February 29, 2020

A Solemn Ash Wednesday

The Infant of Prague dressed in traditional violet vestments
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Meménto, homo, quia pulvis es, et in púlverem revertéris 1

After a decadent Martedì Grasso, or Fat Tuesday, members of the Fratelli della Santa Fede (Brothers of the Holy Faith) began the penitential season of Lent together on Ash Wednesday at the Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 W 37th St.) in Manhattan. Arriving early, we were able to get our regular seats on St. Joseph's side of the altar (i.e. the right side), before the church filled up for the evening Tridentine High Mass.

The scourging at the pillar
Settling in, we made our way around the nave, meditating on the Stations of the Cross and visiting the statues of the saints. Praying for the poor and forgotten Souls in Purgatory, I lit candles by my familial patrons, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and the Infant of Prague, which was vested in traditional violet finery. We also prayed by the newly installed “Ecce Homo,” a powerful image of Christ flayed by the column. As is the custom, all flowers adorning the altar and statues were removed for Lent. Interestingly, I’ve never seen so many candles lit in this church before.

Prior to Mass, there was the traditional blessing and Imposition of Holy Ashes at the Communion Rail.

Fr. Peter Stravinskas sang the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. MC Eddy Toribio, the servers, and the very talented Schola Cantorum of Holy Innocents dutifully assisted him.

After the dismissal and blessing we stayed for the Exposition and Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which was followed by the parish’s Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Joseph. The solemn rite concluded with the Benediction and Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and veneration of the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at the Communion Rail.

~ Giovanni di Napoli, Feast of Sant’Ilaro

(1) Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return. ~ Genesis 3. 19

February 28, 2020

Celebrating Fat Tuesday with the Dante Alighieri Society of Jersey City

Due Sicilie pride on display
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Carnevale culminated Tuesday evening at the Annual Dante Alighieri Society’s famous Martedì Grasso, or Fat Tuesday, celebration in Jersey City, New Jersey (562 Summit Ave.). A New Orleans’ themed party replete with shiny beads, colorful masks, and swinging jazz music, revelers stuffed themselves one final time before the penitential season of Lent with a veritable cuccagna of delicious southern Italian and spicy Cajun specialties, including jambalaya, chili con carne, and porchetta.

Warmly welcomed, the Fratelli della Santa Fede (Brothers of the Holy Faith) were given a tour of the clubhouse, which boasts two bars, a smoking lounge, a brand new billiards table, and a stocked wine cellar.

After dinner, we enjoyed some espresso, sweet Argentinian dessert empanadas, cigars, and a taste of their latest homemade vino novello.

Thank you President Al Cupo and all the members of the Dante Alighieri Society of Jersey City, Inc. for organizing this extraordinary celebration. Your hospitality is second to none.

Special thanks to the Tiscornia family—Lou, Linda, Jude and Michella— for extending the invitation and making us feel right at home. It was a great joy to celebrate our faith and culture together.

~ Giovanni di Napoli, Feast of San Gabriele dell'Addolorata
Lou welcomes everyone to the party
Carmine, Jude and Andrew
Mike and John
Argentine 'panadas with apple filling
An avid oenophile, Lou gave us an informative tour of their wine cellar
The wine is fermented in small casks 

February 27, 2020

Feast of San Gabriele dell’Addolorata

Evviva San Gabriele!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
February 27th is the Feast Day of San Gabriele dell’Addolorata (Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows), Passionist of the Holy Cross. Protector of the Abruzzo Region of southern Italy, he is also the Patron Saint of students, clerics and young people.
To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Gabriel. The accompanying photo was taken at St. Francis of Paola Church (219 Conselyea Street) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Prayer to Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
O Good Saint Gabriel, God inspired you to see the Passion of Jesus as it was reflected in the heart of Mary His Mother. By her side you stood beneth the cross of Jesus, gazing on Him as she did and learning the meaning of love. O Saint Gabriel, we wish, like you, to grow in love for God and all God’s people. Remember us in our trials, remember especially those who are young. Support us by your prayers all our days. And when this life is done may we join you in heaven in the company of Jesus and Mary. Amen.

The "Prayer Before a Crucifix" Lenten Indulgence

The Return Crucifix at the Shrine
Church of the Holy Innocents
Please note well that on Lenten Fridays, a plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who, after Communion, recite the “Prayer before a Crucifix.” 
Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Your face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul pray and implore You to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment, while I contemplate with great love and tender pity Your five wounds, pondering over them within me, having in mind the words which David Your prophet said of You, my Jesus: “They pierced My hands and My feet; they numbered all My bones.”

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father. Etc., for the intentions of the Holy Father. 
Source: The Shrine Church of the Holy Innocents (128 W 37th St., NYC) February 23, 2020 bulletin

Announcing the 2020 Weekly Rosary and Feast of Santa Rita da Cascia in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday (Mercoledì delle Ceneri)

Corajisima at the Casa della Cultura
in Palmi, Calabria (Photo courtesy of
Calabria: The Other Italy)
Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the period preceding Easter devoted to fasting, abstinence and penitence in memory of the forty days Our Lord Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness. A day for contemplating our mortality, crosses are ceremonially drawn on the forehead with blessed ashes made from the burned palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The ashes remind us that life is fleeting and that we need to repent and turn our hearts towards God. In commemoration I’m posting A Prayer for Ash Wednesday.

The accompanying photo of Corajisima, the mourning wife of Carnevale, is a traditional southern Italian rag doll personifying abstinence during the Lenten season. She holds a spindle and distaff, which represents the passing of time during the 40 days of penitence. Beneath her hangs a lemon (sometimes an orange, potato or onion) with seven feathers stuck in it. Each Sunday a feather is removed, counting down the weeks. The final feather is plucked on Easter, signaling the arrival of spring and the Resurrection.

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Gracious God, today begins a period of inner reflection and examination. The days stretch before me and invite me inward to that silent, holy space that holds your Spirit. This special time beckons me to see my life through Christ's eyes and the truth and reality of your love incarnate. Give me the grace to enter the space of these days with anticipation of our meeting. And, when I open my soul to your presence, let your loving kindness flow over me and seep into the pockets of my heart. I ask this for the sake of your love.

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Monthly Traditional Mass at St. Finbar Parish in Bath Beach, Brooklyn

February 25, 2020

Fat Tuesday and the Death of Carnevale

In addition to the obligatory Lenten dietary restrictions,
I customarily give up macaroni for Lent
The celebration of Carnevale (Latin for “farewell to flesh”) concludes on Martedì Grasso, or Fat Tuesday. In anticipation of the austerity of Lent, revelers partake in final indulgences before fasting and penitence. In southern Italy the day is typically marked with parades, fireworks and plenty of merrymaking. Large meals consisting of local delicacies, meat and other items eschewed during Lent are greedily enjoyed one last time before the fast. In Naples, the festivities traditionally culminate with the ritual “death” of Carnevale ('A morte 'e Carnevale). Laid out to rest on a decorated funeral bier, a straw effigy personifying the dissolute season is drawn in procession through the crowded streets. Between laments, laughter and revelries, the figure of the self-indulgent Carnevale is immolated and reduced to ashes on a funeral pyre, singling the end of the festive period. In commemoration I’m posting a prayer for Shrove Tuesday.
Shrove Tuesday Prayer
Lord, give us grace to inaugurate with holy fasting the defenses of Christian warfare, so that we who are to fight against spiritual wickedness, may be helped and strengthened by self-denial.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in NYC with HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone delle Due Sicilie (Part 2)

The Reception
After the Benediction, guests made their way to the rectory for a lavish reception
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
02/22/20: Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Michael’s Church (424 W 34th St.) in Manhattan with HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone of the Two Sicilies. The prayer service was followed by a reception in the rectory with the Knights and Dames of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George and friends. (See part one, The Benediction)
After the introductions, Dama Catherine Stevenson presents Her Highness with a beautifully "written" icon of St. George smiting the dragon
The Artist with her masterpiece
Very Rev. Msgr. Cav. Ambrosio blesses the icon
Her Highness warmly addresses the attendees
(Above & below) Guests enjoyed a delicious repast catered by the Vitale family 
(Above & below) Revelers mingled and took a few pictures with the Princess
(Above & below) A good time was had by all
Cake with the Royal Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Fr. Rutler and Princess Beatrice cut the cake
After dessert, partygoers retired to the parlour and sang their hearts out  
The Mandolin Orchestra played all our favorite Neapolitan songs
A plaster bust of Fr. Rutler
(Above & below) I loved the eclectic decor
The Peace Emperor, Charles I of Austria

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in NYC with HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone delle Due Sicilie (Part 1)

The Benediction
Cavalieri and Dame rally around the Princess
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
02/22/20: Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Michael’s Church (424 W 34th St.) in Manhattan with HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone of the Two Sicilies. The prayer service was followed by a reception in the rectory with the Knights and Dames of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George and friends. (See part two, The Reception)
Fr. George William Rutler welcomes the Order to St. Michael's Church
(L) HRH Princes Beatrice di Borbone delle Due Sicilie with HE Cav. John M. Viola, Delegate of the US Delegation. (R) Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, Knight Chaplain of Ecclesiastical Grace with HE Vice Delegate Cav. Patrick O'Boyle
(L) Very Rev. Msgr. Cav. Joseph Ambrosio, Knight Chaplain of Ecclesiastical Grace with Dama Catherine Stevenson. (R) HE Cav. Pasquale Menna with Cav. Charles Sant'Elia
Cav. John Napoli with Cav. Sant'Elia
Dama Luisa Cristofano with HE Cav. Viola.
(R) Cav. John Rosa with Dama Jeanne Abate Allen
(L) Cav. Vincent Gangone and Dama Rosanna Minervini with Cav. Dr. Walter Klein, Order of Malta. (R) Cavalieri Andrew Portelli, Tom Crane and Tom Gilmour
Processing into the church, the Order take their place in the front pews
(Above & below) After the Benediction, the Knights
and Dames file out of St. Michael's Church
Evviva San Michele!