Friday, October 18, 2013

Living "Mercy" - in loving memory of Mother Antonia

It's quite interesting that the busier life gets, the less I notice the mercy around me, and yet there are people that are "living examples of mercy".  In my own humble opinion,  a woman whose example changed my outlook on mercy forever is Mother Antonia.

I learned that this beloved Sister in the church, Mother Antonia Brenner, has passed away this week.  My heart was heavy to learn this, and then at the same time could only feel joy and appreciation for such a remarkable woman who lived to bring Jesus to everyone, especially those that have experienced the very worst in themselves and their surroundings. Joy that this simple yet remarkable woman can now embrace mercy forever, to it's fullness. She started living in La Mesa penitentiary in Tijuana, Mexico to bring "living mercy" to the prisoners over 30 years ago - and her ministry only grew from there.  Mother Antonia's work is what has inspired me to look for and attempt to share mercy with others as well.   My CD project Mercy is...'s purpose was to bring the message of the Divine Mercy Chaplet to others, while the sale of each CD was sent to the Eudist Servants of the 11th hour that she started.  I could not send much, but I am sure what I did went to great works.  Her ministry went from the prison, to helping the families of prisoners, and also helping widows and families of police victims.  Helping those being released from prison have new clothing, and dental work as well, for interviewing for work.  She knew how important a smile was.  

Here is a brief YouTube video of her in an interview.



I am grateful for Mother Antonia's example of selfless love,  may she be at rest in eternal peace...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Very "Mary" Christmas...

I sat down next to one of the kids this morning, who very quietly while I hugged her said under her breath, "It doesn't feel like Christmas"...I hugged her tighter and wished her a Merry Christmas after all.  I have been blessed with a wonderful family, and this "is" Christmas, it is just a very "Mary" Christmas.
 

We received word that my father-in-law, Jules' - (noots to the kids), health is deteriorating, and we needed to get to Toronto.  It was somewhat of a whirlwind, but after a sober talk about the potential outcome of the trip, and the timing of it - we decided to open our gifts at home before flying out.  (I looked up to heaven, and said in my mind, "forgive us for celebrating early Jesus, we'll celebrate your birthday in a special way this year.")

Arriving to his side was such a comfort, not only to Jules, but to all of us.  There is sadness, but it is overcome by an abundance of love for this man that has been so good to us all, who now lays still with the brightest smile I have seen in a long time.  The countenance of his face changed, and he asked me to pray with him, for him.  I was reminded then how precious Christ had been in Jules' life, and his deep love of Holy Mass.  I remembered that I have been an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for many years in my diocese, and wondered if I could bring communion to Jules in the hospital for Christmas.  I was very thankful to find that the priest at their local parish was willing to allow me to borrow a pyx and burse, and carry our precious Lord to this wonderful man.

I will never get over the thrill and awe of carrying a pyx which holds Our precious Lord's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  A modern day creche perhaps, secure around my neck in the burse.  Since he would miss Mass, we went to the readings for the Midnight Mass of the Nativity, each sharing a reading circled around his bed.  It was truly glorious.  When I brought the portion of consecrated host to Jules to consume- he appeared to have the light of Christ, the joy of our Lord become a part of him.  After a while, we sang silent night together, and watched Jules mouth the words along with us.

Our special time we had, at that moment was every bit of what Christmas celebration should be.  It reminded me of being present at the very manger Christ had been born to, all of us revelling in the greatest gift of all, the light of Christ.  No messy floor from Christmas paper, no sounds of Andy Williams crooning our favorite carols, no turkey in the oven - just a quiet room, filled with a very present Saviour, Wonderful Counselor, almighty God - in our very midst.  It is a very "Mary" Christmas, because this is how she celebrated - quietly gazing in awe and wonder at the face of God.

While I really do love the paper strewn, carol crooning, and cooking kind of Christmas - I can honestly say that I cannot imagine another Christmas now, without a quiet moment of gazing in my mind on a very special glimpse of the original Creche - and the countenance of his beautiful mother Mary.

With love, and Thanksgiving,
Merry Christmas everyone!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mercy is...feeling the pain of Loved Ones



We were preparing for our First Penance/ Confession/ Reconciliation. I did not know what to call it back then. Well, neither did our CCD teachers - it was somewhat confusing. But, no matter what you called it, even though I was as nervous as all getout, I knew I was going to get closer to Christ somehow, and that to me was very exciting.


Then, my catechism teacher took us to the "confessional"; I guess somewhat of a field trip for the day. I now do not remember anything about this class, or even the teachers name unfortunately; I would love to thank her for the teaching that has never left me to this day. In the confessional we stood for a very long time. We stood there and looked at a beautiful wooden crucifix hanging on the wall. His face was beautiful! In so much pain, but so beautiful. The thorns that had bore into his hairline left painful marks that one could only imagine - then there were the wounds from the nails that kept him there. His body so frail, so human. But such a loving face, and in so much pain.





Then she said, "He was thirsty, and asked for a drink... and do you know what they did to him...?" At that point, I couldn't bear the thought. Such a loving, wonderful, sinless man. I knew at this point I loved everything about our Lord. Jesus had been a healer, compassionate, loving...and yet when he suffered, nobody loved back, or had compassion, or healed him. At about nine, this was about the best I could do to understand the passion. I was supposed to believe he did this out of love for us, his mercy and compassion. But, I did not understand that anyone could Love that much. To endure that much pain, and still love; in fact to forgive those that caused him that pain.




As I have grown, I still love the sacrament of confession; and I still love our Lord, and humbled by every thought of the mercy that pours down upon each one of us. I understand that love only to the depths that I as a human can - and yet know it goes much further. Ok, so now I also understand that through God's grace we too are called to share that love and compassion. Great, love the thought. However, I stopped at the possibility of getting beyond our human hangups to accept the suffering that comes at times through that same great Love.





Love is patient, Love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek it's own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things...






1 Corinthians 13:4-6




I am beginning to see it a little clearer these days though. How can one suffer without love? There is no question now that we all do have a cross to bear. Whether we accept this fact or not, there is a lot of suffering in this world today. But, I have been witnessing a man suffer to depths that are astounding. Six weeks ago, he was admitted to the hospital, an acute patient with many complications, suffering from an inflammatory blood disorder complicated by blood and liver Syndromes. We receive messages on a daily basis - 6 weeks in ICU, excruciating pain, surgery after surgery...even tonight was sent in for yet another surgery. After the surgery went well, the family after having sent an Urgent plea for prayers for Tim; sent a prayer of Thanksgiving - and asked for prayers for all those that had given blood for Tim to make it through surgery...all 9 of them.





Tim has gone from being one of the healthiest looking people I know, to living on a ventilator, then an oscilator, then back to the ventalator again. And, when he was well enough to be fed by a tube, and get ice chips...we smiled at the story that he said "Grace" in thanksgiving for that gift. Tim is suffering terrible pain, and yet, praying for each of the patients that are on the same floor as him. In ICU for 6 weeks, Tim is fighting a good fight, and without bitterness, or anger, loving everyone that is around him. I understand he prays for each of his nurses as they get off their shift.







I am starting to realize now, the depths of Love that it takes to suffer the pains of the cross. Yes, Tim is experiencing pain and suffering that I cannot even imagine - and through God's grace and abundant peace and consolation, is also experiencing a "love" that is so abundant it can not be expressed. And, those of us touched by Tim's life - and there are so many - are learning from Tim's love.





Lord, I pray for you to bring Tim and his family every consolation. That his sufferings will not burden his body any greater than he can handle; and that he might gain his strength back to continue his witness to those he comes in contact with, especially the Youth at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Dallas, GA and St. Catherine of Siena Kennesaw, GA.





Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Calm in the Storm



A year ago today, a dear friend, and sister in Christ, Cyndi Babecka, lost her battle to cancer. My heartbreak was selfish compared to the grace and acceptance of God's will accepted by Cyndi, her gentle husband Bob, and 6 beautiful children. Cyndi was deeply rooted in faith, and appeared to have an exceptional relationship with our Lord, strengthened by a true devotion to our Lady, His mother Mary.



How can anyone truly know of another person's faith, devotions, or personal relationship with the Lord? The obvious answer is, you really can't. However, how we live our lives is the silent evangelization of our beliefs, whether rooted in the Gospels, or not. This is not to say that we go around judging how Christ-like people are by their every action, but Cyndi's presence to me just felt like a calm in the storm. Cyndi was surrounded by 6 children, something that would bring out the roaring lion in me, and she spoke in a calm, thoughtful, and pleasant tone - reminding me truly of the grace and wisdom of our gentle Mother, Mary.



We all are surrounded by storm, some more than others, at different times in our life. And yet, with faith we can find the calm. While at times, there is no other option than to reach out our hands and say, "Lord, save me", as Peter did when he realized he could not walk on water alone. Cyndi has taught me, to the best of our abilities to have faith, but most of all to "live" that faith, and above all - reach out our hands, our hearts, our very lives to Him that says, "Come to me..." and "do not be afraid..."

While Cyndi is praying for us now, in the eternal embrace, may she always remind me that there is never a storm so great that we cannot find the calm.

Saturday, October 16, 2010