Hurricane Prayer

20130504_154231     Monday morning I was watching the news and in a matter of minutes heard news reports about an earthquake, forest fires, sink holes, tornadoes and a hurricane!  It was astounding to me how matter-of-fact these events seemed to me.  As a child, I would have thought the world was coming to an end had I heard of all of these events in one day!  With the world in a turmoil – Iraq, ISIS, Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Gaza,….and our own country’s troubles; it seems only natural that our Lord, through his creation of nature, would be warning us to take heed.  A news program like Monday makes me pray and beg for God’s help in what seems to be a confused and crazy world.

Living in Cajun country, I have seen my share of storms and hurricanes. My worse was hurricane Andrew in 1992.   In the 2005 we had hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  New Orleans took the brunt of Katrina. I work for a company based out of New Orleans.  Our New Orleans employees were displaced and some became homeless as a result of this devastating hurricane.  Rita hit closer to home and lower Iberia Parish had hundreds of homes flooded as the storm surge wreaked havoc on the coast.  The normally calm bayous and shady oak trees became torrents of flood waters and falling masses of destruction.  I was home for hurricane Andrew.  It is a very scary feeling to know that you are at the mercy of mother nature.

What can we do to combat these forces of nature?  Well, our community and family decided after 2005 that it was time to pray.  At all of our masses at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, we begin during hurricane season with a hurricane prayer.  At all of our family rosaries on Tuesday nights, we end our rosary with a prayer for hurricane season during the months of June through November.  Since 2005, we have not had a major hurricane hit our area.  I am not saying it is solely because of these prayers – but I am saying that it might be!

I cannot change the world.  I cannot make evil go away.  Sometimes things seem so out of control that I feel it is impossible to find a solution.  It is at these times that I have to trust in God and know that He told us prayer is powerful.  If we have the tiniest bit of faith we can move mountains.  During these times of evil and meaningless deaths, I am asking you to join me in praying fervently for God’s intervention.  Together we can weather the storms.  With God’s help we can overcome them.

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry

PRAYER FOR HURRICANE SEASON

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of Your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed Your order and returned to its former quietude; You are still the Master of land and sea.  We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control. The Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land and spread chaos and disaster. During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of the Sea, our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem where a storm-less eternity awaits us. Amen.

Lady of the Acadians

assumption

August 15th is the Feast Day of The Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  It is a day which celebrates Mary being assumed body and soul into Heaven at the end of her life.

Based on very early church writings and on the writings of mystics, such as Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, it is believed that the apostles traveled to be with Mary at her deathbed; some of them even transported on white clouds from the towns they had been preaching.  St. Thomas was not present for Mary’s death.  Upon Thomas’ arrival, Mary’s tomb was reopened. It was found empty except for her grave cloths.  Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich describes Mary’s assumption in great detail.  She saw Mary’s soul lifted up to heaven in a bright light where it was met by her Son, Jesus.  Her soul then follows her Son back to her tomb where it is joined with her transfigured body.  She then ascends body and soul with her Son to the heavenly Jerusalem.

Catholics believe Mary’s assumption was a Divine Gift for her role as the Mother of God.  By her example of following God’s Will and living a life without sin, we are shown a promise of the gift that is waiting for all of us on that last day.

Our Lady of the Assumption holds a special place in my heart, since she is the patron saint of all Acadians.  August 15th is National Acadian Day and has been celebrated since 1881.  In Canada it is known as the Fete Nationale.  Businesses close on this day in parts of New Brunswick, Canada.

There was much debate in Canada over the date on which to have a National Day to recognize the Acadians.   Abbot Marcel-Francois Richard influenced the decision for August 15th with his eloquent speech: “…in fact it seems to me that a people who, for over a century of hardships and persecutions, was able to preserve its religion, language, customs, and autonomy, must have acquired enough importance to affirm its existence in a solemn way; and this could not be accomplished better than by being able to celebrate its own national holiday…It is important to stress that we are not descendants of Canada, but of France…We must choose a holiday that reminds us of our origin…Louis XIII vowed to give his empire to the Blessed Virgin and he wanted the Assumption to be the kingdom’s national holiday…he sent colonist to take over Acadia…it is true that the national devotion of the Acadians is their devotion to Mary.”  Thus, the convention chose August 15th, Feast of the Assumption, as the national holiday of the Acadians.  It was ratified by the Vatican on January 19, 1938 and Saint Pope John Paul the Great proclaimed Our Lady of the Assumption to be the patron saint of Acadians, where ever they may live.

An Acadian flag was established at the 2nd Acadian Convention in 1884 at Prince Edward Island.  It is a French Flag, tricolor – blue, white, and red. There is a gold star at the top left. The star represents the Virgin Mary, their patron saint.

A “Cajun” Acadian flag was designed at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1965 in honor of the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana.  The tricolor flag has three symbols.  The first is a gold castle on the red, which represents the Spanish kingdom who allowed the Acadians to settle in the area.  The silver fleur-de-lis on the blue, represents the French heritage. The gold star on the white represents the Virgin Mary.  The flag became the official “Cajun” flag for the Acadiana area in 1974.

Cajun people’s love for Mary is very evident as you drive around Cajun Country.  Statues of our heavenly mother are proudly displayed in front of many homes, churches and public places.  She is the new Eve, the “woman clothed in the sun”, and the new Ark of the Covenant.  We love our patron saint!

Happy Feast Day Mother Mary!

C’est Bon!

Love,

Sherry

 

Hit the Emergency Button

beach buddies

Recently my daughter and my two grandchildren took a beach vacation.  Upon returning, my daughter shared a cute story with my husband and I that I would like to share with you.

My daughter and her children frequented an arcade while on vacation.  The arcade had a virtual reality roller coaster.  It sat two people who are fully enclosed in the ride which rises, falls, and rotates around to give the extra added sensation of being on an actual roller coaster.  My grandson noticed this ride on the first day and begged his mother to let him on it.  But his mother felt that a four-year-old was just too young for the ride.

This went on the entire trip.  An arcade visit always ended up with the four-year-old begging his mom to let him ride the roller-coaster.  On the last day of the trip my daughter noticed that her son did meet the height requirement for the roller coaster.  She spoke to the attendant, who informed her that the ride had a slow, medium, and fast speed.  She was told the slow speed was appropriate for her son’s age.  So, with much trepidation, she let the four-year-old with his seven-year-old sister get on the virtual reality roller coaster.

The two kids sat in the ride.  The attendant explained to the older sister to pick the “slow” speed and advised her of the “emergency button” should there be a need to stop the ride.

The attendant closed up the ride.  My daughter watched as her no longer visible children rose up in the air in the machine.  As the ride started up, the attendant looked at my daughter, smiled and said, “She picked the fast speed!”.  Yes, my little angel of a granddaughter decided that she would give her little brother a ride he would remember!

Their mother was helpless.  She could only watch the machine rise, fall and rotate.  Her stomach felt sick and her heart was pounding.  What was happening in that thing?

Near the end of the ride, the attendant once again looked at my daughter, smiled, and said, “They pressed the emergency button!”  Finally, the ride came to an end.  It lowered and the amused attendant opened the hatch.

Once open my daughter saw her own daughter sitting, giggling and just tickled with herself!  The little brother was in tears and wanted his mommy!

I love this story.  It holds so many of life’s lessons in that one story.  Life is like a roller coaster – it has its ups and downs.  Be careful for what you wish for..

Most of all, I love the “emergency button.”  Sometimes in life we want that emergency button.  Sometimes we want to just say “stop, I need time to collect myself and my sanity!”

For me that emergency button is my Lord.  When things get too much to handle, I need to just relax, pray, and give it to the Lord.  He is my Healer, my Strength and my Sanity!

Here is a poem that sums it up by Shirley Powell

His Presence Within

God never sends sorrow without joy, Nor the sun without the rain.

He never gives us a cross too heavy that we can’t bear the pain.

He is always present within our hearts, whispering encouragement to you and me.

He lifts us up when we are down and listens to our humble pleas.

Who else would have the patience to listen to our complaints, yet hold us close to His gentle heart and love us without restraint?

There is always another river to cross and another mountain to climb.

If we but put our trust in Him, we’ll be filled with His love sublime.

His arms are always opened wide, waiting patiently to embrace troubled souls like you and me and to fill us with His grace.

When despair and sadness come our way, just always remember this…

Tomorrow or another day soon we’ll be filled with happiness and bliss.

C’est Bon!

Love,

Sherry

 

 

Grandmothers’ Gifts

mom

I was young when my mother’s mother passed away.  We called her Maw-Maw.  My only memories of her are of a very sick woman. My mother became her nurse in those days.   I do not remember any conversation I ever had with Maw-Maw.  My mother has told me that she enjoyed life. She loved dancing and visiting her friends.  It must have been very hard on her to have a disabling disease at the end of her life.

My father’s mother, we called Mom.  I was married with children when Mom passed away; but, I still never had a conversation with her.  Mom spoke only Cajun French and what little we said to each other was translated by my parents when we visited Mom and Pop every Sunday.  What I remember about Mom was her reverence to our Lord.  She was a very devout Catholic, always attending mass, saying her rosary and getting down on her knees at night to say her nightly prayers.  It made quite an impression on me as a young kid to see my two elderly and arthritis-riddled grandparents, who could hardly walk, on their knees beside their bed at night.

You might think I suffered in the grandmother-granddaughter relationship department.  You would be mistaken.  The Lord blessed me with two wonderful women in my life who were very much a “grandmother” to me.

The first of these wonderful women was a neighbor.  Mrs. Anita Larson, “Larson”, was a lonely widow whose only child and grandchild lived across the country.  My sisters and I latched onto Larson and we just adored her.  She called us her adopted grandchildren.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are sitting on Larson’s porch, in one of her big white wooden rockers, listening to her stories.  She was always full of compliments for us; the best shot of self-esteem a kid could have!  It was a true grandmother-granddaughter relationship. I never felt judged or unwanted.  I felt unconditional love.  Before Larson passed away, I was able to sit and visit on her porch with my own children.  She treated them the same; they too adored her.

The other grandmother in my life was my husband’s grandmother, Mama-Nu.  Words cannot describe the beauty of this woman!  I first met Mama Nu when my husband and I were engaged to be married.  She hugged me tight and said, “If my grandson loves you, then I love you – you are now my granddaughter!”  What a gift!  True to her word, Mama Nu always treated me as her granddaughter.  She had a twinkle in her eye and joy in her heart.  Everyone loved her and wanted to be around her.  What a special person.  It is 15 years today that she passed away, and she is sorely missed by all of her children and grandchildren.  It is impossible to think of her and not smile at some funny saying or antic she had come up with!

One day years ago, Mom was visiting us and she was able to walk next door with us and sit on Larson’s porch.  She and Larson spoke in French together.  Later on, Larson told me that my grandmother said her only regret in life was that she never learned English and could not speak to her grandchildren.

I consider myself very lucky in the grandmother department.  I know that I will see them all again one day.  When that day comes, I will get to know Maw-Maw and ask her to show me some of her dance moves.  I will thank her for the gift of my mother, who she raised to be the most excellent nurse, mother, and grandmother.

I will sit on Larson’s porch in heaven and finally have a conversation with Mom that we both understand.  I will thank her for the gift of her reverent and devoted acts; which spoke more loudly than any words could have.

And finally, I will greet my adopted grandmothers, Larson and Mama Nu and thank them for making me their granddaughter!  Their love and kindness is what guides me today in my role as a grandmother.

God Bless Grandmothers!

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry

Heavenly Messages

Philippe de Champaigne's The Dream of Saint Jo...

Philippe de Champaigne’s The Dream of Saint Joseph painted around 1636 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Gospel for today’s mass (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23) was the story of Joseph’s warning by an angel in a dream to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.  It reminded me of several Bible stories where people were forewarned or given messages from God through a dream.  Have you ever had a dream like that?

I know people dream every night.  Each morning I wake up and usually have no memory of my dreams.  If I do have a recollection it is usually a very “foggy” memory and forgotten not long after awakening.  But…. sometimes I have a dream that is so vivid in my mind, it is as if it actually happened.  Upon awakening, I have such clarity as to the events and message of the dream that I just know it was more than a dream.  On these rare occasions, I believe with all my heart that the dream was a heavenly message and usually it is meant to be shared.

This is an example of a “heavenly message” dream.

Here in Cajun country, there are certain people who are known as “traiteurs” or treaters.  The practice of treating was more common when I was a child.  This type of “folk medicine” primarily involved the use of holy water and prayers.  I knew a traiteur personally, my mother’s sister; we called her Me-Me.  Me-Me treated people for headaches, high fever and sunstroke.  I can remember being prayed over by Me-Me as a child, and I did bring my daughter to her to be treated for sunstroke once.  Me-Me passed away several years ago.  She loved her Catholic faith and prayed her rosary almost constantly.  Her six children were all grown with kids and grandkids of their own when Me-Me passed away.  Unfortunately, her family was divided.  All her prayers and rosaries could not heal the broken bonds….it was a great sorrow for her to bear.

One night Me-Me came to me in a dream.  In this dream I was a child and playing in the home where Me-Me and her husband raised their children.  All her children were adults and sitting in her living room.  I understood that they were trying to pray a family rosary together; however Me-Me was not in the room and her children sent me to find her and hurry her up. I remember them quarreling and they did not seem happy to be in the room together.  I found her in the bedroom getting dressed.  I walked over to a window and looked outside; it was getting dark out.  I heard Me-Me tell me, “You tell them to not wait for me, they need to say the rosary without me.”  It began to storm outside.  I turned and looked at Me-Me.  Very sternly she spoke to me, “A STORM IS COMING!  YOU PRAY YOUR ROSARY EVERY DAY!”

The dream ended.  I awoke still feeling like the little child in the dream, frightened and filled with wonder.  I felt that the dream had two purposes.  I needed to get a message to Me-Me’s children that she wanted them to pray, and pray together.  I also knew that I was being warned of a “storm”.  I do not believe Me-Me was talking about the weather.  I believe she was warning me that everyone needs to pray every day because of a coming crisis that is going to affect this country; maybe even the entire world.

Since the birth of my youngest child (who is now 21), I have had a few “heavenly messages”.  I always take them very seriously as I see them as a blessing and a gift from above.  God is the Father of all of us.  He communicates with us all.  He uses dreams, signs, people, angels…whatever is available.  We only have to open our hearts and minds to His love and guidance.  We must have faith.  He never stops loving us, never gives up on us, and He is never silent.  Listen to Him.

Sweet Dreams!

C’est Bon,

Love,

Sherry

The sound of Cajun

English: Cajun and Zydeco singer and songwrite...

English: Cajun and Zydeco singer and songwriter Zachary Richard in Paris, France with his group : “Le Bayou des mystères”. Français : L’auteur-compositeur-chanteur et accordéoniste Zachary Richard à Paris (ORTF, salle 104) en 1976. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up in Cajun country.  The sounds of my youth were very different from the sounds heard by others my age living in a different part of the United States.  Cajuns are descendants of the exiled Acadians from Canada.  Because they were exiled and living in a foreign land with a foreign language, the Acadians formed a tight knit family community.  For many decades, they held onto their French language and much of their culture.

I heard Cajun French being spoken quite regularly while growing up.  My father’s parents spoke Cajun French and very little English.  We visited them every Sunday and my parents sat down with them for about an hour speaking a language that I was never taught.  My father as a child began school knowing only Cajun French.  He was admonished for speaking this language.  He was taught that the proper language was English.  Cajun French was looked upon as the language of the illiterate.  My mother’s parents also spoke Cajun French, but also spoke English.  She grew up knowing both languages;  but like my dad, she also grew up realizing the stigma over the use of Cajun French.

The generation of my parents did not teach their children Cajun French.  It was a language that I was very familiar with; but could not translate.  It was often spoken by the grown-ups when they did not want the children to understand the conversation.  It seemed to me like a secret code for adults.  I knew that an adult would speak to me in English; but get a few of them around speaking to each other – and the conversation would go from English to Cajun French and back and forth!

The music I heard as a child was mostly a mix of Country music and Cajun music.  Cajun music began with ballads of the French speaking Acadians in the 18th century in south Louisiana.  Sounds of the accordion, fiddle, and strong Cajun- accent singing was the norm when Daddy turned on his radio.  At the time I thought everyone heard this music. I did not appreciate the cultural differences of this unique genre of music.

It is only now that I can appreciate the depths of the culture that I grew up in but not really apart of.  Of course I picked up on some French words and terms.  There are some Cajun classics that I love, such as Louisiana Aces, “The Back Door”.  But now many of the sounds of my youth are gone.

My grandparents have long ago passed away.  My Dad said the other day that he has not spoken French in such a long time, that he has forgotten many of the words.  Cajun French is just not heard in normal every day life anymore.  The music has changed and grown.  The pioneers of this new Cajun music were Beausoleil and Zachary Richard.  Contemporary Cajun music is played by Wayne Toups and others.  But there is hope…

I recently discovered a Cajun group – L’Angelus.  This group is comprised of one Louisiana family, the Rees family.   The four oldest children are expert musicians and are producing music that pays homage to the Cajun fiddle tunes, the swamp-pop, as well as some New Orleans R&B.  I recommend their CD, CA C’EST BON.  Everything I’ve heard from this family, I really like.  They have such a great vocal harmony.

So, I am currently learning to speak Cajun French.  I am researching these wonderful Cajun ancestors.  I want to be able to teach my grandchildren about the culture of a people who in the face of the worst adversity, held onto their faith, their family, and their traditions.  I need to pass on the sounds of my youth…..the sound of Cajun!

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry

 

 

Room 411

charlene richardcharlene graveThere is a grave in Church Point, Louisiana of a girl who suffered and died at the age of 12 years old on August 11, 1959.  The girl’s name was Charlene Richard.  In southern Louisiana, she is known as our “Little Cajun Saint”.

The book, “My Name is Charlene“, by Rev. Joseph Brennan, has awe inspiring testimonies of people who knew Charlene during her days here on earth and those who have prayed to Charlene for her intercession and received miraculous healings.  The testimony by Rev. Brennan was most touching as he recalls being the priest assigned to ministering to Charlene during her last two weeks on earth, in room 411 of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana.  In fact, Father Brennan had the awful task of telling Charlene, at her parents’ request, about her illness and prognosis.  In his testimony, Father Brennan recalls, “Then I said, “In a couple of weeks a beautiful lady is going to come and take you home”.  Looking at me with those brown Cajun eyes, she said, “When that lady comes, I will tell her that Father Brennan said hello.””

Thus began a two week period of the young Charlene offering up her sufferings, willingly carrying her cross with Jesus.  Father Brennan could not understand how someone so young could understand the concept of redemptive suffering.  She suffered and prayed, and taught us all that no suffering is in vain.

Today, fifty years later, ten thousand people visit Charlene’s grave every year.  It is a resting spot that I find peaceful beyond words.  You feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when you combine your prayers and intentions to those ten thousand people and Charlene Richard.

God works miracles through suffering.  His only Son was able to defeat evil and open those doors of heaven through his acceptance of God’s will and His suffering.  Our loving mother suffered with her Son as she watched Him carry His cross and die on it.  Suffering with faith is never easy; nothing that is good for the soul is ever easy.  But, we must remember that Jesus showed us the Way.  By picking up our crosses and walking with Him and trusting in Him. we can save not only our soul, but the souls of countless others.

Prayer to Charlene Richard

Charlene, when you were only twelve years old, you showed heroic faith, hope, and love; dying of leukemia, you joined yourself to Jesus on His Cross and offered your intense pain for others.  You thereby echoed St. Paul’s words to his people in Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His Body, the Church.”

Charlene, I believe you are with God.  Please ask our Heavenly Father, His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to grant me the following favor: (mention favor sought).

Charlene, thank you for helping me.  May Jesus Christ always be praised.  May Mary, Jesus’ Ever-Virgin Mother, always be blessed.

Amen

C’est Bon

Love, Sherry