Thursday, November 6, 2014

At the End of the Season, Do They Know More About Jesus Christ?

All is calm in our house right now. Well, as calm as it can get anyway. I just returned from Lake Barkley in Cadiz, KY exhibiting at the Mid-South Leadership conference. I was fortunate to catch Mass on Monday, the Feast of St. Martin de Porres, where I heard a wonderful homily on humility. Of course, St. Martin was a wonderful example of humility, doing menial tasks and serving all around him with great love. The reading from St. Paul spoke of humility, "Do nothing out of selfishness...humbly regard others as more important than yourselves..." The priest shared that as leaders, as coaches and teachers and parents, we want our children to do well. We want them to win, we want them to have good grades, we want them to be the best and we want to be able to brag on them. Who doesn't? But in the end, are we not, just a little, really bragging on ourselves...the good job we did as the coach or the teacher or the parent? Aren't we apt to think, look what I did? Look what my kid can do because of all the time I have spent on him. And in the end, does any of it really matter except that he has learned the two most important things we are to teach our children...Love of God and Love of Neighbor? At the end of it all, does he or she know Jesus Christ? Is he or she closer to Him in some way?

This was the perfect message for me at the perfect time. We have just finished volleyball season and are about to enter basketball season. I love to win. I am way too competitive. Did I say Way? I mean Way! I cannot stand to see any of my children struggle on any court. When they do, I prefer to sit by myself in the corner of the stands. I do not want to hear the comments. I can see just fine. My children on the other hand, just love to play. They are not in it for the kill. They are out there to have fun with their friends, playing a game they love to play until it becomes too stressful and competitive. I am trying to be more like them because at the end of the season, really, what does it all matter but the way we treat one another, the way we accept our wins and our loses? That is truly the way I want to feel and I would be better at it, if we could just win all the time! But, we can't. We are not going to the big leagues. We are learning to get along with others and take care of our bodies. We are learning to work as a team. We are training for the long haul for which it would be good that in the end, we know more about loving God and loving others.

So, while all is calm in our sports world, I am in training for the next season, which is approaching quickly. Humility is not my strong suit. I have a lot to learn and Fr. gave me plenty to think about for the off season. This really has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with my children.

Win or lose, at the end of the season, at the end of the day, of the month, of the year, do they know more about Jesus Christ?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

St. John Paul the Great Feastday...yesterday

As I read my Magnificat on the morning of the Feast Day of St. John Paul II, I could not help but imagine this picture my daughter took last week from her bed as she rose to get ready for school.

Prayer for the Morning - Psalm 19
For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays. (Mal 3:20)

"Saint John Paul II liked to quote Saint Augustine: 'We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!' Through years of painful unity with Christ's cross, he focused always on the Resurrection. Just as every Sunday is a little Easter, so is every single sunrise a reminder of God's glorious victory over sin and death."

"The daybreak from on high will visit us!" (Lk 1:78)

"You are our light and our salvation, Lord. Through the intercession of Saint John Paul II, grant us light to see your truth and wisdom and to love what we see, that we may walk in your ways today and all the days of our life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

Saint John Paul II loved our youth, spent time with our youth, talked with our youth. May the impact he had on our young people, and still has through his writings, give them and us the strength to share the light of Christ in our lives so that, as we read today, we may, like Jesus, "set the earth on fire."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Saint John Paul the Great

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves is the book we are reading and discussing in a mom's group at St. Cecilia Academy where my daughter goes to school. I hesitated joining the group because of work and morning Mass. But, after reading the first couple of chapters and learning so much about the suppression of the Polish people by the Nazis and then by the Communists, and the struggles of Karol's family during that time, I just wanted to read more and hear what others had to say. It was very emotional for me.

The first day, as I passed by the St. Henry School Chapel after dropping my 7th grader off, I bemoaned the fact that I was missing Mass. I actually asked Jesus to come to me in some other way. As I arrived at the high school office, I was told that the book group was not meeting until 9:15 due to a PTO meeting. Well, darn. I had some work to do at the Aquinas library so I went over and then decided to go to the Atrium of Overbrook School where Sr. Mary Charles teaches the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I'd been promising to visit. As I entered, she was teaching some young students about St. Jerome and the importance of his work of translating the Scriptures and the importance of having the Scriptures available in every language for all people. Then, she holds up a few bibles in foreign languages and talks to the children and says, "And, this bible is Polish and we are going to get Sr. Mary Karol to read a little bit." Oh, the beauty of the sound of the Polish language! I cannot express how deeply I was touched as she read Scripture and I kept thinking that here was this sister from Poland whose parents, or some part of her family, were true survivors and who kept the faith and passed it on, obviously, to their daughter, who appropriately took the name of one of the great Saints of her Country. Tears formed as she spoke. Coincidence? Not. I truly felt the presence of God in that place.
Then, the children were allowed to go to the different areas of the Atrium and spend time. I walked around and watched as two boys put together the liturgical calendar, another set the altar for mass, some girls showed me about making unleaven bread and others were working with maps. It was beautiful and so fulfilling.

So far, we've had two group meetings and are on Chapters 6 and 7 for the next time. I have journaled all along the way writing quotes from this great Saint and from those with whom he worked. He is definitely a Saint for our times and this book is full of information to help us on our spiritual journeys, no matter our vocation.

"The more ready you are to give yourselves to God and to others, the more you will discover the Authentic Meaning of Life." St. John Paul II

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Maggie Valley Morning

Last day in the North Carolina Mountains and the morning greets me with such beauty! 
Thank you Lord!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maggie Valley, NC

Just an update. Yesterday during Mass at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, in my temporary rolling hills, seven people were consecrated to Mary after 33 Days of Morning Glory.

We also had some rain which made the "stream" outside my bedroom start to flow and flow and flow.


And, a little early morning fog set in amidst the trees, with leaves beginning to change colors.

God is good. Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady of the Rosary
Mary, Lady of the Rosary, as we meditate on your life, may we imitate your love. You never hesitate to reach out to the poor, to the less fortunate, and to the children. You serve all in their individual needs. Help us to work to restore those who have left the Church. Teach us ways to strengthen faith in our families so that we can reach out to others. Help us to bring your children back, our families back, our world back under your loving care.

Many times when we think we “got nothing,” we may just have it all. When we let things settle, answers come. When we rest, our vision is clear. When we pray, good things happen. 

from Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces

Monday, October 6, 2014

St. Margaret Church - Maggie Valley, NC

Each year at this time I travel to the hills of North Carolina and set up an entire store for the priest of the Diocese of North Carolina while they are on retreat in Maggie Valley at the Living Waters Retreat Center. I set up yesterday for about 4 hours and finished this morning in time to go to mass at St. Margaret's Church on the hill behind the Retreat Center. There were 8 of us including the priest and the deacon. Father read directly from the Magnificat for the beginning and for part of the homily. I can not say enough about the full reverence of the Sacrifice of the Mass despite the small crowd. Of course, size should not matter. We said some extra prayers after the homily and at the end of Mass. Prayers needed in our world. Prayers for peace and justice and safety. As the priest served Communion, of course, he personalized each offering except for me. I thought it beautiful, communal. If you look closely at the top area of the picture, you can see Christ crucified.
Outside, as I was going to the van, I snapped this -
That's what I'm stuck with for the week. I do love this place but by tomorrow I'll be missing my kids like crazy. So great for a couple of days, then so miserable for the rest. Oh well, the area is amazing and I just wanted to share, not whine. I'll head back home Thursday. Usually by now the leaves are turning. Soon. God Bless our priests especially in areas like this where there are so many small mission churches, or so it seems.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Oh If I Could Only Keep My Mouth Shut...From Today's Reading

Then Job answered the LORD and said:

Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
Though I have spoken once, I will not do so again;
though twice, I will do so no more.

I have been up and down a couple of nights stressing over a situation, as mom's can do. The first time I went for help with this "situation", my plea was taken totally wrong and it made matters worse. The second time I went for help with this matter the person I asked thought I was commenting on the way they were handling things. This is why my teaching degree sits in the drawer unused. I could never really get through to others what I wanted to say. When will I ever learn to just keep my mouth shut? Then, today's reading came across my early morning screen and I just have to thank God again for reminding me that it is just not about me. Life is more about how we treat one another, how we handle things as difficulty arises and yes, how we should go to Him for help and He will give us all we need. I so needed this. 

"Lord, help me to close my mouth, get on my knees and to listen to Your Words."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

St. Therese of Lisieux

“I will follow you wherever you go.” Luke 9:57

 On this Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux, I feel like these words from Scripture match her life precisely.

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me a rose
from the heavenly garden
and send it to me
as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
ask God to grant the favors
I now place with confidence
in you hands
( mention your special prayer request here )
St. Therese, help me to always believe
as you did, in God's great love for me,
so that I may imitate your "Little Way" each day. Amen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

No Words

Seriously, after a month, still, No WORDS.

May Our Lady fill you with peace on this day honoring Our Lady's Basilica, St. Mary Major!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Idea and the Reality

I have had plenty of time to think this week. My husband and two boys have been away taking care of my daughter's house and dog while she and her sisters have been in Florida with my mom. The idea of being alone for a week was amazing. I would wake early as I usually do and work on my manuscript, go to Mass, then head to work. About 4:30 each day, I would get a call from my dad about where we should meet for dinner, close the store, enjoy time with my him and then head home to the dog and more writing time...and of course, Vanderbilt Baseball. Truly, I did enjoy a couple of days of the peace and quiet. But in reality, I MISS MY KIDS. I truly feel that they are just a huge part of my writing process. For some reason, when they are here and I have to squeeze in quiet time and work around all the "things" they "have to" do, I get more done. The idea of writing in a little cabin in the woods is just great, but the reality is that I believe I need the craziness. Who knew?

This idea/reality living is handed down from generation to generation in many families. I hear it all the time. People tell me, "If I could be alone for a week, I could..." and "If I had the money, I would..." or "You know what we should do, ship everyone off and ..." Well, I'm just saying, that some of us, probably most of us, just work better amidst the crazy daily grind of life.

I've been reading quite a bit about our Catholic way of life and by the way, being Catholic/Christian is a way of life. I know that without all the Sacraments and Sacramentals that make up my Catholic way, I would probably be okay for a couple of days but I would miss all the "things" that have become a part of who I am much in the same way that I MISS MY KIDS. I would miss all the little things that bring me closer to Christ.  I love praying the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross. I love visits in the Chapel and praying the novena to St. Joseph. And speaking of St. Joseph, I read about the life of St. Andre this week and realize that Joseph is an awesome intercessor for healing as well as many other needs. I love the daily readings, morning prayer and being able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion every day. I love asking St. Anthony to help me find the things I've lost. I love lighting the candle before I write in front of the Blessed Mother statue that was my grandmother's. I could go on and on but the bottom line is that I love my faith. I love the journey. I love the Catholic way of life. And, I barely touch all it has to offer. I still have a lot to learn about all that has been handed down.

This idea that I could write more, that I could be more effective and more efficient if I were just left on my own is just that, an idea. This idea that if I had all the time that I spend on kids and husband and house and prayer, life would be easier, better, less crazy, is just that, an idea that is not my reality. In reality, it is all those "things" and more that make up my wonderful, full, chaotic, fun Catholic way of life. It is all those "things" and people that make me love the journey and I wouldn't trade any of it for all the peace and quiet in the world.  And, just sayin', I MISS MY KIDS.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Working in a Family Business

Last night I got all cozy in bed and suddenly heard one of my older daughters in the hallway. It was not late so I called out, "Hey. Just thinking about you. Glad you're home." Dinner with friends. Early night. She came into my bedroom and commented on her younger sister being awake and I said,
"Hey, come in here and rub my feet." My older girl who hates to touch feet offers, "I can rub your feet." Really! Yippee! I could not get them out from the covers fast enough. I love a good foot rub after a long day. As she massaged, she talked about her day and her night and related a story about seeing a girl she graduated from high school with at the restaurant last night. The girls asked her what she was up to and she said, "Work." "And where are you working?" Turns out, she's an event planner and her job sounds really cool and my daughter could not imagine why she didn't just offer the info on the front end. We laughed and she said, "Hey it's not like she works for her mom or something. When she asked what I was doing I told her that I am coaching high school volleyball and working at the bookstore for my mom and my dad." Again, we just laughed. The conversation ended and so did the foot massage.
While getting my hair cut this morning, it dawned on me...Hey! Wait a minute! I work for my mom! Is there something wrong with that?

Thirty-five years ago, my mom bought St. Mary's Bookstore from the Diocese of Nashville and soon after I started working with her while going to Vanderbilt/Peabody and getting my teaching degree. The entire time I worked at the store, when asked, I would say, "Oh I'm just doing this until I get a teaching job or until I can open my own gift shop." Ya know, not wanting any of my friends to think that I would work for my mom or for Jesus my whole life. After graduating, I did go back to our high school, St. Cecilia Academy, much like my daughter, and coached and taught P.E. and yet continued to work at the bookstore.  Hmmm...much like my daughter.
For almost thirty-five years, I have worked in my mother's bookstore. She has moved the store from a two room building off Harvey's Dept. Store in downtown Nashville to a 4-story, once apartment building, just out from downtown, a block from the Cathedral. She has maintained her goal of having "something for everyone" and keeping the store "beautiful", honoring the very One whose Word she spreads. Her goal has always been to bring others to Christ whether through example, by word and deed, or by providing something that could serve to change a life, such as a book or one of the wonderful sacramentals of the church that remind us to stay close to Christ through prayer and the sacraments.
People ask me all the time, "What are you doing now?" "I'm still at the Bookstore." And ya know, it's good. I want to be there. I want to continue the work. Granted, I'm nothing like my mom. I am much rougher around the edges, not near as kind (the salesmen seem to love to take a jab at that when the occasion arises), and just not as humble and sweet. But, we make it all work. I love what I do and let me just tell ya, working with family (or should I say family working with me)  is not easy. As a matter of fact, anyone who works with me should gain a ticket to Heaven just for the time they've put in here. Think about it. You work all day and go home together and over dinner remember that something was left undone and you blurt it out while cutting your pork chop and suddenly the rest of the day churns into a full conversation and despite trying not to, work is brought home and sitting with you and your kids at the supper table. Now there may be something or everything that wasn't handled the way one of you thought it should be and you become a little miffed. So, through the years you try really hard not to bring up work at every family event, but it's not easy. It has become a part of your lives. But the more we work together, the more we understand one another, the more we know how to choose between the good stuff to talk about at home and the hard stuff to talk about at work.
So, working for your mother... Yes. I am still working for my mother and I love every minute of it. I work with my husband and my mother and my sister and my sister-in-law's sister and my second daughter and for the summer, my third daughter and her friends and sometimes even my youngest daughter. My son will help with work on the website as he did last year, I'm sure.  Together we have a Family Business. Together we work on the business of Jesus. Together, as in the beginning, we work to bring others closer to Christ, to offer something for everyone and to help to build up the city of God. I hope so anyway.
And, the answer is...there is nothing wrong with that.

Our Lady of Consolation - Carey, OH

I love this display my sister and my mom put together for "Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces". I love the little grotto that was given to my grandfather many years ago in exchange for work he had done at the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL. I love the pink car to drive me around to the different grottoes and Marian shrines around the U.S. this summer. (Convertible?) I love all the brochures that the different Shrines sent to the store for us to hand out so customers might go and visit some of the beautiful shrines themselves, and the small overnight tote/hat box. How creative! I came home to this after being at the Religious Book Trade Exhibit in St. Charles, IL this past week. What a whirlwind that was but it was great to see familiar faces in the bookstore industry and to share ideas and to talk about and sign my book. I am grateful to the wonderful people at Franciscan Media/Servant Books for a great couple of days.

This weeks pictures are from the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, OH. Not only is the history behind this shrine amazing but the continual stories of conversion and healing are something to be seen for oneself. We noticed the recent dates on "things" that people "left behind". Everything from leg braces to whiskey bottles to letters and pictures are left at the church after pilgrims have been blessed by Our Lady in some way. Our Lady of Consolation is a "dressed" figure and many of those who have had a healing in some way make a dress for her in gratitude for answered prayers.
Our Lady of Consolation

Prayer Requests left for Our Lady

Dresses made in thanksgiving to Our Lady

Left Behind

Inside the original Church

Shrine Park

Stations in Shrine park

Happy Father's Day

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thank You Lisa Hendey

Just a short note of thanks to Lisa Hendey at Catholic Mom for the book review on Visiting Mary. You can read it here:

Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica

Busy weeks with my children finishing the school year, traveling for the bookstore and taking time to promote my new book, Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces has left me with little time to just sit and write. I truly miss the time but hanging with the kids and traveling and talking about our visits to the Shrines all over the U.S. has reminded me of the wonderful times we spent together over the past two years. One such time was our visit to upstate New York including the shrines and Niagara Falls. Ya know, when ya sit around and talk about driving from Nashville to Niagara Falls, ya never really think it's gonna happen. This was one of those trips where even my husband said, "Not going" and then found himself behind the wheel and pointed North. Again, we had no hotels and it was crazy crowded everywhere we went but we landed on our feet, found places to stay and had an amazing trip.

The work that Fr. Nelson Baker has accomplished in Lackawanna, NY is something to behold. The man mailed out Miraculous medals requesting donations and it was nothing short of a miracle of what all he built through those requests. If you think that the Falls are amazing, please do not miss visiting Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica along with the Museum of Fr. Nelson Baker underneath the Basilica.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our Lady of Fatima

As we drove through vineyard after vineyard approaching upstate New York, we marveled at the beauty of this part of our country. It's funny to think that when we speak of New York as a family, we think of big cities, busy streets and large businesses. This part of our journey took us to peaceful countrysides, quaint neighborhoods and Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewiston where for years people have gathered from Canada and the U.S. and other parts of the world to honor Our Mother.

On this day, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the celebration of Our Mother's appearance to three young shepherd children in a small village in Portugal, we remember Her requests that on the first Saturday of five consecutive months we confess our sins, receive Communion and pray the Rosary. We remember her promises of grace.

This Crucifix begins the Rosary where the lights make up each bead.

Our Lady on top of the Basilica

Tile Mosaic of Our Lady

The Bell Tower

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - Washington, DC

Honoring Mary from all over the world at the National Shrine
National Shrine

Our Lady of La Vang

Our Lady of Siluva

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Czestochowa

Our Lady of Brezie

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Mary, Queen of Missions

Our Lady of Charity

We Pray Together:
Mary, Mother of all Nations, help us to live as one in peace. Give us the grace we need to go out and to spread truth. Give us the grace to spread the love of your Son. In this massive place, we find hope. Help us to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation so we may be more like you, pure and holy. 

from"Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces"