Saturday, August 11, 2018

Let's be Balm to the Heart of Jesus!

Like many of the laity and I suspect, holy priests and religious, I have been grieving over the state of the Church as the McCarrick scandal came to light this past June. Tom and I also recently watched the movie, Spotlight about the widespread sex abuse that came to light in the Boston area in the early 2000's. I also wouldn't be surprised if more incidences come to light in the near future. I think we are going to see that the scandals and cover-ups run deep. Tom and I also know more than one person that has been personally affected by it all.

I have literally been crying to the Lord in prayer as I can't imagine how His heart has been grieved as he is all knowing and sees all. I have also been grieving for the victims of these predatory crimes. I am glad these things are coming into the light and I pray they will be dealt with accordingly.

Even before this latest incident broke with Cardinal McCarrick, I was already grieving over the fact that so many have already left the Church and are not practicing any type of faith whatsoever. That describes many of mine and Tom's relatives, some that we visited this summer. Some are agnostics and some out right atheists. The reason they left didn't even have anything to do with these scandals but because I suspect, when they were younger and went to church, they did not see evidence that Jesus was real, that he was alive, and that he loved them. Let's face it, many of our services are lifeless. We hold to the form of religion but often deny its power (2Tim.3:5).

So, what can we, the average laity do about this? 

When I was 19, I went to a church where I saw real faith and passion for the Lord among the people. Through them I saw that Jesus was real and it changed my life! We can have that same effect on others!

So for starters, we need to let the Lord root out complacency and sin in our own hearts! We also need to ask Him to stir into flame the gift of the Holy Spirit that was given to us at Baptism!

I once had a powerful dream I will never forget! In the dream I was in darkness, wading around in mucky water with a lot of other people. I began to hear in the distance a simple but most beautiful song. The words were, "Walk in the light as He is in the light." The song began to get louder and louder and before I knew it, there was an angel standing on a rock in the middle of the mucky water who was singing the song. I could see her because as she lifted up her wings, the whole area was filled with light. The sound of the song was more beautiful than any song I had ever heard! The angel then disappeared. I then stood where the angel had been and shouted, "Did you all hear what the angel said? We need to repent and walk in the light!"

Now is the time to rise up and walk in the light like never before! We need to return to the Lord with our whole heart; rend our heart and not our garments. Especially with all that is going on in the Church, the world needs us to show them that God is still on the throne and he is real!

Also, when we keep our eyes on Jesus and allow his love to come in and transform us into his image, we become balm to his heart that is often broken. It is broken by those who reject him and fail to open their hearts to his love and instead choose mucky water.

Ephesians 2:5 which is part of the second reading for today sums it up well:
So, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
We in turn can also offer our lives as a sacrificial offering to God and become a fragrant aroma that will help console his heart!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

If I had 3 Wishes

The Lord once asked me, "If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?" This was about 18 years ago and I realize now that my answer was rather superficial. At the time my answer was, getting out of debt, getting a bigger house and for Tom to get a better paying job. Even though Tom was a Religion teacher at a Catholic high school, making 20k a year and we qualified for WIC, I now see that those probably were not the right wishes to make.

The Lord is so gracious and kind however and he meets us where we are at. Even though those requests were rather superficial, he still met those needs and then some! I now realize however that there is a better way!

We are currently in a similar situation. Two years ago, Tom took a pay cut in order to be in full-time ministry again. If you count the bonuses he used to receive, he makes less than half the salary that he used to make. We've had to adjust our life style a bit! We have also been humbled as we have had to receive God's provision in ways we wouldn't have necessarily chosen for ourselves.

Sometimes I still lose sight of what is important. 

We currently really feel the need to live closer to the church, have a 4 bedroom house and a bigger yard for the children and for entertaining. It is easy to get discouraged because there is nothing close to the church that accommodates a ministry salary. 

I then realize what is really important and I pray, "Lord, help me to desire you above all else!" 

I've had almost 20 years to think about it and if I now had three wishes, it would be to know more of the love of the Father, experience more of the redemption of Christ, and move more fully in the power of the Holy Spirit!

I look forward to seeing how the Lord is going to work on our behalf, move mountains and perform miracles but above all else, he is the joy set before me and the main one I seek! He alone can fulfill my every need!

Matthew 6:33 - Seek first the Kingdom of God and is righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

There is Only One Way!

I think often we try to complicate life. Life is actually pretty simple. I believe one reason we are here on this planet is so we can be perfected in love. Everything we do or don't do should be motivated out of love and for the betterment of others.

Problems come in when we try to define love by worldly terms. We can only know true love however by knowing God, because God is love; To know true love, it is necessary to get to know God and also receive his love.

Jesus even summed up the hundreds of laws the Jewish people had into one. The law of love! He was pretty harsh with the Pharisees that were trying to put other yokes on the people by telling them they should be doing more than that.

In our society today, we see two groups of people doing this. I would argue that neither side really knows God or His love. They are two sides of the same coin.

One Pharisaical side is the a ultra-conservative, traditionalists. They try to put yokes on people by telling them they should act and behave a certain way. Love is very conditional in this camp and it is by ones own merits that they achieve righteousness and perfection.

The other Pharisaical side is the progressive, liberals. They try to put yokes on people telling them they should be doing certain things. If people are not involved in every cause that agrees with this camp, they are considered hypocrites.

If you try to get in a discussion with either of these camps you could end up feeling like you were thrown into a den of vipers and beaten up. There is no grace or tolerance available for anyone who disagrees with their position.

Anyone who has been on social media long enough has had this happen to themselves or seen it done to someone else.

The problem with both these sides is it requires human effort to be in those camps. It negates humility and poverty of spirit. It denies the fact that we can do nothing apart from the living God and the need for his grace and mercy.

The place I would rather be and remain is in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father. I want to lean back and rest in him. I want to get to know his heart beat and then go where His Spirit leads me to go.

Let us be careful not to get caught up in culture wars and take on the false yokes people try to place on us. Let us instead keep our eyes on Christ, learn his ways and go where he is calling us to go. This is the way of peace. This is the way of love. This is the way to be most effective!

Galatians 5:1 -  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be encumbered once more by a yoke of slavery.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Banqueting Table of Mercy

Lately I've been thinking about the number of healings and miracles you hear about in the Gospels performed by Jesus. Jesus went on to say we would do even greater things than he did and yet it seems that healings and miracles are rare.

Why don't we see these things more often? I wonder if the problem is on our end and not God's.

Tom and I were big fans and followers of the late John Wimber. We have all his books which are out of print now. In his book, Power Healing Wimber talks about praying for many healings before he started witnessing a single healing. The reason he kept praying for healing for people is because it was biblical and he was trying to be obedient to what he felt convicted in scripture to do. 

The turning point for him was when he was called to come over to a man's house to pray for his sick wife. The man had been out of work for some time and finally had a job interview. His wife however came down with the flu and couldn't take care of their children. The man called John and asked him to come over and pray for his wife to be healed so he could make it to the job interview. On the way over to the man's house, John was nervous. His thought process was, "Man, they really believe this stuff!". He arrived nervously, prayed over the man's sick wife and then turned to explain to the man why sometimes people are not healed. He noticed the man's eyes got big, John turned around and the woman was out of bed, completely healed! 

When John drove away from the house he said to God, "You got one!!!"  Next thing he knew, he started seeing an open vision. He had to actually pull over to the side of the road because it was so distracting. The vision was of a big honeycomb dripping with honey. The honey was landing on people. Some received it and some brushed it off out of annoyance. He prayed about this and the Lord said, "John, my mercy is there, you need to learn how to position yourself under it. The problem isn't on My end. Don't beg me for healing again!"

I think the reason we don't see more healing, miracles, provision and just everyday blessings in our lives is because we have a distorted view of God. We don't see him as a loving Father who gives good gifts to his children. We have a poverty and orphan mindset. Instead of being confident in our relationship with him and sitting with him in high places, eating from his banqueting table, we beg him for the scraps that fall under the table.

Now, I'm not saying that every person we pray for should get healed. We all need to die at some point. Even Wimber recognized that some sickness is unto death and he would ask the Lord before praying with someone if it was a sickness unto death. If he felt it was, then he would pray in a different direction and pray for peace for the person and their family. 

If we at least want to see some people healed that we pray for however, I believe it starts with having the right mindset and seeing God as he truly is.

I think to get a good idea of the type of God we serve, we can look at the female pelican. If a mother pelican doesn't have any food to feed her hungry babies, she will tear at her own flesh and feed her own flesh to her babies.

That is the kind of God we serve! He would rather suffer himself than see us suffer! He not only died a gruesome death for us but he gives us his flesh and blood to eat in the Eucharist! He has given us everything! He has never held back and he never will hold back from us! His mercy is abundant and overflowing!

All we need to do is position ourselves to receive!




Wednesday, May 23, 2018

One Beautiful Life!

I was at a surprise birthday party last week for a friend. Children were welcome so we brought 4 of our 6 kids. A woman there saw me smiling and she commented, "How can you still be smiling when you have so many kids?!" Without even thinking, I replied, "Its because I have so many kids that I'm smiling!"

This got me thinking about the culture in which we live in. According to the CDC, birthrates have dipped to a 30 year low and fertility rates have sunk below replacement levels. I believe the reason for this is because we have put our careers and material possessions above having children. Society often considers children to be more of a burden and hindrance to achieving our goals. We can often be narcissistic and self-seeking. I know I have been guilty of thinking this way as well. The only reason I went on to have 6 children is because of the Lord's promptings. Without that, I don't know if I would have had the forbearance so I'm not judging anybody. I would like to challenge however!

Tom and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Before we got married, I wanted to be a missionary. We got pregnant with our first child on our honeymoon. A marriage that includes children is practically all we know. Still, I didn't always see my vocation as a mission field.  When my older two were little, I couldn't wait for them to get a little older so I could finally do what God was calling me to do. Then the Lord called me to have 4 more. Some days I even resented that Tom got to be involved with ministry opportunities while I was "stuck" home with the kids.

I believe one reason we are on this planet is so we can be perfected in love. The best and most effective way for that to happen is through sacrifice and sometimes suffering. It is only through our time on this earth that that is possible since in heaven there will be no more suffering or opportunities to sacrifice for others.

What I have come to discover over the years is that our children can actually help us to be perfected in love, grow in holiness and teach us something about the nature of God. Also, our children do not have to hinder us from achieving our goals but we can actually achieve our goals within the context of family. 

I am currently reading Jennifer Fulwiler's new book, One Beautiful Dream in which she talks about fulfilling her dreams within the context of family. A turning point for her was when she went on a retreat and talked to a priest about her desires. He told her something that was life changing! He said, "Where there is no unity, there is no God. God is always calling us to connection, to unity, and if we don't have that, we are not walking with God. Do this work that God is calling you to do, but do it as one part of something bigger - your family." He went on to tell Jennifer, "We always think like individuals, like the work that we do has nothing to do with anyone else. God wants us to see what we do as just one small part of something greater..."

Unfortunately in our culture, we often tend to think individualistically. There are other cultures that have this down better and have the right mindset that everything they do is out of the context of the family instead of the other way around.

Finally after all these years, I think my mindset is changing for the better. I am starting to even see how I can learn from my children. If we listen and pay attention I think they can teach us so much! 

Reflecting, I can think of more than a few things my children have taught me over the years. My older two girls have taught me to recognize the beauty of Catholicism. They did not grow up with the Catholic faith. We came back to the Church when they were 11 and 13. They ended up falling in love with the beauty that pointed to the presence of God they experienced there. My 12 year old daughter has taught me that we all have our crosses and through the power of the Holy Spirit we can overcome anything! My 9 year old daughter teaches me everyday how to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. She teaches me that He cares about even the littlest details of everyday life. My 8 year old daughter has taught me that ultimately we are made for Heaven and God is the only one that can give us true joy! Last but not least, my 5 year old son is teaching me that you get better results by responding to God's grace instead of reacting to negative behavior. 

I look forward to seeing what the Lord has yet to teach me through my children and how I can partner with them in Christ to reach those around me!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Who Wants to be Radically Obfuscated With Me?

When I was in college, I helped start a women's household and led it. A women's household consisted of a group of women who lived on the same wing of a dorm. They had a certain charism (ours was on the Eucharist) and would get together for prayer and different activities. 

Okay, I'm about to be vulnerable with you in what I am about to share. My household sisters gave me a nickname. That nickname was ZORC. It stood for Zealous, Obfuscated, Radical, Catholic. Do you know what the word obfuscated means? I didn't know what the word meant and had to look it up in the dictionary (we didn't have google back then). The word means perpetually confused! 

Now wait, before you think my household sisters were being mean, they actually meant it as a compliment and out of love. You see, in the natural I usually didn't have a clue as to what was going on around me. I wasn't up on the latest gossip, trends or even the latest news. However, whenever we would get together, somehow I would know exactly what needed to be said. You see, I did have a strong relationship with the Lord, would seek his will and he would give me wisdom and insight. I would then end up sharing exactly what the other women needed to hear!

I want to get back to that kind of radical dependence on God! He was always the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing I thought about at night! He was my main source of wisdom and knowledge!

In recent years, with the invention of the smart phone, I have succumbed to checking my phone first thing in the morning before I spend time in prayer. I have gotten caught up in the noise of the world which causes distractions when I do go to pray. I suspect I'm not the only one. We want to know the latest gossip and latest news right away. Is this however choosing to eat from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" instead of the "tree of life" as described in Genesis? 

What would happen if we put down our phones and sought God along with his wisdom and knowledge first? Is this too radical of an idea? 

If you are willing to be a radical Catholic like me, let us return to our first love! It is the Easter season! There is abundant grace available for us to draw closer to Christ, even more so than during Lent! Let us take advantage of this grace, seek the face of Jesus and become his worldly obfuscated followers, knowing by His wisdom and grace exactly what to say in any given situation! 

If you are trying to reach me and are not able to leave a message!

Monday, March 12, 2018

What is the Treasure You Seek?

Matthew 13:44 - The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy he went and sold all he had and bought that field. 

Jesus is our treasure! When we find that treasure, realizing how precious it is, our only response is to leave everything else behind and follow him! When we do this and behold the treasure, we become treasure!

Last night I had a vision of Jesus with a sifter, sifting out the sand and impurities from the gold and jewels. He then took the jewels and put them in a treasure chest. These jewels represent those who have given their lives to him and have allowed God's love to transform them. I then saw Jesus saving up the treasure until the right moment when he would pour out the treasure for the sake of others who don't yet know him, so they can then become treasure!

We become beautiful when we behold Christ. If there is ugliness in the world, it is because people have forgotten or don't realize who they are and whose they are. They don't realize they are made in the image and likeness of God and they belong to him! They don't realize they are beloved!

Let us respond to the call, after a time of hiddenness, and allow our lives to be poured out as a beautiful offering so others may find their way back and also become God's treasure!