Mary’s Immaculate Heart

Driving past Immaculate Heart of Mary, I just knew I had to visit; but we moved back to Brownsville in the fall and I simply forgot, except for every now and then when I recalled my brief but memorable life in Harlingen.

February 26, 2017

Of course, the older I get the more I’ve come to know that long-held heartfelt wishes do come true.  And so it was that we needed to attend Mass “somewhere,” allowing us three hours precisely to get to where we needed to be that afternoon.

“You remember that church in Harlingen?” I asked Steven.  “The one I told you I’ve been wanting to visit since June 1969?  Let’s check online to see if it has ten o’clock Mass.”

And, oh, what a blessing that turned out to be!

    

            

                

                

            

            

            

                  

June 11, 2017

Our first visit to Immaculate Heart of Mary had been so thoroughly fulfilling that I’d longed to revisit; but, again as before, we needed to be back home by two o’clock, this time to attend Sam and Ning’s annual pilgrim rosary.

The church parking lot was empty except for us, but we didn’t panic.  We’d shown up super early for me to take photos so that we’d have time to chat after Mass.  Then, on finding the church unlit, we were somewhat puzzled but not really concerned.

As I did my thing and Steven sat to pray, a family of three or four young adults walked in.  Like us, they were from out of town and pretty much congratulating each other for “finding this church in perfect time for ten o’clock Mass.”

“This is so exciting!” one woman said to the others.  “I’ve never been here.  I wonder what it’s like.”

They’ll find out soon enough, I smiled to myself, because I certainly knew what to expect— welcoming parishioners, some more daring to strike up a conversation about their beloved church than others, but everyone genuinely inclusive.

Then, out of nowhere, a man— most likely the sacristan— quietly approached Steven and the others.

Standing near the altar I couldn’t quite make out what he said, but I sensed great disappointment not only in the voices, but also in the shuffling feet as the small group exited in disbelief.  I wasn’t ready to stop taking photos but walked over to Steven nonetheless, since he was already standing in the aisle, ready to go.

“I don’t know what happened, but there’s no ten o’clock Mass,” he said.  “According to the man, the bulletin with the times is posted in the vestibule.  The next one’s at eleven-thirty, but we’ll be late to Sam and Ning’s if we stay for that.”

Despite the time crunch, I insisted on “just two more photos” before we scrambled to find eleven o’clock Mass elsewhere.

We had to attend Mass before heading back home!

            

                

            

            

June 17, 2017

Naturally, I didn’t give up on Immaculate Heart of Mary; so, being that we returned to the Rio Grande Valley during the week, we agreed to stay for Saturday evening Mass and return home Sunday.

And the beauty of attending Mass at a different time?  Getting a more rounded perspective on the church community that— wouldn’t you know it— welcomed us in the same friendly fashion as our first time there.

We may have been visitors, but we weren’t treated like strangers.  We were like everyone else, basking in the smiles before and during Mass, the warm handshakes during the sign of peace, and the joy in seeing all the dads go up to the altar to receive a special blessing and a St. Joseph key fob for Father’s Day.

And the icing on the cake?  The lector stopping by our pew to chat with us after Mass.

My only regret, sort of, was not leaving a “hello” message for the lector to pass along to Elvira, Joe, and Patsy— cherished hearts— whom we met in February.  But that’s okay.

We can always go back for late Sunday morning Mass!

            

July 9, 2017

We returned for eleven-thirty Mass with the hopes of seeing Elvira, Joe, and Patsy; but it just wasn’t meant to be.  Instead, we delighted in joyful expressions— effusive smiles during Mass and playful hellos after Communion— with the two lively little boys seated alongside us with their parents on the sixth pew facing the ambo.

            

                  

Prayers

Daily offering…  O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.  I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sins, the reunion of all Christians.  I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all apostles of prayer and, in particular, for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.  Amen.

Daily renewal…  Queen of the most holy rosary, I renew my consecration to you and to your immaculate heart.  Please accept me, my dear mother, and use me as you wish to accomplish your designs upon the world.  I am all yours, my mother, my queen.  All that I have is yours.

Immaculate heart of Mary…  Father, you prepared the heart of the Virgin Mary to be a fitting home for your Holy Spirit.   By her prayers may we become worthy temples of your glory.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Novena…  O most blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer.  As your children we implore your intercession with Jesus, your son.  Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially….

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer.  We trust to your gentle care and intercession those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting.  Help all of us, holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.  Amen.

                        

                

                

Contact information

Our Lord’s Virgin and Mother is from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; and the Immaculate Heart of Mary prayers are from The Grail, St. Meinrad, IN; and Hirten Company, 35 Industrial Road, Suite 2, Cumberland, RI 02864-4714, respectively.

Quotes

For unless our Lady is recognized as the mother of God and as the queen of all the saints and angels and as the hope of the world, faith in God will remain incomplete.  How can we ask him for all the things he would have us hope for if we do not know, by contemplating the sanctity of the immaculate virgin, what great things he has power to accomplish in the souls of men? (Thomas Merton).

Let us pray to the immaculate heart of Mary for all the graces that we need to be a brilliant light and a holy comfort to others each and every day in this darkened and sometimes frightening world.  Don’t forget to offer your sufferings to God and to make sacrifices to save souls (Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle in Our Lady of Fatima).

July 20, 2017

There are three things we must do to be at peace: have a pure intention to desire the honor and glory of God in all things; do the little that we can unto that end, following the advice of our spiritual father; and leave all the rest to God’s care (St. Francis de Sales in Roses Among Thorns).

Links of interest…  Blessing of Catholic friends…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Church & spiritual maturity in Christian life…  Consecration to the immaculate heart of Mary…  Discernment, action, & WDGWMTD…  Finding your true self in Marian devotion…  God’s favorite garden…  IHM church: directionswebsite…  Immaculate heart of Mary (door of mercy – symbolism)…  Immaculate Mary Song…  Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations /
mother (of the church) / page / picturingprayers (miracles – more – novena – queen of angels) / untier of knots…  Prayer: devotion (more – purpose) / novenas / podcasts…  Society of the green scapular (heaven’s promises – Mary’s gift)…  Ten ways to grow in friendship with Jesus & Mary…  Thirteen quotes

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Marytown shrine…  May flowers…  Our Lady…  San Juan Diego…  Sorrowful redemption

Twelve and five

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Steven and I usually attend Saturday evening Mass.  Only we couldn’t do that January twenty-first because we were on field trips that day.

Too tired to get up early Sunday morning, we slept in and opted for noon Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Brownsville, TX.

Noon Mass

A beautiful sacred space with good music, enthusiastic parishioners, and an excellent homilist enveloped us as we occupied the right-hand center aisle seats on the third pew.  Who could ask for anything more?

Then, after Mass, I approached one of the Extraordinary Ministers to ask when church would close.

The young woman smiled Mona Lisa style and softly responded.  “Take your photos.  I have the key.  I’ll wait until you’re done.”

Without knowing, I’d gone up to the parish secretary, Sandra Castillo, a beautiful young woman, patient and generous with her time.  I was beyond grateful, so I got busy.

Before we left, we met her sister, Anita; and they met Steven.  I told Sandra that I’d email to let her know when I’d uploaded the photos onto my blog, but half of the photos were too dark to salvage.

Still unaccustomed to the settings on my new Coolpix, I’d forgotten to set the flash.  The altar and the alcove appeared so dark that, even with adjustments, the photos were useless.

The only solution?  Attend five o’clock Mass the following weekend.

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Evening Mass

What a difference between the two Masses!

Music at noon had been louder, more upbeat, with younger families and teens in attendance, while evening Mass featured a pianist-cellist duo whose music was somewhat nostalgic with older family members in mind.

Moreover, the ambiance was relaxed and inviting, conducive to spontaneity.

As I photographed the statues in the alcove before Mass, a young mother with a tall candle embraced like a beloved child, waited just a few feet behind me.  Sensing her, I instinctively turned and stepped aside.

olgc12817-23I was a mix of regretful thoughtlessness for impeding the woman’s time before the saints and awe at her unanticipated response.  Instead of greeting me with frowned disdain, she touched my heart with her warm, modest smile, ojo a ojo, as we unintentionally rubbed arms passing each other by.

In those fleeting moments I wanted to say “excuse me,” but she’d immersed herself in prayerful intimacy before I could say anything.  So I added my sentiments in silence, thanked God for the blessing, took my photos, and walked back to where Steven sat.

During the sign of peace I reached over to shake hands with a young man at the end of the pew in front of ours and, on making eye contact, was immediately whisked away to another place in time.

“Rey?!!” I asked incredulously.

The young man smiled knowingly.  “You haven’t changed at all!”

Rey Ramirez and his cousin, Norma, had both been my sixth-grade students the year my oldest, William, had been in a different classroom.  Collectively a really excellent crop of kids, I was overjoyed that some had remained friends over the years despite life’s changes and intermittent communications.

“The two altar servers are my kids,” Rey beamed, unable to contain his pride and joy.

Oh, my gosh, how the years had passed.  What a gift to see him again!

After Mass I was drawn back to the alcove for several minutes.  Standing within the stillness of my spirituality but very much aware of others moving about, I noticed an upbeat teenager approaching with intent.

“This is a wonderful church!” I enthused as she neared the candle holders.

“I’ve attended Our Lady of Good Counsel for fifteen years….  I can’t imagine belonging anywhere else.  I love it here!” the young woman declared.

Her faith, light and soulful, flowed effortlessly, reminiscent of the natural water source that St. Teresa of Avila described in The Interior Castle (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979, pp. 33-34).

God’s favored her, I thought.  Does she have any idea how special she is?

Then, bidding each other well, I walked away as her candle lighting ritual began.

In the meantime, Steven had been chatting with the woman who’d rushed me before Communion to exchange a heartfelt handshake.

She looked somewhat familiar, but did I know her?  I’d made that mistake before.

When I reached them, the smiling woman introduced herself.

Rose Rivas, I later learned, is the cellist’s wife.  She was so effusive that we conversed until we somehow intuited, based on the sacristan’s concerned looks and the times he walked past us, that he needed to lock up for the night.

“You have to come back!” Rose insisted, her heart on her sleeve.

“We will,” I smiled.  “The church is very welcoming, Father’s homilies hit the spot, and I love the cello.  Being here feels just right.”

And we said our goodbyes.

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Twelve and five

Looking back on our time at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Sandra’s graciousness left a lovely, indelible imprint; but our overall impression encompassed not just priest and parishioners, but environment as well.

I gravitate toward statues, stained-glass windows, and the stations of the cross.  I enjoy interactions between light and dark areas, subliminal reflections of our daily lives, within sacred spaces.  And I cherish impromptu moments— a demure smile, a shared anecdote, a silent prayer— among would-be strangers, if not for our Catholic (Christian) faith.  So, based on these appealing attributes, we felt very much at ease within this vibrant church community.  And, oh, the memories gleaned!

We arrived early for Mass both times since my blog requires weekly photographs of the altar for the “meditations” page.  This gave us unhurried quiet time to experience the comings, doings, and goings all around.  Heaven forbid that we should sit and gawk, though!  Mom would never have put up with that!  We would’ve gotten coscorrones; hard, twisted pinches on the arm; and/or, heaven forbid, La Mirada!

Twelve o’clock Mass was energized, not at all “for lazy folks” (quite the inference eons ago).  Everyone was wide-awake and glad to be there.  Lively proactive engagement for sure!  But, unlike St. Paul’s where parishioners linger endlessly after Mass, Our Lady of Good Counsel emptied quickly.  Maybe because the midday meal harkened the hungry soul?  Maybe because, as I’ve tried to explain to Steven, the culture is different?  Maybe because work, familial obligations, and other factors were at play?

Five o’clock Mass was different, though.  The music was calming; the atmosphere, serene.  The lighting was softer, more contemplative; the evening, aglow with gratitude.

All week long I’d awaited Saturday with joyful expectation, but never could I have imagined the surprises that God had in store.  By returning to Our Lady of Good Counsel, we delighted not just in the ladies and Rey, but also in his two precious children and Norma’s parents before we left church that evening.  God is sooo good!

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Prayers

God of heavenly wisdom, you have given us Mary, mother of Jesus, to be our guide and counselor.  Grant that we may always seek her motherly help in this life and so enjoy her blessed presence in the life to come.

O Mother of Good Counsel, patroness of the National Council of Catholic Women, intercede for us that we may be wise, courageous, and loving leaders of the church.  Help us, dear Mother, to know the mind of Jesus, your son.

May the Holy Spirit fill us with the reverence for God’s creation and compassion for all God’s children.  May our labors of love on earth enhance the reign of God, and may God’s gifts of faith and living hope prepare us for the fullness of the world to come.  Amen.

Most glorious virgin, selected by the eternal councils as mother of the eternal word made human, treasury of divine grace and advocate of sinners, I, the most unworthy of Christians, have recourse to you.  [Be] my guide and counselor in this valley of tears.  Obtain for me, by the precious blood of your divine Son, the pardon of my sins, the salvation of my soul, and the means necessary to secure it.  Obtain the triumph of the truth taught by the holy Church over those who would reject it and the spread of the reign of Jesus Christ over all the world.  Amen.

We turn to you, our Mother of Good Counsel, as we seek to imitate your faith-filled life.  May we be led by the same wisdom which God sent forth from heaven to guide you along unfamiliar paths and through challenging decisions.

Keep us united in mind and heart as we go forward in joyful hope toward the grace-filled freedom that Augustine recommends.

O Virgin Mother of Good Counsel, hear our prayer as we look to you for guidance.  Pray for us to our loving and merciful Father, to your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, giver of all wisdom, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

February 5, 2017

If we wish to make any progress in the service of God, we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness.  We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor (St. Charles Borromeo).

February 8, 2017

“The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants of us!”
(St. Josephine Bakhita).

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.  Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.  Let me not pass you by in the quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow (Mary Jean Irion).

February 9, 2017

“‘Great’ holiness consists in carrying out the ‘little duties’ of each moment”
(St. Josemaría Escrivá).

February 12, 2017

Patience is power.  Patience is not an absence of action; rather, it is “timing.”  [Patience] waits on the right time to act, for the right principles, and in the right way (Venerable Fulton J. Sheen).

February 25, 2017

Do everything for love.  Thus there will be no little things: Everything will be big.  Perseverance in little things for love is heroism (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

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Links of interest…  About saints...  Becoming community...  Finding hope & healing in prayer…  Importance of lighting candles (prayers)…  Josemaría Escrivá: about / home / Opus Deiquotes…  Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / Our Lady of Hope / page / prayers (miracles – more – novena – queen of angels) / teach us how to loveuntier of knots…  Mother of Good Counsel: about (book – more) / feast (more) / history of the apparition / mater boni consilii / miraculous fresco (image) / story…  Our Lady of Good Counsel Church: about / facebookwebsite…  Pray for us in these times of confusion, O Mother of Good Counsel…  Prayers for valor & virtue / litany / novena…  Surprises: God’s (more) – gracious rescue

WP pages…  M 2016…  Meditations…  Praise…  Saints

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  God’s lovely gifts…  Guadalupe Church…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s church…   Pink divinity…  Repeated prayers…  San Juan Diego…  Seven dwelling places

Sunday morning visit

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

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Call of service

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Outdoor scenes

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Parish hall

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About the church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come back anytime and have a great visit.

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, CSsR

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Prayer from SMV church bulletin

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

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

November 9, 2016

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

December 15, 2016

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

March 5, 2017

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

June 1, 2017

“For our leader, the Divine Word, does not demand a strong body and beautiful countenance or high and noble birth, but a pure soul well-grounded in holiness”
(St. Justin Martyr).

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

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

Second looks

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My junior high school science teacher, Mr. Beimler, always insisted that second looks allow not just for comparing and contrasting, but also for enrichment.  So, over the course of my lifetime, I’ve tested and tweaked that notion, adding depth and complexity as well as enjoyment and perspective.

Do-over

When Steven emailed from his Wednesday evening ACTS team meeting that we’d be returning to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), I was relieved.  One of my posted photos of the stained-glass windows looked fuzzy, so I was glad for the opportunity to replace it.

Still, what I’d really hoped (and longed for) since our first visit to OLPH was to indulge my third eye in its post-Lent unveiled statues.

Second looks

Attending Saturday evening Mass presented a slight dilemma, however.  The lighting was different.  But I took my time, made lens adjustments, and hoped for the best.

As Steven recruited for the men’s ACTS retreat, I moved about capturing not only what I’d missed during our first visit, but also what the church community holds dear.

The all-white angels on either side of the all-white Madonna and her child dazzled me.  Who thinks to have uncolored statues in church?  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph reminded me of the original statues from the old St. Joseph Church in Port Aransas.  They resemble collectible prayer card depictions.  And Mary, featured prominently near the altar, emotionally transported me to daily Mass as a first-grader at Immaculate Conception School.  Even now Mary is celebrated with floral bouquets in May.

All in all, Our Lady of Perpetual Help was just as insightful the second time around!

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Prayers

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying.  O purest Mary, O sweetest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips.  Delay not, O blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on you; for, in all my needs, in all my temptations, I shall never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary.  O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fill my soul when I pronounce your sacred name or even only think of you.  I thank God for having given you for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name.  But I will not be content with merely pronouncing your name.  Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you, mother of perpetual help.  Amen.

My powerful Queen, you are all mine through your mercy, and I am all yours.  Take away from me all that may displease God and cultivate in me all that is pleasing to him.  May the light of your faith dispel the darkness of my mind, your deep humility take the place of my pride, your continual sight of God fill my memory with his presence.

May the first of the love of your heart inflame the lukewarmness of my own heart.  May your virtues take the place of my sins.  May your merits be my enrichment and make up for all that is wanting in me before God.

My beloved Mother, grant that I may have no other spirit but your spirit  to know Jesus Christ and his divine will and to praise and glorify the Lord, that I may love God with burning love like yours.  Amen.

V.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
R.  I give you my heart and my soul.
V.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
R.  Assist me in my last agony.
V.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
R.  May I sleep and take my rest in peace with you.

June 9, 2016

“Most people have no idea what God would make of them if they would only place themselves at his disposal” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).

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Links of interest…  ACTS Missions…  How to ask Mary for grace in a moment of desperation…  Mary: Indispensable to the gospel…  Never be afraid to take the same photograph again…  OLPH: facebook / Mass timeswebsite…  Our Lady of Perpetual Help: about / devotionshistory / image (elements – icon) / meaning / prayers: novena – safeguard – thanksgiving (petitions) – video / who is…  Time to free Mary…  Your blog is your mothership…  Why priests (& all evangelists) need Mary

WP posts…  Building community…  Call of service…  Church time blues…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Notre Dame revisited…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Undeniable familiarity

Undeniable familiarity

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When Steven announced that St. Paul’s would co-host the men’s ACTS retreat together with Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), I was over the moon at the prospect of visiting the church for the very first time.

Entering OLPH Sunday morning, March 13, 2016, I fully understood why Rosie, firstborn daughter of mom’s older middle brother and my dearest playmate growing up, was such an ardent parishioner.

Thanks to the ceilings, the walls, and the lighting, the church ambiance resonated with such intense familiarity that its spirit tugged at my heartstrings, evoking long-ago memories of our families’ church, Christ the King, founded in 1953, that Uncle Ray helped build (twice) in Brownsville, TX.  Yet the look and feel of the bare pews, maple stained, ultra smooth, perfectly curved, provided the welcoming embrace that took me home again the moment I sat for eleven o’clock Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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Prayer

Mother of Perpetual Help, woman of eternal hope, your wordless gaze tells us so much about you.  Knowing eyes look upon us with tender love.  The slight bend of your head reveals such maternal concern.

While your left hand supports the Child, your right hand is ready to receive us, too.  Just as he feels the beating of your heart, so you encourage us to lead a life of hope and holiness.  Just as his sandal will fall on your lap, through your intercession may God pick us up as we stumble and fall.

Never let us be parted from you and your son, Jesus.

Lady of love, you invite us to place our hand where his fingers touch yours— near a heart of endless hope— so that we may be united often in prayer here on earth and joined forever with you in heaven.  Amen.

May 19, 2016

With Mary live joyfully, with Mary bear all your trials, with Mary labor, with Mary pray, with Mary take your recreation, with Mary take your repose.  With Mary seek Jesus; in your arms bear Jesus and with Jesus and Mary fix your dwelling at Nazareth.  With Mary go to Jerusalem, remain near the cross of Jesus, bury yourself with Jesus.  With Jesus and Mary rise again, with Jesus and Mary mount to heaven, with Jesus and Mary live and die (Thomas à Kempis).

March 3, 2017

God, you are my strength and my song.  You are the reason for my joy.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and drive away the forces of discouragement and despair.  Jesus, I trust in you!  St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us! (Heidi Hess Saxton in Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta).

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Links of interest…  ACTS Missions…  Called to be living stones…  Christ the King Church: diocesan page / facebook / Mass times…  Lent: should statues/pictures be covered / veiling (more) / why crucifixes & statues are covered (more)…  Mary: Indispensable to the gospel…  OLPH: facebook / Mass timeswebsite…  Our Lady of Perpetual Help: about / history / image (elements – icon) /  meaning / novena / prayer (video) / who is…  Stations of the cross for children & families: download / fifteen candles / illustrated / prayer / printables / puppet show (YouTube) / resources / virtual walk / visuals

WP posts…  Building community…  Call of service…  Christ’s passion…  Church time blues…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Full circle…  Gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Notre Dame revisited…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  Second looks…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s…  Today’s Beatitudes

Notre Dame revisited

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

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

Heartfelt wish

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

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

Notre Dame revisited

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

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

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

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

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Prayer

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

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

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

May 7, 2016

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

May 8, 2016

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

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

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

Unexpected detours

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

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

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

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

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

Unexpected detours

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

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Prayers

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

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

May 24, 2016

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

June 4, 2016

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

June 10, 2016

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

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

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