The Mother Was Standing

Saint Theodora prayed unceasingly. One of her favorite prayers was the Stabat Mater. The language is somewhat archaic, having been written before the 13th century, but vivid in the emotions experienced by Jesus’ mother, Mary.

Stabat Mater literally means the mother was standing, a reference to Mary’s standing beneath her crucified son. Based on the prophecy of Simeon, who told Mary that a sword would pierce her heart (Luke 2:35), the Stabat Mater describes Mary’s sorrows at the crucifixion and is often associated with the Stations of the Cross. Authorship of this great Latin hymn is uncertain but commonly attributed to Pope Innocent III, St. Bonaventure, and Jacopone da Todi.

The prayer has found its way into numerous musical arrangements. Those by Franz Joseph Haydn are highly regarded.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle


Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,

Stood the mournful mother weeping,

Close to Jesus to the last.


Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,

All his bitter anguish bearing,

Now at length the sword had passed.


Oh how sad and sore distressed

Was that mother highly blessed

Of the sole-begotten one!


Christ above in torment hangs,

She beneath beholds the pangs

Of her dying, glorious son.


Is there one who would not weep

Whelmed in miseries so deep

Christ’s dear mother to behold?


Can the human heart refrain

From partaking in her pain,

In that mother’s pain untold?


Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,

She beheld her tender child,

All with bloody scourges rent,


For the sins of his own nation

Saw him hang in desolation

Till his spirit forth he sent.


O thou mother, fount of love,

Touch my spirit from above.

Make my heart with thine accord:


Make me feel as thou hast felt:

Make my soul to glow and melt

With the love of Christ, my Lord.


Holy mother pierce me through.

In my heart each wound renew

Of my savior crucified.


Let me share with thee his pain,

Who for all our sins was slain,

Who for me in torments died.


Let me mingle tears with thee.

Mourning him who mourned for me,

All the days that I may live.


By the cross with thee to stay,

There with thee to weep and pray,

Is all I ask of thee to give.


Virgin of all virgins best

Listen to my fond request:

Let me share thy grief divine:


Let me, to my latest breath,

In my body hear the death

Of that dying son of thine.


Wounded with his every wound,

Steep my soul till it hath swooned

In his very blood away;


Be to me, O virgin, nigh,

Lest in flames I burn and die,

In his awful judgment day.


Christ, when thou shalt call me hence,

Be they mother my defense,

Be thy cross my victory;


While my body here decays

May my soul thy goodness praise,

Safe in paradise with thee.


V. Pray for us, virgin most sorrowful.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, thy mother, through whose most holy soul, in the hour of thine own passion, the sword of sorrow passed, may intercede for us before, the throne of thy mercy, now and at the hour of our death, through thee, Jesus Christ, savior of the world, who livest and reignest, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.


Posted in Catholic, Christian, Mary, prayer, Religion, Saint, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, Saint Theodora | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breastplate of St. Patrick

Saint Theodora counted on the saints to pray her prayers with her. We can too. Following is a powerful prayer of protection attributed to St. Patrick. Why not call on St. Patrick today, the day we honor him. St. Patrick knew that if we hold Christ in and around us, all will be well.

The Breastplate of St. Patrick

Christ with me, Christ before me,

Christ behind me, Christ in me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ in breadth, Christ in length,

Christ in height,

Christ in the mouth of everyone

who speaks to me,

Christ in the heart of everyone

who thinks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength,

the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness,

Of the Creator of Creation. Amen.

©2015, Mary K Doyle

Posted in Catholic, pray, prayer, Religion, Saint, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Alzheimer’s Journey


If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s not likely you were trained to do so. You dearly love the person you care for and want to provide compassionate care, but you are learning as you go along.

I understand this process because it’s been the path I’ve followed. When my husband, Marshall, received confirmation that his symptoms were indeed representative of Alzheimer’s, I began reading every available resource and seeking guidance from doctors and professional caregivers. Mostly, I learned from personal experience—which the disease offers endless opportunities to do just that—as it necessitates your undivided attention 24 hours a day, day-after-day, often for a decade or more.

My newest book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved, shares my findings. It discusses the most pressing questions on primary caregiver’s minds including: What is the difference between normal aging and Alzheimer’s; What happens next; Why does my love one act so differently at different times; How do I affect their behavior; How do I plan for special events with my love one; Why do I feel such deep, ongoing depression; Why can’t I do things better; How do I handle comments from others who know little of what I am dealing with; What is the cost of care; Where can I turn to for help; and What should I consider when looking for an assisted living home for memory care?

Navigating Alzheimer’s is packed with important information for anyone with a love one with Alzheimer’s especially if they are the primary caregiver. It offers an honest picture of the reality of such intensive caregiving as well as a good dose of hope and support. The format clearly lays out each topic with bulleted lists, charts, and final points to consider at the end of each chapter as well as personal experiences and observations. The book is a valuable resource throughout the Alzheimer’s journey.

You can listen to an interview about Navigating Alzheimer’s on WGN Radio.

(Re-posted from Doyle’s Delights. All of my book reviews are posted on this site.)

Posted in Book Review, Catholic, Christian | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Visual Prayer



Some times are more difficult to pray than others. When we are ill, in physical or emotional pain, grieving, or stressed, concentrating on lengthy prayers can be not only difficult but impossible. However, there are many ways to pray, and Henri Nouwen Illuminated highlights a beautiful combination of one simple thought along with art.


Len Sroka matches his art with sayings from Henri Nouwen. The artwork is a composite of photos blended into images that illuminate Nouwen’s words. Golden rays, clouds, and a sunset pair with the thought, “It is by being awake to this God in us that we can see him in the world around us.”


Chapters include Dare to Be Loved, Come Home, Dare to Be Human, Learn God’s Ways, Dare to Be Useless, Go Deeper, Move to the Center, Live Love, Present the Presence, and Bless the World. Each chapter begins with a brief explanation that sets the tone. In Chapter 8, “Live Love,” we are reminded that the closer we come to God, the closer we come to each other. These prayer-like words are ones to ponder with a visual to touch us emotionally.


Sroka says he considers Henri Nouwen his spiritual older brother. He admires his courage and belief in God’s presence in “the nooks and crannies of our soul and our world.” Sroka’s admiration for this Dutch born Catholic priest and renowned author stirs my interest to learn more about him.


Henri Nouwen Illuminated makes a good nightstand book to reflect upon before dozing off as well as a gift for someone who is struggling to pray through their challenges.

(Re-posted from Doyle’s Delights)

Posted in Book Review, Books, Catholic, Christian, Peace, pray, prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Silent Schism. Healing the Serious Split in the Catholic Church


 We are one body in Christ but a body of great diversity. The Catholic community is comprised of members from a vast range of cultures, lifestyles, and economic backgrounds, and therefore, also a variance of hopes and dreams for our Church.

Authors Louis De Thomasis, FSC and Cynthia A. Nienhaus, CSA write of the divide in our Church in their book, The Silent Schism. Healing the Serious Split in the Catholic Church. The focus is on the hope for a healthy, unified church strong in faith and love for all members as well as the world at large.

The beginning of the book contains definitions and explanations that give it a bit of a slow start but forms a necessary foundation for the following chapters. So if you struggle with the first few pages, hang in there.

Father De Thomasis and Sister Nienhaus, CSA say that today’s schism is not one of separation but a force for church unity and necessary for transformation. They insist that compared to other major schisms in our church history, this one is different in its dynamics and attributes. Current issues are related to liturgy, sexual morality, gender equality, social justice, and censoring of theologians and others who question what is considered established church doctrine.

Conservatives are resistant and insistent on no changes, even those mandated by Vatican II. Others feel unable to disagree, critique, or even discuss issues of importance to them and no longer attend or leave as a result. And of course, the majority believe in endless variations of the above.

The authors encourage the People of God to see clearly the needs before us, have the courage to challenge and change, and stand on the side of the suffering and oppressed. They also have great hope in the leadership and direction of Pope Frances.

On May 19, 2013, Pope Francis said, “The Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charism and gifts;  yet all this, by his working, is a source of wealth, for Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean conformity, but which leads everything back to harmony.”

Posted in Book Review, Books, Catholic, pray, prayer, Religion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Maintaining Work/Life Balance in Healthcare


Apparently I thought I could do what Jesus couldn’t. Author Susan J. Bliss points out in her book, We Will Be Healed. Spiritual Renewal for Healthcare Professionals, that Jesus balanced the endless needs of others with his reserve of physical energy. He stopped to eat and rest.

Bliss writes, “Nowhere in the New Testament did Jesus urge his followers to work to the point of exhaustion. Why then do we continue to burn ourselves to ashes on the altar of serving others?”

And she writes about sharing the load, delegating responsibilities. “Even the Son of God recognized the need for help, and he selected a dozen people to help him.”

I admit that I reached a state of burnout and physical decline before I started to care for myself while caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s. Intellectually I understood the importance of rest and rejuvenation. But spiritually, I was the martyr, literally giving my life for my husband’s. I was that Eveready Bunny running continuously until my own health truly was in jeopardy.

Spiritual Renewal for Healthcare Professionals is written for people in the medical field. These are the people who we expect to care for us at any hour of any day, even the middle of the night on a holiday weekend. They leave their own families and work long hours to be available to us.

They also have to face their limitations. As Bliss reminds us, in spite of our best efforts, disease lingers and patients die.

Although the book is not written specifically for the general public, I found it readable and applicable to my own life, a non-healthcare professional. Anyone caring for a loved one will find it of interest and inspiring.

(Re-posted from Doyle’s Delights)

Posted in Book Review, Books, Catholic, Christian, pray | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Listen to the Desert Book Review


Simplicity and Solitude

How realistic is it for us to pray like a hermit in this day and age? Gregory Mayers, C.Ss.R explains how this can be done in his book, Listen to the Desert. It is the type of book that cannot be skimmed through. Rather, it is one to read slowly and periodically stop and reflect on passages.


The spirituality of the dessert fathers is largely attributed to Saint Antony of Egypt who lived a life of poverty and great discipline. Antony was known to perform healings and inspire followers to join him. In spite of the demands of his lifestyle, monastery life became quite popular not long after his death.


Father Mayers describes the ancient spiritual practices of the dessert fathers and how those practices can deepen our faith and overall life experience today. He tells of Abba Moses’ understanding of wisdom gained from suffering and Abba Joseph’s advice of not judging anyone and being on fire with love of God.


I found the chapter on Abba Macarius’ words on nonattachment particularly interesting.  Father Mayers points out that people make themselves physically and emotionally ill in their attempt to preserve something in a relationship. He says that the source of our fear, shame, and anger is insecurity about ourselves. If we let go of the self, we could let go of those painful emotions.


The teachings of the dessert fathers are simple. The practice, is challenging. However, the transformation of consciousness, the metanoia, is worth the effort to at least learn and contemplate.

(Re-posted from Doyle’s Delights)

Posted in Book Review, Books, Catholic, Christian, pray, prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment