Historic nuggets

LTX91509-1381Last week, Steven and I attended the monthly TX Tropical Trail Region meeting in Laredo. 

Day’s activities

Our group met at the art center and later took the trolley to the Laredo Community College, situated on the site of the historic Fort McIntosh.  We took a guided walking tour of the environmental science center and were entertained by a couple of dancers from the Folklorico Ballet before returning to the art center for the delicious three-course meal prepared by Chano Aldrete.

After lunch we viewed two films— the story of the TX Tropical Trail and the history of Fort McIntosh— presented by Rick Villarreal and Margarita Araiza, respectively.


After the meeting, we exited the art center along with four lovely women from Hebbronville.  They excitedly shared their good news: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church has undergone its transformation.  “You have to come back for a visit!  The church is beautiful,” the ladies enthused.  We agreed to return, most likely during the town’s Vaquero Festival on November 6-7. 

Around the plaza

Steven and I headed to the hotel to await our very first dieciséis de septiembre celebration, which was set to start with “el grito” at the plaza across from La Posada.

Around six, we walked over to the San Agustin Cathedral before strolling around the plaza, but the front door was locked.  We talked to a young woman who’d grown up in Laredo.  Gigi, now a middle school teacher, told us about her Catholic school experience in the building next to the church.  She encouraged us to return the following morning when the church would be open again, said she’d introduce her family to us if we saw each other later, then left to find her loved ones at the plaza.

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We enjoyed the view from where we stood before crossing the street to join in the festivities.

We took lots of photos and mingled with others who, like us, enjoyed the entertainment, the freebies, and the tantalizing aromas of gastronomic delights.

LTX91509-10Once back in front of the hotel, I couldn’t help but wonder about the opposite end of the cathedral.  “Let’s go check out what’s behind the wall.  I want to see the other side,” I insisted, even though Steven reminded me that the church was closed.

As we walked past the gate onto the churchyard, we saw the priest making his way toward the plaza.  “Excuse me, Father,” Steven said.  “We’re from out of town, so we’d like to visit the church before we leave.  What time is Mass tomorrow?”

“At noon, but you can go in now.  Just enter through that door,” he responded, motioning to the wooden doors behind him.

Overjoyed, we thanked him and hurried in for a look. 

As we entered, we noticed the couple cleaning the church.  I explained that the priest had given us permission to look around.

We took photos until the man informed us that Father had said to lock up the church.  I thanked him, adding that the church is beautiful and reminiscent of the one in Brownsville, which was also established by the Oblates.  The man smiled and spoke proudly about the church before we bid each other goodnight.

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Savoring the evening

Steven and I walked happily back to the plaza.  We took in the sights and sounds for a while before opting for dinner at the hotel restaurant.

We sat and talked about the day as we gazed at the happenings through the window.  The plaza and its surrounding areas were standing-room only by then.  We took our time, conversing with both Tony, our lighthearted waiter, and our gracious hostess, who spoke glowingly about her family.  Then, for dessert, we stepped back out onto Zaragosa Street to savor the dieciséis de septiembre celebration through its flavorful music, dancing, and ambiance in Laredo’s historic downtown district.

We had a fantabulous time!

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Links of interest…  16 de septiembre (Grito de Dolores)…  Augustine of Hippo: apostolic letter (JPII) / author / bishop & doctor / book on prayerconfessions / doctor of grace (more) / for all seasons / memorial (Aug 28) / on the Beatitudesprayers / prodigal son / raised to new life / seeking Godthinking faith…  Ft. McIntosh:  about (more) / army post / history…  Laredo: churches / center for the arts / Chano Aldrete / community college / La Posada Hotel history / Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center (facebook) / museums / tours (eventsheritage walking tour)…  San Agustin: cathedral (diocesan pagefacebookhistory – Mass times) / historic district / obispo (bishop)…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Etched in time…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Grapes of generosity…  Persistence…  St. Anthony…  St. Austin Church…  St. Monica…  Vaquero Fest Saturday

Simple yet profound


Traditions are accepted unquestioningly and become as natural as breathing and blinking, but I’ve had a lifelong preoccupation with why we cross ourselves three times before the gospel is read.

Crossing oneself

Although I’m not one with roaming eyeballs in church— Mom was adamant about that— I’ve observed variations of the triple crossing before the gospel.  Some dot the four edges of the cross on their forehead, mouth, and heart, while others make the sign of the cross with their thumb.  I’ve also noticed that, while no one struggles to get it right, some perform the ritual so gracefully that it’s elegantly genuine.

With countless observations in the field I was ready.  Sooo, in 2005, I took the plunge.

If I make the ritual uniquely mine, it’ll make sense to me. 

I felt awkward at first— actually, for some time— but practice has its perks.  I’m okay with it now; but every single time before the gospel’s read, the simple act of crossing myself three times still makes me self-conscious.

Do others fumble with the ritual as I have?  Or are they perfectly at ease with the tradition? 

How can something so simple be so complex?

Perfect explanation

Until yesterday when I received Father Brummel’s weekly devotion from the Claretian National Shrine of St. Jude, I’d never thought to ask, nor had anyone thought to explain, the significance of the triple crossing before the gospel is read during Mass.

“We make the sign of the cross over our forehead, lips, and heart… praying that God’s powerful Word might always be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.”


Father Brummel’s simple yet profound explanation was so insightful that I’m still smiling.

More to ponder

Only now, this inquiring mind is percolating another thought.

At Mass back home, the Alleluia is always sung before and after the gospel and is followed by the sign of the cross after the homily.  Is this not a universal practice?

Note: Only when the bishop is present during Mass is the Alleluia sung after the gospel (Fr. Frank Martinez, STL; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 7.22.17).


Behold the cross of the Lord!  Begone all evil powers!  The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered!  Alleluia, alleluia! (St. Anthony).

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

O Father, your power is greater than all powers.  O Son, under your leadership we cannot fear anything.  O Spirit, under your protection there is nothing we cannot overcome (#72: Kikuyu, Kenya).

June 15, 2014

“Think of the Father as a root, and of the Son as a branch, and of the Spirit as a fruit; for the substance in these three is one” (St. John Damascus).

April 4, 2015

“His sign is the sign of the cross, the death that leads to transfiguration” (Fr. Robert Barron).

March 24, 2016

“The sign of the cross is a seal at sight of which the destroying angel passes on and does us no harm” (St. John Damascene de Boulogne).

April 21, 2016

When making the sign of the cross, therefore, we confess three great mysteries: the Trinity, the Passion, and the remission of sins by which we are moved from the left, the hand of the curse, to the right, the hand of blessing (St. Francis de Sales in The Sign of the Cross).

June 13, 2016

The devil is afraid of us when we pray and make sacrifices.  He is also afraid when we are humble and good.  He is especially afraid when we love Jesus very much.  He runs away when we make the sign of the cross (St. Anthony of Padua).

December 20, 2016

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.  Do not lose courage in considering you own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them— every day begin the task anew (St. Francis de Sales).

June 11, 2017

Lord Jesus Christ, who for the redemption of the world gave your life completely even unto death on a cross, we lift up your glorious cross as our sign of salvation.  Through your infinite love you transformed the hated cross, an instrument of humiliation and suffering, into the holy cross, a symbol of victory over the powers of sin and death.  For this reason, we wear the holy cross around our necks, hang the cross in our homes, and now sign ourselves with that cross.  [In] the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen (Stephen J. Binz in Saint Junipero Serra’s Camino: A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions).


St. James Church – Bishop, TX

Links of interest…  100 prayers…  Ascension & our journey home…  Blessing your children…  Bored at Mass? A 7-step method to fix that…  Bowing at Mass…  Claretians: blog / faith reflections national shrine / prayers / videos (YT)…  Holy water: hidden poweruse, & why…  How geometry expresses Christian truths in art / to dispose of sacramentalswe fill our space…  John Adams & the Mass…  Kneeling ban: Good liturgy or loss of religious freedom…  Make Christ present, wherever you are…  Mystery of the beloved apostle…  Ritual & prayer are what we have in common…  Sacred vessels & linens used at Mass…  Sharing a faith with spectacular sinners…  Sign of the cross: 21 things we do / about / & our baptismbeautiful gesture / book / homilyhow to make (more) / our faith / significance / what is / why Catholics do this…  Spiritual power of church bells / significance of genuflecting…  St. Francis de Sales: Treatise on the love of God: bookebook (more) / quotessummary…  Symbolism of numbers…  Thomas à Kempis: Imitation of Christ…  Three powerful sacramentals for your home  We are all marked men & women…  What do the hand gestures in icons mean / does it matter if my rosary is blessed…  Where did the Bible come from…  Why Christians use the fish symbol / churches have columns / churches have Mary on the left & Joseph on the right / Catholics genuflectwe fold our hands in prayer / we pray “world without end”…  Yale offers free online courses in the Early Middle Ages

WP posts…  Church time blues…  Concrete abstraction…  Dear God…  Gifts…  October novena…  Our music…  Prayer power…  Seven dwelling places…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude Shrine (Chicago)…  Two angels