Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Steinhage Fenelon

Have you been hurt by your mother?  

The pain of that relationship can paralyze our thoughts, actions, and future relationships.  Stuck in the past and the wound that has not healed,  sometimes we’re lead to despair.

In a transparent and courageous sharing of her own experience with an abusive mother, Marge Steinhage Fenelon takes her readers through an interior journey of the heart, that leads them out from the dark places of suffering and anger to hope, healing, forgiveness, and freedom.

All of us have broken parents because we live in a fallen state since the first sin.  

Our environments growing up can leave us disabled in differing degrees. Whatever the personal experience has been, Fenelon’s words can be applied, and her guidance sheds light on way to finding true peace.

And the way?

 A new relationship with Mary, Our Mother.

Beginning with tapping into a desire to want to heal is the logical first step.

Often, however it’s just easier to stuff the past and not deal with it.  That’s why Jesus asks the ill man if he wants to be healed.

Fenelon uses Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church to help readers understand Mary’s role in bringing us to Christ, the Divine Healer. 

That proposal can be scary.  We necessarily have to look back.  The key is never to process alone, and to seek God in prayer, and the right persons to walk with us.  Fenelon mentions her spiritual director often, and the need in some situations, for good counseling as well.  Practically, it may mean a time of distancing, while continuing to work through emotions and pain.

When we are able to receive the grace and the truth that

our mothers are children of God, just like we are,

we can place them and all their fallen brokenness in our Mother’s arms.  

There’s a sense of freedom that comes from surrendering the past to God’s healing power, and our present lives into the loving arms of a perfect Mom who has the power to comfort us and intercede for us.

The book prepares the reader for the beautiful novena at the end.  

It truly blessed me in moving through the days, taking the time to journal and pray, and opening myself up to my own healing.

Moving through it slowly,  praying to want to be healed,  surrendering my past and the wounds,  seeing my mother as a child of God with her own brokenness, helped me to move toward seeing her in new ways, and knowing that God had a plan and a purpose for it all.

That might be the greatest lesson.  God makes good come out of even the most difficult situations, if we allow Him in to heal us and draw close to His Mother.

With love and real vulnerability, I must thank Marge Fenelon for offering her own life example as a way to help others move closer to Christ.

And so many of us need the love of the Good Mother, Mary.  My prayer is that this book finds its way into all the hearts who need her most.







Knowing Nathanael

One way to stay faithful in relationship to God is to read the Scriptures daily.  

As a Catholic, I love that there are readings given to me each day like spiritual food.  They always give me the particular morsel I need.  When I pray over them, God causes certain words or phrases to leap off the page.

These Words are His Word.  And His Word, is Him.

It’s really unfathomable how much God loves us:

that He would give us Words in order to give us Himself.

After I “catch” the Words He sends to my heart, I usually write a few words of my own in response.

I like God to know that I’ve heard, and that His gift has made a difference in my day.  

I try to remember these special Words throughout that day.  I try to stop in between all the crazy activity and let them affect me again. Some days I forget ( just so we all know how very human my response can be).

So today, I’m sharing my “leaping Words”, the Gift of Christ to me,

and how He moved me to respond.

Thank you Jesus, for touching my heart today.

First Reading from  1 John 3:11 -21:  My “leaping Word”:

“God is greater than our hearts and understands everything”

Gospel from John 1:43-51:  My “leaping Word”:

“Nathanael said to him, ‘How do you know me?’

     “Jesus answered him and said, …’I saw you under the fig tree..'”


O God who is greater than my heart

I want you to come and see

See this sinner who hides under trees

See who she longs to be


O God who is greater than my heart

Before I came, you saw me

Help me to let go of duplicity in life

And before You, stay down on one knee


O God who is greater than my heart

I want to know HOW you know me



Jesus’ Zeal For You

Daily Mass Readings Reflection:  November 9, 2017

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica 

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God?” 1 Cor 3: 16

“Zeal for you house will consume Me.” John 2: 17

St Paul tells the Corinthians

that they are temples of God and that the Spirit dwells within them.

 Knowledge of that privilege and grace should give us pause.  Poor self image cannot stand alongside this truth.  And healing comes when we accept these words coming from God’s Heart- that we are beloved enough to have Him desire to come dwell in us.

This corresponds to our gospel today.  Jesus finds the temple full of the idols -noisy moneychanging.  It is animalistic- oxen, sheep and doves.  Bargaining and cheating hearts seek to fill the pockets of the self indulgent.  Clinking coins fill the tables where peaceful stillness once was.

Is this how Jesus is finding my temple?  The temple of my soul and my body?

What noisy voices of the world have taken over in my head?  What  idols are being exchanged within this temple?

I’m not good, I can’t do it, I have lost all my hope.  You should worry and  grasp what you need now. Don’t wait for the Lord to provide, because you must do it yourself.  Press in on others and demand what you want.  Lack mercy, lack patience, lack love.

Am I reduced to what is less than human? Less than my dignity deserves?

Sin coins are filling the places where I had peace.

Noisy, clinking sounds disturb my prayer.

But Jesus loves me too much.  He sees the state that I’m in.  He’s coming into this temple! He fashions a cord out of bands of His love.  Zeal for this house, this temple that I am, consumes Him.  And He’s ready to cleanse me.

Overturning the tables in me He comes with His power and His grace.  He is ridding me of excessive noise.  The idols I filled the temple of my house, have been whipped away by His love.  What remains is a place where prayer can begin again.

Lord, you are consumed with zeal for me, and I believe in the intensity of that love.  You will not let your temple be filled with all that distracts and destroys it.  Come with your whip of cords and cleanse this temple.  Let it be for you a house of worship and prayer.  Come Holy Spirit and dwell within me.  Bring me stillness and peace and joy.

Staying Faithful to the Small Picture

Has anyone ever told you to

“Remember the Big Picture?”

It’s great advice!  But I think there needs to be a “subtitle”:

“But Stay Faithful to the Small Picture”.

What’s the small picture?  It’s the present moment.  And remembering the big picture while staying faithful to the small one, is quite the balancing act.

The two- big and small pictures- are played out in the mind.  

First, it’s consoling to remember that “all things work unto good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

When life brings twists and turns, we can learn to trust that

God has a big plan for our salvation!

But then the mind must come to focus upon the practical work! Each day we get up and move through each hour.  Each moment we have an opportunity to stay faithful to what is right in front of us.

To whom are we speaking?  What do we chose next?

 How can we turn this experience into prayer?

 Each and every moment and encounter:  these are the small picture.  

What picture are you thinking about right now?  Each, big and small, are important to ponder.  See God loving you all the way to salvation.  The big plan has a glorious ending!  Remember the picture is one He’s creating- He’s writing the big story called life!

But also stay faithful to each little “instagram” moments…  to all the ways to say yes to His love.  Each moment God’s inviting us to turn our eyes toward His gaze.  Each moment He’s reminding us He’s with us every step of the way.

Staying faithful to the small picture of every detail in life,

helps us remember that it’s a really big plan:  unending Love in Eternity!


When Love Comes…

Have you ever felt swept away?

 Maybe by the crash of a real ocean wave…Or maybe by a tide

of overwhelming obligations.

Maybe by a beautiful sunset that left you literally speechless.


sunset st joseph drive



 Or maybe by someone with whom you’ve fallen madly in love with…

The feeling can lift us or it can wash us away….

depending on what’s causing the “wave”.

Recently, I have felt swept away by a decision to move after over 30 years.  In union with my husband and in union with God in prayer, we boxed up our world, and let the Love of the Holy Spirit move us.

And when Love comes to sweep you away, you don’t ask where He is taking you.

You just go.

And of course these major decisions and movements of the Spirit, come with many lessons to learn.  One must be humble under the guidance of the Spirit, and listen to the whisperings… gently given… in the heart.



U Haul

 Of course we must participate, but a crucial lesson has been to let Him haul.

 Yes, YOU haul us Lord!  We can’t do this on our own!

 Whenever I took over, and tried to haul the burden of packing,  cleaning, worrying about outcomes, and saying all the many goodbyes, I broke down.

It was too much for me alone.

Whenever I let the Holy Spirit take over, and “haul” all my concerns for me, each day began with trials, but ended with gratitude in my heart

for all HE had accomplished through me.

Each day, He’d send just the right person, or note, or kindness or inspiration in prayer.  Each day He’s send just enough manpower or financial support

or glimpse of the future full of hope.

A movement of grace has swept over us.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus has opened.  The Holy Spirit has come to sweep us away, and we trust Him to provide all we need.

Don’t ask, just go.  It is Love who has come to sweep you away!


The Folds of Mary’s Mantle


“Are you not in the folds of my mantle?

Tucked away in the night?”

“No, rather darkness and fear enfold me.

They make me shiver with fright”

“Shhh now- a Mother has been given to you

I stand at the root of the tree,

See the crossing I make with my arms

This is where I want you to be.

Nurse from the constant graces that flow

Find your place close to me

Search the ebb and the flow of the waves

My mantle provides now for thee”

I looked at the waves, the flow, and the veil

I looked for the comfort I sought

And there, amid all my chaos and screams

I saw end to the fears I had fought

There within the curve of her dress

A fold in the mantle made for me

A place to enter, to rest, and be blessed

Where darkness could no longer be.

Don’t wait too long to search the whole tide

For she waits to give you this place

Seek not the foolish things of the world

When the Mantle is where you’ll find grace.

Know that there is a fold just for you

Just for where you are now

Darkness and fear must flee in the fold–

Her Mantle wraps you in His power.

Two Roads of Worship

 There always seems to be that fork in the road.  And we’re given a choice, and a chance.

One road leads here.  It’s called The Real Absence, and it’s crowded with travelers.

Monstrance Empty

Beautiful isn’t it?  Lots of shine, lots of gold.  Jewels and many rays of light.

On this road, Real Absence,  our eyes are focused solely on the world

and it’s destination leads us straight into nothing.

There is no One at it’s center…nothing to keep us grounded.  So we’re free to worship all that’s around it.

 Speedily we race to beat time, and to beat each other…like rays reaching out to grasp and possess.   With no Compass for a Guide, we’re taken in by all life’s golden distractions: material things, comforts and ease every kind, earthly pleasures and possessions,  even people that we idolize.

Restlessness resides at every jeweled twist and turn

as we worship along the road of Real Absence.

Nothing holds it together.  It’s center is emptiness. Real Absence.


But  today I chose the road less traveled.  

It lead me here. And it’s Name is The Real Presence.


At first glance, it might look like nothing new: same gold, jewels, and rays of light

…but wait.

Something, Someone seems to be holding it all together.

 Rays of light shine from Him, and once you find this Center,

you can’t keep your eyes off of Him.

Nothing outside of Him fills your heart like He does. You become still.

 You’re satisfied, purified, mesmerized.  The world and all its “bling”hold no attraction any more.  No more need for racing along twisted turns. Those on this road with you all have their hearts sent on Him.  No more competition or grasping. And somehow everything around Him makes more sense, and has it’s proper place.

So this is the road you just stop on.  He’s the journey and the destination.

He’s found you upon it.  And He will not lead you astray.  

Take the road less traveled today and see where it leads you in worship…

He waits for you to be under His Gaze and find peace in

The Real Presence.


Sentinel Type Waiting


“I trust in the Lord

My soul trusts in His word

My soul waits for the Lord

More than sentinels wait for the dawn” (Psalm 130:6)

Docility, St Thomas Aquinas tells us, is one of the integral parts in the discerning task of prudence (deciding the right thing to do).  It means knowing how to listen, so that we can be teachable.

Sentinels needed to be docile and ready- ready to listen. Yes for every stir or sound

’round the place of their guard. 

And night shift sentinels had an added challenge.  Darkness surrounded them.  They needed to be still to hear the slightest sounds.  They had to be prepared to receive the circumstances around them.

And as the night wore on, they tired as they waited.  They longed for those first rays of light on the horizon.  The promise that they might see and might be able to find some rest.


Are you awaiting the dawn?  Is it hard to be still and to listen with docility?  You want to discern the right thing.  You shiver until the sun brings some warmth.

How to be like the sentinel?  How to stay still in the dark? Do you wait for a reconciliation?  A healing,  or a place to work and to live? Do you wait to know your vocation?  And what God is calling you to do?

Especially when God’s seems to be silent.  You wait for the dawn of answered prayer. You stay awake so you’re ready to hear.

And creation tells us the story.  We’ve listened to it day after day :  

Night time is always over.  

And time moves us into the light.

Tested in long times of suffering, we are born children of the day.

 He makes all things new.

God bless all you sentinels out there waiting.  I join my heart prayers to yours.  

I choose to trust in His promises of day.  My soul will await the dawn.

Our Lady of Fatima – 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

It is the Eve of the 100 Year Anniversary of the Mother of God’s first appearance to the shepherd children, Jacinta, Francesco, and Lucia in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.

There is a sense of anticipation.  She’s made herself known before.  

She’s come to help us back to our faith.  She’s a Mother and she longs for her children to be at peace.

Will we hear her call to draw near to her?  Will we help our brothers and sisters on the way back to life?  Does it matter to us still today?

The message of her tender concern is hard to refuse.    

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a well known Catholic author, has given us a great gift in this book as she writes about the awe inspiring events at Fatima.  Adding to the accurate and well described historical background, O’Boyle offers readers other little known stories, the words of notable people on the subject, and a way to “bring it home” by applying the messages of Our Lady to our own lives today.

Details of each apparition and how the children responded with heroic love to the call of our Lady, leave us examining our own consciences in regards to our journeys in faith.  As we read of their suffering and offering of many sacrifices we find our hearts convicted to to the same.  

Francisco and Jacinta die young, but not without modeling how to pray.  Lucia lives on many decades more to spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart. From seeing the horrors of hell to witnessing the miracle of the sun, the shepherd children reveal for us the reality of the life beyond time on this earth.

Mary asks for Five First Saturday devotion- confession, Holy Communion, and recitation of the rosary.  These requests are now made of us, so that we might obtain peace.  And so that many souls might be saved by our prayers.

Countless Popes devoted to the Mother of God, are described in the book, and how they all had a role in Fatima’s story. All knew of the consecration to Our Lady.  They fostered the devotion, approving of the the apparitions, and wrote to encourage the faithful to turn their hearts back to the Lord.  They consecrated themselves and the world, just as Mary had wished.

With prayers and devotions in each chapter, the book becomes an opportunity to change and to grow.  When our hearts receive the message of Fatima, they are moved to seek shelter in the arms of our Mother.

What is the significance of this great appearance and anniversary feast?  Mary is perhaps giving us time and an invitation to seriously consider our relationship to God.

Do we not long for a time of peace- maybe in our families, in our communities, in our country, in our world?  Are we not finding in our own hearts

a spirit of discouragement or concern?

Which one of us would not want to be comforted right now? 

Mary wants to help.   O’ Boyle’s book can bring us right into our Mother’s arms.  Perhaps today Mary is sweetly calling you back home.

Will you answer her call?

“Littlest Suffering Souls” by Austin Ruse

 The little wren outside is pecking seeds off the wooden deck- so small and seemingly insignificant.

What could this poor little creature teach me?  

How often we ignore the littlest among us.  How often we ignore the simple of heart, those who go about their purpose in life, while the rest of the complicated world whirls around them.

Especially when it comes to suffering human beings, we’re slow to take notice of those who can’t keep up with the pace.

The book, Littlest Suffering Souls, by Austin Ruse, reminds readers of the great graces available to those who are faced with the care and responsibility of little ones, and additionally, the humility it takes to learn from life’s sicknesses and pain.

And there may be no greater pain that watching a child suffer.  

Our Mother Mary knew that ache.

Ruse shares the blessed heroism of three modern day children and their families. And he shows us that each family is unique in the crosses they bear, but that all are called to embrace them with love.

And then, miracles happen!

Devotion, faith, openness, and littleness of heart

bring exaltation, blessings and unexpected joys.

Ruses’ book is about three small children who suffered greatly from physical illnesses.  Struck with Downs Syndrome, leukemia, spinal bifida, and all their complications, the short lives of Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey were a marathon of enduring pain. The untimely deaths of these little ones, though, continue to bring about great conversions.

Their example teaches us how redemptive suffering which is offered up and united to Christ’s, can be a powerful force.  Readers are led to consider how accepting one’s own crosses in life while keeping hope in expectant trust, can lead to peace and even joy.

Referencing great writers and saints in the Church, Ruse helps us understand this sometimes unpopular Catholic view.  Suffering united to Christ’s changes the world.  Brendan, Margaret and Audrey received wisdom beyond their young years, and suffered incredulously, with joy. Their parents’ stories, and those of their friends, are proof that these littlest suffering souls had a great mission.

All Catholic children, these three little ones became catechists and evangelizers to the family and friends they encountered.  How close they were to Jesus in the Eucharist- many of them requesting an early reception of this sacrament.  Priests who ministered to them and their families, were drawn to their saintly sides and remain forever changed in their own self sacrificial lives.

When the powerful, influential, and the worldly recognized the true Presence of Christ in Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey, they were changed. Renewed by watching them, even popes like St John Paul II, found renewal to serve the Lord and His Church in new ways.

Readers will find themselves privileged to have been given a glimpse of these saintly children, just as one catches a glimpse of a poor simple wren on a spring morning.

 As Ruse tells their stories, the heart and mind are given a new vision.  Our Lord tells us the same in His Word,

Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,and which none of the rulers of this age knew;

for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written:  “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart,what God has prepared for those who love him

(1 Cor 2: 6-9)

Brendan, Margaret, and Audrey, pray for us!