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Tuesday, 22-Mar-2005 00:00
RCIA: Chrism Mass, Cathedral of Our Lady of Our Angels, 2005
Timing is everything, isn't it? Every year, my husband, a college professor, gets this week off for Spring Break. No martyr when it comes to vacations, I take time off from my work during this time. Usually, we're up in the mountains for a quiet week of R&R -- http://www.applesofgold.co.uk/be_still_and_know.htm("being still") and getting closer to God, reading, enjoying the spring flowers, taking long walks with our dogs; if not there, we're back in Hawai`i visiting family. (This is the best time of year to be in Hawai`i)

God, however, had other plans for us this year. He made sure that Holy Week coincided with this week. So no retreat to the mountains this year. No tropical vacation back home in Hawai`i. But instead something better: we get to participate more fully in the activities of Holy Week with time for quiet reflection, prayer and just hanging out with God in preparation for our baptisms, right here in the flatlands!

Yesterday, His Timing freed us to join Rudy and Mila, our RCIA leaders, and team members, Frank, Curie, Estella, Cecilia, and Jennifer, on their yearly jaunt to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles for the Chrism Mass. Whoa, Nelly...chrism, what's that, you ask? I asked the same. Chrism refers to the anointing oils.

Before we piled into Frank's van, we were given an impromptu tour of the refurbished rectory from Hope, who is in charge of the parish facilities. Since my husband and I are brand-spanking new to the parish, we'll never know what the "before" rectory looked like, but from the "Ooohs and ahhs" we heard as we passed from one room to the next this "after" rectory is a major improvement. As they say, "Nothing like fresh blood" and the changes wrought by the Vicentian priests Fr. Johnny Zulueta and Fr. Victor Pacheco are being most welcomed, especially by those who care so very much about their parish, the RCIA Team.

Airy and full of light, the rectory is now an inviting and beautiful place with a peaceful aura. A gently burbling fountain in the freshly landscaped courtyard provides soothing sounds. It is an oasis of peace.

We ran into Fr. Pol in the kitchen and he offered us Haas avocados to take home. It reminded me of home in Hawai`i... Then off we went to the Cathedral with Frank skillfully driving through that snarly after work LA traffic. But first, we stopped at http://www.cotters.com/(Cotters), a church supplies store, to pick up the parish's Paschal candle. While there, I was promptly guided to an area with wedding crosses and found one that will be perfect for our convalidation. Thank you, Holy Spirit!

At Philippe's: PP's husband and the RCIA Team: Estella, Cecelia, Frank, Curie, Mila & Rudy

Then we stopped for nourishment at http://www.philippes.com/(Philippe's) with the agreement that next year, it will be http://www.laweekly.com/ink/99/34/dining-amdur.php(The Original Pantry), Rudy's and Frank's choice. We had a taste of old LA and Philippe's legendary French Dip Roast Beef sandwiches with juicy dill pickle slices, accompanied with coleslaw and macaroni salad, and topped off with huge slices of good old-fashioned apple pie.

We made it to the Cathedral with ample time and were able to get choice aisle seating. This is our fourth visit to the Cathedral within the year. It is beginning to feel very familiar and I discover nuances that I had not noticed before. I especially enjoyed being flanked by the tapestries of the Communion of Saints by artist John Nava with 135 over life-size saints from throughout history and from all parts of the world.

Here's our Father Johnny!

Then the Chrism Mass presided by Cardinal Mahony began. As the priests processed in, we waved to our bishop, Bishop Alexander Salazar, and our priests, Father Johnny, Father Victor, and Father Pol, and they waved back. Mila, who has come to know many priests over the years and is dearly beloved by them, was on Cloud 9 to see them process right by her and whenever she reacted with glee, I snapped a photo in that direction. She knows a LOT of priests!

And Father Victor and Father Pol

Here is a description of the Mass from the Cathedral's website:

"The annual Chrism Mass for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will take place on Monday, March 21, at 7:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend.

At the Chrism Mass, Cardinal Mahony will consecrate the holy chrism and bless the oil of the catechumens and the oil of the sick, which will then be distributed throughout the Archdiocese.

The holy chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balsam perfume from the middle east, and is used in the anointing of the newly baptized, to seal the candidates for confirmation, to anoint the hands of presbyters and the heads of bishops at their ordination, as well as in the rites of anointing pertaining to the dedication of churches and altars. The oil of the catechumens is used in the preparation of the catechumens for their baptism. The oil of the sick is used to bring comfort and support to the sick in their infirmity.

The Priests of the archdiocese are brought together and concelebrate this Mass as witnesses and cooperators with their bishop in the consecration of the chrism, demonstrating the unity of the priesthood with their bishop in his role in building up and sanctifying the people of God."

We saw for ourselves why our RCIA team member Phil raved about it and why our friend Kathy says that this is her most favorite Mass of the year. It is holy, holy, holy! Over a thousand priests and the bishops of the diocese converge here to renew their vows and to bless the oils. It was breathtaking to see them process in. It brought tears to my eyes. These are God's apostles, true servants of Our Lord, venerators of Mary, Our Mother, each here through an unbroken apostolic succession. Each has been individually called by God to renounce their worldly lives, consecrate their lives, and is now married to the Church, which is not a building, but its parishioners who are the Body of Christ.

An interesting thing happened as they processed in. A kind-faced priest caught my eye and came to me and asked me to pray for him. I said I would (and I did). I asked him if I might take a picture of him and it turns out to be the best of the bunch:

Father Daly of Holy Trinity Church

We saw the bottles filled with perfumed olive oil, carried by the youth of the church, pass us by on the way to their blessing. Among those bottles were the bottles containing the very oil that we will be anointed with on Saturday. We were witnesses to that oils' blessing:

After the Mass, we went up to the choir loft to surprise our dear friend Kathy, a member of the Cathedral Choir. She was not expecting us to be there. Kathy is a very special lady, who is our friend and my husband's former department secretary; she gave each of us http://www.ihomm.org/grnscp.html(green scapulars) blessed by Pope John Paul II when he visited Los Angeles back in 1987. They are gifts for cures and conversions. So they took all those years to "take" -- but convert us, they did, in God's Time. She'll be at our baptisms this Saturday.

Our favorite songstress, Kathy, a member of the Cathedral Choir

Before we left, we stopped by the baptismal font. The tapestry with Mother Mary on it (first one to the left as you face the altar); my second favorite is the tapestry of Jesus being baptized is my favorite. We then hurried out to join our group.

The Baptism Tapestry

In that huge crowd of priests and laity, who do I run into? The kind-faced priest who asked me to pray for him. We got to chat a bit. His name is Father Daly and his parish is the Holy Trinity. I detected an Irish accent, and showing him the Claddagh ring that I wear, he was delighted. He was even more delighted when we told him that we were to be baptized this weekend. I'm sure God has His reasons for our connection and I will pray for Father Daly.

Being invited to be in the company of all of these priests has especial significance for me, as I was to learn after my return from Medjugorje that one of the reasons Mother Mary invited me there is so I would pray for the priests. http://peacepilgrim.fotopages.com/?entry=249835(See previous post). When Rudy invited us to join them, I knew that he did not know this, but the Holy Spirit did and made sure I would be there. Last night, my resolve to keep praying with a grateful heart for all the priests, deacons and religious during our nightly Rosary and to keep remembering them with special love was made stronger. We will pray for those who have gone astray be brought back to the fold, those who are hurt or ill be healed, and those who are stressed-overwhelmed-or suffering from old age, weakness, mental instability, or the stresses of caregiving be held up, strengthened, loved, supported, and comforted.

Thank you, Rudy and Mila, and the RCIA Team for remembering us. This was an awe-inspiring experience. Thank you, Lord, for inviting us to Your Supper. We look forward to this Saturday when we will be able to partake of It.

(from the prayer booklet, THE PIETA)

"One should NEVER attack a priest, even when he's in error, rather one should pray and do penance that I'll grant him My grace again. He alone fully represents Me, even when he doesn't live after My example!" (page 29, Mutter Vogel's Worldwide Love, St. Grignion Publishing House, Altoting, South Germany (29. 6. 1929)).

When a Priest falls we should extend him a helping hand THROUGH PRAYER AND NOT THROUGH ATTACKS! "I myself will be his judge, NO ONE BUT I!" "Whoever voices judgment over a priest has voiced it over Me; child, never let a Priest be attacked, take up his defense." (Feast of Christ the King 1937) "Child, Never judge your confessor, rather pray much for him and offer every Thursday, through the hands of My blessed Mother, Holy Communion (for Him) (18.6. 1939); "Never again accept an out-of-the-way word about a Priest, and speak no unkind word (about them) EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE! Every Priest is My Vicar and My heart will be sickened and insulted because of it! If you hear a judgment (against a Priest) pray a Hail Mary." (28. 6. 1939)

"If you see a Priest who celebrates the Holy Mass unworthily then say nothing about him, rather tell it to Me alone! I stand beside him on the altar!" "Oh pray much for My priests, that they'll love purity above all, that they'll celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with pure hands and heart. Certainly the Holy Sacrifice is one and the same even when it is celebrated by an unworthy priest, but the graces called down upon the people is not the same!" (28. 2. 1938)

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