Christ’s passion

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When we visit a church, new or familiar, I photograph the stations of the cross with relish.  Sometimes the end result includes dark, fuzzy, and/or cropped pictures that make me long for do-overs.  Other times I’m simply amazed at the beauties that pop out at me unexpectedly as I search my ever-expanding photo files for visuals that complement my writing.  But, always, I’m so drawn to the stations that I wonder how they were chosen to begin with.  And, if they could tell their story, what would they say?

Christ’s passion

July 2014, I fell head over heels in love with the stations of the cross during our eight-day silent retreat.  And, just last month, I serendipitously discovered why.

Thanks to a lifelong lingering memory, I can trace my initial fascination with the story of Christ’s passion to a long-ago prayer that mom recited nightly for my baby brother and me as we would “go to sleep with the angels.”

“Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar” (Mendoza, 1939).

Powerful devotion

Life never has seemed so full of trouble and strife as now.  But, amid our daily anxieties, we never lose hope.  God’s help is near at hand.  With it we look forward to a share in Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Our present sufferings cannot be compared to the glory that one day will be revealed in us.  All we need do is remain faithful and constant.  In our daily cares and preoccupations we must keep our heart steadily fixed on our true goal.

We will find it much easier to do so when we perform our work with the spirit and outlook of Christ.  In his sacred passion and death our Savior opened the way for us to follow.  There is no other path to God, our father.

The stations, [Christ’s] way of the cross, are our way to salvation, too.  We must often apply their power to our own life situation.  This can be done anywhere: at home, on a park bench, waiting for a train or a friend.  When our schedule is crowded, we can think and pray at least one station a day.

Our Lord doesn’t expect long or eloquent prayers.  We need not even use words; a brief silent lifting of our hearts to him suffices (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-8/14, p. 2).

Opening prayer

God, our heavenly father, we raise our minds and hearts to you in praise and thanksgiving.  Though weak and sinful, we wish to follow your only son, our Lord Jesus, on the way of the cross.  May your Holy Spirit help us use our Savior’s strength effectively in our place in life.  We ask the special aid of our blessed Lady, ever virgin and mother, in following Christ and in making his way of the cross our way of life.  Amen.

1: Jesus is condemned.

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

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2: Jesus takes his cross.

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

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3: Jesus falls the first time.

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

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4: Jesus meets his mother.

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

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5: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

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

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6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

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

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7: Jesus falls the second time.

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

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8: Jesus speaks to the women.

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

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9: Jesus falls the third time.

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

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10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes.

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

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11: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

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

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12: Jesus dies on the cross.

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

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13: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

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

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14: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

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

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Concluding prayer

O God, our heavenly father, by your great mercy we are born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your son.  We look forward to the inheritance, imperishable and unfading, which you have reserved for us in heaven.  We thank you for calling us to eternal glory in Jesus, our savior.  We ask your forgiveness for the many times we have failed in following Christ.  May the remembrance of his life, passion, and resurrection sustain us on our earthly way of the cross.  May his example strengthen us in faith, hope, and love.  And when we come to die, may we, by your gracious goodness, be born again to eternal life.  Amen.

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Contact information

Prayers are from Your Way of the Cross (FMA, B-13R, pp. 3 & 11, respectively).  Your Way of the Cross leaflets and the Retreat Booklet are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598; and A Prayer in Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows is from the Servants of Mary, The Servite Order, 1439 South Harlem Avenue, Berwyn, IL 60402-0712.

Stations of the cross (left to right, top to bottom) can be found in the following sacred spaces: Sts. Cyril & Methodius (Corpus Christi, TX), St. Anthony of Padua (Rockford, IL), Most Holy Trinity (Covington, LA), St. Mary Cathedral (Austin, TX), St. Anselm (Madisonville, LA), St. Mary’s (Brownsville, TX), Christus Spohn Hospital Chapel (Corpus Christi, TX), Oblate School of Theology (San Antonio, TX), and St. Joseph (Port Aransas, TX), respectively.

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February 25, 2016

Many who would willingly let themselves be nailed to a cross before the astonished gaze of a thousand onlookers cannot bear with a Christian spirit the pinpricks of each day!  Think, then, which is the more heroic
(St. Josemaría Escrivá).

February 29, 2016

“We must not seek the cross in extraordinary sufferings seldom, if ever, encountered; we must look for it in the duties, the life, the difficulties, and the sacrifices of each day and of each moment” (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, Divine Intimacy).

March 9, 2016

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

November 10, 2016

“No one should be ashamed of the cross of Christ through which the world has been redeemed” (St. Leo the Great).

March 20, 2017

Christ’s whole being must ring in our hearts with blood and bone.  We must follow him.  We must strive to penetrate into the heart of his mystery, to what he really is.  Then things be­come plain to us, as we have found them here (Romano Guardini in Meditations on the Christ).

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St. Anthony of Padua Church – Rockford, IL

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Grounds at the Oblate School of Theology – San Antonio, TX

Links of interest…  Disciples’ diary (Peter & Judas)…  Franciscan Mission Associates: contact / devotional saintslight a candle / prayer requests / quarterly newsletter / saint & prayer of the month / who we are…  Majesty of Christ crucified…  Prayer before the cross / a crucifix…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotion / fish eaters / for families (more) / for kids (coloring pages) / how to do / making them worthwhile / on your block / origin / prayers (video & music) / printables / puppet show (YT) / scriptural (JPII) / significance / way of the cross…  Ten lessons from the agony in the garden…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis…  Videos: intro & street stations for commuters & bikers….  Way of the cross (Artola, 2005; preview)…  What Jesus saw from the cross…  the Word among us

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

Disquieting moments

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Two weeks ago my Coolpix and I visited the St. Jude Shrine on Saratoga for the third time, and I finally captured St. Simon’s stained-glass window to my liking.  But I’d also planned a long-awaited outing to Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church, so I could hardly wait to get there!

Late December 2005

We seldom drive into Corpus Christi unless we really have to, so imagine my fascination at seeing an old-style church off South Padre Island Drive during my first trip into town. 

Is it Greek Orthodox?  Is it Catholic?  It reminds me of the church that Segy and I stumbled across in Prague.

I could hardly wait to satisfy my curiosity!

“I’m going to visit that church one day soon,” I told Steven.

Fall 2007

SPC102301-tilmaTime passed.  The week of October 23-27, the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe visited St. Paul the Apostle Church in Flour Bluff; so the parish had two festive celebrations.

At both the welcoming and the despedida Masses, a group of very talented mariachis led us in song; so Father Stembler thanked them afterwards, adding that they perform regularly at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church.

Hearing that, Junebug, a friend who’d also wanted to visit the church for a long time, and I caught up to one of the musicians as they were leaving.  We asked about the Mass schedule and, much to our delight, were enthusiastically invited to “come for twelve-thirty Mass on Sundays to hear the mariachis.”

Since obligations at our respective parishes kept us home on Sundays, we never made it.  Still, my desire to explore the old-world church persisted.

Two weeks ago

So here, five years later, my wish came true.  Having driven into town for quite a few doctors’ appointments, I finally felt confident about venturing out on my own in Corpus and, oh, the surprises that awaited me at Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

SCMC61410-21First, I took note of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s statue not because of its inviting garden setting, but because of the message on the church wall.

No temas…  ¿No estoy yo aquí, que soy tu madre?  Do not fear…  Am I not here, am I not your Mother?

A couple of years ago I’d read the same message online.

Then, on entering the church, I noticed the room to my left.  I walked in, took photos, and— on turning around— found the Infant on his pedestal.

What a wonderful surprise!

Next, I walked past the glass doors into the dimly lit church.

A man and four or five women sat in silence: some with their prayer booklets, others with rosary in hand; some departing, others taking their place.

Old-world ambiance

I sat in the back for a while, joyfully dialoguing with God about this new adventure before getting up to make pictorial memories for others to enjoy through my blog.

Other than my Coolpix snapping photos of the windows and the stations of the cross and flashing intermittently, I walked around soundlessly, respectful as usual, mindful of not being a distraction to the others.

“Ma’m, are you Catholic?”

Having gone full circle, I made my way to the front of the church.

Bowing in reverence to the altar as I had done each time I’d approached the front of the church, I turned to take my final three shots of the back (the entrance) of the church.

My peripheral vision caught sight of two women: one, shielding her face with a booklet as if to keep from being photographed; the other, beckoning to me with her right hand.

I acknowledged the latter smilingly and walked over thinking I should’ve had one of my calling cards with me, but the woman scowled at me.

“Ma’m, are you Catholic?” she chided.

“Yes, I am.  I’m from St. Joseph’s in Port Aransas.”

“Can’t you see we’re praying here?” she scolded me in a low, rough voice.

She had fire in her eyes and, clearly, she was speaking for the others, like the woman seated close by who nodded in agreement to my being treated like an insolent child.

“Don’t you know that we’re here to pray?!!” she vehemently rebuked me.

Discomforting disequilibrium

StsCMC61410-75I was a stranger, an intruder.  How dare I take photos and “disturb the adorers!”

“Yes.  I understand,” I said, being shushed by the woman time and time again as I told her that I, too, had sat awhile before taking photos.

The woman was beside herself with disgust.  But I remained cool, calm, and collected.  Even as I patiently, succinctly, tried to explain my presence there, she avoided making eye contact and shushed me as if I were a despicable nonperson.

“I apologize for having offended you,” I told the woman in a quiet voice despite her unwillingness to stop shushing me.  “Clearly, this was not my intent.”

Undaunted

Although I would’ve wanted one or two more photos of the back of the church, I relented.

“I apologize for having offended you, but each of us adores God in his own way,” I told the woman and walked away feeling neither one way nor the other.

Once outside I felt embraced by the warm breeze as I looked around, gauged the traffic on the frontage road, and walked to Steven’s palomino.  I unlocked the door, got a couple of my calling cards, turned to take three shots of the building’s exterior, tossed the Coolpix in the vehicle, and headed back into church.

Barely touching the woman’s left shoulder, I whispered, “This is my calling card.  Should you ever want to visit St. Joseph’s,” I said, pointing to the St. Joseph stained-glass icon on my card, “this is the window above our church entrance.”

The woman, still shushing me, took the cards without looking at me, placed them next to her on the pew, and gave me the cold shoulder.

“Again,” I said for the last time, “I apologize for having offended you, but each of us adores God in his own way.”

Then I walked away, undaunted.

Disquieting moments

I’d been sincere toward the woman, but she’d overly exaggerated her right to be there more than mine to visit that afternoon.  Nevertheless, I knew that God understood both of us.  So that was all that mattered.

As I drove off the church parking area onto a road I’d never traveled, I had time to reflect on the disquieting moments experienced at Sts. Cyril and Methodius.  But even after Kostoryz connected to McArdle— a street I’m familiar with, thanks to the Catholic Shoppe— my pea brain was still trying to come to somehow.

I wasn’t annoyed or angry.  I wasn’t amused or perplexed.  I wasn’t even embarrassed.

I was stunned… numb… calm.  Very, very calm.  

I’d “never ever ever” (to quote our youngest child) been treated as an outcast in any church, much less within my own Catholic community.

This had been such a unique, unexpected experience that my system was in shock— unable to mentalize, much less verbalize, my thoughts and feelings.  Yet, driving home I was sure of one thing: My visit to Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church had been part of God’s master plan.  Just another of his extraordinary lessons in real time.

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July 14, 2010

Discussing this post with a couple of friends last week, I had a momentous epiphany: I’ve experienced this exclusivity before!

I don’t know what makes people so apprehensive about strangers and not so familiar faces at church.  We’re all part of the same community regardless of who we are or where we’re from, so we should be particularly accepting of each other as Catholics.  But this isn’t always the case.

I know what it is to be an outsider within my own parish.  This is why I started the church blog— a perfect opportunity to smilingly welcome newcomers and returning visitors as I take photos before, during, and after Mass.

I’m friendly, genuine, inclusive.  I treat others as I’d like to be treated.  The way we were back home.  The way Segy and I experienced church when we attended Mass in Budapest, Prague, and Berlin.

Because being Catholic is more than just sitting quietly (meditating, petitioning, praising, praying, problem solving, and/or reflecting, for instance), we should embrace (engage, explore, make meaning of and/or try to understand) the diversity that is our Christian faith.  After all, to be Catholic is to be universal.

Prayers

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

Grant, O Lord, your protection.  And, in protection, strength; and, in strength, understanding; and, in understanding, knowledge.  And, in knowledge, the knowledge of justice; and, in the knowledge of justice, the love of it; and, in the love of it, the love of all existences.  And, in that love, the love of spirit and all creation.  Amen.

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight; and give your angels and saints charge over those who sleep.  Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ.  Rest your weary ones.  Bless your dying ones.  Soothe your suffering ones.  Pity your afflicted ones.  Shield your joyous ones.  And all for your love’s sake.  Amen.

June 12, 2015

If work is God’s will, it must be sanctifying; for, in ultimate analysis, sanctity is only doing the will of God.  Therefore, work is a sacred thing; it is a “sacramental”— an outward sign that can give grace.  Hence, you can go to work for the same reason you go to church to worship God!  Work is a religious thing.  It is holy (Fr. M. Raymond, OCSO in Spiritual Secrets of a Trappist Monk).

January 5, 2016

“As Christ has his work, we too have ours; as he rejoiced to do his work, we must rejoice in ours also” (St. John Neumann).

January 17, 2016

“I do take my work seriously, and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously,” (Alan Rickman).

January 18, 2016

God is always summoning us, calling us out of the hustle and bustle of our lives to be his companions.  Developing the contemplative dimension of our Christian lives involves developing our capacity to hear this summons in whatever way it comes (“The Complete Christian“).

“It is not enough to pray thy kingdom come, but to work so that the kingdom of God will exist among us today” (St. Ursula Ledóchowska).

January 20, 2016

The pleasure of those who injure you lies in your pain.  Therefore they will suffer if you take away their pleasure by not feeling pain (Tertullian).

January 28, 2016

“We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject; for both have labored in the search for truth and both have helped us in finding it” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

July 22, 2016

“Take care not to meddle in things which do not concern you, nor even allow them to pass through your mind; for perhaps you will not then be able to fulfill your own task” (St. John of the Cross).

January 5, 2017

We might not be able to control how people react to us, or see us, or feel about us.  But we can train ourselves not to be crushed.  We can learn not to take it personally— even if it’s personal (Heather King in Loaded: Money and the Spirituality of Enough).

January 10, 2017

“If you wish to arrive speedily at the summit of perfection, animate yourself to a true love of shame, insults, and calumny” (St. Ignatius).

February 17, 2017

Persevere in the exact fulfillment of the obligations of the moment.  That work— humble, monotonous, small— is prayer expressed in action that prepares you to receive the grace of the other work— great and wide and deep— of which you dream (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

April 4, 2017

Hospitality is the practice of God’s welcome by reaching across difference to participate in God’s actions bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis….   In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus promises to be with those who offer hospitality to the least of our brothers and sisters.  From this it would seem that hospitality can be understood as solidarity with strangers, a mutual relationship of care and trust in which we share in the struggle for empowerment, dignity, and fullness of life….

The ministry of the church is to be partners with strangers, to welcome those whom Christ welcomes, and thus learn to be a community in which people are made one in Jesus Christ in spite of their difference classes, religious backgrounds, genders, races, and ethnic groups (Letty M. Russell in Just Hospitality: God’s Welcome in a World of Difference).

June 22, 2017

When we feel us too bold, remember our own feebleness.  When we feel us too faint, remember Christ’s strength (St. Thomas More).

July 10, 2017

When you agree to live simply, you can understand what Francis meant when he said, “A brother has not given up all things if he holds onto the purse of his own opinions.”  Most of us find out that this purse is far more dangerous and disguised than a money purse, and we seldom let go of it (Richard Rohr in Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi).

August 18, 2017

“Catholicism is a deep matter; you cannot take it up in a tea cup” (Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman).

September 27, 2017

While proofreading a manuscript I’d better keep my mind on the text, not on God.  If my mind is torn between the two, the typos will slip through like little fish through a torn net.  God will be present precisely in the loving attention I give to the work entrusted to me.  By giving myself fully and lovingly to that work, I give myself fully to God.  This happens not only in work but also in play, say, in bird-watching or in watching a good movie.  God must be enjoying it in me, when I am enjoying it in God.  Is not this communion the essence of praying? (Brother David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

September 28, 2018

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage.  The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict (William Ellery Channing).

Links of interest…  Answering the call to work…  Beauty of the soul…  Catholic community doesn’t look the same for everyone…  Catholics should welcome questions…  Complete Christian (YouTube)…  Delanceyplace: archives / homesecond guessing ourselves (Presence)…  Everything can turn into prayer…  Gift of work…  Go to church, meet annoying people…  Holy Infant: artifacts / history / prayers / stories…  Hospitality: A forgotten virtue…  Lorica of St. Patrick…  Our Lady of Guadalupe…  Photographer on how capturing light is a call from God…  Practice of silence for lay people…  Prayer through work: Sanctify your daily tasks…  Praying with your eyes: How to get started with visio divina…  Scripture speaks: The better part…  South Texas Catholic…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / parishes online / website…    Sts. Cyril & Methodius: about / apostles / church: facebook – website / enlighteners / saints…  Suffering for a reason: Not what Yoda would advise…  We help people because we’re Catholic, not because they’re Catholic…  Who are we to judge

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Building community…  Call of service…  Connected tangents…  Full circle…  Gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Kindred acorns…  On being Christian…  Prayerful messages…  A real church…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Right at home…  St. Jude shrine (Corpus Christi)

Sacred Heart Church

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Yesterday I spent the day at the county courthouse.  Having been assigned to a jury panel on the eighth floor, I took the elevator with mixed anticipation.

Stepping onto the hallway, I turned left and walked to the window.  I wanted to see the roof of the cathedral a few blocks away.  Satisfied, I walked to the opposite end of the hallway nearer the courtroom where I’d be most of the day.  Looking out the window from there, I spotted another beautiful church top and asked, “Does anyone know the name of that church?” but got no response.

After lunch, one of the jurors spoke to me from across the narrow hallway.  “Remember you asked about that church this morning?  It’s Sacred Heart on Comanche Street.”

I smilingly thanked him and decided that, no matter what time we were dismissed, I’d stop by for a visit before heading home.

At the church

SHC31510-45I parked on the side street away from the front entrance.  A woman and her son were getting into their vehicle, so I hurried over to ask if the church was open.

“Unfortunately, the church is locked.  These are different times… not safe to keep churches open at all hours.  But, if you walk in through that gate and through that door,” she said, pointing the way, “you’ll find the chapel.  That’s where we often come to pray.”

“Thank you!”

She looked on until I opened the door to the chapel.

I’d waited six long hours to get there, but I’d been ready since the night before when I’d placed my Coolpix in my tote bag.

Purposeful visit

SHC31510-5Walking into the darkened chapel, I noticed the woman writing in the book of petitions.  She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she never once looked up to see anyone enter.  The man, too, was deeply in prayer.  I did my best not to disturb them, although I did meet the woman, Esmeralda, afterwards when she asked why I was taking photos.

We talked at length about prayer, faith, petitions and praise, and why she visits the chapel.

“I like to be spontaneous.  This morning I got the notion to come here after my doctor’s visit this afternoon, so here I am.”  Esmeralda enjoys the chapel’s quiet peacefulness before returning to her hometown.

“I think God planted that thought in both of us today,” I enthused.

Esmeralda agreed.  She’d wanted a photo of the lifelike Christ icon for some time, so I was glad to oblige.

We exchanged information, and then she asked me to pray for her and for her son.  “My son’s a pharmacist, but he has such a bad case of psoriasis that he can’t get work,” Esmeralda explained.

“I’ll keep both of you in my thoughts and prayers, and I’ll add your names to our church blog’s petitions page.”

We hugged goodbye, and I remained a while longer, finishing the entry I’d started before Esmeralda had approached me.

Treasure trove

I’m always amazed at God’s impeccable timing and his sense of humor.  He leaves me treasures here and there to keep me actively engaged in what I’ve come to call my Easter egg hunt in life.

Yesterday’s time spent at the courthouse led me to Sacred Heart Church.  So, yes.  I found another treasure and got what I wanted, even though the church was locked.

The sneak peek through the glass wall that separates the chapel from the main church was priceless, even though I would’ve wanted to photograph the Stations of the Cross painted on the walls and the arched ceilings.  But I suppose it was God’s way of whetting my appetite until I return there for Mass, take more photos, and discover something— and/or someone— as I did yesterday.

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March 17, 2010

The chapel reminded me of our visit to the San Agustin Cathedral in Laredo, TX.

           

May 10, 2010

Searching for prayers to St. Felix, I came across a very nice tidbit: Visits to Jesus in the Tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament (1898).

August 14, 2011

So far I’ve found depictions of a bereaved Mary holding her beloved son in three sacred spaces: Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church, the Corpus Christi Cathedral, and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral (left to right, respectively).

               

“No created mind, no created heart, no human force is capable of knowing how much love the heart of Mary had for our Lord” (St. Jerome).

June 27, 2017

Most people’s glorious gates of perception creak on rusty hinges.  How much of the splendor of life is wasted on us because we plod along half-blind, half-deaf, with all our senses throttled, and numbed by habituation?  How much joy is lost on us.  How many surprises we miss.  It is as if Easter eggs had been hidden under every bush and we were too lazy to look for them. But it need not be so.  We are able to stop the advance of dullness like the spread of a disease.  We can even reverse the process and initiate healing.  We can deliberately pay attention each day to one smell, one sound which we never appreciated before, to one color or shape, one texture, one taste to which we never before paid attention (David Steindl-Rast in The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life).

Links of interest…  Blessed Virgin Mary…  Finding comfort (booklets as pdf files)…  How to pray the rosary…  Michelangelo: about / sculpture…  Our Lady of Sorrows: beautiful prayer (YouTube) / devotion (YouTube) / devotionals / feast (Sept. 15) / meditations / mystery of comfort and hope / mysteries (YouTube) / novena / of sorrows / prayers / scriptures (YouTube) / seven prayers / seven sorrows…  Pietà: about / art (YouTube) / chapel / depiction / making / names / statue…  Sacred Heart: parish / church

WP posts…   Angels keeping watch…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Concrete abstraction…  Faces of Mary…  Growing pains…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  In the pink…  Historic nuggets…  Living one’s gifts…  Lourdes novenas…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Noon visit…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s church…  Prayerful ways…  Repeated prayers…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Saturday evening Mass…  Seven dwelling places…  Solano, Solanus, Solani…  St. Felix…  St. Monica…  Sweet Jesus

Kindred acorns

If you watched the AFC-NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday, you know that the famous Mannings played on opposite teams.  Each a great quarterback in his own right, Peyton and Eli wowed spectators the entire game.  The brothers played in different halves, so fans doubled their viewing pleasure.  I told Steven that the game was a win-win and cheered for both sides.

Nature, nurture

Still, what’s the attraction for the fans?  Is it that the brothers followed in their dad’s footsteps or that they have a great family dynamic?  I can’t decide which impacted them more.  Nature or nurture?

The Manning brothers are indeed talented and highly regarded in their professional lives.  Moreover, fans love them, even if their public presence is different: Peyton’s commercials exude a comedic flair; Eli’s, focus on purposeful public service.

Also during Sunday’s game, Steven and I got the answer to our big question this season: Is Ronde Barber, cornerback for Tampa Bay, related to the charismatic Tiki, former running back for the NY Giants?

What a hoot to watch Tiki interview his mirror image on the TV screen!  The Barber brothers are identical twins with more than football in common.  Not only do they write books together, but they also host The Barber Shop on Sirius NFL radio.  Tiki and Ronde are equally personable and bright, but Tiki writes children’s books.  Another difference?  Tiki has two sons; Ronde, two daughters.

Although their parents divorced when they were kids, their dad was a star running back; so, again, which influenced them more?  Nature or nurture?

Religious siblings

In the case of the Mannings and the Barbers, the acorns didn’t fall far from the oak, but have you ever pondered the nature-nurture factor among our Catholic saints?

Until a few days ago, I’d only read about one saint, the Little Flower, whose four sisters were nuns, too.

Considering that their mom died when Thérèse, the youngest, was four, one can only imagine the enormity of parenting five daughters, let alone instilling such impeccable Christian values in one’s children.  No wonder Pope Benedict XVI beatified their parents, Marie Zélie and Guérin Martin, in Lisieux on October 19, 2008!

This week the church celebrates the feast days of three siblings: a nun whose twin brother founded the Benedictine Order and two missionary brothers whose linguistic giftedness lit the darkness.  Moreover, among these siblings, Saints Benedict, Cyril, and Methodius share the distinction of being Europe’s co-patrons.

Scholastica

Scholastica (c. 480-543; Feb. 10th), foundress of the Benedictine Sisters, lived about five miles away from her twin brother, Benedict of Nursia, Italy.  Since rules prohibited members of the order from entering each other’s residence, the siblings met halfway between his Monte Cassino monastery and her convent to discuss spiritual matters.

After one such meeting, Scholastica begged Benedict to spend the night so that they could spend more time together, but he refused.  When Benedict learned that Scholastica asked for God’s intervention, he was furious.

How dare she waste God’s time on such a trivial request!

“I asked a favor of you, and you refused it.  I asked it of God, and He has granted it!”

Scholastica died three days later.

In his Dialogues (c. 540-604), St. Gregory the Great wrote that God honored Scholastica’s request because she’d always placed him first in her life; and, as a gift to her brother, God allowed Benedict to witness his twin’s ascent to heaven as a dove.

One has to wonder…  Could Scholastica have sensed her death was near?  Might she have wanted time to talk about heaven with Benedict?  How would he have felt had he not spent the extra time with his sister before her death?

Because of her devotion to God St. Scholastica is known as the saint of right relationships, and she’s also the patroness of convulsive children and nuns.

Scholastica’s Benedictine Sisters seek God through prayer, work, silence, and community.  They believe that silence invites God’s presence and grows their heartfelt efforts for others in the world around them (YouTube, n. d.).

Cyril and Methodius

Unlike the quiet Benedictines, brothers Cyril (Constantine, c. 827) and Methodius (Michael, c. 826) carried the message of Christianity with voiced intent. 

Sons of prominent parents, a Greek father and a Slavic mother, their uncle provided them protection and opportunities when their father died.  Constantine studied in Constantinople where he became a deacon and learned Arabic and Hebrew.  Michael was a government official until he entered the monastery, received the sacraments, and changed his name to Methodius.

In 860, the brothers were sent out as missionaries to prevent Judaism from taking hold in the Khagan, an effort which wasn’t altogether a failure since some of the people embraced Christianity.

On returning home, Constantine became a university professor.

In 862, Constantine and Methodius were invited to preach Christianity in the territories belonging to Great Moravia so that Prince Rastislav could rid his lands of the German missionaries who taught in Latin.

During the next four years, Constantine and Methodius fulfilled their true mission in life through their wholehearted belief that people should practice their faith in their native language.  The brothers’ extraordinary background, education, and multilingual giftedness prepared Constantine and Methodius for their lifetime achievement.  Creating the basis for the Cyrillic alphabet, still used by Russians today, resulted in the Slavic language through which translations of written church materials were possible and future missionaries could teach.  This great feat earned Constantine and Methodius the title of saints, “equal to the apostles” (Orthodox Wiki, 2008),

Around 866, the brothers were summoned to Rome to defend their work.

At that time, Constantine took his monastic vows and changed his name to Cyril.  He died soon after, never returning to Great Moravia where he and Methodius had been made welcome.  Methodius became bishop and then archbishop before being imprisoned and released; but constant opposition debilitated him.

Eventually, however, he returned to Great Moravia and, together with his wife, continued to spread Christianity until his death in 885.

Building community

Like the Pro Bowl athletes, this week’s sibling saints, Scholastica and brothers Cyril and Methodius, appear to have received much support and encouragement from family members and interested others.  Never mind the healthy, although sometimes overwhelming, doses  of discomforting disequilibrium sprinkled along life’s path.

So, which influenced the call to service— nature or nurture?

Realistically, heredity and environment are both to be credited, of course.  The important thing, Christians will say, is that each individual fulfilled his or her mission, respectively, by building community within God’s kingdom.

Prayer

O God, to show us where innocence leads you made the soul of your virgin, Saint Scholastica, soar to heaven like a dove in flight.  Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting.  This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

July 11, 2013

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else” (St. Benedict).

July 11, 2014

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted in order to avoid more easily that which is not” (St. Benedict).

December 28, 2014

If you wish to have pious, good children, you must first of all yourselves be God-fearing and lead good lives.  As the tree, so will the fruit be (St. John Vianney).

December 4, 2015

The first necessity is to find in your soul a respect for your vocation.  Once you have this sense of mission, this sense of dedication to a cause more worthwhile than any purely personal claim, the rest can follow.  Prayer, self-sacrifice, loyalty, perseverance, and in fact the whole list, come spontaneously to the soul who concentrates upon the vocation over the hill.  These virtues come spontaneously…but, of course, this does not mean that they come easily (Dom Hubert van Zeller, Holiness for Housewives and other Working Women).

February 2, 2016

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted in order to avoid more easily that which is not” (St. Benedict).

National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe – Libertyville, IL

Links of interest…  Barber: Identical twins / playmates / Ronde / Tiki…  Benedictine benedictions…  Beatification of St. Thérèse’s parents (more)…  Benedictine Sisters (video)…  Catholicism & baseball: Lessons to teach…  Chapel of the patron saints of Europe…  Genetics are not as predictive as we might think…  Manning: book / Cooper / Eli / Peyton / weirdly alike…  Pope Benedict…  Pro Bowl…  Sisters of St. Benedict (IN):  Monday messages / prayer requests / stories / virtual tour / ways of prayingwebsite…  Society of the Little Flower…  St. Benedict: joyful aging / luminous star of history / option for today / spirit of community / St. Thérèse: Father & child / three things to know about his medal…  St. Scholastica: about (more) / Benedict’s sister (twin) / book / feast (Feb 10) / icon (more) / litany / stories…  Sts. Cyril & Methodius: about (more) / apostles / (more) / brothers / co-patrons / death (Cyril) / enlighteners / feast (more – more) / July 7 / love & evangelism / memorial / origin & ethnicity / patron saints / prayer (more – readings – vocations) / profile (more) / veneration…  What was Old Church Slavic…  What would Cyril & Methodius do

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Church doctors…  Disquieting moments
Gift of love…  Revisiting St. Simon…  Sacred Heart Church…  St. Benedict’s