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

Novena for Humility

A few years ago, I was invited to take part with 11 other women in a special project that a dear friend was planning.  She introduced each one of us at the meeting and as she did, she offered her impression of each of us.  What she said about me made me nearly fall on the floor.

"Joyce is the most humble person I have ever met."

And my response was an incredulous: "Me?"

The more time you spend with Jesus in Adoration, and the more you listen to what He has to say, the more the layers are peeled away. Often, by the time He's finished with you, what's left isn't very pretty, but it's necessary for Him to strip away the veneer and get to the base upon which everything else is built.

Last week, I had a rather difficult time because it seemed like every time I turned around, someone was else was "just dropping by" to see my husband.  My kids are all pretty outgoing, like their dad, and they are often puzzled at my reaction when (fill in the blank) invites themselves over.

One of my sisters-in-law likes to open closet doors,  roam throughout the house in areas I would rather she didn't venture (like our bedroom)  and ask a ton of questions about topics I usually don't feel like discussing.  She's a sweet person otherwise but I always feel like I'm undergoing a root canal when she visits.  I would never behave similarly in someone else's home.  I endured what seemed like an interminable visit a week ago and offered it up as penance.

One of my husband's friends is a musician whose one-time addiction to heroin cost him just about everything.       He rents a room in a nearby boarding house and only recently was weaned off methadone. I have had this person over for Thanksgiving and Christmas and then felt extremely guilty about it afterward because I find him revolting.  "Keep looking for Christ," I have to tell myself but I tell  you - it gets harder and harder and harder.  

Another of my husband's relatives is also a recovering addict to both drugs and alcohol.  Again, the connection is music.  For a time, this person liked to drop by with his wife on Sunday evening so they'd have a place to crash before one of his gigs at a nearby club.  Never mind that Joyce has to get up for work at 5 AM and is not in the mood to entertain anyone, let alone these two.

On Monday, the double-whammy occurred.  The relative and his wife were "just dropping by" that evening and then the friend called to see if he could come over today to "jam".    When I nearly went ballistic about the latter announcement, my husband pleaded with me: "But it's going to be acoustic, nothing electric."  Perhaps what bothers me most about his friend isn't his past so much as his behavior when he comes into my home.  He acts like he owns the place.  His presence is like escaping gas that disseminates everywhere.  When we last had him over for dinner, something that every part of my being screamed silently about, I was appalled at how ill-mannered he was.   I was also shocked to learn that no one else really noticed his behavior except me.

"You know," Ms Heathen said to me, "if you dislike him that much, why do you bother to invite him?  You kind of defeat the purpose."

Am I that obvious?  No, she said, but if you're going to complain about him later, what's the point?  I explained that I really didn't want to invite him but since her father asked me, it would just nag at me if I didn't acquiesce.

One of the kids asked me why I object so much to uninvited and/or unexpected guests.  I tried to explain that my core just isn't very tolerant of ill-mannered and intrusive people and that I'm a very private person.  I was running this conversation through my head in Adoration the other day when I heard that inner voice say: "Did you ever stop to think that what you consider your 'core' is really just an extension of your pride and selfishness'" ?

To be honest, I had not thought of this before but I've given it a lot of thought since.  I'm someone who abides by the rules and by the etiquette dictated by each situation.  If the sign says "Use other door", that's what I do.  If the sign says "Turn off all cell phones before entering", that's what I do.  If  I'm with someone who thinks those rules are for other people, I cringe.  The worst is being out to dinner with someone who is rude or demeaning to the wait staff.   Something inside me makes me want to flee.

My mother and I have visited the home of a woman who, by invitation only, sells some of the crafts that she makes.  The first year, the woman held the sale in her living room but in subsequent years, she moved the operation to her barn.  It never fails that every time we visit, my mother heads for the front door, and I insist with her that the sale is in the barn, and it never fails that the woman has to remind her "no, not here, ladies, in the barn".  And then my mother laughs and says to me "I just wanted to sneak a peak at her living room."  And then I want to crawl under one of the hedges.

It occurs to me that maybe these people, whose behavior I find so offensive, are really the humble ones, because they are completely lacking in pride.  They don't cringe if they're corrected for using the wrong entrance or snooping in someone's closets.  And if they do, you'd never know it.

This week we have a visiting priest at daily Mass.  He went straight from the altar to the pulpit to do the readings and psalm.  I had been doing the readings in the absence of the usual lector, who is recovering from an illness.  Afterward, some of the weekday regulars asked me why I didn't read.  It just doesn't feel right to me to race up there when the priest is obviously willing to do it.  Talk to him afterward and let him know you're the lector, someone else suggests.  That's OK, I say, it's only for a week.  Really, the issue is that I would never bother the priest in the sacristy and what if I did and he said he would prefer that I did not read?  Wouldn't that be embarrassing?  So what if it is?

This week, as many of us pray the Divine Mercy Novena, I realize that while forgiveness comes easily to me, giving of myself does not.   Since I've been home I've tried to be more open to having guests.  We've had a revolving door of school chums stay for dinner.  It's the others I haven't been so open to, the ones who keep Christ buried deep beneath their offensive exteriors.

What it seems I need is a novena for humility.  Here at least is a Litany for Humility.

Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I,
 provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

Some Catholic bloggers apparently did not get the memo.  The latest kerfuffle is how Pope Francis chose to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper.  I thought that rather than offer you my thoughts on this, I would instead direct you  here and there for some very reasoned commentary.   The second blog is written by a priest.

I sincerely hope those who feel they are above the Vicar of Christ to the point they have questioned his Catholicism are being directed to a confessional by their pastors pronto.  I would also urge everyone to take a good look at the blogs you promote on your own blog-rolls.  It's one thing to disagree with people once in awhile.  It's quite another when people get so carried away with their own self-righteousness that they behave as though they're only a rung below God when it comes to judging the faithfulness of others.

I can only wonder what they would have done if they were part of the mob when Christ stood before Pilate.

Et tu, Brute?

Pardon me for mixing religion with Shakespeare but that's the phrase that first came to mind when I heard about so-called Catholic Sen. Bob Casey's cop-out about-face on so-called gay marriage.  Chris Matthews was practically doing cartwheels with joy.  What's next, Senator Casey, an endorsement of abortion on demand?  His father must be rolling in his grave.

Politicians are dropping like flies on this issue.  Faithful and morally upright Catholics are being subjected to all kinds of name-calling.  I don't think most people in this country would know what hate  if it slapped them in the face.  Is not wanting to see someone condemn themselves to Hell hatred?  Is wanting to guide your children toward Heaven hateful?  Apparently so.
When will these two be censured by their bishops?  

How much longer will God put up with this?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Final Resting Place

As a child, one of my fondest memories was that of my father driving us to the cemetery to visit the graves of my mother's relatives including that of her father, who she lost when she was only five years old.  My father would dutifully turn off the radio as we entered the majestic looking gates and we were given a primer on cemetery etiquette.  Never walk on anyone's graves, keep conversation to only that which was necessary, whisper if we must talk,  and pray for the souls of those entombed there.

I found the mausoleums fascinating.  By comparison, my grandfather's grave did not even have a headstone to mark it and here were these houses of marble, probably costing more than any place my poor parents ever called home.  But what struck me most were the graves of infants and children.  One in particular always stayed with me, so much so that I find myself on the look out for it even now.  The inscription read something like "Here lies our little angel".  I don't even remember the child's name or whether a boy or a girl but I do remember that the monument marking the grave bore a sculpture of a guardian angel with his hand on a child's shoulder, guiding him or her toward eternity.

By contrast, the grave of my cousin, who died of a lethal childhood cancer when he was scarcely past a year old, wasn't marked at all.  Not long after his death, his grieving mother became pregnant with another little boy.  Shortly after his birth, his father announced he was leaving my aunt.  I don't know how my aunt withstood so much grief in so short a period of time.  I know she never really recovered. The grave of her baby never did get a marker.  It would be years before my mother and her siblings could afford to put a headstone on their father's grave, where her mother also would eventually be laid.

And the thing is, whether she would mark it with a mausoleum or not at all would not matter in the least.  These things and these places are intended for our comfort.  The only way to comfort the departed souls is by praying for them. My mother always says that she never prays for her mother, only to her because she is convinced her mother is a saint.  That is not for me to judge but I do know that my grandmother's example in life could only be called saintly.

The past few years I've made it a practice to visit this cemetery on Holy Saturday.

 My favorite inscription is "My Jesus, mercy, Mary, pray".

What more needs to be said?

What follows are some photographs I took on my last visit.