Our Lady Of The Pillar

Francisco Goya c. 1769 Our Lady of the Pillar

On the Fourth Station of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa Jesus Meets His Mother.


Ramon Bayeu c. 1780 Our Lady of the Pillar

Jesus Meets His Mother

At the Third Station of the Cross Jesus falls for the first time. A few steps from there Jesus meets his mother. Our beautiful Blessed Mother Mary is with her Son every step of the way. This was the beginning of His agony. For this reason our Lord knew that He could draw strength from His Mother. The Bible does not tell us what words of encouragement Mary spoke to her Son. But we know that her words gave Jesus enough strength to endure until the end of His Crucifixion.

For many years I played the part of Mary on the Via Dolorosa. Our team reenacted the Passion of Christ in Jerusalem for over 30 years. I have absolutely no training in acting, but when it came to this role I felt our Blessed Mother Mary’s pain. My tears were real.  As I reach to touch Jesus’ face to tell Him how much I love Him, my heart was truly breaking.

The Mother’s Role

As long as your children are alive, you will always be their mother.  My children are grown and have families of their own; however, when they are experiencing any pain, emotional or physical, we go through the pain with them. My role has changed into being their silent support. Not a day passes without me lifting them  up in prayer. When they are going through a difficult trial my prayers for them are fervent. These motherly instincts are innate because we mothers have the best role model in the Virgin Mary,

Mary, The Mother of God

I find it disingenuous that some people outside of the Catholic faith  have yet to come to and understanding of Mary’s true role. Because  she is the Mother of God, much credence should be given her.  Consider Jesus’ opinion of His Blessed Mother; would He not take care of her? Would it offend Him if people spoke ill of her? Jesus loved, respected and protected His Mother. We should follow His example. The Virgin Mary is the mother to the world. She has appeared to many troubled nations to guide and instruct them and to forewarn them of coming chastisements. I will speak of the first apparition.

The Great Commission

With the authority of the Resurrected Christ the First Commission was sent forth.

In 2015 our missionary group visited  Zaragoza, Spain. This is the first known apparition of the Blessed Mother.  At the Great Commission, the 12 disciples dispersed to preach the Gospel to the world. Saint James the Great’s journeys took him to the Iberian Peninsula, which is modern day Spain/Portugal. In 40 AD the Holy Spirit led Saint James to Spain. But before his great commission he met with Mary, the Mother of God,  for a special blessing for his journey.

Saint James was discouraged because the pagans were not responding to his message, so as he sat at the edge of the Ebro River he prayed for the intercession of Mary. This is the same outspoken James that Jesus referred to as one of the “sons of thunder.” This clearly  is an indication that at times we all need encouragement.

Answered Prayer

Saint James heard a choir of angels and, looking to the sky, he saw a bright light. With angels surrounding the Blessed Mother, she appeared to him to offer encouragement.  In Her gentle voice She told Saint James not to worry, because the people to whom he preached would be converted. Mary appeared to Saint James atop a pillar of jasper carried by angels. Our holy Mother Mary handed Saint James a small wooden statue of herself holding the Christ Child. The date was October 12 in the year 40 AD, and  the Blessed Mother asked that a church be built on that spot in her honor. In Mary’s words:

“This place is to be my house and the image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build…and the people of this land will honor greatly my Son Jesus.”

We must take into account that this first apparition of the Virgin took place while she was still  alive and living in Jerusalem. The Virgin’s bilocation to Zaragoza, Spain was meant to encourage Saint James on his mission. The Virgin also told Saint James to return to Jerusalem.  In 44 AD Saint James was the first apostle to be martyred by King Herod Agrippa. His body was brought back to Spain for burial in Compostela, Spain.

Our Lady of the Pillar

This beautiful basilica  is located on the edge of the Ebro River. This is the first church dedicated to Mary. This pillar was carried down by angels. It is still standing and scientists have yet to find the identical material made of this granite. Equally important the pillar plunges into the earth with no end. Coupled with the fact that this heavenly material never gets dusty, in the 2000 years of its existence it has never needed dusting!

Spanish Civil War

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)  Our Lady of the Pillar was bombed. Visitors can see the damage in the ceiling of the basilica but the bombs never detonated. Instead the deactivated  bombs are on display in the church.


The Pillar and the Statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child are both venerated. Like most pilgrims, we were able to touch the small statue that our Blessed Mother Mary gave to St. James.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, fill us with the same fire You gave Saint James to preach. May You season our words with love, and may we look to Your heavenly light. Lord, send Your beautiful Mother Mary to our aid when we are discouraged. Amen.

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A Lesson On Lent

After serving communion, I wanted to secure a good spot for confession.

It was not surprising that the line for confession was really long. I counted five people ahead me and prayed that the Lord would remove any thoughts of impatience. Then It happened, “If every person takes five minutes to confess their sins, it’s going to take 25 minutes. Surely the sweet couple with a sleeping baby in the stroller could not have that many sins. Then the most selfish idea came into my crazed thoughts: I’m only going to take a minute, could I go before you?” After that last horrible thought, I pulled out my rosary and started to pray. As I eased into the prayers, all those thoughts were subsided.

My Confession

Before confessing our sins, we Catholics say a prayer which starts like this: “Bless me Father for I have sinned. My last confession was…(stating how long it has been since your last confession).”  But when I was in the confessional I said, “My last confession was two days ago.” The priest replied “Oh two days?” I normally can go five weeks before confessing. But it was Lent and something that I had said about another person was weighing heavily on my heart. I want to have a great Lent, so confessing this transgression freed me of guilt.

Hallow App

I also downloaded the Hallow App on my phone. I joined the challenge, and what a difference it has made in my Lenten journey! Listening to Mark Wahlberg, Jonathan Roumie and Father Mike’s teachings are so beneficial during this holy season.


Mike, Jacob, me and Will
Jacob, me and Will

Two Lent Birthdays 

Our grandson Will and our daughter Sonja both have birthdays during Lent. So on Ash Wednesday we had lunch with Will. He is the sweetest 17-year-old young man and what a joy it is spending  time  with  him.

Lucas, Jacob, Sonja, Mike, Russ and me
Mary, Robert, Sonja, Russ, Lucas, Mike, Jacob, me, George, and Gina

We took a short weekend trip to the desert to celebrate Sonja’s birthday. It was so relaxing. Spending this special time with Sonja, Russ and the boys was a special treat. To add to this special weekend, we met my brother George, his wife Mary, their grown children, Gina and Robert, for Sunday brunch.


My Synopsis On Lent 

The Number 40

Ash Wednesday is 40 days before the Resurrection of Christ; actually that is if you do not count Sundays in between the weeks of Lent. We are called to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and on the Fridays during Lent. The number 40 represents trials, testing and preparing.

40 Days for Noah: Noah and his family endured 40 days of torrential rain in the ark during the flood; they survived because they put their trust in God.

40 Days for Moses: Moses fasted for 40 days twice on Mount Sinai. As Moses was getting instructions from God for the Israelites, they became impatient and had Aaron build a golden calf. Moses interceded  on behalf of his people by questioning God (Ex 32:11). He knew that among his people were those with little or no faith. The great prophet Moses also knew that he had to make atonement for his people. (Ex 32:30-32).

The Lord was with Moses during this time of trial, and he found favor with God.

Why Ashes?
The ashes that are placed on our foreheads in the sign of the Cross are from the burnt branches from last year’s Palm Sunday. Ashes represent a time of mourning and repentance; this representation is found in many of the Books of the Old Testament (Esther 4:1-3; Dan 9:3; Job 42:6).
In most parishes flowers are not permitted during Lent because it is a solemn time in remembrance of the suffering, death and Resurrection of Jesus. But on Easter Sunday there will be an explosion of flowers; the beautiful scent of the flowers will reach the doors of the entrance, shouting, “Hallelujah” with the greatest fragrance! He is Risen!
No Alleluias
Alleluia comes from the Hebrew word meaning “praise Yahweh.” This is a praise  song that is not used during Lent. As Catholics, we focus on the Kingdom coming, not on the Kingdom come. The readings during Lent spotlight the spiritual journey of the Old Testament Israel coming to Christ and the salvation of mankind.
40 Days of Lent
We all suffer the same sins as the Israelites; we lose faith and go our own direction. They went as far as building a false idol. We are different from them because they were in the presence of God and still did not obey. We as Christians strive to be in the presence of God by obeying His Word. The Israelites had the advantage because God was in their midst, but they lost their faith and placed their trust in man. With the God of thunder and lightning, they allowed fear to dictate their path. We must always trust God to make a way for us in every circumstance; as He was with Moses so is He with us. This Lent, make it a special one and set aside all your petty grievances and come clean before God.
My Prayer
Dear Lord, I pray for our country during this holy time of Lent. Our country is in a time of mourning with all the violence, and disrespect for life. Lord, have mercy on Your people. I, like Moses, intercede on behalf of all politicians, that they would seek and find You. Lord, remove all those in office who are against Your Kingdom. We pray for the release of all the hostages held in captivity by Hamas. Lord, take out Putin once and for all! Help the people of Ukraine and restore their faith. Dear Lord, shed your light on all who wage wars and bring peace to the nations. Amen.




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The Corporal Acts of Mercy

Abraham and me with the students


The Navarro Family

As a catechist part of my service is to volunteer with my students helping with the Christian Food Distribution. St. Norbert has a regular group of volunteers who lovingly pack the food for those in need. We have all experienced the high cost of food, and our church program does a great service by extending a helping hand. This work is orchestrated by the beautiful, petite Michelle Navarro. Her husband, Paul, two of their four children and two of Paul’s sisters were there to help as well. Twice I have had the honor in helping with this ministry. Michelle’s kind and quiet demeanor brings joy to the laborers. She is an angel sent from heaven with wings sprinkled in gold. For this reason people return to help with this outreach.



Upon my arrival I was sent to the bean and rice station. These sage women have been doing this for years. They joyfully  pack and wrap the beans and rice. For these older woman, it was a social gathering with friends with fringe benefits of helping others. It was a pleasure to work with them.

I dare not ask their ages, but it was apparent that several were in their 80’s.

92 year-0ld Zenaida Arcos, credit Carlos Aviles/Diocese of Orange

A recent article in the Orange County Catholic featured a story about our oldest volunteer, Zenailda Arcos. She is 92-years-old! This is proof that volunteering keeps us young!

Training The Youth

Part of this service is training the catechumens to serve. Isiah 58:6-7 speaks of the corporal acts of kindness. For these students to give up a Saturday morning from 9:oo to 12 noon is a clear indication that they are willing to sacrifice their time for the needs of others.

When the rest of the young volunteers arrived. Like well-trained soldiers, they knew what to do.  In quick succession over 200 grocery bags were filled with food. The next station was the produce and, depending on what was donated,  a family could receive a pretty sizable bag of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sorting vegetable
Packing the fruits and vegetables
The assembly line

God Will Provide

We have all experienced the high cost of food. For instance our last visit to McDonald’s cost us over $34 for just two meals. It was as if I’d purchased the meals at the airport! Grocery shopping has become an unpleasant weekly fight for savings. I am always looking for the best deals; if my favorite brand is not on sale, I purchase the generic label. Some way, somehow, God will provide for all of our needs.

The Students

It takes a good heart to volunteer, and I was so filled with joy that most of my students were available. not one of them complained and because they were so busy their phones quietly snoozed during the labor. There were students from Villa Park, Servite, Rosary, Mater Dei, Troy, Canyon, and Santa Margarita High Schools. We also had several students from St. Norbert. Together they completed part of God’s great family of servants.


Abraham and Michelle


Abraham is  our youth minister and coordinator for Confirmation. He has not only a calling to serve the youth but is inspired by the Holy Spirit to bring special blessings to them. I marvel at his natural way of speaking to the students because he uses the Word of God in a practical way of reaching out. His words are seasoned with wisdom and love.  I personally have seen his growth in this program. We need people like him to tug at the hearts of these beautiful souls. None of our students will leave without knowing how much God loves them and how very important they are to the future of mankind. These students will make a difference in this crazy world.

Thank you, Abraham, for planting a seed with your short teaching on the Corporal Acts of Mercy.


Handing out the meals

My Role

Above all I will pray for my students to fully understand the teachings of Christ. We have covered many lessons throughout the last two years, and I have grown fond of their unique personalities and the way they interact with one another. Moreover, the maturity they have developed in understanding deep things of God that will see them through life.

They have touched my spirit and I see a glimpse through the windows of their eyes, filled with the yearning to draw closer to God.

Sometimes it’s difficult to hear God speaking with the distractions of the world. But one day these students’  calling will remain steadfast.


What a beautiful manner to usher in Lent. Though at times I feel inadequate during this holy season, I am so overjoyed that it started with helping the Christian Food Distribution at St. Norbert. To think that our parish provides this service every weekend is amazing!

Corporal Acts Of Mercy

With Lent at our doorstep, I want to re-examine the definition of Corporal Acts of Mercy.

Matthew 25:34-37   New American Bible (Revised Edition)

34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

In lay terms:

The Corporal Works of Mercy

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Welcome the stranger
  • Heal the sick
  • Visit the imprisoned
  • Bury the dead

My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for teaching us how to express our love to others. I pray for all those who continually volunteer by helping with the Christian Food Distribution. Lord, I pray for all the students who helped with this ministry. May they walk away with hearts filled with joy after helping those in need. Jesus, continue to guide them and use them in all of their giftings.
I lift up Michelle and Paul Navarro’s family, and all volunteers who work tirelessly to make this program a great success.
Lord, help us to serve in several of these Corporal Acts of Mercy, especially during Lent. Amen.
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