Monday, October 30, 2017

70 X 7 Times

70 X 7 isn't just math. It's a condition of a heart. When Jesus instructs us to forgive "70 X 7" in the gospel of Matthew 18: 22 that's because he wants his disciples' hearts to be--big, soft and open.

So many things come at us--mean people, hurtful remarks, rude people, wounded people, bullies, and we can recoil and say, "No one's ever gonna break or wound my heart again." Or, "I'll never have anything to do with that person again."

But we gotta keep opening up. It sets us free. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves and can remain in bondage.

Big--living this Word for a bigger purpose. It's not just about me and someone else--it's about how I affect the whole world by my choices. I choose to forgive and I keep the love flowin' within me. Or I choose not to forgive and build a dam within myself. I'm creating my own misery by this choice.

Soft--I sit in the presence of the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to melt my heart. Melt any areas that have hardened and need His touch. Living with a hardened heart affects everything in my life negatively. Maybe especially attitude and vision. Unforgiveness can blind me from seeing God's vision for my life. And attitude has to do with the mind. The Word in Romans 12: 2 encourages us to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." So I use good reason and surrender once again (70 X 7) to commit to His will, instead of letting my emotions overtake me.

Open--Once I make a constructive choice to forgive each time and rely on the Holy Spirit to touch my heart, I trust God will work it all together for good as He promises in Romans 8: 28 for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. I don't look back or have any intention of drudging that issue up again. I've removed the barriers by being honest with myself about what needs to change within me. I recognize I can't change anyone else. And I rejoice that I've had another breakthrough--a new passover into the land of freedom. The land of milk and honey--sweet because the river of life, the love is flowing again.

Come, Lord Jesus, into my heart and give me the grace to transform it into yours. It's not about me but You!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rest in Him

In a wonderful homily a few weeks ago, our Pastor preached about resting in the Lord which are the words I hear a lot in my quiet prayer time.

He explained, "to whom the mysteries of God are revealed and in which context these mysteries are unveiled. The answer is very  clear," he said, "the mystery of God is revealed to the simple ones who are willing to come and rest in the Lord."

rest in the Lord like a child

Hey, I want to be simple and have eyes to see and ears to hear. Do you? If "yes", it's worth sharing with you the rest of his homily:

"To rest in the Lord demands an intentional act of humility that only the simple ones are able to exercise. To be simple we have to prayerfully consider our desires, worries, expectations, and fears, and objectively determine if the burdens we carry in our minds and hearts are really the crosses the Lord wants us to take upon ourselves. This realization is what the gospel describes as “resting in God.”

Three quick intentional acts of humility that I find helpful are:
  • 1) confess my sins and ask for mercy so I can see and hear more clearly
  • 2) be truthful with myself as my Pastor is recommending
  • 3) pray for the grace of humility    
  • 4) pray for the grace not to be resistant to inspiration and the promptings of the Spirit 
I remember learning more about burdens years ago. I must clearly discern if the cross(es) I am carrying is/are really the one(s) the Lord wants me to carry. They may not be. And so, I let go of them. You would think carrying a cross for one of your loved ones is certainly what the Lord wants us to do. But maybe not. Maybe it's better for us to let go and trust he is working it all together for good on our behalf without our assistance. Maybe there's someone forgotten that needs prayer more and he will reveal what that cross is--if we listen carefully and surrender to his will daily.

"After reading the same passage, St. Ambrose wrote in the IV century, 'Christ is the bed of the saints, where the men of this world come to sleep and find their rest.' Our questions now are, how do learn to rest in Christ? How can we be meek and humble of heart in order to surrender our lives to the repose God offers? What kind of mystery does God want to reveal to us if we choose to be simple?"

In Matthew 13: 16-17 we learn about the privilege of discipleship. The Word says, "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." In order to see and hear better, our Pastor suggested these things:

"The disciples taught us that in order to rest you have to be willing to spend time with the Lord. It begins with simple things such as:

  • preparing yourself to come to Mass, or church if you are another denomination
  • allowing yourself to transition from your hectic life into the celebration or service with a serene prayer; 
  • not to rush after you receive communion and move on quickly to your next activity: the Lord makes himself present to you, be present to him; 
  • dedicate every day some time to pray and meditate on the Word of God; 
  • consider coming to adoration or daily Mass or setting aside more time for prayer and you will see that whatever time you give to the Lord is time well-invested: you will be filled with grace, you will be more focused and intentional, and you learn to filter any negative emotion, remove the false gods you normally worship (power, vanity, pleasure), and become more like Christ.

Whatever way we choose to rest in God, it will always be a way to allow him to minister to us. We are all indeed labored and burdened, we all need rest. Let us be meek and humble like him, and in our simplicity, let us allow God to guide us."   

by Fr. Elkin Gonzalez (italicized)


Monday, October 9, 2017

Go Into Your Room

I was struck this morning while reading a treatise by St. Ambrose. He was reminding us of how Jesus urged us to "pray earnestly and frequently...with perseverance."

And how Jesus tells us to "Go into your room" to pray.

Ambrose explains, "by 'room' you must understand, not a room enclosed by walls that imprison your body, but the room that is within you, the room where you hide your thoughts, where you keep your affections. This room of prayer is always with you, wherever you are, and it is always a secret room, where only God can see you."

Let us remember today, the Kingdom of God is within us. Lk 17: 21 And our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor 6: 19

So, indeed, as Ambrose says, "every place is a place of prayer."

in a garden

on an airplane

in a chapel

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I'm Not Perfect

I'm not perfect. I sure wish I was. :-) And sometimes at my age, which is older now, I think I should be. "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5: 48) That is my goal--my life-long goal since it will take the rest of my life.
Recently, I heard a wise priest speak about saints who have gone before us. He reminded us that they were not perfect either. They strove for holiness as we are called to do, but they also failed. They had their share of weaknesses and character defects, like us. They were human. The difference in them is that they bounced back up fast from failure, from mistakes and did not let it discourage them.
We can learn to do the same as we surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
Pope Francis preached today about how "God did not choose perfect people to form his church, but rather sinners who have experienced his love and forgiveness."
Thank God for this because aren't we all sinners who God loves and forgives, especially as we seek his mercy and forgiveness? I know I am and He has shown me his mercy time and again so I can no longer deny His great love. He has the same love for all people.
This unconditional love of the Lord cannot be taken for granted. We must remember "the heavy price Jesus paid by dying on the cross," so that we too can be resilient like the saints who became holy as He is holy.
Encouraging everyone, the Pope stated, "Jesus sees the possibility of a resurrection even in those who have made so many wrong choices"...He "offers people who have made mistakes the hope of a new life, a life marked by love." 
How comforting that is!
I pray today you may believe that for yourself or someone you know and love who has lost hope.
Believe for the new life Jesus proclaimed, "I have come that they might have life and that they may have it more abundantly."  (John 10:10) 
This abundant life I now experience is entirely possible for all. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find..." (Matthew 7: 7)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mustard Seed

"Although it is the smallest of all seeds, yet it grows into the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”…      Matthew 13: 31-32

So how does that happen? Do you want to be like the mustard seed and grow beyond what you ever thought possible?

I do!

Some may think the answer is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And that is a good answer and highly important. But, I heard a very wise man say, " it is not of primary importance."

Others may say, "It is to love your neighbor as yourself." "But that is not of primary importance either," he said.

Although they are the two greatest commandments the Lord gave us, first things first. To grow like a mustard seed he proclaimed, "is to first accept the love of the Lord."

"Could it be that simple," you ask. Yes! That's the mustard seed of faith.

It is the primacy of acceptance, that is my acceptance that God loves me in Christ Jesus--to acknowledge and accept what has already been achieved by Christ Jesus.

If you want to open up and receive more of this grace of acceptance, just ask for it. Pray, "Lord, give me more. Help me to fully accept the love of the Lord for myself." And trust like a child he has heard you. Expect the grace.

Don't forget the God who has saved you. Remember all he has done for you. And you will grow and blossom like a small mustard seed.

Reflections by Fr. Paul Murray/Spiritual Advisor to Mother Teresa

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Patti Mansfield

In 1967, fifty years ago, by some miracle of grace the Holy Spirit was poured out upon Patti Mansfield while she was on retreat with other Duquesne University college students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Ark and Dove Retreat Center.

Patti did pray for a miracle and she certainly received one. It was a current of grace that eventually moved across the world.

To prepare for her retreat she prayed, fasted and was docile to the Holy Spirit. She and all the other retreatants were instructed to read the first four chapters of the Book of Acts in the Holy Scriptures and also the book The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson.

Patti's prayer was, "Lord, ... I believe I already received your spirit in Baptism and Confirmation, but if it is possible to receive more, I want it."

She and those on the Duquesne week-end retreat invoked the Holy Spirit with the hymn "Veni Creator Spiritus".

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.
In addition, they also had a penance service at the retreat where they repented of their sins. This opened them up to receive the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 
Patti continued to pray, "Jesus be real to me." She told the Lord, "I give my life to you, whatever you ask of me, I accept it, and if it means suffering, I accept that too. Just teach me to follow Jesus and to love as He loves." 
Patti's example is one to follow. Invoke the Holy Spirit, pray and fast. Repent. Ask for more. Expect a miracle. And see what happens.
You may enjoy reading Patti's book: As By A New Pentecost.


I was recently recalling my experience with being "baptized in the Holy Spirit." This is when I opened up to an outpouring of God's love.  I was in my early twenties--many many years ago--and I attended a charismatic conference. A young woman was one of the guest speakers and I sat there thinking "I want what she has"; she had an ability to teach and preach and a confident presence about being in front of a crowd. I felt shy and afraid of speaking in front of others.

So on a break at the conference I asked a woman, who I knew was a leader, if she would pray for me. I told her I wanted what that young lady had. She promptly did pray and another woman joined her. This is when I experienced a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon me and I began to speak in other tongues. You may have heard of that gift before--"speaking in tongues." The woman praying for me interpreted the tongues, and she knew I was proclaiming the Magnificat.

Do you know that prayer which Mary proclaimed when she visited her cousin Elizabeth? It's the story of the visitation found in the gospel of Luke.

\ "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior,  for he has looked with mercy on his lowly servant. From this day forward all generations will call me blessed: The almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." Luke 1: 46-55

The Lord certainly did look with mercy upon me that memorable day and he will look with mercy upon you to as you turn to him and ask for more of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It's really pretty simple--just ask and receive. If you feel something is blocking the reception of the gifts then ask for mercy. Ask for the Lord's forgiveness for anything you have done that has displeased him and separated you from God. You can be reconciled and restored to grace.

There is where I long to be daily--in a state of grace, not sin. So it's a daily turning to him and repeating the same desires--the desire for His mercy, forgiveness, blessings, and more of the gifts of the Spirit. Honestly, I can't get enough. It's a never-ending well of blessings. Pray with expectant faith and drink deeply, my friends, of the goodness of the Lord. As you do you can't help but proclaim the greatness of the Lord.