Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Synchronicity and Connectivity of God

Hi Everyone,
Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Today's post is something new I have been wanting to try for some time. Every so often I would like to interview expats and others who come into my life and relate their stories here. Each person I've met on my expat journey has had a wonderful story to tell--each one unique and insightful. Today's story is the first part of three about Anne Delaney.

The Synchronicity and Connectivity of God

Peaceful face of the Infant Jesus of Prague

Meeting New Friends

Being an expat is always an adventure. You have new sights and cultures to experience; you meet and find new friends in the unlikeliest of places. You just never know what's around the next bend in your expat life. I have been most fortunate to have the opportunity to see new and wonderful places and meet very interesting people. One such meeting was most unexpected when I attended Sunday worship service at Our Lady of Victory (dedicated to Our Lady of Victory and St. Anthony of Padua) here, in Prague--the home of the Infant Jesus of Prague (the IJP). The IJP is a draw for hundreds of thousands of believers from around the world who come to Prague on pilgrimage--to say special prayers and novenas to the Infant of Prague--asking for healing, and help in all areas of their lives. You can find some background information about Our Lady of Victory here and on the official website of the church.

On the first Sunday after Epiphany**, January 11, 2009, I attended Our Lady of Victory and met a very special person who has become a friend over the past months, and more than a friend--one who is a partner on my own spiritual journey. This lady's name is Anne Delaney, S.F.O. Anne was here, in Prague, to record Trilogy of Hope with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. Trilogy of Hope will be released in 2010 on the Masterworks of the New Era, Vol. 19 by ERMMedia recording label.

The recording was produced on the Feast of the Epiphany (another instance of synchronicity and connectivity in Anne's life) which is an important date for Christians. The Feast of the Epiphany (from the Greek word Epiphania, meaning "revelation") is a celebration of the Three Wise Men, or Magi, who came to offer their symbolic gifts to honor and adore the Infant Jesus. Anne was offering her Trilogy of Hope recording to honor the Lord while also making this a gift for all who would hear the album.

Father Victor Fernandes, O.C.D. asked Anne to read for the liturgy, and then choose another person to share the other reading. Anne told me later how she was moved, as she looked through the congregation, to ask me. Even though I did not do the reading, Anne invited me to sit with her and take remembrance photos of this special feast day. Anne felt the Holy Spirit guided her to me. We would soon realize the significance of our meeting. As Anne loves to say, "The connectivity and synchronicity of God abounds." After mass Anne suggested we go to a nearby cafe to continue our pleasant conversation. That sounded great--and even at this point I could feel our lives were going to somehow connect.

Anne as Reader on January 11, 2009.

Anne near the Infant Jesus of Prague, January 11, 2009.

Anne and I enjoyed a long and wonderful three-hour visit! This is not something which usually happens to me. I'm really on the shy side and am also cautious in my dealings with others, especially strangers. But there was something about Anne that connected with my own soul, and it was great to talk with her about her spiritual journey and ties to the Infant Jesus of Prague. Anne and I found that we share similar interests, and even share spiritual Saints such as St. Francis of Assisi and many others. The connections just kept coming out as we talked. And to this very day, in our emailing back and forth, we continue to uncover connections which really are rare in that they are not common to find in others. Throughout the past few months of emailing and getting acquainted, Anne and I have become friends and partners on our spiritual journeys. The following account is from our first meeting and subsequent email conversations.

Anne with her classical guitar.

At a young age Anne felt called to become a nun--a bride of Christ--and lead a life of service for God and Holy Mother Church. Her entire being was moved (in fact, she felt "hounded by heaven") to enter the Poor Clares Colettines - the second Order of the Franciscans in the Roman Catholic Church. Anne was a peaceful postulant in St. Joseph's Monastery. However, due to severe back pain (which The Lord healed her through the intercession of Pope John Paul II - - another story), Anne would depart from the community. This was a part of God's Divine Plan. It was not a "mistake," as some would say. In fact, this experience would be God's way to lead her to fulfill her next step along her pilgrim journey.

Anne professed her love and devotion as a Third Order Franciscan on March 27, 2004. She "wears the habit [of a nun] in her heart." Anne is a Sister of Penance, a lay Sister and Councilor in the Sacred Heart Fraternity. Anne is a music mentor, coach and teacher. She founded Interval Music and Drama School in 2002 in honor of her mother, also a teacher. Her various ministries include lector, Eucharistic Minister, homebound visitations, founder and coordinator of the Infant Jesus of Prague Prayer Society, and, most importantly, a woman of prayer. Oh, and a cancer survivor, no less. Each step of Anne's journey has been devoted to the Lord and she sees His synchronicity and connectivity in every part of her life. Anne has a very bright light shining in His service every day. Doesn't this remind of us of the Three Kings who saw a bright star on the night Christ was born and followed it to Bethlehem. Anne continues to follow the path God has designed for her, following the Star straight to the Little King.

Original Infant Jesus of Prague 47 cm (18.5 in.)
wax and wood sculpture. He is wearing a
simple kolobion (long shirt) around his body.

As Anne and I talked in the cafe, she unfolded a wonderful story for me. Anne's life, since 1989, has been devoted to the Infant Jesus of Prague -- which was an unknown family tradition until the discovery was made in 1992. Her devoted grandmother had a strong devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague. " 'Nana' went home to God on St. Valentine's morning, by the way," Anne tells me.

Along Anne's spiritual journey, the ornate vestments worn by the Infant Jesus of Prague initially did not warm her to the devotion. Then her Czech author friend, Jarmila Marie Skalna, gave her a photo-history book, The Holy Infant of Prague (Aventinum publication, Prague), Anne opened to pages 72-73. Ah, this is how the original statue was made. Here was the simplicity of the Infant Jesus which Anne felt she could now fully love. The sweet face of Jesus with His peaceful smile won Anne's heart. Our Lord had reached out to Anne through the Infant Jesus and drew her to Him. Little did Anne know how this spiritual journey would unfold. Pražské Jezulátko would soon let her know!

Beautiful handmade lace alb and gown
on the Gracious Infant Jesus of Prague.
One is drawn to the pure look of the
Infant's innocence.

In December of 1989, Anne was first led to pray a St. Anthony Novena. Knowing how St. Anthony* was granted the visit of the Infant Jesus, and held Him in his arms, Anne also desired to hold Jesus. During the Novena a woman from her parish, Church of the Nativity, asked Anne to bring over one of her albums. As Anne entered the woman's home, on the mantle was a large Infant Jesus of Prague statue. "Oh!" exclaimed Anne. "Why don't you take him home with you, Anne. You can keep him through Christmas." So Anne held Jesus and brought him home. It was then, the first significant Infant of Prague Novena (Daniel A. Lord, S.J.) began. All three of her prayer intentions were answered. Through the inspiration of this novena, her song King of Hearts was born.

King of Hearts was first sent to Cardinal František Tomášek in Prague, arriving on St. Valentine's Day, 1990. As preparations were in progress for Expo '92, the song was first played on Radio Prague
(Český rozhlas
--> -->). On May 23, during Expo '92, a replica of the Infant Jesus of Prague was brought in the Basilica de la Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena, in Sevilla, Spain. The statue having been originally brought from Spain, was making a symbolic full circle back to the homeland. Representing the United States, King of Hearts was played at a press conference. As Anne knelt in thanksgiving before the Basilica's Infant Jesus of Prague, a dark-haired Spaniard approached Anne, handed her a white carnation, and quietly spoke, "A gift from the Infant Jesus." It was one of those moments in time Anne wanted to freeze and cherish as a loved one's photo.

A Carmelite priest from Our Lady of Victory kindly introduced Anne to the Auxiliary Bishop of Prague, František Lobkowicz, descendant of the Lobkowicz noble men and women preserving the Infant during the 1600's. (In 1628, Polyxena Lobkowicz presented the statue to the Order of the Carmelites at Our Lady of Victory.) Anne now humbly presented her cassingle of King of Hearts as a gift to the Bishop. She saw a crack visible directly over the map of Czechoslovakia on her front cover, "Oh, Your Excellency, please allow me to give you another one." Bishop Lobkowicz thoughtfully spoke, "I will keep this one." You see, the country was now the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The crack showed where the division was created!

One joyful day in February 1999, Anne will never forget, a letter arrived from Fr. Marco Chiolerio, O.C.D., the then Rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Victory. "We know your song, King of Hearts...This is why we would like to invite you to premiere your songs, and this holy mass, in honor of the Holy Child."

Fr. Petr Sleich, O.C.D., Prior of the Carmelite
Monastery of the Holy Infant of Prague.

Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2009.

Fr. Victor Fernandes, O.C.D., Our Lady of Victory
January 11, 2009.

With the invaluable aide of Professor Štefan Zajac from Charles University, the long awaited event would become a reality. Fr. Petr Sleich, O.C.D. wrote a letter to confirm the performance for the annual week-long Feast of Pražské Jezulátko. First, Srdcí Král (King of Hearts) was sung by the Czech soprano, Eliška Toperczerová, on May 18, 2003.

As Anne was sitting on one of the wooden pews during the mass, through one of the high stained-glass windows a transparent wide ray of sunlight warmly touched the left side of Anne's face for several minutes. "My soul was serene. I felt as though there was a smile from heaven," Anne recalls. Father Petr smiled many times during mass, then turned towards Anne. "Now I shall speak to you in your mother tongue. I was moved to tears. It is no little thing what you have done for the Infant Jesus. Thank you, Miss Anne." "His gracious words are etched in time and in my memory," Anne gratefully says. Anne was now more moved to fulfill the Little Mission for the Little King, the mission God placed in her heart for her own parish.

Then, to Anne's happy surprise, Fr. Jerome Moras asked Anne to sing her song for the closing English mass on Sunday, May 25, 2003. Anne was humbled yet thrilled to be invited. She joyfully accepted. Anne once again knelt before the Infant Jesus of Prague (now the original), and prayed "Here is Your song. May You one day smile upon me, and may this Little Mission draw many souls to You. Amen."

The announcement poster for the
day Anne sang King of Hearts,
Our Lady of Victory, May 25, 2003.

Anne sang King of Hearts with her whole heart for the Infant. As she looked upon all the pilgrims processing to the Infant Jesus of Prague, her heart was grateful. This performance was the fulfillment of Anne's long desire to present The King of Hearts as a gift to the Czech people.
Once the Divine Liturgy concluded, Anne was invited to join the musicians, visitors, and priests. Father Petr presented Anne with a Royal Dux porcelain Infant Jesus of Prague, wearing burgundy and gold attire. "We wish to express deep thanks for the beautiful performance of your composition 'King of Hearts' dedicated to the Infant Jesus of Prague." Anne was prepared for she, too, had brought gifts from California for everyone. A celebration for all. Would there one day be a statue for her Church of the Nativity? We shall see what God will arrange.

Anne Delaney, S.F.O., Composer and Vocalist
Cover from Anne's second album On Your Behalf,
which features King of Hearts.

There are many fascinating stories in Anne's life, but one which touched me deeply was how she wanted a replica statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague for her church--the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park, California. But this part of the story will have to continue in another post!

That's all for all have a very wonderful and Happy Valentine's Day!

God bless,
Sher :0)

. A link will soon be on this post so you may hear the beautiful song King of Hearts.

Czech Off the Beaten Path Website
Czech Off the Beaten Path T-shirts & More
Sher's Stuff Store

* There was a Count Tiso who had a castle about 11 miles from Padua, Italy. On the grounds of the castle the count had provided a chapel and a hermitage for the friars. Anthony often went there toward the end of his life and spent time praying in one of the hermit cells. One night, his little cell suddenly filled up with light. Jesus appeared to Anthony in the form of an infant. Passing by the hermitage, the count saw the light shining from the room and St. Anthony holding and communicating with the Infant. The count fell to his knees upon seeing this wondrous sight. And when the vision ended, Anthony saw the count kneeling at the open door. Anthony begged Count Tiso not to reveal what he had seen until after his death...which, of course, did not occur.

**The traditional Feast of Epiphany is always on January 6. The date celebrated in the liturgical year depends on where January 6th falls. So, in 2009, the Sunday was January 4th when liturgically the Feast of Epiphany was celebrated. However, note that some churches, and this can vary according to country customs as well, the Feast of the Epiphany was still celebrated liturgically on January 6th. "This is why I was so thrilled on January 6th when I went to Our Lady of Victory for Mass. For here, the Carmelite Friars did celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany," recalls Anne.


Anonymous said...

If I may, I have just started an Infant of Prague website to spread His

To "kick-off" the new webiste, I am sending-out a limited supply of Infant
of Prague medallions
to those
who ask. May God Bless You!

Sher said...

Hi Tom,
Thanks for stopping by! You found this post pretty fast!

Thanks for the links to your site and the offer to send a IJP medallion to the first ones who respond to your offer.

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Maria said...

That was a lovely post. As far as I know the Sunday just gone was Holy Child Sunday. Though I could be wrong.

Sher said...

Hi gaelikaa,
Thank you! You could be right about last Sunday being Holy Child Sunday. We can ask Anne to make sure. I'm not a Catholic and so have no direct knowledge of this.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Roz said...

Hi Sher

Just stopping by to say "hi!" I hope that all is well with you and that the weather has warmed up in Prague now!

Best wishes,


Sher said...

Hi Roz,
Thanks so much for stopping by! Things have been busy and I've been sick, but am OK now. Just my typical winter, that's all! But this winter was actually better! My doc didn't order me into quarantine for three weeks! :0)

Hope you're doing OK, too!!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)