Messages come from everywhere

A few years ago, a friend gave me a little cloth from St. Therese The Little Flower. My friend wore it every day during her bout with cancer, and she shared her heartfelt advice that I do the same and that I also pray the novena to St. Therese.

I do wear the cloth every day, but I don’t often pray the novena, which is a prayer that you say for nine days in a row. It is said that St. Therese will send you a rose to let you know that she heard your prayer. Every time I’ve prayed the novena (except for one), roses have come to me. Sometimes one, sometimes a bunch, and always from the most unlikely places. Even with this wonder, it has been awhile since I prayed the novena.

Early this morning, it occurred to me that I should start a novena to St. Therese today, but then I continued with my regular morning routine. As I was getting dressed, the cloth fluttered to the floor.

I laughed and said to myself, “Okay, it’s been a long time so I guess it would be good to start a novena today. But first, I need to get the kids to school. I’ll do it when I get back.”

When I returned, I remembered my intention to start the novena but instead had something to eat, did a couple small things around the house, and checked my email.

While I was on email, a message arrived from my dental hygienist. I have been seeing her for almost 20 years and while we know a lot about each other’s lives, we never email back and forth. In fact, I think she sent one email to me in that entire time.

I read through her message. She was forwarding a newsletter that she thought I would be interested in. I scanned the newsletter and at the bottom was…the novena to St. Therese.

I had to laugh again, and then got started on that prayer before a 2×4 hit me in the head.

Chemo today, after more answered prayers

Chemo time today, on this election day, and I’m back asking for more prayers! I hope you don’t mind, but they have such a strong and positive impact on my life. Thank you.

Last time around went really smoothly and I am incredibly grateful for that. And I got to have a wonderfully normal week – I was able to take the boys trick or treating on Halloween, we watched both a magic show and Cirque du Soleil, and I went to see Ivan from Medjugorie.

In Medjugorie, Ivan is one of several people to whom the Virgin Mary has appeared, every day, for over 31 years. There is much more to this story, of course, but that is the basic idea. He was in Massachusetts and speaking at a church nearby, which I felt was an answer to my prayers.

My friend Hilary joined me, arriving first. Hilary visited Medjugorie a few years ago, so she has first-hand experience with all this. She also has a strength of will and character that can move mountains. I feel stronger just being in her presence.

I sat down next to Hilary and noticed AnnMarie, my dental hygienist, sitting two pews in front of us. I see her every four months in the dentist office, where we exchange lots of life stories so I knew this was her parish – how fun to actually see her here!

The program began at 6 p.m. with a Rosary service along with the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. At a specific time during all this, Ivan knelt for his vision of the Blessed Virgin and the rest of us were quiet and prayerful.

I wish I could say that I could feel the vibe, but I didn’t really feel anything out of the ordinary, which makes me wonder what else is going on around me that I am not attuned to.

During this time, while Mary was appearing to Ivan and in our presence, we were to pray for whatever we wanted. Though I want healing for me and countless others that I know personally (plus anyone in the whole world who is dealing with difficulties), other wishes kept creeping into my mind and heart. One had to do with the faith of my children. Though I believe that each person can make their own choice with respect to faith and spirituality, I would love for my children to be exposed to all this in order to make the choice.

Like many families we know, my husband and I are of different faiths. Instead of attending Sunday morning Mass with me, my kids prefer to stay at home with him and watch TV. In fact, whether it is Mass, religious ed, or even church dinners, they express a strong preference to opt out. While this is occasionally fine, I noticed that this has become the norm.

Outside the church, prayer is not a regular occurrence in our household. Grace before meals is the exception, not the rule. I personally don’t pray out loud, unless it is something like, “Please help me, God,” which the boys  hear not as a prayer but as a warning that I am about to scream. So, among other things, I prayed for a way to help them to learn to pray and build their spiritual life.

Following this time with Mary, Mass was held and the priest gave a fabulous homily. The packed congregation actually gave a standing ovation, which I’ve never seen before in any church. After Mass, Artie Boyle spoke (father of Brian Boyle, the hockey player), talking of the miracle he experienced as a result of his trip to Medjugorie. And Ivan spoke about his encounters with the Virgin Mary.

Afterwards, there was a Benediction and then we were done.

It was after 10 p.m. and I was tired, but Hilary suggested that I talk with Ivan. We made our way to him, then she hung back to give me more time with him. He really wasn’t so interested in speaking with me, but then picked her out of the crowd and said hello. I assume that he remembered her from Medjugorie; who knows.

Like all of us, I’m sure she has a million things that she could be praying for. But in that moment, she so generously asked him to pray for me. I still can’t get over how huge that was.

He then turned to me, asked what I was dealing with, and said that he would mention me to Mary when he saw her on Sunday night.

On that particular Sunday night, I decided that I would pray at the same time that Ivan would be seeing Mary. So I went to an empty room in our house. Soon after, my six-year-old son entered and asked what I was doing. When I told him, he quietly said, “Can you teach me how to pray, too?”

And so we began. An answer to my prayer, a start to his, and, while I thought that attending that event was the logistical conclusion to answer to a prayer I had over a week ago, I suspect it is actually just the beginning.

Thank you for helping me to get here, for helping me to always have new beginnings and faith that there is always more.



Answered prayers

I love it when prayers are answered!

I have a little morning ritual that involves water from Lourdes and the Hail Mary. (Lourdes is where the Virgin Mary appeared multiple times to St. Bernadette.) Yesterday morning, I was definitely feeling despair. At the end of the Hail Mary, I found myself saying something like, “I really need to feel you near me. It would be nice to know that you are here.”

Fast forward past lots of emotions over the next two hours, when I found myself on a path I never take, standing in front of a physical bulletin board. I stopped and read one of the posts three times before it sunk in: One of the folks in Medjugorje, who sees the Virgin Mary on a regular basis, is in the U.S. and will be speaking only a few miles from my house on Saturday night.

Wow. Okay. She is here. Got it.

Then, today, Hurricane Sandy was passing through Boston so the kids did not have school, though I still had an appointment with my amazing dental hygienist, Annmarie.

I had to bring the boys with me and thought of calling her to ask if she could bring her high school daughter into work to babysit my boys while she worked on my teeth. But I didn’t actually call Annmarie.

When I entered the office, there sat her teenage daughter, who had decided to come into work with her mother today. And, she entertained the boys for an hour.

This gives me the confidence to bring up some bigger requests….

I’m hoping that you can feel your prayers answered, big and small. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf.

Lots of love to you.