Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mother, Father, Child...and Jesus

Today, Randy, Michaela and I all went to Adoration together. It was wonderful! After the three of us walked out, Michaela exclaimed, "My soul feels so much lighter!"

Usually I go to Adoration alone because Randy works and Michaela is at school for most of the year, but during the summer I plan on taking her once a week. She didn't pray the entire time but that's okay. I brought some children's books on The Holy Family, The Holy Spirit, and the Saints with us for her to read after she was finished praying. I understand that it is hard for a child to pray quietly for a long period of time. After our visit before the Blessed Sacrament we let her light two candles. She must have a soft spot for St. Anthony because she always heads for him first every time.

Tomorrow we are going to the Shrine of St. Joseph the Worker. We'll go to Confession while we are there and visit the store too. Since moving out of the city going to Confession has been much more difficult because most of the churches around here only have Confession on Saturdays and I work that day. The Shrine has Confession every day but it's about an hour away from where we live now. They also have Adoration both before and after Mass. 

Michaela knows about my experience before the Living Rays of the Heart of Jesus so she is aware that even though she cannot "see" these rays with her eyes they are there - cleansing her soul and drawing her closer to Christ.  

I rarely see children at Adoration (she was the only one there) but I am determined to teach her the importance of this very special Gift while she is still young. Whether she prays, reads, or just sits quietly in the Presence of the Lord I know those Living Rays are piercing her soul and that this will make a great difference in her life both now and when she is older.

God is good.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Okay! Okay! 11 REAL Facts About Myself!

I've been accused of cheating on a meme by two of my fellow bloggers. One wears a kilt, the other likes rocking the boat so the pressure is definitely on to complete it. They threatened to sic the Blogmonster on me if I didn't comply, so here goes:

Here's my photo. Pardon my appearance - I had just awakened and am quite prickly before my morning coffee. As you can see, my most recent dye job didn't take and those stiff, wiry, gray hairs are still waving for attention like little banners in the wind (see Hair Anthem).

11 facts about myself:

1. I don't "cut the cheese" like Victor does, but I DO draw cartoons like a certain fiend I know. As a matter of fact, I love to doodle but am too embarrassed to put up any pictures because they are not much better than my speling.

2. My parents owned a bookstore when I was a kid but it went out of business after they turned it into a Christian bookstore. Says a lot about our country, doesn't it? And it was the only one in the city.

3. I eat sprouted grain breads, tabbouleh, green drinks, and lots of other weird stuff. Once I ate so many dandelion greens that a flower sprouted out of my ear. I ate that too.

4. You know that post I did about our septic tank a while back? We had it emptied only to find out that it was the neighbors "stuff" blowing in the wind all along. I offered it up.

5. I type with one finger which is why I cheated on the meme in the first place.

6. Not only do I have six gray hairs on my head - there is a stubborn, tough little bugger that keeps trying to grow out of my chin. This gained me entrance to the "Old Hags Club" along with Vicky and Puff. Feel free to join. These are the requirements:
~Must be at least forty (or close to it).
~ Must have a few strange wiry hairs growing in unusual places on the body such as the cheek, or one sprouting out of the chin that needs to be plucked (if one remembers because early Alzheimer's is another condition for membership).
~ Must look like a hag with dark circles under the eyes at least 7 days out of the week.
(Kindly,  Puff has offered a few of hers for those who don't meet the second requirement.)

7. I really do laugh at inappropriate times. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry. There are some things I take very seriously though and my faith is one of them. 

8. I deliberately take breaks from the serious posts because if I didn't I would and do cry at what I see around me. These are not tears of joy.

9. When I was healed of the Myasthenia Gravis the Lord also healed my toenail fungus and a large  sebacious cyst on my head. In three days it was gone. And, yes, I'm serious. I was too embarrassed to mention it at the time :)

10. I am a watchman for those of you who know what this is. I didn't ask for this job but neither could I refuse it after all I've been given. I have a lot to be grateful for.

11. My daughter is a miracle baby.

And for good measure:

12. That white highlighting on my blog is driving me nuts. Kind of like my hair. I'm leaving it because I don't feel like removing it....yawn.


So it's like this folks:

Randy "punished" our puppy, Milo, for peeing on the rug by sending him to his crate a few times after finding the "evidence". Never say dogs aren't smart - yesterday, Milo lifted his leg on the rug and then quietly walked into his crate and "punished" himself.

Yep, it's a dog's world out there and my home is their giant toilet.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Discernment of Spirits

Something that I would find rather amusing if it wasn't so pitiful:

I was watching a video given by a priest on "discernment of spirits" according to St. Ignatius' guidelines. Not long into the video the priest basically insinuated that satan and the demonic world didn't really exist and that it is not a necessary aspect in discernment of spirits.


Maybe he should have a little talk with Fr. Gabriele Amorth on that one.

On a brighter note: I easily discerned this spirit.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Mystical Body of Christ

This is what the Mystical Body of Christ, of which we are a part, looks like right now....

Yes, this is what it looks like. It's time to "wake up".

About the Miraculous Picture of Jesus I Posted

One of the posts on my blog that people seem most interested in is the miraculous picture of Jesus I posted. It gets numerous views every single day. Recently, at Mass, I ran into the friend who gave me this picture and she gave me more information on it. Plus, yesterday, I found the printed page she had given me years ago which explains the circumstances behind the photo.

Luisa Piccaretta  was a Catholic mystic and you can read more about the Cause of the Beatification of Luisa Piccarretta at, along with other information about Luisa, including her connection with St. Padre Pio (no, I can't remove the Padre Thanks to my friend, who painstakingly translated much of Luisa's writing, I have had the opportunity to read quite a bit about "The Little Daughter of the Divine Will". 

The picture was taken during a retreat on living in the Divine Will. Here is the story behind the photo:

At the end of three days of talks about the Divine Will, given by Fr. Gustavo (who has a number of her original writings) in Leon Guananjuato, Mexico, in closing, he celebrated the Holy Mass on May 25th, 1998 to thank the Divine Volition. After Holy Communion, the new children of the Divine Will pronounced their solemn consecration (their promise to live in the Divine Will of God).

One of the sisters was taking photographs. When she received her developed photographs she discovered what you now see, sharp and clear, without any touch up, of the photograph of Jesus, which shows Him with a beautiful smile. 

"I am the Divine Teacher, the Teacher of the Divine Will, and the souls who live in my Volition are my SMILE." (A locution received by the person who took the photo.)

If you carefully observe the region of Jesus' chest, you will see the silhouette of Fr. Gustavo, dressed with the priestly vestments when celebrating the Holy Mass, when he was raising his arms in the moment of the elevation of the Most Holy Sacrament at the Consecration.

My friend also left me another "explanation" of this picture - "this is from Vol 12, Jan 7, 1921"

“My beloved daughter, after the great sorrow which creatures are giving Me in these sad times, to the extent of making Me cry – and because this is the crying of  God, it resounds in Heaven and on earth - a smile will take over, which will fill Heaven and earth with gladness. This smile will arise on my lips when I see the first fruits - the children of my Will - living not in the human sphere, but in the divine sphere."

Interesting. We all know it's about living in the Divine Will. This was the purpose of our creation. I'll more than likely post about this again at a future date. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Luisa Piccarreta and some poor translations of her works over the years. Hopefully, in time, we will come to a better understanding of Luisa's life and "mission" here on earth. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Marian Psalter

I greet you, rose garden of heaven,
  The chosen, the pure, the tender one
You noble, sweet rose blossom
           Entreat God for me through your goodness.
                                                                                   [A Marian Psalter]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Living Streams of Mercy

I started this blog 3 years ago during the month devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I did this on purpose because His Heart draws me like a magnet. I named this blog "The Beautiful Gate" because I am a "crippled beggar" who sits continuously at the Beautiful Gate of His Sacred Heart. I was once given the precious gift of seeing the Living Rays which pour forth from the Heart of Jesus. I am not a fancy writer and cannot find words that do justice to the unfathomable mercy of His Heart but on the feast of the Sacred Heart I'd like to say this:

Whenever you go to Adoration you are bathing in the Living Rays of Love and Mercy which flow from the Heart of the  Resurrected Christ. I am utterly aware of this when I go before the Blessed Sacrament. Though I can't see these Living Rays anymore, my soul knows without a doubt that this is exactly what is happening. 

This is what happens to you, too. May Christ be my witness to this truth.

"The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299). By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works." ( Diary of St. Faustina, 742)

"But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out."     (Jn 19: 33,34)

Jesus, thank you for giving us Your Heart.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Judgment of Gloria Polo

                                                      Fra Angelico's "Last Judgment"

After I posted the video of Fr. Stephen Scheier's judgment experience, a blogging friend (thank you, Philangelus) sent me a link to Gloria Polo's judgment before the Lord. The details in this particular NDE are phenomenal...I've never read anything quite like it. I don't believe anyone could make up a story like this and I am inclined to believe it's true.

Reverend Joseph Dwight has her full testimony on his blog. Scroll down the page a bit until you see:
The Testimony of Gloria Polo

Gloria Polo's story is truly remarkable and I've read a few different translations of it. You can find her interview with Radio Maria, which is a bit shorter, here.

I started with the interview with Radio Maria (found a few translations online) and now I am reading the longer testimony on Rev. Dwight's blog.

There are so many things that stood out for me that I don't know where to start. I will say this - it shows the power of prayer and the importance of placing God first in our lives.

Please take the time to read it. I truly think stories like these have the ability to change lives and are even helpful to those deep into their walk with Jesus. Every word that comes out of our mouth matters. The Lord took Gloria Polo through the Ten Commandments and showed her how she broke each one. It's a remarkable story.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Intercessory Prayer Gifts - Standing in the Gap

We are all called to intercede for our brothers and sisters in this world, however, for some, the Lord has given the gift of intercessory prayer in a special way. Not because the person is "special" (we are all equally loved by God) but simply because it is a particular "mission" that God wants them to focus on and to do for Him. Each person is unique and has certain gifts that stand out more than other gifts and it's good to be able to discern what particular gifts the Lord has given to us so that we can better understand how to use them to help others.

In these times the Lord is calling for intercessory prayer in a powerful way. Differentiating between our duty as Christians to intercede for others and the charism of intercession can help one understand whether they are called in a special way in this area...and many are. I believe this is one of the more common gifts. The question is:

How do we know we are called to this type of prayer in a special way?

Also, are there signs that the Lord is calling us into deeper intercessory prayer? How are we to respond?

First, I'd like to clearly state that we each have spiritual gifts and we all share in the gifts of others. They are used to build the Mystical Body of Christ, of which we are each a part. Some have healing gifts (Father DiOrio comes to mind here), others have supernatural gifts of wisdom (such as Blessed Mother Teresa), words of knowledge, prophecy, teaching gifts, discernment of spirits - the list goes on and on.  These gifts are extremely useful today because of the spiritual burden we are under due to the increase of sin in the world.  One that the Lord seems to be giving in abundance is the gift of intercessory prayer.

I'll start with the first question. How do we know we are called to intercessory prayer in a deeper way?

Those who have the gift of intercessory prayer tend to have deeply compassionate hearts. It may seem to others that they are overly sensitive but this is a necessary aspect of the gift. Without this sensitivity of the spirit to both God and others the gift cannot develop to the degree God would like it to. Others may consider intercessors to be "overly emotional" and impractical people. They may have mood swings (I will explain this further in another post) and they may seem to "suffer" more than the average person.

Intercessors tend to have a strong "pull" to pray for others. It may even feel like a strong pressure upon the soul. Passages in the Bible such as Moses intercession for for the Israelites during the battle with Amelek stand out for them. "As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amelek had the better of the fight." (See Ex. 17:8-13).  The passage where Abraham intercedes for intercedes for Sodom tugs at their hearts (See  Gn. 18: 16-33) as well as other passages in Scripture such as Jesus' weeping, His Agony in the Garden, His pleading with the Father on the Cross, " Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."  Passages such as these burn like a fire in their hearts. They are being called to "stand in the gap" for others.

As for the second question, are there signs that the Lord is calling us to this in a deeper way? Yes, I believe there are. This was recently confirmed to me through a book I was reading. Here are some of the signs:

~ Your heart feels heavily burdened despite the fact that things in your life are running smoothly and there seems to be no valid reason for the burden such as mortal sin.  It makes no confess your sins, love God, pray, and yet your heart is heavy. That is a very common sign of a "prayer burden".

~ You seem to suffer more than the average person and yet there seems to be no logical cause.

~ You have pain in the pit of your stomach that comes and leaves after heavy-duty prayer

~ You get bodily symptoms that make no sense. They come and go (here we are stepping into "words of knowledge" and this can be useful in discerning what you are called to pray for.

~  Names and faces come to your mind over and over again.

~ You have unusual dreams about people or dreams in which you are battling forces of evil.

~ You feel a burning sensation in your body and an inexplicable yearning to pray comes over you.

~ A sense of emergency (like a spiritual 911 call) comes over you. It doesn't let up except through prayer, and you long for "alone time" with God to pray.

~ Offering up Masses and going to Adoration relieves the "spiritual burden" as these are powerful sources of obtaining grace for others.

~ At times it feels as if "the veil of heaven" has parted and you are standing before The Mercy Seat.

~ Tears for no obvious reason.

No doubt there are other signs but the ones I listed above are very common. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me write this post and I hope it is helpful to others. If these things happen to you then you can be assured that God is calling you strongly as an intercessor. The answer is to pray, pray, pray. I'm working on another post on this subject about prayer warriors and how to use this gift.

I pray this post is helpful to others. Thank you, Lord, for these words. May they bless others as they have blessed me (long story).

(This post has been updated - Intercessory Prayer link.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Love that Consumes

A post from my archives (June 2011) :

The Eucharist is truly the "Heart" of the Mass. When we receive Communion we are receiving the Heart of Jesus. A number of Eucharistic miracles have pointed to this fact over the years. Here is a link that speaks about one of these miracles - Modern Day Miracle of the Eucharist. As in Lanciano where the host was tested and found to contain heart tissue so, too,  in this more recent Eucharistic miracle the host that was studied was found to contain this same tissue.

We've all heard the phrase, "You are what you eat" but I'd like to point you toward another great article on the Eucharist called Christ's Unfathomable Love. This takes "You are what you eat" to a whole new level!

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the Eucharist. That you share with us your own Divine Heart is indeed...unfathomable.

A post from my archives (Sept. 2009) :

I consume Jesus in the Eucharist and Jesus consumes me. His Divine Heart completely overwhelms this poor sinner's heart. No words could ever fully express the greatness of this Sacrament. We receive The Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ! A Grace and Gift so amazing that it leaves me speechless at times. Just writing about it can move me to tears. We are truly living temples. Sometimes after receiving Communion I think, "How can this be? How can the Eternal Word  give Himself to us with such love and tenderness?"

Cradle Him in your souls, for this is a Love so immense and so all-encompassing it is beyond expressing in earthly terms. Still, these ancient words are beautiful:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and stand with fear and trembling,
and meditate nothing earthly within itself.
For the King of kings and Lord of lords,
Christ our God, comes forward to be sacrificed,
and to be given for food to the faithful.
And the bands of angels go before Him
with every power and dominion,
the many-eyed cherubim, and the six-winged seraphim,
covering their faces, and crying aloud the hymn:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia


                                                       "I gave my Heart to you."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

First Things First - A Book Review

Colleen Spiro is a blogger, an author, and a spiritual director. Her newest book is an e-book, First Things First, A Personal Retreat Journal and is available for download (pdf ) and also available on Kindle.

First Things First is a journal that takes you on a spiritual journey as seen through the eyes and heart of the author. It is written with simplicity and the straightforward manner which is the mark of this particular author's writing style. Many of you know Colleen through her blog and Catholic website or from reading her memoir, The Third Floor Window (a personal favorite of mine) and have been blessed by her insights and her ability to pierce through the morass of our messy lives and reach to the heart of things. She has done this once again with First Things First. This book can be used as a retreat guide or for spiritual reading and reflection.

Whenever we read spiritual books under the guidance of the Holy Spirit there are things that have a tendency to "stand out" for each reader. These things that stand out are often areas the Lord is calling our attention to so I am going to write about what jumped out at me.

The first thing that struck a chord in me were Colleen's words about patience and balance.  "The message I have been getting today is to be more patient with myself. I expect too much of myself. I expect perfection..."

Got me there. I have a tendency toward perfectionism, especially in the spiritual life (which is a mark of pride). Unfortunately, my idea of perfect and God's are miles apart.

 "My life is out of balance."

Mine too. Until we understand that we need to let go of our rigid hold on life (our idea of perfect) our lives will never be balanced. Like Colleen, I have a tendency to multi-task. Multi-tasking robs me of my peace and makes me feel as if I am rushing through life and using my time unwisely. A wise use of time is to focus  on the task at hand and live in the present moment. Colleen touches upon this widespread problem in her book. We live in a world that focuses on rushing and productivity and many of us need to slow down so we can hear the Lord instead of our inner tumult.

And then came these words: "I am worried about the birds. They look exhausted trying to beat their wings with the wind and the rain pelting down on them. There are enough trees around here for them to rest in. Why don't they?"

I read these words over and over. At first I couldn't understand why they struck me like a ton of bricks. And then I realized...I felt like one of those birds. Pelted by the storm and beaten by the wind. When she mentioned trees, a mental picture of the Tree of the Cross formed in my mind and I knew Jesus was telling me to bring my disordered life to the foot of the cross and take refuge in His opened side.

Colleen's book is all about putting things in their proper order. I'll leave you with this quote:

 "First things first. Put God first in my life and let everything flow from there."

As an interesting side note: I have been wanting to do this book review ever since I first read the book but I kept getting a check in the spirit (a "not yet") and couldn't figure out why. Today I felt the nudge to write it and after finishing the review I realized that this e-book would be a good book for those who are trying to discern if their aridity in prayer is due to measures beyond their control or due to an imbalance in their spiritual lives. The Lord lined it up after my post on aridity. The second thing I noticed is the theme of the book lined up with today's Gospel reading. Interesting.


No kneelers? Say what?

I usually attend the 9:00 AM Mass at a small chapel about half an hour from my house but this past week the pastor switched the time to 8:00 instead. There's no way I can make it to Mass at this time because Michaela is not at school yet. There is a noon Mass at a different church about 15 minutes from my house but here's the problem:


I don't get it. How can a Catholic Church (and I am sure it's a Catholic Church) have no kneelers? I'm stumped and haven't dared ask why there are none so I just kneel on the hard floor standing out like a sore thumb. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the discomfort; I offer that up. What bothers me is the fact that Our Lord is present in the Eucharist (the Mass itself is fine) but because there are no kneelers, everyone stands. I don't even care about sticking out like a sore thumb, I care about what this says to the Lord. I mean, is our arrogance so profound today that we feel no need to kneel before the King of Kings?

As for me and my household, we will kneel before the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I can assure you, all our angels are prostrating themselves before the great I AM.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Desert Dwellers Unite!

                                                            I have dibs on the last tree!

Feeling a bit "dry" lately? Spitting out Hail Mary's through gritted teeth? Are your parched throats choking on Our Fathers? Wondering if your bones have turned to dust yet? Or even worst, has the dust blown away and left bits of you scattered all over the desert's wide expanse? (You know...for the birds to pick at.)

Oh, you DO know?

But wait. Repulsed at even the thought of prayer? Is spiritual reading like reading the dictionary (only worse because at least you can understand one or two of the words in the dictionary). Reduced to tucking your Rosary under your pillow (just in case) or clinging to your favorite holy card (blessed of course...just in case)?

 Holy water in your nightstand?

 You know...just in case.

 In case of what? Who knows, but it's comforting simply knowing it's there.

Hey wait! Is that an Oasis over there?!

Cool! I knew this journey couldn't last forever! Relief at last!

You crawl in the dirt under the hot desert sun only to find...
it was just a mirage.

So you sit in the hot sand...

...and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Well, I just wanted to say:

Greetings from one desert dweller to another!