Deacon Hector's Annual March for Life

Deacon_Hector_Raymond

Deacon Hector Raymond goes to Washington every year to join the March for Life. He is the 12th of 12 children in our family and is particularly grateful that our parents did not give up too soon. He is not too "in your face" about the absolute value and dignity of every human person conceived by God in the womb of every mother. However, along with Blessed Mother Teresa, he knows that "the greatest threat to peace in the world is abortion."

Lord, help every baptized Christian to be open to the Holy Spirit and bear witness to the sanctity of Life. {1st Luminous Mystery, The Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan}.

Lord, help all husbands and wives to treasure the priceless gift of married love by generously accepting children through procreation and adoption. {2nd Luminous Mystery, The Wedding at Cana}.

Lord, let every person who prays and works for greater respect for human life be guided by the Beatitudes and reveal the Face of Christ to others. {3rd Luminous Mystery, the Proclamation of the Kingdom}.

Lord, continue to transfigure our world by the witness of faithful Christians so that all may come to know the priceless value of every human being. {4th Luminous Mystery, The Transfiguration}.

Lord, through our worthy reception of the Eucharist and frequent Eucharistic Adoration, may Jesus teach us all to love sacrificially the least and neediest among us. {5th Luminous Mystery, The Institution of the Holy Eucharist}.

 

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You Lack Only One Thing

Pope-Francis-Philippines-2015

The Catholic news this weekend was all about Pope Francis and his visit to the Philippines. I enjoy following the news of the Pope’s travels to the various countries he visits … listening to his talks and homilies and seeing how the people respond to him. 

This trip I found to be extraordinary as Pope Francis paused to pray, in the midst of heavy rain, for the victims of the typhoon a year ago, for the young woman volunteer from CRS who died when scaffolding fell on her and for the youth of the church.

It was very touching when a young girl from the streets asked Pope Francis why children have to suffer. The Pope’s response is a challenge for all of us. Only when we too can cry about the things you said can we come close to answering that question. If you do not learn how to cry, you cannot be a good Christian … be courageous and don’t be afraid to cry.

He went on to answer a question from a civil law student who asked whether in an era of social media, we no longer know the meaning of love. Pope Francis warned about information overload and the use of media. He said the most important thing we have to learn in life is how to love and how to be loved. The language of the mind, heart and hands is important. He asked us to remember these words: Think, Feel, Do.

The final question was about reconciling career with service. Pope Francis reminded us about the God of surprises. He said we are to pay special attention to the poor. We need to learn from the poor, coming to know their own poverty and their need to receive. He said if we can live in humility with the poor, we will be evangelized by them. It is good for us to serve them but we have to be mindful that we receive much from them. We need to learn how to receive with humility … to learn to beg.

He asked these two questions: Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve? Do we ask the poor to share their wisdom with us?

Pope Francis once again places challenges before us to grow closer in our faith, to live as Jesus did and to bring the Word of God to life every time we encounter someone who is crying, in need of help or hurting. 

Are we ready to learn from the poor?  Are we ready to be evangelized by the poor? Are we ready to live the three words – Think, Feel, Do?

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Topics: philipines, Pope-Francis

New Year's Resolution

new-year-reflection

It's January and we can feel cold and alone at the beginning of a new year.

As the year progresses many of us make resolutions to lose weight, to quit smoking, to exercise more and to work diligently. There may even be a New Year’s resolution to pray more and, a real stretch, to pray as a family.

Of all the resolutions I can think of, I think the best for me is to deepen the experience of encountering Christ in Prayer, in community, in Church, in work, in the arts and entertainment, and in custody of the little acre of the world entrusted to me.

Do you have a New Year’s resolution you want to share? I would love to hear about it, especially if it can help families to get to know our Lord better in 2015.

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Topics: new-year, prayer, resolutions

2015, January With a Grateful Heart

Greatful Heart

During the Christmas season there are many opportunities to view the movie "It's a Wonderful Life".  Over the course of my life I couldn't begin to count the number of times I have enjoyed this film.  Most times it leaves me pondering what a difference my life might have made so far.

In preparing for the New Year what came to me in prayer was how many people have made a profound difference in my life.  Retrospectively, I began to recount them from my earliest days.  Some of these people have gone to their reward like my grandfather and my sixth grade teacher who supported me during such a difficult time.

There were several who made a difference because they didn't like me a bit or misunderstood me.  Others challenged me to rise above my faults and fears.  Many along the way supported me in my various ministries.  And of course there is my husband who is above and beyond my greatest fan and support and who loves me, unbelievably, with his unconditional love.

The more I reflected, the more individuals came to mind.  Some who were extremely important to my life at specific times are only grateful memories and have moved on in their own lives as I have in mine. With others, our relationships have changed over time but we are still close and they are even more precious and continue to impact my life.

As I begin this New Year, I want each to know that I remember them with gratitude and to remind them that they are forever part of the fabric of my life in whatever way I can, with love, prayer and gratitude.

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Mary, Did You Know...


 

Dear Friends,

In this Christmas Season, 2014, my favorite Christmas Carol has become “Mary Did you know” sung by Pentatonix. The Lyrics by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene are only two decades old. Still, I believe this beautiful Carol performs the amazing feat of pulling us into the world of mystery and beauty that God shares with us this season. “Mary did you know” dramatically blesses us with the joy of Mary as she discovers the difference her Divine and Human Son makes in our world. HE FILLS US WITH JOY! For this reason, Christmas brings hope to the despondent, peace to the troubled and unity to divided families. Jesus is Alive! Mary is alive! And they know that our world is alive with joy, hope, peace and unity. Remember, if you and your family wish to experience the joy and difference that Jesus makes all you have to do is pray together as a family. The family that prays together stays together. Through Mary’s prayer of the Rosary Jesus renews our hope, fills us with peace and unites us to his own Holy Family. All you have to do is pray and you also will know the difference Jesus makes. May God bless you and your family with profound Joy this Christmas Tide.

 

Fr. Willy Raymond, CSC

Holy Cross Family Ministries

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Topics: Christmas, Mary, song, Jesus

Walking with God’s Children

Childrens-Rosary-Group-at-Father-Peyton-Center-2014During this holy season of Advent we find ourselves waiting to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus.

This time of the year can be stressful as we are busy buying gifts, going to parties, preparing the house for company and arranging trips to visit relatives and friends. It can be anything but peaceful or joyful. There may be many moments of frustration and anxiety as we try to get everything done on our list … and perhaps run into several roadblocks or obstacles along the way!

Yet we try to attend Mass during the week or say a prayer around the Advent wreath to help us prepare for Christmas. Even with these good intentions, we may find ourselves falling short in taking the time we need to prepare our hearts for the birth of the Christ Child.

In anticipation of Christmas, members of the Children’s Rosary Group  spent a prayerful afternoon at the Father Peyton Center.

The children and parents, grandparents and members of the various parishes from around the local area came together to learn about the importance of intercessory prayer and why as Catholics we pray to saints and loved ones who have gone before us.

The group was eager to learn about the life of Servant of God Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. , how he asked the Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for him when he was sick and how he was cured of tuberculosis. They also learned about how he traveled around the world telling people about the importance of family prayer, especially the praying of the Rosary, and about our Blessed Mother Mary.

The children wrote letters to children in another country, made Rosaries and prayed the Rosary as part of their activities. We also talked about Advent and learned about the meaning of the Advent wreath.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was when then children started to name the flags of the various countries where Holy Cross Families Ministries is active in family prayer, especially the praying of the Rosary. The children, parents, grandparents and parishioners concluded their time together with some delicious hot chocolate and cookies.

It was such a powerful witness to see these children praying the Rosary, doing something for children in another country and spending prayerful time together in anticipation of the Christmas Season.

If you have had a special experience with your children while preparing for the birth of the Christ Child, please share with us. We would like to hear about it from you.

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Topics: Advent, Christmas, rosary

Another Viewpoint

pregnancyWhen Joseph realized Mary was pregnant he wasn’t sure what to do. The angel assured him that he should take Mary as his wife but what would this birth mean? How was he to father this holy child?

For years I prepared first time pregnant couples to have their infants baptized.

Although it should have been obvious, it took time for me to realize that the pregnancy was not all about the mother.

In our programs we asked each parent to write down their feelings and concerns regarding the child about to be born. Then they were to share these with their spouses. After a while the couples were free to share with the group. Each couple found they had completely different concerns.

Moms were worried about the birth, their parents and their bodies. They also feared they would not really be able to care for the child, and would their husbands be able to share the responsibilities.

Dads were concerned about finances; how would they make it while mom was out of work, and would they be able to pay for childcare. They also feared their wife would be so involved with the child that they would be forgotten. Already everything was about the mom and they more or less played second or perhaps third fiddle.

It’s nice to hear couples today saying, “We’re pregnant!” It makes it even more obvious that this is the creation of a new entity … a family.

The mother shows in every way that a new life is on the way … but let’s remember that each child has a father with his own feelings and concerns.

May couples be able to honestly share their individual concerns with each other and establish this as a habit. May grandparents also be attuned to their need to support the couple relationship just as much as they support the new infant.

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Topics: Mary, family, Joseph

Treasured Gifts

st-andre-bessette

Grandparents are a true treasure.

In my case, I had a grandmother who brought 12 children of her own into this world!

She taught neighborhood children the catechism and the prayers needed to prepare for First Communion in addition to teaching her own children.

She collected statues of saints. My grandfather once said he was ashamed of getting undressed in his own bedroom in front of all the saints' images she had accumulated!

Among my grandmother’s favorites was Brother André Bessette, C.S.C. , the Miracle Worker of Mount Royal.

Thank God for grandparents who pass on the faith and love with such grace!

Keep the focus on faith and love during this holy season. Don’t forget to check out our new Advent and Christmas web app daily. It’s our special gift for you and your family.

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Topics: Advent, Christmas, saints, family

One Who is Truly Free

Feast-day-Immaculate-Conception-Mary

 

What would it be like to be free? 

I don´t mean the cheap kind of freedom they try to sell us - to be able to do anything you want anytime - but rather to be really free:

  • To enter relationships and make decisions without the baggage we all carry that mostly comes from our pride and insecurity.
  • To be able to love others without counting the cost and expecting return, knowing that this is what makes us really happy, not our possessions.

  • To be so open to God´s presence that you know that His love is all around you, so, no matter what, you don´t have to be anxious and afraid.

What is this like? Look at Mary Immaculate.

We tend to have a reduced idea of the Immaculate Conception, thinking it refers in the first place to Mary´s purity and chastity. That is important, but our vision needs to be much bigger.

Christians have always seen in Mary the greatest model of holiness after Christ Himself. So important has this been that it took a long time to find a way to express this well. The dogma was defined for the whole Church only in 1854, but the belief in that Mary was totally “full of grace” has been part of our belief since God Himself called her so, through the mouth of the Angel Gabriel.

We believe that she was saved by Christ, as are you and I, but in her case, she was conceived sinless and spared even effects of original sin that plague the rest of us. Then, she never sinned. Thus, finally one person would be able to respond to God´s total YES, His gift of Himself, with another total YES and so the Word would be made flesh in her. 

THAT is true freedom - to be able to choose what is good and beautiful! Further hers was a whole life in that freedom to the point that Christ made her our mother too who can help us to be free also, in very real ways.

Holy and Beautiful Mother Mary, Full of Grace, help us to love freely, help us to live in freedom.

 

 

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Topics: Mary, freedom, feast-day

Reaching Out

support-during-difficult-time

Through her own dogged determination and commitment to her studies in high school, Lily received several scholarships for a prestigious college. She was the first in her family to attend college and her parents could see her promising future.

When she returned for her second year and found herself pregnant she was understandingly overwhelmed. She grew up in a staunchly Catholic family and had no doubt that even though it would be difficult, her parents would support her during the pregnancy. She knew the college made no provision for students in her situation.

Though it was painful, she explained the situation to her parents when she went home for Christmas. What an utter shock it was that they wanted her to have an abortion.

She grew up knowing her family supported life. She never doubted she would have the baby. Her parents felt that for the good of her future, she must continue college or lose her scholarship. In their minds, there was no alternative.

In Lily’s mind, she was between a rock and a hard place. She had figured she would only have to miss one semester and she could give the child up for adoption. Her parents not only would not support her decision, they made an appointment for her to have an abortion and took her to the site.

Lily felt she had no choice in the matter.

When Mary heard the news of her pregnancy, she was off to visit Elizabeth whom she knew would understand the momentousness of her gift and provide the support she needed. This was not true in Lily’s case.

The unforeseen ramifications for this family, unfortunately, were that Lily could not recover from her parent’s decision nor from the abortion. She quit college and became somewhat of a lost soul and estranged from her family. It took her years to find her place and voice again.

May each of us be more open and welcoming to those who need love and support during difficult times. May more colleges who profess life, make provisions for single parents on the campuses so girls aren’t forced into such decisions.

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Topics: support, Mary, the visitation

The Unexpected News

THE_NEWS-1When Mary woke up this particular morning, being pregnant was most likely the last thing on her mind. And then the Angel came…

In this day when so many people are actually planning to start a family, we must surely be cognizant of how many women suddenly become aware of an unexpected pregnancy. So many times this news is not welcomed. A pregnancy and an infant will change the life of a woman, married or not.

Decisions must be made and among these decisions a woman must face might just be the decision to abort the child. We must understand and appreciate the fact that society has made this choice apparently quite simple. Yet there is nothing simple about keeping a baby or not. It’s important to remember that women making these decisions are not evil and are going through a tremendous amount of turmoil.

Though we believe abortion is not an acceptable alternative, we need to respect the fact that the decision is, for the most part, not made callously.

How much support is a woman given? What are her fears? What is she envisioning? In our materialistic and throw-away culture, how much do we actually support life in all its forms?

So, as Mary accepted the mission to become Mother, may we remember all the newly pregnant around us. Let us offer prayer and support to them. May we not just encourage them to have the baby but continue to offer support as the infant is born and grows. May we fight for social conditions which are more inviting to new life. And may we pray every day for those who suffer with their decisions without being judgmental.

 

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Topics: Mary, family, The Annunciation

A Most Unusual Holy Site

map-Bethlehem-Milk-Grotto

 

One of the most unusual sites to visit in the Holy Land has to be the Milk Grotto of the Virgin Mary. This little Church commemorates the cave where the Holy Family stopped on the Flight into Egypt.

The tradition has it that Mary stopped to nurse the child and accidentally spilled some milk on the stones which immediately turned milk white in color and remain milky white to this day.

Coming from a family of twelve, I know that eleven of the twelve were nursed at the breast by my mother. She was too ill to nurse my brother, Octave, at the time of his birth.

This cave reminded me of the maternal care that only women in their special tenderness can give us. It also reminds me of the maternal care that Mary has for all her children entrusted to her by Jesus at the foot of the Cross. 

Have you ever visited the Milk Grotto of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem?

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Topics: Mary, inspiration, holy-land

The Common Bond of a Special Devotion to Saint Joseph

stained-glass-window-saint-Andre-Bessette-3The late Mayor Tom Menino and Saint Brother André Bessette , C.S.C. had something in common. A devotion to Saint Joseph. Brother André said, “Go to Joseph! He is a powerful friend in heaven!” Mayor Menino prayed the Prayer to Saint Joseph for Families every day.

Prayer to Saint Joseph for Families
Joseph, strengthen in our family every bond of love which unites us—the marriage bond, the love of parent and child, the bond of mutual love among us all.
Joseph, protect our family from every danger from without and from every threat to peace, unity and harmony within.
Joseph, teach us to be kind and loving to one another, careful for one another, tolerant of one another, forgiving towards one another.
Joseph, may contentment with our lot and joy in each other abound in our house, as we seek faithfully to serve and greatly love God.
Joseph, be yourself a father to our family and pray Mary be a mother to us. Amen.
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Topics: St-Brother-Andre, St-Joseph, prayer, family

How Are You?

waiting-in-doctors-officeThis week I was in the waiting room of a doctor’s office while accompanying friends to their appointments. I had my iPad with me so I could keep myself occupied.

While I was playing some games and checking Facebook, I would frequently hear the nurse come out and call someone’s name. Then the nurse would say, How are you today? Everyone responded fine, great, OK or awesome.

After some time of listening to this taking place with various people, I began to chuckle. Everyone in the waiting room had some sort of issue or they would not be there! You could hear them cough, sneeze, complain to their companion of this pain or that hurt. The conversations were all centered on their health. But when the nurse came out and greeted them, everyone said fine, great, OK or awesome.

This got me thinking about how we respond to people when they ask us, How are you? Often times we say, Fine. But when we honestly respond, it is amazing how we catch others off guard and they don’t always know how to respond to an honest answer!

It is worth trying this out with others. “So how are you?” “Not so well today.” And we find the other person responding, “Oh that’s great!” This happens because we are conditioned to respond in a certain way.

Communication happens all the time. Sometimes it is positive and sometimes it is negative. The important part of communication is our ability to listen to others and not anticipate their response. Sometimes we are conditioned to hear an answer because of who the person is and we do not allow the words of the other person to sink in.

All this pondering about the question - how are you? - got me thinking about how we approach God in prayer. We don’t want to seem like we are complaining all the time but we can find ourselves saying, Lord, please help me with this person as she is trying my patience. Or, God why is this or that happening to me right now in my life?

During this season of thanksgiving, let us pause and listen to the responses of others and of God in our lives. May we be more attentive to the question, How are you? And may we be more attentive to how we respond this to question. Communication is about both speaking and listening.

Have you ever given this any thought? Please share your experiences and insights about this with us.

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Topics: prayer, inspiration, communication

Reflections on All Souls

time-to-seek-or-give-forgiveness-1For many years I phoned my grandmother faithfully every Sunday night unless I was on the road and then I would let her know that I wouldn’t be able to call. We both enjoyed these calls.

One Sunday, for a number of reasons which made sense at the time, I didn’t call her and hadn’t warned her. At 7:30 the next morning I received a call that Grandma had died during the night. Of course I felt so miserable that I hadn’t called and could picture her waiting to hear from me. There was no way to fix this.

During this month as we focus on those who died, I think it’s important to remember that the deceased have simply moved on before us. They are not gone forever, rather they are just not physically present to us.

It is not unreasonable then to realize that there is no reason we can’t continue to talk with our loved ones. Not only are we able to ask their forgiveness for the things we suffer remorse but we are also able to forgive them. Whenever I say this, I feel people shudder. “How could I forgive the dead? There is really something wrong with me that I continue to feel angry or upset.” Yet we know we do carry such grievances. It just seems more difficult to resolve them with the dead … yet it is vitally important that we do so.

Hanging on to these grievances do not hurt the deceased, they hurt us. They invade other relationships making us less trusting, or leading us to hold back in loving and/or growing.

So, whether we need to seek or give forgiveness, let us focus on the conversations we must finish with those who are gone from this world. Speaking from the heart we can move on to a different and healthier relationship with them until we meet again. Perhaps now is the time.

When I talked to my Grandma about not calling and other slights I imagined, I found myself comforted in my spirit by her closeness and love. May this be true for all.

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Topics: death, forgiveness, feast days

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