Holy Mass – LIVE From the Milk Grotto

Have you ever heard of the Milk Grotto?
Well, I sure hadn’t, until last year.  The Milk Grotto (officially Magharet Sitti Mariam, “Grotto of the Lady Mary”) is a peaceful grotto located just a few minutes away from Bethlehem’s Manger Square.

According to tradition, the Holy Family took refuge in the Milk Grotto during Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents, before their flight into Egypt.  There in the grotto, Mary nursed the newborn Jesus; and while she was nursing, a drop of milk fell to the ground—immediately turning the rock white.

The grotto has been a holy site for both Christians and Muslims, who believe that scrapings from the soft white stones in the grotto can boost the quantity of a mother’s milk and enhance fertility.  The custom is for nursing mothers to mix the shavings into their drinking water.  Expectant mothers place the rock shavings under their mattress.

During the fifth century, a church was built on the site of the Milk Grotto; and mosaic fragments from that period depicting geometrical motifs and crosses can still be seen today.  More recently, the Franciscans have built a chapel over the Milk Grotto.

From November 28 through the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), the Franciscans broadcast Mass from the Milk Grotto live each day at this website.  Catch the Mass live at 8:30 Rome time. (Ugh! I think that’s 2:30 a.m. Eastern Time, here in the U.S.)

World Series Fans: Did You Know There’s a Catholic Mass at Comerica Park?


Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers

For Major League players, weekends are devoted to baseball—and it can be pretty difficult for a Catholic athlete to find time to attend Sunday Mass.

But at Detroit’s Comerica Park, the athletes, stadium employees and journalists can attend Mass each weekend the Tigers play on the home field.  That’s because Comerica Park is one of 19 stadiums around the country to offer a Sunday liturgy.

Father Ron Richards, pastor of St. John Neumann parish in Canton, Michigan, first proposed the idea of a private liturgy to Comerica Park officials; and he was subsequently named the team’s Catholic chaplain.  As chaplain, Father Richards celebrates Mass a few hours before game time, in a lower-floor room which is often used for media interviews.  He is also available for confessions.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

The services at Comerica started after Richards contacted Catholic Athletes for Christ last year; the group was created after the late Pope John Paul II’s “call to evangelize the world of sports,” it says.

After getting the OK from Comerica Park officials, Richards started the services during the first home stand and became the Catholic chaplain of the stadium, available for services like confessions. The mass is not open to fans; the stadium has had a nondenominational service on Sundays.

A lifelong Tigers fan, Richards used to be a swim coach at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills.

“I never thought I’d be the chaplain of the Tigers,” Richards said. “Having this is sort of a grace I’ve been given, that’s really cool.”

Read the rest here.

Pope John Paul II encouraged priests and others to bring the New Evangelization to the world of sports.  Speaking on the occasion of the Jubilee of Sports on October 29, 2000, the Pope said:

“It is a fitting occasion to give thanks to God for the gift of sport, in which the human person exercises his body, intellect and will, recognizing these abilities as so many gifts of his Creator.

“Playing sports has become very important today, since it can encourage young people to develop important values such as loyalty, perseverance, friendship, sharing and solidarity.

“Sports, in fact, can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love.

“Sports contribute to the love of life, teaches sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to the full development of every human person.

“Every Christian is called to become a strong athlete of Christ, that is, a faithful and courageous witness to his Gospel. But to succeed in this, he must persevere in prayer, be trained in virtue and follow the divine Master in everything.

“Lord Jesus Christ, help these athletes to be your friends and witnesses to your love. Help them to put the same effort into personal asceticism that they do into sports; help them to achieve a harmonious and cohesive unity of body and soul.

“May they be sound models to imitate for all who admire them. Help them always to be athletes of the spirit, to win your inestimable prize: an imperishable crown that lasts forever.”

SUFFER (because) THE LITTLE CHILDREN (don’t want) TO COME UNTO ME: When Children Aren't Charming in Church

IF YOU’RE A PARENT, you know it can happen.  Your chubby little Chad can be simply angelic, smiling and blowing kisses all through breakfast, but morph into “Chucky” just as the homily begins.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE CHILDREN OF YOUR OWN, you sigh in exasperation when the toddler in the pew in front of you cavorts in the aisle, peers into purses and loudly demands donuts while tossing his toys in the air.

Sometimes, small children just can’t sit still in church, regardless of the careful parental planning that went into (a) hunger avoidance, (b) interesting “church toys” and (c) naptime schedule.

Understanding that there is no guarantee of success, especially with younger children,  there are steps you can take to make Sunday worship a better experience for your children, for yourself, and for those seated near you. 

FOR INFANTS

The smallest members of the church community just can’t understand the need for quiet—and they’re the likely winners, should they decide to compete with Father for attention.  

Head off little Heather’s tantrum by anticipating her needs—a full tummy, a dry bottom, a nap in Mommy’s arms, a pacifier, a bottle, and maybe a quiet toy for a teething baby to chew.  A breastfeeding baby is easily satisfied, since you are exactly what she needs to comfort herself.   If all else fails, though, and you find yourself unable to calm a screaming infant, please make a hasty exit to allow others to pray without distraction.

FOR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS

Two- and three-year-olds pose a special challenge:  They like noisy toys (like metal cars and talking dolls) and crunchy snacks (like cheerios, which can drop all over the pew and floor). And they say whatever they’re thinking at the most inopportune times. 

Parents can override their primal urges by keeping a special stash of cloth books (guaranteed not to create an echo if thrown against the pew), plush stuffed animals, a soft plastic Bible storybook.  Puffy Bible story sets, like Noah’s ark, are ideal! 

It’s only an hour—so your toddler should be able to wait for food if he’s eaten before Mass.  Just in case, you may want to pack a neat, quiet snack—something that won’t spill, won’t cause choking, and won’t leave sticky smudges behind.  It’s not typical toddler fare, but a granola bar might just fit the bill!

One note:  I don’t remember ever, when my children were young, seeing the little toddler Mass kits that are available now in stores, but they are a wonderful way to prepare before going to Mass.  Mom and Dad can use the kit to explain the Mass, to teach simple prayers, and to explain the importance of courtesy rules while in church.  From earliest ages, children can begin to understand that the church is God’s house, and they must be respectful.

 

FOR YOUNG SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN

By the age of five, a child has probably developed the impulse control to sit quietly for most of the liturgy.  Courtesy rules can be enforced at this age, and appropriate discipline applied when rules are broken.  That doesn’t mean, though, that parents’ work is done.  The job of teaching about the Mass and about prayer will continue for many years—and during the early school years, parents teach best by example. 

FOR TEENS

Thought it was all over by the time your children hit high school, right?  We’ve all heard stories about kids who just stopped at church to pick up a weekly bulletin, before heading out for a morning with their friends.  If you want the Mass to be important to your child, then make sure it’s important to you—go with him, don’t just drop him off.  It’s all too common today for people who call themselves “Catholic” to dispense with the requirement for weekly Mass attendance.  The Church does not dispense with the requirement, however; and unless you have a very good reason (you’re sick, or you have to work), skipping Mass is considered a grave offense against God.  Even that old “I’m working” excuse is pretty hard to justify, since there are Masses on Saturday evening, early Sunday morning, midday Sunday, and even Sunday evening—and chances are you’re available for one or more of those times.  Be there!