Uuuuugh. I've attempted writing things out numerous times, and every time I felt like an angry freight train slamming into a brick wall. I got NOWHERE.
A strange thing happened the last time I attempted, though. I asked the Holy Spirit to guide my words. Since I obviously can't get my ire across coherently, I figured a Divine Boost was necessary.
Alright, Holy Spirit, I'm ready. Give me the words that'll make him realize just how much he screwed up!
I didn't pray those exact words, but I'm pretty sure those were my sentiments.
God answered, but not in the way I was expecting. Instead, I got a quick tap on the shoulder and a chiding that went something like this:
I didn't put you on this earth to be my scourge; I put you on this earth to be my beacon. I've never asked you to punish as I punish, but to love as I love... to forgive as I forgive.
*Insert major whining.*
But Gooooood, c'mon. You know as well as I do that he needs to be set straight. Use me to do it! I can do it! C'mon! Just tell me what to say!
That's about the time images of giant redwood trees being wedged in my eyes started dancing before me.
Stupidly, I still persisted:
How am I supposed to forgive him when he obviously sees nothing wrong with what he's doing... what he's done!
Ask Jesus. He forgave you in the midst of crucifixion knowing you'd be hanging out in the Confessional 70 x 7 times for the same set of sins.
Silence, then. I guess He was letting that one sink in a bit.
Finally, He continued:
Again, I ask that you show him mercy - My Mercy. Show him love - My Love. Show him that which will draw him closer to Me so that, in My Time, I can correct that which needs correcting. I am his Father - not you. I'm asking that you bring Me to him since he cannot bring himself to Me.
I shamefully admit that I whined some more.
Nooooo, God! That's too hard. I want him to know exactly how frustrated and upset I am about this entire situation! I want him to know that this situation needs to stop because I don't want it affecting Vincent. There's gotta be a better way.
I don't know if this was God or my guardian angel stepping in, but I instantly shivered when I thought of coming to know precisely how frustrated and upset I made God with my litany of sins. I physically shivered. I didn't even need the words. The thought was enough to shut me up.
Okay, okay. So I don't go with the fire and brimstone. I'm still stuck, though. How do I start this whole forgiveness message?
Within a few minutes, it was done.
Moral of the story: Jesus modeled love and forgiveness for us. THAT was the example He gave us to follow. He didn't show us how to smite Sodom, how to set a plague upon Egypt or even how to rain condemnation on adulterers. Jesus showed us love. Jesus showed us mercy. The marvel is that He still shows us this love and mercy today; not just in the Confessional or Tabernacle, but in one another.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us...
I was honored to attend a beautiful wedding this past weekend. I was asked by this couple to do a blessing before the meal in addition to a reading at the ceremony.
Now, before any traditionalists reading start wagging their heads, relax. These two didn't get married in a Church, so I didn't set off any atom bombs by making my way to the pulpit.
However, when I was trying to write out the blessing, my friend poked over my shoulder and said, "Are you even allowed to do that?"
I laughed and said, "I'm not trying to preside over the marriage, if that's what you're asking. I was asked to lead prayer before lunch. You say grace before meals, right? This is exactly the same, only it's in front of a bunch of people there to tie one on in honor of the marriage."
He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. I think he was somewhat scandalized that anyone but a minister would be asked to do such a thing. The fact that I - someone he related to as a "super traditionalist" - would consent to do something so "modern" threw him for a loop. So I explained it again.
"Mothers are called upon to bless their children. Friends bless one another through prayers and works of charity. Wives can bless their husbands. Priests aren't the only ones capable of speaking words of blessing. I mean, when someone sneezes, should I keep my mouth shut because I don't have the proper anatomy?"
There is a difference between attempting to play priest by offering the words of consecration (or even the blessing of the Church) and being a loving friend who offers words of blessing before their wedding luncheon.
In that analogy, he finally understood. I wasn't doing anything improper because I wasn't attempting to inflate my position. It was a simple leading of prayer - and I say "leading" because my words were likely those that were on the hearts of many present (my atheist husband not included - ha).
So while composing this prayer, I felt I should keep two things in mind: the Truth of Marriage (it being a sacramental gift that calls us to emulate God) and gratitude for both the meal and the couple, themselves. This is what I came up with:
Let us begin as we should all things...
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Lord, we thank You for this feast. Moreso, we thank You for the couple that this feast celebrates. Their sacramental marriage is a reflection of You - unifying, creative, self-sacrificing and unconditional. Thus, we thank You for joining together S** and B**** so that their love can forever be a beacon of Your Love.
We ask that you bless this meal, for it is through this meal that we all partake of their joy. Bless our drinks which we raise in their honor. Finally, bless all of us present here today - expectant witnesses of the multiplication of love their marriage has already brought forth and will continue to bring forth for years to come. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.
Pretty non-heretical, right? So yes - a woman can most certainly bless. We are called to. A blessing is not simply the words of Consecration. A blessing can be listening to an upset friend, offering a ride to your coworker who just missed her bus, or even leading Grace before a wedding feast.
Words cannot even begin to express their heartbreak and sadness. Doctors have cautioned them that little Ben has only days left on this earth. So while they are comforted that he will soon be in Heaven with Jesus, their hearts are crushed to know that they must go forth without his smile, his laugh, his curiosity and his physical presence.
If tears were prayers, I'd have an ocean of supplication on his behalf... on his mother's behalf... on his father's behalf. No doubt the true can be said - moreso - for Andy and Mindy, Ben's loving parents.
Please join your prayers with mine for this family.
Blessed Mother, who understood this pain so acutely, please gather them under your mantle. Soothe their hearts with a legion of angels and protect them from despair. Send your Son to comfort them with His Mercy and Peace. Amen.
UPDATE: Sweet little Ben has flown off with Jesus. Please continue to keep this family wrapped tightly in prayer.
As I told my friend, allow your tears to flow freely. It is a work of mercy to cry with your brother and sisters. I truly believe that God gifted humanity empathy so we could share each other's grief. One person cannot cry the tears that mourn a child lost. Through our own empathy, however, we are able to share the grief and ease the burden on this heartbroken, grieving family.
Your tears are a gift. Never be afraid or ashamed to gift them freely.
Joseph of Egypt and St. Joseph
[Joseph of Egypt] was the prototype of our Joseph. As [Joseph of Egypt] had been loved more than all the other children by his father, so our Joseph was loved by God the Father more than any other male creature, since He had predestined him to be the father of His Incarnate Word and the spouse of the Mother of the Son of God. Joseph of Egypt was invested by his father in a costly garment; our Joseph was adorned by the Heavenly Father with sanctifying grace...
St. Joseph as Protector of the travelling Holy Family
Oh how sad and disconsolate Joseph would become, because of Jesus and Mary! He would attempt to arrange his cloak as a roof over their heads. The Saint managed to do this with such love and skillfulness, that it seemed to Them, They were actually in a tiny hut.
St. Joseph Called "Father" by Jesus for the 1st Time
Upon seeing Joseph, He called out to him: "Father!" and then flung Himself into his arms and caressed him with His tiny hands.
These are my in-laws. I love them both. Ridiculous amounts. I always have. I've always respected their love for each other and their family. I've learned a lot about marriage just from watching them interact. I've learned a lot about John that way, too, let me tell ya. He's got so many traits that he shares with his Dad that watching his mom interact with her husband has given me a few ideas how to go about interacting with John.
Anyway, given the incredibly emotional coaster this family has been on the last few weeks, I've been dying to see them and just hug them close. Natural circumstances prevented this, but when we DID finally see each other, I was so happy to just physically hug them. However, Dad wasn't too keen on any sort of emotional exchange. He was probably too drained from grieving Uncle Billy and worrying over his mother's rapidly declining health. Also, given his status as the leader of the family, he took upon himself the responsibility of shouldering the fear and anxiety of his brothers and sister.
Oh, how my heart breaks for him. He always takes on so much responsibility. But again, it's something I deeply respect him for. He goes out of his way to make things easier for his family, but at such personal sacrifice.
However, he doesn't like to let on that his strength wavers, too. Instead of reaching out, he'll vent in short, off-the-cuff ways. I want so much to help him, but I can't just say, "Dad, I love you. Punch the wall and yell at me if it'll make you feel better."
I'd love to, mind you, but I can't. He'd never let on that he's hurting, and I would never make things worse by letting on that I know.
But I still want to support him. So I'm supporting him the best way I know how - through his wife, my mother-in-law.
In the car on the way back from Uncle Billy's funeral, my FIL had to make a tough decision. My MIL said something that I pray will stick with me until my final days.
My FIL had to decide if he'd go away for a few days on business or if he'd stay behind in case Nanny passed away. He asked my MIL what she thought, and her response was beautiful. She basically said she would go wherever he decided because no matter what, she wanted to be with HIM when and if he got news about Nanny.
It was then that I realized I could support him by supporting her. She was, is and always will be, his rock. They are incredibly blessed to have found one another.
She knows her place is with him so that she can support him in any way that she can. She wants to be there, holding his hand, letting him cry, even letting him get mad at her so he could, in some tiny way, vent the torrent of emotion eating away at his heart.
I actually teared up when she said that. It was so loving... so perfect... that is what I want my response to be to John always. Whatever you decide, I will stand by you. I will be with you because that is where I need to be. I want you to know that you will always have me to lean on.
Such love. Such incredible, faithful love.
So I made it my personal mission to support him by supporting her. Since she'll be bearing the weight of the world in conjunction with him, I can lend my assistance to her. I might not be able to reach my FIL the way I'd like, but I can reach my MIL, and if she's a little less stressed and a little more rested, she can be a better support for him.
I love these two immensely. I really do. I wish I could do something to magically wave a wand and make life perfect again, but we all must endure this valley of tears. Thankfully, God gifted us families so we could walk this valley together and not alone.
"Turn then, oh Most Gracious Advocate, thine eyes of Mercy towards us, and after this, our Exile, show unto us the Blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus."
Please keep them in your prayers. Nanny, too.
When the pain of loss seems too great to bear, and when the grief comes coursing in to crush the very breath from your lungs, fix your eyes on the Blessed Mother as she gazes upon her Son, gasping away His Life for love of us.
Allow the tears to come. Offer your tears together with hers... hers that shine like diamonds and are collected by the angels as tokens of mercy.
Accept the emptiness as it threatens to swallow you. Allow the weight of desolation to shatter your heart - your very soul - but do not despair.
For where God destroys, He creates. These mournful remains can thus rejoice and offer themselves as ready sacrifice for the new Life that comes in their place.
"I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you." Ez. 36:26
Blessed Mother, be my strength. I am having a really, really hard time accepting Myla's absence right now.
That television show... it was as if I was being pinned to a surgical table to have my heart sliced open by a scalpel.
But I see, I see. The tears wash away the clutter from my eyes, and the crushing grief just reminds me that I have something left to offer. It is yours... the pain and tears that echo softly your own. Tender Mother, hold her for me. Hold her and tell her all the things that I never got the chance to say. Allow her to be the delight of your Son since she could not be the delight of mine. Bring her often to see her Father so that He can tell her about the Daddy she left behind. Guide me daily with Vincent so that I can be worthy of meeting her one day.
Grief, folks. It still exists. Every day. Sometimes you're granted respite. Sometimes you're asked to experience it more keenly. But it's always there.
That is at it should be. There can be no grief if there is not, first, love. And love is forever.
And love, Myla Therese, is exactly what you were created by.
My husband's uncle, Bill Guarnere, passed away yesterday. To the world, he was "Wild Bill Guarnere" of HBO's documentary Band of Brothers, but to my husband and our family, he was just "Uncle Billy."
Uncle Billy, even to his last, earned the moniker 'wild' for good reason. I laugh when I think of it, because it seems like all the Guarnere men followed faithfully after him as a result. His sense of humor, his disregard for "keeping up appearances" and simply telling it like it was, and his fierce love of family and loyalty to friends can all be seen - underscored - in the line of Guarnere men he inspired (my husband included).
So given how much they all looked up to him and revered his status as patriarch of the family, it was a terrible blow to hear news he had passed suddenly on Saturday.
At the same time Uncle Billy was being rushed to the hospital, a good chunk of the Guarnere clan was already at the hospital tending to another one of our own... the one you won't hear news stories about or see documentaries on, but the one who, even from her hospital bed, unites the entire family in love and devotion. Her name is Lena, and she is Uncle Billy's sister-in-law. She's currently doing battle with pneumonia and could benefit from some prayers if you'd all be so kind.
Anyway, I bring Nan up for two reasons in reference to Uncle Billy. Both showcase, in my mind, the type of love (and bit of humor) Uncle Billy always showed to his family.
On Friday morning, Uncle Mike, Nanny's son, called Uncle Billy to set a date to grab coffee. Uncle Mike apologized for not being around, but Uncle Billy waved him off the phone and said, "Don't you worry about me. Go take care of your mother. She needs you right now."
Of course he'd say that. Uncle Billy didn't care about himself. He knew Nan needed Uncle Mike, so he sacrificed time with his nephew so he could be near her. I'm sure if he were able, he'd've been at her bedside, too. That's just how Uncle Billy is.
Which leads me to reason number two.
I spent five hours with Nanny on Saturday. Several other family members were standing vigil as well. Two times Nan brought up Uncle Billy, and here's where I imagine his sense of humor came in to play.
The first time, my Aunt Donna was leaning over Nan to see if she'd recognize her. Nan affirmed she recognized her, but she insisted that her husband was between the two of them. She asked, "Why is my husband here?"
Aunt Donna looked at me and asked if she'd heard her correctly. I smiled and said, "Yup. She's asking about Pop Pop."
A few moments later, she asked again, but then she said, "Bill is in the way. Get out of the way."
I looked at Aunt Donna, but she was talking to her sister. Grandma Gloria, however, seemed to have heard her, and she smiled back at me and nodded. I thought it was funny that Gram heard her (given how terrible her hearing is) but my two aunts did not. I thought Nan might've been talking about a nurse or something.
About an hour or so later, I was in the room with Nanny, myself. She'd finally nodded off, and I'd sent Uncle Mike and Uncle Frankie to eat dinner. I used that time to pray at Nan's side, holding her hand. I had just finished the Three Beautiful Prayers when she jolted awake.
I thought she might've been startled by the beeping across the hall. She looked at me and I said, "Morning, Nan. You feeling okay?"
She said, "Yeah. I feel alright."
I asked, "Do you want me to grab you some lemon water?"
She said, "No. Bill brought me up."
Again with this Bill person. It never even occurred to me she could've been talking about Uncle Billy. I thought she was confused, and I said, "No, Nanny. You were sleeping. Is your mouth dry? Let me get some water."
As I spooned the lemon water into her mouth, she stared past me and asked an unseen person why he was still standing around. She reached her hand out and said something along the lines of "Get on, already. Go get my husband."
Again, my heart hurt because I feared Nanny was starting to see visitors from the other side of the veil. I said, "Nanny, who are you talking to? Who do you want to go get Pop Pop?"
She looked at me and said nothing. She just leaned back in the bed and sighed.
A few hours later, we got news that Uncle Billy had passed. I didn't put two and two together until I was on my way home from the hospital. I honestly think when his soul left his body, he stopped off to strengthen Nanny for her journey. She, in reply, waved him off and sent him to reunite with her husband, his brother, to begin enjoying Heaven together.
So please, say a few prayers for the repose of Uncle Billy's soul and the strength of my Nan. Pray also for the broken hearts of my husband's family. Uncle Billy was revered by them, and for good reason. He was more than just a soldier - he was the force that bonded so many of them together. His charisma commanded the attention of everyone, and his generosity and love commanded their respect.
My heart is broken for them because I know how deeply this loss is felt. And to experience losing Uncle Billy in the midst of watching Nanny deteriorate... it's just a terribly difficult road to walk right now. So please, keep them all entrenched in prayer. Pray for their comfort, their peace, and Divine strength. They will need much of that in the coming days and weeks. We all will.
Godspeed, Uncle Billy. God bless you and the family you leave behind.
Not too often you hear the words "Lent" and "tripod" put together, but it was a concept I introduced a few weeks back to my CCD students.
So often you hear "What are you giving up for Lent?" I wanted them to understand that this wasn't a futile repeat of New Year's resolutions. Lent is a time for sacrifice.
One of my favorite quotes about sacrifice is this:
Love transforms suffering into sacrifice.
According to this, two things must be present for a sacrifice: Love and Suffering.
So for Lent, while they were all trying to figure out what they'd "give up," I asked them to also figure out a specific person or intention they'd be offering that sacrifice for. Giving up candy bars during Lent is great, but if you're just substituting the candy bars with milkshakes, nothing is accomplished.
Instead, if you give up candy bars, use the $.60 you save every day and donate it to the homeless man you pass on the street each day. Put it into a piggy bank and at the end of Lent, use it to buy your little sister that iPad app she's been dying to try. Better yet, secretly use it to buy a slew of your favorite prayer cards / medals and leave them in the back of your parish church for parishioners to share!
Little things add up, and as long as they're adding up to love, they're perfect sacrifices for Lent.
With that in mind, my students started coming up with some great ideas:
These are my favorites. It took a lot of leading, but when they finally arrived at their Lenten gifts (as I've been calling them), I think they really understood the purpose behind the practice.
Once they got this foundation set, I tied it together through Jesus.
We give up things, or sacrifice, for our community out of love. However, we don't do that for ourselves. We do it through Jesus. We unite our sufferings with Jesus' Passion. We don't sacrifice during Lent just because that's what you do during Lent. We do it so Jesus doesn't have to suffer alone. We share the burden with Him.
I likened it to riding a roller coaster for the first time. They all seemed to understand that. None of them wanted to ride a coaster by themselves the first time they went. They were scared! Instead, they asked a friend to come along so they could share the burden of fear.
During Lent, we consent to share the burden of suffering with Jesus. We consent to take part in the Passion, because as the Church, we are members of His Body, and we want to follow where He, the Head, leads us. During Lent, He is leading us to Salvation through the Cross.
It was like a little light bulb clicked over their heads. I started seeing them slowly understanding the concept of sharing in the Lenten journey. Each Mass isn't a recreation of the Passion so much as a time-machine that brings us back to the Foot of the Cross, time and time again. Lent helps us refocus on this by bringing the reality of Christ's Sacrifice into our daily lives (in a much more manageable way).
Just as Christ suffered for love of us, we, too, must suffer for love of others, uniting those sacrifices to the Sacrifice of Christ.
This is the Lenten Tripod analogy I used with my students, and I have to say, I'm really pleased with how well they took that lesson to hear.
Next week we'll check in to see how they're doing with their gifts. :)
I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of Walking With Jesus to Calvary: Stations of the Cross for Children. I got it in the mail early this year and have been waiting for Lent to roll around given the nature of the book.
Here we are!
The book is written by Angela M. Burrin and illustrated by Maria Cristina Lo Cascio. Truthfully, the illustrations are what drew me in to the story. Colorful, fluid and expressive, they told the story of the Stations in beautiful detail.
The writing ended up surprising me. At first, I was very put off by the "lengthy" paragraphs. Truthfully, I think this is because my expectation was that I'd be able to read it to Vincent. This book is not meant for toddlers. It's meant for older children - at least 1st grade and up. Once I made peace with that, I found the narrative grew on me.
I especially love how Burrin pays close attention to the Blessed Mother throughout the stations. Never is she far from her Son. She, too, is an active participant in His Passion, and Burrin does a wonderful job keeping this in focus for us. There are some passages that solicited heart-wrenching sadness for her. For this fact alone, this book has become my favorite Stations book for children.
Now for the content:
There is a brief Forward that explains what the Stations of the Cross are and why we keep this form of prayer alive. There is also a page explaining how to pray the stations, offering suggestions for first-timers (It's okay to choose one or two Stations at a time and really focus on them. You don't have to pray them all at once!).
There is no Table of Contents (I assume with 14 stations, it's hard to get lost). However, given the Stations are listed where the Table of Contents usually go, I'm not sure why they opted to leave out page numbers. That could be helpful to veterans who are looking to focus on one or two for a specific prayer intention.
Just before the Stations begin, Burrin wisely decided to explain a little about Holy Thursday, and how Jesus came to be in Pilate's courtyard. Thus, with the kiss of Judas Iscariot, we begin our journey with the Stations.
At each Station, Biblical quotes are interlaced with imagination as Burrin tells the story of Jesus' Passion in a child-friendly manner. At the end of each Station, there is a small reflection / prayer kids can offer that brings that footstep of Christ in sync with their own. One, in particular, calls out to the Holy Spirit. I loved that, because normally the reflection prayers tend to focus solely on Jesus.
Of course, each Station is beautifully illustrated by Lo Casio. Some of the images have left me staring at them for many minutes before I realize I've lost myself in their mysteries. I mean, just look at these two examples. I apologize, I snapped them with my phone, but even through the grainy iPhone shutter, the powerful emotions pours through:
Oh, that last one of Our Lady cradling Jesus - it is perfect. The tree in the background is barren and lifeless (which is poignant given how lively the background trees were in previous Stations). The atmosphere is grey, foggy and ominous. Joseph of Arimethea is hunched over them like an old bough weighed down by weather, protective. Mary's mantle is unfurled to encompass Jesus' Body... an exaggerated drawing, but similar to Michelangelo's Pieta. The effect is a brutal, gut-wrenching beauty - a mother cradling Her Baby Boy one last time as the entire world mourns with her.
Can you guess where I keep catching myself getting lost?
Finally, the Stations end with the Resurrection (since not all books contain a 15th!). Burrin includes Mary Magdalene's joyous meeting of her Resurrected Savior, which I always appreciate.
This book then gifts you a few surprise pages that I think are incredible resources for school-aged children.
The first is a 2 page spread on Prayer Intentions. After all, when you pray the Stations, you should have some intentions in mind, right? This useful list suggests everything from family and friends to doctors, politicians and the souls in Purgatory. I LOVED this, and I thought it was very wise to add this section.
Finally, there was a four-page spread of traditional prayers used while praying the Stations of the Cross. These pages, just as the Stations, themselves, are beautiful illustrated. These latter pages reminded me of those gorgeous illuminated manuscripts monks would create as they copied the Bible over and over and over again.
Verdict: This hard-cover book is a winner, all 45 pages of it. I am so glad The Word Among Us Press sent it my way for review.
As a thanks, I'll be giving one away to one of you fine readers! Enter via Rafflecopter below.
I teach an 8th grade Confirmation class. This class is comprised of students who typically don't attend Mass, go to public school, and have about as much interest in Catholicism as they do in Algebra.
However, I do everything I can to impart the Faith in an engaging, relatable manner.
Prayer is one of those areas that never quite "took" for them. It pains me that their communication with God is so infrequent that even a simple Our Father is said with no inflection. Student-led prayers are lackluster and careless. It kills me. They are curious about tradition and history, but that is something they see as separate from a personal relationship with Christ. It's as if they want to learn "facts" but don't understand that those facts exist only because of the living Presence of God still active within their lives. Those facts are the small bits of "family history" we share as children of God.
So imagine my surprise tonight when they all prayed. Really, truly prayed. With their hearts... not just with robotic recitation.
You see, at the beginning of class (as I do every week), I asked for their intentions. They ranged for "help on a spelling test" to "my neighbor's cat is missing." Great! We added them to our intentions list.
However, I then offered this intention:
I told them about a little boy named Ben. For those of you unaware, Ben Sauer is a beautiful 4 year old boy with a twin brother named Jack and a little sister named Megan. Up until about a month ago, Ben was a seemingly healthy little boy who enjoyed playing with his siblings and was looking forward to preschool.
A few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with an incredibly rare and terribly aggressive form of cancer. My heart is breaking even as I write this. His parents were told that there is no form of treatment available, and their beautiful, happy, gentle son only has a few weeks to live.
How do you process such a thing? A vibrant little boy - your heart and soul - will likely be taken away to Heaven after only 4 brief years in your arms.
Oh dear Lord... mercy. Please. Mercy!
As I relayed this intention to my students, they all sat - silent. There was no side-chatter, no doodling, no requests for the bathroom. There was only silence and an aching plea for this intention to reach the Ears of God.
And so, with this intention fresh on their hearts, my class made the Sign of the Cross. They said a Memorare with so much tenderness... so much pleading... that I actually stumbled over the words as I fought to contain my own emotions. They followed their Memorares with the Prayer to Saint Michael. This we offered through the intercession of Blessed Chiara Badano at the suggestion of a friend from Theotokos.
As we closed with another Sign of the Cross, I looked out at my class and I thanked them. I knew hearing Ben's story made them feel terribly sad, but in joining their prayers for a miracle, his comfort, and the comfort of his family, I think they understood, for the first time, prayer can be a powerful weapon. Sometimes, it is our only weapon, but that does not lessen its strength.
We prayed again for this intention at the close of class. Instead of chattering busily out the door after the bell, my class silently walked into the hall. I really think they were still contemplating this very special intention. I asked them to hold it in their hearts throughout Lent.
Actually, I'd like to ask that all of you do so. Please keep his family entrenched in prayers. Also, be sure to reach out to those you love. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. That is why we must always love in the moment. Always.
I got a completely unexpected phone call from the Child Study Team today.
Vince was approved (AHEAD OF A WAIT LIST) to attend a special Pre-K that's taught by a Special Ed instructor and has specialized aids in the classroom.
It's an inclusive class (meaning children with and without special needs are included together) and relatively mainstream.
Best of all, he begins on MONDAY!!! MONDAY!!!
Can you believe it?
I almost can't believe it. When I got the call, it was like a dream.
They had a spot open up? They skipped us ahead of the wait list? Vincent was a "perfect fit" for the room? He could start Monday??? You want us to fill out paperwork tomorrow???
YES, YES, and YES!
God has just been so incredibly good to us throughout this entire process. Every time I was beginning to feel painted into a corner, He came in to point out the window I had my back against.
Gotta keep reminding myself that...
Even finding a Pre-K program when we most needed it. Even finding it in the middle of a school year amidst wait lists that extend to double digits.
I'm just... I am in awe of how perfectly He sets the stage for us.
Thank you, Lord! Thank you for taking such good care of Vincent. Thanks for having this fall into my lap just when John and I were beginning to go a little nuts trying to come up with a solution ourselves.
After Dom selflessly gifted the Christmas Creche to a mother who needed one for her family, I wanted to do something special for her in return. She simply asked for a novena to St. Monica for her children.
I was a bit anxious. I'd never successfully completed a novena before. Isn't that terrible? It's embarrassing to admit that. I've tried countless times, but on day 6 or 8 or even 9, my mind slips and I forget to say the prayers.
However, for Dom and her Christmas spirit, I would say a novena.
And I'm still trying.
I've "completed" the novena enough times that I've memorized the words and, altogether, have prayed the "full" novena 4 or 5 times.
(So I guess you're going extra prayers, Dom... lots of them - ha!)
However, I didn't do it over the specified time-frame.
So I'm trying again and starting tonight. I'm going to set an alarm on my phone that rings at my appointed time and stop what I'm doing to turn my thoughts to Dom, her children, and St. Monica.
Do any of you have this problem with novenas, or am I really the only one? Do you have any tips or tricks to better get me on board with these special prayers?
I feel like such a terrible Catholic, but novenas were never my thing. My consistency is impressively poor.
I love this meme.
I have little doubt all of you are well aware, but in case you're not, today is a great day to pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy. It's also a great day to pray St. Gertrude the Great's Purgatory Prayer.
Jesus, in a vision, assured her those who pray this prayer devoutly help release 1,000 souls from Purgatory each time it's said. 1,000 souls. It's the very first prayer I teach to my class each year, and I usually assign - as homework - that they teach it to their families. They feel like little superheros (as well they should, because again... 1,000 people get saved each and every time you pray to God in this manner)!
These souls return our kindness by being some of our biggest intercessors in Heaven. I call on them constantly in times of trouble. They are our brother and sisters who root for us from beyond. So return the favor of their prayers with some of your own. We will very likely need the same one day.
For more information about Purgatory and the blessed souls who temporarily reside there, I suggest this wonderful selection of blurbs - it's one of my favorites!
So aside from the Prayer of St. Gertrude and the Divine Mercy chaplet, do you folks have any particular ways to commemorate the Feast of Holy Souls?
Thank you all so much for your prayers for my sister and nephew!
I'm so blessed to report that they're both doing well. I'm sharing this photo with you because I have no doubt your prayers helped buoy them in this time of fear and uncertainty. They certainly gave me a lot of comfort!
And look at the result. This beautiful little peanut was born - screaming - and weighed in at 2lbs, 6oz. He took a few breaths on his own, and his body is functioning just as it should. Maria, my sister, is resting and should recovery nicely.
God is good, and He was especially good to us tonight. Thank you so much again for all those prayers!
Please shoot a prayer (or 10) up to Heaven for a very special intention.
My younger sister is pregnant with her 2nd child, a little boy. She's about 28 weeks pregnant right now, but her little one is only weighing about 2lbs. She's been admitted to L&D, and the doctors are doing all they can to both stave off labor while building up the baby's lungs through various shots.
My mom is currently with her. I wish I was there, too.
Please offer prayers for her and her baby boy. We want him to stay put - no labor! We also want him to start gaining weight - and fast!
This is a really scary situation for all involved. God help us. I don't want to see Maria suffer a miscarriage. I want to meet my nephew. I want to see Arianna grow up with her little brother. I want to see Vincent teach him basketball. I want to spend Christmas and Halloween and Easter together.
So please - pray for a happy resolution. All is in the Hands of God. May He bless us with a healthy, happy baby.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
This entry is not for the faint of heart. The image below disturbed me something fierce, so if you don't want to wrestle with the same inner despair I am over this situation, please step away from this article. It deals specifically with murdered children, so please - click to another blog because this will leave your heart crying out for vengeance.
On the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, they posted a very large photo of shrouded bodies. At first glance, they looked to be sleeping, but the central figure, possibly a mother in grief, stooped over one of the figures as a man supported her while another caressed the face of the child.
My heart immediately skipped a beat as I fought the urge to cry out. I stared at the image and couldn't help but note how beautiful these little girls were. I assume the photo was taken outside of a girl's school, because each of the little faces peeking out from the sheets was a beautiful, beautiful little girl.
My God - I pictured my nieces in those blankets. My son. How could we, as humans, do this to one another? To steal away these precious lives, and with them, the lives of those left behind? This is evil - this is such terrible, terrible evil.
Again, I can almost hear my husband saying, "Gina, just stop looking at it. Why do you torture yourself by dwelling on this sorta stuff?"
I just can't help it. Look at those faces. Look at those angelic little faces and tell me they don't deserve to have their stories known. That they don't deserve to have their stories FELT so that hearts around the world resound their anger and defiance of such evil existing in our world.
No. Knowing this evil exists and unmasking it so that others are aware of it is that absolute least I can do. Spreading the word so that others can join their prayers and fasting for these families is a tiny step in the direction of healing, and these children... these families... they deserve at least that much.
So regardless of how much my heart bleeds as I think on this situation, I will look at each of those little faces, think on each of their broken, hurting families, and I will pray. I will meditate on their suffering and I will spread the word so that others can do the same. I will then offer it to Christ and beg that He come back to us soon because truly... we need His help. We are a plague unto ourselves, and we simply do not have the strength to pull ourselves from the mud.
May God have mercy on us.
UPDATE: So thanks for your responses, everyone! The friend I had the bet with was Protestant (non-denominational) and suggested the Our Father would be the favorite prayer. I said, "No. It'll be the rosary... at the very least the Hail Mary." He said, "No way. All your prayers can't be going to St. Mary (I love that he calls her that)." I said, "A lot of them do. Who better to bring them to Jesus than His own mother?"
Thanks for proving me right. Ha ha ha!
My friend and I have a bit of a bet going on right now. Readership, I ask your help.
What is your favorite prayer?
I must stipulate that it must be your favorite prayer - BESIDES THE MASS.
Rosary counts, chaplets count, singular, stand-alone prayers count.
You're allowed to answer more than one prayer. For example:
Billy's favorite prayer is the Chaplet of St. Michael for protection of his family. However, his personal favorite for struggling to overcome addiction is the Our Father. The one that makes him feel closest to God is the Hail Mary because it reminds him of Jesus as a small child in the womb of Our Lady.
So technically Billy's got a bunch of favorite prayers for various reasons. They'll all count towards my tally.
What's your favorite prayer?
Intentions involving children have always been very close to my heart. Intentions for children who have cancer typically top the list.
Today, I ask your prayers for a very special young woman who has been battling cancer for four years. Treatments have been unsuccessful, and as a result, she and her family have made the decision to stop treatments and make whatever time she has left comfortable and memorable.
Please keep this young woman in your prayers. She has remained courageously optimistic throughout her ordeal, being a source of strength and a real beacon of hope to friends and family alike. Instead of internalizing her struggle, she's instead reached out, hoping that through her suffering, others would benefit. Proof of this is her Christmas wish this year.
Instead of saying, "I want an iPad" or even "I want a cure" she said, "I want everyone to donate a toy to the toy drive so other kids can have a something."
The generosity and beautiful spirit of this child astounds me.
So please, keep this young woman in your prayers in a very special way this holiday season. I've promised my friend, Faith, that I'd do my part to put together a spiritual bouquet for her, her family, and her friends. Join in with prayers of your own.
Faith, unsure of what prayers might be best offered in a time like this, asked for my opinion. I, myself, always fly to the Blessed Mother with these intentions. Regardless of religion, race or background, the Blessed Mother has been given to all of us. She loves each one of us and as such, takes all of our intentions to heart. She's also the most powerful ally we've got in Heaven. Thus, I tend to use the Memorare for intentions like these:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known
that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you I come, before you I stand - sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petition, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
I also keep as my intention that any suffering this young woman or her family endures during this trial fulfills any remaining Purgatory so that each of these souls is made worthy of Heaven. Considering how exemplary this young woman is at this point, I have little doubt that her family will be gaining quite the saint if Christ should choose to call her home soon.
May the angels surround her, her family, and all her friends. May they surround the doctors who work to make her last days peaceful. May they surround those of us who pray for her recovery / peaceful passing. And then may those same angels swiftly lift our prayers to their Queen, Mary, who can pass them gently to the ear of her Son as she kisses His Head.
In all, may His Will be done. <3
Thank you in advance for your prayers. I'll be sure to print them / pass them along so she knows we're blanketing her in prayer.
***** The young girl, Kiki, I had requested prayers for has passed away. Please keep her and her family wrapped in prayer. May she be with Jesus tonight. ******
I don't even know where to begin with this. How, exactly, does one begin to write about an event for which there is no proof and sounds INCREDIBLY fictional... even a little crazy?
I guess I start with who my Aunt Loretta is.
My Uncle Gene had a common law marriage with Aunt Loretta, a woman I never really knew. Since my uncle wasn't close with our family, we didn't see him or his wife (which is sad, because I know I'd've loved her).
Anyway, Aunt Loretta passed away when I was still pretty young. Her passing wasn't even a blip on my radar because, as a child, you're preoccupied with childish things - especially when the person who passes is someone you barely know.
Fast forward to when I was about 9 years old. For a brief three minutes my family and my uncle's family were close. I half think it's because his new wife, (my current Aunt Jeannie), is the sweetest person ever and was really looking to reach out to our side of the family. I became close with one of her daughters (from a previous marriage) and the two of us would badger our respective parents in order to hang out. During this very brief span of family bonding, my mother, siblings and I were enlisted to help my uncle move out of his old house.
I can't speak for my other siblings, but I really - REALLY - enjoyed clearing out my uncle's house. I was also pierced by a deep sadness for him. Everything - and I mean everything - in that house was a testament to his love for Aunt Loretta. He had so many pictures of her, so many of her books, so much of her jewelry, so many of her dresses, and countless scrapbooks full of her Astrology clippings (Aunt Loretta wrote for several newspapers as their professional astrologer).
At this point in my life, I didn't know much at all about Uncle Gene. He was just the silent, brooding uncle who showed up for family functions wearing cowboy boots, never said anything to us kids aside from the obligatory "Hi" and "Bye" and played the piano. I saw him laugh a couple times, and he had a laugh very similar to my Grandpop's. Grandpop's was definitely more jovial... it seems to resonate from deep within himself. Uncle Gene's, though it carried a similar raspy tone, never carried the full depth of joy that Grandpop's did.
But I digress.
I didn't dislike my uncle. I didn't fear him, either. I was just confused by him. I could tell he was extremely uncomfortable around children (he never had any of his own) which just made us kids extremely uncomfortable around him. As a result, I knew NOTHING about him. So going through all of his stuff was like putting bits and pieces of his personality together. That day forward I had a very, VERY different perspective on him. And it was all because of Aunt Loretta.
In all of their pictures, Uncle Gene was a different person. The amount of love and admiration he had for her - it oozed out of the pictures. He looked so relaxed, so overjoyed, so happy in all of them. There was even one where he was full-on laughing as his arm hung over her shoulders. I realized by looking through his stuff that he was a person with emotions, too. Deep ones that really came alive for her - likely even because of her. And I wonder if his aloof and brooding personality wasn't a reflection of the deep pain he felt at loosing the person who so obviously gave him so much joy. He kept all of her things because he didn't want to let go of her. So as we moved out all of Uncle Gene's items, we were also moving out Aunt Loretta's. I felt as if I was getting to know her, too, and ever since then I've always been incredibly bummed that I'd never gotten a chance to really know her.
She seemed like such a wonderful, vibrant woman. That she was able to bring about such a different side of my Uncle... she must've been something special.
Anyway, fast forward again through the years. Most of my readers know that I've always had a very special place in my prayers for the souls in Purgatory. Whenever I pray, I typically toss a nod their way. I always keep in mind my friend, Karen, who passed away too young. I always keep in mind Grandmom and Grandpop in the very off chance that they haven't reached Heaven (because even if they have, and I believe they did, those prayers will still be effective for helping someone else). I also keep my Aunt Pat as a prime intention because I adore her and want to make sure that she not only makes it to Heaven if she's not already there, I want to make sure she knows I'm still harassing her like I said I would when she was with me on Earth.
However, for all the times I've prayed for the souls in Purgatory, I've never once specified Aunt Loretta. She just wasn't a person who came to mind as I said my prayers.
Well, this morning I was saying the Divine Mercy chaplet on my way to work. I was thinking a lot about Purgatory and the souls there in part because of a series I recently saw courtesy of Anabelle Hazard.
So as I closed out my Divine Mercy chaplet, I made sure to remind God that the chaplet was for the souls in Purgatory. No sooner did I finish the final prayer than did I feel completely overcome with joy. Joy is a terribly pathetic word, too. The tidal wave of emotion I felt caught me so off-guard that I began tearing up as I crossed the bridge into Philadelphia. As the tears began pooling, I immediately cried out, "God, don't let me cry before I get into work!"
As soon as I said those words aloud, the wave of unspeakable joy passed, but I was left with the distinct impression that my Aunt Loretta was in the car with me. I half expected to see her in the rear-view mirror!
What's odd about that is I've never connected Aunt Loretta with purgatory. I haven't connected her with anything except my Uncle Gene, and considering how seldom he pops into my thoughts, she pops in even less. So what was she doing attached to that intense feeling of joy?
We never know where our prayers go or who they help. I think God chose to use my chaplet to help Aunt Loretta either enter Heaven today, or at least move up the level so she was closer.
I realize this sounds crazy. I accept that. But I have no other explanation for the sudden and inexplicable experience of radiant, fathomless joy that solicited an immediate physical response from me. Stranger, I have no other explanation for connecting my aunt, a non-Catholic who I never really knew, to it.
I'm appreciative, however, that I was given such a generous gift this morning. I want to share it with you to remind you of the importance (and POWER) of prayers for those in Purgatory. Never forget them.
(These photo spaces will remain blank until I'm able to find ones of Aunt Loretta. Again - this is just more proof that I have very little connection to her at all. That doesn't mean my prayers can't help her, though! How gloriously merciful is our God!)
I feel like at one point in time, we've all been guilty of this.
Or maybe you're all just way better people than I am, and I'm the only one who has ever decided to go the route of lazy and cut corners during prayer.
Ever hear the story of the Fatima children who would say their rosaries every day by simply saying the first two words of every prayer down the line? "Our Father, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary..." and so on.
I remember reading that story when I was very young and thinking to myself, What a great idea! only to realize a few pages later that Our Lady didn't look too kindly on such half-hearted lip service. I remember then simply feeling like a jerk for having applauded their misguided 'brilliance.'
Anyway, I try to pray one rosary and one Divine Mercy chaplet every day. When I know I'm going to be particularly busy, I've said both Apostle's Creeds (one for the rosary, and one for the chaplet) together, then said 2 Our Fathers and 4 Hail Marys plus another 2 Glory Bes in order to "get them out of the way" so I'm able to focus on the "meat" of the rosary and chaplet later on.
And I wondered... should I be cutting up and reorganizing my prayers like that? After all, we were given them in a certain format for a reason, right?
The way we say our prayers and the order we say them in are significant. As I've always taught my class, EVERYTHING we do as Catholics (from how we position ourselves during prayer to the format and wording of those prayers) has significance.
So lumping stuff together isn't ideal... nor is it proper.
Think about it. Would you want the priest to lump together the Intercessions with the Penitential Rite just because he thought the Mass might go a little quicker that way? Or maybe on his way up during the Procession, he just swiped the bread and wine from the credence table instead of waiting around for the Offertory?
Of course not. We'd be losing some very key expressions of faith should he do any of these things. The same is true when we pray our rosaries and chaplets out of order.
I know I've touched on this briefly in Part 3 of my Rosary series, but it fits today's topic. The ordering of our prayers is another expression - another deepening - of our faith and our understanding of that faith. The ordering calls us to contemplate and rejoice in a rhythmic fashion. Each decade serves to draw us deeper into the picture of God's plan for our personal salvation. Saying the prayers as they're meant to be said is like taking a stethoscope to God's Heart as it beats lovingly for each and every one of us.
Sign of the Cross - As always, be begin our prayers by marking ourselves with the sign of His Victory... His Passion of mercy and love.
Apostle's Creed - We remind ourselves of our faith and renew the promises of our baptism.
Our Father - Using the words of Christ, we call upon God the Father to "give us this day our daily bread." Being in the 'eternal now,' though we are praying within the confines of a finite sphere of time, God is able to know and see these prayers throughout eternity. Thus, though we ask Him for our daily bread on a Thursday in September of 2012, God has foreseen this prayer from eternity. As we pray this before each decade, we unwittingly ask for the gifts each mystery reminds us that He has already bestowed.
Hail Mary - This blessed prayer is Christ-centric.
Glory Be - Again, remembering that God is in the eternal now, when we say this prayer of praise and thanksgiving, we are supposed to be thanking Him for the decade's particular mystery and whatever intentions we had going into that decade.
See the cycle?
Placing ourselves before God, the Sign of the Cross is like us putting the stethoscope to our ears in anticipation of listening to His Heart.
The Apostle's Creed is the tell-tale sign of His Love.
As we motion through the decades, the steady rhythm of petitioning for salvation (Our Father), God's answer to our petition through the various mysteries (Hail Mary) and our subsequent praise and thanksgiving for His active mercy through history (Glory Be) are like the gentle vibrations of Divine Love. Our God is a living God, and His movements are eternally present. Thus, our prayers are eternally present as well.
We'll never know just how far-reaching our prayers are until we get to Heaven and see the 10 or 20 forgotten Purgatory souls we've helped reach the Gates... or the 5 lost souls who would have continued along the path of perdition had you not done a daily offering... or maybe even the terrible accident you helped to mitigate for your great, great, great, great grand-daughter because you piously recited the Divine Mercy chaplet for all sinners past, present and future.
Never underestimate the power of prayer... especially prayers given to us by Heaven in a specific format. These formats are given to us for the holy purpose of helping us to better understand God's Love and Mercy.
So I've been making a much more concerted effort to recite my prayers in their proper order, but I figured I'd post this in the event that anyone else was like me and had attempted to "cut corners" every once in a while.
I've had a large crowd of folks come through this particular entry this month. If you'd be so kind, please let me know where the traffic is being directed from - I'd greatly appreciate it!
On the heels of my last post comes this one on genuflection.
Since we were asked to ensure our children understood both the Sign of the Cross and how to properly genuflect, I’m once more utilizing you wonderful readers as my guinea pigs. Many thanks.
Last year, one of my students had slipped a “Why do people stoop when they come into church” question into the Question Box. This had tied in pretty well to a lesson on the Real Presence of Christ within the Blessed Sacrament which we had covered about two weeks prior. So to answer his question, I simply pointed out that the “stooping” motion was really a person touching his or her right knee to the ground in a show of reverence to God who is truly, fully present in the tabernacle.
I then had them practice genuflection as I noticed so many people (adults, too!) who did “stoop” which is probably what solicited the confused question from my student.
Anyway, why do we genuflect?
Most people understand that we’re reverencing God, but why is the act of genuflection an act of reverence to begin with?
Well, let’s take a look at this history of genuflection, shall we?
Even in the animal world, lowering your gaze signifies humility in the presence of someone superior. To conform your entire body to reflect the downward cast of your eyes highlights the significance of your humility that much more. Thus, high-ranking leaders like kings, emperors and dignitaries required (by custom and law) that their subjects genuflect or kneel in their presence.
This reverence translated well into Christianity which was already rich in the tradition of showing humility courtesy of its Jewish roots.
It was (and still is in some customs) Jewish tradition to kneel before the Word of God to kiss the scrolls in order to show reverence to the Divine. The Levites were also known to “fall on their faces” before God in the Holy of Holies in order to show humility and reverence while asking God for His mercy and blessings. To this day there are some Orthodox Jews who hold fast to the practice of full prostration in prayer to order their bodies after their hearts so that they can reflect the utmost humility before the Throne of God.
Thus, this practice translated into the first Christians kneeling to kiss the epistles of the apostles before they were read… to kissing relics… to kissing the rings of the bishops and popes in authority. We Catholics do not simply stoop. We are ordering our bodies after the humility in our hearts so that we can properly pay homage to the God of the Universe.
At least that’s what we should be doing, anyway.
Also, this sign of humility is a sign of subjugation.
For example, way back when, high ranking officials in armies were given foot soldiers who served as human stools (for lack of a better term). They would genuflect before their leader’s horse to allow themselves to be used as a stepping stool so their commanding officer could easily take to the saddle and lead a charge.
When we genuflect before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, we not only order our bodies after what’s in our hearts… we’re also offering ourselves to Him for whatever services He may ask of us.
So that, my friends, is why we genuflect upon entrance into a church. That is why we kneel before the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration. That is why the priest and ministers genuflect (or deeply bow) when crossing the front of the tabernacle.
And that’s why you should, too! Please don’t half it. It confuses others (especially children) who see it as stooping. If you’re going to order your bodies after the faith that’s in your heart, make sure your body reflects the true and deep humility that our faith encourages (if you’re able). If a genuflection is simply impossible due to age, illness, etc, refrain from stooping and simply give a deep bow. Even a head nod is better than a lackluster stoop.
The point is to pay reverence and humility to the God of Creation.
I’m getting back to my educational roots on this post, and it’s refreshing as I feel the last few have been haphazard “catch-ups” or “Mom” entries that most people probably find pointless.
Tomorrow night is my first CCD lesson of the season. I’m so excited to meet my kids and get back into the swing of teaching the Faith. One of the things I’ll be tackling tomorrow night is the Sign of the Cross.
Our Director specifically requested that we teach our children the Sign of the Cross because our visiting priest (Fr. Eucharist!) had mentioned it seemed to him that no one did it properly. Embarrassed, she made sure at our catechetical meeting that the teachers made this prayer a priority (along with genuflection) so that the next time Fr. Eucharist visited, we wouldn’t be embarrassed by our improper prayer movements at Mass.
I happily agreed to this since the Sign of the Cross and genuflection are two of the biggest things I harped on last year. I noticed right off the bat that my students were doing it improperly, plus it tied nicely into my lesson on the Trinity being One God in Three Divine Persons. So, here’s my little lesson on the Sign of the Cross for anyone who would like to know why we use this motion to open and close our prayers.
The Sign of the Cross
Using our thumb together with our fore and middle fingers, we touch our forehead while saying “In the Name of the Father.” Then, we use those same fingers to touch our abdomen while saying “and of the Son.” Finally, we touch both shoulders while saying, “and of the Holy Spirit.” Some traditions have you kiss those three fingers while saying “Amen.” Otherwise, you can fold your hands while saying “Amen.”
Now, why do we say / do these things?
Well, we open and close all of our prayers with the Sign of the Cross because we understand that God’s Sacrifice is the one and only offering we can make that bridges the divide caused by sin. In offering the infinitely meritorious Sacrifice of Christ’s Passion, we acknowledge that without God’s Love and Mercy, we are nothing. Thus, we begin and end our prayers with this acknowledgement in supplication and thanks for such love.
Plus, in marking ourselves with the Throne of His Sacrifice (the Cross) we are reminding ourselves (and others) to always unite our joys, sufferings and thanksgiving to Christ.
I have this, and I love it.
Finally, these words - when prayed with the fluid motion of the cross – remind us that God is triune – Three distinct Persons in One God.
This is a concept I’ve described to my class repeatedly as it’s so difficult to grasp… even amongst theologians. Our humanity cannot understand the depth of Their Unity, but we try! During the Crucifixion, we weren’t just crucifying Christ. Father and Holy Spirit were present as well, which is why I love the Trinitarian Crucifix. It reminds us that though distinct, each Person was fully present and actively participating in the Crucifixion of the Son. Our most simplistic prayer is so rich in context!!! It is the backbone of our Catholicism and the truest, strongest root of our Faith.
I could happily write on this prayer for days on end.
Anyway, moving on to the separate motions of forehead, abdomen and shoulders, we have reasons for placing each Person of the Trinity in these various spots. Everything we do and say as Catholics carries incredible meaning… never forget that!
For example, the three fingers we touch to ourselves are indicative of the Trinity. The remaining two (ring and pinkie) remind us of Christ’s two-fold nature – human and Divine.
We touch our heads for the Father because He is the Source of all Wisdom. We touch our abdomen for the Son to remind us that He, springing forth from the Father of Wisdom, became Incarnate in the womb of the Virgin. Finally, we touch both shoulders for the Holy Spirit to remind ourselves that He, having been sent by the Son, surrounds and protects the Church. Finally, we kiss the three fingers that marked us in the Cross as a sign of love and reverence. We also acknowledge it as a sort of “mini-kiss” of thanksgiving to the Trinity (at least that’s what I view it as).
So the next time you make the Sign of the Cross, meditate a bit on the deeper and beautiful manifestations of our Faith that are proclaimed through our simplest form of prayer.
Hi again! Sorry I've taken such a long time to respond to folks lately. I promise as I get myself more situated in my new job and schedule, I'll be back to e-mailing responses, updating entries, and posting new content soon.
In the meantime, please keep a very special intention in your prayers. Two, actually.
A little boy named Jack passed away very early this morning. He was not yet four, but already had touched the lives of so many people. He was born with a rare genetic disorder that stunted his development (but not his love). His parents had recently moved him to hospice care. They were awakened with news that he might not make it through the night.
By the time they arrived at the hospice, they found their son being cradled by the nurse who held him as his soul returned to Heaven.
Please keep his family in your prayers. Please, too, keep the nurses and staff who are in hospice care wrapped in prayer as well. They must endure so many heartbreaks out of empathy for their patients' families. Their job is not easy - but it is a blessed thing to be called to help usher souls through their final moments.
So yes... please keep little Jack's parents in your prayers. No doubt Jack is incredibly joyous, happy to be running, playing and completely enraptured in the beauty that Heaven offers to his saintly soul. He left this earth with his guardian angel to intercede for his family before the Throne of God. May they find peace in the hope of their eventual reunion.
For more information regarding Jack - and if you feel so inclined as to offer financial support to this worthy family - you can follow this link for more information.
Written by a Muslim professor who was friends with this saintly priest, a call for victory comes... but not through violence or retaliation. Instead, this wise man understands that victory comes through prayer... through the unflinching dedication to truth and love.
Bless not only this man and this priest, but all those in Iraq - Christian or otherwise - who cling fast to this hope.
Read the brief letter here, and remember to pray for our Suffering Church in Need.
So many prayer requests have been pouring in recently. Please keep these folks in your prayers.
A young mother went into pre-term labor, delivering her little girl at 16 weeks. This little soul was able to briefly feel the love of her parents before entering the gates of Heaven. Her family could use spiritual support.
Another mother lost her little boy a few hours after birth due to a rare genetic mutation. Again, God blessed his parents with the opportunity to meet this little saint before he entered Heaven as their personal intercessor, but the wounds left behind will take God's Divine Mercy to heal.
A friend is struggling with his belief in Catholicism. Bright and active within his community, he's fallen prey to pride and has begun actively opposing the very theology that he has vowed to uphold. His errors are poised to spread to others, so please... keep this man and those he is responsible for in your prayers.
A wonderful priest is feeling isolated. He is witnessing the tragic desecration of his beloved faith and can do little to stop it. Oh, how this betrayal strikes at his heart! Please keep him and all priests in your prayers.
Someone very close to me is struggling with a deep depression. I've run out of options regarding things I can do to help pull him out of this rut. At this juncture, prayer is about the only recourse I have.
Finally, and selfishly, myself. I've been struggling interiorly with a personal matter that is simply mine to shoulder. Again, it's sometimes a terrible cross to bear, but I accept it for what it is. At the present, I'm stumbling around more than usual and would appreciate a spare Memorare if you've got one.
As always, I'll continue praying for those intercessions you've e-mailed in. I'm contemplating opening a page specifically dedicated to these intercessions. Forming a sort of on-line community in which we can support one-another may very well be beneficial. In the meantime, know that my prayers are with all of you, and know that you have my appreciation for any words you shoot up in favor of the above intentions. Bless you always.
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Written by the Finger of
Little Catholic Bubble
So You're a Church Musician
There and Back Again
Make It - Love It
St. Monica's Bridge