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Hey, Father! What can you say about people who leave Mass after the final blessing, but before the priest processes down the aisle and into the vestibule?
Phil in Maryville 

On one level, the Mass has technically ended. So, on one level, it is good that people are at least waiting for the final blessing to be over. It is better than leaving even earlier. With that being said, the priest processing out and everyone singing the recessional hymn is part of the Mass, at least in a loose and practical sense.  

I guess the question is: What is the reason people are leaving at that point? Are they really in that much of a hurry? If someone is legitimately in a hurry, then I think it is fine. I am thinking particularly of someone attending a daily Mass but having work shortly after. That seems to be a good reason. However, if someone simply just wants to leave earlier for the sake of being done earlier, to get out of the parking lot earlier, to go eat, etc., then I don’t think that is a good reason. 

As Catholics, we try to be united to each other during the Mass. It sort of kills the familial or unitive spirit to rush out of Mass. As Catholics, we are part of a family. There hopefully is some sort of interaction with our fellow Catholics. Even apart from the socializing, when people leave something early, one gets the impression that the person has something better to do or doesn’t want to be there. On a practical note, is there honestly that much time being saved by leaving before the priest processes out? 

Another relevant point: Many, if not most of us receive the Eucharist. We truly receive His entire person into our body and soul. Not just His body and blood, but also His soul and divinity. Nothing is more remarkable than that. The grace we receive can forever change us. However, there is a particular window of time where Jesus is fully present to us in the Eucharist. Once the Eucharist becomes digested enough, Jesus is not fully present to us in the Eucharist, although He and His grace do still remain in our souls. For that reason, it is important we are really focused on praying and staying with Jesus after receiving Him in the Eucharist. There isn’t an exact amount of time we can say Jesus remains intact in our bodies, but many recommend 10 to 15 minutes. St. Josemaria Escriva said, “Surely you have nothing so important that you cannot give Our Lord 10 minutes to say thanks. Love is repaid with love.”

To put it simply, we should wait until the priest processes out, pray a prayer of thanksgiving for at least a couple of minutes, then leave the church and socialize with others.

Father Michael Trummer is parochial vicar at Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Thomas the Apostle in Decatur and chaplain at St. Teresa High School and associate chaplain at Millikin University.

11 28 2021 St. Elizabeth 150th tri panelThe 150-year history of St. Elizabeth Parish spans three churches and two cities.By ANDREW HANSEN  

GRANITE CITY — Three separate churches, two different cities, one parish. St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Granite City has a rich history in our diocese, and this year marks their 150th anniversary. 

The parish began with farm families that lived in the area in what is now Madison County. About 20 families gathered in a house in 1870 for the first Mass. Seeing the need for a church, one was constructed in Mitchell for $4,900 with the cornerstone laid on Oct. 7, 1871, the Feast of the Holy Rosary. 

Fast forward to the 1950s and with the church overcrowding and rapid growth in Granite City and the surrounding area, a parish relocation was necessary. In 1952, Bishop William O'Connor appointed Father Lawrence Mattingly for the task of relocation, but the relocation wouldn’t be right away, and the project would be more than just the church. 

The first project, at a cost of $167,098, was the construction of a school, which opened in 1955. It had 125 students and a teaching staff of four Sisters of Divine Providence.

“The Sisters of Divine Providence were a driving force for our school that started in 1955, and their presence today, although in different roles, still reminds us of our history and how it began and of their dedication to education and to our families,” said Tammi Mooshegian, a longtime parishioner.

In 1957, a residence across the street from the school was purchased to be used as the rectory and the parish office. Then in 1959, the second phase of the expansion was started. A cafeteria and temporary church later to be used as an auditorium was built. From 1953 to 1962, both facilities in Mitchell and Granite City were being maintained. The last Mass at the old Mitchell church was celebrated on Nov. 11, 1962. The first Mass in the new “temporary” church, which was connected to the school, was celebrated the following Sunday. 

Eight more classrooms were added to the school in 1963 and a convent was built. From a parish of 20 families in 1871, it grew to more than 700 families in 1971 and had hundreds of students in the school. With continued growth over the next three decades, St. Elizabeth needed a bigger, new church. 

In 1996, the parish began working toward building a church to replace the “temporary” church. After much hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and faith of the St. Elizabeth parishioners, the current church was completed in 2002 at a cost of $2.3 million. 

11 28 2021 St. Elizabeth 150th apostolic blessingFather Alfred Tumwesigye (left) and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki hold a document sent by the Holy See to St. Elizabeth Parish that says imparts an Apostolic Blessing to the parish from Pope Francis. Bishop Paprocki celebrated Mass in honor of the parish’s 150th year on Nov. 13. Photo by Bret Ware“We're a family that has so many familiar faces with never ending connections,” said Michele Stabinsky, a parishioner who can trace her family back to the origins of the parish. “There are those that knew my grandparents, my mom, and now my family. There is a true sense of belonging.” 

In all, 27 priests have served St. Elizabeth over the last 150 years as missionaries, administrators, or pastors and on Nov. 13 this year, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki joined Father Alfred Tumwesigye, the current pastor, and parishioners of the parish in celebrating the 150th anniversary with Mass and a dinner reception afterward. When parishioners reflect on what they love about their parish, a common theme is the people.

“Our Pastoral Team, volunteers and organizations really care about this parish and put their heart and soul into seeing that St. Elizabeth remains a vibrant, religious, and growing community,” said Jackie Jones, the parish bookkeeper. 

“Faith-filled and faithful people working together to accomplish the many tasks it takes to keep the parish thriving for 150 years and on into the future,” said Cathy Cassy, the parish’s director of music.

“I love all the people over all the years of my life that have been at church with me,” said Frieda Hicks, a longtime parishioner who turned 103 years old on Nov. 20. “It is always good when I go.”

Thanks to Bret Ware, parish secretary, who compiled the church history. 

11 28 2021 St. Pat Grafton 150th first communionBy MARTHA CAREY 
Special to Catholic Times  

GRAFTON — In Grafton, a small river city that is located at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, you will find St. Patrick Church. The arrival of Jacques Marquette, SJ (sometimes known as Pere) and his fellow explorers to the area in 1673 is significant to the town of Grafton and the Catholic community there: To the town because it marked the first recorded appearance of anyone in the Illinois territory. To the church because these men were Catholics, one of them, Marquette, a Jesuit missionary priest.

On Dec. 8, 2021, St Patrick Church will turn 150 years old, their Sesquicentennial Jubilee. "Anytime a parish reaches its 150th anniversary, it is quite a cause for celebration, especially St. Patrick's Parish,” said Father Marty Smith, pastor. “This is because despite the fact that St. Patrick's was built just a few hundred feet from the Illinois River and has been flooded a few times in its history, the original church building still stands. That to me is a metaphor of the invisible grace and presence of God, and of the faith of the people of St. Patrick's Church throughout its history. 

“The church is beautiful, and the parish has loving, humble, hardworking, and faith-filled people who continue to celebrate and live by example their devotion to God and their Catholic faith, despite the storms and floods, spiritual and physical, encountered in life. I am humbled and very blessed to be assigned there.” 

Father Louis Hennepin, another priest explorer was very likely among the next group of men to arrive in the Grafton vicinity. Many years went by before the recorded appearance of the next Catholic priest in Grafton. Father Verreydt, SJ, in 1838 had Grafton as his mission, but it was not until the quarries came into prominence about the year 1856 that we find evidence of a Catholic community in Grafton. In the years following, Father Carroll celebrated Mass in the school while Bishop Henry Damian Juncker, head of then-Alton Diocese, conducted meetings in the Methodist church.

11 28 2021 St. Pat Grafton 150th spireIn 1871, the Catholic community decided to build a church. Before work could begin, a hurdle had to be overcome, and that was the location of the church. The Irish living in lower Grafton wanted the church located there, and the Germans living in upper Grafton wanted the church to be built in their area. A happy compromise was reached when it was decided to build the church in the upper part of town, for the sake of the Germans and name it St. Patrick in honor of the Irish.

On Dec. 8, 1871, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Catholics attended the first Mass in their church. The church cost $5,000 to build. This same building, with some alterations, still serves the community today. 

“I have a unique perspective of St. Patrick’s Church, as I am a life-long member and a lifelong neighbor,” said Karen Kinder, the parish sacristan. “Every morning I am greeted by the cross atop the steeple. This church and this cross have stood as a reminder to me and so many that with faith all things are possible.” 

To celebrate the Sesquicentennial Jubilee, a celebration will take place Dec. 11. The celebration begins with Mass at 5:45 p.m. followed by festivities including a Christmas light display, a live Nativity, and Christmas carolers. In the parish hall, the history of the church will be presented by Margret Ann Voke. The parish council has also been working on commemorative items including Christmas ornaments and holy cards. The parish has also received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis. 

Martha Carey is a parishioner at St. Patrick and says that she is “honored and blessed to be a part of such a wonderful parish and to have raised my family in the rich traditions of the Catholic faith here. It is truly one of my favorite places on earth.”

History taken from 




Monday, 22 November 2021 15:15

Ten ways to make your Advent more joyful

GettyImages 1291247578By FATHER DOMINIC VAHLING 
Special to Catholic Times  

Rejoice! This word echoes throughout our churches and in our hearts as we sing the Advent song, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Follow these 10 tips for a more joyful Advent. 

  1. Don’t miss the season — Stores and radio stations have been playing Christmas music since Nov. 26, but Advent should not be skipped. Advent increases our desire and longing for the coming of the Savior. 
  2. Listen to Advent music — We have a rich tradition of Advent hymnody. Look up songs such as, O, Come Divine Messiah, On Jordan’s Bank, Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, and Hark! A Thrilling Voice is Sounding. You might find a new favorite Advent hymn! 
  3. Light an Advent wreath — Your church probably has one of these in the sanctuary, and your domestic church should too! Lighting the Advent wreath as a family can be a visual reminder of the passing of the four weeks. 
  4. Make a Jesse Tree — The genealogy of Jesus may not be your favorite Christmas Gospel, but it could be. Jesse Trees are a way to learn about Jesus’ family tree, and all the ways in which God’s Providence led Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to Bethlehem. Planning for the first Christmas started a long, long time ago. 
  5. Pray the rosary — Advent may be the most Marian season of the year. Ask Mary to help you prepare for the coming of the Messiah, as she did at that first Christmas. How did she feel when there was no room at the inn? 
  6. Attend Lessons and Carols at the Cathedral —Christians have a great tradition of immersing themselves in Scripture and music in the days before Christmas. Come to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. to hear some angelic voices accompanied by a harp in giving praise to God. 
  7. Make a visitation — Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months while they were both pregnant. Do not allow the hustle and bustle to distract you from the need for quiet visits with grandparents, parents, or friends. 
  8. Attend eucharistic adoration — Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which translates as “House of Bread.” Even in his birth, Jesus was preparing us to approach him under the form of bread. Spending time with Jesus is never a waste. 
  9. Wait in line — The confession line, of course! If not already, you will soon be tired of waiting in line at the store. So, come wait in a better line, which leads to the forgiveness of sins and the peace that only God can give. 
  10. Befriend your guardian angel — Angels announced the coming of the Messiah to Mary and the shepherds. They are God’s messengers. Ask your guardian angel to prepare your heart for Christmas, as their angelic brethren have done for so many others. 

Father Dominic Vahling is parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield and co-chaplain at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield.

advent calendar

11 14 2021 beauty series mattoon wide view


Immaculate Conception Church is an iconic structure in Coles County that dates to 1884 when the cornerstone was laid. At a cost of $50,000, the church in Mattoon was dedicated by Bishop John Spalding of the Diocese of Peoria in 1887, 33 years after Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed Mary’s Immaculate Conception dogmatic Church teaching.

IC2“I believe the beauty of Immaculate Conception is that it is Mary’s church,” said Father John Titus, pastor. “As a parishioner said to me, when you walk in the church, you feel like Our Lady is putting her arms around you. It is named in honor of the Immaculate Conception. The windows and the art focus on Mary and make present Jesus Christ. My favorite thing about Immaculate Conception Church is that it feels like you are home. I am kind of prejudiced as I was born across the street and grew up in Mattoon. This just feels like home base. This is where it all begins.”

Some of that beauty includes the richly colorful depiction of the Last Supper on the front part of the altar, detailed images of the Stations of the Cross, several statues of saints, the striking shrine altar of Mary including a statue of her crushing the serpent, and a bright, white high altar with gold trim that makes Jesus and the tabernacle the central focus. 

Beyond the beauty, the history at Immaculate Conception is also deeply rich. In 1892, the diocese’s own now Venerable Father Augustine Tolton, the nation’s first black priest and a native of Quincy, came here to preach.

“There wouldn’t have been many African Americans in Mattoon at the time,” Father Titus said. “But Father Tolton was well received and many, many people came to see him.”

Father Titus also looks back on another historical moment in the parish, that of Father James Dunne, who after the first World War, died of the Spanish flu.

“He was much loved,” Father Titus said. “He had probably the largest funeral ever to take place in Mattoon. A lot of prayerful folks have been a part of this building.”

The church has seen several physical changes over the decades. A fire in 1890 destroyed practically everything. It is believed however, that what is called the beehive stained-glass window, which is located in the bathroom, survived the fire and is original. After the fire, Mass was held in the old church on Richmond Avenue until a dedication in 1891. Three new bells were cast in St. Louis specifically for the church and named by their benefactors: St. Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Patrick.  

IC3In 1934, the main altar, statues, and Stations of the Cross were refurbished. Then, in preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000, a major renovation occurred. The interior of the church was painted, carpet removed, among other interior changes.

In 2018, a new altar incorporating the Last Supper relief was built by parishioner Henry Unkraut and parish craftsmen. Decorative molding was added to the back and side altars and the side altar reliefs were painted to complement the Stations of the Cross.  In 2019, icons of the Luminous Mysteries, which completed the rosary windows, were written by Sher Lanham and Karen Boshart of Red Shoes Art Studio in Charleston and mounted in the side chapel. 

In 2019, a statue of St. Mother Theodore Guerin (who is buried near Terre Haute, Ind.) was placed in the sanctuary, a gift of parish alumni of St. Mary-of-the Woods College. Then, in 2020, sections of an altar rail were restored on each side of the front of the sanctuary. 

Other treasures inside Immaculate Conception include a solid marble Pieta in the side chapel which came from Italy and is dated 1909. The windows on the back altar are in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Cathedral Church of what was the Diocese of Alton, which then became the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The top part of the St. Peter window was installed in error says Father Titus as it shows an upright cross with an upside-down crown. The prince of the Apostles was crucified on an upside-down cross.

For Father Titus, despite all the physical beauty and rich history at Immaculate Conception Church, what he thinks about the most are the countless numbers of souls who have worshipped here. “The baptisms of the thousands,” Father Titus said. “All the different priests and people who have been present and beginning their journey, right here.”

Monday, 08 November 2021 14:37

Heaven and hell: What is eternity like?

Heaven and Hell web banner

What is eternity like? What are the sights and feelings? Scripture and private revelation help paint that picture

The last four things: death, judgment, heaven (maybe a stop in purgatory along the way), and hell. That is what the Catholic Church teaches. In a culture that continues to write off life after death or paints hell as a picture of “you’ll probably be laughing with friends,” it is paramount that as believers, we always have in mind that what we do on earth, how we live our faith, and how we honor God and His creations has everlasting effects, good or bad. 

The truth is hell is far worse than any of us can imagine. On the other hand, the joys and beauty of heaven are also unimaginable. Despite not knowing fully what heaven and hell will look, feel, or be like, Scripture and private revelation offers us a glimpse, and we are not talking about puffy clouds, harps, or meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates.

In this edition of Catholic Times, we offer you Scripture passages and quotes from saints who had visions or dreams of heaven and hell that can help you better understand, picture, and appreciate what eternity is, and why you must always strive to become a saint. A quick note on private revelation: the Catholic Church says one does not have to believe private revelation. However, the Church also recognizes that private revelation from saints can be a good thing that can help people in their faith journey. 

When reading Scripture and quotes from saints who had dreams or visions, always keep in mind that they should not necessarily be taken literally because as Scripture tells us, “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).  

Heaven — what we do know as revealed to us through the Catholic faith 

First, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states, “Those who die in God's grace and      friendship and are perfectly purified (either here on earth or in purgatory) live forever with Christ. They are like God forever, for they ‘see Him as He is,’ face to face” (CCC 1026).

  • Heaven is union with God. “By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has ‘opened’ heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ” (CCC 1026).
  • We do not become angels in eternity. We will not have our bodies at first, however, at the end of time, our bodies will be reunited with us (Cor. 15 16-18). 
  • Our bodies will become glorified bodies (Phil. 3:21). While we do not know what that will truly look like, our bodies will be perfect.
  • We will retain our own identities. We will not become “someone different.” “To live in heaven is ‘to be with Christ.’ The elect live ‘in Christ, but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name’” (CCC 1025).
  • There is no pain in heaven. None.
  • At the end of the time, all the remaining souls in Purgatory will enter heaven. 
  • Speaking of the end of time, “The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God's justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God's love is stronger than death” (CCC 1040).

God s GraceWhat will heaven look and feel like?  

What Scripture tells us

“He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).  

“For this reason, they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:15-17).

“He (God) will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself” (Phil. 3:21).

“Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22: 1-5).

What saints who had visions of heaven tell us

"Today I was in heaven, in spirit, and I saw its unconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom. This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures.”

St. Faustina 

“As I stood there basking in the splendor of those gardens, I suddenly heard music most sweet — so delightful and enchanting a melody that I could never adequately describe it. A hundred thousand instruments played, each with its own sound, uniquely different from all others, and every possible sound set the air alive with its resonant waves. Blended with them were the songs of choristers. 

“In those gardens, I looked upon a multitude of people enjoying themselves happily, some singing, others playing, but every note, had the effect of a thousand different instruments playing together. At one and the same time, if you can imagine such a thing, one could hear all the notes of the chromatic scale, from the deepest to the highest, yet all in perfect harmony. Ah yes, we have nothing on earth to compare with that symphony.”

St. John Bosco

the Saviour“It is a light which knows no night. Rather, as it is always light, nothing ever disturbs it. In short, no man, however gifted he may be can ever, in the whole course of his life, arrive at any imagination of what it is.”

St. Teresa of Avila

 “I then found myself in heaven with the Blessed Virgin, the angels and the saints. They treated me with great kindness. In their company were my parents. I saw the brilliant throne of the Most Holy Trinity and Jesus Christ in His humanity. There was no sun, no lamp, but everything was bright with light.”

St. Mariam Baouardy

“The good of these souls is beyond what your mind’s eye can see or your ear hear, or your tongue describe, or your heart imagine. What joy they have in seeing me who am all good! What joy they will yet have when their bodies are glorified! But while they do not have this latter good until the general judgment, they do not suffer. They lack no happiness, for the soul is filled, and in this good fullness the body will share.”

St. Catherine of Sienna reported this is what God said to her

Hell — what we do know as revealed to us through the Catholic faith

  • Hell does exist. “Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs” (CCC 1035). Mortal sin is “grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent” (CCC 1857).
  • What is hell? “The state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell’” (CCC 1023). 
  • One cannot get out of hell.
  • God predestines no one to go to hell (CCC 1037).
  • God spoke of hell and of its existence: “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,’ but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven’” (Matt. 7:21).

What will hell look and feel like? 

What Scripture tells us

“A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice, ‘Anyone who worships the beast or its image, or accepts its mark on forehead or hand, will also drink the wine of God’s fury, poured full strength into the cup of his wrath, and will be tormented in burning sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb. The smoke of the fire that torments them will rise forever and ever, and there will be no relief day or night for those who worship the beast or its image or accept the mark of its name’” (Rev. 14: 9-11).

“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth” (Matt 13: 41-42).

“For it is surely just on God’s part to repay with afflictions those who are afflicting you, and to grant rest along with us to you who are undergoing afflictions, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his mighty angels, in blazing fire, inflicting punishment on those who do not acknowledge God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:6-9).

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire” (Mk 9:43).

“And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched’” (Mk 9:48).

What saints who had visions of hell tell us

“The entrance seemed to be by a long narrow pass, like a furnace, very low, dark, and close. The ground seemed to be saturated with water, mere mud, exceedingly foul, sending forth pestilential odors, and covered with loathsome vermin. At the end was a hollow place in the wall, like a closet, and in that I saw myself confined. 

“I felt a fire in my soul. My bodily sufferings were unendurable. I have undergone most painful sufferings in this life, yet all these were as nothing in comparison with what I felt then, especially when I saw that there would be no intermission, nor any end to them.”

St. Teresa of Avila

“As soon as I crossed its threshold, I felt an indescribable terror and dared not take another step. Ahead of me I could see something like an immense cave which gradually disappeared into recesses sunk far into the bowels of the mountains. They were all ablaze, but theirs was not an earthly fire with leaping tongues of flames. The entire cave — walls, ceiling, floor, iron, stones, wood, and coal — everything was a glowing white at temperatures of thousands of degrees. Yet the fire did not incinerate, did not consume. I simply can’t find words to describe the cavern’s horror.”

St. John Bosco

“The kinds of tortures I saw: the first torture that constitutes hell is the loss of God; the second is perpetual remorse of conscience; the third is that one’s condition will never change; the fourth is the fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it — a terrible suffering, since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger; the fifth torture is continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and, despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own; the sixth torture is the constant company of Satan; the seventh torture is horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.

“Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings, related to the manner in which it has sinned. There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me!”

St. Faustina

“God the Father said to me, ‘I tell you, in hell there are four principal torments, and all the others are offspring of these. 

“’The first is that these souls are deprived of seeing me. This is so painful for them that if they could, they would choose the sight of me along with the fire and excruciating torments, rather than the freedom from their pains without seeing me. The first suffering revives the worm of conscience, and this is their second torment. For when they see that their sinfulness has deprived them of me and of the company of the angels and made them worthy instead of seeing the demons and sharing their fellowship, conscience gnaws away at them constantly. 

“’The sight of the devil is their third suffering, and it doubles every other torment. At the sight of me the saints are in constant exaltation, joyfully refreshed in reward for the labors they bore for me with such overflowing love and to their own cost. But it is just the opposite for these wretched little souls. Their only refreshment is the torment of seeing the devil, for in seeing them they know themselves better: that is, they recognize that their sinfulness has made them worthy of him. And so, the worm gnaws on, and the fire of conscience never stops burning.

“’Their suffering is even worse because they see the devil as he really is — more horrible than the human heart can imagine. You will recall that when I once let you see him for a tiny while, hardly a moment, as he really is, you said that you would rather walk on a road of fire even till the final judgment day than see him again. But even with all you have seen you do not know how horrible he really is. For my divine justice makes him look more horrible than still to those who have lost me, and this is in proportion to the depth of their sinfulness.

“’The fourth torment is fire. This fire burns without consuming, for the soul cannot be consumed, since it is not material but spiritual. But in my divine justice I allow my fire to burn these souls mightily, tormenting them without consuming them. And the tremendous pain of this tortuous burning has as many forms as the forms of their sins and is more or less severe in proportion to their sins.’”

St. Catherine of Sienna reported this is what God said to her

“Mary opened her hands once more, as she had done the two previous months. The rays [of light] appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire, we saw the demons and the souls [of the damned]. 

“The latter were like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, having human forms. They were floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke. Now they fell back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fright (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me).

“The demons were distinguished [from the souls of the damned] by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black, and transparent like burning coals. That vision only lasted for a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, who at the first apparition had promised to take us to Heaven. Without that, I think that we would have died of terror and fear.”

Sister Lucia, one of the three visionaries of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 (Church approved Marian apparitions)

Did our Blessed Mother die before she was assumed into Heaven or was she still alive? If she did die, why would God have allowed it since she was the Immaculate Conception?
- Nancy, Springfield

Whether the Blessed Virgin Mary died or simply fell asleep prior to being assumed into Heaven is an open question. In the Latin Catholic Church, tradition has said Mary did die; in the Eastern Catholic Churches, tradition has said she fell asleep and did not die. Either way, we have no solid historical evidence to prove a position. 

When Pope St. Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus in 1950, he avoided the question altogether. Instead of answering the question directly, he chose a sort of middle position, saying, “… that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (no. 44). 

The conclusion of her earthly life may have ended with her death or with her falling asleep; we simply do not know. What is certain, though, is that her earthly life came to an end. Either way, God did “… not allow her to see the corruption of the tomb … ,” which is to say he did not allow her body to decay as our bodies will one day do (Preface of the Mass for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). 

If she did die and was then raised before being assumed into Heaven, God may well have allowed her death because the Blessed Virgin Mary is the exemplar of what each of us is to be. Each of us must die on account of the original sin before we are raised on the last day. If Mary died, it may have been as a sign to us of a holy and peaceful death and as a reminder of the promise of the resurrection. 

Father Daren Zehnle is pastor at St. Augustine Parish in Ashland and is the director for the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. 

Tuesday, 26 October 2021 11:29

Beauty Series: St Rose of Lima – Quincy


St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Quincy has a rare distinction as it was designated a historic landmark by the city in 2000. Known for its impressively large, detailed, and richly colorful stained-glass windows that depict the life of Christ and images of various angels and saints, the church was built by the Irish community of Quincy and dedicated in 1912.

“Spaciously it’s very high,” said Father Joseph Portzer, FSSP, pastor. “In church language, that is lifting of you to God. You walk in and immediately you look up just to see how high it really goes. Then you look around and see amazing stained-glass windows and you can’t help but look at them. I love the stained glass the most. The stained-glass windows are a catechesis because they are so good. Sometimes, I use them for my sermons. Sometimes, they are better than my sermons!” 

6Despite its beauty and landmark designation, the church has not always been available to the faithful over the last 100-plus years. The church closed in 2005 and most of the contents were either moved to other churches or sold. Then, in 2007, then-Bishop George Lucas of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, gave permission to re-open the church for the traditional Latin Mass. It was reopened in 2008 and has been staffed by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. On Jan. 1, 2014, St. Rose of Lima became an official parish of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois under a decree issued by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki.

“The pews are original — for some reason they hadn’t been sold off,” said Father Portzer. “Everything else, they bought it again, and it looks a lot like the old. I think they wanted to make sure everything fit architecturally with what had been here so it’s a deliberate style choice.”

That includes three marble altars, taken from Barat College near Chicago, as well as the matching altar rail and pulpit. The original cross from St. John the Baptist Church in Quincy now hangs in St. Rose of Lima Church. 

5As you walk around the church, your eyes cannot stop looking around as beauty awaits in every corner. If you visit St. Rose, pay special close attention to the stained glass. Besides the beauty, there is rich Catholic symbolism in the scenes depicted. 

“Particularly, I like the scenes over the confessionals,” Father Portzer said. “Over one of the confessionals, we have Mary Magdalene who is down on the floor and using her hair to wipe our Lord’s feet. Jesus has his hand out over her, which is not in the story in the Bible. But it shows absolution. It shows the motion of the priest’s hand giving forgiveness to Mary Magdalene while she is weeping for her sins. It is really a beautiful thing.

“The opposite confessional has perhaps a less clear message, but when you look at it, it has the same message. There is the young woman, age 12, who is dead, and Christ comes to her and says, ‘Young woman, I say to you rise.’ His right hand is up the air. His left hand, he is holding her and bringing her back to life. The right hand is meant to be the hand of absolution, so He is showing a dead person being brought to the spiritual life by the work of the priest.”

3Whether it is statues of saints, the Stations of the Cross, a domed ceiling, the altar, or the stained glass, the elements inside the church come from the Gothic, Romanesque, and Byzantine styles which together make up the style known as Venetian Gothic — making this church one of a kind. 

“There was a man who came here for a blessing for his son who had cancer,” Father Portzer said. “I didn’t realize they were not Catholic. I gave them the blessing, and then I walked them through the church, and they were so fascinated by the church. I walked them all around and explained all the stained-glass windows, and they left. Only later did I hear from one of my parishioners who met up with them and how thrilled they were, how welcomed they felt, and the man said that he would like to come back to the church to just pray sometime. That is the impact this church has on people. It should do that. Every Catholic church should lift us up like that.”  

Box: In the next edition of Catholic Times we will explore Immaculate Conception Church in Mattoon. 

Tuesday, 26 October 2021 11:25

How do I talk to my kids about vocations?

I guess that parents would want a formula on how to talk to their kids about vocations — I’m right with you there! I would like one on how to talk to my parishioners about Jesus — but we do not get one either. And yet, this lack of an easy, pre-canned, downloadable, method seems to be the way with most of the most important things in life. 

As a kid, did you ever get a presentation on how to talk, or how to cook, or how to clean your room? Is there an app that can tell you how to go to school, or get your first job, or how to be a friend? No! These things are just parts of life, and a child naturally learns from Mom or Dad about how to do them. I would watch my mom prepare for dinner, and gradually began to pick up on the different nuances of it. I have never cracked a book to learn those skills, I just saw how to chop vegetables, season meat, and mix up pancakes. I watched my dad grill, or my mom mix something up, and as I helped them, I naturally absorbed how to do all those things myself. 

The same principle applies with vocations! As I learned the faith from my parents, it naturally came up that God loved each of us so much that He had a plan for us. What might that plan look like? Well, it might look like Mom and Dad, or Abraham and Sarah, or Joseph and Mary or St. Gianna Beretta Molla — married, raising a family. Or, it might look like Father Carberry (our pastor), or St. Paul, or St. John Vianney —a priest, caring for his flock. Or, it could be like the Franciscans or Benedictines, something like Moses or Elijah, or St. Francis, or St. Benedict — a monk or friar, devoted to prayer and poverty. Or, it might be like St. Mother Teresa or St. Elizabeth Ann Seton — women religious who were devoted to the poor and teaching young people the faith. 

What is crucial? That the parent engages those topics! Do you cook for your children? Do you invite them to help? Do you answer their questions when they ask them? Do you challenge them to try to make something themselves, or plan one dinner a week, or choose groceries based on a recipe? If you do not, they won’t learn how to cook. That knowledge must come from somewhere. 

This same principle is true in talking about vocations. You do not need a presentation. You do not need to know everything about every vocation. But you do need to tell your kids that God loves them, and you do need to talk about how you knew when God was calling you to marriage. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to pop into church after t-ball practice every once in a while — or pray a family rosary while you drive across town. You do need to give them examples of good married people, and priests, and religious, and invite people living those vocations into your home and into your child’s life. 

There is one silver bullet: Live a holy life, and your children will see that holiness is awesome, and they will find where God has holiness planned for them.

Father Dominic Rankin is Master of Ceremonies and priest secretary for Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, is an associate vocations director for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, and has a license in Theology of Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute in Rome.

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