Staying the Course of Holiness

The first 12 years of my life were spent in Brawley, California. I celebrated the sacrament of First Holy Communion at St. Margaret Mary Church. I remember the special day of my First Holy Communion. I was excited to wear a new dress, but too young to understand the impact and the true meaning of this sacred event. I knew it was a special day because our mother made sure I had everything I needed. White dress, veil and gloves, white shoes…My mother even went the extra mile and purchased a small purse to match. I remember the purse because I got into a lot of trouble for my unladylike behavior. I had never owned a purse before, so I was holding the shoulder straps and swinging the purse between my legs. My mother was mortified and took it from me. “I never saw that purse again!”

Jacob and Fr. Moneypenny, patio of St. Norbert
Two years ago, Lucas at La Purisma

What I took for granted as a child has now become my transcendence. I cannot live without my daily bread. To receive communion is to start my day with a clean slate; nothing can measure up to this feeling of inner peace.

Jacob with Papa and Grandma

Since our daughter Sonja has been furloughed from her job again we have been walking almost every morning for an hour. I shared with her how excited I was to be part of Jacob’s First Holy Communion as a Eucharistic Minister, but one of the priests from our parish will have the special honor of dispensing his Holy Communion.  Lucas, Sonja’s older son, experienced this sacrament two years ago. In Lucas’ case the world was normal and everything was well orchestrated. The children made banners with their names and hung them at the entrance of the pews. All was well rehearsed, with each child flanked by both parents as they walked in. It was held in the church with hundreds of guests.

Our little family

Jake’s will be different, as he will be wearing a mask the entire time. The service will be held outdoors, and we have no idea who else will be participating in this blessed event. We, as a family, will be there to support him; but sadly, due to Covid -19, his paternal grandmother Nancy and her husband Steve cannot attend.  As the world has fallen off  its axis, we all have to make the great adjustments.

Sacrament of First Holy Communion

The sacrament of First Holy Communion is not only sacred; it’s an intermediary between God and you. When you’ve come to the understanding of Holy Communion, you’ve reached a new realm of being purged of your trespasses. How is it that many Catholics do not acknowledge the holiness of receiving communion? I can only express that every part of my body is stimulated when receiving the holy bread. It starts with my heart and moves to the inner parts of my soul. As I ingest the Host, I am being cleansed. My mind is the last to receive the holy message of healing. For example, if I’ve had a disagreement with my husband before leaving for daily Mass, by the time I get home all the heaviness has lifted. When you experience this freedom, there is nothing that the world can throw at you that you cannot handle because of the grace you’ve received. This is the original homeopathic medicine from heaven. It’s a natural healing of physical and especially emotional pain.

Emotional Pain

We’ve been hit hard with not only COVID-19 but also with social unrest. People are suffering from high levels of stress because they have lost their jobs. Some have lost their businesses, others their homes. Life is uncertain, and each day is still a mystery. This evil virus has held us captive for almost six months, so I am tired of sacrificing my daily routine. But I also realize that this is valid. People are dying, and all we can do is hold on to the hope that God will see us through this. The media does a wonderful job of making sure that the masses remain in the mindset of fear. The more fear you put on people, the less control they will have over their situations. I choose not to fall into the lies and sensationalism of the  half-truths the world offers; instead I place all of my trust in God. I receive this supernatural strength by receiving Holy Communion on a regular basis.

Firearms

Did you know that gun sales have risen? Sales of firearms have exceeded nearly 80% because of all this turmoil.  The FBI reported that in May there were over 3 million background checks. The defunding of the police sounded an alarm, so people are arming themselves. I guess gun control will be put on the back burner this election because no one wants to be told what to do when it comes to defending their loved ones. Chaos on the streets and the virus looming in the air have caused uneasiness, but the answer has always been to turn to God.

Turn to God

Our grandchildren have a rocky future because we don’t know when they are going back to school and what the long-term effects of this will be on their psyche. God is cleaning up the schools from all the propaganda that is being introduced to students. Our universities need a total shakedown too, because they have cultivated a systemic culture of hate. The Devil is working overtime, deploying his minions by causing the Black Lives Matter platform to introduce more controversial changes in public schools. These plans are design to destroy everything that stands for God. This is just one example of their principles:

Principle #1 : All Black Lives Matter.

Queer Black lives, Trans Black lives, formerly incarcerated Black lives, differently-abled Black lives, Black women’s lives, immigrant black lives, Black elderly and children’s lives. ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER and are creators of this space. We throw no one under the bus. We rise together.

Black Lives Matter has also introduced a curriculum for public schools:  a “kid-friendly” version of their 13 guiding principles. These ambiguities are seasoned with Marxism, so we need to protect our children against these indoctrinations.  With all my heart I believe the pain that many Black people have endured. I will do my part with respect to the healing that needs to take place, but I will never go against the laws of God.

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, you see all the conflicts that our children and grandchildren have before them. Guide us as  parents and grandparents to become great examples of standing up for You. Allow us to move and to say what needs to be said without fear. Equip us to confront the Goliaths of the world, the handful of billionaires pulling the strings of anarchy to destroy Your Kingdom. Heavenly Father, give our children an opportunity to live normal lives again. Amen.

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Father Leonard Mary Answers Ten Questions

About three years ago I wrote about  Father Leonard Mary’s Calling. This essay gave impetus for the growth of this Blog. Father Leonard is a dear friend of mine; even though we live in opposite time zones, we have always managed to keep in touch. I have had the special blessing of discussing perplexing matters of my life with him and  have received great counsel from a holy spiritual director. I asked Father Leonard if I could write a new story about his ever-evolving life. He happily agreed. I asked Father ten questions, so this is an informal interview with a very busy priest who humbly took the time to answer these questions.

1. Which Bible verse best inspires you?

After a few minutes of healthy laughter Father answered the question. That verse would be 1 Corinthians 2:2:

1 Corinthians 2:2

2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

FaceTime interview

2. When did you first hear God’s calling?

I’ve had a deep respect for the clergy  and what they represented and stood for. I was part of a youth group where I felt a spark drawing me closer to the Lord. The youth group’s leader must have noticed something, and told me that I should consider going to seminary. But I was too young and believed that God wanted me to experience more of life. 

3. Who is your favorite saint?

St. Francis of Assisi. I learned about him right before my Confirmation. My father shared some of his stories, so I continued to learn more about him. What impressed me the most is that St. Francis wanted to live radically for Jesus and literally to be like Him. I was 16 years old and I took his name for my Confirmation.

4. What is the importance of Adoration?

Adoration brings you into the presence of God. Jesus is with you, you are in His Holy presence. This is the taste of heaven: we sit at His feet, put our heads on His Heart like St. John the Beloved, and allow Him to love us. I started attending Adoration while I was in high school.

Celebrating Mass In Nevers, France

5.  As a priest have you been misunderstood?

Yes, more so in the first and second years as a priest. Becoming a priest involves you becoming a new person.  I’m a big guy, and I felt awkward in the liturgies and at the altar with my hand motions and gestures, kinda like a bull in a china shop.  I had trouble speaking Latin, and as much as I studied before Mass I didn’t feel comfortable.  Singing was also very difficult. I never felt comfortable with my singing voice as well.  All this made me nervous.  You need to find your expertise, and when I realized mine, that’s when I experienced calm and God just wanted me to do my best, and to do everything with love. All falls into place with love.  God looks at the heart, not at the appearance. 

6. What direction do you see the Church going?

The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. It’s the Bride of Christ, always giving glory to God. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it; it will never be destroyed.  Its members are sinners in need of God’s grace.  There will always be trials and scandals amongst its peoples.  We can’t let that discourage us, and must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, receiving Him in the sacraments and praying without ceasing.  

7. Do you think it’s a good idea to use the pulpit to express truth in current events of our society?

Yes, you must bring up issues of today. These are troubling and trying times.  We need to address how to live in these current circumstances, and the people need to be reassured that they are loved by God. We need to tell them that He is with them and hears their prayers.  

8. Does the Church have bad Shepherds?

There have always been unfaithful clergy, wolves in sheep’s clothing, throughout the history of the Church.  It started with the disciple Judas.  The authority given to clergy from Christ is all about service. Jesus said, “I came not to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:28)

 

                                                                                                                   Father Leonard dispensing First Holy Communion, Bro. Leo assisting

9. Our grandson Jacob is making his First Holy Communion in August. Do you have any advice for him?

Through receiving the Holy Eucharist Jacob will encounter Jesus Christ.  As he consumes His Body and Blood, he’ll be nourished by Jesus’ loving presence.  This is the food we always long for. This is the most important food of all.

10. What are your job’s responsibilities?

I serve by helping the sacramental needs of EWTN by celebrating Masses and hearing confessions. I am the Communications Director for my community, the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word.  I am the Director of Formation for the temporary professed friars, who are preparing for lifelong, perpetual vows. I am in charge of procuring supplies, going to Sam’s Club and Costco on a regular basis. I am the confessor to the Sister Servants of the Eternal Word.

Father Leonard Mary has a Master’s of Divinity and in May he received his Master’s of Communication and Management from the University of Southern California. He has also learned Spanish well enough to celebrate Mass in Spanish. Though he is greatly accomplished, one of his greatest gifts is humility. We were both under the teaching of a Catholic lay person, Joanne Petronella, who taught with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Her classes were rich with prophetic teaching. She was stern because she understood what God had in store for us. God blessed a young man, born and raised in East Los Angeles, to become a servant of the most high God. Because EWTN is the largest global Catholic television network, Father Leonard’s homilies can be heard by millions of Catholics all over the world. 

I was humbled with the responses from Father Leonard. I will never leave my Catholic roots, but I had questions and doubts about certain situations within our Church. Now that I have a more gentle attitude about our leaders, my new approach will be to pray and ask for God’s holy intervention.

The reason Father Leonard laughed at the first question was because there are so many Scriptures that inspire him, including this one:

John 13:34-35

“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, we lift up Father Leonard Mary and the community of EWTN. Continue to allow them to spread Your Holy Word throughout the world. Lord, protect this organization and keep it pure. Bring in all the lost souls, those who are angry, those who curse You, those who want to destroy Your Church. We intercede on their behalf. Bring peace to our world. We pray for all parish priests and ask that You give them discernment to guide their flock to the foot of  Your Holy Cross. Amen.

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Where The Boys Are

J.W. Oakley School: I’m the only girl in the last row. I had crushes on three of the boys in the front row.  Johnny, my Junior High crush is in the second row, plaid shirt, behind the boy in all white
My help mate

Daily Mass has been my saving grace during these nonsensical times. I cannot get past the madness, and, to make matters worse, I found myself in a state of anger. We all have our coping mechanisms and mine is currently out of whack. I keep reminding myself that God is in control, and He will see us through. As the world continues revolving into more chaos, I turn to Scripture to keep me sane.

So instead of a story with political undertones, I have decided to re-share a story about my younger years, hoping that it will bring a smile to some of you.

For as long as I can remember, I always had a crush on a boy. My mother was a single mom and during our teens she kept us in check; we were taught the fear of God and to remain virgins until marriage.

My first encounter of confused love came as a crush I had on my six grade teacher. He was tall, dark and handsome. He was married with a pregnant wife, but my feelings for him did not change.  During music class , when accompanied himself on his ukulele, that I knew he was the one. As a class we sang “My Gum Tree Canoe,”  but I imagined that he was just singing to me. “Singing row away, row over the waters blue. Like a feather we float, in my gum tree canoe.” This was the most romantic song I had ever heard, but in a couple of weeks I got over him and fell in love with Ruben.

Ruben Hater’s Club

Ruben was my six- grade crush. In our innocence we just stared at each other; our eye contact was the profession of true love as we knew it. Ruben was going to be in the school talent show, playing the part of Ringo Starr, the Beatles’ drummer. For some reason I did not attend the show, so the following day I was no longer Ruben’s girl. He had moved on to Jeanine, who was a beauty. My heart was broken, so I formed a club: “The Ruben Hater’s Club.” I was president and my best friend, Nanci, was vice-president.  We climbed a neighborhood tree and Nanci and I met to discuss our lives and Ruben’s, but within a few weeks the club dissolved. I moved on to other, cuter boys who appreciated my long stares.

Johnny and John

In Junior High Johnny was my secret crush. I told one of my friends how I felt, but  she betrayed me; during recess she ran up to Johnny and told him about my crush. I was mortified, but he told her to tell me that he liked me too. Johnny and I just flirted, and that worked out fine for us. Our family had a telephone, but because it was a party line,  you could hear other neighbors’ conversations: Therefore we never called each other. We had two phones at our home but if you were on one line, another person could carefully pick up the other phone and hear your conversation. Our brothers were notorious for humiliating us like this.

Our mother wanted us to have a better life, so she decided to move us out of Brawley. We moved to be closer to relatives in Fresno. I left my summer boyfriend in Brawley. His name was John, and he promised to write to me. He had this plan, that he called “The Five-Year Plan.” After five years we would meet again and marry. John was committed to this plan and wrote to me on a regular basis. I had a problem with John because in his letters he called it a “Five-Year Plane.” There was also the fact that after reaching the end of the line on the paper, he placed a period.  It didn’t matter if he had written a complete sentence or not. So his letters had periods all along one side of the page. I could no longer continue the long-distance relationship with this over-zealous period guy.

Ninth grade in Fresno was still Junior High, but I loved it because, once again we were the big kids on campus. Another Ruben came into my life, but he really wanted to take me on chaperoned dates. My mother would not hear of this, so I just stopped asking. Ruben and I ran for Spring King and Queen; I won but Ruben did not. Mike, a white, popular, roly-poly boy was crowned Spring King. It was a no brainer for the king and queen to become a couple. Ruben did not take this graciously, so I was his first heartbreak.

My cougar days

Things did not go as expected in Fresno so, once again, our mother moved us, this time to Colton. This was my first high school experience. My sister Jo and I were the new girls no one knew. I  made friends quickly but I didn’t date until my junior year. A friend of mine had a younger brother, I started dating but, he was a freshman. This was scandalous!  Now I was considered a cougar. I went to one dance with him but later we broke up. I dated other boys but did not really like them either.

High School

My senior year I had a boyfriend I did not like at all but I could not find it in my heart to break up with him. My mother did not approve of him either. She once told me, “If you marry him, your kids are going to look like monkeys.” Our mom never held her tongue when it came to who we were dating. I broke up with this guy after the worse prom date. On the day of the prom  he kept driving past our house with his tux hanging from the back seat of his car. It was embarrassing enough for me, but my brothers were relentless in their teasing. He took me to Newport Beach for dinner, but by that time I would have preferred to be anywhere else but there. At a table near us was an older gentleman, in his thirties who sent me a note by the waiter. The note read, “If you smile, I will pay for your dinner.” I was flattered and gave the man a sincere smile. The stranger kept his word and paid for our dinner. On the way home I broke up with my date; I was so upset that I sat in the back seat. All of my high school relationships were pure because I could hear my mother’s strong voice in the back of my head, still influencing me.

College Jalopy Guy

When I was in college I dated but I was never really serious about anyone. I remember this nightmare guy who pursued me until I agreed to go on one date with him. I was getting flowers  anonymously and I thought they were from him (they were not). On the day of our date this guy drove in something that resembled a car. He had spent most of the day hand painting this jalopy. As I got into the vehicle there was a huge opening under my feet and I could see the road and the axel rotating. I was scared for my life! Needless to say, this was our one and only date.

Mike

God was always with me and He had a big plan for my life. I thank Him that in all my past experiences with boys, I have no shameful regrets. I broke hearts and my heart has been wounded, but God had set me  aside for my husband Mike. I was a child bride at nineteen.

 Search through the book of the Lord and read:
    not one of these shall be lacking,
For the mouth of the Lord has ordered it,
    and his spirit gathers them there.

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