28th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

Friday, July 5, 2019, was the 28th wedding anniversary of James and Susanna. That was three days ago, and I am still feeling the glow of it! When Jack Naidu told James to kiss the bride, while Jack took a number of photographs, insisting upon a number of repeat performances, I felt I had just gotten married! Yes, I am a very slow learner. At my very first wedding, when I was a twenty-three year old novice from Iowa, as I walked down the aisle, I hardly saw anything, as I refused to wear my glasses! Yes, I was a bit blind in those days, in more ways than one. That was in the Protestant church in the redwoods in Mill Valley, California in 1963. In 1985, I tried it again. This time, it was a Sufi wedding on the beach in San Francisco. I wore nine braids with rose buds in my hair, but that one did not work either.

Then, along came James, the very first person who could keep up with me on the dance floor, where we danced a week after meeting at a mini film festival in an ice cream shop in Lenox, Mass., in the heart of the Berkshires. This time, I kept my glasses on and even asked both of my bosses for character references regarding James! That was in November, 1990. By June 19, 1991, I announced to James that we were going to have a Sufi wedding high above Lake Tahoe on Echo Lake in California. I sang a poem by Rabia, a Sufi saint, and towered over the groom and Pir Vilayat, my Sufi teacher.

A month later, we had an old fashioned Protestant wedding in the little white wooden church on the south shore of Clear Lake, Iowa. A minister from the Reformed Church in Klemme, Iowa, where I had been baptized in 1940, married us. I wore my grandmother’s wedding dress, which she had made, and James wore my shoes, as he had left his back in Kansas. Annalisa sang “Amazing Grace” in her college graduation dress.

Sixteen years later, after my conversion and a forced exit from the Carmelite order due to an impediment, we received the Sacrament of Marriage in the little chapel of St. Luke’s parish in Foster City, California. Deacon Paul Lucia officiated and we all feasted at the Basque Club, south of the city of St. Francis, after the wedding ceremony. Fast forward to this past Friday, July 5, 2019. Fr. Edmund Shipp kindly drove across the bridge to sanctify our wedding anniversary with a spirit-filled mass and house blessing, followed by a little feast prepared by the groom. Fr. Shipp is a heroic figure who always says “Yes!” to God and to his flock when they are in need. For many, many years, he was the spiritual director for Our Lady’s Prayer Group in San Bruno, California, where I played flute and sang alto for nearly twenty years. He also was the priest on our many pilgrimages to Medjugorje, Fatima, Lourdes, Paris, Amsterdam, and Poland.

The holy and joyous event began at 3:00 p.m., the Hour of Mercy, with the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. The altar was set with a treasured table linen from Hong Kong, an inheritance from my favorite mother-in-law. Brass candles were shined, two of which were gifts from Julie Grimm Crow, my childhood friend, in honor of my 1963 shin-ding. My maid-of-honor, Arlene, at our Sacrament of Marriage, was a hard-working guest, along with Nikki, who worked hard setting all things right and singing like an angel at the mass. Special guests were Larry and Donene, who had been a faithful member of the prayer group for years, along with my prayer partner, Pat Naidu, and her famous sports writer husband, Jack, also from Fiji.

After the mass, Fr. Shipp kindly blessed the entire house of four bedrooms and art studio. Before the summer supper was served, a prayer was said that had been written by Fr. Edward Hays, who wrote “The Passionate Troubadour, A Medieval Novel of St. Francis of Assisi”. Wonderful stories were shared during the meal as to how the three couples had met. The groom had prepared coq au vin and mashed potatoes, while the bride prepared the asparagus and green salad. James had procured the various wines, Italian water, French cheese, a rustic loaf of bread, and not one, but THREE Tira Misu Gateau (cakes) for our dessert.

I was totally stoked from the joyous, holy event and too tired to even open the presents the day after. So, today, after mass, I was astounded to find the following most beautiful gifts brought to our home to celebrate our Iowa wedding 28 years ago! On the day of the anniversary, Nikki arrived with a huge, beautiful, white orchid which now sits in the orchid window in our kitchen. Donene and Larry broke the bank, gifting us with a gorgeous light green clear glass clock made by Danbury, inscribed with the date of our 28th wedding anniversary. I have been sitting in this house since 1997 with not one, but FOUR clocks, none of whom work!! What a beautiful addition to our living room! Pat and Jack gave us a very generous gift certificate to La Paradis & La Patisserie, plus a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts they brought back from their recent trip to Hawaii. Arlene gave us a tile from the Azores from her recent trip to Portugal. Both Arlene and the Naidu’s are having masses said for us for a whole year at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Benet Lake, Wisconsin.

I am astounded with the gratitude I am feeling for having such good friends. I am so thankful for my devoted husband, who now takes such good care of me with my current handicap.

May the good Lord shed His face upon Fr. Shipp, Arlene, Nikki, Liza, (who had to work at Stanford at the hospital on the day of our Domestic Church celebration), Larry, Donene, Pat, Jack, and my beloved husband, James. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, my friends. Thank you, Fr. Shipp! Thank you, Blessed Mother, for making this day so special.

Love always, Susanna Maria Carol Ax

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43rd ANNIVERSARY

Tomorrow, June 18, 2019, is the 43rd anniversary of my initiation into the Sufi Order of the West. It happened in the redwood forest outside the coastal town of Mendocino, California. I had spent nearly sixteen years seeking God after my arrival in San Francisco in the summer of June, 1960. Although I had been raised as a Protestant at the Zion Reformed Church in Garner, Iowa, I had lost my faith, due to sin. When I arrived in San Francisco at the age of twenty, I sampled all the Protestant churches in the City, including the Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill when I lived just a block from the Cathedral. After trying out all the Protestant churches, I attended the Temple Immanuel on Lake Street, the Jewish temple. Then, I attended the Sri Orobindo Ashram on Fulton Street every Sunday for three years. There, I learned the importance of meditation. Then, I attended zazen and the lecture every Saturday at the San Francisco Zen Center on Page Street every Saturday for a number of years, along with sesshins at Green Gulch, classes of Japanese tea ceremony taught by the widow of Suzuki Roshi, and several retreats at Tassajara. In the meantime, I attended the ceremonies of Kalu Rimposhe and the Karmapa of the Tibetan Buddist religion. I attended retreats in Berkeley at the Tibetan center and received a blessing from the Dali Lama on two occasions.
Finally, after attending a retreat with the Tibetan lama in Berkeley, I told him to let me know the next time they were hosting an art related event. So, one day, he called me on Wolf Back Ridge in Sausalito, California, where I was living at the time. He said that they were organizing an art exhibit of Tibetan tankas at Grace Cathedral and could use my help. My job was to monitor the “gate” as people entered. During the three or four day event, I met a student of Eastern religions. He gave me the phone number of Wali Ali’s wife and said that my daughter might enjoy the summer camp. I carried that phone number in my wallet for two years. Then, one night after a concert of the Sufi choir, I received a ride home from a Sufi. I mentioned the phone number I had been given and was told that there would be a Sufi Camp in Mendocino in June.
I called the number and registered for the camp. I also invited Ann, our former neighbor, to come with us to give my daughter company. Wavy Gravy was the leader of the children’s camp. While sitting in a grassy meadow listening to Pir Vilayat Khan lead the singing of various chants and songs from the religions of the world, I felt like I was back in the days when Christ walked the earth.
In those days, Pir would give darsshan to every 200 to 300 campers, one-by-one.
Later, I learned he had many gifts of the spirit, including bi-location, when he appeared in the garden when I was going through a hard patch on a retreat in San Francisco. Much later, I learned he had the gift of healing, as witnessed by Asha who saw Pir pray over me at a retreat outside Santa Barbara after I returned from India where I had been hospitalized with Gillian-Barre Syndrome. He also had many other gifts, with an amazing ability to inspire and transform his students. He taught us many modes of meditation, developed in me the grace to forgive, led us to states of joy and peace, to name just a few. He foretold us that my daughter would be gifted in one of the arts and that I was to expose her to high quality arts. (That all came true!}
I asked to be initiated on the vigil of Pir’s birthday, June 19, 1976. By July, 1976, a month later, I was on a plane, flying to Paris via Amsterdam in order to attend his Sufi camp at Chamonix, France in the high Alps. Afterwards, I attended his summer school in Suresnes, outside Paris. This became a way of life. Every three months I would hear an inner calling to be with Pir. I would fly to where ever he was teaching, for example, Florida, Tuscon, Arizona, Vermont, New York City, New Lebanon, New York multiple times, Santa Fe, New Mexico, San Francisco, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, San Anselmo, CA, the high desert outside of Los Vegas, Nevada, back to Paris for two more summer schools, back to the Alps for several more Zenith camps, Nevada City, CA twice, another camp in Mendocino, Lake Tahoe, CA, five pilgrimages to India, and Santa Cruz, CA, my last retreat with Pir.
In 1984, at my second Sufi camp in Mendocino, I received a message from the Virgin Mary via a Sufi-Catholic visionary. I began attending daily mass and the rest is history. I entered the Roman Catholic Church on April 11, 1998, the anniversary of my first confirmation in Garner, Iowa, during the Year of the Holy Spirit. Since that time, I have taught in an Islamic School in Silicon Valley, a Catholic school in Hayward, CA, a Hebrew school in Palo Alto, a Montessori school in Terra Linda, CA, and a French school in San Anselmo, CA. I also worked for the Jesuit Community at JSTB in Berkeley, sold Catholic books at Glad Tidings in Pleasanton, CA. I was a member of o.c.d.s. the Order of Carmelites Discalced Secular for the past twenty years, and now am studying the way of the Franciscans.
So, this morning, the vigil of Pir’s birthday, I had a fabulous dream of Pir’s younger son. May God rest the soul of my Sufi teacher, Pir Vilayat Khan. May God greatly bless his younger son whom I haven’t seen since he was a toddler. May God, in His mercy, make His face to shine upon us and give us His peace. Amen

32nd ANNUAL CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC CONVENTION – SANTA CLARA, CA

Through the years, the annual Catholic Charismatic Convention in Santa Clara, California just keeps getting better and better. This year was the best ever! Due to a commitment at my parish, I was unable to attend the entire convention. As usual, I prayed to St. Anthony for a parking space outside the Hyatt Regency. Instead of one parking space, he provided three, two of which were in the disabled parking space and one, which we chose, was in the shade! All praise to God! The Lord graced us with an early check in and so we were able to eat our lunch in our spacious room wonderfully outfitted for the disabled. Thank you, Jesus.

Due to my upcoming Total Consecration to Our Lady on May 31st with preparation for 33 days prescribed by the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort, and the Official Act of Consecration to Mary written by St. Maximilian Kolbe on the day commemorating the Visitation, I needed to go to confession. The line was long, with a lengthy wait. Fr. Anthony from Nigeria heard my confession, and I entered the Exhibit Hall A late, while Bishop Mylo Vergara was already speaking. His talk was entitled “You Are Christ in the World”. It was beautifully illustrated with a power point presentation visible on two large screens. The Bishop has a wonderful sense of humor and the gift of teaching and preaching. He gave a very informative talk about the present day digital age. He included facts and statistics of the use of the Internet and social media of all of the various generations. One of the generations uses the Internet ten hours, on an average, each day! He showed photos of his very young niece using her tablet and smart phone where she learned her nursery rhymes. He demonstrated how Pope Francis uses his Twitter account and how “selfies” with the Bishop are part of the current First Communion and Confirmation! Although he spoke of the addictive nature of all of this, he also seemed to be saying that if we want to evangelize the younger generations, virtually all users of the Internet, we have to meet them where they are, in some cases, ten hours per day! Our job is to go out into the world bringing Christ to the Nations.

Fr. Dave Pivonka, the Franciscan priest who was just appointed president of The Franciscan University in Stuebenville, Ohio, was the next speaker. His talk was entitled “All Things Held Together in Love”. He had a plethora of stories to share based on his multiple pilgrimages and spiritual counseling jobs as a priest. He told the story of Franco, whom he met shortly after the end of the war in Bosnia. Both of his children had been captured. The soldiers captured him, beat him, sliced his throat, and left him for dead on the side of the road. The soldiers later saw him crawling across the road. They stopped their truck and threw him in the back of the truck. Fr. Dave visited him at a refugee camp in Bosnia. He had 2-4 cookies and one beer he had saved all this time, which he shared with the priest. Although there was a priest over a mile away, he had not come to the refugee camp to offer Communion. Franco kept repeating that he was so blessed!!!

Next, Fr. Dave shared his story about his family. He said that we cannot live without hope. When he was five, his mother was diagnosed with MS. Fr. Dave has prayed for her healing for 45-48 years. He quoted Romans 5:1, “Hope does not disappoint.” He said that perseverance produces character and hope. “Such hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured into hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Fr. Dave Pivonka created The Wild Goose Ministry, a 14-part video series which explores what it is to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit. He said that the Papal preacher has summarized the Bible in these words: God is love. Fr. Dave has 19 nieces and nephews, along with numerous grand nieces and nephews.

Fr. Dave then told the story of a woman whom he met while in Beijing, China, who wanted to be baptized. She was a student of art. She realized that art could not feed the poor, and many other things. During her whole life, she had been told that there was no God. After talking with Fr. Dave, she thought, if that is possible, that God is love, that is the purpose of my life.

Fr. Dave said that it is a heresy if we qualify ‘God is love.’ “What is love?” Fr. Dave asked. Do we believe that we are lovable? We are created in the image of God. We are fundamentally good, broken, but fundamentally good. Our homework was to look into a mirror and say, “I was made in the image and likeness of God.” When we are able to love those who drive us crazy, that will make us holy. Fr. Dave began to send cards to his enemy. As a result, she became a person to him.

Saturday evening, Father Dave Pivonka celebrated Holy Mass, followed by the healing service. During the homily, Fr. Dave spoke of a Franciscan nun who had a DNA test which revealed that she was one per cent Jewish. Previously, she only knew that she was part German and part Italian, knowing nothing of a Jewish heritage. After the DNA test, she proclaimed, “I am one percent Jewish because I receive Jesus every day!”

Fr. Dave Pivonka gave his final talk at the convention at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. He shared with us his experience on the Camino of St. James, the St. James de Compostella, the sacred 500 mile walking pilgrimage from France to Spain. They weighed his backpack and said it was too heavy. He began to obsess about his backpack. Each item seemed to be essential. What could he give up? Then, he turned to us and asked us, “What do I need to give up? “What do I need to renounce?”

Perhaps we have an image of God that is not true that we need to give up. For example, maybe we think of God as a kind of Santa Claus. Or, perhaps, we think of Him as a kind of slot machine. For example, put in so many coins of prayers and take out the answer to your prayers.

Fr. Dave began to think God was “mean at the age of eight. He had prayed to God to have something happen to his brother so that his brother would know that what he was doing was wrong. Soon after, his brother had his scull broken when a car fell on him as he was doing repairs on the car in a car repair shop.

Fr. Dave asked us to pray for Truth and pray for Light. He asked us not create God in our own image. He said that God is for you, [not against you.] Pray: “God, free us from the lies that get in the way between you and us.” We treat sin like braking a law. We go to confession to pay the fine. But, it is personal! We break the heart of God! After he heard confession and gave absolution, the penitent said, “Dave, it can’t be that easy!” Fr. Dave replied, “It was not easy!!! It took the suffering on the cross!”

We need to embrace being human by rooting out sin. The saint keeps getting up after she falls. Fr. Dave walked the Via Della Rosa in the Holy Land. Jesus was with him as he walked. He told Jesus all his sins. He asked Jesus, “Why do you keep on walking?” Jesus answered him by saying, “Because I love you.”

Bishop Mylo Vergara, D.D., of the Pasig Diocese in the Philippines gave the 11:00 a.m. talk. The title of the talk was “Exploring the Gifts of Pentecost”. He quoted Acts 2:2-4, “…and suddenly….tongues of fire… they began to speak in different tongues……” He quoted Pope Benedict XVI as he spoke at the World Youth Day in 2008, Acts 4:20. Then, he quoted Pope Francis as he spoke on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018, all quotes beautifully displayed on the overhead screens.

Then the vibrant Bishop asked us if we have become bold men and women proclaiming the faith? He said that our second Pentecost is our Confirmation, which is the full out-pouring of the Holy Spirit as given originally to the Apostles at the first Pentecost in the upper room. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it [the Catechism], makes us proclaim, “Abba, Father!” It unites us more firmly to Christ. We call Christ our brother. Confirmation strengthens the gifts of the Holy Spirit. NEVER be ashamed of the cross!!! Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace.

Then, Bishop Mylo told a story about a church that had been invaded by bats. After complaints, the Bishop hired an exterminator. It had NO effect! However, the following day, the parish was totally free of bats. They had all left the church! The people came to the Bishop and asked him, “What did you do?” He said, “I baptized and confirmed the bats and they left the church!”

After a quote from Pope Francis to the Youth, he outlined the signs of confirmation: He said that a sign of confirmation is to give off the aroma of Christ. The Holy Charism used in the anointing has an aroma of Christ. Here are the signs of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit after Confirmation, as outlined by Bishop Mylo:

1. The Spirit of Wisdom to know God.
2. The Spirit of understanding, to penetrate the core of the spiritual life.
3. The Spirit of right judgment, to chose right from wrong.
4. The Spirit of courage and fortitude.
5. The Spirit of knowledge, to say things from God’s point of view.
6. The Spirit of reverence and internal piety, total reliance on God and
humility.
7. The Spirit of holy fear in God’s presence. Thus, it is a sense of awe and
wonder and a joyful awareness of God’s wonder. (Pope Benedict XVI) Recall
Moses in front of the Burning Bush with fear and trembling. The fear
fascinated him towards the Lord.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1633, the qualities of Christian witness include:
1. Personal awareness of Christ in daily life
2.
3. Student of the Scriptures
4. Leadership qualities of honesty
5. Communication skills needed to share the Gospel via these skills
6. Suffer with the Kingdom of God
(May 20, 2018, Pentecost Prayer of Pope Francis.)

The Bishop asked us to ponder the following questions:
1. What qualities of the Holy Spirit do I appreciate in my life?
2. What qualities of Christian witness can I best live out as a Soldier of Christ?

The final talk before the closing Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was by Deacon Steve Greco, the very anointed deacon from the Diocese of Orange. Deacon Steve Greco has a weekly show on Relevant Radio called “Empowered by the Spirit”. The title of his talk was “God Has Something to Say; Can He Use You to Say It?” Deacon Steve owns twenty books by St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta and reads them continuously.

Deacon Steve quoted a series of scriptures:

1. Roman 8:14 – “…are children of God.”
2. Ephesians 1:3-5 – “….every spiritual blessing…”
3. John 15:15-16 – “…the vine and the branches…..I chose you!…”
4. Matthew 18 – “..make disciples of all nations….”

Every second of every day is important! God said to Deacon Bill Brennan before he began his talk: Roman 10. “The most important thing you can do is to open yourself up to God’s love.” We are love. Jer. 1:5 What is your purpose in life? “..to love and be loved.” Isiah: “…you are precious in my eyes…” (These were messages chosen at random on retreat.)

Deacon Steve was on an airplane, reading the Bible, Romans 6:4. God told the deacon to give it to the stewardess. (She had been having dreams to go back to the Church.)

Is Jesus REAL to you? Romans 20:28. You have responsibility to say the truth about Jesus Christ to your children and grandchildren in love. Your story is the fifth Gospel. Tell your story!

God wants to say to people, “…You are not alone…” Is. 34
Matt. 7:7 “…ask and it will be given to you….”
Heb. 4:16 – “…let us constantly go to the Throne of Grace….”
Heb. 10:36 – “…you need endurance to do the will of God…”

Then, Deacon Steve told us how to pray:

A = Adoration, praise Him. Read Litany of Praise often.
C = Contrition – often confess sins of omission.
C = Consolation – if you choose God
D = Desolation = if you do NOT choose God
E = Examination of conscience – do each evening, (C & D as taught by
St. Ignatius.)
T = Thanks to the Lord for everything! 1 Thes. 5:18; Romans 8:28
S = Supplication – prayers of petition

Discipline of Prayer is essential. Teach people to pray. Pray one hour each day, with one half hour just listening to God. Tell people that Our Father wants to make us whole and to heal us. Is. 3:55 “By His stripes, we were healed.”
God healed a woman using Deacon Steve who had just been in a car wreck. Deacon prayed over her and she was healed. She told him that the deacon was praying the Our Father in Aramaic, [when he prayed over her in tongues].

When was the last time you invited someone to church? When was the last time you reached out to newcomers? Invite people to your prayer meetings. Bloom where you are planted. Go to Church frequently and get involved. Invite people for coffee after Mass. God gives you the gift of the Holy Spirit, so teach the people about the Holy Spirit. Pray over people. Then, Deacon Steve said a VERY anointed prayer: “I ask you, God, to fill this person with the Holy Spirit!!! Tell the person that they are loved by God unconditionally. God wants us to know that we are not alone. God wants to love us and wants to heal us. Then, Deacon Steve commissioned us to go out and spread the Word and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The 32nd annual Catholic Charismatic Convention ended with a beautiful, grace-filled Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Rev. Raymund Reyes, the Archbishop’s Liaison to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Spiritual Director of NCRC, along with being the Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese of San Francisco and pastor of St. Augustine Church in South San Francisco. The closing mass included glorious music, singing, worship, preaching,homily, proclamation of The Word of God, and much thanksgiving for all the graces received.

Thanks go out in appreciation to the committee that organized the convention, the priests, deacons, Bishops, music ministries: Holy Spirit Music Ministry, Great Harvest, Good News Choir, Children of God, The Lord’s Flock, Siloam Music Ministry, and God Sent Music Ministry, along with the Prayer Ministry, the Children’s Ministry, the Youth Ministry, the Hispanic Ministry, and the Vietnamese Ministry.

As the glorious praise and worship event ended, a gentle sprinkle of rain graced the area outside the arena. May God bless all those who worked so hard to make the convention the best ever. May God in His bounty, fill the coffers to defray the expense of such a holy event held in the middle of Silicon Valley. Jesus, I trust in You. All praise to God. Amen.

Coast-to-Coast & World-Wide Total Consecration & True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by St. Louis de Montfort

Recently, the Flame of Love Family, along with the Marian Father from the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA. have announced the Total Consecration and True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Louis de Montfort or from the “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Fr. Michael Gaitley. The consecration preparation begins April 28, 2019, The Feast of The Divine Mercy, the Sunday after Easter.

In order to receive a plenary indulgence on this coming Sunday, with the forgiveness of ALL sins and ALL punishment, one needs to go to confession, attend mass and receive Communion on the Feast of The Divine Mercy or on the Vigil, venerate the icon of The Divine Mercy, and offer up the usual prayers for a plenary indulgence which includes praying for the intentions of the Holy Father, Pope Francis. Now, this year, on the Feast of Divine Mercy, we are also asked to begin the preparation for the Total Consecration using one of the two book titles given above.

St. Louis de Montfort himself prophesied regarding “True Devotion to Mary”: “I clearly foresee that raging beasts shall come in fury to tear with their diabolical teeth this little writing and him whom the Holy Ghost has made use of to write it – or at least to smother it in the darkness and silence of a coffer, that it may not appear. They shall even attack and persecute those who shall read it and carry it out in practice.”

This prediction was carried out and filled to the letter! Throughout the whole 18th century, the spiritual sons of St. Louis de Montfort were persecuted by the Jansenists for their zeal in spreading this devotion.” The precious manuscript of de Montfort remained hidden during the French Revolution and was found in a chest of old books by a Montfort Father.

St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort was born on January 13, 1673 in Brittany, France. He died on April 28, 1716, his feast day and the day to begin the preparation for the Total Consecration. Pope John Paul II had this to say about de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary”. “The reading of this book was a decisive turning-point in my life. I say “turning point” , but in fact it was a long inner journey… This “perfect devotion” is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption. It is from Montfort that I have taken my motto: “Totus tuus”; (I am all thine).”

Here are the five characteristics of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin:

1. Interior: True Devotion to Our Lady is interior; that is, it comes from the mind and the heart. It flows from the esteem we have for her, the high idea we have formed of her greatness, and the love which we have for her.

2. Tender: It is a tender, full of confidence in her, like a child’s confidence in his loving mother. This confidence makes the soul have recourse to her in all its bodily and mental necessities, with much simplicity, trust, and tenderness. It implores the aid of its good Mother at all times, in all places, and above all things.

3. Holy: True devotion to Our Lady is holy. It leads the soul to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of the Blessed Virgin: her humility, faith, obedience, prayer, mortification, purity, charity, patience, sweetness, and wisdom.

4. Constant: True Devotion to Our Lady is constant. It confirms the soul in good, and does not let it easily abandon its spiritual exercises. A person truly devout to our Blessed Lady is neither changeable, irritable, scrupulous, nor timid.

5. Disinterested: True Devotion to Our Lady is disinterested. It inspires the soul not to seek itself but only God, and God in His Holy Mother….exclusively because she deserves to be served and God alone in her…solely because she is so worthy of love.

The first period of 12 days is devoted to freeing ourselves from the spirit of the world. The second period of three weeks is first, devoted to the knowledge of ourselves; secondly, devoted to the knowledge of the Blessed Virgin, and thirdly, devoted to Jesus Christ.

St. Louis de Montfort’s teachings of True Devotion to Mary consists in making an Act of Consecration by which we give to Jesus through Mary, all that we are and all that we have, past, present, and future. Then, after that, to do all that we do through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary. We give ourselves to Mary entirely in order to belong entirely to Jesus by her.

We give ourselves entirely to Mary. We give her our body and soul, all our possessions both material and spiritual. We give her our prayers, indulgences, graces, and sacrifices. We give her our material possessions: our car, house, television, clothes, etc. This is the giving part. The living part is more difficult. We give our body to Mary, to do as Mary would do. Our eyes are now Mary’s. We no longer listen to dirty jokes. Our tongue is Mary’s. We no longer use bad language nor repeat gossip. We place the eternal destiny of our souls in the hands of Mary. We drive with Mary in her car. We do not waste her money. We dress as she would dress.

So, may the Holy Spirit guide you to pick up St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary” or Fr. Michael Gaitley’s “33 Days to Morning Glory” and begin your preparation for the Total Consecration on the Feast of The Divine Mercy, April 28th, 2019, the anniversary of the death of St. Louis de Montfort and his annual feast day.

May the good Lord bless and keep you. Lord, have mercy upon us and on the whole world. Jesus, I trust in You. Blessed Mother, pray for us. Amen

TWENTY-FIRST ANNIVERSARY

Today, April 11, 2019, is the twenty-first anniversary of my entering the Roman Catholic Church. More importantly, for the Christian world, it is the Feast Day of St. Stanislaus, martyr. He was born on July 26, 1030 and was of noble birth. He studied in Gniezno, Poland and probably in Paris. While Bishop of Krakow, he excommunicated the Polish king, Boleslaw II, the Bold. Stanislaus was accused of treason. The royal court found him guilty and sentenced him to dismemberment. He died on April 11, 1079, his Feast Day, and is buried at Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland. He is the patron saint of Poland.

When Pope John Paul II became Pope, during his inauguration in Rome, he said that he wanted to return home to Poland for the ninth centenary of the death of St. Stanislaw. (In Poland’s liturgical calendar, the Feast of St. Stanislaus is celebrated on May 8.) The communist government apposed his return on this important date, but agreed to a visit in June. Thus, the Polish Pope was scheduled to arrive in his homeland and celebrate his first public mass on the Vigil of Pentecost, the great feast marking the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles in the form of “tongues of fire”.

Back in Poland, the Polish Communist Party sent out a secret set of instructions to teachers in the country’s schools, regarding the Pope’s upcoming visit:

“The Pope is our enemy…..Due to his uncommon skills and great sense of humor he is dangerous, because he charms everyone, especially journalists. Besides, he goes for cheap gestures in his relations with the crowd, for instance, puts on highlander’s hat, shakes all hands, kisses children, etc………It is modeled on American presidential campaigns…….”
“He is dangerous, because he will make St. Stanislaw the patron of the opposition to the authorities and a defender of human rights. Luckily we managed to maneuver him out of the date of May 8…..Because of the activation of the Church in Poland our activities designed to atheize the youth not only cannot diminish but must intensely develop….In this respect all means are allowed and we cannot afford any sentiments.” [p. 304, Witness to Hope – The Biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel.]

So, my hero and all-time favorite Pope, St. John Paul II, returned to his homeland as the first Polish Pope and the rest is history!!!

I visited Poland twice, first, before my conversion, when Poland was still under communist rule. We visited the beautiful university in Krakow. We felt the oppression and poverty of the communist country. My sister-in-law’s maid had to stand in a long line to buy a loaf of bread. The grocery stores had little to sell. We, however, ate well as my brother-in-law was stationed in Warsaw as part of the U.S. State Department and had access to the PX. When we traveled by train from Warsaw to Auschwitz concentration camp, I was sure a spy was sitting in our cabin of the train. I was also sure that our hotel room was bugged!

My second visit to Poland was as different as night is to day. Poland was no longer under communist rule. I was now a new Catholic. Now, Poles were able to practice their Roman Catholic faith in public, not underground. I was blessed with multiple miracles in Czestochowa, home of the Black Madonna. (John Paul II, at his inauguration, stated that he wanted to return to Poland as Pope on the 600th anniversary of the arrival of the icon of the Black Madonna in Czestochowa in 1982 and the St. Stanislaw anniversary in 1979.)

So, twenty-one years have passed since I wore my little white dress down the street at St. Clements to receive my First Communion and Confirmation, Through these twenty years, I have been greatly blessed, most importantly with the GIFT OF FAITH that I had lost due to sin!!!! Then, came the blessing of joining Our Lady’s Prayer Group in San Bruno, California, where I played flute and sang alto in the choir for nearly twenty years. Through that association, I was granted, through the grace of God and His Holy Mother, seven pilgrimages to Medjugorje, one pilgrimage to Poland, a pilgrimage to Amsterdam to Our Lady of All Nations, and to Rue de Bac where Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Labore in Paris. In addition to the preceding pilgrimages, I was granted a pilgrimage to Lourdes and to Fatima.

Besides the many pilgrimages, I worked for the rector of the Jesuit Commuunity of JSTB in Berkeley, California; sold Catholic books at Glad Tidings in Pleasanton, California; joined the secular Carmelites, o.c.d.s., first in Berkeley, then Christo Rey in San Francisco, and finally at the Infant Jesus Carmelite o.c.d.s. community in Santa Clara, California. I took multiple retreats and attended multiple conferences with the Carmelites, the priests of the Charismatic Renewal, The Divine Mercy, etc., etc. I started the celebration of the Feast of The Divine Mercy with Fr. Fili at All Saints in Hayward, California, and founded a Cenacle of the Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy. In 2005, I began the devotion to The Direction For Our Time, whereby I am currently hosting a monthly prayer meeting. More recently, I initiated a prayer meeting devoted to the Flame of Love, based on the teaching revealed in the spiritual diary of Elizabeth Kindelmann of Budapest, Hungary.

With most of my family either 7,000 or 2,000 miles away from our home, I have developed another family here in California at Our Lady of New Clairvaux, the Trappist Monastery in Vina, California, where we celebrate with the Trappist monks the Easter Tridium and Christmas each year.

So, God has been good to me these past twenty-one years. He gave me His mother, who nudged me out of my veil of sin when I prayed my very first rosary in Mendocino, California at a Sufi Camp. Then, he sent me to Foster City, California, where I met my spiritual director, Fr. Thomas Timmins, the Holy Ghost father extraordinaire. Next, he led me to Our Lady’s Prayer Group and more spiritual direction from Fr. Ronald Burke, now deceased.

All gratitude must go to God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, Our Lady, and all the saints and angels of God, not to mention the multiple HOLY priests who have guided me on my way.

Jesus, I trust in You.
In gratitude,
Susanna Maria Ax, ocds

THE WHISTLE BLOWER

My life of 78 years has become a series of whistle blowing. The first whistle blowing happened at the San Francisco Art Institute on Russian Hill in San Francisco. This art school was founded as a fine art institution, not a commercial art school. In the 1970’s I noticed that many of my favorite professors were being fired. A search went out for a new head of the school. The man chosen had an agenda to transform the school of fine art into a commercial art school. I helped to lead the resistance. An all-school assembly was announced. The professors of art were under a gag-rule and kept their silence, in order not to jeopardize their jobs.

In the middle of the meeting, I jumped over the chairs in the auditorium and went to the microphone on the stage. I defended the good professors of art whose jobs were on the line and I defended the philosophy of the school, that of a fine arts institution. Somehow, my few but spirit-filled words gave the art professors courage to stand up and go to the microphone. Eventually, the new president of the school was fired. The school had to buy him off to avoid a law suit.

My next venture took place at the St. Francis Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco in 1977. My spiritual director of the time had flown in from Paris to conduct a two-day spiritual retreat. During that weekend, the Sufi teacher announced that he could no longer accept a student, (mureed), who took illegal drugs. The use of grass and other illegal drugs was rampant in the San Francisco Bay Area at that time in the 1970’s. A pro-drug meeting was held that evening somewhere near Silver Street, and the two Sufi orders split. As it turned out, I was the only mureed in San Francisco who stood firm accepting Pir’s edict. Then three mureeds were brought to San Francisco from Upstate New York to open a new Sufi center in the Avenues that was loyal to Pir and his no-drugs edict. In the beginning, I was the only mureed who heard gatha papers there each Thursday evening.

My next battle ground was a few beautiful redwood trees in Nevada City that were going to be cut down in order to build some condos. On one of my four radio shows, I played a tape defending the redwood trees. The upshot was that I was kicked off the air.

March forward to Hayward, California in the year of 1998. The Blessed Mother gave a visionary at our prayer group that we were not to celebrate Halloween. So, I posted the message from heaven on the door of my sixth grade class in a Catholic school. It was ripped off the door and given to the principal by a co-teacher. My plan was to have my sixth graders dress up as their favorite saint and to collect pennies for the poor. That was the beginning of my short-lived Catholic school teaching career. Later in the year, one of my students cheated twice on two different religion tests. I took the evidence to the principal and the councilor. The parents of the girl who had cheated on her test organized the parents in an attempt to get me fired. The stress working under these conditions was so severe that I landed in Kaiser with chest pain. I resigned rather than continue to compromise my health,

Fast forward to the 21st century. I landed a job as a receptionist and secretary to the rector at a very respected religious community in Berkeley, California. I noticed a misuse of money as I sat at my desk. I reported the situation to the acting rector and then the heat was put on by a secular employee to get me fired. Due to the stress, I resigned.

Next, I became an acting member of Wing’s, a Catholic organization for women. It was the time of the first election of Obama. I had participated in the Walk for Life in San Francisco. One of the speakers was an abortion survivor. She walked with a limp and had other health issues. She told us how Obama had voted for abortion as a senator. The custom was to leave the child who survived an abortion on the table, left to die. So, I quoted a lay theologian and his documented views as to why a Catholics could not vote for this young senator from Illinois, nor for any pro-choice candidate. I sent the article I wrote, to all the members of my Wing’s community. During the next meeting, the president took off her jacket and revealed to us a big picture of Obama on her t-shirt. Next, I received a phone call saying that I was under a gag-rule, and was not to use any of the member’s e-mail addresses to send messages. Of course, I left Wing’s.

Then came the time of the campaigning for the election of Clinton or Trump. I had been reading for years messages given to a visionary outside Cleveland, Ohio, at an ecumenical shrine call Holy Love. Messages were received repeatedly about the political situation in the U.S. I sent the most important messages regarding the election to many, many people, including my secular religious order. I got a very strong push-back from three of the people of power in the secular order. From that day on, I had a Scarlet Letter on my back, but this one said, “Trump Supporter”, in the minds of those who apposed Trump.

Then, I read a blog associated with the same order that said if we were Catholic, we had to support the illegal immigrants. I wrote in the comment section that I respectfully disagreed.

Then, I saw an ever growing grabbing for power within this secular order. When I first joined it, the community had a fabulous reputation as the very best community in all the Western States. Quite miraculously, there was very little or no in-fighting and jockeying for power. The presidents and the first spiritual director when I first joined were all pillars of humility.

Now, I am on the firing line again, or at least on a hot seat. I voiced my views to a trusted spiritual director, who forced me to share my message to his successor. The bottom line is that the word got out in the grapevine and now my life, once again, is very uncomfortable. Trusted friends have booted me from my humble assignment, under the direction of those in power.

In the past, whenever I speak out, the upshot is I get the ax or resign. God will help me discern His will for me in this present fiasco.

In the world of politics, whistle blowers are sometimes mysteriously found dead. No, I am not dead, but only suffering from apiritual warfare and a mighty big cold-flu invading our communities.

BLESSED CLELIA MERLONI

BLESSED CLELIA MERLONI

Today, November 3, 2018, Mother Clelia Merloni was declared Blessed in Rome. She was born in 1861 and died in 1930. She lived with her family in San Remo, Italy and died in Rome. She used her inheritance from her father to found an orphanage. While a member of a religious order, she became seriously ill. She prayed to the Lord and said that if He healed her, she would found her own order. She was healed and founded the order of the Apostles of the Heart of Jesus. There are over 1,000 members throughout the world. At one point, she was band from her own order. She forgave and lived a contemplative life with many sufferings, helping those in need.
A doctor from Brazil was dying from Guillian Barre Syndrome. The intercession of Clelia Merloni was requested for his healing. A relic, (a thread from her habit), was put in a glass of water, which he was given to drink, prior to which he had lost all ability to swallow. He was able to swallow the water. Then, he was able to swallow more liquids. When the doctor arrived the next morning, expecting to find him dead, he was sitting up in bed and talking, totally healed.

In the 1980’s I suffered from Guillian Barre Syndrome, while on a pilgrimage to India. I was hospitalized for a month in New Delhi and later returned to Pennsylvania, then Iowa, then, San Francisco, and finally to Nevada City, CA. Guillian Barre Syndrome has no cure. It is a paralysis of the body. It began on my face and traveled throughout the body. I was completely healed. This occurred before my conversion. I prayed to Hazrat Inayat Khan at three in the morning during a tough night at the hospital. I wrote poetry while in an iron lung. During a Sufi camp outside Santa Barbara, a Southern California initiate of the Sufi Order of the West saw Pir Vilayat Khan healing me with his hands.
Thank you, God for my healing of Guillian Barre Syndrome. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for my conversion which began at the Sufi camp in Mendocino, CA in 1984 when I prayed my first rosary. Blessed Clelia Merloni, please pray for me, for the healing of the arthritis in both knees so that I can walk again normally.
Jesus, King of Mercy, pray for us.
Susanna Maria Ax, ocds