Forever grateful

One of my all-time wishes came true this year.  On April 29, Steven took me to the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago; and I made three discoveries: The shrine is actually part of St. Pius V, the church altar changed since I was last there, and St. Jude’s first-class relic is on display.

First visit

I’d never been to Chicago until Christmas break from school, 2003.

The second of our two granddaughters had been dismissed from the hospital just hours before my arrival.  Kylie was so small compared to her older sister at that age that her tiny fingers reminded me of a doll’s hands.  Yet she was alert, observant, communicative in her own quiet way, and beautiful.  Riding in her car seat beside me she focused on me as if she’d known me from birth, October 29, 2003; but we were seeing each other for the very first time.

Acacia-Darling was nine-and-a-half, so I hadn’t been around a little one in some time.  I’d forgotten how resilient babies are, that one can change their diapers without breaking them, and that they’re up at all hours of the night just because.  Yet I managed to care for Kylie at night and spent a lot of time being grateful for the opportunity to hold this very special promise of hope for the future.

Then, two nights before my departure to Texas, Kylie wailed so inconsolably for such a long time that she was taken to the hospital again.

I felt terrible when her parents returned home without her in the morning.  Concerned that I wouldn’t be there to take care of her at the hospital, I’d felt compelled to do something.

“Take me to the nearest church, preferably one dedicated to St. Jude,” I told Kylie’s parents.  I’d attended Mass at two different churches in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago but wanted one where I’d feel super close to St. Jude.  I’d never been in Chicago before, but I suddenly remembered the shrine.  “Take me to the St. Jude shrine,” I’d insisted, even though none of us knew where it was.

And what a place!

I knew I was home when I saw the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague.  I walked around and dialogued with God.  I knew everything would be all right with Kylie, that we’d get good news when we got back to the hospital.

As things turned out, Kylie spent another two weeks at the hospital.  Quite an agonizing time for me, being that I couldn’t be there to sing, tell her stories, or try to distract her from the constant pain.  To make matters worse, she was hospitalized a third time, although, thankfully, for just one week.  But she’s fine now, this precious, resilient child with the strong, operatic voice and the golden brown, flyaway macaroni hair.

Which shrine?

After my visit to Chicago I continued to receive separate mailings from both the National Shrine of St. Jude and the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, but I never made the distinction between the two.  I never stopped to wonder which of the two shrines I’d visited.  All that mattered was that I’d prayed at the shrine and St. Jude had worked his wonders on Kylie’s behalf, the same as always for my kids.

However, on October 24, 2009, the reality of the two St. Jude shrines came to light when I posted Kylie’s story on my blog.  I wanted to include the link to the shrine’s website so that interested others could access the site but—  Uh-oh.  Which of the two shrines did I visit?  How could I have missed the name of the church?  How could I have been so oblivious all those years?

I wondered if I’d taken photos that I could compare to those posted online.  I vaguely recalled taking a few but found none.  Maybe I’d imagined doing that?  Still, I was sure of one thing: I’d seen the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague in the back of the church that morning.

After problem solving for a while, I emailed the Dominicans.  Then, after waiting a few days, I contacted the Claretians at the national shrine.

Friday, November 27, 2009 11:11 AM


I’d like to know, please, which of the two Chicago shrines to St. Jude has an encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague?

Thanks sooo much!

Mystery solved

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 9:21 AM

Dear Deli,

Thank you for your email, [as] the Claretians are always grateful to hear from you who share our devotion to St. Jude.

The encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague is not at the National Shrine of St. Jude.

None of the St. Jude Shrines in the United States are affiliated with each other.  The National Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago, Illinois, founded by the Claretians, is the only St. Jude Shrine with the title “National Shrine” since it is the original or “Mother” Shrine of devotion to St. Jude in the United States.

I encourage you to visit the National Shrine of St. Jude website again soon.  Please know that the Claretians pray with and for you each day.  May God bless you.

Father Mark Brummel, C.M.F.
Director, St. Jude League

I was so excited that I told Steven, “I don’t know when or how, but one of these days I’m going back to the Dominican shrine.  I want to sit and visit for a while and take lots of photos.  I want to see the Infant again.”

Sneak peek

On November 16, 2011, I had my wish.  Well, sort of.

In my search for photos of St. Thérèse, I found a double-bagged stash of two dozen photo packets hidden in one of the closets.  Among them?  The photos from our morning visit to the shrine, January 5, 2004.

How I longed to be there!



Second visit

Almost eight-and-a-half years passed between visits to Chicago, but what a glorious experience at St. Pius V the second time around!

Nine-fifteen Spanish Mass was extraordinary!  The singing was uplifting!  The babies offered up to God, literally, along with the gifts at the altar had us near tears!  And, oh, the devotions!

To get a better view of everything, especially the shrines of the Holy Infant, St. Jude, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, respectively, we sat along the back left center aisle, which is how I noticed something puzzling.

My big surprise

During Mass the practice of approaching St. Jude’s shrine and praying for a few moments before stepping up onto the alcove intrigued me even though no one else seemed to notice.  What were these folks doing standing to the right of the altar?  Why was it so important that it couldn’t wait until after Mass?

These individuals pressed their hands up to something as they stood heads bowed, lost in thought.  Why?  What was so special about that wall?

I turned to Steven and whispered, “I keep seeing people go up to touch the shrine’s right wall.  I have to know what’s there!  While I take photos of the church after Mass, please check it out and tell me.”

Well, surprise, surprise.

My first time at the church I’d missed one of the very best parts: the first-class relic at the shrine.  The remains of St. Jude’s arm!  Oh, my gosh!  Had it not been for St. Jude’s faithful during Mass I would’ve missed seeing the relic for the second time, and I never would’ve known any better.  Wow!

At that moment I thought of Kylie…  My first time at St. Pius V, I walked around the church as I prayed to God and all his angels and saints.  I stood, tears in check, before St. Jude— my daughter and her husband, nonbelievers, watching my every move, hurrying me wordlessly.  I never saw the sign at the altar with the arrow pointing to the arm relic of St. Jude Thaddeus on the right.

I’d been so desperate for Kylie’s miracle that just being near St. Jude had been good enough.  But I’d also found comfort in seeing the Holy Infant, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Anthony, St. Thérèse, St. Anne, and San Martin de Porres.




Forever grateful

Until our second visit to the shrine I’d never realized that I’ve had my very own, very personal connections to St. Pius V through St. Jude because of the kids and grandkids.

Kylie’s story transcends time, place, and emotion.  Just remembering makes my eyes water and, before long, rivers stream down my face.  What parent wants a child to hurt?  I would gladly have traded places with Kylie, but all I could do was pray— and walk in faith— that her suffering would be short-lived and that she’d never have to endure such misery again.

Acacia-Darling, now eighteen, has a green candle lit among the many at the massive round table before St Jude.

Enjoy God’s infinite blessings!  Love, hope, & faith… Lon

Yet our children are estranged from us, so we keep them close in thought and prayer.  One day things may change.  But, until then, the St. Jude shrine at St. Pius V keeps our hope for better days vibrantly alive.

We have so much to be grateful for!  Our family.  Our friends.  Folks we meet here and there.  Our faith.  Building community within God’s kingdom is what life is all about.

We give thanks and praise to God for all our comings and goings, and we’re forever grateful to St. Jude for all his intercessions.

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Plaque at the shrine

Relic of St. Jude Thaddeus…  Apostle and martyr, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, patron of hopeless causes

This holy relic is that of an arm of the great St. Jude.  Many spiritual blessings and graces have been granted to those who have prayed asking St. Jude to intercede on their behalf to our blessed Lord for spiritual or physical healing.

“Where there is prayer, there is hope.”  St. Jude, pray for us.

History of the relic…  After his martyrdom, the body of St. Jude was buried temporarily in Mesopotamia and then given a permanent interment in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the other apostles.  His forearm was encased in a silver reliquary and located for many centuries in Armenia.  At the beginning of the 18th century, Armenian Dominican missionaries left Armenia because of the Moslem persecution and brought the relic to Smyrna, Turkey.

The relic was then given to the Provincial of the St. Peter Martyr Province of Turin, Italy.  In 1949, it was presented to the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great for its Dominican Shrine of St. Pius V where the devotion of St. Jude was flourishing, particularly since the time of the Great Depression.

This plaque has been given as a personal testimony from a patron of
St. Jude whose family has received marvelous healing through this relic.


For peace…  Dear St. Jude, we honor you as an apostle of Christ, a herald of the prince of peace.  You remained faithful to your calling and died a martyr before being reunited with Christ in glory.

Please look down with compassion upon our turbulent world.  Intercede before the throne of grace that the present global turmoil may give way to peace and harmony among all nations.

May we live at peace with one another and serve the Lord Jesus as messengers of his peace as you did.  Amen.

St. Jude, disciple of Jesus, pray for us.  May we become the persons our savior wants us to be.

St. Jude, reigning with Christ in glory, pray for us.  May we bring forth fruit to life everlasting.

St. Jude, advocate of hopeless cases, pray for us.  Remind us that we can conquer evil through Christ who loves us.

For tomorrow…  St. Jude, you are with me in all that is new.  May your path of hope be mine in the days ahead.

I promise in faith to share your hope with others, to forgive as I am forgiven by my Father in heaven, and to show sympathy and kindness at every opportunity.

Guide me, St. Jude, so that I will begin each new day with gratitude on my lips, with truth on my mind, and with hope in my heart.

Challenge me, St. Jude, so that I will end each day reflecting on my actions and motivations so that I will grow in faith, love, and hope.  Amen.

Hopeless cases…  Most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of hopeless cases….  Pray for me; I am so helpless and alone.  Make use, I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of.

Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly… and that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.

I promise, O blessed Saint Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to honor you always as my special and powerful patron and, gratefully, to encourage devotion to you.  Amen.

SPV61513-96Impossible cases…  Glorious Saint Jude, with faith in your goodness we ask your help today.  As one of Christ’s chosen apostles, you remain a pillar and foundation of his church on earth.  You are counted, we know, among the elders who always stand before God’s throne.

From your place of glory we know that you do not forget the needs and difficulties of Christ’s little ones here, still struggling, like me on the way home to God.  In particular, I invoke your help with this great problem….  Please intercede for us, gracious Saint Jude, and be with us in our daily toil and in all our necessities.  Amen.

Sharing Christ with others…  St. Jude, apostle and preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ, we thank God for choosing you for this glorious mission.  You saw Jesus face to face, walked and talked with him, and served him without counting the cost.

Pray for us, blessed preacher of the good news that makes even bad news bearable.  May Christ be the center of our lives.  May we welcome every opportunity to share him with others.  This we ask through your powerful intercession.  Amen.

Contact information

St. Jude prayers one and five are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.  Prayer two is from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, P.O. Box 8095, Chicago, IL 60608-0095.  Prayers three and four are from Favorite Patron Saints (The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., pp. 20-21).

July 23, 2013

Lord Jesus, thank you for reaching out your hand to me.  I offer my hands to you.  Use them to reach out to my spiritual family (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 42).

November 16, 2013

Father, in your great kindness you have made me your child.  You know the desires of my heart, and you know what’s best for me and for those I love.  Hear my prayer.  Show me what I can do to bring your kingdom into clearer focus in this situation (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 37).

December 17, 2013

Father, I am amazed that you have called me into your family.  I trust that you have a gracious plan for my life and my family, even if I can’t see it right now.  Lord, I trust in you! (the Word among us, Advent 2013, p. 35).

March 7, 2014

“Stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you” (St. Perpetua).

June 11, 2014

“If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes” (St. Clement of Alexandria).

August 17, 2015

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

November 2, 2015

“The saints assure us that turning to the Lord in our sorrows and placing our hopes in him can give us strength here and now and help prepare us for a future of new life and joy” (Fr. Joseph Esper in More Saintly Solutions).

January 7, 2016

“May the God of love and peace set your heart at rest” (St. Raymond of Peñafort).

August 10, 2016

“Those are patient who would rather bear evils without inflicting them, than inflict them without bearing them” (St. Augustine).

November 26, 2016

“The struggle ends when gratitude begins” (Neale Donald).

March 14, 2017

My hope is not that things will go as I planned, but that the Lord will make himself known, in the faces of my loved ones, in the unexpected joys of family life that pop up right in the middle of our messy chaos, in the ways he provides for me and shows me his tender care in the most detailed ways (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).

May 7, 2017

There is no closer bond than the one which gratefulness celebrates, the bond between giver and thanksgiver.  Everything is a gift.  Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless “yes” to belonging (Brother David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

October 17, 2017

“The loneliness that comes from being hated is one thing, but the loneliness that comes from being misunderstood and dismissed is worse” (Anna O’Neil).

Links of interest…  Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus…  How to pray for your adult children…  Lessons from the reform papacy of St. Pius V (more)…  Love gives suffering reason & purpose…  Pope to Dominicans: Your good works give glory to God…  Praying while waiting…  Sacred Chicago…  St. Jude: chaplet (printable; photo) / novenas (in Spanish, too) / prayers…  St. Pius V: about / parish / resources

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Connected tangents…  Finding St. Rita…  Holy Cross Church…  Lady of Sorrows…  October novena…  One prayer…  Prayer power…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena (Dominican)…  St. Jude shrine: Chicago (Claretian) & Corpus Christi…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelfth

St. Monica


A few days ago, I received a letter with a couple of prayer cards from Father Robert at Franciscan Mission Associates.

Tried but true

St. Jude looks more striking than ever in rich earthen tones, I thought.

And St. Monica?  What a weathered look!  Yet she’s beautiful despite her sadness.

I read St. Monica’s prayer card and set it aside, but her expression stayed with me.

I know that look firsthand.

Model of patience

In today’s Daily Inspiration, Father Joseph Fogarty, OP focused on St. Monica, too.

St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, was a model of patience.  She bore with her husband, Patricius, who had a violent temper, and with her son, Augustine, who lived for [fifteen] years with a woman companion.

Monica managed to live happily with Patricius, despite his defects.  He was baptized in 370.  Her son, Augustine, was baptized in 387.  She patiently prayed both toward full communion with the community of believers.

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Unconditional love

One of my favorite readings came to mind.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It… does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury… but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

St. Monica

Ever faithful to God and her family, St. Monica bore her crosses with patience.  In this respect, she reminds me of St. Helena, who also overcame great adversity.

Resilient, courageous, both women are role models to emulate in good times and bad.

St. Monica’s feast day is August 27; St. Helena’s, August 18.


Model of motherly love…  O glorious St. Monica, greatly admired among mothers, I feel particularly [drawn] to you who gave such an example of motherly love.

Who could understand better than you the anxieties and fears of a mother worrying about the eternal salvation of her children?  You endured all, since… St. Augustine is the fruit of your womb and… the fruit of your tears.  For this reason I am greatly convinced that… with the sanctity of your life and the perseverance of your prayers, you are not only [a great model] of Christian [motherhood, but also] a singular protector.  Obtain for me the grace to imitate your graces faithfully.

May my children avoid those errors and failures you disapproved of… in your son.  And, if it should happen that they, too, should fall, grant me the grace to obtain (this request…) with my prayers… as perfect a conversion as you were able to obtain for your son.  Amen.

Novena…  Dear Saint Monica, you were once the mournful mother of a prodigal son.  Your faithfulness to prayer brought you and your son so close to God that you are now with him in eternity.  By your intercession and God’s grace, your son St. Augustine became a great and venerable saint of the Church. Please take my request to God with the same fervor and persistence with which you prayed for your own son.  (Mention your intentions here.)

With your needs, worries and anxieties, you threw yourself on the mercy and providence of God.  Through sorrow and pain, you constantly devoted yourself to God.  Pray for me that I might join you in such a deep faith in God’s goodness and mercy.  Above all, dear Saint Monica, pray for me that I may, like your son, turn from my sin and become a great saint for the glory of God.  Amen.

Patience and trust…  Saint Monica, prayerful wife and mother, many sorrows anguished your heart during your lifetime yet you never gave in to desperation or lost hope.  With enduring tenacity and unwavering faith you prayed ardently for the conversion of your troubled husband and for your beloved son Augustine.  God answered your tearful prayers, so I ask that I may be granted the same enduring patience and trust in the Lord.  Saint Monica, pray that God may listen to the sorrows of my heart and bless me with the grace to embrace his will for my life.  All to the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Patron of parents…  St. Monica, patron of Christian mothers, we entrust to your protection the children whose names you can read in our hearts.  Pray for them that they may be granted strength to combat weakness, victory over temptations, guidance to resolve their doubts, and success in all their undertakings.

May they enjoy health of mind and body, see beauty and worth in all created things, and serve the Lord with firm faith, joyful hope, and enduring love.  Amen.

Petition…  Dear St. Monica, once the sorrowing mother of a wayward son, be pleased to present our petitions to the Lord God of heaven and earth.  Look down upon our anxieties and needs, and intercede for us as you did so fervently for Augustine.

We have full confidence that your prayers will gain a favorable hearing in heaven.  Mother of a sinner turned saint, obtain for us patience, perseverance, and total trust in God’s perfect timing.  In his appointed hour, in his merciful way, may God respond to [our] prayers.  (State your petition.)  Amen.



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Contact information

Prayers to St. Monica are from Favorite Patron Saints (The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., pp. 18-19); the leaflets, from Father Primo at Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

August 31, 2011

Another of my favorite readings, which goes hand in hand with love and forgiveness, is good for all time, too.

Love-aFor a brief moment I abandoned you; but with great tenderness, I will take you back.  In an outburst of wrath, for a moment, I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you… so I have sworn not to be angry with you or to rebuke you.  Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you (Isaiah 54:7-10).

November 4, 2012

“Lord, show me the treasures you have placed in all the people around me— especially those I find hardest to love!” (the Word among us, November 2012, p. 23).

April 3, 2013

Lord, lift the veil that keeps me from seeing how precious people are in your eyes.  Help me to see your love for every person, and give me the compassion and the courage to extend your love to them (the Word among us, April 2013, p.23).

April 4, 2013

Jesus, touch my heart and shape my mind with your word!  Teach me, Lord, so I can stand firm in your truth no matter what happens (the Word among us, p. 24).

May 21, 2013

Lord, give me your eyes that I may see my neighbors as you see them.  Give me your heart that I may love them with your love (the Word among us, May 2013, p. 40).

June 6, 2013

“Jesus, help me to reach out to those who are searching for you” (the Word among us, June 2013, p. 26).

June 18, 2013

Father, help me to remember that my enemies are your friends.  I bring their needs before you now (the Word among us, p. 38).

July 20, 2013

Thank you, Lord, that I don’t have to qualify for your mercy.  Let this awareness help me to love you more— and to love others as you have loved me (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 39).

August 12, 2013

Jesus, thank you for you patience with me.  Help me to be patient with other people.  Teach me to focus on loving them instead of correcting them.  I trust you to work out the details (the Word among us, p. 62).

August 14, 2013

“Jesus, help me to exercise the power to forgive and to reconcile; to set free and to pronounce blessings on myself, my family, my friends, and even my enemies” (the Word among us, p. 64).

August 21, 2013

“Father, help me be just as generous as you are with all who are joining you in the vineyard” (the Word among us, p. 71).

August 23, 2013

“Lord, teach me to love all of the people you put around me with all my heart” (the Word among us, p. 73).

October 20, 2013

Lord, guide my footsteps and strengthen me for the challenges that I will face in your name.  Thank you for loving me so much that you give me the honor to do your will on earth (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 40).

October 31, 2013

Jesus, thank you for loving me even when I turned away from you.  Bring everyone— even those who seem far away from you— into your embrace (the Word among us, p. 51).

November 3, 2013

Lord, fill me with your love.  Help me look at the people around me the way you look at me (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 24).

November 9, 2013

Lord, help me recognize all the goodness and knowledge that you have already given me.  Help me use these gifts to grow into the person that you want me to become (the Word among us, p. 29).

November 29, 2013

The modern poet Danny Siegel translates a rebbe’s proverb that tells us…

If you will always assume [that] the person sitting next to you is the messiah waiting for some human kindness, you will soon learn to weigh your words and watch your hands.  And if he so chooses not to reveal himself in your time, it will not matter (Dosick, 1995, p. 50).

December 29, 2013

“Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pt. 4:8).

So put on love!  Love knows it’s not perfect yet, so it makes allowances for other people’s mistakes and forgives their wrongs.  Love knows its understanding is limited, so it looks upon other people with respect and tries to learn from them.  Love knows the world is full of hurtful words and deeds, so it tries to make the home a haven of kindness and gentleness.  Love realizes that growth takes time, so it practices patience.  Love gratefully welcomes and treasures every family member, looking for the good in them, however deeply it may be buried (the Word among us, Advent 2013, p. 47).

April 20, 2014

Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra!  The resurrection of the Lord is our hope! (St. Augustine).

July 23, 2014

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

August 9, 2014

When night comes and retrospect shows that everything was patchwork and much that one had planned left undone, when so many things rouse shame and regret, then take all as is, lay it in God’s hands, and offer it up to him.  In this way we will be able to rest in him, actually to rest, and to begin the new day like a new life (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross / Edith Stein; translation, 1987).

August 28, 2014

“Let us understand that God is a physician and that suffering is a medicine for salvation, not a punishment for damnation” (St. Augustine).

November 19, 2014

I beg you, join with me in love.  Run with me in faith.  Let us yearn for our heavenly home. Let us sigh for it.  Let us realize that we are strangers here below (St. Augustine).

November 26, 2014

“To know whom to avoid is a great means of saving our souls” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

December 20, 2014

“Endeavor to be patient in bearing the defects and infirmities of others of whatever kind, for you also have many things which others must bear with” (Thomas à Kempis).

January 16, 2015

“As our body cannot live without nourishment, so our soul cannot spiritually be kept alive without prayer” (St. Augustine)

February 25, 2015

I will not live an instant that I do not live in love.  Whomever loves does all things without suffering or, suffering, loves his suffering (St. Augustine).

March 13, 2015

“All our striving in this life consists in healing the eye of the heart in order to see God”
(St. Augustine).

August 27, 2015

If you desire to be truly Christian wives and mothers, fix your gaze on
St. Monica.  Read her life and you will there see the care she bestowed on her Augustine and find much to console you (St. Francis de Sales).

March 7, 2016

“Let us pray for peace, and let us bring it about starting in our own homes” (Pope Francis).

January 5, 2017

Though God hates sin more than any other thing, he loves us poor miserable sinners.  He ardently desires the welfare of our souls as if his own happiness dependent on it (St. John Neumann).

March 9, 2017

Pope Francis reminds us that prayer is the best way to overcome blind spots in our attitudes toward others.  He doesn’t say it will be easy. But neither does he let us off the hook.  If we search our hearts, we know that we’ve all been guilty of that desire to hold someone accountable long after we think we’ve forgiven him or her (Diane M. Houdek in The Hope of Lent).

June 19, 2018

In Christ, even our failures become a source of grace when we accept them in imitation of his humility and courage; even our anxieties become a path to holiness when we ally them with his sufferings.  All that we do and say, if it is done and said in Christ, is done and said well, for true wellness is life in Christ (Clayton C. Barbeau in The Father of the Family).

August 2, 2018

In forgiving and pardoning my neighbor, I I make the conscious decision not to “fuss” over and live in the past.  I never really forget what you did to me, but I deliberately choose not to keep picking the scab, not to become entangled in the grudge.  I choose to free you from the past by electing not to dwell, mention, or remind others of what you did.  To use another image, the portal to the past remains in my heart but I make the choice to close the door, lock it, and throw the key away (Albert Haase, OFM in Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi).


Lost Mine Trail – Big Bend National Park, TX

Links of interest…  5 ways to make a meaningful apology…  Augustine of Hippo: apostolic letter (JPII) / author / bishop & doctor / book on prayer /  confessions (more) / doctor of grace (more) / for all seasons / memorial (Aug 28) / on the Beatitudes / prayers / prodigal son / raised to new life / seeking God / son of tears / thinking faith / why study his works…  Edith Stein essays: book / spirituality of the Christian woman…  Five saints who didn’t get along with their families…  Franciscan: Mission Associates / prayer book / prayers / sisters…  Gossip: Eight tips from St. Francis de Sales…  How do we get better at being patient…  Living Judaism (Dosick)…  Mary, our Lady of Consolation (more)…  St. Monica: about (more) / all in God’s timebook review (book) / chaplet / feast (more) / heroic faith & patience / life / memorial (more) / model of Christian motherhood / mother (of Augustine of Hippo – more – more) / navigating difficult family dynamicsparents’ helper / patron saint (more – more) / perseverance in hopein prayerin service / prayers (litany – novena – readings)…  God turns sinners into saints…  Pallottines: devotions / prayer network (join) / shrine…  Power of patience & persevering prayer…  Ten lessons on wayward children…  Things kids tell psychologists but are too afraid to tell their parents…  Thirst for heaven…  What to do with your mind when worries won’t let you sleep…  the Word among us

WP page…  Steven’s looking-glass

WP posts…  At long last…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Forever grateful…  Gifts…  Lady of sorrows…  Making meaning…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…   Morning exchanges…  One prayer…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Soulful

Picturing God

SistersWhat a conundrum I’ve faced collecting my thoughts for St. Anselm’s post!

For more than two years, I’ve had him in the ol’ pea brain’s draft folder… waiting, waiting, waiting until today. 


Growing up, one of my classmates asked, “Who’s your birthday saint?”

“My what?”

“I was given the name of the saint on whose feast day I was born,” the girl said.  “Weren’t you?”

“No, I was named after mom’s mother.”

(Grandmother is pictured on the left with Elvira, her younger sister.  Just look at those hardworking hands!  What a beautiful, resilient spirit!)

St. Anselm

When I created our church website, May 2008, I included a page on saints that I quickly filled with lots of web links.  Then, April of the following year I came across St. Anselm for the first time and was especially taken with his intercessory prayer to St. Nicholas.

Your fame calls to me, your miracles send me to your intercession, your works draw me to seek your help.  But why do I speak about your miracles, when your power now is greater than them all?  Why do I recount what you have done, when before God you now have supreme grace? (St. Anselm, c. 1090).

What a noble gesture to sing someone else’s high praises!  What confidence to call on St. Nicholas, our beloved Santa Claus!  I could certainly relate.  I received my special delivery from Santa within a year’s time after writing my first letter ever to him, Christmas Eve 2004, so I know firsthand of St. Nicholas’s intercessory power. 

St. Anselm turned out to be a fascinating read, but I stepped away to reflect on his writings for a while longer.  Then, rather conveniently, I forgot about the post I’d intended to write… until the proverbial rose leaf fell on this Chicken Little’s noggin.

Grandfather was born on April 21st, St. Anselm’s feast day!  So was he named for his birthday saint?

A rose

Late August of last year, Steven and I stopped by the old Esparza cemetery on Hwy 281 to visit dad’s and granddad’s grave sites.  Between 1970 and 2004, their headstones had been in the same place.  So I’d never expected to find their headstones moved from their original spots.

Overcome with grief and disappointment, I was angry.  Do their resting places mean nothing to anyone but me?  


Consoling myself by walking around the cemetery, I recalled previous visits alone and with the kids as I instinctively did what I’ve always done, leaning forward to touch each of the two headstones.  I spoke softly, first to granddad, then to dad, about their lives in the small rural community and their significance in my life.  Being there I’ve always felt connected to them, as if they’re alive in parallel universes from which they can hear and see me.

Trying hard to hold back the tears, I thought about so much more than I said.

I love you.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.  I never had the chance to tell you.  I miss you sooo much.  I don’t think that will ever change.  Coming here is the next best thing to having you close.  You walked these grounds during your lifetime just as I’m doing today.  I don’t know when I’ll be back this way again, but I know you’re always with me.  I feel your love whether I’m here or not.  We’re always together mind, heart, and soul.  I’m forever grateful that, through you, I’ve come to understand God’s love for me.

Dad left El Ranchito when he married mom, and his body returned for burial four months short of their seventh wedding anniversary.

My great-grandmother died the following year, so my grandfather moved in with his brother’s family.  Then he died a year later.  According to mom, Great-grandmother Paz and Grandfather Anselmo had vowed from the beginning— dad’s mom had died right after his birth— to be there for my father until he died.   And they kept their word!

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Dad and my grandfather were buried at the Esparza cemetery because my uncle, a very thoughtful, generous man, was married to an Esparza and lived across the highway from the cemetery.  Tío Pancho loved his brother and his nephew so much that he wanted them nearby, if only in spirit.  Now he’s buried there, too, next to his wife.  So it’s only fitting that their collective final resting place should be the same cemetery.

As for Grandfather’s name?  There’s no one alive who could tell me stories about his growing up, much less about his name. I’d like to think that being born on St. Anselm’s feast day was reason enough for his parents to name him Anselmo.

April twenty-first

St. Anselm’s big day kept getting closer and closer, but I was so sure I’d get the post written in one day that I focused on other creative tasks until the day before.

Oh, my gosh!  Was I ever wrong, as in wrrrong!

StAnselm-OLEM-Cambridge-LOPReading the first online article, reality smacked me in the face.  I immediately knew two things: why I’d put St. Anselm on the back burner for two years and why writing the post was going to take time.  Time to calm down.  Time to analyze and evaluate.  Time to come to terms with St. Anselm’s illogical reasoning.

No resolution

I tried, but I just went round and round refuting points three and four of St. Anselm’s ontological argument (1087).

(1) God is the greatest being imaginable.  (2) In the mind and/or in reality, no one exists who’s greater than God.  (3) If God exists in the mind and in reality, that cinches the deal: God is real.  The same is true if God exists only in the mind.  On the other hand, if the mind thinks of the greatest being imaginable— and that being isn’t God— then that being isn’t real.  (4) Therefore, God is real because he exists in reality and in the mind.

“If St. Anselm had presented his proposal to Dr. Weber [my dissertation methodologist at the University of Houston], he never would’ve earned his doctorate,” I told Steven.  “His logic doesn’t make sense!  How ridiculous to try to prove that God is real!  Then to have others agree that his theory’s based on a legitimate premise?  Hogwash!  It doesn’t fly!  God is based on faith, and faith can’t be measured.  So God’s existence can’t be scientifically supported.  Besides, one either believes or doesn’t.”

On and on I jabbered to Steven who was partly listening and mostly enjoying his computer games on his side of the room.

“You know, darling, I would’ve been okay accepting St. Anselm’s theory to a point.  God’s real because I have faith, but to say that I have faith because God’s real?  No.  God’s an abstraction.  And, even though we acknowledge him as creator of all, he’s not real like us.  He’s in a category all by himself.  So how can we lesser beings prove anything about him?”

I continued with my online reading while reflecting out loud.

“Just this morning I came across a painting of the crucifixion of Jesus on the ‘Picturing God’ page of Ignatian Spirituality online and realized something.  I don’t picture God on the cross.  Jesus is on the cross.  God is totally different from Jesus, just as the Holy Spirit is different from both of them.  The three are related as the Holy Trinity, but they’re three distinct entities.  And another thing: If God were real, we’d know what he looks like.  How does one visualize God when no one’s seen him?  My perception of God is uniquely different from yours and everyone else’s because it’s based not only on my imagination, but also on my personal relationship with him.”

The dilemma kept growing like James’s peach instead of resolving itself somehow.

I very much would’ve welcomed a peaceful night’s rest with a fresh start in the morning, but it wasn’t going to happen.  God wanted me to experience discomforting disequilibrium a bit longer.  Nevertheless, I distanced myself from St. Anselm and went to bed.

Coming to terms

I’d hoped for clarity on waking, but I didn’t get it.  For most of the morning, I struggled with accepting St. Anselm’s ideas.  Yet the more I thought about his logic, the more I began to understand his perspective.

Over [nine-hundred] years have passed since Anselm described the ontological argument.  Many people have refuted it [while] some have fervently defended it.  Today, there are still those who think the reasoning of Anselm is, more or less, reasonable (Villa, n. d.).

While I disagree with St. Anselm’s calling me and others like me fools, I can certainly admire his passion for so zealously wanting to build community within God’s kingdom. 

Loyalty means not that I agree with everything you say or that I believe you are always right.  Loyalty means that I share a common ideal with you and, regardless of minor differences, we fight for it, shoulder to shoulder, confident in one another’s good faith, trust, constancy, and affection (Menninger, 2002).

St. Anselm loved God so much that he wanted others to believe unquestioningly.  Without struggling.  Yet even Thomas doubted, and God didn’t love him any less.

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it in my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:27-29; Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1970).

Picturing God

Saturday morning I woke up knowing I’d replace the Crucifixion as the “picturing God” widget on the church blog, but the new photo had to meet my SJC criteria: a nature scene at our church.

But what qualifies as a true representation of God?

I’ve taken thousands of photos since rejoining St. Joseph’s late April 2008; so that’s quite a mental catalog to peruse, not to mention actual time looking through photo files. 

Thinking about St. Anselm while pondering the essence of God, I serendipitously recalled our standing with Fr. Frank outside the front entrance at church before nine o’clock Mass…

Quite unexpectedly the day’s brightness ominously darkened as the sun played peekaboo on a whim.  Coolpix ready I turned to look, capturing sun rays emanating from gray-blue clouds like luminous arms interjecting a heavenward hallelujah.

Awestruck, I surrendered my undivided attention to God’s glorious, dramatic presence.  Sans proof.

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For fathers…  God our Father, we give you thanks and praise for fathers young and old.  We pray for young fathers, newly embracing their vocation; May they find the courage and perseverance to balance work, family, and faith in joy and sacrifice.  We pray for our own fathers who have supported and challenged us; May they continue to lead in strong and gentle ways.  We remember fathers around the world whose children are lost or suffering; May they know that the God of compassion walks with them in their sorrow.  We pray for men who are not fathers but still mentor and guide us with fatherly love and advice.  We remember fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers who are no longer with us but who live forever in our hearts and nourish us with their love.  Amen.

Seeking God…  O Lord, my God, teach my heart this day where and how to see you, where and how to find you.  You have made me and remade me; you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess and, still, I do not know you.  I have not yet done that for which I was made.  Teach me to seek you, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me or find you unless you show yourself to me.  Let me seek you in my desire; let me desire you in my seeking.  Let me find you by loving you; let me love you when I find you.  Amen (St. Anselm).

To the saint whose name I bear…  My holy patron saint, your name was given to me in Baptism, that I should often think of you and endeavor to please God as you did in your life on earth.  It is my sincere desire to imitate your virtues and… one day join you in heaven singing God’s praises forever and ever.

Often I have been called by your name, but seldom have I shown your constant zeal in striving for holiness of life.  Henceforth, I promise with God’s grace to reject all that is evil and to promote all that is good.  I petition you, my holy patron saint of God, to intercede for me that I, like you, may one day enjoy the bliss of being numbered among God’s saints for all eternity.  Amen (Favorite Patron Saints, The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., p. 27).

April 26, 2011

Today I received Father Robert’s perfectly timed daily inspiration, “God is Love,” from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago.

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.  God is love; the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).

The most profound way in which we can understand the nature of God is to read the letter from the beloved apostle John.  The word “love” is repeated over and over again in describing what he knew about God.  He tells us “God is love.”  It is love that is the reason for all that God has done for us.  The creation of the world, the sending of his beloved Son, Jesus’s death on the cross, and his final glorification and our sanctification are all signs of God’s love spilling forth from the love contained in the Blessed Trinity.  When we hear that “God abides in us,” we are being told that the living presence of God permeates our entire being.  That is how close we are to God.  Therefore, we can trust God and savor his unfailing love for each one of us.  God loves us so much.

April 27, 2011

Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.  Even a proverb is no proverb until your life has illustrated it (John Keats, 1795-1821).

November 29, 2013

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

September 9, 2014

“Seek God and endeavor to find him in all things” (St. Peter Claver).

January 8, 2015

We can believe what we choose.  We are answerable for what we choose to believe (Blessed John Henry Newman).

February 13, 2015

“Nothing is sweeter than love— nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing more generous, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth— for love proceeds from God and cannot rest but in God above all things created” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

February 24, 2015

“God must be loved first in order that one’s neighbor, too, may be loved in God”
(St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

April 1, 2015

“To treat human nature as simply separate from God, and thus to attempt to construct a civil society without reference to God, is to treat of a thing that does not exist and to attempt to build a society upon that fiction” (Anthony Esolen, 2014).

April 13, 2015

“Unless you believe you will not understand” (St. Augustine of Hippo).

April 21, 2015

O man, why do you roam about so far in search of good things for soul and body?  Love the one good, in whom all goods are contained, and that will satisfy you! (St. Anselm).

June 4, 2015

“But when you take the leap to look at the world through the eyes of faith, you start seeing God’s fingerprints everywhere, creating connections so subtle, so delicate, they might pass unseen” (Cari Donaldson in Pope Awesome & other stories).

December 16, 2015

“He who does that which is displeasing to himself has discovered the secret of pleasing God” (St. Anselm).

July 15, 2016

St. Thomas teaches that love is like fire.  It produces a flame, and the flame of love is zeal.  If the fire burns intensely, then the flame will also be intense and devouring.  True apostolic zeal is the spontaneous result, the normal fruit of the intimate contact of the soul with God through love.  The more a soul is united to God by love, the more it becomes enveloped in the flame of his charity, participating in his infinite love for men, in his eternal zeal for their salvation; thus it necessarily becomes apostolic (Father Gabriel in Divine Intimacy).

September 21, 2016

God doesn’t let himself get caught in titles, names and facts.  But he lets himself be suspected.  And therefore it is only the one who prays to God, quite possibly the one who searches for silence himself, who can recognize him in the many little ideas, meetings, and happenings on the way (Kevin Burns in Henri Nouwen: His Life and Spirit).

February 12, 2017

God is not an idea or a concept for you to grasp.  God is not something to be studied or something to define.  No definition would be wide enough.  God can never be fully contained by words or be understood by the human mind.  You cannot define God but you can be with God.  You can know God (Paula D’Arcy in The Divine Spark).

April 18, 2017

“What is faith, save to believe what you do not see?” (St. Augustine).

April 21, 2017

Make frequent spiritual aspirations to God by means of short but ardent movements of the heart.  Marvel at his beauty, implore his help, cast yourself in spirit at the foot of the cross, adore his goodness, and beg him that you may be saved eternally.  Give him your heart and offer your soul to him thousands and thousands of times.  Fix the eyes of your soul upon his gentle face and hold him by the hand, just as a small child does with his father (St. Francis de Sales).

April 23, 2017

God did not abandon Thomas in his doubt, nor does he abandon us.  Our God, after all, is full of compassion and patience.  Doubt is a wound we all share.  It is a wound that God longs to heal with his divine mercy (Peter J. Vaghi in Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life).

May 26, 2017

One beat of your heart, properly directed, the slightest movement of your free will, can mean more to the triune God than all the gyrations of sun, moon, stars, and sea from time’s first moment until time’s final end.  In order that you might say, “I believe in God…,” the heavens were one time moved (Fr. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O. in Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk).

June 9, 2017

One cannot understand God without first believing in God.  If you have any interest in knowing what’s true, you must first have faith.  It is by faith that God purifies your heart.  Unless you first abandon yourself to God, you will never know God.  The more you love God, the deeper your faith, and the more love and faith you possess, the more you know what’s true (Jon M. Sweeney in The Saint vs. The Scholar: The Fight Between Faith and Reason).

July 3, 2017

“Thomas [the apostle]… helps us learn from Jesus the true meaning of mature faith, encouraging us to persevere as disciples of Christ” (Pope Benedict XVI).

July 4, 2017

Traditionally, he is called “Doubting Thomas.”  Yet doubt is a wound that each of us shares.  It is not necessarily a fatal wound, nor is it a flat-out rejection of our faith.  I can picture myself that evening having a similar doubt.  Maybe you can as well.  We certainly have experienced doubt in our efforts to explain the faith to others.  Sometimes we are rejected.  More often, we have to unveil the beauty of our faith over time and with utmost patience.

God did not abandon Thomas in his doubt, nor does he abandon us.  Our God, after all, is full of compassion and patience.  Doubt is a wound we all share.  It is a wound that God longs to heal with his divine mercy (Peter J. Vaghi in Meeting God in the Upper Room).

July 10, 2017

So, the beauty of nature reflects the beauty of God.  For those who will not close their eyes and who harden not their hearts, beautiful things are seen as the fingerprints of God.  “A whirlwind and clouds are the dust of his feet.”  All things are his messengers, making known his goodness, his justice, and his power (Fr. Killian J. Healy, O. Carm in Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God).

July 28, 2017

Lord, I long to see you.  With my own eyes, I want to see you myself, see you for who you really are.  Not through another’s eyes.

I’ve heard so much about you.  How much is opinion?  How much is hearsay?  How much is truth?  I want to know for myself.  I want to hear with my own ears.  Please come near, Lord, as you pass by today.

I am out on a limb, waiting for you, out of my comfort zone.  And as you come, overwhelm me with the wonder that it is not I who seek you, nearly so much as it is you who seeks me (Sonja Corbitt & Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers in Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before).

February 5, 2020

The life of the blessed is an eternal contemplation: they see God, love him, and are united to him in an indissoluble embrace.  This is the true life (Luis M. Martinez in Worshipping a Hidden God: Unlocking the Secrets of the Interior Life).


Links of interest…  Be amazed…  Best description of God, ever…  Christian faith is not blind belief…  Doubting Thomas & faith in the resurrection…  El Ranchito cemeteries: Esparza / Zepeda…  Embrace the four eyes within you…  Father is a complex metaphor for God…  Genealogy: find a grave / online TX records…  God confirmationis an artist / or man…  God’s world & our place in it (book)…  Handing down the faith: Catholicism is caught, not taught…  How a little healthy self-doubt helped me stop doubting God…  How God is present in us / to prove that God doesn’t exist / we long for the face of God…  I believe in God…  James & the giant peach…  Life of Jesus (crucifixion)…  On being human & the need to wonder…  Picturing God: finding God / Ignatian Spirituality / in all things…  Saints: birthdaydate / heroesname / patron / quote of the day…  See life through God’s eyes…  St. Anselm: ABC’s / about / archbishop / Benedictine monk / biography / bishop & doctor / desire for the vision of God / lessonson God’s existence / ontological argument & criticism / philosopher / prayer (to St. Nicholas) / seeking satisfaction & mercy / slave of religious liberty / theologian (more) / timeline…  St. Fidelis: about / biography / Capuchinfeast (Apr 24) / Mark Roymartyr / memorial / prayer (more / readings) / profile…  St. Frances of Rome: Finding God in the little things…  St. Nicholas: bishop / chaplet / feast / prayers / rosary / saint / society / who he is…  St. Thomas: of great faithquestioning your faithseeing is not believing…  Waiting for God…  Wisdom of Wolves: book / how wolves change rivers / movie from Simple Truths

WP posts…  Concrete abstraction…  Dear God…  Faith and prayer…  For all time…  Gifts  Letter to Santa…  Lingering memory…  Little gifts…  Making meaning…  Mourning joy…  One prayer…  Soulful…  St. Anselm Church…  St. Jude novena…  Two takes…  Undeniable familiarity

St. Jude novena

Today I received a beautiful pamphlet from the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus informing me of its scheduled novena.

The shrine has held an extra special place in my heart since January 2004, when I went there to pray for our baby granddaughter, Kylie, who’d been hospitalized for the second time since her birth, October 29, 2003.

If you have a special petition in mind, the Dominican shrine is a perfect place to frequent either online, through mailed requests, or in person.



March 1, 2011 

Besides its user-friendly website, the Dominican shrine, through its mailings, offers anointing oil, prayer candles, novenas, perpetual memberships, and so much more. 

For instance, we requested that a memorial candle be lit for Acacia-Darling, our oldest grandchild, and then received this lovely card.

Displayed atop the bookshelf next to my workspace, the card’s universal message is one of unconditional love and commitment, for “where there’s prayer, there’s hope” (Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus, n. d.).

May 6, 2011 

Father Robert at the shrine sent his St Jude prayer today.

“If you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it to you” (John 16:23).

With unbounded faith in the power and efficacy of the intercession of
St. Jude, you are urged to pray that God will grant you what He deems good for you. 

O loving and dear St. Jude, look aside from my unworthiness and look on to the mercy and love of Jesus.  Please take to God’s heart my prayerful intentions. 

St. Jude, my saintly protector, I promise that I will encourage others to seek your aid and that I will do all I can to tell others how great and good you are to those who need and implore your help.  With faith and with hope, I place myself in your hands.  Amen.

May 9, 2011

The shrine sent this healing prayer today.

Remember, the pain will pass.  Your brokenness will heal.  The sun will rise again in your soul.  Peace will come.  You will survive.

You are never alone.  God walks with you.  God holds you tenderly and close.  God’s grace will sustain you. 

You are loved.


May 27, 2011

Father Robert explains the solemn novena.

After the ascension of Jesus, the apostles returned… to an upper room [in Jerusalem] where “they all devoted themselves single-mindedly to prayer, along with some women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers”
(Acts 1:14).

The Catholic tradition of praying novenas has its roots in the earliest days of the Church.  Whether a novena is made solemnly in a particular church or shrine or in the privacy of one’s home, we never pray alone, for we are always united with the communion of saints when we pray.  It is not necessary to be physically present in order to enjoy and benefit from our solemn novena.  There is no limit to God’s presence, and prayer knows no limit in distance and time.  Therefore, the many “friends of St. Jude” scattered around the country can participate as partners in the novena….

May 28, 2011

Father Robert prays for our collective needs.

For those we love, for the needs of the world that it will be a better place in which to live, and for all people that they will have proper human conditions in which to live.

Let us pray.  

We thank you, Lord, for all the gifts you have given us this day… for the needs of all those in our Church who minister to us that they may lead holy lives… for world leaders that they may govern with integrity, safeguarding the rights of all persons, and provide for the needs of their people… for those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit that the healing touch of God will help them… and, particularly, for all caregivers, hospice workers, medical research people, and those who are terminally ill… and, finally, for those who have died that they might enjoy light, happiness and peace in the joy of heaven forever.  Amen.

September 30, 2011

Steven mailed my letter (part of a bound booklet) to Father Robert, OP at the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus in Chicago.

October 17, 2011

What a heartwarming response from Father Robert today!

April 29, 2012

This chilly Sunday morning, Steven and I attended nine-thirty Spanish Mass in South Chicago. 

What joy for me to finally return there!  What an unexpected realization to discover that the St. Jude shrine is actually part of St. Pius V Church.  What an incredible experience for us to celebrate Mass so uniquely.

One of the highlights was seeing Acacia-Darling’s green candle among so many within St. Jude’s shrine.  How heartwarming to know that she’s in St. Jude’s care!  But the singular most amazing discovery was finding what I’d missed during my brief first visit there— St. Jude’s first-class relic!

November 29, 2015

“I have never gone out to mingle with the world without losing something of myself”
(St. Albert the Great).



Links of interest…  Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus…  OP Central: Bridge between Sundays & videos…  Pope to Dominicans: Your good works give glory to God…  St. Jude: chaplet (photo) / novenas (in Spanish, too) / prayers

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Finding St. Rita…  Forever grateful…  Lady of Sorrows…  October novena…  Prayer power…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude shrine: Chicago &
Corpus Christi…  Sweet Jesus

Lenten resources

Today I received a nifty little pamphlet, Forty Days of Good Deeds, from the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus in Chicago.  What a fun activity this will make!  I wish I’d done this with my first-grade CCE class three years ago.


Journaling ideas

First, choose your paper— size, color, texture, ruled or unruled— or do something truly unique and personal.  Lots of ideas come to mind.  Customizing will optimize ownership.  Then embellish with flowers cut from magazines, photos, drawings, or—

Oh, my gosh!  Think of the possibilities!  What a great way to mini-journal one’s trek through the Lenten season!

This ranks right up there with Segy’s book of everyday miracles— the journal I’ve been keeping for the youngest of our four kids, our grump, a self-proclaimed “cynic, thanks to my sixth-grade teachers.”

Lenten prayers

Most high, glorious God, bring light to the darkness of my heart.  Give me right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity.  Lord, give me insight and wisdom, so I might always discern your holy and true will.  Amen.

You are holy, Lord, and your deeds are wonderful.  You are strong.  You are great.  You are the most high.  You are almighty.  You, holy Father, are king of heaven and earth.  Amen.

April 9, 2017

Lent is a favorable time to intensify spiritual life: May the practice of fasting be of help to you in order to acquire greater mastery of yourselves; may prayer be the means to entrust your lives to God and to feel him always nearby; may the works of mercy help you to live open to the needs of brothers and sisters (Diane M. Houdek in The Hope of Lent).

Links of interest…  16 suggestions…  Catholic: culture / digest / mom…  Connect to God through prayer…  Dominican Shrine of St. Jude…  Dynamic Catholic: Best Lent ever…  Easter: celebrating / customs / ecards…  Explore faith…  Father Greg…  For kids: activities (more) / devotions / explaining the season / for kids / games (more) / holy week / observances / prayer: chain & pots / resources (more) / six fun craftssongs / stations: for families printables / talking to kids (more) / traditions & rituals…  How to Lent with kids…  Lent: 40 ideas for 40 days (more) / about (more) / ashes / books (more) / calendar / call to conversion / called to be saints / cross / customs / days of penance / fasting / first four days / history / in two minutes (YouTube) / meditations (more) / overview / prayers / praying / recipes (more) / reflections (more) / search results / season / this time / this year / toward the light (videos)…  Quick daily practice to help you be more grateful…  Special days: Shrove Tuesday / Ash Wednesday / Palm Sunday & Holy Week: Thursday (more) / Friday / Saturday (more)…

WP posts…  Backtracking…  Bearing one’s crosses…   Connected tangents…  Growing pains…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Prayerful messages…  Prayerful ways…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Seven dwelling places…  Sweet Jesus…  Two letters…  Two prompt replies…  Venerable Margaret

St. Anthony Claret


Reading today’s novena prayer to St. Jude, I inadvertently made some real life connections to St. Anthony Claret.  First, he founded the Claretians, “servants of the word, partners in hope,” in 1849.  Second, the Claretians manage the National Shrine of St. Jude, which hosts solemn novenas, first Wednesday Masses for healing, weekly devotions, and more.  Third, I receive wonderful prayer cards from the shrine on a regular basis and continue to engage in a special relationship with St. Jude, especially where the kids are concerned.

Persistent illness

On January 2, 2004, Kylie, our second grandchild, was hospitalized for the second two-week stay since her birth, October 29, 2003.  Her parents and I took turns staying at the hospital with her; but, even though I was there willingly, it was a miserable time for me.  I’d never had a child in the hospital.  Anytime one of the kids had been ill, I’d always persuaded the doctor that I’d provide better care at home.

During Christmas break from work and UH, I’d traveled to Chicago to help my daughter and her husband take care of the baby during the holidays.  Kylie had been released from her two-week stay just hours before they’d picked me up at O’Hare.  We’d hoped that my being there would allow them to catch their breath and re-energize, but Kylie was readmitted to the hospital days before my return to Texas.

Kylie cried all the time.  She was in a lot of pain from the intravenous drip in her foot, yet the nurses were unfazed.  I just knew they could’ve eased her pain if they’d readjusted the needle, but they merely looked at Kylie’s foot and left.  I prayed and prayed and quietly sang to Kylie until we’d both fall asleep in whiles.  I also racked my brain trying to figure out what else to do.  We’d left written prayers in the book on the chapel’s altar, but I had to do something else.

The morning of January 5th, Kylie was to undergo a medical procedure that would take several hours.  I was to depart for Texas at 5:30 the following morning, so I got an idea.

The shrine

“Take me to the nearest church, preferably one dedicated to St. Jude,” I told Kylie’s parents.  I’d attended Mass at two different churches in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago; but I wanted one where I’d feel super close to St. Jude.  I’d never been in Chicago before, but I suddenly remembered the shrine.  “Take me to the St. Jude Shrine,” I insisted, even though none of us knew where it was.

Oh, what a place!

StJude-SarahMaxhamI knew I was home when I saw the encased statue of the Holy Infant of Prague.  I walked around and dialogued with God.  I knew everything would be all right with Kylie, that we’d get good news when we got back to the hospital.

Even though my heart had already raced back to Kylie, to spend as much time with her as I could, I wanted to first visit the gift shop across the street.  I wanted a memento of that day.

In the gift shop I found two wonderful little books, The Infant Jesus of Prague (Nemec, 1978, 1986) and Saint Anthony of Padua (Miles & Gianopoulos, 1991), which would keep me company on the flight back home but which wouldn’t make a dent in my pea brain until I broke my right kneecap in three places May 2006.

The hospital

On arriving at the nurses’ station on Kylie’s floor, we were told that Kylie had been returned to her room within half an hour.  The procedure hadn’t been done because, oddly enough, the doctor hadn’t been able to follow through with it and had given up.  We had no idea what that meant, but we were relieved that Kylie wouldn’t have another wound on her tiny body.  I stayed with her until evening when I went to pack and returned to spend my last night with her until I left for my early morning flight.

Kylie endured some harrowing times at the hospital due to negligence, but she went home after two weeks.  She went in again for an infection one more time after that, but it was just for one week.

“You sang to me”

Since then, Kylie’s gone through the usual childhood illnesses, but she’s been home.  She’s a perfectly beautiful little girl with what her parents call “macaroni hair:” flyaway, golden-brown curls.  She’s spunky, loves shoes, and is very bright.  She really surprised me when, at age three, she said, “You were there with me at the hospital.  You smiled at me.  Lon, you sang to me.”

I hadn’t seen her since she was a baby, much less mentioned the hospital.  I hugged her and smiled.  “Yes, Kylie, I was there with you.”

Praise God for his angels and his saints who watch over us daily and intercede on our behalf.  Thank you, St. Jude and St. Anthony Claret; and thanks to the Claretians who support us through prayer at the National Shrine of St. Jude.

November 26, 2009: Thanksgiving

Until writing this post I had no idea, or didn’t remember, that Chicago has two St. Jude shrines: one maintained by the Claretians; the other, by the Dominicans.  Yet, the shrine I visited had a very old statue of the Holy Infant encased in glass in the back of the church.

I wanted to be sure which shrine we’d visited, so I emailed the Dominican shrine.

Since I didn’t receive a reply, I posted my entry with that question still unanswered.  My thinking at the time was that St. Jude listens no matter where we are when we ask for his intercession.

Before posting my entry, I also looked for photos I might’ve taken at the shrine but found none.  However, on looking then and now at the online photos of the two shrines, I think we visited the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus.  For this reason, and because I’ve received mailings from both shrines for many years and feel an attachment to both, I’ve also included links below to the Dominican shrine.

And, if anyone has photos of either of these two shrines, please share them with me, especially if any includes the Holy Infant of Prague.

December 1, 2009 

Mystery finally solved thanks to Father Brummel’s response to my email regarding the Holy Infant statue.

Now I know that I went to pray at the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus.

November 16, 2011

Will wonders never cease!

I was looking for photos of St. Thérèse when I happened upon a stash hidden for years in one of the bedroom closets.  Safely ensconced within two Walmart bags were two dozen photo packets; inside one of those, the nine photos taken at the Dominican shrine in Chicago, January 5, 2004 (including the Christmas scene at the bottom).

Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, I did both with heartfelt gratitude.

What an incredible find!



April 29, 2012

At long last, I saw the Holy Infant again when we attended 9:15 A.M. Mass at
St. Pius V in Chicago.  Sweet!



St. Anthony Mary Claret is the helper of those suffering from cancer, heart trouble, and other serious ailments of the body and/or the soul.  His feast day is October 24th.

Please note that the petition (third prayer below) can be said on behalf of someone afflicted with illness or someone whose conversion is desired.

For the addicted…  God of mercy, we bless you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, who ministered to all who came to him.  Give your strength to (name), one of your children; enfold him (her) in your love; and restore him (her) to the freedom of God’s children.

Lord, look with compassion on all who have lost their health and freedom.  Restore to them the assurance of your unfailing mercy, strengthen them in the work of recovery, and help them to resist all temptation.  And to those who care for them, grant patience and understanding and a love that perseveres.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

For the sick…  Lord Jesus who went about doing good and healing all, we ask you to bless your friends who are sick.  Give them strength in body, courage in spirit, and patience in pain.  Let them recover their health so that, restored to the Christian community, they may joyfully praise your name for you live and reign forever and ever.  Amen.

Petition…  St. Anthony Mary Claret, during your life on earth you often comforted the afflicted and showed such tender love and compassion for the sick and the sinful.  Intercede for me now that you rejoice in the reward of your virtues in heavenly glory.  Look with pity on me and grant my prayer, if such be the will of God.  Make my troubles your own.  Speak a word for me to the immaculate heart of Mary to obtain, by her powerful intercession, the grace I yearn for so ardently and a blessing to strengthen me during life.  Assist me at the hour of death and lead me to a happy eternity.  Amen.

Request…  Lord, renew in our congregation the spirit that moved our father, St. Anthony Mary Claret, so that filled and strengthened by it we may come to love what he loved and put into practice what he taught us.  We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

October 24, 2012

“The man who truly loves God also loves his neighbor” (St. Anthony Mary Claret).

October 24, 2013

My God, how good you are!  How rich in mercy you have been to me!  Mercy, Lord: I’ll begin to be good from now, with the help of your grace
(St. Anthony Mary Claret).

July 5, 2014

That which God commands seems difficult and a burden.  The way is rough; you draw back; you have no desire to follow it.  Yet do so and you will attain glory (St. Anthony Maria Zaccaria).

October 24, 2014

“Christ charges us in the Gospel: We must oppose or deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow him” (St. Anthony Mary Claret).

Mary is the heart of the Church.  This is why all works of charity spring from her.  It is well known that the heart has two movements: systole and diastole.  Thus Mary is always performing these two movements: absorbing grace from her most holy Son, and pouring it forth on sinners (St. Anthony Mary Claret).

October 24, 2015

“The sole reason why society is perishing is because it has refused to hear the word of the Church, which is the word of life, the word of God” (St. Anthony Mary Claret).

August 6, 2016

“Christian perfection consists in three things: praying heroically, working heroically, and suffering heroically” (St. Anthony Mary Claret).

October 24, 2016

Nothing deters Jesus.  He does not flinch from heavy tasks; he embraces hardships.  He rejoices in the midst of suffering (St. Anthony Mary Claret).


Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus  – Chicago

Links of interest…  Claretian: historyinitiativeorder / St. Jude shrine (about – directions – eprayers – novena schedule – slideshow)…  Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus…  Holy Infant: bookconsecrationdevotion / national shrine / novena /  prayers…  How to cope when a child is ill…  Pope to Dominicans: Your good works give glory to God…  St. Jude novena: book / chaplet (printable; photo)…  Prayers for the sick…  St. Anthony Claret: about (more) / autobiography (book – chapter – pdf) / biography / bishop / images of relics (photo) / life / memorial / missionary zeal / novena (healing & conversion) / saint / Spanish light / very special patron / weaverwritings

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Finding St. Rita…  Forever grateful…  Lady of Sorrows…  October novena…  Prayer power…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Si quaeris miracula…  St. Jude novena (Dominican)…  St. Jude shrine: Chicago (Claretian) & Corpus Christi…  Sweet Jesus

October novena

StPV61513-84  OLG61513-32

Chicago has two St. Jude shrines each distinctly different from the other.  The Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus (above left) can be found at St. Pius V Church on Ashland Avenue, while the National Shrine of St. Jude is situated at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on East 91st Street and is managed by the Claretians.

October novena

OLG51912-138Since St. Jude’s feast day is October 28, both shrines host solemn novenas at their respective locations.  However, their schedules differ, so be sure to check the online “links of interest” below.

What’s really nice is that one can sign up via mail and/or email for solemn novena updates.  Additionally, one can download prayers, read more about St. Jude, leave comments on the various website pages and/or blogs, participate in the virtual novenas, and take a virtual tour of the national shrine any time of the day or night.


Petition…  O glorious apostle, St. Jude Thaddeus, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor has caused you to be forgotten by many; but the Church invokes you universally as the patron of hopeless cases and things despaired of.  Pray for me that I may receive the consolations and succor of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly [state petition] and that I may bless God with you and the Elect throughout eternity.  Amen.

Thanksgiving and praise…  O glorious apostle, St. Jude, true relative of Jesus and Mary, I salute you through the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Through this heart, I praise you and thank God for all the graces he has bestowed upon you.  Humbly prostrate before you, I implore you through this heart to look down upon me with compassion.  Despise not my poor prayer and let not my trust be in vain.  To you has been assigned the privilege of aiding mankind in the most desperate cases.  Oh, come to my aid that I may praise the mercies of God.  All my life I will be grateful to you and will be your faithful client until I can thank you in heaven.  Amen.

StJude-FMA-a      StJude-FMA-b      StJude-FMA-c      StJude-FMA-d

StJude-NatlShr-StA-StJ-a      StJude-NatlShr-StA-StJ-b      DSJS-StJ-a      DSJS-StJ-b

Contact information

Prayer leaflet R36 is from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.  The two prayer cards are from the National Shrine of St. Anthony and
St. Jude (Providence, RI) and the Dominican Shrine in Chicago, respectively.

October 28, 2013

Lord, help me to be the person you have called me to be— to step out in faith and share your love with the world.  St. Jude, pray for us! (the Word among us, October 2013, p. 48).


National Shrine of St. Jude – Our Lady of Guadalupe Church – Chicago

Links of interest…  Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus…  National Shrine of St. Jude (Claretians): ecards / facebook / novena / petitions / schedule / virtual tour / why pray the novena…  Shrines now under auspices of Congregation for the Promotion of the New Evangelization…  St. Jude: about / armed (online article) / faith & intercession / in suffering & desperate timesnovena / Oct 28 / prayerthank-you’s

WP posts…  Forever grateful…  Prayer power…  Revisiting St. Simon…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena (Dominicans)…  St. Jude shrine: Chicago (Claretian) & Corpus Christi