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Be a light in the darkness

September 11, 2018

Once Mother Teresa was staying with a community of her sisters who worked among the Aborigines in Australia. She visited an elderly man who lived in total isolation, ignored by everyone. His home was a filthy wreck. She told him, “Please let me clean your house, wash your clothes and make your bed.” He answered, “I'm OK like this. Let it be.” She said, “You will be still better if you allow me to do it.” He finally agreed. While she was cleaning, she discovered a beautiful lamp, covered with dust; it looked like it hadn't been used in years. “Don't you light that lamp?” she said, “Don't you ever use it?” He answered, “No. No one comes to see me. I have no need to light it. Who would I do it for?” Mother Teresa asked, “Would you light it every night if the sisters came?” He replied, “Of course.” From that day on, the sisters committed themselves to visiting him every evening. Mother Theresa left Australia. Two years passed. She had completely forgotten about that encounter. Then she received a message from him: “Tell my friend that the light she lit in my life still continues to shine.” (From https://www.spiritualdirection.com/2010/02/01/does-christ-suffer-with-me-when-i-suffer)

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday!

April 8, 2018

So my daughter decided to take her payment in sugar for helping me at the Divine Mercy retreat and concert yesterday in Katy, Texas. Not a bad deal!

We had a wonderful afternoon and evening at Epiphany of the Lord, as well as at the welcome party the night before at the gracious home of Wayne and Carol Meyer. Next stop: Concert in Chattanooga! #divinemercydivas #southernhospitality, #dylanscandybar #missionarylife

In the Breaking of the Bread

April 4, 2018

April 4, 2018: This song, "In the Breaking of the Bread" (written by Michael Ward) sums up today’s gospel reading beautifully. As I do every year on the Feast of Divine Mercy, I’ll be singing this song after Communion in thanksgiving for the gift of Divine Mercy in my life and in my family's. This year it will be in Katy, TX, at Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church. Can’t wait!

My friend Msgr. Christopher Nalty posted this video (created by another friend of his) on youtube that puts images to the song, which you can find on my CD, The Miracle of Divine Mercy--hope you enjoy it, and Happy Easter!

Good Friday: The Best Birthday Ever

March 31, 2018

So I asked my birthday girl (14 years old today!) what she wanted to do to celebrate. It was a tough call since it fell on Good Friday this year. “Let’s go to Canal Street and pray with the homeless people,” she replied.

This didn’t come out of the blue, mind you. Our family had been walking down Canal Street in downtown New Orleans months earlier—on Christmas Eve, in fact—on our way to brunch at the Palace Café and then to see White Christmas at the Saenger. I was admiring the beautiful decorations and the cloudless blue sky on our walk, oblivious to the people around me.

Stopping at a street corner, she asked, “Mom, why didn’t you help that woman sitting on the ground? She didn’t have a sign or anything, but she looked like she needed some help. Can we go back?”

In my rush to get to our destination and my husband back to the pit in time for downbeat, I told her we would return when we had more time, my heart sinking in my chest. Now three months later, she said she was ready to go back for her birthday.

I was both super proud of her and anxious about what lay ahead of us. What would we say? How would we know who to pick? Would anyone try to hurt her?

As I prayed for guidance, we packed up gallon-size Ziplock bags with snacks, old Magnificat booklets, juice boxes, miraculous medals on chains, rosaries, “Remember you are loved” wristbands, etc., and we headed out on our adventure with four special friends: Mary Bielski, a youth evangelist from Indiana living in New Orleans; Paola Doria, Mary’s friend and a former FOCUS missionary; Leila Benoit, the principal of Archbishop Chapelle High School; and Fr. Chris DeLerno, pastor of St. Mary Magdalene Church in Metairie, LA—a truly gifted group of humans.

Our first encounter was with Charles. He was an African American man with a gentle spirit and the most beautiful blue eyes—truly mesmerizing. Charles was sitting on “his corner” in front of the Ritz-Carlton enjoying some peanuts when Mary struck up a conversation in her casual, endearing way. Charles was in his late 50’s and out of work. He had been a porter and worked in engineering at the Ritz and at the Roosevelt, but he had “retired” and now missed the job.

He really wanted a job at the Roosevelt again, he said, so we prayed for that very thing. Mostly we just listened to him as we sat down next to him on the edge of the building and kept him company. After giving him a gallon-size goodie bag, we blessed him (“God bless you, Charles!” said my beaming daughter) and headed off to find someone else.

Before the next block Mary started musing, “What if we found him a job today? Couldn’t we just go see about that?” And off we went to the Roosevelt. Half an hour later, she had charmed most of the people at the concierge counter, engaged the Human Resources department, and gone back to find Charles.

Mary tracked him down a couple of blocks away and brought him back to the hotel, offering him a chair in the lobby as we set up an email account and filled out his application. He didn’t really know his address and didn’t have a phone number, but we did our best. The most beautiful moment came when Fr. Chris gave him a final blessing. When he placed his hand on Charles’ shoulder, he hung his head as tears began to fall. A heavy velvet silence fell over all of us in that moment of fraternal communion. It was beautiful.

Charles walked with us for a while down Canal street and then went his own way. At that point Leila asked if I had fed the parking meter (details...), so Fr. Chris, Leila and I went back to the car. It was great to hear his story and how God had called him into the priesthood—especially after his experience as a Nuclear Missile Launch Officer in the Air Force (what?!). We found my car with a big ugly neon orange parking ticket, but at least it was still there.

Then we met Almedra. She was sitting on the edge of Canal Street looking so very tired. We sat down on the sidewalk with her and asked if there was anything we might pray for with her.

“A healthy mind and an end to my bad habits,” she replied. So we prayed, and then I asked if I could put a miraculous medal around her neck with an image of the Virgin Mary on the front.

“Mary is everybody’s mother,” I explained, “and we all need a good mother looking out for us, don’t we?” She nodded as I spoke her to her about God’s personal love for her. “That’s a beautiful thing to say to someone,” she said, “that God loves them.”

I asked Almedra where she would be spending the night, and she said she would grab a few minutes here and there on the street, using her books for a pillow—but she doesn’t like sleeping in that homeless shelter. She’s been living this way for about a year, and she showed it.

Frustrated that I couldn’t do more for her I said, “I wish I had a bed to give you.” Almedra looked up at me with her tired eyes and said, “Well, you saying that is as good as you giving me a bed to sleep in—that you care about me having a bed or not.”

That statement was the highlight of the day for me, and it taught me a valuable lesson: We don’t need to solve everyone’s problems. We just need to love them and let them know that we care.

At this point we all took a break for a delicious birthday lunch in the French Quarter (seafood, of course), and then we headed back to the car.

There were others we encountered on the way—the schizoaffective guy wearing a cowboy hat, fishnets and fake breasts; the toothless drunk guy who sang to us and made bizarre bird call noises between scripture quotes; and the elderly woman with shingles who just wanted someone to call her a taxi to take her to Wal-Mart.

This last woman was named Mary, and Cecilia and I prayed a prayer of command for her healing right there on Canal Street. As we waited with her for an Uber driver to arrive (“You sure this is a taxi?”), her face lit up. “I feel so much better!” she said.

We got Mary comfortable in the back seat, paid the driver, and headed back to our car. All of us took a collective big breath and let out a sigh from a day well spent. Looking in the rear view mirror for my birthday girl, she smiled and said, “Best. Birthday. Ever.”

If she has her way, this will become an annual event. And if you are moved by this simple story, I hope you find the “Almedra” in your city who is just waiting for someone to care that she doesn’t have a bed.

Save the Date for Holy Land Pilgrimage, Lent 2019

March 18, 2018

I'm so excited to finally share this with you! Only 39 spots available for this Lenten pilgrimage to the Holy Land. My friend Barbara Heil will be our tour leader--she's amazing--and I'll be leading the singing. Our priest is Fr. Bosco from Rwanda, and he will be traveling with us and offering daily Mass. The cost will be $4300 or less (all-inclusive), and the itinerary is being finalized.  Visit http://fromhisheart.com/kclevelandpilgrimage/ for more information and to reserve your spot!  We expect to sell out very quickly.

Letter from Bishop Ricken of Green Bay, WI

February 21, 2018

A Visitation in the ICU

September 1, 2017

On Memorial Day this year, I ended up in the ER with a dangerously slow heartbeat--somewhere between the 20's and 40's.  They pumped me full of nausea-inducing dopamine to get my heart rate up, and then they told me I would be getting an itty bitty pacemaker as my parting gift.

After my pity party, I realized with joy that the surgery would take place on the Feast of the Visitation, when Mary went with haste to visit Elizabeth in her time of need.  The timing felt like a kiss from Mama Mary as friends and family rallied with prayers, treats, visits to the ICU, and even a smuggled bottle of wine.  To top it all off, an order of 50 nuns (providentially called the Servants of the Pierced Hearts) fasted for me on the day of my surgery. The Body of Christ lifted me up in love and carried me along on a cloud of grace.  I had never been so at peace.  In fact, right before they wheeled me into the OR, I was inspired to sing this hymn of praise to God with Mary:

I also knew that this powerful, undeserved gift of intercessory prayer had to be for some special purpose.  As my heart was being pierced in surgery, I knew that Jesus wanted to pierce my soul, too--making a way for a greater capacity for love, a greater receptivity and docility to the movement of the Holy Spirit within. What I didn't know then was that he would do this through suffering.

The surgery went spectacularly well, and the doctor planned to discharge me the next day.  He mentioned with a wry grin that I was quite "chatty" during the surgery, not only grilling him about what he was doing to me, but also singing "Holy Is His Name" for the surgical staff through my oxygen mask.

As I prepared to resume life as usual back at home (as much as possible with an immobilized left arm and a swollen chest wound), the "bigeminy arrhythmia" began.  It felt like my heart was skipping every other beat, pulsing hard and slow in my throat like I was getting incessant jolts of adrenaline.  It lasted for hours a day and throughout the night.  As the weeks wore on it left me exhausted, immobile, short of breath, and depressed.  My weight crept up, and much of my hair fell out.  The doc said there was really no cure, just trying different meds to manage it.  I did my best to smile for my family, but I couldn't see how I could go on living like that. I didn't want to die, but I was bereft of any comfort or consolation.

Then, just as quickly as the bigeminy came on, it suddenly disappeared. My only response could be--and still is--profound gratitude. If you prayed for me, thank you!  I'm back to my sassy old self.  But the trial left me humbled and with a greater compassion for those who suffer, both physically and morally.

Are you hurting right now?  Do you feel--like I did--that God has abandoned you? Know that God loves you more than you can fathom, and He has plans to work all of this for your good--and the good of others, too (Rom. 8:28). As St. Teresa of Calcutta said, one of the greatest tragedies is wasted suffering. Let's not waste these opportunities to unite our burdens to the cross of Christ as a powerful prayer for others.

Hold on, my friends. God desires your ultimate good, and he will not allow you to suffer without providing the grace for the day--all you need do is humbly ask and receive ("Give us this day our daily bread..."). The Lord is very close.

In the meantime:

1).  Be encouraged. Miracles happen every day. Pray with an expectant faith.
2).  Be sure to ask others to pray for you, as well.  The body of Christ will lift you up when you don't have the strength.
3).  Praise God in the midst of--and even because of--the trial, making an act of faith that He will work it for the good. This not only gives great glory to God, it guards our hearts and minds against despair.  This, too, shall pass in the fullness of time, and you will come out purified and stronger on the other end.

And from Scripture:

"God is close to the broken-hearted; those who are crushed in spirit, he saves." Ps. 34:18

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Rom. 8:28

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: Rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:4-7

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church." Col. 1:24

"Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (2 Cor. 12:9)

Hold on, dear one.  The best is yet to come.

In His Love,

 

Entering the Eye of the Storm

August 31, 2017

I took this photo a few weeks after my pacemaker surgery. Notice the dove in the clouds! "If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:9-10)"

Friends, as we mark the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; watch with horror at the unfolding of the devastation wrought by Harvey; and anxiously anticipate the development of Irma, it is easy to lose our bearing and become swept up in the chaos swirling around us.

But God tells us to "be anxious for nothing."  

So, how do we do that? If you are having a hard time resting in the peaceful presence of God, please take a moment to listen to "Eye of the Storm," a song inspired while I sought refuge in an adoration chapel in Beaumont, TX, during our displacement.  Our God is a God of accompaniment, and he cares for you.

If you are one of my friends in Texas or western Louisiana, know that we are praying with earnest for your well-being and are sending supplies.  We've been through a lot already, and we know that, together, we can get through anything.

In His Love,

The Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Good Counsel

April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017; Several years ago, I sought spiritual direction from a priest in New Orleans who happens to have many mystical gifts. When I walked into the room, he said, "I see Our Lady of Good Counsel with you." This is a centuries-old title for the Blessed Virgin Mary with a miraculous image associated with it.

I was unfamiliar with the image, but when I returned home I realized that the icon hanging in my bedroom, which had been brought to me by my sister Caroline as a souvenir from Italy, was indeed Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Shortly thereafter, I gave a concert in Pensacola, FL. A delightful woman named Sara Edwards gifted me with a beautiful blue pearl and crystal necklace that she had made for me. Sara said that she usually adds a medal of St. Thérèse, but something told her that I needed Our Lady of Good Counsel!  I think she was trying to get my attention.  As my friend Katsey put it, Our Lady was just letting me know that she's always here for me.

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Do you need some wise, loving advice from your heavenly mother? Turn to her.

For more information about the miraculous image:  www.clavermissionarysisters.org/?page_id=289

Statement on Charlie Johnston

February 16, 2017

Friends, for those of you who attended the meeting with Charlie Johnston in Covington, LA, last year at the Fleur de Lis Center, I think it's important to emphasize (again) that the Archbishop of Denver later issued a cautionary statement "strongly advising the faithful to exercise prudence and caution in regards to Mr. Charlie Johnston’s alleged divine visions and messages." I took that message to heart then, and I still do.
 
An additional statement was released yesterday that stated, "The events of 2016/17 have shown that Mr. Johnston’s alleged visions were not accurate and the Archdiocese urges the faithful not to condone or support further attempts to reinterpret them as valid." May God bless Charlie as he continues--like the rest of us--to prayerfully discern God's will, ever guided by those with benevolent authority over us.

AGT Auditions Follow-Up

February 11, 2017

Well, friends, we did it!  I drove up to Memphis last weekend for the America's Got Talent auditions with my sister Caroline, her daughter Julia, and my daughter Cecilia (the giggle twins).  After just a few hours of sleep, I registered for my audition Saturday morning along with thousands of other hopefuls.  I was only there for about three hours from start to finish--much less than I was expecting.  There was lots of waiting around, but it was fun to see all of the different acts milling about.  There were some real characters--and real talent--on display!

Here's my brief post-audition video that I posted on Facebook, which will bring you up to date on what's next (I'm sorry it cut out at the end, but I was just saying how my sister Caroline was my hero for driving me home!):

 

Kitty's Auditioning for America's Got Talent!

January 6, 2017

Well, friends...I submitted my video! If the AGT producers give me a front-of-the-line pass, then I'll pray about going to audition live in Memphis on February 4th. Yikes!  Please pray for me. Here's the video--let me know what you think!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5K0eNbgBI0


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