Sensory overload

BDF2014-1bBDF2014-1aA year since attending Bishop Danny’s annual fundraiser in Weslaco, we made our way to La Sierra Event Center in Harlingen with great anticipation.

Diocesan fundraiser: December 5, 2014

Except for a very memorable first experience, we had no idea what awaited us until we reached the smiling hosts standing beside the check-in table.

BDF2014-1dBaldemar, Jesse, and Rosie graciously interacted with guests, assisted with seating, answered questions, and set the tone for the evening: supporting Bishop Danny’s charities and ministries.

“Be sure to check out the silent and live auction items,” Baldemar smiled.  “And do get some refreshments.”

We followed Jesse to our table, chose our seats, and set off to explore the unknown.

Pretty pinks

Oohing and ahhing over the beautiful items leading to the room in the southeast corner of the hall, I kept my wits about me.  But, sure enough.  Once inside the tiny space, I knew we wouldn’t leave without bidding on something.

“Oh, darling.  Look at these exquisite doilies.  Think of the time spent crocheting them!”

SG12614-134“Hours— or days.”

“More like weeks,” I gently corrected, knowing how long it takes me to sew puppets.  “They’re gorgeous, absolutely priceless.  But who made them?  And what inspired her?  There should be a card.  She must feel so good to have donated her works of art for such a worthy cause.”

I picked up one of the doilies.  Hmm.  Light, heavenly scent!  I wanted to take them home then and there!

“Please make a bid,” I softly insisted before returning to what first caught my eye.

Lovely Lady

Some months back someone used the search term coronita de la virgen de san juan de los lagos on my blog.  Immediately, I knew exactly where the person had gone looking, too.  My “Saturday evening Mass” post.

Father Mathias had substituted at Sacred Heart Church that weekend, so he’d invited us to the five o’clock service.  And he’d shown us a small statue in the confessional that he was puzzled about, until I told him that she was Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos sans crown.

Anyway, because someone had gone looking for the devotion, I’d added the category to the left-hand column to help the reader locate the prayer in the post.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos stayed with me more strongly, so I made a mental note to remember the churches where I’d seen her: Our Lady of Guadalupe in Hebbronville, Sacred Heart in Corpus Christi, and St. Anthony of Padua in Robstown, respectively.

HOLG61609-27                StAP21212-48

Of course, I’d also seen her each time we’d gone to my heart of hearts, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville.  I realized, too, in looking through my photo files that her display changes over time (just like St. Charbel’s ribbons that denote answered prayers and/or miracles).

ICC41413-56    ICC41413-50    ICC101914-84

ICC112714-5    ICC81411-132    ICC22413-124    ICC81411-136

What I didn’t know, however, was how much Our Lady of San Juan had been tugging at my heartstrings.  Until the bishop’s fundraiser, that is.

??????????Even among all those other lovely silent auction items, Our Lady of San Juan’s delicate features stood out.  She seemed to be waiting for me!

“Please,” I told Steven, “please bid on her.”

“How much?”

“Just go for the entire amount.  If someone else wants her, we’ll know they’re serious if they bid beyond.”

“And then what?” asked Steven.

“We’ll play it by ear,” I said calmly though inwardly hopeful that Our Lady would accompany us home that night.

Promises and ribbons

I was really happy with our, um, my two finds.

We could easily have gone to sit and begin the waiting game.  But nooo!  Not the curious person that I am.  We walked across the hall to the live auction items.  And who should I see but someone who’s fascinated me for years, a companion of Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos at the cathedral back home.

There he was in all his finery, bedecked in silver promises and colorful ribbons, so how could I resist?

SG12614-80St. Charbel Makhlouf and I had met some years back the same way Father Casey and I had met, the same way I’ve come across other intriguing souls of the faith.  Online.

Sensory overload

I was totally beside myself to have this likeness of the Lebanese monk so close!  My mind was racing!  Could I pass up having Our Lady of San Juan and
St. Charbel together in our home the way they’re displayed at my heart of hearts?

Never had I imagined the possibility.  Yet here was Golden Opportunity knocking.  Talk about sensory overload.  Oh, my gosh!  I couldn’t contain myself!

Still, I kept thinking, Yes, dear God.  If it is your will that we should be so blessed as to have them both accompany us home, I will be ever so grateful.  To the moon and back, in fact.  If not, then I’ll be just as grateful that someone else wanted them sooo much that they outbid us and helped Bishop Danny’s cause.

I giggled to myself as we made our way back to the table.  I couldn’t believe that we’d found such keepsakes and that they’d beckoned so heartily.  We were in for the time of our lives, and it was so much fun!

Prayers: December 8, 2014

I had two prayers for St. Charbel: the card that the artist had attached to the sculpture and the photo of the framed prayer at the cathedral that I intended to add to this post.  But I don’t have one for Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos, I told God.  Where— how— can I get one?

ICC41413-46        StCharbel-a        StCharbel-b

Steven and I drove to St. Paul’s for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  And, as is my custom before Mass, I rummaged through the wicker basket with the bookmarks and prayer cards in the back of the church on our way in.

Lo and behold, on my fourth or fifth dive to get at the cards at the bottom, I found exactly what I needed— a prayer card to Our Lady of San Juan from— you guessed it— the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle in the Rio Grande Valley.  Wowza!  I was so thrilled that I even shared the story with Steven and Father Pete before Mass.

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Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos

Devotion…  Most holy and immaculate Virgin of San Juan, be our faithful companion on our life’s journey.  We thank you because many have found [your] shrine a place [to] feel at home with you and our brothers and sisters.  Help us to come closer to your son, Jesus, that we may find in him the way of life, which gives meaning to moments of sorrow and happiness in our earthly pilgrimage.

Novena…  Amada Virgen de San Juan de los Lagos, cuídanos de todo mal, acompáñanos en nuestra vida, y libéranos de todo tipo de pecado.  (Haga su petición.)  Doy gracias a Dios y a la virgen de los lagos por el favor concedido.

Rece durante nueve días el rosario.  También se reza la “Coronita de los doce privilegios de la inmaculada madre de Dios.”

BSJ122714s-28Offering…  Our Lady of San Juan, mother of God and mother of the Church, with a sincere heart I offer you this prayer.  In imitation of your union with your divine son, I offer you my daily actions.  Guide me in my work so that my undertakings may be divinely blessed.  Because you are truly a mother to me, I am confident that you will heed these requests, if they serve for the greater glory of God and are spiritually beneficial.

Petición…  María inmaculada y siempre bendita, singular, e incomparable Virgen María, madre de Dios, templo suyo muy agradable, sagrario del Espíritu Santo, puerta de reino de los cielos, por quien después de Dios vive todo el orbe, inclina, madre de misericordia, tus ojos reflujentes a mi, pecador.  Haz, señora, que tus milagros rayos de la luz inclinen y alumbren mi alma; y, si lo que te pido conduce este fin, concédemelo a mayor gloria de Dios y tuya.  Amén.

Request…  We pray that you, most holy and immaculate Virgin of San Juan, guide us throughout our lives.  Please make us mindful of the needs of others and help them through our prayers.  Give us spiritual strength so that we are close to your son, Jesus, and through him may have love and compassion for others.  Grant us peace and happiness.  Amen.

St. Charbel Makhlouf

One…  Lord, infinitely holy and glorified in your saints, you have inspired Charbel, the saint monk to lead the perfect life of a hermit.  We thank you for granting him the blessing and the strength to detach himself from the world so that the heroism of the monastic virtues of poverty, obedience, and chastity could triumph in his hermitage.  We beg you to grant us the grace of loving and serving you following his example.

Almighty God who has manifested the power of St. Charbel’s intercession through his countless miracles and favors, grant us… through his intercession.  Amen.

Our Father….  Hail Mary….  Glory be….

BSJ122714s-26Two…  O God of silence, in stillness your adorable and mysterious Trinity lives, loves and acts.  In the silence of time, your great mysteries have been accomplished.  Blessed is the one who quiets everything within himself and listens to the impelling voice which leads to you.

Charbel heard this voice and closed himself in solitude.  He separated himself from a self-seeking world and spoke with you.

You taught him to deny himself and to die like the grain of wheat.  You asked him to bind himself to you in a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Freed from himself he discovered you, O Lord, embraced the way of the Cross, and filled his spirit with the memory of your son’s passion and death.  The holy mysteries became his life; the Eucharist, his real food; and the mother of God, his consolation.  Day and night he sought you in the scriptures and in the lives of the saints.  Through unending prayer his whole life became a living hymn of praise to you and ended in a sacrifice of love that continues to proclaim your glory.

We beg [your] intercession to inspire us to a life of prayer and sacrifice.  Help us to live lives of quiet dedication to the service of your church forever.  Amen.


Immaculate Conception Cathedral – Brownsville, TX


Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle – San Juan, TX

Links of interest…  Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle: aboutfacebook / gift shop / history (more) / icon / national shrine / parishes online / prayer (Spanish) / prayer card (other) / stationsvideo (YouTube)…  Catholic diocese of Brownsville:  Bishop Daniel E. Flores (2013 – Palm Sunday) / stewardship & development / website…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral (ICC): historical landmarks (#38/39) / national registry / parishes online / website…  Lebanese Christians raise giant statue of St. Charbel & saint who unites Christians & Muslims…  Phoenix mother cured from blindness…  San Juan de los Lagos: about / better known Marian shrinepaintings (more)…  St. Charbel Makhlouf: biography (about – more) / chapletdevotions / last prayer / Lebanese hermit / litanymiracles (more) / monk (more) / movie / novena / prayers / wants to pray for youwho is / wonder-worker…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / parishes online / website

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Clarisas cookies…  Heart of hearts…  Memorable as ever…  Saturday evening Mass…  Slice of heaven