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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We Are One Body

Art credit: Jeff Acton

God gave me a special gift of praying for others.

On Saturday I texted my friend Maria to solicit some aid for another friend, Gina,  who is going to Arizona to do ministry work. Maria quickly responded with a positive reply, but ended the text by informing me that a mutual friend of ours needed prayer. I will call him John. John has cancer, an aggressive type of this dreaded disease.


In my heart, John is a member of my family; hearing this news brought me to tears. I met John when I started attending daily Mass. He was the sacristan for the 6:30 a.m. service. I knew that he also had the gift of interceding for others. A few years ago, my heart was aching for a family member and I needed prayer to keep from succumbing to defeat in order to focus on the miracles of God.

Spiritual Brother

When I approached John I was in tears, pleading my petition for his care. In that instance, he became my spiritual brother. He would pray for me and I would pray for his wife who was at that time going through cancer treatment. I prayed for her on a daily basis. John would update me on her condition and if the report was negative, I’d go deeper into prayer. Then COVID hit.


COVID did us all a great disservice.  When our church closed its doors we were left without the Eucharist. This unhealthy mandate from our governor caused me great grief.  I not only lost the freedom to attend daily Mass, I lost contact with all the early 6:30 a.m. Mass attendees, which included John. As I mentioned,  John’s wife was going through cancer treatments; when COVID came because of her compromised health condition they stayed home.

The Word of God states that we are one body; therefore when someone is hurting, we feel their pain. A perfect example is  if I wake up with a sore back, the rest of my body will be affected. My mind, my mood, my thinking will all join in this pain. But if I concentrate on prayer, it will definitely change the circumstances. The pain may still be there, but my mind is redirected. We cannot allow self-pity to take over because this will cause you to become self-absorbed.  I know my friend John is trusting God through this horrific trial.

My Health Trials

In  no way could I ever compare my small trial to what my friend John is going through.  What I will convey is that all of our body parts are like the Church of Christ. If John reads this I want to bring humor to his weary heart.

I love to walk, but I don’t particularly  like walking alone. I need a partner when I hit the pavement, so sometimes my husband Mike joins me on a walk. It is inevitable that as we age our bodies will change. The first indication of my deteriorating body started with the toe on my right foot.

Our 2015 pilgrimage group: Fr. Leonard Mary, Carlos (tour guide) me, Natalie, Cathryn, Jim, Joanne, Robert, Linda and Carol

This health issue reared its ugly head several years ago. So when I finally made an appointment with a podiatrist I was diagnosed with hammer toe. Hammer toe is a sneaky disorder, manifesting itself with unusual symptoms; but when it takes hold, it controls how you  walk. As the worn-out toe compensates for dexterity, it curls up and causes imbalance. Many times I’d trip and sometimes I’d fall. I knew I had to correct this health issue, but I waited until I returned from a pilgrimage.


In 2015 our missionary group planned a trip. This was a special trip, and I was committed because I had already paid for it.  I did not have time to plan a surgery and allow for six weeks of recovery. We were on a pilgrimage to visit holy sites where our Blessed Mother had appeared. First we went to France and then on to Spain. You can read about this journey in the Blog titled: The Marian Journey. I never mentioned my toe because so many more important things were taking place, like my wallet being stolen on the second day of the 14- day pilgrimage.

As much as I enjoyed the trip, my toe reminded me daily of how vulnerable I was. Every night I prayed, anointed my foot with holy oil, and doused it with holy water from Lourdes, but nothing was helping. To make matters worse, instead of going to a shoe store that specializes in comfortable footwear, I did the unthinkable. I purchased the most beautiful, fashionable, blue suede loafers. Those stupid shoes started to hurt me from the moment I put them on.

The French Pharmacist 

With the little time in between our visits, I ran into a pharmacy. Using my hands and pointing to my feet I desperately attempted to explain my toe dilemma. “Ahh, yes, I show you,” said the petite pharmacist. The quick cure was a corn cover and the relief lasted maybe five minutes. So the moral of this story is that my entire body was overwhelmed  by this pain.

We truly are one body. We need each other when we are going through trials because sometimes we are too weak, too tired or have simply given up because of our situation. This is when the rest of the body of Christ comes to petition and to intercede which allows us to rest.  Those who you trust will carry the prayer to the throne of God. I will be doing that for John.


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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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