Bible some angels have wings and some are not mentioned as such and are confused with men.  Traditionally angels are thought to be spiritual beings that are servants of God and subject to him.  We could go on more about characteristics of Angels but that would be another whole post.   

But one this is clear that they work for God

“But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 1:9)

And they help mankind and we should pray for their intercession for us to God.

    St. Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
    and do thou,
    O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
    by the power of God,
    thrust into hell Satan,
    and all the evil spirits,
    who prowl about the world
    seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hey Remember that Time... a bird chose the Pope

This article is part of new feature called "Hey Remember that Time..." where we look at a piece of church history that was unusual in some way.

In the installment we look at the time a bird chose who was elected Pope.

January 10 236 Pope Fabian was elected Bishop of Rome.  There would seem no problem with the previous sentence to us in modern day, but it came as a surprise to the people of the time because of the way it happened.  Pope Fabian was not considered a frontrunner by anyone .  But during the voting a dove came and sat on his head.  The cardinals being familiar with the Gospel saw the imagery invoked in Mark “Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;” (Mark 1:10).  He was elected Pope and served in that capacity for until his death in 250.  

So it goes to show that sometime the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pillgrimage... Baltimore, Maryland

This article is the first in a series called “Pilgrimage…” which focus on a city or region and talks about Catholic landmarks that you could go see if you were to visit the city.  It is a kind of guide if you would ever want to do a pilgrimage to that city to see the Catholic churches, shrines which make up the history of that city or region.    

For our first stop in this series we are going to the city of Baltimore, Maryland.  Baltimore was named the first diocese in the United States in 1789.  With having a 200 year history, Baltimore has many catholic cultural treasures.  On our pilgrimage to Baltimore our first logical stop is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at 320 Cathedral Street.  

First Stop...

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Baltimore is a co cathedral dioceses the basilica is the first cathedral in the United States.  In 2006 a major restoration project was completed to bring the basilica back to its original grandeur.  The basilica was restored the original clear windows that allows natural light to emit into the sanctuary making is a more invited worship space.   The basilica is open everyday for tourist to come visit the oldest basilica in the United States.

Second Stop...

St. Jude's Shrine
While we're are still in the area lets take a stroll to St Jude's Shrine.  It is walkable but St. Jude also has a parking lot in front of it of patrons of the shrine.  St. Jude patron saint of hopeless causes.  
St Jude Shrine is worth a trip to pray if you are in Baltimore

Third Stop...

St. Mary's Spiritual center and Historical Site
Our last official stop on the our tour is to the St Mary’s Spiritual Center and Historical site on Paca Street.  For many Catholics in Baltimore, the ones that go into the city to tour spiritual places St. Mary’s Spiritual center is the one they probably haven’t been.  But it is significant on a couple of fronts, first the original chapel of St Mary’s the first seminary in the United States and second the Mother Seton house where St. Elizabeth Ann Seton lived during her stay in Baltimore before leaving for Emmitsburg.  This location located in the heart of Baltimore with the two historical building and of course the gift shop is a great way to complete your Catholic pilgrimage to Baltimore.  

Optional Stops...
For more fun in Baltimore consider going to North Baltimore for some other though not a touristy(meaning you need to call ahead to arrange a tour, if available and no gift shops).  

Cathedral of Mary our Queen
Baltimore's other Cathedral, not as historic but much bigger.

St. Mary’s Seminary and University (No Public Tours)
 First and oldest seminary in the United States

Upcoming Cities in the future installments of  "Pilgrimage..." 
Emmitsburg home of Mt. St. Mary’s University and the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Philadelphia see St. John Newman encased in a glass altar 
Montreal and Quebec see St. Josephs oratory and St Ann's Shrine.