Tag Archives: Jesus

Just Believe

St_JudeI never prayed to Saint Jude before. I don’t really know why that is. His feast day was yesterday, October 28th, and we had prayed a novena to Saint Jude for the past nine days leading up to his feast day. The prayers to Saint Jude were touching and reached a very personal chord. I truly believe that Saint Jude heard our prayers of our deepest needs.

So I now know that Saint Jude is the patron saint of desperate causes. I think all of us could think of times in our lives when we feel helpless and desperate and alone. Saint Jude will definitely be a go to saint for me when I pray, because I can pray for not only my own situation, but those near and dear that I know are hurting in one way or another — in need of his intercession. All things are possible with Saint Jude. All things are possible if you just believe.

Saint Jude was one of 12 Apostles of Jesus, a brother of Saint James the Less, and a relative of Jesus. He was also known as Thaddaeus by Matthew and Mark in the New Testament. Saint Jude is called upon in desperate situations because his letter in the New Testament stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Saint Jude is not the same person as Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.

Prayer to Saint Jude (on our final day of the novena):
O Saint Jude, holy Apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, you are honored and petitioned by the universal Church, as the patron of desperate, hopeless and impossible cases. Pray for me. I am so very helpless and I feel alone. 

Intercede for me that Almighty God may bring swift aid where it is needed most. Come to my assistance in my great time of need! 

Pray for me that I may be given the comfort and help of Jesus. Most importantly, I ask that you pray that I may one day join you and all of the saints in heaven to praise God in consolation, rest and joy for all eternity.

I will remember your prayers, O Holy Saint Jude. I will honor you as my patron as so many have before me because of the graces God deigns to give freely at your request.

O righteous Saint Jude, apostle, martyr and companion of Christ, grant that I may grow constantly in a loving relationship with God. In working out my salvation in this life I have infinite needs and desires that God placed within me. Today I turn to you, asking you to intercede for me. 

(mention your request)

Saint Jude, I have specific requests of God that may only partially fill the infinite needs and desires that are in my heart. I ask that you pray not only for those requests but also for a greater reliance on God to satisfy the needs and desires that I have. May I seek God with a sincere heart knowing that it will profit me nothing if I gain the whole world yet suffer the loss of my soul. So, help me to see God’s good and gracious purpose in all my trials.

Amen.

Saint Jude, pray for me!

Pope Francis Consecrates Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary

So today, October 13th, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as part of the celebration of the Year of Faith. Thousands of faithful Christians made the pilgrimage to the Vatican for this event. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima arrived in Rome yesterday and an all-night vigil watched over her. Today, Pope Francis consecrated the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the world.

Pope Francis offered prayers for peace and let the entire world know of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who we all should emulate to be.

I’ve joined in this online novena prayers group — PrayMoreNovenas.com. I really like this devotional as everyday I get a prayer emailed to me. It only takes a few minutes, I shut my door at work and pray with more than 63,000 other Believers. Today, we just finished a nine-day novena, leading up to the Marian consecration as a way to celebrate this event with the Pope. It was our goal to join in unity with the Holy Father in preparation.

We look to Mary, the Mother of our Lord, as the first Christian and the model of holiness. The novena we prayed and the Pope’s consecration presented profound opportunities for us to pray that Jesus may give us the Grace to be more and more like His mother and thus come closer to Him. And I truly believe that anytime we unite together in faith, good things happen in the world. I believe there is nothing that happens by coincidence. God has a plan, and he’s masterfully aligning all of us as his faithful followers to reaffirm, reinvigorate and renew our faith in Catholicism.

Here is the consecration prayer recited by Pope Francis in consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (from www.thecalltofatima.wordpress.com):

Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima,
with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence
we join our voice to that of all the generations
who call you blessed.

We celebrate in you the works of God,
who never tires of looking down with mercy
upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin,
to heal it and save it.

Accept with the benevolence of a Mother
the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence,
before this image of you that is so dear to us.

We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes
and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you.
We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard
and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.

Hold our life in your arms:
bless and strengthen every desire for good;
revive and nourish faith;
sustain and enlighten hope;
awaken and animate charity;
guide all of us along the path of holiness

Teach us your own preferential love
for the little and the poor,
for the excluded and the suffering,
for sinners and the downhearted:
bring everyone under your protection
and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.

Amen.

You can see a video here of Pope Francis’ Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima with a variation on the translation of the prayer.

Time to Tally Up

It’s Sunday evening and I’m sitting here thinking about my whirlwind of a weekend and the pending snowstorm that could start at any time. So, I guess I was pretty wrong when I said we had one last blast a few weeks ago. I guess I was merely wishing winter away, and I thought if I wrote it, it would make it so! We’re predicted to get anywhere from five to 12 inches, depending on who you listen to.

I took half a day off on Friday as part of my “white space Fridays” — still trying to find a balance. I really feel like I need it, because things are busier since I’ve gotten back — and most definitely more stressful. But I don’t think it’s so much of either of those, but more of a change in me that makes it seem so. It’s as busy as it’s always been. And, I still say “the highs are really highs and the lows are really lows.” — or maybe that’s just the things I take notice of, and I miss all the humdrum, in-between moments. I had a good cry on Thursday when I got home from work and that night I put some things in God’s hands. And you know what? All those things worked themselves out on Friday with ease. Thank you, God for always listening and guiding me.

I got home about 1:30 on Friday, and I made a pierogi casserole for a friend of mine who is laid up right now. I figured she might need a good Lenten meal (I’ll post the recipe later on my blog). She missed the last step in her basement, severely injuring her ankle and had major surgery the next morning. Her recovery is slow, she’s understandingly frustrated and climbing the walls! She does so much for others, it was the least I could do. So I ask you all to say a prayer for my friend Sandy, that she recovers quickly and finds the patience to relax and take the time she needs to make a full recovery.

The weekend was Palm Sunday at church. I made Tom leave the house 10 minutes early, because I figured all the “Creasters” would be coming out for Easter. I have to get a seat, because I can’t stand for an hour and a half mass. Creasters is the term that practicing Catholics have for those other Catholics who only attend mass on Christmas and Easter. There are so many of them that we have to get to church 45 – 60 minutes before mass starts in order to get a seat. Today, we ended up going to 11:30 am mass, which is normally crowded to start with and not our regular mass — we’re usually Saturday evening. But we still saw a lot of people we knew. And even more that we had no idea who they were. There were so many people standing, and I really felt bad for those who are regular church goers. I can only imagine what Easter Sunday will bring next week. Today we read the passion narrative according to Luke.

Before we went to mass, I was singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today…Alleluia!” to my cats. If you know the song, it’s beautiful and you can’t just sing it — you have to belt it out. Tom jokingly corrected me that “he is not risen today.” and I said, “I know that! — but today we should be singing ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?… were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh, oh, oh, oh, sometimes it caused me to tremble… tremble… tremble… were you there when they crucified my Lord?” And he looked at me like I had three heads. I told him we sang that song at St. Rose every Palm Sunday since I could remember and that I knew every word to every verse. Of course, we didn’t sing any of the traditional Easter songs that I love at mass to day, much to my disappointment.

I can't believe my youngest niece turns 14 this week!

I can’t believe my youngest niece turns 14 this week!

From mass, we drove straight to my sister’s house for my niece, Tara’s 14th birthday party — about a 45 minute drive. It’s hard to believe she’ll be 14 on Tuesday. It was a nice party as we haven’t seen a lot of their relatives since Megan’s birthday back in October! Everyone had so much new going on in their lives — one was planning a wedding and honeymoon, another’s daughter was moving back from Connecticut and another was getting over a severe cold that was moving into Spring allergies. Tom and I got to check out Debbie’s new Lazy-Boy furniture and play with their kittens — oh, I mean “cats.” The food was great and we had a relaxing and enjoyable day. Oh — and Debbie confirmed that they indeed sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” at mass today. Ahhhh — sometimes I miss the good ole days.

And I certainly miss Father Bob at St. Gregory’s!!! It will never be the same. And I pray that FB gets moved to SF. God knows what that means. 

This week starts Holy Week. I’m traveling on Wednesday and Thursday, but will be home by Thursday evening. The season of Lent ends on Thursday evening and our church has all kinds of masses and special events planned for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. I always give the staff Good Friday off.

So as we begin this Holy Week, I pray that I am able to take the time to slow down and think about what this week really means. And, I guess I need to tally up the dollars in my rice bowl. I tried really hard, I really did — but I ended up with $35 in my bowl from what I kept track of. So double that and round up (because I know there’s more that I didn’t keep track of) — I’m going to give an extra $125 to charity, while I continue to work on my language.

It would help if:

  • I never had to talk about politics again
  • Political decisions didn’t so drastically impact my small business
  • I didn’t have to deal with unpleasant situations
  • My husband didn’t say it all the time (he says he doesn’t say it all the time)
  • Benny didn’t jump on my stomach in the middle of the night; among other things
  • I didn’t get so frustrated after mass every week, because things are different
  • I had less stress at work
  • I could sleep in until 10:00 every day
  • I never used the “F” word as an adjective and term of endearment in the first place (now I do it so often out of habit)

It would help if I put all my trust in God — so that I didn’t have the stress, frustrations and weak moments, because then there would be no reason to ever use it.

Have a great week everyone!  Always B E L I E V E !

Heaven is for Real!

RainbowI was talking with Trish at work on Monday — although I can’t recall exactly what prompted it, but she recommended I read Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. I’m sure it had something to do with this blog and one of my stories. Now, this hasn’t been the first time that this book has been recommended to me. I think most of my neighborhood has already read it and more than one person thought I personally should read it. The book was published in 2010 and it’s amazing that it’s taken me almost three years to realize something so wonderful existed. I started reading this at 9 pm last night and finished it in three and a half hours. It’s such an engaging read — you can’t put it down!

As much as I could not relate to the story itself — I could relate to something in every chapter. So much as in less than ten minutes in the book, I was weeping to the point that I had to stop reading, get my composure and then start all over again. I cried through the entire book.

It’s a story of Heaven as seen through the innocent eyes of a four-year old child and truly a journey of faith for any reader. I may not have any children of my own and am unable to relate to the intricate relationship of a father and his son (paralleled with God and his Son), but the miracles, blessings and unexplained moments in medicine — I could relate to all of that.

And what I find very weird (and I’ll use this word, because Todd used this word sometimes in the book) is the fact that I started this blog last year having never read this book or even heard anything about it in detail — and I designed this blog with myself, my brother and my sister as children with rainbow typography and wings on each of us! At the time I even contemplated if I wanted to show us with wings, because I didn’t want to imply that we were angels! What a coincidence that I used the same kind of imagery that Coltin described in Heaven (and I don’t believe in coincidences.) I mean it was very difficult for me to decide what represented “faith” for the masthead. I thought of angels, a starry night, Heaven, clouds, beautiful landscapes and so much more. I searched for days, but nothing was right. I thought about what represented love to me. Those images weren’t right either. And then I got very nostalgic thinking about the stories I would tell about my friends and family and that’s when I remembered this photo that I had on my hard drive. I pulled it up, but it wasn’t quite right. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I had the idea to put wings on each of us! Did I have an inkling of Heaven? Or did someone from Heaven make a suggestion in my mind? Who knows, but I find it too much of a coincidence — and you know I  B E L I E V E.

I cried over a lot of things that just hit home for one reason or another. There’s a part of the book where Coltin is telling his Dad that he stayed with Pop in Heaven. Now Pop was Coltin’s great, great Grandpa — Todd’s Mother’s Father. He had passed from an accident at the age of 61. Coltin was four years old and had never known Pop or anything about him. Coltin told the story that everyone had wings in Heaven and that his wings were really tiny — and he was sad at that. But Pop’s wings were really, really BIG!

As I read the story, I guess I related Pop to my own Dad, who is already in Heaven. My Dad passed at age 62 — there were many similarities. For an instant, I imagined my Dad, clear as day, standing before me with these enormous, glorious wings, and he wrapped those wings around me, telling me that he’s been here with me every step of the way over the past 10 years. That was the moment I wept for a good 10 minutes. The vision was as clear as if he stepped into my living room — I could even feel the shadow that came over me as he spread his wings to wrap them around me. It was so incredibly comforting and so very real.

I have always thought that perhaps God answered many of our prayers over the years about my own health issues with the cancer. There were just so many things that would be unexplained — my doctors were always amazed at my resilience. I did more than beat the odds — to the point that my doctors started studying my case beyond the physiology of it.

I remember one trip that Tom and I took to the Cleveland Clinic. We were meeting with Dr. Rose for the first time. This was the second time the cancer came back, and Dr. Price recommended we go see this doctor who was doing all kinds of clinical trials with Endometrial cancer. He wanted to see if Dr. Rose had any other ideas as we had done chemotherapy the first time it came back. I was so scared, because I couldn’t do the chemo again — I couldn’t go through losing my hair again — and I remember sitting in this room all by myself waiting for this doctor I had never met. As I sat there, I prayed to Jesus — I asked him to sit in the empty chair next to me and help me get through this day. I remember that I felt like a five year old girl asking Jesus to hold my hand. I wasn’t praying to God — I was talking to Jesus. You know, we got the best news that day. I thought about that moment over the years — every time we went to Cleveland to talk to Dr. Rose. It was always the same exam room, same chairs — same empty chair, reserved for Jesus.

But I don’t think that I actually believed Jesus was sitting there. I always thought it just made me feel calmer. But now, after reading this book, I believe Jesus was there, because I asked him to be there. And I believe that he provided the answers all those times to Dr. Rose. Those amazing wonderful solutions — that he now whispers into the ears of Dr. Goodman and Dr. Rizk. And that touches my heart so deeply. I thanked him so many times for getting me to the other side and always staying with me.

I’ve always said to everyone who is worried about me or worried about me dying that I believe Heaven is such an amazing place that when we get there, we are going to wonder why we put ourselves through so much in this life to stay here. And after reading this book, I have all kinds of wonderful thoughts of what is actually like. I’ve always believed in Heaven. And now I feel like I have a small glimpse of what eternity holds for those of us who believe.

Always B E L I E V E .

I Believe

ChristianityI started to write this post, but then I decided I shouldn’t write it. I’ve thought about it for the past two nights. But then I realized that I started this blog to share the journey of my faith and what wonderful things remind me to always believe. So here I am, sharing this post.

So it goes, I got caught up on reading my magazines that have been sitting on the counter for a couple of months. The February 11, 2013 issue of People magazine, featuring Tim McGraw on the cover, had a story, buried pretty far back in the magazine, featuring a new book called “Beyond Belief”. The title of the article was called “Escape from Scientology.”

The story is a memoir of Jenna Miscavige Hill, who grew up as a child at the Ranch, a San Jacinto, CA boarding school for children of Scientology executives. Jenna is the niece of David Miscavige, the church’s head honcho. The article goes on to describe how they were brainwashed by intimidation and fear their entire lives. They didn’t watch television or interact with anyone on the outside. As children, they were treated like they were in a military boot camp with drills and physical labor.

She met her husband, Dallas while still part of the Scientology community. Dallas had worked at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles. So he could attest to how well celebrities were treated — with gorgeous accommodations. There was no risk from someone from the outside seeing the “child labor camps.”

As I read this article, I couldn’t believe that a cult such as this is operating right here in the United States. And the concept behind the organization is so ridiculous that it’s truly amazing that anyone with common sense would believe it. There’s nothing to substantiate it. But Jenna didn’t have the option to choose, she was born into it.

In the article, Jenna says, “I am no longer a believer. It was a huge adjustment to realize that the life I am living may be my one and only.” I lost two hours of sleep over that statement. My mind kept going over it — she was no longer a believer of Scientology — excellent — but now, she doesn’t believe in anything. And she doesn’t believe there’s anything more than this life. How disappointing and what a sad life.

How much I wanted to tell her to find Jesus and follow us that she will be healed. But can you imagine what she thinks about the Catholic Church or any organized religion of any kind? As I think about it from her perspective, how would you find that faith after all that you’ve been taught to believe? And it disturbs me that someone could easily say that my Catholic faith is really a cult. It’s not that I haven’t heard that before. I hear things all the time, even from people that are close to me, questioning their faith, asking me to justify my beliefs.

Did I have a moment of doubt? My Catholic faith is based on the Bible and years of history, as are other Christian religions. My Catholic faith teaches us love and compassion — there are no child labor camps. We teach our children to be kind to each other. We teach our children to know Jesus and to have faith in him. And to call on him when they are in trouble. Sure, we give money to the church, but the church needs money to operate. It’s not a profit center. And all are welcome, regardless of income, social status, where they live or how they dress. My Catholic faith is the foundation of my philanthropic efforts and that is good in this world.

So today as I struggled with my thoughts around this, I read today’s reflection in my Little Black Book for Lent and found my clarity:

Jesus said to the devil in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’” Luke 4:8

The tempting of Jesus in the desert is told in three Gospels and it represents the temptations that also confront every disciple of his… it goes on to say…

Temptations come at me from things I see people do and hear people say. They come at me from what I read and watch. All temptations are not equal. Some are stronger than others, but there is an even greater difference. Some temptations deal with superficial elements of my life, while others aim at a more foundational level.

There may be times when I am tempted to question whether Jesus’ whole way of life makes sense, whether these basic teachings are believable, or whether this whole Christianity thing is worth it after all.

Wow! I feel like Jesus himself wrote this reflection for me to read on this day after being conflicted, because of the Scientology article. I was being tempted to question my faith and reaffirm it. But not until I read this did I have the courage to write this post.

As for Jenna Miscavige Hill, her husband and her two beautiful little boys, I hope she finds Jesus in this lifetime. And I pray that she is able to heal from what she burden she came into this life with. And I pray that she is able to teach her boys about Jesus’ love and forgiveness. For that is what will heal her.

“I Have Seen Many Miracles”

The title of tonight’s blog is my favorite quote from Aunt Helen’s daughters at her funeral tonight. I had the chance to talk to Arlene, Nancy and Elaine about all the things that Aunt Helen experienced the last few days leading up to her passing. I had posted earlier that this side of my family was very superstitious and had many stories of an unexplainable nature. Tonight was no exception.

Aunt Helen was on pain medication during her last week, but she was still of sound mind as she knew all those who came to visit. She would comment on things she was seeing that nobody else could see — Nancy was sure that Aunt Helen had been visited by all those who passed. Skeptics would probably say that it was the morphine causing her mind to conjure up these illusions. The night before she passed, she woke up, completely lucid and told Nancy, “I have seen many miracles.” Nancy asked her what she meant and she closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.

I had never heard of anyone saying those words as the day drew near for their passing. I’ve been thinking about it all night. I believe that maybe she saw those who had passed — and that alone was miraculous. Or maybe she saw the future and saw miracles happening all around us. Or maybe she saw something even greater — maybe she saw Heaven and all the Saints and Jesus himself. We may never know until that day comes when we are welcomed into Heaven.