Archive for March, 2006

My Santo Niño

This little statue has been my favorite since I found it three years ago. It came to me in a jumbled box lot from an estate sale. Look at it closely and it is a reassembled puzzle glued together after a bad break. The neck and the base and back have been repaired. The statue was quite dark with dirt when I found it, but has been cleaned just this side of falling apart. It is Portuguese and the eyes are made of glass, giving it a kind and sympathetic countenance. It sits on top of my desk in my writing space in the basement.

Alas, not for me the window view for writing. I do best in my spot underneath the living room, where I can hear the children going about their treks, their games, their cooking. It was many years before I grabbed onto the notion of a place of my own to write. I do it best right here, where disturbance is minimal.

This little statue reminds me of my nephew Jimmy, who looked a lot like this when he was a tiny boy. It’s a sweet religious image. So approachable. Since I understand children, it is so easy for me to pray wrapped in this devotion. I just talk and tell Jesus what I need and I pray for my family, my friends, one by one. It’s conversational and very Filipino. It comes from the heart and not from the detached intellect. It’s a conversation, not a meditation. It’s full of pleas and please. Talking to children is easy, they listen with their big eyes. I become an asking child when I pray to the Santo Niño.

The devotion to the Holy Child was brought to the Philippines in the 1500’s. As is so typical in these stories of religious devotion in the Philippines, the people were in a state of expectation for the Holy Child as he was prefigured in their animist religion. When Magellan arrived, things began peacefully. The Queen of Cebu, Ratu Humanay, was very touched when encountering the Santo Niño statue that Magellan brought with him. She asked to be baptized.

People oftentime think that the Santo Niño de Cebu devotion is the same as the Infant of Prague. The Filipino devotion has an earlier history since Magellan landed in 1521 and the devotion was revived when Legazpi arrived in 1565.

Magellan was killed by Lapu-lapu and the remains of the Spanish fleet hobbled back to Spain. The crew of 250 was reduced to 8. It took some years for the Spanish king to put the Philippines back on its immediate agenda.

When Miguel de Legazpi returned, he fired on the village. Probably in retaliation for Magellan’s death. Several of the huts caught fire, then the wind changed and the rest of the village was kept from burning. One of the Spanish soldiers found a chest with Spanish rope tied around it. In that chest was this statue of the Santo Niño, lying hidden for 44 years. It was the statue given by Magellan to Ratu Humanay. You can read all about the Santo Niño of Cebu right here.

When I was a little girl in the Philippines, I knew so many people who had a deep devotion to the Santo Niño. Stories about prayers answered, tragedies averted, jobs gotten, narrow escapes abounded in the lore of the answered prayer. Filipinos have an external way of showing religious devotion. They are big on ritual, fiesta, public encounters with the Divine. Now that I am almost fifty, I would love to go back and sing my thanks at the Shrine of the Santo Niño. There is so much to be thankful for, and an ongoing list of petitions that need Divine Intervention. Until then, I have my little statue. One day I hope to have a large Santo Niño pendant to wear around my neck like my Aunty Lynne. Someday.

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If you click this link you’ll see the successful progression of fundraising for our favorite dog patient, Sasquatch. For those of you checking in, we met Sasquatch , the adorable giant, at a UP Concert Chorus reunion in February. Shortly thereafter, Ram, his owner (though that word falls so short of reality) told me about his newly observed disability.

Word got out, and people responded, as they usually do, with kindness and generosity. The first fundraising target was met in a short time. Sasquatch’s story got aired on TV and was covered by the news. This is the part of the story where one just marvels at how interconnected we all remain with our old friends. That Concert Chorus group is especially marvelous as people seem to have aged toward the Lord than away from him, which makes for concentric circles of grace and love billowing out from the prayer and the request for help.

So we keep praying and hoping and thanking as we watch His Work in action.

All best wishes and prayers this week for our friend Sasquatch, as he goes into his big week of tests!

God Bless you Ram! Stay strong and positive and know we are all here.


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Our Monk Friends

Introducing Brother John Raymond, and Brother Craig of the Monks of the Adoration. These very special monks came into our lives many, many years ago when my second child, John Michael was born. JM had a medical mismanagement birth crisis and his life was in danger. I called everyone I knew and everyone I knew of, for prayers. I called the Monks of the Adoration, whose small advertisement I had seen in a Catholic newspaper, and who at that time lived in Petersham, Massachusetts. I spoke to Brother Craig, who was so kind.

JM was healed, came home, and months passed. On the Feast of the Divine Mercy we went out on a whim to Stockbridge MA to visit the Shrine of the Divine Mercy. It was a beautiful spring day and the sky was blue and dotted with flying clouds. There, on a grassy hill, we saw the gray robed kindhearts and approached. We were delighted to meet them in person and we were so infused with their special joy and simplicity. Thus began a friendship. Sometimes our communication was regular. Sometimes we got in touch only when we were in need of prayers.

Here is the page where they have a webcam pointed to their tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament is kept.This is wonderful. You can click on the link and see the Tabernacle and say a prayer. It is a powerful prayer window.

Then, here is an online book called the “Positive Power” by Brother Craig. This is great for me as I have personally seen these monks achieve great things against remarkable worldly odds. They go about life always moving forward, always in faith, and it always comes together with great abundance.

Brother Craig is also a health enthusiast, and was gained wide media acclaim when he wrote his weight loss book, “Love Yourself.. So Hate the Weight” losing 114 pounds in 14 months. He successfully achieved this physical overhaul and emerged lean, healthy and energetic.

At this time, they’ve recently completed their new monastery in Florida. So those New England winters are a thing of the past. Lucky brothers! They recently have a new vocation, Brother Mark.

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Radical Hope

There are times when things seem so practically impossible that the only saving impulse is to go forward with a blind faith and a radical hope. Think for a minute and believe that this exuberant hope planted in your heart is answered. Feel the joy of the answered prayer. Let it run through you and feel relieved that the challenge is conquered. Thank God for the grace and settle into the joy of this stubborn hope. Then take a deep breath and go forward.

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Someday soon….

Someday soon, days will be like this. I will be able to open the front door and walk across the street through the old grounds of the Reed Estate. I will be able to keep walking all the way to Hawthorne Street without a sweater and watch the sun dappling the grass. If I felt like it, I could turn around and go back home and sit on the porch for an hour, just watching the wind move the leaves. Then, I could do anything I wanted. Cook, read, watch the kids play. I could take the dog across the street and watch her fly around the perimeter of the fences, the old stone walls, the new chain link ones.

I could go upstairs and look out my window and watch the evening light arrive, first turning the tops of the maple trees gold. Then, slowly, the light would fade and turn to dark blue. With the windows wide open I could hear the sound of the wind in the trees.

But not yet. This year the cold is hanging on. It is an act of faith, at this point, to know that the warmth is just around the corner.

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