July

Novena to St. Christopher begins!

hc93

“Christ is He whom I seek, for He is the strongest and the mightiest.
Tell me where I can find Him.”

Saint Christopher is certainly one of the best-known out of the Holy Helpers, with many beautiful legends that surround his life in order to illustrate his mighty conversion and virtues of humility, zeal, charity, and eventually his heroic martyrdom. One of my favorite things about St. Christopher is how, when he was still Reprobus before his conversion and baptism, he looked at himself, his powerful gigantic self, and understood that he was supposed to serve the mightiest master he could find with that strength. Even as a heathen with the name reprobate, he understood the fundamental truth of our existence, that we are not here to serve ourselves, but the One whom Reprobus sought out and eventually found: our Creator. What a joy must have filled his soul when he finally found that One in Christ!

St. Christopher’s traditional feast is July 25th. He is invoked as the patron of travelers, motorists in particular, children, soldiers, bachelors, and against storms, lightning, and epilepsy.

Prayer in Honor of St. Christopher

O God, who didst make St. Christopher a true Christ-bearer who converted multitudes to the Christian faith, and who didst give him the grace to suffer for Thy sake the most cruel torments; through the intercession of this saint we implore Thee to protect us from sin, the only real evil. Preserve us, also, against harmful elementary forces, such as earthquake, lightning, fire, and flood. Amen.

Invocation of St. Christopher

Great St. Christopher, seeking the strongest and mightiest master thou didst find him in Jesus Christ, the almighty God of heaven and earth, and didst faithfully serve Him with all thy power to the end of thy life, gaining for Him countless souls and finally shedding thy blood for Him; obtain for me the grace to bear Christ always in my heart, as thou didst once bear Him on thy shoulder, so that I thereby may be strengthened to overcome victoriously all temptations and resist all enticements of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and that the powers of darkness may not prevail against me. Amen.

prt_olomtcarmel_1024x1024

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!

In our Loving Lady,
Lena

Advertisements
July

Novena to St. Margaret of Antioch begins today!

img-Saint-Margaret-of-Antioch1Here we are again at the beginning of Holy Helper Novena marathon month! Buckle your seat belts!

With the respective feasts of St. Margaret of Antioch on the 20th, St. Christopher on the 25th, St. Pantaleon on the 27th, and then the old feast day of all fourteen Holy Helpers on August 8th (which is also the particular feast of St. Cyriacus), any followers of mine aren’t going to be able to get away from novenas for the foreseeable future (and then there’s the St. Anne novena and the St. Alphonsus Liguori novena coming up this month!) Of course I don’t desire to be annoying or obsessive, but encouraging the novenas in their honor is something I’ve pledged to do in honor of my fourteen patrons in Heaven, and I know without doubt there are great graces in the practice of devotion to any or all of them.

St. Margaret of Antioch, one of the three female saints numbered among the Holy Helpers, is also one of the three saints who appeared to St. Joan of Arc (along with St. Catherine, another Holy Helper, and St. Michael). She is a special patroness of mothers in a variety of ways (against sterility as well as loss of milk for nursing mothers, as well as being a special protector of expecting mothers, safe childbirth, nurses, women in general, and women in labor), of people who are falsely accused, people in exile, and the dying. She is also invoked against backache, kidney disease and demonic activity. In short, she packs a mean punch! (See how she’s got the dragon by the throat!)

She is also an especially glorious model of virginal chastity as well as a defender of the Faith. She rejected the proposal of the prefect of her city, saying to his messenger, “I can not be espoused to your master, because I am the spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I am promised to Him, and to Him I wish to belong.”

When the enraged prefect later interrogated her and told her she ought to abandon the worship of a crucified God, Margaret asked him, “How do you know that we worship a crucified God?” He replied that he had read it in the books of the Christians.

“Why did you not read further on?” Margaret asked. “The books of the Christians would have told you that the Crucified rose on the third day, and that He ascended into heaven. Is it love of truth to believe in the abasement of Christ and to reject His glorification, when both are related in the selfsame book?”

Let us ask, among our other intentions, for a share in St. Margaret’s single-hearted devotion to Christ, her tender love for and conformity to the Crucified, and her adoration of Him Risen.

Margaret

Prayer in Honor of St. Margaret

O God, grant us through the intercession of Thy holy virgin and martyr Margaret, undauntedly to confess the Faith, carefully to observe the chastity of our state of life, and to overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and thereby escape the punishments of eternal damnation. Amen.

Invocation of St. Margaret

St. Margaret, holy virgin and martyr, thou didst faithfully preserve the robe of holy innocence and purity, valiantly resisting all the blandishments and allurements of the world for the love of thy divine Spouse, Jesus Christ; help me to overcome all temptations against the choicest of all virtues, holy purity, and to remain steadfast in the love of Christ, in order to preserve this great gift of God. Implore for me the grace of perseverance in prayer, distrust of myself, and flight from the occasions of sin, and finally the grace of a good death, so that in heaven I may “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” Amen.

(Prayers taken from The Fourteen Holy Helpers by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer)

In closing, I would like to ask you to remember in your prayers (whether they include this novena or not!) a good friend of mine who is about to go through the Crucible next week as the last stage of his formation into a Marine. Thank you!

God bless you and St. Margaret watch over you!
In our Loving Lady,
Lena

July

Twelve months, two amazing cops, and long, melancholic looks {my sister finished her novel!}

800px-Kent_McCord_Martin_Milner_Edward_Crawford_Adam_12_1973

Can you believe that there could be two more amazing police partners than Reed and Malloy? Well, you’d better. I’ve just spent the last year getting to know David Walton and Ben Atkins. . .reading them as they took shape from my younger sis’ keyboard and imagination. . .falling completely in love with them (actually, Ben is basically my ideal husband, and I’m still extremely put out that he’s not a real person). . .and having the honor of editing their story (okay, it’s really David’s story, but you just can’t underestimate how important Ben is. . .)

Sometimes, my younger sis makes me feel really dumb, because when I think of the stuff I was writing when I was twelve/thirteen years old. . .we’re not going to go there. My mom tells me it’s because she has two amazing writers for older sisters as good examples. I don’t know. . .I think younger siblings just get all the good stuff 🙂

There’s really nothing like having siblings who also loved to write, and being heavily involved in one another’s stories from start to finish. Us three girls all love to write, and all have radically different writing personalities to boot. As it happens, I’m the Melancholic and younger sis is the Choleric. While these two temperaments certainly have their clashing points (wow, I could go into volumes about those things!), I’m very grateful and glad that writing seems to be one place where it’s (most of the time) pretty smooth and easy to connect.

And, as cholerics do, she’s led me into new ways of thinking about writing. Of course, I’ll never be able to organize my writing as meticulously as she does (it drives me crazy!), but the way she gathers inspiration is really an innovation to me. Without being too specific, it includes pictures and music and holding onto me and exchanging long, meaningful looks (which she says I’m good at and really help her feel more deeply about her stories. Happy to help! I guess melancholic editors are good for something!)

So I’m here (with her at my side) today to celebrate the completion of her second novel (really, I’m seven years ahead and a book behind her. . .this isn’t good!), which actually took place about two months ago. . .I’m a terrible procrastinator!. . .but since we’ve finally finished editing it together, finally printed it up to read aloud to the whole family, and finally (with Mary’s invaluable graphical assistance) sent it off to Lulu for publication, it just seems like time for a celebration of Fugitive, don’t you think?

It’s been so amazing to be the biggest fan of this story from the get-go. This time, I’m actually the only one of my siblings who’s read it all, who knows all that happens (as well as all the backstory, all the characters’ middle names, and all the songs that apply to each respective character/scene/theme). What a great privilege! And although we’ve had our rough patches (like when I get way too happy editing because, hey, I’m getting to write about Ben and it’s just so much fun and I start writing paragraphs and she has to jerk back on the editing reins), it’s been an awesome journey from that first scene written around this time last year (July 10th, to be exact).

David

David watched, almost dazed, the crowds flowing through the Charleston airport, and he wondered what was motivating those people to fly. Life, he supposed. But David hardly knew what that word meant anymore. He was alive yet had never felt so dead. The thought of his own life gnawed at him inside. He sighed deeply, but the more he breathed, the more he felt the weight in his chest.

There’s nothing like creating an ideal character for your favorite actor; and really, David Walton would be (in my humble opinion) Chris Evans’ ultimate role.

MV5BNTk2OGU4NzktODhhOC00Nzc2LWIyNzYtOWViMjljZGFiNTMxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTE1NTQwOTk@__V1_SY1000_CR0,0,768,1000_AL_

Dave, do you need anything? Like some water. . .or a book?” Ben asked, the last part meant as a joke. David just shook his head.

Okay, man,” Ben continued easily, raising his voice to be heard over the engine racket. “But don’t be down, because whatever you are, I am. And I really don’t feel like being sad right now.”

Even as takeoff began and his stomach started churning, David had to smile.

I won’t even get started about Ben Atkins. . .and then you have some other truly amazing characters as well. I could go on and on but I’ll restrain myself.

The book is a little longer than Paint Everything Blue (no, I’m not jealous), twenty-eight chapters, a little over 50,000 words, and will be about 350 pages once Lulu gets around to printing it. And it’s just amazing; gut-wrenching; inspiring; heart-melting (especially Ben!). It’s one of my favorite stories ever.

And what a sweet surprise when I saw that my sometimes-embarrassed-by-emotion dear choleric sister had dedicated the story to me right before sending it off to be published! Shucks. . .what to do but smother her in a hug and embarrass her with emotion!

So now, as I mentioned earlier, she has me reading it aloud to our whole clan, which is really fun (except for the really depressing parts). Apparently I’m pretty good at reading aloud, but I need to slow down when I get nervous and try harder on the characters’ voices. Look, how am I, a young Southern girl, supposed to sound like Chris Evans when I talk? Oh well. One can only try. But it is so awesome, because I love the story (almost more than she does!) and know it so well, and getting to read it aloud with that knowledge and love is really special. And our family loves it. . .big surprise.

So here’s a big congrats and cheers to you, B.B.! I’m so very proud of you and so grateful for this journey together over this last year. Here’s to many more!

June

Introducing. . .One Good Catholic Book!

OGCB

For those of you interested in my writing in other realms besides Ut Cum Electis Videamus, I would like to welcome you over to One Good Catholic Book, my new blog specifically oriented towards the Catholic fiction I love to write, such as my novel Paint Everything Blue.

You’ll find here not only a place to purchase my self-published fiction, catch special sales or discounts and read samples for free, but also my ramblings about writing that fiction, bits and pieces of trivia about completed works and sneak peeks into current projects.

I know I’ll have fun doing it (since I already find myself doing it here!), but if it sounds appealing to you in the least, hop on over and see for yourself!

Also, if you’ve already read some of my fiction and would like to share a review for the benefit of others, please do let me know via email (painteverythingblue@outlook.com) and I’ll post it at One Good Catholic Book! Thanks so much, and God bless!

June

Happy Feast Day, Our Lady of Perpetual Help!

OMPH

“Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a feast in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary: at whose solemnity the angels rejoice and join in praising the Son of God.”

OMPH3

“Thou art all lovely and sweet, O daughter of Sion, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array.”

OMPH1

“Remember, O Virgin Mother, that thou speak good things for us in the sight of God, that He turn away His wrath from us.”

May Our Lady of Perpetual Help bless you with her loving care as she has me! God bless!

June

So that we may not be as strangers. . .

Interior_of_Chiesa_dei_Gesuiti_(Venice)_-_Center_of_the_transept_-_Archangel_Raphael

It’s not that I’m not happy; in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been so aware of the abundance of blessings in my life. It’s not that I’m not loved; I don’t think many people have the kind of love from family and friends that I am so rich with. It’s not that I distrust God’s timing; I am confident that He knows that I need this time of waiting, time to grow and serve Him in ways I may not even be aware of. It’s not that I’m even sure that my vocation is marriage or not; one thing I’ve learned is that, try as I might, I’m not going to know until God gives me that knowledge, knowledge that cannot be simply taken but must be given.

It’s just that I want my partner, and the kind of love that can only be shared by he and I.

Back when I was seventeen or so, I thought I was going through a true longing for a spouse. But  as God has, slowly but steadily, led me step-by-step along this path of vocational discernment, I’ve matured by degrees as a woman, spiritually (I hope), but also emotionally. As Mary’s beautiful courtship with the Dash has progressed, I’ve begun to feel a sort of loneliness I didn’t know when I had her all to myself. You see, Mary and I have always been partners of sorts; and even though my relationships with my younger siblings are just as close and dear, there’s a special level of that partnership with Mary simply because of age. When we were younger and both nervous in public settings, we would hang together and talk about stories we were writing. On long car trips we would sit beside each other and do the same. There were so many things only we knew about each other, so many nights we stayed up way too late, so many inside personal jokes. It was (and still is!) almost frightening to other people what a dynamic duo we make as a team in Taboo.

Now don’t take me wrong, I’m not trying to bemoan the fact that I’ve lost my older sister. Mary does an unbelievable job of spreading her attention, love, and care around (actually, she’s the whole reason I’m writing this post, as you will discover later) to both the Dash and our family, at least as much as is humanly possible when her mind and heart are revolving around a different planet. And the Dash is a dream; he is like an ideal older brother already (he even helps coach me on my ballroom-dance dipping, trying to get me to relax and not be so tense). I couldn’t be more blessed in them both. But one side effect of this whole, beautiful thing is inevitably a sacrifice of that person who used to belong at my side and now belongs at his.

When I spent that week at Ephesus at the beginning of March this year, I was struggling hard to open myself up to what God wanted of me. So many graces, thoughts, emotions, and lessons were tied up in those seven days that I’m still trying to process it every now and then. I recently got a letter from a fellow aspirant whose visit to the Benedictines coincided with mine. We had a great conversation (far out in their garden where we wouldn’t disturb anyone’s silence) while clearing dead bean vines from a fence, made friends, and decided to keep in touch. In her letter the other day, she mentioned she had made another, longer visit to Ephesus.

It’s struck me recently that, as odd as it sounds, I really don’t want to go back.

Upon reflection, it’s becoming easier to see that during that week, I was definitely sensing the peace that pervaded the priory and all the sisters, but it was not reaching into me very far. I was constantly fighting just to get through the week until my family could come pick me up. I was tired, homesick, and lonely. I would be outside and listen to the occasional truck driving down the country roads surrounding the property, and be filled with a longing to get out. To jump into one of those cars and go anywhere. Instead of feeling safe and secluded, I felt imprisoned.

As these memories are unfolding and I am trying to sort through them, I’m beginning to see with a greater clarity and simplicity what was difficult to see in the muddle of my thoughts then. Although I will not deny that my experience was strongly affected by anxiety, homesickness, exhaustion, and the weakness of my flesh in disliking the austerity of things, I think it’s pretty plain to see that there was something missing for me. If it had been meant to be, I think I would have at least felt a peace, some desire to return, some reluctance to leave. I really felt the opposite, and I think it was more than my lack of holiness and love for sacrifice. I did not find my place there.

In the time since then, I’ve been so blessed to be where I am, to know that, at least for now, I’m meant to be here with my family. Different circumstances and events in the past months have just confirmed that God-given intuition that I am where I’m needed. I also still sense that there are many ways left for me to grow from girlhood into womanhood, perhaps known only to God for now. And that’s okay. I have plenty to do, books to write, a house to keep clean, a family to serve and enjoy, a prayer life in continuous need of practice and improvement.

Really, I think there would be something wrong if there weren’t a small cross to carry. I might start to get spoiled, or prideful, or take all these gifts for granted.

So here it is: I find myself thinking that marriage could well be God’s path for me in the future. I find myself, although I’m only nineteen and probably with years of waiting ahead of me, longing for my special someone. Someone to be at my side in crowd settings and keep me from feeling alone. Someone to sit beside on long car trips and talk about baby names with. Someone to dwell on, to give all this love I have waiting inside my heart to, to help grow in holiness, to help me grow in holiness. Someone like my dad. Someone who will make me feel beautiful and cherished, and at the same time keep me from thinking of myself at all. Someone who will tease me but not make me feel silly. Someone who will let me cry on them and know how to make me laugh. Someone who will be a little more adventurous than me and lead me out of my comfort zone.

 couplewalking

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make these feelings and desires out to be anything they’re not. I know they’re the perfectly natural and normal desires of most young women my age, not necessarily indicative of my vocation. But they are nonetheless there, allowed by God to be part of me.

So what’s a gal to do?

I’ve found it helps to confide in your older and wiser sister. Last night while she was doing dishes, I was baking molasses cookies (at the pitiful entreaties of my younger brother whose primary love language seems to be molasses cookies), and most everybody else was outside picking blueberries, I told her just how I had been feeling all day (which wasn’t a surprise; she’s pretty used to hearing it all). At one point in the conversation she asked me if I was still praying to St. Raphael every day. At my bashful, ashamed grin, she shook me by the shoulders. “LENA! YOU NEED TO BE PRAYING THE ANGEL OF HAPPY MEETINGS PRAYER EVERY DAY! ‘LEAD US BY THE HAND TOWARDS THOSE WE ARE WAITING FOR AND THOSE WHO ARE WAITING FOR US! MAY ALL OUR MOVEMENTS, ALL THEIR MOVEMENTS, BE GUIDED BY THY LIGHT AND TRANSFIGURED BY THEIR JOY!’ WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

After this initial outburst of a true St. Raphael devotee, she reassured me she wasn’t trying to thrust her devotion on me. . .but. . .it works! (playfully put). After discovering that I hadn’t read the whole book of Tobit (again, shame shame!), she reminded me of all St. Raphael did for Tobias and Sarah and how happy, holy Catholic marriage is entrusted to his particular care. It was basically a “you dummy, why aren’t you praying to the patron of your trouble” message (delivered in a particularly kind, sanguine sort of way). I tried to deflect blame off myself by pointing out how she had given away the St. Raphael holy card and St. Raphael booklet we used to have to the living Answer to her prayers (I know, as if being without a holy card and book somehow rendered me incapable of practicing a devotion. . .). “We’ll get you another one!” she exclaimed.

As we scarfed down molasses cookies, I felt immensely encouraged. I guess this is another case of hindsight showing me simple things that should have been plain a while ago. . .but better late than never.

800px-110_Tobias_and_the_Angel

Back in that era of life between seventeen and eighteen (which I mentioned before), I joined Mary in praying a couple of different prayers to St. Raphael every day with the same intention. I even promised to name a son after him if he answered my prayers (I know, I was shamelessly bribing an Archangel!) And although my desire certainly wasn’t as mature or certain as Mary’s, and not even as strong or clear as it is now (for what that’s worth), I know he was still listening. I’ve been shamefully negligent towards him since, and yet I get the feeling that the Archangel of Happy Meetings and of Joy hasn’t ceased to watch over me and, if I am meant to be married one day, my special someone, wherever he is.

But I also don’t want to just take St. Raphael for granted any longer; so I am determined to faithfully (and specifically) ask for his intercession each day; that he will lead me by the hand to the vocation God has in store for me, and if that is marriage, that St. Raphael will lead my future husband to me and inspire him to pursue me as soon as God’s will permits (to quote Mary’s exact petition; hey, it worked!). And, already, I am finding comfort under the shadow of those mighty wings, knowing that, whatever happens, I have perhaps the most loving and gentle archangel of all taking care of me and chasing loneliness away.

Here is the beautiful “Angel of Happy Meetings” prayer which I mentioned (and you may have seen on Mary’s blog before). While it could be prayed with a variety of intentions, I think it fits very well with someone waiting for their spouse.

Prayer to the Angel of Happy Meetings

Dear St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead me by the hand towards those I am waiting for, and those who are waiting for me. May all my movements, all their movements be guided by thy light and transfigured by thy joy. Angel guide of Tobias, lay the request I now address to thee at the feet of Him on Whose unveiled Face thou art privileged to gaze. (Mention your request.) Lonely and weary, deeply grieved by the separation and sorrows of earth, I feel the need of calling out to thee and of pleading for the protection of thy wings so that we may not be as strangers in the province of joy.

Remember the weak, thou who art strong, whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.”

May God bless you, and St. Raphael watch over you!

June

Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help begins today!

Desprestaur

I just wanted to drop in and note the start of this beautiful novena today! (Oh, and by the way, here’s to one hundred posts on Ut Cum Electis Videamus!) I know I don’t really have to ramble at further length about Our Lady of Perpetual Help and how much I love her (don’t worry, I’ll save that for her feast day!), but I wanted to share my personal favorite prayer, which I usually pray after Mass before her icon every Sunday.

Novena Prayer

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying.
O purest Mary! O sweetest Mary! Let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips.
Delay not, O blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call upon thee; for in all my needs, in all my temptations, I shall never cease to call upon thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary. O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fills my soul when I pronounce thy sacred name, or even only think of thee!
I thank God for having given thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely pronouncing thy name. Let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee, O Mother of Perpetual Help!

(Recite nine Hail Marys)

angels-67

I highly encourage you to turn to this sweet Mother for help in all of your needs. I pray she blesses you as powerfully with her help as she has me!

“Remember, O Virgin Mother, that thou speak good things for us in the sight of God, that He turn away His wrath from us.”

“I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me. With me are riches and glory, glorious riches and justice. For my fruit is better than gold and the precious stone, and my blossoms than choice silver.”

Thou art all lovely and sweet, O daughter of Sion, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array. The Lord hath blessed thee by His power, because by Thee He hath brought our enemies to nought.”
-From the propers for the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

God bless!

June

O amiable, holy youth! {on the feast of St. Vitus & Companions}

Hl_-Veit
St. Vitus, special protector of chastity, pray for us!

“St. Vitus’ father, Hylas, placed him in early childhood in charge of a Christian couple named Modestus and Crescentia, who raised him in the Christian faith, and had him baptized. He grew in years and in virtue, till, at the age of twelve, he was claimed by his father, who, to his great anger, found him a fervent Christian.”

5 Vitus
That through the intercession of St. Vitus Thou teach us the value of our soul, we beseech Thee, hear us!

“. . .his father delivered him up to Valerian, the governor, who in vain employed every artifice to shake his constancy. Finally he commanded Vitus to be scourged, but when two soldiers were about to execute this order their hands and those of Valerian were suddenly lamed. The governor ascribed this to sorcery, yet he invoked Vitus’ help, and behold, when the Christian boy made the sign of the cross over the lamed members, they were healed. Then Valerian sent him back to his father, telling him to leave no means untried to induce his son to sacrifice to the idols.

“Hylas now tried blandishments, pleasures, and amusements to influence the brave boy. He even sent a corrupt woman to tempt him. . . But Vitus, who had remained firm amid tortures, resisted also the allurements of sensuality. Closing his eyes, he knelt in prayer, and behold, an angel appeared, filling the room with heavenly splendor, and stood at the youth’s side. Terrified, the woman fled. But even this miracle did not change the obstinate father.”

pls-Saint-Vitus-etc

“Finally Vitus escaped, and with Modestus and Crescentia fled to Italy. They. . .there proclaimed Christ wherever they had an opportunity. Their fervor and many miracles which they wrought attracted the attention of Emperor Diocletian to them. . .they were cruelly tormented, but with no other result than confirming them in their constancy. Enraged, the emperor condemned them to be thrown to the wild beasts. But the lions and tigers forgot their ferocity and cowered at their feet.”

Vitus-e1399562150528

“Now Diocletian, whose fury knew no bounds, ordered them to be cast into a caldron of molten lead and boiling pitch. They prayed, ‘O God, deliver us through the power of Thy name!’ and behold, they remained unharmed. Then the emperor condemned them to the rack, on which they expired, in the year 303.”

StCrescentia
St. Crescentia (I couldn’t find one of St. Modestus!)

“The heroic spirit of martyrdom exhibited by St. Vitus was owing to the early impressions of piety which he received through the teaching and example of his virtuous foster-parents. . .What a happiness for a child to be formed to virtue from infancy, and to be instilled from a tender age with the spirit of piety, simplicity, meekness, and mercy! Such a foundation being well laid, the soul will easily, and sometimes without experiencing severe conflicts, rise to the height of Christian perfection.”

-The Fourteen Holy Helpers by Fr. Bonaventure Hammer

Happy, happy feast of Ss. Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia! What an amazing story and an inspiration, especially for Catholic parents and godparents striving to raise their children to be saints! If I had such a thing as favorites among the Fourteen Holy Helpers, St. Vitus would be right up there at the top (I mean, he’s the littlest one, and therefore the most special, in a way, right? I have a feeling the other thirteen have a very special affection for him.)

I first met St. Vitus when Portraits of Saints first released his beautiful image (above, second from the top) last year. I wanted to know who the curly-haired martyr holding the chicken was (by the way, although it isn’t mentioned by Fr. Bonaventure, I believe the chicken symbol comes from the fact that a rooster was thrown into the boiling cauldron with Vitus as a superstitious antidote against his ‘sorcery’). The more I’ve learned since then, the more I’ve loved him. His story has reaffirmed my belief in just how seriously parents ought to take their responsibility and privilege of not only instructing their children in the Faith, but of cultivating those precious seeds of faith and piety in the fertile soil of their child’s pure heart, which can grow most easily there into the charity of a martyr. If God calls me to motherhood, I have a feeling I will be invoking the aid of this foster-family of Saints very often!

Prayer in Honor of St. Vitus

Grant us, O God, through the intercession of St. Vitus, a due estimation of the value of our soul and of its redemption by the precious blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ; so that, for its salvation, we bear all trials with fortitude. Give this Thy youthful servant and heroic martyr as a guide and protector to Christian youths, that following his example they may after a victorious combat receive the crown of justice in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Invocation of St. Vitus

St. Vitus, glorious martyr of Christ; in thy youth thou wast exposed to violent and dangerous temptations, but in the fear of God and for the love of Jesus thou didst victoriously overcome them. O amiable, holy youth, I implore thee by the love of Jesus,  assist me with thy powerful intercession to overcome the temptations to evil, to avoid every occasion of sin, and thus to preserve spotless the robe of innocence and sanctifying grace, and to bring it unstained to the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, that I may forever enjoy the beatific vision of God which is promised to the pure of heart. Amen.

Prayer in Honor of Ss. Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to graciously grant us through the intercession of Thy blessed martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia, that we may not proudly exalt ourselves, but serve Thee in humility and simplicity, so as to avoid evil and to do right for Thy sake. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

God bless, and happy feast!

August · June

A Young Lady’s Daybook. . .catching up!

Living the Liturgical Year. . .

St-barnabé-veronese-rouen

Happy Feast of St. Barnabas, the son of encouragement! May this holy martyr fill our hearts today with joy and courage in following Christ as dauntlessly as he did!

Also, happy month of the Sacred Heart! The Heart of Jesus is just the most beautiful devotion I can think of. One just has to think of the names given in the Litany of the Sacred Heart to be filled with a sense of the Treasure of those who give their hearts in exchange for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. House of God and Gate of Heaven; Abyss of Virtues; Desire of the eternal hills; Salvation of those who hope in Thee; Hope of those who die in Thee. 

While on this note about the liturgical year, I thought I would acknowledge how much I’ve blown it with novenas around here (not to mention blown off posting altogether!). But life happens, and there’s certainly been a whole lot of life going on around here this month. I had the full intention to post St. Erasmus’ novena, but ended up going out of town the day it began. I wanted to post on his feast day, but we were moving me into the girls’ room and my desk and computer were temporarily blockaded with other furniture for a few days. And. . .because I was praying the St. Erasmus novena I completely missed the start of the Sacred Heart one. And then I missed the start of St. Vitus’ novena by a couple of days and thus failed to post it (though I’m still personally offering a seven-day novena. . .a septena?. . .because I don’t think he’ll mind, and I really love St. Vitus).

You know how sometimes it just seems like things you’d really love to do just aren’t meant to be? God knows best. . .

Anyway. . .as I did with St. George back in April, I’ve begun using the novenas from Fr. Bartholomew Hammer’s book The Fourteen Holy Helpers. These are just about the most beautiful novenas I’ve ever read, and are certainly helping me to nurture my devotion to the Holy Helpers. I’ll be sure to share (God willing!) some of the prayers to St. Vitus on his upcoming feast day.

Outside my window. . .

It’s a rather gray day, but I’m sure it’s still plenty warm out. Everything is full and leafy and green, Mom’s roses and hydrangeas are in bloom (have I ever mentioned how much I love hydrangeas? I think they’re almost my favorite flower, pretty close to carnations!), and we’ve been enjoying some wonderful swimming weather, sprinkled intermittently with quick and powerful summer showers. I love strong rain (as long as I’m not stranded out in it!) in the summertime. (Yes, I’m aware it’s not quite summer yet, but if you lived where I live you’d hate to call these temperatures spring!)

Sounds of home. . .

Not long ago, I was hearing the sounds of Mary faithfully giving our bathroom a wonderful clean, with Frank Sinatra cheerfully crooning from her computer. Now she’s gone, probably switching her laundry around, and I’ve taken over Spotify with Thad Fiscella’s beautiful piano. I guess I haven’t mentioned Mr. Fiscella’s music here yet; but I’ve completely fallen in love with it! I happened to discover a song of his a while back on Spotify radio (The Road Home) and soon was adding his albums, one after another, to our library. I’ve always been a sucker for piano, but there’s something special about this guy’s stuff.

I’m fully aware that I can’t really write music on piano, but if I could, it would sound just like his songs! What I’m trying to say is that, at least as a musician listening to others’ music, I often find myself wishing they’d made a different choice of notes, chords, transitions, etc. But this guy makes all the choices I would if I could write piano music! It’s really cool. . .he must be melancholic 🙂 My favorite songs number among Annie’s Song, Angel Kisses, October Fade, Forever (The Proposal). . . I could really go on and on here.

I am wearing. . .

Ha. Pajamas. What else? This must give a really bad impression about my lifestyle. I am productive, I promise. It’s just a relaxed style of productivity, in which pajamas are acceptable. (Maybe it’s a writer thing. . .a lot of Paint Everything Blue, my current novel-in-the-works, and the majority of my blog posts are written in pajamas. If it works. . .)

 From the bakery. . .

Well, back on the feast of the Sacred Heart I really wanted to make something festive. Feast days are always more special with some sort of symbolic, delicious, commemorative dessert, right? Right.

Remembering how cute the St. Nicholas cookies turned out back in December, I dug up the recipe and determined to make a Sacred Heart version; a lightly sweet gingerbread cookie, iced with lovely shades of red and gold and as cute as can be. A liturgical-minded baker’s dream.

I will say that I was exceedingly proud of how they looked (I need to find the pictures my brother took so I can share them here). I will also say that it’s really not a good idea to divide your attention between two of your favorite things in the world: baking cookies and watching a western.

Nanny_and_the_Professor_Richard_Long_1970

It was totally Jarrod Barkley’s fault. I mean, when the most compelling episode ever of The Big Valley is playing in the living room, and you’re in the kitchen listening to one of your favorite characters struggling to overcome a tragic temporary blindness. . .you’re apt to get distracted from the cookies. And. . .maybe forget the butter you melted in the microwave. . .and then wonder why your dough is nothing but dry crumbs that won’t stick together, and your first batch of cookies has the delicate consistency of cardboard.

My younger sister really saved the day, as she discovered the butter in the microwave in time for me to remedy my dough and save most of the cookies. She also decided she liked the cardboard cookies better than the normal ones, so she took care of those and we didn’t have to throw them out. How about that? There are so many really useful facets of family life. But yes. I’ve learned my limits as a multitasker.

From the writer’s desk. . .

There is nothing quite so fun as getting into Chapter Three of a novel and realizing that what you’ve been working on for weeks is more than a scribble, an attempted beginning of just another story, a spark of an idea quickly fading. It’s growing into a book! Your characters are gaining depth and color! You’re investing your imagination and time into a story you know is worth writing. Dialogue is spouting like crazy from somewhere in your mind until you find yourself muttering conversations when no one else is around (at least, I do. . .)

I don’t know exactly how it will look and feel and take shape in the end; but I do know that I’m happy as a tick to be working on another book!

Also, I’ve been thinking on ways to attract more attention to Paint Everything Blue. . .more on that to come. By the way, if you’ve read it already and enjoyed it, I’d be so grateful if you’d spread the word around! Also, if anyone would be willing to take the time to write a short review of it and email it to me at painteverythingblue@outlook.com, I’m hoping to set up another blog just for the sale of my book in the near future and might use your feedback there, if you’re willing! That would be just fantastic.

Prayerfully. . .

Contemplating the faithfulness and patience of God in keeping His promises. Thanking Him for the sunshine after rain, the love of my family, and for the difficult times and storms when He is all we have and prayer is our greatest comfort. What a gift those storms are, just as much as the calm that follows them! Deo Gratias!

May God bless you!

May

More than Memory

1280px-3rd_Battalion_3rd_Marines_dawn_patrol

Please remember to pray today for all our nation’s military, past, present, and future, especially those who are deceased and the families grieving for them. We all owe them so much, and our prayers, gratitude, and constant memory of them are the least we can give. Maybe this memorial day is the most powerful one for me yet because one of my best friends is away at boot camp, and the void of his presence with us brings the sacrifice of every soldier into my life in a real way. Please pray for him as well!

I thought I would share a poem I wrote several years ago in honor of soldiers, especially veterans suffering the loss of comrades and dealing with survivor’s guilt. I wrote it after the pattern of Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, as a sort of dialogue between the grieving survivor and the soul of his lost brother (the latter’s words being in italics). Whatever it’s worth as a poem, I wrote it with love, and that love for our military has only grown in my heart, and I hope will always continue to grow. May God bless them all!

More than Memory


Is there a day when bruises heal,
War’s fingerprints cease to reveal
A frail survivor left alone,
The loneliness that I now feel?

And is this grieving all my own,
Locked within my skin and bone?
Tears sealed behind my eyes to burn
With all the names of those I’ve known?

And do survivors ever learn
To feel the joy their fight should earn,
To view the world again as a child,
When alone from darkness they return?

Do you still remember how to smile?
Do you remember the faith that no fear can defile?
Do you remember the songs to the sky we sent
Through the harshness of every mile?

I rode out with you against the sin,
To keep the Light of stars in men,
Don’t abandon the hope I died to leave,
Hold to the good I left you to defend.

For there is more left than remembering,
More than burial songs for you to sing,
You are not alone—you stand in sunrise,
In a Love that is more than memory.

I feel a song in my throat revive
Warmer still than the tears I’ve cried,
For there is more than memory,
For there is more than memory.

May

Simple Humility

21807-Bouguereau,William-Adolphe

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
-C. S. Lewis

Sometimes, it seems as though humility is the one virtue I could use most, long for most, and the most elusive. Yet humility is simple in its very nature; why, then, does it seem so tricky at times? It’s easy to think I’m being very humble by dwelling in frustration on my faults and shortcomings, when in fact that frustration and accompanying discouragement are nothing but pride in disguise. Sometimes I mistake healthy confidence or pleasure in the talents God has given me for pride. Then, every once in a while, a real humiliation comes along, a real taste of that wonderfully bittersweet virtue, and uncovers the truth about what I thought to be humility or pride before.

As much as I long to be a humble person, sometimes it’s a very frightening thing to actually pray for humility. I often find myself praying, “Lord, please make me humble. . .but gently, Lord!” (And you know, He always is. . .)

I think there’s a lot in the quote above that helps to round out my perspective of the queen of virtues. I believe that one of the (apparently) trickiest things about humility is that the more you really have, the less you think you have, because you’re not thinking about yourself anyway. There isn’t a truly humble person in the world who is proud of themselves for being humble, if you think about it for a second. So it’s almost an invisible virtue, to oneself, because by its nature it turns you away from yourself and towards God and others.

My amazing parish priest often gives me wonderful advice in Confession (yeah, you can probably guess what I’m confessing!) about humility; the two greatest weapons he’s ever discovered against pride are gratitude and generosity, the two G’s. Gratitude, because everything we have that is good in itself comes from God, and we’d never have it if He hadn’t given it freely. Generosity, because it’s the opposite of pride and selfishness, and puts that gratitude into action. Really, I think this is brilliant, because gratitude first turns the soul to God, and generosity turns it to others. There’s no room for the pride that thinks about self in either of them.

 You know, maybe humility seems confusing to me sometimes because I’m the one that’s overly complicated, while humility is simple, virtue is simple. God is simple.

When I slow down a little, pray, and choose not to be afraid of seeking after humility, it can become very clear, hiding in the little choices. Even something as simple as talking with charity or admiration of someone else, as opposed to mentioning myself in conversation, instantly puts me in a good disposition towards humility. Or praying for others before praying for myself. Letting someone else go through a door first. Being happy to listen to or watch others do something I’m good at and would like to be doing. Really, these things seem so small that often I hardly notice the choice I make, the choice that inevitably leads either to pride or humility.

I guess it follows that the more I am content to be little and simple, focused on the little and simple, the better I will be able to choose humility, and perhaps eventually even be truly humble enough not to think of myself at all, but choose humility habitually. (I know, like by the time I die!)

I guess one of the elements of my state in life right now where I see the greatest need for humility in myself is just the not knowing (which I talk about endlessly here; sorry!), the having been wrong often about what I thought I wanted, what I thought God wanted. I’ve been so certain at times that I knew what His will was, and yet He’s had better plans. While it’s certainly not sinful to be wrong, it’s unpleasant, frustrating, and discouraging. Will I ever really know anything? Should I even have dreams and desires if there’s no certainty they’re going to come true?

Pride says no, I don’t ever want to be proved wrong again! But humility, with a softer voice, encourages me not to be afraid to entrust those dreams to the God Who is not only a God but a Father. Why should it irk me that He knows better than I do, especially when He holds me, dreams and all, with infinite tenderness in His own Heart?

Pride has no room for a love like that, but humility, like an open flower facing the sun, spreads her arms to it, is filled by it, and eventually knows nothing but it. That’s what I want.

 sun-flower_3298

O Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine!

God bless!
In our loving Lady,
Lena

May

{pretty, happy, funny, real} kitchen cleaning edition

phfr

Disclaimer: this is not my original idea! I just love the concept of this post series from Like Mother, Like Daughter, and have wanted to imitate it for a while. On a whim I threw together a logo, using a free monogram-making site my younger sister is in love with. . .anyway, hope you enjoy!

{pretty}

Floor

Kitchen

Sometimes I find myself wondering what the most productive way to spend my morning hours is. The answer does vary greatly from day to day. I love it, thought, when it is delightfully clear, like today, when the kitchen was just crying out for a good clean. A busy weekend coupled with the start of the last week of school before summer break (yay!) can have a disastrous effect on the state of the kitchen. And with Mom and my two younger siblings working away at the schoolbooks, and Mary heads down on a deadline-related project, the privilege of kitchen cleaning fell to yours truly. It was that perfectly delightful invitation to deep clean; I mean the going-through-the-nameless-stacks-of-mail-on-the-sidebar-and-mopping kind of deep cleaning; promising that satisfaction, perhaps known only to the feminine heart, of a gleaming kitchen and a few hours well spent on domestic work. I don’t know if it’s best termed domesticity, industry, or nesting, but it’s a very useful gift to the woman at home. There is something thrilling about a clean kitchen.

{happy}

Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago today, my mom and dad were enjoying their first full day as a married couple on their honeymoon! It has truly been a joyful time this month, celebrating their silver anniversary and the wonderful witness of lasting love, joy, and faithfulness their marriage is, especially to us, their children. I am just so grateful for them, and love them both so much! I pray that, if I am called to be married one day, I will be a wife just like my mom and find a man just like my dad!

{funny}

Living room

This is what the living room looked like as the kitchen got all my elbow grease. . .oh well, I suppose it’s a case of shoveling in the proverbial snowstorm. There’s always something new to clean! (I did move the chairs and barstools back to the kitchen; but the living room still needs some TLC! Tomorrow. . .)

{real}

mop

When you finish mopping and have to wonder in alarm when the last time you mopped was. . .honestly I can’t remember. . .yikes! But it’s still satisfying to see all that dirt which is no longer on your floor.

Hope you’ve had a blessed and beautiful morning as well! God bless!

In our Loving Lady,
Lena

May

Ribbons in my hair {embracing an accurate self-image}

“. . .he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass:
for he beheld himself and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.”
-James 1

You know, it’s funny how easy it can be to have an inaccurate mental image of what one really looks like. Really, even mirrors and photographs are just two-dimensional shadows of my appearance as it’s known by those who are around me. They leave room for imagining things in. Everyone probably does that. But as I grow older, and closer to looking the way I’ll probably look for the foreseeable future, I’m beginning to realize, and to embrace, a truer picture of my looks.

You see, I’ve always pictured myself as something of an elvish maiden. . .

elf

 . . .but, really, I seem to be a hobbit lass.

Rosie

There are those things about yourself that you just never see coming until they’re part of you. Like the need to wear glasses pretty much anytime you want to focus on something. Or short, quite curly hair.

My short hair is kind of a funny story, in that I persuaded (on a whim. . .imagine that. . .) my mom to cut off eleven inches of it the week before I visited Ephesus. I was ready for a change. I’ve been blessed with an overabundance of thick hair that seems to be quite healthy, and so whenever I cut it I’m blessed to be able to donate it. But that wasn’t the main motive, I must confess.

I was going to be a nun. I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to be thinking about, not to mention trying to attract, boys anymore. Hacking one’s hair off just seems the thing to do in such an instance, doesn’t it?

Well, as soon as those eleven inches of weight were gone, up came the curls. I mean curls, too, like Mary’s curls, except short. The funny thing was, though, that everyone seemed to think it suited me better than long, wavy hair anyway. My mom told me with a smile that she didn’t think cutting it had had the desired effect. Oh well, I thought. It felt nice to have all that weight off. But when I came back from Ephesus with a new outlook on the foreseeable future of my life, and my current state in it, I was really kind of glad that the short, curly look seemed to be becoming on me. Now I am just mastering the art of how to fix it, ‘learning my hair’ as one says.

So that’s that for hair. When I was a little girl, I never dreamed about how wonderful it would be to be the shortest member of my family. After all, who does? Rather, I always thought “tall and slender” sounded nice.

As it turns out, I’m neither tall nor slender, and I probably won’t become so–certainly not the tall part, as the only height change likely to occur for me in the future is the shrinking and settling of old age. I don’t know what my ideal height was when I was little and thought of growing tall, but I’m pretty sure it was higher than 5’3″. But that seemed to be God’s ideal! I don’t think I’m really overweight, but I also know I’m not some lettuce-eating stick. I’m part Irish and I like my potatoes.

Then there’s dancing. From what I’ve been told, bouncing would be a more accurate word than gliding when it comes to describing the way I dance. Far more like a hobbit than an elf princess! And you know, I think I’m going to wear ribbons in my short, curly hair the next time I dance.

I don’t intend to sound self-deprecating in the least. This little journey is all about learning how God has made me, and to me, the transformation of my mental self-image from elf to hobbit is really an exciting and refreshing one. Truth will always set you free and help you stop trying to be someone you are not. Both Arwen and Rosie Cotton are beautiful, feminine, charming, and graceful in their own ways. Arwen may have ended up with Aragorn, but Rosie got Sam.

So yes, you may notice shortly that I am changing my user ID (which I do every few months, when I get the itch for a change!) to Rosie with Ribbons, to help me remember my hobbit side and work to cultivate a femininity that includes bouncing curls and ribbons in them!

Hobbithole

God bless, and happy feast of the Ascension!

May

Ever new {spiritual direction helps!}

Salt Lake Desert

“Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
. . .For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
‘In returning and in rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength’
. . .Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.”
-Isaias 29 & 30

I am so grateful for the gift of monthly spiritual direction, which I’ve had recourse to for two whole years now! Time is a strange thing; it can seem so slow in the present looking towards the future, yet in retrospect it has flown. It has already been a year since my graduation from high school! My Franciscan father has guided and nurtured my soul through ups and downs, in varying vocational paths, and through (I hope!) much growing.

It was really time for a meeting last night, and after Confession I was ready to unload the struggle on my heart, which will come as no surprise to you–the struggle of waiting. The patience. The monotony. The uneventfulness. Simply put, the same old, same old, while I just don’t know. I don’t what’s going to happen, what vocational path is mine, what God wants me to do with my life. I just don’t know.

And I want to know! Even if it can’t happen yet! Even if it’s not what I want to hear! There is a stubborn part of me that wants to know.

After expressing this to Father, he kind of smiled with a very humble and kind I-told-you-so expression. Then I remembered that he had kind of warned me this would happen at our last meeting. He knew then that I was, at that point, just a couple weeks home from Ephesus, and was buoyed up with the newness of all those very real, very special graces I’d received. Everything–my family, my home, my life as a young woman at home, was flooded with a new light. Not rose-colored, just new. And he also wisely knew that the feeling of newness would fade away into a dryness.

Just remembering that he’d predicted it made me feel better right away. It just makes sense. Doesn’t make it necessarily easy; but sometimes, just knowing exactly what you’re dealing with can make embracing the Cross a lot more simple.

It seems that whenever I come to him with my woes, my dad always ends up pointing me to the hidden life of Christ, quoting Fr. Leo Clifford: “For thirty years, He did nothing.” I need to be told it over and over again, obviously; but this must be exactly what God wants me to be thinking on, because it’s just what Father brought up.

James_Tissot_The_Youth_of_Jesus_700

It is rather encouraging to think that Christ spent thirty years at home. More than encouraging; amazing. For thirty years, He was pretty much doing what I am doing. He was at home, hidden but growing. He was certainly about His Father’s business in every moment of His human life upon earth, and certainly He longed for the coming of the three years of public ministry, and finally for the Cross, Resurrection, and beginning of His Church. Yet He spent thirty years waiting; thirty years in the same monotony of every day at home; thirty years of internal stillness, dryness.

It’s easy for me to fall into longing for sensational, exciting things to happen; for fireworks inside, as Father put it, in any form. Yet right now it seems that I am on a very gentle, barely noticeable slope. There are mountains and valleys somewhere in the distance, but most of the journey ahead will be rather flat, rather dry under a hot sun, rather the same as I walk along.

Maybe this sounds a little depressing, but I am extremely encouraged. Why? Well, Father pointed out a beautiful analogy to me about this dryness, flatness, whatever you want to call it. When things are dry beneath a hot sun, you begin to sweat. In the same way, God uses the dry times to bring good things out of us, almost like squeezing water from a sponge.

Christ could not possibly stagnate, but was always fruitful, and so those thirty years couldn’t have been just miserable for Him. There was a particular grace and glory that belonged to those years; dry, monotonous, difficult as they probably were. Father assured me that, in this sort of dryness when everything feels the same and nothing seems to be happening, God is at a work in me which, although I cannot perceive it as new, is constantly new. It is hidden, but present nonetheless–like Christ in Nazareth.

April

Twelve years ago today. . .

therese2-cal3

It’s no wonder that April is my favorite month of the year. Spiritually, I was both born and married in April!

Twelve Aprils ago to the date, I was a seven-year-old sprite approaching the Lord of Heaven and Earth for the first time in Holy Communion. I would love to claim that I was as prepared and pure and afire of soul as St. Therese or Blessed Imelda Lambertini or Little Nellie of Holy God, but, though my mother prepared me very well, I know that’s not true!

sacrament3

I would love to look back on my First Holy Communion as taking place in the Old Rite, on my knees at an altar rail, surrounded by the same quiet and solemnity and awe of the First Communion that took place at our parish a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t (although my parents instructed me to receive on my tongue, unlike the majority of my Communion class. Thank heavens!!!).

I can remember the very moment, the first time I experienced the most intimate union with God possible upon earth. I think I was expecting a blinding flash of light and tears and scales to fall from my eyes. . .no, that didn’t happen. Looking back now I smile at my dramatic side, at my uninformed imagination, my funny ideas. But I have no regrets. Christ did insist, “Let the children come to me,” and I was very, very much a child! He wanted me that day to become His tabernacle forever, even with all of my manifold imperfections, silliness, and ignorance. He wanted to be with me–and He still does. That makes the anniversary I celebrate today one of the most amazing days of my life.

It is amazing to look back at the patience He has had with me over these twelve years of being bonded to Him in the Holy Eucharist. Of course, it is a mystical union, an invisible relationship that will never be fully grasped by my poor senses or finite mind–Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui. Let faith supply assistance to our deficient senses! In coming to me in Holy Communion, pretty much at least every week over the past twelve years, God has been closer to me than I have ever realized. Whether or not I had prepared myself well, let my thoughts wander, was under an agonizing attack of scruples, or barely thought of Him the whole time, He was unchangingly here. Upon my tongue. In my breast. For a quarter of an hour, Heaven came to me.

What a sobering reality. What an immense love.

I cannot begin to express how grateful I am that somehow, my parents knew we should make receiving Holy Communion on the tongue the norm for our family, even though that certainly wasn’t taught at our old parish. There were a few times I did receive him in my hands out of ignorance–and still He has come.

Looking back at just the past two years of life, from the time when our family began to attend the Extraordinary Form, I am amazed to see how my Holy Communions have been given so many helps to flourish. The quiet, the lengthy time for both preparation and thanksgiving, veiling and modesty, the reverence of those around me, kneeling at the altar rail, receiving just from the consecrated hands of the priest–every one of these things has deepened my ability to be present to the presence of God. Of course our Lord knows we are nothing but dust, and  are easily distracted (at least I am!), but on our end, we should be doing everything in our power to give Him our utmost attention, reverence, love, and surrender. There is no relationship parallel to the one Catholics possess with the Eucharistic Jesus–it is beyond comparison, even with the purest and most intense marital love. Those fifteen minutes are the most important moments of our lives–they are the touching of time and eternity. They are our practice for Heaven, our foretaste of the Beatific Vision.

hc148

I wish that I could make the world believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  I wish I could shed my blood to prevent just one of the sacrileges and abuses that abound against Him in His Divine Vulnerability. I wish no one would put limits on their idea of God’s generosity, as if we could conceive of something too great or precious for God to give, even after what He did for us in His Passion and death. How frustrating to His love, when He longs to lavish us with such unfathomable blessings, and we simply will not receive them! I wish everyone would take God at His word: as St. Cyril of Jerusalem said, “If Christ Himself has said: This is my Body, who will dare to doubt that it is, indeed, His Body?”

I wish everyone had what I have: me, so unworthy of Him! I wish He had possession of every human heart, the hearts He desires so much that He gives His own in exchange for them.

Christ

He is there, whether we believe it or not, whether we approach Him or not, whether we care or not. He is always there, in the tabernacle and upon the altar, as He promised: I am with you until the end of time. Without that presence, the world would not hold together. The Church would have long ago fallen to the gates of Hell. We would all be lost and our attempts at virtue, if we even attempted, would be nothing but jokes. I know that without His Eucharistic presence, I would not have grown from the sorrows in my life, overcome my scrupulosity, or had the courage to cling to Him during the difficulties of my week at Ephesus. I cannot even imagine my world without that Presence. It would be a world without a sun.

Christ knows that nothing but Himself is great enough to satisfy the hunger of our soul, and so He gives us Himself as food. In face of such an unfathomable love, we must not be indifferent, and we must also not be so afraid of our nothingness that we don’t approach Him. He is not afraid of it!

This morning, I dug out my little trunk of special possessions (and upon doing so wondered why most of the stuff in there once counted as special possessions. . .who knows. . .), and found the little pouch that contains a couple of most special letters from my parents. One of them, in my dad’s unmistakable handwriting, was written just before my First Holy Communion. I treasure it more now than I ever have, just as my love for the Eucharist, and for my dad, has grown with me. I want to share just a little of it with you so you know what a wonderful dad I have. . .

“My darling Lena,
I’m glad that you are approaching your 1st Holy Communion with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. . .Daddy will be praying hard for you to always love, know, and serve Jesus. You are a great blessing in my life and I will always love you. Jesus loves you more than 10,000 of me — and I want you to love Him the most. . .I want you to have everlasting life with Jesus — and He is “the Bread of Life”! Welcome to the great banquet my love!
I love you,

Daddy”

This was exactly what my father told me at the beginning of last month when he held me and then let go outside the doors of Ephesus. Neither of us knew where Jesus was leading us that night–apart or together–but, then just as twelve years before, he chose to believe that Jesus loved me more than 10,000 of him could and wanted me to love Him the most. Okay, I’m about to cry. . .

What an amazing life I have, because of the Divine Spouse that has taken my heart from my youth to be His own! What an amazing security to know that, wherever He leads, He will not only be the road, the destination, and the Companion: He will be the Food for the journey as well. He will never leave me, and He will always be enough!

PhotoScan (2)

Thank You, Jesus!