Serendipity

shi101816-205

About ten years ago I came across a wonderful place online that I immediately longed to visit.  The National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague was in Oklahoma, though— too far from home to just drop by one afternoon— so I did the next best thing.

Way better than Calgon, technology can have us there quicker than one can say, “Take me awaaay!” so I clicked on the link to the shrine’s website and imagined myself there.

Serendipity

On our drive back from Wisconsin last October, Steven changed our route on a whim.  I doubt he even knew why; but we agreed that it would save us time, something we desperately needed, since we’d both been under the weather the entire trip, me with awful nosebleeds that only South Texas sunshine could remedy.  I was sure of that!

Feeling light-headed, I mostly drifted in and out of my wishfulness to be home; so I entertained myself by comparing and contrasting places we drove through, memorizing landforms and landmarks, figuring we wouldn’t be that way again.

Then I saw it!

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  A sign announcing the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague?!!  Oh, my gosh!  I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but I knew I’d read the sign correctly as we’d zipped past it on my right.

Steven wasn’t feeling well at all, so I didn’t want to impose on him by insisting on a detour.  Still, without emotion or expectation, containing myself as much as possible, I quietly muttered, “We just passed a sign to the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus.”

I said nothing more, resumed my koala bear existence, and took in the scenery as I immersed myself in NPR’s political commentary once again.

Okay, I thought.  Another time, maybe.  Right now we just need to get home.

And then, much later on, Steven took an exit.

“Where are we going?  Is something wrong?” I asked.

We were headed to Prague, Oklahoma.

Wowza!  Another long-held, heartfelt wish come true!  I could hardly wait!

St. Wenceslaus Church

Of course, as we’ve discovered during our travels, a shrine is usually, though not always, within a church that serves the parish.  In Chicago, for instance, the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus is at St. Pius V, while the Claretian St. Jude Shrine is at Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Similarly, the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague is housed within St. Wenceslaus, though, really, they are one and the same, wholly synonymous as a singular sacred space for parishioners and visitors alike.

shi101816-19      shi101816-18      shi101816-15      shi101816-13a

shi101816-22      shi101816-29      shi101816-28      shi101816-16

shi101816s-6    shi101816s-122    shi101816s-7

shi101816s-134     shi101816s-11     shi101816s-31

shi101816s-79      shi101816s-5      shi101816s-9      shi101816s-34

shi101816-95      shi101816-38      shi101816-113

shi101816-161       shi101816s-78        shi101816-115

shi101816s-114        shi101816s-116        shi101816-153        shi101816-35

shi101816s-49    shi101816s-133    shi101816s-22    shi101816s-132

shi101816s-51        shi101816s-53        shi101816s-54

shi101816s-85        shi101816s-87        shi101816s-86

  shi101816s-68        shi101816s-88        shi101816-55

shi101816s-126        shi101816s-23        shi101816s-26        shi101816s-27

shi101816s-28        shi101816s-27        shi101816s-24        shi101816s-124

shi101816s-57        shi101816-91        shi101816s-2

shi101816-184    shi101816-186    shi101816-204

shi101816-189   shi101816s-108   shi101816s-113   shi101816s-110

shi101816s-106      shi101816s-136a      shi101816-193

swc101616-1  swc101616-2  swc101616-3  swc101616-4

Letters to Fr. Long Phan

frl102416-1        frl102416-2        frl123116-1        frl123116-2

frl102416-4a     frl102416-4b     frl102416-3a

frl102416-3b     frl123116-3a     frl123116-3b

Prayers

Dearest Christ-child, O divine child, O thou lovely Jesus mine, see thy children would invite thee; come into these hearts of thine.  Yes, we know thy place and grandeur, though thou be but weak and small; for we say with deep assurance, thou art Savior of us all.

Powerful novena…  O Jesus who has said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened,” through the intercession of Mary, your most holy mother, I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.  (State your request.)

O Jesus who has said, “All that you ask of the Father in my name, he will grant you,” through the intercession of Mary, your most holy mother, I humbly and urgently ask your Father, in your name, that my prayer will be granted.  (State your request.)

O Jesus who has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not pass away,” through the intercession of Mary, your most holy mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.  (State your request.)

This novena can be recited at the same time every hour for nine consecutive hours— just one day— or once daily for nine days.

Thanksgiving…  Divine Infant Jesus, I know you love me and would never leave me.  I thank you for your close presence in my life.

Miraculous Infant, I believe in your promise of peace, blessings, and freedom from want.  I place every need and care in your hands.

Lord Jesus, may I always trust in your generous mercy and love.  I want to honor and praise you now and forever.  Amen.

sma121916-2a      sma121916-2b      sma121916-2c      sma121916-2d

Contact information

Thanks to Cathy Saccente from St. Mary of Victories Church in St. Louis, MO for the booklet, Novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague (Reverend Harry E. Stitz, 1945), from which I took both the Christ-child rhyme and the novena; and to Sister at the Carmelite Monastery in Goonellabah, Australia for the Relic of the True Crib prayer card.

February 6, 2017

A soul of holiness does not strive for that holiness.  It strives to love, to love wholeheartedly; there lies the difference….  The simple soul loves; that is all (Raoul Plus, SJ in Holy Simplicity).

shi101816s-97

shi101816s-83

shi101816s-37

shi101816-6

Links of interest…  Calgon (commercial)…  Child Jesus: aboutchaplet (more) / devotion / feast / infancy & childhood / meditations / miracles (books) / novena / of good health / photos / questions & answers / reverence / shrine / solemnity…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / artifacts / chaplet / devotion / feast / history / league / novena / of good health (more) / petitions / prayers…  How you & your kids can “become like children”…  National Shrine of the Infant Jesus (Prague, OK): facebook / gentle travelswebsite / YouTube…  NPR…  Practice of the presence of God…  Real mystics love Jesus…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about / chapel / history / miracles / origin / prayers / story (more)…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / feast (more) / history / homily / novena / origin / prayerssong…  St. Wenceslaus: about (more) / king & martyr (more) / memorial (more) / prayer (more) / profile / professing faith / song (about – lyrics – more) / story

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Celebrations…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Faith and prayer…  Forever grateful…  God’s loving mercy…  Making meaning…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  St. Anthony Claret…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Marytown shrine

NSMK4814s-52

After exploring Mundelein that very frigid morning, Martha, Steven, and I drove a little more than two miles— just seven minutes— to the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe and arrived in perfect time for noon Mass.  We were beside ourselves with joy!

NSMK4814-2    NSMK4814-4    NSMK4814-8    NSMK4814-9

NSMK4814-21   NSMK4814-38   NSMK4814-39   NSMK4814-40

NSMK4814s-32  NSMK4814-64  NSMK4814-66  NSMK4814s-80  NSMK4814-47

NSMK4814-44      NSMK4814s-24      NSMK4814s-25      NSMK4814s-3a

NSMK4814s-10     NSMK4814s-82     NSMK4814s-6     NSMK4814s-11

NSMK4814s-35        NSMK4814-1a        NSMK4814s-34

NSMK4814s-12     NSMK4814s-20     NSMK4814s-41     NSMK4814s-43

NSMK4814s-45     NSMK4814s-55     NSMK4814s-57     NSMK4814s-59

NSMK4814s-67       NSMK4814s-68       NSMK4814s-69       NSMK4814s-70

NSMK4814s-13       NSMK4814s-19       NSMK4814s-18       NSMK4814s-56       NSMK4814s-53

NSMK4814s-42        NSMK4814s-39        NSMK4814s-40        NSMK4814s-44

NSMK4814s-66       NSMK4814s-48       NSMK4814s-23       NSMK4814s-58       NSMK4814s-62

Prayers

Immaculata, queen and mother of the Church, I renew my consecration to you this day and for always so that you may use me for the coming of the kingdom of Jesus in the whole world.  To this end I offer you all my prayers, actions, and sacrifices of this day.  Amen.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you and for all those who do not have recourse to you, especially the enemies of holy Church and all those recommended to you.  Amen.

O God, who gave the Church and the world the priest and martyr, St. Maximilian Kolbe, burning with love for the Immaculate Virgin Mary and with apostolic zeal for souls and heroic love of neighbor, graciously grant through his intercession that, striving for your glory by eagerly serving others, we may be conformed even until death to your son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen (Companions of St. Anthony, 2016).

Our Lady of Czestochowa…  Mother of God, immaculate Mary, to you do I dedicate my body and soul, all my prayers and deeds, my joys and sufferings, all that I am, and all that I have.

With a joyful heart I surrender myself to your bondage of love.

To you will I devote my services of my own free will for the salvation of mankind and for the help of the holy Church whose mother you are.

From now on my only desire is to do all things with you, through you, and for you.  I know I can accomplish nothing by my own strength, whereas you can do everything that is the will of your son and you are always victorious.  Grant, therefore, helper of the faithful, that my family, parish, and homeland might become in truth the kingdom where you reign with your son.  Amen.

Quotes from St. Maximilian Kolbe

The most deadly poison of our times is indifference.  And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits.  Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.

Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much.  You can never love her more than Jesus did.

No one in the world can change truth.  What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it.

“Prayer is powerful beyond limits when we turn to the Immaculata who is queen even of God’s heart.”

August 4, 2016

How sweet and full of comfort are the moments spent before the Blessed Sacrament.  Are you in trouble?  Come and throw yourself at his feet
(St. John Vianney).

August 5, 2016

Man has a noble task: that of prayer and love.  To pray and love, that is the happiness of man on earth (St. John Vianney).

August 18, 2016

“The guest of our soul knows our misery; he comes to find an empty tent within us— that is all he asks” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

August 22, 2016

“God placed Mary far above all the angels and saints and so filled her with every heavenly grace from his own divine treasury so that her innocence and holiness exceeded every creature but God himself” (Pope Pius IX).

October 28, 2016

From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things.  From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone (St. John Paul II).

December 15, 2016

I will not allow myself to be so absorbed in the whirlwind of work as to forget about God.  I will spend all my free moments at the feet of the master hidden in the Blessed Sacrament (St. Faustina Kowalska).

December 23, 2016

I hope that your example attracts many souls to the adoration of Jesus Christ who is present on the altar to be of comfort and hope to those who confide in him with faith and love; they look on him as the Emmanuel, God with us, who wished to dwell among us: his heart in our heart (Pope St. John Paul II).

December 26, 2016

Make a visit to the tabernacle.  Much more will follow.  God will make limitless poetry out of the prose of your life, and he will renew the face of the earth, beginning with your little corner (Editors of Servant Books, A Eucharistic Christmas).

April 18, 2017

Suffering gives you the opportunity to grow.  Your trials give you a gift: the opportunity to become the person you always wanted to become.  A holier person.  A more patient person.  A person who endures.  A person who is kinder.  A person who is more merciful (Jeff Cavins in When You Suffer).

August 12, 2017

“The martyrs of love suffer infinitely more in remaining in this life so as to serve God, than if they died a thousand times over in testimony to their faith, their love, and their fidelity” (St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

August 14, 2017

“For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more” (St. Maximilian Kolbe).

I am a Catholic priest from Poland.  I would like to take his place because he has a wife and children (St. Maximilian Kolbe, to the commandant at Auschwitz).

NSMK4814s-1

NSMK4814s-17

Adoration & Mass: Marytown chapel schedule

Links of interest…  Black Madonna shrine & grottos (more)…  Come, pray the rosary (virtual)…  Enter the world of devotion to Mary…  How a radical atheist became a Catholic priest…  Life for life (movie)…  Marytown: about / chapel live streaming (Mass & adoration) / facebook / video…  Mission of the Immaculata (Marian militia turns 100 – Niepokalanów)…  Practice of silence for lay people…  Prayer library…  Spiritual reflections…  St. Maximilian Kolbe: 9 things to know (more) / about (more) / biography (more) / Conventual Franciscan / lessons from / martyr of charity (booklet) / moral heropoor weaver’s son / prayers: consecrationfreedom from addictionnovena / priest & martyrprofile (more) / quotes / relics / saint of Auschwitz / story (anecdote) / timeline / writings (Immaculate Conception – more)…  Tune into silence…  Why the Jasna Góra Shrine is one the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Poland (scars on the image)…

WP posts…  Call of service…  Honoring Joselito  Lady of sorrows…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  May flowers…  Today’s beatitudes…  Twelve candles

Mercy and justice

The Solanus Casey Center was so special that I wanted to capture as much as possible to keep me going until we return to Detroit.  We started at St. Bonaventure Church, walked through the arched doorway to Father Casey’s coffin, and thoroughly delighted in the spacious hallway that waited to be explored.

Our time at the Center was “a pilgrimage, not a tour” (Joseph Taylor); an exultant, transformational experience; a spiritual journey that continues even today.

               

       

           

       

       

Mercy and justice

“Each of the saints on the glass wall is an example of a life dedicated to these twin virtues:” mercy and justice (Solanus Casey Center, n. d.).  Shown below are Clare of Assisi, Katharine Drexel, Elizabeth of Hungary, Francis of Assisi, Joseph the Just, Martin de Porres, Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, respectively.

               

               

               

Displayed on the wall opposite the saint etchings overlooking the tau garden are the Works of Mercy.

The seven corporal works of mercy relate to the material needs of others: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, and burying the dead.

The seven spiritual works of mercy relate to the spiritual needs of others: instructing the ignorant (about Christian practices), counseling the doubtful, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving injuries, bearing wrongs patiently, and praying for the living and the dead.

               

               

               

               

               

Blessing for justice and peace from Troubadour: A Missionary Magazine (Franciscan Missionary Society, Liverpool, UK: Spring 2005)

May God bless you with discomfort… at easy answers, hard hearts, half-truths , and superficial relationships.  May God bless you so that you may live from deep within your heart where God’s Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with anger… at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people.  May God bless you so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears… to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war.  May God bless you so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.  And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, in your neighborhood, so that you will courageously try what you don’t think you can do but in Jesus Christ you’ll have all the strength necessary.

May God bless you to fearlessly speak out about injustice, unjust laws, corrupt politicians, unjust and cruel treatment of prisoners, and senseless wars, genocides, starvations, and poverty that is so pervasive.

May God bless you that you remember we are all called to continue God’s redemptive work of love and healing in God’s place, in and through God’s name, in God’s spirit, continually creating and breathing new life and grace into everything and everyone we touch.

July 29, 2014

Gladden the soul of your servant; to you, Lord, I lift up my soul.  Lord, you are good and forgiving, most merciful to all who call on you (Psalm 86:4-5).

August 16, 2014

“Be merciful to all who are suffering violence, keeping always in your heart the example of the Lord who said, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice'” (St. Stephen of Hungary).

September 16, 2014

Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity.  Let us, on both sides of death, always pray for one another.  Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love that, if one of us by the swiftness of divine condescension shall go, hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord; and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy (St. Cyprian).

December 15, 2014

Think well.  Speak well.  Do well.  These three things, through the mercy of God, will make a man go to heaven (St. Camillus de Lellis).

November 13, 2015

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.  Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves (1 Peter 2:15-16).

December 7, 2015

Mercy is a good thing, for it makes men perfect in that it imitates the perfect Father.  Nothing graces the Christian soul so much as mercy (St. Ambrose).

January 12, 2016

The true efficacy of our works depends upon our interior life, and the true worth of a soul is the worth of its interior life; for a soul’s worth is in direct proportion to the intimacy and intensity of its relations with God.  The interior life is the chief, the most important, and the most efficacious element of the spiritual life.  It is the one thing necessary (Archbishop Luis M. Martinez in Worshipping a Hidden God).

February 8, 2016

We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy.  It is wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace (Pope Francis).

April 26, 2016

“At that day of judgment we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done” (Thomas à Kempis).

May 9, 2016

“Be on such cordial terms with those under you that, when you are all together, it would be impossible to say which is the superior” (St. Vincent de Paul).

June 10, 2016

“The less we have here the more shall we enjoy in God’s kingdom, where the mansion of each is proportioned to the love with which he shall have imitated Jesus Christ”
(St. Teresa of Ávila).

September 7, 2016

God is truly humble.  He comes down and uses instruments as weak and imperfect as we are.  He deigns to work through us… to use you and me for his great work (St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta in The Love that Made Mother Teresa).

October 6, 2016

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are” (Benjamin Franklin).

March 31, 2017

Most High, Glorious God, in our times of suffering, may we follow the example of Jesus; but may we also serve as a source of comfort and consolation to others in their suffering.  May we never let the fear of suffering stand in the way of our calling to love and work for justice.  Amen (Daniel P. Horan, OFM in The Last Words of Jesus).

June 3, 2017

Pray always, but not in order to convince the Lord by dint of words!  He knows our needs better than we do! Indeed persevering prayer is the expression of faith in a God who calls us to fight with him every day and at every moment in order to conquer evil with good (Pope Francis in Angelus, October 2013).

June 26, 2017

To love, we must be able to enact love, and we must be able to do it day in and day out in our work.  It is this love that will guide us away from the carelessness that leads us to the destruction of the world and our neighbors through our everyday, middle-class existence of buying plastics, fertilizing lawns, eating cheap food, and driving to soccer practices.

It is love that will ultimately move us toward being good and therefore doing good.  “In order to be good, you have to know how,” writes Wendell Berry, “and this knowing is vast, complex, humble and humbling; it is of the mind and of the hands, of neither alone.”  It is knowledge that requires a spirit and a body and so brings us necessarily to the question of livelihood (Ragan Sutterfield in Wendell Berry and the Given Life).

SCC42812-69

Links of interest…  After 1967: Detroit Catholics worked to overcome sins of racism…  Beatitudes: Jesus Christ Savior / Matthew 5:1-12 / New Advent / Tripod / Wikipedia / YouTube…  Being merciful…  Call of service: A witness to idealism: book review / preview / servant leadership / spirituality & practice / summary…  Confirmation…  Corporal works of mercy: ideas for your summer bucket list & in the home…  Dorothy Day as seen by her granddaughter / biography / the model you want…  Fifth Beatitude: Mercy…  Focus (blog – pope alarm)…  Gifts & fruits of the Holy Spirit (Bible verses)…  Instrument of peace (song, YouTube)…  Irish priests’ statement calls for free, open discussion of church’s exclusion of women…  Let your works profess your faith…  Live out divine mercy…  Mercy: embraced / gardener’s reflectionjustice / mission / models: Dorothy Day & St. Francis…  Oasis of Mercy: Boston mall chapel relics…  Pope Francis: mercy & justice / “Padre Pio was a servant of mercy“…  Ransoming for Christ: The story of two daring religious orders…  Saintly former slave a model of mercy…  St. Bonaventure’s prayer for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit…  Virtues…  Was Jesus a community organizer…  Why it matters that God is justice & mercy…  Works of Mercy: catechist’s journey / Catholic kids / confirmed in the Spirit / corporal & spiritualdaily Catholic / divine mercy / doing good / faithful scribbler / first papal message for creationfumbling toward grace / fish eaters / link to liturgy / living the liturgical yearLoyola Press / practicing the spiritual / Wikipedia

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Call of service…  Capuchin church stations…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  God’s master plan…  Memory lane…  Promise of hope…  Si quaeris miracula…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Bonaventure Church…  St. Felix…  Today’s Beatitudes

Today’s Beatitudes

Spending time at St. Bonaventure Church and Father Casey’s tomb was truly emotional for me.  I cried so much my eyes were squinty but I laughed and smiled a lot, too.

Then, for two and a half hours Joseph Taylor, our young, charismatic, self-appointed guide, treated Steven and me to an unforgettable “pilgrimage” that concluded with the historic yet familiar depictions of the modern-day Beatitudes at the Solanus Casey Center.

Ask, seek, knock.

For more than three years I’d envisioned myself at Father Casey’s tomb, so imagine the sensory overload once there!

Oh, my gosh!  How special to discover three very powerful words from one of my favorite Bible verses etched on the glass door leading to the Beatitudes!

Ask, and you will receive.  Seek, and you will find.  Knock, and it will be opened to you.  For the one who asks, receives.  The one who seeks, finds.  The one who knocks, enters.  If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to anyone who asks him! (Matthew 7:7-8, 11).

Memories

While resizing photos for this post yesterday, I searched for Beatitudes online and found references to Matthew, chapter five, not only as verses one through ten, but also as one through twelve.

Hmm.  I reached for my Bible to clear up the discrepancy.

Seeing the Beatitudes on the page, my mind went off on a tangent.  Father Pat gave each of us in his high school CCE class a copy of the New Testament, so we became quite familiar with the gospel readings.  But why did the title, the “Sermon on the Mount,” not ring a bell?

The ol’ pea brain suddenly exploded with a plethora of memories that included the women’s ACTS retreat, March 29 through April 1, 2012.

ACTS retreat

After I registered for the retreat, I pestered Steven off and on.  “Is confession required?  Why do I have to go to confession with someone I don’t know?”  I was seriously, rebelliously, thrown aback by the notion of having to confess to someone other than our parish priest.

Steven was so tired of my whining that he finally said, “Look, if you don’t want to do it, don’t.”  Of course, he also added, “Everyone else will do it, but you don’t have to.”

Hmm.  I could read between the lines, but fine.

The retreat was too noisy for me.  I wanted some quiet time alone to rest before our next group activity.  The ice-cold temperature in our dorm the night before had kept me from sleeping, but napping was out of the question.  I’d be wide awake again that night and even more mentally drained the next morning.

I’ll lie down and read the “Sermon on the Mount.” 

Two months prior Father Xaviour had summarized the passage in one of his homilies.  “For all the answers to all your questions just look to the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in Matthew, chapter five, especially if you want to make a good confession,” he’d told us.

I’d been clueless— a tabula rasa— on hearing the title, so I’d vowed to read and find out what I’d missed.

Opening my Bible to Matthew 5:1-12, I smiled.  There in all their glory were the Beatitudes, cherished nuggets, heralding chapters five, six, and seven, the familiar teachings of Jesus.

But the title…  How could my eyes have glossed over the title all these years?

The team leaders began rounding up the group.  Still immersed in my thoughts, I closed my Bible and walked to our meeting place.  I felt refreshed and energized… until the unexpected happened.

Oh, my gosh!  Confession time!  Why?  How do I get out of it? 

I was angry.  I was upset.  I didn’t know what to do.  Finally, I got up to look for one of the team leaders I knew.  Quietly, I spoke into her ear, “If I’d known I had to do this, I wouldn’t have come.”

“It’s okay.  You don’t have to do it.  Just go sit down.  It’s all right,” she reassured me.

It’s all right. 

The words registered as a text tail on an electronic marquee.

My friend’s soft voice was so soothing that, without giving confession a second thought, I walked over to sit beside the woman who was next in line.  I was cool, calm, and collected as I waited.  Then, when my turn came, I simply walked into the makeshift confessional.  I was so filled with gratitude that I didn’t even worry about what to say.

During our talk the SOLT priest and I had an amazing dialogue.  We even gifted each other with heartfelt epiphanies.

“Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!” I exclaimed afterwards.

As I exited the confessional I felt empowered.  Wholly exhilarated and light on my feet, I also had an open invitation to Our Lady of Corpus Christi for Mass and confession anytime at all.

Afterthoughts

For some time God had been whispering…  Ask.  Seek.  Knock.  Yet, my refusal to let go had kept me from opening the door.

Why I’d made a mountain out of a mole hill I have no idea, but God never gave up.  He used a familiar voice to whisper his message: It’s all right. 

Then, having been liberated from my misguided notions, I entered and received God’s healing grace.

One-two-three punch

Still, I have to wonder about God’s sense of humor in regard to his lovely favors.  Even when we internalize the message, God checks for understanding.  Through subtle hints or hard konks on the head he seems to say, “I still remember.  Do you?

Take yesterday, for instance.  We arrived a bit early for the All Saints vigil; so Steven and I sat with our dear friends, Carmen and Carlos.  We conversed as quietly as we could about Father Casey and the Solanus Center before Father Xaviour rang the bell for us to rise for the start of Mass.

Imagine my delight when Father’s gospel reading was the “Sermon on the Mount!”

I smiled for the remainder of Mass, then talked nonstop on our drive home about the timeliness of my blog post.

Today’s Beatitudes

To God everything’s a teachable moment, impeccably delicious, perfectly timed.  The Beatitudes are not only part of the “Sermon on the Mount,” but also a universal lesson and, certainly, a memorable anecdote in my book of life.

Moreover, the Beatitudes at the Solanus Casey Center are true-life depictions of eight extraordinary individuals celebrated for all time: Dorothy Day (Poor in spirit; 1897-1980); Jean Donovan (Mourn; 1953-1980); Takashi Nagai (Non-violent; 1908-1951); Clement Kern (Justice; 1907-1983); Teresa of Calcutta (Merciful; 1910-1997); Catherine de Hueck Doherty (Pure of heart; 1896-1985); Martin Luther King, Jr. (Peacemakers; 1929-1968); and Oscar Romero (Suffer persecution; 1917-1980), respectively.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12)

When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.  He began to teach them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.  Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Steps to sainthood

“When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory,” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153).

               

               

October 10, 2013

Father, give me more of your spirit so that I will keep asking, seeking, and knocking for your kingdom.  As I do, give me a revelation of who Jesus is and how much he loves all of us (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 30).

March 30, 2014

“Don’t forget that the saint is not the person who never falls but, rather, the one who never fails to get up again, humbly and with a holy stubbornness” (St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer).

May 7, 2014

“You will become a saint by complying exactly with your daily duties” (St. Mary Joseph Rosello).

August 10, 2014

“It is indeed more through suffering and persecution than through eloquent preaching, that God wills to establish his kingdom in souls” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

November 15, 2014

“The greater and more persistent your confidence in God, the more abundantly you will receive all that you ask” (St. Albert the Great).

March 17, 2015

The saint does not view sacrifice as an executioner with a sword who will take away his life, but as a yoke that is sweet and a burden that is light.  The devout do not hate life because life hates them or because they have drunk of its dregs and found them bitter, but because they love God more; and, in loving God more, they dislike anything that would tear him away (Venerable Fulton J. Sheen).

March 25, 2015

Overmuch sorrow makes the door of the confessional heavy to open, for fear that a voice inside will be as hard and cold as the shrill modern sirens that led so many to physical and moral death.  But when the door is opened, there is “joy in the presence of the angels of God” (Fr. George W. Rutler, 2015).

March 27, 2015

All hope consists in confession.  In confession there is a chance for mercy.  Believe it firmly.  Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God.  Hope and have confidence in confession (St. Isidore of Seville).

Remember, every saint had a past and every sinner has a future” (Fr. Robert Barron).

May 4, 2015

Sin is a blazing fire.  The less fuel you give it, the faster it dies down; the more you feed it, the more it burns” (St. Mark the Ascetic).

May 5, 2015

Do you really want to be a saint?  Carry out the little duty of each moment: do what you ought and concentrate on what you are doing (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

December 10, 2015

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” (C. S. Lewis).

December 11, 2015

Whatever mission God gives us, no matter how common it may appear, carries within it our potential sainthood.  What God asks of us during our lifetime is the most appropriate and suitable means to our growth in holiness— whether our lives remain ordinary or take an extraordinary turn (Julie Onderko, Discover Your Next Mission From God).

January 14, 2016

You must be willing, for the love of God, to suffer all things, namely labors and sorrows, temptations and vexations, anxieties, necessities, sickness, injuries, detractions, reprehensions, humiliations, confusion, correction, and contempt.  These things help to obtain virtue; these try a novice of Christ; these procure a heavenly crown (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ Challoner).

May 6, 2016

You don’t need to wallow in guilt.  Wallow in the mercy of God.  When you are guilty, say so to God through a confessor.  Acknowledge your problems and sins.  The moment you have stated them, God puts his hand over you and you are a newborn babe (St. John Marie Vianney).

July 13, 2016

“The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better” (Pope Francis).

August 9, 2016

Remember that, each time you pick yourself up after a fall, the feast of the prodigal son is renewed.  Your Father in heaven clothes you again in his most beautiful cloak, puts a ring on your finger, and tells you to dance with joy.  In a living faith you will not approach the confessional with dragging feet, but as if you were going to a feast (Fr. Jean C.J. d’Elbée, I Believe in Love).

August 30, 2016

“In our joys, in our troubles, in the contempt that others show us, we must always say ‘thank you, my God’ or ‘glory to God’” (St. Jeanne Jugan).

March 1, 2017

Don’t worry if it’s been a while since you’ve gone to confession— God is waiting to meet you there.  Don’t settle for ashes alone when you can receive absolution and a fresh start! (St. Teresa of Calcutta in Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta).

SCC4914s-7

SCC4914s-6

Links of interest…  Beatitudes: according to MatthewBible / for kids / fostering love in the home / Jesus Christ Savior / man of the eight beatitudes (Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati) / New Advent / on film: love lifts us up / Tripod / way of life / Wikipedia / YouTube…  Call of service: A witness to idealism: book review / preview / servant leadership / spirituality & practice / summary…  Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph: ministries / weekly re:cap…  Catherine de Hueck Doherty: about (more) / book / foundress / poem / poustinia: desert (book) / servant of God (videos) / sobornost: unity (video) / spirituality…  Church of the Beatitudes (Josemaría Escrivá – Opus Dei)…  Clement Kern: Conscience of Detroit (more) / “labor priest” / papers (more – photo) / priest & pastor (more) / statue…  Confession: combating pride / easier than stepping on the scale / God’s healing mercy / light’s on for you / sacrament…  Dorothy Day: about / & Mother Teresa & the 5-finger gospel / saint for our time – like you & me / worker movement (model for the church)…  Franciscan saints calendar…  Jean Donovan: about (more) / life & example / martyrdom (more) / movie…  Learn to heal painful memories…  Martin Luther King, Jr: about / center / civil rights movement / life in photos / peace prize / quotes…  Oscar Romero: about / biography / last sermon (1980) / literature / martyr / peace hero (outspoken) / prayer / quote (homily) / saint effort “unblocked” (long tangled path) / seven sermons (Lent) / step along the way (prayer)…  Rosa Parks…  Sainthood: declaring someone a saint / ever wonder how a saint is made / odds on becoming a saintpatron saint list (more – more) / promoting / what is (more)  / who is a saint / why we love the saints / why miracles should remain a requirement for canonization…  Scripture speaks: Can we be perfect / Christ’s assurance…  Sermon on the Mount…  Solanus Casey Center: Beatitude people  (videos) / home / shrine / virtual tour…  St. Augustine’s commentary on the Sermon on the Mount…  St. Francis de Sales’ guide to reconciliation…  Takashi Nagai: about / all that remains (blog) / books / conversion & love / familylessons / Nagasaki: memorial museum / no more / song (book)…  Teresa of Calcutta: about (more) / biography (more) / center / peace prize / road to sainthood (more) / saint of light, saint of darkness…  Tips on how to confess well…  Vatican doctors approve the miracle to make Wojtyla a saint…  the Word among us…  Yelling in the confessional? Yes, that was me

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Call of service…  Capuchin church stations…  God’s master plan…  Holy relics…  Honoring Joselito (St. José Luis Sánchez del Río)…  Mercy and justice…  Quiet prayer time…  Si quaeris miracula…  Solano, Solanus, Solani (Venerable Father Casey)…  St. Bonaventure Church…  St. Felix…  Then and now…  Venerable Julia Navarrete (of the thorns of the Sacred Heart)…  Venerable Margaret (of the Blessed Sacrament)

Like this:

Like Loading…

Forever grateful

One of my all-time wishes came true this year.  On April 29, Steven took me to the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago; and I made three discoveries: The shrine is actually part of St. Pius V, the church altar changed since I was last there, and St. Jude’s first-class relic is on display.

First visit

I’d never been to Chicago until Christmas break from school, 2003.

The second of our two granddaughters had been dismissed from the hospital just hours before my arrival.  Kylie was so small compared to her older sister at that age that her tiny fingers reminded me of a doll’s hands.  Yet she was alert, observant, communicative in her own quiet way, and beautiful.  Riding in her car seat beside me she focused on me as if she’d known me from birth, October 29, 2003; but we were seeing each other for the very first time.

Acacia-Darling was nine-and-a-half, so I hadn’t been around a little one in some time.  I’d forgotten how resilient babies are, that one can change their diapers without breaking them and that they’re up at all hours of the night just because.  Yet I managed to care for Kylie at night and spent a lot of time being grateful for the opportunity to hold this very special promise of hope for the future.

Then, two nights before my departure to Texas, Kylie wailed so inconsolably for such a long time that she was taken to the hospital again.

I felt terrible when her parents returned home without her in the morning.  Concerned that I wouldn’t be there to take care of her at the hospital, I felt compelled to do something.

“Take me to the nearest church, preferably one dedicated to St. Jude,” I told Kylie’s parents.  I’d attended Mass at two different churches in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago; but I wanted one where I’d feel super close to St. Jude.  I’d never been in Chicago before, but I suddenly remembered the shrine.  “Take me to the St. Jude shrine,”
I insisted, even though none of us knew where it was.

Oh, what a place!

I knew I was home when I saw the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague.  I walked around and dialogued with God.  I knew everything would be all right with Kylie, that we’d get good news when we got back to the hospital.

As things turned out, Kylie spent another two weeks at the hospital.  Quite an agonizing time for me, being that I couldn’t be there to sing, tell her stories, or try to distract her from the constant pain.  To make matters worse, she was hospitalized a third time, although, thankfully, for just one week.  But she’s fine now, this precious, resilient child with the strong, operatic voice and the golden brown, flyaway macaroni hair.

Which shrine?

After my visit to Chicago I continued to receive separate mailings from both the National Shrine of St. Jude and the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, but I never made the distinction between the two.  I never stopped to wonder which of the two shrines I’d visited.  All that mattered was that I’d prayed at the shrine and St. Jude had worked his wonders on Kylie’s behalf, the same as always for my kids.

However, on October 24, 2009, the reality of the two St. Jude shrines came to light when I posted Kylie’s story on my blog.  I wanted to include the link to the shrine’s website so that interested others could access the site but—  Uh-oh.  Which of the two shrines did I visit?  How could I have missed the name of the church?  How could I have been so oblivious all those years?

I wondered if I’d taken photos that I could compare to those posted online.  I vaguely recalled taking a few but found none.  Maybe I’d imagined doing that?  Still, I was sure of one thing: I’d seen the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague in the back of the church that morning.

After problem solving for a while, I emailed the Dominicans.  Then, after waiting a few days, I contacted the Claretians at the national shrine.

Friday, November 27, 2009 11:11 AM

Hello!

I’d like to know, please, which of the two Chicago shrines to St. Jude has an encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague?

Thanks sooo much!

Mystery solved

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 9:21 AM

Dear Deli,

Thank you for your email, [as] the Claretians are always grateful to hear from you who share our devotion to St. Jude.

The encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague is not at the National Shrine of St. Jude.

None of the St. Jude Shrines in the United States are affiliated with each other.  The National Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago, Illinois, founded by the Claretians, is the only St. Jude Shrine with the title “National Shrine” since it is the original or “Mother” Shrine of devotion to St. Jude in the United States.

I encourage you to visit the National Shrine of St. Jude website again soon.  Please know that the Claretians pray with and for you each day.  May God bless you.

Father Mark Brummel, C.M.F.
Director, St. Jude League

I was so excited that I told Steven, “I don’t know when or how, but one of these days I’m going back to the Dominican shrine.  I want to sit and visit for a while and take lots of photos.  I want to see the Infant again.”

Sneak peek

On November 16, 2011, I had my wish.  Well, sort of.

In my search for photos of St. Thérèse, I found a double-bagged stash of two dozen photo packets hidden in one of the closets.  Among them?  The photos from our morning visit to the shrine, January 5, 2004.

How I longed to be there!

           

           

Second visit

Almost eight-and-a-half years passed between visits to Chicago, but what a glorious experience at St. Pius V the second time around!

Nine-fifteen Spanish Mass was extraordinary!  The singing was uplifting!  The babies offered up to God, literally, along with the gifts at the altar had us near tears!  And, oh, the devotions!

To get a better view of everything, especially the shrines of the Holy Infant, St. Jude, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, respectively, we sat along the back left center aisle, which is how I noticed something puzzling.

My big surprise

During Mass the practice of approaching St. Jude’s shrine and praying for a few moments before stepping up onto the alcove intrigued me even though no one else seemed to notice.  What were these folks doing standing to the right of the altar?  Why was it so important that it couldn’t wait until after Mass?

These individuals pressed their hands up to something as they stood heads bowed, lost in thought.  Why?  What was so special about that wall?

I turned to Steven and whispered, “I keep seeing people go up to touch the shrine’s right wall.  I have to know what’s there!  While I take photos of the church after Mass, please check it out and tell me.”

Well, surprise, surprise.

My first time at the church I’d missed one of the very best parts: the first-class relic at the shrine.  The remains of St. Jude’s arm!  Oh, my gosh!  Had it not been for St. Jude’s faithful during Mass I would’ve missed seeing the relic for the second time, and I never would’ve known any better.  Wow!

At that moment I thought of Kylie…  My first time at St. Pius V, I walked around the church as I prayed to God and all his angels and saints.  I stood, tears in check, before St. Jude— my daughter and her husband, nonbelievers, watching my every move, hurrying me wordlessly.  I never saw the sign at the altar with the arrow pointing to the arm relic of St. Jude Thaddeus on the right.

I’d been so desperate for Kylie’s miracle that just being near St. Jude had been good enough.  But I’d also found comfort in seeing the Holy Infant, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Anthony, St. Thérèse, St. Anne, and San Martin de Porres.

           

               

               

Forever grateful

Until our second visit to the shrine I’d never realized that I’ve had my very own, very personal connections to St. Pius V through St. Jude because of the kids and grandkids.

Kylie’s story transcends time, place, and emotion.  Just remembering makes my eyes water and, before long, rivers stream down my face.  What parent wants a child to hurt?  I would gladly have traded places with Kylie, but all I could do was pray— and walk in faith— that her suffering would be short-lived and that she’d never have to endure such misery again.

Acacia-Darling, now eighteen, has a green candle lit among the many at the massive round table before St Jude.

Enjoy God’s infinite blessings!  Love, hope, & faith… Lon

Yet our children are estranged from us, so we keep them close in thought and prayer.  One day things may change.  But, until then, the St. Jude shrine at St. Pius V keeps our hope for better days vibrantly alive.

We have so much to be grateful for!  Our family.  Our friends.  Folks we meet here and there.  Our faith.  Building community within God’s kingdom is what life is all about.

We give thanks and praise to God for all our comings and goings, and we’re forever grateful to St. Jude for all his intercessions.

StPV42912-1b      StPV42912-2b      StPV42912-3b

StPV42912-809    StPV42912-4b   StPV42912-5b    StPV42912-808

      

       

               

       

       

               

               

           

        

               

         

Plaque at the shrine

Relic of St. Jude Thaddeus…  Apostle and martyr, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, patron of hopeless causes

This holy relic is that of an arm of the great St. Jude.  Many spiritual blessings and graces have been granted to those who have prayed asking St. Jude to intercede on their behalf to our blessed Lord for spiritual or physical healing.

“Where there is prayer, there is hope.”  St. Jude, pray for us.

History of the relic…  After his martyrdom, the body of St. Jude was buried temporarily in Mesopotamia and then given a permanent interment in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the other apostles.  His forearm was encased in a silver reliquary and located for many centuries in Armenia.  At the beginning of the 18th century, Armenian Dominican missionaries left Armenia because of the Moslem persecution and brought the relic to Smyrna, Turkey.

The relic was then given to the Provincial of the St. Peter Martyr Province of Turin, Italy.  In 1949, it was presented to the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great for its Dominican Shrine of St. Pius V where the devotion of St. Jude was flourishing, particularly since the time of the Great Depression.

This plaque has been given as a personal testimony from a patron of
St. Jude whose family has received marvelous healing through this relic.

Prayers

For peace…  Dear St. Jude, we honor you as an apostle of Christ, a herald of the prince of peace.  You remained faithful to your calling and died a martyr before being reunited with Christ in glory.

Please look down with compassion upon our turbulent world.  Intercede before the throne of grace that the present global turmoil may give way to peace and harmony among all nations.

May we live at peace with one another and serve the Lord Jesus as messengers of his peace as you did.  Amen.

St. Jude, disciple of Jesus, pray for us.  May we become the persons our savior wants us to be.

St. Jude, reigning with Christ in glory, pray for us.  May we bring forth fruit to life everlasting.

St. Jude, advocate of hopeless cases, pray for us.  Remind us that we can conquer evil through Christ who loves us.

For tomorrow…  St. Jude, you are with me in all that is new.  May your path of hope be mine in the days ahead.

I promise in faith to share your hope with others, to forgive as I am forgiven by my Father in heaven, and to show sympathy and kindness at every opportunity.

Guide me, St. Jude, so that I will begin each new day with gratitude on my lips, with truth on my mind, and with hope in my heart.

Challenge me, St. Jude, so that I will end each day reflecting on my actions and motivations so that I will grow in faith, love, and hope.  Amen.

Hopeless cases…  Most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of hopeless cases….  Pray for me; I am so helpless and alone.  Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of.

Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly… and that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.

I promise, O blessed Saint Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to honor you always as my special and powerful patron and, gratefully, to encourage devotion to you.  Amen.

SPV61513-96Impossible cases…  Glorious Saint Jude, with faith in your goodness we ask your help today.  As one of Christ’s chosen apostles, you remain a pillar and foundation of his church on earth.  You are counted, we know, among the elders who always stand before God’s throne.

From your place of glory we know that you do not forget the needs and difficulties of Christ’s little ones here, still struggling, like me on the way home to God.  In particular, I invoke your help with this great problem….  Please intercede for us, gracious Saint Jude, and be with us in our daily toil and in all our necessities.  Amen.

Sharing Christ with others…  St. Jude, apostle and preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ, we thank God for choosing you for this glorious mission.  You saw Jesus face to face, walked and talked with him, and served him without counting the cost.

Pray for us, blessed preacher of the good news that makes even bad news bearable.  May Christ be the center of our lives.  May we welcome every opportunity to share him with others.  This we ask through your powerful intercession.  Amen.

Contact information

St. Jude prayers one and five are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.  Prayer two is from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, P.O. Box 8095, Chicago, IL 60608-0095.  Prayers three and four are from Favorite Patron Saints (The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., pp. 20-21).

July 23, 2013

Lord Jesus, thank you for reaching out your hand to me.  I offer my hands to you.  Use them to reach out to my spiritual family (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 42).

November 16, 2013

Father, in your great kindness you have made me your child.  You know the desires of my heart, and you know what’s best for me and for those I love.  Hear my prayer.  Show me what I can do to bring your kingdom into clearer focus in this situation (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 37).

December 17, 2013

Father, I am amazed that you have called me into your family.  I trust that you have a gracious plan for my life and my family, even if I can’t see it right now.  Lord, I trust in you! (the Word among us, Advent 2013, p. 35).

March 7, 2014

“Stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you” (St. Perpetua).

June 11, 2014

“If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes” (St. Clement of Alexandria).

August 17, 2015

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

November 2, 2015

“The saints assure us that turning to the Lord in our sorrows and placing our hopes in him can give us strength here and now and help prepare us for a future of new life and joy” (Fr. Joseph Esper in More Saintly Solutions).

January 7, 2016

“May the God of love and peace set your heart at rest” (St. Raymond of Peñafort).

August 10, 2016

“Those are patient who would rather bear evils without inflicting them, than inflict them without bearing them” (St. Augustine).

November 26, 2016

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins” (Neale Donald).

March 14, 2017

My hope is not that things will go as I planned, but that the Lord will make himself known, in the faces of my loved ones, in the unexpected joys of family life that pop up right in the middle of our messy chaos, in the ways he provides for me and shows me his tender care in the most detailed ways (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).

May 7, 2017

There is no closer bond than the one which gratefulness celebrates, the bond between giver and thanksgiver.  Everything is a gift.  Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless “yes” to belonging (Brother David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

October 17, 2017

“The loneliness that comes from being hated is one thing, but the loneliness that comes from being misunderstood and dismissed is worse” (Anna O’Neil).

Links of interest…  Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus…  How to pray for your adult children…  Lessons from the reform papacy of St. Pius V (more)…  Love gives suffering reason & purpose…  Pope to Dominicans: Your good works give glory to God…  Praying while waiting…  Sacred Chicago…  St. Jude: chaplet (printable; photo) / novenas (in Spanish, too) / prayers…  St. Pius V: church / directory / parish / shrine

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Connected tangents…  Finding St. Rita…  Holy Cross Church…  Lady of Sorrows…  October novena…  One prayer…  Prayer power…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena (Dominican)…  St. Jude Shrine (Claretian)…  St. Jude Shrine (Corpus Christi, TX)…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelfth

Father’s guided tour

SATX-84

After lunch, Steven drove us around San Antonio.  Since Father Sheehan has a sweet tooth and I wanted some ice cream, we finally found a Dairy Queen before returning to the Oblate Madonna Residence on Blanco Road.

The afternoon had turned frigid, and Steven was the only one with a warm jacket; but that didn’t keep Father from asking, “Would you like a tour of the place?”

“Like, oh, my gosh!  Do you even need to ask?!” I squealed.  “Yes!  Please!

And off we went.

Advent scene

             

             

Lourdes grotto

             

            

           

Tepeyac shrine

               

               

               

                

               

Cavalry of Christ

               

Oblate grounds

                

               

                

               

Oblate grotto in San Antonio

OMT5116-2a     OMT5116-2b     OMT5116-2c     OMT5116-2d     OMT5116-2e     OMT5116-2f

OMT511-1a      OMT5116-1b      SA11313-93      OLLGT11313-1a      OLLGT11313-1b

Contact information

Both the Tepeyac pamphlet and the grotto schedule cards are from Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, 5712 Blanco Road, Building 42, San Antonio, TX 78216.

Links of interest…  Lourdes (France): about / miracles & cures / petitions…  Lourdes Grotto & Guadalupe Tepeyac (SATX): anniversary / directions / facebook / mission / photos…  Guadalupe Tepeyac: basilica / brochure / movie (YouTube) / play (video) / story…  Our Lady of Lourdes: grotto / Massabielle / Ohio / Rio Grande City: history / photos / national shrine / pilgrimage site

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Connected tangents…  Faces of Mary…  Father now retired…  Gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Memory lane…  Our Lady…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  San Juan Diego…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

Revisiting St. Simon

MPBC52010-139

Six days passed between my first and second visits to the St. Jude Shrine on Saratoga, but I wanted to replace the somewhat blurry photo of St. Simon’s stained-glass window with a better one.

Steven had already agreed to have us attend Mass at Most Precious Blood Church one day soon, but I didn’t want to wait to revisit the shrine.  I knew where the church was, so I chose to drive there before my two o’clock doctor’s appointment.

Another photo-op

On the way to the shrine, I wondered about St. Simon.  

What do I really know about him?  Except for hearing his name here and there during the gospel readings at Mass, not much.  I guess this means he wants me to find out more.

Unexpected outcomes

Once home, I was disappointed yet again.  St. Simon’s photo was dark.  The vibrant colors that showed on the camera monitor at the shrine hadn’t been captured.

I took my time snapping photos with and without the flash to get better ones the second time around, so how could this have happened?

Reflecting on my second visit to Most Precious Blood Church and the St. Jude Shrine, I quickly realized that St. Simon had drawn me there not to take his photo, but to give me a totally different experience altogether.

Visiting the shrine that day, my wish from the week before had come true: I’d been able to see and photograph the interior of the church.

More importantly, I’d received a very special gift from someone who hadn’t expected to be at the shrine that day.

             

What happened

As I was taking the last of my photos at the shrine that afternoon, a man walked in and set down his bag of tools on one of the pews.

“Good morning,” I said, quietly acknowledging his unexpected presence.

“Good morning.  I guess I’m the acting handyman today,” he chuckled more to himself than to me, as if surprised to be there.

I was so excited to have found the shrine that I couldn’t hold back. 

“I was here last week, but when I got home and edited the photos for my blog post, I was disappointed to find a blurry photo of St. Simon.   So this is why I’m here today.”

“Have you seen our church?” the man asked without knowing that I’d wished just that since my first visit there.

“No,” I said, well aware that the church was closed during the day.  “It was locked the last time I was here, so I told my husband that we’ll need to come back for Sunday Mass.”

The man’s face lit up.  “I’ve got the keys.  Come on!  I’ll open the church for you to spend as much time there as you want and take as many pictures as you like.”

Wish come true

We walked from the shrine’s foyer onto a partly enclosed corridor for him to unlock the door through which I’d taken a photo of the church foyer the week before.

“Oh, my gosh!” I kept saying, my eyeballs bugged out.

The man tried to contain his amusement.  “Just let me know when you’re done, so I can lock up again,” he smiled, turning on the lights before leaving to make repairs.

What an absolutely glorious place!  I longed to have Steven there, so he could ooh and ahh along with me.  

I was thrilled to the moon to be allowed such a gift of time and space, but I was especially grateful to have been at the shrine at the perfect time.  I mean, think about it.  I could’ve gone to the doctor’s first and missed this golden opportunity to explore the church all on my own that afternoon.  It was truly a blessing to be privy to such a treasure trove! 

The lens on my Coolpix had gotten jammed on our way home from Nacogdoches, so I was using Steven’s big camera.  I took lots of photos to give myself more choice just in case I flubbed some.

Then, before I knew it, the man returned.

I was photographing the angels in back of the church, so we talked as I snapped here and there. 

“Just a moment, please,” I kept saying.  “I need to take some in the foyer.” 

He wasn’t simplifying things either ’cause he kept pointing to different things for me to see and, of course, photograph.

Finally, I made myself stop ’cause the A/C was off, and I desperately needed fresh air. 

Unexpected gift

“We haven’t introduced ourselves,” I said, as we stood by the side door we’d first entered.  “I’m Deli from St. Joseph’s in Port Aransas.”

“I’m David Castillo, one of the very busy parishioners here at Most Precious Blood Church,” he twinkled. 

We stepped out onto the covered corridor, continued talking as he locked the door, and walked toward the office on the far right. 

David reached into his left pocket for something.  “Here,” he extended his closed hand.  “I don’t give them to just anyone.  I give them to folks whom I sense have a need, a problem.”  He looked at me, as if trying to understand why he felt compelled to give me this object.  “Or something.  I want you to have this.” 

David’s face was radiant as he gently pressed something into my outstretched right hand.  “I’ve carried it around for a long time.  It’s the last one I have, but I want for you to have it now.  There’s a second part that goes with it,” he said before retracting his hand for me to see what the treasure was.  “But I have it in my truck,” he added, gesturing to the parking lot across the way.  “So could you please give me a few minutes while I step into the office to return the church keys?”

“Sure,” I said, feasting my eyes on the very smooth, brown, almost black, stone cross I’d just received.

David stepped out of the office on the corner about ten feet from where we’d stood and began walking away. 

“My truck is over here.”

“I’ll walk with you,” I said, hurrying a bit to catch up.

David chattered away as he placed his tools on the bed of the truck, unlocked the cab, and retrieved what he wanted to give me.

stone-cross-3stone-cross-2My friend started making these crosses… um… about a year ago.  To the day!”  David chuckled somewhat surprised to recall that tidbit.  “He usually gives me a bunch of them with the cards, so I can give them out.  And then he gives me more when I run out.  I’ve had this one a long time, but now it’s yours.”

Building community

We talked for a very long time in the hot sun; but, every time I’d almost thoroughly wilted, we’d get a really nice, refreshing breeze that would start us up again.  David told me that he’d had no intention of fixing the two kneelers that day; but, having had second thoughts, he’d shown up anyway.  We agreed that our meeting had been part of God’s master plan. 

I chuckled inwardly at St. Simon’s part, wondering what else he had in store for me. 

We also talked about the beautiful angel on the school grounds.  David told me an eagle scout had just completed the project the week before. 

Aha! I thought.  Just in time for me to capture it with my camera lens the day after!  I love angels!

Then, almost as if he knew somehow, David asked, “What time is it?”  And, noticing I wasn’t wearing a watch, answered himself.  “It’s two o’clock.”

“Yes.  I have a two o’clock appointment,” I said.  “I need to go.”  His was at four-thirty, so he had plenty of traveling time; but he cautioned me about getting back onto Saratoga.

“Traffic around here can be very dangerous around this time of day, so be very careful.”  David made a couple of suggestions on getting back onto the road.  “Just be patient, and you’ll be all right,” he repeated a few times. 

Did he know something I didn’t?

We shook hands for the third time, agreed that it’s a great idea to build community by attending Mass at churches other than our own, and wished each other well.

And, sure enough.  Just as David had predicted, traffic was heavy.

I was careful and took my time, but I knew everything would be just fine.

I also knew I’d revisit St. Simon at the shrine one day soon.

Last but not least

St. Simon was eleventh among the twelve apostles called, yet little is known about him.

Simon was one of the two whom Jesus sent ahead of him into a village to untie and bring the ass and the colt that the Messiah might enter Jerusalem as the prophets had foretold.  This unknown apostle never stood out from the rest, was neither prominent nor distinguished.  He was always in the group, together with the others, almost without a personality, only an apostle, only one of the twelve.  Just this remaining quiet, obscure, unknown has become a mark of his character.

Simon, the unknown apostle, is the patron of the countless Christians who go through life without fame, without a name.  He is the patron of the army of unknown workers in the vineyard of the Lord who toil in the last places for the kingdom of God.  He is the patron of the unknown soldiers of Christ who struggle on the disregarded and thankless fronts.  No one notices, no one praises, no one rewards these obscure and often misunderstood apostles… no one except the Father, who sees through all obscurity, who understands all misjudgments (Ferris, n. d.).

June 14, 2010

The third time was the charm!  I finally captured the vibrant colors in St. Simon’s stained-glass window.

September 28, 2010

On reading the Dominican shrine’s page on St. Jude this morning, I learned that he and St. Simon were martyred together, which explains their shared feast day, October 28th.

February 10, 2013

“Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men'” (Luke 5:10).

October 28, 2014

“May both Simon the CananSrMA12512-9aaean and Jude Thaddeus help us… to live the Christian faith without tiring, knowing how to bear a strong and, at the same time, peaceful witness to it” (Pope Benedict XVI).

June 29, 2016

We celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles’ blood.  Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith (St. Augustine).

MPBC52010-3

MPBC52010-4

Links of interest…  Apostles: sending out / who is one…  “Comfort cross,” crucifix, & Christ’s five wounds…  Most Precious Blood Church: facebook / website…  St. Simon & St. Jude: apostles (more) / biography (about) / cathedral / feast (more) / martyrs (more) / prayer / praying to St. Jude (more) / sketches (more)…

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Connected tangents…  Disquieting moments…  Finding St. Rita…  Forever grateful…  Growing pains…  Kindred acorns…  Making meaning…  October novena…  One prayer…  Prayer power…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena…  St. Jude Shrine (Chicago)…  St. Jude Shrine (Corpus Christi, TX)