Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Join Pope Francis for Worldwide Eucharistic Adoration on June 2nd

On June 2nd, Catholics around the world will be joining Pope Francis in Eucharistic Adoration. You can find more information here: Rome Reports

We NEED this!

The entire world NEEDS this!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Intercessory Prayer

I get a lot of e-mails from readers asking about my post on intercessory prayer gifts. Most ask if I can provide a more detailed article on the subject so I edited my previous post on this subject and added information that might be of interest to those who have written to me. I have broken down some of the "signs" that point to a call in this area and have added some suggestions that may be useful.

Intercessory prayer is "standing in the gap" or bringing others to God through your prayers. Anyone can and should intercede for others, especially those who are in trouble spiritually and cannot or will not pray for themselves. We, as Christians, are called to pray for our brothers and sisters in this world.

We are all called to intercede for our brothers and sisters, 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.

This prayer charism, intercessory prayer, is the primary  focus of this post. General intercession is also important and is one of our duties as Christians but this post is about discerning the particular charism of intercessory prayer which differs from interceding in general.

Intercessory prayer opens the floodgates of God's mercy and releases torrents of grace upon the one we intercede for. Why is this manner of praying so powerful? Simply because God has willed it to be so. God is love and intercessory prayer is a prayer driven by love Himself.

The Holy Spirit gives the gift of powerful, intense prayer to the intercessor. It is a burning prayer, forceful, and impossible to ignore. The Holy Spirit will bring the person that He is calling you to pray for to your heart and mind along with the overwhelming urge to pray for this person. It seems as if you are before the Mercy Seat as the Lord shares with you His love and mercy for the one you are praying for; it may even bring you to tears, as the Lord's mercy is a thing of incredible beauty. It is a deep all-encompassing prayer, it feels as if it is being pulled out of you. You are left feeling awestruck at the depths of God's mercy. This is completely the Holy Spirit's work; the person praying is simply the vehicle as a member of the body of Christ. This charism, as with any, grows stronger when the person cooperates with the Spirit, when he or she becomes more sensitive to the working of the Holy Spirit within them.

Oddly enough, God may bring total strangers to you before drawing you into this prayer. The Holy Spirit moves the person's heart to open up to you and they will often pour out their problems even though they do not know you. It's actually kind of strange when this happens, as it is unexpected. Other times you may just be praying in general and the Holy Spirit draws you into intercessory prayer. Sometimes it is out of the blue, but it is enough to understand that He is doing it for a good purpose and it can help others immensely.

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 deep 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.

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 and they may seem to "suffer" more than the average person because a prayer burden can be...well...a burden. Physically and mentally, because what affects the spirit can also affect the body.

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. 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.  It makes no sense...your heart feels weighed down and you can't figure out why. That is a very common sign of a "prayer burden". Especially when the burden comes upon you suddenly. For instance, you are driving in your car and a feeling of grief or sadness comes over you when you were fine just moments before and there is no logical reason for the heaviness in your heart. If this happens to you often try this:

Start praying and offer the prayers to God for those in need. Continue until the burden lifts. You'll know when it lifts by the feeling of peace that comes over you.

~ You seem to suffer more than the average person and yet there seems to be no logical cause. Why? I believe this gives you a hint about what to pray for.

~ 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.) God
  has to signal the need for prayer in some way or another and this can be one of them.

~  Names and faces come to your mind over and over again. We should pray when this happens.

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

~ You wake up during the night and someone is strongly on your mind.

~ You feel a burning or sensation of heat 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. Once it lets up you can stop praying.

~ 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. Intercessory prayer can feel as if you have stepped into "The Holy of Holies" at times. It can be a very powerful experience for the intercessor.

~ Tears for no obvious reason. For example, you are doing the dishes, a face or name comes to mind, your eyes well up, and a feeling of great compassion comes over you. This is a call to prayer for that person.

No doubt there are other signs but the ones I listed above are very common. 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.

God sometimes asks for someone to intercede in a more direct manner (for example: a vision of someone in danger, through words, etc..), especially in an emergency. The key is to pray until peace or a feeling of joy comes over you. This peace is a sign that your job is done, at least for the time being.

Those who are interceding for others can also fast and offer up small sacrifices to the Lord during the course of the day. Over time, intercessors grow in the ability to discern "calls to prayer" and are able to respond to the Lord in a more timely manner.

I'd also like to mention that during these periods of intercessory prayer it is important to refrain from any personal petitions that you may have. Bringing your own "stuff" into the mix seems to interfere greatly with intercessory prayer. It's best to wait until your personal prayer time to bring
anything else before the Lord.

I hope this post has been helpful!

Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to share in the love and mercy you have for your people.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New In The Wall Street Journal: The Father Gordon MacRae Case

In a major development in the case of wrongly imprisoned priest, Father Gordon MacRae, the nation's largest newspaper has once again taken up this story. Dorothy Rabinowitz, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist on The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, published a riveting article on the Father MacRae case on May 11/12, 2013 entitled, “The Trials of Father MacRae.”

You can read about it here:
New In The Wall Street Journal: The Father Gordon MacRae Case

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pentecost Novena Begins Today

The Pentecost Novena for the gifts of the Holy Spirit begins today. Here is the link for those who would like to participate: Pentecost Novena to the Holy Spirit

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Heavenly Matters

Thank the Lord for saints. The entire world is blessed through them and their lives reverberate through the ages. They are like a mighty river flowing all through the earth watering everything in its path. Such is the strength of God's grace that flows through them. They knew that:

Everything matters. The smallest word, the tiniest action...it all matters.

The saints used every aspect of life as a stepping stone to God.

The spiritual territory of a great saint can be very large. Saint Pio comes to mind here, as do many other saints. So great is the light of God pouring forth from these great souls that it gives light to others. We NEED grace-filled souls like these here on earth, especially in these days when so many people are in a state of grave sin. No light spills forth from a soul in mortal sin, only darkness. This is why it's so frightening when many, many people around the world are in such a state - they have given their spiritual territory over to Satan. I'm not sure they understand how dangerous this is. Every person who lives in mortal sin harms others, knowingly or unknowingly.  One mission all people have in common is that we were meant to be a blessing to one another and when a person stands in enemy territory, when they live in darkness, the gifts that God placed in them become blocked. Like a stream that is dammed, the water pools into one place and stagnates, polluting themselves and others around them.

Everyone matters. Every person makes a difference.

The reason for this is that human beings are like pieces of an interlocking puzzle and each piece is unique in that it adds something beautiful to the picture that forms once the puzzle is complete. When pieces of a puzzle are lost, damaged, or incomplete much of the beauty of the picture is lost. Take families for example: we often see this type of incompleteness in many of the families of today's world. Families are broken and this takes a heavy toll on both present and subsequent generations.

Families matter.

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." These words were spoken by the great John Paul II and truer words were never spoken. Human families were meant to form a tapestry of love from which blessings flow.

The things we do or fail to do matter. Because we are spiritual beings as well as physical our words and actions have spiritual ramifications as well as physical ones. Take words for example: words can have a powerful effect on others. Our words can bless or curse. You cannot really separate the physical from the spiritual. A parent's careless or unloving words to a child affect the child physically AND spiritually. Since the spiritual effects are not as obvious to our eyes we may downplay them or  ignore them but they are still there.  Even things done in secret with no one around have spiritual ramifications, both for the good and the bad. Thus, a  hermit who rarely has contact with the outside world can bring about immense change.

It all matters.

God knows this. The saints know this.

Even satan knows this but his pride resists it.

Pride looks down on things or people that it considers smaller and less important than itself.

The humble know differently:

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest thing right and doing it all for love.”
                                                              St. Therese


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Great New Blog!

From Connie Rossini at Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network:

Everyone has an idiolect--a collection of personal speech habits that is different from anyone else's. Have you ever thought about your spiritual idiolect? Since your soul is unique, you have a personal way of speaking to God that no one else completely shares. Today I am announcing the creation of a new blog that will help you find and fine-tune your spiritual idiolect.

Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network is a community of Catholic bloggers who have come together to promote growth in Christ. Each of us....

 To read the rest of the article CLICK HERE.