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St. Monica Novena Starts TODAY!

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Please, join me in praying the St. Monica Novena starting FRIDAY or TODAY!

St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo, is known for her intercessory prayers for those who have fallen away from the faith, as she prayed for the conversion of her son for 15 years.

She is also the patron saint of alcoholics, married women, mothers, wives, and difficult marriages. St. Monica is a great intercessor for intentions that you may have been praying for a while.

St. Monica, pray for us!

I Am the Bread of Life

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Photo Credit: Prince of Peace/ Steubenville

From Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II’s World Youth Day homily on Sunday, August 24, 1997 in Paris, France:

“Rabbi, where are you staying?” Each day the Church responds: Christ is present in the Eucharist, in the sacrament of His death and resurrection. In and through the Eucharist, you acknowledge the dwelling-place of the Living God in human history. For the Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Love which conquers death. It is the Sacrament of the Covenant, pure Gift of Love for the reconciliation of all humanity. It is the gift of the Real Presence of Jesus The Redeemer, in the bread which is His Body given up for us, in the wine which is His Blood poured out for all. . . Dear young friends . . . For Christ is now answering your own question and the questions of all those who seek the Living God. He answers by offering an invitation: This is My Body, take It and eat. . .

I Am the Living Bread” (Jn 6:51). The message of John’s Gospel completes the liturgical picture of this great Eucharistic mystery that we are celebrating today… The words of John’s Gospel are the great proclamation of The Eucharist, after the miraculous multiplication of bread near Capernaum. Anticipating as it were the time even before the Eucharist was instituted, Christ revealed what it was. He spoke thus: “I Am the Living Bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever; and the Bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My Flesh” (Jn 6:51). And when these words brought protests from many who were listening Jesus added: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in me, and I in him.” (Jn 6:53-56).

“Asked if the Madonna had been present at Mass, he answered: “Yes, she placed herself to the side, but I could see her, what joy! What paradise…” Has she attended only once, or is she always present? “How can the mother of Jesus, present on Calvary at the foot of the cross, who offered her Son as victim for the salvation of souls, be absent at the mystical Calvary of the altar?” Is our Lady present at all of the Masses that are being celebrated in the world? “Yes.” Do the angels also attend? “The whole celestial court is present.”

— St. Padre Pio 

“Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace.”
–St. Padre Pio
“When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.”
–St. Josemaria Escriva

“If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”
–St. Maximilian Kolbe

“The culmination of the Mass is not the consecration, but Communion.”
–St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: ‘This is My Body.’ No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.”
–St. Augustine

“With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. Feed on this bread of angels whence you will draw all the energy you need to fight inner battles. Because true happiness, dear friends, does not consist in the pleasures of the world or in earthly things, but in peace of conscience, which we have only if we are pure in heart and mind.”
–Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
“We must understand that in order ‘to do’, we must first learn ‘to be’, that is to say, in the sweet company of Jesus in adoration.”
–Pope John Paul II
“Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that Adoration.”
— St. Theresa of Calcutta

 “Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart…don’t listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love…

— St. Therese of Lisieux

Now you shall consider My love in the Blessed Sacrament. Here, I am entirely yours, soul, body and divinity, as your Bridegroom. You know what love demands: one thing only, reciprocity…(1770)
–St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

“When we go before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament we represent the one in the world who is in most need of God’s Mercy.” We “Stand in behalf of the one in the world who does not know Christ and who is farthest away from God and we bring down upon their soul the Precious Blood of The Lamb.”

– St. John Paul II

The Double Edged Sword of Looking Good

Appearences aren’t always indicative of reality. A conversation after Sunday Mass with my friend’s family reminded me of the deceptive nature of appearences. We can exude a reality that doesn’t exist. Easily.

I cringed when she said, “You look great!” People need to understand appearances can be deceiving. A smile can mask a multitude of ailments. Supernatural joy can hide deep rooted pain and distress. We are masters of distortion for a variety of reasons, usually either selfish or selfless reasons. All the world is our stage and we act out our illusion of control.

For a person with multiple chronic and complex health conditions, acting the part of a healthy character has become an artform, a tool of discretion, a mask of fleeting normalcy, and a shield from narrowmindeness and hurt. This act can come at a heavy price- the double edged sword.

A smile can hide a multitude of ailments. When the doctors banned me from replying I was “okay” to pertinent medical questions, I wasn’t being coy or manipulative. My internal joy of my miraculous pediatric stroke survival trumped any discomfort and uncertainty I faced. Therefore, I was okay in the grand scheme of God’s plan. Maybe I wasn’t medically okay, but I was providentially okay.

Occasionally my loved ones or I haven’t received the medical care we needed in as prompt of a manner because we’ve smiled or laughed in the ER or Urgent Care. I’ve had clinicians diagnose me as a healthy young women when I was only a few hours away from severe metabolic imbalance and potentially cardiac arrest. This is an extreme example that illustrates my point.

Appearances of a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state of being may not be as it seems. I may smile and engage while looking healthy and vivacious in-person. But I may go home and curl up in a fetal position in a cool dark room moments later dead to the outside world for the next week.

I take for granted the fact my parents and immediate family are intuitive and perceptive people. A subtle change of skin tone, subtle change in breathing patterns, a distortion of posture, or the sheen in ones eye can be enough to alert them of a medical concern. Learning the subtleties of the other produces a keen sense of awareness, a responsibility to others wellbeing, and an avenue to break from selfishness.

Strength and defiance of visible weakness can become an extension of pride, a mark of valor, and a mark of extrodinary courage on the battlefield of chronic illness. The real battle is not to loose our ability to feel and express emotions, allow others to serve us in our moments of weakness, and honestly share the reality of our precious lives.

I guess either I need to practice acting ill or others need to practice being perceptive. Or both.

Thinking Out Loud

Music can transport and capture in lyrical format a deep groaning of the human spirit. Lyrics are poems. Most lyrical poems capture aspects of human relationships.

I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways

God works in mysterious ways. Women marvel over romantic comedies, but women seek their own love story better and purer than even the best romantic comedy. We don’t want a cinema moment but a real moment. Not a cinema man but a real man. A man capable of sweeping us towards heaven not hell.

White Rose
Wild Rose

Maybe just the touch of a hand

There is an exorbitant lack of gentle affection depicted in media. Most sexuality is violent and aggressive or “passionate.” A gentle kiss on the forehead or caress of the hand is more loving and affirming than being bashed up against a wall or slammed onto a table in an intense make-out session (yes, I’m recalling certain movies in my latter description.) Not long ago, a touch of the hand was an act of bold affection, especially in public.

Maybe it’s all part of a plan

The love between a man and women is a part of God’s plan. Sexuality is good. Perversion of sexuality is bad. The love shared between a man and women reflects the exchange of love between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Marriage, the marital embrace, and procreation mirrors Trinitarian love and provides a glimpse of divine love here on earth. Sadly, most relationships don’t reflect this reality.

Well, me—I fall in love with you every single day

We desire affirmation in our relationships. We do want our significant other to affirm us and choose us on a daily basis and for a lifetime not in an utilitarian but unconditional manner- a Christ-like manner.

Cause, honey, your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen 

Ah! The refreshing, lasting beauty of a pure soul. What a desirable and attractive quality! Men and women flock towards those clad in virtue and sprint to the holy altar of matrimony! Yes, that was sarcasm. Virtue isn’t hipster. Religion, let alone holiness, “cramps” Friday night enjoyment and socializing. People find holiness uncomfortable or embarresing. But the soul is evergreen, everlasting. The light of one’s soul should be #1 on our list of attractive qualities.

And, baby, your smile’s forever in my mind and memory

Love begins with a smile. St. Theresa of Calcutta always taught the importance of the smile.

Oh, darling, place your head on my beating heart

Have you ever listened to your beloved’s heartbeat while resting safely in their arms? The reassuring, rhythmic thumping of a heartbeat is soothing and bonding- alive and life-giving. Though the metaphor pales in comparison, listening to your beloved’s beartbeat in their warm & safe arms is similar to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary with us.

But don’t mind me. I’m just thinking out loud . . .

 

Dentistry & Wonder Woman

What does dentistry and DC Comic’s Wonder Woman have in common? Apparently, me. For my holistic dentist, the sheer enjoyment of this epic comic turned cinematic film translated into a witty and insightful banter with his patient.

After completing the majority of my dental cleaning with my personable dental hygienist, my dentist ascertains my dental health and addresses any concerns. Thus far in life, my dental health remains wonderful. One less thing to worry about and remain grateful for. Upon entry into my little dental hygiene exam room, we exchanged jovial banter about how my outward appearance really provided cover for my alter ego. (As a disclaimer, my dentist and many of the dental hygienist are devout Christians.)

Strip away the thoughtful, sweet exterior clad in a cardigan and tasteful skirt and beneath would emerge a rapscalion and wildness. He turned to my dental hygienist inquiring, “have you seen any superhero outfits peeking out?” She laughed. He deeply pondered.

“No! Now I know! I know who you are. You’re Wonder Woman!”

I laughed puzzled. He proceeded to explain how Wonder Woman was part god part human. Similar to Superman or Clark Kent, she wore unassuming attire and glasses ( I wear glasses.) Then she transformed into a remarkable and striking heroine. Part humility. Part fearsome sight to behold. I believe my dentist captured something.

Many faithful, virtuous Christians or people in general are unassuming, behind the scenes, not flamboyant, and not flashy externally. Beneath the surface, however, lies a courage and humilty that transforms people, places, and lives. Yes, we have saints that led lives of heroic virtue in public or memorable manners. But we direly need everyday saints. The Wonder Women and Supermen that live everyday, mundane lives with superhuman or “heroic” virtue as their shield or cloak peeking out from under the everyday.

But my superhero outfit comes complete with privacy shorts.

Free Will: Freedom & Consequences

I wonder if how I feel presently about living with the free will choices of another mirrors in any minute capacity how God feels? Except God wouldn’t feel helpless or hopeless because He is the Alpha and Omega. The I AM. But I wonder if God feels a profound sadness and sorrow when He must live with and navigate our detrimental free will choices? If the Gospels indicate anything about God and God’ s love for us, my answer is “Yes.” The Diary of St. Faustina indicates the expansive mercy and pure love yet overwhelming sorrow the Divine Mercy feels towards us too.

A recent situation with a close, dear friend sparked a greater degree of introspection. Pain, heart break, confusion, and anxiety of the unknown and undecided future surfaced. Two people faced with choices. Two people moments before besotted now distant. All the tendencies towards kicking, screaming, pleading, and manipulating still don’t guarantee the desired outcome. Why? Because at the end of all my desire for control or influence, I’m incapable of making the choice for another.

In many ways, my sad scenario mimicks aspects of humanity’s relationship with God. Presented with better and healthier options or even just a different way of living topped with support and grace, we can still reject that reality and chose the opposite or a lesser variation. For all God’s grace and guidance, we can choose “no.” And God isn’t going to kick and scream or manipulate us back into place. That defies our human free will.

Love upholds freedom. If you truly love someone, you allow that person freedom. The free will to choose. This doesn’t include condoning or tolerating bad behavior. If I manipulate the free will choice of another especially for an intended result, I’m no better than enslaving them. Guidance and encouragement are different than manipulation. So I will love and let live. And pray. And hope. And attempt not worrying.