Be Holy, Be Happy!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In the spirit of the Holy Land Pilgrimage - Mother Teresa

A Simple Path

"They returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth"
You can pray to the Holy Family for your own family:
Our Father, who art in heaven, You have given us a model of life
in the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Help us, most loving Father, to make a new Nazareth
of our own families, where joy and peace will reign.
May it be deeply contemplative,
fervently Eucharistic and joyfully vibrant.
Help us to stay together through good and ill
thanks to our praying as a family.
Teach us to encounter Jesus
in every member of our own families
especially those who suffer and are wounded.
May the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus
make our hearts as meek and humble as His (Mt 11,29).
Help us to fulfill our vocation as a family in holiness.
May we love one another as God loves each one of us
more and more every day
and forgive each other's faults
as You forgive our sins.
Most loving Father, help us
to accept all You give to us
and give all You take from us
with a big smile.
Immaculate heart of Mary, cause of our joy,
pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels
be always with us,
guiding us and protecting us.

Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of Charity



message from the Holy Land

My Mother, My Confidence!


Dearest ones,


Thank you for your prayers! We just wanted to send a quick note to let you know that we are fine. We have seen a little of the news, so we thought you might be worried. We are safe and paying attention. Do not worry.


Today we had Mass at St. Ann's Church and went to the birth place of St. John the Baptist and the Church of the Visitation. Tomorrow we will go to Gethsemane and have Mass at the Church of the Nations. We will also go to the place of the Transfiguration.


It is very difficult to find the Blessed Sacrament, except, of course, at the Churches we stop at...but they do not give us much time to pray!  :(  It helps us to look for Jesus all day long, though, so that is a gift! We are having a wonderful, grace-filled time!


You are all in our loving prayers. Thank you for your prayers. We love you!!


(We probably will not write/call again b/c it is expensive and difficult.)



Jessi and Joan

Pro Sanctity Movement
All Saints! All Brothers and Sisters!
Check out our Blog!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent Reflections


The wait is almost over
Time is near
Anticipation fills the air
Everything is almost ready

Bethlehem is within sight
It is drawing close
Look at the lambs upon the hills
Settling in for the night

There is the inn
It looks too full
Just as your belly is
There is no room

The time is close
Stars shine brightly
Wait there is a stable
All has been prepared

The hay is warm
Cattle breathe their warmth
Joseph prepare a space
Time has come

Anne Zugelder

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spend some time with St. Joseph this Advent!

Meditation by Nick Emanuel

Take a minute to read the Nativity passage from the Gospel of Matthew.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

Pay particular attention to St. Joseph and his actions. Here's a man who is preparing to marry a beautiful and holy woman, Mary. He then finds out that she is pregnant with child, a child which is not his. Being an honorable man he chooses to divorce Mary quietly rather than turn her into a public spectacle which certainly would have led to her public humiliation, maybe even her stoning. This is the good and prudent thing to do, at least as far as human understanding can take it. And if St. Joseph had done the good and prudent thing then things would have gone completely different. St. Joseph was open to the deeper mystery of Christ, so open that an angel was able to speak to him in a dream and he was able to obediently live out his call to be the father of Jesus.

How about us? How often do we just do the good and prudent thing? We go to the staff Christmas party because we should. We will visit relatives because it's what we've always done. We shop for presents because it's what we do at Christmas time. We can go a long time doing the good and prudent thing and never reach the deeper meaning of Christ in our lives. In fact, we can so shut him out that we become the ones who determine what the good and prudent thing is rather than turning to God to experience the deeper reality of a life in union with Christ.

This Christmas, go deeper with Christ. Don't settle for the good and prudent thing, let Christ show you a deeper reality.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Silent Stillness of Advent

Caryll Houselander, in her book The Reed of God, speaks of the invitation during Advent to be attentive to Christ growing within us as Mary was attentive to Christ growing within her. Noticing, paying attention to, and receiving a "growing awareness that Christ is being formed in our lives from what we are" compels us to respond to the impulse of love that rises up in our heart. Amidst all the ordinariness of daily life, we can possess a profound confidence that we are hastening toward the Father if we remain attentive to the reality of the life of Christ growing within us, possessing us. "It seems that this is Christ's favorite way of being recognized, that He prefers to be known, not by His own human features, but by the quickening of His own life in the heart, which is the response to His coming."
As a pregnant woman is constantly aware of the child in her womb, we are called by our Baptism - and given the grace - to be constantly aware of the indwelling Trinity. As we grow more and more aware of this indwelling presence, rather than becoming absorbed withinn ourselves, we are propelled in mission to serve our brothers and sisters, rejoicing always in the eternal life welling up in our heart. In these days of Advent, Mary desires to teach us to be aware of the Life growing within us, the Life being formed from the greatest poverties of our being, the Life that transforms every moment and every detail.

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word, and I shall be healed."

"The Body of Christ."


Monday, December 8, 2008

Immaculate Conception!

Mary, the Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of the United States. Let us remember that she is always interceding for the holiness of our Nation. Today we join her in praying for the conversion of our leaders and for the renewal of true Hope in Christ.

Loving Mother of the Redeemer,
Gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again,
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before,
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
Have pity on us, poor sinners.

May she who carried within her womb the hope of all the nations intercede for the people of this country, so that all may be made new in Jesus Christ her Son. -Pope Benedict XVI

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Day Nine:

John Paul II was able to touch the hearts of many because he deeply knew the needs of others. This is especially reflected in his writings and addresses to women. How did this man become such as an expert on women? He knew the Woman. Mary, the Woman first spoken of in Genesis, was his instructor. At an early age she became John Paul II's mother. As a young seminarian and priest, she was his queen when he consecrated himself totally to her. As pope, she was his constant companion and helper and his papal crest placed Mary in her most powerful postion, under the cross. Throughout his writings, John Paul II creates some of his own titles for Mary as he came to know her more and grew closer to her. In our ENDOW study, we also created our own litany with John Paul II's "Letter to Women" and with our own titles for her as well. We encourage you to write your own litany and ask Mary to show you where she is present in your life and where she wants to be more present to you today.

Litany to Mary Inspired by John Paul II’s "Letter to Women"

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy, Christ have mercy

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy

Christ hear us, Christ graciously hear us

God, the Father in Heaven, have mercy on us

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us

God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us

Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us

Purest Light…...pray for us

Love Defined,

Mother of patience,

Pool of serenity,

Mary, Mother of the Whole World,

Lady of Peace,

Mary, Mother of the Morning,

Perfect Virgin,

Mary, full of insights,

Mary, my comfort,

Our Lady of Light,

Mary, servant of love,

Mary, gift to all humanity,

Mary, Mother of the Unbelievers,

Mary, Companion of the cross,

Mary, guiding Light,

Mary, beacon of hope,

Mary, perfect model of femininity,

Mary who patiently endured life,

Mary, highest expression of the feminine genius,

Source of constant inspiration,

Wife and mother in the family of Nazareth,

Handmaid of the Lord,

Mary, at the service of love for God and others,

Mary, perfect woman,

Queen of heaven and earth,

Mary, mother of believers

Mary, icon of the Church,

Mary, Queen of Love,

Spotless bride,

Mary, gift for your Son,

Mary, gift for the sons and daughters of the whole human race,

Mother, who awakens profound trust in those who seek guidance along the difficult paths of life,

Mary, whose vision saw through all dark and confusing situations to the heart of Christ,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: O God, we thank you and praise you for in Mary is found the perfection of what you desire for all women. “Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic reign.” Invoking her as Queen, we turn to her our model, “for her, ‘to reign’ is to serve! Her service is ‘to reign’! We thank you for “the mystery of woman and for every woman-for all that constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity”. May Mary watch over all “women and their mission in service of humanity, of peace, of the spread of God's Kingdom!” Amen.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Day Eight:
…there is great significance to that ‘womanhood’ which was lived in such a sublime way by Mary. In fact, there is present in the ‘womanhood’ of a woman who believes, and especially in a woman who is ‘consecrated’, a kind of inherent ‘prophecy’ (cf. Mulieris Dignitatem, 29), a powerfully evocative symbolism, a highly significant ‘iconic character’, which finds its full realization in Mary and which also aptly expresses the very essence of the Church as a community consecrated with the integrity of a ‘virgin’ heart to become the ‘bride’ of Christ and ‘mother’ of believers. When we consider the ‘iconic’ complementarity of male and female roles, two of the Church's essential dimensions are seen in a clearer light: the ‘Marian’ principle and the Apostolic- Petrine principle (cf. ibid., 27).” (John Paul II, Letter to Women, 11)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church draws from the wealth of John Paul II’s wisdom as well:

#773 In the Church this communion of men with God, in the "love [that] never ends," is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world. "[The Church's] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members. And holiness is measured according to the 'great mystery' in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom." Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church's mystery as "the bride without spot or wrinkle." This is why the "Marian" dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine”.

Today, allow Jesus to attend to your heart. Ask Him to do so. For just as "the Eternal Father Himself accomplished in the holy heart of His beloved daughter, the glorious Virgin Mary, that which He commands all faithful souls to do when He says, 'Put me as a seal upon Thy heart' (Song 8:6). With His own hand He has impressed on her heart a perfect semblance of the divine qualities of His love, which consequently is a perfect image of the sanctity, wisdom, goodness, mercy, benignity, charity, and all the other perfections of the infinite love of the Father."
–St. John Eudes

The Bride of Christ, the Church, is often crying out for His love through her members who are broken and wounded. They are in need of the love of Christ, the Man who was pierced and wounded for His Bride. Lowering Himself for her, Christ not only loves His wounded Bride, but also sees in her the fullness (holiness) she is called to in all her beauty. It is in Christ’s redeeming love that she is perfected and made whole. Therefore, the Bride is invited to respond to this love which is poured upon her. Today let Jesus love you in your weaknesses, pain, and brokenness. Pray that you may love with the heart of Mary, that you may attend to the Heart that longs to be loved by you.

Mary, Queen of Love, pray for us!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Day Seven:

"In fact, there is present in the "womanhood" of a woman who believes...a powerfully evocative symbolism, a highly significant "iconic character," which finds its full realization in Mary and which aptly expresses the very essence of the Church as a community consecrated with the integrity of a "virgin" heart to become the "bride" of Christ and "mother" of believers." (John Paul II, Letter to Women, 11)

While there is great peace and joy to be found in realizing our dignity in who God created us to be as man and woman, there is also a great challenge and responsibility. The heart of what it means to be a woman is reflected in the beauty and grace of the Church. As members of the Church, we are all called to fulfill that role to some degree. Mary lived her life in a perfect representation of the Church as virgin, bride, and mother. As virgin, she exemplifies the virtue of purity. Purity of thought, purity of action, purity of desire. Her every word, her every relationship, was dedicated to the purest motive of bringing others to her Son. When we ask Mary to pray for us, we ask with confidence knowing that her prayers are pure and without our own selfish motives. As bride, Mary personifies service. At the Wedding at Cana, Mary served the wedding party by ensuring an abundance of wine. But she serves us today with the same words she spoke then: "Do whatever He tells you." She serves us best by fulfilling the deepest needs of our heart, directing us to Jesus. As mother, Mary embodies sacrificial giving. In motherhood, a woman gives her body, her energy and her life to nurture and care for her child. Mary sacrificed the greatest gift of her Son to nurture her spiritual children, to give us the opportunity to know Love.

The Church answers to the same call to be virgin, bride and mother. We are called to purity of heart, purity of prayer, purity of spirit. Today, ask yourself where selfishness and greed taint your motives. Ask Mary to be an example of humility and generosity. We are called to serve others in the way that Mary served humanity, always leading others to Christ. It is the richest service we can offer another. Today, ask Mary to help you recognize where God might be using you to lead another to Him. We are called to make a sincere gift of ourselves in a sacrificial way as spiritual mothers. In placing the needs of others before our own, we invite God to work through our gift. Today, invite the Holy Spirit to give you the courage and the strength to give of yourself in a new way so that another may be nurtured and cared for. Reflect on the great sacrifice of Mary and pray in gratitude for her example of perfect motherhood.
(Reflection by Michelle Z.)

Mary, spotless Bride and icon of the Church, pray for us!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Day Six:
Our ability to recognize this dignity [of women], in spite of historical conditioning, comes from the use of reason itself, which is able to understand the law of God written in the heart of every human being. More than anything else, the word of God enables us to grasp clearly the ultimate anthropological basis of the dignity of women, making it evident as a part of God’s plan for humanity.” (Letter to Women, 6)

As Christians, we are aware that God created man and woman with equal dignity. Each unique, but loved the same by our Creator. However, through our fallen nature the differences between man and woman have not always been seen as ‘good.’ Often, feminine qualities have implied weakness and, in certain circumstances, unfair conditions have been imposed on women.

The tragic cases throughout the world where women are not respected are grievances shared by Christians and the secular world alike. The “law of God written in the heart” brings us back to this truth. It is a universal truth that women and men are equal and even complementary. Reason and nature tell us this, yet the hardness of our hearts and fallen nature interfere.

But as Christians, we have countless stories and examples in Scripture of how God has blessed women and used them throughout salvation history. We especially have Mary. Conceived without sin. Full of grace. God chose a woman to be the model of humanity. She is the New Eve and God looked on her, as he did with our first parents, and saw that she was ‘very good.’ How blessed, particularly, is the role of motherhood because God chose Mary to give life and love to His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Reflection by Jenny Janeczko) (The picture is a tapestry in Notre Dame de France Church in London)

Mary, gift for your Son, gift for the sons and daughters of the whole human race, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Day Five:

"We are told from the very beginning, man has been created 'male and female' (Gen 1:27). Scripture itself provides the interpretation of this fact: even though man is surrounded by the innumerable creatures of the created world, he realizes that he is alone (cf. Gen 2:20). God intervenes in order to help him escape from this situation of solitude: 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him' (Gen 2:18). The creation of woman is thus marked from the outset by the principle of help: a help which is not one-sided but mutual." (Letter to Women 7)

During the beautiful time of this novena, we have the chance to really meditate on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception: Mary conceived in the womb of St. Anne completely and totally without original sin. God in his abundant grace created her spotless, without blemish. She is for us a "New Eve," showing us what should have been "from the beginning."

One of the ways Mary embodies the New Eve is through this role as "helpmate" bestowed on the first Eve. Indeed, throughout the history of the Church, the title of "help" has been bestowed upon her (Mother of Perpetual Help; Mary, Help of Christians). We go to her and ask for her help because she is our mother. She sees our need and hastens to the throne of God with our prayers. Likewise, she is there with us through out all of our times of need. When we call upon her, she removes the shroud of loneliness. Her very presence as Mother of the Church gives us companionship, for "it is not good that man should be alone." From the very beginning, God included Mary in His plan of salvation to be with us. She walks with us as she walked with her Son Jesus up to Calvary. She visits us in our need as she visited her cousin Elizabeth. She searches for us as she searched for Jesus in the temple.

This Advent, allow Mary to be with you. Allow her to be your help in preparing for her Son. (Reflection by Mary Janeczko)

"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

Immaculate Conception Novena: Reflections from Women

Day Four:

"It is thus my hope, dear sisters, that you will reflect carefully on what it means to speak of the 'genius of wmen,' not only in order to be able to see in this phrase a specific part of God's plan which needs to be accepted and appreciated, but also in order to let this genius be more fully expressed in the life of society as a whole, as well as in the life of the Church" (Letter to Women 10).

For women especially, being "in control," can be a great struggle. Many of us make lists for groceries, activities of the day, class schedules, plans for the future, etc. Some of us even have lists of our lists. We plan, plan, plan and have these ideas of how we want things, which can often leave us dissapointed and maybe even bitter or resentful when things happen differently than we planned. We must learn to "let go and let God"as the phrase goes. Seeing Mary as our model at the Annunciation, she was not anxious and did not fervently relay her plans pleading with God for something else to be her vocation. Instead, she said "Let it be done." Simple, receptive, trusting. She "accepted and appreciated" God's plan for her. She was herself perfectly and gave herself to God perfectly. She did not have the whole story, she didn't know how everything in her life would turn out. She knew one part of God's plan and chose to say yes!

We are not called to fit into some mold outside of ourselves where there is no freedom for personality, but to be purified and become who we truly are. "It is in becoming who we are that we will set the world ablaze" -St.Catherine of Siena. There is a freedom in being yourself no matter who is looking. Let us not be afraid or try to hide or distort our feminity as often is the case in our world today. We can't control how others will receive us, what others think or do. And when we try to do just that, we are not following Mary as our model but Eve. All we can control is what we think, what we say, how we act, how we respond to others and to God.

My challenge is that we work on being the best version of ourselves.
Lord Jesus, we thank you and praise you for what you have given us and how you show us your love for us each day. Please bless us during this novena and especially today as we ask for your Mother's help in becoming who we are meant to be. Lord, how can I live this day live for you? What do you have planned for me? Help me say yes.

"The nation . . . doesn't simply need what we have. It needs who we are." - Edith Stein
(Reflection by Jenna Wilson)

Mary, highest expression of the "feminine genius", Pray for us!