Forever grateful

One of my all-time wishes came true this year.  On April 29, Steven took me to the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago; and I made three discoveries: The shrine is actually part of St. Pius V, the church altar changed since I was last there, and St. Jude’s first-class relic is on display.

First visit

I’d never been to Chicago until Christmas break from school, 2003.

The second of our two granddaughters had been dismissed from the hospital just hours before my arrival.  Kylie was so small compared to her older sister at that age that her tiny fingers reminded me of a doll’s hands.  Yet she was alert, observant, communicative in her own quiet way, and beautiful.  Riding in her car seat beside me she focused on me as if she’d known me from birth, October 29, 2003; but we were seeing each other for the very first time.

Acacia-Darling was nine-and-a-half, so I hadn’t been around a little one in some time.  I’d forgotten how resilient babies are, that one can change their diapers without breaking them, and that they’re up at all hours of the night just because.  Yet I managed to care for Kylie at night and spent a lot of time being grateful for the opportunity to hold this very special promise of hope for the future.

Then, two nights before my departure to Texas, Kylie wailed so inconsolably for such a long time that she was taken to the hospital again.

I felt terrible when her parents returned home without her in the morning.  Concerned that I wouldn’t be there to take care of her at the hospital, I’d felt compelled to do something.

“Take me to the nearest church, preferably one dedicated to St. Jude,” I told Kylie’s parents.  I’d attended Mass at two different churches in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago but wanted one where I’d feel super close to St. Jude.  I’d never been in Chicago before, but I suddenly remembered the shrine.  “Take me to the St. Jude shrine,” I’d insisted, even though none of us knew where it was.

And what a place!

I knew I was home when I saw the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague.  I walked around and dialogued with God.  I knew everything would be all right with Kylie, that we’d get good news when we got back to the hospital.

As things turned out, Kylie spent another two weeks at the hospital.  Quite an agonizing time for me, being that I couldn’t be there to sing, tell her stories, or try to distract her from the constant pain.  To make matters worse, she was hospitalized a third time, although, thankfully, for just one week.  But she’s fine now, this precious, resilient child with the strong, operatic voice and the golden brown, flyaway macaroni hair.

Which shrine?

After my visit to Chicago I continued to receive separate mailings from both the National Shrine of St. Jude and the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, but I never made the distinction between the two.  I never stopped to wonder which of the two shrines I’d visited.  All that mattered was that I’d prayed at the shrine and St. Jude had worked his wonders on Kylie’s behalf, the same as always for my kids.

However, on October 24, 2009, the reality of the two St. Jude shrines came to light when I posted Kylie’s story on my blog.  I wanted to include the link to the shrine’s website so that interested others could access the site but—  Uh-oh.  Which of the two shrines did I visit?  How could I have missed the name of the church?  How could I have been so oblivious all those years?

I wondered if I’d taken photos that I could compare to those posted online.  I vaguely recalled taking a few but found none.  Maybe I’d imagined doing that?  Still, I was sure of one thing: I’d seen the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague in the back of the church that morning.

After problem solving for a while, I emailed the Dominicans.  Then, after waiting a few days, I contacted the Claretians at the national shrine.

Friday, November 27, 2009 11:11 AM


I’d like to know, please, which of the two Chicago shrines to St. Jude has an encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague?

Thanks sooo much!

Mystery solved

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 9:21 AM

Dear Deli,

Thank you for your email, [as] the Claretians are always grateful to hear from you who share our devotion to St. Jude.

The encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague is not at the National Shrine of St. Jude.

None of the St. Jude Shrines in the United States are affiliated with each other.  The National Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago, Illinois, founded by the Claretians, is the only St. Jude Shrine with the title “National Shrine” since it is the original or “Mother” Shrine of devotion to St. Jude in the United States.

I encourage you to visit the National Shrine of St. Jude website again soon.  Please know that the Claretians pray with and for you each day.  May God bless you.

Father Mark Brummel, C.M.F.
Director, St. Jude League

I was so excited that I told Steven, “I don’t know when or how, but one of these days I’m going back to the Dominican shrine.  I want to sit and visit for a while and take lots of photos.  I want to see the Infant again.”

Sneak peek

On November 16, 2011, I had my wish.  Well, sort of.

In my search for photos of St. Thérèse, I found a double-bagged stash of two dozen photo packets hidden in one of the closets.  Among them?  The photos from our morning visit to the shrine, January 5, 2004.

How I longed to be there!



Second visit

Almost eight-and-a-half years passed between visits to Chicago, but what a glorious experience at St. Pius V the second time around!

Nine-fifteen Spanish Mass was extraordinary!  The singing was uplifting!  The babies offered up to God, literally, along with the gifts at the altar had us near tears!  And, oh, the devotions!

To get a better view of everything, especially the shrines of the Holy Infant, St. Jude, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, respectively, we sat along the back left center aisle, which is how I noticed something puzzling.

My big surprise

During Mass the practice of approaching St. Jude’s shrine and praying for a few moments before stepping up onto the alcove intrigued me even though no one else seemed to notice.  What were these folks doing standing to the right of the altar?  Why was it so important that it couldn’t wait until after Mass?

These individuals pressed their hands up to something as they stood heads bowed, lost in thought.  Why?  What was so special about that wall?

I turned to Steven and whispered, “I keep seeing people go up to touch the shrine’s right wall.  I have to know what’s there!  While I take photos of the church after Mass, please check it out and tell me.”

Well, surprise, surprise.

My first time at the church I’d missed one of the very best parts: the first-class relic at the shrine.  The remains of St. Jude’s arm!  Oh, my gosh!  Had it not been for St. Jude’s faithful during Mass I would’ve missed seeing the relic for the second time, and I never would’ve known any better.  Wow!

At that moment I thought of Kylie…  My first time at St. Pius V, I walked around the church as I prayed to God and all his angels and saints.  I stood, tears in check, before St. Jude— my daughter and her husband, nonbelievers, watching my every move, hurrying me wordlessly.  I never saw the sign at the altar with the arrow pointing to the arm relic of St. Jude Thaddeus on the right.

I’d been so desperate for Kylie’s miracle that just being near St. Jude had been good enough.  But I’d also found comfort in seeing the Holy Infant, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Anthony, St. Thérèse, St. Anne, and San Martin de Porres.




Forever grateful

Until our second visit to the shrine I’d never realized that I’ve had my very own, very personal connections to St. Pius V through St. Jude because of the kids and grandkids.

Kylie’s story transcends time, place, and emotion.  Just remembering makes my eyes water and, before long, rivers stream down my face.  What parent wants a child to hurt?  I would gladly have traded places with Kylie, but all I could do was pray— and walk in faith— that her suffering would be short-lived and that she’d never have to endure such misery again.

Acacia-Darling, now eighteen, has a green candle lit among the many at the massive round table before St Jude.

Enjoy God’s infinite blessings!  Love, hope, & faith… Lon

Yet our children are estranged from us, so we keep them close in thought and prayer.  One day things may change.  But, until then, the St. Jude shrine at St. Pius V keeps our hope for better days vibrantly alive.

We have so much to be grateful for!  Our family.  Our friends.  Folks we meet here and there.  Our faith.  Building community within God’s kingdom is what life is all about.

We give thanks and praise to God for all our comings and goings, and we’re forever grateful to St. Jude for all his intercessions.

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Plaque at the shrine

Relic of St. Jude Thaddeus…  Apostle and martyr, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, patron of hopeless causes

This holy relic is that of an arm of the great St. Jude.  Many spiritual blessings and graces have been granted to those who have prayed asking St. Jude to intercede on their behalf to our blessed Lord for spiritual or physical healing.

“Where there is prayer, there is hope.”  St. Jude, pray for us.

History of the relic…  After his martyrdom, the body of St. Jude was buried temporarily in Mesopotamia and then given a permanent interment in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the other apostles.  His forearm was encased in a silver reliquary and located for many centuries in Armenia.  At the beginning of the 18th century, Armenian Dominican missionaries left Armenia because of the Moslem persecution and brought the relic to Smyrna, Turkey.

The relic was then given to the Provincial of the St. Peter Martyr Province of Turin, Italy.  In 1949, it was presented to the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great for its Dominican Shrine of St. Pius V where the devotion of St. Jude was flourishing, particularly since the time of the Great Depression.

This plaque has been given as a personal testimony from a patron of
St. Jude whose family has received marvelous healing through this relic.


For peace…  Dear St. Jude, we honor you as an apostle of Christ, a herald of the prince of peace.  You remained faithful to your calling and died a martyr before being reunited with Christ in glory.

Please look down with compassion upon our turbulent world.  Intercede before the throne of grace that the present global turmoil may give way to peace and harmony among all nations.

May we live at peace with one another and serve the Lord Jesus as messengers of his peace as you did.  Amen.

St. Jude, disciple of Jesus, pray for us.  May we become the persons our savior wants us to be.

St. Jude, reigning with Christ in glory, pray for us.  May we bring forth fruit to life everlasting.

St. Jude, advocate of hopeless cases, pray for us.  Remind us that we can conquer evil through Christ who loves us.

For tomorrow…  St. Jude, you are with me in all that is new.  May your path of hope be mine in the days ahead.

I promise in faith to share your hope with others, to forgive as I am forgiven by my Father in heaven, and to show sympathy and kindness at every opportunity.

Guide me, St. Jude, so that I will begin each new day with gratitude on my lips, with truth on my mind, and with hope in my heart.

Challenge me, St. Jude, so that I will end each day reflecting on my actions and motivations so that I will grow in faith, love, and hope.  Amen.

Hopeless cases…  Most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of hopeless cases….  Pray for me; I am so helpless and alone.  Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of.

Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly… and that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.

I promise, O blessed Saint Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to honor you always as my special and powerful patron and, gratefully, to encourage devotion to you.  Amen.

SPV61513-96Impossible cases…  Glorious Saint Jude, with faith in your goodness we ask your help today.  As one of Christ’s chosen apostles, you remain a pillar and foundation of his church on earth.  You are counted, we know, among the elders who always stand before God’s throne.

From your place of glory we know that you do not forget the needs and difficulties of Christ’s little ones here, still struggling, like me on the way home to God.  In particular, I invoke your help with this great problem….  Please intercede for us, gracious Saint Jude, and be with us in our daily toil and in all our necessities.  Amen.

Sharing Christ with others…  St. Jude, apostle and preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ, we thank God for choosing you for this glorious mission.  You saw Jesus face to face, walked and talked with him, and served him without counting the cost.

Pray for us, blessed preacher of the good news that makes even bad news bearable.  May Christ be the center of our lives.  May we welcome every opportunity to share him with others.  This we ask through your powerful intercession.  Amen.

Contact information

St. Jude prayers one and five are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.  Prayer two is from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, P.O. Box 8095, Chicago, IL 60608-0095.  Prayers three and four are from Favorite Patron Saints (The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., pp. 20-21).

July 23, 2013

Lord Jesus, thank you for reaching out your hand to me.  I offer my hands to you.  Use them to reach out to my spiritual family (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 42).

November 16, 2013

Father, in your great kindness you have made me your child.  You know the desires of my heart, and you know what’s best for me and for those I love.  Hear my prayer.  Show me what I can do to bring your kingdom into clearer focus in this situation (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 37).

December 17, 2013

Father, I am amazed that you have called me into your family.  I trust that you have a gracious plan for my life and my family, even if I can’t see it right now.  Lord, I trust in you! (the Word among us, Advent 2013, p. 35).

March 7, 2014

“Stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you” (St. Perpetua).

June 11, 2014

“If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes” (St. Clement of Alexandria).

August 17, 2015

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

November 2, 2015

“The saints assure us that turning to the Lord in our sorrows and placing our hopes in him can give us strength here and now and help prepare us for a future of new life and joy” (Fr. Joseph Esper in More Saintly Solutions).

January 7, 2016

“May the God of love and peace set your heart at rest” (St. Raymond of Peñafort).

August 10, 2016

“Those are patient who would rather bear evils without inflicting them, than inflict them without bearing them” (St. Augustine).

November 26, 2016

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins” (Neale Donald).

March 14, 2017

My hope is not that things will go as I planned, but that the Lord will make himself known, in the faces of my loved ones, in the unexpected joys of family life that pop up right in the middle of our messy chaos, in the ways he provides for me and shows me his tender care in the most detailed ways (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).

May 7, 2017

There is no closer bond than the one which gratefulness celebrates, the bond between giver and thanksgiver.  Everything is a gift.  Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless “yes” to belonging (Brother David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

October 17, 2017

“The loneliness that comes from being hated is one thing, but the loneliness that comes from being misunderstood and dismissed is worse” (Anna O’Neil).

Links of interest…  Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus…  How to pray for your adult children…  Lessons from the reform papacy of St. Pius V (more)…  Love gives suffering reason & purpose…  Pope to Dominicans: Your good works give glory to God…  Praying while waiting…  Sacred Chicago…  St. Jude: chaplet (printable; photo) / novenas (in Spanish, too) / prayers…  St. Pius V: about / parish / resources

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Connected tangents…  Finding St. Rita…  Holy Cross Church…  Lady of Sorrows…  October novena…  One prayer…  Prayer power…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena (Dominican)…  St. Jude shrine: Chicago (Claretian) & Corpus Christi…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelfth

Holy Cross Church

On August 27, our good buddy, Cammie, sent a tantalizing morsel my way.

I had an interesting day yesterday.  Mom and I attended Mass at Holy Cross in Corpus Christi for the very first time, since that’s where one of our former priests now resides.  What a fabulous experience!  The church is small but very old with the most beautiful features, including dark-skinned angels!  And the music!  The choir was jazzy, upbeat, and very uplifting!  Sister Katharine Drexel, who was later sainted, formed that church specifically for people of color!  It was awesome, so I recommend that you visit there sometime!  The church is located at 1109 North Staples (on the other side of the freeway).  Oh, and they sell tacos and menudo in the parish hall after Mass!

I copied Steven on my response to Cammie, so he checked Parishes Online and sent me the link to Holy Cross Church.  We agreed on Sunday Mass at ten o’clock.

Lasting impressions

On our way to the front entrance of the church, we met Father Arul Mathias and Sister Emiliana on the grounds between the parish hall and the side entrance to the church.  Both were all smiles, very genuine.  They graciously welcomed us as if receiving us into their home.  In the few minutes we conversed we learned not only that Father Mathias enjoys listening to Father Xaviour’s homilies on our church blog, but also that he and Sister, like our parish priest, are from India.



St. Katharine Drexel

After Mass Father Mathias went looking for us, so we could talk a little more before he left to celebrate Mass elsewhere at noon.  Since I was taking photos, he spoke with Steven until he could get my attention.  Father wanted to invite us again to go by the parish hall for breakfast, but he also wanted to tell me about St. Katharine Drexel.

We walked to the back of the church… or the entrance, depending on whether one’s going in or out… as Father pointed to the large painting of St. Katharine on the back wall opposite the confessional.



“St. Katharine Drexel is responsible for having selected the property on which the church is located,” Father Mathias began.  “She sent sizable contributions so that the church could be built for the people of color in the area, so this church has been here almost one-hundred years.”

“I heard you say during Mass that St. Katharine Drexel had ‘set foot in this very church,’ and I wanted to know more.  Thank you for sharing the rest of the story now!  I read about her in the Word among us not too long ago.”

Lovely surprise

Holy Cross Church celebrated its first Mass in 1914.  The altar is beautifully adorned with statues, which is something I look for in a church; but I love that the Holy Infant of Prague is prominently displayed on the back altar.  I’d never seen the Holy Infant venerated like that before.  Of course, some churches… Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague, Czech Republic and others in Texas: Sacred Heart Church in Brownsville, St. Paul the Apostle Church in Flour Bluff, and Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Corpus Christi… showcase the Infant on a pedestal near the altar or in his own alcove or shrine, but at Holy Cross he’s in full view!

Holy Cross Church

Truly, the church is a veritable gem!  Historic, faith-based, unique.  I only wish that we’d discovered it years back, so we could’ve enjoyed it sooner.



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Child Jesus chaplet…
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.

Holy cross…  Lord Jesus, from the height of your throne of suffering you reveal the depth of your love for us.  Lifted up from the world on the cross, you draw everyone to yourself.   The cross is both the symbol and the act by which you raised up the world from all its sin and weakness.  But you also ask for our cooperation.  Help us to die to self so that we may live for you and our fellow human beings.  Set us free from the slavery of our passions, our prejudices, and our selfishness.  Enable us to endure the pains and trials of this life and really help to change the world in our own small way.  Keep before our minds the conviction that in the cross is salvation and life as well as defense against our enemies.  Through the cross heavenly grace is given us, our minds are strengthened, and we experience spiritual joy.  In the cross is the height of virtue and the perfection of all sanctity.  Let us take up our cross and follow you through earthly sorrow into eternal happiness in heaven.  Amen.

Jesus on the cross…  O Jesus, how many ages have you been on the cross and yet people pass by in utter disregard of you except to pierce… your sacred heart?  How often have I passed you by, heedless of your overwhelming sorrow, your countless wounds, your infinite love?  How often have I stood before you not to comfort or console you, but to offend you with my conduct or neglect of you, to scorn your love?

You have stretched out your hands to comfort me, [and] you have loved me [infinitely].  Yet I [take] advantage of that love to sin all the more against you….  My ingratitude has only succeeded in piercing your sacred heart and causing your precious blood to flow forth upon me.

O Jesus, let your blood be not a curse, but a blessing.  Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.  Amen.

Most humble San Martin de Porres…  Your burning charity embraced not only the needy brethren, but also the very animals of the field.  Splendid example of charity, we hail you and invoke you!

From that high throne which you occupy, listen to the supplications of your needy brethren so that, by imitating your virtues, we may live contentedly in that state in which God has placed us.  And, carrying our cross with strength and courage, may we follow in the footsteps of our blessed redeemer and his most afflicted mother so that, at last, we may reach the kingdom of heaven through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

O blessed Martin, ask our Lord and his blessed mother to give us the grace of true humility that we may overcome any foolish pride and always be content with the gifts that God gives us.  Obtain for us the light of the Holy Spirit that we may understand, as you did, that pride is a deceit of the devil and that only by doing the will of God can we be really happy.

O blessed Martin, why are our hearts so cold and lacking in love for the son of God who became a little child for our salvation?  Why are we so slow to love the one who loved us so much that he gave his life for our salvation?  Ask God and our Lady of Sorrows to make us realize that the only way to happiness is by loving and serving God, heart and soul.

O blessed Martin, may we learn from you how to be courageous and valiant.  From your life may we learn to avoid idleness and self-seeking.  Obtain for us some of that spirit of penance which you had so that we may be brave in our struggles with temptations.  Ask Jesus Crucified to give us the grace to be victorious in our struggle for salvation.  Amen.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me!  Strengthen me under the pressure of temptation.  Strengthen me when principle is at stake.  Strengthen me to do your will, my God.  Strengthen me in moments of suffering, in times of loneliness, in periods of depression.  Strengthen me that I may never swerve from you, dear Christ, nor weaken through human respect through a desire to be popular, through hope of social distinction.  Strengthen me to accept my cross and carry it generously to the end.  On the battlefield of life, stand by me that I may never prove a traitor in the ranks.  Stand by me that I may not be dazzled by the glitter and glow of the enemy camp.  Amen.

November 3, 2014

Compassion, my dear brother, is preferable to cleanliness.  Reflect that, with a little soap, I can easily clean my bed covers; but, even with a torrent of tears, I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create (St. Martin de Porres).

March 3, 2015

“The patient and humble endurance of the cross— whatever nature it may be— is the highest work we have to do” (St. Katharine Drexel).

September 9, 2015

“Man’s salvation and perfection consists of doing the will of God which he must have in view in all things and at every moment of his life” (St. Peter Claver).

March 3, 2016

“If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to him and them” (St. Katharine Drexel).

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Links of interest…  Catholic prayers…  Come pray the rosary…  Holy Cross Church: aboutdiocese page / online photosparishes online / prayerwebsite…  Holy Infant of Prague…  National Black Catholic Congress…  Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
St. Katharine Drexel: about / biography / book / card / life / miracles / national shrine / novena / patron saint / prayer…  St. Martin de Porres: about / biography / book / brother to his brothersfacts / feast (Nov. 3) / novena / patron (YouTube) / prayers / saint of the broom / who is…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotions / download / fish eaters / for families / for kids / how to do / meditations / origins / prayers (video/music) / printables / puppet show (YouTube) / scriptural (audio) / significance / way of the cross…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Forever grateful…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten reflections…  Noon visit…  Oh, happy day!
On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Santo Niño…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret