Transfiguration Birthday

14 I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
    wonderful are your works!
    My very self you know.

The Feast of Transfiguration of the Lord is celebrated on August 6th, the day of my birth. You would think that I would have figured this transfiguration thing out by now, right? This is the year of my transfiguration, and finally, after 68 years of living, I’m getting the physical aspect in sync.

For the first few weeks of the pandemic I stayed in bed until late morning. It wasn’t until the third week that I realized that this lockdown was not going away anytime soon, so I started to work out more than usual. Exercise has always  been a part of my life but it was never done with any consistency. I worked out three or four days a week, but I never saw any noticeable physical metamorphosis.

The Wake Up Call

For over 30 years I have prayed about losing weight. God knows my heart and my lifelong struggle to lose weight. I enjoy eating; to me it is like a sweet symphony and snacking is the crescendo.  In late April I added another thirty minutes to my workout, and  surprisingly it came with ease. By the time the end of May arrived, my waistline was down by an inch and a half. July brought even better results, another inch off my waistline. My clothes were finally fitting, and I felt comfortable in my skin. Adding another half-hour to the normal hour routine has taken more discipline but  I’ve accomplished that too. Though I’ve only lost 7 pounds  my body is healthier, and I feel confident that the pounds will finally start falling off.



Nick, me and Jo

Three Ballerinas 

I’ve made a lot of foolish weight-loss choices, but I will never forget the one about the tea. About 10 years ago  I was on a Southwest Airline flight headed to New Orleans to visit my sister Jo. Mike was not traveling with me, so I sat in the window seat. A southern gentleman took the aisle seat. An announcement was made that the flight was full and the remaining passengers were asked  to take middle seats. An attractive Filipino woman took the middle seat next to me. This woman was about my age, yet she looked fabulous. I wondered whether it was genetics, or was she on to something special to keep her figure on track. The southern gentleman introduced himself to us, but I was really directing my attention to this Filipino woman. He asked if we wanted a cocktail. I promise, on a normal basis, I would never take up this offer; but I wanted to ask this stranger how she remained so slim. We all had our drinks and toasted to a safe flight. Then I started. I cut right to the chase and blurted out, “How do you stay so slim?” She gave out a cute giggle and said, “I drink tea on a regular basis.” “Tea? Tea?” I asked. Her reply was “Yes.” Well, now that the pandora’s box was open, I needed more information. I dug through my huge handbag to pull out a pen to write down the name of this miracle tea. “What is the name of the tea?” I asked. “Oh, you can only get this tea at an Asian market.”  I was getting impatient and wanted to say, “Just give me the NAME of the tea already!”  “It’s called Three Ballerinas,” she answered. I took a deep breath and could not wait to get off the plane to start my new habit of tea drinking. As the plane landed, I made the Sign of the Cross and thanked God for traveling mercies. I said good-bye to my traveling companions and almost ran to greet my sister. I was on a mission after all. My sister gave me her usual bear hug, and as we were walking to her car, I could not stop talking about the Three Ballerinas tea. My sweet sister said, “I know where there is an Asian market. “Let’s stop and pick up the tea.” I thought to myself, “Could this trip have a better start?” Sure enough, there with all the other strangely named teas were the boxes of Three Ballerinas. “How many are you going to buy?” my sister asked. “Oh, I’m going to start with four boxes, just in case I can’t find it at home (online buying was non existent). We were so happy to have our miracle tea, so as soon as we arrived at Jo’s, we started our tea drinking. My nephew Nick, who was staying with Jo at the time, wanted to try the tea as well. The trip was a short three-day weekend for me, and my sister had something planned for each day. All I wanted was to lose weight fast. We had the tea with our dinner and then again for breakfast.

The Tea From Hell 

Thank God my sister’s home was equipped with three bathrooms!  We had to stay put for the entire day because the darn tea was wreaking havoc in our bowels. We were all doubled over with stomach cramps, but that didn’t matter because we had the tea with our take out lunch as well. We were all stuck at home, afraid to travel because of the side effects of the tea. From that day forward I never drank hot tea again because it scares me. The Filipino lady is an experienced tea drinker, but we abused our bodies with this product because we wanted instant results.


I was either listening to  EWTN or Relevant Radio, when I heard an advertisement about a product that reduces inflammation. With all the added exercise, my knees started to give me a heartache; so I sent away for a 12-day trial of Sweetamine. Much to my surprise the product started showing results on the fourth day. I was still a little skeptical and waited to use up the 12-day supply before diving in and ordering a full box. Sweetamine has helped me maintain my workout regimen without pain. This product has saved me from excruciating back pain as well. My husband Mike always works out for an hour a day. When his knee was giving out, I started him on Sweetamine. In one day he was back on the treadmill without pain. I am not advertising for this company nor am I getting paid for endorsing this product (I wish I were), but it really works.

Happy In My Skin

It may be that I didn’t get in line in time for the slim gene pool, but it no longer matters. God made me who I am, and He loves me as I am. We don’t need teas, laxatives, diet pills or books to tell us what we already know. God gave us feet to walk, arms to embrace and a mouth to praise Him. I am 68 years old now and I’m still being transformed both spiritually and physically.

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, I thank You for my health and the ability to exercise. I pray for all women who suffer from low self-esteem because of their appearance. Lord, teach us to love our inner beauty, so it will illuminate from the inside. Dear Jesus, let us understand Your unconditional love, so that we can love ourselves as we should. Amen.

Proverbs 19:8    New American Bible (Revised Edition)

Sonja, me, Selena standing Sarah, Marianela, and Helen (Bible study group)
My family

  8   Those who gain sense truly love themselves;
         those who preserve understanding will find success.


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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.


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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