Today’s readings are some of my favorites! The prophet Isaiah always intrigues me. The Magnificat is absolutely gorgeous! The second reading really challenges us – to pray always and to give thanks in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES – wow! That is a toughie but do-able with God’s Great Grace!
The gospel gave me fond thoughts, however. Our son, John, was named for John the Baptist so I always love to read from scripture about the one who came to prepare the way of the Lord. Here is a snippet of a chapter from “God Messaging” about my John’s birth and his special name…
…At any rate, we conceived the child that had been missing from our family on that February night. God took one precious soul from our family home to heaven. On that very same date, he created another precious soul in my womb. Somehow, I know that Elsie had something to do with this miracle and its timing. Whether she personally pleaded our case before God’s altar in heaven, I do not know. I do know that nine months later, on the fifteenth of October, our baby boy, John, was born. He entered the world on a Friday, the feast of St. Theresa of Avila, reformer of the Carmelite order!
To allay any doubts that we had about our baby’s intended name, a few reassurances became apparent at his John’s baptism. First, our parish priest was supposed to perform the sacrament, however, his plane from the Philippines was delayed, and he was unable to preside. A priest who was new to the parish, Fr. John, took his place that day. Fr. John happened to be a former classmate of my husband from high school. Though I had never noticed before, the baptismal font bore a picture of Jesus’ cousin, “a voice crying out in the wilderness”, the same saint for which our son had been named. Ironically, unbeknownst to us, the gospel reading for that Sunday was the commissioning of John the Baptist!
In hopes of honoring Elsie’s memory and continuing her gift of spirituality, we often pray the rosary together as a family in the evenings. During good times and in times of trial, this devotion has truly drawn us closer to Jesus and to each other.
We have also tried to continue to honor her strong belief in the importance of praying for the church suffering. During a retreat I attended last summer, a kind, elderly priest put a wonderful tool into my hands following mass. It was a St. Gertrude prayer card. Our Lord appeared to St. Gertrude hundreds of years ago and told her that this prayer for the souls in purgatory would release one thousand souls each time that it was said. I was overjoyed. I thought, “This is something tangible! This is something I can do!” I’ve been passing this along to my students and friends ever since!
I believe that the timing and circumstances surrounding John’s birth were no coincidence. Our beloved Elsie, the lay Carmelite, was interceding for us in heaven. To our gracious God and to Elsie, we will always be grateful.