Blessed are the Pure in Heart for they Shall See God

Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama – Photo taken by Shawn Sulak

The past several months have been a whirlwind of suffering, beauty and miracles. The Lord continues to purify. After moving my parents into my home because of my mom’s broken hip, and after recovering from COVID, I was able to go to the Easter Triduum. The Liturgy on Holy Thursday made me weep as the Priest washed the feet of 12 men in our parish. I felt spiritually protected in that moment as I remembered the closing of churches the previous year. I was just so grateful to be there.

At the Easter Vigil 9 people came into the church. Nine people who fought through restrictions and lockdowns just to be able to have the chance to join the church that Jesus left us, in all it’s mess, and to receive Christ in the Eucharist. The whole Easter Triduum just made me so thankful.

On Thursday I went to the old chapel to pray for the first time in a several weeks. I said my devotions and as I knelt to pray, I am ashamed to admit this, but I had the thought, “I wonder how many co-workers come in here and pray?” The Lord sharply rebuked me, “None of your business, and until you stop entertaining thoughts like this your heart will never be pure.”

And like he has before, he showed me the thoughts I entertain. I wept. I do not feel I can sufficiently explain the goodness of God and the darkness of our hearts.

Take captive every thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5

I reviewed all the times a politician made think I wanted to punch them in the face. A person on Facebook made me want to tell them they’re going to hell. A person on twitter made me want to call them a moron. I had deleted these accounts a couple of months ago, so as not to be tempted, but here I was in the chapel still comparing in a moment of pride.

Until you stop entertaining thoughts like this your heart will never be pure.

The place where God is, the place where he wants to take us, it contains no darkness, no snark, no animosity, no despair, no bitterness, no sin. It is a place of nothing but charity and mercy. It is a place of abundant life. There is no knowledge of evil. Heaven contains none. He wants His will on earth as it is in heaven. We live in a society that cannot even look at another person without trying to size up whether they are good enough to be in our tribe. But God says, what I made is good. Sin keeps us turning away. I cannot control whether other people’s hearts become pure, but I can allow God to purify my heart.

The Lord wants for us to want what he wants, that other souls be saved because saving means being surrounded by nothing but unconditional love. How many of us have just longed for that? It’s available, it’s feely offered, Love hung on a cross to die for us.

When we look down upon others in pride, or compare in envy, or just wish ill upon another, we are not loving like God loves. It’s impossible to love like that right?

With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

I looked up at the crucifix and told God I was sorry. I asked him to continue to purify my heart. I recognize that total surrender to the Lord of Lords will bring a Pentecost like we have never seen before.

Saint Philip the Apostle Historic 1871 Chapel

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

I realized that ever since I had shut down my social media accounts I have been happier. The anxiety I experience I am handing more quickly to God. It is almost as if our technological age has created a whirlwind of calumny, ridicule, gossip and hatred. A perfect storm to create a demonic frenzy. I have no doubt God will deal with this. I think many of us will be shocked when he shows us who we are.

I thought of the beautiful Beatitudes and how it is the pure of heart who see God. Like the Blessed Virgin who beheld the gaze of love staring at the Infant Jesus. The pure of heart see the good, want the good for others, and bring the good to the world. May Jesus and Mary teach us to have hearts like theirs so we can be light shining in the darkness.

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. John 3:20

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Inside, Outside – A meditation

Thank you for all who prayed for me. I have completely recovered from COVID19. No one else in my home contracted it. Praise be to God. As I look back on all that has happened, I can only thank God for answering many of my prayers. I would never have picked for myself how He chose to answer them, but that is why He is God and I am not.

I want to wish all of you a Blessed Easter Season. I got to go to the chapel for a long time today, my first time in awhile. I meditated on the greatness of God and the following is what I wrote. I often completely understand why Saint Thomas Aquinas quit writing after His experience of God. Nothing could ever actually put to words the awesomeness of God. Still, I write meagerly, because I cannot contain what I want others to know. God is good all the time.

Inside, Outside

From all eternity love existed.

Love lives outside of himself and so begets creation.

Love provides for creation, and so the Father gives.

The Father wanting His creation to love as He loves gives the freedom to choose it.

Free from coersion and filled with life giving love, the creatures can choose to be like the Father.

But rebellion is chosen, closing in on themselves.

A veil surrounds the creatures the way a pregnant mother’s body surrounds a baby in the womb.

Waiting for love to be born again.

Time held within the Creator until the Son can rebirth true love into the world through the Immaculate vessel of uncreated and created Immaculate Conception.

The Son takes all corruption inside Himself to die, wanting that His creatures would give their corruption to Him to die.

Wanting that His creatures desire only what love desires so true love can be birthed outside again.

Changing the laws of nature and rising from the ashes. Physics beholden to love.

The purging of corruption from the inside, to the gift given freely on the outside.

The creator is the host of perfection wanting mini hosts of perfection in His creation.

All operating at a higher level, a new heaven and a new earth exploding with love and creativity.

An outward expression, for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.

Death of inward corruption begets outward purification that the Spirit may dwell within.

Divinization.

The creatures give outside of themselves and hand our everything to the Creator.

The Divine Will dwells inside, perfection permeates everything.

The Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting.

Have a Blessed and Happy Easter season and do not despair the times we are in, we were made for them.

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The Refining Fire

A rainbow appeared out my window this afternoon

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

This post is mostly an update on what has been happening in my life since I last wrote.

As you know my husband and I were preparing to move my parents in with us. It took weeks of exhausting work, rearranging my own home and moving my parents things. I had many moments of anxiety. I remember praying in Mass one morning feeling overwhelmed. The Lord told me, “I will raise your husband up.” I felt a peace come over me that I would not be alone in this endeavor.

So we moved them in last Monday. It was a very difficult first week. Though we have hired caregivers for the day, we don’t have any in the night and I was being awakened by one or both of them. They are very disabled and need a lot of assistance. I was in tears by the end of the week from sheer exhaustion. Then the one thing I feared happened. I was diagnosed with COVID.

All the “what if’s” spiraled in my head. As I write this I am locked away in my son’s room (he is at college) quarantined from everyone else, praying no one else in the household gets it.

The body aches I had were awful. I cried and cried out to God not understanding why this has happened. Did I do something wrong Lord?

But then I realized, I had prayed for this. Not COVID, I didn’t pray for that, but I prayed to be purified and refined. I had prayed to be stripped of comfort. And boy oh boy was I uncomfortable in every single way, physical, emotional and spiritual. There was nothing left to do except offer up my suffering and thank God for being good.

The readings this week included the story of the fiery furnace. I pulled out my bible. And it was there I found strength from 3 young men from thousands of years ago and I prayed their prayer from my heart.

Then the three, as with one mouth, praised and glorified and blessed God in the furnace, saying:

 “Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers,
    and to be praised and highly exalted for ever;
And blessed is thy glorious, holy name
    and to be highly praised and highly exalted for ever;
 Blessed art thou in the temple of thy holy glory
    and to be extolled and highly glorified for ever.
Blessed art thou, who sittest upon cherubim and lookest upon the deeps,
    and to be praised and highly exalted for ever.
Blessed art thou upon the throne of thy kingdom
    and to be extolled and highly exalted for ever.
Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven
    and to be sung and glorified for ever.

“Bless the Lord, all works of the Lord,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you heavens,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you angels of the Lord,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all waters above the heaven,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all powers,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, sun and moon,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, stars of heaven,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all rain and dew,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all winds,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, fire and heat,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, dews and snows,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

 Bless the Lord, nights and days,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, light and darkness,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, ice and cold,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, frosts and snows,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, lightnings and clouds,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Let the earth bless the Lord;
    let it sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, mountains and hills,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all things that grow on the earth,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you springs,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, seas and rivers,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you whales and all creatures that move in the waters,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all birds of the air,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, all beasts and cattle,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you sons of men,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, O Israel,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you priests of the Lord,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you servants of the Lord,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, spirits and souls of the righteous,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, you who are holy and humble in heart,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.
Bless the Lord, Hanani′ah, Azari′ah, and Mish′ael,
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever;
for he has rescued us from Hades and saved us from the hand of death,
    and delivered us from the midst of the burning fiery furnace;
    from the midst of the fire he has delivered us.

 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his mercy endures for ever.
Bless him, all who worship the Lord, the God of gods,
    sing praise to him and give thanks to him,
    for his mercy endures for ever.” Book of Daniel

The Lord has raised my husband up. As we are all on lockdown he has done everything. Please pray that no one else in the household gets COVID, especially mom and dad. Please pray also that I recover quickly. I don’t know what the future holds, but I will offer the suffering to God and walk forward knowing He is in the middle of this with me.

Mom and Dad together on my back porch

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Radical Trust and the Purification of Suffering

A rainbow halo appears around the sun, hope for a new day

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

I wanted to give an update today on what is happening with my mother. Over the past 18 months my mother has had two strokes and has fallen and broken her hip. She also has dementia. This once power house of a woman is now very frail. My mom has always loved the Lord with her whole heart, but she also has had a measure of self reliance that I believe God is stripping her of before she passes, whenever that may be. She must rely totally on her Savior and his Divine Providence to be cared for. As hard as it is to watch, I see it as purification, which highlights the beauty of God.

This purification is something the Lord is taking me through as well. My mom, in all her independence, basically had two wishes as she entered into this era of the Golden Years of life. The first was to “not be a burden to her children” and stay as independent as possible. The second was that her and my father stay together and not be separated. Dad wasn’t as worried about being a burden, but he definitely wants to stay with my mother until the good Lord takes them home. He referenced the movie, The Notebook, and said he would like to die together with mom holding her hand.

Obviously for mom, being independent has fallen by the wayside. One could view what has happened to her as her becoming a burden. The Lord tells me it is a gift.

Over the past few weeks it has become apparent that the way to honor that second request of my parents staying together is to have them move into my home. When my parents first moved here 4.5 years ago my husband and I offered for them to live with us by building onto the back of our house. Mom didn’t want to. Dad was fine either way. So over the past 4 years, as mom’s health and dad’s health has declined I actually ended up moving them 3 times, each move an effort to see they were cared for to the best of my ability. This will be the 4th move. And it will be into my home, we have come full circle.

I had a moment about a week ago where I didn’t know what to do. It was becoming obvious that mom’s care was so high level she needed more help. The financial situation was becoming strained. I was in tears. My husband just looked at me and said, “they need to come home here.” I was stunned. I didn’t expect that to come from him. I was so grateful. I don’t often talk about my husband here because he is such a private man, but he has grown into such a Godly man. I know this is because of the intercession of the Blessed Mother. When I stopped badgering him to be better and just prayed for him, the way Mary did for Joseph, the Lord and His Mother began a great work on both of us. If only I could always remember that and not badger him, even in the small things.

I paused to pray and the Lord told me that this time period would be short, like a pregnancy. I could treat it as unwanted and grow bitter and resentful which leads to the defilement of dignity, or I could treat it as a gift. If I chose to treat it as a gift I would live to see much joy and glory for my mom and dad. I told the Lord I wanted the gift.

We have had to find space in our home and we knew we had to keep them on the first floor. This meant clearing out our office and dining room to accommodate them. As I began the task old wounds came to the surface. In the middle of the mess of clearing everything out, God was showing me how messy my heart still is. How I have places he wants to heal deeply and purify from the lies of the enemy. And how moving forward I must live in the present moment with Him, allowing Him to clean out my heart.

The office was filled with things I had purchased to try to better educate my children, but failed to follow through with. The demons pummeled me with “you’re a bad mother.” I was faced with all the ways I wanted to raise intellectuals, religious intellectuals, but had let the culture infiltrate my home. My kids won’t go to Princeton, and they don’t have the catechism memorized. They’re not the geniuses I had envisioned back then, nor are they clamoring to join seminary or religious life. I had lacked discipline and follow through. The Lord had me look at it. Hand my shame to him, and told me he had great plans for my children and Princeton was never part of His plan. He told me to let go in a more deep way of the worldly intellectualism and reliance on self so that he could mold my whole family into true virtue, which can be done even without memorization of the catechism. He told me memorization doesn’t equal conversion of heart. He said what the world views as failure he turns to gift, if only I hand my shame to Him. He told me I have no idea the plans He has, and to just trust.

As I disassembled the dining room table, again, the surge of shame came over me. I have never been a good cook. The demons pummeled me, “you’re a failure as a wife, you didn’t teach your family healthy eating.” This has been a deep source of shame. To know what is good for you and feel so overwhelmed at the thought of completing the task of revamping a diet and learning to cook that you don’t even try. If our bodies are a temple, I have made the temple unclean. The Lord told me to hand him my shame. That my body is His temple and He can rebuild it on His timeline. He showed me the resurrection of the body in all it’s glory. His glory. He makes all things new.

As I continued through the house, to all of the places we had to rearrange, I was confronted with wound after wound, some sinful, some just places where judgment of myself was so harsh. And like staring at the serpent on the staff, the Lord brought healing to wound after wound. The Lord told me he was walking me through this because he cannot purify those things which we refuse to look at. He is pulling up the root of the weed that is trying to strangle the wheat. We must stare at the source of our shame, pride, despair, anxiety. If we do not He cannot heal because we have not invited Him in. The confidence in God grows deeper with each wound we hand to Him.

On Thursday morning, as I looked at the empty office and dining room turned sitting room, I had a giant surge of anxiety. I thought “I can’t do this.” I yelled at my husband to help me with my parents who aren’t even in my house yet. He put up his hand as if to say, “whatever is happening in your head, work that out with God and then come talk to me.”

I left and went to Mass. The Lord told me, you can’t do this by yourself, but you can do this because I have sent help. He told me I will be amazed at how he raises up my husband and family to help. He wants to restore the Blessings of the Father. He told me all those years I have prayed for unity in the church, both domestic and universal, that he will show me unity in my own domestic church. He asked me to step into radical trust and to stop my own self reliance.

I know there are many of you who undergoing hard personal storms, ones that are much harder than I am experiencing. The Lord is purifying and asking for trust.

While the world is set in turmoil, the Lord asks me to view it as a hard labor to birth true beauty. I believe he will illuminate our souls as part of our purification. The plan is to make us immaculate. A people with purity of heart. A people who stop judging each other and really love each other. A people who recognize sin and want no part of it. A people in whom the Immaculate Heart can triumph.

I realized as I am writing this piece that today is the day I was baptized, 49 years ago. It is my birthday into the church. This Lenten season, may God continue to purify me and you so that we become living sanctuaries of love. Pray for me as I venture out into the deep with my mom and dad, and I will pray for all of you. May the Lord Bless you and keep you.

Mom and Dad at Their Wedding, October 13, 1962

Mom and Dad just before her fall

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Unto Dust You Shall Return

King Hezekiah in Sackcloth before the Lord

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken;
you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19

The past few weeks have been round after round of personal storms, some of which I have told you about, and others I cannot because they are not for me to tell. Entering into this penitential season, I knew the Lord wanted to draw me into a deeper purification than I could possibly imagine. For those of you undergoing your own personal storms, I write to give you hope and a different perspective of what you are suffering. Because there is one thing I know for sure, that is, God is good, all the time. In that I have no doubt.

As most of you know, my mother has been declining over the past couple of years. COVID isolation escalated her decline. I wanted to take a few moments to talk about my mom. I love my mom, more than she knows. Everything I am about to write comes from a place of deep love for her.

My mother was incredible. I say that in past tense, not as though she is already passed, but to set the stage of the kind of woman she was before all her illness set in. She is still incredible, but in a different way now, and there is a deep beauty in how I see her now.

There was absolutely nothing my mother couldn’t do. She was brilliant and sharp as a tack. Nine times out of 10, in a room full of people, I would know, my mom was the smartest one there. Not in the book sense smart, but in a savvy kind of way. She was beautiful. She was always put together, dressed to the nines (on a very low budget), hair done, make-up on. Our house was always clean. She cooked us dinner, even though she was the Vice-President of a non-profit organization that worked closely with the Reagan White House. She was the woman who had it all. And did it all – well.

Mom age 18

I want to celebrate the fact that my mom accomplished all of these things. But I want to also mention how hard it was to grow up like this too. Please understand that what I am about to speak of is in no way a judgment of my mother, nor does it imply that I do not love her fiercely. My mom was and is my best friend. She is hilarious. She is still hilarious, even in her dementia, she has not lost her sense of humor.

As I grew older with this example of a dynamic woman, I realized I could not reach the same level of achievement as she did. The demons of “you’re not good enough” pummeled me. That coupled with over achieving siblings and the poison arrows of suggestion made it easy to spend life sinfully. It wasn’t her fault, she like all of us, battled her own demons. I think that’s why achieving was so important. It makes you feel worthwhile. But it also sometimes keeps you from knowing truly where your worth comes from. It also can make you think that you can save yourself, and you can save others. Mom was a “fixer”. She wanted to fix what was wrong with me. She wanted to fix my siblings. This is because she so deeply loved us and she was only giving what she knew how to give.

But it wasn’t her job to fix me. There was a time when I was bitter that she wanted to fix me. I loved her but I was mad at her too. I didn’t know how to stop being mad. Mostly because I hadn’t identified what was going on. Mom had a spirit of perfectionism that attacked her. She, and I, we didn’t recognize whose job it was to save. It would only be later that coming to rely on the Savior could bring the freedom from bitterness for me. Like in my last post, I can show you what gift Satan was trying to steal from my mom once I recognized what spirit was attacking.

To be sure, I already knew my mom had this gift of mercy. I saw it growing up. She regularly extended mercy to others that was a sight to behold. She helped relatives and friends who struggled with addiction. She extended herself to those who were isolated and lonely. We had people who suffered all kinds of things come to my home growing up. Mom extended a hand of mercy, words of wisdom and the gift of counsel. She was incredibly kind, a true women of God. Except to one person; herself. She lacked mercy towards herself.

Mom wanted to be her own savior. She didn’t ever ask anyone for help, ever. She tried to do it all. It took a toll. She had countless health issues over the years, of which I have no doubt stress of achievement played a role. I can’t tell you how many times I heard her call herself stupid if something didn’t work out perfectly. What a complete lie that was and is.

As I grew, knowing I could not keep my house as clean, be as skinny, or help run an organization, I struggled in extending mercy towards myself too. I searched for worth in sin after sin. I, like her, could extend mercy to others, but in my head, I didn’t deserve the mercy. God couldn’t possibly love me because I was not good enough.

It wasn’t until I met Jansen Bagwell and he walked me through deliverance that the demons of perfectionism were banished from me. I know the perfection God wants is perfection of virtue, not achievement. I was able to forgive my mom of things I didn’t even know I needed to forgive her for. The healing I experienced was almost inexplicable, except that it isn’t because it comes from God. Our relationship blossomed and caring for her became easier, even if she didn’t want me to help her. Again, understand that this is not a judgment of her, but a deliverance from the chains I was in because of my inability to extend mercy to myself for my own lack of achievement. As I write this, autocorrect has had to correct my spelling of achievement every time. And yet God still loves me.

Fast forward to now, and mom’s health is failing. She has dementia and her once sharp as a tack mind cannot remember what I just said to her. Her body, for the moment, is bedridden. She has to rely on anyone but herself to be cared for.

As I stood in the hospital room feeding her, I had a moment of gratefulness to God. Mom was finally accepting mercy. God is purifying her in this last era of her life. She is completely dependent. Any saving she thought she could do for herself is gone and she must rely on her Savior and His providence to survive. It is a total purification of achievement. No more attachment to things of this world.

My mom loves God deeply. I can see how God is removing everything from her that had kept her from Him alone. And he is doing it while she is still here. Long Suffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Although it is very hard to watch, it is purifying me too. Teaching me to rely on my savior instead of myself. Teaching me to honor my mother in these last years of her life. Mom is partaking in the cross and I believe it is the pathway to her entrance to heaven. As hard as this time has been, as much as we have both cried, I cannot imagine anything better.

I got her ready to Facetime the family. I put her lipstick on, just like she likes, so she could be presentable to the family. She smiled, she likes to look good.

I hope in my writing of this piece mom knows how much I love her. That she knows I think the world of her. That my love of God was taught to me by her and my father. That she knows that I know how much she sacrificed and how much she fiercely loves us. Mom can’t remember what I tell her, but I hope she knows, I love her to infinity and beyond.

We are all going to pass away someday. We are all going to return to the dust from which we came. I feel like mom and I have entered into the Passion this Lent. I hope it eventually leads to her glorification in heaven. I am grateful to God. True mercy and charity are something God achieves in us. Praise be to his glorious name.

Please pray for my mom and for me as she recovers from breaking her hip.

So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

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Moving Beyond Comfort

Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the Christ Child in the Snow

The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness. Pope Benedict XVI

I am a part of a Lenten Ladies group that came together this year to pray and offer support for one another during Lent this year. The agreement among us as we began was that we would be serious about mortification and reparation and that we would really try to work on our root sins. We assessed which were our biggest root sins by using the tools found in Navigating the Interior Life, which breaks down your root sins into three categories of Pride, Vanity, and Sensuality. You will find all seven of the deadly sins can be broken down into these categories.

Our Leader, Ashley Blackburn, showed us how when we recognize the sin we commit most habitually we can identify what gift of ours actually is being stolen by Satan, which is why he tries so hard to hit us in these areas. Satan doesn’t want our gifts being used for God’s Kingdom. We outlined some examples of what this may look like;

To be sure, you have many gifts that Satan may be trying to steal, but this process just helps you to identify some things. Each persons process and gifts will be different because we are all different.

For me, my most of my personal habitual sins fall into the sensuality category. My gifts include prophecy, pastoring and teaching. I have a spirit of anxiety that attacks me. I hate being uncomfortable. I choose comfort to soothe me. I cling to it instead of to God. I have asked God to purge me. Purging hurts. But if we ever want to live in a world of true peace, one which is of God, this purging is necessary. If we want to make it to the glory of heaven, this purging is necessary. This is the path of Sainthood. And we can be purified here or in the afterlife, but all of the Saints tell us that being purged here is better. The longing for God in purgatory is not something we should strive for. We should always strive for heaven in the hopes of purgatory, instead of striving for purgatory, with the possibility of ending up in hell.

If we live our lives seeking the union with the will of God, we may just become a Saint, but the reason we should seek it isn’t because of accolades from others about Saintly glory, but instead because being a Saint is being made into Love. We become another Christ.

We should know that when we pray God will answer our prayer, especially when we pray to be conformed to His will. I have prayed for God to purify me. But I have always deep down wanted a say in how the purification goes. Which isn’t really purifying me, it is just another way of my clinging to comfort. For me, if I pick my mortification to temper my comforts, I am actually really just falling back into comfort. This is not the case for everyone, but for me, it became an earning of purification rather than letting God do the work in me.

So here I was, about to start Lent, working diligently on how I would be purified. I was going to give up sweets, fast more, exercise more. I was going to be made to conform to God’s will by all these things I chose to do.

God had other plans. God decided he was going to purify me in a way that would actually purify me instead of my agenda of how to be purified. And y’all, man does it hurt.

On Monday night of this week my mother fell and broke her hip. We were in the middle of an ice storm and it was an impossibility for me to get to the hospital to be with her, I had to totally surrender the situation to God and trust that she would be cared for.

On Tuesday morning an angel of a neighbor who had a big truck drove me to see my mother. Mom was wheeled to surgery for a hip replacement. My 80 1/2 year old mother has a body that has been battle worn. She cried in pain throughout the day. She has dementia so she was confused as well. She spoke of her dead friends and relatives being in the room with us. She saw the Blessed Virgin out the window (it was a chimney of some sort – but I liked what she was seeing better). I was racked with anxiety that she may die. A second wave of snow and ice came down, I had no car, I decided to settle in the chair the hospital had to sleep in my mask that was required for Coronavirus precautions. I was just grateful they let me in. In no time at all it became apparent that the chair would not stay reclined and I would be catapulted to an upright position if I chose to sleep in this chair. I spent Tuesday night, heading into Ash Wednesday sleeping on the floor of the hospital.

My accommodations leading into Ash Wednesday

Obviously sleep escaped me. I felt jealous of Saint Joseph who so trusted God amid his bewildering circumstances that he was able to sleep.

I should note the blessings that came along the way. There was the surgeon who prayed over my mom for God to guide his hands. There were the nurses who took care of my mom as if she were their own mother. There was the palliative care doctor who told me that God is the author of all life and he is the one who decides when people get to go home. This is just one of the many reasons I love living in the south. That as filled with sin as we all are, people still believe.

As Ash Wednesday progressed, mom spiked a fever. She seemed more confused and lost, and at points wasn’t able to speak or be woken up. For my Ash Wednesday fast of two small meals and one regular meal, I had a brownie for dinner. It was all that was available and I just didn’t think I could cope if I gave up that sweet and ate nothing. I didn’t go to an Ash Wednesday Service, I didn’t watch one online. I did read the Gospel of John to my mother because she had managed to ask me to at one point. May God’s power be made perfect in my weakness.

In the past I would have let the demons of “you’re not good enough to even make the first day of Lent in your mortification and you didn’t attend services,” pummel me. But in my exhaustion I just relied on God and asked him to understand. I know he does.

By Wednesday night we knew mom had an infection and antibiotics were started and she began to improve. On Thursday morning, secure in the fact that she was okay, my husband dug our car out and came and got me.

I was very excited to sleep in my own bed. But when I got home, one of my children had major issues I won’t go into here. I ended up sleeping nearer to them because of the situation.

The demons pummeled me with “what if’s”. I kept being dragged into the past, “what if you had been a better mother? What if you had been a better daughter?” And into the future, “what if your mom dies, what if your child fails?” And sleep escaped from me. I longed for my own bed.

I realized that God was allowing all of this. In fact, when I asked to be purified, God was rejoicing. It means I want to be in union with his will. But it hurts deeply.

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. Colossians 1:24

As I navigate the next few weeks, I pray for the grace to live in the present moment with God. I ask Him to sit in the middle of the mess I am in. I surrender my parents and my children to Him, for I am not their Savior. I take one breath at a time and one step at a time. I cry a lot. And I can not worry what others think about me. I have only to cling to God. I fully experience these Lenten mortifications that have been sent my way. I am sobbing through them, sometimes unable to catch my breath. But I mean it sincerely when I say, I am grateful for them. I am grateful for a God who took on this lowly flesh and experienced all of this with us. He didn’t have to, but in doing so he opened up heaven for us, if we only let him take us there.

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The Holy Father Has Much to Suffer

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:16-18

I write in my journal what pops in my head as if God were speaking to me. If the church were to say what I have written is wrong, then the church is correct and I am wrong. Know that as you discern what I am about to say and show from my journal.

This was written after long reflection on Saint Joseph during this, the year of Saint Joseph. The sleeping Saint Joseph has given me much comfort. A man who can sleep during anxiety inducing situations is a man who trusts God. From the sleep of Saint Joseph and through the intercession of Mary, the Holy Family was formed.

While it may feel as though Jesus himself is sleeping as our ship is being tossed in the waves, God has a larger divine plan for how we should love and live. He has given us a family to light the way.

Here is what I wrote in my journal on February 15, 2021 as I pondered all that is happening.

Beloved Lily of the Father,
She is the Immaculate Conception. Undoing the sin of Eva, instead of taking, she gave. She emptied herself. Ave.
United with us through the uncreated Immaculate Conception.
Through her the Blessing of the Father was restored.
Divine Life was able to walk in union again with mankind.
The protector of Divine Life was restored in Saint Joseph.
He is the Holy Father.
The sorrow of Saint Joseph cries out.
The Holy Father has much to suffer.
His yes restored the protection of Divine Life and at his yes he too became Immaculate.
The Family restored.
Divine Life birthed anew into the Fallen world to save you from your sins.
This Holy Fatherhood cries out for the unprotected.
He cried out for the innocent blood shed by Herod’s envy.

He cries out for the bride, the church.
He cries out for the blood of aborted children that scream for protection as the ground opens it’s mouth to receive this innocent blood.
The Assumption of the Immaculata offers a womb of mercy to baptize the innocent.

The Assumption of Saint Joseph protects the universal church from heaven.
The Protection of the Holy Father granted to each Priest so that they too can be a Holy Father, grafted into the Holy Family through her Immaculate Conception and the Cross.
The Priesthood of Protection flows from the Holy Family to the flock whom they serve.
The Holy Father has much to suffer.
Each Holy Father must consecrate his flock to her Immaculate Heart and to His Guardian Heart so that all rest in the Sacred Heart. The land is healed. All of creation becomes a Temple of the Holy Spirit within the Sacred Heart with the Blessing of the Father.
Those consecrated will rest in the Mercy of I AM.
Dominion restored.

1000 may fall at your right side, but you will be under my protection.
The insecurity and instability with frighten you, but I tell you Be Not Afraid, you have found favor with God. You are being purified and recreated. Take up your cross and become Immaculate in my mercy. My power will be made perfect in your weakness and you will see the strength of the Mystical Body and know in awe who is the head of the Body.
Trust fully and let go of what you cannot control.
Luke 4:23
– The Most Holy Trinity

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On Human Fraternity

Crucified Christ at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? 

2 Corinthians 6:14-16

The other day in prayer, I got a very heavy feeling and a very clear image. The image was of a pathway that was in the shape of the cross. All around the crossing point of the vertical and horizontal were roses. But there was a sense to me – the more you followed the path of the vertical, the more the roses grew outward from the cross, on both pathways. But if you turned from the vertical to follow the horizontal, the roses faded and the path became dark. I thought of when we try to be good simply as humans, on the horizontal of the cross, and we leave God out or we twist who he is so the vertical and horizontal glory cannot be achieved.

It is the story of time immemorial, we try on our own to fix what only God can fix within us.

I came across this article the other day. The article is about how on the Arabian Peninsula there are plans to build a mosque, a synagogue, and a church, all in a triangle together, as if to create a trinity of religions. The article points out that some have criticized this as syncretism. Those critics are correct. While I do not doubt the good intentions of the people planning this, this is simply idolatry of people over God, which is what syncretism is. In an effort not to offend people we mix our beliefs together and care not about offending God. It seeks to create a peaceful coexistence between contradicting religions. While peace is a laudable goal, if you ever read the Bible when men try create what God wants to gift freely, you know how this always works out. War.

I don’t mean this post as judgment upon any soul. It is for God alone to judge intentions. We should always reach out to others in love. Love converts souls. But this isn’t love. Creating a space like this leaves the people confused. Is there really different truth for different people? The video at the bottom of the article leaves me feeling all the disordered chaos wrapped up in a sterilized package of lawlessness. I ask myself, is anyone in charge of this place? The answer appears to be, “you do you”, everyone is in charge. When everyone is in charge, no one is in charge. And the one through whom all authority comes gets left behind. It is a giant recipe for disaster, with good intention. The path of the road to hell.

Jesus tells us there is one truth. He is the way, the truth and the life. And they killed him for it. Are we now killing him too by killing his bride, the church? As if his sacrifice on the cross was all for naught? Making a mock trinity. We all know God will not be mocked.

We human beings spend so much time trying to create what isn’t ours to create. Jesus did not come for us to “peacefully coexist” in this worldly fashion. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly, by having Him dwell within us. This is something that comes from the Sacramental Life. It never needs to be forced, but lived so that people see you look different. It looks like Saint Francis, who did engage with the Sultan, but he did not shy away from preaching the Gospel truth. If we want true human fraternity we need true worship in our own hearts and in Mass of the One True God, who sent His Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, in the Incarnation to die for us so we might know Love.

“The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love; It signifies Love, It produces love. The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.”
–Saint Thomas Aquinas

While we should absolutely love all people, we should not partake in syncretism. While Abraham is the father of these three religions, only one fulfills the covenant, only one culminates in truth with the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. The idolatry I see here is worship of man. Taking the horizontal path that will end up leaving the vertical behind. And we will be left in ruins.

We have already reaped havoc from this idolatry. From the time Pachamama earth bowl was on the altar at Saint Peter’s to the time Mass began to shut down because of a virus was 135 days. I see Fatima in that number, the 13th day of the 5th month.

Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

When the church allows idolatry, the flock is scattered. I wonder how long until the next wave of chastisement comes upon us as a result of our latest idolatry of self. Perhaps another round of sex scandal. Perhaps another plague. Perhaps war. It isn’t God who is doing this, we have done it to ourselves. We can choose to leave God in the face of these sufferings, or we can choose to walk this Passion with steadfast faith and love of Christ in our hearts. If we stay, resurrection is on the other side.

Whatever the case we should pray without ceasing and we should take refuge in the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Pray for those who persecute us. Hold on tight, the labor pains will be getting harder.

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Corruption, Purification and What is Coming Upon the World

Photo by Bridget Touhey

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

God has been showing me what I can only call corruption and how it is everywhere.  We really have so little idea of how much sin and corruption is everywhere, even within our own hearts. From what we buy, to what we wear, to what we eat and drink, corruption is apparent. I came to understand that I can’t escape it short of living in a cave like a desert monk – but even then the land is corrupted – so it would still be there.  But God isn’t asking me to try to escape it on my own either. For the devil would like to use the understanding of corruption that God has shown as a tool to isolate and judge people, but God doesn’t want that. God just tells me he will purify everything and not to be afraid, to just trust Him.  The ways in which I am personally corrupt that I do not yet see, he will root out, and for me not to worry.  His power is made perfect in my weakness and He will work all of it for good of those who love him. I am about to tell you of an example of corruption that at one time in my life I thought was a good. A good of evangelization, that in reality was a corruption.

I went to a Latin Mass on January 22, 2021 to pray for the unborn and for our country.    During the homily the Priest said that we are entering very dark times, but God is pouring out grace and that all the people who are rejecting the grace means that those of us who are open to it may get overwhelmed by it.  I felt the Lord say “I am pouring it over you.”  This grace is there for those of us open enough to receive it. This grace is sanctifying.

At the consecration I had the thought that I wanted to take a picture because it was so beautiful and I like to share this beauty with all of you. A glimpse of the beauty of heaven on earth in the Mass.  But God rebuked me and said, “don’t bring your corruption into what I am doing here.”  Then he showed me all the times I took a picture at Mass and how that interrupted the union of myself with Him.  I was so super ashamed.  I started to cry.  A picture, he said, is a mere mimicry of the glory of what is happening there on the altar and instead of being immersed in it, I was actually interrupting the beauty with my own agenda. Which in turn, makes it about us, instead of about Him, who is love. The shame I had, I can’t explain.  I was just so so sorry.  I felt and feel so completely unworthy.  It was then He let me know that I am not worthy to enter under his roof, but at His Word, I am healed. Having no other recourse, I abandoned myself to His mercy.

Even writing this small story down I am overwhelmed.  While I believe there will be an illumination of conscience, I don’t believe the vast majority of us are prepared for what we will see. And whether or not this event takes place in the near future, or just at our own particular judgment, we will be greatly humbled. But this moment at Mass was also more than that.

I sat down after communion and He just said, “I am preparing you for what is coming.” And I knew that what is coming on the world will be like nothing we have ever seen. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, except that it involves purifying fire.

The Lord just said there are so few that trust Him. That what He wants for us more than anything is our salvation, and we may not understand His ways, but if we can view what is coming in His larger plan, we will be purified and glorified. TRUST.

He wants His faithful to go into the refuge of their hearts and prepare. The preparation is one of individual purging of sin in cooperation with Him, so as to abandon yourself to His will. It is a letting go of control. This abandonment to His will involves adoring the Holy Face of Jesus and bringing His Mother into your home. Mark your homes and your hearts with the Sacred and Immaculate Heart so that the darkness may Passover your home and the Lord can bring you to true peace and joy.

Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” Revelation 7:2-4

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Mediatrix of All Graces and Co-Redemptrix

And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Luke 1:28

Mary is in perfect relationship with the Holy Trinity. She wants to guide us there too.

Mary, who was conceived without sin, knew that she was a loved daughter of God the Father.  She knew this because she prayed and had a relationship with Him as we see in her Magnificat. This knowledge and relationship combined with her Immaculate purity meant she was confident and trusting in God the Father.  She was truly Full of Grace, just as Eve had once been in the garden. Eve, desiring to be like God, fell from grace by handing the domain of grace that God gave her to Satan, who turned God’s grace to death and destruction. She ate the fruit of self will by falling prey to temptation.  Mary, in contrast, never desired to be like God.  Instead she emptied herself. And despite the fact that Mary saw suffering and evil,  Mary did not view the Lord as someone who would harm her.  Mary ate the fruit of God’s will being fed only from the Tree of Life.   Because of this disposition Mary could receive everything God wanted to give to her.  Mary was an open vessel, unashamed before the Lord.   In Mary’s case this meant she would personally carry the Word made flesh.  Mary is the perfection of daughterhood. 

Because Mary was an open vessel for the Lord this means that when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her she could give her full consent to being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.  Tradition teaches us that this relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit was spousal as she is often referred to as the spouse of the Holy Spirit.  Saint Maximilian Kolbe takes this even further.  He referred to Mary as the created Immaculate Conception and to the Holy Spirit as the uncreated Immaculate Conception.  Thus when she tells Saint Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception”.  This isn’t just spousal relationship, it is who she is. (Manteau-Bonamy, Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit).  The depth of what this means is a mystery too large for our understanding.  But it is through this teaching that we get a glimpse of God’s plan and how Mary, because of the salvific work of God before her conception and her yes to unity with the Holy Spirit, she becomes the mediatrix of all graces.  This teaching lets us know that the person who embraces Mary is led by her to this unity with the Holy Spirit.  

Mary because of her unity with the Holy Spirit conceives the Son, thus becoming the Mother of God and ushering in the Savior of mankind. This Motherhood of God is co-redemptrix in nature because it is through this Motherhood that God saves us by being born and dying on the Cross.  She brings the birth of true love into the world.  From the Incarnation to the Cross Mary made gift of herself to the Son, who in turn extends His loving gaze upon her.  Her soul magnifies the Lord.    Even in her sorrow, she gives to God what belongs to God.  This is an unconditional love and is the culmination of union with the Trinity.

We see the action of co-redemptrix and mediatrix of graces at work when we take a look at the relationship she has with those around her who were closest to her.  It is important to note that everything she merits is done through the salvific work of her Son whose grace was applied to her preveniently.   Where Eve chose to fall from grace by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Mary gifted with grace eats from the Tree of Life.  Those who surround her benefit from this grace which flows through her and they receive redemption from the Son.  Saint Joseph, who originally wants to dismiss her quietly, changes his mind, no doubt through her prayer and of course a visit from the angel. From this angelic encounter we see Joseph abandon himself to the will of God. He takes Mary into home.  This act of taking her into his home, is a restoration of full dominion God had planned for Adam in the Garden.  But God gifts this to Joseph who by taking Mary into his home is able to adore the Christ child with loving gaze, thus magnifying the Lord himself. His decision to say yes and take Mary into his home unites Joseph to Mary and thus into the relationship Mary has with the Trinity. This is the restoration of the blessings of the Father onto the family.

Likewise, we see Saint John take Mary into his home at the foot of the Cross.  When meditating more deeply on John’s presence at the foot of the cross, we can gain an understanding of how the ministerial priesthood is united to the family of believers. When Jesus turns to John and says, “Woman, behold your son, and to the disciple, Here is your mother,” (John 19:26) John takes Mary into his home.  Having walked the Passion with the Immaculata and her Son, John has abandoned his will to God the Father and taken the Immaculate Conception into his home.   From the very wounds of the Tree of Life, John becomes united to Mary, which is to say he is united to the Trinity through the Cross and the Immaculate Conception. Here too we see dominion restored. This is the model for the Priesthood.

And so to the Priest takes Mary into his home and takes up his cross becomes ever united with the Trinity and brings us the Eucharistic Lord to consume, uniting us with the lay faithful with the Tree of Life. To Jesus through Mary we enter into right relationship with the Most Holy Trinity.

For these turbulent times we live in, may we all take Mary into our home and receive the Eucharist with total abandonment to God’s will.

Our Lady, Healer of Families, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, Anchor of Families, pray for us.

Saint John, Beloved Disciple, pray for us.

Divine Child Jesus, save us.

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