Merry Christmas

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November 30, 2016, we received this year’s invitation from the Capuchin Poor Clares at the St. Joseph and St. Rita Monastery and committed to Christmas Eve Mass as before.

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Again, as on Christmas Eve 2015, we showed up early to relish every heartfelt gift— the singing, the rosary, Mass, and lots of photo ops— thanks to the Sisters, the altar servers, the deacon, concelebrants Bishop Emeritus Reymundo Peña and Fr. Juan Manuel Salazar, and everyone eager for a very special Capuchin Christmas.

Christmas Eve homily

Today we celebrate the birthday of Jesus.  Hoy celebramos el cumpleaños del Señor Jesús, nuestro Salvador; nuestro Dios; en el cielo, Jesucristo, Jesús.

En estos tiempos de festividades, tenemos muchas tradiciones y ¿cómo lo celebramos?

Con las amistades, los vecinos, y especialmente con nuestras familias que vienen de todas partes.  Y en este poquillo de alegría, pues celebramos compartiendo estas cosas que nos une.  O sea la familia, el gran amor que tenemos unos a los otros.  Entonces este tiempo están juntos.  Están llenos de la presencia de muchos conocidos y sencillos, pero también este tiempo de navidad tiene que ser una porción de contradicción.  Contradictions.  ¿Porque?

Porque también en este tiempo puede invitar pensamientos, sentimientos de soledad y tristeza porque tal vez hay un ser querido que ha fallecido recientemente y es la primer navidad en que no lo tenemos con nosotros.  Es un momento de verdadera tristeza.  Tal vez hay un pleito en la familia y no se han reunido en esta ocasión por el mal entendimiento o el pleito que tienen.  También puede ser una ocasión de soledad o tristeza en este tiempo de navidad.

Igual el nacimiento de Jesús es una ocasión de contradicción.  Porque al momento de ser rey de reyes no encuentran lugar donde posturarse por la noche, Jesús, María, y José.  Y, donde estando solos, los ángeles mismos invitan gente para ser testigos de la ocasión de su nacimiento.  Y, aunque son pobres, llegan los reyes magos ¿no? exquisitos, y presentan regalos.

Entonces en este tiempo el Príncipe de Paz, como la primera lectura nos dice, ha nacido.  Pero en la noche en ese tiempo también el rey Herodes busca su vida.  No hay paz.  Y a la vez tiene su hogar; su país; y muy, muy grande otro país cerquito.

Que tristeza ¿no? pero José y María no pierden la esperanza porque tienen todo en Jesucristo, hijo de Dios.  Y, en eso, Jesús por eso vino porque el entra en nuestra miseria.  El entra a nuestro dolor y tristezas y él se entrega.  El viene a darnos un regalo, el regalo de su presencia, el regalo de su cuerpo y sangre.

Y les digo esto porque por mientras que todos nosotros entramos este mundo para vivir como, por ejemplo, cuando nosotros sacamos nuestro primer respiro o los primeros llanes de los niños ¿verdad? usamos la vida, luchamos por la vida.  Pero Cristo, Dios hecho hombre, cuando el entró  al mundo, el vino para morir.  El vino para dar su vida para que nosotros la termináramos.

Este regalo que él nos ha dado— su cuerpo, su sangre— este regalo que él nos pide de nosotros a compartir a unos a los otros esta navidad, no nomas en este tiempo sino todos los días, [es] darnos el regado del amor a nuestro propio, nuestros hermanos.

Y si esto se entrega en los regalos que nos damos unos a los otros.  Pero en toda manera de ser… lo importante no son las cosas materiales que compramos sino el amor que compartimos.

It is the love we share that is the true love that God gives us….   That’s the gift he wishes us to share with one another.  Love one another.  Respect one another and listen.  But, most especially, offer [everything] rooted in love; for that’s the reason why he came— to give up his life so [that we might] have it, to make sure we know [God’s love].  Amen (Fr. Juan Manuel Salazar; December 24, 2016; transcribed audio recording, edited).

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Afterthoughts

Left as a blog comment this Christmas morning, Steven’s memory of last night’s Mass clearly describes the small, intimate setting at St. Joseph’s chapel.

Angelic voices— soft, with Spanish accents, from the cloistered nuns behind the glass-and-wood partitions on either side of the altar— filled the chapel, first with the familiar prayers of the rosary and then with Christmas hymns.

Bishop Emeritus Reymundo Peña presided joyfully, his voice strengthening as he proclaimed God’s message of love for us.

Father Juan Manuel Salazar delivered the homily both in English and Spanish and, after Mass, lovingly presented the Infant Jesus for veneration.

Notable, too, was the family with three small children dressed in Christmas costumes similar to San Juan Diego’s peasant garb.  At first shy and unsure but then overcome with eagerness to partake in the ceremony, their spiritual innocence captivated our collective heart with their unwavering leap of faith.

And, at evening’s end, amid the hugs, well wishes, and picture-taking, Mother Superior cheerfully thanked us for celebrating Mass with them and bid us a very resounding “Merry Christmas” and a safe drive home.

Feliz Navidad!

Quotes

Behold the dear Infant Jesus and adore him fervently.  Contemplate his poverty and humility in imitation of his most holy mother and of St. Joseph.  Repose near him as sweetly as you can.  He will not fail to love your heart, void as you find it of tenderness and feeling.  Nothing will be wanting to you, since you will be in the presence of that holy Infant.  Abide there and learn of him, how meek and humble he is, how simple and amiable.  See how lovingly he has written your name in the depth of his divine heart, which beats on that couch of straw from the impassioned zeal it has for our advancement and heaves not one single sigh unto his Father in which you have not a part, nor a single movement of his spirit, except for your happiness (St. Francis de Sales).

“Dear parents, I implore you to imitate the Holy Family of Nazareth” (St. John Vianney).

God is here.  This truth should fill our lives, and every Christmas should be for us a new and special meeting with God, when we allow his light and grace to enter deep into our soul (St. Josemaría Escrivá, The Way).

“On this night let us share the joy of the gospel: God loves us; he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness” (Pope Francis).

With the shepherds let us enter the stable of Bethlehem beneath the loving gaze of Mary, the silent witness of his miraculous birth….  May she teach us how to treasure in our hearts the mystery of God who, for our sake, became man (Pope Benedict XVI).

December 27, 2016

“Let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

December 28, 2016

Oh, Jesus, with joy in my heart and in a spirit of gratitude, I thank you for your great blessings in my life.  Thank you for the celebration of your birth.  Thank you for restoring my hope of eternal life with you.  Thank you for all the gifts I have received from your generous hand (Franciscan MediaA Eucharistic Christmas).

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

Links of interest…  Advent & Christmas page…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Away in a manger: St. Francis & the nativity…  Boxing Day…  Christ is born…  Christmas: antiphons, celebratingdeeper meaning, lights around the worldmad humility, spiritual life, & trials, mercy, & Padre Pio (more)…  Christmastide: customs / days / foods / octave (more) / other countries & cultures / overview / prayers (guide) / twelve days (more) / why celebrate…  Cloistered nuns want to pray for you…  How Jesus makes heaven present to us today (Fr. Romano GuardiniMeditations on the Christ)…  Las posadas & the 2nd Christmas novena (Dec 16-24)…  Living the Good News: Days of Christmas…  Mary: cause of our joy / mother of God (more) & of our salvation…  Our Lady of the Rosary Library…  Prophecies fulfilled (Mary M. McGlone)…  Soul of Christmas (Thomas Moore)…

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

Twelve candles

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For the past two weeks I’ve been maintaining, editing, and adding to my blog behind the scenes; so I’ve had ample opportunity to think about my next post.

Treasures

Opening the “churches” folder on the external drive this afternoon, I wondered which of the many files-in-waiting I should peek into.  Then Martha came to mind.

Thanks to our beloved friend, we shared an incredible adventure in Mundelein before driving to Marytown for noon Mass at the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  The church, managed by Conventual Franciscans, hosts a multitude of statues everywhere and a seemingly endless array of holy relics.

I thought my heart would burst! 

Connections

Viewing the photos again after two years of dormancy, my thoughts ricocheted from one post to another to another.  I added St. Anthony Mary Claret’s relic photo to Kylie’s story and then—

Oh, my gosh!  Providential!

Earlier in the day, I’d happened across the “twelve candles” draft from last December.  Not sure when I’ll get to that, I thought, dismissing any effort to get it published.  And here, out of the blue, in the photo files from our day with Martha was a photo of a prayer posted at the shrine.  Oh, perfect sentiment!  Who says the Hallmark Channel owns Christmas in July? 

Twelve candles

December 27, 2013, Steven and I started an annual tradition.

For our anniversary we gift ourselves with a day trip to the St. Joseph Chapel in Alamo: Steven makes a special contribution to the Capuchin Poor Clares, and he lights twelve candles.

We remember “everyone and everything everywhere”— most, specifically by name— and we give thanks and praise for “all God’s blessings in the new year to come.”

December 2015, we visited St. Joseph’s twice, the second time on Christmas Eve.  And, because it was our first time attending Mass at the chapel, we chose to light our candles in the spirit of the Holy Family.

So, twelve candles, twelve months of blessings.  When we say “you’re in our thoughts and prayers daily,” we really mean it.

God bless you sweetly!

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Prayer 

I don’t know how to pray.  I don’t know what to say.  I haven’t much time….

The light which I am giving is a little of what I have— a little of my time, a little of myself— which I am leaving before the Lord and the Virgin Mary.

This light symbolizes my prayer, which I continue even as I go my way.

Lord, may this candle I am lighting be the light with which you enlighten [us in our] difficulties and decisions.  May it be the fire with which you burn away the selfishness and impurity in [us].  May it be the flame with which you warm [our hearts].

I cannot remain for long in your church.  By leaving this candle burning, I want to give you something of myself.

Help me to continue to pray in the midst of my daily activities.

Amen (National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe, n. d.).

Quote

We often think we receive graces and are divinely illuminated by means of brilliant candles.  But from whence comes their light?  From prayers, perhaps, of some humble, hidden soul whose inward shining is not apparent to human eyes (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

December 21, 2016

God is our light.  The farther the soul strays away from God, the deeper it goes into darkness (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

December 22, 2016

A single sentence, a single word, a single awareness may turn life around; and, while you may not yet be found, you are no longer lost.  It is impossible to express.  Your dream of the world is unmasked, creating an opening.  The night, however dark, is not endless because, in that smallest opening, you glimpsed light moving in the dark.  It was the first real thing you have known (Paula D’Arcy, Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light).

December 25, 2016

In the Word made flesh, God has sent his last Word, his most profound Word, his most beautiful Word, into the world.  And that Word means I love you, world and humanity.  Light the candles!  They have more right to be here than darkness! (Karl Rahner, SJ).

January 3, 2017

Oh, how great is your name, O Lord!  It is the strength of my soul.  When my strength fails and darkness invades my soul, your name is the sun whose rays give lights and also warmth (St. Faustina Kawalska).

February 2, 2017

How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a weary world (William Shakespeare).

February 5, 2017

“Your light must shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).

May 16, 2017

Eternal God, who are the light of the minds that know you, the joy of the hearts that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you, grant us to know you that we may truly love you and so to love that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom.  In Jesus Christ, our Lord
(St. Augustine).

June 2, 2017

O gracious Parent!  Elevate our souls, and give us access to thy sublime throne, that stable seat of pure delight!  All earth-born cares remove; dispel the mists of sense; and with a ray from heaven illumine our darkened minds.  Allow us to see thy light; let us view the source of good unveiled; and fix, O ever fix, our eyes on thee (Roman Boethius in The Saint vs. The Scholar: The Fight Between Faith and Reason).

July 19, 2017

There is a life force flowing through the universe, and everything exists in a single moment, forever unfolding.  I open myself to the stream.  I want to be emptied and purified so that the past is no longer my lens— so that it no longer colors what I see.  What will it be like to look without fear or expectation, to see things with nothing in the way?  Who will I be if I am not afraid, but alive?  There is everything to experience, and the portal beyond the darkness to know (Paula D’Arcy in Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light).

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

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Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  All things new: Yes, it’s cold & dark but there is light…  Christmas music: eleven hymns & songs (video) & seven originals…  Five ways to put all those Christmas cards to good use…  How beeswax candles opened my eyes to the beauty of Mass…  Light a candle…  Lighthouses, an ancient symbol of Christianity…  Like a moth drawn to the flames of church candles…  Living an unending Christmas…  Mary Page: Marian prayers / one’s special intentions / prayer circlecorner…  Our Lady of the Rosary Library: prayers to the Blessed Virgin for every day of the week…  Prayer: & devotions to the Blessed Mother / & seasons / daily sacred spacefor all occasions (AMM) / four daily habits / free booklets & CDs (more) / healing / librarylittle book of caregiver prayers / more / morning & new beginnings / novenas made easyten ways to grow in prayer (more) / treasure of 3,569 / why we must pray…  Pope Francis: Light of faith…  Praying to the saints: gracious advocates / heavenly intercessors / intercessory prayer / litanies / novenas (221) / why pray novenas /  why pray to the saints…  Reasons to request prayer on social media / why writing is good for you…  Secret Santa for the soul…  Seeing others with the light of Christ…  Spiritual reflections…  Ten reasons to be filled with hope…  Time to put out electric votive candles…  What do you think of me, Lord…  Why do Catholics use candles at Mass / we give Christ the title Light from Light

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

Stella Maris moments

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Saturday evening Mass: January 2, 2016

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St. Joseph’s Hall: Tour with Joe Shaw

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

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

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

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

Christmas scenes

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Our Lady of Guadalupe Church – Brownsville, TX

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

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

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Immaculate Conception Cathedral – Brownsville, TX

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Sacred Heart Church – Brownsville, TX

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Holy Cross Church – Corpus Christi, TX

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

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

Capuchin Christmas

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

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

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Christmas Eve homily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January 4, 2016

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

January 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slice of heaven

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Until December 6, 2013, the only Capuchins Steven and I had met were those affiliated with the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.  Then we attended Bishop Danny’s annual dinner in Weslaco and learned about the Poor Clares at the Monastery of St. Joseph and St. Rita in Alamo, TX.  Amazing, considering that the only Poor Clares we’d heard about were those whom Father Mario had visited in June when he’d taken St. Anthony’s relics to their monastery in the Chicago area.

Clarisas cookies

CPC12613Bishop Danny’s annual fundraiser for the various charities in the diocese was the perfect venue for sales.  The Capuchin Poor Clare nuns had provided a palette of cookies to be sold
before the live auction, so Steven purchased a box of Clarisas and quickly handed them to me.  Gingerly examining the container without flipping it over, my fingertips felt something on the underside of the soft plastic container; so, naturally, I picked away at it with my nails until the tape gave way.

The neatly folded paper square, once smoothed open, satiated some of our curiosity— when, where, and why the Poor Clares had taken up residence in the Rio Grande Valley and why their cookie sales were so important— but the invitation to prayer immediately propelled us into let’s-check-it-out mode.

We fully intended to visit the Capuchins during the Christmas holidays, so we had work to do.  I’d write to the Sisters and learn more about the chapel, and Steven would search online for a map and directions.

My letter

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Sisters’ email

Subject: Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns – Alamo, TX
Date: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:39 AM

Pax et bonum!

Dear Deli and Esteban Lanoux,

May God reign in your hearts.  Thank you for your letter.  God be your reward.

Ten years ago our monastery was established in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  Here, we adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

We’re glad you liked the cookies that we make.  We sell our cookies only at the convent.  We do not sell online because they are very fragile and may break during shipping.  The cookies that you viewed on the website are sold by the Capuchin Sisters of Denver, CO.

We hope to meet you one day and personally thank you for your support.

May God bless you always, especially this Christmas.

In Francis and Clare of Assisi,
Your Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns

St. Joseph and St. Rita Monastery
P. O. Box 1099
Alamo, TX 78516-1099

My response

Subject: Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns – Alamo, TX
Date: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:55 AM

Dearest Sisters,

What a delight to hear from you personally!  Oh, my goodness, yes.  Steven and I will be going down to Brownsville during the Christmas holidays, so we’ve already made plans to go visit you before the New Year.

It’s wonderful to know your monastery is so welcoming, that you responded to my letter right away, and that we can buy your delicious cookies when we’re there at the monastery.  (Something I’ll definitely post on my personal blog!)

God bless y’all most abundantly!

Merry Christmas!

Heartfelt hugsss,
Deli & Steven

St. Anthony Guide.

Our visit: December 27, 2013

Reminiscent of Isaiah’s “treasures in secret places” (45:3), Steven and I are always in awe of the wonderful places (and people) we find here and there.  For instance, not long after we arrived at the St. Joseph chapel in Alamo we met three lovely visitors, a mother and her two daughters from south of Houston, in the gift shop in the vestibule.  Like us, they were so taken with their first visit to the Capuchin sacred space that they’ll be returning again and again.

Slice of heaven

SJRM122713-1Before leaving the chapel, Steven lit twelve votive candles for the twelve months in 2014.  As we think back on our visit, our prayers for everyone will be doubly special for having been remembered a year in advance as well as daily wherever we happen to be.

Next, we made our way to the monastery.  When we’d walked the grounds earlier, we’d spotted a family dropping off a box of clothing to one of the Sisters so we thought we might ring the doorbell.  Still, we were reluctant to disturb the Poor Clares, since they’re cloistered nuns.  Even the chapel has the one-way glass panels on either side of the altar so the Sisters can attend Mass unseen by the public!

Standing outside the small, wrought-iron barred patio area in the biting cold, I guess we made enough noise that one of the Poor Clares stepped out of the house to see what we needed.  When we explained that I’d written to let them know we’d be dropping by, Sister Marta started to let us in; but I motioned to her that we didn’t want to intrude.  We merely wanted to leave off some items, find out more about the Clarisas cookies— which we now know are sold at Breadsmith in McAllen— and thank them for the invitation to visit their beautiful chapel.

“Oh, you’ve seen it already?” Sister asked.

“Yes.  It’s lovely,” Steven told her.

“Did you photograph it?” Sister asked.

“Yes,” I chuckled.  “We spent about three hours in the chapel, so we had more than enough time to pray and take photos.”

Sister was glad for our visit, and we were most appreciative of Sister’s time.  The day was cold and damp, but we’d enjoyed a very special slice of heaven that day.

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Prayer

Holy patroness of those in need, St. Rita, so humble, pure, and patient, whose pleadings with your divine spouse are irresistible, obtain for me from the Crucified Christ my request (mention here).  Be kind to me for the greater glory of God, and I promise to honor thee and to sing thy praises forever.  O glorious St. Rita, who miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life and protect me in all my needs.  Amen.

March 19, 2014

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus, and the Church?  By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence, and receptive to God’s plans, not simply to his own (Pope Francis).

March 24, 2015

“God is so good and merciful that, to obtain heaven, it is sufficient to ask it of him from our hearts” (St. Benedict Joseph Labre).

February 2, 2016

We often think we receive graces and are divinely illuminated by means of brilliant candles.  But from whence comes their light?  From prayers, perhaps, of some humble, hidden soul whose inward shining is not apparent to human eyes (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

February 28, 2016

“When the afflictions of this life overcome us, let us encourage ourselves to bear them patiently by the hope of heaven” (St. Alphonsus).

April 12, 2016

“The more we indulge ourselves in soft living and pamper our bodies, the more rebellious they will become against the spirit” (St. Rita of Cascia).

March 13, 2017

We engage in works of mercy not so that we can present Saint Peter at the pearly gates with our list of accomplishments but because we cannot live honestly before God and with others unless we are attentive to human need (Pat McCloskey in Peace and Good).

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

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Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Breadsmith (Clarisas)…  Brownsville diocese…  Franciscan: calendar / prayers / requests…  St. Clare: about / book / chaplet / companions in prayer / don’t bring eggs (article) / enlightened one / for healing / patroness / profile (Aug 11) / prayer requests / prayers / successor…  St. Rita: about / biography / chaplet / feast day (May 22) / forty-six miracles / growing in holiness / life / memorial / miracle / national shrine / novena / patroness / prayers / profile / rose legend / story (YouTube)…  St. Joseph: about / celebration (more) / feast / litany / memorial (May 1) / name / prayers (more) / solemnity (Mar 19) / who is / zeppole…  Viva San Giuseppe

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  San Giuseppe…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  St. Felix…  St. Jude Shrine (Corpus Christi, TX)…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelve candles…  Venerable Margaret

Christmas year ’round

Months before the Catholic Shoppe permanently closed last year, I dropped by to replenish my medals stash, since I bead Franciscan Crowns and St. Anthony chaplets.

               

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But why stop there

I also looked at the dual-sided medals— the kind with a different saint on either side— for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and who should I see but San Juan Diego.

Oh, good!  I can use these on some of my crowns or make bracelets with them.

Then I found some St. Anthony medals, so I got a few of those for the chaplets.  I much prefer the relics from Franciscan Mission Associates, but I have to make do with what’s available.

What I really and truly wanted were Holy Infant of Prague medals for some chaplets that I hadn’t yet begun to design, but I didn’t find any; and the shop had no idea when some would be in stock.

What to do, what to do since I rarely drive into town to buy items I need.

Veritable rose

As I stood there trying to decide, I examined the medals I was holding and made quite a discovery.  Not all the Lady of Guadalupe medals were paired with San Juan Diego.  I’d erroneously assumed that all the medals in the bin were the same, yet some had the Santo Niño de Atocha instead of San Juan Diego.

Hallelujah!  I’ll buy more of these with the Holy Infant and try my hand at crafting the chaplets I’ve had on hold all this time.  Then, later on, I’ll come back to buy some Infant of Prague medals.

The beauty of it all is that the Infant, like Our Lady, is known to devotees by various names.  Nevertheless, he’s one and the same regardless of our name for him, as the bishop told us at the feast day Mass of the Santo Niño de Cebú.

Bishop’s homily

Christmas is not over in the Philippines until the Santo Niño de Cebú feast day.  The celebration began in 1521 when Magellan first introduced the statue from Spain.  After a great fire, the Santo Niño statue miraculously remained intact; so it’s now a much venerated relic.  But, whether the Infant is called the St. Infant of Prague or the Santo Niño de Atocha, the practice is the same.  There are many beautiful stories.  Growing up [in Ireland], there were always statues in homes.  The custom was to place a coin under the statue, so the family would never go broke.  The Infant of Prague statue was placed outside to guarantee fine weather for a wedding.  The message from the Santo Niño has always been associated with humility, love, and trust.  The Santo Niño calls in whispers.  If we listen carefully, we hear him.  The Lord calls us in different ways to give us a message to do what he asks.  The Lord waits patiently for all of us to come to him, nonjudgmentally to follow him.  If we do that— follow his counsel, trust in him— we need not worry.  With him all things are possible (Bishop Edmund Carmody, 2009).

Two prototypes

Finally having both the time and the inclination to focus on creating the Child Jesus chaplets, I got to work.

The chaplet on the left, strung on black hemp, was completed first.

Since the devotion starts with three Our Father‘s, I chose blue for God’s powerful greatness.  The pink beads represent Our Lady’s tender loving care, so they’re the twelve Hail Mary‘s.  The green beads denote not only the promise of hope for the chaplet’s devotees, but also the thanksgiving and praise sent heavenward with the three Gloria‘s.

The chaplet on the right had me in contemplative, problem solving mode overnight.  It’s visually different from the first because of its bright orange hue reminiscent of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Strung with elastic, it can be worn as a bracelet.

Christmas year ’round

Although the second chaplet posed somewhat of a challenge— um, many— since hiding knots takes a bit of creative talent, I’ve got my materials set out to bead at least one more bracelet with the three remaining Our Lady of Guadalupe/Santo Niño de Atocha medals on the dining table.

I can hardly wait to see how the rest of the chaplets turn out.  And I’ll certainly add photos upon completion.  After all, sharing the Child Jesus chaplet with others is one way to keep Christ in Christmas year ’round.

January 18, 2012

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November 18, 2014

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Pdf file…  Child Jesus chaplet prayers

Links of interest…  Catholic devotions: A spiritual vocabulary…  Five ways to put all those Christmas cards to good use…  Franciscan Mission Associates: prayer requests / quarterly newsletter / seasonal devotion…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / chaplet
(more) / devotion / feast / history / little crown / novena / of good health / petitions…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about / chapel / history / miracles / origin / prayers / story…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / feast / history / hymn (YouTube) / novena / origin / perpetual novena / poem / song (YouTube)…

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Christmas blessings…  Connected tangents…  Faith and prayer…  Faces of Mary…  Father’s guided tour…  Guadalupe Church…  Holy relics…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s seven joys…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  My Franciscan Crown…  Oh, happy day!…   On being Christian…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s church…  Prayers and blessings…  Promise of hope…  Repeated prayers…  San Juan Diego…  Santo Niño…  Si quaeris miracula…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret