Wednesday, June 12, 2013

End of the Road

My ever-declining inclination to write coupled with drastically reduced traffic leads me to conclude it is time to put this blog out of its misery.  I shouldn't even take notice of stats but I do from time to time and readership has never really returned to the levels of where they were before I went on a previous hiatus.  I have nothing to tell anyone that they don't already know and the Lord does not need my blog to know what I want to say to Him. I hope that makes sense.

Please keep up the Rosary group to the extent that it exists.  I continue to keep you and all of your intentions in my prayers.  Please do the same for me.

In Christ,

Friday, June 7, 2013

Prayer Before the Monstrance: Sacred Heart of Jesus

My Lord,

As I contemplate the First Sorrowful Mystery, I am reminded that while you begged Your Heavenly Father to remove the bitter cup of Your Passion, You also acquiesced to His Will and accepted the Cross.  As St. Paul reminded us today, You died for the ungodly.  How many times have I been ungodly?

How many times have I managed to slip out from under the cross You have asked me to carry?  How often have I forgotten that while You may have willingly embraced and accepted Your Cross, You did not for one moment enjoy it.  You did what You did for love of sinful, ungrateful mankind.  It was that very love that enabled You to kiss the cross as You received it and to hang from it in torment and agony.  Your love for us was greater than the untold suffering and pain inflicted upon You by our sins.

On this, the Feast of Your Most Sacred Heart, my petition is for You to grant me the grace that I may love you so much I will gladly endure whatever hardship, inconvenience, insult or slight You see fit to send my way.  If I must undergo trials that are bitter and full of anguish, have mercy on me, my Savior, and lend me some of Your own perseverance that I might be able to bear it for love of You and the conversion of sinners.

Without You, I am nothing.  Without You, I can do nothing.  Do not forsake Your wretched and unprofitable servant but take her heart and inflame it with love of You so that no trial may be too great, no cross too heavy to endure.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, wounded so grievously by my sins, have mercy!  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Prayer Before the Tabernacle: Always There, Waiting

Well, Lord, here I am again.  In the end, all I really have is You.  I know it is necessary for me to live in the world and sometimes take part in things that hold no value in the spiritual life.  You alone know how difficult it has been for me this past week as my oldest and cherished daughter married outside Your Church.  I love her and I really love the man she has chosen to spend her life with but my heart is troubled that she has cast You aside.  Lord, I also know that while You never stop knocking, You are not one to barge through a door uninvited.  So I have taken my lead from You - never insisting, never forcing my will but simply and gently reminding that You are always there, waiting. 

I attended the wedding Lord, and when a rainbow suddenly appeared in the sky above the garden where it took place, I wondered if You weren't sending me a sign to say: "It's OK.  I understand and will wait for both of them."  It hadn't rained Lord and I have never seen a rainbow that wasn't preceded by a storm but I thank You just the same.  You know that I never felt further away from You than I did this week, even though I know You are always there, waiting. 

And even though Your Most Holy Name was not mentioned or acknowledged even once during all of the speeches, toasts, etc, I know that You shed Your light and Your protection upon us all, bringing us safely through.  I know that even if it seems You have been forgotten, You will not forget and will continue to bless my child and her new husband.  I know You were happy to see them both when, at the last minute, they decided to attend the Mass that was said for their intention this past week.  I put it in Your capable hands to light a spark that leads them to You.  May my prayers be the fan that fuel the flame once it's lit.

I thank You Lord, for the blessing of seeing my child so happy and with such a patient, kind and loving young man.  But You know this week has been difficult for other reasons.  I do not know what the future holds in our parish but I do know that whatever it is, You are always there, waiting and it is never about the priest,  my God but only You.  Sometimes, we get caught up in the cult of clerical personality.  This is a dangerous thing and not what You desire for the priesthood, but it happens.  I will wait and give the new pastor my prayerful support.  Please grant me the strength and the patience to prayerfully endure whatever the future holds, for Your sake and the sake of Your Holy Church.

Well, Lord, there are tasks to be done and people waiting to see me.  Eternity would not be long enough to thank You for the many blessings You have bestowed upon my family.  Lord, please bestow one more - keep knocking at the door of their hearts until they open them to You.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Prayer Before the Tabernacle

Lord, how will You use me today?  Will I be the one to give a drink of water to a homeless man standing in tattered rags on a street corner, forgotten by everyone but You?  Will You use me to be Your hands to help a baby sparrow make it back to the nest?  Will You use my voice to ask a lonely person how they are feeling when it would be so much easier to just keep walking?  Will You ask me to do something I would rather not do, like be in the company of a family member who is so difficult to be around?  Will I be the one who extends the kind of welcome to a wayward soul that makes them want to come to Mass again?  Will it be in me that someone sees Your love and mercy and realizes how much You long for their return?  Are You going to ask me keep silent when I am insulted or wounded by the careless words of another?  Will I be the only one to hear You blasphemed by another, and consequently, the only one who offers You reparation for that offense?  Are You going to ask me for someone or something I believe I cannot live without?  Will I be the person who makes a difference today for a stranger who hopelessly searches every face they see for something as simple as a smile?

Most importantly, Lord, will You, in Your kindness and generosity, grant me the grace to accept whatever it is You will for me in life so that my only desire is to serve You  and You alone and my only fear separation from You, Who I should love above all things?

Your Only Begotten Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, died for my sins.  In His Name, my God, have mercy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What Is My Vocation?

Pat Robertson understandably got himself in some hot water because of the advice he gave a woman who called him in search of consolation because of her philandering husband. Then I found out from Terry Nelson that St. Josemarie Escriva had a thing or two to say about a woman's domestic obligations versus her exercises in piety. I was with a couple on Sunday who I see once a year and we commiserated about how challenging it can be at times to manage our prayer life as well as everything else we have on our plates.

"Sometimes" the wife admitted, "I fall into bed at night and realize I didn't say any of my prayers." It seems that realization has her and her spouse evaluating their lives to see how they make more room for prayer and particularly for daily Mass.

One thing of which I am absolutely convinced is that this blog is not my vocation. Sometimes, it's a near occasion of sin because it's a handy tool for me to criticize this one or that thing. I think it is why I have struggled so much to write lately. I can't tell you how many times in a week I see or hear something and think of what a great blog post it would be, only to realize the better and more advantageous thing to do would be to pray for the person or situation.

It occurs to me that in addition to my duties as wife and mother, my vocation is prayer, prayer that is joined to penance and sacrifice. The penance and sacrifice need not be anything heroic or impressive. No one need know what was done for them on their behalf. It's only important that God knows.

The other day I was trying to remember why I never have time for this activity or that hobby anymore and I realized that what has changed for me is that I pray much more than I did back then when those activities occupied more of my time. In the scheme of things, I am convinced that for me it is what's most important and what is demanded of me.

And just what is prayer? St. Therese said:

"I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me. For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus."
One of my favorite memories from the childhood of my oldest took place in Washington, D.C. We had spent the weekend exploring all the Smithsonian Museums with another family and on the day we were scheduled to leave, at my four-year-old's request, we were going back to the gift shop at the Air and Space museum to pick up some souvenirs for two of her pre-school chums. I had explained to her the night before that we were just going to pick up something small and that while I admired her for wanting to be more generous, we were not going to get them the same souvenir we had gotten for her the day before. When she asked me why, I explained that she was our child but they were friends and that they wouldn't expect us to get them anything elaborate and would be happy with just being remembered. As I pushed her in her stroller the next day, "we" had a most charming conversation.

"Mom, we can't get the spaceship for Eli and Misho because they're not members of the family, right Mom, right? I got one because I'm a memory of the family, right Mom, right? But they're not members of the family, they're just friends, right Mom, right?"

I can still hear her little sing-song voice in my head, and the way she pronounced "family" exactly like her daddy. It was a simple little talk but one that touched me and which I can still her in my head as clearly as the day she spoke it.

There are many days when I imitate that now grown-up child in the way that I speak to the Lord. And because of my intimate relationship with Him, I know that He does not mind. In fact, I know that He is pleased to be part of my life and my conversation. At other times, I pray the rote prayers that I know are pleasing to Him and His Holy Mother. They were made part of my routine even before my return to the faith. What's more, He gave us the gift of Himself in the Eucharist and conversing with Him while sitting in His Presence holds infinite value for ourselves and those we hold dear. 
And yet I still never feel as if it's enough, because once He has you, it never can be enough until our everlasting retreat in Heaven. St. Teresa of Avila reminded her sisters that "the Lord walks among the pots and pans." This was to reassure those who had kitchen duty that they should not worry so much about missing a spiritual exercise because of their assignment, necessary for the welfare of the community. But she was certainly not proposing that her sisters miss every devotion to tend to domestic affairs. How many times do we make excuses for not making time for the Lord, even if it's just 10 minutes a day? How many times do I want to kick myself for "fitting" Jesus in to a busy day, rather than fit the activities in around Him?
Store up these treasures for yourself and your loved ones while you can. Excluding downright negligence of our domestic and family obligations, there is no more important thing we can do. 

I know it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Heresy of Good Personism

One of the common retorts I hear from people who choose not to practice their Catholic faith is this:

I'm a good person.  I don't hurt anyone and I go out of my way to help people.  What kind of God would punish me for not going to Church?  What kind of God  sends  people to Hell for missing Mass on Sunday?

Anytime I struggle with understanding why people don't believe in or honor God, all I need do is take a walk around the neighborhood.  People don't think they should  have to step to one side or move in any way to accommodate someone walking towards them.  They are so important, no matter who they are and where they're going, that everyone should just get out of their way.  How can people who believe themselves to be so self-important ever consider there is Someone greater than they are?

People are full of themselves, leaving no room for God.  They don't realize that whatever inherent goodness they do possess comes from Him and that the only worth their works have is from and and in Him.

I saw this today on the site The Catholic Thing.   I love the title and can think of many people on my prayer list who are guilty of the Heresy of Good Personism.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why The World Doesn't Take Us Seriously

This hit home with me.  You can read it National Catholic Register.  Kudos to Matthew Warner for putting into words what I've been saying here and elsewhere and for taking the necessary steps to make Christ the center of his life.

If we want the world to take Catholicism seriously, we must first take it seriously ourselves. That means making radical changes to the ways we live our lives. We need more people to answer the radical call to sainthood. We need saints. Not just saints of the past, but your sainthood.
When the world sees you, they don't have to see a saint, but at least let them see a sinner set on sainthood. We shouldn't need to tell people we're Catholic. They should smell it in our sweat. They should see Christ radiating authentically and naturally from every move we make. If they can't, we need to shut up and stop talking about what's wrong with everyone else and we need to start living a more compelling life.

We need an army of saints willing to live a radical life for Christ and others. Saints are compelling. Empty words and prideful lectures are not.

Each of us have been called to live a radical life. To be a saint. - Matthew Warner

"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!" - St. Catherine of Sienna

Monday, May 13, 2013

Still Here, Still Praying

Sorry for the dearth of posts but sometimes I'm just not moved to say anything, so I don't.  Please know that I continue to keep all of your intentions in my heart and before the Lord every day at Mass and Adoration.  I'm also very busy getting ready for the prom, the wedding and the impending job search of my youngest, my oldest and my middle child, in that order.

I had a very lovely but busy Mother's Day.  I hosted dinner this year because my father will never agree to going out to dinner and I didn't want my mother saddled with cooking. I did all of the preparation Sunday evening so I could just pop things in the oven, but I still wound up spending the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  Before that,   I went for a long walk in the morning, had a delicious breakfast courtesy of my husband  and then off to the Noon TLM.  The Saturday evening before we attended the Novus Ordo as a family (well, four of the five of us did) and took part in the annual parish May devotion to Mary.

By the time I got to Mass yesterday, I was already feeling kind of beat and I'm sure this contributed to the  sadness that struck me as I communicated with Jesus.  It is my habit to conceal my face in my hands with my eyes closed so I can drown out every distraction, and so it was yesterday.  I was thinking of how Easter would soon be over, and how ironic it is that as the Church enters Ordinary Time, the Archdiocese begins announcing clerical changes.  I started thinking of the implications those changes could hold for our parish, but how our focus must always be on Christ.  I was thinking of how the oldest is soon to marry, outside of the Church, and wondering what more I could or should have done.  I can't think of ever feeling so overcome at Holy Communion, and being somewhat lost in my own emotions, I hardly noticed what happened.  I felt someone slip their arm around my waist and pull me gently towards them for just a moment.
Someone obviously knew I needed a hug.  I did, and I'm very grateful to whatever person or benevolent being saw fit to give me one.

The novena to St. Rita began today. In addition to my own personal intentions,  I am asking her to intercede on behalf of the boy who went missing in Florida and for a cousin who is awaiting test results for a brain tumor.  (I don't know what's going on but it seems like every time I turn around someone else is battling a brain tumor).  For the first time in a few months, I was too tired to get up to go to my usual early morning Mass, so I went a little later at another parish.  It is my intention to try to get to at least the novena prayers each day if not a second Mass. ( I will only receive Holy Communion once, however, and make a spiritual Communion if I go to two Masses.)

I am growing increasingly fond of my future son-in-law, who shows a greater interest in Catholicism than his future wife does.  He is respectful and asks some very thoughtful questions.  We spent about an hour after dinner yesterday discussing the sanctity of life and Catholicism in general and I can tell from previous conversations that he will give what we spoke about much consideration.  In getting through to him, I will get through to my daughter, who I love very much and will not surrender to life outside the Church without great effort.

During the novena, we pray to St. Rita:

"By the surrender of your children, rather than have them offend God, obtain our request for us".

I know this wife, mother and Augustinian nun will hear my prayers, as well as yours.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Even Until The End of Time

I know that's how long He'll be with us, but I can't help but feel sad on Ascension Thursday.  It is particularly difficult for me at the Traditional Latin Mass, where the point that Christ has ascended to His Father is driven home by the extinguishing of the Paschal Candle.

I often wonder what Mary thought and pondered in her heart at this time.  Once, I attended a talk on St. Therese where the priest told us that the Blessed Mother missed Jesus so much that she didn't so much die as her soul was, in his words, ripped from her body.  After having been a witness to both His Passion and His Resurrection, was it then that Mary began her second mission for the Church, the mission of praying for souls, now and at the hour of our death?  Oh, to have Mary's faith and trust!

I don't know why, but when I was taking my walk this morning after Mass, I thought of how fortunate the cloistered orders are, to live for and with Christ alone. I was thinking that maybe it helps overcome the withdrawal that happens at the end of Christmas and Eastertide if one is walled in with God.   I should not think so much of what I may be missing because of how truly blessed I have been these past few months.  To be able to get to daily Mass and on most days, Adoration and to have had Ascension Thursday off and know that I'll be off for two of my favorite novenas as well - one to St. Rita and the other, of course, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Next week a friend is planning a reunion tea with some of the pilgrims who visited Cascia with us the year before last.  I have been appointed the official baker for the event and how good God is to His unworthy servant that she has the time to be able to do so.

I am amazed  with this time off how quickly days fill up and how there never seems to be enough time to get everything accomplished. How did I ever manage while holding a job that consumed 50 or more hours a week, excluding travel time?   The next few weeks will be especially busy not only because of upcoming devotions but also the wedding of our oldest daughter (which is another story for another day).

Until now, I should be grateful for this little slice of Heaven granted to me by the King of Hearts.  I imagine He might laugh at the comparison of my respite to Paradise and if He could, He say: You have seen nothing yet to compare to what has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  Until then, know that I am with you always, even until the end of time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Faith, Hope and Trust

Yesterday, I got a voice mail on the phone that should never have happened.  Someone in the office at my daughter's high school called to tell me she never showed up for school yesterday and consequently, missed a major exam.  It was now well after 3 PM and school had already been dismissed, so I texted my child and when I got no response, I called her.  Still nothing. I immediately called the school.  I knew she had a late arrival time yesterday for the exam but to me it was inexcusable to wait until the end of the day like this to notify me.  What if something nefarious did happen to her?  Hours had been wasted.  I called and got the aide who left the message on the phone.  Let's just say her response left something to be desired and just as I was about to hang up and head to the school myself, Child #3 strolls in the door.   She forgot her ID badge and thus didn't swipe in, but she most certainly did attend school and complete the exam.  It was hard to know whether to celebrate or want to throttle the aide for not bothering to do her homework before calling me.

I have always felt a small measure of comfort in the fact that my youngest is tall and does not look like an easy target for would-be troublemakers but that doesn't mean I don't worry.

Fast-forward a few hours and I get a message that a childhood acquaintance who happens to be related through marriage to a cousin is in desperate need of prayers.  Her son has gone missing in the waters in Florida and 24 hours later has still not turned up, dead or alive.  I know this particular family has endured the kind of unspeakable grief and hardship that leaves you wondering how they have survived and now this has happened.  Apparently, the boy was in a "tough love" program for juveniles battling addiction and had gone with the rest of the group to the beach on Sunday.  When the counselors did a head count, he was missing.  The Coast Guard is now involved in the search.  I pray that he is found one way or another so that his family and his mother in particular can have whatever peace this type of closure might bring.

Fast-forward another hour and the joyful news erupts that three young women who had long ago gone missing have been discovered, alive and considering all things, well.  One of them has a child presumed to be hers.  I was so moved by the fact that even in her desperate attempt to escape, her motherly instincts prevented her from leaving that child, conceived against her will, in the prison that held her for years.  I listened to the parents of other children who were not so blessed talk about the agony of not only losing a child but never knowing what the outcome was.  One of the mothers did not live long enough to know that the ending would be happy.  I can only imagine what life has been like for the other two, who could never entirely give up hope so long as a body was never found.

My prayers today are of thanksgiving that these young women have been found alive and also of petition that the missing swimmer will be located.  I also pray that all our children will be protected by God and His Angels from the diabolical evils that seek to steal them, whether in the form of addiction or the kind of evil impulses that lead men to do the unthinkable.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Hour is Coming

"They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me.But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you."

How easy it is for us to accuse the Apostles of being a bumbling gang of backward cowards, afraid of their own shadows.  But I wonder what my reaction would be to someone telling me "whoever kills you will think he is offering a service to God."  I know I'd like to think that I would never deny my Lord, but if the small tests I face on a daily basis are any indication of that, I have no room to poke fun at the Disciples.  If I am lacking courage in the small things, how would I ever expect to have them in the greater?The mistake, of course, is to think that on my own I can do anything.  If faced with the trials that the Apostles met, my only hope, as was theirs, would be complete reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Are There REALLY Still Catholics Who DON'T Pray the Rosary Every Day?

Father Z has a poll going and I have to say I find the comments surprising.  Why wouldn't we do something that Our Lady has requested of us, particularly knowing the graces she has promised to those who faithfully recite her Rosary?  St. Padre Pio called his Rosary his weapon.  Do we still think we're too busy to pray the Rosary?

If we have time to read blogs, we have more than enough time to pray the Rosary every day.

If we have time to leave comments at blogs, we have more than enough time to pray the Rosary every day.

Do we watch television?  Text?  Chat on the phone?  Read the newspaper? Commute back and forth to work?   We have time to pray the Rosary every day.

If praying poorly was an excuse not to pray the Rosary, I would have given up long ago.  It's not always easy to pray it devoutly as Our Lady asks of us, but it should help to know that even saints like Therese struggled.  We will never know the value of a single Rosary offered even when we just weren't feeling up to it, thought we were too busy, etc. until the Virgin Mary is pleased to tell us face to face.

The Evil One told the chief Vatican exorcist that every Hail Mary "is like a hammer blow" to his head.

The kind people at the Mary Foundation sent me a free CD of the Rosary along with other daily prayers.  Here is a YouTube video which provides the same background that is given on the CD.  Ignore the music - the message is worth having to listen to it for a few minutes.

Lord, Have I Thanked You Yet Today?

Dear Lord,
On this glorious day with the not a cloud in the deep blue sky, I give You thanks for all my blessings.

For the ability to attend a  Novus Ordo Mass reverently celebrated, in strict accordance with the rubrics.
For an orthodox priest to celebrate the Mass.
For the gift of Your Son in Holy Communion.
For the church in which the Mass is offered.
For the gift of Your Son daily in the Tabernacle and for His generous Company
For the husband and the children sent to bless me.
For the little canine "children" who follow my every move.
For the precious time You have granted me in my kitchen.
For the precious time You have granted me to spend with my elderly parents.
For the simple but more than adequate place we call home.
For a comfortable bed and a roof over our heads.
For the freedom to worship You as we please.
For the peace that too few others know.
For the birds that visit the feeder and yes, even the squirrel who wreaks havoc.
For seeing to our needs.
For bringing us to another day in Your service.
For faithful friends who forgive my neglect of them and remember me in their prayers.
For the daily crosses You send so that I may one day join You and the company of Your Saints.
For the prayers of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and all Your Saints.
For the protection of St. Michael and all the angels.
For giving me another day to try to make amends.
For Your unfathomable love and mercy.

For this and more, Dear Lord, Your humble and unworthy servant gives You thanks.  Thine be the glory, O Lord!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thank You For Your Prayers

Dear Readers and Friends,

I thank you for your prayers these past months.  First, I will be returning to work (God-willing) in mid-June.  I am grateful for the opportunity given to me and St. Joseph most surely had a hand in this, along with all of your prayers.

Also,  I am happy to report that at least for the time-being, the headache from you-know-where has subsided.  I have to tell you that I kept hearing the words of St. Therese in my head when she said:

"I can easily understand why people without faith are tempted to take their life when they suffer like this.  I tell you, when one is suffering like this, one is but a step removed from going out of one's mind."

Believe me when I tell you that I know what I endured was a mere pittance compared to her suffering.  I also know I had reached the point where I was swallowing Motrin like M & M's with little regard for what consequences I might incur.

I wasn't feeling  that swell over the weekend and when Monday rolled around I considered rescheduling a much-needed dental appointment but decided against it.   What a mistake.  I really didn't feel anything on Monday after the appointment but Tuesday, Wednesday and a good part of today were another story altogether.  It was hard to tell where the pain was emanating from exactly. First it felt like sinus.  Then it felt like a mini-drummer was practicing his licks behind my right eye.  At other times, it felt like my skull was literally on fire.  I had to drive my mother to a funeral yesterday and I have many pressing chores around this house that need to be completed before I return to work (as Kelly can attest to, having visited The Homestead last week).  Not to mention the weather has been picture perfect and it's very hard to take a walk or sit in an Adoration chapel when your whole face is throbbing.

I didn't have a good picture of how unpleasant I was to be around until this morning when my loving husband told me that trying to talk to me was like trying to talk to a "black cloud of death".  Yikes! I did some work around the house and then  I went up to lie down for a bit.   Even though I still felt dreadful when I got up, I walked to the nearby CVS and scoured the over-the-counter pain medication section for something that might help me.  I settled on Excedrin Migraine.  So far, so good.   I know my GI system will pay for it but anything is better than an aching face and head.

I frequently called upon St. Teresa of Avila, patron saint of headache sufferers,  to intercede for me, that if she couldn't win me any relief from the pain that she might ask God to grant me the patience to endure.  She did not disappoint. I can only thank God that I was not working when this happened because I don't know how I would have made it.

Again, I thank you for all your kindness toward me and rest assured that as precarious as my prayer life is when I'm feeling like this, I do remember your intentions every day.  While the quality of my prayers may have left something to be desired,  Our Lord surely looked favorably upon the trifles added to them on our behalf.

God bless!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prayer Before the Tabernacle

Dear Lord,

Where all Your adorers?  Why are You here all alone?  Is there no one who could spare 5 minutes to sit with You?

You do not demand that we adopt any one posture while in Your Divine Presence.  You do not demand that we say anything in particular to You.  You are pleased just to see us.  If we would listen, we might hear You tell us how much You love us.  You do not care that we might complain ceaselessly to You about the choicest gifts You send us - crosses and small trials so that we might one day share in Your glory, a glory wholly unmerited on our part.  If You mind the trivial favors we ask of You, You do not let on..  You will never do anything to discourage us from future visits.

You are always ready to listen and to love, and yet how few times do I appear before You, ready to listen and love You back?  How many times have I set out to make You the center of my world, and left abruptly because of some meaningless pursuit that will bear no spiritual fruit?    How many times have I squandered my time before You because of anxiety or worry about some matter of no importance?  When will I learn?

Lord, I'm not at my best today.  What I have I offer You,  in reparation to Your Sacred Heart, for the consolation of the Immaculate Heart of Your Most Holy Mother, in honor of Your foster-father St. Joseph and of all Your saints.  Take all my misery, my failure, my ingratitude and join them to my poor prayers for all the intentions for which I have been asked to pray, for the conversion of sinners and the release of the poor souls in Purgatory.  

In imitation of my sister St. Therese, I say: My God, I love You.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Father of Lies Hates You

If there's anything that can drive me batty, it's the television.  I relish days alone in the house, which don't come often, because I will go the entire day without turning it on.  Mr. Y Chromosome, on the other hand, can't seem to live without it.  Yesterday, however, he stumbled upon a movie that had him, and me, riveted to the screen.  The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

Truth be told, I don't "need" Hollywood dramatizations of the real thing to know that the devil exists and poses a grave danger to us.  However, I'm not so sure about others.  Maybe it is exactly the Hollywood version that cause otherwise logical people to dismiss his existence, as though it's along the same kind of child's play as other horrors.  The difference, however, is that the horror of the devil is very real.  If we take seriously the salvation of our souls,  we would see that and do whatever we could to combat it.

I was sickened yesterday by some of the trailers that came on during commercial breaks.  There was nothing lewd in the movie itself, yet twice I felt accosted by images of people in various stages of undress etc.    To me that is one of the worst things about the Boob Tube, that you don't know what's going to come at you or the innocent children in your house next.  No wonder there are people who don't allow one in their homes.  My husband assured me this is nothing and he's seen worse on network television.  Last week, my dear old father was telling me how he rarely watches anything but old Westerns because he's never sure when something of a sexual nature is going to come at him.  I know how he feels.  Sometimes just doing a Google search of a religious topic will bring up images I can only describe as pornographic.  How this must please the devil, to invade our thoughts that have originated in innocent intention with smut.

Coincidence or not, Father Z has something posted at his place about how much the devil hates us, a theme he repeats because frankly, it does bear repeating.  We are made in the image and likeness of God.  The devil hates God and because he can do nothing to Him, he aims for the next best thing: God's children.

This hatred may not always be manifested in Hollywood-style suspense and drama but it is a hatred unlike any other, just as the way we are loved by God is unlike any other kind of love.  During exorcisms, the priest is often subject to humiliating attacks from the demons.  This isn't because the fallen angels can read minds.  It is because they stalk us in life and know our every move.  Thus, things are sometimes revealed at a critical point in an exorcism so that the priest can be knocked off track.

I have  known of the kind of evil harassment that can happen at times that should be sacred to us.  I don't think I have shared this previously but some years ago I sought the help of a priest because of what happened to me every day for a period of time during Lent at Mass during the consecration.  I would mentally hear a barrage of the filthiest language you can imagine, leading me to actually shake my head no on several occasions. I started to think I should not approach the altar for Holy Communion so after several weeks of this, I went to the confessional on a day when a priest I greatly trusted had no one else in line and I told him what was happening to me.  He assured me this was not happening through any fault of my own and that he would pray for me.  He also reminded me that my strongest defenses against these attacks were the sacraments and fervent prayer.  This was the time the priest assured me that "thieves do not attempt to break in where there is nothing to steal."   By the end of the following week, the attacks subsided.

There was one final assault, however, that I hope never to experience again.

This was some years ago, when I still an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion who assisted, when asked, at Mass.  It was Easter Sunday.  I received Holy Communion and then waited for Father to hand me the ciborium.  When I took the vessel containing the Body of Christ into my hands I again heard the worst filth - language I have scarcely heard, let alone ever uttered.  I wondered if anyone else could hear it.  I have to tell you that I  considered telling the priest I couldn't go on but somehow I did.  I asked God not to let me accidentally repeat what I was hearing while I distributed His Body and with His help, I succeeded.

I know readers of this blog are also well aware that the more devout and filled with Christ's peace we are, the more likely an attack is to come in the form of an unkind word, an unprovoked argument, an assault on our faith and a questioning of ourselves.

I am offering the Thirty Days' Novena to St. Joseph for intentions for which I have been asked to pray and I have added the Litany of St. Joseph to my prayers.  One of his titles is Terror of Demons.  Along with the Rosary, the Chaplet to St. Michael and this daily Litany,  combined with frequent reception of the sacraments, I feel I have an arsenal that is no match for whatever evil I encounter. I also know the attacks will not cease coming, in one way or another.

BTW, what follows at the conclusion of this post is the climactic scene from the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose.  While it is frightening, what I find makes it so is the hatred that comes across for us and especially for God.    Just in case anyone needed a reminder.

Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, have mercy on us poor sinners.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us.
St Michael, the Archangel, protect us.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


I don't get to visit her site that often but I have come to know her through her prolific commenting at Father Z's place.  Supertradmum is about to embark on a second try at the monastic life.   I do not know her real name or much about her circumstances but we can keep her in our prayers just the same.  You can read more about her preparation to enter the monastery here.   I will offer my next novena to St. Therese for her intention.

I admit part of me felt a tinge of envy when I read this but we all know that the grass is nearly always greener on the other side.   As for myself, I think of what Rachel said to Mary when she found out she was staying on at St. Francis to begin her novitiate.

Man, you'll make some crazy nun!

(She found something better)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for taking the lead as you have on gun control so that tragedies like Newtown may never happen again.  I, for one, wish that you had addressed this issue much earlier on and who knows?  If you had only taken a strong stand before the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, back when it wasn't politically expedient, perhaps it might never have taken place.

As much as I might admire your leadership on the issue of guns, however late it is, I must confess to being appalled at your apparent blindness toward the other children who have been massacred in this country.  They are the nameless, faceless souls whose tiny bodies are decimated in the name of perhaps the most evil deception ever foisted on the human race: choice.

What kind of choice is it when it ends in death?

It is most disturbing to hear the leader of the free world call the "right" to destroy our children in-utero "reproductive health".  Manipulating a healthy reproductive system for convenience and profit is not healthy at all.  It is a sickness beyond words.  And yet it has been sold to women the world over as a "solution" to an unwanted pregnancy.  Where else have we heard that word, "solution"?  I shudder to even think about it.

To borrow a phrase from the lovely ladies at Feminists for Life, abortion is an indication that we, as a society, have failed women.  When the best we can offer a woman struggling with a pregnancy she believes she cannot handle is that we will  "rid her of the problem", we haven't only failed her but we have failed the entire human race.  When we have reduced the miracle of life to an infestation that must be exterminated like a nest of cockroaches, we have failed and have failed miserably.  And the Father of Lies, that fallen angel cast out of Heaven, delights every time he hears someone repeat the lie that abortion is healthcare, and that stopping a human heart from beating is a choice to which women should be entitled.

As it has been pointed out elsewhere, there is something very unsettling about a man who has uttered not a word about the atrocities uncovered in Kermit Gosnell's chamber of horrors yet who can find the time to embrace an organization founded by the eugenicist, Margaret Sanger.  As learned as you are, I hope you have taken the time to familiarize yourself with Ms. Sanger and exactly what it is she wished accomplish through birth control and abortion.  Take a look at some of her quotes and then try to explain why Planned Parenthood deserves a single dime of taxpayer money.

To call what Ms. Sanger's creation does healthcare is like calling what Josef Mengele did legitimate medical research.  And yet highly intelligent, educated people like you and even myself at one point in time actually swallow the poison Planned Parenthood and its proponents try to foist on us as nectar.  It should make chills run up your spine.

We grieve for the children who were lost on December 14.  We will not forget their names or their faces.  But shame on us if we think there is any difference between those adorable little angels and the forgotten children whose bodies are not bid farewell in small white flower-laced caskets but which are dumped, unceremoniously,  in medical waste containers or worse, jars in Kermit Gosnell's freezer.

A society is best defined by the way it regards the most vulnerable.  If our children are not even safe from violence in their own mother's womb, why are you shocked that they are not safe in a classroom or playground?

You, too have a choice Mr. President.  It's about time you made the right one, for all of our children.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Give Us What We Need, Not What We Deserve

How far would any of us get if God dealt with us the way we deal with others?

Sometimes, when I am at a vulnerable point in my life, I look back at a situation I could have handled differently and I beg God not to do unto me as I have done unto Him.  Even if I felt justified in taking a certain action against someone, there are those times when I know I could have done what I had to do in a kinder, more gentle way.

I am always amazed when I meet people who do not speak to a member of their own family because of differences they cannot (or will not) reconcile.  Can you imagine if God decided not listen to us anymore because of our numberless offenses against Him?  Where would we go?

Sometimes, our punishment for vindictiveness toward others is a temporal one.  We pay the consequences of  our hastiness or a thoughtless reaction.  I am thinking of a family member who made an impending divorce that much uglier by taking a drastic but destructive action for which they must now make restitution.  Had they allowed the natural progression of events to occur, they would not be looking at court-ordered reimbursement to someone they cannot tolerate.

What is the driving force behind these kinds of division?  Pride.  Too proud to apologize.  Too proud to take the first step.  Too proud to take a chance in the event that steps toward reconciliation will be rejected.  Too proud to do the right thing because of the risk that it will be seen as a weakness.  We have to have the upper hand.  We have to win at all costs.  We have to get the last word.

A grudge weighs down our very soul.  It is the antithesis of God's mercy.  If you are carrying one, lay it down at His feet.  He will know what to do with it, just as He knows what to do with us.

Our Mother of Good Counsel

From the church that bears her title in Genezzano, Italy.  

Children, heed her counsels!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tragic Ending to a Promising Young Life

What would drive a handsome, intelligent and accomplished young man to end his life in a river?   The body pulled from the water in Rhode Island was positively identified as Sunil Tripathi, a 22-year-old philosophy major at Brown University who had not been heard from since March 15, when he left his home without his wallet, keys or cell phone.  A note hinting at suicide was reportedly left behind and while Sunil's family feared the worst, they remained hopeful as they spared no effort to find him.  To add to the family's pain, some news outlet mistakenly identified Sunil as a prime suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings prior to the identification of the Tsarnaev brothers as the culprits.  The Tripathi family alluded to Sunil suffering from depression and there was no indication of what treatment he sought, etc.

When we offer our daily devotions, perhaps we might pray for someone unknown to us who is contemplating suicide.  Perhaps we can join some penance or small suffering to our prayers that may help a total stranger to carry their load.  We can also pray, as I was once instructed by a priest, to pray for those about to die, either suddenly or from illness.  If worse comes to worse we can at least pray for the mercy of God to be shown.

I will never forget the day about five years ago when one of the nurses walked into my office, looking stunned.  "I have to go home.  My mother just killed herself." 

Hearing this was especially disturbing to me as I had met this woman just a few months before.  She was one of the sweetest people I'd ever met, totally in love, it seemed, with her new grandchild.  Why this?

We found someone to drive my friend home and as we waited for her ride to come, she talked a little bit about what she had been told.  Her mother had driven herself far from home, pulled over and took an overdose of something.  A note was found, the contents of which I was glad were not shared with me but which I knew did little to help her daughter understand why she chose to do such a thing.  The guilt suffered by my friend has never really entirely abated.  It's just that some days are better, or worse, than others.

I know I have written this before, but Father Benedict Groeschel once described mental illness as a crown of thorns.  Depression is very real for some people and not something we should ever take lightly.    But at the same time it's important to remember that we only have so much control.  When someone is determined to take their own life, they will find a way to try.  Our prayers may just be the obstacle that stops them.

Some day, when we reach our Homeland, God may share with us how many times He carried the load for us when we thought we could no longer do it.  And He may also share with us how many times our prayers made the difference in someone's life, including the decision to continue living.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Organ Recital At St Paul's South Philadelphia April 28

The dedicatory recital of the newly-restored Skinner pipe organ at St Paul's Church will take place next Sunday April 28 at 4 PM.  The guest organist will be Mr. Eric Plutz, a graduate of Westminster Choir College who is currently university organist at Princeton University.  Admission is free and the concert is open to the public.

St. Paul's is located on Christian Street in South Philadelphia between 9th and 10th Streets.  It is easily accessible by public transportation and is within walking distance of Center City as well as Society Hill and Olde City Philadelphia.

For more information, leave a message in the comment box.

Make Every One as Though Your First and Your Last

While reading one of the many books on my night table, I came across the recollection of someone who received a vision from the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She showed him a bowl, beautiful on the outside,  that should have been filled with ripe fruit but instead contained filth and dirt.

"Do you think that I can accept presents like this?" she asked.

She was referring to the careless way this person prayed the Rosary. I have no idea whether this story bears any truth but it certainly contains a strong lesson.  How many times has my mind wandered while I should have been mediating on the Gospel mysteries?  Too many to count.  

We had a visiting priest from the FSSP yesterday who reminded us that we should never take the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for granted.  He alluded to something that priests  pray before they exit the sacristy for Mass.

Priest of God, celebrate this Mass as though it is your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.

He urged us to remember these words as we approached the altar, to never treat casually our reception of the Eucharist and to remember the joy of our First Holy Communion.

And in my case, to ignore the mindless chatter going on behind me and devote all of my attention to my Lord.  I might not get another opportunity.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Off With Their Heads!

I guess there is seriously something wrong with me, because the death penalty is the last punishment I think of no matter how heinous a crime is occupying the headlines. I never understood how a civilized society can think the best way to respond to violence and death is with more violence and death.  Now, if I were to make this comment in certain comboxes, I would be roundly condemned by people who can quote Scripture, Canon Law and that Thing Known as the Catholic Blogosphere as certainty that we are not only permitted but compelled to play God when it comes to criminals.

I also say here unequivocally that those who have been victims of violent crime or have family members who have been victims  are entitled by virtue of their experience to think anything they want about the death penalty without criticism or comment from me.  For the rest of us, there is simply no excuse when our first response is to want to kill someone for killing someone else.  

I have heard the argument made that condemning a criminal to die might have the benefit of a death row-induced admission of guilt, renunciation of sin and act of contrition.  Maybe so, but the jails are full of men and women who found God while in prison.  Anyway, I don't approve of the death penalty and I can say that and still be a faithful Catholic, no matter what some bloggers say to the contrary.

Meanwhile, the prosecution in the Kermit Gosnell trial has wrapped up its case.  Sometimes, it's hard for me to distinguish the prosecution from the defense.  After all, the Assistant District Attorney has repeatedly referred to a cardiac glycoside as "an abortion drug".  Digoxin, a derivative of foxglove, was never developed as an abortion drug.  It's a cardiac medication that is used to treat atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure.  Some barbarian realized it would make a potent toxin for use in inducing infanticide and now it is referred to as an "abortion drug".   That anyone could make that statement with a straight face is chilling.  How far have we sunk as a people when we think it's OK to poison, burn or dismember a baby that is still in it's mother's womb, but we feign shock and outrage over what Gosnell did?  The only difference when you look at is that one form of murder is slightly more grisly than another.

The defense attorney, who will get his opportunity this week to try to defend the indefensible,  insists that what Gosnell did was not murder because the infants whose spines he severed "were already in the death throes" of Digoxin when they managed to enter the world still exhibiting signs of life.  My prayer is that abortion proponents will stop and think about this - that we as a nation have legalized treating the most vulnerable among us as we would rodents or other pestilence in need of extermination. 

I know people who won't eat meat, wear fur or allow a mousetrap in their homes but who willingly participate in abortion procedures at the hospital where they work.   

Show us Lord, the error of our ways while we can still beg for Your mercy, lest we perish in the last trial and find ourselves in the eternal inferno.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Devil Made Them Do It

What could turn a 19-year-old student into a calculating cold-blooded killer?   The political ideology is just the window dressing.  Whether it's the Atlanta Olympics, Oklahoma City, the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center, the Sandy Hook Elementary School or the Boston Marathon, the one thing all of these perpetrators had in common was that they acquiesced to the diabolical.

Sane, rational, morally-grounded people do not blow up, shoot or otherwise wreak havoc on society.  There is no moral justification for any of this, ever.

Watching two young men who looked like any other college students nonchalantly stride down a Boston street, knowing that the deadly cargo they carried in their backpacks would inflict carnage, was nothing less than chilling.  And yet people still don't believe that the devil exists.

Believe it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Daily Treasures We Sometimes Ignore

I am so spoiled that I forget what it's like for Catholics in the rest of the world.  I am within walking distance of at least five churches that offer daily Mass, four that offer Adoration, an additional church that offers Perpetual Adoration and one that offers confessions six days a week.  If I'm feeling really energetic, there are several more I can walk to for Mass and/or Adoration.  Quite a few others are a short drive away.  I know that not everyone has this kind of access.  But the truth is that too many who do ignore these spiritual treasures.  I know we aren't required to go to Mass on anything other than Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation.  I just don't understand how people can be satisfied with once a week if they have other options.

Before her illness finally forced her to become confined to bed, St. Therese would literally drag herself to the chapel.  She would have to pause after each step to catch her breath.  When asked why she did not spare herself this suffering, she cried: "Oh, I do not consider this too much to win one Holy Communion."

Since I've been home living the domestic life, I do a lot of walking around the neighborhood - to the bakery, the market, etc.  I see people I know from my parish doing the same thing.  Some of them live right down the street from the church.  We wave, we say hello.  What I don't say is this: "Hey, as close as you live to the church, did you ever consider coming to daily Mass?"

It has long irked me that my own husband can get to daily Mass but instead chooses to have a leisurely breakfast and reading of the morning paper.  The other day, I finally said something to him.  I asked him if he ever considered that he is closer to the end of his life than the start and perhaps he should be giving more thought to how he will make an account of his life before God. Now, I know that I might walk out the door today and get smashed by a truck.  I wasn't suggesting The End is around the corner for him.  I just think we have this treasure in our churches that too many people seem to overlook.  "You could go to morning Mass, you know.  It wouldn't kill you and you would probably really like it."  He didn't say anything.

Well, shock of shocks this morning:  "What time do you leave for Mass?  I'll go with you."

At first, I thought he meant he'd walk over with me since the store where he buys his morning paper is on the way.  But then I realized he meant he would come with me to Mass.  I nearly fainted.

As we were leaving, he asked me if I had any dollar bills to put in the collection.

"There is no collection at weekday Mass."

"There isn't?"

"No!"  I was surprised by this question but as I gave it more thought, something occurred to me.  Is this why more people don't come?  Are they afraid they will be asked to contribute?  I know that for many elderly on a fixed income those dollar bills add up.  Could that be the reason?  I don't know.

Afterward, I said to my husband that I thought Mass was the best way to start the day.

"Absolutely," he said.  "It feels good."

So good I hope he makes a habit of it.

The Mass holds infinite value for us and for our loved ones.  Let's take advantage while we can.

Yesterday, in between running errands, Adoration, chores, bird-feeding, dog-walking, etc. I spent a lot of time in front of the television listening to all the breaking news.  I thought about this at the end of the day and it bothered me that I had probably spent more time on the computer/in front of the television than I had in prayer.  I think this is a good measure we can use to determine whether we are doing everything possible.  With all of the pressing needs in our world, what impact might it have if I tried to get to even one extra Mass or Holy Hour a week?  Even just a few minutes spent before the Tabernacle holds untold benefits for ourselves and our loved ones for whom we offer our prayers.  If I have time to blog, comment and read, why don't have I have more time for Him?  I do not have to neglect my daily duties to not neglect Him and shouldn't I try to make reparation for those (of whom I was once among) who don't even acknowledge Him at all?

We are called to do more.  And the more we have of Him, the more we will want of Him until our Everlasting Adoration in Heaven.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prayer Before the Tabernacle

Dear Lord,

Here You sit, all alone, no one to keep You company.  I have You and the angels who bow before You all to myself in the perfect quiet of this chapel and yet I cannot keep my mind fixed on the Gospel Mysteries.  I am reminded of Your words to Peter, James and John in the garden at Gethsemane:  "Could you not stay awake with Me one hour?"

I have not been with You yet even a quarter of an hour and my thoughts wander.  The Son of God humbled Himself to the form of bread so that I would not be fearful to approach Him.  And yet I cannot even keep my mind fixed on the supreme gesture of love that happens when You descend to be present to me, body, blood, soul and divinity.  So many souls need my prayers.  It's as if I have the only life boat available and have set aside the oars, going adrift with no direction.

Lord, so many times we read in the Gospel of the nights You spent in prayer to Your Heavenly Father.  What is it You said to Him, dear Jesus?   We have the prayer You left us, but what is it You said to Him during those long vigils as Your disciples slept, oblivious to their Master?  Did You ask Him for anything?  Did You simply tell Him that You loved Him?  Did You mention me when You prayed to Him, and did You ask Him to overlook my countless faults, which You knew I would commit over and over again?

In all humility Jesus, I beg of You to send me the graces necessary to pray to You as I should.  Lend me some of Your love for the Heavenly Father, so that I may try to imitate You in Your love for Him.  Send the Holy Spirit to assist me so that every part of my being is present to You when I sit before You, the Divine Prisoner of Love confined to Your gilded prison, the tabernacle.

Some day, my Lord, I may not be able to come to this chapel.  Then I will look back at these squandered precious moments and ask myself why I did not do more to console Your Sacred Heart when I had the opportunity.  Grant me the grace I need to treat every minute in Your Divine Presence as I would a precious gem that I would guard with my life and all my attention.

And if I forget to say so with words, Lord, permit my every action to say over and over again that I love You.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Prayers for Boston

At possibly the most prestigious marathon in the country, tragedy struck today when someone or some group exploded two bombs at the finish.  The victims and their families are in our prayers.

At long-distance races, runners will often ask a family member or friend to wait at the finish for them with their athletic bag holding their jackets and long pants, etc.  Therefore it would not have been unusual to see bags on the ground and not necessarily attended.  Some races allow runners to check their bags before the event starts and then transport them to the finish.   What happened today is a good reason for other race organizers to reinstate this practice if they have discontinued it in the interest of saving money.

I've never run a marathon but have run several half-marathons and also ran the Broad Street and the Army Ten Milers a few times.  We runners (and even though it's been years since I raced I still consider myself a runner) are a breed unto ourselves.  There used to be a Nike ad that showed a runner blowing their nose into their bare hand with the caption: "Runners - Yeah, we're different".  That about sums up your typical runner.  Runners run in all kinds of weather and conditions and many are undaunted by ice, lightning and even bobcats and grizzly bears.  I've known many people who gave up drug and alcohol addictions for the high of running.

It would not surprise me in the least if some of those runners who had the misfortune of approaching  the end of the course as the bombs went off today went ahead and crossed the finish line after recovering from the initial shock.  So much time and training goes into the effort to run a marathon that it's almost like a race horse with an injury - the drive to run doesn't just turn off.   It would also not surprise me if some of those runners abandoned their goal of finishing to stop and help the injured.  As driven as runners are, they also look out for one another and if a fellow race participant fell ill or got injured, another runner or two or three would always stop to help or  render aid.  It is a camaraderie like no other.

Again, we ask Almighty God to bring healing to those who were injured, mercy to those who died and comfort to those who mourn as a result of this brazen and cowardly act.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Devil Hates Sunday

If something is going to happen to try to mar my sense of peace, it will happen on Sunday.  But I won't allow the devil to make himself the center of my attention by using people or situations to get at me.  Christ defeated sin and death from His Cross which we remember especially on this day of the week and ain't nothin' the devil can do about that.  It won't stop him from trying and the fact that he picks Sundays very clearly illustrates his jealousy and hatred for Our Lord and anyone who loves Him.  

St. Therese called Sunday her little Heavens.  When she was still a little girl and her dear Pauline would put her to bed on Sunday evening, she would ask her: "Are the holy angels flying all around me?" 

I will be calling on St. Michael, as I do every morning, to send some holy angels to fly around me.  I need them.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rev. James' Favourite Son Has Done It Again!

No, that's not a misspelling, it is a deliberate nod to the British version of the word in deference to one Mr. Richard Collins of Linen on the Hedgerow.  This is quite possibly the smartest "political" post I've read in a long time and an idea well worth considering.

If any one place on earth could be compared to Hell, I submit it would be North Korea.  God have mercy on us all.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

In Thanksgiving

When I pray to the saints, I always assure them that I will spread devotion to them by making known the favors they grant and publicly thanking them for pleading on my behalf or those for whom I pray.

I have been negligent of late in acknowledging the work of my favorite little Carmelite saint.  Praise and gratitude is due to St. Therese for her glorious intercession with the following:

-A couple who suffered through years of heartbreak with infertility recently welcomed their first child into the world, a healthy little baby boy.  For the first time ever, the couple has joined a church.  OK, so it's not Catholic, but they have to start somewhere.  Jesus will meet them where they are.

-A clean bill of health for a relative who was told to prepare accordingly for a serious diagnosis

St.Therese loved God so much that she was willing to continue to suffer for Him if it meant the salvation of souls.  She had no interest in "repose" from her trials and hence, knew God would grant her request to allow her to continue to work for the salvation of souls.

My prayer for myself and all of us who haven't reached the sanctity of the Little Flower is that we will live in the moment and welcome every cross as a gift directly from God's hand; that we will be so inflamed with love for Him that we will forego our own comfort or relief for His sake; and that we would be so in love with Jesus that our ONLY interest in Heaven is the opportunity to tell Him face to face how much we love Him.  Just like Therese.

Praise and gratitude is also due to St. Joseph for his glorious intercession with the following:
-A couple on the brink of divorce mutually agree to counseling, remain together and now expect their third child togehter

- A work situation for a dear friend has improved to the point they no longer have to seek employment elsewhere and they actually look forward to going to work each day.

My prayer for myself and all of us is that we would have the wisdom and faith of St. Joseph to readily accept all God wills to send us and trust in His providence to see us through any trial we may face.  

I had asked St. Joseph to grant me something that I will keep private at this time.  I was confident he would seek relief for me but it seemed to be taking longer than I thought it would, so I reminded him of my need by praying a triduum to him. When my favor was granted on the second day of the triduum,  I jokingly told someone that I could envision St. Joseph going to Jesus and asking: "Haven't you answered that crazy woman's prayers yet?  She's going to drive me nuts."

St. Therese once remarked that prayer was like a queen who has access to the king and knows he will grant her whatever she asks.  Praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints and even imploring Our Lord directly and having our prayers answered is not magic or good luck.  It is the fruit of faith and the confidence that God knows what is best for us. Speaking of our Blessed Mother...

My son suffered some facial trauma in the early morning hours of Palm Sunday.  One of his injuries was that his nose was broken in such a way that the bones had fragmented.  This child of mine has suffered greatly in so many ways and the injuries he sustained, though not life-threatening, were very painful.  I have to say that whenever I appeal to the Blessed Virgin mother-to-Mother, my prayers are always promptly answered.   I had prayed to her that evening for my son to keep him safe and even though something did happen, it could have been much worse.  The following is to me, nothing short of miraculous.

A few days after being discharged we had a follow-up appointment.  The doctors told me they were amazed that though his nose was indeed broken in numerous place, the bones were perfectly aligned and no surgery would be necessary.  They were at a loss to explain this but happy just the same.  

I know exactly how it happened.  Thank you, dear Mother, for your patience with me and your protection of my children so that even when some harm does come to them, it is never as bad as it could be.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Grisly Abortion Trial Mostly Ignored by the Media

Perhaps if I didn't live in Philadelphia, where Kermit Gosnell operated a chamber of horrors for years unmonitored and unchecked, I wouldn't hear anything about his trial, which just entered its fourth week.  A former employee who entered into a plea arrangement with the District Attorney testified yesterday about one particularly horrifying night.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the following and I warn you that it is graphic:

"There was this clear glass pan, and I saw it, and I thought 'what do you expect me to do?' It wasn't fully developed" (Sherry) West said, referring to the 18-24 inch newborn in the pan.  "It didn't have eyes or a mouth but it was like screeching, making this noise.  It was weird.  It sounded like a little alien."  Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore,   West, 53, testified that she didn't know what happened to "the specimen", the terminology she said she used because "it was easier to deal with mentally.  It really freaked me out, and I said call Dr. Gosnell, and I went back out front," West added.

So much for babies who are subjected to abortion not feeling pain.  The only difference between what went on in Gosnell's so-called clinic and other abortion mills is that the latter were cleaner and employed licensed personnel.  The bottom line was and is the same.

Even if the abortion-wild national media like CNN and MSNBC are ignoring this story, the local news, an ABC-affiliate, is not.  Tonight at 11 6ABC-WPVI is going to run an expose on a local Planned Parenthood where former employees are now speaking out about the atrocities that took place there.

Keep praying and chipping away.  Little by little, the public's eyes are being opened.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Well, I've been tossed out of better establishments than this. 

I find it amusing and not the least bit surprising.  

That's all.

How Do We As Catholics Respond to SSA?

Warning: This might turn into a bit of a rambling rant.  I hope not.

There is a parish I like to frequent in Center City Philadelphia.  It is run by Franciscans and offers 5 daily weekday Masses, confessions 4 days a week, daily Vespers and Eucharistic Adoration 6 days a week.  To get to this parish by the most direct route, I have to take a street which at some point becomes pretty seedy.  There are rainbows on some of the street signs indicating this is a "gay pride" part of town.  On the block just below where the church sits is a string of shops hawking filth of every sort.  It's best to avert one's eyes on this particular block because you never know what's going to creep up on you.  Today it was "sculpture" of a risque variety as well as so-called sex toys in colors which are supposed to appeal to women.  I always pray for the shop merchants and the people who buy their wares.  I also do my best to get the sometimes pornographic images out of my mind as well as chastise myself for not being more careful not to glance in the windows.

It sickens me that a childhood symbol of hope has been corrupted, as has been the word for being lighthearted or carefree.  One wonders what innocent word or symbol will be next.

Sometimes, I feel really irked that I have to walk through this mire to get to this church but then at others, I think:  What better place to proclaim the Good News than in a hot-bed of sin?

Now, to digress for just a bit.

I recall falling in love when I was 21 years old with one of the actors from the film Chariots of Fire.  Not sure what it was about the late Ian Charleson, but I had it bad.  I was a senior in college when  I first saw the film and was going to visit England shortly after graduation. (I know, no excuse for being a groupie).   It just so happened that when I was in London he was appearing in Guys and Dolls at the National Theater.  I gave serious consideration to taking myself to the show (even though I cannot tolerate musicals)  and then camping out by the exit doors afterward.  Fortunately, I came to my senses and did neither.

Years went by and of course I forgot all about Ian and went on to marry you-know-who.  Still, I remember the cold shock of reading in the newspaper one day that the former object of my fancy had died from complications due to HIV-AIDS.  I knew what kind of death that entailed and felt utterly heartbroken that he had suffered so much.  Every once in awhile, I think of Ian, and I pray fervently that he has been shown God's mercy.  I came upon something a fellow actor wrote about him the other day and it saddened me.  He said that at the time Mr. Charleson fell ill, it was taboo for an actor to "come out" and even worse to make it known you had AIDS.  The writer went on to talk about how if this had happened now, it would have been a completely different story.  Ian could have "come out of the closet" and had the visible support of family and friends, and perhaps even benefited from advances in treatment.   At the time he last appeared on stage, none of his fellow actors knew what ailed him.  Why did that sadden me?

Because the author of that piece just doesn't get it.

No matter how many people are polled, or how many states recognize gay unions or marriages, or how many people admit to being homosexual, it's still not the way God intended for us to love one another and raise families.  Yet what do we do with all of these souls who are in the grips of same-sex attraction?  Do we just ignore them and hope they'll go away?  Do we isolate ourselves and our children from them lest their disordered lifestyle infect ours in some way?   Do we acknowledge that they carry a cross unlike any other, and that they are still children of God who are loved by their Father in Heaven?  Do we call them derogatory names and puff ourselves up with the pride of knowing we are not in the same boat they are?  Do we get angry at the way their lobby has further corrupted our culture and simply denounce and dismiss them?

What are we to do?

I honestly believe this issue, even more so than abortion, is going to be  the final battleground for Catholics in America.  That is why the answer to how we proceed is so important.   But first let me ask:  when is the last time you heard about same-sex attraction from the pulpit?  I would submit to you that this is perhaps the most grave moral crisis facing this country right now, second only to the slaughter of babies, and yet it largely goes ignored in homilies and in parish bulletins.  There is the occasional announcement of the stand of the USCCB on the definition of marriage, but that's about it.  How many parishes offer counseling for SSA?  How many have any kind of outreach?  I know of none.

So, how have I responded in my personal life?  This is a tough one for me because believe it or not, I do have friends that identify as gay men.  It's been some time since I've been in their company, but we are still friendly through Facebook and Christmas cards.  Would I invite any of them over to my house?  I can't say that I would right now, because they would want to bring their partners and by having such a "couple"  in my home, I would be giving my stamp of approval to their relationship.  I would not want that influence on my kids either.  If invited, I might go to their home, or out to lunch or dinner, but I'm not sure.  My gay friends know where I stand on this issue and we tend to politely ignore our differences by limiting our interactions to brief chatter like "Happy Birthday" or "Good Luck"  or "Merry Christmas".  What more can I do but bear witness to my faith while practicing a kind of benign neglect of these friendships?

I know the surest way to lose someone is through anger.  Of course it does upset me that Hollywood and the MSM not only accept but promote homosexuality as something normal.  Pressure is exerted on all of us and especially our kids that if you don't buy in to the gay agenda, you're buying into the same kind of hatred and bigotry that segregated the South.  It's easy to get disgusted.  But how will we answer if we are called to give an account of what we did to help our brothers and sisters suffering from same-sex attraction?

How do you welcome such people to Mass, IF you welcome them at all?  Do you just pretend that the well-dressed pair of men who come to Mass together every Sunday who also live together, vacation together, etc. are just good friends?   Does the priest give a sermon to make them feel uncomfortable?  Does the priest remind people that only those in a state of grace should come forward for Holy Communion and does he include those who don't qualify as those living together in sin, whether with the a member of the same or the opposite sex?  Do we say it's none of our business and just ignore them, like we ignore the man and woman who are shacking up and have kids out of wedlock with each other?

What are we to do?

I don't think we can just give up, and I don't think we can just say "those people make me sick, I don't want anything to do with them".  I think of the number of times the Gospels refer to a person who was possessed by a demon.  Did their families give up on them?  Did the community they lived in give up on them?  No, they enlisted the help of the One Person they knew could exorcise the devil.  How have we enlisted Jesus to help those suffering from same-sex attraction?

Some years ago, an elder at a well-known Presbyterian church in Philadelphia was asked her opinion of same-sex couples and she said it's always wrong when we don't make the most important relationship in our lives the one we have with God.  She went on to say that if we place God front and center, we would be less likely to engage in relationships not sanctioned by Him.  I often think of that and how right she was.

If we lead people to Jesus Christ, He will do the rest.  How do we lead others?  By rejoicing so much in our own faith that we make others curious.  One can live a penitential and prayerful life without being a miserable codger.  One can be perfectly morally upright without imparting a sense of superiority.  For those of us who are parents of teens - when our children fall in love, don't we want to know more about the object of their affection?  Sometimes we're delighted and sometimes we're not.  No one who falls in love with Jesus Christ is anything other than enthralled.

I do know one thing for sure:  the road to Him is not paved with anger.

What are we prepared to do?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

On the Eve of Divine Mercy Sunday

One of my constant struggles is ridding myself of the desire to be favored.  After reading that Jesus told St. Faustina that those who resemble Him closely in His Passion will  resemble Him more in His Glory, I got to thinking:  when we are in Heaven, will it be obvious to everyone else who His favorites are?    Then I thought of how ridiculous this is for one who wishes to place Jesus above all else.  It matters not how much He loves me but rather, how much I love Him.  This is what the saints understood.  They didn't look forward to death so they could end their earthly miseries but rather, loved God so much that all they did, thought and prayed was directed toward earning a place with Him in Heaven.  St. Therese went a step further and offered her Heaven for her continued mission of winning souls for her Divine Spouse.

On another blog on Easter Sunday, the author offered his prayers that God would fill our every spiritual and material need.  The word "need" is what struck me.  He didn't say "want", he said "need."

In my ongoing trial, minor compared to so many others and which may soon end thanks to St. Joseph, there has been worry and anxiety.  But then I heard the inner voice asking: "Did you lack for anything?  Were you able to feed your family?  Were you able to buy the medication your daughter needs?  Were you able to put gas in your car?  Were you able to pay your bills?  Do you still have a roof over your head?  Then you can be assured that I looked after your material needs.  Did you get to Mass when you wanted?  Was the sacrament of confession readily available to you anytime you desired?  Did anyone stop you from spending hours in My Company?  Then you can be assured that I looked after your spiritual needs."

At Vultus Christi, Father Mark has a beautiful meditation on Divine Mercy through the eyes of four women who, though never ordained, had a profound effect on the Church.  You can read it here.

Vultus Christi is the best blog written by a priest.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Divine Mercy and the Graveyard of Wayward Priests

Ever since I've had some time on my hands, I find myself tuned in more and more to EWTN.  Tonight Life on the Rock came on and that prompted me to do a search of Father Francis Mary who used to host the show with Father Mark.  I guess I was hoping to hear he repented and returned to the priesthood via a life of prayer and penance, but that's not what I found.  I found almost nothing since he resumed the name "Dave Stone" and was last heard from hawking a so-called "New Age" energy drink while living with the widow for who he left the priesthood.

What shocked me during this search was just how many priests once featured on EWTN in one capacity or another have either been defrocked, voluntarily left the priesthood or disappeared altogether in a mire of scandal.  This is by no means an indictment of EWTN.  There are still many faithful priests, Father Mitch Pacwa among them, who manage to juggle their duties at the network and of the priesthood without difficulty.  I just never realized how many celebrity padres were entrapped by the Father of Lies.

It got me to thinking  about other priests who were not EWTN rock stars but who nonetheless were targeted and succumbed to evil.  A priest who was friends with the friend of a friend, one of those you could easily picture being martyred one day, shocked us to the core by taking up with a woman he was allegedly exorcising.  Another priest, a distant family friend, hanging around with boys half his age and dressing as a lay-person.  When he finally got the boot many people asked : What took so long?

I pray for priests every day but I'm ashamed to say that what I have been negligent about is praying for the Corapis and Stones of the world as well as the Cuties and Euteneuers.  Just as I try to pray for wayward souls among my family and friends, I should be praying for those who rejected "the love of the heart of Jesus Christ" (St. John Vianney).  It's not for me to speculate what kind of mercy is shown to ex-priests.  It just seems to me that while we're in the final days of the Novena exalting the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ, we could remember to recommend to Him the souls of those who have bolted from the vineyard before the harvest.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Go To Joseph

Cope depicting the Holy Family in the carpentry shop,  worn on Easter Sunday

My own father is 80-years-old and deserving of peace, so he knows precious little of my present trials.  I would dearly love to have his advice on a particular matter but then I keep hearing these words "go to Joseph" which I have read often in the many devotions written to the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  My dad spends a good part of his day in prayer.  His clothes are well-worn, he buys almost nothing for himself (rarely ever did) and he has always lived the simplest life possible.  The only thing he ever asked me for was an outdoor statue of St. Joseph so he could erect a little shrine to him in his garden.  When I was in Italy, I found a beautiful tile of St. Joseph holding the Child Jesus.  These are the only two gifts about which my father didn't complain, "now why did you spend your money on that?"

It had been a few days since I had gone to Joseph, and while reading from my treasury of devotions to him today, I came across this passage, told to St. Bridget of Sweden by none other than the Blessed Mother about the foster-father of Jesus.  A good example for all of us to emulate.

"St. Joseph was so reserved and careful in his speech that not one word ever issued from his mouth that was not good and holy, nor did he ever indulge in unnecessary or less than charitable conversation. He was most patient and diligent in bearing fatigue; he practiced extreme poverty; he was most meek in bearing injuries; he was strong and constant against my enemies; he was the faithful witness of the wonders of Heaven, being dead to the flesh and the world, living only for God and for Heavenly goods, which were the only things he desired. He was perfectly conformed to the Divine Will and so resigned to the dispositions of Heaven that he ever repeated" May the Will of God ever be done in me!" He rarely spoke with men, but continually with God, whose Will he desired to perform. Wherefore, he now enjoys great glory in Heaven."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday 2013 in Philadelphia and Surrounding Area

Sunday April 7 is Divine Mercy Sunday.  Here are a few of the events I know of in and around Philadelphia.  If you know of others, please leave a comment and I'll add an addendum to this.

Carmelite Monastery Philadelphia

Old York Road and 66th Avenue Philadelphia
Father Ken Brabazon is the priest celebrant.
Confessions: 1:30 PM
Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: 2:00 PM
Divine Mercy Chaplet: 2:30 PM
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:  3:00 PM

St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church South Philadelphia

9th and Watkins Streets
Procession and Veneration of the Divine Mercy Image: 3 PM followed by Eucharistic Adoration, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Rosary, Confessions and Benediction, concluding at 5:30 PM
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: 6:00 PM

St Monica Church South Philadelphia

17th and Ritner Streets
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament following the 11:30 AM Mass
Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 PM followed by Benediction

St. Madeline's Church Ridley Park, PA

Penn Street and Morton Avenue
Holy Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet: 2:30 PM
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: 3:00 PM