BIT OF FATIMA IN CAJUN COUNTRY

My husband and I daily drive around Cajun country in south Louisiana due to our work as insurance inspectors.  We enjoy the ride, chatting about life, finding unique places and meeting interesting people.  Sometimes we say our rosary together to pass the time on extended drives.  We are both devoted to our heavenly mother and pray for her intercession and graces every day.  The love of Mary in this part of the country is very evident to anyone who drives along the many country roads.  We have seen countless statues of Our Lady in front of homes and business.  It always brings a smile to my face to see a special shrine in someone’s yard; knowing that family has the same devotion to the mother of God.

A couple of months ago, during one of these drives, my husband and I came across a special and unique shrine.  In the middle of nowhere, we noticed a sign – “Ave Maria Shrine”.  I quickly asked my husband to pull into the parking area.  The property was very lovely.  There was a pavilion with seating and a small building under the pavilion.  I noticed the grounds were immaculate with rose bushes, statues, and wooden crosses marking the Stations of the Cross.  I was very curious about this shrine, having never heard about it.  My husband was uncomfortable being on this property.  I began to open the truck door and he immediately asked me what I thought I was doing.  I told him I was going have a look inside the building.  He let me know that he did not think that was a good idea; (he was being protective as any good husband should).  I looked again at the sign and told him, “Look, it says it is open from 6am to 6pm. It is open; I am going have a look.”  He knew there was no stopping me; he rolled his eyes and told me that he would turn his truck around while I had a look.

I opened the door to the shrine and was pleasantly surprised to see a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.  It was a small shrine, but there was enough room for a kneeler and a box to place petitions.  I could see that it was lovingly being cared for as there were flowers and candles on the altar.  I wrote a petition, placed it in the box and prayed.  On the way out I noticed a pamphlet on the shrine and took one with me.

My husband was patiently waiting in the vehicle.  I very excited told him what I found inside the shrine.  Together we read the pamphlet.  It stated:

“In June of 1994, two young men from Venezuela, visited the Opelousas Ave Maria Rosary Group.  They claimed to hear and see the Blessed Virgin Mary.  They shared messages of conversion, penance, fasting, sacrifices, weekly confession, daily Rosary and mass.  In April of 1996, she asked the Ave Maria Rosary Group to build a replica of the original Fatima Shrine.  This was built by hard work and donations.  The Shrine was opened November 19, 2000.  We have had claims of healings, conversions, and answered prayers since that time.  We invite you and your families to come to the Shrine to pray and receive the blessings, comfort, and peace from Our Lady….On the first Saturday of each month, Our Lady has promised her presence at the Shrine from 6 pm to 6:05 pm.  She is there to receive our petitions and prayers.”

“How wonderful!”, I exclaimed.  “I will be right back.”, said my husband as he left the vehicle and headed towards the shrine.

We returned to the shrine the following month and said our rosary together there.  We will return there on the 13th of May in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fatima.  It is also Mother’s Day weekend.  I encourage anyone who is in our area to visit the shrine and thank our mother for her visits to earth, her prayers and intercessions.  The shrine is located at 3484 Prairie Rhonde Hwy., Opelousas, Louisiana.

I cannot make a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal; however, I will make a pilgrimage to the little Cajun Fatima Shrine.  It will truly be a special Mother’s Day weekend!

C’est Bon,

Love

Sherry

 

 

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.

Power of Prayer

immaculee retreatMy daughter and I recently attended a Lenten retreat given by Immacule’e Ilibagiza in Thibodaux, Louisiana.  Immacule’e is the author of Left to Tell, Our Lady of Kibeyo, and If We Had Only Listened.  She is a survivor of the Rwanda genocide of 1994 and tells an amazing story about her journey of faith and forgiveness.

If ever you have the opportunity to hear her speak, I encourage you to do so.  It is a moving and very spiritual experience.

Immacule’e shared something with us that was so unbelievable, I want to share it with everyone!  It involves her book, Left to Tell and Hollywood.

Once Left to Tell was released and became popular, Immacule’e said that she began to have people ask her if she would make a movie out of her story.  She thought that would be impossible because her faith, the Bible and the rosary were so important to her survival; she did not feel that Hollywood would truthfully expose her faith in a movie.  The more she traveled and met people, the more she heard them say that there should be a movie made of her story.

One day after hearing this same request for a movie and after giving the same answer that Hollywood would not depict her spiritual journey, Immacule’e was given the name Steve McEveety.  McEveety was the producer of “The Passion of the Christ”.  This was a favorite movie of Immacule’e, but she had no clue how to reach McEveety and no idea about the workings of Hollywood.  So, she did what she knew.  She prayed the rosary. Immacule’e started a 54 day rosary novena.  She asked her friends to pray the novena with her, and together they prayed for Mary’s intercession that if this movie was to be made, Immacule’e would meet Mr. Steve McEveety.

Around the 50th day of the novena, Immacule’e was a speaker in California at the Rosary Bowl.  There was an audience of tens of thousands of people and she was one of several speakers.  The speakers were lined up.  Immacule’e said she turned around and faced the speaker after her and saw Jesus!  Acutally she saw Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in “The Passion of  The Christ.”  She said she was star struck and surprised when Jim Caviezel hugged her and told her that his wife read her book and they were such fans of her!  Even better, Jim invited Immacule’e over to his home after the engagement to have dinner and meet his wife!  She could not believe it!  She said, “I was thinking, Oh my goodness, Jesus is taking me to his house!”

She went on to say that Jim’s wife was a lovely woman and they were enjoying the visit when there was a knock at the front door.  Who was at the front door?  None other than Steve McEveety and his wife!  She was in shock.  She said she had to stay calm, but every part of her wanted to shout out, “Thank you Mother!”.  The five of them sat around a kitchen table and they asked Immacule’e many questions about her ordeal in Rwanda.  At one point, Steve’s wife nudged him and told him, “You need to make this movie.”  He replied there was no way he could do this.  Immacule’e said she said nothing, but inside she thought, “If our mother wants you to make this movie, you WILL make this movie!”.

Returning home, still marveling at the coincidences that had occurred; Immacule’e received an email from Steve McEveety exactly on the last day of her 54 day novena.  McEveety told Immacule’e that whatever it took, he WOULD make her movie!

Praise be the Lord!

Immacule’e is living proof of our Lord’s love for us and His mother and the power of prayer!

I cannot wait for this movie – ordained by our Lord – for all of us.

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

Handcrafted Prayers

Rosary

Rosary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

rosary house  The Rosary House in New Iberia, Louisiana has been family owned since 1946.  The store features handcrafted rosaries, statues, Bibles, artwork, holy cards, and so on.  It is located at 200 Ann Street and there is a candle manufacturing facility across the street.  The founder, Robert Minvielle, saw a need for the Rosary House in this largely catholic populated area.

It is a favorite shopping spot of mine.  A baby is getting baptized – I go shop at the Rosary House.  A wedding – I shop at the Rosary House….

I know many people have questions about the Rosary.  They point to the fact that it is not found in the Bible.  They are wrong.  The rosary is centered on the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ.  It is a prayer that invites us to look at Jesus through the eyes of the disciples and His mother.  The rosary consists of the prayers “Hail Mary”, which comes directly from Scripture, the “Our Father”, which appears twice in the Bible, and the “Glory Be”, which also appears twice in the Bible.

When we pray the rosary we are not praying to Mary, but through Mary and with Mary to Jesus Christ.  While praying the rosary, we meditate on the life of Jesus through the four mysteries of the rosary.

It is the most beautiful and powerful prayer that exist.  The rosary was a gift to all of mankind by our loving mother.  She intended it to be a prayer weapon for all people of all faiths.

For an indepth study of the power and meaning of this handcrafted prayer, I recommend “The Rosary” by Immaculee Ilibagiza, author of “Left to Tell”.  Her story of survival of the Rwanda genocide is an unbelievable account of evil and the power of forgiveness.

If you ever get down to south Louisiana, I recommend you stop by the Rosary House.  It is a spiritual adventure!

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry

Mystical Rose

rose petalRose petal which fell from the sky in Conyers, Georgia where Our Lady appeared to Nancy Fowler with public messages in the 1990’s.  (ourlovingmother.org)

The rose is known as the Queen of Flowers. It has a perfume that will raise the mind to the “highest state of spiritual consciousness”.  It is no wonder that over the centuries, this flower has become a symbol for Our Blessed Mother, the Queen of Heaven and earth. This symbolism came to fullness with the devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary.

The rose has also been used as a sign by Our Lady to her children.  Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego December 9, 1531 and asked that a church be built. The Archbishop of Mexico City asked for a miraculous sign from the Virgin. Diego was instructed by the Virgin to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill.  Although it was December and the hill was barren, Diego found Castilian roses, which are not native to the area, and arranged them in his tilman cloak.  Later when Diego opened the cloak in front of the Archbishop, instead of flowers, there was a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary.  This image is still on Diego’s cloak which is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

On July 13, 1947, Our Lady Rosa Mystical (Mystical Rose) appeared to Pierina Gilli in Montichiari, in Nothern Italy.  She asked that everyone pray the rosary and do penance.  She appeared with a white rose which symbolized prayer; a red rose, symbolizing sacrifice; and a yellow rose for the spirit of penance and conversion.  Our Lady of Mystical Rose asked that every December 8th at noon, we celebrate an Hour of Grace for the Whole World.

I have a rose story of my own.  A few years ago, my father was suffering with a disease affecting his balance.  My mother and I prayed a novena (nine day prayer) that he be healed or come to terms with his disability.  It is often the case that novenas are answered with a rose.  After the nine days, which was in late November, my mother was very excited to find a single rose had bloomed in her yard.  We took that to mean that our prayers would be answered.  I was not looking for my own rose, thinking that one rose gave both of us an answer.  Later that same day, my husband and I went buy a Christmas tree.  I picked one, but then thought it was a little too crooked.  I picked out another one.  My husband held the tree up for my inspection.  I looked it over and my eye caught something inside the tree.  I reached into the branches, and lo and behold, I pulled out a rose bud!  Well, that was definitely our Christmas tree!   It is a moment I will never forget!

At our family rosary yesterday, we were very blessed to have a friend of the family share a special rose petal with us. On this tiny petal that has traveled from home to home for several years, you can clearly see Our Lord Jesus and the Blessed Sacrament.

And so remember to honor your Blessed Mother with roses on her special feast days.  She has done so much for us, her children.  She deserves our attention and honor.  Her messages should not be ignored.  She is fervently working for our salvation.  She is our gift from Our Lord Jesus Christ.  His Crown of Thorns gave way to our Mystical Rose.

C’est Bon

Love,

Sherry