Monday, December 30, 2013

A message from Father Francis Maple

FATHER FRANCIS MAPLE
This Christmas we need to focus on the greatest reality there is - that God loves us so much that He gave us His only Son to free us from our sins! We need to be grateful for His love and respond to His love; and the best way to do that is by surrendering our life completely to Him, as He has surrendered Himself completely to us. How do we do this - by putting Him first in our daily lives? This means that we build our day around Him. We need to give Him quality time in our prayer life. As we meditate on His birth and see Mary holding her divine Child in her arms we can think of her saying, "Would you like to hold Him?" Then she hands Jesus to you and you get to hold the God of the universe in your arms. But we do not just stop there – we realise EVERY DAY we can hold Jesus in our arms when we receive Him in the Eucharist! To believe that Jesus, who is God, and who the Universe cannot even begin to contain, became a little baby for us and continues this humility in the Eucharist is amazing - What a gift He has given to us! How very blessed we are!

I also realize and appreciate that there are some who think Christmas is a hard time. You may be experiencing loneliness or illness, or you may be in sorrow because you have lost someone dear. You need to know that you are never alone! Jesus became one of us so that He could be near us! There is never a time when you need to feel that no one cares or that you have to go through your struggles alone - YOU ARE LOVED! This is what Christmas is about, and this needs to be our hope that brings us through the darkness.

Remember that no matter how dark the darkness is - it can never conquer the Light! Try this - go into a dark room and light a match or candle and watch just how the darkness flees from the power of the light. Jesus is that Light and He is inside of YOU! That is so true. Cling to this Truth, and know His power!

This Christmas let us pray for each other and accept the love of the Christ Child, and of Our Father who gave Him to us, our best Christmas present. Mary and Joseph, we thank you for the part you played in bringing Jesus to our world.
  

Friday, December 27, 2013

Be Joyful! God is....

Great
Love
Goodness
Kindness
Healing
Above all else
King of Kings
Everlasting
Unchanging
Encompassing

Read More Here at His Unending Love
Add to the list!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

GAUDETE


MAY YOU HAVE
 A VERY BLESSED CHRISTMAS
 AND A 
PEACEFUL AND JOYFUL 
NEW YEAR

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Quick Bytes #72: Come to Think of It

.
My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, 
is very simple: loving others. 

Come to think of it, 
why do we have to wait until Christmas to do that?
                                                
 - Bob Hope

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Something for me to eat



It was five days before Christmas, Father Ignatius drove into the car park and was about to enter the Parish house when he noticed a man standing by the Church door. He walked up to him and the man asked: “Have you got something for me to eat?”

He was in his fifties perhaps, although he looked much older. Unshaven, wearing dirty clothes with tears down the pockets, an open shirt revealing skin that had not been washed since who knows when, and shoes with no socks.
CONTINUE READING HERE

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Christmas Tale

 
It was a very cold week in early December. Some parishioners asked Father Ignatius if it was all right to build a Christmas crib in the car park as well as the one usually set up in church by the Altar.

The intention was to build a small wooden hut made of old wood they could pick up cheaply from the local saw mill; and then decorate it, and use the Nativity scene statues which they discovered in the store room deep in the basement under the church whilst they were cleaning it in summer.

Father Ignatius agreed, “as long as you don’t ask me to lift those heavy statues from the basement … they’re quite heavy you know. So be careful!” he said.


Please continue reading HERE

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Quick Bytes #71: Regifting

.
This Christmas, we celebrate God's great love for us.

And that is one present that is acceptable to regift!!
.

Friday, December 6, 2013

What did she know?

 

It’s amazing how sometimes a chance remark or a word spoken in jest can lead one to think something anew or with a fresh point of view.

Father Ignatius was helping with the dismantling of the Nativity scene in church and putting away the various statues safely for use the following Christmas. One of the helpers lifted the statue of the Virgin Mary and remarked: “Look at her face. She looks sad. It’s as if she knew what was to happen to Jesus when He grew up.”

“She’s probably tired after giving birth,” replied another helper.

“No … she looks sad, not tired. Do you think she knew that Jesus would be crucified Father?”

Father Ignatius sat down on a nearby chair.

Read the rest fo this story HERE.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spiritually Adopt a Priest

Our priests need prayers.  Priests are challenged as satan seeks to tempt them and devour their souls. They are the first line of attack that satan wages on our church.  He knows that without our priests, we have no sacraments.  We have no Eucharist.   Evil seeks to destroy our church.  Without priests, we have no church.  They are the roots of the vine that Jesus planted when he chose Peter as our first Pope and the apostles as our first priests.  Without prayer, priests are unarmed in a world of sin.  We need to pray for our priests! 

I offer this suggestion when praying for priests.  Adopt a priest for a year or for a life time.  Pray for that priest.  Pray for him as if he were one of your family, one of your children.  Gather together as a family and pray a rosary for your priest.  When you cannot gather together, pray for this priest yourself.  Offer three Hail Mary's a day for him.  He is one of our Mother's beloved sons.  Offer up your sufferings for him.  Pray for his strength.  Pray that he have a burning love for souls.  Pray that he be given energy when he's tired.  Pray for him to see Jesus in every soul.

Read more at "His Unending Love.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Priestly Prayer of Jesus

And Jesus Prayed
John 17

After Jesus had spoken these words, He looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come;  glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  I glorified You on earth by finishing the work that You gave Me to do.  So now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had in Your presence before the world existed.

Read More at "His Unending Love."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Quick Bytes #70: Your Second Birthday

.
Quick ... what day were you baptized?

If you are like me, or the hundreds that Pope Francis asked, you might not know.

But we should. 

And in his words, we should celebrate it as "our second birthday".  After all it is the day God forgave us from our sins and welcomed us into the Church.

And what better present is there than that?
.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I need to Pray More

Yes, I really do.  I need to bring myself closer to God.  He waits in the silence of my heart for me to speak.  He stands there as my Lord and Savior.  His arms outstretched on the tree. Yes, I really do need to pray more.  For He is My God.  I am His Child. 

I need to remember the patriarchs of old who worshiped God in the deserts, valleys and hills.  They followed his commands.  He was their God, and they were His people.  They were loved and cherished by the One Who created all.  He was their great I AM.

Read more at "His Unending Love." 

How to donate nothing?

 
How to donate to a charity without costing you a cent or a penny?
 
Simple !!!
 
To find out how just click HERE.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When We Die

Our hearts stop beating.  Our lungs no longer fill with air.  Our bodies cease to function.  Our immortal souls are released from our bodies.  We enter into eternal life, and our souls leave our physical bodies.  We only take with us, that which we are.

Reports from those who have returned include tunnels through which the soul flies at speeds unknown on earth.  Lights are brighter than any here.  Colors are vibrant and living.  Colors that have never been seen are visible to the soul who has left the body.
 
Read More Here at "His Unending Love."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Couple of Thoughts from Great Saints - On Obedience

You will become a saint if you have charity, if you manage to do the things which please others and do not offend God, though you find them hard to do.

- Saint Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975)

Where there is no obedience, there is no virtue; there is neither goodness nor love. And where there is no love, there is no God. Without God, we cannot reach Heaven. These virtues form a ladder; if a step is missing, we fall down.

- Saint Padre Pio (1887-1968)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Quick Bytes #69: A Clear View

.
In today's Gospel, we read how Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree so he could have a clear view of Jesus.

Zacchaeus did not let anything - the crowd, the grumbles or his physical limitations - get in the way of seeing his Savior.

I'm pretty sure we can apply that lesson to our daily lives.

(Tree climbing not required)
.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Quick Bytes #68: Saint You

.
The Feast of All Saints, November 1, 2013

Think having your own Feast Day is out of the question?

Not so.

Someday, today could be your Feast Day.

I'm praying that happens.
.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

SHADOWLANDS - Ros - RIP

I am so sorry to let you know that SHADOWLANDS - Ros, a fellow Catholic Blogger, passed away in September 2012.

I link to a memorial Blog written in her honour by fellow Blogger Manny. Thanx Manny.

http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/2013/02/in-memoriam-ros-shadowlands.html

May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On Rendering to Caesar and to God



Emperor Tiberius Tribute Coin via Wikimedia
In Matthew 22: 15-22 we have the wonderful incident where Jesus confounds the Pharisees who set out to trap Him with the question, "Tell us therefore what dost thou think, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" Jesus takes control of their narrative with his divine answer, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's."

As a small child I was completely in awe of how Our Lord escaped their trap. I still am. He was surrounded by evil pressing in on Him, and not for the first time by a long shot. Yet He had no fear and showed all of us how to triumph over those who would tie us firmly to the vision of worldly power alone. He drew attention to the fact that Caesar has earthly power, but that God also requires a rendering quite apart from what is owed to Caesar. And what is it to be rendered to God?

St. Hilary of Poitiers says “We are bound to render unto God the things of God; our body, soul, and will; for the coin of Cæsar is in gold, in which his image is engraven; but God’s coin is man, in whom is the image of God.”

St. Bernard of Clairveaux says, “Render unto Cæsar the penny which has Cæsar’s image; render unto God the soul which He created after His own image and likeness, and ye shall be righteous.”

What belongs to Caesar is perishable, consumable, able to be destroyed, and of only temporary value. What belongs to God is of eternal value, imperishable, unable to be destroyed. This alone should show us how to think about what Caesar demands of us and how we should respond, where our priorities of choice should lie, why Caesar lacks the power to authorize the killing of the innocent of any age or to attempt to reign in our God-given liberties of conscience. When Caesar tries to invade God's territory, he has gone way out of bounds and we, who belong to God, must recognize our nobility of being by virtue of being created in His image and likeness, and act on it. Moreover, what is true of us is true of every human being on earth, even Caesar who will one day face his own reckoning with his Creator.

Our Lady of Fatima asked the three children to pray for poor sinners so they do not go to hell. Indeed, in praying for them we are praying for the coin of God, that it be returned to Him and placed in His treasury of the saints forever.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Quick Bytes #67: Doing Nothing

.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil 
is for good men to do nothing.
                                          
                                          - Edmond Burke
.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

God Surprises Me

My latest article for Catholic Mom.com is posted. It is an article about an awesome God-incidence, called Surprised by God ... Again.

When we were looking for a new place to live, a parishioner, (I will call her Carol), found out about it and offered us her condo. She said she only needed enough money to pay the expenses and she would rent us the place for a low figure! I wondered if this was an answer to my prayers to find a new home. 

read more here

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wherever You Go

This is a video I made about a year ago.

I hope you like it.

Listen specially for the short monologue in the middle.

God bless.

Vic Moubarak

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Quick Bytes #66: Deal?

.
The fact that we will go through tragedy and suffering, in our human lives on earth, is a given.  

But lest we get too caught up in our own sorrows, let me remind you that our Lord would only need to utter one phrase to put it all in perspective ...

"Want to trade?"
.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How is a Mother-in-Law like the Holy Spirit?

 
Every moment of our lives is permeated with the Presence that loves and bestows.  To live in faith, means to be able to see this loving and constantly bestowing Presence. . . . Every moment of our lives brings us His presence.  Every moment of your life is a moment of meeting with the Presence, that is loving you. . . . . God links grace to each moment, be it an easy or a difficult one. . . . everything that happens in your life, is linked with some kind of grace. . . . It is extremely important for you to believe in this constant Presence which manifests itself in various ways. . . . If you would believe that you are always immersed in the merciful love of God, who never abandons you, then it is certain that you would never fall.Everything that you experience is linked to the love of God who loves you, and to His desire for your good. (See Romans 8:28)  -- Father Tadeusz Dajczer in The Gift of Faith under "To Perceive the Loving Presence" in chapter 1.
Tout est grace.  Translated:  Everything is grace.  -- St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action. . . . The books the Holy Spirit is writing are living, and every soul a volume in which the divine author makes a true revelation of his word, explaining it to every heart, unfolding it in every moment.― Jean-Pierre de CaussadeThe Sacrament of the Present Moment 
Some moments are easier to perceive God's presence, in us and in those we love.  Moments like holding your newborn, or just a newborn, especially a newly baptized newborn.  Moments when we feel our hearts stirring within us (see Luke 24:32) while reading Scripture, or hearing the preaching of someone filled and in prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit.  Moments when we are blessed to experience the holy death of someone passing from this world into eternal life to behold forever the beautiful and glorious presence and to feel the embrace of our awesome and loving God.

Then there are the moments when those in our own homes or in our workplaces or in our churches or our childrens' schools or on the road to those places, do things or say things that evoke frustration, anger, even wrath.  Then do we sense God's presence?  Then do we perceive the loving, dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within our souls through the grace of the Sacrament of Baptism and confirmed in us by the grace of Confirmation or, in the case of non-Sacrament-receiving believers -- through the repentance and forgiveness of sins received through the "Sinner's Prayer", which may be equivalent to the Baptism of Desire (CCC #1259), or through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:5)?

I don't.  I want to.  I am praying I will, but I don't.

This past Saturday night I had a little battle with my younger daughter.  There was a preceding battle, this past Friday morning, the second day of their private Christian school, when she was defiantly wearing something non-compliant with her school's dress code.  Actually both her shirt and her pants were against the rules.  The little battle lasted probably 20 minutes.  I'd tell her to change.  She would not.  I would express that she had to change, had to obey, had to follow the rules, and she would not.  I dressed her.  She got undressed and back into what she had been wearing.  I took away the shirt and hid it, she said she was just going to stay home from school.  Finally she did end up wearing a dress that was officially too short, but I let it go because at least it wasn't skin tight like the "jeggings" she had on.

Now on Saturday evening she was breaking her bedtime rule.  She is supposed to be in bed by 10 p.m.  She was not and because she was also late going to bed the night before and was up early, she was overtired.  She was fighting with her sister and was refusing to sleep either in her bunk bed or in my bed, since she shares the room with her sister.  I would not have it again.  Defiance.  Rebellion.  Disobedience.  Disregard for my parental authority in favor of her autonomy.  I was filled with anger and yes it was in the vicinity of rage.

She claimed her strained arm, injury of 1.5 months ago, was hurting, so I left the room and the confrontation with her to get her an ice pack, wrist brace, and ibuprofen.  My mother-in-law had been sleeping in the upstairs bedroom, but sometime during my elevated vocalization, and my daughter's crying, she woke up.

She came out of her darkened room into the hallway and grabbed my arms lovingly, gently, and said, "Colleen, can I help you?"

I brushed past her, shaking free of her hands, and said, "No.  I have to find her wrist brace.  Her wrist is hurting."

She said, "Fine," and left me alone.

So how is a Mother-in-Law or at least how was my mother-in-law in that moment like the Holy Spirit?

It is obvious to me after my morning meditation, that dovetails so nicely with my second read of the The Gift of Faith and the quote from St. Therese that was in a email from my parish priest this morning, as well as being included in the "To Perceive the Loving Presence" section of the The Gift of Faith.  The Holy Spirit has these little repetitions, and complementary sources of his teaching for me, and for many of us, because it takes this orchestration to make an impact on us.

My meditation today was on John 14:22-31 inclusive of the verses
23Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 
25 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 

Father Bartunek, in The Better Part provides food for meditation on these verses, of which I bolded the parts that were physically played out by mother-in-law last Saturday night:
The Holy Spirit is like our own personal trainer, but instead of honing our physique, he polishes our love, our holiness, our very hearts.  Unfortunately, we often forget about him.  He is polite, he knows he is only a guest, because even though he created us, he completely respects our freedom.  And so he waits for us to listen to him, to ask him for guidance and strength.  And if we listen, he will teach us, just as Christ taught his disciples during those years when they walked together through the hills of Galilee and Judah.
Then he provides a prayer for us to offer to our indwelling guest, the Holy Spirit of God:
Wherever I go, you are with me.  Whatever I do or say, you are with me.  Whatever I look at or think about, you are there within me.  I believe in you.  Yet I have to ask:  Why am I not more aware of you?  Grant me that grace, Lord --teach me never to walk alone.
I believe in you, Lord, but help me to believe more fully.  Help me to believe so completely that my life and yours become one.  In all my activities, conversations, and relationships, I want to live and communicate the joy and peace that only you can give.
My personal prayer:

Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit --- I trust in you!  I know that you have given me the gift of faith, the gift of loving you, and the holy desire to know, and love you with a purer heart, and to have the grace of unceasing recollection - attention to your indwelling Holy, and Loving presence in my soul.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for my mother-in-law!  Thank you for teaching me that in that moment she physically showed me, in a way my senses and memory could not dispute, a gentle, loving presence that wanted to help me.  And what did I do?  I pushed past her and refused the help.  I certainly didn't ask her for it.

In my anger, on the brink of rage, I did not in any moment come against the spirit of anger and disobedience that were active in the confrontation between me and my daughter . . . . anger on me, and disobedience on her.  Not to mention the selfishness involved in both of us wanting our way.  I am too immature and too lacking in the virtues of gentleness and self-control to succeed in moments like this, and yet I have the loving, gentle presence of God within me and I don't turn to you for help.  Thank you for the teaching, please help me to do better next time!  Please forgive me, and please do help me!

In Jesus's Most Holy Name, and in your name Yahweh Sabaoth, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, I ask these intentions, Amen.
If you would believe that you are always immersed in the merciful love of God, who never abandons you, then it is certain that you would never fall.  -- Father Tadeusz Dajczer in The Gift of Faith under "To Perceive the Loving Presence" in chapter 1.
If you have repented, and have experienced God's presence, and you are in a "state of grace" then you should be confident that the Holy Spirit is with you, and that you are immersed in the merciful love of God who never abandons you, even when you are sinning, and even when you have sinned.  What is affected if you are not in the state of grace, is your ability to perceive his holy, loving, life-giving, and wise presence.  What should you do if you don't think you are in the state of grace?  The Didachean early Christian document written about 70 A.D. (70 years after Jesus was born, in the 1st Century) states regarding Holy Communion:
"Whosoever is holy [i.e., in a state of sanctifying grace], let him approach. Whosoever is not, let him repent (Didache 10). . . But first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one" (Didache 14). 
The Didache is only 99 cents on Kindle and takes less than an hour to read.  It is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  If you are Catholic and you want to grow into a state of unceasing recollection as I do, it helps to frequently receive the Sacrament of Confession.  For any Christian, Catholics and non-Sacramental believers, it helps to have frequent examinations of conscience and acts of repentance, rather than to walk our Christian life recipient of the cheap grace that includes only forgiveness of sins, but not the repentance that St. John the Baptist and Jesus preached.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost Of Discipleship

May we all be brought by the Holy Spirit, and by our docility to his teaching and internal transformation to unceasing attention to the fact that we are, at every moment--the good ones, the tense ones, every moment immersed in the merciful love of God, and sustained by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!  May this help us grow in the gift of peace that Jesus gave us, that we would trust in him and not let our hearts be troubled. (See and meditate on John 14!)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Don't Let Temptation Frighten You

Saint Padre Pio wrote to one of his adopted children:

Don't let temptation frighten you. God wants to test and strengthen your soul by it and gives you the strength to overcome it at the same time. Up till now your life has been that of a child but from now on our Lord wants to treat you like an adult. However, the trials of adults are far superior to those of a child and that is why you are so upset to begin with. But the life of your soul will quickly settle down; it won't delay. Be patient a little longer and all will be well.

So let all these empty forebodings drop. Remember that it isn't the Evil One's suggestions that put you in the wrong but rather your consent to those suggestions. Our free will is the only thing capable of good and evil. But when our will is groaning under the trials inflicted on us by the Tempter and does not desire what he proposes, then not only is it not a fault but it is a virtue.


Take care not to fall into anxiety when you are struggling against these temptations because that only serves to strengthen them. You have to treat them with scorn and not worry yourself about them. Turn your thoughts to Jesus crucified, his body laid to rest in your arms, and say: “Here is my hope, the source of my joy! I bind myself to you with all my soul and will not leave you until you have set me safe.

Certain people, places, or things may be occasions of sin for us. If possible we must avoid them. But sometimes, as with people we live or work with every day, we are forced to interaction. In that case, if we are feeling anxious or fearful because we know a certain person triggers a negative, sinful, reactive response in us, we must change something in ourselves. We must stop giving these people the power to control our emotions. This is where St. Pio points us to the use of our free will and the practice of virtue.

We might ask ourselves, what virtue must I acquire in abundance in order not to fall prey to these temptations? Then we can turn to Christ and ask Him to help us. As we change ourselves, we will do a better job of resisting temptation and perhaps even shape better relationships with the problem people in our lives.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Did she see Him?

Father Ignatius was busy in his office dealing with some paper work when Eric, a young man in his mid-twenties, came in.

“I’ve changed the oil Father and gave the engine a good run. It’s as good as new.”

Eric was a car mechanic at the local garage and every now and then he came over to the parochial house to maintain the priest’s car and undertake any minor jobs that needed doing.

“Thank you” replied Father Ignatius, “I’ll await the invoice from your boss in due course.”

“Oh I see you got that picture of Jesus …” said Eric pointing at the wall. “The boss has the same one in his office at work.”

“It’s very popular …” mumbled the priest hoping that the youngster would soon leave. He had plenty of paperwork to get on with and he could really not afford the time for a chat.

“Did He really look like that?” continued Eric.

“Who?”

“Jesus … did He look like that? This is the picture painted by that nun isn’t it? What’s her name?”

Father Ignatius put down the letter he was reading and turned to Eric. It was obvious that although he wished to get on with his work the Good Lord had other plans for him.

“Her name is Sister Faustina. Her real name at birth was Helena Kowalska.”

“Greek was she?” asked Eric making himself comfortable in the armchair near the window.

Father Ignatius took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes with his right hand, as if to summon every ounce of patience that the Good Lord might send him. “Why now, when I’m busy,” he prayed silently.

“No Eric,” he said with a smile, “she was Polish.”

“That’s right; I knew it was somewhere foreign. Near Jerusalem where Jesus came from …”

“Not quite near Jerusalem …”

“And she actually saw Jesus and painted Him. That’s what I have been told. Do you believe that?” interrupted the young man eagerly.

“Well …”

“I mean … she could have been lying. Can you prove that she actually saw Jesus and He looks like that picture?”

“Despite my age,” said the priest abruptly, “I can assure you I was not around when Sister Faustina was around. So I can’t actually prove what you ask for.” He then immediately regretted what he had said and continued in a more gentle voice.

“Look Eric, we are told that Sister Faustina back in 1931 had a Vision of our Lord. She saw Him dressed in white and standing very much as in the picture there. From His heart rays came out, one red and another pale, as you can see.

“The Lord spoke to her and asked her to paint an image according to the Vision she can see and to write ‘Jesus I trust in you.’

“And that’s how we came to have this picture."

“Oh …” said Eric.

“Now you and I have two choices to make,” continued the priest.

“We can believe this is all true. Or we can believe she was lying and nothing really happened.

“If indeed the story is true, and we chose to ignore it, we would have lost a great opportunity to venerate the image of Christ; as He has asked us to do when He spoke to Sister Faustina.

“And what a great pity, and tragedy that would be! To ignore a request made by our Lord Himself.”

“I see …” said Eric pensively.

“Our Faith has a number of mysteries Eric,” continued the priest in his gentle tone, “things that we are invited to believe without any proof and without any evidence. That’s why they call it Faith. To believe in something when your common sense tells you otherwise.”

There followed a few moments silence whilst Eric digested the information he’d just heard.

“Does Jesus appear and speak to people these days too?” he asked finally.

“I believe He does,” replied Father Ignatius, “He certainly spoke through the Holy Spirit to Father John Woolley. Here, you can borrow his book …”

Eric picked up the book handed by the priest and read the title, “I am with you.”

He then asked, “Jesus performed miracles when He was on earth … Does He do so now? Do miracles happen now Father?”

“Yes … they do. Miracles happen every day to a lot of people. The sad fact is that too many are not willing to believe that they happen.

“Christ is alive and is amongst us now as He ever was. He speaks to us and guides us through His Holy Spirit.

“But hearts have hardened Eric. Plenty are not willing to believe.

“They may consider themselves Christians or Catholics but they don’t know what to believe anymore. They just go through the motions by going to church and by claiming they’re Christians.

“Christianity is not just a label Eric. Or a brand name. It is real. Christ is real and is alive today as He ever was. It is not an event that happened two thousand years ago which we commemorate as a Remembrance every Sunday. Christ is alive and here today. He is here in the Eucharist; He is here in the Holy Spirit who abides in our very soul, if we let Him. If we invite Him …”

Eric hesitated for a while and then asked “I’d like to really believe in all these things Father. I don’t know how …”

“That’s a good start … wanting to believe. Opening your mind and heart to the Lord.

“Pray about it. Ask God to help you believe. If you like come and join us at the Bible classes we hold every now and then here at the Parish center.

“Ask for God’s help and leave the rest to Him.

“Say what you can read in that picture on the wall, ‘Jesus, I trust in you’ and mean it every time you say it.”

Note: I am with you. Author John A Woolley ISBN 09508840-7-3 

More Father Ignatius stories HERE.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guilt No More!

A few weeks ago I was assisting with video taping the testimony of a woman that aborted her second child.  I'll have the link to this video below.  She had been raised Catholic, actually in a Catholic orphanage, so she knew that abortion was the killing of a baby, and she had not been deceived that what was being aborted was pregnancy tissue, so she knew even as she drove there, waited in the waiting room and laid on the steel table as the procedure was done, that she was having her unborn baby killed.  She just thought there wasn't any other way.  She was divorced from her husband and she could barely support the first child they had together.

She mentioned there were no crisis pregnancy centers then, back in 1973.  There were no sidewalk counselors.  She wishes now that there were.

She says how her friends and even her ex-husband tried to cheer her up, from what followed: a very long lasting depression.  She would go out with friends drinking and such but essentially every night finished the same way, for 20 years, with her crying herself to sleep.

Not everyone with guilt from sin cries themselves to sleep, but there are some who do know this prison of guilt, sadness, and sorrow.

Some of us let our minds be taken back to our failings, when we hurt others, or simply repeated the first sin in the garden, believing a lie that we could know good from evil, and think and do what was pleasing, or expedient for the god of self rather than surrendering to the will of God, and falling at his feet as Mary did (see John 11:32), but instead deliberately choosing to do or to enable sin to happen.  Sin that caused pain for others, including the pain of the Savior during his passion.

There was something I learned at some point and then was rather clearly written about by St. Ignatius in his teachings on the discernment of spirits.  Dwelling in guilt is a state encouraged by evil spirits that want to keep us from the peace and joy, and abundant life that are Christ's gift to us.  He has already won the victory, and already suffered the penalty of our sins.  We can and should feel sorrow and regret for our sins and failings, but we should refuse to let them distract us from the goodness and love, the forgiveness and mercy, the healing that Christ wills for us. 

  • If something keeps us from rejoicing in our salvation (see Psalm 51:12) due to Christ's obedience and love,
  • If something keeps us from knowing the freedom that comes from surrendering our hearts daily and throughout the day to the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit,
  • If something keeps us from the confident trust that no matter how badly we screwed up, how hurtful and damaging and far reaching the effects are from our sin, the truth is we are loved, and blessed,

then that something is not from God! 

That something is being orchestrated by those fallen spirits that followed Lucifer out of heaven and are at war with the children of God as described in Revelation 12.  That something is keeping us from a fuller experience of the love of God so necessary for us to grow in faith and to bear fruit for our Lord and King.

Yes, we are weak, we are selfish, we are proud in our intellectual myopia and encouraged by the secular, moral relativism of our peers and society.  Yes, we have been given much, the Gospel has been read to us and hopefully preached to us in words and by the example of those God puts into our lives, and yet we sinned and continue to sin.

But the thing I am trying to get those of you to know, those of you like Maria in the video to know, is how much Jesus truly loves you.  He suffered not just out of obedience but to pay the price for my sin and yours, no matter how serious, how grave, how undoable, how awful that sin and its effects are. 

Maria said at one point in filming the video that she still feels the guilt from the abortion.  I asked her does she mean guilt or regret, because I think that is a key part of her testimony.  She agreed it was regret now, not the guilt that imprisoned her for so many years.  She went on to explain that when she responded to an altar call the counselor told her all her sins were forgiven.  Her question was whether the sin of abortion had been forgiven.  And the counselor told her, "All of your sins."  This sin of her abortion had been confessed many times, but she still had that question if it had been forgiven.

Now, she believed God forgave her, but it was still many more years before she forgave herself.  She still regrets the abortion as she thinks about how that baby is the missing sibling in her older daughter's and younger daughter's lives and the missing aunt or uncle to her grandchildren.  They needed that person in their lives and they are missing out because she had the baby killed.

So, the regret lingers and surfaces.  Still, she is free now.  What does that mean?  She describes it as finally accepting that Christ's sacrifice was to bear the guilt of her sin, and accepting and believing and trusting in his love meant forgiving herself too.  She says the door to leave her prison was open the entire time, but it was years after responding to the altar call that she finally walked through that door and accepted the healing.

Only this past year did she begin speaking about her abortion.  She told the leader of our Prolife club at school, and then was asked by him to tell her testimony in the high school chapel.  She then began attending our Saturday "Witness for Life" visits to two abortion clinics in the Chicago area.  Her granddaughter, that she is raising as her own child, comes with her.  You'll see her in the video too.

  • Are you prone to experience guilt for your past sins and do you want to be free of it?
  • What is keeping you in that prison of guilt and shame? 
  • Do you want to be free of it?
Recently I noticed a verse reference written in my daughter's yearbook by a friend.  I wonder if her friend wrote it there because she knows we are Catholic, and she is taught that Catholics, just like Martin Luther, are paralyzed in their guilt.  This is why they use the word "Liberty" in the naming of their schools and churches.  The verse really provokes much thought:

12as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

First thing that hits me is this is in the OT - the Old Testament.  It isn't Ephesians or Romans or Galatians.  This is back during the time of King David.  Yet here is God saying he removes our transgressions from us.  Now, in the light of Salvation History, we know he does this through God becoming incarnate of the Virgin after she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and then as the Lamb of God, (prefigured by the sacrificing of unblemished lambs exemplified in the sacrifice of Abel, later the sacrifice of Abraham in place of Isaac, by all the Israelites the night of the Passover, and then established for the Israelites by Moses at the command of God) suffered torture, persecution, bore the punishment in his soul for our sins as he hung powerless on the cross, and died.

You know what?  God wants us free.  He loves us and wants us to walk out of the prison of guilt, and jump into his arms like St. Therese described so beautifully:

The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, "my way is all confidence and love," has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness and nothingness, she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. "I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus." The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her in all her littleness. (Guy Gaucher, The Spiritual Journey of Therese of Lisieux, p.2)
God taught me more about this through my youngest two children.  My daughter will misbehave in some way, and it soon becomes a battle of wills.  She stays entrenched in it, gets angry and pouty, and will not accept a hug or anything to try to bring it to a quicker and happier end.  Eventually, usually after she gets a nap, or some other means of a longer timeout, she does accept the hug, and all is better.

My son, on the other hand, as soon as he does something he knows is wrong and he shouldn't have done -- could be hurting me, his sister, wrecking something in the house, he very soon, almost immediately, realizes what this has done to our relationship, and gets very sorrowful and wants a hug and kiss. 

Now some of you may be saying my younger son has me wrapped around his finger, but let's get back to my point!  He is very confident in my love for him, and my forgiveness when he comes running into my arms.

That is what I think Jesus meant about becoming like children, and is the core of St. Therese's spirituality, that she learned as a child jumping on her earthly father's lap, "Fortunately I could go home every evening and then I cheered up. I used to jump on Father's knee and tell him what marks I had had, and when he kissed me all my troubles were forgotten...I needed this sort of encouragement so much."

2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 18:2-3)

So if the devil, the evil spirits want to keep you from jumping into Jesus's arms, and thanking him for his victory over evil, over sin, and for bearing our guilt, do you want to do what they want, or do you want to walk out the door of the prison of guilt that has been open for you all this time?

Walk through, and experience the lightness and joy that are yours, because of the love of your God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

My words are not as helpful as meditating on scripture.  As Jesus so perfectly put it:

"If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free."  (John 8:31-32)

So let's start now, and please join me in committing to read the Bible every day!  This is what Billy Graham would say when looking into the TV camera during his crusades, right after leading people in the sinner's prayer.  "Read your Bible every day!"

Please pray to the Holy Spirit, and slowly read and absorb the love and truth in Psalm 103 below.

Here's quick prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Come Holy Spirit!  Come at the most powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well-beloved spouse.

10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
15As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
16for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
20Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.
21Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will.
22Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul. (Psalm 103)
 
Receive the unfathomable compassion, and mercy, and blessings of our God---Sovereign, Holy, and Loving!  This means forgiving yourself too!  Wouldn't it grieve our Lord whose compassion and sacrifice of the Lamb of God have made you free?  Jump into his arms, just like the beloved child that you are. 

When you-know-who encourages you to indulge in guilt, tell him, as Jesus did:

23“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” (Matthew 16:23)

I think Mary's recent post at the Beautiful Gate also helps us learn the true humility, and peace that comes from trusting that the Holy Spirit is working on us according to God's will and timing. 

Here is Maria's story:
If you can't see the video below, please try this link to view it on YouTube:  http://youtu.be/Z7NS8KNelRI

Monday, August 26, 2013

FREE BOOK

My latest book "More Time For Reflections" is available to download FREE from HERE.

Kindle version available at a small charge from HERE.

God bless.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Quick Bytes #65: Get Out

.
"We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities
when so many people are waiting for the Gospel!"
                          - Pope Francis to 1,000 bishops in Brazil


The same holds true for us.

While our parishes and communities are wonderful, the only
way to expand God's kingdom here on earth is to spread the
Gospel - in both word and deed - outside that comfort zone.

So let's get out and do that - physically or virtually.
.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jesus Mary and Joseph

The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities” by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
"Murillo, The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities, about 1675-1682 Photo © The National Gallery, London”.

Not much is known about Jesus’ childhood. The Bible records the story of His birth in Bethlehem and the early days of His life but not much more.

We are left to wonder what He was like as a baby. Crawling on the ground and then taking His first hesitant steps. I wonder what His first words were when He spoke.

One thing for sure though. He was much loved by His earthly parents, who devoted themselves to His up-bringing, until He was ready to start His work on earth as His Father willed.

Like most parents, they must have wished many good things for Him as He grew up, even though they knew who He really was and what His mission in this world was to be.

Mary, however, carried an additional burden in her heart. She knew from those early days what was to happen. Simeon in the temple had told her: “… sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart”. Luke 2:35. Joseph was there to witness it all.

Can you imagine what they went through as parents? Knowing of the torture and Crucifixion which Christ would suffer.

And Mary, endured that pain even more as she followed her Son on the way to Calvary.

Yet … despite all that. Despite knowing well ahead what was to happen, despite witnessing the Crucifixion for herself, one thing must have sustained Mary and encouraged her throughout her ordeal: the sure knowledge that Jesus was/is the Son of God and that He will rise again from the dead.

That thought alone should help us when we too go through difficult times. No matter how difficult our situation we should hold on to the fact that our Lord, the one we profess to love and follow, is the Son of God. By His death and Resurrection He has conquered evil once and for all.

And no matter what our situation may be, we can assuredly turn to Mary, and seek her help in bearing the difficulties we go through.

More Time for Reflections HERE.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quick Bytes #64: More

.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.
                                                         - Luke 12:48

HINT:  Those of us reading this are the "more".
.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Jesus? Never heard of Him?

I was watching a quiz show on TV. I remember reading somewhere that on quiz shows they always make the questions rather easy so that the viewers at home can feel good when they get a question right; also it is much more entertaining as a show, especially if the contestant gets the answer wrong and you got it right. High-brow type quiz programs are educational of course, but they get much fewer audiences. There's no point in asking a contestant to name the 92 elements in as many seconds. Not many viewers would watch that show or be able to take part at home.

Anyway ... there I was watching this low-brow almost elementary quiz show and the question was: "Who did the three wise men from the East came to Bethlehem to worship?"

The contestant thought for a while and then said; "Moses".

On another occasion, days earlier, on a different show, the questioner gave three possible answers - two were obscure Saints that I'll admit I had not heard of, and the third was Saint Peter. The question was: "Who out of these three Saints is said to hold the keys to Heaven and was a loyal follower of Christ.?"

The contestant chose one of the other Saints.

Now then ... this is a Christian website and its contributors also manage their own Christian websites. This is good.

It is good because we do not know, unless we have sophisticated software, who visits our websites without leaving a comment. People from all over the world could be visiting us either deliberately or by accident (God-incident) when they enter certain words on a search engine. And for many, when they visit us, it could very well be that this is the first time they have ever heard of Christ.

We must not assume that every one out there has heard of God or Christ or all the truths we have come to learn in our walk with Him.

There are many people out there for whom the only contact with Our Lord may be our Blogs.

"Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples." Matthew 28:19

Monday, August 5, 2013

Our Lady of the Snows

Today is the feast day of the dedication of St. Mary Major, a church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Sometimes this day is referred to as Our Lady of the Snows.

The story goes that Mary came to a nobleman in a dream and asked for a church dedicated in her honor in Rome.  The sign she would send as to where the church should be was snow.  So, in hot Italy in August, snow came on August 5th.  Today that is where the church of St. Mary Major is located.

The Missionary Oblates Mary Immaculate headquartered in Belleville, IL have Our Lady of Snows as their patron.  Since the Oblates served in Alaska, they use the image of Mary as a Native woman holding the Christ child.  It makes a lovely statue.  I have Our Lady of Snows in my front garden.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quick Bytes #63: The Lord's Prayer

.
... and forgive us our trespasses, 
as we forgive those who trespass against us...

The way I see it, we have two choices:

1) Stop saying the Lord's prayer, lest we get what we ask for
2) Start actually forgiving those who trespass against us
.

Friday, July 26, 2013

When ...



- When you are sad, call on John 14
- When you don’t feel loved, call on Romans 8:38-39
- When you have sinned, call on 1 John 1:8-9
- When you are facing danger, call on Psalm 91
- When people have failed you, call on Psalm 27
- When God feel far from you, call on Psalm 139
- When your faith needs encouraging, call on Hebrews 11
- When you are scared, call on Psalm 23
- When you are worried, call on Matthew 6:25-34
- When you are hurt, call on Colossians 3:12-17
- When you feel no one is on your side, call on Romans 8:31-39
- When you are seeking rest, call on Matthew 11:25-30
- When you are suffering, call on Romans 8:18-30
- When you feel you’re failing, call on Psalm 121
- When you pray, call on Matthew 6:9-13
- When you need courage, call on Joshua 1
- When you are in need, call on Philippians 4:19
- When you are hated because of your faith, call on John 15
- When you are losing hope, call on 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
- When you are seeking peace, call on John 14:27
- When you want to do good works, call on John 15
- When you want to live a happy life, call on Colossians 3:12-17
- When you don’t understand what God is doing, call on Isaiah 55:8-9
- When you want to get along with others, call on Romans 12:9-21

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Three Most Important Virtues

St. Augustine can be said to be the first Catholic novelist with his "Confessions". Some people have claimed that his story is boring, but I find it real and engaging. In fact, what makes St. Augustine so accessible in all his writings is his simplicity, a mark of the great spiritual directors who always manage to get to the heart of the matter without numerous twists and turns. Where else can you find something this deep in so few words?

"...the three most important Virtues are Humility, Humility, and Humility." 

-Augustine of Hippo, 354-386

This brings to mind the final phrase in the Divine Praises:

Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

July: Devoted to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Praise be to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, by whose precious blood we know and will know the love, generosity and protection of Our Father forever.  In the past the Litany of the Precious Blood was recited after every Mass in July.  It is a beautiful litany that reminds us of the love of Jesus and reinforces in us the awe and reverence we should have at the power of his precious blood.

1 Peter 1:18-19

You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.

Revelation 7

9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. 16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; 17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
 

From Father John Hardon, December 26, 1987:

Devotion to the Precious Blood is not a spiritual option, it is a spiritual obligation, and that not only for priests, but for every follower of Christ. I really believe, and I hesitate even saying this, but I really believe that one of the symptoms of modern society (and I would even include, sadly, modern Catholic society) one of the symptoms of a growing, gnawing secularism is the lessening and the weakening of devotion to the Precious Blood. Devotion, as we know, is a composite of three elements: It is first- veneration, it is secondly- invocation, and it is thirdly- imitation. In other words, devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain, is first of all to be veneration on our part, which is a composite of knowledge, love and adoration. We are to study to come to a deeper understanding of what those two - I am afraid for many people - casual words, Precious Blood, really mean.
 
I found this passage in the oldest document, outside of sacred scripture, from the first century of the Christian era - to be exact, from Pope St. Clement I, dated about 96 A.D. Says Pope Clement:
"Let us fix our gaze on the Blood of Christ and realize how truly precious It is, seeing that it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of conversion to the whole world."
To understand the meaning of the Precious Blood we must (otherwise the mystery will be lost on us), we must get some comprehension of the gravity of sin, of the awfulness of offending God, because it required the Blood of the Son of God to forgive that sin. We are living in an age in which to sin has become fashionable. But we believe that we are here for only a very short time. We further believe that Christ when He told us the way that leads to damnation is broad and many there are who walk that way, that the way that leads to eternal life is narrow and there are few who walk that way. I am watching every syllable I am saying. The Church has never pronounced infallibly on the number lost and the number saved, but she has canonized St. John of the Cross and made him a Doctor of the Church. Says John of the Cross: "I believe that the majority of the human race will be lost."
 
This veneration of the Precious Blood, which is the first element in our devotion to the Precious Blood means that we have a deep sensitivity to the awfulness of sin. Sin must be terrible. It must be awful. It must be the most dreadful thing in the universe. Why? Because it cost the living God in human form the shedding of His Blood.
 
Devotion to the Precious Blood means - beyond veneration which means understanding, grasping and loving, loving Jesus Christ in the shedding of His Blood - it further means that we invoke Christ under the attribute of His Precious Blood. . . . . I thought I would read a few invocations from the Litany of the Precious Blood;
"Blood of Christ, Only-Begotten Son of the eternal Father."
What are we saying? Are we saying that that Blood was the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father? Frankly, yes. Because we know that term, Precious Blood, is not just a symbol, not just a title. It identifies that quality of the Only-Begotten Son of the Eternal Father which Christ wants us to constantly have in mind, namely, that the Only-Begotten Son of the Eternal Father suffered. Suffered for us.
"Blood of Christ falling upon the earth in the Agony."
. . . . (T)he Church infallibly defined: Every drop of Christ's Blood in the Agony in the Garden, every drop He shed on Calvary, every drop was united hypostatically with the Second Person of the Trinity. Every drop of that Blood was adorable.
"Blood of Christ, Price of our salvation."
The more I lecture, the more I teach, the more people I deal with, the more I have come to identify two words: love and pain. If one person claims to love someone else, the one who claims to love, infallibly - if there is genuine love - is not only resigned to enduring pain -- pain is the proof of love, pain is the price of love. That's why God became Man: that He might be able to endure pain, especially the pain of draining His Blood out of love for us. May I recommend to all of you to promote the recitation of the litany of the Precious Blood?
Finally, devotion means imitation. In other words, if Christ showed His love for us by the shedding of His Blood, we are to show our love for Him - I mean everything I am saying - we are to show our love for Him by the shedding of our blood. That is what the Church means when she has us say that when Christ offers Himself daily on the altar in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we are told to identify that as our sacrifice - His and ours. He, the Head of the Mystical Body, can no longer suffer, but thank God, we can! . . . . And I don't hesitate recommending praying for the gift of martyrdom. But even if it is not God's Will that we shed our blood for Christ, to manifest our love for Him physically, let's make sure, absolutely sure, that we let no opportunity go by without shedding our blood spiritually. And that, my friends, no matter what our state of life, no matter what our vocation may be, if we are Christians, we are meant to shed our blood!

 

Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

V/ Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.
V/ Christ, have mercy.
R/ Christ, have mercy.
V/ Lord, have mercy.
R/ Lord, have mercy.
V/ Jesus, hear us.
R/ Jesus, graciously hear us.
V/ God, the Father of Heaven,
R/ have mercy on us.
V/ God, the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R/ have mercy on us.
V/ God, the Holy Spirit,
R/ have mercy on us.
V/ Holy Trinity, One God, 
R/ have mercy on us.

R/ for the following the response is: "Save us."
Blood of Christ, only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father,
Blood of Christ, Incarnate Word of God,
Blood of Christ, of the New and Eternal Testament,
Blood of Christ, falling upon the earth in the Agony,
Blood of Christ, shed profusely in the Scourging,
Blood of Christ, flowing forth in the Crowning with Thorns,
Blood of Christ, poured out on the Cross,
Blood of Christ, price of our salvation,
Blood of Christ, without which there is no forgiveness.
Blood of Christ, Eucharistic drink and refreshment of souls,
Blood of Christ, stream of mercy,
Blood of Christ, victor over demons,
Blood of Christ, courage of Martyrs,
Blood of Christ, strength of Confessors,
Blood of Christ, bringing forth Virgins,
Blood of Christ, help of those in peril,
Blood of Christ, relief of the burdened,
Blood of Christ, solace in sorrow,
Blood of Christ, hope of the penitent,
Blood of Christ, consolation of the dying,
Blood of Christ, peace and tenderness of hearts,
Blood of Christ, pledge of eternal life,
Blood of Christ, freeing souls from purgatory,
Blood of Christ, most worthy of all glory and honor,

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world.
R/ spare us, O Lord
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
R/ have mercy on us.
You have redeemed us, O Lord, in your Blood.
R/ And made us, for our God, a kingdom.

Let us pray. Almighty and eternal God, you have appointed your only-begotten Son the Redeemer of the world, and willed to be appeased by his Blood. Grant we beg of you, that we may worthily adore this price of our salvation, and through its power be safeguarded from the evils of the present life, so that we may rejoice in its fruits forever in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord.
R/ Amen.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

No Trivialities


As no darkness can be seen by anyone surrounded by light, so no trivialities can capture the attention of anyone who has his eyes on Christ.

- Saint Gregory of Nyssa (335-395)
 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Quick Bytes #62: Handling Jesus

.
(This post was inspired by Victor's excellent post here.)

If Jesus was in front of you, would you take him and toss Him carelessly over your shoulder?

Would you grab at Him, nearly crushing Him with your hand?

Would you reach for Him mindlessly while thinking about the traffic you'd face leaving?

Would you hold out your hand with nonchalance, with the other hand in your pocket?

Would you mutter something under your breath out of habit?

Of course not.

You would welcome him with full attention, thanks, reverence and humility.

You would cradle him with hands like a throne ... fit for the King that He is.

And you would shout Amen! so the world really believed that you really believed.

You would treat Him just like you do every time you receive the Eucharist...

...right?
.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Name of the Lord

Jesus taught, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life . . . but seek first his (your heavenly Father's) kingdom and his righteousness . . . . Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you will get. . . . Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."  (Matthew 6:25a, 33, 7:1-2, 24-27)

This past Sunday the Lord impressed upon me the need to get to know him and his name more and to make that name of his known.  The scripture he led me to seemed to indicate to me that talking, writing on this blog, in any way that causes hearers, readers to forget God's name is a way of leading people astray.  The scriptures I was reading were from Jeremiah.  It was God's word towards self-declared prophets, but still I found some food for thought in these.

How many times had I read something in the Bible about God's name, wondered: what is up with God's name?; what is God's name?; and then did nothing to seek for the answers.  So first the convicting readings, and then the answers.  Emphasis added by me.

"I did not send these prophets, yet they ran!  I did not speak to them, yet they prophesized!  How long are there to be those among the prophets who prophesy lies and are in fact prophets of their own delusions.  They are doing their best, by means of the dreams they keep telling each other, to make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name in favor of Baal.  I have a quarrel with prophets who make prophecies out of lying dreams, Yahweh declares, who recount them, and lead my people astray by their lies and their bragging. I certainly never sent them, or commissioned them, and they serve no purpose for this people, Yahweh declares."  (Jeremiah 23:26-27, 21, 32)

"And let him who receives a word from me, deliver my word accurately!  Had they been present in my council, they could have proclaimed my words to my people, and turned them from their evil way and from the wickedness of their deeds!"  (Jeremiah 23:28b, 22)

Humility is something that we can learn from the Lord and only grow in by the grace of God.  After all pride, which in essence is idolatry, was the cause of the original sin, and its residual is still strong part of our human nature now.  I think the way the Holy Spirit preserved Mary as sinless was to teach her early about the primacy of being humble, and clothing her in grace to perfectly grow in this virtue! 

Some of us, me for example, require more of God's grace to grow in the virtue of humility than others.  Many saints have mentioned how humility is primary in order to grow in intimacy with God.  I think humility is also necessary in order to hear and be led by God in whatever way he chooses to communicate with us.  Studying and meditating on the name of the Lord gave me a peacefulness in my soul.  I started a Bible study on the name of the Lord Sunday, and I'll probably be still in that study until the day when I can no longer read or listen to the Bible.

Just reading the passages on the name of God turned into praising God.  Praising God and humbling oneself before God in praise is unfailing way of defeating anxiousness, and any efforts by the unseen evil spirits to distract me from my God-given purpose in this life and the next.  Before I go to those verses, I want to relay what happened last Saturday at the Witness to Life at an abortion clinic in downtown Chicago.

I was blessed to actually get to talk with one of the young women that was brought to the abortion clinic for a surgical abortion.  I've been going twice a month for over 1.5 years and this was the first time I've had such a conversation.  I totally missed her, and was distracted by some other dramas that were occurring around the clinic.  Another counselor noticed her standing alone under a tree and went up to talk with her.  She needed a phone to call for her step mother, because her mother had brought her to the clinic demanding that she have an abortion.  It was an iphone 5 that I particularly like, so I told her, "I am not going to listen to your conversation, but I need to stay close you know, because it is my phone."

I didn't try to listen, but I did hear a few things and in general was hearing the emotion in the call.  The girl was upset and on brink of tears several times.  She mentioned that her mom was calling her names as part of the pressure to have the surgery.  She needed someone to get her out of there.  After she was done she stepped over to return my phone.  Neither of us moved.

I found out that she was homeless, just graduated, played small forward in basketball, and was pregnant.  Her mom was pressuring her to do this, and she didn't want to.  I said many things to try to connect with her, and I was very nervous the entire time.  Some things I said were probably unhelpful "Oh, I played guard because I was considerably shorter than you."  Something I said that I think was helpful was, "You are God's Beloved child, and you do not need to dwell on anyone calling you a slut or saying mean things in order to get you do this.  Your baby within you is God's Beloved child too.  You are beautiful, and I am sure this baby is going to be beautiful too."

She said, "I hope it is going to be a boy."

Me, very encouraged, "Trust God to provide for you and this baby.  God's providence is like a parachute.  Until you pull the string you have no idea how well it works.  I think you know God, and I encourage you to call this number (pointing to the center address and phone number on the sheet).  They have residential care, and funds to provide for you during your pregnancy and for caring for the baby after.  Also, please find a Bible read, and pray.  Trust God." 

I noticed I was nervous up until the time I mentioned the unseen, but most important reality, "You are God's Beloved child."

Now for the scriptures -

"God is both refuge and strength for us,
a help always ready in trouble;
Yahweh Sabaoth is with us,
our citadel, the God of Jacob.
Be still and acknowledge that I am God,
supreme over nations,
supreme over the world." (Psalms 46:1, 7, 10)

* citadel:  fortress, stronghold; Sabaoth:  of Hosts, as in angelic army inclusive of powers, principalities and all the other orders of angels.

"Blessed are you, Yahweh our God
from everlasting to everlasting,
and blessed be your glorious name
surpassing all blessing and praise!

You, Yahweh, are the one, only Yahweh,
you have created the heavens,
the heaven of heavens and all their array,
the earth and all it bears,
the seas and all they hold.
To all of them you give life,
and the array of heaven worships you." (Nehemiah 9:5b-6)

"Alleluia!

Praise, servants of Yahweh,
praise the name of Yahweh.

Blessed be the name of Yahweh,
henceforth and for ever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
praised be the name of Yahweh!

Supreme over all nations is Yahweh,
supreme over the heavens his glory.
Who is like Yahweh our God?
His throne is set on high" (Psalms 113:1-5)

"But from farthest east to farthest west my name is great among the nations, and everywhere incense and a pure gift are offered to my name, since my name is great among the nations, says Yahweh Sabaoth." (Malachi 1:11) 

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (130?-200?) explains that this is the Eucharistic sacrifice foretold (The New Jerusalem Bible, Saints Devotional Edition, p. 1197).  For indeed when the pure, immaculate and holy body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are offered from the farthest east, to the farthest west, incense and a pure gift are offered to God's name.

What is God's name?  The Blue Letter Bible has a great page on the Old Testament names of God.  Yahweh Sabaoth is used over 285 times in the Old Testament and especially in Malachi.  Over 43.6% of the verses in Malachi reference the name of God as Yahweh Sabaoth.  Why?

From the English Standard Version Study Bible, p. 1775:
There is no greater comfort than the fact that the Lord has his invincible heavenly armies standing at the ready.  It is like the comfort that Elisha prayed for his servant at Dothan when they were surrounded by the Syrian armies: 

"'O Lord (Adonai), please open his eyes that he may see.' So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 6:17).  Perhaps it is like the comfort felt by Jesus before the cross:  "Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53). 

Have you ever read 2 Maccabees?  It is an exciting book of the Bible.  In it Judas Maccabeus leads a rebellion against the Hellenists that were oppressing the Israelites, he said, "They may put their trust in their weapons and their exploits . . . but our confidence is in almighty God, who is able with a single nod to overthrow both those marching on us and the whole world with them." (2 Maccabees 8:18)  Judas and his followers humbled themselves before God, prostrating themselves in the Temple, and begging for his mercy and kindness, "they and the populace with them begged the Lord with lamentation and tears to send a good angel to save Israel." (2 Maccabees 11:6)  What happened? 

"They were still near Jerusalem when a rider attired in white appeared at their head, brandishing golden weapons.  With one accord they all blessed the God of mercy, and found themselves filled with such courage . . . " (2 Maccabees 11:8-9a)

I found this beautiful explanation of God's name of Yahweh Sabaoth:

The name of God is "the God of Hosts".
"Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of hosts" is one of the frequent titles or names of God in the Old Testament. It is cited 260 times according to one scholar, 285 times according to another (cf. Theol. Dictionary of the OT [German edition], 6, 876-892). Though used less in the historical books, it is found very frequently in the prophets.
"It is the most sublime and magnificent proper name of God" (ibid., 692). 

Every day at Holy Mass we call upon God by this name, uniting ourselves with the holy angels when we sing: "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth–Lord God of hosts", as it was formerly translated.
I pray this mediation on God's name was a blessing to you as it was to me.
Three more scriptures, for the road:
"Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us."  John 17:11b
"The name of Yahweh is a strong tower;
the upright runs to it and is secure." Proverbs 18:10
"And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael (God's champion whose name means 'who is like God') with his angels attacked the dragon.  The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven.  The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had led all the world astray, was hurled down to the earth and his angles hurled down with him.  Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, 'Salvation and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ, now the accuser, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down.  They have triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word to which they bore witness, because even in the face of death they did not cling to life."  (Revelation 12: 7-11)