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

Thursday, July 11, 2013

needle and thread (no read, just lots and lots of gold thread)

 I am joining Elizabeth and friends today, but I...have....a confession to make.

Last fall a reader, a sister in Christ, and friend of my heart, contacted me and told me that her beloved son was going to be ordained a priest, a holy priest, this year. She inquired as to whether or not I would consider sewing his confessional stole, to be a gift from his parents. I thought about it and said "yes." I never thought it would be anything but simple (in many ways I am naturally optimistic, which sometimes is not a good thing). I have made complicated window treatments, fussy First Holy Communion dresses, lining zippers up just perfectly with waistlines of dresses (which ain't always easy, by the way).

I had never made a stole. I had no idea what I was in for. Besides the barricades that satan has put in my way (and don't think he doesn't care about liturgical vestments, because he does),  my inexperience has been very much in the way. Decisions made which had to be undone. Mistakes from suppliers, mail taking its good old time in Rome, fabric taking its good old time from England. The young man, now a beautiful priest, God bless him, was ordained in May and still he does not have his confessional stole. Fortunately he will never know all the obstacles, but he does know that it is delayed.

This week there have been some raw emotions as well as raw fingers. But, mama, I promise, this stole will be in your hands by next week. I have been sewing non-stop for days. I stop only to boil more water for tea, toss a load from the washer to the dryer and throw food on the table for my family. My husband does the dishes and says "Go sew." My daughter volunteers to help around the house so I can just sew. It has become a family sacrifice.

This is the kissing cross. Every little scallop on the edge gets a stitch, and on the curves two or even three. Four long, long edges, two sides, and two ends with fringe. (Pardon my nightgown, I start early.)

The embroidery was not done by me, I commissioned it by a woman in Connecticut. This stole has gotten around, I tell you.

This is the bottom edge. Since I took the picture I added the fringe and the bottom trim. Now one more end, and the purple trim to add. And it will be on it's way to you, overnight express, dear, sweet, patient lady!

You would think the tired fingers and sore fingertips, not to mention the humility involved in admitting over and over that you are unsure what to do would be the hardest part of this project.

But the hardest part of this project has been the emotion that it brings out. How many times I have had to stop, take off my glasses and just cry? This holy priest's mama will never know and nor will he (although if she just read that, I guess she has an idea).

This man, this sweet, holy man, for whom I am sewing is a man, yes, but a man in persona Christi. He will wear the stole when hearing confessions, baptizing babies, in the holy sacrifice of the Mass -- all in persona Christi. When I think about it, I just break down and weep. His mother knew that I would pray and I have. I pray the prayer of St. Michael that satan will leave me alone to work, and I pray Hail Mary after Hail Mary, and prayers to Our Lady Undoer of Knots each time my gold thread gets tangled, I pray to St. Joseph the worker to make my hands strong, and finally to St. Anne, the patron of seamstresses. I pray for this dear, sweet man who has given his life to God and I weep for myself, a lowly sinner, for the mistakes I have made, but God willing not on this precious stole.

Instead of reading right now I am listening to some music. Earlier I was listening, mostly to these heavenly sisters, but this song is on my playlist. I don't even need to say it was one of the many times I needed my tissues, right next to me on the table. This song says it all.


Click on the bottom right corners of the box for the full screen version. It's worth it. Oh, and do listen.


  1. Wow! Extremely beautiful!! You're doing an awesome job!!! Hugs!!!!

  2. Oh my Barbara!!!! WOW!!!
    How beautiful!!!

  3. God bless you, you dear, dear blessed lady! I knew when you said you were busy with a big project it had to be a vestment. I can just imagine your holy tears. (what I can't imagine is what it must be like to be his mother)
    Sancte Michael et Sancta Anna, orate pro nobis!

  4. Oh my goodness, that is beautiful! Almost as beautiful as you. :-)

  5. Oh, Barbara! This is the most beautiful of gifts! What an honor to be asked to be the handmaid who sews this stole for this newly ordained priest! His mother will be SO pleased, I just know it! She is a holy woman, and she is now blessed with a priestly son! He may never know how many prayers were prayed upon his stole, but they all will bless him in his ministry. God bless your work! God bless your family's sacrifice for this man of God!

  6. Dear friend, you posted this on the feast of St. Benedict and now--three days later and according to God's good plan for my time & my life--I am just sitting down to read it.

    Girlfriend, you are something else! I will be offering up prayers of thanksgiving for you at Mass today, because my mother's heart truly *gets* those tears you're shedding. Yes, the devil hates all things liturgical, and your tears (and prayers) for that young priest will not be wasted.

    Love you!

  7. I was checking your site tonight to make sure you had your scapular image still in plain sight because I am mentioning your Scapulars tomorrow in my Truth Himself blog post. WHAT A COMPLETE and JOYFUL SURPRISE to see THIS post!!!! What a labor of love beyond compare!!! Oh,my, oh my, oh holy my!!!! Be assured ... every breath of your prayers, every tear, (every scream?), every sacrifice in this project has had merit - only in and through God's economy will all this be realized... As I have mentioned before...God intentionally chose YOU (and your family) for this project, Barbara -and I praise and thank Him for that!!! Neither of us understand the 'why' of it - but together we trust that His Ways are right - and best!!
    Pope Pius V prayed, "Only give us good confessors, and reform of the Christian people is assured." This is my continual prayer for my son and his brother priests. Pope Benedict made the point that the New Evangelization begins in the confessional. Dear Fr Howe, soon donning this beautiful stole, will be an instrument of that liberation..."Your faith has saved you; go in peace." - And the angels will continue to witness a trail of tears being shed in the presence of that stole ... tears begun with the holy stream, the holy stain of yours that runneth over from your swollen and generous heart made tender through the very Heart of God. God be praised - now and forever.

  8. Oh, this brought tears of joy to me, the sacrifice in the work you are doing, for a holy priest. The blessings this stoll will bring...just overwhelming the blessings and joy....God bless you Barbara! Wow, very beautiful.


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!