As I look into my suitcase to unpack some more “essentials” for “your” journey, I find yet another Christmas tree memory that I would like to share with you. A “miraculous find” was found within the branches and boughs of this tree. It clearly was an answer from Heaven that prayer petitions most definitely had been heard and attended to.
The scene takes place in my home and still remains very fresh in my mind. For many years, I would host a “day of prayer” for friends on December 8th. It was in honor of the Blessed Mother’s Feast Day of her Immaculate Conception. We would all come together for a “holy hour” gathering round the fireplace in my living room offering special prayers to Our Lady and her Son beginning with the Rosary.
We began promptly at noon and left the ending of that hour to the “timing” of the Holy Spirit. We would wait for the cue that it was time to proceed into the dining room for our lunch and our “happy hour.” This “happy hour” went on indefinitely as we shared a meal together and most importantly. . . our faith. As the afternoon wore on and the sun was about to set, my husband would come home to find lingerers spread throughout our home still “on fire with the Holy Spirit”and engaged in lively and joyful conversations. We never wanted the day to end for we were being “fed” in more ways than one.
One year, two friends who had said their good-byes with coats on. . . changed their minds. . .walked back into the living room and found the seats that they just had vacated! We simply did not want the day to come to a close.
Every year was different in who might be praying with us. Usually it was the core group of women that had come together at a church named St. Brigid’s in the early 90’s. Most of us attended the Charismatic prayer group held there every Tuesday night and we felt a deep bonding and “birthing” of our souls in holy and loving friendships.
The invitation was just not extended to the prayer group friends but to whoever the Holy Spirit or Blessed Mother seemed to inspire us to invite. Sometimes friends brought other friends or someone was included that one of us just met prior to December 8th. It would always be a surprise who was seated around the fireplace for prayer. Whoever was there was meant to be there!
Here we were, as in prior years, all gathered round the fireplace. We were honoring our Blessed Mother and asking her help and that of her Son’s for what we most needed in our lives. We had many prayer intentions for our own personal families, but also for those who were sick and who had specifically asked for our prayers. It was our practice to have everyone write down their personal petition, drop it into a brass bowl and then pass it on to the next person. These petitions would then be burned in the fireplace as we envisioned them “floating” up to Heaven through the chimney like incense!
As we began to pray that day, an inspiration flooded into my mind of a nest and I thought immediately of the pelican, and its symbolism to Jesus. The pelican is always depicted piercing its own breast to feed its young with its blood. That image became a symbol of Jesus sacrificing Himself on the Cross for us with His own Precious Blood. In many churches, you will find that very image carved right into the marble of the altar but also etched into the tabernacle as well.
I shared with the other women the inspiration that I had received and invited them to “mentally” place each family member, each person that they wanted to pray for into the “nest” of Jesus and ask for His help as well as His mother’s, “feeding” those we were praying for. I believe it was a comforting image for us to reflect on and pray with at that moment. With great confidence we burned the petitions in the fireplace knowing that they would be received into the realm of Heaven. We left the living room filled with peace, joy and love and then proceeded to begin our shared meal of animated conversation and laughter together.
Days later, a miraculous surprise is found within the boughs and branches of a Christmas Tree confirming our heartfelt prayer intentions that were offered on the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception. Part 2 will offer the conclusion to a “Christmas Tree” bearing a gift from Heaven within those boughs and branches.
“Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.”
Wishing Everyone a Very Happy and Healthy 2018
Filled with Faith, Hope and Love
Image by Anita Guariglia
Scripture verse taken from The Jerusalem Bible