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…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / chaplet (more) / devotion / feast / history / little crown / novena / of good health / petitions…  Padre Pio & the Christmas graces of the Infant of Prague…  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

Making meaning

Reading Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979) was like eating that exploding candy popular some years ago.  Couldn’t get enough, couldn’t stop the ricocheting, couldn’t describe the experience.

Then I reread the book off and on: In the usual sequence, back to front, front to middle, middle to either end, skipping around, revisiting parts with relish, reviewing my notes in the margins, comparing and contrasting with what I know, figuratively adding the book to my friends list.

Clear message

With all the mental pingbacks I’ve received since reading the book, the ol’ pea brain’s been so full that sharing has been delayed for lack of knowing where to start.  Still, words and phrases from the book persist, and the message is clear.

Through prayer, humility, and perseverance one can embrace the cross, surrender to God’s will, and receive God’s favors.

Connections

Teresa of Avila reminds me of St. Dominic, whose prayerful ways centered on God— mind, body, heart, and soul— and St. Anthony, whose chaplet is based on the Miraculous Responsory.   On a more personal level, too, the book provides illumination for my evolving spirituality.

Awareness

Days prior to finding Teresa of Avila on the hallway shelf, I’d been praying St. Anthony’s chaplet when, quite unexpectedly, I was filled with great awe and understanding.

Oh, my, gosh!  I get it!  I finally get it!  I know what prayer is!

I love my Franciscan Crown, and I’m greatly appreciative of the Child Jesus chaplet that Sister sent me from Australia; but my St. Anthony chaplet is so powerful that I can’t get through the prayers without tearful emotion.

While my Franciscan Crown and my Child Jesus chaplet are alike in that they commemorate special times in the lives of the Blessed Mother and the Holy Infant— some of the mysteries are even the same— St. Anthony’s chaplet is quite different.

Based on the thirteen favors of the Miraculous Responsory, the chaplet builds commitment to God with St. Anthony’s help and requires not my passive recollection, but my proactive engagement.  Its purpose is to help me become a better person, centered on God as the ultimate prize, as
St. Dominic would say.

                

Timely lesson

What a revelation to be enlightened by the power of prayer!

Was this God’s perfect timing yet again?  Did he, in his infinite wisdom as teacher extraordinaire, prepare me for Teresa of Avila?

Based on prior knowledge and experience, God’s sense of humor is too weird and too timely for me to think otherwise.

What is prayer then?

St. Dominic planted the seed.  St. Anthony nurtured it.  And St. Teresa harvested the crop.

Prayer isn’t asking God for something.  Prayer is embracing the cross.  Prayer is loving God and doing for God without giving thought to what he can do for us in return.

God grants graces to ease the pain, manage the suffering, address the injustices.  He also grants favors to whomever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants.  But not because we ask. 

This is why St. Dominic believed that we should center on God alone, not on petitioning for ourselves and others.

God knows what we need, and he provides accordingly.  In his own time.

Making meaning 

Think about it.  How many times have we asked for something and never received it?  Or we received it but not right away?  Or we received something totally different?  Or we received everything beyond our wildest imaginings along with heavily weighted crosses to bear?

I can think of one prayer I carried in my heart for more than two years.  And, oh, the agony I endured until I finally gave it up.  Completely.

Dear God, you know what’s in my heart.  You know the pain I feel.  But I love you more.  You know best.  I give it up to you.  You know what to do.

It took a lot to let go but, little by little, I was okay again.  Then, within less than a year, I received God’s wonderful surprise.  I was so happy that I couldn’t even remember the misery I’d inflicted on myself for worrying all that time before.

Sadly, I know that I can easily revert to wanting my way again.  Only now I understand better than I did before.  Prayer is loving God unconditionally, entrusting our all to his care no matter what.

Prayer

I beg you, O Lord, give me the fidelity I need to persevere with humility and constancy in this path of continual adherence to your will.  With your help I will make this practice the center of my interior life.

O my God, shall I ever fall again?  Yes, for I am frailty itself; but I know that you will be even more eager to help me rise again than I shall be prone to fall.  My firm resolution and my perseverance will be to “begin again” every day, every instant, humbling myself profoundly for my weakness, but having utter confidence in your will to sanctify my soul (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD in Divine Intimacy, 2013, p. 19).

St. Dominic’s blessing

May God the Father who made us bless us.  May God the Son send his healing among us.  May God the Holy Spirit move within us and give us eyes to see with, ears to hear with, and hands that your work might be done.  May we walk and preach the word of God to all.  May the angel of peace watch over us and lead us at last by God’s grace to the kingdom.  Amen.

April 30, 2011

Father Robert, OP at the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago shares his Daily Inspiration.

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:8).

Jesus said over and over again: “Be not afraid.”  Ambivalence can make life difficult.  [Being] irresolute, uncertain, indecisive… can create… anxiety.  Knowing what to do, how to judge, when to decide are all questions that can be the source of much concern and doubt.  Fears can be immobilizing to needed action.  Often our hearts are ambivalent.  In examining and evaluating one’s lifestyle, we can easily perceive that changes are in order.  This certainly is true in our relationship with God.  Spiritual writers tell us that to grow in the spirit we must let go, abandon things with which we feel most in control.  We need to break free and simplify our lives.  We are advised not to cling to things and patterns of behavior but to “let go” and cling to God.  As we move freely forward in life, trust helps us venture out, holding on tightly to God’s hand.  Trust and confidence in God’s loving care and protection are the assurance we need to move ahead in the new and exciting adventure of loving him more.

June 25, 2011

Jesus, I surrender.  I give you all of my sickness, all of my wounds, all of my grief.  You are my only hope, Lord.  Stretch out your hand and touch me with your love (the Word among us, June 2011, p. 44).

July 5, 2011

Father Robert, OP adds this Daily Inspiration.

One of his disciples said; “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4).

Sometime when you want to find new meaning in saying the Lord’s Prayer consider the advice of St. Teresa of Avila by saying “The Our Father” backwards.  Start from the end verse.  Mediate on each line and thought as you move toward the beginning.  It starts simply by asking God to help us fight against evil, then proceeds to asking for the needs we have to sustain our lives each day— our daily bread— this is “all that keeps us going,” physically and spiritually and then ends with the grand praise of praise, seeking God’s kingdom on earth in our hearts and in all we do.  It closes with the loving title addressed to God the Father, Abba, calling God our loving, “darling” father.

July 10, 2011

Welcome, Master of the harvest!  Sow your word in every part of me.  Grow whatever crop you desire.  I want to know you and love you more each day (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 31).

August 3, 2012

“The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us, but that we will finally hear God” (William McGill).

August 17, 2012

“Pray for the grace” is an excerpt from The Ignatian Adventure (Kevin O’Brien, SJ;
E-Magis).

Ignatian spirituality taps into our deepest desires.  In them we can discern God’s noble desires for us.

Thus, at the beginning of each prayer period, Ignatius advises that we pray for a certain grace, or gift from God: “Ask God our Lord for what I want and desire” (SE 48).  Simply naming what we deeply desire opens us to receive the gift God wants to give us.  Moreover, praying for a grace helps us to notice when we actually receive that gift later on.  In this way, we realize that the grace is not of our own making but is the result of God’s generosity to us.  Finally, praying out of our desires grounds us in the present, keeping our prayer “real.”

August 12, 2014

“If we patiently accept through love all that God allows to happen, then we will begin to taste even here on earth something of the delights the saints experience in heaven”
(St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

October 16, 2014

“Prayer is ‘a conscious turning to the invisible friend who is always near'” (St. Teresa of Avila).

March 20, 2015

“It is essential to begin the practice of prayer with a firm resolution of persevering in it” (St. Teresa of Avila).

April 22, 2015

Faith believes, hope prays, and charity begs in order to give to others.  Humility of heart forms the prayer, confidence speaks it, and perseverance triumphs over God himself (St. Peter Julian Eymard).

May 19, 2015

“To speak heart to heart with God, you must love to be with him alone” (St. Peter Celestine).

May 22, 2015

Just as God, by the ministry of nature, gives to each animal instincts needed for its preservation and the exercise of its natural properties, so too, if we do not resist God’s grace, he gives to each of us the inspirations needed to live, work, and preserve ourselves in the spiritual life (St. Francis de Sales in Finding God’s will for you).

June 5, 2015

When praying to God, we can only ask for God since he is everything and, in giving himself, he gives us all.  In asking for him, we ask for all.  When we possess him, we can wish and ask for nothing more (Dom Augustin Guillerand in The Prayer of the Presence of God).

August 8, 2015

“We must sow the seed, not hoard it” (St. Dominic).

August 29, 2015

“No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

August 30, 2015

Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel.  Go and find him when your strength and patience are giving out, when you feel lonely and helpless.  Say to him: “You know well what is happening, my dear Jesus.  I have only you.  Come to my aid….”  And then go your way.  And don’t worry about knowing how you are going to manage.  It is enough to have told our good Lord.  He has an excellent memory (St. Jeanne Jugan).

November 13, 2015

If God seems slow in responding, it is because he is preparing a better gift.  He will not deny us.  God withholds what you are not yet ready for.  He wants you to have a lively desire for his greatest gifts.  All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart (St. Augustine).

November 18, 2015

“We cultivate a very small field for Christ; but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self” (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

June 16, 2016

“To love God is something greater than to know him” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

August 20, 2016

There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity.  There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity.  There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is love (St. Bernard).

September 19, 2016

God answers every prayer, but sometimes the answer is no.  And, if it is no, we’re better off— if we love God.  That’s why Jesus wants us to say “thy will be done” in the Our Father.  That is the sure way to happiness— the will of God (Fr. T. G. Morrow in Overcoming Sinful Anger).

January 22, 2017

God is my longing.  In whatever way God comes.  In every form, through every experience and circumstance, painful or otherwise.  God.  Only God (Paula D’Arcy in The Divine Spark).

June 15, 2017

Jesus wants us to trust him to take care of all our yesterdays and tomorrows.  He looks for souls who are willing to see the Father in every happening, then give that circumstance to him to solve, justify, make right, or straighten out.  It is not easy but it is peaceful, for we are bearing good fruit.  God is bearing fruit within us (Mother Angelica on Suffering and Burnout).

June 28, 2017

The only thing that matters in life is doing the will of God.  Once you are doing the will of God, then everything else matters (Hubert van Zeller in Holiness for Housewives).

June 30, 2017

I will attempt, day by day, to break my will into pieces. I want to do God’s holy will, not my own (St. Gabriel Possenti).

July 11, 2018

We must not gauge our devotion by what we feel, but rather by what we are ready to endure.  Indeed, it often happens that God tries the most advanced by letting them experience a coldness and deadness in prayer such as ordinary people seldom experience and none could endure in such times if their love for God were not very deep and strong, ruling and sustaining the will (Fr. Basil W. Maturin in Spiritual Guidelines for Souls Seeking God).

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Links of interest…  Carmelites…  Dominican heart from the beginning…  Fight or flight & the wings of prayer…  Focus on holiness: Rejoice & be glad…  Hidden grace of unanswered prayers…  Humble French priest is teaching me to find peace & growth in suffering…  Jesus asks a question…  Letting go…  Love is a call to action (homily)…  Meditations (book review)…  Prayer: petition / six things necessary…  Simple five-step strategy to figure out what you really want…  St. Dominic: about (more) / & the living word (seed) / contemplation / prayer: biographical documentsblessing (song) – feast day – for various virtues – for vocation – litany – nine ways (more) – novena…  St. Jeanne Jugan: 1792-1879 / about / beacon / blog / books / canonization (video; 2009) / contact / Little Sisters of the Poor / memorial (YouTube) / sayings…  Teresa of Avila: 1515-1582 / about / author / biography / bookmark / books / bread recipe / chaplet prayers / convent (Avila) / doctor (1970) / feast (Oct 15) / history / interior castle (1921 book online) / patron / poems / prayer / profile / reformer / quotes / saint / timeline / works…  Teresian Carmel…  Wisdom from a 93-year-old singing nun…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Dear God…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  In good time…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  One prayer…  Prayerful ways…  Seven dwelling places…  Si quaeris miracula…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Venerable Margaret

Repeated prayers

On our way to January’s Texas Tropical Trail (TTT) monthly partner event in Vattmann and Sarita, I told Ruthie the story of my Franciscan Crown.  Then I asked what her favorite colors were— “blue and beige”— and left it at that.

Beautiful couple

CMx11410-596We first met Ruthie and Bill on the Cozumel cruise with our church group in January 2010.  We sat together for dinner all but one evening.

To say she was a hoot is an understatement.  During dinner our last evening on the ship, Ruthie got up to dance with the staff and didn’t sit back down until the entertainment was over!

CMx11410-597I took photos, but the lighting was so bad that Ruthie was just a blur, though I did catch Bill looking back at her over his shoulder.

“Oh, my gosh!  Here she goes again!” Bill’s rolling eyeballs seemed to say with humor and resignation.

Thinking about it still makes me laugh, as it was beyond hilarious!  And memorable!

So, yes.  Ruthie is very special, very personable, and oh-so full of life.  She’s always up for another adventure.

Shared space

After the cruise, we saw each other a few times at church after Sunday Mass and at the one fish fry I attended.  Ruthie and Bill were so much fun that even our good buddies, Mary Ellen (pictured here) and hubby, Steve— both part of our dinner group on the cruise— enjoyed their company, too.

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They made such a lasting impression that Steven wished Ruthie and Bill were locals instead of winter Texans here only January and February.

So, of course, when they returned this year, we could hardly wait to spend time with them again.

We invited them to join us on our TTT outing, which we were pretty sure they’d enjoy; and we followed up with dinner here at home.

Ruthie’s Crown

Ruthie21211Before Ruthie and Bill arrived I had enough time to bead her Franciscan Crown and put together a booklet with the stories and the prayers.

The Crown was blue but had white instead of beige, which Ruthie said was “close enough.  I like white, too.”

Then Ruthie told me that she loves to praise God, especially during her walks on the beach.  She’s never had to think twice about “going straight to him,” no matter what’s on her mind.  Ruthie knows she can always count on God’s guidance and love, so she’s never cultivated a relationship with the Blessed Mother.

I used to be pretty much the same way.

“Growing up we’d take flowers to Mary during the month of May, and we said the rosary once in a while.  Then, during my doctoral studies, I took to praying the rosary at bedtime.  Still, I wasn’t particularly devoted to Mary; but it all changed after I broke my kneecap.  That’s when I asked God to give me a different way to pray the rosary since I dreaded Tuesdays and Fridays.  The sorrowful mysteries made me very sad.”

“Couldn’t you just skip them?” Ruthie asked.

“Well, no.  I didn’t feel right doing that, so I prayed them anyway.  Until I discovered the Franciscan Crown.”

“I haven’t ever been into saying all those prayers,” Ruthie added.

“But that’s the beauty of the Franciscan Crown.  You only pray Our Father‘s and Hail Mary‘s.  There aren’t any extra prayers as with the traditional rosary.  It’s so simple to say that it only takes seventeen minutes.”

“But why are there so many repeated prayers?  I get lost after a while, and then I start thinking about all these other things that have nothing to do with prayer.”

“I’d never thought of it that way.  I’ve just never questioned repeated prayers,” I said, knowing I’d be looking online to find some answers.  “But it’s okay to go off on tangents.  Think of it as your way of sharing what’s on your mind with the Blessed Mother.  I’m pretty sure she understands.”

I had lots to tell Ruthie about the Franciscan Crown, but we still had the blogs and her Yahoo email account to talk about.  And dinner was almost ready.  Besides, I’d included everything she needed to know in the little booklet I’d bound for her; and she could always email me.

Comments welcome

Ruthie emailed three days later.

I actually was able to meditate and pray two decades on my Crown the other night waiting for sleep.  Deli, please help me understand how this repetition is honoring Mary.  I feel I am just saying words without meaning compared with my running dialogues with Jesus… praising him, thanking him, sharing my most inner thoughts, cares, worries (just as we do with each other).  HELP!!

Ruthie’s three questions

I’d been so focused on catching up with my blog posts that I hadn’t yet completed my online search on repeated prayers, so I immediately got to work on finding answers to Ruthie’s queries: Why pray to Mary?  Why pray ten Hail Mary’s with each rosary decade?  What about distractions?

Answers gleaned— or not

(This part of my post was last readdressed March 23, 2016.)

Question three took four years to ruminate.  Based on personal practice, I replaced my original response (based on online searches) with what has come to work for me.

Through persistence and experimentation with daily prayer I’ve discovered, finally, a very special proactive engagement, mind, body, heart, and soul, that makes me smile with anticipation.

SAC41716-69Sooo…  Set goals and objectives.  Establish a routine, but don’t feel badly when it’s derailed.  Focus on specific prayers, such as those you’ve come to love and enjoy.  And do mix and match here and there when you come across new (old) prayers in your daily readings and/or thoughtful friends suggest some.

I start with a simple prayer of thanksgiving and praise in the morning.  I ask the Holy Infant to bless children past, present, and future, especially those most in need of his tender loving care.  I offer my day for my grandchildren and for those most in need of God’s blessings.  Throughout the day I also dialogue with the Blessed Mother and the angels and saints; visit with friends and family mentally; and set aside three special times— morning, noon, and evening— to bless the Infant for my day and spend quality time with him in prayer.  But what I look forward to most is my regular exercise period on the treadmill and/or the air bike, as this is my true alone time to focus on favorite devotions that help me build community within God’s kingdom.

Questions one and two I still haven’t gotten around to.  Since the day that Ruthie asked her questions, I’ve checked a lot of sources and have found nothing that truly suits me.

What I’d included here previously was okay but laughable not because the information didn’t make sense, but because the sources weren’t all that scholarly.  Hmm.  Make that at all scholarly.

Don’t get me wrong.  The information gleaned at the time made perfect sense, but the sources weren’t what I would’ve preferred.  So, shame on me for quoting and citing what was available at the time.  But maybe I thought no one would read my post?!!  What I recall is having searched ad nauseum to little avail.  And does it help to know that— mea culpa, mea culpa— I’ve revisited this post way too many times to mention since February 25, 2011, only to ponder the topic further?

Regardless, today is not the day I’m staying up all night reworking responses; so Ruthie’s first two questions will remain pending until I find (read) enough reliable sources that I can paraphrase and/or quote and cite.

Of course, I could add my thoughts alone.  That’s what I did with the third question last year, but This Inquiring Mind wants to know if answers from valid sources exist because, based on what I read earlier, nothing addresses the questions.  Or maybe I haven’t looked enough— or in the right places?

Suffice it to say that some of us Catholics take on devotions just because and don’t ask why.  Others want to know why and have the right to expect answers.  I, personally, have no qualms about repeated prayers.  Maybe it’s something I grew up with?  Maybe it’s an acquired practice?  Maybe the familiarity is soothing?  Does anyone really know?  Has anyone done research in the field?

I have my devotions and that’s that.  But God created us uniquely.  We are not Stepford Catholics.  And, if we are to embrace devotions, then they need to be appealing, or they’ll either fall by the wayside or not be enjoyed at all.  That would be a shame, considering the many beautiful devotions waiting for a chance to grow on us, as in, “adopt me today!”

This has nothing to do with faith, though!  Or the lack of it, please! 

Prayer is a personal preference, just as some folks enjoy dialoguing with Jesus while others go directly to God.  Or to Mary.  Or to the saints.  “Remember that faith is a gift and a disposition, not a set of rules and tasks that one must accomplish” (the Word among us, August 2008, p. 18).

Anyway, my pea brain is already working at lightning speed ruminating morsels here and there, so we’ll see what I come up with— eventually— so please don’t hold your breath, as I may be a while!  In the meantime, one question answered out of three ain’t bad, right?!!  Thank goodness for a sense of humor and the fact that I don’t purport to “know it all.”

Prayerful thoughts

Thankfully, St. Anthony’s thoughts on prayer came to mind as I pondered Ruthie’s questions and my online reading.

The Lord manifests himself to those who pause while in peace and humility of heart….  God, in order to be able to speak to the soul and fill it with the knowledge of his love, leads it to the solitude, detaching it from preoccupations of earthly things.  He speaks to the ears of those who are silent and makes them hear his secrets (St. Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231).

No doubt, Ruthie had engaged God in lots of conversation while waiting for my response so, after much reflecting, I was ready to share.

Personalized prayer

Thank you, Ruthie, for your perspective.  If you hadn’t shared your thoughts, I never would’ve wondered about repeated prayers, much less looked for enlightenment. 

I agree with you on the personalized prayer.  God has your listening ear, and you have his.  I feel the same way, even though I keep company with the Infant throughout the day.  And St. Anthony and St. Jude and—  God did give us our intercessors, so I visit with many.  Moreover, that you’re a sponge absorbing new ideas in your prayer life says that you’re open to endless possibilities.

The way I see it, God is so diversified and so totally awesome that he loves for us to surprise him.  I think he laughs himself silly when we challenge ourselves to change.  I also think that he’s tickled pink when we look for ways to please him, don’t you?

Repeated prayers

Finally, the Franciscan Crown has special meaning for me.  My broken kneecap led to my daily walks on the beach, which led to keeping company with my traditional rosary, which led to my posed question, which led to change, which led to a meaningful relationship with the Blessed Mother.

Walking the beach day after day I became acutely aware of God’s presence, too.  I sensed his loving gaze as he listened in on our conversations; encouraged our interactions; grew our devotion to one another; and guided us to our sacred space, our very special time together.  

Moreover, I discovered, thanks to my Franciscan Crown, that repeated prayers calm the waves in my otherwise stormy sea.

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Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima

O Most Holy Virgin Mary, queen of the most holy rosary, you were pleased to appear to the children of Fatima and reveal a glorious message.  We implore you, inspire in our hearts a fervent love for the recitation of the rosary.  By meditating on the mysteries of the redemption that are recalled therein may we obtain the graces and virtues that we ask through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.  Amen.

November 14, 2011

The lovely Ning shared this related morsel from “Dear Padre” (Hamrogue, 2011).

Don’t be discouraged if your thoughts wander all over the place.  That’s part of the secret of the rosary: It opens your deeper self to you and to God.  The important thing is to want to pray, to walk with Mary, to honor and love Jesus.

Be faithful.  Keep praying.  It’s shaping you and guiding you even when what you feel is nothing and what you think is anything and everything.

April 3, 2014

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit (Aristotle).

February 20, 2015

“Recite your rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence, and with perseverance”
(St. Louis de Montfort).

May 10, 2015

Humility is to the various virtues what the chain is in a rosary.  Take away the chain and the beads are scattered; remove humility, and all virtues vanish (St. John Vianney).

December 5, 2015

“When you see the storm coming, if you seek safety in that firm refuge which is Mary, there will be no danger of your wavering or going down” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

December 8, 2015

“As sailors are guided by a star to the port, so are Christians guided to heaven by Mary” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

March 15, 2016

To swim with the tide in this case is cowardice, since we have to fight and swim against the tide of this ocean.  Whomever wants to shine the light upon the road for this century must ignite his torch in the light of revelation
(St. Clement Maria Hofbauer).

May 10, 2016

“My greatest pleasure is to go there [the cemetery] to say my beads and meditate on that unending happiness which so many of them are already enjoying” (St. Damien of Molokai).

May 25, 2016

“All the ways of this world are as fickle and unstable as a sudden storm at sea”
(St. Venerable Bede).

May 30, 2016

Our day begins with prayer and ends with prayer.  Some days, we pray mindfully and other days our minds may be far away even as we are praying.  When I cannot focus during prayer, I have to bring myself back to what I want to do, which is to pray.  No one’s prayer will ever be perfect; however, God does not want perfection.  He simply wants some of our time and attention.  Surely all of us can give this gift every day! (Monday Message by Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB: “The number of psalms to be sung at these hours – RB 17″).

May 31, 2016

Let the name of Mary be ever on your lips; let it be indelibly engraven on your heart.  If you are under her protection, you have nothing to fear; if she is propitious, you will arrive at the port of salvation (St. Bernard).

August 1, 2016

The heart of man will never find true peace if it does not empty itself of all that is not God.  But this the soul cannot do of itself; it must obtain it of God by repeated prayers (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

August 2, 2016

In order to succeed in prayer, it should be done when we first awaken, when our whole being is calm and recollected.  We need to make our meditation before anything else (St. Peter Julian Eymard).

August 31, 2016

You wish to have a devout and peaceful spirit, which is not a small thing to wish for.  The virtue of devotion is nothing other than a general inclination and readiness of the spirit to do what is pleasing to God (St. Francis de Sales in Roses Among Thorns).

September 8, 2016

“Storms make trees take deeper roots” (Dolly Parton).

September 9, 2016

Ask not for an easy life.  [Rather,] ask for the strength to face the elements; to weather the storms; to be the might for the right and the weak; to be the voice for those who cannot speak; to see one’s dreams to fruition with dignity, integrity, and grace (Giac Nguyen).

September 26, 2016

Prayer is the most effective communication with God and the saints.  Prayer strengthens us, gives us resolve, and helps us to carry our daily crosses
(Fr. Amador Garza, Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle).

January 13, 2017

There is no space where God is not; space does not exist apart from him.  He is in heaven, in hell, beyond the seas; dwelling in all things and enveloping all.  Thus he embraces, and is embraced by, the universe, confined to no part of it but pervading all (St. Hilary).

January 24, 2017

“We shall steer safely through every storm as long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God” (St. Francis de Sales).

February 24, 2017

“In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could harden our hearts, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of God’s boundless love, to taste his tenderness” (Diane M. Houdek in The Hope of Lent).

March 28, 2017

“The storms that are raging around you will turn out to be for God’s glory, your own merit, and the good of many souls” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina).

April 10, 2017

“We do not become perfect by the multiplication of exercises, penances, and austerities, but rather by the purity of love with which we do them” (St. Francis de Sales).

May 6, 2017

By the divine pleasure of the Father, Mary invites us to enter into the mysteries of faith presented to us through the holy rosary and to receive the graces they offer.  As we are transformed more and more by their power and light, we can come to “the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).  And we can battle against the powers of darkness to bring this, our day and time, into the victory of the cross (Johnnette S. Benkovic and Thomas K. Sullivan in The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare).

May 18, 2017

If God asks you to walk on the turbulent waters of adversity, do not doubt, do not fear, because God is with you.  Have courage and you will be safe
(St. Francis de Sales).

June 2, 2017

When you look into muddy or choppy water, you will not see your face reflected.  If you want the face of Christ who looks on you to be reflected within you, come away from the disturbance of exterior things and let your soul be at peace (St. Anthony of Padua).

June 5, 2017

The Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s different stresses.  Our duty is not to abandon ship, but to keep her on her course
(St. Boniface).

June 29, 2017

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning how to dance in the rain (Vivian Greene).

July 3, 2017

In an intimate, personal relationship, two people may repeat to each other certain expressions of love and each time the words express the heartfelt affection they have for one another.  Repetition is part of the language of love. 

In reciting the Hail Mary throughout the rosary, we participate over and over again the wonder-filled response of Gabriel and Elizabeth to the mystery of Christ.  The name of Jesus, spoken with tender love, becomes the heartbeat of the the rosary (Edward Sri in Praying the Rosary Like Never Before).

July 6, 2017

O, Mary, my mother, be my refuge and my shelter.  Give me peace in the storm.  I am tired on the journey.  Let me rest in you.  Shelter and protect me (St. Bernadette Soubirous).

July 11, 2017

We must not gauge our devotion by what we feel but, rather, by what we are ready to endure.  Indeed, it often happens that God tries the most advanced by letting them experience a coldness and deadness in prayer such as ordinary people seldom experience and none could endure in such times if their love for God were not very deep and strong, ruling and sustaining the will (Fr. Basil W. Maturin in Spiritual Guidelines for Souls Seeking God).

August 20, 2017

May we all find creative ways to incorporate prayer in our homes— whether that means praying one decade of a rosary each evening or reading a psalm together every morning.  May we make it a point to express our love and appreciation to each other with our words and [our] warm embraces.

It doesn’t take much to make our homes into houses of prayer.  It just takes a willing heart and an opening to God’s blessing.  Even if we make mistakes along the way, we can be sure that we will make progress (the Word among us, July/August 2017, p. 72).

October 5, 2017

The rosary is a very old devotion which has exercised an immeasurable influence.  It is, above all, dear to pious people and belongs to their lives like the work they do and the bread they eat (Romano Guardini in The Rosary of Our Lady).

October 19, 2017

What would you think of a father who took his daughter’s scribbled picture, tore it up, and told her not to draw again until she got it exactly right?  No good father would do that!

God looks at us the way a good dad looks at his son or daughter.  When it comes to prayer, our heavenly Father sees our hearts, our sincere desires to pray well, not just our final products in prayer.  So even if our praying of the rosary ends up being just a bunch of scribbles, we should remember that God can write straight with our crooked lines.  He can delight in our good intentions, our sincere desires to please him in prayer, even if our minds go someplace else.  Having a good intention is more important than maintaining perfect attention throughout prayer (Edward Sri in Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth).

July 12, 2018

I think there is a special place in purgatory for the person that originated the notion that some places count more than others do.  Did this individual ever consider what this implies about the God who longs for us?  Imagine God saying, “I’m not listening, Gary, because you are on the treadmill.”  That is certainly not the God of Jesus Christ.  The Father always hears us, whenever and wherever we cry out to him (Fr. Gary Caster in Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple).

January 14, 2019

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship” (Louisa May Alcott).

March 19, 2020

“Even in a world that’s being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong” (St. Hildegard of Bingen).

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Gulf of Mexico: Heading to Galveston, TX from Cozumel

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Marker 42 – Port Aransas, TX

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Links of interest…  Beads & the repetition of the rosary…  Cardinal Tobin’s real-life approach to faith…  Does Mary hear our prayers like God…  Drawing a bead on Mary…  Everyone experiences God…  Faith: A matter of the heart or head…  Five ways to improve your prayer life…  God is Inviting You (blog: Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB)…  Help in the stormy seas of life…  How long does it take to say the rosary / saints overcame distraction during prayerto deal with distractions during prayerwe react to the storms in our lives…  Mary as my refuge / teaches us to alleviate the suffering of others…  Perseverance is the key to overcome distractions in prayer…  Prayer is not an emptying of the mind / learning processtakes practice: five ways to improve…  Rosary: 10 ways to not hate25 things to know / about / center / crown of roses / foundation / holy / joyful brevity / psalter / Q&A / secret / seemingly endlessly repeated prayer / seven joys (Franciscanmeditations & reflections) & sorrows / spiritual sword of Maryten reasons to pray / traditional prayers (more) / virtual / wonders…  Seven keys to praying without ceasing…  Simplicity in devotion…  St. Mary de Cerevellon…  St. Paul & distractions in prayer…  To Jesus through Mary…  TX Tropical Trail…  Want to know what God wants from you?  Try total immersion…  What to do when you’re distracted while praying…  When Jesus doesn’t calm the storm / life feels like a raging storm… Why Catholics play dumb / rosary is not “vain repetition”…  Women bloggers spark an evangelical “crisis of authority”

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Making meaning…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Repeated prayers…  Sorrowful redemption…  Vattmann church…  Vattmann Thanksgiving…  Verbosity

Mary’s miraculous medal

I was so captivated by the Franciscan Crown, as described by Miles and Gianopoulos in Saint Anthony of Padua (1991), that I began praying it using my five-decade rosary.  Of course, no matter where I started decades six and seven I usually lost my place.  So I designed my own!

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Miraculous medal

Because the Franciscan Crown is a celebration of events in the Blessed Mother’s life with Jesus, I envisioned a rosary with Mary in mind.  For this reason, my Franciscan Crown uses Catherine Labouré’s miraculous medal of Mary (MMM) rather than the traditional crucifix.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until a friend asked about the medal on the Crown that I remembered the countless mailings I’d received from both the Association of the Miraculous Medal (AMM) and the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal (CAMM) over the years.

Virtual novena

When I looked online to learn more and read the story behind the miraculous medal, I found not only CAMM’s print version of the prayers, but also the virtual novena to pray aloud with Brother Towey.  The website was such a treasure trove that I included the link on our church website.  Until I discovered the link was broken.

Printable novena

I searched online and discovered CAMM’s revamped, user-friendly site.  I especially liked the YouTube version of the virtual novena, since it had more photos to view during the prayers.  The only drawback, as I told Father Tom in an email, was that “the novena prayers aren’t print-friendly anymore.”

Still, I wasn’t concerned.  I’d enjoyed CAMM’s audio novena so much in the past that I’d saved its accompanying written prayers to a desktop file (2008; below).

But why not spread the word so that others can share in the Blessed Mother’s love?

Intercessory power

AMM-healing-aDuring my convalescence from a triply-broken kneecap, I experienced the healing power of the miraculous medal of Mary and the Franciscan Crown, which prompted me to bead Crowns for friends and interested others.

In no time at all, friends keeping company with the Blessed Mother shared their miracles.  Three didn’t have cancer as numerous tests had suggested.  One in dire need of a kidney suddenly experienced improved health for an extended period of time before finally undergoing a successful organ transplant.  Another received the unexpected blessing of a second son after the tragic death of a firstborn son, and still another regained the sense of feeling she’d lost since her surgery.

After seven whopper miracles, I stopped documenting.  I decided to just walk in faith, give thanks and praise along the way, and rejoice with each shared story.

Imagine.  To experience the Blessed Mother’s intercessory power, I only had to pray the Franciscan Crown.  Alone.  Without meeting others in one locale, without reciting prayers at a specific time.  And I never asked for anything.  I simply conversed with Our Lady through my prayer beads… and envisioned her walking beside me on the beach.  By focusing on Mary’s seven joys with Jesus, I sensed God so strongly that I didn’t have a care in the world.  I forgot myself, and things worked out just fine.

So, yes.  I’m definitely a believer!

Miracles big and small are possible, so why not embark on a special journey with the Blessed Mother through the MMM novena and the Franciscan Crown?  After all, she’s “compassionate… to all… devoted children who… call… with confidence” (Our Lady to San Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin; the Word among us, Advent 2011, p. M36).

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Prayers

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.  To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.  To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and, after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.  Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal…  Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we unite ourselves to you under your title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.  May this medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your motherly affection for us and a constant reminder of our filial duties toward you.  While wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your son.  Most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives so that, like you, we may live and act according to the teaching and example of your son.  Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death so that, in union with you, we may enjoy the happiness of heaven forever.  Amen.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.
St. Catherine Labouré, pray for us (AMM, 2010).

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (2)…  You are blessed among all women!  Blessed are you who have believed!  The Mighty One worked marvels for you!  The marvel of your divine motherhood!  And in view of it, the marvel of your immaculate conception!  The marvel of your “let it be done to me!”

You were so continually associated to the whole work of our redemption, associated with the cross of our savior [that] your heart was pierced at the side of his heart.  And now, in the glory of your son, you unceasingly intercede for us, poor sinners.

You watch over the Church whose mother you are.  You watch over each of your children.  You obtain from God, for us, all these graces symbolized by the rays of light coming from your open hands.  If only we dare to ask them from you and come to you with the confidence and simplicity of a child.

And so you guide us unceasingly toward your son, Jesus (AMM Bulletin 44:7; October 2011, p. 3).

November 21, 2012

AMM2016-3a“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” (Father Francis Fernandez Carvajal).

May 8, 2014

“In trial or difficulty I have recourse to Mother Mary, whose glance alone is enough to dissipate every fear” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

September 11, 2014

I simply wish to note that the figure of Mary of Nazareth sheds light on womanhood as such by the very fact that God in the sublime event of the Incarnation of his Son entrusted himself to the ministry, the free and active ministry of a woman (St. Pope John Paul II).

October 11, 2014

“Let us run to Mary and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence” (St. Francis de Sales).

March 25, 2015

O sinner, be not discouraged but have recourse to Mary in all your necessities.  Call her to your assistance, for such is the divine will that she should help in every kind of necessity (St. Basil the Great).

August 22, 2015

“Immaculate Heart of Mary, cause of our joy, pray for us” (St. Francis of Assisi).

October 8, 2015

If you wish to convert anyone to the fullness of the knowledge of Our Lord and of his mystical body, then teach him the rosary.  One of two things will happen.  Either he will stop saying the rosary— or he will get the gift of faith (Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen).

October 29, 2015

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).

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Immaculate Conception Cathedral – Brownsville, TX

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Pdf file…  MMM novena prayers (printable) from CAMM

Links of interest…  AMM: medal’s story and its meaning / prayers for all occasions /
votive lights / virtual tour of the national shrine…  CAMM: sermons & novenas videos / vigil lights / who we are…  Catherine Labouré: & the miraculous medal (more) / have you got enough / miraculous medal / November 27 / OLRL booklet / sister of charity…  Divine Intimacy meditation: Mary’s hope…  Franciscan Crown: seraphic rosary / seven joys…  God’s special weapon against evil: Spiritual mothers…  Mary: about / & the Holy Spirit / beloved of the Trinity / gate of heaven / page / pray for usprayer corner / untier of knots…  Miracle hunter: Miracles & evangelization…  Our Lady of Corpus Christi (OLCC) website…  St. Anthony’s GuildThat wondrous miraculous medal of the Immaculate Conception…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers
…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Repeated prayers…  Si quaeris miracula

Mary’s seven joys

The Blessed Mother appeared to a Franciscan novitiate who daily had visited her in prayer from the time he was a child.

“Would you like to learn how to pray in a manner pleasing to me?” Our Lady asked.

The Franciscan Crown, known also as the Rosary of the Seven Joys of Mary, is more than a celebration of the Blessed Mother’s life with Jesus.  It’s an endearing journey resplendent with everyday miracles.

How to pray the Franciscan Crown

Begin each decade with an Our Father and follow with ten Hail Mary’s.  Then, at the end, pray two additional Hail Mary’s for a total of seventy-two, which represent the years Our Lady lived on earth.  The Crown has no other prayers before, between, or after the decades, unless you count the sign of the cross before and after the rosary.

Mary’s seven joys

First, the annunciation…
Second, the visitation…
Third, the nativity…
Fourth, the adoration of the Magi…
Fifth, the finding in the temple…
Sixth, the apparition of the risen Jesus…
Seventh, the assumption and coronation of Mary…

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Ave Regina Caelorum

Hail, Queen of the heavens.  Hail, Lady of the angels.  Root of our salvation and our gateway to heaven, the light of the world was born to you.  Be joyful, Virgin of glory, most beautiful of all in heaven.  We greet you now, true beauty.  Pray for us to Christ.

Solemn Act of Consecration by Pope Pius VII

Most holy virgin, Mary, tender mother of men, to fulfill the desires of the sacred heart of Jesus and the request of the vicar of your son on earth, we consecrate ourselves and our families to your sorrowful and immaculate heart, queen of the most holy rosary; and we recommend to you all the people of our country and all the world.

Please accept our consecration, dearest mother, and use us as you wish to accomplish your designs in the world.

O sorrowful and immaculate heart of Mary, queen of the most holy rosary and queen of the world, rule over us together with the sacred heart of Jesus Christ, our king.  Save us from the spreading flood of modern paganism; kindle in our hearts and homes the love of purity, the practice of a virtuous life, an ardent zeal for souls, and a desire to pray the rosary more faithfully.

We come with confidence to you, throne of grace and mother of fair love.  Inflame us with the same divine fire which has inflamed your own sorrowful and immaculate heart.  Make our hearts and homes your shrine; and, through us, make the heart of Jesus, together with your rule, triumph in every heart and home.  Amen.

 January 20, 2013

Mary can teach us kindness….  “They have no wine,” she told Jesus at Cana.  Let us, like her, be aware of the needs of the poor, be they spiritual or material; and let us, like her, give generously of the love and grace we are granted (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta).

March 25, 2013

The Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to live in the Holy Spirit and what it means to accept the news of God in our life.  She conceived Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit; and every Christian, each one of us, is called to accept the Word of God, to accept Jesus inside of us, and then to bring him to everyone (Pope Francis).

August 3, 2014

“A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than one that is cast down” (St. Philip Neri).

August 20, 2014

“Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her son” (St. Bernard).

October 10, 2014

Go to the Madonna.  Love her!  Always say the rosary.  Say it well.  Say it as often as you can!  Be souls of prayer.  Never tire of praying; it is what is essential.  Prayer shakes the heart of God; it obtains necessary graces!
(St. Pio of Pietrelcina).

October 11, 2014

You must know that when you “hail” Mary, she immediately greets you!  Don’t think that she is one of those rude women, of whom there are so many.  On the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant.  If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you! (St. Bernardine of Siena).

October 7, 2015

The rosary is a very old devotion which has exercised an immeasurable influence.  It is, above all, dear to pious people and belongs to their lives like the work they do and the bread they eat (Romano Guardini, The Rosary of Our Lady).

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!”  No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing to me, nor will anyone ever be able to find or say to me anything that pleases me more (Our Lady to St. Mechtilde).

April 28, 2017

O Mary, my queen and my mother, remember I am all yours.  Keep me and guard me as your property and possession (St. Louis de Montfort).

May 15, 2017

Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother.  Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today.  All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother (St. Padre Pio in The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare).

St. Joseph Chapel – Capuchin Monastery – Alamo, TX

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Immaculate Conception Cathedral – Brownsville, TX

Pdf files…  MMM novena prayers (English/Spanish; printable) from CAMM

Links of interest…  AMM: medal’s story and its meaning / prayers for all occasions /
votive lights / virtual tour of the national shrine…  Ave Maria Caelorum…  Blessing of herbs on the feast of the Assumption…  Blue rosary…  CAMM: sermons & novenas videos / vigil lights / who we are…  Catherine Labouré & the miraculous medal / have you got enough / miraculous medal / Nov 27 / OLRL booklet  / sister of charity…  Christ in us through the rosary…  Does Mary hear our prayers like God…  Five ways to approach Jesus through Mary / Franciscan Crown: seraphic rosary / seven joys…  Hope, the rosary, & the Blessed Mother…  How children keep us humble…  Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page prayers (miracles – more – novena –  queen of angels) / untier of knots  Our Lady of Corpus Christi (OLCC) website…  Rosary: album treasurebest prayer for men / spiritual sword of Mary…  St. Anthony’s Guild…  St. Mechtilde: about (more) / book / for souls in purgatoryprayers / revelations…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Repeated prayers

Timely message

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Having finished with laundry Tuesday afternoon I came back here to work on the church website, but I couldn’t stop thinking about an article in the Word among us (October, 2009).

The ol’ pea brain processes information at warp speed and goes off on many tangents; but only meaningful connections, usually prompted by discomforting disequilibrium, impact real learning.

Sunday, Sunday

Then, out of the blue Sunday afternoon I got a call from a saintly woman I met while teaching CCE at St. Paul’s.

Irene’s gone through a lot in life, especially these past two years.  Her oldest child was killed in a car collision as he and his younger sister drove to their grandfather’s house in the Valley.  What an emotional roller coaster ride it’s been!  Irene misses her son so much that, oftentimes, she’s inconsolable.  Still, she accepts God’s will and continues to be proactively involved in prayer and at church.

Although we seldom communicate, other than through an occasional letter, Irene called because she’d just found my telephone number on the little piece of paper I’d given her two years ago!  She wanted to hear my voice because I always make her feel better, she said.  So we talked for almost an hour, crying, laughing, praising God.  Then, at the end, she asked me to pray over her.

What a simple request!  Irene’s a terroncito de azucar, a sweet innocent, despite her grandmotherliness.  I’m so in awe of her faithfulness to God and her devotion to the Blessed Mother through the Franciscan Crown, that she’s truly a hero in my eyes.  So, of course, I felt like the mouse that helped the lion in one of Aesop’s fables.  And,  afterwards, we got so quiet that we just hung up.

A bit later I received an email from my friend, Rose.  She’d missed seeing us at Mass that morning because her illness had kept her home from church.  And, since I didn’t have time for a chatty email, I sent her an ecard instead.

You’ve been ill because God wants to spend quality time with you.  He has something to tell you.  I, too, have something to share.  Last Tuesday I was struck by the enormity of three— not one, not two, but three— messages from the Word among us.  I wanted to email then and there but had to start dinner before Steven got home from work.  I’ll email you later.

Feeling hopeful, Rose replied that she’d be on the lookout for God’s message.

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Heartfelt prayer

So, messages?  We get them all the time from God, who responds to our faith and trust.  “When you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you” (Jeremiah 29:13-14).

“The heart of an Intercessor” suggests that we engage in heartfelt prayer by focusing, first, on quality versus quantity; second, on clear-mindedness; and, third, on praying in secret.  “It’s in these situations that we may be more likely to sense God’s presence in our hearts and to receive his comfort or his guidance” (the Word among us, October 2009, p. 14).  In other words, persistence works, but “do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7).

When we feel overwhelmed we can reach out to others who’ll pray with and for us, but spending alone time with God means sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings unconditionally.

Timely message

As Rose and Irene well know, God also avails himself through others.  So, imagine my delight in finding a timely, heartwarming message about messages— a link to Johnny the Bagger— in my Yahoo inbox when I sat to email Rose later that evening.

Feel better, Rose!  Be happy, Irene!  God’s right there with you!

Complete trust in God

Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear.  Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God to whom you belong will, in his love, enable you to profit by them.  He has guided you thus far in life.  [Just] hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all trials.  Whenever you cannot stand, he will carry you lovingly in his arms.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow.  The same eternal Father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day of your life.  Either he will shield you from suffering, or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace, then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads, and all anxious imaginations (St. Francis de Sales).

February 5, 2017

Just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands, and leave it with him.  Then you will be able to rest in him— really rest (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).

September 8, 2017

Nothing and no one can take us from the hands of Jesus, because nothing and no one can overcome his love.  Jesus’s love is invincible.  The evil one, the great enemy of God and of his creatures, attempts in many ways to take eternal life from us.  But the evil one can do nothing if we ourselves do not open the doors of our hearts to him by following his deceitful enticements (Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis).

May 1, 2018

Hope is an eminently practical virtue; it is the virtue that drives far from our heart the specter of discouragement, the most frequent dangerous temptation in the spiritual life.  As the inseparable companion of suffering, it confirms and strengthens peace in our soul (Luis M. Martinez in When God is Silent).

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Links of interest…  Aleteia: religionsaints / spirituality…  Faith prayers…  God only knows (song)…  How to pray for physical healing…  I can only imagine (song)…  Johnny the bagger (video)…  Listening is pastoral care, and even you can do it…  Monica’s miseries & fortitude’s strength…  Paying attention is the key to spiritual life…  Perseverance in prayer: How & why…  Powerful prayers (free booklets)… Pray with all your heart…  Relationship of faith to prayer…  Sainthood isn’t for the strong…  Safe in God’s hands…  Simple truths: inspirational videos…  What is the prayer of faith…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Backtracking…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Budding relationships…  Faith and prayer…  Little gifts…  Making meaning…  Messages…  My Franciscan Crown…  One prayer…  Repeated prayers…  Two angels

St. Felix

From St. Anthony to St. Francis to St. Elizabeth and the Third Order, Franciscans fascinate me.

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Introduction

My great-aunt introduced me to St. Anthony when I was thirteen, though decades passed before I learned the rhyme:

Tony, Tony, look around.  My… is lost and must be found.

Cherished items

My Franciscan treasure trove includes the St. Francis framed glass prayer that a catechist friend gave me; the prayer booklet from the St. Lawrence Seminary; my cherished St. Anthony third-class relic that Father Roderick enclosed in his reply to one of my letters; and various prayer cards, booklets, and such that I just couldn’t possibly part with.

Gift: Wil Merkel, 2014

Gift: Wil Merkel, 2014

And my prized possession?  My Franciscan Crown, the seraphic rosary, known as the Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Felix

Although I’ve never met a Franciscan priest or nun in person, I feel very much a part of their community.  So imagine my delight on reading about St. Felix of Cantalice for the very first time just days ago on his feast day, May eighteenth.

Known as Brother Deo Gratias, St. Felix of Cantalice was the first Capuchin Franciscan to be canonized.

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September 19, 2016

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance” (St. Francis of Assisi).

August 3, 2017

Francis prayed day and night that God would give all people the courage to be themselves instead of what others expected them to be.  He did not want everyone to enter the brotherhood or to join the Lady Clare and her sisters.  He only wanted people to be free, to be what they wanted to be in their own hearts.

For God spoke differently to each person, calling one to marriage, another to virginity; one to the city, another to the country; one to work with the mind, another with the hands.  But who was brave enough to look inside and ask: “Is this what I should be doing, what I really want to do with my life? (Murray Bodo, OFM in Francis: The Journey and the Dream).

December 31, 2017

Holy people are always  ready to show creation’s inner connections.  Knowing such people draws us closer to God, whose goodness was revealed through the life of Francis of Assisi.

We may be tempted to think that Francis lived at a time when holiness was easier.  An honest look at his life reveals a very different and grittier story.  Through God’s grace, Francis learned to make the most of the hand that was dealt to him.  He used his talents as best he could, but he knew, as Saint Paul had told the Corinthian Christians centuries before, “God gives the growth” (Pat McCloskey, OFM in Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi).

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Links of interest…  Capuchins: friars / stigmata / mid-America (calendar – more) / St. Joseph / saints (more)…  Franciscan: 3rd order / calendar (national fraternity – printable – saintstraditional) / canticle notes onlinecrown rosary meditations & reflections / friars / instrument of peacelitany of saints / miracles & traditions / Mission Associates / “most sacred space of Franciscan spirituality” / order / prayer book for hospital & hospice chaplains / spiritual center (prayer requests) / tau cross / vocations…  Iconography in art & architecture (St. Felix’s bag)…  Prayer for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (feast of all saints)…  Relics: how to become a Capuchin saint: a piece of heaven with the Capuchins / holy relics / sisters of St. Felix…  Small “t” tradition & the peace prayer of St. Francis…  St. Anthony: prayer booklet (more) / shrine…  St. Elizabeth of Hungary: prayers…  St. Felix of Cantalice: 1st Capuchin saint / about (more) / biography (more) / Brother Deo Gratias (beggar – more) / confessor / ecard / feast (more / May 18) / friar (more) / holding the Christ Child (drawing) / homily / lay brotherpatron / prayer / relic…  St. Francis: about / biography / prayers…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours & half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: e-book / St. Felix

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  God’s master plan…  Grapes of generosity…  Holy relics…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  Mercy and justice…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayer…  Saint of miracles…  Si quaeris miracula…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Anthony…  St. Bonaventure Church…  St. Elizabeth Church…  St. Peregrine relic…  Today’s Beatitudes

Growing pains

Every Lenten season I think of Margie.  We met our senior year at the university.  As full-time employees and moms, we had time to do only what our responsibilities allowed.  We also shared another commonality: Unexpected hardships always occurred to us personally during Lent.  Relationships, money problems, work, school, and our respective kids had us living on the edge in octopus mode.

We quickly developed a buddy system on the telephone.  Late at night when the kids were asleep, we took mini-breaks from studying and talked about our faith.  We read and discussed Bible passages to keep each other awake when writing papers for class or studying for exams.  We wondered how Jesus had endured so much when we were barely hanging on

A few years after graduation Margie and I lost track of each other.  But, year after year, I still remember the gist of our talks: Lent has always been a tough season to live through.

And this year’s Lenten season was no different.

Life’s crises

Tuesday of Holy Week, I accompanied Steven to his doctor’s appointment.  While we waited, I read through the Lent issue of the Word among us.  Its focus?  The Cross.

My immediate thought was the Resurrection; my secondary thought, the struggles.  Lent is synonymous with Jesus’s suffering and subsequent crucifixion; but pain, persecution, negativity, and bad times affect the rest of us, too.  Life’s crosses during Lent can be most unbearable.

I thought about Sister’s story…  Bit by bit, the man shortened his cross in life to ease his burden.  Unfortunately, when the time came to set it across the river, the cross was too short for the man to walk on it safely to the other side.

I also thought about the tiny cross story.  On the day of their birth, St. Peter asked each baby in Heaven’s nursery to pick a cross.  One baby was afraid to suffer, so he asked for the smallest one.  He was born into a fine family that could provide him with everything, except he was born blind.

“The Glory of the Cross” notes that some individuals are healed quickly; others, not for a long time.  St. Paul and Jesus suffered until they died.

Awareness

It’s not so much survival of the fittest or “no pain, no gain;” it’s the dynamic tension (Lewin, 1935) we experience daily that leads to our discomforting disequilibrium.  Regardless of the rose- or gray-tinted lenses we choose to wear in life, personal struggles effect change.  And change brings about personal growth.

What’s really strange is how God’s timing or weird sense of humor always leads to some serendipitous, dramatic awareness.

Thanks to my broken kneecap three years ago, for instance, I was able to sit still long enough to read the daily newspaper.  That’s when I discovered Jan Denise’s column in the “for ladies only” section.

Failures in life, she wrote, are simply God’s way of redirecting us onto the right path.

Oftentimes, we get a good idea and end up taking a wrong turn with it.  It goes so badly that we feel terrible, but we shouldn’t have been on that path to begin with.

The lesson, I quickly surmised, is to accept our failures as opportunities for something better, as when my broken kneecap resulted in my discovering a very special relationship with the Blessed Mother through my Franciscan Crown.

Alone time

This Lenten season my daily struggles were more intense than ever before.

Whether or not they led to my unexpected hospital stay Thursday and Friday of Holy Week, I may never know.  What I do know, however, is that God was present in all the wonderful folks who took care of me, and I felt safe.

God knew I’d been having a very rough time, so he granted me alone time with him to make me feel better.  After all, isn’t that what thoughtful, loving parents do when their child is having a bad day?

The Lord manifests himself to those who pause while in peace and humility of heart….

God, in order to be able to speak to the soul and fill it with the knowledge of his love, leads it to the solitude, detaching it from preoccupations of earthly things.  He speaks to the ears of those who are silent and makes them hear his secrets (St. Anthony of Padua).

Finding the way

Over the years I’ve learned that personal crises, especially during Lent, lead to reflection, dialoguing with God, and problem solving.  So, in this respect, Lent is far more than the remembrance of Jesus suffering in the desert and dying on the cross.

Thanks to recent events I’ve come to the realization that Lent is the seasonal retreat through which God allows us to be tested.  He knows that change is difficult and takes time.

For the most part we’re creatures of habit who adamantly resist change.  Nevertheless, Lent is God’s time to evaluate our spiritual growth, reteach as needed, and reassess our progress.  Moreover, Lent is God’s perfectly chosen time to help us make meaningful connections between our very complex lives and his master plan for us.

Simply stated?

All God has ever really wanted is for us to “seek [him out], even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27); so he allows for scenarios that help us make that choice.

Prayers

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.  Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next (Reinhold Niebuhr, 1934).

Sweet Jesus, I desire neither life nor death but your most holy will.  You are the one, O Lord, that I long for.  If it be your holy will to have me die, receive my soul and grant that, in you and with you, I may receive everlasting rest.  If it be your holy will to have me live longer upon this earth, give me the grace to amend the rest of my life and with good works to glorify your holy name.  Amen.

July 22, 2011

Jesus, illuminate my faith with the light of your resurrection.  Speak to me, for I love to hear your voice! (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 43).

November 12, 2011

“Let us bear our cross and leave it to God to determine the length and the weight”
(St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, 1759-1852).

February 12, 2013

Let this truth sink in: God never tires of offering you his grace.  He never tires of working with you so that you become more like him.  In fact, he delights in taking his time with you!  He wants to bring to perfection the work that he began with you, and he is willing to devote all the time necessary to do that year after year, Lent after Lent (the Word among us, Jan/Feb 2013, p. 63).

March 31, 2013

Though for a time (like Lent) we endure want and difficulties, we still fix our eyes on what is above, knowing what the empty tomb really points to.  Christ is risen, and in him we now share in the promise of eternal life!

Jesus, you’re alive!  In you I live and move and have my being!  Alleluia! (the Word among us, Lent 2013, p. 70).

August 20, 2013

“This twofold mercy abounds in the heart of the Lord Jesus— his long-suffering in waiting for the sinner and his readiness in granting pardon” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

October 24, 2013

Father, I submit myself to you.  I place my faith in all that you have done for me through the cross.  Teach me how to yield to you in every challenge (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 44).

November 13, 2013

Lord, thank you that I have caught your loving gaze and that you have cleansed me with your love.  Open my eyes to see your presence with me today (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 34).

March 16, 2014

“Suffering is conducive to sanctity; for every sorrow, every trial, can be turned into a blessing by the will of the Christian sufferer” (Father Francis Xavier Lasance).

July 17, 2014

“O Lord, teach me to seek you, even when my heart is dry and my mind distracted”(Father Gabriel in Divine Intimacy).

September 23, 2014

Jesus said to me: “How many times would you have abandoned me, my son, if I had not crucified you?  Beneath the cross one learns love; and I do not give this to everyone, but only to those souls who are dearest to me”(St. Pio of Pietrelcina).

November 9, 2014

The crucifix does not signify defeat or failure.  It reveals to us the love that overcomes evil and sin (Pope Francis).

December 11, 2014

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).

December 17, 2014

“The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross” (St. John of the Cross).

January 27, 2015

We must give alms.  Charity wins souls and draws them to virtue (St. Angela Merici).

February 6, 2015

“Pain and suffering have come into your life; but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus— a sign that you have come so close to him that he can kiss you” (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta).

February 22, 2015

“Go where you will, seek what you will, and you shall not find a higher way above nor a safer way below than the way of the Holy Cross” (Thomas à Kempis).

March 24, 2015

During this season of Lent let us pray that we will look for and at Jesus with the eyes of faith, love, humility and docility.  As we gaze upon the crucifix as Saint Dominic did, let us make an act of faith in the one who always does what is pleasing to the Father.

St. Dominic, burning with zeal for perishing souls, pray for us! (Aquinas College).

March 31, 2015

God is grasping the world through Christ, but it is a struggle” (Fr. Robert Barron).

April 1, 2015

“Even if you have not completely succeeded in the way you wanted, remember: our God is a God of second chances” (Fr. Robert Barron).

April 2, 2015

Are you familiar with the story of someone, in a time of doubt, asking Jesus how much he loved her?  It’s said that Jesus stretched out his arms in the way they had been positioned on the cross and said, “This much.”  In this holiest of seasons— Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and the Ascension— this powerful image reminds us of the miracle of love that continues to transform us and all creation every day (Congregation of St. Joseph).

April 7, 2015

Be driven by the love of God because Jesus Christ died for all, that those who live may live not for themselves but for him, who died and rose for them.  Above all, let your charity and zeal show how you love the Church.  Your work is for the Church, which is the body of Christ (St. John the Baptist de la Salle).

January 21, 2016

God is love.  He loves and wants to be loved; it is the basic law of his being.  To realize this is to find the solution to all our problems (Dom Augustin Guillerand in The Prayer of the Presence of God).

February 13, 2016

In the course of a year our faith can sometimes become a weekly path of ho-hum routine.  Lent gives us time to reconnect and re-energize our commitment to our Christian baptism so that at Easter we are able to reaffirm our baptismal promises with conviction.  Help us, O Lord, to take this wonderful time of Lent to confirm and strengthen our commitment to share your love (Mary Joshi).

January 5, 2017

“Great changes may not happen right away, but with effort even the difficult may become easy” (Bill Blackman).

February 21, 2017

Do not be depressed.  Do not let your weakness make you impatient.  Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face.  Let the joy of your mind burst forth.  Let words of thanks break from your lips (St. Peter Damian).

February 22, 2017

Humility is the guardian and ornament of all virtues.  If the spiritual building does not rest on it, it will fall into ruin (Thomas of Celano in Peace and Good).

March 12, 2017

“Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life” (Pope Benedict XVI).

March 22, 2017

Lent is a time to quietly examine our relationships.  We examine our relationships with others as well as with the Lord.  Too often we want to ignore, even criticize, the ones we come upon who give us the best advice. Lord, let me hear you speaking through others (Phyllis Zagano in Sacred Silence).

March 24, 2017

Fasting is not an end in itself but instead is, like prayer and the works of mercy, an expression of who we are before God and in relation to others.  Fasting should make us generous, not self-righteous.  Lord Jesus, show me the difference between what I truly need and what I may simply want (Pat McCloskey, OFM in Peace and Good).

March 27, 2017

Loving Jesus, you never ask us to do the impossible, but you often ask us to do something difficult.  Help us to remember that you are with us always, even in times of trouble.  And help us today and throughout Lent to be open to your grace (Pat McCloskey, OFM in Peace and Good).

September 8, 2017

“During the day and between its tasks, as often as you can, you should examine yourself to see whether your affections have been distracted by some object and whether you are still holding our Lord by the hand” (St. Francis de Sales in Roses Among Thorns).

September 25, 2017

“There are two spheres of knowledge in which everyone who is endeavoring after any growth in the spiritual life must be making some advance: the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self” (Fr. Basil W. Maturin in Christian Self-Mastery).

April 1, 2019

True life comes only through many, many journeys of loss and regeneration wherein we gradually learn who God is for us in a very experiential way.  Letting go is the nature of all true spirituality and transformation, summed up in the mythic phrase: “Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.”  Following Christ is a vocation to share the fate of God for the life of the world, not a requirement for going to heaven in the next world (Richard Rohr, OFM).

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Links of interest…  Aquinas College: Dominic & the living word…  Battlefield of the church militant…  Catholic: culture / digest / mom…  Courage to fail…  Cross reveals that suffering has a purpose…  Depression in Lent, an unsought penance…  Father Greg (YouTube)…  Jersey girl gets wish to meet Pope Francis…  Lent: about (more) / ashes / books (more) / calendar / call to conversion / called to be saints / cross / customs / days of penance  fasting / first four days / history / in two minutes (YT) / meditations (more) / overview / prayers / praying / radio retreats / recipes (more) / reflections (more) / season / search results / this time (YouTube) / this year / toward the light (videos) / what is…  Metanoia: Fr. James Martin, SJ (podcast) / Valerie Schultz…  Reinhold Niebuhr: Serenity prayer (Jesuit)…  Seven penitential psalms (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, 142)…  the Word among us…  Wounded by God

WP posts… Bearing one’s crosses…  Concrete abstraction…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Prayerful ways…  Simple yet profound…  Sweet Jesus

My Franciscan Crown

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May 6, 2006, I broke my right kneecap in three places and was confined to the house except for the periodic visits to the orthopedic surgeon.  After six weeks, the doctor gave me two choices: be driven to the physical therapist’s office two or three times a week or do the physical therapy on my own.

My looming reality involved three dilemmas.  I had to drive more than four hundred miles all together to take my doctoral comprehensive exams mid-August.  Steven had advisory council responsibilities that couldn’t be dismissed or handed off to someone else.  And I wasn’t coping well with being a backseat passenger: motion sickness is the pits.

The way I saw it, I had no choice.  I had to drive myself to comps, so I had to become my own taskmaster.

Change of pace

Until the doctor’s visit that day, my right leg had been in an immobilizer, not a cast.  I’d had to be very careful not to bend my knee at all.  The pain had been so unbearable that I hadn’t been able to sit at the computer, even with my leg propped up.

Accustomed to always doing, moving, problem solving, I’d had a tough time accepting that I had a legitimate excuse for not working on dissertation or preparing for comps.  I couldn’t slow down mentally, though eventually I began to enjoy the little things I’d said I’d do “one day soon,” namely observing the black-bellied whistling ducks from the back porch, learning to identify the birds at Steven’s feeders, and reading the stockpile of magazines I’d salvaged from the recycling bin for more than a year.  Yet the moment the doctor said “start” I was raring to go.

Purposeful walking

My daily regimen on the beach began the next morning.  I managed only a mile and a half unaccompanied.  The rest of the time through mid-July, I walked about three miles daily with the best company ever.

My rosary kept me focused, smiling, and upbeat, although I dreaded Tuesdays and Fridays.  I told God that the sorrowful mysteries made me very sad.

Isn’t there a way you could fix it so I don’t have to say them?  Isn’t there another way to pray the rosary? 

BW32813-21Still, I continued with the rosary in the traditional manner.

Answered prayer

The pain and the swelling were constant.  But the sand and the water under my bare feet, the sunshine, and all else out there in the real world made me see what I’d been missing while chained to my desk.

After my walks I usually plopped onto Steven’s Olongapo chair, put my legs up on the ottoman, and read.

The Infant Jesus of Prague (Nemec, 1978, 1986) and Saint Anthony of Padua (Miles & Gianopoulos, 1991) beckoned to me from the bookshelf.  I’d bought them at the
St. Jude Shrine gift shop in Chicago two and a half years earlier but hadn’t had time to read them.

       

Mostly, though, I reflected on my situation.

I didn’t take meds for the pain, and I didn’t complain.  I was glad to be out and about.  I was grateful for every step I took because I could shower without being afraid to hurt myself, dress quickly, walk up and down stoops, be a front-seat passenger, attend Mass at church, and receive Communion.  I thanked God for allowing me a break from my studies and for having a weird sense of humor about getting me alone time with him.  And then it happened! 

I got to page sixty-eight in St. Anthony’s book.

I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I reread the page several times.  The Franciscan Crown was the answer to my prayers!

Thank you, dear God!  Thank you, St. Anthony!  

I was ecstatic beyond words.  The answer had been under my nose since January 2004, but I’d first needed to ask the question.

Another request

The following day I began praying the Franciscan Crown using my traditional five-decade rosary.

Two and a half Franciscan Crowns equal one mile, I told God.  It’s tough remembering which decade I’m on, so now I need a rosary with seven decades.

Quick response

The Knights of Columbus at St. Paul’s had their monthly breakfast the following Sunday.  It was Steven’s first time to attend, so we had no idea that family members were also invited.

SPC12316-18We quickly befriended two lovely couples— Olivia and George, a devoted rosary maker, and Mary and Jack, leader of the Legion of Mary— who listened with stifled amusement to the story of how I’d had to break my kneecap to discover the Franciscan Crown.

“I’ve never heard of the Franciscan Crown,” George told me.  “If you want a rosary with seven decades, I’ll make you one!”

Six days later at Saturday evening Mass, Olivia came up to hug me hello.  “George has a surprise for you!”

George’s baby-blue Franciscan Crown filled me with both joy and gratitude.

God had responded through George!  George had believed without seeing the page in St. Anthony’s book!

My Franciscan Crown

I continued to use George’s rosary on my walks that summer, but I envisioned a different design.  The Franciscan Crown celebrates Mary’s motherhood so I associate it not with a crucifix, but with the miraculous medal of Mary.

Steven gave me the three medals that had belonged to his mom until she died in 1998.  He also took me to Walmart to buy assorted beads.

I used Steven’s medals on the first three Franciscan Crowns I beaded.  The first rosary was a prototype, so it was for me.  I did better on the second one, which Steven wanted.  The third one, intended for mom, was beautiful.  I placed the big beads close to each other so her arthritic hands wouldn’t struggle.

I knew Mom would pooh-pooh on the idea of this strange new way of praying the rosary, but I saved the rosary for her anyway.  We gave it to her during one of our trips down to Brownsville.

When Mom finally tried the Franciscan Crown, she liked it so much that it’s the only rosary she prays now.  She was thrilled to get the second one (right), which she keeps at her bedside for nighttime meditation.  She even asked for extras to give to her visitors.

MFC2006-George        MFC2006-Deli        Mom31007-23

Wishful thoughts

Summer 2006, my knee still swollen and achy every day, I resolved to get back to normal.  I dialogued with God as I prayed.  The more I enjoyed my Franciscan Crown, the more I wished others would pray with me.

Thinking how ridiculous my idea must’ve sounded, I thought, They don’t have to be here walking on the beach with me.  They can be wherever they are.  I just want to share this rosary so that others can experience the joy that comes from praying it. 

I told God, I want for us to be called the Society of the Franciscan Crown.

It’s a bit much to ask, I know.  This is why, until now, I’d only shared my thoughts with our Why Catholic? church family.  Still, one never knows unless one plants the seed.

Miraculous healing

When I returned to the doctor’s office for my scheduled appointment, July thirteenth, I knew it’d be my last visit.  I was so excited that I contained myself by reviewing for comps in the waiting room.  The doctor hadn’t seen me in weeks and was quite impressed to see me walk as if I’d never broken my kneecap at all.

I thanked him.

“No,” he shook his head as he lowered his humbled gaze and raised his hand upward.

“You’re right,” I said knowingly.  “God gave me the power to heal myself.”

We both knew he’d done nothing more than check my x-rays and talk with me briefly during our visits.

Looking back

May through July had been Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.  I’d fallen and seriously broken a bone for the first time.  I’d been forced into molasses mode, but my recovery had been quite a learning experience; my self-imposed walks on the beach, a journey in faith.

Dialoguing with God and praying my Franciscan Crown had gotten me through the ordeal.  I’d recovered beyond the doctor’s expectations despite the scary, frustrating moments in his office.

God’s listening ear

During the healing process I beaded many crowns for friends, friends of friends, several family members, some folks at St. Paul’s, and even some strangers.  With each one I gifted my wish to have others pray with me came true.  Yet the best part of the experience was God’s listening ear; the most amazing part, the miracles.

I delighted in documenting those wishes come true! 

Joyful experience

Deli71709b-mfc2Of course, I’ve learned more about the Franciscan Crown since then.  Known as the seven joys of the Blessed Virgin, this rosary dates back to 1422, is celebrated August 27
(St. Monica’s feast day), and is part of a beautiful story.

Although the devotion varies slightly depending on the source, its seven decades exclude prayers recited before, between, and after those of the traditional rosary.  But what I especially love is that each joy (decade) in the life of the Blessed Virgin is reminiscent not only of Mary’s love as mother of Jesus, but also of one’s sweet recollections as parent.

Finally, because the Franciscan Crown is synonymous with tranquility, embarking on a faith journey with Mary is such an extraordinary experience that I’m compelled to share it with others!

June 26, 2014

Put your heart aside.  Duty comes first; but, when fulfilling your duty, put your heart into it.  Be gentle (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

September 12, 2014

In doubts, in difficulties, call upon Mary.  Don’t let her name depart from your lips; never allow it to leave your heart.  And, that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, don’t neglect to walk in her footsteps
(St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

October 7, 2014

“The holy rosary is the storehouse of countless blessings” (Blessed Alan de la Roche).

October 16, 2014

The essence of the rosary is a steady incitement to holy sympathy.  If a person becomes very important to us, we are happy to meet someone who is attached to him.  We see his image mirrored in another life and we see it anew.  Our eyes meet two eyes that also love and see.  Those eyes add their range of vision to ours, and our gaze may now go beyond the narrowness of our own ego and embrace the beloved being, previously seen only from one side.  The joys that the other person experienced, and also the pains he suffered, become so many strings whose vibrations draw from our heart new notes, new understanding, and new responses (Fr. Romano Guardini, 1885-1968).

May 6, 2015

Do not be afraid.  Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.  Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch (St. John Paul II).

May 13, 2015

“Mary is our great helper; she it is who presents to her divine Son all our prayers, our tears, and our sighs; she it is who obtains the graces for us which we need for our sanctification” (St. John Vianney).

May 19, 2015

“To speak heart to heart with God, you must love to be with him alone” (St. Peter Celestine).

May 18, 2016

Mary, I depend on you totally as a child on its mother, that in return you may possess me, protect me, and transform me into Jesus.  May the light of your faith dispel the darkness of my mind; may your profound humility take the place of my pride; may your contemplation replace the distractions of my wandering imagination; and may your virtues take the place of my sins.  Lead me deeper into the mystery of the cross that you may share your experience of Jesus’s thirst with me (Mother Teresa in Thirsting for God: Daily Meditations).

May 30, 2017

The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.  Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination (Don Williams Jr.).

October 24, 2017

It is Mary on whom the rosary is centered in a focus ever new.  This prayer means a lingering in the world of Mary, whose essence was Christ.  In this way, the rosary is, in its deepest sense, a prayer of Christ (Romano Guardini in The Rosary of Our Lady).

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Pdf file…  MMM novena prayers (printable) from CAMM’s virtual novena

Links of interest…  Devotion to Mary brought me closer to God…  Franciscan: Article V / blogs / crown (Aug 27 – more) / resources / rosary…  How I pray the rosary with my friends (the saints)…  Mary: God’s spiritual masterpiece…  National Shrine of St. Francis…  Our Lady of the Way…  Road not taken (Frost, 1916)…  Rosary: The spiritual sword of Mary…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / parishes online / website…  What Robert Frost taught me about feeling alone

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Faces of Mary…  Lady of sorrows…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  Our Lady…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayers and blessings…  Repeated prayers…  Saintly connections…  St. Monica…  St. Peregrine relic…  Stella Maris