Just Smile…

Hello Love Begins Here friends!

I hope you are all well! I had a funny little thing happen today that I thought I should share…

After morning mass and the pick-up of a cutie (reasonably priced!) dress from Kohl’s for Alison and Phil’s Wedding this weekend (YEAH marriage!) I made my way to the Catholic Family Bookstore in Kenosha (I’m spending some time with my family there) to pick up a breviary – Love Begins Here inspired me to finally get one (I’ve been meaning to for a while), so I can pray morning and evening prayer.

Anyhoo…I strolled in rockin my paprika flavored Love Begins Here t-shirt. After taking a few steps in the door, I caught the teary eye of a stranger who was talking with the owner. Visibly, she was struggling with something, so I flashed her the Missionary-of-Charity-encouraged smile…

To my surprise, she smiled in return, caught a look at my t-shirt, said, “well, if love begins here, then I need to be a part of it” and ran at me for a what turned out to be a good…L…O…N…G…15-20 second bear hug.

By the end of the hug, all three of us (the woman, the owner and I) were laughing and the woman said she felt “a lot better.” I’m still not sure who she was or what she was struggling with, but I do know that a paprika shirt and a smile opened the door for Love to begin in Kenosha today.

Stay near the Lord this week and “begin” His Love wherever you are!

Two weeks later.

Hello LBH Blog Readers,

The LBH Core Team of 2009 wishes you all well, two weeks after the final week of LBH 2009 ended. We welcome our newer readers to the blog, who may be joining us after our recent publicity in the Madison Catholic Herald. A special thanks to Mary and Kat who did a fantastic job helping us out with coverage this past year. I will get to posting the link when it is available on the Herald’s website tomorrow.

Please know that we will be updating our lovely blog every week or two during the “off-season” so as to keep you up to date on the lasest and greatest. Initial discussions have been taking place regarding plans for next summer. We will reveal the plans as they become finalized.

For now, I’m going to leave you with a few words of Blessed Mother Teresa to reflect on for the day…

We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one – the sick one – the one in prison – the lonely one – the unwanted one – and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.

Begin love in your home today. We’re praying for you as you go about it.


Look out!

It’s true, LBH Week 3 is coming to a close and we must look out to the road ahead. Before doing so, however, let’s mosey back to our last couple days…and as we do, may I suggest you keep a look out for slug bugs, talking gnomes, small signs exchanged in circles, and water gun donning stealth shooting high schoolers…

Surprising enough with all this looking out, Wednesday morning began (as do all mornings of LBH) with a time of looking in…at our ability to see Christ in others and to serve Him by serving them. After a healthy helping of our Lord’s grace in prayer – and Gina and Dave’s flapjacks in the kitchen – we were off to do just that…serve Christ through our service to others. A number of crew members headed into Madison to continue work on the classrooms at St. James School. Second coats of paint and a few kosher donuts later, the team made their way to the Bishop O’Connor Center (BOCC). There, they met up with the other members of the LBH crew who spent their day delivering meals (and smiles) to the homebound and chattin it up with the seniors at the Mt. Horeb Senior Center.

BOCC pool time is always a blast, especially when you’re on the lookout for airborne inner tubes, flying footballs worth points, and Olympic-esque races between worthy opponents (Better luck next time, Blaine! Love, Gina). Pita pizzas provided a tasty dinner follow-up, but not nearly as scrumptious as what followed…

Confession time with Fr. Rick…man, it feels great to look out on life with a new pair of eyes and a clean soul. Thank you Jesus for forgiveness and grace…and the gift of strawberries – in shortcake form – it’s only appropriate to celebrate feelin’ good after the Sacrament, right!?! The ladies tasted some additional sweetness later when they found a way to get four on a couch before heading to bed.

Good morning blog readers, it’s Thursday on our journey back in time and the LBH crew is up for a last day of prayer and action. After some time of prayer and Toaster Strudel, we scattered one last time to finish beginning love (in the formal sense) in the Madison area. One crew did final touch-ups at St. James School. Look out SJS middle schoolers – Mother Theresa’s inspiration is etched in your walls (literally)! A second crew delivered meals to homebound and finished up some yard work that was begun earlier in the week and a final crew did yard work and window cleaning at another home (Upon completion, they were serenaded with ice cream bars and brownies as a thank you – it was debatable who was more thankful when all was said and done…Dorothy, your brownies are to die for!). All teams rendezvoused at the Senior Center for a final card playing hurrah with our new senior friends.

With our work complete, we headed for the Mt. Horeb community pool where elbows were flying in what could possibly have been the most epic game of water basketball this town has ever seen. For those that didn’t get enough competition in the pool, Cherry Cherry commenced on the playground…but all that fruit talk made us hungry, so we headed back home for the most delightful leftover / made-to-order-bar dinner of all time. Speaking of that which nourishes us, Christ’s presence in the Eucharist was our source of reflection for the close of the night. How very blessed we are to have this gift. May it continue to strengthen us as we leave from this place…

Look out world, here we come!

So much to do; such minimal internet access.

The past few days have kept us pretty busy, and we are thankful for all of the good times and hard work we have been able to do to keep us busy. Such busyness combined with a lack of available Internet in our home has limited our blog updating; however, we hope to provide some good reading for you and a satisfying update.

Let’s go ahead and jump right in. Monday morning we woke up bright and early, ready to start the day praying it up. After reflecting on our lives in solitude and action, we got to breakfast and to work. One car group went over to the Senior Center, met some new friends, and spent the afternoon delivering meals and exploring Mount Horeb. The other three quarters of the group drove into Madison to St. James School and revamped two of the classrooms by giving them a new paint job.

After all of the hard work for the day, we were able to get back together for a quick dip in the pool at the Bishop O’Connor Center before we hit the showers and got ready for Mass. With only a couple minor detours, we all arrived safely in the bustling town of Paoli, WI. The St. William community was looking pretty proud of their newly cleaned Church, and Mass with Fr. Vernon was the highlight of the day. And, it was really great to have Greg Ihm around for Mass, too. We love our seminarians and Fr. Vernon’s advice and tips on discerning vocations.

Monday evening came and passed with some discussion of the dignity of the human person, an intense scavenger hunt (and two mile sprint), stop at the local ice cream shop, a couple rounds of the sign game, and laughter long into the night.

We woke up even earlier on Tuesday ready for a journey back to Verona to see Fr. Vernon and celebrate Mass with the community of St. Andrew’s. After Mass we were not only treated to a “second homily” further encouraging us to embrace the grace and accept the invitation to salvation, but also a delightful breakfast at McDonald’s by Father! We were happy to have the time to enjoy each other’s company and the sustenance to get us started for the day.

During the working hours of the day, the crew split into two. One group hung out around to deliver meals and eat with some folks at the Senior Center before heading off to a mobile food pantry. (Check out the coverage they got on the news last night: http://www.nbc15.com/news/headlines/50167382.html. Watch for Dave Carrano’s face in the midst of the story.) The other group spent the afternoon using their extreme makeover skills on a local gentleman’s backyard.

After gathering together competitions of all kinds continued on, including gnome searching, sliding at lightning speeds on the Mount Horeb pool’s slide, nerf gun wars, and more than a few games of Cherry, Cherry. After taking a quick trip through the history of the Church’s social teaching, we headed off to bed.

Once again, we are expecting the best today and are excited for what Jesus has in store for us. We hope to get one more post out to all of you before the end of the week – keep checking back in. Happy New Encyclical Week!

Week Three Begins: Mount Horeb Style

We are thrilled that week three has begun, and it is off to a fantastic start. Here’s a quick top 5 list as to the reasons why we know that it’s going to be a good one.

5. We have three great adults that joined us for the week – two of which are seminarians for our own Diocese. Praise the Lord for the gift that Greg, Dave, and Blaine have been and will continue to be to us.
4. Laughter was in no short supply.
3. Fr. Rick, the pastor here in Mount Horeb, delivered one solid homily this morning. It totally fired up the whole LBH Core Team and friends for the week.
2. The youth who showed up today are rock stars. Not only are they prayerful and ready to serve, but they are one competitive bunch. The intensity is building, and we are excited to see how good it gets this week.
1. The Holy Trinity is giving us our direction for the week, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, Bl. Mother Teresa, and the whole company of angels and saints in Heaven. Way to go universal Church!

We will post a more full description of what we’ve been up to… with photos. Look forward to it by Tuesday morning.

Don’t blend in.
– Fr. Rick

June LBH Highlights

First off, we have a few comments from the end of the week evaluations/reflections to share with you…

I didn’t think all of this would mean so much to me. I never would have thought that by the end of the week I’d be crying or care about the group/family as much as I do. My outlook on Church and the Mass reversed – I can’t wait to go.

I think now that love doesn’t only begin here in Madison, but it begins in the here that is in our hearts… and the only way to connect with that love is through God.

I understand now that you don’t have to go around the world searching for the poorest of the poor. You can serve God the way Mother Teresa did by helping people in your own community.

I understand now that Mother Teresa wasn’t just talking about needing money, food, and clothing, she was talking about being spiritually poor.

And a few photographs to share…

The results of the LBH Week One Competition are posted above. It’s pretty clear that this winning team was proud of their prizes and the big V. They hustled in the mornings and made us laugh long into the night. Way to go James, Matt, Hillary, Jessica and Gina!!

Lindsay was pooped on by a bird. This picture… and much laughter and help followed. Perhaps Gina or Jeff will jump on here soon to tell the story.

A definite highlight of Week Two was getting to explore the Glen of Durward’s Glen. Here is the gang before we got to our exploring.

During nightly check-ins, limited to 11 or so pretzels, Gina Pignotti used her sentence structuring skills to come up with this beauty. If anyone (who wasn’t present on Week Two) comments with the correct answer, there will be a prize in store for you.