Scattered within the many notes of my journals I have written unannotated words of various bloggers & authors reminding me frequently how…
“We desperately need each other.”
“Jesus never intended for us to live the Christian life alone.”
“The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.”Genesis 2:18
Yet, so often I forget just how much I need others.
Certainly I know that we need to live our lives out with others & throughout Scripture God tells us to “lift one another up!”
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding… “Colossians 1:9
Indeed, “we need one another to get through this life.”
Most especially God tells us to pray for one another.
“that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”1 Timothy 2:1-2
Undeniably, He would not tell us to pray for one another if he didn’t intend to answer those prayers.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.1 John 5:14
Even Paul, the great apostle, “who led thousands to the Lord, appealed to his fellow believers to pray for him. He didn’t think he was so strong in the Lord that he didn’t need others to pray for him.” What humility Paul had! He knew he needed prayers and he asked for them. As we look at the Scriptures we too should be freshly motivated to humble ourselves and seek the prayers of others.
Because God does beautiful things when believers pray for one another!
God appreciates people who pray fervently for other people, especially in the face of trials.
Throughout the years I have been asked many times to pray for others; likewise, I have asked others to pray for me and those whom I love. I am repeatedly amazed at the glad hearts who so openly assist with their prayers – asking our God, who always willingly listens, to bless us in all circumstances.
“But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”Psalm 66:19
I am SO excited to share (below) a first-hand example of how God DOES INDEED – use the prayers we ask from others – and manifests them in exquisite ways!
“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”James 5:16
Dear Sr. Mary-Agnes,
I hope this letter finds you well. There is not much I can say for the inexcusable delay in writing this letter to you, which is so far removed from the occasion it pertains to. I have sat down many times with pen to paper attempting to properly thank you for your counsel and your prayers; however, I always stumbled with ‘where to begin.’ Along with the question which haunted me, “How do I adequately convey my thanks to someone I have never physically seen; yet hold such deep gratitude toward – so much so, that I feel as if she is a part of my motherly heart?”
For this reason it is with great humility that I first ask your forgiveness for my lateness, for my doubt, and for my timidity.
That being said, please allow me to simply….begin from the beginning.
Several years ago our eldest son made a visit to your Monastery asking to speak with one of the Sisters. Despite being Cloistered, with that request, God appointed you to receive his visit separated by the veiled gate.
I know in your time spent together that day our son told you of his devotion to Our Lady, his cherished trips to your Carmelite Monastery during his return visits home, and most especially that he still wore the same Scapular the Sisters gave him many years prior – just before he departed to begin his educational years at West Point. You delighted in sharing that two of your own brothers were Military Chaplains (one Naval and one Army National Guard) and the great joy this brought them – in addition to your own modest pride of their not only answering the call to God, but to Country as well. Furthermore, I also know Sister, our son specifically sought counsel that day over his troubled marriage and the brokenness he felt being so far removed from his infant daughter.
You will never know the consolation your words brought to our son and how deeply he has pondered them – all these many years – in his own heart, particularly during his darkest hours. He has valued most your promise to continue to pray for him. And he has often found great solace with the tender story you shared regarding his daughter’s name holding high regard within the Carmelite Order because of the youngest Blessed Carmelite of Compiègne – which would, as you shared, offer a great blessing having this martyred namesake watching over her.
Looking back now Sister Mary-Agnes your prayers have brought many blessings to our son & continue to sustain him, even years later. Your prayers assisted tremendously throughout his annulment process, deployment, and most especially the healing of his heart. You assured him all those years ago that God had a plan for him…and he would know that plan when he no longer had any fear in his heart because, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.” 1 John 4:18.
Praise be for your prayers, Sister!
And for that appointed time which was prayed so earnestly for!
Because while on deployment – in a time & place of war where peace does not reside & fear is all around- God manifested love between our son and a lovely military woman, from across the pond 🇬🇧, whom God deigned to erase all his fear! You would delight in seeing them together and adore her for her devotion to our son, to his daughter, to our family, and to learning our Catholic Faith. That’s correct, Sister! Adding to the abundant joy – she entered into the Catholic Church shortly before they were betrothed!
Every mother begins praying for the woman whom God has designed to complete her son from the time they are little boys. I have not only imagined the way she would look on the outside; but also the way God made her, the gifts she would have, her talents, her beautiful heart. Sister, God gave her a smile alone which has changed our son’s entire world; not to mention how proud we are to have her as a part of the family! As Matthew Henry said in his exposition of the Old and New Testament, “Women were created from the rib of Adam to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled, but from under his arm to be protected by him, and his heart to be loved by him.” And now that God had delivered and imprinted this ideal woman into the deepest interior of my son’s fearless heart – of all the words I could claim to describe my motherly joy, it has been just one…….thankful.
Just that one little word that lies at the root of all peace, joy, contentment, grace and freedom. “I will give thanks to you, God, with all my heart; I will declare your wondrous deeds.” Psalm 9:2
I could go on and on about the many blessings, big & small, your prayers have helped bestow upon our son and I know you would rightly give all glory to God! But Sister I must tell you – that there is no doubt you have indeed been a participant in God’s plan. How can I say so with such great conviction? Please let me explain…
But first we must back-up the story just a tidge!
When our son and daughter-in-heart were preparing to be married, due to the nature of them both being located in separate countries, their marriage preparation was quite unique to say the least! Our son, recently retired from the US Military and working hard to establish himself in a new career, coupled with our future daughter-in-heart still across the pond – it truly was a Herculean effort to make certain they were in compliance with being married in the Catholic Church. The dedication to make certain everything was handled properly was admirable and tangibly showed the beautiful commitment of love they already held toward one another and God. However, despite all the marriage preparation required from the Church being completed, there was one minor detail that went unrecognized until the very end! The parish priest, who was so gracious to work with them throughout the entire process discovered he was unavailable on the chosen wedding date!
I will spare you the numerous details as to why their date could not be altered; but, suffice it to say this was a tragic discovery. However, after much prayer, there was a new plan made to ask a Priest our son had recently befriended at the organization he works for, to be the one to marry them.
This particular Priest is also a Military Chaplain and they quickly discovered throughout their times traveling together they had much in common; not only Militarily, but in other facets of their lives as well. Our son was therefore hopeful Father would agree to being the officiant at their wedding. Thankfully when our son next talked with Father, to explain the nature of the situation, praise be – he was agreeable to helping! However, he made one simple request: he wanted to spend a little time getting to know them more personally. A very reasonable request indeed!
Oscar Wilde once said, “Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” Likewise Sister, I think that is what makes ‘the thing’ exquisite – the difficult road that was necessary to travel – in order to reach this beautiful point in the journey.
Mountain climbers claim this exquisiteness all the time. It was difficult to imagine the beauty amidst the excruciating climb; yet the final summit held a breathtaking unimaginable joy, worth every pebble of difficulty to get there! The French have the expression “un mal pour un bien” (a bad for a good) and Brazilians have “há males que vêm para bem” (there are bads that come for the good). In English, I don’t think there is something that conveys this feeling as directly. The best I can think of (all with subtle differences) are: a blessing in disguise, no pain no gain, every cloud has a silver lining.
So it was, on one extra-ordinary day over a cup of coffee, that God revealed exactly what manifested prayer looks like as the two of them, through the course of the continued conversation, discovered an ‘exquisite thing.’ That this particular Military Chaplain…was none other than your brother! Yes, Fr. Kevin! One of the very same brothers you spoke of all those years before, as you consoled our son.
The once tragic revelation of ‘no available priest’ was merely God’s humorous delivery of the one He wished to appoint all along.
Photo(s): The U.S. Betrothal January -2019Photographer Jared Don Photography
To say that this revelation was met with an outpouring of great emotion, by both of them, would be an understatement….it was the most exquisite recognition of what complete trust in God has the potential of becoming. Indeed, Sister! Of all the Priests in the entire country (we believe) God brought your brother, in honor of your prayers, to marry our son & daughter-in-heart.
And there’s so much more! The sweetest of which goes back to the tender story you shared of The Blessed Carmelites of Compiègne. Sister, their martyred relics were taken to England where they still reside today….and some months after the Church wedding held in the United States our son & daughter-in-heart’s ‘Recommitment Ceremony’ was conducted in England – in a little town only 60 miles from where their relics remain!
Photo(s): U.K. Recommitment Ceremony July – 2019Photographer Johanna Steward Photography
Sister, all those years ago, you were right…God indeed had a plan.
And this motherly heart of mine is so grateful for your prayers, which I know aided in helping to manifest His Divine Design. May you truly be blessed for your steadfast promise to our son, all those years ago.
Please rest assured of our prayers for you and all the Sisters at the Monastery and I would welcome your continued prayers for these three dear ones, as they begin a renewed life together – along with all those attached to them.
Most especially, may God continue to guard and guide us ALL – in this exquisite journey through life!
Hugs n’ blessings,
Your Beloved Sister In Christ, Dawn Marie
US -Jared Don Photography
UK- Johanna Steward Photography *Iincluding all botanicals photos used in post.
Video – Julian Voigt Wedding Videos
*On a sad note Sister Mary-Agnes’ and Fr. Kevin’s brother, Fr. Joe, passed away in March of 2016, which was two and a half years prior to our son ever meeting Fr. Kevin. You can view the tender eulogy delivered by Fr. Kevin at Fr. Joe’s funeral here.