Daddy’s Wash Shed

I was lucky enough to grow up in the seventies. Life was very different then. I was the oldest of two girls at that time with a hard-working, stay-at- home mom and a blue collar, hard-working father. Life for my family was very routine; not too much out of the ordinary came our way. In 1970, my sister, Debra, and I enjoyed playing outside with neighborhood children during the day and watching our favorite TV sitcoms in the evenings as a family. Daddy was off from work on Saturdays, which was yard mowing day and Sundays, which was reserved for visiting grandparents after attending mass at our Catholic Church parish.

1972 brought big changes to our family when my parents purchased my mother’s parents’ home. Most of the routines stayed the same, but at a different address with different neighborhood friends, stores, church and school. Since it was previously my grandparents’ home, I settled in to my new world very quickly.

My mother was meticulous when it came to housecleaning. In those days children were usually forced to play outdoors as housewives wanted to keep the house as clean and neat as possible awaiting their husband’s return from work. Of course we did not have video games and the technology of today. We enjoyed playing tag, hopscotch and catching doodle bugs. We ran into the house at noon to get a quick bite of lunch, then it was back outside until we saw Daddy pull into the drive in his red plumbing truck.

My dad’s trade was plumbing. He returned at the end of each day smelling like galvanized pipe; his green uniform turned black with mud and sweat. Looking back now, I find it funny that he was not allowed in mom’s house either! Located at the back of our home was an old wash shed. It housed a washer and dryer as well as a toilet, sink and shower. Living in south Louisiana, the wash shed was always musty and humid. As kids playing outside, we frequented the shed for a quick restroom stop. The concrete floor was always wet and the lighting was extremely poor. I imagine kids today would be horrified to have to use such facilities; however, back in those days, we thought nothing of it. My dad ended his work day each day with a shower in the wash shed.

I can still remember my mom opening the back door of the house and handing my dad a stack of clean clothes, towels and soap. We continued playing in the back of our house as dad took his shower. He exited the wash room smelling of Irish Spring Soap, clean and refreshed. We could now all enter mom’s domain and start our nighttime routine of supper, bath, TV and bed.

Dad’s use of the wash shed was a humble and loving way to show respect to my mother and all the hard work she did in keeping house. As I recall these special memories, it reminds me that one day we all hope to enter God’s home and just like my Daddy, we should want to enter clean and refreshed. Our Loving Father in Heaven gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation from which He pours His Grace upon us and washes us clean.

The following was written in Saint Faustina’s diary: “Today the Lord said to me, Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My Mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it. Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My Mercy with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My Grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My Generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls.”

By the time my two youngest sisters were born, mom and dad had remodeled our new home and tore down the old wash shed. Dad started up his own plumbing business, driving a white van and wearing a blue uniform. He continued to work hard, and at the end of each work day he retired to his new master bath to shower off the day’s sweat and grime. He and my mother, without knowing it, were a great witness to this first-born, who is now a mother and grandmother herself, of the humbleness and respect of admitting a need for cleansing. We are all sinners, we are all in need of God’s Mercy and Grace. Jesus left us a visible Sacrament whereby we can obtain these gifts if we humble ourselves and enter the “wash shed” of the confessional.

John 20:22-23 “He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain, are retained.”

Cest Bon,

Love, Sherry

Wiping the Face of Christ

I had brought my daughter to the emergency room one night a few years ago. She was in pain and so I sat with her in a crowded emergency wait area and we waited. And we waited. Time seems to pass so slowly when we or a loved one is suffering.

The hospital staff were obviously overwhelmed with the amount of patients seeking care. I surveyed our wait area and noticed an elderly woman sitting in a wheel chair in the corner of the room. She looked very ill and feeble. She was quietly spitting up in a plastic bag the nurse had given her. She was alone.

The elderly woman’s face became sweaty and smeared with her spittle. Her breathing seemed very labored and she longingly looked at each medical attendant as they whizzed by, trying to be patient and wait her turn. She began coughing, almost choking. I looked around the room and found that not one person was even looking up to check on the woman. I realize these people were in an emergency room and had some type of medical issue, but most seemed young and healthy compared to the elderly woman in the corner of the room.

I was sitting across the room and asked the woman if she would like a cloth to wipe her face. She nodded that she would. I retrieved a cloth from the nurse’s station and handing it to the woman asked if she had family with her. She told me that she did not. I sat next to her and volunteered to call someone for her. She asked if I could call her daughter. After calling both of the woman’s daughters, who were both busy with work, the elderly woman asked that I call her brother. Her brother seemed confused by my phone call; I handed the phone to the woman and let her explain to her brother. Finally, a family member took an interest in the woman’s health and agreed to meet her at the hospital. Knowing that someone was going to be there for her, seemed to relieve the woman. I saw her smile as she handed me back my phone. Not long afterwards, a nurse opened the door and called the woman’s name. She was finally leaving the wait area. She smiled and told me thank you. She pointed at me and told the nurse, “that is my sister.” It was humbling and unexpected. As I rejoined my daughter, who as it turned out was having appendicitis, I was again humbled to hear my daughter say to me, “I would never let you come alone.”

What happened to kindness in the world?

Today during Good Friday Service, I found myself sitting near the 6th Station of the Way of The Cross, depicting Veronica wiping the Face of Christ. I found myself contemplating the simple act of kindness that brought a moment of comfort to our suffering Lord, Jesus.

It has been Church tradition that after the death of Jesus, His mother visited daily the scenes of Christ’s Passion. The origin of the Way of The Cross is the Holy Land as still today pilgrims reverently walk the Via Dolorosa at Jerusalem. It developed over time to the 14 stations we have today.

Veronica and her cloth are not mentioned in the gospels. She and her act of kindness have been a tradition passed down through the centuries. It is unknown if Veronica was truly her name or what became of her; but there is proof of her existence in the Veil of Manoppello, Italy.

The Veil has many similarities to the Shroud of Turin. Like the Shroud, its image is not painted on the cloth, but rather, apart of the cloth. The image when placed over the Shroud is an exact match. Like the Shroud, it has a history of being stolen and hidden until it found its home with the Cupuchins in Manoppello in the 1600s.

As I venerated the Cross of Jesus today, I wondered if I had been alive back then, would I have tried to comfort Him? I cannot go back in time; I must comfort Jesus by being kind and loving to my brothers and sisters here now. I like to think that as I handed the elderly woman the cloth, it was also an act of comfort to my Lord, Jesus. There is no time outside of this world. We can through our prayers and works of mercy be a comfort to Jesus during His Passion just as Saint Veronica. He will leave an imprint on our hearts just as He left an imprint on Veronica’s veil.

C’est Bon

Love, Sherry

My Friend Shirley

I was a young mother moving away from my home of south Louisiana to Virginia where my husband was stationed with the US Navy.  The year was 1988 and there were no cell phones, home computers or GPS devices.  It was a new life in a big city with no family or friends for hundreds of miles.

 My husband would be traversing mostly onboard the USS Shreveport; I had to figure out how to navigate an unknown area with two children under four years old.  My solution was to look up addresses of businesses in a phone book.  I then located the address on a city map and mapped out a route from my location to my destination.  I was able to find my way to the grocery store, medical facilities, church and so on.  I am a person with no sense of direction, so I felt quite accomplished with myself!  My first year in Virginia, I was a stay- at- home mom getting acquainted with new surroundings and reassuring my little ones that this new, strange land was safe and was now home.

A year later, during one of my husband’s deployments, I felt secure enough to venture out into the workforce.  After obtaining a sitter for the kids, I walked up the steps to Sussex Apartments’ office and met my future boss/friend, Shirley.

My first impression was – this is not going to work out!  I found Shirley to be nothing like anyone I had ever met.  Here I was, this short, conservative, modest, Catholic wife and mother; there was Shirley, a platinum blonde, heavy make-up and spike high heel wearing divorcee – we were the very definition of opposites!  Looking back on that moment, I imagine it was comical to behold!  She carried herself with such elegance and self-confidence; I knew I had just met a force to be reckon with!

Always polite, I carried on a conversation with Shirley and smiled while she ranted about her current assistant, who she described as “drab and depressing.”  She complimented my smile and thought out loud that I would be such a welcome change to the office.  I left that interview not knowing what the heck just happened!  Shirley and I seemed to hit it off and talk effortlessly – I saw something in her that I lacked, and she evidently saw something in me.  Before long, I was sitting at the front desk and working daily with the ever surprising and bodacious Shirley!

Why the two of us got along so well is still a mystery!  I had two little kids at home and an early bedtime. She had two Russian wolfhounds and no bedtime.  She dressed to kill every day and flirted with every man that walked in the door, married and unmarried alike.  I was friendly and sweet with everyone, but always was careful to keep my distance.  She walked into a room and lit it up with her presence; I was shy and quiet trying not to bring attention to myself.  She visited psychics and was very New Age.  I loved my Catholic faith and had never been exposed to such things. We were worlds apart as far as personality; yet for a time, she was my dearest friend and confidant. 

Shirley had a huge heart!  She genuinely cared about her staff and residents.  I watched her cry over employee firings and rejoice at our accomplishments.  A lonely, elderly neighbor to our office was visited almost every evening by Shirley.  I accompanied her once or twice while the gentleman served us cake and talked about his wife that had passed.  

My best memories of Shirley are from Christmas. Shirley absolutely loved Christmas!  She took great care to decorate for the Christmas season and was a gracious hostess to our Christmas party.  The season of giving just delighted her to no end. 

I still love that dear woman to this day – even though I have not seen her since my family moved back to Louisiana – thirty years ago!  I was just in my mid-twenties then and Shirley and I made plans to visit over the years; but life is just so busy that it never happened.  Each year for Christmas, I receive Virginia salt-water taffy from my friend, and I ship out some Louisiana gumbo to Virginia.   We exchange Christmas cards and catch up once a year.  Since I have seen Shirley, I had a third child, and watched my children graduate and get married.  I am now a grandmother and have a blessed life with my love of thirty-seven years and our dog, Archie.  Shirley, now retired, has been a mother to many fur babies over the years.  I have numerous photos of her rescues who were treated to a wonderful dog life!

The time I spent in Virginia was intimidating – I was a fish out of water.  My friend, Shirley, took me under her wing and filled my days with laughter while listening to her escapades.  Whenever I think of her, I smile, and that has to be the most wonderful compliment I could give anyone – you make me smile!

Merry Christmas Shirley and thank you for the taffy!

Your friend still,

Sherry

Shirley, 1989

Our Little Cajun Saint

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb.'” Rev. 7:9-10

Today is the Feast Day of All Saints’ Day. We know from scripture that heaven is filled with multitudes of people from every nation. We know the names of some of these Saints and celebrate them on individual Feast Days; however, most of the heavenly Saints are unknown and are celebrated as a group on November 1st of every year. The reason for the November 1st date is Pope Gregory III, in the sixth century, dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to all of the Saints and set the anniversary date as November 1st.

Having been brought up in Cajun country and seeing firsthand the devotion to the Catholic faith here in south Louisiana, I imagine heaven has many many saints with a thick Cajun accent! The most famous of these is known as the “Little Cajun Saint”, Charlene Richard. Charlene left this world at the young age of twelve in 1959. She succumbed to a terminal illness while offering up her sufferings and uniting her cross with Jesus. More than fifty years later, tens of thousands visit her grave site every year to ask for her intercession.

In January 2020, Bishop Deshotel officially opened the cause for canonization of Charlene Richard. This is the first step in a lengthy process to be named a Saint. Charlene’s life will be investigated as well as the many testimonies of miraculous healings attributed to her intercession.

My husband and I have visited Charlene’s grave site over the years and have requested her intercession and prayer. We made a recent trip in early September of this year. I have been suffering from arthritis in my right knee for many years. The pain was close to being intolerable this year. I scheduled an appointment with my orthopedic and expected to be told another shot in the knee would be needed. Instead, I was told a total knee replacement would be needed in the near future. I was given a shot and told I would have to return in three months. This time the shot did nothing. I struggled to walk as every step led to severe pain in that right knee.

I have been blessed to serve as a Eucharistic Minister at my parish church. As I continued to have problems walking, I was forced to ask for a substitute on my weekend to serve. The pain of not being able to serve my Jesus was just as severe as the pain in my knee. The following weekend, I asked my husband to drive me to Charlene Richard’s grave.

The day was lovely and I found the grave site to be just as peaceful as ever. I sat on a nearby bench and prayed. I asked Charlene to pray for me. All I asked for was for the pain to be at a point where I could still stand and serve communion. My husband also joined in praying for Charlene’s intercession. Afterwards, I hobbled towards my husband’s truck; still in severe pain.

There was no difference in my pain or my walk for a couple of weeks. Then once again, it was my turn to serve as Eucharistic Minister at mass. The week leading up to the mass I noticed that I was walking much more easily. The pain in my right knee was still there, but had diminished to a point that I was very capable of serving at mass. And serve I did! I do not consider what happened to me a miraculous healing. I do know that I prayed at Charlene’s grave for a specific intention and that intention was fulfilled! It has been two months and I am still able to walk and serve at mass.

Today on All Saints’ Day, I would like to thank Charlene Richard for her prayers and intercession. I will pray that her cause for sainthood progress so that one day she will be named in the book of Saints.

C’est Bon!

Love Sherry

Missing 1976

A celebration of the Bicentennial of the United States of America was everywhere in 1976. Logos and labels on commercial products were red, white, and blue. Sports’ jerseys proudly displayed the Bicentennial logo. There were parades, exhibits and special performances to celebrate the birth of the nation. Locally, there were flags on homes and red, white, and blue painted mailboxes.

President Gerald Ford, on the morning of July 4, 1976, sailed down the Hudson River aboard the USS Wainwright and Johnny Cash headed up the U.S. Bicentennial parade. Meanwhile, in New Iberia, Louisiana, the Poirrier family held it’s annual Fourth of July picnic. My mother hosted the family picnic and due to the special celebration; the 1976 picnic was a day to remember! Many cousins, aunts, uncles and family friends showed up to celebrate. The day was filled with family fun and food. There were many competitions for us children. I competed in all of them from the three-legged race and long jump to the bubble gum blowing contest. Mom had painstakingly hand-made patriotic plaques for all the lucky winners. I was small and agile those days and showing off my speed. It was a beautiful day!

The men were grilling and enjoying a cold brew. The women were setting the food out on picnic tables and fussing at any kids who were misbehaving. The air was filled with the smell of bar-b-que and the sound of laughter. That afternoon, there was a family baseball game that was as competitive as the Yankees and Red Sox! We returned home in the dark and sat in lawn chairs in the front yard, watching fireworks light up the sky. We were tired, sated with happiness and proud to be an American! Life was good! The family was so appreciative of my mother’s efforts that year, that they pulled together and bought her a professionally made plaque thanking her for the joy of that day.

This memory of mine seems such a stark contrast to the America I see today. We seem to have forgotten the sacrifice of our founding fathers and those who shed blood so that their children and grandchildren could live in a country of freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the pursuit of happiness came at a great cost. No other nation on earth has created opportunity for generations as this great nation. Has the journey been perfect? Absolutely not – but, then again, there is no perfect in this world. The founding fathers of this nation were given Divine inspired words which formed the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness- that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed..”

We must teach our children and grandchildren these truths. This new generation should understand how proud they should be of what this great nation has accomplished. 2026 will bring about the 250th birthday of this land that I love. It is my hope that I will once again see the enthusiasm and patriotism of 1976!

C’est Bon!

Sherry

God Bless the United States of America!

Sherry, 1976, Dodson Elementary

Saying Goodbye to Oscar

Oscar, 6/10/2004 – 11/04/2020

I have learned that life is a series of letting go. In my fifty-five years, I have let go of many people, places and things. I have let go of childhood and all those childish possessions such as Barbie dolls and crayons. I have said goodbye to my parents’ home when I left the morning of my wedding day and eventually, stood at the door of my own home; watching my three children one by one leave home to start their own journey of life.

With each letting go came new beginnings; new people, new places and new things. My husband and I have moved on from our hometown to settle near our grown children and their families. We have joyously welcomed two daughter-in-laws and several grandchildren. Letting go has brought an abundance of love and instead of lessening, has added to our lives.

Our dog, Oscar, came into our lives when our first child and only daughter left home. He was an empty-nester puppy. He shared over sixteen years of our lives.

Letting go of children is a step by step process. First a mother lets go of the babe she holds in her arms as the child learns to walk, talk, and do things for him or herself. The small child turns into a preteen and teenager, needing their mother less and less, until one day, a fully grown adult is waving goodbye from the driver’s seat of a car. A mother has years of little “letting go’s” so that when the day comes when the child is a child no longer; there is some sadness, but there is much more pride and a sense of accomplishment. This is not so with a dog.

I compared Oscar to my guardian angel. He followed me everywhere. For sixteen and half years he was my shadow. Even when he ached with arthritis and was not well that last year, he rose with me every morning and followed me throughout my morning routine until I left for work. He never waivered in his devotion.

When Oscar turned ten, our vet told me he was considered a geriatric patient. He told me to look for signs and be prepared for a time when he had no “quality of life.” Oscar was a very healthy ten-year-old and I was not worried. I did ask the vet what “signs” would I look for. “He will no longer get up with you in the morning,” was the answer. After Oscar turned fifteen, I did notice a change. He moved slower and more cautiously. His hearing was gone and eyesight was not the greatest. But, every morning, he rose from his bed as soon as I rose from mine.

On November 4, 2020, I rose from my bed and Oscar was walking along side of me. He had been ill most of the year; frail and failing. I had looked for the sign, but Oscar refused to stop rising from his bed when I was up. I knew it was getting too much for him. An appointment had already been made for the end of the week for his goodbye. We never made it. That night, I awoke thinking I had heard Oscar walking on the side of my bed. When I looked over, he was not in his bed, nor at my side. I found him laying on the kitchen floor, dying. I yelled for my husband to join me, and quickly took Oscar into my arms. He died a few minutes later while I held him and thanked him for being the best doggie guardian angel. It was a most painful experience.

On November 5, 2020, I rose from my bed to face my morning routine alone. My little friend was no more.

Those first couple of months were hard. I shed many tears as I grieved and let go. I did know that I wanted another dog. I enjoyed my years with Oscar and began searching for a new little angel to add to our family. The search ended Sunday when little Archie was picked up by my husband and I from a havanese breeder in Texas.

Archie was born on Easter Sunday and he has resurrected my joy! I have already called him Oscar several times; old habits are hard to break! He is very different from Oscar. He is outgoing and always looking for trouble. He has my husband and I in stiches every day!

Life is a series of letting go – but it is also a series of new beginnings. Hearts mend and heal and find room for more to love.

I have the most wonderful memories of my Oscar. I am making new memories with Archie. (He is sleeping on my foot as I am typing this).

C’est Bon

Sherry

Archie, 4/4/2021

The Mary Tree of Pine Island

During Holy Week 1993, my husband and I and our three children, drove to the small Louisiana town of Pine Island to look at a tree. Word had spread that in a farmer’s rice field, in the middle of nowhere; a tree’s branches had grown into the image of the Virgin Mary and many were making pilgrimages to see this little miracle. We were curious and it was a lovely day for a drive.

We arrived in the early afternoon just as the sun was at its peak in the brightly lit blue sky. Our children were ages one to eight and were getting restless as we came to park our vehicle on the edge of a field. As I exited the vehicle, I was amazed by the sense of calm and stillness in the air. It seemed that we had stepped out of our world and into a spiritual realm that was steeped in peace and joy. The five of us stood near each other basking in the sun’s rays and soaking in the rays of peace and grace in silence. Even the one year old held his tongue and just watched.

Up ahead was the tree. The outline of the branches drew a clear picture in my mind of Our Lady of Grace. This was Cajun country, and there are thousands of homes with a Mary statue in the front yard. As I looked at the tree, I immediately thought of the many statues in my home town, placed lovingly in front of homes, in honor of our lady. I smiled as I gazed upon this creation that seemed divinely inspired.

Just ahead I spotted a group of women; most were holding rosary beads and praying. There was a thrown-together altar at the base of the tree with petitions and rosaries turned gold that were left behind. As we marveled at this site, a woman came over and invited us to look at the rosary she was holding. Rays of sunlight beat down on the tiny beads and the chain that was binding them glistened a golden color. We were told her rosary had turned the golden color while being prayed at the tree. She gladly answered some of our questions as she was a local and had frequented the site from the beginning.

A young woman had first spotted Mary in the tree a few months prior. The woman lived nearby and had looked out her kitchen window, gazing upon what seemed to be the Virgin Mary in a tree. The woman had been grieving the death of her father and the vision gave her comfort. Eventually, the family shared their discovery with others, and word spread…

While standing at the foot of the tree and gazing at the likeness of Mary, we heard a shriek of joy as another woman began to yell out “Jesus.” We followed the group of pilgrims over to her to see what was happening. She had just taken a Polaroid photo of the sun and was holding the picture that developed. It was a perfect photo of the Face of Jesus, in black and white, much like a negative. Tears were streaming down her face and someone told her to take another photo of the sun. Once again she held her camera up and took a picture of the sun. Once again, the Face of Jesus appeared on the developed photo!

What had I just witnessed? Immediately, I regretted not having brought a camera! I looked again at the photo, and there was no denying I saw a face. There was not only one photo, but before we left, there were multiple photos with an image that clearly seemed to be the Face of Jesus.

It was a moment in time that I have never forgotten. It was a moment where it seemed heaven had reached out and touched the earth.

Upon returning home from our short but eventful pilgrimage, my children turned on the television. A special regarding the Shroud of Turin was playing. Amazingly on the screen I saw that face again. The face of the shroud, in a black and white negative, was the face I saw appear on a Polaroid photo in Pine Island, Louisiana! It was a holy week like none other.

Eventually, the farmer cut the tree down. There would be no more pilgrimages, no messages, miracles or any other of the unusual experiences at Marion apparition sites. What was the purpose of the tree?

The first woman to notice the tree, felt it was a sign meant for her family regarding the death of her father. It may well have been an answer to this woman’s prayer for hope and healing. Once word got out and the tree site became a place of honoring our mother and prayer, it became a place of hope and healing for all. True to her ministry, Mary was able to greet us pilgrims and lead us to her Son.

We traveled on a sunny beautiful day to see Our Lady in a tree. We returned home with a beautiful memory of seeing the Face of Jesus.

C’est Bon!

My Spiritual Drink

For My Flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink. Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood remains in Me and I in him. John 6:55

This week I received a phone call from my Parish Church secretary telling me that starting May 1st I would once again be able to serve as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister. I last served about a year ago; prior to the pandemic. There were several months last year without public Mass. Once the church doors opened to the public, there were a very limited number of Eucharistic Ministers and only His Body was distributed. Still, it was a joyous occasion to once again be apart of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and partake of Christ’s Body.

I know that the Host I consume is all of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity; however, I find myself longing to also drink from His Spiritual Cup. A meal consist of food and drink. Christ asked His disciples to break bread and drink wine in memory of Him. It greatly saddens me that the Blood of Christ seems to be an afterthought, practically discarded as unnecessary and of less importance.

The times I have served as a Minister of the Eucharist, I have favored giving the Body of Christ. Most of the mass attendees receive the Host lovingly and respectfully, bowing before their Lord before stepping up to receive Him. This is not the case with our Lord’s Blood.

A few years ago, I was waiting to get in the communion line when my eyes settled on my Christ in the Chalice being held by an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister. My mind and heart were greatly troubled as I saw several people after receiving the Holy Host, bypass the Chalice without so much as a glance His way or a bow. After mass, I was relaying this to my husband, who was driving. I was adamant that Jesus was being dishonored and disrespected by the people not recognizing Him in His Chalice. My husband disagreed. He calmly told me that I was overreacting, (which I sometimes do). He reminded me that the Body of Christ contains all of Jesus as he added, “I see nothing wrong with people…” Suddenly he stopped speaking as the truck he was driving jerked as if my husband jammed his breaks! Just as fast as we were jolted to a stop, the truck again returned to a normal speed. All of this occurred without my husband’s foot ever leaving the gas pedal! Without missing a beat, my husband continued speaking, “…And I think you are absolutely right!”

I have heard people say that they do not drink from the Chalice because of the possibility of catching other people’s germs or sicknesses. I find it hard to believe that the vessel that holds my Lord could be contaminated. Just as Mary was made pure to hold Jesus in her womb, I believe any object that contains the Body and Blood of Christ must also be made pure and immaculate by the Holy Spirit.

I am very much looking forward to May and once again being able to give Christ to people. I also look forward to the day that I can also partake of Him in my Spiritual Drink. When that day comes, it is a choice whether or not to receive His Blood along with His Body. I ask that if one chooses to not receive the Chalice; they remember to be reverent while walking by. It is not wine that you are passing up, it is Jesus Christ Himself.

Then He took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body, which will be given up for your; do this in memory of Me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new convenant in My Blood, which will be shed for you.” Luke 22:19-20

Building Family and Faith

Many years ago, my children and I were spending the day at my parents’ home, (Maw-maw and Paw-paw), while my husband was busy at work. Paw-paw was busy building a folding camping table that day. My four-year-old, Brennan, stood nearby closely watching his grandfather measuring, sawing and nailing. My dad proudly showed off his carpentry skills for his grandson, who was thoroughly engrossed with the transformation of wood and nails into a fine piece of furniture. When the table was completed, my son ran over to me and Maw-maw and brought us over to see what his grandfather had accomplished. He boldly told his Paw-paw, “When my daddy grows up, he will be able to build too!” My husband drove up right at that moment as we were all chuckling over my son’s comment. He also got a big kick out of it!

This memory reminds me of St. Joseph. I can imagine Jesus as a little four-year-old boy watching his father work with wood; measuring, carving, and creating. As a young child, Jesus would have had that same wonderment as Brennan in seeing the transformation of wood into objects and furniture. He would have looked up to His father, St. Joseph, and would grow up learning the craft, assisting His father.

Not all men are skilled in carpentry, but all fathers are builders. It takes a loving and strong man to build his family, to protect them and guide them as spiritual leaders. St. Joseph is our model of a self-sacrificing husband and father. He did whatever was needed to keep his wife and Son safe, whether it meant finding shelter in a cave or fleeing for a strange land in the middle of the night. He was a man with tremendous faith and he built a Holy Family.

I grew up with a father who was a “jack-of-all-trades”. He could build and fix anything. I was the oldest of four girls and did not appreciate the many skills of my father when I was a girl. I thought at the time it was something all fathers could do. Seeing my father through my children’s eyes, I had a newfound appreciation of his creativity and craftsmanship. Today I look back at the times my father took on huge construction projects such as adding a third bedroom and utility room to our home and I realize he was not just building a home, he was showing his love for his wife and children. Taking time every Sunday to take our family to Mass and visit our grandparents, was my dad’s way of building faith in his family.

My wonderful husband is not a carpenter, but he is a builder. From the moment we left the church as man and wife, he has devoted his whole self and life to our marriage and family. My children, grandkids and I have always felt his love, devotion and protection. Years ago, he was involved with his boys as a football coach; today he leads his children and grandchildren in the rosary on first Fridays.

Looking back on that memory of Brennan, I do see now that his father did grow. We both grew as parents and now as grandparents. His father is a builder of family and of faith. I hope our grandkids look at us just as I saw Brennan look at my dad those years ago, with wonderment and with love.

Brennan with Paw-paw and Maw-maw

Preparation for the Storm

Southern Louisiana, Cajun country, gets its fair share of storms. As a child and into my adult years, I witnessed numerous tropical storms and thunderstorms, several hurricanes and a couple of tornadoes. Hurricane season was always a time to be mindful of the weather. As soon as a tropical storm or hurricane entered the Gulf of Mexico showing an inclination to head towards Louisiana, families along the Louisiana coast began to prepare. Homes and businesses would be boarded up and families not evacuating made sure supplies were on hand in the event of damage or power loss.

Today Louisiana is under a Winter Storm Watch. Beginning tomorrow, Cajun country will be pelted with freezing rain, ice and sleet. Temperatures are expected to dip into the teens as roads will likely become hazardous ice thoroughfares. It is all very unfamiliar territory for this part of the world, where winters are mild and freezing temperatures are rare. Watching the weather forecast today reminded me of my first winter storm many years ago.

I was a young Navy wife and mother of two, who had been uprooted from south Louisiana to Norfolk, Virginia, where my husband was stationed. My husband was out to sea when I heard reports on the radio to prepare for a winter storm coming that weekend. I had never heard those words before, and I thought it would be quite an experience to see a true winter wonderland. I told my little ones they would be in for a treat and went off to the grocery store to prepare.

Having never experienced blizzard or ice conditions, I never had to prepare for such an experience. I had heard to expect being snowed in for a couple of days. I thought a big pot of chili would do nicely to keep the three of us warm and fed. My shopping consisted of chili ingredients and picking up any other items the pantry was lacking. It was Friday and the storm was hitting that night.

After tucking my daughter, Hallie and son, Chase into bed that night, I laid on the couch and watched television. The house was cozy. The dark living room was softly lit with the flame from the wall furnace. Looking outside the window, I could see the freezing rain falling through the light of the streetlamp. Before retiring to bed, I watched the late-night local news broadcast. The first news item was the winter storm approaching. News reporters were stationed at local stores and covered people buying batteries, flashlights, blankets, etc., in preparation for the storm. I immediately sat up on the sofa and listened intently to the warning of ice buildup and strong winds which could lead to power outages. What – power outages? I felt so foolish! I had never considered the possibility of losing power! I was from Louisiana, where winter did not have storms!

I looked out of my window again. The rain had turned to sleet and snow would be arriving soon. There was nothing I could do but say a prayer that God would take care of us. I quietly made my way to bed and put everything in God’s hands. I heard the winds howling as I fell asleep.

The next morning, upon awakening, I looked out of my bedroom window and was shocked to see a thick white blanket of snow everywhere! The house was still warm and cozy, so power was still on. I quickly woke the kids up and had them feast their eyes on a winter wonderland, the likes I had never in my lifetime seen!

The morning was spent playing in the snow and building a snowman. We had no snowman accessories so we made a snow witch topped with my daughter’s Halloween witch hat. My children were not all together thrilled with snow and upon getting back inside to the warmth of our kitchen, they refused to return outside. The rest of the day was spent cooking chili, reading stories and every now and then taking a peek out the window to view God’s handiwork.

My husband got the biggest kick out of hearing how his wife prepared for a winter storm by buying chili ingredients! As we sat in our living room today watching the weather forecast, he reminded me of my first winter storm those many years ago. We are more prepared today for an ice event. We have also learned over the years that ultimately, God is in charge.

St. Padre Pio once wrote in a letter, “Let us be on the look-out for even the slightest symptom of anxiety, and as soon as we notice that we have fallen into discouragement let us turn to God with a child’s trust and total abandonment.”

Temperatures outside are dropping and the morning will bring sleet and freezing rain followed by another sharp drop in the temperature. I received a text message from my utilities provider warning of possible power outages. I smile at the message and say a prayer to my Father in heaven to take care of us Cajuns, who are inexperienced with winter storms and are preparing with gumbos and stews! I must go now, my beef stew is about done!

C’est Bon!

Love, Sherry

Hallie, Blizzard 1989, Virginia