Bewitch the Mind and Ensnare the Senses

We read chapter books aloud as a family before bed. This has been part of our bedtime routine for a few years now. We’ve read things like Winnie the Pooh, The Secret Garden, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Father’s Dragon, and now, much to my delight, we’ve commenced on the epic adventure of Harry Potter. We just introduced Severus Snape (so of course I had to show them the video Puppet Pals and now my house is filled with people chanting, “Ron, Ron, Ron Weeeeeasley!”). Snape’s opening lecture is so good. His language is so vivid. I almost pulled out the YouTube clip of Alan Rickman’s performance to show them, it’s spot on.

“I can teach you to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory and even put a stopper on death.”

Severus Snape, Sorcerer’s Stone

While we don’t live in the world of Harry Potter, our senses can be bewitched and ensnared even without potions or potions masters. This happened to me at the start of quarantine.

I had gone out to our workshop where we have an old spare refrigerator. I keep extra milk out there, thaw meat, etc. I went to get the last gallon of milk, promising myself that as soon as I got back inside I would hit submit on the grocery order. On the way inside I noticed the date on the milk.

Sell by: 2 days ago.

Ugh!! No!! I couldn’t believe it. How could I have let that happen? Now we had no milk and in our town, the grocery pick ups at that time were days of waiting before your scheduled time.

Maybe it isn’t too bad, I told myself. Let’s see if it passes the sniff test. Maybe we can squeak a day or two out of this before it has to go. Once inside, I opened it up and hesitantly smelled. Bad.

One last hope. The taste test. I was highly doubtful, but it was a whole gallon of milk. I couldn’t dump it without exhausting all my options. So I poured the smallest glass and with a grimace, took a sip.

Shocked face, it was FINE! I couldn’t believe it. My eyes said it was past due, which informed my nose it was clearly done for. I’m so happy I tried one more sense before giving up.

This made me think of the Eucharist. Here we have simple bread and wine. Our eyes tell us it’s normal bread, our nose smells the aroma of wine. Even here our taste confirms what our eyes, nose and touch tell us. But wait, there’s one more sense. What do we hear? We hear Jesus’ words:

This is my Body, which will be given for you, do this in memory of me.

This cup is the new covenant in my Blood, which will be shed for you.

Luke 22:19-20

Our eyes are deceived. Our taste, touch and smell leave us wanting. Our ears hear the truth and our soul responds. The incredible gift of the Jesus in this Sacrament of Sacraments is beyond our physical senses.

As things slowly begin to open back up we will be privileged to once again receive this miracle. I hope and pray we enter even more deeply into the mystery of the Eucharist. It is both the source and summit of our Catholic faith. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a prayer about the mystery of the Eucharist which we still sing today. Below are the words to his famous Adoro te devote which speak so much more eloquently than I ever could about Jesus’ true presence in the Eucharist.

1. Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

2. Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

3. On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

4. I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

5. O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

6. Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

7. Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight.

A Giving Heart

Have you ever heard a story that tugged at your heartstrings? Maybe you’ve watched a TV show or seen a commercial that was particularly moving. Perhaps you were watching the news and saw a story that struck home, that reminded you that there are others out there who are in need or suffering difficulties. Often, these experiences elicit an emotional response – “How beautiful!” “How awful!” “I wish there were more people out there like her.” “Why isn’t someone helping him?”

I would like to share with you one such story that is near to my heart and I hope, will become dear to yours as well.

Ben’s cousin Colleen is presently working in Hyderbad, India through an organization called Sarah’s Covenant Homes. She is a long-term foster mom for 7 children, all with special needs. Colleen has a true calling to work with these precious children. She has had to overcome an incredible number of hospital visits, late nights, early mornings, and a severe learning and language curve since she is in India, a place she had never been prior. Colleen regularly blogs at Letting My Light Shine where she gives heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories of her everyday life with these little ones.  Colleen does an excellent job of sharing stories of all the children in her care, letting her audience really get to know them and the challenges their disabilities present.

Katherine -, #DailyGraces #WorksofMercy #DonateNowI would like to specifically draw your attention to one of Colleen’s little ones – Katherine. Katherine is a 2 year old who is blind, deaf and has a form of cerebral palsy. When Colleen first met her, she was lethargic and very unresponsive. Colleen’s patient, steady and loving care of Katherine has yield some incredible results. In just 3 short weeks Katherine began responding to the stimuli in her environment by crying when she was displeased with something. Before this, she would not have any response, even if she was uncomfortable or upset, she would just shut down and go to sleep.

Colleen’s diligence with Katherine has brought an incredible opportunity to her. Colleen has been very good about following up with best care she can for all of her kids, pursuing whatever avenues she needs to with each of their unique disabilities and challenges. For Katherine, she has been trying to figure out what options are available for her hearing loss. After a whole series of doctor’s visits, Colleen was thrilled to find out that not only is Katherine’s cochlear nerve intact, she is still a viable candidate for a cochlear implant! With only 3 of her 5 senses working, regaining some hearing will completely revolutionize Katherine’s world.

As if this wasn’t enough good news, Katherine has been blessed by a local organization who is willing to pay for the implant itself. It is a huge financial burden off of Colleen and Sarah’s Covenant House. However, it means that it is up to Colleen to raise the funds for the surgery and hospital stay. In total, she needs to raise $3,000.

This year, especially during Lent, Pope Francis has really called everyone out. In his address for Lent, Pope Francis said:

For this reason, I expressed my hope that “the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; this will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, and to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 15). For in the poor, the flesh of Christ “becomes visible in the flesh of the tortured, the crushed, the scourged, the malnourished, and the exiled… to be acknowledged, touched, and cared for by us” (ibid.)

We all can’t travel to India. We all can’t sit with Katherine at breakfast and watch her reveal in a sense she can enjoy. We can’t all sit with Colleen as she struggles to help Katherine engage in the world around her. We all can’t sit by Katherine’s bed when she wakes up from surgery. We all can’t be there the day Katherine begins to make connections between the sounds she is hearing and her environment.

But we can help make this life-changing surgery possible. Lent is a time of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. If you have been discerning a new charity or cause to support, consider Katherine’s. Pope Francis wants us all to “reawaken our conscience” by actively performing the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy. By donating for Katherine’s surgery, you are not only helping the sick, you are concretely giving Colleen the tools she needs to shower Katherine with even more love and works of mercy.

Here is the link you need to donate. It is simple and all through PayPal so it is secure. Any amount you can give will help Katherine get that much closer to the gift of hearing. If at this time you are unable to give, please pray for Katherine, Colleen and the other children. You can also share this post or any from Colleen’s blog to help spread the word about Katherine and children just like her in need of advocates, in need of love, in need of mercy.

Thank you so much. Please click through the links so that you can learn more about Colleen, Katherine and the incredible work she is doing.