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"Is There Anything Else You Need?": A Conversation Between St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe is my favorite Marian apparition. I have always been drawn to her and the story of her appearances to St. Juan Diego.  I love so many things about her: the fact that she is pregnant, as indicated by the Aztec maternity belt that she is wearing the extravagance and beauty of the sign she gave to Bishop Zumarraga : Castilian roses, miraculously picked in full bloom on the hills of Tepayac, Mexico in the middle of December the rich intricacy of her image mysteriously placed on Juan Diego's tilma, which should have long since disintegrated, but remains intact as a sign of contradiction to the wise and learned of the world and an image of hope and joy to the childlike the staggering number of Aztec conversions to Catholicism which occurred in Mexico in the years following her apparition and the continuing steadfastness faith of the Mexican people Most of all I love the words which she spoke to Juan Diego : words of comfort, solace and hope - words which she

Recourse to Thee

As the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I am reminded of the words given by Mary to St, Catherine Laboure which are inscribed around the edge of the Miraculous Medal:   "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."    The words "O Mary conceived without sin" are exactly the reality which we celebrate on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception - the fact that our Blessed Mother was preserved from all sin, including that of original sin, by a special grace. It is the second part of the prayer that I have been thinking about recently: "pray for us who have recourse to thee." Those words are not exactly 21st century suburban lexicon. I have come to understand this powerful phrase through the lens of my own motherhood. As a Mom I have experienced the perplexing phenomenon of having my children run straight past their Dad and directly into my arms sobbing and relaying their latest tale of woe -

The Silence of Remembering

The details of my first visit to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery are permanently etched in my mind. My family and I were on a sight-seeing vacation to Washington, DC and I was a just entering my teen years. I was at that age - you know the one - the age when my knowledge of the mysteries of  life far surpassed that  of my parents, or any other authority figure, or so I thought. The age when the future lay ahead and sitting around remembering the things of the past seemed like a colossal waste of my adolescent time. It was a steamy, sunny day as we made our way to the Tomb. Away from the city noise of D.C., the first thing I noticed at the Tomb was the silence. This was no ordinary silence. It was a silence filled with solemnity, with ritual and with sadness. We stood and watched the military guard, dressed from head to toe in the most pristine uniform, sweat dripping from his brow, his jaw set and his eyes fixed forward. He marched back and fort

How To Be Successful At Lent

If I had to list my most "successful" Lents I would probably say the following ranked as the top three: The year I gave up shopping and did really well except for the pair of shoes that I bought and hid in my desk at work until Easter so my husband wouldn't notice them.  I sure did save a lot of money that year!   The year that I gave up coffee and no one at work wanted to speak to me before Noon.  Boy did that one require perseverance-especially on the part of  my co-workers. I did kick that nasty caffeine habit, though! Finally, there was the year I gave up grated parmesan cheese - what a major sacrifice for this Italian girl.  I practically top brownies with that stuff.  Talk about HOLY!!!  Plus, I lost a few pounds that year as well!   Epic successes, all of them. Well done, Debbie.  The problem is, Lent isn't about being successful.  Or about saving money. Or about losing weight. Lent is a matter of the heart. The celebration of Ash Wednesday be

Life Lessons From Saint Peter

I LOVE St. Peter. The Scriptural accounts of the missteps of this outspoken, hot-tempered, passionate first Pope reveal a man who is flawed and weak. I can relate . Equally, the Scriptures reveal to us  a man whose life has been thoroughly transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit - his flaws are remade into his greatest strengths. I can relate. St. Peter's life, like that of all the Saints, opens up to us a litany of examples that we can both meditate upon and imitate in our own striving for the heights of holiness in the trenches of everyday life. Let's look at seven life lessons that we can draw from St. Peter.  Grace builds on nature. Boldness was a gift that Peter possessed in abundance - a gift that made him a natural born leader. The problem with natural gifts is that they are not always directed to the right ends or exercised in the right manner. Time and time again, Peter's natural gift of boldness landed him in hot water with the Lord. See  Mt 16:2