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Posts Tagged ‘Saints’

Be sure to check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

~1~

My sister got married! She is a beautiful, wonderful woman and she married a pretty great guy. They are adorable together and that makes me very happy. Her wedding was beautiful.  We danced a lot. People held my baby so I could party. Philomena was an unstoppable force, getting down with particular zest during Gangam Style.  I love weddings.

~2~

I’ve lived in the deep South for a while now, and it has thinned my blood. The aforementioned wedding was during the weekend following the March for Life. Cold. Cold. Cold.  It snowed a lot.  I don’t own nearly enough sweaters. Also, standing outside in nineteen degree weather in a strapless dress is not fun.

~3~

Don’t get the norovirus, or, as it is known by the fraternity of those who have had it, the East Coast Martian Stomach Plague. Especially when you are traveling with small children. It makes you violently ill, forcing you to stay the night at a North Carolinian motel and makes an eleven hour road trip last thirty six hours.

~4~

If you foolishly succumb to the East Coast Martian Stomach Plague, you will lose the equivalent of a pug dog in weight. There are better ways to do this. You will also not be able to eat anything harder to digest than chicken broth for days, have a bizarre craving for cornbread and no matter how much Gatorade or water you drink, you will always be thirsty.

~5~

Also, if you succumb, make sure your spouse does not get the East Coast Martian Stomach Plague at the same time. This will result in untold misery your whole family can enjoy.

~6~

The high fevers induced by the plague will make you have bizarre dreams and your least favorite song stuck on a loop in your brain. I had something by Kings of Leon on repeat for twenty four hours. Think about that. Twenty four hours. Kings of Leon. Also, I had been reading my dear friend Colleen Swaim’s new book, Radiate: More Stories of Daring Teen Saints shortly before I became ill and was certain that St. Gabriel Possenti was in the motel room with me. Maybe he was. I definitely needed the prayers.

~7~

Colleen got the plague, too.  She was a great comfort to us when she called to let us know that she had lived, and we, in all probability, would to likewise. Many thanks to her and her family for their hospitality in Maryland.

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On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.

-Acts 16:13-15

 

Happy feast day! May St. Lydia intercede for us, our households and our priests.

 

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Will left for the bar exam in D.C. early to attend the funeral of a dear friend and spiritual father  who would be mortified to hear himself spoken of in those terms. Tuesday afternoon I learned that a wonderful priest from my college days passed away  after a long battle with cancer. Please pray for the repose of the souls of Fr. James Brabandt, OFM, and Fr. Kurt Pritzl, OP.

Fr. James was a Holy Land friar. He had lived and worked in the Holy Land, taking care of our churches and our people, at not inconsiderable riskto himself. In fact, the reason he had returned to the U.S.  is because he had been injured in the line of duty. While taking some pilgrims to the Sea of Galilee, he slipped on a wet rock and badly broke his wrist and hand. The first thing he did was announce, in a thick Kentucky accent “Don’t come down here, folks! It’s a bit slippery.” He didn’t mention his accident until he was sure everyone was out of harm’s way, and then said “I think I might need to go to the hospital.”

He put himself last in everything. He was humble, humble, humble. He was kind and joyful. Will and I used to joke that when he went back to his cell the Blessed Virgin was there to greet him and have a nice chat. Fr. James heard my confession the day before my wedding. He gave me the Universal Prayer of St. Clement to pray in preparation. Fr. James loved the Lord, the Church, his people, and his order. He never spoke badly of anyone, even when it would not have been inappropriate. He cleaned up theologically sketchy material with a smile. He was a true son of Francis.  He liked to sit in the cloister, with his hood up, smoking a long -stemmed pipe that made him look just like Gandalf.  He was fine last Sunday morning, but didn’t come to dinner. He had gone back to his cell and the Blessed Virgin was there to greet him and take him home. He’ll be terribly missed.

I didn’t know Fr. Pritzl that well. I never had him for class. I knew him from a couple of confessions, and countless casual meetings on the CUA mall. The thing is, with holy people, one tiny encounter can alter your life. Fr. Pritzl always, always, greeted me with the kindest of smiles. One day, I was walking from the Shrine to the library, miserable. Life was just not good. Fr. Pritzl walked up one of the other paths and stopped briefly to say hello and how are you. He just smiled, and looked at me. Mother Teresa was right. A smile can change everything. That one little moment opened a tiny crack in my heart, and the love of God poured inside. He was a brilliant scholar, teacher, philosopher. More than that, though, he was an image of Christ. He showed me that I was uniquely loved by God, just by smiling.

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

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Nothing Fancy

I was going to write something really deep and meaningful about how wonderful St. Francis is, but it’s just not working out. Instead, I’m just going to tell you why I love him, and how he’s helped me.

St. Francis is my special patron for this year. I didn’t pick him. He just began stalking me. Saints do that. Currently, I’m being hunted down by Mary Magdalen, Don Bosco, and Mother Teresa. Holy father Francis began coming after me a little over two years ago. My family has always been close to Franciscans.  It’s kind of natural to love him. Anyway,  in August 2008 I had the brilliant idea of going on the annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Pennsylvania with my sisters, my then four month old daughter, and the Franciscan Friars (and Sisters) of the Renewal. I lasted a day. Not even a day. It was too much. My daughter couldn’t handle the heat, I couldn’t handle anything, and I ended up riding in the invalid van with one of the brothers for most of the day. That brother became a good friend, but throughout, I felt just awful. I felt useless and in the way. I felt like I had absolutely nothing to give. Life was incredibly hard at that point, and I didn’t know what I was doing.

 The friars were unbelievably kind. The kept telling me that on a pilgrimage you see your weaknesses in a very up front and personal way, and to accept any help you’re offered. That didn’t make it easier. I came away from my 24 hours with the pilgrims feeling like a failure at everything. Motherhood, marriage, friendship, everything. It took months for me to realize what God, through the Franciscans,  had done. He had made me see that I. Have. Nothing. My gifts, my enthusiasms, my husband, my child, they are not really mine. I knew that in a not- just- theology kind of way for the first time. God had stripped me down in 24 uncomfortable hours and let me see how prideful and empty I really am. You see, I really like to be in control. I’ve always been terrified that God was up there in the clouds with a big boppo hammer, waiting for me to mess up. I’m not sure where this came from. Not my parents. Probably some crazy Sunday school teacher. Or Pat Robertson, poor man. I had been so used to at least pretending I had it together that realizing how needy I was was a real blow to me. I always thought that in myself, neediness is a weakness, something to be despised. I was suddenly confronted that it’s a weakness, but not something to be despised at all. It’s something to be embraced, as Francis embraced the leper.

That realization began a healing in my soul. It was not easy. It hurt like hell. But it changed me completely. I began to realize when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What does St. Francis have to do with this? Well, he’s shown me, through his sons, that it’s okay to be needy. It’s okay to have nothing to give, because then you can be filled. It’s okay to have wounds, because through them, God heals.  It’s okay to want to be around holy people so that you can get just a tiny smidgeon of their desire to be holy. St. Francis shows, he doesn’t tell. He shows that we’re all poor, and to embrace poverty is to embrace Christ. It’s only in having nothing that we can really rejoice, because then God can fill the nothing with Himself.

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St. Francis Kneeling in Ecstasy, Francisco de Zuberan 1635-1639

Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and grant me  right faith, certain hope and perfect charity, wisdom and understanding, Lord,  that I mary carry out Your holy and true command.  Amen.

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My Heavenly Buddy

It’s St. Therese Day!

When I was seventeen and hunting around for a confirmation patron, I was drawn to two ladies: St. Clare of Assisi (man, how I love her) and St. Therese of Lisieux (I knew very little about her). So, I said a prayer. I looked up at the dining room ceiling and said, “Okay, St. Clare, St. Therese, you pick. Who wants to be my patron? Please give me a sign.”

The next day I found out that the relics of Therese were coming to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where my family often went to mass. Therese is cool like that.

I went, and I got to spend a minute in front of her. I prayed, sort of. I mostly just had the weirdest sensation of being with a best friend. A really, really holy best friend, not much older than I was when she went to Heaven.  In the minute I knelt there, I knew she knew me.

We’ve had an on again, off again relationship. I started her autobiography, and I don’t know…I didn’t like it. It was too darn flowery and French. It even seemed simplistic, so simplistic that I didn’t understand it at all. It probably didn’t help that at the time I had an irrational fear that God would make me be a nun. I shouldn’t have been-it was pretty obvious I was called to marriage-but I should have been braver about the possibility. I should have been more trusting in the Good God, who gives everything and takes nothing. Therese (I NEVER call her the Little Flower-she’s a tough girl, not a rosy posy pastel lithograph), kind of exemplified that utter lack of fear, and that made me fearful. People talk about the Little Way she articulated so beautifully-in my life that has been the truth that abandonment to God is not scary. It’s fleeing from whatever is scary into an absolutely safe, warm divine Father who slowly chips away at all the rough, sinful edges, so gently you don’t even notice half the time.

Therese teaches me not to fear, not in any direct way, but  just by being there to gently nudge me in the right direction. She’s sneaky. Eleven years after we met, she’s still my buddy. She’s the kind of saint you can just say hi to. Most importantly, she’s let me see the joy of absolute surrender to God. I’m not afraid of Him anymore. You shouldn’t be afraid of Him, either.

St. Therese of Lisiuex, pray for us!

O

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