Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wintery Cold and Beautiful Catholic Churches

As it turns out we spent the week between Christmas and New Year in Norway Illinois about 90 minutes southwest of ChicagoNorway is a little town settled by Norwegian folks way back when., probably the early 1800's...I didn't really pay much attention to this little bit of information. Anyway it is a little country town, with a gas station, grocery store, restaurant and no stoplight. 

Our road trip going was about 6 hours from our location in Indy.  The last 2 1/2 hours was spent driving in the snow and by the time we reached our resort destination it was after dark and there was a good 6 inches or more of snow on the ground.  We unloaded our car, fixed the dinner we had brought from home, showered and settled in for the evening. Before retiring for the night we phoned St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Earlville  for the Sunday Mass schedule and decided upon the 10:30 A.M. Mass.

After waking on Sunday morning to more snow; we ate breakfast, did our morning prayers, got ready for Church (by this time it was in single digit temperatures) and cleared the car of snow.  When we headed out on the country roads it was not too bad but by the time we had traveled 3 miles of the 20 mile trip  we began to re-evaluate the situation.  We were traveling on unfamiliar roads, the wind was causing the snow to drift and even though it appeared snow plows had been by we really could not tell very well where the road ended and the fields began.  We decided we should not risk ending up stuck a in ditch. Disheartened that we would miss Mass we turned around and headed back to the condo.

For the remainder of Sunday and again on Monday we caught up on reading  and relaxation. Tuesday was the day we were really looking forward to.  We woke up at 2:00 A.M. to get ready for our 90 minute trip into Chicago for the 6:00 A.M. Mass, Extraordinary Form followed by the Novus Ordo and Morning Prayer at St. John Cantius Church

The Church is of Polish origin and is one of those parishes near closure due to parishioners moving to the suburbs.  It is now operated by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius whose main charism is to bring about the sacred, in the celebration of the liturgy, devotion and in education. It has been completely renovated and is gorgeous! It is home to six or so priests and probably 30 or so seminarians. The Novus Ordo Mass was celebrated with the altar facing away from the people and in the Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc in Latin. Morning Prayer was chanted.  The whole morning was such a beautifully awesome experience.  We stayed for Midday prayer and then reluctantly began our return trip home.

St. John Cantius has what is called St. Monica's Sodality for those of us who mourn for our family who have lapsed from the Faith.  The following is a remark from Shirley Cichy, a member of the St. Monica Sodality.  “It’s unbelievable when you stop and realize that we probably have more fallen away Catholics than active Catholics. The Catholic culture in the United States has literally fallen apart before my eyes and there just hasn’t been much real progress and reversing of the process. And so we’re going to storm heaven! We’re going pray our people back. Catholics must stop weeping by themselves and start praying together to bring our people back. We have a straightforward program of prayer and penance for people to follow and by banding together we can draw strength and hope from each other. People must realize that they are not alone in this crisis.” Membership into St. Monica's Sodality is available online.


The following day we again woke early this time to be at Marytown for the 7:00 A.M. Mass.  Marytown is located in Libertyville, IL just north of Chicago.  It is the home of the Conventual Franciscan Friars of Marytown and National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  There is a retreat center and gift shop at the Shrine.  While we were there a young adult retreat was being conducted by the Franciscans.


The remainder of our time in Norway was spent just relaxing and catching up on reading.  However the real treat for us was totally unexpected.  We attended the Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God at St. Theresa of Avila in Earlville.  This is a very quaint little country church with a very holy priest, who celebrated a delightfully reverent Mass.  Jesus is good!

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