Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Letting go

I forced myself to write this post.  Lately, I've been pretty busy (perhaps you can relate) and haven't been able to write a post.

Or better said I have chosen to do other things with my free time.

What do you choose to do with your free time? Does the Lord have possession of your free time?

I have found it can be very difficult to make a total gift of our time to God.  It is much more easy to give God a "respectable" amount of our day and leave something for ourselves.  We forget that God wants to spend all of our time with us - even our leisure time!

So what's the next step for you? How is the Lord inviting you to give Him even more this Advent season?  What are you holding onto and what do you think He wants to give you in return? Just let go. You'll be surprised at what you'll receive from the Lord in return.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

So far, so good

"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children...'" - Luke 10:21

_______

I'm working my way through 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC (along with a group of other young adults) in order to renew my total consecration to Jesus through Mary.  Day 8 day began the readings on St. Maximilian Kolbe (probably my favorite guy Saint.)  So far, so good.


The first week was on the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort - good stuff.  If you've never read his "True Devotion to Mary" you owe it to yourself to read it because it is *the* classic on devotion to Mary.  His writings are the reason St. John Paul II chose "Totus Tuus" as his papal motto.  Reading "True Devotion to Mary" was (as JPII himself put it) a "turning point" in his life.  It could be for you, too.

St. Louis' thought on devotion to Mary could perhaps be summed up in simply living out the total consecration of ourselves through our baptism with the aid, intercession, and care of the Mother of God.  Because we want to be faithful to Christ whom we were baptized into we ought not refuse the aid of His and our Mother.  The one who is devoted to Our Lady is the one whom the Holy Spirit desires to fill the most because He recognizes the imprint which His spouse, Mary, has left on the devotee's soul.  When God becomes aware of the perfume of Mary in a soul He lavishes it with greater graces than otherwise because it is a sign to Him that this soul desires to love Christ above all else.  To go to Mary indicates the tremendous desire to reach Christ in the safest, surest, most perfect way possible.  The world can go to Jesus in the same way that Jesus came to the world - through Mary. 

So give all you have to Mary and, in exchange, she will give you all that she has.  That's a pretty good deal considering that she is the Queen of Heaven who is "full of grace."




All of this is based on the reality and teaching of her "spiritual motherhood" over us.  When she conceived Christ in the body she also conceived, in a mystical way, all of those who would be incorporated into His body.  To be in the body of Christ is, necessarily, to be born of Mary and the Holy Spirit because that is where Christ's body came from in the first place: Mary and the Holy Spirit.

To deny Mary her maternal rights would be a terrible loss for the Christian.  

God is our Father because we are in Christ.  Mary is our Mother because we are in Christ.  To be in Christ means to have the relationships His has, especially His Father and Mother, Mary.  Jesus emphasized this when He said at the Cross "Behold, your Mother"' and after the Resurrection when he said "I am ascending to My Father and your Father..."

True Devotion to Mary just means acknowledging and living out the truth about Mary  as our Mother.  If we knew how much she loved us then we wouldn't argue against devotion to Mary because it would make all the sense in the world.

"Honor your Father and Mother." 



"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children...'" - Luke 10:21

If you want to know Mary as Mother then you have to become a little child.  In order to see the Kingdom (which belongs to children) and see its King and Queen then you have to have the heart of a child.  

"Wise" and "learned" grown ups don't need a Mother and a Father. But children do.

Accept who you are and then you will be able to accept who she is; your Mother



Saturday, November 8, 2014

You Promised!

We're very forgetful as human beings.  

We usually get into trouble as soon as we forget the important things: God, our true identity, that we will die and be judged, that the person in front of me is made in God's image and has incalculable dignity and should be unconditionally loved etc.

If we could only remember what God remembers then we'd probably be alright.

Have you ever asked God what your baptism was like for Him? Have you ever asked the Father to recount the story of that great day; the day He adopted you? What did God see when you were baptized? What did He experience? 

For one, God was tremendously joyful at your baptism.  Infinitely joyful.
For two, God no doubt experienced a profound affection for you as his son or daughter.



That was the day that you promised (or the promises were blessedly made on your behalf0 to be His forever.  You promised - vowed - to turn away from sin and always maintain eye contact with Him through Christ.  You promised never to doubt, never to look away, always to be faithful.

You promised.

Did you forget that you've already promised God everything?

Today that includes your intellect and all your beliefs - "God, change my mind in every area that is not in agreement with you.  If I believe anything that is untrue then please give me your light.  Help me be faithful to my promise."

It also encompasses your will - "Lord, I have over the years become very attached to so many idols; so many things that are not you.  I've grasped onto the fruit from the tree of good and evil and it's hard to loosen my grip.  Give me your strength that I might let go of each thing that doesn't lead me to You.  Help me be faithful to my promise."

At your baptism even your body (in addition to your soul with it's intellect and will) was promised to God because on that day - through faith and God's grace in baptism - you became a temple of the Holy Spirit. "Father, my body is the dwelling place of your Love; Your Spirit.  I often allow my senses to indulge in sin and I make my body a divided temple. May Jesus' zeal for Your house - which I am - consume me and burn away all that is not pleasing to you.  Make me more pure and a more worthy temple for you to rest in.  Help me be faithful to my promise."

Of course, like every good Mother Mary will teach us more and more how to please our Father that we might be holy as He is holy.  Our Lady was always faithful to her promises - she will help us if we ask her to. We need to pray often to be generous with God and we ought to be grateful for all He has done for us.  Let us remember our baptism as God saw it.  Don't forget...

You promised.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Why Mary?

Maybe a better question would be, "Why not Mary?"

Catholics are sometimes criticized for going to Mary in their efforts to grow closer to Christ or in seeking answer to their prayers.  "Why not go right to Jesus? Is He not infinitely more merciful and powerful than Mary?"

The answer is "Yes." But the question is the wrong question.  Again, a better question is "Does Jesus want me to go directly to Him exclusively? What is the plan of His infinite mercy and power?"  On the Cross, where Jesus' infinite mercy and power are on display for the whole world to see, He gives His mother to the "beloved disciple" (that's you!) precisely because of that mercy and power.  In the beloved disciple He entrusts every disciple (indeed, every person) to Mary, "Woman, behold your son" and to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." (John 19:25-27) As she was Mother to Him so she would be Mother to all - especially those who follow Him.  Only infinite mercy and power could do such a thing.  As she nourished, protected, and raised Jesus so Mary is to do the same for us.  Here is the "New Eve" the new "Mother of All the Living."




Jesus delights when we approach Him hand-in-hand with Our Lady.  This was His idea and desire.  He loves so much when fellow believers on earth intercede with Jesus for other believers.  How much more must He delight when we seek Mary's intercession with her Son; she who is "full of grace"? It's never an "either/or" choice between Jesus or Mary.  Rather, it is a "both/and" reality where we acknowledge that Jesus, the New Adam, wants His spiritual children to approach Him with their Mother, the New Eve.  

It is what Jesus desires.  He is our advocate with the Father and she, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is our advocate with Jesus.  In this way Mary is very much like the Church itself who brings souls to Christ and mediates so many graces to mankind from the Lord.  

Even if we ignore Mary she is still there as our Mother.  Mothers, even if ignored, are still our mothers. She's faithful in her vocation even if we don't understand her vocation.

But it's time to know your Mother better.  It's time to, "Behold your Mother."










Thursday, November 6, 2014

Final Confrontation


I just saw this trailer and I don't know anything else about the Holy League but I know one thing...

They're right.

Today, to be a follower of Christ, you either choose to be all in the fight or you end up slowing everyone else down.  "Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters" said Jesus in Matthew 12:30.  Any time you don't do God's Will in gathering the children of God into His harvest then you are wasting your own time and everyone else's time.  You either decide that you truly want to be a Saint - and follow through with the demands of the Gospel - or you end up pursuing anything else except what will actually matter in eternity: having done God's Will on earth.

Time is running out.



"His mercy may be infinite but His patience is not." - My mom (wisdom is wisdom no matter who the messanger is.)

This is the time for Mercy - but that door will eventually close.

Decide.

Or hardened indifference will decide for you.

Lukewarm souls don't end well.

"So because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I will spit you out of my mouth." - Revelation 3:16

Pray for a renewed heart and a total change in perspective.  Give God permission to get your attention in whatever way He has to.

He's been trying up to now in every conceivable way to get our attention..

What will work for you?

Only you can decide.  

But you must decide.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Food of the Saints

A meditation inspired by the hymn "Godhead here in Hiding (Adoro Te Devote) on this feast of All Saints.

The Eucharist was what kept the Saints going. I think if it weren't for the Bread of Life then life would have been intolerable suffering for them. Every Holy Communion was an oasis which both satisfied and still more increased their thirst for the God they loved. Love is what took them in the end - regardless of the circumstances of how they died physically. Their physical death was a tremendous blessing which rent the vale of reality and freed their souls to the now open treausure which all their life long they held in hope. When Love called them home they were able to make a total "yes" because they had made so many other "yes's" before in every sacrifice, in every act of love, and especially at each Holy Communion. Their God gave them all of Himself and they said "Amen, I give you all of myself, too." The Food of the Saints - the Bread of Life - vivified, inspired, consoled, fascinated, sustained, and fed the hearts of those men and women who recognized (unlike so many of us) the tremendous hunger inside of them. The Saints knew they had an infinite emptiness without God. They knew their hunger which is why they continually allowed themselves to be fed by Him. The consolation of His Word "This is My Body" was completed by the gift of the Word made flesh in the Bread from Heaven; the Eucharist. "Take this, all of you, and eat of it for this is My body which will be given up for you."

...

"For me?" 

... Do you believe that? Does that amaze you?  

As Pope St. John Paul II begged us let us rekindle in ourselves the gift of Eucharistic amazement. Let us realize Who it is that gives Himself to us, Who stays with us, Who never leaves us, and Who feeds us because He loves us.


_______

1. Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

2. Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

3. On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

4. I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

5. O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

6. Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran---
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

7. Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory's sight.
Amen.



Friday, October 31, 2014

I Work With Sinless People

"I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who raises an infant to his cheeks, and I bent down to them and fed them." - Hosea 11:4

Recently I started a new job working with youth who have special needs.  There are those among them who are very young in their mental capacities and don't have a use of reason capable of reflecting sufficiently upon and choosing between morally good and morally bad choices.  In other words

A lot of these kids are functioning on a level below the "age of reason" (typically around seven years old for a fully healthy child) which means these particular individuals aren't capable of commiting personal sin.  

In other words I work with a lot of sinless kids and it is awesome.

They can't displease God with sin because they don't know how to sin.

What a gift!



(Adam and Eve, however, wanted to lose their gift of not knowing how to sin - of not knowing evil - so they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God wanted to protect them from everything that was not of Him but they said "no" to His gift of innocence.  We say "no" to this innocence every time we choose to know the things God does not will for us - all the idols we love and the sins we commit are our attempts at knowing ungodly things; things not of God.  We don't trust that our Father has given us everything.  We think there is more and so we grasp for more - but in reality we are grasping at nothing; no-thing at all because evil and sin are just an absence of what God intended to be there.)

Do you get ridiculously happy whenever little children are around simply being who they are?

I think that's part of the reason most people are so joyful when little children are around.  Whether they know it or not I think that the innocence of little ones radiates pure joy to those around them.

Is there a more beautiful sound that a cooing baby? Or a laughing toddler?

Maybe the silent enjoyment of those lovely sounds is more beautiful - but just barely.

Which is greater: the wonder of the child or the Delight of the Father?

Maybe that's why a delighted dad can't help but lift his delightful child to His cheeks.  He wants His son or daughter to be with Him in His delight.

I bet that's what Jesus' Ascension into Heaven was like: The Father bending down to raise His dear Son to His cheek.

"I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who raises an infant to his cheeks, and I bent down to them and fed them." - Hosea 11:4

How does the Father want to bend down to feed you today? Perhaps with His love. Maybe all you need right now is just to let Him pick you up and hold you to His cheek.

For He is your Father.  And you are His delight.








Sunday, October 5, 2014

If you saw what He saw you'd do as He does

There I was last Sunday taking a picture of a Batman fire hydrant.


That red flower you see atop Batman's nose is indeed a red flower.  Perhaps a carnation.  Who knows these things.

I had asked for a restful Sunday.   I got a Batman fire hydrant.

There I was last Sunday disassembling the bars and poles for a local outside market when our work truck wouldn't start.  We were able to wait - and relax - for two hours or so before being towed back.  (I even found a guy who can potentially do some much needed repairs on my car for a pretty reasonable price!) We sat in the park and chatted on a beautiful afternoon, we walked around the neighborhood, and we even got to walk into a Catholic Church only to find a wedding taking place! 

It was a marriage between two Hispanics and I noted the huge image of Our Lady of Guadalupe (very important for their culture) on the wall overlooking the congregation.  i happened to be wearing a shirt (which I have rarely worn since getting it a couple months ago from a youth event) which sported the same image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I felt things were as they should be even though our truck was out of commission.  As it turned out we would eventually discover that there was something wrong with the electronic chip in the key - an easy fix - and nothing wrong with the engine.  

I asked God that morning for a restful Sunday.  I got to enjoy the afternoon with my brother in law and see a wedding take place for a few minutes and have some quiet prayer in the back of the Church where no one could see me.  Again, I just felt that things were as they should be.



I'm reading a book right now which I wholeheartedly recommend called "Into Your hands , Father" by Fr. Wilfrid Stinnisson.  The topic is surrender; abandonment to God's action through Divine Providence.  Its beautifully written with constant penetrating insights.  It was recommended to me by a Priest-hermit and then again I felt encouraged to read it by a cloistered nun while reading her community's blog featuring the book in one of their posts.

All is as it should be.  That's hard to accept sometimes.  It's hard to surrender to a God Who has our best interests at heart and sometimes  (even often times) allows pain and difficult situations in order to bring tremendous good to us and to the world.

After all, though, if you were God you'd have perfect wisdom and love then you'd do exactly what He already is doing.  Babies don't see what Daddy sees but if Baby was Daddy then Baby would understand all of Daddy's ways.

Babies just need to trust that Daddy really does love them.  

He really does love you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is there one who would not weep?

Is there one who would not weep?...


_______

Today we celebrate in the Catholic Church the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. 

 This moving video - displaying beautiful artwork, poetry, and vocals - is a tremendous meditation on the sorrows of the one person who most understood and felt Christ's pain on the Cross.  

I think if we knew sorrow like that we would die...  

Mary is called Queen of Martyrs because of the spiritual martyrdom she experienced when her heart was crucified with her Son's broken body. God in rent flesh (flesh given to Him by her very own flesh.)

"Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh!" was undoubtedly the litany of sorrow rushing forth in a river of tears from her pierced heart. (From Genesis 2:23. Note the complete reversal from the first creation to the new creation from the Cross. The first? Adam's joy and excitement at the Woman being taken from his own body. The new? The Woman's sorrow and desolation over the suffering of the New Adam who came forth from *her* body.)

"And your own heart a sword shall pierce.." ( Luke 2:35 Simeon's prophecy to Mary during Christ's presentation in the Temple as a helpless baby. At the crucifixion she still sees her helpless baby..)

How will your life console God?

Love.  Please.. please love!

_______

"Stabat Mater" (english translation from latin)

At the cross her station keeping, 
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing, 
All His bitter anguish bearing, 
Now at length the sword had pass'd.

Oh, how sad and sore distress'd 
Was that Mother highly blest 
Of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs; 
She beneath beholds the pangs 
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep, 
Whelm'd in miseries so deep
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain 
From partaking in her pain, 
In that Mother's pain untold?

Bruis'd, derided, curs'd, defil'd, 
She beheld her tender child
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation, 
Saw Him hang in desolation, 
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love! 
Touch my spirit from above; 
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt; 
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through; 
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain, 
Who for all my sins was slain, 
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee, 
Mourning Him who mourn'd for me, 
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with thee to stay, 
There with thee to weep and pray, 
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best, 
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me, to my latest breath, 
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound, 
Steep my soul till it hath swoon'd 
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh, 
Lest in flames I burn and die, 
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence, 
Be Thy Mother my defence, 
Be Thy cross my victory.

While my body here decays, 
May my soul Thy goodness praise, 
Safe in Paradise with Thee

_______

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Imagine You Were Crippled... There's the Spiritual Life


Imagine this scenario please. (With all due reverence.)

Both of your legs are crippled and you're on a quarter mile long, oval foot racing track with 100 other people who are all suffering from the same difficulty.  Everyone is in wheelchairs and they are scattered about the track.  Some are by themselves.  Some people are paired with others.  There are several small groups talking in circles and a few larger groups are gathered about.

Imagine, too, that 75% (or 50% or 90%, it doesn't much matter) of these handicapped individuals do not acknowledge that they are in wheel chairs.  In fact, these particular individuals (whether by themselves or in groups, it doesn't much matter) are comparing themselves to everyone else.  Whether in thought or voice this particular percentage of people (and sometimes the other percentage of people join into these discussions and musings) are all convinced that they are very fast runners.  They love to think about their style of racing and they love to talk amongst themselves about their own racing accomplishments.  Much to your surprise (being yourself one of those crippled) everyone, in fact, thinks he is the fastest, the best - some kind of racing god.

Now, not everyone always entertains these thoughts.  Many have admitted (difficult though it was) and accepted (difficult even further still) that they are not able to even walk, much less win a foot race.  You notice that the more peaceful an joy filled people are those who have come to grips with their state of affairs.  They tend to be the older ones though not everyone. There are still plenty of angry old people who think they are best runners even though they cannot run at all!

You are bewildered at all of this.  "How can all of these physically handicapped individuals - handicapped just as I am - sincerely think that they can run??  I know they sincerely believe this delusion but why do they deny their own handicap and limitations?"

_______

This, of course, is a parable.  The handicapped individuals are all of us.  The track is our world.  The handicap itself is our spiritual blindness, or our pride, or our sinfulness.  The disgruntled folk are those among us (indeed, any of us at any given time) who like to think we're very good and blameless and better than other people.  The joyful individuals are those who have admitted the truth that they cannot run.

I think we all, deep down inside, for various reasons compare ourselves to others.  This makes us very unhappy - we all know that.  We like to judge ourselves as superior to each other in whatever way we happen to be justifying at the present moment.  "She's dumb, I'm prettier, he's lazy, I'm holier, I'm better than him because..."

In so many ways we have convinced ourselves that we can run when, in reality, we are very proud and self-focused.  The happiest among us are those who seldom think of themselves.  They're called the Saints.  




If the goal of life were to jump to the moon we would boast of jumping one inch higher than someone else and another would brag about his new trampoline that lets him double or triple his jumping height.

Yet, everyone falls infinitely short of ever jumping to the moon.  

The point in the spiritual life is not "How high can I jump?"  The point is to stop pretending you even *can* jump.  As little children, we just have to let the Father pick us up and take us up into the Heavens.  

Christ can heal our moral handicaps and can teach us to walk and eventually run.  He can make "our feet swift as those of hinds and enable us to go upon the heights." - Habakkuk 3:19

_______

“I have always wanted to be a saint. Alas! I have always noticed that when I compared myself to the saints, there is between them and me the same difference that exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and the obscure grain of sand trampled underfoot by the passers-by. Instead of becoming discouraged, I said to myself: God cannot inspire unrealizable desires. I can, then, in spite of my littleness, aspire to holiness. It is impossible for me to grow up, and so I must bear with myself, such as I am with all my imperfections. But I want to seek out a means of going to heaven by a little way, a way that is very straight, very short, and totally new. We are living now in a age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs, for, in the homes of the rich, an elevator has replaced these very successfully. I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched then in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: “Whoever is a little one, let him come to me” (Prov 9:4) And so I succeeded. I felt I had found what I was looking for.” 
- St. Therese of Lisieux



"Unless you turn and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."   Matthew 18:3

I think Heaven's door is very small and only if we bend very low in humility can we hope to enter.  Faith and true love take great humility.  Accepting the truth takes great humility.  To admit what I am... very little.  

Shhh! There's the secret to happiness! Now go to tell everybody you know.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The glass could be smaller (even though it's half empty.)

Such were the words I saw today on a bumper sticker sporting a picture of a half empty glass.

"The glass could be smaller."

...

So are you a glass is "half empty" or "half full" kind of person?

We struggle with negativity, complaining, and pessimism sometimes don't we? I know I do.

Ever complained about your current life circumstances and then passed a poor person on your drive to wherever you were going in your car?

Or have you ever complained about some technology not working in your life and then realized many people don't half a roof to sleep under or know if they'll have another meal?

First world problems..

Now I'm not trying to dismiss people's legitimate problems and real sufferings.  But I do want to refocus our attention.

The glass in your life may, for a time, be half empty but there are still so many blessings and graces to be grateful for.  The glass could, after all, be smaller.  Things could be much worse.

Have you all seen those "Gratitude Lists" going around people's Facebooks? They're awesome.



I have found that gratitude refocuses our attention away from the empty part of the glass and back where it belongs: the incredible good that is already present in so many ways.

To grow in gratitude, to have an "attitude of gratitude" is a great grace to pray for; to beg for.  A grateful heart is always focused on the grace of the present moment and responds accordingly to it.  It has a joyful acceptance, a willing receptivity, to all that God has brought or allowed to happen.  

When you pray beg God to give you the gift of gratitude and continually seek to grow in gratitude.  Grateful people see the truth - everything is is a gift.

And we should always be grateful for gifts!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

*Awesome* Catholic App!

Attention my Catholic brethren and sisteren! :)

Awesome new app I just downloaded called "Discerning Hearts." Tons of beautiful novenas, prayers, talks of every topic conceivable from some of the best spiritual teachers of our time, etc. all with audio available feauturing beautiful accompany music. Also other daily readings and cool stuff!

Their website is www.discerninghearts.com and is worth a look, too! If you ever want something good to listen to over a private meal or maybe you want to listen to a great talk in the car this is the app for it! Check it out!!!

Last summer I listened to Dr. Anthony Lilis' reflections on the retreat which Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote.  I listened to these reflections over several quiet meals and it was awesome.  What topic are you interested in? Marian devotion? Discernment of Spirits? Contemplation? There's something here for you!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What has flesh and blood revealed to you? Broken mirrors and the perfect Mirror

I was struck by Christ's words to Peter in this past Sunday's Gospel reading at Mass.  After I found myself focused on the words "...for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father Who is in Heaven."

Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you...

My thoughts wandered to a question, "What has flesh and blood revealed to you?"  What I mean is "What have you learned about God and His ways from other human beings?" More to the point, "How has your image (concept) of God been damaged by the images of God (other people made in His 'image and likeness.'")

While not exactly where Jesus was going with Peter at the time Christ's words are nonetheless Divine and so transcend time - they speak to all times and to where I was at at the time.

God's Word (Jesus) says something about God.  In fact, it (He - Jesus) says everything about God.  Jesus reveals God totally.  He's the perfect image of God His Father because He is the full expression of God's Mind.  The Father has a perfect, eternal thought and it is of Himself.  This utter perfection (perfectly uttered through and in His love, the Holy Spirit) is perfectly like the Father but is distinct from the Father.  The Word of the Father is the full and perfect expression of the Father yet is not the Father.

Jesus, the Word become flesh, is Himself a perfect and constant "vocalization" of Who the Father is. (If you need to hear what the Father is like - and you do - listen to Jesus and listen to His Sacred Heart because it beats to the same rythym as the Father's Heart.) Jesus is the living, mirror image of the Father.  To see Jesus is to see the Father reflecting on you.  (For the Father always thinks of you and always shines His face upon you.  He reflects on you in both of these senses. That is His delight and you, therefore, are His delight.)



But flesh and blood - our earthly fathers, our mothers, our friends - though made in God's image - are fallen and broken mirrors.  The "Adams" and "Eves" in our lives (those who are supposed to show us God's love and true nature reflecting and shining through them) have not fully and faithfully imaged God to us.  How could they have? A cracked mirror will, of course, give a distorted image of anything it reflects.

This is one reason why the Father's Word (His perfect, eternal self-expression) became manifest as "flesh and blood."  The Word became flesh and blood so that we could see what the Father is really like.  Children need to see.

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14

  "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete." - 1 John 1:1-4

That Word, the very LIFE of the Father, became tangible, visible, sensible.  God wanted us to know Him so intimately that we could taste Him.  Indeed, that was Christ's plan all along.  To give us His flesh and blood that we might "taste and see" Who God really is:  Good.

The "flesh and blood" people we've encountered have taught us in various ways that God cannot be trusted totally; that He is not good.  We have been hurt by His "images" and so why would we not be hurt by the One being imaged?  Our concept of God has been broken by broken images.  



But Jesus gives Himself to us - His very flesh and blood - in the Eucharist to SHOW us that God IS good.  The Father is good.  The flesh and blood of the Word of the Father (The Word of the Father became flesh - think about that) proves this.  God swears He is trustworthy and good.  He gives His Word.

So what has flesh and blood revealed to you?  Whatever faulty and incorrect concept you have of God may you allow Jesus to show you the Truth - Himself.  May God reveal to you - as He revealed to Peter - Who Jesus really is and, when you experience (encounter and live with) Who Jesus really is you will know and experience Who your Father really is: Good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Feeling overwhelmed?


Sometimes that's how we feel inside.  We feel like screaming our faces off.

Luckily we don't have to do that.

Even though the demands of life (both from outside influences and inner pressures we place on ourselves) can be overwhelming at times we have to remember that we're made to experience a continual peace and joy even amid the sufferings that at times rise up in our lives.  This really is possible through our continual outpouring of love.  We have to be generous especially when we feel that much is being demanded of us.

The one who truly gives will truly receive.  However, even in the good that we do  oftentimes we *raises hand* often have motivations in our hearts that aren't "true" or pure.  We can get resentful when our efforts aren't apreciated or we can feel angry that our turn doesn't ever seem to come around when we want it to (or as we think we deserve.)

But what if we always gave love without ever counting the cost. As cliche as that may sound it really is among the deepest desires of the human heart: to totally forget ourselves out of love.

Imagine loving so much that your life was a constant delight. Imagine having a heart so full that you would willingly suffer anything for love of another.  Imagine forgetting yourself for a second...

That would be the first second of Heaven..

Remember that the fall happened when man and woman stopped looking at God and each other (love) and started looking at themselves (selfishness aka sin.)

So if you're concerned about your own happiness...forget about it!

Your heart will begin to remember the thrill of love.  And it will smile.

"Forget not love." - St. Maximilian Kolbe

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Are you pretending to be what you're not?

"Be still and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10

How counter intuitive that in a time that calls for action we ought to not act but let God act.  And more than let God act.

We have to let God act.

We love acting, don't we?  (I mean that in a double sense.)

We love to do and we love to pretend that we're in control or ought to be in control.

Ever since the fall we've tried to grasp at what we think is best and we've put ourselves in God's place (which never works for us.)

Gods response to our active usurping of His role?

"Be still - and know that I am God."


When God is God we don't have to try to be.

We need to know that God is God down in our very bones.  When we know that God is God then we'll know that we are not; that we are dependent on Him for everything.  I've heard this attributed to both Julian of Norwich and St. Catherine of Siena but God said to one them in prayer once , "I am He Who Is - you are she who is not."  Was God being mean?  No, of course not.  Our pride always tries to put ourselves in the foreground in order to say "Look at what I am!!"  But the Lord knows what we really are of ourselves without Him (nothing at all) and He says to our self-exertions, "No, I am!" 

We need to experience God as He is - our Father. Otherwise how will we ever experience ourselves as we really are - His children?

We don't have to be anything more than that and we're not meant to be. 

If we try to be more than the child that we are then we'll just end up unhappy.  To solution?

Be held by and listen to the Father, "Be still - and know that I am God."



Monday, July 28, 2014

To find happiness stop looking for it

Though the Gospels don't cite this, in Acts 20:35 St. Paul draws from the oral, Christian tradition when He quotes Jesus as saying "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

This makes me think of the prayer of St. Francis which has it that "It is in giving that we receive."

Or how about the old adage "Virtue is its own reward?"

I think each of these phrases sheds light on the truth that love is a very generous thing.  It doesn't just give to the receiver but it even gives to the giver!  

What do I mean?

When we pour ourselves out in authentic love we are mysteriously filled up by the very act of pouring ourselves out.  To give love is to receive the joy of loving. To give ourselves away in love is to find our authentic selves.

We were made for love and we were made to love.

I've seen studies that note that Catholic Priests have the most fulfilling jobs and I think that's because they give so much of themselves away.  They typically dont have all the normal consolations which others have in life yet they're happier than most.  Why?

It is because they give away so much of themselves in love that they are just as often filled with the joy of having loved.

That's the secret to finding happiness.  Don't look for it.  



The secret of happiness for anyone - whether a Priest, a businessman, a mom, a student... - is to find out (and live out!) how you are to love.  

Because ultimately we're not only looking for happiness.  We're looking for love and true happiness will only come to the door when we've welcomed in love.  Happiness is the fruit of love.  So don't just look for happiness.  Look for love and, when you find how to love, happiness will find you.

"Where you do not find love put love and there you will find love." St John of the Cross

-MM

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What is our ending?


Click the link and have a watch and a listen.

I came across this song earlier and was inspired in a way I normally am not.  I'm grateful for that. 

The lyrics hit me but also the video itself.  I found the former to be honest and passionate and the latter to be symbolic of what I believe is one of the deepest desires of our hearts which is to find, and to be found, by mom and dad.

I have often thought that one of the unfortunate effects of Adam and Eve's original sin was a deep wound of rejection which slashed itself onto the hearts of all of their children after them.

Our first parents rejected us.  In saying no to God's plan for life they said a strong, intentional "no" to their children, too.  Thus, death was brought into the world and forced upon multitudes who never wanted it.  Many children - you and I - were rejected by the fore bearers of life - Adam and Eve.  We were orphaned.

(Adam and Eve with their dead son, Abel - his death being the eventual fruit of their own sin.)


Though God has always accepted us at the deepest level of our being we can't help but feel from time to time that initial - and all too often repeated - rejection from those who were supposed to image that love from God.  Instead of being shown Images of God we were simply rejected.  There is no pain greater than to be rejected, abandoned.

In the music video the little boy is reunited with his parents who have gone off in search for their little one.  A band member eventually lovingly points the boy in the right direction; the direction of his parents. The ending is how we all desire it to be - beautiful.

But the lyrics leave the question open for us.  "So tell me what is our ending? Will it be beautiful?"

I've shared before that one of the most meaningful passages in Scripture for me is where Jesus says, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you" (or "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.") It's meaningful for me because I have meditated upon that sense of orphanhood that we can all feel; that sense of rejection and abandonment not only from our first parents (Adam and Eve) but from so many others.  "Why didn't they want me?" We can feel alone, unwanted, desolate.

There is no way to heal a wound caused by a lack of love except through a greater love.  If our first father and mother rejected us it is nonetheless true that God intended to heal that human rejection by human means (hence why God became a man in Christ.) We know that, from the very beginning of the Church, Christians have seen Jesus and Mary as that New Adam and New Eve who did not say no and reject us but gave an all embracing yes us their spiritual children.  At the site of the fall there is a tree, a sinful man and a sinful woman.  At the site of the redemption there is also a tree - the Cross - but not there is a sinless man and a sinless woman (the one who is "full of grace" in Luke 1:28) Jesus turns to the "disciple whom He loved" (always symbolic of me and you) and says "Behold, your Mother."  (John 19:27)



He did promise, after all, that He would not leave us orphans.  Every child deserves a father and a mother.  I believe the fullness of the Christian life is experienced only after there is a reunification both to Jesus as the New Adam and perfect Image of the Father but also an acceptance of Jesus' mother as our mother and New Eve (as that beloved disciple did who "took her into his very home" (John 19:27 - have you taken Mary into your home? Into your heart as Mother?) She is the perfect Mother whom our little orphaned hearts have so long looked for.  Perhaps we never thought God was good enough to fulfill such a deep desire; to have a perfect Mother as well as a perfect Father.  A long for the perfect human Mother and Father we were supposed to have.  Did God somewhere along the line forget that we needed a Mother in addition to needing a Father?  Yes, God is our eternal Father; our source and goal and Jesus, the God-man, brings us into God's divinity.

But even the God-man needed a Mother.  That's why He gave her to us:

"Behold, your mother."  

We wouldn't be fully human without a Mother and, I'll be bold enough to say, we can't be fully Christian either.  If Jesus really did give Mary as a Mother to us "beloved disciples" then we are missing out on so much if we don't yet have a personal relationship with our mother.  

"So tell me what is our ending? Will it be beautiful?"

Mothers always make things beautiful.  

In fact, Jesus' mother formed the most beautiful thing ever created - the humanity of Christ.  Let let the Holy Spirit, through Mary your mother, form your humanity, too, so that you can more perfectly image the beauty of her Son, Jesus.  Accept not only the New Adam as a father but the New Eve as a mother.  This is God's plan for His children - not to leave us orphans.

-MM

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The grace of graces for a Magdalene heart

I think if we saw our sins as God sees them we'd cry for days.

Think about it.

If our minds were opened to truly see the infinite (read infinite) love God has for us and the terribly inadequate response on our part we'd simply cry for not loving God the way He deserves.  We'd realize how unfair we are to God.  We'd know how delicate His heart is and how brutal our sins really are - even the lightest offenses.

Mary Magdalene was a Saint who knew her sins through and through and, because of such knowledge, was able to love God with tremendous ferocity.  In fact, after the initial Christian persecution in Jerusalem it led her to live the remainder of her life as a hermitess in southeastern France.

She only later reached such a point of desire for God because she had first realized God's desire for her - and how deeply her sins had betrayed the love which inflamed His desire.

All of us have hurt God.  More to the point our sins have hurt ourselves.  We're blind and insensitive to the truth of God's love.  If we accepted the whole reality of His love for us we'd be instantly transformed into a Saint.

There is a grace we must pray for.  It is, in essence, a great Wisdom which comes through a true sorrow for our sins.  We need to see our sins as God sees them.  The clear sightedness which will result from our tears of sorrow - tears which wash away spiritual blindness - will show us the way of love.  Repentance gives birth to the new life of love.

St. Mary Magdalene is a beautiful, powerful Saint for obtaining for us true sorrow for our sins (or perfect contrition.)  She's a model for complete repentance.  She held nothing back from God.  Her repentance (in fact, the repentance of all the Saints) was what made her such an ardent lover of God.  She saw reality - she saw what her sins really did to her God.

They crucified Him.

(Magdalene meditating upon a skull; a reminder that the wages of sin is death.)


This is why she weeps so bitterly in the depictions of the crucifixion which we've seen so many times.  She saw her responsibility for the Cross and Christ's loving acceptance of it - in order to bring her soul back to life.

"Woman, why are you weeping?" were Jesus' words to Magdalene after His resurrection.  She hadn't yet realized He was risen.  He was no longer dead because of her sins but was now alive -and she, too, was alive - because of His love.  May we find ourselves sorrowful for our sins and then allow ourselves to be found by Christ's love.

(Don't be disheartened or afraid at the thought of sorrow for sins.  When God grants such a bitter grace it is made sweet by His tenderness.  He holds us even as we crumble before Him.)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why are you holding on?

Sometimes hope seems absurd.

It can be difficult, if not impossible, to see passed the thick, dark cloud of one's present reality - but hope doesn't need to see.  In fact, it's not supposed to.

Hope in God is a certain trust that He does indeed "work all things for the good for those who love Him."  It is being sure that God is faithful to His promises and that "the sufferings of this present time cannot compare with the glory to be revealed."  

Hope, the Scripture says, "does not disappoint."  It does not disappoint because hope cannot quite perceive (as it shouldn't - otherwise it would be vision and not hope) the joy and fulfillment that awaits us in Heaven.

St. Bernadette whose body is incorrupt.


I'm reminded of what the Virgin Mary told St. Bernadette (the visionary from the famous French town of Lourdes) that, in effect, "I do not promise you joy in this life but in the next."  This world is the only opportunity that we have to embrace the cross and the One Who rests upon it.  For all eternity we will rejoice with Him in glory.

But eternity is not enough.  We should want to spend time with Him.

And time?  Time in our fallen world is a Cross.  It is a Cross because it involves hope for what we do not yet possess fully, namely, the One Who makes the Cross worth it - and worth anything at all.  Without Christ then suffering is pointless and without ultimate hope.  But with Christ the Cross is full of hope.

And hope does not disappoint.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

No fair, God!

"Have you seen my Beloved?" (Song of Solomon 3:3)

"If you find my Beloved tell Him that I am sick with love." (Song of Solomon 5:8)

"When we search for anything with too much eagerness, we pass it by a hundred times without perceiving it." (St. Francis de Sales)

____________

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for. (Bono)

______

Why does God seem to leave us sometimes? Why the apparently unnecessary trials in life?  "God's ways are unfair" we say! When I complain to God and say, in effect, "This isn't fair!" He often brings to mind the scripture passage which reads, "Are my ways unfair or are not your ways unfair?"  (Ezekiel 18:25) He is the fair One... I am unfair - made so by sin.  

I complain without right.  I suffer but I have never gotten what I truly deserved.  Fulton Sheen said something to that effect.  Even our sufferings are limited by the tender mercy of God.

Yet, even though I am unfair to God in my sinfulness I long to hear Him say,

"Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee."  (Song of Solomon 4:7, Douay Rheims)

When we love someone we want to be perfect for them. Knowing that we are, however, imperfect (though redeemed) and sinful (though being sanctified) we can often feel that the heaviest cross in our lives is our very self.  I am what is difficult about life! I make things much harder than they have to be. Ever been sick of your own company? Thank God that He never grows weary of spending time with us.

Oh, please don't leave me.



I see my unfairness, we all can see it in ourselves.  More often than not we've judged ourselves fairly harshly and we don't listen to God telling us what it is that He sees: You are all fair... You are my Beloved.

You see God doesn't expect absolute perfection.  What He desires (God has His desires, too) more than anything else is a soul open to receive the full weight of His love.  That's why Christ came; to open souls up to the Father.

In our lives there will be trials, yes, but many of them are "unfair trials" which we are, unfortunately, responsible for.  God is very fair (all fair, in fact.) His perfect justice takes into account our great imperfection and, in justice does not treat us the way we *think* we deserve.  His mercy is precisely what we need.   It would be unfair if God were not merciful to such blind and broken sons and daughters. We don't have to be perfect.  We just have to turn to God and let Him have a say in our situation.

To let God speak and then to listen.

"You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you." (Isaiah 43:4)

Yes, Lord. 

Because we can search and search for what we think we need and plead and beg until we're exasperated, frustrated, and ready to give up but what we seek is always closer than we think - it's God.  We don't have to search so furiously anymore and try to improve ourselves to be loveable enough to Him.  No, we just need to stop and be loved.

So be fair to God.  Give Him what He wants for a change.  Let Him love you as you are right here.

It's only fair.

-MM