Little miracles: An Advent and Christmas reflection

“What will happen today?” My husband asked me that question this morning before we even got out of bed. It has been a very eventful week (which I’ll get into a bit later on). We can say it was even an eventful Advent season. There was the recent passing of my very dear friend and spiritual director Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR which was on December 13th. Prior to that, we had been waiting. Waiting in this Advent season which is meant to prepare our hearts–waiting for the Christ Child, but also waiting for the Second Coming of Christ which is also our focus during these very holy days.

Much of our personal waiting this Advent season has been in regard to dear Fr. Andrew whose health had suddenly taken a drastic decline–as he seemed to be rushing towards death in a certain sense. But, no one really knew when it would occur. Was it to be on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which was coming up? No, that day came and went. Father still struggled physically. But, no one knew when he would leave us. We tended to think it would be on a feast day. Would it be the following day which was the anniversary of Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s death–someone who was very special to Fr. Andrew? No, Father would still hang in the balance–the Friars surrounding him with prayer and the sacraments. Waiting…loving, comforting…praying…

I am deeply grateful that I was able to visit with Fr. Andrew a couple of times in his last days, as well as to talk to him on the phone. We had beautiful conversations talking about our Faith, various saints, Our Lady of Fatima, and redemptive suffering. We had a blessed time praying together in the chapel of his Friary too.

I’ll never forget our last conversations which are etched now upon my heart. Especially, when I was about to leave the Friary and Fr. Andrew asked the Friar attending to him to please shut the door so we could have more time for a conversation there at the door. And with an extra kiss and hug, we bid our good bye and dear Father thanked me so sweetly for coming to visit and for the words I shared with him. There would be one more visit about a week and a half later. It was short but powerful. Father let me know that he was offering and accepting every ounce of tribulation, pain, and suffering.

We all wondered about Fr. Andrew’s passing. Would it be on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we wondered? No. Father lived through the entire day and night dedicated to the Patroness of his Religious Order. He passed on to his Eternal Reward the following morning. It was on the 13th of the month, a number very significant to Our Lady of Fatima. It was also the feast of Saint Lucy, who was the patron saint of Lucia, one of the Fatima visionaries. I shed some tears after receiving the phone call from one of the Friars shortly after his death, even though I knew it would be coming. He was very dear to me. I had been praying for a miracle, but was also fully trusting the Divine Physician who knew what HE was doing. I had no doubt.

I was told that the Friars prayed many prayers for the dying around dear Fr. Andrew’s bedside. During the Litany of the Saints, as Saint Andrew was invoked, our saintly Fr. Andrew breathed his last breath. Wow.

This past week

This past week was Fr. Andrew’s Wake and Funeral. It was a very bittersweet time. No one wanted to see Father go so soon, we would rather have his comforting presence a while longer. But we do have to trust Our Lord. It was good to see the many folks who came out to be there for Fr. Andrew and his Friars and Sisters.

It wasn’t easy seeing dear Fr. Andrew in a casket though, but I felt an abiding peace in my heart because I had no doubt where Fr. Andrew already was. He was in Heaven. Only his body lay there in the casket. Still, the utter certainty that the former comforting spiritual discussions and camaraderie would no longer exist–at least not in the way it had in the past was sad indeed. yet, to be completely honest, I certainly do look forward to staying very much “in touch” with dear Fr. Andrew through my prayers. Comfort fills my heart and I truly believe that Our Lady Herself came to get Fr. Andrew on the morning of December 13th.

The eulogies were extremely heartfelt and poignant. The funeral Mass was so grace-filled.

One tough part for me was at the closing of the casket before the funeral began when the choir began to sing “Sweet Sacrament.” I have vivid memories of Fr. Andrew carrying the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance into the chapel at every Catholic Marketing Network conference (CMN) and then singing that precious song. I can still hear it now. And, another sorrowful moment was as Fr. Andrew’s casket was wheeled down the aisle to exit the church, A pang of sorrow entered my heart when his casket passed by me.

As I felt that sorrow pierce me and cause a few tears to be shed, a beautiful CFR Sister that I knew passed by at that time and winked at me. I smiled up at her and knew she understood my pain. I think that we carried one another and lifted each other up these past couple of months and throughout the past week, especially. Fr. Andrew was so beloved to countless people all around the world. The wonders of technology and specifically through the EWTN television network that transported Fr. Andrew into people’s living rooms far and wide helped so many to get to know the humble saint. He will be sorely missed. However, I hope and pray that people all over will pray for his soul (since that is what we should do even if we feel certain that someone has gone to Heaven) and I hope that they not hesitate to ask Fr. Andrew for his intercession.

On another note, I noticed that you can request funeral cards here. A beautiful photo gallery is here.

An article in the National Catholic Register in which I am quoted. One thing I noted was that, “Father Andrew was such a bright beacon of light to our darkened world,” Aleteia also quotes me here.

On our way home from Fr. Andrew’s funeral, my husband and I played the Litany of the Saints song. We also played “Sweet Sacrament” and “Lift high the Cross” which was also sung at the funeral. We experienced a very holy time during our journey back home.

Cheesecake?!

I’ll also share a sweet and kind of funny story with you. When I filmed many Sunday Night Prime shows with Fr. Andrew, my husband and I would take him out to a local diner afterwards. Father often ordered a piece of cheesecake and a cup of coffee. In a booth there, over a small meal or dessert we would discuss matters of Faith and our culture today. Fr. Andrew was concerned about the state of our culture and the fact that the faithful weren’t heeding Our Lady of Fatima’s message. Conversations with Fr. Andrew were always uplifting even when speaking about unsettling world events. Fr. Andrew’s encouraging words were always like a healing balm. Even through the most difficult challenges, Father brought peace to your soul.

But, back to our meals together at the diner. I’ll let you in on a little secret. One time early on before Father was very sick, when he ordered the cheesecake I asked gently, “Don’t you have Diabetes, Father?”

He answered with a smile, “I take pills for that.”

Don’t worry. He did take care of himself and was allowed a treat every once in a while.

Well, my husband suggested that we stop at the diner after the funeral in honor of Fr. Andrew. Anyway, we did need to eat lunch and it would be a long ride home. So, we stopped and ordered a light lunch and in honor of Fr. Andrew I ordered a slice of cheesecake to go. I’m giving you the whole blow-by-blow here. 🙂 Before we left the diner, the cashier handed my husband a bag. I came out of the Ladies room, my husband handed me the bag and said it was my dessert that I had ordered. I said that it couldn’t be because the waitress had just handed it to me in another bag a little bit earlier. I went back to the cashier and told her that someone must have given my husband someone else’s “doggie bag” (not knowing what was really in the bag), by mistake, but I wanted to give it back.

“Oh no!” the cashier told me. That’s for you, a sweet treat from us for a Merry Christmas!”

I was very surprised. I thanked her and off we went. We got outside and I took a look in the bag. It was a whole little home made cheesecake! What a sweet gift to receive on that special day! Thank you, Fr. Andrew!

Joy to follow sorrow

After attending the services for Fr. Andrew, my husband and I were able to go out-of-state the following day to visit my daughter and her two sons, one being my very new grandson! Our son-in-law was at work during the time that we could visit. So, we missed him but will see him soon. What an absolute joy it was to see my daughter and grandsons–to hug, and hold them! It was such a special highlight of our week. We were deeply thankful to have that time with them a few days before Christmas and directly after bidding farewell to dear Fr. Andrew.

 

During the Christmas shopping rush

I have no doubt that miracles occur in human hearts on a regular basis. We need to be attentive to the needs around us, even, and most especially in such a busy hustle and bustle season. Advent is supposed to be a time to ponder, pray, and grow in holiness, but the advertising frenzy prods us to be running around looking for deals and gadgets. Holy Mother Church encourages us to pause and pray while the world points us away from those holy things. I find that even in moments of crazy chaos, we can pray and ponder and even be of service to someone who needs us.

I am reminded of a few encounters during this busy season. One time I was at a local department store and in the check out line. The cashier told me to go to the next cashier who had just finished taking care of a customer. I followed her directions and a couple behind me started to rant and rave. They yelled at me because they thought I was cutting in line. It was actually quite a scene. I think the onlookers were amazed at the fuss. I told the couple that they could go ahead of me if that would make them happy. They did go ahead of me, but still seemed angry. I prayed for them. I’m sure that they needed prayers. They were so stressed out.

At another store, when out Christmas shopping, I bumped into a friend from church. She was going through a very rough time with her family and asked for prayers and a listening ear. I promised my prayers and after about a half an hour or so, we parted with big hugs. Later that night, I prayed much for her. The following day, I saw her again at another location. She said kiddingly, “We have to stop meeting like this!” I told her I had prayed for her in the night when I was unable to sleep and that I would continue to pray for her situation. She was very thankful, knowing I was praying for her seemed to bring comfort to her soul.

One dear friend who has been through a lot of strife in the past year told me she couldn’t find her Nativity set. It would bring much joy to her to be able to set it up, even just a few days before Jesus’ birthday. She searched all around and prayed to Saint Anthony. I prayed as well. If only she could find that simple symbol of God’s great love for mankind. It would brighten her holidays. I was so happy to receive her email letting me know that she finally found her Nativity set at the very bottom of a pile of boxes from her move. Little miracles are to be found all around.

Recently, out at the grocery store, I enjoyed a surprise encounter with a friend. It happened when just after I had finished shopping, I remembered an item I needed, and so before checking out, I headed to the Deli department on the other side of the store. A woman I know from a local diner gently grabbed onto my arm.

“I was hoping I would see you!” She was visibly excited.

It turns out that she had had brain surgery and was now hopefully fully recovered and back to work part time. She was telling me all about it and did mention that she had an upcoming appointment to go over further test results. She felt that God had put some very kind Angels in her path and told me about them too. As well, she thanked me for being in her life. I gave this woman a blessed Miraculous Medal that I had in my pocket that day. It was one that dear Fr. Andrew had blessed for me. She graciously accepted it and was vey grateful to have it. We parted with big hugs. I was so happy that God had arranged that we saw one another, especially because this woman had hoped she would see me. I never did pick up that Deli item! It certainly doesn’t matter!

Out of the mouths of babes!

Recently after Mass I was carrying the precious vessels to the sacristy and a parishioner greeted me and asked about Fr. Andrew. I gave her the news of his passing. Two young sisters (8 and 10 years old) that I know were nearby. I had one as a student in our faith formation program. The youngest asked ne a question.

“I heard you mention that someone died. Is that the person you asked us to pray for?”

I wanted to tell them gently. I didn’t want them to be upset right before Christmas. But they  needed to hear the truth. “Yes.” I told both of them. “But, don’t worry,” I said. “He went to heaven. It was time for him to pass on to his eternal reward. Thank you for praying for him!”

The youngest quickly spoke up.”Life is a war,” she stated calmly.

I was surprised at her statement, but very happy to know that she seemed to understood already the spiritual battle of life.

She elaborated. “Yes. we have to fight hard to live a good life and get to heaven.”

Her older sister chimed in. “I look at life as a test. And, I want to get an A plus!” She smiled. I was so proud of the girls!

“What will happen today?”

Remember I told you what my husband asked me this morning? “What will happen today?” He asked. He asked that question because we had had an eventful week, but mostly, I’m sure because of the Bobcat and the emergency situations with our neighbors which I’ll tell you about now. I told you part of the eventful week above–about Fr. Andrew’s Wake and funeral. That was followed by the trip out-of-state to see my daughter and grandchildren. Then, just yesterday an ambulance showed up at my neighbor’s home. I left what I was doing to rush over to see if I can help my elderly neighbors. In the past I brought my neighbor to the hospital when she was having a stroke as well as have assisted in some way when an ambulance would arrive to their home due to an emergency. Turned out my poor neighbor was having another stroke yesterday morning, but was also very disoriented. I asked her husband if I could go in the house to try and comfort her. I’ll call her “Bethany.”

“She probably won’t recognize you,” he told me, very matter-of fact.

I ventured in and went over to her amid the chaos of people speaking very loudly. There were paramedics, a caregiver, a nurse–everyone milling around in a flurry, checking papers, asking questions. I squeezed in through the people and approached Bethany, speaking softly to her. She greeted me with excitement, and did recognize me. I sat down right next to her on the couch. I was so happy that she knew who I was even while going through a stroke with advanced dementia. Little miracles are all around…A few minutes later and we were all helping to get Bethany on to the stretcher and the technicians then took her into the ambulance to get checked out at the hospital. I kissed her good bye before being whisked away and promised my prayers.

Later that day, I had to scare off a wild Bobcat that was about to attack my cat! Wow, I thought. Never a dull moment. This was right in my front yard! I was extremely thankful that I opened the front door when I did so I could see what was going on and get my cat in to safety. He is not going to be going outside any time soon!

Last night, actually it was two in the morning when the phone rang. It was Bethany’s husband asking if I could possibly go over to help him convince his wife to go inside the house. It was freezing cold outside and there was a sheet of ice over everything.  My elderly neighbor had just driven his wife home from the hospital and Bethany didn’t believe that it was her house. She absolutely flat out refused to go in. My neighbor didn’t know what he could do so he called me. I was happy that he did so, because I wanted to help. I told him I would dress quickly and go over. Before leaving my bedroom, I quickly grabbed a blessed Rosary from my bedside. I would offer it to her as a comfort (even though I knew that she does not practice any religion).

My husband reached for the flashlight lantern and he accompanied me out into the cold dark night and over to our neighbor’s home. We had to walk carefully because the ground was slick. I approached the car where my neighbor sat. She was very disoriented, but thankfully she recognized me and after some time, allowed me to assist her into her house and into her warm bed. We went carefully through each doorway, holding her up so she wouldn’t fall. Bethany was very happy to receive my Rosary beads and held it tightly in her hand as she lie in bed, finally beginning to warm up under the blankets.

Today, I stopped by their home  to check on my elderly neighbors and brought them a Christmas dessert. They were doing well and very appreciative for our help in the night.

Just before stopping to see them, on the way home from grocery shopping for Christmas dinner I asked my husband to pull up to a little diner in town so that I could give my friend an early Christmas hug. It was pouring rain, but I didn’t mind getting a little wet to surprise my friend. I knew that she worked on Saturdays. She was quite busy with a diner full of patrons, but our sweet Christmas hug was special indeed.

She paused a quick second so I could snap her photo. She had survived her intensive brain surgery and I was grateful too. Little, and yes, big miracles are happening all around us!

“What will happen today?” my husband asked. We never know, on any given day, but we offer our days–each one–over to the Lord, first thing in the morning and trust Him with our lives. We pray that we can be a light to others in a darkened world. We pray to bring others to Him!

Tomorrow is the last Sunday of Advent. It is also Christmas Eve. Where has the Advent journey taken us thus far? What will tomorrow bring? Let’s be sure to bring Christ’s light and love to so many wounded in our world today.

By the way, the Litany of the Saints and “Sweet Sacrament” have been continually playing in my head. God bless you! I am praying for you. Please pray for me.

Merry (almost) Christmas!

 

Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR leaves many memories

Our beloved Father Andrew Apostoli went home to has Eternal reward on December 13th on the feast of Saint Lucy.  The 13th of the month is a significant day for Fr. Andrew since Our Lady of Fatima appeared on the 13th of the month to the three little shepherd children in Fatima.

Here are a couple of articles about Fr. Andrew’s passing and reflections from various people, myself included:

The National Catholic Register and Aleteia.

I was blessed to spend some time with my dear friend just a short time before he passed on to his Eternal reward.

We pray for the repose of his soul (even though I highly suspect he went straight to Heaven!) and we can also ask him to pray for us, knowing how saintly he was.

Some wonderful quotes by Fr. Andrew noted in the Register are here.

“Angels of God” Fr. Andrew Apostoli talks about the Angels

My dear friend Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R. talks about the Angels on this show on EWTN: Sunday Night Prime. He was reiterating some of the things we had said on our Angel show prior to this one and mentioned some things that we ran out of time to talk about. We have done two Angel shows together.

One thing that Fr. Andrew reminds us that I mentioned in our previous Angel conversation is that our Guardian Angel brings us at least three things:

!) PEACE when we are troubled or suffering.
2) PENITENCE from our sins, encouraging us to make reparation
3) INSPIRING US TO PRAY to be strengthened and enlightened.

Take a look here below to watch the show:

 

Mothers Who Fear They Are Failures

Motherhood with all its unending joy is a vocation filled with a myriad of challenges. In addition to the arduous continual work in raising children today amidst the chaotic demeaning culture, there are other difficulties mothers face too. Immersed in a sometimes thankless role, mothers can feel isolated or invisible, they can doubt themselves or feel tempted to strive for other pursuits in an effort to feel affirmed or appreciated.

After all, when was the last time a mother was sincerely (and I mean, “sincerely”) thanked for her selfless and continual loving work and efforts in her family and home? Yes, it happens occasionally. However, our society does not value a mother’s work. Unfortunately, we mothers are valued by the size of a pay check and not the fact that we are actually raising little saints to heaven. We are, in fact, helping to form the consciences of little ones who are on loan to us and who have been entrusted to our care.

Because I am a mother of five (and three in heaven) and a grandmother, I value every aspect of the amazing role of motherhood—a vocation of love! During some of the time that I raised my children, I was a single mother. I have lived through thick and thin, and a lot of times it was very thin. So, I certainly know that mothers need encouragement and affirmation in their amazing yet arduous role. I feel very passionate about encouraging mothers everywhere and that’s why I do what I do. That’s why I write so many books and do a good deal of television shows to uplift and affirm the family—the vital cell of society, which, as we know is under attack by the evil one. I won’t dwell on “you-know-who” (I don’t like to give him credit because he thrives on that). But, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that we are engaged in spiritual battle so that we can be alert, continue praying, nourish our souls with solid Church teaching, and put one foot in front of the other to walk in faith every day in raising our families.

Recently, a faithful mother of many children came to me because she was feeling like a failure. I’ll call her Cindy. She said, “Do you have any tips you can share with me about how to get more done in a day? I am not as productive as I have been in the past in our schooling and it is making me feel like a failure. You are so productive so I thought I’d ask if you could give me some advice.”

I asked “Cindy” not to feel like a failure because she certainly wasn’t a failure. I told her that she should try to keep her chin up because God was smiling at her and that I hoped she could try not to be discouraged. I told her that “you-know-who” would like her and other mothers to feel that they are failures when, in fact, they are doing an amazing job in raising their children. I went on to give her a few tips that I thought might help her to feel more productive (since she asked for that), but certainly knew that many times a mother’s very important tasks are the ones that are quiet and may go unseen as she helps take care of her children’s zillion needs.

Give God the reins

“What comes to my mind right now,” I said, “is to get important things done first thing in the morning if you can. For instance, certain prayers you want to get going in the morning so that you don’t lament at the end of the day that you didn’t carve out that time for prayer. It’s challenging in a busy household. I do know that,” I reminded her. “But start your day with that Morning Offering prayer before you even get out of your bed, or right when you get out of your bed, on your knees by the side of your bed. Then you’ve given the reins to our Lord so to speak. You’ve given him the day ahead of you. Then you could be at peace knowing that He’s in control.”

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Amen.

“And perhaps,” I continued, “the night before, you can possibly think about a project you’d like to get done in the house the next day. A certain corner of the house, a messy countertop you need to declutter, a pile of laundry that needs to get washed, whatever it is, try to tackle that first thing in the morning.”

Adding a bit more, I said, “Sometimes, and I know this might sound crazy, but sometimes I clean a bathroom before I even come downstairs to eat breakfast. I know we need to eat in the morning to nourish ourselves, but sometimes I see a mess and think that I should probably tackle it quickly so I don’t have to face it later in the day and also, in case I run out of time later in the day. Granted, you have little ones waiting for you, and maybe this won’t work for you, but I think that lots of tasks can be done quickly.”

I went on to tell “Cindy” how I’ve tried to make a game out of cleaning up to get the kids’ help, and more. “I have always tried to teach the kids that certain things needed to be done and then we can do the fun stuff.”

I didn’t want her to feel defeated. “It’s important not to beat yourself up if you can’t get things done,” I said. “You are busy enough taking care of the physical and emotional needs of your children. That in itself is a full-time job. Add to that, all of the cleaning and all of the schooling and your own hygiene in care of yourself, there’s just always so much to do.”

I wanted to also mention a tip on family prayer. “Then, of course, you want to carve out times for family prayer. That’s why I always say to do it at the dinner table. At least that’s one time for your family prayer because everyone’s all together, hopefully, and you have a captive audience.”

I told this beautiful Mom that I would recommend that she watch a You Tube video of my visit with Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR. in which we discuss my book Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality because she had watched it a couple of months earlier and told me that it helped her in her resolve to homeschool her family. There had been some temptations to throw in the towel, but she felt in her heart that Our Lord wanted her to keep it up despite the lack of encouragement around her. I thought that if she watched the show again it might give her a good “shot in the arm.”

All those “little” things

She thanked me and said she’d watch the video soon. Then she responded to my little “tips.” She said, “That helps me SO much! You always have the right words. In fact, I did that this morning. Before breakfast, I mopped and swept and cleaned bathrooms and put on laundry.” She continued giving me a blow by blow description.

“Then I schooled while nursing, but I just can’t help but feel like I should do more and better. But I think that might be a trap. A temptation. I have been forgetting my daily offering. I will try to do that. But, I have been working in the rosary.  I am potty training my toddler, keeping my preschooler engaged, holding the nursing new one, dealing with high emotions of our teenager and helping school the other two. So, I guess even when it doesn’t feel like I’m doing a lot, I am. I just want them to be able to have a quality education and I doubt how effective I am.” Then she sighed.

Wow! This is what I’m talking about. Moms do SO much! And because Moms are often tired and overworked, they can easily lose sight of all that they actually do and also the fact that all that they do is SO important!

“Cindy” went on to tell me that she would re-watch the video. Her baby was sleeping in her arms and she had an opportunity to watch it, or at least in bits and pieces.

“Now that you reminded me,” she said, “it [watching the video] did recommit my determination for homeschooling. I remember now. It made me feel like I am making a good decision. Two of my closest friends that have been stay at home, homeschooling mothers are throwing in the towel and going to work. It just placed doubt in my mind….So I started to doubt my ability. I’m not teaching Latin or Spanish. But, I keep telling myself that if they need that, the Good Lord will provide. I also have to take lots of breaks because I wear out quickly since I’m not sleeping well at night.”

This sweet Mom is doing so much to please the Lord and raise her little saints to heaven. She, like so many others need our encouragement.

“Thank you for talking with me…Thank you for encouraging me, again!” She said.

I reiterated how much good that “Cindy” was doing for her family. “It’s quite amazing what you are doing…You don’t give yourself enough credit. And I did forget to mention too, that a lot of the work that we mothers do in the home can’t be measured because it’s all those little things which are so important to our children’s well-being.”

We don’t need esteem, honors, or even a paycheck

I wanted to encourage her more… “I would like to tell you to please keep doing what you’re doing. It’s very admirable even though you don’t realize it. You are doing exactly what our good Lord wants you to do. You are there for your family in so many ways…Please hang in there and please realize if you can, that you are doing an amazing job helping to form little consciences and raise up little saints to heaven!”

She told me, “You always make me feel so much better! You are a voice of truth dispelling the lies that come at me…It strengthens me to read your words and speak to you and know that you see value in my walk. That is your gift, encouraging mothers who I believe can get so easily discouraged because there isn’t a paycheck this side of heaven.”

I wholeheartedly agree with ”Cindy.” There isn’t a “paycheck” for our work this side of heaven. But, we don’t need that. We do need to strive to hold our heads up high and continue mothering our children, being a bright example to all in our midst, some who are struggling to find peace in their hearts. I’m so proud of this Mom. She is an amazing and faithful example to her family and all those that know her and see her example.

We can look to the Blessed Mother for guidance and intercession in our tiring yet profound vocation. We can also look to the inspiration of the saints.

Right after our conversation, this faithful Mom came across a quote from St. Alphonsus Liguori that really spoke to her heart:

A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God. Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example, for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter. In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived in remote caves to escape the esteem of men. The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men, to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul, and evil that causes us to forget our God; it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.

Many times mothers are a bit isolated in the care of their families and other times they are out and about in the community with their brood. While we mothers might not be choosing to hide out from the community in our “domestic churches” to “escape the esteem of men,” we certainly can come to discover within our sometimes hidden role, that with the exception of Our Lord, we do not need the esteem of anyone in order to be committed in living out our beautiful vocation of motherhood.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, someone I still call Mother Teresa because I was blessed to know her personally and felt that she was a special mother to me, spoke about the hidden life in the family too. She once told me:

Fidelity to growing into a soul of prayer is the beginning of great holiness. If we remember ‘what we do to Jesus—that we do to each other,’ we would be real contemplatives in the heart of the world. Let us learn to pray and work as Jesus did for 30 years in Nazareth. The life and work; the prayer and sacrifice at Nazareth are so much like what our life should be. That peace, joy and unity that joined the Holy Family together in prayer and work is such a wonderful living example to us. They grew in holiness together. Let us learn from Mary to pray and ask Her to pray that your home will be another Nazareth.

This might sound funny, but after coming out of a convent bathroom one time, Mother Teresa told her Sisters, “Someone here really loves Our Lord. That bathroom is sparkling clean!” She was implying that the Sister who cleaned it did it for the love of God. It’s the same for all of us in life. We should do everything to the best of our ability to honor and please God. She also reminded us that we shouldn’t shy away from the humble work. Her sentiments and teachings give us much to think about.

We mothers come to discover that it is not about how much we can get done in a day that matters. A mother’s love and care can never be accurately measured. There will be plenty of times when we need to overlook the messy kitchen counters and overflowing laundry hampers because we are needed to console a child, to discipline another, to nurse the baby, to break up a squabble, to teach the others, and so much more.

I can’t help but think of some very wise words from Archbishop Fulton Sheen who said, “We always make the fatal mistake of thinking that it is what we do that matters when really what matters is what we let God do to us.” Let us not shy away from the humble work or the feelings of being “invisible” at times to bring about amazing transformations of hearts and souls because of God’s abiding grace, and through our selfless, yet powerful vocation of love.

Feeding Your Family’s Soul on EWTN plus surprise news!

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In case you didn’t get a chance to see Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R and me recently on EWTN’s Sunday Night Prime discussing the family and my new book Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality, you can see it here and also below:

 

 

 

 

I have some happy news for you. I am excited to tell you that I have created a new television show for EWTN titled “Feeding Your Family’s Soul”! They will be short 2 minute shows filled with inspiration, encouragement, and the Catholic tools for today’s families. I’ll be going to the EWTN network soon to film forty shows! Yes, that’s right–forty! I’ll begin with those and go from there.

So, please keep me in your prayers to do a good job in presenting the Catholic tools and encouragement to Catholic parents and grandparents.

In addition, did you see my new website “Feeding Your Family’s Soul”? I created it recently to have a specific place to aid Catholic families. I’ll be building upon it steadily with all kinds of valuable information for the family, news about my shows, and wholesome recipes for family life, as well as food recipes too! Take a look here.

feeding-your-family_cover_finalMay God bless you and keep you!

Donna-Marie

Running through March

March has been a busy month–making my way through Lent and giving Lenten talks in various places. One was in Lafayette, LA.

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Donna-Marie attending an evening event in Lafayette with Pastor Fr. Michael Russo and EWTN’s Johnnette Benkovic.

 

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While attending the evening event, Donna-Marie “bumped into” Fr. Peter John Cameron, O. P. the Editor in Chief of Magnificat Magazine.

 

Another event was in Toronto, Canada. I key noted there and gave two talks.

 

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Donna-Marie speaking about demands for perfection women face and a mother’s call to holiness at the Dynamic Women of Faith conference in Toronto, Canada

 

It was wonderful meeting the hundreds of women gathered together to nourish their faith.

 

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Taking a moment to pose with a sweet Sister of Life who also gave a talk at the conference.

A speaking event in Naples, Florida, Mother Angelica’s passing, Sunday Night Prime

Now that Easter has just passed, I must gear up for speaking to a wonderful group of Catholic women in Florida later this week. Please keep me in your prayers. Please also pray for all of the women who will attend the event in Naples, Florida as well as all of the women who have attended the events this month.

Just yesterday on Easter Sunday, EWTN’s Mother Angelica passed on to her Eternal Reward. As sad as it is that she is no longer with us, I think it is very beautiful that she was taken home to heaven on Easter Sunday. She will be sorely missed, but no doubt, she will be working even harder from her post in heaven to bring souls to the Lord.

Here is an article in which I was quoted.

Coming up very soon is my appearance along with the wonderful Fr. Andrew Apostoli on EWTN’s Sunday Night Prime on April 3rd and 4th.

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On this show, we are discussing the holy Angels for the second time. This show will be a kind of continuation of our first show. I hope that you can tune in. Here is a bit more information about the show.

NOVENA BRACELETS!

Even throughout my busyness, I am still very inspired to create my Prayerfully Hoping & Expecting novena bracelets to celebrate and pray for human life. Each bracelet contains nine beads to represent a novena as well as the nine months of a pregnancy. They are for every woman. They can be prayed on for your unborn baby and yourself, to conceive a child, for adoption, for your children and grandchildren, and for all unborn babies to not be killed in abortion. New designs are continually crafted and are available for purchase from my webiste.

Here are just a few of the new designs here. You can check out others here at my website.

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I am also happy to mention that the EWTN’s Religious Catalogue carries my bracelets in their catalogue. I have created an exclusive design for them called “Bracelet For Life.” It’s here:

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Bracelet For Life

 

 

Fr. Andrew Apostoli talks about the Angels and my book

Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R. talks about the Angels on his EWTN TV show “Sunday Night Prime.” He mentions me and my book “Angels For Kids” We previously did a show together about the Angels and Father was following up with more information in this show below.

We will be doing another Angel show very soon. Stay tuned!