The Loving Gaze

Mary looking at Jesus

 

 My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed…Luke 1:46-48

** Please see notation at the bottom of this article

By: Susan Skinner and Ashley Blackburn

 I (Susan) had a dream recently.  It was a very vivid but simple dream.  In the dream I was standing there staring at Mary who was holding the infant Jesus.  Her loving gaze was one of total adoration as she and the infant Jesus locked eyes with one another.  It was so beautiful it made me cry. And she looked up at me, with the same intense love, locking eyes with me, and she said, “All is well.” And in that moment, in my dream, all of my fears, worries, melted away, and I truly knew all was well.  She went back to gazing on her Son. I called my friend Ashley to tell her of the dream. She too had recently had a profound moment in the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament regarding this loving gaze between Mary and Jesus.

 Ashley and I reflected further on this gaze. 

Mary adored God even before the Angel Gabriel told her she was chosen to carry Him.  It enabled her to say yes to God when He asked her to carry Jesus; and it is in her Magnificat we see the fruit of her adoration; her soul MAGNIFIES the Lord.  She becomes a magnification of the love of God.  And it is in the Nativity that we, the faithful, can physically see this adoration, this loving gaze of Mary and her Son.  The face of God looking at the Face of the Immaculate, placing Himself in humility in her arms. And in her own humility she gazes in adoration at the gift that God has so graciously granted Her – the gift of Himself.  The exchange of love can be seen by us when we look at the Most Holy Mother locking eyes with the Savior.

Mary continued to adore Him all the days of her life and when he is placed in her arms after being taken from the Cross, she is still adoring. 

mary holding jesus at death

She adores Him one more time in a fully human way at His death. Mary was later Assumed by God both body and soul into heaven. 

Jesus Ascended body and soul into heaven.  In heaven she still adores Him with all of her human faculties, just as she did on earth.  A perfection of what God wants for all of us.  

Mary was the one person found totally faithful, always in loving gaze, with all of her being, body and soul.  And Jesus saves the entire world through her cooperation. Because of her faith, He was able to save us all. She is the Mediatrix of all Graces because through her merit of faithfulness God was able to do what He needed to do to save all of us.  

She is Co-Redemptrix, not because she wanted a title, but because, by relying on her Son always in loving gaze, He lifted her up and made her Queen of Heaven and the Earth. 

For the mighty God has done great things for me. Luke 1:49

She is not in anyway equal to him, but rather, Mary in her humility, is an active participant in redemption because she trusts fully in God and gave her body through which the redeemer came.  She undoes Eve’s disobedience participating in a unique way in redemption.  

God wants to lift all of us up. It is from Him that this was possible in her, and it is from Him that he wants to lift us out of sin and into this loving gaze.  

We are all called to this adoration of Jesus; this loving gaze.  When the host is lifted up at Mass or when we go to adoration – this is the exchange of our gaze with the gaze of our savior in body and soul.  When we consume Him – our souls MAGNIFY the Lord – or at least they should. It is why we should not receive in a state of mortal sin, because it is in the purity that we magnify him.  If we receive in mortal sin we drink the judgement of impurity. Confession restores us to a place where we can partake in the magnification of God.   

At times when we are not in the full presence of the Lord in the Eucharist we can adore, soul to soul through prayer, but it is in the adoration of Our Lord in the Eucharist that grace overflows because it emulates the relationship of Jesus and Mary with all of our faculties, both body and soul – our entire beings.  It places us beside Our Lady and we adore with her. It is why we believe in the resurrection of the Body because this adoration is meant for the totality of who we are in the image of God both body and soul.

This adoration, this gaze of love comes to live inside of us and we take it into the world.  I recently heard a friend tell a story about how at Thanksgiving he and his family bring food and go eat with the homeless under a bridge in their city.  One of the homeless men commented that while he always appreciated the food others brought, that my friend’s family was different and he appreciated it more.  When my friend asked why, the homeless man responded, “because you eat with us.” This is the loving gaze. It is not a gaze of simply service, but one of looking upon the face of another and seeing God.  My how our world needs this.

Mary does not seek titles for herself, but in His Divine Providence, our Lord bestows them upon her.  He does this for US – His Mystical Body. This loving gaze of Eucharistic adoration is something in which we are all supposed to participate.  It lifts us out of sin and into the Sacred Heart.  This Sacred Heart – this place of God’s WILL is where you find the Immaculate Heart – in order that we may all see it. 

The Immaculate Heart will triumph when we understand that through this gaze of love, we the Mystical Body can be lifted out of sin, and back into union with the Will of God.  And the Bride of Christ purified operates as it should.  

So it is that all of mankind is saved BY Jesus THROUGH the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Mary’s immaculate gaze upon the God of the universe, held in her arms in the stable in Bethlehem on Christmas night, is the moment that God looked upon the earth through the eyes of a human being and he found the one innocent soul, in which HE saves the world.

 

** The titles of Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces are not Dogma of the Church, though many Saints and theologians have stated these are titles of Mary.  It is my belief that they are her titles and that her Immaculate Heart will triumph when the church recognizes this for the lifting up of the Mystical Body. All of that said, I am a daughter of the church and will remain obedient to whatever the church decides in regards to declaring them titles belonging to Mary and if it never declares her such, then I stand corrected.  

 

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Fear, Faith, Trust, Surrender and Prayer

 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

Hebrews 11:1

This summer I had a situation that made me feel overcome with fear.  It was just a routine medical procedure, but the procedure was a screening for cancer.  It was a screening the kind of cancer my mom actually suffered from.  I panicked at the procedure y’all.  I was afraid.  I was afraid that it would come back and tell me I had cancer.  I fought the fear but it escalated.  Being that I pray everyday, I was mad at myself for the fear.  I berated myself for being afraid.  When the procedure was over, and the screening came back totally clear, I felt guilty and ashamed that I had been afraid and that I had panicked, and I spent time wallowing in my lack of faith in God.   And then God spoke to me.

Why are you so ashamed Susan? Because Lord, I was afraid.  I should not be afraid.  I should never be afraid because I know you love me.  The Lord said, Susan, what makes you think you should not feel fear?  I responded, “you said perfect love casts out all fear.  I want to be like you.”  He responded, “read the verse again.”

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

I said, yeah Lord, I read it, AND?  He said, Susan, what is fear?  I answered, an emotion.  The Lord said, who gave you human emotion?  I answered, you did.  He said, is what I gave you bad?  And then he showed me something.  He showed me His own mother looking for Him when he was gone for 3 days as a boy;

When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.”  Luke 2:48

He also showed me Himself in the garden;

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Matthew 26:39

And I realized that both Jesus and Mary had felt fear.  A human emotion that is a response to a real or perceived danger and is a natural thing.  Being that they did not sin, and Jesus is perfect love – there is something he was trying to show me.  He was trying to show me that fear is okay to feel, it is what we do with the emotion that can cause our issues.  He wants us to turn to Him about the fear instead of fighting it on our own and trying to save ourselves from it.  When we try to save ourselves from it without turning it all over to him the demons can have a field day tormenting us with it.  I spent so much time berating myself for being afraid that the fear actually rose to the level of panic.  Instead of acknowledging the fear and handing it to God who is the only one who can save me.

But there was something even more he was trying to teach me.  He was trying to teach me about the difference between faith and trust.  And this difference is very important because it is our trust that He needs so very much in these times.  It is why he told a Mystic Saint to have a devotion painted with the words, Jesus I trust in you.  It is this TRUST, this TOTAL SURRENDER, that forms us in perfect love.  A person formed in perfect love does not fear punishment of any kind. – See that-perfect love does not fear punishment. And this is where trust in the Father and the Son that the Spirit will work in you comes into view.

People often use the terms faith and trust interchangeably, but they are actually not the same thing.  The catechism tells us of faith;

By his Revelation, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company.” The adequate response to this invitation is faith. ccc 142

This lets us know that faith is a gift from God.  It is a grace because it is HIS INVITATION and our response to it.  Faith is believing in something we cannot see at the prompting of the God who loves us.

But trust, trust is something formed from tangible experience.  It is only through a life a prayer that we actually can tangibly experience the one who we cannot see – through the grace poured upon us when we pray.  When we are a child we trust everyone until experience tells us not to.  It is why Christ wants us to be like little children;

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

This is because little children still have trust, the world has not yet tangibly wounded them.  Unlike faith, which is believing in the unseen thing and is a gift of God, trust is actually what happens when we make the decision to engage the gift of faith we have been given.  It is through this prayer life that we can trust because our Spiritual gifts increase and we can see what is happening spiritually even as the physical world tells us something different.  It is why someone can actually have faith in God but still act in a way that seems like they don’t have faith – because they are not talking to Him.  They can cling to God, while still questioning everything that happens without taking their questions to Him.  Trust, or rather distrust is borne out of wounds often perceived to be from God Himself.  But when we trust by actively engaging in our relationship with God, our faith, by the grace of God, grows and bears much fruit.

And it is again, why prayer is SO IMPORTANT.  A person can have faith, but if they are not talking to God daily they can be blinded to the spiritual world and where their wounds are actually coming from.  They won’t understand the chains of sin.  They won’t see that it is the devil who tries to steal, kill and destroy.  They will think that God has done this and their faith can be damaged.  They can often conclude that God must not love them because suffering has come their way.  They will seek to be healed but actually shy away from knowing the healer because of fear that He willed their suffering.  Often times they experience physical suffering, but it is their soul where healing is needed the most.  And they hide their soul from God because experience seems to tell them they don’t deserve His love.  They miss out on the healing of their soul hiding from the God who loves them.  At its worst, without prayer, faith can be lost because someone can conclude God doesn’t even exist because they cannot reconcile a God, who is supposed to be love, with the suffering they see around them.  They are blind to who the enemy actually is.

Contrast this with the person who takes everything they have into the relational conversation with God.  The person in relationship with God KNOWS God loves them.  They not only have faith but it is developed when they choose to engage in daily prayer and conversation with God.  They TRUST that He wills their good because they experience Him through the grace God gifts and increases in prayer.  But it is always a journey for the human soul to get to this point of surrender – it is the path to the unitive way that the church fathers spoke of.  A path to union with the WILL of God is a path of faith AND total surrender and trust in His will.  Our understanding of good is often formed by the world, but God’s good is growth in virtue because virtue helps purify you to form perfect love and the path of prayer is the place where God walks you to this understanding.

When we really realize GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME  in our soul we give up total control and hand all of it to God.  Many of our Saints died at young ages from physical ailments, but no one would ever accuse them of being sick because of not having faith.  On the contrary, their faith  is edifying to all of us because they grasped something beyond what most of us do.  And this is where Saint Faustina stands out as the example.  Throughout her diary she took all of her fears straight to God.  She knew that God willed her good, so much so that she was obedient to all he told her despite every obstacle she encountered.  Faustina knew that the goodness of God did not consist of her physical wellbeing, but instead in the growth of her virtue, and she TRUSTED that this was better because God assured her that it was;

My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. All temptations united together ought not disturb your interior peace, not even momentarily. Sensitiveness and discouragement are the fruits of self-love. Have confidence, My child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy. (Diary, 1488)

Everything in the economy of Salvation is a movement towards union with the will of God; like it was before the fall.  But mankind seems no where near this kind of union.  We turn away from God all the time.  Nations rise up against him.  The faithful feel out of control.  The church appears to be crumbling.  But the answer lies in the words Jesus told this Mystic Saint from Glogoweic, Poland.  Jesus, I trust in you.  Or as he once told me in prayer using both the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy, Jesus I trust that you love me.

You see this kind of surrender teaches us that this world is of no consequence when in comes to our eternal salvation.  It is why a Saint can be dying at the age of 33 and still say, Jesus I trust in you.  I believe in my heart that God did not will Faustina to suffer, or any of us to suffer, but because of the fall of man, it is a consequence we all have to deal with.  Those who understand God’s perfection accept this and they don’t fight it.  And this acceptance allows God to do amazing and miraculous things.  It perfects us.  Faustina was able not to despair in her illness because she rested securely in God’s love for her.   She knew God alone was far more satisfying than even healing and she was willing to offer herself for others because of it. This kind of confidence in God can make one Saint offer themselves and their sickness to God, one Saint offer their life for another like Maximilian Kolbe and make one Saint into a great and miraculous healer like Padre Pio.  Each taking part in different ways in the Mystical Body of Christ.  

He sent His only Son to deal with the fall by sending Him to the cross.  And the Saints, having an understanding of the Mystical Body and the Economy of Salvation knew that their suffering united to Christ’s would be used by God to purify us all, and bring us closer to that union with His will that we lost from the beginning.  Faustina’s death didn’t just perfect her in love, it moved the rest of us closer to that perfection as well.  When we trust God wants our goodness, and we have faith in things like the Resurrection of the Body, then our earthly body can become of no consequence and we can hand it all over to him.

It was by faith that Abraham was saved.  He responded to God’s invitation by making the choice to pray which made him experience and trust in God with the gift of faith he had been given.  And his faith coupled with his trust made him the Father of Nations.

We are headed into perilous times.  My friend Lucy Patier believes (for your discernment) there will be events that take place in 2020 that will test us all.  She says the Spirit of God tells her 20/20 is a sign of God’s perfect vision.  A time when we will be able to see ourselves perfectly, as God sees.  This is why the message of total surrender is so needed right now.  Have faith, and make a decision to pray so God can grace you and you can surrender to God in all circumstances.  When you are afraid, don’t try to fight it alone. Surrender to him and trust.

 

 

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Prayer for Vocations in our Family

PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE

 

 We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all. Hebrews 10:10

The writers of this prayer wish to remain anonymous.

Prayer for Vocations in our Family

God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth you sent your only begotten Son as the High Priest to hang on a cross for our Salvation.  

He was born of a Woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose fiat made it possible for the Incarnate Son to dwell among us.  

Lord Jesus, while on this earth, you called all men and women to follow you, to learn from you, and to live in union with the Father in Heaven. 

You called the 12 Apostles to a specific vocation to the priesthood, ordaining them to carry on your mission in your Most Holy Name. 

You called Holy Men and Women to discipleship, to the Way of the Cross, serving to bring your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

You sent us the Advocate, the breath of life, who, consubstantial with the Father and the Son brings us the Sacraments through your Priests, to unite us to your Most Holy Will

Lord, over the centuries you have Blessed us with Priests, Deacons, and those called to  Religious life who have consecrated their lives to you.

You have risen up great Saints in our times of dire need.

Lord, we ask you to pour your mercy out upon all the souls you are calling to the priesthood, diaconate, religious and consecrated life, especially those from our family.

We offer our sons and daughters to serve your kingdom in a way that pleases your Most Holy Will.

We hold nothing back.  Our children belong to you and we know the vocation to which you call them will glorify your Kingdom bringing the peace and joy of God.

May Our Blessed Mother Mary wrap her mantle around them, keeping them close to her Immaculate Heart and protect them from spiritual danger. 

Jesus, we implore you to always provide for your Church holy priests and deacons.

May these men be consecrated to your Sacred Heart through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

May they be ever united to the Father in Heaven in constant prayer and faithful to their vows. 

May they be fearless in their leadership of the Church and forever preach the Truth in all goodness and love. 

Lord, may those brothers and sisters you call to the religious and consecrated life, be a perpetual reminder of the purity you are calling each one of us to in our own vocation.

May these men and women be a source of life, goodness, simplicity, obedience, love, mercy and truth to all they encounter. 

May their presence in the world remind us of your unfailing presence with us in all things. 

May all consecrated surrender their lives to doing YOUR daily work, through their constant devotion to you in prayer and the faithful living out of your Spiritual gifts that you have given them. 

We pray that your unfailing protection and blessings remain with them all the days of their lives so that they may remain faithful to your Church. 

May we all live the Sacramental life to which you have called us.

Saint Stephen, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Blessed Mother Mary, pray for us.

Divine Child, save us. 

We ask this in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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Prayer to the Most Blessed Trinity for Our Family

JuanSimónGutiérrez-e1545341180357

 

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Luke 1:35

The writers of this prayer would like to remain anonymous.

Prayer to the Most Blessed Trinity for Our Family

Heavenly Father, Creator of all life, thank you for the gift of life that you’ve given each person in our family. 

You have created each of us in your image and likeness. 

May we always remember who we are in YOUR eyes, so that we may more fully live out who we were created to be, both in this family and in the world. 

Father, you have placed each of us in this particular family, so that we may grow in virtue in our living in union with one another. 

May we be a true reflection of the domestic church and consecrate our lives to You and your Holy Catholic Church. 

Lord, we thank you for the gift of one another.

May we see the gifts in one another and build each other up for the purpose for which you created us. 

May we be slow to anger with one another and quick to love.

In our lifelong union as family, may we always view each member as perfect gift from you for the salvation of our souls. 

 

Jesus Christ our Savior, you have redeemed us by your holy cross.

Teach us to pray together and to forgive offenses willingly.

Pour your mercy out upon our family, so that we may be restored and our faith may be strengthened. 

Purify our hearts by the transforming power of your merciful love.

Help us to read your Word together and to live it out daily with thanksgiving. 

May you never find our hearts to be hardened and may we always remain open to receiving your grace. 

Jesus, we ask that you keep us ever united to the Holy Sacraments of the Church, which are an abundant source of life giving grace for us. 

Help us always to bear the weight of our crosses, and in turn support the other members of this family with their cross. 

May the faith that we have cultivated in this home remain with us as we journey through life. May we always adore you Christ, keeping our eyes fixed firmly on you in all things.

 

O Holy Spirit, Breath of Life, consume us with the fire of your love.

Ignite our hearts and keep your flame always burning within us, so that we may speak truth with love and mercy to all those we encounter in our lives. 

Holy Spirit, live and move freely within this family; in our days and in our nights, in all that we do and all that we refrain from doing, in all that we say and all that we refrain from saying. 

Convict us with righteousness when we fail and comfort us with love so we may repent swiftly.

Be ever present in our prayers, lifting them to the heights of the Heavenly Kingdom for our salvation and the salvation of the whole world. 

Help us unite our sufferings to the Cross of Christ.

Pour over each of us the gifts of wisdom, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, understanding, piety and fear of the Lord so our household will always be a reflection of God.  

Reveal our purpose and destiny as part of the Mystical Body. 

Spirit of God, dwell always with us so that we may draw from your source of peace, giving us hope and freedom in this life. 

 

St Elizabeth of the Trinity, pray for us

St Joseph, pray for us

Blessed Mother Mary, pray for us

Divine Child Jesus, bless and protect us

 

We ask all of this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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The Beautiful Plague and Believing the Lie

Antiphon of Cecilia

 

Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘you shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1

In my last post I pondered the fact that Eve was not praying.  I want to go further into this because it is important for all of us, ESPECIALLY in these times that we are living in.  It is important to understand how the devil is training us to think so that even the most pious can be aware of the subtleties of the devil that can lead us off the path of God and into perdition.  

Why do you think the devil asked Eve a question before he tempted her?  He asked “Did God say, ‘you shall not eat of any tree of the garden?”

He was checking to see if his lie had taken hold.  You see Satan had already been flinging poison arrows of suggestion at Eve.  He had, unbeknownst to her been flinging this thought at her, “you cannot touch the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”  And Eve, because she wasn’t taking captive her thoughts, and because she wasn’t communicating with God, had latched onto this thought as her own.  She believed the lie that was being flung at her. How can we know this?

We know this because the devil posed a question to her.  A question he knew she would answer in the negative – making her feel the power of her own authority.  But when she answered him – telling him what she knew to be true, she answered wrongly. She said, “…God said, ‘you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it lest you die.'”

And it was here that the devil knew he had her and she was ripe for the taking and stealing of her authority.  This is because God didn’t tell her not to touch it. The devil is the one who told her that. And he was a liar from the beginning.  And here he KNEW she believed the lie. Because Eve believed it the devil knew she hadn’t talked to God. And Eve hadn’t discerned the source of the lie, believing it to be from God, what had actually been flung at her by the Devil.  

This is important for us to understand because we need to be able to identify lies so we don’t become susceptible to the sin that follows suit when our foundation is built on a lie.  I am going to give you some examples.

There are people who are stating you cannot disagree with Pope Francis and if you do disagree with him you are schismatic and going to hell?  Is this true?

But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. Galatians 2:11

It seems we would be condemning Saint Paul if it were true.

On the flip side there are people who are saying Pope Francis is evil and therefore not the Pope at all.  They are fighting against him to have him removed and openly say he is going to hell.  

“Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter”

(Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221]).

Do we have faith in what Jesus spoke out of his own mouth?  Or do we believe the lie that the Holy Spirit has stopped guiding the church – perhaps sometime in the past – and that all that is happening now the God the Father is not in control of?

There are subtle lies everywhere.  All of them trying to deceive us into action to put our mortal souls in jeopardy.  One side saying accept all and be inclusive of all, including sin. While the other screams schism that will lead many to jump off the ship that Christ Himself said would not fail to drown in their own Pride.

“And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

Building your foundation on lies  will only lead you to accept bigger and bigger sin.  We already see it when our own Bishops cannot state that life is preeminent.  That is a lie.   A dead person has no right to anything.  While at the same token a person who leaves the communion of the church puts his own pride before the word of God himself.  Thank goodness ArchBishop Chaput saw through the division and lies and correctly spoke truth.

This is why I write SO MUCH about prayer.  And about prayer being a conversation with a person.  You will have no idea if there is a lie you are believing if you are not deeply in prayer with Christ.  You should be asking God what He wants, surrendering to him and asking angels to protect your conversation with God so no demon can enter into it.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your sin. This is done in the quiet without the distractions. 

In the comfort of our world Satan has used the gifts God gave us that helped us advance in technology and material wealth to lead us to believe that we can make it on our own without Our Savior.  Instead of being grateful for our gifts we have been given, we are yelling and screaming at one another. And Jesus passes us by. Comfort is beautiful. It is a beautiful plague. And Eve had fallen prey to it as did Adam because in their comfort of good in the garden, they got complacent in the relationship with the one who gave it to them and the lie took root before the sin was acted out.  

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. 

Genesis 3:4-5 

We see it happen time and time again in Scripture.  Israel becomes comfortable and then they bow down to idols.

What are the idols you bow down to that keep you from God Alone?  How can you even know what they are? One that I keep seeing repeatedly is that unity with one another can be achieved without Jesus Christ through the Sacraments at the center of it.  This is making an idol of false unity and trying to put peace with other people above relationship with God Alone. These are the universalists and they wear Catholic clothing.  Notice I didn’t say universal. Universalists preach a Gospel of idolatry. It cares not about the Sacramental Life and cares little about true conversion all the while proclaiming it in the name of love, but it is built on a lie and lies always lead to destruction.  

The church IS UNIVERSAL.  All are welcome and all are accepted.  But what does this actually mean?  

Because I work in the RCIA ministry I have to prepare the class to go through Liturgical Rites throughout the year.  The first Rite is called the Rite of Acceptance (with an adapted combined Rite called the Rite of Welcome for those already Baptized).  The Rite of Acceptance is a Rite that the unbaptized go through in order to move to the catechumenate phase of their journey. Prior to this Rite they are inquiring about the faith.  But once they move forward the church accepts them BECAUSE THEY ARE CHOOSING to move towards the Gospel and the Sacramental life and move AWAY from sin. They are choosing to begin listening to the Light of Christ; choosing to Know God; and choosing to love their neighbor – in that order.  Because we cannot know how to love our neighbor without first knowing God. If we don’t know God we live in a false love, which isn’t love at all.

This does not mean that they are not sinning.  It means they are moving in a direction towards the Cross and away from sin.  By the time we get to the Rite of Sending (to the Bishop), we the community are proclaiming that we have witnessed their continuing conversion.  We don’t send people who are steeped in sin with zero resolve to change it. We don’t expect them to be sinless, we expect that they recognize they are sinners and that they’re moving in a direction with God to change it.  This is the UNIVERSAL call. When they finally enter the waters of baptism, they have been through the scrutinies where they have examined their sinfulness and what they will leave behind when they enter the living waters. They are also given minor exorcisms because we know they are now entering the spiritual battle.  After baptism, confession allows them (and us) to continue turning away from sin towards God. The people that Jesus came across all model this; Zaccheaus, the Samaritan woman, the Adulterous woman. They met Him, they heard Him and they moved away from sin. 

I have seen people go through RCIA and leave behind birth control.  I have seen them commit to chastity.  I have seen them leave the homosexual lifestyle.  This is what God can do.  He can free you from sin and into a life of joy.  He walks with you in the struggle and forgives you when you fall.    

Contrast that with the Universalist movement, which accepts all, but does not mention sin or call people to conversion away from sin.  It often comes in intellectual and psychological language with statements about consciousness and duality.  It does not speak of sin.   It is the result of humans seeking worldly unity through worldly efforts instead of relying on Jesus Christ. It is summed up in a bumper sticker;

Everytime I see this I think, is this the best we can do?  I never remember Jesus saying, “I came that you might coexist.”  He said,

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 

While Christ absolutely still loves us even when we sin, He calls us out of it, into His perfection.  He wants to heal us and for that to happen we have to recognize our sin, repent of it and hand it completely over to Him.

He absolutely wants us to respect the dignity of every human person and not to force people to love him because, of course, that isn’t love.  But he called us to go out and make disciples of all nations.  And he absolutely does give us a WAY.  He is the Way.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:16

That statement is true regardless of your background.  NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH HIM.  And he left us a church to show the fullness of the way.

It is hard to live the way Christ has asked us.  This is why he said;

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?  John 16:24-26

In these times we live in, it is imperative for each of us to identify the lies we may believe.  This is half the battle.  Once we identify the lie, we can keep our eyes on truth and speak to truth, and even if all appears to be falling apart we can know what it true and stay on the path of Christ.  It will involve each of us being uncomfortable, but that is okay because,

You were not made for comfort.  You were made for greatness. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

 

 

 

 

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The Sweeping Wind – Let the Fire Fall

fire fall

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.  John 1:1-5

The other day I was with Jansen in a session and he said some things that got me thinking.  First, he said that in the beginning God had a thought, and the Holy Spirit waited until God spoke the words of the thought, and then like a sweeping wind once the word was spoken, the Holy Spirit moved into action.

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,  the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  Genesis 1:1-5

In this account from Genesis we see God speak, and the Holy Spirit springs into action.  He said every time God has a thought, that when he speaks the word, the Holy Spirit gets immediately to acting to make the word happen.   If only we listened when God spoke then we too would be filled with the Spirit and move into action.  Instead we act without listening to God speak.

Later Jansen was talking about something else and he said that in the Garden Eve misquoted God.  I looked and sure enough it was true.  For God told Adam;

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “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 2:15-17

But later in the Garden when the serpent is tempting Eve, her response is different;

He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “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 3:1-3

Did you catch it?  The mistake she made?  She said she couldn’t touch it, but God actually never said that.  God said they couldn’t eat it.  But He never said anything about touching it.  After I left I asked myself, why is this important?  It seems a small mistake, yet in that small mistake we see something much larger.  I could probably write a whole other post on the implication of this in relation to the Tree of Life, but that is for another time.

It wasn’t a sin for her to misunderstand the command, but the question is WHY did she?  Here in lies her even bigger mistake.  Because perhaps the answer is, she wasn’t talking to GOD.  Here we see Eve is not PRAYING which keeps you in right relationship with God.

Who does she talk to then?  The serpent.  She listens to the wrong Kingdom.  And why was she so easily convinced?  Why were seeds of doubt of God so easily acceptable?  I had to ask myself, when was the last time she talked to God?  So from the very beginning, we can see the importance of prayer in keeping our union with God.

I have often pondered in the past why the outcome for Mary was so different from the outcome for Eve.  Two sinless women, what was the difference that made Mary say yes, when Eve said No?  Afterall, Eve knew no evil and Mary did, so you would think Mary’s yes would be nearly impossible because Mary would be able to feel fear, where, to this point, Eve had not had the opportunity to feel it.  What was the difference?

Where Eve should KNOW GOD, perhaps in the gift of everything around her she got complacent in her relationship, the way we often do when everything is comfortable and good.  Comfort can breed apathy and luke warmness.  Perhaps she felt no need to speak to Him because all is going well and she had already begun interiorly to rely on herself instead of God.   This too could be why Adam gave in so easily as well, derelict in his duty to protect.  Was he talking to God?  We know He did, but had he stopped?  It is often only in suffering that we bow down and begin crying out to God.  What was it about Mary?  Why was it so different for her?  The answer lies in prayer, from the words of Mary herself.

We know Mary prayed because of her response to the Angel;

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

And later her proclamation to Elizabeth;

 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
is mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”  Luke 1:46-55

Those are not the words of a woman who isn’t praying.  Mary was praying for the Messiah, and God answered her prayer FOR HER.

blessed-mother-mary-in prayer

What does all of this mean for us?  Right now we live in a very confused world.  It is very hard to navigate.  I see people who proclaim Pope Francis to be an anti-Pope, and still others who say if you disagree with the Pope at all you’re schismatic.  How are we to know what direction to turn and what is actually true?  How can we endure this Passion our church is undergoing?

The answer lies in your own prayer life and how grounded you are in the truths of the Magisterium and in the Sacraments.  Eve was disobedient.  Are you?  Is there an area you disagree with church teaching on and try to conform it to the ways of the world?  Do you feel conflicted inside by it?   You see the world gives peace by trying to remove external conflict often at the expense of your interior.   We justify our disobedience so we can disregard the interior conflict in our hearts in order to appease the exterior conflict around us.  But the removal of external conflict isn’t  the kind of peace God gives.  God’s peace comes smack in the middle of the external conflict.  He shows you what is true and it frees you interiorly so you see what’s really happening.  It involves letting go of our own control and handing it over to God, who has complete control.  It involves being obedient to God.  This is an impossible task if you are not praying and making progress in prayer.

Saint Theresa of Avila says if you aren’t progressing in prayer you’re moving away from God.  I don’t think we can do any better than the Carmelites in our understanding of prayer life.  It isn’t mindful emptying, it is a relationship with a person.  Dan Burke told us in a class I was taking at the Avila Institute, “it is a profound absurdity to think that Christian Meditation is concerned with thought management.  Christian Meditation is concerned with orienting the mind and heart to God.  The lover to the beloved.”   TALK TO HIM.  While we should take captive every thought in order to know which Kingdom is speaking, prayer is not a psychological exercise in altered consciousness.  It is a relationship with a person who elevates you out of sin.

Don’t be complacent and neglect your prayer life or you will end up eating a poisonous fruit instead of the fruit of the vine.  We see it all around us.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

It doesn’t matter if those around you are being disobedient, you SHOULD NOT BE.   Your yelling at them won’t make them obedient.  Letting God deal with them frees you.  And aligning yourself with God’s Will gives you peace.  Everyday we should be praying and examining our conscience.   And I am not talking about going through a check list of questions.  I am talking about closing your eyes and asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate you, the Holy Spirit to convict you.  For him to show you WHO YOU ARE.  So you can turn away from sin and move towards God.  For each person who makes a movement away from sin the world gets better.  Be that person even when you don’t understand what our leaders are doing.    

Speak these WORDS to God, illuminate and convict me, Lord.  And God will send the WORD like a sweeping wind over you and the Fire of God can fall upon you.  And you can be set into action by the Holy Spirit who will help you to navigate through these times in a Godly way.

You see you and I don’t have to have all of the answers, but we do have to have right relationship with God.  Don’t make the mistake Eve made.  Don’t misunderstand God and then not speak to Him.  Ask for the gift of understanding from the Holy Spirit, and let the Fire Fall upon you.

This is the time for Great Saints.  Be one.

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Prayer for our Child – (prayer of a parent for a troubled child)

 

good shepherd2

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

The writer of this prayer would like to remain anonymous.

Prayer for Our Child

Dear God, You are the author of all life. Father, You created our child (name), body and soul. The Holy Spirit breathed life into (name) at the moment of conception. The Son Jesus Christ has redeemed (name). Blessed Trinity, You have given this child to us as pure gift so that we may care for him/her and ultimately lead him/her into relationship with You. 

Merciful Father, we implore You to pour Your mercy out upon (name).  Father forgive him/her for he/she knows not what he/she does. May our prayers and sacrifices, united to Christ and perfected in His image, be lifted up to You as a perfect offering on behalf of our child.  May these prayers also be laid before the Most Immaculate Heart of Mary so that she may intercede on behalf of (name). Lord, we trust that You will not deny a request of Your Mother Mary and so we entrust our child to her completely. 

We ask that you send angels in sufficient rank, number, power and authority to fight any demons off and away from (name) so that in this very moment, the Holy Spirit may come down upon him/her, interrupting his/her day, and convict his/her heart.  May the loving touch of Your Heavenly grace enable him/her to turn back to You.  

St. Michael the Archangel, lift away and hold back the veil of confusion that covers over (name) so that his/her heart may be continually softened and opened to the Truth. St Gabriel the Archangel, deliver the message of Jesus Christ to (name), so that the Good News may be proclaimed and heard by him/her this very day. St. Raphael the Archangel, bring about complete healing to the body, mind and soul of (name), so that he/she may be restored and renewed as a beloved child of God. 

Lord, as parents and guardians of (name), we consecrate him/her to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Most Chaste Heart of Joseph. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, help us to persevere in faith, hope, and love.

Most Chaste St Joseph, pray for us

Immaculate Virgin Mary, pray for us

Merciful Jesus, we trust in You

 

If you would like to pray with others who are struggling with children who have left the faith, check out Praying for Our Prodigals.

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