Slice of heaven


Until December 6, 2013, the only Capuchins Steven and I had met were those affiliated with the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.  Then we attended Bishop Danny’s annual dinner in Weslaco and learned about the Poor Clares at the Monastery of St. Joseph and St. Rita in Alamo, TX.  Amazing, considering that the only Poor Clares we’d heard about were those whom Father Mario had visited in June when he’d taken St. Anthony’s relics to their monastery in the Chicago area.

Clarisas cookies

CPC12613Bishop Danny’s annual fundraiser for the various charities in the diocese was the perfect venue for sales.  The Capuchin Poor Clare nuns had provided a palette of cookies to be sold
before the live auction, so Steven purchased a box of Clarisas and quickly handed them to me.  Gingerly examining the container without flipping it over, my fingertips felt something on the underside of the soft plastic container; so, naturally, I picked away at it with my nails until the tape gave way.

The neatly folded paper square, once smoothed open, satiated some of our curiosity— when, where, and why the Poor Clares had taken up residence in the Rio Grande Valley and why their cookie sales were so important— but the invitation to prayer immediately propelled us into let’s-check-it-out mode.

We fully intended to visit the Capuchins during the Christmas holidays, so we had work to do.  I’d write to the Sisters and learn more about the chapel, and Steven would search online for a map and directions.

My letter

CPC121813a      CPC121813-1b      CPC121813b

Sisters’ email

Subject: Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns – Alamo, TX
Date: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:39 AM

Pax et bonum!

Dear Deli and Esteban Lanoux,

May God reign in your hearts.  Thank you for your letter.  God be your reward.

Ten years ago our monastery was established in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  Here, we adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

We’re glad you liked the cookies that we make.  We sell our cookies only at the convent.  We do not sell online because they are very fragile and may break during shipping.  The cookies that you viewed on the website are sold by the Capuchin Sisters of Denver, CO.

We hope to meet you one day and personally thank you for your support.

May God bless you always, especially this Christmas.

In Francis and Clare of Assisi,
Your Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns

St. Joseph and St. Rita Monastery
P. O. Box 1099
Alamo, TX 78516-1099

My response

Subject: Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns – Alamo, TX
Date: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:55 AM

Dearest Sisters,

What a delight to hear from you personally!  Oh, my goodness, yes.  Steven and I will be going down to Brownsville during the Christmas holidays, so we’ve already made plans to go visit you before the New Year.

It’s wonderful to know your monastery is so welcoming, that you responded to my letter right away, and that we can buy your delicious cookies when we’re there at the monastery.  (Something I’ll definitely post on my personal blog!)

God bless y’all most abundantly!

Merry Christmas!

Heartfelt hugsss,
Deli & Steven

St. Anthony Guide.

Our visit: December 27, 2013

Reminiscent of Isaiah’s “treasures in secret places” (45:3), Steven and I are always in awe of the wonderful places (and people) we find here and there.  For instance, not long after we arrived at the St. Joseph chapel in Alamo we met three lovely visitors, a mother and her two daughters from south of Houston, in the gift shop in the vestibule.  Like us, they were so taken with their first visit to the Capuchin sacred space that they’ll be returning again and again.

Slice of heaven

SJRM122713-1Before leaving the chapel, Steven lit twelve votive candles for the twelve months in 2014.  As we think back on our visit, our prayers for everyone will be doubly special for having been remembered a year in advance as well as daily wherever we happen to be.

Next, we made our way to the monastery.  When we’d walked the grounds earlier, we’d spotted a family dropping off a box of clothing to one of the Sisters so we thought we might ring the doorbell.  Still, we were reluctant to disturb the Poor Clares, since they’re cloistered nuns.  Even the chapel has the one-way glass panels on either side of the altar so the Sisters can attend Mass unseen by the public!

Standing outside the small, wrought-iron barred patio area in the biting cold, I guess we made enough noise that one of the Poor Clares stepped out of the house to see what we needed.  When we explained that I’d written to let them know we’d be dropping by, Sister Marta started to let us in; but I motioned to her that we didn’t want to intrude.  We merely wanted to leave off some items, find out more about the Clarisas cookies— which we now know are sold at Breadsmith in McAllen— and thank them for the invitation to visit their beautiful chapel.

“Oh, you’ve seen it already?” Sister asked.

“Yes.  It’s lovely,” Steven told her.

“Did you photograph it?” Sister asked.

“Yes,” I chuckled.  “We spent about three hours in the chapel, so we had more than enough time to pray and take photos.”

Sister was glad for our visit, and we were most appreciative of Sister’s time.  The day was cold and damp, but we’d enjoyed a very special slice of heaven that day.

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Holy patroness of those in need, St. Rita, so humble, pure, and patient, whose pleadings with your divine spouse are irresistible, obtain for me from the Crucified Christ my request (mention here).  Be kind to me for the greater glory of God, and I promise to honor thee and to sing thy praises forever.  O glorious St. Rita, who miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life and protect me in all my needs.  Amen.

March 19, 2014

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus, and the Church?  By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence, and receptive to God’s plans, not simply to his own (Pope Francis).

March 24, 2015

“God is so good and merciful that, to obtain heaven, it is sufficient to ask it of him from our hearts” (St. Benedict Joseph Labre).

February 2, 2016

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).

February 28, 2016

“When the afflictions of this life overcome us, let us encourage ourselves to bear them patiently by the hope of heaven” (St. Alphonsus).

April 12, 2016

“The more we indulge ourselves in soft living and pamper our bodies, the more rebellious they will become against the spirit” (St. Rita of Cascia).

March 13, 2017

We engage in works of mercy not so that we can present Saint Peter at the pearly gates with our list of accomplishments but because we cannot live honestly before God and with others unless we are attentive to human need (Pat McCloskey in Peace and Good).

August 11, 2017

While both Clare and Francis left the world to pursue God insofar as they abandoned their status, wealth and security, never did they renounce the world for the sake of God.  Rather, they realized that the created world was the world embraced by God; thus God could not be found apart from the world.  The world, not the monastery, was the true cloister (Ilia Delio, OSF in Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love).


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


Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Clares / quiet space for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Breadsmith (Clarisas)…  Brownsville diocese…  Franciscan: calendar / prayers / requests…  St. Clare: about / book / chaplet / companions in prayer / don’t bring eggs (article) / enlightened one / for healing / patroness / profile (Aug 11) / prayer requests / prayers / successor…  St. Rita: about / biography / chaplet / feast day (May 22) / forty-six miracles / growing in holiness / hope for the impossiblelife / memorial / miracle / national shrine / novena / patroness / prayers / profile / rose legend / story (YouTube)…  St. Joseph: about / celebration (more) / feast / litany / memorial (May 1) / name / prayers (more) / solemnity (Mar 19) / who is / zeppole…  Viva San Giuseppe

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  San Giuseppe…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  St. Felix…  St. Jude Shrine (Corpus Christi, TX)…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelve candles…  Venerable Margaret

Finding St. Rita


Early this morning, I received a timely response from the very personable Deacon Sebastian Landagan regarding one of the statues at the St. Jude shrine, which is part of Most Precious Blood Church (MPBC) in Corpus Christi, TX.

Burning question

Tuesday, Jul 31, 2012 10:47 AM

We had such a wonderful, memorable time at your church that I eagerly await the day we can be there again….

Thanks to Steven calling David Castillo about a stone cross… David extended an invitation we just couldn’t pass up.  And there we were, making more memories, meeting sweet folks like you.

To me, it’s all about building community within God’s kingdom.

On that note, I’ve been alternating between Squawking Chicken Mode and Octopus Mode, so I haven’t yet gotten around to writing a post on our experience at MPBC on June 30.  Still, that’s the plan, especially since I now have more photos of your church.  Woohoo!

Which brings me to a burning question.  I was revisiting the photos I took at the St. Jude shrine, and I’m not sure about one of the statues….  I’ve attached the photo in case you have time to enlighten me.  I know St. Rita holds the cross, and St. Teresa is in the church.  But I’m stumped on this other one.

Saturday, August 11, 2012 9:38 AM

The statue you were not sure about is St. Clare of Assisi.  It is said that when an army of Frederick II was pillaging the valley of Spoleto, an ancient city in Perugia, Italy, some of the soldiers placed a ladder against the convent wall to try to overtake the convent.  St. Clare asked to be carried to a window; and, holding the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament in sight of the enemies, she prostrated herself before the Eucharist.  Her prayer was heard, and the enemy panicked and fled in terror.

Saturday, August 11, 2012 9:48 AM

Oh, my goodness.  What a wonderful— unexpected— story from you this beautiful morning!

Thanks so much!  I’ll be sure to include your anecdote on my blog.

I hope your weekend is peaceful, productive, and fulfilling!

God bless you most abundantly.  And thank you for all you do for all of us, Deacon Sebastian!




St. Clare

Of course, I couldn’t leave the story there.  Nooo!  Not I.  I had to find out more so, naturally, I went into search-and-find mode again.

I decided to add Deacon Sebastian’s story to my “words to ponder” page along with a photo of St. Clare; but the more I read online, the more intrigued I was.  I couldn’t stop.

Then, boink!  A title bopped me hard on the head.

Died on this day.  St. Clare of Assisi died on this day in 1253.

I looked at the date on the web page, blinked, and then checked the date in the lower righthand corner of my computer screen.

“Oh, my gosh!” I blurted to Steven.  “Today is St. Clare’s feast day!  I have to do more.”

I hadn’t intended to spend the whole day writing.  I’d had my heart set on beading Franciscan Crowns, reading the epilogue in Exile’s Return (Feist, 2005), baking bread, and just-plain doing my own thing today.

Why, oh, why, oh, why would I do this to myself?

Then, just like that, I succumbed to the moment.

This is what God wants, and I’m fine with it.

Sooo, “knowing how way leads on to way” (Frost, 1915), I proceeded to get my act together, recalling our memorable visit to Most Precious Blood Church recently.

Six new statues

June 30, David Castillo, whom I’d met at the St. Jude Shrine two years before, invited Steven not only to Saturday evening Mass, but also to the lay ministers’ potluck afterwards.

“We have six new statues that you’d be interested in photographing,” David told me gleefully when Steven passed me the telephone.  “Four are in the shrine, two more in the church.  Come early and join us for the rosary before Mass.”

St. Jude’s again

Of course, Steven insisted on dropping by the shrine first.



“Oh, my gosh!  So much has changed since I was last here in June 2010!  It’s as if Father Bob read my blog and knew that I wanted my very own photos of St. Peregrine and St. Rita!  Just wait till I share the photos with Tia!  Her father will be so happy!”

Tia’s dad

Then I recounted the story of Tia Bordes, whose comments on my “St. Jude shrine” post sent me into search-and-find mode that day, but whose desire to find St. Rita burned deep within my heart.  How I longed to help her!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 3:59 PM

Could anyone give me the address of the St Jude shrine in Corpus Christi, please?  It would make me and my father so happy to go there for a visit.  Thank you, and God bless you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 4:35 PM

Dear Tia, your question reminded me of my first time looking for the St. Jude Shrine, which is easy to miss unless you know that the shrine is the golden domed part of Most Precious Blood Church.

You can get to it easily either from SPID or, if you’re like me and prefer to avoid the traffic, take one of the back roads.  MPBC52210-6I drove west on Holly, turned left on Weber, and then right on Saratoga.  The church was about a mile or so down the road on my right.

I don’t know which direction you’ll be traveling, but it should be very easy to locate.  Just remember to look for A BIG CHURCH.  The gold dome will let you know you’re there.  That’s the roof over the foyer where you’ll find St. Jude.

The shrine’s a beautiful, quiet place, perfect for contemplation; so enjoy your time there!

P.S.  Here’s the address: 3502 Saratoga Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78415; and phone number: 361.854.3800.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 4:02 PM

I also would like to know if there is a church devoted to St. Rita in Corpus Christi.  Thank you for your help, and bless you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 4:54 PM

I checked the diocesan website and the internet for St. Rita Church and found none in the Corpus Christi (CC) area.

I also emailed a few friends in the CC area, and they wrote that the closest St. Rita Church is in Dallas.  Alas, that’s too far, although Mary Ellen did send a link you might be interested in.

As for devotions to St. Rita?  None of us knows of a church that honors her with special prayers in the area, but you’ve inspired me to learn more to share later.  So thanks!

Five, not four

I had no idea which statues I’d find at the shrine ’cause David had mercilessly dangled the carrot and wouldn’t let the cat out of the bag.

“If you want to find out, you have to show up,” he’d laughingly teased.

Entering the shrine, I couldn’t believe how much had changed in two years— and there were five, not four, new statues waiting to have their pictures taken.

Finding St. Rita

I stepped over to the first statue and burst into oh-my-gosh mode when I read the name plate.

“Finally!  St. Rita!  Oh, my gosh!  Tia will be sooo happy!  I’ll email her tomorrow, so she can bring her dad.”

Sunday, July 1, 2012 7:12 PM

We were at Most Precious Blood Church for evening Mass yesterday, and guess what we discovered at the St. Jude shrine?

A statue of St. Rita!!!

Yes!  I immediately thought of you.

“I’m so happy for Tia!” I told Steven.  “Just wait till I tell her!  Or maybe she’s been here since Father Bob ordered the beautiful new statues for both the shrine and the church?  I’m not sure, but she’s going to be delighted if she hasn’t visited the shrine in a while.”

Sooo, I hope you and your dad visit the shrine soon!

Saturday evening my wishes came true.  Not only did I return to Most Precious Blood Church and the St. Jude shrine with Steven in tow, but I also discovered the saints I’d been waiting a long time to photograph.

And I found St. Rita for Tia’s dad.

Prayers to St. Clare

Chaplet…  Glorious St. Clare of Assisi, we honor you for the unfailing faith that made you reject all earthly pleasures, and renounce all of your possessions.  We honor you for your life of extreme poverty and austerity, and for your prayer and penance on behalf of your nuns and the town of Assisi.  Grant us dear lady, the same faith, humility, and charity that you have shown toward God and your community.  Amen.

Pray three Our Father’s, three Hail Mary’s, and three Glory be’s.

(The chaplet: brown beads with a cross and a medal on opposite ends)

For healing…  O blessed St. Clare, your life shines like a beacon and casts its light down the ages of the Church to guide the way of Christ.   Look with compassion on the poor and humble who call on you for help.  As you bow before your Eucharistic Lord in heaven, speak to Him of my afflicted body and my broken spirit.  Ask Him to heal me and to wash away my sins in his precious blood.

Great servant of Christ, remember the needs of my family and all those I pray for.  Defend us from everything that would threaten our holy Catholic faith.  Hear the cry of the poor and make it a song of intercession, rising from your poor heart to the Eucharistic heart of Jesus, our healer, our savior, and our lord.  Amen.

Petition…  O, glorious St. Clare!  God has given you the power of working miracles continually and the favor of answering the prayers of those who invoke your assistance in misfortune, anxiety, and distress.  We beseech you, obtain from Jesus through Mary, his blessed mother, what we beg of you so fervently and hopefully… mention your petition… if it be for the greater honor and glory of God and for the good of our souls.  Amen.

Prayers to St. Rita

Chaplet…  O holy St. Rita, exemplary Augustinian Sister, we honor you for your devotion to the passion of Christ.  Although your early life was filled with disappointment, frustration, and unceasing tragedy, you never lost faith and trust in God.  For this you are the patroness of the impossible, and our inspiration and advocate in desperate circumstances.

Pray three Our Father’s, three Hail Mary’s, and three Glory be’s.

(The chaplet: blue beads with a cross and a medal on opposite ends)

Patroness of impossible causes…  Dear Rita, wife and widow, you suffered a long illness with patience because of your great love for God.  Your inspiration has prompted us to pray as you did; and we now invoke you for help, full of confidence in your powerful intercession.

Come now to our aid for the relief and cure of this great problem….

To God all things are possible.  May this blessing be a source of glory to the Lord.  Teach us to understand that God’s love surpasses everything.

Through your intercession may we be comforted in our sorrows.  May we find that peace which only Christ can give; and, if it be God’s holy will that our sufferings should continue, we pray that we will be able to bear them with courage and faith.

Dear St. Rita, do not abandon us.  Pray with us until we obtain the blessings we ask in this time of great need.  Amen.

Petition…  Holy Patroness of those in need, St. Rita, so humble, pure and patient, whose pleadings with thy Divine Spouse are irresistible, obtain for me from the crucified Christ my request….  Be kind to me, for the greater glory of God, and I promise to honor you and sing your praises forever.

Oh, glorious St. Rita, who miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our lord, Jesus Christ, obtain for me the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life, and protect me in all my needs.  Amen.

August 11, 2014

We become what we love, and who we love shapes what we become.  If we love things, we become a thing.  If we love nothing, we become nothing.  Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ; rather, it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation.  This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others (St. Clare).

September 4, 2014

“Love that does not know of suffering is not worthy of the name” (St. Clare).

November 25, 2014

Glorious St. Catherine, virgin and martyr, help me to imitate your love of purity.  Give me strength and courage in fighting off the temptations of the world and evil desires.  Help me to love God with my whole heart and serve him faithfully.  O St. Catherine, through your glorious martyrdom for the love of Christ, help me to be loyal to my faith and my God as long as I live.  Amen.

March 11, 2015

“Love God, serve God; everything is in that” (St. Clare).

August 11, 2015

What you hold may you always hold.  What you do may you always do and never abandon.  But with swift pace, light step, unswerving feet so that even your steps stir up no dust may you go forward securely, joyfully, and swiftly on the path of prudent happiness (St. Clare).

August 11, 2016

“Love that cannot suffer is not worthy of that name” (St. Clare).

February 6, 2017

“Lean on your Beloved because the soul who abandons themselves in the hands of Jesus in all they do is carried in his arms” (St. Clare).

July 10, 2017

“Love him totally who gave himself totally for your love” (St. Clare).

Links of interest…  Capuchin Poor Clares: Our Lady of the Angels (blog) / St. Joseph & St. Rita (about / email)…  Franciscan prayers / requests…  Most Precious Blood Church: address & map / parishes online / website…  The road not taken (Frost, 1915)…  St. Clare: about / book / chaplet / companions in prayer / don’t bring eggs (article) / enlightened one / for healing / little plant or mighty oakpatroness / profile / prayer requests / prayers / successor…  St. Rita: about / biography / chaplet / feast day (May 22) / forty-six miracles / growing in holiness / hope for the impossible / lessonslife / miracle / monastery (Alamo, TX) / national shrine / novena / patroness / prayers / profile / rose legend / story (YouTube)…

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Budding relationships…  Clarisas cookies…  In good time…  Making meaning…  October novena…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayer power…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Seven dwelling places…  Slice of heaven…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena…  St. Jude shrine: Chicago &  Corpus Christi…  Teresa of Avila