Now is the Time for the Prosperity Gospel

pieta

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

This week one of our ministry leaders experienced a tragedy.  As you all know I work in deliverance ministry with Jansen Bagwell who is the lead of this ministry at our church.

Before I begin this story, I just want to comment on the man and his wife.  They are not perfect, none of us are, but Jansen is the closest thing I have seen to a true disciple of Christ this side of heaven, and his family exemplifies the domestic church.  He has helped to heal me and my own family.

Jansen brings Christ to the people, but not in a way that judges them, in a way that walks with them and lets the person make a free will choice.  Often times in deliverance sessions we will get to a certain point, and it is this point where there will either be a breakthrough and major healing will take place, or the person will choose to walk away.  There is no control over the other.  This exemplifies Christ to me because Christ does not try to force us to love, or even to be healed.  Love is a choice.  I am always sad when a person walks away, but in the world we live in many regularly walk away from the Lord and the exact place He wants to heal them.  Jansen prays for them as do I.  I tell you this so you can see in the following story, the choice to love, even when it seems impossible.

On Thursday October 24, 2019 at 19 weeks pregnant with her fifth child Jansen’s wife, Amanda, started bleeding heavily.  They called 911 and the ambulance rushed her to the hospital.  The surgical team was waiting for her and due to the severity of her complications they performed a hysterectomy removing her uterus.  Her placenta had grown through the uterine wall and had almost reached her bladder.  She had almost no amniotic fluid.  She was in danger of death so in order to save her life and stop the bleeding they had to operate and deliver the baby who was not yet at a viable age.  There were no other options because otherwise they both would die. The baby was delivered, he did not survive.

The following is my recollection of testimony of Father Dan Reehil (yes, the one of Harry Potter fame, who happens to be one of the best Priests I know – a true Apostle of Christ).  Father Reehil was present at the hospital with the Bagwell’s and he gave testimony in a homily on Friday October 25, 2019.

Father Reehil stated he got the news that Amanda and the baby were in distress so he hopped in his car and began to drive to the hospital.  He said that on his way to the hospital the Lord told him that he would send 3 Priests to show the presence of the Blessed Trinity.  He said when he arrived, it was just him.  But a short time later another Priest, Father Nick Allen, showed up, and a little while after that another, Father Bala.  3 Priests, just as he had been told.  The other Priests were the Associate Pastor and the Pastor from our church.

Father Reehil began to cry during his homily as he explained what happened next.  He said they brought the baby to Jansen, who held his son.  He said Jansen prayed a prayer of Thanksgiving to the Lord for the child and told the Lord that the child was never his, but had always belonged to God and he offered him back to the Lord.

Father Reehil with the assistance of the other Priests baptized and confirmed the little boy during the surgery and commended him into the arms of his good Father as he passed away.  This gives us another saint in heaven.  Father said it edified and strengthened his own faith to see Jansen’s prayer and that if we all had faith like that the world would be a much better place.  Father Reehil continued to cry through the consecration.  He later told me that it was a Mass truly from his heart.  I knew it to be true.

As I sat in the pew listening I cried louder than I ever have in a church filled with people and I didn’t care if they saw me openly weeping.  If it hadn’t been so solemn and I hadn’t been crying so hard I would likely have shouted “AMEN – AMEN I believe.  I believe because of the power of your witness’ testimony!”  I experienced healing in a deeper more profound way over my own miscarriage from an ectopic pregnancy back in 2003 where I too almost died from blood loss.  The Lord was using this witness to heal me more deeply.  I believe the Bagwell family has no idea how many people this will impact.

It has been very emotional for Jansen’s family.  His wife experienced a lot of pain and does have a bit of a road to recovery but she seems to be recovering nicely.  Jansen said they can see the tiny miracles in the small things, like the timing.  On the Tuesday before, Amanda had had an appointment with a maternal fetal medicine doctor who had discovered that there was almost no amniotic fluid with the potentially life threatening complications for her and advised her of the severity of it.  Because of this she advised Amanda not to travel anywhere that would be further than 2 hours from a major hospital.  Amanda listened and canceled her work trip to switch her work plane flight to the middle of no-where Illinois.  This saved her life because she was supposed to be on that plane when the bleeding started.  The path has been overwhelming and emotional, for all in their family – including their older children.  Please keep all of them in your prayers.

It is here that I want to offer my personal commentary.  This is one of those tragedies or traumas that could make a person bitter and angry at God.  I know back in 2003 I struggled with that myself.  But Jansen offered thanksgiving and gave his son, whom they named Gabriel Paul, back to God.  I feel certain the name Paul is because of the impact Saint Paul had on Jansen’s conversion to Catholicism.

He offered THANKSGIVING as his son was dying.  Do you know what that is?  That is prosperity in VIRTUE.  That is LOVE OF GOD.  THAT IS THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL.  It’s freedom in God that is grounded in thanksgiving.  Eucharist means thanksgiving.

We don’t know God’s ways, they are not ours, and Jansen displayed love and trust of God’s plan in a way I have never seen before.  Reminiscent of Job who continued to say God was good, even in the midst of his pain.  And when Job is taken into the whirlwind he cannot even speak at the immensity of all God is.

I have often heard people speak about having gratitude in everything.  Gratitude towards the God that loves us even when we suffer.  And I wondered why gratitude is so powerful? We know it is, because it takes our breath away when we see it.  And it struck me that gratitude is intertwined with mercy.  A thankful person is a person who holds no grudge, who forgives to the fullest.  Even the things we cannot understand.

I fully believe that it is not God who wills our suffering.  But when I see a tragedy like this it can often make me question.  Lord why do bad things happen to good people?  And the Lord showed me Saint Paul;

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

 I don’t know why they had to suffer this, but I know in the turning to Christ with it they have partaken in His Cross.  And His Cross always brings resurrection.  It already did for me and my own healing.  Their afflictions and uniting it to Christ strengthened ME, a part of the body of the church.

I had asked the Lord, after Amanda’s appointment, if she and her baby would be okay.  He had told me “yes”.  So when this happened, I questioned him again.  He told me his promises are true and they were both more than okay, as one in eternity with Him in heaven and one, after a path of healing on earth will continue his work.

And it occurred to me that we now have an intercessor.  In the age we live in, where the womb, motherhood, fatherhood, and children, are attacked on a regular basis, we now have a Holy Innocent who sits with the Father and intercedes on our behalf.  Father Reehil said the Confirmation name Jansen chose for his child was Elizabeth.  Father Reehil saw great wisdom in this choice because the child’s entire life was in the womb.  Elizabeth’s womb was a very significant place for Saint John the Baptist; where he received his vocation from Jesus during the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.

At only 19 weeks, what a life he lived.  It was a life of witness.

In our world of confusion, when we don’t know what’s what, neither inside the church or outside of it, it is immeasurably beautiful to see the Sacramental life fully embraced and lived in the people around us and in the community we share.  The Mystical Body in action gives clarity in a world of confusion and it keeps our eyes on Christ.

I know Jansen and Amanda have a long road of healing ahead of them and I continue to pray ardently for them.  I pray that God will heal their emotions and her physical body and continue to pour himself into their souls.

Saint Gabriel Paul Elizabeth of the womb (The mercy seat), pray for us. 

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

False Humility, Dangerous Silence, and Mindless Meditation

tissot-christ-retreats-to-the-mountain-at-night-671x691

 

I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.  They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.  Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.  John 20:15-17

BY: ASHLEY BLACKBURN

I’ve often wondered why God points things out to me or shows me things in my encounters with others that I was not necessarily looking for; but what I’ve come to realize is that he wants me to use the gift he gave to me of intercessory prayer to pray for these souls. By providing me a glimpse of their heartache, sufferings, unforgiveness or fears, I am able to later enter into prayer for them with a fervor and intensity that I may not have had without having that personal encounter with them. I feel truly blessed to be able to lift others up in prayer and to allow God to use this gift to build up his kingdom here on earth. Although it often goes unseen, prayer is an act of charity in service to our neighbor’s soul. 

Recently in my own personal prayer, God has been speaking to me about a false or empty humility and a dangerous silence that exists amongst those who consider themselves spiritual, many of whom are Catholics. What I keep wrestling with is the fact that the men and women whom I encounter with this are all opposed to one or more teachings of the Catholic Church. This is an observation only and not a judgement of any one of them. 

I say I wrestled with this because I couldn’t quite understand how humility and silence could be bad. But then God pointed out to me that to oppose the Church is an act of pride. It is to say that you do not believe the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church. It is to say that you know something that has not yet been revealed to the Church. It is to say that you are unwilling to trust in God’s plan for the Body of Christ through the Church and so you choose disobedience. The root of each of these things, unbelief, superior knowledge, and disobedience, is pride. But not your typical pride that is glaring; instead it is a pride that is hidden very well by an empty humility and dangerous silence. 

First, let’s look at empty humility. The basis for authentic humility lies in WHO we are humbling ourselves to and WHY we are choosing the servant position. What makes humility good is that we are humbling ourselves before God, our Father, our Creator, our Lord. Doing this puts us in right order with God; he as the Lord and we his humble servants.  It is empty when we attempt to humble ourselves before false gods or humble ourselves to nothing at all. When we leave God out of our humble acts of service or our humble nature, it remains empty. It does nothing to order us rightly with our Lord. And like the house built on sand it will eventually crumble because we have not put God as our solid foundation. 

The other aspect of humility to look at is why are we choosing to humble ourselves. It has become almost a fad to look and act humble, especially in Christian circles. False humility is a show and has made many Christians fall into competing against one another to try to prove they are “more” Christian than their neighbor but this false humility.  This same false humility is also seen in the secular world.  And when you cannot tell the difference between a secular person and a Christian, you can bet there is a disobedience to teaching for the Christian. Humility is not a competition of who can help the marginalized in a more superior way.  Authentic humility is ordered toward God. It is a true fruit of charity springing from within a heart that knows it is loved and thus desires to share that love with their neighbor. When humility is acted out by a soul for the purpose of personal gain or in order to earn righteousness, instead of springing forth out of a genuine love for the Lord, it is false. Those whose intentions are to be humble in order to be more holy than their neighbor are operating out of empty humility, leaving God out.  True humility compels love of others – all of them, not just the ones who agree with you.

Next, let’s look at dangerous silence. There are plenty of mindless meditation practices out there now that teach people to empty everything out of their minds and rest in the nothingness. These practices are dangerous because they leave out God. Meditation without something to meditate upon can be the devil’s playground. Christian meditation is a conversation with the person of Jesus Christ that can, as a gift of grace, result in a silent gaze of love; But to repeat a “mantra” word is to look past the person we are supposed to be speaking to and miss his love entirely.  We focus on the mantra rather than the Loving God with whom we are in relationship. We should not empty ourselves of holy things. Where we do not fill in our minds and our hearts with God, be sure that the devil is there to take that place and try his hardest to influence us. Where there is an absence of God, there is hell. An empty mind is a breeding ground for dissenting ideology that moves a person away from Sacramental life. The devil loves an empty mind. You can see the fruit of this because people are drawn away from the church and the sacraments and begin to worship the created things rather than the Creator.  

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” Romans 1:25

It’s so important to understand that God wants us to enter into silence, to remove ourselves from the world at times to pray. Jesus did this often during his public ministry. But when Jesus went off to enter into the silence, he lifted his heart to the Lord and entered into a silent conversation with his Father in Heaven. In that silence, the Father spoke words of wisdom, encouragement, mission, and love to the Son. Silence becomes dangerous when it has nothing to fill it, when it is empty. We must intentionally put ourselves in the presence of the Lord in our times of silence because it is Jesus Christ who comforts and heals and protects us. If you find yourself in a place of denying church teaching and thinking you know better than our great Saints and that you don’t need the Sacramental Life, you are walking in the opposite direction from the one who created you.  

False humility and mindless meditation are intertwined in today’s world.  It can be seen in the virtue signaling of our disordered society. It is cloaked in emotion instead of in truth.  Truth should not be offensive to you. If you find truth offensive have a conversation with God about it instead of running away from it.  Chances you have a deep wound that you need healing from. There is one healer, one God who alone is good, turning to Him can make you whole in a way your own efforts never can.  You have a Savior. Talk to Him.

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

From Addiction to Redemption

Michael Patrick Fallon

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

I have told this story before but on the Feast of his death I decided to print it again.

Eight years ago today Michael Patrick Fallon passed away while in seminary after having a heart attack from a heart defect he had had since childhood.  I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in about 20 years.

It was the early 90’s and I was in college in Washington, D.C.  He was dating my friend so we were friends with one another.  Michael had battled his demons.  They were demons of addiction.  He was in AA and was trying to remain sober. Doing this in college at the time was hard.  I tried to be supportive.

One morning he called me and told me he needed to borrow money for his anti-depressant medication.  I lent him $10.

Later in the day his girlfriend called me to see if I could check on him as she was not on campus with us and I lived in a dorm nearby.  She was worried about him.  Before I went over I called him.  He answered the phone and began crying.  He confessed to me that he had taken the money I had given him for medication and used it to buy alcohol.  I believe he had taken drugs too.  He was very ashamed and was calling himself stupid.  I decided I should go over to his room to help him calm down.

I was not prepared for the state he was in when I entered the room.  He let me in and began banging his head and fists against the wall repeating how stupid he was.  I could see he was tormented by his mistake.  I grabbed the phone (the old kind that was hooked to the wall), and called his AA sponsor.

When I lifted my head Michael had a knife.  He told me he was going to kill himself.  I responded, “NO!”

Then he threatened to kill me.  Though that sounds horrifying, I never actually believed in my heart that he would hurt me. He continued to wave the knife and punch the wall.

All the noise alerted the Resident Assistant.  The RA came to the door and asked me if everything was okay.  I said, “no” and informed him of what was going on.  The RA called the police.

The Police sent in the SWAT team. The building was evacuated and I was inside the room as he deteriorated. The RA convinced Michael to let me out of the room if he came in. I don’t even remember the RA’s name, but he traded places with me. Yes, I said, he traded places with me.  There are angels among us.  I was never able to thank him.   I was whisked out by SWAT who had snipers on a neighboring building.  Eventually they were able to trade the knife for a cigarette and they carried him away. I was left a little terrified.

A year later, a clean and sober Michael came into one of the Lecture Hall classrooms I was in. He sat next to me he handed me a $10 bill and said, “Susan, I am so sorry.” I told him I forgave him and I told him that my wish for him was to live a good life and be happy. I never saw him again.  I often think about this and the courage it took him to do this; admit his sin and ask for forgiveness.  This is something that is so rare these days.  And even back then God compelled me to extend the hand of mercy towards him.

I had prayed for Michael to recover and get better.  He did.  I don’t think I had absorbed at the time what it had done to me.  I thought I had forgiven him, but I don’t know if in my soul I had.  I was traumatized.  This experience coupled with a mugging and witnessing a shooting would eventually make me flee the city and move south.  A counselor would later diagnose me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I lived with panic attacks and depression on and off for awhile.  I believe this contributed to my post partum depression.

I never realized how trauma can open the door for the demons of fear to grab hold of you.  I would often lash out at people in anger.  Anger because I was afraid of being hurt again.  I was living in chains.

It was in realizing the power of forgiveness, true forgiveness from the depths of my soul, that I was set free from the demons of fear.

I had to forgive Michael and mean it, and I did.  I had to forgive the muggers, the murderer, even the CITY;  the city that for me had bred violence, vitriol and fear.  I FORGIVE WASHINGTON, DC.  Please understand I know this is not everyone’s experience of that city, but it was mine.  I can now visit there with a peaceful heart.

When we forgive, we are free.  Panic, depression and anger no longer consume me.  I am loved and I believe God is a good father.

Michael passed away after having recovered from his own demons.  He had made his way to seminary and was going to be a Priest.  His father told me of how he spent hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  His father also told me that his only wish for his children was that they die in a state of grace.  Michael did.  Though his father was sorrowful, he also was grateful, grateful because his son knew Christ. He had peace, even in living through the death of a child. It is the kind of peace only Christ, especially in the Eucharist can bring; even in death, you can know your child is well.

Reflecting back on my life, I fully believe that God allowed me to be in that room with Michael for a reason. It was for me and it was for him. For him, because I truly believe if I had not been there that night, I don’t know if he would have made it out alive and  he was able to receive the great gift of God’s mercy. For me, part of that night and my further journey brought me to my knees to know the Lord and all He means to us.

That meeting with Michael, one that contributed to me leaving Washington, D.C., it was a blessing. His life changed and so did mine. I moved, I met my husband, I have 3 beautiful children. Michael played a part in my journey. When I heard that he was in the seminary when he passed, though I was extremely sad about his passing, I rejoiced that he was in the seminary because that meant that before he passed he had made it home. He found his calling. We both found the Grace of the Sacraments.  How Awesome! I know that when he passed, he was able to meet the Divine Mercy of Jesus who looked upon him and said, “Well done, my Good and Faithful Servant.” This was ALWAYS my prayer for Michael. In heaven he is whole and perfect, he is surrounded by a love we cannot comprehend. I am reminded that God knows all the hairs on each of our heads and He is holding us in the palm of His hand.  We just have to open our eyes to it.  I also realize that God knows the bigger picture.  I could never have imagined the blessed life I lead today when I was standing in that room.  I could never have imagined that Michael would have found his way to God in the seminary.  God really does have a plan for each one of us.

 

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Pontification and Ideology of Division

creation_adam_eve-600x300

 

“Know that the greatest service that man can offer to God is to help convert souls.” 

St. Rose of Lima

 

Before I begin this post I wanted to say unequivocally that I am under the guidance and direction of the Chair of Peter and I will never leave it.  No one should. Whether the man at the helm denies Jesus like Peter did 3 times, goes the way of Caiaphas the High Priest, Judas the betrayer, or the path of Christ Himself, it is Christ Himself who is the ultimate authority over the person in the Chair, and in Him I trust to guide the church and the chair towards resurrection and life, no matter how messy that path.  Jesus I trust in you. The Pope is my shepherd. He cannot compel me to sin, but he can and does lead the church that I love and so I abide by the direction we go, wherever that may be, because the promise of Christ is TRUE, that the gates of hell will not prevail, even if the path we are on seems to contradict this. Jesus I trust in you.

My word for the year this year was SPEAK, so though I do owe my obedience to the Pope, I do not have to remain silent in the face of error.  I must speak when my conscience compels me to. I am not a sedevacantist, nor do I believe in assuming the interior of a person, including the Pope.  It is not my job to judge his soul. I can, however, assess statements that have been made. And it is actually precisely because I love this Pope that I feel compelled to speak now.

Recently I read an article, that if true, is troubling.

Here are the quotes I find most troubling;

“One dimension of clericalism is the exclusive moral fixation on the sixth commandment,” 

“We focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip and lies. The Church today needs a profound conversion in this area.”

“Once a Jesuit, a great Jesuit, told me to be careful in giving absolution, because the most serious sins are those that are more angelical: pride, arrogance, dominion… And the least serious are those that are less angelical, such as greed and lust,”

“Clericalism has a direct consequence in rigidity. Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn on their heads? Behind all the rigid clericalism there are serious problems.”

To start, let’s focus on the statement that lust and greed are less serious sins. Although many theologians have ordered the sins putting lust and greed at the bottom, they are still considered deadly sins and in certain conditions, they are mortal. 

To be clear, this is not a competition between sins or people.  To do this is to partake in the very sin that is claimed to condemn as the worst, namely pride.  But when we start generalizing and concluding that one deadly sin is worse than another… What a statement of pride! Only God can know the hearts and minds of every sinner. Only He stands to judge each one of us in His perfect justice. We are not worthy to make those judgements so we must avoid it at all costs. 

But let me make one thing clear, acceptance of any deadly sin as less than deadly swings a door wide open for Satan to enter. Once we allow Satan to convince us that one deadly sin is “not as bad as another”, he’s got us in his grasp and can do a lot of damage thereafter. 

I would further argue that viewing the world this way, that acknowledging lust and sexual sins as deadly will make us blind to other sins like slander and gossip, misses the mark on why lust is so bad for the soul and it underestimates God’s grace in lifting us out of sin.  When we view people through a lustful lens, lust begins to harden our hearts and violates the dignity of another human person. Lust is particularly perverse because of how it dishonors the dignity of the human person in both body and soul and gives rise to the sexual sins of adultery, pedophilia, molestation, rape, pornography and the like. It is here that pride takes root because by justifying the violation of the body and soul of either yourself or of another person it is a direct attack on all parts of our humanity that God made dignified. In other words, this sin is personal and relational and opens the doorway to souls being used as sexual commodities.  Then assuredly, the sins of pride, power, and greed will end up intertwining themselves into this distorted view of the dignity of humanity. Just look at Jeffery Epstein and Cardinal McCarrick.

The sexual sins of the pedophile, ephebophile and homosexual Priests and Bishops were lustful, alongside being prideful and power filled. Clericalism is not what made these men do these horrific things, giving into temptation (looking lustfully) and choosing to sin is what did. Acting upon the sin of lust is what opened the door to becoming prideful. It is the personal sin that hardens our hearts and eventually leads us to societal chaos.  A position as a cleric is just a position, it only becomes sinful when it is an abuse of power. In the case of these priests and bishops, they committed sin in their hearts first, then they used their power to carry out and perpetuate the sinful acts. Then they and many others who knew or found out about what they did, all used their power to cover it up afterwards. Had the cleric not given into the temptation of lust, the temptation to wield power over others would not be an issue. Sin begets sin.  

There was a reason why Jesus spoke so firmly on marriage, which is the only appropriate place for sexual union to take place.  If marriage breaks down, so does society.  Breakdown of the family CAUSES POVERTY.  The poverty we so want to stop.  If we teach and build up sexual morality and marriage, poverty is way less likely to happen.

I want to go back to something I touched on earlier, which is the claim that focusing on sexual sin means we do not give weight to social justice issues. Seeing where we are as a culture right now and the heavy focus our culture has on sexual identity, it seems only fitting that we focus in on this very thing.  If we are to win this battle against Satan, and it is a battle that we are in whether we know it or not, we must focus in on how Satan has convinced us to identify ourselves through the scope of a sinful behavior, instead of identifying as our true identity, which is sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. This statement that we are too focused on sexual sin is one of division that pits those doing social justice work against those doing work to improve sexual morality.

It is not an either/or situation… It’s a both/and situation! It is actually an insult to the Mystical Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints to say that one is more important than the other.  Some are called to feed the poor, others to teach on sexual morality, still others are called to a multitude of other areas. All of these things are meant to compliment one another in the Kingdom of God and build it up, not to be in competition with one another.  To think otherwise is to think like a demi-god. Half-god. One who knows better than the teachings of God Himself.

This is actually one of the strategies of Satan, to get Christians to turn inward, to focus on our differences of opinion, to attack one another. When we are busy doing this, we actually cease fighting Satan. 

God of course wants us to help the poor, but He also wants us to be interiorly free from sin.  It is only when we interiorly work on our own sinfulness are we able to truly become servants of God by serving others.  If we have not healed and grounded ourselves in the truth, we are at risk of being devoured by the wolves of the world, instead of being able to serve those in need.  It is a cooperation in our own redemption and it is the duty of the Christian to help others see this too, but never by way of force. God Himself respects free will, and we should also.  But we also don’t abdicate to the position that it’s just too hard and stay wallowing in sin and sit back and do nothing while others wallow in sin as well. That is not what we are called to do! Correction of a person is actually one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. We are called to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  This is the universal or Catholic call. It is the one that brings freedom and saves. And it ministers to the whole person and the whole truth. It seeks total conversion.

You know who takes half a truth into the world and twists it to be the full truth?  Satan. The self-made demi-god who begets non-servium.  If you want service from the heart, full truth must be embraced in prayer and reverence. 

Lastly, I must comment on the very hurtful words that no doubt insulted those who adhere to full truth and respond lovingly in every way possible, even in the details of how they dress (which, by the way, was put in place to keep clerics from wearing richly styled clothing, thus stressing poverty as well as modesty).  These very words are filled with judgement and division, let alone their being completely unprofessional. 

Most of the young Priests in black cassocks that I know love God with their whole heart, mind and soul.  They are prayerfully serving. They actually pray their Divine Office and mean it.  To insinuate otherwise is calumny.  No one but God knows their interior.  These men that bring us the Eucharist do not need to be subverted by the very authority they serve.  It does absolutely nothing to foster unity, truth and love. They are facing accusations and name calling from society, while getting called out for not changing basic teachings, not compromising the truth from within. All the while, those committing actual crimes get very little or even no penalty at all.  Just ask Father Jeremy Leatherby

My friend Shawn Sulak put it this way, she said, “In our broken society my heart craves the truth, which has always been clear.  In an effort to be “inclusive” we have lost beautiful traditions and the fruit of this seems to be that for every 6.5 Catholics that leave only 1 convert.  Additionally, most Catholics believe the Eucharist is only a symbol.  Why do most Catholics believe the Eucharist is only a symbol?  Why aren’t Catholics attending Mass? If the hierarchy could just embrace what the church already is; beautiful, perfectly designed, and instituted by Christ Himself, the Holy Spirit could work.  It doesn’t need to be watered down. That is the problem, it is losing all of it’s luster – which is the supernatural beauty and awe that compels you towards heaven. If only people truly understood what is happening at Mass and if only our leaders would cultivate this.  People are not craving a mediocre experience where you can go and ‘hangout’ and follow a portion of what you feel like, and then go about the rest of your lackluster week. People thirst for and NEED Christ. The Catholic Church is the only place that can fill this – yet so many in leadership want to water it down.  It is heartbreaking and sad.” Shawn went further and stated, “if people truly experience the Mass, the Eucharist, the Liturgy – the way it was written and intended, if they would go to Confession and experience God’s mercy and Grace, then the Holy Spirit could get to work and things would turn around. But if we continue down the path of ‘this sin isn’t as bad as that sin’ and saying Priests are ‘too rigid’, ignore the rubric of the Mass, and don’t teach the truth about the Mass and the Eucharist, Mass becomes like a sporting event.  I want something RADICAL. I want radical Priests to rise up and say enough! Radical Love is what Christ was about and the beauty of our traditions embody this.”

While there are those who are truly “rigid” and need prayer, the converse is true that there are those who are morally loose, especially those in the ranks who commit sexual crimes and have destroyed the trust of a faithful flock.  They are harming the Kingdom of God and need to be held accountable by our leadership. Why is this not happening? Their moral laxity has led to moral laxity in teaching the lay faithful and now we can see how depraved our society has become as a result.  The church is supposed to be a beacon of truth. It draws you in because it is truth. It is Jesus. Now with watered down teaching it just looks like the rest of the world. The Holy Spirit is the advocate of the church and it is the Holy Spirit who convicts hearts and leads souls to full conversion. But we’ve seemed to lose hope in the Holy Spirit. We’ve stopped praying for our families and laity who are the sheep of the flock. We’ve turned to our own thinking and our own ability to try to reach out to the flock instead of calling on the Holy Spirit, the advocate, to do the work of conversion. It’s the Holy Spirit who keeps people from leaving the Church. It’s prayer that opens us up to the Spirit. The church should be calling all the faithful to prayer so that each catholic may encounter the living God in their very hearts.

Jesus said,  “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” John 14:15.  He didn’t quantify that and say to only keep some of them.  This is because they are unified and belong together, to separate them out and pit them against one another is dangerous. Satan is the divider, God is the ultimate uniter, and God wants nothing more than for us to be ONE and for us to work as ONE body. It is our duty to build of the Kingdom of God.  Don’t accept an ideology of halves. Be all in for the Kingdom of God. I believe Pope Francis truly wants the best for people, that he wants Priests to not get so stuck in the rules that they don’t love people. All of that is good. But the faithful also must not be offended by the truth. The Priests must not be afraid to teach it and should most definitely not be admonished for teaching it.  The bar does not need to be lowered, the path should be clear – because it is a path to heaven. To downplay this just brings more destruction on the Body of Christ.

Pray for the Pope.

Fiat voluntas tua.

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

The Spirit of Elijah – Restored Order

 

Strobel_Assumption_of_Mary_with_St._John_the_Evangelist

And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.  Luke 1:17

This past weekend I took my parents to attend the funeral of a very dear friend, Reba, who passed away after a life well lived at the age of 89.  She was one of my mom’s best friends and she was like a second Mother to me.  She also happened to be my sister’s Mother-in-law.

My own parents are elderly so travel can be difficult, for both them and me.  But because of the closeness of my family with Reba, I knew we had to be there.  The funeral was in Charlotte.  A seven hour drive for me with my parents.  My husband and children did not come due to the timing and logistics of everything.

I started out the morning picking up my parents, who decided to have a sit down breakfast at their Independent Living Facility.  I have learned when I am traveling with the elderly I just have to go with the flow.  There is no sense of “hurry up” which can feel like a curse, but is actually a blessing in our fast paced world.   They proceeded to introduce me to every single person there, many whom I have met before.  It’s all about relationship.  We could learn something from spending time with the elderly.

I sat down with them at the table.  Table number 17.   I looked at the number and God said, “pay attention.”  I knew it would be an interesting day.

After breakfast we got on the road.  About an hour into the ride my tire blew out on my mini-van.

blow out

We were on Interstate 40, with 18 wheelers flying by, and there was a guard rail and very little room to pull over on my right.  My mom was crying.  I drove a few meters past the guard rail and pulled off the Interstate as best as I could.  But there was a ditch on the right side, and 18 wheelers whizzing by on the left.   I knew I could not exit the vehicle.  My parents cannot walk well and if I tried to have them exit to the right they were at serious risk of falling into the ditch.  Obviously no one wanted to exit on the side with trucks flying by.  I was stuck.

I called for help and was informed that it would be an hour before any tow truck could get there.  Trying to get the spare tire would require emptying walkers and wheelchairs onto i40 and did not appear to be an option.

walkers and wheelchairs

The only thing we could do was wait.  Wait for rescue.  I felt like Moses at the Red Sea when God tells him to “be still, I will fight for you.” (Exodus 14:14)

My parents and I decided to pray the Rosary as we waited for the tow truck driver.  We got 3 decades in when he arrived.   Andy, our tow truck driver, looked like he wasn’t old enough to drive.  He reminded my of Skylar our boat captain back during the storms in Florida.  God keeps sending me children to rescue me.  I think he is trying to tell me something.

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

Andy seemed to have no problem walking around on the side of the interstate with trucks whizzing by about 24 inches from him.  I waited for a break in traffic and I hopped out to talk to him.  Together Andy and I assessed the situation.  There really was no good way to get us out of there because of my parents and he didn’t have room for all of us in his cab anyway.  He called the powers that be.  They told him to hook us up to the tow truck while we remained in our vehicle.  So Andy, the child, got under my car with his cable and pulled us up onto his tow truck, chaining us securely.

tow truck

Andy, true to the name of the Apostle first called, fished us out of the situation we were in.  The wind blew fiercely making the cable creak, which in turn made my mom and I cry.  My dad proceeded to lead the next two decades of the Rosary, just as calm as could be.  I loved having my father with me in that moment.  We drove a few miles to a tire shop where Andy dropped us off.  We were safe.  And God had put me in yet another situation where I had no control and whispered, “Trust.”  I couldn’t help but think of our church, which seems in disarray from scandal and ambiguity.  Like a ship stuck in stormy water waiting for rescue.

“so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” Hebrews 13:6

We were at a small mom and pop tire shop awaiting my car to be repaired.  The woman who was helping us started telling us about her nephew.  He was born with half of a heart.  She said, yes he was born November 17 and his heart transplant was July 17.  Seventeen is his lucky number.  And God said “pay attention.”  

I was paying attention, and I asked God, “what is it you want me to see about 17?”

So I actually looked up on my phone 17 and scripture.

And it popped up and said;

Number 10 is a symbol of perfect order, while number 7 is a symbol of perfection.  It is also written in the bible that the next prophet who will come to earth will be Elijah and he will be actually the representation of Jesus.  He will restore all the things on the planet and he will make a victory.

Now I have no idea what site this was on.  But after I read this, God just said, “Spirit of Elijah and the double portion.”

My friend Lucy has spoken to me about the Spirit of Elijah before, but she is much more schooled than I am and I honestly didn’t always know what exactly she was talking about.  But on this day I did.

God was pointing out disorder to me in our church.  You see, by virtue of my being an RCIA Coordinator, I had noticed that the order of the Sacraments in RCIA is actually different than the order of the Sacraments for our baptized Catholic Children in our Diocese.

Let me back up a bit and remind you of the story of Elijah.  Elijah is with Elisha and Elisha realizing Elijah will soon pass away asks Elijah if he can have a double portion of his spirit (which would give him the ability to perform more miracles).  Elijah tells him if Elisha sees him ascend, he will receive that double portion.  And Elijah does indeed ascend and God bestows the double portion.

We see this also at Pentecost.  After Jesus ascends, this is when the Spirit comes down upon the Apostles.  We already know they are Baptized with water and the Spirit, and it is this event that the church points to for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  A double portion of the Spirit, Baptism and Confirmation.  In both cases the ascending brings the Pentecost, brings the double portion.  And it is here we see the Birthday of the Church. Baptism and Confirmation take place as the first two of the 3 initiation Sacraments.  The third is the Eucharist.

And I realized we have it out of order.  I think all but maybe 10 Dioceses do.  It has to do with restored order.  Baptism, then Confirmation, then Eucharist.  This is the order we follow in RCIA, but it is not the order my children or myself received the Sacraments in.  Giving our children Eucharist and withholding Confirmation is like giving a child a brand new car without any gas to get where they’re going.  We had stopped expecting the Holy Spirit to act.  Of course God can make order out of our disorder, and he has in some souls, but it begs the question, why was this ever changed in the first place?  RCIA and a sparse few Diocese’s are the only places I know of that order this properly.  And I come across so many Catholics who are not fully initiated into the church.  They have no double portion and so they are marked in the Kingdom of God, but access to the gifts He wants to pour out upon them has not happened.  God can make anything happen, but he seeks our cooperation.  We have not cooperated.  Why are we making it harder?  It’s like having half of the heart of God, like the woman’s nephew who needed a new heart.  We need the whole heart of God in us.

The Holy Spirit at Confirmation bestows the gifts of wisdom, counsel, knowledge, piety, fortitude, understanding and fear of the Lord.  Children are open to the Spirit in a way older teens and adults often are not.  WHY IN THE WORLD ARE WE NOT BESTOWING THIS UPON THEM EARLY?  Be like little children.  These gifts beget other gifts.  Discernment of Spirits, prophecy, healing, mercy… the list goes on.  GOD IS WAITING TO POUR IT OUT.

When we receive Baptism, then Confirmation, then Eucharist, in proper order we become disposed to the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy in the World.  And the world becomes better.

The perfect example of this is the Blessed Mother. Though she had no need of baptism by virtue of her Immaculate Conception, it is at the Annunciation that the Spirit comes upon her. This enables her to become the living Sanctuary of the Eucharist. God in her. A daughter of God the Father, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, and the Mother of the Son. All things relationship, in proper order. Baptism restores us to God’s Kingdom as children. Confirmation bestows upon us the gifts we were meant to receive as brothers and sisters of the Kingdom and Eucharist enables us to bring God’s love to the world as a spiritually mature giver, bringing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Bringing about a Mystical Body, a communion of Saints. These things belong together in proper order. We have disordered them. Mary shows us how to be restored. Restore order.

When I went to Latin Mass for the first time in 20 years, I felt as though God scrolled me through time.  And that the church would walk the same Passion as Christ.  That there were parallels in the actual Path of Christ and His Passion and in the path of the Passion of the Church.  Mary, who is the Mother of the Church and the archetype of what the church should be fits into this.  I felt as though the Annunciation was like the Ascension bringing down the Spirit.

So when I look at Mary down through the centuries I realize she has been appearing all over the place.  We have many approved church apparitions, and some still under investigation.  She has been walking with the church.  Walking with us to our Passion.  One where we surrender to the will of God as Jesus did.  Though we have known for a long time she was Assumed by God into Heaven, it was not declared Dogma until November 1, 1950.  Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the Doctrine of the Assumption of Mary.  There’s another number for you, 70.  Also made of 10 and 7.  Order and Perfection (of love).  These things were never meant to be separated.  There are those who made order their god, and those who misconstrue love to be without truth.  But God says no to both of these.  And God will reorder things to His perfect love.  Everything a movement back to His Divine Will.  We just have to surrender and listen.  And we must wait for the double portion to renew our hurting church.  The Spirit of Elijah.  What an exciting time to be alive.

I think of this age of the double portion as an Illumination of Conscience.  I actually pray for it.  One where the Spirit convicts us of who we are in God’s eyes.  Conviction is not condemnation, it shows us our sin, while still knowing we are loved.  Confession and forgiveness is the recognition of the promise of God at our Baptism and the openness to be filled with the gifts given at Confirmation.  He wipes away our sin.  And we can be poured upon with gifts as we receive the Eucharist and have God in us.  Thus we are totally whole.  The epoch of Mary and the Holy Spirit.

This was the fruit of my paying attention to the number 17 and the excursion with my parents.  We continued on to the funeral, all toll it took us about 12 hours for what should have been our 7 hour car ride.  The funeral was beautiful. Reba died after receiving the Sacrament of the sick with all her kids and husband praying around her. Her husband who is 97 led the Rosary and the kids said there were more Our Fathers than Hail Mary’s because of his memory but they felt certain God understood. It was a VERY Catholic funeral.  She left behind her husband, 6 kids, their spouses, 18 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.  It was exactly as it should be.  The eulogy was Amazing.  All about her life as a Catholic and how she led Maryland Right to Life.

It was a life well lived and filled with relationship.  I will miss her.

In loving Memory of Reba Marie Ransom Ferris

September 12, 1930 – September 13, 2019

reba-ferris-charlotte-nc-obituary

 

 

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

The Mystical Body and the Liturgy

Mystical Body of Christ

 

If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ – which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church  – we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression “the Mystical Body of Christ” – an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers.  Pope Pius XII paragraph 13 Mystici Corporis Christi

I was at daily Mass the other day participating and observing my surroundings.  I noticed how different people made all kinds of different gestures.  Some raising hands in the air.  Others off to their sides.  Still others put there hands in a traditional prayer position.  I felt God tell me interiorly how much he loves when people pray sincerely with their hearts and how much he loves each of these people.

Y’all know how much I dislike Liturgy wars, and how much I think God is looks at each individual heart.  But you also know what I think about the Latin Mass.   But I go to a Novus Ordo parish and I love it very much and feel called to be there.  And it was in a Novus Ordo Mass that I was observing the gesturing of these sincere and God loving people.  But sometimes I do ache inside.  The noise level often is not conducive to prayer because the silent reverence seems to have been lost.  Additionally, I love Latin. Latin is an anointed language since it was nailed to the Cross of Christ.  Ecclesiastical Latin is probably the only language that hasn’t been corrupted with garbage.  It hasn’t been pornofied by our culture.  Though I have often heard that in the old Mass people were just spectators while the Priest did all the work, I never actually looked at it this way.  To me, it is one movement of the Mystical Body through the head of the Body, the Priest.  I found it to be a very active participation that is communal because the interior is aligned towards God moving through the Priest.   One additional thing, recently I learned that the tabernacles used to be veiled.  Given my experience with my veil, I found this odd that we changed this.  I say all this, while at the same time recognizing the beautiful things that can take place at the Novus Ordo Mass.  I really do try not to judge.

I was not thinking about any of these things I just mentioned when I finished Mass and prayed the Rosary in Adoration.  I felt God suddenly pouring over me about the Liturgy.  I am not a liturgist, so I always hesitate to post these things, but felt convicted today to do so.  As always when I write in my journal I write as if God is speaking to me directly.  If the Magisterium of the church was to come out and say what I have written in wrong, then they are correct and I am wrong.  Please discern that as you read what I wrote.  I post it now because I feel it is important for our times.  I do not write this as a judgment of anyone or anything.  But it is a message for Priests and leaders.

September 18, 2019 – Feast of Saint Joseph Cupertino

Beloved Lily of the Father,

Do you not see that you are walking backwards?

The progress of the world does not advance the cause of God.

I am the HEAD of the MYSTICAL BODY.

My Priests are in me, directing the movement of the body in worship.

But many have been derelict in their duty.

The body is disjointed and dysautonomic. 

Instead of drawing nearer they make gods of themselves each moving individually instead of with ME who is present in the Priest.

We are ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC.  We are not acting this way.

People are not letting go and letting God.  They try to control what is not theirs to control.

There is no TRUST in me.  JESUS I TRUST IN YOU.

Priests who have acquiesced their duty have let the evil one in.  Woe to them.

In worship the hands and feet should not be moving as the HEAD.  The keys of the Kingdom will be lost because of this.  But as the Spirit guides, He restores.

ONE MYSTICAL BODY ACTIVE TOGETHER GUIDED BY THE HEAD.

My Priests have unveiled the tabernacle, bringing Apocalypse on the Church.

The Lord disciplines him whom he loves.

My Priests, do not be illegitimate children.

BE SONS.

Discipline yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness and roots out bitterness.

Be careful not to make order your god.  It is for this reason I have allowed the unveiling.  I AM GOD. 

The earth shook while I was on the cross.

But with this unveiling, I will shake not only the earth but heaven.

What is not shaken will remain standing like my Mother.

Those who enter the sanctuary of Divine Life through her to me will make Satan their footstool.

Totally unified as a vine to the TREE OF LIFE.

I AM a consuming fire of GLORY.

Cherubim surround you and impart wisdom for these times.

(Redacted)

Be merciful to the disordered and trust that I will reorder them with your prayers and supplications.

In the beginning they were made male and female, made to fit together, woven by their creator.

I will cut out the parts of the body that bring death.

Imitate the leaders who speak the will of God and take no offense at my TRUTH which is LOVE.

The heavenly Jerusalem awaits as the city on the hill burns down.

Psalm 33:18

  • Your Divine Spouse

 

Posted in Catholic | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

The Virtue of Mary’s Motherhood- Audio

 

Rosa Mystica

Rosa Mistica by Francisco Laporta Valor – 1894

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

I was asked to speak at a retreat this weekend at the Bethany House.  My talk was on the virtue of Mary’s Motherhood.  There is a lot of personal witness in this story that was hard to tell, but I felt it needed to be told.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments