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!

 

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.

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy

Lazy Hazy Crazy

 

“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” This song by the famous Nat King Cole has been on my mind lately.  The three adjectives, lazy, hazy and crazy are pretty good descriptors of my summer so far. Yesterday was the feast day of Mary Magdalen. As I contemplated her inspirational life it seemed to me that crazy, hazy and lazy, were fairly good descriptors of her life too.

Crazy: Mary’s life surely was crazy for she was possessed by seven demons! Luke tells us in 8:2 that Jesus came and freed her from this satanic bondage. After her liberation she becomes one of Jesus’ most devoted disciples.

Hazy: Things become cloudy and confusing for Mary Magdalen and all of Jesus followers when their leader is arrested, beaten and killed. Most run away and hide. Even though Mary did not fully understand, she remains faithful, staying with her crucified Lord, even to his burial site.

Lazy? No way! Who got up early in the morning while it was still dark to go to Jesus’ tomb? Who ran to tell apostles the good news that Jesus was risen? Mary was not slothful, but a passionate, fervent follower of Jesus.

Mary of Magdala, please pray with us:

Lord, help us to turn to you for strength, especially when things get crazy. Help us to trust in you when things get hazy and confusing. And Lord, help us to love and serve you with a passionate heart, full of energy and zeal, just as Mary did.

Amen.

Mary Magdalen

 

My Guest Blogger is Dead

Brother Jacopone da Todi
I  am in a writing slump, so a guest blogger is filling in. Only problem is—he’s dead. Good thing he left behind some of his writings!

Brother Jacopone Da Todi, died in 1306. He was a Franciscan poet and mystic. He would not know what a blog is – much less a computer. But he did know how to write profound words about God’s love. With “permission” (obtained through prayer) Brother Jacopone is the guest blogger today! You can find out more about this holy writer by clicking on the link at the end of this blog.

 

O SWEET LOVE,
CATCH ME IN YOUR HOOK
LIKE A FISH THAT CANNOT GET AWAY-
DO NOT SPARE ME:
I LONG TO DIE DROWNED IN YOUR LOVE.

And here are some excerpts from another one.
Please note: Words in ( ) are my addition.

O LOVE…DIVINE LOVE
YOU…(HAVE) A FRENZY OF LOVE FOR ME…
I SEE LOVE
PAINTED IN EVERY FORM AND COLOR
INVITING ME TO COME TO YOU, TO DWELL IN YOU…
I SENSE YOU IN ALL CREATION…

(YET) I FLEE FROM YOU,
AFRAID TO GIVE YOU MY HEART
I CEASE TO BE ME AND CAN NO LONGER FIND MYSELF…

(BUT) YOU, O CRUCIFIED CHRIST,
TAKE POSSESSION OF ME,
DRAWING ME OUT OF THE SEA TO THE SHORE;
THERE I SUFFER TO SEE YOUR WOUNDED HEART.

WHY DID YOU ENDURE THE PAIN?
SO THAT I MIGHT BE HEALED,
(AND KNOW…A) LOVE
WITHOUT LIMITS.

Blog on Brother, blog on!
If you want to learn more about this amazing writer click here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/blessed-jacopone-da-todi/

 

 

THE Job of a Husband and Wife

Saints Louis and Zelie Martin

Did you know that husbands and wives have jobs? I don’t mean that they each have their own a place of employment, I mean that they have a job together. Regarding the ‘chief end’ of the sacrament of matrimony, the Baltimore Catechism states that the husband and wife should “aid each other in securing the salvation of their souls.” That means the primary job of a husband and wife is to help get each other to heaven. Continue reading