Vattmann Thanksgiving

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Some stories, like seeds planted in fertile ground, become more real, more memorable, when nurtured.  Then, thanks to curiosity and subsequent experience, they flourish with each revisiting, becoming finely woven tapestries steeped in depth and complexity.

First visit

Such were my thoughts regarding Our Lady of Consolation in Vattmann, TX since January 11, 2011, when, thanks to the Texas Tropical Trail Region (TTTR) monthly outing, we were treated to the history of this quiet, little church community southeast of Kingsville.

Our hosts came across as a hardy lot: resilient, independent yet mutually supportive of each other, and wholeheartedly invested in their rural hamlet.  Their rich family histories were fascinating; but church was their life-giving core, honored above all.

Listening to the presentations, I gleaned that Vattmann’s mission in life (imbued innately, it seemed) was to know its history by heart and support its cherished sacred space— the latter through an annual fundraiser, the Thanksgiving picnic and country store— to keep the tiny unincorporated town alive and well for future generations.

Naturally, I wanted to experience this incredible, almost century-old tradition; but Steven wasn’t too keen on foregoing his very own turkey with all the trimmings at home.  So my wish quietly percolated as I patiently waited.

Second visit

Between 2011 and 2016, I thought about Our Lady of Consolation Church a lot.  Since we travel regularly to and from the Rio Grande Valley, I asked Steven if we could stop by King’s Inn for lunch “the next time.”

Thursday morning, March 31, 2016, we discovered that the road to the restaurant went past the church, too.  So, after lunch we stopped, took photos, and chatted a while with Maria, who takes Communion to the homebound in the parish.

“I hadn’t planned to come by church today, but I’m glad I did,” she said.

We talked about prayer and God’s wisdom.  “He placed us on each other’s paths for a reason.”  We agreed and exchanged email addresses to stay in touch.

On our drive back from the valley Saturday afternoon, we stopped for lunch in Kingsville.  “Do you think Mother Julia’s chapel is nearby?” I asked.  “I’m curious to see how the Sisters’ project turned out.”

Never mind that I took photos through the holes in the chain-link fence because the chapel and the gift shop were closed.  The place was totally different from six years earlier when Sister Maxie had shared her dream with the TTTR group, December 21, 2010.

We were so impressed!

Within three days’ time, Steven and I had visited two sacred spaces that I’d previously written about.  “I have so much to email Maria about when we get home.”

Only I was even more amazed by her response.

Maria volunteers at Mother Julia’s gift shop, so she works closely with Sister Maxie.  And now we have more in common than before, thanks to our impromptu meeting at Our Lady of Consolation.

Third visit

Bill and Robin invited us to their family’s Thanksgiving gathering, but Steven held out hope that our youngest son would join us for dinner.  Still, we knew that we’d do our usual— attend morning Mass; spend a leisurely day at home; watch football; and enjoy a quiet, intimate meal all by ourselves.  But that was before viewing Michael Gibson’s “Vattmann Thanksgiving picnic” on the evening news (KIII, November 21, 2016).

“I’ve wanted to attend for the past five years,” I reminded Steven.  “It’d be great to go, even if just once.”

Knowing Steven, he had his heart on fixing Thanksgiving dinner at home.  No rush, no fuss with traffic or lines, lots of football viewing, and eating to his heart’s content at will.  He’d started his pre-planning in October and had been adding to his grocery list day by day.  So he was ready to take on the bird and all the trimmings.  Never mind that these other delectable options had cropped up.

Still, I really, really wanted to experience Vattmann on Thanksgiving Day.  And Michael’s piece three days before had to have worked its magic because Wednesday afternoon Steven suggested that we “stop by St. Paul’s for ten o’clock Mass on our way south.”

Vattmann Thanksgiving

During Mass I thought about Father Stembler, pastor at St. Paul’s before his transfer to St. Gertrude’s in Kingsville.  I wondered how he was doing, especially since his dad had passed away late September.  We’d been out-of-state so hadn’t attended the memorial Mass in October.  But I had every intention of writing to him, so I mentally penned a letter to our beloved joyful priest on the drive to Vattmann.

And whom should I see as we approached the path to turn left onto the church parking area?  Father Stembler, all smiles, waving us along!  Unbelievable!  

If this was God’s way of letting me know that we’d chosen wisely in attending the picnic at Our Lady of Consolation, the rest was bound to be unforgettable.

I was able to spend a bit of time with Father Stembler as we all stood waiting in line.  He even hammed it up for my Coolpix!  And Bishop Carmody was there, too.  We love that he married us at the cathedral.  How special was that?  Two for one.

What an uplifting experience!  So many wonderful parishioners heeding the call of service!  So many happy faces engaged in outdoor activities, feasting on Thanksgiving dinner, buying all kinds of goodies at the country store, and just-plain conversing with each other in little clusters here and there.

For Steven and me, the ladies at the country store made our day.  Gwen told us the story of Jan’s husband, Stan, who made all the wooden crosses on display before he died November 8, 2016.  “He wanted to vote more than anything, and he did.”

Then she gave us a very special pass to the workroom where the ladies meet, February through November, to turn cast-offs into treasures.  And, while there, we met Jan and Betty, sweet ladies whose smiles and stories delighted us beyond imagining.  “Santa’s magical elves in Santa’s workshop,” Steven called them.

Of course, the ladies behind the pay-out counter were very nice, too.  One in particular smiled so blissfully— like a kid in a candy shop— that I wished I could’ve gotten to know her better.

Above all, however, I was grateful for my not-so-alone time spent in church.

As I took photos of the beautiful sacred space for the third time, I was taken by the perfectly lit stained-glass windows; the cheerful ambiance graced by impeccably painted walls and icons; and the thoughtful visitors who came and went, paying their respects lovingly as they sat, knelt, or walked about lightly in total reverence.

What a gift to be in the presence of God with these joyful hearts!

I melted within as I gave thanks and praise for my gifts and talents shared with others.

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Country store

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Thanksgiving picnic

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Afterthoughts

Seeing the posted photos from our Thanksgiving in Vattmann, Steven typed a comment for the blog.

“Ooh!  Nice!  May I include your thoughts in the post itself?”

“Sure!”

So, you may say, you had Thanksgiving dinner with a few thousand total strangers is a crowded parish hall and you call that a good time?

The answer is a resounding yes.

The long line moved fast; and everyone was friendly, chatting with each other, interested in how far each had come.  The priest who facilitated our marriage and the now-retired bishop who performed the ceremony at the Corpus Christi Cathedral were there, too.

The picnic was incredibly well-organized, and the family style serving worked better than anyone could expect as helpers in high-visibility orange vests waved new arrivals to empty seats.  And the food kept coming!  If you left hungry, it was your fault.

There was the rattle of constant gunfire at a skeet range set up behind the hall.  We saw several sharpshooters carrying away prize turkeys.  The Knights of Columbus were there with a raffle, and the kids had another one going as well.

Lots was going on; but the real deal for us was the country store, which displayed ornaments of all kinds, pot holders, statues, wall crosses, and other delightful items in an irresistible Christmas setting.

Since we were friendly and Deli was taking photos, we earned a very special pass to Santa’s workshop where the ladies shared some of their stories.  To prepare for the annual fundraiser, they work their Christmas elf magic ten months every year.

So, next Thanksgiving, why not do something different?  Head on into Texas brush country for a fun, friendly, bountiful dinner.  Help the fine folks in Vattmann, TX raise money for Our Lady of Consolation Church.

You’ll be glad you did!

Prayers

Almighty Father, you are lavish in bestowing all your gifts and we give you thanks for the favors you have given us.  In your goodness you have favored us and kept us safe….  We ask that you continue to protect us and shelter us in the shadow of your wings.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite.  As we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child so that we may share your gifts in loving service.  Through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

December 7, 2016

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

December 9, 2016

“The work of life is to tend the divine fire of holiness that has been kindled within against every breath that may endanger it; and every holy deed and thought helps to feed and fan the flame” (Basil W. Maturin, Christian Self-Mastery).

December 14, 2016

“In the evening of life we will be judged on love alone” (St. John of the Cross).

December 21, 2016

“We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives; so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt, that peace and abundance may manifest for all” (Dorothy Day).

December 22, 2016

“If you wish to take up your abode in the tabernacle of the heavenly kingdom, you must reach there through your good works without which you cannot hope to enter”
(St. Benedict).

December 27, 2016

Know that God speaks to you and that, when God does, your assigned task, whatever it is, regardless of how modest it appears in the eyes of the world, takes on eternal importance (Franciscan MediaPerfect Joy).

January 6, 2017

“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, I Believe in Love).

January 28, 2017

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

February 23, 2017

“Let us, therefore, forsake the vanity of the crowd and their false teachings and turn back to the word delivered to us from the beginning” (St. Polycarp).

April 3, 2017

“It is far better to do a few things well than to start many good works and leave them half-done” (St. Francis de Sales).

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Links of interest…  Annual Thanksgiving fundraiser: 100th dinner / 2014 / giving thanks / holiday tradition / King countrypicnic (about) / special report (KIII; more)…  Call to communion & service…  Father Edward J. Vattmann: about / chaplain (more) / more / photos: 1 / 2…  Gift of work…  How to exercise “the discipline of gratitude”…  King’s Inn Restaurant: food / fried & true / website (contactevents)…  Manual for spiritual warfare…  Kleberg County (roots web)…  Our Lady: feasticon (more) / litanynovena / prayers / shrine (about)…  Our Lady of Consolation Church: diocesan map / facebook / one-room school house / photo / website (contact – events – history)…  TX Tropical Trail Region…  US Genealogy Web Project…  Vattmann: about / cemetery (find a gravelocation – photos) / history / photos: wedding (c. 1910) & “where I grew up”…  The visitation & Mary, the walking tabernacle…  What does God want? A practical guide to making decisions

WP posts…  Beloved joyful priest…  Noon visit…  Repeated prayers…  Thanksgiving prayers…  Then and now…  Unexpected detours…  Vattmann church…  Venerable Julia Navarrete

Sunday morning visit

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I’m grateful for having found St. Mary of Victories (SMV) online because God planted the seed thentwo or three years ago, that he harvested today.  His playfulness is uplifting.  I’ve learned that listening to the voice leads me to discover the Holy Infant waiting for me.  His peek-a-boo antics are delightful.  Most of all, I love that God places wonderful folks on my faith journey (My email to Cathy and Bill Saccente, parishioners, who welcomed us sweetly before nine o’clock Mass; 10.9.16, edited).

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Call of service

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Outdoor scenes

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Parish hall

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About the church

After Mass, Max Kaiser, acolyte and lector who serves at St. Mary of Victories “most of the time,” spoke to us about the church and, afterwards, shared a bit of family history and service to the community (October 9, 2016; transcribed audio recording, edited).

smv10916-24This church was dedicated to our Blessed Mother.  It was the first ethnic parish of the archdiocese established by the Old Cathedral in 1843 by the Germans who immigrated to the United States in large numbers.  It was the home for the Maronite community when they came over in 1890s and established
St. Raymond’s Maronite Cathedral here.  And it was yet a third spiritual home to the Hungarian expatriates who fled the Communist revolution of Hungary in 1955 and 1956.  Today it is an indulgence church.  You’ll note that the altar was dedicated with the consecration by Pope Leo XIII [1878-1903], granting a plenary indulgence.  That means [that,] at the time of death, if an individual is in a state of grace and makes a worthy Holy Communion, they get four hundred days’ remission off their stay in purgatory.  And that is a specific request by Leo XIII to this specific church.

One of the other things I might note is [that the church] was consecrated at the behest of Pope Pius IX… in 1866.  That’s why we have the brass candelabra on the wall.  Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick [1843-1895] anointed each pillar with chrism oil— the oil of kings and bishops— to consecrate and dedicate this church formally to Roman Catholic worship and to no other purpose.

Consecrations are specifically governed by canon law.  They are not easily bestowed; they are not easily revoked.  We’ve had twenty-six consecrated churches in the archdiocese.  In the three-hundred-year history of the diocese, only one has been closed; and it took twenty-six years for the Vatican to lift the consecration of St. Liborius Church on Hogan and Market [North 18th Street], which some of you may remember.

You may also be interested to know about these triangular reliquaries and the large red ones and other relics we have embedded in the altars.  We are the third largest repository of relics in the archdiocese after both cathedrals and the CSJ motherhouse.  That’s the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet down on [Holly Hills] and Minnesota Avenue and, itself, worth a visit to see the remarkable chapel where they have the body of a child saved from Roman times entombed.

You’ll also notice the wonderful organ we have in the back choir loft built in 1856 by [?] Jacob Pfeiffer.  And, immediately above it, we have the crest of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger, the first German pope in seven-hundred years.  As the first German church of the diocese, we’re honoring him [by using], at his request, the emblem of his office using a mitre rather than the tiara which is on Pope St. John Paul II’s coat of arms here.

As an overture ecumenically to our East Orthodox brethren, he switched to the mitre for his coat of arms and incorporated elements of his see in Munich-Freising, Germany that he was promoted by them to become pope.  And, having ancestors from Bavaria, that means a little something to me.

The stained-glass windows were made between 1846 and 1896 by two firms: the Hoffman Company and the Emil Frei Art Glass Company.  The Hoffman Company went out of business in 1890; the Emil Frei Art Glass Company is still in business.  And you might have seen the article in the Post-Dispatch last week on Erin and Nicholas Frei who have been down to this church as visitors along with their dad and granddad, Robert Frei, who was the gentleman who inherited the studio from Emil Frei, Sr., himself a Bavarian immigrant who came first from San Francisco in the 1890s, then to St. Louis and really developed the art of stained glass for Roman Catholic, Lutheran, evangelical, and many other denominational churches.

And the thing that means something here also is [that] these pews, this remarkable communion rail, that baptismal font were all fabricated along with most of the altars by Professor Maximilian Schneiderhahn.  And, even though Maximilian is my first name, we are not related.

He was the first liturgical artist brought from Germany by Archbishop Kenrick to make church interiors for Catholic churches that were being built.  This was his first church interior; St. Pius V on South Grand Avenue was his last.  And he worked in stone, wood, marble, plaster, all sorts of media.  He made these pews in 1846.  He made that baptismal font in 1834.  More than fifteen-thousand people have been baptized.  And, our most recent addition, in terms of liturgical history, is the statue made of Father [now] Blessed Francis Seelos, a nineteenth-century Bavarian priest, in the Vatican statuary foundry in Italy.  I was privileged to uncrate it twelve years ago.

We also have a copy of Blessed Francis Seelos’s death mask on the side altar.  You’re welcome to take a look at it.  We have a portion of his sternum bone, which is locked in our safe in one of the reliquaries that honors him.  And we’re hoping the second miracle gets validated so he can be canonized— the second saint in the metro St. Louis area after Mother Philippine Rose Duchesne.

The church is remarkably churched.  As I said, it’s a granddaddy of all the ethnic parishes of the archdiocese, of all nationalities.  It is especially loved by many of the Marian Catholics in the St. Louis area.  And the Germans, the Hungarians, and the Lebanese all revere this church.  St. Raymond’s, even though it’s Maronite Rite, is very supportive of our continuance.

Something the guys and gals in this day and age might want to know, is [that] the archdiocese allows churches like ours that are historic to be open for Catholic weddings from Catholics outside parish boundaries.  Many of you grew up in the suburbs and, if you choose to hold your wedding here, you can.  And you can even bring your own priest, if you so choose.

Father Harrison, who is our chaplain— we are a chapel of ease of the archdiocese— will do the final paperwork; but the priest who will marry you will have responsibility for the preparation and the actual ceremony.  And we’ve done that many times.

I invite you to walk around and see all the remarkable artworks in the church.  And, when you realize that this church is 174 years old, in this type of condition, it’s pretty obvious Our Lord wants St. Mary of Victories Church to continue.

So, welcome, and thank you all for coming today.

Max is a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, an honor bestowed on him by Cardinal Ratzinger for his part in preserving historic churches.

smv10916-23My dad, my uncle, and, to a lesser extent, myself were German liturgical craftsmen who fabricated and plated the bronze, gold, and silver textures in the churches for the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, Lutheran, and some of the Reform churches.  Many of the Reform churches use rather notable metal ware, believe it or not.  We’ve had our business for more than 118 years.

[My dad and my uncle] volunteered down here in the 1930’s, [and] I’m glad to keep the tradition going.  I really like the German, the Hungarian, [and] the Lebanese who settled this church because… they [were] more flexible.  You could join the parish even if you weren’t that ancestry, [and] now we have all nationalities represented.

Come back anytime and have a great visit.

Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, CSsR

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Prayer from SMV church bulletin

Our heavenly Father, long ago you inspired our… forefathers in the faith to raise this beautiful house of prayer and sacrifice in honor of your Son’s most holy mother, Our Lady of Victories.  Your providence then brought many… here under the co-patronage of this holy king, St. Stephen.  We humbly place before you today the spiritual and temporal needs of our historic church and its present-day community.  Grant us the grace to discern your holy will and to fulfill it zealously as faithful witnesses to the gospel here in the old heart of our city for as long as it may please your divine majesty.

St. Mary of Victories, pray for us.  St. Stephen of Hungary, pray for us.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

November 9, 2016

“The world tells us to seek success, power, and money; God tells us to seek humility, service, and love” (Pope Francis).

December 15, 2016

The Christian heart has always known Mary as the essence of compassion and love, to whom man can turn with particular and unreserved confidence.  This is expressed so well by the intimate name that was given her from the beginning, the name of mother (Fr. Romano Guardini in The Rosary of Our Lady).

March 5, 2017

Mother Mary is right there with us, granting her graces and lovingly pushing us forth— always towards her son, Jesus, so that we will be able to continue each day to put one foot in front of the other to walk in faith (Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle in Our Lady of Fatima).

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Links of interest…  Adoremus…  Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos: about / biography
(more) / healernational shrine (more) / prayersprofileten tips / wonderworker…  Catholic community doesn’t look the same for everyone…  Criticism of Pope Francis rooted in misunderstanding of Vatican II: parts one, two, & three…  Hidden heart of Catholic St. Louis…  Palm Sunday (2016)…  Spirit of 79: The number of Americans proposed for sainthood…  St. Louis Mass mob: aboutfacebook…  St. Mary of Victories: about / archdiocese page / early historyfacebook (landmark) / help save the churchmediaphotos / relicswebsite…  St. Stephen: about / Aug 16 / devotion to Mary / Hungarian apostlememorial / prayerprofile / quote

WP posts…  Comforting thought…  Faces of Mary…  Familiar yet new…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  Marytown shrine…  Old cathedral…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s

For all time

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A church for all time, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) draws on its many resources, including the outdoor stations of the cross and the sweet Schoenstatt adoration chapel, to build community within God’s kingdom.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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Prayers

After the stations…  God, our heavenly father, we raise our minds and hearts to you in praise and thanksgiving.  Though weak and sinful, we wish to follow your only son, our Lord Jesus, on the way of the cross.  May your Holy Spirit help us use our savior’s strength effectively in our place in life.

We ask the special aid of our blessed Lady, ever virgin and mother, in following Christ and in making his way of the cross our way of life.  Amen.

Anima Christi…  Soul of Christ sanctify me.  Body of Christ heal me.  Blood of Christ drench me.  Water from the side of Christ wash me.  Passion of Christ strengthen me.

Good Jesus hear me.  In your wounds shelter me.  From turning away keep me.  From the evil one protect me.  At the hour of my death call me.  Into your presence lead me to praise you with all saints forever and ever.  Amen.

May 14, 2016

I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus; but, on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others.  And Jesus has this message for us: mercy.  I think— and I say it with humility— that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy (Pope Francis).

May 15, 2016

“One loving spirit sets another on fire” (St. Augustine).

May 20, 2016

“Jesus, crucified for me, with the nails of your love fasten my whole self to you”
(St. Bernardine of Siena).

June 30, 2016

“The glory of God is the human person fully alive” (Irenaeus of Lyons).

January 7, 2017

Look then on Jesus, the author and preserver of faith: In complete sinlessness he suffered at the hands of those who were his own and was numbered among the wicked.  As you drink the cup of the Lord Jesus… give thanks to the Lord, the giver of all blessings (St. Raymond of Peñafort).

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Links of interest…  Adoration: Blessed Sacrament prayers / St. John Chrysostom  (hourly) / Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle (hours & half-hours; Lasance, 1898)…  Disciples’ diary (Peter & Judas)…  OLPH: facebook / Mass times / website…  Pope Francis: daily reflections (more) / forgiveness / mercy / wisdom…   Stabat Mater: hymn / liturgical sequence / seven sorrows / more / YouTube (more)…  Sinner’s way of the cross…  Stations of the cross (YT) & prayers…  Ten lessons from the agony in the garden…  Triduum chant playlist…  Trusting in God completely & in uncertain times…  Via Crucis: Walking the passion with Jesus: one & two…  Way of Holy Week…  What Jesus saw from the cross

WP posts…  Call of service…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  Church time blues…  Full circle…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Making meaning…  Notre Dame revisited…  One prayer…  Picturing God…  Quiet prayer time…  Second looks…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sorrowful redemption…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Undeniable familiarity

Sorrowful redemption

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In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

My Lord and my God, under the loving eyes of our Mother,
we are making ready to accompany you along this path of sorrow
which was the price paid for our redemption.

We wish to suffer all that you suffered,
to offer you our poor, contrite hearts,
because you are innocent; and, yet, you are going to die for us
who are the only really guilty ones.

My mother, Virgin of Sorrows,
help us to relive those bitter hours which your Son wished to spend on earth
so that we who were made from a handful of clay may finally live…
in the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

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Sonnet to Our Lord on the cross

I am not moved to love you, O my God,
that I might hope in promised heaven to dwell;
nor am I moved by fear of pain in hell
to turn from sin and follow where you trod.
You move me, Lord, broken beneath the rod
or stretched out on the cross as nails compel
your hand to twitch.  It moves me that we sell
to mockery and death your precious blood.
It is, O Christ, your love which moves me so
that my love rests not on a promised prize;
nor holy fear on threat of endless woe;
it is not milk and honey, but the flow
of blood from blessed wounds before my eyes
that waters my buried soul and makes it grow.

Contact information

The sonnet and the prayers are from the Daily Roman Missal (Rev. James Socias for Midwest Theological Forum, 1993-2011, pp. 2385 and 2369, respectively).

Prayers

O holy banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion is recalled, the soul is filled with grace, and the promise of the future glory is given to us.  Alleluia.

V.  You have given them bread from heaven.  Alleluia.
R.  Containing in itself all delight.  Alleluia.

God, who in this wonderful sacrament left us a memorial of your passion, we implore you that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of your body and blood as always to be conscious of the effects of your redemption.  You live and reign forever and ever.  Amen.

Blessed be the holy and immaculate conception of the blessed virgin, Mary, mother of God.  We adore you, Christ, and we praise you because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.  Most sacred heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

June 2, 2016

We meditate before, during, and after everything we do.  The prophet says, “I will pray, and then I will understand.”  This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work.  In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others (St. Charles Borromeo).

June 5, 2016

Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us.  What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ.  For he is all-powerful; and he tells us, “My yoke is easy, and my burden light” (St. Boniface).

June 9, 2016

The good God toils painfully, as it were; for, while he does not wish to coerce our liberty, yet neither does he permit us to be negligent.  For, were he to use coercion, he would be taking away our power of choice; were he to leave us to our negligence, he would be depriving our souls of his help.  The Lord, then, [knows] that, if he coerces us he robs us, if he withdraws his help he loses us, but if he teaches us he gains us.  [He] neither coerces nor withdraws his help as does the evil one but teaches, instructs, and so gains us since he is the Good One (St. Ephrem on free will).

June 21, 2016

“He who wishes to love God does not truly love him if he has not an ardent and constant desire to suffer for his sake” (St. Aloysius Gonzaga).

July 29, 2016

“Those who are simply upright men and women walk in the way of the Lord, but the devout run along it; and, when they are very devout, they fly” (St. Francis de Sales, Roses Among Thorns).

August 22, 2016

Christ did not promise an easy life.  Those who desire comforts have dialed the wrong number.  Rather, he shows us the way to great things; the good, toward an authentic human life (Pope Benedict XVI).

October 5, 2016

Suffering is a great grace.  Through suffering the soul becomes like the Savior; in suffering love becomes crystallized.  The greater the suffering, the purer the love (St. Faustina Kowalska).

November 10, 2016

No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the cross.  No one is beyond the help of the prayer of Christ (St. Leo the Great).

November 20, 2016

“The throne of this King whom we worship… is the cross; and his triumph is the victory of love, an almighty love that, from the cross, pours out his gifts upon humanity of all times and all places” (Pope Benedict XVI).

January 6, 2017

“The love which our Lord had during his passion puts into full light God’s love for us”
(St. André Bessette).

March 2, 2017

If Jesus Christ is our way, let us not walk in the ways of the world.  Let us enter into the narrow gate through which he walked (Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet in Meditations for Lent).

April 10, 2017

Our thoughts turn to the passion and death of our Lord, and we long to share his pain with him.  What is the pain of Jesus?  It is the pain of loving and not being loved in return.  He has loved us with an everlasting love, and what do we give him in return?  We allow our minds to be preoccupied with little things and so spend many hours without thinking of Jesus.  And yet our hearts and minds, bodies and souls, belong only to him.  Let us meditate on the sufferings of Christ each day (Heidi Hess Saxton in Lent with St. Teresa of Calcutta).

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Links of interest…  At the feet of Jesus…  Blessings & dangers…  Cross of Jesus: God’s awful work of love…  Expect the unexpected…  Inside the ancient church of the Holy Sepulchre…  Introduction to the devout life: ebook (St. Francis de Sales)…  It’s time to stop fleeing from the cross…  Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: aboutbook / consecrating the hours / hymns, psalms, & readings / introduction / prayers (more)…  Mercy with every breath (Jesus prayer)…  Notre Dame Church (Mass times)…  Stabat Mater: hymn / liturgical sequence / seven sorrows / more / YouTube (more)…  Seven words of Jesus on the cross…  Stations of the cross (YT) & prayers…  Ten arrows to launch us to heaven / lessons from the agony in the garden…  Trusting in God completely & in uncertain times…  Via Crucis: Walking the passion with Jesus: one & two…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: e-book…  Way of Holy Week…  We are all marked men & women…  What Jesus saw from the cross…  Why are there stations of the cross in (almost) every Catholic church…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Call of service…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Church time blues…   Dear God…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Full circle…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  In good time…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Making meaning…  Notre Dame revisited…  Quiet prayer time…  Second looks…  Sioux chapel stations…  Today’s Beatitudes

Notre Dame revisited

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After Mass in Fort Stockton I asked Steven if we could take a detour in Kerrville.  “I’ve longed to revisit Notre Dame since we met Gloria and her little girl our first time there, August 30, 2008.”

I didn’t push the issue, though.  Highway traffic had been frantic on Interstate 10, and Steven was tired.  All he wanted was to get us home safely.

Heartfelt wish

We might not pass this way again, I pleaded wishfully in silence as I kept my gaze on the road and my thoughts to myself.

“Sure,” Steven replied, despite the stormy weather looming ominously, waiting patiently to overtake us with torrential rain predicted days before.

Notre Dame revisited

Once we found the church we turned off our travel cares.

In the vestibule I met a young mother with a little girl, so reminiscent of Gloria and her little girl.  In Spanish I briefly shared the story of our first visit.  The woman was very nice, all smiles.  She didn’t know Gloria (whose last name I didn’t know) or anything about the Cursillo group that Gloria had invited us to learn more about but, from the lilt in her voice, I could tell that she understood how happy I was to be back after almost eight years.  We wished each other well before they departed for home.

I proceeded to the heart of the church where Steven was already taking photos.  A woman, sitting very still in a pew near the altar, seemed lost in meditation as we moved about, delighted in our very own (unexpected) concert: forty-five glorious minutes of music practice before evening Mass.

Steven and I spoke quietly here and there about angles, lighting, and the stations of the cross but, mostly, we savored every heavenly note and sang along as we grinned nonstop.  We were ever so grateful for God’s precious gifts at Notre Dame Church!

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Prayer

O ever immaculate Virgin, mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comfort of the afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy.  By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors; and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal.

I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession.  Obtain, O loving Mother, the grant of my requests.

I will endeavor to imitate your virtues that I may one day share your glory, and bless you in eternity.  Amen.

May 7, 2016

“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a mother” (St. Therese of Lisieux).

May 8, 2016

Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them.  They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy, and strong (St. Gianna Molla).

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Links of interest…  Behold your Mother: This Mother’s Day, this month of May, & beyond…  Can we endure the light…  Don’t compartmentalize your faith (audio)…  Faith connected to everythingin the gospels / through love / what is…  Hear God speaking to you…  Introduction to the devout life: ebook (St. Francis de Sales)…  Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: aboutbook / consecrating the hours / hymns, psalms, & readingsintroduction / prayers (more)…  Notre Dame Church (Mass times)…  Our Lady of Lourdes: about / novena / prayer…  What is Cursillo…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: e-book…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Christ’s passion…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Dear God…  Faith and prayer…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  In good time…  Lady of Sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Little gifts…  Lourdes novenas…  Making meaning…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Agnes Church…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

Father’s roses

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Last year Steven and I drove to Goose Island for Palm Sunday Mass at Stella Maris, and Father Ralph was overjoyed to see us.

“I was hoping you two would show up!  I’ve got great news!  Follow me so we can talk,” Father said, leading us to the slightly bigger than standing room only space behind the altar.

Miracle shared

Without being asked Joe, attentive sacristan and devoted friend, opened a folding chair for Father to sit as he shared his latest stories with us.

“I’m healed!” Father gushed and then proceeded to fill in all the glorious details as Steven bent down to listen and I looked up intently, almost breathlessly, from where I sat on the old wood floor.

We couldn’t get enough!  After all the trips to M.D. Anderson and more, Father Ralph’s news was the answer to our collective prayers.  We were so grateful for Father’s reprieve from his medical roller coaster ride that we couldn’t stop smiling.  Again and again we thanked and praised God for his merciful kindness.

Faith revisited

Father Ralph was on fire.  He was  a walking-talking miracle whose homily, in part, focused on a familiar story from the Bible.

Or take the woman who had obviously heard Jesus preach.  She might even have seen some of the miracles.  She’d gone to doctors for twelve years.  She had a hemorrhage.  Only women can appreciate the misery of all that, day in and day out.  No cure.  And she’d spent all her money.

’If I could just touch the hem of his garment,’ she thought, ‘I would be healed.’

That’s a position of faith, isn’t it?  She wanted a point of contact, so she could release her faith.  And the power of God would come flowing through her body.

Did she find it easy to get to Jesus?  Oh, it was easy to see him.  ‘Yes, there he is over there.  Uh-huh.  I see the prayer shawl.  Oh, my goodness.  There are so many people around him!’

She didn’t let the press interfere with the possibility of cure.  She didn’t let the devil talk her out of it.  She pushed and shoved— did whatever she had to do— until, finally, she got behind him.  She touched his garment, the hem of his prayer shawl.

Jewish men wear the tallit in Israel to this day when they pray at the Wailing Wall.  I’ve been there.  I’ve seen it.  I have one that I use.  At the base of it are all these tassels that represent the Commandments of God, the promises of God.

What the woman was thinking was, ‘If I touch the one that keeps all the Commandments and if I touch the one for healing, I will be made whole.’

The woman released her faith when she touched it, and Jesus said, ‘Virtue has come out.  Who has touched me?’

’I did,’ the woman replied.

’Your faith has made you whole,’ Jesus told her.

So it’s always an impediment to get to Jesus, isn’t it?  Sometimes it’s our own doubt.  Most of the time, it’s the devil.

‘Oh, but you don’t deserve to have a miracle.  Remember what you did when you were a young man?  Or a young woman?  Just forget that, and just keep going.  You can’t change, and God can’t forgive you.  You’ll never have a miracle.’

Oh, my goodness.  The devil is the father of lies, isn’t he?

Although Father’s homily wasn’t perfectly geared for Palm Sunday, it certainly touched on the faith— the “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1)— that Jesus embodies for us to witness during Holy Week.

Lesson gleaned

Through Father Ralph God refreshed us with yet another of his extraordinary lessons.  Believing requires stoutheartedness, courage, and patience.  Believing is trusting that God knows best.  “Your will be done,” not mine (Matthew 26:42).

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Father’s roses

After Mass Father Ralph insisted that Steven and I accompany him to the back yard.  With scissors in hand he snipped at his prized rosebush; created a lovely, fragrant, lavender-pink cluster; and jubilantly presented me with the unexpected bouquet.

Thoughtful?  Yes.  Then again, healthy or unwell, that’s Father Ralph.

On the drive home, in the days that followed, and especially now that Father Ralph’s health has waned again, his roses are more than just a sweet remembrance of our time at Stella Maris; they’re an enduring recollection of God’s loving mercy celebrated on Palm Sunday a year ago.

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March 18, 2016

I struggled with [the devil] in my imprisonment.  At one moment I thought I was victorious; the next day I was defeated.  This cruel and stubborn fight lasted five years.  Then God gave me the grace to triumph over my enemy (St. Augustine).

March 20, 2016

“The Mass is long,” you say; [to which] I add, “because your love is short”  (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

March 24, 2017

We are not to be without pain.  Pain is Jesus suffering in us, but we are to look to him for strength and courage.  We are to learn this ability to shoulder our cross by gazing at him and being gentle and humble in heart (Mother Angelica on Suffering and Burnout).

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Father Ralph’s homilies: 10 Oct 2010 / 22 Jan 2012 / 16 Sept 2012

Links of interest…  Christ’s way of the cross…  Do you want to be well…  Fr. Ralph: service to God & country / story of healing (3.13.15)…  How to overcome worry by trusting in God’s providence…  Open-&-shut case for Jesus…  Pope laments “defeated Christians” who do not fully trust in God…  Saints: novenas (188) / prayer
St. Peregrine: about / articles (prayer cards) / biography / “cancer saint” / chaplet / feast / friends of / healing intercessor & friend / healing power / May 1st / novena / prayer / prayer requests / prayers / shrine / story…  Stella Maris: anniversary / facebook / history (more) / Lamar, TX (more) / marker…  Trusting in God completely / in uncertain times…  Would you have touched Jesus’ cloak

WP posts…  Delightful visit…  Healing service…  Holy relics…  Memorable as ever…  Powerful intercessor…  Prayers and blessings…  Saintly connections…  St. Peregrine relic…  Stella Maris…  Stella Maris moments

Venerating St. Anthony

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Three weeks ago Steven and I met up again with Fr. Mario Conte, OFM Conventual from the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy and Tom Muscatello, USA liaison from St. Adalbert Friary in Elmhurst, NY, and picked up right where we left off almost three years ago at St. Anthony’s in Rockford, IL, June 14, 2013.

Meeting Abelardo

SAP61413-119What gorgeous grounds!  I had no idea that Illinois could produce such green grass and beautiful plants, so— catching sight of the gardener— I walked a good distance to where he was and thanked him for making my day.  In turn, Abelardo, who hails from Michoacán, Mexico, expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to do what he loves.  Then, in the middle of our lovely conversation, Steven called out that Mass would start soon so off I went after our cordial goodbyes.

Greeting Fr. Mario

SAP61413-137I looked quite disheveled on entering church.  I hadn’t even combed my hair!  But there was Steven pushing past my I’m-not-ready moments.

“Look, there’s Fr. Mario.  Here’s your chance.  Go talk to him.”

I felt even more pressured when Steven walked up to Fr. Mario and they both turned to look at me.

Oh, my gosh!  What could I do but smile? 

I was so glad to finally meet Fr. Mario that I quickly forgot my appearance, and we’ve been in each other’s thoughts and prayers ever since.

Venerating St. Anthony

During Mass Fr. Mario welcomed Steven and me as “the two who traveled the farthest, all the way from Texas” to be among the faithful venerating St. Anthony’s first-class relics that evening.  We felt so very specially blessed.

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Prayers

Good St. Anthony, in God’s providence you have secured for his people many marvelous favors.  You have been especially celebrated, good
St. Anthony, for your goodness to the poor and the hungry, for finding employment for those seeking it, for your special care of those who travel, and for keeping safe from harm all who must be away from home.

You are widely known also, good St. Anthony, for securing peace in the family, for your delicate mercy in finding lost things, for safe delivery of messages, and for your concern for women in childbirth.

In honoring you, St. Anthony, for the many graces our Lord grants through your favor, we trustfully and confidently ask your aid in our present need.

V.  Pray for us, good St. Anthony.
R.  That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray…  May it be a source of joy, O God, to your Church that we honor the memory of your confessor and doctor, St. Anthony.  May his spiritual help always make us strong; and, by his assistance, may we enjoy an eternal reward.  This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.  Amen.

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Contact information

You can reach the Anthonian Association of the Friends of St. Anthony of Padua by mail at 101 Saint Anthony Drive, Mount Saint Francis, IN 47146-9001.  Or you can call 1.812.923.6356 (fax 1.812.923.3200), if you prefer.  The staff is very friendly!

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Links of interest…  Day I made a batch of relics…  Friar Mario: meditations (videos), relics visit, & “writing reed” / Messenger of St. Anthony (website) / St. Anthony USA (petitions; portal to Italian website)…  Four quick facts about relics…  Help from heaven…  Holy relics (first-class – more)…  Miracles…  Nine Tuesdays devotion…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony: about (more) / “ark of the covenant” (index – more) / biography / for peace of mind / glorious feast day / mail deliveries (S.A.G.) / miracles & traditions / shrine / thanksgiving (pdf) / wonder worker…  St. Anthony of Padua Church: diocesan page / parishes online / St. Joseph altars / video (100th anniversary) / website…  St. Bonaventure (more) / about (more) / archive (more) / bishop & cardinal / memorial / patron (more) / prayer (liturgy archive – more – praying with) / sayings…  What’s the story with relics…  YouTube: Hymn to St. Anthony of Padua (composed by Father Ike Carpio, OFM+; sung by Brother Ariel Manga, OFM) & Si quaeris miracula (sung by Padre Maurizio nella Basilica di San Francesco a Bologna)…

WP page…  Words to ponder (January 9, 2013 & other related entries)

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Budding relationships…  Christ’s passion…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Holy relics…  Making meaning…  My Franciscan Crown…  Prayer…  Recollections…  Saint of miracles…  Si quaeris miracula…  Soulful…  St. Anthony…  St. Anthony chaplets…  St. Felix…  Tony’s big day