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Five years ago today
It was raining
And my mother died
In the other room.
My house
where I had been caring for her
witnessed the exit of her spirit.
 
My step dad said
her every rose
bloomed that day.
Her last words
I heard were,
    “OK!
I’ll be there in a minute,”
 
And my name.
 
I still need you, Mom.
And from now on
I will kiss every rose.
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“This is how,” Jesus says.

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Galatians 2:19b-20

I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

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The last few years have been so traumatic for me that I have felt alienated from everything and everyone, and like I would never be myself again.

Part of my healing in this latest phase of my journey has been to investigate for myself what really happened and to face the truth around my brother’s suicide, to ask questions I had been too freaked out to ask before, to recognize and re-claim my own experience of what happened after a truly dysfunctional family response that left me confused, dismayed, and even more traumatized.

I called my truth- seeking mission “The Immaculate Heart of Mary Detective Agency.” I thought this appropriate because the sword that pierced Mary’s heart, Simeon said, was “so that the secret thoughts of many may be revealed.

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I wanted to truly love my brother by understanding all of him, not just the parts that I had enjoyed so much all of my life, but all of him. I wanted to try to understand what drove him to do what he did.

I realized I didn’t have to wait around for people to quit lying to me and tell me what was going on. I could find out for myself. So I started asking questions and interviewing people who had the information I wanted, or a different perspective from my own as the sister and room mate I had been at the time.

Unexpectedly, the whole experience of the IHMDA has been empowering, though I uncovered rank injustice and malice I hadn’t known some people were even capable of.  I feel more alive than I have since all this tragedy began. I have a glimmer of an idea that I have a life and a future.

It seems to me that Mary’s heart has helped lay bare many truths, and strengthened me to deal with them.

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I am not sure what I will do next. But it seems God thinks my next step is to forgive. That message was in last Sunday’s Gospel. It seems to pop up everywhere I turn. I seem to read or see or hear something about forgiveness every day.

There is hardly anything I have not lost to some degree in the past couple of years of shock and trauma; my home, my life savings, my family, and the cohesion of my group of wonderful friends. Everything is strange now. I have even felt like I lost myself.

I am grateful for the good relationship between my daughters and me, though honestly, at times, even those sacrosanct relationships were violated and temporarily distorted by lies and manipulation.

What do I do with this horrible story? Sometimes I can hardly believe it myself.

How can I forgive the unforgivable? And how can I ever be a whole person again? How can I bear this?

I have been asking all that for a good while.

I realized, praying Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours today, when I read this reading, (above)  the answer to these questions. “This is how,”Jesus says.

“You will do and experience both of these things because your life is not your own anymore. It’s better than that because I live in you and for you. From within you, I will forgive, I will live, and we will have a beautiful life together. I have loved you and given Myself up for you. You have loved Me and given yourself to Me, no matter what life has brought you. ” 

I thought about this. It is a miracle that the thing I have not lost or had to re-negotiate, so to speak, is my faith in God. Even though I have been broken inside beyond anything I thought it was possible to experience, I have an inner rock solid foundation of faith that God has not let me lose.

I have discovered that, as St. John of the Cross speaks of in his Ascent of Mount Carmel, I am “supported by faith alone,” now, in spite of how disjointed I feel psychologically and socially.

No one and nothing can take me from Christ’s hand. He is even more real to me than I am to myself. And even though my heart is broken, it does know it is safe. It does know Who it belongs to and Who lives there forever. Not even my own death will change that.

In fact, Paul also says that the spirit of Jesus in us is so real, it is that power that will raise our bodies from the dead.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11 (This turned out to be in Evening Prayer tonight.)

All the lies and malice, misunderstanding, persecution, blame, rejection, trauma, loss and grief I have suffered, and that the whole world has suffered, are no match for the Truth of God who is Love, and Life.

In a way, in comparison, these terrible things are not even real.

The reality is God.

And I am glad to be only ashes and dust.

That is exactly how I have everything I will ever need in this life and in the next:

“It is not I who live, but Christ Who lives in me.”

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Dawn of salvation: Nativity of Mary

“O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor haughty my eyes… truly I have set my soul in peace, as a child has rest in its mother’s arms, even so my soul.”  see Psalm 131

The Birth of Mary (September 8) 

The dawn of our salvation has come, the first hint of blue in the dark of night, signaling the sunrise and the end of Satan’s reign over humanity. The girl who would open the door to a supernova of grace into this world, has quietly come into it without fanfare. It is a birth like any other.

The birth of a daughter was normally not considered as important as that of a son. So Mary’s birth would have been even more of a quietly celebrated event, most likely. Even though this baby girl was our future queen, in the world she was born into, she was just a girl, humble and ordinary, born in a small, Roman occupied country, into a life of hard work, few rights, and a constricted future. To the world of her day, as in the countries many girls are born into still, she would have been seen as of little value.

But in the eyes of God, she was the field in which he would one day hide our Treasure, the Pearl of Great Price himself. We should sell everything we have and buy that field that is Mary, in which we find Jesus!

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Lowly Child Mary, offer to Jesus my  loving devotion to you, and may I live my Christian life in your wonderful and hidden light.

Bless, humble and gracious Child Mary, all my interactions with others, that I may see each person as valuable in God’s eyes. 

Cultivate in me a deep and gentle humility.

Inspire me also to always stand for social justice, especially for girls in this world.

 

Tell her happy birthday. Sing it to her. Do something special for a little girl in your life. Bring a flower to church. Smile. It’s our mother’s birthday, and she is the “cause of our joy.”

 

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Come, Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of the Child Mary, who became Thy well beloved spouse. 

What a catch!

today’s GOSPEL
Luke 5:1–11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

Just when I think it’s over, and I have tried everything, I’m tired, I am out of courage and strength, Jesus says, “Go out again.” He says, “Go to this big, deeper, scarier water. It’s going to be good.” And He astonishes me.

I have learned over and over again, that if I listen to His voice, He not only does something astounding, but then invites me places I never even knew about. He gives me hind’s feet, enables me to go onto the heights, makes it like nothing at all to leave everything and follow Him, to sell everything to buy that field where the treasure lies.

Let the dead bury their dead. Whoever has Jesus has everything, and plenty to give.

I trusted that before, and I am ready to trust it again.

Who catches lots of miracle fish and then leaves their nets and follows some crazy hippie preacher? Me, apparently. I’m a vegetarian anyway. And I love that guy.

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Novena to St.Philomena (Day 9)

God has given St.Philomena an abundance of graces that show us she is in glory in Heaven with all the martyrs who surround God’s alter in praise. Her history on Earth, as well as her history of signs, wonders and miracles, convince us of the power of her intercession. When it comes to St. Philomena, our cup overflows with grace, mercy, and the glory of God. Jesus transformed her sorrow and suffering even as she faced her greatest trials, and now she shines with glory at His side in Heaven, working with Him for our good in our own journeys and trials. 

A Reading from the Book of Revelation: 

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have salvation and power come,

and the kingdom of our God

and the authority of his Anointed.

For the accuser* of our brothers is cast out,

who accuses them before our God day and night.

They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb

by the word of their testimony;

love for life did not deter them from death.

Therefore, rejoice, you heavens,

and you who dwell in them.

The Word of the Lord

-Thanks be to God

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St.Philomena, we face so many hardships and trials. But today, help us to praise God in the midst of them, to join Heaven in the constant ecstatic praise of the Lord. We know that praise of God defeats the enemy, that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. May praise of the Blessed Trinity lift us up today, and fill us with confidence and joy. Like you may we lift up our heads, knowing our deliverance is at hand.

[Here mention your petitions and trials to St.Philomena, asking for her prayers and intercession.]

In  the depths of our hearts let us hear you say to us, “He can, and He will.”

Our Father…

Queen of Heaven, we love you, we bless you, we thank you for your graces and love for St.Philomena, for all your did to encourage and assist her. Be close to us when we are anxious or afraid.  Help us to remember your own beautiful glory in Heaven beside your Divine Son, after your humble life of service and love.

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Hail Mary…

Radiant girl, courageous and free of heart, our friend and guide, protect us, lead us, for the glory of God.

Glory Be…

St. Philomena, be blessed forever, and pray for us, always.

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“He can and He will.”

❤️⚓️🌻

For more stories and information about St. Philomena, her tomb, devotions to her, her sacramentals, visit philomena.it

 

 

Novena to St.Philomena (Day 8)

A very import part of St. Philomena’s relationship with Jesus was the vow of virginity she had made at the age of 13. When the Romans arrested Christian girls, knowing their chastity was sacred to them, their modesty and sense of purity was often a particularly targeted as punishment or a way to break them down. St. Philomena was no exception, according to private revelation about her life. She endured being stripped down and whipped in public, and the attempted unwanted attentions of the Emperor, and even being begged by her parents to give up her vow to save her life, but she stayed strong in her faith and personal commitment to Christ.

St.Philomena has been held up as “Patroness of Purity for Youth” because of her resolve in the face of torment and humiliation, and because of her consecration.

 

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A Reading from the Song of Songs

The Bridegroom: A garden enclosed, my sister, my bride,

 garden enclosed, a fountain sealed!*

Your branches are a grove of pomegranates,

with fruits of choicest yield:

Henna with spikenard,

spikenard and saffron,

Sweet cane and cinnamon,

with all kinds of frankincense;

Myrrh and aloes,

with all the finest spices;

A garden fountain, a well of living water,

streams flowing from Lebanon.

Bride: Awake, north wind!

Come, south wind!

Blow upon my garden

that its perfumes may spread abroad.

 Let my love come to his garden

and eat its fruits of choicest yield.

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St. Philomena, you drew joy and strength from your intense inner relationship with Jesus, and to Him, your soul was His beautiful garden enclosed, His fountain, His place of rest. You were completely consecrated to Him. Nothing could take that away from you, and nothing could change it, and you wouldn’t have given up that inner garden for anything at all. Help us to tend the gardens of our souls that we each be a beautiful place for Jesus to be, in exactly the way our hearts we created to live.

Beloved Lord, may the scent of the perfume of our lives and our offerings of love rise up to you like incense.

Our Father…

Mary, Queen of Virgins, we dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you. We give into your hands for Jesus, everything that we have, and everything that we are. Humbly we lay our souls in the light of your purity, with St. Philomena.

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Hail Mary…

Radiant girl, courageous and free of heart, our friend and guide, protect us, lead us, for the glory of God.

Glory Be…

St. Philomena, be blessed and pray for us.

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Novena to St.Philomena (Day 7)

St. Philomena seems to have an unusual intercessory style. She has been known to grant a sudden and complete healing, but to leave a faint line to show that a break in the bone was once there, or to save a drowning child who was wearing her “cord,” ( a traditional sacramental of St.Philomena,) leaving the cord completely dry as a sign. All over the world people have reported knocking sounds when they ask for her intercession, or her statues turning rose colored. She is even said to have helped a stone carver who accidentally broke an alter her was making out of marble who sent his panicked entreaties her way, but to have left, to his amusement, a faint outline of the breakage on the alter. 

None of that is necessary to obtain her help, and she does not always leave a signature like that. However, these anecdotes do give a little light to us about her playful personality, and her nearness to us when we call. 

Perhaps you will feel her prayerful hand on your shoulder in some way today. Keep your eyes open for a surprise from her sometime during this novena.  

A reading from the Book of Proverbs

I was beside Him, like a master worker;
and I was daily His delight,
rejoicing before Him always,
rejoicing in His inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.

The Word of the Lord

-Thanks be to God

St.Philomena, as expressed by Holy Wisdom in this passage from Proverbs, you, too, as a Saint in Heaven, are beside God now, working with Him, being His delight, rejoicing in Him, and taking joy also in us and the world we live in. We are thankful for your glory with God, thankful for your intercession, thankful for your playful and miraculous spirit among us. We submit to you our worries, in faith filled expectation, with a sense of wonder at all you have already done in people’s lives from your place in Heaven. [Here, talk to St.Philomena about your petitions, and have faith that she is listening.] Compassionate and wonder working Saint, leave your sweet signature on our hearts. Never let us forget what you have done for us.

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Sometimes, Beloved Lord, we are so consumed in our troubles that we forget the joy of belonging to You. St. Philomena’s playful extravagance reminds us that Your yoke is easy and Your burden light, that though we know sorrow, we already possess a joy that can never be taken away. She reminds us that with the faith of a child, we can move mountains; that your love, your gifts, are poured into our laps, into the fold of our garments; good measure, shaken down, and still over flowing, more than enough to share.

Our Father…

Sweet Mother of Our Lord, you yourself came to God as a child presented in the Temple and dancing up the steps before all the priests. When you were St. Philomena’s age you also gave your entire life and future over to the Holy Spirit in saying yes to God with courage, humility and love.

You were poor on earth, but your life with Jesus and Joseph was rich beyond imagining; full and overflowing with love and joy. Help us to remember the joy of Jesus.

Hail Mary… 

Radiant girl, courageous and free of heart, our friend and guide, protect us, lead us, for the glory of God.

Glory Be…

St. Philomena, be blessed and pray for us.

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Novena to St. Philomena (Day 6)

 

One of the most famous healings recorded at the tomb of St. Philomena aside from that of Venerable Pauline Jaricot, is the healing of a blind girl, and a change of heart in a non-believer who was present, who later gave money to build the shrine where St. Philomena’s body still rests today. Eight days after Philomena’s body was moved from Rome, and settled in the Italian town of Mugnano, in 1805, there was a large crowd of people gathered for evening prayer in the church. Miracles and healings had already been taking place, so a mother had brought her blind child. The little girl, about two years old, had been blind since she had contracted small pox. She dipped her hand into the oil from the oil lamp before St. Philomena’s coffin, and applied it to her child’s eyes. The girl was instantly healed, both mother and daughter started to shout with joy and excitement. All eyes were on them, and an un-believer present, as mentioned earlier, was moved to give the money to build the shrine to house St.Philomenas’ relics. Through St. Philomenas’ physical presence, two miracles happened in moments: the opening of the eyes of a blind child, and the opening of the eyes of a heart closed to Jesus, that both might see in the way each needed the most. 

God seems to show us that He loves to share his grace and glory with His holy ones, even and maybe especially after their deaths, by His miracles through their physical presence.

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representation of St. Philomena’s body in her tomb

A reading from the Second Book of Kings

As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet.

The Word of the Lord

-Thanks be to God

St. Philomena, we come into your spiritual presence with our needs and pressing burdens, our longing for healing, for change of heart, for truth, for new life, for help with our difficulties.  In spirit, we bring our broken hearts before the lamp at your tomb in Mugnano as we pray with faith. [Here express your petitions and needs to St. Philomena.] Dear compassionate and miraculous friend, we trust in your intercession. Your name, Philomena, means “Daughter of Light.” May God pour over us the brightness of His light through you, His dearly beloved saint.

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Our Father…

Holy Virgin Mary, you have shown that St. Philomena was especially close to you when your brilliant light came into her prison cell and healed her of her wounds from being whipped, her humiliation from being punished in public, and the sorrow she felt about her family and her impending suffering and death. You showed her the Child Jesus, and your encouraged her with the hope of Heaven. Visit us now and protect us from evil and despair, that we might be encouraged and filled with new hope.

Hail Mary…

Radiant girl, courageous and free of heart, our friend and guide, protect us, lead us, for the glory of God.

Glory Be…

St. Philomena, be blessed and pray for us.

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Novena to St. Philomena (Day 5)

 

The only accounts we have of the life of St. Philomena are two corroborating private revelations (from different people in different places) that have been approved by the Church, but are not as certain as written testimony from her contemporaries would be of course. According to these private revelations and the hints from the drawings on her tomb, she had been through and survived several humiliations and tortures to try  to break her down and many attempts by her captors to kill her before she was finally beheaded. 

She gave herself to God bravely one life-threatening moment after another. Her trust converted many of the people who witnessed it. I am sure God was speaking to St. Philomena, too, in the way He is said to have saved her miraculously from two attempts to execute her, once by drowning, once by arrows. God often sends us messages in our lives, as well, often when our suffering is deepest, and our challenges urgent, to let us know, “I am with you.”

Because of her union with God, and her willingness to follow His lead wherever it might take her life, her moments of fear and suffering became her finest.

A Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians 

Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that… you are standing firm … struggling for the faith of the Gospel,not intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is proof to them of destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing.For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him.

The Word of the Lord

-Thanks be to God.

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St. Philomena, pray for us that our pivotal moments may be transformed in Jesus, and that in these we might glorify His love. May God increase the strength of our souls, and exceed all we have ever known of Him. [Here mention your petitions.] Trusted Saint, lead the way for us bravely, and help us to see the movements of the Holy Spirit in the events of our lives, that every one of them will become sign posts of the way forward. Pray to God for us, that He may turn darkness into light before us, and make crooked ways straight. May we shine with the power of the Lord when we come to moments of decision, and may God bless our efforts to be faithful, as you were unfailingly.

Our Father…

Mother of God, may the sweet companionship of your spirit make our paths bright with meaning and love and grace. As you accompanied St. Philomena to such great bravery, we ask that you also accompany us, especially in times of trial and discouragement. Shine the brilliant light of the Gospel on our paths, that we may see our way through our troubles, and that the grace we will know may, in turn, strengthen the faith of others.

Hail Mary…

Radiant girl, courageous and free of heart, our friend and guide, protect us, lead us, for the glory of God.

Glory Be…

St. Philomena, be blessed and pray for us.

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