Stations

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

1st: Jesus is condemned to death

You suffered for us, O blessed Jesus.  It was our sins that condemned you to death.  Grant that we may obtain your mercy and pardon through repentance.

             

               

2nd: Jesus carries his cross

O Jesus, grant us the ability to embrace the difficulties of our life.
Make us ever ready to take up our cross and follow you.

               

               

3rd: Jesus falls the first time

O Jesus, you bore the heavy burden of the cross for our sins.
May your suffering make us watchful and keep us from sin.

               

             

4th: Jesus meets his mother

O Jesus, have compassion on us and give us a share in Mary’s intercession.
O Mary intercede for us that we may find our way back to God.

               

               

5th: Simon helps carry the cross

O Lord Jesus, may it be our privilege to bear our cross.
May we rejoice if we should be counted worthy to suffer for your name’s sake.

               

               

6th: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

O Jesus, may the thought of your suffering move us with deep compassion.
Kindle in our hearts a more fervent love for you.
May your image be engraved in our minds until we are completely yours.

               

               

7th: Jesus falls the second time

O Jesus, how often have you mourned us by our repeated falls into sin.
May we choose not to offend you.

               

               

8th: Jesus consoles the women

O Jesus, we mourn for you and for ourselves
Teach us to be more like you.

               

               

9th: Jesus falls the third time

O Jesus, we ask that you pardon our frequent relapses into sin.
May the thought of your suffering help us be our best.

               

               

10th: Jesus is stripped of his garments

O Jesus, strip us of all false esteem, conceit, and pride and make us humble
so that we can share your glory in the life to come.

               

               

11th: Jesus is nailed to the cross

O Jesus, nailed to the cross, fasten our hearts to the cross
so that we may be united with you.

               

               

12th: Jesus dies on the cross

O Jesus, we devoutly embrace your saving cross on which you died
so that we may have eternal life.
We honor your cross and lovingly accept our own.

               

               

13th: Jesus is taken down from the cross

O Mary, your grief must have been great as your son was put to death.
By his death and resurrection we have become children in Christ.
Help us be like your son, Jesus.

               

               

14th: Jesus is laid in the tomb

Lord, your suffering is over.  Sin, death, and hell have been conquered.
Be the King of my heart.  I surrender myself to your holy will.
I am yours.  May your kingdom come.

               

               

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

Contact information

Stations prayers are based on Reflections on the Stations of the Cross (B-8/15) from the St. Jude Shrine, 512 West Saratoga Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1805.

Pictured stations: (top) St. Cecilia (Los Fresnos, TX), Our Lady of Good Counsel (Brownsville, TX), St. Cecilia (Wisconsin Dells); (bottom) St. Joseph (Sunnyside, WA), St. Luke (Brownsville, TX), and St. Jude Thaddeus (Pharr, TX), respectively.

Prayers

Accept today, Lord, my humble and contrite heart.  Forgive my actions that have caused pain to others.  Show me the way forward that I might act in accordance with your divine and awesome love in all things great and small.  To the praise and glory of your name always, now, and forever.  Amen (Pittsburg Theological Seminary [PTS]).

Almighty God, soften my heart and let me see the extent to which I have sinned against your holiness and the creatures you love.  Though I can only see pain ahead for now, I accept your judgment and pray that, in your wrath, you will remember mercy.  Amen (PTS).

Dear God, as we follow Jesus and commit ourselves afresh to living for him in the world, we pray not only for ourselves and others who trust in Jesus— we ask that you will also hear our prayers in behalf of people who do not yet know him.  May we share and show God’s love to all whom you bring our way.  Amen (PTS).

God, devoted companion, guide us as we enter into this sacred season.  Grace us with prayerful resolve so that this might be a fruitful time for each of us, a time of true repentance, reflection, and self-discipline.  May these forty days be for us a pilgrimage into your heart and into deeper solidarity with our sisters and brothers within the human family.  We ask this in your most holy name.  Amen (Larry Livingston from Unbound).

God, your love for us is deep and mysterious.  In this time of anxiety, bless us with the strength and the wisdom to place our trust in you.  As your son, Jesus, prayed for resolve in the garden, so may we have the resolve to endure our current trials.  As he sacrificed his life out of love for us, may we dedicate our own sacrifices, big and small, to the care of our world, especially those most in need.  We ask this in your holy name.  Amen (Livingston).

God, help us to know that you do not forsake us, that your steadfast love, grace, and mercy are always present in our lives.  Let us rejoice and say “God is good” even when to our prayer we do not get the answer we so desperately want.  Amen (PTS).

God of hope, guide us this Lenten season and beyond to look closer, so that we may see the potential of marginalized people.  Strengthen us to walk with those dismissed because of gender, ethnicity, race, religion, age, disability, poverty, or other circumstances.  Help us love, cherish, and believe in them the way you love, cherish, and believe in all your children.  We ask this in your holy name.  Amen (Loretta Shea Kline).

Gracious and compassionate God, be with us in our lament.  Turn our hearts and our most inmost parts toward seeing anew, toward the suffering that we ourselves experience in this moment, and toward the suffering that others experience because of our shared rebellion.  Bring us this day into the grace of knowing that our suffering is that of others also, that our lament is their lament.  And bring us into the grace of praying that our understanding may become full and of praying for a fullness of understanding that all may share.  Amen (PTS).

Gracious God, in the midst of busy contemporary life, we pause to listen prayerfully and expectantly to the ancient voice of the psalmist, as across the centuries it speaks to us of your gift of spiritual assurance in our times of uncertainty.  We offer our profound gratitude for your promises given.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen (PTS).

Holy God, on this Lenten journey we feel, at times, as though your face is hidden from us.  Speak love to us.  Gather us back.  Show us your face. Remind us that your love carries us, no matter how interesting the times in which we are living.  Amen (PTS).

Jesus, help us to follow you as you walk the way of the cross.  May we not lose heart in the face of suffering.  Amen (Franciscan Media [FM]).

Jesus, keep us faithful to you. When our faith is tested, may we not betray your trust.  May we always be your servants, even in times of suffering.  Amen (FM).

Jesus, may we put faith in you and in the works you do in fulfillment of the Father’s will.  May we help others come to believe in you.  Amen (FM).

Jesus, lifted up on the cross, draw us to yourself.  As we sign ourselves with your cross, remind us that we belong to you.  Amen (FM).

Jesus, may our attitude be yours.  Help us to let go of all that keeps us from life with you.  May today for us be a day of salvation.  Amen (FM).

Jesus, we stand with Mary at the foot of your cross.  Entrust us to her care.  May she ever lead us to you in the heart of the church.  Amen (FM).

Most gracious and loving God, on the night of Jesus’s birth, his cry burst into song and changed history.  As he grew, his teachings became life-changing songs of love.  When he was tried, crucified, and then died, the world thought his song was silenced.  His resurrection brought forth a glorious song of unending love.  Help us never to forget that, if Christ’s song is to continue, we must do the singing.  May we sing a jubilant song of faith, hope, love, and justice on earth as it is in heaven.  In Christ we pray, amen (PTS).

O Lord Jesus Christ, you died to save us.  You stretched your arms on the cross to embrace the world and gather us as your people in the church.  We rejoice!  May we share our lives with others who love you— and with the world you love so deeply.  Amen (PTS).

O Lord of infinite forgiveness and love, rouse our hearts to see the holy in the hustle and bustle, to feel the peace in the noise and chaos, and to experience your grace anew.  Amen (PTS).

Our heavenly Father, you have ordered the universe with physical laws that control the stars above and the world below.  You have given us life and the freedom to choose our path.  Help us to avoid the modern-day plagues that tempt us daily; help us discover the life-giving universal laws found in your word.  Light the way with your love….  Amen (PTS).

Suffering Lord, may we walk with you on the way of the cross.  Strengthen us to let go of selfish ambition and join you in serving others.  Amen (FM).

When our enemies surround us and plot against us, Lord, rescue us from their clutches and defend us from harm.  Be our strength and our salvation.  Amen (FM).

March 4, 2020

Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears, but instead proclaims a fast.  It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced yet often directionless.  It is a summons to stop— a halt!— to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us.  It is a wake-up call for the soul (Pope Francis).

March 5, 2020

“We could not go to Calvary to offer ourselves with him and thus share in the fruits of his sacrifice, so Jesus brought Calvary to us” (Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik in The Basic Book of the Eucharist).

March 8, 2020

“Faith isn’t primarily about rituals and rules, but about walking with God” (Alice Camille, We Journey Together, 2020, p. 13).

March 22, 2020

In times such as these, O God, we wait in Lenten apprehension and hope, longing for the preservation of humanity, the restoration of your creation, and the redemption of both through the sustaining and transforming presence of your Holy Spirit in our hearts and in our world (PTS).

March 26, 2020

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

March 27, 2020

Love and sacrifice are not the same thing, but they are inseparable.  To think of Christ and to think of the cross is not the same thing, but the association is so close that the implication is immediate.  Where love has been preached without sacrifice, it has not led to love but to license (Hubert Van Zeller in How to Find God).

April 12, 2020

Our Lord and our God, on this day when we celebrate your resurrection, help us to come to understand that Easter is much more than a one-day celebration each year.  Help all of us to know and understand ourselves as an “image of You.”  And empower us to live out our daily lives as your image to our family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and yes, even, our enemies.  Amen (PTS).

May 14, 2020

By dying on the cross for us, Jesus showed to what lengths God would go in his love for man; by dying for the glory of the Father, he expressed the depth of the love of man for God.  The cross is the supreme symbol of this love (Luis M. Martinez in True Devotion to the Holy Spirit).

June 22, 2020

“The great secret of a fervent life is to take as our ideal the maxim: Act on all occasions as our Lord would have acted had he been in our place” (Raoul Plus, SJ, in How To Pray Always).

Links of interest…  Aventine meditations…  Earthbeat…  Easter/Lent (meditations)…  Forty days at the foot of the cross…  Franciscan Media: Lent with the saints…  Holy Week: 1st four days / Triduum…  Lent’s reward…  Loving with all our being…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals & archive…  Prayer before the crucifix…   Praying Lent…  Resurrection…  St. Jude Shrine…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotion / fish eaters / for families / for kids / how to do / origin / prayers / printables  / puppet show / significance / unique chant / way of the cross / what are…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…    Concrete abstraction…  For all time…  Full circle…  God’s lovely gifts…  Growing pains…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Pilgrim’s journey…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Sioux chapel stations…  Simple yet profound…  Sorrowful redemption

Pilgrim’s journey

Not quite five years ago I fell in love with the stations of the cross during our eight-day silent retreat.  But they took on new meaning a year and a half later when I discovered the connection between mom’s decades-old prayer and the fourth station of the cross: when Mary, rightly concerned, looks for Jesus and finds him, sadly, on the way to Calvary.

“Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar” (Mendoza, 1939).  Have you seen Jesus pass this way?

Pilgrim’s journey

All of us are travelers, pilgrims on the march to our promised land.  We journey each day one stage nearer to our true home, the place our heavenly Father has reserved for us.

Sometimes our route may be rocky and torturous.  We often grow tired and weary from the obstacles we encounter.  We all have some experience of the truth of the poet’s words: “Now and then there’s a toll gate where you buy your way with tears.”  Even Christ, our lord, admits to us that “you indeed have sorrow now.”

Yet there is no other way to God.  As scripture notes, “How narrow the way and how straight the gate that leads to everlasting life.”  Christ, our leader, trod the same painful path he asks us to follow.  His way of the cross is also our way of salvation; so he now accompanies us on our way of the cross.

We will find our own journey easier when we daily imitate Christ and walk with him along the road to unending life.  As we apply Christ’s example and his merits to our personal situation, we will be strengthened to follow him through pain to glory.

When we think and pray even one station each day, Christ himself will help us perform our daily tasks and lend us his support (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-13R, pp. 2-3; edited).

St. Anselm’s prayer

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.

1: Jesus is condemned.

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

                

           

Lord Jesus, may we deliver ourselves up with patience and love
to the many little deaths that fidelity in your service may require of us.

2: Jesus takes his cross.

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

           

           

Strengthen us, Lord Jesus, to carry our cross
with faith and trust and without complaining of its weight.

3: Jesus falls the first time.

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

           

           

Be with us always, Lord Jesus.
Despite the weakness of the flesh may we never waver in our loyalty to you.

4: Jesus meets his mother.

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

           

           

Lord Jesus, may your mother and ours remain always
a sure hope and comfort for us, your pilgrim people.

5: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

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

           

           

May we be generous, Lord Christ, in coming to the aid
of our fellow pilgrims during our earthly journey.

6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

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

           

           

Dear Lord, may we never turn a cold shoulder but always
a smiling face to those who look to us for comfort.

7: Jesus falls the second time.

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

           

           

Gird us with new strength, dear Christ, for the steep climb
and the hard stretches along the road to our glorious resurrection.

8: Jesus speaks to the women.

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

           

           

Lord Jesus, may the assurance that our Father in heaven will someday
wipe our tears away sustain us in the dark and painful hours of life.

9: Jesus falls the third time.

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

           

           

Help us, dear Lord, to pick ourselves up each time we fall.  Conscious of our weakness, may we stretch a helping hand to all who share our human frailty.

10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes.

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

           

           

Dear Jesus, stripped of your garments in the passion
bless all our efforts at purification and renewal.

11: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

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

           

           

We give you thanks and praise, dear Savior, for submitting willingly
to suffering and death for our sake.  We bless your precious cross
by which the joy and salvation came into the world.

12: Jesus dies on the cross.

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

           

           

We are yours, blessed Savior, whether we live or die.
In baptism we have agreed to be yours in time and eternity.
May we be made dead to sin and alive to God with you.

13: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

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

           

           

Lord Jesus, you are the resurrection and the life.
May we stand before the world as your witnesses, vivid signs of the living God.

14: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

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

           

           

Lord Jesus, may we always continue in the strength which comes
from our hope in your mercy, goodness, and love for us.

Concluding prayer

You, O God, overcame death through your only-begotten Son who opened for us the gates of life eternal.  Help us, then, to carry out in our lives the desires you inspire in us.  This we ask through the risen Christ, our lord, who now lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for all the ages.  Amen.

Contact information

Stations prayers are from Your Way of the Cross (B-8/15), received from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

                 

Pictured stations are from sacred spaces in Texas: St. Jude Chapel (Dallas), Our Lady Star of the Sea (Port Isabel), St. Albert the Great (Round Rock), Our Lady of Sorrows (McAllen), Sacred Heart (Cotulla), and St. Benedict’s (San Benito), respectively.

Resources

Creative Communications for the Parish has lots of devotional materials for all ages. What I most appreciate are their booklets for Advent and Lent, like the two below.

             

March 28, 2019

“True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity” (Pope St. Leo the Great).

March 29, 2019

“We need no wings to go in search of him, but have only to look upon him present within us” (St. Teresa of Avila).

March 31, 2019

Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable.  And it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves (Ram Dass).

April 1, 2019

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

April 14, 2019

This is what Jesus is exposing and defeating on the cross.  He did not come to change God’s mind about us.  It did not need changing.  Jesus came to change our minds about God— and about ourselves— and about where goodness and evil really lie (Richard Rohr, OFM).

April 20, 2019

Holy Saturday…  The sky holds tight her purple shroud, / Broken by the tips of blackened trees / Which stand in silent mourning. / All creation’s quaking, grieving are now a jealous sentinel, / Guarding the gates of morning / Listening / To the eternal Word which has been spoken, / Watching / For Adam’s bond to be forever broken, / All of time bows a prayerful head / To await its Maker’s rising from the dead. /  And I, / Too often fraught with unbelief, / Now unite my cry to that of the good thief. /  Bending low beneath the standard of the King, / I whisper to the darkness, / “I believe” (Sisters of Carmel, 2019).

Jesus & Mary by Jennie Price (2018)

Links of interest…  Be a pilgrim…  Communications for the Parish…  Fifteen ways Jesus Christ suffered in love…  Franciscan Mission Associates…  Majesty of Christ crucified…  Prayer before a crucifix…  Ram Dass: Dying before you die / horrible beauty of suffering…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Stations: about /  devotion / fish eaters / for families (more) / for kids (coloring pages) / how to do / Jesuitsmaking them worthwhile / on your block / origin / prayers / printables / puppet show / scriptural / significance /  uncomfortable truthway of the cross…  Ten lessons from the agony in the garden…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis…  Videos: street stations for commuters & bikers….  Way of the cross (preview)…  What it means to worship a man crucified as a criminal & Jesus saw from the cross…  Why pray the stations of the cross…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  For all time…  Full circle…  God’s lovely gifts…  Growing pains…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Our Lady star…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Repeated prayers…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Benedict’s…  St. Jude chapel…  Three visits…  Undeniable familiarity…  Unexpected detours…  Welcoming spirit

Remembrances

Since our monthly Saturday meeting in McAllen was rescheduled, attending four o’clock Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows was out of the question.  We needed another plan, so we opted for church closer to home.

For two days I vacillated between St. Benedict’s in San Benito and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Port Isabel.  Both are very special to us, very welcoming.  But I finally gave in to the gentle though insistent nudge from the voice within.

St. Benedict’s

Walking to our usual spot— fourth pew on the left— we quickly noticed a rather large frame topped with a floppy black bow with a large wreath beside it next to the ambo.

“Someone died,” I whispered to Steven.  “Is it a priest or a deacon?”

Once seated, I leaned forward and quietly asked the woman in the third pew who the man was.

“Fr. Nacho, our former priest, died March fifteenth,” the woman replied.  “He was with us sixteen years.  And then Fr. Tinajero took his place.”

I thanked the woman, sat back on the pew, and told Steven he’d been correct.

Remembrances

We’d been to St. Benedict’s two or three times when Fr. Nacho had celebrated Mass in Fr. Tinajero’s absence, so we’d delighted in his fatherly love: anecdotal homilies oozing with gentle wisdom, self-deprecating humor, and genuine engagement.  He loved his sheep, and they responded accordingly.  What a gift to witness their interactions.

Fr. Nacho had a positive outlook on life.  When he spoke about his mortality and his physical limitations, we chuckled.  Many even laughed out loud.  He was undaunted, down-to-earth funny, and gratefully aware that God was in charge.

Naturally, we were saddened to learn of his passing.  But, mostly, we were glad to have known him, even if just for a little while, so we could remember him with his flock.

       

     

       

       

           

Prayers

Daily prayer for the dead…  Immortal God. holy lord, father and protector of all you have created, we raise our hearts to you today for those who have passed out of this mortal life.

For all the faithful who have died we pray but, in particular, for those dear to us: parents, relatives, friends.  Nor do we forget all who did good to us while on earth and who helped us by their prayers, sacrifice, and example.  We pray also for any who may have done us harm and who stand in special need of your forgiveness.

May the merits and prayers of our virgin mother, Mary, and those of all your angels and saints speak for us and assist them now.  This we ask in Christ’s name.  Amen.

For the faithful departed…  Give them eternal rest, O Lord, and let them share your glory.

God, our creator and redeemer, by your power Christ conquered death and returned to you in glory.  May all your people who have gone before us in faith share his victory and enjoy the vision of your glory forever where Christ lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

You are, O God, the creator and savior of all the faithful.  Forgive your servants all their sins and, by our loving prayers, grant them the pardon they always hoped for.  You live and reign forever in union with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

For a priest…  God of mercy, we who receive the sacraments of salvation pray for [name], your servant and priest.  You made him a minister of your mysteries on earth.  May he rejoice in the full knowledge of your truth in heaven.  We ask this through Christ, our lord.  Amen.

Quotes

Happy are those who die in the Lord.  Happy indeed the Spirit says; now they can rest forever from their work (Revelations 14:13).

In meadows of green grass he lets me lie.  To the waters of repose he leader me: There he revives my soul (Psalm 23:2).

“What eye has not seen and ear has not heard, what has not entered the human heart [is] what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Contact information

Prayers and quotes are from Let Us Pray for Our Faithful Departed (B-11/12) and Twelve Days of Prayer for Your Faithful Departed (B-16/07) from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

                

April 5, 2019

Death— whether one of many deaths to the false self or our final physical dying— is simply returning to our spacious ground of being, to our foundation in love.  Life doesn’t truly end; it simply changes form and continues evolving into ever new shapes and beauty (Richard Rohr, OFM).

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May Fr. Nacho rest in peace.

Links of interest…  Benedictine benedictions…  Church in San Benito, TX: facebookMass times (more) / website…  Commending the soul to God…  Immeasurable charity of praying for the dead…  Liberating power of the St. Benedict medal (spiritual weapons)…  Making the case for fraternal correction…  Prayers: book /  death & dying / for holy soulsthe deceased – those in purgatory – when one fears death / meditations / more…  Praying the stations of the cross while mourning a loved one’s death…  St. Benedict: medal (braceletjubilee – more – seven things to know) / memorial / prayers: litany – novena – prayers (more)…  Turn mourning into joy

WP posts…  Call of service…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Mourning joy…  Our Lady’s snow…  Pilgrim’s journey…  Prayerful messages…  St. Benedict’s

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).

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

St. Jude chapel

Steven and I recently spent several days near downtown Dallas, so we chose a lovely storefront chapel— St. Jude’s— for Saturday evening Mass at four o’clock.  A delightful experience, we were greeted not as travelers, but as close friends dropping by for warmth and conversation on a very cold, misty afternoon.

            

            

            

           

            

    

                

                

          

      

Prayers

May Jesus comfort you in all your afflictions.  May he sustain you in dangers, watch over you always with his grace, and indicate the safe path that leads to eternal salvation.  And may he render you always dearer to his divine heart and always more worthy of paradise.  Amen (St. Pio).

Most holy apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, place myself into your hands at this difficult time.  Help me to know that I am not alone.  Please pray for me, and ask God to send me comfort for my sorrows, bravery for my fears, and healing for my suffering.  Ask our loving God to strengthen my faith and give me the courage to accept his will for my life.  Thank you, St. Jude, for the hope you offer to all who believe in you.  Amen (Baltimore Pallottines).

O Lord, my savior, come into my heart.  Take away from me all depression and anxiety.  Lift me up into your arms.  Hold me with your empowering love and release me, Lord.  I need you more than ever, dear Lord.  Embrace me now with your all-powerful healing love.  I know we can make it together, just you and me.  Amen (Rogationist Publications, 2015).

March 2, 2018

“The Christian life is not limited to prayer, but requires an ongoing dedication and courage born of prayer” (Pope Francis).

April 9, 2018

What comes from God touches gently; comes quietly; does not disturb freedom; and leads to quiet, profound, peaceful resolve within the heart.  And those are called blessed who make the effort to remain open-hearted (Romano Guardini in Meditations on the Christ: Model of All Holiness).

Links of interest…  Dallas: downtown chapel / facebook / Mass times / parking / website…  Happy 20th anniversary, Fr. Jonathan Austin…  St. Jude: chaplet (more) / faith & intercession / in suffering & desperate times / novenas (in Spanish, too) / prayers

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Finding St. Rita…  Forever grateful…  October novena…  Prayer power…  Revisiting St. Simon…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Jude novena…  St. Jude shrine: ChicagoCorpus Christi…  St. Monica

Etched in time

Our first look inside San Agustin Cathedral, September 15, 2009, was made possible by the priest exiting the side door on his way to the dieciséis de septiembre celebration at the plaza across the street.  “You can visit only until the cleaning is done, but you’re welcome to return for noon Mass tomorrow if you like.”

December 18, 2017

Having waited too long, we returned to Laredo for the Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event and, again, stayed at La Posada near the cathedral so we could finally make it to noon Mass, enjoy a good while within, and take photos to my heart’s content.

                

            

            

            

                

December 19, 2017

Walking back to the hotel from our afternoon meeting at the museum provided backside views of the cathedral.  I could hardly wait to spend time at the historic sacred space.

            

            

December 20, 2017

From the groundskeepers to the hotel workers to the people on the street by the plaza, everyone was all smiles.  Warm sunshine had overtaken the cold and the rain from previous days.  Again and again, we heard grateful expressions: “What a beautiful day!”  “We really needed this!”  “It’d been too long since we’d last seen the sun!”  “Enjoy your day!”

Churchyard observations

Steven drove us to the cathedral, since we’d agreed to leave Laredo from there for his meeting in San Benito that afternoon.  We were about ten or fifteen minutes early, so I had time to explore the churchyard and observe not just the birds, but also the people gathered about waiting for the sacristan to unlock the front doors.

That’s when I noticed a diminutive, humble man in day laborer attire.  He sat pensively, almost invisibly, clutching a small, rather worn brown paper sack by the fence under the oak tree.  His forlorn look made my heart ache!  Had he traveled far to come to church? I wondered.  Is that why he’d packed a little something to eat along the way?

God-filled moments

When the sacristan opened the cathedral’s doors, we were the first to enter.  Standing just two feet within but allowing enough space for others to walk through, I acclimated to the tiny vestibule before stepping into the nave.  And, as I turned to look back outside before the sacristan closed the door, I saw the little man with the heaviness of the world on his shoulders.

“Good morning!” I smiled.  “¡Buenos días!”

The khaki-clad man, pained to be awakened from his self-imposed (prayerful) trance, glanced at me, uttered an almost inaudible response, and shuffled head down toward the inner doors.

As I continued greeting others arriving for noon Mass, I wondered if the small man had missed his chance to work with the able-bodied day laborers awaiting rides across the street from the cathedral.  How I longed to ease his pain!  But all I could do was entrust him to God.

Jesus in repose

The cathedral was still somewhat dark as I took photos in the back of the church, but I knew my way around.  Jesus was waiting in the alcove by the confessionals on the left.  I’d photographed him previously as the baby in the glass-and-gold enclosure and also as the adult in repose on the stone slab below the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

With my third eye leading the way, my peripheral vision caught sight of someone bent ever so gently, ever so faithfully, with hands lovingly placed on Jesus’s legs and feet.  I didn’t want to move!  I didn’t want to intrude!  I’d unknowingly walked into a very private moment and didn’t know what to do.

Dear God, please, add my prayers to his.  Let me not be an impediment.

I didn’t want to disturb the person whom I sensed was quite distraught, so I took photos ever so quietly.  And, when the person sat up, I saw the little man in wrinkled clothing.

He said nothing and mostly was oblivious of me.  He hadn’t been startled, so his silence came across more as acceptance than discomfort.  Yet I’d walked into such an intimate scene that I couldn’t just ignore it.

Lowering my Coolpix for a few moments, I softly greeted the man and spoke to him in Spanish.  “Look how beautiful Jesus is with Our Lady keeping a watchful eye on him from above.  She’s never far from those she loves.”  Then, as I photographed Jesus, the downtrodden man spoke to me in littles.

I reciprocated in calm, even tones, voicing encouragement while praying within.

Dear God, please, what can I do to help?  Don’t let this moment pass without our interceding on his behalf. 

I wanted to do something for the man but had only my camera in hand.

Etched in time

Finally, Steven came into view.  With all the dignity and friendship I could muster to help the man feel valued, I introduced them to each other.  Then, as naturally as possible in English, I briefly shared the man’s story with Steven who, for reasons I couldn’t fathom, stepped away and out of sight.

Had Steven not heard the plea in my voice?  Had he not intuited my message?  I’d been mentally dialoguing in three directions, and I was concerned.  I seldom carry money, so I had no means of assisting the man— not that he’d even asked— but I wasn’t giving up!

Once our talking and my photo taking reached the perfect level of mutual trust and understanding, I stepped out of the alcove hoping to share my desire for Steven to intervene somehow and—

Surprise! 

The moment we looked at each other, Steven, trying hard to contain his emotions, extended his hand for me to take his offering.

“Thank you,” I whispered, and walked back to the disconsolate man.

Bending close I placed my hand in his, talked a little more, wished him and his family a merry Christmas, smiled, and walked away.  The man had no idea what I’d pressed into his hand, and I didn’t wait for him to find out.  But, moving about taking photos, my peripheral vision did notice that he sat gazing at both Jesus and Our Lady for a very long time before departing.

A sweet memory etched in time, God answered our heartfelt prayers that day.

           

          

         

                

               

               

                  

                  

      

   

                

                

                

               

                

                

                

         

September 15, 2009

                

Prayers from St. Augustine

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.  Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.  Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, so that I love only what is holy.  Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.  Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.  Amen.

Give me yourself, O my God; give yourself to me.  Behold I love you and, if my love is too weak a thing, grant me to love you more strongly.  I cannot measure my love to know how much it falls short of being sufficient, but let my soul hasten to your embrace and never be turned away until it is hidden in the secret shelter of your presence.  This only do I know: That it is not good for me when you are not with me, when you are only outside me.  I want you in my very self.  All the plenty in the world which is not my God is utter want.  Amen.

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know you and desire nothing save only you.  Let me hate myself and love you.  Let me do everything for the sake of you.  Let me humble myself and exalt you.  Let me think of nothing except you.  Let me die to myself and live in you.  Let me accept whatever happens as from you.  Let me banish self and follow you and ever desire to follow you.  Let me fly from myself and take refuge in you that I may deserve to be defended by you.  Let me fear for myself, let me fear you, and let me be among those who are chosen by you.  Let me distrust myself and put my trust in you.  Let me be willing to obey for the sake of you.  Let me cling to nothing save only to you and let me be poor because of you.  Look upon me that I may love you.  Call me that I may see you and forever enjoy you.  Amen.

                       

Quotes from St. Augustine

Do you wish to rise?  Begin by descending.  You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds?  Lay first the foundation of humility.

Hope has two beautiful daughters.  Their names are Anger and Courage— anger at the way things are and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are (Attributed but unverified).

What does love look like?  It has the hands to help others.  It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.  It has eyes to see misery and want.  It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.  That is what love looks like.

You aspire to great things?  Begin with little ones.

February 28, 2018

Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart.  You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips, but with your heart.  In fact, on certain occasions, you should only speak to him with your heart (St. Pio).

Links of interest…  Augustine of Hippo: apostolic letter (JPII) / architect of the Middle Agesauthor / bishop & doctor / book on prayer / commentary on the Sermon on the Mountconfessions (quotes) / doctor of grace (more) / factsfor all seasons /  memorial (Aug 28) / on the Beatitudes / prayers / philosophy / prodigal son / quotesraised to new life / seeking God / son of tearsthinking faith…  dieciséis de septiembre…  Burial slab of Jesus found in Jerusalem (limestone piece of rock / uncovered)…  Laredo:  churches / La Posada Hotel / museumstours (events – heritage walking tour)…  Padre Pio’s words of faith…  San Agustin: cathedral (diocesan page – facebook – history –  Mass times) / historic district / obispo (bishop) / restoration (new renderings of project)…  TX Tropical Trail Region

WP posts…  Historic nuggets…  Persistence…  St. Austin Church…  St. Monica…  Sweet Jesus

Our Lady’s snow

To avoid the colder, rainier drive to church on Friday, Steven and I attended six-thirty Mass at St. Benedict’s Thursday evening.

Fr. Luis and Deacon Sanchez wore white and blue in honor of Our Lady’s feast day, and the Advent altar was simple yet elegant.  The building was somewhat cold, so everyone kept their coat on.  And some coughed in response to the incense, but everyone was focused on the special celebration.

Feeling oh-so blessed during Mass, I closed my eyes without thinking and asked special blessings for everyone during the prayers of the faithful.  They love their church so much! I thought.  Fr. Luis interacts with them so genuinely that they truly are family.

Moreover, parishioners at St. Benedict’s are among the friendliest we’ve been around.  Welcoming and inclusive, they smile when they shake hands and, after Mass, engage us in conversation; so I keep them in my thoughts and prayers between visits.

            

                

Watchfulness

After Mass, Fr. Luis cautioned everyone to be very careful exiting church.  “The steps are slippery.  We will be fixing that problem in a few weeks; but, for now, watch yourself!  And drive safely!”

I couldn’t get to the vehicle quickly enough!  Cold, wet, all I could think of was getting home.  And, sure, the possibility of snow was on my mind, but really?  That’s just wishful thinking, I told myself.  Besides, it’s not even Christmas.

Traffic was heavy for a Thursday night.  Everyone was driving too fast despite the rain, but soon enough we were home safe watching the weathercast on the news.

Our Lady’s snow

Between twelve-o-five and one a.m. I started hearing noises: some, loud on the roof; others, “ticking” sounds on the window panes.  Raindrops?  Sleet?  It’s too dark to see anything.  I may regret not having looked, but I’m off to bed.  It was one-forty-five.

Then, five minutes to nine, Steven woke me.  “It’s snowing!  I figured you’d want to see!”

Those of us familiar with Our Lady of the Snows know that the Rio Grande Valley does not have a shrine in her honor.  However, on the Blessed Mother’s very special day, we were gifted with a fantastic surprise— a miracle, really— Our Lady’s snow.

            

            

           

            

Prayers

Allow me to praise you, O most holy Virgin Mary, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.  Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for you, just for you.  Allow me to bring the whole world to you.  Allow me to contribute to your ever-greater exaltation, to your greatest possible exaltation.  Allow me to give you such glory that no one else has ever given up to now.

Allow others to surpass me in zeal for your exaltation and me to surpass them so that, by means of such noble rivalry, your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He who has exalted you so indescribably, above all other beings….  Amen.

O most Holy Virgin, immaculate in body and spirit, look kindly on me as I implore your powerful intercession.  O most Holy Mother, receive my prayers as I present them to God.  (State your petition.)  O Mary, mother of Jesus and our mother, you intercede for us with your son.  O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.  Amen.

December 9, 2017

“The knowledge that God gives us of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin should cause us to glorify him eternally for this masterpiece of his omnipotence in a nature that is purely human” (St. Louise de Marillac).

Seeing how so many Christians express their affection for the Virgin Mary, surely you also feel more a part of the Church, closer to those brothers and sisters of yours.  It is like a family reunion.  Grown-up children, whom life has separated, come back to their mother for some family anniversary.  And even if they have not always got on well together, today things are different; they feel united, sharing the same affection (St. JosémarÍa Escrivá in Christ is passing by, 139).

Seek God in the depths of your pure, clean heart; in the depths of your soul when you are faithful to him.  And never lose that intimacy.  And, if ever you do not know how to speak to him or what to say, or you do not dare to look for Jesus inside yourself, turn to Mary, tota pulchra, all pure and wonderful, and tell her: Our Lady and Mother, the Lord wanted you yourself to look after God and tend him with your own hands.  Teach me, teach us all, how to treat your Son! (St. JosémarÍa Escrivá in The Forge, 84).

January 1, 2020

Mary is held up as a sign of hope, a model for maternal instinct and the feminine genius that rejects every form of power except love.  Let it be resolved, for only a world that treasures women and children will evolve to claim the future (Pat Marrin).

Links of interest…  Brownsville Herald: snow forecast / South Texas gets a rare snowfall…  Holy days of obligation are also days of opportunity…  Immaculate Conception: 8 things to know / Dec 8 (more) / feast (more – prayer) / in scripture  (discussion – more) / meaning of the celebrationoctave no longer observedprayers / solemnity (more – prayer – readings) / why Catholics believe…  Our Lady of the Snows: about / Aug 5miracleshrine / story (video)…  Sabbatical for suffering with the Immaculate Conception…  St. Benedict Church: facebook / Mass times (more) / website…  St. JosémarÍa Escrivá: fifteen leadership lessonsOpus Dei…  White Christmas in Brownsville, TX (2004)…  Why Mary is patroness of the United States

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Fatima prayers…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s Immaculate Heart…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  Our Lady…  Remembrances…  St. Benedict’s…  St. Mary revisited

Unbounded joy

Steven and I were Unbound (CFCA) sponsors five years before we learned that others within the Corpus Christi diocese knew about the program, too.

From: Unbound
Date: Monday, June 26, 2017 11:12 AM
Re: Unbound volunteer opportunity at St. Pius X

Dear Steven & Deli,

We will be in your area on July first and second hosting a weekend sponsorship event at St. Pius X.  Fr. Thomas Landgraff, an Unbound presenter, will be celebrating Mass and inviting parishioners to visit the sponsorship table and see folders of children, youth, and elderly friends awaiting sponsorship.

Would you be available to volunteer at the sponsorship table after one of the Masses?  It only takes about thirty minutes of your time, and we’ll make sure you’re prepared before the event.

Please reply to this email or call us to let us know you are available.

We are grateful for your continued support in creating change in our world.

Sincerely,
Maureen Ortiz
Outreach Coordinator

CFCA

We first learned about the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA) from Dotty and Loren Smeester, April 2012.  Although they’d wintered in Port Aransas the month of February most years, I’d never seen them in church until they happened to occupy the pew behind ours at nine o’clock Mass.

February 2012

I so enjoyed Loren’s singing, richly reminiscent of a cowboy on a long cattle drive, that I imagined him as a farmer or a rancher.  I complimented him as we exchanged the sign of peace and received a great big smile in return!

After Mass, Loren approached the ambo, introduced Dotty and himself, and told us about the two items— an I’m #3 card and a CD— that he felt compelled to share with our St. Joseph Church community.   He was friendly, unassuming, and faith-driven; so I couldn’t wait to hear more of his story before we left church that morning.

               

                

Invitation

Taking photos for the church blog (as usual after Mass) I had the opportunity to observe not just Loren in his interactions with Fr. Xaviour and the parishioners, but also Dotty as she very patiently waited for him to complete his mission.  They were so attuned to each other that they communicated wordlessly, effortlessly— truly a match made in heaven.

When Loren had dispensed all his wares, I approached the beautiful couple smilingly.  Steven joined in the conversation, too.  We learned that the Smeesters owned the Silver Bison Ranch in Baldwin, Wisconsin.

“Come see us when you’re in the area!” Loren insisted.  “You’re welcome anytime!”

I chuckled within because the thought, while appealing, was almost outrageous.  I’d never been up north before, and I doubted that we’d travel there just to take in a tour of the ranch and Dotty’s home cooking.  Still, I graciously accepted.

April 2012

The following month Steven was asked to attend a conference in Marinette, Wisconsin in April; so Steven made all the arrangements, allowing extra time for Dotty and Loren.

Without giving the Smeesters advance notice— in case we had a change in plans— we flew into Minneapolis, drove to Baldwin, and stopped by the family gift shop before calling Dotty and Loren for a quick “hello” and then be on our way.

Long story short, we visited their home twice— a few hours that evening and an entire day before returning to the airport to head back to Texas.  And, for reasons that I don’t recall at the moment, Loren shared the story behind the letter they’d recently received from their precious godson in Central America and very gently encouraged us to sponsor a child, too, because it was a mutually rewarding experience.

Sponsorship

When we got home days later, Steven looked into CFCA and signed us up.

Mid-May we received three packets with photos and information about our sponsored friends: two girls— the older one in Costa Rica; the younger, in Lima, Peru— and an elder, Freska, in the Philippines.

My letter-writing skills from childhood were quickly embraced; and my Spanish, though rusty, began a slow-but-steady comeback, thanks in part to the internet.  How amazing to correspond without the need of a CFCA translator!  The girls and I wrote in Spanish; Freska’s grandchildren and I, in English.  A worthy endeavor for all of us!

In 2013, an unexpected change disrupted my correspondence with the older girl when her family relocated to a country that CFCA didn’t serve.  I miss Vanessa’s long, soulful letters and often wonder how she’s doing!  Still, her photo, on display with the other two that change periodically, represents not just our hope for her well-being, but also our continued thoughts and prayers for her success.

Unbound

CFCA has since changed its name— “Unbound sums up our work in one simple and powerful word” (Website; January 2, 2014)— but all else remains the same.  Letters, drawings, cards, and updated photos, along with Unbound pamphlets and inserts, arrive at different times during the year.  And sponsors are encouraged to write (and include photos) at least twice a year, though more often is incredibly fulfilling.

July 2, 2017

Until we received Maureen’s email invitation to volunteer, we had no idea that other Unbound sponsors lived within the diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas; so imagine our surprise at being asked to assist at the weekend sponsorship event!  We were happy to attend Mass at St. Pius X, a church we visit on special occasions.  But we were especially delighted to meet Ana, a young woman who has sponsored a little girl since 2012, and Fr. Tom Landgraff, OSFS who, himself, sponsors an elder.

And the icing on the cake?

Among those we met, two families who already were part of a sponsorship program added friends.  A couple with four children in tow took home the packet of a darling little girl in a festive gold-and-green dress; and a very thoughtful woman gifted herself with the sponsorship of an elder from Mexico, an addition to her one child from before

As for Steven and me?

For months I’d wanted to grow our sponsored family, so we knew we’d be taking a packet home.  But, as usually happens, the heart always yearns for more.

Unbounded joy

As we’d spread out the packets on the table to prepare for potential sponsors (before and after the Masses), we’d been smitten by the little girl and the elder whom we later enthusiastically promoted to the two families (above) who readily accepted them.

Our thinking was to find good homes for as many children and elders as we could, so we rejoiced with each perfect match.

But what about us? I wondered when church had emptied except for us.

In that brief, quiet moment I had no idea that, even before the morning sessions had concluded, Steven had found the three remaining packets from Mexico in Fr. Tom’s box.  He hadn’t forgotten my request: “I want someone I can write to in Spanish.”

“These are all that’s left,” Steven approached with the youngsters from Merida.

“We’ll take them!” I exclaimed with unbounded joy.

I knew that the sooner I mailed my introductions, the sooner I’d receive our sponsored children’s replies.  What a promise of hope!

           

                              

                     

            

            

            

                        

                                

            

            

            

Postscript

Today, November twentieth, is Juanito’s seventh birthday.  He is the oldest of the three youngsters we began sponsoring in July.  His sister, just three years older, wrote two of the most delightful, endearing letters I’ve ever received.  Infused with love, her accounts latched onto my mind, heart, and soul.  But, October eighteenth, we received word from Unbound’s office in Kansas that the family was relocating from Merida because of the dad’s new job.  This meant Juanito’s exit from the program.

While I was ever so grateful for the family’s much-needed economic blessing, I couldn’t help but think of Hania’s colorful perspectives on her little brother and the family.  I’ll miss being part of their lives and the many adventures Hania has yet to share!  Still, as with Vanessa, Juanito’s family will remain with us through the brief but indelible memories forged in just a few months.

And, when one door closes, another opens.

While Unbound’s telephone message was terribly disheartening— and the realization of not hearing from Hania again immensely disappointing— I had to do something to honor, not mourn, the loss of Juanito and his family.  Instead of returning the phone call right away, I took a few hours to clear my thoughts… and made quite a discovery.

After visiting “Find someone to sponsor” on Unbound’s home page, I telephoned the Kansas office not only to express my gratitude for having learned about Juanito’s family through Hania’s beautiful letters, but also to discuss the sponsorship of a child in Kenya whose Mona Lisa smile tugged at my heartstrings, a five-year-old girl who, like Juanito, dreams big and loves to sing.

Prayers from the Unbound community

Bountiful God, your faith in your children overflows and overwhelms us.  Help us to embrace the confidence you have in us so that we may realize how truly magnificent it is to be human.  May gratitude to you, expressed in loving care for others, guide us and fill us with the joy that is the reward of the good and faithful servant.  We ask this in your holy name.  Amen (Larry Livingston).

Compassionate God, you have called us to act as agents of your love in our world, and blessed us with the gifts we need to fulfill that mission.  Following the example of Jesus, may we embrace our calling to be your partners in creating a world of justice and mercy.  We ask this in your holy name.  Amen (Fr. Dave Noone).

Dear God, I pray for anyone going through new, difficult or uncertain times to feel your constant love and support.  I pray they can learn from your example and the example of others to rise above their situation and embrace the journey and the growth.  More importantly, I pray we continue to count our blessings, to see life as a gift.  I pray we develop the strength to endure life’s difficulties and the wisdom to appreciate life’s splendor.  Amen (Gustavo Adolfo Aybar).

Dear God, thank you for believing in us.  When we don’t believe in ourselves or others, you show us compassion and our hearts are filled.  Wonderful teacher, thank you for showing us, through our sponsored friends, that nothing is insurmountable if we believe in each other and put our faith in you.  Help us become better sources of encouragement and light in each other’s lives.  We ask this in your name.  Amen (Jordan Kimbrell).

Dear God, thank you for helping us wake up each day and do the small deeds.  Thank you for giving us strength to contribute.  Help us to give without expectation.  Help us to see and appreciate your love, manifested through others, all the days of our lives.  In your name, we pray.  Amen (Bridget Barry).

Dear Lord, help us ensure that our actions and our words remain focused on our goals and that our day-to-day efforts reflect an ever-increasing desire to help those who need us.  Help us stay true to our mission and remember to be thankful for the gifts offered by others, especially their time, talent, and financial resources.  Watch over us as we walk with people in poverty.  Help us remain their loyal and loving servants.  Amen (Aybar).

Dear Lord, your work takes us to many places for which we are thankful.  We offer our gratitude to you for all you have given us.  May we continue to walk along the path you have chosen for us with humility, as we carry our gifts to those we serve.  Amen (Bernetta McKindra).

Dear Lord, please help us to remain humble, as well as generous to others and ourselves, in words, thoughts and actions.  Allow us to see Christ’s life, especially his passion, as a perfect model of strength, commitment and faith.  Help us to embrace all of life’s joys and challenges and remain ever faithful to your will.  Amen (Aybar).

Faithful God, we know that all things work for good for those who follow you.  Remind us of that truth and empower us to look to the good that you have for us and trust the path you’ve laid out.  We thank you for all the success with which you’ve blessed Unbound families, that they may find greater confidence in themselves and in your love.  Amen (Maureen Lunn).

Father, when we look at our lives and see how fragmentary everything is, how many plans have gone undone, and all the reasons we have to be embarrassed and ashamed, help us to realize that there has not been a minute in any day when we have not been embraced by your love.  Amen (Noone).

Generous God, in the Blessed Virgin Mary we see the grace of one who dedicated herself to the fulfillment of your will.  May we, like her, have the courage to let it be done to us according to your word, that we may give ourselves in loving service to our sisters and brothers in need.  We ask this in the name of your son, Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen (Livingston).

Glorious God, you created the human person to proclaim your goodness.  May we never shrink from that magnificent calling.  Bolster us in times of doubt and send us companions in times of loneliness.  At all times, give us the grace to live life to the full.  Amen (Livingston).

God of all, you have created us to build one another up and help each person reach their full potential.  Bless us as we strive to live in solidarity with our sisters and brothers.  Give us the wisdom to look past that which separates us to that which we have in common, our sacred identity as your beloved children.  We ask this in the name of your son and our brother, Jesus the Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.  Amen (Livingston).

God of creation, help us to see beyond ourselves.  Thank you for the community you’ve provided us, our coworkers, family members, and those we serve.  Remind us to be grateful for the work of all of society, and empower us to be kind as we create together.  In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen (Lunn).

God of open arms, thank you for welcoming us into your love and forgiveness.  Thank you for making space for us in your heart.  Give us the wisdom to see others with the same welcoming eyes through which you see them.  We desire to foster a world where everyone belongs, and we pray for your guidance.  Amen (Lunn).

God whose goodness runs deeper than we can fathom, speak to us in sacred stillness.  Deliver us from the noise and clutter of the world and bring us to the depths of our hearts, where we may listen to you in peace and confidence.  Fed by your grace, may we be messengers of hope and agents of love in a world in need.  We ask this in the name of your son and our brother, Jesus the Christ.  Amen (Livingston).

God, our most gracious father, I pray that we all might reach out in solidarity and befriend one another.  May we “get our feet wet” in the courageous belief that loving others means not taking ourselves too seriously, but seriously believing in the potential of others.  Amen (Shantel Davis).

Gracious God, all that we have is a gift from you.  Whatever good we do is but a glimmer of your goodness.  Teach us how to be gifts for others, and may we have the wisdom to allow them to bless us in return.  Break open the bread of our lives so that all may be fed.  We ask this in your most holy name.  Amen (Fr. Bill Donnelly).

Gracious God, open our ears to hear your voice.  Lead our feet on your path as we walk with you and in solidarity with others.  Fill our lives with your presence and peace as you bless and make use of us.  Amen (Benjamin Haley).

Lord, thank you for simple reminders of our past.  May we reflect on them and continue to grow.  Thank you for the founders of Unbound, who heard your call of service and created something that has lasted nearly four decades.  Thank you for the children, youth and elders we serve, as they continue to remind us that poverty is still among us.  Bless us as we continue the journey started by Bob and the other founders. We ask this in your name.  Amen (Kimbrell).

Lord, we thank you for being a loving father who calls us to you no matter who we are.  The love we feel being included in your family is overwhelming.  We pray that others living on the margins of society will know how much they’re also loved, wanted, and welcomed.  Show us how we can include those around us, drawing them into your love.  Amen (Clair Paul).

Lord, you filled our world with beautiful and diverse languages.  Thank you for connection through communication.  We appreciate the gifts others share to build bridges between those who don’t share common tongues.  May our words draw us closer together and closer to you.  Amen (Paul).

Loving God, Mary, Joseph and your Son, Jesus, were visited by the Magi.  They were poor and surely astounded by such wonderful gifts that were brought to them.  Yet they were a gift to their visitors from distant lands.  Open our eyes and help us to see the gifts of love that come our way, gifts that may be small in material value, but rich in love and faith.  Amen (Fr. John Anglin, OFM).

Loving God, bless your people with generosity of spirit.  May our days be marked by love for our brothers and sisters, and may we be filled with the resolve to live in solidarity with them.  In all that we say and all that we do, may compassion guide us, and may others see within us a reflection of your perfect love.  We ask this in the name of your son and our brother, Jesus Christ.  Amen (Fr. Joseph Gosselin, MS).

Loving God, you gave us the gift of free will to chart our own course.  You also gave us the blessing of accompaniment by the Holy Spirit and our fellow human beings.  Open our eyes to see potential, our ears to listen to dreams, our minds to create opportunity and our hearts to give freely of ourselves.  May we seek your wisdom as we go forth with faith and confidence, knowing we’re not alone. We ask this in your holy name.  Amen (Loretta Shea Kline).

O God, who feels our pain, open our hearts to those in need.  May our own pain and hurt help us feel that of others and lead us to walk with them through suffering to hope.  We are grateful for the life you pour out upon us and that we, in turn, pour out on others in Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen (Paco Wertin).

O God, you who choose us for one another, open a space in our hearts to receive what you give so generously, the ability to love as you love us! Thank you for showing us the way through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen (Wertin).

Thank you for the beauty, O God, that lies deep within each of us.  Help us to love everyone and everything that you love.  Help us to know that recognizing the dignity of each opens a door to new possibilities of forging that path out of poverty, a path that emerges from and leads to the depths of our hearts, where you live and reign forever and ever.  Amen (Wertin).

October 24, 2017

Pause for a moment and look around you.  Simply thank God for all the gifts that you have right now, all the gifts saved from the wreck of life: the lamp that illumines this page, the chair that gives you comfort, the home that provides shelter.  That’s a good exercise of stewardship.

Thank God for the sun and stars in the sky, for the support of friends, for the opportunities of a new day, for the ability to laugh and cry.  A disciple receives everything with gratitude.  It is prayer that helps keep the heart grateful and filled with joy (Robert F. Morneau in Living Prayer: A Simple Guide to Everyday Enlightenment).

October 28, 2017

An admirer of Mother Teresa once gifted her with her own personal “calling card.”  Teresa liked the card so much that she had copies made and regularly handed them out to people for the rest of her life.

Written on the small yellow cards were spiritual lessons Teresa had learned from the Church, her prayer life, and her ministry to the poor.  She summed them up in five steps.

The fruit of silence is PRAYER.
The fruit of prayer is FAITH.
The fruit of faith is LOVE.
The fruit of love is SERVICE.
The fruit of service is PEACE.

Mother Teresa carried that prayer around with her— its words emblazoned on her heart (Kerry Walters in St. Teresa of Calcutta: Missionary, Mother, Mystic).

November 1, 2017

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal” (Steve Maraboli).

November 8, 2017

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

November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving focuses on God’s gifts.  Our challenge is to take nothing for granted, but to appreciate every blessing.  Thanksgiving is a way of life.  Indeed, the prayer of thanksgiving characterizes a eucharistic people.

Our gratitude centers on the greatest gift of all— Jesus.  This gift, and all the other gifts through God’s providence, are expressions of God’s love.  How fitting and just it is that we always and everywhere express our gratitude to the Lord (Robert F. Mourneau in Living Prayer: A Simple Guide to Everyday Enlightenment).

November 25, 2017

God calls every one of us into a relationship of intimate, personal, loving, and life-giving communion.  He is inviting us to share his life and the life of his whole family.  Our response to God’s invitation to intimacy and communion is to be the person he created and calls us to be— to make a gift of ourselves— because, when we give ourselves away in love, we truly find ourselves (Sonja Corbitt and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers in Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before).

November 27, 2017

Every family is a work in progress, but each one can move toward wholeness.  Circumstances differ, but every family needs peace, love, and trust.  Christian hope springs from belief in God’s presence during life’s high and low points.

In the struggle for wholeness, families become holy and generate holiness in others.  Holy families, not perfect families, are sources of hope to those facing dark and painful times (Robert J. Hater in Your [Imperfect] Holy Family: See the Good, Make it Better).

November 28, 2017

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day” (Sally Koch).

December 1, 2017

We may read volumes and volumes on the art of swimming, yet we’ll never understand what swimming is like unless we get wet. So we may read all the books ever written on the love of God and never understand loving unless we love.

Where love is genuine, belonging is always mutual. It is like submerging ourselves into an ocean of sublime grace (Brother David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

October 15, 2018

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

December 17, 2018

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.  Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof (Richard David Bach).

August 7, 2019

Everyone, young or old, strong or weak, can love.  But, in this world, love is bound up with giving; it entails sacrifice.  The highest kind of love means self-offering (Fr. Killian J. Healy, O. Carm in Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God).

Links of interest…  Catholic group continues Blessed Stanley Rother’s work in Guatemala (influence remains strong)…  CFCA is now Unbound…  Changing the world one grandchild at a time…  Fr. Stanley Rother: American martyr in Guatemala / beatification (video; 9.23.17) / blesseddevotional / fact sheetguild / holy relics: preparing the remains / martyrmissionary / my cousin the martyr / prayer for intercessionpriest / Servant of God / Shepherd who didn’t run (book) / sister remembersstories by those who knew him / Unbound…  Glorify God in body & spirit…  Godparents: Faithful examples to their spiritual children…  Missionary work begins with everyone…  Mother Teresa & the power of silence…  Mully: A documentary with heart & soul…  On belonging: How adoption is like a sacrament…  Providing hope to children, aging for 35 years…  Spiritual adoption: What it is, why we do it, & the joy it brings…  St. Pius X: facebook / Santo Niño devotion / patron saint: about (more) – catechism – novena – profile –  schedule of services / website…  St. Pope JPII prayer card…  Unbound (Bob Hentzen dies – impactprayer requests – sponsor – writing letters)…  What children teach us about our relationship with God…  World vision flips the script on child sponsorship

WP posts…  Call of service…  Celebrations…  Dear God…  Gifts…  God’s loving mercy…  Mercy and justice…  Multicultural Mass…  Niño de Cebú…  Time well spent

Our Lady’s Assumption

Years ago, when we were parishioners at St. Joseph’s, I noticed an invitation from Our Lady of the Assumption in our church bulletin.  How I wanted to attend!  But I barely knew my way around town, so I chose not even to attempt the drive to Ingleside.

Our Lady’s Assumption

Then, almost ten years later, we received the Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event invitation to spend the day in Ingleside.

“We can stop by church before the meeting!” I told Steven excitedly before realizing that Tuesday, August 15, 2017, was Our Lady’s feast day, a holy day of obligation, and the perfect opportunity to visit the church I’d longed to see.

So, we arrived early enough to explore the extraordinary sacred space that is Our Lady of the Assumption and immersed ourselves mind, heart, and soul in the quiet semi-darkness that envelopes exquisite treasures and stunning stained-glass windows, like the focal point on the altar that dates back to fourteenth-century Spain.

This church was dedicated to the worship of God and the honor of Our Lady of the Assumption, May 26, 1975, by Most Rev. Thomas J. Drury, DD, LLD.  Built by voluntary labor (Plaque by the entrance).

And, days later, we returned for Sunday morning Mass!

            

            

            

            

                  

                        

                        

                  

            

         

Prayer

Bless me, O daughter of the eternal Father, and obtain for me the grace never to offend my God by my thoughts.  Bless me, O mother of the eternal Son, and pray that I may never offend my God by my words.  Bless me, O spouse of the eternal Spirit [that] by your intercession… I may never offend my God by my actions or omissions.  Bless me, O sanctuary of the most holy Trinity.  Pray for me that I may love and serve my God with my whole heart and soul and that I may enjoy him forever….  O Mary, receive me as your child for the sake of Jesus who [entrusted] me [into your] care in his agony on the cross.  Amen.

Sweet heart of Mary, be my salvation. 

Quotes

“Divine love so penetrated and filled the soul of Mary that no part of her was left untouched so that she loved with her whole heart, with her whole soul, with her whole strength and was full of grace” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

“The mystery [of Mary’s assumption] reminds us that our definitive homeland is not here on earth and that our longing for fulfillment finds complete satisfaction only in eternal happiness” (Pope Benedict XVI).

November 21, 2017

Mother Mary knows each voice singularly.  She hears the call, perceives the need, and rushes to her child’s side.  This sweet Mother of mercy and grace will be there for her children in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts, and fears.

Mary knows your voice.  She will hear your call, she will perceive your need, and then she will rush to your side.  Call her now.  She is waiting to hear your voice above all the others (Marge Steinhage Fenelon in  Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace).

August 15, 2019

We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor him all the more perfectly.  We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek— Jesus, her son (St. Louis Marie de Montfort).

Links of interest…  Assumption: feast / history & why it’s a holy day of obligation (more) / making assumptions / sermonssolemnity / three ways to honor Mary…  Five ways to seek grace…  Ingleside parish celebrates with Father Doherty…  Our Lady of the Assumption: aboutfacebook / website…  Parish is the body of Christ…  Prayer…  Texas Travel Time / Tropical Trail Region (about – facebook – map) / Tropical Traveler (blog & signup)…

WP posts…  Faces of Mary…  Fatima prayers…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s Immaculate Heart…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  Our Lady…  St. Mary revisited

St. Benedict’s

Steven and I ended up at St. Benedict’s by chance the morning of June 11, 2017.  That is, we’d hoped to attend ten o’clock Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Harlingen and had even shown up early.  But, on entering, we’d found the church empty.

Oh! I thought.  We have the church all to ourselves!  How often does this happen?  I can take all the photos I want and not bother anyone!

We had no reason to think— no way of knowing, really— that Sunday’s English Masses at ten and twelve had been consolidated until the sacristan informed us about eleven-thirty Mass.

Patsy’s worst fear came true! I thought, vividly recalling our first conversation, February twenty-sixth, when we’d met after ten o’clock Mass.  She was concerned that dwindling numbers at the Masses would mean trouble for her church, and now this?  I need to contact her to learn more!

Change of plans

Since we had a commitment three hours away, we couldn’t wait around; so I suggested Mass in San Benito.

Decades ago (in another lifetime) I’d attended an all-day catechist’s conference at
St. Benedict’s, so Steven googled Mass times on his cell phone.

“If we leave right now, we can make it to eleven o’clock Mass,” Steven said, hoping to hurry me up.

“Just three more photos,” I declared, refusing to be rushed.  And then we were off on another of our impromptu adventures.

St. Benedict’s

We arrived with time to spare and, as I took photos here and there outdoors, Steven was warmly greeted by a very nice man— an usher or the sacristan, perhaps?

“Thank you for visiting St. Benedict’s this morning!” he smiled as he made his way into church even before nine-thirty Mass ended.

Then a welcoming woman approached.

Josie told us about “the many roles” she fulfills within the parish besides serving on the finance council, and she shared the church community’s present goals to make renovations and replace the broken stained-glass windows.  But what impressed me most was the unspoken manner through which she glowingly promoted St. Benedict’s.

                

            

            

                

          

      

      

                  

         

            

            

      

September 9, 2017

From the moment I first entered St. Benedict’s, cake came to mind— not just any kind of cake, but the yummy-white sheet cake with the delicious plain-white frosting.  The gold standard as per my taste buds!  The church is so impeccably maintained that its goodness made me long for more, so we returned for five o’clock Mass.

We’d barely crossed the street from the parking lot when a tall priest smiled a curious but enthusiastic “hello” as he briskly made his way from church to the rectory.

Very nice! I thought.  He knows we’re not part of his flock, but he welcomed us warmly nonetheless.  How inclusive!

Then, on passing through the tiny foyer into the nave, we were greeted by a sweet, cherubic woman handing out missals for Mass.

“I don’t need one— I’ve got the Word among us— but he does,” I smiled, motioning to Steven behind me.

We took our usual place— center aisle seat, fifth pew on the left— and knelt to pray before I got up to photograph the altar and the windows, since the one in the back was no longer boarded up.

Once I was back near the entrance, the joyful greeter took a free moment to comment on the newly restored stained-glass windows and added that “the statues are next, in case you don’t see them the next time you visit.”

By the time we left St. Benedict’s that evening, Steven and I had met seven lovely parishioners, starting with Janie Corona.  The two ladies in the pew behind us, lively and inquisitive, engaged Steven about the metal crosses on his belt while I retook photos of the stained-glass windows.  A couple, Simon and Delia who’d occupied one of the front pews, delighted us with neighborly conversation before departing for home.  Then Fr. Tinajero, chatting with his flock, took a few minutes to meet us before Henry, proud son of Deacon Juan Manuel Sanchez, introduced his dad and spoke with us like friends visiting his house on a Sunday afternoon.

As we turned to leave, I saw Janie standing with a friend.  Only this time she held some colorful posters.

“Take one,” she insisted.  “It’s for our fall festival, October seventh and eighth.”

“I’ll tell you what.  Let me photograph it for my ‘St. Benedict’s’ post so that others can read it and hopefully attend.”

Janie and her friend smiled and thanked us.  But, really?  Even as we walked away and then drove past, we were the grateful ones for having been so graciously accepted into their church community that evening.

                

            

            

            

        

            

         

                

November 4, 2017

What a delightful greeting as we walked into church!

To be engaged in brief yet meaningful exchanges on entering was refreshing, but to be hugged by the deacon’s wife— “the mother of St. Benedict’s,” I later told Steven— was sweet, sincere, and exactly what St. Benedict’s is all about: Family, acceptance, unity.

Tencha Sanchez and her partner set the tone for Mass as they greeted parishioners by name and handed out missals.  Then, on seeing a high-school aged young woman, Tencha gently probed, “I haven’t seen you at Mass lately.”

Just as quickly, the girl smiled, undaunted.  “That’s because I’ve been attending Sunday morning Mass with my mom.”

“Okay,” Tencha twinkled on hearing that the young woman takes Mass seriously.

Next I noticed a small woman beaming brightly from the last pew not three feet away.

Janie Corona! 

We hugged hello before I asked about the church carnival.

“We doubled what we earned the year before!” Janie eagerly shared.

I was so happy that I hugged her again.  I knew that they had all come together to achieve that lofty goal.

Then, later as we departed?  A heartfelt despedida, of course!  An open invitation for Mass again soon and a loving hug that only “the mother of St. Benedict’s” could bestow.

                

         

December 10, 2017

                

                

            

September 23, 2018

Since rain was anticipated and driving to Port Isabel would be a much longer trek, we decided on eleven o’clock Mass at St. Benedict’s instead.  Much to our disappointment, however, all the parking spaces were filled when we arrived.

“Looks like we’re late,” Steven said.

Sure enough, when he got down to check, our suspicions were confirmed.  Masses are now at eight, ten, and twelve— not at eleven.  (Alas, I’d checked an old bulletin and DiscoverMass for the Sunday schedule, but not the church website.)

“What now?” Steven asked.

The gray clouds had cleared, and the sun was out.  The long drive was way more appealing than the hour-and-fifteen-minute wait, so off we went.

                

Prayer to St. Benedict

Admirable saint and doctor of humility, you practiced what you taught, assiduously praying for God’s glory and lovingly fulfilling all work for God and the benefit of all human beings.  You know the many physical dangers that surround us today often caused or occasioned by human inventions.  Guard us against poisoning of the body as well as of mind and soul and thus be truly a blessed one for us.  Amen.

        

Quotes

The eleventh degree of humility in the Rule of Benedict treats a situation like this quite specifically.  “Do only those things sanctioned by the community,” the sixth-century document reads.  Take counsel.  Listen.  Seek direction.  While moving ahead stay close to the kind of counsel that has strengthened the community in the past.  Stay close to the spiritual well whose life-giving water has brought you to this point.  The value of this saying is immeasurable.  It is much more than an exciting new answer, the effects of which no one knows.  It is a reaffirmation of spirituality based in experience, grounded in the wisdom of the elders, and rooted in self-control (Joan Chittister in In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics).

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and a life to proclaim you through the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ, our lord (St. Benedict).

Links of interest…  Angels & Saints at Ephesus…  Applying St. Benedict’s rule to families…  Benedict option for today / not for me…  Benedictine benedictions…  Church in San Benito, TX: facebook / Mass times (more) / website…  Escrivá Option: An alternative to the Benedict Option…  Fifty years later – the influence of Benedictine monks & nuns…  Humility rules: St. Benedict’s twelve step guide to genuine self-esteem…  Key to avoiding distraction…  Liberating power of the St. Benedict medal (spiritual weapons)…  Making the case for fraternal correction…  Sisters of St. Benedict: dome blog / facebook / gift shop & bakery / website…  St. Benedict (index) / about (more) / college / July 11medal (bracelet – jubilee – more – seven things to know) / monastic innovatormemorial / prayers: litany – novena – prayers (more) / video (based on book – writings of Rafael) / rule / ten helpful quotes / tips on preparing mealswho is (more)…  Tough conversations: Hard choices, staying on the path…  What does a wise old abbot know about a good love story

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Church doctors…  Kindred acorns…  Mary’s Immaculate Heart…  Our Lady’s snow…  Pink divinity…  Remembrances…  San Giuseppe…  Sensory overload…  Unexpected detours