Archive for the ‘surrender’ Category

Prayer in the midst of distraction

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

In my reading of Thomas Dubay’s book, Fire Within, I have come upon the chapter describing St. Teresa of Avila’s seven mansions. As a preliminary to the discussion of the mansions, Fr. Dubay described her teachings regarding vocal prayer.

Letting go of old habits

As a pure beginner in contemplative prayer, I have felt confused of late as to whether I should be using my imagination to conjure up images during prayer, or think of concepts. From my reading I have gathered that my imagination falls very short of what is possible just by letting go of everything human and allowing myself to be drawn into God’s presence.

Being a creative sort, and a visual learner, putting aside my imagination has been hard to say the least. I have found some wonderful consolation in prayer doing such things, and have also pondered many wonderful ideas. These things aren’t wrong, but they just scratch the surface. God is inviting me to go much deeper and to do that, I must put aside these primitive ways of praying.

Concrete suggestions

Bless St. Teresa and her innate understanding of human nature. She offers concrete ways to enter into this prayer, and I tried one this morning amidst an array of distractions.

She suggested focusing on a favorite image of Jesus and I have an icon I treasure that hangs on wall across from the rocking chair in our bedroom where I will pray and write. It’s pictured to the left.

I began to pray my rosary and focused on the picture. Now mind you, there was an unusual amount of noise and chaos going on around me – the roofers had arrived promptly at 7:30 am and were tearing our roof apart! Shingles were falling like rain!

Peace in the midst of chaos

In the middle of the rosary, one of the workman knocked on the door, needing to get into our basement to access the chimney. I calmly let him in and resumed my prayer.

My son then came in and we discussed plans for the day. I continued to remain calm and returned to prayer as if nothing happened.

This has never happened before!

Interruption to prayer always entailed frustration, aggravation, irritation. Yet this time I managed to stay in the presence of Jesus and remained calm. My peace was not disrupted.

Gazing upon the face of Jesus

The only thing I can think of that I did differently was to keep my focus on Jesus and just gaze upon Him.

My spiritual mother daily sits in her rocking chair and just contemplates the face of Jesus. I was in awe of that and envied her.

Now I have a taste of what she experiences.

Possibilities

It’s possible for me, and it’s possible for you too. Fr. Dubay reminds anyone who will listen that we are all called to deeper communion. St. Paul reminds us to “pray always.” It can be done.

And the more you taste it, the more the desire will grow.

Images of Mary from around the world

Friday, June 17th, 2011

At the request of a reader, I thought I would post slides of the posters I used at the Beautiful Godly Women half day retreat showing images of Mary from around the world. What I love about these images is what Keith Fournier said in his book, The Prayer of Mary: that Mary’s beauty is transcendent of culture and physicality. In other words, it’s all about what’s inside – her total love for and surrender to the God she so dearly loves.

Being with beautiful Godly women in Henniker, NH – half day retreat highlights

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Ann and I had the wonderful privilege of leading a half day retreat for some 65-70 women at St. Theresa’s Parish in Henniker, NH on Saturday, June 11. The theme was Becoming a Beautiful Catholic Women, organized by the Women’s Ministry of St. Theresa’s (and especially Eileen Murray), the day started with a beautiful mass celebrated by a brand new priest (he’s the tall one in the picture)!

We were then entertained by a humorous skit depicting women preparing for the day by making themselves beautiful. The first half showed 2 women frantically getting prepared, putting on make-up, getting dressed, etc. The second half showed 2 women who took time to be with the Lord before getting dressed. You can see some great pictures of the skit, along with other pictures from the retreat, on the slide show at the end of this post.

I then gave the keynote address, using Mary as the model to follow for becoming a beautiful Catholic woman. You can hear the address here, plus some music I played:

 

You can also read my blog posts about this topic.

Ann then led a beautiful scripture-filled prayer service highlighting faith-filled women of the Bible. We all prayed a response after hearing each reading which was read by women attending the retreat. There’s a picture of Ann with the readers in the slide show.

She concluded the morning with a terrific craft project where women made bracelets with beads depicting different pious women of the Bible. It was a wonderful keepsake for each participant to take home, to remember the retreat. In the picture you can see what the bracelet looks like and some of the readings that accompanied it.

Here’s a slide show showing highlights from the retreat, accompanied by “How Beautiful,” sung by Annie Karto and Donna Cori Gibson, from Annie’s “Perfect Sacrifice” CD.

 

Part 11: Conclusion – Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – the journey is just beginning

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Throughout this series I have shared with you ideas that I had about becoming beautiful as God means for us to be. This has been a deeply personal journey as I have literally lived with this topic for the last 3 months, reading a little bit each day, outlining the chapters in  The Prayer of Mary by Keith Fournier and The Authentic Catholic Woman by Genevieve Kineke. As we know from gardening, a downpour is not going to be particularly beneficial to the flowers – it might beat them down and surely the bulk of the water will run off. It’s those gentle rains, even drizzle, that persist from day to day that bring the real benefit to the garden. This reading, bit by bit, day by day, has acted as a gentle rain on the garden of my soul. Where total surrender to God was once a lofty thought is now something I have embraced, and my journey has just begun in living it.

I find that I am more at peace with my life and can take the longer view down the road while still remaining in the present. Recently my husband, who is a contract worker, was between jobs and was becoming concerned that he would not find a new assignment soon enough to continue with the contracting company which gives him a salary and our health plan. He knew I was praying daily for the unemployed and asked me to remember him which I gladly did. As I prayed, I thought to myself that no matter what happened, even if he lost his job and we lost our health benefits, that everything in the long run would work out for our best. My trust in God was deeper because of this journey of surrender which I had embarked upon.

My love for Mary, our Mother, has truly grown. She truly is the most beautiful woman the world has ever known, and will ever know. She lays out a simple path to follow (simple to understand but not necessarily easy to follow), speaking it plainly at the Wedding at Cana when she instructs the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.” She knew from the many deep experiences of her life that following the Lord wherever He led was the only way to lead an authentic life. She came to understand in the course of her life that this way was not free of pain or suffering; in fact it probably was more intense because she chose a more radical way of living. Her “yes”, however, transformed all of history, helping to open the road to Heaven to every human being going back to Adam and Eve, and going forward to the end of time. She held God incarnate in her arms – caressing and kissing, listening to and consoling Him, and laughing with Him. She witnessed Him risen, saw Him ascend to Heaven, and experienced the Holy Spirit coming upon her at Pentecost. Every moment of her life was a “yes” and every “yes” opened the door wider to God’s grace and mercy.

No wonder she was the most beautiful woman the world has ever known!

I earnestly pray, beg, that God’s light, His image, like those of the beautiful icons, will glow within me and will not be blocked by any shadow. I pray, I beg, that God will help me continue to remove the wall that blocks Him from me, stone by stone and eventually, boulder by boulder as I become stronger in Him.

I deeply desire to become a beautiful Godly woman that will be evident for all to see. I desire that people will look at me and see not me, but the Lord. I want to be that bold, that transparent. I want to be like those women I admire so much in my own life who to me epitomize holiness – my Noni, the master teacher of hospitality, the realtor in my office who positively glows with God’s light, and my dear spiritual mother whose mastery of sacrificial love in spite of her illness inspires me daily.

Dear Lord, make me like those women! Make me beautiful like Your Mother. Mary, mother to us all and my mother, pray for me.

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Thank you for following this series on becoming a beautiful Godly woman. Here are links to the other 10 posts in case you missed any:

Part 1: Discovering the beauty of woman through the eyes of God – a multi-part series

Part 2: The beauty of a Godly woman – learning to say “Yes.”

Part 3: What makes a beautiful Godly woman – Holiness.

Part 4: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? The way of beauty

Part 5: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? Modeling ourselves after Holy Mother Church

Part 6: Beautiful Godly woman – living sacramentally

Part 7: Beautiful Godly woman – hospitality

Part 8: Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – how meal times can become a beautiful sacramental expression

Part 9: A beautiful Godly woman is an agent of reconciliation

Part 10: beautiful Godly woman – the gift of healing

Part 11: Conclusion – Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – the journey is just beginning

Here are links to 2 other companion posts:

Praying in new places, in new ways – an example of a creative routine for daily prayer and scripture reading

Why does love chase away fear? – Total surrender to God chased away fear, allowing us to face anything in our lives

 

Part Two: the beauty of a Godly woman – learning to say “Yes.”

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

In continuing my series of what makes a beautiful Godly woman, I begin with Keith Fournier’s book, The Prayer of Mary (see previous post) and read that Christ’s work began in utero, in Mary’s womb, taking up residence there, making it a tabernacle of the flesh (Preface, The Prayer of Mary, page X).

Recently I’ve begun an exploration of contemplative prayer, using an app from the Daughters of Saint Paul called Beginning Contemplative Prayer based on a book by Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP. Sister Kathryn speaks of going deeper into a place that is still, quiet and receptive to the presence of Jesus. The safest place I could think of was the womb – it’s quiet and warm, enclosed and nourished by someone who loves me and wants to take care of me. I retreat here now when I want to be closer to Jesus. I had already decided to do that when I read Fournier’s premise of Christ’s work beginning in utero. For me, it continues there.

“God incarnate made His first home in the womb of a woman who said yes to the invitation of grace.” (Ibid page XI). Mary was receptive to new life and to love, as pointed out in Genevieve Kineke’s book, The Authentic Catholic Woman (preface). She had to be completely open, completely vulnerable, in order for God’s grace, His own self, to make a home within her. Christ incarnate has made every part of human life holy. By allowing Himself to be born from the Virgin Mary, He lifted up every aspect of the life of a woman to holiness. Therefore, everything that Mary did, from suckling Jesus, to cleaning Him, providing clothing, guiding Him, consoling Him . . . everything, was raised to holiness. Christ elevated woman and made her beautiful through this most intimate act of love.

And what defines that beauty? Fournier lists several things (Ibid, pages XII-XIII):

  • living a life of surrendered love
  • encountering God relationally, personally, intimately
  • about receiving and giving: becoming a person for others by entering more fully in to the way of Christ and offering ourselves in Him, for others

In other words, offering our humble “yes” to God at all times. Mary’s “yes” ended up changing human history. How beautiful is that?

I will continue to explore this theme in my next post. Stay tuned . . .

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Links to all posts in this 11 part series

Part 1: Discovering the beauty of woman through the eyes of God – a multi-part series

Part 2: The beauty of a Godly woman – learning to say “Yes.”

Part 3: What makes a beautiful Godly woman – Holiness.

Part 4: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? The way of beauty

Part 5: What makes a beautiful Godly woman? Modeling ourselves after Holy Mother Church

Part 6: Beautiful Godly woman – living sacramentally

Part 7: Beautiful Godly woman – hospitality

Part 8: Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – how meal times can become a beautiful sacramental expression

Part 9: A beautiful Godly woman is an agent of reconciliation

Part 10: beautiful Godly woman – the gift of healing

Part 11: Conclusion – Becoming a beautiful Godly woman – the journey is just beginning

 

Learning true humility (part two)

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The Catholic Spiritual Direction blog had an outstanding post today on the Gospel from last Sunday (Matthew 5:38-48). It fits right in with my journey of discovery about true humility. The words of this Gospel are hard but throughout this stretch of Ordinary Time, it seems that Jesus has been constantly challenging the people of His time (and of all time) to dig deeper, finding the real meaning.  For the first time, I am beginning to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “I have not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.” Check out this excerpt from today’s Catholic Spiritual Direction blog:

Christ the Lord When Jesus says, “You have learnt how it was said,” he is referring to the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. That Law gave the Jewish people their unique standing among all the nations of the world, because God himself had given it to them. For 1500 years Israel’s prophets and rabbis had interpreted it, applied it to changing circumstances, and exhorted the people to live it out, but never had a faithful Israelite ever claimed authority over it. Therefore, when Jesus says, “… but I say to you…” – implying an addition to the Law – his listeners are faced with something entirely new: someone who claims authority over the Law of Moses. Jesus is requiring of them a new allegiance and making way for a New Covenant. The Sermon on the Mount was revolutionary not only in its ideas, but in the claims of the Lord who gave it.

Want to read more? Click here . . .

I’ve been turning this post over and over in my mind all day long. It is true meat to chew on!

This post is out a book I am getting tempted to buy called The Better Part by Father John Bartunek, LC. Click on the book title to purchase.

Learning true humility (part one)

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

I am extremely blessed to have 2 wonderful people in my life who act as friends and spiritual advisers – Deacon Dave from Delaware and my spiritual mother. The other day, they both gave me a powerful affirmation on the need and meaning of true humility.

It had occurred to me at the last confirmation retreat that I assisted on that I was very rigid in my routines. As God is prone to do on occasion, He shone a bright spotlight on this issue, but this was not what He was trying to show me as this was just a symptom. What became clear to me as I observed others on the retreat who lived their faith so openly and radically (and who loved so well), I was containing the Holy Spirit through micro management. I knew I was into control but I had no idea how much!

I began to deeply desire letting go of this tendency to micro manage but had no idea how to do it. This past Tuesday, God showed me how and it was a very obvious answer – prayer.

Prayer. Duh. But as my deacon friend pointed out, it could not be prayer that I dictated (which was one of my rituals). God had to direct the prayer. This meant I had to face up to a fear I had of being alone with God and quiet.

I have felt the pull to do this for quite a while. I am very dependent on technology as a tool for prayer and scripture reflection, using my iTouch extensively for everything from listening to podcasts and music, to using the new Confession app (an excellent app by the way, I highly recommend it) and various rosary and prayer apps I had downloaded. These tools work well but I was using them to avoid letting God direct my prayer.

This pull from God began to reveal a more root problem – fear of failure and a relationship based on trying to please God rather than just learning how to BE with God. This was tough stuff!

Because of all the times I have tried to be quiet with God and failed (either the mind races or I fall asleep – happens every time I go to adoration), I was afraid to try again.

Deacon Dave exhorted me to try and laid out a basic formula for it. I avoided it. My spiritual mother described how she did it which so affirmed Deacon Dave’s exhortation, and that helped. And she gave me a very wise piece of counsel – you can’t fail if you are with God. You simply do the best you can – He accepts you exactly as you are.

Yesterday was the first time I tried it but it was certainly not in a place I would expect it to work! I had spent much of yesterday putting together a PowerPoint presentation for the Sung Rosary using the Sorrowful Mysteries. Over the course of many hours I poured over images of my dear Jesus, tortured and crucified for all of us, for me. It was work at the time and I wondered why I was not moved more by the images. Later on in the day, that would all come flooding back.

I went to the gym to work out on the elliptical and proceeded to read as I always do. I was very distracted by the noise around me and realized that would not work. I plugged in my iTouch and began listening to one of my favorite classical pieces, Bach’s Cantata 140. The power of the music immediately triggered an intense period of prayer like I have never experienced before. All the images I had poured over earlier in the day flooded my mind and 2 in particular haunted me. I found myself attracted to a very physical and human Jesus as well as a powerful and divine Christ and I longed to be with Him, to touch Him. I kissed His feet and re-enacted Mary’s public devotion of washing His feet with precious perfume and drying them with her hair. I begged for Him to lift the veil and let me see His face, all while working the elliptical harder than I ever had before. There was something about the physical sensation of the running, the grunting, the panting, the sweating . . . I imagined myself like St. Paul, running the race with Jesus right beside me, just as Deacon Dave and my spiritual mother had said. For true humility is having Jesus right beside you, not behind or in front of you. Beside you, as He was with the disciples at Emmaus, opening their hearts to the scriptures and the truth.

There is more I want to write about this discovery of humility that I will share in future posts. But needless to say, this first true experience of prayer that was controlled by God left haunting memories and a deep desire to go there again. My spiritual mother was right – you can’t fail, and especially if you let God lead the way.

A tribute to our confirmation students and the retreat team at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Rich and I came home from the second of two retreat weekends for our confirmation students only a few hours ago. These weekends are so packed, so intense, and it just wears us both out both physically and emotionally. I feel poured out as I’m sure he does too. But we both agree it is one of the most rewarding things that we do for our faith.

The first weekend was back at the beginning of January. It was the first time for me and the whole experience just blew me away. I couldn’t even write about it even though I wanted to. There was just too much to sift through. This time around, I feel very raw emotionally.  A few moments ago I lay on my bed petting my cat having just finished a conversation with our grown son about how extraordinary the retreat was and how I wished he could have seen it. A life of faith committed to the church is still not for him which is his prerogative right now, but after he left the room, all I could do was lie on my bed and weep. At first it was for him but it quickly included everyone who cannot yet see. A wave of nausea swept over me as the tears ran down and I thought of everyone who is blinded by the lies of this world to the truth of God.

I know that God has laid on my heart this burden of praying for conversion, it is something very dear to me. I pray for my children constantly every day, and other family members pretty regularly. But today I felt that burden spread to include everyone, especially young people, and I want to commit myself to praying for them as I pray for my own children.

And why is this? Because I have been a witness to radical faith. Although I’ve read the scriptures over the years and have see it in luminaries such as Mother Teresa, the truth really came home to me through the people I know and love in my home parish, St. Luke the Evangelist in Westborough, MA. In a time when all you hear about is what the Catholic Church is doing wrong, I want to announce to the world that here at St. Luke’s it is being done right.

Our parish knows how to develop the talents of its people. We don’t hire professionals to come in to run our retreats; we instead call upon volunteers in our parish to give the talks, run the small groups, conduct prayer services, do the ice breakers, provide the live music and listen to the young people. Some people have been on this retreat team for over 10 years, giving up 2 weekends every January to help our confirmation students meet God in a powerful and authentic way. Besides the older adults which populate the team, St. Luke’s also has the wisdom to bring in peers from nearby Assumption College to assist in the same way.  These students are deeply committed to their faith and give such a powerful witness of how it is indeed possible to be a young person in today’s society and also be a follower of Jesus.

There were many talks given over the weekend, all powerful mainly in their raw honesty and authenticity. People shared deeply from their lives, often telling stories of great courage in navigating the often messy and stormy nature of everyday living by remaining close to Christ. There were no pat answers here, no “just follow Jesus and your life will be happy and carefree every day.” Our Lord never promised that life would be easier by having faith; in fact He pointed out that often it would be a lot harder. How could we have it easy when He carried His cross for us and died on it to reunite us with the Father? What He did promise is that He would always be beside us. There is no getting away from enduring suffering in order to get to the better place on the other side, whether it be here on earth, or in heaven, but our advantage as believers is to have our eternal Friend by our side, gently guiding us.

Each member of the team demonstrated a faith that is living, vibrant and totally integrated into every fiber of their being. Both adult and student members shared deeply from their hearts, allowing the confirmation students to see them as they really are – flawed, sometimes weak, wounded but full of faith, love and deep joy in knowing Jesus Christ.

As I am still new to the team, I mostly observed though I did provide some music and helped with a prayer service. But the message is coming through loud and clear to me what God is calling me to, and that is a radical living of my own faith. I could feel Him gently pointing out to me how I micromanage the Holy Spirit in my life. He did that by showing me how much I obsessed over the weekend over having everything just so – rearranging the furniture in my room so that it would most resemble my bedroom at home, constantly clinging to my bag that I kept with me which contained my glasses, iTouch, moisturizer for my lips, water bottle, instant coffee and throat lozenges . . . heaven forbid I should not have everything I need for my instant comfort! I obsessed too over having the time to warm up my singing voice so I could provide good quality singing – heaven forbid I should hit a wrong note! In all these things, I could see that I was not willing to give myself over totally to Jesus and trust in His care. If I was obsessing over such small and meaningless stuff, how could I possibly be truly open to what He wanted to do through me? I really got the message loud and clear that I need to let go a whole lot more and stop trying to micromanage the Spirit. As a team, we were asking these kids to let go of their cares and openly trust in the Spirit. I even did a prayer service where I asked the kids to imagine a kitchen table loaded with stuff, and then taking their arm and gently sweeping everything off the table. I was telling them to try it but was unwilling or unable to try it myself.

Now my heart burns with desire to be like so many of the team members who live their faith so radically. How fortunate I am to be surrounded by such extraordinary people, such wonderful examples of true discipleship. And it starts from the top down, beginning with our pastor whose whole life is one constant prayer, to the youth minister who loves so unconditionally, constantly pouring herself out, to my husband who has dedicated his life in service to the Church as a deacon.

I salute every extraordinary member of the St. Luke’s confirmation retreat team, and the wonderful students of Assumption College. I have received such powerful examples of what it means to be a radical follower of Jesus, and I want to follow right after you.

And what of the young people who were on retreat with us? I observed how open they were to receiving the message. They listened attentively, worked hard, and bonded with each other in the course of the 2-1/2 days. They gave up their weekend, leaving behind their worries about school, their boyfriends or girlfriends, their peers, even their cell phones. These kids were willing to listen and to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. They are now part of my heart and I want to hold them close and pray for them that the seeds planted this weekend will grow. The battle began for them the minute they left with retreat center with so many pressures pressing on them from family, peers, school, and society. I want to commit myself to praying for them constantly as I do for my own children.

I hope that by making this public confession that I can live out my commitment to pray for them and to follow the example of my own peers at St. Luke’s, living more radically for Jesus. I hope I can learn to step aside and let the Spirit truly lead. Lord Jesus, with Your help and Your grace, may each succeeding day be a footstep closer to that goal.

Following up on the healing

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

As you may recall from my last post, my singing voice was healed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary while singing the rosary. I also mentioned that a lot of the healing was psychological, that in fact, through her intercession, God showed me how I could sing so as not to damage my voice – He opened my mind to the proper techniques. Yesterday at mass, I had to put all of that to the test.

Normally I sing with a partner, Kathleen (who is a dream partner, by the way). She plays piano beautifully, has a nice clear voice and we work really well together. I lean on her a lot. Yesterday she could not be with me, so this first test of singing had to be done solo.

At first I was terrified! Intellectually I knew what to do and my faith told me just to hang on to Jesus like St. Peter did when he started walking on the water. I knew I had to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus to get over my fear.

And again, that voice: “Why don’t you believe?”

The first song, “City of God,” was a little rough! It’s a hard song to start off with and my fear was getting the better of me. But I kept thinking of St. Peter and forced myself to keep my eyes on Jesus.

By the time I sang the responsorial psalm, I knew I was going to make it. After all, I was singing, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom should I be afraid, of whom should I be afraid?” My whole body relaxed and my voice came out nearly without effort.

The rest of the mass went off just fine. I had to pay close attention to technique to make sure the voice was being used properly but it didn’t distract me the way I thought it would. I just kept my eyes on Jesus.

By the end of the mass, I was singing out “We Are Called” in full throttle, happy and tremendously grateful that I had gotten to the other side. I walked on water and Jesus made that possible!

I am therefore very thankful that I lost my voice over the holidays. I’ve learned several important things:

1. Don’t depend on myself alone.
2. Take good care of the gifts I’ve been given by God
3. Stop drowning out my dear partner – we need to sing like a true du0!

Humility. That was the big lesson. And how bitter/sweet it was!

A healing miracle, thanks to Mary’s intercession

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post regarding St. Marie’s in Manchester, NH, I experienced a healing while praying the rosary and remembering the beautiful altar of this church. That healing took place in my singing voice.

I had mentioned on Facebook that over Christmas I lost my singing voice. It didn’t happen suddenly but came about over a long period of time. I had noticed as I ministered at my parish that my voice was getting weaker and weaker, and I had little control over the vibrato. I am in my mid 50s but my voice was beginning to sound like that of an old woman.

It became extremely stressful singing at mass. I would open my mouth and have no idea what would come out! Sometimes my familiar voice would come out and sometimes a horrible warble would come out. Not fun.

I had forgotten all my training (proper breathing, singing from the diaphragm, etc.) and couldn’t apply technique to solve the problem. I tried doing vocal exercises but eventually I strained it through misuse and had to go on vocal rest with no singing, and quiet (and limited) talking.

I tried to apply what the Lord had shown me about ‘going with the flow’ and letting Him lead, and most of the time, I was okay with that. But occasionally I would panic that my voice was gone forever, or beat myself up because I hadn’t taken proper care of it (which is true). Often I would grieve.

Then last weekend I attended mass at St. Marie’s. The beauty of the interior (see last post for pictures) stayed with me, and I used the memories this past Monday while praying my rosary. And this is when the healing took place.

Before praying the rosary, I had been talking earlier in the day with Deacon David McDowell, a dear friend from Millsboro, Delaware. We were talking about praying to Mary for her intercession and how it feels when we notice her protective mantle around us. I was very inspired by our conversation and so I decided to try to sing my rosary on the way home in my car.

As I began the rosary, I sang it very softly to myself, afraid to strain my voice. The “Hail Mary” portion is particularly difficult for me to sing even under the best of circumstances because of where the notes are situated. Still, I pictured Mary and I kneeling together in front the throne of our Lord in heaven (resembling the altar at St. Marie’s) and it was glorious.  I longed to truly sing my prayers and attempted it but got nowhere. I then felt a prompt by Mary to pray for healing for my voice.

I had not prayed actively for healing since I had lost it and I even hesitated now. I realized that I didn’t believe a healing would happen; I felt responsible for its condition and didn’t believe I deserved a healing.

Still, I felt this voice saying, “Why, why don’t you believe?” At that point I gave in and offered the intention during the rosary. Nearing my destination, I tried to sing it again, but felt afraid to push my voice. And again I felt this prompt from Mary, questioned my fear, and I started to sing.

Suddenly it was like a secret trap door opened inside my throat and a beautiful, strong, confident voice rang out! No weakness, no horrible warble, just a clear, strong voice. It was like I had found a new route to my vocal chords which bypassed all the post nasal drip, the sore throat and strain, and the huskiness.

I knew immediately it was because of Mary’s intercession. I had always had great difficulty singing the Hail Marys and when I recorded it for my Mary, Queen of Peace Meditation Guide & Sung Rosary book and CD, I had prayed for God to show me how to do it. I believe that Mary interceded as it is the rosary, and I was taught the necessary technique through my prayer to sing it properly for the recording. Remembering that experience, I knew it had happened again. Mary took me by the hand and revealed to me the means by which to properly open my throat (as per my training) and let the real voice come out without doing further damage. The healing wasn’t so much physical (although I believe there was some physical healing) as it was psychological.

I wanted to test my voice further so when I got home, I got out my guitar and started singing the songs I’d be doing for mass that weekend, applying this new technique, and truly, my voice was back! I sang my heart out (probably overdid it but I will pamper my voice now till the end of the week) and felt such joy that Mary had interceded for me! I was able again to sing my prayer to God. I went over to a painting I have of her with the Eucharist, touched the painting and thanked her, and God, from the bottom of my heart.

Lesson learned? NEVER deny Jesus a chance to heal you. Had Mary not prompted me to ask, I wouldn’t have asked, and my false pride would have prevented a healing. I can never presume to know the mind and will of the Lord. As usual, I had to step out of the way so He could act. How patient He is with me, and how good He is to me, especially in giving me His beloved Mother as my guide and companion.

You can listen here to the power of prayer which enabled me to sing these prayers to our Lady.