Tuesday, November 30, 2010

St. Andrew's Christmas Novena

I'm usually a pretty big Scrooge this time of year. Maybe it's from hearing Christmas music blaring on the radio for an entire month already. Honestly, if I hear "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" one more time, I just may throw something at the radio! Or, maybe it's all the stress of decorating, baking, shopping and trying to stay within a budget (I never succeed!) But this year, for some unknown reason, I am feeling a bit more joyous. Maybe it's because I'm not pressuring myself to shop, bake cookies or decorate until it gets closer to Christmas. Maybe it's because I'm not forcing myself to send out Christmas cards. Could it possibly be because I have decided to make this Advent more prayerful, more quiet, more penitential?

I'm not sure, because although I had decided that this year I would forgo drinks and treats until Christmas, here I am eating a piece of my boss' store-bought birthday cake, while I salivate over the thought of how delicious my own homemade Walnut Mocha birthday cake, lovingly prepared by my husband on the 45th anniversary of my birth, will taste tomorrow. It's not even two days in to Advent and I have already caved to temptation with the anticipation of even more caving to come shortly. Sigh... But, I am not going to beat myself up about it. I am going to get back up on my donkey and continue the Advent ride, working to make my heart not just an empty space where Christ can be born, but a warm and inviting place where he will eagerly long to reside even more than I look forward to my birthday cake.

Although this glutton may frequently fail in her attempts to fast and abstain from goodies, I have the holy St. Andrew to thank for my success in making the season more prayerful. The reason I thank St. Andrew is because today, on his feast day, I begin the annual St. Andrew's Christmas Novena. It's one of my favorite prayerful traditions that goes back to my childhood days when my family and I would pray it after our evening rosary, from November 30th until Christmas Eve. The lovely words of the prayer make it so easy to conjure up an image in my mind of that cold and fearful night when our Lord was born.

Although it is promised that by repeating the prayer fifteen times each day, the one praying will obtain their request, I can only remember one time in my life that my intention was quickly and positively heard and answered, but what a glorious answer that was! It was back in 1990 when Operation Desert Storm had just been declared on November 29th. That year, I prayed for peace and a quick end to the conflict in which the United States had become involved. How thrilled I was that it was all over by February 27th, 1991, when President Bush called an end to the war! But I am sure that in many small and unknown ways, my St. Andrew's Novenas have been heard and relished by the Lord, whether or not I was aware of any answer.

Thank you, St. Andrew, for helping me to keep a spirit of Advent every year, even if it is only for the short time that it takes me to pray your novena!

St. Andrew's Christmas Novena

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of our Savior, Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Spiritual Christmas Crib

My family and I build a spiritual Christmas Crib each Advent. We begin our days by individually reading the plan for the day and then do our best to live it. At dinner time, after we light the Advent Wreath, we review the day's plan and share a discussion about how successful we were in our attempts to build part of Jesus' crib.


The following directions show you how to build a
spiritual crib in your heart for Christ.
Use it to put Christ into your Christmas in a real,
living way.

Start on December 1. Read the thought indicated
about Christ's first crib.
Practice it during the day. Do this daily during
December and make your heart a worthy crib for
Christ on Christmas Day.

Frequently during the day offer your heart to the
little Infant Jesus. Ask Him to make it His home. -
Sweet Jesus, take my heart and make it meek and

See that the roof of the stable is in good
condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected
from rain and snow. This you will do by carefully
avoiding every uncharitable remark. --Jesus,
teach me to love my neighbor as myself.

Carefully stop every crevice in the walls of the
stable, so that the wind and cold may not enter
there. Guard your senses against temptations. Guard
especially your ears against sinful
conversations.--Jesus, help me to keep
temptations out of my heart.

Clean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib.
Diligently remove from your heart every
inordinate desire of being praised. Renew this
intention at least three times today. --My Jesus,
I want to please You in all I do today.

Build a fence about the crib of your heart by
keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially
at prayer. --Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.

Fix the best and warmest corner of your heart
for the manger of Jesus. You will do so by
abstaining from what you like most in the line of
comfort and amusement. --Mary, use these
sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in
Holy Communion.

Supply the manger of your heart with hay, by
overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy.
Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest

Provide your manger with soft straw by
performing little acts of mortification; for
instance, bear the cold without complaints; or sit
and stand erect. --Dear Jesus, Who suffered so
much for me, let me suffer for love of You.

Prepare these for the Divine Infant by folding
your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and
thoughtfully. --Jesus let me love you more and

Provide the manger with soft warm
blankets. Avoid harsh and angry words; be kind and
gentle to all. --Jesus, help me to be meek and
humble like You.

Bring fuel to the crib of Jesus. Give up your own
will; obey your superiors cheerfully and
promptly. --Jesus, let me do Your will in all

Bring fresh clean water to the crib. Avoid every
untruthful word and every deceitful act.
--Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for
my sins.

Bring a supply of food to the crib. Deprive
yourself of some food at mealtime or candy as a
treat. --Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.

See that the crib has sufficient light. Be
neat and orderly about your person; keep
everything in its place in your room. --Jesus, be
the life and light of my soul.

Take care to have the crib of your heart warmed
by a cozy fire. Be grateful to God for the love He
has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful
respect towards your parents and relatives. --
Jesus, how can I return Your love; how can I show
my gratitude to You?

Lead the ox to the crib. Obey cheerfully without
making excuses and without asking "why." --I will
obey for love of You, Jesus.

Bring the donkey to the crib. Offer to the Divine
Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service
of others. --Jesus, accept my service of love;
I offer it for those who do not love You.

Gather some presents for the Divine Infant and
His Blessed Mother. Give alms for the poor and say
an extra decade of the rosary. --Come, Jesus, to
accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.

Strive to bring some little lambs, meek and
and patient. Do not murmer or complain.
--Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make
my heart like Yours.

Invite the shepherds to pay homage to our newborn
King. Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your
speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is
important because Jesus will be born again in
Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.

Provide the stable with a key to keep out
thieves. Exclude from your heart every sinful
thought, every rash judgment --Dear Jesus, close
my heart to all that hurts you.

Invite the angels to adore God with you.
Cheerfully obey the inspirations of
your guardian angel and of your conscience. --
Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that You
are with me always.

Accompany Saint Joseph from door to door. Learn
from him silently and patiently to bear refusals
and disappointments. Open wide your heart and beg
Him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
--Saint Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy
Christmas Communion.

Go meet your Blessed Mother. Lead her to the
manger of your heart and beg her to lay the
Divine Infant in it. Shorten your chats and
telephone conversations and spend more time today
thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.
--Come, dear Jesus, Come; my heart belongs to You.

"Devotions in Preparation for the Coming of the
Christchild, and at the Crib, from Christmas to

by Rev. Frederic Nelson, published by Marian
House, Powers Lake, ND 58773

I Wish We'd All Been Ready

I love this song by DC Talk. Every time I hear today's Gospel reading from Matthew 24:37-44, this song runs through my mind.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vigil for all Nascent Human Life

What a blessing it was to honor the request of Pope Benedict XVI by joining in a worldwide vigil of prayer for all nascent human life! In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee the gorgeous St. Anthony Parish had graciously hosted the Evening Prayer, Rosary and Benediction with Archbishop Listecki. I was so pleased to see that the large church was packed with those who wished to join their voices with their brothers and sisters in Christ in one united prayer for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

In Archbishop Listecki's homily, the following words resounded in my heart and I will forever remember them. He asked: "Why do we do this? We are people of love. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us and we share that love with our unborn brothers and sisters."

He closed the service with these words: "Our Lord Jesus Christ has won the victory, and now we must engage the battle!" How strange it seems that the victory is already won, yet we continue to fight. Yet, how right it is! For until everyone accepts the victory of Christ, until everyone defends the innocent lives just waiting to born like Christ waited to be born from the womb of the Virgin after her resounding "yes!" we must continue the efforts without tiring, to bring the justice of life to those sweet beginnings of new life. What better time to unite our efforts for those who wait to be born from the wombs of their mothers than during this season of Advent while we wait for Christ to be born once again in the hearts of all the world.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stay, Just a Little Bit Longer

"Oh won’t you stay just a little bit longer
Please, please, please say you will
Say you will

Oh won’t you stay just a little bit longer
Oh please, please stay just a little bit more"

~Jackson Browne~Stay~

It's no secret that I have a great admiration for priests; those good and holy men who sacrifice so much to raise their spiritual children in the faith and inspire them to dedicate their souls to the love of God and His church. It takes a very, very special person to give their all, to work tirelessly and endlessly with very little earthly reward, just to answer God's persistent call to the the service of the Church as a priest.

I want to do all I can to support our good and holy priests as well as those who struggle and suffer through their vocation. Last summer, I found out about a wonderful lay apostolate called the "Monthly Prayer Request for Priests." Seeing that there was no such apostolate offered in Milwaukee, I just knew that God was calling me to begin this effort to support the priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee with the heartfelt prayers of the laity who rely so heavily on our priests to bring us the sacraments, to support us in our failures and sufferings, to encourage us to remain faithful and to be with us in the most important sacramental moments of our lives, but, most of all to bring Christ to us in the Eucharist and to be Christ for us in the sacrifice of their lives.

So, last August, after much research and prayer, the Monthly Prayer Request for Priests was established in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee with the support of the Archdiocesan Vocations Office at the Seminary of St. Francis de Sales. I am so pleased that the Lord has seen fit to use me in this way and am honored and humbled to give my all to this apostolate.

And perhaps it's because I feel so strongly about this work, that the news of priests who leave their vocation seems to hit me like a punch in the stomach. In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, we have recently lost two very good and fairly new (less than five years as priests) men who have decided with very little forewarning to the parishes they served, that they needed to take a leave to discern their future. Although it's not the worst thing in the world, especially compared to the horrendous distress caused by abusive priests, something in me just feels so hurt by a priest who decides he can't continue in his vocation. I guess I could best describe it as how a child of divorced parents would feel. This vow to the priesthood was supposed to last forever. What could have happened that would pull a priest away from this life-long commitment to the church? I can't help but wonder what the church or the parish might have done to keep the priest in his vocation for a little while longer. What could we as a church have done differently that might have kept these priests from leaving? And do you suppose that if they had just stayed for just a little bit longer, they might have decided to stay forever?

As the mother of a teen discerning a call to the priesthood, I can't help but worry. Am I wrong to encourage my son to a vocation to the priesthood? Will he also want to leave after a short time? Is it normal for a diocese to lose a few priests each year? Are there any statistics kept on this, I wonder? And why is it that this shakes my faith so much? I suppose that most of these questions don't have any easy answers and maybe they don't have any answers at all. All I can do for my part is to continue to blindly follow the Lord, to obediently live my faith and to continue to pray and to encourage others to pray for those who have left the priesthood, for those who are considering leaving and especially for those who continue to press on regardless of the difficulties they suffer in their priesthood.

Prayer for Priests by Fr William Doyle, SJ

O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.

The words they say every day at the altar, "This is my Body, this is my Blood," grant them to apply to themselves: "I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another."

O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.

Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


There's so much to be thankful for and it makes me glad for this time of year when we pause from our busy lives long enough to acknowledge how grateful we are to our Lord who makes everything possible; to whom we can never do enough to show our gratitude.

Every year at this time, the WIC Clinic where I work participates in a local family-to-family Thanksgiving dinner give-away. An area non-profit agency purchases turkey dinners for needy families through their donations set aside for this purpose. Then they send letters out to other agencies whose purpose is to serve the down and out, asking them to help distribute the dinners. Each year, our WIC Clinic receives 25 turkey dinners which we raffle off to our clients.

As I am the only employee at our clinic who drives a "family-size" car, it becomes my job to go pick up the dinners. The process is extremely efficient! The agencies are to arrive with their letters at 10:00 AM. A long line of cars, trucks and vans pulls into the agency driveway and as each car arrives at the donation station, a group of volunteers opens all of the car doors and loads the car up with the necessary number of turkey dinners. After my van is loaded up with the 25 dinners, I drive back to work where a co-worker meets me at the loading dock and we unload the groceries from my van onto carts and we haul the food up to our Clinic. Twenty five families have already been called and told that they have won turkey dinners, so by 1:00 in the afternoon, they begin to arrive at the clinic to gather up their Thanksgiving food packages. It's a joy to participate in this annual give-away!

So, with that, I would like to make a list of some of the many things for which I am very grateful to God and I will begin it with my gratitude for my Catholic faith, my job, my family and friends, plenty of food, and a warm and cozy house to live in.

To those basic thanks, I add some recent specifics...

Mary was doing homework at the kitchen table while I cooked dinner and out of the blue she asked me how long it has been since we've gone to confession, and then added that she hopes we go real soon, she's got lots she wants to get off her chest. I am always happy to oblige with a visit to a nearby church where we can celebrate the sacrament, and I am grateful for a daughter who is aware of her need for God's forgiveness.

On a lazy Saturday morning I awoke from a crazy, silly dream and realized that I woke up because I was laughing so loud. I looked over to my husband and saw him smiling too, wondering what on earth could be so funny, and then I burst out laughing again. What a wonderful way to start the day!

I love Sundays! I love to rise early and attend the first Mass of the day with my family. When we come home, I love to exchange my dress clothes for something comfy and spend a relaxing day at home. I enjoy cooking a big Sunday dinner that fills the house with warmth and delicious smells as everyone anxiously awaits mealtime.

I recently had the joy of picking John up from a weekend away visiting the college Seminary and he talked non-stop on the half hour drive home about all of the wonderful things he experienced and how much he enjoyed his time there. It was wonderful to hear him say that he could easily see himself attending college at the Seminary!

I love being able to share my thoughts and prayers on this blog and to know that there are others who share those same thoughts and prayers. This big world really isn't so big, is it?

I am grateful for many opportunities to kneel in prayer, pouring out my heart until it is empty, ready and waiting for God to fill it with His love and the knowledge of His will for me.

For all of these blessings, and for so much more, I thank you, Lord!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Abandoned Boat

The only audible sound was that of the waves quietly lapping over the rocks. A cold, damp November wind blew around me causing me to pull my coat collar tightly around my neck. I kept my head bent to the ground, looking for glints of sea glass on the sandy shore. As I followed the shoreline around the bend, I saw the boat anchored not too far from land. That boat, anchored in the same spot all summer long and now heading into winter, had captured my attention time and again. I wondered who it might belong to and why had they left it there. Did someone live on the boat and row to shore each day for work? Were they cold and lonely living out there? Could I live like that? Those were my usual thoughts, but today, something seemed different. Maybe it was because I approached the boat from the north, the opposite of my normal routine, but now, I could clearly understand the story of the boat.

It had belonged to Peter. Day after day he worked the lake, catching those mighty fish that jumped through the surface with reckless abandon. How he envied the fish, wishing he could somehow escape his dull and dreary life on the water, but nothing else had captured his heart and held it like the water did. He knew that he was meant to spend his days and nights on this cold and endless lake, thoughts drifting across the horizon without ever showing any signs of change in the future, that is, until that fateful day when he saw the Lord approaching, slowly walking across the misty water. He rubbed his sleepy eyes, unsure if this was a vision, or perhaps, a dream.

Now Jesus reached his arms out to Peter, calling him to come close. Filled with fear, Peter called out, "Depart from me, Lord! I am a sinful man!" But Jesus came even closer, close enough so that Peter could hear him reply, "Peter, your sin can't keep me away from you. I love you with your sin, and I want to help you to leave it behind."

And Peter took courage from those words, he pulled his coat tightly around his shoulders, and stepped out of the boat, towards the Lord. At first he faltered, unable to believe that he could really do this, really walk across the lake. He looked down, only for a moment, but that was all it took to shake his faith and he began to sink. "Eyes on me!" Jesus called out. "Keep looking to me, Peter, I am all you need for strength, to stay above the waves of doubt," and he reached out his hand to pull Peter to the surface once again.

Peter would never again return to the boat that had been his abode and his life-source. With his eyes forever looking to the Lord, his horizon became wider than ever before, filled with love, joy and peace that could not be found in his solitude on the water; that could only be found in the companionship of Jesus. And the boat remains anchored to that very spot where Peter left it, forever a symbol of our need to leave our past behind in favor of new life in Christ.

I continued my walk, uplifted by the knowledge that God would always find a way to remind me that I, too, like Peter, am called to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as I step out of my own boat of seclusion and sinfulness and journey to the freedom that only He can provide.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jack and Mary

Screams of delight
come from the kitchen.
Jack and Mary are building domino towers
and laugh as they tumble.
Their laughter
is contagious and beautiful!

They are the best of friends
doing nearly everything

And while they may play
together one minute,
they just as easily
will begin to argue
like an old married couple
the next.

A quick hug
and they are right back
to playing again.

Thank you, Lord,
for Jack and Mary
and their witness
to Your love through
their joy and forgiveness.


While relaxing at the beach on our camping vacation, Jack and Mary found a way to crack large rocks open to see how they glitter inside. Mary brought a rock to me and shared a memory from first grade, "Sister Rita said that even the most plain rocks like this one are beautiful inside. She was right!"

So, Mary and I compared rocks to people and we decided that even the most plain people are beautiful inside as well, because God is there.

Thank you, God, for this lesson on Your Holy Presence in our lives in the midst of our family vacation. And thank you for Sister Rita, who continues to teach us even when we aren't with her!

(photo taken 9/2010 at Devil's Lake State Park)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Than Just Old Bones!

My parish has a quarterly newsletter for which I write (you're surprised about that, right?) We have been running a Catholic Trivia Series and this is my latest installment. Do you like the title? I thought it was fitting for this blog, and for me because very soon I will be celebrating my 45th birthday and although my bones do audibly creak from time to time, I hope that I won't be looked at as just some old bones from now on!

When someone that we love moves away or dies, we long to keep a personal memento of that loved one so that we can look upon it with fond memories and it will become a reminder to pray for that person, and perhaps, to ask that person to pray for us. It’s no different in the Church. When someone who has lived a good and holy life has been elevated to the status of sainthood, we like to have those visual reminders that personal mementos provide to let us know that our beloved saint always remains with us in spirit. This is how relics can come to be a source of support in remembering the saints and in helping us to grow in holiness by turning to them in prayer.

A relic is often a piece of bone, but can also be a piece of clothing or other personal item, that had belonged to a saint and has been preserved and stored in a reliquary, or container specifically meant for holding relics, so that the faithful can venerate or honor that saint as a means to draw us into adoration of God, for whom the saintly person lived their life. The word relic is based on the Latin term “reliquiae” which means “remains.”

The practice of venerating relics is carried out in many world religions including Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity. The Christian practice of venerating relics dates back to the Old Testament book of Kings: “So Elisha died and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet.” (2 Kings 13:20-21)

Another very moving example of the use of relics comes from the New Testament where a woman was cured of her hemorrhage just by touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak. She didn’t need to touch the body of Jesus or even to speak to him, but by simply reaching out to the fabric of his clothing in faith, a healing miracle occurred.

Now, today, we can’t really claim that the veneration of the relics of saints will bring about miracles, but it can draw us deeper into the mystery of God and the lives of His saints by spending some time praying over relics and reflecting on the lives of the people that they represent.

Perhaps the first saint whose relics were venerated after the time of Christ was St. Polycarp. According to Catholic Answers, the early Christians who were with him when he was burned at the stake saw to it that his remains were well cared for and they recorded the event with these words: “We took up his bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom.”

There are several different classes of relics. A first class relic is a part of the Saint’s physical body such as a piece of bone or hair and also the instruments of Christ’s passion such as a sliver of wood from the cross. A second-class relic is something owned by the Saint or instruments of torture used against a martyr. A third class relic is something that was touched to a first or second-class relic. It is possible to make a third class relic by touching a first or second-class relic, including the tomb of a Saint, with an object, for example, a rosary or a holy card. When relics are placed inside of churches, they are kept in one of two places: in a space inside of an altar or in a reliquary, a container specifically meant for the storage and veneration of relics.

In some cases, the body of a saint is found to be incorruptible, or without decay, when it is exhumed. In these cases, rather than separating the pieces of bones and sharing them throughout the world, the remains of the body are usually kept whole, possibly covered with wax or silicone for protection and aesthetics. There are many famous saints whose bodies are venerated as incorruptible relics such as St. Catherine Laboure from whom we received the Miraculous Medal of Mary, St. John Vianney, the patron saint of all priests, and St. Bernadette Soubirous who was the visionary at Lourdes, France.

Here in the United States there are only ten saints whose entire bodies are available for veneration. One of these can be found in Galesburg, Illinois. Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ, the National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer based in Milwaukee, recently paid a visit to Corpus Christi Church in Galesburg, and shares the fascinating story of St. Crescent on his blog, Offer It Up:

Around 1838 the body of a nine or ten year old boy was discovered during excavations of the catacombs of St. Cyriacus in Rome. He suffered martyrdom at that young age around the end of the third century in the persecution of the emperor Diocletian, one of the fiercest persecutions of the early Church. His name "Cresces" (anglicized to "Crescent") was on the marble slab that covered the tomb and next to the body was an urn in which had been placed the blood of the martyr now dried.

The body of St. Crescent was removed and the Holy Father gave it to Blessed Antonio Rosmini, founder of the Institute of Charity or Rosminians. Father Rosmini had the relic taken to Stresa, Italy, where it was placed under the altar of his chapel. In 1887, Rosminian Father Joseph Costa asked his superiors if he could have the relic for the church he had just built in Galesburg, Illinois. His superiors agreed.

St. Crescent's body was enclosed in a case of thin glass and Fr. Costa worried that it wouldn't make the long trip to the U.S. without being damaged. He expressed his concern to his superiors, one of whom told him: "St. Crescent will take care of himself, and you too!" And so it happened. The relic survived intact on the railroad trips through Italy, France, England, and from New York to Galesburg, but what was more remarkable was his ocean passage. Fr. Costa planned on crossing the Atlantic on a ship called "Alesia." Either because he suddenly changed his mind or because he missed the departure time, Fr. Costa and St. Cresent missed the boat. But the "Alesia" never completed the voyage; it mysteriously disappeared. Fr. Costa along with St. Crescent, having boarded a different ship, arrived safely.

You can see the body of St. Crescent in a glass case on the right side of Corpus Christi church. The bones are covered with wax except for two wounds through which you can see an arm bone and the skull. You can also see the teeth of the martyr through his partially opened mouth.”

Pictured: St. Crescent

Saturday, November 6, 2010


"My soul is weary with sorrow: strengthen me according to your word." Psalm 119:28

He's seen her tears and heard her sobs. He watched her lay in bed, unable to get up. He saw her close the door on the world, wanting to hide inside of herself, but forcing her way through each day anyway. And he held her. Everyday. He held her until the pain went away, until she could breathe again, live again. But he never forgot. He couldn't forget what it was like to watch his vibrant wife wither away, barely able to care for the children, completely unable to care for herself.

Summer came and the energy came back and her lungs breathed deeply taking in the fresh air of newly cut grass and fragrant flowers. The sun shone brightly waking her up to joy. But he didn't forget. He watched her closely, her every move, for any sign of that dark mood that easily overtakes her spirit.

Autumn came, and he knew. He knew that her spirits would become as fragile as the leaves that shriveled on the trees and blew to the ground at the first strong wind. So he watched closely; he watched for the signs of despair. When he saw a book on the kitchen counter with the word "sadness" in the title, he immediately confronted her, asking her why she was reading that book, thinking that she was dwelling on despair, clinging to sadness, unaware that it was a fictional story that had nothing to do with her emotions. Relief filled his eyes with her explanation.

But she knows. She knows that wherever the seasons may take her, whether it's to the heights of joy or the depths of despair, he will always look out for her, always love her and always hold her until she can stand on her own once again. He is her stronghold sent from God and entwined through marriage, to care for her and to carry her when she becomes too weak to stand on her own.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


a re-post from All Soul's Day 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.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Care for Creation" Book Tour

Christy Baldwin has written a practical children's book with tons of ideas for "living green" and it is written in such a way so that it doesn't talk down to children, but rather, expects children to live up to high standards in caring for the earth with which God has blessed us. Each suggestion is complemented by a Scripture verse that shows how God has always meant for humans to love the earth and to be stewards of this marvelous gift that he has given to us. The artwork by Shelly Draven colorfully enhances the written words and helps the reader to visualize the points made on each page.

My thanks to Nicole at Tribute Books for allowing me this opportunity to review "Care for Creation."