Friday, December 31, 2010

Boycott Pepsi: Blasphemous Superbowl ad

So... after my prolonged absence from blogging, it would be nice to ease back in with some heartfelt sentiments about the miracle of Christmas or perhaps reflecting on the joy of celebrating the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God tomorrow on 1.1.11.

However it looks like 2010 will instead end with a protest. Pepsi's Superbowl ad offerings are apparently the subject of some sort of contest, and sadly the frontrunner is this blasphemous offering.

Really, Pepsi? The Superbowl is the Holy Grail of advertising. Your marketing department, with its vast budget and oodles of employees, judged this to be among the very best reflections of the values and sentiments of Pepsico?

Pepsico has a vast empire, with brands that include but are not limited to Quaker foods, Frito Lay snacks, Hostess foods, Stacy's Pita Chips, Sobe drinks , Tropicana juices ,Gatorade drinks, Sierra Mist, Mug Root Beer, Tazo drinks, AMP energy drinks. A complete list of brands can be found here.

In case you were unable to find objections to this advertisement from any of your 285,000 employees, please let me explain that this commercial is deeply offensive to Catholics. To imply that the most sacred element of our faith is essentially a snack is disgusting.

Please join me in encouraging Catholics everywhere to:

1) boycott Pepsi and all affiliated brands
2) spread the word of this appalling slap in the face of Catholicism
3)contact the board of directors of Pepsico, their respective employers and boards of directors.

I honestly cannot envision Pepsi offering an advertisement that mocked the Jewish faith, Islam, or Hinduism. I wouldn't find it funny if they did.

It is clear that Pepsi does not want Catholics consuming their products.

Now I pray our brothers and sisters among other faiths will stand with us in this fight.

Although there is nothing funny in this ad, someone is laughing.

Blasphemy in any form is always the work of the enemy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our Lady of America: First Wednesday Devotion, in honor of St. Joseph

On Relevant Radio's popular Drew Mariani Show, I recently heard Judge Dan Lynch explaining facets of the devotion to Our Lady of America. I have found Judge Lynch to be a passionate advocate for many worthy Catholic causes, so I did a little investigation on this not-yet fully approved apparition.

In 2007, Archbishop Raymond Burke wrote a letter regarding the apparition of Our Lady of America to Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil. This does a far better job of outlining pertinent issues than I could do.

It would seem that the following, if correctly reported as delivered in 1956, would have been evaluated by Archbishop Leibold. If true, this apparition of St. Joseph is truly extraordinary - to actually hear from the head of the Holy Family, as the great saint is known for his silence.

I hope you will join me in honoring St. Joseph in a special way on the first Wednesday of every month.

1) please pray the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary ( I assume this is in addition to rather than in lieu of the Glorious Mysteries) in memory of the life St. Joseph had with Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
2) Please consider attending Mass with the intention of honoring the joy St. Joseph felt when he held Jesus, the first and every time.

The following is an excerpt from the archives of Spirit Daily.

In the revelations, the Virgin allegedly referred to herself as a "co-redemptrix of the human race" -- as did St. Joseph, her earthly spouse, who was also said to have appeared to Sister Mildred.
The revelation from Joseph, if authentic, could well be the most important associated with this hidden saint and may indicate an era in which he will take a much larger role. It is the first time we know of that he too is described as a "co-redemptor" and seems to place that title in a new context.
"My heart suffered with the hearts of Jesus and Mary," said Joseph in 1956. "Mine was a silent suffering, for it was my special vocation to hide and shield, as long as God willed, the Virgin Mother and Son from the malice and hatred of men. The most painful of my sorrows was that I knew beforehand of their passion, yet would not be there to console them. Their future suffering was ever present to me and became my daily cross. I became, in union with my holy spouse, co-redemptor of the human race. Through compassion for the sufferings of Jesus and Mary I cooperated, as no other, in the salvation of the world."
Joseph allegedly added that "immediately after my conception, I was, through the future merits of Jesus and because of my exceptional role of future virgin-father, cleansed from the stain of original sin. I was from that moment confirmed in grace and never had the slightest stain on my soul. This is my unique privilege among men.
"Mine was perfect obedience to the Divine Will, as it was shown and made known to me by me by the Jewish law and religion," Joseph allegedly said. "To be careless in this is most displeasing to God and will be severely punished in the next world. Let fathers also imitate my great purity of life and deep respect I held for my Immaculate spouse. Let them be an example to their children and fellow men, never willfully doing anything that would cause scandal among God's people.
"I desire souls to come to my heart that they may learn true union with the Divine Will," said Joseph.
The saint was said to have also appeared above a globe with clouds swirling about it, his hands similar to those of a priest during Mass, his eyes looking up as if in ecstasy. "Jesus and Mary desire that my pure heart, so long hidden and unknown, be now honored in a special way," said Joseph, who told Sister Mildred that he had been appointed the Pope's special protector and asked for a new devotion. "Let my children honor my most pure heart in a special manner on the First Wednesday of the month by reciting the joyful mysteries of the Rosary in memory of my life with Jesus and Mary and the love I bore them, the sorrow I suffered with them. Let them receive holy Communion in union with the love with which I received the Savior for the first time and each time I held Him in my arms."

Monday, September 13, 2010

How to Pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows

Wednesday we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. If you are not already familiar with the Rosary of Seven Sorrows, I really encourage you to begin this devotion. It takes you so much deeper into the Passion of Our Lord and the struggles that the Holy Family endured not to mention what an awesome blessing and responsibility it was for the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph to have been chosen to be the parents of Our Savior.

I had heard this prayer was powerful, it was not until I started praying it myself that I realized just how special it is. It is called the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, the Seven Dolors of Mary Chaplet, or the Servite Rosary.

Lots of promises attached to this one. I'll list them following an explanation of the prayer. These rosaries are not as widely available as the standard five decade version, but there is a place online to purchase a seven sorrows rosary here. This site is an outstanding resource - it has a booklet explaining the rosary in detail, a CD to accompany your prayers and a book explaining the approved 20th century apparition where Our Lady specifically requested this prayer. Awesome!

There are seven mysteries, followed by seven small beads ( called weeks instead of decades)

The prayer goes like this:

1) Act of Contrition
2) Announce the First Sorrow. Our Father... then pray Seven Hail Marys while meditating on the Sorrow
3) Announce each respective Sorrow, pray the Our Father, then pray Seven Hail Marys while meditating on the Sorrow.
4) Finish with three Hail Marys for the Tears of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
5) Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father 6) Final prayer is: ' Virgin Most Sorrowful, Pray for Us' three times.

The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, with thanks to

The First Sorrow

The Holy Prophecy of Simeon: The Blessed Virgin, filled with joy, presented her only son in the temple. How her heart must have broken to hear the prophetic words of Simeon as he foretold the suffering of the Savior and His mother.

The Second Sorrow

The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt: On a moments notice, St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin must take the Infant Jesus on a perilous journey to evade Herod's men who hunted Him. They endured cold, hunger and many hardships as they made their way to a foreign land.

The Third Sorrow

Mary seeks Jesus lost in Jerusalem: The Virgin Mary understands firsthand the profound sorrow of losing a child. For three agonizing days St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother searched for twelve-year-old Jesus, before finding Him among the scholars in the temple.

The Fourth Sorrow

Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary: Jesus, battered and condemned to crucifixion, meets His mother, on the road to Calvary. He is beaten and indescribably defiled; her sorrow is absolute as Jesus drags the cross on which He will be crucified.

The Fifth Sorrow

Mary stands at the foot of the cross: Mary stands near her dying Son, unable to minister to him as he cries "I thirst". She hears him promise heaven to a thief and forgive his enemies. His last words, "Behold your mother," a gift for all of mankind, as His Beloved Mother becomes Mother of All Peoples.

The Sixth Sorrow

Mary holds the body of Jesus: The Pieta. The passion and death are complete, but for Our Lady, grief continues. She holds His body in her arms. Meditate on her tears.

The Seventh Sorrow

Mary places the body of Jesus in the tomb: The sun goes down on the most tragic day in history. As she awaits in faith the resurrection of her Son, Mary alone in sorrow, lays the body of her Son in the tomb.

The Promises with thanks to and

According to the visions of St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) our Blessed Mother promises to grant seven graces to those who honor her and draw near to her and her Son every day by meditating on her dolors (sorrows) and entering into her grief.

  • "I will grant peace to their families."

  • "They will be enlightened about the divine Mysteries."

  • "I will console them in their pains and will accompany them in their work."

  • "I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls."

  • "I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives."

  • "I will visibly help them at the moment of their death-- they will see the face of their mother."

  • "I have obtained this grace from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy."

St. Alphonsus Liguori testifies to complementary revelations given by Our Lord to St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231) where He further promises four special graces to those dedicated to the sufferings of the co-redeeming Mother:

1. That those who before death invoke the Blessed Mother in the name of her sorrows, should obtain true repentance of all their sins.
2. That He would protect in their tribulations all who remember this devotion, and that He would protect them especially at the hour of death.
3. That He would impress upon their minds the remembrance of His Passion, and that they should have their reward for it in Heaven.
4. That He would commit such devout clients to the hands of Mary, so that she might obtain for these souls all the graces she wanted to lavish upon them.

It is hard to describe the peace I feel when I pray this rosary.
Please, Lord, let your peace remain with us always.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Here are a few reflections from noted saints and scholars on the name that makes heaven sing and the netherworld tremble:

"Mary means enlightener, because She brought forth the Light of the world. In the Syriac tongue, Mary signifies Lady." [St. Isidore of Seville +636]

"Let me say something concerning this name also, which is interpreted to mean Star of the sea, and admirably suits the Virgin Mother." [St. Bernard +1153]

"Mary means Star of the sea, for as mariners are guided to port by the ocean star, so Christians attain to glory through Mary's maternal intercession." [St. Thomas Aquinas +1274]

"This most holy, sweet and worthy name was 'eminently fitted to so holy, sweet and worthy a virgin. For Mary means a bitter sea, star of the sea, the illuminated or illuminatrix. Mary is interpreted Lady. Mary is a bitter sea to the demons; to men She is the Star of the sea; to the Angels She is illuminatrix, and to all creatures She is Lady ." [St. Bonaventure +1274]

Fantastic thoughts from the incomparable St. Louis de Montfort:

"God the Father gathered all the waters together and called them the seas or maria [Latin, seas]. He gathered all His grace together and called it Mary or Maria . . .This immense treasury is none other than Mary whom the Saints call the 'treasury of the Lord.' From Her fullness all men are made rich;" [St. Louis de Montfort +1716]

The hallowed title, "Star of the Sea," dates back to St. Jerome [+420]. It has been said that the great Doctor had originally used the phrase Stilla Maris to describe Mary as a "drop of the sea," the sea being God. A copyist's error, then, could have resulted in stilla [drop] being written down as stella [star]. Of course, the hallowed title, "Star of the Sea," suits Our Lady perfectly:
" 'And the Virgin's name was Mary.' Let us say a few things about this name, which can be interpreted to mean Star of the sea, an apt designation for the Virgin Mother. She is most beautifully likened to a star, for a star pours forth its light without losing anything of its nature. She gave us Her Son without losing anything of Her virginity. The glowing rays of a star take nothing away from its beauty. N either has the Son taken anything away from His Mother's integrity.

"She is that noble star of Jacob, illuminating the whole world, penetrating from the highest heavens to the deepest depths of Hell. The warmth of Her brilliance shines in the minds of men, encouraging virtue, extinguishing vice..."

and now my favorite part:

"She is that glorious star lighting the way across this vast ocean of life, glowing with merits, guiding by example.

When you find yourself tossed by the raging storms on this great sea of life, far from land, keep your eyes fixed on this Star to avoid disaster. When the winds of temptation or the rocks of tribulation threaten, look up to the Star, call upon Mary![St. Bernard, Second Homily on the Missus Est]

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Novena for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Looking through the calendar I noticed that we will soon celebrate the feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fast math told me that this fantastic day is nine days out, so I did a quick Google search for a novena honoring the birth of Our Lady.

I couldn't recall one myself, but surely someone in cyberspace would know an appropriate prayer.

Turns out the second entry on Google was this, posted by me on this date last year.


Happy to Be Catholic.


Still working on wiser.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mother Teresa

Jim Castle was tired when he boarded his plane in Cincinnati, Ohio, that night in 1981.
The 45-year-old management consultant had put on a week long series of business meetings and seminars, and now he sank gratefully into his seat
ready for the flight home to Kansas City, Kansas.
As more passengers entered, the place hummed with conversation,
mixed with the sound of bags being stowed.

Then, suddenly, people fell silent.
The quiet moved slowly up the aisle
like an invisible wake behind a boat.
Jim craned his head to see what was happening,
and his mouth dropped open.
Walking up the aisle were two nuns
clad in simple white habits bordered in blue.
He recognized the familiar face of one at once, the wrinkled skin, and the eyes warmly intent.
This was a face he'd seen in newscasts and on the cover of TIME.
The two nuns halted,
and Jim realized that his seat companion was going to be Mother Teresa!
As the last few passengers settled in,
Mother Teresa and her companion pulled out rosaries.
Each decade of the beads was a different color, Jim noticed.
"The decades represented various areas of the world,"
Mother Teresa told him later,
and added, "I pray for the poor and dying on each continent."
The airplane taxied to the runway
and the two women began to pray, their voices a low murmur.
Though Jim considered himself not a very religious Catholic
who went to church mostly out of habit,
inexplicably he found himself joining in.
By the time they murmured the final prayer,
the plane had reached cruising altitude.
Mother Teresa turned toward him.
For the first time in his life,
Jim understood what people meant
when they spoke of a person possessing an 'aura'.
As she gazed at him, a sense of peace filled him;
he could no more see it than he could see the wind but he felt it,
just as surely as he felt a warm summer breeze. "Young man," she inquired, "do you say the rosary often?"
"No, not really," he admitted. She took his hand, while her eyes probed his. Then she smiled.
"Well, you will now."
And she dropped her rosary into his palm. An hour later, Jim entered the Kansas City airport where he was met by his wife, Ruth.
"What in the world?" Ruth asked when she noticed the rosary in his hand.
They kissed and Jim described his encounter.
Driving home, he said. "I feel as if I met a true sister of God." Nine months later, Jim and Ruth visited Connie, a friend of theirs for several years.
Connie confessed that she'd been told she had ovarian cancer.
"The doctor says it's a tough case," said Connie,
"but I'm going to fight it. I won't give up."
Jim clasped her hand.
Then, after reaching into his pocket,
he gently twined Mother Teresa's rosary around her fingers.
He told her the story
and said, "Keep it with you, Connie. It may help."
Although Connie wasn't Catholic,
her hand closed willingly around the small plastic beads.
"Thank you," she whispered. "I hope I can return it."
More than a year passed before Jim saw Connie again.
This time her face was glowing,
she hurried toward him and handed him the rosary. "I carried it with me all year," she said.
"I've had surgery and have been on chemotherapy, too.
Last month, the doctors did second-look surgery,
and the tumor's gone. Completely!"
Her eyes met Jim's.
"I knew it was time to give the rosary back."In the fall of 1987, Ruth's sister, Liz,
fell into a deep depression after her divorce.
She asked Jim if she could borrow the rosary,
and when he sent it, she hung it over her bedpost in a small velvet bag.
"At night I held on to it, just physically held on. I was so lonely and afraid," she says, "yet when I gripped that rosary, I felt as if I held a loving hand." Gradually, Liz pulled her life together,
and she mailed the rosary back. "Someone else may need it," she said.
Then one night in 1988, a stranger telephoned Ruth.
She'd heard about the rosary from a neighbor
and asked if she could borrow it
to take to the hospital where her mother lay in a coma.
The family hoped the rosary might help their mother die peacefully.
A few days later, the woman returned the beads.
"The nurses told me a coma patient can still hear," she said,
"so I explained to my mother that I had Mother Teresa's rosary
and that when I gave it to her, she could let go;
it would be all rosary in her hand."
"Right away, we saw her face relaxed.
The lines smoothed out until she looked so peaceful, so young.
A few minutes later, she was gone."
Fervently, the woman gripped Ruth's hands.
"Thank you." Is there special power in those humble beads?
Or is the power of the human spirit
simply renewed in each person who borrows the rosary?
Jim only knows that requests continue to come, often unexpectedly.
He always responds though, whenever he lends the rosary,
"When you're through needing it, send it back. Someone else may need it."Jim's own life has changed, too,
since his unexpected meeting on the airplane.
When he realized Mother Teresa carries everything she owns in a small bag,
he made an effort to simplify his own life.
"I try to remember what really counts -
not money or titles or possessions,
but the way we love others," he says.

May God bless you abundantly.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary ask her Son Jesus to shower you with grace.

Thank you God for the grace of Mother Teresa's example. In her honor, please consider offering prayers, penance and alms for the poor, sick and dying all around the world.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thoughts on the Assumption of Our Lady

I posted this last year on the Feast of the Assumption. I hope to post again this weekend about what it must have been like in heaven on that magnificent day. Please thank God for every minute of this glorious feast!

Meditating on the Assumption pushes my brain to its limit – I know the joy in Heaven must have been indescribable but I simply cannot fathom what it was like for Our Lady to first behold the beatific vision. To meet the Father for the first time. To see her Divine Son again, in all of His heavenly majesty. To fully understand her role in the salvation of its world. To see St. Joseph ; that the two of them might wonder in all of their humility and obedience the greatness of God that He bestowed upon them such extraordinary dignity. To have choirs of angels welcoming Our Lady into Paradise. *sigh* Oh, to have been a mouse in the corner. What a glorious day it must have been!

But it was when I learned the Franciscan Crown Rosary, a prayer celebrating the joys of Our Lady, that I found something else to ponder about the Assumption.

According to one Franciscan Order, the Blessed Virgin Mary was seventy-two years old when she was assumed into Heaven. Estimating that she was fourteen when she gave birth to Jesus, she would have been forty-seven when He died. That leaves twenty-five years for her on Earth without her beloved Son. Despite her joy in His victory, the Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, it must have been incredibly painful for her to be separated from Him.

Certainly she had the company of some of the Apostles, and friends. I am sure she knew that she would see her Divine Son again one day, but we humans often need a tangible presence for comfort.

I would assume that Our Lady may have been given special consolation at times, visits from her Son or the holy angels. But maybe not. Maybe her solitary presence on Earth was part of a bigger plan.

Because she was given twenty-five years to further contemplate the mysteries of God, Our Lady must have prayed often for the salvation of her Son’s beloved children. She knew what was in store for the faithful, and she knew the desolation that befell those who rejected God.

And one tear from the spotless, sinless Virgin means more in Heaven than we can possibly imagine. How often did Our Lady plead lovingly through tears with the Father for mankind, many of whom she saw living sinful lives, oblivious or indifferent to her Son who sacrificed all while she, the Mother of God, remained, sinless, on Earth?

Perhaps those twenty-five years she spent on Earth were yet another facet of her martyrdom. She undoubtedly offered her own agony to the Father as she watched her Son suffer on the Cross. Did she offer the sorrow of being separated from her Son to the Father for the sake of mankind? I suspect so.
And such an offering from the humble Virgin would have made her Assumption into Heaven all the more glorious.

Thank you so much to Our Lord and Our Lady for this beautiful Feast Day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Real Presence: He Waits Patiently

I recall the first time that I heard the song One of These Days by the group Far From Home. The powerful lyrics "One of these days, I am going to see the hands that took the nails for me..." moved me deeply, a reminder that one day I really will meet Jesus.


Then I tonight I came across this article, one of countless inspiring reflections on the Real Presence. The words of St. Teresa of Avila struck a chord as just yesterday I wondered what it must have been like to have lived during the time Jesus was on Earth.

What was it like for people outside the ‘word of mouth’ region - people who may not have heard of the miracles of the Messiah?

Did these people feel any different as their Savior walked on the Earth at the same time they did?

Was His presence palpable?

Turns out I don't have to wonder.

"I cannot doubt at all Your Presence in the Eucharist. You have given me such a lively faith that when I hear others say they wish they had been living when you were on earth, I laugh to myself, for I know that I possess you as truly in the Blessed Sacrament as people did then, and I wonder what more anyone could possibly want."
St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church

So many of us, myself included, drive by churches, hurrying to do things that are "important". If I really and truly believe in the Real Presence, then why would I spend one free minute away from Him?

Please go see Him this week.

Maybe a daily Mass, or a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament.
An hour of adoration would be wonderful. There is even online perpetual adoration if you aren't able to get to a church.

He burns with Love beyond anything that we can understand.

He, the King of Kings, waits patiently for us.

Then one day, when you see the hands that took the nails for you, you will rejoice that you chose to spend time with Him here on Earth.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Forgot but Heaven Did Not

A few weeks ago, I returned to a hotel where my company had previously hosted a conference. My colleagues and I were stationed there for two weeks for that event, and we befriended many hotel employees during that period of time.

This trip I was quite jet-lagged upon arrival, and it was wonderful to be welcomed back by so many familiar faces. Tired but happy, I made my way to my room and briefly checked the internet before I went to bed.

After checking the news and my e-mail accounts, I logged on to Spirit Daily for the latest in Catholic current events. I read a great post about a priest and his devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux. The story of the saint's desire to be a missionary moved me, and I recall offering a heartfelt prayer to St. Therese before falling asleep.

The next morning I bumped into another favorite hotel employee, a beautiful and joyful woman who handled special events, flowers and other things for the hotel. She went out of her way to make our group feel special during our last stay and I was truly happy to see her again.

I returned from some meetings that afternoon and found a lovely bouquet of flowers in my room. I smiled and knew they were from the wonderful employee I had encountered earlier in the day.

I admired them for a bit more then got ready for dinner that evening. Two colleagues came to meet in my room before our dinner meeting. They were chatting as I was finishing getting ready. As I reached to grab something out of my suitcase, I saw the flowers on the table.

Wanting to share my sentiments of just how extraordinarily gracious I found the hotel staff to be, I picked up the flowers and started to take them over to my chatting friends.“You aren’t going to believe this, " I said. “Look at these beautiful flowers! This wonderful woman who works for the hotel sent them. Her name is Ther…."

I froze in mid-sentence. My friends looked at me expectantly.

“Oh. My. Goodness.” I said, reeling a bit.

Fortunately for me, my colleagues are devout Catholics. I turned around, flowers in hand, and said for the second time in a few minutes,

“You are not going to believe this."

I told them of seeing the article on Spirit Daily, reading the story about St. Therese of Lisieux , then saying a prayer.

I was so tired I had forgotten offering that prayer.

I continued “These flowers were sent by a lady I saw in the hall today. She works here. Her name is Therese.”

I looked at the bouquet of white lilies and spectacular pale pink roses.

“Her name is Therese. “ I said again.

I had heard of the Shower of Heavenly Roses from The Little Flower before but never came close to experiencing anything like this.

I still can’t recall exactly what I said to St. Therese in that prayer. But I know she - and God - heard it.

And I thank God for that extraordinary moment.

Thank you St. Therese. May God Bless you always.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The "Right" to Die ?

I am somewhat at a loss for words, reading this very sad story tonight. I find the ‘right to die’ movement so intrinsically evil – people don’t understand that the most extraordinary graces often go to those who a) suffer or b) care for the suffering.

Yes, the pain of losing a loved one is awful. But the risk that one day we might grieve is the price of love, isn’t it?

If the reasoning referenced in the story were carried a bit further, then really, why bother loving at all, because there is always the chance that your beloved might die before you do.

Some choices are simply not ours to make.

Finally, the reader comments for the story are in a word, disturbing.

Lord, please help us all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

Last weekend, my family took a day trip to a nearby vacation spot. We were excited in spite of it being overcast with periodic rain showers.

Along the way to our destination there is a small farm/petting zoo where the children can feed and pet farm animals. This place is a huge hit with our kids, and they had been eagerly anticipating a stop there.

Unfortunately, rain proved an obstacle and we promised our kids that we would try and visit there on the way home if the weather cooperated. We had a day filled with other kinds of fun, and were headed home when my kids once again asked if we could stop at the "the farm”.

“If it isn’t raining we’ll be able go there.” I said

“Why Mommy?” our four year-old daughter asked.

“Because the animals go inside when it rains” I explained.

“Hey! I know!” our six year- old son shouted suddenly. “How about we pray?”

I looked at him in half shock, as this was the child who once told me "didn’t really believe in Jesus.” ( he was five at the time)

He pointed at a necklace he had brought along for the trip. His kindergarten class had made necklaces with crosses on them during Lent.

“Pray, Mommy.” he explained. “How about we ask Jesus?”

I was about to explode with joy but played it cool.

“Great idea honey. Let’s ask Jesus to keep the rain away.”

My son said “You ask, Mommy. Jesus doesn’t listen to my prayers, He only listens to yours.”

This because he once asked Jesus for superpowers in prayer and has yet to see evidence of them.

I said “Honey, Jesus hears every single prayer. He loves it when you talk to Him. He will hear you if you pray.”

So we prayed for the rain to stop for a bit, so we could enjoy the farm.

A few minutes later there was a squeal from the back seat “Look Mommy, the sun! I see the sun!”my daughter shouted.

Our son shyly began to smile.

It was indeed the sun. The rain stopped. We had a great time at the farm.

And a six year-old started to wonder…

Monday, July 19, 2010

Put the Hairdryer Away

Two of the seven sacraments leave an indelible mark on a person’s soul.
One is Holy Orders. The other is Baptism.

This bit of Truth apparently lost on a group of folks sadly aiming to debaptize themselves.

Professor Laurence Stookey of the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington offers insight. “(Baptism) is a kind of adoption where you become a child of God, of the church and of the family. You can renounce your physical parents, (the church and God), but they cannot renounce you because you are their child. Anybody who makes fun of baptism probably hasn’t gone into it in enough depth to know that.”

Well said, Professor. I pray they with the blowdryers will repent and thank God Himself one day for yet another of His most precious gifts.

Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

St Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Angry Priest and the Holy Priest

Father Juan* serves as a missionary in a far away land. He was recently at a meeting with some brother priests when there arose a disagreement of sorts.

At this point please let me interject that Father Juan is as kind as they come, a gentle and holy soul blessed with an infectious smile and true spirit of joy.

Somehow he landed squarely in the sights of another priest, whom I will henceforth refer to as the Angry Priest. In front of the assembled group, the Angry Priest dressed down Father Juan and insulted him in an extremely vulgar fashion. Apparently the attack besmirched Father Juan's mother and used some of the most offensive words possible. This from one priest to another. To add insult to outrage, the profanity was delivered on holy ground, as they were congregating near a shrine.

Father Juan, humble soul that he is, was very hurt by this verbal assault.
A few days later another priest who had witnessed the exchange came to speak privately with Father Juan.

This priest was also very hurt by what he had witnessed. He knew this decidedly unpriestly behavior on holy ground had offended not only Father Juan, but it had offended God.

So this priest, who I will call the Holy Priest, did something about it. The Holy Priest did not confront the Angry Priest. He did not gossip about the Angry Priest’s outburst or harbor unkind feelings toward him.

Instead, in a selfless act of love for Father Juan, for the Angry Priest and for God, the Holy Priest did penance for the Angry Priest’s actions.

There is a town more than an hour's drive away from where Father Juan lives. The terrain is mountainous and the unpaved roads are hot and dusty.

The Holy Priest walked barefoot from this town to the town where Father Juan lives, praying the entire time, as an act of penance for the behavior of the Angry Priest. He told no one except Father Juan. The Holy Priest wanted Father Juan to know that the Angry Priest’s behavior had not gone unnoticed or without reparation.

This is a true story, and I hope you will share it.

I pray the next time I witness or suffer an injustice I will be inspired to follow the example of the Holy Priest.

To offer penance without protest out of love for his fellow man.

For those many miles, the Holy Priest truly walked in the footsteps of Christ.
* Not his real name

Thursday, July 1, 2010

God in Vegas: Part Two, the Church

For readers not familiar with my first Vegas post, this point in time finds me settling in to a pew at the back of the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer. I was not sure what I expected to find at weekday Mass a mere twenty yards off of the famous Las Vegas strip. It is, after all, a city where anything goes.

I always enjoy the adventure of attending Mass in a strange place. New faces, new priest, yet the wonderful familiarity of Mass surrounds. I was so happy with it all, and when the priest made an announcement that a rosary would be prayed in the chapel after Mass, I decided to join in.

Upon entering the chapel, I saw the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, so I bowed before Our Lord, then found a seat in near the back of the room.
I dug in my purse for my rosary and waited for prayer to begin. A woman approached me and asked in a whisper if I was planning to pray the rosary with the group, I nodded yes so she handed me a blue folder and asked if I would please lead the third decade.

To my left, across the aisle was a lovely older Asian woman who knelt with her eyes closed most of the time. Two rows in front of her sat a dark-haired gentleman who had the thick forearms and calloused hands of a skilled tradesman. To his left sat a man with salt and pepper hair, looking as though he were dressed for a business casual day at the office. Across the aisle to their right was another gentleman, wiry, bearded and bespectacled.

Behind him sat a beautiful African-American woman, the woman who had distributed the folders. I was alone in the row behind her.

The rosary began, led by the wiry gentleman in front. He spoke with a thick Scottish brogue, which was so unexpected it struck me as funny. He announced a novena to the Divine Infant of Prague and then asked if there were any intentions. He stated his own: that his son be healed of an auto-immune disorder.

The Asian woman in the back asked in faintly accented English for peace in her family, and prayed for her children. Something about the way she said it made me think this was weighing heavily on her heart.

The dark-haired gentleman spoke next. He had an Eastern-European accent, and announced his intention to pray for the healing of his family tree and for the ministry of a particular priest located somewhere in Virginia.

Mr. Salt and Pepper spoke. He was praying for his children and an unspoken intention. I speculated that he was from the central Midwest, likely Ohio.

The woman in front of me spoke in a deep, rich voice. She too was praying for her children.
It was a surreal, beautiful moment. We, who were all so different in outward appearances and from the sounds of it, from all corners of the globe, had ended up in this tiny chapel to pray before the Lord.

This might be expected in an international place of pilgrimage like Lourdes, Fatima, Knock or Kibeho.

But Las Vegas?!

This was not Sunday, and it was not a holy day of obligation.

These were people who really and truly wanted to be with Jesus. Had we been in an elevator, perhaps there may have been a polite nod among a few of us. I couldn’t think of anywhere else where the diverse group might congregate in such an intimate manner.

I will never forget that rosary. It was perhaps the most beautiful rosary I have ever had the privilege of praying. All of the different accents melted into one voice as we sang an Ave Maria after each Fatima prayer.

We were all God’s children, asking Our Father for the same thing – for His peace and healing for our loved ones.

We were all so different.

We were all the same.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prayers for the Booklady

For the Okie-Booklady: talented blogger, dedicated mother and inspiring Catholic.

Hope the prayers help.

PS Anyone wishing to make a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of St. Joseph, info can be found here

God In Vegas: Part One, The Taxi

I know God is all around us, and in some places it is easy to spot Him. Church is an obvious one. I often see God in nature. But I recently encountered Him in a place one might not expect.

I saw God in Las Vegas.

This post will be a long one so I am going to break it up into three parts: The Taxi, Church and the Strip.

Part One: The Taxi

My husband had a day of meetings and I had the day to myself. The Las Vegas strip is a familiar place to me, as work has taken me there often over the years. I am not much of a gambler and even less of a drinker so the shops, spas and restaurants are usually my main diversions. But instead of shopping or a massage, I wanted to find daily Mass.

I searched the internet and found the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer and made plans to attend their midday Mass. While I was poking around I also found that relics of Padre Pio, currently touring the USA, were going to be in Las Vegas that very week! My time in Vegas was short but I hoped to be able to catch a glimpse of those as well.

I hopped into a taxi and both the driver and the doorman seemed surprised that I had given an off-strip address. The driver inquired as to whether it was business or residence and I explained that it was a church. He said “Oh, yes, I have been there. It is a beautiful place.”

“Are you Catholic?” I asked him. “Yes, well Catholic and Orthodox, I don’t know. My mother was Catholic and my father was Orthodox. So I don’t know what I am.”

I told him about the relics of Padre Pio and that this was an incredible, once in a lifetime opportunity. He said he wouldn't go but his wife would be interested in seeing them. So I searched for the schedule on my handheld while he talked about life.

Turns out he had moved to the US thirty some years ago from France. His wife was a devout Catholic. He was deeply concerned about the state of affairs in his homeland, feeling that religious and ethnic tensions were tearing away at the France he once knew. “I don’t feel safe there. Here if you call the police, they come. In France, they don’t come.”

“I am so sorry, sir.” I said, truly meaning it. “I’ve been following what has been happening in France and I know it must hurt to watch your country deteriorate. I promise I will pray for France – and for you – when I am at Mass today.”

At this point the schedule of the Padre Pio relics appeared on my screen and I read it to my driver. Happily, they would be at the church his wife attends on Thursday of that week. As I inquired about the other locations for veneration, it became apparent that I would not likely have the chance to attend.

We had arrived at the Shrine, and my driver jumped out of the taxi and ran around to the back door. He opened my door and stood there, hesitating for a moment.
“Thank you so much, sir," I said, smiling as I handed him the fare. “Have a good day!"

“God Bless you” he said emphatically, but with the uncertainty of someone who doesn't use the term often . He looked at me and gave me a hug.

I wouldn’t see the relics of Padre Pio that week. But something told me that this fallen away Frenchman would.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Empty House

I recently came into possession of a medal of Our Lady of Tears. I have a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, experience wonderful peace and great graces by praying the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows so yesterday I decided to pray the very similar Rosary of Our Lady of Tears.

As I was meditating on the sorrows that Mary felt as she watched her most precious, beloved, sinless, innocent God-man son suffer at the hands of those He loves so much, a thought occurred to me.

There is another facet of Jesus’ Passion, and maybe one of the most painful of them all, that I had not yet considered: Jesus had to watch His mother suffer during His Passion. He saw her tears as she took in the agony he endured. Her heart undoubtedly broke a thousand times, for she understood the horror of it all far more than we can even today.

Imagine the love between this mother and Child, who is love itself. Any parent knows what it is like to watch your child cope with pain. That we would do anything to make the pain stop, but understanding that there are some hurts that we just can’t take away.

I had always reflected on Our Lady’s sorrows through the eyes of a mother. I simply can’t imagine what she endured to as she watched her Son, whom she loved so much, be beaten and spit upon, have his flesh torn from his body, be vilified, reviled and crucified by people He loved.

But I had never considered what Jesus endured watching His mother. I always thought it was so beautiful that she was there to support Him, never leaving His side. But He watched her agony too, and that no doubt tore his most Sacred Heart.

Thinking about it took me back to the night my father died, ten years ago. Despite poor health, his passing was somewhat unexpected. I thank God, for my father received many wonderful blessings that night. He received Last Rites from our parish priest, who we literally bumped into moments after hearing the shocking diagnosis that my father had just hours to live. He died surrounded by his entire family and his best friend. There was so much love in that room.

We left the hospital in a daze and drove home to a house that suddenly seemed to be the emptiest place in the world. My father was all around us – his half-finished crossword puzzle sat on the table – yet he was gone.


Though I was an adult, long married and living in another city, I slept that night in my parents’ bed. I laid on my father’s pillow and my heart ached for one more hug from the man I had loved more than anything else. I didn’t think I could hurt any more until I heard my mother’s quiet sobs.

It was the worst moment of my life.

I knew her heart was broken. She watched him suffer so much and now she had to say goodbye to the man who had been at her side for 46 years. I would have done anything to ease her pain, yet I knew there was nothing I could do to lessen her sorrow. I just laid there and whispered, “it’s okay Mom.”

Jesus felt that pain too. The pain of watching His mother’s heart break.
It is heartbreak that I can only begin to understand because of that horrible night ten years ago.

He knew that He would die on the Cross. He knew she would be at His side. And she would receive His body.

From the Cross, He knew the mother He loved with all His heart would go home to an empty house.

And He did it for us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How can I help you, Officer?

The Pope is visiting New York City. His motorcade stops for a bit and the Holy Father is sitting in the car alone with his driver. Looking around at the beautiful German engineering of the Mercedes limousine, the Holy Father says to the driver, "You know, I hardly ever get to drive. Would you please let me take this for a spin?"

The driver is understandably hesitant and says, "I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm supposed to do that."

But the Pope persists, "Please?" The driver finally lets up and says. "Oh, all right, I can't really say no to the Pope." So the Pope takes the wheel and takes off like they are on the Autobahn!

A policeman notices the speeding limo and pulls it over. The cop walks up and taps on the glass, asking the driver to roll down the window.

Immediately recognizing the Holy Father, the startled young officer asks the Pope to wait a minute. He goes back to his patrol car and radios the chief.

Cop: Chief, I have a problem.

Chief: What sort of problem?

Cop: Well, I pulled over this guy for driving way over the speed limit, but I think it is a serious VIP.

Chief: Important like the mayor?

Cop: No, no, much more important than that.

Chief: Important like the governor?

Cop: Wayyyyyy more important than that.

Chief: Like the president?

Cop: More.

Chief: Who's more important than the president?

Cop: I don't know who it is, but he's got the Pope driving for him!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Prayer for Ethan

Praying for the dead. It's one of the spiritual works of mercy.

I never met Ethan Stacy. But I am asking you to please say a prayer for him. I pray this precious 4 year old boy, who was tortured for much of the last week, went straight to heaven and is now snuggled in the Father's lap. I pray he never, ever endures another ounce of pain.

Last week, Ethan had a brief respite from being savaged and scalded. On May 6th, Ethan was locked in a bedroom - with the handle taken off the door so he couldn't escape - while his mother left to marry the man who had been beating him.

I don't understand. I am angry and sad and sickened.
But I trust you Lord.

You understand what it is like to be beaten by people who You just wanted to love. You know what it is like to watch someone you love so much be indifferent to your agony. You know what it is like to be mocked, tortured, and battered by those you love. And you know what it is like to die unjustly and cruelly at the hands of people who would be consumed with love for you, if only they knew what a precious gift from God you are.
Please Lord, give Ethan a hug from me.

I hope to meet him one day. Maybe he can show me around Heaven.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A gift for the Whiner

An update to the St. Joseph and the Ungrateful Whiner post - the nice young executive couple has agreed to rent our home for several years. Our realtor sent us the rental contract for our review yesterday.

It was Saturday, May 1st.

The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

Thank you Father.
Thank you Lord.
Thank you Holy Spirit.
Thank you Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth.


Thank you glorious, patient wonderful, loving and POWERFUL St. Joseph!

Friday, April 30, 2010

St. Joseph and the Ungrateful Whiner

I’ve always had a fondness for St. Joseph and over the years I have received truly extraordinary graces through his intercession. In fact, every petition I’ve ever presented him has been granted.

So when my husband and I placed our home on the market a few years ago, I turned to him in prayer. Our home went on the market the week before Thanksgiving in 2007. I didn’t worry or think too much about selling it over the holidays so I began my first novena to St. Joseph the first week of February 2008.

Every night I knelt next to my bed and prayed the Unfailing Novena to St. Joseph. Sure enough, at the end of nine days we had an interested buyer – two as a matter of fact. One agreed to our asking price but they were denied financing. The other made an offer that we thought was too low. So I prayed some more. Even though I didn’t notice it at the time, in hindsight I recognize that every time I finished a novena, someone would go through our house and they would generally make a verbal offer. The offers were always too low – or so I thought. Confidently I would respond to our realtor “Thanks but no thanks. We’ll wait it out for a reasonable buyer.”

So weeks turned into months and months turned into years. The offers that we turned down in the early months of 2008 suddenly began to look very good. I prayed a bit more, and then the offers from people wishing to rent our home started to come in. Our home is located in a city where a major international corporation in headquartered and executives from around the world are frequently transferred there for two and three year stints. The corporation itself is the tenant, they issue the monthly rent checks, security deposit and employ a maintenance and cleaning team to restore the home to its original condition when the lease is up. It is actually a great deal, if you are interested in being a landlord.

But I had ‘faith’ that renting was not the way to go. I had ‘faith’ that my prayers would be heard and that a buyer would turn up. Beside I didn’t want another family damaging our home and furnishings. So again my confident ‘thanks but no thanks’ response was given to our realtor.
I began to feel frustrated and told myself that I had to have patience. My prayers would be answered in God’s time. So we turned down a host of prospective tenants.

One day in November of 2009, our realtor called us with two prospective tenants, both long term executive rentals. It had been months since any potential buyers had gone through our house. For the first time we began to consider renting. I hemmed and hawed and thought of a million reasons why I didn’t want other people living in our home. I wanted to sell the home and be done with it.
My husband and I debated it and finally I came around. We agreed to rent the home only to discover that the tenants leased another home so they could be settled before the holidays. We pulled our house off the market in frustration and let it remain unlisted for a few months.

We relisted it in February and would have sold it for any of those early offers we had rejected back in 2008.

An offer to rent our home came in from an executive family with four teenagers and a dog. I was near tears thinking of the shape our home would likely be in after two years in that scenario. We have two kids and a dog and know how much damage happens to a home during the course of a day.

I fought despair and whined to heaven. I was in the midst of a spiritual tantrum when it suddenly occurred to me that God had been trying to bless me all along. Every prayer I sent to St. Joseph had been answered, just not in the way I had expected. The epiphany came that my haughty confidence and ‘faith’ was actually pride. God knew things about the real estate market that the world didn’t, and he sent buyers our way . I petulantly snubbed them, and His graces.

But good and patient St. Joseph presented my case time and time again, and Jesus graciously responded. I know how frustrating it is when my children are ungrateful for my acts of love and kindness. I was so ashamed to consider what must have been going through their minds. I had been an ungrateful whiner.

So I apologized to Our Lord and Good St. Joseph and resolved to accept God’s grace no matter how my pride tried to deceive me. I began another novena to St. Joseph and this past week two prospective executive tenants came though. Both are interested in renting. One prospect was more appealing and I just heard they are considering another property. I fought a wave of disappointment then caught myself.

God knows things I don’t. God and great Saint Joseph have been patiently trying to bless my family. I am going to get out of His way, accept His grace and say thank you for not giving up on me. And I am going to thank Him for the gift of St. Joseph, the patient and powerful patron who never fails anyone who approaches him with confidence.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Three Kings and A Porter

January 6th. The Feast of the Epiphany ...a special day honoring the three men who traveled a looong way to honor Our Lord. No TSA back then, but undoubtedly their journey was more arduous than we can imagine. So how do you think they felt upon arrival at the destinations of destinations? The chance to behold the Infant Jesus, to adore him, to spend time with the Holy Family...what wonders awaited those faithful wise men.

One more note on the Epiphany, hope you all had the chance to have some chalk blessed this year. It is a great family tradition, please pass it along to Catholic families everywhere.

The reason for my return to blogging tonight is the feast of Brother Andre. I wish to share the profound respect and appreciation I have for an amazing man well on his way to canonization.

For those of you not familiar with Blessed Brother Andre, be prepared to have your socks knocked off by the wonderful miracles God worked through a humble Canadian doorman.

My family made a pilgrimage to see some of the magnificent fruit of this holy and delightful man's life - St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Canada.The Oratory itself is breathtaking. The shrine honoring St. Joseph is filled with piles of crutches, discarded wheelchairs and other evidence of countless miraculous healings. Wherever Brother Andre went, miracles followed. However, he was the first to attribute them to the intercession of glorious St. Joseph, to whom Brother Andre had a deep devotion.

I've pasted American Catholic's brief synopsis of Brother Andre's extraordinary life below, but great in-depth info can be found here and here.

Brother Andre: The Wonder Man of Mount Royal is a fantastic book for those looking to learn more. Fans of Padre Pio or Venerable Solanus Casey might want to check out this book too. All three men embraced lowliness, serving God with their whole hearts. Sincere thanks to God for the grace of their good example.

One final note - during our visit to St. Joseph's Oratory, I approached both St. Joseph and Brother Andre with a major prayer request. I remember feeling so ashamed to ask holy St. Joseph to pray for me, someone so ridiculously imperfect. I placed my hands on Brother Andre's tomb and thanked him for loving Our Lord , St. Joseph and Our Lady so much.

The Oratory is so special, so beautiful, such holy ground that I felt like I could have floated out of there. Praying there - in fact, just being there - gave me so much peace. It really felt like you were close to God.

About a week later I received a call. My prayer request had been answered. Everything I asked for had been granted.

God is so good.

Thank you so much St. Joseph and Brother Andre. Please pray for us!

Blessed André Bessette(1845-1937)

Brother André expressed a saint’s faith by a lifelong devotion to St. Joseph.

Sickness and weakness dogged André from birth. He was the eighth of 12 children born to a French Canadian couple near Montreal. Adopted at 12, when both parents had died, he became a farmhand. Various trades followed: shoemaker, baker, blacksmith—all failures. He was a factory worker in the United States during the boom times of the Civil War.

At 25, he applied for entrance into the Congregation of the Holy Cross. After a year’s novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget (see Marie-Rose Durocher, October 6), he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal, with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. “When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years.”

In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of St. Joseph, to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, “Some day, St. Joseph is going to be honored in a very special way on Mount Royal!”

When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread.

When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, André volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he said again and again. “St. Joseph cures.” In the end he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.

For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother André and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of St. Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. André collected 200 dollars to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there—smiling through long hours of listening, applying St. Joseph’s oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.

The chapel also grew. By 1931 there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. “Put a statue of St. Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he’ll get it.” The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.

He is buried at the Oratory and was beatified in 1982.

Rubbing ailing limbs with oil or a medal? Planting a medal to buy land? Isn’t this superstition? Aren’t we long past that?
Superstitious people rely only on the “magic” of a word or action. Brother André’s oil and medals were authentic sacramentals of a simple, total faith in the Father who lets his saints help him bless his children.

Quote:“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures,” said Blessed André Bessette.

with appreciation to