Denise Day Spencer

December 24, 2011

“I wanna see Jesus”

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 11:20 pm

Our little church was decorated beautifully for Christmas Eve Mass. Poinsettias around the Tabernacle, oil lanterns on the small shelves by the windows, golden drapes, and an elaborate crèche in front of the altar. The crowd was small but reverent. All, that is, save one.

The three-year-old soon became restless. He got noisy enough that his mommy decided he needed to leave the premises, at least for a while. The priest was giving his homily and the young mother did her best to hustle the child out the door as quickly and quietly as possible. But her plans were thwarted when the little boy bellowed, “I wanna see Jesus!”

Mommy stopped in her tracks when Father Pat interrupted himself to call out the child’s name. “Rocker?” (No, I am not making this up. His name is Rocker.) “Do you want to see Jesus? It’s all right; you can come up here and see Jesus. I’ll just keep talking, OK?” And as Father preached on, Rocker and his mother approached the crèche. She knelt down next to him and he studied the tableau for a long time. At last, satisfied for the moment, he returned to his seat.

The Mass continued and I heard these words in the Preface: “…For on the feast of this awe-filled mystery, though invisible in his own divine nature, he has appeared visibly in ours…” He has appeared. The invisible has become visible. For the first time, we can see him.

I wish I could tell you Rocker was a cheerful cherub through the rest of the service, but it was past his bedtime. He finally had a toddler meltdown and was whisked away — this time all the way away. I wish I could tell you that when we see Jesus it so changes our lives that we always obey him gladly. But we, too, have our meltdowns. We disappoint Jesus, others and ourselves. Yet we return to the manger because His love draws us, and because we are filled with wonder. The invisible made visible. May we always say with Rocker, “I want to see Jesus.”


June 12, 2010

Sometimes it’s just plain hard

Filed under: Devotional Life,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 7:36 pm

Warning: This post contains graphic content. Still with me? Then let’s proceed.

I’ve been reading and hearing lots of death stories since Michael passed away. I’ll share a few anonymous examples.

First, one that I heard long ago but will never forget. “Jim” was dying of cancer at home and had been in a coma for days. One evening he regained consciousness. His wife was thrilled. She called the two adult daughters, who arrived with their young families. Wife, daughters and grandkids all piled up together on Jim’s bed. For a couple of hours they enjoyed a joyous time of holding one another, saying “I love you” and sharing their goodbyes. Finally Jim’s eyes closed. He sank back into a coma and died later that night. But the family will be forever grateful for that gift of precious time they were given. (more…)

April 23, 2010

“We love you”

Filed under: Devotional Life,Personal reflections — denisedayspencer @ 2:17 pm

There is no way I can ever offer enough thanks to all of the people who have prayed for us, encouraged us, cooked for us, supported us emotionally, supported us financially and just plain ol’ been there for us these past months. Today I want to simply share a couple of unexpected sources of that support in the past couple of weeks. (more…)

December 20, 2009

The Advent within

Filed under: Devotional Life,Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 6:17 pm

Advent is a time of waiting. Boy, don’t I know it.

As other people light Advent candles and wrap Christmas gifts, Michael and I are waiting. First we waited to see if our family doctor agreed that Michael was having a gallbladder attack. Then we waited for the results of a CT scan because something on the ultrasound looked a wee bit suspicious. Next we waited to see an oncologist because the CT showed things that were downright scary. Now we wait for Tuesday, when Michael will have a biopsy. Then more waiting until the physician can tell us what kind of cancer this is and how we will fight it. And so it goes…and will go for some time. (more…)

April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 6:33 am

At the cross her station keeping

stood the mournful Mother weeping,

close to Jesus to the last…

Christ above in torment hangs.

She beneath beholds the pangs

of her dying, glorious Son…

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,

she beheld her tender Child

all with bloody scourges rent…

Let me mingle tears with thee,

mourning Him who mourned for me

all the days that I may live…

— Jacapone da Todi

March 26, 2009

Quote of the day

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 7:16 pm

Newer than a newborn and older than the universe is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

— Mark Shea

March 24, 2009

From the mouths of babes

Filed under: Devotional Life,Other people's stories — denisedayspencer @ 7:37 pm

The other day I was shopping and I overheard a great conversation. A grandmother had picked up her six-year-old grandson from school and they had been joined by the child’s mother. The grandmother reported that the boy had gotten a reward sticker that day. The mother had just begun to praise him when Grandma hastened to add, “But he didn’t earn it.” Then she looked at the child. “Tell your mother why you got the sticker,” she said.

The small voice answered with one word: “Grace.”

I’m right there with you, little guy. I don’t deserve any of my stickers, either. But isn’t God grand?

March 13, 2009

Hospitality Passionist style

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 10:09 pm

On our spring break this year I decided to do something different. I made arrangements for a one-day personal retreat at St. Joseph Monastery in Whitesville, Kentucky, home to about 15 cloistered Passionist nuns. That’s just outside of Owensboro, where my parents and my sister live. So it’s very handy to incorporate into a family visit, which is just what I did.

A patient and kindly Sister Mary kept in touch with me via e-mail as I debated on which day to come, whether or not I would spend the night and what all of the plans would be. I opted for a day retreat, and had a wonderful visit. Next time around, though, I need to arrive earlier; the time went by too quickly!

Though the guest facilities had been booked for a group retreat the previous weekend and would be again the following weekend, I had the place to myself on my Thursday adventure. Sister Mary started me out with a tour of the guest facilities, which included very nice rooms (each with a private bathroom), a library, a small prayer room/Eucharistic chapel, a large conference room with adjacent chapel, an indoor sitting area overlooking the lake out front, a rear patio and a lovely dining room. Outdoors there are several paved walking paths, including the Stations of the Cross. (more…)

December 23, 2008

Sorry, wrong number…?

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 11:35 pm

Not long ago I wanted to call a lady that I knew…but not too well. I didn’t have her phone number, but I knew her husband’s first name so I figured I could find it in the book.

A search revealed two men by that name. I knew my acquaintance’s in-laws lived in the same town, so one number was probably her house and the other her husband’s parents. This shouldn’t be too hard. If I called the wrong one it would still be some of her family, right? And they would let me know that the other number was the correct one. It was the process of elimination with extra help; this seemed like a win-win situation to me.

I chose one of the numbers and punched it in. I waited. The ring was answered by an obviously young child. Very young. I’d say three years old, or maybe even two.


“Hi,” I began, hoping for the best. “May I speak to Carolyn please?”

The small voice that couldn’t pronounce its “r’s” sounded helpful. “She’s not hewe.”

I knew Carolyn had grandchildren, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what she’d told me their ages were. This raised another possibility. This number might belong not to Carolyn or her in-laws, but to her son and his family. Did she even have a son? I couldn’t recall.

At first I thought this must be her house and the grandkids were visiting. No, wait. It must be the grandchildren’s house and Carolyn wasn’t visiting. Or it could still be the in-laws’ number and the great-grandchildren had come over to play. Oh, dear. I opted for one more query.

“Does Carolyn live there?”

Have you ever talked to a toddler on the phone? It had been a while for me, and I’d forgotten how heavily they breathe into the receiver. I waited for probably a full minute or more as my miniature Darth Vader adjusted the controls on her iron lung and pondered the question. At last came her near-whispered response.

“I don’t know.”

Give the tyke points for being honest. What amused me was how long it took her to come up with her answer, given what it turned out to be. It made me wonder what would happen if any number of people were asked of my life, “Does the Holy Spirit live there?” Would they respond quickly, or would they have to think on it for a while? And even after deliberating would they finally shrug and admit, “I don’t know”?

Christ came to be Emmanuel–God with us. May His light and life shine in our hearts so that the world may know. Merry Christmas.

March 20, 2008

Agnus Dei

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 8:24 pm

Monday evening I went with a group of friends to see a passion play at a church in a nearby town. They did a wonderful job, and it was quite moving. As the Roman soldiers drove the spikes into Jesus’ feet and wrists and lifted the cross into place, my only thought was a truth I’ve known all my life that still at times seems utterly surreal.

God sent us His Son and we crucified Him.

Lord, have mercy on us all. Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

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