Prayer House

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Every night for four years, with few exceptions, my dearest friend Pat, a former religious sister, now layperson member of the Carmelite Order, and I prayed for ourselves as well as dozens of other people … Mark, Sarah, Rebecca. As the years passed, we squeezed in new names … Joey and Anthony …. We squinted to read the growing names and intentions on the list that was about the size of an index card.

Always topping the list were the names of my two children and ending the list were the names of those who had passed over.

For the first two years, we prayed on the telephone. The last two years after Pat moved in with me, we congregated at our kitchen table. We prayed for health, wealth, romance, reconciliation or safety for those near and dear. No one could have convinced me that our prayers were left unanswered. Jobless friends obtained job offers. Sick friends became well again … at our table, it was as if we ordered from an a la carte menu … two burgers and one large order of fries, no special sauce. Bottomless bounty was served!

In 2018, we witnessed a miracle. A man in his early 30s, whom we did not know, but heard about from our priest, was run over by a car at a busy intersection. He survived the crash, but he slipped into a coma. Odds of recovery, grim. Through the grapevine we also heard, he was the only son to a mother who had recently immigrated to America. At that time, I could not imagine if something that horrific happened in my cozy,  little life. I prayed, “Please God, help this young man. We ask a miracle … if it is your Holy Will.”

.… “If it is your Holy will.” We capped off each prayer this way, because it reconfirmed our humble servant status. It reminded us that we were not the creators of this world and powerless to perform God’s work. Looking back, I was only kidding myself. When that young man came to consciousness and recovered, everyone called it “a miracle.” My egotistic self knew it was through the specific prayers we prayed at the kitchen table night after night for a month that he was alive and well.

As I said earlier, my young adult children always topped off the prayer list. Year after year, our intentions for them were consistent: good physical and mental health, good jobs and good spouses. For my son, there was always one constant request: help him find a friend.

Week after week, month after month, I knew we were getting closer to our intentions being granted. After we concluded our 20- or 30-minute prayer sessions, Pat gently placed the list under a statue in the kitchen of St. Joseph, husband of Mary, mother of Jesus. In the Catholic Church, he is recognized as the patron saint of workers. The statue is about three and a half inches long, and the saint is depicted lying on his side, sleeping. The reason behind the supine pose is that it is believed that an angel spoke to St. Joseph in a dream on two occasions to give him much needed direction. We liked to believe that every night while we slept, he “worked hard” and assisted us with his powerful intercession, and obtained for us from the Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. We recited specific St. Joseph prayers and they sealed my concrete-like faith.

On the night before our personal tragedy blew our little bubble world into smithereens leaving the hot shrapnel embedded into every crevice of my mind, heart and spirit, we recited our routine prayers. Less than 15 hours later, I laid on the floor like the St. Joseph statue. Of course I was orbits away from being in the state of placid rest. I pleaded, beseeched and begged the invisible air to change what had occurred, my body in a convulsion state. And, so it was. The unspeakable and unimaginable from that day forward was a hard blow and, for me living with grief means crawling, because I feel like I carry 900 pounds of hot shrapnel day after day, week after week, over 17 months later.

I was the one who did not have another prayer request left in me, and Pat and I haven’t prayed since that fateful night. Memories of the last time praying together, and I can still visualize the lit candle dancing around the kitchen, coating our faces within a warm glow, and our spirits free to cavort with the frolicking candlelight.

As my lips fall to silence, Pat, with her religious zeal, that I so admire, has not slackened one bit in her prayer life. If anything, her prayer time has accelerated. For me, right now, I am trying to reckon with my powerlessness and I just listen. Be and leave the BElieving alone, because I don’t want to spark my ego into thinking I have any control on the ways of the world. Just as I possessed no control over the young man who baffled science and fully recovered from a near-fatal car accident. In the same way, I possess no control over my son’s unspeakable set of circumstances.

As a trained journalist, I always wanted the know the answers. Now, I don’t even know the questions to ask. I just know that I don’t mind seeing the statue of St. Joseph asleep and allowing it to remain in our kitchen. He looks comfortable, but, strangely, lonely. Sometimes I have a hankering to say, “Pat! Where’s the list? Can we pray?”

Instead, I remain silent. I can’t fathom another disappointment or letdown. Now, I automatically take cover and duck and don’t stand in the way of life. Especially at night, I reckon with the feeling of loneliness and stark silence in the kitchen, even with the background music. I use what remaining energy I have to BElieve the sun will rise, and I don’t have to lift a finger to help that fireball to ignite.

Faith Muscle

Good Fortune Prayer

The following post is a guest post from my son’s Godmother Patricia Grassi. She is one of the most faithful women I’ve ever met and serves as an inspiration to me always.

Chervony, the firey orange and tan long-haired cat was showing signs of distress.
Saturday, June 13, he stopped drinking and eating. The expression on his sweet
face resembled a stone. His eyes appeared overcast as he stared into space.
Maybe this is the way eighteen-year-old cats act before they die. His
disappearamce into the neighbor’s tall bushes the following day also pushed us into
thinking he wanted to go into the woods to die.

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Early Monday morning, before Stacy called his vet, I was sitting at the kitchen
table, drinking a cup of coffee while engulfed in sadness. Like the distant note of
a songbird, a feeling of hope broke through my sorrow. I sensed a lightness within
me as I turned to my left and saw Marshall standing in front of the dishwasher,
smiling at me. I knew intuitively that he was a vision–a momentary gift from
heaven to bring me comfort and perhaps a message regarding Chervony. He was
dressed in dark blue jeans and a darker blue T-shirt. Everything about him
glowed, especially his face, which was clean-shaven.

Yes, he was happy, but he particularly wanted me to tell his mother that he loved her very much. As he slowly faded, I was struck by the fact that he was the embodiment of all the attributes of God, such as love, kindness, goodness, wisdom and especially joy, just to name a few. dark-clouds-173926_1920

After he left, I didn’t know exactly what Chervony’s situation was, but that whatever happened, it would be all right.*

*And it WAS alright. Chevony was found sick and with a fever, but post-vet care, he is making a full recovery.

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Faith Muscle

Abracadabra Prayers

Abracadabra!

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I will you give you a powerful prayer to create magical results in your life:

Name your intention:

  • Prosperity
  • Health
  • Employment
  • New Love
  • Friendship
  • Improve Personal Relationships

Once, 4 months, 26 days ago specifically, my life was based on prayer formulas. Without fail, I prayed a host of specific intentions to God. For urgent matters, I assigned a particular job to a particular saint to intercede. Eagerly, faithfully and patiently I waited for my prayers to unfold. My prayers were clay. God was the sculptor.

I witnessed masterpiece miracles. God’s handiwork studio space was divided in three sections.

  1. Work-in-progress prayers (For instance, a friend narrowing in on a new job!)
  2. God’s handiwork creations. (Houses spared from foreclosures. Jobs landed. Lonely singles finding mates, and so on.)
  3. Dry clay. You get the pic with that image, but, remember, if you sprinkle water, you can give dry clay life again. Right? So, hope underscored this section.

Reflecting back, section 2, God’s handiwork creations, consumed anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of the studio space. I was deliriously happy living in this studio. Faith beautifully wallpapered every turn and corner. Faith-filled tile fell beneath my feet like lemon drops, and life was magical.

And then one frightful Tuesday arrived, and the studio had to accommodate a new area: Bone Dry Clay. Undeserved. Unwanted. The section has no number. No prayers answered here.

In this dark dungeon, there is no God of anyone’s understanding to whom I can turn and beseech to awaken my son, if only long enough to see, his long, slim fingers with clean nails that formed hands that created magical mechanical parts. There is no expert saint to intercede who will nudge a supreme being who’s napping, and doesn’t realize that my 26-year-old son had a lot of work to finish in this life before his exit.

Now, this bone dry, nameless area, takes up the studio space now. There is no hope for any kind of sculpture, never mind a masterpiece. Sadly, I think faith means hope, and hope does not live between these walls.

So, I am left with no prayer, never mind powerful or magical. My faith is tested, and I have no faith at this moment. Or perhaps, for now, I am on a pause in my faith journey. Paused in the faith library researching things like prayer.

If my prayers are answered, am I worthy of the outcome? If my prayer petitions fall on deaf ears, am I unworthy? Or are prayer requests just a masquerade for magic? And if this is true, maybe the faithful have no prayers in need of answers since if you are faithful, you accept everything all the time, even the unacceptable, the unbearable, the noncomprehending. Maybe, you don’t mess around with God’s handiwork. Maybe you surrender your superhuman costume and just become an objective observer as the sculpture unfolds.

Do you pray? Why do you pray? Do you pray for certain things? Do you pray in general terms? Do you think prayers are magic? Do prayers help you, and if they do, what kind of prayers do you pray?

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Faith Muscle

Same thing, Over and Oh!ver

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Image by Prettysleepy2 from Pixabay

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 

Fueled with an entrepreneurial type spirit, I ventured into a website business that is now over two years old and hasn’t produced a dime. The roads I’ve encountered on the journey have been a pothole nightmare and at times dead men curves that took me into dark places from which I miraculously

Most recently, a stranger in the mix, who learned about some of the circumstances, said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Okay, Mr. Einstein, what do you think I do? Give up? Surrender? Close the book on the Great Idea?

Speaking of books, that’s another constant roadblock. My novel has been on a heck of a journey since 1996. Years of editing. Years lost to inactivity. The good news is, I landed a reputable agent in 2018; reworked the storyline; fleshed out the proposal, which now constitutes a series of books. The not-so-good news is, it sits unpublished.

Mr. Einstein, what do you advise I do? Throw the book out along with the series? A series that has the strong potential to revolutionize a certain segment of society?

So, is this constant creative roadblock insanity or is it a means to test my faith?

I just finished reading Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us by Heather Holleman, and I had an epiphany.

Ms. Holleman writes, “Choosing to look for the “new mercies” of God each morning for me became a spiritual practice to build hope. I had to fight the despair. I had to find a way to stay afloat in hope when drowning in depression. It was that diligent and forceful daily preaching of hope to my soul. This practice corresponded with my desire to write again, and my friend Laurie first suggested my daily recording of new mercies in a blog format for others to read.”

Ms.Holleman continues, “But it felt hopeless to write. I had endured a decade of rejection letters from publishers. ‘You should blog. I would read your blog,’ Laurie said.

Hope rose up in my heart that stored so many words just waiting to get out….”

I feel Ms. Holleman’s hope and enthusiastically heard her literally. I decided to blog again on faith. Because one thing I do know, and it’s something I don’t have to wait for, and something that is in the here and now is I have a pretty impressive faith muscle.

I may not be a success in the world’s eyes. In the soul department, though, I do believe I’ve had some wins. How can I not? For the last 35 years, I’ve lived on borrowed time and during that time I’ve mended relationships with others as well as with myself, but most importantly with God.

For the last 35 years, I lift my eyes up and search for new mercies every single day, because I train on a constant basis in the marathon of the soul business. As long as my soul is stable, I can drive these crazy avenues and streets in the game of life, knowing freedom is not too far off in the distance on the eternal high road. It’s insane to imagine how refreshing the feathery wings beneath me will feel.

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Faith Muscle

To My Brother in Heaven

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15:32

It brings me great strength and joy to know you are in the loving arms of Jesus. Down here on earth, your arms were in the shackles of a disease that you did not want. I was four years old when I first tried to help you, but I was at a loss, wanting to contain your Niagara Falls amount of throw-up in a tiny pink cup.

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From that day forward, I felt like I trailed behind you through life, big brother, with a tiny pink plastic cup that could never contain the monster-sized remnants inside.

I won’t deny, that when you were alive, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about a replacement brother. The kind of big brother that takes you places above ground and not underground. The kind of brother who views life is lived on a rich, varied and textured terrain generous in rose-smelling opportunities. Like I told you a gazillion times, I never cared about your version of life lived in a flat-line region where the point of it all is survival.

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No doubt about it. We spent a lot of time in the mud hole: bickering, arguing and sometimes having a knock-down, drag-out fight. We landed in plenty of fox holes, too, where our prayers were “God Help!” Succinct ones, but as fervent as the long, formal prayers.

Seventeen years later, and I darn well know that if given the chance for a replacement brother or you, there is no doubt to the one I would choose. I attribute my choice to you. Underneath your disease. Underneath the monster. Buried under a mountain of hurt, you were one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. Not because you were handsome, strong, generous, compassionate, highly intuitive and intelligent and a war hero to boot, but because you knew that everything, no matter how utterly defective, stained, sinned or doomed, could root, grow and live under one condition: that it is planted in a bedrock of unconditional love.

Thank you for leaving me this bedrock of a legacy. To allow myself to be vulnerable, trust and carry the message tirelessly to those who suffer and those who need strength. Most of all, thanks for being my Angel Michael, right next to Archangel Michael, as I trudge this road of happy destiny.

Dear Big Brother in heaven, I can’t wait to see you in heaven someday. Feel your arms around me again, and see the sober twinkle in your eyes, when you radiate His love and gently whisper, “Peace.”

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

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Faith Muscle

Brick and Mortar 2019

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.                                                           Angel4 Psalm 34:1

Brick Wall

During this past season’s midnight Mass, I found Christmas, but it wasn’t solely in the Mass. I found Christmas in a young father who sat in the pew in front of us. His eyes glowed in adoration of his special needs toddler. Despite the fact that the child squirmed, gurgled and occasionally jolted, for over two hours, the father cradled her with undivided attention and devotion. In the face of challenge, his face exuded peace, contentment and joy. His one-word response to his child: Christmas!

This upcoming New Year, when I am faced with challenges, I hope to respond in the same spirit of Christmas, no matter if it is in the dead of winter or heat of summer. In other words, no matter how my faith is tested, I have memorized my response that is so apparent in the father’s life that I encountered at church. “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

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Funny, how my relationship with God is sometimes one-sided, and I think He should ONLY bless me. Blessing the Lord at all times and praising him always is like laying a foundation of brick-like faith while the Lord spreads his love in the form of mortar.

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle

 

FAITH ”AN IMPORTANT PART OF LIFE”

I am re-blogging this fantastic post from BE BLOGGER (OFFICIAL) 

via Faith ”An Important Part Of Life”

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

 

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Faith Muscle

January Reflections: A Question a day to deepen your faith (31)

Never mind New Year’s resolutions. Angel4 Wrap your mind around January  reflections: A question a day every day for the next 30 days to deepen your faith.

31. What did I learn after a month of asking questions about faith? mustard seed

 

Plain & Simple: I  have mustard seed faith, but I have a mammoth God.  

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Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle

January Reflections: A Question a day to deepen your faith (30)

Never mind New Year’s resolutions. Angel4 Wrap your mind around January  reflections: A question a day every day for the next 30 days to deepen your faith.

30. Doubting your faith? 

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If you are doubting your faith, you are not alone. When Pope Francis was asked if he every had any doubts, he replied, “Well …, I have so many, eh! I have so many … Of course, we all sometimes have doubts!”

When doubt sets in, realize you’re in good company!questions-1922476_1920Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle

January Reflections: A Question a day to deepen your faith (29)

Never mind New Year’s resolutions. Angel4 Wrap your mind around January  reflections: A question a day every day for the next 30 days to deepen your faith.

29. Shaky faith?   

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Even Mother Teresa had times when she didn’t feel God’s presence. (And let’s face it, most of us are not Mother Teresa.) Don’t bury your doubts and frustrations. Find a friend who’ll listen respectfully.  Keep the faith. While you’re trying to figure it out, God’s got you covered.background-2908901_1920Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle