Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oh swell. . .

There were pictures and now there are none. Maybe they'll appear again. Or not.
If anyone knows how to get them to appear again, lemme know. This happened before and didn't think it would again. It was major frustration then, too. I can't imagine having to post these on some other place just to get them to post here. Is it Blogger or Picasa? They all appeared relatively fast yesterday and then only some are gone by nightfall? What's up? Why are SOME still on here and the last ones posted are all of a sudden be gone? Not a warning do we get, just "poof" they're gone. Any help or answers would be greatly appreciated.

I guess I'll just wait it out and keep hitting refresh and hope for the best.

My "grumbling mouth" needs to start rejoicing in the midst of this frustration because it's not that horrible...just stinking annoying.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Just for Tiber Jumper. . .

When we crossed the mighty Tiber so many times,I had to get these two for TJ. All roads and rivers lead to Rome!

And Papa came to the window Sunday. . .

The crowd grew and grew and the eletricity in the air became more vivid and then I saw the banner drop and then he appeared...our Papa B for the Regina Celli. This was with my little NIKON, but it served me well. Wait until I post the one from the Wednesday Audience! I was very happy with the little camera but need to learn more about it as I forgot I could speak into it and record exactly where we were and when. That would have come in handy, but I'm thinking I'll be going back to Roma sometime with a couple of friends from Pro Sanctity Movement.... that will be stay at the headquarters 10 minutes from the Vatican! I'm going to pray hard for that to happen! : )

Peter and the Keys and our lovely Mother shining in the sun. . .


Where true heroes lay . . .

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The Dome of Home shining like a jewel against the blue Italian sky. . .and I cried

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It was a very moving time Saturday, walking with Scott Hahn along the winding barricades to enter St Peter's was such a gift! What a loving God I have! What a loving Father we all have! Kris and I were walking ahead of him, and I couldn't help but stop and cry for a brief moment, remembering my time there in 1973 with my parents. I knew mom was praying for me and could feel her presence and Kris gave me a hug. When we finally walked through those unbelievable huge doors, into our HOME, the history so thick in the air truly did drip from the walls. To think that now, finally, I was part of the 'story.' I'd been woven into the tapestry of this glorious Church, with all the Saints! I wasn't a "separated sister" any longer. God, in his grace has directed my path all these 52 years to this moment, to gaze on this Dome, to see the Saints lined up as a protective defense against the enemy was simply overwhelming. I was on the most holy of ground, above the bones of our first Pope!!

Around on the side as we were going to view the tombs of all our Popes, this fountain greeted us and yes, people can "drink the water" in Rome...and I'd not be surprised if this water has been blessed to give drink to the thirsty from all walks of life and all nations. Come to the River of Life...the font of Mercy and drink. That's what went through my head. Yes, we got to see the tomb of our beloved Papa JPII! I wanted so much to linger, but with 10,000 a day walking through,the guards have to keep the crowd moving. Understandable, but what was wonderful was that we got to go through twice. Once Saturday and then Sunday with our guide, Paula, who led us through the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. So I got to see where this precious soul has been laid to rest, and believe me, I know his prayers are going up for us all to the Throne of God! I even got a few pictures, (not allowed) but I got them anyway....not knowing the first time, of course. No photo polizia came after me, though. : )

More pictures will come and I hope to get a link to our slideshow on here, too. There are over 800 pictures and I know many of you won't have the time to view them all at once, but maybe there will be something that speaks to you as you sift through them. The wonder of our Blessed Mother, depicted in paintings and statues, and sculptures throughout the Eternal City was so comforting! She was truly everywhere, in the most obscure of places on the corners of buildings, in niches behind a street sign to see Our Lady's image was just a feeling I can't describe. If only here in America we could do this. If only the PC madness wasn't full tilt. How I'd love to see our Mother around the next corner in downtown Omaha, with her arms outstretched to the lonely, the lost and the hurting. To lead them to the next Catholic Church for healing, to lead them to Her SON to be fed true food and true drink that will last! If only the thin-skinned and thick of head in this country weren' they only were the tolerant folks they pride themselves to be. But here, I'm afraid someone would be offended by the "religious image" taking up their "space." How sad for this country and for the souls so ignorant.

Jesus, Mary we love you, Save souls!


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Return of the pilgrim. . .Buongiorno!

Hallelujah! I'm no longer a "spam blogger" as was the warning I got Sunday when I tried to post. Thanks, for believing me and finding me not a spammer.

Now for an update on our pilgrimage.

Of course, the beginning was stifled somewhat with a canceled flight. So we arrived in Rome on Friday instead of Ascension Thursday and never made it to St Paul outside the Walls. Oh yes, due to the confusion, our baggage never arrived in Rome with us and was later detected by Scott Hahn...NOT Continental. We know Continental didn't care one whit about our bags, but since Scott was also late in arriving, held up in Pittsburgh over night, (also Mike Aquilina & son) he spied our luggage with the blue tags off to the side. He recognized the tag and Kris's name and since mine was there, too, he grabbed them both and that's who we owe our devotion to for finding our stuff.

I hugged Scott Sat. morning and said, "You're my hero!" He said, "Well, you'd better find a better hero." And we had a laugh. I had EVERYTHING in my checked bag, so I'm grateful to him forever! I did have my items to be blessed with me and my carry-on backpack, so that was the most important matter, however, I'm very glad I didn't have to go shopping for clothes etc. in Rome!

The time there was phenomenal! The presence of the Saints, that cloud of witnesses was just so amazingly real and loomed so large to be walking where they walked and stepping onto such holy ground! There were many times we were overcome with emotion, and the highs and lows were intense.

I'll never travel as anything other than a pilgrim now. To be a tourist is unthinkable to me at this point. I'll never travel just to "see things" and say that "I've been there." The friendships forged on this journey during this pilgrimage and the Eucharistic bond is something that will remain in us and with us forever. We are now "brothers and sisters" in a whole new way, a deep and incredible way. To meet other so on fire for the Faith and Holy Mother Church, to have that intimate love for Mary in our hearts, as we "Beheld Our Mother" we'll forever cherish. It was all so overwhelming and powerful.

The most of those overwhelming and powerful moments was when Papa drove by us about 15-20 feet away and I ended up with the best picture of him of our group! Scott told me it could be a "TIME magazine" photo! Mike also thought it was great. I broke down when I scrolled through my camera and found it, because he was moving in the pope mobile and I was shaking like a leaf. It's amazing and such grace to catch him.

We're working on getting a slide show together so I hope to post a link to that. I'd like to put it to music, too, but don't know how that could ever be done. I took over 1000 pictures! I have about 800+ on the show. I'll post some stills as soon as I can. It's a long process.

Rome was "frenetically peaceful" and "peacefully frenetic." It was grueling and being on our feet on cobblestones was sometimes very painful for me, with my "hobbit feet." Dang it if I didn't have the feet of Frodo! They had swollen on the jet, I guess, from sitting so long, (I was in the middle on the way there) and of course not being able to change into my tennies I was tromping all over Rome all day Friday in flip-flops which let me just say is "Lethal" for feet! I had thought we could land, get to the Hotel and change. We could have had our luggage arrived with us.

But as my husband said, "Pilgrimages aren't about comfort." He's right and I knew it, but I wasn't prepared for the literal pain at times. I was assured by a doctor in the group that it wasn't heart or kidney problems, but I really don't know how she could tell by just touching my ankels. Or as I called them "Cankles" as the calf and ankle were all one. Then, telling my son how I'd lived with swollen ankles for 9 days, he proceeded to call them "Swankles" which I concur has a better ring than cankles. Kind of swanky?

Anyway, TODAY, they are finally down to normal, so for that I am grateful.

I won't babble on too long right now, but I will be journaling here as I can't write by hand much at all anymore. I think fast and need to type and my handwriting is horrid. I tried to journal there, but each night I was too exhausted mentally, physically and drained in many ways to sit and write. I had to get my feet WAY UP and try to find some semi-comfortable way to sleep. It was all worth it when my eyes saw Papa B afar off and I watched him get closer and closer! Let me tell you, that was the most powerful of all moments for this former non-Catholic, to see our Holy Father with Catholic/sacramental eyes! Knowing the lineage of this communion of saints from ancient days up to us "saints-in-the-making" was just breathtaking.

More later folks.

I'll see if I can post a few pics now.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

a little levity. . .

A sailor was driven off course by a tropical storm, and smashed into a
small island. The next morning, he awoke on the beach. The sand and sky
were reddish. Walking around in a daze, the sailor saw red birds, reddish
grass, red trees and reddish bananas. The most shocking thing of all- his
skin was reddish, too!

"Oh, noooooo!" he wailed "I'm marooned!"

Well, I'll be leaving on a jet plane soon. Pray that all flights today will in fact, fly.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Flight Cancelled...???! Wha????


Yep, our pilgrimage flight out of Omaha to Newark was cancelled and we only found out at 2:00...due to fly out at 4:25 so a couple of hours were spent on the phone with the travel agency/touring and Continental Airlines.

BUT, as Our Lady would have it, and not "luck"...we managed to gain an extension so Kris and I will be staying in Rome another 2 days! Can't complain about that!

So we fly out of here tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. to Houston, then to Newark then to Rome. As we also found out, Scott and Kimberly and Mike were stranded in Pittsburgh and they might not get into Newark tonight either. Wouldn't that be the bees knees if we got to all fly on the same flight to ROME??? : )

Thanks for your prayers now for a pilgrimage to commence tomorrow w/out too much difficulty. As my dear husband said today, "Well, Susie, you know pilgrimages aren't supposed to be comfortable." And he's right. I was flying so high already all day on adrenaline and then to plummet to the depths was hard, but, I kept praying and hearing a soft voice say, "All is well" "Don't fear, it will be alright" and I prayed many Hail Mary's on the way to the airport to meet Kris. We were so happy to get the extension for some time for just the two of us to travel about the city on our own... it'll be a blast! Our own Andy Roza, deacon now, who will soon be ordained in Omaha in June to the priesthood, has been in Rome at the North American College and we'll be seeing him and hanging out with some seminarians, which should be delightful! I love our priests and priests-to-be! Pray for them and for all those discerning God's call and direction for the priesthood and or religious life. They need our love and encouragement so much!

Folks, the stories are just now beginning. I'm sure there'll be many, many more. I kept saying to Kris, "We're going to be ADVENTURES IN ODDITIES (playing on the Evangelical favorite kids radio program, Adventures In Odessy. It seems I was somewhat prophetic, but she wants me to stop being prophetic now. : )

God bless you all. We'll be praying for you and please listen next Monday on line to KVSS Spirit Morning Show where we'll be live on the air from Rome. Or keep checking KVSS website to get details for as we know they can all change at the drop of a hat or a gelato.

We shall Behold Our Mother a little later there than we'd planned but it's fine...God has a plan for us that now involves going to Houston first and a whole new flight. All is well. All is indeed ...well, with my soul and with this pilgrimage.

Arriverderci Bloggers!

Monday, May 14, 2007

We pray for the persecuted Church today. What a family of martyrs we are blessed to honor...our big brothers and sisters in the Faith pray for us!

St. Nereus, Achilleus and Domitilla
It was under the persecution of Domitian, during which John the Evangelist was condemned to be burned alive in the cauldron of boiling oil, that Flavia Domitilla was honored with banishment and death for the sake of our Redeemer, whom she had chosen for her Spouse. She was of the imperial family, being a niece of Flavius Clemens, who adorned the consular dignity by martyrdom. She was one of the Christians belonging to the court of the Emperor Domitian, who show us how rapidly the religion of the poor and humble made its way to the highest classes of Roman life. A few years previous to this, St Paul sent to the Christians of Philippi the greetings of the Christians of Nero's palace. There is still extant, not far from Rome, on the Ardeatine Way, the magnificent subterranean cemetery which Flavia Domitilla ordered to be dug on her praedium, and in which were buried the two martyrs, Nereus and Achilleus, whom the Church honors today together with the noble virgin who owes her crown to them. Nereus and Achilleus were in Domitilla's service. Hearing them one day speaking of the merit of virginity, she there and then bade farewell to all worldly pleasures, and aspired to the honor of being the Spouse of Christ. She received the veil of consecrated virgins from the hands of Pope St Clement: Nereus and Achilleus had been baptized by St Peter himself.

The bodies of these three Saints reposed, for several centuries, in the Basilica, called the Fasciola, on the Appian Way; and we have a Homily which St Gregory the Great preached in this Church on their feast. The holy Pontiff dwelt on the vanity of the earth's goods; he encouraged his audience to despise them by the example of the three martyrs whose relics lay under the very altar around which they were that day assembled. "These Saints," said he, "before whose tomb we are now standing, trampled with contempt of soul on the world and its flowers. Life was then long, health was uninterrupted, riches were abundant, parents were blessed with many children; and yet, though the world was so flourishing in itself, it had long been a withered thing in their hearts."

Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Symbols: Two posts and lions; fire; two swords.

Things to Do:

* Even though Nereus and Achilleus died for Christ about 1800 years ago, Christians are still suffering and dying for their faith in this century. Offer a prayer for the persecuted Church and for the modern martyrs.

* These two Roman soldiers threw away their "shields, their armour, and their blood-stained javelins" and gave their lives for Christ. Examine how much you are willing to sacrifice for the love of Christ and offer up a small sacrifice today.

St. Pancras
Pancratius was the descendant of a noble Phrygian family. As a youth of fourteen, he came to Rome while Diocletian and Maximian were in power (about 304). He was baptized by the Pope and given instructions in the Christian religion. Arrested for his action, he steadfastly refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods and was condemned to death. With manly courage, he bared his neck for the sword and received the martyr's crown. During the night his body was removed by the pious matron Octavilla, anointed with sweet smelling balsam and interred on the Via Aurelia.

Pancratius is the patron saint of fidelity to oaths. The basilica that Pope Symmachus erected over his remains about the year 500 later became a station church (since 1798 his relics have been lost). On the first Sunday after Easter the saint exhorted the catechumens gathered at his station church to remain loyal to their baptismal vows. The saint warns us to proceed slowly and prudently before taking an oath or vow. But once our word is given we must remain true to our pledge, true unto death itself, whether it concerns baptismal vows, ordination vows, profession vows, or marriage vows.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Symbols: Sword and stone; armour; Saracen crown under his feet.

Patron: Against false witness; against perjury; children; cramps; headaches; fidelity to oaths; treaties.

Things to Do:

* Make sure that you have at least one crucifix in your home as a reminder of the great mystery of salvation.

* Renew your baptismal and vocational vows today, recalling their importance and grace in your life.

Happy to die for the Faith....may that be said of all of us....

FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2006

Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers of the Praetorian Guard (the emperor’s bodyguards) who were martyred at the end of the first century, and were said to have been baptized by St. Peter himself. When they became Christians they gave up their posts which they saw as immoral and were exiled and then killed under the reign of the emperor Trajan.

An epitaph written by Pope Damasus says the following: "Nereus and Achilleus the martyrs joined the army and carried out the cruel orders of the tyrant, obeying his will continually out of fear. Then came a miracle of faith. They suddenly gave up their savagery, they were converted, they fled the camp of their evil leader, throwing away their shields, armor, and bloody spears. Professing the faith of Christ, they are happy to witness to its triumph. From these words of Damasus understand what great deeds can be brought about by Christ's glory."

St. Pancras, or Pancratius, was a Syrian boy of pagan origin who went to Rome and was converted to Christianity. He was beheaded in 304 at the age of 14 during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. He is buried on the Via Aurelia in Rome and the church of St. Pancratius, which still stands today, was built on his grave in the fourth century.

Saints Nereus, Achilleus and Pancras have been honored together on May 12 since the fourth century.

Let the Truth be Told. . .

Pope Pius XII

Liberation Theology. . .

Sao Paulo, May 9, 2007 / 01:15 pm (CNA).- In his talk with journalist aboard the plane taking him to Brazil, Pope Benedict told the reporters that “ the Liberation Theology was a sort of “Millenarism” that would find no justification in todays Latin America, especially before the great social concern the Church manifests today.

He further explained that “ the mission of the Church is a religious one, However It is open to solutions to the great social problems,” he added.

“There is always space for a legitimate debate on how to create the conditions for Man's liberation and how to make effective the doctrine of the Church on giving Man the human and social conditions, through which values can grow.”

Nevertheless, the Pope made clear that today, “ the situation has greatly changed from when the Liberation Theology started.” “It's obvious that the light promises that made believe that through revolution, the conditions for a fulfilled life could be reached, were false. Everybody is aware of that now, and the question now is how does the Church can still be present in the struggle for justice. On this point, theologians and sociologists diverge,” he added.

The Holy Father explained that before being Pope, as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, “we tried to free ourselves from false millenarism and politization. Millenarism is a heresy that believes in the imminence of the end of the World and the coming of a reign of peace and justice.”

During his May 9 flight to Brazil the Pope also spoke about Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was an outspoken voice for social change before he was gunned down by a right-wing "death squad" during a Mass at his cathedral in San Salvador. Commenting on a new book about the slain archbishop, the Pope said that the death of Archbishop Romero should not be seen simply as a political figure.

"He was killed during the consecration of the Eucharist," the Pope observed. "Therefore, his death is testimony of the faith.”

Everybody matters to God. Audrey pray for us to show His love to 'the least of these'. . .

ABC News
Is Audrey Santo a Saint?
Icons Said to Weep Oil at Audrey Santo's Bedside

May 10, 2007 —

At Audrey Santo's funeral on April 18, mourners filled the cavernous St. Paul's Cathedral in Worcester, Mass.

Not one but two bishops attended the service befitting of royalty. Hundreds -- many, complete strangers -- filed past her casket.

"To a very large percentage of people in this society and around the world, a person like Audrey doesn't count," said the Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy from the dais.

But somehow Audrey Santo did count. What drew these mourners and millions around the world to the life of a bedridden 23-year-old?

"20/20" first reported on Audrey nine years ago, when 10,000 people piled into a stadium to pray and to mark the anniversary of the day that Audrey almost lost her life in her family's backyard pool.

Because she nearly drowned at the age of 3, Audrey was trapped in a comalike state. For two decades, she never spoke a word and never walked, but people believed she was a messenger of God who had the power to heal the sick and inspire the hopeless. Many believed she whispered in God's ear, asking for miracles.

The story of her supposed powers drew throngs from around the world, and her family's modest home became a mecca, where mysterious things were said to have happened. Statues moved, pictures bled and icons inexplicably wept oil.

"We are not really here to prove it. We're here to tell you that it's happening and it's in our house," said Linda Santo, Audrey's mother. Linda says she never expected the pilgrims or the prayers, never asked for her daughter's room to become a holy shrine.

"People talk about people like Audrey and they say, 'Well, they're in a vegetative state,'" her mother said. "My question is: What vegetable do they take on? Are they a turnip? Are they an eggplant? What are they? They're human beings. God has put a soul and a mind and everything in them. How can you say they're vegetables?"

A Test of Faith

On Aug. 9, 1987, Linda realized that all her children were with her except one.

"I looked around and I looked at them and I said, 'My kids are here. Where's my baby?' We all kind of rushed to a side door, and 36 feet beyond that, Audrey was floating face down in the pool," she said.

At the hospital, while her family held a bedside vigil, Audrey slipped into a coma. Soon after, doctors suggested that Linda place her child in an institution.

"They came in and asked me where I was going to place her, just like that. I said, 'I'm going to place her in my arms. & We're going home.' They said, 'No, you can't. She'll be dead in two weeks,'" Linda said.

Linda brought Audrey home and turned her bedroom into an intensive-care unit. To complicate matters, Linda's husband left her and their four children, not once, but twice. "I didn't have time to be hurt," she said. "I just needed to do what I had to do."

"I prayed all the time. & I was constantly praying," said the devout Catholic.

Years later, with no warning and no logic, Linda says oil suddenly coated a religious portrait in their living room. "It was really weeping," she said. Linda picked up the phone and called the Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, a priest who, highly skeptical, came to the house.

"Indeed, there was oil dripping out of that Lady of Guadalupe picture," McCarthy said. "I took it apart. I looked at it. There was no glass on the front. It was just canvas on both sides, in and out. And I just could not, could not see anything that was fraudulent. It was just a picture."

The Gift of Hope

That was in 1993, and Linda says that from that point forward, the oil spread uncontrollably. She says it eventually flowed from dozens of icons all over the house; so much that they had to attach cups to collect it. Even today, the chapel that was once the family garage is coated with oil stains on the walls, in chalices and on paintings.

One picture, Linda says, even wept blood. "That's scary. It's in your home. You know that if it's truly from God, if it's truly mystical, there's a world of responsibility that goes with that," she said.

For years these unexplained phenomena drew a constant stream of visitors to what they believed was an extraordinary spiritual event. Down a hall from the garage-turned-chapel is Audrey's bedroom, and at one time a window was cut into her wall to allow those seeking spiritual and physical healing to pray in front of her.

"They pray for her intercession to God to heal them," Linda said.

No one left with an immediate cure -- there is no hard evidence that Audrey healed anyone -- but those who visited were given hope and free packets of the oil, carefully collected on cotton balls. A video of Audrey is still for sale and over the years Linda said the family had collected a sizable sum in donations that was used for Audrey's care.

There is also no evidence that this was -- or is -- a get-rich scheme. The Santo home is simple, modest and unassumingly tucked into a middle-income Worcester neighborhood. Away from the crowds, the Santos lived a surprisingly ordinary lifestyle in the midst of their very unusual mission. Audrey was treated like any other member of the family. The Santos spoke to her constantly, and for years, they even carried her from her bed to the dining room for Sunday dinners. There were three shifts of nurses caring for her and machines to keep her alive, all largely paid for by insurance.

A 'Victim Soul'

In spite of this meticulous care, over the years Audrey developed mysterious symptoms, like an unusual rash, the kind a patient on chemotherapy might get. "And then it just disappeared," Linda said.

Linda says that almost simultaneously they received calls from cancer patients for whom Audrey had prayed, saying their cancer had gone away. There's no proof of any this, but the Santos and others believe Audrey is what Catholics call a "victim soul," someone who takes on the suffering of others.

"It's either she's a fake, the greatest one that I have ever met, or she is a genuine victim soul," the Rev. George Joyce told "20/20" in 1998.

In 1996, Joyce, while celebrating Mass in the Santos' chapel, says that the wafer or host, which is used during Communion, suddenly and mysteriously developed blood stains.

Ultimately five bleeding hosts would appear in the Santos' home and that would add to the lore that in turn attracted priests from around the world to Audrey's bedside. They believe the hosts contained the actual blood of Christ and put them on display carrying them through the kitchen to worshippers in the backyard.

All the attention eventually caught the eye of the church and the bishop who formed a commission to investigate. "We found nothing. No source of the oil," Robert Ciotone, a commission member, said in 1998.

Accepting the Ambiguity

John Madonna, the commission's chairman, said, "We did our examination behind the pictures and under the statues and so forth and found that there was no way that these objects were being fed the oil."

The commissioners, made up of laymen and clergy, spent a night in the house and were astonished when a religious icon they brought oozed oil. Asked whether he had ever seen anything like this in his life, Madonna said, "No, I can't say that I have."

"We tried to keep an open mind," said Ciotone. "We thought we had no explanation for it. We had to live with the ambiguity, which is difficult -- the ambiguity of saying we don't know."

The commission's study was conducted with the full cooperation of the Santo family. Its preliminary findings found "no obvious evidence of chicanery," but added that "the presence of oil is not proof, direct or indirect, of the miraculous." It also concluded that "there is no evidence that the family has sought financial gain for themselves."

"If this is a hoax," McCarthy said, "it is a spiritual disaster from which everyone, if that were proven, would have to disassociate themselves instantly because it would be evil."

While the church moved slowly to continue its investigation, no fraud was ever proven. But to McCarthy none of this has ever been about the paranormal.

"What we can immediately see in front of us is a mother, loving, unbegrudgingly, without cease, her child in a situation that is almost impossible to love," he said.

"This is a very, very serious form of love Linda is executing here. If the statues are of God, then, in my judgment, they are pointing to Linda and what she has done over all these years in terms of just goodness and love that she has given to that child who, in the eyes of the world, is really junk, should have been gone a long time ago, and yet the person gives up their whole life for her. That's love."

'Bittersweet Departure'

For 20 years, until Audrey drew her last breath, Linda held her daughter in her arms and in her heart. Finally, on April 14 of this year, with the entire family at her side, Audrey died at the age of 23.

"It was very sad," Linda said. "It was a bittersweet departure." She says that now Audrey is in heaven, healed and probably running around, but that she left behind "a great hole."

Today, sympathy cards adorn Audrey's empty room. The bed where Linda kissed her daughter's feet daily is empty. The nurses are gone, the halls are quiet and the roar of medical equipment has turned silent.

"I miss her tremendously," she said. "Not just on a spiritual level, and worldly level, but she's my daughter. There's always an emptiness, always a loss. Something that no one or anything in your life can fill. But I know Audrey's healed. I know she's in heaven. I know that. I absolutely know that. So I can't worry about her. I worry about what, as a family, what we're suffering here."

"It wasn't a burden," Linda said. "The greatest gift you can have is to take care of another human being. And if it's your child, and you love them the way you should, then that's easy. No burden."

While some might look at Linda as a saint, she points to her daughter as the real saint. She believes that one day the church will canonize Audrey. "That was obviously God's plan, right?" she said.

At Audrey's funeral, prayers and music filled the cathedral. But perhaps the most touching tribute came from Diane McNutt, one of Audrey's caregivers for four years.

"I am grateful to God for the gift he gave me to be able to care for her. What a treasure," McNutt said before hundreds of mourners. "She has changed my life forever. We will all miss holding you, wiping your tears and just being there for you. It was an honor to be a part of your life, Audrey."

As Audrey's casket, draped in a red cross, passed Linda, she kissed her daughter goodbye.

"If we truly believe we are made in the image and likeness of God," she said later, "what greater honor is there than living and taking care of each other?"

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

Let us pray for Brazil. . . Our Lady of Hope, Pray for us!

Day Two: Hopelessness, not Pentecostalism, as Brazil's mega-trend in religion
Posted on May 10, 2007 12:54pm CST.
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São Paulo, Brazil

Although much conversation surrounding Benedict XVI’s trip to Brazil has focused on defections from the Catholic church to Pentecostalism, one expert on Brazil’s religious situation says the more important, albeit less discussed, phenomenon is the striking rise in the percentage of Brazilians with no religious faith at all.

Fr. Jose Oscar Beozzo, who directs the Center for Evangelizing Services and Popular Education in São Paulo, told NCR May 10 that between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of the Brazilian population that identifies itself as “Protestant,” with most of that number being Pentecostal, rose from 12 to 17 percent. Over the same period, Beozzo said, the percentage who say they have no religious affiliation went from 0.7 percent to 7.3 percent, a ten-fold increase. Those numbers, he said, come from Brazil’s state-run Institute of Geography and Statistics.

“This is the infinitely more important movement in the Brazilian religious situation,” Beozzo said.

The decline in religious affiliation is unevenly distributed across Brazil, he said. In rural areas, relatively small percentages have abandoned religion, while the total rises in urban zones such as Rio de Janiero, where Beozzo said it’s 15 percent.

What’s especially noteworthy about this phenomenon, which Beozzo said is still growing, is that it’s not really a sign of “secularization” in the classic Western sense, though he said one can find elements of secularization on university campuses and in more middle- and upper-class segments of urban society in Brazil.

For the first time, he said, increasing numbers of Brazilian poor are simply saying that they no longer have any faith.

Beozzo said there have been three waves of growth in religious non-affiliation in Brazil’s history. The first, he said, came at the end of the 19th century among the liberal and intellectual classes. The second came in the first half of the 20th century, with the rise of anarchism and Communism among the working classes. Today’s wave, he said, is the first time that non-affiliation has become a “mass phenomenon.”

Beozzo attributes the progressive abandonment of religion among the country’s poor to the intersection of two factors. First is Brazil’s economic development over the last thirty years, which has created new affluence at the top of the economic ladder but left millions of people behind. Over 10 million jobs have been lost, he said, in the last 25 years, fueling a “dramatic increase in desperation.”

The second factor, he said, is the rapid urbanization of Brazilian society, which has created new urban peripheries where the traditional social networks of family, community and church have broken down.

“I talk to these people,” Beozzo said. “What they tell me is that they do not believe that religion has any meaning for them. They don’t believe it has any capacity to change their lives.”

In that sense, Beozzo said, the rise of religious non-affiliation among the Brazilian poor can be read as an index of hopelessness. It’s not so much a specific lack of faith in God or the church, he said, as a collapse of faith in virtually everything.

Beozzo said the rise of Pentecostalism, which he insisted is relatively modest, is connected to the same two factors. The Catholic church, he said, is generally “not present” in the new urban peripheries, which has created a religious vacuum. Some Brazilian poor have responded by embracing Pentecostalism, while a growing percentage have turned their back on religion altogether.

Beozzo said he was not optimistic that in the short run, Benedict’s pastoral visit would do much to reverse these trends.

“I’m a historian,” he said. “Religious phenomena develop over a long arc of time. Isolated events, even the most important, generally have only a small impact. They can’t really change the underlying social fabric.”

If change is going to come, he said, it must be the result of long-term, grassroots efforts which “unfold in the lives of the people.”

Towards that end, Beozzo said that it’s important for the church to realize that “clerical” solutions, meaning relying primarily on clergy to carry forward the church’s pastoral efforts, are, in his view, doomed to failure.

“We have only 18,000 priests for something like 140 million Catholics,” Beozzo said. “Meanwhile, the Assemblies of God have eight and one-half million faithful in Brazil, and over 52,000 pastors.”

In light of those discrepancies, Beozzo said, the only option is for the church to fully embrace the laity as protagonists of the church’s various ministries. In some sense, he said, this is already reality; 80 percent of Sunday celebrations in Brazil, he said, are currently led by laity due to the absence of priests.

On the other hand, he said, sometimes church authorities, especially in Rome, are sometimes slow to embrace this more lay-led pastoral model. He cited the case of a set of directives for popular liturgical celebrations developed by the Brazilian bishops, and intended for use by various grassroots groups in the church – above all, the thousands of “base communities” throughout the country. When the directory was reviewed in the Vatican by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, he said, they ordered its use suspended.

“It’s still officially suspended,” Beozzo said, “but in reality it’s widely used. When the people show up on Sunday, many times it’s a choice between this or nothing. Our future is as a lay-led church.”

“That’s not by choice,” Beozzo said. “It’s simply the church we’ve got.”

We are all consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary...

May 14 - Feast of Our Lady of Bavaria (Germany, 1330)

One Hand Pulled the Trigger, Another Guided the Bullet

Two hundred Poles had brought an image of Our Lady of Czestochowa with them from Poland, and they had set it on the ground in front of the Pope’s chair while they prayed for him with all their might.

The operation lasted five hours and twenty minutes. The pope’s condition was considered very serious. His tension was extremely low. Bishop Dziwisz gave him extreme unction. “But hope gradually returned during the operation. At the beginning, we were all very nervous. Then we realized little by little that no vital organ had been touched, and that the pope could survive”. The pope had lost the three quarters of his blood, and a blood transfusion could transmit a virus to him. He remained in reanimation for a long time, but five days after the attack, adopting a Polish proverb, he declared, “One hand pulled the trigger, another guided the bullet.”

He asked the bishop of Fatima who was in Rome to come to speak to him in the hospital about the Virgin’s message and as the bells rang the Angelus the following Sunday, in a message recorded in the pope’s hospital room, he entrusted humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. One year later, on May 13, 1982, he went to give thanks to the Virgin in Fatima and one of the bullets was inserted in the crown of the statue of the Virgin. Finally, on March 25, 1984, he consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with all the bishops of the world, as requested by the Virgin. Russia was freed without bloodshed from Communism right afterwards.

In Fatima on May 13, 2000, at the time of the beatification of the two little Portuguese shepherds from Fatima, Jacinta and Francisco, he revealed the contents of the “third secret” of Fatima, concerning the sufferings of the Church and “the bishop dressed in white”, struck by the “blasts of a fire arm” - indicating that he believed the message alludes to the attempt on is life of May 13, 1981.

Again, in the presence of the original statue of the Virgin of Fatima on October 8, 2000, at the time of the Bishops’ Jubilee, the Pope proclaimed at Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican the “Act of Entrustment” to Mary, during which he entrusted the Third Millennium to the protection of the Mother of Christ.

According to the testimony of Bishop Stanislas Dziwisz,
told by André Frossard in “Do not Be Afraid. Conversations with John Paul II”
(N'ayez pas peur. Dialogue avec Jean-Paul II), Robert Laffont, Paris, 1982

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death.

A Moment With Mary

Immaculate Heart Works

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ave Maria -

Perry Como - what a smooth voice to sing to Our Lady,

What a tender and loving MOTHER we all have! How blessed and grateful I am to be back where she reigns as Queen of Hearts, Queen of Heaven and Queen of converts, for she was the one drawing us home to Rome...and I will Behold my Mother in 3 days on St Peter's square, I will greet her and thank her above the bones of our first Pope, Peter. I will walk with her and ask her intercession for us all in Assisi, near St. Clare! I'm getting a little excited, can you tell?

This might be the final post for a while, unless I get on here again before I go. Which I might, but if not, go in peace to LOVE and SERVE the LORD with gladness.

Bless you all and know that you'll be in my prayers.


In Honor of Our Lady, our Mother Mary. . .

This Mother's Day, enjoy a virtual visit to Our Lady of the Rockies. Please read to see how ALL different denominations, people of many faiths were respectful and came together to place her, Our Mother, at this site on the Continental Divide. What a incredible, awesome feat! How wonderful that many who aren't even Catholic now call her "Blessed."


Friday, May 11, 2007

Mary Month of May. . .

At the Holy Family Shrine we're having a May Crowning tomorrow. If anyone is in Omaha area, who may read this, please come out for Mass at 10:00 a.m. and stay for refreshments and a volunteers pot-luck. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings and Our Lady's presence. As one family of pilgrims visiting us Sunday night at our RECON meeting said: "Mary is 'very strong' here." "This is so like Medjugore." Hope to see you there. I'll be posting a picture taken by our caretaker's mother last Fall of the Mary statue in the grotto between the Chapel and the visitor center. You'll be amazed as we all were, for the apparent ''halo'' didn't appear on any of her other photographs that were developed.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

How Can You Say No To This Man - Julie Miller -

Time is running out...Don't say "No" to this MAN...

Julie Miller - Broken Things

This is one of my favorite songs. I wish it was the entire song, but Julie sings "my heart out" and I'm glad we got to see her live in Fresno back in 1990. Maybe someday they'll have the complete song to post.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Astonished yet???

Please take a moment to read Dr. Jeff Mirus's latest: Eucharistic Astonishment. It is profoundly wonderful and will melt your heart.


Oh Susanna....oh won't you pray for me,


You can be sure I'll be going to see my own "Namesake Saint's Church" St. Susanna! I hear there are only 4 saints of Susan or Susanna....I'm working on making it 5! And I pray this pilgrimage will help me draw ever close to our Blessed Mother and that her prayers and intercession for me will keep me keeping on the path to holiness and sainthood!

St. Susanna, pray for me, your little kid sis in Omaha, Nebraska who has such a longing to grow in faith, hope and LOVE...most of all LOVE. St. Clare, St. Mary Mags and St. Therese, of the Child Jesus, pray for me, too, and for my family, my husband, our dear sons and daughter that they will be protected from the enemy and his snares and temptations. Thank you! Amen.

Oh Susanna oh won't you pray for me
I'll be coming to Rome to visit you
and to pray on bended knee

Sunday, May 06, 2007

MEGA Materialism or Mega Worship?

Joel Osteen's latest book titled: "Become a Better You...7 keys to improving your life" is predicted to sell 3 million copies. "Gee Wally, that sure is a whole lotta books, huh?" "Yeah it is, ya little creep. Now get away from the mirror, I've gotta date and I need to comb my hair." "Gee Wally, you don't gotta get sore!" "Ahhhh go get washed up for dinner, ya goofy kid."

Most books like this seem to be the "self-help" genre, with the gaze inward, not outward. Whereas the lives of the Saints are so much more compelling and rich and offer more help to me than when the focus is on "me." They're more keenly aware of 'the greater good' and longed to learn how to be Christ to others, not just 'improve their lives.' The "7 keys" in "my book" would be the 7 Sacraments. Those gifts teach us to be "outward thinking," to see beyond ourselves and make a positive difference in the world for heaven. They're given by Christ to make me better for OTHERS. I later read a couple articles on 'mega churches,' and a Charlie Brown quote came to mind: "Arrrrrghhh!"

The keys were given to Peter. How comforting there's a place where the 'buck stops' and happily we aren't floating adrift on a sea of "mega-church madness" anymore. We went to one in Omaha for 13 years and attended one in Dallas in 2003. I see so much consumerism in this whole mega church phenomena, it's almost nauseating. It's hard enough to have to live in this materialistic and profit-laden age, with 'unbridled consumerism' attacking and assaulting our senses, our religion and our faith. The blessed quiet of a sanctuary on a Sunday is what I crave now. Sometimes uplifting gregorian chant or some of the more subdued hymns, and a pipe organ at this time of my life. I don't want videos on a "JUMBO TRON" a 15 piece band blasting away choruses that would give my dear Grandmother a heart attack...and me, too, now. Seems I've become old and stodgy. "Gee,I'm like the Catholic Church!" Old, stodgy and traditional! : ) But yet I'm filled with more LIFE than I ever dreamed, as the Bread of Heaven and the Blood of our Saviour is given to me at Mass. That's more than enough for me!

Some seem to want to worship God "their way." The "have it your way" American flocks scurrying off to "Burger King of Kings Worship services." Having been one of those sheep, I know the drill and now shudder to remember it. It seems most of these places tend to "feed egos" more than souls. It saddens me that the only way some can draw a gathering is to be "hip" and "with it" using the latest technology to razzle and dazzle more sheep than the next "corral" down the road. Reverence is a word no longer spoken or heard much in these places, either. There's no 'holy hush.' It's sad and it must grieve our Lord's heart and our Lady's. Do you think they're ever quiet enough to really hear God on a Sunday? I don't doubt their Christianity at all, or their love for the Lord, but I find it hard to quiet my soul at a solemn Mass sometimes. How much more distracting this mega amount of stuff is!

At our former congregation it was constant noise for nearly two hours. But, then again...some places DO have Starbucks! Oh PUHLEEESE! Is this what a house of worship has finally become? And I heard a voice say unto me: "If you build it, Pastor Java Joe, and serve cappucino, they will come!" "Coffee and Chai and Cocoa oh my!" "Come worship at Sip, Savor & Sing Fellowship! Starbucks and biscotti await you in the new "Coffee Corner" of our fellowship hall. I should pray to be less sarcastic while in Rome, but that's a big order, even for God! God said to worship him in Spirit and in Truth. Somehow something seem drastically wrong with the mega church mentality.

Before a kiss, there's always silence. For me,every Mass is Heaven bending down and kissing Earth. Our Lord giving us Himself as we give Him ourselves. Blessed, sweet silence. The Eucharist. The holy "Kiss" from Heaven. The SOURCE AND SUMMIT of our Catholic faith. Before one receives Jesus into their body, there's precious silence, the 'holy hush.' Hey, wasn't that a Herman's Hermits song?

("There's a Holy Hush...all over the world at Mass, all over the world...we receive the Lord, True food that will know what I mean....As He gives Himself, to us every day, we know, He's the Truth, Life and Way to the peace that will last, and with the saints we can pray ...So listen very carefully, go to Mass and you will see what I isn't a dream...the only sound that you will hear is when He whispers in your ear; "I love you, forever and ever")

In only a few short minutes, (sometimes no homily at all during the week,) God has said more through any priest directly to my heart and soul than all the 45+ min. sermons over 26 years that we used to hear (and then, of course, had to buy the tape to hear them again, which we seldom ever did, hence the array of old cassettes in a drawer in the basement.) There were some good messages, but they sure didn't last me through the week in the same way the BODY, BLOOD, SOUL AND DIVINITY of JESUS does! I go to daily Mass if at all possible, just because I need SO MUCH grace! I need Jesus inside me, transforming me so that I can become a better wife, mother, sister, friend, and emailerperson. I don't think God wants his children to be so dependent on 'things of this world' to "stir their souls" toward worship. It's Christ, His Church and Our Lady stir my heart to go to Mass or to pray. I also like that Catholic Churches in the phone book don't have to display a "tag line." It's simply St. Joseph. St. Peter. That's it. No pictures of the priest either. Hmm...I'm realy glad to be Home. Mega Stuff? Mega books? Mega Music? Mega Videos? Mega volume? Mega churches?

No thanks. I'll pass and go to Mass.

Priestly Joy! . . .

What a JOY! You can view Ralph Martin here, speaking to Fr. Tim McDonald, a 32 year old priest filled with zeal, and love for the Lord and His Church! There is a new "cleansing tide" washing through the Church and this is one of the wonderful "waves." He is a priest like so many we've met and heard in the Lincoln diocese here in Nebraska. Fr. McDonald also is a pastor of a small rural parish and let me just say how excited I am to have met so many young priests here in Nebraska, all over the state who are bringing this same joy and zeal and love for tradition and orthodoxy into the parishes, large and small and it's giving me great hope for the future.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

New Osteen Book At Three Million . . .

by Lynn Garrett, PW Daily -- Publishers Weekly, 4/13/2007

The next book from megaselling pastor Joel OsteenBecome a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life* (Susie's thoughts are below after the asterik) will have a first printing of three million and a one-day laydown on October 15. According to Free Press publisher Martha Levin, the house upped the ante from two million just this week, in response to "the enthusiasm of the accounts," she said. "We've been going at full tilt with this book since January, and in talking to people it became clear that two million wasn't going to be enough." The Osteen first printing is believed to be the highest for a hardcover book in S&S history, said spokesperson Adam Rothberg.

Osteen made big news last year ("Osteen Heads to Free Press," PW Daily, Mar. 15, 2006) when he jumped the Warner ship for Simon & Schuster for a deal worth some $13 million, according to informed sources, though S&S denied that figure. Osteen's first book, Your Best Life Now, was published by Warner Faith (now Hachette's FaithWords division) in 2004 and has sold more than four million copies to date, with a constant presence on the bestsellers lists.

S&S will publish Become a Better You simultaneously in Spanish-language and audio editions.

* It was interesting to hear Michael Cumbie talk today, (Saturday May 5,on EWTN) about how the altars were removed and the pulpits began to be "front and center" in Puritan and other Protestant churches after the Reformation. Now in some places, it's not the pulpit but the Jumbo Tron screen and the preacher with the headset so he can roam around...yes, THE STAGE. Hmm. Back in the Puritan days, it wasn't about sacrifice and Christ anymore, as much as the 'minister' the 'preacher' the "sermon" or now sometimes called the "message" from the "book"..... people of The Book and yet they ignore or even discard what Jesus himself established as the way to 'feed us' and become One with us. Does it really get more "MEGA" than that??!

p.s. this one nails it in my book.

Out of the mouths of babes. . .and 13 year olds...

Take a while and listen to this from a young Catholic.

Keep him in prayer that he'll become a traditional, orthodox priest. Bless his heart.

More topics discussed can be heard here

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Moment with Mary. . .

May 3 - Mary, Mother of Jasna Gora and Queen - Polish National Consecration to the Virgin Mary (1966)

The Millennium Anniversary of the Baptism of Poland (I)

In the mid-fifties, life in Poland was very difficult to say the least. The communist government had set up severe repression against the Catholic faith, the seminaries were empty, and Cardinal Wyszynski, a hero of the faith, was in prison.

It was in this lugubrious prison, at the bottom of a hole, that the Cardinal had a decisive inspiration: despite all the setbacks, Poland needed to actively prepare the great millennium anniversary of its baptism, by a “novena” or nine-year long prayer to the Blessed Virgin. By the cardinal’s request the image Our Lady of Czestochowa was sent out like a Pilgrim Virgin, to all the parishes and families in Poland, so as to revive the faith of the People of God. The Pilgrim Virgin of Poland worked wonders and 9 years later, the entire country gathered together on May 3, 1966 during the feast of Mary, Mother of Jasna Gora and Queen, while the Primate of Poland pronounced an act of total surrender to the Mother of God, during the celebration of the Millennium.

John Paul II reminded his countrymen of this great occasion on his first visit to Poland as pope: "I would like to confirm and renew in a very special way the act of consecration pronounced at Jasna Gora on May 3, 1966, at the time of the Polish Millennium. By this act the Polish bishops gave themselves up to you, Mother of God, to your ‘maternal abandon of love’ and wanted to serve the great cause of freedom of the Church."(John Paul II, homily at Jasna Gora on June 4, 1979)

In 1966, the Polish government understood that the Polish faith was invincible. And the seminaries were full once again...


Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


TWO WEEKS AND COUNTING! Two weeks from today I'll be walking here on the streets of ROME and St Peter's square. I'll be going through those doors and stand above the bone of our first beloved Pope, St. Peter. To see where his bones lay and those of St walk where they walked, and hear echoed prayers of the faithful from ancient days mingle with my own during Mass here and during Pope Benedict's audiences. My heart is beating faster as it gradually sinks in! This pilgrimage is called: BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER. Behold her I will! My Mother Mary and Holy Mother Church! It is the MARY MONTH OF MAY...and the last time I was in Rome was with my own mother, God rest her soul. Not Catholic then, I traveled these streets as a wide-eyed 18 year old with my Mom and my step dad. This will be a moving time for me now as I gaze on the beauty of the Eternal City with Catholic eyes, and more mature pair of eyes at 52 and remembering my Mom (whose birthday is May 24)Please pray for her, too, and for my step dad, Fred. They were so good to me. I failed them and was a disappointment to them at times, but I know they loved me through it all. I know also that Mary, my TRUE SPIRITUAL MOTHER, loves me and brought me back Home to ROME and will be with me especially during this time, almost 10 days in Italy.

I covet your prayers TJ and PD, and anyone else who may read this, that this will be a truly transforming pilgrimage for me. I long to grow in holiness, love, faith and all to be a better wife, mother, sister, sister-in-law and my friends and even more to my enemies. I was talking with a cubicle mate of mine a fellow "cubie" and Catholic sister in Christ, and that we believe something is really 'coming down the pike' for the Church. There is such growing hatred that is spreading so viciously (i.e. Rosie O'Donnell, etc) (I'll be praying for her, among others) that we are thinking that there may come a day in this country that the persecution is going to increase, and how we must draw closer to Christ as much as possible to attend daily mass if at all possible to remain IN HIM and HE IN get that blessed grace to remain in the Faith and stay close and stay strong in Jesus. We don't have any idea of what is coming, only that the word on the streets of Omaha is to not lose heart, not grow discouraged, but cling to Christ like never before...for there is a dark day ahead, and only HIS LIGHT will light our lamps, and get rid of anything that we might be holding to that we find "security" in, other than Christ Himself and His Church.

Thanks and peace to you,