Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin: should the mother of an infant be Vice President?

The thought occurred to me while I was rejoicing in Senator McCain's good taste: should the mother of an infant, much less an infant with Down syndrome be seeking even more responsibility than she already has?
You know I love her as a person, I posted about her back in April when her youngest son, Trig was born. I love her as a moral, pro-life, no-favorites politician. But should a Christian woman with a young infant be doing this?
Those of you who read this blog know how much of my time is invested in my children. A home schooling mother is very busy; add dozens of therapy appointments a month and a writing career, a teaching job and you have an overwrought mother with a cluttered home. My girls have expressed a desire to attend school, so I am making a move to Connecticut for good Catholic schools to alleviate some of this pressure, and focus more on writing.
For fifteen years, I have had to work in addition to mothering. I don't have a choice; my husband's siblings and parents in El Salvador depend on him for financial support, so I have to pitch in. When the girls were younger, I ran a preschool in my home. They had lots of friends, plenty to do; art, story time, outdoor play, field trips, etc. but less alone time with Mom. For the past 8 years, I worked part-time teaching English at a local college; they got more attention from Daddy, they went on bike rides and out to lunch at the restaurant down the road on the beach. Their relationship strengthened; but the house was a wreck when I got home from a five hour class on Saturday afternoon. I (usually) bit my tongue and tried to focus on my husband and children's happiness while I cleaned up, with their help.
Every decision has it's price. I think the mind of the Church on this issue is that Catholic women have a duty to exercise their prudential judgement on this. Elizabeth Foss rightly pointed out that soon to be Blessed Zelie Martin, mother of St Therese of Lisieux, operated a lace-making business out of her home. St. Gianna Berretta Molla worked as a Pediatrician while her children were young. The famous Old Testament feminine role model, the Proverbs 31 woman made cloth at home, sold it in the public square and brought both prosperity and honor to her family. Danielle Bean, Michele Quigley, and Heidi Hess Saxton edit good Catholic magazines while raising their children. My point is, that although these women are engaged in business activities, their family is their first priority. I know stay at home mothers whose volunteer or social activities encroach upon their mothering time.
We have to seek the will of God for our particular situation and in charity, refrain from criticizing one another. To correct a friend who is going astray in this direction, is the loving thing to do, but until you know the particulars of a working mother, please don't sit in judgement of her. I've been hurt by the judgements of fellow homeschooling mothers with more comfortable financial circumstances, who see all mothers who work as vain and materialistic.
I understand that stay at home mothers are tired of their vital role in raising children for heaven being mocked and this may account for a backlash against Sarah Palin. But I urge you to consider the powerful witness Sarah can be as Vice President. She can be a positive role model of a true feminist; pro-life, pro-family, faithful Christian, whose family life blends with her political career. Her husband is very supportive and isn't afraid of doing his share of child care; and we all know that this is crucial to the success of any working mother. I love when she described how she puts down the blackberry and picks up the breast pump. I would probably try to do both at once and make a hash of it!
Danielle Bean has quite a lively discussion on this subject going on at Faith and Family Live.
9/17 UPDATE: Elizabeth Miller has a great post on how Sarah Palin might be a source of unity for women on this issue.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Book Review: "Roadmap to Holland"

Roadmap to Holland
By Jennifer Graf Groneberg
292 pages
I have had the privelege of corresponding with Jennifer via her blog "Pinwheels" and am a great admirer of her literary talent. Now I admire her as a mother as well.

Those of us who give birth to children with Down syndrome have been likened to travelers to Italy who find that their plane unexpectedly lands in Holland. The title “Roadmap to Holland” is a reference to that famous essay by Emily Perl Kingsley, who worked for decades writing for Sesame Street and whose son Jason has Down syndrome.
She has for generations provided this invaluable wisdom for new parents of children with Down syndrome. In “Roadmap to Holland” we meet Jennifer, a new and compassionate companion on our journey raising a child who is both very different, and yet surprisingly similar to our other children.

Jennifer and her husband Tom had the perfect life; both writers, they lived on a peninsula on a lake in Montana; they worked in their home office down the hill from their home, surrounded by peace and tranquility of nature. Their life was enlivened by the joy of a young son, Carter. Just what inspired them to test fate by conceiving again? This question kept returning to Jennifer’s mind as the difficulties in her journey to Holland began to reveal themselves. Twin boys, Bennett and Avery and were born seven weeks premature with the daunting possibility of lifelong repercussions. Just when Jennifer thought the news couldn’t get worse, she was informed that Avery, her little blue-eyed boy with a full head of blond hair, had Trisomy 21, an extra 21st chromosome. Jennifer’s first reaction, like so many, was an urge to flee, leaving all the fears behind. She, however being the valiant woman she is, stayed the course, and, for months commuted to the hospital, pumping her milk round the clock, holding her babies by turns, caring for her older son, longing for a full night’s sleep, until, finally, her little boys came home, one by one to the little house by the lake.

Jennifer’s story is a vivid, day by day journal of some of the most devoted mothering in modern literature, tempered by her honest descriptions of her personal growth in acceptance of Avery’s diagnosis. Her vivid descriptions of each scene, draws us into her life’s journey so deeply that we are reluctant to see the book end. “Roadmap” evoked so many of my own fond and painful memories as the mother of a daughter with Trisomy 21, that I feel as if I could easily spend a quiet winter afternoon at the little house by the lake chatting with her by the fireplace, sipping tea as our children play at our feet.

Still searching for the spiritual underpinnings of life, Jennifer is not afraid to admit that she has not found all of life’s answers, yet she is powerfully articulate describing the beauty of what she has found; that life with three little boys, one of whom has an extra chromosome, is a blessing she never would have anticipated. She has been enriched by her experience in ways which, until this book came out, many other mothers could not appreciate: she cites the tragic statistic that 90% of expectant mothers whose unborn child is diagnosed with Down syndrome choose to end it’s life. Books like “Roadmap to Holland” provide support to mothers facing the daunting prospect of raising a special needs child; they know that they are not alone. They can pick up this volume; and enter into Jennifer’s world of challenges, tears, and triumphs, where, through sleep-hooded eyes; a grateful mother can still see the sun shine.

I recommend this book for mothers who are facing challenges, and seek companionship on their journey. Jennifer has an extraordinarily detailed description of the therapies available for our children, coupled with a complete appendix with resources for parents of children with Down syndrome. I hope that “Roadmap to Holland” joins “Gifts” on the bookshelves of obstetricians and genetic counselors who want to give their patients a realistic yet inspiring idea of what it’s really like to raise a child with Trisomy 21 in today’s world.

You are my inspiration!

I am really counting on them, and it's so comforting that around the globe, our family is surrounded by prayer. This is the universal Church.
Speaking of support, if you have time, go and see "Henry Poole is Here", a wonderfully inspiring film which shows the Church in a suprisingly good light.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I need your prayers for our move

Things are at a critical point as we approach our last week in New York, and we need your prayers for our move to Connecticut. Something tells me a lot of blessings await our family in our new home; it's the amount of stress we're going through at this moment.
This battle belongs to the Lord, and I leave it in His Hands, please pray with me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good news for those with Trisomy 21

Higher Education Act Passed
Congress has approved a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. This act, which sets federal higher education policy for at least the next five years, will expand eligibility for grants and work study jobs to students with intellectual disabilities; authorize new model programs; and, infuse the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into the higher education law.
Summary of provisions for students with intellectual disabilities
Allows students with intellectual disabilities, who are attending programs designed for them in higher education, to be eligible for the first time for Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and the Federal Work-Study Program.
Authorizes the development and expansion of high-quality, inclusive model comprehensive transition and post-secondary programs.
Authorizes the establishment of a coordinating center for the new model programs. This center will provide technical assistance, evaluation, and development of recommendations for model accreditation standards as well as outreach and dissemination to postsecondary programs, families and prospective students.
Ensure equal college opportunities for students with disabilities
Establishes a national center to provide support services and best practices for colleges, students with disabilities, and their families.
Helps colleges recruit, retain, and graduate students with disabilities and improves education materials and facilities.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
The Higher Education Opportunity Act contains numerous provisions regarding the preparation of educators in early childhood, elementary, secondary and postsecondary education settings to use the principles of UDL in their instructional practices. UDL provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged. It also reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students. The recent UDL efforts were led by a task force headed by Ricki Sabia, Associate Director of the National Down Syndrome Society Policy Center, and 24 general education and disability organizations, including the National Down Syndrome Congress. For more information on the Task Force and Universal Design for Learning see and
The National Down Syndrome Congress applauds the leadership and hard work of our partners at the NDSS Policy Center on this initiative. In addition, we recognize and appreciate the leadership and bipartisan spirit of the following members of Congress who were instrumental in the passage of this bill: Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX), who is also the father of a son with Down syndrome; Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Kennedy (D-MA); Ranking Member Enzi (R-WY); House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Miller (D-CA); Ranking Member McKeon (R-CA); and, Senator Mikulski (D-MD). For more information on the Higher Education Act, contact Madeleine Will at

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Isabella had a great time at Morning Star Camp

I was very hesitant when Isabella, who was returning to Morning Star Camp this year without big sister Gabbi, wanted to stay for two weeks.I thought that this was a very long time for a homeschooled girl to be away from her family. Not that I didn't trust the Sisters implicitly, I have seen few religious with a deeper love and appreciation for the needs of children. I couldn't wait to hear of the lessons in virture, sports, woodlore, crafts, friendship and the Faith which Isabella would bring home from her stay at camp. Plus, the sense of pride and independence which comes from sticking it out during inevitable bouts of homesickness.
I decided to allow Isabella to stay the extra week when we arrived at the Camp, and she immediately disappeared to find last year's friends, leaving me with her bags. She quickly found her cabin, got her things, and installed them in her brand new bunk, and returned to lobby for the second week. I paid the fee, and enjoyed a tour of the spanking new Monfort Retreat (see a slideshow of the construction here) located on top of a mountain in Washington New Hampshire (all right, it's technically a hill, but, to a flatlander like me it's a mountain).

Buildings are log cabins, and we watched them going up by means of beautiful slide shows set to music during the school year, so I was anxious to see the nearly finished product. The cafeteria is cavernous, with high ceilings dotted with rustic chandeliers, and a piano which fills the room with music. Excess noise is absorbed by the log walls, and a large covered outdoor eating area ensures that the girls will be in touch with the natural beauty of the woodlands, no matter what the weather. The log chapel will have arched screened windows, looking out on the quiet lake, and the river which feeds it. A log crucifix over the altar is reminiscent of the one Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha may have made for herself in her long house, not too far away in upstate New York. I breathed in the moist balsam-scented air, one of my favorite smells in the world, and enjoyed the peace of the place. Nothing to hear but the sounds of nature, punctuated by the delighted squeals of friends reuniting and discovering their new campground. Three circles of fragrant new log cabins named after saints greeted the girls.

It was hard to tear myself away from this piece of heaven, but the sisters assured me that plans for a mother's retreat were in the works, so with that promise, and a good push from Isabella, who wanted her adventure to begin, Gabbi, Christy and I left Camp Morning Star to begin the long ride home.
My cell phone had no reception at the camp, and that had been our planned means of communication, so my contact with my middle daughter was limited to two brief phone calls, where she sounded so animated about her adventures in camp, that my missing her was well worth it. Her father was so intrigued by my vivid descriptions of the primeval beauty of the rustic camp set deep in the pine woodlands, that, despite painful sciatica, he offered to drive up to retrieve his nature girl at the end of the two weeks. We left before dawn, using the road Gabbi and I mapped out to go home, and were the second family to arrive at Camp, to the utter shock of Isabella who expected us to be late. She was two shades darker, and that included her clothing, died deep brown from the black mud left by the construction around the camp, but radiantly happy. We helped her clean up the cabin, retiring the mattresses for the season, checking out her upper bunk (which she did NOT fall out of) and admiring the names of the cabins. Hers was Blessed Kateri. Each morning, at reveille, if her cabin didn't show up in their PJ's for prayers, they would be a sister, calling, "Blessed Kateri, time to get up!"Daily Latin Mass and rosary marked their days, and everyone wore their scapular. Girls were cheerfully helping the sisters clean up, and carrying one another's bags to their parent's cars.

Isabella and I took Christy for a tour of the lakeshore, where the rowboats and kayaks were launched, and where, in the future, there will be a beach. I loved seeing her familiarity with the camp, which, only two short weeks ago had been uncharted territory for her. I had been worried that the suburban girl might be overwhelmed by the north woods, but Isabella was in her element in the woods, much like her mother at her age. I always dreamed of a vacation like Isabella has had; adventure in nature, camaraderie and the Faith all blended into two unforgettable weeks.

I'll let Bella tell you about what she did when she gets a chance to write, and she will show you her fascinating photos of nature and girlish antics.
None of them, I regret to say, are of her, since her camera was packed deep in her bag when we arrived. I forgot to ask for it, since I was so taken with the sheer beauty of the camp and wanted to experience it as fully as possible before it was time to leave. I'm sure Isabella will show up in the camp slideshow, which we'll be linking to here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mr C is going strong at 70

He is teaching the medical community to up their expectations of life with Down syndrome.
Mr. C is 70 and has no signs of dementia.
What's his secret?
In the world of Down syndrome, 'Mr. C' is a rarity. A real person whose progress has been tracked for the past 16 years, at seventy, 'Mr. C' has well surpassed the average life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome, currently in the late fifties, but in the teens when 'Mr. C' was born. Further, 'Mr. C' does not exhibit clinical symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, which is almost a given for people with typical Down syndrome over 65 yeas of age. 'Mr. C,' while remaining nameless, puts an optimistic face on the future of aging for people with Down syndrome, as scientists ask the critical question: What is it about 'Mr. C's' individual characteristics and experiences that have made him not only live longer, but also age successfully despite having Down syndrome?
"'Mr. C' paints an optimistic picture for people with Down syndrome who are aging, and says that an ordinary person with Down syndrome ought to be able to make it to seventy, once you find 'Mr. C's' secret," explains Dr. Sharon J. Krinsky-McHale, lead author of the study and Research Scientist at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities.

Read the entire story here.

The power of words to heal and hurt

Friday, August 15, 2008

Spain: Down Syndrome kids aborted

This explains the tragedy of what the world loses when one of our lovely children is aborted.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm so proud of Joey's Mom!

She as part of the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress organized the protest of "Tropic Thunder" in this article.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Book Re-readers unite!

OK, I know you're out there! There are readers of this blog who re-read books. Faith and Family Live blog has a post for you.
I did, before I had three blogs and three kids. . . and it was one of the best ways of learning grammar and literary style. I grew up when teaching grammar was out of style (is it back yet? I homeschool, so I'm out of touch with public educational trends).
From learning the difference between subject and predicate in second grade to my monumental struggles to understand indirect object in seventh grade French (it would have been easier to learn in English first, NON?) I had NO grammar in grammar school. I even got a Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language without a single course in grammar. Oh, I paid for a grammar course, and bought a $100 grammar book, but the professor was bored by teaching grammar and preferred to chat during class time. I was shortchanged on grammar.
But, like my Irish gran who wasn't able to get as much formal education as she would have liked,
I read, and I read, and I read. CS Lewis, Alcott, Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, James Herriott, and when I was 13 I read 1037 page "Gone with the Wind" in a record 3 days, while my worried mother brought meals to my room. It was actually due for re-release in my local movie theatre, and besides, I was enthralled by the story.
These and many other wonderful authors taught me grammar and literary style. Plus, living through a great story more than once is one of life's great pleasures.
If you like my writing, now you know my secret; READ READ and RE-READ great writers!

"It's Just a Word"

I had to express my thougths on today's release of "Tropic Thunder", so I wrote the editorial "It's Just a Word" for Catholic Exchange.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Update on offensive film: "Tropic Thunder"

Help The Arc Fight Offensive Portrayal of People with Intellectual Disabilities


Tropic Thunder is an action/adventure/comedy scheduled for nationwide release on August 13 and promises to be one of the blockbusters of the summer. DreamWorks is the film's producer and Paramount is its distributor.
The premier will be held in Los Angeles, California on Monday, August 11.The film features popular actors Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black as self-absorbed actors filming a big-budget war movie on location. Through a series of freak occurrences, they are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying. Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, a fading action star who earlier failed in his bid for an Oscar as "Simple Jack," a man with an intellectual disability.

"Simple Jack" is featured as a film-within-a-film, with Stiller sporting a classic institutional bowl haircut and bad teeth (see poster below). The film within-a-film's slogan is "What he doesn't have in his head, he makes up for in his heart." A satirical plot synopsis quotes a critic as saying that Speedman's Jack was "one of the most retarded performances in cinema history."
A small number of disability advocates was able to screen the film on Friday, August 8. Their assessment of the film was that it was far worse than anything they could have anticipated. According to David Tolleson, the Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress who attended the screening, "it provides real ammunition for cruelty" especially for the film's target audience of adolescent males. "Not only is the Simple Jack character highly central to the film's plot, it is portrayed in the most demeaning way," according to Tolleson.
In perhaps the single most offensive scene in the film, Matthew McConaughey, who plays a Hollywood agent, speaks to the film's main character who wants to adopt a child. "Well, at least you still have a choice. I'm stuck with mine," states McConaughey while pointing to a photograph of his teenage son who appears to have an intellectual disability.There has been mounting outrage from the disability community as the film's content is gradually becoming known.
For excellent coverage of the issue, see Patricia Bauer's Column and related posts. Hundreds of comments have been posted on the blog expressing outrage about the movie. Representatives of a number of national disability organizations, including The Arc's Executive Director Peter V. Berns, met with DreamWorks and Paramount studio executives in Los Angeles, California on Wednesday, August 6. The purpose of the meeting was to express concerns, request a viewing of the film, and discuss possible solutions.
Take Action
Depending on negotiations with the studio executives over the weekend, The Arc and its coalition partners may be calling on its membership to take appropriate action.
Such action includes a protest at the premier in Los Angeles on August 11 and/or national boycott when the film is released on August 13. Stay tuned......

Friday, August 8, 2008

My horsewoman is away at camp this week

She was so delighted to have finally arrived at the new Morning Star Camp in Washington, NH, after viewing the construction of the new log buildings all year, that she begged me to leave, so I wouldn't interfere with her camp experience, though I was merely enjoying a tour of the beautiful chapel. I took that as a good sign.
Here's a slideshow of the new camp in Washington NH, on a hidden lake deep in the woods. It's breathtakingly beautiful, I can't wait for their first mother's retreat scheduled for next summer!

But I miss my little outdoor girl, so I've been working on a montage of her horseback riding birthday party last May at Nativity Riding Academy of Ridge Long Island, NY.

I missed posting on St. John Vianney

Please understand if posts are sparse; I am in the midst of pre-moving rush. We plan to move to CT in time for school at the Academy's opening on August 27th. WOW! That's soon!
And my 9th grader is still finishing Seton!
So, I will link to Elena's wonderful post on St. John Vianney since I don't think I could do better anyway!

Educating teachers about Down syndrome

Here is a program in Omaha which trains one teacher per school to be an expert in educating children with T21.
The Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City started the program in 2004 after finding that both parents and teachers were nervous about educating students with Down syndrome.
"We thought that we need to get everybody together and create a collaborative, cooperative, welcoming environment so everyone's not anxious," said Amy Allison, executive director of the guild.
Read the entire story here.
HT Omaha World Herald

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Tropic Thunder" to meet with Down Syndrome reps over offensive film

For the time being the viral site for "Tropic Thunder" has been shut down, pending a meeting with Special Olmypics and Down Syndrome Association officials. The story of actors who play "retards" in a film is patently offensive to those with disabilities, and I don't see how the offensive parts can be removed from the film, which is a crude comedy written, directd and acted by Ben Stiller.
This is a swift and temporary victory for advocates for the mentally disabled. But the fim is still going forward. Let's keep the pressure on to stop the offensive nature of this heartless film mocking the intellectually impaired.
Read the entire story here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I just joined the Extraordinary Moms Network

Here is my first post. See the image in my sidebar.

Summer bounty from our garden

We ate these tri-color snap beans while still warm from the sun.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Voluntown Firehouse hosts Chicken Barbeque Fundraiser for the Girard Family

At 4PM, as I drove to the firehouse for the barbecue, I was surprised by the traffic jam created by the hundreds of attendees as the barbecue began. My amazement grew upon entering the firehouse, it was packed with Chinese auction items, handicrafts and baked goods made by loving hands. There was a joyful sense of purpose in the crowd who were united in their purpose to help a family touched by tragedy.
As we walked up to the line for our chicken, I was greeted warmly by Jacqueline Girard, who remembered me from my recent trips to the Academy of the Holy Family, where she will be a sophomore. My oldest daughter Gabriela will be entering the same class, as she begins school there this fall. The girls chatted about upcoming school activities, and I was pleased that Gabriela now has a friend in her new school.
The rain which had been threatening cleared, a hot sun broke through, and as quickly as new tables were set up, more and more families sat down to enjoy a generous portion of savory chicken accompanied by fresh rolls, cole slaw and potato salad. I sat with Albina and Joe, a couple from Norwich, who shared about their work in their home parish. I told them about my upcoming move to Canterbury, and how the spirit of joyful cooperation I saw at the firehouse that evening reaffirmed my decision to join the friendly community of laypeople who are involved with activities at the Friary. Friars moved through the crowd, helping to clean up, and greeting participants. A band played popular favorites, and attendees lingered to enjoy one another's company in the summer twilight. The chicken barbecue was a resounding success.

The Girard family was encircled with love from the community at this difficult time, and we hope to participate in future fundraisers. If you would like to contribute to the fund for the family please send donations to:
Bank of America
590 West Main St (Rt 82)
Norwich, CT 06360

Monday, August 4, 2008

Books for Dessert: A Book Club for Intellectually Disabled is catching on

What intellectual stimulation do intellectually disabled adults have to look forward to after high school? Now, starting at a Long Island library, such clubs are spreading like wildfire.
When Jamie Comer graduated from high school at age 21, gone were the in-depth assignments and hours of homework that had long challenged him.As Comer, who has Down syndrome, began to gradually lose critical thinking skills without the aid of vigorous schoolwork, his mother struggled to find opportunities to keep him mentally sharp."People have always assumed that people like Jamie don't really have opinions on anything remotely complex," said his mother, Nancy Comer, 64, of Port Washington. "They're just expected to work and be happy."
And, in true parent advocate style, Nancy started a book club for her son.
Well done, Nancy!
I hope that by the time my kindergartener is old enough that such clubs are in every library.
Read the entire article here.
HT Newsday

Friday, August 1, 2008

Are you going to receive the Portiuncula Indulgence today?

Here is an image of St. Francis' original Portiuncula, or Little Portion which he restored by hand in response to Our Lord telling him to "rebuild my church".
I am going to visit my favorite church in the world, Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary in Griswold, CT. Since it is a Friary and even has a model of a Portiuncula, we will get the Indulgence.
How wonderfully generous Our Lord is, this was my plan to stop there on the way to Morning Star Camp. I am bringing six young ladies with me to share the experience!
from Mary Vitamin email:
The Portiuncula Indulgence refers to the plenary indulgence originally granted by Pope Honorious III at the request of St. Francis to those who visit the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi on August 2nd. This chapel was dear to the heart of Holy Father Saint Francis. (The original small chapel is now enshrined in a large basilica.) The indulgence has been extended to Franciscan churches the world over.
(See the
Catholic Encyclopedia for further reading.)

Father Marion Habig, OFM, explains the history of the Portiuncula indulgence:
“A special impulse led St. Francis on a certain night to go to the chapel. There he saw our Lord and His holy Mother surrounded by a great host of angels. Filled with astonishment and reverence, the saint prostrated himself upon the ground and adored the Divine majesty. Then he heard the voice of our Lord urging him with ineffable tenderness to ask some special favor. Nothing was so near to the heart of Francis as the salvation of souls, and so, after a few moments of reflection, he asked for the grace of a full pardon for all who, being contrite and having confessed their sins, would visit this little sanctuary. Mary cast herself upon her knees before her Divine Son, and repeated the petition of her faithful servant.”
The Franciscan Book of Saints (Franciscan Herald Press:1979), 570.