>Novena begins today: St. Jude


I’m starting my novena to St. Jude today.
That’s this guy, here, in this painting.Painting by Anthony Van Dyke

I am starting this novena, which is nine days of focused prayer, today so that this set of prayers and petitions ends on March 30. Which is just as my waiting daughter goes to the courtroom…specifically, when it is the night of March 30 overnight into March 31, my M will be talking with a judge in Addis Ababa and this judge will decide whether we all are officially family, in the eyes of the Ethiopian government and law. And then on Tuesday, March 31, we will get that phone call of good news or bad news. But I am hoping and praying for good news, hence, this novena.

Now, many folks are somewhat confounded by novenas. They are rather a Catholic thing, I’ll admit. But then again, not so much. Here’s the deal. (I know, I’ve spoken of this before, but well, who ever goes back to archives? No one.) You see, you all know, some of you more painfully than others, that I’m a beggar. I’m begging for any and all prayers this time to get our girl through court and visa and home. This is the same deal. It’s intercessory prayer. But instead of my phoning my friends, emailing my other friends, begging on blogs, stopping strangers in the streets….this time I am also hitting up a saint. St. Jude Thaddeus, to be precise.

And I ask him for his prayers on this, because he, unlike those of us here on earth, is in heaven already. He has left his smudgy selfish self behind and all traces of that are gone. His heart is pure. Thus, he is a MUCH more effective pray-er than most anyone else I can ask, short of Christ himself (and yeah, I’m praying hard and having much discussion with him too, no worries on that point!).

And this intercession of the saints is one of the coolest things I can think of. It’s just what I do for my brother with my folks, and what my kids do for each other with me. We go to the person who can help, on the others behalf. We petition. And stand in for each other and add our backing to that person’s petition. And it helps. If only in the moral support, it helps. And that is exactly what a novena in our Catholic ways do too. Only we hit up a saint, for their support and prayers on our behalf. And it helps.

Prayer transforms, no matter if they are answered the way we hope or a different way that we can’t understand yet. And that in itself makes the effort worthwhile.

So, I’m praying to St. Jude. He was a cousin of Jesus. He was a chosen apostle. He is a good egg. He is patron of impossible causes. I”m not saying our cause is impossible, but I”m saying, I’ve been fretting and there are hurdles and so I’m calling on St. Jude. He’s helped me before, he is faithful.

And I’m gonna make you all nuts maybe because I’m putting the novena prayer up every day. I’ll post other posts too, don’t disappear entirely! But, if any of you want to follow along, you can read and pray it here. If not, I totally understand. Either way, if you have a mind to, any prayers at all on our M’s behalf would mean the world.

March 31. We pray to pass court and visa and get her home in April.
Thanks to each of you and any passing thoughts or prayers!

St. Jude, pray for us.

Day 1
Novena To
St. Jude

Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly –
That our daughter passes court and visa and comes home in April.
– and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.


May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

(say this prayer, followed by the Our Father and the Hail Mary)

>Oasis in the Desert



It’s Laetare Sunday! “Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam”

“Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her.”

This, “laetare,” means, literally, “rejoice,” taken from the words that open the Mass today, the entrance. It is a special day in this liturgical season, much akin to Gaudete Sunday in Advent.

It is an oasis in the walk through the desert of Lent. This is a day to encourage all of us in our Lenten efforts, a little breather to help us gather for the second half of a rigorous season and also remind us to look toward the joy of Easter itself. Hoorah, I’ll take it and just in the nick o’ time, if you ask me!
Indeed, “The strictness of the the Lenten Liturgy is interrupted on this Sunday with words that speak to us of joy. … As Holy Week and Easter draw near, so do forgiveness, mercy, divine compassion, and a superabundance of grace.” Francis Fernandez, “In Conversation with God; Lent and Eastertide.”
{You might wonder why I post about these Catholic observances and the theology behind them….or you might not…but just in case you do: I post about them because I think about them and, almost always, find that they are mirroring, on a grand and awesome scale, what is churning about in my own tiny little life. }

We are given flowers on the altar, the vestments change from the penitential color of purple to a lighter shade, a rose. The music is less somber. We are reminded that we can have joy, even in suffering and trials…but it is a joy that is not of the world. It is a joy that is more real and truer, deeper and one of seeming contradiction. It the joy of being united to Christ, even in the cross. As Pope Paul VI points out “Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the occasions of pleasure, but finds great difficulty in giving birth to happiness.” True happiness, joy, can be found in this contradiction of our modern world. Its not the surfeit of stuff that makes us happy, its the surrendering of our very selves, letting them go.

Laetare Sunday is also known as Mothering Sunday, from Gallations which points out our right to be called sons of God as the source of our joy. Which also of course, has, for me, a mom-adoptive connection (I know, a one-note kind of gal. Don’t judge me, I can’t help it. Because, yes, once again, it’s all about me).

So, all the facets of this day kind of converge for me.
As usual, the liturgical rhythm is ever so germane to my own little mundane gerbil mill life……{And, why yes, I have been stewing about how all this jives up. You may look to my last post on roller coasters, just below, to see why}.

And so I think today is a little gift, I take it as one.
Because this was a tough week, and might be a few tough weeks ahead, as my overactive imagination can dream up all the ways this court date and visa issue can go wrong…as I fret and stew even as I determine not to.
This day, today, encourages me to carry this cross, such a meager one as it may be.
To keep stepping forward in faith, no matter what may come…to keep working on trusting instead of doubting and kvetching. Instead it encourages me.
There are too many connections for it not to deeply resonate for me.

So, in order that I will remember them in the coming weeks until Easter, and even more, until our court date (just over one week!), I am going to make a list.
A laetare list, if you will.

Bear with me…Here goes:

Lent, a time of penance, sacrifice and mindfulness of being called to be more than we settle for, for remembering we are called to step out of our comfort zones in faith and hope.
The difficulty of actually following through on these efforts, or any effort really, to step out of our perfectly tufted comfort zones {ok, me}.
The great gift of a little oasis, a break, and encouragement for our body, mind, heart and spirit.
Today as Mothering Sunday…with all that implies, to me: caring feeding nurturing supporting directing healing holding tight.
This is what our faith does.
This is what the eucharist does.
This is what the Church does.
This is what a mom does.
This is what I am being called to do, today, and more, adding to it, hopefully soon.
Lent itself helps prepare us to do this, on all levels.

And more, on the tangible level:
Girls like pink.
Me too.
My new daughter seems to love pink.
She looks beautiful in pink.
I love food of all sorts.
I love to feed people.

I love flowers.
I love breaks, because I am a wuss.

So, we’ve got a liturgical oasis, flowers, pink, snacks, Mothering, rigor, breaks and joy.
What’s not to like?

So, as I sit and wait in prayer and hope for our court date, I will also join this effort to simply wait more closely to Lent the season and this walk. This is perhaps one of my more “lived out” Lents. No wonder it hurts…… but, ah today, is Laetare Sunday. Not today.