St. Monica


A few days ago, I received a letter with a couple of prayer cards from Father Robert at Franciscan Mission Associates.

Tried but true

St. Jude looks more striking than ever in rich earthen tones, I thought.

And St. Monica?  What a weathered look!  Yet she’s beautiful despite her sadness.

I read St. Monica’s prayer card and set it aside, but her expression stayed with me.

I know that look firsthand.

Model of patience

In today’s Daily Inspiration, Father Joseph Fogarty, OP focused on St. Monica, too.

St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, was a model of patience.  She bore with her husband, Patricius, who had a violent temper, and with her son, Augustine, who lived for [fifteen] years with a woman companion.

Monica managed to live happily with Patricius, despite his defects.  He was baptized in 370.  Her son, Augustine, was baptized in 387.  She patiently prayed both toward full communion with the community of believers.

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Unconditional love

One of my favorite readings came to mind.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It… does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury… but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

St. Monica

Ever faithful to God and her family, St. Monica bore her crosses with patience.  In this respect, she reminds me of St. Helena, who also overcame great adversity.

Resilient, courageous, both women are role models to emulate in good times and bad.

St. Monica’s feast day is August 27; St. Helena’s, August 18.


Model of motherly love…  O glorious St. Monica, greatly admired among mothers, I feel particularly [drawn] to you who gave such an example of motherly love.

Who could understand better than you the anxieties and fears of a mother worrying about the eternal salvation of her children?  You endured all, since… St. Augustine is the fruit of your womb and… the fruit of your tears.  For this reason I am greatly convinced that… with the sanctity of your life and the perseverance of your prayers, you are not only [a great model] of Christian [motherhood, but also] a singular protector.  Obtain for me the grace to imitate your graces faithfully.

May my children avoid those errors and failures you disapproved of… in your son.  And, if it should happen that they, too, should fall, grant me the grace to obtain (this request…) with my prayers… as perfect a conversion as you were able to obtain for your son.  Amen.

Novena…  Dear Saint Monica, you were once the mournful mother of a prodigal son.  Your faithfulness to prayer brought you and your son so close to God that you are now with him in eternity.  By your intercession and God’s grace, your son St. Augustine became a great and venerable saint of the Church. Please take my request to God with the same fervor and persistence with which you prayed for your own son.  (Mention your intentions here.)

With your needs, worries and anxieties, you threw yourself on the mercy and providence of God.  Through sorrow and pain, you constantly devoted yourself to God.  Pray for me that I might join you in such a deep faith in God’s goodness and mercy.  Above all, dear Saint Monica, pray for me that I may, like your son, turn from my sin and become a great saint for the glory of God.  Amen.

Patience and trust…  Saint Monica, prayerful wife and mother, many sorrows anguished your heart during your lifetime yet you never gave in to desperation or lost hope.  With enduring tenacity and unwavering faith you prayed ardently for the conversion of your troubled husband and for your beloved son Augustine.  God answered your tearful prayers, so I ask that I may be granted the same enduring patience and trust in the Lord.  Saint Monica, pray that God may listen to the sorrows of my heart and bless me with the grace to embrace his will for my life.  All to the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Patron of parents…  St. Monica, patron of Christian mothers, we entrust to your protection the children whose names you can read in our hearts.  Pray for them that they may be granted strength to combat weakness, victory over temptations, guidance to resolve their doubts, and success in all their undertakings.

May they enjoy health of mind and body, see beauty and worth in all created things, and serve the Lord with firm faith, joyful hope, and enduring love.  Amen.

Petition…  Dear St. Monica, once the sorrowing mother of a wayward son, be pleased to present our petitions to the Lord God of heaven and earth.  Look down upon our anxieties and needs, and intercede for us as you did so fervently for Augustine.

We have full confidence that your prayers will gain a favorable hearing in heaven.  Mother of a sinner turned saint, obtain for us patience, perseverance, and total trust in God’s perfect timing.  In his appointed hour, in his merciful way, may God respond to [our] prayers.  (State your petition.)  Amen.



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Contact information

Prayers to St. Monica are from Favorite Patron Saints (The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., pp. 18-19); the leaflets, from Father Primo at Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

August 31, 2011

Another of my favorite readings, which goes hand in hand with love and forgiveness, is good for all time, too.

Love-aFor a brief moment I abandoned you; but with great tenderness, I will take you back.  In an outburst of wrath, for a moment, I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you… so I have sworn not to be angry with you or to rebuke you.  Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you (Isaiah 54:7-10).

November 4, 2012

“Lord, show me the treasures you have placed in all the people around me— especially those I find hardest to love!” (the Word among us, November 2012, p. 23).

April 3, 2013

Lord, lift the veil that keeps me from seeing how precious people are in your eyes.  Help me to see your love for every person, and give me the compassion and the courage to extend your love to them (the Word among us, April 2013, p.23).

April 4, 2013

Jesus, touch my heart and shape my mind with your word!  Teach me, Lord, so I can stand firm in your truth no matter what happens (the Word among us, p. 24).

May 21, 2013

Lord, give me your eyes that I may see my neighbors as you see them.  Give me your heart that I may love them with your love (the Word among us, May 2013, p. 40).

June 6, 2013

“Jesus, help me to reach out to those who are searching for you” (the Word among us, June 2013, p. 26).

June 18, 2013

Father, help me to remember that my enemies are your friends.  I bring their needs before you now (the Word among us, p. 38).

July 20, 2013

Thank you, Lord, that I don’t have to qualify for your mercy.  Let this awareness help me to love you more— and to love others as you have loved me (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 39).

August 12, 2013

Jesus, thank you for you patience with me.  Help me to be patient with other people.  Teach me to focus on loving them instead of correcting them.  I trust you to work out the details (the Word among us, p. 62).

August 14, 2013

“Jesus, help me to exercise the power to forgive and to reconcile; to set free and to pronounce blessings on myself, my family, my friends, and even my enemies” (the Word among us, p. 64).

August 21, 2013

“Father, help me be just as generous as you are with all who are joining you in the vineyard” (the Word among us, p. 71).

August 23, 2013

“Lord, teach me to love all of the people you put around me with all my heart” (the Word among us, p. 73).

October 20, 2013

Lord, guide my footsteps and strengthen me for the challenges that I will face in your name.  Thank you for loving me so much that you give me the honor to do your will on earth (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 40).

October 31, 2013

Jesus, thank you for loving me even when I turned away from you.  Bring everyone— even those who seem far away from you— into your embrace (the Word among us, p. 51).

November 3, 2013

Lord, fill me with your love.  Help me look at the people around me the way you look at me (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 24).

November 9, 2013

Lord, help me recognize all the goodness and knowledge that you have already given me.  Help me use these gifts to grow into the person that you want me to become (the Word among us, p. 29).

November 29, 2013

The modern poet Danny Siegel translates a rebbe’s proverb that tells us…

If you will always assume [that] the person sitting next to you is the messiah waiting for some human kindness, you will soon learn to weigh your words and watch your hands.  And if he so chooses not to reveal himself in your time, it will not matter (Dosick, 1995, p. 50).

December 29, 2013

“Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt. 4:8).

So put on love!  Love knows it’s not perfect yet, so it makes allowances for other people’s mistakes and forgives their wrongs.  Love knows its understanding is limited, so it looks upon other people with respect and tries to learn from them.  Love knows the world is full of hurtful words and deeds, so it tries to make the home a haven of kindness and gentleness.  Love realizes that growth takes time, so it practices patience.  Love gratefully welcomes and treasures every family member, looking for the good in them, however deeply it may be buried (the Word among us, Advent 2013, p. 47).

April 20, 2014

Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra!  The resurrection of the Lord is our hope! (St. Augustine).

July 23, 2014

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

August 9, 2014

When night comes and retrospect shows that everything was patchwork and much that one had planned left undone, when so many things rouse shame and regret, then take all as is, lay it in God’s hands, and offer it up to him.  In this way we will be able to rest in him, actually to rest, and to begin the new day like a new life (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross / Edith Stein; translation, 1987).

August 28, 2014

“Let us understand that God is a physician and that suffering is a medicine for salvation, not a punishment for damnation” (St. Augustine).

November 19, 2014

I beg you, join with me in love.  Run with me in faith.  Let us yearn for our heavenly home. Let us sigh for it.  Let us realize that we are strangers here below (St. Augustine).

November 26, 2014

“To know whom to avoid is a great means of saving our souls” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

December 20, 2014

“Endeavor to be patient in bearing the defects and infirmities of others of whatever kind, for you also have many things which others must bear with” (Thomas à Kempis).

January 16, 2015

“As our body cannot live without nourishment, so our soul cannot spiritually be kept alive without prayer” (St. Augustine)

February 25, 2015

I will not live an instant that I do not live in love.  Whomever loves does all things without suffering or, suffering, loves his suffering (St. Augustine).

March 13, 2015

“All our striving in this life consists in healing the eye of the heart in order to see God”
(St. Augustine).

August 27, 2015

If you desire to be truly Christian wives and mothers, fix your gaze on
St. Monica.  Read her life and you will there see the care she bestowed on her Augustine and find much to console you (St. Francis de Sales).

March 7, 2016

“Let us pray for peace, and let us bring it about starting in our own homes” (Pope Francis).

January 5, 2017

Though God hates sin more than any other thing, he loves us poor miserable sinners.  He ardently desires the welfare of our souls as if his own happiness dependent on it (St. John Neumann).

March 9, 2017

Pope Francis reminds us that prayer is the best way to overcome blind spots in our attitudes toward others.  He doesn’t say it will be easy. But neither does he let us off the hook.  If we search our hearts, we know that we’ve all been guilty of that desire to hold someone accountable long after we think we’ve forgiven him or her (Diane M. Houdek in The Hope of Lent).

June 19, 2018

In Christ, even our failures become a source of grace when we accept them in imitation of his humility and courage; even our anxieties become a path to holiness when we ally them with his sufferings.  All that we do and say, if it is done and said in Christ, is done and said well, for true wellness is life in Christ (Clayton C. Barbeau in The Father of the Family).

August 2, 2018

In forgiving and pardoning my neighbor, I I make the conscious decision not to “fuss” over and live in the past.  I never really forget what you did to me, but I deliberately choose not to keep picking the scab, not to become entangled in the grudge.  I choose to free you from the past by electing not to dwell, mention, or remind others of what you did.  To use another image, the portal to the past remains in my heart but I make the choice to close the door, lock it, and throw the key away (Albert Haase, OFM in Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi).

April 21, 2021

“To receive the grace of God you must go to the desert and stay awhile” (Blessed Charles de Foucauld).


Lost Mine Trail – Big Bend National Park, TX

Links of interest…  5 ways to make a meaningful apology…  Augustine of Hippo: apostolic letter (JPII) / author / bishop & doctor / book on prayer /  confessions (more) / doctor of grace (more) / for all seasons / memorial (Aug 28) / on the Beatitudes / prayers / prodigal son / raised to new life / seeking God / son of tears / thinking faith / why study his works…  Edith Stein essays: book / spirituality of the Christian woman…  Five saints who didn’t get along with their families…  Franciscan: Mission Associates / prayer book / prayers / sisters…  Gossip: Eight tips from St. Francis de Sales…  How do we get better at being patient…  Living Judaism (Dosick)…  Mary, our Lady of Consolation (more)…  St. Monica: about (more) / all in God’s timebook review (book) / chaplet / feast (more) / heroic faith & patience / life / memorial (more) / model of Christian motherhood / mother (of Augustine of Hippo – more – more) / navigating difficult family dynamicsparents’ helper / patron saint (more – more) / perseverance in hopein prayerin service / prayers (litany – novena – readings)…  God turns sinners into saints…  Pallottines: devotions / prayer network (join) / shrine…  Power of patience & persevering prayer…  Ten lessons on wayward children…  Things kids tell psychologists but are too afraid to tell their parents…  Thirst for heaven…  What to do with your mind when worries won’t let you sleep…  the Word among us

WP page…  Steven’s looking-glass

WP posts…  At long last…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Forever grateful…  Gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Making meaning…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…   Morning exchanges…  One prayer…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Soulful

Heart of hearts

Two weekends ago Steven and I headed down to Brownsville after Sunday Mass and, as agreed, drove straight to Immaculate Conception Cathedral to take photos of my most favorite sacred space since starting first grade at age five across the street.

Recently captured

“It’s funny,” I told Steven as I categorized the photos on the computer desktop last night.  “I thought I’d seen everything in the cathedral but, here, my third eye’s captured bits and pieces that I’d missed over time.  I guess I’ve always been so taken with the Madonna and her Child in the left alcove that I failed to notice St. Francis and St. Teresa of Ávila in the right alcove.  And did you see the windows high up in the alcoves?  They’re beautiful!  I’d never even noticed the lower windows either, and they’re at eye level with the pews.”


Looking and seeing

Over the years the cathedral’s warm embrace has drawn me into its heart of hearts, heightening my awareness and my emotions beyond the senses.  Whether attending Mass or just dropping by for an afternoon visit I’ve been so totally captivated by the scent of times long past that I can’t begin to understand, much less explain this powerful connection.

In this sacred space I’ve occupied three different pews— on the right, in the center, on the left— and have been privileged to see everything for a lifetime, yet I’ve overlooked the obvious.  It’s like intuiting the system and being so wholly engrossed and immersed that maybe I’m there more to feel than to see?

So, how can I possibly describe my thoughts and feelings—soulful expressions that have tugged at my heartstrings— when these abstractions are uniquely mine based on knowledge, experience, and perspective?  And can my photographs even remotely convey sentiments captured by my third eye?

Heart of hearts

Still, thanks to my Coolpix I now have a fresh, concrete perspective of the cathedral on a grander scale.  My scope is no longer limited to just my recollections and the left alcove.  Because I’m able to pour over photos on the computer monitor for hours on end, my senses revel in all that had been in plain view had I known to look instead of merely being swept up by the moment.

And, I’ve made a discovery!  I have just one more photo to take— if I can resist, which I know I can’t and won’t— and then I’ll have captured everything there to my heart’s content so I can revisit at will.

Revisiting the cathedral with depth and complexity as I sorted through and selected from two hundred photos, I suddenly remembered a chance meeting almost ten years ago when I happened on the unexpected— the small statue of the Holy Infant of Prague— as I looked for Fr. Sheehan after Mass.

But how could I have missed him this time around?!! I kept asking myself.  Then again the sacristy was locked.  So, with an overwhelming desire to see the Infant once again, I’m counting the days until our next visit to my heart of hearts.
























Mary, Queen of All Hearts…  Father, you have given us the mother of your son to be our queen and mother.  With the support of her prayers may we come to share the glory of your children in the kingdom of heaven.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

Mary, mother of mankind…  Mother, I commend and entrust to you all that goes to make up earthly progress, asking that it should not be one-sided but that it should create conditions for the full spiritual advancement of individuals, families, communities and nations.  I commend to you the poor, the suffering, the sick and the handicapped, the aging and the dying.  I ask you to reconcile those in sin, to heal those in pain, and to uplift those who have lost their hope and joy.  Show to those who struggle in doubt the light of Christ, your son.  Amen.

Mother of God…  As you are above all creatures in heaven and on 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 to you.  Therefore, O Lady, all-embracing refuge, we solemnly recall your sweet protection and beg the Christ forever for his mercy.  Amen.

Our Lady of Bistrica…  Immaculate mother of Jesus, we honor you as God’s chosen one, beautiful, beloved, and free from all sin.  Keep watch over us.  Pray that we rise above our sins and failings and come to share the fullness of grace.  Be a mother to us in the order of grace by assisting us to live your obedience, your faith, your hope, and your love.  Amen.

Our Lady of Siluva…  Most holy virgin, Mary, you appeared to the shepherds in the fields at Siluva.  Your tears bathed the rock where once an altar stood.  You, with plaintive voice, said, “You plow and seed here where formerly my son was honored.”  Grant that we, moved by your tears, may once, as our forefathers did, revive the spirit of adoration of your son in our fallow hearts; strengthen the tottering structure of the shrine that is the family; and seek forgiveness for the negligences and sins of our nation.

Mother of God, we desire to raise up the glory of your revelation from forgotten ruins so that we may honor you even more, patroness of our country.  With your help, obtain for our nation the spirit of a living faith.  Through Christ, our lord.  Amen.

July 28, 2013

Finally!  The Holy Infant in three photo ops: July, February, and March, respectively!

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August 22, 2014

Jesus is king throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest.  Through him, with him, and subordinate to him, Mary is queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular election.  And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion (Pope Pius XII).

August 23, 2014

Mary, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate; your heart so full of love and humility, that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life and love him as you love him and serve him in the distressing guise of the poor (St. Teresa of Calcutta).

Pdf file: Immaculate Conception Cathedral (guide, six pages)

Links of interest…  Border time…  Catholic diocese of Brownsville, TX…  Enchanted faith…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral (ICC): abouthistorical landmarks (#38/39) / national registry / TTTRwebsite…  Our Lady of Siluva…  Promise of the Immaculate Conception…  Sacred Heart Church (ICC mission – video)…  Sacristy

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Connected tangents…  Father now retired…  Father’s guided tour…  Gifts…  Heart’s desire…  Marian devotions…  Memory lane…  Noon visit…  Our Lady’s church…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Right at home…  San Juan Diego…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels…  Venerable Margaret  

A real church


I still vividly recall my first visit to Sacred Heart with Aunt Rachel, mom’s youngest sister.  I was about four or five and so totally awed by the grandness of the church— wood floors, very high ceilings, enormous stained-glass windows— that I was too captivated to make a peep.

Sacred Heart Church was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen!

Segy’s tuba

Decades later, when Segy and I were parishioners, we met some of the nicest folks at Sacred Heart.

Segy was in the high school band program then so, all on his own, he decided to bring his tuba along to accompany the organist, who looked more than surprised— most likely tiffed— that he’d dared to do the unthinkable.  I mean, c’mon.  A tuba?!! she must’ve thought.  But Segy was not to be dissuaded.

Sometimes Mrs. Merta, a teacher friend we’d met at the elementary school where I’d taught and Segy had attended, would substitute.  Her husband was a well-known band director who loved the tuba, so Mrs. Merta was always complimentary of Segy and even rewarded him with a well deserved token of her esteem.  “Let him keep it.  He earned it,” she’d insist with a smile.

It was a very special time for me, too.  I was part of the choir even though I’d never thought I had a good singing voice.  And everyone in the group was so very, very nice.  A wonderful experience all the way around!

Lots of memories

As Steven opened the door for me to enter Sacred Heart a couple of weekends ago, the greeter wasn’t the Irish gentleman who’d always twinkled at Segy and me when we arrived for eleven-thirty Mass Sunday morning.

John O’Leary was always glad to see us.  He’d get really close as he handed me the church bulletin and tell me a quick story or two about his beloved Chicago.  His take on the great fire of 1871 was a hoot.  Then again he always got a charge out of making me laugh; and he was a spiffy dresser, too.  John was the leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a real gentleman.

Although I didn’t recognize the greeter this time, the first person I noticed talking to someone in the very last pew was the organist whom I’d always thought was a nun.  She wouldn’t have remembered me, so I kept walking to the seventh center pew, outside right— the one that Segy and I had occupied until we joined the choir.

Sitting there, I recognized two others.  A white-haired woman with a sweet smile sitting in her usual spot— left center aisle seat, third pew— whose sister mom had known through the altar society at Christ the King.  And a tall man— the lector with the same robust voice as before— who sat on the extreme left near the aisle seat, first pew, in front of the pulpit.

None of the other regulars were there but, looking around, I readily envisioned them in their respective places.  I hadn’t known them all by name, yet I easily remembered their heartfelt smiles and their lighthearted conversations.  No matter that most of them had been much older than the rest of us, they welcomed all who celebrated Mass in their beloved Sacred Heart.

Lots of delectable recollections gushed forth as I savored my time in church.  Lingering about after Mass.  Talking with various folks.  Charles and his sister, whose parents always helped with counting money and other responsibilities.  Vicki and Tom, newlyweds in their much later years.  Evening choir rehearsals for Christmas and Easter Masses.  Frs. Moran, Sheehan, and Lanese.  Judge Garza, whom President Kennedy had appointed to the U.S. district court, and his family who shared space with the rest of us off and on during the year.  The visiting priest from Port Isabel who, in his infinite wisdom, compared the soul to a multifaceted crystal vase in his unforgettable homily.  So many excellent memories!

Same as always

??????????I was beyond glad to be back at Sacred Heart after so many years— too many, really— that I wondered what’d kept me away after Segy left for Wabash.

Tears filled my eyes.  Don’t do it.  Don’t cry.  You won’t be able to stop, I told myself.  I felt Segy so strongly that persistent tears streamed down my face even after wiping at them again and again.

I’d been gone more than twelve years, and yet I’d never left.  Funny, too, how Steven had taken Segy’s (Steven’s) place beside me at the very same pew we’d occupied so many years before.

A real church

In the midst of all these memories and emotions I’d been listening to Fr. Joe’s homily.

“This is a real church,” Father said before repeating for emphasis.  “This— is a real church.”

Yes, I smiled.  This is what I’ve been telling Steven all along.  Not all churches are real, but I know real.  So, maybe now having heard it from someone else who knows, he’ll believe me.

And whomever has said— me included— that one can’t ever go back isn’t altogether correct.  Sacred Heart is as it’s always been: beautiful, peaceful, embracing.  Real.











April 20, 2015

In a spirit of openheartedness, we need to listen to the unexpected and to embrace the new and different in the passage of scripture that we are pondering.

As I am reading the scriptures as if for the first time, help me, Spirit of God, to surrender to the unknown, letting your Word shape and form me into your likeness (Sister Maria Tasto, OSB, 1938-2014).

June 15, 2015

There is a subtle difference between listening and reflecting.  So often we do not listen as deeply as we could.  We tend to rush right into reflective thoughts and miss the real point of the conversation.

Gently remind me, O God, to listen deeply to what you are communicating. Give me the patience to hang out with the reading, letting it take me to a deeper level within myself.  Help me to savor the word or phrase that catches my attention, hearing WHAT is being said (Sister Maria Tasto).


Links of interest…  Catholic diocese of Brownsville TX…  Great Chicago fire…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral (ICC)…  Judge Reynaldo Garza: biography (YouTube) / collection…  Sacred Heart Church (about / video)…  Sisters of St. Benedict (Indiana): Monday messages / prayer requestswebsite…  Valley Catholic: Church of the week (SHC)…

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Backtracking…  Beautiful sacred space…  Budding relationships…  Building community…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Connected tangents…  Father now retired…  Father’s guided tour…  Heart of hearts…  Home again…  Memory lane…  Our Lady’s church…  Promise of hope…  Right at home…  Sacred Heart…  Sacred Heart Church…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus

Building community

When I joined Steven for UTMSI’s annual family Thanksgiving luncheon last fall, we sat with a delightful group of women.

I hadn’t met most of the ladies face to face, but I knew who they were from the glowing comments I’d received about them from both Pat, their supervisor, and Steven.

Among them was Mary, a sweetheart with joyful eyes who, through Pat, had sent me a Divine Mercy photograph that her husband had received at the installation of Bishop Mulvey at the Corpus Christi Cathedral, March 25, 2010.

“Mary, I’m so happy to meet you!  Thanks again so much for the photo.  It’s posted on our church blog as a widget, so it links to the Divine Mercy song on YouTube when you click on it.”

Shared thoughts

That opener led to more conversation on prayer related topics.

“Have you heard of My Father’s House?” Mary asked smilingly.

“No,” I said somewhat perplexed as my mind scrambled for ways to ask what she meant.  “Is that the church you attend?”

Mary told me about her visit to the place in Corpus, but I could barely hear her since the lunchroom had filled and everyone was talking.

I was intrigued.

“I want to give you a book on St. Anne that I received there,” Mary continued, knowing she had to finish eating so that she could get back to work.  “I’ll give Steve the book and a couple of papers from My Father’s House tomorrow.  This way you can look into it online and maybe visit one day soon.”

Sure enough, Steven brought me the literature the following day after work; so I sent Mary a thank you.

Of course, working at the computer every day makes online searches most convenient; and Mary’s place interested me, so I checked into it right away and found something that truly piqued my interest.

Charismatic Mass

Although my most favorite church is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, I’ve had an extra special place in my heart for mom’s church, Christ the King, not because I belonged to the parish practically from birth, but because I discovered the joy of attending charismatic Mass there after teaching an eighth grade CCE class Tuesday evenings.

The best part was that my three catechist friends also attended, which was comforting ’cause I didn’t know anyone else there; and both the Mass and the long service afterwards were in Spanish.

What a heavenly delight to experience the fervor of faith with Lupita, Sally, Gracie, and all those believers!

I may not have been much into the singing or the body posturing— arms raised, eyes closed, clapping, swaying to the music— but I was certainly moved through association.

A couple of times I’d also tried the Wednesday evening service at St. Luke’s, but the community’s spirit had been so lacking that I only attended Christ the King’s after that.

Mind you, one doesn’t have to attend weekly or even regularly to become familiar with the power of united prayer at those gatherings, just as one doesn’t have to be absolutely sold on the idea of charismatic Mass.  One only needs to be predisposed to miracles.

Soulful experience

After the CCE school year ended, I attended charismatic services off and on.  Then, little by little, the girls and I got busy with our separate lives; and that was that.

Still, to have been part of the Tuesday night charismatic services was to have known not only the power of prayer, but also the gratitude expressed through the thanksgiving and praise that flowed freely among everyone present.

And I never forgot.

I mean, how can one not be touched by the suffering and pain that others feel?  How can one not be moved by others’ tears?  How can one not share in someone else’s joy?

The sights, the sounds, the faces, the stories, the community building, the rock solid faith of the folks at those charismatic services left no doubt that the spirit truly moves at Christ the King.

Personal anecdote

Then came November 1995.  I’d struggled with serious back problems for eight weeks and had been laid up for six of them.  I wanted to be up and about.  I wanted to be back at work.  And then, out of the blue, I remembered.

It was Tuesday!

Barely able to move out of bed, I told my parents, “Take me to charismatic Mass at Christ the King.”

They looked at each other in disbelief.  “But how?  You can’t even walk!”

“Just take me.  You don’t have to stay.  Just drop me off at the front door.  I’ll be all right.”

I struggled to get out of the vehicle alone, but I was determined to enter church on my own.  As I set foot on the entryway, I heard my voice deep within myself: I want to be able to run again!  Butmy head was more realistic: What?  Run?  Silly rabbit!  You can’t even walk!

Unfettered, I made my way to the fifth pew on the right where I’d sat with the girls so many times before.  I didn’t know anyone there, but I soon lost myself totally in the service.

After Mass as usual, individuals, sometimes accompanied by family members, got up to share their stories prior to the healing service.

If they can do it, so can I.  I know I’m not healed yet, but I want to give thanks and praise for being here.  I want to share my story so that God knows I believe.

Somehow, with those around me extending their hands and arms to keep me from falling, I made it to the front of the church.

In my funny Spanish, I expressed my gratitude to those present whose faith was so great and so inspirational that I’d had to be there that evening.  I don’t know how I did it ’cause I was fighting against the tearful emotions that wouldn’t be contained, but the faces looking back at me clearly understood.  And empathized.

They applauded as I made my way back to the pew.

Then, when the service was over, I held onto each pew I passed so as not to tumble down the middle aisle.

Reaching the door through which I’d initially entered, I could see the red lights on the back of my stepfather’s van.  He was stopped more than twenty yards in the distance.

Vehicles were backing out and exiting the parking lot; and the rain was intensifying as big, cold drops landed everywhere with wild abandon.  My stepfather’s van wasn’t turning back to get me, so I had to act quickly.

More concerned about getting drenched than about falling, I covered the top of my head with my left hand as my right arm instinctively swung back and forth.  And I ran for the van as if my life depended on it.

Without even thinking. 

Wow!  I still get emotional just remembering. 

My Father’s House*

As I checked the website Mary had referred to during lunch, I determined that Tuesday evening’s Mass and healing prayer is a charismatic service, one I’d most definitely like to attend.

Maybe I can talk Junebug into joining me, so I can compare it to those at Christ the King.

Funny isn’t it, how God answers prayers in perfect time ’cause I’d been talking to the gang at St. Paul’s about charismatic Mass.

Sacred Heart

Finally, two weekends ago Steven and I headed down to Brownsville early enough for us to reach Sacred Heart in time for its only weekend Mass at eleven-thirty Sunday morning.

I wanted Steven to experience the church firsthand, the way Segy and I had.

I readily recognized three of the regulars from more than twelve years ago, but I wondered where the others were.  Many of them had been part of Sacred Heart for a very long time, and they’d had lots of interesting stories to share.  How I longed to visit with them again!

My mind wandered as I smilingly looked around.  I was enjoying every moment of my recollections when I suddenly came to.

Oh, my gosh!  I can take the photo of St. Anne that I’ve waited for all these months, the perfect complement to the book Mary gave me last fall.


St. Anne

Patroness of Christian mothers, the childless, widows, and laborers, St. Anne is also the comfortress of the sorrowing, mother of the poor, health of the sick, help of the pregnant, and model of married women and mothers.

Tuesday is St. Anne’s special day, since that’s when she died.  “It will give her great joy if we give alms in her honor on Tuesdays” (Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration, 1958; TAN Books and Publishers, 1998, p. 41).

One may also pray the Hail Mary nine times in honor of the nine months during which she bore the Immaculate Virgin Mary in her womb.  Clients of St. Anne should devoutly celebrate her feast day, July 26, and prepare for it by a novena (a prayer said for nine days).  Lastly, we should try to spread devotion to good St. Anne, which can be done effectively by circulating [her prayers and devotions].


Christ the King…  Christ Jesus, I acknowledge you king of the universe.  All that has been created has been made for you.  Make full use of your rights over me.

I renew the promises I made in Baptism when I renounced Satan and all his pomps and works.  I promise to live a good Christian life and to do all in my power to procure the triumph of the rights of God and your church.

Divine heart of Jesus, I offer you my efforts in order to obtain that all hearts may acknowledge your sacred royalty [so that] the kingdom of your peace may be established throughout the universe.  Amen (From A treasury of prayers, The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., p. 9).

Memorare to St. Anne…  Remember, O holy mother St. Anne, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, and sought your intercession was left unaided.  You are a most merciful mother and aid all who are in distress.

Inspired with this confidence, I take refuge with you and implore you by your great advantage of being the mother of the Queen of Heaven and grandmother of the Savior of the world.

Come to my aid with your powerful intercession.  Obtain from your immaculate daughter this favor….

In honor of the nine months during which you bore the ever blessed virgin in your womb and brought her forth without stain of original sin, I now pray nine Hail Mary‘s, which I offer you through my guardian angel.  Amen.


DSIP-StAnne-a      DSIP-StAnne-b      DSIP-StAnne-c      DSIP-StAnne-d

Contact information

St. Anne prayer leaflets are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P. O. Box 598,
Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598 and from the Dominican Shrine of the Infant of Prague,
5 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, 06511-6815, respectively.

*August 15, 2013

This morning St. Anne beckoned.  How or why I ended up on this post I’m not sure, but I found broken links that I just now replaced.  What’s more is that I found some really interesting tidbits in my online searches.

The man who began the charismatic movement at My Father’s House died in 2009, so the worship services stopped and the worship center closed.

Since the property had initially been blessed by Bishop Carmody, the family tried to donate it to the Corpus Christi diocese.  However, Bishop Mulvey declined the offer due to the diocese’s limited resources.  Instead, “the shrine of Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Lagos [was] relocated… to a former mission,” Mary Mother of the Church, that is located at 1755 Frio Street (Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 21, 2010).

June 16, 2014

As we come to a greater knowledge of God and of self, we will grasp the meaning and purpose of our spiritual journey to become ambassadors of Jesus, carrying His message of love to all peoples.

Free me, O God, of all that prevents me from being a messenger of your love. Let me be a pencil in Your hand giving expression to your compassion and mercy (Sister Maria Tasto, OSB).

April 3, 2015

“In an absolutely delicious bit of irony, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, places over the cross, the declaration, in the three major languages of the time, that Jesus is the King, effectively de-throning Caesar and becoming, despite himself, the first great evangelist” (Fr. Robert Barron).

June 29, 2015

“Truly, matters in the world are in a bad state; but, if you and I begin in earnest to reform ourselves, a really good beginning will have been made” (St. Peter of Alcántara).

August 17, 2015

“Thanks to the charismatic movement, a multitude of Christians, men and women, young people and adults have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives” (St. John Paul II).

July 26, 2016

Anne is the glorious tree from which bloomed a twig under divine influence.  She is the sublime heaven from whose heights the Star of the Sea neared its rising.  She is the blessed barren woman, happy mother among mothers, from whose pure womb came forth the shining temple of God, the sanctuary of the Holy [Spirit], the Mother of God! (St. Jerome).

January 15, 2017

“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium;
also Meeting God in the Upper Room).

Links of interest…  Angels: all about / guardian / magnificent servants of God / stories…  Archangels: about / feast / Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael / rosary / verses…  Bebop Catholicism & the charismatic renewal. (about)..  Brownsville churches: Christ the King / Immaculate Conception Cathedral (ICC) / Sacred Heart (ICC mission) / St. Luke…  Cause of Jesus matters (audio)…  Charismatic Mass…  Christ the King…  Christianity is not for soloists…  Community doesn’t look the same for everyone / gift of witness / having the right intention…  Corpus Christi diocese: Bishop Michael Mulveycathedral…  Cultivating community all year long…  Divine Mercy: video / website…  Lessons from a monastery: Building a Christian community…  Pray more novenas…  Sisters of St. Benedict (IN): Monday messages / prayer requests / storiesvirtual tour / ways of prayingwebsite…  St. Anne: about / devotion / grace / life / novena / patroness of Detroit / prayer (more) / shrine with a relic (more)…  Sts. Anne & Joaquim: grandparents of Jesus / July 26 / Mary’s parents / memorial / more…  Ten things Pope Francis wants you to know about evangelization…  Who are you…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Connected tangents…  Easter surprises…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Noon visit…  Our Lady’s church…  Prayer and praise…  Soulful…  Two angels

Marian devotions

SJC122610-53Last week Steven surprised me with two prayer cards from the Lovely Ning that Sam had dropped off at the office so, of course, I emailed an exuberant thanks that evening.

Covenant day*

Ning emailed the following day to say that she and her friends had visited the Schoenstatt shrine in Rockport.

Just in case you’ve never been there, I do suggest that you and Steve go there.  It’s a miraculous place from what I’ve heard, and it’s true coz I got my miracle when I went there the first time with Sam.  They celebrate a covenant day every 18th of the month.


I’ve known about the Virgin of Schoenstatt ever since mom first told me about the Sisters and the shrine.  I have no idea when or how she and my stepfather first learned about the place, but they often stopped to visit and bought prayer booklets for family and friends back home in the Valley.

Then, sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s, mom lit the fire under the other altar society ladies at Christ the King Church when she offered to drive the group to the shrine.  The ladies enjoyed themselves so much that they made the trek a regular outing.  To hear mom tell the story, the ladies couldn’t stop talking about the beautiful little shrine.  It was such a big deal that a photo of the Virgin of Schoenstatt continues to be displayed in the church foyer despite changes in the building over time.

Mom was very devoted to the Virgin of Schoenstatt, but I just couldn’t relate.  Although I carried the prayer booklet with me and read the literature daily for a long time, the devotion wasn’t for me.  Still, mom insisted that she’d take me to “the little church” one day even if I didn’t want to go!

Two promises, two visits

In the fall 1995, I’d been laid up in bed for six to eight weeks so, of course, mom promised that, as soon as I got better, she and my stepfather would take me to see the Virgin of Schoenstatt.

But why did I have to go when I hadn’t promised anything?

Never mind that I endured serious bouts of carsickness.  Mom got her wish anyway— not that she needed an excuse to visit the shrine— and she was quite pleased with herself for having fulfilled the promise.

Then, in the spring 2004, when I was having major cows with the second semester of research ’cause I was working at school way, way, way too much to have time to focus clearly on the semester project, one of my cohort buddies who also felt challenged beyond the breaking point promised the same thing.

“If we make it through Dr. Weber’s course this semester, I’m taking you to the Schoenstatt shrine in Rockport,” Becky insisted.

“But why do I have to go with you?” I asked.  “I didn’t make the promise.”

Yet, there we were— Becky, her daughter, and me with my carsickness— on our way to Rockport; and Becky didn’t even know where the shrine was!

Oh, my gosh.  The torture of it all.  But we found the place, finally, and that was that.

Familiar yet out of sight

Aside from the framed picture of the Virgin of Schoenstatt at mom’s church, I hadn’t seen one displayed elsewhere.  Then one morning after Mass at our old St. Joseph Church, I happened to notice the picture (shown here) hung on the back wall in the musicians’ nook.

After our new church was dedicated I saw the picture propped up against a wall in the foyer, as if waiting to be hung, but it isn’t in the public eye anymore.

Maybe the devotion wasn’t popular to begin with?

Still, it’s not uncommon to showcase pictures and/or statues of saints that don’t have an active following within the parish.

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Marian devotions

In retrospect, I’ve sampled the Schoenstatt experience through mom, Becky, and now Ning; and I still have my prayer booklet even though I haven’t read it in many years.

I think that each person’s devotion to Our Lady is as uniquely different as each person’s relationship with her.  For this reason, it’s only natural to embrace the devotions to the Blessed Mother as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and/or however one’s come to know her best.

For instance, my first recollections of Our Lady stem from when I was just a child of four or five.

Sitting next to mom at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Brownsville, I noticed the very beautiful lady up high for the very first time and started singing about a little red rooster.  Mom pinched me hard on the arm— “Ssssh!!!”— so I sat there quietly gazing at the lady in green until mom finished praying.

Of course, I was also taken with Mary in blue at the Catholic school across the street from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.  She was the first person I saw every morning (as I entered the building to walk to my first-grade classroom and then as I opened the side door to church for daily Mass) so blue comes to mind when I string my Franciscan Crowns with Mary’s miraculous medals, even though green is my favorite color.

Looking back, my relationship with Our Lady was influenced not by words and deeds, but by place.  There’s something so very special about walking into Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and sensing a strong familial bond.  (Mom, dad, and I attended Mass there.)  Similarly, I feel very much at home at Immaculate Conception.  Yet the cathedral— my “heart of hearts,” my favorite sacred space— is a far greater spiritual connection to the Blessed Mother: I became part of that church community on my own through my Catholic school experience.

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Evolving spirituality

Sorting through my stash of prayer cards and more in my Christmas box yesterday I realized something.

Over the years I’ve collected so many keepsakes that, unless I explore my treasure box from time to time, I forget what I have.  Yet my spirituality continues to evolve nonetheless as I work, read, pray, and go through the day dialoguing with God.

So, I think that devotional practices can be powerful tools that help us become proactively engaged, just as Ning’s thoughtful gift was a personal invitation to share the Schoenstatt experience with others.


Sub tuum praesidium…  We fly to your protection, O holy Mother of God.  Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.


Contact information…  Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary – 130 Front Street Rockport, TX 78382-7800: calendar of events / contact & directions / home page

*Covenant day celebration…  10 A.M. Adoration (shrine) / 10:30 A.M. Mass / 11:30 A.M. sack lunch / 1 P.M. Benediction (shrine)

General events…  Daily Masses at the Provincial House: Monday – Saturday, 6:45 A.M. & Sunday, 10 A.M

August 2, 2011

You can make a difference.  You can tell people about the love of God.  You can even help some of them to become fishers of men, spreading the net of Christianity even farther.  There are opportunities everywhere….  All you have to do is tell your story; the Holy Spirit will give you the right words (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 49).

July 3, 2013

Lord Jesus, I treasure the faith you have placed in my heart.  Though I don’t see you, still, I believe.  Help me to tell everyone around me that you are alive.  Use my words and my witness to speak to their hearts, just as you have spoken to mine (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 22).

July 30, 2013

Thank you, Lord, for loving me!  Help me to extend your love to everyone I meet.  Today, please send me to at least one person who needs you in their life (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 49).

September 13, 2013

Lord, I am amazed that you have called me to share your good news.  By your spirit, fill me with confidence and courage to be your ambassador (the Word among us, September 2013, p. 32).

November 30, 2015

“But the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe” (Deuteronomy 30:14).

April 4, 2017

Speaking about God and bringing the message of God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ to men is the duty of all the baptized.  And this duty involves not only speaking with words, but in all one’s actions and way of doing things.  Our whole being should speak of God, even in the ordinary things.  In this way witness is authentic, and thus shall it always be new and fresh in the power of the Holy Spirit (Pope Francis in The Spirit of Saint Francis).


Schoenstatt Chapel – Lamar, TX

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Adoration Chapel – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church – Corpus Christi, TX


Links of interest…  Apostolic movement…  Blessed Virgin Mary, untier of knots…  Catholic devotions: A spiritual vocabulary…  Christ the King Church: facebook / Mass times…  Father Joseph Kentenich…  Fifteen steps to better evangelization…  Five signs of a true devotion to Mary…  Fr. Joseph Kentenich: founder of the Schoenstatt Movement & friend of the rosary…  Good habits…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral: diocesan website / parishes online…  Marian devotions (fivehope) / finding true selfmoms share…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church…  Pope Francis: Evangelization is about knowing the human heart…  Schoenstatt shrine: founder / jubilee / movement / news / novena (Spanish) / photos / prayers / rosary campaignshrine (Rockport) …  Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary…  Sub tuum praesidium: ancient prayer to Mary in times of persecution / oldest known Marian prayer is from Egypt…  Understanding what it means to be devout…  Why Mary always wears blue…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Familiar yet new…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lourdes novenas…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s Church…  Repeated prayers…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful