At long last, Monsignor and his faithful altar servant strode back in my direction. Positioned several feet behind the last row, I prayed the sprinkled blessings would reach little Pio and me. Then, to my amazement, Father not only hit my target, but he brushed passed and pushed open the heavy, wooden doors behind me which led to the community room. While most priests might have contained their ministry to inside of the sanctuary space, he recognized there were sheep beyond the confines and, like the Good Shepherd, he sought them out.
Arriving at our one night accommodations, we were happy to traipse our belongings from the van to the hotel suite. Thank goodness for those luggage trolleys that are just big enough to contain 7 backpacks, 6 sleeping bags, 2 or 3 miscellaneous bags, one suitcase and a pack-and-play. After a meal of fast food, our family (minus our traveling eldest son) sang happy birthday to our newly twelve year old daughter as she cut the cake that daddy had smuggled in his car.
The youngest five and I made a thanksgiving stop at the local shrine of St. Gerard (all the more exciting considering we managed to get locked in a courtyard requiring rescue by a couple of funeral directors!) Then, I convinced my brood to belt themselves back in for yet another long ride to St. Padre Pio’s shrine the day after his feast day. Our arrival was divinely timed as we managed to participate in some of the prayer hour in the chapel and receive a blessing with Padre’s glove and holy oil.
Eighteen years ago this month, July 25th 1995, our firstborn son entered the world only to return home on August 21st. His brief life taught us the value of precious time and inspired our openness to life, but as the years passed and the babies kept coming, we began to take for granted that life was a given.
When I miscarried our first sweet little one in between our two youngest, I chalked it up to the inevitable reality of numbers. Which is not to say, I didn’t miss that sweet little soul who passed unseen through me.
But then life turned upside down in July of 2010 when we lost a son in the second trimester. Then another sweet soul passed unseen on All Souls’ Day and another son entered eternal rest in my womb, again in the second trimester, the follow June of 2011. Finally, those five lovely souls were joined by another at Thanksgiving time.
I share all that only so that I can better express my sincere gratitude for this newest blessing of life in our family.
After so many losses, it would have been easy to give into the temptation to despair. It would have been reasonable to have recourse to the infertile times only, so as not to risk further heartache. But God’s Will called us to surrender and to trust all the more.
How many prayers I’ve offered and intercessions I’ve implored, I cannot begin to count. Friends and family wrapped us in their petitions. Padre Pio’s oil was a regular anointing vehicle for crossing my belly and St. Gerard’s cloth spent nights pressed against my expanding skin. And where would I be without my Blessed Mother’s love and support. Truly it felt like this life was guarded by the communion of saints.
Expected to arrive for the Feast of the Transfiguration, our blessing chose instead to make his way into the wide world two and a half weeks early.
Precious Pio Gerard Brelinsky was delivered at home on Saturday, July 20th, 2013 at 3:09am. How fitting that he should come during the hour of mercy. For so great was God’s love and mercy that He answered our prayers in the form of a perfect child, a son.
Every life is sacred and every child
has a purpose in this world which cannot be fulfilled by any other. Honored am I to be entrusted with the privilege of preparing these eight living souls for the Kingdom of their Father. What more noble vocation could I have been called to?
My heart beats with genuine appreciation and thanksgiving for every opportunity for sanctification that God has allowed me, whether it be in joy or in suffering. Praise be to Him from Whom all blessings flow!
|St. Gerard Maiella|
|National Shrine of St. Gerard|
Padre finds me
|shrine of Padre Pio, Barto, PA|
Finally, reaching this second shrine, the Shrine to Padre Pio, we were greeted by a very different setting. Unlike St. Lucy’s church, which shone amidst a tight backdrop of city life, Padre’s shrine seeks to mirror the wide expanse of San Giovanni, the Italian home of the saint. While we sensed the beauty and peace of this holy place, there was also a feeling of loneliness, emptiness. The numerous parking spots unoccupied and spacious grounds mostly vacant. Not unlike the trials which plagued Padre Pio in his lifetime, this shrine site has been the source of controversy and contention between the Church’s shepherds and the devotees who built the pilgrim site. Placing my feet on those grounds felt like an act of solidarity. Holy Mass is currently prohibited at this sacred site, but that doesn’t stop the faithful from worshiping God. In fact, I suppose it simply leads pilgrims to pray all the more fervently for the privilege of one day celebrating there.
Divine Mercy novena