Sunday, June 24, 2012
I was thinking about the solemnity we celebrate today, that of the Nativity of John the Baptist. Now normally a saints feast does not take precedence over the Sunday feast of the Lord's Day. So the fact that John's birthday did not get "bumped" to tomorrow, and the fact that we even celebrate his birth really got me to thinking about why the Church celebrates his birth.
If we look at the Church's calendar, we see that very few births are celebrated. Jesus' is of course, and so is Our Lady's (September 8). The reason for celebrating their births, their entrance into this world, human history, not to mention Salvation History, is pretty obvious.
John the Baptist is the only other birth(I think) that is celebrated within the Liturgical Year. It goes to show the importance of his entrance to our world, and to Salvation History. John recognized and "beheld the Lamb of God" while he was still in his mother's womb. He was born with a very specific mission, and he followed it to the letter. He was to point to the One greater than himself, the One whose sandals he was not worthy to untie. He would recognize Jesus, the Lamb of God again at the Jordan and proclaim this fact to all who were there that day. From that day until his martyrdom, he would decrease so that his Lord, the One whose way he had prepared, could and would increase.
Here in the United States, we are also in the midst of observing the Fortnight to Freedom. This campaign of the bishops is a time for Catholics to pray, and where necessary and appropriate, speak out in defense of our religious liberty which is being threatened and attacked by our government.
The fortnight began on the eve of the feasts of Saints John Fisher and Sir Thomas More, today as I already stated, is the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. Wednesday, June 27 is the feast of St Cyril of Alexandria who fought fearlessly against the heresies of his day. Thursday, June 28 is the feast of St Irenaeus also martyred for defending the faith. The two pillars of our faith, Saints Peter and Paul, are celebrated on Friday, June 29. The feast we celebrate on Saturday, June 30, is relatively new to the Liturgical Calendar; it is the feast of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church. Finally we have the feast of the Apostle Thomas on July 3 who is often remembered for his doubt of the Risen Christ, but who also made one of the most simple and beautiful acts and professions of faith.
All of these saints have on thing in common besides the crown of martyrdom~ they followed their consciences instead of the political errors of their day.
We often hear that phrase used today in the mainstream: "Follow your conscience." There is something missing from that phrase, and also something very wrong with it as it is used in our mainstream society. Our culture takes it to mean that we should do whatever we, as individuals, see fit. What is missing from the phrase is the term "well~formed"; our consciences need to be well formed in the light of Truth and faith before we follow them, otherwise they lead us down a dangerous path.
So as we celebrate the feasts of all these great saints,let us heed John the Baptist's words and Behold the Lamb of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let our consciences be illumined by His light and truth so that we may have the courage of the martyrs to fight for and defend our faith.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The words in the title of this post were spoken to me by the friend who was largely responsible for bringing me back to the Church. His exact quote was: "One day you will be driving down the street or walking around town, and you will see evil all around you." I didn't quite know what he meant at the time, or quite how to take this prophetic statement at that moment~ I do now.
Since practicing my faith in earnest these last ten years, I have begun to see and feel this evil of which my friend spoke. As many writers have said, as I myself have said on this blog several times, WE ARE AT WAR! We are involved in a spiritual combat that grows more intense by the day, and not enough of us are fit for this battle.
It is not pleasant to be aware of this, but as Catholic Christians, we need to be awake and ready. I have been aware for some time that there are sinister forces at work in our world, and right here in our very own country. As I have said many times before, I am no mystic, nor do I hear God saying these things to me; it is more of a deep inner feeling.
This morning all that I have inwardly known, and my friends words to me have been confirmed quite clearly. If you read nothing else this week, I urge you to read Mark Mallet's post for today: Mystery Babylon. He has written about what God has revealed to him in prayer while reading the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation.
After reading this post, it is clear that the battle is intensifying. While our country and others will be held accountable for our crimes/sins against God, there are remnants, or as Mr. Mallet put it, pockets where people of prayer are standing in the breach, so to speak.
As we begin the Fortnight for Freedom today, it is interesting to read what Mr. Mallet tells us about the foundations of this country. Yes, the United States was founded on Christian principles, but that is only partly true. Freemasonry was at the core of things as well, and this evil is still very much a part of the fabric of this country (along with other occult practices).
Along with Mark Mallet's post, and his blog in general, I recommend visiting Mary at The Beautiful Gate. She has a list of posts under the title of "Words"For Our Time on her sidebar. She speaks about what she has prayerfully received relating to these topics and the state of our world in these posts.
As St Paul tells us: "Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and power..." (see Eph. 6:12) The only way to fight this type of battle is with prayer, fasting and penance. We who are awake, need to waken more. There is truly strength in numbers; let's recruit, by our words and example, more soldiers for Christ. Our Lady is in this battle with us,(see Rev. 12:17) for she will crush the head of the serpent.
Here are several of my earlier posts that deal with these topics in some way. There are links in them to other writers as well who speak more eloquently than I do on these topics.
We Are at War
Because He Has Led You
Prayer For Boldness
The Fortnight for Freedom begins today. The USCCB has published reflections for each of the fourteen days. Our religious freedom, one of our most basic freedoms, is being attacked and compromised. Our forefathers fought for it and many saints died for it. Now more than ever, we need to pray for it.
You can find the reflections for each day here. I will also post a separate page for them. Just go to the "Pages" drop down menu above and click the link for Fortnight Reflections.
May true freedom ring!
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
One of the first spiritual books I read upon my return to my faith was St Augustine's Confessions. It truly is one of the greatest and amazing conversion stories in our Church's history. If you have never read it, I highly recommend it.
His story has never been told on film~at least not like this, Restless Heart:The Confessions of Augustine is due for release Fall 2012.
Read more about the film here.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
God can and does do amazing things with just the tiniest seeds of faith. The people of Jesus' time were familiar with mustard seeds and their tiny size, so this parable's message, if their hearts were open to it, was quite clear.
In Jesus' parable, He referred to the large plant the seed would become when nurtured, and all that the plant would provide~ shade to rest under, a place for birds to nest.
Today, we don't really deal with this particular plant, but we are familiar with what comes of grinding up that particular seed; most of us have a jar of it in our refrigerators. That end product has some potent flavor to it.
OK, so enough with the talk of plants and condiments. My point to all this is that when the littlest bit of faith is present in a soul, when that seed is ripe and ready, God can use it to provide for His Kingdom here on earth, and add flavor some flavor to it as well.
We are His servants, we do not change hearts, but God does and at times He puts a few seeds in our hands to plant in souls that come our way.
In my own case, it was my friend who wrote to me telling me to get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and a Bible. If you look at your own life and trace back to where your faith began or as in my case:"re~began", I am sure you recognize when the seed of faith was planted, and perhaps who God used to plant it.
This can be seen in the lives of the saints as well. Here are just a few examples...
For St Augustine, it was the constant prayer of his mother, Scripture and St Ambrose who planted the seeds. In the life of St Ignatius of Loyola, his sister was the seed planter. She left him some spiritual reading and books about the lives of the saints while he was confined to his bed after a battle injury. St Clare saw the powerful example of St Francis of Assisi and left her noble life to follow him. I could go on, but you get the picture. In turn these saints went on to plant the seeds that God entrusted to them; their lives continue to do so down through the ages.
God has given us a handful of seeds to plant too. It could be through something we say or write. Perhaps the most powerful seeds are the examples we set by living our Christian lives. This side of heaven we may never be witness to what became of those seeds; some take years to begin growing. We just need to do some planting, and leave the rest to God who will water them and cultivate them in His good and perfect time.
So go ahead and tear of a shoot from your topmost branches of faith, and plant that tender shoot where God tells you to. (see Ezekiel 17:22~24)
A happy and blessed Father's Day to all the Dad's who visit here today.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
This morning while praying Morning Prayer with Magnificat, I was inspired by the Prayers for Intercession to put a special Rosary together. Since I was praying the rosary privately, I figured it was OK to do this.
I am sure I am not the first or only one to do this, but I will share it here for your prayer use as well. The links on the name of the decade will lead you to related Scripture.
The fact that there is one decade from each of the five Mysteries is purely the work of Divine Providence.
First Decade: In Honor of Mary at Bethlehem~ The Birth of Jesus
Meditation on the scenes of the Nativity
Intentions: For the welcoming of new life into families, detachment from the world, welcoming Christ into our lives through His Mother.
Second Decade: In Honor of Mary at Cana~ The Wedding at Cana
Meditation on scenes from the wedding feast.
Intentions: For the sanctity of marriage, and the willingness to do whatever Christ tells us.
Meditation on Mary's Seven Sorrows at the scene of Christ's Crucifixion
Intentions: for true sorrow for our sins, and for all who have experienced the loss of a child at any stage.
Descent of the Holy Spirit
Meditation on the scenes of Pentecost
Intentions: That through Mary, we will, like her, ponder God's grace in our lives pray for the grace to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Fifth Decade: In Honor of Our Lady's Coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth~
The Coronation of Mary in Heaven
Meditation on Mary being received and crowned by the Holy Trinity
Intentions: In reparation for all the blasphemies, neglect and outrages against Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. That we may one day be with her before the Beatific Vision.
Friday, June 15, 2012
There are many beautiful writings on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As I was praying about which of them to post here, I felt somewhat drawn to go in a different direction.
Nothing in God's time is circumstantial; everything happens according to His perfect time. If we are open to His rhythms, we will see this and receive the blessings and graces God wishes to bestow on us through specific events~ both great and small.
Case in point...
Yesterday, I came upon a post that gave a link to a powerful testimony of a woman who died after being struck by lightning, but was given the merciful gift of returning to this life. She returned a converted woman, a converted soul. I have read several stories of near death experiences, but perhaps none as powerful as that of Gloria Polo.
Many of you who read this blog also read Mary's at The Beautiful Gate. (the blog where I found the link to Gloria's story) So I post of Gloria Polo's testimony, not so much for those who have already read it, but for those who may have stumbled upon this blog while "NetSurfing".
To read this woman's testimony without the thought or awareness of God's infinite Mercy would be for the reader to be thrown into despair. Read with grateful awareness of the love and mercy of God, the reader can be brought to conversion of heart.
Nowhere better is the love and mercy of God revealed and manifested than through the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I said earlier, that nothing in God's time is circumstantial. Today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. I find it rather providential that Mary posted about this woman's testimony yesterday, and that I finished reading it today on this great feast day.
Reading Gloria Polo's testimony had a very powerful effect on me. Even as one who has turned back to God, I can still see that there is so much room for deeper conversion. I could not dare to look at myself to see this (and more) without the love and mercy that pours from our Savior's Sacred Heart.
A great deal of Gloria Polo's testimony deals with the sin of abortion. She goes into great detail about what Jesus revealed to her in her judgement before Him about how much this sin grieves Him.
As most of you who read this blog know, I committed this grievous sin 24 years ago. It was only through Our Lord's love and mercy, along with the prayers and courage of a dear friend, that I was able to admit to myself and to God what I had done and return to Him.
We in the United States, live in a country where the ability to commit this sin was made the law of the land in 1973 under Roe vs. Wade. We have much for which we need to make reparation! According to the National Right to Life site, over 54 million abortions have been performed since 1973! (and that's just the USA)
In Pope Paul IV's very prophetic encyclical, Humane Vitae, he spells out how abortion, in a sense, is the tip of the iceberg, the end result so to speak. He speaks about how contraception, and overall immorality will lead to the increase in the number of abortions. In looking at our culture today and the statistics for abortion, we can see, sadly, how right he was.
Our Blessed Lord's Sacred Heart, today perhaps more than ever, continues to be offended, ignored and outraged. It is up to those who love Him to make reparation and console Our Lord's Sacred Heart, the throne of God the Father's love.
Please join me in praying the Prayer of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May we love Him for those who do not.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Friday June 15, 2012 has been designated as World Priest Day by the American Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. This date is also the feast of The Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Confraternity has organized a Rosary Relay for priests. There will be 60 rosaries in 60 countries prayed throughout the day. The rosaries are being prayed by priests for priests.
We, as the faithful, can join in this relay right in our own homes. The World Priest Day site has the schedule of times and locations where each of the rosaries will be prayed. The particular Mysteries being prayed as well as the intentions are listed under each location.
Now more than ever, our priests need our prayers and our support. As we celebrate the feast dedicated to Our Lord's Sacred Heart, let us entrust our priests to His heart through through our Blessed Mother and the Rosary.
Related article at Catholic News Agency
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Thank you to our Holy Father for these bold and true words regarding the Liturgy. It is time all Catholics remember that Mass is never about us, but about Our Lord Jesus Christ who died so we might live.
*A tip of the mantilla to Christopher at Sanctus Christopher for alerting us to this statement by Pope Benedict XVI.
Hope Springs Eternal in the Priestly Breast is a book by Fr, James Valladares. In it he discusses the horrid state of due process for falsely accused Catholic priests. I have not read the entire book yet, but from the snippets I have read, it seems this book casts some much needed light in a much needed area.
Fr. Gordon MacRae has reviewed the book on his blog, These Stone Walls. For those who do not know of Father MacRae or his story, he is a Catholic priest falsely accused of sexual abuse. You can read his story on his blog. If you should pay him a visit over there, you may want to leave him a comment offering prayers for him, as well as anniversary wishes for his 30 years of priesthood which he celebrated this week.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
This day started out with challenges from the minute my feet touched the floor. Don't you just love those days! Just getting to Mass this morning seemed to be a huge hurdle~it was as if someone (we know who) did not want me there. Crazy, careless drivers who always succeed in getting my blood boiling seemed to be around every corner. I hate walking into church with my sorry self in a snit, but I was well on my way. Praying all the while through gritted teeth. And things would only get crazier...
I usually go to my parish's 7am Mass, but as I have the day off, I figured I'd sleep in (a rare occurrence for me) and go to our 8:30am. As I went into church there were a few tell tale signs that this was going to be no ordinary daily Mass~ no sacred vessels on the altar as usual, and Sr. Donna walking in and out of the church could only mean one thing~eighth grade Baccalaureate Mass! Of Lord, please not today! I just can't deal with the pomp and circumstance, beautiful as it is; not today. So off I went, but still determined. Another church not too far from me has a 9am; I can still make that.
I entered this church to peace and quiet. Mass began and so did the screaming, running toddler in the back of the church. I give up Lord; so be it; I'm here and that is all that matters.
As I was driving home after Mass, I was thinking about that screaming toddler and began to laugh. God used him to teach me a lesson: I was that screaming toddler, or at least a lot like him. In the few hours that had passed so far in this day, I, like my young friend, had found little peace or calm in anything, and my patience had hit an all time low.
Since I had the day off, I decided I would treat myself to a coffee and some time with my Nook at Barnes & Noble, because you know~ a little, Ok, a lot of caffeine is certainly the remedy I needed in the state I was in :) Sitting in the cafe didn't help; I still felt ill at ease. No, the caffeine from my large coffee hadn't kicked in yet. I took the remainder of my coffee home. I breathed a sigh of relief upon entering my humble little abode, and sat down to pray a rosary. Time with Mama Mary always, without fail, soothes my wired nerves. It was also then that I was reminded of St Teresa's prayer. I don't know about you, but I sure need this one today:
Sunday, June 3, 2012
I love this feast day. Every year on this day, we celebrate and give praise to the Triune God. I can spend my time trying to figure it out (and I have spent some time trying to do that), but I rather leave that to the scholars and theologians. I will simply accept with the eyes of faith that our awesome God is one God in and with three distinct persons. The great lesson of the Trinity is the bond of love. I will accept all of this; I will accept my lack of understanding and just enjoy and praise the Mystery.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King
My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.