That’s real mature!

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Remembering back to my high school days, we used to say that all the time.  “That’s real mature!”  It was our response to something that we considered quite infantile or below us.  The truth is, we didn’t know what real maturity even looked like, and left to my own devices or “vices” I don’t think I would have ever learned what maturity looks like.  I was just going to re-post a link to something I read this morning, but instead of doing that I am going to share on this post the things that most spoke to my heart this morning.

Anyway, it was the discussion about the fact that in emotional maturity, the heart ascends before the intellect, or better said, it is the heart that is always leading the intellect.  Allison, the author of the post I read, says, “In this modern age where much emphasis is given to reason and intellectual pursuit, even in many Catholic circles, this teaching is very important to understand. God communicates with us in our hearts, making spiritual maturity not only an endeavor of the intellect–knowing right and wrong, but one of the heart–developing a “listening ear” so to speak, and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Read more: http://spiritualdirection.com/2014/10/22/emotional-and-spiritual-maturity-whats-difference-part-i-of-ii#ixzz3GtncOjdm

To me, this is very important because I often think, as a man, that I may be spending too much time on the affairs of the heart and it might help to focus more on those things that I can figure out through reason and my brain.  However, it helps me to know that by focusing on the heart, I can be sure that the reason that is necessary to support the emotional stability will be supplied by my being focused on studying the right things.

As for the spiritual maturity, Allison writes, “Just as we understand emotional maturity as the ability to experience warmth and affection and to guide our emotions effectively by reason, spiritual maturity can then be understood as growth in a loving and warm relationship with Christ and the effective guidance of both our reason and our emotions by virtue.

Read more: http://spiritualdirection.com/2014/10/22/emotional-and-spiritual-maturity-whats-difference-part-i-of-ii#ixzz3GtptfnlN

Therefore, our need to consecrate ourselves to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, will only continue to provide the opportunities to grow in virtue that supports our faith.  I think tomorrow, I will be led to speak more about the importance of receiving the Body of Christ, or the heart of Jesus in the Eucharist, that leads us to displaying the virtue instead of the “vices”!

Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death…Amen!

My brother died…

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It was last Saturday, and I had just dropped my son off at the line for Confession with Father Jaspers.  One of my friends I saw in line was quite upset, and they looked at me as if they needed to tell me something.  As I left the church, with my son in line with some of his friends that were in his Confirmation class last year, I was met by someone who told me that they had some news about someone that I know.  As we walked together to the Education Center building, she told me that the young man, who was the father of my friend, who was in line in confession, committed suicide.  At first, I thought I would post his name on here to show that he is a real person, but I would rather not put him and his family on blast about this horrible incident in their lives.

However, the reason this suicide affects me so deeply is that I actually had a relationship with this young man through his place of business, as well as through his baby’s mom.  So, I am left with the thought that in my interactions with him, why did I never invite him to come to the church?  Was it because he was not married to the mother of his son?  Was it just because I thought that he was young and had plenty of time to decide to follow Jesus?  Whatever the reason, it is pointless now because I will not have a chance to invite him to come to church and find a reason for hope, because he already decided that it was time to give in to despair.  It is sad, and his funeral is tomorrow, so I will have some time to deal with the grief of losing someone from my life who had quite an impact on me, despite the limited time that we spent together this side of heaven.

However, the reason I am bringing up the story of this young man is because there are millions of young men just like him, or with a similar story, who need a reason to believe.  Does it matter where we meet them?  Does it matter what there story is?  Do they have plenty of time to decide to follow Jesus?  The answer is, not necessarily!  We should be inviting them to come find a reason for hope.  It doesn’t matter what circumstances led them to come into our lives, we are called to tell them about Jesus and all he has done for us and invite them to come to him and his church.  Our brothers and sisters are out there in the world waiting to be given a reason to hope for the future.  The future that is right now, not tomorrow!

Thank you Jesus for giving me a reason to hope and the ability to share it with others!  I pray that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother and my Mother, I will be led to share the good news with everyone I meet today.

Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death…Amen!

When we eat this bread…

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I was praying the rosary Wednesday morning, and I realized that when we eat the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, we are participating in the Resurrection of Jesus by allowing him to be incarnated again in us.  As I prayed the 1st glorious mystery, the realization that I could be the incarnation of God after consuming his Body and Blood was short lived, because I remembered that the fact that his presence only stays with us for about 10 minutes was explained to me through a homily I heard just yesterday.  Anyway, as I got into the Ascension of Jesus or the 2nd glorious mystery, I realized that if we were united to him through his resurrection, we were also united to him through the Ascension, and if only for a brief moment we can be taken up to heaven with Jesus through his power that has ascended to the Father.  Finally, it was the Descent of the Holy Spirit, or the 3rd glorious mystery that reminded me that because he has left us here on earth, even though our hearts are transported to heaven with him, he is sending the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us to the work that is left to do here on earth until Jesus comes the final time to earth.

advent.jpgI finished my night last night at the Newman Center, where I received the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist.  I remember feeling the presence of Jesus when I received him in the form of bread and wine, and I distinctly remember feeling the presence leaving me and having the conscious thought that now I need to live by the direction of the Holy Spirit, if I want to stay in communion with God.  Thanks be to God and all glory to him who has revealed these truths to me and to anyone who he wishes to share his truth with through me.

Come Lord Jesus!

Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death…Amen!

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us…

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When I think about the love I felt in the church the other day, this is the love that I think of…

From a work by Saint Teresa of Avila, virgin
Let us always be mindful of Christ’s love

If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight.

Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.

What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.

Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favours, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort. (end of quote from Saint Teresa of Avila)

Question is…What will we accomplish today with the power of this great love?

Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death…Amen!

The prophet John says, “He is coming!”

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How do I put into words what happened to me yesterday? It was a unique experience for me, for sure. One that, may have happened before in some inferior form of what happened yesterday, but it was a dramatic response to an intercessory prayer request to Sister Lucia, who I had decided to pray in order to try to offer my proof that she was in heaven.

It was right before noon yesterday, when my phone alarm went off to remind me that daytime prayer was due in fifteen minutes. I consciously said that I better go pray right at 11:45 am or I will get busy and forget. IMG_20141014_104111I walked into the church, picture to be inserted later today, and wondered in my head how to pray for the intercession of Sister Lucia, since she has not been beautified by the church yet. Her brother and sister have been, but not her yet. Anyway, I sat down to pray and found myself singing and praising God as I have done by myself in the church plenty of times before, wondering if someone will walk in and ask, “What is that noise?” I was trying to stay on key, as much as possible, and getting lost in the prayer, and surrender my will to the Word of God that I was proclaiming through the liturgy of the hours.IMG_20141014_161810

I got to the spot in the prayer where we take a moment to be silent. I remember now that I had stopped the audio because the podcast was not playing without glitching, so I thought I should pray it on my own. When I got to the spot the call for Sacred Silence, I remember thinking that there was no bell to remind me to take a few moments to be silent. I decided to just be silent on my own, and I thought that I would listen for a bell to indicate when the silence should end. It was going through my mind as I sat in silence, that sitting there waiting for a bell to ring was quite ridiculous. I remember thinking that maybe the Lutheran church bell would ring at noon, which should be in only a minute or two. I also remember thinking that I should take one of the creaks in the roof that I heard as a bell, but decided that I was being too emotional about the bell and finally gave up on it. I was thinking that I would wait a few more moments until I could feel the Holy Spirit move me back to finish the prayer.

And then it happened, I heard the bell. It was my phone alarm from a Twitter post that had just posted. I had an immediate reaction to the chime, and got very emotional, happy and startled at the same time.  I started to laugh at myself for the emotional reaction I was having to a chime from my phone. I decided to look at my phone and see what the tweet was all about to figure out if my reaction was warranted or not. I am still laughing out loud at this point and I realized that as I was laughing, I had started to cry and as I noticed that the tweet was about Pope Francis’ message from the Santa Marta yesterday, I completely lost control of my emotions and was sobbing uncontrollably and laughing at the same time.
Looking back at the Pope’s message later, I couldn’t see how his message or the end of the daytime prayer was causing this reaction, so I know not that it was a special grace from God and I am thankful for it.

So, I finished the prayer and read the Pope’s message, which was quite beautiful about Jesus being the fulfillment of the law and how our relationship with him should be drawing us in to his commandments, but we should not look to the law as the fulfillment in and of itself, because that is what the Pharisees were doing when they justified killing the Messiah by following the law and because they loved the law more than God himself.IMG_20141014_162309

Anyway, I went to walk behind the altar.  I was going back there to grab a ladder to reach the temporary sign that Father had put up on the entrance wall outside the church.  I figured that I would get back to work and ignore what just happened, because I was getting the overwhelming feeling that God was revealing something to me about the message of Our Lady of Fatima and to deliver it, I was going to have to give up my will completely and know that I would become a disgrace to my family and probably a laughing-stock to most people who would find the message too hard to hear.  As I stood there looking at the utility ladders, I realized Jesus was calling me back to finish what he started. IMG_20141014_161953 I peaked around the corner to look at Jesus in the tabernacle and realized that he was drawing me in.  As soon as my knees hit the floor, I started sobbing uncontrollably again and still was quite joy-filled during this fit of severe weeping.  There was intermittent laughing in the midst of the sobbing, and I found myself prostrate on the floor with my head and hands out in front of my body, in a position of complete submission to Our Lord.  I continued crying and laughing for a few minutes without giving much thought to the fact that anyone could walk into the church at any moment. IMG_20141014_161941 I was thinking about the fact that what was being asked of me is not comfortable to my flesh, and it was not supposed to be comfortable.  I felt like there is no way I could ever say no to God.  I could feel how much he loved me, and I wanted to return that love by being submissive to whatever he was asking of me.  When I got up from my knees, I went to wash my face and pull myself back together.  I went back to get the ladder and finish the job that I had went behind the altar to start after my prayer.

I was working on setting up the ladder, as someone drove up asking another parishioner that was leaving the office, if she could just drop some donated food in front of the church.  I leaned out around the tree, and told her that I would let her in to the church.  I noticed that she was quite proud of herself for bringing her surplus food, including some free coffee packets from hotels she had stayed at, and wanted to make sure that I knew how smart she was for thinking to give them and not throw them away. IMG_20141014_162648 After I got the new sign installed on the front wall of the church, I started to think about what was being asked of me.  Now, when I think back to that encounter with that woman, who I can’t remember her name, I realize that she is like most of us.  She was living out her faith in a way that was convenient for her, and quite proud of the fact that she had figured out a need in our community and was, in her own way, filling that need.  Isn’t that true about most of us and our faith?

When was the last time that I stood up for the undernourished in our community?  Both spiritually and physically undernourished people are being fed here, including myself and my family, but who is fighting for us and making sure that we have enough.  Anyway, I talked to Father Jaspers about what had happened to me in the church, except that last part that I just came up with from the encounter with that woman.  He gave me a hug and told me that is what he gets paid the big bucks for, to hear our crazy stories and respond with reverence and compassion for our craziness.

We both decided that the main purpose of the message that God is asking me to deliver is…Jesus is coming…Yesterday was the 97th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun or 6th apparition of Our Lady to the Children of Fatima, on October 13th, 1917.  The Seventh Anniversary of Sister Lucia’s death will be February 13th of next year, and she was 97 years old when she died.  I don’t know what it means, but before Father had come into my office and heard my testimony of what I just experienced in the church, I had started this post with the title…Here he comes!  IMG_20141013_073838I told Father that I remember that the Apostles and disciples of Jesus were constantly talking about Jesus’ return as if it was eminent, as in it would happen during their lifetime, and the reason is that God knows our human nature and if we think his return is not coming for a while, we will get lazy about spreading the good news about his mercy.  We would be thinking that we have plenty of time to answer the call to tell people that God sent Jesus to earth to forgive our sins and his love is available to them now on earth in the form of his mercy.  No matter what we have done in the past, he stands ready to forgive us through the power of his Son, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.  The urgent message for me and for the whole world hasn’t changed in over 2000 years…Repent, and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death…Amen!

What good news is Christ to me today?

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This is picture my daughter colored!

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The second reading from Phillipians 4:13 – What all things can we do with his strength who empowers us? Paul says earlier in the second reading for today’s Mass readings, that we need to know how to live in abundance and with plenty. In other words, poverty is a gift from God. A generous heart gives itself completely whether it is rich or poor!

The “Blood Moon” was and is a prophetic voice to all Christians!

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I read an advertisement this morning about the way Kirk Cameron and the producers of a new movie called, “Saving Christmas” is going to try and save Christmas with this new movie that comes out just in time for the stores to prove what Christmas is really all about in this world. I realize that as Christians we have missed the message of the “Blood Moon’s” of the past and I think God does not want us to miss it this time. The point of Christmas is to reveal to us the incarnation of Christ, but it would not have been possible without Mary’s, “Yes.”

A little context before I dive into the meaning of the “Blood Moon” to our world today. I think the reference was first made to me about the moon being a symbol of Mary, while I was doing a retreat called “33 Days to Morning Glory” that led to my first consecration to Jesus through Mary. If you think about what the moon does, it does not shine on its own, it reflects the light of the sun. Mary does not shine on her own, she reflects the light of the Son. As I looked up at the lunar eclipse, I thought about the fact that the world is shading the light of sun, so that we saw the moon as a shaded or “bloody” version of itself.

(Thanks to Father Matthew for getting this picture this morning in DC and posting it on Instagram!)

In today’s world, we have lost the true image of who Mary is, because the world is blocking the Son’s light from shining through her. We are told that she is just an ordinary woman, who happened to carry Jesus for nine months and give birth to him. Although most Christians will agree that the circumstances of her pregnancy were quite fantastic, they stop short of giving her any credit for being anything other than, an unworthy vessel of the grace that God sent to us through the birth of his Son. We talked about the 28th verse from the first Chapter of Luke’s Gospel account on Monday night with the Young Adult group at our church, and I think it is worth repeating here for all of us to reflect on when considering this point. The angel Gabriel was sent to Mary in the town of Nazareth…
And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)
So, this creature of heaven who is in perfect communion with God, the Angel Gabriel, says that she worthy of “hailing” or giving honor that would be due a Queen or noble person that was in a position higher than him. We have lost touch with the noble position of honor that God chose for Mary and we have relegated her position to one of antiquity.

We have done her and all women a disservice by forgetting that God planned to make all things right with the world, through the power of a woman, and that woman’s name is Mary, the mother of God. He gave her the great honor of being born of her, so that we would know what a perfect woman looks like, and our daughters would have a model to look up to, and our son’s would have a spiritual mother to gaze on to better understand chastity. We have lost sight of it, because our vision was distorted for a moment by the world’s view of our faith. Good news, the moon will be back out at full strength tonight, and so is the power of our Mother’s intercession at full strength right now. Will you be ready to take advantage of it, or are you going to let the world continue to blur your vision? I choose to not be deterred by the world’s vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I choose to pray with and through her intercession for the conversion of the whole world…

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death…Amen!

Are you with me?