Holy Silence at OLMC

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Carmel, IN

Today, I returned to a place I had vowed to avoid—the perpetual adoration chapel at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (OLMC).  OLMC is conveniently situated a couple of miles to the west of my son’s high school, Guerin Catholic.   It’s much closer if you want to make 8am mass after carpool than my own parish—which I want to state for the record that I love– before you read on.

Still, I have been steering clear of OLMC.  Allow me to explain.

Several months ago, I visited the OLMC chapel during my son’s baseball practice which was nearby.  40 minutes or so with Jesus would be good, I thought.  So, as I walked in there, I think I spot a friend (which I am not expecting since it’s not my parish)….so I am distracted a bit.  One hand is in holy water, the other holding my purse, and my shoes are damp from the wet pavement.  All this and I am attempting to genuflect.  I fall right on my rear.  I kind of land half in the lap of some old gray haired guy.  I take a big, dramatic, humiliating tumble.

The man is worried am I ok, and I get up as quick as I can, find a seat, and just put my head down hoping to never raise it again.  My cell phone starts to buzz.  I drop it on the floor grabbing for it, and parts scatter.  No one is praying at this point, and I am officially a menace.  There were probably 15 people in that chapel.  It was a full house.

Then, a woman says, “let us pray together the litany of humility”.  The gray hair comes toward me, puts his hand on my back, kind of rubs it….and hands me the prayer.  He whispers, “maybe you want to pray along.”

Humiliating?  Yes.

For the unfamiliar, here is the dreadful prayer.


O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…Jesus grant me the grace to desire it.

I decided after that day that the people of OLMC deserve a break from yours truly.  A permanent break.

Today, I returned to morning mass at OLMC because a friend wanted company.  I admit my own tank was a little low, as was my enthusiasm.

But then, I arrived.  As I walked in, I remembered they observe a beautiful holy silence in their chapel and in the church.  Jesus is present in the tabernacle behind the altar, and also in the perpetual adoration chapel nearby.  You cannot miss this fact, because you feel the respect of everyone present by their observance of silence.

As with most daily masses everywhere I’ve been, morning mass is quick at OLMC, but here it’s not rushed.  The friend who accompanied me noticed a “special vibe” in that place.  She noticed it after mass in the chapel where we prayed kneeling next to each other.  She noticed it in the beautiful wall tapestries which contain images of several saints.  Most of all, she noticed it in the amazing numbers of parishioners who were present to receive the Eucharist and to pray in His presence in the chapel.  Joy was palpable on her face and in my own heart too from the lovely grace-filled morning.

This is when I had today’s light bulb moment.

Gathering as a community does not make a group holy, any more than attending mass makes an individual holy.  God uses grace as a tool to mold His church, to correct her, to grant us a collective passion for others, and to enable us to love Him, each other and the world.  Some means of grace are personal—like solitude, or the sacrament of reconciliation.  Others are corporate—like the mass—or a Jesus loving parish who welcomes visitors with the gift of holy silence and their collective witness of faith.  It’s about doing small things with great love, just as Mother Teresa famously said.

People of OLMC, my hat is off today to you.

Thank you for preparing for mass in prayerful silence.  Thank you for sharing your well prepared priest, Fr. Adam Mauman, and for the witness of the reverent server (whose name I do not know).  Thank you for reaching with two hands at the sign of peace.  Thank you for sharing your sunshine filled adoration chapel.  Thank you for knowing all the words to “Sanctus” in Latin.  I’d like to learn them.   It was all beautiful.

I left OLMC having received bread for the journey, my empty tank refilled and my heart renewed today with love of Jesus I saw in those around me.

“If only one little child is made happy with the love of Jesus…will it not be worth…..giving all for that?”  Mother Teresa

Helping after the Fire

Kelly Hauschild, you are loved!

Bear one another’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)

Two days ago, I posted the following note on my Facebook page, and initially, it was emailed it to the 7th grade families at my son’s school, St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School (SLDM), in Fishers, Indiana.

 SLDM Friends,

 Over the weekend, SLDM teacher, Kelly Hauschild, who teaches 7th and 8th graders, suffered a house fire. She has a large family (7 in all) and they are now in a hotel until temporary housing can be secured. I am collecting money tomorrow morning in front of church before mass (I have a light blue minivan), and also in the narthex after mass for this family. In addition, I will be in the carpool line tomorrow afternoon (Wed. 14th). If any of you would like to make a contribution, I will add your generosity to our “gift card” fund. We are getting gift cards to a few restaurants as well as a superstore where she can get needed food, clothing, and household items as they are necessary in the next several weeks. I’m putting a short leash on the collection time frame so that I can get her the gift cards by Thursday. I realize that many of you have young children and haven’t met Kelly yet. As a parent of 2 children Kelly has taught the ins and outs of Algebra, Geometry and Religion over the past 3 years, I can tell you she is an outstanding and faith filled woman. I know she will be humbled and truly grateful for any support from the SLDM family. If you are unable to assist monetarily, that is absolutely fine. Your prayers will be needed and appreciated as well!! Feel free to pass this along to anyone you think who might like to help.

Now, it’s Thursday.  Help came.

Will $3000 worth of gift cards and cash magically solve the challenges faced by the Hauschild family?  Of course it won’t.  They have months of recovery ahead of them, temporary housing to locate, a home to rebuild and a Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner that no longer looks as they wish and certainly not as they anticipated.

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.  –Mother Teresa

A hastily gathered gift, given in love, will hopefully help bridge the gap until insurance paperwork and inevitable red tape leads to actual assistance, a temporary housing solution and life back on track.  Kelly’s co-workers and the administration at SLDM are collecting funds, and clothing is being gathered as we speak for the children.  When I saw Kelly and Jeff yesterday, her jacket covered in ashes from sifting through the damaged house,  and him with a harrowing story of escaping the house during the fire, I could clearly see there will be an ongoing need for help.  I am certain it will be forthcoming.

BUT.  To me, here’s the silver lining.

Yesterday, in ONE DAY, with no time to think, the amazing people of St. Louis de Montfort wrapped Kelly, Jeff and their 5 children in love.  They simply rolled down their car windows and emptied their wallets, no questions asked, to do what they can.

My beloved faith community– YOU were the face of Christ.

The Kingdom of God is among you. (LK 17:21). 

One of my favorite authors and homilists, the charmingly abrasive Fr. Larry Richards, said this morning via Twitter, “We are to bring God’s kingdom to everyone—He is within you so show Him today!”

And that is just what you did, SLDM.  I am so proud to call you friends.  Nicely done.

Prayers continue.

If Jesus is Batman…

“Are you kidding me?  You’re telling me when we put the Flavor-ice popsicles in the freezer THAT is condensation?  You put them in the FREEZER to FREEZE them!! This is ridiculous!!  I am not going to help you if you aren’t even going to try!”  — Me, to my 8 year old son

Suffice it to say, the brilliant and patient science teachers of the world need not fear I am coming for their jobs any time soon.  Further, my general homework/studying philosophy to date has gone something like this, “I already passed the 7th grade, now it’s your turn.”

Have I helped renovate a science fair board, or given myriad spelling pretests, or assisted in researching the culture and political situation in Azerbaijan?  Heck yeah.  Have I edited essays and worn a path to our local CVS on endless supply runs?  Absolutely.

Here’s the thing.  On rodeo #3, I seem to have fallen off the horse.  This is a horse of another color, you might say.  We have only just begun, and I am frustrated, and I am worried.

Here’s my inner dialogue.  A good mom would know what to do.  A loving parent would have patient and loving answers and interactions. A God-filled mother would know how to close the gap caused by frustration and insecurity and would persevere confidently in the direction of success with her child.

Me?  I yelled.  I lost my patience.  I wanted to do something else, anything else.  I shared this with a friend this week, and then confessed I prayed, asking Mary for assistance.  My non-Catholic friend said, “Mary?”  I said, “Yes, Mary, The mother Jesus?”

“Ahh….THAT Mary!  You Catholic girls.  I don’t get the Mary thing.  When I need a filling, I don’t dial up my Dentist’s mom, Shelly.  Can you talk to me about what the story is with Mary?”

I wanted my friend’s consolation.  Affirmation was the goal, then I wanted to head to Marsh for decongestant.  Apologetics was not on my mind.  I instantly recalled a great comment made by a friend several years ago at a CRHP meeting and I flippantly replied, “If Jesus is Batman, then Mary has the Bat phone.”


“Shelly.  Why not just pray to Jesus to help you be the mom you want to be?  That I would get.”

Then, we proceeded to have this surprising interaction.  I asked her why it is that she asks me to pray for her, for her parents, and for others in her life who are struggling.   We talked about how lots of people ask others to pray for them.  Why do we do that?  Why not just talk to Jesus?

I think there are a couple of reasons.  First of all, we don’t live on an island.  We need our friends.  Others have compassion that we need to help us through this life, they stand in the gap for us—they intercede.  Our friends, family members– all can be helps in our relationship with Jesus.

Second of all, and this is a new revelation to me.  My Lutheran friend said to me “Well, I don’t pray to dead people.”

Here’s where the conversation ended for today, but I have been thinking about it ever since.

I should have said, “People in heaven are alive.  This is what I believe.”  It’s a fundamental belief that I mistakenly took for granted entering into the chat.

I think of Mary as the original prayer warrior.  She doesn’t say much in the bible, but she does tell us that her role forever to the end of the ages is to magnify Jesus.

Let’s keep in mind here that like most good cradle Catholics I have encountered, I know virtually zero about scripture.  BUT…..I am familiar with the Magnificat.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.  For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness, behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.  The Mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.  He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.  He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones, but lifted up the lowly.  The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich he has sent away empty.  He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

So, reading this, which is just lovely and beautiful playing in my head as a song, it seems self-evident to me that praying for her intercession isn’t worship and it cannot take focus away from the one who saved us—her son!  In eternity, her sole job in my simple mind is to lead us to Him.

Does it diminish our relationship with Jesus to have devotion to Mary or enjoy Marian prayers?  If it’s useful for our friends on earth to pray for us, then isn’t it possible those in heaven are even more equipped?  I mean, who do you ask to pray for you when you REALLY need prayer?  The holiest people you know, right??  Devotion to Mary doesn’t deify Mary…..it simply indicates incredible respect.

Writing this post about Mary was my way of making amends to her son, who I love, for the flippant initial response when I encountered the opportunity to chat with my friend about the queen of heaven.

We do not slight the son when we honor the mother.  –St. Louis de Montfort

I feel like its possible God wasn’t really all that interested in consoling me about my poor behavior or soothing my bruised little feelings.   I concede it’s more than probable that all of this was God’s way of pointing me to the greatest example of motherhood that exists.

Lucky for me, the greatest mother ever always takes calls from her children outside normal business hours.

Hail Mary, full of grace…..

All Saints Day: Loving Catholic Schools

I wrote this article, below, on behalf of St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School, at the request of our amazing Walk-a-thon chairs and my terrific friends, Meg Ryder and Angie Watson.  We’ve held this event for many years, but they have taken it to a whole new level of fun and meaning while still raising funds vitally necessary for the sustenance of our parish school.  Catholic schools everywhere couldn’t make it without supportive volunteers who pour time, funds and their hearts into these schools where our children are able to have daily conversations with and about Christ, grow in character and integrity.  One day soon I’ll write an article exclusively about why I love Catholic schools.  I’ll talk about things like 2nd graders wearing shirts that say “Run, Jump, Play but Do Not Sin! –St. John Bosco” and kids stopping class to say the rosary for a classmate starting chemo.

Until then, I offer this article for today,  All Saint’s Day,

SLDM Walk-a-Thon, 2012

to all the Catholic school volunteers giving of themselves, and all the parents sacrificing for the truly worthy effort of making certain a faith filled Catholic education is available at terrific Roman Catholic institutions all over this amazing country.  You can spot them easily.  They all generally have names like “All Saint’s Academy”, “St. Lawrence”, “St. Mary’s”, “St. Boniface”, or “St. Louis de Montfort”!  KEEP THE FAITH, ALL!  Our Catholic schools are a treasure!

Missionaries in the Mirror:  SLDM Walk-a-Thon

School aged children have a special knack for focusing on fun.  In the fall, most of the kiddos in our neck of the woods look forward to things like Friday night football games or what costume to wear while “trick-or-treating”. Students at St. Louis de Montfort (SLDM) in Fishers, Indiana, also mark the days eagerly awaiting the annual SLDM “Walk-a-thon”.

Yes, the event is a fundraiser.  Oh, but it is so much more!

The goal of the event is to help the children learn how to love, learn, and lead in the community.  This year’s theme, as captured by students who created the event logo, was “Faith-Filled Footsteps”. The idea is to assist students in learning by action, how to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

Catholic writer, Jennifer Rey, recently wrote “the essence of the Church’s evangelizing mission is to simply help people, not necessarily convert them.  Conversion is important, but we are called first and foremost to love and to serve.”  The message is one the students at SLDM have been living through their beloved walk-a-thon for several years.  We are all called to see ourselves as missionaries.  Children of any age can pray, smile, help, and engage others.

Partnering with Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent (PMCH), students and staff at SLDM are each assigned a prayer partner.  These are sick children being treated at the nearby Indianapolis hospital.  Students are given the patient name, age and condition.  They wear that partner’s information around their neck (this year on dog tags) during the weeks leading up to the actual day of the walk.  They gather items from nearby neighborhoods to give to patients from their wish lists, and they pray for their partners.

Associate pastor, Fr. John Kiefer, spiritually challenged the students to demonstrate actions of love, learning, or leading like Jesus for which they earned plastic balls to place in two story high tubes!  How amazing it was to see their acts of compassion and leadership grow to the 2nd floor of the school!  It was a terrific visual which spoke loudly about how much we can accomplish!

In addition to the community partnership with PMCH, pledges were gathered by students for each step they took during the walk, which will be used to assist the parish school in its mission of providing a quality Catholic education for its 475 students.  Principal Annette Jones and Vice-Principal Janet Andriole added to the fun by providing an “incentive” to the students.  If the student body reached its fundraising goal of $35,000, their administrators would wear the costumes chosen by students during “Walk-a-Thon” week.  It was silly fun to see Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Andriole dressed in costumes all day! The top student fundraiser earned an Ipad3 for himself, and one for his prayer partner, a 12-yr old girl named Laike, from Kokomo, Indiana. Sponsors helped defray the costs.

During the Walk-a-Thon day itself, students created signed pictures to deliver to their prayer partners, they lifted up their intentions by writing them and placing them on a 6ft tall, 3-D cross, there were team building activities, songs, and of course the walk/run itself!  Pastor Fr. Pat Click in his “Fr. Pat Challenge” urged students to go the extra mile, to push and sacrifice for others as they walked and ran!

The event raised a total of $43,000 for the school.  More than that, it taught the students that they don’t have to go to Calcutta like Mother Teresa to make a difference.  They just need to see the missionary in the mirror.