Come Over to Me

Mother of Perpetual Help
“I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.”

Happy feast day of our Lady of Perpetual Help!

“Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival day in honor of the blessed Virgin Mary, on whose solemnity the Angels rejoice and give praise to the Son of God.” (from the Introit for today’s Mass)

I was first attracted to our beautiful Mother under her title “Lady of Perpetual Help” two Octobers ago. We were on our way to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor as part of my vocational discernment, and we stopped at my grandparent’s house for the night. I had remembered my dad mentioning that they have an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in their bedroom, one they’ve had for years, and I caught a glimpse of it while we were staying with them.

 I was very nervous and excited about the trip, and was soliciting all the heavenly help I could for my discernment; so, as we got into the car and prepared to start for the convent, I whispered a prayer in my heart to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, asking her to help me as I sought to discover and discern clearly my vocation. I didn’t expect a whole devotion to grow from that one little prayer, but it has turned out to be the mustard seed, in whose branches I pray that one day the birds of paradise will dwell.

We reached the Little Sister’s residence just in time to be warmly greeted by the Sister I’d become friends with (and still am!), to dump our luggage in our rooms and then go to Mass. As we headed into the chapel, whose image do you think was smiling sweetly and calmly at me right near the doors?

“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.” (Gradual for today’s Mass)

I came home, uncertain of anything but that that trip had totally been planned by God with a purpose in mind for our whole family, covered with graces. All that winter and the following spring, I continued to keep in touch with the Little Sisters, to learn and pray about their life, to (less than patiently most of the time) wait for another sign, another opportunity to move further along in my discernment. Finally I came to realize that I was in need of spiritual direction, of the guidance of a priest much wiser than myself. And who else but Father L., a dear Franciscan priest who had already been such a channel of grace to me the year before in my struggles with scrupulosity? I got Dad to contact him, and again waited less than patiently for our first appointment. And, lo and behold, when he welcomed me and my parents into the office that has hosted most of our meetings for more than a year now, a large and beautiful icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help gazed right down on me. Of course, her image was there when we’d met a year prior to this, but I hadn’t had the eyes to see her. Now I did.

My journey with spiritual direction thus far has been a beautiful and rose-filled one, as under her gentle eyes, I have (hopefully) grown, and been led from discerning religious life into discernment of the married state. My dear Mother has spared no extravagances in continually reassuring me of her presence. It seemed as if everywhere I went, she had an icon somewhere, waiting for me to notice her. When, last Trinity Sunday, we embarked on the infinite seas of the Latin Mass and became part of our current parish, I discovered to my delight the largest image of my Perpetual Helper I’d seen yet, just to the right of the St. Joseph Altar. Some of the dearest friends we’ve come to know and love through our parish have her icon in their homes. When we went to a dance last fall, hosted by a lovely, large Catholic family, one of the first things I saw was a gorgeous icon of her, from their Catholic art company (visit them here), which I had just enough money to place the highest bid on; it was really almost robbery (sorry guys!); but it just felt like providential robbery. Now I have her beautiful image always over my bed, and some very dear friends besides.

 I have already mentioned my Total Consecration to Mary, which I first made last December on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was recommended by St. Louis De Montfort in his book that a soul who belongs to Mary through this devotion should renew his consecration at least yearly. I was planning to do it once a whole year had passed, until my sister mentioned that she was going to renew her consecration early. Oh! I thought. You can do that?

When I first consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary according to St. Louis’ practice, I was overwhelmed by his writings, by the beautiful 33-day period of preparation, and the consecration itself. I consider it one of the most important days of my life, next to Baptism and First Holy Communion. Anyone who has not been blessed by reading some of St. Louis’ writings on Our Lady must take advantage of this saint, who was a treasure-chest of knowledge about the House of Gold. I pray that everyone will embrace this devotion to Our Lady, by which we give ourselves completely and irrevocably to her sweet Heart, so that we may belong completely to Jesus through her, so that she may do exactly what she pleases with us and thus bring infinitely more glory to God by our lives than we ever could left to our own devices.

And so, this past month I have gone again through the period of preparation, and have been drawn closer and closer to Our Lady and received graces I could never have imagined. This morning, after praying along with the Mass of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I renewed my Consecration to this most beautiful Mother of mercy, this Virgin most faithful, this Perpetual helper whose heart is now my home. She has made herself my fortress, my strength, my song, and my secure road to Jesus. I know I will never, ever regret having given myself and all that I have to her. It has been the greatest blessing.

Queen of Angels, Queen of all Saints, pray for us!

Last night I met with my spiritual director, and mentioned to him how I was looking forward to renewing my consecration on the morrow. With a smile he told me to savor the thought of how much God loves me, to have, just as I am beginning a new chapter of my life, given me to Mary.

I know that for the rest of my life, my Perpetual Helper, my Sweet Star, will hold my hand as I seek my vocation, travel its long or brief road, and make the final voyage to the Eternal Shore where she awaits me, the Gate of Heavenly Rest.

“Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits; for my spirit is sweet above honey, and mine inheritance above honey and the honey-comb. My memory is unto everlasting generations. They that eat me, shall yet hunger; and they that drink me, shall yet thirst. He that hearkeneth to me shall not be confounded, and they that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting.” Ecclus. 24

  In the end, it was a simple exchange, myself for Mary. And how could I think twice about that?


Thank you, Lord, for. . .

21122-Bouguereau, William-Adolphe

. . .the gifts You shower my days with, that I pay so little heed to most of the time, that I so easily forget in the busyness; like a single Communion, the love I share with my family, the simple pleasures of housewifely things like cooking and cleaning, the beauty of music, the treasures of the traditional liturgy, the hidden glories of prayer, the soft bed waiting for me to fall into it, the ever-so-gentle reminders that excite and encourage my charity to grow. Thank You, Father, for Your patience. Thank You for all of the little things that are infinitely big. Good night.


With Overflowing Charity ~ Corpus Christi and St. Vitus

“Be our servant, and we will serve you.”

First of all, happy Feast of Corpus Christi! This is undoubtedly one of the most special of all feasts because it celebrates one of the most infinite of God’s gifts: the Blessed Sacrament. While in the Church today this feast is usually scooted to the following Sunday, in the old calendar it was always celebrated on a Thursday, which makes a lot of sense considering that the Holy Eucharist was instituted on a Thursday. Thus at our parish this evening we’ll be having a High Mass of Corpus Christi (our High Masses occur about once a month right now), for which those of us in the choir have a lot of music planned–say a prayer for us!

Besides being Corpus Christi this year, June 15th is very special to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is my grandparent’s 60th Wedding Anniversary–Deo Gratias!!! What an example of faithfulness, love, sacrifice, and perseverance they have set for all of us by the grace of God!

Secondly, it is also the feast day of Sts. Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia, Martyrs. (Yes, I know; I am a complete obscure-Saint-nerd.) As you may know (and have probably seen from my sidebar) Saint Vitus is honored as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of early saints and martyrs who were invoked during the Black Death and who are credited with helping to bring about its end. Later on in the fifteenth century, they appeared to a Bavarian shepherd as a group of fourteen children to ask for a shrine in their honor. “Be our servant,” one of them told the shepherd, “And we will serve you.”

While the Fourteen Holy Helpers have only two parishes dedicated to them in the U.S., and they’re certainly not a familiar name in most Catholic households (though I hope one day they will be in mine), I did manage to stumble across their story recently in a book we’ve had for some time, Treasury of Catholic Stories, published by Our Sunday Visitor. It completely intrigued me, and when I discovered that Portraits of Saints, one of my favorite Catholic resources, already has several of their images and appears to be on the road to producing them all, I was thrilled. I plan this year to pray a novena leading to each of their feast days and in the future will try to put novenas out here (sorry St. Vitus!!!)

Anyway, I wanted to share this short bio from Portraits of Saints (love love love that site!). . .

Saint Vitus, the son of a pagan Sicilian, became a Christian along with his tutor and nurse at the age of 12. When his father found out he had them arrested and tortured. Legend has it that an angel freed them from prison and they fled to Rome. While there, Vitus exorcised a demon from Emperor Diocletian’s son. When Vitus wouldn’t sacrifice to the pagan gods, they attributed it to sorcery and threw him in a pot of boiling oil, along with a rooster (as part of a ritual agianst sorcery). The rooster became a symbol for Vitus, making him the patron against oversleeping. He was martyred in Lucania, Italy and is one of the 14 Holy Helpers.

. . .and the collect from the Martyr’s Mass today. . .

Grant to Thy Church, O Lord, we beseech Thee, through the intercession of Thy holy Martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia, not to be highminded, but to advance in that humility which is pleasing in Thy sight, that despising such things as be evil, she may practice with overflowing charity whatsoever things are right. Through our Lord.




Set Me as a Seal on Thy Heart


It began with the holy card. I’m not sure exactly how many years ago (probably five or so) I happened, after Mass one day, to pick up a holy card of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the vestibule of our old parish, put out for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. It was a lovely image and it had a prayer of consecration on the back. Having always been attracted to beautiful prayers and various devotions (sometimes to my own harm in trying to take on too many and then failing at all of them), I knelt down in my bedroom that afternoon and, with an imperfect, childish understanding of what I was doing, consecrated myself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I will admit that the beginning of my journey towards the Sacred Heart was rough as anxiety attacked my spiritual life and my mental and emotional peace over the next few years. Already overly scrupulous to begin with, I couldn’t let go of the phrase of the prayer, “I promise to love and honor You every  moment of my life, and to spread, as much as I can, devotion to Your Sacred Heart.” If I’m a sinner, I thought, how can I really love and honor God every moment of my life? What if I fall into sin? Should I confess breaking a promise to God every time I go to confession? Will that make every sin a serious one?

Oh, yes, folks, this is typical Lena–or it was a few years ago. But I was able to move past those worries much sooner than the part about spreading devotion. Whatever genuine love and desire I had to make the Sacred Heart loved became nearly choked by my scrupulous, anxious need to keep my promise perfectly, so I wouldn’t have to worry about breaking a promise to God and thus being in mortal sin and yada yada yada. It’s so very easy in hindsight to see what a distraction this all was, and I have to laugh at myself now, thinking about how I would never wear my hair down in front because I was afraid it would block someone from seeing the Sacred Heart medal I wore; how I plastered my half of the bedroom with every image of the Sacred Heart I could get my hands on and took great pains to make sure each picture or statue were turned or placed in the optimum position to give them a chance of being noticed; how I would hesitate to send pen pals holy cards that were of anything but the Sacred Heart; how I agonized over leaving a religious articles store without buying a medal or holy card of the Sacred Heart to have in case I needed to give it to someone. . .and on and on and on.

I feel extremely blessed that the whole thing didn’t end in me losing my mind, or at least what little real devotion I actually had, though it probably came dangerously close. No, I believe that, after everything, chancing to pick up that holy card was no accident. I feel now that God still will bring something beautiful out of my mess, as He already has. Without it I’m not sure I would’ve noticed or been drawn to the idea of enthroning our home to the Sacred Heart, the anniversary of which is coming up this month (yay!). Without it I wouldn’t have worn the medal, which not only attracted the occasional attention of fellow Catholics but even the admiration of my non-Catholic cousin, the sweet wet kisses of my music teacher’s baby girl, and the interest of one of the dear Residents when we visited the Little Sisters of the Poor, to whom I was privileged to give the medal to, although she was not Catholic. I would never have spent the time meditating on the image of the Sacred Heart itself, beginning to fall in love with Jesus. And I would never have gained whatever pure, unadulterated love I truly do bear towards the sweet Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In the midst of my angst over spreading devotion, I clearly remember the thought coming to my heart, You will spread devotion to Me by being a living image of My Heart, by your merciful love.

Wow. Still working on that one; but that day I think Our gentle Lord gave me the key to what devotion to His Heart and really devotion in general is all about. What we contemplate, we must imitate. What we express in prayer, we have to express in truth and action. Ultimately, the end of prayer, of devotion, of life itself should be to transform us into the One we devote ourselves to from Baptism, in all our prayers and all the choices of our lives.

And, on that note, lately I’ve really begun to think about the involvement of will devotion takes, especially as I prepare to renew my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary (a Consecration I actually prepared for!), on the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. For a long time, I simply prayed to be clothed with the merits and virtues of Our Lord and Our Lady, thinking that was enough. But now,  I’m realized more and more deeply that our real effort at practicing those virtues and striving to gain those merits is necessary in order to open the door that lets us share in the superabundance of graces that Our Blessed Mother and the Sacred Heart of Jesus want us to share in. Everything I have is yours. . .but only if all that we have, including our own heart and will and the thoughts, words, and actions our lives are made of, are Theirs as well.

I know I will be working on living out my devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and my Consecration to His Blessed Mother, for the rest of my days. And I’m so grateful that the seeds of devotion the Holy Ghost planted so long ago took stubborn enough root to survive my early storms. In humbled amazement, I see now that Christ has set the seal of His Heart upon my own.

I wasn’t planning on writing such a lengthy post, or even on writing about this at all until I noticed a note on my calendar that I wrote months ago: Novena Begins. Novena? I had to think (and count nine days ahead) to realize it was the Sacred Heart novena. And so I decided to share a prayer here (it’s technically a hymn, but I’m going to use it as my novena this year. . .someone holy once said that singing is praying twice!) and encourage you to join me in approaching, through prayer, the Abyss of all virtues, the King and center of all hearts, the Desire of the eternal hills; the Heart of Our Redeemer, consumed by flames of love for us. After all, He is waiting for us, always; but we have to approach.

“Adeamus cum fiducia ad thronum gratiae, ut misericordiam consequamur. . .” “Let us come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy. . .”

Hymn to the Sacred Heart

O Sacred Heart! what shall I render Thee
For all the gifts Thou hast bestowed on me?
O Heart of God! Thou seem’st but to implore
That I should love Thee daily more and more.

O Heart, Whose reign began upon the Tree
Where Thou  didst triumph by humility;
O grant I may Thy hidden ways adore
And know and love Thee daily more and more.

O Sacred Heart, I long, I long to love
E’en as the saints with Thee in Heaven above,
O dearest Heart, this grace then I implore,
That I may love Thee daily, hourly more.

O Heart of Jesus! come and live in me
That with Thy love my heart consumed may be;
O sacred Heart of Jesus, I implore
That I may love Thee daily more and more.

O Sacred Heart! be this our life’s one aim;
To labor for the glory of Thy Name.
O dearest Heart! this grace we Thee implore:
That all the world may know and love Thee more. Amen.



A Baptism

This morning we were privileged to be present at the baptism of the newest member of the Church and of our parish family. And I love baptisms–beyond words. Each time I am blessed to be present at a traditional baptism, with blessed salt, ephpheta, exorcism, and all, I become more and more aware of the magnitude of the mercy God bestowed on me in my own baptism. Is it possible that I could be loved so much?


“Brethren, sing praises, to the Son of the Lord of all; Who has bound for you crowns, such as kings long for!

“Your garments glisten, my brethren, as snow; and fair is your shining in the likeness of Angels!

“In the likeness of Angels, ye have come up, beloved, from Jordan’s river, in the armor of the Holy Ghost.

“Your vesture is shining, and goodly your crowns: which the Firstborn has bound for you, by the priest’s hand this day. Woe in Paradise, did Adam receive: but you have received, glory this day.

“The Angels rejoice, men here below exult: in your feast, my brethren, wherein is no foulness.

“The day when He dawned, the Heavenly King: opens for you His door, and bids you enter Eden.

“Crowns that fade not away, are set on your heads: hymns of praise hourly, let your mouths sing.

“Adam by means of the fruit, God cast forth in sorrow: but you He makes glad, in the bridechamber of joy.

“Who would not rejoice in your bridechamber, my brethren? for the Father with His Son, and the Spirit rejoice in you.”
-Hymn of the Baptized by St. Ephrem (find the full version here.)

Being Holy Trinity Sunday made everything more special. Not only was it liturgically our first anniversary of coming to our beloved parish (#Deogratias), but we had hymns for Low Mass (which we weren’t at all prepared for–the most fun kind), and I got to sit in the choir loft between two of my best friends, bass and soprano respectively, sharing a hymnal with Someone Very Much Taller Than I (the bass), who also informed us later that he had quite purposefully gone down the stairs ahead of us girls because it was the gentlemanly thing to do (just in case one of us tripped and needed something to break our fall). There is absolutely nothing like a gentleman to make you feel a lady.

But above and beyond all of that, what a precious gift for a little soul to be infused with the virtue of Faith on the feast day that celebrates the central mystery of our faith. As I stood at the edge of the crowd of family and friends around the baptismal font today, I looked up to see our beautiful alcove of the Holy Trinity at one end of the transept; the Father with arms outstretched in blessing, the Ghost in flight towards us, the crucified Son pouring the Sacraments from His wounded side. And what could I do, but smile? As St. Louis de Montfort would say, “Let tongues be silent here.”


 Blessed be the Holy and Undivided Trinity, now and forevermore! Amen.