The celebration of the Eucharist at St. Philomena’s was something I planned to attend last night when I retired to bed. This morning at 6:30 I was thinking of excuses not to attend and to stay between the flannel sheets. The spirit moved me out of bed at 6:40 and after an abbreviated yoga routine I got ready to walk the one mile from our home to the church. Once I was out of the house and walking down the hill I was grateful to be up and moving at a time when most of our village is still not quite awake. The air was still, the sky was blue and I was grateful to be up and out. Fifteen minutes later I arrived at St. Philomena R.C. Church. Mass today was in the chapel. There were four other people plus Fr. Marino in attendance. I actually arrived in the middle of the first reading. I love the little chapel. It is such and intimate setting for what is really a celebration of the Lord’s Supper or Passover Seder which took place in a dining room not in a synagogue.
Following Mass I continued my walk down Plymouth Avenue to Main Street and throughout the village for a total of over five miles. Walking can be a contemplative exercise and I like to think that my walks are just that. I’m grateful to be alive and able to walk about and enjoy the sights and sounds of life in a small village and one that has been my home for over thirty-five years.
Today is the feast of All Saints. This morning’s walk to St. Philomena’s was more arduous than normal as I had to lean into a twenty mile an hour headwind. Following the twenty minute walk from my home to the church I was greeted by Fr. Robert Marino. Along with Fr. Marino I spotted many friends and others I have not met yet. One thing that impressed me was the number of congregation this morning. Here at 9:00 am in a small village in the foothills of the Alleganies were nearly one-hundred of the faithful. The altar was adorned with the fruits of the harvest and included several pumpkins. I have been attending Mass at St. Philomena’s occasionally for the last thirty-five years and never have I seen such beauty. The parish is growing and that’s palpable. There can be no doubt that Fr. Marino has captured the imagination of the community. Fr. Marino’s homily was a story of his own grandmother and the role she played in his vocation as a priest but more than that her embodiment of what it means to be a saint. His homily reminded me of a quote from Mother Teresa, ““Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Today I began my day at St. Philomena’s Roman Catholic Church. As a young boy I attended daily Mass, often serving as an altar boy. Yesterday I met Fr. Robert Marino, Pastor of St. Philomena’s and he told me that Mass on Wednesday would be at 9:00 am followed by Adoration of the Eucharist. As I entered the chapel at St. Philomena’s this morning I was moved by the ambience. Here a simple chapel adorned by a few statues, one of them of St. Anthony and the Child Jesus. A painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe and behind the altar, the San Damiano Cross. There was decidedly Franciscan tone. The chapel was warm and inviting and there were four ladies who welcomed me as I entered. Mass began promptly at 9:00 am and I was treated to an intimate experience of the Eucharist. Fr. Marino introduced me to the others in attendance and that made me feel welcome too. Following the Mass, Fr. Marino prepared the monstrance for adoration, placed it on the altar and we sang Pange Lingua. As we sat in the quiet and presence of the Eucharist I reflected on my good fortune to be part of this community. Peace.