Our Lady’s snow

To avoid the colder, rainier drive to church on Friday, Steven and I attended the vigil Mass at St. Benedict’s at six-thirty Thursday evening.

Fr. Luis and Deacon Sanchez wore white and blue in honor of Our Lady’s feast day, and the Advent altar was simple yet elegant.  The building was somewhat cold, so everyone kept their coat on.  And some coughed in response to the incense, but everyone was focused on the special celebration.

Feeling oh-so blessed during Mass, I closed my eyes without thinking and asked special blessings for everyone during the prayers of the faithful.  They love their church so much! I thought.  Fr. Luis interacts with them so genuinely that they truly are family.

Moreover, parishioners at St. Benedict’s are among the friendliest we’ve been around.  Welcoming and inclusive, they smile when they shake hands and, after Mass, engage us in conversation; so I keep them in my thoughts and prayers between visits.

            

                

Watchfulness

After Mass, Fr. Luis cautioned everyone to be very careful exiting church.  “The steps are slippery.  We will be fixing that problem in a few weeks; but, for now, watch yourself!  And drive safely!”

I couldn’t get to the vehicle quickly enough!  Cold, wet, all I could think of was getting home.  And, sure, the possibility of snow was on my mind, but really?  That’s just wishful thinking, I told myself.  Besides, it’s not even Christmas.

Traffic was heavy for a Thursday night.  Everyone was driving too fast despite the rain, but soon enough we were home safe watching the weathercast on the news.

Our Lady’s snow

Between twelve-o-five and one a.m. I started hearing noises: some loud on the roof; others, “ticking” sounds on the window panes.  Raindrops?  Sleet?  It’s too dark to see anything.  I may regret not having looked, but I’m off to bed.  It was one-forty-five.

Then, five minutes to nine, Steven woke me.  “It’s snowing!  I figured you’d want to see!”

Those of us familiar with Our Lady of the Snows know that the Rio Grande Valley does not have a shrine in her honor.  However, on the Blessed Mother’s very special day, we were gifted with a fantastic surprise— a miracle, really— Our Lady’s snow.

            

            

           

            

            

Prayers

Allow me to praise you, O most holy Virgin Mary, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.  Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for you, just for you.  Allow me to bring the whole world to you.  Allow me to contribute to your ever-greater exaltation, to your greatest possible exaltation.  Allow me to give you such glory that no one else has ever given up to now.

Allow others to surpass me in zeal for your exaltation and me to surpass them so that, by means of such noble rivalry, your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He who has exalted you so indescribably, above all other beings….  Amen.

O most Holy Virgin, immaculate in body and spirit, look kindly on me as I implore your powerful intercession.  O most Holy Mother, receive my prayers as I present them to God.  (State your petition.)  O Mary, mother of Jesus and our mother, you intercede for us with your son.  O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.  Amen.

December 9, 2017

Seeing how so many Christians express their affection for the Virgin Mary, surely you also feel more a part of the Church, closer to those brothers and sisters of yours.  It is like a family reunion.  Grown-up children, whom life has separated, come back to their mother for some family anniversary.  And even if they have not always got on well together, today things are different; they feel united, sharing the same affection (St. JosémarÍa Escrivá in Christ is passing by, 139).

Seek God in the depths of your pure, clean heart; in the depths of your soul when you are faithful to him.  And never lose that intimacy.

And, if ever you do not know how to speak to him or what to say, or you do not dare to look for Jesus inside yourself, turn to Mary, tota pulchra, all pure and wonderful, and tell her: Our Lady and Mother, the Lord wanted you yourself to look after God and tend him with your own hands.  Teach me, teach us all, how to treat your Son! (St. JosémarÍa Escrivá in The Forge, 84).

Links of interest…  Brownsville Herald: snow forecast / South Texas gets a rare snowfall…  Immaculate Conception: 8 things to know / Dec 8 (more) / feast (more – prayer) / in scripture (discussion – more) / meaning of the celebrationoctave no longer observedprayers / solemnity (more – prayer – readings) / why Catholics believe…  Our Lady of the Snows: about / Aug 5miracleshrine / story (video)…  Sabbatical for suffering with the Immaculate Conception…  St. Benedict Church: facebook / Mass times (more)…  St. JosémarÍa Escrivá (Opus Dei)…  White Christmas in Brownsville, TX (2004)…  Why Mary is patroness of the United States

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Fatima prayers…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s Immaculate Heart…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  Our Lady…  St. Benedict’s…  St. Mary revisited

Unbounded joy

Steven and I were Unbound (CFCA) sponsors five years before we learned that others within the Corpus Christi diocese knew about the program, too.

From: Unbound
Date: Monday, June 26, 2017 11:12 AM
Re: Unbound volunteer opportunity at St. Pius X

Dear Steven & Deli,

We will be in your area on July first and second hosting a weekend sponsorship event at St. Pius X.  Fr. Thomas Landgraff, an Unbound presenter, will be celebrating Mass and inviting parishioners to visit the sponsorship table and see folders of children, youth, and elderly friends awaiting sponsorship.

Would you be available to volunteer at the sponsorship table after one of the Masses?  It only takes about thirty minutes of your time, and we’ll make sure you’re prepared before the event.

Please reply to this email or call us to let us know you are available.

We are grateful for your continued support in creating change in our world.

Sincerely,
Maureen Ortiz
Outreach Coordinator

CFCA

We first learned about the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA) from Dotty and Loren Smeester, April 2012.  Although they’d wintered in Port Aransas the month of February most years, I’d never seen them in church until they happened to occupy the pew behind ours at nine o’clock Mass.

February 2012

I so enjoyed Loren’s singing, richly reminiscent of a cowboy on a long cattle drive, that I imagined him as a farmer or a rancher.  I complimented him as we exchanged the sign of peace and received a great big smile in return!

After Mass, Loren approached the ambo, introduced Dotty and himself, and told us about the two items— an I’m #3 card and a CD— that he felt compelled to share with our St. Joseph Church community.   He was friendly, unassuming, and faith-driven; so I couldn’t wait to hear more of his story before we left church that morning.

               

                

Invitation

Taking photos for the church blog (as usual after Mass) I had the opportunity to observe not just Loren in his interactions with Fr. Xaviour and the parishioners, but also Dotty as she very patiently waited for him to complete his mission.  They were so attuned to each other that they communicated wordlessly, effortlessly— truly a match made in heaven.

When Loren had dispensed all his wares, I approached the beautiful couple smilingly.  Steven joined in the conversation, too.  We learned that the Smeesters owned the Silver Bison Ranch in Baldwin, Wisconsin.

“Come see us when you’re in the area!” Loren insisted.  “You’re welcome anytime!”

I chuckled within because the thought, while appealing, was almost outrageous.  I’d never been up north before, and I doubted that we’d travel there just to take in a tour of the ranch and Dotty’s home cooking.  Still, I graciously accepted.

April 2012

The following month Steven was asked to attend a conference in Marinette, Wisconsin in April; so Steven made all the arrangements, allowing extra time for Dotty and Loren.

Without giving the Smeesters advance notice— in case we had a change in plans— we flew into Minneapolis, drove to Baldwin, and stopped by the family gift shop before calling Dotty and Loren for a quick “hello” and then be on our way.

Long story short, we visited their home twice— a few hours that evening and an entire day before returning to the airport to head back to Texas.  And, for reasons that I don’t recall at the moment, Loren shared the story behind the letter they’d recently received from their precious godson in Central America and very gently encouraged us to sponsor a child, too, because it was a mutually rewarding experience.

Sponsorship

When we got home days later, Steven looked into CFCA and signed us up.

Mid-May we received three packets with photos and information about our sponsored friends: two girls— the older one in Costa Rica; the younger, in Lima, Peru— and an elder, Freska, in the Philippines.

My letter-writing skills from childhood were quickly embraced; and my Spanish, though rusty, began a slow-but-steady comeback, thanks in part to the internet.  How amazing to correspond without the need of a CFCA translator!  The girls and I wrote in Spanish; Freska’s grandchildren and I, in English.  A worthy endeavor for all of us!

In 2013, an unexpected change disrupted my correspondence with the older girl when her family relocated to a country that CFCA didn’t serve.  I miss Vanessa’s long, soulful letters and often wonder how she’s doing!  Still, her photo, on display with the other two that change periodically, represents not just our hope for her well-being, but also our continued thoughts and prayers for her success.

Unbound

CFCA has since changed its name— “Unbound sums up our work in one simple and powerful word” (Website; January 2, 2014)— but all else remains the same.  Letters, drawings, cards, and updated photos, along with Unbound pamphlets and inserts, arrive at different times during the year.  And sponsors are encouraged to write (and include photos) at least twice a year, though more often is incredibly fulfilling.

July 2, 2017

Until we received Maureen’s email invitation to volunteer, we had no idea that other Unbound sponsors lived within the diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas; so imagine our surprise at being asked to assist at the weekend sponsorship event!  We were happy to attend Mass at St. Pius X, a church we visit on special occasions.  But we were especially delighted to meet Ana, a young woman who has sponsored a little girl since 2012, and Fr. Tom Landgraff, OSFS who, himself, sponsors an elder.

And the icing on the cake?

Among those we met, two families who already were part of a sponsorship program added friends.  A couple with four children in tow took home the packet of a darling little girl in a festive gold-and-green dress; and a very thoughtful woman gifted herself with the sponsorship of an elder from Mexico, an addition to her one child from before

As for Steven and me?

For months I’d wanted to grow our sponsored family, so we knew we’d be taking a packet home.  But, as usually happens, the heart always yearns for more.

Unbounded joy

As we’d spread out the packets on the table to prepare for potential sponsors (before and after the Masses), we’d been smitten by the little girl and the elder whom we later enthusiastically promoted to the two families (above) who readily accepted them.

Our thinking was to find good homes for as many children and elders as we could, so we rejoiced with each perfect match.

But what about us? I wondered when church had emptied except for us.

In that brief, quiet moment I had no idea that, even before the morning sessions had concluded, Steven had found the three remaining packets from Mexico in Fr. Tom’s box.  He hadn’t forgotten my request: “I want someone I can write to in Spanish.”

“These are all that’s left,” Steven approached with the youngsters from Merida.

“We’ll take them!” I exclaimed with unbounded joy.

I knew that the sooner I mailed my introductions, the sooner I’d receive our sponsored children’s replies.  What a promise of hope!

           

                              

                     

            

            

            

                        

                                

            

            

            

Postscript

Today, November twentieth, is Juanito’s seventh birthday.  He is the oldest of the three youngsters we began sponsoring in July.  His sister, just three years older, wrote two of the most delightful, endearing letters I’ve ever received.  Infused with love, her accounts latched onto me mind, heart, and soul.  But, October eighteenth, we received word from Unbound’s office in Kansas that the family was relocating from Merida because of the dad’s new job.  This meant Juanito’s exit from the program.

While I was ever so grateful for the family’s much-needed economic blessing, I couldn’t help but think of Hania’s colorful perspectives on her little brother and the family.  I’ll miss being part of their lives and the many adventures Hania has yet to share!  Still, as with Vanessa, Juanito’s family will remain with us through the brief but indelible memories forged in just a few months.

And, when one door closes, another opens.

While Unbound’s telephone message was terribly disheartening— and the realization of not hearing from Hania again immensely disappointing— I had to do something to honor, not mourn, the loss of Juanito and his family.  Instead of returning the phone call right away, I took a few hours to clear my thoughts… and made quite a discovery.

After visiting “Find someone to sponsor” on Unbound’s home page, I telephoned the Kansas office not only to express my gratitude for having learned about Juanito’s family through Hania’s beautiful letters, but also to discuss the sponsorship of a child in Kenya whose Mona Lisa smile tugged at my heartstrings, a five-year-old girl who, like Juanito, dreams big and loves to sing.

Prayers

Compassionate God, you have called us to act as agents of your love in our world, and blessed us with the gifts we need to fulfill that mission.  Following the example of Jesus, may we embrace our calling to be your partners in creating a world of justice and mercy.  We ask this in your holy name.  Amen (Fr. Dave Noone).

O God, you are our creator.  You are good, and your mercy knows no bounds.  To you arises the praise of every creature.  O God, you have given us an inner law by which we must live.  To do your will is our task.  To follow your ways is to know peace of heart.  To you we offer our homage.  Guide us on all the paths we travel upon this earth.  Free us from all the evil tendencies which lead our hearts away from your will.  Never allow us to stray from you.  O God, judge of all humankind, help us to be included among your chosen ones on the last day.  O God, author of peace and justice, give us true joy and authentic love and a lasting solidarity among peoples.  Give us your everlasting gifts.  Amen (St. Pope John Paul II).

October 24, 2017

Pause for a moment and look around you. Simply thank God for all the gifts that you have right now, all the gifts saved from the wreck of life: the lamp that illumines this page, the chair that gives you comfort, the home that provides shelter.  That’s a good exercise of stewardship.

Thank God for the sun and stars in the sky, for the support of friends, for the opportunities of a new day, for the ability to laugh and cry.  A disciple receives everything with gratitude.  It is prayer that helps keep the heart grateful and filled with joy (Robert F. Morneau in Living Prayer: A Simple Guide to Everyday Enlightenment).

October 28, 2017

An admirer of Mother Teresa once gifted her with her own personal “calling card.”  Teresa liked the card so much that she had copies made and regularly handed them out to people for the rest of her life.

Written on the small yellow cards were spiritual lessons Teresa had learned from the Church, her prayer life, and her ministry to the poor.  She summed them up in five steps.

The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE.

Mother Teresa carried that prayer around with her— its words emblazoned on her heart (Kerry Walters in St. Teresa of Calcutta: Missionary, Mother, Mystic).

November 1, 2017

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal” (Steve Maraboli).

November 8, 2017

To discover that you are loved is the center of all existence.  And when we are filled with this total and delirious love, little by little, we grow and love in turn.  That gradualness in our journeys is a sign of the infinite tenderness of God (Chiara Corbella Petrillo; Simone Troisi & Cristiana Paccini in A Witness to Joy).

November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving focuses on God’s gifts.  Our challenge is to take nothing for granted, but to appreciate every blessing.  Thanksgiving is a way of life.  Indeed, the prayer of thanksgiving characterizes a eucharistic people.

Our gratitude centers on the greatest gift of all— Jesus.  This gift, and all the other gifts through God’s providence, are expressions of God’s love.  How fitting and just it is that we always and everywhere express our gratitude to the Lord (Robert F. Mourneau in Living Prayer: A Simple Guide to Everyday Enlightenment).

November 25, 2017

God calls every one of us into a relationship of intimate, personal, loving, and life-giving communion.  He is inviting us to share his life and the life of his whole family.  Our response to God’s invitation to intimacy and communion is to be the person he created and calls us to be— to make a gift of ourselves— because, when we give ourselves away in love, we truly find ourselves (Sonja Corbitt and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers in Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before).

November 27, 2017

Every family is a work in progress, but each one can move toward wholeness.  Circumstances differ, but every family needs peace, love, and trust.  Christian hope springs from belief in God’s presence during life’s high and low points.

In the struggle for wholeness, families become holy and generate holiness in others.  Holy families, not perfect families, are sources of hope to those facing dark and painful times (Robert J. Hater in Your [Imperfect] Holy Family: See the Good, Make it Better).

November 28, 2017

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day” (Sally Koch).

December 1, 2017

We may read volumes and volumes on the art of swimming, yet we’ll never understand what swimming is like unless we get wet. So we may read all the books ever written on the love of God and never understand loving unless we love.

Where love is genuine, belonging is always mutual. It is like submerging ourselves into an ocean of sublime grace (Brother David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

Links of interest…  Catholic group continues Blessed Stanley Rother’s work in Guatemala…  CFCA is now Unbound…  Fr. Stanley Rother: American martyr in Guatemala / beatification (video; 9.23.17) / devotional / fact sheetguild / holy relics: preparing the remains / martyrmissionary / my cousin the martyr / prayer for intercessionpriest / Servant of God / Shepherd who didn’t run (book) / sister remembersstories by those who knew him / Unbound…  Glorify God in body & spirit…  Godparents: Faithful examples to their spiritual children…  Missionary work begins with everyone…  Mother Teresa & the power of silence…  Mully: A documentary with heart & soul…  On belonging: How adoption is like a sacrament…  Spiritual adoption: What it is, why we do it, & the joy it brings…  St. Pius X: facebook / Santo Niño devotion / patron saint: about (more) – catechism – novena – profile – schedule of services / website…  St. Pope JPII prayer card…  Unbound (impact – sponsor – writing letters)…

WP posts…  Call of service…  Celebrations…  Dear God…  Gifts…  God’s loving mercy…  Mercy and justice…  Multicultural Mass…  Time well spent

Our Lady’s Assumption

Years ago, when we were parishioners at St. Joseph’s, I noticed an invitation from Our Lady of the Assumption in our church bulletin.  How I wanted to attend!  But I barely knew my way around town, so I chose not even to attempt the drive to Ingleside.

Our Lady’s Assumption

Then, almost ten years later, we received the Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event invitation to spend the day in Ingleside.

“We can stop by church before the meeting!” I told Steven excitedly before realizing that Tuesday, August 15, 2017, was Our Lady’s feast day, a holy day of obligation, and the perfect opportunity to visit the church I’d longed to see.

So, we arrived early enough to explore the extraordinary sacred space that is Our Lady of the Assumption and immersed ourselves mind, heart, and soul in the quiet semi-darkness that envelopes exquisite treasures and stunning stained-glass windows, like the focal point on the altar that dates back to fourteenth-century Spain.

This church was dedicated to the worship of God and the honor of Our Lady of the Assumption, May 26, 1975, by Most Rev. Thomas J. Drury, DD, LLD.  Built by voluntary labor (Plaque by the entrance).

And, days later, we returned for Sunday morning Mass!

            

            

            

            

                  

                        

                        

                  

            

         

Prayer

Bless me, O daughter of the eternal Father, and obtain for me the grace never to offend my God by my thoughts.  Bless me, O mother of the eternal Son, and pray that I may never offend my God by my words.  Bless me, O spouse of the eternal Spirit [that] by your intercession… I may never offend my God by my actions or omissions.  Bless me, O sanctuary of the most holy Trinity.  Pray for me that I may love and serve my God with my whole heart and soul and that I may enjoy him forever….  O Mary, receive me as your child for the sake of Jesus who [entrusted] me [into your] care in his agony on the cross.  Amen.

Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation. 

Quotes

“Divine love so penetrated and filled the soul of Mary that no part of her was left untouched so that she loved with her whole heart, with her whole soul, with her whole strength and was full of grace” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

“The mystery [of Mary’s assumption] reminds us that our definitive homeland is not here on earth and that our longing for fulfillment finds complete satisfaction only in eternal happiness” (Pope Benedict XVI).

November 21, 2017

Mother Mary knows each voice singularly.  She hears the call, perceives the need, and rushes to her child’s side.  This sweet Mother of mercy and grace will be there for her children in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts, and fears.

Mary knows your voice.  She will hear your call, she will perceive your need, and then she will rush to your side.  Call her now.  She is waiting to hear your voice above all the others (Marge Steinhage Fenelon in Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace).

Links of interest…  Assumption: feast / history & why it’s a holy day of obligation / making assumptions / sermonssolemnity / three ways to honor Mary…  Five ways to seek grace…  Ingleside parish celebrates with Father Doherty…  Our Lady of the Assumption: aboutfacebook / website…  Parish is the body of Christ…  Prayer (novena)…  Texas Travel Time / Tropical Trail Region (about – facebook – map) / Tropical Traveler (blog & signup)…

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Fatima prayers…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s Immaculate Heart…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  Our Lady…  St. Mary revisited

St. Benedict’s

Steven and I ended up at St. Benedict’s by chance the morning of June 11, 2017.  That is, we’d hoped to attend ten o’clock Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Harlingen and had even shown up early.  But, on entering, we’d found the church empty.

Oh! I thought.  We have the church all to ourselves!  How often does this happen?  I can take all the photos I want and not bother anyone!

We had no reason to think— no way of knowing, really— that Sunday’s English Masses at ten and twelve had been consolidated until the sacristan informed us about eleven-thirty Mass.

Patsy’s worst fear came true! I thought, vividly recalling our first conversation, February twenty-sixth, when we’d met after ten o’clock Mass.  She was concerned that dwindling numbers at the Masses would mean trouble for her church, and now this?  I need to contact her to learn more!

Change of plans

Since we had a commitment three hours away, we couldn’t wait around; so I suggested Mass in San Benito.

Decades ago (in another lifetime) I’d attended an all-day catechist’s conference at
St. Benedict’s, so Steven googled Mass times on his cell phone.

“If we leave right now, we can make it to eleven o’clock Mass,” Steven said, hoping to hurry me up.

“Just three more photos,” I declared, refusing to be rushed.  And then we were off on another of our impromptu adventures.

St. Benedict’s

We arrived with time to spare and, as I took photos here and there outdoors, Steven was warmly greeted by a very nice man— an usher or the sacristan, perhaps?

“Thank you for visiting St. Benedict’s this morning!” he smiled as he made his way into church even before nine-thirty Mass ended.

Then a welcoming woman approached.

Josie told us about “the many roles” she fulfills within the parish besides serving on the finance council, and she shared the church community’s present goals to make renovations and replace the broken stained-glass windows.  But what impressed me most was the unspoken manner through which she glowingly promoted St. Benedict’s.

                

            

            

                

          

      

      

                  

         

            

            

      

September 9, 2017

From the moment I first entered St. Benedict’s, cake came to mind— not just any kind of cake, but the yummy-white sheet cake with the delicious plain-white frosting.  The gold standard according to my taste buds!  The church is so impeccably maintained that its goodness made me long for more, so we returned for five o’clock Mass.

We’d barely crossed the street from the parking lot when a tall priest smiled a curious but enthusiastic “hello” as he briskly made his way from church to the rectory.

Very nice! I thought.  He knows we’re not part of his flock, but he welcomed us warmly nonetheless.  How inclusive!

Then, on passing through the tiny foyer into the nave, we were greeted by a sweet, cherubic woman handing out missals for Mass.

“I don’t need one— I’ve got the Word among us— but he does,” I smiled, motioning to Steven behind me.

We took our usual place— center aisle seat, fifth pew on the left— and knelt to pray before I got up to photograph the altar and the windows, since the one in the back was no longer boarded up.

Once I was back near the entrance, the joyful greeter took a free moment to comment on the newly restored stained-glass windows and added that “the statues are next, in case you don’t see them the next time you visit.”

By the time we left St. Benedict’s that evening, Steven and I had met seven lovely parishioners, starting with Janie Corona.  The two ladies in the pew behind us, lively and inquisitive, engaged Steven about the metal crosses on his belt while I retook photos of the stained-glass windows.  A couple, Simon and Delia who’d occupied one of the front pews, delighted us with neighborly conversation before departing for home.  Then Fr. Tinajero, chatting with his flock, took a few minutes to meet us before Henry, proud son of Deacon Juan Manuel Sanchez, introduced his dad and spoke with us like friends visiting his house on a Sunday afternoon.

As we turned to leave, I saw Janie standing with a friend.  Only this time she held some colorful posters.

“Take one,” she insisted.  “It’s for our fall festival, October seventh and eighth.”

“I’ll tell you what.  Let me photograph it for my ‘St. Benedict’s’ post so that others can read it and hopefully attend.”

Janie and her friend smiled and thanked us.  But, really?  Even as we walked away and then drove past, we were the grateful ones for having been so graciously accepted into their church community that evening.

                

            

            

            

        

            

         

                

November 4, 2017

                

         

Prayer to St. Benedict

Admirable saint and doctor of humility, you practiced what you taught, assiduously praying for God’s glory and lovingly fulfilling all work for God and the benefit of all human beings.  You know the many physical dangers that surround us today often caused or occasioned by human inventions.  Guard us against poisoning of the body as well as of mind and soul and thus be truly a blessed one for us.  Amen.

Quotes

The eleventh degree of humility in the Rule of Benedict treats a situation like this quite specifically.  “Do only those things sanctioned by the community,” the sixth-century document reads.  Take counsel.  Listen.  Seek direction.  While moving ahead stay close to the kind of counsel that has strengthened the community in the past.  Stay close to the spiritual well whose life-giving water has brought you to this point.  The value of this saying is immeasurable.  It is much more than an exciting new answer, the effects of which no one knows.  It is a reaffirmation of spirituality based in experience, grounded in the wisdom of the elders, and rooted in self-control (Joan Chittister in In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics).

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and a life to proclaim you through the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ, our lord (St. Benedict).

Links of interest…  Angels & Saints at Ephesus…  Applying St. Benedict’s rule to families…  Benedict option for today / not for me…  Benedictine benedictions…  Church in San Benito, TX: facebook / Mass times (more)…  Escrivá Option: An alternative to the Benedict Option…  Fifty years later – the influence of Benedictine monks & nuns…  Humility rules: St. Benedict’s twelve step guide to genuine self-esteem…  Liberating power of the St. Benedict medal (spiritual weapons)…  Key to avoiding distraction…  Sisters of St. Benedict: dome blog / facebook / gift shop & bakery / website…  St. Benedict (index) / about (more) / college / July 11medal (bracelet – jubilee – more – seven things to know) / monastic innovatormemorial / prayers: litany – novena – prayers (more) / video (based on book – writings of Rafael) / rule / ten helpful quotes / tips on preparing mealswho is (more)…  Tough conversations: Hard choices, staying on the path…  What does a wise old abbot know about a good love story

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Church doctors…  Kindred acorns…  Mary’s Immaculate Heart…  Pink divinity…  San Giuseppe…  Sensory overload…  Unexpected detours

Fatima prayers

Seven years ago I visited Most Precious Blood in Corpus Christi, Texas for the first time and discovered Our Lady of Fatima at the St. Jude Shrine.  The following month we traveled to Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, and found her at Sacred Heart.  Three years later we enjoyed her peaceful countenance at Marytown in Libertyville, Illinois and at both Our Lady of Corpus Christi and Sacred Heart in Corpus Christi.

Similarly, in the hundredth year since the apparitions, we’ve shared our devotion to Our Lady of Fatima at a friend’s healing Mass at St. Paul the Apostle in Flour Bluff on May 1; at a LAMP buddy’s wedding at St. Mary’s Visitation in Elm Grove, Wisconsin on May 13; and during Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Corpus Christi on May 27.

Truth be told, Our Lady of Fatima— on display year ’round or just for her feast day— evokes such sweet recollections of annual pilgrim rosaries at Sam and Ning’s house that I’m filled— sometimes emotionally overcome— with immense gratitude for both her spiritual guidance and her steadfast protection from life’s daily torments.

                        

                

                

Prayers

                       

            

                

        

                        

Contact information

October 12, 2017

The first three leaflets are from America Needs Fatima,
P. O. Box 708, Rossville, KS 66533-0708; the Shrine of the Infant of Prague, Dominican Fathers, 5 Hillhouse Avenue, P. O. Box 1202, New Haven, CT 06511-6815; and Hirten Company, 35 Industrial Road, Suite 2, Cumberland, RI 02864-4714, respectively.  The horizontal leaflet is from the Fatima shrine; and the prayer cards are from the Dominican Rosary Shrine of
St. Jude (formerly in Detroit), 501 Sixth Street SW, Washington, DC 20024-2716 and the Golden Prayer League, P. O. Box 1163, Kingston, PA 18704-1163, respectively.

August 3, 2017

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).

August 9, 2017

“My longing for truth was a single prayer” (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).

August 14, 2017

Faith is the first light, the heralding light, the foundation placed in us of what in its final perfection will be the beatific vision of God.  It is the beginning of the eternal ways in us, the commencement of our union with God (Fr. William Ullathorne in Patience and Humility).

            

Just three mementos from Sam & Ning’s many pilgrim rosaries: 2010, 2012, 2014

St. Mary’s Visitation – Elm Grove, WI

Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Corpus Christi, TX

Links of interest…  Crisis of faith in the Church…  Do Catholics worship statues…  Fatima: 100 years later / about / apparitions (more) / beyond the anniversarybookcelebrating / directivesessentials / five prayersmeaning / message to mothersmiracle of the sun (four great lessons – video) / more important than ever / October 12, 2017 / return / shrine (online transmissions) / story / three secrets…  Golden Prayer…  Hope & mercy & the miracle of the sun…  How anxiety thwarts gratitude, joy, & our interior well-being…  I won’t pray the rosary the same way again…  Let prayer be your air…  Litany to Our Lady…  Prayer takes practice: Five ways to improve your prayer life…  Rewire your brain with a rosary of gratitude…  Seven quotes from Sister Lucia / ways to live Fatima’s message…  What happens when you don’t pray / I learned from Our Lady’s hide-and-seek game…  Why 100 years mattersJuly 13, 1917 “changed” the church / we need Fatima’s message today

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Familiar yet new…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s seven joys…  Marytown shrine…  May flowers…  Our Lady…  Repeated prayers…  St. Michael chaplet

Mary’s Immaculate Heart

Driving past Immaculate Heart of Mary, I just knew I had to visit; but we moved back to Brownsville in the fall and I simply forgot, except for every now and then when I recalled my brief but memorable life in Harlingen.

February 26, 2017

Of course, the older I get the more I’ve come to know that long-held heartfelt wishes do come true.  And so it was that we needed to attend Mass “somewhere,” allowing us three hours precisely to get to where we needed to be that afternoon.

“You remember that church in Harlingen?” I asked Steven.  “The one I told you I’ve been wanting to visit since June 1969?  Let’s check online to see if it has ten o’clock Mass.”

And, oh, what a blessing that turned out to be!

    

            

                

                

            

            

            

                  

June 11, 2017

Our first visit to Immaculate Heart of Mary had been so thoroughly fulfilling that I’d longed to revisit; but, again as before, we needed to be back home by two o’clock, this time to attend Sam and Ning’s annual pilgrim rosary.

The church parking lot was empty except for us, but we didn’t panic.  We’d shown up super early for me to take photos so that we’d have time to chat after Mass.  Then, on finding the church unlit, we were somewhat puzzled but not really concerned.

As I did my thing and Steven sat to pray, a family of three or four young adults walked in.  Like us, they were from out of town and pretty much congratulating each other for “finding this church in perfect time for ten o’clock Mass.”

“This is so exciting!” one woman said to the others.  “I’ve never been here.  I wonder what it’s like.”

They’ll find out soon enough, I smiled to myself, because I certainly knew what to expect— welcoming parishioners, some more daring to strike up a conversation about their beloved church than others, but everyone genuinely inclusive.

Then, out of nowhere, a man— most likely the sacristan— quietly approached Steven and the others.

Standing near the altar I couldn’t quite make out what he said, but I sensed great disappointment not only in the voices, but also in the shuffling feet as the small group exited in disbelief.  I wasn’t ready to stop taking photos but walked over to Steven nonetheless, since he was already standing in the aisle, ready to go.

“I don’t know what happened, but there’s no ten o’clock Mass,” he said.  “According to the man, the bulletin with the times is posted in the vestibule.  The next one’s at eleven-thirty, but we’ll be late to Sam and Ning’s if we stay for that.”

Despite the time crunch, I insisted on “just two more photos” before we scrambled to find eleven o’clock Mass elsewhere.

We had to attend Mass before heading back home!

            

                

            

            

June 17, 2017

Naturally, I didn’t give up on Immaculate Heart of Mary so, being that we returned to the Rio Grande Valley during the week, we agreed to stay for Saturday evening Mass and return home Sunday.

And the beauty of attending Mass at a different time?  Getting a more rounded perspective on the church community that— wouldn’t you know it— welcomed us in the same friendly fashion as our first time there.

We may have been visitors, but we weren’t treated like strangers.  We were like everyone else, basking in the smiles before and during Mass, the warm handshakes during the sign of peace, and the joy in seeing all the dads go up to the altar to receive a special blessing and a St. Joseph key fob for Father’s Day.

And the icing on the cake?  The lector stopping by our pew to chat with us after Mass.

My only regret, sort of, was not leaving a “hello” message for the lector to pass along to Elvira, Joe, and Patsy— cherished hearts— whom we met in February.  But that’s okay.

We can always go back for late Sunday morning Mass!

            

July 9, 2017

We returned for eleven-thirty Mass with the hopes of seeing Elvira, Joe, and Patsy; but it just wasn’t meant to be.  Instead, we delighted in joyful expressions— effusive smiles during Mass and playful hellos after Communion— with the two lively little boys seated alongside us with their parents on the sixth pew facing the ambo.

            

                  

Prayers

Daily offering…  O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.  I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sins, the reunion of all Christians.  I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all apostles of prayer and, in particular, for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.  Amen.

Daily renewal…  Queen of the most holy rosary, I renew my consecration to you and to your immaculate heart.  Please accept me, my dear mother, and use me as you wish to accomplish your designs upon the world.  I am all yours, my mother, my queen.  All that I have is yours.

Immaculate heart of Mary…  Father, you prepared the heart of the Virgin Mary to be a fitting home for your Holy Spirit.   By her prayers may we become worthy temples of your glory.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Novena…  O most blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer.  As your children we implore your intercession with Jesus, your son.  Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially….

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer.  We trust to your gentle care and intercession those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting.  Help all of us, holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.  Amen.

                        

                

                

Contact information

Our Lord’s Virgin and Mother is from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; and the Immaculate Heart of Mary prayers are from The Grail, St. Meinrad, IN; and Hirten Company, 35 Industrial Road, Suite 2, Cumberland, RI 02864-4714, respectively.  The prayer card is from Golden Prayer League, P. O. Box 1163, Kingston, PA 18704-1163.

Quotes

For unless our Lady is recognized as the mother of God and as the queen of all the saints and angels and as the hope of the world, faith in God will remain incomplete.  How can we ask him for all the things he would have us hope for if we do not know, by contemplating the sanctity of the immaculate virgin, what great things he has power to accomplish in the souls of men? (Thomas Merton).

Let us pray to the immaculate heart of Mary for all the graces that we need to be a brilliant light and a holy comfort to others each and every day in this darkened and sometimes frightening world.  Don’t forget to offer your sufferings to God and to make sacrifices to save souls (Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle in Our Lady of Fatima).

July 20, 2017

There are three things we must do to be at peace: have a pure intention to desire the honor and glory of God in all things; do the little that we can unto that end, following the advice of our spiritual father; and leave all the rest to God’s care (St. Francis de Sales in Roses Among Thorns).

Links of interest…  Blessing of Catholic friends…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Church & spiritual maturity in Christian life…  Consecration to the immaculate heart of Mary…  Discernment, action, & WDGWMTD…  Finding your true self in Marian devotion…  Five words you need to hear at church…  God’s favorite garden…  IHM church: directionswebsite…  Immaculate heart of Mary (door of mercy – feast: Aug 22 – symbolism)…  Immaculate Mary Song…  Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page / picturingprayers (miracles – more – novena – queen of angels) / untier of knots…  Prayer: devotion (more – purpose) / novenas / podcasts…  Society of the green scapular (heaven’s promises – Mary’s gift)…  Ten ways to grow in friendship with Jesus & Mary…  Thirteen quotes

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Marytown shrine…  May flowers…  Our Lady…  San Juan Diego…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Benedict’s

Afternoon delights

Steven and I attended Christmas Eve Mass at the Capuchin St. Joseph chapel in Alamo, TX; and, much to the delight of Sister Luz and Sister Marta, I promised to send them copies of the photographs I took that evening.  But time got away from me!

January 25, 2017

               

        

April 18, 2017

With so much going on in our daily lives, being that we’d undertaken a three-month training program that had us both exhilarated and exhausted, I could only work mentally on “the project for the Sisters”— that is, until I began in earnest here and there the second week of April when we graduated from the Texas Master Naturalist program.

Then, since the monthly Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event was happening at the San Manuel Ranch on April 18, we agreed to stop by the Poor Clares’ monastery to deliver the booklets on our way home.

                  

        

What a wonderful surprise to be greeted by Sister Betty who, soon after, called Sister Luz, Mother General, to speak with us instead.

“Have you visited the chapel yet?” asked Sister Luz.

“We’re going there next,” I smiled.

Sister Luz told us about their beautiful Easter service; and she invited us to their three o’clock Divine Mercy chaplet prayers, considering that we’d arrived in perfect time.

And, oh, the altar!  I could’ve sat there for hours, immersed in peace and good.

                

                    

            

                        

        

                

April 22, 2017

Saturday afternoon we drove to the monastery for an impromptu visit with the Sisters.

Just days before, when we’d last spoken to the Sisters, we’d received a text (while still at the chapel) that our youngest granddaughter was in the midst of a medical crisis; so I’d requested prayers.  And, within a couple of hours, Karina’s health had rebounded.

We wanted to personally thank the Sisters, but the gate to the monastery was locked; so Steven and I headed to the chapel instead.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when we entered.  The chapel was empty except for us!

Were you waiting for us, dear God?  How special to have you all to ourselves.

            

            

Afternoon delights

In one week’s time we’d been blessed with two afternoon delights at the chapel— the first to pray with others; the second, by ourselves.

We luxuriated in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and gave thanks and praise for all God’s blessings.

Good health, an abundance of gifts and talents shared with others, friendships with like-minded individuals, spiritual fulfillment— could we ask for anything more?

Prayers from St. Faustina’s writings

Healing…  Jesus, may your pure and healthy blood circulate in my ailing organism; may your pure and healthy body transform my weak body; and may a healthy and vigorous life throb within me if it is truly your holy will (Diary 1089).

St. Paul the Apostle – CCTX

Hope…  O my Jesus, my master and director, strengthen and enlighten me in these difficult moments of my life.  I expect no help from people, all my hope is in you.  I feel alone in the face of your demands, O Lord.  Despite the fears and qualms of my nature, I am fulfilling your holy will and desire to fulfil it as faithfully as possible throughout my life and in my death.  Jesus, with you I can do all things.  Do with me as you please; only give me your heart and that is enough for me (Diary 650).

Intercession…  O Jesus, you inspired St. Faustina with profound veneration for your boundless mercy.  Deign, if it be your holy will, to grant me, through her intercession, the grace for which I fervently pray (state petition).  My sins render me unworthy of your mercy; but be mindful of St. Faustina’s spirit of sacrifice and self-denial and reward her virtue by granting the petition which, with childlike confidence, I present to you through her intercession.

Our Father…  Hail Mary…  Glory be….

Thanksgiving...  O Jesus, eternal God, I thank you for your countless graces and blessings.  Let every beat of my heart be a new hymn of thanksgiving to you, O God.  Let every drop of my blood circulate for you, Lord.  My soul is one hymn in adoration of your mercy.  I love you, God, for yourself alone (Diary 1794).

Quotes

Mary, mother of mercy, help us always to have this trust in your Son, our redeemer.  Help us too, St. Faustina, whom we remember today with special affection.  Fixing our weak gaze on the divine savior’s face, we would like to repeat with you: “Jesus, I trust in You!”  Now and for ever.  Amen (St. John Paul II).

When I am before the Blessed Sacrament I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it.  Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me.  When it is time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from his sacred presence
(St. Anthony Claret).

April 25, 2017

I want to be a woman whose faith in God’s promises holds no matter how long there is no visible evidence of it— a woman who uses her voice to bring hope to the weary and to rejoice with those who rejoice.  I want to proclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness steadily, with great joy, regardless of what the world around me looks like— because, when it is darkest, that is when my voice is most needed (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).

May 8, 2017

Hope is an eminently practical virtue; it is the virtue that drives far from our heart the specter of discouragement, the most frequent dangerous temptation in the spiritual life.  As the inseparable companion of suffering, it confirms and strengthens peace in our soul (Archbishop Luis M. Martinez in When God is Silent).

May 10, 2017

“It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength we need in our isolation”
(St. Damien).

May 21, 2017

The courage to live the call to share Jesus with others comes from a hope that gives way to the discipline of prayer.  Prayer inspires a life of joyful dependence on the Lord, which allows us to see and recognize him at work in the most surprising of ways.  And from a heart focused on God blossoms the thanksgiving that overflows into sharing Christ with a waiting world (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).

May 22, 2017

When one finds themselves with Jesus, they live the wondrous awe of that encounter and feel the need to look for him in prayer, in the reading of the gospels.  They feel the need to adore him, to know him and feel the need to announce him (Pope Francis).

June 18, 2017

If you wish to adore the real face of Jesus, we can find it in the divine Eucharist where, with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the face of our Lord is hidden under the while veil of the host (St. Gaetano Catanoso).

June 23, 2017

“Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams” (Pope John XXIII).

July 21, 2017

“We ascend to the heights of contemplation by the steps of the active life” (Pope St. Gregory I).

July 28, 2017

“My past, O Lord, I entrust to your mercy; my presence, to your love; my future, to your providence” (St. Padre Pio).

August 11, 2017

Our labor here is brief, but the reward is eternal.  Do not be disturbed by the clamor of the world, which passes like a shadow.  Do not let the false delights of a deceptive world deceive you (St. Clare of Assisi).

September 22, 2017

Always bear in mind as a safe general rule that, while God tries us by his crosses and sufferings, he always leaves us a glimmer of light by which we continue to have great trust in him and to recognize his immense goodness.  I urge you, therefore, not to be entirely disheartened in the face of the cross… heaven bestows on you, but to continue to have boundless confidence in the divine mercy (Patricia Treece in The Joyful Spirit of Padre Pio: Stories, Letters, and Prayers).

Links of interest…  40 hours devotion: Spending personal time with the Lord…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Blessed Sacrament prayers…  Catholic Harbor of faith & morals (index of saints)…  Cloistered nuns want to pray for you…  Difference between meditation & contemplation…  Does the Eucharist change us…  Dwelling of faith, hope, & love…  Evening prayer as a way to honor the cycle of time…  Eucharistic adoration…  Fatima & Divine Mercy are eternally linked / & Faustina offer striking, frightening visions of hell / surprised by…  Have you ever lost faith…  Hope: A misunderstood virtue…  How Jesus makes heaven present to us today (Fr. Romano GuardiniMeditations on the Christ)…  Is Mary praying the rosary to herself…  Litany of trust…  Move to religious life…  No mercy without conversion…  Not silent prayer, rather prayer in silence…  Perpetual adoration…  Silence: A challenging but valuable discipline…  St. Faustina: aboutprayers (all occasion – Eucharist – intercessory – thanksgiving) / prophet of God’s mercy…  St. John Chrysostom (hourly)…  Trust in Jesus: Four reasons Catholics are full of hope…  Tune into silence…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours & half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament (Lasance, 1898)…  What is Divine Mercy (chaplet – devotionnovena)…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Capuchin Christmas…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  Merry Christmas…  San Giuseppe…  Slice of heaven…  Twelve candles