St. Agnes Church

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When Steven and I travel, we’re always on the lookout for Catholic churches in case we want (or need) to stop sometime.  This is why the sign for St. James Catholic Church in Sanderson caught our eye as we drove US Hwy 90 to Marathon on our way to Big Bend National Park Thursday morning.

“Three o’clock Mass on Sunday?” we both asked in disbelief.  Quite late in the day, but something to keep in mind.

Since Segy (our youngest) and I attended Mass at Big Bend, August 1993, we’d anticipated that a priest would most likely visit for Sunday Mass this time, too.  If not, we’d figure something out.  And Sanderson seemed doable.

Change in plans

We’d intended to remain at Big Bend through Monday, April 18, until we learned Friday afternoon that the park hosts only an interdenominational Sunday service at the Chisos Basin amphitheater.

“Do you want to do that?” we asked each other.  “Could we be okay with that?”

We agreed that we could do confession before Mass the following weekend, but it just didn’t feel right.  We decided instead to leave Big Bend by no later than seven-thirty Sunday morning to attend ten-thirty Mass at St. Agnes in Fort Stockton and maybe even stop by Notre Dame in Kerrville off Interstate 10, viable choices that would get us home between seven and nine that evening.

First impressions

The morning was chilly, so we quickly opened the door and stepped into the spacious foyer at St. Agnes Church.  We could see and hear a class in progress in the large adjoining parish hall.

Since we’d arrived half an hour early and no one else was around, I explored my surroundings by taking photos until a man with two teenaged boys arrived.

“Good morning!” I smiled.

The man engaged us in small talk before making his way to his pew.  “The church will be filling up soon!” he beamed.

I had no doubt that the church community would be just as welcoming as the sacred space was beautiful.

St. Agnes Church

As more and more parishioners arrived, I wondered about the time.  The church was filled with too many tantalizing treasures— exquisite stations, paintings, statues, stained-glass windows, and more— to do them justice; so I turned off my Coolpix and changed gears, hoping for a subsequent visit someday.

I walked over to the intriguing duo— a friendly woman and an equally affable man— occupying the folding chairs to the right of the sacristy’s doorway, complimented their vibrant church community, and inquired about the stations of the cross.

Sweet parishioners, Mary Gonzalez and Johnny Cordero were so eager to tell me about St. Agnes that I learned quite a bit before the opening song that prompted the start of Mass.

And the big reveal?  Besides St. Agnes and St. Joseph in Fort Stockton, St. James in Sanderson is the third mission that Fr. Serafin Avenido shepherds as part of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.  Small world, though not so much for Father, who travels more than sixty-five miles to Sanderson to celebrate Sunday Mass at three o’clock.

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Deacon’s homily (edited from the audio recording of 10:30 A.M. Mass)

We sit here, and we listen.  Last week we heard a long gospel, and today’s is very short.  You wonder, “What is the Holy Spirit trying to tell us?”

So today I’ll tell you a story of a good shepherd whose flock asked questions as they walked together.

Why do we continue celebrating Easter?”

As they walk, the good shepherd tells his followers, “Remember the Good Shepherd who opened salvation— all the gates of heaven— to us, his faithful.”

“How did he do this?”

“God, the father, gave up his son, the true lamb, as a sacrifice for all of us.”

“What does that mean?  Why do continue to celebrate Easter?”

“It takes our response to Easter to pass on [the faith], to help each other out.”

“How can we with all these faults, all these failures, all these weaknesses, disease, violence?  How can we continue the celebration of Easter?”

“Don’t you know that, through [Christ’s] sacrifice, the Holy Spirit, and [all that the Church offers], God graces you with his infinite love and mercy?”

“How do we know this?”

“Do you not know that, as you walk with me [and] live your lives, what I’ve asked you to do and what I do for you [gives] you strength [through] grace and forgiveness?”

The shepherd’s followers think back on the graces received that helped them with their problems— the times they received sacraments, the times they were embraced when they were most in need, the times they were forgiven, and the times they forgave someone— and they begin to understand why celebrating Easter is so necessary.

“So what do we do?”

“Celebrate Easter.  Be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection.  You are today’s disciples.”

Members of the flock exchange glances.

“Where does this lead us?  What do we do?”

“Look for the good shepherds.  Look especially for the Good Shepherd who will lead you if you follow his ways.  Be good disciples, and lead others as well.  Remember that each of us was baptized to be priest, prophet, and king.  Remember that God sacrificed his own son to open heaven to all, that the Good Shepherd called us to be good people, holy people, to lead each other to the divine pasture, heaven.”

By this point, the shepherd’s followers are inspired.  They know they can walk through the dark valley of tears [through faith].

“So how about this celebration?”

“Let me tell you.  It’s not about a great deal of music, food, dancing, drinking, partying, flowers, and barbecue.  No!  It’s not that kind of celebration.

“It’s responding to God’s call with your mind, heart, and soul,” the good shepherd continues.  “It’s responding with gratitude, praise, thanksgiving, and forgiveness.  It’s asking, ‘What am I to do, Lord?  What is my mission?  Wake me up where I am.  Let me follow you.  How am I to respond within my family, my community, my parish?  What am I being called to do?’  Then just do it.

“Don’t worry.  God will give you what you need.  He’ll provide the grace, the strength, the forgiveness to get up and follow that Divine Shepherd.  Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

“And then there you’ll be, entering the most divine pasture that you’ve ever seen, with anything and everything that you’ve ever wantedAmen.”

Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, you choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame.  Grant us so to cherish the memory of your youthful martyr, Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in you.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

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Deacon’s homily (audio recording: transcribed & edited, 2 pp.)…

Links of interest…  Fort Stockton: about / attractions / county seat…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish…  Santo Niño de Atocha: miraclenovenaprayers / requests / Sanctuario de Chimayo (website) / Traditions (blog)…  St. Agnes: about (more) / devotions (more) / eve & day / feast day (more) / for kids / martyr (more) / novena / prayer (more)…  St. Agnes Church: Catholic directory / facebook / parish history / pastoral team

WP pages…  Praise…  Saints…  St. Joseph

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Finding St. Rita…  Forever grateful…  Grapes of generosity…  Guadalupe Church…  Kateri’s sainthood…  Little gifts…  Living one’s gifts…  San Giuseppe…  Slice of heaven…  St. Elizabeth Church…  St. Michael chaplet…  St. Monica…  St. Peregrine relic…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Vattmann church

Then and now

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Of all the Texas Tropical Trail Region outings, Kingsville certainly made a long-lasting impression, mind, heart, and soul when we visited the Missionary Daughters’ Solemn Place of Prayer and learned about Venerable Julia Navarette, known also as Julia of the Thorns of the Sacred Heart, though more lovingly regarded as “Mother Julia.”

Then: December 21, 2010

Sister Maxie, spokesperson for the Missionary Daughters of the Most Pure Virgin Mary (MDPVM) congregation, was all smiles with stories to tell and a dream to share.

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With the assistance of community activists like Maggie Salinas, Sister Maxie and the Missionary Daughters hoped to restore the original school house where their foundress, Mother Julia, generously invested her gifts and talents, time and love to spiritually nurture South Texas residents in our Catholic faith.

We were inspired!

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Growing curiosity

As years passed, my need to know grew stronger and stronger.  How is the school house restoration progressing?  Did they get the funding they so desperately sought?  Who’s helping them?  So many questions and no one to ask.

Again and again, I kept telling Steven, “I want to go back.  I have to see how they’re doing.”  But, mostly, I wanted to hear more stories from Sister Maxie.

Then, late October 2015, an article in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times really piqued my curiosity.  Mother Julia’s museum was to open to the public in November!

Now: April 2, 2016

Of course, life is funny.  Time passes.  We forget.  We don’t have time.  Then, just like that, everything falls into place just because.

Driving north from Brownsville on Highway 77, we took an unexpected detour, drove up and down streets in search of the restaurant where we’d eaten more than five years ago, and settled on a new place instead for an early afternoon lunch.

“Do you think we can we look for the Missionary Daughters’ Solemn Place of Prayer afterwards?” I asked even before we got off the vehicle.

“Yes.”

And, wouldn’t you know it?  By the time we got back in the vehicle, I’d forgotten.

But Steven hadn’t! 

So off we went with great anticipation.  And, oh, my! 

The Sisters’ dream had indeed come true!

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Prayer from the Friars of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph (2016: 1061

Grant us, Lord God, a vision of your world as your love would have it: A world where the weak are protected and none go hungry or poor, a world where the riches of creation are shared and everyone can enjoy them, a world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect, a world where peace is built with justice and justice is guided by love.  Give us the inspiration and courage to build it through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

April 3, 2016

Act in such a way that all those who come in contact with you will go away joyful.  Sow happiness about you because you have received much from God; give, then, generously to others.  They should take leave of you with their hearts filled with joy, even if they have no more than touched the hem of your garment (St. Maria Faustina Kowalska).

April 4, 2016

Then, overcome by joy, I cried, “Jesus, my love.  At last I have found my vocation.  My vocation is love.  In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love; and then I will be all things” (St. Thérèse de Lisieux).

April 5, 2016

If you truly want to help the soul of your neighbor, you should approach God first with all your heart.  Ask him simply to fill you with charity, the greatest of all virtues; with it you can accomplish what you desire (St. Vincent Ferrer).

April 9, 2016

“If we wish to make any progress in the service of God, we must begin every day of our life with new ardor” (St. Charles Borromeo).

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Mother Julia’s chapel & museum – 408 East Richard Avenue – Kingsville, TX

Links of interest…  El Dorado Restaurant…  In memoriam: Sister María Del Carmen Villalpando (more)…  Maggie Salinas (#7)…  Missionary Daughters…  Museum to honor Kingsville’s Mother Julia (10.26.15 article)…  Praying to the saints:   Christian practice / gracious advocates / heavenly intercessors / intercessory prayer / litanies / novenas (221) / why pray to the saints…  Sainthood: 87 new causes for sainthood / becoming a saint (five stepshow – models – process – rules – what is – what makes) / John Paul’s beatification…  South Texas Catholic…  St. Martin of Tours Parish: 100 years as a faith community / diocese parish finder / facebook…  TX Tropical Trail Region…  Venerable Julia Navarette: about (p. 15) / anniversary Mass / blessings & thanksgivings (photos) / chapel honors life, work / decrees of the congregation for sainthood causes / gardener’s miracle / halfway to sainthood / Julia of the Thorns of the Sacred Heart / Solemn Place of Prayer (chapel)…

WP posts…  Holy relics…  Honoring Joselito…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Venerable Julia Navarette…  Venerable Margaret

God’s lovely gifts

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Steven and I arrived a whole hour before Saturday evening Mass and, thanks to the recent time (light) change, Our Lady of Guadalupe looked picture perfect in its palm greenery; so how could I ignore God’s impromptu invitation to bask in the windows and the stations that I’d last photographed in 2012?

And I discovered something new!

God’s lovely gifts

Among the exquisite stained-glass windows are sixteen— not fourteen or fifteen, but sixteen— stations of the cross!  Amazing.

I can understand the fifteenth station, the glorious resurrection; but to depict Jesus in the garden before his way of the cross?  Extraordinary.

As for the Last Supper?  When one glimpses the back altar from either side of the front altar, one can see the lit portion below the mantle.  Stunning.

What lovely gifts God has in store when we make time for him!

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We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last

0OLG4816-71OLG4816-2 Through her heart his sorrow sharing,
all his bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword had passed.

Oh how sad and sore distressed
was that mother highly blessed
of the sole-begotten one!

Christ above in torment hangs;
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying, glorious son.

3OLG31916-442OLG31916-45Is there one who would not weep,
o’rwhelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain
in that mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of his own nation
saw him hang in desolation,
all with bloody scourges rent.

5OLG51912-394OLG51912-50Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender child
till his spirit forth he sent.

O, sweet mother, fount of love,
touch my spirit from above;
make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ, my Lord.

7OLG31916-406OLG31916-41Holy mother, pierce me through;
in my heart each wound renew
of my savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
mourning him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live.

9OLG31916-298OLG51912-140By the cross with you to stay,
there with you to weep and pray,
this I ask of you to give.

Virgin, of all virgins blest,
O refuse not my request:
let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying son of yours.

10OLG31916-28Wounded11OLG31916-27 with his every wound
steep my soul till it has swooned
in his very blood away.

Be to me, O virgin, nigh
lest in flames I burn and die
in that awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shalt call me hence,
be your mother my defense,
be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
may my soul your goodness praise,
safe in paradise with you.

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Contact information

Stabat Mater, a thirteenth century hymn that tells the story of Our Lady of Sorrows during the passion of Christ, was translated by Fr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878) from Liturgia Horarum.  (See links below.)   An abridged version accompanies the stations in Behold! The Way of the Cross (Gouin, Creative Communications for the Parish, 2001).

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Links of interest…  Bearing our own cross: A fiat for Easter…  Betrayal…  Catholic Harbor of Faith & Morals (website)…  Final hours & death…  Garden of olives: agony (more) / prayer of Jesus / story…  Last supper & betrayal…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (Brownsville, TX): about / facebook…  Palm Sunday: about / date / facts / history / prayer (biddingblessing of palmsmorereflections) / traditions…  Passion Sunday (nine things to know & share)…  Personalizing the passion of Jesus Christ…  Stabat Mater (hymn): aboutAll the women of the Bible / iBreviary / Preces Latinae / video (YT) / Virtrus Online…  Sermons of St. Francis de Sales: On our Lady (preview)…  Sorrowful mysteries of the holy rosary…  St. Vianney sermons: Beware if you have no temptations & Temptations…  Stabat Mater: hymn / liturgical sequence / seven sorrows / more / YouTube (more)…  Stations of the cross (YT)…  Trusting in God completely & in uncertain times…  Holy Saturday: looking back & peering ahead & twelve things to know…  Via Crucis: Walking the passion with Jesus: one & two…  Way of Holy Week

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  Disquieting moments…  Father’s roses…  Full circle…  Growing pains…  Guadalupe Church…  In the pink…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Living one’s gifts…  Mercy and justice…  Our Lady’s church…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Recollections…  Sacred Heart Church…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sioux chapel stations…  St. Anselm Church…  St. Mary’s…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Venerating St. Anthony

Father’s roses

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Last year Steven and I drove to Goose Island for Palm Sunday Mass at Stella Maris, and Father Ralph was overjoyed to see us.

“I was hoping you two would show up!  I’ve got great news!  Follow me so we can talk,” Father said, leading us to the slightly bigger than standing room only space behind the altar.

Miracle shared

Without being asked Joe, attentive sacristan and devoted friend, opened a folding chair for Father to sit as he shared his latest stories with us.

“I’m healed!” Father gushed and then proceeded to fill in all the glorious details as Steven bent down to listen and I looked up intently, almost breathlessly, from where I sat on the old wood floor.

We couldn’t get enough!  After all the trips to M.D. Anderson and more, Father Ralph’s news was the answer to our collective prayers.  We were so grateful for Father’s reprieve from his medical roller coaster ride that we couldn’t stop smiling.  Again and again we thanked and praised God for his merciful kindness.

Faith revisited

Father Ralph was on fire.  He was  a walking-talking miracle whose homily, in part, focused on a familiar story from the Bible.

Or take the woman who had obviously heard Jesus preach.  She might even have seen some of the miracles.  She’d gone to doctors for twelve years.  She had a hemorrhage.  Only women can appreciate the misery of all that, day in and day out.  No cure.  And she’d spent all her money.

’If I could just touch the hem of his garment,’ she thought, ‘I would be healed.’

That’s a position of faith, isn’t it?  She wanted a point of contact, so she could release her faith.  And the power of God would come flowing through her body.

Did she find it easy to get to Jesus?  Oh, it was easy to see him.  ‘Yes, there he is over there.  Uh-huh.  I see the prayer shawl.  Oh, my goodness.  There are so many people around him!’

She didn’t let the press interfere with the possibility of cure.  She didn’t let the devil talk her out of it.  She pushed and shoved— did whatever she had to do— until, finally, she got behind him.  She touched his garment, the hem of his prayer shawl.

Jewish men wear the tallit in Israel to this day when they pray at the Wailing Wall.  I’ve been there.  I’ve seen it.  I have one that I use.  At the base of it are all these tassels that represent the Commandments of God, the promises of God.

What the woman was thinking was, ‘If I touch the one that keeps all the Commandments and if I touch the one for healing, I will be made whole.’

The woman released her faith when she touched it, and Jesus said, ‘Virtue has come out.  Who has touched me?’

’I did,’ the woman replied.

’Your faith has made you whole,’ Jesus told her.

So it’s always an impediment to get to Jesus, isn’t it?  Sometimes it’s our own doubt.  Most of the time, it’s the devil.

‘Oh, but you don’t deserve to have a miracle.  Remember what you did when you were a young man?  Or a young woman?  Just forget that, and just keep going.  You can’t change, and God can’t forgive you.  You’ll never have a miracle.’

Oh, my goodness.  The devil is the father of lies, isn’t he?

Although Father’s homily wasn’t perfectly geared for Palm Sunday, it certainly touched on the faith— the “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)— that Jesus embodies for us to witness during Holy Week.

Lesson gleaned

Through Father Ralph God refreshed us with yet another of his extraordinary lessons.  Believing requires stoutheartedness, courage, and patience.  Believing is trusting that God knows best.  “Your will be done,” not mine (Matthew 26:42).

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Father’s roses

After Mass Father Ralph insisted that Steven and I accompany him to the back yard.  With scissors in hand he snipped at his prized rosebush; created a lovely, fragrant, lavender-pink cluster; and jubilantly presented me with the unexpected bouquet.

Thoughtful?  Yes.  Then again, healthy or unwell, that’s Father Ralph.

On the drive home, in the days that followed, and especially now that Father Ralph’s health has waned again, his roses are more than just a sweet remembrance of our time at Stella Maris; they’re an enduring recollection of God’s loving mercy celebrated on Palm Sunday one year ago.

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March 18, 2016

I struggled with [the devil] in my imprisonment.  At one moment I thought I was victorious; the next day I was defeated.  This cruel and stubborn fight lasted five years.  Then God gave me the grace to triumph over my enemy (St. Augustine).

March 20, 2016

“The Mass is long,” you say; [to which] I add, “because your love is short”  (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

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Father Ralph’s homilies: 10 Oct 2010 / 22 Jan 2012 / 16 Sept 2012

Links of interest…  Christ’s way of the cross…  Fr. Ralph: service to God & country / story of healing (3.13.15)…  How to overcome worry by trusting in God’s providence…  Open-&-shut case for Jesus…  Pope laments “defeated Christians” who do not fully trust in God…  Saints: novenas (188) / prayer…  St. Peregrine: about / articles (prayer cards) / biography / “cancer saint” / chaplet / feast / friends of / healing intercessor & friend / healing power / May 1st / novena / prayer / prayer requests / prayers / shrine / story…  Stella Maris: anniversary / facebook / history (more) / Lamar, TX (more) / marker…  Trusting in God completely / in uncertain times

WP posts…  Delightful visit…  Healing service…  Holy relics…  Memorable as ever…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayers and blessings…  Saintly connections…  St. Peregrine relic…  Stella Maris…  Stella Maris moments

Venerating St. Anthony

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Three weeks ago Steven and I met up again with Fr. Mario Conte, OFM Conventual from the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy and Tom Muscatello, USA liaison from St. Adalbert Friary in Elmhurst, NY, and picked up right where we left off almost three years ago at St. Anthony’s in Rockford, IL, June 14, 2013.

Meeting Abelardo

SAP61413-119What gorgeous grounds!  I had no idea that Illinois could produce such green grass and beautiful plants, so— catching sight of the gardener— I walked a good distance to where he was and thanked him for making my day.  In turn, Abelardo, who hails from Michoacán, Mexico, expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to do what he loves.  Then, in the middle of our lovely conversation, Steven called out that Mass would start soon so off I went after our cordial goodbyes.

Greeting Fr. Mario

SAP61413-137I looked quite disheveled on entering church.  I hadn’t even combed my hair!  But there was Steven pushing past my I’m-not-ready moments.

“Look, there’s Fr. Mario.  Here’s your chance.  Go talk to him.”

I felt even more pressured when Steven walked up to Fr. Mario and they both turned to look at me.

Oh, my gosh!  What could I do but smile? 

I was so glad to finally meet Fr. Mario that I quickly forgot my appearance, and we’ve been in each other’s thoughts and prayers ever since.

Venerating St. Anthony

During Mass Fr. Mario welcomed Steven and me as “the two who traveled the farthest, all the way from Texas” to be among the faithful venerating St. Anthony’s first-class relics that evening.  We felt so very specially blessed.

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SAP61413-170      SAP61413-232      SAP61413-171

Tribute

Good St. Anthony, in God’s providence you have secured for his people many marvelous favors.  You have been especially celebrated, good
St. Anthony, for your goodness to the poor and the hungry, for finding employment for those seeking it, for your special care of those who travel, and for keeping safe from harm all who must be away from home.

You are widely known also, good St. Anthony, for securing peace in the family, for your delicate mercy in finding lost things, for safe delivery of messages, and for your concern for women in childbirth.

In honoring you, St. Anthony, for the many graces our Lord grants through your favor, we trustfully and confidently ask your aid in our present need.

V.  Pray for us, good St. Anthony.
R.  That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray…  May it be a source of joy, O God, to your Church that we honor the memory of your confessor and doctor, St. Anthony.  May his spiritual help always make us strong; and, by his assistance, may we enjoy an eternal reward.  This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.  Amen.

Contact information

Anth61413-1     Anth11713d-StA     Anth11713a-StA     Anth10614-2b     Anth61413-2a

SAP61413-199

SAP61413s-27

SAP61413s-10

Links of interest…  Anthonians: basilica /  book (Sermons) / Dear St. Anthony (petitions) / Easter petitions  / Friar Mario: meditations (videos), relics visit, & “writing reed” / Messenger of St. Anthony (website) / newsletterSt. Anthony USA (petitions; portal to Italian website) / wallpapers & images…  Help from heaven…  Holy relics (more – more)…  Miracles…  Nine Tuesdays devotion…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony: about (more) / “ark of the covenant” (index – more) / biography / for peace of mind / glorious feast day / mail deliveries (S.A.G.) / miracles & traditions / prayers (more) / shrine / thanksgiving (pdf) / wonder worker…  St. Anthony of Padua Church: diocesan page / parishes online / St. Joseph altars / video (100th anniversary) / website…  St. Bonaventure (more) / about (more) / archive (more) / bishop & cardinal / memorial / patron (more) / prayer (liturgy archive – more – praying with) / sayings…  What’s the story with relics…  YouTube: Hymn to St. Anthony of Padua (composed by Father Ike Carpio, OFM+; sung by Brother Ariel Manga, OFM) / Si quaeris miracula (sung by Padre Maurizio nella Basilica di San Francesco a Bologna)…

WP page…  Words to ponder (January 9, 2013 & other related entries)

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Budding relationships…  Christ’s passion…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  My Franciscan Crown…  Prayer…  Recollections…  Saint of miracles…  Si quaeris miracula…  Soulful…  St. Anthony…  St. Anthony chaplets…  St. Felix…  Tony’s big day

Christ’s passion

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When we visit a church, new or familiar, I photograph the stations of the cross with relish.  Sometimes the end result includes dark, fuzzy, and/or cropped pictures that make me long for do-overs.  Other times I’m simply amazed at the beauties that pop out at me unexpectedly as I search my ever-expanding photo files for visuals that complement my writing.  But, always, I’m so drawn to the stations that I wonder how they were chosen to begin with.  And, if they could tell their story, what would they say?

Christ’s passion

July 2014, I fell head over heels in love with the stations of the cross during our eight-day silent retreat.  And, just last month, I serendipitously discovered why.

Thanks to a lifelong lingering memory, I can trace my initial fascination with the story of Christ’s passion to a long-ago prayer that mom recited nightly for my baby brother and me as we would “go to sleep with the angels.”

“Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar” (Mendoza, 1939).

Powerful devotion

Life never has seemed so full of trouble and strife as now.  But, amid our daily anxieties, we never lose hope.  God’s help is near at hand.  With it we look forward to a share in Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Our present sufferings cannot be compared to the glory that one day will be revealed in us.  All we need do is remain faithful and constant.  In our daily cares and preoccupations we must keep our heart steadily fixed on our true goal.

We will find it much easier to do so when we perform our work with the spirit and outlook of Christ.  In his sacred passion and death our Savior opened the way for us to follow.  There is no other path to God, our father.

The stations, [Christ’s] way of the cross, are our way to salvation, too.  We must often apply their power to our own life situation.  This can be done anywhere: at home, on a park bench, waiting for a train or a friend.  When our schedule is crowded, we can think and pray at least one station a day.

Our Lord doesn’t expect long or eloquent prayers.  We need not even use words; a brief silent lifting of our hearts to him suffices (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-8/14, p. 2).

Opening prayer

God, our heavenly father, we raise our minds and hearts to you in praise and thanksgiving.  Though weak and sinful, we wish to follow your only son, our Lord Jesus, on the way of the cross.  May your Holy Spirit help us use our Savior’s strength effectively in our place in life.  We ask the special aid of our blessed Lady, ever virgin and mother, in following Christ and in making his way of the cross our way of life.  Amen.

1: Jesus is condemned.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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2: Jesus takes his cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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3: Jesus falls the first time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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4: Jesus meets his mother.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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5: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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7: Jesus falls the second time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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8: Jesus speaks to the women.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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9: Jesus falls the third time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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11: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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12: Jesus dies on the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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13: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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14: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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Concluding prayer

O God, our heavenly father, by your great mercy we are born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your son.  We look forward to the inheritance, imperishable and unfading, which you have reserved for us in heaven.  We thank you for calling us to eternal glory in Jesus, our savior.  We ask your forgiveness for the many times we have failed in following Christ.  May the remembrance of his life, passion, and resurrection sustain us on our earthly way of the cross.  May his example strengthen us in faith, hope, and love.  And when we come to die, may we, by your gracious goodness, be born again to eternal life.  Amen.

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Contact information

Prayers are from Your Way of the Cross (FMA, B-13R, pp. 3 & 11, respectively).  Your Way of the Cross leaflets and the Retreat Booklet are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; and A Prayer in Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows is from the Servants of Mary, The Servite Order, 1439 South Harlem Avenue, Berwyn, IL 60402-0712.

Stations of the cross (left to right, top to bottom) can be found in the following sacred spaces: Sts. Cyril & Methodius (Corpus Christi, TX), St. Anthony of Padua (Rockford, IL), Most Holy Trinity (Covington, LA), St. Mary Cathedral (Austin, TX), St. Anselm (Madisonville, LA), St. Mary’s (Brownsville, TX), Christus Spohn Hospital Chapel (Corpus Christi, TX), Oblate School of Theology (San Antonio, TX), and St. Joseph (Port Aransas, TX), respectively.

FMA-B814-a   FMA-B814-b   FMA-B26-a   OSM-11246b   OSM-11246a

FMA-B13R-a   FMA-B13R-d   FMA-B20-20   FMA-B20-a   FMA-B20-d

February 25, 2016

Many who would willingly let themselves be nailed to a cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers cannot bear with a Christian spirit the pinpricks of each day!  Think, then, which is the more heroic
(St. Josemaría Escrivá).

February 29, 2016

“We must not seek the cross in extraordinary sufferings seldom, if ever, encountered; we must look for it in the duties, the life, the difficulties, and the sacrifices of each day and of each moment” (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, Divine Intimacy).

March 9, 2016

“We could not go to Calvary to offer ourselves with him and thus share in the fruits of his sacrifice, so Jesus brought Calvary to us” (Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik, The Basic Book of the Eucharist).

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St. Anthony of Padua Church – Rockford, IL

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Grounds at the Oblate School of Theology – San Antonio, TX

Links of interest…  Disciples’ diary (Peter & Judas)…  Franciscan Mission Associates: contact / devotional saintslight a candle / prayer requests / quarterly newsletter / saint & prayer of the month / who we are…  Prayer before the cross / a crucifix…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotions / fish eaters / for families / for kids / how to domaking them worthwhile / origins / prayers (video & music) / printables / puppet show (YT) / scriptural (JPII) / significance / way of the cross…  Ten lessons from the agony in the garden…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis…  Videos: intro & street stations for commuters & bikers….  Way of the cross (Artola, 2005; preview)…  What Jesus saw from the cross…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Disquieting moments…  Full circle…  Growing pains…  In the pink…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Living one’s gifts…  Mercy and justice…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Recollections…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sioux chapel stations…  St. Anselm Church…  St. Mary’s…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Venerating St. Anthony

Full circle

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February of last year Steven and I attended Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle and afterwards walked the stations of the cross in keeping with
St. Dominic’s posturing, body, mind, heart, and soul.

Unexpected experiences

We’d just read aloud from our Behold! The Stations of the Cross booklets when a woman interfaced with us briefly before heading to the cafeteria, or so we thought.

The cross now becomes too much for Jesus to bear; so the soldiers grab a bystander, Simon, to help Jesus carry his cross.  While Jesus carries the more significant burden, Simon plays an important part in the Passion of our Lord.  In helping Jesus carry this wood, Simon serves as an example for all who contemplate this awkward scene.  We, too, are called to be Simon, to help our brothers and sisters carry the weight of their hardships and difficulties.  Simon was transformed by this unexpected experience.  We, too, will be transformed by our acts of good will to all who are in need of our assistance.

My Lord, help me be another Simon in the world today.  Show me your grace and blessing for the efforts I make each day to help people in their needs.  Help me not only assist those who call upon me for help, but also give me the courage to seek out those who might be in need.  Give me a strong desire to pray, fast, and give alms for those who are most in need.  Through my self-denial, restore dignity to those who are in desperate need of human kindness.  May I give all of these things freely expecting nothing in return (Gouin, 2001, pp. 6-7).

As I took photos, Steven’s shared observations attacked my peaceful contemplation like a double-edged sword.

“Just forget about it,” Steven insisted.  But how could I?

Looking back at the fourth station, I could see the woman doing to everyone else what she had done to us.  She’d walked the path in reverse (finish to start), imposing pangs of guilt on prayerful thoughts, betraying inner voices (of reason) with malicious intent.

“Aren’t sacred spaces supposed to be safe?” I asked rhetorically.  “Is there nothing to stop her?”

I didn’t understand.  What was the lesson?  Simon’s story encouraged gentle giving, not willful taking.

Hesitation

Still struggling to make meaning, we fell back into step and continued… until the woman passed us by as quietly as possible at the eleventh station.

I stood very still, followed her with my eyes, and observed.

The woman approached a young couple with two kids at the tenth station, told her story, and waited for the man to help her out.  The man reluctantly moved his hand near his pants pocket two or three times but never reached within.  Clearly, he couldn’t afford to dole out any money; but the woman was relentless.

Confrontation

Right or wrong, I walked over to protect the young family.  When I reminded the woman that Steven had given her enough money to buy a few sandwiches and sodas at the cafeteria, she feigned ignorance.  So I told her we’d seen her in action with everyone else walking the stations.  We hadn’t even been the first ones.  Steven had seen “lots of bills” in her other hand, but he’d given her money anyway on the chance that she might be telling the truth.

The woman was furious.  I was the guilty party, she said.  Why was I so mean?  Why was I speaking so badly about her?  I was to blame, not her.  She had every right to do as she wanted, and she refused to leave.

What a terrible memory! I thought, as the woman persisted in her imagined woes.  Is this how I want to remember my visit to San Juan?  I’d waited years to visit, years to embrace the devotion.  Yet this woman had disrupted my tranquility.  And it was all my fault, of course.

The woman finally left, and I felt totally drained.  I did battle and lost, I thought, as I made my way back to Steven at the eleventh station.

“That was so unfair.  I couldn’t let her take advantage of that young couple.  I had to speak up.”

“You didn’t stop her.  She’ll just be more careful the next time she passes you by.  Just forget about it,” Steven insisted once more.

Full circle

How could I just sluff it off?  How could I come to terms with such blatant behavior?  I needed to regain my equilibrium, but my mind and my heart were all over the place.  I needed desperately to calm down, complete the stations, and be still again.

For a while serenity seemed unattainable but, soon enough, I was peaceful and wholly engaged.  Our unexpected experiences had brought us full circle, and I felt restored.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, out of love for us you sent your own son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, as our savior.  In him we are redeemed and saved.

Despite our weakness and sinfulness we wish to imitate him and follow in his footsteps.  Send your Holy Spirit, we implore you, to assist us as we make the way of the cross.

We invoke the aid of our Blessed Lady and all the saints that we may be enabled to follow Christ and make his way of the cross our way of life and love.  Amen (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-26, p. 3).

 1: Jesus is condemned to death.

 “And they all gave their verdict; he deserved to die” (Matthew 14:64).

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 2: Jesus takes his cross.

“Pilate handed him over to be crucified” (John 19:16).

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 3: Jesus falls once.

“I looked; there was no one to help” (Isaiah 63:4).

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 4: Jesus meets his mother.

“Woman, this is your son” (John 19:26).

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 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus.

“They seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, and made him shoulder the cross” (Luke 22:26).

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 6: Veronica wipes Jesus’ face.

“In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

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 7: Jesus falls again.

“He was praying all the time for sinners” (Isaiah 53:12).

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 8: Jesus speaks to the women

 “Weep rather for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).

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 9: Jesus falls a third time.

“They leave me lying in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15).

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10: Jesus is stripped of his clothing.

“They shared out his garments by casting lots” (Matthew 27:35).

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11: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

“They crucified him there and the two criminals also” (Luke 23:33).

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12: Christ dies on the cross.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

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13: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

“Now let God rescue him if he wants him” (Matthew 27:43).

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14: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

“He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb” (Matthew 27:60).

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15: Christ is risen, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Lastly, he showed himself to the eleven themselves while they were at table.  He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.  And he said to them, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:14-16).

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Contact information

Text for the stations is based on Your Way of the Cross (B-8/14) from Franciscan Mission Associates (FMA), P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

FMA21216-1      FMA21216-2      FMA21216-3      FMA21216-4

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February 14, 2016

“It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially” (St. Francis de Sales).

February 15, 2016

“The love of God inspires the love of our neighbor, and the love of our neighbor serves to keep alive the love of God” (St. Gregory the Great).

February 17, 2016

“Silence is not a virtue when charity calls for speech” (St. Poemen, c. 340-450).

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Links of interest…  Delanceyplace: archives / homesecond guessing ourselves (Presence)…  Prayer before the cross / a crucifix…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Simon the athlete…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotions / fish eaters / for families / for kids / how to do / origins / prayers (video & music) / printables / puppet show (YT) / scriptural (JPII) / significance / way of the cross…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Disquieting moments…  Growing pains…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Mercy and justice…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sioux chapel stations…  Today’s Beatitudes

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