Midnight Mass and Miracles



Well, I almost made it!  I almost had all the secular, materialistic things completed before Christmas Eve.  Thank you to my mom and daughter, Theresa, in wrapping the presents for me.

Nonetheless, I didn’t complete the lasagna as I had hoped on Friday. I had the last minute food shopping to complete, knowing it would be a congested drive, and long lines at the stores…………I approached the day with prayer, and relaxation. As I sat in my car in traffic, I prayed the Living Rosary that I am a part of through Novenas Daily. It was extremely comforting, and helped me stay centered on Jesus vs. the hustle and bustle of the day before, the day before Christmas!

My shopping took 7 hrs. to complete, although, it didn’t feel like it. To me, the traffic was not horrendous, and neither were the stores. It was as though my guardian angel was clearing a path for me wherever I went, and expecting to stand in line for check out did not happen at all. Everything moved very smoothly to me. Though I have no idea why it took 7 hrs. to complete it all…………obviously, I give the glory and thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ. I must have been surrounded with all the angels and saints from heaven as I moved throughout my day, not to notice the time it took to complete the tasks!

I will admit, as the day did progress, so did the pain……..which I give to the Holy Souls in hope that it will help them.  By the time I did arrive home, the pain was becoming intense and yet, I knew, I still had more to complete with every intention of completing it all.  Once again, I told God, my plans, and he let me know his…………..by 10 p.m., the pain and exhaustion put me to bed.

Christmas Eve morning, I was determined, AGAIN, that I would finish what needed to be done by 2 p.m., to be able to attend 4 p.m. mass at our parish church, arrive at my in-laws for the festivities and then attend the mass they enjoy at 10 p.m.

Alas, I again, told God my plans, and he had other plans.  I missed 4 p.m. mass at our parish church, instead I was in the shower working hard to manage to arrive at my in-laws sooner than later.  I arrived at 6 p.m., the bones were moving slow, and as the night was moving forward so was the pain.

By 8 p.m. at my in-laws, the family was beginning to go their separate ways. My one brother-in-law and his wife, along with my two nephews were leaving to prepare for 10 p.m. mass at the school where she teaches. My other brother-in-law, his wife, and my niece were leaving to get some last minute chores accomplished at their home before the 10 p.m. mass.  I asked my husband if we could leave, and instead of driving out to the school for 10 p.m. mass, attend mass at our parish church, due to the intensity of my pain.

The kids had their hearts set on mass at the school with their Nana, aunts and uncles. I knew I blew the 4 p.m. mass, and was willing to sacrifice our parish mass for the school mass if that is what God wanted from me. However, my pain was intense by the time we arrived home. I knew I couldn’t make 10 p.m. mass at the school, yet I knew I could attend the parish mass because it is less then five minutes away.

My family left for the school mass. At 9:30 p.m., I left for the 10 p.m. parish mass. As I parked my van, and started walking towards the church my spirits began to lift. As I crossed the street, I noticed an older man, by himself, walking towards the church. I stopped and waited for him. I wished him a “Merry Christmas”, asked him if he always attended the “Midnight Mass”, he said “yes”. I stated how I hadn’t been to the “Midnight Mass” at our parish in years, and it felt wonderful returning this night. We enjoyed a little chit chat, then we entered the church.

As soon as I walked in, my breathe was taken away, I felt as though I was breathing in the Holy Spirit!  I felt “I was home!”. The church, in it’s simplicity, was beautiful!  I actually could not decide where to sit, I was awe-struck by the fact that I was even in the church AGAIN for the Midnight Mass, I was stunned at the reality of standing there. It had been so very long since the last time I attended Midnight Mass in the church I was baptized in, made my communion in, along with my confirmation, and graduated grade school in. I felt so at peace within my heart and soul.  My last memory of Midnight Mass at the church I grew up in, was my late teens. It truly started at midnight, it was packed full, standing room only, and at one point we all held candles in the darkness of the night. Wonderful memories.

I finally chose my seat in church, knelt and prayed. As I was sitting back, the gentleman I met outside the church came into the pew I was in, and sat near me. It brought such joy to my heart, I instantly felt even more of a stirring in my heart. I thought it was beautiful how God brought to individuals who attended mass alone, to be able to sit near each other, as though we attended together, and when it came time for the sign of peace, I was able to shake this man’s hand, not as a stranger, but as a friend, and truly mean when I said “peace be with you and Merry Christmas”. I shook his hand as I would an old friend…………..it was more then the normal “peace be with you”, it was God-inspired and such a blessing to me! Thank you Lord!

As the mass began, I noticed the baby Jesus in his cradle on the altar. I was wondering when He would be placed in the Nativity. My question was answered at the end of the mass. Our Monsignor asked all of us to stay after the final blessing, as he would process down the main aisle and up the side to place Our Lord, Jesus Christ into the Nativity. He also stated, “as The Baby Jesus passes you, make sure you give him your intentions and to say thank you to him.”  The altar boys started the procession with the Crucifix, followed by the Deacon and the Bible, followed by the assisting priest, and then Monsignor carrying the baby Jesus. It was an absolute inexpressible moment of how I felt when baby Jesus passed by me, as though it was the true Babe, Himself. I knelt and said my prayers, looked at how beautiful he was, and now as I write this, I realize why it was so touching to me……..my favorite statue of Padre Pio is with him holding the Baby Jesus on Christmas morning proceeding down the church’s aisle, as did our Monsignor at “Midnight Mass”.

The feelings that overcame me that night were indescribable, except to say I will now be attending our church’s “Midnight Mass” vs. the school “Midnight Mass”. Nothing can replace that feeling of the joy, happiness, and hope that the parishioners were singing that night. The lightness of my heart, and the happiness of my soul will always be a cherished memory to me, that one day I hope to be able to pass onto my children, and grandchildren. The Baby Jesus was there that night, during that mass and everyone who attended, felt it and knew it.

The miracle of being present at my parish church on Christmas Eve, this year of 2011, will forever be in my heart. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for once again, pouring Your blessings down upon me.

May you all continue to have a blessed and peaceful Christmas holiday.

Michele

Keeping Christ in Christmas



This year has been an extraordinary year for me, and I am truly thankful to Our Lord for allowing me to be showered with His blessings.  He has worked hard at helping me to delve deeper into my being, at times to my core.

Every year, I enter into the new year with a feeling of “OK, this year is going to be different!  I’m going to get it all together, have an immaculately clean home, Adoration everyday, mass everyday, prayers and rosary everyday, which in turn will give me an increase in family time, kid time, fun time. Then I’ll be able to help anyone who is in need, and everything at home will stay together, and I just KNOW I CAN DO THIS!”

Then a funny thing happens…………life occurs, the day to day minutes of life show up in the middle of my feeling of “doing it all”, and the entire above paragraph disappears in a heartbeat…………and God appears in my favorite Psalm 119:26-27: “I told you my plans and you replied. Now give me your instructions. Make me understand what you want; for then I shall see your miracles.”

I come to a dead stop, and realize, “well, didn’t I do a great job of not asking You, Lord, what you would like me to do?  Instead I was too busy making myself, my own little god in my life, and though I truly know, without a doubt or a missed heartbeat, You…..Lord are my ALL, if I’m not thinking or I am living in the materialistic world, in a nano-second I lose the balance of my priorities, and life becomes complicated, muddy, and a heavy burden. It becomes such a heavy weight on my shoulders, I can feel it, and I do not like it!  Only with confession, am I blessed to receive that weightless feeling again, and an opening in my heart to hear You, Lord, tell me what to do.

From January of this year through May, I was continuing to recuperate from my gallbladder and foot surgery from June 2010. In May, my orthopedic doc gave me the OK for full weight bearing on my foot. Praise God!  I finally began to feel as though I could begin to work on deep cleaning the house, and get the bedrooms straightened out.  Instead, God had other plans, he allowed our dogs, Angel and Lady Pio ,to bring unwanted guests into our home………..needless to say, it has been a loooooong six months of slowly, meticulously, and tediously working my way through the home (still not finished!), it has definitely been a humbling, and exhausting lesson from God to get these uninvited visitors to leave the home. Praise God, it is now beginning to happen, along with many pleas to St. Francis of Assisi to intercede in helping to remove these uninvited visitors and go back to enjoying the fresh outdoors!

During the summer months, we started with and, at times, continue to go through pre-young adult “spreading of the wings” issues with our oldest. Which I will admit, I did not expect, and was caught off guard. It did not help that I had been sick during her teen years, which I am sure added to the extra angst we all dealt with over the summer, and in the beginning of the school year. Nonetheless, God in his infinite mercy, was there for all of us as we called out to him, he answered immediately. My now young adult daughter and I, still have times of disagreement, though we both seem to be doing our best to communicate, give space, and then discuss what happened, and to let each other know how much we truly love each other. My goal with all of my children is to be adult friends with them, to be able to enjoy life together, and have great times of love and laughter as they all become adults. Along with them learning to have emotionally loving, healthy functional relationships with their dates and future spouses, please God!

Throw in two sinus infections (one at this time, though much improved! Praise God!), the flu for 10 days from the flu vaccine (my first vaccine, and the first time of having the flu since 1990!).

The middle child starting cheerleading and not one of us having any clue they would be such a great team in competition that we would go all the way to Regionals! This was their first competition EVER and they were fantastic!  Throw in some unexpected traveling…….there’s that life thing, again!

School starts, throw in back to school nights, paperwork, more paperwork. Teacher meetings for my son. Teaching CCD for the first time since 2005. An unexpected surgery for my mother, an unexpected illness and ultimately death for my neighbor’s mother, JoAnne. The honor of being asked to do a reading at JoAnne’s funeral. Still, in the middle of it all, life moves forward.

Due to these uninvited visitors, the season of autumn, my daughter’s 18th birthday, Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays have had to be changed this year. I haven’t been able to decorate as I like, because I prefer our little uninvited friends to stay on the first floor vs. throughout the home. I am also being selfish that I do not want the dog’s friends in the decorations or to get into the attic.

This has been a sacrifice for me, I love this time of year, the decorating, the baking, the music, the praying, decorating the Christmas tree.  Every ornament that is placed on our Christmas tree represents a time in our life, and I love to reminisce with the kids as they place their individual ornaments on the tree. The kids each have their own box of ornaments, and they also enjoy looking through their ornaments and remembering why they received that particular ornament. It’s a time I enjoy and have always treasured.

Though this year, as of today, it does not look promising for the regular tree or even the baking to be successfully accomplished.  We may end up placing the ceramic tree in the window for Christmas, and that’s okay. At first, I didn’t like that idea, I wanted what we always do each year…………..which, of course, means the extra stress it brings and in the end frustration and the realization that, once again, the real reason for Christmas was missed or discovered too late.

This year, as the countdown has begun, I feel a calmness  in myself, in the house and with the kids. They do not seem to be concerned about the tree, instead, we are talking about Jesus more, hanging out more, and the household does not seem as stressed as other years.

So, I will continue moving through each day with asking God for his will to be done in my life, continue with removing the uninvited visitors, and preparing a different kind  of Christmas for my kids this year.

The different kind is probably the real kind: quiet, calm, loving, playful, and reverent. As I type today, I am now able to look back through the years and realize in my quest to make Christmas the “perfect Christmas”.  I did not give enough glory or thanksgiving to the one person who truly deserves it, Our Lord Jesus Christ, He came to us to save us, and all the lights, trees, presents, homemade baked goods will never be the right way to say “thank you”, unless it is done with pure love and charity in our hearts as we do for others vs. “because we have to”.  The thank you and love, Our Lord Jesus Christ, deserves is our presence in mass, adoration, the rosary and prayers, acts of kindness, and charity towards others.

These past few years, physically, I have been slowed down a lot, and I honestly did not like it (and, at times, still do not), along with my family. Nevertheless, it has been one of the biggest blessings in my life that God has given me. It has given me the time to reflect, spiritually grow, and realize God has many more blessings for me……….if I would just stop, take the time to ask for His will in my life, and then listen!

Merry Christmas to all, and may you be abundantly blessed by Our Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Michele

 

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Feast Day



I am always enthralled with Our Lady on this day, that belongs to her.  It brings me back to the time of my pregnancy with my middle child. I have a friend, Carol, who has a beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that hangs in her home. She has had this image a minimum of 15 years. It is breathtaking, I am 5’0, this picture is almost as tall as me, maybe 4 1/2 feet tall, would that be 24 x 60? It really doesn’t matter, because Carol was kind enough to allow me to have Our Lady of Guadalupe in my home while pregnant with my middle child, and during the adoption process of our beautiful son.

Back in the late 90′s is when I first met Carol, at our Wednesday night rosary prayer group. She had a young infant, and I was praying for another pregnancy, if it was God’s will….it was such a joy to see Carol and Timmy together, he was a doll.  I yearned so much, for more children, and was trying hard to accept God’s will, carry my cross with dignity, and yet with every newborn baby or infant I laid my eye’s upon, another little piece of my heart broke.

Little did I know, at that time, that Carol was carrying her own cross. She already had 5 or 6 little boys at home, Praise God!  Timmy, I believe was number 6 or 7 for their family, again, Praise God!  What I didn’t know….Timmy was suffering with breathing issues, and the doctors were unable to determine the cause of his health issues. He became so ill, he was in St. Christopher’s hospital and the doctor’s were at the end of knowing how to treat Timmy.

It was now up to God.  This was also the time that Carol knew their family was at the precipice of their faith. She had no choice except to totally and completely jump into the depth of our Lord’s arms, and to faithfully know and trust that God’s will would be the perfect outcome.  At that time, she told the Lord, “if you need to take Timmy Lord, I will accept that decision.”  She made the ultimate sacrifice as a mother, she offered her son to the Lord.  Within 24 hours, Timmy’s health issues were all changing towards staying in this world, because his mission was not yet completed.  Many prayers, rosaries, time in Adoration, masses, and sacrifices were made that night by many prayer warriors.  Anyone involved in that time of Timmy’s life, will always remember, once again, the enormous miracles that God performs in our lives!

I love our community of prayer warriors, when one of us is in trouble, only one needs to know and many respond. Such is what happened with Carol during Timmy’s illness.  I happened to be at a point in my life where I was able to help.  I made a few dinners for Carol’s family, and one day I was in her home, and saw this beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I instantly fell in love with it.

Carol must have seen the look on my face, and remembered it. Once Timmy had outgrown the dangerous points of his health issues, is around the time I became pregnant. When Carol found out I was pregnant with Theresa, she “lent” me her beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. One day there was a knock at the door, and lo and behold it was Carol and her husband with Our Lady. I couldn’t believe it, I was shocked, I was in tears, and very thankful.

I had Our Lady’s image in my home for probably five years. Every time I wanted to return it, Carol would say, not yet. She will return when it is time. The time finally came for Our Lady to leave my home, but only after our son came home to us. How blessed we were!

Last year, Dec 3rd, my family was blessed, once again, with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe coming to visit in our home. It was the missionary image, and she was only in our home for a few hours, however, I still remember it so clearly. To do this day, there are times I will stand where she stood to say thank you, once again for coming into my home, and ask for her continued blessings upon my home.

May God Bless all of you during this blessed Advent, and Our Lady of Guadalupe please place your mantle of protection and love over all women who are pregnant or frightened at this time, for the end of abortion. Amen.

Michele

Offerings Of Light



Offerings of Light – Day 18 of Susan Tassone’s Thirty-Day Devotion for the Holy Souls (pg 97 – 99)

Prayer of Blessed James Alberione  (to be said daily) – pg. 27

Blessed Souls, YOU are suffering and asking suffrage from me; I am in great danger and need, and I await aid and protection from you. So for this (month or year) I will offer all my prayers and especially all my good works for you. And you in turn remember my needs; deliver me from the dangers I face, and in particular, obtain for me this grace (mention petition). And let the first of you to enter heaven not cease to plead for me before the Divine Mercy until I, too, arrive there. May the Sacred Heart bless this agreement. Amen.

“… you shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may be set up to burn continually.” — Exodus 27:20

Lights have always played an important role in the history of the Church. Lighted candles have been part of the Mass and other liturgies since the early days of Christianity, and they were kept burning for periods of time at the tombs of martyrs, as a sign of remembrance.

During the Middle Ages, offerings were made for maintaining lamps that were kept burning on the graves throughout the year, which served to comfort the souls of the departed. The burning lamps or candles signified Christ, the eternal Light, whom we implore in our prayers to shine upon the departed. These lights were called “Dead Lights” or “All Souls Lights”.

The candles kept a silent vigil and so came to be known as “vigil lights”. The offering of a lighted candle is a praiseworthy prayer in action for the holy souls languishing in purgatory.

Graciously hear, O God, the fervent prayers we offer Thee for the suffering souls in purgatory, who, not having satisfied Thy justice, confide in Thine infinite mercy and our intercessions. Extend unto them Thy consolations, and redeem them, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

“Though the deceased is buried in the earth, thou must not omit to burn oil and wax on his grave, for this is pleasing to God and merits great reward.” ———— St. Athanasius

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My extra:  It’s not unusual to see an increase in deaths around the holidays. I’m not really sure why, however, it is a well known fact among the medical field. Even though you know it, and you prepare yourself for it, it never seems to be the person who you “thought it would be”.  We amazingly, every year, every holiday, guess on who it might be that we think will be the holiday “code” or holiday “death”.

We even do it in our families, there is the “it comes in three’s” theory or the “doesn’t look well” theory, and yet again, the person we expected, may or may not be the individual receiving the ultimate healing that night.

My neighbor, MK, was with her mother when she received her ultimate healing on Friday Dec. 9th at 8:45 a.m.  This past week was also the one year anniversary of the death of Mk’s uncle-in-law; Dec 5, 2010.  He was and continues to be a well loved man in this family, and it has been a hard year for MK and her family to be dealing with all of these first after death moments. Now MK and her family will be having another rough Christmas having two of their family members to mourn. Please keep MK and her family in your prayers.

Also this week, my girlfriend Alison’s mother died at 2:30 a.m. in the morning on the Feast Day of St. Nick. She also had multiple health issues, however, last year when everyone was prepared for her to die, she didn’t. She rebounded immensely well, especially after the length of her illness. Now, when the Christmas traveling plans were being made, and presents being shipped, and the anticipation of getting to be with her mom one more was growing, it all changed in a heartbeat. Please keep the Holy Soul of Dottie, along with Dottie’s family in your prayers, including Alison and her family in your prayers.

It’s hard, there is no wrong way or right way to deal with death. We all do it to the best of our ability. Sometimes we are just stunned more then other times.

However, I see one common thread in the passing of these individuals, they have passed the light of life onto their families, so that if it’s a candle or not, when the family members speak of their deceased parents we see the light of God shine down upon them to comfort and hold them during this difficult time. We also see the light of their parents in their loved one’s eyes as they reminisce, tear up, cry or even laugh over funny stories that they all enjoyed together.

The light may flicker for a moment, but returns quickly with every thought, every memory, every tear, every laugh, every time God thins the clouds for us to just “feel” for a second the “presence” of our loved ones.

Eternal rest grant unto Dottie and JoAnne, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. Amen  Padre Pio, please intercede for them. Amen.

 

How JoAnne touched my life in her last days



My girlfriend’s mother, JoAnne, died at 8:45 a.m. on Dec 9, 2011; receiving her ultimate healing. She received the Anointing of the Sick, Viaticum, and the Apostolic Blessing (which includes a plenary indulgence which I never knew). She was given the straight path to Heaven, praise God!  Another win for God, another soul saved! Praise God!

Yesterday, JoAnne was moved from the secular hospital she was being treated at, and placed in hospice care at our area Catholic hospital, St. Francis. This is where she died. Praise God!  The blessings around this woman’s life are amazing. This was another blessing for her and her daughter, to be able to die where her roots really are, and have always belonged. Also for her daughter to have received the strong, Catholic spiritual guidance that she needed from a priest. This is not given in a secular hospital, unless you call in your own priest.

We, as God’s soldiers on earth, march forward one by one in helping to save souls. What a blessing for me to be part of this ministry, thank you Lord!  In some ways when I know for sure a soul has been saved I feel such a strong connection with Padre Pio….it’s hard to describe, I feel his presence very strongly, and I almost feel as though we are giving each other a high five on another soul saved for God. Then quickly comes the feeling of so many souls to be saved, so many souls…….I wonder sometimes if I feel the feelings that Padre Pio felt “so much work to do, so many souls to save”. Yet, I by no means have the discipline that Padre Pio had in his working so hard to save souls.

I met JoAnne almost 11 years ago when her daughter’s family moved into the neighborhood. JoAnne lived two hours away from our homes so I did not see her often; yet, when she was staying at her daughters we did get to talk, laugh, express our opinions, and I enjoyed our conversations. Of course, the conversations would turn into talks about God, and spirituality. JoAnne had a hard life, from birth through death.

I admire JoAnne for how she knew she wanted better for her daughter. In the best way possible, she removed herself and her daughter from the insanity of her own childhood. She did not cut off contact with any of them. She made the correct choice in moving far enough away that her daughter would not be involved in the day to day insanity of the “other world” that JoAnne grew up in; still, at the same time she kept in contact with the family for the holidays, special days, etc., and when the mood was shifting towards the negative during these ”family” get together’s, she knew it was time to protect her child and return to the safe haven she worked hard at creating for her only daughter.

Life as an adult for JoAnne was still very difficult. She lived with much emotional damage from her childhood, made some poor choices (as we all do), and even though these haunting memories stayed with her throughout her life, she worked hard at accepting responsibility for her mistakes, and truly did her best in providing her daughter a home that was as stable as she was able to make for both of them. She did the best she could, with the knowledge she had, and from the help she received.

Her daughter has told me many different stories of the eclectic life they had together. Some are down right hilarious, others are sad, and through each story her daughter was always able to see that her mom was doing the best for her, she has happy memories of her childhood. Her daughter didn’t always understand certain things that happened in her childhood until later in life. When she did begin to understand, she also realized the precious gift her mother, JoAnne, gave her of “never letting on” that something was wrong in their lives. Instead her mother was able to give her child a plausible reason for what happened or was happening, and due to her way of handling these difficult situations, she was able to make her daughter feel safe, and that everything was fine.  In other words, she did not make her child fret over adult issues. I am in awe of JoAnne, as this is one of the many beautiful gifts that she bestowed upon her child………….protecting her from the sometimes harsh realities of adult life. JoAnne was so proud of her daughter, she would often say, “I truly do not know where you came from, because it wasn’t me”.  Her daughter would always turn it right back around and say “I came from you! You are the one who protected me, you are the one who kept me safe, you are the one who did the best you could in raising me! You, all you, you are the one I came from.” My friend has always known, the person she was….was because of the mother God had blessed her with in his awesome wisdom.

JoAnne so very much wanted her daughter to grow up emotionally healthy, have that “normal” family life as an adult and not succumb to the insanity that she grew up in.  When her daughter entered her teen years, and was experiencing outward symptoms of teen distress………JoAnne, again, did what was best for her child.  JoAnne searched until she found the correct help her daughter needed. Often, my girlfriend, has said about her mother…………..”she saved my life by getting me the help she did”.  Often times she has said, “if my mother had not gotten me the help I needed, I wouldn’t have this life right now”.  Again, my admiration for JoAnne runs deep, she put her suffering child first, and did whatever she could to help her. God is wonderful…..

Wednesday, Dec 7th was the last day I spent with JoAnne. It was a very wet, windy, harsh rainy day as I drove that hour to the hospital. The ride was even more difficult because the driver’s side windshield wiper needs to be replaced, and I have not been able to complete that chore. Biggest reason, I forget it needs to be done, until I need to use the wipers, and by then it is too late to replace them.

I arrived at the hospital in time for the “palliative care meeting” aka “hospice”. I became involved with this end of the care for JoAnne due to the fact that her daughter felt as though she was getting the runaround from the doctors. She could physically see her mother was not improving, yet she was being told that her “lungs” were improving. When asked how the rest of the “health issues” were being managed, she again and again was told “her lungs are improving”. Yet, JoAnne was not “just her lungs”, she had a multitude of other health issues that needed to be cared for by the health professionals, and her daughter did not feel her mother was receiving that care, or that they were hearing or even listening to her pleads of understanding and help for her mother to be treated as a whole person vs. just her “lungs”.

I had been keeping up to date with her mom’s status via texting. It was difficult for my friend to speak on the phone regarding the agony she was going through, knowing her mother was given a miracle by the breathing tube being removed from her lungs, and at the same time knowing her mother’s time on earth was limited. She knew in her heart the doctors were not looking at her mother as a whole person, and she was torn to pieces by this approach. With her mom now being an hour away, I was able to drive to the hospital to visit, and attempt to help my friend in anyway I could. In the meantime, my friend asked her mother if she wanted “Michele to visit?”, and her mother would always shake her head ”yes”. I found that very sweet. I dearly wanted to pray at her bedside.

Last Friday, Dec 2nd, was the first day I would be able to drive to the hospital, and help my friend find out her mother’s true status.  When we arrived at the hospital, the resident was attempting to insert a “tube” down her nose to “feed her”. He was unsuccessful. As he was coming out of the room, we were walking in. My friend looked at the resident and stated, “this is my friend, I give you permission to tell her everything about my mother and what is going on”. In the meantime, when she entered the room to see her mother, her mother was hysterical, sure that they were trying to kill her. Her daughter stayed and calmed her, while I spoke with the doctor.

The doctor was perturbed with my questioning of her health status further then just ”the lungs”. As I was collecting data, and asking question after question, it was obvious to me, JoAnne, may have a week left before all the “lung” complications  would begin to kick in again, then she would need to be “intubated” (breathing tube into the lungs), and placed back on the ventilator (breathing machine).  Only this time she would never again come off the machine until death. Which would mean much suffering until that time occurred, in the meantime, she would need to have a “trach” (hole in neck area to be attached to breathing machine) placed, along with a “feeding tube placed in her stomach”, because she would never eat again.

JoAnne did not want this, and neither did her daughter. I asked the doctor what was left in treating her, and he stated “palliative care”. I stated “we’ll take it, right now! No more NGT (tube goes down the nose into the stomach for feedings), no intubation, no chest compressions, make her comfortable!”.

I called her daughter out of the room and explained in lay-mans terms what was going on with her mother, and that as of that moment she was being placed in palliative care. Her daughter had never heard of this option before, and she was quite upset that she was not informed prior when asking questions regarding her mother’s health. She immediately said “yes, I have told all of you again and again, I do not want my mother to suffer! I knew this was a miracle for my mother and me to be able to speak together one last time, and we are. She does not want long term invasive procedures to keep her alive needlessly, and she has suffered enough since October. She doesn’t want this! Why won’t anyone listen?”. The doctor looked at us and said, “well you can do that, but her lungs are improving”. When I stated the obvious regarding her lab results and other testing, again we were met with “well, I will have palliative care meet with you; though her lungs are improving”. I stated “they can’t be, because if they were, she wouldn’t be having the rhonchi (coarse breath sounds in the lung) that is now starting. Also with the poor swallowing effect, she will only have her secretions enter into her lungs which will cause another pneumonia, which will decrease her ability to breath, which will lead to an infection, which will lead to placing her on a ventilator, which leads the family back to square one ————- her daughter watching her mother suffer needlessly on a ventilator until death. The resident doctor wrote for the “palliative care committee” to meet with us on Monday. My friend and I, both under the impression everyone can breathe a little easier we enter her mom’s room.

As soon as JoAnne saw me, she began whispering something that began with an “s” sound. I couldn’t make it out, JoAnne became frustrated, she looked at her daughter, then we realized that she wanted me to give her the sacraments of our faith or at least make sure she received the sacraments of our faith before she died. I was extremely touched by this request. I was able to tell JoAnne that while she was in the other hospital, I instructed her daughter on getting a priest in to her room and giving her the “anointing of the sick”, along with absolution, Viaticum, and a plenary indulgence.

When my friend had reached the first hospital back in October, the priest stated he had already performed these sacraments for her mother. It felt wonderful to be able to tell her mother this was covered, and just because I like follow up, we’ll get it again for her! She was happy and said “good!”.

I have to say, I truly was very humbled by her request and at the same time in stitches, because it was the last thing I ever expected to hear out of JoAnne’s mouth, much less anyone’s mouth. I have never been entrusted before, by anyone, to make sure they received their last sacraments before death. What a honor to have been given, and at the same time my friend and I were able to see the humor of the situation, because she didn’t expect her mother to say that to me, anymore then I did.  I reassured her again, it had been done once, and it would be done again.  That night I blessed her with the oils I had, along with the different Holy Waters I had with me. I also did some prayers.

It was now late, and I needed to return home. On our drive back, the two of us spoke about her mom’s true prognosis, what she needed to finish with her mom, what she needed to find out from her mom, and most of all how much she had to tell her mom how much she loved her, forgave her, and how thankful she was for having her in her life.

Saturday Dec 3rd, I wake out of my very deep slumber to the phone ringing. It was my girlfriend, stating that the doctors wanted to speak with her today regarding palliative care, and to be at the hospital as soon as possible.

By the time we got life taken care of with kids, schedules, figuring out how long she thought she was going to be staying at the hospital, and what she would need, etc…..It took us from the 10:30 a.m. phone call till 3 p.m. to arrive at the hospital. Needless to say, neither one of us are “morning” people.

We then spent two hours in a meeting with one resident doctor, to be joined in the second hour by the top resident doctor for that weekend explaining why I was the advocate for the daughter, and that palliative care is what is wanted by both the patient and her daughter. I was there to make sure it happened for both of them. What a round and round conversation that was……….I was speaking regarding the patients entire health issues, and once again, I was dealing with doctors who only wanted to deal with her “improving lungs”. In the end, they agreed to having “palliative care” contact us. YAY!

Monday morning, my girlfriend received a phone call from the “palliative care” doctor, who stated, “I believe we are on the same page. Your mother is a candidate for palliative care, how soon can we have a meeting? The sooner the better”.

Due to life and schedules, that meeting arrived on Dec 7th, that very wet, windy, harsh rainy day, and I made it in “just in time”. It wasn’t an overly long meeting, because we were all on the same page. It was just the details of where she was being moved to that needed to be tidied up. The final decision was the hospice center at St. Francis hospital, we already had the transportation arranged, that would not be an issue. Getting a bed, and getting her there was what needed to be done next. St. Francis hospital had a bed open, and were able to accept JoAnne as a patient, Alleluia!  Now it was time for all the paperwork, and then the consideration of the weather I’m sure was a big factor. JoAnne did not get moved that day.

Even though JoAnne did not get moved that day, I was given the chance to spend time alone with her. I had the opportunity of being able to thank her for having entered into my life, and to be given the awe inspiring gift of watching JoAnne’s body relax, her breathing turning into a rhythmic sound of whooshing to my ears as I prayed at her bedside.

It was such a blessing for me to be able to pray, read prayers from the Pieta Prayer Book, especially the “Three Dying Prayers”, and the “Consecration of her last 2 hours of life to Our Lady”, pray chaplets, and read from the Bible when she would ask me. I am always amazed at the effect of prayer upon a person, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It is a beautiful sight, and gift to be in union with God. It is in these moments where you truly see the hand of God at work, again and again. When I left JoAnne’s bedside that day, I figured it may be my last time in her presence, and I prayed I advocated well on her part, for the desires of how she wished her life to finish here on earth, and begin in Heaven with Our Lord.

JoAnne, you will never be forgotten in my heart, mind or prayers. I will continue to pray for your Holy Soul, and I in turn will ask you to intercede for me, and my family.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. Amen.

 

 

 

Plenary Indulgence for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8th



Consecration to Jesus Christ, The Incarnate Wisdom, Through the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Louis De Montfort (can be found in The Pieta Prayer Book)

O Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine Incarnation.

I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But Alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.

Hail, then, O Immaculate Mary, living tabernacle  of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end, receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee. I, (name), a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.

In the presence of all the heavenly court, I choose thee this day for my Mother and mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity.

Receive, O gracious Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity, in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honor and to obey thee in all things.

O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive among those whom thou lovest and teachest, or whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children and thy slaves.

O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in heaven. Amen.

Indulgenced by Pope Pius X, Dec 24, 1907. Raccolta #96, 2004

A plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and April 28. 

Preces et Pia Opera, 75.

Nihil Obstat: Thomas W. Smiddy, S.T.D., Cen Lib.

Imprimatur: +Thomas Edmunds Molloy, Bishop of Brooklyn 

Intercessory Prayer



Intercessory Prayer -  Day 17 of Susan Tassone’s Thirty-Day Devotion for the Holy Souls (pg. 93 – 96)

Prayer of Blessed James Alberione  (to be said daily) – pg. 27

Blessed Souls, YOU are suffering and asking suffrage from me; I am in great danger and need, and I await aid and protection from you. So for this (month or year) I will offer all my prayers and especially all my good works for you. And you in turn remember my needs; deliver me from the dangers I face, and in particular, obtain for me this grace (mention petition). And let the first of you to enter heaven not cease to plead for me before the Divine Mercy until I, too, arrive there. May the Sacred Heart bless this agreement. Amen.

“You have sorrow now, but I will see you again and then you will rejoice; and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything, for you can go directly to the Father and ask him, and he will give you what you ask for because you use my name. You haven’t tried this before (but begin now). Ask, using my name and you will receive, and cup of joy will overflow.” — John 16:22 – 24

In Rome, there is a church call SacroCuore del Suffragio (Sacred Heart of Suffrages). It was built in the late nineteenth century. At that time, the priest wanted to name the church after the holy souls, but that was not to be. Unusual occurrences related to the holy souls were reported to the priest in charge, and he began collecting relics and evidence of the holy souls in a small museum inside the church. Each of these relics of evidence had a story. Every story had three recurring themes: (1) there was proof that purgatory exists; (2) every relic in some way, when touched by a holy soul, was scorched; and (3) the holy souls were in desperate need of Masses.

The prayers of intercession and petition that the Church never ceases to raise to God have great value. They are “characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no 2635).

The Lord always lets himself be moved by His children’s supplications, for He is the God of the living.

Graciously hear, O God, the fervent prayers we offer Thee for the suffering souls in purgatory, who, not having satisfied Thy justice, confide in Thine infinite mercy and our intercessions. Extend unto them Thy consolations, and redeem them, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

“If a soul is delivered by prayer from purgatory I accept it as if I had myself been delivered from captivity, and I will assuredly reward it according to the abundance of my mercy.” — Words of Our Lord to St. Gertrude

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Today I ask my readers and friends to please “offer up” and ask the Holy Souls to intercede for the unemployed during  this difficult time of ours. Also, for JoAnne, MK’s mother…………..today we will be having a meeting with the hospital’s palliative care team (hospice) for JoAnne, and tough decisions will now need to be made by MK. She is in need of strength, courage, and the support of Our Lord Jesus Christ for the decisions she is about to make for her mom. We are also hoping she will be transferred to the nursing home around the corner from MK’s home, before she is called to God. This will help take some of the stress off of MK; if her mom is closer to MK’s home. Then she will no longer need to be worried that she will not be with her mom when she passes on to her ultimate healing from God. 

Thank you, and God Bless you.

Michele

 

 

 

Employment Rosary (from Our Sunday Visitor pamphlet)



An Intercession on behalf of the Jobless and Underemployed

Prayer has power. Whether we pray for ourselves or intercede on behalf of another, prayer helps hold together what seems in danger of breaking down in our society, our families, our spirits, and ourselves.

Anyone of us can suddenly find ourselves out of work, or unable to meet bills and obligations because a family member’s paycheck has vanished. When we are overwhelmed by loss, displacement, anxiety, and very real fear, prayer brings us back in balance.

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary provide especially potent meditations by which we may recognize and express our deepest needs and fears. Placed in the company of Jesus and the perspective of his Passion, we find strength in our shared distress, which is never without meaning. Whether personally unemployed, or touched by the plight of someone else who is going through the difficulties of seeking employment, we are able to identify with Christ and join these sufferings to his.

First Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

Prayer:

Lord, being unemployed leaves us feeling stranded and abandoned. Surrounded by well-wishers, we may still have a sense of isolation. Friends who had pledged support seem to fall away, but even when they remain, they — like the apostles — cannot know precisely the depths of despair into which this jobless season has plunged even the most stouthearted.

We walk a new, frightening road not of our choosing, and yet giving in to fear cannot help. As you said to Jairus who feared for his child’s life, “……..Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” {Mark 5:36}. You, Christ, fully understand how we vacillate between trust and heart-gripping anxiety; between “let this cup pass from me” and “Thy will be done.” Help us to move out of fear into belief and trust. Amen.

Meditation:

Ponder Jesus’ desolation and fear; see the fullness of his humanity revealed in this moment of intense communion in prayer with his Father.  But in the face of this fear, his human will — united to the will of his Father — says “yes.”  Although you, or someone you know, may be frightened now as never before, this fear can be brought to Christ. He has been this frightened. He is the knowing companion who understands, before a word is spoken.

Second Mystery: The Scourging

Prayer:

When Pilate ordered your unjust scourging, he was the authority figure who had no answers; to him, you seemed like the minor character in a larger drama of governance, bureaucracy, and political expediency. From his perspective, your fate was tied to the ”spirit of the time” and your public humiliation a mere by-product. Your trials were “nothing personal,” as the saying goes — “just business”.

In job losses that emphasize how dispensable one is, as a “small cog” in a big wheel, we endure a similar public humiliation. Reminders of unpaid bills and unmet needs bring doubt and despair that tear into the spirit as deeply as the Romans’ terrible instruments tore into your flesh. Whether we endure these ourselves, or watch silently as others endure them, help us to bear the pain of humiliation with your strength. Amen.

Meditation:

The scourging of Christ was public knowledge; the crowd understood that Jesus was undergoing torture. The people who loved him were powerless to change anything for him; even Mary had to stand at a distance during Jesus’ ordeal, suffering for him. Informing others of a job loss or applying for assistance are painful exposures. These can be moments of exquisite interior agony that feel like bleeding in public. But even if we feel unlovable right now, in our tension and anxiety, we must trust in the love that lives beyond all barriers, flows through all distance, and even pierces time.

Third Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

Prayer:

Jesus, we know that all crowns have metaphorical thorns, but upon your head was placed a crown of mockery, meant to further debase you in the cruel manner of bullies. With joblessness, the mockery is an interior jeering and snarling at the self.  In seeking out jobs that do not exist, or struggling to be noticed, our ego takes a beating; our confidence is shaken. Skills, knowledge, expertise —the means by which we define ourselves or are defined by others — are suddenly unremarkable in crowded job markets. That indifference scalds; it forces us to acknowledge pride — that we build our lives around what we do, rather than who we are. Without a job, faced with less doing and more being, we find the stranger of the self; a false monarch in castles built of sand.

But we are more than our resumes; we were loved into being. May we renew our strength in you; with your loving guidance, we can see what we each were born to be, and pursue that in you, for whom there are no strangers. Amen.

Meditation:

Confidence and pride, ego and attitude all manifest themselves in how we present ourselves to the world, and how we understand ourselves in response to lifelong feedback. A painful stripping off of these productive layers reveals our shared vulnerability. No matter how successful one is in the eyes of the world, or how humble, when stripped of our self-trappings, we are each alike in our need to be loved, protected, and valued. Pope Benedict XVI has written, “If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: “It is good that you exist” — must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love.”  A prolonged experience of unemployment can make one feel unloved and irrelevant. But it is good that we exist. Others believe this. Christ knows this. All are meant to know it.

Fourth Mystery:  The Carrying of the Cross

Prayer:

Christ, when you carried the wood to which you would be nailed, it was a long walk no one else could make. Beaten, exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, you trudged along, each step heavy with fatigue.  In the heat and dust, your destination seemed to waver, its location uncertain.  Weakened, you must have been tempted to give up and let them kill you where you dropped. When Simon of Cyrene was called upon to help you, your burden was lessened, but that only allowed the torturous walk to go on; it was a bittersweet assist.

Job loss is like that: reserves are depleted that may never be rebuilt; having to accept help, when one hates being needy, is biter.  May we accept this cross to bear — with your help — in humble dignity. Amen.

Meditation:

Humility is a scorned virtue — a cultivated garden our society disdains. Humility is misunderstood as weakness when, in fact, is it the strong foundation upon which dignity and blessings are built. The Messiah washed the feet of his own disciples; he accepted unjust abuse when he could have unleashed retribution. His eventual victory began with acquiescence, with a willingness to become the most vulnerable of all creatures, a human infant. Humility, embraced with dignity, gives us a change in perspective; it brings gratitude, without which there is no room for even the smallest of joys to penetrate, the merest first step of healing to begin.

Fifth Mystery: The Crucifixion

Prayer:

Jesus, remembering your death is not an immediate source of hope. You died! Planted amid jeering onlookers, gamblers, and weeping women, all of your spent, you died. That seems helplessly bleak.

But, because you always invite us to, we look more intently, and we learn; we comprehend that our every human feeling — betrayal, abandonment, shame, exposure, vulnerability — all of our experiences throughout this ordeal, have been nailed with you to cross. You, too, were terrified and anxious; you, too, were left tot he mercies of weak authority, indifferent bureaucrats, and bullies. You, too, groaned under the weight of your trouble; you experienced familial grief; you were stripped and humiliated.

In your crucifixion, you are with us; may we join our suffering to yours — dying to vanity, to fear, to doubt, to our own narrow demands — so that through you, with you, in you, we may yet rise again. Amen.

Meditation:

Dying to self, to one’s own plans, to a worldly ambition, takes great trust. Trust now. Laying our crosses upon the cross of Christ, emptying our hands, let us allow our shaken hearts to pour out before him. Let us be emptied, so that we may receive what Christ has in store. In this sort of death, there is only consummation, and therefore a promise of future glory: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” {Jer 29:11}. From Christ’s death on that awful Friday came, finally, the sweetest of Sundays.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, help us to remember that “a thousand years are but as yesterday to you! They are like a single hour! {Psalm 90:4}.  Days begin and days end, and no situation goes on forever. Help us to endure hardships in the trust that these difficult days, too, will pass. In you we find infinite understanding, infinite consolation, infinite hope. Your angels say, “Be not afraid.” Help us to remember that your time of trial ended with the tearing of the Temple veil and the rolling back of the stone; our time of trial, too, will end in hope.

Through you, with you, in you, there is nothing to be afraid of with you by my side, Lord. Amen.

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I would like to thank Nancy for being my God’s “wink” on when I was supposed to post this Rosary!  May God bless you and your family, and all families suffering at this time due to the state of the economy.

St. Nicholas of Tolentino, pray for us.

St. Nicholas of Bari, pray for us.

St. Nicholas of Myra, pray for us.

Catholic Prayer To Find A
Job

Loving God, you speak to us through all of life. Help me to trust you and to trust that what you desire for me lies in the deepest part of my heart. And, what you desire is that which allows me to grow and to be the person you created me to be – fully human and fully alive. May I always center my life on you and hear joyfully your call to be your companion. Help me to follow my desire to live my life as best I can and to serve others
with the special gifts you have given me. Amen.

St. Cajetan, patron saint of the unemployed, pray for us. Amen

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This pamphlet can be found on the following site by Elizabeth Scalia:  http://www.osv.com/pamphlets  

The Wonders and Miracles of Advent…..



Advent is a time of preparation for Jesus in our hearts and homes; along with a time of wonderment.  For God is looking at us and giving us the grace to wonder what we can do with his help. This is the great invitation of Advent.

The wonderment that God can and will forgive us again and again, is astonishing, we only need to desire Him. When we desire God……He will be there, waiting as He always is, in the confessional ready to give all of us the forgiveness and love we seek, which can only truly be received from Him.

Let us be filled with the wonder and praise that God continues believing in us, hoping in us, and trusting that we will someday realize his dream for us. I am blown away by the fact that God never turns his back on us, even when we turn our back on him. I am in awe and wonder at how patient Our Lord is with each and everyone of us! How blessed we are.

When we doubt ourselves, we are showing our lack of trust in God with a situation that we consider too hard for us. Nonetheless, with God all things are possible. We must remember  we who have been blessed with the grace from God; have been given the grace from God to get us through any situation. No matter how hard the situation may seem to us. If we lean on Our Lord, thank him first for his gift to us (even if we don’t understand it), we will feel the peace and love of God within us.  We must remember “God’s will be done.” When we do remember, life works out the way God intended vs. our ”free will” that gets in the way. Also ask God to help you realize the dream he has for you.

Let us be filled with wonder at God’s way of doing things, a good example: how He sent Jesus to us as a baby, so that 1) we could instantly hold him into our hearts and, 2) he came small enough for us to take into our arms. As Fr. Benedict Groeschel once stated, “Jesus came as a newborn babe for a reason”.  I definitely do not have to wonder why every Christmas day, or any other day of the year!

The gift of wonder we carry within us is another enlightening treasure that God has blessed us with, and one that will be with us forever. It is only lost if we make the choice to box ourselves up, refusing to be open to all the gifts that God has available for each and everyone of us.  We need to only be open to receiving them, and be alert to how we are spiritually feeding ourselves.

Self-pity, impatience, irritability, judgementalism, being critical, being uncharitable are not  healthy ways of spiritually feeding ourselves, instead it hurts us spiritually.

Alternatively, what truly feeds our spiritual lives is: perseverance in our prayer life, being patient and happy within ourselves which in turn allows us to be non-judgemental, non-critical and charitable towards others. The fruits we will notice will be an increase in gentleness and love towards all. Gentleness is a strength from Jesus. By no means is it a weakness. If we could all be gentle and loving with each other, you have to wonder how our world could be a different place.

Dear Lord,  please grant us the the grace to recognize your voice when you call, that we may answer with courage and be faithful to your invitation always. We also ask that we are able to stay focused on YOU as You come to us as an innocent babe vs. how people have made THINGS the focus of this season of your birth. Material things are only good to the degree that they help us grow in our relationship with you. Help us learn from the example of St. Francis of Assisi: the less we have, the less we have to worry about and the more we can keep a focus on what is really important – YOU!

book – Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting…….Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C  pg. 36 – 44

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During this precious Advent season, I have an update on my neighbor’s mother, Joanne. Back in October, Joanne had become ill and they have been unable to give a true diagnosis due to her fragile health state. Most of the month of November, Joanne had been intubated and on a ventilator (breathing machine).

Her only child, my neighbor MK, has never had to deal with this type of issue. It has been very hard on her. This past week, the doctor’s were talking trach (a tube that is put in her neck for breathing vs. being in her mouth)  and a feeding tube (would be placed in her stomach) to be placed in her mom. MK was having a difficult time with this decision. Her mother had requested for the doctor’s to attempt to save her, however, if unsuccessful then she  did not want any invasive procedures. When JoAnne appeared lucid enough, MK asked her mother again if she wanted to go any further with these procedures. Her mother nodded “no”.

During their “family meeting” with the hospital staff, it seemed every time MK attempted to voice her wishes, she was told it couldn’t be done. It has been extremely draining for her, her mom, and her family.

This week by God’s grace, JoAnne was extubated, she is breathing on her own. She was also being checked for her swallowing reflex, and is slowly beginning to speak. She is in somewhat of a confused manner. Hopefully, with time this will pass.

For me this is one of those stories of WONDER and MIRACLES during Advent or really any time. Her mom was extremely close to dying multiple times, yet she didn’t. I have to wonder why, apparently her mission is not fulfilled yet.  Although, her daughter, MK, was able to see the torture these patients go through with “saving” an individual without realizing the consequences of what happens after being “saved”, usually because the doctor deems that the family would not understand; which I strongly disagree with on that subject. I by no means am talking euthanasia. Instead I am speaking of how Pope John Paul II showed us all how to die with dignity. That is what JoAnne truly wanted…..I believe now that MK has had to watch her mom suffering in the hospital, she understands what “saving” someone can truly mean with a person who has multiple health issues. 

One thing that totally blew me away with MK is that she left this entirely in God’s hands. When we spoke regarding the trach and the feeding tube she was frightened and asked me to come with her to the hospital, to pray and give her the reality of the situation.

As I began to prepare myself for the trip with MK to the hospital, MK called to clarify with the staff that nothing would be done until she arrived. That call was when MK was notified that her mother was extubated, and breathing on her own.

God continues to amaze me, with every breath I take!