Monday, March 28, 2011

Symbols Remind Us of God's Tremendous Love For Us

What are your favorite reminders?

Enjoy an encore presentation of the following story, from Joseph Karl Publishing's next book, God Moments II: Receiving the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, written and compiled by yours truly, Michele Elena Bondi. The book includes contributions from an absolutely delightful all-star Catholic line-up including Nancy Carabio Belanger, Belinda Bondi, Andre J. Bottesi, Rejeanne Buckley, Chris Capolino, Sharon Cecil, Maribeth Criscenti, Ellen Gable Hrkach, Gene X. Kortsha, Janet MacKinnon, Tom Mulcahy, Sean McVeigh, Paul A. Ray, Susan Schoenstein, and Jerry Weber. The projected publication date of the book is September1, 2011.

"To possess God, that is the joy of joys." 1
-St. John Vianney

Ten years ago I purchased a ring which very quickly became a symbol of the extraordinarily loving and ever deepening relationship between Jesus and me. I never took the ring off. Never. Often throughout my busy and very challenging days I would glance at the ring representing the most important relationship in my life, so vital to my eternal life, and think fondly of Jesus. Seeing it there on my hand was a very powerful, frequent reminder of how much God loves me and remains with me.

During the Christmas break my children and I went sledding. That day, the snow on the hill had been packed down well by the many people who had gone sledding before we arrived. My ten-year old daughter Alyssa and I got on our tube and began our descent. Immediately I became frightened because straight ahead of us in the distance stood a very large tree. The tree was not typically a concern, but because of the icy condition of the slope we were traveling down the hill much faster than usual. Perhaps we would not veer left on the small hill just in front of the tree as we always had before. To make matters worse, the snow tube rotated on the way down, positioning me backwards and unable to see where we were in proximity to the tree.

The dreaded tree.

Within the three seconds that were available to make a crucial decision as we raced down the hill, I put my hand out to try and slow us down. We hit the small hill in front of the tree and the tube did veer left. When the tube stopped I turned with great relief to look at my daughter, but she was gone. She could see that we were headed right for the tree, and jumped off the tube just before it hit the small hill, and was lying safely in the snow.

I on the other hand had injured a finger on my braking hand, the very one on which I wore my symbolic ring. Although I predicted it would take my finger a long time to heal, I did not think to take the ring off. The next morning the knuckle was very blue and swollen. The ring was way down at the base of my finger and there was hardly any wiggle room left. Praise God the swelling did not cut off the circulation to my finger during the night.

The finger remained swollen for weeks and the ring would not come off. I constantly worried that I would further injure my finger, because there was no room for additional swelling. The whole matter annoyed me tremendously. As soon as it was possible I wrestled the ring off the battered finger and the violated knuckle swelled again. While I was greatly relieved for my finger’s sake, I was very sad to be without my special reminder.

Five months later, the knuckle still had not returned to its original size and I remained unable to wear the ring. While the ring is not a sacramental like the Rosary or my Brown Scapular, it is very special to me because it served for so long and through so much joy and suffering as a beautiful representation of my relationship with Jesus and my fidelity to what He asks of me.

Just after the finger injury, the monstrance pin which I usually wear kept falling off my coat. I lost so many of those pins I stopped counting, and started buying five replacements at a time at Catholic supply stores. That pin gets more comments than any other pin I have ever worn. Some people are drawn in by the beauty of Who the pin represents, without even knowing what a monstrance is. Others recognize the monstrance and are smitten for the same reason, because Jesus loves us and wants to come to every single one of us.

What symbols do you wear to remind you of God's tremendous love and mercy, of Jesus' sacrifice because of His great love for you, of the Virgin Mary's love and intercession on our behalf, and of the angels and saints? They all love us and want to help us know, love, and serve God, and spend forever in His loving Presence.

Have you ever lost your symbols or medals, changed them, or had something happen that made you unable to wear them? God has so much love for us, it is sometimes hard deciding which symbols to choose from among so many! How blessed we are, how unfathomably loved we are!!

One night I was getting ready for bed and reached into my pocket to empty the contents onto the nightstand. I had forgotten what was in my pocket until my hand opened and the treasures were displayed: a Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey badge with a relic, and a rosary that was blessed by the Pope. How delightful! I may not be able to wear my special ring, but have been given even more signs of God's incredible generosity. They are around my neck, in my pockets, in my purse, in my briefcase, all around the house, in my vehicle, and even on my children.

What are your very favorite reminders? Where do you keep them? How have they helped you in your efforts to love and serve God? He loves every single one of us immensely, unconditionally, and eternally, and His proof is all around us!

My knuckle never did return to its original size. So one day Jesus suggested that I have our ring resized. A wonderful, devout jeweler in my town resized it. What a beautiful moment that was when I finally put our ring back on my finger, and there it remains as a reminder of God's unfathomable love for each one of us. 2

~ Michele Elena Bondi
1. Compiled and Arranged by W.M.B., Thoughts of The Cure' D'Ars (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1967), p. 46.
2. Michele Elena Bondi, God Moments II: Receiving the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Rochester, MI: Joseph Karl Publishing, in print), Chapter 1.