07.20.1969 Welcome

Man on Moon

Our family didn’t have a TV in 1969, but that didn’t stop my parents from making sure we (along with 500 million other people around the world) watched THE television event of the century.

I sat squashed between my brothers on my grandmother’s couch, my swinging legs unable to reach the hardwood floor. The historical event went past our normal bedtime and my eyelids were drooping as much as my limp pigtails. However, I do remember being awake as grandma’s black and white TV displayed the shadowy figure of astronaut Neil Armstrong bouncing along on the grey surface. I was mesmerized.

The moon has always fascinated me. From this impressionable moment as a child when I sat in my grandmothers living room watching man walk on the moon, to the many camping trips I experienced with the moon acting as my tent’s nightlight, to now.

Now, when I have a much deeper understanding of the significance of space travel. Now, when I have a richer appreciation of the celestial body that was perfectly placed in orbit around our earth to anchor us in our rhythms of life. And now, when I feel I have a personal connection to she who reflects sunlight to me in the nighttime of my fear.

As the 50th anniversary of this monumental event approached, my mind kept pondering the moon and her beauty and my soul felt called to write a tribute regarding this time in history. The poem below is that humble attempt.

07.20.1969  Welcome

“Honor, greetings and blessings to you,
conquerors of the moon.
Pale lamp of our nights and our dreams.”
Pope Paul VI, July 1969

Honor, greetings and blessings to you,
high respect, great esteem.
Best wishes and good will,
divine favor, celestial dream

to you, conquerors of the moon.
Collin, Aldrin, Armstrong: Mike, Buzz and Neil.
Space seekers, summit reachers;
Lunar landing, serenely surreal.

The moon, pale lamp of our nights,
calendar inspiration, force of tidal sea,
lightly illuminate, faintly reflect,
our eventide, then dark apogee.

Of our nights and our dreams:
Mankind dark-side, aspiration peers to blue.
And her peaceful presence glowingly concurs,
honor, greetings and blessings to you.

  Rose of Sharon 07.20.2019

Moon

 

“Why Are You So Good To Me?”

Why Are You So Good to Me

My husband Danny and I have been together for over two decades. From the very beginning of our courtship, he treated me so well that I used to ask him all the time, “Why are you so good to me?”   I had recently come off a relationship that was not so good, and the nice things Danny was doing were in stark contrast of what I was used to. His acts of kindness went above and beyond anything I could imagine. From little things like opening the door for me, sending me cards and flowers, and cooking special meals for me, to big things like the day the rabbit died.

You see, I had a backyard pet rabbit that I found dead one day in its cage. Due to a number of different circumstances, I was not able to bury him right away. Though it was not terribly long before I went to take care of the situation (a day or two), when I actually did, well…let’s just say it was not a pretty sight. When Danny found out about the dilemma, he came over in a flash with gloves, a mask, a shovel, and cleaning disinfectant to tackle the problem; and soon my queasy quandary was gone.

Monday roses and care packages were other ways that Danny was good to me.  In the beginning of our relationship, I had pretty low self-esteem and was coming out of a tough spot in my life. The start of the work week in particular was challenging for me, so Danny would buy me a rose and make sure to bring it over every Monday before I left for work. Sometimes he would drop it off at my place of employment (a school) if he didn’t catch me in the morning before I left. The rose, along with a quick hug and a short prayer, meant the world to me. He continued this Monday rose tradition for years.

Also, anytime I went away, such as on a weekend retreat, a family visit, or a vacation, he would make a care package for me. It was full of sweet notes to read for each and every day I was gone, and sometimes he would add snacks or other fun treats.  With each kind act I would wonder, why is he so good to me?

Most of the time when I would ask Danny, “Why are you so good to me?” he usually smiled and said nothing. Later in our relationship when things were more serious, his answer to my question would be, “Because I love you.” Though I got an answer, I still struggled with understanding his kindness towards me. Like when Danny would give me a compliment, I would usually discount or deflect it.  I didn’t fully realize it then, but my distorted mind set was that I didn’t deserve to be treated so well. It took me a while to realize that Wow! This person really thinks I am worth something. It took even longer for me to personally accept, Yes! I am worth something! Now when Danny gives me a compliment I can honestly say “thank you.”

The amazing thing about our story is that even though the enchantment phase and the honeymoon are over, Danny continues to be so very good to me! Yes he still cooks for me, opens doors for me, and prays with me. Yes, the care package is something he still does now, twenty-three years later, each and every time I go away. And he often has a honey-do surprise for me when I get back home! He also makes sure I have a “Monday rose” with the start of each and every school year. And there are so many other things he does that I cannot even begin to list them all.

Though I am not as surprised with his acts of service for me now as I was all those years ago, I am still in awe of Danny’s devoted love. Recently I was thinking of how good Danny is to me and I realized that his sweet love really helps me to understand how much God loves me. In my heart the Lord was telling me that, Yes Danny, an imperfect human-being loves you this much, and I – your Father and Creator – love you even more!  The perfect, eternal and unconditional love of God my Father is not something I can fully wrap my mind around, but my Lord gives me the love of Danny here on this earth to help me begin to see.

So the question “Why are you so good to me?” has been answered. Two times.

Me to my husband: “Why are you so good to me?”
Danny: “Because I love you!”

Me to my Lord: “Why are you so good to me?’
God: I am so good to you because I love you! You are my precious daughter and I love to shower you with gifts. Danny’s love is one of the many ways that I give you love. Danny is my gift to you.

And I humbly say, “Thank you!”

Marriage Stain Glass at St Rose

There is Nothing Like a Mother’s Love

Mary

Just spent the weekend with my mother in my hometown. She has taught me so much about love and service and my faith. For example, when I struggled down some stormy roads earlier in my life, her unconditional love and maternal tenderness was a beacon for me in my dark time. From big things, like her steadfastness during my turbulent years, to little things, like the lemon cake she surprised me with today, I know first-hand there is nothing like a mother’s love.

Just spent the last 33 days with my Heavenly Mother. She has taught me so much about love and service and my faith. For example, when I struggled down some stormy roads earlier in my life, her unconditional love and maternal tenderness was a beacon for me in my dark time. From big things, like her steadfastness during my turbulent years, to little things, like the radiant blue ribbons in the photo above that she surprised me with today, I am learning first-hand there is nothing like my Heavenly Mother’s love.

January 1 not only marks the start of a New Year, but it’s also a special Marian feast day; The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. I was blessed to spend this holy day with both my earthly mother and my Heavenly Mother.

For the past 33 days, my earthly mother and I have been participating in a “do-it-yourself retreat” called 33 Days to Morning Glory. It is a book by Father Michael Gaitley that helps prepare you for a personal consecration to Jesus through Mary. It is based on the classic work of St Louis de Montfort and basically, as Pope Pius XII says, this consecration is “essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary.”

Today after we went to Mass in my hometown church, my earthly mother and I stood before the beautiful statue of our Heavenly Mother (pictured above) to recite our consecration. As I looked at her, I kept saying to myself, She’s so beautiful! She’s so beautiful! But as I admired the sculptor’s stunning work, I felt slightly disappointed. I wished that the artist had used blue instead of the dark greyish-green color for her cloak. Oh well, I thought. She is still beautiful!

When my earthly mother and I said our consecration, it seemed that Mary was smiling down upon us. And after we were done, I just had to take a picture of the gorgeous image of our Heavenly Mother as a remembrance of our special day. After taking the picture, I noticed something on the photo. There were blue ribbons on Mary’s cloak! The radiant blue “ribbons” that appear on the photo image above were not part of the statue. We did not see them as we stood before the physical statue either before or after the picture was taken!  I know most would say it’s probably a reflection from something, but I accept it as a sweet and simple gift from my Heavenly Mother. She knew I had hoped to see her in blue, and then blue there was!

It deserves repeating: There is nothing like a mother’s love!

There is a Catholic practice of offering a prayer at the start of each new day, called the “Morning Offering” that consecrates oneself to Jesus. My earthly mother has it taped to her bathroom mirror and prays it each day. And as I start this New Year, I can feel the love of my Heavenly Mother as she tenderly calls me to also start praying it every morning, just like my earthly mother. The prayer is listed below, if you would like to join me in this New Year resolution.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month.
Amen.

Remember, there is nothing like our Heavenly Mother’s love to bring us closer to Jesus. May you and your loved ones have a productive New Year growing closer to our Lord!

 

Tis the Season to…Pause and Pray at the Manger

nativity-596934_1920 (2)

It’s finally here! The Christmas season. Time to remember what the season is all about. Time to pause and pray before a manger. May I suggest Prayer at the Manger written by my friend Cinda DeVet? It will only take a minute, and the Child is waiting. Waiting for you.

Enjoy the meditation and have a peaceful and blessed Christmas.

Prayer at the Manger

Child within me,
Child who loves the child I am,
Child who walks with me always,
Open my heart to You.

Let me know Your peace.
Let me know Your littleness,
Win me by Your sweet dependence
On Mary and Joseph.

How can it happen
That the Almighty God
Lies helpless,
An infant,
In an animal shelter?
Tell me, Baby Savior.

Your vivid infant eyes,
Wide and wise
Hold mine for a long timelessness
And impart all I need to absorb.
Always, always Love.

Child within me,
Child who loves the child I am,
Child who walks with me always,
Open my heart to You.

Cinda DeVet

As the Darkest Day Draws Near — Find Lights of Hope Here

Light of Hope for the Darkest Days

The darkest day of the year is near. On December 21, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will have the longest night of the year and the shortest period of daylight. There will be over five hours more darkness than we had back in June. That’s a lot of darkness. Below are some quotes about light to help brighten and bring some hope into our cold, dark Advent season.

John 8:12 “I am the light of the world,” he said. “Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.”

Psalm 18:28 “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”

Micah 7:8 “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”

John 1: 5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Genesis 1:3-5  “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 11:7 “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”

Proverbs 13:9 “The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.”

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

Revelation 22:5 “Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever.”

Although this is a season of dormancy and darkness, remember that the light of the world, the Christ-child, came to bring hope to those lost in the dark. How fitting that we celebrate his radiant birth in a few days…

Prayer from December 2018 edition of Magnificat:

Lord, Jesus Christ, you are the light of God’s face to us in the long night of Advent. Shine on us in darkness while we await in hope the dawning of your coming day, who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer for Purging Evil From the Church

Mary crushing the head of Satan

I don’t know if you are like me, but I have had trouble voicing my deep concerns for the Church during my prayer time. Besides saying my rote prayers or the simple prayer-plea of Help, I have struggled with finding the words to pray for my universal family, the Catholic Church.

Then…I came across this beautiful prayer written by Pedro de la Cruz and published by Catholic Prayer Cards and wow! It put into words the many things that have been bouncing around in my heart. It has become part of my daily prayers and I knew I had to share it. Will you join me in asking our Heavenly Mother to intercede for our Church?

Here is the link to the prayer card:

http://www.catholicprayercards.org/clerical-abuse-crisis/Prayer-for-Purging-of-Evil-From-Catholic-Church.html

Prayer for Purging Holy Card

Who is That Man?

Saint Anthony

Have you ever come across a person that captured your attention and left you wanting to learn more about them? Maybe you wondered, just who is that man? (or woman?) One such person that intrigued me in my younger years was Saint Anthony of Padua. Mainly because I was taught the prayerful phrase, “Tony, Tony, look around…something’s lost and can’t be found.”  I was curious why we ask Saint Anthony for help when we lose something. Was it because he lost things when he was a child?

As I researched this pious person, I found some interested things about him. Take the quiz below and you can learn more about this spiritual role model too.

  1. Saint Anthony was born in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal. What name was he given at his baptism?
    A) Anthony
    B) Fernando
    C) Martin

Saint Anthony was born into a prominent family in Lisbon, the son of Martin and Mary Bulhom. His parents gave him the name Fernando at his baptism. He took the name Anthony when he received his habit, most likely inspired by Saint Anthony of Egypt.

 

  1. How old was Saint Anthony when he went to the Abbey of Santa Cruz?
    A) 10 years old
    B) 15 years old
    C) 20 years old

Saint Anthony gave up his life of prestige and asked to be sent to the Abbey at age fifteen. He studied there for two years and then for nine years at Coimbra, learning Theology and Latin. He was probably ordained a priest during this later time.

 

  1. Saint Anthony originally started out as an Augustine, but then changed to what order?
    A) The Franciscans
    B) The Dominicans
    C) The Jesuits

Saint Anthony changed to the Franciscan order after being inspired by five Franciscans who were martyred in Morocco. He longed to be a witness for Christ and earn the crown of a martyr. The Franciscans did initially send him off to Morocco, but he never made it because he became very ill and was brought back to recover. Anthony suffered from ill health most the rest of his life and died at the age of 36.

 

  1. Saint Anthony is the patron saint of _____?
    A) Hospital workers
    B) Priests
    C) Lost things

Saint Anthony is invoked for the return of lost property. One reason comes from the story of his missing book of Psalms. This was the time before the printing press and owning a book was a very special thing. When Anthony discovered his precious book of Psalms was missing he prayed that it would be found and returned to him. After his prayer, the thief was moved to return the psalter. It turned out to be one of the novices in his order!

 

  1. Saint Anthony became famous when he____?
    A) Delivered an eloquent sermon
    B) Built a monastery
    C) Wrote a book

The answer is A. Saint Anthony was at an ordination, and for some reason, there was no one to give the sermon. So the Franciscan provincial asked Anthony to just give a short simple sermon, thinking he was fairly uneducated for he did not fully know about Anthony’s theological studies as an Augustine. Anthony’s delivery was so humble and eloquent that he quickly became famous for his preaching. Over the years the crowds that would come hear him were so great that sometimes he had to go out into a field to preach because everybody could not fit in the church.

 

  1. Once Saint Anthony attempted to preach to some heretics who would not listen to him, so he went out and preached his message to some____?
    A) Birds
    B) Wolves
    C) Fish

Tradition tells of Saint Anthony preaching to some fish, which all swam up to hear the famous speaker. After seeing hordes of fish listening to Saint Anthony, the heretics relented and returned to the truth of the faith that Saint Anthony was teaching.

 

  1. Thirty-two years after Saint Anthony’s death, his body was moved so as to be placed beneath the high altar of the church in Padua. What part of his body was found uncorrupted?
    A) His tongue
    B) His heart
    C) His feet

Though most everything else had decomposed, it was his tongue that was intact and life-like upon opening his coffin, even though the tongue is the part of our body that decays first. It was taken as a sign that God approved of his mission of preaching and teaching. Saint Bonaventure, who was present for the occasion, reverently took the tongue and said, “O blessed tongue, which has always blessed God and caused other to bless Him, now it appears evident how great were your merits before God!” His tongue was placed in a reliquary and can still be seen today.

Admiration for Saint Anthony

So, it was the simple poem “Tony, Tony look around, something’s lost and can’t be found” that initially caught my attention, but now I admire Saint Anthony for other things besides asking him to help me find lost articles.

Most notably, I admire Saint Anthony’s deep prayer life and humble nature. The scientific examination that was conducted on his bones in 1981 revealed that he had thickened knee caps, a result of kneeling in prayer for long hours every day.

Another thing I am in awe of is how he was able to preach and teach in a simple and yet profound way. He did so in a way that even the uneducated were able to understand his messages. His method included the use of allegory and symbolic explanation of Scripture. I believe this Saint can teach me a lot about my attempts to share the Good News. I wonder if the Lord is telling me…Pray more!

In summary, Saint Anthony was a simple and humble friar who preached the Good News lovingly and with fearless courage. So many miracles occurred at his gravesite that he was canonized a saint in the shortest time in the history of the church-only 11 months. In 1946 Pope Pius XII officially declared Anthony a Doctor of the Universal Church.