Thursday, March 28, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

To Pray Always


Somewhere along the way, even among the suffering within these walls where we temporarily live and on a larger scale, the suffering endured in the hospital, I have forgotten to pray.  How can this even be possible?  We are in the middle of Lent, both literally and spiritually, and yet I have started most of my days without any time on my knees at all.  Most evenings are also without much in the ways of recited prayer.  Why am I failing so miserably?

I wasn't always like this.  In the beginning, I was praying constantly.  I offered every breath Fulton breathed to Our Lord as a silent prayer of thanksgiving for saving my child.  Every flutter or pain in my own chest was offered in reparation for my own sins and used as a reminder of how greatly I needed a conversion of heart.  Hours of "Venerable Fulton Sheen, please heal my son" have been sent above, begging him to ask Our Lord to grant Fulton a miraculous heaing.  Every kiss and caress was not only for my son but for the Divine Face of God as well.  I had long, penitential and heartfelt conversations with Our Lady, St. Joseph, Ven. Fulton Sheen and of course My Lord Himself.  And I frequently wept out of sheer love of God.

But the last two weeks have been quite dry overall. 

My mother came to visit for about a week, and then my family came.  Perhaps it was the change of pace and change of routine that snapped me into an 'all business' mode.  I suddenly had other people around me and others to consider.  I had a house that seemed to get a lot messier in no time at all, a 21 month old baby to fret over, constant conversations, questions to answer and piles of laundry to wash.  I suddenly was worried about dishes being broken, spots on the upholstery, and rented towels with stains on them.  Food was sparse due to not being able to go shopping, so we left the house a lot to either go out to eat or run the errands I have not been able to do in a month or more.

And then there was the string of little excursions with everyone.  The aquarium, NASA, ferry boat rides, trips to the beach.  Absolutely, it was wonderful to be reunited with my family and to breathe fresh air.  It was good to get away for awhile with Fulton and do something 'normal' for once.  Yes, very good indeed.  But why was I so quickly able to set Our Lord aside? 

Perhaps it is because I have given up on a big miracle.  I have accepted the small steps forward as all He was going to do for us, and moved on.  Like St. Bernadette, I accepted that perhaps my role in all of this was to suffer as best I could, to prepare Fulton for his own road of suffering, and offer encouragement to others whenever I could.  Miracles, I decided, are for other people.  Whether we are unworthy of such a kiss from God, or because more grace would come to us through the daily suffering, I suppose it really does not matter.  Maybe it was a mix of both thoughts that changed my outlook.  I don't know.

I feel so ungrateful.  Even though there have been no miracles to amaze the doctors, the very fact that Fulton still lives is proof enough of God's love and that perhaps He wills something greater for my son.  And obviously I am comfortable with His decision.  But what rattles me is that despite all He had graced me with, all He had done for us, and all He still has in store for us, I behaved as one of the ungrateful lepers who was healed and disappeared.

Please Lord, please.  Do not let me wander so far from Your Cross again.  I return to you, contrite and humbled once again, but trusting You will not abandon me so long as my soul continues to long for You.  Strengthen my love I have for you in Your Holy Face, that I may once again at every moment offer my care and caresses I lovingly apply to my son's face to Your face as well.  Accept these physical acts as loving prayers to You, so that when my mind wanders or becomes forgetful, You will remember the tenderness of my touch.  Amen

"I firmly wish that my face reflecting the intimate pains
of my soul, the suffering and love of my heart, be more
honoured! Whoever gazes upon me already consoles me."
(Our Lord Jesus Christ to Sister Pierina)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St Patrick's Day


And on the lighter side:  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Usually I tend to get a little giddy on this day, but this year I celebrate it with a sense of mourning.  Loss.  And a deep sense of grief.  For this is the first St. Patrick's Day I have ever had WITHOUT my precious green Hostess Sno-Ball.  And so I leave you to reveiw my musings of happier days in my childhood - days of grassy green smiles and coconut dreams:

When we were kids, my sisters and I could hardly wait for March. Not because spring was coming, mind you. Oh no. We were excited because we would get to eat Sno-balls! Those cream filled, coconut and marshmallow covered chocolate cake treats were cherished among my sisters and I. They were better than a pot of gold.

You see, growing up, I never got the kinds of lunches other kids got. While they brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Wonder Bread, with bags of chips and Twinkies, we were stuck with liverwurst sandwiches on whole wheat with a hard-boiled egg and carrot. We longed for the treats other kids ate and would sometimes lament out loud our culinary woes. My mother would listen with a sympathetic ear, and sometimes she would bake wheat berry cookies, but overall, there was no reason for morale to improve.

Don’t misunderstand me. My mother loved us, and she did the best she could on the income we had. Every bite of food was packed full of vitamins, fiber and minerals. We simply ate to live – we certainly did not live to eat. And that was why St. Patrick’s Day was so special. Because on St. Patrick’s Day, we got to eat Sno-balls!

If there is nothing else my mother taught us as children, she made sure we knew that we had Irish blood in us. She taught us the Irish jig. We actually loved corned beef and cabbage. And we learned to never, NEVER call anyone super! (Actually, the word was ‘souper’, but to a child they sounded the same, so super was not in our vocabulary.) We knew the real story behind the potato famine by the time we were in first grade.

And did I mention that we got to eat Sno-balls on St. Patrick’s Day?

On the morning of St. Patty’s Day, the Sno-ball effect would begin. We prepared for school like an Olympic athlete prepares for competition.
Get dressed in an all green outfit, braid hair with green ribbons, and straighten ‘Kiss Me I’m Irish’ pin.
March downstairs and eat green oatmeal and drink green milk, all the while focusing on the green-gold prize: the Sno-ball.
Wait for Dad to play Irish Night at the Pops and dance the Irish jig for Mother.
Polite, Vaseline teeth smiles, arms motionless at our sides as our feet flew wildly to and fro to music only a leprechaun should dance to.



Sweat pouring off our brow, green ribbons flying.



At last, the school bus would come and we flew out the door, never looking back, always looking forward. Looking forward. To lunch.

We soon found that other kids in our classes looked forward to our St. Patrick’s Day lunch as well. During the rest of the year, they usually glanced at out lunches and rolled their eyes or snorted as they scooted a few scoots away (liverwurst, eggs and milk do not make for the best breath, after all). But, on St. Patty’s Day, they would actually crowd around us to gaze at our green feast. A can of Green River soda, a green apple, a few slices of green pepper and celery sticks with peanut butter. And then, there it was – a very special, just for St. Patrick’s Day glistening green Sno-ball.

As I ate this lunch, the kids would ask why my family was so weird on St. Patrick’s Day. I would then begin to happily babble, between bites of cake and coconut, about St. Patrick, how one day I would live in Ireland, and about the plight of the Catholics during the potato famine.

“Famine? What’s a famine?” an older boy once asked as I licked the last of the green coconut flakes from my fingers.

Satiated, I sighed and turned to the poor, uneducated child before me. “A famine is when there is nothing good to eat for anyone. Sometimes people get so desperate that they eat strange things, just to stay alive. In Ireland, they had nothing good to eat and many people died of a disease called green mouth because all they could eat was grass.”

Looking closely at my green coconut speckled mouth and the careless remains of my lunch on the table, he snorted, “Yeah. I’ve seen that before.” And he wandered off to recess.

We laugh at the stories now, but I can also appreciate their underlying theme. We were taught about our Irish heritage in a way that made my sisters and I fiercely proud of who we are. Our passion for our history was stronger than our worries of what others thought of us, and this same passion allowed us, one day a year, to boldly bring our Catholic faith to others around us. I pray that I am able to pass along this same passion for our faith to my children as well.

Your assignment: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
Learn the Irish jig and eat green pizza. Tape a shamrock on every part of your child that is mentioned in St. Patrick’s Prayer. Discuss the Trinity. One year we had a Conversion Hunt: I hid 200 popsicle sticks in our yard and 12 kids hunted for them like Easer eggs. Each stick was a person they found and “converted”, just as St. Patrick did. Celebrate this day while instilling in your children a strong connection to and pride for their Catholic heritage – no matter what nationality they may be!

And remember to get excited about your faith yourself. Enthusiasm, after all, has a “snowball” effect on everyone!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mother's Prayer For Her Sick Child


O Heart of Jesus, merciful and compassionate Heart, look with an eye of pity upon my sick son. 

O You, Who endured upon earth all that was most painful, relieve his sufferings!  In memory of the bitter desolation You endured in teh Garden of Olives, console him in his misery.  For the sake of Your cruel scourging and frightful crowning with thorns, grant him patience in his tribulations.  By Your most wearisome carrying of Your cross, grant him unshaken constancy in this trial and perfect resignation to God's holy will.  By Your cruel death, grant him a calm and peaceful departure from this life, if so it is best for his eternal welfare. 

But if, O Sacred Heart, it be not opposed to Your greater honor, grant him a prolongation fo life and restoration to perfect health.  I beg this of You by Your own infinite goodness and mercy.  It was for his welfare that You cast him upon this bed of sickness.  Give him light to discern Your loving designs and, with great ardor, to seek the salvation of his soul.  Take from him his former tepidity in Your service and fill him with a loving zeal for Your honor.  Grant that in this present tribulation he may understand how insignificant and transitory are all earthly joys.  Strengthen his heart to live henceforth solely for You and heaven, O God; and when You have given health to his soul, restore likewise the strength of body.  O Jesus, You Who healed so many sick, heal him also, that he may gratefully magnify Your name and, after a long life of piety and good works, depart happily in You, O Lord, to love You and praise You and glorify You forever adn ever!