Short Dream

  • Open a bookstore called Our Lady of Grace

One night shortly after becoming Catholic I had that dream.  It wasn’t complicated to interpret; I didn’t need counseling or a dream interpreter, just faith to believe that it was my calling.  The part that needed interpretation was the name.  My knowledge of the 2,000 year old traditions of the Catholic Church was very limited.  My dear friend Susan told me I knew Our Lady of Grace long before joining the church; it’s a special name for Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In the days that followed the dream would not go away; humanly speaking there was no way it would come to be.  There was a small savings that was available, but far short of the $100,000 to make it all happen.  I needed that savings to survive the state cut-back of the program I was teaching.

A friend was sent to me who had vast knowledge of bookstores and Catholic retailing; she came to mentor me on my journey.  Celeste encouraged me to go to a trade show to get familiar with the retailing industry.

On the way to Chicago I had sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to buy $5,000 worth of books.  However, thinking, this is an exploratory excursion not a buying spree. Besides, we have no store, very little money, and you’ve chosen someone who knows nothing about Catholicism.  At the trade show I bought $2,500 worth of books and returned home somewhat sane; parting with all of my savings was not going to happen.  Our pastor heard where I had gone and asked me if I had brought back the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  “Catechism, Father?  What’s that?  “Conny it’s the first time in 400 years the church has revised and reprinted her teachings.”  Without advanced thinking on my part, $2,500 worth of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was promptly ordered.   Selling books began out of the trunk of my car after week-end Masses.

A gentleman named Wally came into my life; he was the dentist of a successful business man who wanted to see a Catholic bookstore in town; Wally became the connector.  In 1994 I walked out of Domino’s Farms in Ann Arbor with 450 sq. ft. of store space, far better than the trunk of my car.  At that time Domino’s was a typical gray corporate building off the beaten path, for a retail business to be established there seemed ludicrous to me.  The location was hidden in what seemed like the catacombs.  However, I remember leaving the building and the Lord saying, “I will bring the people.”

And He did!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Mary

  • You can meet her

This prayer changed my life:  Jesus, I’d like to meet your mother.

Why, you wonder.  Why not just talk to your own mother.  That’s easy to answer, we did not get along and I needed a woman in my life who knew me.

My experiential revelation in prayer was the overwhelming protective love the Father and the Son have for Mary, it is awesome.  This very same love they have for me and for you.  ASK,  SEEK,  and WAIT.  In succeeding days I prayed that the Lord would prepare my heart to meet his mother.

One morning the blessed mother said to me, “I always lead people to my son.”  These were freeing words because I falsely thought Catholics worshiped Mary; I just wanted to meet her.  In the days that followed Mary had many things to teach me as a woman who was full of feelings and thoughts of unworthiness, inadequacies, and insecurities.  It’s hard to face the day when bombarded by lies from the evil one in one form or another; I wanted to know myself.

A favorite story of mine was when Mary said she was going to take me shopping.  I have always wanted a personal stylist because it is not one of my strengths.  About three months later I found myself in Miami on an unplanned shopping spree with my sister-in-law, who has all the talents a woman needs.  We were, I should say, she was showing me what I would look best wearing.  We even got into make-up, ear-piercing, and accessories, all of which I hope would not turn me into a five-hour let’s get up and get ready for work routine.  She did have to take a few short cuts.  Needless to say, we had a grand time and a full day.  Just as we were about to exit this elegant store the blessed mother said to me, “See, I took you shopping.”

Shortly after this shopping spree I found myself on a personal retreat in Scottsdale, Arizona at a Protestant sisterhood dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus.  While on retreat Mary spoke again.

“My daughter, I never led, I was a model for others to follow.  You see, whoever follows and believes my son allows him to lead in all matters of life.  My daughter, you have been made for your own purposes for him.  Do not let the evil one torment you with lies of unworthiness.  You have a mission and a call from him as I did, all my daughters do.  Do everything he tells you to do and you will become a well-spring of joy.”

These two particular encounters were significant in healing my relationship with my own mother and helped me to embrace my womanhood. Our blessed mother is faithful to us as women in the world we find ourselves today.

“Do whatever he tells you.”  John 2:5 (RSV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Child’s Dream

  • Is waiting on the sidelines

When my mother was a child her mother forbid her to go to church, especially a Catholic Church.  Why?  Who knows, we are a motley crew of people.

One day her best friend asked her to go to church, a Catholic Church.  My Mom told me, “When I walked into the church and sat down, I knew Jesus was there and I wanted to become Catholic”.  For those not familiar with Catholic practices, Jesus is always present in the tabernacle; that is what my mother had sensed.

Time went on, World War II was in full bloom and Mom volunteered to help at the USO for service men and their families; she met her future husband in the process, my Dad.  Mom had fallen in love with a Lutheran and knew when they married she would become Lutheran not Catholic; together they would raise two children.

One day the daughter, that’s me, announced she was going to join the Catholic Church.  What a surprise to the family and a shock to my father.  My only response was thinking: this to shall pass and all will hopefully be well one day.

My brother and I lived many miles away from our parents and could not give them the physical help they needed in their waning years.  My Dad had made provision for he and Mom to reside in an assisted living situation in the town they lived; my brother and I were thankful.

On one of my visits to their new home, my mother tells me: “I want to die Catholic.”  Personally, I was shocked; I did not know all that I’ve shared with you so far.  My response was, “You need to talk to Dad about that decision.”

Up to this point in my life I had been Catholic for about 10 years and Dad said to Mom, “I see Conny has not gone off the deep end, so you can become Catholic.”  I don’t know whose heart exploded more joyously mine or Mom’s.

My mother’s dream as a child did not come about until she was 83.  After Dad died my mother lived with me for 5 years and passed away at the age of 90.  I had the privilege of burying her Catholic, her childhood dream fulfilled.