Monday, November 30, 2009

Winter Soul

As the winter trees bare their limbs

to receive the blanket of pure white snow,

So my cold winter soul bares itself

before the Lord God

to receive the warm covering of

His Pure and Holy Presence.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Manger Prayer


My heart is like the manger straw at Bethlehem. It’s cluttered, unkempt and dusty.

Yet, You chose to be born in my lowly heart just as You were born in a lowly manger.

You know that humble, unworthy surroundings are the perfect holding place for Your love to grow. What’s more, Your beautiful love transforms cluttered hearts and filthy mangers so that they become shining temples of glory.

This Advent, I will patiently wait for You to renew my cluttered heart with the birth of Your abiding presence and love. Amen.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent: The Season for...Fighting?

Every year it’s the same story when Advent comes around…Advent, which means, “come”. The ideals that our family holds up, the things we most want to come into our lives are peace, harmony and joy. We always start with the best intentions. We create a homemade Advent wreath, cutting fresh sprigs of cedar from our trees in the backyard and fill a glass pie dish with the greens and four candles, violet and pink. We lovingly place the wreath at the center of our kitchen table. Each evening as part of our dinner prayer, the children take turns lighting a candle and reading a prayer about building the stable in our hearts for Jesus. Doesn’t that sound beautiful? No greedy dreams of Christmas wishes for toys and gadgets. No secular Christmas music blaring from our radio. No loading up on Christmas treats and Christmas decorations before the season actually arrives. Just peace, harmony and joy around our Advent kitchen more...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Little White Martyrs

Mary complains that she doesn’t have any friends and nobody will play with her at recess. Some of the third grade girls tease in a sneering tone: “Why do you go to Mass, Mary?” Mary tries to sneer back: “Because I’m Cath-o-lic!” Walking away, all alone, she shakes her head and wonders why her classmates at a Catholic School would even ask her that question.

Thirteen-year-old Joe stretches out on his parents bed as mom sorts through mail at the end of the day. “I hate to tell you this Mom, but it happened again today. Please don’t feel bad, but almost every day, someone teases me because I go to daily Mass. If I don’t behave perfectly, if I say something mean, or get in trouble with the teacher, it always comes out… “Nice Christian witness, Joe! Is that what you learn at daily Mass? What would your holy Mom say? And by the way, did she used to be a nun?” Joe grimaces at the snide remarks and holds his temper in check until I come home and he tries to release it without hurting his sensitive mother.

Wondering if Jack was getting the same treatment, I questioned my quiet son. Unsure of the details, all he remembers is a question from his teacher at the beginning of the year… “Do you really go to Mass every day Jack? Who else is there, any other students?” Jack replied in the negative, “The only other people there all have grey hair.”

Gentle Jesus,

We love You and try to serve You in all we say and do. Our time with You each day at Mass is a treasure beyond cost, even the cost of painful remarks. Let the power of our daily reception of Your precious Body and Blood soothe the hurts of these humble believers who choose to begin our days in Your Holy Presence. Amen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sabbath Sunday-Alabaster Jars

Enjoy a re-post from last May... In the spirit of Sunday, a day of rest, I am joining with Fr.Christian Mathis from Blessed is the Kingdom and re-posting a favorite story from the past instead of writing something new. Join in, put your feet up and keep the Sabbath holy...

“Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. So he went to the Pharisee’s home and took his place at the table. There was a woman who was a notorious sinner in that city. When she learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s home, she took an alabaster jar of perfume and knelt at his feet behind him. She was crying and began to wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. Then she kissed his feet over and over again, anointing them with costly perfume.” Luke 7:36-39

The perfume that this woman poured on Jesus’ feet cost her a year’s wages! This was extravagant love indeed! I dream of being this woman, of pouring out all of my love for Jesus and having him respond gratefully. This is by far my favorite gospel story. Fr. Don Hying, the rector at St. Francis Seminary, writes about this extravagant love and says, “When we break open the alabaster jar of our lives, the world is filled with the fragrance of Christ.”(New Heart New Spirit, April 2008) I can easily see that alabaster jar being broken open in the love of Mother Teresa, and all of those wonderful missionaries who follow after her. I can see the alabaster jar being broken open when a mother sits up all night, exhausted, and patiently caring for her sick child. I can see the alabaster jar being broken open when two friends sit together and quietly share stories of the love of God working in their lives. I can see the alabaster jar being broken open at every Mass when the priest holds the precious body of our Lord in his hands and everyone looks upon it with love.

Recently, I witnessed two very real instances of alabaster jars in my own life and I would like to share those stories. Not too long ago, I was having a very bad day; I was feeling unloved and unlovable, really drowning in self-pity and sorrow. I spent an afternoon at home crying and pouring out my misery to God. Then, my husband walked in the door at the end of his workday. He held me in his arms for the longest time and poured love from his heart to mine. Later, when I opened the bedroom door, I found two dozen red and pink roses on our bed. They were the most beautiful roses that I have ever seen in my life! Now, Paul is not the type of husband who routinely buys me flowers. In fact, in the eighteen years since we were married, I can only recall two other instances when he bought me flowers. But this day, those arms around me when I needed them the most and those beautiful, fragrant roses were an alabaster jar of extravagant love that nothing could ever match!

Another instance of an alabaster jar brings a smile to my face every time I recall it. While babysitting for my great-nephews and great-niece, Alex, Andrew and Caitlin, we spent a sunny morning outside, delighting in the beautiful warm spring weather. Caitlin, having just turned one year old, enjoyed exploring her world from her new-found skill of walking. She wobbled from tree, to flower, to slide, to toy car, to sandbox with a smile of pure joy on her face. I’m sure our time outside completely wore her out! I was trying to delay her naptime to coincide with Andrew’s, so I know she was very tired. My nephew, David, came home for lunch, and the minute that Caitlin saw him, she threw her little, tired body down at his feet and wrapped her arms around his ankles as if to say, this is what I have been waiting for! Here is my beloved father who brings me happiness with his very presence! Watching the love of that moment, I was no longer looking at Caitlin and David, but before my eyes, I was witnessing Mary and Jesus. As David bent down to pick up Caitlin and hold her in his arms, her head naturally rested near his heart as if to say, this is all I ever need, and thank you for loving me.

Everywhere I look, I will be seeing alabaster jars breaking open for the rest of my life. The world smells delicious with the rich perfume of love hanging heavy in the air. I could never grow my hair long enough to dry all of the ointment mingling with the tears. And it doesn’t matter how many people may react with scorn and disdain and criticize the extravagance. Those alabaster jars are going to keep on breaking, the fragrance is going to continue to spread, because God’s love cannot and will not be held back. Once the fragrance of Christ is in the air, our senses are awakened and we cannot help but breathe it in and share it with others.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Story of Mr. Blart/Guest Post

As a homework assignment, my 13-year-old son Joe was to write a children's story with a moral. I just loved what he came up with so much, that I thought I would share it on the blog, hoping that it would bring smiles to many faces. Enjoy!

The Story of Mr. Blart
By: Joe Bender

Mr. Blart was not very smart.
Instead of a car he drove a grocery store cart.
“Today,” Mr. Blart did start.
“Today I will buy a car at Wal-Mart!”
When he got there he met Mrs. Dart,
a lady who worked right there at Wal-Mart.
What she said tore Blart right apart.
“We don’t sell real cars, cross my heart.”

That left poor Blart feeling real glum,
“A car at Wal-Mart, boy am I dumb!”
To cheer himself up he took out some gum.
It was his favorite and it made him say “YUM!”
But that still left him sad and his heart still numb.
Then poor Mr. Blart he started to hum
and on a guitar he started to strum.
Though nothing he did could make him not glum,
because after forty-three years he still lived with his mum.

“That’s it!” shouted Mr. Blart with might.
“I’ll change my life and I’ll put up a fight!”
Then Mr. Blart felt he reached a new height.
He felt like he was flying just like a kite.
He always wanted to feel so light.
He had never felt so cool so tight!
As he skipped home into the night
a smile came across his face full of delight!

He spread many books across the table.
He’d study all night if he were able.
One book had a very interesting label.
The title for it was Anne of Green Gable.
He read the book ‘til he didn’t feel stable.
Then he clicked the remote and fell asleep watching cable.

He had a dream about when he was a lad.
He got into trouble and acted real bad.
When the teacher yelled at him he got so mad
that he quit school and the whole life he had.
Waking up he felt very sad,
but only just a tad.
He wished that he still had his dad,
Though he knew he got shot by a Russian named, Vlad.
“I’ll do it!” Blart said “I’ll do it for dad!
I’ll do it for the dad I never had!”

And for him Mr. Blart went out on a limb.
He went to his old teacher, Mrs. Kim.
Mrs. Kim knew his chances were dim
but out of pity decided to help him.
Her husband, Tim,
bought some books on a whim.
With help from Mrs. Kim and Tim
he felt much smarter and they were so proud of him.

Then after that Mr. Blart was just fine.
He had an IQ of 2009.
He was so smart he could create things with some sticks and some twine.
He made a house, a garage, and a car with an engine 409.
He had lots of women all waiting in line
for Blart to say to one “You are mine!”

And so Mr. Blart turned his life upside-down.
He now wears a smile instead of a frown.
So the morale is if life’s got you down
and you’re always the loser in town,
work hard and you too, can turn your life around.

The End.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No Crucifix?

“The Vatican denounced a ruling by the European court of human rights that said the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates religious and education freedoms.” By Alessandra Rizzo, Associated Press Writer

Does this break your heart like it breaks mine? How does the crucifix which freed me from my sin, violate religious and educational freedom?

Here in America, the crucifix and prayer in public schools has long been done away with and is a tremendous loss to people of all faith backgrounds. When my children study history and/or world cultures in school, they learn about all faiths, not only Christian but Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu as well. Having knowledge of all faiths can only help to increase our understanding of and love for one another. Shutting the door on a faith and its religious symbols only serves to increase fear, misunderstanding and hatred.

When my children were in a public grade school I was always saddened when I would take them to our parish classrooms for religious studies, for it was in those rooms where I would see the beautiful crucifix and statue of our Blessed Mother. It hurt to realize that my children were denied the comfort of the precious symbols of our faith in the school that they attended each day.

What I resolved to do was to make sure my children were well educated in their faith, not simply by sending them to Christian Formation classes at our parish, but mainly by teaching them the tenets of our Catholic traditions at home and encouraging them to live their faith each day no matter where they happened to be. If the Christian symbol of the Crucifix could not be displayed in their public school classrooms, then the symbol of the Resurrected Christ would be carried in their hearts each day and shared with a non-believing world through their daily words and actions. Like the old hymn states: “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

Each day when I would walk my children to public school, I would trace the sign of the cross on their foreheads before they walked into the school as a physical reminder to them that Christ lives in them and they are to show His love to others. Then they would each trace the cross on my forehead as well so that I would also carry Christ with me no matter where I went. Today, my children who attend Catholic school, begin their day with Holy Mass and the reception of the Eucharist so that Jesus is truly alive in their hearts and can readily be shared with others through their actions each day.

I realize that this is only the tip of the iceberg, for beyond living our faith as individuals and sharing our personal love of Christ with others, we can display our faith in so many ways. Why not consider wearing a crucifix necklace every day as an outward sign of your faith? Crucifix bumper stickers for the car and statues in our yards could be a great way to display our faith. My young friend John, in England, who is editor of "A Vocation to Be a Priest" has purchased small crucifixes to leave on buses and trains. If the European government is going to rule against the crucifix in schools, he plans to bring the crucifix with him wherever he goes so that the whole world will know that wherever we are, Christ is there too. With his loving words, actions and personal witness, John plans to keep the crucifix visible not only in the schools, but in every public place in Europe.

For more on this topic, I encourage you to visit Gabriella’s Blog. You may also feel moved to email the Committee of Ministers to protest their verdict at: This is a worldwide concern, not simply a European concern. Please add your voice and your prayers to address this disgraceful situation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It Will All Be Worth It

If it takes my whole life
I won't break, I won't bend
It will all be worth it
Worth it in the end
'Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
When the stars have all burned out
You'll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently
Into morning
For the night has been unkind

“The Answer”
Sarah McLachlan

My mom and her sister Marge were women of deep faith. Their entire lives were lived in the love of the Lord. My mom died ten years ago. It was a brain tumor that resulted in her leaving this earth for eternity with the Lord at the age of 73. Eight years later my aunt Marge passed away at the age of 87.

At the funeral wake for Marge, her daughter, my cousin Mary, a beautiful and faith filled woman who seemed to have everything going for her, shared a story with me about my mom. It seems that Mary had been suffering from depression at the time of my mom’s death. Life for her was very bleak. Shortly after my mom had died, Mary had a dream about her. In Mary's dream, my mom came to her and said “Mary, it’s all worth it.” That dream gave my cousin so much peace, believing that my mom was in heaven and was encouraging Mary by letting her know that all of those earthly trials will be replaced with the joys of heaven. Of course, my sisters and I were a bit jealous of Mary because she had the dream about my mom and we didn’t, but maybe Mary needed it more at that time.

In the few months before my Aunt Marge died I myself had two experiences of prayer that have left me pondering the power of prayer and the ability we have to feel the needs of others. I was at daily Mass. During the consecration when the priest prays for those who have died, our pastor, Fr. Dave, has the habit of pausing to give everyone time to silently pray for those departed souls that we hold deeply in our hearts. I always use this time to pray for my parents and anyone I know who has died recently, by giving their names to the Lord. Suddenly, out of the blue, Marge's name came to my mind. I had not been thinking of her and had not seen her in such a long time. I wondered, "why now?" Had she died and I hadn't heard about it yet? Shortly after I “heard” her name at Mass, I was told that she was sick and in the hospital. I wondered if it wasn’t Marge’s angel who had placed her name in my mind and my heart, knowing that she was in need of prayer. A few months later this happened yet again, Marge's name coming to my mind during the consecration at Mass. It was later that I learned she had been moved to a hospice right around the time when I had "heard" her name at Mass.

By the time she finally did die, I was the one suffering through a deep depression like my cousin Mary. So, although I never had a dream about my aunt Marge or my mom comforting me from heaven, my cousin Mary’s words to me at Marge’s funeral wake about her own dream gave me comfort. God must have meant for her to share her experience with me at this particular time because he knew I needed it more at that moment than I did at the time of my own mother’s death.

Since that time two years ago, my bouts of depression come and go with a frequency which leaves me spinning, but those words that Mary heard in her dream, “it’s all worth it”, help me to cope when I know that whatever suffering I undergo here on earth will draw me to eternal joys if I can only remember to offer it up to God for the good of others both living and deceased.

Monday, November 16, 2009

This, too

I’m afraid that I will never know what it is like

to be whole and peaceful this side of heaven.

Whenever fresh pain enters my heart,

the remnant of a voice from the past comes back to haunt me,

“It’s your Good Friday, Anne, get on the cross."

I cry softly in the early morning hours of darkness,

desperately hoping God will hear me,

and release me from this pain,

but silence is the only reply.

Lonely, empty, long-lasting silence.

And when the help does finally come,

in the form of friends and family who really do care,

and put their arms around me and tell me that they love me,

I find that their love hurts, too.

I don’t believe that I deserve it.

Unworthiness and low self-esteem are my constant companions.

With a sigh, I ask God,

“This too, Lord? Do you want me to accept this pain too?

Do you want to take all of what I am, all of what I am not and all that I will never be?”

I’ve tasted resurrection; I’ve had joy after the sorrow of the past.

Now, I am here on the other side of that hill again,

standing before the cross that is waiting for me once more.

It beckons to me with the knowledge

that Jesus died because He loves me

and if I truly love Him in return,

I must also die to myself.

Like a child, I greedily beg to hold on to the joy for a little while longer.

I bite my lip to hold back the tears.

The blood dries hard on my lip like the happiness that is shriveling in my heart.

Lip biting is useless; the tears come anyway.

Never-ending tears.

I walk the familiar pavement that leads to my cross,

face to the ground hoping my tears will go unnoticed.

Cold November wind stings my damp face.

I hear the Spirit’s reply;

"This too, Anne. I want all of you.”

I bravely surrender my desires and reach out for my cross.

“This too, Lord. I give you my all.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Praise for the Reality of God!

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

I've had a couple of rough weeks recently. Nothing major at all, just lots of little things that nagged at me and bothered me. I wrote down all of the things that were bothering me, thinking I would counter each negative event with a positive thing. I never got around to doing that. Once I had my list of negativity, I was ashamed that I would even bother to write down the things that upset me as if I needed to hold onto them somehow, nurture them, let them grow and fester inside my heart.

I was blessed to spend a little bit of time with a friend this week and when I told him about my negativity list he said "Anne, that's not real. All of those things will be gone tomorrow, they don't last. All that is real is God. He is the only One who will last forever." WOW! That made so much sense to me, I went home and tore up my list. I am now determined to focus on the beautiful reality of God and all of the real ways that he shows his presence to me.

Here is my list of praise for the week. It is real because they are all gifts from God and I choose to remember them all and praise God for them.

1) For the reality of Jesus in the Eucharist.

2) For yellow mums growing in the garden in the middle of November after everything else has died.

3) For walking under a beautiful pink sunset, listening to the song of a friend.

4) For the new Archbishop of Milwaukee-Archbishop Jerome Listecki! Hooray! And a huge Praise be to God!!!

5) For the gift of old friends from the original St. Matthias Mom's Group and the chance to reconnect-especially for wonderful Sr. Moira who is visiting from Australia. How I've missed her these past 13 years!

Dear One and Only Real Father in Heaven, thank you for the reality of your love and goodness in my life. Thank you for the reality of my husband, my children and my friends. Thank you for the reality of your love in my heart. Thank you for the reality of the beauty found in nature. Thank you for being Real. Amen.

Thank you also, to Jennifer at My Chocolate Heart for hosting this weekly Praise MEME, and for her recent story about The Velveteen Rabbit becoming real (The Process of Holiness: Sometimes it Hurts to Let Yourself Be Loved for Real)published in Catholic Online.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Favorite Quotes/Bishop Fulton Sheen

"Mary recaptures woman's vocation from the beginning namely, to be to humanity the bearer of the Divine. Every mother is this when she gives birth to a child, for the soul of every child is infused by God. She thus becomes a co-worker with Divinity; She bears what God alone can give. As the priest in the order of Redemption, at the moment of Consecration, brings the crucified Savior to the altar, so the mother in the order of creation brings the spirit which issues from the Hand of God to the cradle of the earth. With such thoughts in mind, Leon Bloy once said: "The more a woman is holy, the more she becomes a woman."

Fulton Sheen

"The World's First Love"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

"Day pours out the word to day." Psalm 19

Tota pulchra es, Maria
et macula originalis non est in te.
Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol.
Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.
Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri.
Tota pulchra es, Maria.

You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [of sin] is not in you.
Your clothing is white as snow, and your face is like the sun.
You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [of sin] is not in
You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you give honour to our people.
You are all beautiful, Mary.

Last week I met with my sisters for our monthly rosary. My sister Cathy who lovingly cared for my parents before they died, brought along a box of post cards that my parents had collected on their world travels. I found this postcard in the box and I immediately fell in love with this beautiful picture, the lovely prayer and the gorgeous name-Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn. This image of Mary is also known as Our Lady of Ostra Brama and/or Our Lady of Mercy. It originated in Lithuania in the 1300's and was painted by an unknown artist. The gold and silver were added to the portrait later. Her feast is celebrated between November 10th and November 16th. Happy feast of Our Lady of The Gate of Dawn!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Kings Kids

My sister Debby and her friend Jane have been working on a children's book called "The King's Kids". Debby has been posting the pages from her book on her blog, Heavenly Humor.

Her latest posting features a picture of my son Jack when he was three years old. He was having a bad day and sat at the table spunking. Usually, when my kids are having a bad day, I wouldn't say they look "cute", but in Jack's case, that word perfectly described his disposition.

The shadow couple fighting in the background are not Paul and I. We never fight! ;)

Why don't you pay a visit to Debby's blog and if you scroll back you will find some of the other pages from her book as well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Absence of God

“You see all my light and You love my dark…and You’re still here.” Alanis Morrisette

It was several years ago on Holy Thursday. I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and it hit me hard. My words can't adequately describe the sudden, completely empty, cold and drained feeling that washed over my soul like the suds on the dishes in my hands. God had left me. I don’t know how it is that I knew this was the cause of my sudden emptiness, but there was no doubt in my mind that the absence of God had overcome me.

I had walked in the light of His love my entire life and had really taken it for granted that His love would always be there. I never gave any thought to the fact that the awareness of His presence was a gift. There were many times in my life when I put His love on a shelf and completely disregarded it as unimportant. What a fool I was!

So anyway, there I was at the sink, feeling absolutely horrible. Tears began to fall and my children, upset to see their mother crying, asked what was wrong. I couldn’t answer because I really didn’t understand what was happening to me and hadn’t a clue about how to explain it to my little ones.

We went to Holy Thursday Mass, and as I sat in church and looked around at all of the other people present, I thought, “How can God love all of these people but not love me?” I immediately scolded myself for my prideful thought, but it wasn’t pride really, it was something worse than pride. It was despair.

The associate Pastor who loved to include pop music lyrics in his homilies quoted an Alanis Morrisette song at this Mass-


“You see everything,
you see every part
you see all my light
and you love my dark

You dig everything of which
I’m ashamed
There’s not anything to which
You can’t relate
And you’re still here.”

He explained that this is exactly how God is, loving us and never leaving us no matter what. As happens from time to time, I felt that these words that Father quoted, these song lyrics, were spoken directly to my heart. The tears I was trying so hard to control, began to spill once more. I knew he was right, that God is always with me, so that made my present condition even harder to bear. The tears continued after my family and I returned home. I cried while kneeling bed-side with my children for their evening prayers and once again they began to question my tears and attempt to comfort me. How could I explain the unexplainable? I had told them all their lives that God loves them and will never leave them. How could I tell them that He had left me?

By the next morning, I was feeling better, not quite so desolate, and gradually I began to feel the presence of God in my life once again. I know that God uses all things for good for those who love Him and this short-lived experience of darkness was enough to change my life significantly. Since that night, I began to attend daily Mass even though, at first, I questioned God all the way there and all the way home. “Why do you want me there? Right now I'd rather be anywhere but church!” I told Him. Yet everyday I'd get up, get dressed and drive to church regardless of whether or not I felt like being there. Sometimes I would cry all the way to Mass, cry the entire time I was there, and then cry all the way home. I wondered if there would ever be an end to my tears. Still, something made me go day after day. It’s as if God was drawing me through the pain to a deeper love for Him, one that didn’t rely on consolations and joy, but instead, thrived even in the nothingness and the pain.

That experience of the absence of God also brought me to spiritual direction in a desire to try to understand God and how he works in my life. It is such a relief to know that each month I can sit and talk one on one with someone who has also been in that dark place and has found a way through it to the knowledge that we remain forever in God's presence whether it is felt or not. It is a huge help to know that I am not alone on my journey to holiness, that others have been where I am, and that I will always continue to grow in my faith.

I know I’ve got a long way to go spiritually, but daily Mass, spiritual direction and spiritual reading have led me to understand that the words of that priest so long ago are very true: even when I can’t feel God, He is always there.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Angel of Death

While sitting on the rock by the beach,
feeling the cold November air chill
me to the bones,
I noticed The Angel of Death
pass over in a low,
gray, cirrus cloud.

Ripples immediately moved across the lake,
and the crow was silenced.

I waited for the Angel
to take my soul
and leave my limp, lifeless body
on the rock.
But, he continued on his way
and left me in my silent
peaceful reverie of Autumn.

(see Carry on Tuesday prompt
"In the arms of an angel"
for even more angels!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Oh life, I cling to you!
Though your days grow long
and the shadows linger
I hate to say good-bye.

I want to hold your hand and
feel the wrinkles in your skin.
I want to gaze into your
clouded eyes
and recall the spark
that once existed there.

My heart aches
for the feeling of love
that once flourished
inside of me
because of you.
My body aches
for the feeling of
your once strong arms
that held me so tenderly.

I am left
without you.

May the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace. Amen.

Litany of Saints

My friend Judy and I go way back, 23 years to be exact. Our lives are so busy that we rarely get to see each other anymore. Judy is much better than I am at maintaining contact. She calls or emails to make arrangements to get together. After much scrambling back and forth with our filled-to-the-brim calendars, we finally settle on a date. We are usually only able to match our calendars for one night out each year. In spite of the infrequency of our time together, when we do reunite, it is like we just saw each other yesterday. I love Judy. I always have and I always will.

She really is a much better friend to me than I am to her. It's Judy who always comes to my house to pick me up when we go out for dinner and drinks. As I get ready to go out, my kids all ask "Who's Judy, again? Which one of your friends is she?" As if I have so many friends they just can't keep track of them all!

So, when Judy arrives, I round up the family from their activities and re-introduce them to her. As soon as they see her, instant recognition lights up their adorable faces! "Oh, Judy!" they say, "how could we ever forget you!" Judy laughs and says picking me up for our annual night out is like taking someone on their first date. Before we can leave, she has to meet the whole family to make sure they approve!

It makes me think of some of my other friends who I don't make contact with very often, my friends the saints. Sure, I have my favorites like St. Gianna Molla, St. Francis de Sales, St. Jane de Chantal, St. Mary Magdalene and St. Joseph. It's easy for me to have frequent prayerful conversations with these saints that I identify with so easily. But what about those saints that I hardly know or easily forget about? How can I keep in touch with the many, many holy souls in heaven that I've contacted on occasion, but fail to remember on a daily basis? That's where the litany of saints comes in. How I love the Feast of All Saints Day when we try to remember them all. It's like my annual night out with Judy, a chance to reconnect with some old friends.

Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to run through that list of names, maybe learn about someone we didn't know, possibly make a new heavenly friend. I love the Litany of Saints and the chance to roll my tongue across some of their exotic sounding names and ponder how it is that they served the Lord so as to earn the title of Saint. I pray that those Godly examples of Sainthood, will ponder my name as well, and keep me in their own prayers, so that one day, my name will be sung out with theirs in that glorious Litany of Saints.

Holy Mary, Holy Mother of God, Holy Virgin of virgins, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, All you holy Angels and Archangels, All you holy orders of blessed Spirits, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, All you holy Patriarchs and Prophets, St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Andrew, St. James, St. John, St. Thomas, St. James, St. Philip, St. Bartholomew, St. Matthew, St. Simon, St. Thaddeus, St. Matthias, St. Barnabas, St. Luke, St. Mark, All you holy Apostles and Evangelists, All you holy Disciples of the Lord, All you holy Innocents, St. Stephen, St. Lawrence, St. Vincent, Sts. Fabian and Sebastian, Sts. John and Paul, Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Sts. Gervase and Protase, All you holy Martyrs, St. Sylvester, St. Gregory, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Martin, St. Nicholas, All you holy Bishops and Confessors, All you holy Doctors, St. Anthony, St. Benedict, St. Bernard, St. Dominic, St. Francis, All you holy Priests and Levites, All you holy Monks and Hermits, St. Mary Magdalen, St. Agatha, St. Lucy, St. Agnes, St. Cecilia, St. Catherine, St. Anastasia, All you holy Virgins and Widows, All you Holy Men and Women, Saints of God, make intercession for us.

(originally posted 6/09)