So Many Why’s

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We are a people full of questions, unfortunately, most of our questions have to do with conflict, suffering, disappointments, struggles and issues that are out of our control. As human beings, we have the capacity to remember the negative things in life and seek ways to help deal with those stressors, while forgetting good things that happen to us on a daily basis. For people of faith, we often turn to God for our answers, or we seek out faithful friends or counselors who can help us in our times of difficulty. This is when we often bring to God the question of “why?”

One of the holy heroes of the Bible is Job. This man was living what we now call, “his best life” when tragedy upon tragedy befell him. His friends were convinced he sinned against God and that was why he was being punished with the loss of his children, wife, home, income, and everything he owned. Job knew he was a righteous man and lived according to God’s laws so, he was baffled as to why these things were happening to him. Little did he know that God allowed Satan to tempt Job into losing his faith and trust in God. Time after time, Satan took away something precious from Job, waiting to see if he would lose his faith or give in to the reasoning of his friends; yet he never caved. He knew that there must be a reason behind all of the calamities that were taking place BUT he did ask God why.

Many times, even with Job, God doesn’t appear to answer our question. We can rationalize away the reasons for our unanswered pleading; however, until recently I never truly knew the reason why God doesn’t appear to answer our questions. In his book, ” Three Philosophies of Life,” Dr. Peter Kreeft points out that, “Because of what God is, he cannot show up in answer to Job’s (or our) questions. God will not answer Job because God is not the Answer Man, or Responder. He is the Initiator, or Questioner. He is not second but first, “In the beginning…” God is not an answer to our questions, he is not an object or something to be grasped, he IS.

If we reflect back upon Scripture, Jesus was often questioned by those opposed to him, and interestingly enough, he never directly answered their questions. He would often answer their questions WITH a question. This subtlety is often overlooked or we chalk it up to those darn Pharisees or Sadducees daring to question Jesus about his mission. Do we turn that thought process back onto ourselves when we question God? If we really think about it, who are we to question the Creator of the Universe? That will truly humble you. Ironically, God doesn’t mind the questioning, or even when we vent our anger and frustration at him. He created us to be in communion with him and though we are fallen, he wants us to turn to him and through everything, to trust in him, fully.

Job felt that God was far from him and only when he cried out for God not to abandon him and was more thankful for not losing God’s friendship than he was sad for losing everything earth had to offer. God showed up in the end to let Job know his faith and trust in him is something he can always count on, even if it doesn’t seem like God responds to you. We have to persevere, persist in our faith in the one true God, and he will fulfill his promise to always be with us. God is the one with the questions for us. Will we desert him when times are tough, or will we answer his “why” with trust and love in him?

A New Form Within

We, as Catholics, are often looked upon like we are a little bit crazy. We have the men who walk around in robes, wear funny, pointed hats and never marry; we even have ladies who shave off their hair before donning head coverings and vowing never to leave their cloistered environments. But the thing that sends people over the edge, when it comes to the Catholic faith, is the fact that they think we worship a piece of bread.

As a child, I had a fascination with that round, white thing that everyone but me was getting to eat at Church. I asked many questions to my parents, teachers, and our Priest. I was told it was Jesus but couldn’t figure out how he could be in all those little, white, wafers at the same time. My mind wasn’t able to comprehend the teachings about the Eucharist so, as I grew up, I received it and believed it, because I was told it was so.

God is mysterious and has presented himself to us in many ways. When we read the Old Testament, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush; yet, didn’t burn up the bush. He appeared to the Israelites escaping from Egypt as a pillar of fire to guide them. In the Gospel of Luke, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and at Pentecost as tongues of fire upon the Apostles. God takes “another form” because we, as human beings, need a familiar or earthly form to wrap our minds around the complex being that is God.

When God made a covenant with Abraham and asked him to leave the comfort of his home and travel to a foreign land, Abraham listened to God and believed. The covenant was established with a sacrifice of animals and the shedding of their blood. God even tested Abraham’s faith with asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac (who was around 30 some years old and could have easily fought off his father) but was spared. The faith of both Abraham and the willing faith of his son Isaac to be a “type” of Jesus, knowing that God could bring Isaac back to life and having such all-consuming faith in God, shows us that we should have the same strength of faith.

When God sent Jesus to be in human form, it was for our benefit. Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies of the Old Testament about there being one final sacrifice that is completed for all mankind, and the forgiveness of sins. It is a form of a final covenant between God and man. Whenever there was a covenant between people, there was a sort of “formula” that was followed. After an agreement was reached, it was “sealed” with a meal. The meal included, bread, wine and usually some form of meat (which required killing and draining of blood.) Also, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1334, “In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator.”

Jesus uses what we know. He knew the symbolizing of the breaking of the bread, drinking of the wine were things the Jews knew to be important. When He told his disciples, “This is my body, and this is my blood” many left, saying it was too hard of a saying to be believed. Jesus wanted to leave something behind after his crucifixion for us to know that He would always be with us and He did so by establishing the Eucharist. St. Thomas says, “In this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood and is something that cannot be apprehended by the senses, but only by faith.” This is why we don’t see any outward changes to the host which has changed interiorly. St Cyril says, “Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he IS the truth, he cannot lie.”

Changing of form wasn’t something unusual for Christ. He transformed himself on the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, John, and James. He also appeared to his disciples in “another form” after his resurrection on the road to Emmaus and wasn’t recognized by them until he sat down at a meal and broke the bread with them. Jesus changing the interior form without changing the outward appearances of the species of bread and wine, allow us to respond to His “other form” with faith and reverence. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states, “Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.” This helped me understand that Christ is fully present in the most minute piece of the species bread or drop of wine that is offered to us and we must inspect our hands for any particles and eat them, if receiving Him this way. We must also remember that we must not receive Him if we aren’t fully prepared to. This means fasting at least 1 hour before receiving, being without mortal sin, and being in full communion with the beliefs of the Catholic faith; otherwise, we can condemn ourselves by receiving Him unworthily.

As Jesus requested his disciples to “do this in memory of me” our priests were commissioned to continue to offer the Eucharist as a sacrifice by re-presenting to the Father, the Body of His Son, as an offering for us, for the forgiveness of our sins, for the Church, and all that we as the Body of Christ offer with Him in Thanksgiving and Praise of the One True God.

No longer do I look upon that little, round, piece of bread as something I was told is Jesus. I know what has taken place by the Holy Spirit and through the sacrifice offered up by the priest who is representing Jesus to us in “another form.” I recognize Jesus is truly with us and allows us to consume him, so he is within us in body and in spirit, and that will forever change MY form if I let it.

We Need to Keep What is True, True.

The world, as I know it, is falling into ruin and most of us are just sitting here watching it happen. Sorry for the Debbie-downer intro but it’s really true. Our world has become so secularized, and unfortunately with the advent of the internet, propaganda can be spread instantly and the “truth” twisted to fit an agenda, if it’s the truth at all.

There is a global tendency to accept anything and everything; if it makes the person happy, it’s all good. From the 60’s where peace, love and harmony was the mantra, our culture twisted what is the essential goodness from God ( TRUE peace, love and harmony) into a perversion.  Indifferentism is now the norm, and is defined as the belief that differences of religious beliefs are of no importance. Society tells us to believe whatever you want to believe because, it really doesn’t matter what religion you belong to they are all equally true, as long as you believe in a god and are a good person. We are told that our sincerity of heart is most important and whatever means we use to help us get closer our god is right. Unfortunately, there is no clear definition of what is “good” or is my God the same as yours. These ethical dilemmas make this theory preposterous. The Catholic Church brings up a good point when considering indifferentism. If these “irreconcilable beliefs are equally pleasing to God, it is to say that God has no preference for truth and denies reason.”  If all religions are basically the same, it would be like building a house with no experience, using only certain materials or tools and expecting the house to turn out just fine because it doesn’t really matter what I use or don’t use. It just doesn’t make any sense!

Relativism is another truly evil perversion that has permeated our societies and is indoctrinating our children with the beliefs that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolutes. Our culture is slowly but surely eliminating the moral truths instituted by God by insisting that in order for something to be true, it has to be related to the here and now ( as if we are the ultimate decision-maker about what is true!) If truths, which have existed since the beginning of time, can now be re-defined, what will our world look like in the near future?

Those who hold the beliefs of indifferentism and relativism are slowly taking over positions of power in our society. Media, Corporations, Government, and even some “Religious institutions” are propagating their agendas through as many sources as they can. For instance, elected school board members and state legislators have now mandated schools to educate our children in all forms of what they call “Normal” sexual preferences ie: homosexual, transgender, pangender and other names that will make up the new gender “norms” because of relativistic beliefs that gender can change. They are using the tactic of preventing bullying of children who are different ( which is a good in itself) and twisting it into the education of children to accept this “difference” as a norm and not someone who needs mental help. Phycologists have even gone so far as to remove the term “Gender Dysphoria” as a mental disorder from their texts!  Back in the day, children were taught they can be whatever they wanted to be when they grew up. Well ladies and gentlemen, today, those children will be taught they can become whatever they want to become. Little Johnny can now turn into little Jenny if he want to and no one, NOT EVEN HIS PARENTS can prevent him from doing so in certain states. God has to be so disappointed in our world.

We’ve stopped listening to the truth that He supplied us with at the very beginning of creation. We decided we wanted to know it all and through Adam and Eve lost the graces we had in abundance. Our families have turned their backs on God. No longer do parents consider Sundays a day for the Lord. No longer do families attend Mass, pray and commit themselves to learning more about their faith and instructing their children. Today’s youth are more than just troubled, they are IN TROUBLE. The millennial generation have the highest percentage of perfectionists, depression, and suicide than all other generations. The development of constant communication and connection with “friends” via the internet, have these children posting perfect life scenarios, perfect appearances, perfect amount of friends or “likes” and because they have little to no TRUE social skills, they become affected by the responses they get to their postings. Depression now can be caused by a random reaction to something they said online, it’s unfathomable for those of us who grew up without the internet to think a typed response, on some computer or gadget, could throw someone into a fit or sink them into a pit of despair.

We, as a society, are at a precipice. We MUST act against the evil which is taking over the world at a rapid pace or we will fall. We must turn back to the family unit that God established as the way to combat evil. Parents must give the Scriptures priority in the home because God’s Word is the necessary foundation. Satan has done a masterful job at keeping families so busy that they have little time to read the Bible, pray the Rosary, or attend religious education classes or small group study at Church. Spending time in God’s Word, both individually and as a family is essential. If Satan can keep families too busy for the Scriptures, they will lose their joy, strength, and effectiveness in this world. Satan, using busyness as his tool, has robbed many families of the time God wants them to spend with each other. This results in a lack of both closeness and enjoyment in each other. Husbands and wives need time together to nurture their relationship. They need time with their children if they are going to fulfill the Scriptural mandate of training up a child in the way he should go (Prov 22:6). This training takes time and focus, both of which are lost when lives become frantically busy and stressed. Ironically, the less time we give to God, the more anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed we become. The family needs time when the earplugs are out, Internet is closed down, and televisions are off, and when the needs of family members are lovingly met. Time must be taken for reading and praying together and for eating and playing together. As families live out God’s plan for them, God will be glorified, families blessed and society will benefit. We can’t pervert the family, instituted by God, by claiming that it is anything other than a Father, Mother and children. This is they way God intended a family unit to be. We aren’t saying there aren’t circumstances outside the man, woman, child unit; however, that wasn’t God’s plan for the family.

We have to remember those who struggle with situations outside the truth of God’s plan, should still be loved as a child of God. We cannot shun, bully or insult those who are different from us; however, while not judging their souls, we are allowed to speak the truth to them in love. Jesus actually wants us to speak the truth to people who are doing wrong. He wants all God’s children to believe in Him so they may be with Him in eternity. We must start speaking up. We need to brace ourselves against those who will call us intolerant, or judging. Those are the people who have been lied to by the father of lies as he knows the words of Jesus better than we do. He will use Our Lords words in ways that “appear” good ( we have no right to judge others lest we be judged); however, Jesus commands us to speak the truth in all things.

Truth is good, right and just; evil is bad, wrong and unjust. We must not allow this to change.



Grace: It’s not just something said before meals

The word, “Grace” has been on my mind lately. Maybe it is the result of a fruitful Lenten season for me, or the fact that the Easter season is upon us, I am not sure. I don’t think I’ve ever really taken the time to reflect on what the word, “Grace” really means in my life. Many letters from St. Paul often begin with the salutation, ” May the Grace of Our Lord, Jesus Christ be with you, ” or we hear something similar during Mass; however, most of the time,  those words just went in one ear and out the other, without ever truly understanding their meaning.

The Catechism of the Catholic church says, ” Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives to us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (CCC 1996) We can do nothing, on our own, to merit this grace. It is a total gift from God. When we chose to receive this grace we grow in our journey to know and love God more fully. There are two types of grace that help us on this journey: Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace.

The most important type of grace for our Salvation is called Sanctifying Grace. This is the grace we receive at Baptism which is supernatural. This gift, God freely gives to us through the Sacraments, infuses the Holy Spirit into our souls to heal it from original sin so that we may be able to live in the way God calls us to live and act with the love of God in all things. We are infused with this Grace when we participate with the Sacraments that are available within the Catholic Church and it stays with us for eternity. So many Graces are available to us, it is amazing how many people don’t take advantage of such things as reconciliation, confirmation, and most especially, the Eucharist. Each time we participate in a Sacrament, God’s graces are given to us so that we may grow in the love and knowledge of Our Lord. We incorporate the gift of Grace through faith and live out those gifts through Holy Spirit in those things we do for others. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a little different than the other Sacraments, in that, having a marriage that is recognized by the Catholic Church as valid, holy and Sacramental, blesses the couple with supernatural graces that will be of help in times of challenge, a source of comfort in times of sorrow, and helps the couple grow in love for one another.

The second type of grace called, “Actual Grace” occurs most often during times of immediate need. It is a grace which God disposes upon a person during a time of prayer, or at a particular moment in time, and it does not last. It is more of an instantaneous type of grace that prompts you to act upon it. Once you receive this grace and act upon it, it disappears. While this type of grace is fleeting, we can become more aware of this type of grace the more we open ourselves to it by quieting our minds and soul, responding to, and recognizing when we have this “prompting” by the Holy Spirit within us.

I’ve recently learned that when we allow graces to fill us, we have less of a chance to sin. For instance, if we ask for the grace of forgiveness, the more we are able to forgive and not harbor resentment and unforgiveness toward another.  As the Angel Gabriel greeted Mary with the salutation, ” Hail full of Grace, ”  we have to understand that if someone is “full of grace” they cannot have within them any stain of sin. We only know of two people that were without sin, Jesus and his Blessed Mother.

During the Passion of Our Lord, He freely gave himself as an offering to God, as “justification for the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.” (CCC 2019) Jesus was always without sin. He never took our sin upon himself to “cover our sins with his blood” as so many Protestants like to believe. The offering of Jesus, the God-Man, who was without sin, on our behalf, was meritorious in itself and justified before God for our Salvation.

God so loves us that we only need to ask for His Graces which he so freely wants to bestow upon us. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are manifestations of God’s graces and include: wisdom, understanding, good counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear/wonder of the Lord. With these gifts, along with the virtues of faith, hope and charity, we can do the will of God and live a good, moral life and be an example to others.

During this Easter season, let us remember the true meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. May we empty ourselves of the “clutter” of our minds, sit in silence and prayer so we may hear the voice of Our Lord that comes to us in a whisper. May we also be not afraid to act upon the Grace which the Holy Spirit desires of us and be more of an example of Christ’s love for us through our actions.


When Virtues All But Disappear

I’ve been wanting to write for a while now; however, within the last month, I’ve witnessed such a gamut of hate, rejection, accusations, and bullying within my State and Country, I’ve just been at a loss for words. I’ve prayed for and sought guidance to understand what is happening to our society and it was finally revealed to me: we have lost or rejected God’s virtues.

So many people in our society “claim” to be Christian. As a matter of fact, in a 2017 Pew Research report, “80% of Americans say they believe in God or some higher force, while 99% of Christians say they believe in the God of the Bible.” Interestingly, the same study shows that only, “49% of those under the age of 50, and 43% of those under 30 believe in God.” This is a startling fact, especially when you consider our Country was based on the freedom to express our religious beliefs in God. Now, basically, half of our children do not believe in God and they are raising their children without any sort of belief in God, and we wonder what is happening to our Country.

So many of our separated brothers and sisters ( those who do not believe in the Catholic faith) believe they are “saved” by “Faith Alone.” For them, reciting the “Sinner’s Prayer” and accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior will “Guarantee” their salvation, no matter what they do with the rest of their life. It seems so un-fulfilling to me, that someone who makes this claim, will have nothing to work toward, other than a sort of “pyramid scheme,” of making sure they get another soul to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” and on and on it goes. According to Dr. David Anders, ” Life is a rich, textured, many faceted thing with enormous beauty, pain, horror and amazing panoply of experiences. What meaning and value are these, if the only thing that I can do of eternal value, is to convert another soul or myself to be converted? Faith alone falls apart because it doesn’t take into account the essentials to living out our faith through Virtues.”

We are so fortunate, as our Catholic faith explains, to have the 7 Virtues which affect human beings in the material and spiritual aspects of life. All human beings can acquire the 4 Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. With these 4 Cardinal Virtues, humans can use their intellect and free will to live a moral life. This opens the door to accepting God’s love; thus, receiving the Theological Virtues which helps to prepare us to live as children of God and prepare us for eternal life.

The first Cardinal Virtue of Prudence gives people the ability of reason to see what is good and evil. In today’s world, we are definitely seeing a lack of prudence due to the lack of moral choices. The Virtue of Justice allows humans to respect others rights, equality and to serve the common good. This has been twisted and perverted in our society, so much so, that if you don’t agree with a side purporting someone’s “rights” you are called evil, close-minded, and hateful.

We are called to use the Virtue of Fortitude almost on a daily basis as we need courage to stand-up for what is right and good. Often we find ourselves confronted by those who have been deceived by the evil one, thinking they are standing up for what they consider to be right – oftentimes, what is left out of their consciousness is the fact “It Is Not Good.”

The last Cardinal Virtue is Temperance. Our culture, especially in America, is a “more, more, more,” society. No longer do we moderate our desires for goods or pleasures. “If it feels good, do it” was a slogan that infiltrated past generations and has become “my right”, or “the norm,” in today’s world. Temperance is something we all need to start implementing and we can do so in our lives by doing such simple things as, decreasing our need for shopping, watching how we speak to others or holding our tongue when we really want to speak out. Skipping a favorite snack or dessert and/or denying ourselves a certain pleasure, every now and then, can be a small way we show our children and Our Lord how much we love Him for all the sacrifices He made for us.

I have often wondered how people can be so heartless, cruel, ruthless or just plain evil. The lack of Theological Virtues, especially Charity, explains this well.

When the Theological virtues are bestowed upon people, they will be drawn toward God. The first Theological Virtue of Faith allows people to commit themselves entirely to God and live out the Christian values and works He expects of us; however, without the gift of Charity (Love), the believer cannot increase in the Virtue of Faith and draw himself completely to Christ. I have personally experienced this. When you have hate in your soul, you are kind of spiritually “blocked” from drawing closer to The Lord. Think about it, if God IS love, why would He want someone who has hate in their heart to be near Him? Once the hate in my heart was gone, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, prayer, forgiveness, and a miraculous blessing, I finally felt the burden of hate lifted from me and a peace filled my heart and soul and I was more able to receive the Theological Virtues.

The Theological Virtue of Hope is the trusting that Heaven is real, desiring eternal life with God, as well as, trusting in love that the promises of Christ are true and we will have eternal happiness with Him. Imagine, so many people have no Hope. They cannot trust or love because they have not been able to experience the Virtue of Hope. God designed us to progress through the Cardinal Virtues and develop those habits in order to open our hearts to the gifts of the Theological Virtues, through the most important Virtue which unites them all, Charity.

God IS love and the Theological Virtue of Charity is what gives all the other Virtues life! When we have the Virtue of Charity (Love) we Christians are able to experience the love for God and the love for others. Saint Paul teaches us that the greatest of the Virtues is Love. When we are applying Charity to the fullest in our lives, we are able to experience true joy, peace and mercy, as we start to see things through the eyes/perspective of God.

It is interesting how this has manifested in my life. All my life, I have been one who has to be constantly “moving” a part of my body in one way or another. Even as an infant, I rocked my crib so hard it moved it across the wooden floor of my bedroom. I often remember sitting quietly and having to move my leg or foot for some strange reason. Before going to sleep, I’d have to “wiggle” my leg or foot in order to put myself to sleep, to the unfortunate displeasure of my husband who would often ask me to stop moving. I never considered it to be an “issue;” however, when I received the gift of charity and the profound peace that entered my soul, I noticed the “moving” I’ve done my whole life, quite literally stopped. I often wondered if I had some interior anxiety that I was repressing but expressing with my movements. All I know is that now, I rarely “wiggle” unless I’m engrossed in a knuckle-biting sporting event, and for that, I’m thankful.

Humanity was designed by our Creator to incorporate the 7 Virtues of the Catholic faith; unfortunately, we are witnessing, at this very moment, a culture devoid of Virtues.

Regrettably, the badly Catechized lay Catholics have reproduced and ignored their faith and responsibility to grow/learn and teach the faith to themselves and their children. No longer do we see Churches filled, Parochial schools with waiting lists, or parents taking on their roles as primary educators of the faith to their children.

If we want Society to make an about-face rather quickly, we must instill Cardinal Virtues and call upon the Holy Spirit to infuse within us and our children, the Theological Virtues we receive by being true followers of Christ and the Holy Catholic Church that He founded. We know that we, and those who are in positions of leadership, are not perfect – just as Saint Peter was not perfect; however, he was chosen by Jesus to lead his sheep. Through the Graces we receive in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, we can strive to be like Jesus in all we do, with love for Him and our neighbor.



Don’t Waste Another Advent

This time of year is one of my favorites. I love seeing the Christmas decorations on people’s homes, pulling out old, handmade items my children made in years past, and finding some new ornament for Grandchildren. The time leading up to Christmas used to be frantic, with activities atthEVNIGB1Xschool, parties to attend, and figuring out family gathering schedules, just to name a few. In those days, even when I attended Mass all during Advent, the candles which were lit each week, were a sign of how far behind I was in my preparation and caused a bit of panic to ensue. Oh what a waste of so many Advent seasons did I experience by not knowing the TRUE meaning of Advent.

As a Catholic, I’ve learned that the Season of Advent allows us to prepare for the coming of Christ in the human form, as well as, preparing our hearts for the second coming of Jesus. Interestingly, the 40 days of Advent, as well as, the number 40 being referenced in many other areas of the Bible, refer to the 40 weeks of gestation of a human child. It takes the symbolic number 40 and associates it with formation, preparation and expected arrival of a notable person or event.  When you really think about it, the God of the Universe, the one who made ALL, who is and always will be, comes to us at Christmas in the innocent, humble, dependent form of an infant and allows himself to be taken care of. How much does our God love us to come to us like this? In 1 John 4: 9-11, it says, ” In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.”

In the second half of the meaning of Advent, which I feel is sometimes not emphasized enough, is the second coming of Jesus. The Advent Wreath is a circle, which has no beginning or end: So we call to mind how our lives, here and now, participate in the eternity of Gods plan of salvation and how we hope to share eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. The wreath is made of fresh plant material, because Christ came to give us new life through His passion, death, and resurrection. Preparing ourselves during Advent is similar to the way we prepare ourselves during Lent. We are to offer prayers, penance, and sacrifice in order to be fully ready to receive our Lord at Christmas and to be prepared for His second coming. The candles within the Advent Wreath represent to us the symbols of Penance, Preparation/Prayers and Sacrifice; the pink candle symbolizes the same but highlights the third Sunday of Advent as Gaudete Sunday, when we rejoice because we are now half-way finished with our preparations. As we light the candles, the fire that burns represents the light of Jesus, which can never be extinguished and lights our path to righteousness. Each lit candle shows us the progression of our preparedness and readiness for receiving Our Lord and guides us along our journey of Advent. During the Season of Advent, we have the wonderful feast of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This is sometimes confused by people who think this is about Our Lord (probably because we are concentrating on the season of Christ’s coming); however, this is the feast of the conception of Our Blessed Mother. Mary, who was conceived without sin, in order to bear within her womb, the Savior of the World. Since God has no time constraints, He is able to use the merits of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus to allow Mary to be conceived without original sin. It only makes sense that the Mother of Our Lord had to be without sin in order to bear the Son of God. We read in the Old Testament, Moses built the Tabernacle to house the Holy of Holies ( or God’s Presence) within the Ark of the Covenant. The cloud of the Lord covered the Tabernacle, just as Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the Most High overshadowed her and she would conceive a child. She was the Tabernacle of Our Lord Jesus and had to be without sin to do so. We celebrate this, as well as, her atoning for the sin of Eve, who was looking to become like God by doing what she willed. Mary, on the other hand, accepted the will of God and let it be done unto her. During our Advent preparations we should do well to copy the actions of Mary and allow God to do as He wills in our lives. She is the perfect model of Holiness and we should take the time in our reflections and prayer to ask Her for her intercession in helping us to be more Holy.

As we remember the symbols of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Advent and Christmas Season, may you always remember to put Jesus first, others second, and yourselves third, as we turn our lives, worries, anxieties, and hopes over to God and let Him rule this new year of our lives.




Is God Talking To You In Your Head?

Recently, after settling my 4 1/2-year-old granddaughter into bed for her nap, I noticed she had her Rosary draped over the light next to her bed. She has always been fascinated with Our Blessed Mother and Jesus and I thought it might be a good time to introduce her to the real way to use the Rosary ( instead of using it as a pretty “Jesus necklace” when going to Church.) So, I held it and told her this is used to pray to Jesus and God and there are special prayers for each bead. She wanted to know which beads were for Mary and which for God so, I showed her and recited the Our Father and the Hail Mary. She listened intently and then asked what temptation meant. When I explained, she said it was the Holy Spirit that helped us not to be tempted to do bad things and I was happy she understood. So, I left her to take her nap.

My daughter and I were conversing while little Chloe was supposed to be sleeping; however, we heard her singing and talking (which is pretty normal when she doesn’t want to actually sleep during nap time) so, we didn’t think anything of it. After about 20 minutes, Chloe opens her door and walks out to talk to us. She had a look on her face that I haven’t seen too often as it was a combination of confused, excited, embarrassed, and questioning. She shyly told us that she had been talking to God and singing to Him. Then she asked us if we ever heard God talk to us in our head. I could tell she was really interested in our reaction/answer so, I quickly answered that sometimes I have felt God telling me to trust him, not to worry and that He loves me, things like that. She had a look of genuine relief and when I asked her what did God say to her she was excited to respond. She said she was telling God she loved him and wanted to be his friend when God told her that he will always be her friend and she heard it in her head. My daughter and I told her she was so lucky to have had God talk to her and that He will always be her friend. She kind of giggled and went back to her room.

Prayer has been a big topic in our home for the last few weeks as my husband and I are doing two entirely different things relating to prayer. He is in a small group at our Church learning about Meditative prayer, while I am helping with 5th grade Religious Education and we are discussing the different kinds of prayers. Watching the reaction of a 4 1/2-year-old, who has never been told she would actually “hear” the voice of God after praying, really brings home the words of St. Matthew, ” Jesus said, let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Mt. 19:14 No matter how much we learn about prayer, types of prayer, kinds of prayer and offer prayers, we must always remember to humble ourselves before the Lord. We would do well to follow the words of our Lord in the gospel of St. Luke when he says, ” Truly I tell you, if anyone does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, he will never enter it.”

As adults, we often approach serious prayer in a meticulous way. Making sure we have the “steps” down pat, wanting to say the prayers just so, often forgetting to come before the Lord with our hearts open bare. Exposing our ignorance, faults, pride and worldliness, instead of coming to Him as a child; innocent, joyful, loving and open to being guided in our ways. God wants that relationship with us; He wants to allow us to be in full union with Him, in this life, as well as, in the next.

Our paths to Holiness require us to be on this journey of Spiritual Union with God. That is our ultimate goal and it is God’s ultimate desire for us. Our hearts need to pour out in prayer, our desire to love God, as he wishes us to love him. He will guide us along our journey and will always be there, whether we receive spiritual gifts from him or not. If we truly desire to grow in our paths to Holiness, we will be taken on a journey through prayer that is overwhelmingly joyful and desolate; however, even though some times may be difficult, we must persist, be faithful, love God, and trust in Him. When we do this, we will also be able to “hear God’s voice in our head” and know He is always our friend, too!

To Whom Shall I Go?

My brain has been on overload for the last week. As a Catholic, I, along with so many other faithful, have been rocked by the news regarding cover-ups, lies, sexual perversity and assault, by those in positions of power within the Catholic Church. My heart hurts and I know Our Lords heart has been wounded by those with whom He called to lead His sheep.

I’m not sure if I’m more angry at those who committed the atrocities or saddened for those who were victims. So many people are voicing their opinions about the way to seek justice, punish the perpetrators, “clean house,” and or leave the Catholic Church altogether. I decided I wasn’t able to sort all of this out in my brain so, I went to Adoration and turned it all over to Jesus.

Adoration is probably the best place to be at this time. Our Church needs the faithful to continue praying for it, for those Holy Priests, Bishops and Cardinals who will have a very difficult time through all of this. They will be confronted with anger, threats, and a shaking-up of their own faith and commitment to God. I’ve already heard of a good, Holy priest being verbally accused of being a child molester and other priests wondering if they should go travel in their clerics or not, just so they don’t get harassed. It’s sad to know how a few, terribly bad men, can cause the whole lot to be blanketed with such hatred by the public.

Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that about every 500 years or so, the Catholic church will experience a scandal that will rock it to its very core. Well, it’s been about 500 years since the Reformation and while I would have preferred not to have to live though this; we now have one of our worst scandals.

While I was sitting before the Blessed Sacrament, I was pondering what it was that I could do. I knew about the traditions of prayer and sacrifice; however, one word kept popping up into my head, love. I am to love. When we love, we are letting that part of God fill us; because, what is God other than love itself? He chose us before he created the Universe, before He created the earth, and before He even thought of a raindrop.  He loves us so much He wants us to be with Him forever, in eternity. It’s hard to imagine that kind of love. Even when we try to compartmentalize and think of our greatest love; such as, the love of our children, spouse, and parents, God’s love for us is so much greater than that, we just can’t fully comprehend or even imagine it!

God wants us to love. In order to do that, He laid out guidelines, just as a parent would set boundaries for their children, because they love them; He created the commandments for us. In Matthew 22, 34-39, the Pharisees asked Jesus which commandment of the law is the greatest and He replied, ” You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Jesus also spoke of the second commandment which is like it: ” You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

When we love God, we turn to him in thanksgiving and in sorrow. God never stops loving us; He never leaves us. We have to remember this when it comes to the Church that Jesus founded. He has promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against it; however, He did not say the Church would be uncorrupted. Man is corrupt and if a mere mortal is placed in the seat of Peter, as a Cardinal, Bishop or priest, he is still just a man. The evil one can infiltrate his thoughts and actions if he allows it. Satan tempted Jesus after his 40 days in the desert with power and prestige; however, unlike Jesus who cast Satan away, men can be lured by the sin of pride, rather than forgetting oneself for the sake of another.

Now, more than ever, we must pray for our Church. We must purge the prideful, arrogant, and sinful men from our ranks and build a Holy, Apostolic Church which has LOVE at its foundation. We can’t abandon the Church which Jesus founded; as a matter of fact, we should be praying harder, fasting, and sacrificing more, so we may offer to the Father our love for His Son and the sacrifice He gave of himself for us. I keep thinking of the words of Saint Peter, in John 6, 67-68 when Jesus asked his Apostles, ” Do you also want to leave?  Simon Peter answered him, ” Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

God’s love never leaves us no matter what we do, say or neglect. I can’t let my love for the Church Jesus founded just go away because of the sins of man. Where would I go? I choose to stay, pray and love more. Do you?

Sign Off and Listen For the Whisper

You have to be made of tough stuff if you want to become holy. I was going to add, ” in this day and age;” however, when I read about the Saints and Martyrs of long ago, they also endured tough times – even more so than today. They were often trying to avoid physical torture, imprisonment or even death for their beliefs, whereas today, (at least in the United States) we have laws and rights allowing us our religious liberty without fear of governmental punishment. Unfortunately, our country is starting to become one in which our freedom of religious expression is being put on trial.

We hear about minority groups being “offended” or insulted by someone’s particular beliefs and usually, these groups are ones who have infiltrated large organizations who have some kind of influence on the media. It used to be that media reported news fairly and impartially; that is far from the truth in today’s world. Whatever particular agenda these groups have, they are able to manipulate those in their control to get that message out there to the public. Media, politicians, Universities and even religious sects can bombard us with so many versions of “the agenda” we become immune or worse, start to believe what they are “selling.” Being told things like moral relativism should be embraced, everyone can believe and live however they feel is right, and seeing violence, poverty, sexual impurity and hate, on a daily basis, is Satan’s way of manipulating our thoughts and minds. Those of us, who are trying to become holy, do not have to deal with the threats and punishments saints of the past had to; however, today, we are fighting with the torturing of our minds and death of our souls if we aren’t careful. With all of these influences, there is no way we can achieve holiness by our own power.

God created us to be saints. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2013) states, ” All are called to Holiness.” Only with God’s grace can we become saints. We must cooperate with God and follow where he leads, even in our ordinary ways of life. God is interested in our friendship and love. We must spend time with God in order to develop that friendship and love he so desires of us. Tuning out, turning off, and letting go of our technologically driven life for a few minutes each day will allow us to draw closer to Him. How can we expect to develop a friendship if we don’t give our undivided attention to Our Loving Father and His Son each day? It is often said that God speaks to us in a whisper. If we have everything “turned on,” how can we expect to hear that whisper amidst the chaos? Many times, people say they cannot be alone or they cannot stand the silence, I wonder why. Learning to be alone, not always having to be “doing” something, embracing the silence, and allowing yourself to be open to drawing closer to God and listening for that whisper will change your life. With these little changes in our behavior,  we learn that, “To be a saint requires nether extraordinary actions or works nor the possession of exceptional charisms.” Pope Benedict XVI  We only have to let God work through us – who’d have thought it would be that easy!

Once we have allowed God to work through us, truly guiding our lives, we can begin to grow in holiness and understanding that God has always been with us. We begin to understand that there isn’t a single moment God is not communicating with us in some way. He may use nature, interior thoughts, a loved one or friend or any particular event. As we grow deeper in our Spiritual life, we will realize that every event is a word of God to us. He is in everything that happens and it requires a deep faith to recognize Him in everyday, ordinary incidents. It is difficult to think that the God of the Universe can be present in our individual daily lives. We expect to see a heavenly Christ who reigns above all; however, to believe God can be so human and involved in our mundane lives is not only difficult for us, it was difficult for those during the early Church.

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus returns to his native land and those who knew him couldn’t accept that he was truly the Son of God. They questioned how he gained his wisdom, how he could perform his mighty deeds, wasn’t he just a carpenter, a relative of many and was born the son of Mary? They had Jesus right in front of them and couldn’t see Him for what he is! They couldn’t accept his humanity and the influence he could make upon their lives. We may do the same thing by not recognizing someone who is saintly among our acquaintances unless they do something extraordinarily holy. We have difficulty believing someone we know could be so ordinary could be so holy; unless of course, they suffer piously or we discover something about them after they die that elevates them to “sainthood” in our eyes. We must remember that our faith teaches us that Christ lives within our hearts and we should pray for our eyes to be opened to seeing Christ in others, even those who may bother us, annoy us or even be related to us! Let us remember to take the time to tune out Satan’s distractions and  develop the friendship and love for God our Father and Jesus Christ his son. Once we can do that, we will see the world and God’s people in a whole new way!

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Science and God – do they go together?

There are so many new, technological, advances happening, almost every minute of every day, that most of us aren’t even aware of. There are ways an artist can utilize a computer to “paint” images, artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly, and the medical field is advancing in its use of robotics, research and stem cell therapies.

I could just imagine my grandfather shaking his head in disbelief, if he knew some of the ways our modern culture uses technology. The first thing we think of is how everyone has to stay “connected.” Everyone is so technologically connected; however, we couldn’t be more disconnected from each other. So many young people these days (and some adults) don’t even know how to have an intimate conversation with another human being. They are so used to abbreviating their thoughts to everyone and no one, they become uncomfortable if a conversation lasts more than 5 minutes and heaven forbid, has a little substance to it. It makes me wonder, how are people conversing with God?

We don’t have the ability to send little text messages to God when the feeling moves us; however, when Jesus advised his followers to “pray constantly,” it kind of reminds me that our recognition of God, in the little things of our day, can be “mental” text messages to Our Loving Father. Reminding our children, young adults and other relatives that sending these little messages is a fantastic way to stay “connected” to Our Loving Father, as well as, Jesus, Mary and the Saints.

One of the wonderful things about texting, computers, and social media, is the fact that people are doing a lot of reading. I overheard some people in the bookstore talking about how they love the new technology of being able to receive books electronically; yet, they were IN A BOOK STORE. Apparently, there was something about being able to hold and turn the pages of a book that still attracted them to purchasing a printed form of a story. For me, the Bible is one book I need to be able to hear, see and feel as I read the Word of God. I believe the Bible was made just for those senses of ours. We can feel the thinness of the paper but know what powerful words they contain. We hear the rustle of the pages and know God speaks to us softly through His words. We see the gold lined pages and know they hold within them, the treasure which we seek. The Bible is an experience and I hope technology lovers don’t abandon it.

I know I’ll have some tech-y folks tell me how much good our society is for having it and I’d have to agree and disagree. I watched 3 out of 5 grandchildren be born via caesarean section and am so thankful we’ve got the technology to have those mother’s lives ( and most likely baby’s) saved through this procedure. I’ve also witnessed my Aunt’s heart transplant and survival, my Father’s open heart surgery, as well as, my own surgeries which have saved or improved my own life. We have stem cell therapies which use your own blood, extract the stem cells from it, and re-inject those cells back into areas of the body which can be strengthened, repaired or improved in some way; however, nothing is every guaranteed. Science sometimes goes too far. They’ve used DNA to clone animals, used stem cells from aborted fetuses, and are working on a type of artificial intelligence that will mimic a human and learn from the interaction and cues we present to them. Scary stuff. Some would argue that God has allowed us to progress in our scientific minds so we can achieve these wonders; doesn’t that mean it’s alright?

One of the definitions of science is, “The systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.” Those of us who believe in God, know that He created everything and has given us tools to discover his creations. Modern science is not only compatible with Christianity; it in fact, finds its origins in Christianity. Nothing that God has created is untrue. There is no square-circle, up-down, or male-female. Science helps us discover these truths in nature. When science starts to go down the slippery slope of twisting the truths of nature, that is where we start to have problems and begin to get out of control. I can’t even imagine how many failed clones were “created” before scientists “discovered” how to perfect it. What science cannot quantify, examine, or calculate is the conscience, the faith, and belief of said clone. So, then what? We have an animal who represents the one cloned; however, there is absolutely nothing that can analyze the interior of that being. Who knows if that particular animal has an interior torment.  So many failed scientific experiments have shown us that there is no such thing as an EXACT science. Even today, studies are being reproduced with more technologically advanced  techniques that disprove theories that were once considered error-proof.

God is error-proof. He doesn’t make mistakes. We, as Catholic Christians, have to remember this when discussing topics which the mainstream want to designate as humanistic or humanism in general. These terms refer to any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate. Those with the humanistic agenda believe what a person thinks or feels is most important and disregards religious beliefs or values that doesn’t allow a person to create their own set of values and ethics in which to live by. This is seen more and more in today’s culture and the underlying cause of this is relativism. If everyone can believe what they want, do what they want, and ignore the truth and values set for us by God, we will continue to spiral down that slippery slope of technology, until we don’t recognize that person next to us; because who knows….they might be a man-goat, just because that is what they identify as. Lord help us!

Thank goodness Jesus came to earth to save us from ourselves! This month of  July traditionally honors the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. It is the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, which cleanses from sin, therefore the Church developed a devotion to Jesus’ physical blood and its mystical power, just as it did for his Sacred Heart from which his blood poured out on the Cross. The most brilliant mind cannot explain the saving power of this Most Precious Blood. We do know that this Precious Blood is the truth of the Father, come down to us, in human form. We are blessed, as Catholics, that the Precious Blood of Jesus courses through the Church spiritually, giving eternal life to the Body of Christ through the sacraments. For this, we need no scientific explanation, we have received Grace through these sacraments which help us to believe and accept all the truths of the Catholic Church, science or no science!