Wednesday, September 25, 2013

God Surprises Me

My latest article for Catholic 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.


“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.