Covered in Righteousness

Jesus-Christ-Writing-in-Sand-400

But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  So what do you say?”  They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.  And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him.  Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” John 8:2-11

I have been thinking a lot about how true love requires sacrifice these days.  And in learning about covenant, the covenants that God made always had sacrifice involved.  It got me thinking about the very first time a real sacrifice was made.  It was in Genesis.

You see, Adam and Eve were asked to make a small sacrifice, not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  God wanted them to choose to love, so the small sacrifice was requested when all else in the garden was available to them.  We all know how that turned out.  But a further look into Genesis and we see God make a sacrifice for them.  They had sinned.  The knew they were naked and they clothed themselves in fig leaves.

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” Genesis 3:7

God gave them the chance to repent.  They didn’t.  They began the blaming.  Not much has changed in the world.  God gave them consequences.  But then God did something remarkable.

The LORD God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them. Genesis 3:21

How would this have been done?  God sacrificed an animal, one of His living creatures, to clothe Adam and Eve.  This would have been the first time they saw something killed.  The first covenant sacrifice.  And it lets us know just how high God regards His human creatures.  To sacrifice another of his creatures to clothe and begin to restore us.  He really loves us.  And in this gesture of love, we too learned to sacrifice for the God we love.  It’s why we see animal sacrifice all throughout the bible.  He clothes us to restore our righteousness.

Last night in my RCIA class we were actually teaching the Sacrament of Marriage and how it is a covenant and how our sexuality is a gift from God.  The catechist was someone I have spoken to you about before.  He is a former Protestant Pastor who is now a Deliverance Minister and Life Coach, Jansen Bagwell.  Jansen shared with us all about covenant, about marriage and about human sexuality, which I have written about in previous posts.  But last night he told us what the Lord shared with him about the adulterous woman.

Jansen said that theologians have been pondering for years what Jesus was writing in the dirt in the story of the adulterous woman.  Jansen said, it didn’t matter what Jesus was writing, but why He was.  The passage says she had been caught in adultery and was brought to the temple.  Jansen asked us, “how do you think she was dressed being that she was caught in adultery?”  It dawned on me what Jansen was saying.  She either wasn’t dressed, or she was dressed scantily.

Jansen said the Lord impressed upon Him that He was writing in the ground so He would not look at her.  This protected Jesus from sin, and protected her dignity.  Then Jesus said to the elders, who He did stand up to and look at to address, that the one without sin should throw the first stone.  They were all looking at naked or perhaps half naked woman.  Imagine what that was doing to their thoughts at that moment.  Jesus bends down and begins writing again.  Jansen said in his prayer he pictured at that moment a man, a dad, who was married, who struggled with sexual sin was convicted by the Holy Spirit when Jesus stood up and looked at him.   Jansen pictured this man covering her up.   When Jesus looked up they were all gone.  She had been clothed and her dignity restored, so Jesus could tell her to go and sin no more.

Jesus has looked into my soul this way.  It changes you.  It makes you better.  It sets you on a path of righteousness.  And when we fail, he stays.  He doesn’t leave.  Just like God did not leave Adam and Eve.

God is always trying to cloth us in righteousness when we stand naked in sin.  He sent His Son as the ultimate sacrifice.  He is a good and loving God.  God can take all of our sin and all of our wounds and make us whole again.  We just have to receive what he wants to give us, because it’s always better than what we want for ourselves.

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Somebody’s Handmaid

Annunciation 330px-Bartolomé_Esteban_Perez_Murillo_023

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

I went to adoration the other day to ponder the Seven Sorrows of Mary and how they are actually healing because a new friend had said I should do this.  I meditated on Mary’s Sorrows for awhile and then I got into my car and drove home.  On the way home I listened to this song called Mary, by Patty Griffin and I bawled my eyes out.

I wasn’t sure what my meditation on all of this would bring, but God knew what He wanted to say to me.  It happens to me in the strangest places, the shower, the car, blow drying my hair, but God will start pouring things over me and I am overwhelmed with how much He loves us and how much Mary understood and still understands this.

This is what He told me, “She is Our Lady of Mercy.”  And then He showed me what He meant.  It was like seeing the life of Mary flash before my eyes.   It was all the ways she could have been offended, but wasn’t.  She was unoffendable because she walked perpetually in Mercy.

When Joseph wanted to divorce her quietly, she didn’t rage at him.  She loved him, and waited for God to act.

When Caesar called a census and she was late in pregnancy and had to travel 70 miles on a donkey, she didn’t rail at the government, she obeyed the edict.

When she was denied room in the Inns in Bethlehem, she did not scream at the Innkeepers.  She accepted her plight.

Even in her Sorrows, she walked in mercy.  Simeon told her a sword would pierce her heart.  In today’s society a Priest cannot even tell a parishioner not to drink coffee in the sanctuary without getting scowled at.

Herod ordered the killing of HER SON.  We don’t see her falling apart.  We see her and Joseph obeying the angel and fleeing to Egypt.

Even with Jesus, when He left her at the age of twelve and didn’t tell her where He was going, we don’t see her berating Him for being a bad Son.

When she meets Jesus on the way to Calvary, she wasn’t hateful and bitter to the guards who were brutally beating him.  She was sorrowful.

At the Crucifixion she isn’t screaming about the Apostles abandoning her Son.  She is with Him standing at the Cross and trusting.

When they placed His body in her arms, she just held Him.

At His burial, she accepted God’s plan.  She didn’t resist that which she could not control.

She walked in Mercy.  We can assume that like Jesus, and all the rest of us Mary was tempted.  But in all things she walked in forgiveness.  Immediate forgiveness.  This is because she was Full of Grace.  She was able to see what God sees in us.  She was able to love despite suffering.

Think of all the people she had to forgive along the way.  Joseph, Caesar, Herod, Simeon, Jesus, Peter and the Apostles who left Him, Pilate, Judas, the leaders of her own religion.  The list goes on.

Mary did not embrace or sit in bitterness, resentment, envy, malice, or any of the things she may have been tempted with because of her circumstances.

There is SO MUCH we can learn from Mary.  It is this total obedience to God, total humility and total walking in mercy that elevated her to the greatest woman known in history.  Her mind, body and soul were totally and completely delivered from evil by her Immaculate Conception and her decision to “forgive trespasses.”  As we all look for inner healing, we should look no further than MERCY.  Because it is in mercy that we walk in the will of God.  Her mind, soul and body were aligned with the will of God, so it makes perfect sense that she was Assumed into heaven because she lived the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven and that makes you incorruptible, and for her inseparable from the way God created us to actually be.   She was somebody’s handmaid.  She was the handmaid of the Lord, conceived without sin and able to do what Eve did not, which shows us how much she loves us too, and it is why she is Our Mother.

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Be True, Not Right – Judgment is for God

just judge1
 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 
 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Mark 7:1-5

This post may make some people mad.  That is okay.  This post is directed towards those who know the Catholic faith is true and right.  To those that know the teachings of the church are the proper way to live, this post is a word of caution to you.

God tells me that ultimately the church (on both sides) doesn’t quite have it right.  The left has chosen to embrace sin…. But He really truly talks to me about not judging people all the time too and honestly, it is the people on the right who I see tons and tons of judgment from.  Just in the past two days I have read reports from solid solid Catholics who are speaking about schism.  Let me tell you something, CHRIST ALLOWED THE AUTHORITY TO WALK HIM ALL THE WAY TO THE CROSS, even though the authority was wrong and He was right.  Schism is rebellion, and that is precisely what Satan wants.  Rebellion.

I now do spiritual direction and I am on a Deliverance Team.  The people that come to see us would typically fall in the category of “left”.  Though to God they fall in the category of “child,” just as each of us is a child of God.  They are steeped in sin, and aren’t really convinced that what they have been doing is wrong.  But the Holy Spirit has obviously gotten a hold of them because they know they’re life can be better which is how they walk in the door in the first place.  I see repeatedly that these people are VERY VERY BROKEN.  It’s as if I can see demons who have talked to them their whole life… so their whole perception of themselves, of others, and of the world… it’s based on a lie.  They are objectively living in sin… But if I step back and really look, it’s as if they are sitting in a chair and demons are pounding on them.  Demons that started pounding on them as babies.  Usually that lie is that they are not loved or worth anything.  They do not rest securely in God’s love.  So they make up a God that they can live with so they can continue to cope.  They deny sin because sin was inflicted UPON them by people who they loved and they cannot reconcile that in their heads…. And it manifests in rage too because from that perspective it’s as if you have to justify your existence.  You rage because everything your whole life has screamed at you that you’re worthless…so you scream back…thinking inside “I have a right to breathe”…but not really believing that you do deep down.  The deepest core of that rage is the belief that your very breath isn’t worth anything.  This rage, which really boils down to self-hatred has boiled over in the streets.  People screaming… look I AM WORTH SOMETHING… and it’s a demonic misperception… And it is precisely here that God’s mercy can break through.

I cried after meeting with some of these people  because how do you preach the absolutely beautiful Doctrines of truth without inflicting more damage?  Truth stabs them in the heart if it is presented too harshly because they were never taught, or sometimes they were taught but taught by total hypocrisy, where the rules were taught but not lived….   So for me, and for our deliverance team, we take a walk, a spiritual walk with them, mostly just asking them questions.  It becomes really beautiful when they realize of their own accord (with the help of the Holy Spirit) that they have to change…. And it’s how true conversion takes place.  This is actually what deliverance is.  We teach them how to forgive, and then we teach them how to renounce the demons who have spoken to them, so their perception of reality becomes a Godly one.  And the change is astonishing.  And the whole time, it is them who says the prayers, not us.  We teach them to take the authority of their own life back from the devil.

It is all  like watching the church crisis on the front lines.

All the while God is telling me the road is narrow.  People fall off to the left and right.   I struggle with social media now because I just objectively want to speak truth, but the walking wounded are so so terribly wounded that they perceive wrongly because demons have trained them how to think their whole lives.  I so totally understand why Christ said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Because it isn’t as if they didn’t know they were nailing Him to a cross.  They knew that…But they believed it to be a good because of what demons had done to them.  Christ could see that.  That’s why he could separate the people, who are made in God’s image, from the demons who have totally rejected God. And it IS why He was so harsh on the Pharisees, because THEY DID KNOW better.  I feel like the people who believe the orthodox teachings of the church really have to be careful about this…. Objectively their opinions are “right” but how are they viewing the other person?  If they want their demise and not their salvation, then they are not being TRUE to what Christ taught.  Do not mistake forgiveness and obedience with condoning sin.  To be truly lifted out of sin, we HAVE TO FORGIVE, but that doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have consequences.  And obedience, the reason it is so important is because it is precisely the thing that Satan would not do.  Jesus was obedient, even unto death, and it brought Resurrection.

Ultimately what God shows me is that He wants is restoration of union with HIS WILL, like it was in the garden before the fall.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and HE DID THAT, but WE HAVEN’T embraced it.  That’s why the church herself will go through a Passion, because a Passion will bring us to Resurrection.  A birthing.  Where each person can be fully realized in what it is God actually wants for us.  If only we would listen, we would have the full power of God behind us.  I believe this will happen, but not before we are ALL stripped naked, and humiliated.  I just hope we can stand up at the foot of the cross.  I pray for the grace of perseverance everyday now.  God wants a different looking church than what we have right now and it will quite literally be a hell of a ride before we get there.   Pray without ceasing.  Stop judging, start listening and start walking with people in love.  If they don’t listen, you don’t acquiesce to evil, you stand in it’s way, just like Christ did.  He didn’t leave, He didn’t attack, He didn’t stop preaching truth.  He stood in the way.  And it led to the cross and brought Resurrection.

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Heart of God – Journey to Spiritual Maturity

Human Heart

And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear. Mark 4:8-9

I recently read The Sign of Jonah by Lucy Patier.  It is a prophetic book about what will happen to the church in the future.  It mirrors what God tells me in prayer except it has more detail.  What God revealed to her is written so beautifully to me. I will pause here and say that save for my Spiritual Director I don’t tell too many people what God shows me in prayer unless God compels me to.  The reason I don’t is three fold.  First, sometimes what is shown to me is just specifically for me.  But beyond that, when it comes to the prophetic gift, I find it hard to articulate what God tells me.  It is sometimes “apocalyptic” and though for me, I do not get any anxiety when God shows me something because He shows it to me as a Divine Love Story, I have in the past tried to explain it to some people and it seems it can induce anxiety in them.  The spirit of fear is everywhere.  The other reason I do not write it for all to read is because I am a mere human trying to interpret what an overwhelming and enormous God is showing me.  I am often wrong about the way I interpret something, but what is shown to me is true.  A friend once told me, you don’t have to be right, just be true.  I have taken that to heart.  I limit what I post out here to that which calls you back to God.  To steering yourself towards unity with God.  Anyway, back to Lucy’s book, it is a depiction of the future and a road map of what our homes should look like in those times using the analogy of a heart.

After reading it, I started to meditate on what she wrote and pray about it.  I spoke with my friend Ashley.  And it seemed to me, that this roadmap of the future times was not actually something that we had to wait to do.  It is a roadmap of spiritual maturity.  What do I mean by that?  It is actually how to cultivate hearts in rich soil, so that the message of the Gospel becomes our way of life.  You see, no matter what happens in the future, really what this roadmap does is beckon us to unity with God and following it will actually banish the spirit of fear, so that no matter what happens, you can say with confidence, “Jesus I trust in you.”

I will focus on Lucy’s analogy of the chambers of the heart and expound on it.  This should be the model for families, for parishes and for communities.  Learning this and living this way can change the world we live in.

The heart is the lifeblood of any body.  This includes the Mystical Body of Christ.  For the Mystical Body to work in unison as a life giving body, it must be fed from the Heart of God and therefore become a reflection of the Heart of God.  With this in mind I would like to outline how the journey through the heart of God will transform lives.

A heart has four chambers, each doing its part.  The Right Atrium of the heart receives oxygen-poor blood.  We will call this chamber the Chamber of the Holy Spirit. The right ventricle is how the blood is sent out to the lungs in order to be reoxygenated.  We will call this chamber the Chamber of God the Father. The left atrium is the where the reoxygenated blood is received back into the heart as the holding chamber that then gives it forward. We will call this chamber the Chamber of God the Son.  The left ventricle is how the blood is sent back out to the rest of the body to give it life. We will call this the chamber of the Mary the Mother of God.

CHAMBER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (Prayer)

Just as the heart receives the oxygen poor blood, this chamber will be the place where healing and restoration begin.  This is the place that is the field hospital for sinners and should be emphasized as the welcoming place. The main purpose of this chamber is to facilitate the encounter with God.  The person is received as they are and they are ministered to with healing, deliverance, and restoration in mind.  In this place a person received should not be given condemnation and judgement for where they are, otherwise they feel the same rejection that probably led them to a life of sin in the first place.

The Holy Spirit is emphasized in this chamber.  We want people to help people recognize and embrace their Baptismal Promises and the gifts they have received from the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Confirmation.  

We should offer meditation on God’s love and mercy for us, through an emphasis on deliverance ministry and Eucharistic Adoration. This chamber is the place of Mercy and Forgiveness, so Confession should be greatly encouraged.  This is a place where you are received and you encounter God.  The key for us is to not stay stuck here, where we only receive or seek good feeling.  We need to take the encounter, the personal encounter and move forward.  

The goal of this chamber is to Experience God. To experience the real presence of the Holy Spirit.  Prayer and discipleship should be the focus of this chamber because prayer unites us with God. It is important that they understand that God is there and has always been there.  That God is the perpetual giver and it is we who are to learn how to receive what he is offering us in every moment of every day.

In this chamber people should be taught how to pray with the goal of  understanding God’s undying love so we will desire conversion of heart, which will be a movement to the next chamber.  

CHAMBER OF GOD THE FATHER (Scripture)

The next chamber of the heart is the right ventricle.  The right atrium (1st chamber) pumps the oxygen poor blood into the right ventricle (2nd chamber)  which pumps blood to the lungs.  This gives the breath of Life where oxygen is received. This is where people come to KNOW GOD. They understand that they are a loving child of a Good Father.  Sons and Daughters of a King. This is where spiritual growth really begins to blossom and can grow because rich soil was cultivated in the Chamber of the Holy Spirit through prayer. This is where real catechesis begins. Instructing ourselves and others on how to be ambassadors of the King. Education is Key. Reading Scripture, making your home a hearth and a refuge of God.  Truth of the goodness of the church’s teachings are revealed. The grace of our faith emphasized. Reading the bible in Lectio Divina style as the WORD is primary here. Cultivating spiritual friendships and living the example of the Domestic church where family life in God is emphasized.  

This chamber is focused catechesis and the rich theology that the Catholic Church provides for all of its members.   Emphasis is placed on studying and learning the faith both through the Word of God in Scripture and through the Traditions of the Church.

We want to enhance the experience of God from the first chamber with the Knowledge and Wisdom of God.  To help people understand that God is a good Father who wants to prosper them and not harm them, and that the church is a gift where faith and reason coincide in harmony.

The reception of God’s love, here in the first two chambers lead us even deeper to the next chambers.  

CHAMBER OF GOD THE SON (Sacraments)

The next chamber of the heart is the left atrium.  This chamber receives oxygen RICH blood from the lungs.  This is the Chamber of God the Son. This is where the Light and Truth of Christ is emphasized. This is the Chamber of THE SACRAMENTS and the SACRAMENTAL LIFE.  Because people will have passed through the first two chambers this will no longer be a “going through the motions” area. It will be where life is FULLY LIVED. Having been received and coming to know GOD through prayer and HIS WORD, this is where we see real spiritual maturity.

It is here that the laity embraces our roles as Priest, Prophet and King. This role enhances community and is built around the community.

We also will build up our Priests and their Priestly mission. Rather than having our Priests be over taxed, we the laity can begin support, pray for and fill up our Priests with joy so the relationship becomes reciprocal. They feed us Christ’s BODY, BLOOD, SOUL and DIVINITY.  We are turning into living Sanctuaries that having passed through the other chambers, know how to receive and become the Light of Christ and do not fear proclaiming the truth of Christ.

Priests can have their cup filled so that they can share it with their faithful – praying and making reparation for sinners – Devotions can take place – Liturgy fills our cup with the grace of the Sacraments what is Holy and Sacred comes alive in this chamber.

This chamber is where we become living Sanctuaries of God through emphasis on the Sacraments and through proper liturgical norms as prescribed by the church which is rich with meaning and beauty.  

CHAMBER OF MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD (Service)

The final Chamber of the Heart is the Left Ventricle.  This chamber pumps oxygen rich blood to the rest of the Body.  It is for this reason this is the Chamber of Service. When someone has cultivated their spiritual life through prayer, the word and the Sacraments, they are then able to become a GIVER.  They are able to say yes to what God has asked of them. Our Lady embodies this. Her union with God came first, so her yes, her FIAT became complete service of God. They become a light of Truth to the World because their service is the service God has actually called them to and is borne out of love of God, thus fulfilling His mission and bringing HIS LIGHT, LOVE and TRUTH to the world.

Many times we see this area emphasized first, encouraging service but without the foundation of the other chambers.  It is important to emphasize the other chambers so that when service takes place it is not from a secularized stand point, but a Godly one. When we serve based on knowing God’s will for us, we “set the world on fire” as Saint Catherine of Siena stated.

It is here that the virtues of humility, obedience, and purity should be emphasized. Compassion as a grace received and gifted to others. Consecration to Our Lady should also fall under this chamber.  This is where we reach out in the way that God has actually called us.

The goal is to bring the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy to the Community at large but in a way that truly brings the will of God to people.

In many Eucharistic Miracles it is the heart muscle that has been found by scientists, because it is the heart that brings life to the Body.  The Human DNA of Jesus came totally from Mary, so it makes sense for her to be in the Heart of God.

If we stay stuck in only receiving and trying to gain the “spiritual experience” we don’t mature in our faith.  We have to get to the place where it no longer becomes about us receiving, but it moves to us GIVING, like Mary did, in total obedience to the Lord.

We are in tumultuous times.  The church is at risk of schism.  The church is riddled with sin.  Align your heart with the heart of God.  This is how we prepare for these times.

When your heart is aligned with God’s heart you can trust and be so secure that you will need nothing else, especially no worry of tomorrow.

He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.  And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.  Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere. ”  Luke 9:1-6

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Free Will and the Passion of Christ

Passion of Christ Matthias Stom

Passion of Christ by Matthias Stom

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25

By: Ashley Blackburn

I was recently reading a book of writings by Blessed Henry Suso who was a Dominican priest. He lived a life of wonderful labors and sufferings and died in the fourteenth century with a reputation for sanctity which the Church has solemnly confirmed. Gregory XVI granted to the order of St Dominic the offering of the Mass yearly in his honor on March 2nd.

Blessed Henry Suso talked about the importance of meditating on the passion of Jesus Christ. He said that graces abound when we reflect and meditate on the passion. This stood out to me in my reading and so I put the book down and took this to prayer. While reflecting and praying on these words, so much more came to light.

First of all, in taking a huge step back and trying to see things from a broader vantage point, I noticed that God IS the passion. The passion was revealed to us through Jesus Christ who is the Word made flesh. Jesus was conceived and born from the womb of a woman, grew up in a family with a mom and a dad, was in ministry as a healer and teacher, and had the authority to cast out demons and forgive sins. All of his life was a leading up to and a preparation in order to reveal God to all of mankind through the passion. Since God always was, is and ever will be, this revelation of the very nature of God is reflected in all of his creation. Thus when we meditate on the passion we are able to better understand who God is and in turn who we are, or better yet, who God created us to be.

By the passion I mean the process or journey that Jesus took from the garden to the resurrection. This process is reflected in all things by their very nature. Created by God, all things will naturally reflect their maker, including humans, plants, animals, nature, the universe, etc. It’s the cycle of all things and the life of all things. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a literal definition of God because he can’t be put into a box. More so it is an endless living witness of the revelation of God’s very nature. So by meditating on the process of the passion that is reflected in all of God’s creation, we are given the grace to draw closer in our own unique way to the mystery of God. This is why we can have an experience or revelation of God through our experiences in nature. At the core of it all, God is reflected in nature and so we can also come to understand him through our meditating upon HIM through nature. But nature in itself is not God, just as we as humans are not God. Instead, nature is God’s creation, just as we humans are, and thus we reflect our maker.

But there is one major difference between humans and the rest of God’s creation. Humans have been given free will, which is what sets us apart and gives us dominion over the rest of creation. For instance when you look at a tree or a lizard, these things are both given life by God and can survive in this world through this life that was given to them by God. The tree and the lizard do not have free will, but live based upon natural instinct, which is always a reflection of God. They cannot choose to NOT reflect God or be something other than what God created them to be. They are always perfectly ordered toward God, naturally through their instinct. So the nature of God can always be revealed through God’s creation because his creation, other than humans, cannot choose to do otherwise.

This uniqueness of humans, that we have been given free will, not only sets us apart from the rest of creation, but it also means that we have a bigger responsibility than the rest of creation.  Free will is an incredible gift of faith by God. He knows that our will, due to the fall, is drawn to things other than Him, namely the pleasures of this world. But God also knows our potential. Our potential is greater than all creation because of the choice we are given to either turn away from God or to turn toward him and align our will with his. All other created things do not have the choice to be something other than what they were created to be. The tree cannot choose to be a lizard and the lizard cannot do anything other than to be, look, and act like a lizard.

So what is it that God asks of us. Are we certain He wants us to be something other than what He created us to be? If we are questioning this then we are attempting to be God. We are trying to operate outside of our authority. We as humans have been given authority over all of God’s creation, but the one thing we were not given authority over is God. This was what Adam and Eve were tricked into thinking by the serpent in the garden. God told them where their authority was, but the serpent convinced Eve that they could be like God. Eve believed the serpent and ate the fruit and the consequences of this act remain with us today… the first reflection of the passion.

So when we as humans, who have been gifted with free will, meditate on the passion, we are aligning our will with God. We are understanding and becoming more fully who we were made to be… tapping into it so to speak. But since we as humans can choose whether or not we want to be who God created us to be, we have the potential for either a fuller union with God or complete separation from God. We can choose to deny the will of God and follow our own will, or we can surrender our will to him and live to our full potential of who we were created to be. This is what Jesus means when he says that those who lose their lives will save it. Ultimately God is asking each one of us to hand over our will to Him. This gift of our free will that was given to us at our conception, He is actually waiting for us to choose to offer it back to Him. Not so He can lord it over us or make us slaves, but so we can freely live in perfect union with Him.  So we can actually be who He created us to be. 

Although we as humans are also capable of reflecting God, it is not automatic or instinctual, as it is for plants and animals.  This is because of original sin and it also is based upon our choices and our actions. In every decision we make we are choosing to either act in alignment with the Will of God or we are choosing to act upon our own will. So how do we know what is the Will of God? Well I believe Blessed Henry Suso would say that we come to know the Will of God by meditating on the passion. This is the revelation of God that he has spoken to us through his Divine Word, Jesus Christ. It is the center of all things and thus is reflected in all things. It is the spring of everlasting life, in which we will never go thirsty when we drink of it.

The passion endlessly reveals to us who God is and so when we know God more fully we will in turn love Him and thus be able to serve Him. Our life here on earth is our learning to choose God. For when we are standing face to face with Him at the end of this life we want to be firm in our faith so as to be able to choose God one final time. Our final judgement is a revelation of our entire lives. Laid out for us in the presence of God and in the light of the Savior. All will be revealed and all will be known. A life spent in preparation for this moment is what we are called to. A life spent choosing, by our own free will, to know God and to lovingly surrender our will back to Him is how we prepare for our eternity.  We will see the battle that took place for our free will.  

Many of us will know in this moment how much we clung to our own will and did not fully surrender to God because perhaps we didn’t fully know how, but we did sincerely seek Him.  This is why God in his infinite mercy gives us purgatory, an opportunity where, knowing our weakness, He purifies us and through this process our will surrenders to His. We cannot keep our will and live in eternity with God for in giving up of ourselves, we can live fully in the Divine Will.  Hell is for those in that final moment who choose to turn away from God completely, essentially handing their will to Satan and rejecting God.  This is done because they don’t trust God, which is a result of not knowing Him or caring to know Him.  They know their sins and sit in them without remorse, thus handing the dominion of their will to the evil one.  But for those who know God, when we get a glimpse of the truth of who God is, we will fall in love and spend the rest of our life living for that love.  This brings the Kingdom of God to us, and these people are Saints and heaven is their reward.

Meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ.  It will help you surrender your will to Him and catapult you on your journey to Sainthood.

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Transcript of Talk on Prayer and Sacramental Life

Pentecost_mosaic

Transcript of a Talk I gave to parents of Confirmation students on November 11, 2018

I want to say welcome to all the Confirmation parents and thank you for being here to guide your children on their journey towards receiving this wonderful Sacrament.  Today I wanted to speak to you about how your embracing of prayer and the Sacramental life for yourselves and for your children can be the conduit we need to change the world we live in.  The church Fathers referred to this walk of love as the journey from the purgative way, to the illuminative way, to the final stage of the unitive way.  That is our goal as Catholics, to walk towards union with the will of God.  I could speak about the great Saints and their journey, Saints like Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross that have given us so much insight into prayer and the sacramental life.   But then I thought to myself, that instead I would share my own journey and how these things apply in the modern world that we live in.

Some of you already know my story, but some of it is worth repeating as it relates to prayer and the sacraments.

I have grown up Catholic my whole life.  I have always attended Mass and volunteered or was part of the church in some way growing up.  I knew the prayers of the Mass.  My family prayed the Rosary together.   Anyone looking at me from the outside would say I was a good Catholic Girl.  They would say I was a praying girl.  But when I look back on my life now, I would say I was a check box Catholic.  My prayer life, though at times could be deeper than others, mostly consisted of praying on Sunday at Mass, reciting memorized prayers, or pleading with God to remove some suffering from me, of which there were many over the years.  I had a relationship with God, I believed in Him, but I don’t know if I ever trusted Him.

That all changed for me on August 29 of 2010.  That day is the day my life and my prayers changed forever.  Let me explain.

On August 28, 2010, my friend Veronica called me and asked if my son could spend the night at her house.  Though I had allowed him to dozens of times before, that night for some reason, I was uneasy.  I told her no, but that he could come over and play for the afternoon and that I would pick him up before dinner.  Around 4 o’clock I drove out to her house to pick him up.  I stood in Veronica’s kitchen area and we chatted about our boys.  She told me how each of them had a gift and what special children they were.  She had taken them to the grocery store to buy their favorite ice cream to eat.  My son also wanted cereal which she generously bought for him and gave me to take home for him.  I thanked her and I drove away.

The next morning she was murdered. Right there where I stood talking to her.  Her soon to be ex-husband had hired a hit man to murder her because they were separated and really who knows why else.  I felt like I got punched in the stomach.  I couldn’t breathe.  I couldn’t stop crying.

In my agony, I laid on my bedroom floor crying, wailing really.  Here was a beautiful young mother, 39 years old murdered, leaving her 8 year old son motherless.  And for what?  I cried out to God in anguish and anger.  How could you let this happen?   Why Lord?  I was crying out to the Lord.

In the midst of my anguish, a thought came over me. God said, “I don’t want this, people choose this.”  I asked God, “what, what in the world can I do, in this awful place?”  He answered me.  He said, “Susan, good in the world starts with you.”  I began to think.  I thought about how I had seen Veronica and her husband in church together and I wondered, how can a person who would murder sit in church?  God answered me again.  He told me that her husband did not start out a murderer, but that his sin had grown in his heart and gone unchecked, and had lead down a long dark path.  I remembered the bible verse that stated, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”( Matthew 5:28)  That was the moment that verse made sense to me.  I never had understood it.  I had always thought, “how can a thought be a sin?”  But after her murder it made sense to me.  Sin starts in your heart and takes over until you act on it with your hands.  And if we never take the time to examine our conscience, or think about what is right and what is wrong, well then, we can really go down a wrong path.

So Lord, “what can I do?”  He told me that the only person I could control was myself.  That I can choose to love and spread that love outward.  For me this meant examining my own conscience and trying to become a better person.  Did I love my enemy?  or even my neighbor, for that matter?  The answer was a resounding, NO.  Oh my, I thought, I have not always spread love and left people better off for knowing me.  I was ashamed.  I thought about Confession.  I had always disliked this Sacrament and dreaded going.  But here, in this place, crying on the ground, I found it to be a gift.  A gift I was grateful for.  My whole outlook on this Sacrament was changed by my conversation with God.  I went and had the biggest confession of my life and felt a huge weight lifted off of me.

This experience of this profound conversation with God and encountering Him in Sacrament began to change the way I lived and prayed.   I thought about Veronica.  And her name.  Suddenly the Stations of the Cross came alive for me.  In the 6th Station while Jesus is in His Passion, walking His way to Golgotha, bloodied and beaten, He comes across a woman named Veronica.  Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.  A small kindness.  This man, this God man, was bloodied, beaten, tired, in agony, and this women, Veronica, provided a brief respite, if you will.  A few seconds where the sweat and blood were wiped away, and for a moment, however brief, He felt love from this woman.  It did not stop His Passion, His suffering, but in a world that was mocking Him, scourging Him, that woman’s touch with the cloth must have felt glorious.   So He imprinted His image on her cloth.  Veronica, means “True Image”.  He left her the mark of His love.  I decided then and there that like Veronica, I needed to wipe the Face of Jesus in every person I saw or came across.  I may not be able to stop suffering, but I can provide love and respite to others.

Thus began my journey into deeper prayer.  Scriptures and prayer were coming alive for me in a way they never had before.  No longer was I only petitioning God for things, but I was talking to a friend.  My best friend.  My love.  One who wanted to be intimately involved in my life.  My prayer began to change from, “What can you do for me Lord, to what can I do for you?”  I built a peaceful place in my room where I began to pray daily, both mental prayer and devotions like the Rosary.  I also sought out a Spiritual Director to help form my prayer life.

It was only after looking back that I could see the Lord progressing me through these stages the Church Fathers spoke of.  I still have a ways to go, but I know the path as set forth by the church Fathers and I seek it willingly. I learned that it was when I stopped the pretense of pretending to only present my best self to God, or only petition him when I needed something that I  got “real” with God, giving Him all of me, all the broken pieces, that he picked me up and put me back together.   It reminded me of  when I heard Fr. John Riccardo speak of the passage in John 4:48.  The Royal official came to Jesus and asked Jesus to heal his son.  Jesus responded, “unless you see signs and wonders, you will never believe.”  A strange response from Jesus that I had not previously understood.  But here again, the Gospel came alive for me.  It’s as if Jesus was sad that the only time people came to Him was for Him to perform a healing miracle, when what He wants most of all is to be intimately involved with us.  He wants our friendship.   Too often in the past I had sought the healing, and not the Healer.  But here I was learning to seek Him first.

Over and over that first couple of years after Veronica’s murder, in addition to the Rosary and other devotions, I would pray for the Lord to show me the humanity in people, to show me what He sees in us.  I remember clearly one day gave me the opportunity to have my prayer answered.

My husband and I had gone out for a birthday dinner for me.  I was so excited. I thought I was in for a treat as this was a nicer restaurant than what we normally would go to.  But when I got there I was disappointed at first.  You see, our waitress wasn’t doing a very good job of making me feel special on my birthday. She did not bring us menus.  She did not even look at us.  She asked us what we wanted to drink, and being that I didn’t have a menu, I asked for a House red wine.  Every time she came to the table, she sighed and audible sigh, as if we were putting her out by sitting at the table.  We did finally get one menu, to share between the two of us.  We placed our order, which elicited another sigh.  When our order came, it was wrong.  Jason advised her that what she had brought was not a filet, and I pointed out some missing items.  A very frustrated waitress left and went to go get the correct order.

In the past, all of this would have made me angry.  I would perhaps have thought about not leaving a tip, and reporting her to her manager, seeing to it that she would be reprimanded.  After all, we were paying a lot for this meal.  We deserved better treatment! It was MY DAY, and I AM THE QUEEN!  But God whispered back to me my own prayer, “see the humanity Susan, see how you can love her like I do.” In that moment my anger stopped, and I said a prayer to God to show me what to do.

She came back to the table and she brought the correct order, mumbling a sorry under her breath.  I asked her if everything was okay.  She said she was fine.  I stopped, touched her arm, and said, “no really, is everything okay?”  She began to cry.  I told her that whatever it was that was bothering her that God loved her and tomorrow would be a better day. Then she began her story.  Her husband had just left her.  She had a 5 year old, two jobs, and now she thinks she is pregnant, she was exhausted.  Through her tears she asked me to cut into my steak so I could see if it was okay.  She was trying to do her job still in the midst of her agony.   I told her not to worry about my steak.  I realized her sighs were not about us being at her table, they were sighs about her own life and situation.  I again told her God loved her.  I gave her some information and phone numbers for our local pregnancy resource center.  I told her to have hope.  I wrote her a note and told her to read Psalm 23 when she got home, because I believe the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” is a real place we sometimes walk through and we need to remember that God is with us.  That there will be a time when our cup will overflow again.  At the end of it all, she hugged me and told me she loved me.  I saw her go to the new table that came in, with a smile, and two menus.

I often think about that interaction and how my reaction could have changed the trajectory of things for better or for worse.  What if I had complained?  What if she had been fired?  If I do good deeds like giving money to the poor but show no mercy to the person right in front of me, I am not embracing Christ.  For Christ tells us, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  It is precisely in recognizing our own need that we find Jesus.  When we humble ourselves and take a deeper look into out own hearts, our sins are revealed to us, along with a burning desire to purify ourselves out of love for Jesus, our friend and our Savior.  We have nothing to fear by presenting ourselves to Jesus as a humble servant, with all of our wounds, for His judgement is perfect.  Jesus does not condemn the repentant sinner, and neither should we.  Jesus says he did not come for the righteous, but for those who are sick.  It is when we refuse to look inward and see that we too are sick, that we miss out on the greatest gift of all, God’s MERCY.  By humbly remaining on the path of our own purification, which is a lifelong journey, receiving the mercy of God, we are then able to give that authentic mercy which we have received to the world.

And so it was here in my prayer life that I could see clearly that Prayer had CHANGED ME.   God was converting me.  We sometimes look for the Big Giant miracle and miss the everyday miracle that can occur in our interactions of love with people.  This is the path of prayer.  It is a path of perfection where we root out sin and become people of love.

God is a good God of intimacy and when we open our hearts to him we start to clearly see this.  I remember another time when I first started seeing my Spiritual Director and he told me to go get a journal and start journaling.  I had trouble that week getting to the store and I thought I would go to the Saint Philip bookstore to pick up a journal on Sunday.  When I got there I was totally bummed they didn’t have any journals.  I said a prayer, “Lord, I just wanted to get a journal so I could hear you speak to me more clearly.” I walked down the hall, ran into my friend Allison, she said, “oh, I have something for you”, and she pulled a journal out of her bag and gave it to me.  She said “I made this for you about 3 months ago and kept forgetting to bring it to you, but this morning for some reason something stopped me and reminded me to go back and get it.”  I just started crying.  Imagine a God that loves us so much that he cares about something as simple as a journal.  That’s what prayer does.

I also want to another line from the Gospels. A friend and I had recently pondered this Gospel passage together and I feel that I am supposed to share it with you all because it most definitely has to do with prayer and the culture we are living in today.  There is a battle going on in the world today, we see this so clearly with all the fighting.  What most of us don’t truly understand is that this battle is spiritual.  We are actually fighting powers and principalities who came to steal, kill and destroy.  We are warriors fighting this spiritual battle and prayer and the sacraments are essential in this battle front.   For Christ has already won the Victory, we just have to embrace it.

The Gospel passage the Lord wanted me to speak to you about is  Mark 10:18 where Jesus states; Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.

It is not by our own merit that we are “good” or are we even able to do truly good deeds. It is only with God acting through us – since He is the source of all goodness.  We can consider what we think to be good, based upon our own limited understanding, but how are we to actually know what is truly good?

More often than not, in today’s culture, we form our own individual opinion of what we believe to be good and then we act based upon that opinion.  We scream “look at me, see me” as we post selfies on social media and tell people of our good deeds.  But how are we forming this opinion and what is our intent for doing good deeds? Almost every one of us wants to be a good person and the best way to prove our goodness, to both others and ourselves, is to do good deeds. The secular culture tells us we can be good without  God.  But in this passage from the Gospel of Mark, we hear Jesus tell his apostles that God alone is the source of all goodness.  While we scream “Look at me,” God speaks and says, “No, look at me.  You’re your eyes on me.  And you will become who you were meant to be.  Therefore, we do not actually create or earn goodness, nor are we even good of our own accord. Instead we are to give credit to God alone because He alone is the source of all goodness. Thus, we should be continually drawing from this limitless source and not try to create or determine goodness on our own.

So how do we draw from the source of all goodness? Through mental prayer and through our participation in the Sacramental Life of the Church.  The combination of living both of these to the fullest are how we bring God’s authentic goodness to the world. And it is up to us… God’s goodness enters the world through each one of us who are each members of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Through mental prayer, we tap into the source of goodness who is God himself and we allow ourselves to be nourished with the Living Water.  Without prayer, our hearts can easily become dried up and even turn into hearts of stone.  It is prayer that brings this personal relationship with Jesus that cultivates in us the Truth of God’s goodness. It creates a place within us where the fount of Living Water, which is a wellspring of never ending nourishment for the soul, may dwell and flourish.  Through prayer we allow ourselves access to this fount and are able to draw from this source.

A prayer-filled spirit is one who is continually quenched in the Living Water of God’s Truth and goodness. It is one who truly listens to the Holy Spirit, is open to the response that God is calling them to and is obedient to the Will of God. The Virgin Mary is a great example of this for us. Her FIAT is evidence that she was a prayer-filled person and had a deeply rooted relationship with God the Father.

Mary most fully understood and believed that the source of all goodness is from God. This is what allowed her to trust fully in the Lord and praise and honor Him above all things. Her openness to receiving God’s grace transformed all doubt and fear into loving service of the Father. Although she was not granted immunity to suffering in this world, she was given the tremendous grace to endure all the world’s suffering with peace and perseverance. These are the gifts she received through prayer. These are the graces she tapped into through the prayerful relationship she had with the Father.

A life without prayer can quickly become dry and arid because we cease to draw from the source of all goodness. This can be likened to pouring water into a dry well. The water is quickly absorbed by the dry land or runs out because there is no source of water coming from within the well. God’s grace is the wellspring that we are all called to draw from through prayer. It is ready and available to all of mankind. But many of us are simply too busy, too prideful, too self sufficient, too hurt, or too distracted in order to drink from the well. So we continue on our way in life doing the best we can and relying on ourselves and others in order to live a good life.

In all actuality, in order to truly be a “good” person, we can do nothing without God. Jesus most assuredly tells us that only God Alone is good. When we try to do good on our own accord, we end up only mimicking what is authentically good. This is because we are only doing what we consider good, which has the tendency to be flawed, distorted and sometimes even evil DO you think we see this in our society today? Another passage comes to mind here;

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

It is only through God’s grace, poured out upon us, accepted and received into our hearts, and then freely given away, are we actually doing true good in the world. When we participate in a prayerful relationship with God, uniting our soul to our creator and allowing Him to transform our hearts, we are in essence tapping into this source of goodness and we are enabled to go out into the world and be God’s presence to the world. This good is not our own, but it belongs to God and with Him as our source, we can work wonders. It is only through great humility that we are able to recognize this and to participate in God’s goodness in this way.

Alongside cultivating a prayer life, is the importance of our regular participation in the Sacraments, which are a great prayer in and of themselves. The Sacraments are strength for the storm. They empower us with the Pentecostal  courage to go out and share the good news. Jesus spent three years building a relationship with the apostles, teaching them and revealing to them his mission for the Church. But even then it took the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to give them the courage to go out and be and do and share the goodness they had received.

Pentecost is where we see Confirmation in action, the Holy Spirit, our Advocate coming down upon the Apostles, giving them supernatural power and making them fearless, in a world where they had previously been afraid.  The gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord, were poured upon them, and will be poured upon those here who will be confirmed when the Bishop lays hands on them, and anoints their heads with oil.  If you truly embrace this and receive all God wants to give, you can become fierce and fearless in the world.

All of the Sacraments are an extension of Pentecost for us today, but most especially those that we are able to daily participate in; the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Jesus gave us this tremendous gift to be able to be strengthened and fed in the Eucharist and then also healed and forgiven in Confession each and every day. In his dying and rising, Jesus made himself available to us in a real way each and every day. What a tremendous treasure we have access to through the Church.  Why are we not living like they did on the day of Pentecost?

Both prayer and the Sacraments are each important in their own ways. But one without the other is only a partial living of God’s goodness. This is why we see so much degradation in today’s society.  People have either abandoned the practice of prayer, or they have abandoned the Sacraments all together, or both. The result we see around us, disunity and rage.

When we replace what God gave us with our own version of what we want or what we think is good we get a religion-less spirituality, a pagan spirituality or abandonment of the spirituality all together.  Pride and selfishness permeate the air because it is a mere mimicry of the real thing, a twisted truth. And a twisted truth is actually a lie. What do you get in these circumstances, people who speak of unity, but who are actually destroying it.

The devil wants nothing more than to separate you from God.  Separation from God separates you from people. We cry unity in the name of tolerance as we label people and put them in boxes where we can hate them.  We get a church that lets go of doctrine and embraces evil.  In short, we get what has happened in Ireland (and America). The battle cry uniting women as equal includes the killing of her child.  Marriage gets twisted to mean only sexual desire in the name of unity. And if you disagree, well, you aren’t for unity, equality and tolerance, therefore we can hate you.  And we reject God’s love and mercy creating our own abyss.

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.” Romans 1:21-25

When we immerse ourselves in prayer, asking for unity to God’s will and we participate in the Sacramental life, we can become living Sanctuaries.  Storms can rage around us.  The devil can try to take our authority, but the door is shut because we have become a tabernacle to help light the world.  We must, run away from authors and speakers who speak of love and unity but criticize church Doctrine and the authority of the church.  Go back to the example of Our Blessed Mother and the Saints.

Immerse yourself in prayer, mental prayer, which is a conversation with the King of Kings.  Believe in your heart and truly receive the Sacraments, and receive with a humble contrite heart, not a prideful or scrupulous heart. Examine your conscience daily. Love the person right in front of you.  Be a light in the darkness. Go back to God alone as the source of goodness and do what he asked us to do, and draw your source of goodness from the Truth.

This path of union with God, this unitive way involves embracing the cross.   It involves offering up our suffering for others.  It involves trusting, even in the darkness.  When we do this we change things.  It is in the pain of the cross and our union with Jesus on the cross that great grace is poured out upon us.

One day while deep in prayer God showed me what prayer does.  He showed me how He sees time.  Because God is outside of time he sees everything at once.  For God everything is Now.  What He showed me wasn’t a linear timeline.  He showed me time as a ball of light like the Sun.  He was outside of it, and in it.  Then he showed me what happens when we, The Body of Christ pray together in Unison.  I saw a solar flare burst off that image of the sun.  The solar flare changed the timeline.  In a flash, I could see an event that had been like a solar flare where prayer had changed things.  God took me to a point in time back in 1986 when I was in the 8th grade.  Ferdinand Marcos and his wife with many shoes and the dictatorship of the Philippine Islands.  It was shaping up to become a bloody battle with a few people already dead, including the staunch critic of Marcos, Benigno Aquino, Jr.,  who had been assassinated.  But it didn’t become a bloody battle.  Cardinal Sin of Manila had asked the people to pray.  The people went out in front of the military praying the Rosary aloud.  They stood in front of tanks praying.  And then, a miraculous thing happened, the military laid down their arms.  Even the secular media reported how the Guns fell to Rosaries.  And the revolution was over, and the grace of God was seen.  This is what prayer in union with God’s will can do.  It can change violence to love.

Many people often ask me how I know God is speaking to me.  I will try briefly explain in a simplified way, but first you must understand that the Spiritual World is real.  There are two Kingdoms, God’s and Satan’s.  Satan’s greatest feat is getting us to think he doesn’t exist.  But he does exist, he is actively working to steal, kill and destroy, and we can see it in our society today, God does not will the violence we are seeing, there is an active entity trying to bring destruction, and Jesus Christ came to defeat these works of the devil, we just have to embrace what He taught.  For each of us individually it is important to remember the only person we can control is actually ourselves.  In 2 Corinthians 10 Saint Paul tells us to “take captive every thought.”  Why does he tell us this?  If you think of it like this, there are three voices that talk to you.  One is your own.  One is God’s, one is Satan’s.  When you pray, you will have thoughts pop into your head.  It is important to ask the question, “where is this thought coming from, and whose Kingdom does it serve?”  God’s voice breathes life, and love and does not contradict scripture or the magisterium.  Satan’s voice brings death and destruction, but will often try to mimic God at first with a false image of unity or love, that’s why it is important to study your faith and study scripture.  If you constantly have a voice telling you that you’re not loved, that is not from God.  God loves.  If you internalize that voice it becomes your own and you behave and live that false lie as your truth, bringing that voice to others and the culture.  It looks like what we’re seeing everywhere today.  God’s voice breathes life and love, and lifts you up out of sin, and if you internalize that voice, you bring that love to the culture.  It looks like Mother Teresa and Maximilian Kolbe.  These thoughts can come in the form of words, images, songs, and stories.  Pay attention to them, it is not random.  Take captive your thoughts to make sure you are serving the right Kingdom.

I will leave you today with one other image God shows me in prayer.  God tells me he wants me in union with His will.  He asks me to pray, “not my will be done, but yours,” and to embrace the suffering, even unto death, because it is here in Christ Crucified that we achieve Resurrection.  He says he wants my heart beating in unison with His.  When he says this I see a very clear image.  It is the Sacred Heart beating in unison with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Guardian Heart of Saint Joseph, the Holy Family, all their hearts beating together.  But there is one more heart.  It is mine.  It is yours.  He calls it the Beloved Heart.  And it is a heart that was broken, but has been repaired and is whole again, beating in unison.  Sacred.  Immaculate.  Guardian. Beloved.  This is what God wants for you.

I would like to close with a prayer I wrote recently after seeing this image which I call the prayer of the Beloved to the Holy Family;

 

Prayer of the Beloved to the Holy Family

O Immaculate Heart of Mary!

How could I ever thank you enough for all you have done for me, a wretched sinner?

Your obedient Yes ushered in My Savior.

You have rescued me with your prayers and supplications.

Your interceding heart, most pure, beating in unison with your Sons, draws me ever closer to him.

 

O Guardian Heart of Saint Joseph!

Faithful in your devotion to the Most Holy Family,

You took Mary Immaculate into your home.

You carried the Child Jesus in your arms.

You submitted to the Will of the Father.

Your interceding heart beating in unison with the Savior, draws me ever closer to Him.

 

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, my Savior, my Lord!

You call me Beloved.

You take away my sins.

You destroy the works of the devil.

You have shown me the Father.

You have given me a family.

May my will conform with yours.

May my heart beat in unison with yours.

 

A communion of hearts filled with the Spirit, made in the Image and Likeness of God.

May the Holy Family watch over me and my family and may we ever remain in your love.

Sacred.  Immaculate. Guardian. Beloved.

 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Victim Souls

St-Gemma-large-closeup-photo

“I am happy in every way that Jesus wills, and if Jesus wants the sacrifice of my life, I give it to Him at once. If He wants anything else, I am ready. One thing alone is enough for me; to be his victim, in order to atone for my innumerable sins, and if possible, for those of the whole world.”  Saint Gemma Galgani

 

I went to a wonderful conference on healing this past weekend.  It was very grace filled.  The lay minister who ran the event was filled with the Spirit and proclaimed the Gospel with boldness.  He stated, God is good and he wills for us to be healed.  I believe all of this.  He spoke of Redemptive Suffering and said when we suffer we should unite it to the cross, but that God does not will suffering.  This is all true.  But as the conference came to a close I asked him about Victim Souls.  He said that the theology of the Victim Soul is not Doctrinal, but private revelation and he does not believe it.  He believes God wants all of us healthy.  It is true that it is not Doctrinal.  It is true that we are free to believe or not believe.  It is true that God wants all of us healthy.  But it is also true that we are not all healthy, and that sin still abounds in the world.  I couldn’t get past the fact that virtually every Mystic Saint was a victim soul, or that God spoke to them about it.

When I got home, my friend Rob Marco had posted something about Suffering And The Divine Will.  In it he tells a story that says;

A client of St. Thomas Becket went to the saint’s tomb to pray for a cure for his sickness, and he was indeed cured. But upon returning home he thought to himself, “Suppose it would be better for my soul’s salvation if I remained sick, what point then is there in being well?” So he returned to the saint’s tomb and asked for St. Thomas’ intercession again but with a different request: that God would grant him what would be best for his eternal salvation. His illness returned, and it was reported that the client was perfectly content, convinced that God had disposed of him for his own good.

This got me pondering all that had happened over the weekend, and all that I had read from Robs post.  As with most things I took it to prayer and then recorded what I felt God speak to me in my journal.  Here is what I wrote;

*** Beloved,

I will for health of all people.  I want for that.  And I will give it to those who ask.  But I want to speak to you about victim souls.  These are souls who are called and set apart by great grace.  They actually don’t look to sickness or suffering as a matter of a lack of faith on their part or as a matter of them doing something wrong.  Their goal is a total detachment from sin.  They are engaging in the highest level of battle with the devil.  They have taken on my enemy with full force.  They know suffering is for their soul’s purification on earth.  It purges them of sin.  They are intensely fighting the devil who is the one who brings suffering, the one who tries to destroy the body.  The goal of these souls is not health, but detachment from the world and attachment to me so their acceptance of suffering actually defeats the devil.  Their want of me outweighed any want of earthly comfort.  They emulate the sacrifice on the cross.  Few are chosen for this grace poured down.  Their sacrifice “makes up for what is lacking in the afflictions of Me, for the sake of My Body.”  Though I lack nothing, my Mystical Body does because of sin.  I came to destroy the works of the devil, which is sin.  Yet sin still abounds, but grace abounds more.  And the few chosen souls rise up in this grace.  This can be likened to when the hand of  the body places a toxin in it’s mouth, the kidney will root out that toxin.  The kidney, which receives life from the heart and the head, are helping to purifying what the mouth and hand have done.  This sacrifice of this one part of the body is turned to grace which is used to grant a loud voice to the Communion of Saints so the mouth and hand, which believed the toxin to be a good, can hear instead the voice of love, sacrifice and mercy at their time of judgement.  It is the ultimate intercession.  It is the way that I, the head and the heart, bring unity to the whole body.  And the voice of blasphemy, which is the devil, is defeated, by the working of the body with the head and the heart.  When My Will is done on earth as it is in heaven, all will be healthy.  Many are called.  Few are chosen.  Do not be afraid.

  • The Sacred Heart of Jesus

 

We can all unite suffering to the Cross and we don’t need to go looking for suffering, but there are a few who walk so closely in union with God, that they take on His Cross.  This is how I view the Mystics.  They know God Alone is good, and all healing comes from Him.  As an act of their will they surrender to God whatever He asks for out of love of Christ and His Mystical body, knowing His plan is better.  I believe wholeheartedly God wants us well, He never intended for suffering, but it was free will that brought it to the world. I also believe we should ask to be well and seek healing from the King of Kings. But, I also think we should seek God first, above all, even before we seek healing. We let God decide how best to purify our souls. For most, healing lights them so on fire for Christ that it purifies them more than anything else would, we see this in the healing stories in the Gospel. For others, I believe they are victim souls.   For all, I believe the conversation with God should guide each soul and each soul should act in obedience. Taking on suffering when he hasn’t called you to is actually an act of pride putting yourself above God.  Let God guide you.  God is often a paradox, and His ways are not our ways.

*** I write in my journal as if God is speaking to me, what I believe the Lord is saying to me.  My spiritual director said I can do this as long as it doesn’t stray from Scripture or the Magisterium.  It is obviously filtered through my human intellect.  I cannot know the mind of God, but I do know He is calling us to total and complete trust.

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments