Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Mary's Assumption into Heaven

  What a fantastic day!  So often I have tried to imagine the magnificence of this moment, but my mind can not come close to comprehending the glories that awaited Mary!  I am left holding my rosary beads on bended knees and wondering what that moment might have been like......


Friday, August 11, 2017

Drop Everything

  Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave's name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back in it's sheath. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?"                    John 18:10-11

  Before Simon Peter denied Jesus, and before he ran away, he drew his sword, and was ready to fight.  How difficult it must have been for Peter, not to be able to defend himself. Was he really just supposed to stand there and trust in God's Plan? Does God really want us to stand empty handed when confronted with evil? I guess if we are holding on to our own devices, our hands will be too full to accept the graces God would like to give us.  We have to let go and be vulnerable.  We have to be willing to lay down our life.  We have to give our life completely to God.
  During difficult times in your life, how do you defend your actions or words?  Do your fears cause you to rely on the strength of weapons or is your faith strong enough to trust God?  How hard is it for you to rely completely on God?  Take some time to really think about it and spend some time talking it over with God.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Mercy, Mary, and Me

  Theresa and I had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a "Mercy and Mary Retreat" given by Father Michael Gaitley of the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy.  He enthusiastically encouraged all of  us to strive to become saints. We are living in a time when it is easier than ever to become a saint, because "It is the Time of Mercy!"
  Does Father Gaitley know some secret or short cut to sainthood?  He definitely knows a short cut, and he is not keeping it a secret. Consecrate your heart to Mary. "Mary, is the safest, easiest, shortest and most perfect way of approaching Jesus," according to St. Louis De Montfort.  Mary teaches us to trust in Jesus.  She directs our steps.  Trusting in Jesus and His merciful love will transform us into saints!
  I consecrated myself to Mary more than a decade ago.  Little by little, Mary brings me closer to the sacred heart of her Son. I have so much to learn, and I am relying on Mary to show me her ways.
  Father Gaitley has written several good books.  He has a gift for simplifying spiritual truths into small bite size pieces that are easy to digest.  All his books are wonderful but I would like to recommend starting with "33 Days to Morning Glory" or the "Second Greatest Story Ever Told".  Sainthood isn't just for a lucky few, sainthood is also being offered to you. This is an opportunity to wonderful to pass up.  We plan for so many things during our lifetime, be sure you are planning for eternity as well.


Friday, August 4, 2017

I Got A Feeling...

   Did you ever have the feeling you should do something and you have no idea why?  I love when the Holy Spirit gently leads me in a certain direction and I am not even aware that it is happening.  This is exactly what occurred while I was on my vacation.
  We were supposed to be spending the entire day at the water park.  Where else would you want to be on a 106 degree day?  We were waiting in line to ride the Colossal Curl when a clap of thunder and lightening came out of nowhere.  Next we heard a voice over the speaker announcing that a severe storm was in the area and all the rides would be closed down.  I never saw a crowd of people empty a park so quickly.  We went back to our accommodations and waited for the storm to pass. However to our surprise, the skies turned blue again and so we made new plans to spend spend the evening at Busch Gardens.
  My children were very excited to ride the roller coasters, but after I rode the first one, I realized my body did not seem to like the thrill as much as I did when I was younger.  I encouraged my kids to go discover the next roller coaster with out me.  I told them I was happy to just walk around and snap some pictures.
  As I was walking around I noticed people walking into the outside concert area.   I didn't even see the sign who would be performing, but for some reason I thought I would just go in and check it out. As I sat and waited for the show to begin, I wondered if I should just get up and find my kids. I stood up to go when I had the feeling that maybe I should just stay.  I had no idea I was about to have an amazing experience!
  After a short wait, the performer took his place on stage. Christian rock singer Jeremy Camp took the stage. He put on an incredible show!  The crowd was completely energized with his music and moved with his own personal testimony between songs. I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be at that moment even though it was nothing I had even planned.  It was incredible to be among so many people (most of them much younger than myself) praising Jesus through song with the sights and sounds of roller coasters in the background.  It was a hand clapping, feet stomping, fist pumping energized group of people lifting their voices to Jesus!  I had a great time!  I left the concert so inspired and endlessly thanked the Holy Spirit for leading me here.
  I would definitely recommend listening to Jeremy Camps songs if you enjoy Christian rock.  I would like to share a short clip of his song "Only in You" from his concert.  I hope you enjoy!


Monday, July 31, 2017

Vacationing With God #12 - St. Anthony's Chapel, Pittsburg Pennsylvania

  From the outside, St. Anthony's Chapel appears to be a typical yet beautiful brick church  with a statue of St. Anthony standing between two towering steeples.  However, once you step inside this chapel you will discover there is nothing typical about this church.  St. Anthony's Chapel has more than 4200 relics contained in 800 different cases.  Outside the Vatican, no other church contains this many relics. There were relics from the twelve apostles, a piece of wood form the true cross, a piece of wood from the table of the last supper. There were bones, skulls, remnants of clothing from hundreds of saints including St. John the Baptist, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Anthony, St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, St. Catherine, St. Nicholas, St. Sebastian, St. Frances, St. Phillip Neri, and the list goes on and on.
  My children were taken back.  Their previous exposure to relics was very limited.  My son asked, "Why would someone take a saint's bone? "
  I explained that the Church has a long history of venerating sacred objects from the saints.  The relics remind us to pray for the intercession of that saint.  We remember their example of living out the Gospel and they inspire us to do the same.
 Then my son said very quietly, "I'm not sure if I can believe these relics are real."
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because if these are all real, how come this church isn't filled with people?  Why wouldn't everyone want to see this?"
  "That's a good question," I said.  "The streets sure were crowded back by our hotel with everyone going to the Pirates baseball game."   
  This church shouldn't be packed just to see the relics, though, the church should be packed in order to spend time with Christ in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  Our actions always speak volumes of what we hold dear.  As I looked around at the hundreds and hundreds of relics from so many different saints, I wondered if this wasn't a small taste of heaven.  In heaven we will be together amidst all the saints worshipping God. As I knelt down to pray I couldn't help but smile when I imagined how incredible that day will be.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

We All Have a Story to Tell

        Theresa and I are back from vacation.  It's always nice to get out of town and experience new adventures.  Sometimes stepping out of the usual routine of things offers a new perspective.  I found that when I returned back home my house was just as I had left it, but I feel a wind of change blowing through it.
  I have a series called "Vacationing With God" in which I describe my experiences in the different cathedrals I have visited  (I have some new entries that will be coming soon.)  However, I felt God throughout this entire vacation in so many little ways, that I would like to share these stories as well.
  While we were in Virginia, we attended mass in a church not far from where we were staying.  It just happened to be there evangelization week called "Everyday Witnessing".  The priest gave a good homily telling a few short little stories from his childhood.  They were just small moments and experiences with his family that had a big impact on his faith life.  He tied all the stories together by saying this, "We all have a story to tell. We need to tell others about our experiences with God.  The more we share these stories, the more the Holy Spirit will be present in our lives, and our hearts will catch on fire."
  I sat in my pew wondering, "Wow, is this homily written for me?  Is this a pep talk from God encouraging me to continue to share my experiences and little stories?"  I came to the conclusion that yes this homily was definitely for me, but it was also for everyone else as well.  Evangelization is everyone's mission. We all need to inspire each other along the journey.  You never know how your words might influence someone.  Your small stories may be the spark that sets someone's faith life on fire, or it may rekindle a fire that has almost burned out.  
  I would like to encourage everyone to start telling their stories.  Don't over-think it.  Don't worry if it's good enough.  It is!  Just do it!  Tell everyone how God is present is your life.  It would be a shame if no one ever knew the beautiful story of you and God.

 ( If you would like to share your story here, please send it our way! Just hit the "contact us" option and email it to us.)


Monday, July 17, 2017

Hidden Treasure

    "Mom!  Come here!  Look what I just found," said five year old Heidi.
    Andrea saw her daughter squatting down next to one of the larger trees in the park.  "What are you looking at Heidi?"
  "Look, Mom, do you see it?  It's a purple ladybug!  It's so cute!"
  Andrea bent down and peered into the bottom trunk of the tree and saw a rock painted like a ladybug.  "Oh, that is cute," said Andrea.  "I wonder who put it here."
  "Can I pick it up and see if there is a name on the back?" Heidi asked.
  "Sure, why not."
  Heidi reached into the tree, pulled out the rock, and tried to read the back.  It said, "I hope I made you smile.  Love, God."  Heidi's eyes grew as big as her smile.  "Mom, God put this ladybug here to make me smile.  I didn't even know He was thinking about me!" exclaimed Heidi.
  Andrea smiled too and said, "Well this must be our lucky day!  We have found a hidden treasure!"
  "You think this ladybug is a treasure?"
  "Not the ladybug, but the message on the back. God found a way to say 'I love you' to us today.  I'd say we struck it rich today!"
  Heidi smiled again hoping God would notice how happy He made her.  "Hey, Mom, can I take the ladybug home with us?"
  "No, we better leave it here.  God may need to give that message to someone else, too."
  "Ok.  Can we go home and tell Dad we found a treasure?"
  "That sounds like a great idea.  Let's go!" agreed Andrea.  Andrea and Heidi walked hand and hand out of the park towards home.  As they walked they never even noticed thirteen year old Autumn sitting on a park bench pretending to read a book.
  Autumn made the sign of the cross and began to pray.  "Hey God, did you see that?  Your idea totally worked!  I used the talent you gave me to spread your message!  Did you see how happy it made that little girl and her mom?  And I feel great inside, I made a difference!  Thank you for letting me a part of Your Plan!"
  Autumn closed her eyes and heard God whispered, "Thank you for listening to My Plan.  I need to get this message out to a lot of people.  This is only the beginning...."