Monday, August 31, 2009

It Takes Blind Faith


Dear readers:
Another year, another white elephant sale, and look what I found: this beautiful statue of the Little Flower encased in an ornate frame. It was the first thing I saw when I walked into the room. It certainly stood out among the other, smaller items on the table.

I walked closer to inspect it further, unbelieving. The lady who was volunteering there came over to me and saw my reaction.

"I think it's St. Therese," she said, studying it.

"Oh, it's her all right," I said quietly. I had to smile, thinking how every year, I find something from St. Therese at this sale. I wasn't expecting something this big, this ornate, but there it was, looking at me, begging for me to take it home.

"It's so big," I said, wondering where it would go. I leaned in closer and saw that it needed work: a dusting, a new paint job in places where the paint had flecked off, a chipped finger.

Yet... what if someone bought it just to make money off of it, not because they loved the Little Flower? Or what if someone bought it and it got kicked around in their basement, never to be enjoyed or respected? Or...the unthinkable...what if it wound up in a trash can somewhere? I cringed.

"It was dropped off yesterday by someone who said it was originally owned by a blind priest," the lady said. "If you want it, you should get it now, before Mass starts. I think this will be sold quickly."

I glanced at the price sticker. The lady was right; it would definitely sell quickly at that inexpensive price! Surely it was mismarked? No, it wasn't.

"I'll take it," I said. "I can paint it and fix it up good as new."

As I carried it out to my car, I still felt a little unsure, wondering where I would put it. The fancy design doesn't really go with the rest of my house, but it is such a beautiful portrait of her. I knew I had to have it, but why?

Then I realized that it doesn't really matter why, or where, or how. I thought of the blind priest who owned it. He couldn't even see its beauty, yet he knew it was her and he knew it was there, hanging in his residence, and that had made him happy.

Yesterday my son helped me repaint Therese. We painted her flowers a pretty, deep pink, and touched up the black paint on her veil and the frame. And I thought of the faith and trust that the blind priest had. He knew he had something beautiful, even though he couldn't see it. We should all have that kind of faith. We know God's love is beautiful, even though sometimes we don't see it in every situation. But we trust in Him, and we know that love is always there.

I imagined the blind priest, having such a beautiful image on his wall. He couldn't even enjoy its beauty, at least not in the sense of physical sight. What trust and love he must have had for God and His Little Flower! What faith he must have had!

As we finished painting Therese, I felt a sense of relief and happiness. I knew this beautiful statue had gotten into the right hands. I still don't know where it will go, but I have faith. Isn't that what St. Therese teaches us every day?

I wonder what I'll find at next year's white elephant sale!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You Never Know What Treasures You'll Find...




Dear readers:
Have you ever heard of a white elephant sale? No, it has nothing to do with the zoo! It's a rummage sale of sorts, and the one I went to was held at a local Catholic church, St. Alan, during their annual summer fair. The highlight of the day, according to many, is the white elephant sale, where untold treasures can be found at a fraction of their original cost: books, toys, housewares, jewelry, and electronics. It's like a big garage sale that has been donated to the church by parishioners, who hope the church can reap some profits. I try to go every year to search through the treasures there.

It's always fun to go through the rooms and check out the tables: DVDs for 50 cents, pretty glasses, gently used toys, and interesting books. But imagine my shock when I came across the above picture last year. I just knew it was meant for me! I've never seen this particular picture before. I felt so lucky to have found it! I kept it in its original frame for about a year, but the curiosity got the better of me: How old was it? Who owned it? Would there be a clue written on the back? So I took it out of the frame it came in, which admittedly was not that pretty. I soon discovered that the wooden frame had been covering some handwriting. At the very bottom is written in ink: "Ste. Therese, The Little Flower, entering Heaven to begin fulfillment of her 'Shower of Roses.' "

I love the sentiment, and felt cheated that, all of this time, that those beautiful words had been hidden beneath the frame! I made up my mind to get rid of the old frame and find a new one that would showcase the pretty words. I haven't done it yet, because I haven't been able to find the perfect frame, it seems. But I know it's out there somewhere. Who wrote those words? Whoever the previous owner of the gorgeous picture is, he or she must have had a special devotion to the Little Flower. And you know what? I think this picture fell into the right hands, if I do say so myself!







Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Delightful Gift From France!






Dear readers:

I had such a surprise when I met my friend, photographer and designer Anne Reeves, for coffee yesterday. Anne has recently returned from Paris. After our hello hugs, she told me, "Hold out your hand."

I did as I was told and she placed a small red box in my palm. When I opened the box, I was delighted to find the above medal of Saint Therese! I was so excited and happy that I was speechless. In French, it says, "Saint Therese of the Child Jesus."

"Is it her?" Anne asked.

"Oh yes!" I said, clutching the medal. "It's her."

Then Anne pulled out a photo to show me. She had taken a picture of the table at the flea market where she had found my medal. "I wanted you to actually see where it came from, to get a feel for it," she said. I studied and stared at the photo.

"Tell me everything," I said to Anne. 



"My husband and I went to the Vanves flea market on the suggestion of friends. I was on the lookout for something for you of Saint Therese," she said. "Then I saw this table and I told my husband, 'I think this is the place!' I asked the lady, in French, 'Je cherche Sainte-Therese?' "

"And?" I asked excitedly.

"And she said, 'Ah, oui, ici!' and she pointed to some of the medals, and I chose this one," she said.

"It's just perfect," I said, sighing.

Anne makes it her business to spread delight to people at her blog, anadesigns.blogspot.com, and she sure spread delight to me yesterday! To think, I now own a little spiritual item from France, Therese's home. I've barely taken it off since!













Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Feast of the Assumption, Saturday, August 15

"Let us live as the Blessed Virgin lived: Loving God only, desiring God only, trying to please God only in all that we do."
—St. John Vianney, Sermon of the Feast of Assumption


Magnificat


My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Scripture text: Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Come to Lisieux, World Center For St. Therese Pilgrimage




Dear readers:
I took this photo in Darien, Illinois, at the Society of the Little Flower. I just fell in love with the framed poster. It is written in French, Therese's native language. It reads: Lisieux, World Center For Pilgrimage, Twenty Minutes from the Sea. If you look very closely above the beautiful basilica, you can see the image of St. Therese above it. Look closely! She looks like she is in the clouds. Look at all of the pilgrims flocking to see the Basilique-Sainte-Therese, or Basilica of St. Therese. I wish I could be one of them. One of my life's goals is to go to Normandy, France to see the Lisieux streets where Therese walked, her home Les Buissonets, the basilica, and the Carmelite convent she lived in there.



Built on a hill, the gorgeous basilica has over two million visitors a year and is big enough to hold 4,000 people. Little Therese would be so amazed to see such a grand church built in her honor! It took about 25 years to build and was funded entirely by donations from countries all over the world who have devotions to her. Because of this, the church contains 18 minor altars offered by different nations. The inside of the basilica is supposed to be beautiful, with many gorgeous mosaics.




One day, God willing, I will take a pilgrimage to Lisieux.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tasty Zucchini Bread

Dear readers:

It's recipe time again! Ohhh, I just made the most delicious zucchini bread today. I have to tell you that I've never made it before. I do enjoy zucchini, but it just never seemed to appeal to me in bread form. Well, yesterday, a friend dropped off the most ENORMOUS zucchini I've ever seen. It was too big to slice for shish kebab, too curved for a gigantic zucchini boat. What to do? Search around for a moist, delicious bread recipe, of course! The one I made here actually made two loaves (I froze one). I added a tasty topping, too, which really makes this loaf extra special. At this time of year, when people have bumper crops of zucchini, it's a good time to get out the box grater and get grating! I hope you enjoy this delicious, moist bread. Happy baking!

Zucchini Bread (makes two loaves)
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup oil + 1/2 cup applesauce)
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (or more) of grated zucchini--do not drain!
1 cup chopped walnuts

Topping ingredients—mix together:
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon


Directions:
1. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (165 degrees C)
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugars together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then add the topping ingredients to the tops of the loaves. Put back in the oven and continue baking for about 30 more minutes, or until tester inserted in the loaves comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes, then remove bread from pan and cool completely.

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