Serendipity

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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— too far from home to just drop by one afternoon— so I did the next best thing: clicked on the link to its website.

Way better than Calgon, technology can take us there quicker than one can say, “Take me awaaay!” 

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!

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Letter to Fr. Long Phan

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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.

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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.

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Links of interest…   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 / 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

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

Merry Christmas

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

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Afterthoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feliz Navidad!

Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

December 27, 2016

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

December 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

Heartfelt traditions

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Mid-afternoon Saturday, Steven asked, “So where would you like to go for Mass?”

My response was quick.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) beckoned, so we arrived early enough for me to photograph the altar.

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How delightful to see a priest conversing with a woman outside the south church entrance as we drove up.

“Are we going in that way?” I asked, motioning toward the priest donned in purple.

“No, let’s go this way.  It’s closer,” Steven said, already making his way across the parking lot.

Opening the door, we were totally taken aback.  Father Darryl was waiting for us!

How did he do that? we wondered, eyeballing each other with stifled amusement and disbelief.  Who is this man that he can be there and here so effortlessly?

“I remember you,” Father Darryl said, extending his hand to shake Steven’s.  “I haven’t seen you since the men’s ACTS retreat.”  Then he asked us to carry the Advent candle in the opening procession.  “Will you do it?”

Steven and I, still grinning from dumbfoundedness, didn’t respond quickly enough.

“It’s not difficult,” Father Darryl insisted, telling us what was expected.

“Sure!” I smiled.

But how did he know we’d say yes?  And what else did God have in mind?

Heartfelt traditions

Wholly immersed in the ritual before Mass, I observed every little movement through perfectly timed photographs that only my third eye, sans Coolpix, could capture.

From the confident, knowing hands that filled the incense cup in the wreath’s center to the graceful, attentive hands that received the candle, every moment was recorded mind, heart, and soul.  In the swirling incense permeating the air, I instinctively affirmed as heartfelt traditions renewed Father’s prayers, the altar server’s lighting of the candle, and all blessings bestowed not just for the Advent season, but for our continued faith journey as a married couple, too.

Happy anniversary, darling!

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Prayers from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

God of a thousand years and the blink of a millisecond, grant me the willingness to cast aside the demands of this world, now in the days of these weeks before Christmas, that my heart may be humbled to receive more fully the gift of the Christ-child and my life enlarged to await more hopefully the return of my Savior and Judge.  Amen (Rev. Dr. Cathy Brall).

Almighty God, it is truly good to spend time in your house praising your name.  We give you thanks that you do not stand far off, but that you enter into our suffering.  Teach us to be advocates for peace in this restless world, in Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen (K. J. Norris).

Precious Lord, it is with great humility that we turn our attention from the demands of this season to focus on you.  We need you, we trust you, we hope in you.  Let your steadfast love be upon us.  It is in your most holy name that we pray these words.  You, the alpha and the omega, from ages unto ages.  Amen (Dr. Michelle Keane Domeisen).

Come, holy savior, Jesus Christ, God with us.  How we need you!  If our night is dark, shine all the more with the radiance of your light.  Amen
(Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner).

Lord God, the well waters of poverty are rising around us while a select few sit on the perimeters with full water buckets in their hands, poised to add to the misery of others.  Grant relief to the suffering and the hearts of those inflicting pain.  Remind us all of why it was that you came.  Amen
(Rev. Dr. John Welch).

O God, you “are enthroned forever, and your name endures to all generations.”  But our days are “like an evening shadow.”  Therefore, we lay before you our every weakness— the brevity of our lives are but signs of our failure to live as your people.  We trust ourselves to you, O God; and we pray that, by your grace, we might live securely in your presence now and forevermore.  Amen (Psalm 102:12, 11; Rev. Dr. Jerome F. D. Creach).

Lord, we thank you for the wonder of this season.  We thank you that you are our refuge and strength, and we ask you to help us follow you even when it is difficult.  Amen (Rev. Derek Davenport).

Sunday reflections from the OLPH bulletins

olph112616-141st: Hope…  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come (Matthew 24:42).

People who have had health issues or near-death experiences generally have a greater appreciation for each day being a gift from God.  The rest of us usually take for granted that we will be around tomorrow.  But when you start to look at each day as a gift, you realize all the little miracles that happen daily and grow in gratitude for all that we have been given (November 27, 2016).

olph12316-342nd: Love…  Therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 3:10).

Do you bear good fruit for Christ?  Or do you spend your time, talent, and treasure constantly acquiring more toys, clutter, and junk?  Our time, talent, and treasure are gifts that God has given us.  What we do with them is our gift back to God.  What gifts are you planning to give to the Lord during this upcoming Christmas season? (December 4, 2016).

olph121116-553rd: Joy…  You, too, must be patient.  Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:8).

Patience is… one of those things many of us struggle with.  We want things to go according to our plan and our schedule.  Any change brings anxiety and fear.  Through daily prayer we better align ourselves with God’s will and his plan, which is far better than anything we can come up with on our own (December 11, 2016).

olph121716-43a4th: Peace…  When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home (Matthew 1:24).

Putting our complete trust in the Lord without expecting anything in return.  Striving to put God first in all things and follow him wherever he may lead us.  As we prepare for the birth of our Lord, pray for the strength and courage to be a model of discipleship, just as Joseph was (December 18, 2016).

November 28, 2016

“Advent is the season of the secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of divine love growing in silence” (Caryll Houselander).

From the gospel we learn the happy news of our salvation.  Learning it, we rejoice in it.  We behold God’s glory, and we glorify him.  Let us rise to the high places, to the sublime part of ourselves; let us rise above ourselves to seek God in himself and, with the angels, to rejoice in his great glory (Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Advent).

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives” (Russell M. Nelson).

This Christmas, when Christ comes, will he find a warm heart?  Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern (St. Teresa of Kolkata, Love: A Fruit Always in Season).

November 29, 2016

The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again.  When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace (St. Charles Borromeo).

December 3, 2016

Where do you look for your life?  Forward or behind?  May the Lord grant you the grace to leave things behind, even those which you consider precious in this life; and may he allow you to look ahead, where Christ is waiting for you for a glorious meeting that will open the gates of eternity
(Gus Encino, Aleteia).

December 5, 2016

“With faith I await this blessed day, on which you will receive the name of Jesus, the day on which you will be my Emmanuel, always with me, amid so many temptations and peril” (Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Advent).

December 9, 2016

Pope Francis reminds us again and again that we bring the Word to life each and every day in the way we reach out to others with the love and mercy of God, the way we bring the light of Christ to a world too often shrouded in clouds and darkness, and the way we show to others a face that mirrors the face of God (Diane M. Houdek, Franciscan Media, The Joy of Advent).

December 10, 2016

“Advent is a time for renewal… because God brings his forgiveness to us in the shape of his Son” (Catherine Doherty).

December 21, 2016

Mary sustains our journey toward Christmas, for she teaches us how to live this Advent season in expectation of the Lord.  For this time of Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord who will visit us all on the feast, but also… in our own heart.  The Lord is coming!  Let us wait for him! (Pope Francis).

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Links of interest…  Advent: announcing the coming / anticipation & hope / blessed & brokendaily prayers /  deeper meaning in Latin / four attitudes & comings of Christ / from fear to faithGaudete Sunday (not pink, rose) / history / how can this be / lift up your headsmaybe you’re doing it wrong / meditating on Mary & keeping me from being a slackerO antiphons (hope – retreat – soothing balm) / one who is to comeour hope not in this world / passion for the possible / pregnant with expectationspreparing our hearts / real meaning of Christmas lights / reorienting ourselves to a slower paceseason (forgotten repentance) / seven counter-cultural ways / song of trust & acceptance / St. Joseph’s teachings & kissing him / time: for greater silence & prayer & of waitingtradition / what is / when it’s not yet Christmas / wreath (about – history – prayers – symbolism) / yoke that is easy & light…  Awake from your sleep…  Difficult art of being present…  Faith is not a philosophy, but an encounter with Jesus Christ…   Holy Communion nourishes your supernatural life... Homilies: Christ is the solutionlighting candles in the dark / recipe for readiness…  Make a resolution to start being brave…  OLPH: facebook / Mass timeswebsite…  Open to dreams…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals…  Reflections of family & faith…  “Rorate” Mass…  Seven endearing books to read to children at Christmastime…  Signs of salvation…  Six ways to tune out distraction & be more attentive…  Slouching toward BethlehemSlouching toward Bethlehem…  Want to know what God wants from you?  Try total immersion

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  For all time…  Gifts…  Letter to Santa…  Oh, happy day…  On being Christian…  One prayer…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Second looks…  Sweet Jesus…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Twelve candles…  Undeniable familiarity

Old cathedral

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

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Prayer

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

October 28, 2016

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

November 24, 2016

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

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

WP pages…  Meditations…  Prayer…  St. Joseph

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

Marytown shrine

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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!

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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).

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Adoration & Mass: Marytown chapel schedule

Links of interest…  Come, pray the rosary (virtual)…  Enter the world of devotion to Mary…  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 / profile (more) /  quotes / relics / saint of Auschwitz / story (anecdote) / timeline / writings (Immaculate Conception – more)…  Life for life (movie)…  Marytown: about / chapel live streaming (Mass & adoration) / facebook / video…  Mission of the Immaculata (Niepokalanów)…  Practice of silence for lay people…  Prayer library…  Spiritual reflections

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

Twelve candles

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For the past two weeks I’ve been maintaining, editing, and adding to my blog behind the scenes; so I’ve had ample opportunity to think about my next post.

Treasures

Opening the “churches” folder on the external drive this afternoon, I wondered which of the many files-in-waiting I should peek into.  Then Martha came to mind.

Thanks to our beloved friend, we shared an incredible adventure in Mundelein before driving to Marytown for noon Mass at the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  The church, managed by Conventual Franciscans, hosts a multitude of statues everywhere and a seemingly endless array of holy relics.  I thought my heart would burst! 

Connections

Viewing the photos again after two years of dormancy, my thoughts ricocheted from one post to another to another.  I added St. Anthony Mary Claret’s relic photo to Kylie’s story and then—  Oh, my gosh!  Providential!

Earlier in the day, I’d happened across the “twelve candles” draft from last December.  Not sure when I’ll get to that, I thought, dismissing any effort to get it published.  And here, out of the blue, in the photo files from our day with Martha was a photo of a prayer posted at the shrine.  Oh, perfect sentiment!  Who says the Hallmark Channel owns Christmas in July? 

Twelve candles

December 27, 2013, Steven and I started an annual tradition.

For our anniversary we gift ourselves with a day trip to the St. Joseph Chapel in Alamo: Steven makes a special contribution to the Capuchin Poor Clares, and he lights twelve candles.

We remember “everyone and everything everywhere”— most, specifically by name— and we give thanks and praise for “all God’s blessings in the new year to come.”

December 2015, we visited St. Joseph’s twice, the second time on Christmas Eve.  And, because it was our first time attending Mass at the chapel, we chose to light our candles in the spirit of the Holy Family.

So, twelve candles, twelve months of blessings.  When we say “you’re in our thoughts and prayers daily,” we really mean it.

God bless you sweetly!

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Prayer 

I don’t know how to pray.  I don’t know what to say.  I haven’t much time….

The light which I am giving is a little of what I have— a little of my time, a little of myself— which I am leaving before the Lord and the Virgin Mary.

This light symbolizes my prayer, which I continue even as I go my way.

Lord, may this candle I am lighting be the light with which you enlighten [us in our] difficulties and decisions.  May it be the fire with which you burn away the selfishness and impurity in [us].  May it be the flame with which you warm [our hearts].

I cannot remain for long in your church.  By leaving this candle burning, I want to give you something of myself.

Help me to continue to pray in the midst of my daily activities.

Amen (National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe, n. d.).

Quote

We often think we receive graces and are divinely illuminated by means of brilliant candles.  But from whence comes their light?  From prayers, perhaps, of some humble, hidden soul whose inward shining is not apparent to human eyes (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

December 21, 2016

God is our light.  The farther the soul strays away from God, the deeper it goes into darkness (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

December 22, 2016

A single sentence, a single word, a single awareness may turn life around; and, while you may not yet be found, you are no longer lost.  It is impossible to express.  Your dream of the world is unmasked, creating an opening.  The night, however dark, is not endless because, in that smallest opening, you glimpsed light moving in the dark.  It was the first real thing you have known (Paula D’Arcy, Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light).

December 25, 2016

In the Word made flesh, God has sent his last Word, his most profound Word, his most beautiful Word, into the world.  And that Word means I love you, world and humanity.  Light the candles!  They have more right to be here than darkness! (Karl Rahner, SJ).

January 3, 2017

Oh, how great is your name, O Lord!  It is the strength of my soul.  When my strength fails and darkness invades my soul, your name is the sun whose rays give lights and also warmth (St. Faustina Kawalska).

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

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Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  All things new: Yes, it’s cold & dark but there is light…  Christmas music: eleven hymns & songs (video) & seven originals…  Five ways to put all those Christmas cards to good use…  How beeswax candles opened my eyes to the beauty of Mass…  Light a candle…  Like a moth drawn to the flames of church candles…  Living an unending Christmas…  Mary Page: Marian prayers / one’s special intentions / prayer circlecorner…  Our Lady of the Rosary Library: prayers to the Blessed Virgin for every day of the week…  Prayer: & devotions to the Blessed Mother / & seasons / daily sacred spacefor all occasions (AMM) / four daily habits / free booklets & CDs (more) / healing / librarylittle book of caregiver prayers / more / morning & new beginnings / novenas made easyten ways to grow in prayer (more) / treasure of 3,569 / why we must pray…  Pope Francis: Light of faith…  Praying to the saints: gracious advocates / heavenly intercessors / intercessory prayer / litanies / novenas (221) / why pray novenas /  why pray to the saints…  Reasons to request prayer on social media / why writing is good for you…  Secret Santa for the soul…  Spiritual reflections…  Ten reasons to be filled with hope…  Time to put out electric votive candles…  What do you think of me, Lord

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

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…  Immaculate heart of Mary…  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