Friday, June 28, 2013

Apron Strings

Photo credit:  Inside Nana Bread's Head

My sister Debby recently paid me a sweet compliment about my writing.  She said,  "When I read your words, I have this picture of you wearing an apron surrounded by your kids, with a smile on your face, and an apple pie cooling on the counter. That comes to the surface in your writing. It's old-fashioned goodness. I love it."  Siblings have that way with each other, don't they?  Somehow we can just understand one another so well. Because it's true that when I am at home I almost always have an apron on, a sweet homemade apron lovingly sewed by another of my sisters, Diann, and that looks very much like the colorful ones hanging on the fence in the above picture.

My kids have an annoying habit of using their cell phones to videotape me unawares and when they play the videos back for me, I almost always have an apron on.  Last Christmas, I was happily rolling out the cookie dough on the kitchen table and my daughter Mary was recording me as I was telling her the story of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  As I was sharing this spiritual story, my son Jack kept coming into the kitchen to snitch the raw cookie dough and I dramatically changed from kindly sharing my favorite story to yelling at Jack with a hearty "Get out of the kitchen and stay out!"  And the whole family cracked up.  I don't remember ever laughing so hard at myself before.  The kids like to tease me by saying that when I die they are going to show that video at my funeral because seeing me go from a tender moment to yelling to laughing all within two minutes is how they always want to remember me.

These days, though, the thought of aprons and the attached strings with children hanging onto them often makes me feel a bit melancholy.  With two young adult sons venturing into the real world, I realize how quickly the years pass and I struggle with the difficulty of letting go, trying to trust that they will hold onto the values that Paul and I have worked so hard to instill in them, but understanding that there is a very real possibility that they'll venture into paths that carry them far from home and from God.  I'm not quite ready to cut those apron strings and let them go their own way.  I want them to realize all of the hopes and dreams that I have held deeply in my heart for them.  But, the only hopes and dreams that they need to find are their very own.  It's a hard lesson for this mother to accept.  Sometimes I wish they could stay little forever.

Old St. Mary (photo credit:  Badger Catholic)
On a joyful note along those same lines, my niece Jenny was due to have her sixth baby induced yesterday.  Jack and Mary, my two youngest, and I, attended the 7 AM Mass at our wonderful new parish, Old St. Mary, and just as the lector was reading the story of Abram and Sarai's difficulty in conceiving, (Genesis 16:1-16) Jenny and her husband Dan slid beside us in our pew.  They were on their way to the hospital but wanted to pray at Mass before the delivery of their newest baby, a boy.  Isn't that a beautiful thing to do-go to Mass before the birth of your baby?  As the lector read the words of the angel to Hagar, "You are now pregnant and shall bear a son," Mary and I couldn't help but smile and nudge Jenny at the truth of those words.  I'm always amazed at God's perfect timing!  I was wondering if they might end up naming their baby Ishmael to follow through with the words of the reading, but today, after nearly 24 hours of labor, they joyfully welcomed Joseph Daniel to their family.  Jenny and Dan are still in the blessedly beautiful early apron string years with a houseful of little ones tugging for love and attention. What joy!

Here's a lovely little song from one of my favorite movies, She's Having a Baby, aptly titled  "Apron Strings."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Purging the Past, Entering the Reality of Now

Justin,  the de-clutterer, at the beginning and end of his scholarly career
I'm in a purge mode this summer and have decided to go through my house from top to bottom recklessly tossing out anything deemed to be, in my opinion, extraneous.  It was my son Justin, the recent high school graduate, who got me started on this goal toward clutter-free living.  In the week after he graduated, but before he began his full-time summer job, he systematically emptied out kitchen cabinets and junk drawers, extravagantly tossing out nearly everything.  I'd come home from work and find the cupboards practically bare.  And I liked it.  Suddenly everything seemed so clean and bright and I don't miss the things he threw out at all.  Really, I couldn't even tell you what they were!  It just goes to show how little I needed those items I had piled up and saved!  Now I've taken it upon myself to continue Justin's work and I have been scandalously eschewing the unnecessary melange from my home including my prayer journals.

In the few years prior to writing this blog, I kept prayer journals where I recorded my daily prayers based upon scripture verses from the daily Mass readings, a sort of written lectio divina. It was a time of my life where my suffering from depression was deep and the prayer journals served a very helpful purpose in bringing about my healing.  But now, as I read through them one last time before I forever renounce them, I find that I am more than happy to kiss the past good-bye and to accept my beautiful life as God has brought me to it in the present moment.  I am so grateful to find that those old books filled with words of sorrow and the struggle for joy no longer reflect who I really am today.

And yet, those years of journal writing were also years of voracious spiritual reading for me, and whenever I would read something that touched my heart or inspired me, I'd have to write it in my prayer journal so I'd never forget it.  Now I've come across some terrific quotes that I had saved and rather than toss them to the insignificance of yesterday with the rest of the household trash where they would be forever lost, I have decided to share them here on this blog where they will hopefully be a source of inspiration for others...

So I begin with these:

From My Monastery is a Minivan by Denise Roy regarding her childhood dream of becoming a priest (much like St. Therese of Lisieux):

"Here I sit, twenty years later, no longer wondering what I'm going to be when I grow up.  I've arrived.  And guess what?  My childhood dreams have come true.

For two decades, I have broken bread, poured grape juice, preached, prayed, told stories, bestowed blessings, taken care of the sick, heard confessions.  I have been a parent.  These have been the sacraments of my daily life and, I suspect, of yours.  These are simple, sacred acts.  These are how we mediate love, as we minister to our own little congregations-children, spouse, family and friends.

I have discovered that it is a great vocation."

From my favorite author, Carryl Houselander:

"For the moment, the precious and only now, you alone are the bearer of the Blessed Sacrament into your own little world.  You are the monstrance, the priest giving Communion, the Real Presence, to your husband, your children and your friends; and the reason why, or one reason why, Christ has given Himself to you, is because He wishes to be with them, as things are, only through you.  This is an astonishing thought, as every thought about the Blessed Sacrament is, if you bring an ounce of courage and realism to it."

And one more journal scribble that I found to be irresistibly worth saving, from a conversation during my daughter's basketball game with the graduate pictured above:

Justin:  "Mom, why don't you talk to some of these other parents here?"
Me:  "Because I don't have anything to say to them."
Justin:  "Yes you do!  Just ask, 'So how's Jesus working for you?'"  ;)

Friday, June 7, 2013

One Thousand Posts-A Celebration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Come celebrate with me!

It was a little over four years when I put my fingers to the keyboard and wrote my first ever Imprisoned in My Bones blog post.  And today, this very post that you are reading is post number 1000!  Ta-da and woo-hoo!!!!  Who would've guessed I had that many thoughts inside my head? (Ahem.) A lot of bloggers might celebrate this type of milestone by holding a give-away of some sort, but I thought, a give-away only benefits one person, the winner.  I think that anybody who has been following this blog for any part of these past four years, or has taken the time to read or comment or offer a word of encouragement along the way, deserves some type of gift to show my gratitude.

So I thought that I would celebrate by thanking all of you, my dear readers, with a reward that will hopefully have everlasting benefits-the gift of prayer.  I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I am deeply devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  So I have been praying the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the sanctity, well-being and intentions of all of the Imprisoned in My Bones readers.  On this Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus I hope that you can feel the benefit of my prayers for you.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in thee!

And could I ask for a present from you, my friends?  Would you please offer a prayer today for all of the special priests who have touched your lives in any way, whether large or small, on this the World Day of Prayer for Priests?  Perhaps you'd be willing to pray my favorite prayer for priests by Fr. William Doyle,SJ along with me?  I am certain that many a priest will be grateful to you for the kind words of prayer offered on his behalf.
O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.
The words they say every day at the altar, “This is my Body, this is my Blood,” grant them to apply to themselves: “I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another.”
O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.
Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.
Behold this Heart, which has so loved men!

Sacred Heart of Jesus by C. Jentz

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima (photo credit:  Mary Anne Urlakis)
"Please don't touch her.  She'll touch you."  
~a sign placed in front of the statue

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima was designed in 1947 to the exact specifications of Sister Lucia, one of the three Fatima visionaries.  Since then, she has traveled the world with two caretakers, making visits to faithful believers in all nations.  Many prayers have been answered, graces and blessings bestowed, and even a miracle or two have been attributed to prayers in her presence.  She has even been known to weep.

Roses for Our Lady is blessed to host a visit from the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima at our June 9th Holy Hour for Vocations at 2 PM at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. Just two weeks prior to the holy hour, we found that our scheduled priest would be unable to attend.  I made a pilgrimage to visit the Handmaids of the Precious Blood and to Marytown with my sisters, and there I asked the Blessed Mother to please help me find a good and holy priest who would assist Roses for Our Lady with this holy hour, a priest that she herself would choose.  That very night, not one, but two, very holy priests contacted me with their willingness to help.  I heard from both Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ, the National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer, who offered to be a back-up and gave me much peace of mind, and Fr. Enrique Hernadez, a newly ordained priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, who wholeheartedly agreed to participate.  How blessed I felt to know that Our Lady was so eager to come to our little holy hour that she stirred the hearts of two holy men who would make sure that she was well cared for!  Before she even arrived, she was answering prayer!

I have been in such eager anticipation of this event that I wanted to pay an advanced visit to her at Holy Hill for the Feast of Corpus Christi.  As I knelt before her in prayer, I was overcome by her beauty.  I thanked her for how lovingly she has watched over my family and asked for her intercession for a friend in need of work.  All too soon, it seemed, it was time for me to go. The next day, my friend for whom I had prayed, wrote to tell me that he was offered, and accepted, an even better position than the one he had left behind!

A friend of mine who happens to be an amazing photographer, had taken pictures of the statue at Holy Hill.   I chose several pictures of Our Lady to share on the Roses for Our Lady facebook page. When I looked at them all together, I was utterly amazed to see that in one picture her head was bent down and in another she was looking straight ahead!  Miraculous!!!

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima (photo credit:  Mary Anne Urlakis)

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima (photo credit:  Mary Anne Urlakis)

If you will be in the Milwaukee area on Sunday, June 9th, I invite you to join us in prayer at our Holy Hour for Vocations.  I am confident that our seminary and our Archdiocese will be particularly blessed by Our Blessed Mother during this time of prayer.  If you aren't able to join us that day, please visit her in another Milwaukee or Chicago location.  The schedule can be found here.  Be prepared to be showered with graces and blessings, and maybe an answer or two to prayer!

The International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima (photo credit:  Mary Anne Urlakis)

Rich Ordination Photos

You read about his ordination in this post; now enjoy these rich pictures of the ordination of Fr. Paul Schneider, OFM Conv. by Stephen Pontus, OFS.

Bishop Callahan lays hands on Deacon Paul ordaining him a priest

Fr. Paul lays prostrate during the Litany of the Saints

Bishop Callahan's ring

Fr. Michael Glastetter OFM Conv, pastor and rector of the Basilica of St. Josaphat, lays hands on Fr. Paul

Fr. Alejandro Lopez OFM Conv, parochial vicar at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, lays hands on Fr. Paul.

Fr. Robert Joseph Switanowski OFM Conv lays hands on Fr. Paul. Fr. Robert Joseph was the parochial Vicar at St Josaphat’s when Bishop Callahan was the rector and pastor at the Basilica

The newly ordained Fr. Paul Schneider OFM Conv imparts his first priestly blessing upon Bishop Callahan.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows-A Book Review

 I'm not one who carefully follows the Hollywood gossip that revolves around the lives of famous actors and actresses, but I understand from the news stories that do capture my attention that  the lives of the rich and famous are often filled with self-interest and leave very little room for God.  Of course, there are beautiful exceptions, and Mother Delores Hart is one of them.

I had never heard of Delores Hart until Lisa Wheeler from Carmel Communications offered me the opportunity to read and review the book, The Ear of the Heart:  An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows, by Mother Delores Hart, O.S.B. and Richard DeNeut, about how a beautiful actress gave up a life of fame and riches, that of a Hollywood and Broadway actress, to completely devote herself to Christ as a cloistered Benedictine nun.

The idea of a woman giving up earthy wealth and fame, letting go of her passion for the one thing in life that she loved and in which she excelled, acting, to completely devote herself to God, tucked away in a cloistered convent, was very intriguing to me, and so I eagerly agreed to read and review The Ear of the Heart.

The book is quite lengthy at over 400 pages and I felt that a lot of the details could have been omitted without losing any of the flavor of this inspiring story.  The anecdotes of the many famous people who impacted her life was interesting, but I was most intrigued by the glimpes of how God Himself was making an impact on this young woman.  The fact that Delores, while not raised Catholic, attended Catholic Schools and converted at a very young age, and made her own way to weekly Mass without her family, was quite remarkable.  I was most captivated by the details of how God was calling Mother Delores'  to monastic life at Regina Laudis Monastery, for which she would ultimately eschew the Hollywood lifestyle and the promise of marriage, to give herself entirely over to God in a drastic entry into cloistered life. 

As the story moved to Mother Delores' entry into Regina Laudis Monastery, I became more completely engrossed.  To get an inside view of monastic life-the work, the liturgy of the hours, the relationships between the sisters, and the power of obedience-was delightfully eye-opening.   I was moved by the fact that she cried herself to sleep every night for the first three years, and although others with whom she entered the monastery had left, Mother Delores stayed and worked through the many and varied challenges of monastic life with the help of God. 

Some quotes that particularly captivated me were:

"Mother Dorcas Roselund, in describing the pitfalls of monastic life, summed it up another way.  A gastroenterologist before she entered Regina Laudis, she is now the community's baker.  Life in the monastery is "the new martyrdom," she said.  "They used to throw Christians to the lions.  Now they make us live together."

"Here were women with courage to follow an invisible love in a coffin of seclusion from the world.   They follow with no obvious support to the brink of the unknown, there to set fire to a perpetual lamp of love."

"Our daily schedule is never interrupted.  Work has to be done.  Animals have to be fed.  We have to stay here and pray and believe that we can help by doing so.  It requires discipline and clarity about what your mission is and where your body needs to be, where it can do the most good."

I found The Ear of the Heart, An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows to be an intense look into the life of a very human woman striving for holiness by giving up all that she loved and all that she could have achieved in the world, to use her many gifts for the glory of God, and in doing so, found a joy beyond human comprehension.  It was an uplifting read!
The Ear of the Heart is available through Ignatius Press.