hermitage & girl in a garden

Paintings and Reflection by Susan H. 

immaculate heart of mary

Oil painting by Liza Montoya-Hayden

The Sacred Heart Retreat House

Alhambra, California


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


The End of the rainbow in Sydney

Photograph by Justin Bucalo

First Communion in Bavaria

Photograph by Carrie Bucalo

The Nativity

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo

The Good Fight

with Barbara Mcguigan

Jesus in the woods

photograph by Carrie Bucalo 

The Resurrection

Watercolor with pressed flowers and leaves, by Carrie Bucalo

THE JOURNEY

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



The Dan Cheely Show

Relevant Radio 

My sister, Christina, and I battle through our faith-wounds together. We've been through a lot, but God has captivated our hearts through the beauty of art. 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 we walk together, and I'm so proud to have her for a sister. 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."

~Christina

"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. 



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.

Living flame

Lyrics by Marty Rotella


Time to make room for the healing touch

Let the fire burn within.

The flame grows stronger as we chant our yes.

Rekindling the flame that is dim. 


(Refrain) Living Flame, light our way back to you.

Living Flame, light our way back to you. 


Like the sun rising on a golden plain.

Illuminate our hearts with your glow. 

The rays are stronger than our inner storms. 

Enflame our soul, your spirit will grow. (Refrain)


Real Fire, Living Flame

God's pure love will heal us. 

Will lead us in His light. 

(Light our way back to you). 

Back in May, 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. If you listen to the show, you'll be wondering if I ever heard back from Pope emeritus Benedict. Well, I did! He sent me a signed copy of his book, A School of Prayer, along with a card and his Easter blessing. You can listen to the radio show by clicking on the link below.

Click Here to listen to The Good Fight.







St. Francis Church, Taos, New Mexico

oil painting by Liza Montoya-Hayden

Rose among the thorns

Lyrics by Marty Rotella 


I carry the cross, as thorns pierce my heart.

I look for some answers, to make a new start.


(Refrain) In the school of prayer,

I learn how to care.

As I fight the fight, I am lead by the light. 


My wounds are a window,

The scene I view will show,

I'm healed in His presence,

And know the path to go.

Heal my soul, make me whole.

I'm a Rose Among the Thorns.

I'm a Rose Among the Thorns.


I feel the world through my wounds,

And the taste is bittersweet.

The ice that froze my heart,

Is melted by God's heat. (Refrain)


God has a garden of life for me,

Here in his peace, I'm set free. 

Blessed be His peace. 

Blessed be his peace. (Refrain) 

In late January 2020, Dan Cheely 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, encounter, presence and the Carmelite Saints are all here to steer us into a brighter future. You can listen to the show for free on the Relevant Radio website. Look for episode 17 (January 25, 2020), on the Dan Cheely Show page. 

my love for god

'Sacred Heart' watercolor by Carrie Bucalo 

a thank you note to god

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).


Thank you for your beautiful words, Dolores. I hope many people find a way to be as thankful and as beautiful as you.

(You can buy her book on amazon.com)

 





"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."

~Carolyn


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.'"  

~Nancy Laughrige

​When life gives you pumpkins

Watercolor and reflection by Deborah Brenna

​Prayer for healing


Loving Savior, 

I ask for strengthening, peace and courage to overcome the difficulties I endure because of my wounds. 

I ask for renewed trust and faith in God the Father.

I ask for the strength and the gift of uniting myself more closely to your passion; to be consecrated to bear fruit, by my configuration to 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.

Amen. 


(Prayer based off the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1520-1523)

​would you like to share your art, poetry, writing, photography, or video?

I'd love to hear from you.


a cross of roses

Pencil drawing by my sister, Christina


​beneath the cross

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo


Bunny Love & Mary beneath the Tree

Painting and Collage by Susan H. 

​​Greeting the seasons

POEMS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

by Rita A. Simmonds


Spirit Power and Healed by Truth

Marty Rotella's songs for healing

Wife, mother, artist, writer

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. Liza's artwork definitely reminds me of Georgia O'Keeffe's. 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! 


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.”

     Not too long ago, my family and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Marty Rotella in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 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.  We met up at Caliche's Frozen Custard  and had some amazing fellowship and ice cream! 

     Marty recently wrote two new songs after reading his MAGNIFICAT and visiting Healed By Truth. He told me that he felt very moved and inspired by all the art and reflective writing of the many contributors to the website, that he wrote: Living Flame and Rose Among the Thorns. I'm so thankful for his response 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/

Sunset, Florida, & Majestic Beauty

Paintings and Reflection by Nancy Laughrige

rose among the thorns

Painting and reflection by Carolyn 

Mexican poppies at sunset

Watercolor by Carrie Bucalo

A new beatitude

By Greg Cook, confiteorbenedictus@gmail.com 

My friend, 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




"Are we willing to love those who are not exactly like ourselves?" 

~Susan H. 

Radiant Meadow

Watercolor and pressed flowers

by Carrie Bucalo

I painted this piece when I was a Carmelite nun. When I couldn't turn to God in prayer because of my faith-wounds, I found help in Our Blessed Mother. I wrote about my journey of faith in The Spiritual Journey of Healing,​ which you can download by clicking on the link below.

From Mountain Madness to Mountain Grandeur

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