Comforting thought

slcb10816-7

During our weekend stay in St. Louis we strolled down Lindell Boulevard to the cathedral basilica to see for ourselves what Deacon Frank at St. Paul’s (back home) had so excitedly shared about his visit years ago.

Massive edifice

Regarded as one of the largest mosaic installations in the Western Hemisphere, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is also known for its burial crypts and its outdoor sculpture, The Angel of Harmony, that epitomizes racial accord.  The massive stone-grey edifice, visited by Pope John Paul II in 1999, is topped by a striking green dome that boldly proclaims its undeniable presence in the neighborhood even from afar.

Bigger than life

For me, entering the dimly lit vestibule was like stepping into a medieval masterpiece, only dark and foreboding for lack of white space.  I felt stifled by this looming sense of something bigger than life waiting past the inner doors.

Nothing prepared me for the sensory overload that blinded my third eye, rendering it useless on site (sight) the moment I entered the colossal nave.

My little Coolpix could never do any of this justice! I thought.  I’ll have to rely mostly on Steven’s shots with the big camera.

Comforting thought

I didn’t know what to do.  Steven kept insisting that I “pick a spot.”  But there was so much— too much, really— that, after standing there counting the pews to determine the middle, I chose an outer aisle seat on the left and simply sat.

Immersed in my quiet solitude, I just knew that Sunday morning Mass at St. Mary of Victories would be more in keeping with who and what I am than Saturday evening Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

slcb10816-1      slcb10816-4      slcb10816-5

slcb10816-13      slcb10816s-3      slcb10816s-7      slcb10816-16

slcb10816s-41      slcb10816-12     slcb10816s-39

slcb10816-32     slcb10816-34     slcb10816-35     slcb10816-40

slcb10816s-42        slcb10816s-34        slcb10816s-43        slcb10816s-40

slcb10816s-18       slcb10816s-19       slcb10816s-22       slcb10816s-23

slcb10816s-13      slcb10816s-27      slcb10816s-28      slcb10816s-44

slcb10816s-30    slcb10816s-49    slcb10816s-54    slcb10816s-33

slcb10816s-12     slcb10816s-46     slcb10816s-14

slcb10816-37      slcb10816s-16      slcb10816s-17      slcb10816s-24

slcb10816s-50     slcb10816s-32     slcb10816s-26

Prayers from A year of daily offerings (James Kubicki, SJ; 2016)

Fortify me with the grace of your Holy Spirit and give your peace to my soul that I may be free from all needless anxiety, solicitude, and worry.  Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to you so that your will may be my will (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini).

Loving God, I give myself to you.  Take my day with its sorrows and joys.  Give me what you wish (James Kubicki, SJ; 2016).

November 14, 2016

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 because a good conversationalist is also a good listener (Fr. Kilian J. Healy in Awakening Your Soul to Presence of God).

March 14, 2017

“Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God’s sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God” (Thomas à Kempis).

slcb10816s-38

slcb10816-50

Links of interest…  Cathedral basilica of St. Louis: about / facebook / historyMass / photostours / videowebsite…  Heavenly St. Louis (tours)…  Mother Cabrini’s first miracle…  Prayer: devotions (pdf) / lexionarylitany / novena…  St. Louis, king of Franceabout / admirable kingAug 25 / life (1903 ebook) / patron of barbers & grooms / servant of the poor (more)…  Year of daily offerings (p. 254)…

WP posts…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Noon visit…  Old cathedral…  Sunday morning visit…  Two angels

Sunday morning visit

smv10916s-39a

I’m grateful for having found St. Mary of Victories (SMV) online because God planted the seed thentwo or three years ago, that he harvested today.  His playfulness is uplifting.  I’ve learned that listening to the voice leads me to discover the Holy Infant waiting for me.  His peek-a-boo antics are delightful.  Most of all, I love that God places wonderful folks on my faith journey (My email to Cathy and Bill Saccente, parishioners, who welcomed us sweetly before nine o’clock Mass; 10.9.16, edited).

smv10916-57        smv10916-59        smv10916-60

smv10916-71        smv10916s-11        smv10916-72

smv10916-34a      smv10916-7      smv10916-53a

smv10916s-20        smv10916s-38a        smv10916-67

smv10916-49        smv10916s-53        smv10916-52

smv10916-42        smv10916s-21        smv10916s-9

smv10916-26        smv10916-27        smv10916-29

smv10916-30        smv10916-38        smv10916-39

smv10916a        smv10916s-50        smv10916b

smv-aef        smv-card-a       smv-bcd

Call of service

smv10916-9      smv10916-11      smv10916-21

smv10916s-3        smv10916-14        smv10916s-7a

smv10916-15        smv10916-17        smv10916-18

smv10916s-2      smv10916s-4      smv10916s-6

Outdoor scenes

smv10916-80        smv10916-83        smv10916-85

smv10916-82      smv10916s-62      smv10916-97

Parish hall

smv10916-101smv10916-103smv10916-106smv10916-100smv10916s-68

About the church

After Mass, Max Kaiser, acolyte and lector who serves at St. Mary of Victories “most of the time,” spoke to us about the church and, afterwards, shared a bit of family history and service to the community (October 9, 2016; transcribed audio recording, edited).

smv10916-24This church was dedicated to our Blessed Mother.  It was the first ethnic parish of the archdiocese established by the Old Cathedral in 1843 by the Germans who immigrated to the United States in large numbers.  It was the home for the Maronite community when they came over in 1890s and established
St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral here.  And it was yet a third spiritual home to the Hungarian expatriates who fled the Communist revolution of Hungary in 1955 and 1956.  Today it is an indulgence church.  You’ll note that the altar was dedicated with the consecration by Pope Leo XIII [1878-1903], granting a plenary indulgence.  That means [that,] at the time of death, if an individual is in a state of grace and makes a worthy Holy Communion, they get four hundred days’ remission off their stay in purgatory.  And that is a specific request by Leo XIII to this specific church.

One of the other things I might note is [that the church] was consecrated at the behest of Pope Pius IX… in 1866.  That’s why we have the brass candelabra on the wall.  Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick [1843-1895] anointed each pillar with chrism oil— the oil of kings and bishops— to consecrate and dedicate this church formally to Roman Catholic worship and to no other purpose.

Consecrations are specifically governed by canon law.  They are not easily bestowed; they are not easily revoked.  We’ve had twenty-six consecrated churches in the archdiocese.  In the three-hundred-year history of the diocese, only one has been closed; and it took twenty-six years for the Vatican to lift the consecration of St. Liborius Church on Hogan and Market [North 18th Street], which some of you may remember.

You may also be interested to know about these triangular reliquaries and the large red ones and other relics we have embedded in the altars.  We are the third largest repository of relics in the archdiocese after both cathedrals and the CSJ motherhouse.  That’s the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet down on [Holly Hills] and Minnesota Avenue and, itself, worth a visit to see the remarkable chapel where they have the body of a child saved from Roman times entombed.

You’ll also notice the wonderful organ we have in the back choir loft built in 1856 by [?] Jacob Pfeiffer.  And, immediately above it, we have the crest of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger, the first German pope in seven-hundred years.  As the first German church of the diocese, we’re honoring him [by using], at his request, the emblem of his office using a mitre rather than the tiara which is on Pope St. John Paul II’s coat of arms here.

As an overture ecumenically to our East Orthodox brethren, he switched to the mitre for his coat of arms and incorporated elements of his see in Munich-Freising, Germany that he was promoted by them to become pope.  And, having ancestors from Bavaria, that means a little something to me.

The stained-glass windows were made between 1846 and 1896 by two firms: the Hoffman Company and the Emil Frei Art Glass Company.  The Hoffman Company went out of business in 1890; the Emil Frei Art Glass Company is still in business.  And you might have seen the article in the Post-Dispatch last week on Erin and Nicholas Frei who have been down to this church as visitors along with their dad and granddad, Robert Frei, who was the gentleman who inherited the studio from Emil Frei, Sr., himself a Bavarian immigrant who came first from San Francisco in the 1890s, then to St. Louis and really developed the art of stained glass for Roman Catholic, Lutheran, evangelical, and many other denominational churches.

And the thing that means something here also is [that] these pews, this remarkable communion rail, that baptismal font were all fabricated along with most of the altars by Professor Maximilian Schneiderhahn.  And, even though Maximilian is my first name, we are not related.

He was the first liturgical artist brought from Germany by Archbishop Kenrick to make church interiors for Catholic churches that were being built.  This was his first church interior; St. Pius V on South Grand Avenue was his last.  And he worked in stone, wood, marble, plaster, all sorts of media.  He made these pews in 1846.  He made that baptismal font in 1834.  More than fifteen-thousand people have been baptized.  And, our most recent addition, in terms of liturgical history, is the statue made of Father [now] Blessed Francis Seelos, a nineteenth-century Bavarian priest, in the Vatican statuary foundry in Italy.  I was privileged to uncrate it twelve years ago.

We also have a copy of Blessed Francis Seelos’s death mask on the side altar.  You’re welcome to take a look at it.  We have a portion of his sternum bone, which is locked in our safe in one of the reliquaries that honors him.  And we’re hoping the second miracle gets validated so he can be canonized— the second saint in the metro St. Louis area after Mother Philippine Rose Duchesne.

The church is remarkably churched.  As I said, it’s a granddaddy of all the ethnic parishes of the archdiocese, of all nationalities.  It is especially loved by many of the Marian Catholics in the St. Louis area.  And the Germans, the Hungarians, and the Lebanese all revere this church.  St. Raymond’s, even though it’s Maronite Rite, is very supportive of our continuance.

Something the guys and gals in this day and age might want to know, is [that] the archdiocese allows churches like ours that are historic to be open for Catholic weddings from Catholics outside parish boundaries.  Many of you grew up in the suburbs and, if you choose to hold your wedding here, you can.  And you can even bring your own priest, if you so choose.

Father Harrison, who is our chaplain— we are a chapel of ease of the archdiocese— will do the final paperwork; but the priest who will marry you will have responsibility for the preparation and the actual ceremony.  And we’ve done that many times.

I invite you to walk around and see all the remarkable artworks in the church.  And, when you realize that this church is 174 years old, in this type of condition, it’s pretty obvious Our Lord wants St. Mary of Victories Church to continue.

So, welcome, and thank you all for coming today.

Max is a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, an honor bestowed on him by Cardinal Ratzinger for his part in preserving historic churches.

smv10916-23My dad, my uncle, and, to a lesser extent, myself were German liturgical craftsmen who fabricated and plated the bronze, gold, and silver textures in the churches for the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, Lutheran, and some of the Reform churches.  Many of the Reform churches use rather notable metal ware, believe it or not.  We’ve had our business for more than 118 years.

[My dad and my uncle] volunteered down here in the 1930’s, [and] I’m glad to keep the tradition going.  I really like the German, the Hungarian, [and] the Lebanese who settled this church because… they [were] more flexible.  You could join the parish even if you weren’t that ancestry, [and] now we have all nationalities represented.

Come back anytime and have a great visit.

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, CSsR

fxs112113-1a        smv10916-65        fxs112113-1b

smv10916-44        smv10916s-57        smv10916-46

smv-bfs-a    bfs12716a    bfs12716b    smv-bfs-b

Prayer from SMV church bulletin

Our heavenly Father, long ago you inspired our… forefathers in the faith to raise this beautiful house of prayer and sacrifice in honor of your Son’s most holy mother, Our Lady of Victories.  Your providence then brought many… here under the co-patronage of this holy king, St. Stephen.  We humbly place before you today the spiritual and temporal needs of our historic church and its present-day community.  Grant us the grace to discern your holy will and to fulfill it zealously as faithful witnesses to the gospel here in the old heart of our city for as long as it may please your divine majesty.

St. Mary of Victories, pray for us.  St. Stephen of Hungary, pray for us.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

November 9, 2016

“The world tells us to seek success, power, and money; God tells us to seek humility, service, and love” (Pope Francis).

December 15, 2016

The Christian heart has always known Mary as the essence of compassion and love, to whom man can turn with particular and unreserved confidence.  This is expressed so well by the intimate name that was given her from the beginning, the name of mother (Fr. Romano Guardini in The Rosary of Our Lady).

March 5, 2017

Mother Mary is right there with us, granting her graces and lovingly pushing us forth— always towards her son, Jesus, so that we will be able to continue each day to put one foot in front of the other to walk in faith (Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle in Our Lady of Fatima).

smv10916-5

smv10916-89b

Links of interest…  Adoremus…  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos: about / biography
(more) / healernational shrine (more) / prayersprofileten tips / wonderworker…  Catholic community doesn’t look the same for everyone…  Criticism of Pope Francis rooted in misunderstanding of Vatican II: parts one, two, & three…  Hidden heart of Catholic St. Louis…  Palm Sunday (2016)…  Spirit of 79: The number of Americans proposed for sainthood…  St. Louis Mass mob: aboutfacebook…  St. Mary of Victories: about / archdiocese page / early historyfacebook (landmark) / help save the churchmediaphotos / relicswebsite…  St. Stephen: about / Aug 16 / devotion to Mary / Hungarian apostlememorial / prayerprofile / quote

WP posts…  Comforting thought…  Faces of Mary…  Familiar yet new…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Marytown shrine…  Old cathedral…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s

Old cathedral

sloc10916-17

October was a good month for travel and heartfelt wishes realized.  While in St. Louis, Missouri, we delighted in sunny daylight hours, lots of friendly folks, and three sacred spaces— the last of which was “the old cathedral,” the Basilica of St. Louis, King, in the city’s historic downtown area.

sloc10916-1      sloc10916-5      sloc10916-8

sloc10916-9      sloc10916s-6      sloc10916-12

sloc10916-98      sloc10916s-17      sloc10916-62a

sloc10916-22  sloc10916-26  sloc10916-45  sloc10916-43

sloc10916-39   sloc10916-42   sloc10916s-22   sloc10916-64

sloc10916s-27      sloc10916s-2      sloc10916-118      sloc10916-24

sloc10916-110      sloc10916-78      sloc10916-82      sloc10916s-9

sloc10916-20  sloc10916-36  sloc10916-67  sloc10916-77

sloc10916-25    sloc10916-55    sloc10916-90

sloc10916-21    sloc10916-92    sloc10916-94

stoc1 stoc2 stoc3 stoc4a stoc4b

Prayer

O God who called your servant, Louis of France, to an earthly throne that he might advance your heavenly kingdom and gave him zeal for your Church and love for your people, mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works and attain to the glorious crown of your saints through Jesus Christ, our lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

October 28, 2016

If God sends adversity receive it in patience, give thanks to our savior and think you have deserved it and that he will turn it to his advantage.  If he sends prosperity, thank him humbly so that you become not worse from pride or any other cause, but better.  For we should not fight against God with his own gifts (St. Louis of France, edited).

November 24, 2016

“In prosperity give thanks to God with humility and fear lest, by pride, you abuse God’s benefits and so offend him” (St. Louis IX).

sloc10916-109

sloc10916-122

Links of interest…  Fire of 1849about / Laclede’s Landing / more…  Gateway Arch…  Heavenly St. Louis (tours)…  Old St. Louis Cathedral: abouthistory / hours / Mass / parkingphotos / restoration / video…  Prayer: devotions (pdf) / lexionarylitany / novena…  St. Louis, king of Franceabout / admirable kingAug 25 / life (1903 ebook) / patron of barbers & grooms / servant of the poor (more)…

WP pages…  Meditations…  Prayer…  St. Joseph

WP posts…  Comforting thought…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Noon visit…  Sunday morning visit…  Two angels

Sorrowful redemption

NDC41716s-27

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

My Lord and my God, under the loving eyes of our Mother,
we are making ready to accompany you along this path of sorrow
which was the price paid for our redemption.

We wish to suffer all that you suffered,
to offer you our poor, contrite hearts,
because you are innocent; and, yet, you are going to die for us
who are the only really guilty ones.

My mother, Virgin of Sorrows,
help us to relive those bitter hours which your Son wished to spend on earth
so that we who were made from a handful of clay may finally live…
in the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

1NDC41716s-46      2NDC41716s-49      3NDC41716s-50      4NDC41716s-53

5NDC41716s-54      6NDC41716s-57      7NDC41716s-45      8NDC41716s-61

9NDC41716s-62      10NDC41716s-65      11NDC41716s-66      12NDC41716s-68

NDC41716-25     13NDC41716s-70     14NDC41716s-75     NDC41716s-7

Sonnet to Our Lord on the cross

I am not moved to love you, O my God,
that I might hope in promised heaven to dwell;
nor am I moved by fear of pain in hell
to turn from sin and follow where you trod.
You move me, Lord, broken beneath the rod
or stretched out on the cross as nails compel
your hand to twitch.  It moves me that we sell
to mockery and death your precious blood.
It is, O Christ, your love which moves me so
that my love rests not on a promised prize;
nor holy fear on threat of endless woe;
it is not milk and honey, but the flow
of blood from blessed wounds before my eyes
that waters my buried soul and makes it grow.

Contact information

The sonnet and the prayers are from the Daily Roman Missal (Rev. James Socias for Midwest Theological Forum, 1993-2011, pp. 2385 and 2369, respectively).

Prayers

O holy banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion is recalled, the soul is filled with grace, and the promise of the future glory is given to us.  Alleluia.

V.  You have given them bread from heaven.  Alleluia.
R.  Containing in itself all delight.  Alleluia.

God, who in this wonderful sacrament left us a memorial of your passion, we implore you that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of your body and blood as always to be conscious of the effects of your redemption.  You live and reign forever and ever.  Amen.

Blessed be the holy and immaculate conception of the blessed virgin, Mary, mother of God.  We adore you, Christ, and we praise you because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.  Most sacred heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

June 2, 2016

We meditate before, during, and after everything we do.  The prophet says, “I will pray, and then I will understand.”  This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work.  In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others (St. Charles Borromeo).

June 5, 2016

Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us.  What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ.  For he is all-powerful; and he tells us, “My yoke is easy, and my burden light” (St. Boniface).

June 9, 2016

The good God toils painfully, as it were; for, while he does not wish to coerce our liberty, yet neither does he permit us to be negligent.  For, were he to use coercion, he would be taking away our power of choice; were he to leave us to our negligence, he would be depriving our souls of his help.  The Lord, then, [knows] that, if he coerces us he robs us, if he withdraws his help he loses us, but if he teaches us he gains us.  [He] neither coerces nor withdraws his help as does the evil one but teaches, instructs, and so gains us since he is the Good One (St. Ephrem on free will).

June 21, 2016

“He who wishes to love God does not truly love him if he has not an ardent and constant desire to suffer for his sake” (St. Aloysius Gonzaga).

July 29, 2016

“Those who are simply upright men and women walk in the way of the Lord, but the devout run along it; and, when they are very devout, they fly” (St. Francis de Sales, Roses Among Thorns).

August 22, 2016

Christ did not promise an easy life.  Those who desire comforts have dialed the wrong number.  Rather, he shows us the way to great things; the good, toward an authentic human life (Pope Benedict XVI).

October 5, 2016

Suffering is a great grace.  Through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallized.  The greater the suffering, the purer the love (St. Faustina Kowalska).

November 10, 2016

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross.  No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ (St. Leo the Great).

November 20, 2016

“The throne of this King whom we worship… is the cross; and his triumph is the victory of love, an almighty love that, from the cross, pours out his gifts upon humanity of all times and all places” (Pope Benedict XVI).

January 6, 2017

“The love which our Lord had during his passion puts into full light God’s love for us”
(St. André Bessette).

March 2, 2017

If Jesus Christ is our way, let us not walk in the ways of the world.  Let us enter into the narrow gate through which he walked (Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet in Meditations for Lent).

April 10, 2017

Our thoughts turn to the passion and death of our Lord, and we long to share his pain with him.  What is the pain of Jesus?  It is the pain of loving and not being loved in return.  He has loved us with an everlasting love, and what do we give him in return?  We allow our minds to be preoccupied with little things and so spend many hours without thinking of Jesus.  And yet our hearts and minds, bodies and souls, belong only to him.  Let us meditate on the sufferings of Christ each day (Heidi Hess Saxton in Lent with St. Teresa of Calcutta).

NDC41716s-4

Links of interest…  At the feet of Jesus…  Blessings & dangers…  Cross of Jesus: God’s awful work of love…  Expect the unexpected…  Inside the ancient church of the Holy Sepulchre…  Introduction to the devout life: ebook (St. Francis de Sales)…  It’s time to stop fleeing from the cross…  Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: aboutbook / consecrating the hours / hymns, psalms, & readings / introduction / prayers (more)…  Mercy with every breath (Jesus prayer)…  Notre Dame Church (Mass times)…  Stabat Mater: hymn / liturgical sequence / seven sorrows / more / YouTube (more)…  Seven words of Jesus on the cross…  Stations of the cross (YT) & prayers…  Ten arrows to launch us to heaven / lessons from the agony in the garden…  Trusting in God completely & in uncertain times…  Via Crucis: Walking the passion with Jesus: one & two…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: e-book…  Way of Holy Week…  We are all marked men & women…  What Jesus saw from the cross…  Why are there stations of the cross in (almost) every Catholic church…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Call of service…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Church time blues…   Dear God…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Full circle…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  In good time…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Making meaning…  Notre Dame revisited…  Quiet prayer time…  Second looks…  Sioux chapel stations…  Today’s Beatitudes

Notre Dame revisited

NDC41716-2

After Mass in Fort Stockton I asked Steven if we could take a detour in Kerrville.  “I’ve longed to revisit Notre Dame since we met Gloria and her little girl our first time there, August 30, 2008.”

I didn’t push the issue, though.  Highway traffic had been frantic on Interstate 10, and Steven was tired.  All he wanted was to get us home safely.

Heartfelt wish

We might not pass this way again, I pleaded wishfully in silence as I kept my gaze on the road and my thoughts to myself.

“Sure,” Steven replied, despite the stormy weather looming ominously, waiting patiently to overtake us with torrential rain predicted days before.

Notre Dame revisited

Once we found the church we turned off our travel cares.

In the vestibule I met a young mother with a little girl, so reminiscent of Gloria and her little girl.  In Spanish I briefly shared the story of our first visit.  The woman was very nice, all smiles.  She didn’t know Gloria (whose last name I didn’t know) or anything about the Cursillo group that Gloria had invited us to learn more about but, from the lilt in her voice, I could tell that she understood how happy I was to be back after almost eight years.  We wished each other well before they departed for home.

I proceeded to the heart of the church where Steven was already taking photos.  A woman, sitting very still in a pew near the altar, seemed lost in meditation as we moved about, delighted in our very own (unexpected) concert: forty-five glorious minutes of music practice before evening Mass.

Steven and I spoke quietly here and there about angles, lighting, and the stations of the cross but, mostly, we savored every heavenly note and sang along as we grinned nonstop.  We were ever so grateful for God’s precious gifts at Notre Dame Church!

NDC41716s-2      NDC41716s-88      NDC41716-4      NDC41716s-6

NDC41716s-14      NDC41716s-76      NDC41716s-36

NDC41716s-19      NDC41716s-40      NDC41716s-31

NDC41716-34     NDC41716s-39     NDC41716s-43     NDC41716-30

NDC41716-19      NDC41716-20      NDC41716-26

NDC41716s-34      NDC41716s-82      NDC41716s-38

NDC41716-44b        NDC41716s-58        NDC41716s-59

NDC41716s-84        NDC41716s-89        NDC41716s-80

NDC41716s-92        NDC41716s-73        NDC41716s-86

ND41716-1   ND41716-2   ND41716-3   ND41716-4

Prayer

O ever immaculate Virgin, mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comfort of the afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy.  By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal.

I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession.  Obtain, O loving Mother, the grant of my requests.

I will endeavor to imitate your virtues that I may one day share your glory, and bless you in eternity.  Amen.

May 7, 2016

“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a mother” (St. Therese of Lisieux).

May 8, 2016

Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them.  They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy, and strong (St. Gianna Molla).

NDC41716-1

Links of interest…  Behold your Mother: This Mother’s Day, this month of May, & beyond…  Can we endure the light…  Don’t compartmentalize your faith (audio)…  Faith connected to everythingin the gospels / through love / what is…  Hear God speaking to you…  Introduction to the devout life: ebook (St. Francis de Sales)…  Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: aboutbook / consecrating the hours / hymns, psalms, & readingsintroduction / prayers (more)…  Notre Dame Church (Mass times)…  Our Lady of Lourdes: about / novena / prayer…  What is Cursillo…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: e-book…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Christ’s passion…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Dear God…  Faith and prayer…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  In good time…  Lady of Sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Little gifts…  Lourdes novenas…  Making meaning…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Agnes Church…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

St. Agnes Church

SAC41716-84

When Steven and I travel, we’re always on the lookout for Catholic churches in case we want (or need) to stop sometime.  This is why the sign for St. James Catholic Church in Sanderson caught our eye as we drove US Hwy 90 to Marathon on our way to Big Bend National Park Thursday morning.

“Three o’clock Mass on Sunday?” we both asked in disbelief.  Quite late in the day, but something to keep in mind.

Since Segy (our youngest) and I attended Mass at Big Bend, August 1993, we’d anticipated that a priest would most likely visit for Sunday Mass this time, too.  If not, we’d figure something out.  And Sanderson seemed doable.

Change in plans

We’d intended to remain at Big Bend through Monday, April 18, until we learned Friday afternoon that the park hosts only an interdenominational Sunday service at the Chisos Basin amphitheater.

“Do you want to do that?” we asked each other.  “Could we be okay with that?”

We agreed that we could do confession before Mass the following weekend, but it just didn’t feel right.  We decided instead to leave Big Bend by no later than seven-thirty Sunday morning to attend ten-thirty Mass at St. Agnes in Fort Stockton and maybe even stop by Notre Dame in Kerrville off Interstate 10, viable choices that would get us home between seven and nine that evening.

First impressions

The morning was chilly, so we quickly opened the door and stepped into the spacious vestibule at St. Agnes Church.  We could see and hear a class in progress in the large adjoining parish hall.

Since we’d arrived half an hour early and no one else was around, I explored my surroundings by taking photos until a man with two teenaged boys arrived.

“Good morning!” I smiled.

The man engaged us in small talk before making his way to his pew.  “The church will be filling up soon!” he beamed.

I had no doubt that the church community would be just as welcoming as the sacred space was beautiful.

St. Agnes Church

As more and more parishioners arrived, I wondered about the time.  The church was filled with too many tantalizing treasures— exquisite stations, paintings, statues, stained-glass windows, and more— to do them justice; so I turned off my Coolpix and changed gears, hoping for a subsequent visit someday.

I walked over to the intriguing duo— a friendly woman and an equally affable man— occupying the folding chairs to the right of the sacristy’s doorway, complimented their vibrant church community, and inquired about the stations of the cross.

Sweet parishioners, Mary Gonzales and Johnny Cordero were so eager to tell me about St. Agnes that I learned quite a bit before the opening song that prompted the start of Mass.

And the big reveal?  Besides St. Agnes and St. Joseph in Fort Stockton, St. James in Sanderson is the third mission that Fr. Serafin Avenido shepherds as part of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.  Small world, though not so much for Father, who travels more than sixty-five miles to Sanderson to celebrate Sunday Mass at three o’clock.

SAC41716-50      SAC41716-35      SAC41716-14

SAC41716-73   SAC41716-15   SAC41716-74

SAC41716-6        SAC41716-11        SAC41716-4

SAC41716-57        SAC41716-62        SAC41716-63

SAC41716-67        SAC41716-70        SAC41716-71

SAC41716-17        SAC41716-1        SAC41716-18

SAC41716-29        SAC41716-7        SAC41716-34

SAC41716-13      SAC41716-21      SAC41716-30      SAC41716-27      SAC41716-53x

SAC41716-42        SAC41716-31        SAC41716-41

SAC41716-44        SAC41716-47        SAC41716-49

SAC41716-80       SAC41716-81        SAC41716-82

SAC41716-87 SAC41716-b1 SAC41716-b2 SAC41716-b3

Deacon’s homily (edited from the audio recording of 10:30 A.M. Mass)

We sit here, and we listen.  Last week we heard a long gospel, and today’s is very short.  You wonder, “What is the Holy Spirit trying to tell us?”

So today I’ll tell you a story of a good shepherd whose flock asked questions as they walked together.

Why do we continue celebrating Easter?”

The good shepherd tells his followers, “Remember the Good Shepherd who opened salvation— all the gates of heaven— to us, his faithful.”

“How did he do this?”

“God, the father, gave up his son, the true lamb, as a sacrifice for all of us.”

“What does that mean?  Why do continue to celebrate Easter?”

“It takes our response to Easter to pass on [the faith], to help each other out.”

“How can we with all these faults; all these failures; all these weaknesses, disease, violence?  How can we continue the celebration of Easter?”

“Through [Christ’s] sacrifice, the Holy Spirit, and [all that the Church offers], God graces you with his infinite love and mercy.”

“How do we know this?”

“As you walk with me [and] live your lives, what I’ve asked you to do and what I do for you [gives] you strength [through] grace and forgiveness.”

The shepherd’s followers think back on the graces received that helped them with their problems— the times they received sacraments, the times they were embraced when they were most in need, the times they were forgiven, and the times they forgave someone— and they begin to understand why celebrating Easter is so necessary.

“So what do we do?”

“Celebrate Easter.  Be filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection.  You are today’s disciples.”

Members of the flock exchange glances.

“Where does this lead us?  What do we do?”

“Look for the good shepherds.  Look especially for the Good Shepherd who will lead you if you follow his ways.  Be good disciples, and lead others as well.  Remember that each of us was baptized to be priest, prophet, and king.  Remember that God sacrificed his own son to open heaven to all, that the Good Shepherd called us to be good people, holy people, to lead each other to the divine pasture, heaven.”

By this point, the shepherd’s followers are inspired.  They know they can walk through the dark valley of tears [through faith].

“So how about this celebration?”

“Let me tell you.  It’s not about a great deal of music, food, dancing, drinking, partying, flowers, and barbecue.  No!  It’s not that kind of celebration.

“It’s responding to God’s call with your mind, heart, and soul,” the good shepherd continues.  “It’s responding with gratitude, praise, thanksgiving, and forgiveness.  It’s asking, ‘What am I to do, Lord?  What is my mission?  Wake me up where I am.  Let me follow you.  How am I to respond within my family, my community, my parish?  What am I being called to do?’  Then just do it.

“Don’t worry.  God will give you what you need.  He’ll provide the grace, the strength, the forgiveness to get up and follow that divine Shepherd.  Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

“And then there you’ll be, entering the most divine pasture that you’ve ever seen, with anything and everything that you’ve ever wantedAmen.”

Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, you choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame.  Grant us so to cherish the memory of your youthful martyr, Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in you.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

June 10, 2016

Jesus, you are my rock!  Deepen my faith in your love, your wisdom, and your provision— no matter what collapses around me (the Word among us, June 2012, p. 49).

January 21, 2017

“You may stain your sword with my blood; but you will never be able to profane my body, consecrated to Christ” (St. Agnes).

SAC41716-2

SAC41716-64a

SAC41716-83

Links of interest…  Fort Stockton: about / attractions / county seat…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish…  Missing Mass on vacation…  Santo Niño de Atocha: miracle / novenaprayers / requests / Sanctuario de Chimayo (website) / Traditions (blog)…  St. Agnes: about (more) / devotions (more) / eve & day / feast day (more) / for kids / martyr (more) / novena / prayer (more)…  St. Agnes Church: Catholic directory / Discover Mass (bulletin) / facebook / parish history / pastoral team

WP pages…  Praise…  Saints…  St. Joseph

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Faith and prayer…  Finding St. Rita…  Forever grateful…  Grapes of generosity…  Guadalupe Church…  Kateri’s sainthood…  Little gifts…  Living one’s gifts…  Notre Dame revisited…  San Giuseppe…  Slice of heaven…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Elizabeth Church…  St. Michael chaplet…  St. Monica…  St. Peregrine relic…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Vattmann church

Unexpected detours

OLC33116-79

For more than five years I held onto a heartfelt wish: to revisit Our Lady of Consolation in Vattmann, TX.  Only I had no idea where the town was other than off Highway 77, which we travel to and from Brownsville with regularity.

Our Lady of Consolation

On one of our trips south to the valley, I asked Steven if he would treat me to lunch at King’s Inn.  And he agreed. 

From the road I spotted a red brick structure.  “Is that Our Lady of Consolation Church?”

“It must be.  I’m surprised it’s on the way to King’s Inn.”

Happy day!  What a perfect opportunity to take photos after lunch.

Unexpected detours

And the best part about stopping at church?  We met Maria, a sweet, soulful woman with connections to Sr. Maxie at Mother Julia’s Chapel and Museum in Kingsville.  Absolutely amazing, considering that we had no idea then that we’d take an unexpected detour to Kingsville (where I took more photos) on our way home three days later.

OLC33116-45      OLC33116-4      OLC33116-71

OLC33116-82        OLC33116-35        OLC33116-39

OLC33116-21   OLC33116-22   OLC33116-23   OLC33116-24

OLC33116-25   OLC33116-42   OLC33116-43   OLC33116-44

OLC33116-41    OLC33116-51    OLC33116-52    OLC33116-48

1OLC33116-55    2OLC33116-56    3OLC33116-57    4OLC33116-58

5OLC33116-59   6OLC33116-60   7OLC33116-61   8OLC33116-62

9OLC33116-63    10OLC33116-64    11OLC33116-65    12OLC33116-66

13OLC33116-68        OLC11811s-5        14OLC33116-69

OLCC32716-1 OLCC32716-2 OLCC32716-3 OLCC32716-4

OLCC-a        OLCC-cd        OLCC-ef        OLCC-b

Prayers

Consecration to the Blessed Virgin…  My Queen and my Mother, I give myself entirely to you; and, in proof of my affection, I give you my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart, my whole being without reserve.  Since I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession.  Amen.

Morning offering…  O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your sacred heart in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world; in thanksgiving for your favors; in reparation for my sins; for the intentions of all my relatives and friends; and, in particular, for the intentions of the Holy Father.  Amen.

May 24, 2016

“As a mother feels no disgust in dressing the sores of her child, so Mary, the heavenly infirmarian, never refuses to care for sinners who have recourse to her” (St. Alphonsus).

June 4, 2016

Dearest Mother, please look on your people who confidently honor you as their mother [and long] for your help and consolation.  Bless us in your heart, comfort us in our pains, stand by us in all distress, show us Jesus after our death (St. Hildegard of Bingen).

June 10, 2016

“Let us ask Our Lady’s help today in living our own dedication to the full, in whatever state God has placed us, in accordance with the specific vocation we have received from the Lord” (Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal).

OLC33116-1a

Links of interest…  Annual Thanksgiving fundraiser: 100th dinner / 2014 / giving thanks / holiday tradition / King countrypicnic (about) / special report (KIII; more)…  Father Edward J. Vattmann: about / chaplain (more) / more / photos: 1 / 2…  King’s Inn Restaurant: food / fried & true / website (contactevents)…  Manual for spiritual warfare…  Kleberg County (roots web)…  Our Lady: feasticon (more) / litany / novena / prayers / shrine (about)…  Our Lady of Consolation Church: diocesan map / facebook / one-room school house / photo / website (contact – events – history)…  TX Tropical Trail Region…  US Genealogy Web Project…   Vattmann: about / cemetery
(find a gravelocation – photos) / history / photos: wedding (c. 1910) & “where I grew up”…  The visitation & Mary, the walking tabernacle…  What does God want? A practical guide to making decisions

WP posts…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Then and now…  Vattmann church…  Vattmann Thanksgiving…  Venerable Julia Navarrete