Sunday, May 31, 2009


The woodpecker
knocking so insistently
on the tree branch,
reminds me of you, Jesus.

Just like the woodpecker,
you knock insistently
at my heart,
asking to be let in
so that you may
dwell inside.

Like the soft wood
of the tree, I will
open my heart to you, Jesus,
so that you may live
within me forever.


Robins Nest-Final Visit

"This is the meaning of the cross: God is heartbroken love."

Fr. Robert Barron, Heaven in Stone and Glass

Do you ever feel like a failure? Do you ever despair because your best just wasn't good enough? I'm sure our mother robin feels this way.

Her last baby bird died today. It happened so quickly. One minute, his beak was open, hungry for worms, the next minute, he fell backwards with no life remaining. The mother removed the baby from the nest, and she has not returned. How could she? She has lost 4 babies in 4 days! She knows the meaning of the cross, she is suffering heartbroken love.

Any human mother would be overcome with grief to lose her children, why should a bird be any different? Even my own children are overcome with grief for the loss of this bird family who visited our home for such a short time.

The robin and her babies are a reminder to us of how fleeting life really is. We should never take anyone or anything for granted. All of life is a gift from God, even the parts of life that hurt.

Thank you God for the spring, for birds, for life. You have given it all to us through your gracious and generous heart and we give it all back to you. We give you our joys and sorrows, our successes and failures, our births and our deaths. It is all a part of your great plan. Like the birds, we can't understand it. We can only accept it and continue to do our best. We can only join you in your heartbroken love. Amen.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Favorite Quotes/Fr. Don Hying

A great Pentecost quote from a great priest...published in the May 28th Milwaukee Catholic Herald.

"When we, like the saints, set the sail of our life to the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves doing things that we could never have imagined, witnessing to Christ in ways that seemed beyond our abilities and engaged in works of evangelization, charity and service that seemed impossible. One thing is certain. When we give our lives over to the Holy Spirit, nothing will ever be safe or dull again. We will find ourselves blown out to the deep water and then Christ will bid us to get out of the boat."

Fr. Don Hying, Rector
St. Francis de Sales Seminary

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shattered-A Story of Pentecost

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-23

“There appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:1-11

A few years ago, I was undergoing a difficult time, struggling with a deeper conversion into my Catholic Faith. I was completely caught up in my thoughts and prayers and had a hard time focusing on my daily family life. I was deeply drawn to adoration and daily Mass and spending time in prayer at church. The priest I knew wisely reminded me that my first and true vocation is that of wife and mother and that I could just as easily find God in my home as I could find Him in the church. I told him that I so desperately wanted to hear the still, small voice of God and thought that it would only happen while I was in prayer at church. He teased me saying “Anne, I don’t think you will ever hear the still, small voice of God. For you, I think it will be the loud, booming voice of God!”

Pentecost Sunday arrived a few weeks after that conversation. I was preparing a large Sunday breakfast for my family as usual. My son, Jack, was sitting at the kitchen table coloring pictures. He said, “Mom, I’m drawing a picture of a campfire.” “That’s nice”, I replied as I continued to stir the eggs. Then he said, “No, Mom, its not a campfire, it’s the flames of fire on the apostles heads!” Again, I distractedly murmured something about that being very nice, and went on with my breakfast preparations. Jack finished coloring, taped his picture to the kitchen cabinet, and our family went on with our breakfast and preparations to leave for Mass.

Jack’s picture stayed on the kitchen cabinet for several days and I really didn’t give it much thought. One evening, my husband took our five children over to the playground to have a baseball game, and I stayed at home to wash the windows. One of our kitchen windows was broken and wouldn’t stay open without a brace. I had forgotten about that in my still distracted state. I raised the window, and then turned to walk away, when the window came crashing down on my head, shattering into thousands of shards. As painful as that experience was, it was probably just what I needed to wake me from my dream state. As the window hit me, I was looking at Jack’s Pentecost picture. Suddenly, the words of that priest came back to me “You will find God at home, following your vocation, and God’s voice will be loud and booming.”

Nothing could have been more loud and booming than a window shattering on my head! It was as if God woke me up out of my daze and said, “Look at that picture! Look what Jack drew! He drew a picture of Pentecost, your new spirit! Your life is in this home and in this family. Pay closer attention to your children, they understand more than you can ever know!”

I framed Jack's picture and placed it in my prayer corner so that I would always remember that my Pentecost, my new spirit, is in my family and in my vocation as wife and mother. I will always find God in my home and I can hear his voice anytime, anywhere, soft and still or loud and booming. Happy Feast of Pentecost!

Jack's Pentecost drawing

Robins Nest-Revisited

St. Francis of Assisi was known to have preached to the birds...

“He went right up to them and solicitously urged them to listen to the word of God, saying, ‘Oh birds, my brothers and sisters, you have a great obligation to praise your Creator, who clothed you in feathers and gave you wings to fly with, provided you with pure air and cares for you without any worry on your part.’…The birds showed their joy in a remarkable fashion: They began to stretch their necks, extend their wings, open their beaks and gaze at him attentively." ~From American

Yesterday was a miserable day. It was one of those days where I woke up on the wrong side of the bed after a bad dream,and the day was filled with little thorns throughout. It was nothing major, just those little things that kept pricking at me all day long, and I struggled to tolerate them. And its not that there weren't some roses strewn about, the best of which I was able to spend 30 blessed minutes in silent Eucharistic Adoration at the beautiful convent chapel. You'd think that would have healed all those little wounds I was feeling, but more were to come. As my daughter Mary and I were driving to the grocery store, the brakes on the van were causing problems and we were very grateful to God for our safe arrival. Then,while packing up our groceries, another customer in the store took my box, and when I tried to be assertive and tell him that the box belonged to me, he snarled at me and said "It's not your box anymore! I found it and I'm keeping it!" That rude comment was the last straw for me and I sank to the humiliation of crumbling into tears, right then and there in the grocery store. How I longed for the rude comments about my family size that I used to complain about!

Mary and I prayed (and I continued to cry), all the way home asking God for a safe arrival,which He generously granted, and when we walked in the door, my husband and sons greeted us with more bad news. It seems that our robin friend who was living on our sunporch window ledge and nurturing four baby robins out of their eggs was startled out of her nest by the boys' noisy arrival home from school, and when she flew from her nest, she knocked the nest off the ledge. All that my boys could find at the bottom of the rose bush was one baby bird and some broken egg shells. Justin lovingly picked up the nest, placed the tiny bird with its little feathers on the top of its head gently back into the nest and put it back up on the window ledge.

We watched closely all night to see if the mother robin would come back, and sure enough she did! She stayed with her little baby bird throughout the night, feeding it, keeping it warm and loving it like any good mother would. Seeing this mother from the animal world struggle with her problems, made me realize how foolish I am to sweat so many small things. After all,God is in charge, isn't He? After a glass of wine and a good night sleep, the world looks brighter today.

Now, I am inspired to listen to the wondrous words of St. Francis of Assisi and his sermon to the birds, and follow that same example in my own life. It is my obligation to praise my creator who has provided me with pure air, the very breath of the Holy Spirit, and who always cares for me. I will not worry!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kenotic Love

“Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at…rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave.” Ph. 2:6-7

What does it mean to empty yourself? It means to give your all, to give when it hurts, to do things that other people might consider to be beneath themselves in order to show deep love. It certainly was beneath God to take on human form with all of the suffering that humanity entails. But this is exactly what God did in the incarnation of Jesus; he took on the suffering human form. So now, as Christians, we are all called to follow this example and empty ourselves to show our love for others. We are called to serve others even in ways that may be unpleasant. We are called to serve others in ways that we may dislike, in ways that may hurt us, and in ways that may cause us suffering. By serving others in this way, we are emptying ourselves and showing our kenotic love in our following of the incarnated Christ.

My favorite example of kenotic love is really quite simple. Kenotic love can be found in a dishwasher. When my husband Paul and I were first married, I read a marriage advice column where the columnist advised “If you really want to make love to your wife, do the dishes.” His point was that every day love wasn’t found in dramatic, romantic displays such as buying flowers or candy. Every day love was found in helping with routine chores, and in doing this simple activity of washing the dishes, however unpleasant that may be, a husband would be showing his love for his wife, and in return, she would be drawn closer to him in gratitude.

Now with children, it’s another story. Doing the dishes has become a dreaded and fought over chore. As evening dinner draws to a close and the nightly dish chores are assigned, we often hear a tremendous amount of groaning from the kids. Common complaints such as “I just did them last night!” or “I have dibs on drying!” echo around the table. Paul and I find that our kids hate doing the dishes so much that we have begun to assign it as our favorite punishment for misbehavior. “What? You got a “D” on your test? Dishes for a month! “You hit your brother again? Dishes for a month!” Of course the other kids catch on pretty quickly, and are thrilled when someone is given this punishment, because that means they are off the hook for a month. Sometimes, I suspect they look for ways to get each other in trouble just so they can avoid the chore for lengthy periods of time!

Recently, we invited a dear friend for dinner. It was his first time at our house. We know that he works really hard and we wanted to show him a relaxing time. No sooner was the meal finished, than he stood up and said “Well, now I’m going to wash the dishes!” Like Peter when Jesus wanted to wash his feet, we all protested in embarrassment. We wanted him to relax, not work! But it was too late, his sleeves were rolled up and he was running the water, and so, he washed the dishes! It actually was fun working together, freely talking and enjoying music. He said he enjoys doing dishes because it yields the satisfaction of a completed job, dishes put away in the cupboard and the sink shining. It was a good point in this world of loose ends.

By his simple act of washing the dishes, he showed gratitude for the meal and he set a good example for the children. But more than this, he showed kenotic love. He emptied himself to be of service to my family. It was such a humble and yet profoundly beautiful act. We will never forget. What a beautiful example of living the incarnation of Christ!

For Fr. Don with gratitude!

Ah, youth!

Today I saw my friend's 18 year old daughter standing at the bus stop in the rain. She was singing and dancing to the song that was playing on her I-pod. She looked so happy! I just had to smile! How I wish for those uninhibited youthful days of joy!

Holy Temple

Every time
that I look
in the mirror,
I am shocked
to see
an old lady
back at me.

Dark circles,
age spots,
and gray hair
are beginning
to define
my appearance.

Help me
to remember
that no matter
how I look,
I am still
Your Holy Temple,

Savage Wolves

A reflection on today's first reading...

“I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock…so be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.” Acts 20:28-38

St. Paul’s words here could be any parents or teachers words, couldn’t they? Don’t we put our all into our children, hoping that if we train them well, they will be able to resist the savage wolves that most surely will cross their paths in life? How many parents are broken-hearted when their children disregard their parent’s advice and fall in with a wild crowd, or turn their backs on the faith in which they were raised?

I am an excessive worrier. I myself was one of those children who disregarded my parent’s advice and fell in with a wild crowd of savage wolves in my youth and it is only by the grace of God that I was able to turn my life around. But, knowing the struggles I went through in trying to return to a state of grace in my life, I would prefer to keep my own children from ever falling to the wayside. The only way I know of to eliminate my worry is to give it to God. So, I spend a great deal of time in prayer. When people ask me how my husband and I manage to raise such nice children, I always answer that I raise them on my knees-its my version of Paul’s unceasing admonishment with tears.

When my children began their elementary school careers, we found the cost of Catholic Schools to be beyond our reach. As a natural worrier, I fretted that my children would be lost souls without a Catholic education. My mother-in-law gave me some great advice. She said, “Any school can be a good school, as long as you’re involved.” So, I practically lived at the local public school that my children attended. Everyone knew me because I was involved in everything! My mother-in-law was right, the school was fine and my husband and I worked extra hard at home to instill our Catholic faith and values into our childrens lives. But still, even though the school was good, and I was as involved as I possibly could be, I couldn’t be with my children all the time, and there were moments when I had to leave them to fend for themselves in the world of savage wolves.

When Joe was in kindergarten, he took a liking to a little boy from a big family and a broken home. We knew that he didn’t get a lot of supervision and when he did, it was probably from a big sibling who wasn’t always loving or gentle. We’d hear this little guy using curse words as he walked out of the school doors at the end of the day and we’d be quite shocked. But Joe thought that he was the best guy in the world! We’d say, “Joe, Henry uses bad words. Can’t you play with someone else?”

Then one day, as I was standing with Joe before school waiting for the bell to ring, I overheard him tell Henry “Why do you use those bad words? Why don’t you say shucks instead?” I was at once proud and humbled. My little boy had a much better idea than I did! Instead of avoiding his friend, Joe tried to bring him around to the good side! It was then that I realized that if Paul and I continued our admonishments, and continued to put our trust in God, our children could be an influence for good in the world around them instead of being subject to falling into the wild ways of the world.

We will continue to admonish our children with tears, and turn to God with prayer, but if our faith is strong, we will put our trust in God wholeheartedly, knowing that his love is stronger than any savage wolves, and in the end, he will always keep our children close to his heart, and they will continue to bring God’s goodness to the world in which they live.

Favorite Quotes/Thomas Merton

"See who God is! Realize what this Mass is! See Christ here on the Cross! See his wounds, see his torn hands, see how the King of Glory is crowned with thorns! Do you know what Love is? Here is Love. Here on this Cross, here is Love, suffering these nails, these Thorns, that scourge loaded with lead, smashed to pieces, bleeding to death because of your sins and bleeding to death because of people who will never know him, and never think of him, and will never remember his sacrifice. Learn from him how to love God and how to love men! Learn of the Cross, this Love, how to give your life away to Him."

Thomas Merton
Seven Storey Mountain

Monday, May 25, 2009

Favorite Quotes/Gina Loehr

"It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes, she must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping." St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440)

From Gina Loehr's Real Women, Real Saints

I was inspired by the great post on The Prodigal Daughter's Blog-Sanctifying Work, found this quote in my journal, and just had to add it to my blog!

Memorial Day Gardening

"You shall be like a watered garden." Isaiah 58:11

After praising the Lord and praying for all of this country's veterans at morning Mass and attending a Memorial Day Parade with my family, I join with many others in my community, and begin to plant my vegetable and flower gardens. My children, Justin and Mary enjoy getting right into the dirt with me, and after a long day, we can be proud of the accomplishments that will bear fruit and beauty all summer long. My dad had the ultimate green thumb and could produce a beautiful, lush garden from the most clay-baked soil. It will be 3 years this July since my dad passed away, and when I am in the garden, it is then that I miss him the most. He was a veteran of WWII's 8th Air Force, so I honor him today with this blog.

Life in a Garden

My dad and I were very different. He was extremely quiet, and I can’t stop talking. When we were together, I had nothing to say. He taught me that it’s ok to be silent. He taught me that love doesn’t have to be spoken, but it can be silently shared with actions.

He gave me a great gift. That gift is a love for God’s great earth. He was a lover of gardens and trees. It is there that he found peace from his many troubles.

Like my dad, I too find peace in a garden. There is nothing more peaceful than kneeling in a strawberry patch, smelling the sweet berries, watching my fingers turn pink as my basket fills with so many red treasures.

There is great strength in turning the earth and hoeing the weeds. There is extreme satisfaction in pushing a small seed into the dark, cold earth, and watching beautiful flowers grow from it. There is glorious joy in sharing the bounty of fruits and vegetables with friends and family.

This love found in gardening doesn’t require any words; it is also a silent love. But it is a deep, profound love. It’s no wonder that life began in a garden.

Thank you, Dad, for sharing this love of gardening with me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Anniversary Fr. Carl!

Today my family was most blessed to attend the 40th anniversary to Priestly Ordination of our dear friend, Fr. Carl Last. Fr. Carl confirmed my husband Paul, presided at our marriage 18 years ago, and baptized our first three sons. We have known and loved him for the past 20 years. We know that priests today are super busy and are so grateful that we have been able to remain a part of his life even though our lives have changed so much.

Paul and I were married in 1991 at Corpus Christi parish. Shortly after we were married, Fr. Carl was transferred to St. Matthias parish. When Paul and I bought our house, it was close to St. Matthias, and the first time we went there for Mass, Fr. Carl greeted us with the following: "There you are! I've been waiting for you!" So, naturally, we quickly joined the parish! It seemed all too soon and Fr. Carl was sent to the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist as rector and pastor. Within a few years, the Cathedral began a youth choir group for all of the children in the Archdiocese, called the Choristers of St. Francis Xavier. My children joined, one by one, and for the past six years, we have been blessed to once again be a part of Fr. Carl's life on a regular basis, even though we have remained parishioners at St. Matthias.

Today, my children had the honor of singing at his Anniversary Mass. Knowing how many lives he has touched in 40 years of service to God and His people, it really surprises me that he would still consider our humble family to be an important part of his life.

As we walked into the atrium for the reception after Mass, we were greeted by one of the Cathedral parishioners who told us to go directly to the table where Father Carl had a poster of pictures set up. We were so surprised to see our wedding picture with Fr. Carl on display for all to see! This is especially surprising because the Cathedral is a choice spot for weddings in the Archdiocese because it is such a beautiful church, and the weddings that take place there are often very extravagant. Yet it was our humble picture from 18 years ago at little Corpus Christi parish that he chose to display. Nothing could have made us more proud!

We love you Fr. Carl! Thank you for loving us and including us in your life! Thank you for your many years of faithful service to the church. Happy Anniversary, and many more!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ordination Day!!!

My son John, his friend Jerry and I had the great honor and pleasure of witnessing the Ordination of six beautiful and holy men to the Priesthood today at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Milwaukee. The Cathedral was packed and the atmosphere was energized with profound prayer. Bishop William Callahan, OFM gave such a wonderful homily that stirred the hearts of all those present. He spoke of the priesthood as being a gift for the people. I am so very grateful to be a Catholic. I am so very grateful to have been present for this holy occasion! We were so honored to receive the first Priestly Blessing from Fr. Luke Strand (pictured in front receiving a blessing himself!) and left the Cathedral feeling lifted out of our sinfulness and brought into a holier state.Please join me in praying for newly ordained Fathers Angel, Sean, Mark, Aaron, Dan and Luke. Please join me in praying for more and more vocations to the Priesthood.

Sharing the Presence of God

Little sparrow pecking about near my feet,
where do you find your courage?
It must be a gift to you from God.
You are not afraid of me,
even though I am so much larger than you.
You must sense that my stillness
is a source of safety for you.
Maybe you can feel my prayer
and you know that God is with me
on this beach and I am resting in His love.
Stay and keep me company little sparrow.
I am honored to share
the presence of God with you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fifteen Minutes

I often complain that when I meet with a client, I’m only allowed fifteen minutes to complete the WIC certification process. Sometimes, if the client is disinterested, or in a big hurry, or has terribly unruly children who won’t be quiet and allow for conversation, 15 minutes can seem like a long time. I can struggle to pull information from a non-receptive client and feel that any nutrition guidance I want to share falls on uninterested ears, so those 15 minutes may shrink to 10 minutes that can feel more like 100 minutes.

But more often than not, when a client with whom I meet has some real concerns, whether those concerns regard nutrition or just difficult life issues, fifteen minutes never seems like enough, especially when I consider the fact that I may never see that particular client again. Our WIC clinic is large with a caseload of about 3200 clients seen each month. We employ seven nutritionists, only two of whom are full-time. So, more than the fact that fifteen minutes can feel more like five minutes when there is so much need in the lives of some of our clients, the really difficult part is the fact that we rarely see the same client twice. I may never know if the drug-addicted mother was ever able to quit using drugs once and for all. I may never know if the baby who struggled to latch on to his mother’s breast was ever able to get the hang of breastfeeding and grow to be healthy and strong with his mother’s breast milk. I may never know if the homeless family ever found shelter, if the abused women left her boyfriend, if the woman struggling with an unwanted pregnancy ever came to a happy acceptance of the life growing within her.

I shared these struggles with a friend recently who wisely reminded me that although I may never see the results of those fifteen minutes spent with my WIC clients, I can affect more good than I may ever know. She encouraged me by telling me that the people who Jesus helped during his years of ministry often met him in passing only. The many sick and suffering people that he cured never saw him again after the healing took place. But the fact remains that once Jesus touched their lives, they were forever changed for the better.

Fifteen minutes may not seem very long. I may not ever hear a “Thank you! Your words of encouragement changed my life and I am now eating better, feeling better and living better!” But I trust that I can and do make a difference without ever hearing those words of affirmation. In his book Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire, Joseph Langford writes: “Beyond whatever material assistance she gave to the poor, she made it a point to, first of all, sit, listen and comfort. She would spend time simply being present with the poor, face to face and heart to heart with those who had no one…No government program could give the gift of presence-only individual hearts. Only the human heart can communicate the heart of God.” So I can trust that as long as I am willing to listen with an open heart and to look for Jesus living within the people I meet each day, I will make a difference beyond nutrition counseling and healthy foods. I will bring the heart of God, however briefly, to the hearts of the suffering women and children I meet each day.

Favorite Quotes/Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living." Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Favorite Quotes/Etty Hillesum

"And when the turmoil becomes too great and I am completely at my wits end, then I still have my folded hands and my bended is my most precious inheritance...the girl who learned to pray. That is my most intimate gesture, more intimate than being with a man. After all, one can't pour the whole of one's love out over a single man, can one?"

Etty Hillesum
An Interrupted Life

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Favorite Quotes/Dorothy Day

"Being a mother is fulfillment, it is surrender to others, it is love and therefore, of course, it is suffering."

Dorothy Day
The Long Loneliness

Spirit in the Night

Dear God,

I thought that after I had spent the day working so hard in the garden, that sleep would be deep and easy for me. Not so.

After noisy thunderstorms and nightmares plagued with images of evil, I only spent the night tossing and turning, feeling pain and discomfort in all of my muscles and fear in my heart.

Then, I felt your spirit moving in the wind. I could hear you calling to me in the rustling of the leaves outside my window, reminding me that you are always with me, loving me, even in my fear. When I walked to the window, I could feel your spirit brush across my face in the breeze, but even more reassuring was the delightful fragrance that your spirit shared with me. The air hung heavy with your perfumed springtime scent and I was filled with joy and love.

I really enjoy our quiet times together in the middle of the night. I can feel you so close to me. I know you love me very deeply.

Although my body is tired and aching, my soul is very much alive and awake, filled with the life and peace of your quiet presence, your gift to me alone.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Favorite Quotes/Fr. Robert Barron

"Fear is a function of living our lives at the surface level, a result of forgetting our deepest identity. At the roots and ground of our being, at the 'center' of who we are, there is the 'image and likeness of God.' When we rest in the center and realize its power, we know that we are 'saved'. Therefore, we can let go of fear and live in radical trust. Fear is the 'original sin'. Fear is the poison that was injected into human consciousness from the beginning.

Robert Barron
And Now I See

Spring Growing Pains

Dear God,

As your beautiful world
Comes to life in the season of spring
I realize that I, too
Am coming to life in the season
Of Your love.

Like the leaves on the trees
And the flowers in the ground
I am growing.

As an adolescent suffers pain
In his joints during periods of growth,
I, too, suffer pain during my period of growth.

Is it possible that the
Growth of spring
Is painful for the leaves and flowers, too?
Do they suffer pains to produce
Their beauty?
They must!

Pain produces new life and new growth
For everyone and everything.
Please God,
Be with all living things
As we reach and stretch
And grow.



Today is my Goddaughter, Marigold's 2nd Birthday...


You are a beautiful flower in my heart.
You lift your precious smile to the sun and
Radiate light and love to everyone around you.
You are the cause of deep joy.
You spread love wherever you go.
You are a blessing.
You are love.

Thank you for growing in my heart.

Happy Birthday Marigold!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Favorite Quotes/Bishop Fulton Sheen

"The very sense of loss you feel in this world is in itself a proof that once you were possessed, and possessed by God. Though your passions may have been satisfied, you were never satisfied...Start with your own insufficiency and begin a search for perfection. Begin with your own emptiness and seek Him who can fill it. But you must be aware of your loneliness and want and disappointments before you can want Him to supply it."

Bishop Fulton Sheen

Mary's First Communion

In this month of May when so many children receive our Blessed Lord for the first time, I want to share the story of my daughter Mary and her special day...

Mary’s First Communion

I thank God for the miracle that is my daughter, Mary. She gives a glorious witness to God in everything she says and does. I can see God alive in her. She has a way about her that allows her to draw everyone closer to God.

Last year, when she was in kindergarten, she longed to confess her sins and live in God’s peace. When I told her she would have to wait and prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation, she couldn’t stand it. “But mama, I have a lot of sins!” she complained. Thinking that she just wanted to visit with the priest, that she was trying to be like her parents and brothers, I asked the priest if she could come and talk to him and he agreed. How surprised and delighted he looked when he heard her begin to confess the things that were tugging at her conscience. How surprised and delighted I was, when I saw him give her absolution!

I shared this reconciliation story with our Pastoral Associate, who then said, “Sign Mary up for her First Communion. She’s ready!”

Excitement filled our hearts at the thought of our little Mary receiving Jesus while only in the first grade at six years old! We knew this was something really special!

Mary was so eager for Communion, that from that day on, when the family went to receive Communion, Mary joined us with her little arms crossed over her chest, to receive a blessing from the priest. She was always most reverent as she bowed before the bread and wine in a physical sign of respect for the presence of God.

Finally, after much preparation, the big day arrived! Mary looked absolutely radiant in her white dress and veil. She was so excited to finally be able to wear the white clunky shoes she longed for all winter!

Great joy filled out hearts as we witnessed Mary make a throne with her little hands to receive her Lord Jesus into her heart and her very body.

This day was a cause for great celebration! Everyone wanted to share in Mary’s joy! But, before we could join the party, we had to make a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up delicious chicken to feed to our guests. Have you ever seen a little girl in her First Communion dress pushing a shopping cart? She was so filled with joy that she bounced up and down behind the cart, and caught the attention of everyone in the store. Smiles surrounded her and her obvious witness to the love of Jesus.

Upon arriving back home, the party was already in full swing! The table was loaded with food, the little children were running about and stories and laughter rang throughout the house.

It was a beautiful day with our large family and many special guests including our Pastor and the Associate Pastor in attendance. By the time the party was winding down and the guests were leaving, Mary’s wonderful teacher, Sister Rita and her friend, Sister Doris arrived. We shared a quiet, peaceful visit with them. Mary and Sister Rita sat together on the couch and spent the longest time together quietly looking at the new Bible Mary had received, and sharing all the Bible stories that Mary had learned about in school. Later, Mary said that quiet time with her teacher was her favorite part of the day.

Little did we know that more excitement was still on its way. That evening, we received a phone call from a man asking to speak with Mary. As Mary was listening to the caller speak, I could see her face light up with happiness. I knew this call was from someone very special. When Mary hung up, she said the caller was Archbishop Dolan! He had called to congratulate her on her First Communion. What a great honor this was for Mary!

As our family continues to attend daily Mass, I find the joy to be continuing. Every day as we get in line to receive Eucharist, Mary turns to me and says “I’m so excited!” After she receives the Body and Blood of Christ, she practically dances back to her pew! When she gets back to the pew she throws her little arms up in the air in a physical prayer of praise and thanksgiving for the gift of Jesus within her. Everyone who sees her can’t help but smile at her exuberance. She is alive with the true Spirit of God. We should all receive Jesus with as much joy and delight as Mary does. Her happy nature is a gift from God and she gratefully returns it back to him. When Jesus said “Let the little children come to me,” this had to be what he meant. We would all do well to learn a lesson from Mary. We should all be filled with excitement, joy and wonder because we have Jesus inside of us.

What I Love About Joe

That poor middle child Joe. I guess he's just so misunderstood because both of his parents were the baby's of their families. Once again, he asked me to write about him on this blog. He's so sweet, how can I say no? So, if you enjoyed the May 11th Middle Child blog, here's another one you may like...

What I Love About Joe

The other morning, Mary came downstairs wearing Joe's ST. JUDE basketball shirt. When I asked her why she was wearing Joe's clothes, this was her reply: "I was scared last night and couldn't fall asleep. Joe gave me this shirt and told me that St. Jude would protect me. Then I fell fast asleep. He was right!"

The kids sang with the Choristers of St. Francis Xavier last night at the Cathedral. They were looking forward to sleeping in this morning, and when I told them that the boys were scheduled to serve at this morning's early Mass at our parish, Joe was quick to complain. After some time to think, he told me "Mom, I was mad about having to go to Mass twice in one weekend, but then I thought about Grandma and how she is suffering from cancer, and I decided that I could use this as an extra opportunity to pray for her."

Every time I walk into a room, Joe tells me that he loves me, he gives me a "high five" or he tells me that I'm funny. He tells me "You're cool mom, even if you do go to Mass everyday!"

I have no doubt that my middle child will make a name for himself in this world and he will be successful in life. But most of all, he has a special place in my heart and in God's heart, and he always will!

(By the way, Joe does not approve of this picture-he would rather have a picture of a basketball on my blog. Sorry Joe!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cherubim and Fiery Revolving Swords

A prayer when facing temptations:

“He stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:9-24

My dearest Jesus, my one and only love,

So many people and things try to make their way into my heart, they try to take your place there, and they want to push you out.

So often, Jesus, I am so weak that I allow others to have the space that belongs to you, I let them crowd you out. But Jesus, this is not what I want! I only want you!

My heart is the tree of life. It is the place where you live and grow. Help me to protect your life in my heart. Station your cherubim and fiery revolving sword outside my heart so your presence will always be protected inside of me.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


"As the Father loves me,so I also love you. Remain in my love." John 15:9-17

The bright green grasshopper
hanging on the back door screen
teaches me a lesson.
If I hang on to God for dear life,
just like the grasshopper
hangs on to the back door screen,
I won’t fall off the path of holiness
even if someone slams the door,
because God will be
hanging on to me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Idiot Box

Jack and Mary were in the living room
Gleefully banging on kettles
With wooden spoons.

The din was overwhelming!

Joe walked into the room
And turned on the television.

At once
The banging stopped.
The room was silent.

The din was overwhelming!

Teach me to find the prayer
In loud noises.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Robin's Nest

Living Among the Thorns
A robin built her nest on the sun-porch window ledge, right behind the rose bush. We can easily watch her from our front window. Her homey nest is tucked into the corner with the branches of the fresh, green rose bush to protect her from the wind and sun, and other dangers such as fascinated children and neighborhood cats. Day and night she sits there, eyes wide open to any possible threats to her growing family.

I worry about that mother robin. Does she know that when that rose bush grows, it will crowd her and her family? Does she realize how sharp those thorns are? Will those thorns injure her and her babies as they go about their daily business of finding worms and learning to fly? I will be so disappointed if something tragic would happen to them, that I am almost sorry that they chose my humble window ledge to be their home.

Isn’t that robin just like all of us? She’s simply trying to eke out a safe and simple existence in this world filled with thorns. But there really is no escaping the thorns of everyday life. They will always be with us. We just need to learn how to cope with them, to work around them, to live with them. We all suffer from the thorns of overwork, stress, anger, jealousy, exhaustion and resentment. There are times when the thorns of hunger and want enter our lives. Many endure the pain of the thorns of rejection or abuse. We cope as best we can, don’t we? We lean heavily on God whenever we need him the most. We try to make a comfortable nest for our families and ourselves so that even in the midst of our thorns, we will have someplace safe and warm to return to when we are in need of rest.

I need to remind myself to listen to the wisdom of the words of Jesus: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.” Matthew 6:26. The key word is trust, isn’t it? God will take care of the robin family and God will take care of my family. It’s so easy for me to work myself into a panicked frenzy over all the activities that must be accomplished, over all of the bills that must be paid, and over all of the ups and downs of life. If only I could follow the example of that mother robin. Like her, I should keep my eyes open and watchful for immediate dangers and leave the rest of my worries and cares in God’s loving hands, trusting that He will always care for me and see to all of my needs. Instead of being fearful of the pain that those thorns can inflict upon my body and my heart, I should be reveling in the beauty of the fragrant roses that will soon blossom from the thorny branches.

I look forward to an interesting summer watching the robin family grow in front of my eyes. I know that God must also be interested in watching my family grow in front of His eyes as well. So even in the midst of the thorns of life, I will trust in God to always care for us and to meet all of our needs, and I will thank Him for scattering a few sweetly-scented roses in my path. I am thankful for the mother
robin that taught me a valuable lesson in faith, and I am thankful to God for using a simple bird to draw me closer to His heart.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Everything Old is New Again
Latin Mass

I grew up in a post-Vatican II world and could never quite understand the passion of so many people who vehemently resented the changes instilled in the Mass by Pope John XXIII and the Vatican II Council. On the other hand, I also failed to understand the passion of so many people who insisted that the church did not change enough, did not become modern enough for their liking. I’m sure that the fact that I never attended a Latin Mass would go a long way toward explaining my lack of understanding of either position. I always thought, “What’s all the fuss about? What’s wrong with the Mass the way it is?”

This past weekend, I went on my first-ever Pilgrimage. Usually when you hear the word Pilgrimage, don’t you think of traveling to some far-off destination like Fatima, Lourdes or the Holy Land? Unfortunately, I am not a world traveler. I’ve never been on an airplane and it is highly unlikely that I ever will. So my Pilgrimage was not in an exotic location, however, it was beautiful nonetheless. Some of my sisters, nieces, my daughter Mary and I traveled across our beautiful state of Wisconsin by mini-van to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse. We chose the occasion of Mother’s Day weekend to make our Pilgrimage because it happened to be the tenth anniversary of my own mother’s death and we thought this would be a lovely way to honor her memory-and it was.

The Shrine is quite new, built within the last year. It is run by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Although the building is new and everything was absolutely beautiful, the atmosphere was definitely traditional. During this lovely weekend retreat, I was finally able to lift a portion of the veil that for so long hid the historic traditions of the Catholic Church from my eyes, and a part of the ancient mystery was finally revealed to me.

On Saturday, we participated in a beautiful May Crowning of the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A father lifted his sweet little girl who was wearing a lace veil up so that she might reach high enough to place the floral wreath upon the head of our beautiful Lady. In fact, it was hard to miss the fact that most of the women and girls at the Shrine wore lace coverings on their heads. It was also hard to miss the fact that most of the families were quite large, with 5-8 children in most of them, and all of the family members were modestly dressed. The atmosphere was definitely reverent. Then everyone processed to the Shrine Church while praying the rosary.

The church itself was quite impressive! It was large with lots of marble. The sides of the church displayed portraits of many wonderful saints. The one which impressed me the most was a portrait of newly canonized St. Gianna Molla immortalized in a lab coat, holding a baby and surrounded by small children. I am so used to seeing Saints dressed in the habits of nuns or old-fashioned clothing, it was nice to see someone modern, and someone I could relate to. I think that St. Gianna and the glorious way that she witnessed to the pro-life cause by giving her own life for the sake of her daughter, makes her one of my favorite Saints!

When it was time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my seven year old daughter Mary expressed reservations for the first time since she received the Sacrament when she was in kindergarten. She receives the Sacrament regularly, at least every other month, but never behind a screen. My modern daughter has only received this Sacrament face to face. She bravely walked into the Confessional and came out beaming, happy to have had a new experience of the Sacrament that cleanses her soul.

During the Mass, we heard out first ever “Fire and Brimstone” homily. The message was strong and powerful, yet it was delivered in a very gentle manner in a quiet and humble voice. Quite impressive! The gist of the homily was that all families need to consecrate themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the salvation of the world. I was moved enough by this homily to agree to praying the consecration prayer daily. Here's the link if you would like to join me in this prayer.

Another first for most of our group was kneeling at the marble Altar rail and receiving the Body of Christ on our tongues. Mary later commented that it was weird and fun at the same time. My niece Jenny had a more beautiful way of expressing her experience. She said it was as if an angel came down from heaven to place the Heavenly Host directly on her tongue. I can almost hear beautiful opera voices singing "Panis Angelicus".

On Sunday morning, we returned to the Shrine to walk the outdoor Way of the Cross and pray the rosary. Then it was back to church for another new experience-Mass in Latin! While listening to the gorgeous Latin chants, I could feel the Holy Spirit moving in my heart. I loved the sound of the bells ringing during the Mass. Once again, I greatly enjoyed the reverence of kneeling to receive Holy Communion. But, I have to admit that the modern way of praying at Mass in English, where everyone can easily participate, and being able to see the priest and all of his actions as he faces the people has a definite advantage over the Latin Rite.

All in all, I am so grateful to have had this beautiful experience of Pilgrimage and Latin Mass. Although I didn’t travel to an exotic location, I did have an exotic experience of my faith. I absolutely love being Catholic, I love the Church and I love the Mass. I cannot imagine life without it! I am grateful for the Vatican II changes, but I love the history and tradition of being able to pray a Mass in Latin as well. In modern language, I would say that with or without disagreements, before or after change, the Catholic Church rocks! I thank God for this beautiful, meaningful religion. Now, if I could just find out what “The Secret Prayer” is and what is so secret about it, I would be very happy! It’s another veil for me to work at lifting aside! I look forward to learning the answer with great anticipation!

The Middle Child

My son Joe is the classic middle child, always looking for attention so he doesn't get lost in the crowd of five. To his credit, he is very clever. This year I admit that he did win the Best Mother's Day of the year card. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I just have to share it! Enjoy!

I’m sorry that you had to give up your career as a model.

I’m sorry you had to have 5 beautiful kids even though they rock.
(especially that Joe kid. He’s cool).

I’m sorry you had to give up so much of
your time for us to hold us in your hand.

I’m sorry you had to change your personality
from dating-with-Dad kind of mom to a watch-your-amazing-son-Joe-play-basketball-and-win kind of mom. Just Kidding.

Mom, I’m sorry for a lot of things but today is Mother’s Day so lets just forget about all of that and PARTY!

So there’s one more thing to say mom…………

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's Always About the Laundry!

Today as I checked out one of my favorite blogs, The Deacon's Bench, I found a lovely prayer about laundry. Even on Mother's Day, I can't escape my least favorite chore, it seems to follow me constantly! After reading this post, maybe you will feel my pain and send me your sympathy!

Laundry Day…aka…Every Day!

I know what I want on my tombstone…At last, her laundry’s done.
-Kathleen Norris The Cloister Walk

Seven people in our household adds up to lots of laundry, sometimes 3-4 loads a day! Laundry gets done in our house seven days a week, holidays included. It’s no wonder that I’ve come to consider myself to be somewhat of a laundry expert. Please note it is not with pride that I give myself this title, but rather, with disdain. Laundry is one of my most dreaded chores.

A priest once told me that laundry could be a prayer. “Easy for you to say,” I scoffed, “you only have to do laundry for one, your laundry prayer only occurs once or twice a week instead of once or twice a day! I happen to be a prayer snob. I prefer to offer daily prayer in other, less mundane ways.”

But it seemed, that ever since he told me that laundry could be a prayer, I kept running into the “laundry as prayer” theme over and over again. This constant attention to praying with the laundry has caused me to ponder the possibility of this type of prayer more than I would have cared to normally. My usual habit was to do the laundry as quickly as possible, chuck it all into the dresser drawers, and then try to put it out of my mind.

I think that the only time in my life that I might have considered laundry to be a real prayer were the years when my children were babies bundled in cloth diapers. I tried to accomplish the daily chore of lugging the heavy, smelly diaper pail down two flights of stairs to the basement as quickly as possible to limit my time spent inhaling the odor. Although, I can’t forget the time when those diapers smelled sweet instead of disgusting. That was when two-year-old Justin poured all of my perfume into the diaper pail. He was ahead of his time for the scented-diaper market now so popular in the disposable diaper world! Anyway, I would quickly deposit those diapers into the hot bleach water, run the wash cycle twice for good measure, and then hang them, now sparkling white and fresh, on the backyard clothesline to dry. There was definitely something prayerful and old-fashioned about standing outside in the backyard with clothespins in hand, creating white surrender flags with the diapers. It was as if I was surrendering my life to God so he could use me in any motherly fashion he needed me to be at that time. Then, quietly folding those diaper flags of surrender into neat piles contained in the laundry basket, symbolized how contained I felt in my life at home with all those babies.

But today, as I sort endless socks, looking for the lost partners, I could use a little guidance to find the prayer in it. Maybe I could focus on how those socks cover feet so sturdy and strong as they wander God’s lovely world. But, then again, maybe sock-sorting is really meant to be a penance instead of a prayer. I can just imagine the hushed voice of the priest in the confessional..."As your penance, say three Hail Mary's while you fold the family laundry!"

My poor son, Joe, has unwittingly become my partner in laundry prayer. While all of the children take turns emptying the hamper and bringing the laundry down to the basement for me to wash (I refuse to turn the washing job over to the children unless I’m willing to let stains go untreated, colors go unsorted, and watch them overstuff the wash machine with inside out pant legs and socks rolled in balls which would come out of the wash as dirty as they went in!), it seems to be that Joe’s name rolls so easily from my tongue day after day when its time to put the folded laundry away into the dresser drawers. So, Joe is assigned the laundry chore, much to his chagrin. I tell him that he can consider his unhappiness about helping with the laundry to be something that he has in common with his mother. I can imagine him years from now, long after I’m dead, fondly recalling how he and his mom both hated to do the laundry. I wonder, does he pray for each of his siblings as he puts their clothes into their drawers, or does he too, consider it to be more of a penance?

Maybe I spend too much time worrying about whether or not laundry is a prayer. Maybe it’s time to teach my children to press their own shirts, and press forward in my heart to ever-new ways of praying to my God. Could it be time to consider the dusting?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Idol Worship?

You may be wondering, what does the Bender family do for fun when basketball season is over? Tonight, we packed up the family van, headed down to the Summerfest grounds, parked 2 miles away and hoofed it to an extremely crowded Harley Davidson stage to watch our hometown hero, American Idol favorite, Danny Gokey, sing about 5 barely audible songs over a blown out speaker booming mostly bass. Did I say watch? I meant listen, because the crowd was so gigantic that none of us could see him at all. Then, as we were walking the two miles back to the van, we heard the sound of police sirens and saw the motorcade that carried our hero to the Brewer Game where he would sing the National Anthem. What a thrill it was as he waved at us while we screamed "We love you Danny!" That's it! That was our entire fun night out! And the best part of all? It was absolutely free! That's right! It didn't cost us a single penny! As we were driving home, our children thanked Paul and I for taking them out and showing them a good time. Honestly! Even the teenagers!

Do you think God is offended by our worship of this mere mortal simply because he has a good singing voice and he comes from our wonderful city? My hope is that he is not offended, my hope is that he is overjoyed, because Danny Gokey not only has a good voice, but he also has a good character. He is well known for his Christian values and is a good role model for children. He knows that God is truly the only one worthy of Idol worship.

I pray that God is so pleased that our family can enjoy a simple night out with each other, get along reasonably well and remember to be grateful for it all, that he won't be the least bit slighted that our purpose was to see an "American Idol". In our hearts, there is truly only one Idol, and our Idol is so big and so great that he is much bigger than an "American Idol", he is a "Universe Idol". There is no one else who created everything, loves everything and everyone and only longs for us to love him in return. It is with great joy that we do love him in return, and work to bring others to love him as well. I think that even Danny Gokey would agree that the only true Idol in all the world is our one and only heavenly Father, God!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mother's Day

In honor of the upcoming holiday for all Mothers, I have brought out my classic story. I originally wrote this for a Metro Parent Magazine contest several years ago. I think it was too Catholic for them, but it is very suitable for this blog! I would also like to wish a very special Mother's Day this year to my beautiful mother-in-law, Marilyn who did such a great job in raising my husband Paul to be a good and decent man. To all of you gentle readers, please keep Marilyn in your prayers as she begins her battle against breast cancer.
Happy and Blessed Mother's Day to all!

Three Beautiful Marys

I’d like to share a story of three beautiful Marys for Mother’s Day. The first Mary is Mary, the Mother of God. My family has always had a great devotion to this Holy Woman. Several of my sisters and nieces and I get together monthly to honor her by praying the rosary together. It is our hope to model our lives after her loving, quiet presence.

The second mother in this story is my own mother, Mary Reindl. My mom lovingly mothered nine children, six of whom were girls. I never gave much thought to the tremendous challenges that she faced in raising so many children with so much love, until it became my turn to be a mother.

I have always thought that I would have lots of daughters, since this is the type of family that I grew up in, and I’ve cherished my sisters as they are all my best friends. But, my own family was not meant to mirror my childhood family. Instead, I became the mother of four sons within five years. I began to think that I wasn’t a very good mother to boys, and that I needed more practice, so God kept giving me more boys to practice with! My sons, John, Justin, Joe and Jack, are all wonderful. They bring me so much joy! During those early years, which were a blur of nursing, diapers and Barney, I always turned to my mother for advice and support. Although we were separated by a distance of 80 miles, my long distance phone bill attested to the many hours she spent listening to me fret about my mothering skills (or lack of skills!).

So, it was with great sadness, that I said goodbye to her for the last time, when my youngest son, Jack, was six months old. My mother, Mary, died of a brain tumor on Mother’s Day, 1999. Mother’s Day has been bittersweet for me ever since, as I still miss her presence very deeply, every day. Now, my conversations with her are really long distance, because I know that she’s in heaven and is still a very good listener. I also know that she still has so much love to share.

When Jack was two years old, I became pregnant again. At the first ultrasound, I was found to have amniotic bands, which are pieces of uterine wall that have broken away and dangle in the amniotic fluid. These bands have the potential to amputate limbs in utero, or worse, strangle the growing fetus. So my niece Jenny called an “emergency rosary”, where my sisters, nieces and I immediately came together to pray. We prayed to Jesus’ mother, Mary, and also to our own mother Mary, and begged them to pray to God for us. Our request was to keep my growing baby from harm. One month later, when I returned to a specialist for a repeat ultrasound, all of the bands were gone! It was a miracle from our two favorite Mary’s in heaven.

The next miracle occurred on June 25th, 2001, when my husband, Paul, and I gave birth to the third Mary, our only daughter. It was not only a miracle that she was a healthy baby girl, but also because she was born on my mother’s birthday. I believe that God sent my daughter Mary on this special day as a testament to the love of my own mother. My daughter Mary is now seven years old, and has been my constant joy. So, this Mother’s Day, I give thanks for my three beautiful Marys, and I ask God’s blessings upon all mothers for the miracle of a love filled Mother’s Day.

Tree of Strength

Last fall, I was inspired the write a poem about a beautiful, lone tree on the Seminary grounds. Today, I saw that same tree bursting with the new life of spring. Here I share both of my reflections on life that were inspired by that same,wonderful tree.

Tree of Strength

The flaming tree stands alone,
on fire with autumn foliage.
It isn’t lonely to be alone.
It is proud to stand out and display its beauty in the middle of the field.
It is glorious and perfect in its solitary space.
The leaves fall and they lay at the foot of the tree.
This is their sign of worship for the mighty, strong, tree.
I am a leaf who has fallen in sin.
Now, I lay in worship at the foot
of the tree of life, the cross.
I will shrivel and decay into the earth,
and be taken back
into the tree as nourishment
to be reborn in spring.
I will be forgiven and brought to new life.

My worship,
my sorrow,
my penance
give strength and beauty to the tree.
The cycle of sin, sorrow and forgiveness
continues over and over again
making the tree stronger
and more beautiful
as it ages into eternity.

Tree of Strength-Reborn

The early morning spring mist
hovers lightly
around the mighty tree,
but it can’t conceal
the signs of new life.
Tiny, tender sprigs of
fresh green leaves
are beginning to grow
on the hard, wooden branches.

What a beautiful sign this new growth is!
All of those decayed leaves lying on the ground,
that symbolized sin only a few months ago,
have nourished the stark tree
throughout the cold winter months.

What was hidden inside the tree
was forgiveness and renewal.
I can now come forward
with my head held high
knowing that my Savior, God,
has accepted the sacrifice of my life
and brought forth something new and wonderful!

I am that new green leaf beginning to grow,
eager to become a pleasing sign
for the entire world to see.
I am reborn and ready to show
the Mercy of God to all
who pass by.