Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

So here we are on October 7th, this Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. You didn’t think I’d escape posting something, right?

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll probably recognize this picture of a well-worn (um, make that well-prayed rosary) which I had for many years before finally giving it away. It was a Rosary Army rosary, which meant it was destined to be given away, but I held onto it for many, many, many years before passing it along to someone whom I knew loved the prayer, the Blessed Mother, and her Son as much as I do.

Timing, they say, is everything, and I was granted one last very important prayer on that rosary before passing it along to someone who would use it, even if it was only rarely, to think of me and my intentions. As it happens, I couldn’t have entrusted that rosary to a finer friend and prayer buddy.

Which of course leads me to today’s prayer on a new rosary —  made by the same beloved friend who made the blue and purple rosary above. The new one hasn’t been entirely broken in, and by that I mean, it’s still stiff in places where the twine doesn’t have much give.

It’s getting comfortable in my hand, but there are many, many, many decades left on it, where I’ll worry the twine “beads” a little more, sweat a little more, maybe cry a little more, and forget it in my jeans and run it through another wash a time or three.

And that’s ok. Because the rosary is meant to be used. It’s meant to be prayed, over and over again. And again. And again.

I admit that I have sentimental attachments to some of these little sacramentals. I get comfortable with one or another for a number of reasons — whether I like the particular clink of one, or the feel of another, or like this black and gold one that has that Steelers pin on it. I know you noticed it. I’m not praying for the Steelers, ok? Really. It’s a sentimental reminder to pray for a deceased friend who maybe did pray for a Steelers win a time or two. I won’t judge him. But I do smile and pray for his soul.

So whip out that rosary you have tucked away somewhere. It deserves to be used. Momma Mary deserves a little “phone call” today. Like the loving Momma that she is, she’ll quickly turn the conversation away from her, and to her Son.

Charity Unites Us

On September 8th Cubans everywhere celebrated the 400th anniversary of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, patroness of Cuba and, in a special way, advocate for all who feel displaced, far from home, or living in exile.

Caridad, as she is affectionately known, wants nothing more than to gather her children together and bring them to her son, Jesus. It seems such a simple desire—corrupted now in popular culture with the ironic “Can’t we all just get along.”

But Charity’s message is clear. It is first a message of Love. She holds the Child Jesus in her arms, close to her heart, and we are reminded that she is mother to us all because she is mother to the One.

read more at Patheos

Hey there! I’m over at Patheos today! How fun is that? I hope you follow the link to read the rest, and then stick around to see the other insightful, interesting, and yes, even funny stuff that’s over there. There’s a little something for everyone.

this love unites us

Yesterday, my grandmother, Emilia, would have been 100 years old. I remember when she passed away. The news came from Cuba to the eldest child, my Tia Libe, who couldn’t get a hold of my mother and called me to deliver the news.It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

This morning my dad forwarded an email from my Tio Emilio, a bishop in the diocese where the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity is situated. No doubt he has been very busy this past week in preparation for the celebrations surrounding this Jubilee year, the 400th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance to the Cuban people.

No doubt he has been reflecting on the story of our Blessed Mother. No doubt the memory of his own beloved mother, my grandmother, was tugging at his heartstrings.

He sent a message to his sisters, my mother and aunts in the U.S., and by extension to his nieces and nephews — a message I’ll relate here, in abbreviated form because of its intimacy and beauty.

Tio Emi celebrated a private Mass last night for all of us on the centenary celebration of Emilia’s birth, noting that this makes it a jubilee year for the family as well. He noted some similarities in our family history to Mary’s experience, a story of two mothers, our spiritual mother and our family matriarch…

They both came across the ocean with a child in arms, and established a home to stay with us on our journeys.

One was from Nazareth, the other from Mutiloa.

One with Joseph, the other with Daniel.

One in exile because of Herod, the other in exile because of Franco.

Because of that, they called one Child the Nazarene, and the others they called Gallegos.

Then he lit two candles for Daniel and Emilia, because through them, love also unites us as a family, a beautiful allusion to the theme of this year’s Jubilee, Charity unites us. I was moved by the gesture and his relating of that story… this piece of my story… a story to pass on to my children, because it speaks to the greatest gift within our family, not in a literal comparison to the story of salvation, but to the human condition of it.

  • That we learn love and sacrifice within the family.  
  • That we are first loved by God, and we love because we know love.

It’s kind of a conundrum, this cycle of love, but our family story seems to be wrapped around this mantle of love, even as generations have moved from exile to exile. We are never alone, have never been alone, even in our deepest loneliness and separation. And we can look forward to the glorious happy day when we are all reunited before the Author of this story.

Happy Birthday Momma Mary

On September 8th Cubans everywhere will celebrate the 400th anniversary of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, patroness of Cuba and, in a special way, advocate for all who feel displaced, far from home, or living in exile.

Caridad, as she is affectionately known, wants nothing more than to gather her children together and bring them to her son, Jesus. It seems such a simple desire – corrupted now in popular culture with the ironic “Can’t we all just get along?”

But Charity’s message is clear. It is first a message of Love. She holds the Child Jesus in her arms, close to her heart, and we are reminded that she is mother to us all because she is mother to the One.

Her appearance 400 years ago to three young men adrift in a stormy sea by the Bay of Nipe, off the coast of Cuba, inspires hope. Charity’s presence in our lives today is just as relevant as we navigate the stormy seas of the 21st century.

With the infant Jesus in one hand, and the cross in the other, we are reminded, literally, of the message she carries. Our salvation is present and accessible through her, always – every time we turn to her for guidance or succor, as those young men did centuries before us.

She is, for me, a symbol of the faith for which my parents sacrificed so much. As a Cuban-born American, much of my cultural identity connects with Our Lady of Charity. She is iconic, a symbol for the Cuban people, but she is so much more.

As a child, my mom often whispered into my ear as she hugged and kissed me goodbye, “Que la virgen te acompañe.”  No matter how old I get, and how far away I live, I can count on my mom’s blessing before I travel. Instead of a whispered caress, today I get a text message, “May Our Lady accompany you .”

This gentle reminder that Our Lady would accompany me on my journey, to my child’s mind, was just one of those things moms said. To my adult heart, the knowledge that Mary does indeed accompany me buoys me when I feel adrift in my own Bay of Nipe. Consoling and calm, Caridad stands as a beacon…always calling me to safety, showing me the way home to her Son.

The little icon of Our Lady of Charity has been traveling throughout the island nation of Cuba these past three years in a beautiful pilgrimage awakening a dormant faith, inspiring hope, and spreading love to a nation thirsty for Christ’s message.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2012 address at the Shrine of Our Lady Of Charity of El Cobre, called on the Cuban people to look upon the Blessed Mother as a model.

Following the example of the Most Holy Virgin, I encourage all the sons and daughters of this dear country to continue to build their lives on the firm rock which is Jesus Christ, to work for justice, to be servants of charity and to persevere in the midst of trials. 

The theme of this pilgrimage, indeed, the theme for the 400th anniversary celebration is “Charity Unites Us/Caridad nos une”. This lovely play on words, in both English and Spanish, speaks a great Truth, that Love unites us in the Body of Christ. All of us.

Que la virgen te acompañe.