On the Road

Sign, Sign Everywhere a sign.

Written by: Denise Serafini on Sunday, April 02, 2017

We met a man at a gas station that tapped on my window and asked if I had a business card. I realized he had just looked at the magnetic sign on the car. He wanted to know more about who we were and what the sign was about. I didn’t have a business card handy, but suggested he simply look us up on the web to learn more. Then Jean pulled out one of our holy cards and suggested I give him one of those. The man had stepped away so I went inside to look for him. He showed up to get in the car he was riding in on the side closest to Jean while I was still looking for him inside the little convenience store. Jean stopped him and gave him one of our holy cards and then happened to ask him if he was Catholic. He responded that he wasn’t, but nonetheless Jean felt inclined to give him a scapular, explaining that if you wear it and say a Hail Mary each day you will never experience the fires of Hell. Just as I was coming back to the car, I see the man with tears in his eyes holding the scapular to his heart and thanking Jean. He got into the back seat of the truck he was riding in and off we both went with a wave, with me and Jean watching him as he touched the scapular to his heart one more time. Our little magnet signs on the side of the car are what brought this man to knock on the door. I can’t help but think he was heeding the “Call From the Crucified Heart” when he did that, almost as a request to ask us to pray with him and when we left I think he was genuinely thanking the Lord for sending him a little sign that God is still thinking about him.

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Designer Blessings

Written by: Denise Serafini on Sunday, April 02, 2017

On Friday afternoon, March 31st I received a call from a woman named Heidi that evidently missed out on the event in Cleveland. She was told by friends that it was an “event she shouldn’t have missed”. She called me four times to be sure where we would be next and decided that she couldn’t wait until next Tuesday when we are slated to be in Monroe, MI, which would be much closer to Cleveland. So she made the three and half hour trek to Grass Lake to join us at the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the event we had there that evening. She brought along lots of saramentals to touch to the relics. Our event at the Pious Union of St. Joseph Shrine was as touching as any we’ve done to date. Father Leo of the Servants of Charity presided over the event and two other priests were available for confessions. I don’t think I have ever been at an event where I saw so many tears. There were several members of the Knights of Columbus Color Guard that joined us and, as always, they did a marvelous job. However, they were one man short for a full procession and I noticed a young man in the pews, so I asked him if he would mind joining the Knights to bring in the Relic of the Holy table. We handed young Zachary a pair of gloves and with a few instructions he took on the role. He was just beaming with thanks for the opportunity. His father approached me later and told me that his son felt so honored to have been given the opportunity to hold the relic. He said, “this is something he will remember all his life.” From the brightness in this young man’s face I could tell that he too was being blessed in a special way.

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​ Reflecting the Gospel

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, March 30, 2017

​On Sunday, March 26 we presented our 2017 program to the parishioners of St Matthew’s Church in Forestville, Connecticut. Monsignor Thomas Ginty, pastor of this parish was accompanied by Deacon James McCluskey in presiding over the event, for a successful evening. Although the annual Father McGivney dinner was being held in Cheshire that evening, members of the Knights of Columbus still came to support the Relics of the Passion event. As a matter of fact, Monsignor Ginty, also a knight, joined them in sacrificing their opportunity to celebrate the founder of the Knights of Columbus with their brother knights. God bless them. St. Matthew, the apostle and saint for whom this parish is named, was a tax collector. His occupation would have put Matthew in a position where he was despised by his fellow Jews. The Pharisees and Scribes equated tax collectors with sinners. Jesus was never deterred from fraternizing with sinners as was noted in the biblical quote in Mark 2:17 which reads, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The gospels according to Matthew were written after the death of Christ in Aramaic to convince the people that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. In his gospels, Matthew chronicles the life of Jesus, his experience as an apostle of Christ, and the message of salvation for all people who come to God through Jesus. As I meditate on the Passion of Christ in preparation for the presentations we do, I can more or less see what I think is the summation of the messaging in all the gospels. The Passion has all the elements that the evangelists mention in the sermons and parables, in His life and in the lives of all those connected with Jesus. The gospels are replete with messages of life, discipleship, virtue, faith, healing, danger, evil, sin, forgiveness, repentance, death, resurrection, salvation and more. Those same messages are all encapsulated in the Passion of Christ.

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​​In Thanks to Our Lady

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, March 30, 2017

We made the trip to Ohio to arrive on Wednesday, March 29 in Cleveland for a presentation at Mary Queen of Peace parish. We actually were slated to do two events: one in the afternoon for the school children and one in the evening for the greater parish community. Father Douglas Brown, pastor for this parish presided over both events. This church is typical of the great edifices of times long gone by, created in Greek or Roman architecture. It was absolutely beautiful and so large I regretted not bring all eight of our banner backdrops. I had asked Father Brown to provide me with a 10-to-12-word quote giving his impression of the event once it was over. He provided much more than we asked for and we are truly touched by his words. He said, "The Apostolate for Holy Relics brought the Passion of Jesus Christ to my parish in a very immediate and personal way. Sometimes I think we can get caught up in apologetics and theological concepts, but when the Relics of the Passion were here, an emotional response of love developed for Christ and His sacrifice for us, that, quite frankly, I had not seen before. During the prayers and meditations, you could have heard a pin drop as the Passion became very real to those in attendance. During the afternoon Children's Program, approximately 300 children listened attentively and reverently venerated the relics in a manner that I believe will have a long-lasting impact upon them. As the event concluded, I was thanked over and over by the faithful for bringing this to our parish. “

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A Gift of the Holy Trinity

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The inspiration for my blogging this year led me to talk about the churches we’ve been visiting, highlighting the story behind the individual saint in whose honor the church has been named. The church we visited in Poughkeepsie on March 22 was the Church of the Holy Trinity and I have to say I’m a bit overwhelmed since the writing on the subject of the Trinity is definitely “above my pay grade of intellectual gifts”. It’s a difficult subject to expound on, even for the great writers of the Church, so I won’t even attempt to address the theological elements associated with discussions and articles I’ve read regarding Trinitarian philosophy. I will however, provide you with a quote regarding a rationale on God’s purpose for His Son’s Passion from Father Robert Barron, professor of systematic theology at Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary. He says, “A gracious God, seeing the mess into which human beings have fallen, sets things right. And that can happen only through the sheer generous grace of a God who, by the Holy Spirit, breaks into the dysfunction and heals it from within." With that said, I think it’s best for me to just stick with the reality of the Presence of the Holy Trinity at our little event at Holy Trinity Parish. The feeling in the church as we meditated on the message of God’s love for mankind in sacrificing His only begotten Son was definitely one that was filled with the Holy Spirit. Father Mizzi-Gili, Pastor and presider for our event, turned to the Eucharist for each prayer we said in the series for the meditations. That gesture seemed to help us connect directly to God in our prayers. Father's rendition of the “Call from the Crucified Heart”, Jesus’ words to us at each step in His Passion, were done in such a way that you could fully imagine Jesus actually having that conversation with us in the Church that evening. That feeling is definitely what I call the presence of the Holy Spirit manifest among us.

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The Essence of Holy Hope

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, March 28, 2017

On Friday March 24th we had the opportunity to present our program at my home church here in Connecticut, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, which is part of the Our Lady of Hope Parish. The event was well attended and our pastor, Father Ruminski, did a wonderful job of supporting us in the readings. In alignment with the name for the parish, I have to say that if nothing else, our relics and associated programs, similar to all of the traditional services and prayer devotions made available to us by the Church, are a sign of hope that God wishes to embed deep within our hearts; the hope of salvation and His eternal love. The first shrine to bear the title of Our Lady of Hope was erected at Mezieres, France in the year 930. On January 17, 1871, Our Lady of Hope appeared in the French village of Pontmain. There she revealed herself as the "Madonna of the Crucifix" and gave the world her message of "Hope through Prayer and the Cross." The basilica built at Pontmain by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate is one of the great French pilgrimage places, noted for its miracles of grace. The individuals that attend our events come to engage in prayer for the benefit of the persons and situations tied to their prayer intentions. God the Father, in His Mercy, cannot help but have pity on the soul that presents his or her supplications in the midst of remembering the suffering of Jesus on the walk to Calvary accompanied by His Mother and honoring the relics of the cruel and inhumane tortures He endured.It so happened that an individual that has long been suffering from terminal cancer came and asked to be prayed over with the relics. Father Ruminski brought the Relic of the True Cross to her and joined her in asking Jesus for relief of her sufferings. This young woman was not Catholic, but she certainly understood that Jesus is our Savior. In her knowing that she will likely be going home to the Father in the near future, she wanted to draw herself as close as possible to Him to be assured of His love for her.

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Celebrating with St. Joseph

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, March 23, 2017

On Sunday, March 19, we traveled to the Church of St. Joseph in Troy, New York. When we pulled up we saw two major banners promoting our event on the fences that line the street alongside the church. Father James Sidoti, certainly invested lots of effort to bring as many people as possible to join us in the event. This church is incredibly beautiful with its old gothic design and tiffany windows. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth the stop for a visit. We arrived between masses to bring in our equipment. We brought it in early to leave it in the corner, since there was a Latin Mass just before our event which limited our set up time. We have to do whatever we can to minimize the unpacking time when the window available for set up is less than 90 minutes. That approach allowed us to get everything done for an on-time start of the program. We were joined by members of the Color Guard from the local Knights of Columbus Assembly. These great examples of committed men in service to the Church have been there for every event I’ve ever done in Troy at both St. Augustine’s and St. Joseph’s. It so happens that March 19th is also the feast day of St. Joseph. What better place to present than a beautiful church named in his honor? Father Sidoti was the main presider for this event, and he provided beautiful holy cards depicting St. Joseph to complement the holy cards we provide for attendees to touch to the relics as a permanent memento of their encounter with the Relics of the Passion. What a wonderful opportunity to engage the powerful intercession of St. Joseph, on his feast day, for all the intentions offered up by the participants and for the petitions we offer up under the Relic of the Holy Nail during each event.

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Spreading the Message of His Mercy and Love

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, March 23, 2017

We made a 3rd annual visit for our presentation of the relics to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy on Saturday, March 18. Although I would never have believed that Saturday mornings would be an optimum time to present a program such as ours, it turns out that it’s the best time. We had full house attendance for a 10:00 AM event. The program was simulcast to the lower level to support a full chapel and conference room. Father Anthony Gramlich, rector of the shrine, presided over the event and there was a full complement of shrine staff to direct the pilgrims. Members of the staff also participated in helping us to hold the individual relics for veneration and for that we are most grateful. I was touched by the number of individuals, men, women and children alike, that came forward to venerate the relics with tears in their eyes. Not only that, but the pilgrims that joined us that day had a sense of faithfulness that prompted them to spend extra time in venerating the relics with true devotion and respect for the sufferings of Jesus in His Passion. Because of the size of the crowd we ran over our allotted time and finished some three and half hours after we began. What a blessing! I am of the belief that the divine plan includes creating multiple sources to spread the message of His Divine Love and once we are touched by that love we reflect it. If what we witnessed in the reverence coupled with the tearful encounter the pilgrims had with Christ’s Passion as they approached the relics at the Divine Mercy Shrine this past weekend is any indication, I’d say the message of God’s love and mercy truly touched many hearts. The evidence was reflected in their faces.

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​ We’re All Members of Christ’s Family

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

On Friday March 17, we presented at the Church of the Holy Family in Hebron, Connecticut. It was a wonderful event with significant attendance. Father Brian Romanowski joined us to preside over the event and we were blessed with a full contingent of the Knights of Columbus Color Guard. As we were traveling I gave some thought to the Holy Family and their travels. Obviously the Holy Family is always depicted with St. Joseph, Mary and Jesus together and we generally think about them living out relatively simple lives in the little house in Nazareth. However, there was so much more to the reality of living out their role as the holiest of families and we only occasionally think of the Holy Family bound together in perilous circumstances and the consistency they must have applied in coming together in prayer to the Father and Holy Spirit for their safety and the fulfillment of their role here on earth. We too are on a perilous journey, the journey of life. We have to consistently be mindful of the perils of sin and keeping ourselves aligned with the principles upon which the Holy Family lived out their daily life. Unlike the Holy Family, we have issues with running our lives according to our own dictates and not necessarily keeping ourselves in check to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Family did, we need to keep ourselves rooted in prayer to assure that we consistently choose the right path to fulfill our mission here on earth. We can be individuals, members of the Holy Family Parish, part of an apostolate or any other Christian group. Regardless, we are all members of Christ’s Holy Family. We have a shared responsibility to pray for one another in imitation of the Holy Family and proceed through the perils of life with our “yes” to the Father and depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance. We also have the opportunity, as Our Lady did, to bind our prayers and sufferings in this life to Passion of Our Savior for our benefit and for the benefit of those for whom we pray. The greater circle of pray

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St. Rita of Cascia – Saint of the Impossible

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Our event at St. Rita’s Church brought in a sizable crowd and we had 18 or 19 Color Guard members from the Knights of Columbus joining us. Father Sharkey joined us for the supporting prayers associated with each meditation and he did a wonderful job of reading Jesus’ message from the Cross for us. I also had the opportunity to reconnect with valued colleagues that I worked with while I was employed at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Offices in New Haven. That was a special added treat. St. Rita has a great reputation of being the saint of the impossible and St. Francis teaches us to walk alongside Jesus, bearing our crosses with patience and humility. Sometimes I look on our travel schedule and wonder how is it that two women, pretty well advanced in years, can simply leave the comforts of their home for extended periods to drive across the country with this program and all of its supporting equipment. In some ways it seems like an impossible mission to get everything scheduled and aligned correctly to make the trip progress logically from city to city within a state and then across states. The details of overcoming the issues to keep the progression of our travels organized seems almost impossible at times. While that’s one aspect of the process, we also have to recognize that our mission is focused on Christ’s Passion and handle our own little crosses inherent in the problems and issues that creep up along the way. We have had presentations in close succession at churches named in honor of saints that had great devotion to Jesus on the Cross. I am hoping that we can depend on St. Francis and St. Rita’s intercession and the merits of all their sufferings and prayers for those that came to those events and to help us maintain our stamina. I also hope that they will join us in our prayers for all those that will encounter the Relics of the Passion as we make our way to the many churches we will visit along the way on our 2017 tour.

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