Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Thursday, July 29, 2010

St. Martha Reflection~A gift of love

Funny how the feast of St. Martha finds me feeling just like her, busying myself with the tasks of life and forgetting to take time to sit at the feet of Jesus.
Where is the love?
Thankfully, today was an Adoration day and how perfectly fitting.
Taking an hour to sit with Jesus was just what I needed.
"Weary" and unworthy was how I arrived at the foot of the cross this morning...Mostly weary of my shortcomings.  
Frustrated... I should know better, to be better, about correcting my mistakes.
Disappointed with myself, I sat there, gazing up at Jesus and wondered why I couldn't be more like Mary?
I prayed and I surrendered all to Him, unworthy as I am.
And then I opened my book of prayer and scripture, seeking a lifeline.
Today's morning prayer in the Magnificat began with this little gift of love:
"Well I know your trouble,
O my servant true;
You are very weary~
I was weary too,
But that toil shall make you
Someday all my own~
And the end of sorrow
Shall be near my throne."
So if that wasn't a hug from heaven, I don't know what is!
Grace rained down.
Our loving Lord always answers with the gift of love and grace, just when we need it.
This serves as yet an ongoing reminder to turn to Him when we are low, even when we feel weary and disappointed with ourselves.
I continued reading:
"The Lord is, indeed, extravagant in His love for us, his sometimes most unreliable servants."
Well, this just about summed things up.
Yes, we are unreliable servants.
Yes, we are weary.
Yes, we are human.
But God's love is the constant, less we forget.
Only by His power of grace, love, and mercy can we be liberated from ourselves so that we can open our own hearts to love more deeply.
Afterall, "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him."~John 4:16~
St. Martha stands now in the great assembly of the just who have been delivered from death to sing His praise for ever.
I think I can only pray to truly be like St. Martha, singing His praises!
St. Martha loved God and He loved her in spite of herself.
~St. Martha, please pray for us!~

These really neat photos were taken by Fernando,one of our Youth Leaders at a recent Youth Campout/Retreat.  The kids used a flashlight to create the design, while the photographer used slow shutter speed.  The first picture is done by my son and the cross by his friend.  I thought they were amazing!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Bridget of Sweden
(1303-1373)
Feast Day~July 23rd

I have a great devotion to St. Bridget of Sweden.  First of all because she is the patron saint of Sweden, the home country of one of my dear brother-in-laws (married to one of my 3 sisters).  St. Bridget is also the patron saint of widows, as she was widowed herself.  I have a special connection to her because of my own widowhood in my younger years.  St. Bridget's feast day was  formerly on October 8th~my birthday.  I 'm thinking that these are lovely connections to celebrate and hold her close to my heart.  I will be praying for her intercession!
Check out my post over at Catholic Cuisine for more links to St. Bridget and the recipes that my brother-in-law shared with me!  He even gave permission for me to post his mother's recipe for Swedish Meatballs.
It seems rather silly to post everything twice so I hope you'll pop over and give it a peek and maybe a try.  I'm especially looking forward to trying the no-bake Swedish Chocolate Cookies... I hope they're as good as they sound!



"O Sweet Jesus! Pierce my heart so that my tears of penitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to Thee, may my heart be Thy perpetual habitation, may my conversation be pleasing to Thee, and may the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Thy saints, praise Thee forever. Amen."
~St. Bridget of Sweden~
Please pray for us!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Finding Holiness at the Dollar Tree

Today I ran to the Dollar Tree to pick up 1 thing..."Yea right!"  Well, it ended up being 10 or 12 things because I found a few holy treasures that I couldn't pass up!  In these tough economic times, I just love when I find holiness in the simple places.  It just made me smile to find Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer cards hanging on an end cap, hidden among the gift bags.  There she was, peeking out from the pile of bags with that lovely smile on her face.  Wow, 25 prayer cards for a $1.00 is an amazing gift.  


At first I thought maybe I'd save the Patroness of the Americas for a feast day craft project in December.  But somehow it feels like I need to share that sweet smile with others, maybe pay it forward.  I like to carry holy cards in my purse.  When we come across a homeless person or someone in need, it's the perfect gift to pass on.  Then there's our Little Flowers group...Hmmm, I only bought one pack so maybe I'll go back to get one more!


So I thought I'd share a few other treasures for those of you who love a holy bargain and who may have Dollar Trees near you!
Check out these cute little boxes for 1.00!
~They're the perfect holy card size~
You could make a lovely little holy card holder or rosary box with a little paint and Modge Podge!
We thought these also might be great gifts or craft project for the Feast of St. Anne and Joaquim that's coming up.
I just loved these holy crown foam wands!
A pack of 3 for $1.00
~Right away, I thought of Christ the King and Mary, Queen of Heaven~
I also have a Princess birthday girl coming up in September so these might come in handy!
These were magnetic list pads with beautiful designs and scripture quotes.  These make perfect gifts to have on hand.  I'm giving a little shower for a friend getting married so I'll be using these for favors.  These were $1.00 each.  I also picked one up for each of our Grandmas to give on the Feast of St. Anne, our heavenly Grandma!
This photo didn't turn out very well but it's the back of the holy cards of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Pictured above) I loved that the top of the prayer card is in English and the bottom is translated into Spanish.
Well, that's about it.  I spent more than a $1.00 but I didn't break the bank!  Holiness can be found all around us, even at the Dollar Tree.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel~July 16th

~Celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
with Edible Garments of Grace!~
{See below for inspiration}
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
~All photos were taken by me at the Sacred Heart Retreat House in Southern California~

A dear friend and I recently had the privilege of attending a Home Educator Conference in Southern California.  It was an honor and blessing to be able to stay at the beautiful Sacred Heart Retreat House.  This retreat house is run by the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles.  


I thought it would be fitting to share some photos and reflections on our stay in honor of this most blessed feast day.  The Carmelite Sisters have a lovely website and blog that I encourage you to visit at the link I highlighted above.   The Sacred Heart Retreat House has it's own site with more professional photos than mine.  I'm certainly no photographer but these are just what I saw through the lens of my simple camera phone....
This quaint little retreat center is a hidden jewel in our midst.  The world goes by at a rapid pace all around it...But everything stops when you enter the premises. 
Time seemed to screech to a halt as my friend and I got out of our car.   The peace and tranquility of this little haven bekons the soul to be quiet.  Yes, I said quiet.  I must admit that I had some trouble with this as my mind and body sought to shut down all the things "of the world." 
 
This crown on top of the chapel felt like a beacon of light, guiding me to the Lord, through His most holy mother.  It was as if Our Lady of Mt. Carmel wanted to guide me to her Son and a place of peace that only the Prince of Peace can provide.
~This beautiful tile plaque donned the wall as we entered the registration area~
We were assigned a room that touched a place deep within me...The desire for simple.  Now I was  being drawn to both quiet AND simple. 
Suddenly, I began to feel like I was experiencing spiritual warfare as I tried to soak up the quiet and simple.  It became nearly impossible for me to escape the noise, inside and out. 
I began to pray.  I couldn't wait for evening reflection.  There was a prayer tucked inside my night stand that I had never seen before entitled "Stay With Me Lord." It was perfect for mediation on the crucifix in our room.  I will include it at the end of this post.


I couldn't stop taking pictures of this lovely shrine and fountain to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  None of my photos could capture the true beauty..
~And even more captivating at night~
After evening reflection, we took a stroll through the gardens and it was a full moon.  This Sacred Heart of Jesus was amazing...My "noise" was beginning to quiet down now.
This photo is taken from my phone!  Can you see the full moon?
The plaque at His feet was quite appropriate, especially due to my circumstances...I wondered how many others it was perfect for?
~The next day, we had morning Mass at their divine chapel, lined with Mary's roses~
And we had a bit of time to walk through their sacred gardens before we were off to the conference.  I must admit that my heart was longing to stay at the retreat center just a little while longer!  The "noise" was just starting to subside in my head and it was already time to go...
~All of the gardens were adorned with lovely flowers and benches for reflection~
St. Anthony
Lourdes Grotto
~I will surely be blessed if I can return to this place of Carmelite contemplation~
This gorgeous painting welcomed us to their conference hall!
And as Mother Mary of Carmel beckoned me close so that I could see her Son through my noise, she strengthened me for the journey home...
When I returned home, I read an article in Spirit Of Carmel (Spring). This was a magazine that I had picked up at the retreat house. It is published by the Carmelite Sisters twice a year. Lo and behold it spoke directly to me about my experience there!  Isn't amazing how God speaks to us?
As with anything in our lives, there are always going to be active things that we must do to make change in order to realign our spiritual compass to eternity.  The Spirit of Carmel has touched my life and renewed my spirit.  It seems that God is so good about nudging us towards the things that will bring us closer to Him.  And Our Lady is always there to lead us to these things with her guiding hand, like a good mother does.

With inspiration from the Scapular Cakes over at Catholic Cuisine, we made these edible Garments of Grace Brownie Cakes to honor Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  I am not the best artist or cake decorator but we gave it our best effort...
~We used mini loaf pans and brownie mix and then frosted them to follow the design of our different family scapulars~Sparkle Gel Icing is my new favorite thing! (I used gold and blue)
I just turned them upside down, after cooling to frost
For more information about the Scapular, see this site.  And some important rules and rituals here.  We were enable to enroll our family a few years ago and it is always a joy to renew our promises of prayer and devotion.  This feast day is always a good way to set us back on track just when we need it!  You may also check out this lovely site to order a free scapular.


Oh, and here is that prayer I promised!

Stay With Me, Lord
When I begin to lose sight of you as my Lord and Savior,
Stay with me, Lord.
When I fail to recognize your presence in the events of my everyday life,
Stay with me, Lord.
When I feel that my troubles are a sign that you have abandoned me,
Stay with me, Lord.
When my need for security makes me self-centered,
Stay with me, Lord.
When my love for others grows cold and ungenerous,
Stay with me, Lord.
When my friends betray me, as you were betrayed,
Stay with me, Lord.
When I meet with ingratitude and criticism,
Stay with me, Lord.
When I feel weary, old and lonely,
Stay with me, Lord.
When my faith seems to weaken before failure,
Stay with me, Lord.
When the Father does not seem to hear my prayer,
Stay with me Lord.

O Mary conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee!
~Blessings to all of you as you celebrate this beautiful feast~

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

Our family loves this story of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, first native American to be declared a Blessed.  You can read about her in several places.   One of our favorite ways to learn about the saints is with Glory Stories.   The Glory Story of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha is one of our treasures.  Some day we would LOVE to visit the Shrine of North American Martyrs , located at the birth place of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Auriesville, New York.  You can see a video of the Holy Father's visit to this place of peace.  How sad that American children don't get exposed to this great female Native American hero in their history books, even though she escaped to Canada!  
For a fun activity, make Corn Bread!
 ~This was our version of Blessed Kateri Corn Bread, using an arrow-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the pieces~
We picked this snack to make since Native Americans introduced us to the art of grinding cornmeal, leading to the birth of cornbread (one of the earliest American foods).  This fun website has lots of recipes and history.  
Note: The cookie cutter technique only works if you know that your recipe isn't too crumbly...Ours was a little tricky using a boxed mix.  If you want to play it safe, stick with the muffins!
See my post at Catholic Cuisine for more details!
 This is the oldest portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha, painted by Father Chauchetiere between 1682-1693.  Read more here.
Since we live in California, we've added this Blessed Kateri parish to our field trip list for the next time we are near Los Angeles!
0 Jesus, who gave Kateri to the Indians as an example of purity, teach all men to love purity, and to console your immaculate Mother Mary through the lily, Kateri Tekakwitha, and your Holy Cross, Amen.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

America, America, God shed His grace on thee!

Happy Birthday, America!
Immaculate Mary, Patroness of Our Nation, Please Pray For Us!

As we celebrate the birth of our country and our many freedoms, we pause to be grateful citizens. Reflecting upon all those who have gone before us, we remember all who have fought and died to protect the life and liberty that prevails today.  We vow to protect this sacred life and liberty as we march forward in the battle of our times.


We remember our flag and all that it stands for...
Red~Hardiness & Valour
White~Purity & Innocence
Blue~Vigilance, Perseverance & Justice
(I just loved this glitter icing!)
I'm a true patriot at heart!  Ask anyone who knows me...
This is what 6 years of wearing combat boots does to you!
~GOD BLESS THE USA~
I had more fun than the kids making these cupcakes today!
And here a few more of the patriotic treats we made...
Red, White and Blue Parfaits
Pretzel Sparklers for our picnic tomorrow!
~This is probably the only thing I've ever made from Martha Stewart...so easy and fun~

And now a prayer to share...
~For Our Nation~
God our Father,
Giver of life,
we entrust the United States of America to Your loving
care.
You are the rock on which this nation was founded.
You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to
life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your
people.
Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation´s
leaders.
Open their minds to the great worth of human life
and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.
Remind Your people that true happiness is rooted in
seeking
and doing Your will.

Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate,

Patroness of our land,
grant us the courage to reject the "culture of death."
Lead us into a new millennium of life.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
Amen.
~Photos of Blessed Mother are from our Mary Garden in full bloom, bringing us much joy~

Please pray for all who serve in our military, their families, and all public service personnel who work to keep our country safe. 
~God Bless my firefighter hubby who is working this 3-day weekend~
Check out Catholic Icing's post on a Patriotic Rosary... 
We have ours on the schedule for tonight!
~God Bless all of you, this 4th of July~


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