Christmas blessings

The good family is marked by a mutual love which brightens and warms like a flame the practice of every virtue.  Goodness sweetens and strengthens the leadership of the father, deepens the mother’s delicate tact, encourages the fidelity of the children, tempers their exuberance, and inspires their unstinting sacrifices (Pope John XXIII).


Christmas blessings…  May all the days of all the years that God has still in store be filled with every joy and grace to bless you more and more.  May hope of heart and peace of mind beside you ever stay.  And that’s the golden wish I have for you this Christmas day!

Lord, with faith and joy we celebrate the birthday of your Son.  Increase our understanding and our love of the riches you have revealed in him, who is Lord for ever and ever.  Amen.

God of Mary and Joseph, of shepherds and animals, bless us whenever we gaze on this manger scene.  Through all the days of Christmas may these figures tell the story of how humans, angels, and animals found the Christ in this poor place.  Fill our house with hospitality, joy, gentleness, and thanksgiving; and guide our steps in the way of peace.  Grant this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Family…  O dear Jesus, I humbly implore you to grant your special graces to our family.  May our home be the shrine of peace, purity, love, labor, and faith.  I beg you, dear Jesus, to protect and bless all of us, absent and present, living, and dead.

O Mary, loving Mother of Jesus and our Mother, pray to Jesus for our family, for all the families of the world, to guard the cradle of the newborn, the schools of the young, and their vocations.

Blessed St. Joseph, holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, assist us by your prayers in all the necessities of life.  Ask of Jesus that special grace which he granted to you to watch over our home at the pillow of the sick and the dying so that, with Mary and with you, heaven may find our family unbroken in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Amen.

Lord God, creator and sustainer of life, watch over our family gathered in Jesus’s name.  Guide and guard us, keep us united in love for one another.  Let your grace be our support in whatever emergencies may lie ahead.

Show us, Father, how to put the past behind us, give you our best today, and place our tomorrows in your hands.  Bless our laughter and tears, ease our sorrows and fears.  Teach us to appreciate every good gift from your paternal heart.  Amen.

Home and household…  Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only begotten son to every nation by the guidance of a star.  Bless this house and all who inhabit it.  Fill us with the light of Christ that our concern for others may reflect your love.

New year blessing…  May your new year be a time of peace, joy, and serenity!  May each day bring you closer to Christ and more loving to those in your family!  May each week see you advancing in the practice of faith, hope, and charity!  May each month give to you the aid, comfort, and strength you need from God!  May the march of the seasons make you appreciate and be grateful for all the good things you enjoy!  May the end of the new year find you happier, healthier, and holier than you have ever been! (Franciscan Mission Associates).

Parents…  Most loving Father, the example of parenthood, you have entrusted our children to us to bring them up for you and prepare them for everlasting life.  Assist us with your grace that we may fulfill this sacred duty with competence and love.  Teach us what to give and what to withhold.  Show us when to reprove, when to praise, and when to be silent.  Make us gentle and considerate, yet firm and watchful.  Keep us from the weakness of indulgence and the excess of severity.  Give us the courage to be disliked sometimes by our children when we must do necessary things which are displeasing in their eyes.  Give us the imagination to enter their world in order to understand and guide them.  Grant us all the virtues we need to lead them by word and example in the ways of wisdom and piety.  One day, with them, may we enter into the joys of our true and lasting home with you in heaven.  Amen.

Peace…  Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.  For it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen.

SJC122609-22Praise and petition…  In adoration we kneel before your crib.  You wish, little Lord Jesus, only our love and affection.  You come to us as a little child the better to win our hearts.

Though you are our all-powerful God, you conceal your divinity for love of us.  For our sake you wish to be weak, helpless, and wholly dependent on us creatures you yourself made.  Thus, you show how necessary it is for us to be humble, obedient, and as trusting as you were.

Assist us in your tender mercy to imitate you, to rule by serving, to conquer by loving, to be great by becoming little, to be powerful when weakest, to gain life eternal by losing one’s life for your sake.  So will we be happy always by following you commands and example.

May your holy Virgin-Mother, Mary, assist us.  Amen.

Special blessing…  The Lord bless you and keep you!  The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you!  The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! (Nm. 6:24-26).

Spouses…  Lord Jesus, grant that (name) and I may have a true and understanding love for each other.

Grant that we may both be filled with faith and trust.  Give us the grace to live with each other in peace and harmony.  May we always bear with one another’s weaknesses and grow from each other’s strengths.  Help us to forgive one another’s failings and grant us patience, kindness, cheerfulness, and the spirit of placing the well-being of one another ahead of self.

May the love that brought us together grow and mature with each passing year.  Bring us both ever closer to you through our love for each other.  Let our love grow to perfection.  Amen.

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Contact information

Prayer leaflet is from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

December 23, 2012

Mary went without delay to communicate her joy to her cousin Elizabeth….  This is the real commitment of Advent: to bring joy to others.  Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive presents that demand time and money (Pope Benedict XVI).

December 9, 2013

Let your goodness, Lord, appear to us, that we, made in your image, may conform ourselves to it.  In our own strength we cannot imagine your majesty, power and wonder; nor is it fitting for us to try; but your mercy reaches from the heavens, through the clouds, to the earth below.  You have come to us as a small child; but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of your eternal love.  Caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries
(St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

December 25, 2013

Mary and Joseph, thank you for bringing Jesus to me!  Pray that I might love him as you did— more and more each day (the Word among us, Advent 2013, p. 43).

December 7, 2014

“Divine blessings are not granted to those who sleep, but to those who keep watch”
(St. Ambrose).

December 14, 2014

The Christian family has a special vocation to witness to the paschal covenant of Christ by constantly radiating the joy of love and the certainty of the hope for which it must give an account: “The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come (Pope St. John Paul II).

December 25, 2014

At Christmas we contemplate God made man, divine glory hidden beneath the poverty of a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, the creator of the universe reduced to the helplessness of an infant.  Once we accept this paradox, we discover the truth that sets us free and the love that transforms our lives (Pope Benedict XVI).

“Blessed is he who possesses Bethlehem in his heart and in whose heart Christ is born daily” (St. Jerome).

Go to Jesus….  He is on the altar surrounded by angels and praying.  Let them make some room for you and join them in doing what they do (St. Mary Joseph Rossello).

“On this night let us share the joy of the gospel: God… so loves us that he gave us his son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness” (Pope Francis).

December 5, 2015

If God, in the Christmas mystery, reveals himself not as one who remains on high and dominates the universe, but as the one who bends down [and] descends to the little and poor earth, it means that, to be like him, we should not put ourselves above others but, indeed, lower ourselves [and] place ourselves at the service of others (Pope Francis).

December 13, 2015

Lord God, I praise, glorify and bless you for all the graces and privileges you have bestowed upon Joseph, your foster father and servant.  By his merits grant that I may always be grateful for whatever you send me.  Lord, may I share the joys of St. Joseph at the coming of Jesus this Christmas season and may I be patient and forbearing in times of trial knowing that Jesus is always with me and gives me the grace to live each day accompanied by him.

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.

December 25, 2015

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December 27, 2015

Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not the expensive gifts that call for time and money.  We can communicate this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, a little help, forgiveness.  And the joy we give will certainly come back to us.…  Let us pray that this presence of the liberating joy of God shines forth in our lives (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the feast of the Holy Family).

December 31, 2015

Only a few hours more— and this year too will come to an end and pass into history.  I too finish the year and await the new dawn with joy….  I go down on my knees before my God and, recalling his kindnesses to me this year, I humble myself in the dust and thank him with all my heart (St. John XXIII).


Links of interest…  Boxing Day…  Christmas: all about / artarticles / celebrating / eve & day / free & funflash mob (YouTube) / holy family – nativity (more) / in the simple things /  meaning of wishmas / movies / origami (calendar boxes – ornaments – treats for trees) / ornaments / poinsettia / prayers for family (more) / printables / seasonal customs / traditions (more) / visit…  Christmastide: customs / foods / fourth (other) wise man (about – meaning – movie) / octave (more / more) / other countries & cultures / overview / prayers (guide) / twelve days & more / why celebrate…  Epiphany: about / feast (more) / prayers & customs / saints / season / “three kings day”…  Novenas: chaplet (how to bead – more – motherhood) / Christmas / customs (more) / devotion (more – simple – Nov 30-Dec 24) / Father Charles Vachetta / prayers (family – more – pdf – subscribe) / posadas & 2nd novena (Dec 16-24) / videos…  Ponder it all…  Solemnity of Mary: about / canticle (YouTube) / feast / in Christian tradition / January 1st / John Paul II’s homily (2001) / Magnificat (YouTube) / Mary / meaning / Mother of God / prayers / resources page / tribute (YouTube)…  St. Andrew: apostle (more) / about (more) / novena (more) / prayers…  What was the first Christmas like…  When you long to be home for Christmas

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St. Mary Cathedral

Before returning home from Austin yesterday, Steven and I attended Mass at the St. Mary Cathedral.

Neither of us had been there, so we had no idea we’d be transported to another place in time.

The bold colors, stained glass windows, lifelike statues, and arched ceilings were stunning; the soft lighting and the straight backed, unpadded, wooden pews reminiscent of the European churches Segy and I visited years ago.

And the music?  Oh, the music.


As I thought of Mozart, Steven whispered, “It’s part of Handel’s Messiah.”

After Mass, the priest announced that tickets were going fast for St. Mary’s fifth annual Celtic Christmas concert this coming weekend.  How I wished to be there!











Mary, Mother of God…  O Mary, Mother of God, as you are above all creatures in heaven and earth, more glorious than the cherubim, more noble than any here below, Christ has given you to his people, firm bulwark and protectress, to shield and save sinners who fly unto you.

Therefore, O Lady, all embracing refuge, we solemnly recall your sweet protection, and beg Christ forever for his mercy.  Amen.

Mary, Mother of the Church…  Mary, Queen of Apostles, you are present among all peoples.  Mother of the Church, you remind us constantly of our place and our role in the Church.  Jesus sends us on mission to be with others, a sign and reflection of the lights of his heart.  Mary, help us to be responsible members of the Church.

Our Father….  Hail Mary….

Links of interest…  Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page prayers (miracles – more – novena – queen of angels) / untier of knots…  Messiah (about)…  St. Mary Cathedral: about / Mary, blessed virgin / Mass times / nave  prayer requests / restoration / visitors / website…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Painted churches…  St. Austin Church…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s

Sweet Jesus

Adorable Infant Jesus, you not only humbled yourself to assume our human nature, but chose also to come to us as a little child, weakest and most defenseless among men.  Teach us, then, to learn the real greatness of humility and that human strength is made perfect in weakness by your divine aid.

Lovable Infant Jesus, have mercy on us and help us in our need.  Let us rely alone on God, our most provident Father, who watches over us always.  By your grace may we approach our heavenly Father in confidence with a trust like that of a little child.

Admirable Infant Jesus, have pity on our littleness and weakness and assist us by your divine power in our present necessity.  Please help us today to reverence all life and, for your sake, to love all living things which your goodness created and your coming recreated.  Amen.

V.  Lord, you made us a little less than angels.
R.  You have crowned us with glory and honor.

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace and King of the Universe, you chose to come among us as a helpless infant so that we might all approach you more readily, confidently, and without fear.

Help us, please, our Infant King, to become like little children.  Please grant us the heavenly help we now seek.  Aid us from your throne on high to imitate your perfect love of God and man.  In your goodness, Divine Child, manifest your power to all men, preserve us from sin, and bring us safe at last into your heavenly company.  Amen.

O sweet Jesus, I desire neither life nor death but your most holy will.  You are the one, O Lord, that I long for.  If it be your will to have me die, receive my soul and grant that, in you and with you, I may receive everlasting rest.  If it be your holy will to have me live longer upon this earth, give me the grace to amend the rest of my life and, with good works, to glorify your holy name.  Amen.

O miraculous Infant Jesus, we prostrate before your sacred image and beseech you to cast a merciful look on our troubled hearts.  Let your tender heart, so inclined to pity, be softened by our prayers and grant us the grace that we ardently implore you.  Take from us all affliction and despair, all trials and misfortunes with which we are laden.  For your sacred infancy’s sake, hear our prayers and send us consolation and aid, that we may praise you with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever and ever.  Amen.

Prayers (above): Franciscan Mission Associates (R-6 R) & Sacred Heart League

Chaplet to the Child Jesus

The chaplet consists of fifteen beads attached to a medal of the Holy Infant.  Prayers include three Our Father‘s in honor of the Holy Family, twelve Hail Mary‘s in memory of the childhood of Jesus Christ, and three Glory be‘s.

On the medal, say either “Holy Infant Jesus, bless and protect us!” or

Divine Infant Jesus, I adore your cross; and I accept all the crosses you will be pleased to send me.  Adorable Trinity, I offer you, for the glory of the holy name of God, all the adorations of the sacred heart of the holy Infant Jesus.

On each of the three beads, say “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” and pray an Our Father.

On each of the twelve beads, say “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” and pray a Hail Mary.

  1. The incarnation of the Son of God…   Say… and pray….
  2. The life in the womb of the Virgin Mary…   Say… and pray….
  3. Child-Jesus-chapletThe birth in Bethlehem…   Say… and pray….
  4. The adoration by the shepherds…   Say… and pray….
  5. The circumcision of the Lord…   Say… and pray….
  6. The adoration by the three magi…   Say… and pray….
  7. The presentation in the temple…   Say… and pray….
  8. The flight to Egypt…   Say… and pray….
  9. The stay in Egypt…   Say… and pray….
  10. The return to Nazareth…   Say… and pray….
  11. The hidden life in Nazareth…   Say… and pray….
  12. The twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple…   Say… and pray….

On each of the three beads, say either “Holy Infant Jesus, bless and protect us!” or “Holy Child Jesus, bless us and grant us our petitions” and pray a Glory be.

Let us pray…  O holy Child Jesus, whose omnipotence is manifested in a wonderful manner and whose miraculous hand, raised in benediction, fills us with all blessings, graciously deign to hear all who call upon you with confidence.  Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, lord of heaven and earth, you revealed yourself to little ones.  Grant, we beg of you, that we who venerate with due honor the sacred mysteries of your son, the Child Jesus, and imitate his example may enter the kingdom of heaven which you promised to little children.  Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Consecration…  O most gracious Infant Jesus, I adore you, I love you, and I venerate you in the mysteries of your holy infancy.  I thank you for becoming a child for love of me.  In return, I give and consecrate myself entirely to your love.  I beg of you to grant me, now and throughout my life, the virtues of your holy childhood.  Give me, dear Jesus, the treasure of your humility, the sweetness of your charity, your prompt obedience, and your simplicity.  May your grace draw me to love and imitate you and enjoy your majesty in heaven.  Amen.

Thanksgiving…  O most gracious Infant Jesus, I kneel before you and offer you my fervent thanks for the blessings you have showered on me.  I shall always praise your mercy and confess that you alone are my God, my helper, and my protector.  Henceforth, my entire confidence shall be placed in you.  I shall proclaim all over your mercy and generosity.  May your great love and the great deeds performed be acknowledged by all.  May devotion to your holy infancy extend more and more in the hearts of all mankind.  May all who experience your assistance be ever grateful to your holy infancy.  May they praise and glorify you for all eternity.  Amen.

January 6, 2013

“The angels and shepherds praise you and the magi advance with the star, for you are born for us, Little Child, God eternal” (Romanus the Melodist; Catechism 525:204).

June 19, 2013

“Beloved Jesus… sweet honey, indescribable longing delight of the saints, sweetness of the angels!” (St. Romuald).

December 23, 2013

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us.  Authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

December 25, 2013

“Let us follow the star of inspiration and divine attraction which calls us to the crib, and let us go there to adore and love the Child Jesus and offer ourselves to him” (St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

“Who can sleep on the night that God became man?” (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross / Edith Stein).

“When you became small, O God, you made human beings great” (St. Catherine of Siena).

December 26, 2013

Jesus, you are more than a baby in a manger.  You are the one who brings the life of heaven to earth!  Fill me with your spirit, and send me out to be witness to the world (the Word among us, Advent 2013, p. 44).

January 3, 2014

“The name of Jesus is the most sweet-tasting nourishment of contemplation, for it feeds and revives those souls that are famished and spiritually hungry” (St. Bernardine of Siena).

February 5, 2014

“Christ alone is my salvation” (St. Agatha).

January 3, 2015

Glorious name, gracious name, name of love and of power!  Through you sins are forgiven; through you enemies are vanquished; through you the sick are freed from their illness; through you those suffering in trials are made strong and cheerful.  You bring honor to those who believe; you teach those who preach; you give strength to the toiler; you sustain the weary
(St. Bernardine of Siena).

May 11, 2015

“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child” (Anne Lamott).

August 19, 2015

“Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desires, and his disposition live and reign there” (St. John Eudes).

September 20, 2017

It seems to me that I am no more than a very tiny thing in the arms of God, and that I will remain so until I die.  I do not know what He wants to do with me, but I desire it all (Venerable Marthe Robin in Robert Ellsberg’s The Franciscan Saints).

December 27, 2017

At our own birth, the child of Christmas is born in us.  He is our spiritual potential.  But we have to let that birth find its fulfillment in a life that rises above the ordinary.  You might say that we have to keep the promise of that child alive in us always.  Christmas is a reminder that the child is always being born, always in the manger, and always being welcomed (Thomas Moore in The Soul of Christmas).

January 3, 2019

Jesus!  A sweet name, a delightful name!  A name that comforts sinners and offers blessed hope.  A name that is a joyful cry from the heart, that is music to the ear and honey in the mouth (St Anthony of Padua).

June 23, 2020

There is but one great word of our salvation: Jesus!  May we be able, at least once, to say this sacred name with all our heart.  What a balm it pours out upon all of the powers of our soul (St. Francis de Sales in Roses Among Thorns).

Immaculate Conception Church – Hammond, WI

Pdf file…  Child Jesus chaplet prayers

Links of interest…  Child Jesus: aboutchaplet (more) / devotion / feast infancy & childhood / meditations / miracles (books) / novena / of good health / photos / prayers in Spanishquestions & answers / reverence / shrine / solemnity…  How you & your kids can “become like children”…  Infant of Prague: novena & petitions…  Real mystics love Jesus…  You can’t have the crib without the cross

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Forever grateful…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  St. Anthony Claret…  Venerable Margaret

Franciscan experience


Steven and I toured Our Lady of Guadalupe in Hebbronville, TX the day of Vaquero Fest.  (The edited version below is from the audio recording made November 7, 2009.)

“My name is Azalia Perez, and I’m the president of the Hebbronville Museum Foundation and member of the Jim Hogg County Historical Commission.  I’m also an active parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Hebbronville.”

The church

OLG11709-85“This is Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.  Our Franciscan friars got here in 1926 from the Province of the Saints Francis and Santiago, or James, in Guadalajara, Mexico; and they’ve been here ever since.

“The church is in the form of a cross.  All Franciscan churches are built in the form of a cross.  You have the main altar with two small altars, one on either side.  The church gets a new priest every three years, since Franciscans are missionaries subject to reassignment more often than regular priests.

“In 2005, Father Ricardo Rivera came to Hebbronville and started changing our church, which was very plain.  Father said we have a beautiful church, so we need to show it off.  It was donated by Stella Kenedy in memory of her husband.   It’s the only Franciscan church in South Texas.

“The altar is made from wood that was brought from San Luis Potosi.  Father had the altar moved toward the front, and it’s bigger now.

“We also got new lights, marble on the sides of the church, and lit panels.  The ceiling will be getting a new cover, and more changes are coming.”

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St. Anthony’s relic

“We have St. Anthony on the right as one faces the altar.  In May, part of St. Anthony’s elbow, or relic, visited our church.  The bishop was present for the ceremony, a special Mass, and fellowship before the relic was taken to another church.”

“This is similar to the activities at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff when Our Lady of Guadalupe’s tilma arrived for a three-day visit,” I said.  “We had a wonderful Mass and, of course, a potluck afterwards.  Different festivities took place during her stay and, at the end, a despedida Mass and a short procession from the church to the van that transported the tilma to its next destination.”

“When St. Anthony’s relic crossed the border from Mexico into the United States, it got to San Agustin Church, the basilica in Laredo.  Although our diocese is not Franciscan, the bishop did not want to release the relic until all our churches were blessed, so he invited everyone to the cathedral for Mass and a celebration.  Only then was the relic brought to Hebbronville.  We were very blessed to have St. Anthony’s relic, even if for a short time, Sunday morning until Sunday night.  It will visit every Franciscan church in the United States and Mexico before it returns to Italy.”

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“Here at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church we celebrate the Divine Mercy.  We are very blessed because not every priest supports this devotion.  We also have a spiritual relationship with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Francis, and St. Joseph.  We have a statue of St. Isidore on one of the side altars because he’s the patron of farmers.  Since ours is a farming and ranching community, the church was originally named St. Isidore.  But that changed in 1926, when the Franciscans arrived from Mexico.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is the protector of our priests as well as the patroness of the Americas.”

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The chapel

Next, we walked into the Annex, which is through the side door on St. Anthony’s right.

“After tomorrow this will be known as the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament,” Azalia continued.  “Our provincial is visiting here from Guadalajara, so he’ll bless the chapel after seven o’clock Mass.”

On entering the chapel, I couldn’t help but say, “Oh, I love angels.  I love angels.”

“If you look around, we have paintings, beautiful paintings.  The artist is from Monterrey.  We use the chapel every day for early morning Mass at seven and again at twelve-fifteen.  This room used to be longer; but, when Father Ricardo arrived here, he turned part of it into an office and put up some Tau windows.

“Earlier today, part of our Franciscan fraternity met with the provincial.  I told him, ‘We, in Hebbronville, are in love with the Franciscan charisma, with St. Francis.’  We will never change our priests for anything, so now he knows that we won’t let him take our priests away from us.”

“Are you kidding?” I interjected.  “This is ever so special!”

Building community

“The church remodeling is an ongoing project.  We still have lots to do here and in the church.  It takes a lot of money.  We’re a poor community, so we greatly appreciate not only the heartfelt efforts and contributions from our parishioners but also the generosity of others willing to help us with this endeavor.”

“So have you always been fascinated with all of this?” I asked.

OLG11709-bk“Yes.  A priest who was here for a time wrote a history of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and the Franciscans in South Texas.  I have seven copies to sell, but the book’s in Spanish.”

Knowing my fascination with Franciscans, Steven got me a copy (Villalobos Avendaño, 2006) after today’s book reading in the church basement.  I can hardly wait to see the old photos and read through the interesting facts.

I stopped taking photos for a moment, then continued.

“We came to Vaquero Fest today because we love Bill Hellen.  From the beginning, he piqued our curiosity when he insisted we ‘come see the old church.’  During our first visit, Lorenzo [one of the workmen] invited us back.  Then, in Laredo, you told us, ‘You have to come because it’s ready.’  So I told Steven, ‘She invited us.  That’s it.’  You’re the reason we’re here.”

“Oh, thank you!  I’m so glad to hear that!”

“This visit means a lot to us,” I continued.  “Even though we’re in different places, still, we’re part of the same community.”

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“What more can I tell you?  All our windows were donated by parishioners.  They’re very old.  They’re as old as the church.  I don’t know if the work was completed in 1962, more or less, or in 1963.  Construction started, stopped due to lack of funds, then started again.  We’re very blessed with our church.  There’s something unique about it.”

“It’s gorgeous!” Steven enthused.

“So tell me about your history with the church growing up.  Your mother brought you?”

“My mother and my grandmother,” Azalia continued.  “Actually, my grandmother on my dad’s side.  I grew up when the priest was facing the altar.  Most of the time, you didn’t know what he was saying.”

“Yes, in Latin.  Yes.  I understand,” Steven chuckled.  (We both took Latin in high school, but it’s a dead language nonetheless.)

“We would walk four or five blocks from my grandmother’s house to church for Mass at six.  My husband and I got married in 1966, baptized my children here; and my son, who now lives in Kingsville, got married here.  I’ve been working with the church since 1982.”

“My gosh,” I said, recalling my own early morning walks with Sylvia to attend six o’clock Mass as a kid.  “That’s a very long, personal history with this church.”

“I had a special-needs child who took all my time, so I couldn’t be here fulltime.  But, after he passed away, I said, ‘Lord, here I am.’  So this is what I’ve been doing ever since.”

“Was your child a boy or a girl?” I asked, as Steven listened intently.

“A boy.  Actually, up until the time that he was born he was okay.  But, because of complications at birth, he died in 1992.  That was seventeen years ago.  He would’ve been thirty-one right now.”

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“What a blessing to have him the time that you did but how very sad, too,” I said.

“You learn early on that God has sent your trial to show you something or to teach you something.  And we did.  We did.  We think we did.”

“All he wants is the very best for us,” I continued.  “But, as you said, he allows us to go through situations he knows we can handle, even though it’s tough at times to understand that.”

“As soon as he passed away I sponsored the altar servers for twelve years.  Then I joined the choir and the Franciscan fraternity.  And, when Father Frank arrived, he gave me the ministry for baptisms.  I’m very happy with that.”

“You get to deal with the little ones!  Well, they come in all sizes for baptism.”

Azalia smiled.  “They do.  They’re precious.  I try to be at every baptism.  Sometimes I can’t, but this new priest is adorable.  He’s very spiritual.  Father Frank replaced Father Ricardo in August.  The first time I saw him celebrating a baptism, he lifted the baby all the way and announced, ‘Parishioners, I present to you a newborn Christian.’  That was beautiful.  I tell the parents, ‘Bring your cameras because, once your baby’s up there, it’s awesome.’”

“It’s just that one quick moment, and then it’s over,” I said, remembering.  “It has to be captured in photos, so the child can know that this very special event happened.”

We talked a bit more before Azalia realized that she had tours to give as well as other duties to fulfill that afternoon.

“Well, thank you for coming!  I didn’t expect for y’all to come, but I’m glad you did.”

“Thank you!  You are very blessed, Azalia!”

Steven and I were most appreciative of the time she spent with us.


Lord God, to whom belongs all creation and who call us to serve you by caring for the gifts that surround us; inspire us by the example of Saint Isidore to share our food with the hungry and to work for the salvation of all people.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

December 13, 2009 

Azalia emailed and included photos.

We just finished with Our Lady of Guadalupe feast.  It was wonderful.  We had a large turnout for the Mass and the dinner.  Thanks be to God.

I’m sending you some pictures of the altar.

Oh, the last picture is of Father Juan José.  He was with us for two months but is leaving for Spain on Wednesday.  He will be helping another Franciscan who is by himself and needs help.  Great example of St. Francis.

“We are minstrels of the Lord, whose work is to lift people’s hearts and move them to spiritual gladness” (St. Francis).


April 4, 2014

All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.  By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned
(St. Isidore of Seville).

April 4, 2017

“There are two kinds of martyrs, one in open suffering, the other in the hidden virtue of the spirit” (St. Isidore).



Links of interest…  Divine Mercy: about / song (YouTube)…  Franciscan: experience / prayer / resources…  How early churches came to be built in the form of a cross…  La Mota Ranch: Bill Hellen (agritourism: more / fishing & hunting)…  Mexico is the most violent Latin American country for priests…  Our Lady of Guadalupe: church (Hebbronville) / mother / patroness / tilma…  Sacred Heart of Jesus…  Scottus College (more)…  St. Anthony: traditions & miracles / relic…  St. Francis: about /  biography / national shrine…  St. Isidore: farmer (more) / feast / litany novena /  preserving our inheritance of faith / printable prayer / quotes…  Texas Tropical Trail…  St. Joseph…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / parishes online / website…  Tau cross…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Franciscan treasures…  Grapes of generosity…  Historic nuggets…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  Persistence…  Prayer…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony…  St. Felix…  Vaquero Fest Saturday

Our Lady

“A great sign appeared in the sky: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).


As we celebrate the Blessed Mother’s two very special feast days this week, Father Ward’s article in the Christmas Bulletin (Association of the Miraculous Medal, 2009, pp. 1-2) focuses on Mary as a symbol of hope during Advent.

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My Queen!  My Mother!  I give myself entirely to you; and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve.  Wherefore, good mother, as I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession.  Amen (Divine Mercy Adoration Companion, Maroney, 2008).

Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful mother of holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength.  Hear my prayer offered with deep-felt confidence to beg this favor….

O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to you under the glorious Aztec title of Guadalupe, the virgin who crushed the serpent.

Queen of Martyrs, whose immaculate heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across the pathway.  Invoke the holy spirit of wisdom to fortify my will to frequent the sacraments so that, thus enlightened and strengthened, I may prefer God to all creatures and shun every occasion of sin.  Help me, as a living branch of the vine that is Jesus Christ, to exemplify his divine charity always seeking the good of others. 

Queen of Apostles, aid me to win souls for the sacred heart of my savior.  Keep my apostolate fearless, dynamic, and articulate to proclaim the loving solitude of our father in heaven so that the wayward may heed his pleading and obtain pardon through the merits of your merciful son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Holy Mary, our mother, today, each day, and in our last hour, we entrust ourselves entirely to your loving and singular care.  We place in your hands our entire hope and happiness, our every anxiety and difficulty, our whole life.  May our every endeavor be directed and guided according to the will of your son, which is your will by the aid of your prayer and special favor with God.  Amen.

OLG-aDecember 1, 2013

The spirit of Advent largely consists in living close to our Lady during the time she is carrying Jesus in her womb.  We can think of our whole life as a somewhat longer advent, a time of waiting for that definitive moment when we will at last find ourselves with God forever (Reverend Francis Fernández-Carvajal).

December 9, 2013

Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical Rose, make intercession for our Holy Church, protect the Pope, help all those who invoke you in their necessities; and, since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most Holy Son, the grace of keeping our faith, sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance.  Amen.

December 20, 2013

Our Lady was full of God because she lived for God alone, yet she thought of herself only as the handmaid of the Lord.  Let us do the same (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

May 28, 2014

Humility is like a pair of scales: The lower one side falls, the higher rises the other.  Let us humble ourselves like the Blessed Virgin, and we shall be exalted (St. John Vianney).

August 22, 2015

ICC81411-81“Because… Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the king of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of Queen” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

September 12, 2015

“The devils fear the queen of heaven to such a degree that, only on hearing her great name pronounced, they fly from him who does so as from a burning fire” (Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ).

September 26, 2015

“All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady” (J.R.R. Tolkien).

December 12, 2015

Hail, O Virgin of Guadalupe, empress of America!  Keep forever under your powerful patronage the purity and integrity of our holy faith on the entire American continent (Pope Pius XII).

Immaculate heart of Mary, heart of my Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, I unite to your purity, your sanctity, your zeal, and your love all my thoughts, words, acts, and sufferings this day that there may be nothing in me that does not become, through you, a pleasure to Jesus, a gain to souls, and an act of reparation for the offenses against your heart.

January 16, 2016

Let the storm rage and the sky darken— not for that shall we be dismayed.  If we trust as we should in Mary, we shall recognize in her, the virgin most powerful who with virginal foot did crush the head of the serpent (St. Pius X).

December 12, 2016

“This is what the Virgin of Guadalupe asks of you today: fidelity to the gospel, of which she knew how to be the most eminent example” (Blessed Paul VI).

July 1, 2017

Our Lady said yes for the human race.  Each one of us must echo that yes for our own lives.  We are all asked if we will surrender what we are… and allow Christ to fill the emptiness formed by the particular shape of our life.  The surrender that is asked of us includes complete and absolute trust; it must be like our Lady’s surrender, without condition and without reservation (Caryll Houselander).

December 12, 2017

Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to be a great sign of Christ’s nearness to us today.  She extends an invitation to all men and women to enter into communion with the Father (St. John Paul II).

Our Lady of Guadalupe – Brownsville, TX

Quinta Mazatlan – McAllen, TX

Outlet Shoppes – Laredo, TX

Links of interest…  Association of the Miraculous Medal (AMM): medal’s story & its meaning / prayers for all occasions / virtual tour of the national shrine / votive lights…  CAMM: sermons & novenas videos / vigil lights / who we are…  Deciphering the Guadalupe code…  Love revealed in brokenness…  Mariachis: Cordero de Dios & Pescador de hombres (YouTube)…  Mary: Our model for how to prepare for Christ…  Maternal love of Our Lady & the Church…  Miraculous image of Our Lady of Las Lajas…  Our Lady of Guadalupe: 23.5 degrees of consolationabbey / about / & Advent / arch of triumph / churches: Austin (video) – Brownsville / feast (Dec 12) / mother of the Americas / patroness of the Americas / prayers / queen’s guild / shrine / story / unqualified, uncomplicated consolation / videos / warrior (Bishop Barron)…  Pope Francis: God is waiting for your yes…  St. Juan Diego Guild for children…  Through wind & waves: On being a spiritual guide (Fernández-Carvajal)…  Txichochi Conetzintle (sung for Our Lady of Guadalupe)…  When Lady Day falls on Good Friday…  Who painted it? Remembering Our Lady of Guadalupe…  Woman clothed with the sun (who is)…

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Disquieting moments…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Familiar yet new…  Father’s guided tour…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Lady of sorrowsLourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady’s church…  Promise of hope…  Repeated prayers…  San Juan Diego…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Mary’s…  Time well spent