Naturally engaging

Early Sunday morning, May 12, 2019, the Carnival Legend docked in Ketchikan, Alaska; so we right away took a taxi to Holy Name Church several blocks away.

          

     

         

     

    

Mary before Mass

A woman spoke to me as I photographed the stained-glass windows in the vestibule.

Those windows are from the old church that was nearer the ship docks in the downtown area.  Of course, the parish outgrew it.  So, in the sixties, the school was built first.  Mass was held at the school until the church was dedicated in 1985.

“This worked out better, then?” I asked.

Yes, the downtown area was getting congested, and there was no room to expand.  It was very limited.  I didn’t live here then.  I moved here in 1974 and attended Mass at the school until the church was built.  The parish hall was finished about ten years later, and now the facility’s complete.

We introduced ourselves and shared bits and pieces of our respective journeys in faith before Mary continued.

Parishioners at Holy Name Church are very nice.  They transport visitors to and from the docks.  After Mass there are a couple of vans that take visitors back to their ships.  You may have to wait a little bit depending on the number of people who need rides, but they’ll take you.  Also, parishioners will offer to take you if they’re going that way.

“Thank you!  You’re angels!”

“God bless you!” Mary said before adding a final note: The archbishop from the Diocese of Juneau had been in town since Friday.  “Confirmations this weekend— and Mother’s Day— so all kinds of special things are happening today.”

I thanked Mary and wished her well; and she, in turn, wished us safe travels.

I returned to our pew and told Mel and Sharon that Holy Name was “a very welcoming community.  I only wish Steven had been here.  He would’ve enjoyed it.”

       

         

     

Katy after Mass

Steven’s illness was at its worst when we docked in Ketchikan; so Mel, Sharon, and I went to church without him.  Then, after Mass, a friendly young woman approached our bench to offer us and Kathy from Idaho a ride back to the docks.

“But we have canes and a walker,” I heard someone say.  No matter.  The SUV hatch popped open, and in they went without our assistance.

Along the way we learned quite a bit about Katy, “sixth-generation Ketchikan,” and her family.  She comes from a long line of educators— her grandfather was school superintendent— and she loves working with special-needs kids in class.  She also teaches ballet after school and has great aspirations still in the works.

Naturally engaging

A lovely experience all the way around on Good Shepherd Sunday, we enjoyed our time at Holy Name Church.  Inclusive and naturally engaging, parishioners built community with ease.  By selflessly accommodating visitors from faraway places, they made us an integral part of their finely woven tapestry within God’s kingdom.  All were welcome.

         

          

          

          

Prayers

Dear God, you appointed your only-begotten Son to be the savior of mankind, and you commanded his name to be Jesus.  I beg that a most ardent love of your divine son imprint that name on my heart; that it always be on my mind and frequently on my lips; and that it be my defense in temptation, my refuge in danger, and my consolation and strength in the hour of my death.  Amen.

Jesus, name full of glory, grace, love and strength!  You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who morn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick.  To you our devotion aspires; by you our prayers are received.  We delight in contemplating you.  O name of Jesus, you are the glory of all the saints for eternity.  Amen (St. Bernardine of Sienna).

Quotes

“If you are bound down by sickness, if sorrows weary you, if you are trembling with fear, invoke the name of Jesus” (St Lawrence Justinian).

The sweet name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affection.  All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the name Jesus (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport.  His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living (Blessed John Henry Newman).

August 25, 2019

God loves diversity.  That means God’s glory cannot be glimpsed without appreciating the variety of people, cultures, and creatures populating the universe (Mary M. McGlone, CSJ).

Links of interest…  Diocese of Juneau: facebook / The Inside Passage  (monthly paper) / website…  Good Shepherd Sunday: commentaryreflections / significance…  Holy Name Church: about / facebook / locationwebsite…  Ketchikan: about / things to doknow / visit / website…  Molly of Denaliabout / facebook /  NPR / podcastpremiere / youtube…  Prayers: devotionGolden ArrowHoly Name Society / litany

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Authentic delight

Except for the lively conversation with the folks at Alaskan Fudge Co., Juneau failed to impress the day before.  And what if Skagway was more of the same?  Part of me dreaded knowing, but part of me had to find out.

Morning walk

Unlike our first shore excursion the day seemed warmer and more in keeping with my South Texas disposition.  We walked and walked and took lots of photos of a place so reminiscent of the Wild West that Skagway could’ve been a movie set.  The trains, the buildings, the openness.  Was the town even real?  No brick buildings, lots of windows.  How did folks stay warm in frigid temperatures?

Despite my pea brain’s many rhetorical questions, everything was quiet and peaceful compared to Juneau.  Streets were wide with little traffic, and residents carried on as if we visitors (or intruders) were part of the town’s finely woven tapestry.  No fuss, no rush, no sidewalk vendors.  We moved about freely in an alternate reality, oblivious of life back home, proactively engaged in the moment.

Steven’s third eye was busy making memories, so I contained myself on discovering familiarity: “Mexican food.  Fish tacos today.”  I wanted some right then, right there!  And I don’t even eat fish tacos!  Then, too, my whole being knew that tacos were just the tip of the iceberg.  Oh, the fascination!  I longed to learn more!

Soon after, I noticed a living-breathing advertisement in the form of a very pleasant woman wholly absorbed in the book she read outside Skaguay News Depot.  How daring!  How novel!  Is she the owner? I wondered.  How will she lure us into the store?  Scary thought, but so intriguing!  She didn’t even flinch as we passed her by.  She just kept reading.  What audacity!  Her wordless sales approach stunned, amused, and tantalized my curiosity.  We’d definitely stop on our way back!

As Steven made his way down Broadway, I window-shopped, took lots of photos, and continued to be amazed.  When Steven veered right onto a side street, I waited in place halfway down to where he explored the Historic Moore Homestead at the end of Spring.  Taking note of my surroundings— three totem poles; a shop owner chatting with a supplier; a workman restoring the Moore Homestead; small buildings that appeared closed; a couple of older-model vehicles parked nearby; and, except for the occasional pedestrian and/or vehicle on the main road, a satisfying stillness unlike any experienced before— I’d pretty much given up on finding a church to explore.

       

       

       

       

          

       

       

       

     

       

       

Church on Fifth Street

Making our way back on Broadway, I visually scoured every side street we crossed for the semblance of a sacred space.  Then, oh, my, gosh!  I spotted one!

“There’s a church down there!”

“Where?  I don’t see anything,” Steven said.

“It’s there!  About four or five blocks down!  Can we go take a look?  Maybe this one will be open!”

Oh, joy in the morning!  It was!  It was!  And we had a wonderful time looking, imagining Sunday services, partaking of the congregation’s peace and love.

          

          

          

          

     

    

            

       

     

Bookstore on Broadway Street

So, having fulfilled my desire to explore a church, we walked back into town.  And, on reaching the second block, I told Steven about the bookstore; crossed the street; and, soon enough, ventured in.

“You were quite a sight this morning!” I teased the book reader.

“Can you believe it?  I get paid to do what I love!” she chuckled.

Shortly, another woman joined us and, as she asked if we had something in mind, the book reader disappeared into the back room.  I asked about the children’s books in the window display, and she pointed us toward the many showcased brightly in the front right corner of the shop.

“Feel free to browse as long as you like, and let me know if you have any questions.”

We right away selected three books and asked if we could start placing them on the counter until we were ready to pay.

“Where are you from?” she asked.

We introduced ourselves and told Denise about our jaunt to the First Presbyterian Church, adding that we’d found the unexpected: an unlocked entryway!  And, when I told her about the cookbooks we’d seen at church, she enthused that she had copies of the original (1943/1998), in case we were interested.  We weren’t passing on that!  Denise sweetened the deal, too, by giving us bookmarks and offering a free copy of Gold Rush Cemetery if we purchased Garden City of Alaska.  But, of course!

So, our visit to Skaguay News Depot & Books was more than just a place to shop: Our time there was a worthwhile investment in being good neighbors; sharing observations; and learning lots about the church, the town, and Denise’s family roots in Alaska.

“I love this place!” I said before leaving.

“Well, you know what that means, don’t you?  You have to move here now.”

Dangle a carrot, why not?  I was there in a heartbeat!

       

               

Afternoon tour

After lunch, Mel, Sharon, Steven, and I headed out to take the White Pass & Yukon Route scenic journey.  As the train passed through town people waved because, we were told, they always do.  So, up, up, up we went… until we came back down.

         

          

          

          

          

          

          

          

          

          

                 

Authentic delight

Docking in Skagway I prepared for another day of mental warfare with vendors: Go with the flow.  Make the most of the day because we may never pass this way again.  Then— surprise!— an unexpected outcome.

The town was quiet, unimposing, authentic.  Residents went about their business as visitors went about theirs, exactly as one would expect in one’s hometown.  But what really impressed me was the First Presbyterian Church on Fifth and Main Streets.

Who advertises “Doors Are Always Open!” on the stoop’s top step?  Who leaves items for the taking on a little round table with a pretty crocheted tablecloth?

Admiring the printed treasures beside the empty glass jar, Steven and I smiled at each other as momentary disbelief gave way to sheer delight.  These folks trust that others are kindred spirits!  So, taking the invitation to heart, I helped myself to two cookbooks, a baggie with six Centennial Celebration cards and envelopes, and a postcard, after which Steven placed money in the jar.  Simply amazing!

An authentic delight, Skagway captured our imagination, appealing to our insatiable love of learning, nature, adventure, and more.  Can’t wait to go again!

Links of interest…  First Presbyterian Church: about (map) / drawings / facebook / website…  Molly of Denaliabout / facebook / NPR / podcast / premiere / youtube…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals & archive / publications…  Skaguay News Depot: bookstore / news…  Skagway: about / CVB / facebook / Historic Moore Homestead: mapphotos / Mexican food / newspaper / Travel Alaska / website…  White Pass Railroad excursion & train tour (WPYR)…

WP posts…  Mission accomplished…  Naturally engaging…  Sweet treat…  Verbosity

Mission accomplished

After four days on the road, we boarded the Carnival Legend in Seattle, Washington and set off for an eight-day cruise to Alaska: the greatest adventure of our lifetime.

Juneau

May eighth was cold, dreary, and wet in Juneau.  Steven had been to Alaska before, so he knew what to expect.  I layered my shirts, pulled my hood tightly to frame my face, and wore snug gloves.  Then off we went in search of what fascinates us: churches.

          

         

          

       

          

    

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We walked several blocks before we came to the first church, situated on the corner of Gold and Fifth Streets.  Doors were locked, so we admired the grounds.  I couldn’t believe that flowers could grow so beautifully in Alaska!

        

        

          

          

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church

Standing on the corner, I’d spotted the hexagonal, blue-and-white church.  Would it be open?  It wasn’t.  Was I disappointed?  A tad.  But it was Wednesday afternoon, so we explored the precious sacred space and imagined ourselves returning another day.  Then, on walking past, I peeked into the yard for no special reason and giggled.  Right there kissing-close to the fence was a pair of red shoes reminiscent of La Befana: The witch of Christmas and Glinda’s ruby slippers from the The Wizard of Oz.  My imagination conjured all sorts of possibilities!  What a priceless memory!

          

                

       

Mission accomplished

My toes felt like rocks; my hands, icicles.  We’d found the churches and taken the photos, so all I wanted was my reward: a bag of popcorn from down the street.

We took our time entering a couple of shops as we prepared ourselves for the obstacle course ahead and the siren calls from the relentless vendors standing in the doorways— some even on the sidewalks!— ready to lure folks into their shops.

We prevailed and made it to the Alaskan Fudge Co. to chat with the owner and his young helper.  How special to share real conversation, to hear their stories.

I was impressed with their genuineness, their humor, their welcoming spirit, their loyalty to each other, and their eagerness to be of service— traits I would observe among Alaskans in other places, too.  So, the takeaway from our mission accomplished in Juneau became the recurring theme of the greatest adventure of our lifetime.

     

          

      

          

Links of interest…  Alaskan Fudge Co: candies & giftsfacebook / recipe…  Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: about / facebook / website…  Diocese of Juneau: facebook / The Inside Passage (monthly paper) / website…  Juneau: about / things to do / travel…  La Befana: The witch of Christmas (more)…  Molly of Denaliabout / facebook / NPR / podcast / premiere / youtube…  St. Nicholas Orthodox Church: aboutfacebook / website…  Wizard of Oz (ruby slippers & more)…

WP posts…  Authentic delight…  Naturally engaging…  Verbosity

Sweet treat

January 22, 2019, Steven and I joined the Texas Tropical Trail (TTT) group in Alice, TX for its 158th monthly partner event.  And what a time we had!

Everything— from the morning’s assortment of colorful doughnuts, coffee, and juice at the Chamber of Commerce to the tour of the historic courthouse to lunch at the country club to the four afternoon presentations— kept us clamoring for “more, please.”

The last speaker, Betty Ash, a retired teacher, captivated us beyond imagining.  Her early Jim Wells County history was a firsthand experience: exciting, hilarious, and memorable.  But her Native American stories— a glimpse of South Texas history that’s rarely discussed— had us wholly engrossed.  My hand hurt from trying to jot down every precious morsel.

Two-thirty came around, but we just weren’t ready to go!  So, Nancy Deviney, TTT executive director who plans surprises in advance, eased our reluctance by reminding us of “the optional tour for those of you who are interested.”

Sweet treat

Better than the bonus plan, the unexpected giveaway turned out to be quite a piloncito: the sweet treat that mom’s grandmother would gift to each of her country-store customers (and children) as both a token of appreciation and an incentive to return.

Because we’d visited the First Presbyterian Church in Corpus Christi in January and Pastor Chip Blackshear had told us about the beautiful stained-glass window that had been moved to the church in Alice, Kathy Wemer of the Nueces County Historical Commission had arranged for our group to view the window.  So, eighteen of us rushed to visit with Pastor Kris Bair at the First Presbyterian Church on North Adams Street.

What a pristine sacred space!  Regardless of where one sits or stands, the stained-glass window is the focal point behind the altar: a delectable ethereal delight.

        

           

                    

                       

       

       

       

               

               

Prayers from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Dear Lord, please forgive me when I forget that you are God and the owner of my heart, the caregiver of my life and the teacher of my soul.  I confess that the world is convincing in its teaching that the acquisition of material things can bring happiness and that being right and being in power are more important than following you.  Forgive me when I choose to judge others because of their politics, their education, the color of their skin, or the amount of money they have in their pockets.  The love of power, fame, and material wealth can twist my Christian intentions from selflessness to selfishness, from welcoming to wall-building, and from caring to critical.  I repent from my lack of faithfulness and ask that you light the way of love for me to follow so that I might be guided by the truth and the life found within the way of Jesus Christ in whose name I pray.  Amen.

Father, we come to you through your son and our lord, Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit with thanksgiving.  Continue to intervene in our lives in miraculous ways so that we may proclaim your miracles to those near and far from you.  Help us to not be gripped with fear, but instead give us the courage to be your spokespersons.  May you be glorified in all we say and do.  Amen.

Heavenly Father, my God, and King!  I come before you in awe of your greatness.  I pray that in those times of frustration that I will be gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love as you are so often with us, your children.  I thank you, Lord, for upholding me when I am falling and raising me up when I am bowed down.  I thank you and praise you for filling all my desires, hearing my cry, and saving me!  Amen.

Holy and most faithful God, we thank you for your grace and for the gift of your Son, Jesus.  Help us turn away from the worldly life of sin and turn instead to Christ Jesus so that your Spirit may dwell in us to give us life and peace.  Thank you that, in Christ, we do not stand condemned.  Thank you for your love and forgiveness which restore us to righteousness.  In Jesus’s name we pray.  Amen.

Lord, we are yours and you are ours.  Help us to sing a new song.  Let us worship you with the entirety of our bodies, thus bearing witness to the Incarnated One.  We pray in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Lord, you are our rock.  You are our foundation in times of darkness, and we know we can trust in you.  Yet sometimes we cannot feel your presence.  Give us strength to praise you and hope in you when we do not have the strength on our own.  Meet us in our despair, gracious God, and hear us when we cry out.  You are the one our souls long for.  We praise and pray to you now in your Holy name.  Amen.

Loving Father, we live in a world with many defined boundaries.  We view people on opposite sides of those boundaries as our enemies, our oppressors.  Purge our feelings of hate, enmity, and bitterness, and replace them with humility, patience, understanding, strength, and courage.  In our difficult work, help us to live with your eyes and your heart in the sure knowledge of our future hope in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Merciful God, I am grateful that your love surpasses all knowledge and understanding.  It is impossible to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love you have for me.  May you speak to me in my heart to influence, direct, and guide my every step so your purpose for me will be fulfilled to the fullest.  In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

You strengthen us and bless us, O Lord, because of your endless love for us.  This love is too great for us to comprehend, but we thank you for it and for the grace you shower upon us.  How wonderful you are.  You care for us.  You grant us your peace.  When we falter, Lord, you pick us up.  When we stray, you lead us home.  We long to be in your presence and ask for your blessings of strength and comfort that we may shine your light into the world.  We love you, Lord, and praise your name.  Amen.

March 30, 2019

Working on the thank-you card that I’d promised to send Pastor Kris, I googled the address of the church and was stunned to learn that the First Presbyterian Church will close by December 31, 2019.  This is very sad for the church community, but what will become of the beautiful stained-glass windows?  Both a final worship service and a celebration of the life of the church are planned (Meghan Donald; Alice Echo, 2019).

April 5, 2019

The church is not that building.  The church is the people.  The building is the sanctuary where we meet so, if we stay together as a congregation, the church is alive and well.  We can rebuild the building as long as we stay together (Rev. Gerald Toussaint).

Links of interest…  First Presbyterian Church of Alice to close by the end of the year…  History of the stained-glass window originally at the First Presbyterian Church in Corpus Christi…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals & archive / publications…  Texas Historic Sites atlas…  Texas Tropical Trail

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Holy Vietnamese Martyrs

Initially the Fullness of Truth Angels and Demons conference was to have been hosted by St. Mary Cathedral but, most likely because of limited on-street parking, the venue was changed to northeast Austin.

Holy Vietnamese Martyrs

The church was beyond gorgeous— eye candy for the mind, heart, and soul— so I made the most of my time between sessions and photographed everything in sight.

September 28-29, 2018

          

         

         

          

        

                       

                  

          

          

         

         

         

          

         

         

          

Fullness of Truth

                  

                  

      

                  

Prayers

Lord, so great is our love for you that, even though we walk in a world where speaking your name can mean certain death, your faithful still speak it— and speak it all the louder.  Help us work for a world where all may speak their creeds and pray their prayers without fear of violence.  Hear the prayers of those who abide with you in dangerous times and in dark valleys and who die with your name on their lips.  Draw them quickly to your side where they might know eternal peace.  Amen (Catholic Relief Services).

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that, if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadows of death.  I will not fear for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone (Thomas Merton).

O God, source and origin of all fatherhood who kept the martyrs, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, faithful to the cross of your Son even to the shedding of their blood, grant, through their intercession, that, spreading your love among our brothers and sisters, we may be your children both in name and in truth.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen (The Roman Missal).

Señor, tan grande es nuestro amor por ti que, a pesar de que vivimos en un mundo donde pronunciar tu nombre puede significar una muerte segura, tus fieles aún lo dicen— y lo dicen con más fuerza.  Ayúdanos a trabajar por un mundo donde todos pueden hablar sus credos y rezar sus oraciones sin miedo a la violencia.  Escucha las oraciones de los que están contigo en tiempos difíciles y en los valles oscuros y que mueren con tu nombre en sus labios.  Llévalos pronto a tu lado donde puedan conocer la paz eterna.  Amen (CRS).

January 2, 2019

“Intimacy with the Lord is not a matter of physical kinship; rather, it is achieved by cheerful readiness to do the will of God” (St. Basil the Great).

January 3, 2019

The gift of faith, which comes to us from God, is a sublime grace.  But we are not intended to keep it to ourselves— in effect, to bury it in the ground.  The apostolic fishermen were ordained to be fishers of souls and not custodians of an aquarium (Fr. George W. Rutler in Hints of Heaven).

January 5, 2019

My God, how great you are, how wonderful in all your works!  Teach me your will that I may begin and end all my actions for your greater glory (St. John Neumann).

April 9, 2019

This is the perfect will of God for us: You must be holy.  Holiness is the greatest gift that God can give us because for that reason he created us.  Sanctity is a simple duty for you and me.  I have to be a saint in my way and you in yours (St. Teresa of Calcutta in The Love that Made Mother Teresa).

Links of interest…  Fullness of Truth: Angels & Demons / Why do Catholics do that…  Holy Vietnamese Martyrs church: facebook / Mass times / photos / website…  St. Andrew Dung-Lac & companions117 martyrs / about (more) / holy cardsNov 24 (more) / prayer / quote

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  St. Austin Church…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s…  St. Michael chaplet…  Two angels…  Welcoming spirit

Welcoming spirit

The last weekend in September we attended the Angels and Demons Fullness of Truth conference at Holy Vietnamese Martyrs in Austin but, instead of returning there for Saturday evening Mass, we opted for Sunday morning Mass at St. Albert the Great.

Ten o’clock Mass

We arrived half an hour early to take photos as quietly as possible without disturbing anyone, and I did fine— until an older couple noticed me nearby.

The woman stood to speak.  “Are we going to be in your photos?”  And, before I even had the chance to answer, she added, “Because we don’t want our pictures taken.”

“Oh, no,” I said, trying to calm her.  “I’m only photographing the stations of the cross.  Aren’t they beautiful?”

I moved along to the Blessed Mother’s side altar and basked in her presence.  I was so grateful for her understanding that I couldn’t stop smiling.

Welcoming spirit

Then, out of nowhere, a crystalline voice called out to me!  Our Lady!  A child?  The Holy Infant filled me with so much love, joy, and peace that I wanted to cry!  My mind, heart, and soul scrambled to make meaning.  Was anyone even there?

I turned around and quickly surmised that, in wanting to console me, Our Lady had sent a child— a beautiful, precocious little emissary with a welcoming spirit— to help me see that everything was fine.

“Why are you taking all those pictures?” the youngster asked with great confidence and an even bigger grin.

Memories rushed my senses as I was transported to the familiar: the many fun lively discussions with my students over the years.  I felt totally at ease, wholly immersed in the teachable moment.  So, maintaining a respectful distance three chairs away from where the little boy sat, I bent forward slightly to chat from where I stood in the aisle as, no doubt, Our Lady listened in on the animated tête-à-tête she’d so graciously arranged.

          

          

          

          

          

          

          

      

      

         

Prayers

God, you made St. Albert great by enabling him to combine human wisdom and divine faith.  Help us to adhere to his teaching that we may progress in the sciences and… come to a deeper understanding and love of you.  Amen.

When I feel rejected…  Loving God, you made me who I am.  I praise you and love you, for I am wonderfully made in your own image.  But, when people make fun of me, I feel hurt, embarrassed, and even ashamed.  So, please, God, help me remember my own goodness which lies in you.

Help me remember my dignity, which you gave me when I was conceived.  Help me remember that I can live a life of love because you created my heart.  Be with me, loving God, when people hate me.  Help me to respond how you would want me to— with a love that respects others but also respects me.  Help me find friends who love me for who I am.  Help me, most of all, to be a loving person.

And, God, help me remember that Jesus loves me; for he was seen as an outcast.  He was misunderstood.  He was beaten and spat upon.

Jesus understands me and loves me with a special love because of the way you made me.  And, when I am feeling lonely, help me to remember that Jesus welcomed everyone as a friend.  Jesus reminded everyone that God loved them.  He encouraged everyone to embrace their dignity, even when others were blind to seeing that dignity.  Jesus loved everyone with the boundless love that you gave him.  And he loves me, too.

One more thing, God.  Help me remember that nothing is impossible with you, that you have a way of making things better, that you can find a way of love for me even if I can’t see it right now.

Help me remember all these things in the heart you created, loving God.  Amen (James Martin, SJ; edited).

St. Albert quotes

“I have never gone out to mingle with the world without losing something of myself.”

“It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man and man to God.”

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his.  Therefore she is unsure in herself.  What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions.  And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil….  Thus in evil and perverse doings woman is cleverer, that is, slyer, than man.  Her feelings drive woman toward every evil, just as reason impels man toward all good.  [Poppycock!  And we wonder why Church (big C) is the way it is?!!]

November 6, 2018

To discover that you are loved is the center of all existence.  And, when we are filled with this total and delirious love, little by little, we grow and love in turn.  That gradualness in our journeys is a sign of the infinite tenderness of God (Simone Troisi & Cristiana Paccini in Chiara Corbella Petrillo).

November 14, 2018

When does God speak to us?  He speaks at all times, especially in prayer.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  But it is not a monologue.  When we pray, then, we should also listen (Fr. Kilian J. Healy in Awakening Your Soul to Presence of God).

November 28, 2018

We do not define ourselves as men or as women through our work, our house, our health, or our reputation.  We define ourselves as men and women through the way we love (Simone Troisi & Cristiana Paccini in Chiara Corbella Petrillo).

Links of interest…  Albertus Magnus quotes (more)…  Church & science are not at war…  Good science/bad science…  Mary’s intercession speeds up the hour of grace…  Meditation vs. reflection…  Statements on women by church doctors, fathers, & saints…  St. Albert the Great: about / champion of faith & reasonchurch (bulletins) / doctor of the church / litanyMarian prayerNov 15 / novenaoptional memorial / prayer chainscientist (more)…  Tune into silence

WP posts…  Holy Vietnamese Martyrs…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  St. Austin…  St. Jude chapel…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited

Our Lady Star

Of the three visits in three years to Our Lady Star of the Sea, the third was the charm: Sunday Mass in a lovely church, welcoming parishioners, and lots of great photo opportunities.  Who could ask for anything more?

“This is really nice!” Steven whispered, as if reading my thoughts.

“Yes,” I grinned.  “Let’s come back as often as we can!”

September 20, 2016

After the Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event, Steven and I visited Our Lady Star of the Sea for the very first time.

In the late nineties the Oblate priest assigned to the church in Port Isabel substituted for Fr. Moran just once at Sacred Heart in Brownsville.  Yet his analogy of the soul, “a multifaceted crystal,” captivated me so thoroughly that I longed to learn more.

Weekly, I contemplated the long drive to hear the priest’s homily but, always, I was  exhausted from work, kids, and everything on my lunch tray in life.

Then came the awful news that the priest had died.  What a terrible loss not just for his parishioners, but also for my soulful searching.

            

                

            

            

            

            

            

            

            

November 21, 2017

This Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event included a talk by Pat Marchan, parishioner at Our Lady Star of the Sea.  Besides learning about the church’s history, especially in regard to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Steven and I also concluded that the parish, like St. Joseph’s in Port Aransas, is small, thus welcoming and most appreciative of its visitors’ generosity.

            

            

               

            

                 

August 19, 2018

The drive to Our Lady Star of the Sea was sunshiny pleasant.  We’d allowed ourselves ample time to get there and were surprised to arrive half an hour early for ten o’clock Mass— in perfect time for the rosary, no less.  And, as others smilingly filled the pews around us, we knew we’d chosen the right church that morning.

After Mass I took photos as usual and noticed a young couple with a new candle at the alcove to the right of the altar.  “Would you take our picture?” the woman asked.

“Sure!  Just tell me what to do since I don’t know how to take photos with a cell phone.”

“It’s easy,” the woman enthused as she showed me where to click.

What a fun experience!  They not only waited for me to take extras, but also shared that the photos were for family members.  What a sweet, gracious duo!  We wished each other well and then broke away to do our own thing: them, praying at the side altar; me, giving full rein to my third eye.

As I rejoined Steven at our pew, a light-hearted man approached.  He offered Steven a bulletin from his stash.

“We already have one, thanks,” Steven said.

The man, Cayetano, turned out to be quite chatty, very friendly.  We were in no rush— noon Mass was still a ways off— so we took our time listening to what he had to say.

I reached into my tote to retrieve a couple of calling cards.  I offered one to Cayetano before he moved on to the man seated two pews ahead of us.  Then I walked back across the center aisle to talk with the couple from before.

Steven joined us shortly, and we introduced ourselves.

Cynthia and Jesse were visiting from Roma, TX and, as we conversed, Cynthia handed me a dainty Lady of Guadalupe rosary lapel pin.

“I like to share these with others,” she said with a joyful heart.

I was quite touched, very grateful, and told her I’d treasure her gift.  Then I gave her my card, and we exchanged email addresses.

Cynthia and Jesse attend Mass at Immaculate Conception in Rio Grande City— a church I’ve long waited to visit— so maybe we’ll see each other again where they were married twenty-five years ago.

          

                

          

                  

                

                        

          

                

                

September 8, 2018

A great deal can be said about diversity and perspective, so we often attend weekend Mass at different times.  Over the years we’ve found that the ambiance, the music, the people, and the priest’s homily— both content and delivery— are quite telling of a church community; so we eagerly opted for five o’clock Mass.

Taking photos afterwards I met Francis, who enthusiastically shared personal stories of the former church school and Our Lady’s statue in the alcove, gave me two of the altar postcards she retrieved from the sacristy, and introduced her daughter and her son-in-law who were visiting her that weekend.  Then I met the greeter— a sweet, thoughtful woman whose name eludes me at the moment— who allowed me the privilege of taking the last of my photos even after church was closed for the night (since we could exit through a self-locking door leading to the parking lot).

To be allowed free reign within a sacred space was quite fulfilling; to be valued for my gifts and talents, immensely gratifying.  I felt so very blessed!  

         

            

     

      

September 23, 2018

We’d talked about returning to Our Lady Star of the Sea for Sunday morning Mass, but rain was anticipated.  Being that I hate to be out and about in bad weather and that the drive to Port Isabel would be long, we chose St. Benedict’s instead.

When we arrived at ten forty-five, the parking areas were already full, as if Mass had been in progress for a while.

“Get down and see,” I said to Steven who, within moments, returned with a bulletin indicating that Sunday morning Masses are now at eight, ten, and twelve— not eleven.

“So, do we wait around for noon Mass or go elsewhere?” Steven asked.

“The sky’s clear, the sun’s out, and we have enough time to make it to Port Isabel by twelve.  Let’s just go.”

What a memorable experience!  Now I understand why Cynthia and Jesse drive all the way from Roma for noon Mass.  The music was singable, lively, heartfelt; the homily, relevant; and everyone present, fully engaged.

After Mass I exited the street-side door and walked over to the chapel, only to find its entryway locked.  Next time, I thought.  Then, on turning, I discovered the outdoor statue of Our Lady and Jesus.  Oh, my goodness.  I hadn’t expected that!

          

          

                  

          

            

      

Chaplet

Most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, blessed mother of the Son of God, immaculate virgin, assist me in my necessity.  O Star of the Sea, help me!  (State your heartfelt request.)

Holy Mary, mother of God, queen of heaven and earth, I humbly ask for your help from the bottom of my heart.

On each of the three beads…  Pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Gloria.

On each of the twelve beads…  Pray a Hail Mary and say,

Our Lady Star of the Sea, help and protect us!  Sweet mother, I place this matter in your hands.

        

More beaded samples

                

                       

Prayer

Our Lady Star of the Sea, through you came the light of the world.  You cared for the Son of God.  Now all God’s children are your charge.  To those who are in distress you provide a beacon of hope.  If we wander from our faith, you guide us back to our true course.  In dark times we pray to you! 

Everlasting light of our lives, blessed virgin chosen by God, Our Lady Star of the Sea, pray for us.  Amen.

September 7, 2018

Purpose is the reason you journey.  Passion is the fire that lights your way (Angel Chernoff).

September 16, 2018

Photograph things you care about, not what you think others want to see.  There is no substitute for passion (Sarah Rice).

September 26, 2018

Watch the light.  Photography is made by light.  If the light is interesting, your images will be as well (Michael “Nick” Nichols).

November 4, 2018

Know the light in your environment and adjust your position in relation to it.  You can create depth in a picture by moving so the light strikes your subject from angles rather than head on (Sarah Polger).

November 7, 2018

Photography is a strange phenomenon….  You trust your eye and cannot help but bare your soul (Inge Morath).

November 18, 2018

Be open when photographing people.  If you are asking someone to share their life with you, share your life with them.  Don’t make it a one way street (Greg Kahn).

December 23, 2018

“Use your camera not just as an extension of your eye, but also as an extension of your heart” (Ana Vitale).

March 3, 2019

When you enter into a room, stand on a cliff, or gaze in awe at the world around you, don’t look for what it is— look for what it is not.  Delve into the unexpected (John Stanmeyer).

April 14, 2019

“Photography is a journey, an exploration toward our unconscious, a tool of self-knowledge and personal exploration that allows us to be children again because it gives us the ability to be amazed” (Tamara Merino).

April 29, 2019

Be prepared to open up to the people you photograph.  It is a brave and admirable thing to be vulnerable in front of someone’s camera.  If you let yourself be vulnerable as well, you can experience incredibly meaningful interactions (Sarah Price).

May 12, 2019

“Search for the elements in the scene you are photographing that will hold the viewer’s eye and keep them exploring the frame” (Ronan Donovan).

May 26, 2019

Hang with a scene as it’s unfolding.  So many times what happens next will be better than the photos you’ve taken— or the photos you’ve been hoping for (Sarah Rice).

June 30, 2019

The magic of photography is creating direct lines between your heart, brain, and eyes.  Finding which part of that triangle feeds the other will define which kind of photographer you are (Bénédicte Kurzan).

July 11, 2019

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen” (Robert Bresson).

July 28, 2019

A great photograph is a flash of insight.  It is forged by an alliance of preconceived ideas and an artist’s intuition (Killiii Yuyän).

August 11, 2019

“The people you photograph will be more at ease if they see you are relaxed, open, and comfortable sharing a moment with them” (National Geographic; August 11, 2019).

September 8, 2019

Photography is as much about listening as it is about looking.  Remember to put your camera down, ask questions, and listen.  Often, subjects will tell you what the picture is and why it’s important.  You won’t hear that if you’re only thinking about pretty light (Natalie Keyssar).

September 29, 2019

The people we photograph give us intangible gifts: their time, their presence, their patience.  My favorite is their smile (Bénédicte Kurzen).

October 13, 2019

Great bodies of work take years.  Find subjects that you can’t stop thinking about, kind of like what happens when you fall in love, because that’s the kind of energy that you need to sustain you for the amount of time it takes (Natalie Keyssar).

October 18, 2019

Arrive early and stay late.  Before and after the event may be more interesting than the event itself (Sarah Leen).

November 8, 2019

“When crafting a photograph, turn off your thoughts and come to your senses to respond to what is really unfolding in the frame” (Kiliii Yüyan).

Links of interest…  Hazards of online faith-writing…  Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (prayerdaily – novenas – request)…  National Geographic (photography tips)…  Our Lady Star of the Sea: early churchfacebook / mapMass times…  Photographer on how capturing light is a call from God…  Port Isabel:  cemetery / Oblate memorial…  Praying with your eyes: How to get started with visio divina…  Star of the sea: Seafarers prayers…  Star of the Sea: about / chaplet: Our Lady of the Sea – Stella Maris / medals (origin)…  Texas Tropical Trail

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