Afternoon delights

Steven and I attended Christmas Eve Mass at the Capuchin St. Joseph chapel in Alamo, TX; and, much to the delight of Sister Luz and Sister Marta, I promised to send them copies of the photographs I took that evening.  But time got away from me!

January 25, 2017

               

        

April 18, 2017

With so much going on in our daily lives, being that we’d undertaken a three-month training program that had us both exhilarated and exhausted, I could only work mentally on “the project for the Sisters”— that is, until I began in earnest here and there the second week of April when we graduated from the Texas Master Naturalist program.

Then, since the monthly Texas Tropical Trail monthly partner event was happening at the San Manuel Ranch on April 18, we agreed to stop by the Poor Clares’ monastery to deliver the booklets on our way home.

                  

        

What a wonderful surprise to be greeted by Sister Betty who, soon after, called Sister Luz, Mother General, to speak with us instead.

“Have you visited the chapel yet?” asked Sister Luz.

“We’re going there next,” I smiled.

Sister Luz told us about their beautiful Easter service; and she invited us to their three o’clock Divine Mercy chaplet prayers, considering that we’d arrived in perfect time.

And, oh, the altar!  I could’ve sat there for hours, immersed in peace and good.

                

                    

            

                        

        

                

April 22, 2017

Saturday afternoon we drove to the monastery for an impromptu visit with the Sisters.

Just days before, when we’d last spoken to the Sisters, we’d received a text (while still at the chapel) that our youngest granddaughter was in the midst of a medical crisis; so I’d requested prayers.  And, within a couple of hours, Karina’s health had rebounded.

We wanted to personally thank the Sisters, but the gate to the monastery was locked; so Steven and I headed to the chapel instead.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when we entered.  The chapel was empty except for us!

Were you waiting for us, dear God?  How special to have you all to ourselves.

            

            

Afternoon delights

In one week’s time we’d been blessed with two afternoon delights at the chapel— the first to pray with others; the second, by ourselves.

We luxuriated in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and gave thanks and praise for all God’s blessings.

Good health, an abundance of gifts and talents shared with others, friendships with like-minded individuals, spiritual fulfillment— could we ask for anything more?

Prayers from St. Faustina’s writings

Healing…  Jesus, may your pure and healthy blood circulate in my ailing organism; may your pure and healthy body transform my weak body; and may a healthy and vigorous life throb within me if it is truly your holy will (Diary 1089).

St. Paul the Apostle – CCTX

Hope…  O my Jesus, my master and director, strengthen and enlighten me in these difficult moments of my life.  I expect no help from people, all my hope is in you.  I feel alone in the face of your demands, O Lord.  Despite the fears and qualms of my nature, I am fulfilling your holy will and desire to fulfil it as faithfully as possible throughout my life and in my death.  Jesus, with you I can do all things.  Do with me as you please; only give me your heart and that is enough for me (Diary 650).

Intercession…  O Jesus, you inspired St. Faustina with profound veneration for your boundless mercy.  Deign, if it be your holy will, to grant me, through her intercession, the grace for which I fervently pray (state petition).  My sins render me unworthy of your mercy; but be mindful of St. Faustina’s spirit of sacrifice and self-denial and reward her virtue by granting the petition which, with childlike confidence, I present to you through her intercession.

Our Father…  Hail Mary…  Glory be….

Thanksgiving...  O Jesus, eternal God, I thank you for your countless graces and blessings.  Let every beat of my heart be a new hymn of thanksgiving to you, O God.  Let every drop of my blood circulate for you, Lord.  My soul is one hymn in adoration of your mercy.  I love you, God, for yourself alone (Diary 1794).

Quotes

Mary, mother of mercy, help us always to have this trust in your Son, our redeemer.  Help us too, St. Faustina, whom we remember today with special affection.  Fixing our weak gaze on the divine savior’s face, we would like to repeat with you: “Jesus, I trust in You!”  Now and for ever.  Amen (St. John Paul II).

When I am before the Blessed Sacrament I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it.  Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me.  When it is time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from his sacred presence
(St. Anthony Claret).

April 25, 2017

I want to be a woman whose faith in God’s promises holds no matter how long there is no visible evidence of it— a woman who uses her voice to bring hope to the weary and to rejoice with those who rejoice.  I want to proclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness steadily, with great joy, regardless of what the world around me looks like— because, when it is darkest, that is when my voice is most needed (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).

May 8, 2017

Hope is an eminently practical virtue; it is the virtue that drives far from our heart the specter of discouragement, the most frequent dangerous temptation in the spiritual life.  As the inseparable companion of suffering, it confirms and strengthens peace in our soul (Archbishop Luis M. Martinez in When God is Silent).

May 10, 2017

“It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength we need in our isolation”
(St. Damien).

May 21, 2017

The courage to live the call to share Jesus with others comes from a hope that gives way to the discipline of prayer.  Prayer inspires a life of joyful dependence on the Lord, which allows us to see and recognize him at work in the most surprising of ways.  And from a heart focused on God blossoms the thanksgiving that overflows into sharing Christ with a waiting world (Colleen C. Mitchell in Who Does He Say You Are?).

May 22, 2017

When one finds themselves with Jesus, they live the wondrous awe of that encounter and feel the need to look for him in prayer, in the reading of the gospels.  They feel the need to adore him, to know him and feel the need to announce him (Pope Francis).

June 18, 2017

If you wish to adore the real face of Jesus, we can find it in the divine Eucharist where, with the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the face of our Lord is hidden under the while veil of the host (St. Gaetano Catanoso).

June 23, 2017

“Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams” (Pope John XXIII).

July 21, 2017

“We ascend to the heights of contemplation by the steps of the active life” (Pope St. Gregory I).

July 28, 2017

“My past, O Lord, I entrust to your mercy; my presence, to your love; my future, to your providence” (St. Padre Pio).

August 11, 2017

Our labor here is brief, but the reward is eternal.  Do not be disturbed by the clamor of the world, which passes like a shadow.  Do not let the false delights of a deceptive world deceive you (St. Clare of Assisi).

Links of interest…  40 hours devotion: Spending personal time with the Lord…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Blessed Sacrament prayers…  Catholic Harbor of faith & morals (index of saints)…  Cloistered nuns want to pray for you…  Dwelling of faith, hope, & love…  Eucharistic adoration…  Fatima & Divine Mercy are eternally linked / & Faustina offer striking, frightening visions of hell / surprised by…  Have you ever lost faith…  Hope: A misunderstood virtue…  How Jesus makes heaven present to us today (Fr. Romano GuardiniMeditations on the Christ)…  Litany of trust…  Move to religious life…  No mercy without conversion…  Perpetual adoration…  St. Faustina: aboutprayers (all occasion – Eucharist – intercessory – thanksgiving) / prophet of God’s mercy…  St. John Chrysostom (hourly)…  Trust in Jesus: Four reasons Catholics are full of hope…  Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours & half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament (Lasance, 1898)…  What is Divine Mercy (chaplet – devotionnovena)…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Capuchin Christmas…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  Merry Christmas…  San Giuseppe…  Slice of heaven…  Twelve candles

Merry Christmas

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November 30, 2016, we received this year’s invitation from the Capuchin Poor Clares at the St. Joseph and St. Rita Monastery and committed to Christmas Eve Mass as before.

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Again, as on Christmas Eve 2015, we showed up early to relish every heartfelt gift— the singing, the rosary, Mass, and lots of photo ops— thanks to the Sisters, the altar servers, the deacon, concelebrants Bishop Emeritus Reymundo Peña and Fr. Juan Manuel Salazar, and everyone eager for a very special Capuchin Christmas.

Christmas Eve homily

Today we celebrate the birthday of Jesus.  Hoy celebramos el cumpleaños del Señor Jesús, nuestro Salvador; nuestro Dios; en el cielo, Jesucristo, Jesús.

En estos tiempos de festividades, tenemos muchas tradiciones y ¿cómo lo celebramos?

Con las amistades, los vecinos, y especialmente con nuestras familias que vienen de todas partes.  Y en este poquillo de alegría, pues celebramos compartiendo estas cosas que nos une.  O sea la familia, el gran amor que tenemos unos a los otros.  Entonces este tiempo están juntos.  Están llenos de la presencia de muchos conocidos y sencillos, pero también este tiempo de navidad tiene que ser una porción de contradicción.  Contradictions.  ¿Porque?

Porque también en este tiempo puede invitar pensamientos, sentimientos de soledad y tristeza porque tal vez hay un ser querido que ha fallecido recientemente y es la primer navidad en que no lo tenemos con nosotros.  Es un momento de verdadera tristeza.  Tal vez hay un pleito en la familia y no se han reunido en esta ocasión por el mal entendimiento o el pleito que tienen.  También puede ser una ocasión de soledad o tristeza en este tiempo de navidad.

Igual el nacimiento de Jesús es una ocasión de contradicción.  Porque al momento de ser rey de reyes no encuentran lugar donde posturarse por la noche, Jesús, María, y José.  Y, donde estando solos, los ángeles mismos invitan gente para ser testigos de la ocasión de su nacimiento.  Y, aunque son pobres, llegan los reyes magos ¿no? exquisitos, y presentan regalos.

Entonces en este tiempo el Príncipe de Paz, como la primera lectura nos dice, ha nacido.  Pero en la noche en ese tiempo también el rey Herodes busca su vida.  No hay paz.  Y a la vez tiene su hogar; su país; y muy, muy grande otro país cerquito.

Que tristeza ¿no? pero José y María no pierden la esperanza porque tienen todo en Jesucristo, hijo de Dios.  Y, en eso, Jesús por eso vino porque el entra en nuestra miseria.  El entra a nuestro dolor y tristezas y él se entrega.  El viene a darnos un regalo, el regalo de su presencia, el regalo de su cuerpo y sangre.

Y les digo esto porque por mientras que todos nosotros entramos este mundo para vivir como, por ejemplo, cuando nosotros sacamos nuestro primer respiro o los primeros llanes de los niños ¿verdad? usamos la vida, luchamos por la vida.  Pero Cristo, Dios hecho hombre, cuando el entró  al mundo, el vino para morir.  El vino para dar su vida para que nosotros la termináramos.

Este regalo que él nos ha dado— su cuerpo, su sangre— este regalo que él nos pide de nosotros a compartir a unos a los otros esta navidad, no nomas en este tiempo sino todos los días, [es] darnos el regado del amor a nuestro propio, nuestros hermanos.

Y si esto se entrega en los regalos que nos damos unos a los otros.  Pero en toda manera de ser… lo importante no son las cosas materiales que compramos sino el amor que compartimos.

It is the love we share that is the true love that God gives us….   That’s the gift he wishes us to share with one another.  Love one another.  Respect one another and listen.  But, most especially, offer [everything] rooted in love; for that’s the reason why he came— to give up his life so [that we might] have it, to make sure we know [God’s love].  Amen (Fr. Juan Manuel Salazar; December 24, 2016; transcribed audio recording, edited).

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Afterthoughts

Left as a blog comment this Christmas morning, Steven’s memory of last night’s Mass clearly describes the small, intimate setting at St. Joseph’s chapel.

Angelic voices— soft, with Spanish accents, from the cloistered nuns behind the glass-and-wood partitions on either side of the altar— filled the chapel, first with the familiar prayers of the rosary and then with Christmas hymns.

Bishop Emeritus Reymundo Peña presided joyfully, his voice strengthening as he proclaimed God’s message of love for us.

Father Juan Manuel Salazar delivered the homily both in English and Spanish and, after Mass, lovingly presented the Infant Jesus for veneration.

Notable, too, was the family with three small children dressed in Christmas costumes similar to San Juan Diego’s peasant garb.  At first shy and unsure but then overcome with eagerness to partake in the ceremony, their spiritual innocence captivated our collective heart with their unwavering leap of faith.

And, at evening’s end, amid the hugs, well wishes, and picture-taking, Mother Superior cheerfully thanked us for celebrating Mass with them and bid us a very resounding “Merry Christmas” and a safe drive home.

Feliz Navidad!

Quotes

Behold the dear Infant Jesus and adore him fervently.  Contemplate his poverty and humility in imitation of his most holy mother and of St. Joseph.  Repose near him as sweetly as you can.  He will not fail to love your heart, void as you find it of tenderness and feeling.  Nothing will be wanting to you, since you will be in the presence of that holy Infant.  Abide there and learn of him, how meek and humble he is, how simple and amiable.  See how lovingly he has written your name in the depth of his divine heart, which beats on that couch of straw from the impassioned zeal it has for our advancement and heaves not one single sigh unto his Father in which you have not a part, nor a single movement of his spirit, except for your happiness (St. Francis de Sales).

“Dear parents, I implore you to imitate the Holy Family of Nazareth” (St. John Vianney).

God is here.  This truth should fill our lives, and every Christmas should be for us a new and special meeting with God, when we allow his light and grace to enter deep into our soul (St. Josemaría Escrivá, The Way).

“On this night let us share the joy of the gospel: God loves us; he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness” (Pope Francis).

With the shepherds let us enter the stable of Bethlehem beneath the loving gaze of Mary, the silent witness of his miraculous birth….  May she teach us how to treasure in our hearts the mystery of God who, for our sake, became man (Pope Benedict XVI).

December 27, 2016

“Let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

December 28, 2016

Oh, Jesus, with joy in my heart and in a spirit of gratitude, I thank you for your great blessings in my life.  Thank you for the celebration of your birth.  Thank you for restoring my hope of eternal life with you.  Thank you for all the gifts I have received from your generous hand (Franciscan MediaA Eucharistic Christmas).

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St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery – 725 E. Bowie Avenue – Alamo, TX 78516-5500

Links of interest…  Advent & Christmas page…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Away in a manger: St. Francis & the nativity…  Boxing Day…  Christ is born…  Christmas: antiphons, celebratingdeeper meaning, lights around the worldmad humility, spiritual life, & trials, mercy, & Padre Pio (more)…  Christmastide: customs / days / foods / octave (more) / other countries & cultures / overview / prayers (guide) / twelve days (more) / why celebrate…  Cloistered nuns want to pray for you…  How Jesus makes heaven present to us today (Fr. Romano GuardiniMeditations on the Christ)…  Las posadas & the 2nd Christmas novena (Dec 16-24)…  Living the Good News: Days of Christmas…  Mary: cause of our joy / mother of God (more) & of our salvation…  Our Lady of the Rosary Library…  Prophecies fulfilled (Mary M. McGlone)…  Soul of Christmas (Thomas Moore)…

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas scenes…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  Mary’s seven joys…  Oh, happy day!…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Slice of heaven…  St. Felix…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelve candles…  Venerable Margaret

Twelve candles

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For the past two weeks I’ve been maintaining, editing, and adding to my blog behind the scenes; so I’ve had ample opportunity to think about my next post.

Treasures

Opening the “churches” folder on the external drive this afternoon, I wondered which of the many files-in-waiting I should peek into.  Then Martha came to mind.

Thanks to our beloved friend, we shared an incredible adventure in Mundelein before driving to Marytown for noon Mass at the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  The church, managed by Conventual Franciscans, hosts a multitude of statues everywhere and a seemingly endless array of holy relics.

I thought my heart would burst! 

Connections

Viewing the photos again after two years of dormancy, my thoughts ricocheted from one post to another to another.  I added St. Anthony Mary Claret’s relic photo to Kylie’s story and then—

Oh, my gosh!  Providential!

Earlier in the day, I’d happened across the “twelve candles” draft from last December.  Not sure when I’ll get to that, I thought, dismissing any effort to get it published.  And here, out of the blue, in the photo files from our day with Martha was a photo of a prayer posted at the shrine.  Oh, perfect sentiment!  Who says the Hallmark Channel owns Christmas in July? 

Twelve candles

December 27, 2013, Steven and I started an annual tradition.

For our anniversary we gift ourselves with a day trip to the St. Joseph Chapel in Alamo: Steven makes a special contribution to the Capuchin Poor Clares, and he lights twelve candles.

We remember “everyone and everything everywhere”— most, specifically by name— and we give thanks and praise for “all God’s blessings in the new year to come.”

December 2015, we visited St. Joseph’s twice, the second time on Christmas Eve.  And, because it was our first time attending Mass at the chapel, we chose to light our candles in the spirit of the Holy Family.

So, twelve candles, twelve months of blessings.  When we say “you’re in our thoughts and prayers daily,” we really mean it.

God bless you sweetly!

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Prayer 

I don’t know how to pray.  I don’t know what to say.  I haven’t much time….

The light which I am giving is a little of what I have— a little of my time, a little of myself— which I am leaving before the Lord and the Virgin Mary.

This light symbolizes my prayer, which I continue even as I go my way.

Lord, may this candle I am lighting be the light with which you enlighten [us in our] difficulties and decisions.  May it be the fire with which you burn away the selfishness and impurity in [us].  May it be the flame with which you warm [our hearts].

I cannot remain for long in your church.  By leaving this candle burning, I want to give you something of myself.

Help me to continue to pray in the midst of my daily activities.

Amen (National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe, n. d.).

Quote

We often think we receive graces and are divinely illuminated by means of brilliant candles.  But from whence comes their light?  From prayers, perhaps, of some humble, hidden soul whose inward shining is not apparent to human eyes (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

December 21, 2016

God is our light.  The farther the soul strays away from God, the deeper it goes into darkness (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

December 22, 2016

A single sentence, a single word, a single awareness may turn life around; and, while you may not yet be found, you are no longer lost.  It is impossible to express.  Your dream of the world is unmasked, creating an opening.  The night, however dark, is not endless because, in that smallest opening, you glimpsed light moving in the dark.  It was the first real thing you have known (Paula D’Arcy, Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light).

December 25, 2016

In the Word made flesh, God has sent his last Word, his most profound Word, his most beautiful Word, into the world.  And that Word means I love you, world and humanity.  Light the candles!  They have more right to be here than darkness! (Karl Rahner, SJ).

January 3, 2017

Oh, how great is your name, O Lord!  It is the strength of my soul.  When my strength fails and darkness invades my soul, your name is the sun whose rays give lights and also warmth (St. Faustina Kawalska).

February 2, 2017

How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a weary world (William Shakespeare).

February 5, 2017

“Your light must shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).

May 16, 2017

Eternal God, who are the light of the minds that know you, the joy of the hearts that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you, grant us to know you that we may truly love you and so to love that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom.  In Jesus Christ, our Lord
(St. Augustine).

June 2, 2017

O gracious Parent!  Elevate our souls, and give us access to thy sublime throne, that stable seat of pure delight!  All earth-born cares remove; dispel the mists of sense; and with a ray from heaven illumine our darkened minds.  Allow us to see thy light; let us view the source of good unveiled; and fix, O ever fix, our eyes on thee (Roman Boethius in The Saint vs. The Scholar: The Fight Between Faith and Reason).

July 19, 2017

There is a life force flowing through the universe, and everything exists in a single moment, forever unfolding.  I open myself to the stream.  I want to be emptied and purified so that the past is no longer my lens— so that it no longer colors what I see.  What will it be like to look without fear or expectation, to see things with nothing in the way?  Who will I be if I am not afraid, but alive?  There is everything to experience, and the portal beyond the darkness to know (Paula D’Arcy in Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds as Light).

August 11, 2017

Faith is the first light, the heralding light, the foundation placed in us of what in its final perfection will be the Beatific Vision of God.  It is the beginning of the eternal ways in us, the commencement of our union with God” (Fr. William Ullathorne in Patience and Humility).

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St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery – 725 E. Bowie Avenue – Alamo, TX 78516-5500

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Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  All things new: Yes, it’s cold & dark but there is light…  Christmas music: eleven hymns & songs (video) & seven originals…  Five ways to put all those Christmas cards to good use…  How beeswax candles opened my eyes to the beauty of Mass…  Light a candle…  Lighthouses, an ancient symbol of Christianity…  Like a moth drawn to the flames of church candles…  Living an unending Christmas…  Mary Page: Marian prayers / one’s special intentions / prayer circlecorner…  Old lamps shed new light on ancient world…  Our Lady of the Rosary Library: prayers to the Blessed Virgin for every day of the week…  Perspective in the battle between darkness & light…  Pope Francis: Light of faith…  Prayer: & devotions to the Blessed Mother / & seasons / daily sacred spacefor all occasions (AMM) / four daily habits / free booklets & CDs (more) / healing / librarylittle book of caregiver prayers / more / morning & new beginnings / novenas made easyten ways to grow in prayer (more) / treasure of 3,569 / why we must pray…  Praying to the saints: gracious advocates / heavenly intercessors / intercessory prayer / litanies / novenas (221) / why pray novenas /  why pray to the saints…  Reasons to request prayer on social media / why writing is good for you…  Secret Santa for the soul…  Seeing others with the light of Christ…  Six ways St. Clare shines her light…  Spiritual reflections…  Ten reasons to be filled with hope…  Time to put out electric votive candles…  What do you think of me, Lord…  Why do we give Christ the title Light from Light / light votive candles / use candles at Mass

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Budding relationships…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas scenes…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  Marytown shrine…  Merry Christmas…  Oh, happy day!…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Slice of heaven…  St. Anthony Claret…  St. Felix…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Capuchin Christmas

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December 14, 2015, we received another lovely card from the Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns who manage the chapel at the St. Joseph and St. Rita Monastery in Alamo, TX and quickly made plans to celebrate Christmas Eve at their St. Joseph Chapel.

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Then, Thursday evening, we showed up early to savor every tasty morsel— the singing, the rosary, Mass, and lots of photo ops— thanks to the Sisters, the altar server, concelebrants Bishop Emeritus Reymundo Peña and Fr. Juan Manuel Salazar, and everyone eager for a very special Capuchin Christmas.

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Christmas Eve homily

I see many happy faces here tonight and rightly so because Christmas is a time for joy. The greetings that we hear everywhere— “merry Christmas,” “feliz navidad,” even “happy holidays”— denote joy.  Songs like Joy to the world, Angels we have heard on high, Singing alleluia, We wish you a merry Christmas— all of those stand for joy and happiness.

St. Luke’s narrative that we just heard includes people from all social levels and all walks of life. Just listen carefully to what he said.

Who was there?  Just Mary and Joseph, a housewife and a carpenter.  There was the innkeeper, a businessman who would not let them in; the humble shepherds, uneducated and working in difficult labor every day and night; the Magi who came from distant lands to worship and honor the newborn king; and King Herod, the politician appointed by the emperor who wanted to kill the Lord.  So you can see that some were naughty and some were nice.

CSJC122415s-36Mary and Joseph received [Jesus] and wrapped him in swaddling clothes.  The shepherds immediately went to see him but didn’t find him.  The Magi came from far, far away.  The innkeeper who was only about the money wouldn’t let them in.  And King Herod, of course, as I mentioned earlier, wanted to kill him.  So, again, some were naughty and some were nice.

There’s a quote on someone’s Facebook page that I saw this morning: “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future” [Oscar Wilde].

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.  Let’s look at some of the examples.  There was St. Augustine who was a great, great sinner, who never went to church, who committed every sin in the book; but his mother kept praying for him.  He was converted.  There was Mary Magdalene who shed tears for her sins and went to wash the Lord’s feet.  [Each] received God’s mercy for the rest of their lives.

We are all sinners except for the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I often think of my own sins; but even if I try to repair them, I still have that inclination to want to sin.  I’m sure all of us feel that way.

We want to be perfect.  We want to love God.  But the devil keeps tempting us because he’s jealous.  He does not want us to reach heaven.

In his mercy Jesus came to save you and me.  He forgives me; he forgives you.  His birth makes salvation possible, and that’s why we rejoice.  It wasn’t the fact that he was born.  Joy comes from [knowing] that he was born in order to save us from our sins.

Every sinner can and should be saved because Christ came to save us all.  As I mentioned a minute ago, St. Augustine had his mother pray and pray and pray until he changed.  He was converted.  He became a holy man.  He became a bishop.  He became a saint.  And, as I mentioned before, Mary Magdalene committed every sin in the book; but, when she saw Jesus, she repented.  She cried, and he gave her his mercy as she washed his feet.  She was at the foot of the cross with Mary.

CSJC122415s-14You and I here tonight are Augustine of Hippo.  You and I here tonight are Mary Magdalene.  We have sinned, but we have repented.  Otherwise, we would not be here.  And we rejoice!  We rejoice today because Jesus, the simple little baby in Bethlehem, today made our weaknesses his own so that we’re not weak by ourselves.

Jesus accepted and embraced our weakness so that he would overcome; and, by overcoming that weakness, he could save us.  He comes to us whether we are naughty or nice, just as he came to Mary and Joseph, to the shepherds, to the Magi, and to Herod.

Jesus sends our guardian angel to remind us of his birth just as he sent the angels to the shepherds to tell them that he had been born.  Jesus sends the Church to tell us that Jesus was born and to tell us that he lived as the star guiding the Magi from distant lands.

Today we rejoice.  We are back because the promise of Christmas is what we live for.  We are not celebrating nearly a historical death: that Jesus was born some two-thousand fourteen, fifteen, twenty years ago.  That’s historically true, but we are here more to celebrate the [reason] he was born.

He was born to be our savior.  He was born to forgive our sins.  And that’s why we’re happy because right here today, this Christmas day, we are beginning to taste the everlasting heaven: happiness that will be ours on Christmas forever; our salvation; our eternal union with God; our perpetual gaze at the face of our creator, our savior, and our God.

CSJC122415s-15Yes, we have reason to be happy.  Yes, we have reason to enjoy.  Yes, we have reason to say “glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will.”  So today, tomorrow, and the next few weeks enjoy the Christmas lights.  They remind us of the light of which Isaiah speaks in the first reading:

The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light.  You have brought them abundant joy [9:1-2].

They foreshadow the eternal light that is God.  So rejoice.  Enjoy the lights.  Enjoy the Christmas songs.  They’re like the choirs of angels who sang to the shepherds “glory to God in the highest” and with whom we will praise God in heaven forever.

Peace and close advice in the epistle: “Live temperately, justly, and be loved in this age as we await the blessed hope and the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior, Jesus Christ” [Titus 2:12-13].  So today, my brothers and sisters, be happy.  Enjoy.  Praise God.

May you all have a happy, holy, safe Christmas filled with his love, filled with his peace, and saying night and day “glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will” (Bishop Emeritus Reymundo Peña; December 24, 2015; transcribed audio recording).

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January 4, 2016

We must rise up and value every instant of time that passes and is in our power.  We must not waste a single moment.  By divine grace we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year.  This year, which only God knows if we shall see its end, must be used in reparation for the past and in preparation for the future (St. Pio).

January 23, 2016

The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious, and accepted.  He deprives himself of everything in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts.  He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers to encourage us to love poverty and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.

This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts, by this example, these sublime virtues so that, from a world that is torn and devastated, an era of peace and love may spring forth.  Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.

Oh, let us prostrate ourselves before the manger; and, along with the great St. Jerome who was enflamed with the love of the Infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve.  Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity (St. Pio’s Christmas meditation, translated by Rega, 2005).

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St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery – 725 E. Bowie Avenue – Alamo, TX 78516-5500

Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Boxing Day…  Christmas trials, mercy, & Padre Pio (more)…  Christmastide: customs / days / foods / octave (more) / other countries & cultures / overview / prayers (guide) / twelve days (more) / why celebrate…  Cloistered nuns want to pray for you…  Las posadas & the 2nd Christmas novena (Dec 16-24)…  Pope Francis: Christmas 2015

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Blue heaven…  Christmas blessings…  Christmas scenes…  Christmas year ’round…  Church time blues…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  Merry Christmas…  Oh, happy day!…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Santo Niño…  Slice of heaven…  St. Felix…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelve candles…  Venerable Margaret

Slice of heaven

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Until December 6, 2013, the only Capuchins Steven and I had met were those affiliated with the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.  Then we attended Bishop Danny’s annual dinner in Weslaco and learned about the Poor Clares at the Monastery of St. Joseph and St. Rita in Alamo, TX.  Amazing, considering that the only Poor Clares we’d heard about were those whom Father Mario had visited in June when he’d taken St. Anthony’s relics to their monastery in the Chicago area.

Clarisas cookies

CPC12613Bishop Danny’s annual fundraiser for the various charities in the diocese was the perfect venue for sales.  The Capuchin Poor Clare nuns had provided a palette of cookies to be sold
before the live auction, so Steven purchased a box of Clarisas and quickly handed them to me.  Gingerly examining the container without flipping it over, my fingertips felt something on the underside of the soft plastic container; so, naturally, I picked away at it with my nails until the tape gave way.

The neatly folded paper square, once smoothed open, satiated some of our curiosity— when, where, and why the Poor Clares had taken up residence in the Rio Grande Valley and why their cookie sales were so important— but the invitation to prayer immediately propelled us into let’s-check-it-out mode.

We fully intended to visit the Capuchins during the Christmas holidays, so we had work to do.  I’d write to the Sisters and learn more about the chapel, and Steven would search online for a map and directions.

My letter

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Sisters’ email

Subject: Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns – Alamo, TX
Date: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:39 AM

Pax et bonum!

Dear Deli and Esteban Lanoux,

May God reign in your hearts.  Thank you for your letter.  God be your reward.

Ten years ago our monastery was established in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.  Here, we adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

We’re glad you liked the cookies that we make.  We sell our cookies only at the convent.  We do not sell online because they are very fragile and may break during shipping.  The cookies that you viewed on the website are sold by the Capuchin Sisters of Denver, CO.

We hope to meet you one day and personally thank you for your support.

May God bless you always, especially this Christmas.

In Francis and Clare of Assisi,
Your Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns

St. Joseph and St. Rita Monastery
P. O. Box 1099
Alamo, TX 78516-1099

My response

Subject: Capuchin Poor Clare Nuns – Alamo, TX
Date: Monday, December 23, 2013 9:55 AM

Dearest Sisters,

What a delight to hear from you personally!  Oh, my goodness, yes.  Steven and I will be going down to Brownsville during the Christmas holidays, so we’ve already made plans to go visit you before the New Year.

It’s wonderful to know your monastery is so welcoming, that you responded to my letter right away, and that we can buy your delicious cookies when we’re there at the monastery.  (Something I’ll definitely post on my personal blog!)

God bless y’all most abundantly!

Merry Christmas!

Heartfelt hugsss,
Deli & Steven

St. Anthony Guide.

Our visit: December 27, 2013

Reminiscent of Isaiah’s “treasures in secret places” (45:3), Steven and I are always in awe of the wonderful places (and people) we find here and there.  For instance, not long after we arrived at the St. Joseph chapel in Alamo we met three lovely visitors, a mother and her two daughters from south of Houston, in the gift shop in the vestibule.  Like us, they were so taken with their first visit to the Capuchin sacred space that they’ll be returning again and again.

Slice of heaven

SJRM122713-1Before leaving the chapel, Steven lit twelve votive candles for the twelve months in 2014.  As we think back on our visit, our prayers for everyone will be doubly special for having been remembered a year in advance as well as daily wherever we happen to be.

Next, we made our way to the monastery.  When we’d walked the grounds earlier, we’d spotted a family dropping off a box of clothing to one of the Sisters so we thought we might ring the doorbell.  Still, we were reluctant to disturb the Poor Clares, since they’re cloistered nuns.  Even the chapel has the one-way glass panels on either side of the altar so the Sisters can attend Mass unseen by the public!

Standing outside the small, wrought-iron barred patio area in the biting cold, I guess we made enough noise that one of the Poor Clares stepped out of the house to see what we needed.  When we explained that I’d written to let them know we’d be dropping by, Sister Marta started to let us in; but I motioned to her that we didn’t want to intrude.  We merely wanted to leave off some items, find out more about the Clarisas cookies— which we now know are sold at Breadsmith in McAllen— and thank them for the invitation to visit their beautiful chapel.

“Oh, you’ve seen it already?” Sister asked.

“Yes.  It’s lovely,” Steven told her.

“Did you photograph it?” Sister asked.

“Yes,” I chuckled.  “We spent about three hours in the chapel, so we had more than enough time to pray and take photos.”

Sister was glad for our visit, and we were most appreciative of Sister’s time.  The day was cold and damp, but we’d enjoyed a very special slice of heaven that day.

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Prayer

Holy patroness of those in need, St. Rita, so humble, pure, and patient, whose pleadings with your divine spouse are irresistible, obtain for me from the Crucified Christ my request (mention here).  Be kind to me for the greater glory of God, and I promise to honor thee and to sing thy praises forever.  O glorious St. Rita, who miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life and protect me in all my needs.  Amen.

March 19, 2014

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus, and the Church?  By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence, and receptive to God’s plans, not simply to his own (Pope Francis).

March 24, 2015

“God is so good and merciful that, to obtain heaven, it is sufficient to ask it of him from our hearts” (St. Benedict Joseph Labre).

February 2, 2016

We often think we receive graces and are divinely illuminated by means of brilliant candles.  But from whence comes their light?  From prayers, perhaps, of some humble, hidden soul whose inward shining is not apparent to human eyes (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

February 28, 2016

“When the afflictions of this life overcome us, let us encourage ourselves to bear them patiently by the hope of heaven” (St. Alphonsus).

April 12, 2016

“The more we indulge ourselves in soft living and pamper our bodies, the more rebellious they will become against the spirit” (St. Rita of Cascia).

March 13, 2017

We engage in works of mercy not so that we can present Saint Peter at the pearly gates with our list of accomplishments but because we cannot live honestly before God and with others unless we are attentive to human need (Pat McCloskey in Peace and Good).

August 11, 2017

While both Clare and Francis left the world to pursue God insofar as they abandoned their status, wealth and security, never did they renounce the world for the sake of God.  Rather, they realized that the created world was the world embraced by God; thus God could not be found apart from the world.  The world, not the monastery, was the true cloister (Ilia Delio, OSF in Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love).

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St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery – 725 E. Bowie Avenue – Alamo, TX 78516-5500

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Links of interest…  Alamo, TX: Capuchin Poor Claresquiet place for prayer / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (more)…  Breadsmith (Clarisas)…  Brownsville diocese…  Franciscan: calendar / prayers / requests…  St. Clare: about / book / chaplet / companions in prayer / don’t bring eggs (article) / enlightened one / for healing / patroness / profile (Aug 11) / prayer requests / prayers / successor…  St. Rita: about / biography / chaplet / feast day (May 22) / forty-six miracles / growing in holiness / life / memorial / miracle / national shrine / novena / patroness / prayers / profile / rose legend / story (YouTube)…  St. Joseph: about / celebration (more) / feast / litany / memorial (May 1) / name / prayers (more) / solemnity (Mar 19) / who is / zeppole…  Viva San Giuseppe

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Clarisas cookies…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Promise of hope…  Revisiting St. Simon…  San Giuseppe…  Santo Niño…  Seven dwelling places…  St. Felix…  St. Jude Shrine (Corpus Christi, TX)…  Sweet Jesus…  Twelve candles…  Venerable Margaret

Clarisas cookies

An invitation to the bishop’s annual dinner arrived in the mail, and we couldn’t resist— not because we’d never attended, but because we wanted to support “Bishop Danny,” beloved son of the Corpus Christi diocese, especially at St. Paul’s, his home parish, and now calm, confident yet unassuming shepherd of the Brownsville diocese flock.

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Diocesan fundraiser: December 6, 2013

What a cold night to be out and about, but the lively conversations among those of us huddled double-s fashion within the Catholic War Veteran’s foyer warmed our spirits.

Waiting for our passes, we smilingly connected with two young women, Laura and Tracy with Catholic Charities, who invited us to their Spring 2014 event before we made our way through the crowded room to table forty-one.  Then, leaving my coat and bag on our chairs, we headed for the hors d’oeuvres and the silent auction where Item #1331 immediately captivated our curious, collective eye.

This unique, wood carved image of Our Lady, with ivory accents, is simply amazing.  Her face is radiant and motherly.  She adds taste and value to any home or office (Auction book, p. 10).

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Of course, the best part about window shopping all the items on display was seeing Bishop Danny within a few feet from us.  Shaking hands and interacting with anyone who took time from eating and admiring the silent auction items long enough to engage him in conversation, he was relaxed, genuine, celebratory, and— here and there— quietly conducting business as he remained very much in the moment among us.

Precious moments

Steven and I approached Bishop Danny, shared our recollections of him: Sunday Mass on TV while at the Corpus Christi Cathedral; evening Mass at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff during one of his visits from his post in Detroit; meeting his sister, Tess, at St. Joseph’s (where his mom now is parishioner as well, we learned from him); viewing his annual appeal video at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville; and more.

Bishop Danny smiled when I told him I’d enjoyed the story about the crayons he’d received from his niece (or nephew) at Christmas, and he was surprised to hear that we associate him with the Solanus Casey Center.  Spending precious moments with Bishop Danny was wonderful.  We could’ve taken more of his time; but others wanted the same privilege, so we wished him well and continued our browsing.

An unforgettable evening

Not long after we returned to our empty table three women— a mom with two young ladies— took the seats on my left.  We smiled and exchanged introductions.  The more the woman beside me shared about herself, the more we realized we had in common.  We became fast friends in a flash.  How special to learn not only that Josefina’s a retired elementary school teacher, but also a Franciscan laity aspirant!

Steven was otherwise distracted.  Another person had been bidding against him for Item #1331, so he’d gone back and forth to the silent auction area until he was crushed to learn the outcome: The other person had “overbid by a lot right as time ran out.”  And, while we were disappointed, we were also very grateful that someone had wanted Our Lady so much that they’d generously contributed to Bishop Danny’s cause that evening.

The music started after dinner, so talking over the loudness was difficult.  Fina, her daughter, and their friend got up to leave; so I stood to say goodbye.  As we hugged, Fina told me again, “I think God planned for us to meet this evening.”  She’d already jotted her email address down on a napkin, so we agreed to stay in touch.

Ponderings

DBV12613-1377LaAs we waited for the live auction, we were urged to buy cookies.  Certainly, this was a simple distraction compared to what pulled on my heartstrings— the irresistible Santo Niño!

Devotion to the Christ Child under the avocation of “Atocha” originated in the 13th century in Spain and spread to Latin America centuries later.  It is still very popular today.  The plaster statue is over 100 years old.

I consoled myself knowing that I already had a beautiful miniature, but the Santo Niño kept beckoning.

Take me home with you!

Steven was prepared to outbid whomever for Item 1377L “if you really want him.”  But where would we put the Santo Niño? I kept asking myself.  Besides, someone else needs to grow the devotion. 

I prayed that the Child find a good home with a loving family.  Then, to keep the tears from bursting past my eyeballs, I focused on the cookies.

Clarisas cookies

“Not just any cookies!” the evening’s hostess, Letty Garza, KRGV TV news anchor, exuberantly extolled.  “These cookies are the bishop’s favorites!  Aren’t they, Bishop?” she grinned across the room to where Bishop Danny sat.  “You told me they’re your favorite cookies!  These delicious Clarisas cookies are the best I’ve ever eaten!  They’re specially made by the Capuchin Poor Clare nuns in Alamo, TX.  And you have to buy them because they help support the monastery and the chapel they manage.”

“Oh, darling!” I turned to Steven.  “You just have to buy some!  They’re only five dollars a box, and I’ll bet they’re the ones I spied in the shrink-wrapped palette in the silent auction area.  Oh, my gosh!  I’ve been wanting some since I saw them earlier.  Here’s our chance to sample them.”

And that was that.  I didn’t have to sell them further.  Steven got us— um, me— a box that I shared equitably with him.  And, before we even got home to Brownsville, they were pretty much gone.

Yum!  They were good!  Delish, in fact.

CPC12613-1Then reality hit!  I didn’t photograph the cookies!

Of course, once I found (and read) the neatly folded paper carefully taped to the underside of the soft plastic container, I definitely had to know more.  After all, I’d heard about the Poor Clares just once before.  At St. Anthony of Padua Church in Rockford, Illinois in June.  Father Mario had taken St. Anthony’s relics to visit the Poor Clares in the Chicago area before Mass that evening.

I couldn’t believe that the Rio Grande Valley had its own Capuchins!  How did I not know this before? 

I was intrigued!

“When we get back home, I have to contact the Capuchin Poor Clares,” I told Steven.  “We have to go see them!”

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Links of interest…  Breadsmith (Clarisas)…  Catholic diocese of BrownsvilleBishop Daniel E. Flores (2013 – Palm Sunday) / St. Joseph & St. Rita Monastery (725 E. Bowie AVE, Alamo, TX 78516-5500) / Stewardship & Development Office…  Capuchin Poor Clares: monastery…  Cookies, cleaning, & holiness…  Franciscan prayers / requests / saints…  KRGV: Channel 5 News team…  How should a Catholic bishop tweet…  Messenger of St. Anthony (editorials)…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about / chapel / history / miracles / origin / prayers / story (more)…  St. Anthony USA (petitions; portal to Italian website)…  St. Joseph in Franciscan theology

WP posts…  Advent prayers…  Angels keeping watch…  Budding relationships…  Capuchin Christmas…  Christmas blessings…  Connected tangents…  Finding St. Rita…  God’s master plan…  Heart of hearts…  Lenten reflections…  Prayerful ways…  Revisiting St. Simon…  San Giuseppe…  Sensory overload…  Slice of heaven…  St. Felix…  St. Jude Shrine (Corpus Christi, TX)…  Thanksgiving prayers