Celebrations

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When Steven and I attended Saturday evening Mass at St. Pius X in Corpus Christi, TX, we got way more than we’d anticipated.

Real meal deal

Before Mass— actually, between the service at five-thirty and ours at seven— I’d wandered around doing my usual thing: taking photos here and there, mostly captivated by the four angels in the portico leading to the church entrance.  So I’d overheard a constant stream of lively conversations among parishioners exiting the earlier Mass and the tall, friendly priest, well-spoken and sincere.  Lots of heartfelt wishes were exchanged along with a rather large gift bag that I later saw the priest carry into church.  But what captivated my listening ear were the “God bless you” sentiments that the shepherd dispensed in the same upbeat tone to each of his sheep.

Walking around with my third eye (Coolpix) certainly has its perks! I kept thinking.  At a time when religious and priests have shortened the message to “God bless”— a pet peeve for sure, since I’ve heard it used as an expletive over the course of my lifetime— I was truly moved not just by the flock, but by the shepherd, too.

I smiled within.  He’s the “real meal deal,” as Fr. Ralph Jones at Stella Maris might say.

Angels and sheep

SPX11616-25Then a voice called me back to earth.  “Those angels are something special, aren’t they?” the priest quipped as he soundlessly passed me by on his way into church.

“Ye—es,” I stuttered, momentarily losing my quiet comfort zone.  I’d been caught red-handed in the proverbial cookie jar!  “Yes they are,” I immediately rebounded, still gazing at the angel with the torch.

The priest had been focused on his flock, reminiscent of “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14).  Yet he’d acknowledged the strange sheep lurking about, feigning invisibility behind the camera lens.  Nice touch.

Celebrations

After Mass concluded but before the procession, a vivacious young woman stepped up to the ambo to deliver the speech she’d prepared.  She giggled; we laughed.  She’d been volunteered to do the honors; but, really, she’d come to the realization that she wanted to do it.  Her exuberance was contagious!

As I listened to the young woman’s anecdotes, I felt as if I’d known Fr. Paul all along.  From my brief time eavesdropping out in the portico, he’d come alive as a down-to-earth shepherd who smells like his sheep.

Talks (below) by the young woman, Fr. Paul, and Bishop Mulvey, respectively, were transcribed from my audio recording of the Mass.

Good evening.  I was given a task to give a simple and short tribute to a very important person in our community.  I was confused on where to start.  How do I even do this?

SPX11616-128This person is loved by so many people in this community that I felt pressured, so my solution was to have some help from some of you.

I interviewed a couple of people in this room and asked them, “Who is Fr. Paul?”

Some of the answers were “a spiritual leader,” “a mentor,” “a friend,” “a role model.”  One even said “a Filipino convert.”  And the list goes on and on.  But I promised to be quick, so I’ll stop there.

[“You didn’t ask me!” Bishop Mulvey interjected humorously.]

Fr. Paul means a lot to all of us.  He is a very important pillar to our community.  He plants and waters the seeds.  That’s why we’re here celebrating our tenth annual Sinulog celebration with his constant support and guidance.

Who is Fr. Paul to you?

The little kids told me, “Jesus Christ.”

I can understand the response because Fr. Paul always takes time to laugh with the kids with their silly jokes and always smiles even though he’s tired [from] his other responsibilities.  He even high-fives the kids after Mass.

SPX11616-129In one of Fr. Paul’s homilies in these nine-day novena Masses, he stated that he wishes for people to see Christ in him. And I guess that’s the answer.

Yes, we see Christ in you.

As you will be celebrating your twentieth anniversary of priesthood this Monday, January eighteenth, we pray for you to have good health so that you continue doing what you do best, which is being the fisher of men.

We would like to present to you a small token of our appreciation.  This reads “May you continue to be sustained by His grace and may your life in God’s service be always filled with joy.”

Let me end this by asking for Santo Nino’s protection [for] you at all times.

Pit senyor con Fr. Paul caron!

Fr. Paul was presented with a large framed Divine Mercy picture that he very graciously accepted.  And, without hurrying, he spoke to us briefly so the procession could begin.

Thank you very much.  I will cherish this.  Actually, you caught me by surprise.

I really appreciate your thoughtfulness tonight in recognizing me, but I’ve always felt that this celebration and the devotion that we’ve had for the past ten years every first Friday has been about you.

SPX11616-72It’s been about your traditions and about your faith and your devotion to the Santo Niño, so it’s been wonderful to see how the devotion has grown starting with maybe a handful of people in a home.  Maybe about fifty.  Maybe it was seventy-five people in the home that first year.  And now there’s almost five-hundred people here tonight, I can see.

So, what a wonderful gift.  I think that’s the power of the Santo Niño, the Child Jesus, who brings us all together and who draws us into communion with one another.

And so, what a special blessing it has been to be with you these past ten years.  Thank you for who you are and for embracing me into your life of faith and into your community, so God bless you all.

And, before we go in procession and we then move over to the festivities, I want to say a special word of thanks to Bishop Mulvey for being with us tonight.  He’s a very busy man.  But he takes time out of his schedule and he wants to be a part of this celebration, I know.  He has a very special place in his heart for all of you; so thank you, Bishop Mulvey, for being here with us.

Of course, we also need to thank Fr. Kisito for coming to celebrate with us.  I think that he’s been with us most of the years that we’ve been celebrating, and he comes to assist with the novenas.  So thank you very much,
Fr. Kisito.

Does everybody know what they’re doing?

But wait!  Hold on!  Not so fast!

Bishop Mulvey managed to pull another of the last-minute antics we’ve come to relish: On his way to the ambo he somewhat excused the interruption by saying, “You know, the bishop always gets the last word!”  Hilarious— as in, whom has he not mentored?!!

SPX11616-136I’ve known Fr. Paul longer than any of you.  I was the director of spiritual formation at St. Mary’s Seminary when Fr. Paul was head full of hair and playing the guitar.  But what I want to say— are you sure it’s not twenty-five years?  It’s twenty-five.  It better be twenty-five ‘cause I’m forty.  And I thought it has to be more than twenty.  But twenty-five years?  That’s wonderful!

I wasn’t prepared for this.  This is kind of off the cuff, but Fr. Paul is what-you-see-is-what-you-get.  And I say that most sincerely because, what we saw twenty-five years ago— or twenty-six, twenty-seven years ago at the seminary— is what we see today: A man who is just very sincere, very generous, very joyful, very transparent.  And it’s an honor.

I never knew twenty-five years ago that I would be his bishop.  But it is an honor to be your bishop.  I’m very grateful for all that he does here in the parish and in the diocese.  So, Fr. Paul, many congratulations to you and many, many— many, many, many, many— more years.  You’d better outlast me, anyway.  So, God bless you on this celebration.  And God bless each one of you for all the good that you do for your families, for the diocese, and for your church.  God bless you!

Pope Francis would be so proud, I thought.  This priest has heeded the call of service for twenty-five years and he looks, acts, and sounds like a spring chicken.  I’d say that’s a match made in heaven!

So, long story short, we celebrated not just the feast of Santo Niño de Cebú, but also the ordination anniversary of Fr. Paul Hesse, beloved shepherd.  And, just like that, I quickly understood why Uncle Johnny’s family, along with Allie and Stephen Carter, have been part of the St. Pius X church community from the very start.

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Prayer

Eternal God, please bless our priests who represent you on this earth.  Make them more greatly aware of the grace that you pour out through them when they minister the sacraments, and help them to fall more deeply in love with you after each and every Mass that they celebrate.

Please strengthen our priests, who shepherd your flock, when they are in doubt of their faith that they may be examples of your truth and guide us always on the path to you.

We ask these things of you, our eternal priest.  Amen.

January 25, 2016

A man of prayer is capable of everything.  He can say with St. Paul, “I can do all things in him who strengthened me” (St. Vincent de Paul).

January 27, 2016

“You will accomplish more by kind words and a courteous manner than by anger or sharp rebuke, which should never be used except in necessity” (St. Angela Merici).

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Pdf file…  Child Jesus chaplet prayers

Links of interest…  Altar server surrogate…  “Amazing:” What happened when one parish invited anyone to stop by & meet a priest…  Do beautiful churches produce beautiful priests…  Dom Hubert Van Zeller, OSB (1905-1984): about / books (more – titles) / correspondence with MertonGospel priesthood / How to find God / spiritual master – writer’s cramp…  Everything can turn into prayer…  Forgotten benefits of Christ within…  Open yourself to goodness…  Mysticism: It’s not just for saints…  Pope Francis’ Fatal 15…  Prayers: cardholy hour / missionaries / novena / one hundred / priests / priests & religious…  Priest: dignity & vocation / quadriplegic / soldier & simple poet…  Santo Niño website …  St. John Vianney: about / catechism on the priesthood / ten maxims & quotes…  Three hints on getting more from the homily…  Unlikely calling…  Veteran’s Day & the Body of Christ…  What’s your mission…  When God says no to your yes…  You can bring Christ to the world

WP posts…  Beloved joyful priest…  Call of service…  Capuchin Christmas…    Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  God’s loving mercy…  God’s master plan…  Home again…  Memory lane…  Mercy and justice…  Prayer power…  Prayerful ways…  Promise of hope…  Quiet prayer time…  Santo Niño…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Michael chaplet…  Sweet Jesus…  Today’s Beatitudes

God’s loving mercy

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Saturday evening we attended the Santo Niño celebration at St. Pius X in Corpus Christi, TX.  Well, the Mass, actually.

Since our Bible study group had engaged in a thoroughly invigorating discussion on the Sunday readings— the “Wedding at Cana” in particular— Steven and I had anticipated that Bishop Mulvey’s homily was sure to be the icing on the proverbial cake.  For this reason, I recorded his homily (below) to share with the group.

Setting the tone

SPX11616-StoNA marvelous story of Santo Niño and so many other stories of protective help from the saints, from Mary, from God.  We’ve moved them back into history.  When you think about the feast, the miracle of Santo Niño back in the 1600s, you look at the life of the people, probably very simple.  Very simple, simple life.  They had the elements of the earth.  They depended on the rain to water their crops.  They depended on the water to produce fish.  They needed the elements of the earth.  They needed the help of God.  They relied upon the help of God.  And we see that notion throughout the scriptures.

As we rise every morning in the Office that we pray as priests, religious, and lay people in the church, the opening psalm is the psalm of praise to God that he has created us, at heart that we should not harden our hearts against him but [be] open to God’s help.

I say that because we might, each one of us, think of this morning and yesterday morning and the morning before.  [What was] the first thing you did when you got up?  What did you think of?  If you try to examine yourself, say, “As I get up each morning, who do I rely upon?”

I think, if we’re honest, we’re going to rely upon the TV— turn it on first, get the news.  Gotta get the news.  Gotta go to that computer.  Gotta go to that iPhone.  Gotta go to that text message.

We have become dependent on all of these things.  And the question for us is [this]: In the midst of all this relying on news and media and connection with my friends on facebook around the world and all these things that I need to exist, where is [my] God?

Have these things become our gods because God is what is beyond us?  God is the one who is superior to us. But God is also the one who loves us, tenderly, gently.  And so, if we examine ourselves, sisters and brothers, and we think about just the very simple act of getting up in the morning, do we get up with a grateful heart and say, “Good morning, Lord Jesus?”  “Good morning, Father of mercies?”  “Good morning, another morning, so that I can rely on you?”

How we get up in the morning sets the tone for the day.  Sets the tone for the day.

If I get up immediately relying upon technology, then my day will be technological.  And, when I get exhausted by the end of the day, I’ll say— gasp— “Oh, I forgot!  Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women—  In the name of the Father and the Son—  Goodnight, Lord.”  But that’s not who we are as a people.  The beautiful faith of the Filipino people and so many other rich, rich cultures of faith rely from the very beginning on the love, the mercy, of God.

Goodness and hope

SPX11616-83I had a pastor that I worked for as a deacon in England.  He was part of the Apostleship of the Sea, which is very close to our seamen here in the Port of Corpus Christi and probably many of your own family members.

He told me one thing as a young deacon.  He said, “Michael, the people who are closest to God are the ones who are closest to the elements of the earth.  They, too, are those who work with the land and those who work at sea because they rely and depend upon God’s goodness.”

In the Philippines, especially in the past years, you know that the weather and the elements of the water have brought great destruction.  But the faith of the people grows even more.

So many farmers in this area with the drought have really felt devastation, and yet there’s that hope that continues to live in them.  No machine can do that for us.

Finding meaning

And so as you celebrate— as we celebrate— this evening, I think it’s important to go back to those rudimentary principles of who we are as human beings, created not manufactured, created not in a laboratory but in the image and likeness of God in our mothers’ wombs.  Simple.  Thank you very much.  And it’s because of that human nature that we rely upon the divine.

Look at Jesus. In the gospel of John, several times, he said, “I have not come to do my own will, but the will of my Father.”  [He tells] us, “I’ve not come to do my own thing.  I rely upon, I depend upon, I find my meaning and my fulfillment in God’s will for me.”

What did that mean?  He had to stay in close contact with him.  And he didn’t have an iPhone.  He didn’t have facebook.  He didn’t have all these mechanisms we have to stay in touch with his Father.  What he had was prayer.  What he had was a secluded place in the mountains or in the back yard to be silent and listen to the Father.

That’s how Jesus got up every morning, giving praise to the Father.  That’s how he lived the day.  And that’s how he returned to a night’s sleep, depending on the will of the Father in all that he did.

Seeking God’s will

And so we find ourselves saying sometimes, “You know, WWJD.  What would Jesus do in this moment?

Well, there’s a bigger question.  There’s a bigger context.  What does Jesus want?  What does God want of you, especially the young people?  Have you ever thought—  What does God want from you, not what you want to do [or] what your parents and your grandparents want you to do?  What does God want of your life?

We see St. Paul in the reading today lining out [the] different ministries.  There are different ways to serve God.  That’s what the body of Christ is all about.  Different ways.  Nothing’s I invent, but how God calls each one of us forth to do his will.  And to do his will, I can’t put a magic formula in somewhere.  I’ve got to listen.  I’ve got to be able to pray and listen with silence.

I would’ve never thought, ever, of being a bishop.  Many of you probably would not have ever thought of doing some things that you’ve done or be someone that you are.  But it’s by God’s grace, and so we have to listen.

Making connections

SPX11616-98We have today in the gospel a marvelous story of listening to one another, a story that you all know.  If I were to ask you— as adults or people who go to religion class, CCD— [to] tell me the story of the wedding feast of Cana, you could tell it, probably.  No problem.  Still ain’t right?  You know it.  The familiar story, we know it.  But what really was happening there?

What was really happening there?

Jesus was invited to a wedding feast.  He was not a religious stuck-in-the-mud, you know, kind of guy that had a long face and didn’t enjoy being in people’s homes or enjoy being at a wedding.  He went!

Some scholars say it may have been one of Mary’s in-laws that was getting married, so she was there as kind of a hostess.  And she saw that the wine was missing.  So she went over to Jesus, who, by the way, brought some uninvited guests.

You ever been to one of those parties where somebody brings five extra people with them that you weren’t planning?  We’re not saying that they drank the wine and made it go bad or made it go away, but they were out of wine.  Probably other people brought extra guests.

They were in need.  And there was Mary.  She saw that because, perhaps, she was kind of the hostess of the day.  So she went over to Jesus.

“Son, they have no wine.”

Language of the day

Now the response many of us will say is, “Wow.  I wouldn’t treat my mother like that.”

“Woman, what does your concern have to do with me?”

We always have to go back to the language of the day.  Many scholars say that language— “woman, what does your concern have to do with me”— basically says “Mom, I’ll take care of it.”

I’ll take care of it.

Not the way she thought or not the way other people were taught.  “Well, you have to go down to the grocery store or to the wine store and get some more.”  You know, all those kinds of things.  How did that ever happen?  But, remember, Jesus came to do the will of the Father.  And that’s why he said, “My hour has not come yet, but don’t worry.”

Fulfilling God’s will

And so he just took the simple jars of water— six jars, thirty gallons each— and changed water into wine.  A simple gesture to take care of people’s needs so that the party could continue.  But look at the relationship of Mary and Jesus.

Mary depended on Jesus.  Jesus depended on his Father so that this miracle could happen.  But, in other parties, he said, “My hour has not yet come.”  In other words: “It’s not time for me to do that first miracle.”

The hour that Jesus is speaking of is the hour on the cross.  That was the miracle of miracles.  That’s why he came.  That’s why the Father sent him.  That’s what he was anticipating.  That’s why, whenever he did a miracle, he said “don’t tell people” because that’s what [they were] waiting for— redemption.  But Jesus was so in tune with his Father and so in tune with his mother that he did what was needed at the time.

This happened, friends, at a wedding.

So many times today I think people— we’ve— lost a sense of the dignity and the sacredness of a wedding feast in the Church.  Jesus went to a great wedding feast where everyone participated, where it was part of his faith.  He went there.  But the other beautiful thing was that it was at somebody’s home.

You know, when people think of miracles, they’re always looking for some big bash, some big splash somewhere.  This was at somebody’s home!  Something that was needed right there in front of them, something simple.  And it was Jesus responding in that simple way in simple people’s lives to bring about a simple solution to a need.

Living the gospel

SPX11616-103And so what does all that say to us today?  How do we bring that gospel of two-thousand years ago into our own lives?

We all have needs.  We all get disappointed.  Things happen to us in a given day.  Things happened today.

Who do we rely upon?  To whom shall we go?

Remember when the people left Jesus after he transformed the bread.  He multiplied the loaves so that everyone could eat?  He said, “I am the bread of life.”

And people left!

So, to his disciples standing there, he said, “Will you leave me, too?”

And they said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

When things don’t go our way in life— we have a bad day— [or] when something tragic happens in our lives, to whom do we go?

Do we go and kneel down and offer our life to the Father, depending on him?  Or do we try to resolve every situation that we have the way we think it should be resolved?

If we do that, sisters and brothers, we close the door to Santo Niño.  We close the door [and] say, “We don’t need you.  I’ll take care of it.  I’ve got a computer.  I’ve got a TV.  I’ve got all these things.  I’ve got a car.  I’ll take care of it.”

But that’s not who we are.  That’s not who you are as men and women of faith.  Stand there and say, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words. You have the resolve for everything.”

God’s loving mercy

SPX11616-104Those stone jars, sisters and brothers, I think for this Year of Mercy represent the abundance of God’s mercy.

You know, [like] St. John, you can’t just [think], Okay, there’s six jars, thirty gallons each, one-hundred eighty gallons.  You can’t look at it that way because St. John always had a symbol [for] what [he] saw.

In this Year of Mercy, we can definitely see those six jars, water becoming now wine, richness.  Those represent God’s mercy coming to a difficult situation.

During this Year of Mercy, let us look at those jars and say, “That’s God’s merciful grace overflowing in my needs.”

Whatever happens to you today, tomorrow, the next day— let’s not limit it to this year but the rest of our lives— but [for] the rest of this year, make a resolve tonight.  Whatever happens today, whatever happens this year, depend on the grace of God.

Don’t try to solve it yourself.  Go to your knees.  Stand in front of the Lord and say, “Your will be done.”  Not just as a saying that your grandmother or mother taught you.  Say it from the depth of your heart.

“Your will be done.  I don’t understand.  I don’t know why this happened.  I don’t want this to happen.”

And, just as Jesus stood in front of that couple that needed something— it would’ve been a shame in the culture of the time to run out of wine— his abundant grace [will flow] over and [come] to [your] aid, [too].

And so, sisters and brothers, as we rededicate ourselves to Jesus Christ in the figure of Santo Niño, praying for all the needs of families in the Philippines and people throughout the world, let us do our part to be men and women of faith who love God so much that we depend not only on the technology of today but, first and foremost at the beginning of every morning, on God’s grace and loving mercy (Bishop Michael Mulvey; January 16, 2016; transcribed audio recording, edited).

Evening prayer to God by St. Macarius

O eternal God and Ruler of all creation, you have allowed me to reach this hour.  Forgive the sins I have committed this day by word, deed or thought. Purify me, O Lord, from every spiritual and physical stain.  Grant that I may rise from this sleep to glorify you by my deeds throughout my entire lifetime and that I be victorious over every spiritual and physical enemy.  Deliver me, O Lord, from all vain thoughts and from evil desires; for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.  Amen.

January 23, 2016

“The world tells us to seek success, power, and money; God tells us to seek humility, service, and love” (Pope Francis).

January 24, 2016

By turning your eyes on God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God.  Begin all your prayers in the presence of God (St. Francis de Sales).

January 27, 2016

Turn your eye to God’s will and see how he wills all the works of his mercy and justice in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  Then, with profound humility, accept, praise, and then bless this sovereign will, which is entirely holy, just, and beautiful (St. Francis de Sales, Roses Among Thorns).

January 30, 2016

“God gives each one of us sufficient grace ever to know his holy will and to do it fully” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).

June 1, 2016

We set forth our petitions before God not in order to make known to him our needs and desires, but rather so that we ourselves may realize that in these things it is necessary to turn to God for help (St. Thomas Aquinas).

June 11, 2016

“Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to his love, and the future to his providence” (St. Augustine).

November 18, 2016

Let us never lose courage or despair of God’s mercy.  We have only to humble ourselves before God in order to obtain grace to become all that we ought to be (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

November 21, 2016

Humility is the virtue of our Lord Jesus Christ, of his blessed Mother, and of the greatest saints.  It embraces all virtues and, where it is sincere, introduces them into the soul (St. Vincent de Paul).

November 28, 2016

We shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God; for, beholding his greatness, we realize our own littleness.  His purity shows us our foulness; and, by meditating upon his humility, we find how very far we are from being humble (St. Teresa of Ávila).

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Pdf file…  Child Jesus chaplet prayers

Links of interest…  Apostleship of the Sea…  Are your decisions born of fear or love…  Bringing back what is true & good…  Child Jesus: devotion / infancy & childhood / meditations / miracles (books) / photos / questions & answers / reverence / solemnity…  Diocese of Corpus Christi (office of the bishop – videos)…  Divine Child: about / devotion…  Forgiveness & contemplation in prayer…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / artifacts / chaplet / feast / history / league / novena / of good health (more) / petitions / prayers…  Humility…  Office: about / breviary / liturgy of the hours / universalis…  Saintly former slave a model of mercy…  Practice of the presence of God…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about / chapel / history / miracles / origin / prayers / story (more)…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / feast (more) / history / homily / novena / origin / perpetual novena / song (YouTube)…  Signs & symbols (Mary McGlone, CSJprayer request app)…  South Texas Catholic…  St. Pius X: facebook / Santo Niño devotion / schedule of services / website…  Word to life: Sunday scripture readings (Official Catholic Directory – Catholic News Service)…  Year of Mercy makes sense only if you haven’t lost the sense of sin

WP posts…  Beloved joyful priest…  Call of service…  Celebrations…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Dear God…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Gifts…  Heart’s desire…  In good time…  Little gifts…  Living one’s gifts…  Making meaning…  Mercy and justice…  Multicultural Mass…  Noon visit…  On being Christian…  One prayer…  Pink divinity…  Santo Niño…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Stella Maris moments

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Saturday evening Mass: January 2, 2016

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St. Joseph’s Hall: Tour with Joe Shaw

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Stella Maris moments: 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013, respectively

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Father Ralph’s homilies: 10 Oct 2010 / 22 Jan 2012 / 16 Sept 2012

Links of interest…  Gratitude…  Stella Maris: anniversary / marker / facebook

WP posts…  Call of service…  Delightful visit…  Father’s roses…  Healing service…  Holy relics…  Memorable as ever…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayers and blessings…  Promise of hope…  Saintly connections…  St. Peregrine relic…  Stella Maris

Lingering memory

BSJ122714s-46After dad died, mom would lie in bed to pray with my little brother and me every night.

“What happens if I fall asleep before we finish the rosary?” I’d ask.

“The Blessed Mother will finish it for you,” she’d whisper before starting a rhyming prayer that I absolutely loved.

Even though I didn’t understand all the words, I’d find comfort in the cadence, try to keep up with the prayer, and visualize the story in bold colors until I fell asleep.

Of course, time passed and life changed.  I forgot to ask about the prayer until a couple of years before mom died.

“Teach me the rhyming prayer.”

“How does it go?” she asked.  “Tell me some of the words.”

I treasured its memory but recalled only one line: “Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar.”  

Mom had no idea what I was talking about!

Lingering memory

Over the years I tried to no avail to find the prayer online.  One day I’ll meet someone versed in Spanish prayers, I thought.  I’ll find the prayer when the time is right.  Besides, the memory of us praying together still lingered vividly.  And that was good enough!

At Wednesday’s Bible study Lawanda shared that she falls asleep before she finishes her nightly prayers, “but I don’t worry about it.  My guardian angel finishes them for me.”  So I told her what mom had said when I was just six or seven.

Then, out of the blue this evening, I started wondering about mom’s prayer again.

Suddenly, a rose leaf fell on this Chicken Little’s tail: I can email Sr. Marta!  I’ll bet she knows the prayer!  Only I wanted to spell hortelanito correctly, so I looked online and—  What do you know?

I found mom’s prayer!

Oración de la pasión de Cristo

BSJ122714s-14Jesucristo se ha perdido.  La virgen lo va a buscar, entre portal y portal, entre rosal y rosal.  Debajo de un rosal blanco un hortelanito está.

“Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar.”

“Si señora, que lo he visto antes del gallo cantar.  Entre judíos y judíos, bien acompañado va.  Una cruz lleva en sus hombros que lo hacían arrodillar, una corona de espinas que lo hacían sangrar, una soga en su cuello que de ella tirando van.

“Caminemos, virgen pura, hacia el monte del calvario, que por pronto que lleguemos, ya lo han crucificado.”

Ya le habrán clavado los pies.  Ya le habrán clavado las manos.  Ya le habrán tirado la lanza en su divino costado.

La sangre que derramara se encuentra en el cáliz sagrado.  El hombre que la bebiera será bien aventurado.  Será rey en este mundo y en el otro coronado.

El hombre que dirá esta oración todos los viernes del año salvará un alma de pena y la suya del pecado.  Quien lo sabe no lo dice, quien lo oye no lo aprende y el día del juicio final verá lo que pase en el (Mendoza, 1939).

January 16, 2016

As we drove to meet Bill and Robin for dinner yesterday, Steven said, “I really like your post.  It’s very touching.  But, if I may make a suggestion, can you also add your own personal English translation?”

Prayer of the passion of Christ

While my version, as literal as possible, may not (at all) read as poetically as the original Spanish prayer, the story ties in sweetly, poignantly to the stations of the cross.

For starters, an hortelanito is someone who takes care of plants and/or crops, like a gardener or a field laborer.  In this instance, the man, referred to diminutively (with affection and/or respect), is tending to the flowers in his care when Our Lady engages him about her missing son, Jesus.  So the dialogue might be from the scene leading to the fourth station, “Jesus meets his mother,” while the rest of the narrative alludes to our salvation though Christ’s suffering that sorrowful, pivotal day.

Jesus is lost.  The Virgin is looking for him, door by door, rose bush by rose bush.  Under the rose bush with white flowers a gardener stands.

“Gardener, in God’s name, tell me the honest truth.  Have you seen Jesus of Nazareth pass by here?”

“Yes, ma’m.  I saw him pass before the rooster crowed.  Among the many Jews he was well accompanied.  A cross carried on his shoulders that brought him to his knees, a crown of thorns that made him bleed, a rope around his neck from which they pulled on him.

“Let us walk then, Virgin Purest, toward Mount Calvary because, no matter our haste to arrive, he will surely be crucified.”

They have nailed his feet.  They have nailed his hands.  They have speared his divine side.

The blood that has been shed is found in the sacred chalice.  He who drinks from it will be well rewarded.  He will be king in this world and crowned in the next.

The man who recites this prayer every Friday of the year will save a soul from punishment and yours from sin.  Whomever knows the prayer and doesn’t say it, whomever hears the prayer and doesn’t learn it, on the day of the last judgment will see what happens then.

Prayers

At the foot of the cross…  Mother of mercy and love, blessed virgin Mary, I am a poor and unworthy sinner; and I turn to you in confidence and love.  You stood by your son as he hung dying on the cross.  Stand also by me, a poor sinner, and by all the priests who are offering Mass today here and throughout the entire Church.  Help us to offer a perfect and acceptable sacrifice in the sight of the holy and undivided Trinity, our most high God.  Amen.

Heartfelt request…  O Mother of Sorrows, who could express the cruel anguish of this moment?  The same child that you once wrapped in swaddling clothes amidst unspeakable joy, you now wrap silently in his burial shroud.  Your tears mingle with the blood and dirt that covers his broken body.  But even in this moment your trust in his promise did not die.  Your mourning was not without hope, for you knew that he would rise again from his grave just as he promised.  Through this bitter sword of sorrow obtain for us the grace to believe with unshakable hope in the victory of our Lord, even in the darkest moments of life.  Amen.

Mother of Sorrows…  Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, his mother Mary stood by him, sharing his suffering.  May your Church be united with Christ in his suffering and death and so come to share in his rising to new life where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Novena to Our Lady of San Juan…  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.  Tambien se reza la “Coronita de los doce privilegios de la inmaculada madre de Dios.”

Prayer of abandonment…  Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.  Whatever you may do, I thank you.  I am ready for all; I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures.  I wish no more than this, O Lord.  Into your hands I commend my soul.  I offer it to you with all the love of my heart; for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself, into your hands without reserve and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father (Charles de Foucald).

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

Links of interest…  Camino con Jesús (blog)…  El romance tradicional y el corrido en Guatemala (Carlos Navarette, 1987)…  Forming effective adoration…  Fourth station of the cross…  Full of grace: A poignant glimpse at Mary’s final days (video)…  Handing down the faith: Catholicism is caught, not taught…  How I came to think differently about Mary…  La santa cruz de Caravaca: Tesoro de oraciones…  Letanías de la Virgen…  Linguee (Spanish-English translations)…  Mary’s tears are seeds of hope…  Oración: del hortelanito /  Jesus se ha perdido / nuestro señor Jesucristo / pasión de Cristo…  Origin of the wood of the cross…  Pious Disciples of the Divine Master (PDDM Sisters): about / blessing of the house in Matamoros, MX…  Prayer before the cross / a crucifix…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotions / fish eaters / for families / for kids / how to do / origins / prayers (video & music) / printables / puppet show (YT) / scriptural (JPII) / significance / text by Pope Francis on Good Fridayway of the cross…  Veiled Christ: Miracle of transparent marble…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Building community…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Dear God…  Full circle…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Making meaning…  Marian devotions…  Mourning joy…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  Quiet prayer time…  Sacred Heart Church…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sensory overload…  Sorrowful redemption…  Soulful…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Two takes

Christmas scenes

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Our Lady of Guadalupe Church – Brownsville, TX

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

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St. Paul the Apostle Church – (Flour Bluff) Corpus Christi, TX

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Immaculate Conception Cathedral – Brownsville, TX

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Sacred Heart Church – Brownsville, TX

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Holy Cross Church – Corpus Christi, TX

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Links of interest…  Christmas: all about / artarticles / celebrating / eve & day / free & funflash mob (YouTube) / holy family – nativity (more) / in the simple things /  meaning of wishmas / movies / music: eleven hymns & songs (video) & seven originals / novena (Nov 30-Dec 24) / origami (calendar boxes – ornaments – treats for trees) / ornaments / poem (CSJ prayer app) / poinsettia / prayers for family (more) / printables / seasonal customs / traditions (more) / visit…  Five ways to put all those Christmas cards to good use…  How to keep your Christmas tree looking beautiful & why it’s very much a religious symbol…  Icon of Christian hope: St. Felix of Nola…  Real, live Christmas tunes: classics, countryDial-a-Caroliheartchristmas, & North Pole Radio (stations not accessible year ’round)…  Three temptations of Christmas

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Angels keeping watch…  Blue heaven…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas year ’round…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Church time blues…  Clarisas cookies…  Guadalupe Church…  Heartfelt traditions…  Merry Christmas…  Oh, happy day…  On being Christian…  Our Lady’s church…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  San Juan Diego…  Santo Niño…  Slice of heaven…    Sweet Jesus…  Twelve candles…  Venerable Margaret

Capuchin Christmas

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December 14, 2015, we received another lovely card from the Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns who manage the chapel at the St. Joseph and St. Rita Monastery in Alamo, TX and quickly made plans to celebrate Christmas Eve at their St. Joseph Chapel.

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Then, Thursday evening, we showed up early to savor every tasty morsel— the singing, the rosary, Mass, and lots of photo ops— thanks to the Sisters, the altar server, concelebrants Bishop Emeritus Reymundo Peña and Fr. Juan Manuel Salazar, and everyone eager for a very special Capuchin Christmas.

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Christmas Eve homily

I see many happy faces here tonight and rightly so because Christmas is a time for joy. The greetings that we hear everywhere— “merry Christmas,” “feliz navidad,” even “happy holidays”— denote joy.  Songs like Joy to the world, Angels we have heard on high, Singing alleluia, We wish you a merry Christmas— all of those stand for joy and happiness.

St. Luke’s narrative that we just heard includes people from all social levels and all walks of life. Just listen carefully to what he said.

Who was there?  Just Mary and Joseph, a housewife and a carpenter.  There was the innkeeper, a businessman who would not let them in; the humble shepherds, uneducated and working in difficult labor every day and night; the Magi who came from distant lands to worship and honor the newborn king; and King Herod, the politician appointed by the emperor who wanted to kill the Lord.  So you can see that some were naughty and some were nice.

CSJC122415s-36Mary and Joseph received [Jesus] and wrapped him in swaddling clothes.  The shepherds immediately went to see him but didn’t find him.  The Magi came from far, far away.  The innkeeper who was only about the money wouldn’t let them in.  And King Herod, of course, as I mentioned earlier, wanted to kill him.  So, again, some were naughty and some were nice.

There’s a quote on someone’s Facebook page that I saw this morning: “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future” [Oscar Wilde].

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.  Let’s look at some of the examples.  There was St. Augustine who was a great, great sinner, who never went to church, who committed every sin in the book; but his mother kept praying for him.  He was converted.  There was Mary Magdalene who shed tears for her sins and went to wash the Lord’s feet.  [Each] received God’s mercy for the rest of their lives.

We are all sinners except for the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I often think of my own sins; but even if I try to repair them, I still have that inclination to want to sin.  I’m sure all of us feel that way.

We want to be perfect.  We want to love God.  But the devil keeps tempting us because he’s jealous.  He does not want us to reach heaven.

In his mercy Jesus came to save you and me.  He forgives me; he forgives you.  His birth makes salvation possible, and that’s why we rejoice.  It wasn’t the fact that he was born.  Joy comes from [knowing] that he was born in order to save us from our sins.

Every sinner can and should be saved because Christ came to save us all.  As I mentioned a minute ago, St. Augustine had his mother pray and pray and pray until he changed.  He was converted.  He became a holy man.  He became a bishop.  He became a saint.  And, as I mentioned before, Mary Magdalene committed every sin in the book; but, when she saw Jesus, she repented.  She cried, and he gave her his mercy as she washed his feet.  She was at the foot of the cross with Mary.

CSJC122415s-14You and I here tonight are Augustine of Hippo.  You and I here tonight are Mary Magdalene.  We have sinned, but we have repented.  Otherwise, we would not be here.  And we rejoice!  We rejoice today because Jesus, the simple little baby in Bethlehem, today made our weaknesses his own so that we’re not weak by ourselves.

Jesus accepted and embraced our weakness so that he would overcome; and, by overcoming that weakness, he could save us.  He comes to us whether we are naughty or nice, just as he came to Mary and Joseph, to the shepherds, to the Magi, and to Herod.

Jesus sends our guardian angel to remind us of his birth just as he sent the angels to the shepherds to tell them that he had been born.  Jesus sends the Church to tell us that Jesus was born and to tell us that he lived as the star guiding the Magi from distant lands.

Today we rejoice.  We are back because the promise of Christmas is what we live for.  We are not celebrating nearly a historical death: that Jesus was born some two-thousand fourteen, fifteen, twenty years ago.  That’s historically true, but we are here more to celebrate the [reason] he was born.

He was born to be our savior.  He was born to forgive our sins.  And that’s why we’re happy because right here today, this Christmas day, we are beginning to taste the everlasting heaven: happiness that will be ours on Christmas forever; our salvation; our eternal union with God; our perpetual gaze at the face of our creator, our savior, and our God.

CSJC122415s-15Yes, we have reason to be happy.  Yes, we have reason to enjoy.  Yes, we have reason to say “glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.”  So today, tomorrow, and the next few weeks enjoy the Christmas lights.  They remind us of the light of which Isaiah speaks in the first reading:

The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light.  You have brought them abundant joy [9:1-2].

They foreshadow the eternal light that is God.  So rejoice.  Enjoy the lights.  Enjoy the Christmas songs.  They’re like the choirs of angels who sang to the shepherds “glory to God in the highest” and with whom we will praise God in heaven forever.

Peace and close advice in the epistle: “Live temperately, justly, and be loved in this age as we await the blessed hope and the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior, Jesus Christ” [Titus 2:12-13].  So today, my brothers and sisters, be happy.  Enjoy.  Praise God.

May you all have a happy, holy, safe Christmas filled with his love, filled with his peace, and saying night and day “glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will” (Bishop Emeritus Reymundo Peña; December 24, 2015; transcribed audio recording).

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January 4, 2016

We must rise up and value every instant of time that passes and is in our power.  We must not waste a single moment.  By divine grace we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year.  This year, which only God knows if we shall see its end, must be used in reparation for the past and in preparation for the future (St. Pio).

January 23, 2016

The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious, and accepted.  He deprives himself of everything in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts.  He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers to encourage us to love poverty and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.

This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts, by this example, these sublime virtues so that, from a world that is torn and devastated, an era of peace and love may spring forth.  Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.

Oh, let us prostrate ourselves before the manger; and, along with the great St. Jerome who was enflamed with the love of the Infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve.  Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity (St. Pio’s Christmas meditation, translated by Rega, 2005).

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St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery – 725 E. Bowie Avenue – Alamo, TX 78516-5500

Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Boxing Day…  Christmas trials, mercy, & Padre Pio (more)…  Christmastide: customs / days / foods / octave (more) / other countries & cultures / overview / prayers (guide) / twelve days (more) / why celebrate…  Cloistered nuns want to pray for you…  Las posadas & the 2nd Christmas novena (Dec 16-24)…  Pope Francis: Christmas 2015

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas scenes…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  Merry Christmas…  Oh, happy day!…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Slice of heaven…  St. Felix…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelve candles…  Venerable Margaret