Mary Undoer of Knots

Christ came to bring JOY;

Joy to children, joy to parents,

Joy to families and friends,

Joy to the sick and elderly,

Joy to all humanity.

In a true sense, JOY is the keynote message of Christianity,

And the recurring motif of the Gospels.

Go, therefore, and become Messengers of Joy!

~ Pope John Paul II

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Value of One Priest & Two Regular Joe's In The New Evangelization








       All life is intrinsically valuable, for no less of a reason than the simple fact that every human person is made in the image and likeness of God.  Every single human being is created by Love, for Love.  Yet in some worldly circles, the life of a priest is considered to be one of little or no value.  In these same circles, you may find many a misunderstanding about the call to the priesthood and the call to the celibate life.  In a society where contraception has come between men and women as a way to usurp God’s authority as the Creator of life, and where many seek to redefine marriage to be anti-life and anti-creation, the value of a man who sees things a little differently and chooses to live a life of self-sacrifice makes no sense to many.  And for those priests who enter religious orders and take vows of poverty, forget it!  No sex, no kids, no wife AND no money??   It’s downright counter-cultural!

So what is the true value of a priest?  Well, let us begin with another question:  What is the value of a soul?  I am not speaking of the precise value of a priest’s soul, but of the value of a regular Joe’s soul.  That is not to say that one is more important than another, for all have infinite value to our Creator, but let us ask instead, what significance does the role of a priest possess if he can be the instrument God uses to save just one or two souls in the course of his priesthood?  And what importance do those laypeople souls possess if they follow their baptismal call to holiness and mission?  How important are just one priest and two lay people in the New Evangelization?  How important are YOU to the New Evangelization and cooperating with the Holy Spirit to bring the people in your life to Jesus?

My own spiritual journey was not unlike many people I meet.  Born around the time of Vatican II, I find that many of my contemporaries lived in homes where religion was present, but confused.  Misinformation abounded, and many of us went on to ignore our faith in college.  It was not until after college, coming into our own as adults, that we began to revisit the idea of faith, and for many of us, through adversity or through the ups and downs of life itself, we found ourselves drawn to God in a new way.  As He always does, God used these moments as opportunities for great conversion, and we became what is often termed as ‘re-verts’ to the faith.  My reversion, return to the Church and setting of my heart on fire for God was, (I am sure), the result of many prayers of long gone, rosary-prayin’ grandmothers, faithful friends, and Holy-Spirit-driven opportunities for grace.  But there was one priest who was the instrument God used to ‘close the deal’ and bring me back to a life of grace and continuous conversion.

Father Peter O’Rourke was a fairly new priest when he showed up at my office looking for me to volunteer to play the organ.  He was new in town and needed an organist for his new parish and had heard that I was a musician and could play.  I wondered if he also heard I had not darkened the doorway of a Catholic Church in many years?  But after a nice lunch and chat about what brought him to my home town, I relented, saying, “Father, I can help you out, but I can’t come every week.”  The thought of giving up my Sunday sleep-in every weekend did not amuse me.  Little did I know at the time, that God was using this man in a powerful way, and that Father O’Rourke was exactly the feisty kind of priest I needed to get my sorry butt back into a pew and get to know Jesus in a way I had not known Him before. 

Over the next few months, I may have missed Mass a couple of times.  But Father O’Rourke didn’t complain.  He just kept showing up at my office once in awhile for an impromptu lunch, where we would discuss faith matters and business and I would argue with him ‘til I was blue in the face.  And I wanted to win.  But every time we fought about this or that, I would research the issue online and buy books and grow ever more hungry for the Truth.  To my great surprise, he was right every time.  And over the next few years, I began to see the genius of Catholicism, and my soul was ignited with a desire for all the world to know what I had learned.  No more ‘cafeteria Catholicism’ for me.  I wanted it all, 110% Catholic.  And this new direction was due, in large part, to the prayers and commitment of Father O’Rourke.  This is still true, more than a decade later, when this dear priest continues to pray for me every day, and is still only a phone call away when I need help on the journey.     

A year or two into my reversion, Father O’Rourke asked if I would go to a Cursillo weekend, and the fire grew stronger.  I could no longer deny it --- I knew I had to bring this information and the love of God and His Church to everyone I knew.  It seemed to me that people simply had a misunderstanding, and if I could clear it up, they would be like me and rejoice in the knowledge of truth that this incredible priest had brought to me in word, deed and the sacraments.  Of course it was not as easy as walking around telling what I knew, and so I began, learning and sharing with family and friends and then clients and colleagues and anyone who would listen.  I did my best to pay attention to the Holy Spirit, and cooperate in quiet ways, not so quiet ways and in prayer.  I read the gospels and tried to follow the example of Christ by authentically loving people, enemies included.  I can not tell you what is in the hearts and souls of anyone I meet on a daily basis, but if I can be the instrument that cooperates with God to pierce even a pin-hole of light into their darkness, then maybe that is all God needs me for that day.  If He wants more, I am trying to listen and ready to go and do whatever He tells me to do.  It was God and Father O’Rourke who did that for me, and so anyone who gets anything good from me, has them to thank.

There have been other heaven-sent priests in my life.  And from each one, I have learned something new.  By way of example, I offer Father John Chmil, who in his peaceful, contemplative witness, taught me the same, and he hardly had to even say a word about it.  His example was enough, as I learned obedience and trust to a greater degree by watching the way he handled adversity and trials.  I wish I was as good as him, but I am working on it. 

I could say the same of Father Chris Sahd, who I never had as a Pastor, but only spoke to a few times regarding vocations when he was the diocesan vocation director.  There is a peace and love that emanates from him that is nothing less than Jesus Himself living within this dear priest.  My current Pastor, Father Ed Michelini is yet another great example and companion on the journey.  He is a great teacher, and I see how he humbly teaches great truths of the Catholic faith, but also stands up strongly when the faith and religious liberty and the unborn are threatened.  He is a tireless worker in the vineyard, and seems always to be bringing Christ to parishioners and strangers alike.  All these men have greatly increased the likelihood of my continuing on the journey, as God uses them every day to make straight my path and yours.

If you are 40+ years old, you may remember a shampoo commercial, I think it was from the 1970s.  I do not remember the brand, but it said something about telling your friends how great the product was, and that if they would tell their friends, and so on, and so on, and so on, then everyone would be better for having this shampoo.  And as they said it, the pictures multiplied over the screen, so that it would seem the whole world could be using this incredible new shampoo in a matter of a few conversations.  This is the result of what is known as exponential growth.  Here is how it works.

If one priest, during the course of his priesthood, was able to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and be the instrument for converting just two souls during his lifetime—just two—And those two souls took heed of their baptismal call to holiness and mission and cooperated with the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus to just two souls, and those four souls brought two souls each to Jesus and those 8 souls did the same, and so on, and so on, and so on……..Then in just 30 steps—thirty—over a billion souls would be brought to Christ through the initiative of that one small priest.  One billion, seventy-three million, seven hundred forty-one thousand, eight hundred twenty-three souls could find their way to Jesus.  Can you imagine?
                     1

                     2

                     4

                     8

                   16

                   32

                   64

                 128

                 256

                 512

              1,024

              2,048

              4,096

              8,192

            16,384

            32,768

            65,536

          131,072

          262,144

          524,288

       1,048,576

       2,097,152

       4,194,304

       8,388,608

     16,777,216

     33,554,432

     67,108,864

   134,217,728

   268,435,456

+ 536,870,912

1,073,741,823

 

Father Cassian Yuhaus was a beautiful, holy priest.  He lived a humble life at St Ann’s Passionist Monastery at the basilica in Scranton.  Who would have known that this dear, brilliant, unassuming, frail man, with an extraordinary love for the Church, had worked side by side with Popes and religious all around the world just a short time ago?  He was friends with Pope John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and he probably knew Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Benedict XVI.  He worked with religious orders worldwide and promoted the cause of Servant of God, Theodore Foley.  He knew Padre Pio and Mother Teresa.  And in his humility he knew me, a person nobody knows at the Vatican or even the Chancery, a person who sits alone in the pew on Sunday.  And yet somehow God brought us together, and this humble saint of a priest cared about me and gave me abundant spiritual direction in the last years of his life.  How blessed I was to know this dear man who helped me on the journey and brought me ever closer to Jesus in his words and in his final suffering.  Little old me received Jesus in many ways from this man, and now I bring what I have learned to others, in word and deed, as best as I can.  But I am just one person—He gave this same help to nuns and priests and brothers around the world who have a far greater impact than I could ever hope to have.  What was the value of this dear priest’s soul when it was breathed into life by our Creator when he was just a tiny little baby in his mother’s womb?  Our Father knew the value.  He created Father Cassian because He loved Him.  And he knew the impact this one small life would have on the world.  And even though Father Cassian has been born into eternal life and met his Beloved Creator face to face, his work for souls continues, and his impact on this earthly plane will last forever in the exponential growth of the seeds he has planted. 

What is the value of a soul?  It is infinite, immeasurable.  Do you realize the value of your own soul?  Of the mission and plan God has for you to help Him in the mission to bring all souls back to Him, so that not one should be lost?  Can you be the instrument that God uses to inspire and save two souls?  Maybe God has even more in mind for you. 

You are beloved by God.  You have a mission in the New Evangelization.  Will you be a planter of seeds and allow God to someday show you how the seeds developed over time, and the importance of your participation?  Or will you let the garden go and let it turn to weeds?  Your soul was made for a purpose—to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  You are made to know Him, to love him, and to serve Him in this world, so you will be happy with Him forever in heaven.  Let us strive together to be two regular Joe's who do our part for the Kingdom, so that one day we will hear, Well done, my good and faithful servant!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Viva Il Papa!


We have a Pope! Habemus Papam!

      I don’t know about you, but these words fill my heart with joy! And this pope in particular—WOW! Thanks be to God! I am already deeply in love with this dear Papa of ours. And so are a lot of people.

      What makes this man so special? What is it about him that fills me with glee and hope and excitement for the future of the Church? I mean, I have loved our previous popes, and knew them to be our Vicars of Christ on earth, but this dear man seems different. Is it just me? Or does this man, in his uncommon humility and service, exemplify the Jesus we know in the gospels? Our hearts respond to him, because he is already bringing Jesus to us in his powerful example, with barely a word. And it is not that other popes have not also done this, but there is just something different. Can you feel it?

      I was soooo happy that Pope Francis was not one of the ‘Vegas picks,’ so to speak. Watching TV—even EWTN—made the conclave seem like the ‘sausage making’ they talked about last year in Congress. I hated to watch it, and often turned down the sound, waiting for the smoke. The pundits, and even some of the priests, made the conclave seem like politics and factions and decisions based on the notions of men. Barely a scintilla of what I heard actually mentioned the Holy Spirit being responsible for the choice and directing the hearts of the cardinals to pick the man that heaven itself had in mind. Seeing a cardinal (who was unknown to most of the world), walk out on to the balcony, made me feel that this decision came from the hearts of men in tune with the Holy Spirit, and not voting with their own agendas in mind. And THEN, when he made that deep bow, asking the blessing of God by the prayers of the people, and all fell silent, I could not help but pray and cry in thanksgiving for this humble, beautiful Shepherd. My friends, we are BLESSED.


      Once Pope Francis left the balcony, I watched ABC news and EWTN simultaneously, waiting to learn more about our new Holy Father. But having my weekly prayer group meeting that night with 3 of my dearest friends, I decided that I would bake a cake to celebrate the occasion instead. Since I could not help but sing and pray, I ran around the house doing just that, while assembling the ingredients, and decorating the cake with, Habemus Papam! I was thrilled when my friends showed up, and everyone had the same idea. Our simple weekly prayer group turned into a spontaneous celebration, with lasagna, pear gorgonzola salad, crusty bread, ├ęclairs, chocolate covered strawberries, wine, champagne and Pope cake! All this for the love of just 4 ‘Jesus, Mary and Pope-lovin’ girls!’ I love bein’Catholic!

      Something is changing. The Spirit is moving dramatically in the world. Several of us felt a strong urge to pray for the conclave during the hour before the white smoke appeared. I have no doubt that there were many around the world who heard this same call. It was not the average passing thought of, “I should pray for’ this or that, but a strong urge to pray deeply, right then and there, for the conclave. It is interesting to note, that there were cardinals who said before the conclave, that these are ‘dangerous times.’ And if I have learned anything in my life, especially by studying and praying the Gospels, the best attribute to have during dangerous times is not brute strength, but quite the opposite---authentic humility. Jesus had it. Mary had it. Mother Teresa had it. And their lives in Christ changed the world.

      Pope Francis is the chosen Shepherd for this time in history. He is alter Christus. I have no doubt that his life in Jesus, through Mary, will bring great grace and blessing to the Church. Let us make it our commitment to pray more than ever for this dear pope of ours. Viva il Papa!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Are YOU Ready?


Anything worth doing, is worth doing well, or so the saying goes. Therefore, if we are going to try to make something of our Lenten observance, we should consider now, what will bring us closer to our Beloved Savior, and not leave to chance, what a well thought-out plan can do to help us make the best of this most beautiful, penitential time of the Church.

If we are going to commit ourselves to getting the most out of Lent, then we must first recall what is the purpose of this period of Lent, and how might we fulfill this purpose in a way that is unique to the needs of our individual souls, as well as to the world at large. Scripturally speaking, prayer, fasting and almsgiving are an ideal means for obtaining closer union with our Creator, and they make a great place to start in our consideration of how we might rejuvenate our prayer life, enlivening or strengthening our faith and the practice thereof.

Let’s begin with prayer. How can we pray more? Is it merely a matter of time for you? Has setting aside daily time solely for God been lacking in your life lately? Consider scheduling God into your life, by getting up earlier, staying up later or giving up something that takes time away from Him. If you endeavor to keep this daily appointment with God, you may well find that this habit of conversing with Him becomes one you will never give up, even long after Lent is over.

How can we enrich our souls by praying differently? Are you someone who has set prayers to recite? Maybe your prayer is more about you talking at God and never letting Him get a word in edgewise? Would some time in silence benefit your relationship with the Lord, giving Him the chance to minister to your soul and bring you peace? Spending time in silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament is always a good idea. Or maybe you are someone who would benefit from praying some of the Liturgy of the Hours or adding more of the ‘hours’ to your prayer life? The Office of Readings is a great way to read scripture every day, and to also read a page or two from the writings of the Fathers of our Church. If you don’t have the books to do this, you can find the prayers online here. Maybe you are so busy, that the best you can do some days is to make your work a prayer? Endeavor to live every moment of your life in the presence of God, by keeping Him on your mind as you work and offering your work and daily chores to Him for all of His (and your) intentions.

What about spiritual practices like going to confession and attending daily Mass? Receiving the Eucharist is food for the soul, and what better time to feed your hungry soul with a little more ‘soul food,’than in the days leading up to the commemoration of the ultimate sacrifice of our beloved Jesus, when he literally gave His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity for our salvation. And speaking of the ultimate sacrifice, how about attending the Stations of the Cross at your parish? Maybe find a companion book or booklet on the stations, and spend time meditating on the Way of the Cross and what each step means to your life. If you are looking for some inspiration for your meditations, you can find Blessed Anna Catherine Emmerich’s ‘Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,’free online here.

Fasting is another great tool for tuning up your prayer life and growing closer to the Lord. The Church asks us to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but you might be surprised to see what happens in your spiritual life, when you add another day, here and there. Giving up the daily comfort of so much food, actually draws your heart and mind to thoughts of God, and He always blesses this small sacrifice in ways far beyond what we give.

Fasting could also be fasting for the duration of Lent on just one thing that you really like. Many people fast from eating sweets or drinking coffee, things like that. But you could also fast from doing something you like, for instance, giving up TV or computer games or Facebook. Ever time you think of doing the thing you’ve given up or you miss doing it, your mind is immediately directed to Jesus, the reason for your sacrifice. It may seem small, but every glance toward heaven is a step closer to the ultimate Lover of our souls.

Fasting also gives us extra time for something else. If we give up something that takes too much of our time and is not good for moving us closer to God, we can replace that thing with something that brings us greater understanding, such as reading scripture and spiritual books, listening to uplifting podcasts or CDs on faith issues, spending time in adoration or whatever helps you, as a unique child of God, to bring you in to closer union with Father, Son and holy Spirit.

Finally, we consider almsgiving. Most people consider almsgiving as a matter of giving freely to support the poor. But there is more to it than that. Perhaps you can consider the works of mercy and give to the poor in other ways you have never thought of trying. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison or in hospital are just a few of the things you can do to bring Jesus to the most vulnerable. Giving money is one thing, but giving of yourself is entirely different, and we should be doing it every day. Maybe someone in your own family is living in a poverty of spirit that could really benefit from your presence, easing their lonliness. Maybe you have an idea for reaching out to people in your local nursing home. Maybe this Lent will be the time when we offer ourselves to the One who offered Himself, by giving of ourselves in greater and more meaningful ways.




And the king will say to them in reply,

‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ MATTHEW 25:37-40


Let’s make this the best Lent of our lives and be truly ready to welcome our Risen Lord when Easter comes and we can at last proclaim, He is risen! He is risen indeed.

www.SentByTheSpirit.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Angels Among Us

           I have a great love for my guardian angel. Too many people forget they even have a guardian angel after they leave their childhood behind. But from the day of our conception, God has given us this great gift. This is the story of my most recent and wonderful encounter with my dear angel.

      On the day after Christmas, we had a huge snowstorm here in NE Pennsylvania. I could not avoid driving, as my father slipped on ice when the storm began, and broke his leg, needing some help and a ride home from the hospital.
 
      The ride to his home, 5 miles away from the hospital, was treacherous. I was driving his car, with him in the passenger seat, and the roads literally had not been plowed. It was dark, and all I could do was follow the tracks ahead of me. It was a long, slow, white-knuckle ride, with 6+ inches of snow on the road. All I could do was follow the tracks of the last vehicle to travel this way.
 
      By the time we arrived and got him settled into his house so I could go back home, there were another 2 inches on the car. I again cleaned the snow off, and as I backed out of the driveway, I said a prayer and asked my guardian angel to keep the car on the road. I had not gone far, when from out of nowhere, I noticed a vehicle in front of me, just far enough away that I could not identify it. This was odd, because I saw no vehicles pass me when I backed out on to the road. It had seemed completely deserted.

      The snow was perfectly even on my side of the road, but it did not seem like snow, as it was seemingly pristine and smooth to the ground, with the 8+ inches on the other side of the road still very visible with deep tire tracks. It was snowing like crazy, so this did not make sense. At first, I thought this vehicle must have been a plow, since I was the first one on this perfectly white road, but the path was much wider than a plow. And the vehicle did not look like a plow, with yellow flashing lights on the top and brake lights on the back. All it had was two spotlights on the back, (no brake lights or flashers), one higher and the other lower, guiding me home.
 
      Finally, it dawned on me---How is it that I was driving on this white road with a vehicle in front of me that left no tracks? A plow usually leaves a mess behind it, better than the snow in front of it, yes, but a mess, nonetheless. It was if I was the only one on the road! And what kind of a vehicle has no brake lights? I have never seen a plow with no yellow flashing lights.....So when I got close to my house, I tried to get a better look, thinking I would see better in town with the street lights illuminating the path. When we rounded a bend in the road, coming close to the part of town with lights, I lost sight of the vehicle for about 2 seconds. When I got back on the straightaway, the vehicle was gone--It had completely vanished! I looked right and left and checked all of the parking lots it could have pulled into. But I only lost sight of it for 2 seconds! It could not have travelled fast enough to lose me in that storm.....it simply disappeared when I no longer needed it.
 
      Thanks be to God and my Guardian Angel!
 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Time For A Resolution!




Are you looking for a Meaningful Resolution to start the new year?

Are you tired of the same old resolutions to lose weight and exercise more?

Well look no further! Here are some ideas to help you
exercise your faith by resolving to walk with God!

Resolve to spend time in silence with Jesus, every day.

Turn off the TV and spend less time on the cell phone/computer/Internet. You can’t listen to God if you are too busy listening to other things! Don’t be afraid of the quiet.

Get to know Blessed Mother better. Make a 33-Day Preparation for Consecration with her, relate to her every day in some kind of profound way, read books about her, contemplate her words in the Gospels.

Pray the Rosary often and meditate on the mysteries of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Thank God the Father, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, each day, for all that you can think of that each has done for you or those you love. Develop an attitude of
gratitude.

Resolve to accept little hurts, insults and misunderstandings without an argument or answer back to the one who has hurt you. Instead, resolve to love that person all the more, and offer your acceptance of these little crosses to Mary to give to her Son and to help you become humble, like her.

Resolve to forgive every day, and ask Jesus to forgive those same people who have hurt you.

Fast on something every day and offer it for the conversion of sinners everywhere. You can fast on a specific treat you like, or an activity you like, for example, turning off the TV for the day, skipping a meal, turning off the computer games, etc.

Pray St Gertrude’s prayer and/or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or make some other offering for the Holy Souls in purgatory.

Try to go to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for some time every week.

Try to help someone every day.

Add some or all of the Liturgy of the Hours to your prayer life. Resolve to pray daily morning prayer, or vespers or the office of readings, etc.

Try to pray all throughout the day, by keeping Jesus involved in every aspect of your day.

Pray simple prayers all throughout the day, every time you think about it. You can pray a Hail Mary, a Glory Be or a short prayer like, “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”
Make an examination of conscience each night before bed, and try resolve, with the help of God’s grace, to do better the next day.

Resolve to be Jesus in this world, to everyone you meet. Pray that people will not see you, but will see JESUS in you.



 
 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mary: The Surest and Shortest Way To Jesus

 
          Seven or eight years ago, I made it my New Year’s resolution to stop trying to lose weight.  I decided that dieting was a ridiculous resolution, and I never kept it, so why not make this year more meaningful, spiritually speaking.  So instead, I resolved to get to know Blessed Mother better.  It remains one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
 
          When I embarked on this journey of building a relationship with Blessed Mother, I admit I had the all-too-common view of our dear Mother, seeing her as many do, just another person in the bible, and wondering why we ‘worshipped’ her.  I had listened to too many Protestant friends over the years, telling me that we did, and I thought, well, maybe they were right and knew something that I did not know.  P.S.  -- WE DO NOT WORSHIP MARY. 
 
We love Mary and we honor her because God chose her as someone special.  He chose her to bear His Son, and Jesus, our Savior and King of the Universe, permitted Himself to be a virtual prisoner of her womb for 9 months before entering the world.  He chose her to be the one person whom He would completely depend on for warmth, food, drink, clothing, education, shelter and human love.  He gave Himself to Mary, and if we are to imitate Him, then we must do the same, giving ourselves to this humble, pure Mother of God and Mother of us.
 
That being said, I glibly said to Blessed Mother, while driving to court one day in early January, something like this:  “I have no idea who you are or why you are important, but I am loving this Catholic Church of ours, and since she says you are important and we should love you, I have to try to understand this.  Please help me.”  Well, help me she did!
 
A few weeks later, I resolved to try a 33-Day Preparation for Consecration via St. Louis de Monfort that I had read about.  (You can get free copies of it online – click HERE for more details).  I only did it because I trusted the Church enough to know, that if there were popes saying this was the surest way to Jesus, then I had to at least open my mind to trying it.  So I did.
 
The first time I did it, I only lasted a week or so.  I did not understand what I was reading, and some of what I was reading could not yet break through to my cold, stony heart.  However, as an intellectual, I made the decision to try again a few months later, this time making it a little further.  Then finally, on my 3rd try, I made it from beginning to end, with my consecration date being the Assumption of Mary, August 15th.  Yippee!
 
As I was doing it in those early days of my relationship with Blessed Mother, much of it was an exercise in faith, trusting but not understanding, permitting the graces to flow, but not believing whole heartedly that they would.  Of course that did not stop her from showering grace upon grace on me.  I did not know it then, (although I trusted something would come of it), but those first feeble steps toward her took me many miles closer to her Son.  That’s just the way she is, always bringing us to her Son, always pointing us in the right direction.  Since then, I have made the consecration prep an annual gift to myself, and even added some other days here and there for extra graces.  I am in the middle of another 33-day prep for consecration that will end on January 1st, the feast of Mary, Mother of God.  I can hardly wait! 
 
Fast forward to the beginning of this year.  After giving myself to Mary over and over again in the years which followed, I found myself ready to give myself entirely to her Son by entering a Dominican monastery to become a nun on April 29th .  I was so sure, after a few years of discernment, that this was where I was called to be, that is until everything fell apart on March 19th.   
 
As God would have it, I had begun another 33-day consecration to end on March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation.  I was longing to enjoy that day as another consecration, just 4 weeks prior to entering the monastery and making my own fiat.  But alas, my entrance into the religious life was not meant to be.
 
I did make my consecration on March 25th, and feeling absolutely rejected by God, just days before, I was like a child in the arms of Mary.  I gave her everything, because I could not bear to face Him after such rejection and the confusion and sorrow which followed.  I wrote my own consecration prayer, and even my own ‘psalm’ of longing and mourning.  Oh, I know He did not reject me, but it sure felt like He did.  And I was not ready to come to grips with that, as I wondered what I would do, having given up so much, my business included, to give everything to God.  I did not know it then, but I was being emptied.   I was being purified.
 
In the months that followed, I prayed the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) and meditated on the mysteries of the Rosary.  When I prayed the Psalms and prayers of the office, I felt that if my mouth could say the words, then my soul would eventually catch up.  Since I felt I had nothing left to give God, I gave Blessed Mother every suffering, crying to her to mend this tear in the fabric of my soul.  And that is exactly what she did as I meditated with her on the mysteries of her Son, through the Holy Rosary.  Don’t let anyone tell you this is just repetitive prayer—THIS IS A GIFT FROM GOD.  And this gift brought me to peace and understanding and complete healing. 
 
Through suffering and the help and intercession of Blessed Mother, I was not only made whole again, but she brought me closer to her Son, taught me to trust and surrender, and she made me to know on a much, much deeper level, that God’s way is perfect.  His plan is perfect.  I have learned that I need not worry about tomorrow.  My Mother will not let me stray from the path too far, before pulling me back and scooting me closer to the Throne.  She loves me.  And she loves you, too.  Give her everything.  She will magnify it and give it to God.  At the end of your earthly life, come to heaven with empty hands because you have given it everything to Mary, and she will give you all of her merits and all of the love in her heart in return.  It’s a great deal, really.  Show up to heaven with my meager offerings?  Or show up to heaven with all that Mary gave?  To me, it’s a no-brainer.
 
Totus Tuus – Bl. John Paul II
 
 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An Open Letter: To Everyone I Know Who Does Not Yet Know Jesus



        First of all, let me say, I love you. I love you all from the bottom of my heart. I can not even begin to express what great love I have for you, because in my life, I have learned not just to love by my own will, but through you, I have learned to love you through the eyes of God. And let me tell you something---As much as I love you, He loves you waaaaaayyyyy more than either of us has the capacity to imagine. And so this leads me to the reason for this letter.

        Over the past few years, you know what it has meant to me to give my life to God to become a nun. That has not happened, and I accept that as God’s will. But let me tell you, He has used everyone of you and every bit of this journey to bring me closer to Him. And I still want to give everything I am and everything I have for Him, which is why I want to give Him you, in whatever way I can. I want to bring you to Him in whatever way you and He will permit me. Truth be told, YOU have brought me to Him many, MANY times, when you probably are not even aware of how many times your love, your prayers, your kindness and goodness shown to me have brought me, along with you, right to the center of His Sacred Heart. This is why I want to tell you a few things, common sense things that you probably already know. But sometimes it is good for us to hear them over and over again, at different ages and stages in our lives, as we perceive them differently after experiencing life and walking this journey toward heaven.

        The first thing I want to remind you, is that Jesus is a known man in history, both written history and oral from the time He walked the earth. He was not just made up out of thin air in the past few centuries. While I believe by faith that He is both fully human and fully divine, let us not forget the fact that some things require absolutely no faith. Jesus was and remains a human being recorded in the written history of the world. His life and death were recorded as fact, regardless of whether someone wants to believe that He was resurrected or not.

        The second thing that is important to remember, is that the first followers of Jesus were so convinced of the reality of His life, death and resurrection, that literally thousands died in His name. This continues to this day, even though almost 2,000 years have past since He was crucified, died, buried and rose again in three days. But let’s not jump ahead. Let us ask the question first, would thousands of people willingly give up their lives in the days and weeks and months and years that followed Jesus’ death if he was just any old ‘good person’ or ‘good teacher?’

        Who do you say He is? I know you believe in God, but who do you believe Jesus to be? A good teacher? A good man? A prophet? Well, think about it for a minute. If your answer to the question of ‘who is Jesus’ is that you believe He is a good man who existed in history, then you simply must believe that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior and Lover of your soul. Why must you believe this? Because if He is not all that, then He is a LIAR.

Do you understand what I am saying? You can not be a good man, a good prophet, nor a good teacher, if you spend your entire adult life actively deceiving the Masses into believing you are the Messiah. So He must be one of two things: Either He is who He said He is, or He is a liar. When you put it like that, there can be only one answer. He can not be a good teacher, a good prophet, or a good person unless He is also the promised Savior that He presents Himself to be. A good teacher, a good prophet and a good person could not be considered good if they spent their lives trying to make people believe they were somebody they weren’t. At best, such a person would be considered mentally ill, and at worst, a liar.

        So if you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then what must you do with that belief? You must follow Him and do what He says. Scripture is filled with His instructions for a good life lived in love. How do you know where to follow Him and what to do? Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies. LOVE.

There are many ways to get to know Him and develop a new, deeper relationship with Him. If I could suggest something, begin by getting back to Mass. Learn what is (really) happening in the Mass, and you will never be bored again. All of heaven is there! Listen to the readings (there are more scriptures read in the Mass than any other church I know), listen to the homily and don’t let it stop there.

Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and tell you what to think, what to do. God loves you more than anyone on the planet loves you. Can you begin by offering just a few minutes of every day to Him? He won’t intrude---Are you listening? He WON’T intrude. If you ignore Him, He will let you. He waits to give you everything, but He will not force it on you.

If you give Him your heart, even a few moments of silence directed toward him every day, your life will change forever and you will honor him by your act of love. If you don’t have enough desire to do this, then ASK HIM FOR THE DESIRE to spend time with Him. Ask HIM to increase your love for Him. Ask HIM to wake up your soul to a new understanding of Him so that you long for Him and for Mass and for more, More, MORE! Start today….just open the door to Him, invite Him in and take a step out in faith. Even baby steps overwhelm and move the heart of a Father who sees His beloved child stumble and walk toward Him for the first time in a long time. You have a Daddy Who loves you more than any other you have ever known. He will run to your arms, if only you will let Him in.

        Our life on this planet is just a blip on the radar screen of eternity. We are mere visitors on this planet. This is our chance to get to know God and love God so that we can have eternity with Him in heaven. The evil one (satan) has deceived people into believing the devil does not exist. The evil one has deceived people into believing there is no hell. But if you believe in Jesus, then you must believe what He said. There is a hell, and the path to it is wide and there are many who enter it. But the path to heaven is narrow. When it is your time to end your life on this earth, believe it or not, your own soul will not choose heaven if it has not given it’s life to God. It will not be comfortable to be in His Presence. It is OUR CHOICE to live the way we live each day, whether good, bad or indifferent. Don’t let indifference to God now lead you to fear His Presence in the life to come.

God is pure love and mercy and no one who reaches out to Him will be turned away if they die in His friendship. You never know when your last day will be. You could breathe your last breath after reading this letter. Only God knows the days you have left, and He longs for you to find your way to Him before it is too late. Come back to Him, with all your heart. It is not enough to say you are saved. Every step you make is either a journey toward Him or a journey away from Him. There is no standing still in the spiritual life. If you are standing still, then you are moving away from Him. Period. You must move forward. You can not save yourself. Accept this and make a decision for God. He longs to be a part of your life. He longs to be a part of your family. He longs to help you make decisions and inspire you to every good thing He has planned for your life. Please let Him in, more and more each day.

        Have you ever seen the picture of Jesus knocking on the door? There is no doorknob on His side. If He is to come in, it will only be because you answered the call and invited Him in. Come to Mass. Receive him in the Eucharist. Give Him your days, hours and minutes. Give him your love. Give Him your life.


Will you answer the door?



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Consoling Our Beloved


 
I would like to share with you, an idea for meditation on the Sorrowful mysteries of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I try to pray the rosary every day.  For me, the prayers are like a mantra, supporting and intensifying the mysteries that are brought to mind, bringing peace, inspiration and answers, praise, thanksgiving and petitions.  Sometimes, I have to admit, that it has been hard for me to pray the Sorrowful mysteries, as there have been times in my life when I have chosen other mysteries that I felt more fitting to my situation, for example, praying the Joyful mysteries when I am struggling, looking for inspiration on how to say yes to the Lord and to surrender and accept everything He permits to happen in my life the way Mary did at the Annunciation.  Those were times when I was just too sad to add insult to injury by adding the Lord’s Passion to my plate.  But I was wrong.  It is in the Lord’s Passion where we find comfort and understanding and all things good.  And so now I try dutifully to pray His Passion, at least on Tuesdays and Fridays.

About a month ago, I was preparing to pray on a Friday, and I drifted into my old thinking for a minute, wondering if I was up to the intensity of pondering the agony, the scourging, the thorns and the Cross.  And then I thought, if our Beloved can endure it, I can at least think about it for a few minutes, pondering the mystery of it all.  But I did not want to simply think about it, pondering what it meant for me in my life.  I was feeling selfish.  Then the thought came to me of how there is no time in eternity, that all of time as we know it, is always present before the Father, whether past, present or future.  The nativity, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the future are always a part of the mind of our all knowing God and Father.  It made me imagine that I could console Jesus on every step of His Passion today, even in in 2012.  I could meditate on what I would say to Him if I was there with Him, what I would do and how I would feel.  I believe that this type of meditation truly does console the heart of Jesus, whether in retrospect as a meditation giving Him glory, or even in real time as He suffered, since He knew all of us when He gave His life for us, and knew how we would receive Him in our lives, in our time on Earth.

You may try this and find yourself standing away from Christ, looking at Him and praying your words of thanksgiving or sorrow or repentance to Him.  Or you may do whatever comes naturally to your own personality.  But for me, I imagined what I would say to Him if I saw Him suffering in the Garden, and I said these words in my heart and in my soul as the Hail Mary’s were spoken by my lips.  I caressed His holy and tortured face, I ran my fingers through His hair and I told Him I was sorry.  I told Him I wished he did not have to do this for me, and that I would do anything for Him, whatever He asked. 

When I saw Him about to be scourged, all I could say is, I’m so sorry.  Forgive me.  I begged Him to hold my glance so that I could offer words of Love as He Himself was tortured by hatred.  I tried to endure the emotion of seeing such a horrific offense being perpetrated against the One Who is my Beloved, so that I could stay with Him for every painful stripe He received.

After He was crowned with thorns and taunted as some counterfeit king, I could only fall to my knees and kiss His feet and hands, reminding Him, that to me and many generations to follow, He is true King, the King of our hearts and the King of the world.  We know the Truth.  Long live Christ the King! 

When I later saw Him, the heavy cross dropped onto His back, I could only mouth the words, I LOVE YOU.  I am here.  When He fell, I could see the wounds on His shoulder and His knees, as the weight of the cross pushed Him heavy into the ground.  I looked Him in the eye and kissed the wound on His shoulder, saying, You are loved.  I wish this didn’t have to happen, staying with Him for His journey to Golgotha 

Finally, when He was nailed to the Cross, I met His eyes with tears in my own, and I stood with Mary, John and Magdalene, comforting the human Jesus the best that I could, with my presence and my understanding of Who He IS, all the while knowing that this fully Divine Son of the Living God already knew.

What does a meditation like this do for God?  I believe it did comfort Him in the Garden.  What does a meditation like this do for us?  It brings us even closer in union to the Lover of our Souls, as we express our deepest feelings for Him, aided by our blessed Mother of the Holy Rosary.