We are a Eucharistic people

Adoration

Adoration in Marytown, photo by Father Matthew P. Schneider, LC

Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19:27

I have been reading Saint John Paul the Great’s encyclical, Ecclesia De Eucharistia, and it is a thing of beauty.  I wanted to reflect on some of what is said as I pondered what he wrote.

Christ gave totally of himself on Calvary.  His death on the cross took on our sins and brought heaven and earth back together again, healing the broken bond that original sin had brought.  Our bodies and our souls were never meant to be separated.  But Adam and Eve at the taste of original sin, “knew they were naked” and invited the corruption and disunity into the world.

At each Mass, we again have the opportunity for heaven and earth together. We pray for the Resurrection of the Body in our Creed.  In Chapter two paragraph 22 of the encyclical  Saint John Paul the Great states, “We can say that each of us not only receives Christ, but also that Christ receives each of us.” I would like to expound on this.  Christ gifted himself on the cross and at the Eucharistic table so that we may be invited back into union with God.  This is a divine action,  God becoming incarnate, taking on our sins, leaving us a way to tangibly become in union with Him.  In our human nature, we were given total free will.  If we, gift ourselves freely back to the God who sacrificed himself for us, that is, if we approach the Eucharist with a total gift of ourselves to God, our will can become one with His.  He can receive us to Himself and conform our will to His.  Interestingly, it is said that in the Eucharistic miracles His blood has been tested and is AB – the universal receiver.  This suggests to me, that we are to give ourselves freely to Him and He receives us, making us one with him.

Paragraph 23 states, “Eucharistic communion also confirms the Church in her unity as the body of Christ.”  If we were each gifting ourselves back to God, uniting our DNA to the DNA of God, we become a body of Christ that permeates love.  One that does not shy away from sacrifice, even unto death, for the sake of one another.  This kind of self-giving love is reflective of the Trinity.  We would become in union with God.

The last chapter of the Encyclical addresses the very person who the Church looks to as having union with God,  Mary, our Mother.  The encyclical states in chapter 6 paragraph 53, “Mary can guide us towards the most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.”  It goes on to say in paragraph 54, “Mary is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life.”  And in paragraph 55 continues, “she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s word.”  Indeed one could infer that during the Incarnation, Mary said to God, “this is my body, given up for you,” as she chose freely to be the vessel that brought our Lord to the earth to save us.  Mary has a very unique relationship with the Eucharist, as she too sacrificed herself for God’s sake, so then in turn He could sacrifice Himself for all of us.  She is indeed a co-redemptrix.  And because of our ability to gift ourselves back to God in union with the Eucharist, we too can partake in this.  It extends to us.

For every mother who bears a child or cares for a child,  she says, “this is my body given up for you.”  For every husband and wife who freely give to one another in the marital act, “this is my body given up for you.”  For every parent who works with “the work of human hands” to provide for their family, “this is my body given up for you.” For every child who cares for an elderly parent, “this is my body given up for you.”   For every Priest who lives the vow of celibacy, “this is my body given up for you.”  I could go on, and how much better would the world be if we all lived this Eucharistic way of life.  It is a life of thanksgiving that is willing to sacrifice.  We should be living the Mass in all that we do everyday of our lives.

Conversely, the world twists this beautiful notion, buying into the same Father of Lies that deceived in the Garden. As Peter Kreeft so adeptly pointed out, turning this sacrifice of oneself into a demonic parody, women now chant, “this is my body — I will not give it up for you.” And we use birth control to break that which has been beautifully made.  The serpent would like nothing more than for us to not even exist, and we have bought into it.  But unity is what God wants for us.  Body and Soul in harmony – and an acceptance of self-sacrifice.  This is true love.

This is the very idea of family.  Each one sacrificing for the other.  As I have stated before Mary is all things relationship with the Trinity.  She sacrificed herself to each.  It is no wonder that the Father of Lies hates her and wants to attack the family.  But she wants to be, “Our Lady Healer of Families,” she wants us to be a Eucharistic family.   It is in following this human creatures FIAT, that we can find the Eucharistic example, begun at the Incarnation, and completed on the cross.  It is why at the Ascension and the Assumption, God and the Mother of God had unity between body and soul.  I think our incorruptible Saints give us but a small glimmer of this.

If we all give freely of ourselves back to God, we become a Eucharistic people who permeate the world with love.  The Gospel of John chapter 6 makes clear the Eucharist is of central importance, and like John if we take Mary into our homes, we can live by her example.  Once we know this, then like Peter, we can conclude that we have no where else to go, because these are the words of eternal life.  If we live what the Eucharist is, His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

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It’s not About You

Hubble Space telescope

Overlapping Galaxies – Hubble Space Telescope Picture

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. Luke 9:24

A couple of weeks ago I was having a pity party.  A woe is me kind of day.  I was having some anxiety about attending an event and about what people may think of me.  The event was fine.  In fact it was great.  But as I left the event, I was still feeling sorry for myself.

I ended up going into our Cathedral downtown.  It was dark inside except for the sanctuary lamp.  I stood in the center of the massive Cathedral and poured out my lamentation to God.  I imagine God must have listened to me and thought I sounded very much like the teacher on Charlie Brown.  Wah wah wah wah wah.  Thinking about it now I feel a bit ashamed.  This is not to say that we shouldn’t bring our sufferings to God, in fact He is the very first place we should bring them, but it is to say we need to take a look at what is selfish inside of us and make an effort, with God’s help, to change it.

As I stood there, I very clearly heard God say, “It’s not about YOU.”  It was a rebuke.  Then he continued, “BE SECURE IN MY LOVE FOR YOU, stop thinking only of yourself, and go out and love other people.”

I realized that my way of thinking is something that is plaguing all of us.  It’s getting so stuck in ourselves and our selfishness that we are not able to even love or be kind to our fellow man.  I thought about how I didn’t really smile or say hello to anyone because of how I was feeling sorry for myself.  I missed out on fellowship and friendship because of my fear.  Now, I realize in my humanity that this is somewhat normal, but God isn’t asking me to stay normal.  God’s love is extraordinary, and if we are secure in it, it can permeate our lives and spread joy outward to others.

I said to the Lord, “you’re right, it’s not about me — it’s about you!”  I decided to leave and head to the Aquinas Adoration Chapel, where my prayer could become about Him.  God provided me consolation while I was there.  As I sat staring at the Monstrance, the Lord showed me in my prayer how big the universe is.  I honestly felt like I was scrolling through pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope.  He showed me I am like an ant, or a grain of sand, and how big He is and how He created the vast universe.  It was a paradoxical feeling because on the one hand I felt so completely loved.  And on the other hand I felt so immensely small.  I realized how I lament, sometimes over big things, but often it is over stupid petty things, and how in the grand scheme of life they are just a drop in the bucket to God.  He wants me to be stripped of my ego and selfishness and to bring His love to the world.  He let me know that I am the most loved grain of sand, as are each and every one of you out there.  He is intimately involved in your life.  And when you let Him in like that, you can face anything.  And I really do mean anything because He is where true freedom lies.

In my Peaceful Place in my home I have both a Divine Mercy Image, and a Sacred Heart Image.  The Divine Mercy Image says, “Jesus I trust in you” and the Sacred Heart Image says, “Behold this heart that has so loved men.” As I was staring at them one day in prayer I felt like the images combined.  What came out of that was I felt the Lord say to me, “Jesus, I trust that you love me. ”  We don’t seem to know this, and because of that we look inward at ourselves and it makes us miss the joy of the world.  So for tonight I want to leave you with this, BE SECURE IN HIS LOVE FOR YOU and repeat to yourself JESUS I TRUST THAT YOU LOVE ME.  Then take the time to go out and spread his love to other people.

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Until I see you again

Eva and Susan

Me and Eva when she found out the cancer was back

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

I first met Eva a little less than two years ago in the neighborhood Mexican restaurant.  I was having dinner with some good friends, and I noticed the woman at the table behind me was crying.  She was with her son and husband.  My friends knew her from the neighborhood swim team and they told me she had pancreatic cancer.  As we got up to leave, I felt compelled to walk over to her table and give her a hug, so I did.  It turned out she had just returned from a funeral of another friend she had met who also had pancreatic cancer.  She told me, “it seems you don’t survive.”

Eva was very open about her sufferings, and mostly how she didn’t want to leave her adopted son motherless.  She vowed to fight, and fight it she did.  I don’t think I have ever met anyone with the will to live as strong as hers was.  Her son was her heart.  Throughout her journey she welcomed prayer.  She got all of us in the neighborhood and beyond outside of ourselves and coming together in prayer.  We were Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists and I believe even agnostic but there in that living room there were no labels, there was no fighting.  We were just human beings who saw a mother and a wife suffering, who put our differences aside and prayed together for healing for her.  It was a glimpse of what I think life could be if we stopped labeling each other and started loving each other, something this world so very desperately needs.

There were many points on her journey where she almost passed away.  One of those times was back last October of 2015.  She called me back then and told me she saw the other side of the veil, and she knew it was all about forgiveness.  She said we need to forgive one another.  I knew that was a revelation from heaven because I know it’s true.  My cousin had painted some paintings of Jesus and Mary and sent them to her.  She said staring at them she knew she wanted to become Catholic.  She had an understanding of the Eucharist, and so, there in her hospital bed, she received the Sacraments.  I wept.  It was beautiful.

She had a brief remission from her cancer (which it probably wasn’t) and we were elated, but a short 3 months later, the cancer was back with a vengeance.  Eva struggled.  She told me maybe God was punishing her because she had made some promises she didn’t keep.  I told her God didn’t work that way.  He knows our weakness, and loves us in it, and as long as we keep coming to Him and not rejecting Him, his grace is sufficient.  She asked me if I ever got sick of God, and I told her that I did not, but sometimes I got sick of religious people.  She said that was it!  People had told her she was sick because she didn’t have enough faith.  I told her that God never promised us we wouldn’t suffer, in fact, as long as we’re on this earth we will definitely suffer.  The most powerful thing we can do is unite our suffering to the cross.  Jesus Himself suffered more than any of us.  That is true love.  Christ on the Cross.  I believe Eva did unite her suffering to Christ’s though she may not have known it.  She willingly suffered for love of her son and husband.  She endured hours of chemotherapy even after she was told she was terminal, because the chemo could prolong her life.  She wanted to be around for Michael.  She wanted him to have a mother and to know that he was loved.  She told me more than once she was grateful for the cancer because it got her priorities in order.  Her body was battered and beaten by the beast that is cancer and she continued to fight to live for them.

In her final days she called me when I was in St. Louis with my dad.  She told me it was time for her to go and she was scared.  I told her that the most stated phrase in the bible is “Do not be afraid.” She told me that made her feel better.  She told me she wanted me and Fr. Bala to be at her funeral, but both of us were out of town.  She held on long enough for both of us to get back.  She will get her wish.

When I came back from St. Louis it was apparent how bad the cancer had spread.  She endured more in her little physical body than anyone I have seen.  The last thing we said to each other was, “until I see you again.”  On Monday, I went by her house.  She had fallen and hit her head.  The nurse said she would likely never wake up again.  She had a picture of Michael on her chest.  She looked peaceful.  I knelt at her bedside and said a prayer. I whispered, “until I see you again,” and said goodbye to her husband.   When I left I said a Divine Mercy Chaplet for her on the way to teach my RCIA class.  A mere three hours later she passed away.

I want to thank everyone out there who has prayed for her.  I know a Mass was said at a high altar at St. John Cantius in Chicago for her this morning.  It is breathtaking how many people have been touched by her life and story.  I have little doubt of where she is, with all the prayers said for her, and knowing the love of our merciful God, and how Eva sacrificed to stay alive for her family.  Please keep praying for Eva’s husband Andrew, and her son Michael as they now navigate life without her.

Until I see you again sweet friend….

Funeral Mass is on Friday, March 17, 2017

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Requiescat in pace Eva Vaughan

Eva Vaughan passed away at 8:15 pm on Monday, March 13, 2017, Tennessee, USA.

Eternal Rest grant unto her O Lord.

And may Perpetual light shine upon her.

And may the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God Rest In Peace. Amen.

The last thing we said to each other was, “until I see you again.”

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Our Lady Healer of Families (part 1)


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Over the past year or so people have come to me over and over again asking me to pray for their families.  Parents estranged from children.  Children angry with parents.  Spouses at war.  Siblings who don’t speak.  Family members chained by addictions of all kinds.   Family members who are sick and caregivers who are exhausted.  I feel like I am seeing the front lines of the attack on and suffering of the Family.

In my prayer I have felt our Lady tell me over and over again that she is in union with the Divine will.  She is all things relationship with the Trinity.  Daughter of the Father, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Mother of the Son.  She knows union with God and we can, by following her example, have loving relationships with one another.

This week in my prayers I very clearly heard her tell me that she wants to heal Families.  That she is Our Lady Healer of Families and she wants a devotion under this title.  She asked me to have an Icon painted and a Litany written.  But she didn’t want me to write it.  She identified to me who she wanted to do these two things.  My cousin, Kathleen Carr, to paint the Icon, and a friend of mine to write the Litany.  She called them both, “My daughters, my friends.”  I called both my cousin and my friend.  My cousin informed me she had prayed only the night before about what to paint next — and then I called her in the morning.  She was amazed and quickly said she would do it so I gave her the parameters I saw in my prayer.  Her Icon will be part two of this post.  Please keep her in prayer as she paints.

My friend also agreed to write the Litany but has asked that her name be withheld and that you focus solely on the prayer.  I decided to post the prayer even though the Painting isn’t ready because in the past two days I have had multiple people come to me asking for prayers for their families.  I was told in prayer to promulgate this Litany and so I am posting it now.  We will also be rolling out a full Novena with the painting.  The Novena will be prayed for 9 days and then saying a Rosary.  So without further ado here is the Litany;

Litany to Our Lady Healer of Families

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of the Heavenly Father

Pray for us

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of the Alpha and Omega

Pray for us

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of the Creator of Heaven and Earth

Pray for us

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of Yahweh, the great I AM

Pray for us

Hail full of grace,

Daughter of St. Anne & St. Joachim

Pray for us

Most favored daughter

Pray for us

Most devoted daughter

Pray for us

Most obedient daughter

Pray for us

Most peaceful daughter

Pray for us

Most pure daughter

Pray for us

Most joyful daughter

Pray for us

Most modest daughter

Pray for us

Our Lady Healer of Families, the Lord is with you

Mary, Daughter of God the Father

Pray for us

 

Blessed are you,

Spouse of the Holy Spirit

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of the Paraclete

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of the Consuming Fire

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of the Peaceful Dove

Pray for us

Blessed are you,

Spouse of St. Joseph

Pray for us

Most merciful spouse

Pray for us

Most humble spouse

Pray for us

Most selfless spouse

Pray for us

Most hopeful spouse

Pray for us

Most loyal spouse

Pray for us

Most unified spouse

Pray for us

Most affectionate spouse

Pray for us

Our Lady Healer of Families, the Lord is with you

Mary, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit

Pray for us

 

Holy Mary,

Mother of Jesus Christ

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of the Prince of Peace

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of The Word

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of The Way

Pray for us

Holy Mary,

Mother of the Eucharist

Pray for us

Most patient mother

Pray for us

Most gentle mother

Pray for us

Most encouraging mother

Pray for us

Most accepting mother

Pray for us

Most gracious mother

Pray for us

Most consoling mother

Pray for us

Most prayerful mother

Pray for us

Our Lady Healer of Families, the Lord is with you,

Mary, Mother of God the Eternal Son

Pray for us

 

Mary, Daughter of the One True God

Put an end to all heresies

Mary, Spouse of the Divine Spirit

Restore unity among all of humanity

Mary, Mother of the Divine Son

Crush the head of Satan and lead all souls back to Jesus

 

O Most Holy Trinity,

In our efforts to love one another more perfectly

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to sow peace in our relationships

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to care for the needs of others

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to offer up our sufferings for the salvation of souls

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to speak Your truth in word and deed

Unite us and bring healing

In our efforts to surrender our will to Yours

Unite us and bring healing

 

Oh Most Immaculate Virgin, Daughter of God the Father, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Mother of Jesus Christ our Savior, you are the perfect example of human relationship with the Divine Will. Help us, O Most Holy Mother, to heal the broken bonds within our families, our friendships, and all our other relationships. Help us to love others the way that Christ loves us with self-sacrificing love. In particular, heal my relationship with (state intentions here). Intercede for us O Holy Daughter, Spouse, and Mother, so that through the mercy of God, the chains of division will be broken, uniting us once again as you are ever united to the Most Holy Trinity. We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Beauty in the midst of hardship

st-louis

St. Louis Basilica, St. Louis, MO

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

This past week I had to drive with my parents to St. Louis so my father could have an operation to alleviate some of his excruciating back pain.  This required that I leave my husband and kids and travel 5 hours to stay for a week so my dad could have testing done before his surgery. We left on Monday.   His surgery was scheduled for Friday.

As I now do, I began the trip with my prayer of Bless it Lord, or Block it Lord.  There is a certain amount of anxiety my parents have too, so I shared with them my prayer.  I know God blessed it.

We made it to St. Louis uneventfully, and one of the first things I always do when I get to a new town is look for the Catholic church nearby.  I found one within a mile and a half.  I have been told you can find a Catholic Church almost everywhere in St. Louis.  The one that I found was called St. Richard.  My mom was thrilled with this because Richard was her father’s name and she had never heard of a St. Richard church.

I drove by myself to St. Richard so I could go pray while mom and dad stayed back at the hotel room.  I was praying for Our Lady’s help, with all the things going on in life.  I arrived at St. Richards and was disappointed to find the doors locked.  But a man was coming out of the rectory next door so I stopped and asked if I could go in and pray.  He informed me that I could and he let me in the church.  He told me they had to start locking the doors because the church down the road, St. Monica, had been burned in an arson fire just after Christmas.  I felt sad that these are the times we live in.

He let me in the church and I began to pray a Rosary for my dad’s surgery and many other things.  I looked for Mary, and found her to the left of the altar.  It was our Lady of Perpetual Help, and I knew everything would be okay since I had been asking for her help. I felt Our Lady pour love over me and speak to me.

our-lady-of-perpetual-help-at-st-richard

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Icon at St. Richards Church

Later in the week I took my mom and Dad back to St. Richard.   The kind Pastor of the Church gave my dad Anointing of the Sick.  Mom and Dad prayed before the Image of Divine Mercy.

dad-and-mom-praying

Mom and Dad praying before Dad’s surgery

Then on Thursday the day before the surgery, we got a call from the Doctor’s office saying the surgery had to be postponed due to an emergency the Doctor was called to.  They would not be able to do surgery until Monday, another 3 days away.  My parents were so disappointed.  In addition, my husband called to tell me my daughter had the flu.

I went in my hotel room and cried, and prayed.  I felt out of control.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  I felt the Lord tell me as he often does, “trust me.”  He imparted upon me that He was in control and to abandon myself to Him.  I came out of the room and told my parents there was a reason for the delay and we must trust.  I called my husband and told him to take care of my baby girl and I called my boss to let her know I would not be at work for another few days.  Thankfully all parties were supportive.

It didn’t take long for God to show me just why he is in control and I am not.  I decided on Friday to take my parents to St. Louis Basilica.  On the way there we received a phone call from my cousin and my Aunt.  It turns out they were in St. Louis for a cancer treatment for my Aunt, and we would get to see each other.  Something that given my parents ages and conditions would not normally be a possibility.  I thanked God for the Blessing and apologized for always questioning him.

me-and-dad-at-st-louis

Dad and I in front of St. Louis Basilica

We arrived at the Basilica. My dad has pain when standing or walking too much so I brought the wheelchiar.  This made us enter through the handicap access door, and when I opened the door this is what I saw;

our-lady-of-perpetual-help-st-louis

Our Lady of Perpetual Help in St. Louis Basilica

She was still helping me.  I almost cried.  God was teaching me to see beauty even in difficult circumstances.  And I must say, St Louis Basilica was stunning and beautiful, but the most beautiful thing that happened was being able to see my Aunt and cousin for the first time in a long long time.  Seeing them was beauty in the midst of the hardship of waiting.

On Saturday we went to St. Monica church.  They are still not in their main church because of smoke damage from the fire.  We had Mass in a classroom.  Saturday was the Feast of the Transfiguration.  During the homily the Priest talked about how the actual Church of the Transfiguration in Mount Tabor was also desecrated last October shortly before their own St. Monica church was desecrated too.  He said they can take everything from us, but we will still continue on because we have Christ.  It was beauty, in the midst of the hardship of persecution.   After Mass that Priest also gave my dad Anointing of the Sick.  (I told dad he was being a Sacrament hog.  Lol.) I knew dad had enough grace that he would be fine.

Monday came, dad’s surgery went great and I brought him and mom home for his recovery. Even in small suffering, even in hardship, there is beauty, we just have to open our eyes to it.  Finding beauty in the suffering of this life helps us to know and seek the perfection of the next life.  That one is the one that really matters.

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Prayer for healing in families

 

mary-and-trinity

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”  Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27

Just a quick note this evening.  Lately a lot of people have been coming to me with trouble in their families.  I wrote this prayer today for healing in families.  We can find help from Our Lady.  Here is my prayer;

Oh Most Immaculate Virgin, daughter of God the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Mother of Jesus Christ our Savior, you are the perfect example of familial relationship with the Divine Will.  Help us, O Most Holy Mother, to heal the broken bonds within our families.   Help us to love our parents, our children, our spouses, siblings and our extended families, the way that Christ loves us with self sacrificing love.  In particular help to heal my relationship with (state intentions here).  Intercede in our relationships so that God may break the chains of division and we can rest with the Most Holy Trinity as you do.  We ask this in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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