Slice of heaven

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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

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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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Prayer

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).

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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)…  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 / life / 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

God’s master plan

Steven and I traveled to Detroit to visit Father Casey’s tomb, but we had no idea what to expect, much less which entrance to take into the building that encompassed the city block across the street from the gated cemetery.

Joseph

Taking photos in the dimly lit St. Bonaventure Church, I happened to look up and there he was.  St. Joseph!  I’d been so distracted emotionally that I’d failed to notice him sooner.

What surprises do you have in store for us today? I wondered with shivery excitement.

I smiled at the growing number of Joseph-related memories past, present, and future, including our church in Port Aransas, the Capuchin Province managing the Solanus Casey Center and its intricately connected buildings, and the Indian school we’d be visiting two days later in Chamberlain, South Dakota.  I felt so blessed, so happy to sense St. Joseph so near.

Shortly after Steven returned, I left for confession.  And, as he waited for me, a cordial young man offered him a guided tour.

“When my wife finishes, we’ll look for you,” Steven said gratefully.  He was quite surprised that anyone would care to make visitors feel so welcome.

After a little while, I rejoined Steven.  Then, as he told me about the invitation to tour the center, the young man returned all on his own.

And, wouldn’t you know it?  His name was Joseph.

Timely gift

For two-and-a-half hours we relished every moment of our genuinely heartfelt, specially customized “pilgrimage” with Joseph Taylor, Capuchin aspirant.  We talked, laughed, and related to each other as friends sharing priceless stories.

I wanted to remember everything he told us because I wanted to write about our time at the Center.

“May I record your talk?”

Joseph laughed.  No one had asked him that before.

“Sure.”

So this is an excerpt from the edited version.

Three C’s

“Let’s go outside,” Joseph said as he led us through the glass door.

“Oh, my goodness.  It’s beautiful out here!” I gushed.

“This is where a tour usually starts,” Joseph continued.  “This is called the Creation Garden for a few reasons.  Before I explain, let me say that the Center itself focuses on three things: the Capuchins, which is the Order that Solanus Casey belonged to; Christ, of course, Jesus Christ; and Solanus Casey.  So you have three C’s.”

Canticle creations

“Here in the Creation Garden the idea is that St. Francis was totally different from a lot of priests.  He believed that you should love not only God with your whole heart, but also God’s creations.

“A lot of Franciscan monasteries have a place like this where you can blend in the Creation, God’s creation, with everything that you’re doing.  That’s the whole idea.

“St. Francis wrote The Canticle of the Sun.  As you can see, the little frame beside each sculpture displays part of the actual poem.  St. Francis mentions the sun, so we have a sundial.  He mentions the moon, so there are the four phases of the moon.  Brother Sun, Sister Moon.  He wrote about fire, so you have Brother Fire there and Brother Wind, the chimes.  Over here is Sister Mother Earth, and these are Sister Bodily Death and Sister Water.”

               

                

                 

“St. Francis wanted to show the various cultures that the Franciscans work with, so each was asked to contribute something different.  For instance, African-Americans from Nigeria designed the wind chimes.

“Now, this obelisk represents water and bears scriptures from the Koran.  When people visit the garden, they look at the sculpture and get a bit confused.

“‘This is a Catholic place.  What’s the Koran, and how does it fit in?’ they wonder.

“The idea is to show that Abraham is the father of the three different religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Similarly, water is a unifier that brings to mind the four rivers mentioned in the Old Testament.”

Then, the Lord God planted a garden in Eden….  A river rises in Eden to water the garden; beyond there it divides and becomes four branches.  The name of the first is the Pishon; it is the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.  The name of the second river is the Gihon; it is the one that winds all through the land of Cush.  The name of the third river is the Tigris; it is the one that flows east of Asshur.  The fourth river is the Euphrates (Genesis 2:8, 10-11, 13-14).

St. Francis

“You probably know all this already about St. Francis, but I’m going to talk about it a little bit.  Is that okay?

“Oh, I would love to hear whatever you have to say, Joseph,” I replied.

“Okay, so here’s St. Francis, a poor rich kid.  He does pretty much what he wants to do.  As he gets older, his parents expect more from him.  One of the greatest expectations is for him to be a knight; so, when he comes of age, his parents insist that he join the crusades.  Again, he comes from this wealthy family; so, of course, a lot of what he has is better than what other soldiers have.

“The family has a big parade and a big party for Francis before he goes off to battle.  Only he doesn’t do well on the field.  Francis gets beaten up and becomes a prisoner of war.  His father hears about it and goes off to rescue his son.

“In order to get his son, he has to pay not only for his son’s release, but also for all the other prisoners.  He purchases the prisoners’ freedom.  Then he brings Francis back and leaves him on the outskirts of town.  The father wants Francis to build character, so he can return to war.

“This is the first time Francis has seen the dark side of the world, and he doesn’t like it.  He comes from a rich family, so he’s pretty much gotten everything he’s wanted.  Being a loving man, Francis doesn’t want to fight.  Instead, he wants to show the Muslims the true presence of Christ.

“Francis refuses to obey his father, so he’s disowned.  Francis moves out into the wilderness and starts a life of his own.”

Passages

“Of course, the story continues.  St. Francis and his band of brothers go in search of the Islamists to tell them about the true Christ.  When he reaches the leader of the sect, Francis says that war is not of Christ.

“‘We should be brothers and keep the peace.’

“The Islamists, in turn, tell Francis and his band of brothers, ‘Look, we were told to kill you.  That’s our job, to kill Christians.  We should kill you; but, since you so courageously sought us out to share your religious beliefs, we’ll give you safe passage in any Muslim country you choose to travel.’

“For this reason, Sister Water honors the Muslims.  In return for the privilege of passage, Francis honors Muslims with passages from the Koran on the sculpture in his Creation Garden.

“And, even today, Franciscan brothers travel within the various Muslim countries without difficulty.”

Examining the water sculpture, I wondered aloud, “Each one of the sides is different, right?  Or it continues?  Is it a sentence?”

“I’m not sure,” Joseph responded.

StF112312In 1219, as the Fifth Crusade was being fought, Francis crossed enemy lines to gain an audience with Malik al-Kamil, the Sultan of Egypt.  The two talked of war and peace and faith and when Francis returned home, he proposed that his Order of the Friars Minor live peaceably among the followers of Islam— a revolutionary call at a moment when Christendom pinned its hopes for converting Muslims on the battlefield (Moses, 2009).

“Sooo…  What got you interested in doing this?” I asked.

Joseph’s story

“For the most part, I don’t want to stray too far from here,” Joseph began.

“My mother was the first to become a Catholic in her family, and she took pretty much all her brothers and sisters to St. Rose when she was in her teens.  The church is a mile down the road.

“St. Rose was in the process of being closed; so Father Dave, a Capuchin priest, was asked to take over.  Then, when St. Rose closed, we followed Father Dave to his home parish at St. Charles, which had lots of Capuchins.

“As we got to know the Capuchins, we learned not only about St. Charles, but also about St. Bonaventure and a few other churches.  So that’s when the friendship started.”

Joseph then told us how he and his siblings had come to know Father Casey.

“My mom, who’s very, very big on saints, is a very spiritual person.  She first heard the story of Solanus Casey at a point when she couldn’t have kids.  She would come to Father Casey’s tomb, his casket, quite often; so that was part of it.  Then my father became ill after he retired from the police force.  He used a cane, so a few of his buddies would bring him to the healing services every Wednesday.  He would pray all the time.  After that, my sister, the girl over at the front desk, was asked to come work; so she applied for a job.  When she started working, that brought us, the younger crowd, to the Center more.  Then, as the Center became more popular and needed personnel to work weekends, I was asked to be a tour guide.”

“And you’ve been here doing this how long?”

“I’ve been here since January, but I’ve been coming to the Center since it opened in 2002.  This is the first time I’ve been totally active at the Center, though.  During the week, I teach math to seventh-graders in a predominantly Hispanic school; so I do this on weekends.”

“And your dad?  How is he doing?”

“He passed away in 2008.  He suffered from a number of illnesses.  He had high blood pressure and diabetes and eventually went blind.  It was sad because he’d been a cop for thirty-one years, and he had all these plans to take a cruise and do a lot of traveling; but his health immediately declined as soon as he retired.  A lot of his buddies, as soon as they retired, got very, very ill.  Quite a few passed away.

“My dad was very active here at the Solanus Casey Center.  Every Wednesday he would come to the healing services.  He’s in a video on Solanus Casey.  My mom would watch the video on EWTN, so we’d see our father on TV.”

“Oh, my goodness!” I enthused, totally caught up in the story.  “So he’s alive forever!

“The video is pretty awesome!” Joseph chuckled, reveling at the thought.

We stood there quietly beaming for a few moments until I remembered that Joseph hadn’t yet told us about the last sculpture.

“Oh, were you were going to explain one last thing?” I asked.

Life and death

“Yes.  This is Sister Bodily Death.” Joseph continued.  “St. Francis wrote about life; so a lot of people ask, ‘Where does death fit in?’

“Francis believed that through death you meet Christ.  That’s why he mentioned death last in his poem.  What’s unique is that this piece of burnt tree is from Iowa, not too far from where Solanus Casey and his family lived.  I believe it’s four-thousand years old, and this limestone is almost a million years old.  The wood’s kind of pointing toward the center, since that’s where the journey actually starts.  When I read about death in the poem, I couldn’t grasp it; but now I understand.”

“Wow!  See?  I didn’t know any of that!” I said to Joseph as we made our way back into the building.  “It means a lot to hear your stories.”

Hello, goodbye

As Joseph stepped behind the welcome desk, he introduced his beloved sister with pride.

Like her brother, Jessica was all smiles and just as sweet.  She was also glad, though in no hurry, to break for lunch as Joseph had anticipated.

“We’ll be back another time!” I chirped as we wistfully said our goodbyes.

“Just keep me in your prayers,” Joseph added, his Cheshire cat grin piquing our curiosity.

“Oh?  Something special coming up?” Steven teased.

“Yesterday morning I submitted my application to the Capuchins, so I’m hoping they’ll accept me.”

“Joseph, that’s great news!” I said excitedly.

“Of course, you’ll be accepted!” Steven asserted.

“We’ll definitely keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.  I’ll write when we get back to Texas.  Thanks so much for being here for us today!”

God’s master plan

Knowing that Steven and I were on an emotional roller coaster ride, God, in his infinite wisdom, surrounded us with wonderful people, including Wilson (in the striped sweater) and his Uncle Jeff whom we met in church, and gifted us with his goodness and mercy.

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Through the expeditious intercessions of both Father Casey and St. Joseph, we were mentally refreshed and spiritually uplifted, too.  Yet, Joseph was the charm.

The stories of Father Casey, St. Francis, and Joseph’s family helped us look beyond ourselves to acknowledge God’s gifts, his amazing creations, and appreciate all we have together.

Our visit to Father Casey’s tomb that day was such an important chapter in our book of life that we give thanks and praise not only for God’s master plan for us, but also for Joseph’s acceptance into the Capuchin Order and the journey he’s just begun.

       

       

       

Canticle of the sun

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!  All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.  To you alone, Most High, do they belong.  No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord, Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him.  And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!  Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air and clouds and storms and all the weather through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful and humble and precious and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire through whom you brighten the night.  He is beautiful and cheerful and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you, through those who endure sickness and trial.  Happy those who endure in peace; for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death from whose embrace no living person can escape.  Woe to those who die in mortal sin!  Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.  The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord and give thanks and serve him with great humility.

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Contact information

Prayer leaflets are from Father Primo at Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

December 18, 2012

Thank you, Jesus, for the witness of St. Joseph.  By your Spirit, make me as faithful and trusting as he was! (the Word among us, Advent 2012, p. 44).

January 2, 2014

As always, we’re delighted to no end anytime we hear about Joseph through Mary Comfort at the Solanus Casey Guild; his sister, Jessica; and/or from Joseph himself.  He and his family, along with the Capuchins and their associates at the Solanus Casey Center, are in our thoughts and prayers daily.  (Father Ugo Sartorio, OFM-Conv at
St. Anthony’s Basilica in Padua is praying for Joseph, too.)

We’re so very proud of Joseph that we get misty-eyed with every bit of news about him.  The photo on the left was received August 2, 2013; the one on the right, January 2, 2014.

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Merry Christmas.  I haven’t forgotten about you guys.  They keep us really busy here.  Thanks for your support.  Br. Joseph

P.S. Hey, Steve!!

Thank you for heeding the call of service, Brother Joseph!

January 19, 2014

Lord, show me where my obedience falls short of your plans for me.  Teach me to trust in you completely (the Word among us, January 2014, p. 40).

January 26, 2014

“Spiritual joy arises from purity of the heart and perseverance in prayer” (St. Francis of Assisi).

May 1, 2014

In response to Father Larry’s reflection today, Steven wrote the following:

Fr. Larry,

Deli and I were there at the Center April 9 and 10 for the Wednesday healing service and Thursday Day of Reflection.  As always, we were captured emotionally and spiritually by the serenity that abides in the Center.  We also met some of the most beautiful people there, including Sidney, a young man physically challenged by an auto accident when he was a baby, but whose outlook is positive and faith-based.  It was particularly nice to finally meet Mary Comfort in person— a perfect name for someone in her position, as I am sure you are aware.  She has always been so kind and helpful in providing Deli with relic badges for us to provide to others who need intercession and spiritual uplift.

Thank you for your description of the events in St. Peter’s Square last Saturday.  Your tale brought the event to life for me.  I had the opportunity to be present at a General Audience with John Paul II in 2001— I still have my invitation, now framed and hung in our home.  I wear a replica of the crucifix fixed atop his ferula (that I obtained at the Vatican), and it now reminds me that I have been privileged to hear a Saint speak.  Truly you are blessed to have shaken hands with His Holiness and conversed directly with him.

May God bless you and the staff at the Center; all of the Friars and Brothers; Capuchins throughout the world, both ordained and seminarian (especially Joseph Taylor); and the faithful who ask, seek, and knock.

Vivat Jesus!

Steve Lanoux
Solanus Casey Guild life member

May 24, 2014

This photo is from the letter received from Brother John Celichowski with the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order.  (Brother Joseph is on the right.)

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May 29, 2014

Oh, my gosh!  Great news!!!

Father Larry’s reflection, “New Capuchin,” arrived this morning.

Fr. Larry gave classes recently to the 21 Capuchin Novices from the US at the Novitiate in California.  Among them is Br. Joseph Taylor who, for several months, worked as our weekend assistant at the Solanus Casey Center.  His sister Jessica is one of our receptionists. Brother Joseph will finish his Novitiate and make his first vows as a Capuchin in July.  Keep him and all the Novices in your prayers as well as praying for more Capuchin Vocations!

Joseph, we’re so over-the-moon happy for you and your family!

June 1, 2014

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.  Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.  Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice.  Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt (St. Francis of Assisi).

October 4, 2014

Every day Jesus humbles himself just as he did when he came from his heavenly throne into the Virgin’s womb; every day he comes to us and lets us see him in abjection when he descends from the bosom of the Father into the hands of the priest at the altar (St. Francis of Assisi).

Let us love God and adore him with pure heart and mind (St. Francis of Assisi).

May 8, 2015

“By the anxieties and worries of this life Satan tries to dull man’s heart and make a dwelling for himself there” (St. Francis of Assisi).

June 23, 2015

“All a person’s holiness, perfection, and profit lies in doing God’s will perfectly”
(St. Joseph Cafasso).

September 27, 2015

“A single act of resignation to the divine will in what it ordains contrary to our desires is of more value than a hundred thousand successes conformable to our will and taste” (St. Vincent de Paul).

March 8, 2016

“Have charity first towards our own souls, cleansing them by confession and penance; then charity towards our neighbors and our brethren, wishing them that which we desire ourselves” (St. John of God).

Links of interest…  Canticle of the Sun: about / prayer / video (YouTube)…  Capuchin Franciscans: blog / ministries / novices (men in formation / new) / website / weekly re:cap (Joseph: #927, 9.7.12)…  Celebration of Divine Mercy & the grace of holiness…  Father Abraham: about / family / lyrics / music & craft / our father / song (YouTube; alternate)…  Franciscan Mission Associates: contact / devotional saintslight a candle / prayer requests / quarterly newsletter / saint & prayer of the month / who we are…  Franciscan saints calendar (more)…  Garden of Creation (videos)…  How I made friends with St. Joseph…  Saint & the Sultan: book / fifth crusade  forgotten incident / historical resource / reflection (blog) / what can be learned…  Solanus Casey Center: creation garden (YouTube) / guild / home / photo gallery / shrine / sister water / virtual tour…  St. Francis of Assisi: 10+ ideas for kids / about / & answering God’s call / creation & original innocence / ecology & animals / getting to know the real / national shrine / what we can learn / who was / without gloss…  St. Joseph: helps (blog) / in Franciscan theology…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Call of service…  Capuchin church stations…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  Holy relics…  Memory lane…  Mercy and justice…  Morning exchanges…  Promise of hope…  Quiet prayer time…  San Giuseppe…  Si quaeris miracula…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Bonaventure Church…  St. Felix…  St. Joseph’s chapel…  Today’s Beatitudes

San Giuseppe

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Perhaps you know a Joseph?  Originally Hebrew, יוֹסֵף (Yosef) means God will increase.

St. Joseph

During the Middle Ages the people of Sicily were starving.  The drought had ruined their crops, so they were desperate for a miracle.

If St. Joseph would save the town from this horrible plight, Sicilians would honor him with altars of food to be shared with everyone, rich and poor alike, they vowed.

Legend has it that at midnight, March 19, their prayers were answered.  The rain restored the land, and the town was spared from the famine.

Table altars

Since then, St. Joseph devotees have set up traditional table altars with all sorts of delicacies— entrees, breads, desserts, and other special delights— perfect for the Lenten season.

Moreover, in Italy, residences that honor St. Joseph display olive branches over the front door to let others know about the table altar within waiting to be shared.

Prayers

Consecration… O, my beloved St. Joseph, adopt me as your child, take care of my salvation, watch over me day and night, preserve me from the occasion of sin, and obtain for me purity of soul and body!  Through your intercession with Jesus grant me a spirit of sacrifice, humility, and self-denial; a burning love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; and a sweet, tender love for Mary, my mother.

St. Joseph, be with me living, be with me dying, and obtain for me a favorable judgment from Jesus, my merciful saviour.  Amen.

Daily offering…  O blessed St. Joseph, faithful guardian to whom God entrusted Jesus and Mary, I implore you by the love which you did bear them, to preserve me from every defilement of soul and body that I may always serve them in holiness and purity of love.  Amen.

For fathers…  Gracious God, you chose St. Joseph to be the foster father of your beloved son, Jesus, and filled his heart with tender love and great joy.

Bless all fathers with the same tenderness and give them a share in the same joy.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For protection…  Because you were the watchful guardian of the holy family, please watch over us, Christ’s chosen offspring.  Like an alert father, kindly keep far from us every taint of error or corruption.  From your place of glory on high, come to aid us in our conflict with the powers of darkness.

V.  St. Joseph, whom the infant Jesus so much loved,
R.  Please grant us what we ask.

Assist us, Lord, by the merits of your foster father, St. Joseph, spouse of your most holy mother.  May his help gain for us what our own efforts cannot.  This we ask through you who live and reign with God the Father in the union of the Holy Spirit, one God, for all the ages.  Amen.

OLG3715-31-oPetition…  O blessed St. Joseph, tender-hearted father, faithful guardian of Jesus, chaste spouse of the Mother of God, I pray you join with me in praising God, the Father, through his divine son who died on the cross and rose again to give us sinners new life.  Through the holy name of Jesus pray with me that we may obtain from the eternal Father the favor we ask (state intention).

We have been unfaithful to the unfailing love of God, the Father.  Beg of Jesus mercy for us, his brothers and sisters.  Amid the splendors of God’s loving presence do not forget the sorrows of those who weep.  By your prayers and those of your most holy spouse, our blessed Lady, may the love of Jesus answer our call of confident hope.  Amen.

Request…  To you, blessed Joseph, we come with confidence in this, our hour of need, trusting in your powerful protection.  Your loving service to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God and your fatherly affection for the Child Jesus inspire us with faith in the power of your intercession before the throne of God.

We pray, first of all, for the Church, that it may be free from error and corruption and that it be a shining light of universal love and justice.

We ask your intercession for our loved ones in their trials and adversities, that they may be inspired by the love, obedience and affection of the Holy Family and be to each other a mutual source of consolation and Christian fidelity.

We ask your intercession also for our special need (mention desired grace).

Keep us one and all under your protection so that, strengthened by your example and assistance, we may lead a holy life, die a happy death, and come to the possession of everlasting happiness in heaven.  Amen.

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Contact information

The colorful prayer leaflets are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; the brown-colored prayers, from Our Lady of the Rosary Library, 11721 Hidden Creek Road Prospect, KY 40059-9503.

March 19, 2013

Lord, give me the faith of St. Joseph.  Help me hear your words clearly, and give me the courage to respond faithfully to the plan that you have for my life (the Word among us, Lent 2013, p. 58).

March 2, 2014

Everyone must know that, after the Mother of God, St. Joseph is, of all the saints, the one dearest to God.  He has, therefore, great power with him and can obtain graces for his devout clients (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

SBC61613s-59March 7, 2014

St Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things.  He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life.  That is why scripture praises Joseph as “a just man” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

March 10, 2014

St. Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care.  May he always guard, protect, and enlighten families (Pope John Paul II).

March 19, 2014

He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife.  He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until, at last, God called him saying, “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord (St. Bernardine of Siena).

March 22, 2014

“However many saints you have as your intercessors, be especially devoted to
St. Joseph, who can obtain a great deal from God” (St. Teresa of Avila).

January 10, 2017

A hero is cultivated by countless— often unnoticed— actions.  They are ordinary humans— you and me— who direct their decisions and actions to be strengthened by goodness, compassion, integrity, and righteousness (Bear Woznick in Deep Adventure).

January 22, 2017

“In Joseph… the Lord found a man after his own heart to whom he could safely entrust the most holy and hidden secrets” (St. Bernard).

March 18, 2017

St. Joseph was chosen among all men to be the protector and guardian of the Virgin Mother of God; the defender and foster father of the Infant God; and the only co-operator upon earth, the one confidant of the secret of God in the work of the redemption of mankind (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

March 19, 2017

Let us allow ourselves to be “infected” by St. Joseph’s silence!  We need it greatly, in a world that is often too noisy, that does not favor meditation or listening to the voice of God (Pope Benedict XVI).

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St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery – Alamo, TX

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St. Jude Thaddeus Church – Pharr, TX

Links of interest…  Congregation of St. Joseph…  How I made friends with Joseph…  I am Yosef…  Prayer credits: Franciscan Mission Associates (H-77) / St. Joseph helps (blog) / Our Lady of the Rosary Library…  Prayers: favorite / consecration / powerful novena (more) / thirty-day devotion…  St. Joseph: about / blog / celebration / feast  name / living out Adventprayers / present of absent at the visitation / quick quiz / reasons to love / remembering / solemnity (more) / staircase / table altars / workshop…  St. Teresa of Avila: St. Joseph, wonder-worker, is waiting to bless you…  Viva San Giuseppe…  Zeppole: cream puffs / doughnuts / recipe / video (YouTube)…  the Word among us

WP page…  St. Joseph

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Budding relationships…  Christmas blessings…  Dear God…  Faces of Mary…  Gifts…  God’s master plan…  In good time…  Making meaning…  Mourning joy…  Promise of hope…  Sweet Jesus…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Two angels

Budding relationships

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Growing up, I knew about God, Jesus, Joseph, and Mary but not really about the saints.

Maybe I was supposed to learn about them on my own?

Other than developing a lifelong personal relationship with St. Jude and St. Anthony, I didn’t delve into the lives of the other saints until I created our church website, May 2008.

Jesus, son of God and son of Mary, bless our family.  Graciously inspire in us the unity, peace, and mutual love that you found in your own family in the little town of Nazareth. 

Mary, mother of Jesus and our mother, nourish our family with your faith and your love.  Keep us close to your son, Jesus, in all our sorrows and joys. 

Joseph, foster-father to Jesus, guardian and spouse of Mary, keep our family safe from harm.  Help us in all times of discouragement or anxiety. 

Holy family of Nazareth, make our family one with you.  Help us to be instruments of peace.  Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass.  May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with you.  Amen.

St. Martin of Tours

As a child I often wondered about the picture high up on the wall above the front door.  Since we didn’t have photos of anyone on the walls of our house, I always thought that the man over the door had to have been someone special. 

But why was he slashing his red cloak in two? 

Never mind that he was atop his horse as a barely clothed man sat on the ground below.  I just didn’t get it.

Who was he? 

Although I never thought to ask about him then, I now know a bit more about St. Martin of Tours, as he’s “one of the most familiar and recognizable Christian saints… a spiritual bridge across Europe… a patron saint of soldiers and horses” (Wikipedia, 2011).

Lord God of hosts, you clothed your servant, Martin, the soldier, with the spirit of sacrifice and set him as a bishop in your Church to be a defender of the Catholic faith.  Give us grace to follow in his holy steps that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.

St. Jude Thaddeus

When I was nine or so, mom heard about a church in Pharr, TX that had an outdoor shrine devoted to St. Jude; so off we went after work one evening.

I still vividly recall mom’s fascination with St. Jude.

“Look.  He has only one horn left to show that his evil gave way to good,” Mom said.  “St. Jude betrayed Jesus, but God’s unconditional love transformed him.  Now he’s the saint of impossible causes.”

Even at my young age the story didn’t make sense.

One horn?  How can that be?

By the time the topic of St. Jude’s horn came up again, I was an adult who’d learned that Judas Iscariot is sometimes mistaken for St. Jude Thaddeus and vice versa.  Additionally, “Saint Jude is depicted with a tongue of fire over his head to signify that with the other apostles he was present at Pentecost” (Eparchy of St. Maron, 2008).

I gently shared this information with mom but she didn’t quite believe me, and I was fine with that.

What matters is that I’ve come to know St. Jude as a powerful intercessor.  One I call on only when I’m facing a truly exasperating dilemma beyond my problem solving capability, as with the kids and/or grandkids.

St. Jude, through prayer you praised God for the wonderful works of Jesus.  You asked God for the strength to meet the challenges of your apostolate.  You put your trust in God’s mercy, believing firmly that God loved you and understood your joys and sorrows, your hopes and fears, and your triumphs and failures.  You understood that nothing is impossible for God.  We ask you to pray for us now before the Most High so that we, too, might be filled with God’s saving power, understand God’s will for us, and faithfully place ourselves in God’s loving hands.  Amen.

St. Anthony

On the other hand, my unfaltering companion since age thirteen has been St. Anthony.

Always patient, loving, kind, and willing to help, St. Anthony’s devotion to the Holy Infant has inspired me not only to look for the Infant whenever we visit a church for the first time, but also to return occasionally to familiar churches… St. Paul the Apostle Church in Flour Bluff and the Cathedral in Corpus Christi, TX… where the Holy Infant is venerated.  “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt. 6:21).

O Holy St. Anthony, your deep faith in Jesus Christ comforted your heart, especially during times of trial and distress.  Help me to grow in faith, so I may experience peace of mind and heart in my present needs.  (State request.)  Free me from undue anxiety, needless worry, and burdensome fears.  Grant me sure confidence; unfailing trust in God’s loving mercy, and daily serenity.  Amen. 

St. Thérèse

Over the years, too, I’ve learned that it’s not uncommon for St. Anthony to be displayed near St. Thérèse, since they’re both closely affiliated with the Holy Infant.  The church in Budapest, Hungary, for instance, has the two saints facing each other from opposite sides of the center aisle as one enters the seating area.

St. Thérèse, teach us how to open our heart without reserve to the Holy Spirit.  Help us to seek and find God’s will not only in the crises and choices, but also in the joys and disappointments of our lives.  Gain for us the grace to do God’s will with courage and untroubled hearts so that we can radiate joy and  gladness like yours in the service of our Lord.  Amen.

Moreover, parishes I’ve frequented that honor St. Anthony, St. Thérèse, and the Holy Infant include Sacred Heart Church and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville, TX; Sts. Cyril & Methodius Church in Corpus Christi, TX; St. Pius V in Chicago, IL; and two churches that Segy and I visited in Gyor, Hungary and Prague, Czech Republic.

                    

                    

                    

Budding relationships

Of course, had Segy and I not been parishioners at Sacred Heart, I never would’ve made the connection between St. Anthony and St. Thérèse, much less traveled to Europe to see the original Infant Jesus statue at Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague.

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.

The way I see it, God’s master plan for me has included not only a heartfelt devotion to the Holy Infant, but also budding relationships with his beloved saints who are always ready, willing, and able to intercede for us any time we choose to call on them.

November 1, 2012

“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).

November 11, 2014

“Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord”
(St. Martin of Tours).

October 31, 2015

“The saints have not all started well, but they have all finished well” (St. John Vianney).

November 1, 2015

“On the feasts of the saints, consider their virtues and beseech God to deign to adorn you with them” (St. Teresa of Ávila).

November 11, 2015

“O God, who sees that we exist by no power of our own, mercifully grant that, by the intercession of blessed Martin, your confessor and bishop, we be strengthened against all adversities”(Unknown source, n. d.).

March 19, 2016

If we falter, let us turn to Holy Mary, who loves us and teaches us how to pray; and to St. Joseph, our father and lord, whom we venerate so much.  In this world he was the one who was closest to the Mother of God and, after Mary, to her Divine Son.  Together they will bring our weakness to Jesus so that he may turn it into strength (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

October 30, 2016

“Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most” (G. K. Chesterton).

November 11, 2016

Lord, if your people need me, I will not refuse the work.  Your will be done (St. Martin of Tours).

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St. Joseph Church – Port Aransas, TX

Links of interest…  Apostles, major saints, & feast days…  Artist John McCoy paints the saints for Michigan parish…  Church of Our Lady of Victory…  Does praying to the saints mean they’re gods…  Four soon-to-be saints…  Friendship with the saints / with Christ Jesus…  Four saints who weren’t consecrated religious…  Holy Week & Judas…  Introducing the saints to your children…  Jesus, Mary, & the saints…  Living the motto of the saints…  Love that lies beneath…  November 1st: All Saints & 2nd: All Souls / communion / solemnity…  Patron saint of missing socks, pray for us…  Prayer to the saints: One in the body…  Sainthood isn’t for the strong…  Saints: better than superheroes / crises / ever wonder how a saint is made / for Pentecost / friendship / overcoming boredom / patron saint list / still being made / teach us how to trust God / who is a saint / why we love the saints…  Society of the Little Flower…  Stories, traditions keep devotions to the saints alive…  St. Anthony: about (more) / biography / devotions / mail deliveries (S.A.G.) / miracles & traditions / shrine / wonder worker…  St. Jude Thaddeus: tongue of fire / who he is…  St. Martin of Tours: about / feast (Nov 11) / history / monk / novenapatron saint / prayers / profile…  St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus & the Holy Face: 1873-1897 / about / Carmelite / celestial roses / centenary / chaplet / history / inspiration / invocation / life / oblation / feast (Oct 1st) / little way / novena / petitions / prayer (YouTube) / relic / story (YouTube)…  Story of a soul (1898; free): audio / ebook…  With confidence & trust

WP posts…  Beautiful sacred space…  Connected tangents…  Disquieting moments…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Kindred acorns…  May flowers…  Noon visit…  A real church…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret