Category Archives: My Walk with Jesus

Our Lady’s Bug

Today, while in prayer after receiving our Lord in Holy Communion, Jesus inspired me to tell you the following heart- warming story which I experienced some years ago, a story which reveals His Mother’s tender love and concern for and gentle presence with her dear children throughout the ages. In prayer the Lord brought to mind my young God-daughter and niece, Alenka, who will be turning 13 this summer. Jesus is prompting me to send her a lovely little ladybug devotional bracelet with a Cross and an image of our Lady of Grace connected by a string of little red ladybug beads, which I was wearing today at Mass. This devotional bracelet was given to me A couple of years ago by a Catholic friend, after I shared with her my experience with our Mamma Mary and some ladybugs during Easter. To my delight and surprise, my friend told me that the ladybug (also known as a ladybird and a ladybeetle) has an historical connection with our Blessed Mother Mary because of a miracle she performed in Europe in the Middle Ages.

(From Catholic.org, article dated October 30, 2004) “The original name of the ladybug is “Our Lady’s Bug.” It seems that during the Middle Ages, a plague of small insects (aphids) attacked the crops, threatening Europe with starvation. The people had recourse to Our Lady, and petitioned her to save them from this plague. In answer to their prayer, a cloud of small, black-spotted, orange-red insects arrived and promptly ate all the offending pests. The grateful population gave to them the name, “Our Lady’s Bugs.” News of this miracle spread and a comparison of over 40 languages, including different dialects, this small beetle was given a great variety of names, referring to Our Lady and God such as: “God’s Little Cow” (Dievo Karvute, Lithuanian; Vaquilla de Dios, Spanish); “Dear God’s Little Creature” (Lieve Heersbeestje, Dutch);

 

  • Ye Mariam Tinziza … “Mary’s Beetle”, Amharic (West Ethiopia);
  • Arca de la Mare de Deu…“Mother of God’s Ark”Catalan;
  • Gallinetta de la Mare de Deu… “Mother of God’s Chicken” …Catalan
  • Bubamara … “Mary’s Beetle” …Croatian
  • Mariehøne … “Mary’s Hen” …Danish (and Norwegian, if the ‘e’ is made an  ‘a’)
  • Onzer-lieve-vrouwe Beestje… “Our Dear Lady’s Little Creature” …Dutch
  • Bete de la Vierge … “The Virgin’s Creature” …French
  • Frauenkäferlein … “Our Lady’s Little Beetle” …German (Bohemia)
  • Scarpa de la Madona … “The Madonna’s Shoe” …Italian (Turin)
  • Kafsch Dus … “God’s Beetle” …Persian (Iran)
  • Boul-popei … “The Pope’s Ox” …Romanian
  • Jungfru Maria Nyckelpiga… “Virgin Mary’s Key Maid” …Swedish.” 

I had no idea how universal this association between the ladybug and our Blessed Mother Mary and God is! I just knew that our Lady had revealed her Presence and tender care for me through a ladybug!

 

Here is my story. While living in Pennsylvania, during the winter months, I would find some ladybugs in our bedroom on the curtains and window frames. Somehow they had crawled in through small crevices/cracks, seeking warmth inside our home from the harsh winter cold. The first winter I saw them, I paid no attention to their plight because I didn’t understand that they would not survive inside, as they would dry out from the heating. They should’ve been hibernating outside under the earth for the winter where their body temperatures would drop and their internal system would slow down until the first warmth of spring when they would awake and come out of hibernation. Those ladybugs that had come into a heated home, their bodies would not know to hibernate, rather they would simply dehydrate and die. The second winter that I saw the lovely ladybugs inside my house, I was curious about them and so I looked up on the Internet information about ladybugs and learned that in order to be humane it would be necessary to build a terrarium. One must place the ladybugs in the terrarium and provide water and honey for them to survive until spring when they could be released. I worked very hard on this and created a beautiful terrarium with twigs and earth and leaves in a glass container with a aerated lid for the seven ladybugs that I rescued that second winter. I provided them with fresh water and honey daily, using plastic bottle caps for their little bowls.

I became a caring mother to the seven ladybugs from November until April. Occasionally some of them would manage to get out of the lid, and in a panic I went looking for them all over the house, knowing that if they did not return to the terrarium they would dry out and die. I did find them, usually on the windows, and replaced them in their temporary home. One of them even laid eggs in the terrarium, so I knew that they were male and female, although I could not tell them apart. It was a joyful labor of love for the six months of winter looking after these little creatures of God, although my husband and children did not understand why I should care about “just bugs”. But I have the spirit of Saint Francis, and I care about every living creature no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. To me all life is sacred and beautiful. I discovered that one can become attached even to ladybugs, as love does not discriminate!

 The week of Palm Sunday approached, and our family had plans to make a trip to Chicago to visit our older daughter. I found myself faced with the dilemma. Should I release the ladybugs outside since I would not be there for the week to provide water or honey for them? The temperature did not yet seem warm enough to release the ladybugs outside. What would happen if I left them for the duration of the trip in the terrarium and they dried out due to lack of water? I didn’t know what was the best course of action to take. I had been doting on them for six months and I couldn’t bear the thought that it would have all be in vain, that they would either die outside or inside if I made the wrong decision about their care. I sought guidance from the Lord on this matter. Ultimately, my sense was that they should be kept inside the terrarium until I got back. We left on our trip to Chicago. The weather took a sudden turn, and temperatures rose dramatically. I thought how I should have let them out. But how was I to know? I worried that the temperature inside the house without the air conditioning on would rise and the terrarium would dry out quickly and I would return to dead ladybugs. Remarkably the temperatures outside climbed into the nineties in Pennsylvania during that week!

 There I was in Chicago and there was nothing I could do but pray for my precious ladybugs to survive. My husband, my daughters and I were walking through Millennium Park in Chicago on that very hot afternoon in mid week of our trip. I thought about the ladybugs in their dry as a bone glass terrarium with shriveled and brown leaves and clippings.

  I lifted my heart up to our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God , Help of Christians, and approached her Immaculate and Holy Heart in prayer right there in Millennium Park with all trust and confidence as my loving and caring Mother and indeed, the Mother of All the Living, appealing to her for protection of the little creatures that I had left back in Pennsylvania. I prayed out loud, and my daughters witnessed my call on her powerful intercession. Immediately after this deep and sincere cry from my heart, a ladybug landed on my hand!! I rejoiced while showing this miracle to my husband and daughters.

 This was beyond astounding! I praised the God of heaven and His Mother for their awesome Love and power. I believed in faith that all would surely be well with my ladybugs when I returned to Pennsylvania.

Several days later we arrived back at home and I found a bone dry terrarium filled with shriveled, dry and crumbling leaves and not a drop of water. But the ladybugs were there safe and fully alive! I released them on Easter Sunday morning into a pink flowering tree while praising Our Lord Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, and Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!

The Battle Cry: Marching Orders for Spiritual Warfare – the week of Monday, May 26, 2017 through Monday, June 5, 2017

On Monday, May 26, 2017 I went to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for Holy Mass, and after receiving Communion, stayed  as I usually do in contemplation of our Lord in the silence of the great Cathedral. Jesus began to converse with me.

“Dear child, be at peace. I am with you. I am always with you and all those whom I love. I love you with an everlasting love. There is nothing to fear – perfect love casts out fear.

(There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” John 4:18-19.)

“Trust me. I am love –

in Me you live and move and have your being. (Acts 17:28)

As you are in Me, and I am perfect love, there is nothing to fear.

My mother endured all of her suffering in My peace because she was filled with My grace – My love. Her heart was bared – an open vessel – which did not resist the Holy Spirit of love which was poured into her. I want to pour out on all hearts My Holy Spirit afresh, but hearts must be open to receive this grace.”

At this moment in my meditation, I was overwhelmed with doubts and fears, concerned that I may be imagining these words from the Lord, that I was sinning by presumption, that I was deluding myself. I became so troubled that I told the Lord in my prayer that I was leaving the church immediately and was not going to stay with Him and listen anymore to these thoughts and inspirations that we’re coming into my soul. So I left the church, dejected. I did not return to sit in the prayer of quiet and contemplation with the Lord in the several days to follow due to doubt and fear.

Six days later, on the morning of Pentecost Sunday, I awoke, having had the most extraordinary dream. I remembered that I had briefly awoken in the very early morning around 5 AM and then had fallen back to sleep. Then I began to dream an incredible mystical dream. It was a vision in the night.  In this remarkable dream I was confronted by the devil. I was in direct and intense battle with the evil one, who was threatening me, pursuing me and attacking me with all means of wicked warfare. Although Satan’s presence was not visible, -I could not see him with my eyes visibly in my dream – yet he was there in all his diabolical power and deception. It was an exhausting and terrifying ordeal and just at the moment in which the evil one was at his most threatening, I felt the Presence of our Lord with me. His Presence was not visible either, but I knew He was there, and He was helping me. His power and might vanquished the enemy and I was safe and liberated from his threats and attacks.

This mystical and awesome dream came to an end, as I awoke around 8 am on the morning of the Feast of Pentecost! I immediately began thanking and praising out loud the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit Who had come to my aid against the enemy of my soul and had given me the victory! I reflected with joy and awe throughout the entire day of Pentecost on this astounding manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit in my night vision.  It did not escape my understanding that, this gift of deliverance from the oppression of Satan, through the manifestation of the mighty strength of the Holy Spirit occurred on Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of Christ’s holy Church, and the day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles in the upper room in Tongues of Fire and to the sound and strength of a mighty Wind! I believe this mystical dream is not only for me. I believe the Lord allowed me to experience this trial, this testing, this spiritual warfare of Satan, and his mighty deliverance from the devil’s power on Pentecost to remind all of you that we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome all the wiles and snares of the wicked one and to be victorious in the power and might of the Love and Holiness of the Lord! I implore you to appropriate the experience Our Lord provided me in this night vision and take it as your own!

Zechariah 4:6

Then he answered, and spake unto me, saying

(In great condescension, in order to instruct as to the true meaning of the vision), This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabelsaying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lords of Hosts.”!!! 

On Monday, June 5, 2017 I went in the evening during the Hour of Adoration to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament at my local church, Saint Patrick’s. Having experienced the blessing of the night vision of Pentecost, I confidently opened my heart and spoke these words to our Lord.

I am open tonight, Lord, wide open in heart to hear Your words. Speak, sweet Jesus, gentle Spirit, loving Father to me Your little child. I am ready. My heart is ready!

I heard Jesus say to me:

“Well done, Ann, you have released yourself to Me. Now I can speak and you will hear Me. I love when my dear ones come and visit Me in adoration. So few come and spend time with Me. You do not come often enough, Ann. Please come and sit with Me more often. Sit and rest and let Me refresh you and fill your soul with My love and Presence. There is no striving in My gentle peace. Soak My peace into your soul like a sponge soaks water. I fill your soul with My Spirit which runs like Living Water through your being, strengthening you, filling you with hidden Power – a reservoir of strength and power for trials to come. And trials will surely come to you. My child, do not fear the trials which are to come, for I will be with you, beside you, within you, helping you through them all. Trust Me, lean on Me and in those days I will carry you in the strength of My love which lives in you.

“Be good dear child. Be very good, so My love will shine forth from you and others will come to know Me and love Me in you. Be kind, be true, be gentle, be genuine, be trustworthy, be careful in your speech. Do not rush to speak too hastily. Take your time to lift your heart in prayer to Me for guidance in what you say – how to respond. You are often hasty with your words. Slowly, carefully, and listen to Me and others. Learn from Me, learn about others. Hear them well and then respond in love and gentleness, led by My Spirit.

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.'(First Corinthians 13:4)

“All is well, dear child.  Go forward filled with My peace and love to share Me with all whom you encounter, through your gentle words and loving deeds.

Your Jesus.”

All Creatures Great and Small, the Lord God Loves Them All – The True Story of Mittens and Her Kittens.

This evening I’ve been sitting on my deck looking out over my yard, which is surrounded by many old trees, some which are more than 100 years old. The grass is green because we’ve had so much rain here in southern New Jersey. The trees are thick with green foliage and the sun is setting, as night is falling, but I can’t see the setting sun because there is an expansive grey cloud cover above me. I had to put an elegant white plastic swan in my swimming pool which I just opened for the summer, and which is sparkling blue and creating a tranquil and pleasant vista from my deck in order to deter a determined pair of Mallard ducks which have been feeding all spring under my bird-feeders, from swimming in my clean pool.

I have been feeding this faithful duck pair for several years now, and I understand that ducks mate for life. I also put food out daily for squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and I fill several birdfeeders for all the many bird species that live here in the middle Atlantic United States. I even leave out leftovers from our dinner plates for any other wild animal that comes up from the woods and from the lake searching for some morsels to eat. I’ve fed a red fox, and nearly pure white skunk, a possum, and two raccoons with the scraps from my dinner table. Recently, a grey tabby cat has appeared and has devoured anything and everything I put out in the evening. I’m thinking it may be a feral cat although it could be one of the neighbors cats that just has a very ravenous appetite.

In this peaceful and blessed state of mind and spirit, I began singing a hymn that I wrote a few years ago, “Walking by Faith” to the Lord in adoration.

It’s then that Jesus surprised and delighted me by bringing to mind an experience we shared 10 years ago and that I feel He desires that I relate to you in order to reveal His tender love and compassionate care for His beloved Creation and to witness to His close attentiveness to every one of our prayers.

One evening, in May 2007, while I was living in Pennsylvania, there was a terrific thunderstorm that broke out in the evening. I noticed my gorgeous white Himalayan puffball of a cat sitting in our breakfast room window looking intently into our backyard through the driving rain at something on the other side of the pool, close to the fence. Since she was staring so fixedly despite the rumblings of thunder and flashes of lightning, I went to the window to see what she might be looking at. It was then that I noticed a small motley and bedraggled calico cat whose fur was soaked through and who had the appearance from which the expression came, “it looks like something the cat dragged in from the rain”! What was this poor creature doing outside during such a torrential down pour, I asked myself. I opened the door and leaned out over the deck and tried to call the cat to come. She seemed scared. I quickly poured some cat food in a bowl, and shook the bowl to attract her attention and to try to draw her in. I set it down on the deck near the door where she could eat if she was hungry with some protection from the harsh elements.

I went inside and shut the door and waited and watched to see if she would come to eat. She did come, as she was starving. When I saw that she ate all the food I gently opened the door to encourage her to come in. She was scared and she ran to the side of the house. It’s then that I thought open the garage door to see if she would come in to take shelter. She indeed wanted to escape the storm and after a little while she entered the door to the garage. Now I had her! I prepared a box with some bedding and put a water bowl and food bowl next to her new little “house” in my garage. She would be warm and safe tonight. My daughters and I came into the garage and allowed her to get accustomed to our presence. She could feel that she was loved and being cared for, and she soon relaxed and accepted us. We realized that she had been someone’s pet, and had been dropped off in our nice neighborhood to fend for herself, as sadly she was no longer wanted. I came to this conclusion the next day after I took her to the veterinarian to be checked.

There was a sense of urgency to get her checked immediately the next day so that I could find her a new home. My husband did not want to take in a second cat, and he gave me an ultimatum, that if I did not find a home for her the next day she would have to be brought to the SPCA shelter. I surely didn’t want to do this, as I know how many animals languish in shelters waiting for adoption, and in many cases are put down if they cannot be resettled into permanent homes quickly.

So I determined to take the little cat that I named “Mittens” because of her mutation of having six toes on each paw! These kind of cats are known as polydactyl cats or Hemingway cats. Each of her paws looked like she was wearing mittens; she was extremely adorable because of this deformity. Who would want to dispose of such a cute little creature? When the veterinarian performed her examination, she sensed that Mittens might be pregnant. She took an x-ray and could clearly see there were at least two developing kittens in her womb. That might be why she was released, as she had not been spayed and perhaps her owners did not want any more mouths to feed or to deal with the birth of kittens.

How could I find a home for Mittens and her soon-to-be kittens in only one day, I asked myself in exasperation! I begged the veterinarian to adopt her on the spot and to try to find a home for her amongst their many clients and using their connections. Unfortunately, the veterinarian would not be able to help me. I paid her services and left the clinic dejectedly. Then with a sudden burst of Faith, I lifted my heart and voice to the Lord Jesus and begged Him instead to help me, as “all things are possible for God”! My faith in that moment felt substantial. Hope rose in my heart and I felt a sense of peace and joy flood my soul.

When I returned from the veterinarian I proceeded to make phone calls to everyone that I knew, asking if they would be willing to adopt mama Mittens and her kittens, leaving messages on their answering machines since I did not reach anyone in person.

Having completed numerous phone calls, I had to run an errand, so I left the house and drove away, calling on St. Francis of Assisi to advocate for me to our Lord, for extra grace to solve this crisis. I love Saint Francis not only because he is the Saint most associated with animals, but also because he was instrumental in my conversion to Christ in 2000 after decades of agnosticism, and ultimately for my coming into full communion with Christ’s one, holy Catholic and apostolic Church some years (in 2004) after my turning to Jesus with my whole heart.

When I returned home it was later afternoon, and time was running out. I knew by evening I would need to take Mittens to the SPCA after my husband returned home from work, if I had nowhere else to bring her.

The phone rang, and a friend, an Arab Muslim woman from Jerusalem, now living with her husband and daughters in New Jersey, had picked up my message and was calling me back. I could not believe my ears when I heard her say to me that she wanted to adopt Mittens! It was a miracle! – an answer to my prayer by both our Lord Jesus and St. Francis. The call came just minutes before my husband walked in the door from work! But even more astounding, was what Amal shared with me as the reason to why she wanted to adopt Mittens.

Amal told me that last night she had had a dream about her father. Her father had died in Jerusalem last year and she told me that he had appeared to her in a dream last night, the night before the one year anniversary of his death! Today, ( the day I had called and left a message asking her if she would adopt Mittens and her kittens) was the one year anniversary of her father’s passing. Her father lived on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and he loved cats. He had “adopted” three stray cats that hung around his house and he fed them and cared for them. Only he cared for them, and no one else paid any attention to them. On the day he died, no one was there to look after them anymore, and so they disappeared. Amal just knew she had to adopt Mittens and her two soon-to-be-born kittens, believing that her father would surely want this and be pleased, and that she could demonstrate her love and show her honor to her father by adopting the pregnant Mittens. She firmly believed that God had specifically granted her this vision of her father in the night to prepare her for this act of charity. I knew it was true because I had prayed to the Lord asking for His urgent and essential help, fully trusting He had heard my prayer and knowing, believing and trusting in His love for me, and for Amal and her father and for every one of His creatures. When I dropped off Mittens to Amal’s home, we saw on Mitten’s neck a golden mark in her fur of a large cross! The rest of her pattern of fur was all splotchy calico with no other distinct markings!

Not long after that Mittens gave birth to her kittens, and they have been loved by Amal and her family for all these years!

“All things bright and beautiful, 

 

All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all. 

 Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

 All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all. 

 The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

 All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

 The purple headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

 All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

 The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one. 

 All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

 The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
To gather every day. 

 All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

 He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

 All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.” 

 

The Battle Cry: Marching Orders for May 10, 2017

After receiving holy Communion, my heart cried out, “Jesus, my Joy!”

Jesus responded, “Yes, Ann, Joy! Joy for the world who no longer have to walk in fear. I have conquered death. I raise up those who believe in Me to new Life – a Life of joy and abundance, capable of facing any trial in the strength of My grace. Even the trial of death is Joy as the believer knows their hope is not in vain and that they will come to be with Me in My eternal Life which already fills them through faith. Death is the last trial, a passage to My everlasting kingdom.

Joy! I came to give Life and life more abundantly to those who turn to Me, trust Me and have faith in Me. Your trust will never be confounded. I am true to My word and promises. I have risen from death and live – a testament to My word, the truth of My words.

Witnesses testify to My resurrection. Many gave their lives in witness to this truth.

I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First to rise from the dead, the Living One who lives forever. Those who know Me and trust Me live in Joy, because I live!”

The Battle Cry: Marching Orders for May 3, 2017

I came before the Lord today to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, gazing at His Face, in faith.

“Here I am looking at you, Lord.”

“I see you, Ann. Be at peace. I am here with you, in you, before you, all around you. You are Mine through and through. You belong to Me. There is nothing to fear when I am near. All is well. All is peace in Me.

You are learning patience. This is good. I am pleased. I have been training you, subtlety, gently, quietly, silently in the inner recesses of your soul. I am conforming you to Myself – to My image.

I am infinitely patient with those I love and who love Me. I am constantly forgiving their faults and failures, because I know their love for Me is true and lasting. They are on their way to Me in My heavenly Kingdom.

I know who are Mine for all eternity, and with these I am infinitely patient in love, mercy and forgiveness. They trust Me – trust My love for them and look to My mercy. You are like this. You are one of My trusting ones, Ann. How happy this makes me. Nothing brings Me more joy than a soul who trusts in My love for them. Trust is the way to heaven – the path to My heart.

Little child, how dear you are to Me. Stay small and little in your heart. Be humble at all times. Humility is trusting in My mercy, knowing one’s need for mercy and seeking My mercy in all simplicity of heart, mind and soul.”

“Gentle Jesus, give me Your mercy, for I am in need of Your kindness and love. Forgive me my faults and failures from Your everlasting treasury of mercy!

The Battle Cry: Marching Orders for April 29, 2017

“My heart is ready, O Lord, my heart is ready.”


“Ann, My child,  I am here with you.  Be at peace. All is well.

My little daughter how I love you. How I love that you have come early to meet with Me before Mass. So many just run in the door minutes before.


I am the King of the universe, worthy of respect. How many would do the same for a human monarch? No! – respect, anticipation, reverence and trepidation would precede an audience with any earthly king. Preparation would be made in order to be ready for such an audience. Do I deserve less – Your Master, Creator, Savior, God and King?

Be ready people for your King and Judge is coming soon. You do not know the day or the hour, but I tell you, you see the signs of My approach all around you. Will you receive your King? Will you be ready? Will you be prepared for My coming? Will you have your house in order for My arrival?

I will come as suddenly as a thief in the night. Be prepared for you do not know at what hour your Master will come. I say, be prepared to greet your King with all love and reverence, with your sins forgiven and put far behind you. The days of Grace are now. Soon will come the Day of Judgment. I love you and do not want you to perish or be severely judged.


 Come to My Heart – open for you to enter – wide open to receive you and pardon you for all your offenses. Will you come to Me to be forgiven? You are in need of My forgiveness as I am a holy King. Where I am, no unholiness may enter.  Purify yourself in My Blood.”

 

The David L. Gray Show – The Conversion of Ann Ammar

http://www.davidlgray.info/blog/2013/06/dlgs-ammar/

Gift of Life

monarch

I awake this day and I thank You for Your gift of Life

for the joy of hearing the sounds of the morning
a wondrous cacophony of Your creation
the chirping crickets
the roisterous tweeting, crackling, squawking of the birds
the sweet cooing of the mourning doves
the melodious chimes on my neighbor’s porch tinging in the gentle breeze
the distant rumbling of a jet passing overhead
the wooshing of cars both near and far
popping of staple guns from the construction site
tapping of pipes in this old house
the creaking of doors and floors
the grumbling of my tummy telling me it’s time for breakfast.

But lo! I am hungry for You
for Your heavenly food
Your Body and Your Blood
which gives me the strength to run the race of this day
and complete its course,
until dusk comes and
then I will thank Your for the living of this day
and the pleasant repose of this night.

I shall listen to the sounds of the evening
as all of creation
settles down into quiet and silence
and I can hear Your still small voice speaking to my heart,
“Goodnight, sweet child, until the morrow,
rest now in My arms of Peace”

Copyright©, Ann Ammar 9-8-2014

 

Poem for James Wright Foley

6a

James, did you say a prayer
or were you silent as you listened to angels’ wings
brushing against your hair?
Your face so fair
kneeling there.

You held yourself with great courage and marvelous dignity
The nation grieves
Good people weep
You’ll surely exchange your prisoner’s orange gown
with a holy robe of liberty.

James, did you see your Lover’s eyes
looking into yours
as you gazed across the horizon of Eternity?
His Face so fair
waiting there.

You witnessed to the sanctity of life against their brutality
The Heavens heave
With sighs of mercy
You’ll surely receive the Victor’s golden crown
God’s prize for love and humility.

The Double Portion Blessing

Dawn was gently breaking over the city of Jerusalem.  Located in the vicinity of our hotel, The Austrian Hospice of the Holy Family, which is situated on the Via Dolorosa at the bend in the road between the 3rd and 4th Stations of the Cross, I could hear a rooster crowing from a nearby courtyard of one of the ancient stone houses. He was greeting the rising sun and majestically announcing the start of a new day, just as the Lord of creation had ordained from the beginning of the world.

cockcrowing

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth….and God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1)

The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its Builder’s craft. One day to the next conveys that message; one night to the next imparts that knowledge….. God has pitched there a tent for the sun. It comes forth like a bridegroom from his chamber … from one end of the heavens it comes forth; its course runs through to the other; nothing escapes its heat. (Psalm 19:2-7)

For from the rising of the sun, to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to My name, and a pure offering. For My name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 1:11)

Father Avitus and I had arranged to meet in the lobby of our hotel very early on that special morning, when he would celebrate Mass for just the two of us in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Father Avitus and I are old friends. Father Avitus, who is from Tanzania, had been sent by his African Order, The Apostles of Jesus, to minister to the sick and dying in the nursing homes and hospitals of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, where I was living at that time.  Within days of his arrival to America, the Lord had arranged for us to meet in a marvelous way. From that moment, the Lord put in my heart the desire to assist Father Avitus in his ministry. I served as a lector, reading the Holy Scriptures, when he said Mass at the nursing homes. Further, for several years now, we have been working together on a medical mission for Tanzania.

After living in Israel for two years, I wanted to share my precious experience of the Holy Land with my dear friend and fellow laborer for the Lord.  So, my husband and I, invited Father Avitus during June 2010, to come to Israel for a twelve day visit.  I knew that Father Avitus, as a Catholic priest, should celebrate holy Mass daily. Thus, I endeavored to make arrangements through the Latin Patriarchate to reserve a time at the important sacred Christian shrines throughout the country for Father to celebrate Mass every day of his visit. Then I planned to arrange our pilgrimage around the Mass schedule that would be assigned to us. During June, there are many Catholic pilgrim groups from all over the world travelling to Israel. Thus, the priests who lead these pilgrim tours, have set up their mass schedules at these shrines, many months, and even years, before their planned trips.

With such short notice, and considering the few days which we had available to spend in the Old City of Jerusalem during Father’s pilgrimage, I knew that it would be highly improbable that I would be able to reserve any of the many altars inside the holiest of Christian Shrines, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, for Father to celebrate Mass.  This large and extensive Church of the Holy Sepulcher  is built over the last five Stations of the Cross:   11th, the nailing of Jesus to the Cross,  12th, the Crucifixion, 13th ,the taking down of Jesus’ Body from the Cross, 14th, the Burial of Jesus in the Holy Tomb, and 15th, the Resurrection.

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I simply could not believe what I heard when the secretary informed me that she was assigning Father not only to an altar inside the Basilica, but, to the altar at the Tomb of Christ!  I was filled with immense joy! I thought, Lord, how gracious You are to give us this most sublime blessing, to receive Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion at the precise place where You rose up from the dead in Your glorified resurrected Body!

Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid Him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.  (Luke 23:50-54)

And He said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6:5)

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. (Mark 16: 1-5)

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But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but He has been raised. Remember what He said to you while he was still in Galilee that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” And they remembered his words. (Luke 24:1-8)

 With hearts full of joy, Father and I set out through the large iron gate of our hotel, all the while praising God for this new day, for we live in the resurrected life of the Spirit of Christ.

Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; Behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith in the Son of God who has loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit .For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)

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We made our way along the Via Dolorosa and walked through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Muslim Quarter, which led into the Christian Quarter, until we reached the entrance to the large courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  We could see before us, just inside the huge doors, many lamps hanging over the pungent, chrism- drenched, Unction Stone, where Jesus’ Body, after having been taken down from the Cross, was laid and anointed before His burial in the Tomb.

In the center of the Basilica, underneath a large dome, is an area containing two small rooms: the Chapel of the Angel, with an altar containing a piece of the stone which was rolled away by angels at the Resurrection, and, the tiny Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher, which contains the Tomb of Christ.  A marble slab covers the place where Christ’s body was laid and from which He rose from the dead. A vase with candles marks the spot where His head rested.

Father went into the sacristy to get vested to celebrate Mass. I waited outside the door of the Sacristy for him.  It was about 7:30 in the morning, and there were some small pilgrim groups at various altars inside the Basilica, where the priests that accompanied them were saying Mass. I pondered how awesome it was, that in just a few moments, I would be inside the tiny Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher, which was barely big enough for three persons to stand in, all alone with Father Avitus, who would be celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

All of a sudden, a wondrous, generous thought entered my mind, and a deep feeling of bountiful love welled up in my heart.   Unexpectedly, I was filled with an intense desire to share Holy Communion with another member of the Body of Christ. I sensed the Holy Spirit was moving in me and prompting this beautiful intention. It must not be only Father and me, together in Christ’s Tomb, who would receive our merciful Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  He must be shared in Holy Communion with another one of our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ!  Aware of this remarkable prompting, I began praying silently for this desire to be realized, while waiting for Father Avitus to come out of the sacristy.

Fully dressed in pure white vestments, Father came out to me, and we turned towards the Tomb of Christ, to begin our two-person procession into the tiny Chapel.   As I turned, I saw a woman, who had not been there before. She looked at me with yearning and pleading eyes, with her arms held up in front of her chest, with her hands pressed together in the prayer position.  She did not have to say one word to me, as I completely understood that she desired with all her being to join us at Holy Mass in the Tomb of Christ.    My heart leapt for joy as I fully appreciated that the Lord had immediately answered my silent prayer! Further, I truly believe, as Jesus surely would know of the woman’s intense love for Him, and her heart’s desire to receive Him in Holy Communion, He stirred up in my heart, through the Holy Spirit, love, to want to share Holy Mass with her, and even to pray for this to be fulfilled.  In every way, I felt the Lord’s Will had been done!

The three of us processed in single file to the Tomb of Christ, where we entered into the Chapel of the Angel, and then passed into the tiny sanctuary of the Holy Sepulcher. Father prepared the altar on the marble slab, which covers the sepulcher, for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He asked the woman if she spoke English. She shook her head and responded, “no, Italiano.”

Father began the Mass and we lifted up our hearts, minds, and souls, to the Lord with all our strength of love and adoration.  The woman responded in Italian, as I responded in English, to Father, as he said the Mass. Even though we came from different countries, Tanzania, America, and Italy, and all spoke different languages, in the Body of Christ, we are one in the Lord.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4: 4-6)

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When the time came in the Order of the Mass for Holy Communion to be distributed, we could not “come forward” to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion from Father as the chapel was so tiny. We could only kneel, which we did, and Father held the sacred Host high and stated, “Ann, this is the Body of Christ.”  “Amen” I replied with all my faith, and then I received our Lord on my tongue with all the love I had in me.  To our astonishment, there was another Host under the first One. Father lifted this second host and placed it in my mouth and so in the Tomb of Christ I received a “double portion” of Holy Communion, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, of the risen Jesus Christ, our Lord!

“But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her.” (1 Samuel 1:5)

Now, the sacristan had been told, that there would be only two persons attending Holy Mass in the tiny Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher that morning at 7:30, the priest and me, thus, only two wafers of altar bread were required to be consecrated at Mass.  When the sacristan prepared all that was needed for the celebration of the Mass, he did not know that the Italian woman would join with us, and that there would be three persons in the Tomb.  Yet, the Lord had prepared everything according to His good pleasure and perfect Will, as  we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.( Romans: 8-28)

At the moment Father Avitus distributed Holy Communion, there was not just two hosts but rather three hosts! The Lord provided one for the Italian woman who loved Him so much and two for me for *to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her.”  *

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might, which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:18-23)

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 I am named Ann, which comes from the Hebrew name of Hannah, meaning “favor” or “grace.”  As I am writing this account I am suddenly recalling something quite mysterious that happened just last night. While I was lying in bed before falling asleep, for no apparent reason, I contemplated my own name! I do not know why I thought about my name Ann? I was pondering how it came from the Hebrew name of Hannah.  I said to myself last night while lying in bed, “I like the name Hannah. I would have liked to have been called Hannah.”  Then, just this morning, another mysterious thing happened. I went to my local church and attended the 8 am daily Mass, and the Old Testament scripture verses that were read were 1st Samuel 1:1-9 which include:  “But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her” (1 Samuel 1:5). I can only conclude that these two mysterious “coincidences” of last night and this morning and their perfect timing and relation to the writing of this account today are of the Holy Spirit and serve to confirm that this writing is of His inspiration and according to His perfect will.  Thank you Lord for all your gracious and abundant blessings!

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