Thursday, July 23, 2009

In Loving Memory of Mom

"And the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up." Exodus 19:20

On this day, three years ago, the LORD called my mom to the top of the mountain, and she went up...

This day brings back the somber memories of my mom's last months. She died a very slow and painful death. But not after many miracles along the way, and a heroic display of courage and faith on the part of my mom.

Lucy was born to a middle-class Mexican-American family in the south central region of Texas. She displayed a deep mature faith at a very early age, and many in her family and in her town came to recognize her for her virtue and charity.

She met my dad while praying at the altar rail of the local Catholic Church. Total opposites, the two wed a few months later. From their union, 7 children were born. I am the youngest.

From the very beginning, she set out to raise her children with God. You can say that my first experiences that I remember were centered on my mom, teaching us about the Faith, taking us to Daily Mass, teaching us right from wrong. But my mom not only spoke the truth, she lived the truth. God blessed her with the grace to love others unconditionally. I was always in awe of her response to the everyday problems and blessings. My mom always opened her door to neighbors when they came knocking. Most of the time, they came for advice, for help of some kind. And she was always willing to be there for them, regardless of who they were, or how they treated her.

My mom never thought of herself. When she died, she had very few possessions. Most of her life was spent serving others and giving to others that which she refused to keep for herself. She loved her children more than her own life. She sacrificed a great deal for her husband and her family.

She taught me how to love, how to really love, not with just words, but with action. She taught me to live this life in light of eternity---to recognize that this material world we live, with it's everyday problems and dealings is so very temporary, and we should be living with our eyes set on Paradise.

When mom became ill, I left the convent in order to spend 24/7 with her in her illness. I never left her side. Day in and day out, I was there. Doctors and nurses urged me to get out more. But I absolutely refused. I would not leave this woman for anything. She was my whole life.

When she passed away, a slow and solemn stream of doctors and nurses shuffled along to her bedside to pay their respects. I was amazed at their reaction to her death. The hospital had gotten to know us as we had been there for 7 months. One doctor approached me and said, "You should be commended. Never have we ever witnessed a family that would not leave their loved ones side. You stuck by her and you helped us to realize her life was very precious and could not just be let go." I shook my head "NO!" I said to this doctor and all who were in the room with my mom, "What you have witnessed is indicative of who my mom is. We stood by her side, because she never left ours throughout our life. We stood by her side because she deserved to be loved and cared for until her last breath. It is not us who should be commended, but this beautiful woman who lies in rest here."

Thank you Mom, you did your God-given duties. I'm sure He was very pleased with you.

Until He calls me up to the mountain to join you, I'll be thinking of you, missing you, and praying...

I love you with all my heart. Rest in Peace, mama.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Have Faith, Believe!

"Free your mind from all that troubles you, God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this (choice) without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because He sees that you do not honor Him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in Him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires."

-- St Vincent de Paul

Yesterday, July 14th, was the feast day of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the Native American who converted to Catholicism (and suffered much for it.) Suffering is not something that God wished for us humans to endure, it came into the world through sin. But I have realized that suffering is an essential part of the Christian journey... suffering, which can easily destroy us, can also make us stronger...

How often have you come to the brink of despair... only to find yourself lifted up and victorious? It is as if, God allowed you to scrape the very bottom, only so that you can realize how very small you are, and need only depend on Him. And when you are finished with one you look back and say to yourself, it would have been better for you to never have suffered? Or has the experience left you even more enobled, armed and ready for the conflicts that lay ahead?

St. Teresa of Avila declared it well when she said, "All things will pass, but God alone remains..."

The readings of the Mass for the feast of Bl. Kateri, made a strong impression on me, as I have always lived most of my life in anxiety and fear and worry... In the readings, we get a sense that God is in total control of the journey, and there is really not much we humans can do to shape and form the direction of our lives... the only thing that is asked for us, and that we must do... is to have Faith and Trust in God, because when we fail to have this, we don't make Him very happy... in fact, the only times we witness Jesus disturbed and upset, was when He encountered people with little faith...

I have been slow to learn it... but I see it... trusting in Him, I have found my prayers answered almost immediately. And if the answer is "No," I have found myself better at accepting it...

How wonderful is this grace called Faith... for when you truly believe that God can... God will...

Just wanted to share with you these thoughts...