I can’t imagine that it gets much better than this! I feel like we’ve been bathed in grace for three solid days. As a family, we have been able to celebrate three special days of prayer- each led by Milwaukee’s dynamic, new Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Reverend Donald J. Hying. From the all-night First Friday Eucharistic Vigil, to the closing Mass of the Bl. Pier Giorigio Frassati Day, and culminating in the bus trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help- these three days have been a blessing. I had hoped to write a post each day, but time constraints thwarted that plan. So today, I’ll focus on the First Friday Eucharistic Vigil at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, and Bishop Hying’s Saturday Mass at Holy Hill Basilica, National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. Tomorrow, I hope to post on the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help.
Forty-seven years ago, Fr. Redemptus Short, O.C.D. answered our Lady of Fatima’s call for First Saturday prayer and reparation by instituting the monthly all-night Eucharistic Vigil. Each month Milwaukee area Catholics have gathered in a spirit of reparation to petition Our Lord in Adoration for peace and vocations. The vigil rotates through different parishes within the Milwaukee Archdiocese that are willing to host this grace-filled event. Each vigil opens with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 8 p.m. (usually on the First Fri), followed by Benediction, rosary, procession, informative speakers, confessions, stations of the cross, and ends with the repositioning of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Mass at 5 a.m. on the First Saturday. Most folks are not able to stay for the entire vigil- but Our Lord and Our Lady are never out-done in generosity, and they return a 100-fold blessing on whatever time is freely given.
About two years ago, my eldest son was invited to participate in the vigil by one of the founding families. For many months, each First Friday night, I waited for him to arrive home- usually around 2 a.m. He’d burst through the door, full of zeal, bubbling over with the theology he had just absorbed through several hours of inspiring talks. We would stay up and chat about the beauty of the Mass that he had just been privileged to serve, the rosary, and the Eucharistic procession.
I remember on one occasion, when the vigil was hosted by an East-side Milwaukee Parish, Kenny burst in the door and announced “Mom, you should have seen the jaws the people outside the tavern drop, when our Eucharistic procession passed by! Some people slammed their doors and windows, others just stopped and stared, but we brought the Real Presence of Christ to them. It was awesome!” I recall marveling at God’s grace. Other area moms might also spend Friday night waiting up to the wee hours for their teenage children, but, with gratitude, I realized that most have not been given the privilege to reminisce about the evening in quite the same way that we do. As the months passed, Kenny’s zeal became contagious. Our whole family began to attend the monthly vigil. With our range of ages: 3-50, the 2 a.m. thing was out. However, we do manage to last through the celebration of Holy Mass, Benediction, the Eucharistic Procession, and recitation of the rosary.
Friday’s vigil was the 555 consecutive All Night Vigil of Reparation and Prayer. It was hosted by St. Francis de Sales Seminary, in Christ the King Chapel. The Holy Mass was so beautiful! Bishop Hying spoke eloquently regarding the Four Last Things, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and the Last Judgment. He reminded us about the finite nature of our earthly lives, and the need to prepare to make a good account before Our God, and Judge. November 13, will mark one year since our dear Fr. Redemptus was called home. With his photo near the Fatima Pilgrim statue, I was reminded of how much good one individual can do. Because of this sweet, gentle Carmelite friar’s efforts how many prayers, acts of reparation, rosaries, hours of reparation, sacramental confessions, and Holy Communions had been received! His legacy, and this vigil live on, and we are challenged to perpetuate the grace that began forty-seven years ago, with his first all-night vigil. What an inheritance; may I one day bring as many souls to Christ! When I stand before His throne, may I make an equally good account.
Still basking in the warmth of grace of the First Friday Vigil, our family joined a nearly packed Holy Hill Basilica, to assist with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated by: Bishop Hying, Fr. Don Brick O.C.D., and Fr. Luke Strand. What a Mass! The first dozen pews on the left were full of young adults who had participated in a day-long retreat at the annual Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Conference. Their energy seemed to fill the church. The readings again focused our attention on our ultimate destiny- the end to which our lives are directed. Bishop Hying reminded us of the need to make good use of gift of life we’ve been given. Our time here is precious, use it for what really matters.
As the sun set behind Holy Hill, and our family received Bishop Hying’s blessing, I again marveled at the magnitude of God’s goodness, and contemplated the joy of tomorrow’s pilgrimage.
Blessings- M.A. JMJ