Friday, September 17, 2021

Our Lady of La Salette - Feast Day on September 19th

 With Our Lady of La Salette's Feast Day coming up on September 19th, I decided to reprint a blog post from two years ago which features the introduction to my book, Our Lady of La Salette: A Mother Weeps for her Children


Introduction


Our Lady of La Salette was trying to get my attention.  It started in the days following the tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in France. Someone posted on Facebook that there was a Marian apparition that had predicted this. Another person responded that it was Our Lady of La Salette. While I had heard of this title for the Blessed Mother, I knew nothing about it. Intrigued, I searched for her message and quickly found a terrifying apocalyptic prediction. I wondered why more wasn’t known about this approved apparition. Why wasn’t this common knowledge in Catholic circles the way Our Lady of Lourdes or Our Lady of Fatima are?
My parish library had three books on Our Lady of La Salette. I took out one that looked interesting and quickly read it. It offered information about the apparition that took place on September 19, 1846 but said nothing about the frightening secret I had read online. I was confused.
A few days letter, an article appeared in the National Catholic Register on Our Lady of La Salette and the site of the apparition in Corps, France.[i]  I went back to my parish library and took out the other two books as well as undertook a considerable amount of online research. While I had no hope of making a pilgrimage to France, I made plans to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
The more I learned, the more I realized that there was a story here – a message that our Blessed Mother wanted people to hear – a message that is just as relevant in our own day as it was in 1846. In this short book, I endeavor to weed out fact from fiction regarding this apparition and to share this important message from heaven. I trust that the Blessed Mother will help it get into the hands of those who need to hear it. 
Our Lady of La Salette, Pray for Us.


[i] Mary Hansen, “Weeping Mother: Our Lady of La Salette Calls for Prayer and Repentance in the Alps”, National Catholic Register, May 12, 2019.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Order the Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Moms and save $3.95 off the cover price!

 Enjoy this trailer for The Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Moms and don't forget to order your copy at: https://www.avemariapress.com/products/ave-prayer-book-for-catholic-mothers with code PATRICE to get your copy at the discounted price of $18 (regularly 21.95). You are sure to love this collection of prayers and prayer stories by over 70 Catholic writers.


Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Mary, Will You Help Me? - #PrayerStories #AveMomsPray

Heidi Hess Saxton shares this beautiful prayer story about Mary and the Miraculous Medal.

Heidi Saxton is the author of The Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Mothers. I am pleased to be a contributor to this book! Preorder Special! Use this code PATRICE and get your copy for $18 (Regularly $21.95!) plus free shipping!

 


 

Was there ever a time when you didn’t feel close to Mary? I used to feel that way. Let me share my #PrayerStory.

Like many mothers, Mary shows her love in the details of our lives. Think about the wedding at Cana. Amid all the laughing and celebrating, she was the one to notice that the wine supply was getting low, and took steps to rectify the situation, gently chiding Jesus to intervene: “They have no wine!” (Jn 2:3). 

When I became Catholic as a thirty-year-old single woman, it took some time for me to warm up to Jesus’s mother. I didn’t pray the Rosary, not at first. My confirmation sponsor tried to teach me about the communion of saints, and even gave me a little silver Miraculous Medal, but I didn’t see the point: When I had something to say to God, I just did what I’d done all my life: I went straight to Jesus. (Sorry, Mary.)

Then about a year after my confirmation, I relocated halfway across the country for work, and rebooted my life in Michigan. Week after week I went to church … and week after week I left without having spoken to a single soul. (Protestants are way better at circling the welcome wagons.) Finally, one wintery day I spotted that Miraculous Medal sitting on my car console, and picked it up.

“God, if I shouldn’t be doing this, please don’t let anything happen that I might mistake for an answer. But Mary-if-you-can-hear-me-send-someone-to-sit-with-me-in-mass-Amen.”

I went inside, took off my coat, piled it beside me, and got on the kneeler. A few minutes later, there was a tap on my shoulder and a strange woman standing beside me. “Hi. I just moved into town. Can I sit with you?”

Dumbly, I nodded and moved over. Coincidence, I told myself.

The next week, I picked up the medal again. “That wasn’t funny, God. I’m not kidding, I’ll keep doing this if it happens again. Mary-if-you-hear-me-send-me-someone-to-sit-with-me-Amen.

I went inside, took off my coat, piled it beside me, and got on the kneeler. A few minutes later, there was another lady standing there. Again, I slid over and let her sit with me.

The third week, I was a little ashamed to ask again, but … I had to be sure. “Okay, Mary. One more time. Just one more time. Amen.”

This time there was a new family in the parish, who sat in the pew in FRONT of me, displacing the four Hispanic sisters who usually sat there. So when they got to church a little late, the oldest one tapped me on the shoulder. “Can we sit with YOU this week, dear?” Umm… sure.

I could almost hear her velvet chuckle.

Fast-forward ten years. I had married Craig, moved into our new home, and gone through training to become new foster parents. A few weeks in to our first placement, I was rocking the little boy in the middle of the night – he wouldn’t let me touch him during the day, but at night he would let me rock him to keep away the monsters. And as I rocked and sang to him, a thought went through my head, as clear as if someone was sitting beside me.

This is what you’ve been like with me. The only time you come is when you’re scared and lonely.

It was a little embarrassing. She was right. But she got the last laugh – I was scared and lonely A LOT that year, as a new mother to three little kids (a sibling group), our first and only foster care placement. I learned to lean heavily on the communion of saints, putting little St. Michel statues near their beds and even picking up the Rosary in the wee hours.

I learned that Mary, like any mother, shows her love in the details. And almost always in the darkest hours of the night.

When was the last time you asked Mary to help you? How did she answer?

#PrayerStories   #AveMomsPray   #APB4CM

 

© 2021 Heidi Hess Saxton. Used with permission. All rights reserved. 


 

Heidi Saxton is the author of The Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Mothers. I am pleased to be a contributor to this book! Preorder Special! Use this code PATRICE and get your copy for $18 (Regularly $21.95!) plus free shipping! Plus, I earn a commission off of each sale, so you are helping to support me which I greatly appreciate! (Code is good Sept 1 - Oct 15)

Thursday, August 19, 2021

The Value of Small Works of Mercy

 


So often it can seem like the world’s problems are too big. What can we possibly do to help? How can the little bit we have to offer make a difference? In Stumbling Into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy, Mary Pezzulo offers some concrete ideas on ways we can practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in our lives, regardless of our circumstances, and help provide healing and help to those who need it, one person at a time.

Pezzulo has not had an easy life. She suffers from fibromyalgia, has been a victim of abuse, and known severe poverty, but the mercy of other people helped her to experience the mercy of God. When all seemed lost, God walked in through the actions of those who helped her. She shares, “I wanted to see the living God, and I found God living in us, with us.” In turn, she discovered ways she could perform works of mercy for others, even in her difficult circumstances.

When we take the time to perform the works of mercy, we can bring the love of God to others. In some ways, the corporal works of mercy are easier. They are tangible. We can provide for others’ physical needs through feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, etc. Even those with little to offer can find ways to be generous with what they have.

The spiritual works of mercy can be more challenging. Pezzulo offers a cautionary tale that spiritual works of mercy performed in the wrong way can lead to spiritual abuse. She defines “spiritual abuse” as “abuse of any kind that damages a person’s experienced relationship with God.” For example, if someone distorts the image of God for a person or offers religious counsel in a harsh, unkind manner. Sometimes this can be done through ignorance. So, before we instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, or admonish the sinner, we need to be sure that our own spiritual house is in order and that we do these things with gentleness and respect for the free will and dignity of the person we are instructing. Comforting the afflicted and praying for the living and the dead are less likely to have the potential for spiritual abuse. We all have the ability to provide care to someone who is hurting and to offer prayers for those who need them. Done correctly, the spiritual works of mercy have a great ability to provide hope and healing to others.

In Stumbling Into Grace, Pezzulo offers her personal stories and testimony about the works of mercy, but each chapter concludes with ideas for how we can practice these works of mercy in our own lives, reaching out and touching others with the love of God. We do have the ability to help the world, one small act of mercy at a time.  

 

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Visiting Wistariahurst in Holyoke, MA

 Visiting Wistariahurst in Holyoke, MA has been on my list of places I want to visit for about 30 years now. I actually had it written down on my bucket list! It is ridiculous that it has taken me this long to get there seeing as at no point in my life have I lived more than 25 minutes away, but it just hasn't happened that I got there. To be honest, I have been once before in my life when I was about five years old. My older sister (a teen at the time) was playing guitar at some event going on there. I had one memory of being in a pretty room (I now realize it was the music room), but that was it. In any event, I finally made it last weekend! 

Wistariahurst is a mansion originally built in Haydenville, MA in 1868 for the Skinner family. The Skinners made their money in silk. My great-grandmother worked in one of their mills most of her life. In 1874, the house was moved to Holyoke, MA. In 1959, the Skinner heirs donated the Wistariahurst to the city of Holyoke. It is now a lovely museum with beautiful gardens. When I visited, they were having an exhibit of antique wedding dresses. Hope you enjoy the images!

A Beautiful Garden

A Friendly Lion Guarding the Front Door

The Skinner Mills

I Could Spend Some Quality Time in This Library

Puffed Sleeves! - Anne of Green Gables fans will understand!




 




Monday, July 26, 2021

A Book I Wish I Didn't Need

 

St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer is a book I wish I didn’t need. St. Monica, whose feast day is August 27th, is best known as the mother of St. Augustine who faithfully prayed for her son who was living a wayward life. Her faith and prayers bore great fruit. Her son became one of the Church’s best-known saints, and St. Monica is now known the patron saint of mothers of children who have lost their way.

I had hoped of all the saints, I would never need to rely on St. Monica. Yet, I have unfortunately joined that group of mothers as one of my young-adult sons has left the Church and is making decisions that are breaking my heart. I know all I can do is pray and continue to offer a positive example, which brought me to this book that I found on the shelf of my parish library.

In the Foreword, CatholicMom.com founder Lisa Hendey shares her own devotion to St. Monica as she prayed many years for the conversion of her husband. She writes that “many of us turn to St. Augustine’s mom regularly for support and strength as we raise children in an increasingly secularized society.”

Authors Mike Aquilina and Mark W. Sullivan (who also happen to be uncle and nephew) then offer some background information on the lives of St. Monica and St. Augustine, saying that Monica “taught Christians how to parent their adult children.” St. Monica was born around 331 in Thagaste, North Africa. She learned the Christian faith from an elderly maidservant. Her parents chose Patricius for her husband. He was a government official, non-Christian, known for his womanizing and bad temper. Yet, in time, he came to appreciate the wife he had in Monica and converted before his death.

Their son Augustine was brought up Christian but not baptized (a common practice in those days as it was thought your chances of going to heaven were better if you were baptized close to death). When he went to Carthage for higher education, he spent his time partying and had an illegitimate son. He also was intrigued by the philosophy of the Manicheans. When he returned home with his mistress and son, Monica continued to pray and weep for Augustine. A local bishop told her that a child of so many tears would not be lost, which she took great comfort in. Monica taught Augustine’s mistress and son the faith, but when Augustine left his mother behind and went to Rome with his son, Monica was angry at God for ignoring her prayers. Not one to sit still, Monica got on a boat and followed them to Rome where she got to know Bishop Ambrose, who would play a big part in Augustine’s conversion. Monica’s endless prayers were finally answered and her son fully embraced Christianity shortly before his mother’s death.

In the pages of St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer, Aquilina and Sullivan discuss the lessons we can learn from St. Monica’s example. St. Monica knew what it was to feel like God was ignoring her, yet she kept praying. She was honest with God, not afraid to tell Him what she really thought. She was willing to forgive her son for how he treated her, even though we have no record that he ever asked for forgiveness. She never gossiped, instead serving as a peacemaker for those around her. She knew she couldn’t do everything on her own and sought help when she needed it. She also respected the freedom God gave her son, even when she wished he would make different decisions. Each short chapter includes a reflection, a meditation from the writings of St. Augustine, a brief practical resolution, and prayer.

St. Monica is a heavenly friend to those of us struggling with parenting wayward children. St. Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer offers hope for those with heavy hearts. 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking a link help support this site. Thank you!

 

 

Our Lady of La Salette - Feast Day on September 19th

 With Our Lady of La Salette's Feast Day coming up on September 19th, I decided to reprint a blog post from two years ago which features...