Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Painful and Unexpected Miracle from St. Anne

            Strangely, I didn’t have a built in devotion to St. Anne, the patron saint after whom I was named. Even when I was challenged by infertility and was praying for my future husband (two things she is famous for), I didn’t think to ask for her intercession.

            St. Anne tapped me on the shoulder when I started homeschooling. This summer, as I ordered my curriculum, I began a novena to her for the intention of having a smooth sailing, grace-filled school year and for my children and I to learn virtues (specifically, obedience and patience) as well as fractions.

            When I was surprised by excruciating appendicitis and emergency appendectomy in lieu of a trip to Atlanta, I naturally pressed in my novena request for a safe and successful surgery and recovery.

            “I’m already on it,” St. Anne said.

            How so?

            I recalled the first two times I was plagued with similar symptoms last year when I was rushed to the ER, but the doctors couldn’t do a CAT scan because of pregnancy and since the pain disappeared shortly, they couldn’t conclusively identify appendicitis to perform surgery.

            The more I thought about the timing of events, the more I certain I was that someone was praying for me all along because the surgery occurred after a healthy baby was born, before he became mobile, and on the same day I picked up my mother and father-in-law from the airport (which meant no worries that my children would be unsafe while I recuperated). 

            Before surgery, our priest heard my confession, performed the anointing of the sick, and repeated to me the homily that I missed at morning Mass.  He said God invites us to rest and leisure times, not just to work, work, work. Father left with an order to “Rest.”

            There in my hospital gown and listening to the IV machine beeps, I realized I was given a rare chance to reflect in solo (the hospital room is quieter than our home believe it or not), to receive graces from two Sacraments, to meditate on the spiritual books I’d been neglecting, and to offer up my aches and pain in reparation for sin and for all my intentions. 

            It’s not how I would have planned a retreat surely, but its how St. Anne helped in orchestrating it, and I view it as a gift.  No doubt she was involved because St. Anne is a connoisseur of unplanned evens.  She, who was barren for years before becoming blessed with the Mother of God as her daughter.  And in Blessed Catherine Emerich’s revelation, St. Anne prepared for Jesus birth with gorgeous linen and luxurious accommodations, unaware that her human plans would be thwarted by Divine Will.

            The homeschool isn’t even in full swing, but I’m already learning patience and obedience from the lap of my heavenly grandmother.  I find warm consolation that those patron saints for whom we were named, always got our backs. Thank you and Happy Feast Day, St. Anne! 

            *For an inspiring story about St. Anne’s intercession on finding a husband, read Annie Deddens testimony.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What Do Baby Organs and Relics Have in Common?

Featured on Catholic Stand.

That Planned Parenthood was selling baby organs (oh excuse me, “tissue” according to the PP public statements, but not according to my biology teacher) didn’t even raise a lick of hair on my eyebrow. I’d researched detailed abortion procedures for my novel, heard Jill Stanek describe partial birth abortions and knew fetal parts were used in facial creams, flavor enhancers and early vaccine production.  Of course someone had to link the provider and consumer.

            Quite frankly, the fact of abortion is more gruesome than the sale.

            My burning question when I heard the news was not if Congress would investigate the allegations, what other involvements would crop up or be covered up, how Planned Parenthood would spin the news to defend itself, whether taxes would continue funding them?

              Rather, my question was: what do baby organs and Catholic relics have in common?

            I asked because I’ve been exposed to a collection of relics lately.  My husband just built an altar with a space specifically carved for a relic.  I’d been to a healing service with Padre Pio’s glove and a relic of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos.  After Mass, I venerated St. Teresa of Avila and St. Alexus’ relics on their Feast Days.

            Relics, as Catechism teach us, are either body parts of a saint (first class) or an object that touched their bodies (second class).  In venerating relics, we ask for their intercessions from their secured positions in heaven.  The Council of Trent 1536 says:
            “The sacred bodies of the holy martyrs and of the other saints living with Christ…should be venerated by the faithful.  Through them, many benefits are granted to men by God.”

            Sick people have been cured by God’s grace, through the veneration of relics.  Stories of tumors, leukemia, and arthritis disappearing are still reported.  Not unlike the woman from scripture who hemorrhaged for twelve years, was healed after touching Jesus’ cloak.  Or the people who were cured from disease by touching Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 2:9-14) or objects touched to St. Paul (Acts of the Apostles 19:11-12).

            Like the saints, aborted babies were fearfully and wonderfully made.  God created them with dreams and missions to further His kingdom: perhaps becoming the scientist-priest who finds the cure to cancer; or the tech whiz who invents the app that can transport your car to Venice in seconds; or becoming the random paramedic who would one day save your life in a restaurant.

              Unlike the saints, these aborted babies never had a chance to choose faith and serve mankind with their God-given talents for a lifetime.   That is the real catastrophe.  That they were used without their consent for “medical research”, when they should have been the future saints of the Church, whose miraculous relics could have been the very body of Christ used to heal the sick.  Tragically, we too are the sad victims of their fate.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Superpowers and Sports

Joining Kendra for Answer me This.

1. What's currently on your To Do list?

            Finish revising second novel.
            Stop filling in my online cart and check out homeschool                            books.
            Plan little mermaid theme birthday party.

2. Better type of superhero: magic/radioactive powers? Or trauma/gadgets/hard work?

            We had this discussion some weeks back. My five year old said she wished she had superpowers to become another person so that she could turn into the real Elsa, who lives in Disneyworld and can freeze things. I said I wanted to have ten of me or the power of nature control.  We all thought my husband would wish for the superpower to snap his fingers and everything would be sparkling clean.  Mr. Mary Poppins was thrilled with the idea.

            One of four Elsas at Disneyworld. None of them could do anything about the heat and humidity of Orlando.  

            On a Catholic note, if I had a special gift from heaven, I would like to be able to see Our Lady.  (Don’t take me seriously God.  I know the likes of St. Lucia have a lot of crosses that I wouldn’t wish on myself.)

3. Finding out if baby is a boy or a girl before birth: Good idea? Bad idea?
            Great idea because we want to minimize name arguments and ready the baby’s closet with gender appropriate fashion.

4. Have you ever appeared on a stadium jumbotron?

            Ack! Right now as I hit publish, we are preparing to go to a Dodgers game in Atlanta, the home of the Braves.   Please pray we don’t get caught on the jumbotron in blue and white so we don’t get booed and kicked out.  Go Dodgers!

5. Are you more book smart or more street smart?

            I used to think I was street smart then I met my husband and realized he was on the genius level of street smart and now I have been relegated to the book smart one.

6. Have you had that baby yet? (Feel free to skip this one if it's not applicable to you.)

            Where ya been girl?  He was born four months ago.  He’s now rolling over like the Bama Tide.

             Oh wait. Did you mean to address that question to our broody hen?  Yes, she did have two chicks.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Let Me Go to a Healing Service for You

Last week, I had the privilege of attending another healing service and candlelight procession at the Shrine again.  This time the superstar saint whose relic was used to bless us was Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, CSSR.  Apparently, Blessed Francis had ties to Mother Angelica when she collapsed at the Adoration Chapel in 2001, and the Franciscan priests sought his intercession after a difficult stroke that they feared would end her life.  Blessed Francis Seelos pulled through for Mother. 

            When I learned about how this priest-blessed appeared to a man in his dreams to offer his intercession, I was intrigued.   My family has historical connections to his order, the Redemptorists.  He and I both have a devotion to the Mother of Perpetual Help, and being an immigrant acting as a missionary in a foreign land gives us so much in common.   I took to him right away, and I asked if I could stand in my family's places under his relic, as some of them faced health issues.

            Only on week two of the 54 day rosary novena, a surgery was successful.  Blessed Francis Seelos pulled through for us.

            Being the healing service fanatic that I am, I’m scheduled to go on another one soon. I don’t know which relic they’ll use but the Blessed Sacrament will be there for sure. So I thought, why not ask my faithful internet friends if I can stand in their place (or their loved ones) who need spiritual and physical healing. Why not go with the faith of the centurion and say to Jesus, "Just say the word Lord and my friend will be healed?" So how about it friends?   If you’d like me to represent you or your loved ones at my next healing service at the Shrine, tell me their names in the comment box or email me,  and I will be glad to do it for you.