Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Magnificat of the Shepherds

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us."

So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. Luke 2 15:20

My soul delights in the greatness of the people summoned by angels,

And my spirit embraces each puzzled face that peers through the lamplight at the warm-bundled gift of our song-filled God.

As our eyes meet, joy flows between us and our chins are lifted with gladness.

Yes, from this day forward all generations shall raise their voices to proclaim those who gather here as blessed, for the

Almighty has done great things for us.

Holy are the simple people.

And God’s mercy reaches from age to age for those who would join hands and follow a holy calling.

The power of wonder has called them from the meadows;
they are no longer cold.  

Kings sit alone in their palaces,
and we laugh together in this comfortable place.

In the midst of this night we have shared the bread and meat of our haversacks and our wineskins pass from mouth to mouth.

The kitchen of the inn is long locked and shuttered.
Come, God of Israel, celebrate with your people.  
 Magnificat of the Sheperds, Ann Johnson Miryam of Nazareth

Laughter could be heard throughout the streets of Bethlehem as men and woman made merry. But it was in the quiet of this humble stable that true joy was found, where hope entered the world. May we too, be like the simple shepherds, glorifying and praising God for what we have seen and heard.

"Dear children! Today, I and my Son desire to give you an abundance of joy and peace so that each of you may be a joyful carrier and witness of peace and joy in the places where you live. Little children, be a blessing and be peace. Thank you for having responded to my call." December 25, 2010 Message to Marija

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Juggler

Her juggling act was superb! The more she practiced the better she got and it seemed as though every week she was adding another ball. As a result, her act was getting bigger and bigger. Practice took up more and more of her time; soon it consumed her.

She began to get cranky, a sign of fatigue. The simple things she loved to do, well, there just wasn’t time to do them. Depression was becoming a frequent companion. Happiness had lost itself along the way.

Driving home one night, after another long day of juggling, she drove by a church and decided to go in. As she entered she blessed herself with holy water, noticing how quite everything was, and she took a seat up front close to the tabernacle.

It took a minute or two for her to settle herself down; she was so use to juggling. As she relaxed, many thoughts, memories and people came into her mind. Soon, she began to talking to God in a way she hadn’t done in quite some time and wondered why it had taken her so long to come here.

When she was done she sat there before Him, silently and peacefully. When it was time for her to go, she thanked Him for listening to her and for being there. She felt so refreshed and wondered if she would continue to juggle as much as she had before.

"Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac, p. 196

"Dear children! I call you to work on your personal conversion. You are still far from meeting with God in your heart. Therefore, spend all the more time in prayer and Adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, for Him to change you and to put into your hearts a living faith and a desire for eternal life. Everything is passing, little children, only God is not passing. I am with you and I encourage you with love. Thank you for having responded to my call." BVM Message of March 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Open Your Hearts

"The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But the coming of Christ and his presence among us—as one of us—give us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned. 1

God, in His Supreme Mind, knew the faults mankind.
He saw our weakness, and loving Father that He is, still sought the way of our redemption.

He could have chosen any means to do this; however, He chose a spotless womb, a new Eve to aid humanity from falling, to lead us on the path of holiness, purity, charity and virtue. She would be the God-Bearer, the perfect temple, the Ark of the Covenant. Her name would be Mary, conceived without sin, the Immaculate.

From the moment she said “yes” to God, she has been our Co-Redemptress, tirelessly working to lead us toward her Son, continually asking us to open our hearts to Him.

Today she is still calling us to open our hearts, to become the change we seek in the world. She has given us a way to do this through prayer, fasting, the Holy Bible, confession, and attending Holy Mass .

"Dear children; Today I am praying here with you that you may gather the strength to open your hearts and thus to become aware of the mighty love of the suffering God. Through this His love, goodness and meekness, I am also with you. I invite you for this special time of preparation to be a time of prayer, penance and conversion. My children, you need God. You cannot go forward without my Son. When you comprehend and accept this, what was promised to you will be realized. Through the Holy Spirit the Kingdom of Heaven will be born in your hearts. I am leading you to this. Thank you."BVM 12/02/2010 to Mirijana

“May this Advent season be a time for bringing hope, transformation and fulfillment into the Advent of our lives."2  

1,2  CONNECTIONS, 11-28-93

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Healing Memories Bring Hope

He pulls out the ladder and heads toward the attic. Still in his work overalls, the wet mud he’s been in all day has dried to a crusty light brown around his knees. He’s been up since 4:30 this morning and is still working; this time it’s for me, and I smile at him as he heads up the stairs.

“It seems like I just put all these things away not to long ago; time goes by so quickly”, he says.

He hands me down the boxes of decorations, an accumulation of memories that we have collected and shared over the past 36 years.

“Yes, time does go by quickly”, I say in response.

First he hands me down the box that holds our Advent wreath; I had been asking for it for days now. The lighting of the Advent wreath has long been a tradition in my family, going way back to the time I was a small child.

Mom would always set the table so festive on that Sunday night, a hearty meal was set before us, and dad was first to light the candle. He would always offer a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving for all we had received throughout the year and he would remind us of the reason for the season, it was a time to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ Jesus.

It was a time of anticipation, a time of prayer and a time of sharing what we had with others.

Passing down traditions of faith and family have always been important to us.

"Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.… Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Seek That Which Is Above,1986

The Lord blesses us with so many things; all He asks of us in return is to love Him, to believe in Him and to have hope in Him.

"Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25

The greatest gift you will ever receive will never be found under a Christmas tree. It is far too valuable to be stored in any other place but in the depths of your heart.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

God's Mercy Will Give You Everything

Out of love God created the heavens and the earth,

The sun to shine by day,
And the moon and the stars to guide by night.

He created the waters and the dry lands,
He brought forth vegetation of every kind,
And the most succulent fruit trees.

He filled the waters with living creatures,
And birds graced the sky.
He blessed the lands with wild creatures of every kind.

God looked at all He made and He saw how good it was.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1 26:27

Our Father, who has loved us from the beginning of time, only wants to share His goodness with us. Why do we turn from Him so quickly? Why do we harden our hearts toward Him?

"Dear children! I look at you and I see in your heart death without hope, restlessness and hunger. There is no prayer or trust in God, that is why the Most High permits me to bring you hope and joy. Open yourselves. Open your hearts to God’s mercy and He will give you everything you need and will fill your hearts with peace, because He is peace and your hope. Thank you for having responded to my call." BVM November 25, 2010

Thank you loving Father for allowing the Blessed Virgin Mary to remain with us so long.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Continually Give Thanks

to him who alone does great wonders,
who by his understanding made the heavens,
who spread out the earth upon the waters,

 who made the great lights,
 the sun to govern the day,
the moon and stars to govern the night
Psalm 136 4:9

Bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters men's growth from their mother's womb, and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure … as long as the heavens are above.
Sirach 50 22:24

“Dear children! Today I invite you all to rejoice in the life which God gives you. Little children, rejoice in God, the Creator, because He has created you so wonderfully. Pray that your life be joyful thanksgiving which flows out of your heart like a river of joy. Little children, give thanks unceasingly for all that you possess, for each little gift which God has given you, so that a joyful blessing always comes down from God upon your life. Thank you for having responded to my call. ” BVM August 25, 1988

May a joyful Thanksgiving be yours....


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Light of Life

I have heard it said, “If you point your finger at someone, remember there are 3 more pointing at you!”

We are always so quick to find fault in those around us, whether it be a neighbor, a family member, or a co-worker. However, we are quick to justify our own faults, mistakes and behaviors.

We have even given our faults cute little phrases such as, “my guilty pleasure”, which really means, “Yes, I know I shouldn’t do it, but is it really that bad? Who is it hurting anyway”. These guilty pleasures could be just about anything from a TV show we know is immoral, but watch anyway, to an extra glass of wine that leads to loose lips in mixed company, to a shopping spree we really can’t afford and decide  not to tell our spouse about, or maybe a grudge we choose to hold on to because we believe we were wronged and we aren’t going to let go.

Who do these things really hurt? These things hurt us, they hurt our family and friends, they hurt the ones we work with. They hurt everyone involved!

As we, the Christian community, let our own moral compass slip, we become desensitized to evil influences  around us. It happens slowly at first, but gradually we become more tolerant of sinful behavior in ourselves. We lose focus of our true call. As disciples of Christ, our call is to be a light of life to a falling world. We are called to bring the fire of Christ's love to a world that grows cold.

When the people came to Jesus for healing, he would tell them, “Go and sin no more”. He wanted them to be healed completely in both body and soul.

"Dear children; With motherly perseverance and love I am bringing you the light of life to destroy the darkness of death in you. Do not reject me, my children. Stop and look within yourselves and see how sinful you are. Be aware of your sins and pray for forgiveness. My children, you do not desire to accept that you are weak and little, but you can be strong and great by doing God's will. Give me your cleansed hearts that I may illuminate them with the light of life, my Son. Thank you." BVM November 02 2010 Message to Mirjana

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Call to Duty

It was close to 4 o’clock in the afternoon when my cell phone began to ring. “Hi hun”, it was mom, “where are you right now, your dad has been passing an awful lot of blood. He is lying down now but I’d like you to drive us down to the VA emergency hospital.”.... He had been there the previous day for the same reason, but once things had gotten under control he had been released to go home.

“I’m about thirty minutes out mom, I will come straight over, try not to worry”, was the silly thing I said to her. I called my husband to meet me at their house; I took my rosary bracelet off my wrist and immediately began to pray. “Please Blessed Mother, ask your Son to be with them both right now and to let me be the peaceful presence they will need.”

Though both my parents try to hide their fears, the stress that they have been enduring is taking a huge toll; it is an invisible weight that can’t be seen with the eye, yet its enormity fills the room. Cancer is a horrible thing and it is something that has been a part of their lives for many years now.

The admitting nurse remembered dad from the day before and quickly got him into a hospital bed where he waited for the doctor for well over three hours. During that period of time, we were required to hangout in a small waiting room with the dozens of other people that had been there before  us. It was clear to see that many of these people were wounded veterans that had answered their call to duty and it was equally clear to see that for these brave soldiers, the battles continue, their suffering goes on.

As each one of them waited for their turn to be seen by the emergency room doctor, I thought of the souls in purgatory. I thought of how they spent their time of purification, waiting for the prayers of loved ones here on earth to intercede for them as they waited to see the Lord. I realized that I needed to spend more time praying for these souls than I actually do.

“Human suffering evokes compassion; it also evokes respect, an in its own way it intimidates. For in suffering is contained the greatness of specific mystery….man in his suffering, remains an intangible mystery.” John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris

Our dear Pope John Paul II knew what it meant to suffer, he was a true Christian soldier, a friend of the cross that bravely answered his call to duty. He referred to human suffering as redemptive suffering, a term that the world wants no part of.

 Yet, it was the suffering Christ that moved the heart of the criminal during the hours of the crucifixion "this man has done nothing wrong." Then, turning to Jesus, he asks, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). What wonderful faith this repentant sinner had in Jesus.

I remember dad telling me how he cried out to God and asked Him take this suffering, this cancer from him. And I remember him telling me that if God’s answer was no, that he would offer it up for the conversion of others. This is something he has done and continues to do everyday. He too is a soldier for Christ, he has bravely answered his call to duty.

I only hope to be as brave as those I follow after.....And I thank God for the suffering they endure for me and the whole world.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Service to Others Leads Others to Christ

Being a member of the Militia of the Immaculata and having my Marian Feast Day just around the corner, I was intrigued to find a wonderful article titled  "Thoughts on a New Knighthood"by The Most Reverend Charles J Chaput, O.F.M. CAP.

Scripture tell us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (PS 111:10). Wisdom-not merely the knowledge of facts or a mastery of skills, but wisdom about ourselves, other people and the terrain of human life-this is the mark of a whole person.1

It takes a lot of time, sweat and prayer to really know ourselves; even with a life time of soul searching most of us will fall short of knowing ourselves completely.

When I started my 33- day preparation for True Devotion Consecration to Mary, this time last year, the thought was put into my mind to pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of self-awareness. I had enough sense to ask for this gift to come to me as the Lord saw fit, for I did not want to become so overcome by my sinfulness that I might fall into despair and loose hope. But God, in His omnipotent mercy, is answering my prayer.

Little by little, day by day, He continues to gently reveal to me areas in my spiritual life that I need to work on in order to better serve Him. This can be a very humbling experience, because there is so much inside that needs to change. So everyday I ask pardon from Him and continue the fight as a member of the MI.

If I were to ask myself what it means to be a Christian soldier, I would hear grandma say, “read the Sermon on the Mount”. Simply put, we are called to the service of others and we are called to lead others to Christ.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5: 13

As I begin my 33 day renewal of my Consecration to Mary I pray that the Lord might bless my spiritual eyes as I check my armor for holes and dents. I ask Him to bless all of you; your prayers and your comments help strengthen me, and they give me courage. May you and your loved ones grow in love for one another and in love for others.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen

1 The Most Reverend Charles J Chaput, O.F.M. CAP.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Joy of Finding Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus

All our sins and grief to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer ~ Tennessee Ernie Ford

When Jesus is with us, the going seems easy and life seems less difficult.
When Jesus is not with us life seems harder, empty, and desolate.

They had journeyed quite awhile before she realized he was he was nowhere to be found. Fear overcomes her as she runs from group to group looking for her son, “Have you seen him?” she asks.”Please, will you pray that we find him, please?” Turning to her husband with pain and anguish in her eyes she says, “We must go back; he’s got to still be there.” And so they go.

Each moment he is missing seems like an eternity to her. Each passing hour is filled with anxiety. Every child’s voice she hears toys with her emotions as she makes the long way back Jerusalem. She can barely contain her tears. It has been three days and she is exhausted. As she enters the temple her fears turns to joy as she hears his voice. He is teaching the elders. Quickly she makes her way forward to him. He stands up and embraces her. He had remained behind to do the Father’s will.

Oh, the joy of finding Jesus. He that finds him has found a treasure and he who loses him loses everything.

 Many follow Jesus to the breaking of the bread, but few to drinkinking His chalice of suffering.1 Imitation of Christ, St. Louis de Montfort  

"Dear children! May this time be a time of prayer for you. My call, little children, desires to be for you a call to decide to follow the way of conversion; therefore, pray and seek the intercession of all the saints. May they be for you an example, an incentive and a joy towards eternal life. Thank you for having responded to my call." BVM October 25 2010 Message to Marija

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Friend of the Cross

The crowd seemed to be growing larger in number and more abusive by the minute. It was getting harder for her to keep up with him. But she pressed on, trying desperately not to lose sight of him.

Through the shoves and the screams of the angry mob she remained focused on him. Blinding tears filled her eyes and the sickness that grabbed at her heart was growing tighter and tighter, making it harder for her to breath. “I am with you” were the words she kept repeating over and over again in her mind, “My son, I am with you”.

He staggers as he approaches her. Each stone or pothole in the road  weakens his knees causing him to falter. The weight of the cross is getting harder and harder to bear. The open wounds on his flesh stung and the rubbing of the heavy wood on his shoulder was widening some of his sores. He sees her standing there; he sees the pain in her eyes. At that moment between them his eyes seem to smile at her, trying to give her comfort. She in return stands up a little straighter, breathes in a little deeper, she wants to comfort him too.

The Centurion in charge of horrific events realizes that the man beneath the cross will need help to continue this journey. Looking around, his eyes fall upon a strong looking man, he is a father and two of his sons are with him. The Centurion grabs the man and forces him into service.

Thoughts cross the father’s mind, “What can I do, I can not refuse; God what have I gotten myself into?” Reluctantly, he takes the cross and shoulders it himself. He looks into the eyes of the accused man that stands before him and sees nothing but compassion. Suddenly, his heart, too, is moved and he nods at him as if to say, “Yes, I will help you, you can count on me all the way”. He becomes a friend of the cross.

My sweet and gentle Jesus, I, too, want to be a friend of the cross. Help me to see your face in every suffering man, woman or child that comes my way, especially to those that are the hardest to love.

I ask forgiveness for the times I have refused to help in the past, for the wounds I created though my own selfish neglect.

I thank you for those that have helped me in your name, for their love brought your peace and comfort to me in times of trouble.

Thank you mother Mary, your constant love and intercession helps me to recognize that being a friend of the cross means being a true Christ-bearer, or rather another Christ. With your intercession I pray I can answer the call.

"Dear children! Today I call you all to pray that God's plans for us may be realized and also everything that God desires through you! Help others to be converted, especially those who are coming to Medjugorje. Dear children, do not allow Satan to get control of your hearts, so you would be an image of Satan and not of me. I call you to pray for how you might be witnesses of my presence. Without you, God cannot bring to reality that which He desires. God has given a free will to everyone, and it's in your control. Thank you for having responded to my call." BVM, Medjugorje January 30, 1986

Friday, October 8, 2010

No Turning Back

My mother was a convert to Catholicism and her protestant background was rich with wonderful Christian Revival and Southern Gospel songs. As a young girl, I can still remember coming home from school and hearing Tennessee Ernie Ford or Kate Smith albums blaring from the stereo in our little front room.

I think that out of all these wonderful songs, I would have to say that one of my all time favorites would have to be, “I have decided to follow Jesus”.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Living in the world, but not giving in to worldly distractions and temptations takes a lot of effort on our part these days. In fact, living in this world and not becoming overwhelmed with despair while trying to live our Christian faith can seem very much like a battle from time to time.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this battle is against the great deceptor, Satan himself. He loves nothing better than to see us turn and run from our crosses.

He likes to see us distracted and overwhelmed, he likes to confuse us regarding issues of truth and morality, and he likes to see us keep ourselves so busy that we neglect the true vocation to which we all have been called.

But our Lord Jesus conquered sin and death by humbly embracing the cross. “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39.

We all have different crosses that come in different forms; the Lord knows what we can bear and what we can not. And I believe that He will never give us more that we can handle, after all His mercy has no end.

Everyday  we find ourselves meeting new challenges as we strive forward trying to bring Christ’s message to those that are part of our lives, and to those that cross our paths.We must be willing to embrace our cross for it will be our means to battle the sin of the present time.

"Dear children, Today I call you to a humble, my children, humble devotion. Your hearts need to be just. May your crosses be your means in the battle against the sins of the present time. May your weapon be patience and boundless love – a love that knows to wait and which will make you capable of recognizing God's signs – that your life, by humble love, may show the truth to all those who seek it in the darkness of lies. My children, my apostles, help me to open the paths to my Son. Once again I call you to pray for your shepherds. Alongside them, I will triumph. Thank you." BVM, Medjugorje October 02 2010 Message to Mirjana

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chosen Soul

Chosen soul, living image of God and redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, God wants you to become holy like Him in this life, and glorious like Him in the next…

It is certain that growth in the holiness of God is your vocation. All your thoughts, words, actions, everything you suffer or undertake, must lead you towards that end. Otherwise you are resisting God in doing the work for which He created you…. (Secret of Mary, § 3, St. Louis de Monfort )

 One of Grandma’s favorite Bible quotes was, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. “ (Mt. 5:48).
It was a quote she lived her life by. She was a woman of simple means and very little money. But, if you asked her for her shoes, she would give you her socks to go with them. If you were sick she would cook and clean for you. If you needed a bed she would give you hers while she slept on the couch. This was how she lived her life. She belonged entirely to the Lord; and she considered the things she did for others to be her duty to fulfill His desire that we all become perfect. These deeds she did for Him, she did with love. She taught me many things, not so much by her words but through the work she did.

As Christians, God's chosen souls, we go through many stages in our life’s journey; sometimes we seem to advance on our path, other times we seem to get side tracked or move backwards. It takes humility for us to admit that we are weak, that we need the Lord’s help in everything we do. But, through prayer and penance we are strengthened so that we, too, may grow in holiness.

"Dear children! Today I am with you and bless you all with my motherly blessing of peace, and I urge you to live your life of faith even more, because you are still weak and are not humble. I urge you, little children, to speak less and to work more on your personal conversion so that your witness may be fruitful. And may your life be unceasing prayer. Thank you for having responded to my call." BVM , Medjugorje, September 25 2010 Message to Marija

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Life of Deep Discernment

God blesses us in many ways, especially through our children. The following guest post is from my daughter Jeanine Kraybill.

If one searches the word ‘discernment,’ you can find many varying definitions. Some sources categorize discernment, such as ‘spiritual discernment,’ or ‘Christian discernment.’ In reflecting and praying on my own discernment and reading through what others have written about the subject, I have realized that discernment is something deeper and longer than one might think. Sometimes the need for discernment does require us to act with speed, so we say a brief prayer and hope the particular situation demanding our attention at the time works out.

However, even though I have encountered such scenarios many times in my own life, quickly grabbing my rosary beads to offer up an intention, I realize that there has been a particular issue I have been discerning since childhood. From a very age I have had a yearning. I almost can’t quite explain it, except for the fact that I know it is a call from God and a deep feeling of wanting to be closer to him and reconciled to myself. Sometimes this yearning is so bad that I actually feel a physical burning in my chest and sometimes, I am absolutely moved to tears and weep. This has happened actually several times before I receive communion or while I am sitting in mass. Sometimes this yearning drives to me to solitude, where I can close my eyes and feel a profound since of God, especially when I am sitting in Adoration. So what is this yearning?

As a child I can remember going out to my back yard with a bible my Mom gave me and a Church song book and sitting by myself reading and singing. As my adolescence progressed my faith never left me, even though sometimes through my actions, I left it. Yet, this yearning, this feeling with not being satisfied with the world has always existed. At times this pain of discernment has lead me actually to do things I hate and the feeling of not being able to forgive myself and feeling unworthy sets in, which I am learning in some sense, is my own pride and false ego. I know it is important for us to be reconciled to ourselves and in a strange way, I truly think this is part of the discernment process, because in order to know God’s will, we must die to ourselves, so that we can clearly hear him, see him and know him and then act in good faith in what we are being called to do. This is peace. Peace will not ascend down up on us, we must choose to accept it—this is also what I am learning through this deep discernment.

Along with my strong Catholic upbringing, as a teenager, I was very fortunate to attend an all girls Catholic high school. I was highly influenced by several of the Franciscan sisters there and spent a great deal of time with them, evening staying the night at the covenant on occasion. My Mother had also had a great devotion to St. Francis, so I always grew up having him as my favorite Saint. I recall for a short period of time during my high school years of thinking about becoming a nun myself. However, as high school progressed and the college years set in, life took a different course. However, I still feel this yearning, this call, this “thing,” I have been discerning my whole life. I am not of this world in the since that its material possessions in the end are not all together that satisfying to me. I’ve tried to fill my round whole with many square pegs, such as pursuing several degrees, buying unnecessary material goods, being possessive with my so-called possessions, over drinking on occasion, trying to control my life and worrying about it and planning every detail of it to excess, but in the end, I am still hungry, I am still yearning to be free, joyful in the Lord and in full communion with him.

So again, I have come to an understanding that discernment is never ending. That we are called to holiness and saintliness (which doesn’t mean being perfect, remember that many of the saints struggled and were great sinners, but the difference is they embraced it, were reconciled to the Lord and themselves, overcame it and used their gifts for the greater glory of God). What that means is that in our path to being holy and like the saints, we fall each day, but we get up, we work on our weaknesses, and we ask the Lord what he wants of us and ask him to lead us that way. We follow our own goodness. Sometimes this way will be painful, dealing with one’s self sometimes is, but we cannot settle for the mediocrity of this world or the mediocrity of ourselves. We must strive to be whole, to be healed and to be reconciled with the Lord, with ourselves and others. We must be of service and die to ourselves. St. Francis was able to capture the true essence of this. He was the son of one of the wealthiest men of Assisi and strove to be a knight during the Medieval Age, when lofty titles of the world (as still now) were a sign of status and significance. He left this to be insignificant, essentially living the words in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Pope John Paul II captures this when he stated,

“Young Francis was called by his friends the king of parties, because he was available and generous, brilliant and likeable. Humanly he could have had many reasons to be happy yet he was missing something. He abandoned it all when he found what he needed most. He met Christ and discovered true happiness. He realized that one can only be happy by giving one's life for an ideal, building something enduring in the light of the demanding counsels of the Gospel.

Dear young people, many false teachers point out dangerous ways that lead to fleeting joys and satisfactions. Today expressions of our culture are mired in superficiality. Dear young people, in imitating Francis and Clare, refuse to sell your dreams too cheaply! Dream, but in freedom! Plan, but in truth! “

So, let us now not sell ourselves too cheaply for the things of this world, but discern what we are to do with our gifts and talents. We are all called, we all have purpose. Let us not be lead by the false teachers of the world, such as the icons of pop-culture or the politicians of today, but by the Holy Spirit, so that we may experience this deep discernment, which is a burning for full communion with God and reconciliation to him, to ourselves and others. If we are willing to be open, to die to ourselves and be of services, then we are living a life of this deep discernment and peace will become our path. This is my ongoing goal, my on-going discernment and when I fall, with the Lord’s help, I will be picked back up and try again.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Gift of Faith

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit;
to another faith by the same Spirit…..1Cor.12:7-10

Lately, I have been thinking about the gift of faith. Throughout my life I have met several people that have a strong gift of faith. I have also met those people that struggle a great deal with their faith; some have lost their faith and some have never had the gift of faith to begin with.

My grandpa was one of those people that lost his faith. Whether or not his faith was ever strong to begin with, I will never know.

Grandpa was in WWII, in fact, he was one of the original soldiers on Iwo Jima to help raise the American flag. He told me that his experiences in the war lead him to believe that God could not possibly exist because if he did he would not have allowed such inhuman tragedy to take place. I have heard comments like his before from other people, you probably have too.

An interesting fact about grandpa’s loss of faith however, was that he spent the rest of his life trying to find someone that would convince him that God did exist and that faith was real. Hard as our family tried, he claimed that we still hadn’t proven it to him, and he struggled with this until his dying day.

The family spent much time in intercessory prayer for grandpa and I strongly believe that he is now resting in the arms of Divine Mercy, that he is finally at peace.

I am very grateful to have been blessed with the gift of faith. It is something that I have always had since childhood. And, though I loved playing outside and being with friends the same as the other children did, I was just as content to read my favorite bible stories like “Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors” or “Moses in the Land of Egypt” or to watch movies like “Our Lady of Fatima” and the “Robe”. These were always more than just stories or entertainment for me: they were examples of hope and faith in a loving God that never would abandon His people.

With each passing year, even in the midst of trial, I feel my faith grow stronger. I see the hand of the Almighty constantly reaching out to me, wanting to draw me closer.  His love is ever present and I find myself wanting to spend more and more time with Him.

Thank you Lord for the gift of faith which you have so generously blessed me with, may it always be used for your glory…. In Jesus Name..

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thanks be to you Mother

From the first moment of Mary's immaculate presence in her mother's womb, Our Lady has led us to her Son. From the cross, Christ commands, "Behold your mother". As the Savior's dying gift to us, Jesus leads us back to Mary.   Magnificat

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.
~Stabat Mater~

Friday, September 10, 2010

Opportunities to Witness

Early this morning as usual I got to make my hot cup of ginger mint tea, say my morning Rosary, then read and reflect on today's scripture readings.

The first reading hit me.

"Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!  

An obligation has been imposed on me....wow, that is a powerful line.

I began to think about
the commitment I made at my baptism, then later at my confirmation, these were the beginnings of my lifetime journey toward discipleship.

Paul continues...
"I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some."

I thought to myself, when my time here on earth is over will I have helped to save at least one; will I have been instrumental  in guiding at least one soul toward heaven like Paul mentions? Or, will I have missed my opportunity to be a witness for Christ?

After prayer I went over to the computer to read my email, where I came across this:

Jesus teaches us how to live in the present time. He identifies our present time as the end-time, the time that offers us countless opportunities to testify for Jesus and his Kingdom. The many disasters in our world, and all the tragedies that happen to people each day, can easily lead us to despair and convince us that we are the sad victims of circumstances. But Jesus looks at these events in a radically different way. He calls them opportunities to witness!

Jesus reminds us that we do not belong to this world. We have been sent into the world to be living witnesses of God's unconditional love, calling all people to look beyond the passing structures of our temporary existence to the eternal life promised to us. Henri Nouwen

I thought of a conversation I had with my daughter at lunch yesterday. She has recently been introduced to a wonderful older lady named Adelle, a Third Order Franciscan. She shared with me that one of the beautiful things about Adelle was not only her peaceful spirit, but her ability to listen and answer truthfully in love. She is a living witness of Christ's love by being love in that moment to the person right in front of her.  As she shared this with me I was reminded also of Paul.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

In a world that is always in a hurry, the unselfish gift of giving time to someone in need is a beautiful way to witness.  As Mother Teresa once said, "Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."

Today I pray for the gift of love, not to hold it close or keep it for myself, but to give it away freely as Christ did then and still does today, as an opportunity to witness..... Amen

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Heavenly Email

One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the rascally behavior that was going on. Concerned,  He called on one of His angels and sent the the angel to Earth for a time.

When the angel returned,  he told God, " Yes, it is bad on Earth; 95% are misbehaving and only 5% are not.

God thought for a moment and said,"Maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another opinion." 
So God called another angel and sent him to Earth for a time.

When that angel returned she went to God and said, "Yes, it's true. The Earth is in decline; 95% are misbehaving, but 5% are being good."

God was not pleased, so  He decided to e-mail the 5% that were good, because He wanted to encourage them and give them a little something to help them keep going.

Do you know what the e-mail said?

Okay. I was just wondering. I didn't get one either.............

I want to thank my mom for sharing this with me. I smiled when I read it and hope you to too! God bless you all today.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Proud Peacock

"Dear children. I am beside you because I desire to help you to overcome trials, which this time of purification puts before you. My children, one of those is not to forgive, and not to ask for forgiveness. Every sin offends love and distances you from it – and love is my Son. Therefore, my children, if you desire to walk with me towards the peace of God's love, you must learn to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Thank you." BVM, September 02 2010 Message to Mirjana

What is it that keeps us from forgiving others, or for not asking forgiveness from someone we have injured?

It has been said that pride is the root of all evil, that it started in heaven when Satan said, “I will not serve, I want to be like God!” That same cry can be heard today, not only in the world around us, but at work, school, home, even in our own hearts and minds. We strut, much like the proud peacock, loudly crying out , “I will not serve. You can’t tell me what to do!” We are often quick to notice the flaws in our neighbor while ignoring or justifying the flaws that are our own. We are blind to our own faults but have the eye of the eagle when it comes to others.

The remedy for pride is humility. To forgive other people or to seek forgiveness we must acknowledge our spirit of pride and in turn pray for a spirit of humility.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Lord, may the only pride I seek be that of serving you to the best of my ability, in Your Holy Name I pray.....Amen

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our Lady’s Armor

If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be…….Pope Pius XI

“Among all the devotions approved by the Church, none has been so favored by so many miracles as the Rosary devotion.” Pope Pius IX

I can’t ever remember a time while growing up that our family went on car trip without reciting the Rosary. My dad, always the driver, would only be on the road for just a few minutes before mom would reach down for her purse. My younger sister Mary knew exactly what that meant and would immediately close her eyes pretending that she was asleep. So, as soon as I heard the beads rattle and mom say, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”, I would loudly protest, “Mary’s not sleeping. She has to say the Rosary too!”

This seen played out each and every time we went on a trip. Who would have known that years later I would be carrying on the same tradition with my family, and they in turn would be offering me similar forms of protest!

Many miracles throughout history have been attributed to devoutly praying the Holy Rosary. Wars have been won, the sick have been healed, marriages have been saved and family members have come back to the faith, all because people have believed in the power of the Rosary.

I read a article yesterday about a young British soldier in Afghanistan,  Glen Hockton, who believes that the Rosary saved his life, just like his great-grandfather in WWII.

While Glenn was on patrol with his unit, his rosary suddenly fell from his neck. Thinking it was broken, he bent down to pick it up and realized he was on a landmine.

After 45 terrifying minutes, his colleagues managed to rescue him.

His great-grandfather Joseph ‘Sunny’ Truman also credited a rosary with saving his life in World War II. He was walking across a field with half a dozen of his platoon. He bent down to pick something up and was the only one to survive a sudden bomb blast. He had picked up a rosary.

For these men and many others, the Rosary truly was Our Lady's armor.

"Pray the Rosary everyday in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war." Our Lady of Fatima May 13, 1917

"Dear children! Today I call you especially now to advance against Satan by means of prayer. Satan wants to work still more now that you know he is at work. Dear children, put on the armor for battle and with the Rosary in your hand defeat him! Thank you for having responded to my call." BVM, Medjugorje August 8, 1985

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Behold, I Have Prepared My Banquet

“Behold, I have prepared my banquet,

my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast…..” Matthew 22:4

But they refused to come.

Lord, you have prepared a seat at your table for me,
my invitation has arrived.

Excitedly, I tear open the envelope to see what hides inside.

The elegant design and fine script give only a small hint of what is in store for me,

But as I see the date and time of the event, I realize that I can’t make it. I must decline.

What keeps us from the banquet of life to which the Lord has called us? For some of us, it could be past hurts, for some of us it could be the inability to forgive, for many of us it could be the inability to forgive ourselves.

Whatever the reason is that separates us from the banquet of life, we can be assured that the divine mercy of our Lord Jesus can reunite us. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not scorn. Psalm 51:17

The Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us the grace to conquer sin, from the greatest offenses down to the least.

Our Lady asks us to go to monthly confession. Pilgrims who come to Medjugorje are always impressed by the number of people waiting in line for confession and the number of priests hearing confession. Many priests have had extraordinary experiences during confessions in Medjugorje. Many of pilgrims who have come to Medjugorje go to Confession for the first time in 20, 30, 40, even 50 years. It is one of the fruits and miracles of Medjugorje.

"Make your peace with God and among yourselves. For that, it is necessary to believe, to pray, to fast, and to go to confession." BVM (June 26, 1981)

"Pray, pray! It is necessary to believe firmly, to go to confession regularly and, likewise, to receive Holy Communion. It is the only salvation." BVM (February 10, 1982)

"Whoever has done very much evil during his life can go straight to Heaven if he confesses, is sorry for what he has done, and receives Communion at the end of his life."BVM  (July 24, 1982)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Show Unto Us The Blessed Fruit of Thy Womb Jesus

"Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth.......” Judith 13:18

Oh Mary most holy
Mother of our Lord,
Mother of us all

Ark of the Covenant
You carried Him in your womb,
The bread of Life

In humble obedience your bore Him,
Mother of the Redeemer

In silence you watched Him grow,
Cause of  joy

You shared in His suffering,
Our Lady of Sorrows

Remaining sinless throughout your life,
You were assumed body and soul into Heaven

Oh Queen of the angels,
You continue to show sinners the way

"....after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus."

"Dear children! Today I call you, together with me, to begin to build the Kingdom of Heaven in your hearts; that you may forget that what is personal and – led by the example of my Son – think of what is of God. What does He desire of you? Do not permit Satan to open the paths of earthly happiness, the paths without my Son. My children, they are false and last a short while. My Son exists. I offer you eternal happiness and peace and unity with my Son, with God; I offer you the Kingdom of God. Thank you." BVM August 2, 2010 Medjugorje

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Troops Suprising Loved Ones

This afternoon I came home and read this beautiful post by feminie-genius.  Please check it out, it is very powerful.

God bless our troops and their wonderful families that keep the fires of  love burning brightly for those that wait for them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Motherhood, A Vocation of Life

She often thought of those days, long ago, when she held him in her arms soothing him to sleep with a gentle lullaby. The shape of his little fingers that clenched tightly to hers, the softness of his skin, the warmth of his little body as he smuggled close to her heart; time goes so quickly.

He was her eldest son and brilliant by all accounts. Yet, in his youth he had grown lazy and rebellious. He had cast aside the religious beliefs that his mother had strived so hard to instill in him. Self-indulgence and the endless pursuit of pleasure had long replaced that guiding light; spiritual darkness was the direction he seemed to follow.

As his mother watched the path her son had chosen, her grief intensified. Yet, she never gave up on him. She prayed for him continually; morning and night she prayed. In anguish she consulted a bishop who had once followed a similar path before becoming a Christian. But, he could not help at this point because her son was not open to hearing the truth. Nevertheless, the bishop did console her by saying that "the child of those tears shall never perish", which she took as a sign from God. For nine more years he continued his behavior and his mother continued her prayers for his conversion.

This mother's name was Monica and her son was St. Augustine, one of the most influential thinkers in the entire history of the Church. ~

One of God’s greatest gifts to us is motherhood, for He has blessed a mother in such a way that she becomes a dwelling place for an immortal soul; not even the holy angels have been given such grace.

But with this gift comes tremendous responsibility. We must care for and nurture His little ones in the ways of the faith in a world that cares little for the things of God.

We must be an example to them of purity and virtue amongst those who have lost the meaning and value of such things.

A mother’s love is always constant, ever tireless and forever steadfast. Her love knows no boundaries. She gives her all for her children and would go to great lengths to help them when they are troubled or in danger.

Let us pray today for all mothers, especially those that struggle in their vocations that they find the strength and courage they need to embrace the many challenges that come their way by knowing that the Lord is always by their side. In Jesus name….

holy experience

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lift Me Up, Oh Lord

 "When he perceived how strong the wind was, becoming frightened, he began to sink."Matthew 14:30

How often Lord, have I been like Peter,

ready to step out in faith.

I look into the gentle beauty of your eyes,

Your arms stretched out,

our fingers almost touch,

almost intertwine.

Then I take my eyes off you,

I lose focus 

only to hear the howling of the wind

and feel the cold, strong churning of the sea.

Fear takes over faith

and I begin to slowly sink.

"Lord, save me!", I cry.

But your focus, Oh Lord,

does not waver like mine

and your eyes remain upon me always.

Lovingly, you reach out for me

and lift me up to safety.

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"


Dear children! God wants to make you holy. Therefore, through me He is inviting you to complete surrender. Let holy mass be your life. Understand that the church is God's palace, the place in which I gather you and want to show you the way to God. Come and pray. Neither look at others nor slander them, but rather, let your life be a testimony on the way of holiness. Churches deserve respect and are set apart as holy because God, who became man, dwells in them day and night. Therefore, little children, believe and pray that the Father increase your faith, and then ask for whatever you need. I am with you and I am rejoicing because of you conversion and I am protecting you with my motherly mantle. Thank you for having responded to my call.
BVM, Medjugorje, April 25, 1988

holy experience

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All Beginnings Have a Yes

How rare it is to find a valiant woman! It is perhaps necessarily so, since Scripture says that they are more precious that pearl and diamonds. Let us however work to train a few. For in this century we must no longer count on men to preserve the faith. The grain of faith that will be saved will hide itself among women. A woman cannot remain neutral in the world. She too is set for the fall and resurrection of many. How different are God’s thoughts from ours!

Between women and God is often arranged the eternal salvation of husbands and sons. But for this she must be valiant. Strong to uphold purity of life. Strong to keep inviolate the treasure of faith. Strong in every battle of life. Great-souled in the face of calamity, persecution and death. And remember, sorrow is the training ground of strong souls. ~  St. Madeline Sophie Barat (1779-1865)                                                                                                  

As women we are called to bring life into the world. And though not all are called to be mothers, we are all called to spiritual motherhood. Our call is to bring Christ into a world that so desperately needs Him, to be a healing balm in a wounded world that has seemed to have lost its way. Where can the valiant woman be found if she cannot be found among us?

All beginnings have a yes. If we are to carry out our call and bring Christ into the world, we must say yes, much like our Blessed Mother said her yes to the angel Gabriel. We must turn away from the spirit of the world, and all that it tries to convince us, and turn toward the spirit of Christ. As St. Madeline Sophie Barat says, “A woman cannot remain neutral in the world”. The time for women to take a stand for Christ is now.

My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name;
And his mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of his mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.