An Old Cashier Reminisces: My Days at Chick-Fil-A

Me wearing my Chick-Fil-A work T-shirt in about 1980. (c) 2012 The Catholic Counselor Lady.

A job after school.

It was during choir practice that the director came up to me and asked if I would be interested in working at the fast food restaurant that he had just started managing. I had not thought about taking a part-time job after school prior to this. My previous employment experience consisted of helping a farmer sell produce at a fruit and vegetable stand in Western New York State.  As a new Southerner, I did not know much about the establishment called Chick-Fil-A.  I told him that I first should check with my parents.  My mother and stepfather thought that it was a great idea.  Within days I was on the schedule for about 20 hours a week which consisted of about three nights a week and Saturdays.  I soon found out that this restaurant was closed on Sundays, for observance of the Lord’s Day.

The blue goose.

At first my stepfather took me to work in his pick-up truck.  But before long my stepfather was able to find a blue Delta 88 Royale Oldsmobile for $500. Nicknamed the blue goose, this vehicle became my mode of transportation to and from school, work, and church. My stepfather put a Food Lion sticker on the back bumper that read, “Lowest Food Prices in Town.”  I remember once running into a stop sign, getting out at an intersection, and noticing not even a scratch on it. That car was made up of pure steel and nothing could dent it. As long as I wore my seatbelt, I could not get hurt. The major drawback was that it took $20 worth of gas a week. And that was back in 1979. I envied those that drove small sporty sedans. But hey, it was my first set of wheels.  So I was thankful.

Before the nugget was invented.

At my first taste of a Chick-Fil-A sandwich, I thought that it was dry. Then I experimented with ketchup, mayonnaise, and adding extra pickles. They didn’t have dipping sauces back then. Soon I was eating chicken sandwiches 3-4 times a week and liking it.  Most people end up hating the food where they work. But in my experience at Chick-Fil-A –my fondness for the sandwich actually grew more as I worked there. I ended up craving them. My family can even testify of my great appreciation for them.  Even before this blog, I raved about the sandwich for years. I saw that they were made with all natural ingredients, and that their products like sweet tea, lemonade, and meringue pie were all made from scratch.  I started working there before the nugget was invented.

I remember the day I burned a whole Henny Penny full of breasts and felt the need to tell the manager that it was my fault. I approached the situation with great dread and fear only to be told not to worry about it.  He stated that he wanted me to run the registers anyway. Back then we had to count back change manually. Fortunately, I had learned how to do that at the produce stand. No fancy cash machines there. We also had to yell the order out to the back, i.e., shout, “no pickle!”, “single!”, “double!.”  Every employee knew what those commands meant. I remember we had all kinds of customers from all walks of life. An elderly gentleman sticks out in my memory, who would order a sandwich, eat half, and ask us to keep the other half warm for him.  And this we did, almost on a daily basis. When he returned his half eaten sandwich was waiting for him.

I remember the day the manager gave us all raises. Minimum wage had increased to $4 an hour. If you are good at math you can probably guess how much I cleared after filling up the blue goose every week. But it ended up being enough to buy a couple of pairs jeans and shirts for school.  Those days it was easier to find nice fitting clothes off the sales racks. I never gained a pound from working and eating at Chick-Fil-A.

Life goes on but some things don’t change.

Before long I was off to college. The manager was kind to let me work there during summer and winter breaks.  As time went on, I moved away and my life took different turns.  Originally these food establishments were only in shopping malls. Imagine the joy I had when they opened the first drive thru and with playgrounds when my kids were born in the 1990s. You can guess what I really missed when I moved to Illinois and the joy I felt when one opened in Downtown Chicago last year in 2011. My post on Facebook stated, “Yes, it is possible for one to go home again.” Upon patronizing that particular store, I was greeted and served by very friend and courteous employees. They even checked-in on me periodically and refilled my drink as I sat in my seat. They are often seen giving out free samples of food.  One random morning they were distributing free chicken biscuits.  

When I first started at Chick-Fil-A, I was a Southern Baptist but years later I would become a Roman Catholic. One thing that remained constant is my appreciation for traditional family values, respect for the Ten Commandments, and observance of the Lord’s Day on Sundays. Some things never change. To me, it was Divine Providence to be able to work at such a place that promotes solid Christian values and love for God.  These days, when I think back and remember, I only appreciate the opportunity all the more.

The Chick-Fil-A controversy: Standing for traditional values.

According to USAToday, the president of Chick-Fil-A took a stance in being “guilty as charged” in terms of his privately owned company supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”  These comments were originally made in an interview with Baptist Press.  Such has caused an uproar among supporters of same-sex marriage.  Some even have vowed to boycott the restaurant.

You can imagine the sadness that pierced my heart when I read the controversy over Chick-Fil-A’s recent stance promoting traditional marriage and family values. And even more deeply concerned about all of the hateful comments made towards an establishment that has always been very charitable toward persons of all backgrounds and orientations. Not everyone who ever worked there has been a practicing or even nominal Christian, even back in my day.  But in my experience and observation, all were respected and treated with dignity at Chick-Fil-A.  I noticed some people ask, “What do their values have to do with selling a chicken sandwich?” Hmm…

God bless Chick-Fil-A management for having the strength to stand by their deeply held values, even now when it is not so popular.  It’s good to hear their voice, like one crying in the wilderness.

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A Saint for Every Multi-Tasking Person (Especially Women!)

The Pieta Prayer Booklet, where I first encountered the 15 Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden.

A Multi-Tasking Person

I have a particular appreciation for Saints who wear many hats.  The Saint for July 23 had many vocations.  She was a wife and a widow, a mother of eight children, a founder of a religious order, a visionary, and an advisor to kings, popes, and priests.  St. Bridget of Sweden is a Saint for every multi-tasking person (especially women!).

Even though she lived from 1303 to 1373, her influence is still relevant for today.  Her father was a very powerful and wealthy landowner. However, her mother died when St. Bridget was about 12 years old. She received care from her Aunt and was still able to obtain a solid faith formation. From an early age St. Bridget had many visions of Jesus which would continue throughout all of her life.  St. Bridget married at the young age of 13 and ended up having many children. One happens to be St. Catherine of Sweden.

A very practical and down-to-earth person

Although she was very wealthy and blessed with many mystical gifts, she remained a very practical and down-to-earth person all of her life. She could have remained wealthy even after the death of her husband and was a Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen. However St. Bridget became a poor nun instead.  She eventually established the religious order of the Most Holy Savior, otherwise known as the Brigittines.  She became well-known during her day for her acts of charity and deep spirituality.  She was also personally acquainted with many rulers, theologians, and spiritual leaders.  

She made several pilgrimages throughout her lifetime.She travelled to Santiago de Compostela in Spain during her 40s accompanied by her husband. Unfortunately it was upon their return that her husband fell ill and died.  Before the end of her own life, she made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and had visions of Jesus at many of the holy sites. Through such she encouraged others to meditate on the Passion of Jesus crucified, even when it was not Lent.

The 15 Prayers of the Passion as contained in the Pieta booklet.

Many practicing Catholics might be familiar with the little blue “Pieta” booklet which contains mystical prayers of various saints. This booklet also happens to contain the 15 Prayers of the Passion as a private revelation to St. Bridget by Jesus. As a private revelation they are considered devotional but are not mandatory by the Church. However, many Catholics have found the prayers and their promises to be quite helpful and inspiring.  The most significant advantage is their ability to draw the heart closer to Jesus through His Passion. The prayers of St. Bridget actually played an important role in my conversion to the Catholic Church.  I had stumbled upon the book the day after seeing an image of the Pieta in a dream. The coincidence was such that I was compelled to take up the prayers. I have included the 15 prayers in my previous blog in case anyone is interested or just plain curious.

Easy to lose focus in the midst of everyday life.

It is easy to get bogged down by the demands of everyday life. Especially many women, as wives and mothers, whether we work outside of the home or not, find ourselves juggling many tasks.  I have heard many a “stay-at-home” mom state that they decided to get a “full-time” job to get some free time in their day.  “Stay-at-homes” are mistakenly stereotyped as having oodles of extra time on their hands and as being the ones who are able to drop everything to run here and there for everyone else. However somehow and mysteriously  they manage to get things done to everyone’s delight –often not so desirable tasks of running others to appointments and classes, scrubbing the house, managing the mountain of laundry, cleaning up pet and baby by-products, and mediating (and sometimes meditating!) in between kid squabbles. The list is endless and consists mainly of the mundane aspects of home life. Ask any “Stay-At-Home” what they did for the day. For some those are fighting words. Things like chasing a possum out of the trash, clipping the kids’ toenails, and sucking dust bunnies out a closet don’t sound like much.  But just try doing those things.  Let anyone try to say that lugging and folding eight loads of laundry with a little kid or two (or three) in tow isn’t exercise.  Although many of us might not be Ladies-in-Waiting to the Queen, we do have a Blessed Mother who is our Queen.

Multi-tasking and the responsibilities of everyday life make it important to cling to Jesus and His Passion.  Every meditation draws us to closer to His Cross. His Passion is His highest expression of love for us.  It is not just for Lent, but for every day.  St. Bridget made it a practice to regularly remember the great Love given to us through the Cross of Jesus.

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The Fifteen Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Bridget of Sweden (obtained from

These prayers as a devotional are recited daily (obtained from  Before each prayer:  Pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary.

First Prayer. O Jesus Christ! Eternal Sweetness to those who love Thee, joy surpassing all joy and all desire, Salvation and Hope of all sinners, Who hast proved that Thou hast no greater desire than to be among men, even assuming human nature at the fullness of time for the love of men, recall all the sufferings Thou hast endured from the instant of Thy conception, and especially during Thy Passion, as it was decreed and ordained from eternity in the Divine plan.

Remember, O Lord, that during the Last Supper with Thy disciples having washed their feet, Thou gave them Thy Most Precious Body and Blood, and while at the same time Thou didst sweetly console them, Thou didst foretell them Thy coming Passion.

Remember the sadness and bitterness which Thou didst experience in Thy Soul as Thou Thyself bore witness saying: “My Soul is sorrowful even unto death.”

Remember all the fear, anguish and pain that Thou didst suffer in Thy delicate Body before the torment of the Crucifixion, when, after having prayed three times, bathed in a sweat of blood, Thou wast betrayed by Judas, Thy disciple, arrested by the people of a nation Thou hadst chosen and elevated, accused by false witnesses, unjustly judged by three judges during the flower of Thy youth and during the solemn Paschal season.

Remember that Thou wast despoiled of Thy garments and clothed in those of derision; that Thy Face and Eyes were veiled, that Thou wast buffeted, crowned with thorns, a reed placed in Thy Hands, that Thou wast crushed with blows and overwhelmed with affronts and outrages.

In memory of all these pains and sufferings which Thou didst endure before Thy Passion on the Cross, grant me before my death true contrition, a sincere and entire confession, worthy satisfaction and the remission all my sins. Amen.

Second Prayer. O Jesus! True liberty of angels, paradise of delights, remember the horror and sadness which Thou didst endure when Thy enemies, like furious lions, surrounded Thee, and by thousands of insults, spits, blows, lacerations and other unheard-of cruelties, tormented Thee at will. In consideration of these torments and insulting words, I beseech Thee, O my Savior, to deliver me from all my enemies, visible and invisible, and to bring me, under Thy protection, to the perfection of eternal salvation. Amen.

Third Prayer. O Jesus! Creator of Heaven and earth Whom nothing can encompass or limit, Thou Who dost enfold and hold all under Thy loving power, remember the very bitter pain Thou didst suffer when the Jews nailed Thy Sacred Hands and Feet to the Cross by blow after blow with big blunt nails, and not finding Thee in a pitiable enough state to satisfy their rage, they enlarged thy Wounds, and added pain to pain, and with indescribable cruelty stretched Thy Body on the Cross, pulling Thee from all sides, thus dislocating Thy limbs.

I beg of Thee, O Jesus, by the memory of this most Loving suffering of the Cross, to grant me the grace to fear Thee and to Love Thee. Amen.

Fourth Prayer. O Jesus! Heavenly Physician, rose aloft on the Cross to heal our wounds with Thine, remember the bruises which Thou didst suffer and the weakness of all Thy Members which were distended to such a degree that never was there pain like unto Thine. From the crown of Thy Head to the Soles of Thy Feet there was not one spot on Thy Body that was not in torment, and yet, forgetting all Thy sufferings, Thou didst not cease to pray to Thy Heavenly Father for Thy enemies, saying: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Through this great Mercy, and in memory of this suffering, grant that the remembrance of Thy Most Bitter Passion may affect in us a perfect contrition and the remission of all our sins. Amen.

Fifth Prayer. O Jesus! Mirror of eternal splendor, remember the sadness which Thou experienced, when contemplating in the light of Thy Divinity the predestination of those who would be saved by the merits of Thy Sacred Passion, Thou didst see at the same time, the great multitude of reprobates who would be damned for their sins, and Thou didst complain bitterly of those hopeless, lost, and unfortunate sinners.

Through this abyss of compassion and pity, and especially through the goodness which Thou displayed to the good thief when Thou saidst to him: “This day, thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.” I beg of Thee, O Sweet Jesus, that at the hour of my death, Thou wilt show me mercy. Amen.

Sixth Prayer. O Jesus! Beloved and most desirable King, remember the grief Thou didst suffer, when naked and like a common criminal, Thou wast fastened and raised on the Cross, when all Thy relatives and friends abandoned Thee, except Thy Beloved Mother, who remained close to Thee during Thy agony and whom Thou didst entrust to Thy faithful disciple when Thou saidst to Mary: “Woman, behold thy son!”, and to St. John: “Son, behold thy Mother!”.

I beg of Thee O my Savior, by the sword of sorrow which pierced the soul of Thy holy Mother, to have compassion on me in all my afflictions and tribulations, both corporal and spiritual, and to assist me in all my trials, and especially at the hour of my death. Amen.

Seventh Prayer. O Jesus! Inexhaustible Fountain of compassion, Who by a profound gesture of Love, said from the Cross: “I thirst,” suffered from the thirst for the salvation of the human race. I beg of Thee, O my Savior, to inflame in our hearts the desire to tend toward perfection in all our acts, and to extinguish in us the concupiscence of the flesh and the ardor of worldly desires. Amen.

Eighth Prayer. O Jesus! Sweetness of hearts, delight of the spirit, by the bitterness of the gall and vinegar which Thou didst taste on the Cross for Love of us, grant us the grace to receive worthily Thy Precious Body and Blood during our life and at the hour of our death, that they may serve as a remedy and consolation for our souls. Amen.

Ninth Prayer. O Jesus! Royal virtue, joy of the mind, recall the pain Thou didst endure when plunged in an ocean of bitterness at the approach of death, insulted, outraged by the Jews, Thou didst cry out in a loud voice that Thou wast abandoned by Thy Father, saying: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Through this anguish, I beg of Thee, O my Savior, not to abandon me in the terrors and pains of my death. Amen.

Tenth Prayer. O Jesus! Who art the beginning and the end of all things, life and virtue, remember that for our sakes Thou wast plunged in an abyss of suffering from the soles of Thy Feet to the crown of Thy Head. In consideration of the enormity of Thy Wounds, teach me to keep, through pure love, Thy Commandments, whose way is wide and easy for those who love Thee. Amen.

Eleventh Prayer. O Jesus! Deep abyss of mercy, I beg of Thee, in memory of Thy Wounds which penetrated to the very marrow of Thy Bones and to the depth of Thy being, to draw me, a miserable sinner, overwhelmed by my offenses, away from sin and to hide me from Thy Face justly irritated against me; hide me in Thy Wounds, until Thy anger and just indignation shall have passed away. Amen.

Twelfth Prayer. O Jesus! Mirror of truth, symbol of unity, link of charity, remember the multitude of wounds with which Thou wast covered from head to foot, torn and reddened by the spilling of Thy adorable Blood. O great and universal pain which Thou didst suffer in Thy virginal flesh for love of us! Sweetest Jesus! What is there that Thou couldst have done for us which Thou hast not done?

May the fruit of Thy sufferings be renewed in my soul by the faithful remembrance of Thy Passion, and may Thy love increase in my heart each day until I see Thee in eternity, Thou Who art the treasury of every real good and every joy, which I beg Thee to grant me, O sweetest Jesus, in Heaven. Amen.

Thirteenth Prayer. O Jesus! Strong lion, immortal and invincible King, remember the pain Thou didst endure when all Thy strength, both moral and physical, was entirely exhausted; Thou didst bow Thy Head, saying: “It is consummated.”

Through this anguish and grief, I beg of Thee Lord Jesus, to have mercy on me at the hour of my death when my mind will be greatly troubled and my soul will be in anguish. Amen.

Fourteenth Prayer. O Jesus! Only Son of the Father, splendor and figure of His Substance, remember the simple and humble recommendation Thou didst make of Thy Soul to Thy Eternal Father, saying: “Father, into Thy Hands I commend My Spirit!” And with Thy Body all torn, and Thy Heart broken, and the bowels of Thy Mercy open to redeem us, Thou didst expire.

By this Precious Death, I beg of Thee O King of Saints, to comfort me and help me to resist the devil, the flesh and the world, so that being dead to the world, I may live for Thee alone. I beg of Thee at the hour of my death to receive me, a pilgrim and an exile returning to Thee. Amen.

Fifteenth Prayer. O Jesus! True and fruitful Vine! Remember the abundant outpouring of blood which Thou didst so generously shed from Thy Sacred Body as juice from grapes in a wine press.

From Thy Side, pierced with a lance by a soldier, blood and water issued forth until there was not left in Thy Body a single drop, and finally, like a bundle of myrrh lifted to the top of the Cross, Thy delicate Flesh was destroyed, the very substance of Thy Body withered, and the marrow of Thy Bones dried up.

Through this bitter Passion, and through the outpouring of Thy Precious Blood, I beg of Thee, O Sweet Jesus, to receive my soul when I am in my death agony. Amen.

Concluding Prayer. O Sweet Jesus! Pierce my heart so that my tears of penitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to Thee, may my heart be Thy perpetual habitation, may my conversation be pleasing to Thee, and may the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Thy saints, praise Thee forever. Amen.

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What are the Motives for These Mass Shootings?

A senseless tragedy

The media has been dominated by the shocking news of a gunman in who presented himself before the theater of a midnight premier of the Batman movie, “Dark Knight Rises” and proceeded to throw canisters of gas and opened fire onto the audience.  As of the writing of this blog, this mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado has left about 12 people dead and more than 70 injured, with fatalities growing. Days later, the Nation continues to await word of the missing and those in critical condition. Even presidential candidates on the campaign trail took a pause from their activities. The audience at the theater consisted of all ages. One victim died on his birthday. Another had just narrowly escaped another mass shooting Toronto, Canada.

The Batman movies are known to contain acts of community violence. So when the gunman first appeared, many thought that it was a stunt or special effects for the premier. It was not until people began to fall over, that hysteria set in. Those who tried to exit the theater were the first targets.

The frequency of such killings

The site of the tragedy is just 15 miles from Columbine High School, the scene of a 1999 mass shooting where two gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher, before killing themselves.  A spokesman for Marcus Theaters stated that” a random act of violence has never occurred in a U.S. movie theater in its 110-year history” (  According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the United States has been averaging 20 mass shootings each year, escalating since 2005.  However, it was during the 1980s, that the term “going postal’ became popular as some separate incidences of disgruntled postal workers began picking each other off.  

As a resident of Chicago, every day there is news of local shootings resulting in several dead and even more injured. Good weather often portends a gun battle somewhere in the city. As of a July 9, 2012 CBSNews story, there has been 275 homicides in Chicago since the beginning of the year. Most of them have been attributed to gang violence.  Interestingly the city governor reported that the crime rate has dropped to an overall 10 percent, but at the same time homicides have gone up 30 percent this year.

What is the motive of a mass murderer?

The first question that comes to everyone’s mind is why?  As mentioned above, some city homicides are due to gang violence and often are tied to drug activities. But what about a lone gunman who takes an arsenal into a crowded movie theater?  Reports state that he was “dressed like an assassin ready to go to war” (Fox News). It seems as a senseless and heartless act. Skynews suggests that it is futile to try to determine the motive of such a killing.  Stephen Albrecht, head of the San Diego Association of Threat Assessment Professionals told Skynews in a telephone interview yesterday that people “tend to rationalise the irrational behaviour of the people around us and thus skip over signs of an individual on the verge of violence.”  Basically even if someone is a suspect, they are not sure what to do about it. 

A person who acts strange or even buys a gun is not usually a mass murderer. A person cannot be locked up just because they are different or eccentric. Even most who say they “feel like hurting someone” actually never do commit acts of violence.  In my past work in a clinic, we evaluated for homicidal and suicidal ideation. This was largely based on the client’s own affirmation, those of significant others, and history. Then there are those who just plainly negate any such thoughts and have no history. The science of determining those who are a danger to themselves and others is not so exact due to the fickle nature of human beings. In terms of suicide, a person must say that they want to harm themselves, have a plan, and also have a feasible means of carrying it out.

While the examination of the factors and causes of a mass murder is really too broad to address in an amateur blog, some brief statements can be made. The nature of the killer, type of victim, and motives vary. There are killers who attack people they know and those who assail random strangers. Two main motives identified include revenge and the need for fame and/or attention (Wikipedia). The latter is the reason why many people fear copycat acts of violence after a major event. 

Also there is the question of whether the acts of an individual are really the symptoms of a sick society in general.  In the example of the recent Colorado theater shooting, one can question the coincidence of the type of movie premier selected by the killer which was one noted for grotesque violence.  Witnesses state that the killer dressed like the “Joker” of the Batman movie and was carrying out a scene similar to the Dark Knight. There also have been questions made as to why children and even infants were at a midnight showing of an PG13-rated movie in the first place.  Not to be misconstrued as judgment, but one wonders if these same parents also regularly take their children to religious services.

Reaction to mass murderer

Figuring out a cause of such a tragedy doesn’t take away the pain and shock. Interestingly this Sunday’s New Testament reading (Ephesians 2:13-18) states that Jesus is our Peace:

For He is our peace, He who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through His flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that He might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Many of the sentiments expressed by families of victims reflect their trust in God:

 “I hope that this evil act …doesn’t shake people’s faith in God,” Anita Busch a relative of a victim (AP Press).

“I have my Lord to lean on and I know He is going to get us through this,” Stacie McQuinn, stepmother of a missing victim (AP Press).

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“If You’ve Been Successful, You Didn’t Get There on Your Own”

YouTube Preview Image

Obama’s campaign speech

There has been a lot of controversy during the last few days over what Obama said to business owners in a campaign speech given in Roanoke, Virginia:

…”look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own…I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen…” (Text obtained from

Comments state that the speech insults business owners and there is uproar over Obama’s idea of the government taking a heavier hand in the economy to the point of having socialist and communist overtones.  Others say that these statements downplay the financial burden and sacrifices that entrepreneurs have had to absorb in order to survive in the current hostile economic climate.  Owners invest time, money, and energy into their businesses.  They get themselves out of bed in the morning, pay their own utility bills, lease office space, do payroll, purchase equipment, and even make charitable contributions.  When it comes time for profits, the government has its hand ready and waiting to take a heavy chunk in taxes—often to the point of suffocating any progress or incentive to grow.

The real face of charity

Other comments state that it is a good thing to help others who are unable to help themselves due to circumstances out of their control. A lot of people who have been successful can point to mentors or someone who has helped them in their inspiration. However, the argument often goes full swing into questioning charity when given to those who lack ambition. Or to put it simply– those who are just plain lazy and looking for a handout.

If you have been keeping up with my blog, I have talked about charity and when it is not a handout.  It is one of the three theological virtues.  It is a word for the love of God.

But there is something else

In all of these arguments there seems to be something essentially missing.  There is a lack of acknowledging where the help ultimately comes from in the first place. A long time again a priest told me that if we are successful, it is through the grace of God – even if we fail to acknowledge Him.  “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). And there are a lot of people these days who wish to take God out of the equation and to eliminate the concept of “One Nation Under God.”  

A common expression in our individualistic society is that someone gets by through “their own strength” or they are “able to pull themselves up by their own boot straps”.  Truthfully, we do have to take initiative, but ultimately all good things come from God –not from ourselves, not from Grandma or Grandpa, not from our education, not from our “Best Friends Forever”, and especially not from our government.  G. K. Chesterton once said, “Once we abolish God, the government becomes the God.”  Everything comes from God. His abundant grace cannot be overemphasized here.  Cooperating with grace involves seeking and following God’s will to the best of our ability.  Also, we also cannot discount God’s mercy available to us when we mess up due to our own rebelliousness.

And what if we are not successful?

This does not mean that God has not been looking out after us. There are three answers to prayer:  “Yes”, “No”, and “I have something better in mind.”  Most of us really don’t understand the “I have something better in mind” and absolutely detest His “No.”  A well-know quote by St. Teresa of Avila states:  “If this is how you treat your friends, Lord, no wonder you have so many enemies.”  We miss the point when we fail to realize that we live in a world that is tainted by sin. However, suffering is redemptive.The Cathechsm of the Catholic Church states: The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle (2015).  

We don’t have infinite knowledge to know the future.  But God does.  He can see what is best for us and our loved ones.  How many of us have had things not turn out the way we expected or demanded but ended up being grateful to God for a result that was better?

What else is said about this in the Catechism?

“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him . . . For those whom He fore knew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom He predestined He also called; and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified.”

“All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.”  All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift, so that… doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2012-2013).

I have included the above Youtube video by Aaron Shust because it is a good reminder of who gets the credit (also this song is one of my favorites!).

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Ascending the High Mountain

(c) 2012 The Catholic Counselor Lady. The mountains in British Columbia during a recent vacation.

Love those mountains

There is something very refreshing about going to the mountains.  Perhaps it is the combination of fresh air, breathtaking views, being closer to the clouds, and the feeling of being on top of the world. The ascent up steep terrain is often difficult where the air is often colder and has less oxygen. Usually the path has fewer travelers. Sometimes the trail is not even cut at all. However, reaching the summit is a reward in itself.

Close to God on the mountain top

Many say that they feel closer to God on the mountain top. This is not pure coincidence as even the ancients believed that elevated places were holy. One doesn’t have to look far to find a Temple or a Church located on a hill. A trip to a place like Rome, Italy or Athens, Greece confirms this. Rome is a city of hills. Greece is known for the Acropolis. In some countries various faiths even claim the same mountain.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Jewish, Christian, and Islamic tradition all hold ties to some of these places.  One such example, Mount Carmel, is located in Northern Israel and goes back thousands of years. Mount Carmel was climbed by the Old Testament prophet Elijah.  He did this to pray for rain from the heavens when the countryside around him was dry and barren.  As a result, a swirling cloud formed from the sea which poured life-giving water onto the land. Other Old Testament prophets lived in caves near the Fountain of Elijah on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. They honored the Queen of Heaven as the “Virgin who was to give birth to the Savior.”  They gave devotion to the Mother of God even before Jesus was born. 

Twelfth Century Christian hermits came to live and pray on this same holy mountain.  They honored the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.   From this, the Carmelite order was established and spread throughout Europe.  

The brown scapular

July 16 marks the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as it commemorates the anniversary that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, leader of the Carmelites, in 1251. She gave him the famous Brown Scapular, also known as the Garment of Grace.  The scapular is an external sign of one’s relationship to the Mother of God. Those who wear it entrust themselves to her protection and maternal intercession. It is a statement of love.

The Blessed Virgin Mary told St. Simon: “Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”

The first brown scapulars were worn as aprons, matching the brown habits of the Carmelite order.  After many of the faithful, lay and religious, desired to wear the scapular, a smaller version was adapted. Made up of felt and string, the brown scapular can be easily worn under regular clothing.  It bears an image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There are many different versions.  Some other types of scapulars also have an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and/or the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Carmelite saints

There are many saints of the Catholic Church from the Carmelite Order.  St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Therese, the Little Flower were Carmelites . The writings of these saints are quite profound and mystical.  At Lourdes in 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary made her last apparition on July 16th the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  At Fatima she appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel on October 13, 1917 to say farewell to the Fatima children.

In our everyday life

It is refreshing to go to the mountain top.  Many go for vacation.  Some even go to live. During our days of muddling around in the valley, the climb up the mountain may be tough. We might even find ourselves having to be trail blazers.  But in the barren desert of our lives, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel can come to our aid and help bring the life-giving help that we need. Through her intercession we can indeed ascend to the top where we can be closer to God.

An example of a Brown Scapular

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Five Things We All Need to Know

Recently I ran across a news network that gave us five important things that we need to know, listing the top five news stories for the day. This gave me the idea to contemplate and ponder what are the five most important things we need to know in our daily lives. Here is what I came up with:

1. Things and people are not always what they appear.

In the psychological realm. We all have encountered the situation where someone appears on the surface to be quite happy when in reality they are actually quite sad, miserable, and even depressed. They wear a face for the public in an effort to hide their true feelings. Because of this we never can quite know what someone might be going through. Their insides could be in a state of turmoil. Or even they might be living a lie. Not only are they being untrue to others, but they are betraying themselves. In psychology this is referred to as incongruence. Sometimes it is done deliberately, but often it is unconscious. In addition some people are more expressive than others. As the old expression goes, some wear their heart on their sleeve. Others because of cultural norms may give little hint of emotion, even when experiencing very trying times.

We also have persons who seem to be so full of themselves, self-centered, and inconsiderate. They like to brag to others about their accomplishments, possessions, and appearance. Their energies are devoted to drawing attention to themselves. This could be viewed as narcissism, however in reality these persons are actually quite insecure and have very low self-esteem. Their behavior is an effort to puff themselves up as they seek to feed their low self-image by siphoning positive feedback from others. The results often backfire on them as others get worn down and tend shun them for what is perceived as “stuck up” and selfish behavior. This is a tragic paradox, as what they sabotage what they need most.

The spiritual realm. There are many things in the life of faith that are not what they appear on the surface. One great example is with the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. Before us we might see only bread and wine, but through transubstantiation the items become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. In the Catholic Church, Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. It takes seeing with the eyes of faith to understand this spiritual treasure. This is why the Eucharist is called a Mystery of Faith or mysterium fidei.

Things of the world are only temporal and all things change. The only constant is God. Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta once said: Let nothing perturb you. All things pass. God does not change.. Life is often like a cloudy day where the sun still shines but we are unable to see it because of the overcast weather.

2. Know who you are. In other words, know thyself.

Knowing who you are is not only the cornerstone of psychological health but also is the foundation for solid spirituality. One sure tenet and goal of any psychological theory has at its core the concept of a client coming to “know oneself.”

In spirituality, knowing oneself is the basis of humility. This includes an awareness of one’s own virtues and weaknesses. It is important to know that one is created in the image and likeness of God. Knowing oneself involves being able to praise God through all circumstances and giving God the credit for our accomplishments. St. Paul states, I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

Also In knowing oneself, a person can have a firm understanding of the dignity of life including all human persons from the womb to the tomb. Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made by the hand of the creator.

3. You are loved.

This cannot be overemphasized. Many people act the way that they do because they are looking for love but unfortunately often in all of the wrong places. St. Augustine once said, “Our hearts are restless until we rest in Thee.” All of the glitter and glory of this earthly life is pale compared to a life that is found in God. It is only through love that anyone would lay down their life for another. This is precisely what Jesus did. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.

4. You can be forgiven and you can forgive.

Many people don’t realize what forgiveness is all about. They assume that their life has been ruined because of past mistakes and all is lost. In a sense, they give up and don’t understand the mercy of God. But is any sin unpardonable? In Christian circles I have heard a lot of talk about “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” as being the actual unpardonable sin from the Gospel of Matthew in Chapter 12. But what does this mean? Basically the unpardonable sin is dying in a state of unrepentence. This is rejecting the mercy of God by assuming that God will not forgive. This is not humility. It is actually a form of pride. It is essentially rejecting God. This is a condition of a soul that turns away from God. Obviously if someone never hears of the mercy of God, they cannot be accountable for what they do not know.

In the Catholic Church we have the sacrament known as Reconciliation or Confession. Confession is liberating. It frees us from the bondage that is the result of a life not lived in God. Many Catholics don’t go to Confession because either they are embarrassed to tell their misdeeds to a priest, don’t feel that they have any sins worthy of confessing, just don’t want to deal with it, or don’t realize that their sin can be forgiven. Some feel that committing an act like abortion could never be forgiven by God. However they are mistaken. God forgives all sins, we just need to bring them to Him. Often the only one unforgiving is oneself. We often have to work hard at forgiving oneself.

It is also important to know that we can forgive ourselves as well as others. We know that the Lord’s Prayer contains, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This suggests that with what measure we judge others, we will be judged. It is comforting to know that the mercy of God is greater than any human being, including oneself. Like the old hymn that states God’s mercy is wider than the ocean. I am often relieved to know that God is Judge. Quite honestly, I would make a lousy judge.

It is also important to remember that forgiveness on our part is an act of the will. Too many times we get caught in the trap of basing forgiveness on how we feel.

5. This life is not all there is.

On one hand, many live like there is no hell. On the other hand, there are those who hold hope in God and in eternal life. We often hear of stories of persons who commit suicide during economic crises. Just recently there was a newspaper article that featured company executives that took their own lives when they realized that they had lost their financial fortunes. But fortunately this life is not all there is. To many of us, there is great comfort in knowing that this life is not all there is. This is especially true for those who spend their lives suffering. It is even more comforting to know that suffering can have redemptive value beyond what our temporal existence.

Before I converted to Catholicism, other spiritual paths left me asking the question, “Is this all there is?” I actually joined the Church about a decade ago when the priest scandals first hit the fan. However in realizing that the Catholic Church had the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, learning about the lives of the Saints, and reading the writings of the doctors of the Church, I discovered that Catholicism contained treasures much richer than any newspaper sensationalism.

Our Lady of Lourdes once told St. Bernadette during an apparition, “I promise you happiness not in this world but in the next.” This is something to think about!

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Prayer to Restore Religious Freedom and Conscience Protection

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas as well as Patroness of the Unborn.

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,and your Son, Jesus Christ.

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.

Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughter gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome—or the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us— this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

© 2012 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC (obtained from, site does not request permission for use as long as not modified from original).

 Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe is known as the Patroness of the Americas and the Patroness of the Unborn.  The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a miraculous one.  She appeared to St. Juan Diego on a hill northwest of Mexico City in 1531.  She identified herself as the mother of the true God, instructed a Basilica to be built on the site, and left the image of herself on a cloak made of cactus cloth known as a tilma. 

The Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe is pictured as being pregnant and is described as the Woman of the Apocalypse from the book of Revelation 12:10: clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The fabric, which would have normally deteriorated within 20 years, is still intact today. Many miracles and conversions have been attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The tilma hangs in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the most popular Marian shrine in the world.  It is also the 2nd most visited basilica after St. Peter’s in the Vatican.

Twenty-four Popes have honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. Blessed John Paul II visited her shrine four times.  On his third visit in 1999 he entrusted the cause of life to her loving protection, especially those who are in danger of not being born.

Our Lady of Guadalupe remains significant for our times and for our country. Her intercession, as the Mother of God, is as important as ever to come to the aid of our country as we face the consequences and repercussions of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obama’s HHS Healthcare Mandate. I have included the prayer above which was featured on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website.

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The Year of the Patriot: On Discovering my Revolutionary Roots

The grave of my 4x great grandfather, John Darrow, a Revolutionary War Patriot. He died on the 4th of July!

It has been the year of the patriot for me. 

In my genealogical research I have had breakthroughs in discovering several Revolutionary War ancestors this year. One in particular that caught my attention is my 4x great grandfather, John Darrow (1763-1854). John’s records include his account of being a waiter to his father (my 5x great grandfather) Captain George Darrow, during the Battle of Bennington in Vermont. At the age of 14, John had accompanied his father on horseback and brought water to the troops.  According to John’s account, his father George also fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill as a lieutenant and the Battle of Quebec under General Benedict Arnold. John Darrow was later in Colonel Marinus Willett’s regimen who marched to Fort Plain in 1781.  John was also in the Battle of Johnstown.

A 14-year-old bride and fort attendant

I found information that John Darrow married his wife, Martha Herrick (my 4x great grandmother) during the same time period that he was at Fort Plain. Grandmother Martha was only 14 years old then. She assisted at Fort Plain by doing chores and changing the bed linen for the soldiers and residents. It has been documented that many women civilians participated in the defense of this fort.  Some even dressed as soldiers to ward off invaders. This Fort appears to have been built adjacent to and a few yards from land that was once occupied by the homestead of Martha’s father, Daniel Herrick (my 5x great grandfather).  It was on a high bluff in the Mohawk Valley area of New York. Their town had been ravaged by the British forces and Native Americans.  Martha’s brother, Daniel Herrick, Jr., was also at Fort Plain at that time and had assisted in its construction. For family members who are interested, these are all ancestors of my Grandmother Pearl, on my mother’s side.

Grandfather died on the 4th of July!

Grandfather John Darrow actually died on July 4 in 1854 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. He lived to an old age of 90. Independence Day is a good day for a patriot. As I recall, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the 2nd and 3rd presidents of the United States, also died on July 4 in 1826 –fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Also the 5th president of the US, James Monroe, passed away on July 4, 1831.  In addition the birthday of the 30th president of the US, Calvin Coolidge, was on July 4, 1872!  While we are at it, John’s grandfather, George Darrow, died in  the year 1776.

Fortnight for Freedom

The battle for freedom and liberty continues in this country.This year Catholic dioceses and parishes around the country have instituted Fortnight for Freedom which observes our Christian and American heritage of liberty. This event goes for 14 days beginning on June 21 and ending on July 4. These two weeks contain the feast days of many saints that have suffered for religious freedom and have remained faithful in spite of persecution by political authorities.  The saints include St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, Apostles Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.The Fortnight for Freedom was launched recently to protest against the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate which forces religious groups to pay for abortions and contraception.  The mandate is viewed as a threat to the freedoms granted in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

 God bless America!

My ancestry is made up of a hodgepodge of immigrants, patriots, native Americans, and even loyalists. It is with great joy to learn of my Revolutionary War ties.The bottom line is that my family and I are here today as a result of the struggle of our ancestors to preserve their freedoms and rights as given in the Constitution. I hope that my descendants can continue to benefit from living in a country that is a nation under God . It is more than just a nice gesture when people put their hands over their hearts at the Pledge of Allegiance and in the singing of The Star Spangled Banner.  It is being thankful to God for the freedoms that we have been given and never taking them for granted. This is not a statement about political parties or agendas.  For me it is about living in a country that acknowledges the sovereignty of God.

I remember once interviewing a WWII veteran.  He told me that during that time of our history, Americans had a lot of pride in their country and were respectful to God. Hopefully we never depart from that.  As our country celebrates 4th of July this year, I reflect on these things.

The Revolutionary War Veteran burial card for my 4x great grandfather John Darrow

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When Faced with Suffering and Finding Sanctity in Ordinary Life: St. Josemaria Escriva

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An excerpt from St. Josemaria Escriva’s work:

“Christian teaching on pain is not a series of facile considerations. It is, in the first place, a call to accept the suffering inseparable from all human life. I cannot hide from you the fact that there has often been pain in my life and more than once I have wanted to cry. I tell you this joyfully, because I have always preached and tried to live the truth that Christ, who is love, is to be found on the cross. At other times, I have felt a great revulsion to injustice and evil, and I have fought against the frustration of not being able to do anything — despite my desire and my effort — to remedy those unjust situations.

“When I speak to you about suffering, I am not just talking theory. Nor do I limit myself to other people’s experience when I tell you that the remedy is to look at Christ, if when faced with suffering, you at some time feel that your soul is wavering. The scene of Calvary proclaims to everyone that afflictions have to be sanctified, that we are to live united to the cross…

“Suffering is part of God’s plans. This is the truth, however difficult it may be for us to understand it. It was difficult for Jesus Christ the man to undergo his passion: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.” In this tension of pleading and acceptance of the Father’s will, Jesus goes calmly to his death, pardoning those who crucify him.

“This supernatural acceptance of suffering was, precisely, the greatest of all conquests. By dying on the cross Jesus overcame death. God brings life from death. The attitude of a child of God is not one of resignation to a possibly tragic fate; it is the sense of achievement of someone who has a foretaste of victory. In the name of this victorious love of Christ, we Christians should go out into the world to be sowers of peace and joy through everything we say and do. We have to fight — a fight of peace — against evil, against injustice, against sin. Thus do we serve notice that the present condition of mankind is not definitive. Only the love of God, shown in the heart of Christ, will attain the glorious spiritual triumph of men.

(The above is from Josemaria Escriva’s book entitled Christ is Passing By, obtained from website)

The life and ministry of St. Josemaria Escriva, priest

Today, June 26 is the Feast Day of St. Josemaria Escriva.  He is a modern-day saint from Spain, who lived from 1902 to 1975.  As the founder of the Opus Dei organization for lay persons and religious, St. Josemaria taught that everyone is called to holiness which can be obtained through the activities of ordinary life.  He particularly advocated sanctity in work.  The term Opus Dei is Latin meaning, “work of God.”

St. Josemaria was very accustomed to suffering as he endured the untimely death of family members as well as his own father’s unemployment. He is reported to have suffered from some form of epilepsy that threatened his life as a boy and had type I diabetes as an adult. He lived during the Spanish Civil War, a very volatile time of his country’s history.  His organization, Opus Dei, had endured frequent attacks and criticism even during his lifetime.  The excerpt above is included because of his insight into the meaning of suffering in our lives.

From a psychological standpoint, Viktor Frankl, an existential theorist, psychiatrist, founder of logotherapy, and Nazi concentration camp survivor, was particularly impressed with St. Josemaria.  Frankl upon meeting Escriva described him as” living totally in the present moment and having a refreshing serenity which emanated from him that warmed the whole.”  Frankl, a Jew, stated that “This man is a spiritual atomic bomb” (obtained from

St. Josemaria Escriva is a great Saint for most of us who struggle and desire to honor and serve God in our everyday lives, especially in our work. The above video is an excerpt from a talk where he explains prayer when “we don’t feel like it.” 

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