Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This year, Jesus has me doing the "Ignatian Retreat in Everyday Life" with the good Jesuits (and associates) at St. Michael's.  It is blowing my mind.  It has also loosed my pen.  Back when I was in Mr. Ingerson's 6th grade English class (now dubbed ELA), I wanted to be a poet.  Somewhere in there the 11 year old still lurks:

I thought I saw a future
Arrayed in crimson glow
The heat, the want sustained me,
Til I perceived the foe,
Jesus did correct me,
He turned me right around
And offered, instead, shadows,
With love beyond all bounds



A bit precious, I know, I know.  It is a tendency of mine.  Even in the free-fall of Letting go into Jesus hands.  No matter, the landing will alter all that. 


Jesus:  You are now in your cocoon and liquefying.  As this happens, all of the things you were float past one last time.  Let them go.  Do not worry that you are becoming them again.  Let them go.  Fall into my hands.  As the nothingness overtakes you, be still, be quiet, choose your “inputs” wisely and sparingly.  Do not let in anything that is not of Me.  On the other hand, be immersed in Me and the things of Me – My Word, My Sacraments, My Music, and most of all Prayer.  I will come to you there and re-order every cell.  Then you will see other things you were, long ago, before you turned away.  Let them come.  They are a part of what you will become.  They are a part of my restoration of what the disturber attempted to destroy.  But remember, I have promised Double for your trouble (Instead of your former shame, I will give you a double portion – Isaiah 65:7).  Restoration is just the foundation.  THEN we build, you and I.  For now, quiet, still, prayer, let go and allow the darkness of winter to rest the houmous of your soul.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

God's Little Flower in Pink and Purple


I have been looking for a new, affordable purse for a few weeks.  No big whoop, but wanted something smallish, lightweight, durable and attractive without any flashy doodads or designer advertisements on it.  My old one has just plain worn out.  I used to be a clothes horse and would have had several others to choose from whilst I hunted.  Years of single-income family life has whittled away my store of such things and the only “spares” I have are ancient beaded evening bags.  If I got invited to a 90’s themed wedding, I’d have been all-set, otherwise I had to keep looking.  

My daughter and her peeps have gone through, and are pretty much done with, the Vera Bradley craze.  When she was in 4th grade, she was accused of having a “fake” VB lunchbox, and it was true.  I just thought the lunchbox was cute when I bought it and that it wouldn't matter to 10 year olds that it wasn't designer.  Wrong, so, so wrong.  Well that is all behind the now almost 7th graders, but I have finally warmed up to the appeal of the bright colored, soft bags.  They are generally way beyond budget, but I happened to find a tremendous deal on one after another fruitless search for above mentioned bag in traditional leather.  So I bought it.  I splurged and spent almost $30 on a purse for MYSELF.  I rationalized.  I am working part-time and am entitled to buy myself a nice Mother’s Day present.  My daughter could not believe it.  My husband was glad I treated myself.  I felt o.k. with it and liked the addition of color to my wardrobe.  It is a pink fabric with a multi-colored paisley pattern.  Pink and purple pretty much; girly fun. On with life.  Catching up on what was going on in the world I read the incredible story of the young Bangladeshi woman pulled from the rubble of the garment factory she works in seventeen days after its collapse.  


She was in the prayer room at the time of the collapse and her first public words were thanking God for saving her life.  Over one thousand of her coworkers did not escape.  They died keeping our garment prices down.  What was this beautiful, hauntingly beautiful, young woman wearing upon her resurrection?  Pink and purple.  We are all one body.  Everything we do effects the other.  We may be separated by half a world and vastly different circumstances, but that young woman is my little sister. 


Pope Francis is trying to remind us of our communion with the poor.  We are all poor and dependent upon God for everything from each breath we take to all the provisions we need.  The more we find our security in our bank accounts or our personal abilities the more we are in danger of losing everything.  Our nation has been given more gifts and blessings than any other nation in any time in human history.  We have been given the ability to change all human society by spreading basic technology, like water supply, medicine and hygiene, etc.  Many, many Americans have done those things.  Many, many more have adopted the lifestyle of hoarding and setting up stores for our own small circle.  We have not been faithful with our talents.  

We have plundered our land and killed our children for our own false prosperity and convenience.  From Gosnell in Philadelphia to Castro in Cleveland and thousands just like them across the country, we have shown utter disdain for all that is good and pure and beautiful.  We have preferred dumpster diving to God’s banquet and are proud of it.  We have cast God out and asked Him to remove His hand of blessing.  He is a gentleman.  He will continue to allow our free will.  As in Hosea, He constantly calls, “Come back to Me,” but we defiantly turn our backs. 

Our walls have been breached.  We mourn, make repairs, celebrate our strength and move on, forgetting the depth of our need of Him.  We ignore the signs piling up around our ears.  He is calling.  He is Mercy.  He is Love.  Repent.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Humble in His Red Shoes


So much has been made of our brand new Papa Francis’ humility during this precious media honeymoon.  Our new Holy Father eschews the trappings of his elevated status as the Servant of the Servants of Christ.  It is a beautiful thing to see, and to pray with him that our Church more truly reflect a love of spiritual poverty and detachment from this world which we are passing through. 

However, can one honestly look at Papa Ben in his red mozzetta or santa-like hat and not see his humility?  Thanks be to God we are not all created the same.  Someone may express his love for the poor by wearing shoes so worn out that his friends buy him new ones for his trip to Rome.  Others may do so by keeping alive a tradition of having a local cobbler continue his ancient craft of creating beautiful red footwear for the Vicar of Christ.  Why must we accuse one of pride, because another’s humility wears different trappings? 

Obviously Pope Francis is a humble man.  How can it be any less obvious that, when an aging, shy and retiring man, accepts the highest office of his Church, and brings back all that is beautiful and old, out of honor for the office and the Man it represents, that, this too, is humility? 

I am thrilled at the way the Holy Spirit is moving in our Church through the election of Francis in this new Springtime of Evangelization.  I am grateful to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for his humility in obeying the Holy Spirit’s promptings to step down.  I am thankful to God for the great gift of the life and papacy of our wildly charismatic Blessed John Paul II.  I owe an eternal debt for all of the Holy Fathers our Church has been blessed with, and all of those we have struggled through.  All is from Divine Providence for the Salvation of Souls.  

Each flower of virtue is unique, but points to Jesus, the font of all virtue, truth and beauty.  Let us find ways to always see the good in each without denigrating the other.  I am falling in love with our new Papa Francis.  But it does not in any way lead me to forsake my old Papa Ben.  Long live Papa Francis; long live Papa Ben.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012




December 21, 2012 marks the end of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.  Many people of varying backgrounds, beliefs and disciplines believe that this points to a cataclysmic event or even the end of the world.  Hollywood has been happy to capitalize on this frenzy with everything from “history” programs on television to enormous budget full length films.  What is the Catholic response to this, and other similar phenomena?  When we worry about things that we have no control over, we can think about what Our Lady said to Juan Diego in Guadalupe, Mexico:

Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: Do not let it disturb you.  Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.

End-of-the-world dates come and end-of-the-world dates go.  But Our Lord reminds us that no one knows the day nor the hour, not even He, only the Father.  We are all called to work while it’s day, be in a continual state of growth towards Jesus, be in a state of grace and prepared for our own individual “end-of-the-world”, that is, our deaths.  As world and national events grow darker and more violent, we as Christians are called to be brighter lights and to ever deepening conversion.  If each Christian truly followed Christ, God could change the world very quickly.  Look what He did with Our Lady's one little, “Yes”.  So let us celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this year, on 12/12/12, with full confidence in being her beloved children, who needn't worry about things beyond our control, but simply remain in Her arms and in His Love.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nick Wallenda's Mercy Walk



Years ago I was given a vision of Niagara Falls as a symbol of Jesus’ Divine Mercy.  The vision started up in the hill country of Western New York, in the creeks and streams.  My eyes were drawn along the gathering waters, through small towns, past industrial sights, the waters working their way to Lake Erie.  I sensed that the water represented the events of our lives, but most importantly, our sins.  Where Erie flows into the Niagara River, the waters got rough.  The speed increased; the waters dashed against the rocks.  Eventually all of these trickles and flows lead to the Mighty Falls.  Each individual drop goes over, unheard in the deafening collective roar. 

The flow continues down the Gorge, carved out by millennia of movement.  Through whirls and swirls, a calmer, deep green area is met, near where Stella Niagara Monastery and Our Lady of Fatima Shrine are.  It’s as if Blessed Mother turns us around, after all that chaos and hurt, to finally look and see.  She says, “Find your sins.  Look for the drops of your sins in my Son’s Mercy.” Of course, we cannot find them.  When we throw ourselves into His Mercy, our sins are forgiven, they are gone, forever.  When blood and water gushed forth from His Sacred Heart, a Niagara Falls of Mercy began.  It continues to flow, needed more than ever in our time.  We look at the Falls from the Gorge and we see the power, the majesty, but not the individual drops.  Blessed Mother always turns us towards her Son and His Mercy.  In the deep green calm, she smiles and turns us to His Love. 

Niagara Falls has always been a sacred place.  As such it attracts all kinds of people and all kinds of spirits.  What should be a holy, inspiring place is surrounded by gambling and prostitution and your garden variety of human degradation.  But, to St. Faustina, Jesus said that the greatest sinners have more right to His Mercy.  Jesus also said that one day He will return and separate the sheep from the goats.  What is the island that separates the two main cataracts of Niagara?  Yup, Goat Island.  One can imagine a flock of goats scrambling up onto the island just seconds before going over to their demise.  Pray for the goats in your life.  Pray that they scramble up before they are dashed against the rocks. 

In St. Faustina’s vision she was shown the now very familiar image of Our Lord with one red and one white ray coming forth from Jesus’ Sacred Heart.  “Oh blood and water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, I Trust in You!”  The morning after I had this vision, I opened the “Buffalo News” to the picture page, and there, half a page large, was a photo of the Falls, one lit up red, the other white.  It was in honor of our fallen soldiers for Memorial Day, but it was a confirmation for me.  A confirmation of Jesus’ Love and Mercy.

So what does this have to do with Nick Wallenda?  Well, I must admit, when I first heard of Mr. Wallenda’s desire to cross the Falls on a wire, in the long tradition of his family (some 16 whom have died in this unusual profession, if I’m not mistaken), I thought it was foolish and irresponsible.  He is a husband and father; how could he even consider this?  Throughout his weeks of preparation I noted his Christian t-shirts, his ever present cross necklace and most of all his gentlemanly manners.  Then he submitted to the harness and I really wondered what he was about.  Still not really being my “thing” I didn’t pay too much attention, until the big day.  Then I started thinking about how the whole world was going to be focusing their attention on Niagara Falls, or as I think of it, Mercy Falls.  And so I watched.  Nick Wallenda, diligently prepared and humbly smiling, got up and walked.  Then it happened!  He started praising Jesus and giving thanks to his Heavenly Father.  The whole world was watching and He was giving Jesus praise.  How powerful!  Various newscasters and even his father tried to get him to stop, but Mr. Wallenda kept giving God praise.  Awesome.  What is noteworthy is that when the mist was thickest, the swirling winds heaviest, that is the moment when he was praying the Holy Name and giving praise the most.  “I will praise You in the storm!” 

Afterwards, when asked by Canadian Customs officials what the purpose of his visit was, Mr. Wallenda said, “To inspire people worldwide!”  Indeed he did.  We Christians especially should be mindful of his lesson to Praise Jesus in the midst of the storms.  Praise is a powerful weapon and should be wielded liberally! 

Although Nick Wallenda is not a Catholic and probably did not know it, the date he walked was June 15th, which this year was the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.  As Catholics we are taught that we can make “reparation” to Jesus’ Heart by our good works.  This means that when Jesus’ Heart is wounded by the sins of the world, we can comfort Him!  One very real, but almost disregarded way in which Our Lord’s Sacred Heart is wounded is by using His Sacred Name in ugly ways.  It’s against the 2nd Commandment, and no, that did not change when “everybody” started doing it.  HOW BEAUTIFUL that, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, Nick Wallenda, made worldwide reparation for this particular sin, by praising and speaking Jesus Holy Name with love and reverence. 

Nick Wallenda showed himself to be a complete gentleman, and a good steward of the gifts and talents God gave him.  God bless him and his beautiful family.  May the Sacred Heart of Jesus always be their grateful abode.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Divine Mercy Red Velvet Cupcakes

I belong to an amazing prayer group at my parish called "Ladies of the Lord".  These wonderful ladies (and an occasional husband or two), lead by Dawn Curazzato, do the most important work of the Church; they pray.  Today they are running the now annual parish Divine Mercy Celebration, which means in addition to prayer, we offer food!  These ladies can BAKE.  I was asking Our Lord, "What could I bake that would be Divine-Mercy-ish?"   Goofy, I know, but this is my prayer life.  I kept asking and didn't feel drawn to anything.  Then I walked by my husband's Saveur magazine, which had a big slice of red velvet cake with white icing adorning the cover.  OOooH!  Red and white and bake-able!  So I settled on red velvet cupcakes as the Ladies always order a big beautiful cake for the reception.

As I was getting ready to bake I thought, "I wish I had gone to Michael's to get a pack of gold foil cupcake liners.  That would be really perfect for Jesus' big Feast."  I went hunting for my plain old white cupcake liners.  I have a pack of about 1,000 of them which I bought at a bakery supply store (I bake gluten-free goodies for sale).  I could not find the dern thing.  I searched all my usual spots; I think my Guardian Angel hid them on me.  Then I had one more spot to look where I keep some lesser used, holiday oriented things.  Nope, no white liners.  However, as I reached past the Valentine and Halloween items, my hand fell upon what felt like a brand-new pack of liners.  I pulled it out and it there it was, a pack of exactly 24 gold foil liners, pretty as could be.  Don't remember buying them, though I'm sure I did.    I joyfully baked my Mercy Cupcakes and will add them to the tables, heavy laden with God's bounty.  They probably won't be the tastiest offering there, nor even the prettiest, but to me they are just perfect.  Jesus, you are so good to me!

By the way, I looked again and my white cupcake liners were right there, in the same spot they always are...