This Little Church of Mine

My first memory of attending mass is probably Easter Sunday at the age of three or four.  I had a pretty dress, bonnet, little white gloves, and shiny white shoes.  The church was full and so my parents and I stood in the rear gathering area.  I was very pleased with my Easter outfit and paid little attention to the Word of God.  A few years later in that same church, I was again enthralled with a lace white dress and veil as I knelt at the communion railing and received my first communion.  Once again, I did not appreciate the moment, but looked forward to cake and presents.

Year after year, each Sunday I attended mass with my family.  Eventually I married in the Catholic Church.  It was a beautiful mass and ceremony.  As a young bride, I was focused on my dress, flowers, groom, and reception to follow.  In the years to follow, my husband and I had three children who were all raised in the Catholic faith and who were all busy with extracurricular activities.  We did not always make Sunday mass and thought little of it at the time.  Life was busy and we felt “God understood”.

Gradually and thankfully, the Holy Spirit worked on my husband and I and we were given the grace to realize the importance of mass attendance and the sacraments.  As we grew to understand the meaning behind the mass, we grew to love attending mass.  We wanted to give more of ourselves to our Savior who gave all of Himself for us.  When we were asked by our parish priest to help mentor engaged couples we jumped at the opportunity to share our story with other couples.  It was our hope that the young couples we welcomed into our home would come to appreciate our faith, traditions and sacraments from the moment they would begin their life as man and wife.  The mass, family rosaries, and adoration were now an important part of our lives.  It was important to share with others the abundance of joy our faith brought into our lives.  It was our gift to the Giver of all gifts!

Then along came covid 19!  Never in all my 55 years did I ever consider it possible that our beloved church would be locked and closed to the public.  As faithful Catholics, my husband and I felt a little lost on Sundays.  We had to adjust to a new normal of watching mass on the TV or computer, spiritual communion, and group messaging family rosaries.   Our home became “our little domestic church”.

We moved into our current home about six years ago.  At that time, I decided to create an altar in my living area and bedroom.  On these altars I placed statues, pictures, icons, Bible, etc. to remind all that came through our door that Jesus is the center of our home and family.

Pope John Paul II said, “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church.”  He also said, “As the domestic church, the family is summoned to proclaim, celebrate, and serve the Gospel of life.  This is a responsibility which first concerns married couples, called to be givers of life, on the basis of an ever greater awareness of the meaning of procreation as a unique event which clearly reveals that human life is a gift received in order then to be given as a gift.”

The last few months have been hard.  The loss of the mass and sacraments have only made our love for them and Jesus grow.  We look forward to the time when the churches are all open and full to capacity again.  This past Easter celebration was rather different and difficult for I am no longer the little girl who basked in the beauty of my Easter outfit; I wanted to feel the presence of My Lord and Savior.  Good Friday was a solemn day.  My husband and I watched the 3:00 service, fasted and waited for the Easter Vigil mass.  We filled our altar with candles and lit them one by one during the Vigil mass as we celebrated His Resurrection.  We felt His presence and His love and we knew that in the midst of all the chaos and confusion of these days, God is in charge!

Jesus, we trust in YOU!

 

Not the Plant Lady

My mom and dad had the green thumb.  In fact, they had green fingers and hands too!  Our little home had citrus trees and flowers.  Dad planted a garden each season and his vegetables were famous for their size and taste.  Mom took great care in the front flower beds to have attractive roses, four-o’clocks, lilies and irises. Her flowers were always a beautiful setting for Mom’s statues of our Blessed Mother, other saints and Jesus.   While growing up, I watched these plants become fertile and produce year after year; not realizing the care and work involved in maintaining a garden.  I never fully appreciated the fruits of my parents’ labor or their hard work and patience with nature.

I married a wonderful man.  He is a great husband and spiritual leader of the family.  He is not a gardener.  And lo and behold, I did not receive the green thumb gene!  In the early days of our marriage, my attempts at keeping a house plant alive were indeed a challenge!  I tried a few times, and after a few failures, I decided, “who needs plants anyway?”.

So, we bought vegetables at the market.  Sometimes we were given some by my dad, who maintained a garden into his seventies.  If I wanted flowers, I bought them at market.  I told myself they were even prettier than if I had grown them myself.  All was well in my non-green world…until six years ago.

Six years ago, my children were grown and on their own.  We had two grandchildren and my husband and I decided to make the move from our home town to Youngsville, Louisiana to be closer to our family.  It was our first time living in a neighborhood with a HOA. There are rules requiring flower beds.  We did not panic… our flower beds have azaleas and other perennials that require minimum maintenance.  Our backyard is fenced in and private with trees and a pasture in the rear.  As I sat on my back patio during my first year in the new home, a thought popped into my head that I really needed a fig tree.  My favorite fruit has always been figs.  I grew up with them in the back yard and so the tree also held some fond memories of being young and carefree.

I expressed my desire to plant a fig tree to my husband.  His words said, “sure, we will get one.”, but his eyes said, “what are you thinking?”.  Each year since, during planting season, I would remind my husband that we had agreed to plant a fig tree in the back yard.  Each year his words said, “yes we will”, while I saw in his face that planting anything went against all his beliefs and convictions.  It was enough to have to mow, trim and weed the darn flower beds that we are forced to maintain, I am sure was going through his mind.  Each spring we sat on the back patio and enjoyed the quiet, the birds, the breeze, but not a flower or fruit in sight, until Mother’s Day a couple of years ago.

On a beautiful mother’s day, my son and daughter-in-law showed up at my home with a gardenia as my present.  I knew nothing about gardenias.  My son’s beautiful wife had a grandfather who was a rose expert, and she has inherited her family’s love and skill of horticulture.  I felt enormous pressure as I imagined planting this lovely gardenia in my back yard only to see it wither away as had all my other attempts at gardening.  The Plant Lady, I am not!  It was such a lovely gift and my son married such a lovely woman, that I had to plant that gardenia and it just had to live and bloom! I did not want to let her down!  I did my research.  I spent the next day reading all about gardenias and their needs.  I spent the next few days looking for the perfect spot in my yard that was not too sunny and not too shady.  The following weekend, my husband and I got the very clean shovel out of the garage, dug a hole and planted the flowering bush.  We watered it and we were both pleasantly surprised when we felt quite accomplished. We were rooting for the little fellow to make it!

Summer months came, (extremely hot in southern Louisiana), and we took turns watering our little gardenia.  Winter came and the gardenia was still alive.  Snow actually fell that winter, (a very small amount), and we feared that it would not survive.  Our fears gave away to excitement as early spring found little blossoms on our gardenia.  I took pictures of them like they were our children!  These delicate white blossoms  were the fruits of our love and care.  Once again, I reminded my husband that we had not planted our fig tree.  Once again I was told that we would get that tree real soon….

Fast forward to today.  This morning I walked out into the back yard with our dog, Oscar, and was thrilled to see our little gardenia full of blossoms.  The yard smelled heavenly!  It brought such a smile to my face and heart!  I gathered a few flowers and set them in a vase so that my home would be filled with their sweet fragrance.  My husband walked into the room; I showed him my bouquet and boldly proclaimed, “today, we are getting that fig tree!”.  My joy at that moment wore down his years of hesitation.  Lo and behold, this afternoon we drove up to our house with a fig tree!  And not just any fig tree, it is a LSU Purple Fig Tree!  (Big LSU fans here) Tomorrow we plant the fig tree.  I cannot wait to see what it will produce.

I am starting to get into this plant stuff.  I think I will make a Mary garden around the little gardenia.  Perhaps some roses, four-o’clocks, lilies and irises.  My poor husband!

Cest Bon!

Love,

Sherry

 

 

 

Grieving the Green-Eyed Monster


It was a beautiful day.  The kind of day that just brings a smile to your face when you first walk out the door.  My husband and I set out for a full day of insurance inspections on a beautiful, sunny March morning.  After over thirty years of marriage and many of that spent apart due to our different professions which required traveling; we appreciated the time we now spent working together.

The first inspection of the day was a home not far from our own home.  In just a few minutes we arrived and knocked at the door of a nicely kept brick home.  An older woman hesitantly opened the door and looked at us nervously with large brown eyes.  I quickly explained who we were and the purpose of our visit.  She smiled and walked outside, noticeably more at ease.  Her name was Vivian and she spent a few minutes answering our questions before we set out to take photographs and attain measurements.

Vivian was chatting with her neighbor when my husband and I stepped into her backyard and noticed a cute little building.  We had to ask Vivian if this was an apartment or just a cute storage shed.  She graciously walked over to her back fence and lovingly looked at the cute building in her backyard.  She explained that was indeed a storage shed and had stored flooring tools for her late husband.  “My husband was a floor man,” said Vivian.  “He laid flooring until the day he retired  I just don’t have the heart to clear out the shed.”  The smile left her face and her eyes welled up with tears.

My husband and I stood by quietly as Vivian began sharing her love story.  We learned that her husband was tragically killed in a car accident.  He kissed her good-bye one morning and never returned.  Tears were now streaming down her face as she relived that day.  There was a tremendous pain in her heart because she never saw him again.  She was told his body was too mangled and broken up.  The casket was closed, but her love and longing for him never did have closure.

Her eyes stayed on that shed, but her heart and mind was with her true love.  We told her we were so sorry for her loss.  She seemed to remember that we were there; she turned and looked at us and smiled through her tears.  I told Vivian that we were Catholics and we believed that our bodies do die, but the soul lives on forever.  She told us that she too was a Catholic.  My husband told Vivian that praying together as a family always helps us in our despair; especially praying the rosary.  She nodded and told him that she loved saying her rosary.  She wiped her face as she told us about her wonderful supportive family.

Her mood changed as she then told us that she had been married for 53 years!  Wow!  They had met at a dance.  Vivian’s face lit up as she recalled the day.  She said she had spotted him from across the dancefloor and told a friend with her, “That is the kind of man I want to marry!”  Her friend happened to know him and introductions were made.  She laughed as she described her late husband as her “green-eyed monster.”  She bragged that he had the most gorgeous green eyes and one big black brow.  The next time she was out, she saw him again.  That time she decided that she would get her “green-eyed monster”.

She was laughing, smiling, and crying all at the same time at these memories.  She got her green-eyed monster and had many happy years of wedded bliss.  She told us that they were never wealthy, but were comfortable and had a good life.

The smile left as she once again looked at his shed.  “I just want him to come home to me,” she cried.  “I don’t feel like living without him.”

It broke our hearts and we held back tears.  We had only just met this woman, yet we felt like she was family.  We wanted so much to ease her pain and take away her suffering, but that was impossible.  The love of her life was departed and she will hurt until she meets him on the other side.

I gently asked her how long had it been since her husband’s accident.  I was expecting her to tell me it had been a few months.  Her answer nearly knocked me over.  “Eight years.”, said Vivian.

EIGHT YEARS!  “Vivian”, I said, “you are living proof that love never dies.”  She laughed at that.  I asked her if she had any grandchildren and  found out that she had several.  I told her that she truly had a blessed life and with all the children and grandchildren the Lord had given her; she still had many blessings in her life.  She agreed.

We both thanked her for sharing her story with us.  She invited us to stop by and visit if we were ever in the area.  My husband told her that we would pray for her while saying our rosary and she smiled and thanked him.

After Vivian retreated back  into her home, my husband and I quickly and silently finished our job.  We climbed into our vehicle once we finished and finally allowed a few tears to fall.  She had touched us so deeply.  She had reminded us that life on this earth is short.  A husband and wife joined in holy matrimony is indeed a celebration of life and a blessing from God.  She also taught us that complete strangers can have such an important message, if one just takes the time to listen.

We drove to our next job holding hands.  I looked over at my wonderful husband and noticed how his green eyes sparkled.

 

Love and Marriage

258-MEGAN_CHASE_WEDDINGIn 2014, my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary and also celebrated my parents’ 50th!

2015 started with a wedding.  Our son was married in the Catholic church in January to a beautiful woman.  It was an awesome sight to see the generations of grandparents, parents and children sharing in this beautiful and life-giving sacrament.

Weddings have changed over the years!  My parents wedding was very simple. She had a maid of honor and he had a best man.  Our wedding had a couple of more attendants, but was still simple.  There were no engagement parties, dinners, registries, wedding planners…the list goes on and on.

The focus back then was on the sacrament.

As I watched my son’s bride being escorted down the aisle in the gorgeous St. John’s Cathedral; I realized that the very heart of the wedding for our family had not changed.  The bride’s father escorted her up the center aisle towards her future husband, towards Our Lord and His altar.  It was before Our Lord that these two young people took their wedding vows.  They received the Lord’s blessing and were joined in Holy Matrimony.

My son and his wife expressed their gratitude to our Blessed Mother by presenting roses in front of her statue.  I felt love and pride for the man my son had become and accepted a rose from him knowing my job was done.  He was no longer only my son – he was now a husband.  His job is now being the spiritual head of his family and that means making sure his wife and future children leave this world prepared to enter into God’s Kingdom.

He is off to a good start.

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry

392-MEGAN_CHASE_WEDDING

God gave me You

weddingOn the morning of August 18, 1984, I walked into St. Peter’s Catholic Church and down the center aisle on the arm of my father, a single woman.  I walked back down that center aisle and out of that church on the arm of my new husband.  I had a new name and a new purpose in life.

That was 30 years ago today.  Three kids and two grandkids later; I continue to marvel at the gift God gave me that day!  It has taken me many years to see God’s Hand in my marriage; but I see it clearly now.

Our oldest son is preparing to marry in January.  He and his fiancée had lunch with my husband and I over the weekend.  They told us about their compatibility test as one of the marriage preparation duties.  We laughed.  I remarked that I think we would have flunked a compatibility test.  My husband was quick to add that it seemed to him that we never agreed upon anything.  It is true we are very different personalities;  but, we are different in only that we complete each other.  Where I am weak, my husband is strong; and where he is weak, I fill in.  On matters that are really important, faith and family, we have always seen eye to eye.  We each took our vows to heart before each other and before God.  Raising our children was our number one priority for most of our married life.  We have finished that job and move onto a new path in our journey together.

The journey has not been easy.  There are many storms of life.  I have learned that if a married couple humbles themselves and choose to have faith in God, they can weather these storms and become stronger because of them.  My faith and my marriage have taught me that we must be accepting of God’s plan for our lives and be truly thankful for all our Blessings.  We are all called to follow Jesus on the road to a Heavenly Jerusalem.  I am very lucky that I was asked to bring along a very special man on my journey.  We are not perfect, but we love each other and we love our Lord.  Our most important task in life is to get each other and our children to Heaven.

Thank you Lord for the gift of my spouse.  He has been a wonderful husband and father.  I look forward to the next thirty years with this special man.  We will continue to walk our path of life together, hoping to give You Glory forever. Amen.

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry

 

A mother’s prayer

weddingTwenty-seven years ago this day, my eldest son was born.  He came into the world on the feast day of St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus.  He was given a middle name after my father, Christopher.  He was our first son and both our parents’ first grandson.  He rose to the occasion!

He was a curious and talkative child with a kind heart and big personality.  He made friends with everyone.  I watched him grow and mature into a handsome (no, I’m not just saying that because I’m his mother), confident and faith-filled young man.  He was taught values according to our Catholic faith and he lives that faith.

He has always been a hard worker and has exceled at just about every endeavor he has put his mind to.  From the teenage band to elocution contest to football and powerlifting… he went on to graduate from college and begin a successful career.  Sounds like he has it all…but as a mother, you know when something is missing.  That something turned out to be a young lady named Megan.

A year ago my husband and I took a pilgrimage to Caritas Birmingham, Alabama.  My focus for this pilgrimage was to consecrate my family, especially my children to Mary.  Nine days prior to arriving at Caritas Birmingham, I began a novena, saying a special consecration prayer for my children.  I had not told my husband of the novena.  When we arrived on the ninth day, we visited the chapel, which had a beautiful Mary room.  There was a life size statue of Mary with a sand box in front, in which candles could be lit and placed.  I grabbed a candle to light.  My husband quickly told me that I should light three candles, one for each of our children.  After lighting the candles and placing them at the feet of Mary, my husband stated, “you just gave your children to Mary”.

I was overjoyed!  I excitedly told my husband, “That is my novena!”  I took out my prayer booklet and opened it up to the prayer I had prayed for the last eight days and we stood there together in front of our mother and said the ninth prayer together.  I instantly felt a connection and peace in my heart.  Mary would be praying and interceding for the intentions in my heart concerning my children.

About a month after our return, my son called to inform me that he had met someone special.  They became engaged last month and will marry in the Catholic church in January, 2015.

Her name, Megan, means pearl.  And like a pearl she is a rare and valuable treasure.  She is gorgeous on the inside as well as the outside.  She was raised with the same morals and values as my son and loves her Catholic faith.

Christopher means “he who holds Christ in his heart”.  My son who has Christ in his heart has made room for a precious pearl.  May God bless them during their engagement and bless their marriage.

I gave my children to Mary…and she gave me a precious daughter.

Happy Birthday son!

C’est Bon!

Love,

Mom

Be a Warrior

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is suddenly “inappropriate” for Christians to express their beliefs in public if it contradicts the new social norms of society.  I am sorry, but I have morals and beliefs based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.  My Catholic faith is sound and comprised of church doctrines that are two thousand years old.  Some may say the teachings are outdated.  I say the truth never stops being the truth.

On November 12, 1991, Jesus appeared to Nancy Fowler in Conyers, Georgia with this message: “My laws surpass man’s laws.  My laws are for all time, for all people, for all nations.  Man tries to distort and bend My laws to fit their individual sinful lives.  I do not bow down to man’s laws.  It is man who should bow down to My laws”.

We live in a country founded on moral foundations of liberty.  Religion and speech are protected by our constitution.  As Christians following the ways of Jesus Christ, we have an obligation to speak out His truths and spread His messages.  Why are Christians being shunned and admonished for expressing their personal religious beliefs?

Yes, all people are created equal.  Yes, all people should have equal rights and protections.  Does this mean that the definition of marriage – which has always been defined as man and woman – should change?  It does not.  If that is the case, then why not allow multiple wives or husbands?  Where will this end?

Acts 10:34 Peter “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis.  Those who  fear Him and do what is right are acceptable to Him no matter what race they belong to.”

Stand up for your beliefs.  Do not be afraid to speak the truth.

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry