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!

Again, how does it happen? 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.
Amen. 
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.

Magnificat

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.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pentecost Novena 3rd Day

Hello, sisters and brothers across the world. I am praying a novena in preparation for Pentecost next Sunday. Just in case someone isn't familiar with that word, novena means nine successive days of prayer.  I was struck by today's prayer entitled "Peace" and want to share it with you.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us bow down in humility at the power and grandeur of the Holy Spirit. Let us worship the Holy Trinity and give glory today to the Paraclete, our Advocate.
Oh Holy Spirit, by Your power, Christ was raised from the dead to save us all. By Your grace, miracles are performed in Jesus’ name. By Your love, we are protected from evil. And so, we ask with humility and a beggar’s heart for Your gift of Peace within us.
The saints were tempted, attacked and accused by the devil who is the destroyer of peace. When we are accused by the devil, come to our aid as our Advocate and give us Peace that lasts through all trials!
Amen.
Three lines in particular jump out for me. First, "We ask with humility and a beggar's heart for Your gift of Peace within us." Have you done that before? Have you begged God for peace? I am a beggar. Beg Him for this gift. Not just for yourself, but for all you love and for the world.
Second, "the devil is the destroyer of peace." Get that straight! When we start having thoughts that make us feel anxious you can pretty well bet that's the accuser whispering lies to try to rob us of our peace. Resist! With all your might. And never fail to ask the Holy Spirit to come. When we do, God pours out His love upon us. Ponder that.
Third, "give us Peace that lasts through all trials". Amen to that! That's what we need and desire--the peace that remains through thick and thin--through all difficulties and in all circumstances. Do you believe you can have that kind of peace? I am here to tell you you can. Beg for it and keep persevering in prayer.
God bless and keep you ever close to His Most Sacred Heart.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

MOMS

I had the privilege to lead a Lenten retreat for moms of high school students recently. Being a teacher, I wanted one word for them as a take-away that could help them remember the main points of retreat. So I used the word MOMS for an acronym.

First M stands for Mother Mary. She's the true model of femininity and beauty. There's no comparison to our Heavenly Mother for beauty and virtue. Don't you agree? Just look at any image of her and you can easily see the purity that this world so needs.

The letter O stands for obedience. It's good to remember the root of the word obey which means to listen. We need to listen for the voice of the Lord. "My sheep hear my voice." John 10: 27 But to listen we must make quiet time in order to hear. Set aside time, consecrate it for our relationship with the Lord.

The next letter M at first I thought would stand for ministering since mothers do so much ministering to their children and husband, but being uncertain I asked the Lord the night before the retreat to speak to me in my slumber and give me the "right" M word if that wasn't the best one. During that night, I woke with the word monopolize. What a surprising word, but the more I thought about it--the more it seemed right. I got the strong sense that he was saying I want to control everything in your lives--every area, every aspect, every detail. Okay, Lord, I'll use that word that I never would have thought of, but you impressed it upon me in my sleep.

And finally S stands for seeking. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6: 33 We must continually seek first the Lord. Each day it starts over in communing with him. We will seek him the rest of our life. And we will not stop until we come face to face with Him.

So, keep Mother Mary as your role model, learn to listen better which includes obeying what you understand him instructing you to do, commit every area of your life to God and ask him to monopolize it, and finally, seek him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength each and every new day.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Silence

Recently, while with a group of friends, I heard a wise man talk.

He reminded us that silence is our friend. It is a way for us to listen to what the Lord is saying to us.

We need to stop in silence and ask the question, "God, what are you saying to me?"

Getting in touch with this capacity to hear his voice is the greatest gift of all. No one can take it from us and we can take it anywhere we go.

During the Lenten season that begins next Wednesday, I pray you will spend time in silence and seek to hear his voice.

There are many things he wants to whisper to you. And when someone whispers it has to be quiet for us to hear.