Mercy in Manhattan

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Last Sunday the holy doors at the Church of the Precious Blood opened to welcome all pilgrims for the year of mercy. Here are a few notes from one of the Regnum Christi missionaries documenting that grace filled day:

I am back from the mission. What an awesome day! It started slow but it picked up momentum when Mass started. The Church was packed for the 12:45 Mass – standing room only! The Bishop celebrated Mass, and 8 LCs con-celebrated. They had a children’s choir, in addition to the regular choir. Such angelic voices!

There were 60+ LC Brothers and Novices, accompanied by 3 priests who came from Cheshire. Fr Jason and Fr Donal gave a meditation to the missionaries. Very moving, inspirational talks. It was so much fun to work with the young Brothers! Incredible smiling faces – a sea of black suits! They sang before they left this evening and their voices reduced me to tears! They sang “Alma Redemptoris Mater”. It was their goodnight song.

The opening of the Holy Doors was a new experience for me! I love all Catholic Church rituals and ceremonies! And the presepio!!!! Wow! They are incredible! You can spend hours looking at the figures and meditate on them. The theme being Mercy, you see figures depicting humans needing mercy. There is a leper, a murderer, prostitutes, immigrants, poor farmers and fishmongers, etc. Anna was with me the whole time. She was very brave in standing in front of OSP! Gianna came with her family as well and all three of us took advantage of the Legionaries and went for a good confession.

For now I need to put my feet up as I have been on my feet since 9AM. No complaints! I really feel so energized by the Brothers. Their enthusiasm, their joy, their energy was so infectious! They could not wait to get into the streets! They came back with stories of people ignoring them, some impolite reactions, and many others they will not repeat. But they were undeterred. I quoted Anna who simply said, ” today I am only a little donkey carrying Jesus to the world”. Such a true, humble expression of our true role! The Brothers gave testimonies of times of panic as they talked with some folks, and how they called on the Holy Spirit at the street corners, finding the courage they need, and the right words to say. The graces I felt just listening to them will hold me up for a long time, and I know it will pull me up when I am down! Marie and I kept giving each other knowing looks as the Brothers gave their testimonies. I know Fr Simon’s blogs for the next several weeks, maybe months, will be about the miracles we witnessed today. Msgr Sakano said he knows he will hear the buzz in the community for months!

And…one last story….one team of Brothers found a homeless woman who was hungry and in need of a place to stay tonight. She was relatively young, tall, thin, intelligent. They invited her in to the OSP Youth center where we were and served her some of the dinner for the missionaries. They sought my help to find her a place to stay. I was stumped. I didn’t know where to send her. Fr Jason went to the Parish Center and looked for someone who knew more about NYC’s programs for the homeless. They found her a shelter nearby! I wish you saw how the two Brothers and Karen (RC member from the Jersey shore) ministered to her, before they themselves had any bite to eat! They treated her like she was a long lost cousin…with dignity, love, and respect.

It was a beautiful day, a beautiful night. The rain that threatened us as we processed to the Church of the Most Precious Blood disappeared. The sun came in and out, as if teasing the missionaries, playing hide and seek. In the end, that playful sun warmed us up, erasing from memory another advent mission three years ago when we had to persevere through an early winter blizzard. It is our God who does that! Never running out of surprises!



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Processed with VSCO with e7 preset

New York’s oldest Catholic church, the Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral, built in 1808, has been under renovation for over a year. It will be open again tomorrow.

The slow process of renovation has taught me an important lesson about waiting. I would have liked the renovations to be finished immediately, just like I expect my internet, email, airplane, and everything else to happen: Without delay.

So when I saw the lonely statue of St John looking upwards in expectation, and the empty chair oddly placed in the sanctuary, it reminded me that patience is the most important catalyst to real change. Deliberate, consistent, achievable goals that are reached each day, and little by little add up to something great.

A cathedral isn’t renovated in a day. A saint isn’t made in a day either. It happens slowly, patiently, brick by brick, virtue by virtue, done with love.

Back at It


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Processed with VSCO with f3 preset

Well, I was inspired to begin this little blog again.

Life has surprising twists and turns. Around one of them a few years back I got busy and forgot about this little photo-journal of mine, my first foray into the social media world. But even if forgotten it has always been there, in the back of my mind, as an untapped artistic outlet, whose potential I could one day begin to mine at my leisure.

So perhaps it is the melancholic rainy day today; perhaps it is the sudden inspiration to write a little more commentary with the many photos that I’ve taken; maybe it is the hope that rebooting this blog will inspire my good friend Dr. James Stone to reboot his blog and start offering insightful commentary over at Biltrix again. Regardless of why, I trust it is the Holy Spirit behind it all, and I look forward to posting here every once in a while, when inspired.

Voice of Creation

“Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them.” Psalm 69:34
“Only the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, is capable of raising a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Creator. The earth, with all its creatures, and the entire universe call on man to be their voice.” John Paul II, San Antonio, Texas, 1987

Seeing It Again for the First Time

“I live by faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” Gal. 2:20

I love how black and white can give an ordinary photo a different power of expression; something that we’re used to seeing in color is suddenly seen differently. I found that to be true with this picture I took of Jesus on the cross in our chapel. I see it daily but putting it in black and white helped me to see it again for the first time. Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Jesus, thank you for helping me carry my own cross. Jesus, help me never to grow accustomed to what you did for me.


Theophany: an unambiguous manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses.

Certainly a sunset is not a theophany in the strict sense of the word, as it’s not a direct manifestation of God himself. However, we can ask ourselves, what is it about a sunset that triggers delight in most people? Why do we feel the urge to grab a camera and capture the moment? Is there a trait that is found in the object of a sunset itself? There is indeed something about beauty that triggers awe, wonder, mystery, splendor, and delight–as would, I think, a direct manifestation of God. Perhaps a sunset is one of God’s ways of reaching out to us through the senses.

Launch into the Deep

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”–Luke 5:4

I’m a real sucker for a good silhouette and love how this shot turned out. So much of life is boldly charging into the unknown, like these two surfers, while entrusting ourselves with faith to the Lord, recalling that he is with us always, until the end of time. The two surfers are priests who have launched themselves into the deep to follow the Lord–perhaps that’s why they seem so eager to embrace the waves.

Austere Beauty

And Mary pondered all of these things in her heart.

I found this statue of Mary this morning in the back yard of Saint Peter and Paul church, Mt. Vernon, New York. I love the austere and simple beauty of the worn statue with the blue and white stucco background. Perhaps it was my displeasure with some of the twists and turns of life, but this image brought me consolation, reminding me that God is with us even when things are rough.