Mary in Heaven

This beautiful chapel was my favorite place at the Franciscan Sanctuary of La Verna. The beautiful statue of the blessed mother really captured my attention and imagination. The building was the Chapel of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Mary in Heaven), built in 1216 by St. Francis himself.

Since the lockdown began I’ve been prayer walking daily. As I walk I pray and each day those prayers include the rosary. I prefer the Franciscan Crown Rosary. The last decade of the Franciscan Crown is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There’s always been something about Mary because I was born on a Marian feast day. My favorite hymn is Ave Maria. Ave Maria Gratia Plena Dominus Tecum. Protect us this day.

Holy Ghost


Curiosity got the best of me and I had to see where our son will be married in a bit over a month. I pray a lot and especially for the children. When Devin first moved to the Rochester area a little over 5 years ago I prayed that Our Lady would watch over him and protect him. I prayed too that he would meet a young lady who would bring wholeness to his life. Both of those prayers have been abundantly answered. But, until today I’d never been to the church where they will be married. There in front of me as I turned off the road is the Holy Ghost Church & a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes. How prophetic, beautiful and fitting is that. Ave Maria gratia plena.

Feast of the Assumption

Today I rose early for a trip to Erie, PA for another certification test. This one for School Building Leader credentials. I studied the preparation materials and committed some information to memory as best I could using some of the techniques I learned while reading, “Moonwalking with Einstein,” by Joshua Foer. I climbed in the RAV4 while it was still dark and drove the 100 plus miles to Erie. As I drove I thought of the Magnificat.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name. — Magnificat

I thought of Our Lady and the devotion I have for her. I thought of how often she has protected me and guided me with the gentle touch of a mother. Today, I prayed the Magnificat often as I made my way to Erie in the pre-dawn. I believe I did well on the examination today and I have renewed faith in myself and respect for the test creators and for the testing industry in general. Today was a transformational day for me. I’m grateful for tests as they have helped me to learn even though my frustration with the process had reached a fever pitch last week. Thank you to all who may have prayed for me and for an answer to my own prayers. When I finished the examination and made my way to Barnes & Noble near Millcreek Mall for a well deserved cup of coffee and a cookie I thought of the Latin version of the Magnificat and I recited it too in thanksgiving for my good fortune today.

Magnificat: anima mea Dominum.
Et exultavit spiritus meus: in Deo salutari meo.

Ave Maria

Long a favorite of mine is this short prayer. Today I carried a rosary in my pocket for protection from darkness. St. Francis had a special devotion to Our Lady. The mother of Jesus holds a special place in the Roman Catholic Church. It’s the missing element in fundamental Protestantism. Why this mystical element is removed is puzzling. Women are central to creation. The Jewish Ruach Hakodesh is a feminine spirit. The Jews fully appreciated the mystical significance of women in the creation. Women are relegated to lesser roles in many of the world’s religions despite the fact that if we didn’t have women we wouldn’t have any children. Men aren’t made to bear or even to raise children. Women are the nurturers. There are feminine elements in men as there are masculine elements in all women, but women excel at nurture.

Mary was the ultimate woman having born the Christ who came into the world not so much to save as to demonstrate how we were and are to live in relationship with each other. The world killed Christ as it did Gandhi, Martin Luther King, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and others who chose to model and follow the example of Christ. Sarah Brightman does a splendid rendition of the Ave Maria. The monks at Abbey of the Genesee end their compline prayer with a special prayer to Mary.


Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum

It still fits

I got out one of my old white hats as I prepare to return to the Great Lakes, IL area tomorrow. It still fits and it’s in very good shape. I thought I’d bring the hat with me so that my nephews could see it. I had been looking for my old neckerchief that I wore with dress blues. I was going to give it to my nephew as a gift from an old sailor to a new one. Alas, I can’t find the neckerchief. I’ve got my dress blues, dress whites and a couple of white hats, but no neck gear. My Dad gave me his neckerchief from World War II after I got out of Boot Camp and I wore it on some occasions. I wanted my nephew Tom who passes in review on Friday to have a keepsake too.

Tom passes in review on the Feast of the Assumption. It’s a day that has meaning for Tom. He brought it up in a letter he sent me a few weeks back. There is something Marian about the Navy and Great Lakes. I’ve loved the color blue all my life and Friday I’ll be in one of the bluest places on earth. I’m going to get Tom a gift certificate to Starbucks. He said the chaplain said that God’s love is like a double chocolate chip frappucino and I think the chaplain might be right on the money. God bless Tom, his shipmates and the United States Navy.

Lady of the Genesee

I began my day driving to nearby Olean to the Verizon Wireless store. I was returning one phone and exchanging it for another. When I finished it was 10:40 am and I thought with luck I can get to Mt. Irenaeus at least in time for communion.  I did better than that, I got there in time for the Gospel. The chapel was packed today with nearly 60 people, many who had come to celebrate a wedding, some to visit Fr. Dan Hurley, OFM who is aging and ageless. Hurles as he is affectionately known is 88 years old and still going strong. His eyesight is failing but not his vision, his heart nor his appeal to family and friends. Following Mass and a sumptuous bruch I made my way up through the Genesee River Valley to one of my other favorite spots in Western New York. I got to the Abbey of the Genesee in time for Vespers and Benediction. I love the adoration of the Eucharist, it is one of my favorite liturgical ceremonies and combined with vespers it was a beautiful way to spend part of my afternoon.  I used the camera of my new Blackberry Curve to take this lovely picture of Our Lady of the Genesee. I often stop to pray near this statue and today’s weather combined to make a beautiful picture. As I sat near the statue I thought of the Magnificat we’d just prayed as Vespers ended.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed;
the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm
and has scattered the proud in their conceit,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones
and lifting up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good thing
and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
to remember his promise of mercy,
The promise made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children for ever.