Thursday, April 25, 2013

"Let's get better together."

My 7th grader joined a spring basketball team which consists of boys from other Catholic grade schools. I love it. I have always said to my kids as they played against other teams that someday they will all play together on the same High School team so watch the way they treat one another. Hmmm. Holds true in life in general for the most part. The way we treat each other may come around to bite us if we don't watch ourselves. A teacher we're rude to could someday be our customer, a neighbor our lawyer or our judge, a person we cut off in traffic our co-worker on a project, a homeless person our roommate in Heaven (if such a thing), etc etc. You get my drift. And that's just what I'm doing...drifting.

So, the coach for this team sends emails which often end, "Let's get better together" and I have found myself using this in the daily grind we call life. The other day I had a rep from a publisher call and ask if I had 10 minutes to answer some survey questions so that they could better themselves. I did not but I did. He said the publisher had hired an outside team to come in and help them run their company more efficiently. I have been there so I knew how important it was to give this survey honest answers. They were not difficult questions for me because I have been doing this over 30 years and I still work every day on many of the same things I was being asked. At the end of the questioning, I said, "Let's get better together" and I meant it. The publishing and book selling industry has gotten quite, may I say, worrisome. With the closing of many major bookstores and the change of buying habits for discounting and for convenience, our industry has changed and to thrive, I wholeheartedly believe we must work together. I like my new mantra. I like it for my business as well as for my home as I work with my husband and my children to have "something more" and to believe that there is so much more. I like it for the world today which is quite worrisome in and of itself.

As I knelt at the end of Mass this morning after the awesome readings from the Letter of St. Peter (cast all your worries on Him, be vigilant, clothe yourselves with humility) and from the Gospel of Mark (go into the whole world and proclaim) and I heard, "I want you to preach the Gospel, to write and to speak , but I also want you be preach with your actions, by example." As St. Francis said, "Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words."

"Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel." (1Cor 9:16)

Short of it is, there is much work to do and we need to do it and we need Jesus Christ and we need one another. 

"Let's get better together."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lives of the Saints

I love reading and writing about the lives of the Saints, those men and women who have gone before us, examples of incredible faith, giving themselves completely to Christ. To me, their stories are inspiring no matter how simple or how grand. As I have said before, I believe they intercede for us. They've been here. They get us. They understand. Many overcame tremendous difficulties, many turned their lives around completely and many have changed lives.

The bookstore is in it's busiest time of the year. Communions, Confirmations, Graduations, Easter, RCIA, and Weddings keep us running up and down those four flights pretty much all day. I venture down from the office many times during the day to check inventory for reordering or to fill orders phoned in or pulled from the website or just to check and make sure the customers are served. Yesterday, much to my delight, I happened upon a woman in the basement looking for "the medal of a woman saint who her mother used to pin to her pillow when she was sick". I know right now that all readers are trying to guess, Rita?, Agnes?,  Lucy?, Anne? Well, I went with the Miraculous Medal and explained a little of the story of Catherine Laboure. The woman's daughter was in a stroller and kept screaming out jibberish amongst the word mommy so we walked closer to her and that's when the story began.

"You know, it's funny how having children makes you remember the things your mother used to say and do when you were young. I remember my mom pinning some medal to our pillows but I cannot remember the saint. I am going to definitely get this Miraculous Medal and this medal of St. Nicholas. When my mother was pregnant with me, she got sick and had to be put to bed. I was delivered very early and with me, my brother who was still born. My mother felt like it was something she had done or not done that made my brother die until, in a dream, St. Nicholas came to her and told her that she would get my brother back. Soon after the dream she became pregnant with my younger brother. She named him Nicholas. You know, he is the patron saint of children." "Yes ma'am, I know." "My mother is not alive to tell me who the saint was but little by little I remember the things she did and I want to do them too.Thank you for your help." "Oh no, thank you."

People who have gone before us... Tell the stories. Ask for intercession. Pass on the traditions. Spread faith.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Called to Witness

"We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
The reading today from the Acts of the Apostles talks about their witness to the Life of Christ and how they, because of that witness, must continue to preach and to teach all they have seen and heard. This passage reminds me of  a person I met this past weekend while on vacation with a couple of my children.
Two of my daughters and one of their friends and I spent Easter week with my parents in Naples, FL and had the time of our lives. Truly awesome. My oldest daughter met us for the weekend and then one of my sisters came down for the week. Friday, the three girls and I left paradise and ventured across the state and drove up the east coast of Florida, settling in St. Augustine for Friday night and most of Saturday. Well, little did we know that it would be the Rhythm and Ribs Fest weekend as well as the Ponce de Leon Celebration. In other words, No Room in the Inn! But, we found a room on our second try, the last room left, 2 queens, a mile from the old downtown area...perfect. (no doubt Who had a hand in that) We went to the festival Friday night and ate ribs and walked around listening to the music. The next day we walked around downtown.
I love this city and all the history and all the cool stuff to do. We have to go back because we could not possibly get it all done. I think the highlight for the girls was climbing to the top of the lighthouse. The highlight for me was the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. The whole idea that we were standing where the first Mass was prayed really moved me. We walked to the Great Cross and the statue of Fr. Lopez. We walked around the Sorrows of Mary outdoor stations and saw the Bell Tower and the graves of the Sisters of St. Joseph. We visited the gift shop and prayed in the Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche. Then, we headed out and toured the town. On the way past the Castle, I suggested we try to walk along the bay back to the Shrine where we had parked. We were led through a neighborhood which came up to the Shrine from the back way. Immediately as we entered the property, we came upon the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Having a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, I felt the gift. As we walked to the car, I told the girls that I'd like to go to the Church. We went to the Museum first and found out that the Church was closed on the weekends except for Sunday Mass. As I began talking to the woman there, I found out much more about all we had seen. As we talked, she revealed that she was a Sister of St. Joseph. Sr. Bernard Joseph was very enthusiastic about the history of St. Augustine and especially about Our Lady of La Leche. It was like she was jumping out of her skin wanting me to know more and to love the people and the places as she loves them. It was quite a moving experience to listen to her and to watch her witness to all she has seen and heard. I asked her if there were any recent stories about Our Lady and she said there are many. Once she was going out of the Museum and a girl was sitting outside with her twins and asked her if she worked at the Shrine. When Sister said she did, the girl proceeded to explain that she was back after 5 years to thank Our Lady. She was told she could not have children so she had come to the Shrine to pray for help from Our Lady who blessed her twofold. Sister said there are many stories like that from women who return in thanksgiving and, as she said, "those are just the ones we hear. There is no telling how many stories we never hear." We talked about everything from history to the blessings from a Mother who loves us beyond measure to the importance of raising children in the Faith and bringing them to places such as this to witness to the Faith of others. Sister is obviously filled with the Holy Spirit and in her words and in her actions always ready and willing to be a witness to the "things" of Christ.