Well how's that for a spiffy title? I just had to cram it all in there, lest I forget the many things I want to tell you. So first off, Happy St. Andrew's Day! I realized this morning that not only is it my brother and his wife's wedding anniversary (may God bless them abundantly!), but also in a way it's my family's patronal feast.
You see, we're Andres, which comes from Andrew, no matter what language you start in . . . which is good because we've been mistaken for Mexican, Spanish, French, and maybe even German (Germany being the actual origin of our name and Andres ancestors). So Happy St. Andrew Day, and a big hearty thanks to dear St. Andrew for watching over my little flock (and the rams and ewes and lambs who came before us) without even minding that we never remember to invoke him! Which really should change, because here's something marvelous I noticed in his liturgical proper today:
St. Andrew is referred to twice as Our Lord's friend!
This is delightful for those of us who have learned from Therese and Marcel that heaven is a place of abundant friendship. Jesus brought that to earth when He came down to live among us, and He started with Andrew. The first antiphon for morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours sets the stage:
"Two men followed the Lord from the beginning; one of these was Andrew the brother of Simon Peter."
And then in the second antiphon from morning prayer, the Church proclaims:
"The Lord loved Andrew and cherished his friendship."
Isn't that the best?
And just to make sure we didn't miss it, this gift of friendship Our Lord gave to Andrew, today's Collect, the prayer that opens the liturgy of the Mass and closes the liturgy of the hours, reads as follows:
"Lord, in Your kindness hear our petitions. You called Andrew the apostle to preach the Gospel and guide Your Church in faith. May he always be our friend in Your presence to help us with his prayers."
I guess it makes sense - if you learn friendship by being friends with the Master, you're set to be a great friend to others too. Maybe that's why Marcel is such a good friend to us, and why Therese was such a good friend to him - having learned friendship from Heaven, they're ready to spread the joy! May St. Andrew be a friend to us and teach us the lessons He learned from Jesus, and may we relish his friendship until we all meet in Heaven!
Next up, then, (according to our title, "St. Andrew, 9 Days of Prayer for you, & Another Our Lady"), is that 9 days of prayer. I was going to call it a novena (clever of me, huh?) but I didn't want you to think I was foisting more prayer on you. Well I am foisting more prayer on you, now that you mention it, but don't panic: it's my prayer for you more than prayers I want to strong arm you into saying . . .
I realized this morning we're just a novena away from Our Lady's Feast of the Immaculate Conception and our Marian consecration. Yikes! So, knowing by heart one novena (to Little Therese, handily enough), that's the one I've started for you, and I'll say it for the next 9 days, God willing (willing that I don't totally forget, that is). How exciting! You are covered! I've got your back, as well as your front, your top, your toes, your sides, and the whole of you, just like Mary soon will! Actually I'm pretty sure she's already got you completely too, but she'll have you in a new (or renewed) special way in 9 days, and in case you (like me) wonder if you'll be ready, well I'll be praying that you are. And as to being ready - how funny is that? Be ready to have the greatest Mom in the world (who is tender, discreet, delicate, loving, sweet, merciful, compassionate, gentle, kind, and totally unobtrusive while taking care of your every need) be more your Mom than ever. I think we'll be "ready"!
In case you need a reminder, though, about how perfectly she is all those nice adjectives I just mentioned (and so much more), I have another Our Lady for you.
Yes, I know they're really all the same Our Lady, but I get my Our Ladies joke from none other than Lucia Santos, the oldest (and most long lived by far) seer of Fatima. She was one of the shepherd children who saw Mary in 1917, and she lived to be a child of - gosh, I forget exactly how old, but she didn't get to leave this earth and go to Heaven until 2005, just a month before her friend Pope John Paul II.
Well JPII had previously sent his friend and colleague Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to talk to Sister Lucia in the Carmel of Coimbria where Lucia had been a cloistered nun for decades. Interestingly, she'd started out as a Sister of St. Dorothy after the apparitions, but later realized she wanted to be a Carmelite. It was decades before that permission was granted! Wow! But then her dream came true - isn't that just like Marcel? Wanting to be a Carmelite against all odds, though in his case, God and Therese showed him that he was meant to be a Redemptorist, and since that was the order in which he met Fr. Boucher, his bearded Jesus, and Jesus Himself, I don't think Marcel minded.
Anyhow, when Cardinal Bertone was talking to Sister Lucia, he told her about how he spoke about Our Lady of Fatima in a homily he gave at Lourdes. I think he was trying to show her how much he loved Our Lady of Fatima, but without missing a beat, Sister Lucia corrected him. "Oh no, you should never do that," she said. "Our Ladies are very jealous of their turf!"
How do you like that?
I love it!
And I'm crossing my fingers that Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima (not to mention Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Good Success, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Confidence and - oh yeah! Our Lady of Joyful Surprises - yes, I really had to look up who was the latest Our Lady I'd introduced here because all Marcel-like, I'd forgotten, only knowing there must be some reason I called this "Another Our Lady"!) won't mind a bit if I bring in Another Our Lady!
Phew, we're out of that perplexing parenthetical litany, and before I get into more trouble, I'd better get to the heart of the matter, which in this case is none other than . . . (drum roll please) . . .
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal!
It was her feast this week (November 27) just before St. Catherine Laboure's special day (November 28) and I asked for and received a grace that made me so happy I could just spit!
Wow, that's a really unfortunate image.
What can I say? I'm an American, and we can be so uncouth.
But the truth is that I was over the moon with joy - and I must share my joy with you here, unfortunate idioms or no.
The story is simply this:
I'm lucky enough to know a lovely Catholic woman, a wife and mama of 8 (how do moms do it? I'm a mom of 2 and find it exhausting! great fun, but exhausting), a musician too, and most happily of all a little daughter of Mary who wrote a beautiful article a few years ago called, "St. Catherine Laboure, the Miraculous Medal, and Me." (No, not me, but Hope, the lady I'm talking about!)
I read Hope's article on August 14 a while back (two years ago maybe) and since then I've wanted to share her story with the whole world. So this week, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I did! I contacted Michael L,, our hero at Catholic Exchange, and he was a brick and put up the article (in two parts, since as one it was twice as long as a regular CE article) on two consecutive days, yesterday and the day before. In this way we managed to coincide the articles with the traditional feast of St. Catherine Laboure and the day after, which is not the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal because that came the day before, but I'm not as miraculous as Our Lady so I'd sent the piece to Michael just a smidge late for a double miracle. Which is fine with me, because Ah, joy and rapture, the articles did finally make it out to a wider audience, where I will dream (which is like a prayer) of them being read by absolutely everyone in the world.
And now it's my pleasure to share Hope's article with you here. Yippee skippee! as my bestest childhood friend Julia and I used to say. I will give you the links, and then we'll say our prayer and close so you can zip over and read these articles that are going to introduce you to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (whom you probably already know) in a way that will show you how very much she loves you and wants you to rest in her loving care. No more worrying anymore ever, as we like to say here at MMM! (Which, just for today, might stand for Miraculous Medal Musings, with a little help from our friend Hope.)
Okay. Ready? Why don't we pray first.
Oh little Jesus, thank You for EVERYTHING!
Draw me, we will run!
And now, here are the links - just click on the titles and you'll be there! And don't forget after reading the first to make sure and read the second, which is my favorite, though I love the first too.
St. Catherine Laboure, Saint of the Miraculous Medal
St. Catherine Laboure, the Miraculous Medal, and Me
Along with St. Andrew, may Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and her little Catherine become household names and your dear friends! With thanks to Hope, blessings upon her brood, and a kiss from Jesus to seal the deal.
I've written books and articles and even a novel. Now it's time to try a blog! For more about me personally, go to the home page and you'll get the whole scoop! If you want to send me an email, feel free to click "Contact Me" below.