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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Shades Of Our Youth

Praise God, our pilgrims are back!
This was my favorite photo, taken of my son...I thought it was an amazing reflection, through his "shades"(sunglasses), of the crowds at World Youth Day.  His Facebook caption of this photo reads: "Lend me your eyes and I can change what you see."

 Through the shades of our youth, I saw many hours of EWTN coverage on WYD and cried many tears of joy.  I came away with invigorating hope.  
Did you hear there were an estimated 2 million pilgrims?...Most of them being the future of our church. Wow!
Through the shades of our youth, I saw the endearing love for our Holy Father...
The youth endearingly cheered for the 264th successor to St. Peter (and 265th Pope):
"Benedicto, Benedicto, Benedicto!

I was inspired by the photos taken by our pilgrims, young people on fire for our faith.
Through the shades of our youth, I saw the universal church in all of it's glory and love.
They said there were approximately 170 country flags, all for 1 faith.

Through the shades of our youth, I saw that our pilgrims made fast friends with many young people around the world, regardless of background or culture.  We are 1 body.
  Madagascar pilgrims were close companions...
Along with Brunei (I had to look that one up on the map)
Hint:  It's a Malaysian island and own separate country in South East Asia!
Uganda (below)
And a special bond made with pilgrim friends from Trinidad...
 Through the shades of our youth I also saw my son always in pictures with a bunch of girls!
I saw that "firm in the faith" also meant "firm in the metro"!
Through the shades of our youth, this is FUN.  Through my forty-something shades, this looks like purgatory!  Although I must say that it is colorfully captivating to look at:)
Thankful to have them back and eager to see what's in store for their future...

All God's plans are shining through the shades of our youth.

It was exciting that our pilgrims had a brief interview with EWTN's Life on the Rock!
They are in green shirts and my son was the spokesperson at the 1:57 mark on the video.  This was a great show, if you have a chance to watch the whole thing.
(You can click over to the right hand column (slightly up)to shut off my blog music from my playlist)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fabulous First Day of School

The Queenship of Mary made for a fabulous first day of school!
"Mary reigns as Queen; I have nothing to fear."
~Bl. John Henry Newman~
We started our day with the bread of life, followed by breakfast "out" at a favorite restaurant.
The kids were altar servers this morning and Father T. gave us all a special blessing after the Mass, especially the teacher:)
Flowers for Our Lady...May her union with God remind us that holiness means our own dependence on God, hence the Holy Mass to start our homeschool year!
We kept a few little flowers at home for our home altar/prayer table, filling this beautiful vase from a dear friend.
"Through the simple act of becoming a mother, a woman changed the world."
~Edward Sri~

The love letters for each of the kids were a hit!
I hand-wrote a love letter to each of the children and placed them in their learning binders.  It was an exciting surprise to give.  I called them into my office, individually, and read their letters out loud to them privately.  I thought for sure I'd bawl like a baby...but I actually held it together for all. (I had already sent my love letter for my oldest son and husband on their pilgrimage:)  It was such a loving way to start the year and I eagerly gave and received some pretty big hugs!
The words of Father Larry Richards have been ringing in my heart that the #1 duty of parents is to instill the faith in children by our example and our love.  I do tell my children that I love them but this was an intentional moment to tell them that I will never stop loving them, no matter what.  I will love them forever. As the Father has loved me, so I will love them. (John 16:27)
Then we drew names for the kids to write love letters to one another, further spreading the love and practice letter can you go wrong with this assignment?

"Let us always meet eachother with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."
~Bl Mother Teresa~

They woke up to these surprise goody bags with school supplies...
And an encouraging poster to make this an amazing grace-filled year!
Hallelujah...Our pilgrims come home late tonight!
And so does Grandma Judy (My Mom)!  She's still on oxygen and medication but she is out of the hospital.  Hooray!  Praise God for continued healing and all of your glorious prayers.
Making cookies is next on the list!  These are the best ever...We always save this recipe for the first day of school and maybe for Christmas.

Heavenly Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 C firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 C All purpose flour
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and set aside.  In an electric mixer, or vigorously by hand, cream the butter and the sugars.  Beat the eggs in another bowl and gradually add them to the creamed mixture.  Add the vanilla.  Gradually add the creamed mixture to the dry ingredients, slowly incorporating the two, and add chocolate chips last.  When the mixture is fully incorporated, drop by large scoops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 8-10 minutes.
Enjoy a heavenly delight!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Though an Army Encamp Me...

Warning!  This is a very real post.
Last night, I was at my wits end.  It seemed as though I couldn't take another moment, alone with the kids, missing my husband, their "daddy"...It's just been a very, very, long 12 days without him.  (And my Mom sick on top of it all?) Have you ever had moments that you just felt surrounded by the enemy and you just can't break out to even say a prayer for yourself?  I'm normally a strong person but for some reason, I was suddenly weak.
The kids are tired too and they miss their Dad.
The sibling fights and the sharp tongues nearly brought me down.
I think one of the hardest parts about parenting is having to be "ON" all the time.  You are their model for behavior, faith name it, everything!  I just hate it when I lose control and my temper fuels the (already) roaring fire.  I call into question my vocation and why God has chosen me for something that I don't feel equipped to do or be.  Does this sound like spiritual warfare, or what?

With that being said, it is true that when we are weak, we are strong, if we trust in the Lord...
3 good things happened!
1. Part of the words to Psalm 27 suddenly popped into my head.  All I could remember was something about an "army encamping me" because that was how I felt. I looked it up, read the whole thing and the words Holy Spirit carried me through the night...I couldn't even pray my usual evening prayers or the rosary as I was utterly exhausted.  It's title is "Trust in God."  The verse that settled in my heart was verse 3:
"Though an army encamp against me,
my heart does not fear;
Though war be waged against me,
even then do I trust."
Psalm 27:3
2.  I had planned on writing a love letter to each of the children as a "surprise" for our first day of school. (Tomorrow!)  I will still be working on those the rest of the day!!!....But I have added to the idea.  With all of the sibling fighting going on, I decided that our first writing assignment (tomorrow) will include them writing love letters to one another, picking at least 3 qualities that they love about that person.  We will start by drawing names and work our way through the family!   I am thinking this will be a new tradition, at least annually, if not more.

3.  One of the children actually thanked me for the discipline measure that I used to correct behavior for their sharp tongue.  I couldn't believe it!??  Have you ever had a child thank you for their punishment?  I sure haven't. He had to write sentences for his disrespect, then he slipped a note under my bathroom door while I was getting ready for church this morning.  It was an apology note and thank you for the "lesson learned!"  No doubt, God had His hand in this one:)

OK, so I'm feeling better and our pilgrims will be home tomorrow night.  We will kick off our school year tomorrow, on the Queenship of Mary...Our Lady will surely be with us, guiding and keeping us close to Jesus.  I will trust as we start anew. And the last lines of Psalm 27:
"But I believe I shall enjoy the Lord's goodness
 in the land of the living.  
Wait for the Lord, take courage;
be stouthearted, wait for the Lord."

A huge Thank You for anyone who  might have been praying for my Mom.  It seems she has a third diagnosis (strange pneumonia that I can't pronounce) and she will slowly be getting better soon.  She is still in the faraway hospital but we are praying she will be home this week! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beyond Beautiful Words

If you haven't had a chance to follow World Youth Day, I'm posting this first homily (in letter format) from the Holy Father. It was just too beautiful NOT to share...I cried all most of the way through it!:)  Be sure to visit WYD Central where I copied the text.

Pope to pilgrims: ‘Use these days to know Christ better’

“Listen regularly every day” to the words of Jesus, Pope Benedict told young people gathered in Madrid’s Plaza de Cibeles, “as if he were the one friend who does not deceive.”Following an initial address at the start of the Welcome Ceremony liturgy, the Holy Father delivered a longer homily. Drawing upon the World Youth Day theme, he urged the young faithful to “build your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ.”
Published below is the full text of Pope Benedict’s homily:

Dear Friends,
Thank you for the kind words addressed to me by the young people representing the five continents. And I salute with affection all of you gathered here, young people from Oceania, Africa, America, Asia and Europe; and also those unable to be here. I always keep you very much in my heart and pray for you. God has given me the grace to see and hear you for myself and, as we gather together, to listen to his word.
In the reading which has just been proclaimed, we heard a passage from the Gospel which talks of welcoming the words of Jesus and putting them into practice. There are words which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives. If not, they remain empty and become ephemeral. They do not bring us to him and, as a result, Christ stays remote, just one voice among the many others around us which are so familiar. Furthermore, the Master who speaks teaches, not something learned from others, but that which he himself is, the only one who truly knows the path of man towards God, because he is the one who opened it up for us, he made it so that we might have authentic lives, lives which are always worth living, in every circumstance, and which not even death can destroy. The Gospel continues, explaining these things with the evocative image of someone who builds on solid rock, resistant to the onslaught of adversity, and in contrast to someone who builds on sand – we would say today in what appears a paradise – but which collapses with the first gust of wind and falls into ruins.  Dear young people, listen closely to the words of the Lord, that they may be for you “spirit and life” (Jn 6:63), roots which nourish your being, a rule of life which likens us – poor in spirit, thirsting for justice, merciful, pure in heart, lovers of peace – to the person of Christ. Listen regularly every day as if he were the one friend who does not deceive, the one with whom we wish to share the path of life. Of course, you know that when we do not walk beside Christ our guide, we get lost on other paths, like the path of our blind and selfish impulses, or the path of flattering but self-serving suggestions, deceiving and fickle, which leave emptiness and frustration in their wake.
Use these days to know Christ better and to make sure that, rooted in him, your enthusiasm and happiness, your desire to go further, to reach the heights, even God himself, always hold a sure future, because the fullness of life has already been placed within you. Let that life grow with divine grace, generously and without half-measures, as you remain steadfast in your aim for holiness. And, in the face of our weaknesses which sometimes overwhelm us, we can rely on the mercy of the Lord who is always ready to help us again and who offers us pardon in the sacrament of Penance.
If you build on solid rock, not only your life will be solid and stable, but it will also help project the light of Christ shining upon those of your own age and upon the whole of humanity, presenting a valid alternative to all those who have fallen short, because the essentials in their lives were inconsistent; to all those who are content to follow fashionable ideas, they take shelter in the here and now, forgetting true justice, or they take refuge in their own opinions instead of seeking the simple truth.
Indeed, there are many who, creating their own gods, believe they need no roots or foundations other than themselves. They take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment. These temptations are always lying in wait. It is important not to give in to them because, in reality, they lead to something so evanescent, like an existence with no horizons, a liberty without God. We, on the other hand, know well that we have been created free, in the image of God, precisely so that we might be in the forefront of the search for truth and goodness, responsible for our actions, not mere blind executives, but creative co-workers in the task of cultivating and beautifying the work of creation. God is looking for a responsible interlocutor, someone who can dialogue with him and love him. Through Christ we can truly succeed and, established in him, we give wings to our freedom. Is this not the great reason for our joy? Isn’t this the firm ground upon which to build the civilization of love and life, capable of humanizing all of us?
Dear friends: be prudent and wise, build your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ. This wisdom and prudence will guide your steps, nothing will make you fear and peace will reign in your hearts. Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others. They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe.
He died for us all, rising that we might have life, and now, from the throne of the Father, he accompanies all men and women, watching continually over each one of us.
I commend the fruits of this World Youth Day to the most holy Virgin Mary, who said “Yes” to the will of God, and teaches us a unique example of fidelity to her divine son, whom she followed to his death upon the Cross. Let us meditate upon this more deeply in the Stations of the Cross. And let us pray that, like her, our “Yes” to Christ today may also be an unconditional “Yes” to his friendship, both at the end of this Day and throughout our entire lives. Thank you very much.

You may visit our diocese blog where we have posted some photos, though limited, and a few pilgrim reflections:)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Angels Working Overtime

Do you ever have those days when you know the angels must be working overtime?

Well, we've had a few of those lately...Starting with our weekend trip to the lake (about a 4 hour drive) with Grandma and Grandpa.  It was designed to be a distraction from missing our pilgrims and also spend some last moments of "down time" before we kick off our school year.  We took separate cars from Grandma and Grandpa so I arrived (with the kids) before my parents.
The kids had very little trouble getting adjusted to the 6,000 foot elevation, cooler weather and even cooler water...They made a run for it!
My Mom had not been feeling well.  It had appeared that she had a similar respiratory virus that my Army Dude has been struggling with.   Still determined to make the trip, she decided to come anyway.  She didn't look good when she got there and within her first hour, we were in the ER.  She was having trouble breathing and the elevation wasn't helping matters much.  The initial diagnosis was double pneumonia (in both of her lungs) and they were keeping her in the hospital overnight.  My Dad and I rapidly went into survival mode and took turns visiting Mom and juggling the kids.  We prayed and tried not to worry while the kids did a lot of this...
The lake was very high so luckily our motel had a pool.  The children swam like fish all weekend while my Dad and I went back and forth to the ER.  When the worry set in, the angels worked over time to keep us afloat.
We attended Holy Mass in this gorgeous church that felt like heaven on a hill with this amazing view of the lake...
And we prayed for Grandma Judy.
2 nights went by and the Dr.'s were mystified about their findings and my Mom continued to struggle with her oxygen intake...They decided to transfer her to a bigger hospital (nearby) today.  The more we learned about how sick my Mom really was, the more it was clear that it was a small miracle that we got her to the ER in "time."  Her Guardian Angel was most certainly working overtime on her behalf.   By this time, my little natives angels were growing restless... The hospital was not allowing children in the ER (due to risk of illness) and the ways to keep 4 children occupied in a small space was growing smaller.
As God's plan would have it, with a little more help from the angels, my younger sister was available to come and be with Mom.  I didn't want to leave her (it was awful) but I was also a bit helpless, being alone there with 4 kids in tow.  My dear sister headed up the mountain and we started our journey down.

  As I left the hospital, I glanced at one of my tires and it appeared to be low.  Needing to stop for gas, the angels saw fit that I pulled into a station that had a service garage.  I asked the technician if he would help me put some air in my tire.  He introduced himself as Paul and was happy to help.  While putting air in, he noticed that there was a nail stuck in the tire.  Oh no, now what!?  Not to worry,  Paul St. Paul was very helpful and able to fix/patch the tire right on the spot for a mere $15.00.  Whew!  He did make note that it was a good thing that I stopped as chances were slim that I would have made it down the mountain without a flat tire!   I gasped at the thought of being stranded alone on the side of the highway with 4 kids...Thank you Guardian Angels!  The kids and I immediately prayed in thanksgiving for that little miracle...the 2nd one in the past 2 days.

We continued our journey down the mountain and stopped for a late lunch a long the way.  (Approximately 3 hours from home) We all got out to take a potty break and decided to sit and eat before getting back in the car.  Remember this little stop for later....
We loaded up and continued journey home.  About 90 miles from home is our Capitol city and we got locked up in traffic.  Suddenly we were surrounded by dozens of police cars racing past on both sides of a 4-lane freeway.  Come to find out (by calling my brother-in-law), we were in the middle of  2 high speed chases...both involving criminals with guns.  The kids were loving all of the swarming sirens and police cars but I found it a little unnerving myself.  I kept wondering if maybe I was wearing a "drama magnet" today?  But really I was praying that our Guardian Angels would just stay with us...please!

We made it safely through the action zone and drove home peacefully for the last hour...until we pulled into the driveway.  I reached for my purse to pull out my house keys...NO PURSE!  I could NOT believe it.  Yep, no purse.  Remember the lunch stop, just down the mountain, 3 hours ago?  I remembered that I hadn't grabbed my purse (slung to the back of the chair) before hustling little ones out the door and into the car.  Lucky for hide-away keys!  We were able to get into the house and I immediately began calling the restaurant, thankfully remembering the small town where we stopped. (My memory is not always the best these days)  I started to wonder if maybe our angels were tired by now...No one would pick up the phone at the restaurant.  I called and called and called and called and called and NO answer.   Talk about frustrating...I kept thinking about my ID, credit cards and identity theft.  Had my purse been stolen or saved?   The children helped me pray for the intercession of St. Anthony!

By the grace of God, my Dad had not left the mountain!  If worse came to worse, he could stop by the restaurant to look for my purse.  I never did get ahold of the restaurant but 2 hours later, my purse was was saved and not stolen, praise GOD.  Thanks to my Dad, St. Anthony and the great purse rescue!
This was miracle number 3 in my book:)

  It was a blessing for the children to watch everything unfold as we prayed and trusted that God would provide for us through the angels and the saints. They saw first hand that God really IS with us in our trials, great and small.  He IS most certainly there in the little miracles a long the way.  It was a crazy day full of stress but also a testimony to prayer. And believe me, we sent out our thank-you prayers immediately.
Hallelujah for angels working overtime!
Now for a stiff drink or chocolate?...
The chocolate from a dear friend won out!  Have you ever heard of Lula Lund?  These salt water caramels were the best!
...But we're not done yet as we continue to trust in God's holy and loving plan, praying for my dear Mother/Grandma Judy.  If you find it in your heart to pray, I would be incredibly grateful. We are thankful for great medical care and the many trained professionals who are helping her get well but the power of prayer stretches out far beyond any of this. 
Thank you, God Bless you, and don't forget to thank your Guardian Angel:)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Please Pray For Pilgrims!

Dear husband and oldest son ready to go to WYD!
Please join me in prayer as young pilgrims (and their 'older' chaperones) from all over the world are now in route to World Youth Day, 2011.    The youth of our future are convening together in Spain to be "Built up in Christ" and be "Firm in the faith" for the next 12 days!  They will meet with the Holy Father, beginning on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all throughout that week.  What a beautiful time for Our Lady to be close to them in a special way!

There were 17 pilgrims that departed today from our parish, joined by 10 other pilgrims from 2 other parishes.  Thanks be to God, they will be joined by a priest to serve as their spiritual leader!  

A few of our parish pilgrims met for morning Mass prior to their departure.
It was an unexpected blessing that Father M. was wearing his red vestments for the Feast of St. Lawrence, a martyr for the faith.  Fr. M. matched the pilgrims:)
There has been so much to do to get ready for this trip...I think everyone is smiling about it finally being time to go!

Today was the first day of my son's (and other pilgrims) senior year of high school...Amazingly special to be heading to Spain! 
I'm not even going but I'm still SO excited for each and every one of them!
~Come Holy Spirit, Come!~
Our CAV (Catholic Assault Vehicle) served a great and noble purpose...It carried the Advanced Party (military term for Tour Leaders) and their children;)
We were able to stuff all backpacks for 6 pilgrims in the back!
Being the chauffeur, I got honked at all the way home while I was stuck in commute traffic!  I just waved with my new special rosary while I prayed the Glorious mysteries on behalf of our pilgrims:)  It  was so much fun!
Honk for the Holy Father and Honk for Spain!
This was the final group photo that my husband texted me from the airport...What a glorious group of pilgrims and blessed, indeed!
WYD Hymn Madrid 2011
"Firm in the faith"
(1st verse)
Your love, it builds us up and keeps us rooted,
Your cross, it gives us constant strength and courage,
Your flesh, it ever saves us and sustains us,
Your blood, it flows to cheer us and renew us,
O Christ, you are our Brother,
O Christ, you are our Friend, you are our Lord,
Make us firm in the faith, make us firm in the faith!

**Follow WYD at Virtual WYD or  Catholic TV**

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Your Move, God

I am not a "natural" when it comes to homeschooling.  As I mentioned before, it was God's calling that brought me here.  I always trust that if He changes His mind, He will show me the way, a new path, an open door...

Each year I pray for the grace of God to begin another year.  Eight years later, I am still here where He has called me to be ready to serve, though feeling weak, not always confident and definitely not worthy.
I have a neat story to share in hopes that it might bring strength and a little light to others who may be feeling weak in any area of life...

Last year I intentionally brought all of my feelings of inadequacy to the Lord during my first Holy Hour in August.  By the way, it is here that I go to receive my "Marching Orders" every year:)  I opened a book called Your Move, God, that my spiritual director had recommended. I randomly providentially read this passage on Pg. 45:
"It is not you who call yourself to this work.
It is I, the Lord, your God.
It is I, your Beloved Father.
It is I, the Holy Spirit, who call you.
It will be my work.
It will be for My people and it will be for My glory.
I will use you as you come before Me
in the spirit of humility
in the spirit of littleness
in the spirit of renouncing your own spirit, your own will, your own desires, your own vision, your own everything."
I considered these my 2010/11 Marching Orders, followed by this final passage:
"Unite yourself to Me
your Beloved Father
your Beloved Bridegroom
your Beloved Holy Spirit
and I will use you mightily."
(Pg. 46)
I really have no idea how the Lord used me last year and it's beyond me to even think about.  What is within my realm of thought is to keep moving forward, trusting in Him as my Beloved Father.  Like the title of the book, it's Your Move, God.
Fast forward to this year...
I have not picked up this book since last year.  I'm not really sure why?....Other books just inched their way to the front of the line.  So it was a God-incidence that I grabbed it this morning for my Holy Hour, the first one in August. It's another new school year, go figure.
Praying in earnest for God's grace to jump start my heart, I turned to this passage on Pg. 54:

"We are living in the age of knowledge explosion.  Some 250,000 books are published each year.  Yet all this knowledge can explode in our faces unless it helps us to know the most basic fact of our existence: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.  Whatever else we learn from books, if they deny this, they deny everything."
We need to adopt a habit of surrender with each book we pick up.  Then we pray, "Your Move, God, He moves!"

I went on to read this paragraph that really spoke to me as this year's "Marching Orders":
(I was moved to tears...)
"The grace of littleness is by no means a little thing
it is a big thing to be little before your God.
It is a big grace and I gift you with it because in your littleness I can indeed be big.
I can be for you Yahweh, the Powerful One.
As I bless you with littleness, no matter how educated you are
you will become like a little child.
(The tears came here)
Even your thoughts will come forth
with a new realization of littleness.
In the past you have been heard to say
"When I was little, I used to think."
This day I give to you the grace, the power, the holy wit, to say "When I was big, I used to think."

This final passage really spoke to me as I struggle to plan for the new school year....(Pg. 55)
"I can only use you when you are little and simple before Me.
When you get too big with ideas and plans of your own, I cannot use you.
So let go of your need to have it all figured out.
I, your God, have it all figured out.
I know exactly what I want to do.
I know exactly how I want to do it.
I know exactly when I want to do it.
My time-table is perfect.
As long as you remain little,
you will be perfectly on My time-table.

And how about this as a reminder that I am not in control? (Pg. 56)  Can you relate?
"I love you, My little one,
but my annointing does not come upon you all at once.
You are somewhat like the car that is filled with gasoline and travels a long way.
The gasoline gets lower and lower in the tank.
So you need to stop at the filling station to get filled once again.
I do this on purpose with you that you may stay in that perfect rhythm of dependence on Me that you may come to Me always as your source.
It is with great purpose that you sometimes experience great emptiness......"


I ask you to do nothing that a little child cannot do.  What can a child do? 
It can listen, love, and obey.
My grace is enough for you. I see your weakness, My child, weakness in your flesh to watch with Me 
in your spirit to hear My voice 
in your will to use My gifts....
Be content to be weak 
for in it is My magnificent strength.
Those most effective in My ministry
are those most aware of their weakness, their inadequacy, their imperfections..
because then they rely on My strength, My goodness, and My perfection.

So there, I shall be content to be weak as I move forward...Not My move but Your Move, God.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stop, Drop And Love

Life is a mile a minute sometimes...How often do we forget to stop, drop to our knees... and love?
St. John Mary Vianney's feast day (August 4th) reminds us of a man's love that was so big, his heart remained incorrupt after his death.  What a miracle of love! Last summer we were blessed with a visit and real presence of this relic at a nearby parish.  I just love the prayer that was printed on the holy cards (pictured above) made for the pilgrimage of St. John Vianney's heart:
"I love you, O my God,
and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life.
I love you, O my infinitely lovable God,
and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you.
I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally."

This is the perfect prayer as we are getting ready to send Dear husband and Mer-man off on their pilgrimage to World Youth Day (WYD) in Spain ...They leave in less than 1 week!  I made these cupcakes for one of their last preparation meetings with the symbol of WYD.  I love all of the symbolism and meaning behind the logo...
The logo has a cross that reflects the theme for World Youth Day, "Rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith." The color red of the crown forms the letter M... this stands for Madrid and the M for Maria. The joining of the crown evokes youth coming together. The crown also represents The Virgen de la Almudena the female patron of Madrid. According to the creator of the logo, the orange, red, and yellow symbolize Spains warmth and the warmth of God. (We only used red icing on the cupcakes:)
 The World
The designer, Jose Gil-Nogués, said “The [logo] has a spontaneous and strong stroke, as the youth of the twenty-first century. It’s close, friendly, open, cheerful, casual and positive…The use of a palette of warm colors (red, orange and yellow) transmits an unmistakable warmth and heat, identity of a city like Madrid, Spain as a country. These colors are also a reflection of the warmth of God, ‘Trinity of Love."

WYD (World Youth Day) in Spanish is JMJ (Jornada Mundial de la Juventud). JMJ also stands for the Holy Family~Jesus, Mary and Joseph

The rest of our family, here at home, will hold down the fort and finish our school planning and preparations while our pilgrims are across the waters for 12 days!  We do have a little trip planned (with Grandma and Grandpa) to the lake. It will be a nice distraction from missing Dad and brother! It will also be our last "hurrah" before our school year kicks off very soon.

Back to stop, drop and love, we like to begin our school year on a Marian Feast Day as we strive to be closer to Christ.  After all, no one leads us quicker to Jesus than His very own Mother and our heavenly Mother, Mary.
"Let us live as the Blessed Virgin lived: loving God only, desiring God only, trying to please God only in all that we do."
~St. John Mary Vianney~
‎"I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the cross than in serving the world and its pleasures." - St. John Vianney-

Last year I believe we started our school year on The Assumption of Mary. This year we are aiming for the Queenship of Mary!
"Because the Virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of 'Queen'"
~St. Alphonsus Ligouri~
I am praying that I can pull everything together in time for our school start date...Trying to breathe remember to stop, drop and love!

Litany in Honor of St. John Vianney

Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Saint John-Mary Vianney, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, endowed with grace from thine infancy, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, model of filial piety, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, devoted servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, spotless lily of purity, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, faithful imitator of the sufferings of Christ, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, abyss of humility, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, seraph of prayer, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, faithful adorer of the Most Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, ardent lover of holy poverty, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, true son of St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, exemplary Franciscan tertiary, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, tender friend of the poor, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, penetrated with the fear of God's judgment, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, fortified by divine visions, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, who was tormented by the evil spirit, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, perfect model of sacerdotal virtue, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, firm and prudent pastor, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, inflamed with zeal, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, faithful attendant on the sick, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, indefatigable catechist, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, who didst preach in words of fire, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, wise director of souls, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, specially gifted with the spirit of counsel, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, enlightened by light from Heaven, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, formidable to Satan, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, compassionate with every misery, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, providence of the orphans, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, favored with the gift of miracles, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, who didst reconcile so many sinners to God, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, who didst confirm so many of the just in the way of virtue, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, who didst taste the sweetness of death, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, who dost now rejoice in the glory of Heaven, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, who givest joy to those who invoke thee, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, heavenly patron of parish priests, pray for us.
St. John Vianney, model and patron of directors of souls, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
V. Pray for us, blessed Jean-Marie Vianney, R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray
Almighty and merciful God, Who didst bestow upon blessed John Mary Vianney wonderful pastoral zeal and a great fervor for prayer and penance, grant, we beseech Thee, that by his example and intercession we may be able to gain the souls of our brethren for Christ, and with them attain to everlasting glory, through the same Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.

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