Gloria M. Chang shares her poetry, art, and writing on her blog: Shalom Snail: Journey to Wholeness. I love Gloria's use of art, snails, and photography to capture nature's beauty and the hidden riches of the Word of God. In this photograph, a large snail carries a smaller one on its back, synonymous with the Good Shepherd in St. Matthew's Gospel:
"...It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost" (Mt. 18:14)
You can check out this post and more of Gloria's work on her website:
Acrylic painting by Dawn Nava
by Rita Simmonds,
based on the Mexican Poppy painting by Carrie Bucalo
I left the violet mount “in secret, on a cold, dark night,”
I hoped to find my blissful side, the child I never met.
I fled for days of frolic; but skips were weighed with stone.
I could not leave the mountain; it caved inside my soul
majestic, proud and threatening—a bruised and throbbing mass,
an anchor and a sickness I could not heave or man.
I knelt from imposition. I begged beyond the clouds
defeated by injustice—the crime that kept me bowed.
“My Father, do you hate me?“ I screeched, and tore my clothes.
The mountain echoed, “Hate me!” A darkness pierced my own.
“Finished…It is finished.” I heard but couldn’t see.
A white and blinding brightness infused new sight in me.
An earthquake cracked the boulder that kept my heart entombed.
Strengthened like a soldier, I faced the twisted truth:
Like tumbleweed entangled, the lies rolled rootless on.
I walked the sandy desert; my steps made poppies bloom.
They waved their yellow petals in victory over thirst.
The sun set on the mountain; it’s purple turned to grace.
The sky takes from its grandeur and sweetens cotton clouds.
The child in me can wander in lavender and gold.
May 17, 2016
Rita A. Simmonds
Watercolors and pressed flowers
by Carrie Bucalo
by Carrie Bucalo Based on John 8:21-30
Looking at a mosaic from far away, it's hard to imagine that it's composed of a multitude of small tiles, or tesserae. A single tile is not much to look at; it's small, square, and powerless. But this smallness does not stop the artist, who spends countless hours laying tile after tile, knowing that the final image will eventually appear.
Faith in God is like a mosaic. It is composed of many small, seemingly insignificant moments in our lives that come together to make something incredible. In today's Gospel, the Pharisees question Jesus, Who are you? In their confusion and lack of faith they cannot process what Jesus is saying, or who he is. His words fall and scatter into an unknowable heap. But for those who believe, Jesus' words come together and form a picture of God's presence and love for them in the Scriptures and in the story of salvation. When you lift up the Son of man, then you will realize that I AM.
There is hope in today's Gospel for all of us, especially for those who feel fragmented and shattered. Mosaics show us that the might of faith can take what is small and powerless to create something entirely new. Just one act of faith, next to another, and another, can turn what is meaningless in our lives into God's greatest work of art.
From the MAGNIFICAT Lenten Companion 2023. Published with Permission.
Paintings and Reflection by Nancy Laughrige
Pilgrim Center of Hope
Painting and reflection by Carolyn
"This is my hermitage: a place of peace and healing, growing, learning...how to be me after an abuse situation. Not just me, but who God wants me to be. 'This is the Garden of Life I have for you.' But it takes time. Sweet, sweet peace of Jesus. At times elusive, hidden but if we keep totally connected to him- no matter what- He reveals what we need to know."
~ by Susan H.
photograph by Carrie Bucalo
painting by a 10- year-old survivor
by Carrie Bucalo
I ask for strength, peace and courage to bear my wounds.
I ask for renewed trust and faith in God the Father.
I ask for strength and the gift of uniting myself more closely to your passion; to be consecrated to bear fruit, by the power of your holy cross.
I freely unite myself to your passion, death and resurrection, to contribute to the good of the entire People of God.
I ask your Holy Spirit for the gift of healing,
and for the gift to glorify God the Father in my life.
I ask this through the intercession of my brothers and sisters, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Communion of Saints.
(Prayer based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1520-1523)
with Barbara Mcguigan
"A friend and I were walking along the beach and we found a heart shaped rock. Then we saw more and more..." - Carol Lisa
Seeking places of healing and pilgrimage has long been apart of our Catholic identity. As a child, I visited the beautiful Santuario de Chimayo in northern New Mexico many times. I remember standing in the long lines of pilgrims, many who whispered and mumbled prayers beneath their breath. Candle light flicked on the adobe walls as I slowly made my way to the small hole in the church floor where I sank my hands into the cold dirt. I may not have fully understood just how much healing I needed, but I said my prayers and asked God to heal me, and the ones I loved, and even the whole world.
Now more than ever, is a perfect time to recall the great treasures of healing we have in our faith, and make pilgrimages to those places we may have forgotten. Even if we cannot travel physically to these churches, we can travel there in our hearts and in our prayers. We need God's healing. The world needs God's healing. And if there's anything that our history with him has taught us, its that God loves to heal us. But we must ask! We must come to him freely, and ask for what we need. After all, we have a wealth of prayers, novenas, and litanies that have filled our sacred spaces for centuries. Here is one of my favorites:
"Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen."
photograph by Carol Lisa
Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo
painting by Shidare
Watercolor and pressed flowers
by Carrie Bucalo
I had the joy and the honor of doing a radio show with EWTN's Barbara Mcguigan, on The Good Fight. We talked about Pope emeritus Benedict XVI's essay on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and my perspective as a survivor. You can listen to the radio show by clicking on the link below.
by Dolores Cameron
A dear friend of mine gave me a book of letters that his mother wrote, called A Thank You Note To God. In her letters, Dolores wrote with beautiful words to illustrate how much she loved God:
"Dear Lord, thank you for the beautiful sunrays shining and glimmering through the trees last night. They were so beautiful... I have not forgotten you, I think of you constantly every day of my life. You are the most important person in the whole world to me. Thank you for everything--- just as it is my sweet Jesus"
(Letters from June 29, and July 15, 1994).
Dolores constantly thanked God for her family and children, which encourages me to be a thankful mother too:
"Thank you dear Jesus for everything--- just as it is. The way things are is the way You want them to be, whether they are bad or good in our eyes. I know You are always taking care of me and all my children and whatever happens is because You are allowing it to happen for our good. Thank you my dear sweet Lord. I trust you completely, always and forever"
(June 8, 1994).
(You can buy her book on amazon.com)
"Are we willing to love those who are not exactly like ourselves?"
In January 2020, I had the honor of joining Dan Cheely for his show on Relevant Radio. Dan and I discussed the hopes we both have for healing in the Church and in the world, after the wounds of sexual abuse. We talk about how human freedom, our encounter with Christ and the presence and the Carmelite Saints are all here to help steer us into a brighter future. You can listen to the show on the Relevant Radio website. Look for episode 17 (January 25, 2020), on the Dan Cheely Show page.
Liza Montoya-Hayden is a native New Mexican oil and acrylic painter. I'm constantly amazed by the artists who come out of the Land of Enchantment. I absolutely love how she captures the beauty of color and light. Liza's faith and love for God are just as inspiring as her paintings. I'm very thankful for her generosity in sharing her faith-filled works of art!
by Rita A. Simmonds
(from her book Greeting the Seasons, based onThe Nativity watercolor painting by Carrie Bucalo)
A sky so filled with constellations
at last displays the essential star.
We need decode no more
but simply follow what is most pronounced-
what we cannot help but heed.
We discerned a cross on the mountain top
still a long way off,
and thought that would be our aim
until we caught sight of a warm light
at the foot of the hill
seeming to rise to meet us
as we moved quickly toward
nothing but a family
huddled in a cove---
but we were explorers
and had to know
yet somehow couldn't ask.
The baby slept
the mother smiled
the father watched,
and held his staff.
No one said a word.
From science we learned to observe.
In silence we learned to adore.
We gave our gifts with trembling hands.
Our velvet knelt in straw.
The truth that ruled was plain to see---
we couldn't see it all.
The cross was still a long way off.
The star had led to light.
The journey to the mountain top---
An hour, not this night.
We headed back a different route.
The hour not this night.
-- Rita A. Simmonds
Watercolor with pressed flowers and leaves, by Carrie Bucalo
Watercolor and reflection by Deborah Brenna
Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo
When I think of Christ at His resurrection, I see Him as being utterly creative. He rises; He breathes, He speaks; He moves. And life springs forth with His every step. His movement beckons for a greater imagination and belief in what is beautiful, and what is good.
oil painting by Liza Montoya-Hayden
Marty is an award winning songwriter and musician who runs a healing ministry called Spirit Power. Marty's music and healing ministry have been touching the hearts of many across the world, with songs like Whisper in the Wind and Queen of the Americas.
Marty wrote two new songs after reading his MAGNIFICAT and visiting Healed By Truth. He was moved and inspired by all the art and reflective writing of these hope-filled survivors, family members, and friends that he wrote: Living Flame and Rose Among the Thorns. I'm so thankful for his music and I'm honored to share the lyrics of these songs with you now.
I believe these songs are a true testimony to the shared hope and talent of survivors of abuse, family members, friends and ministers in the Church who believe that faith-healing is possible. You can hear the songs and learn more about Marty's ministry by visiting his website: https://spiritpowermusic.org/
photograph by Carrie Bucalo
Painting and Collage by Susan H.
Blessed are the powerless, for theirs is a foretaste of life’s end:
The infant, pushed out and into the world’s unfeeling sight;
The schoolboy, knocked around by bullying might;
The lover, defenseless against his beloved’s charms;
The soldier, pierced under orders through battle’s harms;
The advocate, defeated and overthrown by perjurer’s lies;
The washed-up, worthless and without status in his family’s eyes;
The senile, restrained like an errant pet and penned.
Blessed are the little ones, who find their way to Christ.
And eat the crumbs begrudged to them, taxed and over-priced.
Blessed are the honest, drawing hatred from all sides.
The prophet targets he who mocks and derides.
Blessed are the patient ones, who rise from falls each day.
More blessed are the simple ones, who delight in life and play.
O Lord bestow your blessings upon the powerless,
So we may hear You say: “My beloved—My great success.”
Oil painting by Liza Montoya-Hayden
This is a wonderful book of poems by my dear friend, Rita Simmonds. It is filled with deep Advent and Christmas expressions and emotions. I wish I could give this to everyone for Christmas this year! You can find it and order it, inexpensively, online at Amazon.com.
"One winter evening, as I was walking through the woods at sunset, God asked me: 'What do you see?'
I said, 'I see beauty.' Then I asked God , 'What do you see?' He said, 'I see Love.'"
"You will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus," (Phil. 4:7).
"I was prayed over by three different people for physical healing. All three people gave me the same message from God: 'You are a rose among the thorns.' God did not heal my illness. He chose to heal my soul and gave me strength that can only come from Him. God's healing of my soul was the most important choice."
My sister, Christina loves to draw, and I was so happy when she agreed to draw this piece for my website. Her cross, covered with roses and thorns is a great reflection of the journey so many survivors make, between a path of suffering and a space for discovering God's love. Here are her words about this piece:
"A cross of roses, from the bottom of thorns, there is beauty which unfolds, into the light we hold."
When visiting this young artist and her siblings, we sat and talked about our losses due to childhood abuse. These children unfortunately had a very similar experience to my own. We cried, and prayed, and In the end agreed that the beauty we see in the world helps us through each day, and art helps us heal, grow, and live fulfilling lives.
This is a great reminder for us adults: oftentimes we forget the largeness of a child's heart, and the depths of their trauma and wounds. This painting says volumes with "continental HOPE."
A big thank you to foundress Mary Jane Fox and all the women of Pilgrim Center of Hope's 20th Catholic Women's Conference in San Antonio, Texas! It was a pleasure and an honor for me to spend the weekend with all of you, on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16-17). Your faith is an incredible witness to beauty and love, and my heart is full!
In my first talk: OUR STORY, I shared how even the most wounded members of the Church can keep their faith, no matter what happens. In my second talk: OUR INHERITANCE, I shared how our faith ties us into the rich legacy of salvation history!
For anyone who missed out, click on the link below to purchase the talks and to learn more:
I painted this piece when I was a Carmelite nun. As an abuse survivor I struggled in prayer and found help from Our Blessed Mother and the Carmelite saints. I wrote about my experiences in The Spiritual Journey of Healing, which you can download here:
Pencil drawing by Christina B.
by Gloria M. Chang
In your lovely mantel carry me,
my drooping bud longs to see,
but is frozen in heart
by the frosts of fear,
and my hue decays into saturnine.
In your motherly arms take me
into Jesus' meadow eternally green.
Plant me in his palms.
A seed in his wounds,
no longer will I hide his beauty.
Paintings and Reflection by Susan H.
Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo
POEMS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
by Rita A. Simmonds
Marty Rotella's songs for healing
By Greg Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deb, has gone through her own journey of faith-wounds, yet has found incredible peace and beauty in her home and faith life. Here is one of her first paintings. (A marvelous first painting)And here are her words about it:
"A writer by trade, I also love to craft. I am always dabbling in this or that; pouring myself out and receiving joy in return. Though I am not normally a painter, I have lately been learning to paint. With this Fall came a new year of nature study in our homeschool adventures. It lends itself perfectly to this venture. And I've been enjoying it immensely.
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Something about the harvest invokes a deep sense of awe for life and its seasons. Life is so often a frantic, messy business. Yet in the midst
of all the stress and worry, fall is an invitation to a deeper connection with the world around me. My children and I head outside to enjoy the cooler weather. There I'm immersed in God’s heart. I see Him in the wisps of clouds; and the brilliant
color of our mountain; in the trees shrouding themselves in beauty before their long sleep; and in the providence of the harvest. I see Him in the curve of a pumpkin, the orange skin shining radiantly in the sun. There, is an invitation to rest. To take in the moment and capture, in my own way, the peace which is all around us."
~ Deborah Brenna, October 31, 2016
February 1, 2020, Healed by Grace Women's Conference was an incredible day, filled with beautiful faces and remarkable women of faith. A big thank you to the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Alhambra, California, for inviting me to come and speak. And a huge thank you to every single one of you ladies who came. Your presence made a difference in the story of our journey to healing.
For those of you who could not attend, both of my talks, The Child Jesus, and The Holy Face, can be found on the Sacred Heart Retreat House page on Podbean.com. You can find it under Healed by Grace.