Our Lady's Garden
You become a Saint.
November 12, 2016
I had a bizarre dream last night that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series only because someone in 1993 made the prediction in his high school yearbook. My dream elaborated on the true story Michael Lee (see picture) who as a senior in high school made the prediction for 2016, but that because one guy told another guy, who told another guy the prediction, it gave a ball club hope and determination to be successful in a way that hadn’t happened in over one hundred years.
I have little knowledge or interest in sports (sorry), but I love a good story and really enjoy people so here’s my challenge – with hope you can do anything. I am talking about Hope not hope. I am talking about the theological virtue of Hope as in, Faith, Hope, and Charity. What if you knew you were doing God’s Will? Would you try harder, would you be more confident? Yes, yes, you would. Like the saying, “What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?” If you pray to do God’s Will and you seek to do God’s Will, you cannot fail if you do good.
What if you did good because it was predicted in 1993, or in 2016 that you would? What if that inspired you to greatness - World Series Greatness! This challenge does not take away any of the effort, skill, or determination of the Chicago baseball players; it elevates their efforts. It takes great skill to be successful especially under pressure. What if you knew that you had the skills, the grace, to choose good under pressure?
Today, do good. Do good under pressure. Today, be a hero. Be a Saint! I dare you. No, I double dare you! Live your life with one goal, one expectation – that you will be a Saint. If you have to picture yourself on a holy card, so be it, but seek to go to heaven and be a Saint. You know God wills it, so seek it with determination.
You will be a Saint
You heard it here first.
"Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."84 "The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life." (CCC 1817)
November 8, 2016
It has been a hard decision to share this story, but I am unable to contain it so humbly I offer it to you.
Four years ago, the election night was difficult. The nation was in turmoil, divided like no other time, until now. I was tired from a re-election bid that was difficult and ugly like no other, until now. The noise of the world was intolerable and I could not be around the television or radio, I needed to seek refuge and I did - in a nursing home.
My grandpa was a great man, a kind, and gentle man. He was humble beyond understanding. He was faithful and strong. He was loving in a way that I cannot describe and I love him. He was in his late 90s and had resided in a nursing home for several years and I remain amazed at how he accepted his life as it changed, grew smaller and more confined.
I was his first granddaughter. We had nicknames for one another and silly jokes that probably never made sense. He was a firm, solid influence in my life and his love for me, and everyone else was unconditional. He was and is a blessing to me.
On Election Night 2012, I escaped the noise to visit Grandpa. His health had deteriorated to the point when death would come at any time. I was busy, always busy, and carrying a heavy load of guilt I drove the 30 minutes to say goodbye.
My pain was deep because I had a difficult time visiting him. With small children, I was always either hurrying home to pick up children or arriving at his room to find him asleep. I would return home in tears, disappointed that the visit was not what as I planned, wanted, or needed. As his time drew near, I grew anxious. I had squandered my time and it was over. I fought back tears as I drove, hoping he would still be alive long enough to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at his side.
He had been placed in a single room and it seemed empty, so different from his normal space with a blue lazy boy chair and familiar pictures. A nurse showed me in and as I feared, he was unconscious - just a shell of a man. I felt cold. I stood above him, kissed him goodbye, glad that I had arrived while he was still with us and I huddled in the corner of the room to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. My tears were uncontrollable as I began to pray, "Eternal Father . . ." then I was interrupted as a young nurse who entered the room. She moistened his lips, medicated him, and turned his body away from the wall and towards me.
Then it happened - she took his face in her hands and she spoke to him. His eyes opened and he murmured. I stood up. "Is he awake?" I asked. "Can he hear me?" She smiled and nodded and left the room. Still sobbing, I tried to contain my emotions. I pulled my chair closer and spoke with him. His eyes focused on me; I could hardly control myself. I didn't want to upset him so I did my best as I said, "Grandpa, I would like to pray with you. Is that ok?" His eyes responded and I started the Chaplet again. He never lost eye contact and as I neared the end of the Chaplet, I wept thinking as soon as I finished, he would close his eyes and pass into the hands of The Father. "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy on us and on the whole world."
His eyes remained bright and I said, "Would you like to pray the Rosary." He verbalized and I began. He exerted such effort to pray with me, I assured him I knew he was praying. I told him that I could hear and I could see him praying. He could relax and pray without struggling. He did. His big, brown eyes focused as we finished the Joyful Mysteries. I asked again, and with his eyes still focused on my rosary, we began the Luminous Mysteries and he stayed me to the finish. I asked again, and we prayed the Glorious Mysteries. As I prayed the Hail Holy Queen, my voice was filled with emotion as I asked the question yet again and we began the Sorrowful Mysteries. So blessed and so painful was it to pray the passion with him, it was beyond my strength and only possible with God's help. God had granted me the grace-filled opportunity to spend this time praying with the most faithful of grandfathers.
Tears streamed down my face as we finished this final rosary and I shared my love, kissed him, and told him goodbye. Seconds later, the nurse whose kindness made the visit possible returned, she again medicated him, moistened his lips, and adjusted his position, this time toward the wall. I kissed his head and left the room knowing our visit was complete and he passed in the night.
It was after midnight and a voicemail from a reporter asked for a statement on my re–election, it didn't matter. In the hours that had passed, God had granted me the greatest gift I could receive, the opportunity to be with Grandpa, pray with him, and be mercifully healed.
Thank you for the gift of my Grandpa Joe
Thank you for his faithful example and the gift of my Catholic Faith.
May he see You, face to face.
Saints and Cousins
October 30, 2016
Last week teaching 5th religious education class, I began the subject of purgatory. We have covered the creation story. We defined free will, sin, and temptation. I needed to make it this far to be prepared to share the glorious gifts the Church offers in November. All Soul’s Day would our next day of class and offer the sacrament of reconciliation, so I had my plan in place.
I have used the question “ What if you had spent the day, skiing, or sledding and on your way home someone told you that you were going to have dinner with _____.” The point is for the students to fill in the name of someone who they would love to have dinner with BUT would want to go home and clean up before seeing. I have never have a problem with this but last Wednesday -
I hit a brick wall.
“Think of someone,” I said “Who you would love to have dinner with.” “The person you would be most excited to be surprised to spend time with.” They easily came up with names, I could see that in their faces. “Now,” I said “wouldn’t you say to your parents “Wait! I need to go home and get changed. Take a shower. Get ready.” A look of confusion was on each child’s face. It was weird. “Why?” they asked. “Because you want to be ready,” I said ready to explain. “What?” they said all confused. They were the ones to surprise me. All of them, yes, all of them had chosen to have dinner with . . . their cousins.
Their cousins. Their cousins didn’t care if they smelled good, had clean clothes. After I explained my point they said, “Oh, like if it was someone famous.” They got my point but returned to their stance that if they could choose anyone to have dinner with, it would be their original choice, their cousins. One boy even got misty talking about his seven year old cousin who lived far away.
I tried again. When we die, we must be perfect to see the face of God. We can bear no grudges, have no unforgiveness in our hearts. We must be prepared for the unveiling of truth in all things. We must accept God’s will and the consequences of our actions and the actions of others. That can be hard. Sometimes it takes time and that is the beauty of purgatory. In purgatory, we experience God’s mercy and love in such a way that we can stand before God and love one another as he wants us to love. Those in purgatory experience the pain of separation from God in the same way that cousins who miss one another, hurt.
These are exceptional children, they are not far from perfect. They are already wearing the wedding garments for the wedding feast. On Wednesday, they will experience the grace of forgiveness in reconciliation and pray for relatives who have died and their favorite petition “ souls in purgatory who have no one to pray for them.” I am blessed with students who teach and pray for me.
A blessed All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day to you!
The First of Octember
November 1, 2014
Beautiful Saint Lucy and Pope Pius X.
It just doesn't get any better!
The First of Octember is a favorite phrase of my husband who reads the Dr. Seus classic frequently to the kids. I have never read it; but as a literature major, referencing an unread book doesn’t bother me a bit. So much for scruples …
What does October mean to a Catholic Mother? The month devoted to Mary, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, a month meant to pull us closer to Our Mother is also the month when every visit to the grocery store is like entering a haunted house. How do we avoid the sensational and diabolical nature of this display and does it cause us to abandon popular Halloween?
Is it possible to use the constant sight of the secular to draw us closer to God? Is it possible that Halloween is the reality of our secular world and ways, unveiled without sugar coating, a Terror for all to see? Commercialism unbridled? I don’t know; but I do know it is hard to watch the country poised to celebrate the debasement of values on the Eve of All Saint’s Day, All Hallowed Eve.
There is an antidote even if comes in November, November 1st to be precise.
All Saint’s Day is marvelous! It is extraordinary in a real religious sense. It is the day we all sing out, “Oh when the Saints, come marching in! Oh when the Saints come marching in …” Did you sing that song today? I did. I sang it out loud with 35 children in costume as we paraded around the church property. We told stories of great people, our heroes, but this day is not about famous people. It is a Feast for all the people we love, people who have died and who see the face of God right now! These people have names who dot our evening prayers, they who created our family traditions, and taught us our favorite recipes. These are OUR people. So when you see the Christmas decorations replace the Halloween stuff remember, it is All Soul’s Day and its Octave. Those are OUR people too and it is time to celebrate and sacrifice for them. During All Soul’s Day, The Church is her wisdom grants us an amazing gift - a plenary indulgence. A gift of the remediation of sins for those we love, some we don’t, and those who really need prayer. Don’t leave anyone out!
Visit a Church, a cemetery, and attend Mass to offer these gifts for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Visit the devotions page to learn more about these gifts of The Church and move past the phantom of October 31st and burst into the blessings of November!
“Peace begins with a smile.”
January 2015 Blog