Mary of the morning glories…..

(In tribute to the loveliest Mother of all…a favorite post from the archives.)
Happy Mother’s Day, Sweet Mary!

The above statue of Our Lady has accompanied my husband and me throughout almost our entire life together.

He surprised me with it at our first real home in Greenville, NC, three years after we were wed. He placed it on a pedestal beneath a large maple tree in the backyard. Then he planted a vine of large blue morning glories at the base of the tree. It quickly took root and wound gracefully around the trunk, creating a blanket of blue each morning behind Mary’s statue.

I loved looking out of my kitchen window, sipping my first morning cup of tea and seeing morning glories and Mary. As the day wore on, the warmth of the sun would cause the flowers to fade and by afternoon, their beauty was gone. But each morning, they returned, glorious, with the dawn.

During those happy days, I never imagined how much Mary and the morning glories would soon come to mean to me. Only a year after she took her place beneath the maple tree, I was diagnosed with the cancer which destroyed all of our dreams of having babies…an unexpected tragic end to four years of trying to conceive.

I packed a small statue of Mary to take to the hospital with me, and placed her upon the window sill where I could glance at her comforting presence. But there were no morning glories for me, and I felt that there never would be again.

Eventually, I came home, and I would sit on the backyard swing, near Mary’s tree and pray my rosary..over and over. I prayed to live, and I prayed for some relief from the unbearable pain of losing children I had never even known. And Mary listened, and the morning glories brought beauty into an otherwise barren, thirsting, aching season of my life.

We moved back to our home state in the deep South a year later. My husband could not get morning glories to grow in our sunny yard which had no mature trees. So, he placed Mary’s statue in front of the rose garden he had planted. And she reigned there for twenty years.

She smiled, I know, on the day we brought home our adopted infant son. And as he played in the yard as a little boy, I imagined Mary watching over him. When he was old enough, we sometimes had May crownings with his friends who lived next door. And when he became a teenager, I would run sobbing to the rose garden and unburden my heart to Mary…just as I had years before with the cancer. Only this time I was too distraught to even say my rosary. But I knew she understood.

Now, it is just my husband and I again, and we have moved to yet another home. As you can see, Mary’s garden is now filled with lilies and roses and other assorted flowers which change with the seasons. Right across from her statue, there is a garden bench, a place where one can sit and pray or simply enjoy the sounds of the birds and squirrels playing. Often my husband will relax there with a beer, after cutting the lawn. Sometimes, I pray my Divine Office or a rosary in this shady spot. Glancing at Mary’s statue, I feel a certain peace. She is still with us, and we have survived the many crosses which have fallen upon us since Mary of the morning glories first took her place beneath the maple tree.

Her statue reveals the toll of decades spent in the sun, wind and rain. The surface is no longer a smooth gray color, and her features have been worn down from their original loveliness. She, like my husband and me, reflects the passage of time. Yet we would never dream of replacing our precious statue with a new one. She has watched over us all these years…through all the joys and sorrows life brings. And we want her with us until the last page of our lives has been written.

The blows of life have buffeted and scarred us as well. But they have taught us to depend on God alone and to put all of our faith in Him. Gone from this life forever are those carefree morning glory days of youth …now we dream of the glory of Heaven. There we hope to see, no longer a faded statue, but our Most Beloved Mother in all of her eternal beauty….

Thank you, Mary, for accompanying us with your living presence, throughout our lifetime together. I know you have held us when we were broken with sorrow and that you have rejoiced with us in the good times. What a comfort to know that you will always be with us until that day when at last we behold Your Divine Son Jesus in Glory.

Stay near, dearest Mother, until the morning glories bloom again….forever.  I love you!

Advertisements

Begging for Jesus

I thought I would re-visit this post today, in memory of Sylvia, who passed away about two weeks ago. Sylvia was the coordinator of the Perpetual Adoration chapel at my parish. As such, she was always “begging for Jesus.” It was her responsibility to be sure that each hour at the chapel was filled by a committed adorer or substitute. Sylvia herself regularly substituted for those hard to fill hours between midnight and 6 AM.

A beautiful brunette with a loving husband and family, she went home to the Lord on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I imagine that after years of spending so many hours of making sure that Jesus was never alone, Sylvia surely received a most loving welcome from the King of kings.

As much as Sylvia would be grateful for your prayers for her soul, she would be even more concerned with asking, “Could you not spend one hour with Jesus?”

Eucharistic_Adoration_-_Monstrance

I stopped by the adoration chapel today while I was out running some errands.  A lady came in with a container of books and prayer cards.  The noon hour in our adoration chapel is covered by parishioners who come to spend an hour in prayer for priests, and for an end to abortion.

Assuming that I had come to participate, she greeted me very warmly.  I quietly explained that I had to leave to pick up my husband.  She said, “Oh, I guess it will just be two of us then,”  referring to the other lady who had just arrived.

As I drove away, I couldn’t help reflecting:  Isn’t that how it always is?  So few people show up when prayer is the focus.

We have 3000 families in my parish, but every week the chairperson of our perpetual adoration chapel has to go begging in the bulletin for more committed adorers.  It only takes 168 people to fill all the hours in a week, but there is always a need — even though some adorers commit to more than one hour each week.

People love to drop in when it’s convenient, but most resist signing up for a weekly hour.

I used to be that way too.  For years, I enjoyed the benefits of  perpetual adoration at my former parish, but I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to a specific hour.  Surely other things would always be coming up and I would need to get substitutes and oh well I just don’t think so.

But then, I took the plunge, about 20 years ago.  A slot opened at 1pm on Mondays.  Since at that time I attended the noon Mass, it was easy to run for a bite to eat and make it back to the chapel on time.

Oh how Jesus rewards our little efforts!  Here He waits, the King of kings, the Lord and God of all.  Here He lovingly waits upon us to see if we can fit some time into our schedules for Him.

But when we do, He goes to work on our hearts, and we are never the same.  All the adorers I know are “addicted” for want of a better word.  They anticipate their hours with Jesus with great joy, and regret when they have to miss for a necessary reason.

No matter if we are fighting sleep or distractions or if our hearts are as dry as desert sand, Jesus still works His Divine Charm upon our souls.  And we may not know it at the moment, but we find His handiwork later in the week or month or year as we overcome with ease a previous struggle, or find an insurmountable problem suddenly resolved and on and on.   He is full of surprises.  And He will never be outdone in generosity.

Yet, it is so sad to sit in the chapel alone with Jesus, and hear the distant laughter of hundreds of people at the parish fair.  But, not even one comes to visit the King.  What must He feel?

When we have a “giving tree” in our parish at Christmas, people rush to strip it bare to buy gifts for the needy, but when it is sign-up weekend for adoration, so few stop by the table.

I know that Jesus wants us to buy presents for the poor and raise money at the parish fair, but how much He would love to be included as well.  But He waits, and waits.

Will you come?

“Behold this Heart which has loved man so much, but Which is loved so little in return.”

(Words of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.)

My hands in Hers……..

image

I have never shared this before, but Mary once granted me a very unexpected favor.  And although it happened about 15 years ago, it has only been during the past month that I have come to completely understand the message.

In my parish church, the statue of Our Lady of Grace stands in the back of what we affectionately call “Mary’s chapel.”  The chapel is to the left of the altar, and is one of the first seating areas to fill up before Mass.

On the day my son was baptized, I tenderly carried him, now graced by God’s Presence, to the feet of the One Gabriel once called Full of Grace.  Kneeling before the larger than life marble statue, I presented my infant son to Mary, asking her to take him as her own, to accept my consecration of him to herself.  My heart was bursting with joy, and I was so happy to give my son this gift of special protection by the Holy Mother of God.

My little boy’s early years were filled with visits to the Blessed Sacrament, learning to say the rosary, and stories of the Saints.  The only thing he wanted for his First Holy Communion was a “real bible” — which my sister, his godmother, joyfully gave him.  He would sit up in bed and read from it almost every night in those days, declaring the Sermon on the Mount to be his favorite chapter.

Yes, he was precocious; he was beautiful; he was talented, but he was also strong-willed and rebellious.

The beloved bible ended up in a drawer.  And one night when he didn’t come home from a highschool dance, a blue glass rosary cut into the palms of my hands.

He eventually came back to the house, but he never really came home again.

On the evening of his Confirmation, I was at the foot of Mary’s statue once more.  “Mother, I re-consecrate my son to you.  I don’t know what has gone wrong, but he needs your help.  Maybe I didn’t say the words right the first time.  Please hear me now, and accept him as your own.”

During the difficult years that followed, I would often attend the 6pm Mass.  It was very crowded,which enabled me to secure a standing spot, wedged between the candle stand and Mary’s statue.  Often I would place my hand on her foot or the hem of her garment.

I was grateful to be a short distance from those filling the pews.  Desperate, I  needed to be alone with God.

One night, a lady came and knelt before Mary shortly before Mass ended.  We were facing each other, and although she did not notice me, I was captivated by her eyes fixed on Mary’s face, and her lips moving silently in prayer.  She was obviously praying intensely about something.  I didn’t mean to intrude; it all happened so fast……

Then, as if watching a movie, I saw what I can only describe as a “copy” of Mary’s statue stepping out of the original statue.  This copy appeared more transparent than the original, but resembled it in every other way.  “Mary” came within reach of the prayerful woman and took her hands and held them in her own most pure hands.  The woman seemed not to notice anything.  Mary looked directly into the woman’s face, and appeared to be listening most attentively to her prayer, as though she were the only person in the world.

Within seconds, without my knowing how, the image was gone, and the woman got up from the kneeler.  I thought of stopping her and telling her what I had seen.  But I didn’t, and I have often regretted this.

As for me, I was struck by the obvious love and tenderness Our Lady showed to this woman pleading for her intercession.  I wondered how many times Mary had held my hands or embraced me — like the night I clung for dear life to my blue glass rosary.

Yet, throughout many painful years, I have often wondered why it seemed Mary had not rescued my son from so many poor choices.  I had given him to her when his soul was spotless and newly sealed with the Sacrament of Baptism.  Surely she could have surrounded him with angels, or kept him beneath her own mantle.  Had she not understood?

And I had trusted her completely.  So total was my trust when I presented my baby boy to her that all that happened in those later years was ever so much more painful, because it was so very unexpected.

My son is now a man, and he no longer wishes to rebel.  He is working hard to repair his life.  But sometimes, repercussions from the past still catch up with him.  This month has brought to light a few things I had not known before.

And this is the rest of the gift.  Mary has visited my heart in secret.  And she has reminded me of what I saw 15 years ago, and she has said,  “As you saw me take my daughter’s hands in prayer, do you not know that I also took your son into my own arms when you offered him to me?”

Why hadn’t I ever thought of it that way — my little son pressed to her Immaculate Heart, his tiny cheek kissed by those purest lips that kiss the Son of God?

She has made me understand that the crosses had to come.  But that I should not pray like one who has banished all dreams and asks but little for her son.  Rather, she has led me to pray that he will one day do great things for God.  And so I do pray this way now — so full of hope, and expectation, knowing that she has always been with him, and with me.

And I remember, when She didn’t understand, and when the way before Her was obscured and unknown, She found joy in Gabriel’s words, “….for nothing is impossible to God.”

And Mary shares these words with me and takes my hands……..

Tuesday Adoration – prayer is not pie

Jesus, may I behold Thy Glorious Face in Heaven! St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Today I brought with me to adoration the prayer intentions of many people.  I always pray for the needs of my family and friends, and usually there is a particular person or two who has asked for prayers for a special intention.

But this week, it seemed everywhere I went, someone had an urgent need for prayer.  A couple of friends are recovering from surgery, others have family members who are ill, a close friend desperately needs a job.  Names were popping up in my email, on the phone and even on blogs.  And of course, there was Father Corapi.

As a Carmelite, prayer is the very charism of my vocation, so I feel honored whenever anyone asks me to pray for them.  It is a joy to bring their needs before the Lord, especially in adoration.  Prayer is a gift we can all give to each other, and it costs us nothing.

I love to pray for strangers.  I think most of us have prayed for countless people unknown to us.  Maybe we see them at Mass, or in line at the supermarket, or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, etc.  Won’t it be delightful in Heaven to meet all those we have prayed for, and to find out that many strangers have prayed for us as well?

I think I might add a page to my blog for people to leave their name or an intention that they would like me to remember at my Tuesday adoration. 

I can’t believe that I once thought prayer was like a pie, and that the more people you divided it among the less each one received.  I now know that God’s Beautiful Heart is big enough for all of our prayer intentions and His Generosity could not be exhausted even if we prayed for each person on earth and in Purgatory.  And we should.

Here is a little meditation from a book I am “always” reading, and will soon list on my Bookstack. 

God bestows His Love on you wholly and entirely, and you insult Him and His Love by dividing your meager love between Him and a thousand unworthy things, or rather by squandering it through your vain attachment to transitory things!  God never tires of loving and embracing you and of showering benefits on you, and you weary if you must move a finger for so lavish and devoted a Friend!  O come, you friends, you lovers and beloved of God, and with your tears wash away the shameful insults offered to this Eternal Love!

The Glories of Divine Grace, P. 129

By Matthias J. Scheeben

(I have added a page for prayer intentions.  I would be happy to include all in my prayers.  See the tab on the header bar if you wish to add your requests.)

Begging for Jesus

Eucharistic_Adoration_-_Monstrance

I stopped by the adoration chapel today while I was out running some errands.  A lady came in with a container of books and prayer cards.  The noon hour in our adoration chapel is covered by parishioners who come to spend an hour in prayer for priests, and for an end to abortion.

Assuming that I had come to participate, she greeted me very warmly.  I quietly explained that I had to leave to pick up my husband.  She said, “Oh, I guess it will just be two of us then,”  referring to the other lady who had just arrived.

As I drove away, I couldn’t help reflecting:  Isn’t that how it always is?  So few people show up when prayer is the focus.

We have 3000 families in my parish, but every week the chairperson of our perpetual adoration chapel has to go begging in the bulletin for more committed adorers.  It only takes 168 people to fill all the hours in a week, but there is always a need — even though some adorers commit to more than one hour each week.

People love to drop in when it’s convenient, but most resist signing up for a weekly hour.

I used to be that way too.  For years, I enjoyed the benefits of  perpetual adoration at my former parish, but I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to a specific hour.  Surely other things would always be coming up and I would need to get substitutes and oh well I just don’t think so.

But then, I took the plunge, about 20 years ago.  A slot opened at 1pm on Mondays.  Since at that time I attended the noon Mass, it was easy to run for a bite to eat and make it back to the chapel on time.

Oh how Jesus rewards our little efforts!  Here He waits, the King of kings, the Lord and God of all.  Here He lovingly waits upon us to see if we can fit some time into our schedules for Him.

But when we do, He goes to work on our hearts, and we are never the same.  All the adorers I know are “addicted” for want of a better word.  They anticipate their hours with Jesus with great joy, and regret when they have to miss for a necessary reason.

No matter if we are fighting sleep or distractions or if our hearts are as dry as desert sand, Jesus still works His Divine Charm upon our souls.  And we may not know it at the moment, but we find His handiwork later in the week or month or year as we overcome with ease a previous struggle, or find an insurmountable problem suddenly resolved and on and on.   He is full of surprises.  And He will never be outdone in generosity.

Yet, it is so sad to sit in the chapel alone with Jesus, and hear the distant laughter of hundreds of people at the parish fair.  But, not even one comes to visit the King.  What must He feel?

When we have a “giving tree” in our parish at Christmas, people rush to strip it bare to buy gifts for the needy, but when it is sign-up weekend for adoration, so few stop by the table.

I know that Jesus wants us to buy presents for the poor and raise money at the parish fair, but how much He would love to be included as well.  But He waits, and waits.

Will you come?

“Behold this Heart which has loved man so much, but Which is loved so little in return.”

(Words of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.)