God’s lovely gifts


Steven and I arrived a whole hour before Saturday evening Mass and, thanks to the recent time (light) change, Our Lady of Guadalupe looked picture perfect in its palm greenery.  So, how could I ignore God’s impromptu invitation to bask in the windows and the stations that I’d last photographed in 2012?  And I discovered something new!

God’s lovely gifts

Among the exquisite stained-glass windows are sixteen— not fourteen or fifteen, but sixteen— stations of the cross!  Amazing.

I can understand the fifteenth station— the glorious resurrection— but to depict Jesus in the garden before his way of the cross?  Extraordinary.

As for the Last Supper?  When one glimpses the back altar from either side of the front altar, one can see the lit portion below the mantle.  Stunning.

What lovely gifts God has in store when we make time for him!

OLG31916-11        OLG31916-16        OLG31916-17

OLG51912-133    OLG51912-132     OLG3715-34b     OLG51912-129    OLG51912-125

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

At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.

0OLG4816-71OLG4816-2 Through her heart his sorrow sharing,
all his bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword had passed.

Oh how sad and sore distressed
was that mother highly blessed
of the sole-begotten one!

Christ above in torment hangs;
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying, glorious son.

3OLG31916-442OLG31916-45Is there one who would not weep,
o’rwhelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain
in that mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of his own nation
saw him hang in desolation,
all with bloody scourges rent.

5OLG51912-394OLG51912-50Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender child
till his spirit forth he sent.

O, sweet mother, fount of love,
touch my spirit from above;
make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ, my Lord.

7OLG31916-406OLG31916-41Holy mother, pierce me through;
in my heart each wound renew
of my savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
mourning him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live.

9OLG31916-298OLG51912-140By the cross with you to stay,
there with you to weep and pray,
this I ask of you to give.

Virgin, of all virgins blest,
O refuse not my request:
let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying son of yours.

10OLG31916-28Wounded11OLG31916-27 with his every wound
steep my soul till it has swooned
in his very blood away.

Be to me, O virgin, nigh
lest in flames I burn and die
in that awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shalt call me hence,
be your mother my defense,
be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
may my soul your goodness praise,
safe in paradise with you.

12OLG31916-26      13OLG31916-25      14OLG31916-24      15OLG31916-23

Contact information

Stabat Mater, a thirteenth century hymn that tells the story of Our Lady of Sorrows during the passion of Christ, was translated by Fr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878) from Liturgia Horarum.  (See links below.)   An abridged version accompanies the stations in Behold! The Way of the Cross (Gouin, Creative Communications for the Parish, 2001).

March 21, 2017

God of life, we are grateful for the many gifts that you have given to us.  May we become prudent stewards of your many gifts and not thoughtlessly waste water, food, and other resources.  May we respond to your Son’s cry of thirst with lives of peacemaking and just action.  We make his prayer in your name.  Amen (Daniel P. Horan, OFM in The Last Words of Jesus).

April 8, 2017

Dear God, we ask that you hear our Lenten prayer of praise, surrender, and petition.  We praise you for the many gifts that you have given us.  We surrender our control, seeking to follow Jesus’s model of humility while striving to love as he loved us.  We recognize that suffering comes with love, that great love and great suffering can transform us, but that neither experience is necessarily easy.  We offer our petition to you, praying that we might have the strength of our convictions, the hope of our faith, and the joy of that hope when times are difficult.  May we always place our trust in you and commend our whole selves to your care. In doing so, may we always proclaim, in word and deed, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done!  Amen (Horan, OFM).

April 9, 2017

The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road.  The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:8-9).

June 5, 2017

“The will of God is not a fate which has to be endured, but a holy and meaningful act which ushers in a new creation” (Romano Guardini in The Art of Praying).

June 30, 2017

In the gospels, Jesus introduces us to God the Father and invites us into his heavenly realm right here on earth, the kingdom of God.  He opens our eyes to see that there are two kingdoms: the kingdom of this world, which we can touch, taste, see, hear, and smell (our physical world), and God’s kingdom, which is unseen but just as real— in fact, even more so.

By getting to know Jesus Christ and learning how to connect with him spiritually, we can become “kingdom-of-God dwellers.”  But because we have been given the gift of free will, each of us must decide, every minute of each day, in which kingdom we will choose to place our hope and trust (Melissa Overmyer in Born to Soar: Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life).

July 21, 2017

All Christians know that God became man for us.  Not all, however, realize that he did more than this.  Not only did he become one of us, he willed also to make each one of us a part of himself.  In addition to the mystery of the in­carnation, there is the mystery of incorporation.  We are incorporated into the person of Christ (Raoul Plus, SJ in How To Pray Well).

July 25, 2017

We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).





Links of interest…  Bearing our own cross: A fiat for Easter…  Best Lent ever…  Betrayal…  Final hours & death…  Garden of olives: agony (more) / prayer of Jesus / story…  God’s great love for us…  Holy Saturday: looking back & peering ahead & twelve things to know…  Incarnation & the Pietá…  Last supper & betrayal…  Mary & the intolerable gift of waiting…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (Brownsville, TX): about / facebook…  Palm Sunday: about / date / facts / history / prayer (biddingblessing of palmsmorereflections) / traditions…  Passion Sunday (nine things to know & share)…  Personalizing the passion of Jesus Christ…  Stabat Mater: aboutAll the women of the Bible iBreviary / Preces Latinae / video / Virtus Online…  Sermons of St. Francis de Sales: On our Lady (preview)…  Sorrowful mysteries of the holy rosary…  St. Vianney sermons: Beware if you have no temptations & Temptations…  Stabat Mater: liturgical sequence / seven sorrows…  Stations of the cross…  Trusting in God completely & in uncertain times…  Via Crucis: Walking the passion: one & two…  Way of Holy Week…  Where’s your Gethsemane…  Who is the kingdom of God

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  Disquieting moments…  Father’s roses…  Full circle…  Growing pains…  Guadalupe Church…  In the pink…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Living one’s gifts…  Mercy and justice…  Our Lady’s church…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Recollections…  Sacred Heart Church…  Saturday evening Mass…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Anselm Church…  St. Mary’s…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Venerating St. Anthony

Christmas scenes


Our Lady of Guadalupe Church – Brownsville, TX

 OLG122615-13   OLG122615-12   OLG122615-10   OLG122615-7



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




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

SPC1116-15        SPC1116-16        SPC1116-23



Immaculate Conception Cathedral – Brownsville, TX



Sacred Heart Church – Brownsville, TX


 SHC122414s-29     HCC121414-1     HCC121414-33     HCC121414-30

Holy Cross Church – Corpus Christi, TX


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

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

San Juan Diego


Steven and I returned to Our Lady of Guadalupe a third time and felt very much at home.  As if we’d never left.

Eddie and Henry were all smiles.  Sister Armida, readying for summer Bible camp, was her sweet self.  And Father Acosta, as animated as ever, encouraged us to unite as a church community, while others clearly demonstrated that mantra through their inclusiveness of us.

Lively spirit

After Mass, we lingered for a while.

The church always comes alive after five o’clock Mass!  Families waiting patiently to baptize their children advance toward the altar, while couples awaiting the wedding afterwards stand out on the front steps until it’s their turn.  Others just observe, converse quietly, or stand around.  In awe, I guess.  Father Acosta is so energized that he’s a sight to behold!


San Juan Diego

One change was apparent, however.  The Easter cross by the ambo had been replaced by a statue of San Juan Diego, which quickly reminded me of our visit to the Tepeyac shrine near the Oblate Madonna Residence in San Antonio.




San Juan Diego, you now enjoy the beatific vision of God and the company of our beautiful Mother Mary.  On this, your feast day, we ask that you and Our Lady of Guadalupe pray for us that we may never fear to boldly proclaim the truth in the hope that, if each of us does our part no matter how small, millions will come to know God.  Amen.

scm111712-16For employment…  Dear Juan Diego, when the Lady of Tepeyac Hill gave you her picture, she also gave you a task to fill your days with happy labor.  It was your privilege and joy to spend the hours caring for the chapel of the tilma, telling its story to those who came there.  Here, the time of your earthly pilgrimage passed quickly and happily because you worked for Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Dear Juan Diego, please help me find steady employment that my time and talent may be devoted to the tasks suited to my nature and ability.

May my hours of toil give fair return and more to him who hires me.  May my work not be done for mere profit or just to make a living.  Rather, may it be done to make of myself one more able to honor the Creator.  May it be done with reverence and appreciation of the materials, all supplied by God, and only modified by man.  May my work be done to enjoy the benefits of skilled and honest craftsmanship.  And, especially, let my work be done to make known and lead others to love the same Lady you serve so well.  Through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

sjt102916-87For sanctification of one’s work…  Lord God, by the labor of men and women, you govern and guide to perfection the work of creation.  Hear our prayers and give all people work that enhances their human dignity and draws them closer to each other in the service of their brothers and sisters.  Amen.

Petition…  Dear St. Juan Diego, at Tepeyac Our Lady told you, “I am your mother.  Are you not under my protection?  Why do you fear, if you are in my mantle and in my arms?”

In your humility, you were altogether necessary in God’s plan.  Confidently, you faced a skeptical Bishop Zumarraga, presenting him with roses which miraculously grew on the hillside.  Wondrously, the image of the Virgin appeared on your tilma!

Because of your faithfulness the gospel of Our Lord spread through Mary’s image, and many people came to believe in him.  Your devotion lives on in the people of Mexico, the Americas, and the whole world.

St. Juan Diego, please pray for me….  May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the true God, bring all peoples to Jesus, her son.  Through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

To Juan Diego…  You who were chosen by Our Lady of Guadalupe as an instrument to show your people and the world that the way of Christianity is one of love, compassion, understanding, values, sacrifices, repentance of our sins, appreciation and respect for God’s creation, and most of all one of humility and obedience.

You, whom we know are now in the kingdom of the Lord and close to our Mother, be our angel and protect us.  Stay with us as we struggle in this modern life often not knowing where to set our priorities.

Help us to pray to our God to obtain the gifts of the Holy Spirit and use them for the good of humanity and the good of our Church, through the heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the heart of Jesus.  Amen.

StAP21212-105To Our Lady…  Dear Mother, we love you!  We thank you for your promise to help us in our need.  We trust in your love that dries our tears and comforts us.

Teach us to find our peace in your son, Jesus, and bless us every day of our lives.  Help us to build a shrine in our hearts.  Make it as beautiful as the one built for you on the Mount of Tepeyac: a shrine full of trust, hope, and love of Jesus growing stronger each day.

Mary, you have chosen to remain with us by giving us your most wonderful and holy self-image on Juan Diego’s cloak.  May we feel your loving presence as we look upon your face.

Like Juan, give us the courage to bring your message of hope to everyone.  You are our Mother and our inspiration.  Hear our prayers and answer us.  Amen.

solg-sjd-aef        solg-sjd-bcd

December 9, 2014

Beloved Juan Diego, “the talking eagle,” show us the way that leads to “the dark virgin” of Tepeyac, that she may receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate mother who guides us to the true God.  Amen (Pope St. John Paul II).

December 9, 2015

Am I not here who am your Mother?  Are you not under my shadow and protections?  Am I not the fountain of your joy?  Are you not in the fold of my mantle, in the cradle of my arms? (Our Lady to San Juan Diego).

“Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new humanity in which all are called to be children of God” (St. John Paul II).

December 9, 2016

Do not be frightened or grieve or let your heart be dismayed.  Am I not here, I who am your Mother?  And is not my help a refuge? (Our Lady to San Juan Diego).


Our Lady of the Assumption – Ingleside, TX

Pdf file…  Father Acosta’s homily / prayer

Links of interest…  Five saints of color…  Guadalupe Tepeyac: basilica / brochure / movie (YouTube) / play (video) / story…  Missionaries of Jesus (Sr. Armida Rangel, MJ)…  Our Lady of Guadalupe: abbey / about / & Advent / arch of triumph / church (Brownsville, TX) / December 12th / mother of the Americas / patroness of the Americas / prayers / shrine / story / videos…  San Juan Diego: about& our lady / apparition / biography (JPII homily) / cloak / feast day  (Dec 9) / guild for children / hermanos (blog) / his miracle / model of humility / movie (YouTube) / new world apostle / ordinary son of Maryprayer card / relic / saint / talking eagle / tilma / video / witness…  the Word among us…  With St. Juan Diego to the merciful Mother

WP posts…  Christmas year ’round…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Faith and prayer…  Faces of Mary…  Father’s guided tour…  God’s lovely gifts…  Guadalupe Church…  Marian devotions…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s church

Guadalupe Church


What a wonderful feeling to return to Guadalupe Church for Saturday evening Mass not once, but twice on the same day!  How truly heartwarming to be among those we met the previous week— Eddie Nieto, the sacristan, and Henry Reyna, the greeter— and to discover smiling faces in Olga Tapia and Jessica at the later charismatic Mass!  And, oh, the beautiful bulletin cover (yet again) with its bilingual message related to Sunday’s readings!

OLG52712-2                OLG52712-3

OLG7812-1        OLG52612-15        OLG52612-28






Dedication of a child…  Dear Mary, your message of love and care on Tepeyac Hill floated like a lilting lullaby into the fresh, golden dawn.  Softly you called to Juan Diego, “least of your sons,” a man of middle years, but guileless and childlike in spirit.

Through him you invited all your children to come to you, the ever-virgin Mother of God, to look to you as a mother who wanted only to show a mother’s love.  You would give them whatever they needed, help and protection, strength and comfort.  As a lasting proof you left us your own marvelous picture, unpainted by any human hand.

OLG3715-18cToday we bring to you our child [name] as yet unborn.  May this little one always know and love you as holy Mary, Mother of the true God in whom we live and have our being.  May this new soul, freshly breathed forth from the creator, be like the soul of Juan Diego….

Dear Lady of Guadalupe, touch this petal of our hearts with the wintry roses of Tepeyac so that a fragrant joy and peace may spread along the child’s path in life.  Let your love remind men of you and sweetly draw them to your waiting heart.

Take this child as your own, lovely Lady.  Enfold the child in the mantle of your care until the day when… all your children join with you, their merciful mother, endlessly praising and thanking God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

February 27, 2015

“Fathers and mothers owe four things to their children: maintenance, instruction, correction, and good example” (St. John Baptist de la Salle).

May 11, 2015

“When a child is given to his parents, a crown is made for that child in heaven, and woe to the parents who raise a child without consciousness of that eternal crown! (Venerable Fulton Sheen, 1999).


Pdf file…  Father Acosta’s homily / prayer

Links of interest…  Is “Guadalupe” a Mexican name…  Our Lady of Guadalupe: abbey / about / & Advent / arch of triumph / Brownsville, TX (about – facebook) / December 12th / mother of the Americas / patroness of the Americas / prayers / shrine / story / videos…  St. Juan Diego Guild for children…  Ten “M’s” on the highway to heaven…  Venerable Fulton Sheen: aboutcause for sainthood / Life is worth living (about) / prayer / quotes…  Why church pews were invented…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Familiar yet new…  Franciscan treasures…  God’s lovely gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s church…  A real church…  Repeated prayers…  San Juan Diego

Christ’s sacred heart


This past Saturday Steven and I attended evening Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe.

What timeliness, considering that a leaflet with prayers to the sacred heart of Jesus arrived the very same day I took photos of the beautiful statue at church.


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

Good Jesus, hear me.  In your wounds, shelter me.  From turning away, keep me.  From the evil one, protect me.

At the hour of my death, call me.  Into your presence, lead me to praise you with all saints forever and ever.  Amen.

Consecration…  Most holy Lord, we humbly come before you.  You have redeemed us by your death and resurrection, [and] we are yours.  You won us from darkness and… have given the light of your love.  We wish to be yours yet more, Lord, if you will accept us.

We kneel before you and freely consecrate our hearts to your sacred heart.  We mean to stand with you all of our days and all of our lives.  We beg you to send us to call others to know your sacred heart.

Protect your church throughout the world and bring to every people the peace of your kingdom so that all humankind may come to sing your praise, who live and reign forever and ever.  Amen.

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

For the dying…  Most merciful Jesus, lover of souls, I pray you, by the agony of your most sacred heart and by the sorrows of your immaculate mother, to wash in your most precious blood the sinners of the world who are now in their agony and who will die today.  Heart of Jesus, once in agony, have mercy on the dying.  Amen.

Heart of hearts…  May your heart dwell always in our hearts!  May your blood ever flow in the veins of our souls!  O sun of our hearts, you give life to all things by the rays of your goodness!  I will not go until your heart has strengthened me, O Lord Jesus!  May the heart of Jesus be the king of my heart!  Blessed be God.  Amen (St. Francis de Sales).


Novena…  Lord, Jesus Christ, to your most sacred heart I confide this intention.  (Mention your request.)

Only look upon me, then do what your heart inspires.  Let your sacred heart decide.  I count on you.  I trust in you.

I throw myself on your mercy, Lord Jesus!  You will not fail me.

Sacred heart of Jesus, I trust in you.  Sacred heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me.  Sacred heart of Jesus. your kingdom come.

Sacred heart of Jesus, I have asked for many favors; but I earnestly implore this one.  (State your request.)

Take it, place it in your sacred heart.  When the eternal Father sees it covered with your precious blood, he will not refuse it.  It will no longer be my prayer but yours, O Jesus. O sacred heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.  Let me never be confounded.  Amen.

Offering…  My God, I offer you all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings in union with the sacred heart of Jesus, for the intentions for which he pleads and offers himself in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, in thanksgiving for your favors, in reparation for my sins, and in humble supplication for my temporal and eternal welfare, for the needs of our holy Mother the Church, for the conversion of sinners, and for the relief of the poor souls in purgatory.  Amen.

Petition…  O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine.  Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will.  Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you.  Protect me in the midst of danger.  Comfort me in my afflictions.  Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death.  Amen.

Request…  Sacred heart of Jesus, today I wish to live in you, in your grace in which I desire at all costs to persevere.  Keep me from sin and strengthen my will by helping me to keep watch over my senses, my imagination, and my heart.  Help me to correct my faults which are the source of sin.  I beg you to do this, O Jesus, through Mary, your immaculate mother.  Amen.

Special need…  Sacred heart of Jesus, I firmly believe that you are here and see me perfectly and that you observe all my actions, all my thoughts, and the most secret movements of my heart.  You permit me, a sinner, to remain in your presence.  It is your goodness and bounty which command me to come to you in this, my time of special need.  With confidence I pray that you will grant me this grace which I ask of you.  Amen.

FMA-R303-CKa        FMA-R303-CKb        FMA-R303-CKc        FMA-R303-CKd

FMA-R56b        FMA-R56c        FMA-R56d        FMA-R56a

FMA-R3815-CKa        FMA-R3815-CKb        FMA-R3815-CKc        FMA-R3815-CKd

Contact information

Christ’s Sacred Heart (R 3/03), Sacred Heart (R56), and Prayers to the Sacred Heart (R-38/15) are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

November 23, 2013

“Through Christ the eyes of our hearts are opened, and our weak and clouded understanding reaches up toward the light” (St. Clement I).

December 7, 2013

Christ is everything for us.  If you wish to cure a wound, he is doctor; if you burn with fever, he is fountain; if you are oppressed by iniquity, he is justice; if you are in need of help, he is strength; if you fear death, he is life; if you desire heaven, he is the way; if you flee from darkness, he is light; if you seek food, he is nourishment (St. Ambrose, c. 340-397).

April 27, 2014

To keep me from sin and straying from him, God has used devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  My life vows destined to be spent in the light irradiating from the tabernacle, and it is to the heart of Jesus that I dare go for the solution of all my problems (Pope St. John XXIII).

May 6, 2014

“A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one” (St. Philip Neri).

June 14, 2014

DL62114s-2“There is in the sacred heart the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return”
(Pope Leo XIII).

June 23, 2014

Thanks, Lovely Ning and Sam, for sharing the short aspirations to the Sacred Heart from your Dominican laity meeting on Saturday!

June 27, 2014

And [Christ] showed me that it was his great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin that made him form the design of manifesting his heart to men with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation, which it contains in order that those who desire to render him and procure him all the honor and love possible might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which his heart is the source (St. Mary Margaret Alacoque).

August 7, 2014

O Jesus, deign to take me into your sacred heart.  Grant that it may be the sanctuary where I may be recollected, sheltered, and find my rest
(Fr. Gabriel OCD in Divine Intimacy).

September 17, 2014

When we appeal to the throne of grace we do so through Mary, honoring God by honoring his Mother, imitating him by exalting her, touching the most responsive chord in the sacred heart of Christ with the sweet name of Mary (St. Robert Bellarmine).

October 20, 2014

Build an oratory within yourself and, there, have Jesus on the altar of your heart.  Speak to him often while you are doing your work.  Speak to him of his holy love, of his holy sufferings, and of the sorrows of most holy Mary
(St. Paul of the Cross).

November 7, 2014

“The measure of love is to love without measure” (St. Francis de Sales).

November 29, 2014

The greatness of our Lady was in her humility.  No wonder Jesus, who lived so close to her, seemed so anxious that we learn from him and from her but one lesson: To be meek and humble of heart (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta).

January 15, 2015

Draw near to our Lord thoroughly aware of you own nothingness, and you may hope all things from his goodness and mercy.  Never forget that Jesus Christ is no less generous in the Blessed Sacrament than he was during his mortal life on earth (Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier).

April 8, 2015

“Do everything through love and for love, making good use of the present moment, and do not be anxious about the future” (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque).

April 16, 2015

Having a personal relationship with Christ means that we are called to ongoing conversion.  It is a journey in which we continually grow in the Lord.  We grow in many ways: we deepen our faith; we get to know the saints and the family of believers; we become more compassionate toward the poor and the hungry; we become better fathers and mothers (Shaun McAfee, 2015).

May 4, 2015

“There is nothing so strong as gentleness, and there is nothing so gentle as real strength” (St. Francis de Sales).

June 12, 2015

Humble yourself whenever opportunity offers with true humility of heart.  This is all, I think, that the heart of our Lord asks of you (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque).

June 14, 2015

“The most efficacious way to have devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus is through the immaculate heart of Mary” (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque).

June 29, 2015

In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness, reverence; and keep your conscience clear so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame (1 Peter 3:15-16)

August 9, 2015

I turn to Mary and ask her to obtain for me the grace to imitate our Lord’s heart.  I saw how perfectly her heart copied his (St. Claude de la Colombiere).

August 13, 2015

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:37-39).

August 17, 2015

Although the heart of Jesus is distinct from that of Mary and infinitely surpasses it in excellence and holiness, nevertheless God has so closely united these two hearts that we may say with truth that they are but one heart (St. John Eudes).

August 19, 2015

Jesus is my all, and I desire to belong wholly to him.  It is extreme folly and delusion to look elsewhere for my true happiness (St. John Eudes).

August 20, 2015

“This twofold mercy abounds in the heart of the Lord Jesus— his long-suffering in waiting for the sinner and his readiness in granting pardon” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

October 5, 2015

Jesus.  Source of my life, sanctify me.  O my strength, fortify me.  My commander, fight for me (St. Faustina Kowalska).

November 16, 2015

St. Gertrude, a Benedictine nun, [was a mystic].  She was favored by visions… and has left… a book… called Revelations.  [She] introduced the devotion to the Sacred Heart which, four centuries later, St. Margaret Mary spread… (Catholic Culture).

November 25, 2015

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

“Begin with the beautiful, which leads you to the good, which leads you to the truth” (Bishop Robert Barron).

April 11, 2016

Oh, if all were to know how beautiful Jesus is, how loving he is!  They would all die of love.  And yet how is it that he is so little loved? (St. Gemma Galgani).

June 8, 2016

“I need nothing but God and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus” (St. Mary Margaret Alacoque).

June 25, 2016

“Love overcomes, love delights, [and] those who love the Sacred Heart rejoice”
(St. Bernadette Soubirous).

June 7, 2017

Since there is in the sacred heart a symbol and a sensible image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love one another, therefore it is fitting and proper that we should consecrate ourselves to his most sacred heart— an act which is nothing else than an offering and a binding of one’s self to Jesus Christ, seeing that whatever honor, veneration, and love is given to his divine heart is really and truly given to Christ himself (Pope Leo XIII).

June 23, 2017

Jesus does not wish his heart to be a mystery to us.  Rather his heart is an open door; he wears it on his sleeve for us, so to speak.  Jesus makes his heart completely available to us.  He is meek, he is humble, and he makes himself vulnerable, as he is consumed by love for us and concern for our eternal destiny.

In turn, we are invited to offer our devotion, to have our hearts “burn within us,” to offer consolation to Jesus and make reparation for all of our offenses and those of the whole world.  He wants us to unite ourselves completely with the flow of love and mercy that pours forth from his heart (Anne Costa in Healing Promises: The Essential Guide to the Sacred Heart).

O my Mother, offer me to Jesus.  O my Mother, take my heart and hide it in the heart of Jesus (St. Bernadette Soubirous).

July 6, 2017

Let us believe our Lord Jesus Christ, who calls this rest his peace, a divine peace, which the world can neither give nor take away— a peace that we can never obtain by our own efforts because it is the gift of God and is his reward for the absolute and irrevocable gift of ourselves that we have made to him (Fr. Jean Nicolas Grou in The Spiritual Life).

July 30, 2017

The incredible mystery of the incarnation is that God willed that a human heart should contain his divine love as a way to be near us and draw us into himself.  As we contemplate the beautiful devotion of his heart, we plunge into the depths of the unfathomable love that God has for each one of us.  The revelation of God’s heart may be seen in the entire life, ministry, and death of Jesus and in the role that the Blessed Mother plays.  From the very beginning, their two hearts have been entwined (Anne Costa in Healing Promises: The Essential Guide to the Sacred Heart).

August 2, 2017

Through prayer, we experience closeness with God and the true love of his heart.  This love sets us straight, conquers our fears, and completes us.  And in turn, as we come to know the greatness of God’s love, we begin to look for ways to help others know it too.  Our hope to know and receive God’s love in all of its fullness and promise of restoration comes through our prayerful dialogue with the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Anne Costa in Healing Promises: The Essential Guide to the Sacred Heart).

October 4, 2017

“I will work for your love alone, my sole aim being to give you pleasure, to console your sacred heart, and to save souls who will love you forever” (St. Therese in The Little Catechism of St. Therese).

Our Lady of the Assumption – Ingleside, TX

Links of interest…  Alive with love…  Broken heart…  Catholic devotions: A spiritual vocabulary…  Cheat sheet (Matthew 25:31-46)…  Surrendering to Christ…  Falling in love: Knowing the sacred heart of Jesus…  Fire of love, refuge from evil…  Five steps for giving your mind to Christ…  Forgotten blessed nun who influenced the pope…  Franciscan Mission Associates...  Heart of flame: Four reasons to love the sacred heart…  How to pray the litany of the sacred heart / to receive Christ with love…  Joy found in the Sacred Heart…  Knowing Jesus: How Catholics experience the Son of God…  Love repaid with love…  Prayer: The first essential practice of the Sacred Heart…  Prayers: consecration / devotion / meditation, novena, & offering / two hearts…  Sacred heart: about / & the Holy Eucharist / beads / blood & water / consecration (family) / devotions / devotionals / five saints / from Toy Town with lovehistory / love that crushes evilnovena (YouTube) / reasons to love / savior / significance / society (1st Friday reflections – blogs – mater reflections) / why is it burning…  Shaun McAfee: about / Filling our Father’s house (book)…  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque: about (more) / apostle & messenger / book / feast / life / memorial / patron saint (more) / Oct 16prayer / quotes (more) / receptionsecret / twelve promises (more)…  Staying ready

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Beautiful sacred space…  Beloved joyful priest…  God’s lovely gifts…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Home again…  Marian devotions…  Our Lady’s church…  A real church…  Right at home…  Sacred Heart…  Sacred Heart Church…  San Juan Diego …  Saturday evening Mass…  Sweet Jesus

Our Lady’s church


Last Saturday we visited one of my most favorite churches of all time.  And, oh, what a wonderful reunion after a six-year absence.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Known simply as Guadalupe, the church has been part of my life since birth and to this day appears pretty much as it always has despite changes to the altar since Vatican II, the installation of the outer windows to protect the original stained-glass treasures from breakage, the musicians occupying the front left alcove area instead of the choir loft, and remodeling and painting over the years.

Built in Brownsville, TX in 1927, the church has meticulously maintained its walnut-stained, straight-backed wooden pews; its impeccably polished floors; its stunning stained-glass windows inscribed long before most of us were born; and its hardy yet graceful style.



Sense of home

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s welcoming spirit can be attributed not only to the parishioners whose families have lived in the neighboring area for generations and to Father Acosta, who diligently instructs and nurtures his flock, but also to those of us whose cherished recollections keep this sacred space very much alive.

Guadalupe’s sense of home is so vibrant that, having experienced her, one’s heart longs to be with her regardless of time and distance apart.

To know her is to love her!

What a privilege to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Church every chance we have!














Husbands and wives…  Lord, inspire those men and women who bear the titles husband and wife.  Help them to look to you… and to one another to rediscover the fullness and mystery they once felt in their union.  Let them be honest enough to ask, “Where have we been together, and where are we going?”  Let them be brave enough to question, “How have we failed?”  Let each be foolhardy enough to say, “For me, we come first.”  Help them to reexamine their commitment [together] in the light of your love— willingly, openly, compassionately.

Hail Mary….

Hail, O Virgin of Guadalupe.  We place under your powerful patronage the purity and integrity of the holy faith in Mexico and in all the American continent for we are certain that, [as surely as] you are recognized as Queen and Mother, [matrimonies] will be saved.  Amen.

Opening to Our Lady’s memorial…  God of power and mercy, you blessed the Americas at Tepeyac with the presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe.

May her prayers help all men and women to accept each other as brothers and sisters.  Through your justice present in our hearts may your peace reign in the world.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Petition…  Our Lady of Guadalupe, who blessed Mexico and all the Americas by your appearance to Juan Diego, intercede for the holy Church, protect the pope, and help everyone who invokes you in their necessities.

OLG51912-193O mystical rose, hear our prayers and our petitions, especially the one we are praying for at this moment.  (Mention your request.)

Since you are the ever Virgin Mary and mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most holy son the grace of keeping our faith, sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance.  Amen.

November 29, 2014

Jesus, help me to believe in your promises so that I can taste heaven every day.  Lord, I can’t wait to be with you forever! (the Word among us, November 2014, p. 49).

December 31, 2014

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world” (C. S. Lewis).

March 13, 2014

“I find heaven in the midst of saucepans and brooms” (St. Stanislaus Kostka).

June 7, 2015

Our Lord does not come down from heaven every day to lie in a golden ciborium.  He comes to find another heaven which is infinitely dearer to him— the heaven of our souls created in his image, the living temples of the adorable Trinity (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

December 18, 2015

FrA121815a        FrA121815b

December 25, 2015

The night is bright.  God has prepared a feast that did not exist in heaven: he became man (Karl Rahner).


Pdf file…  Father Acosta’s homily / prayer

Links of interest…  How Jesus makes heaven present to us today…  Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: aboutbook / consecrating the hours / hymns, psalms, & readingsintroduction / prayers (more)…  Hints of heaven…  Missionaries of Jesus…  Our Lady of Guadalupe: abbey / about / & Advent / arch of triumph / churches: Austin (video) – Brownsville (about – facebook)/ December 12th / mother of the Americas / patroness of the Americas / prayers / shrine / story / unqualified, uncomplicated consolation / videos / warrior (Bishop Barron)…  St. Juan Diego Guild for children…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Familiar yet new…  Franciscan treasures…  God’s lovely gifts…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Lourdes novenas…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  A real church…  Repeated prayers…  San Juan Diego

Marian devotions

SJC122610-53Last week Steven surprised me with two prayer cards from the Lovely Ning that Sam had dropped off at the office so, of course, I emailed an exuberant thanks that evening.

Covenant day*

Ning emailed the following day to say that she and her friends had visited the Schoenstatt shrine in Rockport.

Just in case you’ve never been there, I do suggest that you and Steve go there.  It’s a miraculous place from what I’ve heard, and it’s true coz I got my miracle when I went there the first time with Sam.  They celebrate a covenant day every 18th of the month.


I’ve known about the Virgin of Schoenstatt ever since mom first told me about the Sisters and the shrine.  I have no idea when or how she and my stepfather first learned about the place, but they often stopped to visit and bought prayer booklets for family and friends back home in the Valley.

Then, sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s, mom lit the fire under the other altar society ladies at Christ the King Church when she offered to drive the group to the shrine.  The ladies enjoyed themselves so much that they made the trek a regular outing.  To hear mom tell the story, the ladies couldn’t stop talking about the beautiful little shrine.  It was such a big deal that a photo of the Virgin of Schoenstatt continues to be displayed in the church foyer despite changes in the building over time.

Mom was very devoted to the Virgin of Schoenstatt, but I just couldn’t relate.  Although I carried the prayer booklet with me and read the literature daily for a long time, the devotion wasn’t for me.  Still, mom insisted that she’d take me to “the little church” one day even if I didn’t want to go!

Two promises, two visits

In the fall 1995, I’d been laid up in bed for six to eight weeks so, of course, mom promised that, as soon as I got better, she and my stepfather would take me to see the Virgin of Schoenstatt.

But why did I have to go when I hadn’t promised anything?

Never mind that I endured serious bouts of carsickness.  Mom got her wish anyway— not that she needed an excuse to visit the shrine— and she was quite pleased with herself for having fulfilled the promise.

Then, in the spring 2004, when I was having major cows with the second semester of research ’cause I was working at school way, way, way too much to have time to focus clearly on the semester project, one of my cohort buddies who also felt challenged beyond the breaking point promised the same thing.

“If we make it through Dr. Weber’s course this semester, I’m taking you to the Schoenstatt shrine in Rockport,” Becky insisted.

“But why do I have to go with you?” I asked.  “I didn’t make the promise.”

Yet, there we were— Becky, her daughter, and me with my carsickness— on our way to Rockport; and Becky didn’t even know where the shrine was!

Oh, my gosh.  The torture of it all.  But we found the place, finally, and that was that.

Familiar yet out of sight

Aside from the framed picture of the Virgin of Schoenstatt at mom’s church, I hadn’t seen one displayed elsewhere.  Then one morning after Mass at our old St. Joseph Church, I happened to notice the picture (shown here) hung on the back wall in the musicians’ nook.

After our new church was dedicated I saw the picture propped up against a wall in the foyer, as if waiting to be hung, but it isn’t in the public eye anymore.

Maybe the devotion wasn’t popular to begin with?

Still, it’s not uncommon to showcase pictures and/or statues of saints that don’t have an active following within the parish.

SJC3109-45a        ICC81411-16        OLG31916-16

Marian devotions

In retrospect, I’ve sampled the Schoenstatt experience through mom, Becky, and now Ning; and I still have my prayer booklet even though I haven’t read it in many years.

I think that each person’s devotion to Our Lady is as uniquely different as each person’s relationship with her.  For this reason, it’s only natural to embrace the devotions to the Blessed Mother as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and/or however one’s come to know her best.

For instance, my first recollections of Our Lady stem from when I was just a child of four or five.

Sitting next to mom at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Brownsville, I noticed the very beautiful lady up high for the very first time and started singing about a little red rooster.  Mom pinched me hard on the arm— “Ssssh!!!”— so I sat there quietly gazing at the lady in green until mom finished praying.

Of course, I was also taken with Mary in blue at the Catholic school across the street from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.  She was the first person I saw every morning (as I entered the building to walk to my first-grade classroom and then as I opened the side door to church for daily Mass) so blue comes to mind when I string my Franciscan Crowns with Mary’s miraculous medals, even though green is my favorite color.

Looking back, my relationship with Our Lady was influenced not by words and deeds, but by place.  There’s something so very special about walking into Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and sensing a strong familial bond.  (Mom, dad, and I attended Mass there.)  Similarly, I feel very much at home at Immaculate Conception.  Yet the cathedral— my “heart of hearts,” my favorite sacred space— is a far greater spiritual connection to the Blessed Mother: I became part of that church community on my own through my Catholic school experience.

ICC81411-81b        BW82111-9        SJC22711-116

Evolving spirituality

Sorting through my stash of prayer cards and more in my Christmas box yesterday I realized something.

Over the years I’ve collected so many keepsakes that, unless I explore my treasure box from time to time, I forget what I have.  Yet my spirituality continues to evolve nonetheless as I work, read, pray, and go through the day dialoguing with God.

So, I think that devotional practices can be powerful tools that help us become proactively engaged, just as Ning’s thoughtful gift was a personal invitation to share the Schoenstatt experience with others.


Sub tuum praesidium…  We fly to your protection, O holy Mother of God.  Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.


Contact information…  Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary – 130 Front Street Rockport, TX 78382-7800: calendar of events / contact & directions / home page

*Covenant day celebration…  10 A.M. Adoration (shrine) / 10:30 A.M. Mass / 11:30 A.M. sack lunch / 1 P.M. Benediction (shrine)

General events…  Daily Masses at the Provincial House: Monday – Saturday, 6:45 A.M. & Sunday, 10 A.M

August 2, 2011

You can make a difference.  You can tell people about the love of God.  You can even help some of them to become fishers of men, spreading the net of Christianity even farther.  There are opportunities everywhere….  All you have to do is tell your story; the Holy Spirit will give you the right words (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 49).

July 3, 2013

Lord Jesus, I treasure the faith you have placed in my heart.  Though I don’t see you, still, I believe.  Help me to tell everyone around me that you are alive.  Use my words and my witness to speak to their hearts, just as you have spoken to mine (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 22).

July 30, 2013

Thank you, Lord, for loving me!  Help me to extend your love to everyone I meet.  Today, please send me to at least one person who needs you in their life (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 49).

September 13, 2013

Lord, I am amazed that you have called me to share your good news.  By your spirit, fill me with confidence and courage to be your ambassador (the Word among us, September 2013, p. 32).

November 30, 2015

“But the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe” (Deuteronomy 30:14).

April 4, 2017

Speaking about God and bringing the message of God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ to men is the duty of all the baptized.  And this duty involves not only speaking with words, but in all one’s actions and way of doing things.  Our whole being should speak of God, even in the ordinary things.  In this way witness is authentic, and thus shall it always be new and fresh in the power of the Holy Spirit (Pope Francis in The Spirit of Saint Francis).


Schoenstatt Chapel – Lamar, TX

OLPH31316-92        OLPH31316-79        OLPH31316-93

Adoration Chapel – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church – Corpus Christi, TX


Links of interest…  Apostolic movement…  Blessed Virgin Mary, untier of knots…  Catholic devotions: A spiritual vocabulary…  Christ the King Church: facebook / Mass times…  Father Joseph Kentenich…  Fifteen steps to better evangelization…  Five signs of a true devotion to Mary…  Fr. Joseph Kentenich: founder of the Schoenstatt Movement & friend of the rosary…  Good habits…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral: diocesan website / parishes online…  Marian devotions (fivehope) / finding true selfmoms share…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church…  Pope Francis: Evangelization is about knowing the human heart…  Schoenstatt shrine: founder / jubilee / movement / news / novena (Spanish) / photos / prayers / rosary campaignshrine (Rockport) …  Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary…  Sub tuum praesidium: ancient prayer to Mary in times of persecution / oldest known Marian prayer is from Egypt…  Understanding what it means to be devout…  Why Mary always wears blue…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Familiar yet new…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lourdes novenas…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s Church…  Repeated prayers…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful