Monday, October 13, 2014

wisdom from Gregory the Great

self portrait in Autumn shadows
“And what else are we doing when we leave behind the language of the world for the words of the sacred mysteries, when we express as best we can the praise and power of our Creator, if not speaking in new tongues? When we remove malice from another’s heart by our good word are we not, so to speak, picking up serpents? And when we hear the wisdom of the world, but choose not to act on it, surely we have drunk poison and survived.  As often as we catch sight of our sister or brother stumbling on life’s path, and we gather round them with all our strength, and support them by our presence, what are we doing but laying our hands upon the sick to heal them?  Surely these miracles are all the greater because they are spiritual; they are all the more significant since it is the hart and not the body which is being restored. 

I’m thinking of my daughter and daughter in law wiping toddler noses, helping each other, and making meals for a new mother… they are, daily, laying hands upon the sick and needy and healing them with their loving touch. 

I’m thinking of a sister in law who with generous love and reflective action continues to support her ex-husband and father of her son in his struggle and fight with addiction… she is picking up serpents!

I’m thinking of my doctor friend who is fighting in word and action for her 12-year-old patient in the face of disputing parents who use the child as a pawn against each other… she is speaking in new tongues.

I’m thinking of my mother-in-law and friend, who not only refuses to give into bitterness in spite of the injustices and unfairness she’s faced in her academic profession, but instead chooses to “pay it forward” by establishing a scholarship… she has drunk the poison and survived!

Saint Gregory the great, pray for us!

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Still expecting our new grandbaby--and waiting for our world to change
Please pray for his parents and siblings?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mother, help our faith!

San Alfonso Retreat House, NJ
Mary of the tents, Iraqui Christian's refugee camp
watching over Santiago de Chile
Pastoral Center, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
I don't remember if I've shared this with you before, so here's hoping and praying it be new to you (in some form) today!

This beautiful prayer was introduced to the world by Pope Francis on June 29, 2013, the first year of his pontificate. It was the final prayer in Lumen Fidei [The Light of Faith], his first encyclical letter as pope. 

Chartres Cathedral, crypt church
Sainte-Mère-Eglise, France
I prayed with these words this morning, and it occurs to me that if you haven't discovered it already, some of you may appreciate it as well.

I've included with it here some of my (current!) favorite images of Mother Mary--and I've tried to label where they're from.

on the side of the road, near Sorrento, Italy
door of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral, OkCity
Let us turn in prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith.
Mother, help our faith! 
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call. 
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise. 
Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith. 
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature. 
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One. 
Remind us that those who believe are never alone. 
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path.
And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!
Ephesus, Turkey
Finisterre, Spain
Antigua, Guatemala
watching over the town of Agropoli, on the Italian Amalfi coast

Thursday, October 9, 2014

the surprise of the monarchs

in my backyard, 2014

The Sword of Surprise

Sunder me from my bones, O sword of God

Till they stand stark and strange as do the trees;
That I whose heart goes up with the soaring woods
May marvel as much at these.

Sunder me from my blood that in the dark
I hear that red ancestral river run
Like branching buried floods that find the sea
But never see the sun.

Give me miraculous eyes to see my eyes
Those rolling mirrors made alive in me
Terrible crystals more incredible
Than all the things they see

Sunder me from my soul, that I may see
The sins like streaming wounds, the life's brave beat
Till I shall save myself as I would save
A stranger in the street.
~ G. K. Chesterton                                  

Thank you, Christopher, for another great Chesterton discovery! Although I have to admit, I'm still a bit partial to his essay on "The great art of lying in bed."

The monarch butterflies are traveling through central Oklahoma, making their way down to the hills outside Mexico City where they will roost for the winter.  If you want to read more about this miraculous yearly event, click here.

What a joy it is to sit in my backyard and watch them drop by, like colorful messages from heaven...

art from "The Butterfly" by Patricia Polacco

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

not a memory, but a presence

During the wake for my father this summer there was a moment, an instant, really, when that gap between earth and heaven was so thin, so fine, it was nonexistent.

As our family knelt, saying the rosary in Spanish with the rest of the community, I was suddenly transported to my family’s living room—the one I lived in when we were in Río Piedras, PuertoRico, when I was 13. That night, I glanced around the room, much as I did a million times as a child observing the five adults in my family. 

This wasn’t a memory. It was something much bigger, much simpler, much truer than that.

What I experienced in that one instant was nothing short of the communion of saints, right there with us in St. Joseph’s Church in Norman, Oklahoma.

Papi was leading us in the rosary. Across the room were my  grandfather Alipio and his wife Josefita—each responding loud and in their own speed! And near me was my dad’s mother, another Josefa, the one that I shared a bedroom with.

I’ve experienced these “thin places” before, like I did kneeling in Nazareth at the cave of the annunciation—or standing before the remains of the Murrah Building bombing site in Oklahoma City.

That night at the church, I couldn’t help but smile seeing Papi already back with the family he loved. I closed my eyes as we said together, “come era en un principio, ahora y siempre...” And when I opened them again, I was back on the front pew, kneeling, holding my husband’s hand.

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No news to report on the grandbaby front! Our family is still waiting—in joyful expectation for that new baby boy to arrive. 

As I said the other day, it's impossible for me to think about this new baby without remembering Papi, and the joy he felt with ms. Sofia, who is now all of 9 months old. 

There is nothing like a newborn to put into perspective what really matters. Also a practical reminder that sometimes change can be unsolicited, unexpected—and still delightful.

The baby’s due date, by the way, is October 15—which happens to be his father’s (my son's!) birthday… and the feast of one of my favorite saints, Saint Teresa of Avila.

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“To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.”
~Teresa of Avila