Lenten reflections

Last Sunday we had another golden opportunity to attend eleven o’clock Mass at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff.

I told Steven that I intended to take photos afterwards, since the stained- glass windows are particularly dramatic when the sun brightens the otherwise unlit sacred space.

St. Paul the Apostle Church

We were active parishioners at
St. Paul’s for two-and-a-half years before returning to our home parish here at St. Joseph’s.  Still, we continue to be drawn there for a number of reasons.

Regardless of the time that passes between visits, we’re always welcomed with smiles and hugs as if we’d never left.  We continue to be an integral part of our Why Catholic? family.  We’re also invited to participate in special Masses, prayer meetings, pilgrim rosaries, and— three days this week— the Lenten mission.

Still, what initially beckoned years ago is what tugs at my heartstrings most of all.

St. Paul’s devotion to the Holy Infant of Prague.

Moreover, as recently as two Sundays ago I discovered yet another reason for the church being so uniquely special.

The stained-glass windows are St. Paul’s stations of the cross!

Lenten reflections

Originating in Jerusalem in the fourth century, these Lenten reflections are more than a permanent visual journey with Jesus through the most harrowing time of his life.  These depictions— when we make the time to look, ponder, and truly internalize— are a constant reminder of the crosses that we, too, must proactively engage as we make our way (back) to God.

What matters most in the stations of the cross is to follow Jesus Christ in his passion and to see ourselves mirrored in him.  To face life’s dark side in ourselves and in our world, we need images of hope; and Jesus offers images of hope in his passion.  By accompanying him on the way of the cross, we gain his courageous patience and learn to trust in God who delivers us from evil (Passionist Missionaries, 2002).







Before the crucifix…  Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart.  Give me, Lord, a correct faith; a certain hope; a perfect charity, sense, and knowledge that I may carry out your holy and true command.

Holy cross…  We adore your most holy cross, Lord Jesus, for it is the sign of your love.

Through the power of your most precious blood, cleanse us from all our sins and protect us from every Satanic influence.  May a river of peace and reconciliation flow from this place into the parish community, into the Church and into the entire world.  Bless and call into heaven all those who have built this cross.  Bless all those who have prayed before this cross and those who will pray before it, for they are listening to Mary, your mother, who is calling us to pray before the cross because many graces are coming from it.

Be blessed, O Jesus, for by your holy cross you have redeemed us for eternal life.  Amen.   

Jesus Christ crucified…  My good and dear Jesus, I kneel before you, asking you most earnestly to engrave upon my heart a deep and lively faith, hope, and charity with true repentance for my sins and a firm resolve to make amends.

As I reflect upon your five wounds and dwell upon them with deep compassion and grief, I recall, good Jesus, the words the prophet David spoke long ago concerning you: “They have pierced my hands and my feet; they have counted all my bones.”

April 15, 2014

“The remembrance of the most holy passion of Jesus Christ is the door through which the soul enters into intimate union with God, interior recollection, and most sublime contemplation” (St. Paul of the Cross).

September 14, 2014

The glory of the cross… has enlightened all those who were blinded by ignorance.  It has set free all those who were slaves of sin.  It has redeemed the whole human race (St. Cyril of Jerusalem).

March 31, 2015

We must not let our hearts be hardened.  Let us make Calvary echo with the sound of our sobbing.  Let us weep bitter tears for our sins and turn against ourselves with a holy anger.  Let us break all our unworthy habits and leave behind our worldly lives.  Let us carry in ourselves the death of Jesus Christ (Bishop Jacques-Benigne Boussuet, 1627-1704).

April 3, 2015

In the cross we see that Jesus Christ is the victorious Lord” (Fr. Robert Barron).

October 17, 2015

He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest.  He who rose for our sake is my one desire (St. Ignatius of Antioch).


Links of interest…  5 reasons you should love (not hate) St. Paul…  His heart was pierced for us…  Holy Week: 1st four days / Triduum…  Lent as a moving experience / Christ’s thirst for us…  Meditations for Lent…  Origin of the wood of the cross…  Pilate said to him…  Prayer before the cross / a crucifix…  Praying Lent…  Resurrection (YouTube)…  St. Francis…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / parishes online / website…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotions / fish eaters / for families / for kids / how to do / origins / prayers / printables / puppet show (YouTube) / significance / way of the cross…  Were women at the Last Supper…  Why churches have stained glass windows…  Word on Fire (Fr. Barron)…

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Beloved joyful priest…  Concrete abstraction…  Connected tangents…  Dear God…  Growing pains…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten resources…  Prayerful ways…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Seven dwelling places…  Simple yet profound…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret

Goliad chapels revisited

I’ve always enjoyed visiting Goliad, especially when the weather’s good and the company’s exceptional.

On March 20, Virginia, Gene, and their beloved granddaughter, Juju, accompanied us to the TX Tropical Trail Region outing in Goliad, which is part of the TX Independence Trail Region.

On the agenda, of course, was the Presidio La Bahia, which I’ve visited many times since seventh grade.  Then, after lunch, we explored Goliad State Park, another of my longtime faves, on our own.

Presidio Nuestra Señora de Loreto de la Bahia

During our visit, I learned two things about the chapel’s altar: The mural was painted by a local artist in 1946; and “the doll,” whose garments change to reflect the church season, is more than three-hundred years old.  Additionally, the presidio has been renovated since we were last there three years ago.







Mission Nuestra Señora del Espiritu Santo de Zuñiga







Links of interest…  Goliad: 250th birthday bash / about / attractions / history / massacre reenactment (video) / Palm Sunday, 1836 / tourism / video (YouTube)…  Goliad State Park: about / mission / official video (YouTube) / photos / state park…  Presidio La Bahia: about / award / brief look (YouTube) / facebook / fort tour / history / landmark…  Our Lady of Loreto Chapel: historic mission / national park / photo album (more) / quarters / restored / South TX site / Spanish mission / two videos (YouTube) / website
…  Texas: day by day / highways (more) / parks & wildlife

WP posts…  Dunes chapel…  Dunes chapel redux…  Elvis moment…  In the pink…  Memory lane…  Painted churches…  Prayers and blessings…  St. Peregrine relic…  Stella Maris…  The third charm…  Two chapels

Elvis moment

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March third, my UH buddy, Paty, and her longtime friend, Becky, dropped by for a visit.

Dunes chapel

“Steven would like to give y’all a tour of the town.  Are you game?” I asked.

“Sure!  I’d never heard of Port Aransas until you came here to live.  I’ve visited Corpus Christi many times, but I never imagined this place was here.  Yes, I want to see it!” Paty said with great anticipation.

“And the dunes chapel?” I reminded Steven.

“What’s that?” asked Paty.

“You’ll see,” I teased.

Priceless moment

Of course, our afternoon adventure became quite memorable when Becky made an unexpected discovery.

“I see Elvis!” Becky exclaimed.

“Where?” Paty asked.

“There!  On the ceiling!” pointed Becky.  “Don’t you see him?”

We burst out laughing

The dunes chapel was built in the 1930s, and Elvis was born in 1935; so I guess it’s possible.

Another sighting

Then again, who knows?

The following day, while Paty and Becky were shopping at the outlet mall in McAllen, Becky sighted Elvis again.

Very funny, Becky.

Links of interest…  Chapel: history / on the dunes…  Moynihan: Days of heaven…  Port Aransas: museum / things to do…   “Two chapels” exhibit (more)…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Dunes chapel…  Dunes chapel redux…  St. Austin Church…  The third charm

San Giuseppe


Perhaps you know a Joseph?  Originally Hebrew, יוֹסֵף (Yosef) means God will increase.

St. Joseph

During the Middle Ages the people of Sicily were starving.  The drought had ruined their crops, so they were desperate for a miracle.

If St. Joseph would save the town from this horrible plight, Sicilians would honor him with altars of food to be shared with everyone, rich and poor alike, they vowed.

Legend has it that at midnight, March 19, their prayers were answered.  The rain restored the land, and the town was spared from the famine.

Table altars

Since then, St. Joseph devotees have set up traditional table altars with all sorts of delicacies— entrees, breads, desserts, and other special delights— perfect for the Lenten season.

Moreover, in Italy, residences that honor St. Joseph display olive branches over the front door to let others know about the table altar within waiting to be shared.



Consecration…  O, my beloved St. Joseph, adopt me as your child, take care of my salvation, watch over me day and night, preserve me from the occasion of sin, and obtain for me purity of soul and body!  Through your intercession with Jesus grant me a spirit of sacrifice, humility, and self-denial; a burning love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; and a sweet, tender love for Mary, my mother.

St. Joseph, be with me living, be with me dying, and obtain for me a favorable judgment from Jesus, my merciful savior.  Amen.

Daily offering…  O blessed St. Joseph, faithful guardian to whom God entrusted Jesus and Mary, I implore you by the love which you did bear them, to preserve me from every defilement of soul and body that I may always serve them in holiness and purity of love.  Amen.

For fathers…  Gracious God, you chose St. Joseph to be the foster father of your beloved son, Jesus, and filled his heart with tender love and great joy.

Bless all fathers with the same tenderness and give them a share in the same joy.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For protection…  Almighty God, who gave to the just man from Nazareth, St. Joseph, the privilege of serving as earthly father to Jesus, your son, through his intercession, watch over our families and guide us in your ways.  May this son of David, in whom the shoot from the stump of Jesse has blossomed, guide your people with care and protect your Church from harm.  United with Mary, his spouse, and Jesus, our Lord, may we be joined forever in the joys of your heavenly kingdom.  Amen.

Because you were the watchful guardian of the holy family, please watch over us, Christ’s chosen offspring.  Like an alert father, kindly keep far from us every taint of error or corruption.  From your place of glory on high, come to aid us in our conflict with the powers of darkness.

V.  St. Joseph, whom the infant Jesus so much loved,
R.  Please grant us what we ask.

Assist us, Lord, by the merits of your foster father, St. Joseph, spouse of your most holy mother.  May his help gain for us what our own efforts cannot.  This we ask through you who live and reign with God the Father in the union of the Holy Spirit, one God, for all the ages.  Amen.

Model for laborers…  Silent carpenter of Nazareth, by the work of your hands you gave your contribution to the work of the Creator.  Your hands earned your living, and you provided for the needs of the Holy Family.  Intercede for all workers in the difficulties of their daily lives.  Be with the unemployed in their anxieties for tomorrow so that, through the guidance of God, they all may use their strength and talents to make visible God’s new creation.  With confidence and trust, we make this prayer through Jesus.  Amen (Marin Brown with Unbound).

Petition…  O blessed St. Joseph, tender-hearted father, faithful guardian of Jesus, chaste spouse of the Mother of God, I pray you join with me in praising God, the Father, through his divine son who died on the cross and rose again to give us sinners new life.  Through the holy name of Jesus pray with me that we may obtain from the eternal Father the favor we ask (state intention).

We have been unfaithful to the unfailing love of God, the Father.  Beg of Jesus mercy for us, his brothers and sisters.  Amid the splendors of God’s loving presence do not forget the sorrows of those who weep.  By your prayers and those of your most holy spouse, our blessed Lady, may the love of Jesus answer our call of confident hope.  Amen.

Request…  To you, blessed Joseph, we come with confidence in this, our hour of need, trusting in your powerful protection.  Your loving service to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and your fatherly affection for the Child Jesus inspire us with faith in the power of your intercession before the throne of God.

We pray, first of all, for the Church, that it may be free from error and corruption and that it be a shining light of universal love and justice.

We ask your intercession for our loved ones in their trials and adversities, that they may be inspired by the love, obedience and affection of the Holy Family and be to each other a mutual source of consolation and Christian fidelity.

We ask your intercession also for our special need (mention desired grace).

Keep us one and all under your protection so that, strengthened by your example and assistance, we may lead a holy life, die a happy death, and come to the possession of everlasting happiness in heaven.  Amen.

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Contact information

The colorful prayer leaflets are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; the brown-colored prayers, from Our Lady of the Rosary Library, 11721 Hidden Creek Road Prospect, KY 40059-9503.

March 19, 2013

Lord, give me the faith of St. Joseph.  Help me hear your words clearly, and give me the courage to respond faithfully to the plan that you have for my life (the Word among us, Lent 2013, p. 58).

March 2, 2014

Everyone must know that, after the Mother of God, St. Joseph is, of all the saints, the one dearest to God.  He has, therefore, great power with him and can obtain graces for his devout clients (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

March 7, 2014

St Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things.  He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life.  That is why scripture praises Joseph as “a just man” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

March 10, 2014

St. Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care.  May he always guard, protect, and enlighten families (Pope John Paul II).

March 19, 2014

He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife.  He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until, at last, God called him saying, “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord (St. Bernardine of Siena).

March 22, 2014

“However many saints you have as your intercessors, be especially devoted to
St. Joseph, who can obtain a great deal from God” (St. Teresa of Avila).

January 10, 2017

A hero is cultivated by countless— often unnoticed— actions.  They are ordinary humans— you and me— who direct their decisions and actions to be strengthened by goodness, compassion, integrity, and righteousness (Bear Woznick in Deep Adventure).

January 22, 2017

“In Joseph… the Lord found a man after his own heart to whom he could safely entrust the most holy and hidden secrets” (St. Bernard).

March 18, 2017

St. Joseph was chosen among all men to be the protector and guardian of the Virgin Mother of God; the defender and foster father of the Infant God; and the only co-operator upon earth, the one confidant of the secret of God in the work of the redemption of mankind (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

March 19, 2017

Let us allow ourselves to be “infected” by St. Joseph’s silence!  We need it greatly, in a world that is often too noisy, that does not favor meditation or listening to the voice of God (Pope Benedict XVI).

March 20, 2017

When you invoke St. Joseph you don’t have to say much.  Say, “If you were in my place, St. Joseph, what would you do?  Well, pray for this on my behalf” (St. André Bessette).

March 27, 2017

Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner have always a devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of the angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Infant Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the services he rendered them then (St. Teresa of Ávila).

May 22, 2017

Almighty God, who gave to the just man from Nazareth, St. Joseph, the privilege of serving as earthly father to Jesus, your son, through his intercession, watch over our families and guide us in your ways.  May this son of David, in whom the shoot from the stump of Jesse has blossomed, guide your people with care and protect your Church from harm.  United with Mary, his spouse, and Jesus, our Lord, may we be joined forever in the joys of your heavenly kingdom (Stephen J. Binz in Saint Junipero Serra’s Camino: A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions).


St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery – Alamo, TX


St. Jude Thaddeus Church – Pharr, TX

Links of interest…  Congregation of St. Joseph…  Father shares ten most important things he learned after losing his three-year-old son…  Guide to holiness: BeDADitudes…  How I made friends with Joseph…  I am Yosef…  Prayer credits: Franciscan Mission Associates (H-77) / St. Joseph helps (blog) / Our Lady of the Rosary Library…  Prayers before workfavorite / consecration / powerful novena (more) / seventhirty-day devotion…  St. Joseph: about / blog / celebration /  dignity of work / feast name / living out Advent / perfect model of fatherhoodprayers / present of absent at the visitation / quick quiz / reasons to love / remembering / saint of the childhood of Jesussolemnity (more – reflection) / staircase / table altars / workshop…  St. Teresa of Avila: St. Joseph, wonder-worker, is waiting to bless you…  Viva San Giuseppe…  What did St. Joseph actually do as a carpenter…  Zeppole: cream puffs / doughnuts / recipe / video (YouTube)…  the Word among us

WP page…  St. Joseph

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Budding relationships…  Christmas blessings…  Dear God…  Faces of Mary…  Gifts…  God’s master plan…  In good time…  Making meaning…  Mourning joy…  Promise of hope…  Sweet Jesus…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Two angels

Faces of Mary

“If you see your child overwhelmed by misfortune, O gracious Virgin Mary, let me find rest in your motherly embrace” (Pope Leo XIII).

Virgin faithful, pray for us.  Teach us to believe as you believed.  Make our faith in God, in Christ, in the Church, always to be serene, courageous, strong, and generous (St. John Paul II).

The heart of this good Mother is all love and mercy.  She desires only to see us happy.  We have only to turn to her to be heard (St. John Vianney).

“When we feel our cross weighing upon us let us have recourse to Mary, whom the Church calls the ‘consoler of the afflicted’” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

We ask you, Our Lady, Mother of God, exalted above the choirs of angels, that you fill the vessel of our hearts with grace; that you make it shine with the gold of wisdom; that you make it resolute with the power of your virtue; that you adorn it with the precious stones of virtue (St. Anthony of Padua).

In Mary Immaculate we contemplate the reflection of the beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God that shines on the face of Christ.  In Mary this beauty is totally pure, humble, free of all pride and presumption (Pope Benedict XVI).

“Mary’s task as Mother of God and mother of humans has always been to lead her human children to her divine son” (Catherine de Hueck Doherty).

[The Blessed Mother] shows us how to live our life of faith.  Let us run to her when the oil of our lamp runs low.  Let us ask her to make our faith flame up so brightly so it outshines all the other flickering lights (St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955).

If you are in danger, if your hearts are confused, turn to Mary.  She is our comfort, our help.  Turn toward her, and you will be saved (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini).

“Always stay close to this heavenly mother because she is the sea to be crossed to reach the shores of eternal splendor” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina).

When we have handled something fragrant, our hands perfume whatever they touch.  Let our prayers pass through the Blessed Virgin’s hands, and she will give them fragrance (St. John Vianney).

O name of Mary!  Joy in the heart, honey in the mouth, melody in the ear of those devoted to her! (St. Anthony of Padua).

“My children, if you desire perseverance, be devout to our Blessed Lady” (St. Philip Neri).



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O Mother, help my children!

This is the petition of my heart, O Mary!

May your blessing accompany them, guard them, defend and encourage them, and carry them everywhere and in all situations.  When they place themselves before the Lord, offering him their prayers and praises, when they present him their needs or implore his mercy,
O Mother, help my children!

When they go to work or to study, when they go from one activity to another, at every movement they make, at every step they take, at every new endeavor, O Mother, help my children!

When they are tested in their virtues and the chalice of suffering is placed before them, when the Divine Mercy wants to purify them through suffering, O Mother, help my children!

When evil powers rage against them and try to seduce them with pleasures, violence, temptations, and bad examples, O Mother, help my children and preserve them from all evil!

When at night they go to rest in order to continue with new strength the next day on their way to the Eternal Land, O Mother, help my children!

May your blessing, Mother mine, descend upon them day and night, in consolation and sadness, at work and at rest, in health and in sickness, in life and in death.  Amen.

May 19, 2014

“The Blessed Virgin is like a good mother who, not content with looking after all her children in general, watches over each one separately” (St. John Vianney).

September 19, 2014

SJC3313-12“In trial or difficulty I have recourse to Mother Mary, whose glance alone is enough to dissipate every fear” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

November 8, 2014

“Mary stands in the presence of her son and never ceases to intercede for sinners” (St. Bede the Venerable).

January 24, 2015

“Let us run to Mary and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence” (St. Francis de Sales).

March 7, 2015

“Most certainly God will not condemn those sinners who have recourse to Mary and for whom she prays, since he himself commended them to her as her children” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

May 31, 2015

How people like to be reminded of their relationship with distinguished figures in literature, in politics, in the army, in the Church….  Sing to the Immaculate Virgin, reminding her: Hail Mary, daughter of God the Father: Hail Mary, Mother of God the Son: Hail Mary, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit….  Greater than you, none but God! (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

June 13, 2015

StM121309-63“If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the heart of Mary for her children” (St. Louis de Montfort).

November 7, 2015

“There is no sinner in the world, however much at enmity with God, who cannot recover God’s grace by recourse to Mary and asking her assistance” (St. Bridget of Sweden).

October 18, 2017

Who is Mary?  Let us say it as simply as it can possibly be said: she is the woman for whom Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Redeemer, became the main purpose of life.  This fact is as simple and at the same time as far beyond all human understanding as is the mystery of our Lord’s Incarnation (Romano Guardini in The Rosary of Our Lady).

June 1, 2020

O Virgin Mary, you are, in truth, God’s best creation.  No one has ever loved Jesus as intimately as you (St. Bridget of Sweden).


Oblate Madonna Residence – San Antonio, TX


Notre Dame Church – Kerrville, TX

Pdf files…  MMM novena prayers (English/Spanish; printable) from CAMM

Links of interest…  Cordero de Dios & Pescador de hombres (mariachis; YouTube)…  Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page / picturingprayers (miracles / more / novena / queen of angels) / untier of knots  Our Lady of Guadalupe: abbey / about / & Advent / arch of triumphfeast (Dec 12) / mother of the Americas / patroness of the Americas / prayers / queen’s guild / shrine / story / videos…  “Santos” exhibit…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Faith and prayer…  Familiar yet new…  Guadalupe Church…  Lady of Sorrows…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Repeated prayers