Saturday, July 28, 2012

Great Fruit...

                                                        ...but next time hold the nuts please!

Friday, July 27, 2012

When being firm just doesn't work...


                                                   As you an see, I am against spanking :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Faith versus "positive thinking"

One of the things I have learned over the years is that the disposition of the heart is extremely important when it comes to our spiritual lives. A few years ago, the Holy Spirit, in a very pointed manner, showed me how anything and everything (and everyone for that matter) can be used as stepping stone to Him. Even situations that seem to be quite awful in our eyes need not be a stumbling block and can actually be HUGE stepping stones to God. We know by faith that God brings good out of everything and I've seen this at work in my own life in remarkable ways. Illness, deaths, trials of every sort, attacks, little daily irritations - every single one of these things can be springboards into the arms of God.

It's very easy for us to see how the joys in life can bring us closer to God but at times it's a bit harder for us to see how the "not so good stuff" can do the same - at times in more powerful ways than the happier aspects of life can. The conversions of most of the people I know came about through what  people would consider a bad experience (or a series of them). I'm not saying that the wonderful things in life don't bring us closer to God, I'm simply stating that many people I know turned to God wholeheartedly after a series of painful events or circumstances. God transformed their pain into something good.

They "allowed" Him to.  We always have a choice in our response.

When it comes to suffering of any sort the disposition of the heart can be the difference between allowing bitterness to enter the heart or allowing the Lord to  transform our pain and suffering into something beautiful. We can wallow in bitterness (I spent years in this "spiritual state", unfortunately) or we can trust that God is not "picking on us" (obviously I thought this at one but allowing certain events to happen knowing that He is going to use these events for our good. This isn't what I would call positive thinking but rather "trusting in the God of all truth and goodness".  The words "positive thinking" make me a bit wary in our days because they can be used as blinders or a refusal to see truth. They can even be used as a way to avoid correction or as a way to avoid responsibility. I'm not so sure the term  means the same thing as it used to. Jesus was a truthful thinker not a positive thinker. He was often very blunt in His manner of speech. When He cleansed the temple He didn't put a positive spin on it "Oh, everything is fine and dandy here in God's house so I'll just leave things be." No, He saw the "truth" of what was going on and did something about it.

Look at the Crucifixion of Our Lord. God changed the world for all time through His death and resurrection. All things were transformed through Jesus who suffered so painfully for our sake. 

Jesus never said we would not suffer here on earth. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke the "conditions for discipleship" are taking up the the cross and following Jesus. After each of these Gospel passages the next passage is about the Transfiguration of Christ. A coincidence? No way. 

Picking up our cross and carrying it transforms us because God made it so. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Language of Heaven

There's nothing sweeter than listening to the babbling of a baby. A bit later, we smile and encourage their attempts to speak. Even though their words at first are not clear and sound a bit like nonsense to our ears we nonetheless praise them, understanding that human language takes time to learn. Eventually their words become clearer and clearer and soon words turn into sentences.

Next comes the terrible twos. Every third word seems to be "no" and we often say, "You need to listen and obey Mommy and Daddy, sweetheart." We know what's best for them and seek to protect them from danger and to teach them that listening and obeying are important to their safety.

So it is with prayer. Most of us begin our prayer lives with endless babbling to the Lord. No doubt He is proud of these early attempts to communicate with Him and like a proud parent, even encourages it.  As we grow in Christ our words become clearer but we are still very wordy and the conversation tends to be a bit one-sided at best. Like toddlers, we have learned to speak but have not learned to listen as of yet. Still, God seems to like the sound of our voices and seems pleased with our prayers. We are filled with consolations of every kind and blessed abundantly.

And then comes the silence. With our tendency toward verbosity this silence terrifies us. What did we do wrong? Why does it feel as if God no longer hears our prayers? Where is the leaping of the spirit we have come to expect during prayer?

During this time God is teaching us to simplify our prayer, to pray with our hearts and not just our mouths and minds. He is also teaching us to listen. Listening and obeying are two of the most important part of prayer. God speaks to every heart but it is hard to hear the sound of his voice if we don't shut up from time to time. Between the noise of the world and our own inner "yak, yak, yakking" sometimes His voice is drowned out by the cacophony of  interior wordiness, sometimes by the shouting of the world that surrounds us.

We know by faith that God knows all souls intimately. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Certainly, He hears the whisper of a silent heart that beats like a drum for Him. Our prayer is taken over by His words rather than our own for His thoughts are far above our own.

 The Heart of God gathers the hearts of men into Himself  and when we accept this "gathering" our hearts begin to beat in unison with His. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fading Glory

The sun is shining quite brightly here but our country seems to be going through a dark, wintry night. As trees are stripped down in the winter, I believe America is in a period where it will be stripped of its hypocrisy and the bitter fruits it has sown will be  "bared" for all to see. We've already seen this to a degree and I believe it will continue until "eyes are opened" to the truth of our sinfulness as a nation. Let people accuse me of a lack of patriotism but I won't pretend for the sake of the label "patriotic" to be blind to the sins of my country. I belong to the Kingdom of God first. People accuse Christians of negative thinking but I think we are more concerned with truthful thinking than whether it's  positive or negative. Besides, what is negative about purification and becoming more aware of our sins? Seems like a great thing to me and it brings about healing to boot.

I was reading an article yesterday on the recent shootings  and was shocked by the anti-Christian sentiment in the comment section. Do people really believe that God is to blame for this horror? Sin is to blame. And the author of sin is NOT God.

On occasion I get negative comments on my blog too. I usually delete them but once in a while I save them as a reminder of just how far people will go to offend Christians. As a Catholic I've been told that I'm going to hell (or worse). Once, a man left me a comment after a post about abortion and when I clicked on his link I landed on a site in which the author's sole purpose was to blaspheme God in any and every manner possible. I deleted him as a follower but could not understand why someone would go to such lengths to harass those who have Christian blogs. Or maybe I do know...he was as repulsed by my blog as I was by his. My blog, especially my post on abortion, deeply offended him; his blog and his post about Jesus (you wouldn't even want to know the scenarios he put Jesus in - perverse to say the least) deeply offended me. He wanted me to see his blog and knew I'd be disgusted by it.

The spiritual war going on reminds me of one of my favorite poems:

To the Immaculate Virgin, On a Winter Night

Lady, the night is falling and the dark
Steals all the blood from the scarred west.
The stars come out and freeze my heart
With drops of untouchable music, frail as ice
And bitter as the new year's cross.

Where in the world has any voice
Prayed to you, Lady, for the peace that's in your power?
In a day of blood and many beatings
I see the governments rise up, behind the steel horizon,
And take their weapons and begin to kill.

Where in the world has any city trusted you?
Out where the soldiers camp the guns begin to thump
And another winter comes down
To seal our years in ice.
The last train cries out
And runs in terror from this farmer's valley
Where all the little birds are dead.

The roads are white, the fields are mute.
There are no voices in the wood
And trees make gallows up against the sharp-eyed stars.
Oh where will Christ be killed again
In the land of these dead men?

Lady, the night has got us by the heart
And the whole world is tumbling down.
Words turn to ice in my dry throat
Praying for a land without prayer,

Walking to you on water all winter
In a year that wants more war.
         Thomas Merton

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thoughts from St. Pio on Spiritual Warfare

I know spiritual warfare can be fierce at times and it's a consoling thought to know that everyone goes through them and we are not alone in our battles. I believe they build virtue, make us stronger and teach us to rely on God alone. Padre Pio fought many such battles; he could see the demonic world. Here are a few thoughts on this subject from St Pio:

"The field of battle between God and satan is the human soul. It is for the soul that the battle rages every moment of life. The soul must give free access to the Lord so that it can be fortified by Him in every respect and with all kinds of weapons; that His light may enlighten it to combat the darkness of error; that it be clothed with Jesus Christ, with His justice, truth, the shield of faith, the word of God, in order to conquer such powerful enemies. To be clothed with Jesus Christ it is necessary to die to oneself."

"Temptations, discouragement, and unrest are the wares offered by the enemy. Remember this: if the devil makes noise it is a sign that he is still outside and not yet within. That which must terrify us is his peace and concord with the human soul."

"Do not fear. Jesus is more powerful than all Hell. At the invocation of His Name every knee in heaven, on earth and in hell must bend before Jesus. This is the consolation of the good and terror of the evil ones."

No wonder St. Pio is a favorite of mine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wake Up Calls

                                              "Could you not keep watch for one hour?"

"And yet, while it refers specifically to Gethsemane, it also points ahead to the later history of Christianity. Across the centuries, it is the drowsiness of the disciples that opens up possibilities for the power of the Evil One. Such drowsiness deadens the soul, so that it remains undisturbed by the power of the Evil One at work in the world and by all the injustice and suffering ravaging the earth.  In its state of numbness, the soul prefers not to see all this; it is easily persuaded that things cannot be so bad, so as to continue in the self-satisfaction of its own comfortable existence. Yet this deadening of souls, this lack of vigilance regarding both God’s closeness and the looming forces of darkness, is what gives the Evil One power in the world."   Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

There is a common thread running through a number of online articles and videos over the past few years and I have no doubt it's the working of The Holy Spirit. The word is "wake up". I have posted about this numerous times but I wanted to link to others who are getting this same word also so people will understand the seriousness of this message. It's not only Catholics who are hearing this - it's running across all Christian denominations.

For your discernment:

Wake Up! Be Converted!
He Calls While We Slumber *
Be Sober and Awake *
Watch and Pray
Wake Up!
Wake Up, Catholics
The Day of the Lord
A Spiritual Wake Up Call
Awaken From the Sleep of Unbelief
America! Can You Hear God Calling?
Wake Up, America!
Wake Up Call
Wake Up
Wake Up, America
Discerning the Times
Wake Up Church *
A Call to Anguish *
A Wake Up Notice
America's Last Call
The Last Hour

This is only a short list from hundreds that I weeded through. My question is this:
Are they all wrong? Or is The Holy Spirit sounding a worldwide wake up call?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Love is in the Air - Netspeak

That would be "net speak" for those not in the know. (Hello, Victor? Are you there?) Okay, the simple fact of the matter is I spend too much time around young people and LOL has snuck its way past this insomniac brain and I tend to sprinkle it liberally in my posts and comments. You really think someone who types with one finger would pass up the opportunity to abbreviate when possible?

First, let me say:
LOL does not mean lots of love. I love people but I don't go flinging that love around the blogosphere in a random fashion, BTW. And ROTFLOL (which I do not use) does not mean "rolling on top of flowers, lots of laughter". I love flowers as much as the next person you know. And ROFLOL does not mean "rotten old f*rt laughing out loud".

Is netspeak annoying? Of course it is! But it's easy on the typing finger too. So here's a quick breakdown for my friends who think I am spreading love around like a bee pollinating flowers:

LOL - laughing out loud
ROTFLOL- rolling on the floor, laughing out loud
ROFLOL - rolling on floor, laughing out loud (someone was lazy and took out the "the")
ROFL - rolling on floor, laughing (someone was REALLY lazy...a one finger typist no doubt)

And BTW?

 It means "better than a whuppin", by the way.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Power of the Church Triumphant

As a member of the Church Militant and part of the Mystical Body of Christ one of my greatest blessings is the access I have to the Church Triumphant. And I use it daily. The canonization process of the Catholic Church is very rigorous and the saints are living models of holiness for us. I stress living because they are not dead at all. On the contrary, they are more alive than we are and encompassed by the glory of God.

Everything and everyone can be a stepping stone to God and the saints are the most powerful intercessors of all. Knowing that, I turn to them for help in my daily life, especially in the area of faults, family life and spiritual progression. They love when we ask for their intercession and we can be assured that they are pleading our cause before the throne of God. 

I enjoy reading about saints and how often our prayers are answered through their intercession. Having a close relationship with the "great cloud of witnesses" who have gone before me is a very important aspect of my spiritual life and I pray the Litany of the Saints quite often. Plus, I have my "favorites" and  each has a charge over certain areas of my life; I am not one to refuse a gift that the Church has placed in my lap. 

Here is a quick breakdown of some of saints that "work" with me:

~ St. Faustina has charge of my blog, my own intercessory prayers for others, my understanding of         justice and mercy and other areas.
~ St Pio is my "spiritual father" and is in charge of my spiritual life and progress, along with my patron,
   St Teresa of Avila
~ St. Joseph is in charge of family unity and family matters
~ St. Bernadette is in charge of my growth in humility
~ St Benedict and St. Gemma help with spiritual battles (though I often call on the whole lot of them for this task)
~ Blessed Kateri and St. Tarcisius are in charge of certain areas of my childhood that pop up from time to time. They were my favorite saints as a child.
~ St. Peter and the other apostles have charge over keeping my feet firmly in the Faith.
~ St. Paul has charge over my spiritual gifts and my weaknesses (the thorns in my side)
~ St Dymphna over my propensity toward anxiety
~ St. Therese is in charge of saving a spot on God's lap for me (grin)

The list could go on forever but I'll stop I thought I'd post this because I often wonder why people settle for vague "spiritual guides" when God has placed so many holy men and women as models and helpers for those of us still on earth. It's truly a great gift and blessing from the Lord!

And Our Lady?

She is my mother and I am her daughter. This spiritual motherhood is by God's design. Every single word that Jesus spoke on the Cross has infinite meaning because God is eternal.

"Behold thy mother."

I'm very interested in hearing about the saints and their place in the lives of others. I pray with the saints and also use the Saint Calender to ask assistance on a daily basis. I would like to hear how other people incorporate The Church Triumphant into their spiritual lives. Anyone want to share their stories? You can leave a comment on my blog or a link to your post about this subject if you are interested in this too. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

About Those Mansions...

Every so often I check the keywords that bring people to my site. Today, I looked at them and saw "i read ignatius and avila and fenelon and just get depressed". 

Okay...I admit I smiled. Not because the words are funny but because these holy writers can seem rather daunting at times. When I read St. Teresa of Avila years ago my second reaction (you can read my first reaction here) was "Say what? You mean I've barely entered the castle? Mansions? Is that me over there standing in that cobwebbed corner paralyzed with fright?"  Not that I could move right then anyway, mind you, because that hideous reptilian creature thingy was nipping at my heels every time I tried to take a step. Scrupulosity was his name and not much got past him. He had one serious flaw though - he kept looking at himself because he took himself too seriously and loved himself too much. (Be quiet, Sigmund! Down, Jung! ) I knew I had my work cut out for me.

This was right after my six months of  "sainthood" I think. You know, right after the honeymoon period  when I was booted off my "throne" for the first time. I had dust in my nose for years.

Depressed? Oh, you could say that. Overwhelmed? Hmmm...that would work too. Of course, curiosity got the best of me and I read the entire book anyway. 

Then I tucked the book away in my "cellar". Gently of course. (You just don't offend your patron saint.)

As for Saint Ignatius (God bless his holy soul), I threw the book down in disgust (of myself) and didn't pick it back up for years. Talk about shining a light on one's soul! But there were a lot of things I wasn't willing to see yet so his "spiritual exercises" were left to languish on a shelf until my flabby soul had enough spiritual strength to pick it up again. You can't "exercise" when you are glued to your easy chair. (That darn throne!)

Fenelon I didn't read until recently and I immediately fell head over heels for him. His blunt writing style, his gift of exhortation - every word pierced my heart like an arrow. And it didn't hurt. It didn't depress me or overwhelm me. It gave me a clear picture of the work that still needed to be done and I appreciated it.

Why the big difference? Time, I think. Years later, I dragged my dusty copy of The Interior Castle out again and enjoyed reading it. I didn't feel depressed even though I "saw" that God still had His work cut out for Him.

 He takes joy in doing it. I am not my work in progress...I am His work in progress. And that makes all the difference.

St Benedict Prayer and the use of Sacramentals

Since a few bloggers have been posting about the dangers of the occult and the New Age Movement (see My Brush With Darkness) I thought I would post a prayer and a few links for the feast day of St. Benedict. The Catholic Church encourages the use of sacramentals  such as the St. Benedict Medal, The Scapular, Holy Water, the Crucifix, and other blessed objects. The tradition of blessing our meals or our children (and others) is also considered a sacramental. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church sacramentals are  "sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church."

We use sacramentals in our home. Our house is filled with them, actually. Blessed medals, holy water, blessed salt, oil (etc...) - we use them all. I wear the St. Benedict Cross daily and have been for years.
Sacramentals are used by priests during exorcisms and their use can also be powerfully effective when used by lay people. Though we cannot (and should never attempt to) perform solemn exorcisms, we can, and should, promote the use of sacramentals and prayers against evil in our households. Every time we pray the Saint Michael Prayer, we are doing exactly that.

Saint Benedict Prayer:

0 glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace!  Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things

May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin. Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion. and mercy towards those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance any one who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention it), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul

Help me, 0 great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen

Links - St. Benedict and the Medal of St. Benedict:
~ The Continual and Silent Prayer of St. Benedict
~ The Medal of St. Benedict

Links - Sacramentals
~ Introduction to Sacramentals
~ Sacramentals: What are They?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Wonderful Post

Barb at Suffering with Joy recently wrote a post called Divine Simplicity and Truth and I highly recommend it to all who haven't read it yet.  The meditations come from Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen's book - Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Liturgical Year. Barb shares her thoughts on duplicity of the heart and mind and how important divine simplicity is in our relationship with God and others. Her post wasn't just was excellent. Thank you, Barb.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Moira Noonan's Story

I was searching for a conversion story that I had read online last year and found interesting when I ran across Moira Noonan's story. I haven't read her book Ransomed from Darkness but you can get a general idea of what it's about from the link above. Sometimes the dangers of the occult are best pointed out by those who were involved in it.

In the Vatican Document, Jesus Christ - The Bearer of the Water of Life, we can read what the Church has to say about the New Age Movement. It helps us understand why this movement doesn't fit in with Catholicism and never will.

We are not "gods"

I read a very interesting post today on Making All Things New and highly recommend it: God and god.

I've spoken of my experiences in bookstores where I will pick up a book and immediately hear, "Put that back!"  Often, I'll notice afterward that the book is listed under New Age and was accidentally placed in the Christianity section. Some of these books are obvious in their New Age teachings such as the book Fr. Joseph mentions in his article linked above while others are far more subtle and "claim" to be Christian when they are far from it. Some will even quote from the Bible which makes them all the more dangerous.

Christianity cannot be "mixed" with any other religion. God is God and we are not gods by any means.
It's not necessary to prove this - we are surrounded with this "proof" today. The rotten fruit of our apostasy from truth Himself is written all over the face of our country and world.

It's not safe to tamper with the spiritual realm. We call upon the Lord in this area at all times and are never to depend on self. When we go off on our own spiritually, as in the area of the New Age philosophy, we leave the safe haven of the Lord's "pasture" and wander off into enemy territory without
protection. We become as sheep surrounded by a pack of wolves.

It seems to me that those who are drawn into New Age teachings are desperately searching for personal  power in a world that overwhelms them. We don't need "personal" power, we need the power of Christ
in our lives. The disciples of Jesus were powerless until the Holy Spirit came upon them. The power they received was a gift from God, it did not come from themselves. They had no power without God.

And by the way, crystals are just "pretty" rocks.

Today's Mass readings:

Reading 1 Hos 2:16, 17c-18, 21-22

Thus says the LORD:
I will allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart.
She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,
when she came up from the land of Egypt.

On that day, says the LORD,
She shall call me "My husband,"
and never again "My baal."

I will espouse you to me forever:
I will espouse you in right and in justice,
in love and in mercy;
I will espouse you in fidelity,
and you shall know the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8a) The Lord is gracious and merciful.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
They discourse of the power of your terrible deeds
and declare your greatness.
They publish the fame of your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your justice.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Gospel Mt 9:18-26

While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward,
knelt down before him, and said,
"My daughter has just died.
But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live."
Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.
A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him
and touched the tassel on his cloak.
She said to herself, "If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured."
Jesus turned around and saw her, and said,
"Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you."
And from that hour the woman was cured.

When Jesus arrived at the official's house
and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion,
he said, "Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping."
And they ridiculed him.
When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand,
and the little girl arose.
And news of this spread throughout all that land.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

It Begins at Home

Faith starts in the home. If we truly care about our children then we must truly give them a firm foundation to stand on. What's firmer than a rock? Christ needs to be welcomed back into the hearts and homes of America (and the rest of the world for that matter). It all begins at home. It's not enough to send your child to CCD or Mass and not attend yourself. I mention this because it used to drive my former pastor crazy. People were constantly "dumping" their children at CCD and not attending Mass themselves or the family gathering sessions for faith formation. He was right, too. We'd see a number of folks dropping their children off  and walking over to Bagel Alley next door. No matter how many times he'd stress the importance of example they'd continue to do it. It frustrated him to no end. Not everyone did this of course but quite a significant number. The 9:00 AM Mass was deliberately lined up so that families could all attend Mass together and then walk over to the center for CCD for the kids and Bible Study for the adults. The church should have been packed, one would think, but it never was. And at one point Randy and I were the only two people attending the Bible Study class. 

They eventually made the family gathering sessions mandatory because barely anyone was showing up. Some folks thought this was over the top but how else could the priests and religious education teachers prepare the children for the Sacraments? As the head of Religious Ed. use to tell my mom and I all the time (when we were cleaning the center), "The parents need the classes almost as much as the children, if not worse."

I understand that we live in a very secular age and that this "secularization" of society has been catchy. Sort of like a virus that gets passed from person to person. But there's a cure for this virus and it begins in the home. 

Randy and I are far from being perfect parents but we are genuinely striving to give our child a firm foundation to stand on. Sometimes it feels as if we are constantly pushing against  waves of anti-Catholic sentiment or trying to swim through the morass of "junk" this secular society continues to toss at everyone but thankfully we can turn to the God who "walks on water" and trust Him to steer us in the right direction.

So how can families bring God back into their homes?

I thought this article gives a wonderful example on how to do this: The Domestic Church: 7 Steps to a Proper Catholic Home.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Prayer Request

Please pray for Liz and her son. Her little boy's cancer has returned and they are devastated. I am pleading for prayers for the entire family.

Let Go

Every once in a while I'll come across an amazing book that grips my heart from the moment I open it. One of these "treasures" is a short book called LET GO ,by Fenelon, an archbishop from the seventeenth century. I couldn't put this book down. It's right up there with Practice of the Presence of God  (Br Lawrence of the Resurrection). I'd like to recommend this book to those who are struggling and having trouble "letting go and letting God".  The book is so good that I keep going back to it again and again. Here are some "gems" from the book:

"Whatever spiritual knowledge or feelings we may have, they are all a delusion if they do not lead us to the real and constant practice of dying to self. And it is true we do not die without suffering. Nor is it possible to be considered truly dead while there is any part of us which is yet alive. This spiritual death is undeniably painful. It cuts 'swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are.' The great Physician who sees in us what we cannot see, knows exactly where to place the knife. He cuts away that which we are most reluctant to give up."

"You have been asking for comfort and peace. But you do not understand that you have been lead to the brink of the fountain and are refusing to drink."

"Though it sounds strange to say it I am rejoicing that God has reduced you to a state of weakness. Your ego can neither be convinced nor forced into submission by any other means; it is always finding secret lines of supply from your own courage; it is discovering impenetrable retreats in your own cleverness."

"I beg you not to listen to self. Self-love whispers in one ear and God in the other."

"You can always tell when self is speaking. Self always wants to entertain itself and never feels sufficiently well attended to."

I came across this book by accident but I'm glad it fell into my hands. I have a hard copy of the book but  
read the samples from my Kindle too since there are a few translations of it. I recommend the version put out by Whitaker House to begin with because it's clear, concise, and easy to read.

Friday, July 6, 2012

If the Shoe Fits...

I loved the readings for Mass, Wednesday the 4th.  "How fitting!" I couldn't help but think. "Both the readings from the Old Testament and the New!"

And then I wondered, "Are people REALLY hearing them and letting them sink deeply into their hearts or do they imagine that they do not apply to each of us who live in this day and age?"

I decided to post these readings.

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,
be with you as you claim!
Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;
Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.

I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD,
I take no pleasure in your solemnities;
Your cereal offerings I will not accept,
nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.
Away with your noisy songs!
I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.
But if you would offer me burnt offerings,
then let justice surge like water,
and goodness like an unfailing stream.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 16bc-17

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Hear, my people, and I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you;
God, your God, am I."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"For mine are all the animals of the forests,
beasts by the thousand on my mountains.
I know all the birds of the air,
and whatever stirs in the plains, belongs to me."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"If I were hungry, I should not tell you,
for mine are the world and its fullness.
Do I eat the flesh of strong bulls,
or is the blood of goats my drink?"
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?"
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel Mt 8:28-34

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,
two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, "What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?"
Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.
The demons pleaded with him,
"If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine."
And he said to them, "Go then!"
They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
where they drowned.
The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.
Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

America reminds me of this town in the Gospel reading that begged the Lord to "leave their district".  We have systematically removed God from almost every area of our lives here in the U.S.

But then again, we didn't beg Him to leave...

We booted Him out.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Celebrate Yesterday?

Celebrate what? Our bondage to sin? The 4th of July. Independence Day. I love my country but it's hard to celebrate freedom when you can clearly see its enslavement to sin. I will celebrate when the people of this country are free, not while they are in bondage and can't even see it. America has no idea just how far it has fallen. There must be a widespread return to the Lord. We are presuming upon His mercy without the necessary repentance to obtain that mercy. We aren't talking about small human faults here...we are talking about grave sin and deep internal rot. So, am I supposed to rejoice and celebrate a nation so hardened by sin that what was once clearly understood as evil has not only become the norm but is thought of as "right" and "good" by millions?

"O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes. Mourn as for an only child with bitter wailing, For sudden upon us comes the destroyer." Jer. 6:26

"But they refused to listen; they stubbornly turned their backs and stopped their ears so as not to hear. And they made their hearts diamond-hard...."  Zec. 7:11

"Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted and I heal them."  Mt 13:15

"Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, over the destruction which overwhelms the
virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound.   Jer.  Ch. 14:17

"Give ear, listen humbly,
    for the Lord speaks.
  Give glory to the Lord, your God,
    before it grows dark;
  Before your feet stumble
     on darkening mountains;
  Before the light you look for turns to 
    changes into black clouds.
  If you do not listen to this in your pride,
     I will weep in secret many tears;
  My eyes will run with tears
    for the Lord's flock, led away to exile." Jer. 13:15-17