Dios Ti Agngina

Thank you in Ilocano

A gathering place of great ideas, inspiring stories, faith, family, fashion, food (with a slant on CLEAN, healthy Filipino cooking), and much more!  Welcome to Dios Ti Agngina!

100 Days Of Catholic Homeschooling

When my family and I were living in Central PA, we sent our little boy to the daycare in our neighborhood twice a week.  It was a new and beautiful facility and very convenient.  We could walk to the school to get exercise and enjoy nice weather.  It truly was a wonderful experience for him for he really learned a great deal from the dedicated teachers and interacting with the other children in the toddler classroom.  

But something clicked for me one day as I was watching and taking pictures of my son in the school Halloween parade.  He was probably a hundred feet away when he spotted me in a crowd with other parents also watching their children from a distance.  Without a blink his face lit up like a firefly as he exclaimed with joy, "Mama!"

I will never forget that.  That moment changed everything for me.  I realized then and there that no one could ever take the place of a parent's love for their child and no one could ever teach them better.  For me it all made sense.  That moment solidified my desire to homeschool my child.  

Years ago I became familiar with Seton Home Study (named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton) when I lived in the Diocese of Arlington.  I was impressed with the stories I read about Catholic homeschooling families.  I also talked with friends and acquaintances who used Seton to educate their children and they were so happy they did.  What really caught my interest with Seton was its curriculum which was known to be challenging, flexible, and conducive to the preparation and transition to higher education.  Most importantly, Seton is also very centered on helping develop a child's faith.  

As the title of this post suggests we have, indeed, survived 100 days of Catholic homeschooling.  We started our son Constantine in pre-K in the fall of 2016.  It hasn't always been easy but there is not a day that I don't feel so blessed and grateful for Seton.  

Let me be frank.  We've had our moments of crying sessions and not so pretty scenes but that is life.  We live, we learn, we apologize, we forgive, and then we start again.  But I have to say that there have been countless, extraordinary times during this whole homeschooling process of my son learning as well as for me that have been priceless.  

Choosing to homeschool our son was a family decision.  My husband was very supportive from the beginning.  We talked and prayed a lot about it.  I think that it's important to explain to the child the options of homeschooling and public and private schools.  Periodically, I ask our son what he wants to do.  And I'm thankful that he chooses to be homeschooled.  

Here are some thoughts of what we have experienced as a family and why I think Catholic families should consider using Seton or supplement with Seton.  First of all, I love the flexibility and support that Seton provides.  Seton is just a phone call away so parents and students can get their questions answered.  Also, you can work at your child's pace.  For pre-K, the parent may choose to teach the material in one to two years.  

The curriculum that the parents are given is meant to be used as a guide. Parents do not have to follow every single thing listed on the curriculum because as parents we know our children best and we learn as we go.  That's the beauty of the curriculum.  It offers the opportunity for parents to learn the child's strengths and weaknesses.  For me, I want to help my son realize his talents early on so that by the time he completes high school he knows what he wants to do in life so that he can serve God in his best capacity.  

For families like us who move a lot, homeschooling just made sense.  I couldn't imagine pulling my child out of school every time it's time to move.  So Seton became a viable option.  Also, just a few days ago our area accumulated approximately 28 inches of snow. Since we live in the snowiest city in the US, it's a wonderful perk to not have to worry about missing school because school happens at home.  Another plus is that I love that our son's risk of catching a cold, the flu, or any other disease traveling around the schools is greatly minimized.

Both parents can have a profound impact on the child's education.  I love that day in and day out I know exactly what my son is learning because I teach his lessons.  If I'm not available then my husband can teach.  I am aware that there's that pain of trying to undo the negative and bad influences that a child may learn from his or her peers or others.  I believe that as our son's primary teachers, God has given us the responsibility of teaching our son the beauty of our faith, English and literature, math, science, art, history, languages, as well as culinary arts, integrative nutrition, and physical education.  If there's something that we are not equipped to teach him then we can seek other resources and plan field trips.  The possibilities with homeschooling are endless.

We continue to grow closer as a family because we find the time to pray together.  Seton may not be for you and your family.  But if you hope for your child to grow in love with the faith, I think that you will appreciate Seton.  I love how Seton connects every subject back to Jesus Christ.  It's wonderful because we are teaching our son to learn and love our faith.   We start our day praying the rosary.  It's the first thing we do unless we attend Mass first thing in the morning.  After the rosary, we start with religion, next literacy, and finally math.  Then we're free to practice handwriting, do art projects, learn Spanish, and play.  Before going to bed, we gather in our bedroom to pray together as we remember our loved ones' intentions.

One of the biggest misconceptions of homeschooled children is the lack of social activity.  That is far from the truth.  At the moment we are so fortunate to live in a fantastic neighborhood with young children all around and a homeowners' association that plans family and kid friendly activities all year round.  We are also part of an active parish community.  My son is almost always talking to people wherever he goes regardless of whether he's speaking with new acquaintances, people passing by, friends or family.  We teach him to be respectful of our pastor, elders, and everyone he encounters.  He's a fun-loving child who takes the initiative in greeting others.  In homeschooling our son we encourage curiosity and creativity as much as possible.  There's never a dull moment with homeschooling.  

We live in an age of possibilities.  Homeschooling may not be for every household but what I can say is for us the benefits outweigh everything else.  If you are considering to homeschool, pray about it.  You will be amazed at how the Holy Spirit leads each one of us.  If you are Catholic, I highly encourage you and your family to look at supplementing with Seton.  Not every family is able to homeschool but because Seton's curriculum is so rich in Catholic teaching and wisdom I think it's perfect to use in building a strong faith foundation in the home.  I'm astonished every single day because even in the pre-K level I'm learning something new about the faith.  Even if your child is going to a Catholic school I really believe that using materials from Seton will help form a special bond with your child.  

One of the greatest joys that I hear almost everyday is this:  "I love spending the day with mama and daddy!"  That special bond that I get to experience on a daily basis beats anything and everything else.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, please pray for us!

Where To Start If You Are Interested In Catholic Homeschooling

  • Check out the Seton Home Study website here.  You can request a packet of information.  
  • For those in the Philippines who are interested in homeschooling with Seton, there are a number of Filipino families using Seton already.  There is a lot of support available.  You can find a Facebook homeschooling page called ROCKERS Philippines here.
  • Read the book Catholic Home Schooling by Dr. Mary Kay Clark and get your copy here.  This book was a huge help to me and really gave me the confidence in deciding to fully homeschool my son. It's full of wonderful tips and pointers that Mary Kay Clark used with her own children whom she homeschooled.  For the first person to reach out to me, I have an extra copy and will mail it to you!  Comment below and send me a message on Facebook, Instagram, or an email to info@elainejavier.com.
As the title of this post suggests we have, indeed, survived 100 days of Catholic homeschooling... It hasn’t always been easy but there is not a day that I don’t feel so blessed and grateful for Seton.

          

On The Street Where We Lived

Somehow Stone Barn Road reminds me of Cherry Tree Lane in the Disney film Mary Poppins probably because of the fantastic, well thought out planned walking community, the well-manicured landscapes, and the cobblestone curb appeal throughout.  I even imagined adding two pink cherry trees in the backyard and an adorable English garden with a butterfly way station.  I have to confess that I've had a difficult time letting go of our beloved home in our neat little village in Central PA.  We moved out last month and my son and I still think fondly of it.  It was where I had hoped we could spend more time -- more time to see our son grow and more time to spend with our friends.  But God has different plans for us.  

So we are moving again.  This is our fifth move in seven years and so the adventure starts back up again.  I have to mention that this exercise of constantly moving has helped me to appreciate the present moment.  We never know how long we will stay in an area so I think that I've learned to really savor the here and now and take nothing for granted.   

We are Catholic first before all of our wants and needs.  I stand committed to our faith foremost before anything else and this has helped me throughout times of tribulation.  For me there is no other way but to let God guide us in everything that we do.  

I am hopeful in our future in the new place.  What lies ahead are new places to see, new people to meet, and new memories to make.  My husband's company has been very good to us.  But more so, God has given us much more than we have ever imagined.  

Goodbye Stone Barn Road.  Goodbye Central PA.  I arrived unwell, weak, and exhausted and I left healed, renewed, and faithful.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the cherished memories.

We are Catholic first before all of our wants and needs.

Birthday Celebration For Our Blessed Mother

What a special week it has been for the Catholic church!  First, Mother Teresa was canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday.  And today is the Blessed Virgin Mary's birthday.  

I thought it fitting to start a family tradition of celebrating Our Blessed Mother's birthday each year by going to Mass, presenting a special bouquet of The Bouqs fresh, organic flowers, and making a nice chocolate ganache tart to share since she is so cherished and loved in our household.  After all, she is our mother in Heaven and on Earth and has interceded for us all of our lives.  Since I am Catholic homeschooling my little boy this special feast day of the Birth of The Blessed Virgin Mary makes teaching this holy occasion very delightful and fun.

Very early on I was convinced that my vocation was to be a wife and mother and to bring my children up close to the Church.  I was ten years old when I envisioned taking my children with me to daily Mass.  I knew then that there is a correlation with having a deep sense of faith and attaining true happiness.

By teaching our children about the Blessed Mother and the saints, our children learn to love and better understand the faith.  They learn how to live holy lives dedicated to Christ.  

Today I think that it is appropriate to pray Mother Teresa's quick novena, the Memorare prayed nine times,  in honor of the Blessed Mother's birthday.  Many times Mother Teresa would say the Memorare nine times consecutively whenever she was in need of guidance especially during hard times and challenges.  It is a most beautiful prayer that my family and I like to conclude with after praying the Rosary.  


Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.  

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee O Virgin of virgins, my mother;  to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.  O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer.  

Amen.  


Happy birthday, Mama Mary!  We love you.  Please pray for us.  

Favorites

The Bouqs.  They deliver the most beautiful farm-fresh organic flowers.  I love all of their bouquets!  

Chocolate Ganache Tart by Sweet Laurel.  I keep telling my husband that we have to live in L.A. for at least a year because I want to take one of Laurel's baking classes and, of course, order her delicate and delicious cakes.  Also, I love the recipes on the Sweet Laurel blog.  They are so good and healthy!  She is one to follow on social media.

 

By teaching our children about the Blessed Mother and the saints, our children learn to love and better understand the faith. They learn how to live holy lives dedicated to Christ.

Stress

It has been an extremely busy summer for me and my family.  We've been traveling a lot as well as working on our home.  Let me just say -- we are about to be homeless again.  I feel like we're a small group of nomads who move on average every one to two years due to my husband's job.  Since 2009, when we got married, we have moved four times.  This next one to the great state of New York will be our fifth move in seven years.  

If you know me very well, you know that I can push myself to my limit and add unnecessary stress in my life.  I can be inflexible at times and internalize negative feelings.  Sometimes, I dump my steam off on to my husband, uncharitably.  I am sorry when this happens.

A couple of weeks ago I was putting our son to bed at a very late hour.  Defiantly, he started screaming and squirming in my arms because he still wanted to keep playing.  At this point you can imagine that I had little to no patience in me.  As I was trying to calm Constantine down, in a flash he flung his Thomas the Tank Engine toy towards his bedroom door, and Thomas the Tank Engine went "clunk" as he hit the door hard.  As a parent I was not about to let him off the hook so easily.  I sternly stared at Constantine  and scolded him harshly for the next few minutes.  I wanted to be clear that throwing his toys recklessly was unacceptable and disrespectful.  I even began warning him that his daddy and I would be prepared to give his toys away if he continued to mistreat his belongings.  As I was mentioning all of this in his embrace, he looked up towards the crucifix situated above his closet door, stared at Jesus for a moment and calmly and quietly said, "Please pray for me."  All the anger and stress in my being started to fade away.  I was astonished at the wisdom of my three year old's words -- "Please pray for me."  He was asking Jesus to pray for him.  As I carried him to my parents' bedroom, I recalled the whole story to my dad.  Then Constantine gently nudged me, "Mama, please pray for me!"  So I said, "Yes, I will pray for you."  I tucked my little boy in bed and slowly shut his bedroom door in awe and admiration as I pondered what had just happened.

That night my little boy reminded me of a couple of things.  I remembered a similar situation a couple of months earlier in which he was throwing a temper tantrum and I was passing onto him an idea.  I told him, "Whenever you feel angry or upset, you can clasp your hands and say, 'Mama Mary, please pray for me.'"  I was trying to help him to better cope with his emotions since emotional intelligence is an important core area to work on with small children.  Constantine's simple prayer was another lesson for me in how to better deal with stress and the madness of daily life.  Whenever I feel upset or stressed out, calling on the intercession of Mama Mary is such a soothing, effective practice.  

Constantine helped me to remember that we are not alone.  For several months I had complained and stressed about our upcoming move, without any thought of others or prayer.  Instead of lifting this negativity up to the Lord, all I could think about was how unfair my situation was.  I think it's also important to bear in mind that no one is an island.  People need others to talk to and express themselves in a community or support system.  We should not be shy to ask others for prayers.  If you or a loved one need prayer, feel free to send me your prayer requests via private message or comment below.  I am more than happy to pray for your intentions.  Mama Mary, please pray for us and the whole world.

As I was mentioning all of this in his embrace, he looked up towards the crucifix situated above his closet door, stared at Jesus for a moment and calmly and quietly said, ‘Please pray for me.’

Bethesda Revisited

My family and I keep going back to Bethesda.  It's become the meeting place to see our good friends from Dallas.  We last visited in September of  last year and had a blast.  This past trip was just as enjoyable.

We first visited a lovely church nestled in the city called Our Lady of Lourdes.  As my son and I approached the back entrance we were welcomed by an awesome image of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.  

I suppose St. Bernadette inspired my prayer for Eucharistic Adoration.  St. Bernadette was the peasant girl in Lourdes, France who encountered the Mother of God, Our Lady of Lourdes, several times.  She was simple and innocent and so I let my prayer be simple as well.  These days when I pray I usually pray more so for others.  My thoughts were of our friends' oldest who will be attending medical school.  

In the past I found myself in prayer visiting the Blessed Sacrament almost always focusing on my own issues and problems.  I know better now.  God knows everything, even our most hidden thoughts and fears. I think prayer should be simple, not complicated at all.  That's why I love the rosary so much.  It's a prayer simply saying "I love You Jesus and I love Your mother."  The beauty of the Blessed Sacrament is that Jesus is right there waiting for us.   I place all my trust in God and say, "Jesus, I love You!"  over and over again.  It is always refreshing and comforting.  

We went to visit our friends next.  This time we met with father and daughter and had a nice dinner at a Spanish and Latin American restaurant called Guardado's in Bethesda.  It's quite cozy and friendly and a good place to catch up.  We ordered a number of tapas dishes like the delicious special -- stuffed mushrooms.  For our entrée we shared the seafood paella.  We also shared a carafe of sangria.  Overall, the food was very good!  Since we had leftovers I recooked the paella the next day with lots of dark leafy greens and minced garlic and it turned out even more delicious.

I will always remember Bethesda.  It's a place where we can always worship and give thanks to Our Lord and where we can enjoy and cherish camaraderie just as we have in the past.  Thanks again Bethesda for a wonderful trip!  Till next time!

Jesus, I love You!

Bruno Versus Jesus

Oh, the joys of parenthood!  My boy was in one of his defiant moods as I was struggling to get him dressed in time for church.  We were running late as usual.  I had tried to calmly brief him that we were going to church because it's Sunday.  This was not working in my favor.

Feeling flustered and perturbed I blurted out to Constantine, "Who do you prefer?  Bruno or Jesus?"  Without pause he answered, "Bruno."  I flashed back, "Wrong answer!  Do you think Bruno will help you get to heaven?!"  Then the little boy responded, "Daddy, heaven."  Sighing in relief I said, "Yes, that's a better answer.  Daddy will help us get to heaven."

This was an opportunity for me as a parent to weigh in on the effects of what is too much for a little child.  There is no doubt that Bruno Mars is a talent and huge iconic force today but my husband and I will not adhere to him or any other public persona getting in the way of our family's obligation to spend it with the Lord.  Foremost, God comes first before our own wants and needs.

The dangers of bombarding our children with too much TV and Internet are real and it's important to set the parameters straight and clear at a young age.  Besides the questions of how much is too much and possible harmful effects on our children, we have to ask if what our children are exposed to will be a benefit to them spiritually.  Can it help build their character and moral fiber?  

It's easy to turn on the TV to keep our children preoccupied but do we let them go unguarded?  I've grown accustomed to this behavior enumerating in my mind all the must haves that I want to get done before the day is over but what about my most important responsibility?  I have asked myself from time to time, "Am I spending enough time with my boy?  Am I pointing him to Christ?  Am I showing him how to love Him?"

It's a balancing act that needs to be played out throughout the day and it's taxing. My consolation is always prayer.  It's what gets me through the day.  As a wife and mother I know that I cannot do it all, not without His help.  I can always count on His help.

Though we are fans of Bruno Mars we are bigger fans of Jesus Christ whom we hope to spend eternity with in heaven.  God bless my little boy and all the children.  May we help the little ones get to heaven.

My consolation is always prayer.

EWTN

I remember when I first started watching EWTN when we lived in Delaware, I was more dozing off than watching.  I did my best to pay attention and listen but found myself asleep within a few minutes.    After a couple of weeks I was drawn to the beautiful message of EWTN's foundress Mother Angelica.  She helped me by opening my mind and heart.  Mother's no-nonsense comical wit, joyful humor, and intelligent knowledge of the faith completely caught me off guard and I became a fan immediately.  I was hooked!

When I was pregnant with Constantine I began my day going to Mass at 8 a.m. and then rosary or  Perpetual Adoration in the chapel for about 30 minutes to an hour.  I would drive home, hop on the treadmill and walk and pray the rosary with Mother Angelica and the Nuns of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery and then watch noon Mass on EWTN.  This became my daily routine for nearly nine months which helped strengthen my faith and keep me fit during my pregnancy.  I really believe that this was the reason for my smooth and super easy delivery.  I wanted no meds for a natural delivery and thanks be to God my baby boy was born healthy.

Even after delivering my son, in times of need Mother Angelica was there for me.  When having a challenging day she was always able to address my problems and give me comfort and peace of mind.  Amazingly her segments on EWTN Catholic Classics and Mother Angelica Live were just what I needed.  I would turn on the TV and in those old reruns she would give me advice on exactly what was on my mind.  This happened several times, not just once or twice.

Mother was a friend to all.  When I think of Mother Angelica I am reminded of saint Pope John Paul II and venerable Mother Teresa of Calcutta because she was a force to reckon with, a beautiful spirit and living testament of God's love and mercy, a servant of God always giving more and more.  Her faith and wisdom will be forever etched in my heart.

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation passed away on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.  She was 92 years old.  She was a living saint who loved Jesus more than life itself.  She greatly touched my life, my family's, and millions upon millions of others.  May she be at peace with our Lord, reap the rewards of eternal life, and continue her earthly mission in heaven.

Dios ti agngina Mother Angelica for sweeping the world with the evangelization of the Gospel!  We love you!


New York Times Bestseller 


Favorite Quotations By Mother Angelica

God has something very special in mind for you. He wants you to be a saint.
Patience is adjusting your time to God’s time.
Prayer creates a disposition of assurance - not that you’re going to get every answer that you want - but assurance of God’s presence and His love.
I don’t care if you’re five or one hundred and five, God from all eternity chose you to be where you are, at this time in history to change the world.
It’s so important that you make the right choices now. Don’t listen to the world, listen to the Eternal Word.
Jesus is giving you such an opportunity to be holy, holier than all the saints that have ever been, because the world is in such need of shining lives, beacons to see by.
It is true that when you tithe your time to God He multiplies it (and your work) in ways you cannot imagine.
Love is what the Lord asks of us. If we must love even our enemies, imagine how we are expected to love our family members.
When you are angry, love is leaving you. Anger, impatience, and criticism are the effects of the draining of love.
Don’t complain about the Church. You are the Church, and God has destined you to proclaim the Good News by example, by family life, by holy single life, by faithfulness.

Even after delivering my son, in times of need Mother Angelica was there for me.

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Heaven

My eyes grew large -- really large, the first time my son said "heaven."  He kept repeating the words over and over.  He's a late talker just as he was a late walker.  I was thrilled that my boy was talking but at the same time shakened.

Constantine actually said, "Daddy . . .heaven." about ten times.  For a short while, it was as if he couldn't stop.  Goosebumps formed and apprehension came over me.  What was my son trying to say?  

Many times when we think of heaven, we think of God's kingdom and the faithful departed.  But my husband is alive and well!  I viewed my son's words as a contradiction that gave me pause.

As I walked downstairs and pondered just what happened, I decided to clean up a bit and go through a small stack of mail lying in the laundry room.  The first envelope that I opened happened to be from the life insurance company.  And there it was all laid out.  The life insurance plan in the event that my husband were to suddenly pass away.  Despite my best efforts not to, tears streamed down my face.  I cannot imagine my life without my loving, adoring husband.  He's my rock and my best friend.  I didn't want to think about it anymore so I shushed my mind.

Later that night words of wisdom came to me.  I remembered an episode of Mother Angelica of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) that was taped years ago in which she said the words, "We are born to die."  And though perhaps we don't like to think about it, she's absolutely right -- everyone is born to die.  Death is an inevitability.  Accepting that truth has made me realize that life is just a stopover.  But while our time here is temporary, heaven is eternal.  

We need to do all that we can to get to heaven and help our loved ones and even our not so favorite people get there too.  I realized that that means living each day as if it's our last.  It means living the faith and not allowing ignorance of the faith to stand in our way.  It means seeing Jesus in every person.  

During our wedding, the celebrant said something that struck me during his homily.  He said a spouse's role is similar to a bridge, supporting you as you attempt to cross into heaven. I am Martin's bridge supporting and helping him and he is my bridge.  Martin is the gift from God that I must cherish and love all the days of my life, "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."  

So yes, Constantine, you are right!  Not only is daddy the head of our domestic church which is our home, but he is our bridge to heaven!

We are born to die.


Lessons From A Bank Robbery

It was the worst of times for me career-wise.  I was working in the most snooty, high profile, nerve wracking financial banking center in Northern Virginia in the midst of the First Virginia Bank/Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) merger.  No one knew what was happening.  No one knew what they were doing.  We were all running around with our heads chopped off.  As the head of a demoralized branch I felt defeated every single day.  It felt like I was walking on egg shells.  This was a nightmare.

My ship was sinking fast.  Problem after problem bashed me in the face.  Every day my staff would complain to me, even cry to me.  Customer complaints poured in by telephone and in person.  The load was unbearable.  (Every week it seemed like branch managers in the region were resigning.)  I spent nights at the office even weekends till 1 or 2 in the morning.  I broke bank rules but I had no choice if I wanted to try to keep things afloat.

And then the unthinkable happened.  In my almost seven years in bank management I had dealt with a cruel death threat, firing and hiring of team members, the evacuation during 9/11, a sexual harassment case, but I had always prided myself in making safety and soundness my top priority, that is protecting and safeguarding my team members and the bank's assets.

Friday, January 2, 2004 was the day.  The robber was keen enough to realize how disorganized and unprepared we were.  We were sitting ducks and for the robber it was perfect timing.

Frankly, that day was a blur.  I was inside my office with the door shut assisting a customer with his cash order.  If I can recall, he had ordered at least $25,000 in twenty dollar bills and I was there with him verifying the cash.  I was finalizing the transaction as the robbery was taking place.

I was one of the last branch personnel to learn about this horrible incident.  The teller who was robbed later said that he had a gun inside his jacket, handed her a note, and she gave him the money from her drawer.  We closed down the bank the rest of the day and followed bank protocol.

The good news was no one got hurt and the teller kept her drawer within cash limits and stayed calm during the entire robbery.  That night I wrote down my thoughts.

Life is so delicate and fragile; too short and valuable to let pass by.  Today I am grateful to God for watching over us.  Everyone of us is connected in some way.  The robber today, the rich, the poor, the young, the old -- we are all human, all equal in God's eyes.  The robber could have taken our lives, but it was not God's will.  I see things differently.  I know that we cannot judge others.  We cannot take advantage of others, be mean-hearted or mean-spirited.  Everyone makes the mistake.  We study each other's faults, accuse one another, and argue endlessly.  At the end, we shame ourselves in front of God.  We must learn to appreciate each other and appreciate everything that life can offer.  If we learn to not want and instead appreciate, then we can see the beauty in life that God wishes us to see.

That day I learned all about forgiveness.  I forgave the robber and everyone who had ever hurt me in the past.  And I learned a very important lesson.  My leadership skills were put to the test during the most difficult, grave times in my banking career.  I learned to stop complaining and started listening and caring for my team members and customers again.  I came to understand that good leaders don't give up.  They stay the course the best they can and help all with compassion and heart.  Foremost, they stay true to themselves and give thanks to God always.

We must learn to appreciate each other and appreciate everything that life can offer. If we learn to not want and instead appreciate, then we can see the beauty in life that God wishes us to see.



A Christmas Prayer

I love this Christmas prayer which is actually a novena.  It's supposed to be recited for nine consecutive days leading to Christmas.  It's called the St. Andrew Novena a Christmas Anticipation Prayer.  

"It is piously believed that whoever recites this prayer 15 times a day from the Feast of St. Andrew through Christmas will obtain what is asked for.  Imprimatur:  Michael Augustine Archbishop of New York, February 6, 1897."

Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.  In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayers and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother Mary.  Amen.

I wish that I could remember where I found this prayer.  All I know is that I came across it sometime in 2010.  I wrote it down in my planner and recited the novena daily from St. Andrew's feast day (November 30) through Christmas day.  I think that it's a beautiful prayer and a nice tradition to start with the family.  I hope to make it part of my family's devotions next year.  

God bless everyone and Merry Christmas!

Advent

The saying:  "Better late than never" holds true.  I meant to post this article at the start of Advent but I never got around to it.  I'd say there were many distractions that kept me.  But here it is with just two more days till Christmas.

My family and I certainly did not start off with our best feet forward at the beginning of Advent.  As my family and I hurried to get to Mass I started asking myself:  what does Advent mean to me?

We were really, really late.  It was embarrassing because we seem to not learn.  We missed the first and second readings and even the Gospel.  Father was in the middle of his homily already so we decided to wait to enter until he finished.  I could barely hear because the speakers were not working properly on our corner of the church.  So that meant that I missed the homily too.  Then my thoughts traveled back to my initial question.

The meaning of Advent tends to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season.  We all have our wish lists and to do lists and it can all get hectic and stressful.  We act like St. Martha many times -- worriedly rushing to prepare and cook our favorite foods and baked goodies, buying presents for ourselves and loved ones, mailing Christmas greeting cards, decorating the inside and outside of the house.  There's so much to do and it seems like we're always on a time crunch.  The truth is that we make Christmas all about ourselves.

But if you think about the beginnings of Christmas, wasn't it all peaceful and silent with the birth of the most perfect human being that ever lived?  If we focus on the Christ Child He can help us answer our questions about Advent.

Mary, Joseph, the wise men, and the shepherds and animals knew.  On that cold, winter night, all fell silent and still.  All were in awe with the perfect greatness and presence among them.  They all adored Him. 

Several months ago the retired priest at our parish was giving a homily that really struck a chord.  During his homily my eyes welled up and I felt chills rushing through me because of a simple, powerful phrase.  The priest said Jesus is telling us, "Show me, show me how much you love me."  

I believe that is what Advent is all about.  The Child Jesus is telling us just that:  "Show me how much you love me."  Maybe it's not enough to get all the cooking done, to check off everything on our Christmas gift lists, and to get all those Christmas cards done on time.  Jesus is telling us that there is so much more.

To me Advent is about recommitting myself to Christ.  It's about putting Christ first above everything else.  It's about committing to getting to church early to pray and adore Him, committing to family prayer and devotions, and almsgiving.  For me it's about teaching my son the faith.  I think Advent means something different for every one of us.  

For others, preparing for Advent could look like going to daily Mass for the rest of Advent and the Christmas season.  Or what about going to midnight Mass with the family?  After Mass have a midnight snack and talk about the humbling experience of the very first Christmas.  What was it like for Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the manger?  What about volunteering at a soup kitchen or a crisis pregnancy center to help those in need?  Advent is about sharing Christ with others.

To really show Christ love means to be dynamic Catholics in action.  It's doing what others would rather not do.  It's not always easy but let's face it -- what Jesus did for us was not easy.  Now is the time to show Christ how much we really, truly love Him.

The song that I remember from the first Sunday of Advent during Communion was Christ Be Our Light.  It's so fitting because it's such a cheerful, optimistic prayer.  I love it because it's like starting anew and asking Christ to help us lead the way during Advent.  So ask Jesus to be your light during this Advent and Christmas season.  Ask Him to show you what Advent means to you.   Let the Lord of lords and the King of kings be your light and your peace for a blessed Christmas season for you and your loved ones.

 

The priest said Jesus is telling us, “Show me, show me how much you love me.”

Appointment With God

I started my Saturday off feeling tired, cranky, and borderline obnoxious -- not my most appealing self.  I was grouchy and I did not want to do a thing.

My husband was planning a family day by enjoying the day outside because it was a beautiful fall day,  but I was a killjoy.  And so we all ended up staying in that day.

Aware of my foul mood I knew I needed some help.  I decided to go to confession.  I was inspired by Pope Francis.  During his US papal visit, I listened to an EWTN commentary that Pope Francis goes to confession every fifteen days.  That's just amazing.  The pope is super busy yet he makes time.   

But as the day went on, I felt more and more sluggish.  I curled up in bed and took a nap.  As the time approached for me to leave for church, Martin asked if I was still going.  "No," was my answer.  I sounded like an uncooperative child.

I almost missed my appointment with God but something nudged me to get myself ready and in the car to make it on time.  Thank you, my dear guardian angel!  I hurriedly grabbed a quick lunch from the kitchen and then I was off.

Thankfully the line was not too long.  There were five people ahead of me.  I looked around and saw other parishioners getting ready for the vigil Mass.  I thought about our guardian angels and how each person around me has a special appointed guardian angel protecting him or her.  It's amazing how great God's love is for each one of us!

As I stood in line waiting my turn, I wondered if entering heaven would be like this, standing in line waiting to be admitted.  With God's grace one day I will be waiting my turn to enter His heavenly kingdom!

I was also reminded of a few great saints -- St. Faustina, St. Padre Pio, and St. Jean Vianney -- and their experiences with the sacrament of reconciliation.  There is a beautiful story of St. Faustina as her confessor did not believe that she was having visions of Our Lord.  Her confessor told her to ask Christ what his last sin was.  She asked the Lord and He replied, "I do not remember."  Jesus forgives and forgets, throwing our sins away.  

Saints Padre Pio and Jean Vianney were known to spend hours at the confessional.  St. Padre Pio had the gift of knowing if a sinner was with holding any unconfessed sin.  And St. Jean Vianney, the Curé of Ars, was known to hear confessions up to eighteen hours a day.

For some time now I had been dealing with a variety of challenges such as my own healing and recovery, my mom's surgery, and my son's doctors' appointments.  All of these plus the regular duties of being a stay at home mom had pushed me to exhaustion, mentally and spiritually.

It was time, my time to reconcile with God.  As I walked into the confessional I was greeted by the retired priest who also happened to hear my last confession.  He gently counseled me and said that he would pray for my healing and more importantly for peace and patience.  As he said those words and granted me absolution I knew and felt every burden fade away.  The power of confession is truly healing, miraculous, and much needed in our lives today.

By the time I got home all was well with me.  I happily worked in the kitchen and started prepping for dinner.  It was like I was a new person!  

Personally I don't like carrying the weight of sin.  It is a heavy, awful burden.  Pushing confession off is pushing God off to the side and acting like we don't need Him.  It's just like Adam and Eve who disobeyed God and hid from Him.  The truth is no one can hide from God.

The saints and Pope Francis are wonderful examples of holiness, but we are all called to be holy.  If you haven't taken advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a while, I encourage you to do so.  

Make time for Him.  Make that appointment with God and be reconciled and renewed.

 

I almost missed my appointment with God but something nudged me to get myself ready and in the car to make it on time. Thank you, my dear guardian angel!



Surrender

I am back at this place waiting...   The last time I was here it was around Easter 2010 when I was still a newly wed.

I was encouraged then but this time I am feeling out of sorts.  Frankly, I feel exhausted from my mind racing.  Nobody likes the unknown.

This time we are three plus my dad and brother.  We are waiting to learn the outcome of my mom's surgery.

These days I am trying my hardest to let go and let God.  It's hard for me because I like to be in control of my whereabouts.  I like order.  I like things in its proper place because it makes me feel better.

This situation unfortunately is making me very uncomfortable.  With my mom's neurosurgeon we knew him and we had confidence in him.  He had done my mom's first surgery to remove the ependymoma in 1997.  He once again was able to perform the surgery for the acoustic neuroma in 2010.  But I don't know this new doctor.  

My mind is wandering again this time of a book by Father Larry Richards.  It's called Surrender! The Life Changing Power of Doing God's Will and that's exactly what I need to do this very moment.  Surrender everything to God and trust in His Holy Will.  I have brought the book along to re-read it hoping that it will help me to be more supportive for my mom and family.  

Jesus, I trust in You!

And I will go back to reciting my rosary prayer one bead at a time because it has always and will continue to give me consolation.  And I will wait knowing that my mom is in the loving care of our Lord.

We all know someone who is suffering.  Someone out there is dealing with drug addiction, mental illness, cancer, a difficult pregnancy, lupus, arthritis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, dementia, old age.  It's painful to watch our loved ones suffer.  We feel so helpless, don't we?  But I remember what a good priest said to my mom when she told him in 2010 about her upcoming surgery.  He said, "Good.  You will be suffering with God!"  

We forget that the most important person who ever lived and walked on this earth suffered the worst kind of crucifixion and death on a Cross.  If we remember Him during our sufferings and times of need, we can unite our sufferings with His.  That's what the faith teaches us.

And let's not forget about the Good Samaritan.  Though others passed by and ignored the brutally injured, half dead man, the Good Samaritan stopped and took care of him with love and compassion.  We can do the same by visiting or calling our loved ones especially those who are in most need.    

Mary, Holy Mother of God, be a mother to me now!  Pray for my mother and us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

 


Jesus, I trust in You!

Bethesda

Three years ago when I was pregnant with my little boy,  we met my husband's best friend and his family in Maryland.  We were having some fun times together!

At the time their oldest child was about to start her college courses and her dad wanted me to give the best advice possible about succeeding academically.  

Being the only adult in the group who went to college in the US, I was glad to talk about my experiences.  I started off stating the one thing that I would have done differently.  

I said, "I would have prayed more."  I can't forget the look on her dad's face.  He stared at me so sternly with a puzzled look.  And so I continued about the importance of prayer and keeping a God-centered life because for one college life is tough.  There's no question about that.  

I had my struggles academically but I was really blessed to have been surrounded by really good people all four years.  I thank God for my guardian angel who had been so good to me during my youth and young adult life.  

Faith helps us to make the right choices during difficult times and it gives us hope.  Also, asking the intercession of the Holy Spirit is very powerful as we need His guidance to help choose classes and pick the right major.   Pause just a while in moments of confusion and the Holy Spirit will lead you on the right path in His time.  He never disappoints!

I still remember my lowest moment at The College of William and Mary when I believed that my mom had passed.  There are no words to describe the feeling but my only consolation was praying the rosary.  Just fifteen minutes of prayer and my whole world was completely changed as I felt calm and peace that I had never experienced before.

A few weekends ago we met with our dear friends, this time with mother and daughter.  And again we had a grand time spending a few hours together.  Their daughter was in Bethesda for an interview with her top pick medical school.  

We had lunch at a  restaurant called Wildwood Kitchen.  It's located in a quaint shopping center in Bethesda.  I love how they are able to accommodate someone like me who is on a strict clean diet.  I would definitely go back given the opportunity!

If you do not believe in the power of prayer, let me tell you that it works!  For some years now, my husband  and I have kept our friends  in our prayer intentions since we knew that they were not  faithfully practicing Catholics.   I am happy to say that our prayers have been answered!  Today they are among our most faithful Catholic friends!  

Since that time when we met three years ago our friends have grown a hundred fold in their Catholic faith.  I like to tease them about how jealous I am that they have gone to conferences and have met many of my favorite prominent Catholic personalities.  It was wonderful to sit and chat about the beauty of  Catholicism and the strength of God's mercy to us reverts.

My husband heard something insightful while listening to Catholic Radio just a few weeks ago.  He said that the radio talk show host said that we should not be asking our children what they want to be when they grow up.  Rather, we should be asking,  "How will you serve God when you grow up?"  

Faith is really the best gift we can give to our children.  Why?  Because the ultimate goal at the end of each person's life is to get to heaven.  We forget that day in and day out in a self-centered, materialistic, power-hungry world.  Let us commit to passing on a faith so strong in our children.  One that keeps them always centered in Christ and His love and always ready to serve Him.

   

  

How will you serve God when you grow up?

El Papa

Did anyone else notice how high church attendance was last Sunday and this past Sunday?  I had never seen so many people attend Mass before at our parish!  I like to think that Pope Francis' visit to the US had something to do with it.  I certainly hope he comes back for another visit!  

Like so many, I had been glued to the television watching and cheering for the pope all week long.  What excitement and good for the whole world to witness!

I couldn't help but notice that the climax of Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families brought much joy to the Holy Father.  He was beaming and filled with so much energy when he arrived in Pennsylvania!

As much as my family and I wanted to be there to see the pope in person, we were unable to make it.  But I recalled what a disabled priest once said about the March For Life:  he probably would never be able to participate in the March For Life in Washington, DC again, but he would pray for its success.   And so we prayed during the pope's visit.

Prayer really was the theme of Pope Francis' visit in the US.  I loved watching all of the Masses and prayer services.  The magnificence and beauty of each Mass was truly priceless and uplifting since every moment praised and glorified God.  I also loved his humility as he asked many times, "Pray for me."  

There is something great and wonderful about the pope.  When he enters a place he makes an impact, a difference for the better.  A holy man guided by the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis can captivate audiences Catholic and non-Catholic alike; people from all over are attracted to him, and we all listen.

One of the most moving moments for me was when the Holy Father spoke before feeding the homeless.  He spoke of St. Joseph and though he had to overcome hardship after hardship he had a quiet wisdom and steadfast faith in God.  Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph constantly said "yes" to God.  It was so touching and eloquent how he could remind us of one of the most humble saints who ever lived and show us how his life parallels so closely to the poor, the forgotten, and the lost.

May we all be moved to be like the pope and the saints.  May we all be moved to be more Christ like!

And so we prayed during the pope’s visit.

Helen

Years ago I was asked to drive a Schoenstatt priest from Northern Virginia to Virginia Beach.  During the drive, I asked him if there was ever a St. Elaine.  Fr. Dietrich exclaimed, "Yes, St. Helen!"  I remember feeling happy to hear it.  

The second time I learned about St. Helen or St. Helena was during a homily at Our Lady of Hope in Northern Virginia.  Fr. Saunders (a great homilist and a graduate of my alma mater The College of William and Mary)  was sharing a beautiful story about the eye catching significance of the crucifix above the altar.   

If you live in or near Northern Virginia I highly recommend that you visit Our Lady of Hope in Potomac Falls, Virginia.  I've always admired its beauty and especially the suspended crucifix before the altar.  On the back of this grand, commanding fixture bears the Latin words "in hoc signo vinces" (in this sign, you will conquer).  The story tells of Constantine marching with his army and suddenly he sees the sun and a bright cross with those words.  The following night God explains the meaning of the vision in a dream.  God tells Constantine to have every soldier bear the sign of the cross on his shield in battle.  Constantine did as the Lord warranted and he came out victorious.  The cross is a powerful reminder that Jesus is the triumphant one.  

I love the story of St. Helena.  She really was a remarkable saint.  An empress, mother, and wife, sadly her husband the emperor left her for another woman.  Mother to Constantine, she was responsible for converting him to Christianity.  She therefore is the patroness of difficult marriages and converts.  She spent her life building churches for God's glory.  

St. Helena is also famous for finding the True Cross upon which Our Lord was crucified.  She found all three crosses but it was the True Cross that brought about the miracle of the healing of a woman diagnosed with terminal illness.  

These stories highlight the triumph of the cross.  Jesus, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, has already conquered death and has laid a path for all of us to follow.  I recently watched a homily on EWTN by a Passionist priest who was talking about darkness.  We, just like Jesus and all of the saints, experience great darkness from time to time. The priest explained that just as darkness is important for mustard seeds to grow, it is the same for each one of us.  Darkness is supposed to make us stronger.  It is supposed to bring us closer to our Lord.  It is during our darkest, most difficult times that we can grow in faith and really know and follow our God.

The saints are our friends.  They are with God in heaven and are rooting for us.  Have your children read and learn about their patron saints and encourage intercessory prayer.  You can even make it fun for your children by throwing a party in honor of their patron saints.  There are some wonderful, inspiring movies about the saints, too.  Watch them with your children.  When my son gets older, I plan to teach him about his patron saints.  His full name is Joseph Fulton Constantine; Joseph after St. Joseph and his paternal grandfather Jose; Fulton after Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, the great TV evangelist; and of course Constantine after Constantine the Great.  (Although Constantine is not honored in the Roman Catholic Church as a saint, he is still remembered for his great role in Catholic history - the legalization of Christianity among other things.)   I love this quote beautifully put by Pope St. Clement I of Rome:  "Brothers, we must follow such examples.  For it is written:  Follow the saints, because those who follow them will become saints."  August 18 is the feast day of St. Helena.  St. Helena, patron saint of converts and difficult marriages, pray for us!  


Favorite Movies and Books Of The Saints

 

Resources

 

St. Helena and the True Cross by Fr. William Saunders

Finding of the True Cross by Fr. William Saunders

 

The saints are our friends. They are with God in heaven and are rooting for us.

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Give A Blessing

It was a blessing to be able to hear the homilies of different parish priests in Northern Virginia.  Many were thought provoking and inspiring.  I remember a parish priest whose homilies did not usually resonate with me.  For some reason, his sermons didn't connect with me.  However, there was one that did.  He spoke about visiting his dad, and how during every visit, his dad would give him a blessing.  I thought what a lovely gesture, to do something so simple yet touching to your child, entrusting him to the Lord. 

At the time, Martin and I were newly married and lived just minutes away from two of my godchildren.  I decided that I would bless them every time we visited.   I would simply take my thumb and mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross.  It's just a simple, loving blessing for their protection.  I now have five godchildren and unfortunately do not see them as much as before, but I bless them when I see them.

I do the same for my family.  Whenever Martin leaves the house for work or for errands, I mark his forehead.  It somehow gives me peace knowing that I am asking the Lord to watch over him.   I bless our son several times a day, in the morning and evening and before meals.  

Our night time ritual is pretty consistent.  Constantine gets a quick bath, we read books, then we pray the rosary together as a family, I sing songs, and I always kiss and bless him right before I put him down for bed.   I'm a mama who wants to ensure a very good night's sleep for my son.  These are some of the many cherished blessings that fill our lives with joy!

 


I do the same for my family. Whenever Martin leaves the house for work or for errands, I mark his forehead. It somehow gives me peace knowing that I am asking the Lord to watch over him. I bless our son several times a day, in the morning and evening and before meals.

Let's Go Fly A Kite

Throughout my 20s and early 30s, I regrettably was pro-choice.  Like many Americans I had been brainwashed in believing that every person has a right to choose what is best for him or herself.  I didn't believe it was any of my business what people wanted to do with their lives.  We live in the United States, the Land of the Free, for crying out loud!  Never did I imagine how dead wrong I was in this mindset.

Towards the end of my banking career I distinctly remember siding with the pro-choice argument in conversation.  I can't forget what a bank associate and friend quizzingly said to me, "Isn't that an oxymoron?  I mean coming from a Catholic!"  He certainly had a point.  Oh my gosh!  Could I be a hypocrite?  

By now I think people have heard and seen the two shocking undercover videos on Planned Parenthood's top women executives caught speaking so nonchalantly about the selling of baby parts.  The first woman, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, is casually eating her lunch while talking about the destruction of fetuses yet salvaging baby organs to sell them.  For people who have no idea what an abortion is, these videos are mind boggling.  For people who have never heard of Planned Parenthood and thought that it's just a women's clinic that saves lives by conducting mammograms, this is new news.  At the end of the first video, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards comes out and says how wonderful Nucatola is.  

Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene.  How timely and fitting her commemoration comes!  St. Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, the man whom Jesus raised from the dead.  She was also a prostitute, who was possessed by at least seven demons. However, Jesus had pity on her just as He has for all of us sinners and casted out the demons. St. Mary Magdalene's story of conversion is so powerful.  So it is good to ask for her intercession for all those in the abortion industry like Cecile Richards, Deborah Nucatola, and those who are pro-choice and pro-abortion.  Abortion is heinous, evil, and sadistic, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deeply conflicted and brainwashed (like I was).  Even a small, innocent child can tell that the killing of a baby in the womb is wrong.  May the Lord raise abortion leaders and supporters up from the dead.  May He help them see the truth because nothing is more important than saving souls!

You may be wondering about the title "Let's Go Fly A Kite".  I've been watching the movie Mary Poppins these days because of my little boy and I can't get the song out of my head.  He loves the movie and the songs.  One of his favorite scenes is the one with the penguins dancing in the animated sequence.  He gets right up every time and dances along!  If you haven't seen the movie Saving Mr. Banks, the story behind Mary Poppins,  it's a must see as well.  I have a wish, more like a vision.  I'd love to see the day when abortion is abolished in the United States.  On that wondrous day I'd love to see 55 million kites up in the sky to honor those 55 million children murdered in the wombs of their mothers here in the U.S.  At least 55 million babies have been killed since Roe v. Wade.  What a happy, happy day that would be and not to mention a most beautiful sight!

I urge you to talk to your children (even if they are grown) about the evil that is abortion.  Have that conversation.  If you don't, then they will eventually believe it is okay, as I once did.  It really is a hard conversation to have because the thought of it is very saddening.  Say a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your discussion with your children.  He will be your help and lead the way.   Every life matters from conception to natural death and for God's sake let's instill this truth in our children.  


First and Second Planned Parenthood Videos

I have a wish, more like a vision. I’d love to see the day when abortion is abolished in the United States. On that wondrous day I’d love to see at least 55 million kites up in the sky to honor those 55 million children murdered in the wombs of their mothers here in the U.S. What a happy, happy day that would be and not to mention a most beautiful sight!

Six Years

The most important thing that I've learned these past six years of marriage is that God's love knows no bounds.  We cannot count the blessings He has given us.  Our life has flourished because of Him.

We've certainly had an eventful time together.  We were unemployed at the start of our marriage, relocated three times in four years for Martin's job, had financial challenges, and dealt with illness.  In times of difficulty and uncertainty, God has provided for us and has answered all of our prayers.

I can never forget one life changing event.  Martin's job in Dallas was eliminated a couple of months before our wedding and he was left unemployed.  He called me right away to tell me the bad news.  I happily replied, "Oh, good!  I don't have to move then!" (I was living in Virginia.)   That was not exactly the response he expected!  He called his mom in Manila next to tell her the news.  She cut the conversation short saying, "I have to go.  Don't worry anak (child)!  The Lord has been looking after you your entire life.  He won't stop now."  Click, dial tone.  No sympathy there!

Mom got it right.  The Lord has truly looked after us.  Being unemployed was an unexpected blessing -- it brought us closer.  Somehow, despite our adversity, God took away our burdens.  We prayed the rosary, were able to attend daily Mass, and had lots of quality time not only with each other but with our dearest friends and family.  We were even able to go back to the Philippines for Martin's father's birthday.  We like to call this time in our lives our extended honeymoon!

When we were preparing for our wedding, I used to ask Martin if we could celebrate our wedding anniversaries lavishly.  I had all sorts of extravagant ideas floating in my head.  Martin would just smile in reply but I'm sure he was worried!  Thankfully I don't think like that anymore.  While weddings are truly special and unforgettable for the bride and groom, I've learned that there is much more to an anniversary than having a party.  Our anniversary is a reminder that our life together is sacred, blessed in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

There is no doubt in my mind that my life has never been sweeter since marrying Martin. These past six years have been the best six years of my life.  And I know that the next six years, and beyond, will be even sweeter.


The Mass


The Reception


Dios ti agngina!  Thank you to all of our loved ones who devoted themselves to prayer during our wedding preparation and who continue to pray for us!  And to all who celebrated our special day with us, thank you.  We love you!

There is no doubt in my mind that my life has never been sweeter since marrying Martin. These past six years have been the best six years of my life. And I know that the next six years, and beyond, will be even sweeter.

Comedy in the Confessional

Have you ever heard laughter from a confessional before?  I know it sounds so bizarre but it really did happen.

A few years ago before my son was born my husband and I were new to Delaware and discovered a small white chapel not too far from our home.  It's named after the Immaculate Conception and it happened that the feast of the Immaculate Conception had just been celebrated.

It was also time for me to go to confession since it was about a year since my last one.  As we walked in we saw that it was very quiet and peaceful just as it should but there was no line.  We were the first to arrive.  The parish priest was just coming out to greet us.  We told him that we had come for confession and he told us he was happy to hear ours.  I decided to go first.

I have always preferred face to face confession for some reason.  I like to see my confessor's eyes and read facial expressions.  I think it helps me to make a good confession too.  I feel relieved when it's all over and the priest grants me absolution.  It is the one special moment to have with God and He makes everything right again.

I remember Father Roark, an older, kind priest.  I started off with my most serious sins and then talked about my venial ones.  Well, the one about ice cream really threw him off.

I told father that I was home that same week having some Ben and Jerry's strawberry cheesecake ice cream.  It had not been opened yet but I took the whole pint out and started eating.  This was really good ice cream.  I consciously kept reminding myself to stop halfway so that Martin could enjoy some too.  The problem was that I never stopped.  I ate it all!  And I knew that Martin would feel bad too.

The next day I did my usual routine of walking on the treadmill and watching EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network).  Father Mitch Pacwa was saying Mass and then the homily.  It was as if he was talking straight at me because he was talking about the gluttonous behavior of finishing a whole pint of ice cream.  My mouth dropped.  I couldn't believe it!  It was also the feast day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As I was recalling all of this to Father Roark he just burst out laughing and then laughed even harder.  He threw his head up in the air and could not stop laughing!  I found myself in an interesting situation and I thought that this certainly does not happen every day -- I started to laugh too.  I must say that we had a pretty good laugh together.

Poor Martin was left outside to wonder what was happening.  I walked back to pray at the pews to finish my penitence. As he entered the confessional, I completed my prayer and kept smiling to myself.

This was the most lighthearted and surprising confession I've ever had.  Not every confession will be as lighthearted as mine, but the feeling of forgiveness, the sense of relief, and the gratitude of being reconciled with our Lord will always be experienced.  

If you ask me if I still eat ice cream, I would tell you no.  But I'm so wishing to try this refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free ice cream in Venice, California called Kippy's Ice Cream.  The reviews and pictures say it all.  Umm, Martin, when can we go?  :) 

 

It is the one special moment to have with God and He makes everything right again.