Into the Darkness to be a Great Light

Mary, Queen of the Universe

And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 3:19-21

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t praise God for the overturning of Roe v Wade and for the success of the Kennedy ruling on prayer. When Roe v. Wade was overturned a curse was lifted from our land – so of course the demonic are in a frenzy using everyone who will listen to cause havoc and destruction. We must keep praying as we battle this Hydra. One head at a time, working together, to defeat this beast. We must not close off from one another. In isolation we become targets, but together, we become an army of love.

It’s been a while since I have written anything, as you know from my last post, I have had many trials. The trials have extended beyond caring for my mom and my back injury. I do not want to go into what they are now, but one day I may share it. I have been feeling of late like I was suffocating and drowning. Many of you out there may feel this way too. Then I listened to a podcast by Sister Jane Dominic, OP.

Sister described the journey to transforming union as one of descent, not ascent. She said, while she had thought one ascends to God, she realizes God actually digs a hole, puts you in it, covers you with dirt, and waters you until you sprout and bear fruit. I loved this analogy as it explained exactly how I felt, and set my resolve to keep my eyes on Jesus, to keep loving in the darkness. It also made me to realize that the ascent – it’s HIS. I am weak, on the human level I have nothing left to give. But God has a lot to give. His giving is supernatural. When we have nothing left to give, we only need to turn to the Lord and ask for help because His power really is made perfect in our weakness. Our ability to love, despite what has come at us is key to God being able to lift us into His grace. It is a total trust, that no matter what, He can do whatever it is you feel you can’t.

We are entering into more and more difficulty as the demonic becomes more and more frantic. It is here we must be docile to the Lord, despite whatever fears we may have. The signs are marked in the sky. The victory is God’s already.

In all this, we must look to Mary to help guide us to the proper response to the Lord. My friend Ashley, pointed out to me the difference between Zechariah’s question to the Angel Gabriel and Mary’s question to him. Zechariah essentially asking, “how can I know?” While Mary asked, “how can this be?

“How can I know?” is trying to fill a hole that cannot be filled. God’s ways are not for us to know in and of themselves because that removes our faith if we “know”. If we know, we don’t need faith. So we shouldn’t be asking to know. Asking to know is trying to control and grasping at that which doesn’t belong to us. We can make plans, but we shouldn’t despair if they’re thwarted or changed.

“How can this be?” is a response of wonder and awe. It recognizes that God is leading us and places complete trust in His providence. This response says, “God, how will you be working miracles in this situation?” It is completely open to God’s work and not about anything we will gain, but about seeing God’s action and witnessing what He will do in and through our lives.

In my situation, in all the hardships, I was wanting to know God’s plan, and I found myself anxious, because trying to know puts you in a place where the devil can openly fling the “what if’s” at you. It’s an open doorway to the demonic to take your thoughts to the darkest places. It was draining me especially if I looked at the news in addition to my personal mountains.

But in realizing I was grasping at the wrong thing, I can be redirected. Instead, knowing all my prayer is efficacious and knowing that God loves me and my family more than I do, I can look at the mountain in front of me, and know that God will move it. I can say with wonder and awe, “how can this be? How can you move this unsurmountable mountain?” And I can be still and know that He is God and He will fight for me like a God who parts a sea when an army is chasing you. This is reliance on the supernatural when the natural human means leave you at a loss. God’s ways are not our ways and I am thankful for that.

It’s important to keep this perspective in the months ahead when we find ourselves worried and mired in details and practicality. We can do what we can do, but God, have you seen what He can do? Don’t rely on yourself and your human ways to persevere. Rely on God and his supernatural ways.

Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17

Remember this and have faith. Your faith will save you.

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The Night of Long Suffering

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb… John 20:11

It’s been awhile since I have written anything so I thought I would update you on my life.

On Friday, May 6, I ruptured a disk in my back lifting my mom into her wheelchair. This was just shortly after I spoke the week before on Radio Maria, USA’s show, Battle Ready with Father Dan Reehil, that I wanted to hold nothing back from God, that I understood suffering purifies us, and I wanted to be purified. I don’t think these things are ever coincidence.

It’s not that God wants us to suffer, because suffering is bad. It’s that God wants us to love Him enough that we are willing to suffer. It’s the love God is looking for – because that kind of love is Christ on the Cross.

Now, when I tell you I have never experienced that level of pain in my whole life, I mean it was a 10+, I can’t think straight level of pain. More pain than childbirth for me. I don’t go to the ER generally ever. I think I have been 3 times in my life, all for life threatening things. But this level of pain – this sent me to the ER crawling in on my hands and knees.

The devil tried to tempt me with thoughts that God didn’t love me. He even tempted me with thoughts of death being better. I sobbed and sobbed and begged God for mercy. It was in this night I gained an understanding of the night of long suffering of Christ. I am talking about the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It was as if I knew all these thoughts were flung at Him and the depth of Jesus’ understanding of all we go through, both physical and mental. Jesus understands those who have thoughts of suicide because of physical and emotional pain. He understands all of our mental anguish. And I was made to understand the unending ocean of mercy he wants to bathe us in. Though Christ wants us to choose love regardless of suffering, He offers His mercy to everyone who is suffering, and we just have to say yes. He always wants us to hold on to hope that His promises are true, because they are, in fact, true. In that space between life and death, lies the mercy of God. I pray that everyone says yes to it and doesn’t lock themselves into hell.

The road to recovery has seemed long to me, though in the scheme of things it is rather short. But needless to say I have been confined to my home again. My doctor would not prescribe narcotic pain medication because so many people get addicted. I admire his stance, but this brought on a lot of physical pain for me. I am not here to debate my doctor’s decision. I will just tell you that this led to nights of excruciating pain where the medications I did have simply didn’t help. I experienced temporary blindness in one eye from one of the medications that was given to me. I cried out to God. Still, I tried to offer all this suffering up and get outside myself to pray for others. That is the goal, to love others and be stripped of ego, I have prayed for this for years.

But I am a failure. By Tuesday, May 17, I was yelling at my husband, crying about my situation, and cursing with words I haven’t used in a long long while, caving in on myself. My husband got me to the chiropractor and I experienced relief. I apologized to Jesus and set out to keep moving forward. There are two paths, stay on the path of prayer and faith and move forward, or fall off the path back to the old ways of living. I am not going backwards. I have experienced the love of God and in these moments where He feels absent to me, I refuse to believe that He is absent. I have faith.

By Sunday the 22nd, I was able to hobble back into Mass. On Monday I made it to confession and Mass. But some things have changed for me which I will now try to explain as best as I can.

Back in 2018, when I was on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, I felt the Lord ask me to receive the Eucharist kneeling. You may remember I had already had a dream and conversation with God about receiving on the tongue. The parish where I work is a Novus Ordo Mass parish. There are no kneelers or altar rails in the line for communion. I listened to what I felt God speak to me, and then I ignored it. I already wore a veil, and received on the tongue, I was afraid of the judgment of man. I mean, how many things was God going to ask me to do? I justified to myself.

Then came the 2020 pandemic. The shutdown broke my heart. When we reopened, I told the Lord I would do whatever He wanted, and I wouldn’t worry about the judgement of man. I received kneeling on the tongue, and I was blessed enough that our Diocese hadn’t banned tongue reception. While we took the prudent measures to protect, this was still allowed. I am externally grateful for that.

I have knelt down ever since. But here I find myself today with a bad back that made kneeling down without an altar rail for support, impossible for me. So like I do, I had a conversation with God about it. I just told the Lord that I wanted Him to know that my receiving standing up wasn’t out of disobedience.

It was as if a lot of things poured over me about the Liturgy and communion and standing and kneeling at that moment of my conversation with God.  I am not sure I understand all of it, or if it is even correct, but I am going to do my best to explain.

The Latin Mass everyone kneels for communion.  This is a posture of humility, of a sinner in front of her Majesty, the King, receiving the gift.  Since I began to be on fire for the Lord, this position of reception has always made sense to me even though I just did whatever the church I went to at the time did until the pandemic. 

What I saw in my prayer during Mass about this, was Mary Magdalene in a heap on her knees at the foot of the cross.  Here she was, a penitent sinner, watching the death of her Lord, perhaps not understanding, but still, at the cross.  Though scripture isn’t clear that Mary Magdalene was kneeling (it says standing were the Blessed Virgin Mary and then lists the other women), tradition has always depicted her this way in the art I have seen, on her knees.   She is contrasted with the Blessed Virgin Mary who is sinless and full of grace, and John who rests in the bosom of Christ and as a Priest is grafted into the Holy Family in a way that others are not.  They both are standing.  

It is only at the empty tomb that we see Mary Magdalene standing, having been through the cross, and now bowing to look for Him at the tomb (John 20:11).  The risen Lord appears to the woman who is standing after having been through the cross.

The new Mass has everyone standing with a bow to receive communion, which, in light of this, to me, is a posture of Resurrection.  The problem with this is, most are still filled with sin, don’t confess, and want Resurrection without going through the cross.  While I understand both positions – one should actually lead to the other.

Acceptance of suffering and total forgiveness takes time in the human heart. For these things to take place, virtue needs to grow. It is these things that convert us into other Christ’s. And it is these things that are desperately missing in the world.

It is a process of being purified. It is as if, while the Blessed Virgin Mary is the archetype of the church and Mother of the Church, Mary Magdalene stands as the purified church. The one whom seven demons had been cast out of.

Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. Mark 16:9

It is as if the church herself still needs these demons cast out; the demons of pride, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, and greed. We find ourselves in a period of history where we are brought to our knees at the cross of purification, so that we may stand in the Resurrection of being purified. I am starting to understand why the Saint of the Year I picked was Mary Magdalene. In scripture she is the first the Lord appears to and she is the apostle to the Apostles. She is a purified bride made for transforming union. She was at the cross with the Mother of God, mediatrix of grace, and a Priest who was given to us to bridge the gap between heaven and earth so we may be purified sacramentally. God heals his family members.

Since the time I began to realize all that God is, I wanted to kneel, knowing I am not worthy that he should enter under my roof.  I cannot at the moment physically do this.  But the Lord was kind and gentle with me at Mass.  I am currently bearing a cross.  I have never felt as more of a failure than right now, and never even more dependent on Him, as I am now, crying most nights for Him and His mercy in the physical pain I am in.  It’s almost as if in my complete helplessness, what does the Lord do?  He stands me up.  Not me, not my merit, not my earning, not anything I have done at all.  A glimmer for me that in helplessness and surrender – Resurrection is on the other side – that I may stand.  It is God who stands us up, we should not be standing ourselves up without Him filling us and guiding us there.  It is a posture of pride to think we can do this on our own without having surrendered to our crosses.  We must stop fighting the cross.

I had actually been praying this whole last year to be able to stand at the cross like the Blessed Virgin Mary.    I was so positive that I was not doing that during this trial.  That all I am and all I can do is fail.  And then I had this moment at Mass – when total reliance on Him is all I can do to make it through, and I stand at communion, as if to signify – He will bring me where I need to go, because I am not my own Savior.  

Lastly, my friend Ashley sent me something about how Saint Margaret Mary offered Jesus His own heart. There was a time I wouldn’t have understood this. But here, in this cross that I bear, I understand. I have decided when I awake in the night to make an act of reparation to His Sacred Heart. Because it is usually dark and I am tired, I just used my own words. I leave you with this prayer;

Lord Jesus, I desire to make reparation for my sins and the sins of mankind that have injured your heart. I give you my own heart, but I know it doesn’t contain enough love, though I desire it to. So, I offer you your own heart, which contains an infinite amount of love, along with my own heart, that the world may be repaired and your heart consoled. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.   

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The Woman Clothed in the Sun: Her Message Today

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Revelation 12:1

This is the transcript of a talk I was supposed to give today at the Carmel Center in Liberty, TN. Unfortunately due to a pretty severe back injury from lifting my mom, I was unable to give it. Please pray for my quick recovery. So much of what I wrote and was to speak, I think is meant for myself as much as anyone else. Live in gratitude everyday for the gifts you have been given because in the blink of an eye everything can change.

The Woman Clothed in the Sun: Her Message Today

The topic that was given to me to speak on is “The Woman Clothed in the Sun, Her Message Today.”  An important, if not overwhelming topic given all that is going on in our world.

It may seem strange, but I would like to begin with the definition of what a Sacrament is.  For the sake of clarity and brevity I will use the definition of a Sacrament from the Baltimore catechism.  

“A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by God to give grace.”

And so in pondering that meaning, I now want to take you all the way back to the beginning of time, to creation.  I promise, I will bring it back around to the message for today.  

Prior to the fall of man, all of creation was in union with God.  Adam and Eve were in union, with God, and the created things were in union with them and God as they held dominion over creation.  We know, because scripture tells us, that they were naked and unashamed.  They were full of grace.  In essence, all that they were, could be described as sacrament because all that they were, held the grace of God from within.  As the keeper of the garden all that Adam and also his wife Eve consumed was the food of God.  They could tell a fig tree to produce fruit and it would, as all things in the garden were ordered to their purpose.  It is why we see later in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus curse a fig tree, because it was not doing what it was made for.  That unproductive tree is a product of the fall of man.  In the garden, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed in need of no garment other than the sun that lit their way because there was no perversion.   It was peace and harmony.  They were clothed in the sun.  Eden was a temple and they were tabernacles that housed the Lord inside of them.  All of creation was an outward sign of God’s grace.

It is worth pondering what this would look like, being clothed in the sun.  We can actually see things in the darkness that we cannot see in the brightest of light.  If the sun shines brightly upon something at first you may see the flaws more clearly, but the brighter the sun gets, the more the flaws fade away in the brightness of the light until all you can see is the brightness and it can seem that you do not know where the thing begins and the sun ends, even as you know that the two are distinct.  So it was for Adam and Eve that their purity and hearts shone so brightly that they were clothed in the sun and held dominion over creation.  There were no flaws for the sun to blot out back then, it was just purity.  

But then they fell.  It occurs to me from reading scripture that the first capital sin that entered in their hearts was sloth or what is known as acedia.  Why do I say this?  Well, there are two reasons.  First, the command of God to Adam was to “keep” the garden.  So if his job is to keep it, it begs the question of how the serpent got in in the first place.  It makes me wonder if Adam was resting in contemplation with God on the 7th day, thus was he, “keeping the Sabbath”, a foretelling of the third commandment? If he wasn’t, it is no wonder the serpent was in the garden in the first place.  And Eve, well we know from her conversation with the serpent that she wasn’t listening to God, for when the serpent asks her about the trees in the garden, she answers with something God didn’t say.  

God said, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Genesis 2:16-17

But when the serpent questioned Eve about what she was not allowed to eat, she answered;

“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” Genesis 3:2-3

Eve adds in something that God did not say.  It is here one can glean that the devil himself had flung the idea at her “not to touch it” and when she answered with what he had suggested, he knew Eve believed his lies.  He could show God how lowly these human beings really are.

Perhaps Adam and Eve did not feel the need to pray because everything in the garden was good.  What need does one have to pray when everything is going well and is good?  Comfort can be a plague that keeps us from thanksgiving and gratitude.

And so we know the rest of the story of how Eve grasped at the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and Adam caved too.  We know that this was a mortal sin because the council of Trent defined it as such.  It was a grave matter, they knew it was grave, and they did it anyway.  The enemy, who invaded the walls of the temple of Eden through their sloth and acedia, had trained them how to think, planting a seed of envy to be godlike in their unguarded minds.  

And in a flash, they were naked and ashamed.  The light that had once lit their hearts so brightly became dim and the darkened knowledge came upon them.  They could see evil, which is to say their view became perverted.  No longer was goodness all that they knew.  I would venture to say that envy to be godlike as the serpent promised, breaking their trust in God, entered in through sins of the flesh, like gluttony and lust.  For Satan cannot possess our soul, but our bodies he can wreak havoc with.  While we may never know exactly what the sin was we do know that this was not the end of their wrongdoing.  

God came looking for them.  The God of the Universe who is love came looking for them.  Are we to believe that he didn’t know where they were?  And instead of seeking Him out and trusting His love, they hid.  Then God questions them and they begin to blame one another.  It is here that we see something unforgivable, they did not ask for the mercy of God.  They chose pride, judgment and justification, over admitting their wrongdoing and asking for the mercy of God.  Have you ever wondered what would have happened if they just asked for mercy?  This rejection of the mercy of God when you commit a mortal sin is known as the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  I used to not know exactly what Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit meant and I hoped I had never done it, but then I realized how many times I had in my past.  How many times I didn’t go to confession in my past for mortal sin committed.  God cannot give us His mercy if we don’t ask for it.  This is something we choose to reject and it keeps grace from living within us.  And if we die that way, it gains us hell.  Thankfully, as long as there is breath in our bodies, we have a chance to turn back and repent and ask for mercy.  God forgives when mercy is asked for. 

It is in this moment for Adam and Eve, in the rejection of His mercy, that their offense against the infinitely good God, who is love, echoed through the generations, a sin of infinity because it is against infinite goodness and so it marks generation upon generation with original sin and concupiscence, which is our tendency towards sin.  

Eden, their bodies, creation, had been stolen.  His house had been a house of prayer but they had turned it into a den of thieves.  They had let Satan steal the gift that had been given to them.  They were no longer an outward sign of God’s grace.  The Spirit no longer dwelt within, instead it in scripture we hear of the Spirit – “falling upon” people – as if clothed from the outside, like a garment of skin, which is what Adam and Eve were clothed in after the fall – waiting for the Son of Man to restore what they had torn in two.  Waiting for Jesus so the Holy Spirit could once again dwell within instead of God holding everything together from the outside.  How do we get back to being clothed in the sun?   How could man possibly undo this offense of infinity? How do we get back to Sacrament?  It is in pondering all of this that we can come to understand the importance of Sacrament, for it is not enough to simply say, “God is everywhere” and believe we don’t need the church.  For though God holds everything together in His love, we have to choose Sacrament, to choose to consume holiness, for grace to dwell within us.  

We can see the effects of the fall in the infinite marks we have for offending the goodness and mercy of God. It marks us in our minds, where Satan trains us to think, and in our hearts, where sin takes over, and in our hands and feet, when we act on disordered desire and sin.  These are the wounds of Christ, and try as we may, before he came all of our meager attempts atonement fell short and covenant after covenant was broken.  

But God in His  infinite goodness and mercy, has a plan, one that is still in motion today.  This plan was to include a “woman clothed in the sun,” as the Book of Revelation calls her,  in order that we may be redeemed.  He wanted for the participation of this humble human person in cooperation with His Divine person for our salvation.  

God in His Divine providence, knew that only God Himself could atone for the infinite offense.  Atonement is the reconstruction of the damaged relationship, a way if you will, for the Spirit to dwell within once again.  So the second person of the Blessed Trinity came in the form of the Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sin.  That is, He came to reconcile us to Himself.  He did this through His death on the cross and His resurrection. But he entered into this world through the waters of the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary being birthed and taking on our limited human nature.  

He didn’t do this without her.  Though God could have just restored us to the state of original justice, He did not.  In His Divine Providence, through the prevenient grace of the Cross and Resurrection,  God created the Immaculate Conception.  A woman, who like Adam and Eve in the beginning, is full of grace.  Clothed in the sun, the Holy Spirit dwelling within her.  The remarkable thing about Mary, the singular thing, is that though she is conceived as they were, she actually does know of evil in the sense that she can see it around her, she can touch it, if you will, but she never consumes it.  She touches it with the sorrow of suffering for us.  She can see it in other people.   She knows she can be killed for saying yes to this pregnancy, which would be an evil. But because of her posture of constant prayer, she knows no evil in her heart or mind.  She thinks no evil, speaks no evil, and acts no evil.   Her body and soul are a house of prayer, one that the Lord Himself has “kept” in order that we may be saved.  Still, she has free will to choose, and she gives her FIAT, her yes and her soul Magnifies the Lord.   

This woman clothed in the sun, has full dominion.  And it is truly remarkable to think about what she did.  Because no evil is housed in her, all of these gifts she chose to use for love of us.  She chose to repair the damage we had done with her Son.  Her yes to God, agreeing to bring God into the world, caused her much suffering, suffering that would make most of us flee.  But for Mary, it is the remarkable trust in God that she demonstrates.  Adam and Eve didn’t trust the goodness of God because they didn’t ask for mercy, but Mary, she trusts completely and she becomes the Mother of Mercy.  The Divine dwells within her, not only in her soul, but physically makes His home in her womb and in her Immaculate Heart.  She will be fruitful and multiply so all generations call her Blessed.  She is our Mother.  

Jesus came through Mary to sanctify all that we had given away to the enemy.  He came to destroy the works of the devil.  And He did this by sanctifying the things that had been stolen from us.  He gave us a place, and outward signs, instituted by Him to give us grace, so that ultimately in the end, the end of our lives and the end of time, we would be sanctified, we would be clothed in the Sun at the resurrection of the body once again, creation itself would be healed.  While we still see the devil at work today there truly is a message to pay attention to in the life of Mary and her relationship with Jesus.

The Divine person of Jesus, came through this grace filled human person to atone for our infinite offense in the garden that marked generations. Her womb, the space where the Divine Person and Human Person meet.  Her Immaculate Heart, the consolation for His Sacred Heart.  In Jesus and Mary we see the unity that we had lost in their gaze of love for one another.  And all things they went through point to the church. Jesus is the Way and Mary is His Mother and Mother of the Church. The path of the Way set clearly before us.  

Together, Jesus and Mary bring us back to Sacrament which purifies us to redeem us.  We can see the path they laid out – and the reason it is a path instead of something instantaneous is because God wants our free will to participate freely.  He wants us to choose.  This is because you can’t really love unless you choose to.  While the path is narrow, and the road is hard, when we hand ourselves to Jesus the yoke becomes easier and the burden lighter. 

It starts with making your soul a house of prayer.  It took me most of my life to figure this out.  Though I had been raised Catholic, taught the truths of the faith, taught the prayers of the faith, I don’t know if I ever really knew how to pray in a way that converted me.  I often said the prayers but without meaning, and if I ever really did try to converse with God, it was usually to beg him for something I wanted.  It was actually through suffering that I got real with God and began to have a conversation.  I began to no longer hide all my flaws and wounds.  I became transparent with God.  And His mother showed me how to pray.

One only need to look at Scripture and the few words that Mary spoke to understand that she is the pinnacle of Mount Carmel,  like an unblemished cloud of needed rain, steadfast in prayer and belief.  There are only 4 instances where Mary speaks in the Gospels.  They are found in the Gospel of Luke and John.  

The first instance is when the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her of the Divine Plan.  In her innocence she asks one question to help her understand and once she does, her words of consent to the will of God are seared throughout the generations, “let it be done, according to thy word.”  God speaks, and Mary receives.  Can we say this of ourselves? I can’t tell you how many times God asked me to do something, from wearing a veil, to kneeling for communion, that I argued and fought with Him before I acquiesced. I used to only approach God in my own suffering and tell Him what I wanted.  Now I know to ask Him what He wants.  If only we all would try to understand what the church teaches and receive what God wants, the world would be transformed.  We see in Mary, she only asks in innocence and immediately does what God asks.  After the angel visits her, we see her leave from here to go to the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Even in a situation where Mary could have remained troubled, she didn’t, the angel satisfied her question, and she turns to thinking of another when she learns of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  Mary is not focused on herself.  

The second instance of Mary speaking is her words to Elizabeth when she goes to visit her.  And here she speaks the Magnificat.  The beautiful prayer we all know and love.  Her soul magnifies the Lord.  Her spirit rejoices in God the Savior.  This is a woman who trusts God completely.  She even speaks of the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham.  Think about that for a moment.  Abraham came 18 centuries before Jesus and yet Mary can proclaim confidently that the promises made to him will happen and are happening.  She is not short-sighted as we often get.  We often get stuck in our own little circumstances and world that we fail to miss the larger plan God is working.  I don’t know how many times a situation with my kids or my husband has sent me into anxiety and worry.  The devil keeps us busy looking down in distress, but Mary’s eyes are lifted toward heaven, never doubting in God’s promises.  Can we say that of ourselves?  I know I can think of many times when it’s only in hindsight I see His promises come true, but all along the way I doubted.  I think this is why it is so important to take to heart the Words of Divine Mercy, Jesus I trust in you!  Do we believe when we look at the state of the church right now that the gates of hell will not prevail?  Or are we constantly scanning headlines to see which pit of despair we can fall into next.  Are we so wrapped up in the day to day sufferings in our relationships that we forget to turn to the Divine Healer and let Him act?  This trust Mary has extends even when she is distressed.  

Which brings me to the next instance she speaks in Scripture where she expresses distress.  This may seem baffling at first, but upon further examination we can see a reversal of what happened in Eden is already taking place before Resurrection.  In Genesis, Adam and Eve hide because of their shame and God goes looking for them.  In this instance, Mary who stands unashamed before God is with Joseph and they are looking for Jesus.  They are looking for God.  She stands in an understanding of what we go through in our hearts in suffering the feeling of absence, yet without sin.  She expresses her distress straight to Jesus and Jesus points her back to the house of prayer, His father’s house, telling her, “did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?”  In this exchange, again Mary is troubled.  She doesn’t understand yet what is happening.  Mary questions God, but always in a purity and innocence, not as if she doesn’t trust, never as if she doesn’t believe in His goodness.  We learn from her how to converse with the Lord when we are distressed.  Our questioning from lack of understanding is something the Lord understands.  It doesn’t come from a place of pride where we think we know better, for that is when we get ourselves into trouble.  I have had many conversations with the Lord in pride, and He always shows me just how wrong I am and it is always humiliating, but I know this humility is good for me.  Our openness to correction is important, if we can’t hear correction, we are in trouble.  In the situation with Jesus and Mary, Jesus points Mary back to the Father and the house of prayer.  His question of her is actually an assurance, “did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?”, is a way of letting her know that though she felt He was gone, He was never gone, He was exactly where He was supposed to be and she as His Mother is always in His Heart.  For God does not abandon us, even when it feels as if He does.  This is a message for us.  When we look for God, we find Him in prayer.  Mary entered this situation in distress and left pondering these things in her own heart.  How many times do we think God is missing in our lives, how many times are we in distress?  Do we go to the Father’s house in search of him pondering what he tells us in our hearts?  Or do we distract ourselves with worldly pleasures never searching for God in our lives at all?  Do we fill our distress with worldly pleasures?  Do we  even read scripture to know what He tells us, or do we just look at that as some ancient book?  Mary didn’t do that.  We have so many distractions.  We can even distract ourselves with devotions (which are good, by all means), never really having a true conversation with God, never bringing our fears or our wounds straight to Him so he can help us better understand.

The final time we hear Mary is at the wedding at Cana.  She recognizes that there is an issue, “they have no wine”, and wanting to intercede for the wedding couple she advises the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Knowing that whatever He tells them will be the right thing to do.  She doesn’t know for sure that this would be His first public miracle.  She doesn’t try to tell Him what to do, she asks Him, and then she lets God be God and advises others to listen to Him.  And Jesus responds to the heart of a Mother’s concern for others, even though “his hour has not yet come.”  Her intercession hastens God’s plan.  Their love for one another is on display.  He sees the purity of intention in her heart and the love with which she asks.  She lets Him be the Savior and do what God does.  How many times in our own lives are we trying to twist God’s arm wanting Him to do what we want rather than letting God act?  I could totally see myself in this situation trying to run to the nearest vineyard to “fix” the issue.  Mary knows that Jesus’ action is far greater than anything she could accomplish with mere human means.  We need to ask ourselves daily, are we trying to control that which isn’t ours to control, or are seeking God, asking God, and making room for Him to act?  To be clothed as Mary is, we must be willing to step back from a situation and not try to control everything.  Let Jesus perform the miracle in your life.  In today’s day and age, one glance at the headlines, or at social media can send you into a tailspin.  But we need not despair, instead we need to go to God and “Do whatever He tells you.”

In these 4 instances of Mary speaking we can also see a prefigurement of the Sacraments of Initiation and confession. This is because the message of the Woman Clothed in the Sun, is the message of the Mother of the Church.  The Sacraments are the way back to transforming union.  

When Mary says yes to the angel Gabriel, “let it be done,” the second person of the Blessed Trinity enters the waters of her womb.  For us, our yes to our baptism, and our yes for our children, opens the doors for us to become the children of God once again, to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we too, like Mary, are saying, Let it be done!

Our willingness then to be Confirmed in the Spirit enables us to go out to others the way that Mary went to Elizabeth and proclaimed that her soul magnifies the Lord.  It is a Christian witness of the Good News that God has brought to us.  Our souls can magnify the Lord!

Like Mary in her distress we can go in search of Jesus.  But for us, it is His mercy we need because of our sins.  Jesus calls us to the Father’s house to reconcile.  While Mary needed no reconciling, we can be assured that, she held close to her heart and pondered in prayer, all of us, who need the mercy of the Son more than we can imagine.  The Finding of the Child Jesus is a sorrow and a joy for Mary.  Her sorrow is a sorrow for us when we are lost.  Her joy is a joy for us when we find Him and reconcile with Him.  

And finally, the wedding at Cana, Mary’s complete trust in “doing whatever He tells you,” brings the best wine.  We need only look at the chalice on the altar after the words of consecration to understand this Eucharistic communion that is the marriage feast of the Lamb.  When we receive this Sacrament in a state of grace, we truly allow God to act, to purify our hearts, minds, and souls.  Overtime we make our way back to being clothed in the sun, that is to say, totally transparent and unashamed before God so He can work Divine Life in us.  You can all see this sunshine when you come across a Saint or when you know someone holy.  It is the real sacramental grace at work.  There is no perversion of thought, word, or action.

The words of Mary in Scripture are not to be outdone by her actions.  In all that she did, in everyday life, she walked in the will of God, all the way to the Cross.  In her purity, not having any sin on the cross of her own, she knew that the cross was needed for our sin.  She knew that it was God’s will.  She knew the human will needed to be nailed to a cross in order that we can be filled with the Divine Will.  And she was given at the Cross to John, a Priest of Jesus Christ, through whom the Sacraments are brought to us.  Every Priest has Mary as his mother, and all of us do too.  The Priests through the power of Jesus Christ makes our food sacred again, so that we can once again consume God.  And consuming God sanctifies us on our path back to union.

Mary’s message and the message of her Son is the Sacramental life and the life of prayer.  These are the things that transform you into the likeness of Christ.  These are the things that ultimately help you nail your own human will to the Cross so that you can be filled with the Divine Will. 

In today’s society there are so many evils surrounding us. We can all see them. The evil of abortion. The evil of confusing male and female. The evil of disordered so called “marriage” where our bodies are used in a way in which they weren’t designed, not ordered to their purpose, like the fig tree that doesn’t produce fruit. This is the fruit of what Adam and Eve consumed. Eve consumed herself, Adam consumed Eve, what is wrought when we keep on this path is destruction. It is a devouring of ourselves. When we eat the Eucharistic communion without taking our sin to the cross but only show up in our own pride, we end up where we can’t even define what a male or a female is, where a woman has a right to kill a child, where confusion is a plague we feed our children. And the devil has stolen our identity, killed our life giving fertility, and destroyed the vestiges of truth. We are being devoured.

For those of us who do see, it is easy to find ourselves outraged on a daily basis.  We wonder how we can fend off the attacks that seem to come from every angle.  We watch as our children or relatives get sucked into the abyss of sin.  We are standing at our own cross, not knowing what will happen.  We have to be careful to oppose all this evil without wishing ill upon others, without judgment and condemnation that isn’t ours to convey, but God’s alone.  We, like Jesus on the cross, have to be willing to forgive, and here me now when I say this, we must forgive, even if someone isn’t sorry.  This kind of forgiveness isn’t done by focusing on the works of the devil, but by looking up at the one who can heal us and believing that His power is stronger than the devils, because it is.  Make no mistake.  There is nothing happening today that God cannot handle and handle in a way that the most souls are saved; including our loved ones.   

Our souls must become houses of prayer in relationship with the living God and purified by His Sacraments.  In Acts of the Apostles chapter 7, just before Stephen is killed for proclaiming Christ, Stephen says, “the Most high does not dwell in houses made with hands.”  He goes on to say, “what house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is my place of rest?”  It is a question for all of us.  Is your soul a house for the Lord? 

Mary, in all of her apparitions, in all of her words and actions, she lights the way, full of grace and clothed in the sun.  She beckons us to look up to the Father of Mercy and to purify our own hearts.  While she has shown hell to the children in Fatima and given warning of war and evil in so many places if we don’t repent, it isn’t because she wants us to focus on fear, but because souls are lost in real time, and she wants us to embrace love.  She is asking of us prayer and sacrifice for poor sinners, but in order to be able to do this, we have to be living a prayerful Sacramental life ourselves.  We have to pull the planks out of our own eyes and heaven will give us the grace to be able to do this.  She is asking for us to repair for what is being done because heaven wants sinners to be saved.  She wants us to be transformed into love because love changes everything.  

While we try every human possible way to get people to do what is right and just we often don’t look up and don’t think big enough.  God is way more powerful than Satan, and our worldly “prepping” is nothing compared to the plans of God.   Mary says, look at my Son, imitate Him, and trust Him.  It is something that happens inside a soul’s interior and each time a soul turns towards Jesus in prayer and takes Mary as his or her Mother and is obedient to the church, this is the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.  We don’t have to wait for some future time to have her triumph in our own hearts right now.  Why?  Because when we embrace the church and all that she teaches and all of the sacramental grace, God’s Kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven, now, through us.  This is the Triumph, this is the continual message.  Mary, the woman clothed in the Sun, cooperated with God to bring His Kingdom back to harmony to the peace that was in the beginning.  It is why she is Queen of the Universe. 

Let me explain.  Sin darkens everything.  Our sin darkens not just our hearts, it tore everything in two.  Our bodies and our souls, our relationship with God, our relationships with each other, and our relationship with  creation.  The only way to have true peace in the world is to follow the Way.  It is the way Jesus made for us and it came through Mary to all of creation.  

We see at Pentecost, Mary is in the upper room, praying with the Apostles when the Holy Spirit reigns down.  After this the Apostles are performing signs and wonders like we have never seen before.  They raise people from the dead.  Creation responds because they are purified and they are walking in the domain that was given to them.  The problems with our environment would go away if each and every soul sought to purify their heart of sin and walked the Way that Jesus left us in the church with Mary as our Mother.  

We see Saints who are able to do amazing and miraculous things.  This is how Mary wants us to live.  She is so pure and so in union with God, she is the Queen of the Universe, but she doesn’t want to keep it for herself.  It is always about giving.  God wants all of us to share in it.

This requires though, this life I am speaking of, this Sacramental life, nailing our human will to the cross to be filled with the Divine Will.  This hurts.  Letting go of our selfish desires feels like great suffering.  And often times suffering comes upon us in unexpected ways. Each time we can respond in love when suffering comes our way, we conquer evil.  Instead of fighting suffering, fight sin, fight the devil.  

And while it is good to read prophecy, as Scripture tells us not to despise it, if it turns us inward on ourselves where we want to save only ourselves (and our physical being) at all costs, if we fill up our own barn when we see the storm coming with no thought of others, if we judge and condemn other souls and wish harm on them, then the point has been entirely lost. Rage and condemnation have no place in the Christian heart.  It is not what we see Jesus doing on the cross.  He forgave everything.  Mary’s response to souls that are lost and opposed to her Son is sorrow and reparation, not resentment and rage. 

What does this path look like in your life?  Well I can tell you what it looks like in mine.  I can tell you that 10 years ago if I had been asked to take my parents in to care for them in their old age while raising teenagers, I probably would have ended up in a mental institution or just flat out said no I won’t do it.  Though I am still on the path and have such a long way to go in my journey with the Lord, I can say that because of prayer and the Sacraments and seeking the Lord with all my heart, that the difficulty of this situation has been lightened by God.  The grace is there.  Suffering is not something I fight against, instead my focus is fighting against sin.  When suffering comes, because it always comes, I try to look up and Praise God in the middle of it.  I would be lying if I said I don’t complain, but I do have a realization that complaint doesn’t make suffering stop, but praise, well it transforms the suffering into something beautiful.  I have let go of trying to control the outcome of everything and started praying that God works through me and in the situations.  

The message of the Woman Clothed in the Sun is to desire Sainthood.  As humans this can seem impossible.  And on the human level it is impossible.  But with God all things are possible. 

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Wall Street Banker becomes Priest

Cross Mountain – Medjugorje

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. John 15:16

I have been very busy with Sacrament season at work and have not had much time to post anything, but I will be shortly. I wanted to share this video with you all of the conversion of Father Dan Reehil. I am on Father Dan’s radio show Battle Ready on Radio Maria, USA, every Friday. I credit Father Dan with helping me pursue holiness in a way no other Priest in the past had done. Please pray for his perseverance and sanctification.

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Whose wounds do you worship?

Mary anoints Jesus’ feet – Tissot

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3

There are two stories about Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus. In the first story from the Gospel of Luke chapter 10 we see Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha scurries around preparing the meal. We see Jesus correct Martha in this story telling her that Mary has chosen the better part. We know from this that adoring Jesus should be primary, above all the distractions of the world. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, when we pray and adore, our work flows from that.

But in today’s Gospel, the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus, we see something even more about adoring Jesus. Mary of Bethany is willing to give her most expensive perfume to anoint Jesus. She is willing to in essence make a fool of herself in adoration of Him. She gives him her all because she knows he can take her sin and forgive her. And we see her get persecuted by Judas for this. Judas claiming that it should have been sold and given to the poor.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) John 12:4-6

We know because the Gospel tells us that Judas is stealing. We know his heart is hard. But have we ever thought about the fact that we could be Judas? This scenario could be applied to almost any group today, not just the poor, but any marginalized group that people advocate for. If we aren’t properly ordered towards God in adoration, our advocacy can actually be harmful.

For a moment, I want to apply this story beyond helping the poor (which we should most definitely be doing.) I want to apply it more broadly to those we speak of as marginalized. We put labels on groups and we fight for the group we want to fight for. Look at us, we scream, and so the focus actually becomes the wounds of the group, and how they were wronged, rather than on God and how we can walk towards healing.

Don’t get me wrong, we should always reach out to those who are wounded and marginalized. We should help those in poverty, we should help those in sin, we should help those who have faced injustice. But the question becomes, are we helping them to adore Jesus? or are we adoring their wounds and their sin and leaving them sitting in them? Are we leading them towards unforgiveness or towards sin, hindering their healing in our effort to help?

It seems Mary was singular minded. She was focused on Jesus. Though these scenes take place prior to the crucifixion, Mary seems to know interiorly that it is Jesus’ wounds we should adore. Why? Because he takes our wounds off of us and takes them on Himself. His wounds are wounds of true love. His wounds mean our healing. His wounds mean we can be lifted out of poverty and sin. In today’s world I would venture to say that it is spiritual poverty from which we suffer. By focusing on Jesus’ wounds our hearts can become spiritually rich.

When we focus solely on people’s wounds without redirecting them towards Christ and the truth that He taught, it becomes our own wound we adore and our own sin we adore. For some, their own sin blinds them to real love. For others, great empathy can be a hinderance to real love and real help. Saint Catherine of Siena once said, “too great pity is the greatest cruelty.”

In the case of Judas, he was blinded by sin. His heart didn’t want to help the poor at all. He was actually just made uncomfortable by the sight of true adoration. It pricked his sinful conscience. He was worshipping his own sin, his own wounds, to the detriment of his own healing. For Judas he was beyond just the distraction of Martha, he wasn’t looking to be lifted from sin, but to justify it and proclaim his own virtue while doing it. He was sitting in pride judging Mary. His pride would soon turn to despair, a twisted form of pride. The focus for Him was never really Jesus, but always self.

We see this so much today. The term we have come up with for it is virtue signaling. We help a marginalized group, and we judge others as hateful if they adore Christ and want to redirect people to Him. We judge harshly those that actually think Jesus can lift people out of sin. We have in essence gotten it all backwards.

Mary was properly focused and she was persecuted for it. When we focus solely on the wound, we sit and wallow in it without ever healing. We sit in sin and unforgiveness.

The most marginalized group that I can think of is actually the Catholic Saint. If you read their stories they are often mocked, imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and killed. But they are singularly focused on Christ and they know exactly who they are, they are not confused. They are willing to go to the death for Christ because they know that freedom from their chains comes from true love and forgiveness. They know that it isn’t really love if it isn’t grounded in truth. They go to their deaths wanting the salvation of others and walking in complete forgiveness. They, like Mary, adore the true God and give Him their all. It doesn’t make sense to the world. The world sits in worship of their own sin and wounds. But when we see a Saint we know they are different. We know they have chosen the better part.

It is why all things should begin and end in prayer and adoration of the God who loves us. It is His wounds we should adore.

The Body of Saint Maria Goretti. She was stabbed 14 times by a man who tried to rape her. She forgave her attacker before she died and stated she wanted him in heaven with her. Her attacker later converted in prison.
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Reparation

When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. Job 1:5

I gave a talk on reparation this morning at my parish. I am including the video and the transcript.

Reparation

Before I begin this talk, I will just say, I am not a theologian.  I do not really feel qualified to speak on this topic and if I am honest, when I signed myself up to do so, it was in the hopes of finding another speaker.  Most of what I know I learned from reading scripture, frequenting the sacraments, reading the lives of Saints and from my own progression in the prayer life.  I hope I am able to impart the importance of reparation and why we need to do it.  

In order to talk about reparation, I first wanted to talk about what scripture refers to as the “unforgivable sin.”  It is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  Let me read the passage to you;

In the Gospel of Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus tells us;

“Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is known as a rejection of God’s mercy.   I used to think this was a “one and done” sin and I prayed that I would never do this one thing that I didn’t really understand that would leave me unforgiven.  But I realized one day, I have actually committed this sin many times in my past. Because, as I said, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a rejection of mercy, it is when we remain in our pride thinking we aren’t wrong, or even our despair thinking God cannot forgive us in our mortal sin and we refuse God’s forgiveness. In my distant past I used to not confess all my mortal sin, even if I went to confession – and very often I just didn’t go to confession at all.  I tried to hide from God the really bad, I was more despairing, which I now see as a twisted form of my own pride. I thought in hiding from God I could save myself or sometimes even that God could not possibly repair what I had broken.  There were also occasions I simply thought I was right and God was wrong which is just straight up pride.  Because of this rejection of forgiveness we cannot have the Spirit dwelling within us. It is a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What Jesus is saying in this passage is, I can forgive you anything, but if you refuse to come to me, I cannot forgive.  Unconfessed sin cannot be absolved.  When we sit in unconfessed mortal sin, we lose divine indwelling.  In our pride we don’t want to be forgiven, for we think we are right or we think we can’t be forgiven.  This means we live our lives in the darkness of sin.  However, so long as we are breathing, we can always convert and change and repent, and we will be forgiven.  Don’t ever think the repentant heart won’t be forgiven.  God is waiting and seeking for us to receive the Holy Spirit.  But If we go to our death this way, which is to say, if we go to our death in the pride of mortal sin, it gains us hell, which is our own choice.  Remember mortal sin is grave sin, we know it is grave, and we give our full consent.  It is willful separation from God.  Purgatory is for those who accept mercy, who are albeit, still imperfect.  Heaven is for those made perfect, “as the heavenly father is perfect.”  Being made perfect is all about mercy.  Mercy is all about Charity.  

So now I want to take you back to the beginning when God created.  God, who scripture tells us, is love, who is infinitely good, created us.  Not because He had to, but because He is infinite goodness and love.  Love is always creative and beautiful. Love gives.

Adam and Eve were afforded the gift to live in union with the will of God.  This unity, was peaceful, perfect, harmonious, it knew no evil.  Everything was held in the infinite goodness of God, the Trinity. So going back to the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve fell, when they chose to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil,  the council of Trent defines this as a grievous sin.  They knew it and defied the command of God, and they gave their full consent to it.   But something else happened too.  God came looking for them.  Where are you ? He asks.  Who told you that you were naked? – He continued.  Then he straight up asked them if they did what He asked them not to do.  Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? Are we to believe that God didn’t already know?  Of course he knew.  He is God.  What was happening in this exchange then?  I have often pondered, what if they just had said yes and said they were sorry?  This was an opportunity to receive the mercy of God.  God already knew all that had happened, but he wanted them to tell him.  Instead of admitting they were wrong and asking for mercy, they began the blame game.  Eve blamed the serpent.  Adam blamed Eve.  Neither turned to God and just admitted their weakness.  They justified themselves in their mortal transgression putting a wall of separation of their choosing between themselves and God.  They tried to hide from God.  You don’t have to be an atheist to be doing this in your own life, as I said, I in the past, hid my sin from God, and refused to ask for His mercy. In Adam and Eve’s case, as in my own, you can be sure that God knew their weakness for He is their creator.  But in choosing to not ask for mercy, they blasphemed the Spirit that had dwelt within them.  Union was disrupted.  God’s love still held and holds everything together, for without it we would cease to exist, but it was no longer heart to heart.  A veil separated the union that once was.  And it was an infinite offense, this rejection of mercy, because it was an offense against the infinite goodness of God, which they had known fully in a way that we do not know it.  This rift in unity was created with a far reaching consequence, one that is as infinite as the goodness it offended. The offense against the Holy Spirit  travels from generation to generation, it is the mark of original sin and the concupiscence that accompanies it.  For those of you who don’t know what concupiscence is; it is the tendency of human beings towards sin. 

These are the infinite marks for offending the goodness and mercy of God.  It  marks us in our minds, where Satan trains us to think, and in our hearts where sin takes over, and in our hands and feet, when we act on the disordered desires and sin.  These are the wounds of Christ.  And try as we may, before Christ came, our attempts at atonement fell short.  Covenant after covenant was broken, as our human weaknesses always seem to get the best of us.  Our rejection of God and his mercy playing out over and over in time.  How could man possibly undo the offense of infinity?  How can man undo this original blasphemy of the Spirit?  How can this original unforgivable sin be forgiven?  Fortunately for Adam and Eve, they did not go to their death that way and God was working in Salvation History.  Fortunately for us God also has a plan, a plan that defeats sin and even death as we look forward to the resurrection of our glorified bodies.  

God in His Divine providence, knew that only God Himself could atone for the infinite offense.  Atonement is the reconstruction of the damaged relationship, a way if you will, for the Spirit to dwell within once again.  So the second person of the Blessed Trinity came in the form of the Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sin.  That is, He came to reconcile us to Himself.  He did this through His death on the cross and His resurrection.  

But is that the end of the story?

While what Jesus did on the cross, did atone, it did not complete the restoration of full union that Adam and Eve had before they fell.  If it had, we would not still be battling the devil, we would not still be falling into sin, we would not still have wars and rumors of wars and hate of our fellow man.  We would not need confession because we would have returned to the state that Adam and Eve were in originally before the fall.  We would have already entered into what the Saints call transforming union.  

God could have just simply returned us to that state of original justice, but He did not.  God judged that there was a better way for us.  It is a way that completely respects our free will and transforms us into people who love like He does.  After all, it isn’t really love if we don’t choose it.  God does not mandate love, he respects the choices we make.  Love is only love if it is freely given and self sacrificing.  So where does that leave us?  Well, Jesus left us a way.  He is the way, the truth and the life.   It is the way of reparation.   Reparation means that we unite our sacrifices to the cross of Christ to repair for our own sins and the sins of others.  While Jesus does forgive us everything in Confession, there is still the consequence of the sin to deal with.  For example, you can confess that you yelled at your spouse and Jesus forgives you, but repair with your spouse needs to be made to heal the residual effect of the sin.  The spiritual consequence of having done it in the first place.  There is work to be done on our part, we have to choose to partake in the redemption.  He does not want to be the only one loving.  He asks for us to become love too.  And God’s love is self-sacrificing. Jesus Christ on the cross shows us how to love like God. To give absolutely everything of ourselves in love and to hold nothing back from God’s will in our lives. His human will was crucified, obedient to the Divine Will.  What this means is he took our previously meager means of atonement, which was mainly animal sacrifice for sin, and offered Himself instead.  This offering is infused with the power and glory of God through the Cross and Resurrection. Since God became man, mankind is now able to participate in a very unique and intimate way in the power of God’s merciful love through self-sacrifice which repairs with Christ. And so, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  And a pathway for us to live in the Divine Will is made.  

This way of reparation could not be made without the gift of the Immaculate Conception.  God gave us a gift in His Mother who was preveniently saved by his Passion, Death and Resurrection.  This means that the grace of His life, passion, death and resurrection was applied to her at her conception, before these things actually happened in time.  He is God after all, He can work outside of time.  And He did so with her, so as to show us the path of how to repair and be transformed into love.

We know too that her “Fiat”, her, “yes” to the Angel Gabriel enabled the Holy Spirit to come upon her and ushered in the Savior of the world.  Her acceptance, no matter the consequence, of the will of God, to trust that God knew what He was doing even though it would put her in danger according to the rules of society, helped to save us, it was a cooperation in redemption.  We see that she is truly full of grace to be able to say this yes, even while knowing evil and suffering in a way Adam and Eve would not have known.  This makes her singular in our faith and it is why we honor her so much.  She is the Mother of Mercy, a human person who knew not how to reject the mercy of God and had the grace of the Holy Spirit always dwelling within her.  One of the titles of Mary is Our Lady of Ransom.  In Jesus, time if someone could not pay a debt they were often thrown in prison until they could repay.  You may ask, how can someone in prison repay?  Well, it was their family who paid the debt to get them out of prison.  The payment was called the Ransom.  We see this story in Matthew 18, the story of the unmerciful servant.  In spiritual terms, we repay when we forgive like God forgives, but this story reminds us too that we can pay, or repair, for our loved ones who are still in the prison of mortal sin.  We can make payment, with Christ, for them, so that they turn towards God’s mercy.  Our Lady and her title of Our Lady of Ransom, in her walk to the Cross, was helping to repay the debt for all of us.  And we see in the relationship of Jesus and Mary how we too can partake in our own redemption. 

The second person of the Blessed Trinity entered into the waters of the pure womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he was birthed into the world, taking on our limited human nature.  This Divine person, came through this grace filled human person to atone for our infinite offense. Her womb, the space where the Divine Person and Human Person meet.  Her immaculate heart, the consolation for His sacred heart.

She had a sword pierce her heart as she walked the Passion of her Son.  And as blood and water poured from His side, our church was birthed.  She is an archetype of the church, and she is the Mother of the Church.  Through the Immaculate Conception and the Cross, resurrection is made available to us and heaven is opened up, atonement is made.  And we are invited of our own free will into this mystery of reparation that brings down God’s mercy upon us.  We have a part to play in our own redemption, as well as in the redemption of the whole world. We must say “yes” to God, we must follow Jesus by taking up our cross and walking our own passion, which strips us of our self-seeking nature, and clothes us with the heavenly cloak of self-sacrificial love of God and neighbor.  This reparation, this healing, it is available in all the Sacraments of the church.  And at every Mass if only we have eyes to see.  

It begins in the waters of baptism, We enter in, as if into the womb of the church, the bride of Christ.  The words are proclaimed, “I baptize you” – this person who baptizes you, represents Christ (hence why we cannot say we, for it is one God in whom we believe) – from whom all saving comes – When the words, “In the name of the Father” are proclaimed our FIAT is made – the yes which conceives Divine Life within us– we are lifted up to heaven.  The next words, “and of the Son” and we are taken down into our sin which is crucified and dies, and finally, “and of the Holy Spirit” and we are reborn into new life.  The infinite offense of original sin is repaired for us.  And the waters of Baptism bring us through Salvation History from the annunciation to the resurrection in one Sacramental act.  It is why Baptism is necessary for Salvation.

The infinite consequence of original sin (and our particular sin up to that point) are atoned for and repaired by God. 

But this is not the end.  This begins the journey of our Christian life.  To think this is the end, and now we are done with our journey would be a mistake.  

We know that we are still affected by concupiscence – our tendency to sin.  So the repair is made and we have full access to the Holy Spirit, but there is something left for us to do.  The Sacramental life is a choosing daily to partake in the life of Christ. The grace of the sacraments help to reorder our desires.  The end goal, the crushing of our concupiscence. 

Mary had no concupiscence.    

She did not just birth Him and leave and become sinful, she went all the way to the Cross with Him because her desires were ordered to goodness.  The Cross crushes concupiscence in order that we be “made perfect as the heavenly father is perfect”. (Matthew 5:48)

It is why we “take up our cross and follow him.”  God does not want to leave us with a disordered desire to sin, and He definitely does not want to leave us in our sin.  So He made for us a way to freely choose life.  

For the Blessed Virgin Mary, this is where the grace of God filled her, and she had total surrender and trust to the path.  The path that led her to stand at the foot of the cross and still trust that God is good and His plan is better.  A path where she helps Him redeem by being a vessel of grace that shows us what we were made for. 

It is not enough that we simply are born again, we must not stay spiritual infants, but we must grow and mature, and be transformed into life giving love ourselves.  Life giving Love wants to repair for what evil and darkness have wrought. This is because true life has no place for evil to dwell. We do not get to choose what is good and evil, that has already been done by God the Father. We do however get to choose whether or not we are going to participate in or promote or excuse evil. We get to choose to overcome evil through our own obedience to Our Heavenly Father, no matter how painful, or scary  that obedience to God may seem to be.

A Christian who stops at baptism and gives in continually to concupiscence and sin, with no thought of following the will of God, is left as a frozen hearted soul.

To paraphrase Martin Luther (Luther werks vol. 26) and yes this is actually the essence of what he stated, although not verbatim, he said we are like a pile of dung that Jesus covers with the purity of snow.  This presupposes that what God made isn’t good.  We become like frozen piles of poo.  If you believe this, then no need for us to repair anything, in fact why bother at all?  But for the Catholic, even if you are filled with the dung of sin, when we repent and accept mercy, God can then crush that dung into compost that becomes fertile soil in which abundant life can grow. To be Catholic is to follow in the footsteps of St John the Beloved Disciple, Mary Magdalene and most importantly our Mother Mary, all the way through the passion to the tomb.

This is why we need confession.  Another sacrament.  This is the one in which we hand our sin to Christ and continue the path to repair.  When we go to confession, we are trying to purge our sin by naming it and nailing it to the cross – Confession crucifies our sin.  It is the real sacramental grace of the Sacrament that will eventually help us overcome those sins. And by doing your penance you acknowledge the temporal damage that was done to your soul because of your sin.  You partake in the repair for the sake of your own soul.  You accept the mercy of God, grace grows and the spirit can make a home inside of your heart, or at least begin to do so.  

There is another error in our world that also hinders us from this path of reparation.  It seems to embrace the wrongheaded thought that suffering is worse than sin.  All the while never realizing that sin begets more and worse suffering.  When we wallow in our sin, in an effort to stop suffering, the joy filled abundant life is never found and we fill only with fleeting worldly pleasures that never truly satisfy.  No amount of money, sex, food, shopping, work, status, or reputation, can ever truly satisfy what only God can fill.  Oftentimes our emotions can get the best of us and what we feel becomes our radar for what is or is not sin. But the Catholic Church in her great Wisdom, has already given us the road map. And through the Authority of Christ, what she binds on earth is bound in heaven and what she looses on earth is loosed in heaven. So we don’t have to guess at or wonder whether or not a particular action is sinful or not. We know because the Church, who is Our Mother, has already instructed us in it. The Saints all knew this and they also knew suffering well.  We do not see them shy away from suffering, in fact, if you read their writings, they praise and thank God for all that comes their way.  They know God is good, despite their suffering because they know if they accept mercy, they grow in charity and the Spirit dwells within and love grows in them which in turn grows through them to their community.  Saint Josephine Bakhita famously said, “”If I was to meet those slave raiders that abducted me and those who tortured me, I’d kneel down to them to kiss their hands, because, if it had not have been for them, I would not have become a Christian and religious woman.”  This is a woman who KNOWS God.   Can we say the same for ourselves? Can we thank God for our suffering, for our trials, both big and small? Or do we rage at the world when suffering comes our way?  All things are held within God’s perfect will, which means all things are an opportunity to glorify God. Our pain and suffering, is a means by which we are able to imitate Christ on the cross, who triumphed over evil through obedience to God and love for humanity. What an honor to be able to love God that much and to truly love our neighbor, even when it is not easy to do so.

Saints seek to grow in virtue to help temper the desire borne of concupiscence.  In the first stages of the Christian life, this is purgative, meaning that they are trying to get rid of and repair for their own sin.   These Saints, they know something else, they know they are weak, and they know they are not their own Savior.  They know as I stated at the beginning, that God’s power is made perfect in their weakness.  This means once they accept the mercy of God, they do not wallow in guilt and shame, they are confident in the one who loves them.  Scrupulosity is a way that Satan tries to steal our confidence in mercy and make us once again rely on ourselves instead of God.  We must always remember who is really in control. We must surrender to God the journey he has placed before us, so that He can be the one that is glorified and we do not end up stealing His glory.

Saints hope to attain the “rejoicing in their suffering” that Saint Paul speaks of.  Because they know that their suffering “makes up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.”  

What is lacking in His sufferings is our free will’s choosing to help him repair for the offenses that have been made and to extend mercy, even to those who don’t deserve it. We can repair for ourselves, but we can also repair for others. If Jesus could extend mercy to the man who nailed His hands to the Cross, is there anyone you should not be able to forgive? They may reject your forgiveness, but you are freed from your chains when you forgive. If we choose to repair with him, the Body would heal much faster. Saint Paul knew true love inside of his heart, where the Holy Spirit dwelt, and in all of his sufferings, he continued to love. His suffering, united to Christ’s helped this man who wrote most of the New Testament, with Christ in him to bring healing to our world through the rise of Christendom.

Think of reparation and extension of mercy like this,  If a child who falls and skins his knee, he is in pain and suffering but his body has the capability to heal that wound on its own. However, if mom comes along, she suffers pain too at seeing her child and because of her love for him, she cleans it, puts some Neosporin on it and bandages it. This will help heal much faster than if the dirt is left inside of it.  His skinned knee is not her fault.  And her attempt is miniscule in comparison to the healing ability of the body itself, but the love with which she does it, and the means she uses to help, do make a difference and she has partaken in repair.  She desires only that her child get better, she is thinking outside of herself and her own ego and wills the good of her child, for his sake.  For us, reparation is not an attempt at physical healing for our neighbor, although it could result in physical healing, but it is a spiritual repairing. Where we or our neighbor has offended God, as a member of the Body of Christ, we are able to pray, sacrifice, fast, and mortify ourselves as an offering of self-sacrificial love, where we die to ourselves in order for the mercy of God to be granted to that person, even though they may have done nothing to deserve God’s mercy. This repairing act of love is a participation in Christ’s crucifixion. We become instruments of the Crucified Christ on earth as he reigns in heaven. So often we want to imitate Christ’s loving acts of kindness, his service to the poor and needy, which are all good, but we are called to so much more, for Jesus tells us that the GREATEST act of love is to lay down ones life for one’s friends.

The Saint starts out in this purgative way, and know the goal is to be purified of all evil.  Evil thoughts, evil words, evil actions.  We can do our purgatory here.  We can offer suffering for others here.  This is the ultimate reparation, because it not only purifies our own soul, but it spreads outward to others, purifying the whole Body of Christ.  It is a work that is done with your will, the action of your mind and body, and a heart that totally relies on the grace of God.  And most importantly it is an act of humility. To self-reflect upon our own sinfulness, instead of always looking outward at others and pointing out their sinful ways, we are humbling ourselves before God, surrendering ourselves to Him, and begging for His mercy upon ourselves before we try to go around correcting our neighbor. This is why Jesus taught us that we must first take the log out of our own eye before we can notice the speck in our neighbors eye. Purging ourselves of our sinful habits does just this.

Imagine what the world would look like if we all were committed to purging ourselves from sin – it would look like the will of God, on earth as it is in heaven.  This is what we pray for.  But this path isn’t easy.  It requires letting go of worldly desires and focusing on what God desires, even when it’s hard, even when it brings suffering.  It means trusting in the power of God in and through our own work of redemption within our own souls and the ripple effect that will have on those around us. If we keep an eternal view we know suffering in this life is temporary compared to the heaven of no more tears.   

For me in my life, it has taken me a long time to understand this.  When I think of my past and all the things I have done, I can see how I fought so much against the plan of God for me.  I thought I knew better.

I used to complain of the rules of the Church as if they were some kind of fun sucking rigidity that was meant to make my life miserable.  I raged at God and at the church, all the while still proclaiming my belief and telling everyone I was Catholic.  

I was double minded.  

I believed I could disregard the commandments and still be a “good person.”  I hated myself because I was stuck in the pride of my sin not realizing that what I needed was the mercy of God.  I have to think that any grace I merited at all, was because of loved ones praying for me.  Don’t ever stop praying for your loved ones.  God can do amazing things with that.  In my case, it wasn’t until a series of humbling events, a deep and severe depression and anxiety, and the murder of my friend, that I began to see that the world wasn’t better because of ME.  These sufferings, though awful, brought me to my knees, where for the first time since I was a small child, I connected in real relationship with the God who loves me in prayer.  I realized, in fact, I was a misery and I understood what the Saints meant when they said things like this, and I knew how far away I was from God.  I still have a long way to go, but I am learning day by day to trust completely in my Savior.  

I remember the first time I really saw that my thoughts, my words, and my actions, wished evil, they spoke evil, and they did evil.  I am still on my journey with God, but the recognition of this is when the reparation finally begins.  And when reparation begins, healing can truly begin.

I was illuminated about this because of prayer.  A real and meaningful conversation with God.  The way of the Christian is the way of prayer in real relationship with a real and living person.  

Two of the first sins God showed me were my use of his name in vain, and that of using birth control.  To be sure, in our society, neither of these things is considered a big deal, but both are evil.  In my pride I had refused to see that. 

I used the name of the God who loves me and wants to bless me as a curse, as a way to damn those who I didn’t like or agree with.  Scripture tells me I will be held accountable for every careless word from my mouth.  Jesus Christ have mercy on me, a sinner. 

When it came to birth control, I had embraced the worldly view that children could be a burden, and the sacrifice which is part of the motherly life, well, I fought against it.  I didn’t understand that my body was a gift and it’s natural processes didn’t need to be broken.  We take what works perfectly and we break it.  I didn’t understand the self sacrificial love that motherhood requires was actually something beautiful.  I didn’t understand until God showed me.  Scripture tells us of children, “happy the man whose quiver is full” (Psalm 127:5).  Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.  

As time moved forward and God peeled back the veil I came to understand that if we truly want to be healed, God asks us to repair with Him.  This reparation means listening to Holy Mother Church and all of her teachings, even the ones that seem hard.  Obedience was the thing Satan couldn’t do.  All of the Saints unanimously practiced obedience to the church and her teachings.  If you struggle with a particular church teaching like I did, it is worth looking into why it is taught.  For the why, is always about our healing and salvation.  It isn’t some arbitrary rule, it is always about abundant life. 

The church also left us the sacraments as a way towards  transforming union, one that brings real peace in the world and not a false peace that leaves our hearts dark.

There’s a beautiful passage in the Gospel of John, Chapter 17:15-22 where Jesus is speaking to the Father on behalf of his disciples and he says;

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us,[f] so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one..

I think we sometimes tend to think of this oneness Jesus speaks of as some kind of ecumenical agree to disagree, all get along, coexistence.  But this passage – Jesus prays for them to be one as the Father and He are one.  That isn’t some sort of worldly coexistence, that is Jesus wants you personally to be one with Him as He is with the Father.  This is a divinization of your soul.  And when you become divinized, true love lives in the world.  This is being taken back to the garden.  The Kingdom of God is at hand, in you. Your every breath is love, your every action is the Passion, the self-sacrificing love.    

How do we get there?  We make, as Our Lady of Fatima requested, reparation.   Our first steps to repair is to actually allow ourselves to be healed of what sin has done to us by partaking regularly in the Sacraments.  We must fully embrace our baptism, give our fiat, to God and seeking to do His will in all things.  We must fully embrace our Confirmation – asking for the gifts of the Spirit to increase in us, for it is these gifts that will bear life-giving fruit for others.

We must go to confession when we sin and confess without justification.  If we justify why we sin, Jesus cannot be our Justification because we are still trying to save ourselves instead of letting him be our Savior.  Once we are in this state of grace, we must receive the Eucharist, asking and knowing that Jesus will purify us.  This bread that we eat can purify our hearts if we allow it.  When we receive Jesus, who is truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist, in a state of grace (which means we have have confessed all of our sins and have no other known sin on our hearts) we are able to be filled up completely with sanctifying grace, which heals, perfects, purifies, and makes holy all that it encounters. Who would not want to receive the Eucharist in a state of grace as often as they could. This is where the real work of holiness is done.

I want to pause here for a minute and state that we are so so far away from real purity.  I used to scoff at the Saints who would proclaim their misery to God and I would think, “seriously Faustina?”  That’s ridiculous, what could you possibly be doing that was so bad.  That is until God started illuminating me on all the ways we are impure and showed me how His Mother was not.

I realized on day how I have a secondary thought that is all about me. For example, I was in the chapel praying alone one day, which is a good, but when someone came in, I thought, “oh, I hope I look reverent.” This thought, though not terrible, shows how self-centered I am. Mary was not like this. The thoughts would have been thoughts of God and of other. We’re far from that type of purity.   

Mary bore zero ill will towards others.  She, like her Son, wants for salvation for souls.  Think about what you would have been like if all of your son’s friends abandoned Him at the cross.  Would you be with them in the upper room praying?  Or would you be angry and raging?  She walks in Mercy. 

This is the Immaculate Conception, it is who she is and how she identified to Saint Bernadette.  She went to the Cross trusting God and forgiving like Jesus did and through His saving and His gift to her as making her Mediatrix of all grace, God wants to grow that Divine life within you, asking you to partake in the repair.  SO that your FIAT can let God crucify the sin in you.  Mary cooperated with the redeeming act of Jesus and we can partake in that too.  We are one Mystical Body and Christ is the head.  

We must be ever more vigilant in these times. We must trust that those sins which we think we cannot stop, that God can give us the grace to stop.  He can lift us higher. We cannot and do not lift ourselves up to holiness. Only God can sanctify us.

Eventually, if you stay on the path, God will draw you closer to him.  Instead of always being angry at others for their sin, you too may start to see their weaknesses the way God does and offer to repair for them.  What mother wouldn’t want to help her son repair damage that has been done?

Holy Mother church helps us do that.

Besides staying on the path of prayer and the Sacraments, any and all suffering that comes your way can be offered for others. In Father Bolster’s talk on mortification he said the acceptance and offering of the suffering that isn’t a suffering you choose, but is a suffering sent your way, is extremely efficacious.  God is the one who knows best how to purify you.  He is trying to teach us how to love unconditionally, the way He does, in the middle of whatever suffering we are in.  He entered the suffering, he didn’t remove it, he purified in the middle of it.  

I want to relay a story about suffering after my dad died.  My mom has dementia.  She and my dad were married almost 59 years before he died.  But right now she doesn’t remember that he did die. But there are days when the remembering comes and I want to relay to you about one such day.  On this particular day,  She asked me if “my Mike” was gone. She called him her “main man” and she realized he was dead, and then came the body shaking sobbing. I climbed into bed with her. I held her as she asks me why I didn’t tell her (which I did), why I didn’t take her to the funeral (which I did). I lay there with her and we cry. It’s all I can do, hold her and cry with her.  All I can do is love my mom in the middle of her suffering.  

As I laid there in bed with her, I felt the Lord whisper, “there’s more grace in this one act of holding your mother than in anything else you have ever done.”

I knew that all the writings I have written, all the classes I have taught, all the retreats I have put on, paled in comparison to the minutes I laid in bed and held my mother. I was not able to fix any of what was happening, I was just in the suffering with her.  This moment in time was an act of reparation. And though I have been known to complain about what I am living right now, in that moment I welcomed the suffering and asked God to let it continue because grace was flowing like a river.  This is the grace and unconditional love that God has in store for us.  

I look at this situation as a Passion, a cross I take up.  It wasn’t controllable, it was just a mess that God was in with us, that I could choose to love through.  And with Jesus, the yoke is easy and the burden is light, it is how I can keep going.  If you really want to know how to love, meditate on the Passion of Christ.  Almost all of the great Saints meditated on the Passion of Jesus, not as a morbid recalling, but as a way to die to self.  As a way of recognizing the great mercy and love that the Father has for us.  

There is a passage in scripture where God tells us, my ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts.  I started praying for God to make my ways his ways, and my thoughts to be his thoughts.  It is amazing how your perspective changes when this happens and how suffering can be viewed as purifying instead of something to be avoided at all costs.  Gratitude becomes a way of life, you rise above enmity, and Thanksgiving is always on your lips.  It is no wonder that the Eucharist means Thanksgiving.  

Finally, as I conclude this talk on reparation, I must acknowledge the elephant in the room.  The church herself, though Holy, has a mess of sinful men and women inside.  Make no mistake, the Priest scandal is an attack on all of us.  For if Satan can make us hate our Priests, he can keep us from the Sacraments.  Keeping us from the Sacraments keeps us from mercy.  Satan wants us to go to our death blaspheming the Holy Spirit.   Pray for and repair for our Priests.  Pray for our Priests to be made holy.  Pray also for yourselves to be made holy.

If you want unity in the church, offer yourself as a holocaust of unity.  That’s what Saint Catherine of Siena did.  There is a reason that in the Apparitions at Fatima Penance and Reparation were the message.  There’s a reason too, that within a few years of that message, Saint Faustina was receiving the one of Divine Mercy.  These two messages are intimately connected.  We must receive mercy to receive the Divine light.  That Divine Light helps us repair for others, especially now with the world spiraling out of control.  

Don’t keep living your life circling the drain of your sins in a perpetual cycle of adolescence.  Pray to God like he is your best friend.  Frequent the Sacraments.  Read Scripture daily. Meditate on the Passion and Pray the Rosary of Our Lady and offer to repair by taking up your crosses and following him. And then trust God to do the work within your own heart that will make your heart beloved.  And always remember the words of Divine Mercy, Jesus I trust in you.  

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Fear, Fighting, Fixing and Failing

 

Saint Catherine of Siena offered herself for the unity of the Church

When I immersed myself in prayer and united myself with all the Masses that were being celebrated all over the world at that time, I implored God, for the sake of all these Holy Masses, to have mercy on the world and especially on poor sinners who were dying at that moment. At the same instant, I received an interior answer from God that a thousand souls had received grace through the prayerful mediation I had offered to God. We do not know the number of souls that is ours to save through our prayers and sacrifices; therefore, let us always pray for sinners. (1783)
–St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

The other day I was speaking to a friend of mine who had in the past struggled with frequent migraines. These migraines could be debilitating, often making her feel sick and perhaps even throwing up. A suffering none of us would want.

She had medication the Doctor gave her, but the medication has it’s own side effects, so she set out trying to prevent ever getting a migraine. Remove alcohol, this food or that, please Lord let this be the thing that stops the migraine. There is often thinking that accompanies the experience of pain, what did I do to cause this to happen?

For the Spiritual person that question can leave you wondering, aside from foods and lifestyle, what sin you committed to cause this to happen. Perhaps curse breaking prayers have been prayed, all to no avail. For some, I imagine, fear of the next onset of migraine can cause despair.

For my friend, she had tried everything she possibly could do to humanly fix it, and she had begged God to fix it for her. She fought as hard as she could against getting the migraine. But all the efforts failed, and she still got them.

Finally one day she realized she was afraid of the migraine. She was afraid of the plans it would change, the pain it would cause, the throwing up, the medication side effects, the sin she may have committed. All of it was fear. And she decided she no longer wanted to fix or fight the migraine because of fear.

So, she decided instead to accept that migraines were her lot. And instead of eliminating so many foods or trying to control getting them, she decided that if God had sent them her way she would accept it and not try to control the prevention of them. She would surrender the pain, she would offer up the pain for someone else and trust God to do what he would with her offering of love. She had tried everything humanly possible to save herself, to control the situation, and when that all failed, she turned to her Savior to save. She decided that in her gift of offering her pain in love, God could do something with it that she couldn’t see. She got outside of herself and her pain, and looked to love. She actually just prayed to desire to do the will of God, so that if she got a migraine she would desire to suffer for other souls and want for their salvation as God does.

And then an amazing thing happened, her frequent migraines stopped being so frequent. While she does still occasionally get one, they are not nearly as frequent as they once were.

It seems that some of the cause may have been spiritual and perhaps Satan left her alone when he saw how efficacious her offerings were for other souls. Perhaps her torment of migraines was an effort to distract her from love, but when she redirected back to love, the tormenter fled.

Now, I don’t type this out to say that everyone will be physically healed of something if they just do what my friend did. Because if you think, oh I will surrender so I will get better and not suffer, then guess what, your focus is still on you and you are still trying to control the outcome. You must understand, she made the offering out of love not knowing or expecting that her migraines would stop. In other words, her pain didn’t measure into the equation, she only wanted what God wanted. The whole message of my friends story is that she took the focus of her pain off of herself and in pure hearted sincerity used it in love for others. Our offering for others is so powerful that the devil flees from us when we do it because he does not want us offering for the salvation of other souls. My friend, she still offers her suffering for others, her sufferings have just changed.

And there is a larger lesson here, this situation does not just apply to physical suffering, but to all situations. When we get outside of ourselves and look to love God and others, amazing things happen.

Many times in life we operate out of fear instead of love. That fear leads us to fight and fix, or try to control a situation. We leave no room for the Holy Spirit to act because we keep interjecting ourselves. And then we wonder why it fails. Miracles happen when love is the focus.

I see this so much, struggle and fear, fighting, fixing and failure. I see it in marriage and relationships with adult children. People who know the truths of God who want to try to fix or control their loved ones who perhaps have fallen away. If they just watch this one Fr. Mike video I send them, or I just tell them one more time about the beauty of the faith, then they will come back. And our efforts seem to build a wall that further pushes them away. The spouse or parent lives in bitterness or resentment against the one whom they are actually trying to love and a cycle of rejecting one another takes hold.

Please understand, I am not saying we should not be telling them the truth, or that we should always be silent, but I am saying to let the Holy Spirit guide you as to when to say something. The judgement should leave and be replaced with love.

There is a spirit of control, of “rightness” that can permeate the faithful. And those in sin hear our “rightness” and dig into their own sin. And then we get angry and try even more to fix and control, or we tailspin into whatever we think it is that we did wrong that may have led them away. All of these responses keep us focused on ourselves instead of looking to the one who saves.

You are right, to believe and follow church teaching, but your effort to fix and control and save, that can be wrong because you are not their Savior. God is the one who saves. You could have, in the past in your own journey, done something wrong that pushed them away, but it is wrong to believe that God cannot repair it and that your mistakes can never be forgiven. Instead of these responses, love like Christ and I have no doubt that they will see the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. They will want it and it will do more to bring them home that any amount of telling them how they need to be fixed, or even apologizing over and over for your past mistakes, can do.

Sometimes all you need to say is, “I am going to Mass.” And say it with no bitterness or animosity towards them. There should be no hint of condemnation from you, like saying the extra phrase, “you should too,” especially since you probably already told them that many times before. Look up towards God and pour life into the situation.

When these are the situations you are in, move away from fear, fighting and fixing, which fails, and move towards love, acceptance of the sufferingnot of their sin, and trust that surrendering it to God can and will help save them because He wants them saved more than you do. Never stop praying or sacrificing for them.

This means accepting the suffering that they are away from the faith, offering your suffering of your worry about their salvation – for their salvation – because you love them, and wait for God to act. I think this is what Faustina was talking about when she wrote about saving souls through our prayers and sacrifices. And I think God can act faster than we can ever can when we try to control and fix.

I know with 100% certainty that when I was steeped in mortal sin, people were praying for me, and their prayers worked. I didn’t know until later that they were praying for me. I also know when people tried to control me I ran in the other direction.

It makes me think that Saint Dismas had a mom who prayed for him and it helped him recognize who Christ was and is. Maybe that was the difference between him and the other thief who also saw Jesus but rejected him. Jesus is always reaching out, but are we uniting with Him in prayer and sacrifice? Are we like Saint Monica was for Augustine? We know Saint Thérèse of Lisieux’s prayers helped a murderer kiss the wounds of Christ before his own execution. We are all connected to one another, and it is a great sadness when a person has no one to pray and sacrifice for them.

If prayer and sacrifice can stop wars, like Our Lady of Fatima stated, think of what it can do for that one soul that you love.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

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The Door is Closing

“but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” John 4:14

I was awakened in the early morning hours of March 9, 2022 with the urge to write down in my journal. As always if the church says what I have written in wrong, the church is correct and I am wrong. Know that as you discern what I write.

March 9, 2022

Beloved Lily of the Father,

Time is short.  Velocity speeds up.  The door is closing.  Pray for mercy.

Justice illuminates.

Let the children come to me.

The 8th day unveils.

Let go of preconceived notions of who I AM.

Cling to my truth and walk in it.

My ways have been taught to you.

What is written on your hearts will be revealed to all.

Mankind will see its misery.

Make Reparation.

Be a light in the darkness.

Be a living sanctuary.

Satan roams freely attacking the mind so as to steal, kill and destroy.

Put on the full armor and BE NOT AFRAID.

She crushes his head.

The moon will turn blood red.

The sky will be black.

Justice will be like fire from the sky.

Prepare your hearts.

I AM perfecting you.

Through the Cross and the Immaculate Conception.

Pray for your Priests.

(redacted) be prepared for GLORY.

BE NOT AFRAID.

John 4:14

– God the Father

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Begin Lent in All Humility

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

I will be posting some thoughts in the next coming days, but I thought I would share with you an excellent talk that took place at my parish by Joan Watson.

Joan lives in our Diocese and I had asked her to come speak on humility at our parish this week. The talk was so good to me I thought that I would share it with all of you.

Addtionally, our Associate Pastor, Father Rhodes Bolster, gave an excellent talk on mortification, which would be great to listen to as you begin your Lenten mortifications.

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The Crushing

Mary Magdalene by Kathleen Carr

Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. Matthew 9:17

The news in the world is starting to look more bleak. As Russia bombs the Ukraine, you may find yourself looking at the storm instead of at Christ. We should continue to pray for this situation and continue to prepare our hearts and our homes.

I wanted to take this time to relay hope to you all. As always what happens in my prayer, is for your discernment. If the church says what I have written in wrong, the church is right and I am wrong.

On Monday, the feast of Saint Peter Damian, I went to Mass. Confession was happening prior to Mass and I pondered going for a repetitive sin that I confess often that I have been struggling with. But the line was long and I knew I wouldn’t make it in prior to Mass starting. In this case, my sin had not risen to the level of being mortal, so I knew my sin would be forgiven at the beginning of Mass. I decided instead to sit and speak with the Lord about it in the pew.

Over the years I have tried many human ways to rid myself of this sin.  I have begged God to help me.

As I sat in the pew I told God I was clueless about how to stop. I told him that I do that which I don’t want to do.  I give in to earthly desire when my heart doesn’t desire it.  At this point I just asked the Lord to crush my concupiscence.  Like totally crush it.  I think previously I have avoided verbs like crush – because the suffering of crushing scares me.  I ask God in prayer to be gentle with me a lot.  I realized in that moment that God can be at once gentle and crushing so I didn’t need to be afraid to ask for concupiscence to be crushed.  He is often a paradox.

I pondered Mary’s purity.  I pondered how in her sinlessness she had no concupiscence.  Her desires were the desires of God.

I realized this is because she is infused with Divine Grace.

Her life was a constant prayer.

I think and have mentioned before that Adam and Eve must have stopped praying. Eve had told the serpent something that wasn’t true, so she must not have been talking to God.

But with Mary, I just see Mary in prayer and this light emanating off of her that demons can’t penetrate.  They just can’t get near her.

I began at this point to beg God to infuse me with Divine Grace because I realized there was nothing I can do to warrant it, except to ask Him for it.  I am too weak.  He tells us to ask.

As I was praying some images came into my head. I want to relay the one that was the most powerful which occurred when I repeatedly begged God to infuse me with Divine Grace.  To please give me the gift, to crush my concupiscence so that I am one with the Trinity.

I realized I am nothing – but God can crush those demons.  He can crush those who curse me. 

Mary herself crushes these demons because she was an open vessel that God poured into.  A woman who prayed without ceasing.  This is why they fear her so much. 

At this point we were at the Consecration at Mass.  I look at Jesus in the host and then I close my eyes. 

Then appeared in my head, the most beautiful woman.  I knew it was Mary.  She had what looked like a navy blue velvet mantle, the underside was red silk.  It was like something royalty would wear.  And it was heavy like she was dressed for winter.  This royal cloak, being wrapped in it, keeps you warm during a cold winter.

Her eyes were like crystal.  She was delicate and feminine, striking.

She put her hand up to her mouth and cupped it around the side of her mouth the way someone who was about to whisper would do.  She said, “let it be done.”

Blue waves of light came out of her as she said it.

The light came directly at me and swept over my heart.  I started to tear up at Mass.

I got an image in my head of an empty wine rack covered in cobwebs, but the cobwebs were blown off by the blue light.  I heard the words “new wine”.  I sensed that each space on that rack would be filled with a bottle, a vessel, representing individual people.  It isn’t immediate, this is a process and this wine rack will be filled with God’s people.  There would be many who would be “new wine”.

While what we are experiencing in the world seems terrifying, the surrender God is looking from you personally, your surrender to God, makes you an open vessel. He will make you into new wine if you let Him and you trust completely.

At this point I had received communion and was back in the pew crying pretty fully now.

After Mass I went to the old chapel and sobbed.  I sobbed and sobbed about the goodness of God and what he is actually doing for us in the middle of this mess and I sobbed because people don’t know.

I had the word “feather” come to me and I remembered I had a feather in my bible.  I opened my bible to find the feather and the feather was on Psalm 34.

Psalm 34

 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant;
    so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him,
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!
O fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no want!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O sons, listen to me,
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life,
    and covets many days, that he may enjoy good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil,
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil, and do good;
    seek peace, and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
    to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked;
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

And this experience just leaves me even more with the feeling to pray for Priests and repair for them.  That is what I walked away with.  Mary is wanting to hearten her Priests and her people through them.  I am in total awe of God. God Bless you all out there!

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