Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grace under pressure

Earnest Hemingway said, "Courage is grace under pressure." I'm not sure how I feel about that statement.  I think grace is grace is grace. And the key to grace is our openness to the gift. 

When I started this little "mini-series" I really wanted to talk about weddings and how complicated they can get without any intention. And how, depending on which "side" you're on, you can see things one way, when they are really another, or vice versa. And all the different personalities involved really make for some interesting situations. It takes a lot of grace to keep yourself in check in many of those situations and with many of those personalities. I'm not certain if maybe this is one of those events you have to live through to really get. And, yes, we've all been brides, but I don't personally know anyone who planned and executed her own wedding. I won't say "it takes a village" but it does take a willing family, or community of people, all in it for the same reason.

Since Friday's Supreme Court decision, however, I am looking at this whole wedding, in hindsight, from a slightly different perspective. We could never have known it ahead of time, nor planned it in any way, but Joshua and Taylor were married on the last weekend that marriage was defined, in the United States, as the joining of one man and one woman. 

Yeah. I feel like they made a little history, by the grace of God.

Backing up a little, Josh and Taylor were engaged a little over two years ago. Joshua asked and Taylor said "yes" the night before Doug's father died, and though we knew he was close to the end, none of us knew just how close, and Joshua wanted his grandpa to know that he had chosen the woman with whom he would spend his life. Joshua Paul is named after his grandpa Paul, and they have very similar personalities -- they were two peas in a pod. So, it became important for Joshua to let grandpa know that he was "set for life," so to speak.

This is before they smeared frosting on each other's cheeks and noses.

Thus the two-year engagement, because they were sophomores in college at the time. I would never recommend it, just for what it's worth. That's way too much time to spend planning a wedding, in my opinion. Pinterest alone will get you bogged down in so many ideas, you may never be able to come up for air. In fact, I would go so far to say, if I was doing this all over again, I would have never even looked at pinterest.

When Josh and Taylor decided to get married at St. Charles, Taylor's mother and I and a few others, include the prospective bride and groom, met with Sister Margaret at the school. Sister Margaret, besides being a Franciscan sister and the school's senior English teacher, runs all the weddings that take place in the chapel. She is an incredible woman, and just between you and me, I call her Saint Margaret -- she is a gem.

Here she is pinning on Joshua's boutonniere.

At the end of that meeting, where she essentially told us what was needed and ran us through a quick version of the Mass, she prayed with us, and though I don't remember the exact words, what I took from it was "the more details you include in your wedding, the more things can upset your day -- keep it simple." And those are the truest words I can take away from our wedding experience. If you are planning a Nuptial Mass, you can plan a party or a fancy dinner afterward, but really, everything after the Mass is just...frosting.

Speaking of frosting, the bride and groom choose to use the wedding topper that was on our wedding cake 30 years ago this November. That's our cake knife, too.

"You will reciprocally promise love, loyalty and matrimonial honesty. We only want for you this day that these words constitute the principle of your entire life and that with the help of divine grace you will observe these solemn vows that today, before God, you formulate." ~Saint John Paul II

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

All Grace

"When you lean on grace, you surrender control, and that's not very appealing to many people, including Christians." 
Dave Burchett, Stay

When my son Joshua and his girlfriend Taylor became engaged, after three years of dating, starting in high school, we were very happy for them. It's wonderful knowing that a child, your child, has found the right person to be with for life. When Taylor converted to Catholicism, we were even happier. I think most of us will agree that the fewer issues a couple has that can become points of contention, the better. Taylor and Joshua are both pretty laid back, they rarely fight, and when one has an issue, the other is likely to give in, let it go. They are really one of the most perfect couples, as the compliment each other so well.

So, thoughts of a wedding ahead were fun, though we all, well most of us, agreed that with a wedding date two years away meant we were in no hurry to get the items on the checklists crossed off. The mother of the bride was anxious to get the ball rolling, but as the mother of the groom, I really felt my roll was to be cooperative and shut up. You know the old saying, "Wear beige and keep your mouth shut"? I admitted from the get-go that I was not very good at either -- I never wear beige, and I have been known to put my two-cents in rather frequently. I'm a mom. We do that.

Josh and Taylor decided they would be married at his high school, in the Mother of Mercy chapel, a "perk" available only to alumni (where Doug and I were also married). The school has a gorgeous Commons as well, which I proudly admit my husband raised the money to build. It is formerly the courtyard of the school, but when they built it, they closed in the wings of the building with an added a fourth wing (which is why in pictures it looks like the walls are the exterior of the building -- they used to be). It's three stories high with high windows and a glass roof. It's actually amusing to think of high schoolboys eating lunch in this space every day, as it is gorgeous for a special event. We scheduled the Chapel and the Commons, and Josh and Taylor asked one of my husband's classmates, who has become a dear family friend, to celebrate the Nuptial Mass. Those three tasks, which we agreed to pay for as well, started off the plans with what we thought were the most important aspects.

Meanwhile Taylor picked out a gown, and decided that she didn't like the dresses available off the rack as most of them were strapless, and she wanted a more modest dress for her bridesmaids. She had chosen most of her bridesmaids at the time, but added two more later, for a total of six adults, two junior bridesmaids and a flower girl -- quite a gaggle of girls. As she couldn't find dresses for all the different sized girls, and most bridesmaids dresses run in the $200-$300 range (outrageous!), I offered to help Taylor find a pattern and fabric and sew the dresses myself. Truly, I had no idea what I was getting into, but I wouldn't know that for quite a while.

"But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift." Ephesians 4:7

I had also offered to make the bride's veil, even before I offered to sew the dresses, so I knew I had to get my rear in gear, so to speak. The dresses slowly but surely were finished, and by early May the last dress was finished. I felt I was doing my part in the wedding plans, and God gave me the patience to get the job done -- an amazing feat I will say. I have always believed in God's grace, and I was surely shown that His grace doesn't come before you need it -- only when you do. It's faith that is required to set forth and know that God will be there to rain down the grace as needed.

Faith on right, and the other junior bridesmaid, Madison.

As the day of the wedding got closer and closer, I was busy sewing hundreds of beads and sequins to the bride's veil and trying to keep up with some of the tasks the bride's mother asked of me. But during those last weeks just before the wedding, I admit things got a little hot sometimes. The bride and groom came to me often because they felt the heat from the bride's mother, who herself was feeling the weight of the to-do lists. There were some very hot moments and I think on occasion we all lost it a little bit. The mother of the bride and I met one Saturday morning with Taylor and she gave me a list of things assigned to me, which were all manageable, but I admit after a 3-1/2 hour meeting, I really was starting to have my doubts if all expectations were reasonable. Somebody was bound to be disappointed, and it wasn't me.

"but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me."  2 Cor 12:9

To be continued...

Monday, June 22, 2015

They're Wed!

It's over, they're wed, and it was a glorious day despite pouring rain almost all day. The rain stopped just around 4 p.m. when the guests arrived at the church. Praise be to God!

I have a lot more photos and stories to tell. Today we're recovering and family is still in town, but I'll be back, just wanted you to know it's over and it was as glorious as anything on earth could be!

Friday, June 05, 2015

What we've been up to in 40 words or less

the cigars are a disgusting tradition

at the grotto at St. Charles


and dancing

four recitals, three days

sewing and sewing and sewing sequins and beads to lace and tulle
for many, many, many days

It is finished!

(pardon some pretty bad iPhotos)


In three days we have a grad party and in 15 days a wedding. Lord, just get me to June 21.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

"My Spirit Rejoices in God My Savior"

Jacopo Pontormo 


Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
Lk 1:39-56

"In professing her fiat, Mary believed in something impossible, and later, with unwavering faith, awaited its fulfillment. Contrary to all rational premises, she believed in God, and when she was confronted with new experiences she invariably adopted only this attitude."

(In the Arms of Mary pg. 124)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Call Your Mother

 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Immaculate Conception

So your strength is failing you? Why don't you tell your mother about it? . . . Mother! Call her with a loud voice. She is listening to you; she sees you in danger, perhaps, and she—your holy mother Mary—offers you, along with the grace of her son, the refuge of her arms, the tenderness of her embrace . . . and you will find yourself with added strength for the new battle."--St. Josemaria Escriva

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Mystical Rose

VELÁZQUEZ, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y
The Coronation of the Virgin

by Rev. M. J. Frings  
Jesus being the King and Mary the Queen in the realm of grace and glory, nature contains symbols that refer to Jesus and Mary. All things of this creation: from the flowers of the valley to the brilliant stars that illumine the night, all things in nature are symbols of the glorious mother of God. Among many such symbols used in Holy Scripture we find Mary called the mystical rose. The Church therefore regards the rose as a symbol of Mary. Let us see in what the likeness consists.
If on a summer's day we enter a garden, where various flowers through their form, color and sweet odor delight and refresh us, our eye is chiefly attracted by the rose. We are especially well pleased with it. The rose is the queen of flowers in form, color and fragrant odor, because of its beauty.
Let us turn now our gaze to the spiritual garden, the Church of Christ. The various flowers there are the faithful, adorned with piety and virtue, and spreading the fragrance of the saintliness with which God is pleased. In the Canticle of Canticles the Lamb of God is pictured as feeding among the lilies. A beautiful thought! It tells us how the Lamb of God, our divine Saviour, is fond of the flowers of God, the God-loving souls, as is the lamb of the lilies.
And in this garden of God, the Holy Church, Mary is the rose, the pride of the garden, the queen of the flowers. The rose is therefore the most beautiful symbol of Mary, of all saints the queen, exalted above all saints in sublimity, beauty, gentleness, and sweetness. Therefore, because Mary is among the saints what the rose is among flowers, she is called "the mystical rose." And the name rosary is to remind us of this.
The rose, furthermore, signifies the virtuous life of Mary the virgin. The rosebud is a beautiful symbol of virginity. it is hidden as under a veil. Lovely is the Christian virgin, hidden in the garb of innocence like a rosebud. Mary is the Virgin of Virgins, and can above all be compared to the fair and undefiled rosebud.
The open, blooming rose is an emblem of pure motherhood. Like the opened radiant rose the Christian mother is in the full vigor of life; her heart open with true love for her husband and children; and she unfolds her soul to heaven, so that through prayer she may receive the needed assistance for herself and hers. Through her good example in Christian virtues she spreads around her the fragrance of a God-pleasing life, and encourages those who associate with her to imitate her virtues.
Mary is the immaculate virgin and mother, mother of God, and of all mankind. She is the most noble and perfect of all mothers. Like a magnificent rose she shines in the splendor of her virtues, and is the perfect example for all mothers. Because her heart is fired with love for God and man, she is, as St. Jordanus says, likened to the flaming red rose.
There is no rose but has its thorns. The thorns are a figure of suffering, of sorrow, of the temptations in life, under which only a truly virtuous life can thrive.
St. Brigid relates in her revelations how she at one time was downcast because the enemies of Christ were so powerful, and how she was consoled by the mother of God herself, who told her to remember the rose among the thorns. "The rose," so said Mary, "gives a fragrant odor; it is beautiful to the sight, and tender to the touch, and yet it grows among thorns, inimical to the beauty and tenderness. So may also those who are mild, patient, beautiful in virtue, be put to a test among adversaries. And as the thorn, on the other hand, guards, so do wicked surroundings protect the just against sin by demonstrating to them the destructiveness of sin."
The life of Mary was interwoven with many sorrows and she is justly called "a rose among thorns." St. Brigid says: "The Virgin may suitably be called a blooming rose. Just as the gentle rose is placed among thorns, So this gentle Virgin was surrounded by sorrow."
The rose obtains its life through the stem, to which it is closely united. A rose broken from the stem will soon wither. So Mary received all her graces from Jesus, with whom she was united throughout he liveliest faith and ardent love.
Mary is in truth a spiritual, a mystic rose. The rose therefore is a fitting symbol of the virtuous life of the mother of God. As mystical rose she deserves our admiration and veneration, and she must be our example and model in all Christian virtues, the model of a true spiritual life.

From The Excellence of the Rosary (Published in 1912)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Holy is His Name

 Peter Paul Rubens
The Holy Family with St Elizabeth

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her savior, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord. “For the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fill with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.
– Saint Bede the Venerable from a homily

Monday, May 25, 2015

Our Lady of America, pray for us

Oh Immaculate Mother, Queen of our country, open our hearts, our homes, and our land to the coming of Jesus, your Divine Son. With Him, reign over us, O heavenly Lady, so pure and so bright with the radiance of God's light shining in and about you. Be our leader against the powers of evil set upon wresting the world of souls, redeemed at such a great cost by the sufferings of your Son and of yourself, in union with Him, from that same Savior, Who loves us with infinite charity.
We gather about you, O chaste and holy Mother, Virgin Immaculate, Patroness of our beloved Land, determined to fight under your banner of holy purity against the wickedness that would make all the world an abyss of evil, without God and without your loving maternal care.
We consecrate our hearts, our homes, our Land to your Most Pure Heart, O great Queen, that the kingdom of your Son, our Redeemer and our God, may be firmly established in us.
We ask no special sign of you, sweet Mother, for we believe in your great love for us, and we place in you our entire confidence. We promise to honor you by faith, love, and the purity of our lives according to your desire.
Reign over us, then, O Virgin Immaculate, with your Son Jesus Christ. May His Divine Heart and your most chaste Heart be ever enthroned and glorified among us. Use us, your children of America, as your instruments of peace among men and nations. Work your miracles of grace in us, so that we may be a glory to the Blessed Trinity, Who created, redeemed, and sanctifies us.
May your valiant spouse, St. Joseph, with the holy Angels and Saints, assist you and us in "renewing the face of the earth." Then when our work is over, come, Holy Immaculate Mother, and as our Victorious Queen, lead us to the eternal kingdom, where your Son reigns forever as King.

More about Our Lady of America and the apparition, here.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mary Queen of Peace

Mary, Mother of God my mother, 
Queen of Peace,
 ask your Son Jesus to give me the gift of peace. 
Pray for me for peace; peace in my heart, 
peace of mind and of soul, peace in my family, 
peace with all whom I meet, the peace of Jesus.
Jesus, my Lord and Savior, my Brother, King of Peace, 
I come to you with Mary, Queen of Peace, 
to ask you humbly for a new outpouring of the gift of peace. 
Pour out on me your Holy Spirit of Peace.
Give me peace, Jesus, peace within myself, peace in my family, 
peace in my everyday life. 
Give peace to my nation, and to all nations, 
peace among all peoples, peace in the world.
Jesus, my mediator with the Father, 
take me to the Father to pray for peace.
Father, Father of Jesus, our Father, my Father, 
I come to you with your Son Jesus.
 In Him and with Him and through Him I pray for peace.