September 19, 2013
In response to a sister in Christ, Catherine from Toronto who wrote: “I too am continuing to pray for the Lord’s will in your life and for His hand to be upon your endeavors. Please know you have many helping hands and praying hearts that are a message away! I hope that amidst your new working schedule at the college you are filled with a restful spirit and are provided with all that you need to serve our Lord.”, I responded: “Slowly and patiently, I am running after the Lord who is leading me on a speedy road. After giving the children a retreat in July, I was told that about 65+ children from 5-12 years old have signed up for my monthly spiritual art classes. That, I need your prayer! I have lesson plans ready to go. By the grace of God, I am trusting that Our Lady is inspiring me as the day is getting closer, and She will be there to guide us.” Together with the loving Blessed Mother, my dear St. Francis will intercede for me. As God wills it, the first Friday of October falls on his feast day, October 4th! Thank you Lord for all the careful details you always arrange and for all the little graces which you have been faithfully and lovingly giving me as signs of your loving concern to my every need.
Who are the children? Let’s go back to April, 2013. Then, winter was over. I continued to focus on looking for that piece of land I mentioned many months ago. I had a hard time getting in touch with Mr. Joseph so my patience was running low. My realtor friend Ena encouraged me not to give up. Spring was getting more and more beautiful. While the birds sang their morning songs and danced in the misty sun rays, happily to be the first to announce to all creation a new day, I felt the urge more than ever to find that “promised land”. But after a few weeks, I came to my senses and told myself not to push it for the Lord will provide if it is in deed his holy will. I was at ease and able to stay focused on other tasks. Then on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 12, I received a phone message from Janene Loughran on behalf of the Catholic Homeschooled Community of Rochester asking whether I would be willing to work with their children on art every first Friday of the month. After consulting my spiritual father and a prayerful discernment, I responded “Yes” “Of course dear Lord! The children are what make the Marian land come to life. An empty piece of land is lifeless and worthless. I need to know what their hearts desire in seeking to love You and to please You even though they have not yet been reminded of the hidden truth which is the source of every creature’s abiding happiness, for we are created by You and for You. St. Augustine revealed this awesome insight that our hearts are restless until they rest in You; Therefore O Lord, I need to learn how to work with them in order to pass on what I have been taught and how I have been loved – the kind of love that is rooted in You. Only you O Lord, for you are the God who can soften our hearts and influence our responses to your grace effectively. As Dante described You – You are the love which moves the sun and the other stars.”, I prayed. The Lord seemed to arrange it. A special retreat day was scheduled so I could meet and get to know some of the children and the parents. Friday, July 26 was the date which turned out to be the feast of the parents of Our Lady, Sts. Joachim and Ann. We had a beautiful and fruitful day. Rev. Father John Eudes met and gave the group a brief talk then he gave his blessings. I shared God’s special book of my life to them as an encouragement for them to imitate and cooperate with God as he too is writing a book about each of them. With Abbot Gerard’s permission, we prayed the Marian Children Rosary in the Abbey church after we prayed Sext with the community. The children were stars. The brothers were edified!!! Many thanks to the mothers for keeping an eye on them during the retreat. We are grateful to St. Mary’s in Geneseo for allowing us to use their parish center where we garthered for lunch. I personally thank Anita Braymond for all her help and hospitality. Among all who talked passionately about wanting to be involved with the Marian Land project, she was the only one chosen to help me that day. It meant very much that the children were able to pray the Rosary in the Abbey church. Many years ago, I had a vision of Our Lady giving me a string of peal-like beads in that very chapel which prompted me to start the Marian Children ministry. I am sure the Lord and Our Lady were very happy to have the children come to them in the Abbey church.
Many more signs came along which prompted Rev. Father to encourage me to be more active looking for that piece of land. I tried and tried but could not find what I thought would be the chosen foundation of this mission. The places where I fixed my eyes upon, the land is not available for sale. “What is it dear Blessed Mother that I should be focused on, my lesson plans for the children? Yes, but there are more because I cannot stay put. Please pray for me.” I often asked her. Time went by so fast. It did not feel like it, but August has arrived. One afternoon, after a period of intense silent prayer with Our Lady in the Abbey church after Mass, I walked out and saw our friend Kevin who was waiting to introduce me to his friend, Angela Carboni from Toronto. Angela felt connected with me right away because she thought I looked so much like St. Bernadette whom she admires and loves dearly. She founded Saint Bernadette’s Family Resource Center (http://www.stbernadettesfrc.org) about 20 years ago. I brought her to see my imported marble statues which impressed her greatly since she is associated with a Marian shrine back home in Canada. We talked, and to my surprise, I found out that the two ministries: St Bernadette’s and the shrine, she is involved with, have a lot to do with my future plans. Only God knows for sure why He wanted us to meet. Angela invited me to Canada for a visit. About three weeks later, with faith, I made a one-day pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Gratitude and visited one of her day cares (8 hour-trip and 7 hour-visit in one day). I came home and had a lot to process after the visit. There are many things I saw, heard and learned from the experience. “Thank You Lord. Thank you Blessed Mother.” Angela has scheduled a special conference: A Catholic Perspective on a Bride of Christ, for the end of October. She was looking for a guest speaker.”I have found you.”, she said. So I am scheduled to give “A Soul’s Journey With God” PowerPoint presentation on October 26, 2013 at the shrine which locates behind St. Jude’s Academy of the Arts, 3100 Weston Rd. North York, ON M9M 2S7 Canada.
To Catherine, I continued: “A couple weeks ago, on my birthday, our college newspaper editor approached me and wanted to do an article on my art. Abbot Gerard will give a talk at our school next month. So in a way, I paved the way for him :-). The Abbey and Rev. Father were mentioned in the article as the place where I practice my faith and the source where get my daily spiritual nourishment. Working at the college is always a joy. I am slowly getting back to writing icons. There are many unfinished icons and 3 commissions (possibly 4) awaiting me. I am too helping Angela putting together the poster announcement for the all-day event in October when I give my talk”
I am happy to stay preoccupied with the Lord’s business. However, now and then, the workload does catch up with me. To the Byzantine Carmelite sisters I wrote:”Many times I ask the dearest and most beloved Lord why we are so busy. I thought once we surrender our whole being and will to him, the only busy thing we do is to love him; therefore, to serve him. The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few so we, his followers and laborers have to work harder. I pray and hope that even though, some of us do not feel as if we spend much time loving our Lord because of the toil of this world, we actually love him more than we stay busy serving him.” AMEN.