Cleansing our minds from evil…

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ImageI was thinking during the reading of the Mass readings this morning how thankful I am for God gracing me with the different prayers and devotions, as well as websites, Twitter and Facebook friends that keep me focused on Him.  I have struggled with being distracted with the trappings of this world, whether it be by financial concerns or the evil of pornographic images that can lead to full on pornography in the past and have sometimes found it difficult to justify even being connected to the internet.

However, the present moment in my life has been graced by many “holy” distractions that lead me to deepen my relationship with the Lord.  I felt motivated to write about it today, but figured that I wouldn’t because I would probably be too busy preparing for my class tonight.  However, directly after receiving Communion today, I realized that I was bothered by a small pain in my head that I noticed that I get right after receiving Communion and I knew that this was a gift of the Lord’s coming into my body in the form of bread and wine, but in His body and blood that caused this pain.  It was a gift that was meant to cleanse my mind of all the memories of past sins and allow me to be further converted into the man who God is creating me to be.  When I shared this with my son, I realized that I should look up whether there was anyone else who has ever noticed anything like this happening after Communion.  The only article I found was someone who had headaches that probably stemmed for problems with gluten, since it happened about a half an hour after receiving.

Anyway, I wanted to write this post today to give thanks to God for this revelation of the work that is being done in my life to cleanse my mind of evil, both in the physical world of the Eucharist, physically effecting chemical changes in my brain, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that has motivated me, as He is trying to motivated us all, I believe, to fill our virtual world with many friends and followers that lead us to a closer relationship with Jesus.  It was in the hope that this post would be read by someone who has recognized the power of God working in their lives through the Eucharist and the other people and things that they have connected to through the internet and will be encouraged by reading my story.  In addition, if there is anyone who finds their life preoccupied by sin and “unholy” distractions.  Hopefully, they will know that if they are open to receiving the grace of God through the Sacrament of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, as well as the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to find spiritually uplifting friends on Facebook and holy men and women to follow on Twitter, and websites that focus on deepening your relationship with God, there is light at the end of the internet.  I hope that I can somehow be a part of that light for someone too.

dc Talk / In the light from nicoletta477 on GodTube.

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FBE9E1NU

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us!

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English: Painting of Maria Goretti.

English: Painting of Maria Goretti. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Father Ron was so inspiring this morning at Mass at Saint Mary Catholic Church.  I am abandoning my normal format to make sure this message gets through.  As I reflected on the readings that were chosen specifically for her optional memorial, as well as the story of her life that Father Ron had read for part of his homily, I realized that if we took the attitude of this 12-year-old girl towards the virtue of chastity, we would have very few young people who struggled with purity before marriage.  It may have been an inference that Father Ron made to the fact she is a model of purity that is much-needed in this world today, but I think the thought I had expounds on his inference.

The thought was that if every person would consider death over impurity, in other words that they would prefer to die than violate the commandment of God to save sex for the Sacrament of Matrimony.  Imagine the young man who is trying to pressure the girl he is dating to take this relationship to the next level that is told that his girlfriend would prefer that he just kill her and not violate her purity.  Understandably, this sounds crazy for those parents that have daughters that are dating the guy that might actually take her up on it.

However, if we look at this from the other side, maybe it might shine some light on the wisdom here.  What if every time a woman, young or old, was to offer her purity to a man in a way that incited his flesh to desire to take her as his own in a way that was meant for the marriage bed, he informed her that he would rather that she were to kill him, and not cause him to desire to violate her purity.  I imagine myself preferring to be stabbed in the heart with a knife, rather than ever be incited to violate a woman’s purity.

If you look at the life of Saint Maria Goretti, you may understand this line of thinking a little better.  For my part, I will probably develop this idea just a little better before I ever share it with our youth, but if we look at this line from the gospel chosen for the memorial of Saint Maria Goretti, it might shed an even brighter light on the purpose and meaning of the reference I made above to preferring death to sin.

(John 12:24-26) :  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

Furthermore, in the first reading, Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians…

(1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a):  The body, however, is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.* Do you not know that your body is a temple* of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.

Finally, the collect prayer from the beginning of Mass is the best prayer to encapsulate my hope in the intercession of Saint Maria Goretti in my life and the conversion of the whole world…

O God, author if innocence and lover of chastity, who bestowed the grace of martyrdom on your handmaid, the Virgin Saint Maria Goretti, in her youth, grant, we pray, through her intercession, that, as you gave her a crown for her steadfastness, so we, too, may be firm in obeying your commandments. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen!

God is searching for lost souls…

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Sto Antônio de Pádua

Sto Antônio de Pádua (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we lose something, we might call on the intercession of Saint Anthony to pray to God for us to help us find it. Yesterday, I attended Mass with Father Ron at Saint Mary Catholic Church, and he mentioned that sometimes he has used this intercessory prayer and it hasn’t worked. He suggested, I think correctly, that God, in his infinite wisdom , must have decided that he didn’t need to find the thing that he was searching for, so the power of the intercessory prayer was usurped by the will of God.

He also shared with us this part of the Office of Readings for yesterday, that came directly from the Second Reading from the words of Saint Anthony of Padua. I was moved by them, when I had read them earlier yesterday morning. Here are those amazing words, that, I think relate to me and this blog…

“The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.”

As we finished Mass, before we were sent out to be living examples of the grace we received in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Father Ron told us that he has a relic of Saint Anthony that he wanted to offer us a blessing with, before we are sent out. It was quite incredible that the whole church waited, very few people left right after Mass ended, so they could receive this blessing. Now, it wasn’t like we went up and kissed the relic and received tongues of fire, but it was a healing blessing that Father Ron used, and it had a great effect on me when I heard it.

Now, to my point, when our souls are lost, it is usually because we have allowed some darkness to take over our lives, where the light wants to shine through. It is my hope and I give thanks today for the deliverance I received from the evils in my life that comes as a result of this healing blessing that I received yesterday, through the intercession of Saint Anthony. I am not sure how this original prayer goes, but this is my new version that I will try to use, at least on Saint Anthony’s Feast Day, from now on.

Saint Anthony, patron saint of lost causes, thank you for interceding for me and dispelling the evil that surrounded me, and helping God find my lost soul…Amen!

Why do we shy away from the real message?

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Archangel Raphael

It was, curious, the other day how the lector who was reading the long first reading from the book of Tobit, completely left out the word “lust” from the reading. It was curious, because no one noticed. We were talking about the service later that morning and no one mentioned it. As much as that reading moved me, I didn’t mention it either. The truth is, it is this lack of attention to the main issue that relates to the moral decay of our society as it relates to love.

Whenever I have mentioned that a man should not lust after a woman, even his own wife, that response that I usually get is, “How do you fall in love with her then?” or “It is OK to lust for your wife, isn’t it?”. Here is the prayer from the end of the reading, in its entirety, with the verse of note in bold letters…

“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers,
praised be your name forever and ever.
Let the heavens and all your creation
praise you forever.
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
to be his help and support;
and from these two the human race descended.
You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
let us make him a partner like himself.’
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
not because of lust,
but for a noble purpose.

Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”

They said together, “Amen, amen,” and went to bed for the night.

This is from Tobit 8:5-9. I would love to hear a comment from someone on this issue, or are we all just going to allow the world to fall further into the rabbit hole of depravity. I pray that we start talking about this issue, and everyone has their eyes opened to the fact that this issue of how we see each other as men and women, even when we are married, is the cause of so many other issues in this twisted world today.

Litany in Honor of St. Raphael

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of Angels, have mercy on us.

Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed”, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, preserved with the good Angels in God’s kingdom, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, one of the seven spirits that stand before the Most High, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, ministering to God in heaven, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, noble and mighty Messenger of God, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, devoted to the Holy Will of God, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who offered to God the prayers of the father Tobit, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, traveling-companion of the young Tobiah, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who guarded your friends from danger, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who found a worthy wife for Tobiah, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who delivered Sarah from the evil spirits, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, who healed the father Tobit of his blindness, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, guide and protector on our journey through life, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, strong helper in time of need, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, conqueror of evil, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, guide and counselor of your people. pray for us.
Saint Raphael, protector of pure souls, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, patron Angel of youth, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of joy, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of happy meetings, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of chaste courtship, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of those seeking a marriage partner, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of a happy marriage, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Angel of home life, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, Guardian of the Christian family, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, protector of travelers, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, patron of health, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, heavenly physician, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, helper of the blind, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, healer of the sick, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, patron of physicians, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, consoler of the afflicted, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, support of the dying, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, herald of blessings, pray for us.
Saint Raphael, defender of the church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us.

Pray for us, O glorious Saint Raphael the Archangel,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
God, you graciously gave the Archangel Raphael as a companion to Your servant Tobiah on his journey. Grant us, Your servants, that we may ever enjoy his protection and be strengthened by his help. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Primacy of the invisible…

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Photo bombed by Elizabeth…Can you see her?

Remind you of another picture?

Remind you of another picture?

As I got ready yesterday morning, there was tweet that came to my phone that caught my eye.  In the morning, my routine does not usually include listening to podcasts from the previous Sunday’s homilies.  However, this one was from his excellency, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.  As I listened to the beginning, I began to envision the amount of construction that must be happening at Saint Patrick’s for him to make a point of apologizing before beginning his homily.  It was Easter after my reception of the Sacraments of initiation that I first attended Mass there.  It was over twenty years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  The homily that amazing Easter morning was given by Cardinal O’Connor, it was the most Spirit filled sermon/homily I had heard up to that point, in my two years of attending Mass.  That homily tied together Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the importance of right to life movement in our country, and support for unwed Mothers through the housing project that was at that time supported by the Sisters of the convent that was attached to the Cathedral.  I remember his homily because it was not what he said but how he took one statement at the end and tied everything together.  I have never been able to remember what that one thing was, and I may never know, but I know what God used to make it speak to my heart.  It was the same way that he was able to move my heart from over 2000 miles away and two days remove from the live exhortation from the current Archbishop of New York.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what it is.  Now back 20 years ago, it is possible that the Spirit was coming from inside me, but yesterday I got the overwhelming feeling that

the Spirit was coming through our Spirit-filled Cardinal of New York and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Thanks be to God for giving us his witness at this time, and thanks be to God for allowing me to continue to spread his witness.

Jesus is a ninja…

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Reading the Gospel today, I couldn’t help but think that Jesus was showing his ninja skills when he evaded the stoning they aimed at him after His proclamation that “I AM”.  I led the communion service this morning and I have to say it was weird saying those words from Jesus this morning.  Not just because they are so important for us to hear that Jesus said them, but because when you read them in the Gospel of John, it is as if you are saying them.

Knowing my sinfulness, I expected that I would be stoned and run out of the service this morning, but thanks to His mercy, I was allowed to stay and offered a simple reflection based on th

e video reflection that I watched from the USCCB website.  I don’t understand the sig

nificance of the ninja theme that has been

the focus of my last few posts, but I have the pro

mise from  the Word of God, that God will work it together for good for those that love Him

and are called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

I am leaning on the Holy Spirit to lead my whole life and I hope that Jesus is taking the things that I struggle with in my life and preparing to reveal to me how I will be converted and continue to repent from my past sins and look to the future that is planned for me in heaven.

 I pray that my words on this post and this prayer can bring light to someone’s darkness and allow them to lean on the mercy that is promised to all those who strive to obey His Word…Amen!

The New Jerusalem…by Jason Roebuck

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Of course, I mean no disrespect to GK Chesterton‘s work entitled “The New Jerusalem” by giving that title to my post today.  I know that his book deals with a time in history when the Jewish people had not yet been given a state to call home in Israel, but I think the title fits, if you read further into my reflection on today’s Mass readings.  Of course, it could help if you read Today’s readings, as well as the Office of Readings that I prayed before beginning this reflection.

Gift:  Wisdom- With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the image of God.

Reading:  

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,

for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep still,

Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn

and her salvation like a burning torch.a

Nations shall behold your vindication,

and all kings your glory;

You shall be called by a new name

bestowed by the mouth of the LORD.  (Isaiah 62:1-2)

Observation:  I was reminded by my ten-year old son last night as I finished up with faith formation classes with the Hispanic community at our parish and he was heading out of the 5 o’clock Mass, that this first reading can be a powerful reminder of our calling as Christians.  He had committed to memory that first verse and repeated it back to me.  As I read it again this morning, along with the second verse and the rest of the readings, I realized that the prophet was talking about us too.  It is not just the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, but the rebuilding of our souls through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Especially for me, having allowed myself to be held in the Babylonian captivity of

English: Roebuck Surgery, Roebuck House, Roebu...

English: Roebuck Surgery, Roebuck House, Roebuck St (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

this world, before waking up to the original call that God laid on my heart.

Personification:  Joy.  If I am going to be able to display the fruit of joy, I must remember that God has called me to be a new creation.  I don’t know about the part about being called by another name, because I believe I would have to become a member of a religious community to do that, but maybe there is something to that.

Prayer:  Lord, help me remember to display the fruit of joy in my life today and thank you for all you do to keep me faithful to your word.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen!

Do we have any reason to be surprised? Or live in fear!

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Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

Gift:  Wisdom- With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the image of God.

Reading:  (From the Office of Readings this morning)

RESPONSORY 1 Maccabees 3:20, 22, 19, 21, 22

They come against us with great insolence and lawlessness.
Do not fear them,
– for victory in war does not depend on the size of the army
but on the strength that comes from heaven.

We are fighting for our lives and our laws;
the Lord will crush our enemies before our eyes.
– For victory in war does not depend on the size of the army
but on the strength that comes from heaven.

&

Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.  (Phil. 2:14-18)

Observation:  With the result of the election being that the greater of the two evils, IMO, won, do we have reason to fear?  In reading the Office this morning and then as the Word continues to embolden my faith, in the first reading for today’s Mass, I am left with the knowledge and wisdom from God that is telling me that the only time I should fear is if I decide to stop following His Word.  God is not only with us, but against these seemingly insurmountable odds, He will bring us to His final victory.

Personification:  Faithfulness. Thanks be to God that the word that he provided for me today is keeping me faithful to Him, by His grace.  However, it is only by continue to follow His will for me today that I will be able to be kept safe from this evil and perverse generation.

Prayer:  Lord, help me always to be faithful to you by following your word and obeying your commands.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…Amen!

The spirit moves us in the Gospel, are you listening?

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Jesus and Saint Peter, Gospel of Matthew 4.18-...

Jesus and Saint Peter, Gospel of Matthew 4.18-20 Français : Jésus et Saint Pierre, Évangile selon Matthieu 4.18-20 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gift:  Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

Reading: Wherever the spirit would go, they went. And they were raised up together with the living creatures, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. (Ezekiel 1:19)

&

* When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.”  (Matthew 17:26-27)

Observation:  So, in the verse that I chose from the first reading today, I am reminded of the Gospel being what moves us in the Spirit, since the four animals are sometimes interpreted to symbolized the four evangelists that wrote the Gospels.  The wheels being a symbol of the way the Spirit is moving something connected to the Gospel message, and I think that something should be me.  I don’t know if that theologically coincides with the literal interpretation of Ezekiel’s vision, but that is what it is saying to me.  As for the actual message intended for me from today’s Gospel, I think it is that even though I may not be expected to give back to the church, more than I give already of my time and treasure that was given to me by a gracious God, I must remember to give God credit for what was given to me from the miracle of my having this job, working for His church.  Sure, it is not as amazing as Peter finding a coin in the mouth of a fish, but a miracle, just the same.

Personification:. FaithfulnessIt is only when I can display the fruit of faithfulness to God’s Word and the church that was instituted by Jesus, that I can be sure of making good use of the grace that He gives me in the Sacraments that I receive.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to be what you want me to be for my family and friends, so that I can Be sure that I am not standing in the way of your will for the people who I can most directly affect by my decisions.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen

Jesus is our peace?

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English: Stained glass windows at Notre-Dame, ...

English: Stained glass windows at Notre-Dame, Geneva, Switzerland. Top: God the Father; middle: Dove of Holy Spirit in trefoil; lower: Annunciation scene. Français : Vitraux de la basilique Notre-Dame, Genève, Suisse. Deutsch: Fenster in der Liebfrauenbasilika, Genf, Schweiz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Gift: Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

 

Reading:  For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  (Ephesians 2:14-18)

 

Observation:  I tried to title my journal entry for today, “If Jesus is our peace, why don’t we rest in Him more often?”  However, I think my title is a little more direct, because it begs the ultimate question, “Is Jesus our peace?”  If we want to have access to the holy Spirit and the Father, we must recognize Jesus as the one who can keep the peace, not just in the world, but in our hearts.  The world is creating turmoil in our hearts, through our families, we must rest in Jesus and tell Him what we need for peace.  If we go on trying to make peace by our actions, we will only create more unrest. (IMO)

 

Personification:  Joy  I have been the embodiment of fatigue lately, rather than joy, especially to my family.  I will focus my attention on displaying the fruit of joy today, with the grace of God making it possible.  I am especially joyful for the birth of my best friend David’s new baby daughter, and can’t wait to see her later this morning.

 

Prayer:  Lord, please give rest to those that need it this morning and help me remember to rest in You today.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen