Sunday is a very special day to this editor and his bride for it is Mother's Day, a time when husbands everywhere and offspring honor the lady of the house with breakfast in bed, flowers and all the attention we can garner for "Mom." No matter that this happens only on rare and special occasions like her birthday, this is her day. It is also a time to honor the Mother of Mothers - the Heavenly Mother of God and our Mother - Blessed Mary. Of course, we should honor her every day of the year. Afterall it's the best way to reach her Divine Son Jesus! But it is also a very special day for it will be our eighteenth wedding anniversary. What makes it even more special is that seventeen years ago Sunday was also Mother's Day and we received special permission to be wed on that day. It isn't often our anniversary and Mother's Day occur on the same day so you can see why we relish it this year.
It's a time to wax nostalgic as we look back at that year 1981. We had all escaped the sixties and seventies - thank God, and looked forward to the eighties with the same temporal aspirations as others our age. Spiritually we were secure but really we were just neophytes, unaware of the mountains to climb. One of those mountains was Medjugorje and, though we wouldn't hear about it for eight more years, it would be forty five days after we said "I do" to each other that Our Lady would first appear in that tiny, remote village between the mountains and begin to ask the world to do what her Divine Son requested. Just as her Oasis of Peace has grown and lasted to today, so has our love. In fact that love has grown stronger because of the storms we've had to endure. Unlike the region around Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, we haven't had an all-out war on our homefront, but we've had our share of skirmishes and marital battles and grown from that. Truces are the best way to soothe hurt feelings and the assurance of love can cure all. It has been said love conquers all and we can attest to that. In the early years of our marriage we're sure it was Our Lady and the prayers of the people of Medjugorje who helped us through two heart-breaking ordeals. That was the loss of two children who are in Heaven - our little "Angel" and "Dawn" who were lost through miscarriage. In fact the Doctors told us Cyndi could not have any more children. That is why we consider Kevin Michael and Kellin Joseph our miracle babies. They are not babies anymore; Kevin is a strapping fifteen and a half "lil Abner" type and KJ is getting there, having just entered teendom last month. Mom suffered through both pregnancies and by the time Kel came into the world she was so torn up physically that there was no way she would ever be able to conceive again, but we are so grateful for the gifts of life God did grant us and accept whatever He deigns.
In fact, all through our marriage Cyndi has suffered physically, realizing Our Lord chose her to be a victim soul. Even though she would never be able to have children again, during the years of 1991 to 1994 she not only experienced tremendous pains in her womb but exhibited all the symptoms of being five to six months pregnant. We were buying maternity clothes for her and realizing that it would never come to fruition, but also realizing that by accepting this cross, she was making reparation for the terrible sin of abortion. The pains she underwent were often akin to a baby being ripped from her uterus. She submitted herself to Doctors and gynecologists who were completely baffled, especially when sonagrams revealed nothing. We knew this was from God and we accepted it. I didn't feel the pain, but the pain in my heart for what she was going through cannot be described. I am not an emotional sort, being the macho "man of the house" and all that. The boys get tired of Dad saying, "gut it out" or "suck it up" or the tried and true "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." But it helped me through these difficult times and leaning on Saint Joseph helped me understand "why" God had chosen Cyndi as a victim soul.
It first became manifest while we sat on a bench with Father Al Svobodny, OMI outside St. James Church on Mother's Day in 1990 at Medjugorje. It was there Father told me to "listen to my wife for she would know what God wanted us to do." I know that's advice every husband hears - "listen to your wife," but this was different in the sense that she would receive interior locutions and interior visions. Call it a trade-out for the suffering, if you will. I know before we arrived in Medjugorje we were on the brink of a break-up; tension had grown between us and we were at each other's throats. Looking back we know it was satan who did not want us to make that trip that Spring for it would change our lives forever. And truly it did. Saint Michael, my patron saint, has been working overtime protecting us from the devil. The evil one has thrown everything he could at us including going after our sons. But faith, hope and love - especially in the bond of holy matrimony, has kept him at bay. It was on our return trip that our new life began. We had owned an expensive home in the suburbs of Minneapolis and had all the goals of an eighties-type couple with Reaganomics in mind. Life was good. But within a few weeks Cyndi's father had a stroke and died immediately after Mass on Ascension Thursday and that's when our new goal in life took effect. Our Lady asked us to sell the home, give a third of our possessions away to charity, sell a third, and keep only the essentials among the final third. We returned to San Diego and there Cyndi took care of her aging mom until she entered a rest home. It was in August of 1990 when this ministry began and on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we made our vow of poverty. Like the early mendicants of Saint Francis' time, we realized from that point on we would be totally reliant on the goodness and mercy of others for our livelihood. Gone were the ambitions of "keeping up with the Jones" and "making it big in America." Those things didn't matter any more for we had higher, loftier ambitions, not of accruing money but souls. It has buoyed us through the years and given us great peace of mind.
And peace of mind is basically all we possess today as we continue to keep the ministry going on faith and a shoe string. Just as the early Apostles went from town to town depending on the inhabitants there for their livelihood, so also we have followed in their footsteps; not in such exotic places as Thessalonia, Crete, Corinth, Jerusalem or Rome, but in Arkansas, Texas and back to San Diego with visits to thirty-eight states. And today, the ministry is on life-support as we beg our readers to help keep the DAILY CATHOLIC going. It is a sign that we are that much closer to the time foretold in Scripture and by Our Lady in private revelation for the apathy is reaching alarming proportions. In order to reach more in these dire times, we have recently made this publication available for all at no fee. That was a tremendous leap of faith, but we trust totally in God's providence and your free will offerings to keep this going. Just as Cyndi and I have endured many storms throughout our eighteen years, so also the ministry is confronting it's toughest times.
Yes, we continue to live the vow of poverty literally and want to continue, but, in our need, if there is no one to give, then we have no choice but to shake the dust from our sandals and move on in order to keep the family alive and together. This would mean ceasing the DAILY CATHOLIC, something we shudder to consider, but God works in mysterious ways. We can't help but thinking along the same lines as Abraham who asked the Lord if there were forty just men out there, even thirty, or twenty. How about ten? The apathy among God's children, even within the Marian movement, is not a good sign and if the faithful ones do not respond to those ministries striving to do His Will, what will He think? We all know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. Let's hope and pray history doesn't repeat.
And speaking of repeat, the answer is "yes" we would do it all over again - from saying "I do" to accepting the crosses God has allowed us to shoulder in our marriage and ministry. And why not? The rewards of love and commitment make it all worthwhile! Saving souls is rewarding as is the love of a spouse, but just as one person cannot do it all and depends on their partner to share the burdens and joys, so also this apostolate can't survive by itself. Cyndi and I are one, but yet only one half of the equation of this apostalate. We need you to help in fulfilling the wholeness of this ministry. Our marriage will go on but the life of this ministry depends on you!