A Blessing for Caily

Caily the cat in her play tunnel

Caily hiding in her play-tunnel!

I am blessed.  I found my little Caily-Kitty at the St. Francis Animal Shelter in Venice this summer and she has been my constant companion, confidant, and receiver of tears and interminable hugs.  She is an unlimited source of entertainment. During our exodus from Florida while we escaped hurricane Irma, Caily traveled with me uncomplaining.  She spent hours upon hours in the car with me, asking for breaks every two hours, which I obliged.  In the hotel rooms, she cuddled up with me on whatever bed we had for the night, just content to be by my side. What more can anyone ask for?

This little love is precious. Caily is smart, amuses herself with all kinds of toys, and has a great appetite for food and life.  She’s happy and healthy and just glad to be with me every day.

Father Fred with pets for blessing

Father Fred with service dogs after Pet Blessing

Today, at my Church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Osprey, our pastor, Father Fred, hosted a “Pet Blessing” in honor of St. Francis of Assisi’s Feast Day, which is this upcoming Wednesday, October 3rd. God has blessed me with Caily and today God blessed her.  It’s all very extraordinary.

I am especially fond of the St. Francis Prayer of Peace that I will share with you all here:

St. Francis Prayer of Peace

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy.
O Divine Master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled
As to console; To be understood,
As to understand; To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are
Born to eternal life.
___________________________

Peace be with you all.

Julianne

Is it Time to Write a Testimony to your Faith?

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel windows

The beautiful stained glass windows of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Osprey, FL

There are many reasons why you might write and publish an autobiography or your memoirs. Some write to set the record straight, others to capture and preserve precious family memories and still others want to leave behind the proof and some measure of the meaning of their existence, for generations to come.

For those of you who have a strong faith in God, and either belong to a particular organized religion or practice your faith privately, as a personal relationship with God, creating a lifetime book can be a lasting testament to your Faith.

Most of us grew up practicing some form of religion because our parents went to Church, Synagogue or other place of worship. You may have attended religious services with your extended family, celebrating milestones, as in a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, and for Catholics, receiving sacraments like First Holy Communion or Confirmation.  Then as we gained our independence in college or in our new careers or vocations, many of us drifted away from organized religion. Some began to question the beliefs taught by our parents and religious leaders and we wondered, sometimes scientifically, about the meaning of life and the existence of God and we questioned His relevance to our lives.

Then without warning, there comes a day when we are struck by tragedy –a loved one is critically ill, a spouse or close friend dies from an illness or accident, a neighbor suffers from an addiction. To cope, some of us come back to God, not always because of any new revelation or understanding, but because we need Him desperately to help us find some way to bear this burden. We may turn to God because He is the only one left to petition.

This is what happened to me: After high school, I had what some might call a crisis of faith.  After a failed marriage and teaching career, I absorbed all the revolutionary thought and rejection of the “establishment” during the turbulent 1960’s. I questioned everything, including my faith. I stopped going to Church and when I met my second husband, Gene, my heart returned to God, but in a very personal way.  To be honest, Christ was not an active presence in my life, but rather Jesus’ life and teaching was the basis for my return to traditional values and beliefs.

Then tragedy struck. My husband, Gene, was diagnosed with cancer and died a year and half later. I was devastated.

I moved out of our home in New Jersey and took up residence on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I was reeling from the emotional turmoil that remained after all the time I witnessed my husband’s struggle against cancer and cared for him. I suffered deeply from the loss of his love and our relationship.

I craved the warmth of a “community,” and I sought solace in the local Catholic Church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Osprey.  I joined this community and met a pastor and a congregation who welcomed me with open arms.  Their Grief Support Group helped me weather my personal storm, and I am so grateful. I found peace of mind in the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation and I took solace in a new relationship with God and my religion, as I practice my faith once again.

The ebb and flow of religious fervor that I believe occurs not in the mind, but in the heart, is something that merits testimony. It is a story that begs to be told! Every one of us has a personal journey that may or may not include the recognition of a God who is involved in our destiny. Every story is different. We each have a different starting point and an equally unique destination. We have our reasons for maintaining or abandoning our faith or returning to it, but there is one thing that binds us together in our humanity and cannot be denied – the certainty and inevitability of death.

We are mortal beings and someday all that is in our minds and hearts will be left to those who hold our legacy in their memories. As a resource, they will have our photos and videos and leftover texts, online posts and voice mail messages.  But someday we will no longer be around to explain these, to recount our struggles with faith, or to pass on the lessons we may have learned through the years.

So, if you have learned something important about your relationship with Christ, maybe it’s time to put your story down on paper, if for no other reason, as a testimony to your Faith.

Sincerely,

julianne