A CLOCKWORK PUNK…..(a tale of grace)

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I was 17…young, impressionable, angry at the world…..

Sounds familiar, right? A tale only too familiar to most….

I spent the next 23 years in sin….committing all the oldest sins in the latest fashions…..drinking, fornicating, stealing, destroying…. I was the very example of the kind of guy your mother warned you about.

I had tried to change, of course I did…but it never took…then, without warning, my life suddenly turned on me and the sins of my past swarmed up around my chin like a sludge of unholy sewage.

I was rudderless, adrift in the sea of my past and my sins… slowly sinking…the weight of it pulling me down inch, by inch, by inch…

Oh sure, I could see the Hand reaching down, but would I grasp it? No.

I was CONVINCED that the hand extended was only there to pull me up and then let me drop from a height….back into the sludge…. I became angrier…shouting at the Hand… “LIAR”, I screamed at it..”FALSE PROPHET!”

The Hand stayed there, just out of my reach…..

I was not looking for the descent of someone I hardly even knew…someone whose goodness and kindness were unmatched in my life…someone who had something I never thought to have before… he had FAITH….an ANGEL made flesh..

Though we had never clasped hands, nor embraced as brothers, he altered my view of the world….

He sacrificed himself in an act of guilt, or sorrow (I will never truly know which) and in that instant…that moment of his weakness…I found the step, his remains that fell underneath my past made a ladder to lift me just within reach of The Hand….

I grasped it…slicked as I was from the slime of my past…every time I started to fall back, it caught me…

Gently, with great tenderness, it slowly elevated me…the slimy muck of my sins started to dwindle slowly beneath my feet…

I could still see it…the vast ocean of my past…the desecrated raw stench of my inequities… there, just there….still in sight..

I had never been so high above them before. My mind said “He will let go of me…watch, you will see…and then I will hit the lake of muck again with an even LOUDER splat”…but The Hand kept pulling me upward…

Even as I watched the lake fade from sight, I could still smell it…the rank acidity of my past…even now the smell of it stays on my skin….

The Hand never faltered as I had thought….

Though the slime washed from my skin, the smell of it stayed in my nose…to remind me of it….to show me it IS possible to be pulled from the past…to remind me to never let go of The Hand….

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It placed me on dry ground….in fields strewn with lavender and sweet grasses…

It wiped away the filth of my past, and clothed me in raiment far more costly than I had ever worn before….it gently placed a collar around my neck, not as a chastisement, but as a cherished beloved…

I became the servant of The Hand…the slave…to labor my days remaining in song and praise of the strength of The Hand….that Hand…the one with the hole in the wrist… the one that reached out, and grasped this unclean one of mine…the one that saved me….

Now The Hand reaches out across the World to search for others who are drowning…those still stuck in the lake of despair….only this time His Hand is clasping mine, and it is mine who reaches out to those others…..

Here…here it is…take it….let me help you…..let me pull you from that lake, and show you how together we can link hands and help pull others from their pasts as well….

Reach out…it is not far…it only takes faith.

(Fra. J.L. Wallace, 14 May, 2013)

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READING OF THE DAY: 14 MAY, 2013

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“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.

Remain in my love.

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

You are my friends if you do what I command you.

I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.

I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

This I command you: love one another.” -John 15:9-17.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 14 MAY, 2013

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SAINT THEODORE GUERIN
Foundress of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods
(1798 – 1856)

“What strength the soul draws from prayer! In the midst of a storm, how sweet is the calm it finds in the heart of Jesus. But what comfort is there for those who do not pray?”

These words, written by Mother Theodore Guérin after surviving a violent storm at sea, perhaps best exemplify her life and ministry. Truly, Mother Theodore drew strength from prayer, from conversations with God, with Jesus and with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Throughout her life, she encouraged prayer as she sought to share the love of God with people everywhere.

Mother Theodore-Anne-Thérèse Guérin-was born Oct. 2, 1798, in the village of Etables, France. Her devotion to God and to the Roman Catholic Church began when she was a young child.

She was allowed to receive her First Communion at the age of 10 and, at that time, told the parish priest that someday she would be a nun.

The child Anne-Thérèse often sought solitude along the rocky shore near her home, where she devoted hours to meditation, reflection and prayer. She was educated by her mother, Isabelle Guérin, who centered lessons on religion and Scripture, thus nurturing the child’s love of God.

Anne-Thérèse’s father, Laurent, who served in Napoleon’s navy, was away from home for years at a time. When Anne-Thérèse was 15 years old, her father was murdered by bandits as he traveled home to visit his family.

The loss of her husband nearly overwhelmed Isabelle and, for many years, Anne-Thérèse bore the responsibility of caring for her mother and her young sister, as well as the family’s home and garden.

Through those years of hardship and sacrifice, indeed through all the years of her life, Mother Theodore’s faith in God neither wavered nor faltered. She knew in the depths of her soul that God was with her and always would be with her, a constant companion.

Anne-Thérèse was nearly 25 years old when she entered the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir, a young community of women religious serving God by providing opportunities for education to children and by caring for the poor, sick and dying.

While teaching and caring for the sick in France, Mother Theodore, then known as Sister St. Theodore, was asked to lead a small missionary band of Sisters of Providence to the United States of America, to establish a motherhouse, to open schools and to share the love of God with pioneers in the Diocese of Vincennes in the State of Indiana.

Humble and prone to feelings of unworthiness, Mother Theodore could not imagine that she was suitable for such a mission. Her health was fragile. During her novitiate with the Sisters of Providence, she became very ill.

Remedies cured the illness but severely damaged her digestive system; for the remainder of her life she was able to consume only soft, bland foods and liquids.

Her physical condition added to her doubts about accepting the mission. Nevertheless, after hours of prayer and lengthy consultations with her superiors, she accepted the mission, fearing that if she did not, no one would venture to the wilderness to share the love of God.

Equipped with little more than her steadfast desire to serve God, Mother Theodore and her five companion Sisters of Providence arrived at the site of their mission at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, the evening of October 22, 1840, and immediately hastened along a muddy, narrow path to the tiny log cabin that served as the chapel.

There, they knelt in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to thank God for their safe journey and to ask for God’s blessings for the new mission.

Here, on this hilly, ravine-cut, densely forested land, Mother Theodore would establish a motherhouse, a school and a legacy of love, mercy and justice that continues to this day.

Throughout years of sorrow and years of peace, Mother Theodore relied upon God’s Providence and her own ingenuity and faith for counsel and guidance. She urged Sisters of Providence to “Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence.”

In letters to France, she stated, “But our hope is in the Providence of God, which has protected us until the present, and which will provide, somehow, for our future needs.”

In the fall of 1840, the mission at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods consisted only of a tiny log cabin chapel that also served as lodging for a priest, and a small frame farmhouse, where Mother Theodore, the sisters from France and several postulants lived.

During that first winter, harsh winds blew from the north to rattle the little farmhouse The sisters were often cold and frequently hungry. But they transformed a porch into a chapel and were comforted by the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the humble motherhouse. Mother Theodore said, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?”

During the early years at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Mother Theodore encountered numerous trials: prejudice against Catholics and, especially, against Catholic women religious; betrayals; misunderstandings; the separation of the Congregation in Indiana from the one in Ruillé; a devastating fire that destroyed an entire harvest leaving the sisters destitute and hungry, and frequent life-threatening illnesses.

Still she persevered, desiring only that “In all and everywhere may the will of God be done.”

In correspondence to friends, Mother Theodore acknowledged the tribulations. She wrote: “If ever this poor little Community becomes settled, it will be established on the Cross; and that is what gives me confidence and makes me hope, sometimes even against hope.”

Less than a year after arriving at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Mother Theodore opened the Congregation’s first Academy and, in 1842, established schools at Jasper, Indiana, and St. Francisville, Illinois

By the time of her death on May 14, 1856, Mother Theodore had opened schools in towns throughout Indiana, and the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence was strong, viable and respected.

Always, Mother Theodore attributed the growth and success of the Sisters of Providence to God and to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to whom she dedicated the ministry at Saint Mary-of-the- Woods.

Mother Theodore’s holiness was evident to people who knew her, and many described her simply as “saintly”. She possessed the ability to draw out the best in people, to enable them to attain more than they thought possible.

Mother Theodore’s love was one of her great hallmarks. She loved God, God’s people, the Sisters of Providence, the Roman Catholic Church and the people she served.

She did not exclude anyone from her ministries or her prayers, for she dedicated her life to helping people know God and live better lives.

Mother Theodore knew that alone she could do nothing, but that all things were possible with God. She accepted trials, trouble and occasions when she was treated unjustly as part of her life.

In the midst of persecution, Mother Theodore remained true, a faithful woman of God.

Mother Theodore died sixteen years after she arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. During those fleeting years, she touched a countless number of lives-and continues to do so today.

The gift she gives to each succeeding generation is her life as a model of holiness, virtue, love and faith.

She was beatified on October 25, 1998 by John Paul II and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 15, 2006 in Rome.

(SOURCE: Libreria Editrice Vaticana….YES, THE VATICAN LIBRARY….stop staring 😀 )