Knowing What You’re Yearning For

Things of this world don’t seem to satisfy us for very long. Everyone is always looking for more, striving for something better, or having more meaning; yet, we never seem to satiate those deep hungers our hearts are yearning for. Many people have often sought out material dreams or passing relationships, when what they are really looking for is  peace and contentment; which, only God can provide.

Often, people who are both religious and non-religious complain of not “feeling God” in their lives when they are living as “good people,” or attend church regularly. They often question their continuing practice of praise and worship or even believing in a god that doesn’t seem to “show Himself” or have influence in their life. They believe that their lives are what they make of it, their rules are determined by a moral relativism that is different for everyone and no one should be intolerant to another or another’s viewpoint. This relativistic theory and belief of those living this way, doesn’t allow for truth of the moral laws instituted by God.

Tolerance was a Christian invention. I bet that would surprise many people, but I digress. Christians taught that we needed to be tolerant of those who differ both legally and socially. Governments cannot legally force certain religious beliefs on their citizens and we as Catholic Christians must continue to defend the rights of people to practice their religious beliefs no matter if their beliefs are the truth or not. However, it is our duty to proclaim Christ’s truth, in love, to them. Social tolerance is an ancient practice that Jesus instituted by calling on us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that includes our enemies and those who are of a different religion, ethnicity, race and moral beliefs. We are always called to pray for those who haven’t come to the fullness of truth into the Catholic Church and while we can be tolerant of others viewpoints and beliefs, we don’t have to agree with them. Also, we often hear the saying, “I don’t judge.” Judging the actions of others that go against the moral law is righteous; however, judging the state of one’s soul ( “he’s going to hell”) is unrighteous, as we never truly know the state of a person’s soul in the last minutes of their life.

God’s law is like an instruction manual for human beings. Knowing that our human nature would run amok without rules for living, we are given the moral laws and if we break God’s laws, we will experience brokenness and consequences for our actions. Just like a loving parent institutes rules for their children, God laws are meant to help his people avoid mistakes that lead to brokenness and sin, not just to restrict them and cause punishment. Unfortunately, many people see these laws as not pertaining to today’s culture and are too restrictive to apply to daily lives; so, those same people, when experiencing hardship or trauma, cry out and curse God because He doesn’t seem to be there for them, in their times of need. How can we push God and his moral laws out of our lives one minute and blame Him for not being there in the next?

When Adam and Eve said no to God’s laws, sin was introduced into the world; however, God didn’t give up on us. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17 God is love and he loves us unconditionally. We can only love if we are free and God gave us the ability to say yes or no to Him and His laws. The freedom of our wills to love is the essence of our purpose in life and eternity. God wants to have a relationship of love with us so we may have eternal life with Him, through our belief in His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Faith is a personal gift from God. Believing what He has revealed in our hearts through the Holy Spirit and to love, trust and have confidence in Him during all the times in our life, whether we can “feel” His presence or not. “Faith seeks understanding: It is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith and to understand better what He has ‘revealed’, a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love” CCC no.158

So, let us yearn for God’s love and unending mercy for us sinners. We can never be perfect; however, we can continue to grow in holiness by following the moral laws, learning more about our faith, and continuing to build a relationship with Our Lord through the Church that Jesus Christ founded.

 

 

 

 

 

Suffering Innocence

Right now, there is a toddler named Alfie who is suffering terribly. As many of you may know, his parents are being denied the right to remove him from the hospital – which discontinued his life support, after it was determined by his physicians that he was a “lost cause” and there wasn’t anything more they could do for him. He was expected to live less than 3 minutes once the support was removed; however, it’s been over 2 days since he was left to die and he is still fighting for his life.

When someone has to suffer, whether it be young or old, people always question why. Even Job, from Biblical times, cried out to the Lord as to why those who did no good never seemed to have to suffer.  Many will become angry at God or even question if there is a god. Even those who believe, have their faith truly tested during those times of trials and suffering of loved ones. Non-Christians struggle with the thoughts as to why a god would allow suffering of people, especially the young and innocent.

We know that God created us out of love and made the perfect home for us. There was no suffering, pain, or torment only the highest value in the universe: Love. God gave us the ability to love – willingly so we can decide whether or not to love, because love is a choice. We have been given free will but chose to reject God and turn from Him toward our own selfish ways. Obviously, this is where evil comes in.

It is often said that where good and evil are present, there will be suffering. Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good. God is present during all suffering and He is full of compassion to comfort those in the midst of their tears. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Notice God says in all things he work for the good of THOSE WHO LOVE HIM, not everyone loves God, and he respects their wishes and doesn’t interfere; however, he doesn’t cause evil.

The parallels between the innocent child Alfie sentenced to death by his doctors because he is a “lost cause” and the sentence of death for our innocent Lord Jesus Christ for the “lost cause” of mankind isn’t lost on me. Their sufferings have brought many people together, united in protest, outrage and sorrow; however, we are seeing the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity already emerging from Alfie’s situation. We know the death and resurrection of our Lord allowed the fullness of those virtues and graces to be infused into our lives through the Holy Spirit.

We can only pray that through this modern suffering of innocence, we will see the outcome of good if many more come to Our Lord and renew or start their relationship with God who is love incarnate. Let’s not give up the Hope.

 

Mary and The Rosary – what’s that all about?

Growing up Catholic, I remember receiving a Rosary for my First Communion. It was pretty, white, and came in a neat little case which I kept safely closed for decades. I never knew there was a specific way to pray the Rosary other than the little beads were the Hail Marys and the bigger ones were the Our Fathers. I think I had it in the back of my mind, that those beads were for little old ladies who came to Mass way early and were mouthing a zillion Hail Marys before Mass started, because they were close to dying and wanted to get some extra prayer credit of some sort. Other than that, I actually forgot about it, I’m ashamed to say.

Interestingly, after my miraculous blessing and feeling like I needed to make some sort of commitment to God as a form of gratitude, something nudged me to look for my Rosary. You have to know that I have purged and moved 12 times in my lifetime and some of them were major moves across the country so, I had little hope in finding it. Unbelievably, I actually found it and, like I had mentioned, it was safely closed inside its little case. I pulled it out and looked at it; it looked brand new. Ironically, my Mother-in-law makes Rosaries and I remembered she had given one to my husband and I when we had gotten married a few years prior and it came with directions! I found them and looked at how I was to pray the Rosary and I was bound and determined to memorize the order of the prayers and all the Mysteries. I think it took me every lunch hour for one summer to be able to recite everything without looking at my “cheat sheet.” That was all well and good; however, I wasn’t really focusing on the true meaning of each mystery and how they would bring you closer to Jesus by meditating on His life through those mysteries.

I think many Protestants (and many Catholics) don’t understand the honor we bestow on Our Blessed Mother for saying yes to becoming the “Theotokos,” which is Greek for “God Bearer” or “Mother of God.” I know, many people ask the question, how can a human be the mother of God? Here is where some really cool Biblical Typology comes in. I couldn’t wait to say that word, Typology. It means when a person or event in the Old Testament foreshadows (to suggest in advance) a person or event in the New Testament. I will be using a lot of Typology in my Blog because it is just mind-blowing when you understand just how much of it happens in the Bible.

In Trent Horn’s book, “Why We’re Catholic,” he mentions, “Mary is praised above all of God’s creatures because she has the most intimate relationship with God.” If you think about it, would the God of the Universe want someone to bear His son within her womb who wasn’t perfect in every way and without sin? Since the Lord pre-existed his own mother, and He isn’t confined to time and space like we are, He could make His perfect mother free of original sin, through His death on the cross. He poured out His abundant graces upon His mother at her conception; thus, she is called The Immaculate Conception.  The Ark of the Covenant carried God’s words written on stone tablets. Mary, The NEW Ark of the Covenant carried within her body, the word of God made flesh – Jesus Christ.

Mary is also called, “The New Eve” just as Jesus is called “The New Adam.” Eve was the mother of all of the living and Mary is the mother of all who obey the commandments and bear testimony to her Son (Rev 12:17) Another Biblical Typology reference is the fact that Eve said yes to the Serpent/Lucifer allowing sin to enter the world while Mary said yes to Gabriel, allowing salvation to enter the world through her cooperation. After coming to realize the true gift Mary gave us by saying yes, we have no other option but to honor her.

I feel that praying the Rosary honors Jesus through His Mother. Just as in the days of Solomon, when the Queen was the King’s mother (not his wife as many think), which he honored by sitting on his right side and others asked for her to intercede to the King on their behalf. We are able to ask Our Blessed Mother to intercede for us, to comfort us, and to pray for us to Her Blessed Son. What an easy thing to do in the midst of today’s world; I wish I would have started sooner.

Just Me, Myself and Why

It’s called Lukewarm. I was lukewarm. Lukewarm. That word doesn’t sound too bad; until you really think about it. It’s not quite hot, but warmer than cold. It’s not really something I’d want to submerge myself in because I’d just end up feeling kind of chilled. It’s not where I’d want to be in my faith or love of God, but there I was, LUKEWARM. I was just there; a typical American Catholic, at least I’d consider myself typical. Of course I went to Mass pretty regularly and I made it to confession my obligatory once a year.  I went to Catholic school and made all my Sacraments; however, I had no real relationship with Our Lord and no real understanding of His Church. I was just going with the flow; in other words, lukewarm.

The Bible says, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rv 3:15-16)  As a Dental Hygienist for over 27 years, hearing that I’d be spit out of Jesus’ mouth is a visual that really had a resounding effect on me. I didn’t want to be something distasteful, or unpleasant so as to be spit out; however, I didn’t know where to begin to turn things around. I like to be orderly, organized and have a plan of action; however, I had no idea where to begin. So, I said a little prayer that had something to do with guiding me in the right direction, and then waited. Apparently, I thought I’d be given an epiphany or have some sort of revelation that would set me straight on the path of wherever I was supposed to go, yeah, not so much.

I remember during this time of wanting to do something to improve my “temperature;” that I was confronted by someone who left the Catholic Church and they gave a reference to the reformation and all the atrocities and corruption that occurred during that era. I was left feeling upset that I couldn’t refute what they were saying with any reasoning because I really didn’t know what went on during the history of the Catholic Church. So, I added the reformation to my list of things to investigate regarding the Church.

The turning point of my life and relationship with Our Lord, came during a joyous time in my life. I had re-married, this time in the Catholic Church, became a first time Grandmother, built a new home with my husband and life was the best it had ever been. Then I was slammed with news that took me down hard and fast. I won’t go into details; however, it was something that no one ever wants to hear and I was angry, resentful and filled with hate. Everything good I had in my life no longer mattered and I had to work hard to function day-to-day. My husband worried about me daily and nothing pulled me out of the pit I was in. I felt an ache in my soul that just wouldn’t go away and I was drowning. I don’t even remember if I prayed; but if I did, it was probably something like, “Help Me!”

I remember going to Mass; however, something usually set me off to crying and I’d not remember anything about what was read or any of the Homilies given by the new priest until one special Sunday. Our new priest wanted to do a special Mother’s Day blessing for all the mothers in attendance and this wasn’t unusual; however, unlike the typical blessing at the end of Mass, he wanted to do it at the beginning and he didn’t want the women to stand like we’d normally do, but he wanted the men to stand and extend their hands over the seated women while he read the blessing. This was the longest blessing I’ve ever heard. I remember feeling overwhelmed and then something like an electrical current moving from my toes to the top of my head. The current wasn’t painful but it was causing my body to shake pretty substantially. I was crying like usual and trying to wipe my nose with my tissue; however, I was shaking so badly it was difficult. I remember after the current left my head, I had a peace come over me like I’ve never felt before and I instantly stopped crying. My husband hadn’t turned around to look at me yet,  but later he said, “I thought you’d have been a bawling mess after that blessing.” I just knew that the Holy Spirit infused me with the peace and love of Our Lord at that moment and I would never be the same. My soul no longer ached, my hatred was dissolved, my heart was opened and I longed to begin my journey of loving the Lord and learning about the Church that He established by saying,  “That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell should not prevail against it.” ( Mat 16:18) In other words, I just had an infusion of some hot water and I was beginning to warm up to my Catholic faith.