Gift of love

Monday afternoon I received another heartwarming letter from Sister in Australia.  So, naturally, I sat back in my chair and opened the gift.  I gingerly removed its contents, set the items on the computer desk, and counted— four.

Sister’s letter

I examined the two laminated photos of St. Thérèse.  The first had a child’s offering on the back; the second, a petition.


Next, I picked up the custom-made greeting card on orange cardstock.

I love orange! 

Having read the poem adhered to the front, I opened Sister’s card.  The paper-thin, silky-smooth photo within was laminated, two-sided.

Ecce Homo.  Behold the man.


Love and prayers

I wondered about the photo, but I really wanted to read Sister’s message.  I relaxed in my chair as if to share a cup of tea and conversation.


Dearest Deli & Steve,

Praised be the Holy Child Jesus!  Thank you for your lovely letter… most grateful for it.  I hope you had a happy trip and break at Minneapolis and the pilgrim centers that you visited.  You are most kind.  I thank God for you, and I am very appreciative of it at this time.

I am well by the grace of God and had a good retreat early this month.  I feel that the Holy Child Jesus has showered me with his graces.  Deo Gratia.

If you do not hear from me, remember, you and all your family and intentions will be always close to my heart in prayer.  God bless you with lots of love and prayers.

Gratefully in Jesus…

Unexpected surprises

I didn’t know what to think.  I read and reread the card a bunch of times, trying to read between the lines, trying to contain my tears.  Then I heard Steven in the kitchen.  He’d gotten home from work.

“Sister sent a letter!  Just wait till you see what she sent!”

I gathered the items to show Steven.

Oh, my gosh! 

I had miscounted.

Gift of love

My sadness turned to joy when I saw the fifth item.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Steven walked over to my thoughtful spot at the computer, and I couldn’t stop jabbering.

I was so excited!  Over the moon, in fact.

“Yesterday in the chapel at Montserrat— for just a fleeting moment as I was praying my Child Jesus chaplet— I wished for a St. Teresa relic.  And here, today, I received a second-class relic from Sister in Australia!!!

“Oh, my gosh!  And I have just the frame for it, too!”
I continued.  “Thursday afternoon I found it atop my books on the shelf here.  How it got there, I don’t know.  But I didn’t move it just in case we needed it later on.  Talk about everything falling into place.”

What a gift of love!

Oh, my gosh.  First, the vintage postcard of
St. Teresa!  And now this?!!  I’m sooo blessed!

Thank you, Sister!  You’re in my forever thoughts and prayers!  I’m sending you heartfelt hugsss…


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.


July 2, 2014

“He wills that I should love him because he has forgiven me not much, but everything” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

October 1, 2014

We can never have too much hope in God.  He gives in the measure we ask (St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus).

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice: here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word, always doing the smallest thing right and doing it all for love” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

October 15. 2014

“God dwells within you, and there you should dwell with him” (St. Teresa of Avila).

October 27, 2014

“For me prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven; it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

January 9, 2015

“When we accept our disappointment at our failures, God immediately returns to us”
(St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

February 15, 2015

So the divine love is sacrificial love.  Love does not mean to have and to own and to possess.  It means to be had and to be owned and to be possessed.  It is not a circle circumscribed by self, it is arms outstretched to embrace all humanity within its grasp (Venerable Fulton Sheen).

April 1, 2015

My strength lies in prayer and sacrifice…, invincible weapons [that] touch hearts more surely than words can do, as I have learned by experience
(St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

September 17, 2015

The school of Christ is the school of [love].  On the last day, when the general examination takes place….  [Love] will be the whole syllabus (St. Robert Bellarmine).

October 1, 2015

“When one loves, one does not calculate” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

“I will work for your love alone, my sole aim being to give you pleasure, to console your sacred heart, and to save souls who will love you forever” (The Little Catechism of St. Thérèse).

October 23, 2015

Charity works.  It gets good jobs done.  It gives form and life to all of the virtues.  Infused by God, it reigns supreme in loving goodness over the talents of learning and the talents of living (Kevin Vost in Unearthing Your Ten Talents).

November 17, 2015

To discover that you are loved is the center of all existence.  And when we are filled with this total and delirious love, little by little, we grow and love in turn.  That gradualness in our journeys is a sign of the infinite tenderness of God (Chiara Corbella Petrillo).

January 11, 2016

Be a soul of love in order to become an apostle, and you will discover a very beautiful thing: that at the bank of love, the more you give, the richer you become (Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbée in I Believe in Love).

October 1, 2016

I have not the courage to force myself to seek beautiful prayers in books.  Not knowing which to choose I act as children do who cannot read.  I say quite simply to the good God what I want to tell him, and he always understands me (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

March 28, 2017

The Holy Spirit gives us himself as a free, gratuitous, nonreturnable gift of love, as we do when we give loving gifts to others with no expectation of personal gain, because we wish them well.  Love itself, then, is the first gift through which all free gifts are given (Kevin Vost in The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit).

June 15, 2017

At last I have found my calling!  My calling is love! (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

July 17, 2017

O how glorious our faith is!  Instead of restricting hearts, as the world fancies, it uplifts them and enlarges their capacity to love (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

July 22, 2017

“We were born to love, we live to love, and we will die to love still more” (St. Joseph Cafasso).

October 16, 2017

Charity works.  It gets good jobs done.  It gives form and life to all of the virtues.  Infused by God, it reigns supreme in loving goodness over the talents of learning and the talents of living (Kevin Vost in Unearthing Your Ten Talents).

October 30, 2017

Love is a force more formidable than any other.  It is invisible— it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment and offer you more joy than any material possession could (Barbara DeAngelis).

October 31, 2018

Receive our Lord, and keep him as long as you can.  Make plenty of room for him within you.  To let Jesus Christ increase in one’s soul is the most perfect act of love (St. Peter Julian Eymard in How to Get More out of Holy Communion).

August 14, 2019

Of all the possible motives that can account for our actions, the most powerful of all is the motive of love.  Love is God’s own motive.  He does all things for love (Fr. Philip Dion in The Handbook of Spiritual Perfection).

October 27, 2020

“Love is its own reward” (Thomas Merton).


Links of interest…  Carmelites (saints)…  Catholic books & podcasts (free downloads)…  Child Jesus: chaplet (more) / devotion / petitions…  Cloistered communities: about / a day within the walls…  Daily inspirations…  Flower of Carmel (Goonellabah): contact / home / prayer…  Friendship rooted in charity…  In response to the little girl who broke my son’s heart…  Montserrat…  Need a saint you can relate to (more Carmelite saints)…  Polish mystic from Poland & her conversations with Jesus…  September martyrs…  Sisters of Carmel…  St. Teresa: about (more) / chaplet /  facts / Infant of Prague / little way of piety / novena / poems / prayers /  quotes (more) / saint…   St. Thérèse of Lisieux: 54 incredible photos taken by her sister, Celine / 1873-1897 / about / Carmelite / celestial roses / centenary / chaplet / faith endures in the dark / feast day homilyhistory / holy face / inspiration / invocation / life / live simply in great love / oblation / Oct 1 / little way / novena / petitions / prayer / relic / secret of the little waystory…  Story of a soul (1898; free): audio / ebook…  Various rosaries & chaplets…  Vatican mystery solved: An old photo identifies 4 nuns who cataloged half a million stars…  Venerable Margaret:  1619-1648 (Parigot) / aboutbiographybookchaplet / religious order

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Holy relics…  In good time…  Kindred acorns…  Making meaning…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret

Two prompt replies

New Year’s Eve 2010, I began an experiment.  I wrote five notecard messages and mailed them the following day.

Of the five, I received two responses: an email within days and a five-page letter shortly thereafter.

The email exchanges continued only for a few days; but the letter exchange became a mutual expression of friendship, joy, and sharing that continues on a regular basis even in 2012.

Old wives’ tale

So maybe just maybe there’s something to be said about Tía Quina’s urban legend regarding New Year’s Eve: “Whatever you’re doing as the old year passes sets the tone for what awaits you in the new year, so be sure your house is clean and all else is in order?”  Or maybe it was just plain contrivance on my part to lend credence to the old wives’ tale while simultaneously doing my small part to bolster the economic status of the United States postal service?

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Of course, 2011 may simply have been a serious case of mail tag— for every letter received, one was sent in return— but 2012 already appears to be a continuation of New Year’s Eve 2010.

Tía Quina’s theory

Therefore, based on personal observation and the log I kept of both incoming and outgoing letters from and to friends and acquaintances, respectively, my well-timed New Year’s Eve 2010 experiment wasn’t so much about receiving responses from all five to whom I’d initially written.  Instead, Tía Quina’s theory was a more of a predictor of mail to come and go in 2011, refreshing, appealing, and enjoyable for sure!

Two prompt replies

On that note, I have to say that I was thrilled to the moon to receive prompt replies from both Sister in Australia and Father Primo at Franciscan Mission Associates, Saturday, January 14, 2012.  And, oh, what glorious responses they were!

Letter from Sister


Carmelite Monastery – 591 Ballina Road
Goonellabah, NSW 2480 Australia
8/1/12 – Feast of the Epiphany

Praised be the Holy Child Jesus!  Thank you for your lovely card, wishes, letter….

I am happy to hear from you and, as I read your letter, I find the Holy Child Jesus has taken us along the same road of suffering which is grace filled.  I offer my condolences and prayers on [the] passing away of your dear mother….

I will continue to pray for your family… and keep their names under the Child Jesus and ask Little Margaret to help them….

How wonderful [that] you have found your help in the guidance of
St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila).  Our Holy Mother, as we call her, is great and speaks to everyone individually [through] her writings, which were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), after reading her biography, put it down and said this was the truth and became a Catholic and a Carmelite!

With regard to myself, the Holy Child Jesus has given me the grace to share in his sufferings, affronts, and his poverty in a real way.  Finally, one can say [that] Jesus is the only one that matters and repeat [the] fiat: “Jesus, I trust in you!”

I do not have an email address now, nor a computer, [nor] access to the Internet, hence, please write to me….

Today, being Epiphany here, we have a custom in Carmel that the Sister who gets the bean in the cake is the king and chooses the intercessor for the year.  I got the bean (the first time in my sixteen years [at] Carmel!), so I have chosen Little Margaret as the intercessor.  The Little King has arranged all this for his spouse!

A lady in England has been cured of stomach cancer after praying to Little Margaret and [using] the chaplet.  It is being investigated.  Please pray for [its] success.

I pray that the Holy Child Jesus will bless this New Year 2012 for you, Steve, and all your family and make it a brighter one, full of joy and peace.

Thank you… and may St. Teresa help you grow closer to Jesus.

I hold you close to my heart in prayer.  God bless you abundantly….

With loving gratitude….

Sister’s cantique

It is a custom in Carmel to prepare a cantique by each Sister to be sung before the crib during Christmas.  This year I got the card, Going to a Crib in a Farm Cart, [and] this is a copy of it [from] January 3 (our titular Feast of Holy Name).  God bless [you].

The angels singing the mystery which was full of jubilee

Gloria in excelsis deo.  Glory, glory to God.  Alleluia!  Jesus, be my Jesus.

The Baptist pointing to the Lamb of God / The shepherds singing good tidings of joy of the eternal shepherd boy

Verbo caro factum est et habitatarit in nobis!

Hastening in a farm cart in bad weather / In poverty, affronts, and sufferings / On a journey that takes a lifetime / With many falls along the way / Always confident of your merciful hand to pick me up and start afresh / And to sing my fiat— “Jesus, I trust in you”— along the way

The way of nothing takes me quickly / The night of faith, my illumination— porta fidei to our mystical Bethlehem / Where the Eternal Child, God the King of Grace and Glory, is born

To worship the joy of the beauty of Jesus, our Savior / Wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger / Concealing your infinite riches of your divinity / To show your infinite love for us, the Word made flesh

Glory, glory to God.  Alleluia!  Jesus, be my Jesus.

With Mary, his immaculate mother / Adoring the earthly beatific vision of Jesus, the inexpressible sweetness of the incarnation / The face of the Eternal Word

And with Joseph, the shadow of the Eternal Father / In deepest reverence of the Holy Child Jesus / In bright light in the hidden sweetness of the mysteries of the holy childhood

My office at the crib is to be your aid of the verbo caro factum est / The joy of all joys of all the earth / Making visible the Queen of all mysteries / The mystery of the Blessed Trinity

Glory, glory to God.  Alleluia!  Jesus, be my Jesus.

The first drops of your precious blood / Little Lord Jesus, seal and consecrate this New Year 2012 Annus Domini / May thy name, Jesus, resound in our voices / Unite all peoples and all nations around your manger in peace

Glory, glory to God.  Alleluia!  Jesus, be my Jesus.

Maranatha / Come, Lord Jesus.

Letter from Father Primo

FMA11412aFranciscan Mission Associates
274-280 West Lincoln Avenue
P. O. Box 598
Mount Vernon, NY 10551-3017
December 30, 2011

The joy of the Lord fills my heart as I write to wish you His peace, love, and blessings….

Your love, sacrifice, and generous heart have been a source of inspiration for us to go forward.  Your sacrifice is acceptable and pleasing to God and that is why we are able to achieve a little bit of establishing the kingdom of God.  “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Jesus Christ” (Philemon 4:19) is my prayer for you.

Drs. Lanoux, the seminarians and our friars join me to thank you sincerely and pray for you.  Be assured of a remembrance of your intentions in our Novena of Masses in Bethlehem.

May the grace and blessing of the Infant Jesus be with you.


August 3, 2012

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart” (Phyllis Theroux).

December 31, 2016

“New Year’s Eve— this is the moment of beginning again…, the moment in which the old touches the new, in which we offer gratitude to God” (Catherine Doherty).


Links of interest…  Child Jesus: about / chaplet (more) / history / little crown / petitions…  Flower of Carmel (Goonellabah): contact info / home / prayer…  Franciscan Mission Associates…  Hymn to St. Anthony of Padua…  Is there a new etiquette about writing thank-you notes…  Letters of note…  Nine Tuesdays devotion…  Si quaeris miracula: prayer / song

WP posts…   Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Franciscan experience…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  Holy relics…  In good time…  Making meaning…  My Franciscan Crown…  On being Christian…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Prayerful ways…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  Si quaeris miracula…  Soulful…  St. Anthony…  St. Felix…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two letters…  Venerable Margaret

Two letters

Every New Year’s Eve without fail, I remember what my maternal great-aunt, Tía Quina, told me when I was seventeen.

“Whatever you’re doing as the old year passes sets the tone for what awaits you in the new year, so be sure your house is clean and all else is in order.”

Setting priorities

Last year during the holidays, I decided that I wasn’t cleaning house and doing laundry as usual before the new year.  I’d experienced such great success with my letter writing experiment from New Year’s Eve 2010, that I wanted to focus on my correspondence instead.

In 2011, I’d wanted to touch base with Father Robert at Franciscan Mission Associates but missed the opportunity when he was succeeded by Father Primo in October.  Plus, I hadn’t requested two more St. Anthony relics from him as I’d intended.


Similarly, I’d wanted to share my thoughts on Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc, 1979) with Sister at the Flower of Carmel monastery in Australia, since she’d emailed twice early in the year; but I just hadn’t made the time.

With 2011 fast coming to an end, I couldn’t put off either communication any longer.  I got busy writing and finally mailed the two letters with time to spare.

Letter to Sister

27 December 2011

Dearest Sister,

It’s been a very long time since I last wrote and/or emailed; but it’s been a year of bearing my crosses quietly on my own, too.

When I last wrote to you, I was so worried that I was frustrated, tired, and disappointed.  I typed a very long letter and attached it to my email to you.  And then I felt badly, guilty, for having shared my woes….

I took a hard look at the situation which, believe it or not, grew progressively worse; [so] I chose to step away….  to simply let go… and begin my journey.

Long story short, I discovered Teresa of Avila; and, oh, what a difference she’s made in my life!

It’s funny how things happen, but I truly believe that God has his own very personal timeline for each of us.  And wouldn’t you know it?  I started shucking extraneous habits.  Not bad habits but things that kept me from focusing inwardly.

I don’t know how it happened, but I lost interest in emailing and in other things as well.  And I began to discover some pretty amazing stuff.

Every day since you and I have known each other I’ve thought of you, and I’ve been faithful about praying the chaplet you sent me in 2010.  It’s something that’s taken root in my life, [something] that’s as natural as my dialogues with the Infant since before Segy… and I visited Our Lady of Victory Church in Prague (July, 1998).

I think that the more I’ve recited the chaplet prayers the more I’ve learned how to bear my crosses, how to focus my attention on what’s really important, and how to deal with adversity in my life.

Certainly, I’ve had a lot of ta-dah moments: epiphanies that make me laugh or cry or both.  I’ve enjoyed writing about my experiences and [posting] them on my personal blog ‘cause I want others to learn about St. Teresa as well.

It’s amazing how I’ve been able to connect bits and pieces from my life leading to when I read Teresa of Avila and have found that I was readying for her messages [all along].  Her book is such a joyful treasure from God!  A pick-me-up when I need uplifting.  A friend when I need a smile and a sweet hello.

So, yes, bad things have continued to happen; but God’s allowed me to remain focused on what he wants for me to see, to think about, to do.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  As I said, I wrote five posts about St. Teresa’s book for my personal blog [and] found that her messages have been exactly what I’ve needed since I was a child.

St. Teresa has become my mentor, a very loving close friend who’s with me to share her teachings… beautiful, heartfelt… so that I don’t feel alone and/or lost.  She’s helped me understand what it means to tell the Infant that I accept all the crosses he wants to send my way.

Somehow I can make it.  Despite the pain and the sorrow, despite the disappointment and the frustration, despite the anger that I feel against injustices… still… I welcome the crosses.

Mind you, [when] I’m having a tough time… not doing well at all with my crosses… I simply tell the Infant,

Please forgive me.  I’m having a really tough time today.  I’m sorry.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I’ve found inspiration in a little book that’d been waiting on the shelf since April, 2008.

Untouched, forgotten, it called out to me one morning; and, when I began to read it, I couldn’t set it down!  I’ve reread it countless times.  It’s an awesome read!

[So, yes.]  Lots has happened since I last wrote….

Mom died November 29….  She [believed] in prayer, and she loved the Sisters she communicated with.  [She gave] me her oldest sister’s Infant [statue] in 1999 [after my aunt died].

Since I’d faithfully used the chaplet you’d initially sent me, I placed it in mom’s hand before the casket was sealed at the funeral home.  My thinking was that she knew I was devoted to the Infant, so she [can] now join me in prayer from heaven whenever I spend my special time with the Infant….

I’m now praying with the [second] chaplet you sent [even though it was meant for our daughter], and I’m thinking that you’re fine with it.

I also want to thank you again for the six candles you sent with [the second] chaplet.  I lit one… early this year….  [Then] I gave away three [to the couples in] our Why Catholic? group….  The two I have left… are keeping me company until I have a very special reason to use them… or until I gift them to someone.

So you see?  Your gifts have gone a very long way!  The very same way that your prayers have continuously embraced us all this time!

We love you!  Thank you!

Letter to Father Primo

29 December 2011

Dear Father Primo,

In the 1980s, Father Roderick sent me three relics.  Then in the 1990s, Father Robert sent me two.  However, I always manage to give them away to someone who’s in need of everyday miracles and friendship from our beloved St. Anthony.

At this time, I’m asking… please… that you send me five, as there are three couples in our Why Catholic? family and another couple, Olivia and George, in dire need.

I’d like to bead some chaplets for them and print out the prayers so that they, too, can know St. Anthony as I have since age thirteen.

If you could do this for me, I’d be ever so [happy], as I’ve included myself in the five.  You see, I feel… lost without my relic; but, as I said, I gave my last one away when I beaded two chaplets to give to Ruth and Sabrina… at [the] doctor’s office.

Please know that I understand if you can’t send me the number I’ve requested.  It’s fine.  But I do really need one for Olivia because she’s [undergoing surgery, January 23], and I’d like to make her day by giving her a promise of hope through St. Anthony’s intercession.  Plus, George worries a lot about his three adult kids….

Thanks ever so much for all you do.  Know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers… the same way Father Roderick was, the same way Father Robert was.

God bless you and your Franciscan associates abundantly!


God of all time, on this New Year’s Day we place the days and months of the new year into your hands and we pray, “Lord, hear our prayer.”  Fill our days with the blessings of family, friendship, laughter, and love.  We pray, “Lord, hear our prayer.”  Show us ways to spend our time serving your children in need.  We pray, “Lord, hear our prayer.”  Help us appreciate the time we have to listen to your Word and to talk with you in prayer.  We pray, “Lord, hear our prayer” (R. L. Benziger, 2016).

In the year ahead, Lord of New Beginnings, stretch our souls and move us into new awareness of the human family, their needs and their longings.

Make these into our needs, our longings so [that] we move more confidently from our small selves to a deeper sense of community where our resolutions reflect our interdependence.

Help us recognize the possibilities you have offered to us as a people, so we can commit to practice the hope that happens when we gather gratefully n your name and we hold up to you this fragile, precious world.

Grant us all the grace in this year ahead to sow the seeds of justice and to gather peace in our day.  Amen (Capuchin Communications: Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, 2016).

August 3, 2012

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart” (Phyllis Theroux).

December 31, 2016

The past is no longer yours; the future is not yet in your power.  You have only the present wherein to do good (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

Links of interest…  Child Jesus: chaplet (more) / history / little crown / petitions…  Flower of Carmel (Goonellabah): contact info / home / prayer…  Franciscan Mission Associates…  Help from heaven…  Hymn to St. Anthony of Padua…  Journalism as an act of grace…  Letters of note…  Nine Tuesdays devotion…  Si quaeris miracula: prayer / song…  St. Anthony’s Guild: devotions / ecards / prayer requests / prayers

WP posts…   Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Franciscan experience…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  Holy relics…  In good time…  Making meaning…  My Franciscan Crown…  On being Christian…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Prayerful ways…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  Si quaeris miracula…  Soulful…  St. Anthony…  St. Felix…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret

Budding relationships

SJC4311-95      SJC4311-93

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

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.

Other than developing a lifelong personal relationship with St. Jude and St. Anthony along the way, I didn’t delve into the lives of the other saints until I created our church website, May 2008.  So maybe I was supposed to learn about them on my own?

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 of Padua

On the other hand, my unfaltering companion since age thirteen has been St. Anthony.  I learned about him from my great-aunt, Tía Queta.

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. Teresa of Avila

Over the years, too, I’ve learned that it’s not uncommon for St. Anthony to be displayed near St. Teresa, 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.

Lord, grant that I may always allow myself to be guided by you, always follow your plans, and perfectly accomplish your holy will.  Grant that in all things, great and small, today and all the days of my life, I may do whatever you require of me.  Help me respond to the slightest prompting of your grace so that I may be your trustworthy instrument for your honor.  May your will be done in time and in eternity by me, in me, and through me.  Amen.

Moreover, parishes I’ve frequented that honor St. Anthony, St. Teresa, 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. Teresa, 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).

April 13, 2017

The calendar of saints should remind us of the unreliability of appearances.  Theirs is a greatness grander than size and a prominence more cogent than popularity (Rev. George W. Rutler in Hints of Heaven).

November 1, 2017

“The saints were just like us… with one difference: they strove, in everything they did, to discover Jesus and to live as signs and servants of his presence” (Fr. Joseph Esper in Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems).

November 11, 2017

The Church has given us the gift of the saints to show that God does great things in people’s lives.  The saints, after all, were ordinary people, too.  They needed to call on the Lord for help.

By actively praising God and giving thanks, our hearts will find the resting place that we so desire (Jeff Cavins in Praise God and Thank Him: Biblical Keys to a Joyful Life).

November 1, 2018

The light of [the saints’] example shines down on us and makes it easier sometimes to see what we ought to do.  They can help us with their prayers— strong prayers, wise prayers— when ours are feeble and blind.  When you look out on a November evening and see the sky all studded with stars, think of those innumerable saints in heaven, all ready to help you (R. A. Knox).

August 8, 2019

“To believe in saints means only to sense in them God’s presence” (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in Edith Stein: The Life and Legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).

June 25, 2020

Saints are ordinary people with the compassion of the Father in their souls, the humility of Jesus in their minds, and the love of the Spirit in their hearts.  When these beautiful qualities grow day by day in everyday situations, holiness is born (Mother Angelica’s Guide to Practical Holiness).

August 13, 2020

“To believe in saints, means only to sense in them God’s presence” (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in Edith Stein: The Life and Legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).

St. Benedict Church – San Benito, TX


St. Joseph Church – Port Aransas, TX

Links of interest…  Alban ButlerLives of the Saints…  Ancient, secular reason why saints are shown with halos…  Apostles, major saints, & feast days…  Artist John McCoy paints the saints for Michigan parish…  Being spiritually active in everyday life…  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…  Prague (Christmas)…  Prayer to the saints: One in the body…  Sainthood isn’t for the strong…  Saints: better than superheroes / calendars & feast dayscrises / ever wonder how a saint is made / for Pentecost / friendship / ordinary people driven by great loveour friends in a really high placeovercoming boredom / patron saint list / resourcestill being made / stories for all ages / 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. Teresa of Avila: about (more) / chaplet / daily prayersfacts / Infant of Prague / little way of piety / novena / poems / prayers /  quotes (more) / saint…  Strange gods before me: Do Catholics worship saints & statues…  Ten ways to grow in friendship with Jesus & Mary...  There is still no patron saint for pizza…  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

Seven dwelling places

MPBC63012-73 Teresa of Avila received the inspiration for The Interior Castle one Sunday in 1577, and then wrote about the experience from the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity until the eve before the feast of St. Andrew.

I’m, literally, just like the parrots that are taught to speak; they know no more than what they hear or are shown, and they often repeat it.  If the Lord wants me to say something new, His Majesty will provide.

The one who ordered me to write told me that the nuns in these monasteries of Our Lady of Mount Carmel need someone to answer their questions about prayer and that he thought they would better understand the language used between women; and, because of the love they bore me, they would pay more attention to what I would tell them (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979, pp. 2-3).

First impressions

When I first saw Teresa of Avila among the books for sale atop a table at the Old Dominion University book store more than three years ago, I was interested not only because our Why Catholic? friends— Sam and Ning, Gary and Junebug, and Neli-Beli— might want to read the book, but also because there happened to be three copies available.  Exactly what I needed.

However, as I stated in a previous post, one of the books had a teeny tiny imperfection, a bit of lamination very slightly torn on its back cover; so I chose to give away only the two good copies and kept the third, knowing that I’d most likely never read it.

Of course, God had his own personal agenda; so I laughingly submit that his wisdom and patience trumped my preconceived notions yet again.

Treasure trove

Teresa of Avila’s one-hundred-forty pages are so captivating that, like a number one bestseller, the book remains atop the overlapping stack on the desk beside my workspace regardless of what I’m reading.

Based on the saint’s original work, The Interior Castle, this vade mecum is a description of the seven dwelling places of the soul.  And, while its proximity is reassurance enough, its wisdom comforts and inspires intuitively like a forever friend.

In fact, I’ve enjoyed the book so much that I typed all the scribbles I made in the margins and then some just to have a simple set of notes to ponder whenever I please.

The interior castle

The castle is a multifaceted diamond with dwelling places similar to heaven’s many rooms above, below, and to the sides.  The heart of the castle is “where the very secret exchanges between God and the soul take place” (p. 7) after the soul learns to enter within itself.

The castle’s so well guarded that some souls in the courtyard are totally oblivious of the treasure within.  Yet others manage to slow down enough to acknowledge the need to enter.

Although there’s no remedy for those who do lip service or don’t bother to pray, some do become aware that prayer and reflection are the key to the castle.

First dwelling places

Souls who enter the lower rooms are so deaf and dumb that they fail to notice the castle’s beauty because of the “worms and vile, venomous reptiles” that creep in as well (p. 11).  These souls have good intentions, but they’re more concerned with business and worldly things.  Occasionally, however, they entrust themselves to God, pray and reflect, realize they’re on the wrong path, and want to change their ways.

St. Teresa tells us that, in these first dwelling places, God grants favors to whomever he chooses to reveal his glory and awaken the soul to a greater love (p. 9).  Of course, there are many kinds of favors and many differences among them.  Still, God’s so merciful and loving that he can do whatever he wants.

It will be a great consolation when the Lord grants them to you if you know that they are possible; and for anyone to whom he doesn’t, it will be a great consolation to praise his wonderful goodness (p. 8).

Second dwelling places

The souls who advance to the second level are barraged by constant reminders, “position in life, family, friends, health, and other obstacles,” that draw them back to the first rooms (p. 16).  Faith helps them refocus, however, as they reason that God truly loves them (p. 17) and wants them near.

Here, souls know that God will provide as long as they don’t falter.  They hear God’s voice calling not only through other people, homilies, and good books but also through “illnesses, trials, and the truths God teaches even during brief, lukewarm moments in prayer” (p. 15).

Souls in the second dwelling places can overcome trials and dangers through good companions and mentors.  They can also choose to embrace the cross and seek to do God’s will (p. 18).

His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us.  There’s no need advising him about what he should give us, for he can rightly tell us that we don’t know what we’re asking for (Matthew 20:22; p. 19).

St. Teresa advises against becoming discouraged.  God allows the venomous creatures to bite, so the soul can learn to guard itself as it proves itself to God.  “For even from this fall God will draw out good, as does the seller of an antidote who drinks some poison in order to test whether his antidote is effective” (p. 20).

The key, again, is prayer.

When one stumbles, begin anew.  Then, ask for understanding to avoid temptation and don’t give up.

To enter the castle love God, have faith, and do good works.  To receive God’s blessings consider how much is owed him, one’s smallness in comparison, and all that must be achieved to merit God’s goodness and mercy.  To enter heaven know oneself, reflect on one’s sins, and acknowledge God’s favors with gratitude (p. 22).

Third dwelling places

Souls arrive at this level through perseverance and God’s mercy.  They’ve remained on the right path but live on the edge, not knowing when or if the enemy will attack.  They understand God’s will and are greatly blessed (p. 24), since they’ve been “favored greatly by God for being let in” (p. 27).

These souls are very much aware that life without God is death but that happiness stems from pleasing God.

Consider that this happiness was had— and in much greater degree— by some saints who fell into serious sins and that we are not sure that God will help us to get free from these sins and to do penance for them (p. 25).

Souls in the third dwelling places look to Our Lady for guidance, converse with God, practice prayer, and withdraw from the world and its evils (p. 26).  Additionally, these souls are charitable, balanced in all aspects, and can enter the final dwelling places if they so choose (p. 27).  Nevertheless, they must stay alert and do their best not to offend God.

St. Teresa writes that these souls endure unbearable trials, even when they’re not to blame (p. 28).  Yet, God rewards those who prove their love in thought, word, and deed.

To stay on course, one must walk the talk, detach from worldly things, consider oneself a servant of God, and not make demands on God (p. 29).

He did nothing else but serve us all the time he lived in this world.  And yet we ask him again and again for favors and gifts (p. 30).

Instead, one should reflect on one’s trials to gain understanding which leads to humility, peace, conformity, and greater contentment even though human nature tends to prefer a more convenient, less painful route.

We are fonder of consolations than we are of the cross.  Test us, O Lord— for you know the truth— so that we may know ourselves (p. 30).

Fourth dwelling places

In this the most populated of the seven dwelling places, souls are so transformed by God’s love that they willingly serve him.  With every consolation received, these souls long to please God more and more and enjoy his company (p. 32).

St. Teresa describes the effects of spiritual delights and prayer in this part of her book.  She also reveals how to gain favor with God.

“Two fountains, two troughs”

The soul is either an external, noisy aqueduct that fills inwardly or an internal, quiet spring that flows outwardly (p. 33).

Of the two, the natural source is one of God’s favors— a spiritual delight “fashioned from the purest gold of the divine wisdom” (p. 33)— “given only to whom God wills to give it and often when the soul is least thinking about it” (p. 36).  This special water fills everything and affects one’s entire being (p. 34).

To gain favor, however, one must be centered on God, amenable to his will, contrite, and humble.  Since God’s not obligated to do anything for anyone, one must “be willing to labor in vain” to “win his listening ear” (p. 36).

When God grants the favor it is a great help to seek him within, where he is found more easily and in a way more beneficial to us than when sought in creatures, as St. Augustine says after having looked for him in many places (p. 39).


Finding one’s way back to God through prayer brings about changes: losing interest in worldly matters, wanting solitude, reflecting on what was lost, and rebuilding one’s castle “without contrivance” (p. 38).

Listening attentively in silence, begging for God’s mercy, and waiting with humility are what Peter of Alcántara refers to as love awakened (p. 41).  Other practices include penance, good deeds, resignation to God’s will, and thinking of oneself last (p. 42).

Once the great King, who is in the center dwelling place of this castle, sees their good will, he desires in his wonderful mercy to bring them back to him.  Like a good shepherd, with a whistle so gentle that even they themselves almost fail to hear it, he makes them recognize his voice and stops them from going so far astray and brings them back to their dwelling place.  And this shepherd’s whistle has such power that they abandon the exterior things in which they were estranged from him and enter the castle (p. 39).

Yet, some souls draw inwardly all on their own.  The more room they make for God, the more favors they receive.  God calls them to advance; and they, in turn, give thanks and praise for his countless blessings (p. 40).

Quiet recollection

When one surrenders to love through the prayer of quiet recollection, the soul’s capacity grows and service to God becomes liberating.  The soul’s no longer preoccupied with hell, penance, and health (p. 44).  Instead, one does more for God, bears crosses with patience, and casts aside worldly delights (p. 45).

Fifth dwelling places

Souls in the fifth dwelling places seek only to please God.

Here, tiny lizards may “poke their slender heads in as thoughts from one’s imagination that can be ignored as nuisances;” but they can’t enter (p. 53).  In this secret place, God works his wonders undisturbed.

God so places himself in the interior of that soul that, when it returns to itself, it can in no way doubt that it was in God and God was in it.  This truth remains with it so firmly that, even though years go by without God’s granting that favor again, the soul can neither forget nor doubt… (pp. 55-56).

Thus enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the soul prepares for its journey and “starts to live… through the general help given to us all by God… by going to confession, reading good books, and hearing sermons” (p. 59).

Silkworm analogy

“The silkworm, which is fat and ugly, then dies; and a little white butterfly, which is very pretty, comes forth from the cocoon” (p. 59).  Similarly, the soul makes God its dwelling place and dies to self-love, self-will, and earthly attachments (p. 60).

The soul feels so unworthy of this blessing that it longs to praise God.

It would want to dissolve and die a thousand deaths for him.  It soon begins to experience a desire to suffer great trials without its being able to do otherwise.  There are the strongest desires for penance, for solitude, and that all might know God; and great pain comes to it when it sees that he is offended (p. 61).

Transformed, the soul feels out of place in the world; but the decision to advance isn’t God’s to make.  The soul alone must choose its path.

Life’s subsequent crosses will be heavier than before; the pain, excruciating.  Yet, the soul’s weaknesses will become strengths; and acceptance will yield “deep peace and happiness” (p. 63).

“Oh great delight, to suffer in doing the will of God!” (p. 66).

Sixth dwelling places

“O God help me, what interior and exterior trials the soul suffers before entering the seventh dwelling place!” (p. 68).

Here, trivial afflictions— gossip, nonacceptance, and personal attacks— are so severe and long in duration that all seems lost (p. 69).  Even personal praise wreaks havoc in one’s life (p. 70).  Additionally, souls in the sixth dwelling places undergo serious illnesses, acute pain, and doubting confessors (p. 72) along with dry spells that are “torments between times of favors” (p. 73).

Bearing one’s crosses

Nevertheless, God allows one to be tested (p. 74) to the degree that he chooses (p. 77).  He “wants us to know our own misery and that he is King; and this is very important for what lies ahead” (p. 76).

Since there’s no escaping these trying times— no place to go, no one to talk to, no consolation, and neither solitude nor prayer helps— the best remedy is to do good works and hope for God’s mercy (p. 75).

God’s favor

Yet, in the midst of all the suffering, the soul is soundlessly awakened “as with a thunderclap” (p. 78).  God’s “action of love is so powerful that the soul dissolves with desire, and yet it doesn’t know what to ask for, since clearly it thinks that God is with it” (p. 80).

In turn, God’s favor, “felt as clearly as a loud voice,” must be received with gratitude (p. 82).

To be continued…


Sweet Jesus, I desire neither life nor death but your most holy will.  You are the one, O Lord, that I long for.  If it be your holy will to have me die, receive my soul and grant that, in you and with you, I may receive everlasting rest.  If it be your holy will to have me live longer upon this earth, give me the grace to amend the rest of my life and, with good works, to glorify your holy name.  Amen.

July 5, 2011

Lord, test me and search me.  I want to hold onto your blessings no matter what (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 26).

July 13, 2011

Lord, I will go wherever you lead— so long as you are with me.  Open my heart to sense your calling and presence today (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 34).

July 18, 2011

Lord, your cross [is all] I need— all the compassion, all the healing, and all the joy.  With my eyes fixed on you, I can handle every situation! (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 39).

November 12, 2011

“Let us bear our cross and leave it to God to determine the length and the weight” (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, 1759-1852).

March 1, 2012

Lord, today I surrender everything to you.  I want to do nothing without you.  May all that I do for others be done for love of you— and in the power of your Spirit (the Word among us, Lent 2012, p. 36).

November 5, 2012

Father, I am content to sit silently with you.  Just to be with you, to enjoy your presence, is enough.  In you I have found my peace! (the Word among us, November 2012, p. 24).

February 8, 2013

God wishes to test you like gold in the furnace.  The dross is consumed by the fire, but the pure gold remains and its value increases (St. Jerome Emiliani).

October 15, 2013

“When once I had seen the great beauty of the Lord, I saw no one by comparison on whom my thoughts wished to dwell” ( St. Teresa of Jesus).

November 13, 2013

Know that gratitude for God’s benefits is one of the riches of the soul and that ingratitude dries up the fountain of divine graces.  Give your tribute of gratitude often to the most loving Jesus (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini).

November 18, 2013

We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self….  The truest crosses are those we do not choose ourselves….  He who has Jesus has everything (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

January 4, 2014

“The union of my soul with God is my wealth in poverty and [my] joy in deepest afflictions” (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).

March 22, 2014

Let us take refuge like deer beside the fountain of waters.  Let our soul thirst, as David thirsted, for the fountain.  What is that fountain?  Listen to David: With you is the fountain of life.  Let my soul say to this fountain: When shall I come and see you face to face?  For the fountain is God himself (St. Ambrose in “Flight from the World”).

March 24, 2014

Know, O beautiful soul, that you are the image of God.  Know that you are the glory of God.  Know then, O man, your greatness, and be vigilant (St. Ambrose).

April 4, 2014

All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.  By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned (St. Isidore of Seville).

April 24, 2014

“We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials” (St. Teresa of Avila).

June 25, 2014

“Our Lord loves you and loves you tenderly; and, if he does not let you feel the sweetness of his love, it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina).

August 18, 2014

Since love grows within you, so beauty grows.  For love is the beauty of the soul (St. Augustine).

November 15, 2014

“He who enters into the secret place of his own soul passes beyond himself and does in very truth ascend to God” (St. Albert the Great).

February 4, 2015

“Acquire interior peace and a multitude will find its salvation through you”
(St. Seraphim).

August 1, 2015

“A soul that loves God is loved by him, and God himself comes to dwell in her” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

November 30, 2016

“After Andrew spends the entire day with Jesus, he does not keep the treasure for his personal benefit, but hastens to share it with his brothers” (St. John Chrysostom).

January 13, 2017

“Christ is the wellspring of our life” (St. Hilary).

April 2, 2017

We must be firmly convinced that we have nothing of our own, except our vices and sins.  We must all be on our guard against pride and empty boasting and beware of worldly or natural wisdom.  A worldly spirit loves to talk a lot but does nothing, striving for the exterior signs of holiness that people can see, with no desire for true piety and interior holiness of spirit (St. Francis of Assisi).

July 9, 2017

Always, it seems, there is the “enemy” beyond the walls, which may be of our own making, who wants to sneak in and take over our city, appropriating as his or her own the property and goods and people within.  And those of us within know and fear this threat to our lives and, in turn, wall ourselves in for protection, even though the “enemy” may already be inside our walls, may in fact reside within our own walled-in hearts (Murray Bodo, OFM in Enter Assisi: An Invitation to Franciscan Spirituality).

August 19, 2017

Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desires, and his disposition live and reign there.  All our religious exercises should be directed to this end (St. John Eudes).

September 20, 2017

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly” (Richard David Bach).

January 14, 2019

The effort of the soul must be to fill the mind so full of healthy thoughts that there is no room for others— trying not so much not to think of what is evil as to think of what is good (Fr. Basil W. Maturin in Christian Self-Mastery).


Links of interest…  Carmelites: Ask a Carmelite Sister / September martyrs…  Christian prayer…  Consolation & desolation…  Convento de Santa Teresa (Avila, Spain)…  Cultivating true contrition…  Do not be afraid of silence…  Embracing our faith journey…  Hearing God’s voice…  Here I am, Lord: one / two / three (YouTube)…  Interior castle: ebook / meditations (book review) / take & read / video…  Lord, when you came: composer (Cesário Gabaráin, 1979) / lyrics / pescador de hombres (YouTube) / seashore song & lyrics (Assumption College chapel choir)…  Most Holy Trinity…  On hearing God speak…  Our Lady of Mount Carmel: about / brown scapular / feast / history / novena / order / poetry & prayer / prayer request…  St. Andrew: day / feast…  St. Teresa of Avila: about (more) / biography  (more) / book (more) / chaplet / doctor (more – first woman) / feast day / foundress / frases / friendship with Jesus / headaches / history / holiness & works / interior castle (more – video) / litany / memorial / mystic / novena / poems / prayers / quotes (more – more) / saint (more) / tribute (movie) / union with Godvideos…  Symbols of the spiritual journey…  What stage is your faith…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Gift of love…  Gifts…  Growing pains…  In good time…  Making meaning…  Prayerful ways…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies


Up until the summer of my fifth year, my father was my teacher, caregiver, mentor, best friend, and protector.  His illness kept him homebound, so he babysat my six-month-old brother and me while mom worked to support our family.

Early trials

Dad died in July and things changed.  Mom didn’t want me wasting my time at home, but the public school in our neighborhood wouldn’t take me.  I was too young for first grade and there was no kindergarten.

Mom couldn’t take time from work, so she asked her youngest sister to talk to the nuns and enroll me in Catholic school.

I was accepted only because I was the tallest kid in class.  Never mind that I was just five and had no idea what was going on.  Never mind that I had to learn to be responsible for getting up and dressing on my own.  Never mind that I had to ride the city bus to town by myself, though I did have Crucito, the neighborhood baker’s son, to sit with on the ride home from school.

Still, I learned early on that fending for myself didn’t come with guarantees.   I lost part of my bus fare, one of two nickels, the day I had tuna for lunch.  Vomiting, with a terrible fever, I had to walk home twenty-five blocks.

Thank God for Crucito’s third grade wisdom and his big brother thoughtfulness.  He chose to accompany me instead of taking the bus that afternoon.

Soulful encounter

My first and only year at Immaculate Conception School left indelible imprints for sure, but the memory of all memories occurred within the first hour of my first day at school.

ICS42011-3-soulsDuring our cursive writing lesson, I had a very personal encounter with the three souls adhered to the closet doors in the back of the classroom.

I raised my hand for the first time in my young life to politely ask a question. 

“Could you please tell me if I’m making the capital A correctly?”

ICS42011-cap-AObserving my first feat forming a large slanted oval with a little curved tail added to its right bottom side, the unsmiling nun led me by the hand to the poster with the totally blackened soul.

“Put out your hands,” she chided, and then whacked the knuckled sides hard with a little green ruler she’d pulled from her pocket. 

“Now, go back to your seat!”

Unexpected outcomes

I never asked another question in class, which is why I once had an accident during the big silence right before dismissal time.

For what seemed like an eternity, I’d contemplated the pros and cons of asking permission to go to the bathroom; but I wasn’t sure how the nun would respond.

Then, just like that, I didn’t have to ask.

My body lost control and flooded the floor space all around me as my classmates watched the growing puddle in horror and disbelief.

I’ll never forget Crucito’s wide-eyed shock as I crossed the street to where he stood waiting for me after school.  He was a mix of what-happened-to-you, what-do-I-say, and she-must-feel-terrible as he checked me out from waist to hemline and then back again.

Crucito didn’t laugh, much less ask, about my dark wet, light dry teal uniform.  Instead, we walked in silence along the church sidewalk to the bus stop a block away.  Being a sensitive boy, Crucito understood my embarrassment.

And he never brought it up.  Ever.

Lasting impression

Almost a lifetime later when Segy was a high school freshman and we belonged to Sacred Heart Church in Brownsville, our celebrant at Sunday Mass was someone other than our parish priest.

“Man’s soul is an exquisite, multifaceted crystal,” the priest said, captivating us with his gentle knowing.

Segy and I wanted to hear more, but the visiting priest never returned.

If I knew where his church was, we could drive there for Sunday Mass, I thought.  But it never happened.

Sometime later we learned that the priest had died, but the news never kept me from wondering what else we could’ve learned from him.

Teresa of Avila

More than a decade since, I’ve discovered St. Teresa who similarly describes the soul as “a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places” (John 14:2; Avila, 1577; Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979, p. 6).

Reflecting on Teresa of Avila the last couple of months, I’ve wondered, Was the priest referring to St. Teresa’s book?  If so, how would my life have been impacted had I known about (and read) her book all those years ago?

On the other hand, how does one miss out on spiritual growth when one has no idea that anything’s missing?

Still, since reading St. Teresa’s book I feel embraced and fortified somehow; so maybe earlier awareness would’ve made a difference after all.

St. Teresa

Now a daily companion, St. Teresa’s staying power is her genuineness.  She appeals to my intellect, but she’s also that special friend and mentor I needed as a child.  She cares so deeply about my relationship with God that her writing nurtures my spirit.

St. Teresa understands how easily human nature refutes and refuses truth to avoid making personal changes, so she shares her knowledge and experience without exerting pressure.  She also personalizes her narratives with descriptive analogies and anecdotes that complement her finely woven tapestry.

St. Teresa is quite an amazing teacher.

The interior castle

In her book, St. Teresa refers to the “sublime dignity and beauty” (p. 7) of the soul, which is infinitely more valuable than the body but which is easily overlooked since it can’t be seen.

My analogy is this: We’re obsessed with looking good, so we buy expensive hair care products.  From shampoos and conditioners to coloring kits and more, we ignore the facts.  Hair consists of dead cells, while internal organs and the skin through which hair grows, are malnourished and taken for granted.  We accentuate the exterior and forget (disregard) what’s within.

St. Teresa also writes that one’s innermost soul is the place where God delights in spending time with us, his creations.  To be near him “the soul is advised to enter within itself…” (p. 9).

The Lord manifests himself to those who pause while in peace and humility of heart….  God, in order to be able to speak to the soul and fill it with the knowledge of his love, leads it to the solitude, detaching it from preoccupations of earthly things.  He speaks to the ears of those who are silent and makes them hear his secrets (St. Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231).

Like the many facets of the diamond and the crystal, the interior castle has “many dwelling places: some up above, others down below, others to the sides; and in the center and middle is the main dwelling place where the very secret exchanges between God and the soul take place” (p. 7).

Yet The Interior Castle focuses on just seven dwelling places.

After all, St. Teresa’s purpose isn’t to overwhelm but to inform, clearly and concisely, so that we who choose to be enlightened can partake of the wonderful blessings God has in store for us.

Unintended consequences

Looking back on my first day at school I don’t know what I did to upset the nun; but that one year of Catholic school is forever etched into my pea brain as the bookmark in my book of life, since past personal experiences, though seemingly meaningless at the time, eventually have purpose (p. 98).

??????????Unintended consequences are when you had the intention of providing one service or message, and users interpret and practice it in ways you didn’t think of.  The unintended consequences often have more significance than one might think (Claude Bernard, French physiologist, 1813-1878).

Certainly, as a classroom teacher, I was keenly sensitive to my students’ needs.  But, beyond that, was the green ruler incident my personal introduction to the soul?

Soulful experience

While I do guilt well— Steven’s comical take on my being Catholic— I’m not altogether preoccupied with the three souls, just as I don’t give thought to ending up in heaven or hell.  Instead, I’m focused on personal growth and my evolving spirituality through my relationship with God who loves me unconditionally, the way dad loved me.  And it’s God’s love for me, not the fear of hell or the desire for heaven, that fuels my existence.

Jesus-SondraLauneyMoreover, as I journey through life I’m very much aware that, in as much as God waits patiently for us to show him even a little of the love he feels for us, his desire to have us close is so strong “that from time to time he calls us to draw near him” (pp. 15-16).

And, when he can no longer wait, God takes the entire soul, closing all doors except the one leading to him (p. 99) and places us wherever he wants, just as he brought Steven and me to the seashore, to help us make good on the promises we’ve made him (p. 130).

Then Jesus, in turn, matches our good works so that even more is offered to God (p. 136) in thanksgiving and praise.

December 2, 2011

At mom’s funeral this morning, I learned from a mutual friend, Jerry, who still lives on Dan Street where I grew up, that “Crucito died about two and a half years ago.”

I was stunned!

More than a childhood friend, Crucito was my steadfast guardian, my big brother who took me to school dances.  Always sweet and joyful to see me the few times we bumped into each other as adults, Crucito loved me unconditionally.

I’ll treasure him until the end of time!

January 19, 2012

Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul may keep the path but will not reach the goal.  While he who walks in love may wander far, yet God will bring him where the blessed are (Henry Van Dyke, 1852-1933).

February 4, 2012

Jesus, I want to come away with you for a while.  Refresh me, renew me, and strengthen me.  Then send me out to build your kingdom (the Word among us, February 1-21, 2012, p. 24).

October 28, 2012

The human heart is made this way.  God himself does not enter it by force but knocks at the door: “Open your heart to me, my child” (St. Eugene de Mazenod in a letter to Fr. Boisrame, September 1858).

December 3, 2012

“I love you not because you have the power to give heaven or hell, but simply because you are— my king and my God” (St. Francis Xavier).

August 20, 2013

Lord, show me who I really am!  Fill me with confidence, courage, and the zeal to serve you with all my heart! (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 70).

October 22, 2013

“Lord Jesus, I want to be ready to welcome you however you choose to knock on my door today” (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 42).

October 31, 2013

“O God, I put myself into your hands with infinite confidence because you are my Father” (Blessed Charles de Foucauld).

November 12, 2013

Lord, thank you for filling me with your love!  Lord, I want to serve you with my whole life! (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 33).

November 29, 2013

The Jewish view of God is not static or frozen in any time or place.  It is constantly growing, changing, expanding.  For even though God is constant, people are forever growing and developing.  So each person, in each generation, must discover, understand, describe, and relate to God in his or her own way, out of his or her own life experiences (Dosick, 1995, p. 9).

May 1, 2014

“In the evening of our lives we shall be judged on love” (St. John of the Cross).

June 28, 2014

In everything we do God considers our disposition rather than our actions.  And so, whether we retire mentally to God in earnest contemplation and remain at rest or whether we are intent on being of service to those around us with good works and worthy undertakings, let our object be that we are motivated only by love of Christ.  So the really acceptable offering of purification of the spirit is that which is rendered not in a man-made temple, but in the temple of the heart where Christ the Lord is pleased to enter
(St. Laurence Justinian, 1381-1456).

August 13, 2014

“When you really give yourself to God, no difficulty will be able to shake your optimism” (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

August 19, 2014

He belongs to you; but more than that he longs to be in you, living and ruling in you as the head lives and rules in the body.  He wants his breath to be in your breath, his heart in your heart, and his soul in your soul (St. John Eudes).

October 17, 2014

“My desire is to belong to God” (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

November 7, 2014

Believe that he loves you.  He wants to help you himself in the struggles which you must undergo.  Believe in his love, his exceeding love (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity).

November 11, 2014

God leaves us free, but when we do respond to grace and we do choose to use the gifts he has given us to work for his honor and glory, he blesses our efforts and makes them fruitful.  In the light of grace the work is transformed (Aquinas College, 2014).

February 1, 2015

“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if he wants anything of you, he will fit you for the work and give you strength” (St. Philip Neri).

February 16, 2015

Perfection of life is the perfection of love.  For love is the life of the soul
(St. Francis de Sales).

March 2, 2015

“The soul who is in love with God is a gentle, humble, and patient soul” (St. John of the Cross).

April 3, 2015

“The body dies when the soul departs, but the soul dies when God departs”
(St. Augustine of Hippo).

May 20, 2015

Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going (John 14: 1-4).

December 3, 2015

“I love you not because you have the power to give heaven or hell, but simply because you are— my king and my God” (St. Francis Xavier, SJ).

March 21, 2016

Then [Benedict] adds: “All that we once performed with dread we will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, no longer out of fear of hell, but rather out of love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue” (Rule of St. Benedict 7:67 – Humility).

We will never be perfect.  Humility is the realization that we are not perfect.  Can we be content with imperfection while knowing that we are doing the best we can to live a holy and loving life?  I pray we can! (Monday Message, Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB, March 21, 2016).

September 1, 2016

“Our perfection does not consist of doing extraordinary things but [of doing] the ordinary well” (St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows).

January 4, 2017

“The grace of even wishing to belong to God must come from himself” (St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton).

May 10, 2017

“Christians who sigh only for heaven… quite often look here below not because they seek the land, but in order to find the way to heaven” (St Francis de Sales in The Sign of the Cross).

June 20, 2017

The process of the purification of our souls is never finished, and will end only with our death.  We must not be upset by our imperfections; instead, we must recognize them and learn to combat them.  And it is in fighting against our imperfections without being discouraged by them that our very perfection consists (St. Francis de Sales).

June 22, 2017

Even if you have never felt loved or struggled to love, being loved is an ever-present reality and a never-to-be broken promise that flows directly from the heart of God.

You are loved, and as Saint Augustine said, “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.”  Think about that!  You are loved exclusively and completely by God.  You don’t have to compete for or earn God’s love or be anybody different from who you are, because God is in love with you (Anne Costa in Healing Promises: The Essential Guide to the Sacred Heart).

September 4, 2017

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

October 5, 2017

“Love the children first, and then teach them” (St. Mother Theodore Guerin).

May 7, 2018

An understanding heart is everything in a teacher and cannot be esteemed highly enough.  One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling (Carl Gustav Jung).

October 26, 2020

“God enters by a private door into every individual” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

October 28, 2020

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul” (Thomas Merton).



Links of interest…  Appearances…  Carmelites…  Chaplin’s little tramp on the road to Emmaus…  Christ inescapable…  Dome blog (Benedictine Sisters)…  Dostoevsky & the glory of guilt…  Flicking bubbles & wrangling babies…  God desires your love…  Growing in Christ: The performance principle…  Henry van Dyke: brainy quote / goodreads…  Hope for eternal joy…  I can’t get the institutional church out of my system…  I had forgotten about St. Therese, but she hadn’t forgotten me…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral: about / Catholic directory (Mass times) / diocesan page (facebook) / historic site / new altarparishes online / website…  Interior castle: e-book / meditations (book review)…  Lord, when you came: composer (Cesário Gabaráin, 1979) / lyrics / pescador de hombres (YouTube) / seashore song & lyrics (Assumption College chapel choir)…  Living Judaism (Dosick)…  Predictor of a successful life…  Sacred Heart Church: parishes online…  Teresa of Avila: 1515-1582 / at 500 / profile / reformer / teacher of prayer…  When saints choose us…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Dear God…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  Gifts…  Gift of love…  Heart of hearts…  In good time…  Making meaning…  Marian devotions…  Memory lane…  One prayer…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Seven dwelling places…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two angels…  Two takes…  Venerable Margaret

Making meaning

Reading Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979) was like eating that exploding candy popular some years ago.  Couldn’t get enough, couldn’t stop the ricocheting, couldn’t describe the experience.

Then I reread the book off and on: In the usual sequence, back to front, front to middle, middle to either end, skipping around, revisiting parts with relish, reviewing my notes in the margins, comparing and contrasting with what I know, figuratively adding the book to my friends list.

Clear message

With all the mental pingbacks I’ve received since reading the book, the ol’ pea brain’s been so full that sharing has been delayed for lack of knowing where to start.  Still, words and phrases from the book persist, and the message is clear: Through prayer, humility, and perseverance one can embrace the cross, surrender to God’s will, and commit one’s life to service.


Teresa of Avila reminds me of St. Dominic, whose prayerful ways centered on God— mind, body, heart, and soul— and St. Anthony, whose chaplet is based on the Miraculous Responsory.   On a more personal level, too, the book provides illumination for my evolving spirituality.


Days prior to finding Teresa of Avila on the hallway shelf, I’d been praying St. Anthony’s chaplet when, quite unexpectedly, I was filled with great awe and understanding.

Oh, my, gosh!  I get it!  I finally get it!  I know what prayer is!

I love my Franciscan Crown, and I’m greatly appreciative of the Child Jesus chaplet that Sister sent me from Australia; but my St. Anthony chaplet is so powerful that I can’t get through the prayers without tearful emotion.

While my Franciscan Crown and my Child Jesus chaplet are alike in that they commemorate special times in the lives of the Blessed Mother and the Holy Infant— some of the mysteries are even the same— St. Anthony’s chaplet is quite different.

Based on the thirteen favors of the Miraculous Responsory, the chaplet builds commitment to God with St. Anthony’s help and requires not my passive recollection, but my proactive engagement.  Its purpose is to help me become a better person, centered on God as the ultimate prize, as
St. Dominic would say.


Timely lesson

What a revelation to be enlightened by the power of prayer!

Was this God’s perfect timing yet again?  Did he, in his infinite wisdom as teacher extraordinaire, prepare me for Teresa of Avila?

Based on prior knowledge and experience, God’s sense of humor is too weird and too timely for me to think otherwise.

What is prayer then?

St. Dominic planted the seed.  St. Anthony nurtured it.  And St. Teresa harvested the crop.

Prayer isn’t asking God for something.  Prayer is embracing the cross.  Prayer is loving God and doing for God without giving thought to what he can do for us in return.

God grants graces to ease the pain, manage the suffering, address the injustices.  He also grants favors to whomever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants.  But not because we ask. 

This is why St. Dominic believed that we should center on God alone, not on petitioning for ourselves and others.

God knows what we need, and he provides accordingly.  In his own time.

Making meaning 

Think about it.  How many times have we asked for something and never received it?  Or we received it but not right away?  Or we received something totally different?  Or we received everything beyond our wildest imaginings along with heavily weighted crosses to bear?

I can think of one prayer I carried in my heart for more than two years.  And, oh, the agony I endured until I finally gave it up.  Completely.

Dear God, you know what’s in my heart.  You know the pain I feel.  But I love you more.  You know best.  I give it up to you.  You know what to do.

It took a lot to let go but, little by little, I was okay again.  Then, within less than a year, I received God’s wonderful surprise.  I was so happy that I couldn’t even remember the misery I’d inflicted on myself for worrying all that time before.

Sadly, I know that I can easily revert to wanting my way again.  Only now I understand better than I did before.  Prayer is loving God unconditionally, entrusting our all to his care no matter what.


I beg you, O Lord, give me the fidelity I need to persevere with humility and constancy in this path of continual adherence to your will.  With your help I will make this practice the center of my interior life.

O my God, shall I ever fall again?  Yes, for I am frailty itself; but I know that you will be even more eager to help me rise again than I shall be prone to fall.  My firm resolution and my perseverance will be to “begin again” every day, every instant, humbling myself profoundly for my weakness, but having utter confidence in your will to sanctify my soul (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD in Divine Intimacy, 2013, p. 19).

St. Dominic’s blessing

May God the Father who made us bless us.  May God the Son send his healing among us.  May God the Holy Spirit move within us and give us eyes to see with, ears to hear with, and hands that your work might be done.  May we walk and preach the word of God to all.  May the angel of peace watch over us and lead us at last by God’s grace to the kingdom.  Amen.

April 30, 2011

Father Robert, OP at the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago shares his Daily Inspiration.

“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:8).

Jesus said over and over again: “Be not afraid.”  Ambivalence can make life difficult.  [Being] irresolute, uncertain, indecisive… can create… anxiety.  Knowing what to do, how to judge, when to decide are all questions that can be the source of much concern and doubt.  Fears can be immobilizing to needed action.  Often our hearts are ambivalent.  In examining and evaluating one’s lifestyle, we can easily perceive that changes are in order.  This certainly is true in our relationship with God.  Spiritual writers tell us that to grow in the spirit we must let go, abandon things with which we feel most in control.  We need to break free and simplify our lives.  We are advised not to cling to things and patterns of behavior but to “let go” and cling to God.  As we move freely forward in life, trust helps us venture out, holding on tightly to God’s hand.  Trust and confidence in God’s loving care and protection are the assurance we need to move ahead in the new and exciting adventure of loving him more.

June 25, 2011

Jesus, I surrender.  I give you all of my sickness, all of my wounds, all of my grief.  You are my only hope, Lord.  Stretch out your hand and touch me with your love (the Word among us, June 2011, p. 44).

July 5, 2011

Father Robert, OP adds this Daily Inspiration.

One of his disciples said; “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1-4).

Sometime when you want to find new meaning in saying the Lord’s Prayer consider the advice of St. Teresa of Avila by saying “The Our Father” backwards.  Start from the end verse.  Mediate on each line and thought as you move toward the beginning.  It starts simply by asking God to help us fight against evil, then proceeds to asking for the needs we have to sustain our lives each day— our daily bread— this is “all that keeps us going,” physically and spiritually and then ends with the grand praise of praise, seeking God’s kingdom on earth in our hearts and in all we do.  It closes with the loving title addressed to God the Father, Abba, calling God our loving, “darling” father.

July 10, 2011

Welcome, Master of the harvest!  Sow your word in every part of me.  Grow whatever crop you desire.  I want to know you and love you more each day (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 31).

August 3, 2012

“The value of persistent prayer is not that God will hear us, but that we will finally hear God” (William McGill).

August 17, 2012

“Pray for the grace” is an excerpt from The Ignatian Adventure (Kevin O’Brien, SJ;

Ignatian spirituality taps into our deepest desires.  In them we can discern God’s noble desires for us.

Thus, at the beginning of each prayer period, Ignatius advises that we pray for a certain grace, or gift from God: “Ask God our Lord for what I want and desire” (SE 48).  Simply naming what we deeply desire opens us to receive the gift God wants to give us.  Moreover, praying for a grace helps us to notice when we actually receive that gift later on.  In this way, we realize that the grace is not of our own making but is the result of God’s generosity to us.  Finally, praying out of our desires grounds us in the present, keeping our prayer “real.”

August 12, 2014

“If we patiently accept through love all that God allows to happen, then we will begin to taste even here on earth something of the delights the saints experience in heaven” (St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

October 16, 2014

“Prayer is ‘a conscious turning to the invisible friend who is always near'” (St. Teresa of Avila).

March 20, 2015

“It is essential to begin the practice of prayer with a firm resolution of persevering in it” (St. Teresa of Avila).

April 22, 2015

Faith believes, hope prays, and charity begs in order to give to others.  Humility of heart forms the prayer, confidence speaks it, and perseverance triumphs over God himself (St. Peter Julian Eymard).

May 19, 2015

“To speak heart to heart with God, you must love to be with him alone” (St. Peter Celestine).

May 22, 2015

Just as God, by the ministry of nature, gives to each animal instincts needed for its preservation and the exercise of its natural properties, so too, if we do not resist God’s grace, he gives to each of us the inspirations needed to live, work, and preserve ourselves in the spiritual life (St. Francis de Sales in Finding God’s will for you).

June 5, 2015

When praying to God, we can only ask for God since he is everything and, in giving himself, he gives us all.  In asking for him, we ask for all.  When we possess him, we can wish and ask for nothing more (Dom Augustin Guillerand in The Prayer of the Presence of God).

August 8, 2015

“We must sow the seed, not hoard it” (St. Dominic).

August 29, 2015

“No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

August 30, 2015

Jesus is waiting for you in the chapel.  Go and find him when your strength and patience are giving out, when you feel lonely and helpless.  Say to him: “You know well what is happening, my dear Jesus.  I have only you.  Come to my aid….”  And then go your way.  And don’t worry about knowing how you are going to manage.  It is enough to have told our good Lord.  He has an excellent memory (St. Jeanne Jugan).

November 13, 2015

If God seems slow in responding, it is because he is preparing a better gift.  He will not deny us.  God withholds what you are not yet ready for.  He wants you to have a lively desire for his greatest gifts.  All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart (St. Augustine).

November 18, 2015

“We cultivate a very small field for Christ; but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self” (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

June 16, 2016

“To love God is something greater than to know him” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

August 20, 2016

There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity.  There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity.  There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is love (St. Bernard).

September 19, 2016

God answers every prayer, but sometimes the answer is no.  And, if it is no, we’re better off— if we love God.  That’s why Jesus wants us to say “thy will be done” in the Our Father.  That is the sure way to happiness— the will of God (Fr. T. G. Morrow in Overcoming Sinful Anger).

January 22, 2017

God is my longing.  In whatever way God comes.  In every form, through every experience and circumstance, painful or otherwise.  God.  Only God (Paula D’Arcy in The Divine Spark).

June 15, 2017

Jesus wants us to trust him to take care of all our yesterdays and tomorrows.  He looks for souls who are willing to see the Father in every happening, then give that circumstance to him to solve, justify, make right, or straighten out.  It is not easy but it is peaceful, for we are bearing good fruit.  God is bearing fruit within us (Mother Angelica on Suffering and Burnout).

June 28, 2017

The only thing that matters in life is doing the will of God.  Once you are doing the will of God, then everything else matters (Hubert van Zeller in Holiness for Housewives).

June 30, 2017

I will attempt, day by day, to break my will into pieces. I want to do God’s holy will, not my own (St. Gabriel Possenti).

July 11, 2018

We must not gauge our devotion by what we feel, but rather by what we are ready to endure.  Indeed, it often happens that God tries the most advanced by letting them experience a coldness and deadness in prayer such as ordinary people seldom experience and none could endure in such times if their love for God were not very deep and strong, ruling and sustaining the will (Fr. Basil W. Maturin in Spiritual Guidelines for Souls Seeking God).

September 9, 2020

“We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can— namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us” (St. Teresa of Avila).


Links of interest…  Carmelites…  Dominican heart from the beginning…  Fight or flight & the wings of prayer…  Focus on holiness: Rejoice & be glad…  Hidden grace of unanswered prayers…  Humble French priest is teaching me to find peace & growth in suffering…  Jesus asks a question…  Letting go…  Love is a call to action (homily)…  Meditations (book review)…  Prayer: petition / six things necessary…  Simple five-step strategy to figure out what you really want…  St. Dominic: about (more) / & the living word (seed) / contemplation / prayer: biographical documentsblessing (song) – feast day – for various virtues – for vocation – litany – nine ways (more) – novena…  St. Jeanne Jugan: 1792-1879 / about / beacon / blog / books / canonization (video; 2009) / contact / Little Sisters of the Poor / memorial (YouTube) / sayings…  Surrender novena: Let Jesus take care of everything…  Teresa of Avila: 1515-1582 / about / author / biography / bookmark / books / bread recipe / chaplet prayers / convent (Avila) / doctor (1970) / feast (Oct 15) / history / interior castle (1921 book online) / patron / poems / prayer / profile / reformer / quotes / saint / timeline / works…  Teresian Carmel…  Wisdom from a 93-year-old singing nun…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Dear God…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  In good time…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  One prayer…  Prayerful ways…  Seven dwelling places…  Si quaeris miracula…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Venerable Margaret

In good time

Late April 2008, I accompanied Steven to a conference he was attending at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Teresa of Avila

The beauty of staying across the street from campus meant that I had access to the bookstore, which I visited daily for hours on end.  And, much to my delight, Follett had a seemingly endless sale on books throughout the store.

Among the many I purchased were three copies of Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979) based on selections from The Interior Castle (Avila, 1577), which I intended to give to Sam and Ning, Junebug and Gary, and Neli-Beli.  However, on inscribing the books at home, I noticed that one copy had an ever so slight irregularity; so I kept it instead.

Mind you, Teresa of Avila didn’t strike me as particularly interesting when I first noticed the books on sale.  The brown, black, white cover was so nondescript and the colors so sedate that I wasn’t the least bit intrigued.  Besides, I had no idea who Teresa of Avila was!  Yet, knowing how much our Why Catholic? group members had enjoyed discussing our read-alouds, I’d thought that the book might appeal to them enough that they’d want to share their perspectives with the rest of us.

Special time

For almost three years, the book remained unnoticed and pretty much hidden on the shelf with other books on spirituality.

Then, a couple of months ago, I awoke with a burning question prompted by The book on St. Anthony’s miracles.  More and more, my wanting to know escalated to my having to find out. 

But how?  Where?

Walking past the hallway shelves, I stopped without realizing what I was doing.  Running my fingers along the book spines, my eye caught sight of a little blue book, so I marked the spot and pulled out the book to read its back cover and its table of contents.

Anthony of Padua: Saint of the People (Wintz, 2005) was the answer to my question.  Only, another book beckoned from near the shelf’s end.

Within moments I had a second book, Teresa of Avila, in tow as I proceeded to my workspace here.

As with so much that happens in life, timing had everything to do with my finding
St. Teresa’s book that Saturday morning.  Over the years, I’ve come to realize that things happen in their own special time.  It’s my Train A / Train B theory, although it could also be called God’s good time.

Dendrite connections 

As Segy was growing up we had lots of really interesting conversations, but the one I revisit most stems from his middle school days.

Our brains are sponges, he said.  They’re forever collecting information left and right, trivial and meaningful, tidbits and tomes.  Our brains get so full that information can’t all be tagged and categorized right away.  It’s like standing in the checkout lane at the grocery store.  Information is processed only as the brain’s dendrites are able to make meaningful connections between the newly acquired and what’s already there.

Listening to Segy, I recalled my Kroger experience.  Since only one lane was open, I couldn’t check out right away.  Standing in line, I actively perused the books on display to make the most of my wait time.  So, yes.  I could easily visualize what Segy was talking about.

The brain’s always ON.  Even when we’re quiet, our senses and our thoughts are still at work.  Even when we forget, the brain remembers what’s etched in long-term memory.

Like a good battery gone dead, all the brain needs is a jumpstart, a sensory experience, that allows it to intuit and remember thoughts lost that had no real value when they were forgotten.

In my case I had a burning desire to quench my thirst, so… ta dah… my hands reached into the bookshelf and effortlessly located the books on St. Anthony and St. Teresa.  Just like that.

By finding what was lost, the old became new with meaningful implications.

In good time

Time and again, I serendipitously connect with people, places, things, and/or ideas that propel me to another level of understanding.  It’s all so bizarre yet so refreshingly awesome.

Like, oh, my, gosh!  So God’s actually paying attention?  Listening?  Helping me retrace my steps, so I can finally have a worthwhile encounter with something I’d previously overlooked?

It’s what I’ve come to call my Easter egg hunt in life. 

When the time’s right, I find the means to advance to that which awaits; that wonderful, glorious knowledge that I so eagerly seek; that awareness that I’ve been oblivious to; that special moment that fills me with wonder and makes me giggle with delight.  So why worry?  

In God’s good time I’ll have the answers to all of my questions.

St. Teresa’s book

And so it’s been with Teresa of Avila.

BW4511-91The book was within reach for almost three years, but I had much to learn and experience before I was ready to savor its richness.

If anyone had told me that Teresa of Avila had really been meant for me to read and subsequently share, I wouldn’t have believed it.  Yet God has his ways of helping us discover what he wants us to enjoy when the time is right, the very same way he gifts us with the perfectly timed lily blossoms in our garden during the Lent and Easter season every single year.


God of all time, you call us out of the ordinariness of our everyday lives to see the world anew in your time.  Help us to respond to your call to see in all things: both a completion and a new beginning; both an end and a renewed start; both sadness and joy….  Your time is a time of fulfillment that makes little sense to the world, for what is logical is replaced by what is kingdom-oriented….  Give us the strength to keep your time, where relationships take priority and we start over again and again to serve the least among us.  Amen (Daniel P. Horan, OFM in The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering).

March 3, 2014

It is a lesson we all need— to let alone the things that do not concern us.  He has other ways for others to follow him; all do not go by the same path.  It is for each of us to learn the path by which he requires us to follow him, and to follow him in that path (St. Katharine Drexel).

August 12, 2014

“If we patiently accept through love all that God allows to happen, then we will begin to taste even here on earth something of the delights the saints experience in heaven”
(St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

June 2, 2015

“The will of God is not a fate which has to be endured, but a holy and meaningful act which ushers in a new creation” (Fr. Romano Guardini, 1885-1968).

November 13, 2015

If God seems slow in responding, it is because he is preparing a better gift.  He will not deny us.  God withholds what you are not yet ready for.  He wants you to have a lively desire for his greatest gifts.  All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart (St.  Augustine).

April 12, 2017

It can be difficult to tell the difference between beginnings and endings.  Perhaps one of the strongest lessons in Jesus’s words from the cross is that we must not be as concerned about our time as we are about God’s time.  In God’s time beginnings and endings are one in the same because God’s time is not so much a matter of minutes, hours, and days as it is about a way of living in the world.  The way we mark the passage of our life is not the same way that God marks our time.  It is when washing the feet of others, the giving of ourselves for the sake of our brothers and sisters, that we live according to God’s time (Daniel P. Horan, OFM).

July 14, 2017

“Since it is through Jesus that everything must be accomplished, the more I let him do, the more the work of grace will be beautiful and perfect” (Fr. D’Elbee in I Believe in Love).

September 7, 2017

In today’s world, we seek immediate gratification.  We want what we want, and we want it now.  If it doesn’t happen on our timetable, we become discouraged and give up, or impatient.  When we turn our lives over to God’s timing, we find peace, and we may be pleasantly surprised at what he has in store for us (Melanie Rigney in Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration).

Links of interest…  Fr. Romano Guardini: about (more) / Art of praying (more)…  God’s perfect timing…  Old Dominion: bookstore / university…  St. Anthony: about (more) / biography / mail deliveries (S.A.G.) / miracles & traditions / shrine / wonder worker…  St. Teresa of Avila: 12 interesting factsabout (more) / biography (more) / book (more) / chaplet / doctor (more / first woman) / feast day / foundress / frases / friendship with Jesus / headacheshistory / holiness & works / interior castle (more / video) / litany / memorial / mystic / novena / poems / prayers / quotes (more) / saint (more) / tribute (movie) / unexpected humorvideos

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  On being Christian…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Prayerful ways…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret

Teresa of Avila

All this week I’ve been ready to write my post on Teresa of Avila (Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites, Inc., 1979), a book based on selections from The Interior Castle (Avila, 1577); but I’ve dilly-dallied in octopus mode while mentally preparing.

Why can’t I just start writing?  Reading the book I had lots of ideas. so why am I at a loss for words?  Maybe the ol’ pea brain’s too full?  Maybe the dendrites need time to process all I want to write?  Maybe I need to familiarize myself with St. Teresa a bit more?  Something’s missing, but how can this be? 

So much of what I read and hear daily reminds me of her.  So much of what Teresa of Avila wrote resonates with meaning.

Oblivious devotion

Take Sunday afternoon, for instance.

As Steven was covering the garden area with newspapers I was totally absorbed hosing them down to keep them from blowing away.  Then— suddenly— I realized, OMG, I’m standing kissing close to the yaupon holly!  

“Darling, do these bees sting?”

“Oh, yes, they do!  But they’re too busy doing their own thing.  Do you know that some believe the yaupon holly’s honey is the best there is?  It fetches a pretty penny, too.”

I’m so close to the tree that I’m at eye level among these bees!!!  I’m standing here making noise with the water hose, and they’re totally oblivious of me.  They could very easily sting me, but they’re wholly engrossed in what they love.  OMG!  What a perfect metaphor for what St. Teresa wrote!

Recurring thoughts

From the moment I began reading her book St. Teresa has kept my mind engaged— wondering, visualizing, making meaning— through key words and phrases heard and/or read elsewhere in the media, too.  For instance, a yellow post-it with humility underlined and a reference to Sirach 3:17-30 has graced my computer desk for the past six weeks.  Similarly, surrendering oneself to God has cropped up in readings, homilies, conversations, and other communications during that time.

Funny— isn’t it— how these not so sublime messages avail themselves so readily just in case they’ve been disregarded as insignificant or misplaced in one’s long-term memory.

Timely response

Yesterday morning I searched for prayers to the Venerable Solanus Casey.  Someone had arrived at my “Solano, Solanus, Solani” post through the search term 2nd class relic of Fr. Solanus Casey so I conducted a search of my own, ended up on the Father Solanus Guild website, and found some great links.  And prayers.  

“Yet, knowing how way leads on to way” (Frost, 1915), the ol’ pea brain did what it does best, merrily short-circuiting onto another tangent.

Is there a special St. Teresa of Avila prayer?  I need to find it.

Then the afternoon mail brought a lovely booklet from Father Robert.  

Perfect nudge

I read through Simple Ways to Pray (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-34) and chuckled heartily when I got to the back cover.

God has a very weird sense of humor when it comes to me, so I took St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer as his perfectly timed nudge.

Start writing already!!! 

July 12, 2013

Holy Spirit, watch over me today.  Remind me of all the reasons I have to trust God.  Nudge me when you want me to speak.  Open my heart, Lord, and widen my horizons (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 31).

June 2, 2014

Be attentive, O God, when I am neglecting my time with you, time for reflection on your Word and time to rest with you in silence.  Create in me a faithful spirit that is always open to your gentle nudges when I get distracted or too busy (Sister Maria Tasto, OSB).

March 3, 2015

Let nothing disturb you, nothing cause you fear.  All things pass; God is unchanging.  Patience obtains all.  Whomever has God needs nothing else; God alone suffices (St. Teresa of Avila).

October 5, 2015

“I suggest that you pray to Our Lord that he assist you and give you the direction you need” (Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher).

November 27, 2015

We need to look close and listen to hear the voice of God….  God speaks to us in gentle, simple, random ways.  Just as we notice nature signaling the change of seasons— first subtly, then obviously— we should be keenly attuned to the sure signs of God nudging us and challenging us to become signs of the kingdom.  Plant seeds of compassion within me, Lord (Patricia Russell).

September 3, 2016

Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail (Muriel Strode).

September 28, 2016

“Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying” (St. Vincent de Paul).

“Humility is nothing other than the conviction that God is God and only God— and that man is man, and nothing but man” (Romano Guardini, The Rosary of Our Lady).

May 30, 2017

The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.  [Our] lessons come from the journey, not the destination (Don Williams Jr.).

National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe – Libertyville, IL

Links of interest…  Celebration Publications: Free articles  / Today’s Daily Bread…  Father Solanus Guild…  Franciscan Mission Associates…  The road not taken (Frost, 1916; quotes)…  Interior castle: St. Teresa’s diamond…  Saintly sixsolutions to life’s common problems…  Sisters of St. Benedict (IN):  Monday messagesprayer requests / virtual tour / ways of praying / website…  Sit a spell & have a chat…  St.Teresa of Avila: about (more) / biography (more) / book (more) / chaplet / doctor (first woman) / feast day / foundress / frases / friendship with Jesus / headaches / heart of a warriorhistory / holiness & works / interior castle (more / video) / litany / memorial / mysticnovena / poems / prayers / quotessaint (more) / tribute (movie) / videos…  What Robert Frost taught me about feeling alone…  Yaupon holly: honey / tree

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  Gift of love…  Growing pains…  Holy relics…  In good time…  Making meaning…  On being Christian…  Prayer…  Promise of hope…  Prayerful ways…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret

Holy relics

On Valentine’s Day 2009, Junebug and Gary (left) and the lovely Ning and Sam joined us for a special dinner.  And, as usual, “the gang”— our family through Why Catholic? at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff— had a fantabulous time!


Junebug’s prompting

That evening Junebug excitedly told us about visiting a chapel with the Legion of Mary.  She didn’t recall its name or much else other than having been (and still is) in awe of all the relics there.  “You just have to go see it!  It’s such a special place!” Junebug remarked, adding that she’d never known about relics until then.

“I know just what you mean!” I said.  “I didn’t know anything about relics until I received mine from Father Roderick.  And I treasured them until I gave them away.  Thanks so much for telling me about the chapel!  I’ll have to visit to take photos for my blog.”

Elusive treasure

Junebug’s exuberant insistence that I “visit the chapel out by the Lexington” stayed with me until May of last year.  That’s when, in driving around trying to locate it, I accidentally stumbled across the small, well-kept chapel on the corner of who knows where in the vicinity of the USS Lexington.

Yet, within moments my joy downgraded a couple of degrees.  Our Lady Star by the Sea was locked, and no one was at its adjacent office.

To further dampen my enthusiasm, I’d forgotten my Coolpix; so I had to rely on my antiquated cell phone to photograph the chapel’s exterior.  Not a good idea at all, I found out later, ’cause I couldn’t email the photos to my Yahoo account.

Still, things worked out fine.  I learned the name of the chapel and its location, so the visit wasn’t a total loss.

Now it’s just a matter of attending weekend Mass, Saturday at five-thirty or Sunday at nine, so I can finally see the relics that catapulted Junebug into OMG mode.

Shared keepsakes

Like Junebug, I’d never known about holy relics until— surprise, surprise— I received two third-class St. Anthony relics in the mail from Father Roderick, head of Franciscan Mission Associates (FMA) at the time.

A relic is an object or a personal item of religious significance, carefully preserved with an air of veneration as a tangible memorial….  A third-class relic is any object that is touched to a first- or second-class relic.  Most third-class relics are small pieces of cloth (Wikipedia, 2011).

“Relics refer to the body tissues of saints, items worn or used by them, and things that have come in contact with the originals” (Father James G. Ward, CM in the Association of the Miraculous Medal Bulletin, October 2010, p. 3).

The veneration of relics, most strictly the material remains of a saint or holy person after his death, has a long tradition in the Catholic Church….  St. Thomas Aquinas would explain that the relics “excite to love.”  It is really the saint who is being honored, and the relic assists the giving of that honor through both a visible sign and a physical link with the saint (St. Anthony Shrine, 2009).

I treasured my two St. Anthony relics but eventually gave them away to a couple of acquaintances whose life stories were filled with such despair that I thought the relics would give them hope.

By then Father Robert had become director of FMA, so I wrote him a letter requesting another relic and— wouldn’t you know it— he sent two that I carried with me, knowing I’d give them away as well.

St. Anthony chaplets

August, 2010, I gifted my two relics to Sabrina (left) and Ruth (right) with a note in the St. Anthony booklet that I created specially for them.

2Sabrina8410        StA8510-Deli        1Ruth72210

Segy, our youngest, has always said, “The best gifts are those I want so very badly to keep but give away instead.”

In 1998, I wrote to Father Robert at Franciscan Mission Associates.

In 1985, Father Roderick sent me two St. Anthony relics.  But, over the years, as I met others in great need, I gave them away.  And now that I don’t have one, I feel empty.  So may I please have another relic?

And I was surprised, just as I’d been the first time, to receive not one but two.  But, even though I’ve treasured my two relics all this time, I’ve always wondered when the time would come that I’d have to part with them again as before.

Looking through my Companion Prayers booklet on July 22nd, I suddenly took note of the St. Anthony chaplet prayers and the Miraculous Responsory for the first time.  I’d added the latter to my “St. Anthony” post, but it just hadn’t registered till that moment.

I decided to customize a chaplet just right for me and attach not a regular medal, but the St. Anthony relic I’d carried around all these years.

Then I had an epiphany.

Since I had a second relic still in its original little bag I thought, Ruth and Sabrina!  I’ll bead three identical chaplets, place the relics on theirs, and use a different St. Anthony medal on mine.  I’ll write to Father Robert again and request another relic for my chaplet.  Hopefully, he’ll send two.

Sooo…  On Tuesday, July 23rd, I began using the chaplets.  I’ve taken turns with each one so that, when you pray on your own, you’ll know I’m praying with you, too.

Heart’s desire

FMA8410aI have to admit that it was very difficult to part with my last two
St. Anthony relics.  In fact, that’s what kept me from beading the chaplets sooner.  God knew how I felt, though.

Right when I was having serious qualms about giving them away, I received a perfectly timed relic prayer card in the mail from FMA.

In the days that followed I internalized what I’ve experienced before: God always knows and provides just what we need (Matthew 6:8).

Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him.  That is all the doing you have to worry about (St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

Holy relics

How amazing that, since finding Our Lady Star by the Sea and gifting my St. Anthony relics, I’ve become aware of other holy relics: St. Elizabeth Seton’s at Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches, Venerable Margaret Parigot’s on Sister’s prayer card from the Flower of Carmel Monastery in Australia, St. Peregrine’s through Father Ralph at Stella Maris in Lamar, and Venerable Julia Navarrete’s through Sister Maxie at the Missionary Daughters’ Solemn Place of Prayer in Kingsville.  Then, as a very special gift from the Anthonians in November, I received a seventy-five minute video commemorating the exhibition of St. Anthony’s remains at the Basilica in Padua, Italy.

So I have to wonder…

Has parting with my treasured St. Anthony relics helped me find more along the way?




May 13, 2011

Joyfully, I received Venerable Father Casey’s relic badge, which I showed Junebug at Michael’s Confirmation.  I’ll be ordering another to surprise her with, as I think it’ll make her day.


September 13, 2011

Wow!  How amazing is it to find right here on my computer desk exactly what I’ve wanted for months?  To think that I’ve had St. Jude’s relic for a very long time and didn’t even know it till this morning.

Will wonders never cease!

October 4, 2011

I just received a letter from Franciscan Mission Associates in time for All Souls Day.  Father Primo has replaced Father Robert, who served for the past fifteen years.  I guess it’s time to write that letter I’ve been putting off and wish Father Robert well on the next chapter in his book of life.


If you’d like to request a St. Anthony relic, contact Franciscan Mission Associates at P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

January 21, 2012

Steven and I drove to Stella Maris for the second time, and we arrived early enough to converse with Father Ralph before evening Mass.  I asked if he had his St. Peregrine first-class relic, and he did!  What a thrilling experience to hold it and pray for his intercession.


January 22, 2012

I went by Mary Ellen’s house to drop off both her St. Anthony relic chaplet and her Child Jesus chaplet, and she showed me the third-class relic she has of the nun who founded the Incarnate Word Order.  I didn’t have my camera with me, so I’ll take a photo another time.

April 8, 2012

I finally got the chance to take the photos of Mary Ellen’s third-class relic of Venerable Jeanne Chézard de Matel (1596-1670), foundress of the Incarnate Word (IWBS) Order.

Oh, happy day!


April 29, 2012

“Be careful what you wish for” certainly comes to mind, only in a good way this time.

On revisiting the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus at St. Pius V in Chicago, I discovered a treasure overlooked in the past.  St. Jude’s first-class relic!  His arm!


July 2, 2012

What unexpected surprises!  St. Teresa of Avila relics from Sister in Australia!


September 29, 2012

From Sister, timely St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus treasures received for October 1st!


January 13, 2013

Steven and I visited the Tepeyac Shrine in San Antonio for the second time and discovered that the Grotto Sanctuary has a first-class relic: Part of St. Eugene de Mazenod’s heart!

SA11313-67        SA11313-113        SA11313-1

February 10, 2013

??????????This morning Steven fell out as a Knight of Columbus participating in the veneration of José Sánchez del Río’s first-class relic at Immaculate Conception Church in Taft, TX.  Ten o’clock Mass was followed, first, by a procession around the neighborhood and then by visits to the front of the altar to spend one-on-one time in prayer with the relic.

Worth noting is that Joselito died eighty-five years ago today.

June 14-16, 2013

When Steven learned that Father Mario from the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy would be in Rockford, IL, he quickly made plans for us to attend Mass and the veneration of St. Anthony’s first-class relics at St. Anthony of Padua Church.  And we had a phenomenal time!

Father Mario captivated all of us with wonderful stories about St. Anthony and gifted many present with relics touched to St. Anthony’s tongue.  In the photo on the left, the reliquary in the forefront holds tissue from inside St. Anthony’s cheek; the one on the altar, part of his floating rib.

Before Father Mario retired for the evening, he did something totally unexpected: He blessed Steven and me with the small reliquary!

We were so taken with Father Mario that I wanted to bring him home with us, but he has places to go and people to see.  Building community within God’s kingdom is what traveling with St. Anthony is all about, so they’re off to Great Britain next.

SAP61413s-56        StA73113b        StA73113a

The following morning, despite the pounding rain and the heavy traffic, we made our way back to Chicago where we not only spent time at the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude at St. Pius V (like last year), but also visited the Claretian National Shrine of St. Jude at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

 ??????????        ??????????        OLG61513-19

Then we drove to Detroit where we attended nine o’clock Mass at St. Bonaventure Church on Sunday and delighted in the Solanus Casey Center the entire day.

SBC61713s-13      ??????????      SBC61613-108a

What an extraordinary experience!

July 1, 2013

Oh, happy day!  St. Pio’s relic!  Thank you, Sister dearest!

StPio7113-1a    StPio7113-1c    StPio7113-1b    StPio7113-1d

November 21, 2013

Surprise, surprise!  In today’s mail, I received a treasure trove from our niece.

Found this [tiny, old envelope].  Thought of you.  Not sure what it is, but you will know.  Love you.  Sue

Um, yes!  Not one, but two relic badges of then Servant of God, now Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos who needs only one more step to reach sainthood.

After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned.  However, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief. In September of that year, exhausted from visiting and caring for victims of yellow fever, he contracted the disease.  After several weeks, he died on October 4, 1867, at the age of forty-eight years and nine months (Wikipedia, 2013).

FXS112113-2a        FXS112113-2b

March 28, 2014

Hip hip hooray!  An unexpected St. Anthony relic from the Anthonians!

Anth32814a        Anth32814b

April 18, 2014

Thanks to Diana at Franciscan Mission Associates for expeditiously sending me not just the lovely relic for Sid’s St. Anthony chaplet, but also the prayer card!  Sidney Davis, whom we met at the Solanus Casey Center last week, loved his priceless treasures!

FMA-H62a        FMA-H62b        FMA41814a        FMA41814b

May 24, 2014

Thanks to Father Thomas Franks, OFM-Cap for St. Pio’s precious relic!  The Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina is located at the Church of St. John the Baptist in New York City.  (The address is on “Credits” page.) 

SJB52414-2a        SJB52414-1b        SJB52414-2b

October 11, 2014

Thanks again, Father Tom, for the wonderful relic cards from St. Pio’s shrine!

SJBC10114a    SJBC10114b      SJBC10814a    SJBC10814b

November 9, 2015

“For even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ, whether by his sacraments or by the prayers or relics of his saints” (St. Augustine).

Links of interest…  Legion of Mary…  Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish: diocese page / parishes online…  Relics: about (chapelmore – why we venerate them) / altar of (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton) / badge (Venerable Solanus Casey) / feast (more) / first-class / four categories / holy / how to venerateincorruptibles (how can a corpse be incorruptible – saints) / more than I thought I’d ever know (blog post) / of the past & the present / priest martyrs of Mexico / process of beatification & canonization / remains / sacred artifacts / saints / what is…  St. Anthony: basilica (virtual tour) / bones a guide to the living / relics (on display in Padua)…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / website…  Why Catholic

WP posts…  St. Anthony of Padua: Saint of miracles / Si quaeris miracula…  St. Eugene de Mazenod: Heart of hearts / Memory lane…  St. Elizabeth Seton: Right at home…  St. José Sánchez del Río: Honoring Joselito…  St. Jude: Forever grateful / October novenaSt. Anthony Claret / St. Jude novena…  St. Peregrine: Healing service / Memorable as ever / Powerful intercessor / Prayers and blessings / Saintly connections / Stella Maris / St. Peregrine relic…  St. Teresa of Avila: Gift of love / Seven dwelling places…  St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: Budding relationships…  Venerable Father Casey: Capuchin church stations / God’s master plan / Mercy and justice / Solano, Solanus, Solani / St. Bonaventure Church…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Venerable Julia Navarrete (of the thorns of the Sacred Heart)…  Venerable Margaret (of the Blessed Sacrament)…  What I learned by caring for holy relics