“I Have Seen the Lord!”

Magdalene.jpgToday, July 22nd, is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, who is often referred to as the Apostle to the apostles because, as we read in John 20:11-18, she was the first to encounter the risen Christ after His crucifixion and announce it to the apostles.

Mary Magdalene is very often referred to as a reformed prostitute, but there is no Scriptural basis for this. What the Scriptures do say is that Jesus had exorcised her of seven demons. We may gloss over this as we read Scripture, or may not be aware of it, but consider it now.

Many people today do not even believe the devil is real, much less that Satan can influence human events, threaten us, harass, or possess us. For example, Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, who is the superior general of the Jesuits, recently said in interview, “We have formed symbolic figures such as the devil to express evil.” His intent and meaning was clearly that the devil is not a person, and is merely a personification by people of faith to express the reality of our own bad choices, whether individually or as cultures.

However, the Gospels and the Catechism could not be more clear that Satan is real. He is a fallen angel; other angels followed him, and we should not be afraid, but we do need to be prudent and take up our spiritual weapons in battling and defeating these enemies. As angels, they are superior in intellect to humans, and we cannot rely on our own cleverness or resourcefulness. There are so many accounts of Jesus exorcising demons and referring to Satan (the Father of Lies) in the Gospels, that I cannot even fathom how Fr. Abascal can defend his statement or stance. Indeed, it is why Jesus came — “Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). I also know from experience that anyone who determines to seriously embark on the path of prayer will very soon encounter this enemy, and do battle with him and his minions.

I have a book, Unbound by Neal Lozano, about deliverance. The title of chapter 2 is, “Satan has a plan for your life.” This is powerful, and it’s a flip of the typical statement of faith, “God has a plan for your life.” Both are true. Whose plan will we live? His book is excellent, and it speaks of how our choices, both conscious and unconscious, knowingly and unknowingly, either open us to God’s plan, or to Satan’s plan. I would argue that most of us have both at work in our lives, but hopefully the believer increasingly is freed from the binds of Satan and living in the freedom of Christ. The world often thinks of God’s laws as restricting, oppressive, and no fun, but it is just the opposite. Have no doubt — we want God’s plan to unfold in our lives, not the evil one’s. Living in the freedom that Christ offers us – free from the oppression of sin, free to choose the love of God, free to trust in His goodness and providence always, gives us tremendous love, joy,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — all the fruits of His Spirit. I would argue that someone who lives these qualities is truly happy, living in great peace and trust in God, rather than someone who is bound by compulsions (drinking, drugs), anxieties (excessive worry, lack of trust in God), desire for instant gratification (being impatient), who can’t control their appetites (greed, intemperance, lust), etc.

Consider someone at the extreme end of this spectrum of being not only bound, but actually possessed by seven demons, which is what the Gospel of Luke says Jesus saved Mary Magdalene from. Possession is occupation of the body by unholy spirit(s), and it cannot happen by accident but the victim must acquiesce knowingly to the unholy in some manner. Manifestations of demonic possession vary but the Gospel of Luke, for example, describes the Gerasene demoniac as living among the tombs and not in a house, not wearing any clothes, not being restrained by shackles and chains, and being driven into deserted places by the demons (Luke 8:27-29). This is a pathetic, lonely, and dangerous state of being, and it said the demoniac had been that way “for a long time.”

We have no information about how Mary Magdalene became possessed or what her life was like during that horrible time, but we do know that Jesus saved her — because that’s what He does, and that she was eternally grateful. She knew what hell on earth was like, and she knew His power, and His alone, to vanquish the evil presences from her body and soul, and she knew that she needed Him to remain free from their influence. Most importantly, we simply see in the Gospels how much Mary Magdalene loved Jesus. That’s what strikes me about her, and this is something we all can model from her. She lived a very close, personal, loving relationship with Jesus. I think this is why stories and modern mythis, if you will, such as those from Dan Brown’s novel float around saying that Jesus was married to her — because unless you have lived and experienced this love for Christ, it’s just not possible to understand other than in the context of a human, intimate and even a sexual relationship. And, this is really not such a bad comparison, because her love and relationship for Jesus was and is passionate, loving, deep, extremely personal, and on fire. However, no, it was not sexual. It was so beyond that. This is what’s so confusing to our modern sensibilities, so consumed with everything sexual. But, I digress. The good news is that we are all invited to this relationship with Jesus! It’s open to all, and there are many who have lived it (see, the Saints)!

The devil’s first goal is to make us think he doesn’t exist, and to a large extent he has accomplished this in today’s rational mind. However, as Christians, we neither want to fearful and looking for him behind everything, nor naive and oblivious to his operations and machinations in our world, and his temptations in our lives. We need to be prudent, and on guard. Our Lady in Medjugorje speaks of five stones that serve as weapons against him. This comes from the stones that David had in his bag with which he defeated Goliath. Therefore, the five stones or spiritual weapons through which we open oursleves to Jesus to overcome not only the devil, but also our own inclinations to selfishness, and worldly temptations are:

  1. Prayer. Way more than you think. Honestly, everyone should have at least an hour each day of prayer time – half hour in the morning and half hour in the evening. Include the rosary.
  2. Eucharist. We should both receive the Lord (in proper disposition; please see here) as often as possible (daily Mass if possible), and spend time, preferably at least once a week for an hour, in adoration
  3. monthly Confession, at least. More if grave sin is committed.
  4. fasting. This can be corporal or non-corporal, but the best fast is on bread and water, twice a week (Wednesdays and Fridays). This should be modified if you are unable. Don’t be prideful; rather, do something that you can without risking your health. Fast from complaining. Fast from excessive speech. Fast from social media and use the time for prayer instead; ask God what he desires and follow His grace.
  5. Scripture reading/praying with Scripture. Lectio divina or Ignatian methods of praying with Scripture, Bible study, etc.

Obviously these are goals to work up to. One doesn’t begin doing all this in one day!

In today’s Gospel, we see Mary Magdalene encounter the risen Jesus, and then run to tell his apostles the amazing news, “I have seen the Lord!” She is so traumatized by the events of the previous days that she almost doesn’t recognize what has happened, but Jesus calls her name, and her heart melts with love, awe, joy, amazement, and devotion. Something too good to even be true has just occurred. The love of her heart, the fulfillment of all desire, is not dead. He is alive! She MUST tell the brothers!

This is the model of the two great missions of the Church: encounter, and evangelization. We ARE the church, that is us! Therefore, we must strive to constantly encounter Jesus, and then tell others, by our lives and our words, the Good News. “I have seen the Lord!

St. Mary Magdalene, Pray for us!

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Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening

the sower vince van gogh
Sower with Setting Sun by Vincent van Gogh

See Today’s Mass Readings here.

In today’s first reading, we hear the prophet Isaiah proclaim that God’s word goes forth from His mouth and effects what it says, and it does not return to Him void. Just as when He created and said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, so it remains today. This is what is amazing about the Sacraments. In Reconciliation, God says we are forgiven, and so it is. In the Eucharist, God says, “This is my body; This is my blood,” and so it is, the bread and wine are transformed. His Word does not return to Him void. It achieves His will.

Think about Jesus as the Word of God. He goes forth from the Father, accomplishes His will, and does not return to Him void. His miracles, and especially His resurrection, give testimony to the fact that His word effects what He says. He says, “Be healed,” and those who received His word were healed. He said He would rise on the third day, and so it happened.

Now consider the Gospel reading, Matthew’s account of Jesus’s parable of the sower. The sower went out to sow, and scattered the seeds carelessly and liberally. Seed was not cheap! Yet, he did not seem to be calculating or hold back, but spread it around on all kinds of soil, hoping to yield fruit where, humanly speaking, this would not even be possible. This tells us about God, does it not? He sends rain and sun on the just and the unjust. His grace is undeserved, and freely given. He does not give it only to those who are thankful, or generous in sharing it. That’s how we are; that’s not how God thinks.

Now look at the soil. This is us. Let us truly examine whether we are that good soil, and do what is needed to prepare our hearts to be good soil for God’s word to take effect. God’s word indeed goes out, but if the soil is not prepared, it simply will not bear fruit in our lives. However, if it is, the results are incredible. At first, they are not perceivable, but then they grow exponentially.

How do we prepare the soil? We prepare the soil through prayer, through good works, and through avoiding sin. Then when we receive God’s Word, whether it be through Scripture reading/meditation, the Sacraments, through prayer, through encountering Him in nature — in whatever way He comes to us — that soil is rich and ready to receive the seed. And if we continue to prepare the soil, new seeds during new planting seasons will always produce new harvests.

When hearing the Word today, I prayed that I would be very rich soil, ready to receive the seed and produce good fruit for God’s kingdom. I feel the Lord even now at work in my life, and I pray that I will be faithful to that work, faithful in prayer, in listening, in responding with openness to Him first. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with fear, or to have cares, busyness and anxiety choke out His Word. When we don’t give time for prayer, this quickly happens. However, when we do, and respond in silence, reverence and awe, saying, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” we truly can only wonder at the ever increasing gifts and blessings the Lord unfolds in our lives. Our lives with God are like an upward spiral, continually coming back around to the same places, but at different levels, and we can see from different vantage points the same issues He wants to heal in us, and blessings He wants to impart. Yes, let us be open to receive everything He desires to give in His Word. Let us have awe and wonder at His marvels at work in our lives.

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Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

Moana, the Sacred Heart, and the Eucharist

First-Friday-Devotion-to-the-Sacred-Heart-of-Jesus-1

Note, SPOILER ALERT if you have not seen this movie.

I watched Disney’s Moana on Netflix the other night with my daughter. It was the third time we had seen it, because we both loved it! I woke up thinking about it the next morning, and realized (oh, how did I forget) when I looked at the Mass readings for the day that it was the Solemn Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Wow! This spoke to me.

The Sacred Heart is a beautiful solemn feast in which the Church celebrates the unfathomable love Jesus has for each of us, symbolized by the image of His heart. The heart of Christ is depicted as pierced with thorns, bleeding, and on fire. Ponder this image, which came to us through (among others) a mystic, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who said that in her visions, Jesus Himself gave her this image, and He wanted all people to know about it, meditate on it, see it, and have devotion to it. Again…Jesus wanted his heart depicted as wounded, bleeding, and burning to show the passionate love He has for us. This is not a collective “us”. This burning love is for you, [insert your name here]. Every hair on your head is counted, as He says in the Gospels. He calls you by name. His love for each person is extremely passionate, deep, and personal.  He wants us to know this, and so He has revealed it to us in so many ways. The Scriptures and the Sacraments testify to this love, and He gave us the image of the Sacred Heart, the solemn feast day, and also asked that devotion to His Sacred Heart be practiced on every First Friday.

I admit, I did not always have an appreciation for devotion to the beautiful Sacred Heart of Jesus. I remember when I was young seeing a print with a cheap frame above a stove perhaps in a friend’s grandmother’s kitchen, or I occasionally saw it on tattoos. In my hasty, unexamined teen and early adulthood opinion, this was all frankly, odd. Now, however, I understand that people can honor the Sacred Heart in various ways, and Christ will speak to us through this image wherever and in whatever manner we open ourselves to it (even if that opening is only the slightest crack).

So…back to Moana, a Disney movie somewhat based on Oceanic mythology. From what I’ve read, much of it was done well and is accurate; some of it was not. At any rate, everyone I personally know who saw it absolutely loved the story, and found it very moving, even to the point of tears (often), during the movie. I conclude this is because there is much Gospel truth in the story, it has beautiful music, and Moana herself is a noble and inspiring character.

Longings throughout her childhood, mystical experiences, the wise guidance of her grandmother, and fate all lead Moana to discern that her mission is to restore the heart of the demigod, Te Fiti, which had been stolen by Maui (another demigod), long before Moana was born. As a result, Te Fiti stopped creating new islands, the ones she had previously made began to decay, and darkness had spread, threatening Moana’s own island and her people. In  dramatic moment, the night her beloved grandmother dies, and against the wishes of her father, Moana leaves her island and people and proceeds to persevere through a treacherous journey during which she overcomes numerous threats and receives help from the ocean itself, and from Maui.

Finally, Moana faces off with the powerful and demonic Te Ka. Maui’s first instinct is to try to defeat Te Ka with force, which is clearly impossible, given the strength and power of Te Ka. Moana, however, remains calm, and realizes the power of the heart of Te Fiti she has carried on this journey — it is the power of LOVE, which alone can conquer Te Ka. She courageously says to the ocean (which has supernatural powers), “Let her come to me.” Enjoy what happens next, and the beautiful scene of the restoration of the heart of Te Fiti here:

Note how the ocean parts (like the Red Sea did for Moses, which was a foreshadowing of Baptism); Te Ka angrily approaches, as Moana sings Know Who You Are: “I have crossed the horizon to find you /I know your name /They have stolen the heart from inside you, but this does not define you /This is not who you are /You know who you are.” And, then…Moana places Te Ka’s lost heart into her chest. Is not Moana a beautiful and noble image of our Savior? Do the words of this song reflect that the Lord calls us by name, that He goes out to seek us when we are lost?

Immediately after Te Ka’s heart is restored, she is healed, returns to her former self as the beautiful island goddess Te Fiti and her life-generating abilities return. Everything around her suddenly and magnificently bursts into vegetation of various vibrant colors.

I cannot help but see the heart of Te Fiti as a reflection of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Whenever the Sacred Heart is depicted, Jesus is shown as revealing his heart, and usually even offering it to us. Consider that God says through the prophet Ezekiel (36:26), “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” This Old Testament promise is fulfilled in the gift of the Eucharist, where Jesus truly gives us His heart! I think of the numerous Eucharistic miracles (in various times and places) in which the Eucharistic host has visibly turned into flesh, it was subsequently analyzed, and was shown to be heart tissue (and, as a side note, blood type AB). When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we are truly receiving His heart, and also His blood that was poured out for us, His soul, and His divinity. If the story of Moana has moved us, how much more should the knowledge of Christ’s love for us, and His continual gift of His heart given to us in the Eucharist? If we but take time to ponder it, should we not be overwhelmed with thanksgiving and love for Jesus for this unfathomable gift?

Are we not like Te Ka without the presence of Jesus in our lives? “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). How easily and quickly do our hearts become hard, cold, and cynical? (I certainly speak for myself here.) If I just wake up and look at the news or social media instead of turning to Him in prayer, I am already well on my way! But, with Jesus, holiness is possible, as is self control, love, joy,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness — all the fruits of the Spirit.

Yes, I freely admit that I am often like Te Ka, and I see in Moana a reflection of our Savior. The Savior beckons, and I approach salvation through the parted waters of Baptism, drawing closer to the beautiful, shining heart (which is actually Jesus’s own heart, given for us). He Himself places it within my chest. Immediately, I am transformed. I am healed. I am forgiven. I can love with His love. My life can be abundance, fruitfulness, and life.

This is what receiving the heart of Jesus does for us spiritually — remember, the pierced, bleeding heart that is on fire with love. With Him, we are free from the slavery of sin, death, destruction, darkness, and evil. We are free to truly be the beautiful people that God made us to be (You Know Who You Are). Like the beautiful, life bearing Te Fiti.

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I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

Abortion: A Call to Knowledge and Thought

Abortion. Women’s rights. The inviolable dignity of the human person. Big issues – many opinions. I, however, don’t want opinions; I want truth. The majority opinion, or the loudest opinion, does not necessarily equal truth. Truth should guide our lives. Opinions should not guide our lives, or at least not if they do not line up with truth, and with how the universe is ordered.

I beg you — before you declare that your mind is made up, and go with what is the default stance these days, that “A woman has the right to choose,” there is some information you MUST have, and you must pray and think about. You owe it to yourself, to the next generation, and to all of humanity. The issue is too important to just go along with the crowd, or not to take time to learn and ponder. This is THE human rights issue of our time. I write this post with no judgement on anyone for any opinions they hold or claim, or for anything anyone may have done in the past. We all have pasts. We all are influenced by our environment. I only write this to ask you to gain knowledge. That is my only agenda.

First, you must understand the procedures for surgical abortion – first or second trimester. Below are videos with the procedures explained by an Ob/Gyn. Everyone should understand what these medical procedures actually involve. (Note, you need not be hesitant to watch the videos – they are not bloody or gory, but are animated and calmly narrated by the physician.)

A first trimester (5-13 weeks of pregnancy) surgical abortion is an aspiration (suction) dilation and curettage (D & C) abortion. This is the most common type of surgical abortion. The procedure is explained here:

The second trimester (13-24 weeks of pregnancy) surgical abortion, also very common, is a dilation and evacuation (D & E) abortion. The procedure is explained here:

Understand that due to litigation, requirements of providing full informed consent to the woman undergoing an abortion about these procedures, potential risks, complications, and alternatives, which is required with any other medical procedure, are lax. One has to ask why.  To quote from Irrational Woman published in the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, Volume 16:223:

Gonzales v. Carhart …brought the question of women’s capacity for healthcare decision-making to the forefront of public legal consciousness. In Carhart, the Court abandoned its previous deference and respect for a woman’s right to be her own decision-maker with regard to abortion and instead determined that a pregnant woman lacks capacity to make her own decisions and to give informed consent to abortion-related medical treatment. According to the Court, the government may make the final decision regarding a pregnant woman’s healthcare to ensure that she realizes her “ultimate” role as a mother.

How stunning, and offensive! Apparently some high-level attorneys and lawmakers think women are so fragile, or so ignorant, that we cannot or should not be trusted with full information to make a decision regarding abortion — and yet the mantra is that it’s a “woman’s right to choose.” Choice means one should have as much information as possible. According to the tenets of informed consent, information should be understandable for a patient according to her level of education, language, etc., but it should not be decided by a court ruling that women do not have the “capacity.” So just know that women undergoing these procedures — perhaps poor and/or  not well educated, are not given adequate information to make a clear decision, in addition to being in a vulnerable situation financially, emotionally, psychologically, and/or medically. Women also are not usually given accurate information about the embryonic and fetal development according to their stage of pregnancy before an abortion; thus the “clump of cells” myth is perpetuated, wrongly. Factor all this together and we have extremely coercive situations for women.

Speaking of fetal development, this is an absolutely stunning depiction of all 9 months of pregnancy shortened into a 4-minute clip. Again, don’t enter this conversation unless you understand the science of embryology. Watch 9 Months Of Pregnancy Is Shortened In One Amazing 4-Minute Clip and consider it with awe and wonder:

Also, you must understand the sheer scale of the number of abortions we are talking about in the USA. We are now over 58,500,000 lost lives to abortion and counting since abortion was made legal in 1973 through the Roe vs. Wade decision. This number is astronomical. It is WAY more than all lives lost in every military conflict the USA has been involved in, combined. It is WAY more than any genocide that has taken place in the course of human history. This is not just something that happens occasionally, when there are dire circumstances, as pro-choice proponents would have you think. The floodgates are wide open, and the sheer magnitude of this issue warrants an honest examination. It used to be that pro-choice advocates said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”; in fact it was Hillary Clinton who made that claim well known when she said it over 25 years ago. At 58 million, obviously this is not the case. Please read more about the number of abortions and why it “stopped making sense” for one feminist here; consider her arguments:

When Abortion Stopped Making Sense by Frederica Mathewes-Green published by National Review.

Some other points and thoughts:

  • A woman does not have a right to “do what she wants with her body.” All laws have to do with what we do with our body, do they not? If a woman decides what she wants to do with her body is go and hold up a convenience store at gunpoint, is that ok because she is a woman? No. All laws regard what we do with our bodies, because we are human, and we live out our lives with our bodies. What are the other laws for then, exactly?
  • “You can’t be anti-abortion and also be against universal healthcare, large federal government funded welfare programs to aid the poor, etc.” Actually, the right to life is the first and foremost right – without the right to LIFE, no other benefits, rights or discussions can happen; they are moot. At any rate, the rejection of life is not a solution to poverty, a healthcare crisis, a lack of resources, etc. and these are all separate discussions. This is actually a very scary “solution” to any of these problems – i.e., You propose to eliminate poverty by eliminating the poor? This is not inspiring leadership. This is pathetic, hopeless, and Marxist. Experience tells me that opening ourselves to goodness and life, opens us up to possibilities and to solutions. Necessity is the mother of invention. I do not accept that we need abortion because we haven’t first solved all of these other issues; we will solve them when we have decided that protecting and caring for our people, ALL people, is our first priority and is worthy of our sacrifice and resources.
  • “If you don’t approve of abortion, don’t have one.” Let’s see if this works: if you don’t approve of slavery, don’t own a slave. No – injustice is injustice; it must be called out and fought. I refer you to the videos above about the actual abortion procedures if you aren’t sure if abortion is unjust. Did you watch them?
  • As for the time of viability being when a baby has a right to life, we all are dependent upon others for care at various times in our lives, and certainly all infants are. This is not a factor in a discussion of whether a human life should be protected and have legal rights.
  •  Regarding situations when the life of the mother is at stake… If there is truly a case in which a mother’s life is in danger, then by all means, even the Catholic Church, which has been the most consistent defender of the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death, would say that there is no moral requirement for that mother to sacrifice her own life for that of her unborn child. The mother’s life is just as valuable and sacred as the one she is carrying, and no doubt there are already people who depend on her, whose needs must be considered. In truth, however, these cases are almost nonexistent medically, and they are morally approached in this manner. If a woman needs to be treated medically, and in the course of that treatment, the demise of her unborn child takes place, that is a secondary effect of the treatment and is tragic, but it is not immoral. This is different from directly aborting. If a mother has to be treated, and it is known that this treatment can greatly harm an unborn child, then there needs to be much prayer, discernment, medical advice, and looking at options for the best course. E.g., could treatment be delayed until viability and the baby delivered and cared for? However, if a woman is in a late stage of pregnancy, to hear a doctor say that she “needs” an abortion to save her life is an unbelievable insult to the practice of medicine. If I had such a doctor, I would tell him or her that they were the most pathetic excuse for a medical professional, and I would find one that would implement a plan to deliver my child, have appropriate medical care for the baby, and treat me as needed. Again, these cases are such a small percentage – that number above, 58,000,000 literally has almost nothing to do with cases in which the life of the mother is at stake.
  • Currently in the USA, women have an extra “right” that men do not have. They have the legal right to obtain an abortion; whereas, men have no say whatsoever legally in whether or not their biological child is aborted. Just pointing it out — this is an inequality and therefore an injustice under the law that is based on gender.

The bottom line is this…abortion is demanded by a culture that has separated the act of having sex with the commitments of marriage and raising children. We live in a contraceptive mindset; we have been taught from an early age that the only sins as far as sex goes are 1) repression of our urges, which is harmful and 2) not protecting ourselves from pregnancy or disease. We have accepted this unquestioningly from trusted “experts” who have also flooded the population with contraception (schools, government funded programs) to back it up, so of course we have a demand for abortion. The mindset, plus the easy access to contraception, naturally means more people will be having sex, at younger ages, and not necessarily in committed relationships. This is only an issue of numbers. With more people having sex (way more), then there will inevitably be contraceptive failures (due to user error or just because no contraceptive is 100% effective – none). Therefore, large numbers of those who are having sex are not prepared for commitment and children, and thus abortion is “needed.”

Which brings me to one more consideration. All of this has changed the sexual marketplace in ways that were not foreseen with the advent of the birth control pill, and the sexual revolution in the 1960s. Those who claim to be “women’s rights” proponents have not connected the dots of how everything has shifted in what we can call the sex and marriage marketplace to put women at an enormous disadvantage. Read the Bitter Pill in First Things and watch Economics of Sex here:

Until women do the hard work of learning about, thinking about, and being challenged by these issues, opening our minds and changing our behaviors, nothing will change, and women and their children will continue to be betrayed by abortion and the voices that promote it. If we don’t, many are only too happy to take advantage of the “available opportunities” and then do everything possible to eliminate the consequences (i.e., children). Women, it’s in our hands. Do we want to continue with the groupthink, to our own detriment and that of the next generation? Or do we want to truly be strong, live out our sexuality with integrity, and entrust it to the Lord, who has told us how we will be protected and happy. It is a great gift. He is ever patient, always ready to teach us, lead us on the way. What is one small change you can make today to change your mindset? One small step at a time is all that is needed.

There is no “safe sex” people. It was never meant to be “safe”. It is meant to be a total, selfless, life-giving, all encompassing gift of one’s whole body, life, future —everything
–to the one who promised before God and others to give that back in return. And we just settle for so much less and wonder why we are unhappy and “need” atrocities like abortion. This is the beginning of another post, I suppose.

“My people perish for lack of knowledge” says the Lord. Hosea 4:6

The Torrent

mega-tsunami

I have been heartbroken to see people become caught up and blown like leafs in the wind by the now very pervasive propaganda that is dominating the current political scene in the USA, resulting in constant and escalating public outrage and vitriol and a refusal to negotiate, cooperate, compromise, and dialogue. It is toxic. And it is literally like a tsunami, an overwhelming, destructive torrent. I keep thinking of Revelations 13:5a – “The beast was given a mouth uttering proud boasts and blasphemies”; Revelation 12:15a – “The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth…”; and Jesus’ words in  Matthew 24:12 – “Because of an increase in evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.”

Please, be vigilant in prayer. Do not get caught up in all the events and outrages of the day; do not look to the media — social, mainstream, alternative, or otherwise — to tell you how to think about current events. Let your mind be formed in Christ. Let Him give you your first and last thoughts of each day, from Scripture, and have recourse to Him often in between. Do not worry about the things the pagans worry about. They do not know or seek Him. Instead, pray, hope, strive to do good in the opportunities you are presented with each and every moment, and don’t worry. Read Matthew 6:24-34 often. Jesus tells us not to worry. What good does it do? Our lives are in God’s hands. Any idea that we have of control over our lives is an illusion anyway. We are literally one boat ride away from total disaster (see Matthew 8:23-27), so we may as well trust in and abandon ourselves to Jesus Christ, who cares for us, and to whom all power in heaven and earth have been given! (see Matthew 28:18)

Also, I urge you, do not be dismayed as you see the unraveling more and more around you, in politics, in the media, and in social intercourse. Stay close to the Lord; know that you are safe with Him. Know that He made you, and He placed you in these times, in this day, and in this place for a mission. You are not here by accident! Each day, and each moment, seek the Lord and tell him, “Here I am!” First, cleanse your heart; be right with the Lord, and strive to do good. Pray for eyes to see and ears to hear.

As for me in these days, I know that I have to keep speaking strongly but gently and holding to the truth — the full truth; not some truth mixed with lies, and not watered-down truth. The Truth is a person, and that person is Jesus Christ. My, how satan masquerades as an angel of light. That is how the evil one gets those who are blind, slaves to their passions, and/or poorly formed, particularly those with a strong sense of compassion who consider themselves to be social warriors. There are currently evil agendas that claim to have the moral high ground on issues, but at the expense of truth, and they unleash destruction and despair on their victims. All of this is fantastically toxic, and I am strong in faith and knowledge, but I know that I am utterly helpless against this deluge, this tsunami of lies and apostasy that are destroying faith and now even goodwill in Western society.

I am utterly helpless, but I have immense trust in the Lord, and in His saving power. After having a particularly intense conversation with someone I love dearly today, I turned to Jesus in prayer, and prayed the prayer given to St. Faustina by Jesus, “O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You!” And do you know in that moment, I realized that this divine mercy of Christ — the graces of baptism and the Eucharist — gushes from Jesus’ heart, and therefore we of faith have nothing to fear of the torrent spewed from the mouth of the beast (Revelation 12:15). This torrent of the beast, as overwhelming as it seems to us, is so pathetic compared to the unfathomable mercy of God, gushing from Christ’s pierced heart. “…where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more) (Romans 5:20b). This gave me great consolation and peace, and I praised the Lord. As much as I desire that all follow the Lord in truth and love and learn to hear His voice and love Him deeply — NOW — He desires it ever more ardently. And it is He who is the Savior of each and every person, not I. I will strive to do all that I can in His service, but let’s also pray that He will send all souls on earth now, particularly our own children, the experiences and people that they need in their lives to bring them to Him (and to teach them gently, please, Lord). Let us never look at anyone as our enemy but only as someone who needs to learn of the Lord’s love. And, Jesus, let us be Your instruments who can teach them. Let us who love you say each day and moment, “Send me, Lord!”

torrent-of-graceSo let’s remember this remedy the Lord gave us for the torrent described in Revelation to try to sweep away the woman (i.e., the Church) — His own torrent, but one of grace and mercy: “Oh blood and water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You!”  Learn more about the Divine Mercy devotion as entrusted to St. Faustina by Jesus for the whole world.

 

Materialism, Modernism, and Egoism

Each month, on the 25th, Our Blessed Mother reportedly gives a message to the world through one of the seers in Medjugorje, Marija.  gospaThe message from 25 January 2017 is, Dear children! Today I am calling you to pray for peace: peace in human hearts, peace in the families and peace in the world. Satan is strong and wants to turn all of you against God, and to return you to everything that is human, and to destroy in the heart all feelings towards God and the things of God. You, little children, pray and fight against materialism, modernism and egoism, which the world offers to you. Little children, you decide for holiness and I, with my Son Jesus, intercede for you. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Whether or not one believes in the supernatural happenings in Medjugorje (I do), it’s not hard to accept that these three -isms are currently causing deep divisions, bitterness, and lack of peace in our world.

Each is defined as follows:

  • materialism: a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values; the doctrine that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications
  • modernism: a movement toward modifying traditional beliefs in accordance with modern ideas
  • egoism: an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality

All these -isms are very evident in our culture, contain empty promises and unleash destruction in the wake of their false claims. Our Mother calls us, instead, to simply decide for holiness, pray, and fight against these evils.  She is praying for us to her Son, Jesus!

Come, and You Will See

“What are you looking for?” This is the question Jesus asks the 2 disciples that began to follow Him when John the Baptist tells them He is the Lamb of God (see John 1:35-42).  Another translation I read said that Jesus asked them, “What do you want?” No doubt, to our modern minds, when we read this, we believe Jesus was being snarky, or annoyed, when He turned, saw these 2 guys following Him, and said something like, “What do you want??!” Right?  Honestly, when you first read this, is this how you approached it? Most likely, because this is the way of our world. And because we don’t know Christ. But let’s sit, be still, and know, that this is our God who loves us more than we can fathom asking us this question. I can assure you (and myself), who have been beaten down by this modern world, our modern cynicism, our modern coldness where everything is a joke, a bother, something to discount, or a reason for sarcasm — Jesus was not saying this to them in that manner. This is our God of infinite love and tenderness, asking them, and asking you and me – What are you looking for? What do you desire? What do you long for? What is your deepest wish in life and for eternity? If you could drop all your defenses, your pretenses, your coolness, your distractions, your busyness, and search deep into your heart, what, our God is asking, will fulfill all of your desires?

He asks this, and He already knows the answer. The answer is that He will. He alone will. He IS the fulfillment of all desire. What do the disciples say? Do they recognize this? Perhaps, in some manner, but certainly not yet fully. They just say, “Teacher, where are you staying?” To which Jesus gladly replies, “Come! And you will see!” I picture Jesus breaking into a happy grin when he says that, and picking up His pace, as he is glad to give this invitation. They have indicated their interest in getting to know Him, and He is more than happy to oblige. God respects our freedom and our choices.

Better is one day in your dwelling place, Lord, than a thousand elsewhere (Psalm 84:10).

Surely goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6).

…we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord (2 Cor 5:8b).

Jesus IS the alpha and the omega. Here we see Him beginning to be manifested as He is – the beginning and the end. Here is the beginning of His relationship with His disciples. It is the beginning of their awakening. He is always and already thinking of their eternal salvation, of their end, for which He longs – their coming home to the Father’s house, His house, in the heavenly kingdom. He is delighted when they express interest, and He can invite them, and lead them to it, and they spend time in it together.

Let’s remember that it is still Christmas! This is why the Church invites us to again ponder these Scriptures, to come and see, to embark on the journey to the dwelling place of Christ. The shepherds and magi did, and they were forever changed — they left by a different way than they came, full of peace, and good will, praising and glorifying God. Do you want this year to be different? Do you want to dwell in the house of God? Then, ask the Lord, “Where are you staying?” and respond to His reply in the depths of your heart, and not only in your heart but in concrete ways with your life, with your time, with your deeds, and with your mind, “Come, and you will see!” God always fulfills His promises!

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