Familiar yet new


“Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, so I’m calling to invite you to a very special Mass at the Corpus Christi Cathedral at 10 A.M.,” Father Tito told me.  “One of the Sisters will be making her final promise, so I thought you might want to be part of the celebration.”

“Oh, yes.  Of course,” I thought aloud, recalling Saturday’s readings and prayers from the Word among us posted on our church blog.  “South Texas Catholic had an article on the four Sisters taking their final vows recently.  So someone else is doing it tomorrow?  How wonderful!  Anytime Our Lady’s special day comes up is great cause for rejoicing.”

At that moment I realized that I knew nothing more about the day’s significance.  I mean, I had wondered but I just hadn’t made the time to learn more about it.

“Tomorrow is also the anniversary of the SOLTs,” Father continued, “so it’s a doubly special day.”

Blogging buds

Every first Sunday in May Sam and Ning, part of our church family from St. Paul’s, host a pilgrim rosary at their home to celebrate Sam’s birthday and their wedding anniversary.  They  are such a popular couple that their house quickly fills with close friends and friends of friends, interesting people involved in the various ministries.

This time around Steven and I met another of Sam and Ning’s friends and his guest, Father Tito— white shirt on the right— a SOLT missionary from the Philippines.

The more we talked the more Father’s quick wit impressed us but, when he mentioned his blog?  Oh, my gosh.  I knew that his zeal for challenges had bonded us for sure.  And, when he stated his genuine interest in switching his blog to WordPress and asked if I’d be willing to tutor him, I teasingly elevated him from spring chicken to pollito to padrecito— the latter my term of endearment for him that in (the lisped) Castilian Spanish sounds like Padre Tito.


So, two months later when Father called with his invitation to the Sisters’ celebration at the cathedral, I didn’t know how to tell him that we’d already made other plans.  I knew he’d be disappointed regardless of what I said, so I eased into my explanation by thanking Padre Tito for his thoughtfulness.

“Steven and I are leaving for Brownsville tomorrow.  We’ll be attending five o’clock Mass at a place we’ve never been, so we’re really looking forward to the experience.”

Padre Tito and I agreed that there’s always next year and conversed a while longer until Father’s very long day took its toll.  Then we quickly bid each other well, blessed each other, and said goodnight.

A church nonetheless

The following morning in Brownsville, we drove down Alton Gloor and passed the future site of The Lord of Divine Mercy Church where we’d seen the groundbreaking preparation— tarp, chairs, fresh mound of soil— exactly one week before.

Six years had passed since I’d first met Father Franco on the church parking lot at
St. Mary’s, but I still remembered our meeting clearly.  Hurricane Rita had been en route to the Texas coast that afternoon, but I’d shown up anyway for the meeting about the new church and had remained until Father had determined that no one else would be attending.  Then we’d gone our separate ways and hadn’t seen each other since.  Still, I’d occasionally wondered about the progress of the church.

All week we’d eagerly awaited Saturday evening Mass at the  elementary school cafeteria on the opposite end of the road we were traveling.  All week we’d asked (pondered) the same questions that come up every single time we’ll be at a church other than ours.  Will the church members be friendly?  Inclusive?  Will we like the place enough to revisit?  To be parishioners?

Brown scapular

After Mass a young woman, Laura, gave us a brown scapular and a two-page printout to commemorate the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

LDM71711a        2nd-2b        LDM71711b

One comment led to another and soon we were talking nonstop as Laura continued to dole out the lovely treasures to parishioners and visitors exiting the school cafeteria.

Unexpectedly, Our Lady of Mount Carmel had touched our lives even before the brown scapular had introduced us; so I told Laura about Father Tito’s invitation to the nun’s final promise, and she told me about her work within the church.

“Our meeting was no accident,” Laura kept insisting.

We agreed to stay in touch, since Laura’s gathering resources for her ministries.  Then we spoke with Eddie, whom we’d met before Mass.

Such nice folks, I thought.  Eddie, Laura, and a couple of others with whom we’d interacted had certainly made us feel welcome.  And I was tickled pink for the special mementos— the scapular and the prayers— from our time together at Mass that evening.        

Familiar yet new

Having said our goodbyes, my mind raced to a long ago  Christmas gift from mom, a sturdy floral box that holds my prayer cards and other such keepsakes, on the floor by my computer desk.

I could hardly wait to look through my stash for the brown scapular I’d stored away since mom bought it for William’s first communion in 1984.

To have had this very special promise in my possession all these years and not know anything about it until Padre Tito and Laura came along was simply incredible.


Flos Carmeli…  O beautiful flower of Carmel, most fruitful vine, splendor in heaven, holy and singular, who brought forth the Son of God still ever remaining a pure virgin… assist me in this necessity.  O star of the sea, help and protect me!  Show me that you are my mother.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you!

Mother and ornament of Carmel, pray for us!
Virgin, flower of Carmel, pray for us!
Patroness of all who wear the scapular, pray for us!
Hope of all who die wearing the scapular, pray for us!
St. Joseph, friend of the sacred heart, pray for us!
St. Joseph, chaste spouse of Mary, pray for us!
St. Joseph, our patron, pray for us!
O sweet heart of Mary, be our salvation!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel…  Most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.  Star of the sea, help me and show me that you are my mother.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, queen of heaven and earth, I humbly beg you from the bottom of my heart to help me in this necessity, as there are none that can withstand your power.  Show me that you are my mother.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.  (Say three times.)

Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands.  (Say three times.)


July 16, 2014

Queen and Beauty of Mount Carmel, Virgin of the solitude, in the wilderness of Carmel lies the world’s eternal good.  Draw us to its deep seclusion and make God alone our goal in the mystical Mount Carmel that lies hidden in the soul (Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD).

August 8, 2016

“One day, through the rosary and the scapular, Our Lady will save the world”
(St. Dominic).

Meeting Fr. Tito Ayo – Sam & Ning’s pilgrim rosary – May 1, 2011

Links of interest…  Brown scapular: about / brochure / devotion / directives / fish eaters / free / gift / history / just a Catholic “lucky charm”laminated / meaning / our lady’s protectionpromise / prayers / sign of devotion (more) / spirit / to buy (more) / two prayers…  Carmelites: Meditations from Carmel (blog)…  Corpus Christi Cathedral: diocese (facebook) / home / landmark / marker / parishes online / TV Mass…  Discover the secrets of the scapular…  History of the scapular…  Lord of Divine Mercy Parish: about / facebook / Mass times / website…  Our Lady of Mount Carmel: about / history / honoringJuly 16 / novena / order / poetry & prayer / prayer request…  Father Tito Ayo: SOLT / blog…  South Texas Catholic…  St. Simon Stock: about / & Mary / biography / icon / liturgy / May 16 / prayers / relic / shrine / tomb…  Under the scapular…  the Word among us…  Year of prayer: 365 rosaries

WP posts…  Fatima prayers…  May flowers…  Noon visit…  Quiet prayer time…  Seven dwelling places…  St. Michael chaplet