St. Michael chaplet

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Steven and I first met Fr. Tito Ayo, SOLT at Sam and Ning’s annual pilgrim rosary, May 2011, and found his dry wit most refreshing.

“You remind me of my very special friend, Fr. Carmelo Fonseca,” I told Fr. Tito.  “We met as volunteers in the Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) in Matamoros, Mexico, July 1966.  I wish you could meet him!”

Long-lost friend

Carmelo and I were among a bunch of idealistic spring chickens back when— he a young seminarian, me a naïve green bean— but we remained close friends even though we lost contact with each other almost immediately after our month of service.

Carmelo visited mom off and on and one day left his address for me.  Regrettably, I misplaced it without having written even one letter!  Still, I never forgot and always longed to find him to the point of tearfully imploring not just St. Anthony’s intercession, but also that of all the angels and saints over the years.

Blogging buds

So what was the connection between Fr. Tito and Carmelo? I wondered.

Aside from the obvious, the only common trait I could attest to was their mischievous sense of humor.  Maybe Fr. Tito and Carmelo shared other attributes?  But what really impressed me about Fr. Tito was his eagerness to start a blog on WordPress (WP).

OLCC7916-25aSteven and I couldn’t believe that he wanted to come over to the house for a day of intensive yet friendly tutoring when no one else had been even remotely interested!

What a fun, productive day we had!  Fr. Tito was relaxed, down to earth, and funny, as well as bright, well-organized, and self-motivated!  He set up his WP blog in no time, and we’ve followed him ever since.  (See “reflections” widget in right sidebar.)

Coincidences?

Later that year Fr. Tito emailed to share his good news: The bishop had assigned him to St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Banquete, TX.

“That’s wonderful!” I responded.  “I can hardly wait to take photos of your church for my blog!”

Then we lost track of time until I had my own good news to share.  I’d serendipitously discovered Carmelo’s address, June 2012!  I couldn’t believe it’d been under my nose for years, so well-kept that it’d remained hidden from view with other important papers in a large ziplock bag crammed between books on a low shelf near my workspace.  I was so deliriously overjoyed that I laughed and cried.  Until reality set in.

The address might not even be valid anymore! 

As I searched for Carmelo’s name online, a duh moment left me totally stunned!  Why hadn’t I done this sooner?!!!

I laughed aloud when I located Carmelo’s address: Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel, Diaz Ordaz, Mexico! 

How sweet to discover that both Carmelo and Fr. Tito were connected to St. Michael through their parishes!  I immediately wrote my letter and mailed it the following day so I could hope for a quick reply.  (I had no way of knowing the significance of the date: Carmelo had been ordained June 18, 1971!  On mom’s birthday, no less!)

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St. Michael chaplet

More than two years passed before Steven and I finally got around to Sunday Mass at St. Michael’s, September 7, 2014.  Steven had checked the church website in advance and learned that parishioners pray the St. Michael chaplet before Mass.  He’d even printed the prayers from EWTN for us to join in, but I had difficulty keeping up with the devotion.  I felt no sense of ownership!

Interacting with Fr. Tito and his parishioners that morning made me wonder about Carmelo’s church community.  Did they also pray the St. Michael chaplet before Mass?

I really missed Carmelo!  Our letter exchanges had been filled with eager anticipation for lively conversations in what he’d hoped would be the near future.  Only God trumped our plans.  Carmelo was called home on June 26, 2014— just eight days after the forty-third anniversary of his ordination— so our visits would have to wait a bit longer.

Enjoying the drive home from Banquete gave me time to reminisce, reflect, and think.  Since May 2008, I’d developed an ongoing fascination with St. Michael but didn’t know why.  Maybe because the name and its variants are popular among both genders within our small family?  What other reason could there be? I wondered.

The “saints” page that I’d started for the blog came to mind as well as the leaflets and prayer cards received over the years from Franciscan Mission Associates, mostly, but also from other sources.  And Sr. Bernadette, OCD had sent me a St. Michael chaplet with the prayers too.  Only I didn’t gravitate to those!  Too uninviting!

I’d placed the chaplet by the praying Mary statue that Sr. Encarnación, OP had given me years before.  If I saw the chaplet every day, might I be inclined to pray with it?  Probably not.  Still, I sensed St. Michael beckoning to me with growing constancy.  But why?  How could I embrace the prayers if I couldn’t relate to the chaplet?  The colors were drab; the words, archaic.  Missing was the joyful presentation!

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On our way from Banquete the dilemma resolved itself.  I visualized a color-coded gold-blue-red St. Michael chaplet.  So, once home, I not only beaded the prototype, but also created the accompanying prayer cards.  Then, having bought the medals, I delighted in making the chaplets and printing the cards to share with others to grow the devotion.

Spending quality time with St. Michael has been so much fun!

Beaded samples

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StM-a  StM-archangel  StM-guardian  StM-b

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Oh, dear Michael, you are the keeper of justice and goodwill.
Please watch over me that I may make sound decisions in my life,
and help me not to stray off the path of righteousness
(St. Michael medal; edited).

Prayers

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For divine guidance…  Enlighten our minds, O Lord, by your shining radiance.  Then, we can see how best to act and may have the needed strength to do so.  Through Christ, our lord, your son, we ask this gift.  Amen.

For special friends…  You flood the hearts of all the faithful, O God, with the gifts of love by the grace of the Holy Spirit.  Give health of mind and body to all our friends for whom we entreat your favor.  May they love you with all their strength and be always pleasing to you in every way.  Through Jesus Christ, our lord, your son, we ask this blessing.  He it is who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the same spirit, one God, for all the ages to come.  Amen.

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Contact information

The two prayers above (Retreat Booklet, B-20) and the St. Michael Archangel leaflets and cards are from Fr. Primo, OFM at Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0598.  The two sources below are from Miniature Stories of the Saints (Lord, 1943, pp. 26-27) and The Pieta Prayer Booklet (MLOR Corporation, 1996, p. 56).

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St. Michael the Archangel – Banquete, TX

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Thanks to Letty Garcia, parish secretary pictured above with Fr. Tito,
for graciously assisting me when I’ve contacted the office.

May 26, 2015

Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in the good life.  Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits
(St. Philip Neri).

September 29, 2016

The angels lead the soul to the peaks of the spiritual life.  In revealing the beauty of God, they awaken in the soul a more burning thirst for union with him (Jean Danielou, The Angels and Their Mission).

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Links of interest…  Angels: about (more) / book / choirscreation (more) / holy angels / servants of God / spiritual lifestories…  Archangels: feast (more) / Gabriel / Michael / Michael, Gabriel, St. Raphael / mightynovenas / prayers: for protection – in a time of terror & grief – to St. Michael / Raphael (joyful friend) / rosary / Uriel / seraphimseven…  Christian angelic hierarchy (book – more)…  For God & country (book / more)…  Fr. Tito Ayo: Hope in the word (Sunday reflections) One word. Only hope.
(blog) / SOLT / St. Michael’s…  Franciscan Mission Associates: contact / devotional saintslight a candle / prayer requests / quarterly newsletter / saint & prayer of the month / who we are…  Guardian angel: about (more) / badge / chaplet / eight things to know & share about the guardian angelmemorial / prayers (for humanity – more – special)…  Keeping it Catholic (more)…  Lessons from a monastery: hospitality…  Our Lady, queen of angels (miracles / novena)…  Padre Carmelo Fonseca: LAMP / obituary / San Miguel Arcángel: facebook – parish…  Prayer to St. Michael: Our defense in daily battle…  Rosaries & chaplets: collection / eleven / for the sick & dying / maker’s guide / pictures & prayers / St. Michael (YouTube) / various…  Social media…  There’s dynamite in praise (Gossett, 1974): about / book (more) / miracle healing testimonies…  We are called to be angels

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Call of service…  Familiar yet new…  Making meaning…  Mary’s seven joys…  Promise of hope…  Quiet prayer time…  Si quaeris miracula…  Sweet Jesus…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Two angels

Angels all around

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A lifetime ago I taught a CCE class at St. Mary’s back home.  I wanted so much to be an angel— not a saint, an angel— that I mentioned this tasty morsel to the other catechists at our Christmas luncheon.

The director, who overheard, chided me.

Don’t you know that angels were never human?  That they’re nothing more than God’s helpers?  That God loves us infinitely more than angels?  You should want to be a saint instead!

I was crushed!

Field of angels

That night I dreamt I was standing in a field at dusk.  The flapping sounds all around me kept getting louder and louder.  I wondered if I was standing at the airport near mom’s house.  Then, lo and behold, what a sight!

What joy!  What awe!

As evening became nighttime more and more angels were landing all around me.  Lots of angels.  A whole field full of angels gracefully landing and lifting off.  Some my height, others much taller.  All willowy.  All with the same peaceful yet intense expression.  All so very elegant, purposeful.  All so very real!

I had no idea what was happening.  I was awestruck to be in the presence of these gorgeous beings that were either oblivious to my standing in their midst or accepting of me as I was.

I remember facing west, and when I turned to my right, there— not two feet from me— stood the most beautiful angel ever!  He must’ve been eight to ten feet tall, wearing a resplendent white gown with a bright, teal-colored satin sash.  His hair was brown; his face, masculine yet soft-featured.  He emanated self-confidence and was so focused that he didn’t even turn to look at me.  He straightened his sash as we stood in total silence except for the flapping all around of wings spanning eight to ten feet or more.

Standing beside him I sensed that he commanded the others.  Yet, they were so proficient that they needed no reminders about their duties and responsibilities.  I wondered if they were working in shifts, since they came and went at different times.  Had they returned for the night?  Were those departing called out on emergencies?

Two angels

A few years later when I taught CCE at Christ the King, Bennye, a fourth grader, gave me a book, There’s Dynamite in Praise (Gossett, 1974), which included a story about two angels.

I thought about my dream.  Maybe those steadfast angels landing all around me had indeed returned to heaven after having spent their day on earth.

It was during this time, too, that the catechists at Christ the King would gather ’round Sister Jovita to talk after Tuesday night’s middle school CCE classes.

One plus three or twelve

“Have you ever wanted to meet your guardian angel?” I asked.

The catechists in our small group hadn’t given the notion any thought, but I was so excited that I had to share my dream.

“I did, and I have!  I even wrote about it in my journal.  My guardian angel’s name is Brwyn, spelled with all consonants.  I met him as he walked down a dirt path with his ‘three assistants,’ but he can summon ‘a dozen more if they’re needed.’  He’s stocky and robust with a strong yet gentle voice, and he assured me that I’m very well protected.”

“Are you familiar with Andrew Greeley?” Sister asked.

None of us had heard of Greeley, so Sister told us he’d written about angels.

“I’ll check Waldenbooks,” I told her but never found that particular title.

Although I forgot about the book, my recollection of the dream remains unchanged and just as vivid.  I see the old castle on the low, somewhat grassy hill in the distance as Brwyn and two or three others make their way down the well-trodden pathway.  I’m reminded of Robin Hood with his forest-green outfit, leggings, and dark-brown suede boots.  Brwyn is clearly in charge, speaking to the others here and there.  I’m so taken with him that I don’t notice his wings.  Are they folded back so that I can’t see them? 

Without a doubt, then or now, Brwyn is my guardian angel.  What a dream come true!

Angels all around

My dreams were truly unforgettable; the angels, very real.  It’s easier to share what I felt than to describe what I saw.  I can readily visualize the scenes, but the words take time.  For this reason, I was tempted to scour through my journals to look for the angel entries, but that’d be a lengthy process.

To this day I still look for the tall angel when I come across angel sites, prayer cards, and literature on angels.  In fact, my sister gave me Angels (Underhill, 1994) because of the teal-colored angel on the cover, but I didn’t find my angel in the book.

I haven’t given up, though.

One of these days I’ll find the angel in white with the teal satin sash but, ’til then, I’ll enjoy my gift angels all around as reminders of the field of angels in my dream.

          

            

                 

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Prayers

For protection…  My guardian angel, faithful and strong in virtue, you are one of the angels led by St. Michael who overcame Satan and his followers.  That battle, which one day took place in heaven, now continues on earth.  The prince of evil and his followers oppose Jesus Christ and try to ensnare souls.

Pray to the Immaculate Queen of the Apostles of the Church, the city of God which fights against the city of Satan.  St. Michael the Archangel, together with your followers, defend us in battle.  Be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil.  May the Lord subdue him!  And you, prince of the heavenly host, thrust back into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.

Guardian angel…  Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side… to light, to love, to be my guide.

O most faithful companion, appointed by God to be my guardian who never leaves my side, how shall I thank you for your faithfulness and love and for the benefits which you have obtained for me?

You watch over me when I sleep, comfort me when I’m sad, avert the dangers that threaten me, and warn me of those to come.  You withdraw me from sin and inspire me to good.  You exhort me to penance when I fall and reconcile me to God.

I beg you not to leave me.  Comfort me in adversity, restrain me in prosperity, defend me in danger, and assist me in temptations.

Offer up in the sight of the Divine Majesty my prayers and petitions and all my works of piety.  Help me to persevere in grace until I come to everlasting life.  Amen.

Mother to her children’s guardian angels…  I humbly salute you, O you faithful, heavenly friends of my children!  I give you heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness you show them.  At some future day I shall, with thanks more worthy than I can now give, repay your care for them and before the whole heavenly court acknowledge their indebtedness to your guidance and protection.  Continue to watch over them.  Provide for all their needs of body and soul.  Pray, likewise, for me, for my husband, and my whole family, that we may all one day rejoice in your blessed company.  Amen.

October 2, 2012

The angels, wherever they may be sent, never stop gazing upon God.  In the same way, the virtuous person, as much as he can, always keeps the memory of God in his heart (St. Bonaventure, 1217-1274).

Make yourself familiar with the angels and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you” (St. Francis de Sales, 1567-1622).

October 2, 2013

Thank you, Father, for sending an angel to watch over me.  May I come to share your life with all the angels, singing your praises forever! (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 22).

September 3, 2014

The only true riches are those that make us rich in virtue.  Therefore, if you want to be rich, beloved, love true riches.  If you aspire to the heights of real honor, strive to reach the kingdom of heaven.  If you value rank and renown, hasten to be enrolled in the heavenly court of the angels (Pope St. Gregory the Great).

October 2, 2014

For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go.  With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:11–12).

“The whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 334).

November 21, 2014

“You will become a saint by complying exactly with your daily duties” (St. Mary Joseph Rossello).

June 16, 2015

He who believes himself to be a saint is a fool.  Genuine saints always look upon themselves as the worst sinners.  And, when our Lord grants a favor through their prayers, they credit such favors to this or that saint, whereas their own faith was largely responsible for them (St. John Bosco).

July 7, 2015

Ask Jesus to make you a saint.  After all, only he can do that.  Go to confession regularly and to Communion as often as you can (St. Dominic Savio).

May 5, 2016

Do you wish to rise?  Begin by descending.  You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds?  Lay first the foundation of humility.  It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels (St. Augustine).

July 6, 2016

“He said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you to make your journey successful'” (Genesis 24:40).

October 2, 2016

“If we could only see the joy of our guardian angel when he sees us fighting our temptations” (St. John Vianney).

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Blue angel mascot – Immaculate Conception School – Brownsville, TX

Links of interest…  Angels: about (more) / book / chaplet / choirs / creation (more) / prayers & more / servants of God / spiritual life / stories…  Archangels: feast (more) / Gabriel / Michael / Michael, Gabriel, St. Raphael novenas / prayers for protection & to St. Michael / Raphael (joyful friend) / rosary / Uriel / seven…  Crises of saints…  Fear not: Angels we have heard on high / Guardian angel: about (more) / badge / chaplet / eight things to know & share about the guardian angel / memorial / prayers: for humanity – litany & more – more – special)…  Keeping it Catholic (more)…  Our Lady, queen of angels (miracles / novena)…  Lessons from a monastery: hospitality…  Rosaries & chaplets: collection / for the sick & dying / maker’s guide / pictures & prayers / various…  There’s dynamite in praise (Gossett, 1974): about / book (more) / miracle healing testimonies…  Time for Christian heroes…  We are called to be angels…  What humans can do that angels can’t

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Prayer and praise…  St. Mary’s…  St. Michael chaplet…  Two angels

Angels keeping watch

Icons of spiritual loved ones and old churches have fascinated me since I was a child; so it’s understandable that the two angels on either side of the Madonna and her Child in the left alcove at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville, TX have tugged at my heartstrings for a lifetime.

     

forevermore

devoted angels
love’s guardians
winged, hands clasped, bent on one knee
you’re so still yet so real
what thoughts abound as you keep watch
dare I whisper a request
pray for him
console him
kiss his sweet head
embrace him
bless his soul
he’ll always be God’s gift to me

© Lanoux

Heaven on earth

As often as I could, I visited the church on my off time from work and attended noon Mass.  I was enthralled by both the organ playing and the singing, responsibilities that Charles inherited when his grandmother retired as music director.  Many times while praying the music was so heavenly that I felt myself float at least a foot off the kneeler! 

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I got to know Father Lanese, a spry seventy-something-year-old with twinkling clear blue eyes and a gentle disposition; Father Moran who had a humanistic view toward our personal frailties, “the sins of our youth;” and Father Sheehan (beside Acacia-Darling) with whom I had long talks about family and future goals and with whom I continue to correspond.

Connectedness

Even if Segy and I hadn’t been parishioners at Immaculate, I still would’ve had a sense of belonging that I’ve never felt elsewhere.  Maybe this stemmed from having attended daily Mass there as a first grader across the street?  Or maybe because of the combined scent of incense and times long past? 

The streamed chanting certainly made me want to stay a very long time.  I felt very much at peace there, but teaching and my university course load kept me extremely busy.  My soul ached for the church when I couldn’t be there.

Angels keeping watch

ICC81411-44Finally, on April 29, 2003, I had an epiphany: I took my Advantix with me to work, drove to the cathedral after school, and snapped photos to my heart’s content.

From that day on I stopped missing the place.  Now I only have to look at the three framed photos on our refrigerator door to be whisked back not only to the cathedral that afternoon, but also to the many times spent with the angels keeping watch since I was a five-year-old at Immaculate Conception School.

Prayers to St. Gerard

For a mother with child…  O almighty and everlasting God, through the Holy Spirit you prepared the body and soul of the glorious virgin, Mary, to be a worthy dwelling place of your divine son.  Through the name of the Holy Spirit you sanctified St. John the Baptist while still in his mother’s womb.  Hear the prayers of your humble servant who implores you, through the intercession of St. Gerard, to protect me from the dangers of childbearing and to watch over the child with which you blessed me.  May this child be cleansed by the saving water of baptism and, after a Christian life on earth, may we, both mother and child, attain everlasting bliss in heaven.  Amen.

For motherhood…  O good St. Gerard, powerful intercessor before the throne of God, wonder worker of our day, I call upon you and seek your help.  While on earth you always fulfilled God’s designs.  Help me always to do God’s holy will.  Please ask the master of life from whom all parenthood proceeds, to bless me with offspring that I may raise my children to God in this life and heirs to the kingdom of God’s glory in the life to come.  Amen.

Special act of sorrow

Forgive me my sins, O Lord.  Forgive me my sins: the sins of my youth, the sins of my age, the sins of my soul, the sins of my body, my idle sins, my serious voluntary sins, the sins I know, the sins I have concealed for so long that they are now hidden from my memory.

I am truly sorry for every sin, mortal and venial, and for all the sins of my childhood up to the present hour.

I know my sins have wounded your tender heart, O my Savior.  Let me be freed from the bonds of evil through the most bitter passion of my Redeemer.

O my Jesus, forget and forgive what I have been.  Amen.

January 15, 2015

“It is human to fall, but angelic to rise again” (Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier).

March 1, 2015

Go to Jesus….  He is on the altar surrounded by angels adoring and praying.  Let them make some room for you, and join them in doing what they do (St. Mary Joseph Rossello).

September 29, 2015

The angels lead the soul to the peaks of the spiritual life.  In revealing the beauty of God, they awaken in the soul a more burning thirst for union with him (Jean Danielou, The Angels and Their Mission).

July 16, 2016

Don’t forget your childhood prayers, learned perhaps from your mother’s lips.  Say them each day with simplicity, as you did then (St. Josemaría Escrivá, The Way).

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Sacred Heart Church – Nacogdoches, TX

Pdf file…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral (guide, 6 pages)

Links of interest…  Angels: about (more) / book / choirs / creation (more) / holy angels / servants of God / stories…  Catholic diocese of Brownsville TX…  Guardian angel: about (more) / badge / chaplet / eight things to know & share about the guardian angel / memorial / prayers (for humanitymore / special)…  Icons & sacred images…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral (ICC): historical landmarks (#38/39) / national registry / parishes online …  Our Lady: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page prayers (miracles / more / novena / queen of angels) / untier of knots

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Beautiful sacred space…  Connected tangents…  Dear God…  Gifts    Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  Gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Home again…  Memory lane…  Mourning joy…  Picturing God…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Soulful…  St. Michael chaplet…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels…    Two takes

Two angels

Every day at dawn God sends two angels to earth.  One angel holds a basket for petitions; the other, for thanksgiving and praise.  Then at dusk the two angels return home to heaven.

Which basket do you think is fuller at day’s end?

We always ask and ask without thinking to thank and praise.  Yet it’s this small change in one’s mindset that makes all the difference.

“When we praise the Lord, THEN increase, abundance, provisions come and God shall bless us”
(Gossett, 1974, p. 43).

August 9, 2012

Lord, I put aside my worries, and I rejoice in you!  I praise you for all that you have done for me! (the Word among us, July/August 2012, p. 66).

October 24, 2012

Jesus, you have done so much for me.  I come before you right now with praise and thanksgiving! (the Word among us, October 2012, p. 47).

June 2, 2014

“When you approach God in prayer and praise do you remember just who he is, the creator and sustainer of all things?” (Bible Study Tools).

October 20, 2015

If we spent time each day thanking God, we would hardly be able to get angry at him.  Instead we tend to take for granted the gifts we have.  For these, we should thank God unceasingly (Fr. T. G. Morrow, STD, Overcoming Sinful Anger).

November 24, 2015

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7).

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Immaculate Conception Cathedral – Brownsville, TX

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Links of interest…  Angels: about (more) / book / creation (more) / holy angels / servants of God / stories…  Archangels: feast (more) / Gabriel / Michael / Michael, Gabriel, St. Raphael novenas / prayers (for protection / to St. Michael) / Raphael / rosary / Uriel / seven…  Give glory to his praise  Guardian angel: about (more) / badge / chaplet / eight things to know & share about the guardian angel / memorial / prayers (for humanitymore / special)…  Keeping it Catholic (more)…  Little book of holy gratitudelitany of Thanksgiving…  Our Lady, Queen of Angels (miracles / novena)…  Rosaries & chaplets: collection / for the sick & dying / maker’s guide / pictures & prayers / various…  Sacrifice of praise…  Praising & thanking God, now & forever…  There’s dynamite in praise (Gossett, 1974): about / book (more) / miracle healing testimonies

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Faith and prayer…  Prayer and praise…  Prayerful ways…  St. Michael chaplet…  Thanksgiving prayers