Friday, April 30, 2010

7 Quick Takes 2

1.With the celebration of my youngest daughter's First Holy Communion, it has been quite a week of joy for her. Wednesday, her 2nd grade class took care of the school Mass so she got to read a petition and sing in the choir and receive Jesus for the 2nd time. The look on her face is worth more than words can say.

2. The birthday of my brother brought back memories of him trying to teach our black Lab to bring the newspaper to our door by wrapping bologna inside. Oh he brought the paper to the door alright! (Ours and every other persons' in the neighborhood.)

3. Today's reading makes me just want to say, "Thank You!" "In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not,would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be." I'm grateful for the idea of mansions (St.Teresa) and many dwelling places. I often picture myself hanging on to the last rung of the ladder or in the garage of one of the mansions but at least knowing that in His Mercy, there is a place even for me.

4. I couldn't believe this week that I actually read 2 different blogs about thinking before I speak and the power of words and still blurted out something inappropriate to a friend. Lord help me to zip it.

5. One daughter home from college for the summer. Oh, and her stuff came home too. Time for the younger 2 girls to bunk back up so the big girls can have a space! I love having all my ducks back in the pond. Another week and we'll have them all.

6. With First Communions and Confirmations the bookstore is hoppin'. Thank you Lord. I count me blessings that my husband and I work together , especially during this time of year when we are so busy both at home and work.

7. Two great women Saints this week with the Feast Days of St. Gianna Beretta Molla and St. Catherine of Siena. Powerful, strong, leaders of the Catholic Faith!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

I can't possibly get to the end of my day without bringing attention to St. Gianna on her Feast Day. An incredible mother who gave her life to save her unborn child. I have to come from the perspective of what people would be saying to her as she carried her youngest child Gianna. An amazing woman, a physician who knew exactly what it meant not to have a hysterectomy or an abortion. Other physicians suggesting the importance to her three living children for her to save her own life. People who just saw her and didn't really know her story commenting on the excitement of giving birth and raising her children. Conversations between she and her husband of the future for him and their children. Her story brings tears and yet her courage to choose life, to choose Christ brings hope. May all our children know and understand her great faith.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, you followed the Blessed Virgin Mary’s example of loving one’s “own in the world and loving them to the end.” Bless my child with this selfless love for human life. Teach her how fragile and how precious is another’s life. May she never take the gift of life for granted. Give her the strength to stand firm for humans’ right to life. St. Gianna, help my child to follow your example of witnessing to the true love of Christ and to human life. Amen.
- from Bless My Child

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Keep Your Words Soft and Sweet

When we were growing up, my mom used to preach, "Keep your words soft and sweet just in case you have to eat them." My mom's words of wisdom that I can't seem to bring forth when I need them the most. Ironically, this morning I pulled up the Why I Am Catholic post and Frank was talking about words. The importance of being careful with them and how word is one letter from sword, etc. I occasionally choose a site at one of my favorite blogs to read if I have some time and so today I chose Deacon's Bench and began to read. I couldn't believe that the message was again about words. This man has actually had to turn off his comment box for a while because of some of the words used. And I could understand and commend his decision. But, I'm prepped now for my day to watch my mouth, RIGHT? Holy Spirit's put it in front of me for a reason. RIGHT? And a good friend calls to tell me that her oldest sister died in the night. I have always loved this family. Grew up with them. Been around them all my life. And BAM! I say just the WRONG thing. As it came out, I thought, are you kidding me? You've been with me all morning and you can't stop those words from rolling off my tongue. I actually got a stomach ache. I am so insensitive. So, I apologized and in Catholic fashion asked forgiveness that I did not deserve and in better Catholic fashion of course she pardoned me. Count to ten. Take a breathe. Think. We tend to say stupid things when we don't know what to say. How 'bout just keep my mouth shut and listen? God forgive me and help me to keep my words, if I must speak them, soft and sweet because I often eat them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Last First Communion

My youngest child made her First Holy Communion yesterday and it was beautiful. The children processioned into the church from their classrooms singing, "Lord prepare me to be a Sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I'll be a living Sanctuary for You," over and over. This year I was fortunate to be a Eucharistic Minister during the ceremony. We waited on the altar while the children received and it allowed me a birds eye view of my daughter receiving Jesus for the first time. The only problem was that it did make me cry which meant I had the sniffles as I went on to distribute to the congregation. I don't think it was too noticeable. We had a nice lunch/dinner afterward and her two older sisters in college both called to congratulate her on her special day. Both were crushed not to be here. While tucking that sweet, pure white goodness in last night, I came in while she was reviewing her new Bible. St. Benedict Press/Tan had just put out a new Communion Bible and it has colored sections of St. Tarcisus and Blessed Imelda, the Mass, the Rosary, basic prayers and the Sacraments. It's awesome. She was using her new rosary and going by the picture with the instructions and asked me to pray with her. She knows the prayers but insisted on reading each word from her new Bible. I had closed my eyes and she slipped her hand in mine with the beads between our fingers so we could "pray together better." We only got through a small section and she decided she was tired. Before I left she said, "Mom, who knew the Bible could be so much fun?" She also asked, "Do you ever feel like you're not holy enough to receive Jesus in Communion?" I thought, All The Time! but I said, "I do but I don't think you have to worry about that right now." It reminded me of a retreat at the Dominican Motherhouse I attended where the beautiful, fully habited, professed for probably 40 years, sister said that as she approaches the altar each day she often thinks, "Who am I that my Lord Jesus Christ would come to me in this Blessed Sacrament?" I just sat in awe of her humility. In the same way I'm touched by my child's sweet humility. She touches me during these times because she wants she share everything with me especially about our faith. She hands down all she learns as if it's the first time I've ever been told. Such innocence. "My Lord and my God." Who am I that You should come to me? It was a great day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Yesterday was my brother Phillip's birthday. He would have been 52 years old and as I think about his short time here, I think about his simplicity. He was a no frills sort of guy often just doing whatever came into his mind at the time. He was friendly and well liked and years ago I put together this memory from our childhood in a meditation of sorts and I share it in honor of his day. Well, a day late.

“She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged.”
Luke 2:7

Whether we envision the place made of wood or straw or stone, we can pretty well picture an area not exactly fit for a King. We imagine a simple area with a dirt floor and some straw and a few animals. The baby, our Savior, is wrapped in just enough to keep Him warm.
Not the brightest member of the family, our big, black Labrador retriever, Arthur, was loved by everyone. He wandered the hood almost as much as us kids and played ball with anyone who’d take the time to throw the mass of slobber that always hung from his mouth. My brother Phillip took upon himself the task of teaching Arthur to deliver our newspaper to our front door. With little success of convincing the dog to leave the ball and take the paper, Phillip decided to roll bologna inside the newspaper. For days, he’d drag Arthur to the end of the driveway to pick up the scent and grab the newspaper. Then, he’d drag him back to the front porch to the proper spot of delivery, rewarding him with the bologna wrapped inside the newspaper. A couple of training sessions and Arthur seemed to be just waiting for the paper boy to deliver our paper so he could show off his skills. And not just our paper, but half the neighborhood’s papers were delivered to our front porch. Training the beast that there was not a treat inside every paper in the hood was a slightly more difficult accomplishment. We redirected many newspapers back to their rightful owners for weeks until Arthur finally realized that the bologna was no longer the reward.
We learned early that great treats were often inside the simplest wrappings. We loved stories at the dinner table, building houses with decks of cards, family basketball games, seeing the foil expand as mom made jiffy pop popcorn, Easter egg hunts and probably most of all, family card games. Simple joys all wrapped up and sometimes hard to get to were the most rewarding.

Lord, the world today is constantly teaching that more is better. Teach me to live simply in Your love. From the simple wood manger to the simple wood cross, teach me Your small joys. Show me how to reap the greatest rewards out of the simplest tasks. Help me to be an example of cherishing time with others and of recognizing the great gifts You give wrapped in the simplest packages.

Pass It On: This week share with someone the simple things in life, such as, a long walk, fishing, a board game, an old movie or a hand written letter. Enjoy one another. Each day pray that some day, all man-kind can make room in their hearts for simple joy born to save.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Old Cars, Old Memories

Wanting to have an old car to drive around town is more about wanting to retain the memories that old cars bring to mind than actually wanting an old car. My '63 Falcon is now back from restoration. My husband and I bought this car about 14 years ago when we had two kids and what we believed was extra time. We worked on the car every once in a while but never quite finished any part of it and after a couple more children actually just towed it over to the next house. As two children grew to six, the Falcon sat in the garage and was finally uncovered to tow to Mid-Southern Restoration in Cookeville, TN. Ruby arrived home this week and I have driven her every day. She reminds me...
Cars were a major part of our family's life. Basically, whatever $400 deal my dad’s friend AJ had on his lot was what found a home in our driveway. And they were Gaaauurgous! We all learned to shift gears, we all had strong arms from lack of power steering and we all knew how to stick a pencil down the middle of the air filter to start the Dodge Dart or the Belvedere. We stalled on cold mornings in the middle of highways and intersections and knew what it was like to get blasted by horns or pushed out of traffic by a stranger. We were rich in kids so we were rich in clunky cars and all the stories that went along with them.
My mom’s cars from the family station wagon to the Volare to the Sapporo held stories of carrying eight kids and a grandmother cross country from Nashville to California, my brother Robert falling out into the street and rolled up fingers in electric windows, all including a recitation of the rosary. The car was one place mom and dad could have our attention individually or as a group. We fought over who would sit next to the window or front seat shot gun and with our thumbs to the ceiling, we held up bridges we passed under. Each car we owned had it’s own memories and stories.
Cars taught us all great lessons. What we were to our friends was deeper than our used cars or Thrift Shop clothing or handed down shoes. What we made of ourselves stemmed from learning to shift gears and handle sudden changes without fear or disappointment. The good parts of life were not always automatic but everything could be worked out if we prayed, worked hard, and were grateful.
I can't wait to see what other memories crop up from drivin' around in my new, old car. I have to say, I already have a genuine gratefulness to the one who invented power steering and power brakes.
What about it? Any great car stories from the past?

Friday, April 23, 2010

1. Working with my 8 year old on preparing for her 1st Communion Sunday has been a true joy. Now every time I make the Sign of the Cross I see myself, "knock, knock, knockin' on Heaven's door."

2. We have been super busy at the bookstore with 1st Communion and Confirmation Season. Thank You Lord for all our customers.

3. St. George's Feast Day! I love the Saints: what they can do for us in intercession, how they defend our faith, how they're understood and misunderstood. I love to hear stories from our customers of how St. Jude or St. Anthony or St. Joseph have come to their rescue. With them there is no superstition, purely prayer and faith. This guy today, he went up against the Emperor, his commander, his leader in defense of his Faith. He was tortured and finally beheaded, all in the name of God. St. George be our strength in defense of our Faith.

4. Pre 4 of our 6 kids, my husband and I thought it would be fun to restore an old '63 Falcon convertible. We kept it in our garage, uncovered it a few times, even moved it to a new house and still 14 years later, nothing. We sent her off many months ago and Ruby arrived back home yesterday. Beautiful and fun just like my other girls.

5. I love it when I've worked on something, sent it off, gotten a response and then a huge sign comes along to confirm the possibilities. The girl that works in our office always says, "What? Ya gotta get knocked in the head? That's your sign." I do love 'em.

6. Reminded by another blog of the beautiful prayer of Teresa of Avila took me back to my trip there last summer and many awesome memories with my two oldest daughters and my mom.
Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

7. I pray for my child during her First Communion this Sunday and for all the children during this time. They are so pure and holy. I am truly blessed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Communion Journal

Wow this First Communion Journal my daughter has been working on each night has really kept us busy in prayer. I love this time in a child's life when their thoughts are so pure and all they know is that no matter what they do or say, "Jesus loves me just the way I am." In the journal she has been challenged to tell ways that she can imitate that love towards her family and her friends. After each entry she has to write down something that she has done for another person during her day. This time together has made me think simply about my love toward others and what I have done in my day for someone else. I have two choices at all times when it comes to "projects" from school, either complain because they take so much extra time or jump in because they usually have a lesson for both the child and the adult. I have always loved the little ways the children prepare for First Communion at our school. The extra projects and the time to talk. No matter how simple, they always bring forth some kind of grace moment. Maybe some of His work is busy work. Maybe some of it can seem like another project. But, I have to say, I always get more than I give and it's always worth it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In the Name of the Father

Last night while working with my daughter on her First Communion journal, I was moved by her ideas about prayer. The first page asked her to take time in prayer and just talk to God about her day, about her life and about her upcoming day when she will receive Him in the Eucharist for the first time. She said to me, "As I do this, 'In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'" and she crossed herself, "I pretend that that" and she crossed herself "is like knocking on God's door and I wait for Him to let me in. Then, when I'm inside, I see Him in one of those shade hats (a visor) and he's at one of those old machines that you move your fingers to type and then push that bar back (an old typewriter) and there are stacks of white paper all over around Him like with what people ask for and prayers and stuff and I just wait to talk to Him." So, we began together in prayer and she says, "Make sure to knock on the door each time." So we do and she kneels in silence then she writes, "I want You to speak to me. Amen. I want You to speak to me. Amen."
I have this visual of Jesus loving this moment. My 2nd grader telling me the importance of beginning my prayers with the sign of the cross as a way to wait for Jesus to open the door to my prayers of desire and my prayers of thanksgiving, many of which He has in the stacks already. But, He loves for me to come to Him again and again and He's willing to take it all down as often as I knock. She is frustrated by the lack of a response that she can hear clearly. I share with her that He often responds to us by action or in silence and to keep knocking on that door and keep talking to Him and to take time just to be quiet and listen. I say these words for myself as well as her. She turns to me and says, "You know. I think Jesus would like it if you wrote a prayer to Him on your blog." As she gets up to brush her teeth for bed, I promise I will. And so I pray, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Today and everyday You bless me in ways I do not always thank You enough for. You obviously have it all typed out and I am not grateful enough for the love You send through my children, my family, my coworkers and the people in my community. Teach me to knock and come sit with You all through my day and trust that You will give me all I need. Bless my daughter and all the children making their First Holy Communion. I pray that they will know You and love You more and more as You come and make a home in their hearts. I pray that they come to You daily throughout their lives. I see that my daughter is comfortable envisioning You in that visor and I pray that she is always that comfortable with You as her loving Father. It took me quite some time to get where most of my children already seem to be in Your presence. I love You and I thank You."

Monday, April 19, 2010


Well I've been thinking much about the word sympathy over the past couple of days because I have had the "bug". My 2nd grader had it through the night Thursday and was laid out all day Friday. By Saturday night I myself was clinging to the medals around my neck begging God for some small amount of sympathy. I thought I may die right there with my head inside a pan. Sunday, I was laid out all day and the times I was awake, I thought about being sympathetic. Was I sympathetic enough to Julia as she lay with her head in the pan and suffered through this "bug"? Probably not after I realized for myself the horror of it all. Also, my oldest had ear infections at a very young age, so many that she finally had tubes. Long past the time, I myself had an ear infection and OH MY GOODNESS! how painful is that. I had to stop and think. Was I sympathetic enough when she went through all those nights of pain? Probably not. It's the same when someone loses a family member and then I lose one and realize just how awful the pain of loss is. I've learned that it doesn't matter how sick they were or how old they were or if they were awful to the rest of the family. They are still a mother, a father, a brother, a nephew, a son, a daughter, a something to somebody. The lonely, the disabled, the elderly, our priests, our sisters, our teachers, those who have it all and those who have nothing, am I sympathetic when need be? Probably not. I learned at an early age to take care of the needs of others but it seems as an adult that unless I personally have the same experience, I just don't think about it often enough. Sad huh? This busy life of mine was slowed down by an awful virus and it took just that to slow me down enough to question myself. Am I sympathetic to the needs of others? Sometimes I know I am and then again today, I need to contemplate sympathy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

St. Benedict Joseph Labre

Here we go this morning, filling my head with a million thoughts about this saint for the day. I think at first, man I'd love to spend my life traveling to all the incredible pilgrimage sites of Europe, spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. But, hmmmm, I wouldn't want to beg outside for food or sleep on the streets. Then the image came to me of a time last summer when I was walking with my daughters and my mother through the streets of Toledo, Spain and I noticed a beggar outside a small entrance covered with a leather flap. My daughters and my mom walked on but I lifted back the flap and entered a small room with several people kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I took my place on the kneeler and prayed in front of Our Lord in the darkened room marked from outside by a beggar. As I remember, most of the pilgrimage sites we went to and many I can remember from years of traveling have beggars at the door. Wonder just how many I've passed have wandered inside and spent time in front of the Blessed Sacrament? Possibility. Wonder how many have died on the streets after devoting their lives to the Blessed Mother and the Eucharist? Wonder how many have shared the few alms they have received with their brothers on the street? My mom always reached down and gave something to the beggars and now I wonder how many are somewhere praying for her? Possibility. These beggars that bother most could well be the ones who get us closer to Heaven. Can I see the face of Benedict Joseph? The face of a saint? After his death hundreds of miracles were attributed to the intercession of St. Benedict Joseph, "the poor man of the Forty Hours Devotion." Wonder.

Friday, April 16, 2010

St. Bernadette Soubirous

Today is the feast of one of my favorite saints, St. Bernadette Soubirous. At age 14, from the first day of the appearances to her by Our Blessed Mother at Lourdes, Bernadette did everything Mary asked of her. She followed every instruction and repeated every message despite the skepticism of the people in her village and the officials who came to investigate the authenticity of the apparitions. Four years later, the church approved the apparitions.
In 1999, I visited Lourdes for the second time. Seven months pregnant with my fifth child, I journeyed with my mom, my sisters, my sister-in-law and my niece. My niece was only six but had suffered from frequent headaches and stiff joints and pains so much so as to keep her from school. My sister and her went to get in the long line for the baths while the rest of us went to Mass and confession. Here's my sister's words: "If you had a child or were old, you did not have to stand in line. They took us to the front to sit on a bench where the line was only about 10 people long. Everyone was singing traditional Mary songs in French. Someone came and asked your language then got a person to explain the procedure. You could choose to be completely submersed or just your body and not your head. It was cool out so we chose body only. When it was her turn, she went to a small dressing area where she put on a gown like a hospital gown. There were tubs but the water was coming out of a spout that was actually from the mountain so it was like a spring, not the typical plumbing spout. There were at least three nuns in her bath. They were praying the whole time and two of them lowered her into the water while the other used her hands to pour water over her. I was allowed to watch. Then they pulled her out and dried her off..... When we got home (from France), she was about the same with bouts of soreness and not feeling well. When school started I happened to be talking to a parent who told me she was an allergist and asked why my daughter had dark circles under her eyes. One thing led to another. I took her to the allergist who found all her food allergies, changed her diet and as time passed her joint pain decreased. Eventually, the infections, fevers and joint pain disappeared all together. So, was there an immediate healing, maybe not. Were we led to an eventual healing, definitely."
We are merely asked to believe that Mary will intercede for us in our need. We are often given opportunities to proceed without hesitation or fear of what others may say or think. Mary leads us to her Son, to Faith, to Hope, to Love. Immediate response to all our requests, maybe not. But eventually what we truly need, definitely. Bernadette exemplifies the instant response to all the good Mary longs to give her children from her Son. I am blessed to have witnessed her goodness, to have washed in the water and to have prayed at her grotto.
"There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"My Lord and My God"

Days of working with my 8 year old on her First Communion packet has made me continually say to myself day after day, I believe He comes to us as flesh and blood. Julia has been taught to repeat as she walks up to receive Him, "My Lord and my God". "My Lord and my God". And if I ever had any question in my mind, any doubt that He comes as flesh and blood, I remember the small town of Santarem, Portugal that I was fortunate enough to visit last summer. Completely out of the way but not too far from Fatima, the Eucharistic Miracle is housed in the middle of the small inside a small church. The story follows.

The story of the miracle centers on an early-13th-century woman with an unfaithful husband. Desperate to regain his faithfulness and save her marriage, she consulted a sorceress. The sorceress said she would cure the husband's infidelity for the price of a consecrated host (Eucharistic wafer). After much deliberation, the woman decided to commit the sacrilege.

The next time she attended Mass at the 12th-century Church of St. Stephen, she took the consecrated wafer from her mouth, wrapped it in a veil and headed quickly for the door. But before she had taken more than a few steps, the host began to bleed. It bled so much that concerned parishioners thought she had cut her hand and attempted to help, but she ran out of the church.

Back at home, she threw the bloody host in a trunk in her bedroom. Her husband did not come home until late, as usual. In the middle of the night, they were both awoken by a mysterious light emanating from the trunk. The woman confessed to her husband what she had done and they both knelt in repentance before the miracle. The next morning, the couple told the parish priest what had happened. The priest placed the miraculous host in a wax container and returned it to the Church of St. Stephen. Word spread quickly, and the townspeople hurried to the church to see the miracle.

The next time the priest opened the tabernacle that contained the miraculous host, another miracle occurred! The wax container was found broken into pieces, and the host was enclosed in a crystal pyx. This pyx was placed in a silver monstrance, where it can be seen today.

I entered the small, dark church with my mother and my two older daughters to find no one but an old woman seated praying. She was dressed in what I would call peasant clothing and turned to look at us, then went back to her prayers. We walked around not knowing exactly what we were looking for. As Beth and I walked towards the front, the old woman began motioning toward a tabernacle high above another tabernacle at the front behind the altar. We smiled and as my mom and Sarah joined us, we told them that the Eucharistic Miracle must be up there. An old man came up behind us and asked if we wanted to see and again the old woman looked around and motioned for us to watch. The man held what looked like a remote control. He pushed the button and noise began and the gold doors opened and a monstrance moved out for us to see. We all knelt out of reverence but we couldn't really see much but the monstrance. Suddenly the old woman started moving her arms around and speaking to the man. He looked, pushed the remote to send the monstrance back and close the doors. He motioned for us to follow. Around the back of the tabernacle was a steep set of stairs and he motioned for one of us to climb up. One by one we climbed the stairs and one by one each of us came face to face with the flesh and the blood of Jesus. To the left of the railing at the top was a small plaque that stated when Pope John Paul II had been in that very same spot. We seemed to have followed him all over Portugal. I was filled with goose bumps and tears. It was overwhelming and all I can think to say to this day is, "My Lord and my God".

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Join the Acts

"The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common." Acts 4:32
I have to stop and really think about the reading from Acts this morning. I have to imagine my own community of believers and appreciate there unselfish ways of giving back to the larger community. I can think right off the top of my head of many who give their time and their talent and their treasure for the needs of others. We all know people like this in our communities. Those who feed the hungry at shelters or in school gyms. Those who give money and send supplies to disaster stricken areas. Those who go themselves to rebuild war torn or nature destroyed places. Those who visit the sick and imprisoned and lonely. There are thousands of opportunities in this world, in this country, in our cities and in our own backyards if we believe with one heart and one mind that we are given to share. Jesus wants us to be a part of the bigger picture. He wants us to go out to all the world and preach the good news so that all the world will have everything in common. The Apostles worked for communities to live in equality. The members turned in all their possessions and they were redistributed evenly. Now how beautiful is that! And it sounds so easy and in certain ways it's exactly what many of our churches try to do. They take the offerings and redistribute them to the different ministries to teach and to preach and to feed and to make a difference. How much more can we do to be a part of these Acts? How much more can I do to be a part of this community?

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Handwritten Note

Today is the feast of St. Teresa of the Andes; a young Carmelite, the first Saint of Chile, who began an apostolate of letter-writing, sharing her thoughts on the spiritual life with people. As we all know, the art of letter-writing has been somewhat replaced by easier means of communication. I personally cannot express how much I love to receive letters. My oldest daughter is very good at writing letters and so is my sister-in-law. I should learn by their example. Handwritten notes tend to be kept, cherished and appreciated. Letter-writing tends to be taken a bit more seriously because of the effort put forth. Today we read about a young girl who made a difference in the lives of an entire community because of her writing and now, with the story of her life and her diary published, "God the Joy of My Life", all of us can read of a young girl's deepest spiritual desires to be one with Jesus. The simple act of sharing the spiritual life through letters has made this saint someone we can emulate. Take time. Write a letter. Make a difference.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Signs and Wonders

Well, obviously I love and need signs and wonders from our God. I know, I know, blessed our those who have not seen and still believe. But, I can't help it. I not only love to recognize and seek signs but as the reading from Revelations today says I also enjoy writing them down, what I have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards. Just yesterday after writing about the "pull" from Our Lady to visit Guadalupe, I was working in the bookstore and a young girl, with six children, shared that her son was diagnosed with cancer and ever since, people have just given her all sorts of religious goodies. She showed me a medal with a relic in the back that a total stranger gave her from ... Guadalupe, along with a large medal of Our Lady. I had just shared my previous story with 2 of the employees and they too couldn't believe that this woman was speaking about Our Lady of Guadalupe. Signs and wonders. Sharing stories. Not screaming from the street corners "Look at me" but writing it down for all to know how truly wonderful God is to us. He knows we believe. He knows we'll stick with Him. But, He also knows that it's an awesome feeling when it pops us right in the head. Doubting Thomas? Sometimes. Grateful servant? Most the time. Believer in signs and wonders? All the time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe and more

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but Our Lady of Guadalupe is constantly requesting my presence. I know that sounds weird but I'm telling you I keep having these huge signs that she wants me to visit her or that she wants me to reread her messages or she wants me to acknowledge her more often or something. I have to admit that I have put much more merchandise in the store to spread devotion to her because of her persistence. When I pause for a moment, I receive a card out of the blue and Our Lady is on the front. My daughter got me a rosary for my birthday (hmmm, not from our store), and when I put my eye up to the centerpiece, I can see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I included a prayer for persistence for our children in my mother's prayerbook because of St. Juan Diego's persistence. I now wear a medal of this patroness of the Americas. AND, last night when my husband came home from visiting our friend in the hospital, (I've mentioned that he went in last week suffering necrotizing fasciitis, lost much of his thigh and other parts, but started repair this week) he found that William had the tube removed from this throat and was alert and talking. He asked my husband if we three had been to GUADALUPE. I don't ever remember discussing Our Lady with him before but evidently while he was in a coma, we made a visit to Guadalupe. My husband couldn't wait to tell me the news. I felt it confirmation that he will, with continued prayers, heal. AND, the readings today speak of the uneducated men with a persistent message and Mary Magdalene and the two walking on the road with the message that Jesus lives but without a sign for His Apostles, they would not believe. Jesus had to come to them. Mary had to send roses and show herself on Juan Diego's tilma. When will I put aside over-thinking all the signs and simply believe? When will I learn to listen with my heart instead of my head? Signs all over! Simplicity. Jesus is alive and well and dwelling among us. Pray, seek forgiveness, be persistent in Faith, listen to the messages, trust and believe. From the most unlikely men and women, the messages are sent over and over. What is it she wants from me? Jesus, show me the way.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Large Loads of Fish

Well the parentals are home from Florida for a while and so there will be much more work to do at the bookstore. Somehow, right along with the Gospel today, when my mom works at the store, doing the displays and telling us what merchandise would be great for which seasons, we seem to catch a load more fish. It's uncanny. And, she does things so much more efficiently. She can suddenly appear on the shore, point to a location and bam! a huge catch. Me, I work all day in one little area, pull in a few nets with one or two little fish and think I'm doing okay. I have to think, "What will I do without her someday?" So, today and every day she is around, I listen and I learn just as those disciples did with Jesus and I flounder around until the day of her return, then I watch and listen and learn some more. You think I'd write it all down so I'd have something to follow when she's not around. Well, how brilliant. That sounds familiar. And, just as those guys in the boat today, I'll be glad she's back to clue me in one more time about how to really catch the large loads.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Keep in Short

All day yesterday, I couldn't help but keep shaking my sandals trying to get the pebbles and dirt, the distractions, away from me. In Mass, I was trying to see my children amidst all the hundreds of others. An employee buzzed to ask if he should get a sub, he didn't feel good. "Well of course." A friend called about our buddy in the hospital and I had to add on my feelings. A retreat organizer came by for comments on a recent event and I had to put in more than I needed. Shakin' my sandals all day, I couldn't seem to keep up with what Jesus wanted me to do and how He wanted me to act. And today, the reading from Acts, I'm distracted because I realize it takes Peter so long to say what he says. He preaches too many words and I am distracted by the thoughts of my mom always telling me to keep my stories short and to the point. "People only have so much time and they want a lot in a few words." I laugh because Jesus makes His points quickly and Peter doesn't but it's because Peter is trying to tell every detail and Jesus gets right on the message. My mom's right as usual. I tend to skim through Acts and hit the highlights and read every word from Jesus. I guess with all the distractions in my world, I'd better learn to focus and relax with the Word, or stick to the cliff notes. For now, I'm sticking with the short messages, at least until I get these distractions taken care of.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Walk to Emmaus

This morning I find myself walking the road with Jesus and as He is explaining all the parts of Scripture that is pertinent to His life and my understanding of the recent events, I am distracted by the dirt from the road getting inside my sandals. Suddenly a pebble gets between my toes and I'm stopping and trying to get it out, then walking quickly to catch up and stopping again. I am constantly distracted. I am walking with this man and trying to listen to his incredible story and the dirt and the rocks are keeping me from hearing all he has to say. But, I do keep following and trying to listen. The guys walking with us have invited him for dinner so I go along too despite the fact that I have nine million other things I should be doing. As we sit together, he breaks a piece of bread and hands it to me and in that moment, I realize that He is Jesus, the Christ, the One who has come to save us.
We are a very fortunate people who have the opportunity to receive Jesus every single day of our lives. I stay so darn distracted and feel like I have nine million things to do and yet, He is there, waiting for me to take the opportunity. He knows about the dirt and the pebbles and yet, He waits for me. He continues the story and He persists in the teachings and He walks the long road with me every single day. And me, I'm just constantly trying to catch up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Weeping? Me?

"Woman, why are you weeping?"
I'm known to be somewhat of a tough chick. As a matter a fact, most people for some reason think I have no feelings at all. But, I do. I have always covered up most of what I'm feeling with a joke or two or three. So, this morning when Jesus asked me why I was weeping, I immediately responded, "I'm not weeping. What makes you think I'm weeping?" And in response, I can hear Him say, "Hey. It's okay. It's me. I know your heart. I know you have feelings. I know you are terribly worried about your husband's best friend lying in the hospital and what is going to happen when he wakes up and finds out what condition he's in. I know you're worried about his son. I see you tear up when you give Communion to your family members. I know it all and it's all okay. But as you weep, know that I am present. I am with Wilson and I am with William and Allen and your children. All will be well because of my dying and my rising from the dead. All will be well." And you know, "I believe."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Sunday

Each year my wonderful husband has the same comment about Easter morning Mass. "Why are all these people in my seat?" He cracks me up but I do understand that a newborn baby and the miracle of a man rising from the dead do tend to bring crowds from all over who normally are just not there. Families pour in from neighboring towns to be together to witness the sites and sounds of the good news of the day. I love the "standing room only" feeling (as long as I'm not the one standing) and I'm sure there's joy in Heaven to see families gather that fill an entire pew or two. I looked down the way and truly missed the one single spot where my oldest should have been. She spent Easter with my parents in Naples, FL. Poor kid! Mass, breakfast and a long day on the beach with my parents. I'm sure she missed us too. But all was well. We miss the days of huge Easter egg hunts and traveling from grandparents to grandparents eating more ham than we do in an entire year but somehow, the calmness of just our family was okay too. I love when we are all together, some 40 something of us and I love when it's just us. This year other people were looking at members of my family filling other churches and wondering, "Why are all these people in my seat?"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

St. Isidore of Seville

St. Isidore: "An amazingly learned man, he was sometimes called "The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages" because the encyclopedia he wrote was used as a textbook for nine centuries. He required seminaries to be built in every diocese, wrote a Rule for religious orders and founded schools that taught every branch of learning. Isidore wrote numerous books, including a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of Goths and a history of the world—beginning with creation! He completed the Mozarabic liturgy, which is still in use in Toledo, Spain. For all these reasons Isidore (as well as several other saints) has been suggested as patron of the Internet."
"He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead."
I am one of those people who have to be careful not to spend too much time on the internet. I have a tendency to get caught up in all the great messages of other blogs and other tweets. I also have a face book page and website for the bookstore. Please, no one introduce me to another social network. However, I must say that I feel I have grown spiritually from others who have been "commissioned to preach" and to share their stories. I feel blessed to read about how other moms teach their children about Jesus. I am fortunate to hear what others are reading and how they have been moved by the writings from the Fathers of the Church and the Saints. Soooo...St. Isidore, be my guide. Help me to use the internet for a good purpose and help us all to grow in the grace and peace of Christ, teaching and preaching and sharing His Love with one another. Last night as the dark "tomb" of our Church was brought to new life with the procession of lighted candles we were reminded of our New Life in the Resurrection. May we enlighten one another by sharing this One Faith, this One Life. Happy Easter to all and may St. Isidore watch over our efforts.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Catholics

As customers fill our bookstore this week looking for just the right gifts for their candidates or their sponsors, I am blessed with constant encounters of those seeking Jesus. I am fortunate to hear the stories of fathers joining their wife and their children after 52 years. I am fortunate to hear of a young daughter, son and dad, joining their mother. I am fortunate to be around Catholics excited about their Faith and their Faith journey with their candidates this past year. The atmosphere is always different during this Holy Week. There is a Spirit that is contagious. Non-Catholics as well as Catholics feel it as they enter through the front door. People want to share their stories and the stories of others. The husband who's wife is expecting and who is joining the Church tonight and celebrated their one year anniversary last weekend. He wanted me to know. The woman who is not Catholic but her daughter is joining the Church and she was very uncomfortable coming in and yet better because she did. She wanted me to know. The woman in the parking lot giving change to one passing by and as she put it into his hands, said a short little prayer with him. She wanted me to know that it was her choice and all was well. I am fortunate that God has put me in this place to listen to his people and to care for his people and to feel His Spirit through them. I am fortunate to be a part of a Faith that is rich in tradition and story. I look forward to this week every year and I've never been disappointed. New Catholics and all who have been around during their Faith journey refill my cup. I am truly blessed. Just wanted you to know.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Washing of the Feet

Last night I must say was filled with crowded emotions. My eight year old loved the idea of going to this Mass, thinking for sure she would get picked to get her feet washed. I had to break the news that the selection had been made previous to our arrival. I thought she might burst out a comment when she noticed a young boy getting his feet washed. I had to hold her up to see most of what was going on and I could tell by the look on her face that she loved being held that closely as if she were a younger child. My thoughts drifted way back to the time in my childhood when my brother Phillip was chosen to have his feet washed as a young boy. He was premature at birth and had very little fingernails and toenails and what he did have were soft and to me always in disarray. Besides the fact that he was not that much older and he was a boy and his feet stunk. I was worried the priest may kill over when he came upon Phillip. I remember my mother taking great care to have clean, if not new, socks and shoes for Phillip for the big day. I don't really know why I was so bothered by the occasion but my brother has since died at the age of 33 and I feel sure he is now at the Heavenly banquet. (And I bet his feet don't stink anymore either.) And I thought of how all our cares, all our worries small or large can be brought right here to the table and be taken care of. So, as we processed after Mass following Jesus, we came around to the empty Tabernacle and the extinguished Sanctuary Lamp. It was beautiful and as I knelt I prayed for my husband's friend who was admitted to the hospital Tuesday with necrotizing fasciitis, a serious flesh eating bacteria. I began to cry as I thought about him waking in the next week or so and finding the parts of his flesh peeled away in the attempts to save his life. I cried as I thought about Jesus' flesh being torn away as He is scourged. I was glad to be in this emotional state, in this Chapel, with this community, with this child and I was glad for my parents who taught me to leave it all right here, at His feet.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First Communion

A friend since grade school came beboppin' in the store yesterday with a smile and a gift. (Said her father found this in his desk and had been bugging her to get it to me ever since.) It was an old First Communion book. "Open it." The first page had penciled on the top 1.50. I laughed because I thought the point was to see how inexpensive the First Mass Books were from years ago or the fact that the handwriting looked just like one of the ladies who "came with the bookstore" when my mother bought it from the Diocese. She said, "No. Open it." A few pages further was a holy card of the Holy Family with my signature on the back in my own handwriting and a small piece of paper that read, Eucharistic Prayer No. 2 Acclamation No. 1 Gospel & Epistle pages 364-365. Gospel-363. IT WAS MY FIRST COMMUNION PRAYER BOOK FROM 1968. We immediately started reminiscing about playing Mass at her dining room table when we were young. (The cutting of the bread into round hosts and the readings and the songs.) I couldn't believe after all these years that this man who is suffering so immensely battling cancer not only found my First Mass Book but also found it important to get it back to me. Me, the punk little kid who always showed up in dirty, bare feet, knocking at his door at all hours and asking if his daughter could come out and play. He made my entire Holy Week because just like Jesus who thought of me during his days of suffering, this man thought of me. This month is my youngest child's First Communion, the last to finally be old enough to receive. I can't wait to share with her my new found First Communion Book along with a few stories from the past. A few words in the Liturgy may have changed but the same Jesus will be present to her on that day who has been present to me every day since 1968. The opportunity to receive Him every single day since that first day is why many people come to the Catholic faith as they will this Easter. This weekend is an exciting time for all of us and as I go to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus just as the Apostles at the Last Supper today and just as the new Catholics at the Easter Vigil and just as I did for the first time many years ago, I will remember this man and my First Holy Communion.