I was born into the Catholic faith in 1946 at a time when solemn Masses, devotions, processions, etc. filled the air in the church. We said rosaries to our Lady, attended May Crownings and Novenas with an awesome joy and love for the Mother of Jesus. When I made my Confirmation at age 12, I truly felt that I had been clothed in the dress of courage and battle to fight the evils of this world. I attended Catholic school with the Sisters of Mt. Carmel. At home my mother was a great example of good Christian virtues. She cared deeply for the poor and needy and always gave a helping hand. Many mornings I would wake to find a stranger in the living room and could hear my mother giving a catechism lesson. "Never be ashamed of doing good to others and always treat them as you would like to be treated", was my mother’s motto to live by. With all the fuss and mess the world had to offer a child growing up, my Catholic faith offered such comfort and peace. Now I was far from perfect and in fact I was always the "class clown", you know, do anything for a laugh, and I did. I truly gave those good sisters of Mt. Carmel a hard time, but I think a few laughs, at least they told me when I left that they would ever forget my name or my mouth. They also wanted me to join them as a sister so I couldn’t have been that bad. But I am ashamed of some of the things I did there and I know purgatory is waiting. One thing I was sure of though is that I would be going to heaven, after all I was my mother’s daughter. I just had to stay close to her and would be swept up in her spirituality. 

        My sweet Lord had other plans. When I was 20 years old, my mother, at age 55, was called to her final rest. I had been married 9 months and was 5 months pregnant with my first child when I was told that my mother had cancer. Six months later she was gone. My mother had designed and sewed my wedding dress and the five bridesmaid dresses, my going-away outfit and catered all the food (with help of relatives, that’s the way it was done at good old Cajun weddings ). Can you imagine how I felt when I realized that she must not have been feeling very well at that time? I cried for what seemed like an eternity. My heart ached for her presence and her light. As I sit to write this, it has been 33 years since her death and tears still stream down my face at her loss but more so for what Jesus has done for me in all those years and because of how, I see now, my mother gave her life for me. 

It was difficult, but staying true to my Catholic faith is what saved me.

        When she died I was young and frightened and very hurt. I had to blame someone and the only one I felt that was responsible was God. Why did he take someone so good when there were so many bad people in the world? Couldn’t she do more good in the world? I had many confusing thoughts like; she was kind to others and so many people loved her, how could God repay her this way; what am I supposed to do without her; what is my daddy and brothers and sister to do without her (we were 19, 20, 21, 24). We weren’t babies but we needed our mother. I was so disappointed with God and felt so hurt by Him. I was told that He loved me. How could He love me if He let such a cruel thing like this happen to me? Was it all worth it, to do good, live a devoted Catholic life, going to church on Sundays, staying away from the evils of this world. None of it made sense to me any more. I wanted to leave it all and I think I might have just run off and joined the "hippies and the life of drugs" if it hadn’t been for my husband and baby and the love of God and my dear mother. I began praying very hard for acceptance of her death. I attended daily Mass and received Holy Communion, said many rosaries and begged God to mend my broken heart. For a long time I didn’t understand but was given the courage to persevere in prayer and longing. Finally my prayer was answered. One day in prayer, several years later, I was consumed by a great love beyond this world. You know in the Bible when it talks of "my cup runneth over" well I knew exactly what that meant. I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. It felt as though my small heart could not hold all the love that was being given to me. As the tears flowed, I could understand that God had blessed my dear mother with her prize, her crown, the destination, the crown we all seek as Christians who believe in eternal life. I understood that my thoughts were selfish and that my mother was in heaven where there is love, and peace and joy and goodness. Didn’t she belong there? I understood that heaven waits for all of us and that I must be busy about finding my path there on my own. 

        And so it began. My journey has been great, looking back. At the time I went kicking and screaming but now I can see very plainly God’s hand in my life. I often ask Him why He didn’t and still doesn’t let me see those things earlier, you know, before I make a fool out of myself. I ask Him to make me mute, He won’t. I ask Him to take my friends away so I can have more time to pray, He won’t. I ask Him to quit putting ideas in my heart because I am too old to handle the work and stress of putting on a production of His kind. He won’t. I think He enjoys watching me humiliate myself, which I always do. I asked Him once when I was very young to use me as His instrument and send me anywhere to do anything He needed. I don’t know what I was thinking! It must have been after an inspiring religion class or retreat. Yes, He answered that one. My husband is a banker and believe it or not we moved 8 times in 34 years. I use to fuss my husband and blame him for the mess of having to adjust 5 children to a new school and neighborhood every three years. "Why can’t you just find a place and stay". Finally I realized it was me. I was to blame. I looked back and saw the foster children we took in, the people brought back to the faith, the organizations that blossomed, the programs begun, the battles we fought for the poor and needy, the love we received and the strength from strangers, all were certainly the hand of GOD guiding my journey. 

        Hey, life was good. In fact I overheard my husband talking with a friend of his and they were being silly and actually said, "Life doesn’t get much better than this". I had to agree. It was the ‘80s. We had things, we had friends, we loved Jesus and loved being His disciple in the mission field. But my sweet Lord Jesus, you wanted more and you always get Your way, especially when some young fool gives you back her free will 

(another retreat or inspiring religion class, those nuns and priests did have a way with words) 

        It wasn’t long after those dreaded words were spoken when Jesus must have given Satan a free reign on my life just like He did poor Job. My husband lost his 6 figured salary job, we lost our beautiful $250,000 Victorian home, my children lost their friends and future the way we had planned. Slowly I was being detached from all material and earthly things. But what He had in mind to replace those things I could never ever imagine. We were moving to my home town where my Daddy still lived and so I was a bit happy in spite of the devastation. I was so close to my daddy. I loved him as a father but even more all my life I had loved him as a son. His mother died when he was 3 months old and he hardly knew his brothers and sisters. I had been by his side in good and bad times. I am named after his mother, Oceana. He knew that I would always be his little girl and so I was happy to be living near him, to be able to cook for him and have coffee with him and just to sit at his side and listen to the same tales over and over. A month before I could move home, my dear daddy died. When my mother died I was holding her hand and saying the Our Father as she took her last breath, but I could not get home in time to be with daddy. I had told him months before that if he died before me I wanted him to hug my sweet Jesus for me and to let me know, if he could, what it’s like there. Weeks before I was washing my hair and I had a vision of him in a coffin and I just screamed "NO". It went away and I never gave it another thought. 

        Once again I couldn’t stop crying. My children needed me to help them adjust to their new surroundings yet I was in such grief myself. Everywhere I turned in town I could see my daddy. He had lived there all his 72 years. It took time but I made peace with his death. My daddy wasn’t the model of virtue that my mother was yet he had a good heart and was a good man and had been dealt a pretty tough hand. Seven years after my daddy had been laid to rest a strange thing happened. I was in the living room watching my little grandbaby and talking with my daughter when I saw my daddy appear in the middle of the room. He was like a hologram. It was Holy Thursday in 1995 and only for a second. I was in total peace and I called it aloud and of course my daughter looked at me like I was nuts so we kept on visiting and watching the baby. It wasn’t until I was alone and saying my rosary and came to the Sorrowful mysteries when I was caught up in such emotion with the passion of Jesus that the most amazing event took place. It’s very difficult to describe but I could see what seemed like purgatory. Everything was gray. I could see what I knew was my daddy yet I couldn’t distinguish faces. I also saw a lady with a veil wiping his forehead and comforting him. I didn’t know who the lady was. I wasn’t sure if it was his mother or the Blessed Mother. At the time I didn’t know that Our Lady does indeed go to purgatory and comforts the poor souls. I began saying Masses and offering prayers and sacrifices for my daddy’s release. Soon I was given a deep love and peace about my daddy. Thank you Lord for your blessings and the teachings of purgatory in my precious Catholic faith. 

        Soon after that happening a friend showed me a picture of the scenery at Conyers, Georgia and immediately I knew I had to go there. My husband took me and from then on my life has been so drastically changed. I had always had a genuine love for Jesus and felt close to Him, but He was so wonderful as He called me closer to His heart and the heart of His Immaculate Mother. He wooed me for weeks, waking me up at night 3 or 4 times just to hear me say I love you. That was so awesome to me. That the God of the universe would wake me, a little Cajun girl from Thibodaux, Louisiana, just to hear me say "I love You". There have been favors given in Holy Hour and other times which I don’t understand but I thank the Lord for showing Himself to this loud-mouth, controlling and selfish human being. Why and how He loves me at all is indeed a mystery. I know I must tell others of the love God has for all His children and that He wants a personal relationship with each one. Each one of us is like His only child. How awesome!!! 

        He soothes me in the knowledge that He respects all the years of "church" work that I have done( and still do) in His name but nothing compares with the deep personal relationship that He has called me to have with Him. My only desire in this world is to do the will of God the Father. That is not always easy to do when the world tells one thing and God says another. I pray for my five children and five grand children who have to grow up in this time we are living. It’s a great time yet a frightening time. I think they feel a lot like I did years ago. They watch me do and say what I do and they know how deeply I love the Lord but of course think it is too much. How can you love the Lord too much? What is more important? R movies, disgraceful sitcoms on TV, music with indecent videos, , smoking, drugs, abortions, killing, suicides, graphy, etc. Come on world, get a grip. Get close to Jesus, He has all the answers. The only way to know His will is to pray and stay in a close relationship with Him so that He may gently whisper in your ear what it is He asks of you today. My Lord and My All, I love you in the Blessed Sacrament and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in all Your Mighty Works and Blessings. I am grateful for the fullness of my Catholic faith and I love Our Holy Father and all His teachings. I love Our Dear Blessed Lady, Mother of God, and all the saints. I thank my God for this beautiful Jubilee Year and I thank you for allowing me to profess my faith. Pray that I may always be what God desires me to be. I will pray for you.

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