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.

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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.

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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.

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Hearts in Unison

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This divine heart is an abyss filled with all blessings, and into the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need. – Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque
By: Ashley Blackburn
The relationship between the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a physical bond and a spiritual bond.  Mary’s actual heart gave life to Jesus’ actual heart while in her womb.  The two became one.  Her spiritual heart loved her Son Jesus and in that Mary was loving God.  While Jesus’ spiritual heart loved Mary, God was loving Mary. This spiritual love going back and forth between Mary and Jesus is what we are to mirror in our own spiritual relationship with Jesus.  The physical relationship with Jesus that we are all offered is in the Eucharist.  We consume the body and blood of Jesus and we and he become one in that union… physically.

So Mary and Jesus model for us the perfect union of the Christian and the Savior.  We who are in union with Jesus through love (by both loving Jesus through our prayer and knowing Him in the Word AND by receiving the love that Jesus gives back to us through Grace) and who are receiving Jesus physically in the Eucharist are mirroring the union of Mary and Jesus, Christian and Savior.  When this happens our heart and the heart of God are united both physically and spiritually, just as the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are united both physically and spiritually.

The Body of Christ collectively always mirrors what the individual unions of Christian and Savior have adopted.  But our society has shifted its focus away from being in full union, both physically through the Eucharist and spiritually through prayer and relationship, toward a union focused solely on one another.  Just as a physical body cannot live without the heart, the Body of Christ cannot operate without the heart of Jesus being at the center.  All other parts of the body are given life through the pumping of blood through the heart and back out to the body.  For instance, the hand and foot cannot focus on their union with one another without the heart because it is the heart that connects them and keeps them in union with one another, as well as with the larger body.

When we see the focus of this spiritual and physical union with the heart of Jesus being shifted elsewhere we will see the effects of it in our society, it causes breakdown.  When the hand and the foot begin to try to remain in union with body but shift their focus to one another, they leave out the heart, which is their source of life they will quickly die from lack of blood flow.  The hand and the foot cannot survive together without the heart and the blood which it pumps to and from their parts.  Only with the recognition that the heart is their source of life and that their communion with the heart if vital to their life can the hand and foot not only survive and remain a part of the body, but it can also allow them to work together to do great things.  Otherwise their efforts are dead because it does not come from the source of life which is the heart, which is Jesus.

Anything that shifts the focus away from Jesus as the central point and toward the community first, whether it be Liturgy or acts of service, is actually cutting off it’s own lifeblood.   And though many would consider it “good”, it will eventually sour because God alone is the source of all goodness.  It is here where we see that what society says is good is actually evil and what is actually good is called evil by society.  This is because the heart is missing.  We see this so clearly in the world today.  It has become more about the union between each of us as parts of the body, which is important, but it is not the first union that we should be engaged in, and our understanding of things is flawed and will only mimic what the Creator does.  But we are not to despair.  God works all things for the good of those who love Him.  Whatever Liturgy we attend, or whatever acts of service we do, if we all have our own personal union with Jesus through prayer and the sacramental life, He reveals truth and we become conduits of change.  If we take focus off of Jesus though, even if we think we work for the good of the world we are in grave danger of vanity and pride.  We become self focused instead of other focused.  We become accusers and blamers instead of pouring life into others.  We become body parts ripped apart in a bloody battle instead of being a Mystical Body fed by the heart of Jesus.  Engagement with one another is a fruit of charity, it is not something to be forced or controlled on our own, but to allow to flow from our relationship (spiritual and physical) with Jesus (the heart).

The first and most important union is our heart being in union with Jesus’ heart (physically and spiritually) because this is the source of life.  The secondary union is our union with the body, which is only able to survive and thrive through our union with the heart.

The breakdown of this order is evident in the number of divorces, broken families, etc that we are seeing.  When we rely solely on our relationships between other men and women (even if it is our spouse), Satan can enter into that bond and eventually break it.  Just as the hand will die if it is cut off from the heart due to its constant focus on the foot as its source of life.  But Satan CANNOT enter into the bond of a person who is united with Jesus both spiritually and physically, just as Mary was.  This is a bond cannot be broken because it is properly ordered and freely given and received.

When things become disordered, when we focus on the work to be done instead of God, or we focus on another person before we focus on God, the devil can gain a foothold in our lives and in our homes and we will be blindsided, not seeing what has happened because we thought we were doing good.  This is why we must always maintain our focus on God.  God alone is good. This is why it is critically important to maintain a prayer life, even when we don’t feel like it. Maintaining our relationship with God should always be primary. This is where our authority comes from, and this is how we spread love both in our work and in our homes.  Prayer should be a central part of our daily lives. And it is why we should pray without ceasing, it keeps us focused on God alone, and all else stays in order.  This act of uniting ourselves in prayer, and receiving the Eucharistic Lord physically, this is where the power to change the world comes from. Our own heart, when united with Christ’s heart, like Mary did, will make us living sanctuaries bringing light in a world of darkness.

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That They May Be One

Aunt Agnes

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:21

The verse above is the universally known verse of Christian unity.  It has been the call to the ecumenical movement and to uniting denominations.

But as I sit here typing at 3:30 a.m. because the Lord awakened me, I know there is another meaning behind this verse, it isn’t just about Christian unity.

It is about YOU.  PERSONALLY.  Jesus says, “just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you.”

Jesus Christ wants me, Susan, and each of YOU individually, to be one with the Father through Jesus as an action of the Holy Spirit.  This is what it means to be a living sanctuary.  This, and only this, is what will lead to a true Christian unity and peace in the world. And this, this way of living begins in prayer, not in works.  And through prayer we unite to God by receiving the Sacraments.  These two things bring true unity.  Your unity with God.  No amount of ecumenical gathering will achieve the kind of unity and peace that God seeks for us until each one of us personally becomes one with the Father through Jesus Christ, resting in the Father’s bosom, resting in His love.  The result of this kind of unity, the union of an individual with the will of God, is works, works born of love and not of some false facade of what we limited human beings think of as peace.

You see Jesus didn’t speak one word about humankind. A true believer didn’t come from giant speeches, for many heard Him speak, but didn’t stay transformed.  What we see over and over again in the Gospels is that he had a one on one personal encounter with individuals who became transformed.  He KNEW them, and they KNEW HIM.  They probably felt, for the first time ever that they personally were loved unconditionally.  This is why they changed and left their life of sin behind.  It wasn’t because of a giant speech and platitudes about world peace.  It was because of an encounter.  And encounter with LOVE HIMSELF.  One, who through Him, showed us a Good Father. And it is why it was better if Judas had never been born, because he was given the encounter and he betrayed and in his betrayal he rejected the encounter.  He didn’t rest in God’s love for Him.  That’s the difference between Peter and Judas.  Peter, even in his denial, he knew God’s love for him.  It’s why he could repent.  Judas blasphemed by rejecting the mercy of God.

Jesus was each persons best friend.  The one who in return really “got this” was John.

The Gospel tells us of Jesus, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (John 1:18)  And later, at the Last Supper, the Gospel tells us, “There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23)

This is why John could stand at the foot of the cross.  When Jesus gave us his Mother (John 19:26-27), he also was showing us how to be sons and daughters through the example of John.

Have you had this encounter?  It’s all throughout the Gospels.  The Samaritan women at the well, Zaccheaus, the adulterous woman, each of the Apostles, Martha, Lazarus and Mary.  The list goes on.   We the Mystical Body of Christ, as individual members can bring this encounter to others, with Jesus acting through us, one to one.  This is how to make disciples of all nations, one on one encounter.  Bring Christ to the people.

This is why when Christ comes to you in an encounter it is so important to be OBEDIENT.  This obedience brings the oneness with the Father that was broken by the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  Being obedient is hard, it makes you different from others who may persecute you for it.  But it is in this obedience that grace abounds.  This obedience will help spread the Gospel and achieve true Christian unity.  A person who lives here can love like God does.  God loves unconditionally.  When you rest here you are able to fight the devil by hating him, but not a person.  It enables forgiveness.  You can see the world through spiritual eyes.

When I was in Medjugorje I encountered the 73 year old patriarch of the family that owned our hotel.  He had lived through communism and the war between Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.  You would think war would have made him bitter, but this man was different.  He had something I hadn’t seen much of before.  He had true peace, true love, and true freedom.  He relayed to us a story about the parish Priest, Father Jozo Zovko, who was imprisoned by the communists for speaking against the state.  This man had witnessed and been part of the trial, which was a farce.  He said he told what was true, but the communists had a predetermined outcome because of their ideology.  Then he said something I will never forget.  He said, “they can put you in prison, but you can still be free.”  This man KNEW GOD.  Because freedom is interior, and it comes when you rest in the bosom of the Father.

Don’t fall for false unity that comes at the expense of Truth.  Be obedient and remember unity starts with your union to the will of the Father.  Rest in the Divine Will.  Peace will be the result, even if there’s a storm around you.

 

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The Center of the World – The Mass

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“Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power” for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.” Rev 4:11

Before I post everything I want to say here, I want to clarify a few things.  I was born post Vatican II.  I do not know what it was like back then so everything I am about to state is filtered from a perspective of not having lived through what others have lived through.  Second, my purpose in posting this is NOT to judge people, either those in authority, or the rest of us, God explicitly tells me not to judge because that is for Him to do.  The purpose of this post is also not to degenerate into “Liturgy Wars.”  There are good and holy things happening at Mass, whether it’s a Novus Ordo or the Extraordinary Form.  We are meant to be united, not divided, judging what we do as “better” is like the Gospel from Sunday, Lording ourselves over another.  Jesus specifically asks us not to do this.  Conversion is in the heart and is an act of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit can, and WILL act anywhere.  I also have agonized about whether to print this or not.  I sometimes tend to be impulsive and in hindsight regret my swift action.  I know I will be held to account for every word I speak, so I have learned to be much more careful with what I say and do.  If my interpretation of what God is telling me is wrong, I apologize to God and to all of you.  But in reading today’s Gospel I felt I was called to print this.  In my limited understanding I can only write what I feel God tell me and relay it as best as possible.  This post is meant as a call to prayer, not as a call to shoot poison arrows at one another.  I will not comment on Vatican II, the implementation or the documents, I am not knowledgeable enough.   I also understand that I am out on a limb here so if I get told to take this down I will.  Any comments that shoot poison arrows or claim that “my way is better” I will delete.  With all of this said, I want to relay what happened to me on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at my first High Latin Mass in 26 years.

I went to my first Latin Mass since 1992 on Saturday, October 13, 2018.  I remembered the Latin Mass being beautiful, but this experience was very surreal.  In 1992 the Basilica in DC had permission to do them in their Crypt church, but I was too young and dumb to spiritually grasp what was going on.  I was ignorant back then, and even today, of the history surrounding the Mass changes and the fight of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.  For me, we just have different forms of Liturgy that have all been deemed acceptable by the church.  I still feel this way, but I have a new perspective.

Anyway, now we have Latin Mass in my Diocese and in a twist of what I would classify as a fluke, but God probably would not, I found myself at one on that Saturday.  The Mass was a High Latin Mass and was probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life, seriously.  Which then made me mad because none of us in the pews knew what we were doing and I was angry at the church authority for ever having taken this form away in the first place, so I mentioned that to God.

I observed a couple of things at the Mass.  Every movement that the Priest made, every movement of his BODY was a movement toward God (not toward the people).   You could clearly see that the Priest was the Guardian, and the Keeper of the Kingdom of Heaven.  It was happening there on the altar.  His mind, his body and his soul, aligned with God’s will as he gestured what was actually something that was handed to Adam in the Garden.  He had Dominion to bring Heaven to us.  Bring Divinity to us.

For me it was like witnessing the Theological Virtues in Action.  Faith, Hope and Charity in alignment with the will of God, those virtues a grace gifted by God.  Everything a movement towards those virtues.  I actually found it to be quite charismatic, though it is probably opposite of what most others think of as charismatic.

So in my anger about the loss of this form of Mass for so long, I said a prayer to God about it.  This Mass had several things our Mass now doesn’t, including the bodily movement of the Priest, the Latin which is a unifying language and the devil hates unity.  By going to the colloquial language we separated people.  We constantly have separate Masses for separate languages.  That’s why the devil hates Latin so much.  It unifies the whole church.  It also had all movement directed towards heaven, instead of towards the people.  The choir was in the back so you couldn’t see them, but only hear their voices which were projected towards the altar.  The Procession was silent, which was very awe inspiring, you could see the reverence.  There were just so many things.   In my spiritual progression I could just see things in a way I had never seen them prior.  God was at the center of this.

After communion I came back and was praying, and I got VERY OVERCOME AND OVERHWELMED.  I felt as though God showed me the timeline of Salvation History, which has happened to me before.  And that when the catechism speaks of the Passion of the Church (CCC 675, 677), that this Passion of the church actually began right after Christ’s Resurrection.  The walk of the timeline of the history of the church is the walk of Christ’s Life, Death and Resurrection.  The Mystical Body will do the same as Christ.  For example, I was shown the early church persecutions and death were parallel to the slaughter of the innocents.  Pentecost was the Nativity.  The Ascension was the Annunciation.  The public ministry of Christ parallel to Constantine legalizing Christianity.  There was so much I was shown, I cannot remember it all.   The rise of Christendom is like when Jesus was out healing publicly and people were in love with him.  We have entered the time period of the corruption of the leadership, in much the same way as the Pharisees were corrupt.  And we have Judases inside the church who are shiny and smiley and “tolerant” on the outside but empty and devoid on the inside. Jesus has become about being nice.  All the while, demons have trained us how to think. Watching all of this was like a movie playing in my head.  And time, it is just different for God, so different than what we know.

Then God turned me towards His mother.  Just as Mary appeared sporadically throughout the Gospels, so too she appears to the Mystical Body throughout the timeline of history.  At his Passion, she was there the whole time, just like she is continually appearing at Medjugorje right now.  I understand that Medjugorje is not an approved apparition and I have spoken about that and about how I will accept whatever the church rules.  I am just speaking about what I feel I was shown, that she is here now, as she was back then.  Her purpose to show us what faith looks like when faith seems impossible.  Hope in the hopeless.  Love for the unlovable.  A human with no divinity doing God’s will.

The stripping down of the Mass, the disunification, this is part of the scourging.  I believe we will enter a time period where the Mass won’t be recognizable and perhaps the Eucharist is gone, in the name of ecumenism.…. We should be ecumenical but not at the expense of truth. I feel like what I was shown was that the church will take on all the worlds sins inside of her.  The way Christ took on our sins inside of Him on the Cross.  It looks like being forsaken.  Almost every Catholic will walk away from the faith.

On Sunday, the day after attending Latin Mass, I went to my regular Novus Ordo Mass.  I felt sad.  We, have humanized the Liturgy so much it becomes about us and how we feel, instead of about the Divine.  Not that it isn’t valid, or even beautiful, God impressed upon me that it is valid and said, “these are my broken people, pray for them”.  What I see is all of us so broken and wounded and hungry that the Mass is about that and about validation of that that it seems like we are not resting in the love of God and being secure in it.  People don’t really believe they’re loved and forgiven, so they’re looking to feel better.

I think the best way to explain it is, the Mass we have now seems to be about emotion and feeling.  The Latin Mass went much deeper and was actually about the Spiritual World being brought to the human world and us receiving it, instead of the reverse.  The key for each of us, no matter the Mass we attend, is to interiorly know who it is we are receiving, and as an act of our will, to ask for union with the will of our Creator.  I am not judging the souls of the people at a Novus Ordo, just making an observation.  I know these souls and they are beautiful, and God loves them and the effort to bring glory to Him.  And we are all following the path the authority set out for us.

And God basically said, this is just the path you’re on and I am walking with you to Calvary.  The last stop— Physical pain.  Just like anything that starts in the spiritual world and takes root in our emotions it moves to our physical body. And that old Mass which aligned all 3, spiritual, emotional and physical with God…this new one doesn’t, though for an individual it can since it’s an interior disposition too.  I will pause here and say too, that even a Protestant can have the interior disposition, but it is much much harder without the physical Eucharist, but because Protestants have relationship with Christ, they can actually be sanctuaries of God (Luke 9:50).  We are all supposed to be living sanctuaries.  What I felt is that God, not people, is supposed to be the center of everything.  If we put God at the center, we actually treat people better, we love like God does because He is the source. But God also told me he has this, and it is part of His plan.  What I felt God showed me, just left me with a feeling of resignation to His plan, knowing it is better for us, but seeing that it will be extremely painful.  He kept telling me to watch for the removal of the Eucharist.

I am not a Liturgist so speaking about this makes me feel ignorant.  I also am not a sedevacantist, the Pope is our authority, needs our prayer, and none of us can know his interior.    What I see is all part of God’s much larger plan to actually have us embrace what Jesus came to teach us… so we can, like Him and through Him put the devil under our feet.  He is the means to that end.  He wants us to have our dominion back, but he is allowing our total breakdown in order to do it because it will be the way we completely surrender.

This is not for me an Old Rite vs. New One.  For me, it just is.  I am told not to judge the souls of the people on this path.  But to pray for them.

When I had this experience it was also clear about obedience to authority. This is something I struggled with.  It’s like Marcel Lefebvre (who I really know very little about, but am trying to relay what God showed me) was correct about not changing the Liturgy, but totally wrong to disobey.  I have a hard time grasping that.  That for something so HUGE, I would have felt the need to fight like he did, but it seems to me God was letting me know he was wrong to do so.  He kept showing me Padre Pio as the example and saying Marcel Lefebvre was right and wrong all at the same time.  It’s about waiting for God, which most of us don’t do.  We take it into our own hands and we try to manipulate God when God has a larger plan at play.

It’s easy to obey a good and holy leader, but when the leader is in open rebellion against God (at least from your perspective)… it’s just very hard to comprehend.  This is not a judgment on Vatican II, again, I cannot know the interior disposition or what was going on at the time.  It’s also why I believe Gods view of blessings and curses are very different from our own.  This is something reading the book of Job taught me.

So to be clear, this is not a condemnation of the current Mass.  God gave the church the authority.  What it binds on earth is bound in heaven.  The question becomes, what are we binding? And for me, this just is the path… the same walk Christ made… and our prayer and sacrifice unite us ever closer to Christ.

It was here when he was talking to me I kept seeing a Fulton Sheen quote, “who is going to save our Church?  Not our Bishops, not our Priests and religious.  It is up to you the people.  You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church.  Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your Bishops act like Bishops, and your religious act like religious.” So there is something the laity is supposed to be doing, as God wills it,  which includes ardently praying, but I couldn’t quite grasp what else.  Our role is different on this walk than that of the clergy.  I am not clear yet on exactly our role besides praying, but there is another role.

With each stripping down of the Mass we have scourged the Mystical Body.  Doctrine will be nailed to the Cross…

You see, God Himself DOES NOT ACTUALLY NEED THE LITURGY.  HE IS PERFECT.  We need the Liturgy to unite us to Divinity.  His humanity and divinity brought to us.  When we stripped the Divinity out of the Mass by “making it easier for us” we humanized everything so much (except at the consecration which brings us both the full humanity and full divinity of God) and became more and more distant from the Creator.  We take on the sins of the world, and eventually we will breathe our last, looking totally dead.  Only a few remaining standing at the foot of the cross.

It was interesting to note that as I was experiencing this, I also learned that April 3, 2019 is 50 years since the institution of the new Mass.  April 3, 33 AD is the date given in the documentary, Star of Bethlehem, as the day of the Cross, the first Good Friday.

God told me that if we really want to know the “signs of the times”, we needn’t look any further than the Mass.  The church is the center of the world.  The way she goes is then echoed out to the world.  Look for changes to the Mass and Scripture if you want to know what happens next.  Scripture is already being changed.   Just after I had this experience I read that China removed all bibles for sale because they are writing one that will conform with the state.

The one thing I feel about Mary, is that back then she stood with her son and will now be standing with us, the Mystical Body to grace us with those theological virtues, which are a gift of grace.   That is why she is the key.  This is the triumph of her Immaculate Heart, she stands with us to see us through to Resurrection.  I have ideas of what this could look like, but I am usually wrong when I try to interpret things on my own.

Know too I feel dumb saying all of this because I am not do not possess the knowledge of history or of liturgy in these areas.  This is all just what I feel I have been told. And I try to interpret as best as I can.

And it’s very overwhelming to look at from my small perspective.

About a week later after writing all of this down about the Latin Mass, I was walking and God kept repeating, “whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” and “what you bind on earth is bound in heaven.”

Let me see if I can explain how that was shown to me.

Some of the things people are doing are objectively mortal sin.

BUT because demons have trained people how to think, many do not know it.  And the church has not taught it for the better part of 50 years.

So when a person is “welcomed” into the church, sitting in that sin, and the authority does nothing to correct it, and tells them they’re forgiven without need of change, they actually are granted the mercy of purgatory based on the authority the church has and their lack of knowledge and understanding.

But there are those in authority do know better (though I suspect there are some who are poorly formed who for one reason or another may not know better).  What they “bind on earth, is bound in heaven.”  They are actually binding curses on the church itself because they’re violating covenant with God.  Which is why we are on a Passion walk.  Many faithful who know and recognize truth will break away from the authority as the church continues on a trajectory against Doctrine and against Christ.  But this isn’t right either.  Christ allowed the authority to take him all the way to death.  And we are supposed to be like Christ.  In the current world scenario this is what I see, I believe the “Herod and Pilate” who are the secular leaders who crucified Christ, is China.  The Judases are the ones who are betraying Christ from the inside by denying His teachings.  But there will be many who will break away from the walk to Calvary in an effort to save themselves, but not others.  Christ wants us all in this together.  The people of God are a communion.

At the core of the church the Holy Spirit is the head, so even if the authority is blind and deaf the ship will be directed the way the Spirit wants and we need to remain on the ship even when we can’t see through the storm.  She will get safely anchored, after this giant storm, between the two pillars of Mary and the Eucharist.

Pray without ceasing for the unity of the church.  Not a false unity, but for unity in TRUTH.

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Be a living Sanctuary – A Pilgrims Story

Sun Dancing

Photo taken October 2, 2018 – Medjugorje – Feast of the Guardian Angels

“if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

I made my first pilgrimage ever.  I took a trip to Medjugorje, Bosnia – Herzegovina.   This is a place of alleged apparitions of Our Lady.   The Vatican has assigned a Papal Envoy with Archbishop Hoser as the head of the envoy, and with this Medjugorje is expanding.

I will stop here for a moment to give my thoughts on Medjugorje, as I know some find this to be a controversial place, this will be my only comment about it because in the end, if it is authentic, I have no need to defend it, God’s truth always wins.   And whatever that truth may be, as revealed through God’s church, I will accept it.

I have read both pros and cons about Medjugorje and conflicting reports about all that has gone on there.  Many others have already written about this.   The appointment of the Papal Envoy lends validity at the very least to the place as a shrine.

As for me, in my prayer, God tells me it is authentic.  He tells me though, because of us and our sinful ways, it comes with all the muck of our modern era attached to it.  By that I mean, whenever something great and Godly is happening, you can also count on people bringing their own mess to it.  And you can count on Satan to attack it.  There are several reasons I believe it is authentic. The first is because of the vocations to the Priesthood that I have personally seen come out of there.  The priests who found their calling from there are numerous, and most telling is their acceptance of authentic Catholic Truth.  Including the fact that they all say they would accept whatever the Vatican decides about the place.  If there is one thing I know, the devil does not want Priests.  The devil is not going to be sending Priests out in the world who preach authentic Catholic Truth.  On this alone, I can conclude something wonderful is happening there.   And the devil will fight very hard to bring those Priests down in a particularly harsh way, which is why we need to pray for them so much.  Second, the main message of Medjugorje (and from Our Lady) are these 5 things, called the 5 stones;

  1.  Prayer from the Heart.  There is nothing more important than prayer, which brings that personal encounter with God.  Praying the Rosary and MEANING IT and MEDITATING ON IT, and have MENTAL CONVERSATION WITH GOD, who is our creater, Our Good Good Father, and our Savior.
  2. Mass and reception of the Holy Eucharist.  (Adoration also).  This is emphasized so much!  Encounter God in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.
  3. Reading Scripture everyday and placing the Holy Bible in a prominent place in our homes.
  4. Fasting.  We in the west have forgotten how to do this.  We are comfortable, but Medjugorje reminds us of the importance of this.
  5. Monthly Confession.  If you do not take time to examine your own conscience and repent of your sins, you cannot make the world a better place.  Peace in the world begins in the Confessional.

So with all this in mind, I began my pilgrimage to Medjurgorje with an open heart and an open mind.  It was my first time ever on and International flight (unless my honeymoon to Mexico counted, back when you didn’t need a passport to travel to Mexico.)  I have to say, I used to suffer from great anxiety travelling.  You can read about my anxiety, here and here.  My anxiety about things would sometimes get to the point I cry and break down.  But in my journey with God, He has slowly and gently walked me to a place of freedom.  I had absolutely no anxiety at all about this trip.  And I am telling you, that is a miracle.

It took over 24 hours to get there and we arrived late in the evening, after having to spend much of the trip surrendering to God the travels delays.  We stayed at a lovely hotel that was owned by the family of a locutionist who have also a winery.  It was called the Cesaria Wine Hotel.

wine hotel

The first thing I noticed about the place is the hospitality and the slower pace of life.  Phones put away, and relationships nurtured.  A glass of wine, and a conversation.  We had about 28 people on our Pilgrimage including our Priest and tour Guide.

Pilgrimage Group

Most were from one parish in our Diocese, with a few others of us sprinkled in.  I really didn’t know the people well, but by the time I left, they were friends.

My first day there started with Mass.  English Mass at 10:00 a.m.  This is something that you just go to every morning.  It isn’t a question.  Mass is so packed that it overflows outside.  In the evening is International Mass and it is a sight to behold;

International Mass

The church of Saint James – Patron of Pilgrims built in 1968 – years prior to the 1981 apparition beginnings.  No one knew why they built such a large church for such a small town, or why they named it Saint James- no one but God.  

It actually took my breath away to see this many people going to Mass, a daily Mass at that.  There were, Croations, Italians, Africans, Polish, Americans, Irish, British, Indian, Canadian, German, Chinese, I could go on… I mean it was breath taking.  All there to worship God in the Mass.  The homilies were all powerful and packed with truths that most American Priests don’t speak of (with the exception of a few I know.)

The lines for confession were long.  The Adoration Chapel was packed.  This is how we should all be living.  This is how the Mother of God calls us to deep contemplative prayer and worship of her Son.  Why in the world are the rest of us not living like this?  It was common place to see people walking and reciting the Rosary.  I could listen to the Croatian Rosary and respond in English.  It was a vision of the Mystical Body of Christ.

October 2 was the day of the apparition.  I will pause here for a moment to say this, Mary’s appearance in anyplace has always been a call towards her Son.  Though I of course wanted to be there for the apparition, it was the sight of the people praying in unison that captivated me the most.  At the precise time of the apparition, for me interiorly, God impressed upon my heart to pray for specific people and their mission.  We each have a purpose and mission in life, and when ordered towards God, we experience joy and a fire in our hearts.  He impressed upon me to pray for this for some very particular people, who I believe will help change the world for the better.

apparition

My view at apparition time

The biggest impression of all was made upon me by the faith of the people who lived there.  They are just one generation away from communism.  Their parish Priest was jailed and tortured.  The Franciscans were martyred nearby, each holding the Cross proclaiming their love for Christ as the communists murdered them one by one and threw their bodies into a cave and burned them.  The people woke to murdered Priests.  The pain was great, but the faith is authentic and unmistakable.

Francican Monastery

The Franciscan Monastery of Siroki Brijeg

Franciscan Martyrs

Franciscan Martyrs of Siroki Brijeg

Cave of Franciscan Martyrs

Cave where the bodies of the Franciscan Martyrs were burned by the communists

I think the thing that was impressed upon me so greatly after listening to these stories, is actually how sad I am to see similar things happening in America.  Communism is evil.  The level of vitriol being spewed out is reaching a high level.  We should all be actively praying for the conversion of  America and of the world.

As for my personal journey, this was a place of healing for me.  When I climbed apparition hill, though I didn’t let anyone know at the time, I cried.  I cried about my journey to cling to my faith and about how all of that was preparation for the times we are living in now in the church.  I know it is through forgiveness and the Sacramental Life that we are free.

At the top of Apparition Hill

I had two very profound moments I will speak of.  The first happened on October 2.  I have felt the Lord lately tell me to “pay attention to the Dogs.”  Yes, the dogs.  I know that is strange but it is what he said.  I went to confession and was finishing up my Penance when a dog walked past.  The Lord told me to follow him, so I did.  The dog took me to the middle of the field, where I saw the sun dance.  It had a large white host in the center of it.  And it danced a blazing pink, the color of joy.  I posted the photo at the top which doesn’t show what I saw, but does show an expanding sun.  This is known as the miracle of the sun, and many have experienced this in Medjugorje.  Later when I looked at the cross on top of the mountain, it was also pink.  I will only say this, it was joyful to be there because many things I have received in prayer seemed to come together in this place and start to make sense.

The second moment was in climbing Cross Mountain and doing the Way of the Cross.  I got to the sixth station, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, and I recalled how my journey of faith really began with the murder of my friend Veronica.

I prayed for her and I wept, again, hiding it from everyone.  And I thanked God for the good He brought from such evil circumstances.

6th Station

Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

I laid the intentions everyone gave me at the Foot of the Cross.

foot of the cross

The Cross on Krizevac in Medjugorje, marked “33-1933.” Built in 1933, to honor the 1900th anniversary of the death and resurrection of Jesus who died on the cross at age 33. It commemorates 1900 years. The cross was placed there long before apparitions and served as a beacon of hope during their oppression from communism.

And I prayed very specifically for someone the whole way and after that I saw this on the way down even though it was a sunny day;

rainbow cross mountain

In the end, the message I have felt the Lord tell me over and over has been reinforced.  While Rome burns, Medjugorje’s message is clear. It is the age old message of the church. Do God’s will.  Live the Sacramental Life. Be a living sanctuary.  Live in the Peace that surpasses all understanding.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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