"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
I have decided to keep a gratitude journal. They are available everywhere now, titled and ready to record your thanks. But any kind of notebook will work. I’m feeling blessed right now. God has given me so many gifts and graces and I find that sometimes, because life gets in the way, I can forget to say a simple “thank you.” And because my needful prayers can sometimes consume me, that “thank you Lord” can easily be left hanging in the air. So, with pen in hand, I will pray my thank you in writing it down.
The other morning sitting in my prayer chair, a book that had been closed for many years, caught my eye. I hesitated (don’t know why) but then picked it up and opened it to the daily reading. The book is called, "Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy" it was written by Sarah Ban Breathnach. My mom gave me this book years ago. I had read it then and it became one of those books to keep. One that you don't want to get rid of because you know whenever you are called to open it, it will speak to you. Well yesterday was that day!
There it was, Gifts of the Magi. It was written with such simplicity and beauty.
She lists seven sets of gifts, saying that the real gifts of Christmas were wrapped in miracles. Here are the miracle gifts that she writes about.
The first gift was of Spirit, the Spirit of the Unconditional Love of God for mankind.
These miraculous gifts are not to be found in malls or on the internet. These are gifts we cannot order online. They are only welcomed and appreciated by an open heart.
And in the spirit of Christmas, we need to share these gifts of little miracles, to family, friends and even to casual acquaintances.
Never forget that we are God’s hands on earth. And never forget that there are many times when God works his miracles through us.
Awesome, isn’t it!
I hope each and everyone one of you has a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May the Lord continue to bless you and your loved ones!
Love and Peace to all,
Mary Maddox/Prayerful Path
"According to an article a few years ago in The Wall Street Journal, the Holy Land is "enjoying an unlikely wave of religion-based tourism even as the Middle East's wars and terrorist attacks scare away most leisure visitors." In 2014, the number of tourists visiting Israel tripled over the previous decade--from about 1.1 million to 3.3 million visitors. 56% of this increase was represented by Christians." ~Peter Economy, The Leadership Guy
I traveled to the Holy Land with a tour company and although it was amazing, I felt like I was being herded around from one spot to the next, on and off the bus. So that is why we have designed a more intimate way to see the Holy Land.
Last summer my son and I walked the Jesus Trail. We met and talked with many of the local businesses and were able to fine tune our Jesus Trail pilgrimage. Fine tune it in such a way that we feel we will be helping our pilgrims and the small businesses along the way, giving back a little to the small guy. We know what it feels like to be the small guy so helping out our fellow small business owners comforts our souls.
We do things differently than large tour companies. We will walk a part of this pilgrimage which will allow you to see the country side and to enjoy the land that Jesus walked. You will be able to interact with those who have lived their lives in this Holy place. Those meetings in themselves were unique and uplifting experiences. I will never forget their kindness and the encouragement.
We also will give our pilgrims time in Jerusalem. Time to explore, time to walk the streets and to experience this beautiful city. Time to find that hole in the wall restaurant that has the best Shawarma. Psst, we have a few places to share with you! We have handpicked all the sites, all the places not to be missed, all the wonder you could want to enhance your journey to the Holy Land. The more nitty gritty details can be found here:
You could go to the Holy Land with a big Tour Company with three buses or with a well- known author in a huge group and I'm sure either way would be amazing. But our pilgrimages will offer you a more intimate experience of the Holy Land. We believe in our small group experiences; time for sharing, time for reflections and time for prayer. In other words, time to make your pilgrimage days a special time with the Lord.
With Prayerful Path you will explore all the nooks and crannies and all the caves and dwellings in the country side. You will sit under a tree in a field watching the horses or cows or the local farmer and enjoying time to rest in the shade. Just like Jesus and his disciples must have done as they walked the countryside.
We will start our Lenten Journey differently this year, we will be in the Holy Land. So if you want some time for reflection, self-examination, repentance and time to deepen your relationship with God, then join us!
March 9-21, 2019
$2599 pp, dbl occupancy *land only
We can arrange all flight arrangements at an additional cost.
Want more information, please email or call us today!
As I sat in my prayer chair this morning, my eyes were drawn to this picture I have hanging on my wall. This work of art has Jesus in the boat with His disciples during the storm. As I looked at this picture, I realized the eyes of the disciples. They have fear in them and they are all looking at Jesus. They are depending on Him. Yet, He is sleeping.
"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." ~ Matthew 8:23-26
Our life’s journey is similar to the sea of Galilee that night. We can all relate to the disciples. We seem to have a strong faith when all is well, but when we see everything turning against us we fail to keep our eyes on Jesus and start to Panic.
You always hear on TV, if you fall into quicksand "don't panic". Now I hope we never fall into quicksand, but our lives can be just like quicksand. The more aimlessly we move around the more we sink. The more we depend on our own resources the more we sink. So keep your eyes on Jesus. Just like when Peter was walking on the water, when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and saw the waves of the oceans around him he started to sink. Stay focused on Jesus and allow Him to calm your storms.
This then brought me to the song by Hillside United called 'Oceans'. If you know it, then listen again, It is always a good one to hear again and again. If you have never heard it, I hope you enjoy.
You call me out upon the waters The great unknown, where feet may fail And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep, my faith will stand
"Yes . . . St. Nicholas was known to ride a donkey laden with gifts for children before he graduated to flying reindeer!"
Today, December 6th is the feast day of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children.
St. Nicholas of Myra is a major saint in many European and Eastern countries. Saint Nicholas would spread good will and charity towards the poor.
"It has been told that St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, threw bags of dowry money, either through a window or down a chimney, into the home of an impoverished family to rescue their daughters from being sold into slavery. This was just one of his many acts of good will and charity towards the poor, especially poor children." ~ Gretchen Filz
From this act of kindness, a tradition grew. Children would leave their shoes out overnight in front of the fireplace, on the windowsill, or outside their bedroom door so that St. Nicholas would fill them. He would come and fill the shoes with special fruits, candies and other small gifts.
Let us follow in the steps of St. Nicholas and help someone in need. I am sure each and everyone of you already have ways that you help others but this Advent lets try something new. Here are a few ideas.
Here are a few organizations you might wish to donate to.
A Prayer to Saint Nicholas of MyraO
Good St. Nicholas,
you who are the joy of the children,
put in my heart the spirit of childhood,
which the gospel speaks, and teach me to seed happiness around me.
You, whose feast prepares us for Christmas,
open my faith to the mystery of God made man.
You good bishop and shepherd,
help me to find my place in the Church
and inspire the Church to be faithful to the Gospel.
O good Saint Nicholas, patron of children, sailors and the helpless,
watch over those who pray to Jesus, your Lord and theirs,
as well as over those who humble themselves before you.
Bring us all in reverence to the Holy Child of Bethlehem,
when true joy and peace are found. Amen.
By: Mary Maddox
I will never forget my first pilgrimage. It changed my life forever. This is one of the reasons, pilgrimages hold such a dear place in my heart. I have seen what happens when we give ourselves to God. When we step outside of our comfort zone, leave our homes, sit in prayer and walk with Our Lord on a journey.
"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." Psalm 84:5
It was here on this pilgrimage to Medjugorje, where Our Lord grabbed hold of my heart. Sitting in the crowded church the song started. Here I Am, Lord. I started to sing the song which I had sung my whole life, yet this time it was different. I started to cry, not tears of sadness, no these were tears of joy!
I felt Our Lord, I felt His love, I felt Him hold me, I felt Him say, I am here!
I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart
Make this Advent a pilgrimage, walk this road to Bethlehem with the Holy Family. Give yourself some prayer time. Are you finding it hard to find your time?
The goal of Anthony Bloom’s classic book Beginning to Pray is to address the problem of praying within the speed at which our lives are moving. It's amazing because this book was written almost 40 years ago! His book continues to be an inspiration to people for prayer today. He says, “I will spare you any description of the way in which one can make time: I will only say that if we try and waste a little less of it, there will be more of it. If we use crumbs of wasted time to try to build short moments of recollection and prayer, we may discover that there is quite a lot of it.”
Once we have found that wasted time, be it 5 minutes or more, we can redeem it for reflection and prayer by being silent.
Lets break it down:
Don't get frustrated, start small. Enjoy your time.
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart
By: Mary Maddox
I just spent a year of walking. In 2018, I walked approximately 1000 miles across Europe and Israel. Let's break this down:
In April/May, I walked a portion of the Camino from Samos to Santiago. (10 days)
In May/June, I walked the full Camino from St. Jean to Santiago. (34 days)
In June, I walked the Jesus Trail in Israel. (4 days)
In September, I walked a portion of the Camino from Leon to Santiago. (14 days)
In Sept/Oct, I walked the full Portuguese Coastal Camino. (14 days)
It was my most amazing year. I found so much joy in all of this walking. I knew I had truly found my calling... leading others to Our Lord through walking meditation. Healing and love happens in every step.
So, why am I telling you this?
Because, I spent approximately 76 days with Our Lord. Over two months of walking across the world. In all that time, in laughter with others, in quiet prayer and in walking, our Lord kept repeating the same words to me, "Open your heart, I need you."
"Open your heart, I need you." What do you mean Lord? I thought you had my heart, I thought it was open. I pray, I do mission work, I help others, and I walk in faith. So, what do you mean, "Open your heart, I need you."
His words came on a very ordinary walking day. We were walking from Catrojeriz to Fromista. It was sunny and warm, one of the few warm weather days we had on our full Camino. We had 25 kms (16 miles) to hike. Toward the end of the day, we were walking along some canals. They were built in the 1750's, now they are used for irrigation. It was peaceful to walk along the water. Our group had separated, everyone walking at their own pace. I started to pray. As I walked step by step, I felt Our Lords presence next to me. It felt like He was walking beside me. This is when I heard Our Lord say, "open your heart, I need you.". I walked in silence and pondered those words. It was on this day, walking in the sunlight that I realized that my heart had been closed.
So, what happened? What closed my heart up tight and locked it? For me, it was my first experience of betrayal, a painful and scary time. (I know some people will say, you’re pretty lucky that it was your first) but the number matters not. It was a crushing blow to my heart. I know you can relate. All of us have been hurt by someone.
I thought I had forgiven my trespassers and I thought I was moving on. Yet, on this day, He reminded me that yes, I had forgiven but my heart was not open. My heart was not open to making new friends; my heart was afraid. I had retreated into His love. It was a good place. I needed the assurance of His love and care. I didn’t want or need to open myself to the outside world. His friendship was enough. But on this day his words were loud and clear. And maybe because of so many walking days and prayers, my little brain slowly saw the truth. My heart was not open! I was too complacent knowing I had forgiven, and once that was done, I stayed there. I concentrated on protecting my heart. I was stuck. But on that day, in that moment, I understood His simple call. OPEN YOUR HEART. He needs me. He needs me to give my heart freely. God needs me to not be afraid any more.
It's funny, Our Lord kept giving me signs along the Camino. I was hearing the same words over and over, spoken to me from strangers, "you radiate kindness and love" Wow! What? How could that be? I think the Lord was reminding me of the open hearted person I used to be. He was touching my heart with words from strangers, preparing me for His message.
I knew it was time. Time to heal and time to come back to the person formed in my mother's womb. As I walked, I chipped away at all the things that were holding me back.
You might ask, how did I do that?
I let go of pain.
I let go of pity.
I let go of trespasses and trespassers
I let go of comparing myself to others
I let go of expectations
I let go of being tough
I let go of fear
I let go and choose love again
I know we don't all have time to walk 1000 miles with God but maybe for me, it was needed. He got my attention that one warm sunny afternoon along the canals. A quiet, solitary place ... we all need that. Find yours … maybe it's at Church, at Adoration, or on a walk. Listen as you go about your day.
Chip away at your blocks. Allow the healing to take place and expect love, peace and joy to enter into your hearts.
Open your heart, let go and choose love again.
The season of Advent is a waiting time. Waiting with hopeful anticipation. Waiting with joyful hearts. The Blessed Mother Mary is on her way to Bethlehem.
As a child, I couldn't wait for Christmas. In my child’s heart it was all about Santa. Of course, we had the stable set up and the Advent calendar to count down the days, Jesus was coming. But so was Santa.
Every Christmas, I was probably the most impatient of the four children. I remember bugging my parents and my grandparents so much, that they started a new tradition. The story our parents told us (in order to get some sleep on Christmas Eve) was that Santa would start his journey at our house. We would be his first stop. Our house! Out of the entire world, our house! He would stop early on Christmas Eve, (yeah, I believed them, not my brother, but my two sisters and I were sold.) That meant that we would get home from Mass, have our Christmas Eve supper... and then my Dad would take all four of us for a walk. I'm glad we lived in Florida because it was usually perfect weather. As we walked around the neighborhood, we would be looking for Santa in the sky. My Dad would always see him and but just as we returned, he would see him fly away. What an amazing night! After we opened gifts, I would fall asleep so happy and in peace because my wishes had come true.
What a joyful time? Now as an adult, the magic of Santa long gone, the waiting Advent season takes on new meaning. We wait, we prepare and we look for readings that will fill our souls with comfort in this season of waiting. We are reminded of the times in our lives when waiting was difficult. It’s in those times that we hold onto words of wisdom. “All will be well.” “This too shall pass.” “Nothing is impossible with God.”
I understand the frustration of waiting. I have had days when the words, “Jesus I trust in You,” were my only comfort. Even now I find myself in a personal season of waiting. At times I wait joyfully, knowing and trusting that all will be well and at other times I feel lonely. I'm sure you can relate.
But in this season of Advent, I am reminded that Christmas is all about the plan of God unfolding, in God's way and in His good time. Mary’s story is unfolding as we patiently journey with her through Advent. God’s plan is unfolding for our salvation. And in faith we believe a way for us is unfolding.
Because of this, I sit in my prayer corner and prepare my heart for Christmas joy. Entering into a time of deeper prayer and reflection during this Advent season, has brought me to a good place. I know that I feel closest to Our Lord, when I give up the call of the world and give my time to Him. Especially in our fast-paced, technological society, we need our quiet time, a time to enter more fully into the joy of Christ's birth. We must now wait patiently like Our Blessed Mother. She is a perfect example for us. Mary surrendered to the workings of Divine Providence.
After conceiving Jesus at the Annunciation, Mary had to exercise great patience with Joseph, her betrothed, and had to wait for the Lord to direct him. Since Joseph feared taking Mary to be his wife, she might have wondered if Joseph understood the great role God was asking him to play in the Incarnation and the salvation of the world.
In order for us to experience Christmas joy, we are invited to wait patiently like Mary. So, join me in asking the Blessed Mother to help prepare our hearts for Christ.
God calls us to "holy waiting" as we look for the fulfillment of His promises. May we follow the Blessed Virgin Mary, who models this patience and holy waiting for us. She is our mother and guide during this Advent, leading us on the way to Christmas joy!
May we sleep peacefully during this Advent waiting time, happy to know in our hearts that Our Lord is fulfilling our Christmas wishes and prayers.
Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
“Prepare your hearts to receive Jesus the Savior.”
— Pope Francis, General Audience, Nov. 27, 2013
As Advent begins, reflect upon how ready you are to receive Jesus.
Are you preparing for it with the same passion and drive that you are preparing for Christmas through shopping, cooking, decorating, etc?
Are you preparing for the spiritual celebration of His birth?
Are you awake and aware of the numerous ways that God speaks to you on a daily basis?
As Pope Frances says.,"Prepare your hearts to receive Jesus the Savior", make this Advent the time to prepare your heart.
Make some commitments to prayer, spiritual exercises, reflection and attentiveness to His gentle and glorious voice.
Our Lady Calls us to Bethlehem
First Sunday of Advent
It’s All About Love
Our Lady of Medjugorje
Message from December 13, 1984
"Dear children! You know that the season of joy is getting closer, but without love you will achieve nothing. So first of all, begin to love your own family, everyone in the parish, and then you'll be able to love and accept all who are coming over here. Now let these seven days be a week when you need to learn to love. Thank you for having responded
to my call."
What happened to us? And when? When did we become so careful about who we choose to love, thinking we can judge someone's intent. Mary knows that our life experiences can dim our spirits. She knows that when someone hurts us we tend to keep a closer hold on our natural loving ways. And so she asks us again to think about opening our hearts and letting our love show. If we were truly on this road to Bethlehem with Mary, our loving hearts would embrace this young pregnant girl and her unborn child. No questions asked. Today there are many on the road with us. And no matter how strong and bold some may seem, I bet if we could see their hearts and they could see ours, it would be all about love.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen