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.
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.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Love Your Enemies

Women of Peace,

I woke up this morning with the words "Love your enemies" and had no idea the Sunday gospel was about that message. I just hadn't taken time to look ahead at the Gosepl reading as I usually do. Of course, it kinda' knocked my socks off to see that the Spirit whispered to me exactly what the church universally would be hearing about today.

Long story short, I have been struggling with a circumstance that has been difficult causing me to be tempted to have ill feelings about those that seem to be so focused on making a profit instead of respecting the feelings of others and relationships with others.

Perhaps it's one of those big life lessons that the Lord is showing me right now. I feel as though a magnifying glass is being held up to our materialistic life in America, and I can more clearly see the greed and lack of concern for others. This circumstance I referred to is only a microcosm of the larger picture. (Don't want to stereotype everyone by any means. Many I know are very generous and other-centered.)

The good thing is I have cried out to the Lord, "Remove from me any of that nature, any of that greed" for being human I am subject to the same inclinations and I don't want to be like that. My heart's desire is to put him and others first, not material things first or even second.

One of my favorite preachers/teachers these days is Bishop Robert Barron. His ministry is aptly named "Word on Fire" cause it is! He's on fire and his words are on fire. I love how he reminds us that we are called to go way beyond hating, tolerating or "vaguely accepting" our enemies.

I think his likening the response we need to make to the martial art of aikido is helpful. We blend with their energy. My husband has trained people in managing aggressive behavior in the past and it is the same. MAB's key components are based on aikido: go with the flow momentarily, offer no resistance, work with the person not against, be an active listener. There's a lot of food for thought here.

I pray that as you read Barron's reflection you will be consumed in the loving truth and merciful embrace of the Lord.


"Friends, our Gospel today is taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It is one of the puzzling texts in the New Testament. It speaks of loving our enemies. Not tolerating them, or vaguely accepting them, but loving them. When you hate your enemy, you confirm him as your enemy. But when you love him in response to his hatred, you confuse and confound him, taking away the very energy that feeds his hatred.

There is a form of oriental martial arts called aikido. The idea of aikido is to absorb the aggressive energy of your opponent, moving with it, continually frustrating him until he comes to the point of realizing that fighting is useless.

Some have pointed out that there is a great deal of this in Jesus’ strategy of nonviolence and love of the enemy. You creatively absorb the aggression of your opponent, channeling it back against him, to show him the futility of violence. So when someone insults you, send back a compliment instead of an insult. When someone conspires against you, work to help him."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dis-ease

Thought of the Day
By Bishop Sam Jacobs
"There is within us a fundamental dis-ease, an unquenchable fire that renders us incapable, in this life, of ever coming to full peace. This desire lies at the center of our lives, in the marrow of our bones, and in the deep recesses of the soul. At the heart of all great literature, poetry, art, philosophy, psychology, and religion lies the naming and analyzing of this desire. Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with that desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality . . . Augustine says: 'You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.' Spirituality is about what we do with our unrest." (Ronald Rolheiser) What is it that you deeply long for? If it is not God, then our longing will never be fulfilled. We will want more and more and remain still incomplete. But once we realize that nothing and no one other than God can bring us true and lasting happiness, then we will be on the right journey. To stay there is not easy because the Law of sin within us will continue to claw at our heart to return to our old ways. But once we taste the good wine of God's love would we want to go back to the cheap wine?  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Medjugorje Message


Latest Medjugorje Message,  February 2, 2017 [O] - Apparitions to Mirjana

Mirjana during an apparition^
Dear children, You who are striving to offer every day of your life to my Son, you who are trying to live with Him, you who are praying and sacrificing - you are hope in this peaceless world. You are rays of the light of my Son, a living gospel, and you are my beloved apostles of love. My Son is with you. He is with those who think of Him - those who pray. But in the same way, He is patiently waiting for those who do not know Him. Therefore, you, apostles of my love, pray with the heart and with your works show the love of my Son. This is the only hope for you, and this is also the only way to Eternal Life. I, as a mother, I am here with you. Your prayers directed to me are the most beautiful roses of love for me. I cannot but be where I sense the scent of roses. There is hope. Thank you.