The Stop Drop and Pray Network
Tom is no newbie. He's a retired engineer who was baptized in the Holy Spirit in the 70's. Engineers are seldom thought to have writing ability but recently Tom finds himself typing out insights from the Holy Spirit on his cell phone. He's most often motivated during our weekly prayer group sessions.
Introduction to God's Love
In some of my following posts there will be an underlying theme of God's love. There were just too many instances of experiences where God’s love for me was profoundly communicated.
The most significant is the story about being at mass with my 5 year old grandson and his family. This story is titled “More of God’s Love”. After this experience I told this story at Bible Study, Men’s Group and basically anytime I could. It gives me great joy to share the story of God’s love with
whomever will listen.
One morning while exercising I was seeking His direction for the Men’s Group meeting to be held later that night. “God what do you want me to do”, was my prayer. Almost immediately came the thought, “Tell them that I love them”. My response was, “I told them that already” and was disappointed that He didn’t give me anything new. Later that day while babysitting that same 5 year old, I continued to complain to the Lord that I needed something for Men’s Group. I was listening to the radio at the same time waiting for God to give me something. I felt like He said, “Just praise Me”. He drew my attention to a song that was playing. The lyrics of the song were “Don’t worry baby everything’s going to be alright”. I went, “God is that you? Next song “Baby, I need your loving”. I said to Him, “If
that’s you, give me one more. Next song, “Come and go with me”
I have not worried about Men’s Group since and continue to share about God’s Love and now know that God has a sense of humor too.
More Of God's Love
That moment of God's love and mercy at the sacrament of Reconciliation that I shared previously, has never been very far out of my thoughts. One seemingly typical Sunday at Mass, God broke into my thoughts again.
I need to take an aside to set the stage for appreciating this experience.
Grandparents have a special kind of love for their grandchildren and only grandparents will be able to really appreciate what I will try to describe. It goes something like this. Parents of course have a love for their children that is tempered with thoughts like: "Why can't you keep your room clean?" "Didn't I just tell you that?" Did you do your homework?" "What do you mean you don't like broccoli?" Grandparents are totally free from some of these issues. Not only do I have a grandparent’s kind of love for all my grandchildren but there is also one of my grandchildren, the youngest, that has captured a special place in my heart. He always seemed to spend special time with me. He would sit on my lap and let me read to him, hug him and kiss him. He just has my heart.
Back to the story.
We schedule our Sunday Mass so we can celebrate it with our son and his family. My son's youngest child was five years old at the time and he would usually sit with his Mom. I was at the other end of the pew.
This Sunday during the course of the Mass he came and sat by me. He sat on my right side. As he sat by me I put my right arm around him. He fit nicely in the crook of my right arm. I was able to gently squeeze his thigh since he had on short pants.
Suddenly all the free grandparent type love flowed over me like a wave. I experienced such love for him I felt completely full and thrilled. I have never felt a love like that before. As I sat there with him in the crook of my arm God suddenly broke into this experience of love. I felt like He broke in with the words, "YOU SEE HOW MUCH YOU LOVE HIM, YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE A CLUE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU!" This experience suddenly went from how much I loved this grandson to how much God loves me. As I sat there enjoying this special hug from my God and my hug for my grandson, I could tell he was starting to get restless. My feeling of joy began to change to desperation that my grandson would soon leave the crook of my arm and this experience would come to an end. My desperation led me to take off my wristwatch and put it on his arm in the hope that it would keep him still for another minute. I could see that my grandson had trouble trying to figure out what to do with this "gift". As he sat there trying to make the watch fit his little arm, God again broke into my thoughts. He began to show me how He gives us gifts to encourage us to spend more time with Him. God seemed to be telling me that many times we are that way with the gifts He gives to us. We really don't know how to use them properly. What we need to do is spend quality time with Him and He will show us.
After this experience, when I share it, I usually sum it up by saying that "God is crazy about me". It makes people laugh but I think it shocks them into thinking about how much God loves them.
This incident has been the real catalyst of my journey in God's love.
More to come.
God's Love Continues
My only daughter and I have been estranged for several years.
After moving to St. Petersburg and St. Raphael’s parish I wound up in a bible study community with many loving people. There happens to be one person, I’ll call her Kelly, who really touched my heart. My love for her was punctuated at Mass one day when she happened to sit by me. I felt the Lord was giving her to me to fill the hole in my heart left by my broken relationship with my daughter. That day at mass I leaned over to her and told her that. We have had this close, special relationship since then. I call her my daughter.
In September 2017 St. Petersburg and most of Florida went through hurricane Irma. By God’s grace we were totally spared with the exception of a loss of power for several days.
Three days after the hurricane was a daily mass and adoration. As soon as I woke up that morning, I felt the urge to encourage my oldest son, who also attends St. Raphael, to consider coming to mass to give thanks to the Lord for all his blessings since he too was spared any effect of the hurricane. So I texted the invitation.
Sitting in church before mass started, I kept looking for him and his family to walk in. He did not show up. I sat there and read the Gospel for the day Luke 6: 20-26. The words “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are weeping, for you will laugh.” These were the very things I had been experiencing over the past five days preparing for and going through the hurricane. I felt poor, had no power, I had not been eating properly was at times hungry and my emotions were shot and felt on the verge of tears. It seemed like being moved to invite my son to mass to give thanks tied in with the Gospel readings that we were supposed to do exactly that.
As I sat there contemplating these verses and thoughts, who comes in mass and sits next to me with her son - - KELLY! I felt like God was giving me a special hug of his love by giving me Kelly instead of my son. I sat there weeping in thanksgiving for all the blessings of surviving the hurricane, having my “daughter” appear but most of all, another experience of His love for me.
In September 2017, hurricane Irma hit Florida. By the grace of God, St. Petersburg, where we live, was spared any serious damage. There were, however, some obvious signs that the hurricane left in its wake. In my neighborhood there were some trees down and branches blown out of the trees.
As I drove around town after the hurricane and people started to clean up, I saw piles and piles of branches start to accumulate in front of almost every house.
I felt the Lord begin to teach me about these branches.
Before the hurricane these branches were a part of the tree and being fed and nourished. As I traveled around I watched as the piles of branches slowly turn from bright green to a light brown.
The Lord seemed to be saying, “You see, these are the things that do not belong.” These branches are the deep sinful tendencies we hold on to. These are the things we really should let the Spirit prune from us. These branches were not the small little sins that are easy to confess that even a small wind of the Spirit can easily prune. No, these are the deep seated sins that we hold tightly and nourish and justify as a part of us and it took a great wind of the Spirit to prune
them from us.
As I write this, the branches are still piled along every street. I am struck how dead and lifeless they now look.
I shared this insight at Bible study. After sharing it some people came up to me and said how they appreciated it. Some also laughingly said, “I have this huge pile in front of my house, are
you trying to tell me something?”
I have one large oak tree in the back of my house and I noticed this morning that there is a huge branch that was snapped off by the hurricane and got lodged in with the other branches of the
tree, it seems like the tree refuses to let it go. Is someone trying to tell me something?
Even More of God's Love
We pick up two of our grandchildren from school. Two brothers, two years apart in the back seat together is a recipe for disaster.
In an effort to keep them from being typical boys, we taught them to pray the chaplet of divine mercy. Great idea, huh?
Not only would they fight as to who would lead various prayers but they would also see who could say the prayers the silliest. One would loudly say "FOR THE SAKE OF HIS SORROWFUL PASSION", the other would say extremely slowly "Have _____ mercy_____ on _____ us _____ and _____ on____ the____ whole _____world". They employed every possible silly talk to answer the prayers. If choking children was allowed I would be right there!
Yesterday the youngest grandson was with us at home and we had him say the chaplet with us. Sure enough the same kind of vocalization took place. Not only that but he was upside down in the chair, frontward, backward every possible position.
As I sat there, a smile came upon my face and the love for him took over. I started thinking, "I wonder and hope God has the same kind of smile on His face when he hears me pray". I pray during exercising on an elliptical machine, while driving, laying in bed, etc. I am distracted so many times but am convinced that God loves us and sees through the messiness to our heart and His heart is moved.
Weekly we would meet at a friend's condominium for prayer. This was a beautiful condominium on the 6th floor overlooking the bay and a park on the shore of the bay. As we walked in to begin our prayer, I passed by the wrap around windows and felt the Lord tell me to look outside. I stopped briefly and looked outside at the beautiful view. I saw the bay, trees, I saw people walking, I saw a kite flying and many other things. I waited for the Lord to tell me what to look for but he didn't seem to say anything. I sat down and began our prayer. From time to time I would open my eyes and look outside again. A kite flying in the distance caught my eye and I began to look at it and watch it. I could not see the person flying the kite but I could see the kite. It wasn't a normal diamond shape kite but it had wings and looked like a great white bird.
As I watch, the kite it flew in what appeared to be an erratic fashion. It would soar up and down then to the ground and then soar again. At the end of our prayer time the instructions from the Lord to look outside came to my mind again, so I told the group about the kite. As I told the group, I begin to see the relationship between a kite and us.
We are the kite.
The wind driving the kite is the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the person holding and directing the kite.
Then I realized that the kite wasn't flying erratically but it was dancing in a very choreographed manner as the kite flyer (Jesus) directed it. It made beautiful motions up and down, soaring, landing on the ground, soaring again. I realized this is what our lives are like many times. We are in the wind and feel like we are blowing around out of control when Jesus is really directing every action. Not only is he directing every action but each action is planned and beautiful. It's acrobatic. The initial way I was viewing the kite is also the way we view other people. If we take the time to know the people, we will find that Jesus is controlling their actions. It may seem random and erratic to us but He’s got this. Just like I could only see the kite from the 6th floor window, other people can only see us. They cannot see the person flying a kite. They see us responding to the way Jesus is directing us.
I think one take away from this is that people can only see Jesus through our actions and how we respond to his gentle tugging of the string.
The other take away is that Jesus is a master of flying the kite. He is very good at it and we need to trust him to know that he is doing the best for us and our lives. Just like the kite can do nothing on its own without the wind, the string, and the person controlling it, we can do nothing on our own without Jesus and the Spirit.
The final thing I realized was that the string represents our Blessed Mother. She is sending the message from Jesus to the kite "Do what he tells you to do" just like she did at Cana.
Daily Mass Gospel reading from Mark chapter 6 was about Jesus' rejection at Nazareth. Jesus could not work any miracles due to their lack of faith. Imagine, the second person of the blessed Trinity couldn't work any miracles! The person who is consubstantial with the creator of the universe and he couldn't work any miracles?
The reason was that they discounted Jesus. They knew him. He's just a carpenter. God could not work through him!
At Bible study that same day, the study from the gospel of Luke was about the road to Emmaus. The disciples along the road did the same thing and how quickly they did it! All Jesus asked them was what sort of things they were discussing? They didn't recognize Jesus because they discounted him because He didn't even know what had happened in Jerusalem.
How often do we do the same thing. We discount people because we don't think God can work through them. We need to always look for God to be speaking to us through one another.
I had been following this itinerant preacher around for days. But I did it from afar.
It was Passover evening and I saw the preacher and his companions enter an upper room, so I waited outside. I even missed my own Passover meal just to see what they were going to do. About 9 o'clock at night, obviously after the Passover meal, the preacher and some of his companions came out from the room and headed into a garden. Again I followed at a distance. I watch them stop in the garden. The preacher spoke to his companions and then went about a stone's throw away by himself. I was able to watch his companions as they sat around waiting for the preacher to return.
I could see some of them getting sleepy, some looked like they fell asleep. I saw the preacher come back and speak to them, waking them up, then he returned by himself alone. He seemed to be in great distress. I continued to watch even while his friends fell asleep again. I saw him come back to his companions and wake them one more time but this time a new man walked up followed by a crowd of chief priests, scribes and guards of the temple. They grabbed the preacher and took him away. His followers ran off. I followed. They led him to the Roman praetorium. They were inside for only a short while when I saw them dragging him outside. Roman soldiers were there and took him, tied him to a pillar and began to scourge him. As I watch the scourging I could see how each blow would drive the preacher down to the ground. I saw the Roman soldiers getting frustrated that they were not able to scourge him properly because of the way he was laying on the ground. The next thing I knew a Roman soldier grabbed me from behind and drug me to the pillar. He told me hold his hands up like this raising the preacher's hands way up high on the pillar. I protested but they said if you don't you'll be next. I stood on the other side of the pillar and as I held his hands up, the scourging continued. I could feel each blow through his trembling hands. It seemed like it took forever. Finally the soldiers stopped. I think they thought he was dead. They drug him away. I ran off, but within sight of the praetorium. Much later that night I saw them drag him out again this time he had a crown on but it was a crown of thorns. I could see blood dripping down his face from each one of the thorns. There was one in his left temple that was really causing him distress, I think I saw him look at me. The next thing I knew I saw them place a cross on his shoulders and he began to carry it. I knew where they were taking him. It was the place for crucifixion. I knew the way. I moved along the crowd staying even with the preacher as he made his way. He looked like he was not going to make it. I kept calling out to him "look at me, look at me" to try and encourage him and to keep him from giving up. The trek to Golgotha seemed to take forever. Finally when we reached the top of the hill, I saw two other men being crucified with him. I took my place around the crosses in with the rest of the crowd. I was behind the preacher's cross on his right side I could see what appeared to be his mother right in front of his cross weeping. Next to her was a young man about my age who was trying to comfort her but she would not be comforted. The men being crucified with him were taking turns speaking to the man. I could not hear what they said but I saw the face of one of the criminals look unusually peaceful afterwards. The next thing I knew they shoved a lance into the preacher's side and I could see blood and water gush out from the wound. The preacher was dead. I ran away but I'll never forget that day.
What Our Lady Does
I was asked to do a talk at another parish about how the consecration to Jesus through Mary affected me.
During the time I was thinking and praying about the talk, I happened to be watching television of Pope Francis' visit to the U.S.
One incident really caught my eye. The Pope had just arrived in Philadelphia and had just started his motorcade in his little Fiat. The Pope had his window down looking at the crowd when he ordered his car stopped. The Pope got out of the car and proceeded to the barricade where on the other side was a young man in a wheelchair who had a disability appearing to be cerebral palsy. My eyes were drawn to the mother of the child who began to weep as the pope approached. I could see in her face the intense desire to have the pope touch her broken child which he did. It led me to tears.
Immediately my mind changed the players in this dramatic scene. The mother of the child became our Blessed Lady, the pope was Jesus and we were the disabled person. I thought to myself, isn't this what our Blessed Mother does. How much she desires and facilitates our contact with Jesus especially when we need Him most.
I knew what I had to share.
What Would You Ask?
July 30, 2017
This Sunday's first reading from 1Kings 3:5, 7-12 talks about the Lord appearing to Solomon in a dream. In this dream the Lord tells Solomon to "Ask something of me and I will give it to you".
Take some time before you proceed and ponder what you would ask for.
This thought jumped out at me during the Mass. All I could think about was, what WOULD I ask for.
After thinking about it for some time I wrote in my mass journal, "The salvation of my children". After I wrote that, I sat back kinda proud of what I came up with.
I then re-read the entire reading from 1Kings.
I found that Solomon asked for an UNDERSTANDING HEART.
I began thinking what if I would ask for the same thing that Solomon asked for? What would that look like if the Lord granted that to me? What would my life be like? What about my children's salvation?
At that point the second reading came to mind. Rom 8:28-30 states that "...all things work for good for those who love God.."
If I had received an understanding heart, I would have the understanding to see so many things in my life working out for good. What a different person I would be! I would be living in the present moment and have an attitude of praise KNOWING that God is working out ALL things for good.
What do you do when an adult child
Takes a path evil or wild?
And what about when they have kids?
Learning from their parent who’s hit the skids
Do you warn them and tell of their error
And speak your heart with conviction and fervor
So I speak my mind and heart
And I can hear in their voice
That they have made their choice
Doors closing, they want no part
I cannot sit by no matter the cost
And allow them to join the ranks of the lost
Isn’t it my job is to train and protect
Not to be one who allows and neglects
Do you hope after hope?
That this day will come
Long before their day is done
And they meet the Lord
To obtain their reward
An eternity of joy and wonder
Or one of pain for a life of squander
From now on I’ll hold my tongue and pray
That one day they will return and say
I have sinned and I am sorry
To have caused you so much worry
So for now I just wait and pray
That the turn will come one day
So I can open my arms and say
I’ve missed you, please stay.
Thomas G. Andry
What You Did
Thursday Morning at 5:09
Sleep in my eyes and I'm writing a rhyme?
At the Men's group I'm supposed to say
What are the things you did, to make me this way
You are a constant and steady source of faith and devotion
For most of my life, I had no time for this notion
I saw in you the person I was created to be
To have a relationship with God so I could be free
Of my selfishness and my worldly way
That I was trying to convince you was the in-thing today
Let's get up early, we have to cut the grass
You'd say "love to help, but I've got daily Mass"
MASS! and we have all this stuff to do?
Now every day I'm sitting right next to you.
Thank God that we followed your way of life
Because I would be so lost if you weren't my wife.
Thomas G. Andry
Nov. 13, 2015
What is it like?
What is it like to have a child?
Who has needs severe or mild
Preconceived dreams, hopes and plans
Have slipped through my fingers like grains of sand
What is it like, rare as it may be
To sometimes see someone looking just like me
Brief glimpses of a smiling face
But from a far, far, far away place
What is it like as days pass to years?
There are plenty moments that dry your tears
An appropriate comment from out of nowhere
Tells me that there’s a real person in there
What is it like to look thru my eyes?
Concerns about the future, not times gone by
What’s to be when I’m no longer here?
Who will protect him from the fears?
Of people who do not lend a hand
Or from things he just can’t understand
From places that he should not go
From things that he really should know
From dogs or cats or things that are wrong
From an institution where he doesn’t belong
Why do I doubt and have a care
When I know that God’s hand has always been there
He has selected me for this mission in life
To watch and guard this child living the strife
What is it like to have a child?
Who has needs severe or mild
How blessed I am and how really great
To see God’s “special work” and celebrate.
-Thomas G. Andry
The day was soon to come
The wedding of an elder son
An autistic child doesn’t travel well
And in my son’s case it’s a living hell
He tarnished my thought of wedding music
When I told him he was to be included
A dance of wills began as he tried to undo
The uncertainty that I was leading him to
“It makes my stomach hurt and I’m afraid.”
Are some of the things he repeatedly said.
On my knees was the only place to go
But he could not replace his thoughts of woe
He continued to complain, anguish and cry
“I’m not going, if I have to fly”
And every other reason came to his lips
As he hoped he would make me give up this trip
This dance continued without a pause
As he tried to understand the cause
But I was listening to a different song
For his safety, he had to come along
The day came and the music grew louder
Groom, bride, guests and flowers
Before I knew it, it was done
The groom and bride were finally one
Real music began and not just in my head
I realized my son had enjoyed where he was led
And not just the planes, clouds, mountains and farms
The next thing I knew, he had the bride in his arms
No longer to the music in my head
But this dance was to the prayers I had said
What’s so special about this dance?
For an autistic child it is a chance
In this place full of music, noise and chatter
Something happened that really mattered
He came out of his world of sameness and rote
And entered mine full of joy and hope
That smile on his face as the music was followed
In this room that has now become so hallowed.
What is so special about this dance?
Not just for a bride giving him a chance
But for my son,
Thomas G. Andry
My morning ritual includes an exercise routine which includes 15 minutes on an elliptical machine.
I usually use this time of agony as an opportunity to pray. To be honest, for the most part I pray to have the time pass by somewhat quickly and to keep me from giving up and getting off that dreaded machine. I have to admit that during my prayer time, God has given me some inspirations or insights. The following is one of them.
I think God has gotten used to how I pray to him. St. Ignatius or St. Augustine might not be inspired by my prayer style.
One Tuesday morning as I exercised, I began praying the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary.
As I began, I started thinking about the first mystery, the agony in the garden. One of my unique prayers slipped out of my mouth as a whisper,
“What’s up with the agony in the garden?”
I began to meditate as I said the Hail Mary’s. The following thoughts came to mind.
Up to this point in Jesus’ life, he was operating under His divine nature, doing things like healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on the water, etc. “But what’s up with the agony in the garden?” It started to become clear to me that Jesus was now experiencing what it was like to be fully human. What pain it gave Him. We humans have a fallen and dark nature and Jesus experienced that in such a deep way that he sweat blood. WOW I thought!
OK. “But what’s up with the scourging at the pillar?” Another stylish prayer, huh?
As I meditated on the scourging at the pillar, I realized that our human nature is sometimes wracked with pain. Jesus, in his love for us, had to experience the pain that humans go through many times in their life. Again, up to this point, Jesus had not experienced human pain.
I felt like I was finally in connection with what God was speaking to me all the while hitting that elliptical hard. Again I “prayed” “OK, what’s up with the crowning with thorns?” The word disappointment came to mind. I realized how powerful disappointment can be in our lives. Having things not work out the way we want them. Our pride gets involved in this. We want things OUR WAY. Whether it be our jobs, family, friends, the list goes on. So I felt that Jesus had to experience this powerful human frailty too in order to share in our pain. Here Jesus was, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, who should be honored as the King of Kings and He is receiving a crown of thorns? The ultimate of disappointment!
By now, I really knew that God was revealing the love of Jesus for humanity by intimately experiencing these human conditions. So, boldly I continued my “prayer”.
“What’s up with the carrying of the cross?” This took me back to the scourging at the pillar. Not only do we humans experience pain in our lives but many people carry these pains for years. The carrying of the cross was required so that Jesus could experience the human condition of living with pain. It became clear that what God was showing me was the depth of His love for us by having His son so closely identify with us.
By this time I didn’t have to “pray” “what’s up”.
The crucifixion. The one thing that is universal for all of humanity is the fear of facing and going through the mystery of death. Of course Jesus had to experience the reality of death if he was to share our humanity.
This whole experience is another lesson in trying to explain to me the depth of God’s love for me and all of us.
Thomas G. Andry
Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima