About michele

Hi, Welcome to my blog Faith Comes First for Catholicdaily.com. My name is Michele, mom of three, two dogs and a husband. I teach 6th grade CCD. Through the years, I have been encouraged to write, along with writing books. Last week, a girlfriend mentioned I should write a book. I chuckled and stated "about what?". She replied "anything, you love to write about multiple topics". When God sent this opportunity my way, I decided to apply, and to my delight I was accepted. I hope and pray that you will find my blogs interesting and informational. My goal is to share the little tidbits of our Catholic religion from the past, and bring it back into the present. So much is still pertinent for this day and age, and yet has been missed, or not taught any longer. One of my goals is to bring that back, along with information about the Saints, and how our religion ties into today's political scene we are living in at the moment. Thank you for visiting my blog, and please feel free to leave feedback. I would love to hear from others with ideas, your thoughts and feelings. Again, thank you and God Bless, Michele

Writer’s Block



Wow, at first I didn’t believe this could ever happen to me!  Though it has, I’m still surprised. I have lots roaming around in my head to write about, nonetheless, the brain cells are not settling in on one topic.

I believe I have post holiday overload, if there is such a thing.  My daughter’s gift from her boyfriend is him getting the downstairs bedroom finished for her to move into. He is a great organizer and hard worker. I have truly appreciated all the hard work he has put into completing this room for her.

I also appreciate the help and guidance my brother has given his niece, and her boyfriend.  My brother and husband, did a great job with putting up the new ceiling. It looks beautiful.  My brother gave them some tips on the painting of the room.  My husband has been surprised with some of the work, and in the end I pray he will be happy to have all three kids in their own room, and we’ll be able to get “normal” sleep again, whatever that may be……….it’s been so long I forget!

As all household projects go………there are always the little extra surprises that pop up. They have, and put him a little behind, so now the pressure is on to finish enough to get her bed, and shelves back into the room. Then we can begin to move her things from upstairs to downstairs while he is back at school. She can get a feel for what else she needs in her room, or what she would like in her room, or even what she feels would work better in her room. For me, today, I have this unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach, a roaming feeling, a “can’t settle down” feeling, and I can’t put my finger on it.

Maybe it’s the feeling of “wow, is this really going to happen, so then I can separate the other two kids, and we can all return to a normal sleeping routine!”.  I pray so, because I believe I have gotten to the end of my rope with the dogs and their uninvited guests, along with my wacky sleep schedule. There is a definite improvement with the visitors, but for me, one is even too much. I am unable to feel as though I can live in my home, until all of these visitors are gone.

Once upon a time, I enjoyed carpet cleaning, now……………….ugh!  I have never felt something take so long as I feel with this intricate, detailed cleaning.  As I type this, I vaguely remember this same feeling when the living room was being remodeled for two years, and then another four years for our addition to be finished.  In reality then, I guess I’m doing pretty good!

Hmmm, well that was a nice little God “nudge”.  I had put those other two times of my life out of my head.  Now that I’ve typed that, God has helped me put this issue into perspective. What I feel is “taking so long”, and I’m sure so do others, really isn’t……..it’s taking as long as it is because this there is a lesson in it for me, and for others.  I need to accept that and go with it.

With that, I’m going to sign off, the head is still whirling a mile a minute, and I need to get myself off to mass. If I keep typing, I’ll mess up somewhere along the line!

Have a good night, and God Bless!

Michele

 

Election of 2012



As we enter the year of 2012, with the knowledge that the United States will be having a life changing election on Tuesday, November 6th; I have had one of those “God” nudge moments.

While preparing to blog about the Feast Day of St. John Neumann, I opened up my blue book of prayers, interesting articles, religious articles and information that I like to keep for future reference. Lo and behold, I find my “Election Novena”!

I didn’t need a board to hit me in the head, especially after Rick Santorum’s fantastic rise in the Iowa caucus, to tie with Mitt Romney in first place. Praise God!  Yes, I am aware, it is by a mere eight points that Romney is ahead.  I am also aware that one district thought they turned in their results, and did not. They also ”threw out their results”, so if the story that is being related on Fox correctly, ”the results” were given by memory and Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney had to agree to those results.  Rick Santorum, the true gentleman he is, accepted the verbal “results”, and that is why there is an “eight point difference”.  In my heart and mind, he is the winner, and I believe with the support of our prayers, and if it be God’s will, Rick Santorum will be The President of the United States starting January 2013!

I would like to focus on this beautiful “David and Goliath” story. Senator Santorum was not given an ounce of notice by the media, especially during the debates. Nonetheless, Senator Santorum held his own, and would insert himself into the debates. He did it with such class!  Now, that he is tied with Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucus, I will now be ending my subscriptions to certain pundits that I believed had knowledge regarding their job, and that most of all, in the end, it is God’s will that takes place, not the baloney excuses that they have been stating which are immensely insulting to Senator Santorum and his family, along with the public.

Of course, Rick Santorum knew where this first place tie came from, he received the grace from Our Heavenly Father, God, and with such humility, joy, faith, hope, modesty and true peace  he expressed it all during his acceptance speech last night. He also acknowledged his beautiful wife, and the sanctity of their marriage by first, making sure his family was with him throughout these months in Iowa, then secondly, by publicly acknowledging his wife and family on stage. He stopped, he took his time, he did not rush through the “list of people” to thank. Instead, he took that time to acknowledge God’s greatest gift to him and his wife, the sanctity of marriage and then took his time publicly, without shame, acknowledging the graces that God poured down upon him last night.

It was awe-inspiring, touching and beautiful to watch, the joy I felt in my heart for him, and his family, and the magnificence of Our Lord, God, showing his presence so strongly, blew me away!  I also believe it was not missed by the prayer warriors who are aware of God’s strength! Miracles are truly happening all around us!

At the end of this blog, you will see different websites to visit, and print off novena’s, prayers, and rosaries for the election. You will notice that some of the sites are from earlier years. Obviously, they are prayers that are very important to this years election.  Our society is truly at stake with this November election.  Let us not forget, asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Victory for God’s will in this election.

Let us pray if it is God’s will for this to be a “David and Goliath” period of time, then Rick Santorum and his family will need all the prayers that can be sent their way, for the grace of strength, perseverance, patience, humility, and to always be filled with the words by The Holy Spirit.

Please do not forget:  Pray, Fast, Adoration, Love of the Holy Mass, Confession, Pray the Rosary, Ask for Mercy in the Divine Mercy Chaplet for God’s will to be done during this November election.

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Prayer given by Our Lord to Sister Marie de Sainte Pierre (1816-1848 – Apostle
of the Holy Face of Jesus), to divide and conquer revolutionary men.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and all the instruments of His Holy Passion that Thou mayest put division in the camp of Thine enemies, for as Thy beloved Son hath said, “a kingdom divided against itself shall fail”.” http://www.cfnews.org/RosaryNovena.htm 

 

http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/docs/FC_Novena.pdf - this is a Faithful Citizenship Novena regarding elections

http://abortion-greatest-sin.excerptsofinri.com/America-Election-MESSAGE-Rosary.html - this is in PDF form and can be printed off. It is a Rosary with meditations for Conversion of Our Country, The United States of America

http://www.priestsforlife.org/novenas/election-daynovena.htm

http://www.usccbpublishing.org/client/client_pdfs/prayerbefore.pdf - this is a prayer to be said before the election

http://www.usccbpublishing.org/client/client_pdfs/prayerafter.pdf - this a prayer to be said in thanksgiving after the election

http://www.episcopalnet.org/TRACTS/NovenaForUnitedStates.html - novena for The United States of America

http://www.fjp2.com/en/john-paul-ii/prayers/novena - JPII novena, after each prayer, there is a Litany to be prayed……….it is the Litany of JPII. You will be able to find this Litany under the “link” that states John Paul II.  John Paul II lived through the horrors of WWII, Hitler, the nazi’s, the communism in Poland and throughout Europe. Through all of that oppression he lived and breathed ”peace”. He knew that only through “peace” will love of one another prevail.  Let us not forget to ask Bl. JPII for his intercessory prayers during this very important election and God’s will for the United States.

http://www.goperri.com/padrepio.html - this is the Efficacious Novena that Padre Pio said daily for all the people that asked him to pray for them. Please let us ask Padre Pio for his intercessory prayers during this very important election and God’s will for the United States

http://www.omm.org/documents/prayers/novena-mediatrix.html - Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace and St. Louis DeMontfort

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2614366/posts - Novena to Christ the King for the election.

I pray these sites will be helpful to all who are interested in praying for God’s will in November and for our beautiful country, The United States of America!

My past, Oh Lord, to Your Mercy; My present, to Your Love; My future to Your providence. —– Padre Pio

Praise be Jesus and Mary!

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton



Wow, what a surprising end to a rather lackadaisical day. Not exactly a true lackadaisical day, although, if I do not crawl into bed at midnight in excruciating, or almost excruciating pain, then I feel as though I was lazy that day, or may be considered lazy by others.  An ongoing, daily inner struggle of my life as it is, I’m sure, with many woman.

My day started out after two hours of sleep last night, no particular reason.  Mostly my desire to complete my “chores and obligations”, which I never did get to finish, or fully complete.  I figured today would be “another day”. Woke, did the morning routine, along with taking the kids to school due to the first true frigid weather in our area.  I didn’t want our son to leave early for the bus stop, and stand  there freezing.  Especially since I knew he wouldn’t dress properly, and then there would his “man pride” that would get in his way, and he would stand there freezing vs. coming home and wear warm clothing and outerwear.

I needed to get my mom to the surgeon’s for her appointment and I didn’t have time to do the sitting at the bus stop routine, or running back and forth in between schools with the kids, or experiencing the whole “yes, you need to” vs. “no, I’ll be fine”, routine.  It was easier, calmer and all around more pleasant to drive my children to their respective schools, along with taking my neighbor and even stopping on the way to pick up my niece on her birthday. It was nice to be able to do this one little thing for her on her birthday.  Then we sit in front of the school for 10 minutes, due to the fact that the children are not allowed to enter the building until 8 a.m.  To my parents eye, I believe I saw children entering the building, and the one’s outside actually surviving! Nonetheless, my precious cargo felt they needed to stay in the car until that special moment in time.  It’s funny how that special moment in time, turned out to be the exact time that the car was beginning to get cool, due to me turning the car, along with the heat off when we pulled up in front of the school.

Children, truly a blessing and joy to have in our lives. To see life through their eyes, is such a blessing to us all, especially when we stop and honestly listen to their words, their dreams, and how they may approach an issue rather than the adult way.  I am often amazed how their answers may be so simple and succinct.

Returned home in time for a load of laundry, some coffee and prayer time. Then time to dress for my mom’s doctor appointment. That’s a two hour event, with travel and buying the medicine.  I arrive home, chit chat with my husband, and hobble upstairs due to my pain. I figured I would get off my feet until the pain subsided, and during that time I started blogging and attempting the “picture to the blog” again.

After my husband left for work, I thought “OK, I can do this, I’ll wash the carpet, do some cleaning up, along with more laundry, and then it would be time for the night time routine”.

The harder I worked to start moving my body, the slower I became. Finally, my middle child looked at me and said, “why don’t you go to bed, you have circles down to your mid cheeks, you look exhausted.”  I took my daughter’s advice, and in that time I played round and round with the computer.

Finally it happened, I successfully placed a picture onto my blog!  It has only taken 3 months and approximately five days, along with many, many hours of “playing” around on the computer.  Tonight it has taken me approximately three hours of “playing” on the computer to accomplish this feat!

I desired to write about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton today, with her feast day on the 4th and I can only attribute her intercession in helping me to be successful with the accomplishment of her picture on my blog today. Hers is the first picture that made it!!!!! I’m thrilled.  Needless to say, I will definitely be asking for her intercession before I start a blog!

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, until today, was a saint whom I have always been aware of, but, not necessarily the first saint to ask for intercessory prayers.

I attempt to keep a typed list of birth dates, anniversaries, and death dates. With each person I pray for, I do my best to invoke any saints that may have the person’s name, given, middle or last. I also ask for the intercession of saints who are patrons of the what the person does or did in their life.

When I think of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, first I think of my deceased paternal grandmother, so she will be in my prayers today. Next on the list is my favorite Great Aunt Ann. I love her dearly…..she spent much time with me during my childhood.  The nights I would sleep at my maternal grandmothers house, she would come over on Sunday mornings with her son, Joe (my second cousin).  We would attend mass at St. Anthony’s, then return to my grandmother’s house, and eat ham with butter on the bread, along with tea.  They made it beautiful for me, it was a grown up tea party, and I definitely had my manners reinforced at this time. These will always be fond memories for me.  Then I also think of my mom, her name being Marianne, and a mother, who had many things happen in her life as did St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, I ask for her intercession for my mom.

Then I begin down my list of all the moms,  and grandmothers, along with friends who are in need of intercessory prayer for being mothers, especially the ones who have large families. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton also believes strongly in a good education. I’m right there with her!

Amazingly, there are other many “God – incidences” with this saint:

My niece, Jacqueline, was also born on August 28th. I now have another saint to pray for my niece!  The fact that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized on the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross fits this saints life to a tee. She carried her cross well, and without compliant.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is a wonderful role model for so many of us as mothers, and yet I still continue to struggle with getting life down pat!  I also have a special place in my heart for this saint, because she is one of the saints I truly remember who was canonized during my lifetime, and to me, that is a big deal!

I have always turned to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton as a mom. Now that I have discovered that she is patronage to other issues, she definitely will receive my prayers for intercession to her as time goes by.

Prayer by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

O Father, the first rule of Our dear Savior’s life was to do Your Will. Let His Will of the present moment be the first rule of our daily life and work, with no other desire but for its most full and complete accomplishment. Help us to follow it faithfully, so that doing what You wish we will be pleasing to You. Amen.

Patronage

http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-elizabeth-ann-seton/

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha



At home my oldest daughter, Maria, and myself, are very excited that Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha will now be canonized a Saint.  I discovered the news while reading  Spiritdaily.com. Ever since, I have been writing and re-writing my blog trying to put into words the happiness we have in our heart for this young ”Lily of the Mohawks” woman, who loved, enjoyed serving others without complaint, who through all of her suffering, accepted it without complaint, and instead continuously offered it all to Jesus. What a beautiful role model for our young girls today.

Maria, at the age of 18 yrs. old, is blossoming into young adulthood as a beautiful young woman, both inside and out. From the day she was born, at 36 weeks, she knew what she wanted and rarely let anything get in her way.  Maria, after permission from our parish Monsignor, took the name Kateri for her Confirmation name. We needed permission from the Monsignor, due to the fact my daughter was the  first child they could remember who wanted a Blessed name vs. a Saint name for Confirmation. There is that individuality spirit I have come to know so well, and love, and at times reminds me of me, which in turn sometimes becomes ogada for us both.

As I watched Maria grow, I saw the most beautiful, imaginative, creative child ever (of course, she’s my child!).  Believing Maria would be our only child, her and I spent five years together doing everything and anything I or we could think of that would be cherished moments for us, along with the feeling that she was receiving the opportunities to become a well rounded child, which would eventually help her in adulthood. We did much together, and had a blast.

I so loved teaching her our Catholic faith, and I now enjoy the adult conversations we have regarding our Catholic faith. Even though Maria doesn’t have many memories of her childhood, I have an abundance of memories that I will treasure forever as I continue to grow into my “senior” years.  One day, when I get to all the pictures I have taken of everything my children have accomplished in their young lives, I pray it will jog some of their memories!

When Maria was 2 or 3 years old, Pocahontas, the movie, was released by Disney. We both fell in love with this movie, and this began our journey into the history of Native Americans.  It is, as though, Maria could just as easily be Native American as she is German, Irish, Polish, and Italian.

Hence, our introduction to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. We searched high and low for information on Bl. Kateri, and inhaled as much knowledge as we were able regarding her life. Maria was very drawn to Bl. Kateri, as I write this I wondered if she saw something in herself that Bl. Kateri represented in her.

I asked my daughter tonight “I know we discussed this before Confirmation, but, I want to review it again….tell me why you chose Bl. Kateri?”

Her response:  ”I love the culture of the Native Americans, I was intrigued by her life story….even though her family died and she was scarred from smallpox and her vision affected, she still continued to do God’s work. When she was running away from her uncle who wanted to marry her off, to me it was a suspense and adventure story, that she had to hide until her uncle gave up the chase, and then she was able to continue on to where she would be safe and be able to live her faith.”

For the largest part of Maria’s childhood, and even today, Native American history was and has been a big part of both of our lives. We still both enjoy learning and visiting Native American sites. In 1999 we flew out to Nevada for my oldest brother’s wedding. My husband and I decided we would make a side trip to Hoover Dam and on to the Grand Canyon. We never expected to be able to travel to the west coast, for us this was a miracle to have this opportunity, and we took it with gusto! Thank you, Lord!

The two days we spent at the Grand Canyon, were breathtaking. Walking the paths and looking down into this majestic wonder that God created is something neither of us will ever forget. Although, we did beg Maria to “please, just look at the big hole in the ground, once, please!”.

Maria’s biggest memory of the Grand Canyon was the Native American village we came upon in our walk. It was breathtaking!  We learned about the Native American homes, and community they lived in, and even had the opportunity to enter multiple homes and buildings, taking our time looking around, delving deeper into the life of the Native Americans.

We also watched performances of certain Native American rituals and dances, in the outfits that would be worn during special occasions. The colors of the outfits, and how the colors were obtained through nature were mind boggling to me. To learn how everything the Native Americans used by God had a specific purpose was inspiring to me, and at the same time I felt extremely guilty as I sat there changing my 4 1/2 month old’s disposable diaper, and thinking of the wardrobe she had at home that definitely was more then a week’s worth of clothing!  Hmmm, a lesson to be learned here regarding the stewardship of our country.

Maria’s second biggest memory of the Grand Canyon………..her walking stick, which we still have to this day!  I still need to varnish it, and place it on a rack in her room to display.  It is definitely a family story told again, and again, and each time I get to see a glimpse of that ecstatic little five year old  from 1999.

Now, the task at hand of discovering everything Native American had begun!  Once home, we absorbed together as much as we could regarding this culture. Maria’s first American Girl doll was Kayla, all the accessories, and the first set of books, she loved them! Little House on the Prairie books was another favorite of hers, moving into the Rose Years, the Caroline Years, and so forth. One was only limited by their imagination in our quest for any information regarding the history of Native Americans.

In third grade, Maria learned about the Lenape Native Americans that lived on the East Coast.  That year for her birthday, Maria’s Nana, gave her a Native American Nativity Set, it is absolutely beautiful and we all enjoy placing both Nativity’s side by side each year. (As soon as I figure out how to place pictures on my blog, I will. So far, I have not been successful!).  The deeper we delved into the East Coast Native Americans, we discovered Blessed Kateri Tekakawitha, and she has stayed with us ever since!

Tonight as I was working on my blog, I was searching for more information regarding the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakawitha and the miracle that has brought her to sainthood.

I discovered that Blessed Kateri interceded on the behalf of a little boy of Native American ancestry from the Lummi tribe of the Pacific Northwest, from a flesh eating bacteria that was attacking his face.

God is absolutely awesome……of course, it would make sense that a child of Native American ancestry would be blessed by the intercession of Bl. Kateri.  Does anyone miss how his disease was reflecting Bl. Kateri’s disease as a young child?   Bl. Kateri survived smallpox, yet had residual effects from this awesome disease, her face was scarred as his would have been from the treatment of his disease, along with the multiple surgeries he would need to even be able to have his face restored to the way it was prior to his disease, Bl. Kateri survived smallpox because of Our Lord. The rest of her family had perished during this epidemic.  God obviously had big plans for the “Lily of the Mohawks”.  The chances of this child surviving from this flesh eating disease, I’m sure were very poor, and yet God answered the prayers of so many people, who were praying for this little boy to be healed and cured, and that it be through the intercession of Bl. Kateri. What a beautiful gift to this little boy and his family, and what a gift to all of the individuals who have been praying for the canonization of Kateri for years.  What a beautiful miracle to be accepted for her canonization. Praise God!

Since we have discovered Bl. Kateri, I have heard that the shrine in Auriesville, NY is a very special shrine. Many miracles and cures have taken place there. I have heard it described at times as even “sacred ground”.   I pray that one day I will be blessed to be allowed to visit this wonderful shrine, along with my daughter, Maria. I believe it will be one of those wonderful mother-daughter times in our life’s that we will always remember and cherish together.

I would like to end my blog with a very special Happy Birthday to my niece, Faith who turns 12 years old today. Dear Lord, you have sent our family Faith, we thank you. She is a joy to all of us. Please continue to shower your graces upon her, and asking Our Blessed Mother, Mary to keep her protected and covered under her mantle. Amen.

I would also like to take the time to remember the Holy Soul of Earl “Big Red” Hill, who died in 2007 from kidney failure. He was a gentle giant and, for me, his death was unexpected.  I believe his youngest is the same age as my son, 12 years old. Eternal rest grant unto, Earl, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. Amen. Please continue to give Earl’s family strength and guidance during this time, and please guide his son’s to grow to be an honor to you Lord.

God’s peace to all of you!

Michele

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The Most Holy Name of Jesus

Link



Since the 16th century, the Catholic Church has given each month of the year a special devotion. For the month of January, the devotion is to the The Most Holy Name of Jesus. Some of the months have applicable indulgences, January is one of these months.  If you are interested in doing The Most Holy Name of Jesus Novena, please click on the link: http://www.catholictradition.org/Christ/holy-name2.htm#NOVENA

St. Paul first mentions The Most Holy Name of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11 “the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and how in reality our attitude should be the kind that was shown to us by Jesus Christ, who though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. He also humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.  Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

St. Bernardine of Siena, a 15th century Franciscan monk had a very deep devotion to The Holy Name of Jesus.   He used this devotion as a way of overcoming the frequent bitter and bloody class struggles, along with family rivals and vendettas that were considered a societal norm during this century in Italy. 

In 1530, Pope Clement approved an Office of the Holy Name for the Franciscans; then in 1721 Pope Innocent XIII extended the Feast Day to the entire church.

If you are interested in the Litany and Chaplet of The Most Holy Name of Jesus you will be able to find this information at the following site: http://www.catholictradition.org/Litanies/litany1.htm#BERNARDINE

I hope your New Years Day was a cherished and pleasant day, starting with peace within your own family, as we continue to pray for world peace and healing throughout the world. 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us as we work hard to follow your will in this upcoming 2012 year. Please give us the strength, will, perseverance and endurance to be your prayer warriors here on earth so that we may complete the mission you placed us here to accomplish. Amen. 

Michele  

 

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God



I absolutely love January 1st, the beautiful feast day of Our Lady, The Blessed Mother.  I’m not sure when it began to take root in my psyche, most likely as a child. Even though January 1st meant the return to school, there was more to it for me. Almost as though……not only was it a chance for a new beginning in a new year, I felt as though it was the reaffirmation that Our Lady was personally letting me know she is continuously with me, and for another year she will be watching over me, and protecting me. It’s a day that makes me as snug as a bug in a rug!

As I grew older, our family began to celebrate New Year’s Day by gathering together for dinner, along with dessert and the sharing of stories and memories of our childhood.  As a young adult, most New Year’s Eve’s I worked the 3 – 11 p.m. shift, and would find myself enjoying a “pity party” as I tried to get to a friend’s house by Midnight.  At that time in my life I was away from the church, and Our Lady, I’m sorry to say, was the last person on my mind. Only my own selfishness was on my mind.  The miracle that occurred during this time……………God never left me, and neither did his mother, or all the angels and saints.

Then came marriage, this holiday was the easy one to split. On New Year’s Eve, after mass, we went out to dinner with my husband’s side of the family, and then to his oldest brother’s home where we played games, talked, and would put the TV on exactly at 11:30 p.m. to watch Dick Clark and the excitement of the ball getting ready to drop and in general had a nice time. As soon as the ball dropped, the toasts were made, and out the door we went, arrived at home and into bed.

In 1993 our first child arrived. Something was beginning to change in me, although I was unable to put my finger on it, until now as I sit and type, I realize it was me growing as a woman and as a mom along with the slow beginning of my return to Catholic Church. My conversion was beginning…….one step forward, three steps back….I have since discovered conversions are an ongoing process, as soon as we begin to plateau at one level, is exactly when a “crisis” occurs for us to grow deeper into our faith, and to help sanctify our souls.

Little by little we were returning to mass on Sundays. By 1996, we were attending regularly! Praise God! What a miracle!  With each mass we attended, I left looking forward to the next Sunday. By Christmas of 1996, I was beginning to breathe in, and absorb all that went into the mass. I knew something beautiful was happening, and I couldn’t wait to find out what it was going to be!

New Year’s Eve day of 1996 we attended the 5 p.m. mass. We arrived early. It was my mother, my husband, daughter, and myself.  As we were sitting in the pew, getting ourselves settled for mass, the Music Director of our parish, the late Donival Brown, began singing “Mary, did you know?” from the choir loft. I was in tears; from that moment forward, I knew I would never miss another New Year’s Eve/New Year’s mass at our parish church. The Solemnity Mass of Our Lady, is one of the most beautiful masses I deeply cherish each year.

This year, my beautiful, very talented 18 yr. old daughter will be singing at our 9 a.m. parish mass.  I am looking forward to listening to her beautiful voice give homage to Our Blessed Mother of God!  How blessed our family has been with this gift!  Praise God!

In honor of Our Lady’s Feast Day, I have typed the Litany of Loreto to be prayed in thanksgiving to her:

Litany of Loreto

(Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, 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.

State “pray for us” after the following:

Holy Mary, .

Holy Mother of God,

Holy Virgin of virgins,

Mother of Christ,

Mother of divine grace,

Mother most pure,

Mother most chaste,

Mother inviolate,

Mother undefiled

Mother most amiable,

Mother most admirable,

Mother of good counsel,

Mother of our Creator,

Mother of our Savior,

Virgin most prudent,

Virgin most venerable,

Virgin most renowned,

Virgin most powerful,

Virgin most merciful,

Virgin most faithful,

Mirror of justice,

Seat of wisdom,

Cause of our joy,

Spiritual vessel,

Vessel of honor,

Singular vessel of devotion,

Mystical rose,

Tower of David,

Tower of ivory,

House of gold,

Ark of the Covenant,

Gate of Heaven,

Morning Star,

Health of the sick,

Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted,

Help of Christians,

Queen of angels,

Queen of patriarchs,

Queen of prophets,

Queen of apostles,

Queen of martyrs,

Queen of confessors,

Queen of virgins,

Queen of all saints,

Queen conceived without Original Sin,

Queen assumed into Heaven,

Queen of the most holy Rosary,

Queen of peace,

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,

Have mercy on us.

Christ graciously hear us.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God,

That we Thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal happiness.

Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

May you all have a blessed and wonderful New Year, and know that you are always loved!

May peace come to our world in the coming year of 2012.

Love and may God’s peace be with all of you.

Michele

 

 

 

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.