Friday, October 28, 2011


"O Lord, we beseech Thee to cleanse the intent of our hearts with the unspeakable gift of Thy grace, that we may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise Thee. Amen." ~Introductory prayer of the ceremony of enrollment as a candidate for the Oblates of the Precious Blood

On the morning of my candidacy enrollment for the Oblates of the Precious Blood, I awoke with great joy in my heart and was determined to spiritually prepare myself for the sacred undertaking I was about to embark upon. With a heart warmed by kind messages from friends who encouraged me with their own offerings of prayer, my oldest son and I paid a visit to the local Schoenstatt Shrine to spend some time with the Lord. We were alone in the tiny chapel and together we prayed a rosary for priests in the presence of the tabernacle.

Later, when I arrived at work, the clinic was swamped with clients and I was left with no time to ponder the upcoming ceremony. On my lunch break I slipped away to the nearby Church of the Gesu for confession. An event like this requires a clean soul. As I stepped out of the confessional, I recognized one of the men standing in line as a Conventual Franciscan seminarian from St. Francis de Sales Seminary. I had never met him before so I introduced myself to him and told him that my family and I spend a great deal of time at the seminary and that I had recognized him as one of the seminarians. He introduced himself as Paul Schneider and told me that he anticipated being ordained to the transitional diaconate this coming April. Then he looked at me intently and said, "Pray for me." I confidently told him that I would, but on the inside, I was utterly amazed. This man had never met me before and had no idea that on this very day I would be committing myself to life-long prayer for all priests, seminarians and those discerning the priesthood. I felt as is if his words, "Pray for me" were spoken on behalf of all priests and seminarians and were inspired by Christ himself telling me that my calling to the Oblates of the Precious Blood was indeed a heavenly inspired vocation which was much needed today. I returned to work and all during the busy afternoon I kept recalling those three simple words-pray for me- as I anticipated what was to come.

That evening our living room was arranged into an informal church setting with flowers and candles and a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for since last June arrived. My friend Kurt Keidl, who had kindly written a letter of recommendation to the Handmaids of the Precious Blood on my behalf and Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ, who also had taken the time to write a letter, both arrived and the Mass began. My family joined in the celebration as my son John read the first reading, my daughter Mary read the psalm and my son Jack served as acolyte. Fr. Jim, who had just returned that very afternoon from a two week visit in New Jersey where he led a retreat for a convent of cloistered Carmelite nuns, spoke about his gratitude to cloistered nuns such as the Handmaids of the Precious Blood who pray for priests, and also of his gratitude for lay people who pray for priests. He said that no priest can handle his responsibilities toward the Church alone, that they all need the gift of prayer from others.

Following Holy Communion, Fr. Jim officiated at the short enrollment ceremony which included a reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 1:3-10, a questioning of the candidate, a presentation of a medal of Mary, Queen of the Clergy, a prayer of the candidate and a final prayer and blessing.

The Mass and enrollment ceremony were followed by a dinner celebration with a special treat, Holy Spirits Wine, and all too soon the evening came to an end. In the morning, Fr. Jim would be off on another retreat trip for the Apostleship of Prayer, this time to Minnesota. How wonderful it was that he was able to spend his short time at home helping me to dedicate my life to prayer for all priests. It was a gloriously blessed evening and I am filled with joy to prayerfully begin my formation period and to devote my life to prayer for all priests.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

slipping into silence

silent tears
in the silent rain
silent sorrow
and silent pain

silent shame
from a silent past
silent suffering
now the silence is cast

silence remains
in a silent heart
can you feel the silence
rip your soul apart?

silent day
and silent night
silence continues
its silent plight

silence holds
and silence ties
looking down
with silent eyes

yet here in the silence
He speaks to me
my soul is listening
I can clearly see

the deep love He has
in His heart so dear
His silent presence
is love ever near

beautiful silence
I will embrace
this quiet time
this silent space

and into forever
silence will remain
a sign of His love
and His kingly reign

silently His heart
melts into mine
and our hearts become one
in a silent shrine

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Speed Bumps and Other Helps

Yesterday I posted highlights from Fr. Wade Menezes talk on the Blessed Mother from the Gazing on the Face of Jesus with Mary conference sponsored by the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate. Today I am giving Dr. Edward Sri his due. His talk was so engaging and uplifting-really most enjoyable! If you are ever offered the opportunity to hear him speak, I recommend that you do!

His words:

Some people consider praying the rosary to be as easy as saying your ABC's but others say it is difficult to pray it without a wandering mind. Some look at the rosary as a difficult chore and pray it just to "get it over with and check it off the to-do list," and for others every decade seems to last ten years, or they are so busy all day that when they finally sit down to pray the rosary, they fall asleep. But we should never walk away from praying the rosary feeling discouraged or defeated. Simply pulling out the beads and praying is giving something beautiful to God. St. Thomas Aquinas said that just the intention to pray is in itself the beginning of prayer.

If we pray the rosary and go to Mass and it doesn't go well and we're distracted, God sees the intent of our heart and He loves us for it. We should remember that the only one who wants us to be discouraged is the devil. But we do want to get better at prayer. Sometimes it's helpful to focus on meditating upon the mystery of each decade and at other times we want to focus on the words of the Hail Mary prayers. In either case the Lord will take whatever we give Him.

People may criticize the rosary as vain repetition. Jesus himself repeated his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane when he prayed "Father, not my will but your will" three times. Repetition is the language of love. Every couple repeats "I love you" and they don't sigh and say "Could you come up with something more original?"

When we pray the words of the Hail Mary we are joining in the joy of heaven with Gabriel and the joy of earth with Elizabeth who first uttered these words of prayer. Gabriel who knew God in heaven from all of eternity is in awe over the mystery of the incarnation. And how does Elizabeth know that Mary is pregnant? It's through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which gave her prophetic insight. So the first half of the Hail Mary prayer is all about praising God-praising Jesus. The second half of the prayer, the Holy Mary, is simply asking her to pray for us. But it's the center of the Hail Mary prayer, the hinge, where we find the Holy Name of Jesus. We should treat his name in this prayer like a speed bump, that is, slow down and speak his name with reverence and love.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Get Into Your Prayers

Last weekend I had the great honor of hearing Fr. Wade Menezes and Dr. Edward Sri speak about Marian Devotion and the rosary at the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate's Gazing on the Face of Jesus with Mary conference at St. Jerome's Parish in Oconomowoc, WI. What follows are some highlights from Fr. Wade's talk:

Each mystery of the rosary is re-lived at Mass, either directly or indirectly.

Mary is blessed not because she bore Christ within her womb and nursed him at her breast, but because she heard the word of God and kept it. We are to follow her example in this regard, to hear the word of God and keep it.

The Eucharist is the only Sacrament that is what it signifies; the other Sacraments effect what they signify such as baptism which washes away the stain of original sin, but the Eucharist truly is the Body and Blood of Christ.

All Marian devotion is Christocentric and points to Christ. Mary's name is never mentioned in scripture without an implicit reference to her Son. A perfect example of this is Mary's direction to the waiters at the wedding feast at Cana. She said, "Do whatever He tells you." She says the same words to us.

In the rosary Mary stands in the background of every mystery. Even the Assumption and Coronation are but glimmering foreshadows of what we hope to attain for ourselves based upon Christ on the cross who came to save us.

Using St. Thomas of Aquinas' definition of humility: "Humility is seeing your place and taking it." Mary shows her humility by taking her place in the stable, the home, the foot of the cross, and as the Queen of Heaven.

Just as Mary stood at the foot of the cross, she is standing today right next to you, ready to help and support you no matter what may be going on in your life.

The rosary is a contemplative prayer where we are conformed to Christ with Mary.

According to John Paul II the role of the Christian family in the modern world is the foundational and innate vocation of the human person to love.

The goal of Catholics is to stay right in line with the Chair of Peter and to swerve neither to the right nor the left as both camps cause confusion and the devil is loving every minute of it. It doesn't matter if you fall out of the Barque of Peter to the left or to the right-either way you risk drowning.

The spiritual life is not limited to liturgy. The liturgy is the source and summit, but Christians must also go to their room to pray in private and pray without ceasing.

Don't just get your prayers in-get into your prayers!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sancta Maria

In honor of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary I am going to spend a busy weekend attending the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate's special Mass and rosary conference where I will promote Roses for Our Lady followed by Roses for Our Lady's monthly Holy Hour for Vocations with an outdoor Eucharistic Rosary procession on Sunday. Before I know it the weekend will be over and I will be too exhausted to post anything, but I just couldn't let this extraordinary feast day pass by without some special words in honor of Our Blessed Mother, so I found this classic poem to share...

Sancta Maria by Edgar Allen Poe

Sancta Maria! turn thine eyes -
Upon the sinner's sacrifice,
Of fervent prayer and humble love,
From thy holy throne above.

At morn - at noon - at twilight dim -
Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!
In joy and woe - in good and ill -
Mother of God, be with me still!

When the Hours flew brightly by,
And not a cloud obscured the sky,
My soul, lest it should truant be,
Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;

Now, when storms of Fate o'ercast
Darkly my Present and my Past,
Let my Future radiant shine
With sweet hopes of thee and thine!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Neighbor

"You shall love the Lord, your God,with all your heart,with all your being,with all your strength,and with all your mind,and your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27

Looking back to the weekend just past, my time was filled with fun and meaningful events like attending the Rector's Dinner, the largest fund-raiser for St. Francis de Sales Seminary, going to a wine tasting with my husband and his sister, cheering on my daughter at her double-header volleyball games and standing witness with my parish at the Life Chain.

But by far, the highlight of the weekend was a special little trip that my oldest son John and I made on Sunday evening. John and Justin both work at a nearby nursing home in the dietary department. They love to share stories about the people who live there, and our family almost feels as if we know the sweet residents of the nursing home after hearing so many wonderful tales.

One woman, in particular, seems to be the topic of discussion at our home quite a bit. H. lives in the independent apartments that are attached to the nursing home. Poor H. seems to be ready for assisted living as her memory is quite poor and the boys often say that she is poorly cared for, and on top of that, many of the other nursing home residents dislike her and criticize her for her memory loss.

The independents are allowed to come to the dining room for dinner during the week, but on weekends the food served at the nursing home is for the assisted care residents only. (I don't understand that rule, do you?) It seems that on both Saturday and Sunday she came down to the dining room looking for food and the staff had to send her away because it was a weekend. John was especially heartbroken when he came home from work on Sunday afternoon and he told us that once again H. was looking for food, complaining about how hungry she was, but the staff had to send her back to her apartment or they could get in trouble for breaking the rules and feeding her. (Time to change that rule, don't you agree?) John overheard one of the nursing assistant's say that H. didn't have any food in her apartment. H.'s only son lives out of state, so she is all alone with no one to care for her.

On Sundays I always like to make a big family dinner, and since my husband has taken a second job and had to work and my daughter was eating dinner at a friend's house, we had lots of food left over. So, John and I made up a plate of dinner and packed up a bag of groceries and took it to H. at her apartment. John's description of her was quite accurate; she was incredibly sweet but also noticeably forgetful. She recognized John but didn't remember his name. She asked me if I was his girlfriend and when I told her that I was his mom she so kindly told me that I don't look old enough to be his mother. I immediately fell in love with her after that! When I told her my name she mentioned that Anne is her favorite name. Then, five minutes later, she asked "What was your name again?"

When we offered her the dinner, she mentioned that she did eat dinner already so we put the dinner and groceries in her nearly empty refrigerator, said goodbye, and went downstairs for a tour of the kitchen. One of the girls who was doing the dishes told us that H. did come down for dinner once again and she didn't care if she got in trouble or not, she gave H. a bowl of chili. (Good girl!) It did my heart good to know that there were staff members there who would risk getting "in trouble" at work to assure that a hungry 94-year-old woman had some nutritious food in her stomach.

Six blocks from my home a sweet little woman lives all alone in a world that often mistreats her for her mental capacity. During this month dedicated to respecting life I will remember that woman who is only six short blocks from my home. She is my neighbor and I will strive to love her as I love myself.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Solemn Resolution of Love

“He who would truly honor the priesthood must do so by helping priests. I would rather have a hand in getting one priest back to the altar of God than to write a thousand books on the priesthood, or to preach a million sermons on the glory of the priesthood, for neither the sermons nor the books can hold Christ in their hands and offer Him to the Father.”
~Very Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, s.P.

One of the things that I most enjoy about blogging is the ability that we all have to learn from such diverse sources about the varied communities and groups within our Catholic Church of which we might not ever have a previous knowledge. Joe, at Defend Us In Battle, who writes from Alaska, had recently written about a group of contemplative nuns at Cor Jesu Monastery in New Mexico, The Handmaids of the Precious Blood, which touched my heart here in Wisconsin and has changed my life in a profound way.

The Handmaids of the Precious Blood devote their lives to perpetual Eucharistic Adoration for the sanctification of Priests. They offer several external prayer apostolates so that those who are not in their community may join them in prayer for priests at whichever level may best suit their lives.

The Handmaids of the Precious Blood were founded in 1947 by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, SP and the lay apostolates were added in the 1980's by Fr. John Hardon, SJ who replaced Fr. Fitzgerald as the order's spiritual director upon Fr. Fitzgerald's death.

Since I had begun a Monthly Prayer Request for Priests in Milwaukee last September, I felt that an opportunity to become an Oblate of the Precious Blood would be a beautiful way to deepen my prayer of love for the priesthood, so I applied to the order to determine whether or not God might be calling me to this life of deeper prayer.

"Begun under the guidance of the Servant of God Father John A. Hardon, S.J. on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 21, 1981, the Oblates of the Precious Blood program was founded to allow priests, religious, deacons, and laity to more closely affiliate themselves with the mission and spirit of the Handmaids of the Precious Blood. Oblates of the Precious Blood bind themselves to our apostolate of prayer and sacrifice for priests by willingly committing themselves to lives completely dedicated to God, doing everything out of love for God and for the sanctification of priests. From their homes, their families, their work, their rectories, their dioceses, their missions, their hermitages, and their cloisters they reach out spiritually to priest souls in need, offering every joy and sorrow, all pain and suffering to God in love on behalf of priests. They dedicate themselves to learning the spirituality of our Founder, Father Gerald Fitzgerald, s.P. and give themselves in a lifelong resolution to live for God alone. Candidates undergo a formation period by correspondence conducted from our Motherhouse in New Mexico before making a private Solemn Resolution of Love. The Oblates are not a third order and members of third orders may apply for candidacy. World wide, there are at present over 420 Oblates of the Precious Blood. " ~from the Handmaids of the Precious Blood website

On Thursday October 27th, my friend, Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ, will officiate at a ceremony following Mass in my living room in which I will become enrolled as a candidate for Oblates of the Precious Blood. Following the ceremony, I will begin a formation period through correspondence with the order and, God-willing, it won't be long before I make a Solemn Resolution of Love and become accepted as an Oblate of the Precious Blood and will offer every aspect of my life and prayer for the sanctification of priests.

I ask you to please keep me in your prayers as I move ahead with this effort. Also, I encourage you to visit the website of the Handmaids of the Precious Blood to learn more about this beautiful order and their saintly founder.