Where, O, Death is your Victory?

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For those of you who mourn the death of a loved one, this is the day when we joyfully (yet often with tears in our eyes) anticipate our eventual reunion in heaven. May the powerful hope of seeing our dear ones again, that is made possible by our Lord’s victorious Resurrection, be with you this Easter season and always. Oh, what a glorious day!

Every Easter Sunday since losing my mother, I have faced Mass on this holiest of days, with the paradox of profound peace and deep sadness. While the promise of defeat over death is a balm for my wounded heart, I despair in the waiting—26 years this May to be exact. Not even a blip on the timeline of Salvation history. I wait for an inevitability that is both unwelcome and scary, my own natural death. Alas, under the strictures of this fallen world and chronological time, I will wait. And I will continue to toil so that someday I can participate in His great promise to be united with Him and my dear mom.

Eucharistic communion is a foretaste of our ultimate union with God and therefore all who sit at the heavenly banquet. I have faith that my mother sits at that table. I pray that I will sit with her.

I came across a prayer the other day by Padre Pio, who seemed to have such an uncanny understanding of our human nature. I’d like to share this prayer which is meant to be said after communion. I think it has value whether you’re grieving or not. But it particularly touched me in light of the bereaved and the trying journey we walk towards our deceased loved ones.

Prayer of Padre Pio After Communion

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.

Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often. 

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am in darkness.

Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.

Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company.

Stay with me, Lord, if you wish me to be faithful to You.

Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.

Stay with me Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes; death judgment, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers. I need You. Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which dispersed the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.

Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Jesus. I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more. 

With a firm love, I will love You will all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity. 

Amen

And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal, clothes itself with immortality, the word that is written shall come about:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

(1 Corinthians 15, 54-55)

A blessed, HOPEFUL Easter to all of you!

*Photo by Fernanda Marin on Unsplash

Unplanned Peace on the Sidewalk at the Abortion Clinic

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There are those rare, fleeting moments in family life where all is strangely calm and even peaceful. Amidst the chaos of continual spats, boundless horseplay, jockeying for position, and a whole lot of random noise, quiet contentment is like a refreshing, cool rain after a stretch of oppressively, sticky-hot weather.

I can probably count those occasions on both hands. Don’t mistake me. It is not the stillness that occurs after a trip to the library when we are all happily, individually ensconced in our reading, or the brief, eerie quiet before an epic fight erupts. It’s those extraordinary times when we are resting in each other as a family. Picture a tranquil moment between a nursing mother and her baby. I remember the hours right after my dad died, when my brothers and I, a disparate group, to say the least, sat in a Denny’s, saying very little, yet joined together so profoundly. I’m speaking of a muted, but powerful connectedness—a surrender to love and understanding. Peacefully unified as we engage with one another. No one left out. It’s what I imagine to be a mere taste of the eventual glorious coming together with the Triune God in heaven.

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An Open Letter to the Motorcycle Man with the Obscene Message on His Jacket

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Dear Mr. Motorcycle Man,

Our family saw you a couple weeks ago en route to dinner. We planned to hit the parish fish fry and follow up with stations of the cross. The hope was for a fun, wholesome family-friendly evening. 

We actually heard you before ever laying eyes on you. Your big belching Harley snaked through the lines of cars behind us. In seconds you were within eyesight range in the lane next to us as we slowed for a red light. It appeared a typical Friday evening rush hour. Commuters were jam-packed on one of Denver’s busiest thoroughfares, all impatiently waiting for the green after miles of painstakingly slow stop and go traffic. The leather jacket you wore, however, was anything but typical.

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Snow Day Diaries

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Spring is officially here! There is no wiping this jubilant smile off my face. If you recall, it was just one week ago that we were facing winter Armageddon. In fact, while writing this little piece about the joys of spending time nestled in a snug home with my family as Mother Nature wreaked winter havoc, we received word that a third consecutive snow day had been called.  The school courtyard had been ravaged by heavy winds resulting in uprooted trees. While my husband’s office was officially reopened, the kids would be spending another day home with me… Lord, have mercy! To give you insight into my rollercoaster of emotions, I faithfully transcribed my marathon snow day diaries.

Monday: A huge storm is barreling towards Denver. So. Sick. Of. Snow. The last time they predicted a monster blizzard, it was a mere dusting. I guess if perchance we are homebound for a stretch, I could do some baking. In Little House on the Prairie, Ma Ingalls would’ve baked or churned butter. I’ve already got the butter. But homemade biscuits sound amazing. Our kitchen will smell like a cozy frontier home. Bring on the snow!

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Lenten Mercy & A Ball of Yarn

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I started knitting recently. It turns out the ol’ inter-webs aren’t all bad. Via the université de Youtube, some very gracious ladies have kindly schooled me in the art of “casting on” and achieving my very first stitches. Under their expert tutelage, I will now be spending my free time connecting countless yarn chains, while hopefully breaking the bonds of slavery to my phone. That’s the plan, anyway.

I’m kind of enjoying it… I think. Progress has been slow. My kids, however, are already extremely confident in my abilities. They’ve even placed special orders which seems wildly premature since I have only a week of experience under my sans-a-belt. Against my better judgment, I have promised each of them a homemade scarf. At this rate, the scarves will make wonderful college graduation gifts. That gives me a good ten years before my oldest graces the stage of the auditorium to pick up his diploma and hopefully collect his glorious handkerchief-sized scarf.

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Smile Though Your Heart is Aching

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When was the last time you smiled so hard it felt as if your face might crack? You know that ear-to-ear grin where you’re so committed to it you can feel the pull of every single muscle contorting your whole countenance. It would require more effort to suppress that goofy smile, if possible at all. It’s often when we try to quash the irrepressible smile when it bubbles up even more. Just thinking about those jubilant times in my life I feel the urge to break into a grin right now. But those giant beaming smiles are too rare for my liking. Unfortunately, they mark moments in time that can never be recaptured.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.

1 Peter 3:15

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Crying as We Rejoice: The Bereaved at Christmas

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I secretly cried after Mass yesterday. My kids told me that one of the new altar boys that they served with had his grandparents in town for Christmas. The enthusiastic Nanna and Papa were so gleefully proud, they couldn’t refrain from snapping photos to memorialize their beloved grandson’s biggest moments. Clearly, their hearts swelled with pride for their daughter’s treasured offspring.

On the drive home, I told my boys that if Grandma Maureen and Grandpa Jerry were living, they would have taken loads of pictures too. How proud they would be. How proud they are. “Maybe they’re taking photos from heaven…” I mused. Then the quiet tears.

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