In Italian, “nonno” means grandfather. But my nonno Salvatore was much more to me than a grandfather. He was like my father, he was my best-friend, confidant, dance partner, I was his side-kick. I loved him so much and still do. When he passed away when I was only 10 years old, I felt devastated. While I don't think that anyone fully "recovers" after losing someone that they love so much, I know that I have grown stronger and, somehow, closer to him even though he is not physically on this Earth any longer. I think what devastated me the most about his passing was watching him suffer so much.
Salgi is Born
After having acid reflux for years but always being reassured by doctors that it was “just heartburn” and to take antacids, my grandfather started having difficulty swallowing and would choke on food. Finally, his doctor became concerned and scheduled an endoscopy to check his esophagus. We then received the terrifying diagnosis of advanced esophageal cancer. My nonno underwent surgery and aggressive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. A little over one year from his diagnosis and on Father’s Day of 1998, my nonno passed away.
Fast forward to 2011, my mother started to experience similar symptoms that my grandfather had. Thankfully, her test results showed that while she had some slight damage from reflux, there was nothing precancerous. PRAISE GOD! That is when she and I began researching heartburn and esophageal cancer. We were shocked to find that since his passing, esophageal cancer incidence (those who are diagnosed) had increased over 800%.
We also found out that:
So on November 21, 2011, my nonno’s birthday, we started a nonprofit to raise awareness, encourage early detection and to fund research of esophageal cancer: The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation.
Carrying out the mission of this charity has been bittersweet. We’ve met so many amazing people that have been affected by esophageal cancer and have also met others who have had a loved one affected by this horrific
cancer. But we’ve also felt our heartache from losing my nonno grow deeper whenever we speak to others who’ve lost a loved one or hear that someone we’ve met who was battling esophageal cancer has passed away.
“We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.” ~St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Thankfully, we have been able to use this heartache to help propel us forward and focus on the mission. I believe that this strength comes from my nonno who, along with my nonna, were two of the strongest people that I’ve ever met. The foundation that they both formed for us has helped tremendously and the strong connection that I had with them has sustained me in times of sorrow, despair and defeat.
O Sole Mio
When I was a baby, he would rock me to sleep "faccia a faccia" which means "face to face" (cheek to cheek) and he would sing O Sole Mio. It was very difficult for me to hear that song, until December 2015, when my son was born. Since the first day when he was born, my mother and I would sing O Sole Mio to him and our little love would stop crying almost instantly.
I have a theory that our babies are in heaven before they are born. I like to imagine that they are “up there” with God, Jesus, Mary and all the angels and saints, but are also in the presence of our family members and friends who have attained heaven. So, I take it as a bit of proof to my theory when my son would immediately stop crying and gaze up at us, knowingly, while we sang that beautiful song which still pierces my heart each time I hear it or sing it.
My nonno and nonna were the backbone of our family and they were both loved by so many people. When both my nonno and nonna passed away, nine years apart, the line at their wakes were endless. They moved to the United States in the 1950s and while most of their family was back in Naples, Italy, they made so many friends and some, to this day, are like family to us.
Growing up each Sunday morning, my mother, nonno, nonna and I would go to Mass together. After they passed away, and for a long time, it was very difficult for me to go to Mass because it reminded me so much of my grandparents and the constant heartache that came from losing them. Now, after years of facing that heartache head on, I instead feel their presence while at Mass, especially since we are blessed to attend the same Church that they called “home” for so many years—that we now consider our home.
Today, in celebration of my nonno’s birthday in Heaven, my son and I went to Mass this morning. It was the first time that I had gone to Mass just me and my son. I was nervous, but am so glad that we shared that together. While we were unable to make it to the same Church that we usually go to and were rushing to get to a later morning Mass, we made it on-time and celebrated my nonno’s birthday in the very best way possible.
Would you please pray for me that my nonno and my nonna are in Heaven? Please join me in saying one Hail Mary:
Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!
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I started to wear a veil, or mantilla, to Mass this summer. Several months before making the decision to wear a veil, I went back and forth with myself. Full disclosure: I never wore a veil to church as a child and I didn’t even wear one when I got married. There is also not one person in my church that wears a veil. My mother never wore a veil, I don’t recall my grandmother wearing a veil when she was alive and I certainly did not see anyone wearing a veil in any movies.
However, for some reason, unbeknownst to me, I started to feel like something wasn’t right with my head. I would pull my hair back and if I didn’t have a hair tie I would pull it together and put it in my jacket, sweater or shirt. While fully dressed and wearing a jacket almost up until mid-Spring— it gets COLD in a church filled with marble— I felt exposed.
Not exposed in the sense of being underdressed, but that I was missing an important piece of something.
This feeling was interesting and I couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from. Looking back, it was almost as if the Holy Spirit was calling me to wear a veil.
I just didn’t allow myself to hear it clearly enough.
I went on to attend Mass each week and each time I stepped foot in the church, I felt the same exposed feeling. This went on for a few more months until I saw an article on Facebook regarding women wearing veils to Church, despite the fact that after Vatican II, the Church no longer requires women to wear veils during Mass.
Now I wish that I could say that after reading the article I decided right then and there to begin wearing a veil, I will not lie to you; I was stubborn and went on for a few more weeks with the internal battle between should I wear a veil or should I not.
Thankfully, our God is patient and loving despite my stubbornness and the exposed feeling did not pass, as I expected and almost hoped it would. I continued to include the request that God would help me decided what I should do.
Like the ‘wicked’ Pharisees (Matthew 12:39), I also asked God for a sign to really help me decide whether or not I should wear a veil. In bringing up the topic to my mother, she told me that she had my grandmother’s veil and that I could have it if I would like it.
As you can recall, my beloved grandmother passed away 10 years ago and while I, again, do not remember her wearing a veil, at least when I was with her, the thought of sharing in something so sacred and using a veil that was on her beautiful head, was more than enough of a sign for me.
Why the Hesitation in Wearing a Veil?
1.I am painfully shy and do not like to stand out.
2.I didn’t want to seem like I was “holier than thou.”
3.I didn’t want to take away from the Mass or cause people to look at me instead of Him.
4.With my toddler-beast, I mean my sweet and precious son, I didn’t think the veil would stay on.
5.I didn’t realize how sacred and special it was to veil myself in the presence of the living God.
Why Did I Decide to Wear a Veil?
One Corinthians 11:6 in the bible explains why God asks women to cover their heads during worship.
Veils by Lily writes that “The veil is also a sign of the great dignity inherent to a woman, who has the potential to receive life within herself... both human life and the supernatural life of God.” (veilsbylily.com)
For me, number five from the list above answers why I decided to: I finally realize how sacred and special it was to veil myself in the presence of the living God.
When I wear a veil in Church, I am humbling myself before God. When I enter His Church, I am in the actual presence of Jesus Christ through the Blessed Sacrament.
I need not travel to Jerusalem or Nazareth or Bethlehem or Galilee to feel His presence.
All that I need to do to actually be in His presence is to go to any Roman Catholic Church.
Jesus Christ is there, He is with us each time we go to Church and receive the Blessed Sacrament.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
Wearing a Veil for the First Time.
Now I wish I could say that I wasn’t nervous wearing the veil for the first time. I read some advice online that some wore their veils first at adoration or while praying the Rosary instead of wearing it to Mass for the first time. I decided to go with the “rip the band-aid off” approach and instead wore it to Church one Sunday. I was nervous walking into the Church—palms sweating, heart pounding, knees shaking kind of nervous. I hoped to myself that I sprayed enough hairspray for the veil to stay on and walked through the open doors.
But when I stood in front and bowed before the altar, I felt complete. Since then, I have never felt exposed. Instead I feel happy in that I am showing Him that I am His. I wear a veil because I love Jesus Christ and am devoted entirely to Him.
Should You Wear a Veil?
The decision for a woman to wear a veil during Mass or any instance in which the Blessed Sacrament is present needs to be that woman’s decision.
Just like praying the Holy Rosary, wearing a veil is a sign of devotion and love for God. Sometimes, God tells us to do things and at first thought they are not magnificent in appearance.
However, it is when we say Yes that we can realize just how magnificent God’s requests are.
Do you wear a veil or would you like to start wearing a veil? Please share with us on Facebook!
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!
Being charitable is one of the virtues that my husband and I are constantly teaching my son. For a child, being charitable can come in various, simple forms—one of them being sharing with others. The definition of sharing is to “give” or to “use, occupy or enjoy” a portion of something to another or others.
Like many children, it is not always easy for our little love to “give” or “enjoy” something with others. During playtime with other children, I see how flustered he gets when I remind him to be charitable, as all the children are vying to play with the same toys. I understand that it is not easy for him to share and sometimes I even feel as if I am being cruel by forcing him to share something he is having a great time with. However, as a Catholic mother, I know how important it is for him to begin learning these small acts of charity at a young age.
Wait, WHY is it so important for children to learn acts of charity?
1. It is What Jesus Tells us to do.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity.
“Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.”
When we practice the virtue of charity, otherwise known as “sharing” to our son, we are following Jesus Christ’s commandment to “love one another as I have loved you."
So when my son is playing with the pretend farmhouse at playtime and another little boy or girl comes over to play with it, I remind him to share with them not only so that they can experience the same joy in playing with the pretend farmhouse, but so that my son can follow Jesus’s commandment.
2. It Feels Good to Share.
While this isn’t and shouldn’t be the only reason to do good for others, it naturally feels good to do good. For now, my son doesn’t always seem to experience that happy, “good” feeling that comes when we share and/or do good for others.
Most of the time it seems he begrudgingly listens to me when I ask him to share with others—especially if it is the second or third time that I am reminding him to share. However, there are now moments when I don’t even have to remind him and he just shares of his own free will.
My son many not yet feel the happiness that comes with doing good for others, but you can bet that his momma does! I feel so much joy and excitement at the fact that my son is following Jesus’s commandments, even if it is just sharing a toy.
3. It Teaches Self-Denial.
St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, said “for by the constant practice of repeated self-denial in little things, with God's grace you will increase in strength and manliness of character.” (The Way, n. 19).
In Luke 9:23, Jesus says. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Self-denial sounds cruel, especially when speaking of a child, however, it is an important aspect of what will set ourselves and our children on their path to heaven.
Sure, I could let my son play with the pretend farmhouse and not remind him to share with others who want to play with it as well. While it may be more fun for him in that moment to have the pretend farmhouse all to himself, it will most certainly not teach him the virtue of charity. It also will not feed his soul nor will it help positively shape his character.
What good is it to have fleeting moments of joy if it will eventually cost us our souls?
For now, it may seem like just a toy, but, I pray, when my son is older, his actions will be more substantial.
How to Teach Children to Behave Charitably?
1. Be Their Role Models.
As Catholics, we are all called to follow Jesus regardless of our vocations and during all stages of our lives. The best way for our children to learn how to follow Jesus and live like Jesus is for them to see real-life examples in us, their parents. In other words, parents: we must practice what we preach.
Being a role model is true for a multitude of other examples; eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough exercising, praying the Holy Rosary each day, going to Mass at least once a week, resisting peer pressure and more.
I could remind him to share each and every time we are at playtime, but if I don’t show him that I, too, share and am charitable, not only will he eventually perceive me to be a hypocrite, but my words will be for nothing.
Worse, he may eventually replace my unsubstantiated advice with sinful, selfish ways instead.
2. Treat Everyone as if They Were Jesus.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)
Before I go on, I admit that this is very, very, hard for me to do at times. Especially, those times that I have not been treated well or someone I love has not been treated well. Instead of focusing on those times, it is important to highlight that I am trying to get better and draw inspiration from the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
To expand on my previous point, however, being a role model is something that can be done each day.
While it is admirable to make “grand gestures” by donating your time, treasure or talent at organizations that serve the community (and we all should be doing that), we can find “simple, every day" gestures to treat our neighbors with love and as if they were Jesus.
What are some examples of “simple, every day” gestures?
–okay that last one is specifically directed at my husband, but nonetheless it is indeed charitable and prudent.
3. Focus on what really matters in life.
Saint Giuseppe Moscati was a physician and researcher who “gave his wages and skills to caring for the sick and the poor and was a model of piety and faith. He was beatified in 1975 and canonized in 1987.” Saint Moscati once said, "Not science, but charity has transformed the world," explaining that only a few go down in history as men of science, but all can leave the world a better place by their charity.”
Saint Moscati holds a special place in my heart as I recall my late grandparents on my mother’s side telling us about him. My son also has his same first name, although the American version.
I admit that I would love it if my son advanced far into whichever field he chooses, but I would love it even more if he heeded the advice of Saint Moscati to make the world a better place through charitable acts.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
In conclusion, I pray that he also listens to another Saint who has inspired me by advising:
“The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway,” Saint Theresa of Calcutta.
How do you teach your children to be charitable? Please, share with us on Facebook!
As always, thank you for reading and May the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always.
Online, Catholic. “St. Joseph Moscati - Saints & Angels.” Catholic Online, www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=4075.
Bolin, Author Joseph. “Thoughts from St. Josemarie Escriva.” Paths of Love, www.pathsoflove.com/blog/2009/09/thoughts-from-st-josemarie-escriva/.
“Catechism of the Catholic Church - The Virtues.” La Santa Sede, Vatican, www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a7.htm.
Actually, everyone is called to be a Saint.
According to Pope Francis, “To be a saint is not a privilege of a few... all of us in baptism have the inheritance of being able to become saints. Sanctity is a vocation for everyone.”
When we think of Saints we think of people like Saint Theresa of Calcutta, Saint John Paul II, Saint Maximilian Kolbe , Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, to name a few.
The two words that stand out the most to me from the paragraph above are: Saints and People. The Saints were people. People like you and me. For a while, I thought that All Saints Day was a day dedicated to the wonderful Saints that I listed above. What I learned recently is that All Saints Day, which falls annually on November 1st is actually dedicated to “those who have attained heaven.”
A Saint is a person who has gone to heaven. Miracles, sufferings, almsgiving, visions, and other “saintly” attributes do not only make a Saint. Sometimes I think that I have not suffered enough to be a Saint or that I have not done enough good to be Saint. However, Pope Francis reminds us that a Saint is made in the day-to-day activities and decisions on how we treat ourselves and each other.
The Solemnity of All Saints or Feast of All Saints is a Holy Day of Obligation, in which Pope Francis stated, “reminds us that the goal of our existence is not death, it is paradise!”
To further quote, Pope Francis: “All of us are called to walk in the way of sanctity, and this way has a name, a face: the face of Jesus Christ.”
When we listen to and follow Jesus Christ in all moments of our lives regardless of the circumstances, we will become Saints when we die and, I pray, go to heaven.
Heaven is the Goal
I want to go to heaven and I pray that all of my family members and friends that have passed away are in heaven watching over me and my loved ones. Unfortunately, there is a chance that not everyone is in heaven. This makes me very sad. However, that is why we have All Souls Day which annually falls on November 2nd and is “dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven.”
We are constantly reminded to pray for those who have passed away so that their sins can be forgiven and so that they can be welcomed into heaven.
Let us remember that Our Lady warned the three children at Fátima that there are “many souls in purgatory that had no one to pray for them.” 100 years ago, the Blessed Mother gave us the “Fátima Prayer” which is so important to pray each day, especially when praying the Holy Rosary.
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need of thy mercy.
Don’t Gamble With Your Soul
Two ways that we can “better our chances” for heaven is to go to Mass and confession regularly.
I have written about the importance of confession in my life.
There is a fantastic article on Catholic.com which answers “How to Go to Heaven” and two of the main “ways” to get to heaven is to be baptized and go to confession.
While the first way is only celebrated once in a Catholics life, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also known as confession, should be celebrated much, much, much more often.
After confessing, I almost feel like what I would imagine I felt like after I was baptized. In fact, my husband who was fully initiated into the Catholic Church as an adult said that confessing gave him the same “weight-lifted-off-my-shoulders” feeling that he felt after being baptized. I also felt that “weight-lifted-off-my-shoulders” feeling when my son was baptized. In addition to feelings of overwhelming joy, gratitude and thanksgiving that he was officially welcomed into our Catholic church, the same and only Church that Jesus Christ Himself was baptized into.
Catholic Mom Saints
Moms, let us ask these Saints to pray for us as we continue in our vocation as mothers so that we can take the best care of ourselves, our families, our friends and our neighbors and one-day be welcomed into heaven.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God
Saint Angela Merici
Saint Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saint Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist)
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
Saint Jeanne of Chantal
Saints Louis and Zelie Martin
St. Monica (mother of St. Augustine)
While motherhood is a blessing and a vocation filled with love, miracles (big and small), laughter and endless joy, it can also bring us moments in which we are ready to pull out our hair and throw in the towel. Motherhood is the hardest and most trying job on the planet. In these moments where we are really in the trenches of exhaustion-- in both mind and body-- let us pray for strength, hope, faith and love. It is also in those trying moments when we should recall the beautiful testimony of the beauty and importance of the vocation of motherhood from Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty.
“The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body...The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God's creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation... What on God's good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother?”
I pray that when I hopefully (God please!) get to heaven one day, that all of my family members and friends will be there as well.
As Padre Pio said, “Let us become saints so that having been together on earth, we may be together in Heaven.”
Will you please join me on the journey to Sainthood aka heaven? Don’t forget to connect on Facebook!
As always, thank you for reading and May the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always.
All Saints' Day - Saints & Angels. Catholic Online, www.catholic.org/saints/allsaints
“Pope Francis: Sanctity is for everyone, saints are not 'supermen”, Catholic News Agency, 1 November 2013,
Akin, Jimmy. “How to Go to Heaven.” Catholic Answers. 12 May 2015,
“Saints List 2016.” Great Saints,
Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation,