Tag Archives: Intercession

Witness

Today I witnessed a true and undeniable miracle. A few blogs back I wrote about my experience while waiting to enter the baths in Lourdes, France. I was on a pilgrimage and was visiting the famous Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is well known for its healing water that visitors can bathe in. I chose to do it the hopes of receiving some of the healing properties the water possesses, but at the last minute I had a change of heart. A coworker of mine has been struggling with several demons centered around addiction. Before entering the baths I was overcome with the need and desire to pray for her and to enter the baths with the hope that the graces I received would be given to her.

When I returned back to New York the actions of my coworker were unchanged, or so I thought. I continued to lift her up in prayer, but sometimes the rawness of her language made me uncomfortable and I was beginning to wonder if she would ever be open to the healing Mary and the Holy Spirit wanted to give her, until today. Work was slow and I found myself with a lot of free time. Suddenly, this coworker asked if I had time to talk. She had never directly asked me to talk before, so of course I said yes. Evidently, she was dealing with a difficult break-up and she wondered if she had been taken advantage of by this guy she was seeing. After hearing the story it was pretty clear that she had, but that was not the end of the conversation. We talked off and on throughout the rest of the day and she opened up about how she wanted to change her life. She was no longer smoking weed nor seeking out one-night stands and meaningless hook-ups. She was being proactive, making the conscious effort to go to the gym everyday, and cutting ties with bad influences. I was completely awe-stricken. There was an obvious transformation within her.

I dared to go a little deeper and learned her mother is Catholic. Unfortunately, she had negative ties with the Catholic faith because of her mother’s influence. I know there are quite a few crosses that she is carrying and there is much healing that needs to be done. I asked if she knew anything about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux; she didn’t. When I came back from France I brought back a keychain of a rose with Saint Thérèse on it and gave it to my coworker in hopes that it might help in the healing I had prayed for while in the baths at Lourdes. I asked her if she still had the keychain and she said she did. I gave her a little overview of who Saint Thérèse was, and why Saint Thérèse might be able to help her in her pursuit of a better life. I saw genuine hope spark in her eyes. It was a spark that I had never seen before, mainly because before she was severely under the influence of marijuana. She had been in the grip of Satan, allowing her addictions to rule over her, but now there was clarity and it was beautiful. Mary had found a way to touch my coworker’s spirit and transform it. I felt so honored to have the privilege of witnessing it. My coworker is proof of the healing power of Our Lady of Lourdes and that our faith and our prayers can inspire miracles in other’s lives. Bring your prayers and intentions to Mary and Jesus and be persistent, for their mercy will not be outdone.

Originally posted at Kitty in the City.
Image: PD-US

Children of God: Lessons on Sainthood from the Parenting Trenches, Part 1

The other night at bedtime, I vowed not to read any stories to anyone who did not clean up their toys.  When they saw that there was no possible appeal of this horrible sentence, my children climbed up in the rocking chair together and read each other a story.  Even though they were conspiring to get around a punishment, my heart couldn’t help but melt.

As I child I never understood why my parents insisted that I love my little brother, but now that I have two children I can understand how precious the love of siblings is to their parents.  When the tiny human beings you love most in the world show love for each other,  your love returns to you multiplied.  That shared love has given me a small insight into the heart of our Heavenly Father:

When God hears our prayers through the mouths of the saints, He hears the voices of two beloved children He created raised in unison, which must bring great joy to His heart.childrenofGod

Before I joined the Church, I didn’t understand why Catholics felt they had to pray to Saints when they could just pray to Jesus.   I began to understand, after speaking to Catholics, that they see themselves as part of “a communion of saints.”  The Christians that have gone before them did not cease taking an active part in the Church after their death.  They are more than just examples of holiness.

Catholics ask these holy men and women for prayers like I would ask my earthly friends, only the Saints have the advantage of being already in heaven, where they can pray constantly and perfectly.

As a parent, I feel that I understand the intercession of the Saints even more clearly, because I see how much I love when my children work together.  Christ tells us that God answers our prayers as a father answers requests from his children.   As a human parent I hardly begrudge my children coming to me together; rather, I am touched when they show love for each other and for me at the same time.  How much more must our Heavenly Father love to hear from His children on Earth through His children already with Him in Heaven?

Our love for the Saints grows out of our love for God and comes from Him.  He is a relational God and created us to live in relationships.  Those relationships, founded in the eternal and infinite love of  God, are not bound by time or place.  Just as that love gives us the Church Militant on Earth so that we may work together to serve God, it gives us heavenly helpers in the form of the Church Triumphant, the Saints.

All these theological terms merely seek to expound upon the fundamental point that the Church is a family, stretching across the ages and the globe. The Saints are not the demi-gods some might take them for, rather they are our brothers and sisters in heaven.  Their mission, besides glorifying God forever, is to help us to join them in our eternal home.  They pray for us, help us, and encourage us to draw near to our heavenly Father, because we, too, are meant to be saints.

What I got my Wife for Father’s Day

joseph baby jesusGreat healing and consolation can come from doing small acts of love.  Father’s Day is a day to honor and celebrate the wonderful father figures in our lives.  It offers us the opportunity to tell Dad we love him, miss him, or thank him for all he has done for us.  Hopefully we also call to mind God our Father who has given us every good gift!

This year, as I celebrated my first Father’s Day, I decided to honor my wife in a small but meaningful way.  Little did I know how quickly grace would be bestowed on me through the intercession of the “Mom and Dad” Saints in Heaven.  I simply got her a card and a banana walnut cake (one of her favorites).  In the card, I let her know that I love her and even though I am far from perfect, she is one of the main reasons I am the father I am.  I also had my 5 month old son sign the card and draw a picture (with a little help from me, of course).  This small gift meant so much to her! But the true gift came later that night at just the right moment.

This past year has been full of adjustments and challenges for my wife and I.  After being displaced from a home after several real estate deals fell apart and living with her parents, we hit the ground running.  In the past nine months, we have been blessed with buying and renovating a house, becoming pregnant, and learning how to be parents.  Now that Noah is born and maternity leave is up, we are faced with childcare costs and splitting time between work and home.  All of this paired with sleepless nights due to teething and the occasional illness has put strain on the relationship of this still new husband and wife.

Needless to say, there have been some serious transitions for us as we begin this new chapter of our lives together, but the one thing that remains constant is the love we share-a love that comes from God our Father.  On the night after Father’s Day, in the midst of a screaming baby and on the verge of losing my patience, I was blessed with one of the greatest consolations of my life.  For some reason I kept praying to those Mom and Dad saints—Mary and Joseph, Joachim and Anne, Monica, and any others I could think of.  I asked for their intercession so that I could not just get through that sleepless night, but to alter my thinking and how I approach my entire life.

As Noah kept crying, I became MORE patient and felt myself loving him more and more.  I felt, in a way, connected to St. Joseph. I thought about how much he must have helped out when Jesus was crying in the middle of the night.  I realized that by loving my son in this way, I am actually loving my wife and taking care of her needs as well.  I am living out my vocation.

Almost two months have passed since Father’s Day and I constantly find myself asking for help from those Mom and Dad Saints.  Not only have I grown spiritually, but the human side of sainthood is truly being illustrated through this practice.  So without trying to sound like I have it all together in the parenting department, allow me to bestow some wisdom on any new moms and dads out there.  You are not in control and never will be, but you are never without help! Dads, give your wife a gift on Father’s Day. Moms, do the same on Mother’s Day.  Love your children by loving each other and love each other by loving your children.  I believe that’s how the saints did it.  Who knows, one day young moms and dads may be asking for your intercession at 3am with a screaming baby in their arms.

 

Mom Can You Ask Dad?

Working with teens, most of my favorite questions deal with Mary. Mary is awesome, and there are a lot of misconceptions about what Catholics do and do not believe regarding her. One of the most common questions is, “Why ask for Mary’s prayers when we can just ask God or Jesus?”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” (969)

First of all, moms are amazing. They are all things to all people. Regardless of the time period they lived in, domestic peace is usually mom centered. Happy Mom equals happy home. We as Catholics know and publicly acknowledge Mary’s awesome motherhood through the Feasts of the Annunciation and Mary Mother of God. But to all the moms who are reading this, how often are you asked by a child, “Can you ask Dad about this for me?”

I am 26 years old and I still do this.

One of a mother’s great gifts is the ability to know their spouse so well they know how to obtain a favorable answer, if they also have a favorable answer to the request. So that as Mary intercedes for us, she is simply asking “Dad”, God the Father, to have a favorable answer for our prayers in accordance with His will.

Mothers also have a great influence over their sons. For example, my husband is 6’2″, his brother is about 6′ and my mother in law is about 5’2″. As teens she would ask her sons, to stand on their knees to hug her more at her height. In honoring his mom, my husband will still do this for her. It’s a loving and endearing sight.

Mary’s motherhood is eternal. She is always in contact with her son and Jesus is an obedient child. We must remember Jesus is part of the Trinity, Mary’s intercession cannot go against the will of God. However as at the wedding feast at Cana, she can encourage his will along.

In the same respect that we do not treat God as a vending machine, we are not to abuse the love that we are given by asking Mary to intercede for items that could potentially harm us. For example if I were to ask Mary’s intercession to pay the bills this month would be fine but asking for her intercession to win the lottery may do me great spiritual harm in the long run.

Lastly, just because we have Mary, our mother and Mother of God, does not mean we treat her as a God. No matter what great jobs our mothers’ do, they are still human. That’s what makes what Mary has done amazing. She is completely human, although by God’s will preserved from sin. She completely trusted in God when faced with the impossibility of conceiving a child while maintaining her virginity. Mary continued to voice her “yes” through every moment, even as her son was dying on the cross.

So in those moments when I don’t know how to address God, I often turn to Mary. As a mother she understands the struggles children face and has the unique gift to decipher what is it I, as a child, need. That being said…  Mom, can you ask Dad about…