My brother in law Tony helping the poor

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Foot of the Cross - Part II

With Holy Week fast approaching, I thought I would give my readers something to think about. I am actually stealing some of my own material which I wrote several months ago but felt it was even more appropriate for our upcoming Holy Week.  I have taken my original article and enhanced it for this special edition.  

I'm sure every Christian understands the commandment "love thy neighbor" and all that that entails, but the question is, how?  The Bible tells us that it is easy to love those who are good to us, aka our friends, but if we love only those who love us, what merit is there in that for us?  Jesus had good friends, they were his closest followers.  He traveled from town to town giving people a new way to live. Many people loved to listen to him preach and they loved his message even more.  It is safe to say that he enjoyed great popularity (by our standards) for some time.  His 12 closest friends loved Jesus so much that they were even willing to give up their lives to follow him!  I wonder how many of my friends would be willing to the do the same for me, hmmmmm.  But at the end of the day, when Jesus was forced to walk the road to Calvary, and then was ultimately lifted high on the cross, who did he see?  For all his great popularity, the Bible recognizes only 3 faithful women and one courageous man at the foot of his cross.  Where were all of his "friends" now?  Where was their loyalty to their friend Jesus?  Even Peter, the Rock, was no where to be found.  I often wonder what went through his mind at that moment as he looked down from the cross at his 4 meager followers.

Doesn't this happen to us sometimes?  I have some wonderful friends, mostly those I have known my whole life. I can tell them anything and I have complete trust in them.  I have been really blessed that way, but as much as I love them, I'm not 100% sure they would be willing to be crucified next to me on a cross.  We really do love and cherish our friends, especially when we are out to dinner with them or celebrating a wedding or another happy occassion?  But still I wonder, who among them would be courageous enough to stand at the foot of my cross when I need them?  This is what I ask you to think about today.  Very often the people we "think" will be there, will not, and perhaps the one's we have neglected, ignored, or treated unfairly will surprise us and have courage.  I'm not sure who will be at the foot of my cross but I'm pretty sure I'll be surprised!  Even more importantly, Whose cross do we have the courage to stand at the foot of?   It is one thing to ask another to lie down their life for a friend, but it is totally another for us to do this for another.  

As Holy Week nears and we celebrate Good Friday (usually for most Catholics this includes the traditional "kissing of the Cross") I really would like you to think about this topic.  When you walk to the Cross and bend to kiss His feet, ask yourself if you would have been there that day to comfort Him?  If not, no matter, He would have loved you and forgiven you anyhow!  

Let us enter into Holy Week with the courage to lay down our lives for others.  

Sunday, March 14, 2010

An Absolutely Incredible Story!

Immaculee's Journey of FaithLast week our St. Rita 8th grade students were invited to attend a talk at nearby St. Barnabas Church.  Since I have an eighth grader at St. Rita I decided to be one of the chaperones.  The talk was given by the beautiful woman from Rwanda pictured in the front row in the above picture.  Her name is Immaculee.  Her story was so moving that you could hear a pin drop in the church when she spoke.

She spoke about her horrible experience of having to hide for her life during the Rwandan genocide.  She told the kids a story about how she was forced to have to live in a tiny bathroom with 7 other people in order to try and stay alive.  But her story really began when she enthusiastically described in detail what happened when they (the enemy) finally came to search the house where she was hiding.  I of course can not do her story justice, but I hope to highlight for you the miracle she encountered.

Immaculee described the day they were raided.  She said the soldiers looked everywhere for people hiding.  They looked on the roof of the 4 bedroom home, in the attic and walls, they looked in suit cases for babies, and they searched each room thoroughly.  Then, one of the soldiers was about to put his hand on the door handle of the bathroom they were in when he turned to the home owner and said, "Forget it, I trust you," and walked away.  It was unbelievable!

The story does not end there.  Immaculee told us that she had a family whom she loved very much who died during the genocide. Before they died her Father insisted that Immaculee go away to find safety in another area, which she did, but before she left her father gave her a rosary.  Immaculee said she was so frieghtened during her 91 days in captivity that all she could do is pray her rosary for strength.  She prayed 12 hours a day!  She believes that it was this prayer that saved her life and the lives of her friends.  A true miracle!

I believe in her story.  I myself have had supernatural experiences that absolutely can not be explained.  Have you ever had a miracle take place in your life?  Maybe you shrugged it off as coincidence, or maybe you have never experienced anything like that?  Well I have, and let me tell you...there is no going back once you witness a miracle.  Immaculee now spends her life going around the world and telling her story as a witness to her her faith in our Mother.  Her life has forever been changed.  Because of this experience she says she can no longer tell a lie, deceive, or hurt another person's feelings.  She has been converted!  Once a person is shown the light they must live in the light.  Her days of darkness are over and now she can rejoice!

She was the happiest person I have ever met.  She walked up to me and threw her arms around me and gave me a big hug and a smile.  She is beautiful inside and out.  She is a walking, talking, breathing saint.  I drove 4 boys to the talk that day, and on the way back to school I said to them, "do you boys pray?"  They all looked at each other and said, "no not really."  "Do you know why don't pray?" I asked, "because you don't need to!" "That's right, in this country and especially where we live, you have everything you need; freedom, clean water, food, clothes, an education, nice place to live, car, etc,  but where most of the people in the world live...they have to pray; for safety, food, work, freedom.  This is something you boys will probably never have to know.  But someday you will want to pray, you will need to pray, but until that day, pray in gratitude!  Those of us who have been given so much should wake everyday and thank God.  So why don't you try that for the rest of Lent?" I asked them.  I know I am!

To read more about Immaculee and her incredible journey of faith, visit her website at:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

From Darkness to Light

Well, here in Cleveland we have been practically buried in snow and darkness for the past 4 months.  Every now and then we are blessed with a glimpse of sunlight shining through our dirty winter windows.  Along with shadowy days comes cloudy emotions.  For many of us who live in the northeast or anywhere snow covered, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This week, for 3 days in a row now, we have been blessed with bright sunshine!  It really lifted my spirits and put a spring back in my step.  It has motivated me to look forward to my workouts and even inspired me to take a long hike in the park.  That was a great day!  I feel reenergized, rejuvenated, and reinspired.  Easter is still a month away but I am looking forward to having my family here for Easter dinner.  My husband is Greek Orthodox and almost ever year they celebrate Easter on a different Sunday than Traditional/American Easter, but this year it happens to fall on the same Sunday so I am happy to have both sides of my family here to celebrate.

When my boys and the other kids in my family were little, we used to have a huge Easter Egg Hunt and celebration the weekend before Easter.  There were times when there were like 30 little kids at one person's house to dye eggs, look for Easter eggs with money, and eat wonderful food and pastries.  It was a time that I will never forget.  Although the kids are all grown up now and we no longer get together for that occasion, those memories will be with me for the rest of my life.  Just like when I was little girl.  The thing I remember most about Easter was Palm Sunday.  In our house, Palm Sunday was the real day of tradition.  My Mom would make tray after tray of lasagne.  She would serve it with a huge homemade Italian dressing salad (which we all still make), and garlic bread.  The entire family (all 8 kids, my parents, and any spouses, children, etc.) would come over to my mom and dad's tiny house and cram in around the table.

I don't know why we picked Palm Sunday to celebrate but it sure kicked off Easter week for us!  It was the beginning of something great.  It was like moving from darkness into the light.  This is a tradition I still hold dear even with my own little family.  My mom will be celebrating her 80th birthday on Palm Sunday this year and I suggested we celebrate the old fashioned way, by having the traditional Palm Sunday and lasagne dinner at her surprise birthday party (shhh don't tell my my Mom).  I can't wait to for that!

As I am writing this story, a memory just popped into my head about the one time my mom and my sister Jan (she is the eldest) got into a huge argument one Sunday morning (Sunday always was, and still is, in my house the day to make "sauce.")  Anyways, my sister ticked my mom off so badly that my mom picked up the huge double handle pot of sauce and threw it at my sister who was sitting in our carpeted living room!  I don't need to tell you what that had to look like.  Ahhhhhhhhh growing up.....the memories.....good times.  Ok, ok, you know I couldn't be all nostalgic without throwing a little bit of reality in there.

On another note, just when I thought things were never going to brighten up, I also met a new friend, someone who has taken the time to listen and someone whom I can trust.  Do you know how rare that it is to find?  All is looking brighter on the less than sunny side of Cleveland.  I love the season of Lent because it can teach us very important and valuable lessons like how to trust in the Lord, and how to depend on His grace to get us through the darkness, and for that I am eternally grateful!