I love Christmas and the entire season that surrounds it. Christmas is about faith and love, and goodness. It encapsulates sharing and giving and all of those things that fill the hearts of millions of people around the world with a renewed spirit that can shine through even the darkest moments we may have experienced during the preceding year. Yes, I love Christmas.
Christmas is so much more than a ‘certain day’ each year. It is an actual state of mind. It becomes part of whom many of us still are…Children at heart. And we become children again through our own children and even our grandchildren. We can love the anxiety and pressure and the cookies and candy and putting up the tree and neighborhood decorations the same as the little ones.
I anxiously looked forward to Santa’s arrival when I was a child. Then I grew up and became Santa. I dressed up in a Santa suit and crept into my own house at midnight on Christmas Eve. My still innocent children, awakened by jingling bells, were hiding in the hallway with their mom who was trying her best to hold their enthusiasm in check. I think I was more excited about the whole thing than they were. Yes, I love Christmas.
Most importantly, Christmas is about Salvation. The story is so beautiful and profound. A simple carpenter, obeying the law, must take his full-term, pregnant teenage wife, on an 80-mile journey to the town of his ancestry for the census. Riding on the back of a mule, she somehow manages to make the trip, and God only knows (and HE does) how this could be possible. Not knowing anyone, they cannot find a place to stay, and the baby is about to be born. Effectively homeless and in a strange town, they wind up in a stable, and mom gives birth to her child surrounded by smelly animals and old straw. Can you imagine?
This helpless infant is the Son of God, sent by His Father, and His birth among the lowest of the low shows us all the greatest act of humility ever enacted by anyone, before, then, or ever after. This baby will grow up, and they will torture and kill Him. Why? Because He preached forgiveness and kindness and that we should “love our neighbor” and “turn the other cheek.” Today, 2000 years later, over 2.6 billion people are following Him. I guess killing Jesus did not bring the desired results.
Today we still have those who want desperately to eradicate Jesus. From the maniacal Jihadists around the world who are doing their best to physically murder Christians wherever they can find them, to the atheists, agnostics, pagans, heathens, Satanists, and their ilk who HATE everything about Christianity and the beauty of the Christmas that delivered it. There is never a shortage of hatred floating around as Satan prowls about the world doing “his thing.”
To all of you who want to ruin this day, I ask, “Why? Don’t you realize that you are also removing the love and goodness that is associated with it?” ( I guess that is rhetorical because I know they do not care.) So, shame on you. You are the real “grinches” in the world. You are an embarrassment to all the tender hearts filled with kindness and generosity during this time of the year. You are ‘empty”, and it is sad because you do not have to be empty, you choose it. Jesus loves you too and wants desperately to hug you. You might swallow some useless pride and give Him a chance. You might like it…like it a lot.
I wish to say to all you “grinches” that I will say a prayer for all of you this Christmas. I will pray that you might catch a glimpse of that star that shines so bright. Maybe a droplet of its light will find a way into your heart. If you happen to catch a glimpse of this light please, do not turn away. You will have chosen to ignore a beautiful Christmas moment. This moment could be the greatest gift you ever receive. What do you have to lose?
So keep your eyes and hearts open because Someone is on His way and he may not be wearing a red suit. But He would still like a hug.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and may God bless us, ALL of us.
It was 6:00 A.M., and she was exhausted. She stood there, unblinking, looking into the mirror at the person staring back at her. Running her hands through her tousled, just-got-out-of-bed hair, she sighed deeply. She leaned forward, stared some more, and said to herself, “Oh my God, Sharon, you look just awful.”
She had to leave by 6:30, so she hurriedly washed her face, brushed her teeth, and tried to create some order with her hair. She had worked twenty-two days straight since Thanksgiving, and today would be the last day before the holiday. It was Christmas Eve, and there was still much to do, including getting a Christmas tree.
As Sharon, a meter reader and installer for the local utility company, pulled on her work shoes, a soft voice came from behind. It was her youngest, five-year-old Joey. She turned, and he said, “Mommy, Santa can’t come here tonight.”
She was somewhat stunned by the unexpected comment. “Joey, why would you think that. Of course, he can come here.”
“But we have no Christmas tree. Can’t you stay home from work and get us a tree?”
They had kept asking, and she had kept promising, and it was always “later” or “tomorrow,” and now, just like that, time was up. She turned and held out her arms to her boy. “Come over here, “ she said.
He ran over, and she hugged him. She looked into his nervous eyes and said, “Don’t worry Joey, I only have to work a little while today, and then I will get the tree. I will have it when I get home from work. Then we will all decorate it, and Santa will have a tree to put the toys under. Don’t worry.”
Oozing innocence, he simply looked at her and believed it would be so. “Okay, mommy.”
She stood up and said, “C’mon, sweetie. Let’s get you back in bed. I will tell April you are awake.”
“No need, mom. I’m up. C’mon with me, Joey. We can watch some TV.”
It was her twelve-year-old son, Alvin. She turned and smiled at him. “Thanks, hon. They promised us we would be home early. Say a prayer it actually happens.”
“Mom, what about a tree?”
“Alvin, I know, I know. I promised Joey, and I promise you, we will have a tree. Don’t worry. These last 20 days just seem to have run together, and—don’t worry, we will have a tree.”
It was about 6:50 when she pulled into the loading dock area to pick up her assignments and needed materials. The parking lot was already empty of the work trucks as all the crews had left for their assigned destinations. Sitting in her vehicle, she took out her Rosary and held it tightly. A “single” mom and devout Catholic, prayers had brought her through some, lonely, harsh and scary days after her husband had walked away from her and the children. She blessed herself and began to pray.
She was quietly asking the Blessed Virgin to allow Christmas Eve to go smoothly and for her to be able to get a tree when a tap on her window startled her. She turned to see her field supervisor, Herb Guerin, standing there. She rolled down the window, “Hi Herb, what do you have for me today?”
“Here you go, Sharon.” As he handed her the work orders he said, “I’m sorry, but I have to dump two more on you. They just came in but they are right next to each other, so it should go quick.”
“Please, Herb, I still have to get a Christmas tree. Can’t you get someone else? My five-year-old is thinking that Santa won’t come to our house. I have to get a tree.”
“Look, I understand. But this is about five minutes away from where you are going. A transformer blew up, and 1400 homes are without power. That could be more than 4000 people. It is Christmas Eve, and they need their power. The line crew is on-site but there are two new meters we need installed. You should be able to squeeze that in, don’t you think? Those people are counting on us to get their power on.”
“Okay, Herb, okay. What are the addresses?” He handed her the add-ons, and they wished each other Merry Christmas. She drove away, fingering her rosary beads. That proved more soothing for her than a cup of morning coffee.
Sharon had finished her regular assignments by noon and it should have been the end of her workday. But, as is the way of things, the transformer was not delivered until 2:00 .P.M and she could not install the new meters until after the transformer was replaced. It was 4:00 P.M.when she finally started for home.
Heading home, she kept looking for Christmas trees for sale. Even the seasonal tree lots that sold trees every year were empty. She had been confident that she would find a tree quickly. Now her confidence was being shattered. There were no trees anywhere. She thought a moment and then prayed, St. Anthony, please help me find a tree for my kids?”
Sharon did not plan to go home until she had found a tree. But she had not eaten, she felt sick to her stomach and needed to stop by the house which was only five minutes away. She thought she could just run inside, use the bathroom and simply “chill” for a few minutes. She looked at the clock; it read 5:35. A shiver ran down her spine.
She stepped from her van as Joey came running out of the house, “Hi Mommy, did you get our tree? Did you? Where is the tree? Where is the tree? You got the tree, right?”
Sharon took a deep breath and knew she should have found a tree before coming home. Looking upwards, she quickly and quietly prayed, “Dear God, I need Your help. Please.”
Just like that, April, who was 14, Alvin, 12, and Austin, eight, were standing in front of her. Joey was in front of them. All she could see were four sets of insecure and nervous eyes looking at her. A sudden blanket of fear seemed to come out of nowhere and grab hold of her. Oh my God, I do not know if I can do this. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I need your help. Tears came to her eyes.
April quickly went to her mom and gave her a hug. She said, “Mom, it’s okay. Don’t worry.”
Then Alvin was standing next to her, and Austin and then Joey was hugging her leg and she felt the love of her children and blurted out, “Okay, listen to me. I did not get the tree yet. I just needed to get a drink and use the bathroom. Then I will go get it. Alvin, can you come with me to help?
“Why should Alvin get to go?” Austin asked. “Why can’t we all go?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” said April, “All of us should go. It will be all of us finding our family Christmas Tree.”
Sharon looked at the four of them and was suddenly buoyed with a sense of “Christmas.” Everything was feeling right. She had been slowly buying and hiding things since July. Toys and other gifts were in the back of her work truck, and more were stashed in the shed in the back yard. (The kids never let on that they knew). “Okay,” she said. “Let’s get in the car and go find a tree.”
They piled into their fourteen-year-old 1988 Chevy Corsica, and Sharon headed toward Washington Ave. Her children had no idea how tired and worn out their mom was. Well, why would they; their Mom was not like other people; she was MOM. Being up since 6:00 A.M., not eating all day except for some stale chocolate chip cookies and two containers of coffee, was not something that could stop their Mom. That possibility was never considered. They did not grasp that it was she who was hungry, tired, and feeling a bit weak. She said, “I hope we can find a tree quickly. You kids must be starving.” Things were never about her.
They were all focused on a tree, not food. Alvin said, “ We can eat later, mom. Let’s check Walmart first; they have tons of trees.”
Sharon sighed and made a quick left onto Highway 19 N. They pulled into Walmart’s parking lot five minutes later. The store was just closing. They drove over to the nursery and found out there were no trees left. Al tried to run into the store to look for an artificial tree, but the doors were already locked.
Sharon said, “There is a Christmas tree lot over on Belcher Rd. They might have something.”
That lot was empty, and the search continued, from supermarket to supermarket, to home-improvement centers and to discount outlets, to nurseries, and even looking outside convenient stores. Sharon was now driving and not thinking. They had searched for a tree for over two hours, finding more than a dozen places that sold trees but now had none. It was now almost eight o’clock.
She was feeling a sense of despair. It was dark, and most stores had already closed. April suddenly blurted out, “Hey Mom, there is the Burger Barn. Can we get something to eat? I’m starving.”
They all chimed in, “yeah, mom—c’mon Mom—we’re starving, Mom!” Sharon knew that sitting in the car with the four kids eating cheeseburgers, fries, and holding drinks would be a disaster. “Okay, stop yelling; I can hear you. But there is no way we eat in the car. Lets park and go inside. We need a break anyway.”
As they walked toward the entrance, Austin said, “Mom, we just better face it. We ain’t gonna find a tree. It’s too late. They’re all gone.”
“Stop it, Austin, have some faith. As soon as we sit down, we will all say a Hail Mary together and ask our Mother Mary to help us find one. And you watch, she WILL help us find one.”
They walked inside, found an empty table, and sat down. Sharon’s faith had helped her through incredibly difficult times, and she was about to call on it again. She reached out her hands, and they all followed her lead holding each other’s hands. Bowing their heads, they prayed a Hail Mary together. When they finished, Sharon and Alvin headed to the counter to get their food.
The impromptu Burger Barn “dinner” went reasonably well. The order came out quickly, nothing was dropped or spilled, and, to top it off, everyone was quiet as they devoured their food. After spending a calm and pleasant fifteen minutes, it was time to find their tree.
As they stood up to leave, an old man, disheveled and dirty, approached them. Nervously, the man said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I think I can help you.”
Sharon had watched as he approached and haltingly said, ‘Huh…help me? What do you mean? We are fine. We do not need any help. Please, we have to go.” She turned to her nervous children and said, “Okay kids, it’s time to leave. Let’s go.”
“Ma’am, please, don’t be afraid. I watched you and your children praying and it was a beautiful thing. And— I heard your boy say you needed a tree. I can help you.”
“How can you help us? I suppose you know where a tree is?” Sharon asked.
“Yes, I do,” said the man. “But you have to trust me and follow me. I will take you to it.”
“Follow you? We don’t even know you. Why should we follow a complete stranger to an unknown place? I have my children with me. Look sir, I’m sure you are a very nice man, but I’m not following you anywhere.”
The man quietly said, “I’m sorry to have bothered you and your family. You all have a merry Christmas.”
They were all watching him as he walked toward the exit. As he disappeared from sight, one of the workers came by and smilingly said, “I hope that man didn’t frighten you. He is harmless. He’s just a kind old man who stops in here every so often for some coffee.”
Sharon, hearing this, quickly huddled her kids around and said quietly, “Look, we just prayed to the Blessed Virgin for help, and this old man comes out of nowhere and offers us a tree. It seems a bit crazy, but it is Christmas Eve. They know him here, so he must be harmless. We have to trust that Jesus and His Mom are helping us. As foolish as it sounds, I say we follow him. What do you kids think?”
“Why not, mom.,” April said. “Jesus will protect us.”
They all agreed, and Sharon said, “Okay, let’s see if we can find him.”
They hurried outside, and the old man was just standing there. As Sharon approached him, he smiled and said, “I thought I would wait to see if you changed your mind. I’m glad you did.”
Across the road from Burger Barn was a golf course. The man told Sharon, “There is a gravel service road at the end of the golf course parking lot. Drive down that road for about a half-mile, and you will find your tree. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”
The surrounding golf course was unlit and pitch black. The headlights from the car cast an eerie glow as they slowly drove forward. Sharon had them all praying together as they ventured into the unknown. The mother of four was driving using faith for fuel. She was afraid. So were her children. The only sound that could be heard was the gravel crunching beneath the tires.
And then, as they turned around the bend in the road, there it was. A Christmas tree, not just any Christmas tree but the most beautiful tree they had ever seen. It was fully decorated and all lit up. In fact, it was as if a light was shining down upon it. The entire area was lit up. As they got out of the car, an elderly woman stepped out from behind the bushes. Sharon and her kids just stared at her, not knowing where she came from, who she was, or how all this was happening. The woman asked, “Do you like the tree?”
Sharon said, “Who are you? What is going on? Are we all dreaming?”
“No, Sharon, you are not dreaming. Do you like the tree? What do you kids think? Do you like it?”
Austin said, “It is the most beautiful tree I ever, seen, ever.”
“Does everyone agree with Austin?”
They all agreed, and the woman said, “Well then, Sharon, you just take your family home. When you arrive, the tree will be waiting for you. And, Joey, don’t worry, Santa will be coming to your house tonight.”
Sharon asked, “What do you mean, just go home. What about the tree?”
“Don’t worry about the tree. It is yours. Trust me. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”
“I don’t understand. How will the tree….?”
The lady smiled and said, “Have faith, sweetie. It got you here, didn’t it?”
Sharon and her kids got into the car and began their ride home. As they passed the Burger Barn, they looked for the old man, but he was nowhere to be seen. Alvin said, “How did she know all of our names?” No one said anything.
While driving, Sharon had them all praying for homeless people, and, for the most part, all of them were trying to understand what had actually happened.
When they pulled up to their house, all they could see was the Christmas tree that had been at the golf course only a short time before. It was standing in their living room in front of the window. They got out of the car and just stood there, in shock, not understanding, but seeing what they thought impossible. When they went inside, the house smelled like fresh carnations mixed with a hint of pine. Underneath the tree was a creche with figures carved from ivory. It was beautiful.
It was almost midnight when all the kids were finally in bed. Sharon got the gifts from her truck and the shed out back and placed them around the tree. Then she sat down, took out her rosary and began crying and praying simultaneously.
Christmas morning came, and Sharon made sure everyone was up, dressed, and ready to go to 8 A.M., Mass. After Mass she told the kids that they were going back to the golf course to find the man and woman who helped them. She wanted to thank them and invite them for Christmas dinner. The kids readily agreed.
The course was crowded with golfers, many out to show off their new clothes and golfing equipment. The gravel road was blocked off, so they got out of their car and began to walk. When they reached the bend in the road they stopped. Nothing was there except a golfer looking for his shanked golf shot.
Sharon said to the man, “Excuse me, sir, did you see an elderly man and woman anywhere around here?”
“Sorry lady, the only thing I’m hoping to see is my missing golf ball.”
As they slowly walked back to the car a white dove flew down from a tree and landed facing them. The bird seemed to be looking up at them They all stopped and marveled at this snow-white bird.
The bird stayed looking at them for about ten seconds then slowly fluttered its wings, flew up and landed on Sharon’s shoulder. She remained still. Turning her head ever so slowly, she looked at the dove. The bird looked back at her and their eyes connected. The bird leaned in and rubbed its face against Sharon’s cheek. Then it flew away.
The holy people from the Old Testament are not usually called saints. We do not say, “St. Abraham”, or “St. Moses” as we do for St. Joseph or St John. But the church does allow for them to be called saints one day during the year. That day is their acknowledged feast day. There are forty-two different Old Testament saints that have designated feast days. The first one during the year belongs to St. Abel. His feast day is January 3.
The very first human to die was none other than Adam and Eve’s son, Abel. Ironically, since a natural cause of death had not yet occurred, the first recorded death in all of human history was the result of a murder. And the man who was murdered is also a saint. The evil that precipitated and was involved in the killing is referred to in the New Testament by Christ Himself.
Abel is considered part of the Six Ages by St. Augustine; First Age of the World (this is also covered in the CCC; 282-284). This age is considered the time from the beginning of the human race up until Noah. The Ages reflect the seven days of creation and the last day is the day of rest which we call the Sabbath.
We rarely talk of or ask for intercession from Saint Abel. But Abel is mentioned in the Roman Canon when, after the Consecration, we tell God how pleased we are with His accepting “the gifts of Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of the high priest, Melchizedek.”
The story of Cain and Abel is pretty straightforward. Cain was the first born of Adam and Eve. Abel was their second son and Cain’s true brother. Cain tilled the soil while Abel tended to the flocks. When Cain’s crops had been harvested, he brought some of them as an offering to the Lord. Abel brought the best of his flock to the Lord as an offering. Genesis Ch 4: 4-5 “—the Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not. Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.”
This is where pride comes into play. Adam and Eve succumbed to pride when Satan convinced them that they could be “like” God if they ate from the Tree in the Garden of Eden. Cain’s pride was hurt, and he became jealous of his brother. Genesis Ch 4: 8 Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
The offerings of Cain and Abel are an important part of the Bible narrative because they lead us to the New Testament and to the ongoing battle between Good and Evil. St. John gives us the real reason why God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abel’s. In 1 John 3:11-12 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the evil one and slaughtered his brother. Why did he slaughter him? Because his own works were evil and those of his brother righteous.
The importance of Abel in our Catholic/Christian world is shown in the Gospel of Matthew. In Chapter 23, Jesus was speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees and, for the most part, denouncing them as hypocrites. Then we come to Ch 23: 34-35 Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel—-”
This is none other than Jesus Christ, invoking the name of Abel as one who was righteous. The church Fathers include Abel among the martyrs and St. John Chrysostom associates Abel’s death comparable with St. John the Baptist’s. Abel is considered the first in a long line of martyrs who were killed not so much for the words they spoke, but for the example they set.
St. Abel’s feast day is January 3 and he is invoked in the prayers for the dying.
Peter Paschal, was born in Valencia on Spain’s east coast, in the year 1227. Peter’s parents were devout Mozarabs (Iberian Christians) who managed to live under Muslim rule. They did this by paying a yearly tax, known as a jizyah. This tax was even collected as a means of sparing the life of certain non-Muslims living in the community depending upon whether or not the ruling Imam decided a certain person deserved death. The Mozarabs and the Muslim Arabs co-existed and even spoke a similar language known as Mozarabic.
The founder of the Mercedarians, St. Peter Nolasco, was very good friends with Peter’s family and he and his Mercedarian companions would oftentimes stay at Peter’s home when they were on a mission to free Christian captives. This exposure to these pious men helped to instill in young Peter a deep sense of piety. Combined with the virtuous, charitable and caring influence of his parents, Peter Paschal, grew into a deeply devoted servant of God.
Ironically, the primary influence in Peter’s educational journey was a teacher that Peter’s parents had ransomed from the Muslim Moors years before. The young man traveled with him to Paris and, under his guidance, studied, preached and taught, developing a fine reputation as a learned and pious man.
Peter then returned to Valencia and Peter Nolasco became his spiritual advisor. After another year of preparation, he became a full member of The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, aka Mercedarians. It was time for him to begin redeeming captive Christians.
Peter Paschal had a brilliant mind and James I, the King of Aragon, appointed him as a preceptor (teacher) of his son, Sanchez. Sanchez was so influenced by Peter that he himself became a Mercedarian priest and, in 1262, was made the Archbishop of Toledo. Since Prince Sanchez was too young to be consecrated, his teacher, Peter Paschal, was appointed to govern the diocese and was consecrated as the Bishop of Granada, which was under the control of the Muslims.
As Bishop of Grenada, Peter Paschal, preached tirelessly about Christianity. He became known for his intense determination and zeal in redeeming captive, Christian slaves who had been imprisoned by the Moors. His preaching was so potent that many Muslims began to embrace the doctrines of Jesus Christ and convert to Christianity. The followers of Mahomet (commonly referred to as Mohammad) began to harbor an intense and growing anger toward Peter.
Besides preaching, Peter not only continually ransomed captive Christians from the Moors, he also comforted those imprisoned and preached the gospel to the infidels. His ability to reconcile apostates and others and bring them to the church was the reason he was finally arrested and placed in a dark dungeon. Orders were given that no one was allowed to speak to Peter Paschal.
Peter was held in prison and constantly treated cruelly and with disdain. But, strange as it may seem, he was given permission to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every day. And this is where the wonderful legend of St. Peter Paschal springs to life.
One morning, while preparing for Mass, Peter realized he had no altar server. He usually was able to have one of the prisoners he had converted serve for him. But this day he could find no one to serve. Suddenly, a little boy about the age of five appeared before the priest. The boy was dressed in the clothes of a slave and asked Peter what he was looking for. Peter told him he needed an altar server.
The boy told Bishop Peter he would gladly serve Mass for him if he would let him. Peter asked him who he was and the boy said, “I will tell you who I am when you have finished Mass.”
After Mass was finished, Peter asked the boy a few questions and was amazed at the wisdom coming forth from the child. Then he asked the boy, “Tell me, who is Jesus Christ?”
The boy answered: “I am Jesus Christ; it is I Who was crucified for your salvation and for that of the whole world; look at My hands, and My feet, and My side, and you will recognize the wounds I received during My passion. Because you have of your own choice remained a prisoner in order to procure freedom for my captive children, and because, to obtain their freedom, you spent money sent to procure your own, you have made Me your prisoner.”
As mysteriously as He had appeared, the little boy disappeared. Peter Paschal was filled with an indescribable joy he could never have imagined. Jesus, as a little boy, had been the Bishop’s altar server.
The Muslims sensed and actually revered the sanctity of their prisoner. They told him if he would never say anything against Mohammad they would give him his freedom. He said he could never make such a promise. Shortly thereafter, as Bishop Peter Paschal was saying his Thanksgiving after Mass, a Muslim executioner came up from behind him and cut off his head. The date was January 6, 1300.
Bishop Peter Paschal was beatified and canonized by Pope Clement X on August 14, 1670.
Caitlyn Summer had always followed the straight and narrow path. Her perfect husband would love Jesus more than her and love her because of her love for Jesus. He would be faithful and gentle and have a heart for others. So how did she end up marrying the bad boy who got her high school best friend pregnant then pressured her to abort?
Unable to remember the past three years or understand why she would’ve moved so far from home, Caitlyn can’t believe she willingly married such an overprotective, bossy, and jealous man. In this emotionally-charged, new adult mystery romance, ANYONE BUT HIM, Caitlyn struggles to solve the mysteries of her amnesia and her marriage. Suspicious circumstances surrounding her husband tempt her to leave and start life over, but they also challenge her Christian faith and convictions.
The arrival of her first love, her husband’s younger brother, intent on helping her regain her memory, offers a glimmer of hope. Together they uncover secrets involving her coworkers and the local abortion clinic, but nothing to explain why she married this man. Who changed – him or her?
The book is available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle:
Theresa Linden is the author of award-winning Catholic teen fiction. Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. She has six published novels, and two short stories in Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body (Full Quiver Publishing). She holds a Catechetical Diploma from Catholic Distance University and is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Society. A wife, homeschooling mom, and Secular Franciscan, she resides in northeast Ohio with her husband and three teenage boys.
“The author has a lot of elements going on in this story – mystery, romance, amnesia, and a pro-life message. How she intertwines and weaves all these pieces together is perfection.” ~Leslea Wahl, author of award-winning The Perfect Blindside
“Anyone But Him had me hooked from the start! Theresa Linden unravels the mystery layer by layer as Caitlyn questions whom to trust, who has changed, and how an unfinished investigation may be the key to it all. Told through Caitlyn’s eyes, Anyone But Him will keep you doubting, guessing – and maybe even falling in love – alongside her.” ~Carolyn Astfalk, author of inspirational romance Stay With Me
Alexandrina Maria da Costa was born in Balazar, Portugal, in 1904. Her father abandoned his family when she was very young leaving his wife, and two daughters, Deolinda and Alexandrina, destitute. Consequently, Alexandrina, who had only attended school for a mere eighteen months, was forced to go to work. The young girl had unusual strength and was able to work long hours doing heavy farm work. She was all of nine-years-old when she began working in the fields.
Alexandrina came down with a severe infection when she was 12. She nearly died but did survive. The effects of the illness had left their mark, and the young girl suffered greatly every day. Even though in constant pain she continued working in the fields. When she became a teenager, she began to work as a seamstress alongside her sister.
Things changed quickly for Alexandrina. It was Holy Saturday in 1918, and Satan was doing his best to destroy Holy Week for as many people as he could. Alexandrina, Deolinda, and an apprentice seamstress were working together when three men broke into the house. They were determined to sexually violate the three young women. Alexandrina, staring into the faces of evil, refused to be accosted. To preserve her purity, she managed to jump from a window. The distance down was almost 14 feet.
Alexandrina’s injuries were severe. She was paralyzed, and doctors described her condition as irreversible. They also said she would continue to deteriorate. However, Alexandrina, filled with faith, still managed to drag herself to church. Although hunched over from her injuries, she would remain in prayer for hours. Her condition continued to worsen, and she ultimately became immobile. By the age of 21, she was permanently bedridden and paralyzed.
Alexandrina had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and prayed over and over for a miraculous cure. She promised to give away all her possessions, to cut off her hair, and wear black the rest of her life if she would get cured. However, that was not to be, but God did answer her prayers, albeit in another way.
Slowly but surely Alexandrina began to understand that her suffering was an actual vocation and that she had been called to be a “victim” for Jesus. She said, “Our Lady has given me an even greater grace: first, abandonment; then, complete conformity to God’s will; finally, the thirst for suffering.”
God poured down His graces on Alexandrina, and the young, paralyzed woman began to long for a life of union with Jesus. She now understood that to do this she would have to bear her debilitating condition for love of Him. This was the point where Alexandrina offered herself to God as a “victim soul.”
Starting on October 3, 1938, and continuing through March 24, 1942, every Friday Alexandrina would literally “live” the three-hour passion of Jesus. Her paralysis would seem to leave her, and she would relive the Stations of the Cross experiencing overwhelming physical and spiritual pain.
The following is from Pope St. John Paul II’s homily at her beatification: “On 27 March 1942, a new phase began for Alexandrina which would continue for 13 years and seven months until her death. She received no nourishment of any kind except the Holy Eucharist, at one point weighing as few as 33 kilos (approximately 73 pounds).——-Jesus himself spoke to her one day: “You will very rarely receive consolation… I want that while your heart is filled with suffering, on your lips there is a smile.” From that point on Alexandrina, no matter the intensity of her pain always had a ready smile for anyone who came to see her.
In 1944, Alexandrina became a member of Don Bosco’s Association of Salesian Cooperators. She joined so she could offer her sufferings for the sanctification of youth. Alexandrina died on October 13, 1955. She was 51 years old.
On April 25, 2004, she was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II who stated that “her secret to holiness was love for Christ.”
Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa, please pray for us.