On the Road

A Prayer for Steadfast Faith

Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, May 03, 2017

We made our way back from our tour in Michigan to assure we would be back in time for a presentation at St. Brigid’s Church in our home state on April 7. Fathers Crowley and Dawson joined us and we had a full contingent of Knights of Columbus Color Guard. St. Brigid’s Church is an old city neighborhood parish in West Hartford that was built well before there was a real need for parking lots. They have a small circular drive to drop folks off before setting out in search of parking somewhere on a side street or on the busy main thoroughfare where it’s located. My first thought was that very few people would attend this event and I even mentioned that to one of the folks helping me set up. Much to my surprise, however, people braved the rainy evening and found parking as necessary to join us and we had a pretty well filled church. Just before the event started, the person I made that comment to gave me a little zing with one of Jesus' strongest admonitions to his disciples, “o ye of little faith.” Somehow I think that St. Brigid’s dedication to the Cross may have been one of the interceding factors for making that happen in this fine church dedicated in her honor. I don’t think she ever doubted the power God has to draw in his people to Him.

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Standing Among the Warriors

Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, May 03, 2017

On April 4th we had the honor of presenting our 2017 program at the parish of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Monroe, Michigan. What a magnificent church they have erected in his honor. The gold leaf used on the altars and statuary in the sanctuary is exceptional. How fitting it is to accentuate the entire church in gold as a tribute to St. Michael the Archangel when you consider that he isn't a saint, but an angel, and the leader of all angels in the heavenly army of God. Among the many roles St. Michael has as the warrior champion of Christians, he is also the special patron of the Chosen People of the Old Testament and guardian of the Church. The early Christians also revered him and depended on him as a significant intercessor for the sick. In Luke 22:41-43 we learn: "He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.'" An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” There is no reference that tells us exactly which angel was sent to help Jesus but I suspect that St. Michael might have been the one sent to help Jesus in his anguish, but even if not, I’m sure St. Michael would have had a stake in selecting just the right angel to Jesus in his role as Warrior for Our Salvation. In presenting the Relics of the Passion at St. Michael’s Church we made the acquaintance of many people, but two stand out.

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A Visit with True Friends

Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, May 03, 2017

We spent Sunday afternoon on April 2nd with friends at Holy Rosary Church in Cedar, Michigan. I say friends because the parishioners at Holy Rosary are so warm and gracious they make you feel like you’ve come home for a visit. We couldn’t have felt more welcomed and supported. Members of this parish were available as soon as we arrived to help us unload our equipment and get everything in place. They were extremely attentive in helping us get everything we needed. Father Libby came out to greet us and we quickly got the little details for the event ironed out. The sense of family is evidenced in every aspect of this church community. We watched neighbors greeting neighbors as they left Mass before we even unloaded our equipment. With that same demeanor, they were neighbors helping neighbors, teamed with us in the set up, delivery and take down processes for our event. And what good friend would let you leave without sharing some small token of friendship? They baked cookies for us to take on the next leg of our journey.

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Sign, Sign Everywhere a sign.

Written by: Denise Serafini on Sunday, April 02, 2017

We met a man at a gas station that tapped on my window and asked if I had a business card. I realized he had just looked at the magnetic sign on the car. He wanted to know more about who we were and what the sign was about. I didn’t have a business card handy, but suggested he simply look us up on the web to learn more. Then Jean pulled out one of our holy cards and suggested I give him one of those. The man had stepped away so I went inside to look for him. He showed up to get in the car he was riding in on the side closest to Jean while I was still looking for him inside the little convenience store. Jean stopped him and gave him one of our holy cards and then happened to ask him if he was Catholic. He responded that he wasn’t, but nonetheless Jean felt inclined to give him a scapular, explaining that if you wear it and say a Hail Mary each day you will never experience the fires of Hell. Just as I was coming back to the car, I see the man with tears in his eyes holding the scapular to his heart and thanking Jean. He got into the back seat of the truck he was riding in and off we both went with a wave, with me and Jean watching him as he touched the scapular to his heart one more time. Our little magnet signs on the side of the car are what brought this man to knock on the door. I can’t help but think he was heeding the “Call From the Crucified Heart” when he did that, almost as a request to ask us to pray with him and when we left I think he was genuinely thanking the Lord for sending him a little sign that God is still thinking about him.

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Designer Blessings

Written by: Denise Serafini on Sunday, April 02, 2017

On Friday afternoon, March 31st I received a call from a woman named Heidi that evidently missed out on the event in Cleveland. She was told by friends that it was an “event she shouldn’t have missed”. She called me four times to be sure where we would be next and decided that she couldn’t wait until next Tuesday when we are slated to be in Monroe, MI, which would be much closer to Cleveland. So she made the three and half hour trek to Grass Lake to join us at the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the event we had there that evening. She brought along lots of saramentals to touch to the relics. Our event at the Pious Union of St. Joseph Shrine was as touching as any we’ve done to date. Father Leo of the Servants of Charity presided over the event and two other priests were available for confessions. I don’t think I have ever been at an event where I saw so many tears. There were several members of the Knights of Columbus Color Guard that joined us and, as always, they did a marvelous job. However, they were one man short for a full procession and I noticed a young man in the pews, so I asked him if he would mind joining the Knights to bring in the Relic of the Holy table. We handed young Zachary a pair of gloves and with a few instructions he took on the role. He was just beaming with thanks for the opportunity. His father approached me later and told me that his son felt so honored to have been given the opportunity to hold the relic. He said, “this is something he will remember all his life.” From the brightness in this young man’s face I could tell that he too was being blessed in a special way.

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​​In Thanks to Our Lady

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, March 30, 2017

We made the trip to Ohio to arrive on Wednesday, March 29 in Cleveland for a presentation at Mary Queen of Peace parish. We actually were slated to do two events: one in the afternoon for the school children and one in the evening for the greater parish community. Father Douglas Brown, pastor for this parish presided over both events. This church is typical of the great edifices of times long gone by, created in Greek or Roman architecture. It was absolutely beautiful and so large I regretted not bring all eight of our banner backdrops. I had asked Father Brown to provide me with a 10-to-12-word quote giving his impression of the event once it was over. He provided much more than we asked for and we are truly touched by his words. He said, "The Apostolate for Holy Relics brought the Passion of Jesus Christ to my parish in a very immediate and personal way. Sometimes I think we can get caught up in apologetics and theological concepts, but when the Relics of the Passion were here, an emotional response of love developed for Christ and His sacrifice for us, that, quite frankly, I had not seen before. During the prayers and meditations, you could have heard a pin drop as the Passion became very real to those in attendance. During the afternoon Children's Program, approximately 300 children listened attentively and reverently venerated the relics in a manner that I believe will have a long-lasting impact upon them. As the event concluded, I was thanked over and over by the faithful for bringing this to our parish. “

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​ Reflecting the Gospel

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, March 30, 2017

​On Sunday, March 26 we presented our 2017 program to the parishioners of St Matthew’s Church in Forestville, Connecticut. Monsignor Thomas Ginty, pastor of this parish was accompanied by Deacon James McCluskey in presiding over the event, for a successful evening. Although the annual Father McGivney dinner was being held in Cheshire that evening, members of the Knights of Columbus still came to support the Relics of the Passion event. As a matter of fact, Monsignor Ginty, also a knight, joined them in sacrificing their opportunity to celebrate the founder of the Knights of Columbus with their brother knights. God bless them. St. Matthew, the apostle and saint for whom this parish is named, was a tax collector. His occupation would have put Matthew in a position where he was despised by his fellow Jews. The Pharisees and Scribes equated tax collectors with sinners. Jesus was never deterred from fraternizing with sinners as was noted in the biblical quote in Mark 2:17 which reads, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The gospels according to Matthew were written after the death of Christ in Aramaic to convince the people that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. In his gospels, Matthew chronicles the life of Jesus, his experience as an apostle of Christ, and the message of salvation for all people who come to God through Jesus. As I meditate on the Passion of Christ in preparation for the presentations we do, I can more or less see what I think is the summation of the messaging in all the gospels. The Passion has all the elements that the evangelists mention in the sermons and parables, in His life and in the lives of all those connected with Jesus. The gospels are replete with messages of life, discipleship, virtue, faith, healing, danger, evil, sin, forgiveness, repentance, death, resurrection, salvation and more. Those same messages are all encapsulated in the Passion of Christ.

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The Essence of Holy Hope

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, March 28, 2017

On Friday March 24th we had the opportunity to present our program at my home church here in Connecticut, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, which is part of the Our Lady of Hope Parish. The event was well attended and our pastor, Father Ruminski, did a wonderful job of supporting us in the readings. In alignment with the name for the parish, I have to say that if nothing else, our relics and associated programs, similar to all of the traditional services and prayer devotions made available to us by the Church, are a sign of hope that God wishes to embed deep within our hearts; the hope of salvation and His eternal love. The first shrine to bear the title of Our Lady of Hope was erected at Mezieres, France in the year 930. On January 17, 1871, Our Lady of Hope appeared in the French village of Pontmain. There she revealed herself as the "Madonna of the Crucifix" and gave the world her message of "Hope through Prayer and the Cross." The basilica built at Pontmain by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate is one of the great French pilgrimage places, noted for its miracles of grace. The individuals that attend our events come to engage in prayer for the benefit of the persons and situations tied to their prayer intentions. God the Father, in His Mercy, cannot help but have pity on the soul that presents his or her supplications in the midst of remembering the suffering of Jesus on the walk to Calvary accompanied by His Mother and honoring the relics of the cruel and inhumane tortures He endured.It so happened that an individual that has long been suffering from terminal cancer came and asked to be prayed over with the relics. Father Ruminski brought the Relic of the True Cross to her and joined her in asking Jesus for relief of her sufferings. This young woman was not Catholic, but she certainly understood that Jesus is our Savior. In her knowing that she will likely be going home to the Father in the near future, she wanted to draw herself as close as possible to Him to be assured of His love for her.

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A Gift of the Holy Trinity

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The inspiration for my blogging this year led me to talk about the churches we’ve been visiting, highlighting the story behind the individual saint in whose honor the church has been named. The church we visited in Poughkeepsie on March 22 was the Church of the Holy Trinity and I have to say I’m a bit overwhelmed since the writing on the subject of the Trinity is definitely “above my pay grade of intellectual gifts”. It’s a difficult subject to expound on, even for the great writers of the Church, so I won’t even attempt to address the theological elements associated with discussions and articles I’ve read regarding Trinitarian philosophy. I will however, provide you with a quote regarding a rationale on God’s purpose for His Son’s Passion from Father Robert Barron, professor of systematic theology at Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary. He says, “A gracious God, seeing the mess into which human beings have fallen, sets things right. And that can happen only through the sheer generous grace of a God who, by the Holy Spirit, breaks into the dysfunction and heals it from within." With that said, I think it’s best for me to just stick with the reality of the Presence of the Holy Trinity at our little event at Holy Trinity Parish. The feeling in the church as we meditated on the message of God’s love for mankind in sacrificing His only begotten Son was definitely one that was filled with the Holy Spirit. Father Mizzi-Gili, Pastor and presider for our event, turned to the Eucharist for each prayer we said in the series for the meditations. That gesture seemed to help us connect directly to God in our prayers. Father's rendition of the “Call from the Crucified Heart”, Jesus’ words to us at each step in His Passion, were done in such a way that you could fully imagine Jesus actually having that conversation with us in the Church that evening. That feeling is definitely what I call the presence of the Holy Spirit manifest among us.

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Celebrating with St. Joseph

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, March 23, 2017

On Sunday, March 19, we traveled to the Church of St. Joseph in Troy, New York. When we pulled up we saw two major banners promoting our event on the fences that line the street alongside the church. Father James Sidoti, certainly invested lots of effort to bring as many people as possible to join us in the event. This church is incredibly beautiful with its old gothic design and tiffany windows. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth the stop for a visit. We arrived between masses to bring in our equipment. We brought it in early to leave it in the corner, since there was a Latin Mass just before our event which limited our set up time. We have to do whatever we can to minimize the unpacking time when the window available for set up is less than 90 minutes. That approach allowed us to get everything done for an on-time start of the program. We were joined by members of the Color Guard from the local Knights of Columbus Assembly. These great examples of committed men in service to the Church have been there for every event I’ve ever done in Troy at both St. Augustine’s and St. Joseph’s. It so happens that March 19th is also the feast day of St. Joseph. What better place to present than a beautiful church named in his honor? Father Sidoti was the main presider for this event, and he provided beautiful holy cards depicting St. Joseph to complement the holy cards we provide for attendees to touch to the relics as a permanent memento of their encounter with the Relics of the Passion. What a wonderful opportunity to engage the powerful intercession of St. Joseph, on his feast day, for all the intentions offered up by the participants and for the petitions we offer up under the Relic of the Holy Nail during each event.

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