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    Choosing Love

    Saturday, June 14, 2014, 6:27 AM [General]

    Choosing Love

    How can someone ever trust in the existence of an unconditional divine love when most, if not all, of what he or she has experienced is the opposite of love - fear, hatred, violence, and abuse? 

    They are not condemned to be victims!  There remains within them, hidden as it may seem, the possibility to choose love.  Many people who have suffered the most horrendous rejections and been subject to the most cruel torture are able to choose love.  By choosing love they become witnesses not only to enormous human resiliency but also to the divine love that transcends all human loves.   Those who choose, even on a small scale, to love in the midst of hatred and fear are the people who offer true hope to our world.

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    Mother Angelica

    Thursday, June 12, 2014, 6:47 AM [General]

    Repentance

    As I begin to realize God's tremendous love, I feel a need to return that love—a desire to be washed clean of everything within me that is not like God. I look at the perfect image of the Father, Christ, and realize I am not like Him. The resemblance is faint and I want it to be more perfect.

    What do I do—what stands in the way of my becoming another Christ? Christ is within me, waiting for me to let Him shine forth. What dark clouds stand between Christ and me, preventing my neighbor from seeing God's Son?

    For a few moments let us compare ourselves with Christ I am proud; I attribute everything I do to myself, my talents, my success, my works, but Jesus gave credit to the Father for all His work. He said, "The Son can do nothing by Himself" John 5:19 so I will radiate Christ by acknowledging all the good in me as coming from Jesus. (Pause)

    I am critical; I find fault with my neighbor, misjudging his motives, but Jesus said, "If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone." John 8:7

    I am fearful: I fear death, loneliness, sickness, failure and the future. but Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, I am going now to prepare a place for you" (Jn. 14:1) "Come to Me...and I will give you rest" (Matt.11:28) so I will radiate Christ by acting upon His Word and having assurance He will take care of me. (Pause)

    I find it hard to forgive and forget, but Jesus said, "If you forgive others their failings, your Heavenly Father will forgive you yours, but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your failings either" (Matt.6:14-16) so I will radiate Christ by being the first to forgive and show by some gesture of reconciliation I have forgotten.

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    God loves me ...

    Thursday, June 12, 2014, 6:33 AM [General]

    1. God loves me as if no one else existed.
    2. His love for me is beyond description.
    3. He knew me and loved me before He created anything.
    4. I am important to God; therefore, He sent His Son to live and die for me.
    5. He made me His dwelling place on earth at Baptism.
    6. He nourishes my soul with His own Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
    7.God dwells in me and longingly waits for my expressions of love.

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    Ignatius of Loyola

    Thursday, June 12, 2014, 6:28 AM [General]

    our Lord, and thereby to save his soul; and the other things on the face of the earth were created for man's sake and to help him in the following out of the end for which he was created. Hence it follows that man should make use of creatures so far as they do help him towards his end, and should withdraw from them so far as they are a hindrance to him with respect to that end. Wherefore it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent toward all created things, in whatever is left to the liberty of our free choice and is not forbidden, so that we on our part should not wish for health rather than sickness, for riches rather than poverty, for honor rather than ignominy, for a long life rather than a short life, and in all other matters should desire and choose solely those things which may better lead us to the end for which we were created.

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    Come now , let us talk...

    Thursday, June 12, 2014, 6:15 AM [General]

    Scripture Readings (Read prayerfully)

    "Come now, let us talk this over, says God. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18

    "I myself taught them to walk; I took them in my arms; yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them. I led them with reins of kindness, with leading-strings of love. I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek; stooping down to him I gave him his food. How could I part with you? How could I give you up? My heart recoils from it—My whole being trembles at the thought." Osee 1:18

    "They had left in tears, I will comfort them as I lead them back; I will guide them to streams of water, by a smooth path where they will not stumble. Their soul will be like a watered garden, they will sorrow no more. I will change their mourning into gladness, comfort them, give them joy after their troubles, refresh my priests with rich food and see my people have their fill of my good things. Jer. 31:9

    "I did forget you for a brief moment, but with great love will I take you back. In excess of anger, for a moment I hid my face from you. But with everlasting love I have taken pity on you, says God, your Redeemer." Isaiah 54:8

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    The Ascension, what’s in it for me?

    Friday, June 6, 2014, 10:04 PM [General]

    The celebration of the Ascension used to leave me a bit flat.  It was clear what Good Friday did for me.  And Easter Sunday’s benefits were indisputable.  But as for the Ascension, what’s in it for me?

     

    Christianity is about a kind of love we call agape or charity.  It is love that looks away from itself to another and gives itself away for another.  The Divine Word did not become man or endure the cross because something was in it for Him.

     

    Charity shares in the beloved’s joys and sorrows (John 14:28).  The first thing to remember about the Ascension is that it is about sharing in Jesus’ joy.  It is about celebrating his return to the heavenly glory to which he refused to cling (Phil 2:6-11).  It is about rejoicing that his crown of thorns has been replaced with the kingly crown, that the mocking crowd at Calvary has been replaced with myriads of adoring angels.  The Ascension is about Jesus’ triumph and glorification. If we get our attention off ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit’s love of the Son to animate our souls, we’ll experience greater joy than when we see our child hit a home run or graduate from college.

     

    But the Ascension is not just about charity.  It is also a feast of hope.  Yes, there is something in it for us.  He goes to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).  We will also one day wear crowns made of gold instead of thorns. 

     

    Ascension of Christ, Catholic Faith, Charity

    For us to endure until that blessed moment, we need divine power.  That’s another reason we ought to rejoice in his Ascension.  He takes his place at God’s right hand so that he can pour out the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, upon his disciples (Ephesians 4:10).

     

    As he ascends, he tells the disciples to wait for this power.  But notice that he does not tell them to wait passively for the rapture.  He does not instruct them to pour over Bible prophecies, debating about how and when he will return.  In fact in Acts 1:11, after the Lord ascends out of their sight, the angels ask why the disciples just stand there, staring into space.

     

    The waiting is not to be a squandering of precious time.  It is waiting for a purpose, nine days of prayer (the first novena!) leading to empowerment.  Why empowerment?  Because they have challenging work to do.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”   (Matthew 28: 16-20).

     

    We used to think that evangelization was something that happened in mission countries far away, carried out by priests and religious.  But the Second Vatican Council told us that our own neighborhoods are mission territory, and that every single Catholic is called to be an evangelist.  Pope John Paul II proclaimed this as the “New Evangelization” because the place is new–right next door–and the missionaries are new since they include all us all.

     

    Saint Francis of Assisi, Catholic Faith, Ascension of Christ

    I’m really not sure that St. Francis of Assisi ever said “Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words.”  But if he did, note this–Francis often thought it very necessary to use words.  His words could be heard in marketplaces, on street-corners, in Churches, wherever there were people.  Of course, preaching without an authentic witness of life is certainly counterproductive.  But forget about the idea that just the witness of our lives is enough.  It is not.  You may not called to preach on street corners, but Vatican II and subsequent popes, echoing 1 Peter 3:15, say that we all must be ready  to articulate what Jesus has done for us, what he means to us, and why he is the answer to the world’s problems.

     

    Feel inadequate to the task?  You’re in good company.  Pope Benedict’s first public statement was an admission of his inadequacy.  Do as he does–pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to move in and through you, and take the time to keep learning more about your faith so that you can share

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    Faithful ?

    Friday, June 6, 2014, 5:33 PM [General]

    Only those who want to be condemned actually condemned?

    No one really wants to be condemned. But some choose to be condemned because their sinful actions exclude them from the life of blessedness. In the same way, no one really wants to spend their lives on earth full of hatred and wishing evil on one’s neighbor, but some choose to live this way, much to their own suffering. Consciously choosing evil through a life of mortal sin and stubbornly persevering in sin until death will result in one’s condemnation. God certainly does not want anyone to be condemned; He loves us and sent Jesus so that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). But believing in Jesus requires us to be faithful to His will. As Our Lord told His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).

     



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    Graces operate in our lives...

    Friday, June 6, 2014, 11:06 AM [General]

    Cooperating with the graces of Pentecost

    On Pentecost day, God’s mercy and love came in the form of a powerful wind and in the shape of tongues of fire, and hovered over the heads of his apostles, filling them with unending joy and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Who is this Holy Spirit? The Advocate, the Consoler, the Enlightener, the Gift and Virtue Giver, the Father of the Poor, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity.

    In the life of a Christian, every day is a Pentecost. We have been baptized in water and the Holy Spirit. At our Confirmation, the fire of the Holy Spirit acted on each of us in an invisible way. Every day the mighty Wind comes, if only we call upon him. Every day the tongues of flame descend upon us, if we realize our need for them and desire them with a great desire. In each one of us, at all times, the Fire and the Wind are with us, but we tend to forget this as we grow older. We let things ride. Let us lift our hearts and minds and remember that the breath of the Spirit and his fire are upon us.

    God has sent this fire to renew the earth, and this fire does not only come at a certain moment in time. It comes every moment, at all times, so that we can give to others the gifts that we have received. Do we allow ourselves to be caught up in that Wind that makes all things new, that renews the face of the earth? Or are we like ostriches hiding our heads in the sand of old habits, old ways? Stubbornly refusing to be caught by the Wind of the Spirit that tries to sweep us clean so that we show beauty to the world once more?

    It is so easy to hide from the Wind. It is easy to let it pass by without allowing ourselves to be caught up by it. It is easy to stay put, behind closed doors and windows, pleading that winds are drafty, that they may sweep corners of our souls that we have not looked at for many years. It is so easy to plead that we are too set in our ways, too tired to allow ourselves to be “spring-cleaned” by the Wind of the Holy Spirit.

    For the fresh air that the Wind brings demands of us tremendous efforts; it pleads for a re-examination of mind, soul, and heart that frightens us, because instinctively we know that this will lead us to a change, a complete change in our lives. If we accept being renewed and cleansed by the Wind, we will have to face without compromise the teachings of the Gospel. We will hear the healing, yet demanding, words of God that allow no compromise and give no place to hide.

    We will begin to understand that our faith is a love affair between God, who loved us first, and ourselves, whom he asks to love him back. We will realize that we must face the fact, the inescapable fact—with all its tremendous communal, national, and international implications—that we are “our brother’s keeper”. We will need to cleanse our hearts of idolatry, for we worship many things, many idols, like status, comfort, power and wealth. The Holy Spirit comes as Fire and Wind to cleanse the heart so there is no impediment for God to pass through.

    St. Paul says, “One Spirit was given to us all to drink” (1 Cor 12:13). The Spirit fills us with that drink from which no one thirsts, if we allow him to cleanse our soul and mind and heart. I am filled to the brim; then, that which I drink I must give to others. I have become a fountain, for I have drunk the Lord and now anyone can drink of me.

    In the Resurrection account in the Gospel of John (20: 19, 21) we read:
    In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood amongst them. He said to them…“Peace be with you! As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”

    Here Christ says something fantastic: “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” He said it to the apostles, but what he says is meant for you and me. “As my Father sends me, so I am sending you.” To do what? To preach the Good News. The Good News is the incarnation, life, crucifixion, resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the affirmation of the new covenant: Love your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul; and love your neighbor as yourself. He also said, “By this you shall be known as my disciples: that you love one another as I have loved you”. Therefore, “As my Father sent me, so I am sending you. Show them that you are my disciples. Love one another as I have loved you”.

    Whether we are rich or poor, learned or unlearned, there are many services to be done. Even those who are sick or incapacitated in some way show the features of Christ; there is a “usefulness to uselessness”. After all, the most useful hours that Christ spent on this earth were on the cross, though they seem utterly useless from our pragmatic point of view.

    The Holy Spirit “makes all things new” (cf, Rev 21:5). We co-operate by opening ourselves, each one of us individually, to this fire of his that will make us “new.” What does it mean to open oneself to the Spirit? It means to allow ourselves to fall completely and utterly into the hands of God. It is said, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” So it is, if we read the Scriptures attentively with an open heart and an open mind, and ponder over the love of those who opened themselves totally to God—like the prophets of old, like John the Baptist, like the apostles after the first Pentecost; like Mary, the Mother of God with her ‘Fiat’ (“Let it be done to me as you have said,” Lk 1:38)—her tremendous, constantly renewed Fiat; like the martyrs and saints.
    In John’s Gospel the resurrected Jesus breathed on his apostles and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit…” (Jn 20: 22-23). The breath of God is ours, too; he breathed on his apostles, but all of us are breathed upon in the sacrament of Confirmation. So what does one do with the breath of God?

    If God has us “breathe” him in, then we have to breathe him out, because nothing that God gives us is only for me, myself alone, but is for everybody. Nothing matters except loving one another. Let us risk everything, even our lives, so that we might love one another, so that we might be compassionate to one another. We just cannot sit back, we to whom the grace of God is given, and leave anyone that we come across to be lonely or sad; and let us forgive one another, which is part of loving.

    Adapted from Season of Mercy by Catherine Doherty.

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    Cooperating with the graces of Pentecost

    On Pentecost day, God’s mercy and love came in the form of a powerful wind and in the shape of tongues of fire, and hovered over the heads of his apostles, filling them with unending joy and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Who is this Holy Spirit? The Advocate, the Consoler, the Enlightener, the Gift and Virtue Giver, the Father of the Poor, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity.

    In the life of a Christian, every day is a Pentecost. We have been baptized in water and the Holy Spirit. At our Confirmation, the fire of the Holy Spirit acted on each of us in an invisible way. Every day the mighty Wind comes, if only we call upon him. Every day the tongues of flame descend upon us, if we realize our need for them and desire them with a great desire. In each one of us, at all times, the Fire and the Wind are with us, but we tend to forget this as we grow older. We let things ride. Let us lift our hearts and minds and remember that the breath of the Spirit and his fire are upon us.

    God has sent this fire to renew the earth, and this fire does not only come at a certain moment in time. It comes every moment, at all times, so that we can give to others the gifts that we have received. Do we allow ourselves to be caught up in that Wind that makes all things new, that renews the face of the earth? Or are we like ostriches hiding our heads in the sand of old habits, old ways? Stubbornly refusing to be caught by the Wind of the Spirit that tries to sweep us clean so that we show beauty to the world once more?

    It is so easy to hide from the Wind. It is easy to let it pass by without allowing ourselves to be caught up by it. It is easy to stay put, behind closed doors and windows, pleading that winds are drafty, that they may sweep corners of our souls that we have not looked at for many years. It is so easy to plead that we are too set in our ways, too tired to allow ourselves to be “spring-cleaned” by the Wind of the Holy Spirit.

    For the fresh air that the Wind brings demands of us tremendous efforts; it pleads for a re-examination of mind, soul, and heart that frightens us, because instinctively we know that this will lead us to a change, a complete change in our lives. If we accept being renewed and cleansed by the Wind, we will have to face without compromise the teachings of the Gospel. We will hear the healing, yet demanding, words of God that allow no compromise and give no place to hide.

    We will begin to understand that our faith is a love affair between God, who loved us first, and ourselves, whom he asks to love him back. We will realize that we must face the fact, the inescapable fact—with all its tremendous communal, national, and international implications—that we are “our brother’s keeper”. We will need to cleanse our hearts of idolatry, for we worship many things, many idols, like status, comfort, power and wealth. The Holy Spirit comes as Fire and Wind to cleanse the heart so there is no impediment for God to pass through.

    St. Paul says, “One Spirit was given to us all to drink” (1 Cor 12:13). The Spirit fills us with that drink from which no one thirsts, if we allow him to cleanse our soul and mind and heart. I am filled to the brim; then, that which I drink I must give to others. I have become a fountain, for I have drunk the Lord and now anyone can drink of me.

    In the Resurrection account in the Gospel of John (20: 19, 21) we read:
    In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood amongst them. He said to them…“Peace be with you! As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”

    Here Christ says something fantastic: “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” He said it to the apostles, but what he says is meant for you and me. “As my Father sends me, so I am sending you.” To do what? To preach the Good News. The Good News is the incarnation, life, crucifixion, resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the affirmation of the new covenant: Love your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul; and love your neighbor as yourself. He also said, “By this you shall be known as my disciples: that you love one another as I have loved you”. Therefore, “As my Father sent me, so I am sending you. Show them that you are my disciples. Love one another as I have loved you”.

    Whether we are rich or poor, learned or unlearned, there are many services to be done. Even those who are sick or incapacitated in some way show the features of Christ; there is a “usefulness to uselessness”. After all, the most useful hours that Christ spent on this earth were on the cross, though they seem utterly useless from our pragmatic point of view.

    The Holy Spirit “makes all things new” (cf, Rev 21:5). We co-operate by opening ourselves, each one of us individually, to this fire of his that will make us “new.” What does it mean to open oneself to the Spirit? It means to allow ourselves to fall completely and utterly into the hands of God. It is said, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” So it is, if we read the Scriptures attentively with an open heart and an open mind, and ponder over the love of those who opened themselves totally to God—like the prophets of old, like John the Baptist, like the apostles after the first Pentecost; like Mary, the Mother of God with her ‘Fiat’ (“Let it be done to me as you have said,” Lk 1:38)—her tremendous, constantly renewed Fiat; like the martyrs and saints.
    In John’s Gospel the resurrected Jesus breathed on his apostles and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit…” (Jn 20: 22-23). The breath of God is ours, too; he breathed on his apostles, but all of us are breathed upon in the sacrament of Confirmation. So what does one do with the breath of God?

    If God has us “breathe” him in, then we have to breathe him out, because nothing that God gives us is only for me, myself alone, but is for everybody. Nothing matters except loving one another. Let us risk everything, even our lives, so that we might love one another, so that we might be compassionate to one another. We just cannot sit back, we to whom the grace of God is given, and leave anyone that we come across to be lonely or sad; and let us forgive one another, which is part of loving.

    Adapted from Season of Mercy by Catherine Doherty.

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    Mary's Faith

    Thursday, May 29, 2014, 9:13 PM [General]

    The Beatitudes rank high on the list of all-time favorite Bible passages.  But what is beatitude, anyway?   In the bible, a “blessed” person is someone who has received gifts of the greatest value, gifts that lead to true fulfillment and lasting happiness.

     

    If I were to ask you to name the first beatitude, you’d probably say “blessed be the poor in Spirit.”  According to Matthew you’d be right, but not according to Luke.  At the very beginning of his gospel, Luke reveals that the very first beatitude is uttered by a woman filled with the Spirit, speaking of another woman overshadowed by the Spirit.  Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed.” (Luke 1: 45).

     

    Is Marian devotion important in Christian life?  This has been a bone of contention between Catholics and Protestants for nearly 500 years. 

    Mother Mary of God, The First Believer, The Annuciation 

    Let’s look at the evidence in just the first chapter of Luke.  First, the Angel Gabriel honors her with the greeting “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:29).  Then Elizabeth prophesies “blessed are you among women.”  Next the prophet John leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice.  Then, in her response to Elizabeth, Mary prophesies “all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).

     

    But it is Elizabeth’s final words to Mary that hold the key to understanding why she is she is to honored, namely, her faith.

     

    One of the battle-cries of the Protestant Reformation was “Faith Alone!”  One key conviction that united the many disparate strands of the Reformation was that it is impossible to earn God’s favor by our good works, but rather we receive his love as a pure gift, a grace, through faith.

     

    Now consider Mary.  Did she criss-cross the Mediterranean planting Churches like Paul?  Did she give eloquent sermons like Stephen (Acts 7).  Did she govern the Church like Peter?  No.  Her claim to fame is that she simply said yes to God.  She believed He could do as he said and would do as He said. 

     

    But true faith is not just intellectual conviction that God exists or that He can do thus and such.  Faith involves entrusting oneself, abandoning oneself to God, willing to submit to his will.  That’s why Paul talks about “the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26).  She surrendered her plan for her life, and yielded to God’s plan.  And she did this not once, but again and again, even when he left her to begin his public ministry.  And when that ministry led to the horror of Calvary, her faith stood its ground at the foot of the cross.

     

    So Catholics honor Mary for being the perfect example of the greatest Protestant virtue.  Ironic isn’t it?  And the deepest meaning of that disputed doctrine, the Immaculate Conception, is that it was the grace of God working mysteriously from the moment of conception that made possible Mary’s exemplary life of faith.  Even her faith is a gift of His grace.  It’s all grace, according to Catholic doctrine.

     

    Mary Mother of God, The Passion of the Christ, Mel GibsonMary, of course, knew this.  That’s why she responded to Elizabeth’s praise with the humble, exuberant prayer known as the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  She is like the crystal-clear pool that reflects the suns rays back to the heavens.  So no one needs to fear that honor given her will detract from the majesty of Her divine Son.  She deflects all the praise given her right back to God, the source of her greatness.

     

    So the answer is that Marian devotion is necessary in Christian life.  But what is true devotion to Mary according to the fathers of the Second Vatican Council?  Not sentimental piety or gullible preoccupation with every rumored apparition.  But rather, imitation of her virtues, particularly her faith (Lumen Gentium 67).

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    Parents . happy to be together...

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 4:59 AM [General]

    "It is so important for a family to celebrate all together. It is so important for the children to laugh and play and sing with their parents and to see their parents happy to be together.."

    there has been happiness here. There has been much strife .Much healing is needed .And it is said that time heals all things . I don't believe that .We must dig deep and turn to God who knows all about us . 

     A young couple marries with  pie in the sky ideals . They soon realize that the knowlegde they felt would sustain them just didn't hit the mark . After years of struggling to bring peace and harmony to all Jesus spirit brings joy to those who seek him ...

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