a blessed day.

Every day is blessed.

But some days,

the really special ones,

it’s as if you can taste the sweetness that pours forth,

like a bright cherry popsicle on a hot summer day!

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When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is, as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.”  (CCC163)

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The word of the Lord came to me, saying:  Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” 

Jeremiah 1:4-5

The Gift of Love

“Brothers & sisters:  Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.  But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part;  but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 12:31- 13:13

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“In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.  In your justice rescue me, and deliver me: incline your ear to me, and save me.  Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71: 1-2, 3

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“For you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth.  On you I depend from birth; from my mothre’s womb you are my strength.” Psalm 71: 5-6

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“My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation.  O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeeds.” Psalm 71: 15, 17

What were the blessings you received today?

3hugs n’ blessings to all the popsicle eaters, no matter which flavor you enjoyed!

It was the love that scared them.

The recent canonization of Saint Mother Teresa has inspired me to publish a post which has sat in my ‘draft’ file for quite some time.  My spiritual director (whom I adore) encouraged me to publish previously, but also left me with the encouragement that God would provide the peace necessary at the appointed time.

I feel blessed that God’s whisper, and the peace only He can provide, came through the message of a multifaceted woman who made an indelible impact on untold numbers of people during her life.

“Each of us is merely a small instrument. When you look at the inner workings of electrical things, often you see small and big wires, new and old, cheap and expensive lined up. Until the current passes through them there will be no light. That wire is you and me. The current is God. We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us, produce the light of the world. Or we can refuse to be used and allow darkness to spread.” Saint Mother Teresa

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Life size Statue of Saint Mother Teresa, St. Veronica Parish in Herndon, Va.

Previously written….

What we need is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting.” Saint Mother Teresa

Remaining silent through the difficulties of life *we have no control over, as my spiritual mentors have shown me, is a powerful exercise of trust!  I wish I could say I was perfect at this or that I embrace the opportunity to suffer; however,  St. Gemma Galgani, St. Gerard Majella, Saint Mother Teresa (recently canonized a Saint on September 4th 2016) all have lovingly shown me, through the examples of their ‘life-lived-out,’ what it means to believe, “Pain is never permanent.” – St. Teresa of Avila

“”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I must attest that there is always great peace restored through the practice of this form of Silence.  

Because

Only He truly knows the depth of it all.

Only He can offer the necessary strength to remain weak.

Only He can bring  joy to the words, “it is finished.

The month of August is one of my favorite Internal Control of the Soul examens, as written by Saint Faustina.  And because of this it is perfect that “I cry out to You my God,” (who already know the answer to all the many questions) and release what has laid silent …once & forever;

with a still, quiet, tranquil voice

into Your ear because I do trust…

Jesus, You know.”

Hush……

as I will only say this once,

All we knew how to do was to love.

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Love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34

And this scared them.

They didn’t know how to receive it.

They didn’t understand it was a gift.

They were afraid of an expectation to reciprocate.

And this frightened them most.

For how do you give something without measure

when you have already portioned it out?

So instead they wrapped up

blame,

games,

deceit,

lies,

slander,

&

mockery

to be handed out

in love’s place.

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“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”  Matthew 5:11

And yet,

“All we knew how to do was to love.”

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

His cross was never requested.

We never asked to be the ones who would help to carry it.

And still,

“All we knew how to do was to love.”

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” Matthew 5: 43-45

And if you were to ask us,

“What was the deepest wound suffered at the pillar of condemnation?”

It was when they proclaimed to the crowd of listeners they arranged:

“They hide behind their faith!”

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If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1Peter 4:14

 

For to us

our faith is not, what we do, but rather…

Who we are trying to be.

Because…

All we know Him to be

is love.

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teaching we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”  2 Thessalonians 2:15

 

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And so it is that we continue to praise & adore You, that through Your mercy & grace

the guile has ended

and all that remains is this one final thing to say…

“All we will continue to do is to love.”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.”

John 14:27

Peace begins with a smile.

Saint Mother Teresa

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The end.

these 3hugs&blessings go out to:

all those who carry a cross of judgement in this earthly world,

May you remember how loved by God (and countless others) you are, especially when the cross becomes its heaviest.

to all those who stand by jeering in the crowd, watching the cross go by, that Mercy itself restore their peace when the scales fall from their eyes,

Father, forgive them they know not what they do.Luke 23:34

and an EXTRA-special hug to those who know never to remain silent in the face of evil for *remaining silent in the face of injustice is the same as supporting it. 

“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”  John 3:20

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Suffering will never be completely absent from our lives. So don’t be afraid of suffering. Your suffering is a great means of love, if you make use of it, especially if you offer it for peace in the world.” Saint Mother Teresa

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The Days of Prayer at the Carmel

 were recently hosted at our local Carmelite Monastery

and a plethora of 3hugs&blessings came flooding through my heart

each of these days!

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Prayers of Carmel

Most specifically,

Helen and I had a grand time attending Mass each day at

the Carmelite Monastery together!

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Helen patiently awaiting the start of Mass.
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Prayers of the Faithful.
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The Monastery fills up to capacity each year.  Because of this Helen was able to enjoy the over-flow seating with all of us in the tent just outside the main entrance!

Growing up my childhood home was merely blocks away from the Monastery and I would often ride my bicycle there, tuck it in the south-west corner outside the Chapel, and tip-toe inside to sit in the silence.

Thankfully, my mother never knew of my trips to the Monastery as I probably would have met with a consequence had she discovered I’d gone beyond the “permissible-bike-riding-boundaries.” But even at the risk of disobeying my mother (yes, I took this to confession frequently, giggles…) I cherished these moments I snuck away!

Since moving to our new home just a few short years ago & finding ourselves  within the all-too-familiar area, as where Cuppycake & I both shared the same childhood stomping-grounds; I often find myself once again at the Carmelite Monastery.  I no longer travel there on a bicycle but instead I have Helen walking by my side!   I take great delight in the fact that it is Helen I now tuck in the same south-west corner as where I long-ago placed my pink, white, & purple banana-seat bike before tip-toeing back into the silence!  What a relief it is not to worry over any consequences of being discovered in my travels too, as my mother now trusts I understand what to do in on-coming traffic!  (Giggles.)

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Helen often walks the Stations of the Cross with me prior to Morning Mass at the Carmelite Monastery.

It is easy to understand why I have always had such a tender affection for Our Lady of Carmel.  Not only because of the Carmelite Sisters & the impact they had in my spiritual foundation, but growing up our family were also members of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish (just down the road a wee-bit) under the guidance of Rev. Monsignor Joseph Scheffner and for a short time  I even attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel grade school.

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One of my very favorite statues of Our Lady is:  Our Lady of Mt. Carmel placed at OLMC School in Erie, Pa

I was absolutely spell-bound (with affection) for our Principal, Sr. Norma and also Sister Marie who I had as both my first & second grade teacher.  Both were Sisters of the Divine Spirit Congregation and I simply adored them and the habits which were worn by their Religious Order!

Quite magically they had in my child’s view what I judged to be, the most sophisticated habits of all the nuns!

The perfectly pressed, gray-blue, 3/4 length tunics with the peter-pan collars edged in white and silver-grey buttons that ran all the way up the front…were beautiful to me.  They even had a co-ordinating jacket in the same grey-blue material to match!  And there was the slim matching belt which had their rosaries cinched to them at the side, that neatly tucked into the pocket of their tunic.

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This is Sister Marianne teaching at Our Lady of Peace in Canton, Ohio.  Photo courtesy of  the Congregation of the Divine Spirit Facebook Page.

 And Sister Norma had the largest rosary of them all!

  Which always swung gently at her side.

You could always hear her coming down the hall not because of the click of her heels on the polished high-gloss tiled floors, because her shoes of course had rubber soles on them so that she could successfully check on any inappropriate behaviour in the girl’s lavatory!  But because of the beads lightly sweeping across her hip with each step she took.   As a child it was like Joan of Arc with a sword at her side defending our school from the wickedness & the snares of the Devil!   I’m quite sure I sought frequent hugs from her, not only because of my affections but…just for the chance of rubbing the huge beads between my tiny-little fingers!

 As a head-covering they wore the more traditional white coif with a long navy blue veil or on special occassions a short (much like a pill-box) hat.  And my absolute FAVORITE part were the white gloves and navy blue pumps they wore during the Special Sacramental occassions!

I did not realize until I was much older that although the Sisters were a vibrant part of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School they were not actually members of the Carmelite Order. Giggles.  I did not fully understanding yet the difference between Religious Orders, so I believed all Sisters to be one in the same Order!   I guess I believed there were the ‘Cloistered Sisters’ of Mt. Carmel and the ‘Teaching Sisters’ at our school and they just lived in different portions of the same Monastery!

Which probably explains why I was initially drawn to visit the Monastery…if only for the opportuinty to hug Sister Norma once again and feel those magical rosary beads between my fingers!

But even though I never could visually see the Discalced Carmelites because they are indeed Cloistered Sisters of the Carmelite Monastery, I still adored them just as much as Sister Norma & Sister Marie.  They I discovered, (even still today,) wear the traditional habits of a Carmelite & they are most times bare-footed within their community!

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The first six Discalced Carmelite Sisters of the Carmelite Monastery in Erie, Pa, along with Bishop Gannon.

Sixty years ago, desirous of building a seminary in his diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, the Most Rev. John Mark Gannon sought prayer support for his seminarians and vocations. Turning to the Carmel of Wheeling, West Virginia, the Archbishop extended an invitation, asking that some of the nuns be sent for this purpose.

Led by Mother Mary of Jesus Crucified as first Prioress, six Carmelites arrived in Erie in February of 1957 and founded the Carmel of the Holy Family on a corner of the future seminary property. The last member of these original six, Mother Emmanuel of the Mother of God, recently passed away on April 9, 2016.

I feel so blessed to have had the Carmelite Monastery be such an integral part of my own personal faith-formation and still rely on the prayer-support the Sisters offer me and our family in both trying and celebratory moments.

For the past six decades we have also been blessed to have had the continuous presence  of the Divine Spirit Religious Order in our Diocese.  Sadly, this wonderful legacy came to an end this past June, as the last remaining members of this religious community left our Diocese.  They relocated to the House of Loreto, the motherhouse of the Congregation of the Divine Spirit in Canton, Ohio.  Originally founded in 1956 in Erie, the Motherhouse was moved there in 2010.  Sr. Colette, one of the last remaining in Erie from her Order, who first began teaching in our Diocese in 1957, finished up her 53 years as Prinicipal of St. James School this past school year and now joins the other Sisters in Canton who have been waiting for her there, wearing the perfectly pressed gray-blue tunics with magical rosary beads at their sides.

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Article written by Mary Solberg from FAITHLIFE Newspapaer in Erie, Pa

I love the Days of Prayer at the Carmelite Monastery!

I look forward to attending them every year!

And on this 3hugs&blessings thursday I am humbled by the heritage of our faith,  I am grateful for the presence of the Discalced Carmelite Sisters in our Diocese and I give thanks for the Sisters of the  Divine Spirit and the seeds of faith they sowed in my life…that tilled by the prayers of the Carlmelites, ultimately produced an abundunt harvest of faith!  

And I do so very hope they will still wear 

the white gloves & navy blue pumps from time to time!

“You shall multiply the nation,
You shall increase their gladness;
They will be glad in Your presence
As with the gladness of harvest…”

Isaiah 9:3