Thursday, September 11, 2014

Joan's Mass

About 3 weeks ago, my Mom passed away.  The funeral Mass was beautiful!  She loved singing the Alleluia.  The Alleluia had to be sung with feeling, joy, and had to be fast.  One of her favorite songs was "Alleluia, Alleluia, Let the Holy Anthem Rise." It was played beautifully by the organist and sung with joy by the cantor and congregation.  What a testament to her life! 

Many people have asked for the readings and sermon as well as a poem Gerry (my Mom's brother) wrote.  So, here you go:

1st Reading:

A Reading from the Book of Proverbs
(Proverbs 31:10-17, 25-31)

When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil, and all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.
She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
Her children rise up to praise her; her husband, too, extols her;
"Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.

2nd Reading:

A Reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans
Romans 12:5-16

So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them; if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.


A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John
John 14: 1-6

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.  In my Father's house there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?"  Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."


On this sunny summer morn we gather to bid yours and our beloved Joan a warm Christian farewell.  As we shared earlier on ... Joan may have uttered her final Amen on earth with a tear in her eye ... who would doubt that she shouted her first Alleluia in Heaven.  She would be the first to bid us do the same at her Mass of Christian Burial.

In life and in death we are all defined by our relationships.  Joan Niebauer Sutula was a daughter and sister; wife and mother and grandmother; prayer partner and bridge partner; good friend and confidant to anyone and everyone.  Accomplished seamstress - the sacred linens at this Mass are her own handiwork.  How she will be fondly remembered and sorely missed by all gather before me this morning.

How many people do you know who are as relentlessly cheerful as was Joan? She always wore her smile on her face and her heart on her sleeve.  no matter how she felt in the morning ... Joan was going to have a good day and she prayed the same for you and for me.  She was a nurse by profession and a caregiver by vocation.  The perennial people person - she knew no strangers - not even in the line at Giant Eagle.  Joan knew you and everything about you.  She was a good talker but ah an ever better listener.  Someone once said - you can listen a person's soul into existence.  It was her vocation ... along with marriage and family! You were number one!

You and your soul mate did the old fashioned way!  In a throw away world - Bob - you and Joan made your vows and lived your vows.  I always thought of you and your marriage as serenity - but then you often said in the sacristy - you had to check with the boss!  The Catholic marriage ritual of fifty ears ago included this telling admonition: "Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome ... But love can make it easy ... and perfect love can make it a joy."  You went for joy and have taught those who surround and support you today to the very same each and every day!  Not even death can break the bonds you and Joan forged in life.  Love is eternal and marriage is celebrated in Heaven.

Bob Jr. - I truly believe you were truly correct ... your Mother KNEW you were there ... when she shed a single tear ... and a final breath ... A final Amen on earth and a first Alleluia in Heaven ...

What was it like ... Joan meeting Jesus face to face for the first time?
C.S. Lewis put it like this ...
"When we die and finally see God we will not say: Lord, I could never have guessed how beautiful you are!  We will not say that.  Rather we will say: So, God, it was you all along!"

"Everyone I ever loved, it was you.  Everyone who ever loved me, it was you. Everything decent or fine that ever happened to me.  Everything that made me reach out and try to be better - it was you God ... it was you all along!"

Gerry's Poem for Joan

"She loved the Lord and all other too,
     For that's what Jesus wanted her to do
Though she never had much wealth
     She served as a nurse helping others to health
She shared Christ's love with one and all
     For that, you see, was her call
She loved to cook so others could eat
     Her love for people couldn't be beat

Jesus came first, then her family too
     Then she reached out to me and to you
Ready to listen and also to pray
     She prayed for her friends every day
In sickness and troubles, she prayed us through
     She had lots of love for me and for you
She made friends of all she met
     And her love was always the best you could get

She raised her children to love her Lord
     And to listen to His Holy Word
To live their lives following His way
     And reach out to others every day
For love not shared isn't love at all
     And to love Jesus is to answer his call
To reach out to others each and everyday
     And, for them, to pray, pray, pray

Joan has gone home to Jesus, you see
     From her troubles, He has set her free
But her love still goes on from here
     To be spread by us for all to hear

She loved the Lord more than anything
     And found the peach only He can bring
She found Him each day in prayer
     And she trusted in His gentle care
Now she is with Jesus in Heaven, above
     She is with Him basking in His love
She will greet us when we get there one day
     But only if we follow Jesus along the way

For Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life
     He is the only way out of this world's strife
Joan reached out to one and to all
     Always following Jesus' call

She wanted each of us to know Him too
     For that was what Jesus wanted her to do
If you don't know the Lord, Jesus, today
     Open your hearts to Him and follow His way

He will fill you with peace and with love
     And He will lead you home to Heaven above
There is no other way to get eternal life
     Than to let Jesus lift you from this world's strife

Joan prayed that we all would know Jesus, too
     I have met Him, have you
Open your heart to His love, today
     Let His love always guide your way
Joan is gone, but her love is still here
     She loved one and all without fear
She is with Jesus and you can also
     If you turn to Him before you go."


~ Gerard L. Niebauer

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I am feeling like I am in 'limbo'.  No, not the "Limbo Rock" ... "how low can you go" made famous by Chubby Checkers (although teenage and college years I did very well; not so much any more). 

Limbo - like Purgatory on Earth.  The in between places or phases of our life.  It's the area where we end one chapter of our life and are on the blank space or page before the next chapter begins.  I think this is where God is helping me grow and mature in both faith and being, preparing me for my next phase of life; giving me the 'faith upgrade'.  The only problem: I am missing the 'Important Global Consumer Support Information' booklet.

I guess this is why I call this phase 'Limbo'.  It is where God is asking me to rely on His Divine Providence, pray His Holy Word, listen for His voice, and rely less on the sensual and worldly views.  But this is where it gets difficult.  I feel like I have the good angel (in white, of course) on one shoulder telling me to pray and trust in God and the bad angel (in red, no less) on the other shoulder telling me to rely on myself and make the move.  My choice and path depends on which voice I listen and heed.  Do I listen to the voice of Truth (the Angel in white) or do I listen to the voice of lies (angel in red)?  

The song 'The Voice of Truth' by Casting Crowns sums it up well:
Oh what I would do to have                                                                                              The kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I'm in                                                   Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone                                                                                     To the realm of the unknown where Jesus is                                                           And He's holding out his hand
But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me                             Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed                                    The waves they keep on telling me                                                                         Time and time again. 'Boy, you'll never win!' "You'll never win"
But the voice of Truth tells me a different story                                                           And the voice of Truth says "Do not be afraid!"                                                            And the voice of Truth says "This is for My glory"                                                           Out of all the voices calling out to me                                                                             I will choose to listen and believe the voice of Truth

God is preparing me for my next chapter in life; my faith upgrade.  Do I trust Him or do I put my faith in myself?God's plan is perfect; my plan is based on false assumptions.  I need to step outside my comfort zone and into God's arms, praying and listening to His Word, and the voice of Truth.  Only then, will I be prepared to take the next steps in life for Him.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Random Thoughts on the Mass

As I was perusing through my blog posts, I was awestruck (again) by the Trinitarian mural (posted at the bottom of my blog). This is a representation of what occurs at every Mass.

Can you imagine the immense change in us if we approached Mass the same way?  I am so guilty of attending Mass (and Adoration) with distractions: rehashing the prior day's or weeks' events; reviewing the agenda for the day or week to come; mulling over a conversation with a loved one or friend; focusing my attention on a child or family sitting in front of me; or being distracted by people talking behind me during Mass (*shudder* - one of my pet peeves).  I allow these distractions to infiltrate my mind, which in turn, diverts my attention from the most awesome transpiration being manifested directly in front of me - God's Love!

There is a story about a husband and father coming home after work.  As he walks down the sidewalk toward his front door, he stops in front of a small tree. He gestures taking something off around his neck, like a person would be taking off a necklace, and he places it on the tree, then continues up the sidewalk and into the house.  The next morning, as he leaves the house for work, he again stops by the tree.  Instead putting something onto the tree like he had done the prior evening, he takes something off the tree and places it back around his neck, then proceeds to go to work.  One day, a friend of his came home with him.  He again stopped in front of the tree on his way into the house, gestured pulling something off of him and placing it on the tree, then proceeding to enter the house.  Once inside, his friend asked him why he stopped by the tree and what he 'placed' on the tree.  The man stated that when he comes home, he leaves all of his worries, frustrations, and obligations from work on the tree.  He can not bring those things with him into the house and into his family.  As he leaves for work the next morning, he shoulders those work responsibilities he left on the tree and returns to work.

My task, as I see it, is the same as the husband/father as I enter the Church.  My duties, agendas, and responsibilities in my life need to be shelved before I enter for Mass.  It's not that God does not care about these things. It is more about how my love for God needs to be in the forefront of my mind, as the Altar is at the front of the Church.  I can only imagine how this would change my perspective of Mass.  Rather than being distracted, could I actually see and comprehend and believe that everything and everyone is connected at Mass?  Would I be able to envision my loved ones who have died joining with the Priest, Christ, and His Sacrifice?  Would I be able to fully understand that the Angels and Saints are joining us, packing the Church from floor to ceiling?  Would I be able to relax and just 'be' in front of God for an hour and praise Him?

Friday, I had to travel to Parma after work to visit a coworker whose father had died recently. While at the funeral home, he introduced me to his family.  His father's last moments were doing things he loved.  His father played cards with a group in the morning, ate lunch, then played another game of cards after lunch. He had a few moments, so sat down in a common area by the fire.  When he did not show up for dinner, the staff and friends searched for him, finding him sitting in a chair by the fireplace.  He had quietly passed away.

What do I want my last moments to be?  As Jesus had stated, we do not know the day nor the hour. Therefore, every moment must be focused on Him. If I bring my baggage, frustrations, and needs into Mass, what would my last moments be focused upon?  Do I really want to look back and know that work and inconsequential 'things' were more important than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?  This gives me a whole new perspective as I enter the Church.  This Sunday, these will be placed on a bush or tree outside the doors of the Church, allowing me to enter with one focus - Him.

Friday, January 17, 2014

How to go to Confession

This article was posted on Spirit Daily recently.  I learned some things about the Sacrament of Reconciliation ... so I thought you may also enjoy the article.  I have added it to my links on the right side of the blog.  

Click HERE to go to the website.


Monday, December 31, 2012

This article was posted on Facebook and thought others may enjoy reading. It is about a Priest's view of the Sacrament of Reconciliation ... 

You can find the original article and information on Fr. Mike Schmitz HERE.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Purgatory ... an article in Spirit Daily

In honor of all Souls Day, I will post an article found on Spirit Daily today.  It is very poignant and interesting.  It is regarding a nun who was in Purgatory who talked with a nun who was in a cloister.  There is a small prayer and novena at the end.

Remember to continually pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  They are unable to pray for themselves, but they are constantly praying for us.  Offer your Mass, your work day, your time with family, your Adoration time, offer your entire day for these Holy Souls.

If you would like to read this article on Spirit Daily, then click here.

A suffering soul in purgatory to Sister M. at a cloister in 19th century France (from Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory):
"If you could only know what I suffer! Pray for me, please. I suffer intensely everywhere. My God, how merciful You are! No one can imagine what Purgatory is like. Be kind and take pity on the poor souls.
"May 1874. I have been in the second Purgatory since the Feast of the Annunciation. On that day I saw the Blessed Virgin for the first time. In the first stage, we never saw her. The sight of her encourages us and this beloved Mother speaks to us of Heaven. While we see her, our sufferings are greatly diminished.
"You do well to pray to St. Michael and to urge others to do so. One is indeed happy at the hour of death when he has had confidence in some of the saints. They will be his protectors before God in that terrible moment.
"Make it a practice to live in the presence of God with a pure intention. God seeks devoted souls who will love Him for His own sake. These are very few. He wants you to be one of His true friends. Many think they love God, but they love Him for their own sakes.
"February 1875. Watch carefully over your interior life. Keep all your small troubles for Jesus alone. He is well able to make up to you for whatever He takes from you. Your life must be one of unceasing interior acts of love and of mortification, but God alone must know of it. Do nothing extraordinary. Lead a very hidden life, yet one closely united to Jesus.
"Love God very much. How happy are the souls that do this. They possess a treasure! The great penance of your life will be, not the absence of your Jesus but great sorrow for all the pain you have given Him, by your failure to love Him as you desire, in return for the overwhelming number of graces which He has showered upon you and which He will continue to shower upon you.
"Love everyone, but do not put your trust entirely in anyone, because Jesus wants to be your great confidant. Everything for Him and for Him alone. Perform all your actions in the presence of God as I have so often told you. Consult Him before all you do or say. Let your life be one of faith and love... Do nothing to distinguish yourself. Without offending anyone, avoid the company of those who are too unreserved and those who are uncharitable. As for yourself, be busy about your own affairs. Keep your opinions to yourself and never express them unless obliged to do so. Be preoccupied with only that one subject, the mainspring of your life, Jesus.
"December 8, 1875. Love God intensely. Do not fear your own suffering. Trust in Him, never in yourself. Die to yourself from morning to night... Do not breathe or live except for Jesus Christ. God must be your only confidant. Complain to no one except for Him. Be quite hidden from the eyes of everyone else.
"Feast of the Annunciation. When God wishes a soul to be entirely His, He begins by crushing it, very much as apples are crushed in the press—to extract its passions, its self-seeking, in a word, all its defects. When a soul is sufficiently broken, He reshapes it according to His will. If it is faithful, it is soon transformed. Only then does Jesus load it with His choicest graces and inundate it with His love.
"Jesus wants you to deal with Him, as with an intimate friend, without any fear whatsoever. It is true that His Majesty is frightening and that you are not worthy to have such intimate converse with your Jesus, but is He not the Master that enriches whomsoever He wills? Ask Jesus to make you rich in every virtue, as He wishes you to be, but in the meantime, shape your life in accordance with His inspirations. Enlarge your heart because what Jesus desires above all things is to see in it His love. What wonderful graces you will receive if you are faithful, graces you have never even thought of.
"May 12th. Mortify yourself corporally, but more especially spiritually. Forget yourself. Deny yourself in everything. Never look at what others are doing. God does not demand the same perfection from everyone. All are not enlightened in the same way, but you, whom Jesus Himself enlightens, look only to Him, let Him be your aim and object in everything.
"Never grow weary in your work. Begin each day as if you had so far done nothing. This continual renouncement of one’s will and comfort and one’s own opinions is a long martyrdom, but it is most pleasing to God. God wants you to be something special, not as regards your exterior, but in your inner soul. He asks of you a union with Himself, so great that you never lose sight of Him, even amidst your absorbing occupations.
"While on earth one truly cannot picture or imagine what God really is, but we (in Purgatory) know and understand Him for what He is, because our souls are freed from all the ties that fettered them and prevented them from realizing the holiness and majesty of God, and His great mercy. We are martyrs, consumed as it were by love. An irresistible force draws us towards God who is our center, but at the same time another force thrusts us back to our place of expiation. We are in the state of being unable to satisfy our longings. Oh, what a suffering that is, but we desire it and there is no murmuring against God here. We desire only what God wants. You on earth, however, cannot possibly understand what we have to endure.
"Be ingenious in mortifying yourself and in breaking your own will. Be especially nice to those who are less agreeable to you than to others, no matter what wrong they may have done to you. This means renouncing yourself and pleasing Jesus. Nothing else matters. It is on these occasions that you must silence the human will, but you must do it because Jesus wills it. Do not allow self-love to get the upper hand, but do all blindly to please Jesus alone."

Praying the 27-day Family Tree novena
The first nine days for our Father’s side.
The next nine days for our Mother’s side.
The next nine days for yourself.
The Creed, Our Father, three Hail Mary’s and Glory be.
Then fourteen times: 
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be and 
Eternal rest grant unto them O! Lord 
and let perpetual light shine upon them and may they rest in peace. Amen.
Make an act of Contrition.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A-Head of it all

This past summer my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily the doctors caught it early. My Aunt, my Mom's sister, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and had a double mastectomy. Needless to say, my Sister and I are now frightfully aware that we may have breast cancer in our lifetime.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

She was getting a routine mammogram ... well, should have been routine.  The tech saw something in one of the x-rays and took a few more pictures ... then there was something in the other breast ... again more pictures.  When all was done the normal 4 pictures turned into 13.

Then she was called back for an ultrasound and a biopsy. 

I am unsure if any of you had had a biopsy, but let's just say that they hurt!  They use a huge needle ... huge I mean in circumfrance, not length ... so they can suck the tissue right out of you.  Tissue that should be left alone under normal circumstances. 

It's funny how God answers prayers ...

I had prayed the night before that God would give me my Mom's pain.  It was a short quick, fleeting-of-the-moment, mindless type prayer ... but I do remember asking.  My Mom never felt a thing!  The doctor had a few biopsies to do because both breasts had questionable spots.  The needle went in, cells came out, and my Mom felt nothing.

I, on the other hand, had a major headache that day.  It was cloudy, work was a bit stressful, so I took some tylenol and thought nothing of it.

She decided to get a double mastectomy.  In fact they were not going to be used any longer ... we were all weaned and on solid foods now. (yes, you can laugh).  As the doctors made preparations for the surgery and additional doctor's appointments, my headaches grew worse and were happening daily. 

I had made some doctors appointments but nothing was working.  I do not get migraines, so I knew that was out.  But every test that was taken, everything came back normal - even the CT scan.   But I did not put 2-and-2 together.

My Mom had the surgery ... the doctor's said everything went really well.  She had staples from one side of her chest to the other, two drains, one on each side, and lots of bandages. 

My headaches had gotten worse to the point that I could barely think.  I couldn't concentrate and just keeping my eyes open was painful.  Imagine Uncle Fester putting your head in a vice and tightening it then grabbing a sledge hammer and hitting the back of your head with it ... my headaches were worse than that!

The next day my Mom and her Sister were in the hospital room ... my Mom felt no pain whatsoever!  She has traintracks running across her ... she just had major surgery ... and she felt no pain!  Nothing!  In fact, she was up and walking around (not far, mind you) that day.  The hospital, however, in their infinite wisdom, put her in a room with a patient who had massive infections (doctors were overheard talking about major antibiotics to attack the infection).  Needless to say, my Mom was NOT going to stay there any longer than she had to, in fact, she asked her doctor to discharge her that day so she could recouperate at home.  Because she was feeling well and the drains were working properly, the doctor did discharge her.

For the next 2 weeks, I had major headaches ... nothing was working ... even major pain pills.  They would knock me out, but when I would awaken, the pain was back.  My doctor's scheduled an MRI.  I had to now wait for the radiology department to call so we could schedule it ... 3 weeks later was the earliest I could get in.

It wasn't until my Mom and I were talking that we were able to connect the dots.  God allowed me to take her pain ... He gave me that gift, and what an awesome gift it was!  As I was in pain, I would offer up my pain, ask that it would be combined with Jesus' suffering, for anyone who needed prayers.  I am just amazed at God's infinite wisdom and kindness.

When the staples and the drains were taken out, she felt nothing! 

As she recouperated, my headaches lessened.  The day of the MRI, I had no headaches at all. Well, not like they were.  I would have a twinge here or there, but it was more of an annoyance than actual pain.  The MRI came back normal - everything that should be in there is in there and nothing that should be in there was not.

I now have no headaches at all.  They have completely disappeared.  And my Mom? Well, she's been a swell patient.  She made sure (as did we) that she did not pick up anything too heavy, lift anything above her head, and was able to rest as much as she needed.  She's now back to doing her exercises.  

Would I do it again?  Absolutely!
God gave me a gift ... a gift of faith.  He allowed me to get a snippit of the pain Jesus felt in his suffering. 

My Mom, on the other hand, yells at me when I tell her I would do it again ...

Another gift from God ... an answered prayer.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Blanketed with snowfall of a new day
on my knees, my arms outstretched
as dew on a new leaf, eyes watered from sorrow

I tried it on my own, tried it by myself
failing and falling
my head bows in despair

Hands outstretched save me
His eyes know my pain
Gentle touch wiping the tears, lifting me

I am not to do it alone
He is always beside me
His love for me greater
He is waiting ... yearning for me ... loving me
asking me to surrender.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm back!

It has been over a year since I have 'blogged'.  The Holy Spirit has been nudging me to get back to writing, and as an unfaithful servant, I have been arguing with God.  (I think I would have learned by now that arguing will not work).

What has happened:

I lived in the Community of Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity for 3 months.  During that time, I was working at my job and living in the community.  I was having a very difficult time separating the secular world from the religious world.  Through discernment, God wanted me to leave the community, which He displayed through a very recognizable sign.  I had asked God to send me red roses if He wanted me to stay and yellow roses if He wanted me to leave.  That Tuesday, there were yellow roses on every table! 

I am unsure what God has in store for me next.  I am continuing to work at the job I had before I entered the Convent.  I am trying to lead the life God wants me to live.  I pray that I am pleasing to Him.

Since my departure at the Convent, I have had many challenges and many successes.  As of yesterday, I am now coordinating the Perpetual Adoration at my Church.  (The Holy Spirit nudged me and then confirmed it during the Spirutal Formation Committee meeting).

I look forward to writing again and reading all of the comments.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God's Path for Me ... Beginning of a New Life

As I look back, it amazes me how intricately involved God and Mary have been in my life. We hear through God's Word that He knows the number of hairs on your head. What is amazing is that it changes from minute to minute. Hair falls out or is shaved off. New hair grows back or a cell dies and becomes dormant. So we never know from minute to minute or second to second how many hairs we have ... but God, in His infinite wisdom and love for us, does.

He loves us so much that there is no problem too small that He wants to hear about. We think we can only take those grandiose problems that we can not find an answer or solution. However, He wants to know how our day went; what we were feeling; the good things that happened; the anger we felt; the joy; the pain ... He wants it all ... totally and completely.

To be asked by God to join Him is an enormous responsibility and a great privilege. My prayer is that I can successfully complete His will as He requests.

I greatly appreciated your prayers and support during my discernment. As I take this first step tomoorow, joining Him through the Trinitarian Order, I will keep you all in my prayers. Please know that during my Postulancy, I am given limited access to the Internet so my blogging will be few and far between. Please be patient.

God Bless you all!