Niño de Cebú

What a glorious evening in honor of the Santo Niño de Cebú!  Mass at seven was concelebrated by Bishop Mulvey, Fr. Paul, and Fr. Kisito at St. Pius X in Corpus Christi.

          

Bishop’s homily

It’s good to be with you again this year.  I can’t believe another year has gone by.  Seems like only yesterday— or at least a few weeks ago— that we were here for this beautiful celebration of Santo Niño.  So I’m very happy to be here with you again this evening.

Three epiphanies

You may have noticed in the feast of Epiphany which was two weeks ago that there we spoke of three epiphanies.

The Church has proclaimed that Jesus is made known, revealed in three ways.  So, the first is the Magi that come from afar, meaning that people from everywhere are called to come and adore Christ.  And there they saw the newborn son, the word God come in the flesh.  Last week we celebrated the baptism of the Lord where Jesus reveals— the Holy Spirit reveals— the relationship with God the Father and his son when it is heard, “This is my beloved son.  Listen to him.”  An epiphany.  And, today, as we read the gospel of St. John with Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana, again his glory is shown in his first miracle.  Another epiphany.

And so these three epiphanies surround this time of the year as we celebrate the birth of the son of God, his gift to us.

Wedding at Cana

In that wedding feast of Cana, if I were to ask you or you were to ask each other what that feast was about, you could probably recount some of the details of the jars that were there— that were empty, that were filled with water, that Jesus changed them into wine, that Mary asked him to do it— those kinds of things of details.

St. John’s account

Many stories, of course, in forms of jokes, unfortunately, use this particular scene of Jesus’s life for humor.  Yet St. John not only recounts the details, but the beauty of the gospel.  You know, we have Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the synoptics.  They kind of line up with each other, but St. John takes it to another level.  His is the contemplative gospel that recounts events that have happened, but he goes much deeper into the symbolism of what was happening.

From the Jewish culture of which he was a part, he can also see the similarities that Jesus brings by the newness that Jesus adds to it.  So what do we find for our edification tonight at this particular scene of the wedding feast of Cana?

Six, not seven

Number six is one of the significant symbolisms, which you probably have heard if you’ve studied any kind of a Bible course or you’ve attended a class or maybe you’ve heard it in a homily.  But the number seven is the perfect number.  God rested on the seventh day.  So many other increments of seven— forty-nine et cetera— speak of the perfection of God’s work.  And so it’s interesting for St. John that there were six jars, not seven.

Being that there was an insufficiency there, that in this particular wedding feast which, for the Jewish people a wedding feast in a small town or any town was a monumental moment that went all week long, the bride and the groom had to remain dressed in their wedding garments all week.  The doors were open.  People came in and out to visit them and to greet them all week long.  So the wedding feast was extremely important to society, just as for us tonight Santo Niño is a part of the culture of the Philippines, is part of your culture.  And so, when St. John points out that there were only six jars, he’s saying that what is about to happen is the completion of what is insufficient, that Jesus brings something new.

Filling the jars

The stewards were asked to fill those jars with water.  Again, absurd for the wedding feast because, of course, wine was to be there and, as St. John reports, the best wine was to be served first.  And so, to use water meant that something was lacking.

Not knowing what was to happen the stewards, probably with huge questions in their minds, filled the jars with water.  They were instructed by the Blessed Mother— by Mary— to fill them with water.

Today in our sufficiency we would, say, go out to— I won’t name any of the stores around here.  I don’t want to offend anybody.  If you were to go to another one, then I would know.  But we’d just go down the street.  Get some more.  But water?  Water?

The greatest gift

When they did so, Jesus at that moment then changed it not into just regular wine, but to the best of wine which, again, is saying he’s there at that feast, at that important moment.

Some say the bridegroom was a relative of Mary’s somewhere in her family tree, so they were well known there.  But he brings in the best.  And St. John can easily see that it refers to himself and his own ministry that, when Jesus comes to us— when he has come to us— he comes as God’s greatest gift: the best, not just the ordinary, but the very best.

Relationship

We see that, in the book of the prophet Isaiah tonight, when the prophecy of Isaiah speaks of God marrying his people, coming into relationship with his people, which means us, these symbolisms, these realities of marriage, covenant, of wine that we celebrate now in the sacrament here at the altar— all of these are mediums by which God is among us.

Jesus wants to announce in this epiphany at the wedding feast of Cana that, in his person, God is now here with you.  The number six is no longer imperfect.  The water is no longer water, but wine.  And, he is there in their midst, to bring joy to their hearts.  This is the message for you and me tonight.

We can ask in our own lives, have we invited Jesus into our homes?  Do we invite Jesus into our families?  Do we invite Jesus into our difficulties?  Or do we just sit and complain and complain and write letter after letter of anger et cetera?

Inviting Jesus into our lives is what brings something new to any situation or to any relationship.  Without Jesus in our relationship, there is no peace.  And our relationships remain mundane.  We use them, but Jesus wants to be part of our life.  And what is the relationship that Jesus brings?

Love and sacrifice

As we continue on in the gospel of St. John, or if we continue looking there, what is that wine that Jesus brought us?  What is that newness that Jesus brought to the wedding feast where friends were gathered?

It is the wine of the new commandment.  I give you a new commandment: Love one another.

Even if the wedding feast in Jesus takes just human love— just human relationships, a human marriage— and changes it into something new, into something that is vital, something that is life-giving, that couple hopefully one day recalled or heard the words of Jesus.

Love one another.  Sacrifice your life for one another.  That’s what brings joy and peace to people’s lives, not taking away from one another, not extracting life out of others, not commanding others but being there in true harmony as God is harmony himself.  That’s the newness that St. John understands, that Jesus brought to that wedding feast: to be introduced into that couple’s life as he was about to, in the next years, sacrifice for you and for me.

Jesus was meaning to say, then, “Sacrifice your life for one another.”

Sacrifice your life for the good of your brothers and sisters.  Don’t keep Jesus out of your life.  Don’t keep his commandment to love as some abstract suggestion.  It’s at the heart of our lives to love one another as God has loved us in Jesus Christ.

At the end of the gospel reading of the wedding feast at Cana, St. John tells us that Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee.  And so he revealed his glory.  He revealed that something new is here.

So, you want to go along with the crowd?  That’s fine.  But you’ll find nothing new.  Jesus is what’s new even today.  And, St. John says, “His disciples began to believe in him” (John 2:11).

Welcoming heart

The question for us tonight is: Do we believe in him?  Do we believe that he is what’s new?  Do we believe that in our broken Church, our broken world, we need him at our wedding feast?  Do we need him in our lives?  The disciples obviously thought so.  They believed in him.

What does it take to believe, sisters and brothers?  It’s not believing just a bunch of rules and morals and doctrines.  It means believing in the person of Jesus Christ.  And what do we need to do that?  Jesus told us.  “You will not enter the kingdom of God unless you become like a little child.”  There we have the meaning of this night.  Many would say to you probably, “Well, Jesus is not a baby anymore.  He’s a grown up.”  That’s true.  But Santo Niño reminds us that he wants us to have the same humility, the same dependence in our life as a child— as a child.

The role of a child in our Christian faith is not insignificant.  It is extremely important.  So, as we celebrate tonight, as we pray for those who are in harm’s way, perhaps in any way, in the Philippines and beyond, let us remember that it’s being children that we can be open to the newness of God in our life.  It’s a child that throws open the door to friends when they come to the door.  It’s a child who wants to serve.  Let’s have that childlike— not childish, but childlike— heart in our lives that we can welcome the new things that God wants to bring into our lives every day when we say, “Welcome to our feast.  Welcome to my house” (Bishop Michael Mulvey; January 19, 2019; transcribed audio recording, edited).

         

          

                

        

                  

Prayer

Santo Niño, holy child Jesus, we adore you, we hope in you, we love you.  Have mercy on us.  Listen to our prayers, especially to those who are suffering, dying, and grieving.  Help us imitate your humility, simplicity, compassion, total self-giving, and love.  Illumine our minds, purify our hearts, and cleanse our souls, for we wish to glorify you in all that we do so that at the end of our life, we may see you face to face with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Mother Mary and St. Joseph, through your intercession, may we grow in our love for Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

January 20, 2019

“It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet” (Pope Francis in Laudato Si).

Our Lady of Sorrows – McAllen, TX

Links of interest…  Child Jesus: coloring pages (more) / devotion / infancy & childhood / just who wasmeditations / miracles (books) / photos / questions & answers / reverence / solemnity / St. Anthonyvisions…  Divine Child: devotion / prayersanctuary…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / brief history / chaplet / feast / history / league / novena / of good health (more) / petitions / prayers in Spanish…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about (more) / chapel / history / miracles (more) / origin / prayers / story…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / devotionfeast (more) / history / homily / novena / origin (more) / perpetual novena / song (YouTube)…  St. John the Baptist Church: facebook / website…  St. Pius X: facebook / Santo Niño devotionwebsite

WP posts…  Beloved joyful priest…  Call of service…  Celebrations…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  God’s loving mercy…  Mercy and justice…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Santo Niño…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Merry Christmas

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

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

Christmas Eve homily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Afterthoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feliz Navidad!

Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

December 27, 2016

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

December 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

St. Agnes Church

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

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

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

Change in plans

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

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

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

First impressions

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

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

“Good morning!” I smiled.

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

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

St. Agnes Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do we continue celebrating Easter?”

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

“How did he do this?”

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

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

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

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

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

“How do we know this?”

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

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

“So what do we do?”

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

Members of the flock exchange glances.

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

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

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

“So how about this celebration?”

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

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

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

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

Prayer

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

June 10, 2016

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

January 21, 2017

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

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

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

Father’s roses

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Last year Steven and I drove to Goose Island for Palm Sunday Mass at Stella Maris, and Father Ralph was overjoyed to see us.

“I was hoping you two would show up!  I’ve got great news!  Follow me so we can talk,” Father said, leading us to the slightly bigger than standing room only space behind the altar.

Miracle shared

Without being asked Joe, attentive sacristan and devoted friend, opened a folding chair for Father to sit as he shared his latest stories with us.

“I’m healed!” Father gushed and then proceeded to fill in all the glorious details as Steven bent down to listen and I looked up intently, almost breathlessly, from where I sat on the old wood floor.

We couldn’t get enough!  After all the trips to M.D. Anderson and more, Father Ralph’s news was the answer to our collective prayers.  We were so grateful for Father’s reprieve from his medical roller coaster ride that we couldn’t stop smiling.  Again and again we thanked and praised God for his merciful kindness.

Faith revisited

Father Ralph was on fire.  He was  a walking-talking miracle whose homily, in part, focused on a familiar story from the Bible.

Or take the woman who had obviously heard Jesus preach.  She might even have seen some of the miracles.  She’d gone to doctors for twelve years.  She had a hemorrhage.  Only women can appreciate the misery of all that, day in and day out.  No cure.  And she’d spent all her money.

’If I could just touch the hem of his garment,’ she thought, ‘I would be healed.’

That’s a position of faith, isn’t it?  She wanted a point of contact, so she could release her faith.  And the power of God would come flowing through her body.

Did she find it easy to get to Jesus?  Oh, it was easy to see him.  ‘Yes, there he is over there.  Uh-huh.  I see the prayer shawl.  Oh, my goodness.  There are so many people around him!’

She didn’t let the press interfere with the possibility of cure.  She didn’t let the devil talk her out of it.  She pushed and shoved— did whatever she had to do— until, finally, she got behind him.  She touched his garment, the hem of his prayer shawl.

Jewish men wear the tallit in Israel to this day when they pray at the Wailing Wall.  I’ve been there.  I’ve seen it.  I have one that I use.  At the base of it are all these tassels that represent the Commandments of God, the promises of God.

What the woman was thinking was, ‘If I touch the one that keeps all the Commandments and if I touch the one for healing, I will be made whole.’

The woman released her faith when she touched it, and Jesus said, ‘Virtue has come out.  Who has touched me?’

’I did,’ the woman replied.

’Your faith has made you whole,’ Jesus told her.

So it’s always an impediment to get to Jesus, isn’t it?  Sometimes it’s our own doubt.  Most of the time, it’s the devil.

‘Oh, but you don’t deserve to have a miracle.  Remember what you did when you were a young man?  Or a young woman?  Just forget that, and just keep going.  You can’t change, and God can’t forgive you.  You’ll never have a miracle.’

Oh, my goodness.  The devil is the father of lies, isn’t he?

Although Father’s homily wasn’t perfectly geared for Palm Sunday, it certainly touched on the faith— the “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)— that Jesus embodies for us to witness during Holy Week.

Lesson gleaned

Through Father Ralph God refreshed us with yet another of his extraordinary lessons.  Believing requires stoutheartedness, courage, and patience.  Believing is trusting that God knows best.  “Your will be done,” not mine (Matthew 26:42).

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Father’s roses

After Mass Father Ralph insisted that Steven and I accompany him to the back yard.  With scissors in hand he snipped at his prized rosebush; created a lovely, fragrant, lavender-pink cluster; and jubilantly presented me with the unexpected bouquet.

Thoughtful?  Yes.  Then again, healthy or unwell, that’s Father Ralph.

On the drive home, in the days that followed, and especially now that Father Ralph’s health has waned again, his roses are more than just a sweet remembrance of our time at Stella Maris; they’re an enduring recollection of God’s loving mercy celebrated on Palm Sunday a year ago.

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March 18, 2016

I struggled with [the devil] in my imprisonment.  At one moment I thought I was victorious; the next day I was defeated.  This cruel and stubborn fight lasted five years.  Then God gave me the grace to triumph over my enemy (St. Augustine).

March 20, 2016

“The Mass is long,” you say; [to which] I add, “because your love is short”  (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

March 24, 2017

We are not to be without pain.  Pain is Jesus suffering in us, but we are to look to him for strength and courage.  We are to learn this ability to shoulder our cross by gazing at him and being gentle and humble in heart (Mother Angelica on Suffering and Burnout).

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

Links of interest…  Christ’s way of the cross…  Do you want to be well…  Fr. Ralph: service to God & country / story of healing (3.13.15)…  How to overcome worry by trusting in God’s providence…  Open-&-shut case for Jesus…  Pope laments “defeated Christians” who do not fully trust in God…  Saints: novenas (188) / prayer
St. Peregrine: about / articles (prayer cards) / biography / “cancer saint” / chaplet / feast / friends of / healing intercessor & friend / healing power / May 1st / novena / prayer / prayer requests / prayers / shrine / story…  Stella Maris: anniversary / facebook / history (more) / Lamar, TX (more) / marker…  Trusting in God completely / in uncertain times…  Would you have touched Jesus’ cloak

WP posts…  Delightful visit…  Healing service…  Holy relics…  Memorable as ever…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayers and blessings…  Saintly connections…  St. Peregrine relic…  Stella Maris…  Stella Maris moments

God’s loving mercy

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Saturday evening we attended the Santo Niño celebration at St. Pius X in Corpus Christi, TX.  Well, the Mass, actually.

Since our Bible study group had engaged in a thoroughly invigorating discussion on the Sunday readings— the “Wedding at Cana” in particular— Steven and I had anticipated that Bishop Mulvey’s homily was sure to be the icing on the proverbial cake.  For this reason, I recorded his homily (below) to share with the group.

Setting the tone

SPX11616-StoNA marvelous story of Santo Niño and so many other stories of protective help from the saints, from Mary, from God.  We’ve moved them back into history.  When you think about the feast, the miracle of Santo Niño back in the 1600s, you look at the life of the people, probably very simple.  Very simple, simple life.  They had the elements of the earth.  They depended on the rain to water their crops.  They depended on the water to produce fish.  They needed the elements of the earth.  They needed the help of God.  They relied upon the help of God.  And we see that notion throughout the scriptures.

As we rise every morning in the Office that we pray as priests, religious, and lay people in the church, the opening psalm is the psalm of praise to God that he has created us, at heart that we should not harden our hearts against him but [be] open to God’s help.

I say that because we might, each one of us, think of this morning and yesterday morning and the morning before.  [What was] the first thing you did when you got up?  What did you think of?  If you try to examine yourself, say, “As I get up each morning, who do I rely upon?”

I think, if we’re honest, we’re going to rely upon the TV— turn it on first, get the news.  Gotta get the news.  Gotta go to that computer.  Gotta go to that iPhone.  Gotta go to that text message.

We have become dependent on all of these things.  And the question for us is [this]: In the midst of all this relying on news and media and connection with my friends on facebook around the world and all these things that I need to exist, where is [my] God?

Have these things become our gods because God is what is beyond us?  God is the one who is superior to us. But God is also the one who loves us, tenderly, gently.  And so, if we examine ourselves, sisters and brothers, and we think about just the very simple act of getting up in the morning, do we get up with a grateful heart and say, “Good morning, Lord Jesus?”  “Good morning, Father of mercies?”  “Good morning, another morning, so that I can rely on you?”

How we get up in the morning sets the tone for the day.  Sets the tone for the day.

If I get up immediately relying upon technology, then my day will be technological.  And, when I get exhausted by the end of the day, I’ll say— gasp— “Oh, I forgot!  Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women—  In the name of the Father and the Son—  Goodnight, Lord.”  But that’s not who we are as a people.  The beautiful faith of the Filipino people and so many other rich, rich cultures of faith rely from the very beginning on the love, the mercy, of God.

Goodness and hope

SPX11616-83I had a pastor that I worked for as a deacon in England.  He was part of the Apostleship of the Sea, which is very close to our seamen here in the Port of Corpus Christi and probably many of your own family members.

He told me one thing as a young deacon.  He said, “Michael, the people who are closest to God are the ones who are closest to the elements of the earth.  They, too, are those who work with the land and those who work at sea because they rely and depend upon God’s goodness.”

In the Philippines, especially in the past years, you know that the weather and the elements of the water have brought great destruction.  But the faith of the people grows even more.

So many farmers in this area with the drought have really felt devastation, and yet there’s that hope that continues to live in them.  No machine can do that for us.

Finding meaning

And so as you celebrate— as we celebrate— this evening, I think it’s important to go back to those rudimentary principles of who we are as human beings, created not manufactured, created not in a laboratory but in the image and likeness of God in our mothers’ wombs.  Simple.  Thank you very much.  And it’s because of that human nature that we rely upon the divine.

Look at Jesus. In the gospel of John, several times, he said, “I have not come to do my own will, but the will of my Father.”  [He tells] us, “I’ve not come to do my own thing.  I rely upon, I depend upon, I find my meaning and my fulfillment in God’s will for me.”

What did that mean?  He had to stay in close contact with him.  And he didn’t have an iPhone.  He didn’t have facebook.  He didn’t have all these mechanisms we have to stay in touch with his Father.  What he had was prayer.  What he had was a secluded place in the mountains or in the back yard to be silent and listen to the Father.

That’s how Jesus got up every morning, giving praise to the Father.  That’s how he lived the day.  And that’s how he returned to a night’s sleep, depending on the will of the Father in all that he did.

Seeking God’s will

And so we find ourselves saying sometimes, “You know, WWJD.  What would Jesus do in this moment?

Well, there’s a bigger question.  There’s a bigger context.  What does Jesus want?  What does God want of you, especially the young people?  Have you ever thought—  What does God want from you, not what you want to do [or] what your parents and your grandparents want you to do?  What does God want of your life?

We see St. Paul in the reading today lining out [the] different ministries.  There are different ways to serve God.  That’s what the body of Christ is all about.  Different ways.  Nothing’s I invent, but how God calls each one of us forth to do his will.  And to do his will, I can’t put a magic formula in somewhere.  I’ve got to listen.  I’ve got to be able to pray and listen with silence.

I would’ve never thought, ever, of being a bishop.  Many of you probably would not have ever thought of doing some things that you’ve done or be someone that you are.  But it’s by God’s grace, and so we have to listen.

Making connections

SPX11616-98We have today in the gospel a marvelous story of listening to one another, a story that you all know.  If I were to ask you— as adults or people who go to religion class, CCD— [to] tell me the story of the wedding feast of Cana, you could tell it, probably.  No problem.  Still ain’t right?  You know it.  The familiar story, we know it.  But what really was happening there?

What was really happening there?

Jesus was invited to a wedding feast.  He was not a religious stuck-in-the-mud, you know, kind of guy that had a long face and didn’t enjoy being in people’s homes or enjoy being at a wedding.  He went!

Some scholars say it may have been one of Mary’s in-laws that was getting married, so she was there as kind of a hostess.  And she saw that the wine was missing.  So she went over to Jesus, who, by the way, brought some uninvited guests.

You ever been to one of those parties where somebody brings five extra people with them that you weren’t planning?  We’re not saying that they drank the wine and made it go bad or made it go away, but they were out of wine.  Probably other people brought extra guests.

They were in need.  And there was Mary.  She saw that because, perhaps, she was kind of the hostess of the day.  So she went over to Jesus.

“Son, they have no wine.”

Language of the day

Now the response many of us will say is, “Wow.  I wouldn’t treat my mother like that.”

“Woman, what does your concern have to do with me?”

We always have to go back to the language of the day.  Many scholars say that language— “woman, what does your concern have to do with me”— basically says “Mom, I’ll take care of it.”

I’ll take care of it.

Not the way she thought or not the way other people were taught.  “Well, you have to go down to the grocery store or to the wine store and get some more.”  You know, all those kinds of things.  How did that ever happen?  But, remember, Jesus came to do the will of the Father.  And that’s why he said, “My hour has not come yet, but don’t worry.”

Fulfilling God’s will

And so he just took the simple jars of water— six jars, thirty gallons each— and changed water into wine.  A simple gesture to take care of people’s needs so that the party could continue.  But look at the relationship of Mary and Jesus.

Mary depended on Jesus.  Jesus depended on his Father so that this miracle could happen.  But, in other parties, he said, “My hour has not yet come.”  In other words: “It’s not time for me to do that first miracle.”

The hour that Jesus is speaking of is the hour on the cross.  That was the miracle of miracles.  That’s why he came.  That’s why the Father sent him.  That’s what he was anticipating.  That’s why, whenever he did a miracle, he said “don’t tell people” because that’s what [they were] waiting for— redemption.  But Jesus was so in tune with his Father and so in tune with his mother that he did what was needed at the time.

This happened, friends, at a wedding.

So many times today I think people— we’ve— lost a sense of the dignity and the sacredness of a wedding feast in the Church.  Jesus went to a great wedding feast where everyone participated, where it was part of his faith.  He went there.  But the other beautiful thing was that it was at somebody’s home.

You know, when people think of miracles, they’re always looking for some big bash, some big splash somewhere.  This was at somebody’s home!  Something that was needed right there in front of them, something simple.  And it was Jesus responding in that simple way in simple people’s lives to bring about a simple solution to a need.

Living the gospel

SPX11616-103And so what does all that say to us today?  How do we bring that gospel of two-thousand years ago into our own lives?

We all have needs.  We all get disappointed.  Things happen to us in a given day.  Things happened today.

Who do we rely upon?  To whom shall we go?

Remember when the people left Jesus after he transformed the bread.  He multiplied the loaves so that everyone could eat?  He said, “I am the bread of life.”

And people left!

So, to his disciples standing there, he said, “Will you leave me, too?”

And they said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

When things don’t go our way in life— we have a bad day— [or] when something tragic happens in our lives, to whom do we go?

Do we go and kneel down and offer our life to the Father, depending on him?  Or do we try to resolve every situation that we have the way we think it should be resolved?

If we do that, sisters and brothers, we close the door to Santo Niño.  We close the door [and] say, “We don’t need you.  I’ll take care of it.  I’ve got a computer.  I’ve got a TV.  I’ve got all these things.  I’ve got a car.  I’ll take care of it.”

But that’s not who we are.  That’s not who you are as men and women of faith.  Stand there and say, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words. You have the resolve for everything.”

God’s loving mercy

SPX11616-104Those stone jars, sisters and brothers, I think for this Year of Mercy represent the abundance of God’s mercy.

You know, [like] St. John, you can’t just [think], Okay, there’s six jars, thirty gallons each, one-hundred eighty gallons.  You can’t look at it that way because St. John always had a symbol [for] what [he] saw.

In this Year of Mercy, we can definitely see those six jars, water becoming now wine, richness.  Those represent God’s mercy coming to a difficult situation.

During this Year of Mercy, let us look at those jars and say, “That’s God’s merciful grace overflowing in my needs.”

Whatever happens to you today, tomorrow, the next day— let’s not limit it to this year but the rest of our lives— but [for] the rest of this year, make a resolve tonight.  Whatever happens today, whatever happens this year, depend on the grace of God.

Don’t try to solve it yourself.  Go to your knees.  Stand in front of the Lord and say, “Your will be done.”  Not just as a saying that your grandmother or mother taught you.  Say it from the depth of your heart.

“Your will be done.  I don’t understand.  I don’t know why this happened.  I don’t want this to happen.”

And, just as Jesus stood in front of that couple that needed something— it would’ve been a shame in the culture of the time to run out of wine— his abundant grace [will flow] over and [come] to [your] aid, [too].

And so, sisters and brothers, as we rededicate ourselves to Jesus Christ in the figure of Santo Niño, praying for all the needs of families in the Philippines and people throughout the world, let us do our part to be men and women of faith who love God so much that we depend not only on the technology of today but, first and foremost at the beginning of every morning, on God’s grace and loving mercy (Bishop Michael Mulvey; January 16, 2016; transcribed audio recording, edited).

Evening prayer to God by St. Macarius

O eternal God and Ruler of all creation, you have allowed me to reach this hour.  Forgive the sins I have committed this day by word, deed or thought. Purify me, O Lord, from every spiritual and physical stain.  Grant that I may rise from this sleep to glorify you by my deeds throughout my entire lifetime and that I be victorious over every spiritual and physical enemy.  Deliver me, O Lord, from all vain thoughts and from evil desires; for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.  Amen.

January 23, 2016

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

January 24, 2016

By turning your eyes on God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God.  Begin all your prayers in the presence of God (St. Francis de Sales).

January 27, 2016

Turn your eye to God’s will and see how he wills all the works of his mercy and justice in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  Then, with profound humility, accept, praise, and then bless this sovereign will, which is entirely holy, just, and beautiful (St. Francis de Sales, Roses Among Thorns).

January 30, 2016

“God gives each one of us sufficient grace ever to know his holy will and to do it fully” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).

June 1, 2016

We set forth our petitions before God not in order to make known to him our needs and desires, but rather so that we ourselves may realize that in these things it is necessary to turn to God for help (St. Thomas Aquinas).

June 11, 2016

“Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to his love, and the future to his providence” (St. Augustine).

November 18, 2016

Let us never lose courage or despair of God’s mercy.  We have only to humble ourselves before God in order to obtain grace to become all that we ought to be (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

November 21, 2016

Humility is the virtue of our Lord Jesus Christ, of his blessed Mother, and of the greatest saints.  It embraces all virtues and, where it is sincere, introduces them into the soul (St. Vincent de Paul).

November 28, 2016

We shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God; for, beholding his greatness, we realize our own littleness.  His purity shows us our foulness; and, by meditating upon his humility, we find how very far we are from being humble (St. Teresa of Ávila).

June 13, 2017

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

July 6, 2017

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

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

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

June 24, 2019

“God’s mercy is the only continuity we can be sure of and so we learn to be grateful that this gift, not our own wisdom or discipline, is what will get us home” (Pat Marrin).

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Pdf file…  Child Jesus chaplet prayers

Links of interest…  Apostleship of the Sea…  Are your decisions born of fear or love…  Bringing back what is true & good…  Child Jesus: devotion / infancy & childhood / meditations / miracles (books) / photos / questions & answers / reverence / solemnity…  Diocese of Corpus Christi (office of the bishop – videos)…  Divine Child: about / devotion…  Forgiveness & contemplation in prayer…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / artifacts / chaplet / feast / history / league / novena / of good health (more) / petitions / prayers…  Humility…  Office: about / breviary / liturgy of the hours / Universalis…  Practice of the presence of God…  Saintly former slave a model of mercy…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about / chapel / history / miracles / origin / prayers / story (more)…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / feast (more) / history / homily / novena / origin / perpetual novena / song (YouTube)…  Seven ways to live out mercy in our lives…  Signs & symbols (Mary McGlone, CSJprayer request app)…  South Texas Catholic…  St. Pius X: facebook / Santo Niño devotion / schedule of services / website…  Year of Mercy makes sense only if you haven’t lost the sense of sin…  You can trust in the mercy of God

WP posts…  Beloved joyful priest…  Call of service…  Celebrations…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Dear God…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Gifts…  Heart’s desire…  In good time…  Little gifts…  Living one’s gifts…  Making meaning…  Mercy and justice…  Multicultural Mass…  Noon visit…  On being Christian…  One prayer…  Pink divinity…  Santo Niño…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Stella Maris moments

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Saturday evening Mass: January 2, 2016

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St. Joseph’s Hall: Tour with Joe Shaw

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

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

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

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

Capuchin Christmas

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

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

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Christmas Eve homily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January 4, 2016

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

January 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delightful visit

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Visiting Stella Maris is a treat.  Father Ralph is such a joy that I long to sit and talk with him for hours on end.  God bless him and keep him healthy!  He needs our prayers!

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Prayers

Father Ralph, eager as ever to promote St. Peregrine, gave us two booklets— prayers below are from pages 20-21— and two sets of cards.  “I had the big one specially made!” he beamed.  Father’s generous to a fault.  He knows I share, too!

For healing…  God of goodness and mercy, I praise and thank you for the many blessings I have received through your generous love.  Grant me the grace to be attentive to all you are asking of me at this time in my life and to respond with courage and faith in your compassionate love for me.  Let me spend my life doing good and avoiding all that is not in accord with your will for me.

Trusting in your goodness and with confidence in your power to heal I humbly ask, through the intercession of St. Peregrine, for this grace (mention your request).  May all nations come to know the power of your love and the unfailing gift of your mercy so that one day we may glorify you with all the saints in heaven.  Amen.

For someone with cancer…  Almighty and eternal God, healer of those who trust in you, through the intercession of St. Peregrine, hear my prayer for (name).  In your tender mercy restore her/him to bodily health that she/he may give you thanks, praise your name, and proclaim your wondrous love to all.  I ask this through Christ your son, our Lord.  Amen.

For the family of a cancer patient…  Compassionate and loving God, among your many gifts one most cherished is the love of family.  I ask now that you be particularly mindful of ___’s family.  Hold each of them in your loving hands and care for them.  Give them courage and patience, hope and optimism; relieve their fears and anxieties.  During this difficult time let your love sustain them and their love for one another be a support and consolation.  Amen.

St. Peregrine, pray for them.

Praise and thanksgiving…  Lord Jesus, I praise, glorify, and bless you for all the graces and privileges you have bestowed upon your chosen servant and pastor of souls, St. Peregrine.  By his merits grant me your grace, and through his intercession help me in all my needs.  At the hour of my death be with me until that time when I can join the saints in heaven to praise you forever and ever.  Amen.

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

Links of interest…  Gratitude…  St. Peregrine: about / articles (prayer cards) /  “cancer saint” / chaplet / feast / friends of / healing intercessor & friend / healing power / May 1st / novena / prayers (requests) / shrine…  Stella Maris: anniversary / facebook / history (more) / Lamar, TX (more) / marker

WP posts…  Call of service…  Healing service…  Holy relics…  Memorable as ever…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayers and blessings…  Promise of hope…  Saintly connections…  St. Peregrine relic…  Stella Maris…  Stella Maris moments

Healing service

SMC91512-9September 15, 2012, Steven and I returned to Stella Maris, so I could hold Father Ralph’s first-class relic to pray for Lina the way I’d done for Olivia in January.

We smiled on finding Father Ralph in his outdoor confessional and walked over to where he sat between two trees to exchange stories as usual.

“Father Ralph, a friend of ours in Brownsville is battling cancer; so we’re here to pray for her,” I said.

“Let’s wait till after Mass.  We’ll take care of it then,” Father said reassuringly before leaving the picnic table to welcome newcomers.

Anticipation

After Mass, Father Ralph stepped outside the tiny church to bless and encourage those departing for home.  Yet more than half the pews were filled with those of us anticipating something.  But what?

I distracted myself by taking photos as I listened for a cue to start my audio recorder.

What followed was simply amazing: Father Ralph held an impromptu healing service that lasted almost an hour and twenty minutes.  Wow!

Father Ralph’s intro

“I see that you all stayed for another church service,” Father quipped on his return.  “What if this old man couldn’t make it?”

Everyone laughed.

Jesus, healer of the sick

“I was glad when I heard you say, ‘Let us come into the house of the Lord.’

“Yes.  We’re always glad to come into your house.  You are our Father. Just like a little kid returning home after school, eager to see what mother would give us— a cookie, a glass of milk, that popsicle, or something nice— or, if we got hurt along the way, to wipe our tears, tend to our owies, and make everything well.

“Yeah, we are your children.  We come as children, expecting your acceptance, your love, your help, and your mercy.

“We truly love you, Jesus; and we remember several things you said on the shores of Galilee.  As you said it along those shores, ears pricked up.  Faith developed the minds.  Hearts were moved.  Lives were changed, and miracle after miracle happened.

“Jesus said on one occasion, ‘Be it done unto you according to your faith’ [Mt. 9:29].  And the Bible says, ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing, by the word of the Lord’ [Rom. 10:17].  The more I know the Word of Jesus, the more I have within me.  I have the mind of Christ.  I have the anointing of Christ.  ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me” [Phil. 4:13].  And to encourage us also, he said, ‘I am the God that heals you.  I will take sickness out of the midst of you’ [Ps. 91:15-16].

“Oh, yeah?  Yeah.  That’s what he promised.

“H??????????e has two delivery systems, doesn’t he?  One is natural, such as doctors, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, herbology….  The list goes on.

“There are all kinds of natural therapeutics.  Who’s the author of all that?

“Not the devil, who comes to kill, steal, and destroy, never to make you well again.”

Jesus, miracle worker

“Jesus heals supernaturally, sovereignly, and miraculously.  He still does it today contrary to the belief of some of our separated brethren that preach and believe that the miracle ceased when the last apostle died.  How sad.  I’ve even read their King James Bible.  I’d like to take them into it.  I have one.  I know what it says.  It says he’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.  That’s right.  If he worked miracles then, he can still do it today.

“The Bible says these signs will follow those who believe.  I believe!  They would pray with the sick, and people would be healed.

“As they heard these things, they developed faith.  They came with him and to him and received miracle after miracle of every possible kind.  The blind saw, the deaf heard, lepers were healed, demons were taken away.  As people heard and saw these miracles, their faith grew; and they got faith also for their loved ones who weren’t there.”

Jesus and the paraplegic

“Then we have the story of the young people.  Oh, my goodness.  I thought young people are always in trouble.  No, they’re not.

“These young people had heard about Jesus, and they went and got their friend who was a paraplegic— hopeless, hopeless, hopeless— lying on his back and not able to do anything.  Their faith was enough to convince him to allow them to take him to Jesus; but, when they got there, did they get a front seat and everything went fine?  Oh, no!  There was no room in the place, the Bible says, or outside the house either.  There were too many people there.

“The devil always sets problems in front of you, so you can’t get to the Lord.  You can’t go to that service.  The car has a flat.  Whatever.  That’s how he operates, or doubt begins to work in your mind.  Why are you going to some stupid service?  What makes you think God will heal you with your past?  See?  That’s the devil, isn’t it?  That’s our friend sometimes interfering in our lives.

“Anyway, so they went; and they didn’t let that difficulty deter them.  They probably prayed very hard.  Then they got the idea: Remove part of the roof.

“I’ve been there to Israel.  I’ve been to what they think is a house.  It was a frame with palm branches on the top.  That was the roof.  Give me a break!  It was easy to remove, so they put their friend up and lowered him down in the presence of Jesus and all the doubters, skeptics, disbelievers, and a few that really wanted help.

“What happened?

“‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ Jesus told him.

“Religious scholars sitting there thought differently.  ‘He can’t talk that way!  That’s blasphemy!  Only God can forgive sins.’

“But Jesus said, ‘So that you can believe that the son of God has the power to forgive sins, pick up your mat, walk, and go home.’

“And that’s exactly what he did.  The miracle was there.”

Peter’s first miracle

??????????The miracles did not cease when Jesus went to heaven.  Peter was the first to perform a healing miracle, wasn’t he?  The Bible says that, even if his shadow touched you, you’d be healed.

“A beggar wanted gold, silver, food.  He couldn’t work.  He couldn’t move.  He was paralyzed there on the sidewalk.

“Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I have not, but what I do have I give unto you.  Take up your mat!  Walk!  And go home.’

“That’s exactly what he did, and the miracles have lasted even to this day.”

More miracles

“Now I’m going to tell you about a few miracles that I know about.  I didn’t heal these individuals.  If I could perform miracles, I would’ve healed my own cancer, don’t you think?

“I think so, Father.  You would have,” Father Ralph answered himself.

“I was healed by other methods.  Prayers and natural medicine healed me in combination.  I’m now cancer-free.  Praise God!”

The little girl

“I’ll tell you about the most recent miracle.

“Two weeks ago in this very chapel, right here kneeling was a little Hispanic girl, four-and-a-half years of age.  Her diagnosis, confirmed by medical science, was a tumor of the brain.  She had an appointment at M. D. Anderson for doctors to further evaluate her and figure out what they could and couldn’t do with this horrible thing that was upon that cute little girl.

“She was with her mother and her grandmother.  They came all this way, about three hundred miles up here.

“I administered the sacrament of the sick, which is healing itself.  The Church has it.  It’s in the Book of James.  I blessed her with St. Peregrine’s relic— first-class part of his body— and his oil, and I prayed over her.

“We were about ready to dismiss when something checked me.

Go to the tabernacle.  Take me out of the tabernacle.  Bring me to her.  Let me bless her.

“And so I took the monstrance.  I’ve done this with groups of people.  I did it at the charismatic renewal at Most Precious Blood Church.  Everyone was blessed by Jesus, so, okay, fine.

“I blessed this little girl.  Rather, I let Jesus bless this little girl.  I made the cross over her and put him back.  Then, goodbye.  The little girl left.

“The next day, which was Thursday— that was a week ago this Thursday— she had an eight o’clock appointment at M. D. Anderson.  I came here to the chapel to say Mass at seven; and the few who were here prayed for her, too.  We joined our prayer together; and, about two o’clock in the afternoon, the grandmother called me from the car.

“She was in orbit.

“‘Father!  When the doctors examined her, there was no tumor at all!  There was just scar tissue where the tumor had been!’

“The doctors said, ‘We have no explanation for this.’

“And she said, ‘We do.  Several have been praying for this little girl.’”

Prayer handkerchiefs

“Let’s go back and see.

“I gave out prayer handkerchiefs.  They’re from the Bible, the Acts of the Apostles [19:12].  Not everyone could get to St. Paul, and he couldn’t get to everybody either.  That was impossible, so he blessed the prayer handkerchiefs and sent them to people.

StP91512-1“There was no magic in those handkerchiefs that I gave out.  They can’t heal anyone.  They’re good for blowing your nose maybe, but that’s it.  Still, that’s all I could do; but they were a point of contact for releasing faith.  The practice was started by a holy man of God, a saint.

“Just like the woman who said, ‘If I touch the garment, I will be healed,’ I know of two miracles that have happened from handkerchiefs that have left this chapel.”

Family healing

“One was a marine general who was bitten by a viper.  They’re deadly, more deadly than a rattlesnake.  He not only lived to get treatment, but he didn’t die and had no swelling.  His wife was pregnant with twins, but they were going to lose one or both of them.  The handkerchief was put on her stomach, and both twins are healthy and the cutest little kids you’d ever want to see.  They’re eighteen months old.”

Remembering to give thanks

“People come from the Rio Grande Valley on little pilgrimages.  They have simple, direct, and loving faith.  I have a lot to copy from them.  A few weeks ago three women returned.  They had a young couple with them that had a baby, cute little kid.

“After seven o’clock Mass, we had an hour of Adoration.  Then I had a healing service for them and gave them the whole meal deal.  They were ready to leave; but during my talk, I said, ‘You know what’s sad?  Jesus healed ten lepers.  Only one was thankful.  Only one came back to thank him and acknowledge what he did.  Yet, all were healed.  I find that in my priesthood.  The majority of those healed never calls to let me know, but enough do that I know God is healing them.  It’s not my imagination.  It really is true.’

“Oh, I’ve met people going out the door at HEB on Leopard Street who ask, ‘Father, do you remember me?’

“Of course, I don’t,” Father Ralph whispered to us teasingly.

“’You prayed for my husband,’ the woman said.  ‘Do you remember?  He had lung cancer’— or whatever it was— ‘but he’s well now.’

“Or, I was at Fruit King.  I used to go there every Saturday to buy things for our college.  This woman kept looking at me.  Finally, she said, ‘I know who you are.  You’re Father Ralph.  You prayed for my nephew who had cancer.  He’s totally healed.’”

The man’s tonsillectomy

“So the three women and the couple with the baby were ready to leave, and one of the women came back to talk to me.

“’I was here before I had a prayer handkerchief, so a friend lent it to me.  My husband had a tonsillectomy.’

“Now, most people in their ignorance think that’s a simple operation— it is— but don’t realize people die from that every year.  They bleed to death in their sleep or in their crib like a little baby, and they’re gone.

“So the woman’s husband got home from the tonsillectomy, and everything was fine for about four or five hours.  I don’t know what the time was.  Then he coughed up some blood, and blood began to flow from his mouth.  He was hemorrhaging to death.

“The woman started praying, believing in Jesus; but nothing happened.  She called 911 and was desperately waiting for the ambulance to arrive when she remembered the handkerchief.

“I don’t know why she placed it on the back of the man’s neck, but that’s where she put it.  She said, ‘Father, the bleeding instantly dried.  Then I thought, I don’t need the paramedics after all; but they were already there.’

“She told the paramedics what’d happened; and they said, ‘To be safe, we’d better take him to the ER and have the doctor check him.’

“As soon as they got to the hospital, the man started bleeding again.  Do you see the miracle?  The prayer handkerchief stopped the bleeding till God got him to the medical solution he had waiting for him.”

Grandfather’s concern

“There was a couple who came here.  We have many visitors.  They were grandparents from Victoria.  After Mass they told me, ‘We’ll come back another day.’

“Oh, okay.  That’s good.  You’re always welcome.’

“About a week later, the man called me.  ‘Father, we have a problem.’

“’What is it?’

“’We have a grandson who can’t walk.  He’s twenty-one months old, and doctors don’t know why he can’t walk.’

“I said, ‘Hold the phone with one hand, bend down, and touch your ankles.  Let us pray.  ‘Pray one for another that you might be healed.  Affected with fervent prayer, the righteous availeth much.’  And he did!

“Several weeks later the grandfather called me.  He was in orbit also.  ’Hello, Father.  Do you remember me?’”

“’Yeah, yeah, yeah.’

“’I was at a family gathering, and Little Cooper was there running all over the place.  No one could catch him,’ the grandfather said.

More stories

“I’ll tell you a couple more stories.  I’m not going to keep you long, but do you see what I’m doing?  I’m quoting the word of God.  I’m showing you how Jesus uses the word of God.  He is the word of God.

“People said they didn’t believe until they got healed.  Now I’m telling you about real cases I’ve interacted with, not that I could heal a flea.  I can’t, but that convinces me even more about the reality of God.  Jesus still heals, and Grandpa Doug isn’t so old and senile that he can’t remember or help any of us.”

Father Ralph was momentarily pensive.  “Well, let’s see.  I have so many stories.”

The man and the little boy

“In my memory bank, this one is still a miracle to me,” Father said emotionally.  “I’ll never forget this one.

“A Hispanic man came to our chapel in the interest of weeds that he called grass.  It was no more grass than seaweed.  Anyway, he wanted to volunteer to work for us day and night; so he did a lot of yard work and landscaping in the process.

“One day he came with a statue of the Child Jesus, a beautiful, expensive thing.  I didn’t want to accept it; but I know that if you don’t accept from the Spanish, you offend them.  I learned that the hard way, so I accepted the statue.

“The man told me he had a lot of devotion to the Child Jesus; and, because he did, all year long he collected toys, clothes, candy— anything of value— for kids.  He usually got enough to rent a huge U-Haul van and pack it full.  This little Hispanic man with a big heart would go all the way to Laredo, TX; and there, about a week before Christmas, he’d give it all away to all the kids.

“Well, one day he quit.  I was sorry to see him go, but he’d done a marvelous job while he was working with us.

“Several months went by.  I’d finished noon Mass at the big adoration chapel in Corpus when I saw the man with his wife on one side and his son on the other.  He could no longer walk without help.  He could not talk any longer.  He could not swallow anymore.  He had a hole in his stomach through which he was fed.  He’d come prepared.  I gave him the Sacrament of the Sick, prayed over him with St. Peregrine’s oil— the whole meal deal.

“The man started coming to the Monday night novenas to St. Peregrine.  After about two months, I noticed that he didn’t need anyone to help him walk.  That’s all I saw.

“Then he started coming every Sunday evening.  As I was praying over people, he came up, too.  I raised my hands to him like this,” Father Ralph said, extending his hands to show us.  “I don’t touch people.  I want God’s grace to touch them, his power to touch them.  Then this came out of my mouth: ‘The day will come, mijo.  You’ll eat tacos and burritos again.’

“From my own mouth!” Father Ralph chuckled.  Then, after I said it, I thought, If that’s not God, you’re in deep doo-doo, Father.  Get ready.

“So the man kept coming.  Then one Sunday he was way back in the chapel, so I thought, Did I give him false hope or what?  Was that God or was that you, Father, in your wishful thinking?  I honestly did not know, so I continued praying over people.

“The woman in the front pew looked like my mother to me.  Maybe she was.  She looked that old, and she had this little boy with her who was about seven years of age.  She interrupted me, ‘Father!  Father!’

“Yes?

“’This boy likes to pray for the sick.’

“In my mind— I hate to have to confess this— I looked at the boy and thought, You’re the priest.  You’re the child.  You’re ordained.  You’re not.

All these prideful, egotistical thoughts ran through my head, and then God checked me.  ‘That man has a devotion to me as a child.  That man sacrifices for kids every year.  Maybe I’ll use this little boy to give him his miracle.’

“I thought, This little kid, what can he do?  But I’ll ask him anyway.  I’ll satisfy his mother.  So I asked the boy, ‘Son, would you like to pray for someone?’

“’Yeah!’ he said, whipped up like he was a professional.

“Oh, my goodness!  He followed me all the way to the back of the chapel to where this Hispanic man was kneeling.  I didn’t tell him anything, so the boy knew nothing about that man.  He put his hands on his head.  Remember, he’d had a stroke.  It hits the brain with the nervous system going down.  Then he put his hands to the man’s throat— remember, he couldn’t swallow or speak— then to the man’s stomach.

“As the child was doing this, I was going, Oh, Holy Spirit!  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  You’re really moving through this little kid!

“The man got his miracle.”

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Prayer from Favorite Patron Saints (The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., p. 25)

Dearest Mother Mary, Mother of Sorrows, behold me, your child, in prayer at your feet.  I have come to plead for this special favor through the intercession of your faithful servant, St. Peregrine…

Sorrowful Mother, I beg you to present my petition to your divine son.  If you will pray for me, I cannot be refused.  I know, dearest Mother, that you want me to seek God’s will in all things.  Therefore, with childlike trust, I abandon myself to God’s holy will concerning my request.  If what I ask… should not be granted, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul.

Sweet Mother of Sorrows, I love you!  I put all my confidence in you because your prayers before God are most powerful.  For the greater glory of God and for the sake of Jesus through the intercession of St. Peregrine whom you have led to sainthood, hear and grant my prayer.  Amen.

For healing…  O God, who created beings both visible and invisible, we praise you for the service and protection of your angels.  Through the intercession of your archangel, Raphael, guide us on our journey and guard us on our way.  We pray for your merciful cure upon those most in need of the care of your angel, Raphael; and we implore your healing from all our afflictions in body, mind, and spirit.  May we rejoice with all your angels and saints as we praise your glory forever.  Amen (Stephen J. Binz in Saint Junipero Serra’s Camino: A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions).

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

Links of interest…  Do we wish to be healed…  Intercessory prayer…  Miracle prayer (Fr. Peter Mary Rookey; YouTube)…  Pray with Fr. Bob (audio novena)…  Saints: novenas (188) / prayer…  St. Peregrine: about / articles (prayer cards) / biography / “cancer saint” / chaplet / feast / friends of / healing intercessor & friend / healing power / May 1st / novena / prayers (requests) / shrine / story…  Stella Maris: anniversary / facebook / history (more) / Lamar, TX (more) / marker

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Capuchin church stations…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  Holy relics…  Memorable as ever…  Mercy and justice…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayers and blessings…  Saintly connections…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Bonaventure Church…  St. Felix…  St. Jude Shrine…  St. Peregrine relic…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Stella Maris…  Stella Maris moments…  Today’s Beatitudes

Memorable as ever

On September 15, 2012, Steven and I returned to Stella Maris and delighted in finding Father Ralph peacefully seated under a tree.

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“Hello!  How are you?” I chirped.

“How are you?” Father asked.

“I’m just fine, looking forward to seeing you again.”

“Praise God!  It’s been a while.”

“Olivia called me on August 30, to let me know she’s healthier than ever.  She’s exercising an hour and a half every day.  She’s the one who had the colon cancer surgery on January 23.  Remember?  We came here, and we told you.  She’s doing just fine.  Praise God!”

“Oh, how wonderful!  Well, he hasn’t retired, and he hasn’t become senile yet.  He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Transformational experience

“We brought you this.  We were in Detroit.”

“Oh, yes.  Solanus Casey,” Father Ralph said as he examined the baggie’s contents and saw Father Casey’s relic badge and the prayer leaflet.

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“Yes.  Have you been there?” I asked excitedly.

“I did my master’s there.  He died the year I got there.  July or June, 1957.”

“Oh, this is priceless!  We were there April 28, and he was transformed,” I said, referring to Steven.

“Wonderful!”

“I walked into the chapel,” Steven began, “and there was no doubt in my mind that I was on holy ground.  Something very special happened.”

“Praise the Lord!  You want to hear about the latest miracle?” Father asked enticingly.

“Yes!  Yes!  Oh, and please, please, please, I need to pray for somebody.”

“We’ll do it after Mass.  We will,” Father assured me.

Another miracle

“There was a lady who called from the Valley,” Father Ralph continued.  “We’ve been getting a lot of visitors from the Valley, way down there where Our Lady of San Juan is, at the basilica and around that area.”

“A lot of people have been checking out my blog posts on you and this church,” I told Father.  “The first time we were here, I recorded your homily, typed it, and added it to my post.  You talked about fourteen miracles.”

“Praise God!  They’re still coming.  This one will blow your mind.  A week ago this Wednesday.  Well, first of all, a lady called me from the Valley about three weeks before that.  She said her daughter had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  She had an appointment at M. D. Anderson to determine what they were going to do.  What could they do?  I prayed over the phone for the child.  I always stress that there’s no distance in prayer.  God is the healer, and so I quote the Word.

“Last Wednesday she came— the mother, the grandmother, and this very cute little girl.  She’s about four-and-a-half, very shy, very timid.  I annointed her with the sacrament of the sick.  I blessed her with St. Peregrine’s oil and first-class relic and prayed over her.  Then, just before they left, I was led to do something I’d never done.  I’d done it on a group basis but never one-on-one like that.

“I took Jesus out of the tabernacle and blessed her with the monstance.  Rather, I held it while Jesus blessed her.  They proceeded to the hospital in Houston.  She had an appointment at eight o’clock the next morning.

“We remembered her during seven o’clock Mass; and people here prayed for her, too.

“About two o’clock in the afternoon, the grandmother called me.  They were in orbit!  They were on their way back home to McAllen.  She said, ‘Father, when they got in there and rechecked her with their tests, there was no tumor whatsoever, just a little scar tissue where it had been.  The doctor said, ‘I have no explanation for this medically.’  And the grandmother said, ‘We do.  Several have been praying for this little girl.'”

“Praise God!” I interjected.

Blessed handkerchiefs

StP91512-3Father Ralph continued.

“About two months ago I gave out some blessed handkerchiefs, like St. Paul did, to some of the pilgrims who came here.  Anyway, I did my thing; and they left.

“A couple of weeks later, three who’d been here came back.  They had a couple with them, a young couple with a little baby.  They came to the seven o’clock Mass and stayed for Adoration.

“I did a miracle service for them during which I said, ‘You know, it’s sad.  Ten lepers were healed by Jesus, and only one came back and acknowledged and thanked him.  I’m not the healer; but I find that in the priesthood.  Very few, if any, ever acknowledge that they got help.  Yet, you get enough that you know God is alive and still doing it.’

“I run across people in odd places.  I have at the door of HEB, at Fruit King.”

I laughed heartily.

“I’m serious.  At different places.  ‘Oh, Father, Father, do you remember?’

“Anyway, one of the three women remembered.  She told me, ‘Father, someone lent me the handkerchief you gave her.  My husband had a tonsillectomy.  He came home, and everything was fine.  Several hours later, he coughed up a little blood… and then a little bit more blood… and then more blood.’  She said, ‘He was hemorrhaging.  I prayed for him.  Nothing happened.  I called 9-1-1, and then I remembered the handkerchief I’d borrowed.   I put it on the back of his neck.’

“Now why she put it there I don’t know.  She said, ‘The bleeding stopped instantly.  Then I thought, Why did I call 9-1-1 anyway?  I don’t think I need them at all.’

“By that time it was too late.  The paramedics were already there; so they went in, saw what was going on, and said, ‘For safety sake, we’d better go by the ER with him.’

“As soon as they got there, the man started hemorrhaging again.  The handkerchief had stopped the bleeding until they could get him to competent hands!  That was the miracle.

“Then I gave a healing service in George West, TX.  They have a church up there called St. George.  They wanted a devotion to St. Peregrine, and I knew there’d be a powerful move of God because they had a statue of St. Peregrine in the church.  It looked quite large, but I guess it was resin.  It looked heavy; but it wasn’t at all, so the priest moved it near the side of the altar.

“The people came forward for anointing and so forth, and a couple of them had pictures of those who couldn’t be there.  I just vaguely remember this.  One of them was an infant who had cancer.  There was no chemo they could use and no radiation, or it would kill her.  She was just a little kid, and so they got their miracle.  The cancer totally disappeared.  St. Peregrine is very powerful.”

“Yes, he is!” I agreed, recalling Olivia’s healing miracle.

Memorable as ever

Just then Father Ralph spotted a familiar face.

“Hey!  Hi there.  Welcome to church!  You’d better be careful.  You’re going to be addicted!” he teased as the woman approached.

“I know!  How was your trip?” the woman asked joyfully.

“It was wonderful.”

“Father, this is my son, Josh.  He’s down from San Antonio.”

“How wonderful!”

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Steven and I took that as our cue to give others the opportunity to visit with Father Ralph before Mass.

I wondered what he had in store for us, but I was sure it’d be as memorable as ever.

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Prayer

O God, you gave St. Peregrine an angel for his companion, the Mother of God for his teacher, and Jesus as physician of his malady.  We ask, through his merits, that we may intensely love and forever bless our holy angel, the blessed Virgin Mary, and our Savior.  Grant that we may receive the favor for which we now petition.  We ask this through Christ, our lord.  Amen.

Pray seven Our Father’s, seven Hail Mary’s, and seven Glory be’s.  Close with “St. Peregrine, pray for us.”

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

Links of interest…  Franciscan Mission Associates…  Prayer: intercessory / Miracle prayer (Fr. Peter Mary Rookey; YouTube) / novenas (188) / to the saints / with Fr. Bob (audio novena)…  Saints: about / by date & name / fun facts archive / lives / of the day / patron / sqpn* / stories for kids…  St. Peregrine: about / articles (prayer cards) / biography / “cancer saint” / chaplet / feast / friends of / healing intercessor & friend / healing power / May 1st / novena / prayers (requests) / shrine / story…  Stella Maris: anniversary / facebook / history (more) / Lamar, TX (more) / marker

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  God’s master plan…  Healing service…  Holy relics…  Mercy and justice…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayers and blessings…  Saintly connections…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sensory overload…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Bonaventure Church…  St. Felix…  St. Peregrine relic…  Stella Maris…  Today’s Beatitudes