Heartfelt traditions

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Mid-afternoon Saturday, Steven asked, “So where would you like to go for Mass?”

My response was quick.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) beckoned, so we arrived early enough for me to photograph the altar.

Request

How delightful to see a priest conversing with a woman outside the south church entrance as we drove up.

“Are we going in that way?” I asked, motioning toward the priest donned in purple.

“No, let’s go this way.  It’s closer,” Steven said, already making his way across the parking lot.

Opening the door, we were totally taken aback.  Father Darryl was waiting for us!

How did he do that? we wondered, eyeballing each other with stifled amusement and disbelief.  Who is this man that he can be there and here so effortlessly?

“I remember you,” Father Darryl said, extending his hand to shake Steven’s.  “I haven’t seen you since the men’s ACTS retreat.”  Then he asked us to carry the Advent candle in the opening procession.  “Will you do it?”

Steven and I, still grinning from dumbfoundedness, didn’t respond quickly enough.

“It’s not difficult,” Father Darryl insisted, telling us what was expected.

“Sure!” I smiled.

But how did he know we’d say yes?  And what else did God have in mind?

Heartfelt traditions

Wholly immersed in the ritual before Mass, I observed every little movement through perfectly timed photographs that only my third eye, sans Coolpix, could capture.

From the confident, knowing hands that filled the incense cup in the wreath’s center to the graceful, attentive hands that received the candle, every moment was recorded mind, heart, and soul.  In the swirling incense permeating the air I instinctively affirmed as heartfelt traditions renewed Father’s prayers, the altar server’s lighting of the candle, and all blessings bestowed not just for the Advent season, but for our continued faith journey as a married couple as well.

Happy anniversary, darling!

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Prayers from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

God of a thousand years and the blink of a millisecond, grant me the willingness to cast aside the demands of this world, now in the days of these weeks before Christmas, that my heart may be humbled to receive more fully the gift of the Christ-child and my life enlarged to await more hopefully the return of my Savior and Judge.  Amen (Rev. Dr. Cathy Brall).

Almighty God, it is truly good to spend time in your house praising your name.  We give you thanks that you do not stand far off, but that you enter into our suffering.  Teach us to be advocates for peace in this restless world, in Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen (K. J. Norris).

Precious Lord, it is with great humility that we turn our attention from the demands of this season to focus on you.  We need you, we trust you, we hope in you.  Let your steadfast love be upon us.  It is in your most holy name that we pray these words.  You, the alpha and the omega, from ages unto ages.  Amen (Dr. Michelle Keane Domeisen).

Come, holy savior, Jesus Christ, God with us.  How we need you!  If our night is dark, shine all the more with the radiance of your light.  Amen
(Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner).

Lord God, the well waters of poverty are rising around us while a select few sit on the perimeters with full water buckets in their hands, poised to add to the misery of others.  Grant relief to the suffering and the hearts of those inflicting pain.  Remind us all of why it was that you came.  Amen
(Rev. Dr. John Welch).

O God, you “are enthroned forever, and your name endures to all generations.”  But our days are “like an evening shadow.”  Therefore, we lay before you our every weakness— the brevity of our lives are but signs of our failure to live as your people.  We trust ourselves to you, O God; and we pray that, by your grace, we might live securely in your presence now and forevermore.  Amen (Psalm 102:12, 11; Rev. Dr. Jerome F. D. Creach).

Lord, we thank you for the wonder of this season.  We thank you that you are our refuge and strength, and we ask you to help us follow you even when it is difficult.  Amen (Rev. Derek Davenport).

Sunday reflections from the OLPH bulletins

olph112616-141st: Hope…  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come (Matthew 24:42).

People who have had health issues or near-death experiences generally have a greater appreciation for each day being a gift from God.  The rest of us usually take for granted that we will be around tomorrow.  But when you start to look at each day as a gift, you realize all the little miracles that happen daily and grow in gratitude for all that we have been given (November 27, 2016).

olph12316-342nd: Love…  Therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 3:10).

Do you bear good fruit for Christ?  Or do you spend your time, talent, and treasure constantly acquiring more toys, clutter, and junk?  Our time, talent, and treasure are gifts that God has given us.  What we do with them is our gift back to God.  What gifts are you planning to give to the Lord during this upcoming Christmas season? (December 4, 2016).

olph121116-553rd: Joy…  You, too, must be patient.  Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:8).

Patience is… one of those things many of us struggle with.  We want things to go according to our plan and our schedule.  Any change brings anxiety and fear.  Through daily prayer we better align ourselves with God’s will and his plan, which is far better than anything we can come up with on our own (December 11, 2016).

olph121716-43a4th: Peace…  When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home (Matthew 1:24).

Putting our complete trust in the Lord without expecting anything in return.  Striving to put God first in all things and follow him wherever he may lead us.  As we prepare for the birth of our Lord, pray for the strength and courage to be a model of discipleship, just as Joseph was (December 18, 2016).

November 28, 2016

“Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of divine love growing in silence” (Caryll Houselander).

From the gospel we learn the happy news of our salvation.  Learning it, we rejoice in it.  We behold God’s glory, and we glorify him.  Let us rise to the high places, to the sublime part of ourselves; let us rise above ourselves to seek God in himself and, with the angels, to rejoice in his great glory (Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Advent).

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives” (Russell M. Nelson).

This Christmas, when Christ comes, will he find a warm heart?  Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern (St. Teresa of Kolkata, Love: A Fruit Always in Season).

November 29, 2016

The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again.  When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace (St. Charles Borromeo).

December 3, 2016

Where do you look for your life?  Forward or behind?  May the Lord grant you the grace to leave things behind, even those which you consider precious in this life; and may he allow you to look ahead, where Christ is waiting for you for a glorious meeting that will open the gates of eternity
(Gus Encino, Aleteia).

December 5, 2016

“With faith I await this blessed day, on which you will receive the name of Jesus, the day on which you will be my Emmanuel, always with me, amid so many temptations and peril” (Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Advent).

December 9, 2016

Pope Francis reminds us again and again that we bring the Word to life each and every day in the way we reach out to others with the love and mercy of God, the way we bring the light of Christ to a world too often shrouded in clouds and darkness, and the way we show to others a face that mirrors the face of God (Diane M. Houdek, Franciscan Media, The Joy of Advent).

December 10, 2016

“Advent is a time for renewal… because God brings his forgiveness to us in the shape of his Son” (Catherine Doherty).

December 21, 2016

Mary sustains our journey toward Christmas, for she teaches us how to live this Advent season in expectation of the Lord.  For this time of Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord who will visit us all on the feast, but also… in our own heart.  The Lord is coming!  Let us wait for him! (Pope Francis).

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Links of interest…  Advent: announcing the coming / anticipation & hope / blessed & brokendaily prayers /  deeper meaning in Latin / four attitudes & comings of Christ / from fear to faithGaudete Sunday (not pink, rose) / history / how can this be / lift up your headsmaybe you’re doing it wrong / meditating on Mary & keeping me from being a slackerO antiphons (hope – retreat – soothing balm) / one who is to comeour hope not in this world / passion for the possible / pregnant with expectationspreparing our hearts / real meaning of Christmas lights / reorienting ourselves to a slower paceseason (forgotten repentance) / seven counter-cultural ways / song of trust & acceptance / St. Joseph’s teachings & kissing him / time: for greater silence & prayer & of waitingtradition / what is / when it’s not yet Christmas / wreath (about – history – prayers – symbolism) / yoke that is easy & light…  Awake from your sleep…  Difficult art of being present…  Enchanted faith…  Faith is not a philosophy, but an encounter with Jesus Christ…   Holy Communion nourishes your supernatural life... Homilies: Christ is the solutionlighting candles in the dark / recipe for readiness…  Make a resolution to start being brave…  OLPH: facebook / Mass timeswebsite…  Open to dreams…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals…  Reflections of family & faith…  “Rorate” Mass…  Seven endearing books to read to children at Christmastime…  Signs of salvation…  Six ways to tune out distraction & be more attentive…  Slouching toward Bethlehem…  Want to know what God wants from you?  Try total immersion…  Why the Church uses incense at Mass

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  For all time…  Gifts…  Letter to Santa…  Oh, happy day…  On being Christian…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Second looks…  Sweet Jesus…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Twelve candles…  Undeniable familiarity

Advent prayers

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On Saturday I received a wonderful letter from Tom Muscatello with the Anthonians at St. Adalbert Friary in New York.  Tom caught us up on Father Mario’s latest adventures traveling with St. Anthony’s first-class relics and included “some Advent prayers for your pleasure.”

O shepherd of Israel, hearken.  O guide of the flock of Joseph, rouse your power and come to save us!  O Lord of hosts, restore us.  If your face shine upon us, then we shall be safe.  O Lord of hosts, how long will you burn with anger while your people pray?  You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in ample measure.  You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.  O Lord of hosts, restore us.  If your face shine upon us, then we shall be safe.

Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan.  Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory, and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Father, in the wilderness of the Jordan you sent a messenger to prepare people’s hearts for the coming of your son.  Help me to hear his words and repent of my sins so that I may clearly see the way to walk, the truth to speak, and the life to live for him, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Lord God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ, experience the joy of salvation and celebrate the feast with love and thanksgiving.  We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

To Our Lady…  O Mother of Advent, be with us and see to it that he will remain with us in our difficult struggles for truth and hope, for justice and peace: He alone, Emmanuel.

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Additional prayers

Come, long-expected Jesus.  Excite in me a wonder at the wisdom and power of your father and ours.  Receive my prayer as part of my service to the Lord who enlists me in God’s own work for justice.  Come, long-expected Jesus.  Excite in me a hunger for peace: peace in the world, peace in my home, peace in myself.  Come, long-expected Jesus.  Excite in me a joy responsive to the father’s joy.  I seek his will so I can serve with gladness, singing, and love.  Come, long-expected Jesus.  Excite in me the joy, love, and peace to bring to the manger of my Lord.  Raise in me, too, sober reverence for the God who acted there, hearty gratitude for the life begun there, and spirited resolution to serve the Father and the Son.  I pray in the name of Jesus Christ whose advent I hail.  Amen.

Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan.  Lift our minds in watchful hope to heart the voice which announces his glory, and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

??????????God of love and mercy, help us to follow the example of Mary, always ready to do your will.  At the message of an angel she welcomed your eternal Son and, filled with the light of your Spirit, she became the temple of your Word who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome.  Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Gracious God, you bring glad tidings to the poor.  Create in us this Advent season the desire to help those in need that we may recognize in them the face of Christ.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Jesus, you are our eternal salvation, the unfailing light of the world.  Light everlasting, you are truly our redemption.  Grieving that the human race was perishing through the tempter’s power, without leaving the heights you came to the depths in your loving kindness.  Readily taking our humanity by your gracious will, you saved all earthly creatures long since lost, restoring joy to the world.  Redeem our souls and bodies, O Christ, and so possess us as your shining dwellings.  By your first coming, make us righteous; at your second coming, set us free so that, when the world is filled with light and you judge all things, we may be clad in spotless robes and follow in your steps, O King, into the heavenly hall.  Amen.

SJC121210-10Lord, our God, we praise you for your son, Jesus Christ.  He is Emmanuel, the hope of all people.  He is the wisdom that teaches and guides us.  He is the savior of every nation.  Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this Advent wreath.  May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Lord Jesus, master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.  We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.  We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.  We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.  We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.  We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.  To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”  Amen.

Merciful Father, you have given us your Son as your loving presence in this world.  Create in our hearts the room for your love to grow.  Forgive our shortcomings, and prepare our hearts for your coming.  We ask this in the name Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

O God, who gladdens us by the annual expectation of our redemption, grant that we, who now receive with joy your only begotten son as our redeemer, may behold him without fear when he comes as our judge, even the same Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns forever and ever.  Amen.

??????????Son of God, You are the light of the world.  Shine your light on all our choices this day.  Create in us the ability to let your light shine forth for others.  We ask this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of your only begotten son, that we may attain to serve you with purified minds, through his advent.  Who with you lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.  Amen.

Wise and loving God, that I may come to know you more deeply and that others may come to know you through me, pervade and penetrate my entire being.  Make me a pure emanation of your glory, a radiant reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of your presence in the world, an image of your goodness.  Lord, help me to live with your wisdom and not my own, that I may be a beacon of your friendship for others.  Amen.

To obtain favors…  Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold.  In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of our savior, Jesus Christ, and of his blessed mother.  Amen.

This prayer, dating back to 1897, may be recited throughout the day from the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30) until Christmas.

December 17, 2013

“Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of divine love growing in silence” (Caryll Houselander).

November 30, 2013

Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man.  Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child.  This is a healing memory; it brings hope.  The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.…  It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope (Pope Benedict XVI).

November 28, 2015

O God, by whose word all things are sanctified, pour forth your blessing upon this wreath and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from you abundant graces.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen (Blessing for Advent wreath).

November 29, 2015

Advent is the season of the presence and expectation of the eternal.  For this very reason it is in a particular way a period of joy… joy in the fact that God made himself a child.  This joy, invisibly present within us, encourages us to journey on with confidence (Pope Benedict XVI).

December 10, 2015

Jesus, you are our light.  When you came into our world, you made it a brighter place.  Help us each day to make brighter and happier the lives of the people we live with, learn with, play with, and pray with.  Amen (RCL Benziger enewsletter).

December 20, 2015

Mary went without delay to communicate her joy to her cousin, Elizabeth….  This is the real commitment of Advent: to bring joy to others.  Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not expensive presents that demand time and money (Pope Benedict XVI).

December 23, 2015

Advent is a journey towards Bethlehem.  May we let ourselves be drawn by the light of God made man (Pope Francis).

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St. Joseph Church – Port Aransas, TX

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Links of interest…  Advent: about / & Our Lady of Guadalupe / anticipation & hope / antiphons (about / more / overview / seven / video) / calendar (family –  morestitched) / celebrating the season (more) / crafts & activities (more) / emptying the stable / examenfor CCE teachers / great waiting / liturgical resources / meditations / prayers & customs (daily – more – still more) / praying / readings / reflection / resources (more) / retreat / time of preparation / traditions / what is / What would Joseph do / with St. Jude / wreath prayers (more – pdf) / video (more)…  Anthonians: Messenger of St. Anthony (editorials) / St. Anthony USA (petitions)…  Kids’ activities: Advent adventure / books / calendars (countdown / more / printable / Santa) / candles song / children’s prayers / crafts & activities (more) / creating prayers of petitions / definitive guide / for kids / gospel talk / history & meaning / ideas (blog) / meditations / paper chain / placemat / prayers & customs / preparing children / printables & more / resources (more – still more) / season / teaching / traditions / videos & activities (free fun) / wreath (making – more – prayer)…  Music: Carol of the bells (song) / carols / holiday animations / index / list / lyrics / music & videos / remix (nine songs) / sing-a-longs / Kididdles / Mary, did you know? (song) / White Christmas (song)…  Preparing our hearts for Advent…  Solemnities: Dec 25th / Jan 1st

WP posts…  Blue heaven…  Budding relationships…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Concrete abstraction…  Faith and prayer…  Father’s guided tour…  Letter to Santa…  Oh, happy day…  On being Christian…  Our Lady…  Powerful intercessor…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Sweet Jesus…  Thanksgiving prayers

Father now retired

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Christmas decorations, nativity scenes, and trees delicately lit adorned every bit of the Oblate Madonna Residence on December 23, 2011, our first visit there.  I was so glad to finally be there that I hadn’t even thought to call ahead to make sure Father Sheehan would want (or have time) to share space with us that day.  After all, we hadn’t seen each other in almost seven-and-a-half years, not since I’d driven from Brownsville to Roma to meet Father at Our Lady of Refuge before going to dinner at Dairy Queen.

Even though Father Sheehan had been one of three priests assigned to Immaculate Conception Cathedral and its missions, Sacred Heart and St. Thomas, for a number of years, I, as a parishioner, hadn’t interacted with Father other than having participated in the Masses he’d celebrated.

God’s master plan

ICC81411-187Then, after work on September 12, 2002, I called the cathedral and asked if either Father Moran or Father Lanese were at the office so I could go by to talk.

“They’re both unavailable,” the secretary told me, “but Father Sheehan is here.  I’m sure he wouldn’t mind your dropping by to see him.  Would you like for me to let him know you’re on the way?”

I didn’t respond right away.  I was comfortable with Father Moran, since he was our priest at Sacred Heart, and I’d gone to confession with Father Lanese; but I’d never dealt with Father Sheehan before.  Yet, I was desperate to sit and talk about a personal crisis from the day before.

“Yes, please,” I finally said.  “I should be there in about fifteen minutes.”

Driving to the cathedral, I didn’t know which would be worse, sharing my dilemma with Father Sheehan or— dread of all dreads— being chastised when I really needed patience and understanding.

All the way there, I thought back to the two times (in 1970 and in 1990) that I’d sought assistance from a priest.  Neither had gone well, so my mind teetered between feeling apprehensive and needing peace of mind.  Having matured since then, however, I knew better than to back away.  Besides, I’d already committed to showing up.

Overcoming adversity

I parked adjacent to my old school, across the street from the office.  No turning back now.

I’d been to the office a few times, namely, when I’d registered and when I’d turned in raffle ticket money; but, so unlike the cathedral itself, the place seemed unfamiliar and lacked personality.  Nevertheless, the secretary was gracious and kind.

“You’re here to see Father Sheehan?” she asked smilingly.

ICC81411-9“Yes,” I said politely.

“Follow me, please.”

Father Sheehan’s office was across from the reception area.  The top half of its door was glass; everything else around it, shades of yellow.  I didn’t have much time to think ’cause the door opened right away.

Friend in need

Much taller up close than from the fifth pew in church, Father greeted me with a warm, boyish smile.  He was so down to earth that I felt I’d known him all my life.

Father’s office had three or four chairs around a small table with magazines, so we sat to converse within that circle as friends, not as a priest and a stranger seated with a desk-barrier in between.

Of course, I didn’t know how or where to start.  So Father said,

By the time people come into my office, they’ve already gone through a lot.  A lot of grief.  A lot of worry.  A lot of penance.  They’ve been harder on themselves than either I or God would ever be.  My job isn’t to scold or to punish.  My role as a priest is to listen, accept, and understand.  We all make mistakes, and we suffer dearly for them.  By the time people come in, they’re at the end of their rope; so I’m not going to make things worse.  Just tell me what’s on your mind, and we’ll take it from there.

Forever friends

For almost two months I visited daily.  Sometimes we talked about books we’d read; other times, about work.  We’d both suffered recent losses: Father, his mother and his sister; me, someone I’d thought was a lifelong friend.

“We’ll commiserate,” he’d tease.

Certainly, we did our share of laughing and crying to the point that Father Lanese would pass by, look in on us through the door’s window, and shake his head.

We learned about each other’s family, too, which Father really enjoyed.  He told the best stories.

We became forever friends in a short span of time so that, even when Father was transferred to Roma, which might as well have been the other side of the world, we began our correspondence.  Plus, I drove there a couple of times with Acacia-Darling, my one and only grandchild then, to visit a few hours and enjoy a meal at Dairy Queen, since both Father and Acacia loved chicken fingers with mashed potatoes, gravy, and Texas toast.

               

               

Of course, my life got busier and busier.  I taught school, did paperwork and more at home, and continued with my graduate studies; so I didn’t have time for visits anymore.  Then, as time passed, I corresponded less and less.

Not Father, though.  He sent cards regularly even though I was on another planet altogether.

Still, if we could’ve communicated telepathically, he would’ve known that I always vividly recalled our talks, the stories, the laughter, and the tears.

Beloved priest

Over the years, I’ve treasured Father not only for his greeting cards, but especially for his being my forever friend— caring, loving, supportive— no matter how infrequently I’ve corresponded.  To this day, too, Father Sheehan is synonymous with Immaculate Conception Cathedral, my heart of hearts since age five when I attended first grade in the building across the street.  So how could I ever possibly forget when the memories are so entwined?

For this reason, I’d always wanted to visit Father Sheehan again.  So, when we finally had the chance on December 23, 2011, I wasn’t going to give up just because Father didn’t remember me.

As I later wrote in a letter to Father Bob, whom Steven and I met as we were leaving the Oblate Madonna Residence that afternoon,

Our visit was truly memorable.  I only wish we lived closer, so we could surprise Father more often.  But, having had such a great time, we’ll simply have to drive to San Antonio more than once every four or five years if we want to enjoy his sense of humor and, perhaps, your smiling face should you happen to be in at the time.

To me, there’s no one as kind, as attentive, or as real as Father.  When I was most in need of someone, he welcomed me into his office and made me feel that everything was going to be just fine.  And it was.

I’m sooo blessed to know him!

      

     

           

        

       

January 13, 2013

Steven and I had a fantabulous time as usual visiting Father Sheehan again.

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Pdf files: Letters to…  Father Bob / Father Sheehan

Links of interest…  100 prayers for priests…  Holy hour for priests…  Prayers for priests & for religious…  Ten short meditations for making a good confession

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Beautiful sacred space…  Building community…  Call of service…  Connected tangents…  Father’s guided tour…  Gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Home again…  Marian devotions…  Memory lane…  Our Lady…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

Father’s guided tour

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After lunch, Steven drove us around San Antonio.  Since Father Sheehan has a sweet tooth and I wanted some ice cream, we finally found a Dairy Queen before returning to the Oblate Madonna Residence on Blanco Road.

The afternoon had turned frigid, and Steven was the only one with a warm jacket; but that didn’t keep Father from asking, “Would you like a tour of the place?”

“Like, oh, my gosh!  Do you even need to ask?!” I squealed.  “Yes!  Please!

And off we went.

Advent scene

             

             

Lourdes grotto

             

            

           

Tepeyac shrine

               

               

               

                

               

Cavalry of Christ

               

Oblate grounds

                

               

                

               

Oblate grotto in San Antonio

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Contact information

Both the Tepeyac pamphlet and the grotto schedule cards are from Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, 5712 Blanco Road, Building 42, San Antonio, TX 78216.

Links of interest…  Lourdes (France): about / miracles & cures / petitions…  Lourdes Grotto & Guadalupe Tepeyac (SATX): anniversary / directions / facebook / mission / photos…  Guadalupe Tepeyac: basilica / brochure / movie (YouTube) / play (video) / story…  Our Lady of Lourdes: grotto / Massabielle / Ohio / Rio Grande City: history / photos / national shrine / pilgrimage site

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Connected tangents…  Faces of Mary…  Father now retired…  Gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Memory lane…  Our Lady…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  San Juan Diego…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

Memory lane

December 23, 2011, Steven and I visited Father Sheehan for the first time since July 2004, when I’d last spent time with him at Our Lady of Refuge in Roma, TX.

Stranger danger

“Hi, Father Sheehan!  We’ve come to ask if you’d like to join us for lunch,” I chirped excitedly.

SATX-158I wanted to hug him hello, but he was stunned to have two strangers call on him at the Oblate Madonna Residence in San Antonio, TX!  I’d never expected that, since he’s regularly mailed greeting cards to us over the years.

Father quizzically searched our faces, mine especially.  He wanted to smile, but he wasn’t really sure about letting his guard down.

“Should we have called first?” I asked.  “I looked online for your phone number and found only the one for the house here.  I wrote the number on the back of your card, but I didn’t think to call ahead.  I figured we’d just drop by; and then, if we couldn’t have access to you, I’d call.”

Seeing the card in my hands, Father admitted, “I can’t deny it’s my handwriting.  I have to know you, or you wouldn’t have that card; but I don’t know who you are.  What are you doing here?  What do you want?”

“We came to take you to lunch,” I repeated, hopeful that Father would agree to join us.  I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or if he really didn’t remember me.  “We can leave, if you like.  It’s just that I’d written to let you know we’d be in town this weekend, and we were hoping to spend some time with you.  Didn’t you receive my cards?”

Father Sheehan was struggling to remember who I was.

Steven and I were strangers to him, but we couldn’t just leave.  I knew who he was, so I wanted to reassure him.  “It’s okay that you don’t remember me.  I remember you, and that’s good enough!” I said cheerfully.  I wanted him to know that my feelings weren’t hurt, but not until I wrote this post did I realize that he was concerned for himself.  And, really, he had every right to be.

Patiently yet enthusiastically, I shared a lot of memories going back to September 12, 2002, when we first met at Immaculate Conception Cathedral and became fast friends.  Yet Father’s recollections eluded him.

“Who are you?  Why are you here?” Father asked pointedly, almost making my eyes water.

Then, like a frozen moment in time, we looked directly into each others’ eyes and— just like that— Father Sheehan’s memory seemed to thaw.

“I think I vaguely recall,” he declared, sounding less apprehensive and more receptive to our visit.

We both relaxed.

“So does this mean you’ll join us for lunch?” I asked invitingly, fully prepared to show Father a good time no matter what.

Lively visit

With Father in his familiar comfort zone, he once again became the lighthearted person who’d been our beloved family priest back home.  He mischievously joked and teased in his usual happy way.

        

       

               

Even though the weather was bitingly cold, our renewed friendship warmed our spirits.  Father gave us a tour of the grounds and the facility before asking, “Have you seen the chapel?”

Whaatt?!!!  Oh, my gosh!  Oh, my gosh!  Oh, my gosh!” I exclaimed, anticipating a delightful topping on the Dairy Queen strawberry sundaes we’d enjoyed earlier.

Memory lane

For five precious hours, Father Sheehan had gifted us with crescendoing joy.  He’d been silly, entertaining, and informative all at once.  But, ever the masterful storyteller, he’d saved the best for last.

The Oblate Madonna Residence chapel, like Father Sheehan’s recollection that the stained-glass windows were the same ones from when he’d entered the seminary there at age fourteen in 1949, was a huge Secret Santa surprise.  Simply amazing.  Oh-so special.  A wonderful walk down memory lane.

               

               

       

            

               

               

               

Prayers

Novena…  God our Father, we thank you for having called Saint Eugene de Mazenod to follow Christ, the savior and evangelizer.  Through his intercession help us to reach out with the healing touch of Christ, who calls us to holiness and to mission.  May we build communities which are signs of your presence, and share the Good News of salvation with all peoples.  For this we dedicate ourselves, through Christ, our Lord.

Saint Eugene de Mazenod, share with us your love for Christ, help us to stand firm in goodness, and be with us in all our efforts.  Amen.

SA11313-113-oPetition…  St. Eugene, by your example, touch me to see Jesus in others, to help those in need, and to have the courage to do God’s will.  I ask you to intercede on my behalf for a special need…

May God, through your intercession, guide me to accept the difficulties in my life and to work toward a happy and healthy solution.  May I accept God’s will in my life with strength and love.  I ask this through his son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Special favor…  God, our Father, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, you called St. Eugene de Mazenod to gather priests and brothers as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to annouce the gospel, especially among the poor and neglected.  May we be inflamed with the zeal for announcing the gospel of Jesus Christ, our savior, and receive through his intercession the special grace we ask for at this time…

St. Eugene de Mazenod, pray for us.

Links of interest…  Brownsville diocese…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral (ICC): diocesan website / national registry / parishes online / photos…  Our Lady of Refuge…  Sacred Heart Church (ICC mission): photos…  St. Eugene de Mazenod: about / biography / book / church (about / dedication / infoMass times) / founder / litanies / novena / prayer / saint / speaks to us (blog)…

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Connected tangents…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  Gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Holy relics…  Marian devotions…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

Blue heaven

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This past Sunday I walked into church and inwardly rejoiced at seeing the unexpected: A new Advent tradition! 

Finally we have blue instead of purple on the altar!  Truly appropriate, considering we’re eagerly awaiting the birth of a newborn child: A boy— Jesus!

Links of interest…  Advent: about / anticipation & hope (more) / calendar / celebration of saints / celebrating the season / colors / customs / prayers / preparing for the coming king / seasonal customs / surprise calendar / time of preparation / wreath (YouTube)…  American Catholic…  Catholic online…  Franciscan media…  National Shrine of St. Jude: blog / home page / meditations / prayers & petitions…  Nunc dimittis: about / canticle of Simeon / song (YouTube)…  Our Lady of Advent

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Call of service…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas scenes…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Oh, happy day!…  On being Christian…  Our Lady…  Prayer power…  Prayerful ways…  San Giuseppe…  Sweet Jesus

Our Lady

“A great sign appeared in the sky: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).

Advent

As we celebrate the Blessed Mother’s two very special feast days this week, Father Ward’s article in the Christmas Bulletin (Association of the Miraculous Medal, 2009, pp. 1-2) focuses on Mary as a symbol of hope during Advent.

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Prayers

My Queen!  My Mother!  I give myself entirely to you; and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve.  Wherefore, good mother, as I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession.  Amen (Divine Mercy Adoration Companion, Maroney, 2008).

Dearest Lady of Guadalupe, fruitful mother of holiness, teach me your ways of gentleness and strength.  Hear my prayer offered with deep-felt confidence to beg this favor….

O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children who call to you under the glorious Aztec title of Guadalupe, the virgin who crushed the serpent.

Queen of Martyrs, whose immaculate heart was pierced by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly amid the sharp thorns strewn across the pathway.  Invoke the holy spirit of wisdom to fortify my will to frequent the sacraments so that, thus enlightened and strengthened, I may prefer God to all creatures and shun every occasion of sin.  Help me, as a living branch of the vine that is Jesus Christ, to exemplify his divine charity always seeking the good of others. 

Queen of Apostles, aid me to win souls for the sacred heart of my savior.  Keep my apostolate fearless, dynamic, and articulate to proclaim the loving solitude of our father in heaven so that the wayward may heed his pleading and obtain pardon through the merits of your merciful son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Holy Mary, our mother, today, each day, and in our last hour, we entrust ourselves entirely to your loving and singular care.  We place in your hands our entire hope and happiness, our every anxiety and difficulty, our whole life.  May our every endeavor be directed and guided according to the will of your son, which is your will by the aid of your prayer and special favor with God.  Amen.

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The spirit of Advent largely consists in living close to our Lady during the time she is carrying Jesus in her womb.  We can think of our whole life as a somewhat longer advent, a time of waiting for that definitive moment when we will at last find ourselves with God forever (Reverend Francis Fernández-Carvajal).

December 9, 2013

Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical Rose, make intercession for our Holy Church, protect the Pope, help all those who invoke you in their necessities; and, since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most Holy Son, the grace of keeping our faith, sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance.  Amen.

December 20, 2013

Our Lady was full of God because she lived for God alone, yet she thought of herself only as the handmaid of the Lord.  Let us do the same (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

May 28, 2014

Humility is like a pair of scales: the lower one side falls, the higher rises the other.  Let us humble ourselves like the Blessed Virgin and we shall be exalted (St. John Vianney).

August 22, 2015

ICC81411-81“Because… Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the king of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of Queen” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

September 12, 2015

“The devils fear the queen of heaven to such a degree that, only on hearing her great name pronounced, they fly from him who does so as from a burning fire” (Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ).

September 26, 2015

“All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady” (J.R.R. Tolkien).

December 12, 2015

Hail, O Virgin of Guadalupe, empress of America!  Keep forever under your powerful patronage the purity and integrity of our holy faith on the entire American continent (Pope Pius XII).

Immaculate heart of Mary, heart of my Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, I unite to your purity, your sanctity, your zeal, and your love all my thoughts, words, acts, and sufferings this day that there may be nothing in me that does not become, through you, a pleasure to Jesus, a gain to souls, and an act of reparation for the offenses against your heart.

January 16, 2016

Let the storm rage and the sky darken— not for that shall we be dismayed.  If we trust as we should in Mary, we shall recognize in her, the virgin most powerful who with virginal foot did crush the head of the serpent (St. Pius X).

December 12, 2016

“This is what the Virgin of Guadalupe asks of you today: fidelity to the gospel, of which she knew how to be the most eminent example” (Blessed Paul VI).

July 1, 2017

Our Lady said yes for the human race.  Each one of us must echo that yes for our own lives.  We are all asked if we will surrender what we are… and allow Christ to fill the emptiness formed by the particular shape of our life.  The surrender that is asked of us includes complete and absolute trust; it must be like our Lady’s surrender, without condition and without reservation (Caryll Houselander).

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Links of interest…  Association of the Miraculous Medal (AMM): medal’s story & its meaning / prayers for all occasions / virtual tour of the national shrine / votive lights…  CAMM: sermons & novenas videos / vigil lights / who we are…  Deciphering the Guadalupe code…  Love revealed in brokenness…  Mariachis: Cordero de Dios & Pescador de hombres (YouTube)…  Mary: Our model for how to prepare for Christ…  Maternal love of Our Lady & the Church…  Miraculous image of Our Lady of Las Lajas…  Our Lady of Guadalupe: 23.5 degrees of consolationabbey / about / & Advent / arch of triumph / churches: Austin (video) – Brownsville / feast (Dec 12) / mother of the Americas / patroness of the Americas / prayers / queen’s guild / shrine / story / unqualified, uncomplicated consolation / videos / warrior (Bishop Barron)…  Pope Francis: God is waiting for your yes…  St. Juan Diego Guild for children…  Through wind & waves: On being a spiritual guide (Fernández-Carvajal)…  Txichochi Conetzintle (sung for Our Lady of Guadalupe)…  When Lady Day falls on Good Friday…  Who painted it? Remembering Our Lady of Guadalupe…  Woman clothed with the sun (who is)…

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Disquieting moments…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Familiar yet new…  Father’s guided tour…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Lady of sorrowsLourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady’s church…  Promise of hope…  Repeated prayers…  San Juan Diego…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Mary’s…  Time well spent