Wednesday, August 24, 2011

These Days of Grace

 It was early 1982 or 1983 when I first hear about Our Blessed Mother appearing in Medjugorge.  Having been brought up in a devout Catholic home, and having a strong devotion to Our Lady, I eagerly devoured any reading material that was available on the subject.  For me, the thought of Our Holy Mother appearing now, just as she had in Fatima and Lourdes was more than exciting, it was pure divine grace. I wanted to know why she was coming to us now and I wanted to know everything she had to say.

Soon afterwards, around 1989, my parents and a wonderful group of their friends went to a Marian Conference in Notre Dame to hear different speakers share their personal testimonies and experiences about Medjugorge. Being very moved by this whole experience, one of their friends suggested that they should try to organize a conference like this one in California. This October will mark the 21st Medjugorge Peace Conference to be held in Irvine, California. It looks like Our Lady approved! 

In May of 2006, I was called to a make a pilgrimage to Medjugorge with one of my daughters. I say that I was called to make this pilgrimage, because that is exactly what happens to all of us that go to Medjugorge, we are called by Our Lady.

If you have ever spoken to anyone that has made the journey to Medjugorge, they have probably told you that it is a grueling trip. It took us 22 hours to get there, with three connector flights, one of which we barely made. Needless to say, when we finally landed in Sarajevo I gave Jesus one big “thank you Lord”!  

 We were met at the airport by a man that held up a simple sign that said “Heaven, this way”. Since he spoke no English, we could only hope that he was there for us. We loaded ourselves into the bus, pulled out our rosary beads and began to pray them out loud. All the pilgrims in the bus did the same. We were heaven bound! 

 Like so many of us that have ups and downs in our lives, my pilgrimage  to Medjugorge was a much needed answer to a prayer for inner peace. And, shortly after our arrival in this quaint little mountain town, we took a hike up to Apparition Mountain where we just sat for awhile taking everything in. As I sat there, my mind filled with the faces of many people I had meant throughout my life, some of whom I had not thought of in years. I immediately offered them up to the Blessed Mother in prayer, as if handing them to her here, at the site of her first appearance to the visionaries, and then I let them go into her care. It was then that a peace came over me, and I heard something say, “this time is for you”. This time of prayer and of peace was for me and would remain with me for the rest of my life to reflect upon in good times and bad.  I was receiving an undeserved gift of grace for which I would be forever grateful! And, like all God given gifts, it was meant to be shared with others.

Still today, Our Lady is appearing in Medjugorge. And, she is still saying to each one of us that our time of grace is now while she is still among us! She asks us all to live her massages. What are these messages? She asks us return to a life of prayer, to be reconciled with God and with each other, to fast and to read the Sacred Scripture, letting it be a part of our everyday lives. In perfect obedience to God the Father, Our Lady is always leading us one way, and that way is toward her son, Jesus Christ.

"Dear children! Today on this great day which you have given to me, I desire to bless all of you and to say: these days while I am with you are days of grace. I desire to teach you and help you to walk the way of holiness. There are many people who do not desire to understand my messages and to accept with seriousness what I am saying. But you I therefore call and ask that by your lives and by your daily living you witness my presence. If you pray, God will help you to discover the true reason for my coming. Therefore, little children, pray and read the Sacred Scriptures so that through my coming you discover the message in Sacred Scripture for you. Thank you for having responded to my call." BVM,June 25,1991

Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Is My Neighbor.....

You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind……..You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:34-40

My soul longs for you my God;
Only in you can my spirit find rest.

You are Holy indeed, and you call me to holiness.

In my imperfection, I wonder what this means.
Is holiness obtainable for someone like me?
I stumble and fall so easily.

Yet your hand is always stretched toward me,
And you ask me to walk in your ways.

You remind me that you lived a simple and ordinary life.
You sought  neither fame nor fortune.
And everything the Father gave you, you shared with me.

You ask me to do likewise for my neighbor
But I am not sure who that is.......

Then you show me the one in need, the one you have put before me.
I don’t have to look very far.
My neighbor has many faces, as do all of God’s children.
And, I find him in many places.

You ask me to care for him as I would care for myself,
To share with him all that I have for his benefit, as you did for me.

You call me to holiness in the ordinary simplicity of sharing with others the love you share with me,
To stretch my hand forward and hold nothing back,
For you held nothing back for me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mother of All

Mother of one, mother of all;
Each child just as dear as the rest.

Heart pure and gentle; love always constant,
The glory of your son you attest.

Morning star, guiding light, strong and mighty,
In the distant horizon you shine.

Arms open, beckoning forward, your voice calling;
Peace in your sweet refuge I find.

Casting myself before you, humbly down at your feet;
I give you my joys and my sorrows Oh Mother,
Make my devotion to complete.

"Dear children, with joy, persistently work on your conversion. Offer all your
joys and sorrows to my Immaculate Heart that I may lead you all to my most beloved Son, so that you may find joy in His Heart. I am with you to instruct you and to lead you towards eternity. Thank you for having responded to my call” Our Lady’s Message of September 25, 2009 to Marija

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Sacrifice of Love.....

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

~Mignon McLaughlin

Life is never exactly the way we think it should be, and so it goes with married life as well. You see, we all have expectations of others, especially of our spouses.

For most of us, the beginnings of our married lives together are sheer bliss. We are infatuated with one another, we aren’t looking for too much outside of our new lives together and we simply enjoy pleasing each other. Sadly, this doesn’t last forever, and as the relationship begins to change, we find our selves, from time to time, judging our spouse quite harshly, sometimes even wondering why we married this person in the first place.

Dwelling on the perceived negative aspects of another person, especially of our spouse, can easily become an obsession that leads us away from the marital commitment of “I do”, to the self-serving thoughts of “I won’t”.

In today’s Gospel (Mt. 19:3-12), the Pharisees approach Jesus and  question him on the "lawfulness" of divorce, to which he replies,

“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

He later goes on to say “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted."

We don’t have to look very far to see the effects of the break down of marriage and family in our society today. Sometimes the effects are as close as our own front doors. In a culture of instant gratification and personal satisfaction, the thought of patience and long-suffering with joy (Colossians 1:9-12) for the sake of another is seldom embraced.

But, real love entails sacrifice. We must be willing to give of ourselves and to compromise from time to time.

 I have often heard it said that if we put as much effort into our marriages and families as we put into our careers and personal desires that we would find ourselves quite content. I believe this to be true.

O Dear Jesus,
I humbly implore You to grant Your special graces to our family.
May our home be the shrine of peace, purity, love, labor and faith.
I beg You, dear Jesus, to protect and bless all of us, absent and present, living
and dead.

O Mary,
loving Mother of Jesus,
and our Mother,
pray to Jesus for our family,
for all the families of the world,
to guard the cradle of the newborn,
the schools of the young and their vocations.

Blessed Saint Joseph,
holy guardian of Jesus and Mary,
assist us by your prayers
in all the necessities of life.
Ask of Jesus that special grace
which He granted to you,
to watch over our home
at the pillow of the sick and the dying,
so that with Mary and with you,
heaven may find our family unbroken
in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Together We Can Change the World....

“Dear children; Today I call you to be born anew in prayer and through the Holy Spirit, to become a new people with my Son; a people who knows that if they have lost God, they have lost themselves; a people who knows that, with God, despite all sufferings and trials, they are secure and saved. I call you to gather into God’s family and to be strengthened with the Father’s strength. As individuals, my children, you cannot stop the evil that wants to begin to rule in this world and to destroy it. But, according to God’s will, all together, with my Son, you can change everything and heal the world. I call you to pray with all your heart for your shepherds, because my Son chose them. Thank you.” Our Lady's Message of August 2, 2011 to Mirjana..

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill. Matthew 5:3,6.

Reflection:  One of the ways that God reaches man is through words. The spoken word—and even the written word that seems to leap off of the page when we read it—has the power to pierce and move hearts. And when that word is full of truth, it has a mysterious resonance in the heart, a kind of magnetic attraction for the soul that is truly hungry for what is right, true, and good. When Christ came to proclaim the Kingdom of God, he made a series of appeals to the heart—invitations to a life of greater poverty, simplicity, honesty, and wholehearted service. Some perceived the beauty of that call and rose up to follow it. Others did not. Why?  Perhaps some become entrenched in their own supposed righteousness, so burdened by the need to maintain appearances that they cannot rise up in response to the call. The accessories of success keep them weighted down. Others are so hungry for God, in some cases, so humiliated by life, that they feel entirely free to let go of everything, even their pride. Others are simply pure of heart, focused on what is good and not on self at all. There are so many reasons why some do and some do not follow Jesus, and he alone knows the story of each soul. Where do we stand?  What does he see in our hearts? 1

Note: 1
  Mini Meditations on the Luminous Mysteries