I am off to Spain today with my family to hike the first 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago. We start walking this Tuesday, June 25th, (by total Divine Providence) on the Feast of St. James (Santiago). I am so looking forward to this life-changing trip and feel blessed to share this opportunity with all four of my children, my future son-in-law and future daughter-in-law, and our family priest that will be marrying both couples next year. I know it will be a huge challenge for every one of us and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.
We all have bright yellow Benedictine Blessing Bracelets on (the same color as the arrows we will be following that guide our way on this pilgrimage) to bond us in prayer and keep us connected to the memories we will make on this trip long after we are home!
Who is Saint James?
Can you just imagine these saints working up in heaven around a table and St. Joseph sitting at the head of that table leading them in the mission for his Son? I didn’t know much about St. James and really never gave him much consideration before preparing for this pilgrimage. I want to share a few of the beautiful things I have re-discovered about him. St. James was the brother of John (the Evangelist). He was one of only three apostles, along with John and Peter, that Jesus brought with him to witness Moses and Elijah appearing with Him on Mt. Tabor. And again, was one of the same three apostles that Jesus brought inside the gates with him at Gethsemane to pray with him the night He was betrayed. Can you imagine being considered “one of three” of Jesus’ closest confidants?
Friends in Heaven
Why do we not think about or hear about St. James as much as we do St. Peter or St. John? Well, millions of people must have the same question and desire to find the answer as this Pilgrimage across Spain has increased in popularity, both in the faith-filled and the secular world. That’s the thing I love the most about the saints — you don’t have to believe in them, ask them for help, or even know they exist for them to be working in your life. They are impartial witnesses to the work of God. However, the more you open your heart to the idea that they have a role in your life here on earth, the more you just might recognize them working for you in so many ways, big and small. I look forward to what this great saint has in store for me and my entire family.
A Life Changing Moment
People say that once you have walked the Camino, you will refer to your life as “before the Camino” and “after the Camino”. I have experienced this before in my life…. “before I believed, and after”, “before my first trip to Medjugorje, and after”, “before I heard the voice of God, and after”. These are all powerful life-changing moments and I look forward to this new discovery. I may be a little apprehensive about what change it may bring, but my sincere prayer is to discover God’s will for my life. St. James wrote, “…draw close to God and He will draw close to you.” (James 4:8) I plan to walk one hundred miles to show Him I want to get closer to Him. I wonder how He plans to show me?”
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Benedict. This day is special to us here at My Saint My Hero because the Benedictine cross medal is at the heart of each of our Blessing Bracelets.
Have you ever wondered why this particular medal? You can find the answer on the prayer card that accompanies each of our bracelets.
Each one of us has the chance to make our world a better place every single day. We do so by choosing to do what is right and good, choosing to avoid what is wrong. God has given us an internal sensor that helps us seek good and avoid evil; it’s called our conscience. He has also given us the Holy Spirit to keep our conscience strong and clear, but we still find it hard to say no to temptation and sin. This bracelet is an extra help in your battle to make the world a better place and follow the path to heaven. It’s like a secret weapon.
In Christian tradition, the Benedictine cross is one of the Church’s most powerful signs of divine protection. It was created in the mid 600’s as a symbol of the spiritual truths that enabled St. Benedict and his many followers to resist evil and do good. “The Holy Cross be my Light,” is written in Latin on the front of the cross, which is used all over the world to help spread Christ’s Kingdom of love and light. Wear this ancient symbol to help protect your soul, your loved ones and your home from anything contrary to God’s love. -Fr. John Bartunek, LC ThD
Called to Be Saints, Called to Do Good
We invite you, as we do, to wear this bracelet to remind yourself that God has given you a mission to make the world a better place, and that you can choose to fulfill that mission by using your hands to do good.
Humble Saint of God, teach us and guide us to wear the armor of God’s grace to resist evil and do good. May “The Holy Cross be my Light” be always on my lips and guide me through this day; so that in everything I say, think or do, I may help spread Christ’s Kingdom of love and light. St. Benedict, pray for us! Amen.
Gratitude is like a rare beautiful flower that can flourish in a lush garden of plenty as well as in the parched desert of suffering. It is as resilient as it is radiant. Just as a single flame can banish darkness, a single act of gratitude can light up our souls and the hearts of those around us. And just as a field of wildflowers, there can never be too much of it. It is so good for our souls. It keeps us humble, joyful, and fills us with hope.
Gratitude is something we treasure and consciously work to achieve everyday here at My Saint My Hero. We have experienced the power of this simple virtue and want to share its light with everyone. What are you grateful for today? Who are you grateful for? An educator who has patiently bestowed you with the gift of knowledge? A soulmate who has freely gifted you his or her entire heart? A family member who you love but to whom sometimes you are remiss in expressing that love? Or perhaps that team member who always has a smile and a word of encouragement despite what he or she may be going through?
Feeling gratitude is only the first step, just as watering a seed. Acting on it is the second step. Just as a flower needs both water and sunlight to blossom, so does gratitude. How do you express your gratitude? A hug? A thank you note? Spending quality time with that person? With a gift?
Our Gratitude Bracelet is a simple but exquisite way to say thank you. Not only is it a beautiful gift but one that comes with the promise of prayers (the greatest gift) and it is a physical reminder they can wear every day.
Let us never tire of thanking those around us. Gratitude begets gratitude and joy and this world can use a little more of that, don’t you agree?
Through the oceans and tides of emotions, and moments in our lives that sometimes seems to turns us upside down and then right back on our feet again… through it all, the steadfast tool that grounds us and helps to return to a place of love is the virtue of gratitude. It helps us to take a moment to think outside of ourselves and pour love into and unto another. The moment we look beyond our limited perspective and jump into the river of forgiveness our hearts open to see the flip side. On the flip side of disunity is unifying love which we very often can only reach by walking through the open door of gratitude. The bridge of separation is forgiveness and what moves us to reach across and connect is the virtue of gratitude. Today I am grateful for you because you matter to me. I see you and thank you for seeing me. Today I ask for forgiveness…I love you. – Amy D’Ambra
When God became man, He came to us within a family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph: three human hearts touched in a special way and woven together by the grace of the Everlasting Heart of God. God has made us out of love to be in communion with one another. We are created in His Image. With the help and the example of the Holy Family, God’s own human family, we can fulfill our deepest identity. We can answer the call to LOVE AS THEY LOVED. Father John Bartunek, LC ThD
Over the next few weeks I want to invite you to join me to reflect upon a little more closely, the three individual hearts of the Holy Family. This exquisite cuff (now back in stock) brings them together to showcase a beautifully inspired icon that you can wear to inspire and be inspired.
Three hearts woven together by the grace of everlasting love: The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Pure Heart of Joseph represent the eternal love of family. Wear this bracelet as a reminder that your heart is woven together with your family and through this divine union you are called to echo the eternal love of God.
The Gift of Family
Jesus himself chose to be born within a family, with a mother and a father. That’s how much God values the family unit. When I think of this reality it challenges me to question: how often do I really thank God for the gift of my family? Do I treasure them regardless of how imperfect they may be at the moment? The family we are born into, and the family we help co-create are purely God-chosen gifts to us. How do we show our gratitude for this unique and singular gift in our every day? Do we make room for quality, conscious time with our family members during our day? Do we pray for them? Do we love God who lives in their hearts?
I invite you to take a few minutes today to pray for each member of your family and to hug your loved ones a little longer, a little tighter, and a little more purposefully today. Thank you Lord for the gift of my beautiful family!
This is where my annual retreat into family, love and quiet happens. There on that small island is where family matters most, conversations linger and a warm embrace is truly felt. It is a place where my feet feel steady and I’m not jumping from one activity to the next. Coffee is served in a beautiful china cup and one is meant to stay at the coffee bar and enjoy it among one another rather than speeding off to consume it in the car or at the desk… a change, a shift, a remembrance … June is my month of renewal!
I sincerely pray that today be a day that you are touched by God’s peace and as you take a deep breath may you be renewed in His presence. I invite you to join me on a mini morning retreat… each night as you go to sleep ask God to impart to your heart the experience the gift of gratitude the moment you awake in the morning. When you wake and feel the sense of joy… take a moment to give thanks… to feel grateful for whatever it is this morning that you love or loves you. Let’s meet again in a few weeks and share the Gratitude Experiment!
While in Ischia and now back home in California, I’ve been wearing two Gratitude bracelets every day as tangible reminders to join you each morning in prayer and create this beautiful space of gratitude! I am grateful for you!!!!
PS. I love our newest Gratitude Bracelets as they give us the space to BE grateful.
Last Thursday our My Saint My Hero family gathered together for a beautiful evening Mass on the beach in Rancho Palos Verdes. The majestic views of the cliffs, the crashing waves, and Catalina Island in the horizon was inspiring and reminded us of how great our God is-how magnificent His creation!
Bishop Brennan, who presided over the Mass, invited us to re-awaken the call each of us have felt in our hearts. He urged us to reignite the flame of apostolic zeal for the mission that we are each integrally part of at My Saint My Hero. We are called to be the saints and heroes of today’s world and to spread the call to holiness one blessing at a time. Just as each member of a family is unique and indispensable to that family, so each of us have a special and unique calling within this family of My Saint My Hero.
Come Follow Me
At the moment of consecration, I deeply felt Jesus truly present there among our midst. And just like at the shore of Galilee, here at this shore, I felt Him inviting me “come, follow Me”. The call of Christ is not a singular momentary event, but an ongoing invitation of mercy as with every breath we take. That invitation to follow Him is personal and specific and unique for each of us. When was the last time you heard Him calling you? If you take a moment now to abandon your nets of insecurity and let Him into your heart, what would He say to you? How is He calling YOU to follow Him, right here, right now?
A Perfect Evening
After being nourished by the Bread of Life, we gathered together again to break bread and enjoy a scrumptious taco dinner. We pray, we encourage, we laugh and work, and come together as a family at My Saint My Hero. It is beautiful to share these memories with the people God has brought together to form this team, this family to fulfill a very important mission so close to His Heart!
It is so easy to say this to someone else, but it’s very tough for me to look at myself and truly believe “I am enough”. In my role as a mother of four, it is especially hard to feel like I can ever be the perfect mother that I have dreamed up that my children need. But then I look to my own mother who has eight children! I look to her as the perfect example of the mother that Mary must have been for Jesus. She is patient, understanding, forgiving, self–giving, never disappointed in me (even through all of my mistakes and faults), truly humble, and has incredible love for her children. She has proven this by sticking by each and every one of us, no matter what our situation.
My mother is 95 years old and sits in a recliner all day long. But I can honestly say, she is enough. Her life means something. She is valued by her eight children, 21 grandchildren, and 19 great grandchildren. The world may not see her value but those closest to her do. They approach her with dignity, respect, great honor and love…just as I imagine Jesus must have approached His mother.
As I sit and write this I look down at my Queen of the Universe Swarovski Crystal necklace. It is one of my favorite My Saint My Hero pieces because of its sheer beauty. It is a piece that honors all mothers and when I wear it I am able to sit in the knowing that… I am enough.
My daughter Caroline decided to attend university in Leeds, UK. When she shared this news with me, I ran to the Catholic Church in Leeds, got down on my knees, and prayed for my baby girl and for my heart. Did I do enough as her mother? Is she ready for college? How can I help her if something happens and she is in the UK? All these worries flooded my soul… Still on my knees I opened my eyes and looked up, and there right in front of me was a statue of Our Blessed Mother with her arms stretched towards me… she spoke to my heart… nurturing, loving, all present, and strong! I heard her say… “I’ve got her”… I AM her Mother and I will protect her, guide her and hold her close! Our Blessed Mother saw my heart, saw my worry and washed it clean with her grace and omnipotent love! She is everywhere -all the time- and she is the ultimate mother! I am safe to let my baby girl go because Mama Mary’s got her! I realize that I am simply her momentary mother during this short lifetime with my limited capacity, although my love for my children knows no limits. Our Blessed Mother carries our children when we cannot. I am grateful and I remain in awe of the supernatural peace this truth brings me. Thank you, Mama Mary!
My Peace…My Pieces
There are a few Blessing Bracelets that I never take off!
Why? Because I feel connected and grounded as I wear them. I feel the love that calms me and comfort in times of building anxiety. Each piece has a story, and each one reminds me of a love or a prayer that connects me to my friends and family. I wear a purple silver Blessing Bracelet in memory of my dear friend’s son and also for my 16 year old friend Katherine who is seeking a cure for her ALS. I wear a black silver Blessing Bracelet in unity with my husband in prayer for our marriage and for all marriages. I wear a tan Scapular Bracelet as a tangible reminder of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Medjugorje. I wear a Blessings in Faith in the spirit of community with our entire My Saint My Hero sisterhood and brotherhood of faith. I wear a taupe Breathe Bracelet as a prayer partner with Caroline. Goodness, I know this sounds like a lot… however I also wear a Chain Breathe Bracelet to pray for all our pieces made in China and lastly I am wearing our new PEACELinks in prayer for an end to human trafficking. That is my Litany of Prayer that I wear on my arm!
In this Lenten season, may we join our hearts in prayer as we walk to the cross together… may we be granted a “Servant’s Heart!”
We are reminded of the words of Visionary Mirijana during our most recent pilgrimage in Medjugorje, “When I get down on my knees to pray I don’t ask for help in this or that… I simply pray that Jesus will make my heart like His so I may love like He loves… if I love like Him all else will be well.”
Let’s embrace the holy season of Lent and be encouraged by these words of Pope Francis:
“During Lent, Let us all ask the Lord: Fac Cor Nostrum secondum cor tuum – Make our hearts like yours. In this way we will receive a heart that is firm and merciful, attentive and generous… a heart that is not closed, indifferent, or prey to the globalization of indifference.”
May we embrace this prayer in all we do. One way to do this is to ask that all our conversations be graced by this love and be edifying. “When we speak gracious words it is like honey for the body and food for the soul.” Proverbs 16:24
May your Lenten journey be a time of many graces and the joy of being made new, in Jesus Christ.
Blessings, Amy and Christine