Tuesday, May 31, 2011


He stands there on the busy downtown street corner directly in front of the Gothic church. He's always crowned with a cowboy hat. In the winter wind I quickly pass by with my head down and my face buried in my scarf. He calls out asking for money.
I reach deep into my coat pocket and pull out my rosary beads. "This is all I have" I say. "That's all you need" he replies with a smile.

Every day he stands there on the busy downtown street corner directly in front of the Gothic church always crowned with a cowboy hat. He smiles and says hello as I quickly pass by on my lunchtime walk. And others too, rush past, always in a hurry, but he just stands there greeting everyone, putting a smile into the lives of those who come his way.

Into the warm summer months he remains there, smiling and greeting passersby. I quickly run to catch the walk sign before it changes so I won't have to stand on the corner waiting. He calls hello and I mumble a quick greeting in reply. The light changes and as I walk away I hear "Pray for me?"

Did he remember that I am the one with the rosary in my pocket? I stop and turn in the middle of the intersection,smile, and say "I will!"

God of the lost and the lonely, those forsaken on the sidewalks of life, be with all who are eager to share a smile but have little else to give. Just as a cowboy hat offers shelter from the sun, shelter their hearts from fear, anxiety and hatred. Give to them whatever it is they most need at the moment whether it be a hot lunch, bus fare, or peace in their hearts. God of the lost and the lonely, thank you those who share smiles and friendly greetings and who ask for our prayers, for through them we are all a little less lost and lonely ourselves. Amen.

Through His Hands

"I have carved you on the palm of my hand." Isaiah 49:16

During the Sacrament of Marriage, a ring is exchanged between bride and groom. It is significant that the wedding ring is always placed on the third finger of the left hand as it is believed that the vein in this finger leads directly to the heart.

Taking that image of a wedding ring, compare it to the hands of Christ nailed to the cross. Those wounds are so deep that even after His resurrection they remain eternally in His hands. Consider that each one of us is the bride of Christ and His wounds are the ring that signifies His eternal love for us; the wounds that lead directly to His Most Sacred Heart. It is here that He holds us; inside the wound in the palm of His hand where we will forever remain bound to His Heart. We are never to be forsaken, but forever to be loved.

You are carved into those wounded hands of love, carved with a nail piercing the flesh, and drawn deeply into His Heart where His love will forever flow for you alone, His most beloved bride.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Friendship That Will Never Die

"What is there to life but this close, most intimate friendship with Jesus Christ whom I shall possess for all eternity. All other human loves flicker and go out along the human highway of life, but His love will endure forever. Every tombstone tells us the same story as cemetery dust waves requiem over the purest, most noble friendships here on earth. Only His love remains beneath the passing shadows."
~Sparks from His Heart, Fr. Frank Parrish, SJ

The Feast of the Visitation is a perfect image of the celebration of friendship. Here two great and holy women have incredible and amazing news to share. Mary and Elizabeth rush to each others' sides and their human love for one another escapes from their hearts and becomes a united prayer of love and gratitude to God. They recognize that the holiness, the goodness, and the joy of their friendship comes from God alone and that without His love, the miracle of the beginnings of new life welling up within their bodies could not occur.

Together, Mary and Elizabeth spend time talking, working, and praying. The physical presence of the other brings great comfort to these women who are both on the verge of a tremendous life change, something beyond their wildest imaginings. Life seems inexplicably beautiful.

At the same time, they know that this moment of close bonding will end and the time will come for them to part. Soon, Mary will have to return to her own home and they will have to carry on with their life's work and bring the great miracle of new life to fruition without the help of their close friend by their side. Yet deep inside, hidden deep within their wombs, buried inside of their hearts, lives a love greater than any human friendship; the friendship of God in the person of Jesus-physically within Mary and spiritually within Elizabeth.

We, too, have a share in this friendship, a deep and eternal bond with Jesus Christ. Our human friendships, lovely though they may be, are truly only temporary and one day with the passing from this life, those friendships will physically end. But, through Jesus, the holy unifier, we can carry our love for others into eternity. Each time we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we can take our friends both living and deceased to the altar with us through the love in our hearts, and because of our friendship with Jesus, we can be mystically united with all of our friends, whether or not they are physically present to us.

Just as the infant leapt within the swollen womb of Elizabeth at the greeting of Mary with the knowledge that she carried the Messiah and Savior of all within her very body, our souls too, leap with joy for the great love of our Blessed Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, who loves us beyond human friendship both now and for all eternity. How blessed we are to have a spiritual friendship with Jesus that becomes physical every time we attend Mass and receive His Body and Blood into our very flesh.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Three-fold Answer: Joy, Hope and Love by Bishop-elect Donald J. Hying

A reflection on the readings for Sunday, May 29th, 2011: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17, Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20, 1 Pt 3:15-18, Jn 14:15-21

What great secret explains the amazing growth of the early Church against very daunting odds? Why did this new way of life spread so widely and rapidly, despite persecution, hardship and minimal resources? How did the first Christians back up their proclamation of Jesus as Lord with a transformed life of authenticity? A three-fold answer appears in this Sunday’s Scriptures: joy, hope and love.

The first reading speaks of the great joy in Samaria as the people experience the healing power of Christ, mediated through the ministry of Philip. The author seems to use the word “joy” on purpose here as the lingering effect of an encounter with the Lord. Pleasure can satisfy our senses for awhile; happiness radiates an existential fulfillment in embracing the purpose of life. Joy pulls us beyond this world into the realm of the Holy Spirit. When we know the unconditional love of God to the depth of our being, when we encounter the gracious mercy of Jesus in the aftermath of serious sin, when the Lord is so real in the sacraments that we are surprised, we know joy. To pursue joy as an end in itself is ultimately fruitless because the focus is still on self-fulfillment. Joy seems to come, rather, as the by-product of a life offered up and given away in radical imitation of Christ’s oblation of self in the Paschal Mystery.

In the second reading, Peter exhorts his listeners to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” Apparently, then as now, hope can perplex, challenge and disturb. In the face of harsh suffering, unrelenting illness or a sudden death, a superficial optimism quickly crumbles. Hope is made of sturdier stuff because its very foundation is the power and love of the Lord breaking into the swirl of human events. When life forces us to face the mystery of evil or the weight of human weakness, hope can seem foolish, na├»ve or even insensitive in the midst of so much darkness and pain. But, hope is all the Church has ever had. We dare to believe our faith to be true, Jesus’ promises to be real and the kingdom of heaven our final home. No one can prove any of these things, but hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ allows a Christian to look death in the face and sing, because God will win out in the end.

The Gospel of John this Sunday speaks of love as an “abiding,” the Son in the Father, we believers in the Son and the Son in us. In love, we come to share in the very life of God who has taken up his dwelling in the depths of our being. Thus, the Christian religion is first and foremost a love relationship, not a moral code or a belief system. How we act and what we believe flow from who we have become in this new divine life.

In his treatise on the Trinity, St. Hilary explains this divine indwelling. “Jesus is in the Father by reason of his divine nature, we are in him by reason of his human birth, and he is in us through the mystery of the sacraments.” When we rest in this Trinitarian Life, who is both within us and beyond us, we understand the true nature of Love, the Love that empties itself out for our conversion and salvation.

With the vivid memories of Jesus’ earthly ministry in their minds, the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection in their hearts and the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the apostles went forth with a fresh boldness to evangelize the world. So convicted were they of the transforming nature of the Gospel message that they literally dedicated the rest of their lives to proclaiming Jesus to everyone they encountered. The truth of their words was confirmed by the joy, hope and love that radiated from their communal life and their individual witness.

We may be tempted to think that things are different now, that the Church is 2000 years old and burdened with the weight of history, no longer fresh and new. But what are two millennia in the eyes of God? Wasn’t it just last week that Mary Magdalene ran down the path to breathlessly tell the astonished apostles that the tomb was empty? Wasn’t it just the day before yesterday that the apostles burst forth from the Upper Room on Pentecost Day to speak of a world suddenly redeemed and different? Recently a colleague was commenting on the blessings and challenges of ministry in the Church today. She offered, “What is the point of doing any of this if we are not radiating joy, hope and love as we do it?” I could not agree more!

1. What robs you of joy and hope? How can you change that?
2. If we truly believe the Trinity dwells within us, what does that conviction demand of us?
3. Think of a person whose joy and hope has bettered your life. How can you pass on the gift?

(originally published in the May 26th, 2011 Milwaukee Catholic Herald)

Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Priest Gives Us Hope

"To the Priestly Heart of Christ I commend all, living and dead, who by their prayers and deeds have helped me to the Altar of God." Fr. Christopher L. Klusman

My family and I have been so blessed to have known Fr. Christopher Klusman for the past six years since he first began his journey at the Seminary of St. Francis de Sales. We met Christopher, a fellow member at our parish, St. Matthias, when Paul and I were teaching Sunday Morning Christian Formation classes. Christopher volunteered as a Catechist as well, teaching prayers and songs in sign language to the students. How I wish I could remember more of what he taught, but I do remember the signs for "alleluia" "Lord, hear our prayer" and "Jesus." The sign for Jesus is especially poignant-it is simply a touching of the palm of each hand where the nails pierced our Lord's skin. Sign language is such a beautiful and dramatic way of speaking and while watching Fr. Christopher sign his first Mass this past Sunday, I was deeply moved by the powerful actions spoken with his hands during the prayers of consecration.

I think that the most important lesson that I learned on this past Ordination weekend where five men were ordained to the diocesan priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was this: if you really want to know someone, you have to meet their mother. It's true for Jesus, isn't it? We come to know him more closely by first knowing and loving His mother. This weekend I had the great honor of meeting Elaine Klusman, Fr. Christopher's mother, and it was through that blessed meeting that I saw Fr. Christopher for who he really is; a shining reflection of this beautiful, humble and holy woman.

I arrived at the Cathedral very early for the Ordination Mass as I had learned in past years that without reserving your seat early, you would be standing for the entire 2 hour long Mass and the view of the most sacred occasion would be greatly obstructed. As I was waiting for my family to join me, she quietly entered the Cathedral. I was sitting across from the Deaf community and I could see some of the women who had gathered there pointing and mouthing, "That's his mother!" I reached out my hand to introduce myself and together with my two friends who were sitting behind me, we enjoyed a lovely conversation with Elaine Klusman. With tears in her eyes, she told us that she was beside herself with nerves and she was sure that she would still be crying throughout the month of June. Later, after my daughter had arrived at the Cathedral, we spotted Deacon Christopher and had a chance to say hello and to capture one of his precious hugs. He told us that as he was driving to the Cathedral with his mother they were both in tears. And truly, emotions are at an all-time high for everyone who receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders and for all of the friends and family gathered to celebrate the momentous occasion. There were many tears shed throughout the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist during the Mass of Ordination.

The following day after his Ordination, my family and I joyously attended Fr. Christopher's celebratory breakfast where he had invited 350 people to rejoice with him. For someone who is Deaf and uses his hands to communicate, I often wonder how Fr. Christopher can ever get a word in edgewise-his arms are always held out wide to embrace everyone he sees; he is forever offering his embrace as a safe and loving place for others to take refuge from the trials of life and to know his arms as a place of safety and love. As we arrived at the hall where the breakfast was held, we noticed that not one of the 350 people who arrived left the presence of Fr. Christopher without first being held in his warm and gentle embrace.

Fr. Christopher made an announcement about the gifts that he and his parents shared with each other. He said, "During the Ordination Mass, Archbishop Listecki anointed my hands with Chrism and then I wiped them on a towel. I want to give that towel to my mother. Also, last winter, Fr. Don Hying took all of the seminarians to the Holy Land. While I was there, I purchased some blessed oil and some holy water from the River Jordan. I'm going to use them to anoint my father who has been very ill." The significance of a new priest giving the towel, or purificator, with which he wipes the Chrism from his hands and gives it to his mother is deeply touching. This towel is kept by the mother of the priest and when she dies, she is buried with it in her hand as a reminder of the special honor that one of her sons is a priest, and tradition holds that she presents it to the Lord at her judgement, and with this tangible symbol in her hand, the Lord looks favorably upon her.

Fr. Christopher also shared the story of the gift that his parents gave to him. It seems that he had been shopping for an Advent Chasuble and was particularly drawn to one with a mother pelican feeding her child. The pelican is a symbol for Christ, since she feeds her children with her own flesh from close to her heart, just as Jesus feeds his children of faith with His very flesh and blood. When Fr. Christopher went to the store to purchase the chasuble, he was told that it had been sold and they were sorry but the store was now closed. At the time he had no idea that it was his own parents who had purchased that chasuble which he admired as a gift for him!

On the Monday before Ordination, I had paid a visit to the Seminary to spend some time with my friend, Fr. Don. As we returned from a walk, Deacon Christopher was in the seminary lobby visiting with the receptionist. He was talking about the vestments he had just purchased for his first Mass. The receptionist had a sneak peek as he walked past her with the vestments in a clear bag, but he told Fr. Don and I that we would have to wait until Sunday to see them; he wanted it to be a surprise. And on Sunday, for his first Mass, Fr. Christopher was absolutely radiant in his white vestments with a host and the symbol for the name of Christ, IHS, embroidered in gold on the front.

During his homily on behalf of his friend, Fr. Carmello Guiffre, who is also profoundly Deaf, spoke eloquently and brought tears to my eyes many times. He addressed Fr. Christopher's parents and told them: "As you watched your son enter the Cathedral and take his place beside you at the Ordination Mass, you suddenly realized what you had done. You bound your son to the cross." And he prayed: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for Elaine and Elmer and the family, for despite the difficulties in the priesthood, in the church and in the world today, their gift of their son Christopher is a sign of hope. A new priest gives us hope. We believe in hope."

This past weekend at the Ordination Mass, at the receptions of celebration and at the first Masses of the newly ordained, I couldn't help but beam with pride. I was proud for my parish, for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and for all of the priests who serve us, and especially for the five priests who had been ordained. But in a very special way, I was proud of Fr. Christopher and his family and the entire Deaf community. I will continue to beam with pride and love for Fr. Christopher Klusman, Fr. Kevin McManaman, Fr. Javier Guativa, Fr. Hugo Londono and Fr. Kevin Barnekow long into the future because of the wondrous gift of hope that a new priest brings to our world.

Otto the Barber

My friend Fr. Don is sporting a snazzy new hair cut and the story he tells is that he visited an old-fashioned barber shop in Indiana. It seems that the barber took a full thirty minutes to cut his hair using a razor and then only charged him $5.00. It's so uplifting to hear that places like this still exist in this day and age of hurry up and pay a lot. Fr. Don's story reminded me of a similar hair-cutting experience that my son John and I had a few years ago...

Otto the Barber

My mom's greatest wish in life was that one of her six daughters would become a beautician so that she would be guaranteed beautiful hairstyles for the rest of her life. Alas, it's rare that our hopes and dreams are achieved through our children and my mother did not receive her wish, although all six of us did our best at styling mom's hair. I have fond memories of giving her many permanent waves and spending Saturday nights rolling her hair into pin-curls with dippity-do and bobby pins.

I suppose all that practice was good preparation for motherhood, if not for a career in hair styling. From the time my boys were babies I cut their hair myself to save money on barber shop visits. I never did a very good job and when they were little, it was a dreaded ritual for my sons. When my oldest son was very small, I set up the high chair in the back yard and set to work trimming his bangs. As soon as I stepped away for a moment, John bolted out of the high chair and ran around the house to escape the hated haircut. George, our balding next door neighbor was outside watching and he laughed and called out to John, "Run, John! Run fast! You don't want to look like me, do you?"

As the children grew they began to accept their home-style haircuts, but every now and then, for a treat, I'd take them to get their hair professionally done.

It was early one summer and John was out of school before the rest of his siblings, so I took him for a visit to Otto the Barber of whom I'd heard good things. The plain brick building bore a simple sign that read "Haircuts." As we entered the shop, we saw an older man sitting in the chair, receiving the final expert snips to finish off his haircut. When he walked out the door, Otto turned to John and I. He was tall, slim and very handsome. His silver hair was neatly cut.

"I don't style hair," he said with a heavy German accent, "I only cut it." We assured him that we were only looking for a basic, clean haircut.

John settled into the chair and Otto slipped the cape around his shoulders and began trimming his hair with an electric clippers. After Otto made a few comments about how he wished he were still in school so that he could have the summers off, the shop fell silent except for the hum of the clippers.

I contemplated the scene in the shop with amusement. The room was old and dirty, with big clumps of gray hair all over the floor, indicating that most of the customers were older men. The two chairs, covered in duct tape, had obviously seen better days. The wall behind them was covered with black and white hairstyle photos that looked like they were from the 1970's. The magazine racks were filled with National Geographic magazines dating back to 1968! I felt as though I had stepped back in time! The shop bore a faint smell that reminded me of a nursing home. It was certainly a man's shop without any sign of a feminine touch.

A few more snips and clips and John was looking neat and presentable. Otto asked where John usually gets his hair cut and I told him that I always cut his hair myself and confessed that I wasn't very good at it. He disagreed with my self-critique and said, "I didn't see any problems with his hair. What are you, a beautician or a barber?" "Neither," I replied, "just a mom." "Well, you're very good," he said, "I'd hire you!" And had he done that, he would have been out of business in no time!

I am so grateful that in this modern world, there are still some places where old-fashioned service and hospitality are more important than being the biggest and the best. How wonderful that little shops like that of Otto the Barber still exist today!

The Puzzle of Suffering-A Guest Post by Vicki Thorn

My friend Danette recently called me to tell me about her cousin who inexplicably lost her first baby two weeks before she was due to be born. I just cannot fathom the anguish of that type of suffering and feel at a loss as do many people when confronted with the deep suffering of others, and all I can do is pray. Won't you please join me in praying for baby Madison and her family?

My friend, Vicki Thorn, has recently written these healing and helpful words at Headline Bistro's Website and the story was carried on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's Website where I found it. I am so grateful to Vicki for her words of wisdom and for her generosity in sharing them. Vicki is the Founder of the National Office for Post Abortion Reconciliation and Healing and Project Rachel.

The Puzzle of Suffering

Recently I was asked to speak about the meaning of human suffering. As life happens, I had to leave the conference right after my talk to attend the funeral of my friends’ 25-year-old son, Tim, who had been found comatose on Easter Sunday and died the next day, after becoming an organ donor and saving five lives. Millions of unanswered questions plague us at times like this, and the church was filled to overflowing – more than 700 people gathered together to grieve.

Isn’t it interesting that suffering is the one experience we would all rather pass on? It struck me that, at the same time, suffering is also a uniquely human experience. An animal will feel pain, but it will not experience the mental anguish that attends human suffering in its many forms, whether physical, psychological or spiritual. Even Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt.”

We read in the writings of the saints that suffering is ever present. Blessed John Paul II was shaped by suffering, when as a boy he lost his mother, his brother, and then his father. As a young man he experienced the sufferings of the Polish people. As Holy Father, he survived the assassin’s bullet and lived with physical challenges for many years; in old age, he showed us all how to suffer as Parkinson’s disease assaulted his being.

At the time of his conversion, Ignatius of Loyola was recovering from a wounded leg and, in his boredom, had only the Bible and the lives of the saints to read. Mother Theresa suffered the Dark Night of the Soul, as did John of the Cross. St. Margaret Mary and Padre Pio, as well as multitudes of other saintly people, experienced physical suffering of frail bodies and disease, and unseen mental and spiritual anguish from difficult marriages, loneliness and death.

In his encyclical on suffering, Salvifici Doloris, Blessed John Paul II wrote that “suffering must serve for conversion, that is, for the rebuilding of goodness in the subject, who can recognize the divine mercy in this call to repentance … Its purpose is also to strengthen goodness both in man himself and in his relationships with others and especially with God” (Sec. 13).

How true it is that it is in suffering that God breaks through to us – or maybe we break through to God. When we no longer feel in control, we may turn to the Lord, and I think there is a possibility of real conversation in those moments.

In Scripture, the Lord says we should be like little children before him. As a mother of six, I’ve thought a lot about this command, and here’s what I’ve concluded: We often seem to think that means we are to be angelic and pious, with our hands folded and our eyes downcast. But I will tell you that does not describe my children when they were little! Rather, they were noisy and sometimes angry, stomping their feet and whining or complaining. Other times they were full of love and hugs.

I think that is the invitation from the Lord – to be authentic human beings with all our feelings, the good, the bad and the ugly. God invites us into relationship with him, and it is when things are not so good that we are more willing to speak what is in our hearts. We often complain about not feeling his presence, but in reality we keep the door of our heart closed. We need to give God permission to heal us or help us – but our heart must be opened from the inside.

It is also the case that the suffering of others is an invitation for us to reach out.

“[T]he Good Samaritan of Christ’s parable does not stop at sympathy and compassion alone,” Blessed John Paul II explained in Salvifici Doloris:

They become for him an incentive to actions aimed at bringing help to the injured man. In a word, then, a Good Samaritan is one who brings help in suffering, whatever its nature may be. Help, which is, as far as possible, effective. He puts his whole heart into it, nor does he spare materials means. Here we touch upon one of the key-points of all Christian anthropology. Man cannot “fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” A Good Samaritan is the person capable of exactly such a gift of self … (Section 28)

The mystery of suffering is that it can become our treasure – that it calls us to become people of hope. It changes our life, dispels our self-satisfaction, puts us in touch with our frail humanity and can reconfigure us more closely to the suffering Lord. It calls us to understanding of our suffering brothers and sisters as it challenges us to become the Good Samaritan. It is in our response that the glory of God’s love and mercy is made manifest to the world!

Rest in peace, Tim! Our loss of you brought us together to journey in our suffering.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Three Favorite Scripture Verses

Mary at The Beautiful Gate has tagged me in the lastest blog MEME. This time around the theme is "Three Favorite Scripture Verses." The rules are:

1.Write a post on your three favorite verses from the Bible and why you like them.
2. Link back to this post.
3. In your post tag three other bloggers to carry this theme forward, link to you and tag additional bloggers.

Tough one, Mary, very tough to stick to three-but here goes my best effort....

1. Really, my all time favorite verse is Psalm 34:5

"Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy and your faces may not blush with shame."

I spent too many years ashamed of myself for my depression and my weakness and my sins and my imperfections. I wanted to be somebody else-anybody else-but the person God made me to be. Remembering to look to Him, and really seeing Him and His great love for me, just wipes all that shame away and the joyful radiance that overcomes me outshines the shamefaced blushing that I used to live with. Every time I hear this psalm, I have no choice but to smile!

2. Last year while at Mass one Sunday, my daughter Mary nudged me to let me know that the particular Gospel reading at that Mass was her favorite and her words inspired me to write this post about it. It just so happens that that very same Gospel was read at today's Ordination Mass (more about the ordinations to come in another post!) and Mary and I exchanged knowing smiles, remembering how meaningful that passage is to her. Although my daughter and I frequently disagree these days about many things such as music, television shows and how she wants to dress, we can agree that this scripture passage is wonderful, and now it's one of my favorites as well, after all, it's all about love and what's not to like about that!

"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep." John 21:15-17

3. Something would be seriously amiss if I failed to list the quote from this blog title as one of my favorites!

"I say to myself, I will not mention His name, I will speak in His name no more. But then, it becomes like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones, I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it." Jeremiah 20:7-10

After two years of striving to release my inner Jeremiah here on this blog, I'm still at it. Will there ever come a day when that fire stops burning in my bones? I hope not! Please, Lord, keep burning within me and calling me to share your love and your words with others!

Thanks for the tag Mary! And now I tag the following bloggers:

Amanda Rose at Little Steps Along the Way

Colleen at Inadequate Disciple
Rebecca at A Solitary Bird
and a fourth--
Lindy at Little Flower's Crown of Roses

Friday, May 20, 2011


I am so excited about tomorrow's ordinations to the Priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee! We will see five men lay down their lives in service to the Lord, what a tremendous blessing! I have to say that I am exceptionally proud of Christopher Klusman, a long-time friend and fellow parishioner at St. Matthias parish, who is one of the five ordinandi. Christopher's amazing story, which was featured in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, was picked up by Deacon Greg Kandra and posted at the Deacon's Bench. You can read his story here.

In honor of this holy and happy occasion, please enjoy a re-post of my story from last year's ordination.


He lay on the cold, marble floor, face buried in his arms, body covered by white alb, with only the back of his head and his black shoes exposed. While the Litany of the Saints Chant swirls throughout the Cathedral, he submits himself to God and His Church, and as the last echo of the chant fades away, he will rise to face the challenge of his submission.

Later in the Liturgy, he assumes a posture of kneeling, as one by one, his brother priests lay their hands upon his head, calling down the Holy Spirit to dwell within his soul, and forever change him. Each set of hands that presses upon him creates more room within him for the indwelling of the One who will assist him to rise to his new life in the Spirit.

As he is invested with a stole and chasuble, a visible sign that he is one who has “put on Christ”, it seems like a veil has shifted and his appearance takes on the look of one who will rise above the ordinary to that of an extra-ordinary leader, one who will care for others as a father, a mother, a sibling and a friend. It is clear to see that his call is being fulfilled and his face shines with the brilliant light of Christ.

Finally, kneeling once again, the Archbishop consecrates his open hands with the Chrism that will soak through his skin and become a permanent part of him. Leaving him with a kiss upon those holy hands, the Archbishop watches him rise to face the church full of witnesses, no longer simply a holy man, but now “a priest, forever”.

This day of Ordination is also a day of Ascension for him, when, like Christ being lifted to heaven in a cloud, he, too, is surrounded by a cloud of sweet and fragrant incense which rises in prayer. The new priest himself becomes a prayer that will rise to bring Christ to the world through his love, his faithfulness, his service and his own words of prayer.

The overwhelming message of this day is “get up, begin, and rise”. After many long years of preparation, it is time to magnify the presence of the Lord within himself and allow it to surge outwards to all of the faithful. From this day on, each time he elevates the host and chalice, he himself will ascend to a loftier place, the place of heaven on earth as he acts in persona Christi. And as the faithful look on, our very spirits rise to heaven with him as we flourish in prayers of adoration for our Redeemer and prayers of admiration and thanksgiving for the man who brings the True Presence of our Lord into our hearts and souls at each Mass.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Driver's Seat

"Pick up your feet got to move to the trick of the beat
There is no lead just take your place in the driver's seat"

~Sniff 'n the Tears

It's funny how memories come back like they were yesterday. My son failed his driver's test due to a pretty minor mistake, but the failure was painful for him just the same. Still, we can be sure that he will never fail to slow down and look both ways at an uncontrolled intersection for the remainder of his years behind the wheel, and the next time he takes the test, he will be better prepared.

Sharing the news of Justin's experience on his road test with some friends has brought back a flurry of memories from those who have also failed their first attempts at getting their driver's license, mine included.

Back in the early 80's when I was a teenager, our family car was a beat up old station wagon that had seen better days to be sure. Not only was it an embarrassment to drive, but I was certain that the examiner would take one look at it and fail the car before I ever got a chance to drive it! So, I had asked my brother if I could use his car for the test. Bob had a classic Plymouth Satellite in mint condition. He foolishly agreed to my request.

I had never been behind the wheel of Bob's car before the day of the test. It was raining that morning and the back window was fogged up, but his car didn't have rear-window defoggers. As I was backing out of the parking space to begin the test, I hit the car behind me! The examiner got out to check for damage, but finding none, told me to proceed with the test.

Knowing I had already failed, the tears began to flow. I cried throughout the entire test. Do you think that might have made the examiner a bit uncomfortable, or was he used to the tears of teenage girls?

As we made our way through the city streets of Manitowoc, we came to a four-way stop and just at that time, an ambulance with its siren blaring came from behind. Still fretting over my major mistake in the parking lot, I panicked about the rules of the road for emergency vehicles. I drove through the intersection and pulled over instead of staying put at the stop sign. So, had I not hit a car in the parking lot, I would have failed the test anyway. I'm just grateful that the ambulance wasn't there because of my parking lot accident! :)

Thinking back to that long-ago day, I have a new appreciation and gratitude for those who work at the Department of Motor Vehicles. They put up with a lot of immature and unprepared drivers, kids who are just desperate to reach that milestone and take their place in the driver's seat.

I imagine that God's role in our lives is a lot like that of the Road Test Examiner. God bravely sits right beside us on the journey of life, whether we are well prepared or not. He often has to take the hard stance and stifle our eager ambitions no matter how good our intentions might be, because He knows that our actions can alter so much more than our own puny lives, but that everything we do can have an affect on others as well. Sometimes He has to say "no" to our most ardent desires because He knows that the safety and well-being of others is at stake. Although our vision may be impaired by a foggy window, God clearly sees the way in which we are to go, and He will not allow us to advance without first assuring that we are well-prepared in our driver's seat so as to safely reach our ultimate destination, the glorious kingdom of heaven.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


driving home under
a blue sky,
blue with angel wing clouds
and Funeral for a Friend
on the radio, remembering the day...

church filled with red and white roses
brought to every funeral by my Godfather
a reminder of His blood shed to make us pure

prayers and memories offered for a man who
couldn't remember anymore
final years spent in the childlike
oblivion of Alzheimer's disease

long-forgotten relatives
shyly work to carry on a
conversation, struggling
to remember one another

"Ah, you're a Reindl"
I'm told again and again
family of origin features
prominently on my face
but no one remembers which
one of the nine I am, exactly,
just a vaguely familiar
face in the crowd

kolaches on the dessert table
in honor of the now-deceased aunt
who always made them
the warm, loving and holy woman
widowed young with the passing of her husband
while child thirteen was still a babe

nearly 500 crammed into the church
for her funeral back then with
Mass lasting over three hours
containing many loving, tearful memories
and three priests all crying
for the loss of her life

I make kolaches, too-
will I be remembered with
hours of tears and stories
when my time comes to pass from this life?
Will three priests cry for me
when I'm gone?

"She must have been a Reindl-
now tell me which one."
and some will answer,
"You know, the baby of the family,
the one who made kolaches."

But what does it matter whether or not
his memories were stolen by a disease
or she is lovingly remembered by many
or I am only remembered by my place in the
family line and my baking skills?

for the Father in heaven
holds all of us together
in the palm of His hand
and He will never forget...
not one little cell in our body
goes unnoticed
not one hair on our head is

I am known
I am known
and will always be
for who I am
and for what I've done...
to my Father in heaven
I am known

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gifts That Last

Over the course of my two-year blogging history, I have often taken part in "link-fests" such as Jennifer Fulwiler's Seven Quick Takes and Ann Voskamp's Mindful Mondays. I often struggle to find just the right words to say at just the right time so as to join in with the necessary number of quick takes or words of gratitude on the required days, so this post is a combination of grateful quick takes on my own terms...

A few days ago I had a surprise visit from my sweet friend Susi with a very special gift-a bottle of Sea Glass Wine! I had no idea that such a wonderful treat existed! And how lovely to receive a combination of three of my favorite things-wine, sea glass and friendship! Cheers, Susi! Naturally, the wine was delicious, but now it's gone. How grateful I am that friendship and sea glass are gifts that endure.

Last week there was panic and mayhem in the blogosphere when Blogger went down for nearly 24 hours and posts and comments disappeared. It made me appreciate what a gift it is to be able to write my thoughts, prayers, and dreams in this little space called Imprisoned in my Bones and know that anyone in the world can be blessed by them. Please, God, let others be blessed by them and never hurt by my words. The blogging fiasco intensified my gratitude to be able to read and pray over so many other words burning within the hearts of my fellow Christians and tapped out on the silence of a keyboard for the benefit of many. How wonderful it is that the internet can be a blessing to our souls, bringing about deep and meaningful friendships in this often cold and impersonal world.

One such friendship that quickly comes to mind is that of Mary at The Beautiful Gate. For the past two years Mary has been faithfully reading my words and commenting on them as well as faithfully writing her own words of faith and love on her blog, and it is Mary who is the recipient of my recent book give-away, The Invisible World by Anthony Destefano, as well as a small collection of sea glass. Thanks for everything Mary!

One of my favorite uncles has passed away a few days ago. God blessed Izzy (Isadore) with 90 years on this earth, and my uncle used those years to spread love and joy using his gift of humor. I am particularly blessed because my employer allows paid time off to attend the funeral of aunts and uncles. So, my son Justin, who will be taking his driver's exam this Wednesday, will be attending the funeral with me, and will drive the 80 miles to and from our destination. Please keep us in your prayers for a safe journey and please pray for Justin to pass his exam successfully! But most of all, please pray for the soul of my beloved Uncle Izzy.

I found these words on the quote board at the YMCA earlier this week and they have been moving my heart ever since..."Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." ~Mark Twain~
Don't they move your heart as well?

On this Good Shepherd Sunday and World Day of Prayer for Vocations, my heart is rejoicing over the upcoming ordination to the priesthood of five men for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee this coming Saturday, May 21st. So many hopes and prayers lie in the hands of these men, the hands that will be embedded with fragrant Chrism, the hands that will heal and soothe the souls of many, the hands that will hold the very Body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and feed him to a Church starving for His love, the hands that will now be holy hands. Please keep these brave and wonderful men in your prayers and click on their names to read their feature story in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald:

Christopher Klusman
Kevin McManaman
Kevin Barnekow
Javier Guativa
Hugo Londono

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blue Rosary Joy

Kneeling in silent prayer in my favorite pew in the back of church, eyes closed, I related my joy to God about how good it feels to be able to show my love for Him in so many little ways, ways that others might not ever notice, but ways in which I felt honored to be used by Him just the same. My prayer was distracted by a gentle thump in the pew in front of me. Opening my eyes, I saw a brown box and heard the voice of my friend, JD, saying, "Here's the first 100. I'll have 300-400 more for you by July. I don't want any thank you's. I just want you to distribute these." Inside the box were the most beautiful blue marbled glass bead rosaries I have ever seen, each with a miraculous medal centerpiece and an exquisite crucifix.

It's funny how God just carries us along in our day-to-day activities leading us to people and places without our knowing the reasons why, but God always knows and He always uses our words and actions for good. Two years ago I noticed an advertisement in our parish bulletin about someone who was looking for help making rosaries for the missions through an organization called Our Lady's Rosary Makers. I called the number in the ad thinking that maybe my sisters and I could make rosaries while we visited during our monthly rosary get-together.

JD answered the phone and he and I talked for over an hour. It turned out that my sisters and I weren't able to help with making the wire and bead rosaries, but during the course of our conversation, I asked JD if he attends daily Mass and he said that he hadn't been, but maybe now he would start. Sure enough, the next day, I had the opportunity to meet him face to face, and he has been faithfully attending daily Mass ever since. I'm sure that our Lord has been very pleased with his steady and true attendance at the highest form of prayer each day.

Last January when I became involved with Roses for Our Lady, I learned that our organization was in need of 300 blue rosaries to distribute during our rosary procession at Festa Italiana this July 17th. I asked JD if he could make rosaries for Roses for Our Lady as well as for the missions. It was hard to read his face. I thought that maybe I had pushed him over the edge and had asked for too much. He simply said that he would see what he could do. The very next day he gave me ten sample rosaries and the promise of 300 all made by his sister, brother and himself.

How wonderful it is that through a little phone call made several years ago, God has brought me this gift of a wonderful friend who is generous in his devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Lord. And it seems to me that through my prayer of gratitude, God blessed me abundantly by showering me with rosaries that others can use to show their gratitude through prayer as well. The joyful blessings continue to flow and all it takes is a little loving openness to the will of God. What wonders He can accomplish through us when we simply live our lives in the light of His love each day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Apostleship of Prayer

My sisters and I spend the first Wednesday morning of every month helping stuff envelopes with the Pope's monthly prayer intentions at the Apostleship of Prayer. The thousands of letters are sent out throughout the United States and beyond, so I was delightfully surprised when I began to recognize some of the names on the envelopes that I was filling on the most recent volunteer day...I had the box of envelopes that were addressed to recipients in the Milwaukee area! In fact, I was able to simply reach across the table and hand deliver one of the letters to Julie, my coworker! But the biggest surprise was when I drew an envelope from the stack that was addressed to Archbishop Jerome Listecki! I offered an extra prayer for him as I placed his letter inside the envelope, but thought of it too late to stick an additional note inside letting him know that his envelope was filled with more than the letter alone, it was also filled with my prayer!

What follows is my most recent contribution to my parish newsletter-an informative piece about the Apostleship of Prayer...


“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.”

The above prayer is the traditional morning offering of the Apostleship of Prayer, an organization that seeks to encourage Christians to make a daily offering of themselves to the Lord. “The Apostleship of Prayer began in France in 1844. At that time Fr. Francis X. Gautrelet told a group of Jesuit seminarians who were eager to work on the missions: "Be apostles now, apostles of prayer! Offer everything you are doing each day in union with the Heart of our Lord for what He wishes, the spread of the Kingdom for the salvation of souls." (From the Apostleship of Prayer Website)

Through uniting ourselves in prayer to Christians every where, and giving every occurrence of our daily lives to the Lord, our entire lives and our complete selves become a Eucharistic prayer of love and sacrifice. In this way, each moment you spend working is a prayer for all of the apostles of prayer throughout the world, each kind word spoken with love is a sacrifice for the Pope and his intentions, each hardship or difficulty which you undergo can be used by God to unite all Christians, and each joy or happiness that you experience can benefit the souls of others and atone for our own sins and the sins of the world. It’s so simple, and that is what makes the Apostleship of Prayer so beautiful! A few words prayerfully whispered from the heart at the beginning of each day can change the world! How very powerful we become when we allow God to use us in this way!

Since 2003, the United States office of the Apostleship of Prayer has been under the guidance of Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, whose office is in Milwaukee. With the help of a small staff and several volunteers, the National Office of the Apostleship of Prayer sends out thousands of letters each month, letting all of the apostles of prayer throughout the United States, and many in other countries as well, know about Pope Benedict’s specific prayer intentions for the month. The Pope’s prayer intentions change monthly but are always sure to include a general intention as well as a mission intention each month. In keeping the Pope’s intentions in our daily prayer of offering, we are truly uniting ourselves to the universal Church.

The Apostleship of Prayer is an organization which is very devoted to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1673, St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, a Visitation Sister, had visions of Jesus who asked her to promote devotion to His Most Sacred Heart. St. Claude la Columbiere, a Jesuit, was chosen to be her confessor. In a later vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she was asked to give her message to the Jesuits to spread it throughout the world, and thus the Apostleship of Prayer has always been under the direction of the Jesuit order and they have always promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Won’t you become an apostle of prayer and unite every moment of your day to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the good of our universal Church?

For more information about the Apostleship of Prayer please visit their website at: http://www.apostleshipofprayer.org/ or contact them at:

Apostleship of Prayer
3211 South Lake Drive, Suite 216
Milwaukee, WI 53235
Phone: 414.486.1152 (9:00 AM to 4:30 PM CST)

May Crowning

The following words are those of Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, the Director of the National Apostleship of Prayer, from his May letter to the Apostles of Prayer:

"Have you ever wondered why May is Mary's month? To answer that question, the famous Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote a poem entitled "May Magnificat." Mary is like the spring, he wrote, causing "growth in everything." A mother herself, Mary sympathizes with that "world of good, Nature's motherhood."

The new life springing up all around us this month gives glory to God. So too the new life developing in Mary's womb caused her to rejoice from the time of her conception until the birth of her child. That child, Jesus, is the very "image of the invisible God," St. Paul wrote. Jesus embodied God's endless love for us, and we rejoice in the everlasting life he shares with us.

Also in May comes the joy of First Holy Communions. In that sacrament, Jesus gives his Body and Blood to little ones for the first time. They receive his life. Again, this is only possible because Jesus first took flesh in the womb of Mary."

What better way to honor our blessed Mother during her most special month of May and on the day that is set aside to honor all mothers, than to crown her with roses-both literally and figuratively. Roses for Our Lady will be holding our 31st Annual May Crowning and Eucharistic Rosary Procession on Sunday, May 8th. If you are in the Milwaukee area why not come and join in the celebration!

May Crowning Celebration

Spend Mother's Day with the Blessed Mother!

Sunday, May 8th, 2:00 PM
Archdiocesan Marian Shrine
68th and Stevenson, Milwaukee (2 blocks south of Bluemound Rd.)

Presider: Very Rev. Donald Hying, Rector of St. Francis de Sales Seminary and Roses for Our Lady's Spiritual Director
Assisting Clergy: Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, Fr. Matthew Widder, Deacon Christopher Klusman

First Communicants are encouraged to wear their First Communion attire.

This is an outdoor event- please bring a lawn chair to sit on.
In case of rain, please go to St. Vincent Pallotti-west, 201 N. 76th St.

Sponsored by
Roses for Our Lady

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Love Letter to Pope John Paul II

The following letter appeared in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald on April 7, 2005. With the Beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1st, I asked Fr. Don Hying, the Rector of St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee and the author of the letter which was written while he was still pastor of Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Milwaukee, for his permission to re-print his heartfelt words here, and of course, he generously agreed.

Dear Pope John Paul,

I've always wanted to write this letter to you, but somehow never took the time, so here I am saying these things as you lay dying. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I trust you will know and understand them. Likewise, I always wanted to meet you, yet despite my best efforts every time I was in Rome, it never came to be. It doesn't matter now-you are with all of us in the risen Christ.

Where do I begin? Words cannot begin to articulate what you have done for the church, the world, the poor, the dignity of the human person, millions of people and myself. The pundits will speak of your legacy-the countless trips you made, the saints you canonized, the new catechism you issued and the revision of canon law, your role in the collapse of communism and dictatorships, the indelible stamp you have left on the Catholic Church and this world. It's hard to imagine the church without you, the church before you, the church after you. You've been there through it all with us.

Thank you for your radiant faith in the risen Christ whom you have held up as the center of human history and the answer to all of our questions about life. Above all you are an evangelizer, a proclaimer of the Gospel, someone who wanted to embrace the entire world and tell every single person how much God loves us. Your fidelity and perseverance in this endeavor, year after year, stagger the imagination.

Thank you for your courageous defense of human life-the unborn, the elderly, the poor, the disabled, the dying. You have consistently upheld the glory of the human person made in the image and likeness of God. Race, color, religion, creed, poor, rich, none of it made any difference to you because you saw God in every person that you met-you who saw and were seen by more people than anyone in human history. You spoke and lived the Gospel of Life, regardless of resistance to it.

Thank you for your proclamation of freedom and truth that you spoke to power, whether it was the communist officials in Poland who trembled in your presence, the rich and comfortable in the U.S., the Duvaliers in Haiti, the Marcoses in the Phillipines or the dictatorships in the Americas-you were fearless. That courage broke down walls that seemed impenetrable, crushed oppression that felt unbreakable. You let the splendor of truth shine on the whole world and called everyone to the highest of ideals, never settling for comfort or complacency.

Thank you for your unswerving commitment to social justice. You went to the United Nations, the halls of power, the slums and barrios of the Third World, Mother Teresa's home for the dying, the White House, shacks and palaces to tell everyone that workers and the poor, children and the disabled, the elderly and the sick all had rights which could not be violated. In your vision of the world, there was enough food, medicine, justice and joy for all of God's children-every single one.

Thank you for your belief in young people. I once was one of them who heard your call to the priesthood over the radio one Sunday at 3 a.m. as I scrubbed greasy chicken fryers at my first restaurant job. In many ways, I owe my priesthood to you. The idea of World Youth Day was a stroke of genius and young people by the millions have flocked to your side, seeing in your radical Gospel call an authentic way to live our life abundantly. How many vocations like mine were fathered into being by you? Thank you for believing in us and for calling us to greatness.

Thank you for your joy, your smile, your incredible love for the church, your ecumenical gestures, the saints you have held up for us, your tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, your love for language and poetry, your courage in the face of constant death threats, your love for nature and sports, your fidelity to the task at hand until the moment of death, your gracious example of how to suffer, age and surrender all into the merciful heart of Christ. The world will never see your likes again.

In many ways, I will find it difficult to go on without your booming voice of love, your courageous example of faith and the confidence that you gave all of us. But you have told us from the beginning of your pontificate to not be afraid but simply follow the risen Christ. With your example and prayers to show us the way, the blazing path of holiness lies before us. Thank you for being you, because you helped me to be me, the me that God wants me to be. As we pray for you, please pray for us before the glory of God's throne. I never talked to you here on earth, but if Jesus lets me into heaven, we'll see each other there. I have so much to say to you. I love you, Pope John Paul!

--Fr. Don Hying