Monday, July 28, 2014

remembering Father Stanley Francis Rother, Oklahoma martyr

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the death of Father Stanley Rother. 

You may recall that I’ve been commissioned by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to write a biography of Servant of God Father Stanley Rother, the Oklahoma missionary whose cause for canonization is in progress.

I've blogged about him and his ministry to the Tz'utujil indians of Guatemala many times, for example here and here. And I have published several articles on him. Here’s one, and here’s another.

It all began here, growing up as a member of the Rother clan in the town of Okarche, Oklahoma:

remembering Stan, at the home of her brother Tom and sister in law Marti
Okarche, OK
Memorial to their hometown saint, Holy Trinity Catholic School and parish
a young Stanley, with his nephew at a Christmas gathering in Okarche

As a missionary priest serving in the Oklahoma mission in Santiago Atitlán, Padre Francisco, called Apla's by the Guatemala Tz'utujil indians, had a special place in his heart for the children. 

It's not difficult to see how this love and concern manifested itself in his earnest commitment and ministry for the widows and the orphans during Guatemala's bloody civil war.

Please join me and the Church in Oklahoma and Guatemala in praying for the canonization of this faithful priest and martyr:
Heavenly Father,
source of all holiness,
in every generation you raise up
men and women heroic in love and service.
You have blessed your Church
with the life of Stanley Rother,
priest, missionary, and martyr.
Through his prayer, his preaching,
his presence, and his pastoral love,
you revealed Your love and Your presence
with us as Shepherd.
If it be your will,
may he be proclaimed
by the universal church
as martyr and saint,
living now in your presence
and interceding for us all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
And would you join me also in praying for a publisher for my Rother biography? I am confident and waiting for the right home for this important manuscript.

To join the cause, visit the Father Stanley Rother Guild -- or contact me!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

the music in my head

Original image source: here

I’ve had a number of songs on "repeat" play lately.

But I have also had tunes pop into my mind—and in my dreams—out of seemingly “nowhere,” which I know can only come from the Supreme Musician, who knows how healing and fun music is for me.

Here’s a sampling of the music that’s been playing in my head and on my iPhone... can you hear God’s voice talking to you, too?

The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret.
The winds of change are blowing wild and free,
You ain't seen nothing like me yet.

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.
Nothing that I wouldn't do.
Go to the ends of the Earth for you,
To make you feel my love
To make you feel my love

Make You Feel My Love
Adele, “19”

“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?... No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8: 35-39

 +   +   +   +   +

When I die, I don't want to rest in peace
I want to dance in joy,
I want to dance in the graveyards, the graveyards
and while I'm alive,
I don't want to be alone mourning the ones who came before
I want to dance with them some more,
let's dance in the graveyards

Dance in the Graveyards
Delta Rae, “Carry the Fire”

 +   +   +   +   +

I'm 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I'm heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life…

15 I'm all right with you
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got a 100 years to live…

Half time goes by
Suddenly you're wise
Another blink of an eye
67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We're moving on

"100 Years"
Five for Fighting, “100 Years”

“Man is but a breath,
his days are like a passing shadow.” ~Psalm 144:4

 +   +   +   +   +

Nothing really matters in the end you know
All the worry is over
Don't be afraid for me my friend, one day we all fall down forever

And you are not alone
Laying in the light
Put out the fire in your head
And lay with me tonight

Not Alone
Patty Griffin, “Living with Ghosts”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

if I could tell you stories

That moment where I realize I’m at the bottom of the page, and I honestly have no idea what I just read.  Perhaps you can relate.

I have been so easily distracted lately.  Not only is my mind constantly forgetting things, even meetings or events. But it also effortlessly wanders off into meandering wonderings.

At daily Mass, for example, as I’m kneeling, preparing to go up for communion, I glance at the minister of the cup and think, “whoa, he looks like he’s gained at least 10 pounds!”—and there goes the my attention down the trail of errant thoughts.

I am aware that a lot of this is temporary. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that my mind—much like the rest of “me”—has experienced an overload of deep, intense, and life-changing moments and emotions.  How can I feel both overloaded and empty?

I know it’s going to take a while. Much like healing from a surgery, in this mourning, shifting, and grief, there is no substitute for time.

So on days like today, when it is, literally, impossible for me to remain concentrated on any one thing; I make a new plan of action.

·               I give myself a break. I begin by stopping any and all negative/dismissive/judgmental language about myself. You know the kind, those demeaning statements that always imply I should be doing better.
·               If I have an important task that must be completed, I slow down, take notice of what I’m thinking—or where I got distracted, and simply go back to the original process. As the PHOX song says, “Everything I do I do in slow motion.”
·               When possible, like at Mass!—I close my eyes. This simple act makes my other senses pay more attention.
·               At prayer, or sometimes when I’m in bed with too many things flying around inside my head, I hold a small cross or a crucifix in my hand and gently touch it with my fingers. Again, it alerts my other senses and helps me focus.
·               And did I mention I give myself a break? With temperatures and the heat index over a hundred, I can’t go outside as much as I’d like. But the Oklahoma evenings still allow me to sit under the stars, or go on a late night walk with my hubby.

Would you believe me if I told you that I sat down to write a blog post about music

Ah, well… maybe the next one!

Monday, July 21, 2014

meet the Patroness of Sarcasm...

My husband and I are blessed to be godparents together to nine amazing "kids."  

Jordan Stavinoha is one of ours, a remarkable young woman and Texas A&M Aggie (although her Longhorn Madrina does not hold that against her), who is serving as a volunteer at a children's home in Honduras for a year.

Jordan's blog "rice+beans+rosaries" about this challenging adventure should be on everyone's radar. Her wisdom, insight, and spiritual understanding are rich beyond her years. And by the way, she is hilarious!

Here's a taste of her latest post:
            I had no idea how poorly I understood God’s love until He put me in His shoes. The funny thing is that my revelation did not come through an eye-opening interaction with a precious Honduran child. On Saturday I needed to find a plunger. No, not for the reason you think, my system is rather accustomed to boiled yucca by now… my shower refused to drain and needed a good plunging. 
        Living in community with all the other volunteers is one of the coolest aspects of life here at NPH, so it was easy to pop door-to-door at our house until I found a plunger. Also, the atmosphere in our house is much like that of a suburban neighborhood in the 1950’s. So not an hour later, the girl from whom I borrowed the plunger was at my door asking to borrow a cup of sugar. 
        Sounds normal, but this is the point where our omnipotent, omnipresent, omni-everything God humbly lined His heart up with mine in such a fashion that let me glimpse at His daughter standing in my doorway the way He sees her daily. She simply asked for a cup of sugar the way any normal human person would. 
         “Since I lent you my plunger, you need to lend me a cup of sugar.” 
         Logical, equal, fair. 
         But her request didn’t seem fair...
 Click here to read the rest of her blog post--"a cup of sugar and a punch in the face"!

Friday, July 18, 2014

holy seasons and doubt

Our holy seasons always ought to be something special. They are really holy mysteries, and they should awaken a mystery as echo, as consideration, as prayer, in our minds and in our hearts.

The theme…is that, somehow man will be confronted with the Last Things *, will be placed in the final order, will face the definitive questions, and definitive answers will be expected of him.  Whenever the Church dons solemn purple vestments, it always means that serious questions are being set forth and we are facing the great connections, the principles of universal validity… This means that we think about man, about ourselves, from the perspective of the ultimate reality and, in so doing, become ready—really ready—to encounter and respond to Him, the Ultimate, in an appropriate way, as befits a creature encountering the [Absolute] Ultimate.”

* Note from the book’s editor: The term Last Things refers to death, particular judgment, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the General Judgment, the end of the world, and the establishment of God’s Kingdom.

~Alfred Delp, S.J. in

I am reading a collection of homilies and reflections on Advent. Yes, I said Advent—in July!

I ordered the book because its author, Jesuit priest and martyr Alfred Delp, is often quoted in the Magnificat Magazine reflections, and his insightful thoughts consistently speak to my heart.

This particular book, “Advent of the Heart,” is a collection of Father Delp’s homilies at his parish before being arrested by the Nazi, along with meditations that he wrote from prison.

I have a feeling you’ll hear me talk about this book again.

It’s a bit daring, maybe even dangerous, for me to blog about the themes I’m reading while I’m in the process of reflecting on them. I have many more questions than I have answers.!

Take the quote I cited above, for example. While the author’s statement regarding “holy seasons” is clearly meant in relation to the Church’s liturgical seasons, I am struck by the reality that the confrontation with “definitive questions” that he describes applies rather well to significant, major life events—be it the birth of a baby, a sudden crisis, or as is the case for me right now, the death of a parent.

Major life moments like these are our very own personal holy seasons, and they, too, confront us in a very private, personal way, with the ultimate questions on life and its meaning.

I would describe what I’m living right now as I mourn the death of my dad as a “holy season.” It seems a very appropriate label.

If I’m honest with myself, this “holy season” of mourning has also demanded that I confront deep questions and fears, even doubts, about death and about my certainty (or lack of?) about the meaning of life—both now and in the hereafter.

In other words, whether I admit it to myself or not, God knows that along with the sadness and grieving, my heart is full of questions. What do I really believe? Why are we here? Why death? How confident and certain am I about the “Absolute Ultimate”? Is it okay to acknowledge doubt?

More on that next time.

At the end of the day, at least today, all I can do is kneel humbly before God… right in the midst of this holy mystery that is my life.

to see original source click her
I did manage to keep Michael’s garden alive while he traveled on back to back work trips. But I admit I had quite a bit of help from Nature…. We’ve had rain in Oklahoma... and temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Yes, in JULY!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

may the holy saints of Carmel pray for us

statue of Elijah
Elijah's Grotto, within the Church of Stella Maris 

There are certain geographical places where the veil between heaven and earth is so thin, that my spirit experiences with certainty and clarity the holy untouchable. Without words or logical explanations, the presence of God wraps around me like a warm blanket.

Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean, is such a place for me.

The first time I visited the Church of Stella Maris in Haifa, I felt like a character in an old Charleston Heston Bible movie.  There I stood, where hermits and pilgrims have walked for over 3,000 years. There I knelt, praying at the cave where the prophet Elijah built an altar to God.

According to the Book of Kings, that altar on Mount Carmel is where Elijah challenged 450 Baal prophets to declare whose god was truly in control. Historians point out that the mountain has been a sacred, holy place for believers since at least 15th Century B.C.!

And most importantly, it is at this specific site, Elijah’s grotto, where the Carmelite Order was founded in the year 1210.

I have always felt a special, unique connection to the Carmelite saints, in a particular way with St. Therese of Lisieux, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and of course, Edith Stein, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. [Note: to read more about Edith Stein, I recommend this great biography! :-)  ]

On this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, may the holy saints of Carmel pray for us!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Stella Maris Church,
Haifa, Israel