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.

 

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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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I Am Not the Christ

Today’s Gospel is John 1:19-28, where John the Baptist is questioned by the priests, Levites and Pharisees who are sent to find out who he thinks he is, baptizing and attracting followers and disciples. They ask him, “Who are you?” How does one answer that question? Who are you? This is not, “What is your name?” or “What do you do for a living?” or “Where are you from?” This seems to get at the essence of the verb “to be” – “Who are you?” I feel like I can learn so much about John by his response to his questioners. His first response is simply that he is not the Christ. John’s whole worldview and perspective is so focused on the coming Messiah, his relationship to Him and his role in preceding Him, that this is his first thought. I am not; He is.

Does this not sum up all that we need to learn in the spiritual life, all that Christ the Master needs to teach us as disciples?! Lord, you are. I am not. John’s humility is apparent in his response, “I am not the Christ.” I think to myself that sure, I may say this, but do I actually practice it, and in all the layers of my being, motivations, inclinations and thoughts, do I believe it? No! I actually believe I am the Christ. Do I not interiorly put myself on a little pedestal, from where I can hold court and judge all around me — circumstances, situations, behaviors, actions, and God forbid, even people — according to how they affect me, the all important little demigod? If I am honest, yes, this is often my first instinct, my knee-jerk reaction. This is what I begin to do when I do not give time to prayer and proper effort in striving. I have to consciously and constantly work on not trying to be God! I have to become aware of when I am trying to be God! I have to continually strive to step back, take a breath, look to Christ, pray, reflect, repent, reconcile, and heal. One step at a time. John seems to have been well on his way in that process.locusts

Perhaps I should live in the desert and eat locusts and honey. Ah, no, thankfully that won’t be necessary and as a wife and mother, I am definitely not called to do that. I have the Sacraments to strengthen me, and I can fast and/or offer small sacrifices and pray. Praying this litany of humility is also helpful:

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should…

+++Lord, help me to remember in word and deed, that I am not the Christ. +++

The Shepherds Went in Haste

mother-of-god

Today is the great solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. We celebrate and honor Mary as God’s mother, and our mother. The Gospel, from Luke 2:16-21, speaks of the shepherds hurrying to find the infant lying in a manger, whose birth the angels announced to them. They found Mary and Joseph, and the Christ child swaddled and lying in a manger, just as the angels had told them. In their excitement, they spoke about what had happened, and the Gospel said people were amazed. I pondered this word “amazed” and how in awe they must have been after their experience. In our modern age of special effects, entertainment, Google, and almost everything at our fingertips, I tried to recall when was the last time I was truly “amazed” at something. What these days even causes me to feel wonder and awe? Honestly, not much. It says also that Mary “pondered” all these things in her heart. This idea of pondering is speaking so deeply to my heart right now – this I feel is the call that I am receiving for 2017. God wants me to take more time to ponder His word, and to do so with my family. He calls us, day by day, to read the Scriptures, reflect on them, ponder them, and be amazed. We need to — like the shepherds — listen to the Word of God, respond with haste, let it lead us closer to Jesus, and then be amazed! I want to feel this! I want to be in awe at God’s immense love. Because only then, after encountering and knowing His love for me, can I even begin to bring it to others.

What happened to the shepherds after this experience? It says that they returned, glorifying God. They did not have the benefit of knowing Christ’s whole story and having 2000 years of theology laid out before them as we do today. But what they did know, was that God sent angels to them – to them! – to announce the birth of His Son. They went with haste, and they found Him, encountered the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and left with hope, joy and the knowledge that God was present and acting in the world, and in their lives. Would this not be a life-changing event? I would hope so. The amazing thing is that this event was not just for them. The angels made that announcement for all people of good will, as they said. We only need to respond, as the shepherds did.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

See the full text of Pope Francis’ beautiful homily for the Solemnity of the Mother of God.

And You Yourself a Sword Will Pierce

Today is the Fifth Day of Christmas, and we are presented with the Gospel of Luke 2:22-35. We read about the Holy Family–Joseph, Mary and Jesus–going to the temple to consecrate Jesus to the Lord, for every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, according to the law. Simeon is “driven by the Spirit” into the temple, where he recognizes the Messiah, receives Him with joy, and prophesies. He tells the young mother, Mary, “…and you yourself a sword will pierce.” The Gospel includes this as a parenthetical note, an interruption of Simeon’s statement about Jesus being a sign that will be contradicted.

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Here we have Mary –the mother of the Messiah, who we recently learned is greatly favored, who all generations will call blessed, who should fear not because the Lord is with her–being told that her future will not be all ease, comfort and glory. Right from the beginning of Jesus’ life, the Father was preparing Mary for her extraordinary role and making her aware that it was to involve pain. How just hearing these words must have hurt Mary.

The Lord knows how my own faith has been tested in times of trial. Yet, the way of the Christian–indeed, the way of life, is joyful but is also touched by sorrow and difficulty. The book of Sirach advises, “Child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials…” Jesus Himself told us to “count the cost” of discipleship, to “take up your cross” daily, and to build your foundation on rock for when the floods come, not if they come.

So, how did Mary react to Simeon’s words that her heart would be pierced by a sword? All the Gospel of Luke says is that Jesus’ parents were amazed by what was spoken about Him, and that after they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law, they returned to Nazareth, Jesus became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon Him. To me, this says that Mary simply continued loving Jesus, nurturing Him, caring for Him, praying with Him, teaching Him, and mothering Him, all while praying and pondering the Scriptures and the words of Simeon as well as the events of their lives while asking for God’s guidance, protection and light. She had to live a life of faith, just as you and I do. She had to go about the duty of the day and the moment, just as you and I do. She had an irreplaceable role to fulfill, just as you and I do. She would not be held back by fear or dread, but would press on with trust in the Father.

Holy Mother, pray for us–we know that you are no stranger to pain and confusion. Show us how to be at peace and to live abandoned to God’s providence in all situations, nurturing the life of Christ within us day by day, as you did. Help us to remember these words by Simeon to you, “…you yourself a sword will pierce.”

 

Victory is Ours, and Everyone’s

Lord, how your people are suffering. I was praying for and remembering all of the body of Christ this morning at Mass, particularly with the horrendous event of the bombing in the Coptic cathedral last week during Mass fresh on my mind. They are our brothers and sisters, and I don’t want to forget them, or neglect to pray and fast for them. I also recalled when Fr.Jacques Hamil was martyred and others attacked while celebrating Mass in a chapel in France this past summer. After that vicious incident, Muslims across France attended Mass as a beautiful gesture of solidarity with Catholics – we are one, and indeed, most of the world is one as we watch, aghast and in hImage result for muslims attend mass in france to show solidarityorror, the brutality that humanity inflicts on one another.

Jesus has told us, “…the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.” Recall the faith, courage, and endurance of the 21 Coptic martyrs, who were kidnapped and then beheaded by ISIS. The recording was  released showing the shameful acts of terror, along with a threatening “Message to the Nation of the Cross.” It is so moving to know that each of these men was given a chance to deny their faith in Christ, but did not, and paid the ultimate price. The 21st man was not originally a Christian, but upon seeing the steadfast faith of the others, when given his chance, simply said, “Their God is my God,” knowing that he, too, would lose his life. How desperate all of these acts of violence and destruction are. They obviously have no idea, no clue whatsoever, who God is, and that they simply cannot destroy Him. And this – having 21 of them together was certainly a mistake. These brothers strengthened each other in faith and courage. They can destroy our churches, imprison us, remove us from the public square, take away our jobs, mock us, scoff at us, tell us that God does not exist, that we do not need a Savior, and ultimately, they can kill us. But, it doesn’t work. Jesus told us to expect this, and not to be afraid. He provides grace for the moment. I, for one, only pray that I can be courageous, and endure, even half as well as these have. Yes, Lord, I will drink the cup, if only you enable me.

Please enjoy this beautiful response to the evil. It is “Who Would Dare to Love ISIS? (A Letter from the People of the Cross). But much more than a letter. Love is coming. Love is coming after you, and me, and all of us. The victory is already decided and already won. It is everyone’s. Nobody is excluded. Are we ready to accept it?

Please keep our persecuted brothers and sisters in prayer. Don’t forget them or abandon them. They are us. We are them.