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.