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Allison Gingras Ink Slingers Novenas Parenting Prayer Saints Vocations

A Modern Day Miracle

A Modern Day Miracle

In October, my daughter, Faith, received an entirely unexpected Scoliosis diagnosis.  

Her doctor found what is known as an S plus one curvature in her spine. Faith’s back curved looked like a slithering snake, 50 degrees, then 48 degrees, and ending with another 28-degree curve.  Faith was facing a very real (and scary) possibility of spine surgery.

Within a month of the diagnoses, Faith began wearing a Boston Brace. Weaning Faith into wearing the brace for the prescribed 18-hours a day was painful (for both her and us). My daughter (along with us at times) shed a few tears as each day the time in her brace increased to adjusted to daily life in a brace. Our hearts ached as our sweet, complacent child endured hours of discomfort and pain, yet was still unable to reach the level of comfort promised when she began the brace journey.

Despite the most valiant efforts, we were unable to get her time in brace beyond 8 to 12 hours. Desperate to reach the brace on level necessary for it to truly help her, we did what any Catholic parent might, we searched for a heavenly helper. A saint who could become her spiritual advocate and intercede in her hour of great need.

My husband did a thorough Google search and found Saint Gemma Galgani. St. Gemma, like Faithy, was an orphan.  Additionally (and quite remarkably) they both also shared a hearing loss and the spine curvature. Faithy was born profoundly deaf, while Gemma lost her hearing due to illness. The same disease that caused Gemma’s spin to curve and lead to her also sporting a back brace!   Wow! Seriously, this is one of the things about the Catholic Faith I love the most – seemingly always being able to find someone to add to our “Saint Posse” who can not only intercede for us but also empathize with our circumstances because they too experienced them.

Kevin and I began a novena to St. Gemma in hopes that Faith’s weaning-in process would go much smoother.  The first answer came just a few days into the novena. Faith’s school Physical Therapist called to tell me she’d worked at the very Orthopedic office that not only fitted Faith with her Boston Brace but is actually the office where the brace originated. She would be able to help Faith with her brace needs at school (a huge concern weighing on our hearts) adding she was so familiar with the braces she could, “put them on her sleep.”  I had to hold back tears as the flush of relief washed over me. Thank you, St. Gemma!!!

The next heavenly assist came when we returned to the Orthopedic for advice on how to help her reach the magic 18-hour number needed for the brace to be of maximum assistance. Faith saw a new technician, who made dramatic changes to her brace, and within a week, Faith was at 18-plus hours. She was able to finally sleep in it, as well as wear it all day at school. A huge relief as the brace, the doctor continually exhorts, only works if it is on her body!

And work it did!  The third miraculous intercession, and most dramatic came in February.  Just as scoliosis is considered idiopathic (with no known cause) – the remarkable reduction of her two major curves, after only two months, to 30 degrees, was also without explanation!  

The Boston Brace is meant to hold the curve, to keep it from progressing.  Although there are a few reported cases of improvement, this is not the norm. Surgery, for now, is off the table  As the school Physical Therapist said, “So happy Faith beat the odds.” We, of course, were quick to credit the incredible power of prayer, accompanied with the medical intervention, brought about what we consider to be a modern-day miracle.

A Modern Day Miracle

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Allison Gingras Domestic Church Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year

What is Your Plan for Lent?

Do you have a plan for Lent?

While it may seem a little early to be thinking about Lent, this important season in the Church will be here before we know it.  The Valentine’s Day displays adorning the stores, even before Christmas had officially ended, provided a heart-filled reminder of the swift movement of time between holidays.

Additionally, thinking about Lent in order to formulate a plan well ahead of Lent for practicing prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, is prudent. I am a planner. I really enjoy making lists, checking them twice, and crossing each task off the list. That is probably why I enjoy using my Daybook//Catholic Planner so much!  Not surprising, I am already thinking about my Lenten plan.

The Grace Trifecta

Each year along with the Lenten tenets of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; I try to include my usual, daily three-fold plan of connecting with the Lord that I’ve dubbed, “the grace trifecta.”  This is daily participation in some form of prayer, sacrament, and the Scriptures. It builds a firm foundation of faith upon which we can grow even deeper in love with Christ during Lent. 

Why Strive to be Full of Grace

The Blessed Mother illustrates the blessing of being filled with grace. Her fiat would have been impossible with the gift of grace she’d received from God. Grace is… the undeserved yet freely given gift of God’s holy spirit within us. It is that gift of Grace that helps us to answer yes when God calls upon us, to choose the right path, and to continue to grow in faith and love.  Grace is a critical ingredient provided by the Lord to recognize the mystical and beautiful of the Catholic faith, to deepen our desire to know and love him; and to strengthen our resolve to remain faithful.

So what does this have to do with Lent?

It is during this blessed time that I work more diligently on the trifecta practices so to strengthen them for the rest of the year. I construct a solid yet flexible plan so that I can make the most of my Lenten season. I know that there will be times during the 40 plus days that I will feel as if I’ve failed at Lent, but I know I can’t “fail at Lent,” quite frankly sometimes — life is Lent. However, if I have a Lenten plan, history has proven I will be much more likely to succeed in growing closer to Christ during that time.

So what is my plan?

I want to pray more, engage in many more conversations with God. Every Lent, I will strive to pray the rosary daily. Sometimes meditating upon the Mysteries, other times using it as a “Spiritual Abacus“, and still other times barely completely one decade but still considering that a big win for the day.

I will participate more often in the sacraments, making a holy hour or trying to attend Mass at least once during the week. And lastly, I will spend more time in the scriptures, this year I plan to accomplish this goal by leading a virtual book club featuring my new book, The Gift of invitation: 7 Ways Jesus Invites You into a Life of Grace.

What Will be Your Plan this Lent? 

However you decide to Lent this year, it’s never too early to plan.  In fact, it is never too early to embrace a grace-filled life; no need to wait for Lent. How will you plan right now to better incorporate more prayer, sacrament, and Scripture into your life?