Full circle


February of last year Steven and I attended Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle and afterwards walked the stations of the cross in keeping with
St. Dominic’s posturing, body, mind, heart, and soul.

Unexpected experiences

We’d just read aloud from our Behold! The Stations of the Cross booklets when a woman interfaced with us briefly before heading to the cafeteria, or so we thought.

The cross now becomes too much for Jesus to bear; so the soldiers grab a bystander, Simon, to help Jesus carry his cross.  While Jesus carries the more significant burden, Simon plays an important part in the Passion of our Lord.  In helping Jesus carry this wood, Simon serves as an example for all who contemplate this awkward scene.  We, too, are called to be Simon, to help our brothers and sisters carry the weight of their hardships and difficulties.  Simon was transformed by this unexpected experience.  We, too, will be transformed by our acts of good will to all who are in need of our assistance.

My Lord, help me be another Simon in the world today.  Show me your grace and blessing for the efforts I make each day to help people in their needs.  Help me not only assist those who call upon me for help, but also give me the courage to seek out those who might be in need.  Give me a strong desire to pray, fast, and give alms for those who are most in need.  Through my self-denial, restore dignity to those who are in desperate need of human kindness.  May I give all of these things freely expecting nothing in return (Gouin, 2001, pp. 6-7).

As I took photos, Steven’s shared observations attacked my peaceful contemplation like a double-edged sword.

“Just forget about it,” Steven insisted.

But how could I?

Looking back at the fourth station, I could see the woman doing to everyone else what she had done to us.  She’d walked the path in reverse (finish to start), imposing pangs of guilt on prayerful thoughts, betraying inner voices (of reason) with malicious intent.

“Aren’t sacred spaces supposed to be safe?” I asked rhetorically.  “Is there nothing to stop her?”

I didn’t understand.  What was the lesson?  Simon’s story encouraged gentle giving, not willful taking.


Still struggling to make meaning, we fell back into step and continued… until the woman passed us by as quietly as possible at the eleventh station.

I stood very still, followed her with my eyes, and observed.

The woman approached a young couple with two kids at the tenth station, told her story, and waited for the man to help her out.  The man reluctantly moved his hand near his pants pocket two or three times but never reached within.  Clearly, he couldn’t afford to dole out any money; but the woman was relentless.


Right or wrong, I walked over to protect the young family.  When I reminded the woman that Steven had given her enough money to buy a few sandwiches and sodas at the cafeteria, she feigned ignorance.  So I told her we’d seen her in action with everyone else walking the stations.  We hadn’t even been the first ones.  Steven had seen “lots of bills” in her other hand, but he’d given her money anyway on the chance that she might be telling the truth.

The woman was furious.  I was the guilty party, she said.  Why was I so mean?  Why was I speaking so badly about her?  I was to blame, not her.  She had every right to do as she wanted, and she refused to leave.

What a terrible memory! I thought, as the woman persisted in her imagined woes.  Is this how I want to remember my time at San Juan?  I’d waited years to visit, years to embrace the devotion.  Yet this woman had disrupted my tranquility.  And it was all my fault, of course.

The woman finally left, and I felt totally drained.  I did battle and lost, I thought, as I made my way back to Steven at the eleventh station.

“That was so unfair.  I couldn’t let her take advantage of that young couple.  I had to speak up.”

“You didn’t stop her.  She’ll just be more careful the next time she passes you by.  Just forget about it,” Steven insisted once more.

Full circle

How could I just sluff it off?  How could I come to terms with such blatant behavior?

I needed to regain my equilibrium, but my mind and my heart were all over the place.  I needed desperately to calm down, complete the stations, and be still again.

For a while serenity seemed unattainable but, soon enough, I was peaceful and wholly engaged.  Our unexpected experiences had brought us full circle, and I felt restored.

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

Opening prayer

Heavenly Father, out of love for us you sent your own son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, as our savior.  In him we are redeemed and saved.

Despite our weakness and sinfulness we wish to imitate him and follow in his footsteps.  Send your Holy Spirit, we implore you, to assist us as we make the way of the cross.

We invoke the aid of our Blessed Lady and all the saints that we may be enabled to follow Christ and make his way of the cross our way of life and love.  Amen (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-26, p. 3).

 1: Jesus is condemned to death.

 “And they all gave their verdict; he deserved to die” (Matthew 14:64).


 2: Jesus takes his cross.

“Pilate handed him over to be crucified” (John 19:16).


 3: Jesus falls once.

“I looked; there was no one to help” (Isaiah 63:4).


 4: Jesus meets his mother.

“Woman, this is your son” (John 19:26).


 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus.

“They seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, and made him shoulder the cross” (Luke 22:26).


 6: Veronica wipes Jesus’ face.

“In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).


 7: Jesus falls again.

“He was praying all the time for sinners” (Isaiah 53:12).


 8: Jesus speaks to the women

 “Weep rather for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).


 9: Jesus falls a third time.

“They leave me lying in the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15).


10: Jesus is stripped of his clothing.

“They shared out his garments by casting lots” (Matthew 27:35).


11: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

“They crucified him there and the two criminals also” (Luke 23:33).


12: Christ dies on the cross.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).


13: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

“Now let God rescue him if he wants him” (Matthew 27:43).


14: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

“He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb” (Matthew 27:60).


15: Christ is risen, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Lastly, he showed himself to the eleven themselves while they were at table.  He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.  And he said to them, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:14-16).


Contact information

Text for the stations is based on Your Way of the Cross (B-8/14) from Franciscan Mission Associates (FMA), P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

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BSJ22215-39  BSJ22215-61  BSJ22215-103  BSJ22215-120

Galatians 2:19-21

I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.  Insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God; for, if justification comes through the law, then Christ comes for nothing.

Good Friday Prayer of Pope Francis

O Christ, abandoned and betrayed even by your own, and sold for next to nothing.  O Christ, judged by sinners, handed over by the leaders.  O Christ, tortured in the flesh, crowned with thorns and clothed in purple.  O Christ, slapped and beaten, and nailed in excruciating pain to the Cross.  O Christ, pierced by the lance that opened your heart.  O Christ, dead and buried, you who are the God of life and existence.  O Christ, our only Savior, we return to you this year with eyes lowered in shame, and with hearts filled with hope:

Shame for all the images of devastation, destruction and wreckage that have become a normal part of our lives; shame for the innocent blood that is shed: of women, children, migrants and those who are persecuted because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity and social standing, or because of their faith in you; shame for the many times that, like Judas and Peter, we have sold you and betrayed you and left you alone to die for our sins, fleeing like cowards from our responsibilities; shame for our silence before injustices; for our hands that have been lazy in giving, and greedy in grabbing and conquering; for the shrill voices we use to defend our own interests and the timid ones we use to speak out for others; for our feet that are quick to follow the path of evil and paralyzed in following the path of good; shame for all the times that we bishops, priests, and consecrated men and women have scandalized and wounded your body, the Church; for having forgotten our first love, our initial enthusiasm and total availability, allowing our hearts and our consecration to rust.

So much shame Lord, but our hearts are also longing with trustful hope, knowing that you will not treat us according to our merits but solely according to the abundance of your mercy; that our betrayals do not diminish the immensity of your love; that your maternal and paternal heart does not forget us because of the hardness of our own; the certain hope that our names are written in your heart and that we are reflected in the pupils of your eyes; the hope that your cross will transform our hardened hearts into hearts of flesh that are able to dream, to forgive and to love; that it will transform this dark night of your cross into the brilliant dawn of your resurrection; the hope that your faithfulness is not based on our own; the hope that the ranks of men and women who are faithful to your cross will continue to live in fidelity like leaven that gives flavor, and like light that reveals new horizons in the body of our wounded humanity; the hope that your Church will seek to be the voice that cries out in the wilderness for humanity, preparing the way for your triumphant return, when you will come to judge the living and the dead; the hope that good will be victorious despite its apparent defeat!

O Lord Jesus, son of God, innocent victim of our ransom, before your royal banner, before the mystery of your death and glory, before your scaffold, we kneel in shame and, with hope, and we ask that you bathe us in the blood and water that flowed from your lacerated heart; to forgive our sins and our guilt; we ask you to remember our brethren who are destroyed by violence, indifference and war; we ask you to break the chains that keep us imprisoned in our selfishness, in our willful blindness, and in the vanity of our worldly calculations.

O Christ, we ask you to teach us never to be ashamed of your cross, not to exploit it but to honor and adore it for, by it, you have shown us the monstrosity of our sins, the greatness of your love, the injustice of our judgments, and the power of your mercy.  Amen.

February 14, 2016

“It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially” (St. Francis de Sales).

February 15, 2016

“The love of God inspires the love of our neighbor, and the love of our neighbor serves to keep alive the love of God” (St. Gregory the Great).

February 17, 2016

“Silence is not a virtue when charity calls for speech” (St. Poemen, c. 340-450).

May 3, 2016

“Let us consider what the glorious Virgin endured and what the holy apostles suffered, and we shall find that they who were nearest to Jesus Christ were the most afflicted” (St. Teresa of Ávila).

July 7, 2016

“Woe to me if I should prove myself but a half-hearted soldier in the service of my thorn-crowned Captain” (St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen).

August 28, 2016

“Hope has two beautiful daughters [whose] names are Anger and Courage— anger at the way things are and courage to see that they do not remain as they are” (St. Augustine, edited).

September 26, 2016

Prayer is the most effective communication with God and the saints.  Prayer strengthens us, gives us resolve, and helps us to carry our daily crosses
(Fr. Amador Garza at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle).

January 11, 2017

Lord God, voice of truth, thank you for my voice.  Thank you for having given me a way to whisper grace and sing out your goodness and affirm your will with conviction (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).



Links of interest…  Burden of the cross…  Delanceyplace: archives / home / second guessing ourselves (Presence)…  Holy face of Jesus calls us…  Often-overlooked saints of Good Friday…  Pain beneath the cross…  A person’s a person no matter how small…  Prayer before the cross / a crucifix…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Simon of Cyrene: athlete & saint of passersby…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotion / fish eaters / for families (more) / for kids (coloring pages) / how to do / making them worthwhile / on your block / origin / prayers (video & music) / printables / puppet show (YT) /  scriptural (JPII) / significance / way of the cross…  Stuck on the way: Simon-Veronica loop…  Twelve things to know about Holy Saturday…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis…  Waking up on Good Friday (nine things to know)…

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Disquieting moments…  Growing pains…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Mercy and justice…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sorrowful redemption…  Today’s Beatitudes

Lingering memory

BSJ122714s-46After dad died, mom would lie in bed to pray with my little brother and me every night.

“What happens if I fall asleep before we finish the rosary?” I’d ask.

“The Blessed Mother will finish it for you,” she’d whisper before starting a rhyming prayer that I absolutely loved.

Even though I didn’t understand all the words, I’d find comfort in the cadence, try to keep up with the prayer, and visualize the story in bold colors until I fell asleep.

Of course, time passed and life changed.  I forgot to ask about the prayer until a couple of years before mom died.

“Teach me the rhyming prayer.”

“How does it go?” she asked.  “Tell me some of the words.”

I treasured its memory but recalled only one line: “Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar.”  

Mom had no idea what I was talking about!

Lingering memory

Over the years I tried to no avail to find the prayer online.  One day I’ll meet someone versed in Spanish prayers, I thought.  I’ll find the prayer when the time is right.  Besides, the memory of us praying together still lingered vividly.  And that was good enough!

At Wednesday’s Bible study Lawanda shared that she falls asleep before she finishes her nightly prayers.  “But I don’t worry about it.  My guardian angel finishes them for me.”  So I told her what mom had said when I was just six or seven.

Then, out of the blue this evening, I started wondering about mom’s prayer again.

Suddenly, a rose leaf fell on this Chicken Little’s tail: I can email Sr. Marta!  I’ll bet she knows the prayer!  Only I wanted to spell hortelanito correctly, so I looked online and— what do you know?!!

I found mom’s prayer!

Oración de la pasión de Cristo

BSJ122714s-14Jesucristo se ha perdido.  La virgen lo va a buscar, entre portal y portal, entre rosal y rosal.  Debajo de un rosal blanco un hortelanito está.

“Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar.”

“Si señora, que lo he visto antes del gallo cantar.  Entre judíos y judíos, bien acompañado va.  Una cruz lleva en sus hombros que lo hacían arrodillar, una corona de espinas que lo hacían sangrar, una soga en su cuello que de ella tirando van.

“Caminemos, virgen pura, hacia el monte del calvario, que por pronto que lleguemos, ya lo han crucificado.”

Ya le habrán clavado los pies.  Ya le habrán clavado las manos.  Ya le habrán tirado la lanza en su divino costado.

La sangre que derramara se encuentra en el cáliz sagrado.  El hombre que la bebiera será bien aventurado.  Será rey en este mundo y en el otro coronado.

El hombre que dirá esta oración todos los viernes del año salvará un alma de pena y la suya del pecado.  Quien lo sabe no lo dice, quien lo oye no lo aprende y el día del juicio final verá lo que pase en el (Mendoza, 1939).

January 16, 2016

As we drove to meet Bill and Robin for dinner yesterday, Steven said, “I really like your post.  It’s very touching.  But, if I may make a suggestion, can you also add your own personal English translation?”

Prayer of the passion of Christ

While my version, as literal as possible, may not (at all) read as poetically as the original Spanish prayer, the story ties in sweetly, poignantly to the stations of the cross.

For starters, an hortelanito is someone who takes care of plants and/or crops, like a gardener or a field laborer.  In this instance, the man, referred to diminutively (with affection and/or respect), is tending to the flowers in his care when Our Lady engages him about her missing son, Jesus.  So the dialogue might be from the scene leading to the fourth station, “Jesus meets his mother,” while the rest of the narrative alludes to our salvation though Christ’s suffering that sorrowful, pivotal day.

Jesus is lost.  The Virgin is looking for him, door by door, rose bush by rose bush.  Under the rose bush with white flowers a gardener stands.

“Gardener, in God’s name, tell me the honest truth.  Have you seen Jesus of Nazareth pass by here?”

“Yes, ma’m.  I saw him pass before the rooster crowed.  Among the many Jews he was well accompanied.  A cross carried on his shoulders that brought him to his knees, a crown of thorns that made him bleed, a rope around his neck from which they pulled on him.

“Let us walk then, Virgin Purest, toward Mount Calvary because, no matter our haste to arrive, he will surely be crucified.”

They have nailed his feet.  They have nailed his hands.  They have speared his divine side.

The blood that has been shed is found in the sacred chalice.  He who drinks from it will be well rewarded.  He will be king in this world and crowned in the next.

The man who recites this prayer every Friday of the year will save a soul from punishment and yours from sin.  Whomever knows the prayer and doesn’t say it, whomever hears the prayer and doesn’t learn it, on the day of the last judgment will see what happens then.


At the foot of the cross…  Mother of mercy and love, blessed virgin Mary, I am a poor and unworthy sinner; and I turn to you in confidence and love.  You stood by your son as he hung dying on the cross.  Stand also by me, a poor sinner, and by all the priests who are offering Mass today here and throughout the entire Church.  Help us to offer a perfect and acceptable sacrifice in the sight of the holy and undivided Trinity, our most high God.  Amen.

Heartfelt request…  O Mother of Sorrows, who could express the cruel anguish of this moment?  The same child that you once wrapped in swaddling clothes amidst unspeakable joy, you now wrap silently in his burial shroud.  Your tears mingle with the blood and dirt that covers his broken body.  But even in this moment your trust in his promise did not die.  Your mourning was not without hope, for you knew that he would rise again from his grave just as he promised.  Through this bitter sword of sorrow obtain for us the grace to believe with unshakable hope in the victory of our Lord, even in the darkest moments of life.  Amen.

Novena to Our Lady of San Juan…  Amada Virgen de San Juan de los Lagos, cuídanos de todo mal, acompáñanos en nuestra vida, y libéranos de todo tipo de pecado.  (Haga su petición.)  Doy gracias a Dios y a la virgen de los lagos por el favor concedido.

Rece durante nueve días el rosario.  Tambien se reza la “Coronita de los doce privilegios de la inmaculada madre de Dios.”

Our Lady of Sorrows…  Father, as your son was raised on the cross, his mother, Mary, stood by him, sharing his suffering.  May your Church be united with Christ in his suffering and death and so come to share in his rising to new life where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

Prayer of abandonment…  Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.  Whatever you may do, I thank you.  I am ready for all; I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures.  I wish no more than this, O Lord.  Into your hands I commend my soul.  I offer it to you with all the love of my heart; for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself, into your hands without reserve and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father (Charles de Foucald).


Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle – San Juan, TX

Links of interest…  Camino con Jesús (blog)…  El romance tradicional y el corrido en Guatemala (Carlos Navarette, 1987)…  Forming effective adoration…  Fourth station of the cross…  Full of grace: A poignant glimpse at Mary’s final days (video)…  Handing down the faith: Catholicism is caught, not taught…  How I came to think differently about Mary…  La santa cruz de Caravaca: Tesoro de oraciones…  Letanías de la Virgen…  Linguee (Spanish-English translations)…  Mary’s tears are seeds of hope…  Oración: del hortelanito / Jesus se ha perdido / nuestro señor Jesucristo / pasión de Cristo…  Origin of the wood of the cross…  Pious Disciples of the Divine Master (PDDM Sisters): about / blessing of the house in Matamoros, MX…  Power of goodbye…  Prayer before a crucifix…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Shroud of Turin…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotion / fish eaters / for families (more) / for kids (coloring pages) / how to do / making them worthwhile / on your block / origin / prayers (video & music) / printables / puppet show (YT) / scriptural (JPII) / significance / way of the cross…  This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the Shroud of Turin…  Veiled Christ: Miracle of transparent marble…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis…  Why wasn’t Joseph at the crucifixion

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Building community…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Dear God…  Full circle…  Gifts…  God’s lovely gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Making meaning…  Marian devotions…  Mourning joy…  Our Lady…  Picturing God…  Quiet prayer time…  Sacred Heart Church…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sensory overload…  Sorrowful redemption…  Soulful…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Two takes

Christmas scenes


Our Lady of Guadalupe Church – Brownsville, TX

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Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle – San Juan, TX




St. Paul the Apostle Church – (Flour Bluff) Corpus Christi, TX

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Immaculate Conception Cathedral – Brownsville, TX



Sacred Heart Church – Brownsville, TX


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Holy Cross Church – Corpus Christi, TX


Links of interest…  Christmas: all about / artarticles / celebrating / eve & day / free & funflash mob (YouTube) / holy family – nativity (more) / in the simple things /  meaning of wishmas / movies / music: eleven hymns & songs (video) & seven originals / novena (Nov 30-Dec 24) / origami (calendar boxes – ornaments – treats for trees) / ornaments / poem (CSJ prayer app) / poinsettia / prayers for family (more) / printables / seasonal customs / traditions (more) / visit…  Five ways to put all those Christmas cards to good use…  How to keep your Christmas tree looking beautiful & why it’s very much a religious symbol…  Icon of Christian hope: St. Felix of Nola…  Real, live Christmas tunes: classics, countryDial-a-Caroliheartchristmas, & North Pole Radio (stations not accessible year ’round)…  Three temptations of Christmas

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Angels keeping watch…  Blue heaven…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas year ’round…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Church time blues…  Clarisas cookies…  Guadalupe Church…  Heartfelt traditions…  Merry Christmas…  Oh, happy day…  On being Christian…  Our Lady’s church…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  San Juan Diego…  Santo Niño…  Slice of heaven…    Sweet Jesus…  Twelve candles…  Venerable Margaret