Serendipity

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About ten years ago I came across a wonderful place online that I immediately longed to visit.  The National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague was in Oklahoma, though— too far from home to just drop by one afternoon— so I did the next best thing.

Way better than Calgon, technology can have us there quicker than one can say, “Take me awaaay!” so I clicked on the link to the shrine’s website and imagined myself there.

Serendipity

On our drive back from Wisconsin last October, Steven changed our route on a whim.  I doubt he even knew why; but we agreed that it would save us time, something we desperately needed, since we’d both been under the weather the entire trip, me with awful nosebleeds that only South Texas sunshine could remedy.  I was sure of that!

Feeling light-headed, I mostly drifted in and out of my wishfulness to be home; so I entertained myself by comparing and contrasting places we drove through, memorizing landforms and landmarks, figuring we wouldn’t be that way again.

Then I saw it!

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  A sign announcing the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague?!!  Oh, my gosh!  I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but I knew I’d read the sign correctly as we’d zipped past it on my right.

Steven wasn’t feeling well at all, so I didn’t want to impose on him by insisting on a detour.  Still, without emotion or expectation, containing myself as much as possible, I quietly muttered, “We just passed a sign to the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus.”

I said nothing more, resumed my koala bear existence, and took in the scenery as I immersed myself in NPR’s political commentary once again.

Okay, I thought.  Another time, maybe.  Right now we just need to get home.

And then, much later on, Steven took an exit.

“Where are we going?  Is something wrong?” I asked.

We were headed to Prague, Oklahoma.

Wowza!  Another long-held, heartfelt wish come true!  I could hardly wait!

St. Wenceslaus Church

Of course, as we’ve discovered during our travels, a shrine is usually, though not always, within a church that serves the parish.  In Chicago, for instance, the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus is at St. Pius V, while the Claretian St. Jude Shrine is at Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Similarly, the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague is housed within St. Wenceslaus, though, really, they are one and the same, wholly synonymous as a singular sacred space for parishioners and visitors alike.

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Letters to Fr. Long Phan

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Prayers

Dearest Christ-child, O divine child, O thou lovely Jesus mine, see thy children would invite thee; come into these hearts of thine.  Yes, we know thy place and grandeur, though thou be but weak and small; for we say with deep assurance, thou art Savior of us all.

Powerful novena…  O Jesus who has said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened,” through the intercession of Mary, your most holy mother, I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.  (State your request.)

O Jesus who has said, “All that you ask of the Father in my name, he will grant you,” through the intercession of Mary, your most holy mother, I humbly and urgently ask your Father, in your name, that my prayer will be granted.  (State your request.)

O Jesus who has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not pass away,” through the intercession of Mary, your most holy mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.  (State your request.)

This novena can be recited at the same time every hour for nine consecutive hours— just one day— or once daily for nine days.

Thanksgiving…  Divine Infant Jesus, I know you love me and would never leave me.  I thank you for your close presence in my life.

Miraculous Infant, I believe in your promise of peace, blessings, and freedom from want.  I place every need and care in your hands.

Lord Jesus, may I always trust in your generous mercy and love.  I want to honor and praise you now and forever.  Amen.

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Contact information

Thanks to Cathy Saccente from St. Mary of Victories Church in St. Louis, MO for the booklet, Novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague (Reverend Harry E. Stitz, 1945), from which I took both the Christ-child rhyme and the novena; and to Sister at the Carmelite Monastery in Goonellabah, Australia for the Relic of the True Crib prayer card.

February 6, 2017

A soul of holiness does not strive for that holiness.  It strives to love, to love wholeheartedly; there lies the difference….  The simple soul loves; that is all (Raoul Plus, SJ in Holy Simplicity).

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Links of interest…  Calgon (commercial)…  Child Jesus: aboutchaplet (more) / devotion / feast / infancy & childhood / meditations / miracles (books) / novena / of good health / photos / questions & answers / reverence / shrine / solemnity…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / artifacts / chaplet / devotion / feast / history / league / novena / of good health (more) / petitions / prayers…  How you & your kids can “become like children”…  National Shrine of the Infant Jesus (Prague, OK): facebook / gentle travelswebsite / YouTube…  NPR…  Practice of the presence of God…  Real mystics love Jesus…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about / chapel / history / miracles / origin / prayers / story (more)…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / feast (more) / history / homily / novena / origin / prayerssong…  St. Wenceslaus: about (more) / king & martyr (more) / memorial (more) / prayer (more) / profile / professing faith / song (about – lyrics – more) / story

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Celebrations…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Faith and prayer…  Forever grateful…  God’s loving mercy…  Making meaning…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  St. Anthony Claret…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

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 St. Pius X can teach us…  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).

June 13, 2017

O the mercy of God!  Never does he refuse to be merciful, but is ever present to those who turn to him (St. Anthony of Padua).

July 6, 2017

When Moses was called to lead the people out of Egypt, God told him, “I will be with you.”  When Joshua was called to lead Israel into the Promised Land, God said to him, “I will be with you.”

In each case, the person was commissioned to take on a difficult task with many risks and challenges.  Often they felt inadequate and ill-prepared.  Nevertheless, God challenged them to step outside their comfort zones and rely on him as never before.  While they may not have felt ready for the job, they were given the one thing they needed most to carry out their task: The Lord would be with them.

We need to hear that message too.  How might God be asking you to rely on him more, to trust that the Lord is truly with you in whatever you might face in your life right (Edward Sri in Praying the Rosary Like Never Before).

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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…  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

Clarisas cookies

An invitation to the bishop’s annual dinner arrived in the mail, and we couldn’t resist— not because we’d never attended, but because we wanted to support “Bishop Danny,” beloved son of the Corpus Christi diocese, especially at St. Paul’s, his home parish, and now calm, confident yet unassuming shepherd of the Brownsville diocese flock.

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Diocesan fundraiser: December 6, 2013

What a cold night to be out and about, but the lively conversations among those of us huddled double-s fashion within the Catholic War Veteran’s foyer warmed our spirits.

Waiting for our passes, we smilingly connected with two young women, Laura and Tracy with Catholic Charities, who invited us to their Spring 2014 event before we made our way through the crowded room to table forty-one.  Then, leaving my coat and bag on our chairs, we headed for the hors d’oeuvres and the silent auction where Item #1331 immediately captivated our curious, collective eye.

This unique, wood carved image of Our Lady, with ivory accents, is simply amazing.  Her face is radiant and motherly.  She adds taste and value to any home or office (Auction book, p. 10).

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Of course, the best part about window shopping all the items on display was seeing Bishop Danny within a few feet from us.  Shaking hands and interacting with anyone who took time from eating and admiring the silent auction items long enough to engage him in conversation, he was relaxed, genuine, celebratory, and— here and there— quietly conducting business as he remained very much in the moment among us.

Precious moments

Steven and I approached Bishop Danny, shared our recollections of him: Sunday Mass on TV while at the Corpus Christi Cathedral; evening Mass at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff during one of his visits from his post in Detroit; meeting his sister, Tess, at St. Joseph’s (where his mom now is parishioner as well, we learned from him); viewing his annual appeal video at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville; and more.

Bishop Danny smiled when I told him I’d enjoyed the story about the crayons he’d received from his niece (or nephew) at Christmas, and he was surprised to hear that we associate him with the Solanus Casey Center.  Spending precious moments with Bishop Danny was wonderful.  We could’ve taken more of his time; but others wanted the same privilege, so we wished him well and continued our browsing.

An unforgettable evening

Not long after we returned to our empty table three women— a mom with two young ladies— took the seats on my left.  We smiled and exchanged introductions.  The more the woman beside me shared about herself, the more we realized we had in common.  We became fast friends in a flash.  How special to learn not only that Josefina’s a retired elementary school teacher, but also a Franciscan laity aspirant!

Steven was otherwise distracted.  Another person had been bidding against him for Item #1331, so he’d gone back and forth to the silent auction area until he was crushed to learn the outcome: The other person had “overbid by a lot right as time ran out.”  And, while we were disappointed, we were also very grateful that someone had wanted Our Lady so much that they’d generously contributed to Bishop Danny’s cause that evening.

The music started after dinner, so talking over the loudness was difficult.  Fina, her daughter, and their friend got up to leave; so I stood to say goodbye.  As we hugged, Fina told me again, “I think God planned for us to meet this evening.”  She’d already jotted her email address down on a napkin, so we agreed to stay in touch.

Ponderings

DBV12613-1377LaAs we waited for the live auction, we were urged to buy cookies.  Certainly, this was a simple distraction compared to what pulled on my heartstrings— the irresistible Santo Niño!

Devotion to the Christ Child under the avocation of “Atocha” originated in the 13th century in Spain and spread to Latin America centuries later.  It is still very popular today.  The plaster statue is over 100 years old.

I consoled myself knowing that I already had a beautiful miniature, but the Santo Niño kept beckoning.

Take me home with you!

Steven was prepared to outbid whomever for Item 1377L “if you really want him.”  But where would we put the Santo Niño? I kept asking myself.  Besides, someone else needs to grow the devotion. 

I prayed that the Child find a good home with a loving family.  Then, to keep the tears from bursting past my eyeballs, I focused on the cookies.

Clarisas cookies

“Not just any cookies!” the evening’s hostess, Letty Garza, KRGV TV news anchor, exuberantly extolled.  “These cookies are the bishop’s favorites!  Aren’t they, Bishop?” she grinned across the room to where Bishop Danny sat.  “You told me they’re your favorite cookies!  These delicious Clarisas cookies are the best I’ve ever eaten!  They’re specially made by the Capuchin Poor Clare nuns in Alamo, TX.  And you have to buy them because they help support the monastery and the chapel they manage.”

“Oh, darling!” I turned to Steven.  “You just have to buy some!  They’re only five dollars a box, and I’ll bet they’re the ones I spied in the shrink-wrapped palette in the silent auction area.  Oh, my gosh!  I’ve been wanting some since I saw them earlier.  Here’s our chance to sample them.”

And that was that.  I didn’t have to sell them further.  Steven got us— um, me— a box that I shared equitably with him.  And, before we even got home to Brownsville, they were pretty much gone.

Yum!  They were good!  Delish, in fact.

CPC12613-1Then reality hit!  I didn’t photograph the cookies!

Of course, once I found (and read) the neatly folded paper carefully taped to the underside of the soft plastic container, I definitely had to know more.  After all, I’d heard about the Poor Clares just once before.  At St. Anthony of Padua Church in Rockford, Illinois in June.  Father Mario had taken St. Anthony’s relics to visit the Poor Clares in the Chicago area before Mass that evening.

I couldn’t believe that the Rio Grande Valley had its own Capuchins!  How did I not know this before? 

I was intrigued!

“When we get back home, I have to contact the Capuchin Poor Clares,” I told Steven.  “We have to go see them!”

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Links of interest…  Breadsmith (Clarisas)…  Catholic diocese of BrownsvilleBishop Daniel E. Flores (2013 – Palm Sunday) / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (725 E. Bowie AVE, Alamo, TX 78516-5500) / Stewardship & Development Office…  Capuchin Poor Clares: monastery…  Cookies, cleaning, & holiness…  Franciscan prayers / requests / saints…  KRGV: Channel 5 News team…  How should a Catholic bishop tweet…  Messenger of St. Anthony (editorials)…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about / chapel / history / miracles / origin / prayers / story (more)…  St. Anthony USA (petitions; portal to Italian website)…  St. Joseph in Franciscan theology

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Angels keeping watch…  Budding relationships…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Connected tangents…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  Heart of hearts…  Lenten reflections…  Prayerful ways…  Revisiting St. Simon…  San Giuseppe…  Sensory overload…  Slice of heaven…  St. Felix…  St. Jude Shrine (Corpus Christi, TX)…  Thanksgiving prayers

Forever grateful

One of my all-time wishes came true this year.  On April 29, Steven took me to the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago; and I made three discoveries: The shrine is actually part of St. Pius V, the church altar changed since I was last there, and St. Jude’s first-class relic is on display.

First visit

I’d never been to Chicago until Christmas break from school, 2003.

The second of our two granddaughters had been dismissed from the hospital just hours before my arrival.  Kylie was so small compared to her older sister at that age that her tiny fingers reminded me of a doll’s hands.  Yet she was alert, observant, communicative in her own quiet way, and beautiful.  Riding in her car seat beside me she focused on me as if she’d known me from birth, October 29, 2003; but we were seeing each other for the very first time.

Acacia-Darling was nine-and-a-half, so I hadn’t been around a little one in some time.  I’d forgotten how resilient babies are, that one can change their diapers without breaking them and that they’re up at all hours of the night just because.  Yet I managed to care for Kylie at night and spent a lot of time being grateful for the opportunity to hold this very special promise of hope for the future.

Then, two nights before my departure to Texas, Kylie wailed so inconsolably for such a long time that she was taken to the hospital again.

I felt terrible when her parents returned home without her in the morning.  Concerned that I wouldn’t be there to take care of her at the hospital, I felt compelled to do something.

“Take me to the nearest church, preferably one dedicated to St. Jude,” I told Kylie’s parents.  I’d attended Mass at two different churches in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago; but I wanted one where I’d feel super close to St. Jude.  I’d never been in Chicago before, but I suddenly remembered the shrine.  “Take me to the St. Jude shrine,”
I insisted, even though none of us knew where it was.

Oh, what a place!

I knew I was home when I saw the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague.  I walked around and dialogued with God.  I knew everything would be all right with Kylie, that we’d get good news when we got back to the hospital.

As things turned out, Kylie spent another two weeks at the hospital.  Quite an agonizing time for me, being that I couldn’t be there to sing, tell her stories, or try to distract her from the constant pain.  To make matters worse, she was hospitalized a third time, although, thankfully, for just one week.  But she’s fine now, this precious, resilient child with the strong, operatic voice and the golden brown, flyaway macaroni hair.

Which shrine?

After my visit to Chicago I continued to receive separate mailings from both the National Shrine of St. Jude and the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, but I never made the distinction between the two.  I never stopped to wonder which of the two shrines I’d visited.  All that mattered was that I’d prayed at the shrine and St. Jude had worked his wonders on Kylie’s behalf, the same as always for my kids.

However, on October 24, 2009, the reality of the two St. Jude shrines came to light when I posted Kylie’s story on my blog.  I wanted to include the link to the shrine’s website so that interested others could access the site but—  Uh-oh.  Which of the two shrines did I visit?  How could I have missed the name of the church?  How could I have been so oblivious all those years?

I wondered if I’d taken photos that I could compare to those posted online.  I vaguely recalled taking a few but found none.  Maybe I’d imagined doing that?  Still, I was sure of one thing: I’d seen the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague in the back of the church that morning.

After problem solving for a while, I emailed the Dominicans.  Then, after waiting a few days, I contacted the Claretians at the national shrine.

Friday, November 27, 2009 11:11 AM

Hello!

I’d like to know, please, which of the two Chicago shrines to St. Jude has an encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague?

Thanks sooo much!

Mystery solved

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 9:21 AM

Dear Deli,

Thank you for your email, [as] the Claretians are always grateful to hear from you who share our devotion to St. Jude.

The encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague is not at the National Shrine of St. Jude.

None of the St. Jude Shrines in the United States are affiliated with each other.  The National Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago, Illinois, founded by the Claretians, is the only St. Jude Shrine with the title “National Shrine” since it is the original or “Mother” Shrine of devotion to St. Jude in the United States.

I encourage you to visit the National Shrine of St. Jude website again soon.  Please know that the Claretians pray with and for you each day.  May God bless you.

Father Mark Brummel, C.M.F.
Director, St. Jude League

I was so excited that I told Steven, “I don’t know when or how, but one of these days I’m going back to the Dominican shrine.  I want to sit and visit for a while and take lots of photos.  I want to see the Infant again.”

Sneak peek

On November 16, 2011, I had my wish.  Well, sort of.

In my search for photos of St. Thérèse, I found a double-bagged stash of two dozen photo packets hidden in one of the closets.  Among them?  The photos from our morning visit to the shrine, January 5, 2004.

How I longed to be there!

           

           

Second visit

Almost eight-and-a-half years passed between visits to Chicago, but what a glorious experience at St. Pius V the second time around!

Nine-fifteen Spanish Mass was extraordinary!  The singing was uplifting!  The babies offered up to God, literally, along with the gifts at the altar had us near tears!  And, oh, the devotions!

To get a better view of everything, especially the shrines of the Holy Infant, St. Jude, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, respectively, we sat along the back left center aisle, which is how I noticed something puzzling.

My big surprise

During Mass the practice of approaching St. Jude’s shrine and praying for a few moments before stepping up onto the alcove intrigued me even though no one else seemed to notice.  What were these folks doing standing to the right of the altar?  Why was it so important that it couldn’t wait until after Mass?

These individuals pressed their hands up to something as they stood heads bowed, lost in thought.  Why?  What was so special about that wall?

I turned to Steven and whispered, “I keep seeing people go up to touch the shrine’s right wall.  I have to know what’s there!  While I take photos of the church after Mass, please check it out and tell me.”

Well, surprise, surprise.

My first time at the church I’d missed one of the very best parts: the first-class relic at the shrine.  The remains of St. Jude’s arm!  Oh, my gosh!  Had it not been for St. Jude’s faithful during Mass I would’ve missed seeing the relic for the second time, and I never would’ve known any better.  Wow!

At that moment I thought of Kylie…  My first time at St. Pius V, I walked around the church as I prayed to God and all his angels and saints.  I stood, tears in check, before St. Jude— my daughter and her husband, nonbelievers, watching my every move, hurrying me wordlessly.  I never saw the sign at the altar with the arrow pointing to the arm relic of St. Jude Thaddeus on the right.

I’d been so desperate for Kylie’s miracle that just being near St. Jude had been good enough.  But I’d also found comfort in seeing the Holy Infant, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Anthony, St. Thérèse, St. Anne, and San Martin de Porres.

           

               

               

Forever grateful

Until our second visit to the shrine I’d never realized that I’ve had my very own, very personal connections to St. Pius V through St. Jude because of the kids and grandkids.

Kylie’s story transcends time, place, and emotion.  Just remembering makes my eyes water and, before long, rivers stream down my face.  What parent wants a child to hurt?  I would gladly have traded places with Kylie, but all I could do was pray— and walk in faith— that her suffering would be short-lived and that she’d never have to endure such misery again.

Acacia-Darling, now eighteen, has a green candle lit among the many at the massive round table before St Jude.

Enjoy God’s infinite blessings!  Love, hope, & faith… Lon

Yet our children are estranged from us, so we keep them close in thought and prayer.  One day things may change.  But, until then, the St. Jude shrine at St. Pius V keeps our hope for better days vibrantly alive.

We have so much to be grateful for!  Our family.  Our friends.  Folks we meet here and there.  Our faith.  Building community within God’s kingdom is what life is all about.

We give thanks and praise to God for all our comings and goings, and we’re forever grateful to St. Jude for all his intercessions.

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Plaque at the shrine

Relic of St. Jude Thaddeus…  Apostle and martyr, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, patron of hopeless causes

This holy relic is that of an arm of the great St. Jude.  Many spiritual blessings and graces have been granted to those who have prayed asking St. Jude to intercede on their behalf to our blessed Lord for spiritual or physical healing.

“Where there is prayer, there is hope.”  St. Jude, pray for us.

History of the relic…  After his martyrdom, the body of St. Jude was buried temporarily in Mesopotamia and then given a permanent interment in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the other apostles.  His forearm was encased in a silver reliquary and located for many centuries in Armenia.  At the beginning of the 18th century, Armenian Dominican missionaries left Armenia because of the Moslem persecution and brought the relic to Smyrna, Turkey.

The relic was then given to the Provincial of the St. Peter Martyr Province of Turin, Italy.  In 1949, it was presented to the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great for its Dominican Shrine of St. Pius V where the devotion of St. Jude was flourishing, particularly since the time of the Great Depression.

This plaque has been given as a personal testimony from a patron of
St. Jude whose family has received marvelous healing through this relic.

Prayers

For peace…  Dear St. Jude, we honor you as an apostle of Christ, a herald of the prince of peace.  You remained faithful to your calling and died a martyr before being reunited with Christ in glory.

Please look down with compassion upon our turbulent world.  Intercede before the throne of grace that the present global turmoil may give way to peace and harmony among all nations.

May we live at peace with one another and serve the Lord Jesus as messengers of his peace as you did.  Amen.

St. Jude, disciple of Jesus, pray for us.  May we become the persons our savior wants us to be.

St. Jude, reigning with Christ in glory, pray for us.  May we bring forth fruit to life everlasting.

St. Jude, advocate of hopeless cases, pray for us.  Remind us that we can conquer evil through Christ who loves us.

For tomorrow…  St. Jude, you are with me in all that is new.  May your path of hope be mine in the days ahead.

I promise in faith to share your hope with others, to forgive as I am forgiven by my Father in heaven, and to show sympathy and kindness at every opportunity.

Guide me, St. Jude, so that I will begin each new day with gratitude on my lips, with truth on my mind, and with hope in my heart.

Challenge me, St. Jude, so that I will end each day reflecting on my actions and motivations so that I will grow in faith, love, and hope.  Amen.

Hopeless cases…  Most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of hopeless cases….  Pray for me; I am so helpless and alone.  Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of.

Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly… and that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.

I promise, O blessed Saint Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to honor you always as my special and powerful patron and, gratefully, to encourage devotion to you.  Amen.

SPV61513-96Impossible cases…  Glorious Saint Jude, with faith in your goodness we ask your help today.  As one of Christ’s chosen apostles, you remain a pillar and foundation of his church on earth.  You are counted, we know, among the elders who always stand before God’s throne.

From your place of glory we know that you do not forget the needs and difficulties of Christ’s little ones here, still struggling, like me on the way home to God.  In particular, I invoke your help with this great problem….  Please intercede for us, gracious Saint Jude, and be with us in our daily toil and in all our necessities.  Amen.

Sharing Christ with others…  St. Jude, apostle and preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ, we thank God for choosing you for this glorious mission.  You saw Jesus face to face, walked and talked with him, and served him without counting the cost.

Pray for us, blessed preacher of the good news that makes even bad news bearable.  May Christ be the center of our lives.  May we welcome every opportunity to share him with others.  This we ask through your powerful intercession.  Amen.

Contact information

St. Jude prayers one and five are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.  Prayer two is from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, P.O. Box 8095, Chicago, IL 60608-0095.  Prayers three and four are from Favorite Patron Saints (The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., pp. 20-21).

July 23, 2013

Lord Jesus, thank you for reaching out your hand to me.  I offer my hands to you.  Use them to reach out to my spiritual family (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 42).

November 16, 2013

Father, in your great kindness you have made me your child.  You know the desires of my heart, and you know what’s best for me and for those I love.  Hear my prayer.  Show me what I can do to bring your kingdom into clearer focus in this situation (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 37).

December 17, 2013

Father, I am amazed that you have called me into your family.  I trust that you have a gracious plan for my life and my family, even if I can’t see it right now.  Lord, I trust in you! (the Word among us, Advent 2013, p. 35).

March 7, 2014

“Stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you” (St. Perpetua).

June 11, 2014

“If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes” (St. Clement of Alexandria).

August 17, 2015

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

November 2, 2015

“The saints assure us that turning to the Lord in our sorrows and placing our hopes in him can give us strength here and now and help prepare us for a future of new life and joy” (Fr. Joseph Esper in More Saintly Solutions).

January 7, 2016

“May the God of love and peace set your heart at rest” (St. Raymond of Peñafort).

August 10, 2016

“Those are patient who would rather bear evils without inflicting them, than inflict them without bearing them” (St. Augustine).

November 26, 2016

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins” (Neale Donald).

March 14, 2017

My hope is not that things will go as I planned, but that the Lord will make himself known, in the faces of my loved ones, in the unexpected joys of family life that pop up right in the middle of our messy chaos, in the ways he provides for me and shows me his tender care in the most detailed ways (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).

May 7, 2017

There is no closer bond than the one which gratefulness celebrates, the bond between giver and thanksgiver.  Everything is a gift.  Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless “yes” to belonging (Brother David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

October 17, 2017

“The loneliness that comes from being hated is one thing, but the loneliness that comes from being misunderstood and dismissed is worse” (Anna O’Neil).

Links of interest…  Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus…  How to pray for your adult children…  Lessons from the reform papacy of St. Pius V (more)…  Love gives suffering reason & purpose…  Pope to Dominicans: Your good works give glory to God…  Praying while waiting…  Sacred Chicago…  St. Jude: chaplet (printable; photo) / novenas (in Spanish, too) / prayers…  St. Pius V: church / directory / parish / shrine

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Connected tangents…  Finding St. Rita…  Holy Cross Church…  Lady of Sorrows…  October novena…  One prayer…  Prayer power…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena (Dominican)…  St. Jude Shrine (Claretian)…  St. Jude Shrine (Corpus Christi, TX)…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelfth

Holy Cross Church

On August 27, our good buddy, Cammie, sent a tantalizing morsel my way.

I had an interesting day yesterday.  Mom and I attended Mass at Holy Cross in Corpus Christi for the very first time, since that’s where one of our former priests now resides.  What a fabulous experience!  The church is small but very old with the most beautiful features, including dark-skinned angels!  And the music!  The choir was jazzy, upbeat, and very uplifting!  Sister Katharine Drexel, who was later sainted, formed that church specifically for people of color!  It was awesome, so I recommend that you visit there sometime!  The church is located at 1109 North Staples (on the other side of the freeway).  Oh, and they sell tacos and menudo in the parish hall after Mass!

I copied Steven on my response to Cammie, so he checked Parishes Online and sent me the link to Holy Cross Church.  We agreed on Sunday Mass at ten o’clock.

Lasting impressions

On our way to the front entrance of the church, we met Father Arul Mathias and Sister Emiliana on the grounds between the parish hall and the side entrance to the church.  Both were all smiles, very genuine.  They graciously welcomed us as if receiving us into their home.  In the few minutes we conversed we learned not only that Father Mathias enjoys listening to Father Xaviour’s homilies on our church blog, but also that he and Sister, like our parish priest, are from India.

           

           

St. Katharine Drexel

After Mass Father Mathias went looking for us, so we could talk a little more before he left to celebrate Mass elsewhere at noon.  Since I was taking photos, he spoke with Steven until he could get my attention.  Father wanted to invite us again to go by the parish hall for breakfast, but he also wanted to tell me about St. Katharine Drexel.

We walked to the back of the church… or the entrance, depending on whether one’s going in or out… as Father pointed to the large painting of St. Katharine on the back wall opposite the confessional.

       

               

“St. Katharine Drexel is responsible for having selected the property on which the church is located,” Father Mathias began.  “She sent sizable contributions so that the church could be built for the people of color in the area, so this church has been here almost one-hundred years.”

“I heard you say during Mass that St. Katharine Drexel had ‘set foot in this very church,’ and I wanted to know more.  Thank you for sharing the rest of the story now!  I read about her in the Word among us not too long ago.”

Lovely surprise

Holy Cross Church celebrated its first Mass in 1914.  The altar is beautifully adorned with statues, which is something I look for in a church; but I love that the Holy Infant of Prague is prominently displayed on the back altar.  I’d never seen the Holy Infant venerated like that before.  Of course, some churches… Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague, Czech Republic and others in Texas: Sacred Heart Church in Brownsville, St. Paul the Apostle Church in Flour Bluff, and Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Corpus Christi… showcase the Infant on a pedestal near the altar or in his own alcove or shrine, but at Holy Cross he’s in full view!

Holy Cross Church

Truly, the church is a veritable gem!  Historic, faith-based, unique.  I only wish that we’d discovered it years back, so we could’ve enjoyed it sooner.

       

     

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Prayers

Child Jesus chaplet…
Divine Infant Jesus, I adore your cross; and I accept all the crosses you will be pleased to send me.  Adorable Trinity, I offer you, for the glory of the holy name of God, all the adorations of the sacred heart of the holy Infant Jesus.

Holy cross…  Lord Jesus, from the height of your throne of suffering you reveal the depth of your love for us.  Lifted up from the world on the cross, you draw everyone to yourself.   The cross is both the symbol and the act by which you raised up the world from all its sin and weakness.  But you also ask for our cooperation.  Help us to die to self so that we may live for you and our fellow human beings.  Set us free from the slavery of our passions, our prejudices, and our selfishness.  Enable us to endure the pains and trials of this life and really help to change the world in our own small way.  Keep before our minds the conviction that in the cross is salvation and life as well as defense against our enemies.  Through the cross heavenly grace is given us, our minds are strengthened, and we experience spiritual joy.  In the cross is the height of virtue and the perfection of all sanctity.  Let us take up our cross and follow you through earthly sorrow into eternal happiness in heaven.  Amen.

Jesus on the cross…  O Jesus, how many ages have you been on the cross and yet people pass by in utter disregard of you except to pierce… your sacred heart?  How often have I passed you by, heedless of your overwhelming sorrow, your countless wounds, your infinite love?  How often have I stood before you not to comfort or console you, but to offend you with my conduct or neglect of you, to scorn your love?

You have stretched out your hands to comfort me, [and] you have loved me [infinitely].  Yet I [take] advantage of that love to sin all the more against you….  My ingratitude has only succeeded in piercing your sacred heart and causing your precious blood to flow forth upon me.

O Jesus, let your blood be not a curse, but a blessing.  Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on me.  Amen.

Most humble San Martin de Porres…  Your burning charity embraced not only the needy brethren, but also the very animals of the field.  Splendid example of charity, we hail you and invoke you!

From that high throne which you occupy, listen to the supplications of your needy brethren so that, by imitating your virtues, we may live contentedly in that state in which God has placed us.  And, carrying our cross with strength and courage, may we follow in the footsteps of our blessed redeemer and his most afflicted mother so that, at last, we may reach the kingdom of heaven through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

O blessed Martin, ask our Lord and his blessed mother to give us the grace of true humility that we may overcome any foolish pride and always be content with the gifts that God gives us.  Obtain for us the light of the Holy Spirit that we may understand, as you did, that pride is a deceit of the devil and that only by doing the will of God can we be really happy.

O blessed Martin, why are our hearts so cold and lacking in love for the son of God who became a little child for our salvation?  Why are we so slow to love the one who loved us so much that he gave his life for our salvation?  Ask God and our Lady of Sorrows to make us realize that the only way to happiness is by loving and serving God, heart and soul.

O blessed Martin, may we learn from you how to be courageous and valiant.  From your life may we learn to avoid idleness and self-seeking.  Obtain for us some of that spirit of penance which you had so that we may be brave in our struggles with temptations.  Ask Jesus Crucified to give us the grace to be victorious in our struggle for salvation.  Amen.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me!  Strengthen me under the pressure of temptation.  Strengthen me when principle is at stake.  Strengthen me to do your will, my God.  Strengthen me in moments of suffering, in times of loneliness, in periods of depression.  Strengthen me that I may never swerve from you, dear Christ, nor weaken through human respect through a desire to be popular, through hope of social distinction.  Strengthen me to accept my cross and carry it generously to the end.  On the battlefield of life, stand by me that I may never prove a traitor in the ranks.  Stand by me that I may not be dazzled by the glitter and glow of the enemy camp.  Amen.

November 3, 2014

Compassion, my dear brother, is preferable to cleanliness.  Reflect that, with a little soap, I can easily clean my bed covers; but, even with a torrent of tears, I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create (St. Martin de Porres).

March 3, 2015

“The patient and humble endurance of the cross— whatever nature it may be— is the highest work we have to do” (St. Katharine Drexel).

September 9, 2015

“Man’s salvation and perfection consists of doing the will of God which he must have in view in all things and at every moment of his life” (St. Peter Claver).

March 3, 2016

“If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to him and them” (St. Katharine Drexel).

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Links of interest…  Catholic prayers…  Come pray the rosary…  Holy Cross Church: aboutdiocese page / online photosparishes online / website…  Holy Infant of Prague…  National Black Catholic Congress…  Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
St. Katharine Drexel: about / biography / blog / book / card / life / miracles / national shrine / novena / patron saint / prayer…  St. Martin de Porres: about / biography / book / brother to his brothersfacts / feast (Nov. 3) / novena / patron (YouTube) / prayers / saint of the broom / who is…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotions / download / fish eaters / for families / for kids / how to do / meditations / origins / prayers (video/music) / printables / puppet show (YouTube) / scriptural (audio) / significance / way of the cross…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Forever grateful…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten reflections…  Noon visit…  Oh, happy day!
On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Santo Niño…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Lenten reflections

Last Sunday we had another golden opportunity to attend eleven o’clock Mass at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff.

I told Steven that I intended to take photos afterwards, since the stained- glass windows are particularly dramatic when the sun brightens the otherwise unlit sacred space.

St. Paul the Apostle Church

We were active parishioners at
St. Paul’s for two-and-a-half years before returning to our home parish here at St. Joseph’s.  Still, we continue to be drawn there for a number of reasons.

Regardless of the time that passes between visits, we’re always welcomed with smiles and hugs as if we’d never left.  We continue to be an integral part of our Why Catholic? family.  We’re also invited to participate in special Masses, prayer meetings, pilgrim rosaries, and— three days this week— the Lenten mission.

Still, what initially beckoned years ago is what tugs at my heartstrings most of all.

St. Paul’s devotion to the Holy Infant of Prague.

Moreover, as recently as two Sundays ago I discovered yet another reason for the church being so uniquely special.

The stained-glass windows are St. Paul’s stations of the cross!

Lenten reflections

Originating in Jerusalem in the fourth century, these Lenten reflections are more than a permanent visual journey with Jesus through the most harrowing time of his life.  These depictions— when we make the time to look, ponder, and truly internalize— are a constant reminder of the crosses that we, too, must proactively engage as we make our way (back) to God.

What matters most in the stations of the cross is to follow Jesus Christ in his passion and to see ourselves mirrored in him.  To face life’s dark side in ourselves and in our world, we need images of hope; and Jesus offers images of hope in his passion.  By accompanying him on the way of the cross, we gain his courageous patience and learn to trust in God who delivers us from evil (Passionist Missionaries, 2002).

                

               

               

               

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Prayers

Before the crucifix…  Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart.  Give me, Lord, a correct faith; a certain hope; a perfect charity, sense, and knowledge that I may carry out your holy and true command.

Holy cross…  We adore your most holy cross, Lord Jesus, for it is the sign of your love.

Through the power of your most precious blood, cleanse us from all our sins and protect us from every Satanic influence.  May a river of peace and reconciliation flow from this place into the parish community, into the Church and into the entire world.  Bless and call into heaven all those who have built this cross.  Bless all those who have prayed before this cross and those who will pray before it, for they are listening to Mary, your mother, who is calling us to pray before the cross because many graces are coming from it.

Be blessed, O Jesus, for by your holy cross you have redeemed us for eternal life.  Amen.   

Jesus Christ crucified…  My good and dear Jesus, I kneel before you, asking you most earnestly to engrave upon my heart a deep and lively faith, hope, and charity with true repentance for my sins and a firm resolve to make amends.

As I reflect upon your five wounds and dwell upon them with deep compassion and grief, I recall, good Jesus, the words the prophet David spoke long ago concerning you: “They have pierced my hands and my feet; they have counted all my bones.”

April 15, 2014

“The remembrance of the most holy passion of Jesus Christ is the door through which the soul enters into intimate union with God, interior recollection, and most sublime contemplation” (St. Paul of the Cross).

September 14, 2014

The glory of the cross… has enlightened all those who were blinded by ignorance.  It has set free all those who were slaves of sin.  It has redeemed the whole human race (St. Cyril of Jerusalem).

March 31, 2015

We must not let our hearts be hardened.  Let us make Calvary echo with the sound of our sobbing.  Let us weep bitter tears for our sins and turn against ourselves with a holy anger.  Let us break all our unworthy habits and leave behind our worldly lives.  Let us carry in ourselves the death of Jesus Christ (Bishop Jacques-Benigne Boussuet, 1627-1704).

April 3, 2015

In the cross we see that Jesus Christ is the victorious Lord” (Fr. Robert Barron).

October 17, 2015

He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest.  He who rose for our sake is my one desire (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

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Links of interest…  5 reasons you should love (not hate) St. Paul…  Easter/Lent (meditations)…  His heart was pierced for us…  Holy Week: 1st four days / Triduum…  Lent & Christ’s thirst for us…  Origin of the wood of the cross…  Pilate said to him…  Prayer before the cross / a crucifix…  Praying Lent…  Resurrection (YouTube)…  St. Francis…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / parishes online / website…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotions / fish eaters / for families / for kids / how to do / origins / prayers / printables / puppet show (YouTube) / significance / way of the cross…  Were women at the Last Supper…  Why churches have stained glass windows…  Word on Fire (Fr. Barron)…

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Beloved joyful priest…  Concrete abstraction…  Connected tangents…  Dear God…  Growing pains…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten resources…  Prayerful ways…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Seven dwelling places…  Simple yet profound…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret