Thursday, January 30, 2014

Many Discoveries On Pilgrimage

During this Month of Pilgrimage, I have discovered:

1. I mean well but well, I have a difficult time following through. Just found an email from my friend at The Shrine of Christ's Passion where I was supposed to send a donation for Christmas in memory one of of my mother's best friends. Well shoot. I have to do that tomorrow.

2. Funerals make me cry and I know the loved one is in a better place. I know. But, no matter how old or how sick or how tragic, that person was someone's mother or father or child or friend and for those who will miss them, I cry.

3. I am good every day from about 5 A.M. to 6 ... A.M. Sometimes 6:30. And, I have a good little time from 8 A.M. to 8:30 A.M. This has been a harsh finding on my journey. I thought I was headed in the right direction. Ya know. Toward Sainthood. (ha ha wishful thinking) But, as I write each morning and pray and reflect, I realize that once others rise and shine and enter into my zone, I'm awful all over again. To this I say, thank you Lord for giving me a brand new chance every day. Thank You for Mercy and unconditional Love. And, tomorrow, I'll start all over again.

4. I have always admitted that I'm just not a good parent like other parents and all I can do is pray for my children and leave the rest to the Almighty. Which, some of that is true, but... I was speaking with Mary last week, the typical request for her to hold my children in Her Mantle, and I said, "What do you want from me?" Suddenly, as clear as a bell, (I don't hear voices, don't worry) I heard in my heart, "Just be their mother. Just be their mother." For the first time ever, and I have been a mom for 25 years, I did not say, "I'm not good at that." As a matter of fact I just said, "well, okay then" took my walking papers and left. (It's not as easy as it sounds, just sayin)

5. I tend to put a lot of balls in the air at one time. I am realizing how important the people who help me in my day to day tasks really are. It is important to allow others to do their job and let them help when they are able.

6. I love doing things for people or making other people's day but where I fall short is that I love to be recognized for it, thanked, patted on the back, see the smiles. I realize that is a part of being human but help me let it go already. Who cares who gets the credit or the recognition as long as people are better because of the work? I really need to grow up.

7. This month of pilgrimage is coming to an end. Where in the world did the month of January go? I have enjoyed the daily journeys in my own neighborhood, my own home, my own workplace despite the bitter cold. It has been very enlightening. I have loved the people Christ has sent to walk with me and hope that I can be more aware everyday of those He continues to send. Why are they here with me? What am I to do for them? There are no chance encounters. Pay attention. Be aware. Enjoy the journey and more importantly discover all He has to give. We do not walk alone.

Picture: my mother's artwork Jean Dortch

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Journeying with Pope Saint John Paul II

Sitting with my salesman yesterday, chit chatting about new product, could not have prepared me for the journey. I bought the new Pope Saint John Paul II holy cards and medals. April 27th will be here before we know it. How cool that I have actually shaken hands with this Saint! But today, I hear this story:

"We were to send the monstrance blessed by Pope John Paul II out to Pope John Paul II High School yesterday for use during Adoration. I called the principal to see that they had a Consecrated Eucharist to fit the Luna knowing that the priest and deacon were on the March for Life in Washington. Oops. They did not so I offered to bring all they needed for Adoration and they informed me that they had a visiting priest from Montreal who was going to say Mass for the students and have Exposition of the Sacrament. It was moving to walk into a gymnasium of young students, all kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, all completely silent. After some time, the Monstrance was taken to the Chapel and the priest prayed the Mass. As the homily began, again, complete silence. Years earlier, after spending time doing mission work, this priest was told he had a brain tumor and had 3 months to live. He and many other priests and bishops traveled to Rome to meet with Pope John Paul II and in a crowded hallway in the Vatican, the priest's eyes met those of Pope John Paul II. He came to him and simply asked, "What can I do for you?" Pope John Paul II listened as the priest told his story and then asked to pray with him. With his hands on his head, they prayed for quite some time in the midst of the crowded hallway. Sweat poured from his face and he felt drained. (kind of like 'the touch of the hem of his cloak') The priest beside him asked if he was a Bishop or something. 'No, just a priest'. 'Well something's going on.'"
As the story goes, during his next doctor visit, this priest was completely clear of the tumor. Wow!

What a God-incidence that this visiting priest to our Diocese, who was helping at a local Parish because our priest had gone home to India for a visit, was called to say Mass at John Paul II High School, where the Monstrance, blessed by Pope John Paul II, was used for Exposition by a priest who had been cured by Christ through the institution of the hands and prayers of Pope John Paul II. I say, WOW! Miracle of Miracles! The principal got up after Mass and said, "I know that this looks like it's been planned. But it has not. I feel bad but I do not even know your name. Father, what is your name?" "Fr. Peter."

As Sister spoke, I was visualizing the Vatican, the hallway, the people, the priest and the Pope. I was journeying where I had journeyed before and yet led to places I had never been. Today, in our Gospel, Jesus told the Apostles to prepare a boat because the crowd was pressing in on Him, so many sick being brought to be cured, just to touch Him. Just a touch. A brief encounter. And, true Faith in the One who can heal.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Journeying to Find the "Answers" in Life, Does Not Have to be Some Big, Well-Planned Trip

Since watching the movie, The Way, I have been thinking about looking into a pilgrimage down the Camino de Santiago. When I watched Eat, Love, Pray, I wanted to look into a pilgrimage of prayer, like to the Holy Land with a group led by a priest or to Guadalupe or something. Actually, anytime I watch a movie or hear of another group going on a trip that "changed their lives forever," I'm ready to jump on board the next flight. I am constantly looking for the answers, a quick fix, something more. And, in some ways, I believe that is a good thing...searching for something more. But what I am finding, as I really pay attention to my day and the people I believe God is putting in my path, is that I definitely do not have to go anywhere to find the answers to the questions in my life. The Answer is in our midst day in and day out, in the people we meet, in our church Tabernacles, in the Breaking of the Bread. Where else do we really need to look for the answers but right in our own back yard? Besides, there's no place like home. There's no place like home.

As my son's class is finishing their 8th grade school year, parents are asked to put together pictures that will be put on a video shown at the class banquet at the end of the year. Since he is number 5 of 6 children, I had to scroll through many, many pictures to get to the ones I wanted to put in the video. I have boxes of pictures of my children, never organized, always a guess as to who some of the baby pictures are because they all look alike. I had more fun looking through those pictures and laughing and loving the fact that my children truly love one another. Raising six children, and I still have a ways to go, has been a journey within itself. As I look at these pictures, it's funny, but I remember all the good stuff. Even during the most trying years, we found something to laugh about or something to be thankful for in one another. As I journeyed, all I could do was thank God for these awesome children and their father and their grandparents who have been such an important part of their lives. Right here, on my dining room floor, with pictures piled around me, I took a long wonderful trip, I felt the hand of God, I received answers, I realized my life has been changed forever and I remembered He is right here and there's no place like home. There's no place like home.

Monday, January 13, 2014


"A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance." 

This word "pilgrimage" is stuck in my head. Maybe I have been reading too many blogs this New Year about people finding their "word" for the year or something. I'm not entirely sure why but it keeps reappearing. So I looked at the "online" definition and found the words "journey" and the phrase "search of spiritual significance". Hmmm. I feel like I have been doing that for the past two years working on my new book that will be released in March, "Visiting Mary: Her U.S. Shrines and their Graces". But when I try to tell myself that the word has been "experienced", something in my head keeps telling me, "No, not like that kind of pilgrimage." So, here we go. I am embracing the word "pilgrimage" for at least the month of January and maybe for the year but since I have a difficult time finishing anything, I'm starting with it for a month. I am paying attention to the daily journey, to where I believe the good Lord is leading me each day. Not just the rise and shine and give God your glory, glory journey but the "where are you going and why are you going there" journey and "who are these people God continually is putting in your path" journey.

What if we treated every day as if we were on a pilgrimage, a journey, a search of spiritual significance? What if we paid strict attention to the path, to the people, to the journey? What if nothing passed us by that did not get noticed as significant? I'll be writing each day of my pilgrimage in my journal just like I've always done. I'll share anything of great significance, if there is any, and together we will see if this word is in my head because it's, well, my head or if it is there for a purpose.

I wrote the above before taking the kids to school and going to Mass. The Magnificat offered in morning prayer, "I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them." The first reading from Samuel tells us of Elkanah as a man who "regularly went on pilgrimage from his city to worship the Lord". I take it for a sign.  Today we begin "ordinary time" and I begin my daily recognition of an ordinary "pilgrimage".

Thursday, January 9, 2014

In Sync

I worked for several years putting together a little daily meditation, Jesus At My Side, published by Our Sunday Visitor. I gathered all the words in Scripture that were spoken by Jesus and meditated on how they pertain to today. I am no Scripture scholar and do not pretend to be. No, these are not interpretations of what I believe Jesus was trying to tell us. The book is merely what I believe Jesus wants me to do with His words. Each year as I meditate on these words, I hear something new. The idea of the book is that readers would take His words and use them in their own ways, meditate on what He is saying to them today. My meditations are merely an idea of what I have heard from Him.
Today and many times, Jesus words are right in sync with the Gospel reading for the day. Again, we hear about "a year acceptable to the Lord". Again, I shall try to make this year acceptable.

January 9
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because He has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."  Luke 4:18,19

A year acceptable to the Lord! As we walk around or watch television , we can easily see how unacceptable our world is today. In our communities, we see children who cannot play together and neighbors who squabble over property lines and adults talking bad about one another, slandering names. In our cities we see violence and poverty and stealing and cheating. In our countries we see war and death and destruction. Unacceptable. Prayer is the answer. Prayer changes things.  Mary has delivered the message more than once to pray the rosary for peace; for our neighborhoods, for our cities, for our countries. 

Jesus tells us that He has come to clear up all these problems. He is right here in our midst day in and day out and He was sent to free the world of our own misery. To bring glad tidings.  To liberate.  To recover. To free. We must believe in Jesus’ power to save our neighborhoods and our cities and our countries. He is sent to free us from our blindness and to open our eyes to the gifts He offers. Through Him, we can make a change. Listen to His words. Help make this a year acceptable to the Lord. Pray.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

“Come, and you will see.” Paying Attention to His Words

Jesus' words in John's Gospel today call for us to make a move. "We are constantly beckoned by Jesus and today is no different.  Listen to His voice.  He says, “Come”. Come to Him and you will see that He is the Way.  He is the Truth. He is the Light.  He will lead us and guide us and together we will make a difference in a world that oftentimes seems filled with difficulties.  In this particular passage the Apostle has asked Him where He is staying and on this particular day we know that He is staying with us.  He is staying in our days and in our nights.  He is staying in our good times and in our bad times.  He is staying in our hearts. Come, and you will see." Jesus At My Side (Our Sunday Visitor)