Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dear Children! I am calling you because I need you!

Dear children! I am calling you because I need you. I need hearts ready for immeasurable love-- hearts that are not burdened by vanity-- hearts that are ready to love as my Son loved-- that are ready to sacrifice themselves as my Son sacrificed Himself. I need you. In order to come with me, forgive yourselves, forgive others and adore my Son. Adore Him also for those who have not come to know Him, those who do not love him. Therefore, I need you; therefore, I call you. Thank you.
Our Lady to Mirjana, July 2, 2009

By John-boy

First of all, What beautiful words from Our Blessed Mother! What a beautiful and awesome feeling it is to have our Blessed mother tell us that She needs us! If that doesn’t bring a smile to our faces then I really just don’t know what else ever could! Aside from perhaps being greeted by Jesus and Our Blessed Mother at the moment of our death.. Thus, a happy death.. What an extremely warm, loving, caring and compassionate feeling to have Our Lady actually tell us “I need you!” Does it get any better than that?

“As Mary Herself said, parishioners and
pilgrims are very important in Her eyes; in fact,
without us, She could not do any of what God
gave Her to do in this historical period.”
Fr. Slavko Barbaric, during an interview with Kresimir Sego, taken from the book, Be My Witness..

Ever since the early days of the Apparitions in Medjugorje, particularly when the world came to learn that 10 secrets would eventually come to unfold at certain appropriate times in the future, or I should say at least that portion of humanity who are willing to listen and heed Our Lady’s call to conversion, people have often speculated, “Are the secrets about to begin?” And as each month comes and goes with a new message from Our Lady in what has become for many a school of prayer as Fr. Slavko Barbaric often referred to Medjugorje as, we often find ourselves looking to each new message to see if there is any hints about such an approaching period of time on the horizon.. And we really ought to be careful about speculation.. Especially if it takes us away from the real purpose of the message which is to draw us closer to God in our relationship with Him.. Hopefully, when we look to each new message, we do so not so much to know what is going to happen but with a desire to grow in faith, hope and love drawing ever closer and closer in our relationship with God, for it is for this very reason that Our Lady has been coming to us for so long..

Now one of the things I find very important when trying to absorb Our Lady’s monthly message is contemplation and prayer.. okay, actually these are two things.. however, in trying to get a handle on what Our Blessed Mother is teaching us, I am one who believes that these two aspects of our faith journey really go hand in hand and in wanting to absorb Her words in the proper sense the way She means them to be perceived we really ought to utilize both prayer and contemplative thought before quickly assuming She means this or that… Common sense and a realistic outlook helps to keep things in perspective without going overboard in a way that pulls us away from the true message.. And of course, it also goes to say that the message can be slightly different for each individual depending on what we are each going through and what consolation or guidance we may need to hear at any given moment in our personal daily journey.. However, there is always an over all message to the message that is intended for everyone to heed.. and in this case, it is simply that Our Lady needs us…

For various reasons perhaps personal to each individual this most recent message has really caught the attention of many.. and perhaps in a way slightly different than in the past.. For that matter, I suppose the same can be said about several of Our Lady’s most recent messages.. Has anything substantial actually changed that makes the Medjugorje message any different than in the past 28 years? I don’t know.. For some it seems that it has.. And perhaps that is a good thing because Our Lady just might now have our undivided attention even that much more..

There is even a strong feeling among many faithful lately that the 1st secret is about to occur.. To be honest, for my own personal reasons I happen to share in this sentiment.. However, I can be off the mark just as much as the next person.. So, again, in order that we remain firmly grounded in the healthy direction Our Lady wishes to lead us in, truth be told, we still do not know when the secrets will begin and nothing has changed in that we really ought not put too much emphasis into speculating about the when’s, where’s and how’s concerning the secrets given to our dear brothers and sisters in Christ the children of Medjugorje.. We will know when it is God’s will for us to know and not one hair of a second sooner.. That is just a fact.. We have no control over such matters to begin with.. we never did.. and no, nothing has changed at all in that regard.. and besides, speculating about things that Our Lady has not revealed to us nor that God does not want us to know at this present time can really be unhealthy spiritually speaking simply because it takes us further away from the more important things we really ought to be concentrating on such as how am I living the Medjugorje message today in my own daily walk?

There is however, in my humble opinion, one very important matter in which we probably ought to be speculating about concerning the 1st secret.. A kind of speculating that can prove beneficial in order that we better prepare ourselves when these foretold events do eventually begin.. or at the very least, perhaps we should be giving this some deep soul-searching & pondering from time to time while we pray the Rosary each day.. again, so that we may be better prepared.. and that is, in what way will I respond to those around me when the 1st secret does come to pass?

When the 1st secret is announced and as the event begins to unfold it will be our call to tend to and console those who are troubled, confused and anxious.. We will need to be calm instruments of God's peace, something that can only be obtained through the grace of God.. See, the reason I am addressing this issue the way that I am is because I have some very serious concerns about a particular movement I see today that I believe is the direct result of some purported messages floating around that in essence are actually working against the Medjugorje message even though the purported messengers claim otherwise.. Some of them even claim their connection with heaven began at Medjugorje, thus, using Medjugorje as a platform to gain support for their claims.. There is a movement that exists today that basically says this, “because of certain events that will unfold in the near future, we need to prepare ourselves to go into hiding.” Or things to this effect.. This is fear based.. it causes fear and even worse, it really invites people to become selfish .. That’s right, I said selfish.. The opposite of giving.. of caring.. of compassion.. of charity.. of loving.. of being Christian..

Here is why I say this.. If you look closely at everything Our Lady has been teaching us over the past 28 years, She seems to be killing two birds with one stone to sort of speak.. On one hand, She is teaching us how to be better Christians.. She is teaching us how to live the Gospel in our daily walk of life.. Well, what is it to be Christian? To be Christian is to be unselfish, to be charitable towards our neighbors.. to look for Christ in all our neighbors, even and especially our neighbors who to us might seem the farthest from being Christlike.. Still, it is our call to love others as Jesus loves us.. On the other hand, knowing that there will eventually come a time when the 10 secrets do actually begin to unfold, She has also been preparing us for this next period of time.. So the past 28 years have been a special school of prayer where we have been learning to live the Gospel each day of our lives as well as a course in how to respond to the needs of others when ‘others’ come running up to us saying, “Help me, what do I do?!” Responding to the needs of others with love and an open heart is not something solely exclusive to when the secrets begin, but something we really ought to be living each moment of our lives anyways..

Now, let’s be realistic here for a moment… If I am getting all worked up, worrying in fear about a time of chaos, storing up tons and tons of preservatives in my basement, perhaps even arming myself with guns and ammunition to protect my family when all hell breaks loose, all the while believing that I am doing all of this in the name of God because I truly believe God has been speaking to people and warning us of this purported horrible undoing of mankind, what am I really doing here? Think about it for a moment.. What am I really doing in preparing this way? What I am doing is nothing more than looking out for ME and forgetting the rest of humanity.. And this is Christian?

Yes, I understand that in Scripture there are prophesies pertaining to end times persecution.. And so now, many of these self-proclaimed messengers are sounding trumpets of doom and gloom saying, “Be prepared! For the time has come!” And in sounding these trumpets we are being told that we need to be prepared to go into hiding.. refuges, or safe havens as they often call them.. Yet, look at this most recent message from Our Blessed mother and tell me that this is what She is saying? Really? That She is calling us to be prepared to get down right greedy and selfish? Heavens no! I don’t think so… Quite the opposite my dear brothers and sisters, Our Blessed Mother is saying “get ready to love! I need you to love!”

Even when you turn to that part of Scripture where Jesus foretells of a time of persecution, He too is telling us to be ready to stand firm in that same love rather than to be ready to run and hide in more ways than one.. “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will be saved.” Matthew 17: 33 and also, “Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I Myself shall give you wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to refuse or refute.” Matthew 21: 14,15

The real message is about love.. and it is about tending to the needs of others with that love, a love that truly comes from God.. The Medjugorje message is not about secluding ourselves from others especially in a moment when there will be so many in desperation looking for guidance and answers.. Now if we are all hunkered down in our basements hiding from the world, who then will be available to help all these children of God in their moment of much needed consolation and compassion? We are talking about our loved ones.. family, friends, co-workers, our children’s teachers, our neighbor down the street, our hair dresser, our bus driver, and so on… If you work in a hospital or perhaps a nursing home can you even begin to fathom abandoning all these patients to fend for themselves all alone while you go run and hide in your basement or some refuge in the woods? Would it really be Christian to abandon the rest of humanity in those initial moments the secrets begin? How could any of this actually be God’s will? How could any of this reflect what Our Lady has been teaching us for so long now?

Changing the topic a bit, some have argued that it is because the Medjugorje messages have gone on for so long that they no longer believe in the validity of Medjugorje. We are now seeing a time when even some who were once faithful followers of Our Lady’s Medjugorje message now no longer pay much if any heed to the Medjugorje message and the events that surround Our Lady’s continual appearance there.. Although I would have to say that this is not common place by any means but actually really far and few between to be honest.. Sad to say, yet even a fewer among the few have made it their personal mission to try and debunk what is occurring in Medjugorje.. For those who do so, and I am speaking on a personal level here, for while we are free to choose either way at this time whether or not we believe in the validity of Medjugorje I personally feel that it is a very unfortunate tragedy of those who choose not to believe because to me they have really ‘missed the boat’ to sort of speak when it comes to what Medjugorje is really all about..

Perhaps those who once believed but no longer believe have not yet realized the magnitude of Medjugorje in that Our Lady is slowly teaching us over time which in essence is how to not just know but actually live the Gospel each day of our lives.. Yes, we are slow learners when it comes to walking and living our Christian faith.. And often, we need to be continually reminded over and over again what it is to be a faithful child of God because we simply forget far too easily just how to be that faithful Christian God calls us to be.. Love God, love others.. over and over again.. we need to practice this.. Love God, love others.. and again, Love God, love others.. Our Catholic Faith and how we are called to practice our faith works much the same.. Otherwise, we would simply go to Mass each Sunday and receive the Eucharist without the liturgy and a Homily to reflect on.. The whole concept behind this is to refresh and refresh and keep refreshing the process of growing in our Christian faith.. And it's really been this way for many many generations.. long before Medjugorje..

Yet, so many of our Churches have closed.. our pews seem more and more empty as time passes by.. So many of God's children are falling away from the Church.. As Cradle Catholics, we were often sacramentalized but we were never really evangelized.. For many of us, we just didn’t get it.. We heard the Word but it fell on deaf ears.. and so, for many, it is not until we experience a powerful conversion like Paul that we begin to invite God back into our hearts the way God wants to be in our hearts.. And this is where Our Blessed Mother comes in.. Our Lady, for 28 years now has been coming to Her precious children continually drawing us back to Her Son Jesus as often as we tend to veer off the narrow path in our daily walk of faith.. In essence, She is evangelizing us in a very powerful way.. but She is not just evangelizing us, Our Lady is literally taking us by the hand and leading us straight to the very Heart of Her Son Jesus, in a way that no other human being possibly can.. And like any loving and concerned mother would do when Her children begin to stray from the ‘safe’ path, where there are many roaring lions out and about ready to devour, Our Lady keeps taking us by that hand and gently guiding us back along that safe path, a path that leads us straight to Her Son Jesus… She does this each month when She gives us a new message so that we may continue to grow in faith, hope and love.. However, on our part we always have free will.. So She simply invites.. and She invites.. and then She invites us again..

Yet, as we continue to grow in this school of prayer Our Lady has been guiding and instructing us along the past 28 years, we also know deep down in our hearts that the way things are and have been will not always be… That indeed, a time will come when the secrets will be announced, events will begin to unfold, and the world as we know it will begin to change right before our very eyes.. This is just a fact.. For those who heed Our Lady’s call to conversion and follow the Medjugorje message the fact that 10 secrets will one day come to pass is very much a reality, just as much as the whole concept of Medjugorje and everything about it the past 28 years is in fact a reality..

As much as we ought not spend too much time pondering what’s going to actually happen when the secrets do eventually occur, I mean in terms of speculation.. those unanswerable questions such as, "where will it happen?" and "on what date will it take place", for focusing too much in such a manner is not necessarily healthy spiritually speaking.. .. However, there is perhaps a common sense and healthy speculative pondering that should prove beneficial in the long run when the secrets do eventually come to pass.. And that are the answerable questions.. Such as, how will I respond to those around me regarding their own needs in the state they are in at that time when they turn to me and say, “I’m confused, please, please help me! What do I do?” How will I take care of those who come to me wanting to know what to do? Remember, people might not seem to have been really listening to you in the past whenever you spoke about Medjugorje, but when that time arrives they will certainly suddenly remember.. and it will be then that those same individuals who perhaps in the past simply rolled their eyes whenever you spoke about Our Lady’s love will most likely come running to you saying, “Hey! You know about Medjugorje! Please, please tell me what I need to know. Tell me what I need to do!”

When the 1st secret comes to pass, for those who do not know the love of God this will be a very difficult moment for them.. Perhaps there will be extremely confused individuals, struggling to make sense of what is happening.. There will be remorseful individuals, coming to realize how far off track they have been.. and there will be frightened individuals who need to know that God loves them and wants them to come back to Him.. Perhaps as of now many do not seem to be listening, but when the 1st secret unfolds that will undoubtedly change within an instant.. Personally, I am one who believes we will see hoards and hoards of fallen away Catholics flocking back to the Confessionals.. line after line, of people knocking on the local Parish door wanting to see a priest, "Please Father! I need to see you!" Very symbolic indeed that we should even see lines and lines of confessionals in Medjugorje on a continual basis, don't you think?

For those who have been continually ignoring Our Lady’s invitation to conversion there will be sense of chaos and confusion.. Confusion comes from the devil and it is very difficult to avoid confusion if we do not have God at the center of our lives.. that is just common sense.. and that is why Our Lady has been coming to us for so long.. to help us break through that confusion and be prepared, so that we can help others in their own state of confusion.. She has been preparing us.. Perhaps those who until that moment have been away from God will experience a strong and complete sense of being lost, an inner personal earthquake if you will suddenly takes place from within one’s being.. “Oh God! What have I done!”

And perhaps within an instant there will be thousands of Saul’s becoming Paul’s.. That’s the good news! That’s the beauty and wonder of the warning God will give us.. Just as you often see people walking around like zombies after a devastating earthquake with blank stares and a sense of “What just happened” on their faces, so too, we will more than likely encounter a lot of people around us, perhaps even family members, co-workers, friends and such, with that same look on their faces and confusion in their hearts as they come to us saying, “So what do I do? How do I make this better? How do I correct this?”

Considering all of this, is this why Our Lady seems to be preparing us in this manner when She says She needs, “hearts that are ready to love as my Son loved” I mean, She has basically been saying this for 28 years.. and nothing in this single statement seems any different than before.. however, combined with the entire message, and the general feel of Her most recent messages it just seems as though we are being prepared in a different way now, perhaps in a way that appears more urgent than in the past.. as one close friend mentioned recently, “it feels like this is the final leg of the race.” This same friend also said, “Those of us who do believe in the authenticity of Medjugorje need to be a beacon of light to those who do not believe in God......even if Medjugorje did not exist, we still need to be a beacon of light to the world.” And so, regardless of when the 1st secret occurs there is a strong sense of being prepared.. but not in the sense some have been claiming.. re- stocking up on canned goods, lot’s of canned beans in case there is a gas shortage.. But rather preparing ourselves and being prepared to truly assist those feeling confused and left in the dark when it all begins...

“I have told you this so that joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:11-13

“Dear children! I am calling you because I need you.” Our Lady needs us? Yes, She needs, “hearts ready for immeasurable love-- hearts that are not burdened by vanity-- hearts that are ready to love as my Son loved.” That is a pretty powerful request when you think of it! Then She continues with the ultimate request of all by saying that She need hearts, “that are ready to sacrifice themselves as my Son sacrificed Himself.” Again, repeating the words, “I need you.” Jesus sacrificed Himself in many ways yet in one very powerful and glorified way.. The ultimate sacrifice was His passionate death.. He laid down His life for each of us.. In all the ways He continually gave of Himself this continual act of sacrifice can be summed up in one single statement, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another.”

Martyrdom is the ultimate act of love for God. Martyrdom is to sacrifice our life for obedient love of God. Now I am not suggesting that Our Lady is saying we are all about to be martyred.. However, that is always a possibility, at least for some in some parts of the world.. Remember, martyrdom is nothing new to our Christian faith.. However, perhaps what I am suggesting is that we are all being called to be prepared for spiritual martyrdom.. In other words, be ready to stand up for your faith because these are certainly times when being a Christian, and more particularly being a Catholic tends to be seen as a bad thing rather than a good thing by many in today’s world.. Especially with our dear beloved Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, bless his heart, coming out with a new encyclical about charity that is really addressing some vital issues the world faces today, and considering how many conspiracy theorist’s are already jumping all over him accusing him of endorsing a new world order and one world government we really need to be prepared for an onslaught of such verbal persecution.. We need to pray for our Holy Father, probably more so now than any time before since his papacy began, and we need to be ready to stand firm and steadfast in our faith, trust and obedience to God and to His Church..

And finally, Our Lady is calling us because She needs us to be Her prayer warriors.. and so prayer is the key element to all of this at hand for whatever the future holds.. And so we continue to do exactly what Our Blessed Mother asks us to do... pray, pray, pray... May there be mass conversions when the secrets begin... and may we be the instruments of God's peace and love Our Lady is calling us to be.. She needs us... and we certainly need Her..

Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with Thee,
Blessed art Thou amongst women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus
Holy Mary, Mother of God
Pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death, Amen..

Here we are Mother, please lead us!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Behind Closed Doors, There Lies a Gift For You..

By John-boy

"Dear children! I invite you to open the door of your heart to Jesus as the flower opens itself to the sun. Jesus desires to fill your hearts with peace and joy. You cannot, little children, realize peace if your are not at peace with Jesus. Therefore, I invite you to confession so Jesus may be your truth and peace. So, little children, pray to have the strength to realize what I am telling you. I am with you and I love you. Thank you for having responded to my call."
Our Lady of Medjugorje, January 25, 1995

Behind closed doors lies one of the most beautiful gifts God wants to give us.. Yet, often we are afraid.. What is probably the most difficult stumbling block any person encounters along their journey in life is the humility of confessing our sins.. the humble acknowledgment that I have sinned, that I have not always acted the way that I should.. That personal recognition that it is true, I fall short of the glory of God..

For many laity, visiting the confessional sits near the bottom of the priority list when it comes to putting our faith to practice.. I stayed away from the confessional for over a decade out of sure pride.. And like so many, I had all the excuses.. “Well, why do I have to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just do it alone in prayer?” Yet, in this little room no larger than a broom closet is a most beautiful gift just waiting for me to receive..

That huge obstacle, that really difficult stumbling block, that really uncomfortable room with the little red/green light above it's door that I tend to shy away from called confessional calls out my name.. “Come to Me you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the greatest gifts the Church gives to us.. This precious Sacrament is the footing to our salvation.. It is in the confessional that we experience the saving grace of Our Lord the most..

The priest does not judge us.. the priest will not say “shame on you.” No, he consoles us in our remorse and helps us to encounter once again the merciful Christ our Redeemer in the most intimate way just as we encounter Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.. The priest is there to serve us.. to lead us the faithful flock to Christ..

When we enter into the confessional we enter heavily burdened with sin.. we are dirty.. we are filthy.. we are heavily burdened.. riddled with guilt.. we have offended our God at various moments in our daily walk.. and those offenses are weighing us down whether we realize it or not.. we want to be free! and so we are in great need of a wash down.. O' Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You... Jesus pours His most precious Blood over us.. The only way we can be free of this filth is through the mercy of Christ our Redeemer.. It is in the confessional that we take the plunge and literally fall into the merciful and loving arms of our Savior.. And just as the priest gives you the blessing and says “I absolve you of all your sins. Go in the peace of Christ” Jesus is standing right there saying, “I forgive you. Your sins are no more.”

"Dear children! Today I call you to prepare yourselves for the coming of Jesus. In a special way, prepare your hearts. May holy Confession be the first act of conversion for you and then, dear children, decide for holiness. May your conversion and decision for holiness begin today and not tomorrow. Little children, I call you all to the way of salvation and I desire to show you the way to Heaven. That is why, little children, be mine and decide with me for holiness. Little children, accept prayer with seriousness and pray, pray, pray. Thank you for having responded to my call."
Our Lady of Medjugorje, November 25, 1998

Friday, May 15, 2009

Walking the Tight Rope Between Refusing to Justify Sin and Being Careful Not to Judge Others

By John-boy

“Political figures supporting pro-abortion legislation should be requested from the pulpit and from the Bishop not to present themselves for Communion. That it is an offense not only to God but to the rest of us who are trying to follow the Divine Law.”
Fr. Groeschel, on politicians who advocate abortion receiving Communion..

Personally, I agree with Fr. Groeschel and I have the utmost admiration for his speaking up in the light of truth.. Fr. Groeschel reminds all of us that if we are in a state of mortal sin we should not approach the Altar during Mass to receive Holy Communion. While my sins are something personal between me, my confessor and God in the confessional, a rather sad dilemma here is that the sins of Catholics regularly spotlighted in the media often become known to everyone.. especially, if that Catholic is a politician who is obliged to let the people know where he or she stands on moral issues. On one hand you almost have to have a sense of sympathy in that their lives are no longer personal between them and God as it is for a quiet layperson, yet at the same time recognizing that the politician knew before getting into politics that their morality would be made known to the public. As Christians, we cannot condone sin yet we cannot judge either.. It becomes a real tight rope to walk sometimes..

While listening to Fr. Groeschel speak, I noticed that he put emphasis on the words, “should be requested from the pulpit and from the Bishop...” in referring to political figures receiving Communion. I believe that it is very important as mentioned in the above opening paragraph to be always mindful that while we can never condone sin, we can also never judge. Fr. Groeschel was considering the Catechism, the fundamental teachings of our Catholic faith when he made this statement. He is not merely speaking from personal opinion but actually in obedience to his call as a priest to lead the faithful flock in truth.. I do not believe for a moment that he is casting any judgment on a person but simply calling to mind the need for each of us to be obedient to the teachings of the Majesterium of the Church. Though what he is saying was in response to politicians who support certain legislature that oppose the law of God let us not forget also that what he is saying applies to each and every one of us as Catholics just the same.

It is for this very reason that if I am in mortal sin, I should not be coming forward to receive Communion. And recently, one Sunday morning at Mass I found myself in such a situation as humbling as it is for me to admit.. Perhaps sharing my own testimony here will help others to understand the importance of remaining obedient to Church teachings. And believe me, this was by far not only the most awkward moment I ever experienced during Mass but my most saddest and heart wrenching moment.. I can only hope I never have to go through that again.. That is to have to sit back in the pew and watch everyone else around me go up for Communion knowing that I could not join them because of the state of sin I was in at that present moment. It broke my heart. But then, I must also remember that it is because I pierced Someone's Heart who is very dear and special to me that I was in this predicament in the first place..

Just after the Consecration was complete, as the priest lifted up the Holy Eucharist and announced, “Happy are those who are called to the table…” I shuddered with complete and utter sadness for the state of mortal sin I was in at that moment. There was no denying the awareness of remorse I now felt for the Holy Spirit had made it known to me the state of sin I was in.. yes, at that moment the Holy Spirit had convicted me of my sinfulness.. I would not be among my fellow brothers and sisters who were about to come forward to the Table to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. The consequence of my sins tore deep into my very heart.

"Dear children! I invite you to open the door of your heart to Jesus as the flower opens itself to the sun. Jesus desires to fill your hearts with peace and joy. You cannot, little children, realize peace if your are not at peace with Jesus. Therefore, I invite you to confession so Jesus may be your truth and peace. So, little children, pray to have the strength to realize what I am telling you. I am with you and I love you. Thank you for having responded to my call."
Our Lady of Medjugorje, January 25, 1995

The entire congregation, I included, responded with the words, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Yet, an intricate part of that healing process meant first receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to receiving Holy Communion. The Lord indeed does desires to heal me.. It is His desire to heal each and everyone of us. That is the will of an all merciful God Who we turn to in our deepest state of wretchedness. I am a Roman Catholic… and as a Roman Catholic by faith, by reason, and by submissive obedience to the Majesterium of which in full consciousness and aware of the freewill I do possess, I fully consent to this obedience and authoritative power the Church holds. It is a must that I perceive this way for this is the awareness and understanding in the light of truth that the Holy Spirit gives to us so that we may grow in faith nearer to God rather than further away from Him..

I solemnly and wholeheartedly believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist.. The Eucharist, my brothers and sisters in Christ as you already know, is not merely a symbol of our Catholic faith but Jesus the Bread of Life Himself.. The Eucharist IS Jesus truly present. So, I must be obedient to the Majesterium of the Church whether it is comfortable to perceive this way or not. Yes, it is the will of God that I come to Him.. but it is also His will that I approach Him in obedience according to the Church of which He has entrusted His authority to..

"Therefore, if you bring your gift to the Altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the Altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
Matthew 5: 23

I was in a state of mortal sin. No one but God and I alone knew this to be true in that moment. I could have easily rose from the pew and approached the Altar to receive Communion and no one would have known any different.. But I knew.. and God knew.. And I knew in my heart that it would be unjust of me to do so.. a double sin.. For my very soul, stained with the filth of selfishness, a consequence of my recent quest to self-gratify prevented me from joining my brothers and sisters at the Table.. At least for the time being.. It would not have been just in the sights of a God Who is both mercy and justice for me to have come forward at the Banquet Table the state of sin I was in… I was to take the proper steps and confess my sins, then come back and receive my Lord for I knew in my heart that attempting to sneak through the back door was not something pleasing to God..

“The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guest’s he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence.”
Matthew 22:10-12

In Matthew chapter 22, Jesus tells the Parable of the Wedding Feast of which the kingdom of heaven can be likened to. A king had summoned his servants to round up special guests for a special feast but those guests invited declined. Furious, the king summoned the servants to round up all they could find in the streets, the good and bad alike.. According to the footnotes that accompany this Scriptural quote provided in the New American Bible, the wedding garment refers to the act of repentance…where we become pure again through the Sacrament of Reconciliation..

So, in the case of politicians and other high profile figures whose sins are often made known to the world I must be careful to advocate against the permitting of sins in today's society yet at the same time be attentive to my own that I do not cast stones.. so in this being the case with public people it becomes a concern and a call for each of us to be vigilant of our own keep, because a door is now left open making it far too easy for us to fall into the trap of judging them..

“Stop judging that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”
Matthew 7:1,2

Often, as a Christian who is Pro-Life, the moment I begin to speak about the issue that weighs heavy on my heart I risk being accused by others, sometimes even by my own fellow Christian brother or sister of being judgmental. And sometimes that is the case.. that wrongful judgments have been waged.. So how do I stand up for justice without casting judgment on my brother or sister when I see sin being progressively advocated in the world around me? I do not like what I see as I see injustices such as the passing of laws that allow abortion become acceptable more and more in today’s society.. How do I as a Christian, called by God to advocate for life, stand up for the rights of the innocent and unborn child? How do I keep the balance between refusing to condone sin and refraining from judging this or that politician?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
Matthew 5: 43,44

The only logical answer seems to be love the sinner but despise the sin.. or vise versa, despise the sin but love the sinner.. How do I do this? I am to love those who oppose me. I must love those who stand up against what I stand for? Yes, I must love the sinner even when I despise that sinners agenda. I must love my persecutors.. I must love those who 'appear to be indifferent to God's Law'.. there is the trap right there that I begin to fall into if I am not vigilant of my own keep..

The sinner is our brother. The sinner is our sister. The sinner is me.. I am the sinner. Do I desire to be loved? Even in all my sinfulness? Of course I do.. In all the years I was away from God and His Church, as well as in all the time I have since returned has it ever pierced my heart when people shunned me or mocked me or ridiculed me for not seeing things their way? Of course it did.. I was still a child of God with feelings.. and it still did not feel very comfortable to have another person cast stones at me..

My conversion is the result of the Holy Spirit Who gently convicted me of my sinfulness.. that word 'gently' is extremely important.. My conversion is not the result of the devil accusing me.. nor is it the result of other people throwing my sins in my face.. It was always in those circumstances that I drifted further away from God.. So standing up and pointing the finger at others accusing them of their sins does no good to help bring them closer to God.. Yet, again, I also cannot condone sin.. I cannot simply turn a blind eye when I see a law that is being passed or the potential is there for a government to pass a law that will permit sin and more sin to occur viewed by many as a false justice in the society of which I am a part of…

My response, when I see the potential for such laws to be passed must first and foremost be one of prayer.. and if I feel called by God to advocate for God’s will in the society I live in, in the instance of abortion- to advocate for life, then I must always maintain that prayerful heart all along the while I advocate for life.. For without prayer as a means to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit Who is all Truth, and without a solid foundation built on Truth I have taken it upon myself without God to conquer an injustice..

I want to be loved. I do not want to be judged or condemned by you. I do not want to stand accused by you. I want you to accept me for who I am even with all my faults and my inadequacies.. I also want to be just in the sights of God.. I cannot judge you.. I also cannot condone your sins if you believe that your sins are just.. do not judge me for it does you no good in your walk of faith to bring you closer to God.. but also, do not condone my sins should I attempt to justify them.. because then, you do me no good either to help me to get to heaven..

It is the Holy Spirit Who convicts us of our sins. Unlike the devil who accuses us, the Holy Spirit convicts us that we may see truth with spiritual eyes.. the devil on the other hand wishes to keep us in guilt and lead us into despair. We must be clear on the very extreme difference between these two occurrences.. The Holy Spirit is our friend, our Advocate, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it.” John 14: 16,17 The devil is our accuser, who prosecutes us before God for his own gain in an attempt to obtain our soul and drag us to hell..

So as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to be advocates to one another to help one another make it to heaven. No, not in the sense that we should convict others of their sins.. that is for the Holy Spirit to do, because though we are called to follow in Christ's footsteps, we ourselves are not God.. So advocates of Truth, but not judges.. We are not our brother or sisters judge.. we need to understand the difference between the two… I cannot judge you.. I cannot tell you where you stand before God.. even the most hardened sinner I cannot judge.. but condone the sin? No, that I also cannot and should never do..

Praying that all politicians, all those in powerful positions, who see abortion and other sins as acceptable, that they begin to change how they perceive truth.. that they welcome in God's Truth, which is the only real truth.. that they begin to see the dangers in endorsing sins .. that their hearts and minds be transformed and they begin to soften more and more to welcome in the same God who knocks every day on each and everyone of our hearts as well.. may we also be receptive to God when He knocks on our hearts..

Peace to all my dear brothers and sisters in Christ..

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prayer for the Conversion of Lapsed Catholics

(Painting: The Prodigal Son, by Liz Lemon Swindle)

Prayer for the Conversion of Lapsed Catholics
By John-boy

Lord Jesus, ever since You graced us with a journey of conversion of our own You continually call us to be humble servants and prayer warriors, Evangelist’s spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth .. And at the foot of the Cross You gave us Your Mother to be our Blessed Mother.. The beautiful Lady of many apparitions throughout history who continually invites us to pray for the conversion of poor sinners.. especially those who like myself at one time have fallen away from their baptismal faith, the Roman Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.. Lord have mercy..

And though I am most certainly a sinner and thus not even worthy to undo the straps of You sandals, I come before You meek and humble in prayer and petition this very day, beseeching Your most bountiful and infinite mercy to fall upon not just me and not just those dear to me who I am most concerned about, but upon all Your precious children once faithful flowers who for whatever reason have since fallen away from their baptismal faith.. the same faith Your Spirit graciously welcomed them into.. Christ have mercy..

Guide them dear Lord back into Your most Sacred Heart for they are Your precious children, little lambs, precious flowers, in most need of experiencing Your Love and Your Mercy in the Sacraments given us through the tender hands of Your priest’s.. these precious flowers once knew and recognized their Lord in the Sacraments of the Altar much like St. John the Baptist who recognized his Lord even in his mother’s womb.. Lord have mercy..

Now they hunger and thirst for Your most Precious Body and Blood temporarily unable to truly see You with Catholic eyes as they once did not long ago.. and as they once praised You and worshipped You together with all of us in union with You, One Bread and One Body it is with great hope that we turn to You Lord asking this favor that one day these precious flowers, these little lambs will return to the same Church that gave them their footing early on in life.. Christ have mercy..

As we see our Churches empty we often find ourselves asking where Lord have all the precious flowers gone? Our eyes swell with tears yet we cling to Your unfathomable mercy and place our trust in Your divine plan.. Please Lord Jesus we beseech You to fill Your beautiful garden the Roman Catholic Church that You have given Your Blessed Mother, Our Mystical Rose, the unique role to tend to once again with the precious and beautiful flowers that once graced and bloomed Your Garden long ago.. please Lord, we beseech You to bring them back into Your Most Sacred Heart and the Most Immaculate Heart of Your Mother Mary who becomes our Most Holy Mother to love us and to guide us along the way to salvation.. Lord have mercy..

Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!