Niño de Cebú

What a glorious evening in honor of the Santo Niño de Cebú!  Mass at seven was concelebrated by Bishop Mulvey, Fr. Paul, and Fr. Kisito at St. Pius X in Corpus Christi.

          

Bishop’s homily

It’s good to be with you again this year.  I can’t believe another year has gone by.  Seems like only yesterday— or at least a few weeks ago— that we were here for this beautiful celebration of Santo Niño.  So I’m very happy to be here with you again this evening.

Three epiphanies

You may have noticed in the feast of Epiphany which was two weeks ago that there we spoke of three epiphanies.

The Church has proclaimed that Jesus is made known, revealed in three ways.  So, the first is the Magi that come from afar, meaning that people from everywhere are called to come and adore Christ.  And there they saw the newborn son, the word God come in the flesh.  Last week we celebrated the baptism of the Lord where Jesus reveals— the Holy Spirit reveals— the relationship with God the Father and his son when it is heard, “This is my beloved son.  Listen to him.”  An epiphany.  And, today, as we read the gospel of St. John with Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana, again his glory is shown in his first miracle.  Another epiphany.

And so these three epiphanies surround this time of the year as we celebrate the birth of the son of God, his gift to us.

Wedding at Cana

In that wedding feast of Cana, if I were to ask you or you were to ask each other what that feast was about, you could probably recount some of the details of the jars that were there— that were empty, that were filled with water, that Jesus changed them into wine, that Mary asked him to do it— those kinds of things of details.

St. John’s account

Many stories, of course, in forms of jokes, unfortunately, use this particular scene of Jesus’s life for humor.  Yet St. John not only recounts the details, but the beauty of the gospel.  You know, we have Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the synoptics.  They kind of line up with each other, but St. John takes it to another level.  His is the contemplative gospel that recounts events that have happened, but he goes much deeper into the symbolism of what was happening.

From the Jewish culture of which he was a part, he can also see the similarities that Jesus brings by the newness that Jesus adds to it.  So what do we find for our edification tonight at this particular scene of the wedding feast of Cana?

Six, not seven

Number six is one of the significant symbolisms, which you probably have heard if you’ve studied any kind of a Bible course or you’ve attended a class or maybe you’ve heard it in a homily.  But the number seven is the perfect number.  God rested on the seventh day.  So many other increments of seven— forty-nine et cetera— speak of the perfection of God’s work.  And so it’s interesting for St. John that there were six jars, not seven.

Being that there was an insufficiency there, that in this particular wedding feast which, for the Jewish people a wedding feast in a small town or any town was a monumental moment that went all week long, the bride and the groom had to remain dressed in their wedding garments all week.  The doors were open.  People came in and out to visit them and to greet them all week long.  So the wedding feast was extremely important to society, just as for us tonight Santo Niño is a part of the culture of the Philippines, is part of your culture.  And so, when St. John points out that there were only six jars, he’s saying that what is about to happen is the completion of what is insufficient, that Jesus brings something new.

Filling the jars

The stewards were asked to fill those jars with water.  Again, absurd for the wedding feast because, of course, wine was to be there and, as St. John reports, the best wine was to be served first.  And so, to use water meant that something was lacking.

Not knowing what was to happen the stewards, probably with huge questions in their minds, filled the jars with water.  They were instructed by the Blessed Mother— by Mary— to fill them with water.

Today in our sufficiency we would, say, go out to— I won’t name any of the stores around here.  I don’t want to offend anybody.  If you were to go to another one, then I would know.  But we’d just go down the street.  Get some more.  But water?  Water?

The greatest gift

When they did so, Jesus at that moment then changed it not into just regular wine, but to the best of wine which, again, is saying he’s there at that feast, at that important moment.

Some say the bridegroom was a relative of Mary’s somewhere in her family tree, so they were well known there.  But he brings in the best.  And St. John can easily see that it refers to himself and his own ministry that, when Jesus comes to us— when he has come to us— he comes as God’s greatest gift: the best, not just the ordinary, but the very best.

Relationship

We see that, in the book of the prophet Isaiah tonight, when the prophecy of Isaiah speaks of God marrying his people, coming into relationship with his people, which means us, these symbolisms, these realities of marriage, covenant, of wine that we celebrate now in the sacrament here at the altar— all of these are mediums by which God is among us.

Jesus wants to announce in this epiphany at the wedding feast of Cana that, in his person, God is now here with you.  The number six is no longer imperfect.  The water is no longer water, but wine.  And, he is there in their midst, to bring joy to their hearts.  This is the message for you and me tonight.

We can ask in our own lives, have we invited Jesus into our homes?  Do we invite Jesus into our families?  Do we invite Jesus into our difficulties?  Or do we just sit and complain and complain and write letter after letter of anger et cetera?

Inviting Jesus into our lives is what brings something new to any situation or to any relationship.  Without Jesus in our relationship, there is no peace.  And our relationships remain mundane.  We use them, but Jesus wants to be part of our life.  And what is the relationship that Jesus brings?

Love and sacrifice

As we continue on in the gospel of St. John, or if we continue looking there, what is that wine that Jesus brought us?  What is that newness that Jesus brought to the wedding feast where friends were gathered?

It is the wine of the new commandment.  I give you a new commandment: Love one another.

Even if the wedding feast in Jesus takes just human love— just human relationships, a human marriage— and changes it into something new, into something that is vital, something that is life-giving, that couple hopefully one day recalled or heard the words of Jesus.

Love one another.  Sacrifice your life for one another.  That’s what brings joy and peace to people’s lives, not taking away from one another, not extracting life out of others, not commanding others but being there in true harmony as God is harmony himself.  That’s the newness that St. John understands, that Jesus brought to that wedding feast: to be introduced into that couple’s life as he was about to, in the next years, sacrifice for you and for me.

Jesus was meaning to say, then, “Sacrifice your life for one another.”

Sacrifice your life for the good of your brothers and sisters.  Don’t keep Jesus out of your life.  Don’t keep his commandment to love as some abstract suggestion.  It’s at the heart of our lives to love one another as God has loved us in Jesus Christ.

At the end of the gospel reading of the wedding feast at Cana, St. John tells us that Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee.  And so he revealed his glory.  He revealed that something new is here.

So, you want to go along with the crowd?  That’s fine.  But you’ll find nothing new.  Jesus is what’s new even today.  And, St. John says, “His disciples began to believe in him” (John 2:11).

Welcoming heart

The question for us tonight is: Do we believe in him?  Do we believe that he is what’s new?  Do we believe that in our broken Church, our broken world, we need him at our wedding feast?  Do we need him in our lives?  The disciples obviously thought so.  They believed in him.

What does it take to believe, sisters and brothers?  It’s not believing just a bunch of rules and morals and doctrines.  It means believing in the person of Jesus Christ.  And what do we need to do that?  Jesus told us.  “You will not enter the kingdom of God unless you become like a little child.”  There we have the meaning of this night.  Many would say to you probably, “Well, Jesus is not a baby anymore.  He’s a grown up.”  That’s true.  But Santo Niño reminds us that he wants us to have the same humility, the same dependence in our life as a child— as a child.

The role of a child in our Christian faith is not insignificant.  It is extremely important.  So, as we celebrate tonight, as we pray for those who are in harm’s way, perhaps in any way, in the Philippines and beyond, let us remember that it’s being children that we can be open to the newness of God in our life.  It’s a child that throws open the door to friends when they come to the door.  It’s a child who wants to serve.  Let’s have that childlike— not childish, but childlike— heart in our lives that we can welcome the new things that God wants to bring into our lives every day when we say, “Welcome to our feast.  Welcome to my house” (Bishop Michael Mulvey; January 19, 2019; transcribed audio recording, edited).

         

          

                

        

                  

Prayer

Santo Niño, holy child Jesus, we adore you, we hope in you, we love you.  Have mercy on us.  Listen to our prayers, especially to those who are suffering, dying, and grieving.  Help us imitate your humility, simplicity, compassion, total self-giving, and love.  Illumine our minds, purify our hearts, and cleanse our souls, for we wish to glorify you in all that we do so that at the end of our life, we may see you face to face with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Mother Mary and St. Joseph, through your intercession, may we grow in our love for Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

January 20, 2019

“It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet” (Pope Francis in Laudato Si).

Our Lady of Sorrows – McAllen, TX

Links of interest…  Child Jesus: coloring pages (more) / devotion / infancy & childhood / just who wasmeditations / miracles (books) / photos / questions & answers / reverence / solemnity / St. Anthonyvisions…  Divine Child: devotion / prayersanctuary…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / brief history / chaplet / feast / history / league / novena / of good health (more) / petitions / prayers in Spanish…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about (more) / chapel / history / miracles (more) / origin / prayers / story…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / devotionfeast (more) / history / homily / novena / origin (more) / perpetual novena / song (YouTube)…  St. John the Baptist Church: facebook / website…  St. Pius X: facebook / Santo Niño devotionwebsite

WP posts…  Beloved joyful priest…  Call of service…  Celebrations…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  God’s loving mercy…  Mercy and justice…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Santo Niño…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Holy Vietnamese Martyrs

Initially the Fullness of Truth Angels and Demons conference was to have been hosted by St. Mary Cathedral but, most likely because of limited on-street parking, the venue was changed to northeast Austin.

Holy Vietnamese Martyrs

The church was beyond gorgeous— eye candy for the mind, heart, and soul— so I made the most of my time between sessions and photographed everything in sight.

September 28-29, 2018

          

         

         

          

        

                       

                  

          

          

         

         

         

          

         

         

          

Fullness of Truth

                  

                  

      

                  

Prayers

Lord, so great is our love for you that, even though we walk in a world where speaking your name can mean certain death, your faithful still speak it— and speak it all the louder.  Help us work for a world where all may speak their creeds and pray their prayers without fear of violence.  Hear the prayers of those who abide with you in dangerous times and in dark valleys and who die with your name on their lips.  Draw them quickly to your side where they might know eternal peace.  Amen (Catholic Relief Services).

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that, if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadows of death.  I will not fear for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone (Thomas Merton).

O God, source and origin of all fatherhood who kept the martyrs, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, faithful to the cross of your Son even to the shedding of their blood, grant, through their intercession, that, spreading your love among our brothers and sisters, we may be your children both in name and in truth.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen (The Roman Missal).

Señor, tan grande es nuestro amor por ti que, a pesar de que vivimos en un mundo donde pronunciar tu nombre puede significar una muerte segura, tus fieles aún lo dicen— y lo dicen con más fuerza.  Ayúdanos a trabajar por un mundo donde todos pueden hablar sus credos y rezar sus oraciones sin miedo a la violencia.  Escucha las oraciones de los que están contigo en tiempos difíciles y en los valles oscuros y que mueren con tu nombre en sus labios.  Llévalos pronto a tu lado donde puedan conocer la paz eterna.  Amen (CRS).

January 2, 2019

“Intimacy with the Lord is not a matter of physical kinship; rather, it is achieved by cheerful readiness to do the will of God” (St. Basil the Great).

January 3, 2019

The gift of faith, which comes to us from God, is a sublime grace.  But we are not intended to keep it to ourselves— in effect, to bury it in the ground.  The apostolic fishermen were ordained to be fishers of souls and not custodians of an aquarium (Fr. George W. Rutler in Hints of Heaven).

January 5, 2019

My God, how great you are, how wonderful in all your works!  Teach me your will that I may begin and end all my actions for your greater glory (St. John Neumann).

Links of interest…  Fullness of Truth: Angels & Demons / Why do Catholics do that…  Holy Vietnamese Martyrs church: facebook / Mass times / photos / website…  St. Andrew Dung-Lac & companions117 martyrs / about (more) / Nov 24 (more) / prayer / quote

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  St. Austin Church…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s…  St. Michael chaplet…  Two angels…  Welcoming spirit

Welcoming spirit

The last weekend in September we attended the Angels and Demons Fullness of Truth conference at Holy Vietnamese Martyrs in Austin but, instead of returning there for Saturday evening Mass, we opted for Sunday morning Mass at St. Albert the Great.

Ten o’clock Mass

We arrived half an hour early to take photos as quietly as possible without disturbing anyone, and I did fine— until an older couple noticed me nearby.

The woman stood to speak.  “Are we going to be in your photos?”  And, before I even had the chance to answer, she added, “Because we don’t want our pictures taken.”

“Oh, no,” I said, trying to calm her.  “I’m only photographing the stations of the cross.  Aren’t they beautiful?”

I moved along to the Blessed Mother’s side altar and basked in her presence.  I was so grateful for her understanding that I couldn’t stop smiling.

Welcoming spirit

Then, out of nowhere, a crystalline voice called out to me!  Our Lady!  A child?  The Holy Infant filled me with so much love, joy, and peace that I wanted to cry!  My mind, heart, and soul scrambled to make meaning.  Was anyone even there?

I turned around and quickly surmised that, in wanting to console me, Our Lady had sent a child— a beautiful, precocious little emissary with a welcoming spirit— to help me see that everything was fine.

“Why are you taking all those pictures?” the youngster asked with great confidence and an even bigger grin.

Memories rushed my senses as I was transported to the familiar: the many fun lively discussions with my students over the years.  I felt totally at ease, wholly immersed in the teachable moment.  So, maintaining a respectful distance three chairs away from where the little boy sat, I bent forward slightly to chat from where I stood in the aisle as, no doubt, Our Lady listened in on the animated tête-à-tête she’d so graciously arranged.

          

          

          

          

          

          

          

      

      

         

Prayers

God, you made St. Albert great by enabling him to combine human wisdom and divine faith.  Help us to adhere to his teaching that we may progress in the sciences and… come to a deeper understanding and love of you.  Amen.

When I feel rejected…  Loving God, you made me who I am.  I praise you and love you, for I am wonderfully made in your own image.  But, when people make fun of me, I feel hurt, embarrassed, and even ashamed.  So, please, God, help me remember my own goodness which lies in you.

Help me remember my dignity, which you gave me when I was conceived.  Help me remember that I can live a life of love because you created my heart.  Be with me, loving God, when people hate me.  Help me to respond how you would want me to— with a love that respects others but also respects me.  Help me find friends who love me for who I am.  Help me, most of all, to be a loving person.

And, God, help me remember that Jesus loves me; for he was seen as an outcast.  He was misunderstood.  He was beaten and spat upon.

Jesus understands me and loves me with a special love because of the way you made me.  And, when I am feeling lonely, help me to remember that Jesus welcomed everyone as a friend.  Jesus reminded everyone that God loved them.  He encouraged everyone to embrace their dignity, even when others were blind to seeing that dignity.  Jesus loved everyone with the boundless love that you gave him.  And he loves me, too.

One more thing, God.  Help me remember that nothing is impossible with you, that you have a way of making things better, that you can find a way of love for me even if I can’t see it right now.

Help me remember all these things in the heart you created, loving God.  Amen (James Martin, SJ; edited).

St. Albert quotes

“I have never gone out to mingle with the world without losing something of myself.”

“It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man and man to God.”

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his.  Therefore she is unsure in herself.  What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions.  And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil….  Thus in evil and perverse doings woman is cleverer, that is, slyer, than man.  Her feelings drive woman toward every evil, just as reason impels man toward all good.  [Poppycock!  And we wonder why Church (big C) is the way it is?!!]

November 6, 2018

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 (Simone Troisi & Cristiana Paccini in Chiara Corbella Petrillo).

November 14, 2018

When does God speak to us?  He speaks at all times, especially in prayer.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  But it is not a monologue.  When we pray, then, we should also listen (Fr. Kilian J. Healy in Awakening Your Soul to Presence of God).

November 28, 2018

We do not define ourselves as men or as women through our work, our house, our health, or our reputation.  We define ourselves as men and women through the way we love (Simone Troisi & Cristiana Paccini in Chiara Corbella Petrillo).

Links of interest…  Albertus Magnus quotes (more)…  Church & science are not at war…  Good science/bad science…  Mary’s intercession speeds up the hour of grace…  Meditation vs. reflection…  Statements on women by church doctors, fathers, & saints…  St. Albert the Great: about / champion of faith & reasonchurch (bulletins) / doctor of the church / litanyMarian prayerNov 15 / novenaoptional memorial / prayer chainscientist (more)…  Tune into silence

WP posts…  Holy Vietnamese Martyrs…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  St. Austin…  St. Jude chapel…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited

Our Lady Star

Of the three visits in three years to Our Lady Star of the Sea, the third was the charm: Sunday Mass in a lovely church, welcoming parishioners, and lots of great photo opportunities.  Who could ask for anything more?

“This is really nice!” Steven whispered, as if reading my thoughts.

“Yes,” I grinned.  “Let’s come back as often as we can!”

September 20, 2016

After the Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event, Steven and I visited Our Lady Star of the Sea for the very first time.

In the late nineties the Oblate priest assigned to the church in Port Isabel substituted for Fr. Moran just once at Sacred Heart in Brownsville.  Yet his analogy of the soul, “a multifaceted crystal,” captivated me so thoroughly that I longed to learn more.

Weekly, I contemplated the long drive to hear the priest’s homily but, always, I was  exhausted from work, kids, and everything on my lunch tray in life.

Then came the awful news that the priest had died.  What a terrible loss not just for his parishioners, but also for my soulful searching.

            

                

            

            

            

            

            

            

            

November 21, 2017

This Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event included a talk by Pat Marchan, parishioner at Our Lady Star of the Sea.  Besides learning about the church’s history, especially in regard to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Steven and I also concluded that the parish, like St. Joseph’s in Port Aransas, is small, thus welcoming and most appreciative of its visitors’ generosity.

            

            

               

            

                 

August 19, 2018

The drive to Our Lady Star of the Sea was sunshiny pleasant.  We’d allowed ourselves ample time to get there and were surprised to arrive half an hour early for ten o’clock Mass— in perfect time for the rosary, no less.  And, as others smilingly filled the pews around us, we knew we’d chosen the right church that morning.

After Mass I took photos as usual and noticed a young couple with a new candle at the alcove to the right of the altar.  “Would you take our picture?” the woman asked.

“Sure!  Just tell me what to do since I don’t know how to take photos with a cell phone.”

“It’s easy,” the woman enthused as she showed me where to click.

What a fun experience!  They not only waited for me to take extras, but also shared that the photos were for family members.  What a sweet, gracious duo!  We wished each other well and then broke away to do our own thing: them, praying at the side altar; me, giving full rein to my third eye.

As I rejoined Steven at our pew, a light-hearted man approached.  He offered Steven a bulletin from his stash.

“We already have one, thanks,” Steven said.

The man, Cayetano, turned out to be quite chatty, very friendly.  We were in no rush— noon Mass was still a ways off— so we took our time listening to what he had to say.

I reached into my tote to retrieve a couple of calling cards.  I offered one to Cayetano before he moved on to the man seated two pews ahead of us.  Then I walked back across the center aisle to talk with the couple from before.

Steven joined us shortly, and we introduced ourselves.

Cynthia and Jesse were visiting from Roma, TX and, as we conversed, Cynthia handed me a dainty Lady of Guadalupe rosary lapel pin.

“I like to share these with others,” she said with a joyful heart.

I was quite touched, very grateful, and told her I’d treasure her gift.  Then I gave her my card, and we exchanged email addresses.

Cynthia and Jesse attend Mass at Immaculate Conception in Rio Grande City— a church I’ve long waited to visit— so maybe we’ll see each other again where they were married twenty-five years ago.

          

                

          

                  

                

                        

          

                

                

September 8, 2018

A great deal can be said about diversity and perspective, so we often attend weekend Mass at different times.  Over the years we’ve found that the ambiance, the music, the people, and the priest’s homily— both content and delivery— are quite telling of a church community; so we eagerly opted for five o’clock Mass.

Taking photos afterwards I met Francis, who enthusiastically shared personal stories of the former church school and Our Lady’s statue in the alcove, gave me two of the altar postcards she retrieved from the sacristy, and introduced her daughter and her son-in-law who were visiting her that weekend.  Then I met the greeter— a sweet, thoughtful woman whose name eludes me at the moment— who allowed me the privilege of taking the last of my photos even after church was closed for the night (since we could exit through a self-locking door leading to the parking lot).

To be allowed free reign within a sacred space was quite fulfilling; to be valued for my gifts and talents, immensely gratifying.  I felt so very blessed!  

         

            

     

      

September 23, 2018

We’d talked about returning to Our Lady Star of the Sea for Sunday morning Mass, but rain was anticipated.  Being that I hate to be out and about in bad weather and that the drive to Port Isabel would be long, we chose St. Benedict’s instead.

When we arrived at ten forty-five, the parking areas were already full, as if Mass had been in progress for a while.

“Get down and see,” I said to Steven who, within moments, returned with a bulletin indicating that Sunday morning Masses are now at eight, ten, and twelve— not eleven.

“So, do we wait around for noon Mass or go elsewhere?” Steven asked.

“The sky’s clear, the sun’s out, and we have enough time to make it to Port Isabel by twelve.  Let’s just go.”

What a memorable experience!  Now I understand why Cynthia and Jesse drive all the way from Roma for noon Mass.  The music was singable, lively, heartfelt; the homily, relevant; and everyone present, fully engaged.

After Mass I exited the street-side door and walked over to the chapel, only to find its entryway locked.  Next time, I thought.  Then, on turning, I discovered the outdoor statue of Our Lady and Jesus.  Oh, my goodness.  I hadn’t expected that!

          

          

                  

          

            

      

Chaplet (edited)

Most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, blessed mother of the Son of God, immaculate virgin, assist me in my necessity.  O Star of the Sea, help me!  (State your heartfelt request.)

Holy Mary, mother of God, queen of heaven and earth, I humbly ask for your help from the bottom of my heart.

On each of the three beads…  Pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Gloria.

On each of the twelve beads…  Pray a Hail Mary and say,

Our Lady Star of the Sea, help and protect us!  Sweet mother, I place this matter in your hands.

        

More beaded samples

                

                       

Prayer

Our Lady Star of the Sea, through you came the light of the world.  You cared for the Son of God.  Now all God’s children are your charge.  To those who are in distress you provide a beacon of hope.  If we wander from our faith, you guide us back to our true course.  In dark times we pray to you! 

Everlasting light of our lives, blessed virgin chosen by God, Our Lady Star of the Sea, pray for us.  Amen.

September 7, 2018

Purpose is the reason you journey.  Passion is the fire that lights your way (Angel Chernoff).

September 16, 2018

Photograph things you care about, not what you think others want to see.  There is no substitute for passion (Sarah Rice).

September 26, 2018

Watch the light.  Photography is made by light.  If the light is interesting, your images will be as well (Michael “Nick” Nichols).

November 4, 2018

Know the light in your environment and adjust your position in relation to it.  You can create depth in a picture by moving so the light strikes your subject from angles rather than head on (Sarah Polger).

November 7, 2018

Photography is a strange phenomenon….  You trust your eye and cannot help but bare your soul (Inge Morath).

November 18, 2018

Be open when photographing people.  If you are asking someone to share their life with you, share your life with them.  Don’t make it a one way street (Greg Kahn).

December 23, 2018

“Use your camera not just as an extension of your eye, but also as an extension of your heart” (Ana Vitale).

March 3, 2019

When you enter into a room, stand on a cliff, or gaze in awe at the world around you, don’t look for what it is— look for what it is not.  Delve into the unexpected (John Stanmeyer).

Links of interest…  Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (prayerdaily – novenas – request)…  National Geographic…  Our Lady Star of the Sea: early churchfacebook / mapMass times…  Port Isabel:  cemetery / Oblate memorial…  Star of the sea: Seafarers prayers…  Star of the Sea: about / chaplet: Our Lady of the Sea – Stella Maris / medals (origin)…  Texas Tropical Trail

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Beautiful sacred space…  Building community…  Call of service…  Connected tangents…  Dear God…  Etched in time…  Father now retired…  Father’s guided tour…  Gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Home again…  Lebh Shomea…  Marian devotions…  Memory lane…  Our Lady…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

Three visits

Severe weather had been predicted in the Coastal Bend and the surrounding area, so we chose to get ahead of the deluge.  Instead of driving to Cotulla the morning of the Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event, we left home mid-morning the day before.  And, sure, we experienced rain— intermittent water bursts, showers, and the cat-and-dog variety— but the sun was its usual bright self when we arrived.

June 18, 2018

Settling in at the hotel Steven searched churches online.  “Sacred Heart Church has daily mass at six this evening.  You interested?”

Churches fascinate me so, naturally, I was curious.  We arrived half an hour early to take photos before Mass.  We’d been to a few churches by the same name— not that they’re anything alike— but, walking into Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Good Counsel in Brownsville came to mind.

One woman led the rosary as others took turns introducing the decades.  Afterwards, Sister approached the ambo to tell us about the framed picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  She explained that, because Our Lady’s powerful intercessions are miraculous, the group would petition God for a permanent priest.

When the first-day novena prayers ended, people began to leave.

I approached Sister to ask about Mass, and she explained that Sacred Heart has been without a pastor for three years.  The elderly retired priest who celebrates Mass in the interim has Monday off, so daily Mass is Tuesday through Friday.

Others had comments, questions, or just wanted to bid Sister goodbye; so I turned my attention to the couple that lingered a bit on the way out.

Although they were upbeat and smiling, they were in pain.  The woman could barely move even with the use of her walker; the man seemed heavily burdened.  She had so much she wanted to do, she said, but her legs were a serious impediment.  He simply nodded as he listened to our chatter.  God, faith, crosses in life— I sensed the struggles.  Yet they were faithful.  And hopeful. 

For whatever reason God had brought us together that evening.  Some longed to believe, to belong, to touch the hem of Jesus to be healed, while others were there to console, to encourage, to simply be whatever God intended.  And, even if ever so briefly, we connected as lifelong friends, baring our true selves among kindred spirits.

O Cotulla, your people are so endearing.  How I long to be there again!

            

            

            

            

            

      

          

                

   

June 19, 2018

         

           

            

June 26, 2018

   

Prayers

Blessed St. Joseph…  I consecrate myself to your honor and give myself to you that you may always be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of salvation.  Obtain for me great purity of heart and a fervent love of the interior life.  After your example, may I perform my actions for the greater glory of God in union with the divine heart of Jesus and the immaculate heart of Mary.  Pray for me, St. Joseph, that I may experience the peace and joy of your holy death.  Amen.

Glorious St. Anthony…  You have exercised the divine power to find what was lost.  Help me to recover the grace of God, and make me zealous in the service of God and in the practice of living the virtues.  Let me find what I have lost, thus showing me the presence of your goodness.

Anthony, glorious servant of God, famous for your merits and powerful miracles, help us to find what was lost.  Give us your help in times of temptation and enlighten our minds in searching the will of God.  Help us to find again the life of grace, which our sin destroyed, and lead us to the possession of the glory promised us by the Savior.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Recite an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Gloria.

Mother of Perpetual Help…  Grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying.  Purest Mary, let your name be ever on my lips.  Delay not, blessed lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you.

In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary.  What a consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of you!  I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name.  But I will not be content with merely uttering your name.  Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you, Mother of Perpetual Help.  Pray for me and grant me the favor I confidently ask of you.

Pray three Hail Mary‘s.

Our Lady of Guadalupe…  Dear mother, we love you.  We thank you for your promise to help us in our need.  We trust in your love that dries our tears and comforts us.  Teach us to find our peace in your son, Jesus, and bless us every day of our lives.  Help us to build a shrine in our hearts.  Make it as beautiful as the one built for you on the mount of Tepeyac, a shrine full of trust, hope, and love of Jesus growing stronger each day.

Mary, you have chosen to remain with us by giving us your most wonderful and holy self-image on Juan Diego’s cloak.  May we feel your loving presence as we look upon your face.  Like Juan, give us the courage to bring your message of hope to everyone.  You are our mother and our inspiration.  Hear our prayers and answer us.  Amen.

Our Lady of Victories…  O sweet and gentle Lady, immaculate mother of God, we beg you to be our mother now and all the days of our life.  Shield us Mother Mary with your holy mantle that nothing of the enemy could harm us.

Ask your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to spare us from any calamities that will cause our life misery.  Pray for us that we may lead a life pleasing to him and, when our end comes, present us to him [that] we may live in his kingdom forever and ever.  Amen.

Our Lady of Victories, please pray for us.

Links of interest…  Cotulla: aboutcounty seat / history / livabilityTexas Bucket List…  Feast days of Mary…  Our Lady of Perpetual Help: June 27 (more) / miraculous icon  (background) / novena (June 19) / story / who is…  Sacred Heart Church: facebookwebsite…  Texas Tropical Trail

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Heartfelt traditions…  Marian devotions…  Second looks…  Twelve and five…  Undeniable familiarity

Persistence

Driving home from Cotulla we had every intention of stopping at Hillcrest Tortillas and Bakery in Hebbronville.  We’d eaten the last of the tamales purchased mid-October; and my sweet tooth was already contemplating the prospect of empanadas, pan de nuez, or some other caloric treat.  But one does not live by bread alone!

Photo opportunity

“Do you think we can swing by Our Lady of Guadalupe first?” I asked.

We’d first visited Hebbronville with the Texas Tropical Trail group, June 16, 2009.  Then Steven and I had returned for Vaquero Fest the first Saturday in November.

After the parade we’d followed the celebration to the plaza and learned that Our Lady of Guadalupe was hosting its own festivities: a tour of the chapel; a book reading in the church basement; and, for the fortunate few like us, a tour of Scottus College.  Oh, the views from the breezeway!

Steven interrupted my thoughts.

“What if it’s locked?  It’s just past noon.  What if Mass already started?  I don’t want to get down in shorts.”

“It’ll be okay,” I said.  “We’ll stay in the back, and I’ll take photos afterwards.”

Persistence

Several cars occupied the parking area in front of Scottus College.  Mass?  A conference? 

A mom and her kids walked out to their vehicle.  Vacation Bible school?  Day care?

With my Coolpix and the Word among us in hand, we approached the church entrance and found, to our amazement, that one of the doors was wide open.

Stepping into the vestibule, we looked past the glass doors into the darkened nave.  Our persistence had paid off.  We had the church all to ourselves!

            

                        

                

                        

                        

                        

                  

                        

         

                  

            

                

Prayers

Blessed Mother, queen of peace…  Ever blessed and immaculate Mary, you are the heavenly patroness of our country.  In your generous kindness, we beg you to obtain for us a more perfect union, domestic tranquility, justice for all our citizens, and the blessings of peace and prosperity for us and our descendants.  Help us view all the people of this world as children of God and as our brothers and sisters.  [Help us] to seek just and peaceful means to redress even the most grievous wrongs done against us.  Amen.

Devotion to St. Francis…  Beloved St. Francis, gentle and poor, your obedience to God and your simple, deep love for all God’s creatures led you to the heights of heavenly perfection and turned many hearts to follow God’s will.  Pray for us [and for] the many who come here searching for peace.  Intercede for us as we come before the Lord with our special requests.  Blessed saint of God, from your throne among the hosts of heaven, present our petitions before our faithful Lord.  May your prayers on our behalf be heard and may God grant us the grace to lead good and faithful lives.  Amen.  St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

Meditation…  Lord God, you watch over us every moment of the day, even when we are not thinking of you.  Help us turn to you from time to time as we pause in our work.  Let us not forget who you are, who we are, why we are here and that we are all, however slowly, returning to you who made us for yourself.  Please teach us how to pray even when words won’t come, when our spirits are heavy, when our minds are tired.  By the merits of Christ, our savior who knew times of tiredness and lonesomeness, we ask your aid.  Amen.

Contact information

The prayers above are just three of fourteen featured in Prayers for peace (B-140) from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

        

August 11, 2018

“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart” (St. Francis of Assisi).

Links of interest…  Hillcrest Tortillas, Inc: Authentic Texas (pp. 52-53) / monthly partner event (Sept 2014) / reviews…  Let prayer bring peace to your soul…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church & Scottus College (more)… Our Lady: mother / patroness / storytilma…  Persistence: Francisco Joaquin…  Sacred Heart of Jesus…  St. Anthony: traditions & miraclesrelic…  St. Francis: about / biography / national shrine…  St. Isidore: farmer (more) / feast / litany novena / preserving our inheritance of faith / printable prayer / quotes…  Texas Tropical Trail

WP posts…  Franciscan experience…  Franciscan treasures…  Grapes of generosity…  Historic nuggets…  Honoring Joselito…  St. Anthony…  Vaquero Fest Saturday

Lebh Shomea

On May seventeenth the 150th Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event was celebrated at Lebh Shomea, the house of prayer at La Parra Ranchin Sarita, TX.

With great excitement we toured the original Big House, a wood structure that now belongs to the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and the Blessed Sacrament; the Big House, a stucco structure which took five years to complete; and the Sacred Heart Chapel, flanked on the right and on the left by family cemeteries, the bigger of which includes a Lourdes grotto “in loving memory of John G. Kenedy, 1932” (Plaque).

Still, what Steven and I enjoyed most was our Tuesday through Thursday stay at the Zechariah and Elizabeth hermitage, which included daily Mass, meals, walks, afternoon visits to the main chapel, and nature’s sights and sounds at La Parra’s Listening Heart.

            

           

            

            

            

            

            

            

            

            

           

            

            

            

      

Handouts

                  

            

           

Sign at the Kenedy Ranch Museum – Sarita, TX

Links of interest…  Be quiet: What do you do on a silent retreat (more)…  Elizabeth & Zechariah: about / biographyelder patrons of patience & praise / Jesus’s familial lineMary’s relatives / saints…  Five ways to increase patience…  If you love me you will do my will (prologue)…  Interior life: How to be one through contemplative prayer…  Jesus found time for solitude & prayer…  Kenedy County’s celestial battle / Ranch Museum (actual site)…  La Parra Ranch cemetery…  Lebh Shomea (anecdote – facebook – spiritual renewal – story)…  Living Faith: Silence & solitude…  Modern-day hermits: Answering the call to solitude, prayer…  Petra Kenedy: aboutlegacy / profile…  Prayer of the heart: Solitude & community…  Practice of contemplative prayer…  Sarita Kenedy East (foundation)…  Sarita’s secret…  Sit down & be quiet: How to practice contemplative meditation…  Solitude…  Texas Tropical Trail Regionfacebook / map / Tour Texas (attractions) / The Tropical Traveler (blog)…  Why & how to make a spiritual retreat

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Beautiful sacred space…  Building community…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  Heart of hearts…  Home again…  Memory lane…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Soulful