Category Archives: Spiritual ponderings

Our Hearts Cry Out: A Response to Newtown Shootings

Yesterday, I was standing in line for Confession before Mass started, trying to complete my Examination of Conscience.  As I did, the names of the victims of the Newtown school shootings were read, as a bell tolled for each one of those souls. Twenty-six souls, twenty-six times the bell tolled for each one.  It struck me, especially juxtaposed to the examination of my Conscience — which arguably seems a slightly used and even slighter formed faculty these days.

I’ve not added more “noise” on the subject of school shootings for good reason, until now, as there’s been more than enough already; but, that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought, prayed, grieved, and done considerable soul searching.  Down in Texas, when my husband and I heard of the news of 26 lives slain in such a horrific and blatant attack on the innocent and defenseless, we held each other and cried.  As we’ve been trying to start our own family, it hits us very hard to see the world that we want to bring new life into with slight to little decaying moral fabric intact.  We are all aware that these are tough times, and at some point I’m sure we all question how much worse it will become before it gets better.

Politicians, Media, the NRA – they all so quickly say what the “problem” is and what laws or changes need to happen to address it.  But, the sad thing is, so many point to the symptom of the problem, and not the actual root of the problem.  The scriptures and moral Theology and Philosophy tell us that no object is evil in and of itself — it is our fallen nature and inclinations from the human heart that all too often tend towards evil.

Magnum

What does that tell us? The gun and access to it is unfortunately not the biggest problem we have. It is addressing what is in the hearts of people. And that, friends, is a much bigger and challenging problem to tackle.  No law from man can change the human heart–only God’s laws–which would be his teachings and specifically the 10 Commandments.

Yes, the good ol’ 10 Commandments.  Today, the Commandments may mainly (and unfortunately) be known as the things prohibited from being displayed in public.  That’s certainly making our nation a better place now, isn’t it? While some people view them only as a set of antiquated negatives – “thou shalt not this” and “thou shalt not that” – I have learned a bit of their ancient wisdom. God’s laws aren’t meant to cut off our freedom and suppress us like human laws can; no, they are meant to guide us into the best form of freedom – where we are not enslaved by our passions or inclinations towards evil!!

In prayer this morning, I asked the Lord what more can we do, besides have our hearts cry out, send money and gifts, and pray for the families and community of Newtown. In morning prayer today, this scripture spoke to me:

“It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Cast off the deeds of darkness. The more people try to push God, the light in the darkness, out of public places – especially schools – the more the darkness spreads. How does God say we combat that? Put on the armor of light. Armor is defined as coverings formerly worn by soldiers to protect the body in battle. Light can most basically be defined as transmitting a reflection of God’s light. We must cover ourselves in God’s light and love, and transmit it to others.

One more thought from Proverbs 12:20

“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.”

It doesn’t say create an arsenal and have everyone pack heat.  It tells us to become promoters of peace. Am I saying that a gun should never be used to protect someone? No. But is that the answer that will solve all of our problems? Is it? Think about it… I sure have been.

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Leaving Everything Behind

The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (1602), painting by the Italian master Caravaggio

Happy feast of St Matthew, apostle and evangelist!  There aren’t many instances where Matthew is written about in the scriptures, although he did author the first book in the New Testament.  We do know that Matthew was a Jew from Cana, working for the occupying Roman forces as a Tax Collector, later known as “publicans”. As Romans were not concerned about what publicans took as their own cut from an already excessive tax, they were generally despised–second to executioners–by their fellow Jews.

While on the Mediterranean Damascus road along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus first encountered Matthew.  Walking by, Jesus saw something in this ‘notorious sinner’, and simply invited him — “follow me.”  What happened next was almost as shocking as Jesus asking this outcast to become one of his apostles…Matthew arose, decided to leave everything behind, and followed Him.

Matthew didn’t tell Jesus to hang on, while he left to go and wrap up a few loose ends.  And it didn’t say that Jesus sat and talked with him for bit or performed any miracles.  It was a simple “call and respond” scenario, and Matthew just got up and followed him.  Can you imagine how scandalous it would’ve appeared when Jesus called such a man to follow him, especially by the Pharisees–who would not even sit at the same table as a Tax Collector?

Jesus knew what they the Pharisees were thinking and muttering under their breath.  “How could this great teacher associate Himself and His ministry with such an immoral person?”

I love how Jesus responded to their indignation:

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13).

Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  The Catechism tells us that “outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice: ‘The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit. . . .’ The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor” (CCC 2100).  Jesus was not denouncing ritual and worship; but, He was saying that loving our neighbors is more important still.

A simple yet sincere act of love from Jesus, asking Matthew to follow Him, completely changed this “enemy of the country”.  Since that time, I can only imagine how many people have also experienced the mercy of God through the Gospel according to Matthew.

One pure act of love can change everything.

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Too Much Noise

Flip the news on in the morning while getting ready.
Put the radio on in the car while driving to work.
Listen to playlists while at work.
Have HGTV running in the background while making dinner.
Workout to a “buns of steel” playlist while reading the subtitles on the TV monitors at the gym.
Work on the couch with a movie milling in the background.
Sleep with my Hubby’s white noise playing from his phone.

I admit that I infuse a lot of “noise” into my day.  One Lent a couple of years back, I asked God what I should focus on and he said I needed less noise, to have more silence.  I needed to listen, to “create space” to hear Him.  I was reminded of that same message again this week – so I created this little piece of art featured here to remind myself just that (I’m just learning how/toying around with Illustrator, so it’s still a work in progress).

Silence will teach us a lot.  It will teach us to speak with Christ and to speak joyfully to our brothers and sisters.  – Mother Teresa

While we were chilling and watching TV, I noticed something wrong with a friend this week.  When I asked what was wrong, there was not much of a response.  But I knew there was something wrong. I asked again…vague answer.  I turned off the noise.  I prayed silently, “Help me get the root of what is bothering my friend.”

It came. “Mary wants to help you. She asked that we just pray a decade of the Rosary together.”

While we prayed, my friend’s heart began to melt.  Tears streaming down his face, he confided what was weighing on him – something recently discovered about himself that made him feel ashamed.

I listened. I loved. He thanked me – as if we had not stopped and prayed, who knows how long that would have lingered below the surface.

And I thanked Our Lady – because I knew it was her at work, through prayer and in the silence, and not me.

Joy in the Everday: An Inspiring Story

When I was living in Louisiana several years ago, I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Puerto Rico with a group of about 40 people and 2 priests.  A big part of that amazing spiritual journey involved getting to know Carlos M. Rodriguez, “Charlie”, who is the is the first Puerto Rican to be declared “Blessed” by the Church.

In November of 1918, Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico – a large town in a valley encircled by mountains.  He was the second of five children in a tight-knit Catholic family.  He endured a great hardship already by the age of six, when a fire destroyed not only his father’s small-goods store but also their family home.  Yet, that fire that took nearly all the family’s earthly possessions is credited with helping Charlie discover his love for spiritual things.  He would often say, “The Lord shall provide…we’ll see.”  I love that he “played Mass” with his sisters, just like my brother and did I when we were young.

At the age of thirteen, he attempted to protect his infant cousin from a neighbor’s vicious dog — the stress of which is believed to have triggered his lifelong affliction with Ulcerative Colitis.  Suffering continuously with an “upset stomach”(as he would call it) it often interfered with his schooling and his desire to serve God as a priest; still, he never lost his good-natured disposition and was a brillant student. Not allowing his health issues to hold him back, he educated himself in all subjects, including music – even learning to play sacred music on the piano and organ.

Traveling in his hometown of Caguas, this Servant of God came to life for me and my fellow Pilgrims as we heard stories about him–even from his sister.  There were many things about Blessed Charlie that I really admire and connect with, most especially that he is considered the “Joyful Lay Apostle”. He was an ordinary lay person who loved to make people happy, had a deep love for God and His Church, and spent everyday doing Christ’s work with joy.

Visiting the Cathedral where he was baptized and his remains are now kept, Cathedral Dulce Nombre de Jesús (Sweet Name of Jesus), I discovered his love for Christ and His Resurrection through his celebratory approach to the Easter vigil. “VIVIMOS PARA ESA NOCHE ” or “we live for this night” he would say.

“To approach Carlos Manuel and to getting to know him was as if to approach a light that illuminated one’s perspective of life and its meaning. His glance and smile revealed the certain joy of Easter. An enormous spiritual strength transcended his fragile physical constitution. The firm conviction of his faith allowed him to overcome his natural shyness, and he spoke with assurance resembling Saint Peter’s on Pentecost. Despite his failing health for so many years, no complaints ever clouded the joy with which he faced life. He reminded us that the Christian must be joyful because he or she lives the joy and hope that Christ gave with His Resurrection,” according to The Vatican.

With a deep love for the Liturgy, Charlie wanted to encourage a better and fuller participation in what he felt were the treasures of the Church.  Knowing that many students can lose their faith during the latter part of their schooling, he spent most of his short life focused on that mission. He taught CCD, led discussion clubs and Liturgical Circles, and published “Liturgical and Christian Culture” — spending much of his own money to fund these efforts.

I remember seeing the only pair of (worn out) shoes he owned as an adult, and it was evident that he did not care about possessions or making money. As was the custom, we left notes with our petitions by his shoes, asking Charlie for prayers.

In July of 1963, at the age of 44, he lost his battle to intestinal Cancer.  “It rains when a saint dies,” the old saying goes.  On that Saturday when his brother, a Benedictine Priest, celebrated his funeral Mass, the sun was bright and clear.  “Its heat beat down on the little Puerto Rican church where the hope of the Resurrection was preached for one who lived the joy of Easter.  The funeral of Carlos Rodriguez closed with a sudden rainstorm that almost halted the burial.” (Source: Faces of Holiness: Modern Saints in Photos and Words by Ann Ball).

In these times, it brings hope to see what people may have simply considered a shy, sickly man do so much good.  Blessed Charlie, pray for us! 

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The Dignity of our Work

Work is a good thing for man–a good thing for his humanity–because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfilment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being’.”

– Blessed John Paul II, Laborem Exercens

Labor Day has rolled around way too quickly once again, hasn’t it?  That day on which we eat BBQ garnished with bits of end-of-summer-sadness, and the date marker after which to stow your white wearables, right?   Well, if those were the only two things on your radar this holiday, you may need a little inspiration.   The labor movement created Labor Day more than 100 years ago, dedicating it to the social and economic achievements of American workers. “It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country” according to the US Department of Labor.

But our work is more than just a means of earning “our daily bread”.  According to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on Human Work, our work–in whatever form it takes “contribute(s) to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family.”

For more inspiration about the dignity of work, add Laborem Exercens, to your reading list!  It will not disappoint.

ImageIn honor of working people everywhere today, take a break, and celebrate the fruit of our labors.

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Serenity: The other Half of the Story

I take it by now that everyone is pretty familiar with the Serenity Prayer, right? You know:

This prayer is attributed to a theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, and often is associated with many 12-step programs.  Looking at the original prayer, most of us don’t realize that we are only familiar with the first half.  The rest of it is:

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
AMEN.

I think so many people relate to this prayer because it directly speaks to the areas that we struggle with the most:

ACCEPTANCE

SURRENDER

TRUST

Amidst the political brouhaha of today — such as this weeks CEOs of Chick-Fil-A vs. Amazon and the like, the part that particularly speaks to me is:

“Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.”

I am thankful for the promise that He will make all things right, because people of faith really need to hold onto that right about now.  So God, I’m gonna keep trying to work on my part of acceptance, surrender, and trust and let you work on Yours.  Oh, and thanks in advance for always forgiving me the many times that I fall short!

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To Trust or not to Trust

The past couple of weeks have been presenting a number of situations, both at work and at home, with friends or personally, that all really boils down to one thing: TRUST.  Trust is a big action packed into a little word.

According to my Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment results (a great resource, I might add), my #1 strength is that I am strategic. So, if you are anything like me, you make a plan and then go from there.  Plans are useful, good, help us achieve goals, and allow us to measure progress.  But the flip side of is that sometimes I can place my confidence in the plan and not in the big Planner, God. There are many things in life that we just can’t plan for or aren’t prepared for — that’s where trust comes in. Trust Jesus

I went back to one of my favorite spiritual reads this afternoon, “He and I“. The book is a compilation of the writings of Gabrielle Bossis, a single French actress, and a beautiful dialog between her and the Lord. This is one of the things He said to her about trust:

“Awaken your trust in My omnipotence.  This is what honors Me.  It can change the face of the earth when it is matched with the feeling of your nothingness.  Remember the centurion.”

The centurion He was referring to is from Luke, chapter 7.  The centurion’s servant was deathly ill, so he sent some of the elders of the Jews to ask Jesus to come and heal this man.  Moved by this, Jesus went with them.

Something changed for the centurion, though, for as they drew nearer. He sent friends with another message:  “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.  Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.  For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

And then comes the really good part.  The scripture says that upon hearing that, “Jesus marveled at him.”  I love to imagine saying something to the Lord that would fill him with such wonder — so much so, that he said to the crowd, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

When they returned to the house, they found the servant had been healed.

The centurion had a plan: Get Jesus to come and heal my servant.  As his plan started to unfold, and he became more and more aware of his unworthiness, he laid it out before Jesus.

And the Lord honored that.

And He still honors that today, when we say those same words at the Mass before we receive Him in Communion.  Help our trust be bigger than our plans, Lord.  Amen!

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Reflecting on Good Friday

We see crosses everywhere — a charm on a necklace, printed on a T-shirt, on the Altar, hanging on a wall…etc. Such a commonplace “item” today, it all too often has lost the impact of what Christ really bore for our sins. However today presents a beautiful opportunity. To remember, to meditate, to mourn, to be grateful. For this is the day, this is the day when Christ laid down his life for ours.

May we too enter into the Lord’s passion, so that we can experience the glory of His Resurrection. I pray that these gathered reflections will bring you deeper into the mystery of Good Friday and the knowledge of the ransom paid for our sins. (Word of Caution: Some of this material is intensely descriptive of the violent acts Christ endured. Not for the faint of heart.)

His Sufferings

By this point in time, our Lord has already been betrayed by his friend, arrested, deserted by all his followers, examined by the Roman Governor, wrongly condemned to death on a Cross, and denied by Peter. The first part of His suffering, the agony, was extreme mental suffering. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that we cannot compare how we experience suffering to that of Christ, since in addition to having human intelligence, He also had Divine intelligence. Also, His “physical organism” was as perfect as any could be, so “it was much more sensitive to pain than our human nature, which has been calloused by crude emotions and evil experiences.” Now we come to the second part of His suffering – the torture of both His body and soul, which ended with His death. Combined, these sufferings constituted the “baptism wherewith I am to be baptized” (Lk 12:50).

The Scourging

Flagrum, like what was used during the Scourging

Pilate, then, took Jesus and had him scourged.” – Jn 19:1 The gruesome details of the scourging were left out in John’s Gospel. Another physician, Dr. Pierre Barbet, also a devout Catholic, wrote a riveting book called A Doctor at Calvary. In it, he “relied heavily on his close analysis of the Holy Shroud of Turin to recreate every stage of the Passion with heart-rending precision and detail.” On the scourging, this is what the Dr. Barbet relays: Jesus was bound to a column, probably with his hands above his head. They used a crude instrument, the flagrum, which was comprised of a short handle with several long, thick thongs attached. Near the end of each thong, ‘tali’ were inserted, which were balls of lead or small sheep bones. This tortuous device was designed to not only cut the skin with the thongs, but also dig deep wounds with the tali. Not one, but two executioners – one on each side – carried out the scourging. On the Shroud of Turin, there are more then 100, perhaps 120, marks from the shoulders to the lower parts of the legs. If there were two thongs, this means that Jesus received about 60 strokes apart from those which have no mark.

The Crowning of Thorns

St. Alphonsus de Liguori wrote The Passion of Jesus Christ. In it, he described the sufferings derived from the crown of thorns placed upon Jesus’ head. The Shroud of Turin shows evidence that it covered the whole head, shaped as a helmet rather then a wreath. This would have been driven against His head by blows with a stick. Considering the head is the most sensitive part of the body – with all the nerves and sensations of the body diverging from it – our Lord suffered extreme pain in this torture that lasted up until his death. What else of the Crown of Thorns has been revealed to other Saints?

  • To St. Lawrence Giustiniani & St. Peter Damian, that the thorns were so long that they penetrated even to the brain.
  • To Blessed Agatha of the Cross, “He very often closed His eyes, and uttered piercing sighs, like those of a person about to die.”
  • To St. Bridget, “So many streams of blood rushed down over His face and filled His hair and eyes and beard that he seemed to be nothing but one mass of blood.”
  • To St. Vincent of Lerins, the affirmation that Our Lord’s head received 70 wounds

Carrying of the Cross

When presented with the Cross, what reaction did Our Lord have? St. Thomas of Villanova said:

But Jesus did not wait for the executioner to place the cross on his shoulders. Of his own accord he stretched out his hands and eagerly laid hold of it and placed it on his wounded shoulders. Come, he says, come, beloved cross! It is now 33 years that I have been sighing and searching for you. I embrace you, I clasp you to my heart, for you are the altar on which I shall sacrifice my life out of love for my flock.

Dr. Barbet filled in what it meant when “Jesus carried his cross.” He carried the horizontal part of the cross, the patibulum, which weighed approximately 125 lbs for 600 yards from the Pretorium to Golgotha. It was carried against the nape of the neck, with arms stretched out and bound to it so that He could give no resistance. The marks on the Shroud can only be explained by the scraping of the beam against the back, which was more poignant during each of His falls.

Nailing to the Cross

The cloth Jesus had worn was stripped away, also tearing open the wounds that had firmly been stuck to it. Although the Scripture’s literal translation were that his hands were nailed to the cross, the dragging of the body would have probably torn the skin. So the 1/3″ thick, long, square yet pointed nails were likely driven in the middle of each wrist. There was only one hole from the nail wound in the feet. It must have been driven in through the back of the feet, a much easier passage.

Words from the Cross

Our Lord spoke only seven times from the Cross, so they are appropriately called His Seven Last Words. The one that had caused me to be perplexed was what he cried out in the 9th hour. “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” – Mt. 27:46, Mk. 15:34. I used to wonder, “How could the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, have felt abandoned by His Father?” It was more then just repeating the Psalm of David, written a thousand years before, prophetically referring to Him (Psalm 21:13-19). Archbishop Sheen explained:

Sin has spiritual effects such as a sense of abandonment, separation from God, loneliness. This particular moment He willed to take upon Himself that principle effect of sin which was abandonment. It was not that His human nature was separated from His Divine nature; that was impossible…in taking upon Himself the sins of the world He willed a kind of withdrawal of His Father’s face and all Divine consolation. …the moment when leaning on nails He stood at the brink of hell in the name of all sinners. Christ’s cry was of abandonment which He felt in standing in a sinner’s place, but it was not of despair. The soul that despairs never cries to God…The greatest mental agony in the world, and the cause of many psychic disorders, is that minds and hearts are without God. Such emptiness would never have a consolation, if He had not felt all of this as His own. There is hope (the end of that Psalm is one of victory).

Piercing of the Side

“But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” – Jn 19:34. “The blow of the lance which was given to the right side reached the right auricle of the heart, perforating the pericardium – it was therefore not just a wound to the side, but one in his heart,” Dr. Barbet described. The blood came from the heart, the what appeared as water was the pericardial fluid.

Death on the Cross

The specific cause of Christ’s death was asphyxia, or suffocation. The positioning of the body on the cross made it hardly possible to breathe: The whole weight of the body dragged on his hands above him, and with his arms raised, it created a relative immobility of the sides which greatly hindered exhaling. Dr. Barbet likened what happened within His body — the contracting of the muscles to rigidity and the lungs filling with air which could not escape — to strangulation. The only way He could have escaped for a few moments from the battle for air was to try and lift His body upwards, using His feet for support.

In God’s mercy, the story does not end here. “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” – Is 53:5. As we await the celebration of His Resurrection still, I will leave you to continue to meditate on the price He paid for you. A blessed Good Friday to you, friend.

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The Power of Kindness

We can never fully grasp, until heaven, how what we do or say has impacted another’s life.  Is anything greater than even small acts of kindness shown to someone truly in need?

Fridays I don’t work in the office.  So yesterday my BFF/MoH, Kelli, and I decided to go to St. Monica’s midday to pray together after our needed long talk and brunch at La Madeleine.  That’s right, take it to the Source.

It didn’t take God long to bring two weary souls to us, in two completely different forms.  We all have needs, but sometimes have to expose them to someone who we do not know.

The first was an elderly homeless man, that is at least what was ascertained by his appearance.  A couple of rows ahead of us in the Adoration Chapel he sat, hunched over and head down resting on a bony, age-spot speckled hand.  Plaid shirt was dirty, lack of proper hygiene was apparent, beard was long and full, disheveled grey hair matted in a ponytail.

He began coughing, and couldn’t stop.  I was looking for a Halls or something in my purse to offer – shoot, only gum.  I showed it to Kelli – “no” she shook her head.

Um….what else….uh, water in the car?  But I had already opened and sipped it. “No,” again.

Kelli asked if I had $5.00 to give him.  I told her that I thought I had spent my last cash on Brunch, but opened my wallet still.  There sat a lone $5 bill.  She knew it, and it found a new home in that moment.

We moved outside to the beautiful Prayer Garden.  It was sunny, warm, breezy – just perfect.  We hadn’t been chatting for too long before the second encounter happened. A very troubled teenage boy, Anthony, came to us.  I could see it in his eyes that things were not right in his life.

He asked, “Miss, do you have a cell phone that I could use?  I just got kicked out of my cousin’s house.  I’ve been walking a long way, and I’m trying to find my Grandfather’s house, but I can’t exactly remember the way…”

I looked intently at him, trying to figure out if he could be trusted.  He needed help is what I gathered, and my cell phone was a small way to provide that.

“What is the number?”  I asked.

He gave his Mom’s phone number to me.  Then I asked for his name and hers.

I spoke to her for a moment, letting her know that her son was there at St. Monica’s Church.  I then passed off the phone to Anthony, and he briefly spoke to her.

He expressed his gratitude as he handed the phone back to me.  He then asked Kelli and I if we were Methodist.

“No, we are Catholic.  St. Monica’s is a Catholic Church.”

“Oh, I was born that too, I think.”

“Catholic?”

“Uh, yeah, I think so.  Or is it Christian?  I don’t know.”

“We are Christian too.  And Catholic,” we responded.  Funny how he blurted out a thought that many believe is in fact mutually exclusive…

I felt compelled to tell him that my Grandpa’s name was Anthony.

He smiled, “Really?”

“Yes, it was.  He passed away back in 1996.”

“I’m sorry, Miss,” he responded.

“That’s OK, he’s been in a better place,” said I.

Kelli let him know that there was a Chapel right there through “those” doors, and Jesus was there.  He said that he had just been in there praying, and that he had a lot of problems in his life right now.

“We will pray for you, Anthony,” we assured him.

“Thank you.  Thank you,” he said as he walked towards the parking lot to find his Mother.  Kindness

How humbling to see Christ in another, and for them to possibly see Him in you – if you allow it.  May the sharing of these simple stories about the power of kindness inspire and challenge you to find new ways to show it not only to those that you know, but those that you do not know.

My friend says that there are no strangers in Christ – we are all children of God.  And that is how she lives her life.  How do you live yours?

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Venerable Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

Only three more days between us and Divine Mercy Sunday.  That also means that the day that our beloved Pope John Paul II’s Beatification in Rome also lies just around the bend. Many of wish we could be physically be there, but there are other ways to join in on the celebration.

In my work at CCC of America, our team has been working hard on launching the re-release of a special 4-disc documentary series, John Paul II:  The Man, The Pope and His Message.  It will be an awesome resource for all ages, especially since it will have curriculum and other extras to guide discussions!  The release date has not been firmly established, but we are all working hard and are beyond excited about distributing this 5-hour, 10 volume series of intimate moments captured by famed Italian Journalist, Alberto Michelini, and his special arrangements through the Vatican. It is a moving tribute to a true hero that I was incredibly blessed to have met at Mass in his Private Chapel in 1997.

I wanted to pass along a prayer that I was commissioned to write at work for the website we are working on for the Documentary Series.  I thought it may help us all prepare for his Beatification. If you would be so kind as to remember also our efforts to get this special edition ready and out in order to spread his message – we would be indebted for the prayer support, thanks!

Here is the prayer.  I hope it will bear fruit in all of our lives:

PRAYER FOR THE INTERCESSION OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

Trusting in the mercies of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we approach the throne of grace asking for Pope John Paul II to intercede on our behalf.  May his example inspire faith, hope, and charity in our hearts and those around us, since during his time on earth he truly mirrored the Good Shepherd to the Church.

Help us live out his message to “be not afraid,” in word and in deed.  May we follow his lead of “putting out into the deep”, and never grow weary of showing compassion to those in need.  Move within us, increasing our desire to contemplate the face of Christ as he faithfully did.

Advocate of building a culture of life through art and media, through your intercession, please allow us to be vessels of truth to future generations.

Blessed Mother, we consecrate ourselves a new to you this day.  As he entrusted his petitions to your maternal care, we do the same now.  Mary, protect us and guide us to your Son.

Grant us, though the intercession of your servant Pope John Paul II, the graces which we now implore (mention request).  May Your will be done in and through us.

AMEN

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